Several books have been published in the past year, and one will be published shortly, which will be of interest to League members. They range in history from the American Revolution through the 201h century, including World War II and its aftermath, to present day Chicago-yes Chicago.
Starting with the Revolution, Scholastic, Inc., of New York will publish in March of 2006 a small book entitled Bushnell’s Submarine: The Best Kept Secret of the American Revolution, by Arthur S. Lefkowitz. It is aimed at the 9 to 12 year old age group and looks to be a useful way to introduce kids and grandkids to the beginnings of the wonderful world of submarining. The advance sheet provided by the publisher describes the book and its author in a concise three paragraphs:
“This is the thrilling, and largely unknown, story of the invention of the world’s first submarine and how it was used in the Continental Anny’s desperate attempt to hold onto New York City in 1776. Yankee tinkerer David Bushnell, the nearly forgotten genius, christened his invention “The Turtle,” and in the Turtle’s first, and only, military exploit, it bravely at-tempted to sink the flagship of the British fleet in the middle of New York Harbor.
Making liberal use of journals, diaries, maps and eyewitness accounts, one of American history’s most exciting events comes alive in great historical detail. We see how the innovation of this one individual, along with the encouragement of such luminaries as Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin, epitomized the ingenuity and potential of the new nation.
Arthur Lefkowitz is an independent researcher and the author of George Washington’s Indispensable Men and The American Revolution in 2003 by the American Revolution Round Table.”
On a more familiar plane, but in keeping with the Connecticut roots of the modern Submarine Force, Dave Bishop has put together an enjoyable pictorial history of the SubBase on the Thames, appropriately entitled Naval Submarine Base New London. Published in 2005 by Arcadia of Charleston, Chicago, Portsmouth and San Francisco as part of their Images of America series, Dave’s book (ISBN 0-7385-3808-6) covers the history of the Base from its beginnings just after the Civil War up to the present day. Having had some personal experience with SubBase, NLON during which I had the opportunity to learn a little about the history in order to think creatively about its future, I can attest that Dave Bishop has done an outstanding job of illustrated biography of a difficult subject.
Over the past year we witnessed, in the BRAC process, several opinions put forth about the utility of the Base and its current value as “a center of submarine excellence”. The current state of facilities did not just happen; they evolved and will continue to evolve to best fit the needs of the evolving and improving Submarine Force. Dave has produced for publication far more photographic evidence of that evolution than I saw during any of my seven tours there (four submarines, two schools and command of the Base). I can attest to the value of this book and heartily recommend it to all with an interest in the past, and future, of the U.S. Submarine Force.
A personal memoir by an officer with long sea experience, including war patrols, can be counted upon to provide lots of sea stories, plenty of lessons learned and many familiar names as young officers but who were much older and more senior when I knew them. Captain Herb Mandell has given us a full, at times poignant, picture of his naval life at sea and ashore from the Naval Academy in the thirties to his retirement in the early sixties. His book Submarine Captain and Command at Sea, published by Collage Books of Naples, Florida in September of 2005 is a warm, very personal history of the mid-twentieth century as seen by an officer who was in the middle of it all.
Captain Larry Wigley is a retired submarine skipper who has given us a novel in the could-it-happen-here genre. His novel Mission Complete has been published by Publish America. The book is fiction but is too close to possible for us to pass on commenting. Larry has provided us with the following precis:
The world’s most sophisticated nuclear attack submarine, USS JACKFISH (SSN 945), returned to its homeport, Groton, Connecticut, ten days before Christmas.
On the evening of twenty December, Commander Bruce Stewart, the commanding office of JACKFISH, meets in a highly classified conference with high military and civilian persons. At the meeting, it was revealed that an ultimatum was delivered to the President of the United States from a Soviet/Cuban terrorist group demanding a ransom of billions of dollars and the disarmament of the United States strategic nuclear weapons arsenal.
The ultimatum would be met or the terrorist would launch nuclear cruise missiles from the US nuclear attack submarine TIGERFISH at exactly midnight Christmas Eve and annihilate the cities of Norfolk, Virginia, Washington, DC, New York, and Groton, Connecticut.
TIGERFISH had been pirated while at anchor off Piraeus, Greece, the victim of an expertly developed and exceptionally well-executed plan by the integrated Soviet/Cuban team. The submarine was still operated by its American crew in bondage, confined in movement by leg and arm shackles with severe brutality and torture under the guns of the terrorist guards.
The options available to the President of the Unite States is to conduct a nuclear preemptive first strike, to honor the ultimatum, or to dispatch Commander Stewart and JACKFISH to seek out and sink TIGERFISH.
The President gambles at his best option-Stewart and the JACKFISH.
Heavy seas and reduced visibility during the outbound leg of the voyage from Groton, Connecticut, coupled with the death of a ship’s diver while unfolding lobster pot locator lines from the propeller shaft and an almost mission abort fire in the ship, reduce significantly the already limited time available to meet the deadline for completing the mission.
The President had directed no one else in JACKFISH be provided any details of the mission. The executive officer’s friction and resentment toward the captain for not being provided the details of the mission increase as the JACKFISH gets closer to the mission area and the torpedo shooting point was approached.
Weapons are launched under potentially complex conditions between the captain and the executive officer.
The loud explosion and breaking up noises heard by the JACKFISH sonar operators in the direction of TIGERFISH signify MISSION COMPLETE.”
The Chicago part of this recent book summary has to do with the exhibit of the World War II U-Boat, U 505, which was captured at sea and is now at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
On 4 June 1944 the German submarine U-505 became the first man-of-war since the War of 1812 to be captured by the U.S. Navy in battle on the high seas. Attacked by the Ameri-can hunter-killer force Task Group 22.3 off the coast of West Africa, the U-boat was forced to the surface after a fierce bombardment. Abandoned by the crew while partially afloat, she was boarded by American sailors and secretly towed to Bermuda. Renamed USS NEMO, the submarine made a war bond subscription tour of Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico ports before docking at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, to await scrapping in accordance with an Allied agreement regarding postwar retention of operational enemy U-boats. These events are vividly described in the pages of this book along with the story of how the U-505 became a major attraction at the world-renowned Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago.
Author Jim Wise, a retired Navy Captain with several books to his credit, tells how Admiral Dan Gallery, the commander of Task Group 22.3, saved the boat and became a major force in convincing the Navy Department not to scuttle the submarine but to transfer the U-505’s ownership to the science museum, where she would be put on display to commemorate the thousands of Americans who had been lost at sea during World War 11. Wise chronicles the boat’s arduous journey down the St. Lawrence River and across four of the five Great Lakes to the shores of Lake Michigan for restoration. He then offers a memorable description of the staggering engineering feat that moved the sub overland to an outdoor exhibit area at the museum, where she was opened to the public in 1954. In 1989 the U-505 was designated a National Historic Landmark.
By the tum of the 21″ century, museum executives had determined that nearly fifty years of exposure to the elements and more than 24 million visitors had taken their toll. They raised millions of dollars to restore the U boat and to build a temperature-controlled site four stories below ground. In addition to the fully restored German submarine, the exhibit area of “The New U-505 Experience” also includes artifacts and interactive stations to give visitors a taste of what it was like for the crewmen in battle. This book showcases some two hundred photographs, including some of the submarine’s new homes while under construction.