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  • This Post Has Absolutely Nothing to do with Coronavirus

    Posted by David Foster on April 18th, 2020 (All posts by )

    The US Naval Institute has posted some links to their archives.  This one is interesting:  a 1912 think piece on the future of the submarine, written by then-lieutenant C W Nimitz.



    8 Responses to “This Post Has Absolutely Nothing to do with Coronavirus”

    1. Grurray Says:

      In comparing the invulnerability of the submarine with that of the battleship, we find that where the battleship has armor whose resisting qualities are always more or less doubtful, the submarine has complete invisibility until within torpedo range, and after ‘arrival within range has only two very small periscopes momentarily exposed over a hull about twelve (12) feet under the surface.

      The comparison between subs and large surface vessels is more relevant than ever in the age of long range missiles and strategic choke points like the Hormuz, Malacca, and the South China Sea. The Pentagon has tended to want all its eggs in one basket like with the supercarrier USS Gerald R. Ford. It’s not clear when (or if) it will ever sail, and when it does will it ever be able to fight within 500 miles of the shore?

      Or when we do start with a small focused platform, mission creep blows it up into a Frankenstein monster like the Littoral Combat Ship that was already obsolete when it was finally launched.

      The Navy under Trump seemed like it was moving in the right direction, but they just announced they were slashing the budget for new attack subs. Like other navies are now doing, we need to start exploring less expensive propulsion systems.

    2. Assistant Village Idiot Says:

      That boy did his homework

    3. MCS Says:

      The most notable omission was any mention of air craft. This isn’t too surprising in 1912 and Nimitz surely made the transition well before most naval commanders.

      The most vivid picture is of a group of submarines charging into battle, madly ringing bells. I had somehow missed that the bells were ever a thing. They don’t seem to have survived till WWI.

      Surely a better than average proportion of accurate prediction to misses.

      Aircraft and radar proved to be the most effective nemesis of submarines. Now I believe that even submerged nuclear subs or, more properly their wakes, are visible in synthetic aperture radar images of the ocean surface.

      Military budgets are no more immune to pension liabilities than any other part of government. We’ll keep building carriers the same as we’ll keep building heavy bombers, until they’re all shot down and sunk or they’re so expensive that we can no longer afford even one.

    4. Deep Lurker Says:

      Along similar lines, a 1919 report by Lt. Col. D.D. Eisenhower on a trans-continental army convoy. Link

    5. David Foster Says:

      He emphasizes the awfulness of gasoline engines on a submarine; entirely consistent with the experiences of Captain von Trapp:

    6. Mike K Says:

      The problem with submarines in WWII was the torpedoes which were hand made at the Navy Torpedo Station. They did not work and were so expensive that they were not tested.

      The story is in this book. “Iron Men and Tin Fish.”

    7. Mike K Says:

      On the topic of Eisenhower’s 1919 road trip, I have been reading a series of novels on WWI. They are quite informative and are written by an author whose books I have read almost all of. The trucks used by the British in WWI were often Foden Steam Lorries.

      They had solid tires as Eisenhower describes.

    8. MCS Says:

      I think it was possibly as late as 1930 before balloon tires had progressed enough for heavy trucks. The Interstate Highway system was an initiative of the Eisenhower administration.

      So much of the 20th Century was either invented or first made practical in the first two decades. Airplanes, automobiles, radio, synthetic nitrate fertilizer.

      The one thing that there’s no evidence of is any concept of occupational safety. Iron men indeed.