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by Rear Admiral R. J. Hill, RN(Ret.), Annapolis, MD
U.S. Naval Institute, 2nd Edition, 1990
Reviewed by Paul R. Schratz

Admiral Hill completed the research for the first edition of Anti-Submarine Warfare in 1983, just prior to numerous important developments in ASW technology, changes in U.S. naval strategy, and wholly unexpected political changes in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe exerting far-reaching effects worldwide. The purpose of the second edition is to project into the 1990s a number of aspects of ASW which may be expected to undergo substantial change. For example, because of the Walker spy ring, the assumption of a marked acoustic advantage over the Soviet Union submarines is no longer tenable.

The emergence of new policies was nowhere more prominent than in maritime strategy. The U.S. maritime Strategy may or may not mean that the Strike Fleet will advance into the Norwegian Sea at the first sign of tension. If, as some imply, such a move may be delayed until sufficient attrition has been imposed on the Soviet submarine force, then, in Admiral Hill’s view, the brunt must be borne by the European forces in the area, “notably any amphibious forces reinforcing north Norway, the British ASW group escorting such forces, the NATO Standing Force Atlantic, other north European NATO units, shore-based maritime patrol aircraft. .. ” Failure to bring Soviet submarines into action in the early stages could have two quite nasty effects — i.e., allowing them to escape into the Atlantic shipping lanes, or to lie in wait for the Strike Fleet when it does come. In short, despite the confident and forward looking aspects, the admiral’s enthusiasm for the Maritime Strategy carries some necessary words of caution.

Unfortunately for the author, the vast political changes in the Warsaw Pact nations, part of the reason for the new edition, had hardly begun when the edition went to press. Since no slackening had been noted in Soviet production of major arms, the only change suggested for the West is no change. This is a prudent recommendation; it is still too early to evaluate the full effect of the major political changes still in progress.

The first edition of Anti-Submarine Warfare was well received as an enlightening contribution, primarily from the British view, to the complex art of ASW. The task of the book reviewer, however, as Admiral Rickover once told me, is to serve as an adjunct for the reader in evaluating both the strengths and weaknesses. For all its virtues, the first edition was somewhat short on hard analysis, which is perhaps one reason why the author belittled “so-called operations-analysis.” Also neglected was the enormous Soviet geographic problem of wartime access to the sea, of a lack of support bases, repair and refit facilities and of a shore-based antisubmarine detection capability needed for a maritime war. It is also disappointing to see an experienced seaman using the Mercator projection for global charts. Cosmetic changes have been made in the new edition; the above are still with us.

The first edition, now out of print, cost $14.95; the second, $26.95. For the extra twelve dollars, the reader gets twelve additional pages, mostly illustrations which are uniformly excellent. But tabular data is unchanged from 1984 and one still can find only a limited bibliography, no footnotes, and no index.


by Edwyn Gray
Published by Presidio Press, 1988, 275 pages
LC 88-22065 CIP; ISBN 0-89141-325-1

Reviewed by Commander Philip F. Echrt, USN(Ret.), a U.S. submarine veteran who made 10 successful war patrols against the Japanese during WW II.

This book, written by an English author, provides an excellent sampling of diesel submarine warfare for World Wars I and II.

The first chapter contains a short historical overview of submarine warfare, highlighting the first modem submarine attack, made in anger, against the Turkish cruiser Mejidieh off the Dardanelles on December 9, 1912; and the last torpedo attack, against the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano on may 2, 1982. This latter attack was conducted by HMS CONQUEROR, a nuclear submarine, during the Second Battle of the Falkland Islands.

Sixteen of the remaining 17 chapters are about submarine exploits as follows: Germany, three chapters on WW I and one chapter on WW II; United Kingdom, three chapters on WW I and two chapters on WW II; United States, four chapters on WW II; Italy, two chapters on WW II; Poland and Japan, one chapter each on WW II.

One chapter describes the use of a British submarine against Chinese pirates in Chinese waters in 1927. The Chinese, upon seeing a submarine for the first time, in this case the HMS L4, immediately dubbed it “The Go-Under-Water-War-Junk.”

By far the most controversial and perhaps least known submarine story is in Chapter 17. It is the Japanese commanding officer’s account of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis, the cruiser that just a few days earlier had delivered the nuclear components to Tinian Island for the Abombs that destroyed Hiroshima and Nagasaki on August 6th and 9th, 1945. Commander Hashimoto of the Japanese submarine 1-58 caught the Indianapolis about one-half of the way between Guam and Leyte — on course 260 degrees true, speed 16, and not zigzagging, at 11:30 P.M., July 29, 1945. His first torpedo struck the Indianapolis at two minutes after midnight. One or two additional torpedoes hit the Indianapolis during the next 30 or 40 seconds. The cruiser’s officer of the deck could not ring up “all Stop” because all communications were lost immediately. There was no power for the high-frequency radio transmitter in the radio room, which meant that not one single distress message could leave the ship. In less than 16 minutes the Indianapolis planed down to a watery grave. Four hundred lives were lost immediately and another 480 men died from exposure and shark attacks over the next four days. A total of 320 men were eventually rescued, but that is another story and beyond the scope of this book.

The I-58 was equipped with six Kaiten torpedoes, called by some “underwater Kamikazes.” The Kaiten was a man-guided torpedo in which the Kaiten operator, on a suicidal mission, used a small periscope to hand steer the Kaiten with a 3,000 pound warhead toward the target At its slowest speed, the Kaiten had a range of 38 miles. The Kaitens were moored to the main deck of the submarine and could be released only when the submarine was submerged. The state of the art permitted the Kaiten operator to leave the submerged submarine and wriggle through an access tube to get aboard the Kaiten without getting wet or flooding the submarine or the Kaiten itself. Once aboard the Kaiten with its access hatch closed, the operator was in a crouched position until death. (The diameter of the larger Kaitens, Types 2 and 4, was about 1.4 meters.) Commander Hashimoto avers that he did not use Kaitens against the Indianapolis, to sink what Commander Hashimoto identified as an “Idaho-class battleship.” Furthermore, the accounting of the expenditure of the six Kaitens launched from the 1-58 has never been satisfactorily explained. But that also is another story.

Edwyn Gray is truly a submarine aficionado. His sampling of submarine tales is a must for those interested in pursuing further study of the war-time use of diesel-electric submarines .

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