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The Military United States News

Remembering America's Fresh Water Submarines 225

Hugh Pickens writes "As we move into Memorial Day and Americans remember the men and women who died while serving in the United States Armed Forces, I wanted to share the story of my Uncle Donald Cress born in 1922 in Bath Township, Minnesota who served as a Radioman, Third Class on the USS Robalo, one of the US Navy's 'Fresh Water Submarines' because they were commissioned in the Great Lakes. On the western shore of Lake Michigan, about 80 miles north of Milwaukee, lies Manitowoc, Wisconsin, a city whose shipyards had built car ferries and ore boats since 1902. In 1939 war broke out in Europe and President Roosevelt declared a limited National Emergency and U.S. Navy shipbuilders were concerned that submarine building capacity was not sufficient to support a long war. The US Navy asked the Manitowoc Shipbuilding Company to build submarines, a task far beyond their existing capabilities, but assured them that the Electric Boat Company, with the only shipyard in the country capable of building submarines, would provide plans and whatever assistance they would need. Manitowoc's shipyard grew from 500 employees to 7,000 employees at its peak working three shifts around the clock 365 days a year and by the end of the war had built 25 submarines in time to see action that together sank 132 Japanese ships. 'It appears from the results obtained at Manitowoc that given a set of good plans, competent engineers and skilled workman can follow them and build what is called for even though it might be very much more sophisticated than anything they have built before,' writes Rear Admiral William T. Nelson. But there was one more thing the shipyard had going for it. After Pearl Harbor the entire community was now engaged in vital and important war work, sacrifice was the order of the day, and each boat was their boat. 'With the entire community following the construction with such interest and spirit, success was inevitable.'"
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Remembering America's Fresh Water Submarines

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 28, 2012 @08:49AM (#40134375)
    Pretty crap statistics, seeing as the top 20 Kreigsmarine captains alone sank in excess of 1,700 ships.
  • Not surprising (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Kupfernigk ( 1190345 ) on Monday May 28, 2012 @09:07AM (#40134459)
    Though the drug dealers and pirates are doing quite nicely with their own efforts, thank you. Cheap submarines are potentially as big a threat to world peace as nuclear weapons.
  • id hate to echo the (Score:5, Interesting)

    by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Monday May 28, 2012 @09:49AM (#40134653) Homepage
    cynisism in this thread but its true. Memorial Day has been perverted by the government over time to enforce blind patriotic obedience. A sizeable number of service members have come home missing limbs, or rocked by bomb blasts to the full scale IQ of about 85. No one can remember what it was we fought for in iraq, and if they can they dont feel very accomplished or proud about it unless they were told to by a superior officer. We finally accomplished the goal of killing a "six foot tall diabetic" in afghanistan and whle that was supposed to usher in the end of the war on terror; it didnt. We have warrantless searches near borders, warrantless wiretaps, and we cant get on a plane or train without a physically degrading pat down or full-body x-ray that has begun to show potential as a cancer suspect agent. Our country beats a war drum every four years like clockwork, and every four years we're lulled into a state of cringing terror as the next theatre is prepared. we havent anything to commemorate today but the striking effectiveness by which private think tanks and policy centers incense us in favour of war.

    On the other spectrum we have private corporations that are trying their goddamned best to make sure you forget the consequences of war like economic depression, poverty, mental illness, death, and the never ending destruction of the constitutional rights by which every american lives freely. So long as you buy your budweiser and 1200 pack of hamburgers from walmart, and dont forget to let the kids wash down their potato chips and hot dogs with a 2 liter of your favorite black bubbly sodapop, most multinational corporations will openly and warmly continue gifting you an alternate reality from that of americas recent wars from viet-nam onward. its one of flags and fireworks, proud bipedal service members and smiling families celebrating whatever the exact opposite of this holiday commemorates.

    The only way to see exactly what this holiday is commemorating is to put down the remote, pull yourself off the couch and drive down to the VA hospital. I firmly believe if every american made the trip once, just once, then the next president to even mutter a sentiment about potentially starting war would find himself amidst impeachment.
  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Monday May 28, 2012 @09:52AM (#40134675) Journal

    And what if they don't have kids? Or don't care about their kids?

    Here's my proposal: http://slashdot.org/~TheLink/journal/208853 [slashdot.org]

    In the old days kings used to lead their soldiers into battle. In modern times this is impractical and counterproductive.

    But you can still have leaders lead the frontline in spirit.

    Basically, if leaders are going to send troops on an _offensive_ war/battle (not defensive war) there must be a referendum on the war.

    If there are not enough votes for the war, those leaders get put on deathrow.

    At a convenient time later, a referendum is held to redeem each leader. Leaders that do not get enough votes get executed. For example if too many people stay at home and don't bother voting - the leaders get executed.

    If it turns out later that the war was justified, a fancy ceremony is held, and the executed leaders are awarded a purple heart or equivalent, and you have people say nice things about them, cry and that sort of thing.

    If it turns out later that the leaders tricked the voters, a referendum can be held (need to get enough signatories to start such a referendum, just to prevent nutters from wasting everyone elses time).

    This proposal has many advantages:
    1) Even leaders who don't really care about those "young soldiers on the battlefield" will not consider starting a war lightly.
    2) The soldiers will know that the leaders want a war enough to risk their own lives for it.
    3) The soldiers will know that X% of the population want the war.
    4) Those being attacked will know that X% of the attackers believe in the war - so they want a war, they get a war - for sufficiently high X, collateral damage becomes insignificant. They might even be justified in using WMD and other otherwise dubious tactics. If > 90% of the country attacking you want to kill you and your families, what is so wrong about you using WMD as long as it does not affect neighbouring countries?

  • by starworks5 ( 139327 ) on Monday May 28, 2012 @10:24AM (#40134853) Homepage

    You could argue that the situation in north korea as it is now, is only because it has to participate in asymmetrical warfare, including a cultural warfare as well. It takes idiotic cult personalities to lead people who are otherwise ignorant, especially when the powerful and thus educated people don't give a damn about you and want to keep you dumb and powerless. Thus the koreans generally did want to have a communist government, but the USA supported the japanese and their pawns, in order to put their own people in charge. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korean_War#Korea_divided_.281945.E2.80.931949.29

    China had its communist revolution, due in part because it was getting shafted by the colonial powers, in what was known as the "unequal treaties". Similarly the colonial powers were in control of the middle east, and have exerted control over the middle east for a long time, part of which is why israel exists to begin with. We created the environment for backwards uneducated militants to exist, by depriving the populace of a government that benefits them, and empowering ruthless dictators to rule. Just because our oil comes from SA, doesn't mean that ME isn't influential to the commodities market, and ignores that we originally controlled the ME oil production. We also did the same sort of colonialism in south america, ala banana republics, panama, contra's, cuba, etc, and its real easy for us to be creative and industrious, while slave labor was producing our food for us at home and abroad. The borders that were made in the middle east and Africa, were specifically designed to pit ethnic groups against each other, and just make up fake ethnicity in the case of tutsi's and hutu's

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday May 28, 2012 @10:31AM (#40134895)

    "Besides, the holiday has become nothing more than a day to fill young minds with propaganda about how EVERYONE is a hero no matter what, just for BEING IN the military."

    As a vet, I agree with that statement!

    While it's nicer than being vilified, the truth is more complex.

    Having entered service BEFORE the Bullshit Pump was turned on in it's most recent incarnation, I remember when being a "good Soldier/Sailor/Marine/Airman" was a compliment and there was no perceived need to call everyone a "hero".

    If everyone is a "hero", the term loses all meaning. There are heroes, there are shitbags, and there are the great majority of Soldiers/Sailors/Marines/Airmen who get shit done pretty well.

  • by couchslug ( 175151 ) on Monday May 28, 2012 @11:06AM (#40135105)

    The impact(s) of sinking and damaging Japanese shipping were enormous!

    http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/history/pac-campaign.html [navy.mil]

    "Disproportionate Costs Imposed on Japanese

    I have attempted to roughly calculate costs of each side's effort in order to determine whether the U.S. campaign was "efficient." The cost of merchant ships and warships lost to U.S. submarine attack were calculated using actual Japanese prices and added to the cost of all Japanese ASW frigates and corvettes (but not fleet destroyers or ASW aircraft).(48) Using U.S. Navy figures I calculated the cost of the entire fleet of 288 U.S. submarines that served or were built during the war (regardless of whether they served in the Pacific). The result is impressive although not surprising: the Japanese spent at least 42 times more on anti-submarine warfare and in losses attributed to submarines than the U.S. spent on her Submarine Force. When one considers the fact that the Japanese economy was only 8.9% of the size of the U.S. economy in 1937, the submarine campaign was clearly both an extraordinarily cost efficient and effective means to employ U.S. forces against Japan.(49) Regardless of the cost effectiveness of the U.S. submarine campaign, the military effects were stunningly clear. Fully a year before the end of the war, and before the extensive bombing of mainland Japan, the war against Japanese lines of communication resulted in decisive impact on the Japanese war economy and on the Japanese military logistical system. "

  • by ricklow ( 124377 ) on Monday May 28, 2012 @11:29AM (#40135263)

    Eisenhower said essentially the same thing in 1953:
    "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.This world in arms in not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.
    The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway. We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This, I repeat, is the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron."

  • by DerekLyons ( 302214 ) <fairwaterNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Monday May 28, 2012 @11:52AM (#40135409) Homepage

    That's only one class of US subs.

    Nit: That's not one class of subs, that's 25 subs out of two classes (Gato and Balao) built by a single shipyard.
    At it's peak, the US Submarine Force in WII numbered over 250, including 77 Gato's and 128 Balao's.

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