Admiral Jerry Holland Replies to Mr. Nonnan Polmar’s comments:
When one publishes more than occasionally one learns to eat crow from time to time. On the other hand, writers generally are pleased when someone demonstrates that their material has been read by mentioning his ideas or exposition. If the reader is someone with expertise in the field and makes the effort to rebut or question the original author’s work, even more satisfaction arises. In such instances the operative adage is, “Better to be insulted than ignored.”
In some of the instances that Mr. Polmar has pointed out, I plead guilty to an over reliance on secondary sources and personal memory. The essay was meant to be A Look Around aimed at fellow submariners, not a Target Bearing dissertation on the intricacies of the Cold War. Nevertheless, I acknowledge errors Mr. Polmar has enumerated-either as substantive or expositionand apologize to readers of the Review for their commission.
My P3 date was a program point- probably the milestone pennitting limited production. I would acknowledge that my generalization on the shift from anti-carrier to ASW in Soviet new construction may have been over-stated. However the CIA analysis indicates that Kruschev hated the Navy’s plans for big surface ships and that Gorshkov
used ASW and anti-carrier as the argument for continued shipbuilding. Classification of Kievs as ASW Cruisers followed. The air wing of those ships consisted primarily of helicopters, the exact missions of which were never very clear but seemed to relate to ASW. My observations led me to believe SOVREMENNYS were ASW ships though certainly were anned for surface warfare. The large carriers Mr. Polmar describes were proposed in 1975 but not laid down until 1988, finally approved in the chaos of the Soviet fall. They were never finished and so I conveniently ignored them. The three SLAVA’s that Mr. Polmar described as hedges against the failure of KIEV were Fleet Flagships that I never had the opportunity to see. Regarding the size of the Krestas. My use of the adjective smaller is indeed in error by 535 tons. However, the operative observation is that the shift from the four Kresta l’s to the ten Kresta II’s was a shift from anti-carrier to anti-submarine warfare. I assume both OKEAN designations are correct. I used the ONI designations of the time and I believe Mr. Polmar is using the Soviet nomenclature. The size of each exercise varies between various sources. I accept Mr. Polmar’s version but the end result seems to me to be the same whatever the sizes.
I remembered Admiral Burke speaking at my graduation from the Naval Academy in June 1955 and I thought he was then
the CNO. His actions in sequestering major funds for Polaris date from 1956. I should have been more careful with the dates and more specific with the actions. I apologize for this error. Mr. Polmar’s comments on my discussions of Soviet SSBNs are expositional rather than substantial.
That there was a suggestion by knowledgeable people that the PUEBLO seizure was instigated by the Soviets is a fact. That such an idea may have grown out of conjecture rather than knowledge I do not know. NSA’s encoding section would have some selfinterest in such a theory. However building a crypto-machine from scratch to use the key lists from Walker-Whitworth would have been a formidable but probably not an impossible task. I have no
doubt that finding a reference to such in Soviet archives, even for so skilled a researcher as Norman Polmar, would be very difficult. If my Soviet contemporaries did not see the correlation of forces favoring the United States they were indeed even blinder to the obvious than we had been previously. The statements of a senior
Russian Admiral to Admiral Trost on his visits, the posters Admiral Bacon purchased in Russia showing the American
submarine as the menace, are evidence that the bastion plans came into being in response to the Soviet judgment that the correlation of forces did not favor them at sea.