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Undersea Warfare CNO N77
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In keeping with UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine’s charter as the Official Magazine of the U.S. Submarine Force, we welcome letters to the editor, questions relating to articles that have appeared in previous issues, and insights and “lessons learned” from the fleet.
UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine reserves the right to edit submissions for length, clarity, and accuracy. All submissions become the property of UNDERSEA WARFARE Magazine and may be published in all media. Please include pertinent contact information with submissions.
I found the article on the artic expedition [“Heading North!”, UNDERSEA WARFARE, Summer 2004, pg. 14] to be very interesting and informative. I wish Canada still had a suitable submarine in our navy, as our maritime command could join US Navy submarines and the Royal Navy in an area that has a sensitive future to Canada, Great Britain, and the United States.
Kevin J. Egan
An inadvertent error appears in the photo caption describing the Baker atomic test on page 26 of UNDERSEA WARFARE's Fall 2004 issue. The actual yield of the warhead was 21 kilotons, not the 63 noted there.
Your article “Heading North!” [UNDERSEA WARFARE, Summer 2004] about USS Honolulu (SSN-718) surfacing at the North Pole was a nice trip down memory lane for me. I’m sure other Sailors like me that have made this trip and have had the privilege of standing on the pack ice enjoyed it as much as I did. Again, thanks for the trip.
Daniel P. Lord
I have found a small error in Edward C. Whitman's account of the start of World War II in Manila Bay. ["Submarines to Corregidor," UNDERSEA WARFARE, Summer 2002]. I don't recall the submarine tender USS Canopus being in Manila during the first Japanese air attack on 10 December 1941.
I served on USS Holland, which had been anchored in the inside shelter at Manila since we arrived from Pearl in November. Most of the squadron was alongside. When the Japanese attack began, the Otus, which had been in Cavite, came steaming toward us, heading for the gap in the breakwater. I remember the flag officer in charge summoned me to the flying bridge of the Holland to be his radio talker.
One of the alongside submarines had made a break for open water, but when the bombs began falling, it had submerged - right in the middle of the breakwater gap, with its conning tower still visible - and probably unnoticed by the Otus, where most eyes were on the Japanese aircraft. The commodore was shouting orders to me to talk to both the submarine AND the Otus, to get the submarine UP or the Otus to seek another entrance to the bay. I can't tell you now which one of them moved, but the Japanese didn't sink the submarine in any event.
The venerable submarine tender USS Canopus (AS-9) with her brood of submarines alongside before World War II.
I was on Admiral Hart's ComSubAsiatic staff while he was in Surabaja, and we took a gigantic transmitter off the Holland to provide BAKER transmissions for the submarine fleet. Another unusual event took place at Tillatjap as we were trying to get the Admiral and his staff out of Java, since the Japanese were already in Surabaja. We were aboard a former Empress liner, which had no crew, and it couldn't get underway for a day or two. We received information that the Japanese were planning a dawn attack on Tillatjap, and the senior officers were conferring about how to get us out. The Chief of Staff noted that the USS Holland was in the bay with us, about 1.5 miles away. It was total blackout, of course. The problem was how to alert the Holland. I was the only radioman with signalman experience, so they asked me if I could use a flashlight to raise them. I pointed my flashlight towards where the Holland was thought to be, and gave the interrogatory signal, AA, and eventually the Holland signal bridge acknowledged and asked who we were. I replied with the ship's NIRM radio call sign and noted that Zero Fox Four was onboard. That was the call sign for Commander in Chief, Asiatic Fleet, which really shook up the Holland's bridge. I told the signalman my name, he recognized me, and I asked him to call the captain to the bridge, URGENT. Holland's captain knew me quite well also, and I gave him the admiral's orders to prepare immediately to get under way, and to send boats to pick us up. When a subsequent admiral decided in 1945 to move the command back to Subic Bay, he took me with him as his chief radioman in charge of the new BAKER transmitter base.
Much of this, particularly just where the Canopus was - in Cavite, NOT with the Holland - probably doesn't matter much, since a LOT of the history of the Asiatic war isn't the way it was anyway.
Norman E. Cook, CRM (USN 1939-1946),
CTC (USNR 1946-54)
Dear Mr. Cook,
Thank you for your note in conjunction with Dr. Whitman's article, "Submarines to Corregidor," in the Summer 2002 issue of UNDERSEA WARFARE. We appreciate any and all feedback from our readers - even several years after the fact! We particularly value first-hand accounts of events we've written about, and your note provides a new perspective on the U.S. retreat from the Philippines in early World War II.
You raise an interesting question about where Canopus was located when the Japanese attacks began. Dr. Whitman reviewed his research for the article and found a curious discrepancy: In its entry for Canopus, The Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships (DANFS) agrees with you and says that the ship was at Cavite. However, both Clay Blair's Silent Victory and Samuel Eliot Morison's History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II suggest that the ship was in Manila, and Blair adds some corroborative about the downtown port area. If other readers can provide additional clarification, we'd certainly like to hear from you.