Cheers for Submarine Coverage
Lieutenant Commander M. F. “Barney” Bakara, USN (Ret.)
As a retired U.S. submarine veteran, I am always interested in submarine-related articles, but the October issue is over the top! “The Submarines of October” and “Cuban Crisis, Northern Vantage” were very informative and reminded me of sea stories my older brother Dave used to tell me about when he was operating a torpedo retriever out of Goat Island at Newport, Rhode Island, during the Cuban Missile Crisis. And “Pieces of the Past” was a great sea story and much appreciated. Awesome issue!
Lee (Aryeh) Wetherhorn, former lieutenant, USNR
The October 2022 issue was great. I especially enjoyed reading the “As I Recall” story on Admiral Thomas B. Hayward’s efforts to combat drug abuse in the Navy. It brought back memories of when I was the (collateral duty) legal officer on board the USS Okinawa (LPH-3) off Vietnam. We caught a mid-watch fantail lookout whose alert status was somewhat impaired. Urinalysis showed he was under the influence of barbiturates. I assembled a special court-martial roster, the captain approved, and we began a trial.
We expected a quick conviction. But the accused sailor came up with an original defense: He claimed he always had tested positive in urinalysis. He was immediately tested again, and, sure enough, the test came back positive.
The president of the court was not impressed. He ordered the man confined to medical isolation for 24 hours, followed by another test. When it came back negative, we added another count to the charge sheet, found him guilty, and sent him on his way.
Later, I had a conversation with the medical officer. He told me we were actually very fortunate. The barbiturates had cleared out in 24 hours. But there were some types that might still have given positive urinalysis results as much as five days later.
Source Sheds New Light
David F. Winkler, PhD, Staff Historian, Naval Historical Foundation
I appreciate Naval History publishing the article “Great Britain’s Great Blunder” as the Naval War College’s “Strategy and War” course includes the American Revolution as a case study, and the Battle of the Capes receives its deserved attention.
The statement in the article, “when [Rear Admiral Samuel] Hood reached the entrance of the of the bay on 25 August, he found no French fleet,” echoes what historians using secondary sources have written over the better part of two centuries. Credit now is due to retired Senior Historian of the Navy Michael Crawford for having clarified the record on this detail with his article “New Light on the Battle Off the Virginia Capes: Graves vs. Hood” (The Mariner’s Mirror 103 (2017): 337–40). With the goal of completing the Naval Documents of the American Revolution series (13 volumes can be found at www.ndar-history.org.), the Naval History and Heritage Command acquired copies of deck logs of all the warships in Hood’s fleet. Dr. Crawford painstakingly plotted the latitudes and longitudes of each of Hood’s vessels and concluded that not one came within visual distance of the Chesapeake Capes. DeGrasse’s fleet could have been there (it wasn’t).
In the end, did this affect the outcome? Not really. However, it’s a great example of how primary sources can still provide new insights into our interpretations of history.
Craig Andrews, former musician first class, USN
The article on the discovery of the wreck of the USS Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) also mentions the wreck of the USS Johnston (DD-557). Both ships were sunk during what is arguably the most valor-filled action in the long history of the U.S. Navy, the Battle off Samar, one component of the October 1944 Battle of Leyte Gulf.
The mention of the Johnston turned my thoughts to Commander Ernest E. Evans, the destroyer’s indomitable skipper. Evans was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor. The Navy has named just one ship after him, the USS Evans (DE-1023), decommissioned in 1968. It’s high time to name another ship after the valiant Evans, perhaps an Arleigh Burke–class guided-missile destroyer or one of the planned Constellation-class guided-missile frigates.
A More Bitter French Memory than Trafalgar?
Captain Rocco Tomanelli, USN (Ret.)
The article regarding the infamous 1940 British attack on the French fleet at Mers-el-Kébir brought back the memory of a wardroom conversation at French Navy Fleet Headquarters when I was the 6th Fleet officer assigned to the French admiral’s staff in Toulon in the late 1980s.
Following some rather disparaging comments on the Royal Navy by one of my French counterparts, I remarked that it was interesting how Trafalgar still rankled the 20th-century French Navy
To my surprise, he quickly responded that it was Mers-el-Kébir, not Trafalgar, that was why some French officers still harbored a dislike of the Royal Navy.
Corrections: The photo of the USS Kearsarge (Battleship No. 5) on page 11 of the October issue actually shows the ship from aft, port side. In the photo of a diorama depicting the capture of U-505 on page 62 of the October issue, the ship in the background is one of the destroyer escorts, not the escort carrier USS Guadalcanal (CVE-60).