World War II Submarine Warfare and the United States

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In the thirty-eight years of the United States Naval Submarine Service no United States submarine had ever sunk an enemy vessel. With the ignition of the Second World War the poorly equipped and poorly trained Silent Service, nicknamed for the limited access of the media to the actions and achievements of the submarines, would be thrust into the position American submariners had longed for. The attack on Pearl Harbor left the United States Navy with few options for retribution. The three remaining aircraft carriers were to be “the last line of defense.” Commander Stuart S. Murray made the precarious situation clear to his skippers, captains, upon sending them on their first war patrol. He stressed the importance of smart sailing by warning them not “to go out there and win the Congressional Medal of Honor in one day. The submarines are all we have left.” We entered the war with 55 submarines, 27 at Pearl Harbor and 28 at Cavite in the Philippines. At first our submarine strategies lacked ingenuity and failed to use our subs to their full potential. United States subs were assigned to reconnaissance, transporting supplies, and lifeguard duty, picking up downed airmen and sailors. They were even, on occasion, sent to rescue high profile Americans on the run from the enemy or from islands under enemy siege. Although their ability was, unfortunately, wasted in our entrance to the Pacific Theater the Silent Service would soon gain the recognition its men yearned for. America was not the only one who suffered casualties during the attack on Pearl Harbor. Japan lost five midget submarines and nine of the men who piloted the small, war submersibles. The tenth man, Ensign Sakamaki, became our first Japanese WWII prisoner of war. Jap... ... middle of paper ... ...g nations. World War II was the beginning of a proud and illustrious history. American submariners achieved something few believed they could. In the face of adversity, they wrote “one of the greatest chapters in the history of naval warfare.” Works Cited Hoyt, Edwin P..War in the Deep. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1978. Poirier, Michel Thomas. “Results of the American Pacific Submarine Campaign.” Accessed November 25, 2013. http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/history/pac-campaign.html. Preston, Anthony. Submarines: The History and Evolution of Underwater Fighting Vessels. London: Octopus Books Limited, 1975. Whitman, Edward C.. “Rising to Victory: The Pacific Submarine Strategy in World War II.” Accessed November 25, 2013. http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html. Wheeler, Keith. War Under the Pacific. Alexandria: Time-Life Books, 1980.

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