Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate



by RADM N.P. V’yunenko, CAPT 1st Rank B.N. Makeyev, CAPT 1st Rank V.D. Skugarev and edited by Admiral Sergei Gorshkov Publisher, Hoscow: Voyenizdat, 1988; 272 pages

Often it is important to look at the past in order to understand the future. And, thus it is with those portions of the above cited book which forecast future submarine and torpedo technologies /characteristics.

As cited by the Associated Press, the principal submarine and torpedo projections contained in the new Soviet book are:

  • Submarine speeds of 50-60 knots (near-term) and 100 knots (far-term).
  • Wake, infrared, and laser homing torpedoes capable of speeds of 300 knots. (being developed)
  • Submarine dive depths of 400-600 meters (today) and 2000 meters (future).

Sound futuristic? Perhaps. But these much heralded projections were, in fact, stated 25 years ago in a Soviet book titled Atomic-Powered Submarine Design, authored by V. M. Prasolov and A. A. Narusbayev. Ironically, Bukalov and Narusbayev based their projections of submarine and torpedo advances on information contained in U.S. open press sources published 25-30 years ago. For example, the 1964 edition Atomic-Powered Submarine Design stated the following;

  • “Foreign specialists are of the opinion that if control of the boundary layer problem can be solved successfully, submarine speeds will increase to 50 to 60 knots, and if there is a simultaneous increase in installed horsepower, speeds will exceed 100 knots.”
  • “By 1970 to 1980, foreign specialists propose to create military submarines capable of submerging to 1200 meters (if high-strength steels are used for the pressure hulls), or to 1800 meters (if the technology involved in building hull structures of titanium alloys is worked out).”
  • “In 1959, the United States Navy was presented the following torpedo goals for the 1970s: increase the tactical speed of ASW homing torpedoes to 55 to 60 knots develop new models of rocket-propelled torpedoes with speeds on the order of 200 to 300 knots, as well as rocket-propelled interceptor torpedoes to combat homing torpedoes devise a guidance system for future torpedoes which will be resistant to interference and which will be able to work successfully against a target taking evasive action; the most effective are considered to be the infrared (heat) instruments for homing, since they can guide the torpedo to the ship along its wake.”

In summary, the Soviets haven’t told us anything new. The Soviets have simply restated and slightly repackaged forecasts we made 25 years ago. As often happens, some Western naval analysts and news organizations have mistakenly “re-discovered” these old forecasts and attributed them to the Soviet Union rather than the u.s. People reading this new Soviet book should be cautious and read it in light or previous Soviet writings on naval strategy and submarine matters.

John J. Engelhardt


by RADM L. P. Khiyaynen, Moscow: Voyenizdat, 1988 239 pages

Just when you thought the Soviets had written enough books about foreign submarine developments, along comes another one. This supposedly “new” book is really only an updated 3rd edition of an earlier book authored by Rear Admiral L. P. Khiyaynen (in 1979) bearing the same title (Razurtiye zarubezhnykh podvodnykh lodok i ikh taktiki).

All three editions of Khiyaynen•s books are valuable reference sources and a must for collectors of foreign press materials on submarines. RADM Khiyaynen (and/or his research staff) have gone to extensive efforts to research all publicly available literature on foreign (i.e., non-Soviet) submarine developments. The result is an easy to read book outlining developments in submarine design, weapons, sensors, and tactics since World War I, with emphasis on the past 20 years. Several very useful tables are provided, depicting the technical characteristics of Western submarines constructed over the past 50 years. The book contains no pictures — a usual Soviet practice.

A preliminary review of the new edition of the book suggests that there is little in the way of new information on Western submarine developments (SSN-21, TRIDENT, etc.), or Soviet views on submarine design philosophy and tactics.

Two interesting observations about this book. First, the book came into the United States around September 1988. A well-known Washington, DC area Russian book store had about 200 copies of the book for sale (cost $3.50) when this author purchased his copies — the day after the book went on sale. Within 3 weeks all cooies of the book were sold outl This may indicate a heightened awareness about submarine matters among both the Russian and u.s. defense communities located in the Washington, DC area. A second observation is that Voyenizdat published 35.000 copies of the book. This suggests two things: (1) the Soviets anticipated a large foreign readership and probably earmarked about 15,000 copies of the book for export to the West and (2) the Soviets have an in-country readership of about 20,000, of which perhaps 15,000 might be classified as submariners and civilians involved in the nation’s submarine programs. These are impressive statistics about the Soviet submarine publishing apparatus and readership.

My only complaint about the book, as with most Soviet submarine books and articles, is that the author fails to footnote information sources properly, or to credit copyrighted material. This makes it impossible for researchers and scholars to re-trace the footsteps of Soviet researchers or to access public information sources used by Soviet researchers.

John J. Engelhardt


by Captain Paul R. Schratz, USN(Ret.) University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, KY, 1988 322 pages

Paul Schratz has finally written the memoirs (journal or log) that those who know him well have long awaited. Predictably, it is fascinating. At the very beginning he quotes Arleigh Burke, “Any commander who fails to exceed his authority is not of much use to his subordinates,” — and George Marshall, “. . . if one can’t disobey an order, he’ll never amount to much as a leader.” Paul adopted these as his credo and, as he takes us through his adventures in two wars, he sure as hell never varies from that credo.

Paul hit the submarine navy at absolutely the right time. World War II was fully underway. He was thus spared the inhibitions of those with years of cautious peacetime submarining. His first submarine was MACKEREL, under Johnny Davidson, where he qualified ahead of his class and qualified for command almost immediately afterwards. I don’t know anyone with a better record than Johnny Davidson for picking naval officers or submariners. Johnny’s subsequent career concentrated on doing just that. Paul’s job was torpedo and gunnery officer, TDC operator, heart of the attack team. It was a job he never relinquished. He was always right alongside the captain, fighting a real war, unsullied by the contrived practice approaches of the peacetime navy. It was a great challenge for a young, inexperienced officer — and Paul was loaded for bear.

Perhaps the most interesting, and certainly the most revealing of all the chapters are those devoted to his patrols in SCORPION and STERLET. Paul joined SCORPION, under Bill Wylie, during fitting out, again as torpedo and gunnery officer. Alarmed by tales from the Pacific about the sorry performance of torpedo warshots, and realizing that he was in a perfect position to do something about it, he immediately gave battle to the Newport torpedo organization. With his leading torpedoman, he secretly invaded the exploder lab and copied working drawings of the exploder mechanism. After studying these, he decided that increasing the tension in the arming impeller would reduce the chances of shorting the exploder, particularly when the warhead was carried to deep depth, and thus cut down on the distressing frequency of premature explosions. He applied this “loving hands at home” ORDALT to his own torpedoes and passed the word around as best he could. His reported torpedo record indicates that it worked. He also redesigned the lighting for the clinometers (bubble tubes) at the diving station. Portsmouth yard accepted that one and claimed it for their own. Newport remained Newport.

It is when SCORPION and STERLET get on war patrol that the real message of Paul’s story emerges. As the leading member of the attack team, be frequently disagreed with the manner in which the two captains, (one a friend, the other much less so) conducted their patrols. He vigorously asserted his ideas, gave orders without the Captain’s knowledge and eventually, in STERLET, virtually usurped command where operations were concerned. At one stage, in STERLET, he seriously considered requesting the captain’s relief at sea, or even relieving him on the spot. That he did not do so was probably fortunate for Paul.

However, his account very clearly illustrates a situation that was not uncommon in submarines in World War II, or indeed, throughout naval history in ships under independent command. The brilliant, ambitious and aggressive young officer, exasperated by the tactics of a more conservative and cautious skipper was a frequent figure in the rest camps of the Pacific. I remember Mike Shea particularly. Their problem was fundamental. They saw the war all around them and they wanted to fight it. Now, these are the “gung-ho” guys who will sink ships and win wars for you. They are the Medal of Honor winners — if they really know what they are talking about. The Division and Squadron Commanders and the Admirals had to sort them out and find the best captains. They could usually find out who could not cut it. How could they tell who could?

Paul’s story is, of course, far more encompassing than that single facet. He is truly irrepressible and he actually believes that it is possible for submarining, or any other naval activity, peace or war, to be run; and he sets out to prove it. He is rarely in the position that his movement report promises and the diversions are usually because it is more fun that way. Some contraventions or rules or orders, as in straying beyond area boundaries, are in the interest of improved battle efficiency. Many others are because that’s the way Paul wanted to do it. Many of the latter are outrageous. Examples are: faking orders from Admiral Lockwood in order to get a ride on a B-29 in a raid over Japan; or the 72-degree surfacing of PICKEREL which made the cover of SHIPMATE eventually but had to be hidden from Admiral “Babe” Brown when he did it. There are many more, less famous but no less bizarre, scattered throughout the story. They season the book and make it a delight for anyone who lived in a submarine in those days.

There is tragedy also. Reggie Raymond, exec or SCORPION, whom Paul idolized, was killed in a gun battle on the first patrol. The shock and sorrow this brought to Paul runs a thin line through much or the book. The subsequent loss of SCORPION was also a heavy blow, particularly when Bill Wylie wrote Paul, “I shall always believe that your detachment from SCORPION was a major contributing factor to her loss.” It was a heavy load to carry.

The book covers operations from WICHITA in Iceland, just prior to the beginnings or our entry in World War II, through duty in MACKEREL, SCORPION, STERLET and finally with Jason Maurer in ATULE, where Paul finally found a skipper who met his specifications. The scene then shifts to early occupation days in Japan, command or the captured Japanese submarine I-203, bringing her to Pearl, and the peacetime and Korean operations of the new GUPPY submarine PICKEREL. There is adventure on every page, sometimes serious, mostly amusing and often downright scandalous. If you want to learn how to get away with murder and have a good time doing it, this book is for you.

This is Paul’s story. It is intensely personal. It’s the way he saw the war and how he fought it. His descriptions of the war patrols are more detailed than patrol reports and, at least in his eyes, more factual. It is a delight to read not only because it is well written but because it is so very real seen through the eyes of a completely involved observer. As befits an accomplished concertmaster, every note rings true. And this is only the first stage of Paul’s distinguished career. I am sure that there are more concertos to come. Bravo! Encore! ,

Frank Walker


Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League