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Books for Korea
Rear Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, U. S. Navy.—This winter I visited Chinhae, Korea. Chinhae, as you will note by looking on a chart, is on the southern shore of Korea and has a very beautiful bay. At this spot is located the Korean Naval Academy, their only shipyard, and their only technical school. We went over in an APD. When we came alongside the dock in a small boat, the Korean Naval band started to play. They gave the usual honors as we stepped on the dock. A battalion of bluejackets and all their officers were lined up for our inspection. At first glance, the scene was unimpressive. The uniforms were faded and worn, and their footgear was down at the heels. That is, the scene was unimpressive—until you looked into the faces of those in the ranks, as well as of the officers who were leading them. They were serious, intent, and respectful. It wasn’t funny to them, nor was it funny to us. They were there to show us what they could do with what they had, and the fact that so many of their uniforms were made out of blankets, their shoes didn’t match, and their caps were nondescript, made no difference to them. And it made no difference to us, either!
We went through their Naval Academy. Their classrooms were entirely unheated, and there were many broken window panes. The day was cold. The students sat on wooden benches facing small wooden tables. The benches and tables were unpainted and looked as if they might have been made from packing boxes or similar rough lumber. The students had very few textbooks; sometimes the instructor had the only one in the class. There was a crude blackboard where the instructor drew his diagrams and outlined the solution of the problem.
It was necessary for the class to wear overcoats and gloves in order to keep warm. These young men didn’t let that interfere with their work at all. They sat at attention, and our entry into the classroom caused only a very small disturbance. They were intent upon what the instructor had to say, and they copied his diagrams and his descriptions in their notebooks because this was to be their only source of information. They had no regular textbooks. Here again we were impressed—and I mean impressed clear down to the keel—with the earnestness of those people and their desire to learn.
We were informed that their Naval Academy is the only institution of higher learning in Korea. The entering class consisted of a hundred students who were selected from thousands of applicants. Selection was on a purely competitive basis and was extremely strict. So strict that the Superintendent’s son failed to enter. Their course is three years long and covers approximately the same subjects as our Naval Academy.
Our Navy has one young Lieutenant to assist in the running of the Korean Naval Academy. This Lieutenant is a Ph.D. in Education from Johns Hopkins, and has taught in and helped establish N.R.O.T.C. units in the United States. He told us that these young midshipmen were always as intent and eager to learn as they appeared to be while we were there. In other words, they were not simply putting on a show for our benefit. He also stated that the education which they received was comparable to that given in our Naval Academy. These young men knew just as much mathematics, just as much seamanship, and just as much of other subjects as our graduates did—only they were getting it under far more difficult circumstances.
We inspected their dormitories and their messing compartments. They were austere, really austere, but they were well-kept, clean; and the few books they had, with their pitifully few belongings, were kept in shipshape condition. It has been a long time since I held a locker inspection, but these lockers would have passed muster any place, once you forgave the fact that they were unpainted and that the lockers had been made out of crude lumber by the students themselves.
Their Naval Academy, as I stated before, is the only institution of higher learning in Korea today. As a result, many professors from their other universities are ’teaching there. They teach for rice. They teach from memory and a very few textbooks.
We later inspected their ships and their shipyard. Their ships are kept running and they operate with less maintenance than we do. Their shipyard has equipment which we would have discarded before 1900, and yet they keep modern shipborne engines operating. Their ships are clean enough to put most of ours to shame—and this is under war conditions.
What I am really driving at, is that these people stand for no foolishness. They are deadly serious in trying to build a good Navy. They are proud of their accomplishment, and they are grateful to us for the help which we give them. Each one of us was impressed by how much they do with so little, and how grateful they are for the little things which we have been able to do for them. They were so grateful that we were ashamed of ourselves. We were ashamed because we haven’t been able to do more. We were ashamed because of the lack of earnestness, the lack of interest, which is sometimes shown within our own Navy under conditions which are immeasurably better than those under which these people are working and fighting. It brought a lump to the throat when we saw these youngsters trying so hard to learn with so few textbooks.
I know that there is not very much the
Naval Institute can do to provide them with textbooks, but I’m sure that you can send a few books to them. I am sure, too, that even wornout books would be gratefully received. They have no library. Any book, whether it is about the Navy or whether it is a technical book or not, would benefit them. There must be a great many naval officers who have old textbooks which they are not using. There must be many spare books scattered around in naval libraries which could be given to them. If there is anything the Board of Control of the Naval Institute can do, as the Naval Institute or as individuals, to ship books, especially technical naval books, to them, I’m sure it will be gratefully appreciated by the ROK Navy and by those of us who have seen the magnificent work which that small Navy has accomplished. The address to which books should be sent is:
ROK Naval Academy
c/o Commander M. J. Luosey, USN
COMNAVFOR, South Korea
Fleet Post Office
San Francisco, California
(Editor’s Note.—As a result of Admiral Burke’s suggestion, the United Slates Naval Institute has already forwarded several hundred books of professional and technical content to the Korean Naval Academy as a donation from the Institute.)
The Tehuantepec Tunnel
Mr. William H. Hobbs.—Under “Discussions” in these Proceedings for August, Commander Arthur S. Riggs, U.S.N.R. (ret.) has raised objections to the proposed dimensions for my project of a combined open- cut and tunnel sea-level canal across the Tehuantepec Isthmus in Mexico (see these Proceedings for last February, pp. 127— 135). This project after approval of an expert committee of engineers appointed by the President under House Bill 313, is now as H. R. 5219 before Congress for definitive approval.
The main objection of Commander Riggs is to the widths proposed for both open-cut and tunnel, 175 and 135 feet respectively, and this because of the well recognized difficulty of navigating vessels within restricted channels because of “bank suction.” He has overlooked the provision that transit- ting vessels, once they have entered the proposed canal, would not be navigated at all but be towed by electric mules off each bow and quarter, for which electrification is provided.
It is remembered that the old flattop Lexington was towed through the narrow places in the Panama Canal with only inches of clearance. Our largest battleship, the big “Mo,” with a beam of 108 feet, could be towed through the open cut of the proposed canal with clearances off each beam of 33.5 feet in the open cut and 13.5 feet in the tunnel. The big liner Queen Elizabeth with beam of 118 feet would have corresponding double clearances of 28.5 feet and 8.5 feet. Some additional tens of feet of clearance is provided above the tow tracks for the possibly wider flight decks of future flattops.
Commander Riggs also claims that 250 to 300 feet, instead of the proposed 175 feet, would be the required minimum height of the tunnel. The big “Mo” has a height from keel to stack tops of about 150 feet, and allowing 20 feet of clearance under her keel and five feet above her stacks, this would come within my figure of 175 feet. The keel clearance of 20 feet would probably not cause serious “drag” at the slow rate at which she would be towed.
Possibly Commander Riggs has been thinking of the lofty radar masts of the larger vessels, but these would, of course, be provided with knee joints for lowering to the height of the stacks when transitting the canal.
It is quite possible that the dimensions of the proposed canal can be somewhat reduced by the engineers who work out the detailed plans, with corresponding reduction of the cost.
Vocational Schools and the United States Navy
(See page 73, January 1949 Proceedings)
Bureau of Naval Personnel Training Activity.—In answer to Mr. Dyson’s suggestions in his article in the January Proceedings, vocational high school teachers are being encouraged by representatives of the Training Activity, Bureau of Naval Personnel, to interest themselves in the Naval Reserve Program and have been told that limited numbers of copies of such publications as Advancement in Rating Courses will be provided for them upon request. Every effort is likewise being made to have at least one professional educator, such as a vocational high school teacher who is a Reserve officer, attached to each Organized Division, either in Organized or Associated Volunteer status. Furthermore, vocational high school teachers are encouraged to slant their instruction, including shop projects, toward Naval matters whereby, for example, a' class in metalsmithing might make some article of Naval character rather than some other type of object. It is believed that this approach to the vocational schools is most practical and is adequate at the present time while the Naval Reserve is still in the process of development. Close liaison between local reserve divisions and local vocational schools has already provided excellent results in the Thirteenth Naval District wherein local vocational teachers actually instructed Naval Reservists in local vocational schools pending completion of a Naval Reserve Training Center.
U.S.S. Oregon: Pathfinder
(See page 951, August 1948 Proceedings)
Mr. Robert A. Low, Advertising Manager, The Saturday Review of Literature, New York.—On page 951 of a recent issue of your publication there appeared a reference to The Saturday Review which is entirely erroneous. In fact the reference is so preposterous that we wonder where the author, Wm. O. Foss, found his information.
The Saturday Review was founded in August, 1924. The Saturday Review did not warn any one about the unknown quantities of naval warfare of 1898.
May we hear from you?
Reply by Mr. William O. Foss.—In regard to The Saturday Review “incident,” I wish to state that my source of information was Marrion Wilcox’s book, A Short History of the War with Spain. The Saturday Review referred to was the old London publication, Saturday Review of Politics, Literature, Science and Art, and not the New York publication, The Saturday Review of Literature.