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Do We Need an Undersea DEW Line?
Joseph Morschauser, III, Scarsdale, New York.—It is readily admitted today that one of the gravest threats we face is the Russian submarine fleet. Despite new techniques being worked out for hunting down and killing submarines, we are not even near to countering this threat. The seas off our coasts are far too vast and deep for us to cover in the way our continental airspace is covered by radar. We might with unlimited funds build thousands of sonar stations in a line two or three hundred miles off the coast. But such a line would be an imperfect defense and would also bankrupt us, leaving nothing for weapons. A Maginot-like line of sonar picket posts is not the answer to the Russian submarine threat to our coasts.
What this country needs is a mobile warning defense in roving depth, a dew Line of the seas composed of a series of constantly shifting sonar picket posts. We cannot cover every square mile of sea, therefore an enemy must be denied knowledge of just what areas are or are not covered at a given moment.
It should be obvious that a small fleet of sonar picket ships always on station off our coast is what is needed to provide a minimum warning defense. What is needed is a silent ship with long cruising radius, good sea-keeping qualities in all weather, and large enough to provide space for sonar devices and comfortable crew quarters. Although the Navy today has no such ship in service, the design has long been available.
I speak of the ocean-going commercial fishing trawler or drifter. Such a ship has ample space in its hold for huge amounts of sonar equipment, fuel tanks, stores, and quarters. It also has a small sail which allows it to drift or move very slowly without any use of noisemaking screws. A sonar-equipped trawler or drifter which entered into the Gulf Stream off the Keys in Florida could almost drift in a straight line up our coast without ever having to make use of its engine. Its sail, though small, would provide some headway. At the same time, with engine secured, it could make full use of long-ranging active and passive sonar.
A drifting trawler could be equipped with deep-diving, torpedo-shaped sonar heads. These could be towed by cable but kept deep by their fins and their echoes would seek out submarines hiding under thermal layers of the sea. These drifting trawlers would of course have engines for use in dangerous weather. Although they might be armed with homing torpedoes, their primary mission would be to search, not to kill.
With a number of these drifters moving slowly up our Atlantic coast at intervals, enemy submarines would have a much more difficult task of penetrating our defenses. The drifting listening posts would always be on the move and submarines would never know when or where they were without actually making sonar contact. The trawlers would be a dew Line, always moving, silent and unknown, except to us.
Francis M. Holbrook, Panama City, Florida.—The large tug shown astern of the battleship Connecticut, in the bottom picture, is the Imperial of Baltimore, carrying on her stack the white “W” of her owner, Winfield S. Cahill. I helped build this tug, was aboard her when she was launched, made her trial trip down the Chesapeake, and went to sea in her several times later, as guest of the captain and owner.
(See pages 71-79, January, 1958 Proceedings)
Abelardo R. Miranda, Isla de Pinos, Cuba.—The first notice of Greely’s unfortunate expedition was obtained by the Swedish naturalist and explorer, Baron Niels Adolph Erik Nordenskjold. He was commanding a Swedish-Greenlander expedition, and was told by some Eskimos about Greely’s departure from Fort Conger in the fall of 1883 and about his establishing a base in a more southern island. (Fort Conger was the station founded by Greely at Discovery Harbor, near a coal deposit discovered in Lady Franklin Bay by the English captain, George S. Nares in the Discovery and Alert expedition.) Giving full importance to this new information, Nordenskjold commenced the proper investigations as soon as he entered Smith Sound, and, above the summit of Brevoort Island, he found a cairn containing Greely’s notes. These notes were dated October, 1883, and said that Greely had abandoned Fort Conger in August, arrived at Baird Inlet, in the east coast of Ellesmere Land, and camped near Cape Sabine on October 21; but that they had only forty days’ rations left and were consequently suffering from a great misery.
The discovery of these notes is attributed by Mr. Colwell to the search parties sent by Schley, but it is clear that Nordenskjold made some kind of contact with Schley, who personally went on board the Bear’s steam launch, undoubtedly accompanied by Colwell, whose journals give notice of the desolation encountered by the rescuers.
On or In?
Matt Hensley, Koloa, Kauai, T.H.— Does a man serve on or in a ship? My first encounter with “in” occurred in 1915 when
it appeared in connection with a flag officer “in” Wyoming. This was a double jolt, since it also marked the first time I had noticed the omission of “the” before a ship’s name. At first this seemed to be a prerogative of admirals, but shortly the “in” began to appear in connection with commanding officers. Presendy even junior officers were “in” ships instead of on them, as previously.
Actually it appears farfetched to say “in” a ship or any other large unit of transportation. On the other hand, small boats, trucks, or even land planes do not appear incongruous when preceded by the preposition in. Ships seem more at home when coupled to the word “on” or “aboard.”
(See pages 29-34, July, 1958 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Commander Bruce P. Hayden, usnr (ret.).—Captain Calkins’s splendid article raised again for me a question: Who in wartime Washington retained enough humor to select the names the Navy hung on some of its IXs?
I was exposed to two of these hulks, being first assigned to the USS Pegasus. This ship, far from moving with the speed of a flying horse, could not move at all. She was an antique freighter, of prewar Danish ancestry, and originally of diesel power. The diesels had long since broken down, spare parts were unobtainable, and the Pegasus lay in Leyte Gulf, movable only on the end of a towline. Later I was attached to the USS Antelope, another powerless hull.
What other speed-connoting names were used for these practically immobile ships? I don’t know and I would like to know.
Captain William F. Calkins, usnr.—Not guilty, Commander Hayden! I was not responsible for the naming of the Pegasus and Antelope, but I wish I had been.
Memory now is dim, but as I recall, there was no name category for unclassified vessels (IX). Usually, as you know, they were acquired by the Navy already built and afloat, and we left them with their original names. I recall brooding on occasion about IX-98, the USS Moosehead. Could she have been named for a town, county, river, Indian chief, or tribe? [Editor's Note: A lake in Maine.]
But take heart. Had I assigned a name, I might have selected Zeal, Dextrous, Eager, or Scurry. Or, we might have created a new category; Hawaiian fish (I tried them on submarines without success): Aha aha, Pauu’u, Po'opa'a, A’u, Uouoa, or Humuhumunukunuku.
It was a personal blow when “Mr. Roberts” came out with the USS Ennui. But, on the other hand, Antelope and Pegasus, in the frame of reference of your service, have a swing and deftness that I envy.
Suggestions for Improvement of USMC Junior Officer Lineal Precedence
Captain Albert C. Smith, Jr., usmc.—In the third year of commissioned service, a board of the Department of the Navy readjusts junior Marine officer positions on the lineal list. For regulars, precedence is determined by calculating a college percentile rating, based on the individual’s college, university, or equivalent academic standing. No other factor is considered in determining precedence of regular officers.
However, two factors are considered in determining precedence of reserve Marines; final standing in Basic School and a numerical score, computed from fitness reports accumulated during the first two years of service from date of rank.
One can easily conclude from these facts that a regular Marine officer is ranked long before commissioning time, not on the basis of what pertains to the service, but what he did in a non-related field. The reserve system makes much more sense. Here there is one system for all; officers go through the same school and take the same course, they are rated on leadership as well as on academics, and are placed in the Fleet Marine Force before their precedence is established.
This is the system that should be used throughout the entire Marine service, for both regulars and reserves.
Qualities of the Ideal Naval Officer
(See October, 1958 Proceedings, pages 71-75)
Commander G. B. Tamburello, usn.—I was most impressed with the article “The Ideal Naval Officer,” by Lieutenant Cone- jero of the Spanish Navy. It was refreshing to read a new slant with an Old World touch on leadership qualities inherent in the ideal naval officer.
Essentially, the basic attributes and traits established by the author can be applied universally to all military officers. There are indications that Lieutenant Conejero probably places heavy emphasis on the basic prerequisites of honor, valor, correct social behavior, and abhorrence of materialism because many individual officers of the Spanish Navy can trace their lineage and cultural background back to the naval heroes of earlier centuries when Renaissance culture was at its height. Since our culture has been more democratic, and less “steeped,” such emphasis certainly is not as apparent in our qualifications evaluation.
It would benefit the U. S. Navy if we could inculcate in our young officers more of a feeling for the Navy as a profession rather than a trade or a job. However, factors which mitigate against a return to a feeling of professional officer as expressed by Lieutenant Conejero are the huge size of our Navy, the frequent measurement of social status in the U. S. by how much money one makes, and the distractions of our society and comfort- filled homes.
I also was interested in the author’s comments on fellowship—I feel fellowship is lacking much more in shore establishments than in the fleet. A natural tendency is to work a full day and then go home to suburban living. However, mess dinners held quarterly or semi-annually would serve to unite and bring officers closer and help foster a more brotherly feeling. My recent tour with the Canadians convinced me that the semi-annual mess dinners in Ottawa, where many Canadian naval officers are on duty, served this purpose.
It has always been said that a wife can make or break an officer, but I had not seen the comment appear before in writing as a prerequisite for an ideal naval officer. There is no doubt, however, there is a great deal of truth that a wife plays a very important part. This article is a reading must for all those interested in obtaining a valuable yet different approach to leadership. This subject continues to deserve the attention of thoughtful naval personnel throughout the entire world.
USS Enterprise (CVS-6)
Mr. Norman C. Polmar, Silver Spring, Maryland.—In mid-August, 1958, the distinguished and veteran carrier Enterprise, seventh American warship to bear the name, was towed to Kearny, New Jersey, for dismantling. The new nuclear-powered Enterprise’ is currently under construction at Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company. Her planned light displacement is 85,000 tons, overall length 1,088 feet, hull beam 133 feet, flight deck beam 250 feet, and complement, 4,000. Completion is expected in the summer of 1961.
(See page 109, April, 1958 Proceedings and page 108, June, 1958 Proceedings)
Ralph C. Carroll, Jr., Cos Cob, Connecticut.—I have read the arguments for and against a memorial at the site of the USS Arizona. I believe the best and most fitting tribute would be to have the memorial at the site.
Japanese A.P. Projectile
Commander W. C. Chewning, usnr.— “The San Francisco Story” was of particular interest to me because it has provided some clues which will perhaps help in solving an old puzzle which has been on my mind since early in 1943.
At that time I was stationed on Guadalcanal as the Navy Bomb Disposal Officer. While there I was called to remove the unexploded projectile shown above. Seabees had turned it up by a bulldozer blade while making fighter strip §2. When I got there the bulldozer engine was still running and so was the driver—he was not in sight. After shutting off the dozer, I went to work. Although we had absolutely no information on such projectiles, I had just come back from Casablanca where we had investigated the unexploded projectiles from the Massachusetts and the Texas. In North Africa I had gained much first hand experience with major caliber unexploded shells, and also lots of hits which were thought to be duds, but really had functioned normally.
The fuze was buried quite deep inside the projectile base plate, and when finally removed was found to be unarmed. The design of the fuze was such that it was not bore-safe, and was intended to arm immediately upon setback. The projectile was located about a quarter mile inshore and practically at the surface of the ground, in a horizontal, north- south axis position. I could not for the life of me figure how it came to be where it was found. Certainly it was the wrong ammunition to be used in shore bombardment. Obviously it had not armed, although there was absolutely no reason for it not to have done so, and the fuze worked repeatedly after removal (without explosive, of course). The projectile could not have come very far without burying deep at the end of its trajectory. The round was certainly armor-piercing, with cap, windshield gone; 14-inch, boat-tailed, double rotating band combination gas seal; and it certainly was Japanese. Here was a pattern of an obviously low velocity (below arming setback force) inappropriate round for shore bombardment discovered where there was no reason for it to be. This was my puzzle, and I couldn’t forget it until it was solved.
After looking at the article picture on page 48, especially at the appearance of the dent in the barbette, and the direction of the shrapnel and fragments, I began to look for the old negatives I had. The picture on page 49 appears to me to be the base section of an A.P. round which had functioned in a perfectly normal high order explosion. This is certainly a typical base fragment, not something that had crumpled against armor plate. From the round which I removed, it was obvious that it had not been shipped fuzed as were ours, but each fuze was hand inserted and then sent up to be fired. Japanese incendiary rounds were certainly fired and it is logical to assume that they were loaded and ready when the Hiei came into contact. These were probably fired, and because of their much lighter weight perhaps were fired with one bag of powder, which gave ample velocity. When the A.P. rounds were sent up, the turret crew had no way of knowing, until they were told, that these were A.P. and weighed perhaps three times the weight of the incendiaries. Perhaps these A.P. rounds were also fired with one bag of powder. If so, what would be the result? If the initial velocity were borderline, some of the fuzes would fail to arm, and some might arm. The range would be short and the round hitting soft earth would not bury, nor would it go down and tumble around, as did those from the Texas and Massachusetts over in Africa. If it hit light armor plate, it would leave its imprint of the nose cap and most likely explode while still suspended in air against the side of the plate, since there was no powder delay charge. If the fuze had not armed, the round might still go off low order because the Japanese used a sensitive loading which under severe shock might explode at low rate of detonation, thus splitting the round. As for the holes from 14" through the ship; when an A.P. round explodes, as occurred on the Jean Bart, which we investigated thoroughly, three large fragments are made. Largest is the forward section of solid metal, next is the base, still large and quite solid, and then the nose cap, which can go anywhere. Just because you see a large hole in a bulkhead is no sign that a complete round went that way. The French reported 66 unexploded rounds on the Jean Bart, and investigation revealed only one, which had hit flat on the heavy armor deck and had popped the 12" baseplate out like a cork. Even then the fuze had worked.
Just because the theory fits the facts that I know to date doesn’t mean that this is what happened. Perhaps the clues which I am passing on to you will help your author in his own mind to be sure that his ship was not slighted by the Japanese. It seems to me that the San Francisco got the full, if low velocity, treatment.
John C. Carrothers, Summit, New Jersey.—One noticeable omission in “The San Francisco Story” is that young Lieutenant Commander Bruce McCandless was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his distinguished part in the story.
Fleet Admiral King
Captain H. K. Stubbs, usn (ret.).—At the time of Fleet Admiral King’s passing I was greatly distressed by what appeared to me to be a lack of suitable tribute.
It was my great privilege to have served as a member of his staff during his entire cruise as Commander Aircraft Battle Force. We were all afforded an opportunity to know him and appreciate his great abilities.
The fact that he was not an easy master, I felt, was born of the necessity of promoting maximum efficiency in those troubled times. I first met Admiral King officially when, as a station duty officer, I appeared before him at Captain’s Mast, as a witness concerning an infraction of regulations on the part of an enlisted man. I had heard some reports about his strictness, but Admiral King’s handling of this case was as near the fairness and wisdom of a Solomon as I have ever observed.
My next association with him had to do with observing the target practices of his ship. His ship was outstanding. I felt then, that if such ability and strictness had contributed to this fine performance, the Navy needed more Kings.
He was humble and showed the deepest concern for his officers and men when injured or in trouble. I felt that he was particularly considerate of me, an ex-enlisted man who had come up from the ranks.
When my regular tour of sea duty was about to expire, and he expected to remain at sea for some time, he did me the great honor of asking me to remain until he hauled down his flag in June, 1939. Upon my detachment, at that time, he endorsed my orders in his own hand, “Detached with Regret.”
I am honored to pay this humble tribute to a great man.
Barber’s Point Caption Correction
(See page 69, October, 1958 Proceedings)
Louis Braz, San Francisco, California. —During World War II Barber’s Point was not a Marine air and training facility but a full-fledged Naval Air Station, as it still is. The Marine air and training facility was located at the Marine Corps Air Station, Ewa, an independent station located adjacent to Barber’s Point. After World War II Ewa Marine Corps Air Station was deactivated and later absorbed by N.A.S., Barber’s Point.
Tribute to a Gallant Officer
(See pages 83-85, October, 1958 Proceedings)
Lieutenant Commander Donough Prince,
USNR-R, FRANCESTOWN, NeW HAMPSHIRE.---------- 1
regret that Mr. Bunker made no mention of LTJG Borum in his article on the last days of the tanker Brilliant. John Randolph Borum, of Norfolk, Virginia, with whom I had trained in early 1942, was a Navy Armed Guard officer on the Brilliant and in whose memory DE-790 later was named. He had tremendous courage and I have felt ever since the Brilliant tragedy that this officer deserved a better fate than to have lost his life and ship to wind and water after he had done his best against the ravages of a German U-boat.