Home' Work Boat World : June 2010 Contents THE USS FLIER
Death and Survival on a
World War II Submarine
By MICHAEL STURMA
An interesting combination of an Australian
historian writing about an ill-fated
American submarine that was lost with
most of its crew on its second long patrol.
The USS 'Flier' (a strange name for a
submarine) was a long, sleek, wide-ranging "fleet" submarine. She
carried a substantial armament and up-to-date electronics. The
fleet submarines were very effective boats once their early torpedo
problems were overcome. They sank enormous amounts of
'Flier', however, was one of the unluckier boats of the class.
This fine book describes, very dramatically, how and why.
Badly damaged in a grounding at Midway Island early on her
first patrol, the accident prone submarine had much worse to
come. After extensive repairs in Pearl Harbor and an "excusable"
finding from the contemporaneous Board of Investigation into the
grounding, 'Flier' departed on her second patrol. Her first resulted
in the deaths of six American sailors.
The remainder of her first patrol was relatively successful with
one Japanese cargo ship sunk at least. However, on her second
patrol in Philippine waters 'Flier' was doomed. The submarine hit
a mine and sank. Fourteen men of its crew of 86 survived the
explosion, only eight survived ashore.
The amazing aftermath is particularly well described in
considerable detail. A fascinating story.
Available from The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, USA.
The Life of Richard E. Byrd
By LISLE A. ROSE
American Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd is
one of the twentieth century's best known
explorers and probably his country's best
known polar explorer.
He was very controversial figure. An
egotist of the worst order, he was, like certain
other pioneering American admirals, an amazing self-promoter. He
didn't always allow the truth to stand in the way of a good story.
Despite his many foibles he achieved a great deal in the fields of
both naval aviation and polar exploration. He also effectively
combined the two. The author has bridged this dichotomous
channel and produced an objective account of Byrd's life that is
also exciting and fascinating.
Available from University of Missouri Press, Colombia, USA.
The Search and Discovery of
Israel's Lost Submarine Dakar
By DAVID W. JOURDAN
Another mystery of the sea solved by a
dogged underwater explorer. The loss of
the INS 'Dakar', an elderly Royal Navy
submarine acquired by the Israelis in
1967, remained a mystery until the author
found its wreck in 1999.
Submarines are tricky vessels to handle safely. They are
vulnerable to trimming errors and it seems probable that such an
error led to the demise of the 'Dakar'.
Anyway, the author at least put an end to 32 years of
speculation about the 69 men aboard the 'Dakar' when it
disappeared. Clearly they all went down with their ship.
His description of the three years of research and searching that
led to the discovery of the wreck in deep water between Crete and
Cyprus is fascinating, if a little overwrought.
Available from The Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, USA.
How Navies Learned to Fight Smarter
Through Three World Wars
By NORMAN FRIEDMAN
As an avid reader of and admirer of
Norman Friedman's works, your reviewer
was a little taken back by the sub-title of
this book. Having read further and learnt
that the Cold War was the Third World
War he was able to start digesting this most interesting book.
The author describes the intensive focus on electronics in
modern command and control of naval operations. He makes quite
clear the extent of the reliance of modern navies on digitising.
This reliance, this reviewer believes, has tended to become
overdone. Having discussed the subject with the commanding
officers of a number of very sophisticated American warships, he
knows that it worries them too. There is still a tendency to prefer
to rely on the "Mark 1 eyeball"!
Obviously, the speed and accuracy of information available to
commanders is vital but it should always be remembered that all
those electronics are just tools. The human factor is still vastly
Available from The Nautical Institute Press, Annapolis, USA.
ALONE AGAINST THE ARCTIC
By ANTHONY DALTON
A rather strange but, nevertheless,
captivating tale told by a British born
He sets his own rather risky and not very
rational voyage against the historic record of
a fleet of whalers icebound in the same area
ninety years previously.
The whalers were substantial commercial
sailing ships, the author's craft was a tiny inflatable dinghy
powered by an outboard motor. The scene was the north-western
extremity of Alaska. The time was 1984.
Headed for the Bering Strait and, presumably, eventually for the
North-West Passage, he didn't get far. After about 150 miles he
capsized. Luckily, his boat was an inflatable so it survived and
helped to keep the author alive.
His foolhardy adventure was over. His story, however, is
interesting and its juxtaposition with the story of the ice trapped
whaling fleet, novel.
If nothing else, this book proves there are still opportunities
available to maritime eccentrics and that the spirit of adventure is
not yet dead.
Available from Heritage House Publishing Company, Surrey, Canada.
WORSE THINGS HAPPEN AT SEA
By JAKE KAVENAGH
The wonders of a very dry English sense
of humour applied to the watery world
The author is a very funny man and also a
talented cartoonist. A useful combination.
This little book comprises a couple of
hundred, apparently all true, anecdotes
about life on boats. They are not very cynical
and all are amusing.
While very funny, many of the incidents described have a
serious side. In most cases there are useful lessons to be learned.
Available from Adlard Coles Nautical, London, UK.
WORK BOAT WORLD June 2010 57
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