CHESTER HAS MOVED!: Chester and Submarines

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Chester and Submarines

We've had several recent posts about submarines -- particularly about China's purported new missile sub. I have always had a fascination with submarines despite being a Marine. My dad, when in his 20s, used to work at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in Groton, Connecticut and helped construct submarines. He always used to tell me stories about building them when I was a boy. He even tried to enlist in the Navy to join the sub force, but being deaf in one ear since birth, they wouldn't take him. When I was in college, subs interested me because of the three-dimensional nature of their environment: much more like flying than driving a ship, I've always thought. Once, while in Naval ROTC, Admiral Bowman, the four-star admiral in charge of the Navy's nuclear power program (and therefore submarines) at the time, and also a Duke grad, came and spoke to our NROTC unit. He was a great speaker. That morning the handful of us who were Marines had an amphibious warfare class and he slipped in and joined us for a bit. Very down to earth, and very much a warfighter. He told us that there might be a tendency for Marines to think of submarine officers as "pencil-necked geeks." He recommended that we check out the book "Blind Man's Bluff," to learn a little more about the sub community. The reason I write all of this is to give a high recommendation to that book -- I've just put up a link to it in the sidebar. Truly fascinating stuff, spanning all of the Cold War. Would make a great stocking stuffer. I found out later that Naval submarine officers are actually prohibited by regulation from commenting on the contents of "Blind Man's Bluff." That has to mean something . . .


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is indeed a very good book.


December 9, 2004 at 5:13 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

"I have always had a fascination with submarines despite being a Marine."

What does that mean? When I try to explain what the Marines are to clueless foreigners and such, I always say, "The Marines are the Navy's army."

December 9, 2004 at 8:41 AM  
Blogger John Koman said...

As a contribution to your readers, the following site has a letter writing campaign for those overseas this holiday season.

thanks for your efforts and insights into the news


December 9, 2004 at 9:53 AM  
Blogger TZ said...

Blind Man's bluff was indeed a great book. I have talked to some sub officers that I know, and all they had to say is that "someone talked," so you know it has to be good. Subs have always fascinated me despite the fact I too am going to be a Marine, I have a family heritage in subs. A relative of mine infact commmanded the Nautilus and later went on to high rank in the Nuclear Navy. Adm. Richover too is an interesting person to read about. He was one of the most individualistic, driven, and quirky people in the Armed Forces. His interviews for those going into the Nuclear Navy were famous, and every single officer who went in the early force for a long time were interviewed by him. For example, there is a story of one officer who went for his interview and the very first question that he was asked was to "do something to make me very angry." On Richover's desk there was a beautiful scale model of the U.S.S. Nautilus which he promptly picked up and threw to the ground and smashed! This was not all that strange for his interviews apparently! The history of subs is certainly a fascinating one...

December 9, 2004 at 10:00 AM  
Blogger MachiasPrivateer said...

Chester - My dad was involved in the design of much of the non-nuke navy. You might enjoy this post "Armorers to the U S Navy"

December 10, 2004 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger MachiasPrivateer said...

My dad was involved in the design of much of the non-nuke navy. You might enjoy this post "Armorers to the U S Navy".

December 10, 2004 at 9:29 AM  
Blogger Subsunk said...


Indeed, "Blind Man's Bluff" is what my former boss, RADM Jack Darby (COMSUBPAC when he died), called "a wonderful piece of fiction". We submariners try to keep our traps shut when confronted with claims by people who think they know what really goes on inside the Silent Service.

Let me assure you that the truth is at once both more terrifying and more routinely mundane than the book allows. We will neither confirm nor deny the authenticity of any item in that book.... yet it is a fine book, and one which I highly recommend to any who wishes to read it to find out more about their Submarine Force. And more than that I cannot say, nor should I.

Perhaps the world is not so large a place after all, as my son wishes to become a Marine, and I can feel nothing but pride that the United States Marine Corps has always been, however reluctantly they feel about it, an indispensable part of the Dept of the Navy. I love your blog and have especially been following your comments on Fallujah. I am awed by our youngsters in uniform, who have performed as heroically as any of my father's WWII generation did, yet I have nothing but contempt for the news organizations of the world and the rest of the media who refuse to spotlight the near daily heroics involved in the defeat and occupation of Iraq, and the subsequent restoration and reconstruction of the good Iraqi people. I have found neither honor, nor integrity in the news, and see absolute gutlessness and cowardice from the media and from Hollywood on this subject. Based on just the few facts we know about Brian Chontosh and his men, CPL Jason Dunham in Ramadi, and SGT Smith at the Baghdad Intl Airport in April 2003 to name a very few, we should have at least a few 5 star movies about heroic Americans in combat.

The silence about the true American Heroes is deafening.

P.S. ADM Rickover interviewed me and made me sit in a cubicle alone for 3 hrs. I thought I had been forgotten when the janitors came in at 6 p.m. to clean up. My roommate was thrown out of his office 4 times and was going back in for his 5th go around when he and the ADM made a deal allowing him to be a submariner. All stories for another time.


December 11, 2004 at 10:37 PM  

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