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Back From The Deep, A Book Review

Discussion in 'The Pacific and CBI' started by belasar, May 14, 2013.

  1. belasar

    belasar Court Jester

    May 9, 2010
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    Back From The Deep: The Strange Story of the Sister Subs Squalus and Sculpin, By Carl LaVO, Naval Institute Press, 1994, 226 Pages, Photos, Bibliographic Essay, Index.

    Some WWII Books are meant to be studied and some like this one is meant to be read for the enjoyment of a fascinating tale, well told. To be honest it was an welcome change of pace and a excellent book if you need something to clear your mental palate after something very dense.

    The book is roughly divided into 3 parts, each of which would make an good book in their own right. The first part covers the peacetime sinking of the USS Squalus, a Sargo class Fleet Submarine during her last test dive before becoming an active member of the fleet. The first ship to find her marker buoy was her sister ship USS Sculpin launched just weeks before the Squalus. This connection was just one of many that the two ships would share though the years.

    To this point no crew had ever been rescued from the deep, but this would be different. After many sad disasters the US Navy was determined to break the mold and the Squalus was the their chance. At the time of the disaster, and during the rescue, the nation was gripped by the saga. In the end about half the crew were saved from the forward compartments, the after compartments being those that flooded. During the entire rescue the Sculpin was on station providing invaluable aid to the effort.

    As war was imminent, it was decided to raise the lost sub, a fascinating act in and of its self. The first attempt failed but a photo of the bow broaching the surface caught FDR's attention and lead him to "suggest" that once brought up she be re-named Sailfish because of the image of the photo.

    The middle portion covers Squalus's return to the fleet, training in Hawaii, deployment to the Philippines prior to WWII and several war cruise's for both boats. The troubles with the Mark 14 torpedoes, poor doctrine and being the thin line of Navy ships left to slow the Japanese Juggernaut are clearly told. Steadily the tide turns and both boats begin to take a commendable bite out of Japanese shipping and her fleet. Throughout both subs are close together and work in many of the same areas and operations.

    The final third covers the loss of the Sculpin and the capture of part of her crew. Once again the crews would cross paths as the Sailfish would torpedo the Japanese Carrier Chuyo carring half the survivors of the lost Sculpin! The remainder of the book recounts the imprisonment of the Sculpin's crew and the final war cruise of the Sailfish where she rescued a dozen downed airmen.

    Well written, and easy to read, it is one worth the time to enjoy.


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