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Joe Pursel writes: “With 18,000 ton, 425 foot TRIDENTs poking holes in the ocean, I often recall COMSUBLANT Freddy Warder’s memorandum when I still bear these submarines referred to as “boats.”


6  September  1958

Do you drive a “Tin Lizzie?” Whether you own the latest, smartest, most “ultra” car on the road, or an older, “practical and dependable” one, you would probably bear a bit of resentment against anyone calling your “pride and joy” a “Tin Lizzie.” The term was at one time in rather common usage when referring to Henry Ford’s early $295 models.

As   you    have guessed,      there  is      a    parallel here. I have been carrying on a campaign to stop people from calling our submarines “boats.” I have been in this outfit long enough to realize that I could put out directives until I am blue in the face and still not stop people from saying “boat.~ It is almost like legislating against someone talking with a southern drawl or a midwest twang . We   talk  this way  through years  of habit.  We say “boat” also from years of habit. As you know the term is derived from the name of our early submarines, “torpedo boats.” These were elementary small craft that were incapable of sustained operations at  sea. It was  a  feat to surface them after diving. They could be hoisted from the water by cranes on the dock or aboard o~r ships, thereby meeting the definition of “boat.” These early torpedo boats are a far cry from the fine submarines you operate today. It is my personal feeling that the submarine is the most feared and respected combatant in the world.

I  certainly realize  that  most  of  our  men use the term”boat”   without   any inference of degradation or belittling. But unfortunately people outside our service do not understand that we call our submarines “boats” more as a nickname than with genuine  pride.Most  people know  that  a boat is something less than a submarine. It is therefore inferred that since we operate a fleet of boats we are small potatoes and not deserving the designation of being on the first team. I know that this feeling many times colors the thinking of highly-placed persons sometimes possibly to the disadvantage of the submarine force.

I request that you, your officers and crew, refer to our submarines as “submarines” but not as “boats.” If we set the example by spoken and written word, I believe that we will in time educate the rest of the Navy and the civilian populace.

F.B. Warder


I  have  read,with  great  interest  and  dismay, the Editor’s comments in the January 1988 SUBMARINE REVIEW concerning the Navy’s submarine R&D programs and I take exception to his attack on the developmental decision to build the next generation of submarines with a single hull.

We  know  just  how difficult  it  has  been  to  get the SEAWOLF project moving. In the current austere budget environment holding on to that project  will  be  extraordinarily difficult.  Every swipe at that plan will aid those opponents or the submarine force in achieving a delay in the delivery of the SEAWOLF.

Drawing from my command experience I can confirm the current sustained capability of the I class submarine well into the 1990’s. How-ever, the SEAWOLF must come on line as scheduled. Any motion put in place to re-think or re-justify the SEAWOLF construction will significantly hazard the delivery or a well planned and supremely capable warship.

I have read THE SUBMARINE REVIEW from its inception. I was under the impression that one or the goals of the Submarine League has been to work with and support the Submarine Force within the limits of the charter. In that context I do not understand the Editor’ s stand in support of those on the “Hill” who have a “better idea.” I only hope that this editorial does not give any of those congressional staffers food for thought in that they might aggressively re-attack the SSN-21 design.

I have a better ideal I submit that the Submarine League must provide 100% support backing the decision to build SEAWOLF now, as designed.


[President’s comment — The NSL Directors, speaking for the great majority of NSL members, whole heartedly support the SEAWOLF concept design and construction program. However, in so doing, the SUBMARINE REVIEW must remain as a forum for ideas and discussion to help focus submarine issues. The following letter from Admiral Long to Congressman Hunter firmly states the NSL position on SEAWOLF. ]

14  April,      1988

The  Honorable Duncan Hunter
United  States  House of Representatives
Washington,    DC   20515

Dear Representative  Hunter

The Naval Submarine League is an organization principally comprised of u.s. Navy active duty and retired submarine officers and individuals of the civilian and business communities interested in the submarine service.

The Naval Submarine League was formed to accomplish the following:

  1. Encourage mutual understanding and a close working relationship between American Society and those United States Government segments responsible for the acquisition and employment of sub-marines.
  2. To promote greater liaison and communications among the military, academic and business communities on issues concerning United States submarines, and,
  3. To provide a forum wherein the views and perceptions of the membership can be focused and examined.

The NSL publishes a quarterly professional magazine to provide information in support of the above objectives. The articles in THE SUBMARINE REVIEW necessarily express the various views and perceptions of the individual authors and are published in an effort to encourage an open dialogue of submarine matters. This dialogue is felt to be a constructive element in the overall effort to help maintain the superiority of the U.S. Navy Submarine Service.

The NSL is not chartered as a lobbying organization and therefore refrains from expressing views unless specifically asked and a degree of expertise can be established to make our views creditable. Notwithstanding the above, the NSL Directors and I firmly believe the NSL membership desire to state their strong support for the SSN-21 design and for the production of the SSN-21 submarine itself. These views have been discussed and reinforced at various meetings and symposia of the League. Many of our members are quite knowlegeable or the threat, others are experts in various facets of design and production. The integration process pursued by the Navy which resulted in the SSN-21 design has been professional in approach and realistic in product. I believe  the  SSN-21, as presented to the Congress, is necessary, achievable, demonstrable, and more important, is responsive to the emerging improvements observed in the Soviet submarine force.

In summary, the NSL Directors and Members are pleased to endorse and recommend the SSN-21 submarine program as presented to you. This letter is written in response to a question you asked during a Congressional hearing which asked the position of the NSL vis-a-vis the SSN-21 submarine program.

R.  L.  J.   Long
Admiral,  USN(Ret.)
Chairman of the  Board,    NSL


Just read the January issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, and have congratulations for another fine job. The editorial is a lucid exposition of the situation and a cultivated way or illuminating the need to help.

John Leonard’s letter on Frank Lynch was welcome — and a fitting complement to the editorial. No tunnel vision in Frank’s thinking.

Henry Payne’s paper on  hydrodynamics  is an excellent tutorial for all submariners. More to come?

The REVIEW has a creative and thinking source or authors in the submarine community, and is doing a great job in turning them on!

Charlie  Bishop

Naval Submarine League

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