On 7 December 1941, Japan carried out the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor and hours later the United States Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Harold R. Stark, issued a directive “Execute unrestricted air and submarine warfare against Japan” (Gruner 2010). This command authorized American vessels to fire on any ships – warships, commerce, and passenger ships – flying the Japanese flag. The main mission for submarines at this point, however, was to target Japanese Capital ships. The defense capabilities of Japanese battleships proved difficult targets for U.S. submarines.
It was quickly realized that submarines would be better suited for a different task, and their focus was shifted to starving Japan by way of an all-out attack on commerce. Japan is an island nation, so most of their resources must be shipped in. If the US could cut off their supply, the Japanese would not be able to afford the war. Although this new objective played into the strengths of submarines, there were still a few problems that needed to be worked out.
The submarine community was relatively new at this point, and it was not yet operating at ...
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...im to faulty torpedoes and equipment or friendly fire. However, the issues with torpedoes and equipment were resolved early on, preventing the losses of even more submarines.
The changes and improvements made to submarines during World War II were important factors in the success of the U.S. in the naval war in the Pacific. Enhancements and lessons learned in the few short years of World War II were far greater than the advancements made in the 80 years between the American Civil War and 1941. The mission versatility of submarines realized in the War cemented their place in the United States defense plan for many years to come. Their diversity of capabilities is still taken advantage of today in missions similar to those first carried out in World War II. The United States’ submarines are some of the most powerful, sophisticated, and feared weapons in the world.
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