Commander William Earl Fannin, Class of 1945, Capstone Essay Contest
A tribute at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum overlooks the impact the submarine fleet had on destroying Japan’s warships in decisive World War II battles.
During World War II, the United States first utilized submarine warfare to effectively cripple its enemy. Although they comprised less than a mere two percent of the U.S. Fleet, submarines played a disproportionately significant role in the victory over Japan. 1
In fact, the role of the “silent service” can hardly be overstated. Submarines were solely responsible for over half of Japanese tonnage sunk during the war. 2
The U.S. Naval Academy Museum features an exhibit detailing the importance of submarines in the Pacific theater; its focus, however, is too narrow, concentrating almost exclusively on the role of submarines in destroying merchant shipping. While submarines played a significant part in the defeat of the Japanese Empire through guerre de course , the display does not adequately address the impact they had on the destruction of the Japanese fleet. Furthermore, the exhibit fails to elaborate on the numerous problems that had to be solved before the service became an effective combat arm of the Navy. The exhibit also inadequately portrays the cost of success, in terms of lives, that was paid by the men of the submarine service.