Comment and Discussion

Since 1986, the Soviet Union has undertaken a sophisticated diplomatic and economic campaign, buttressed by a strong public influence and access throughout the Pacific. A common theme of this campaign, reiterated by Admiral Chernavin, depicts the U. S. forward-deployed maritime forces as a threat to the future stability of the Pacific and East Asia. The real threat to the stability of the area would be if the U. S. forward-deployed maritime forces were pulled back. Recent history and today's reality support the view that U. S. presence is the reason for, not a threat to, the area's stability and the subsequent East Asian/West Pacific economic resurgence.

Further, this campaign portrays Soviet military doctrine as oriented toward defense and as such poses no threat to the countries of the Pacific Rim. Admiral Chernavin cites General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev's speech in Krasnoyarsk on 16 September 1988 as the centerpiece of the Soviet Union's willingness to reduce tensions in the region. In that speech, Gorbachev contended that "The Soviet Union will not be increasing…the number of any type of nuclear weapons in the region." Shortly thereafter, however, the Soviet Union transferred a Delta-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine to the Pacific from the Soviet Northern Fleet, measurably increasing the Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile force and its capabilities in the Pacific. There are now 17 Delta-class submarines in the Soviet Pacific Fleet. More recently, Admiral Chernavin's navy has also moved a Charlie-class SS-N-9 anti-ship missile-capable nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine to the Pacific.

Admiral Chernavin also argues that "despite recent claims in the press in several countries about increases in the number of ships in the Soviet Pacific Fleet…its makeup from 1984 to 1988 decreased by 55 units." However, what he omits stating is that many vastly more modern ships have been added to that fleet during this same period. While the total may represent a decrease in numbers, it is a major increase in capability. Furthermore, while the scope of out-of-area operations by Soviet combatants has been less extensive since 1985 , the measure of presence by Soviet intelligence collection ships in the vicinity of the Hawaiian Islands has grown from 60 ship days in 1986 to more than 250 ship days in 1987 and 1988. In addition, air activity and day-to-day training to support readiness has also increased. But most importantly, the Soviet Union's Pacific Fleet remains the largest of its four fleets and possesses a more significant offensive capability than a few short years ago. Regardless of the claims that the Soviet Union espouses a defense-oriented military strategy, I have yet to see any concrete signs of their defensive strategy in the Pacific.

While I welcome this promising example of interchange with the Soviet military and its senior leaders, as a military commander I must consider both capability and intent in my estimate of the strategic situation in the Pacific. What I see is a Soviet Fleet in which offensive capability continues to get better. This is in striking contrast to the Soviet pronouncements of its defensive intent.

The fact that Admiral Chernavin responded to the Naval Institute's initiative suggests that there is certainly something happening inside the Soviet Union today. What it is, what it means, and how long it will last, or in the case of military force reductions, when it will start, are all as yet unclear.

 

"Soviet Strike Warfare in the Pacific"

(See D. da Cunha, pp. 57- 63, February 1989 Proceedings)

Captain P. J. Doerr, U. S. Navy (Retired)— Mr. da Cunha summarizes neatly the growth of the Soviet Pacific Ocean fleet's strike air anti-carrier capabilities; thereby serving a potentially useful purpose. Unfortunately, he uses a pejorative viewing-with-alarm approach—one more appropriate for some yellow tabloid than for Proceedings —that seriously detracts from its utility.

The point about the Backfire anti-carrier warfare exercise against the USS Midway (CV-41) and the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) in 1982 was that we got them. (The author was in the Midway at the time, by the way.) And the general effectiveness of fleet anti-air warfare against the Backfire has not been a particularly big secret, whatever the one-time response to a reporter's question may have been at the time.

The selective and out-of-context quotes from a 1986 statement by Admiral Lyons and a 1983 statement by a fleet staff officer establish not a disagreement between the two, but the carelessness of the quoter. The two statements are actually quite consistent with each other.

The "unwise…serving [Chief of Naval Operations] CNO" can no doubt defend himself against Mr. de Cunha's hubris. But it is not out of place to note that the Navy has been saying the maritime strategy is not a contingency plan. And anyway, if the Soviets want to disperse their Backfires to less well-defended bases than Alekseyevka, I am sure our strike pilots won't object too strongly.

The final patronizing assertion that the United States is ignoring all these developments that Mr. de Cunha has cited is what really bugs me. I hope the book he is working on proves more scholarly and less tendentious then this effort.

 

"Damage Control"

(See J. Jackson, A. Conklin, J. Taussig, G. Shiele, J. Glass, W. Dewes, and L. Schaffer, pp. 117-131, December 1988; M. J. Lundeen, p. 80, January 1989 Proceedings)

Commander John Hubbs, U. S. Navy (Retired) —Iwant to compliment and congratulate each of the authors who wrote such informative and thought-provoking articles on damage control. There should be more of this type of involvement.

I completed 30 years in our esteemed Navy in the disciplines of carpenter's mate, damage controlman, hull technician chief petty officer (damage control), chief warrant officer (hull) and commander (hull). I was selected by the Navy to serve as damage control assistant on the New Jersey (BB-62) during her recommissioning and service in the Vietnam War. Although I retired from the Navy in 1974 as Director Damage Control Training Center, Treasure Island, my thoughts and ideas for ways to help the Navy in Damage Control matters have remained alive.

  • I have thought for many years that the name of "damage control" should be changed to "damage prevention and control." We all recognize the need for the many preventive and preparatory measures that must be done before damage control measures can be enacted after sustaining damage. Prevention and preparation need to be emphasized more and should be included in the entire program. The name "prevention" invites new ideas and suggestions, and inspires new thinking for inception and use in the fleet and naval shore establishment.
  • A logical follow-on to my first suggested change would be to modify the title of damage control assistant to damage prevention and control officer. The responsibilities of this job and the vital importance of this program is too critical for the title of "assistant." I further suggest introducing an incentive program (earlier promotions, increased recognition, publicity, etc.) so that more young officers and enlisted personnel will aspire to enter into this specialty of damage prevention and control.
  • Many years ago, I recommended that the Navy modify a ship scheduled for scrapping to accommodate realistic and effective firefighting and damage prevention and control training. The ship could be configured within a minimal cost because the technical expertise and ingenuity of the U. S. sailor are second to none and their talents can be used most effectively. This idea was shelved at that time as too cost-prohibitive; however, there is always a right time for a good idea and now may be the time. Let's demonstrate that the Navy can use its talented personnel even more effectively. I do not propose or suggest that the existing firefighting and damage prevention and control training schools in operation be closed. They are essential and needed.
  • I believe in requiring all hands, including female shipmates, to undergo periodic firefighting and damage prevention and control training. Although this instruction or directive may be in effect at present, we should have a more effective follow-up and monitoring system to ensure that the training is proper.

 

"Is There a Place for the Woman Marine?"

(See M. B. Hall , p. 112, November 1988 Proceedings)

Midshipman First Class Kristin A. Reynolds, U. S. Navy, U. S. Naval Academy— The issue is no longer whetherwomen can or cannot fight. Military women in future conflicts will have to fight.

Women now are serving in warfare specialties and female officers command, for example, communications posts and supply depots. By failing to teach women defensive tactics, the Navy denies female commanding officers the skills to defend their command success fully.

Existing programs, such as the General Defense Force School, provide small arms training for controlling unruly mobs and could be expanded to include training for repelling terrorist or elite troops. Women chosen for command should participate in these programs and could be required to go to firefighting and damage control school, where training provides the leader with the skills to make levelheaded decisions in life-threatening situations. In practice, though, before the Navy and Marine Corps can modify their training programs , the Secretary of Defense needs to clarify our national policy toward the role of women in the military.

 

"So Long, Mr. Nice Guy"

(See R. Fraser, pp. 36- 44; July 1988; R. E. Korroch , p. 89, August 1988; K. J. Barry, pp. 79- 84, September 1988; 1. Siegel and M. Cohn, p. 22, October 1988; T. Jamison, p. 24- 27, November 1988; R. W. Bodvake, pp, 24- 25 , January 1989 Proceedings)

Captain W. G. Griswald, U. S. Coast Guard, Chief Auxiliary, Boating, and Consumer Affairs Division Office of Navigation Safety and Waterway Services— MidshipmanBodvake seems to have missed the vital concept of the U. S. Coast Guard Auxiliary. By demeaning its performance and capabilities of its members, he is comparing apples and oranges.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary was established by Congress to assist the Coast Guard in effecting rescues and, more prominently, to promote recreational boating safety by fostering boating safety education. It is a boater-helping-boater concept. The unusual search-and-rescue (SAR) cases requiring large vessels and heavy equipment are not ordinarily the province of the Coast Guard Auxiliary.

Mr. Bodvake would have people believe Auxiliarists sit by the radio and listen for an emergency—Ma and Pa grab the oars, run down the ramp and speed to the scene. Avast!

Coast Guard Auxiliary crews and vessels are carefully chosen. Operational Auxiliarists are trained to the Commandant's specifically directed level of expertise. Crews are not necessarily cronies or family shipmates, but professionals under Coast Guard orders and supervision . Any Auxiliarist who has mastered and been tested on the contents of the Boat Crew Qualification Manual, containing more than 700 pages, certainly can be considered equivalent or superior in talent to almost anyone offering assistance in a recreational SAR case.

Vessels, before being accepted and classified as ready operational facilities, must meet stringent capability and equipment requirements. (CB radios, incidentally, are not required as part of the Auxiliary or Coast Guard equipment so as not to encourage pleasure boater's reliance on a communication medium that is not always adequate.)

Auxiliary vessels are never assigned to a task the Coast Guard command judges to be beyond their capabilities. They are, though, often chosen because of their shallow draft or the crew's knowledge of local waters. Auxiliarists may decline any task the vessel operator or owner does not feel confident to attempt.

As for aids to navigation (AtoN), Mr. Bodvake is completely uninformed on the Auxiliary mission. The Coast Guard, with its fleet of buoy tenders, has no need of Auxiliary vessels for this work. Auxiliarists do, however, take special training for carrying out AtoN patrols that detect and report AtoN deficiencies and possible changes in landmarks, as well as check private aids to navigation. This is a valuable service not only to the Coast Guard, but to the Department of Commerce's National Ocean Survey chart updating program—and ultimately the entire boating community.

The very nature of Auxiliary membership, which includes many retirees, negates Mr. Bodvake's contention that it is a part-time organization. Many Auxiliarists work full time on Auxiliary programs. There are Auxiliarists always at the ready.

The $156,914,000 of marine property assisted or saved and the 458 lives saved in 1988 alone, speak for the efficiency of the Coast Guard Auxiliary. The number of people and boats who did not need help because of Auxiliary public education courses or courtesy marine examinations of the boats may even exceed that figure. Thousands of boaters who have been aided by the Auxiliary will say that the Coast Guard Auxiliary is doing a great job—exactly the job Congress requires of it. They will say that the Auxiliary is voluntarism at its best.

 

"Keeping Faith With Marine Aviators"

(See R. G. Barr, pp. 66- 72, January 1989; H. W. Parthum, p. 33, March 1989 Proceedings)

Captain Michael H. Decker, U. S. Marine Corps —MajorBarr convenientlyoverlooks the obvious solution to Marine Corps pilot retention problems. It is the solution currently used by the U. S. Army: warrant officer pilots! You take applications from hard-charging sergeants who have about five years in service and a demonstrated desire to make the Marine Corps a career. You make them warrant officers and obligate them to ten year's service upon completion of flight school. Problem solved. Airlines shop elsewhere.

 

"Bucher on the Pueblo"

(See L. M. Bucher, pp. 38- 39, February 1989 Proceedings)

Captain Daniel M. Karcher, U. S. Navy (Retired) —Commander Bucher's articlewas quite a shock to me. For many years I have been chided by my friends in other branches of the armed services for the "cowardly performance" of a brother naval officer, Commander Bucher, in the Pueblo affair. I was embarrassed, humiliated, and frankly , quite open in also condemning him for giving up his ship without firing a gun-better to have gone down with flying colors than to have accepted capture by the North Koreans! But now there seems to be more to this incident than previously known.

The U. S. Government and the U. S. Navy came out of this affair looking rather sad in the eyes of the world. I think it is time to reevaluate Commander Bucher's performance as commanding officer of the Pueblo considering the circumstances under which he found himself, and to establish who is really responsible for this operation.

What is the real story concerning the Pueblo?

 

"Battle Force ASW: M3"

(See P. D. Voss, pp. 52- 59, January 1989; G. H. Montgomery, p. 29, March 1989 Proceedings)

Master Chief Aviation ASW Operator Joseph C. Mosier, U. S. Navy— Protectingthe "center of gravity" is a useful restatement of the primary goal of battle force antisubmarine warfare. Achieving it through the means detailed by Commander Voss may not be easy. He proposes redefining sea-control threat zones to include a 100-nautical-mile inner defense zone and stresses the need to " circle the wagons" within that zone. The inner zone would exceed 30,000 square miles. For the eight-to-ten ship carrier battle group (CVBG), this leaves too much circle for too few wagons.

The rationalization for increasing the burden on ASW assets is that we should employ a "one-size fits all" approach to composite warfare commander planning. The elements of search planning, e.g., target speed and own-sensor detection ranges, vary among warfare areas. Threat zone definition can be expected to vary as a result. This can create coordination problems, but force-fitting unrealistic commonality offers greater hazards.

Commander Voss writes using a static framework. A target is in the inner zone or the outer zone. Assets are assigned area tasks or battle-force tasks. The struggle is a sea-control or a sea-denial one. Such static conceptual differentiations tend to deemphasize the tactical fluidity of the ASW battle. Search conditions, level of hostility, and relative location of friend and foe are in constant flux. The skilled ASW tactician will avoid concentrating on how things were and focus on what they may become. All subs targeted against mission-essential units will strive to close for the attack. We must not let arbitrary labeling of assets as inner/outer zone or area/battle force interfere with "killing 'em where they're at."

Commander Voss exhibits platform parochialism in decrying the assignment of destroyer squadron commanders (ComDesRon) as ASW commanders. While the DesRon staff is small and short on air ASW experience, there is a corresponding lack of understanding of the surface force on the part of the carrier (CV) community. In my experience, there is a dearth of the "surface ASW specialists" that Commander Voss wants to employ among the carrier's officers. Training initiatives at fleet ASW training centers on both coasts have helped eliminate some of the blinkers that platform communities wear when viewing one another. A few weeks of schooling, however, are still insufficient to replace years of deck-plate experience. One apparent solution to the knowledge problem would be to place the ComDesRon on board the carrier and integrate carrier ASW module (CY-ASWM) officers into his staff.

As much as I would like to stand one-in-twenty watches, integration of 60 air-wing aviators and naval flight officers into the ASW tactical watch officer rotation is impractical. Demand for their exceptional skills to provide both ASW and other warfare services in the air precludes their ready availability for shipboard watches. Still, their inputs must be sought, particularly during pre-deployment workups. During this phase, their involvement in planning and critique of exercises is vital to development and widespread acceptance of battle-group ASW doctrine. Once the CVBG has deployed, however, doctrine should be set, and the squadrons' role is to execute it professionally.

Finally, Commander Voss does not mention the subordinate warfare commander who is assigned to fight the close-in ASW battle, the screen commander (SC). In three CV-ASWM assignments, I have seldom seen the SC's role or tactics given more than cursory thought and virtually never seen ASW melee tactics thoroughly practiced. The possibility of a successful penetration cannot be wished away. Without prior consideration and training, this phase of the battle will look more like a demolition derby than Commander Voss's orderly circling of the wagons.

Lieutenant Jeffrey H. Richards, U. S. Navy —CommanderVoss's discussion of antisubmarine warfare strategy and the concept of zoned employment of assets to the best advantage is excellent. Having served on board a nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine during many small and large exercises, I have firsthand knowledge of the ASW tactics and assets use by my floating and flying brethren that were both effective (resulting in only distant "sniffs") and poor (resulting in crosshairs on the carrier).

I note, however, as I am sure others who wear dolphins must have, that Commander Voss omits any mention of U. S. Navy submariners as a necessary part of the battle-force ASW commander's team, no matter where it is embarked. Perhaps only a post-command Soviet submarine CO could be more valuable to this team than one of our post-command skippers. And what about those junior officers who "have the best ideas anyway?" Submarine lieutenants and lieutenant commanders who are on department head tours are by definition ASW experts and should be considered vitally important to the makeup of this team. Neither in the battle-force commander's destroyer-embarked team of "seven to nine surface warfare specialists and a single aviator" or in the carrier-embarked team of "40 ASW aviators in the fixed-wing…and 20 aviators in the ASW helo squadron" does Commander Voss mention the existence, desirability (or even possibility) of submariners as a part of the team.

I am aware of a current program that sends some submariners on department head tours to some battle-force ASW staffs. I am also aware that submarine-qualified officers at any point in their career are a valuable commodity in short supply, and that this cross-deck tour might be considered "dangerous" to a career by some in my community. There seems to be some resistance and unwillingness on the part of the submarine community to provide, and for the ASW commanders to demand, the full implementation and expansion of a program that would place more submarine officers in positions on the ASW commander's team of experts. I welcome word from anyone who will tell me I am wrong on these last points.

Full use of these positions would provide excellent peacetime training for all involved. Besides the immediate benefits to battle-force ASW employment, officers returning to the submarine fold would have received the best possible grooming for a prospective CO, and for such jobs as sub group or fleet command when they become post-command COs. Full integration of submariners into battle-force ASW teams would place these submarine officers in the best position to protect the most valuable assets of the Navy and to do the most damage to the enemy in time of war.

Omitting submarine officers from the battle-force ASW team is a reflection on the attention currently given to this subject by the Navy as a whole. It is also surprising in light of his own statements:

  • "…battle force or local ASW requires a thorough understanding of the submarine's environment, capabilities , and ultimate objective."
  • "An effective sea-control defense is not achieved unless the ASWC [ASW commander] looks at a potential engagement through the submariner's eyes: 'There are only two types of ships…submarines and targets!'"

More of these submariner's eyes on our "targets" might just make them much more difficult for the enemy to hit!

Lieutenant Commander James G. Stavridis, U. S. Navy —I disagree with Commander Voss's central argument that the antisubmarine warfare commander (ASWC) for the battle group should be the CO of the carrier instead of the destroyer squadron commander (ComDesRon).

He claims the Des Ron staff is "…only marginally familiar with the capabilities of the forces they control…and…inclined to use the few reserved ASW radio networks continuously for logistics communications." He touts the carrier CO as a better ASWC because he integrates his staff with the embarked air-wings aviators, realizes that the carrier is the submarines primary target, and can use the carrier's ASW module network as a command post.

As a surface officer who has served as ASW officer on a Spruance (DD-963)-class destroyer, served on a DesRon staff that planned and conducted ASW exercises, and served as a ship 's force officer on a carrier, I have observed ASW conducted both from the carrier and the surface ship, and by both the DesRon staff and the carrier. In my opinion, the best of all possible worlds is a ComDesRon as ASWC embarked on the carrier, which is routine practice in the Pacific Fleet and called for by Navy tactical doctrine. The DesRon embarked in the carrier is a better choice than carrier CO as ASWC for several reasons:

  • Experience: A senior surface line officer selected for major command of a destroyer squadron typically has spent the bulk of his seagoing career involved in integrated ASW operations. He has served on many ships whose primary mission is ASW. He has approached ASW as a combined arms exercise from his first day at sea, working to coordinate air, surface, and subsurface platforms in finding and killing submarines.

The CO of a carrier, by contrast, is typically from the attack or fighter community. He has at best a nodding acquaintance with ASW, except in the extremely rare case of an air ASW (VS) or helo ASW (HS) background. While he knows quite a bit about flight operations, he generally knows far less than a typical ComDesRon about surface ships, towed arrays, coordinated operations with submarines, general Marine operations, and ASW.

  • Focus: The ComDesRon is a dedicated submarine killer. He doesn't have to worry about complex flight deck operations, managing a 5,000 man city, conducting Alfa strikes, navigating a large carrier, training a huge wardroom, or any of the other myriad of concerns that press on the time of the carrier CO. While the carrier CO obviously has a great deal of help, the ultimate responsibility and accountability for so much of the battle group 's mission is on his mind. The ComDesRon, by contrast, spends the bulk of his time thinking about and executing ASW.
  • Training: The ComDesRon and his staff undergo a long workup of courses, exercises, and training events that sharpen their knowledge and readiness to conduct ASW. The carrier CO, by contrast, receives far less actual ASW operational training in the pipeline preparing him for his command.
  • Staff: While embarked in the carrier, the DesRon staff has full access to all the ASW assets of the carrier, including the helpful advice of the VS and HS aviators. In most battle groups, the DesRon directs an ASW committee that brings together the best ASW minds in the battle group for regular discussions. DesRon staffs on the West Coast are typically staffed with both a light helicopter ASW squadron and a P-3 aviator or naval flight officer, giving them the best overall level of broad platform experience.

As far as Commander Voss's allegation that Des Ron staffs are only marginally familiar with ASW platform capabilities and use tactical ASW circuits for logistics, I can only conclude that he and I have deployed in vastly different battle groups of late. My experience with DesRon staffs is that they are acutely aware of the full range of capabilities of the many platforms they direct, and that logistics are handled on separate circuits (typically teletype) set up for that purpose. His contention that the CO of the carrier is a better ASWC because his ship is the main target doesn't make sense. Should the merchant CO in a convoy command the escorts screening him or control the tactical battle because he rides on the primary target?

 

"The Navy's Final Frontier"

 (See A. Skolnick, pp. 28-35, January 1989; G. B. Thamm, p. 31, March 1989 Proceedings)

Captain Roger C. Burk, U. S. Air Force— CaptainSkolnick strains out a gnat and swallows a camel. He calls on the surface, submarine, and aviation communities to unite in supporting the Navy's need for space systems, but he wants Navy-unique systems under Navy acquisition control. Doesn't he see that it would be as silly for the military services to pursue unique systems as it would be for the Navy's warfare communities to do so?

There is no such thing as a service-unique spacecraft system. The one past exception, Transit, is being replaced bythe multiservice Navstar. All other satellites have either multiservice or national missions. (Remember that the Fleet Satellite Communications System [FltSatCom] carries an Air Force transponder.) Satellites are naturally global in coverage and don't lend themselves to dedication to one service or one theater. Those in low-orbit pass within sight of each spot on the Earth within their inclination band twice a day. Those in high orbit see most of a hemisphere at once. Furthermore, the missions that satellites commonly perform—communications, navigation, surveillance, and weather—are important to all the services. It doesn't make sense to try to build a Navy-unique satellite system. It would duplicate capabilities that other services would also need to buy for themselves.

Perhaps Captain Skolnick's desire for Navy-unique satellites is a symptom of an unresolved doctrinal problem in the U. S. military. Tactical commanders dislike relying on non-dedicated assets because they're unfamiliar, they can be taken away, and they can't be relied on to support the commanders' needs fully. Neverthelesscentral management of military spacecraft is the only practical choice, not only because of their global coverage and missions, but because of the unique technical requirements of space flight. The problem is how to manage military spacecraft sensibly without losing dedication to the ships, squadrons, and battalions that engage the enemy.

 

"Safeguarding the Hospital Ships"

(See A. M. Smith, pp. 56-65, November 1988; D. Scott, p. 16. February 1989 Proceedings)

Gerald C. Cauderay, Technical Adviser, International Committee of the Red Cross, Geneva —Thesafety and, consequently,the protection of hospital ships and other medical transports at sea has always been a major concern of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). My predecessor, Mr. Philippe Eberlin , has published several articles on the subject.

It is true that the sophisticated technology used in modem warfare does require medical transports to be respected and protected beyond the visual range of their protective, identifying emblems recognized by the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949.

In this respect, the regulations concerning identification, in Annex I to Protocol I additional to the Geneva Conventions of 1949 provide for additional technical means of identification.

In January 1986, the ICRC organized a consultation on the methods of identification and signaling for means of transport protected by the second Geneva Convention. This meeting of governmental technical naval experts, which took place in Geneva, permitted a large exchange of views on the subject of technical means of identification, which could be used by medical transports protected by the Geneva Conventions to ensure their protection and safety during armed conflicts. On the basis of the expert's opinion, the ICRC decided to continue its work in this field.

In November 1986, the Twenty-Fifth International Conference of the Red Cross adopted a resolution (Resolution Number III) on the identification of medical transports. Point 4 reads as follows:

"…welcomes the ICRC initiative to consider the possibility of drawing up, in consultation with governmental technical naval experts, a technical manual intended to facilitate the practical application of Second Geneva Convention and invites governments to co-operate with the ICRC to this end."

We have now drawn up a "draft manual for the use of technical means of identification by hospital ships, coastal rescue craft, other protected craft and medical aircraft" that has been submitted for evaluation , on a strictly private basis, to a limited number of experts in the most important maritime countries. The replies we have already received and the comments are extremely positive and encouraging.

 

"Loosening the Stranglehold on the Royal Navy"

(See J. Jordan, pp. 34-39, March 1989 Proceedings)

"Britains's Surface Navy—Whither Away"

(See P. Stanford, pp. 44-48, January 1989; B. Linder, p. 20, March 1989 Proceedings)

John Neimer, former electrical artificer in the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm and currently head of a department of the British Aerospace Dynamics Product Support Group— Britain's history teachesus that if we neglect our maritime interests we do so at our extreme peril; conversely, when our maritime affairs prosper so does the country as a whole. Yet, as in many other spheres of activity, British students of military history have to read a foreign analysis (i.e. Alfred Thayer Mahan) to find a clear enunciation of the principles for the effective application of sea power and how it enables the other arms of policy to come into play.

It is against this background of historical ignorance that one should read Admiral Stanford's and John Jordan's articles. All that they say about the current Royal Naval scene is lamentably evident to anyone interested in maritime affairs. I do not entirely share John Jordan 's views on the need to maintain the British Army and Air Force together with their dependents and associated impedimenta in Germany. It would surely be more economic for the troops and squadrons to be based in the United Kingdom and to use their German airfields and barracks as forward bases.

I do agree, however, with Mr. Jordan's conclusions—both implicit and explicit. It is implicit in his call for reequipment of the Royal Navy and rationalization of its supporting ship builders that the maritime aspects of Britain's NATO participation need to take a preeminent position in our defense policies for it is upon command of the North Atlantic seaways and the Western approaches to Europe that the decision in the Central Front battle would depend. Furthermore, the outcome of that naval battle would introduce a degree of uncertainty in the success of an armored thrust across the central front that even the most fanatical Soviet tank general would have to take into account. Perhaps the 50 frigates could not stop a Soviet invasion fleet; but those same frigates in the North Atlantic could fight through the resupply convoys bringing the personnel and weapons that would stop the Soviets reaching the Channel coast.

With John Jordan's explicit conclusions I agree entirely; scrapping Trident could (if the money was not siphoned away for nondefense expenditure) bring great benefits to all three services. Apart from the question of the government's acceptance of such a policy, however, the scrapping would only benefit the navy if it were accompanied by acceptance of the maritime imperative. This is unlikely, given the attitudes in Whitehall described by Admiral Stanford.

Non-naval people find it hard to imagine how a few ships, manned by determined sailors , by virtue of the force-multiplying effect of almost limitless mobility, can have an effect out of all proportion to their size and number. Therefore, an enormous education effort will be necessary to convince the government that such a change in emphasis would not just enhance the career prospects of sailors, but would benefit the nation and its NATO partners.

Non-naval people, particularly politicians, must realize that the term , "maritime affairs" embraces every aspect of a country's seagoing life, including the merchant marine, the fishermen , and the shipyards. In Britain all these have been neglected and allowed to decay, whilst the once great ports of London, Liverpool, and Southampton have been laid waste by the suicidal dock labor scheme that guarantees stevedores a wage even if they never work.

But worst of all , the reason for maintaining a maritime tradition and the dependence of Britain on the sea have virtually ceased to be taught in our schools. The names of Horatio Nelson, Cuthbert Collingwood, Sir Francis Drake, Sir Walter Raleigh, Sir Martin Frobisher, which used at least to be found in school textbooks, are now know to few people under the age of 30. Once Rudyard Kipling's words, written during World War I, would have had deep meaning for every Briton; now they are mere poetry:

"Then what can I do for you, all you Big Steamers,

Oh what can I do for your comfort and good?

Send out your big warships to watch your big waters

That no one may stop us from bringing your food.

"For the bread that you eat and the biscuits you nibble

The Sweets that you suck and the joints that you carve

Are brought to you daily by all us Big Steamers

And if anyone hinders our coming—you'll starve!"

Bearing in mind that it was an American who set down the principles of sea power by which Britain prospered and ruled two-thirds of the surface of the globe, perhaps another American, a new president with a naval background, could gently explain to our strong-willed prime minister the realities of sea power and its often unseen and unappreciated effect on every aspect of military operations!

The present government is insisting on establishing a common curriculum for the country's schools and as part of it the need for an understanding of our history and its lessons for the present and future. One can only hope and pray that the trend of the last 40 years will be reversed and a maritime people will once again come into their birthright.

 

"Oh, For a Ship That Can Keep the Sea"

(SeeL. G. Halloran, pp. 66-67 , December 1988; w. Hass, p. 23, February 1989 Proceedings)

Sub-Lieutenant R. N. Lane, Royal Navy— Asa note of interest concerning LieutenantCommander Halloran 's search for seaworthiness in U. S. Navy ships, I thought I would provide readers with one of the Royal Navy's solutions.

To keep one's meal stationary on the table, Royal Navy ships use rubberized, nonslip place mats. These can be easily cleaned and stowed and in a force 8 sea state are capable of holding steady everything from a tall pepper grinder to a can of beer.

These mats have made messing much easier in our ships and I believe they are a much better solution than velcro.

 

"Retiring a Legend"

(See J. F. Lehman, pp. 60- 64, January 1989 Proceedings)

Francis Duncan —FormerSecretary ofthe Navy John F. Lehman Jr. accomplished a deed that many of his predecessors had attempted and failed. He fired Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. His book Command of the Seas is a fascinating account.

For some years I was assigned to the Division of Naval Reactors, Department of Energy, at the request of Admiral Rickover. In the course of my work I visited the laboratories, land prototypes, contractor facilities, shipyards, and went on initial sea trials of submarines and surface ships. I came to admire the admiral, his organization, and his work. Frequently I had occasion to talk with the admiral, sometimes just after the events the secretary describes. These conversations offer a different perspective.

Dr. Lehman took his oath of office on 5 February 1981. High on his list of priorities was getting rid of Admiral Rickover. For some time the admiral had been reappointed to his position, leading the joint Navy/Department of Energy naval nuclear propulsion, every two years. The term that the admiral was serving when the secretary was sworn in would end on 31 January 1982. The secretary had slightly less than 12 months to achieve his goal. In looking at his target, the secretary acknowledged: "While even his [Rickover's] close supporters admitted that he had slipped, he was by no means senile or incompetent."

As week succeeded week in the new administration, Admiral Rickover wondered why he had not been called to the secretary's office, why the secretary showed no interest in meeting the officer who was responsible for one of the Navy's most important programs.

On 26 March 1981, Admiral Rickover met with Admiral Thomas B. Hayward, Chief of Naval Operations. They discussed several topics, among them the issue of a successor. Admiral Hayward wanted a properly qualified deputy and successor in place should Admiral Rickover become incapacitated or die. Admiral Rickover pointed out he already had a deputy. (He was referring to a civilian engineer who had entered the nuclear propulsion program in 1957 and had served in increasingly responsible positions.) Admiral Hayward thought the successor should be a nuclear-trained line officer. Admiral Rickover replied that nuclear training did not necessarily qualify a line officer to understand the technology, deal with contractors, or handlepolitical matters—all vital aspects of the naval nuclear propulsion effort. From this discussion Admiral Rickover gained the impression that Admiral Hayward would not oppose extending Admiral Rickover's term another two years (until 31 January 1984) but he would be against a further extension. Admiral Rickover said his intention was to retire at age 84, the age he would be if his term were extended.

Secretary Lehman says he received an unclassified , unaddressed , unsigned document dated 1 May 1981 titled "Notes on the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program. " He knew it was "authentic only because" he had been warned for several days that he would be "honored by a direct communication." Because it was unsigned, unaddressed, and unclassified, he knew that it was going to be sent to other individuals. He goes on to say that the document dealt with the Department of Energy's role in safety and budgetary matters, and how shipbuilders pressing claims were dealing directly with the Navy secretariat.

The secretary had another reason for knowing the document was authentic—Admiral Rickover gave it to him. He gave it to him in the secretary's office late in the afternoon of 1 May. Upon returning to his own office, the admiral remarked that he had told Secretary Lehman that he was giving copies of the document to the Chief and Vice Chief of Naval Operations. He said that the secretary had asked why. The admiral had replied that he also reported to these officers and that it was customary and proper that they know of the matters he took up with his superiors.

By August, the secretary knew he had achieved the goal that he had so early set for himself. Congress, the admiral's support in past years, would not oppose the retirement. In mid-September the secretary had things well in hand. Secretary of Defense Caspar Weinberger had agreed to a transition plan. Its main points were naming Admiral Rickover's successor before 31 January 1982, the expiration date of his present term. The admiral would be asked to stay on for two months to assist his successor, and then would be offered the position of Nuclear Science Adviser to the President.

Although Secretary Lehman knew that he had won, apparently he felt it necessary to continue to assert to the public—and therefore to Admiral Rickover—that the admiral was a valuable asset to the nation and that, although consideration was being given to replacing him, no decision had been reached.

On "Newsmaker-Saturday," shown by Cable News Network on 21 August, L. Edgar Prina of Copley News Service asked the secretary if the admiral was going to be retained. Secretary Lehman said, "That is a decision that hasn't really been made yet, nor seriously addressed at this time."

On 22 September ABC television correspondent Tom Jarrel interviewed the secretary. One topic discussed was the difficulties General Dynamics was having at Electric Boat. (Because the typed transcript of the interview is rough in spots, I inserted some punctuation in the following quotations.) It clearly shows the secretary's tactics. Lehman praised the admiral, saying:

"We have very stringent requirements of quality control. Admiral Rickover has his own very strict standards of procedures of doing everything. Every change made in the submarine is almost personally approved by the admiral. As a result we have the finest submarines in the world—without question."

Asked about retention, he said:

"Anyone who is really a national institution—and Admiral Rickover is—is controversial. Also, anyone who accomplishes anything by virtue of that accomplishment makes enemies as well as advocates. I have heard all sides and all tales hypocriphal [sic] and otherwise about the admiral. Obviously Admiral Rickover has strong views, strong feelings about the Navy, about the role of nuclear power, the role of submarines, about the way of doing business with contractors. He has a right to speak out in a big way because of the contributions and success he's had.

"Sooner or later we have to plan for a transition and when that time will be, I'm not in a position to say now. Only to say no final decisions have been made. He has such an invaluable position—the contribution he has made and is making is so crucial to the future of the Navy that his office simply can't be treated as any other routine assignment for a four-star admiral or a three-star admiral or for three three-stars or however you want to try and replace him.

"Admiral Rickover's planning must be done and great care must be taken. Eventually, whether it be this year or sometime in the future Admiral Rickover has to be replaced sooner or later, as we all do, as I do, even you do, to mention it. It is a decision taken with great care because it is not just one of our ship programs. He is responsible for the central one, our nuclear program."

Admiral Rickover and his senior staff were aware that reappointment was not going smoothly. They knew the usual firm support from Congress had gone soft. Although the admiral had earlier obtained the support from the Secretary of Energy for his reappointment, indecision on the part of the Navy created uncertainty. With Admiral Rickover's knowledge, his people began to prepare for the worst.

"In early November," the secretary recalls in his article, "everything had come together well." He had nothing to fear from Congress. Secretary Weinberger had obtained President RonaldReagan's consent to the transition plan. Mr. Lehman had prepared a press release and a talking paper for Secretary Weinberger's approval. They agreed that Secretary Weinberger would call Admiral Rickover to his office on Friday, 13 November. He would be told the decision had been made. He would be asked for his cooperation and assistance in the transition.

On 9 November, however, the decision leaked out of the White House—apparently the only unplanned event in the entire campaign the secretary had so carefully staged, orchestrated, and managed.

By whatever means it came about, the leak occurred while Admiral Rickover was on the sea trials of the nuclear-attack submarine USS Boston (SSN-703). He returned home, late at night, enthusiastic about the trials but exhausted. Mrs. Rickover, who had heard on the radio that he was to be relieved, met him at the door. She asked if he had heard the news. He had not. It was she who had to tell him. To her, he said: "Well, that's it."

The next day at his office Secretary Lehman told the admiral he would not be reappointed. The secretary noticed that Admiral Rickover was not surprised. Possibly there were three reasons:

  • He knew the decision from the leak.
  • He may still have had hopes, derived from the newspapers, that his friends in Congress might yet turn the tide.
  • He also might have had in his mind a remark that President Reagan made at his press conference. In answering questions about the admiral's retirement, the President tossed off a comment that William E. Gladstone, Prime Minister during the reign of Queen Victoria, reached the height of his power at age 83. The press had seized upon the comment to speculate that the President might retain the admiral.

The secretary writes he was present at the 11 November launching of the Trident-missile submarine Ohio (SSBN-726), but he is in error. The ship was launched on 4 April 1979, two years and seven months earlier. He had attended her commissioning, not her launch. The secretary remarks with surprise that the admiral was dignified and polite. Why he should have been surprised is not clear. To those who attended the ceremony, one of the high points was a speech by Vice Admiral Steven A. White, Commander Submarine Force Atlantic Fleet, and a nuclear-trained officer who knew firsthand the contributions and achievements of Admiral Rickover. Considering public interest, the presence of then-Vice President George Bush, Lehman, and Admiral Thomas Hayward, it must have taken some courage to declare that Admiral Rickover was the "greatest American patriot who in the fullest sense dedicated his entire life to his country."

"Not even my wife speaks to me that way," Admiral Rickover remarked.

Either on the flight to the submarine base at Groton, Connecticut, or on the flight back, Admiral Rickover and Admiral Hayward spoke of the future of the naval nuclear propulsion program. Both men agreed that the program could face a very serious problem. The administration was giving very serious consideration to abolishing the Department of Energy. Should this occur the nuclear propulsion program would be greatly affected. The admirals thought the program should remain a joint undertaking of the Navy and the entity that succeeded the Department of Energy. As Admiral Rickover recalled the conversation, Admiral Hayward wanted his assistance in obtaining congressional support for maintaining that structure. Rickover agreed.

On Friday, 13 November, Admiral Rickover met in the office of the Secretary of Defense with Secretaries Weinberger and Lehman. Secretary Lehman says that Secretary Weinberger made every effort to "sugar coat" the President's decision. Mr. Weinberger said that he had spoken to the President, who wanted the admiral to provide for an orderly transition, a process that might take months. He urged the admiral to accept the nuclear science adviser position. The admiral, although pressed several times, refused. The admiral later remarked that throughout the meeting Mr. Lehman was ill at ease, embarrassed, and avoided looking at him.

That afternoon Secretary Lehman held a press conference. He said that Admiral Rickover had not been fired, but that the President had decided to begin a transition. He said he and Caspar Weinberger hoped Admiral Rickover would help select a successor and oversee the transition for as long a period as necessary. He also stated the admiral had not refused to become the President's adviser in nuclear science. Mr. Lehman said that the admiral had not slowed down or lost the full vigor and capacity he had always had, but "we need a man in that job to begin soon to worry about the next decade, who we can be confident will be able to carry out the job for at least the next ten years or so…Admiral Rickover is in the full blush [sic] of his capabilities and faculties and he wants to keep fully active in the national security area, so he doesn't have a desire to retire…I could not conceive of Admiral Rickover not being called on frequently and daily for his continued advice on the naval reactors and military applications [of atomic energy] as well."

To Admiral Rickover this was all sugar coating. While the secretary might speak of transition, the admiral knew he was being fired. While the secretary states that Admiral Rickover was being asked to help select his successor, he writes in his book and article that a successor had already been picked. The secretary could not conceive of Admiral Rickover, as the President's nuclear science adviser, "not being called on frequently and daily for his continued advice." But Admiral Rickover had no illusions. He knew the job had no substance, that the phone on the desk would never ring.

The press conference and the accompanying press release announcing the President's decision made a congressional rally in support of the admiral impossible4 A rally probably was impossible anyhow. The administration was new and Congress was not ready to challenge the President on the retention of an 81-year-old man, no matter how good a job he had done. Many senators and congressmen who had supported Admiral Rickover for years were gone. On 7 December 1981, Lehman sent a letter to Admiral Rickover confirming the decision that his term would expire 31 January 1982.

The admiral had one chance left. If he could talk frankly to the man in charge—the President—face to face. The secretary had arranged for the admiral to meet the President on 8 January. The admiral arrived at the White House first. When Secretary Lehman entered the reception room, Admiral Rickover realized he was to be denied this chance. He was angry. It was even worse when he and Secretary Lehman entered the Oval Office and found Secretary Weinberger, Chief of Staff James A. Baker III, and National Security Advisor William Clark, already with the President. Instead of having a chance to set forth his arguments to the man who was to make the decision, he was simply to be photographed with the President and exchange pleasantries. Again he was angry.

One part of the scene described by the secretary is puzzling. He relates that Admiral Rickover said about being fired: "I read it in the paper. No one even had the decency to tell me before it was announced."

The secretary said, "Mr. President, that is not true. We had several meetings with Admiral Rickover before it appeared in the paper."

Yet the first time the admiral learned of the decision was the press leak of 9 November 1981. And it was the next day that the admiral met with the secretary to hear the decision. There could not have been several meetings with Admiral Rickover.

When the admiral left the White House it was all over.

The secretary is obviously proud of the campaign he ran with so much skill and adroitness. Those who know Admiral Rickover well, and that includes many who have felt the lash of his anger and who have differed with him strongly, may feel differently about the way Secretary Lehman achieved his goal. Admiral Rickover was one of the authentic heroes of the Navy, one of those few to have made their greatest contribution in a time of peace. He deserved better than Byzantine maneuverings. Maybe it would have been better to have leveled with him, to have been as tough with the admiral as he was with others.

"Retiring a Legend" was hardly the secretary's finest hour.

 

"A Farewell to Dutch Courage"

(See B. W. Blee, pp. 64- 69, February 1989 Proceedings)

Specialist Sixth Class Lybrand P. Smith, U. S. Army (Retired)— Whilereadingthis article, a ditty my father, Captain Lybrand P. Smith, U. S. Navy, taught me when I was a child kept running through my head:

"Josephus Daniels is a goose

If he thinks he can induce

The officers to drink grape juice

In the Armored Cruiser Squadron."

The song had many more verses, but that one is the only one I remember after some 50 years.

Another aside: in my readings I came across references to British seamen who often bet part of their grog ration into "sippers" and "gulpers."

 

"Who Will Man the Merchant Ships?"

(See E. J. Higgins, pp. 35-37, February 1989 Proceedings)

Commander Edward J. Bender, Jr., U. S. Naval Reserve —CommanderHigginsmakes an admirable attempt to solve a problem that most government officials have wished for years would just go away. Manning was an on-going problem 14 years ago when I joined the U.S. Maritime Administration (MarAd); only then they were worried about how they were going to fill the National Defense Reserve Fleet, not the Ready Reserve Force.

Unfortunately, the problem has no easy solution. In these times of decreasing private fleets and expanding numbers of government ships reserved for sealift programs, the disproportion of available qualified bodies versus billets is just going to get worse.

Although innovative, some of Commander Higgins's suggestions for improvement just will not work. MarAd is not going to shift attention from the subsidy programs (some of which will continue for years despite efforts to destroy them) to the manning problem. A modified operational differential subsidy (ODS) program will not work either. To paraphrase some of the current thinking in Washington: "if it walks like ODS and talks like ODS, then it is ODS." And no one in the Bush administration or Congress will pay for it.

Merchant Marine manning may be too difficult a problem to solve with today's massive deficits. It's just too bad that when we did have the capability of doing something about it, we didn't!

 

 
 

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