Preservation, Education, and Commemoration of Naval History
Seawolf: Maritime Strategy Covered In Sub History Seminar
With the Covert Submarine Operations exhibit in the National Museum of the U.S. Navy’s Cold War Gallery serving as a backdrop, a large crowd filled the Gallery’s North Hall on the evening of 11 April 2013 (coinciding with the Submarine Force’s 113th Birthday) to witness and participate in a program titled “Seawolf and The Maritime Strategy: Examining the Relationships of Policy, Strategy, Technology, Tactics and Acquisition.“
In what has become a fixture on the April calendar for over a decade, the joint Naval Submarine League – Naval Historical Foundation Submarine History Seminar reviewed how the U.S. Navy’s posture changed from the Carter years of being a reactionary one that assumed the Soviet Navy would replay the role of the Germans in fighting a Battle of the Atlantic III, to a proactive strategy during the Reagan years that aimed at attacking Soviet ballistic missile submarines at the onset of war. A key was a realization by American Navy leaders that the Soviets had little interest in using their submarine forces to interdict allied operations in the North Atlantic. This shift in American thinking on how to employ forces in a general war with the Soviet Union became known as “The Maritime Strategy” and the Seawolf submarine, of which only three were built, was designed as a big, fast, quiet, torpedo-laden weapon system that could effectively operate in hostile waters.
Norman Polmar’s Corner: Disappointing Captain Beach
By Norman Polmar
As mentioned in previous blogs, in the early 1960s I was befriended by then-Captain F.J. (Fritz) Harlfinger and then-Commander Dominic Paolucci. At the time they were the head and deputy head, respectively, of the submarine warfare branch in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.
They took the trouble to introduce me—a young journalist at the time—to most of the early skippers of nuclear-propelled submarines: Eugene P. Wilkinson, first C.O. of the pioneer Nautilus; William R. Anderson who commanded the Nautilus on history’s first trans-polar voyage;Richard B. Laning, first C.O. of the second A-sub, the Seawolf; James Calvert who commanded the Skate on her first two polar cruises; John H. Nicholson, who took the Sargo on her remarkable polar cruise; James B. Osborn, first skipper of the George Washington, the first Polaris submarine; Edward L. Beach, C.O. of the giant, two-reactor submarine Triton; and, indirectly, to B.F.P. Samborne, first C.O. of the Dreadnought, Britain’s first nuclear submarine. All helped me with my first book, Atomic Submarines (1963).
2013 Submarine History Seminar: Seawolf and the Maritime Strategy
Policy, Strategy, Technology, Tactics, Acquisition: the interrelationship of these five distinct but related spheres of interest and the activities associated with each is not always apparent, even to those in high level positions in the various spheres. An examination of the 1981-1986 Maritime Strategy and the coincident design and construction of USS Seawolf offers an unusual opportunity to view this interrelationship. The seminar will focus on the influence of policy on the design, operation and acquisition of submarines as well the influence of submarine and anti-submarine operations during this period on policy, strategy and acquisition.
Registration: Call 703-256-0891 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
NHF Chairman ADM DeMars Donates Collection of Submarine and Aircraft Carrier Christening Photo Albums to Navy
Naval Historical Foundation Chairman Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret) recently made a generous donation to the Navy’s photo collection. Admiral DeMars, a submariner, finished up his forty-four years in the Navy with eight years as the Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion. Amongst the many items in his personal collection were a series of photo albums covering the christening and launching of nine nuclear powered warships. He recently decided to present these albums to the Naval History and Heritage Command, to ensure their availability to future generations.
On February 17 1864 the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley sank the sloop-of-war USS Housatonic, in Charleston Harbor off the coast of South Carolina. Hunley also sank with its crew of eight, but earned a place in the history as the first submarine to sink a ship in wartime.
This drawing of Hunley is by R.G. Skerrett, 1902, after a painting then held by the Confederate Memorial Literary Society Museum, Richmond, Virginia. NHHC image NH 999.
On 30 December 1959 USS George Washington (SSBN 598), the US Navy’s first Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine, was commissioned. On display at the Cold War Gallery at the Washington Navy Yard is a model of the submarine in a floating drydock, which includes a small fragment of the boat’s hull (George Washington was decommissioned and recycled in the 1990’s).
Learn more about this exhibit and others on display in the Covert Submarine Operations Exhibit, now open to the public at the Cold War Gallery: http://usnavymuseum.org/Ex2_CovertSubOps.asp
BOOK REVIEW – Athenia Torpedoed: The U-Boat Attack That Ignited the Battle of the Atlantic
By Francis M. Carroll, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD. (2012)
Reviewed by David Kronenfeld
Athenia Torpedoed is the latest work by Canadian history professor Francis M. Carroll. The author of ten books, Professor Carroll is currently professor emeritus at the University of Manitoba. Athenia Torpedoed documents the passenger ship Athenia’s background, sailing, sinking, and resulting personal and political fallout. Carroll painstakingly compiled dozens of first-hand accounts from crew, passengers and rescuers to paint a complete picture of the events surrounding the sinking of the first Allied vessel lost to U-boats in what became known as the Battle of the Atlantic.
Call for Papers: Battle of the Atlantic – 70th Anniversary Conference
May 2013 marks the seventieth anniversary of perhaps the major turning point in the Allied victory over the Germans in the Atlantic during the Second World War ‒ the defeat of the Uboats in mid-ocean. The official commemoration in Liverpool over the weekend of 25-26 May 2013 provides the opportunity for a preceding two-day conference on 23-24 May, where the various aspects of the campaign can be remembered, studied, and discussed.
(Learn more about the conference here)
Photo: German sub under aerial attack, 1943. NHHC image USN 208284, L-File.