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Submarine Torpedo Tactics: An American History By Edward Monroe Jones and Shawn S. Roderick

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Submarine Torpedo Tactics: An American History

By Edward Monroe Jones and Shawn S. Roderick

Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland and Company, 2015

6” x 9”, softcover, viii + 221 pages

Photographs, diagrams, notes, bibliography, index. $45.00

ISBN: 9780786496464


            During two world wars, the menace of submarine warfare against merchant shipping loomed large in naval strategic and tactical discussions. Germany’s U-boats came extremely close to forcing the Allies to the negotiating table during World War I and were a major threat to Allied success in World War II. How ironic it then is that the single incontestably successful submarine campaign against merchant shipping should have been that of the United States Navy against Imperial Japan in World War II.

            Submarine Torpedo Tactics lays out, in a wonderfully readable manner, the story of this evolution in the United States Navy from just before World War I to the present (within the limits of information publically accessible). The authors bring together a vast array of material, much of which has been published previously in snippets but never before presented together in such a coherent format. The net result is probably the best explanation yet of how submarine attacks have been and are now conducted. If a reader wants to know why American submarines were so successful in their assault on Japan’s shipping during World War Ii and they proposed to keep Soviet ballistic missile submarines at bay during the Cold War, this is the place to find the answers.

            Of necessity, the requirements of their thesis obliged the authors also to explain the development of submarine design in the United States. Their success is such that Submarine Torpedo Tactics may well be the best short outline of this process yet in print. It is concise, it highlights the major milestones, and it presents sufficient technical detail to make its case without overwhelming the non-specialist reader with esoteric terminology or concepts.

            Submarine Torpedo Tactics also includes a major bonus in the form of stories illustrating the lives of the operators, ranging from the antics surrounding theft of a totem pole by crewmen from the missile boat Growler through the installation (and use) of a Steinway grand piano aboard the attack submarine Sturgeon to vivid descriptions of underwater gyrations by American and Soviet submarines during the Cold War.

            Though short (in light of the magnitude of its topic), Submarine Torpedo Tactics displays excellence on so many levels. anyone—academic, lay researcher, or simply interested reader—can only learn from this most enjoyable and informative study.


Steven Fitzgerald

Wilmington, Delaware

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