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By Grand Admiral Karl Doenitz.
Translated by R. H. Stevens with an Introduction and Afterward by Professor Dr. Juergen Rohwer. Naval Institute Press 1990 – ISBN 0-87021-780-1

Reviewed by Daniel A. Cumm

Admiral Karl Doenitz’s memoirs are a classic of submarine literature and should be reread every so many years to absorb the lessons from that period and relate them to the present. As originally published in 1958 and in English in 1959, the memoirs reflect the personal experience of Doenitz from his war diaries. He uses references to both Captain Stephen Roskill, R.N., The War at Sea; and Winston Churchill, Second World War to accommodate the Allied side of the Battle of the Atlantic. The edition published by the Naval Institute in 1990 contains new material in the Introduction and Afterward by the German historian, Juergen Rohwer.

The new material is the result of historical research by Dr. Rohwer and others, particularly on the official documents, that have been declassified by British, American, and Canadian sources subsequent to Admiral Doenitz’s publication in 1958. Of particular importance is the disclosure by Group Captain F. W. Winterbotham, in his book, The Ultra Secret, that the British had successfully broken the German “Enigma” cipher machine and the similar naval version. We now understand better the inter-relationships between technological developments, operational concepts, and tactics displayed by both sides during the war.

Rohwer describes the profound effect of radio intelligence on the Battle of the Atlantic by the Allies. Rohwer’s Introduction describes the reaction by Doenitz when, after the initial publication of the memoirs, Rohwer personally revealed to him the effects resulting from the use of HF/DF equipment by the British and the greater shock, the news in 1974 that the British had in fact broken the “Enigma” cipher and had decrypted most of the signal traffic from the U-boats and headquarters from June 1941 to January 1942 and from December 1942 to the end of the war.

The Afterward provides a short summary of the historical research and its effect on the earlier perceptions of causes of the changing fortunes in the war. Guenter Hessler, Doenitz’s son-in-law and author of The U-Boat War in the Atlantic (reviewed in the April issue of The SUBMARINE REVIEW by Captain Charles Rush), divided the Battle of the Atlantic, the longest campaign of World War ll, into eight phases. Rohwer redefines the timing of the phases with an accurate description of what was happening with regard to the decryption of signal traffic on both sides of the conflict.

The issue in Rohwer’s writing is not whether Doenitz and the U-boat command appreciated the potential effect of breaking the German cryptographic traffic from a strategic point of view nor the pin point accuracy of the automatic high frequency direction finders (HF/Df) aboard the Allied ships from a tactical view – he (Doenitz) mentions and then discounts the potential of both in his memoirs; but rather the over-estimation by the Germans of the effect of the 9 CM radar on anti-submarine warfare by the Allies. The use of radio transmissions, key to the operational concept of the Uboat wolf packs, not only provided the Allies with the necessary information to reroute the convoys and develop other strategic thrusts, but was used tactically to devastate the Uboat forces in 1942 and 1943. Juergen Rohwer’s Introduction and Afterward should be read to understand the Battle of the Atlantic more fully.

I will leave the review of the memoirs to more expert hands. However, there are a few observations about the memoirs that can be made that have more to do with historical perspective than historical detail. First, Doenitz and the U-boat command understood the Allied strategy explicitly and understood the effect of seapower on that strategy, particularly the effect of submarine warfare on the Allies’ logistic lines. The upper level political and military commands of Germany had no appreciation of the total strategy of the Allies and no understanding of the effects of seapower. As a result Doenitz received neither the number of submarines nor the necessary industrial priority until it was too late in the war. Second, the much vaunted submarine research and development effort by the Germans took too low of a priority. The snorkel and other advances came too late to have any effect on the outcome of the war. On the other hand, the Allied research on anti-submarine warfare produced the tools for the ultimate defeat of the U-boat forces. Third, the debate in the U-boat command on which was more important – larger numbers of ships or fewer more capable ships, is a recurring argument in every major navy and certainly is a key issue in the Congress of the United States at the present time.

Memoirs Ten Years and Twenty Days with the new introduction and Afterward belongs on the submariners’ bookshelves.


By Captain C. A Bartholomew, USN
A Joint Publication of the Naval Historical Center and the Naval Sea Systems Command
ISBN 0-945274-03-3; 1990; 505 pages

Available from Superintendent of Documents
U.S. Government Printing Office, Washington, DC 20402
Reviewed by (}zplllin Gerald Sedor, USN(Ret.)

“MARINE SALVAGE- A science of vague assumptions based on debatable figures taken from Inconclusive experiments and performed with instruments or problematic: a~urac:y by persons of doubtful reliability and questionable mentality.”

After the humorous opening definition of marine salvage quoted above, Captain “Black Bart” Bartholomew presents a most impressive, well documented and highly readable account of Navy divers and salvors over the past century which completely disproves the quoted definition. Assisted in his efforts by Commander Bill Milwee, USN(ReL), Lieutenant Commander Bill Bladh, USN(Ret.), and Vice Admiral Dave Johnson, USN(Ret.), the author manages to accomplish a most difficult task – to document a century of history with thousands of people involved in hundreds of events and make it interesting for both the diver/salvor and the lay person. From the initial group of torpedo recovery divers stationed at Newport, RI in the early 1880s to the multi-service group involved in the recovery of the space shuttle CHALLENGER debris in the late 1980s, Mud. Muscle and Miracles succeeds in capturing the essence of Navy diving and salvage by focussing on the most important aspect of that or any other organization – the people that make it happen.

If you’re in the least bit interested in this superb work and want to find out more about it, the Foreword written by Admiral I. C. Kidd, Jr., USN(Ret.) provides a fascinating personal insight into the world of divers and salvors ( … the absolute epitome of all that is fine in mariners … ). Encouraged by his father (himself a diver) to seek and take advice from divers ( … It will always be the very best available … ), Admiral Kidd concludes that his father’s words on this subject were the best pieces of advice ever passed along to a son!

The author provides insight and extensive accounts of Navy salvors involved in all four categories of salvage: (1) afloat and stranding salvage, (2) harbor clearance, (3) submarine salvage, and ( 4) deep-ocean operations. While a majority of the book is devoted (and rightfully so) to the enormous harbor clearance and ship salvage efforts of World War ll, submarine salvage (World War II and prior) and deep ocean search operations using current technology are given adequate coverage. In addition, the evolution of salvage doctrine, management and organization in the U.S. Navy is given an excellent overview.

For submariners who are most likely quite familiar with the deep ocean searches for 1HRESHER and SCORPION, the rescue and salvage operations on SQUALUS and the pierside flooding of GUITARD in a naval shipyard (all adequately covered), some of the early submarine search, rescue and salvage operations provide some interesting reading. One of the reviewer’s favorites is the salvage of USS SKATE (F-4) (SS 23) off Oahu in 1915. Lost with all hands in over 300 feet of water, the 142-foot, 400-ton SKA1E was the Navy’s first submarine loss and first deep ocean salvage operation. The motivation for salvage was to determine the cause of the loss. Navy salvors responded to this first submarine disaster by diving to unprecedented depths (over 300 feet on air), developing the basic design of submarine pontoons and employing a system of lifting with the pontoons that would serve as a model for future submarine operations. With the successful deployment of pontoons built at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, SKATE was salvaged and the cause of her loss identified as the erosion of pressure hull rivets as a result of battery acid leakage. Subsequent design changes were implemented to solve this problem.

An interesting personal sidelight of the SKATE salvage involves Chief Petty Officer William Loughman, one of the divers assigned to the operation. In one of his dives below 300 feet, Chief Loughman became entangled and was subsequently rescued by Chief Petty Officer Frank Crilley, who was later awarded the Medal of Honor for this feat by President Coolidge. This reviewer, having a personal acquaintance with Chief Loughman’s son, Ray, (a former manager of EBDIV, Groton), gained further insight into the character of these early divers in a recent discussion with Dottie Loughman, Ray>s widow. Enlisting in the Navy when he was barely into his teens, William Loughman lived and breathed Navy throughout his entire life. A Chief Petty Officer at the time of the SKATE loss in 1915, William Loughman went back on active duty during World War II and continued his love affair with the Navy while serving at SubBase New London.

Another interesting submarine salvage operation of that era involved the grounding of USS GARFISH (H-3) (SS 30) in December 1916 off Eureka, CA When the armored cruiser USS MILWAUKEE (C 21) attempted to free up GARFISH, she was eventually forced ashore and broke up. GARFISH was eventually moved overland on wooden tracks and rollers and relaunched into deeper water. However, the lack of salvage seamanship on MIL WAUKEE resulted in the complete loss of that ship.

From the time of the SKATE’s loss in 1915 until World War IT, a total of 14 navy submarines were sunk in accidents. Of these 14, a total of 9 were salvaged, the last of which was USS SQUALUS off Portsmouth, NH. This rescue and salvage operation saw the first use of the McCann rescue chamber (37 survivors) and the first operation to use helium-oxygen mixed gas for divers. A total of 648 dives were made, with only two cases of decompression sickness. For their efforts in this operation, four Navy divers were awarded the Medal of Honor. In all these cases Navy salvors responded with vigor and professionalism, despite the fact that each accident was handled separately and no permanent organization existed in a state of readiness to support such casualties.

In summary, Mud. Muscles and Miracles is an extremely well put together descriptive history of the men and events that shaped the Navy’s diving and salvage efforts over the past century. The highly readable text is liberally interspersed with over 160 photographs, illustrations, maps and diagrams. The Appendices include such details as the U.S. federal laws affecting navy salvage and the characteristics of all salvagerelated ships that have served the U.S. Navy. The extensive bibliography and index are a major plus for the serious researcher of Navy diving and salvage history. Negative comments from any objective reviewer would have to be considered as very minor. A personal bias on the part of this reviewer on the need for more coverage of current and future technology (e.g., autonomous underwater vehicles) would perhaps detract from the author-s rightful focus on people rather than machines. The diving and salvage community and, indeed, all associated with the Navy, owe Captain Bartholomew an enthusiastic “Well Done” for this excellent publication .

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