Crash Dive: True Stories of Submarine Combat

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They are the ultimate unseen deterrent in modern warfare. Thousands of tons of steel, missiles, torpedoes, and men lurking silently hundreds of feet underwater, able to lie off any coastline and unleash a devastating hail of destruction with pinpoint accuracy. They are the true masters of the oceans, striking swift and unseen before slipping away, ready to do it all over again at a moment’s notice.

Submarines and their crews have long held a revered place in the military, with a...

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They are the ultimate unseen deterrent in modern warfare. Thousands of tons of steel, missiles, torpedoes, and men lurking silently hundreds of feet underwater, able to lie off any coastline and unleash a devastating hail of destruction with pinpoint accuracy. They are the true masters of the oceans, striking swift and unseen before slipping away, ready to do it all over again at a moment’s notice.

Submarines and their crews have long held a revered place in the military, with a special place of honor reserved for those men who willingly seal themselves in what could amount to a nuclear-powered coffin for months on end. Although the submarine is a relatively recent development in the field of warfare, many of the men who live and fight in these steel fish have already become legends.

Edited by bestselling author Larry Bond, Crash Dive collects the best nonfiction writing about these near-silent killers of the deep and their crews. From the tough Gato class boats that harassed the Japanese Navy during World War II to the cat-and-mouse games played by U.S. and Soviet submarines during the Cold War, Crash Dive will take you inside the deep and deadly world of the military submarine.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Praise for Larry Bond:

“A superb storyteller . . . Larry Bond seems to know everything about warfare, from the grunt in the foxhole to the fighter pilots far above the earth.”

The New York Times

“Larry Bond’s new submarine thriller, Cold Choices, sends The Hunt for Red October, Das Boot, and Run Silent, Run Deep straight to the bottom of the sea!  A nuclear fireball of a thriller!”

—Douglas Preston, New York Times bestselling author of Blasphemy

“Forget everything you’ve ever heard about submarine novels!  The sub battles in Cold Choices will have you biting your nails, shaking in your shoes and gasping for breath.  The King of the 21st Century Sub Thriller is back.”

—David Hagberg, New York Times bestselling author of The Expediter

Dangerous Ground is a great submarine novel. When I grow up I want to write like Larry Bond.”

—Stephen Coonts, New York Times bestselling author of The Assassin

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780765342034
  • Publisher: Doherty, Tom Associates, LLC
  • Publication date: 3/29/2011
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: First Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 560
  • Sales rank: 388,555
  • Product dimensions: 4.20 (w) x 7.40 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Larry Bond is the author of several bestselling military thrillers, including Cold Choices, Dangerous Ground, Red Phoenix and the Larry Bond’s First Team and Larry Bond’s Red Dragon Rising series. He was a naval officer for six years, serving four on a destroyer and two on shore duty in the Washington DC area. He's also worked as a warfare analyst and antisubmarine technology expert, and he now writes and designs computer games, including Harpoon and Command at Sea. He makes his home in Springfield, Virginia.

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Read an Excerpt


from Submarine!

by Commander Edward L. Beach

We begin our tour with an excerpt from Submarine! byone of the most famous and decorated naval heroes of the twentieth century, Commander Edward L. Beach (1918–2002). Commissioned as an ensign in 1939, he attained the rankof commander before his retirement after  twenty- seven years ofnaval ser vice. He served throughout World War II in the Paci.ctheater, participating in the battle of Midway, and overseeingtwelve combat patrols that sank  forty- five enemy vessels. Afterward, he served on nuclear submarines, and commanded the USS Triton on its record- breaking submerged voyage around theworld. He was awarded numerous honors and decorations for his valiant ser vice, including the Navy Star, the Silver Star Medal, twoPresidential Unit Citations, the Legion of Merit, and the National Defense Ser vice Medal. After his retirement, he wrote both .ction and non.ction, including the classic novel Run Silent, Run Deep, which was made into a .lm in 1958, and his autobiography,Salt and Steel: Reflections of a Submariner. He was also the coeditor of three editions of the Naval Terms Dictionary and wrote numerous articles periodicals ranging from American Heritage to National Geographic. The Naval Historical Foundation HistoryPrize has been renamed the Commander Edward L. Beach Prize in his honor. It takes a certain kind of man to write about the everyday happenings aboard a submarine on war patrol, and make it as real asif you  were standing right beside the men as it happened, and fewdo it better than Commander Beach. This excerpt is no exception, detailing the sixth war patrol of the USS, and bringing home the cramped, crowded, tense conditions under whichits captain and crew played a deadly game of  hide- and- seek with enemy submarines during the latter part of World War II.

USS Batfish got under way from Pearl Harbor on December 30, 1944,on what was to be her sixth war patrol. It was also to be one of theepoch- making patrols of the war, one whose in.uence may be discerned even at this late date. Her skipper was Commander J. K. Fyfe, a NavalAcademy graduate of the class of 1936, who had already built up an outstanding record of successful submarine action. From the time when the PCboat escorting her out of Pearl Harbor was dismissed until she arrived atGuam, Jake Fyfe kept his ship at .ank speed. He, in common with mostsubmariners, saw no reason for delay in getting into the war zone, except thenecessity of conserving fuel. The capture of Guam removed that necessity,insofar as the .rst leg of the trip was concerned. After leaving Guam orSaipan it usually paid to be a bit conservative, in case you ran into a longchase, or  were given a prolonged special mission.On January 9, 1945, arrived at Guam, and on the next day she departed en route to an area north of the Philippines. On January 12 shesighted what was probably her .rst enemy contact on this par tic u lar patrol,presaging the turn which the  whole patrol would subsequently take. Aperiscope suddenly popped out of the water some distance ahead. Since youdon’t stick around to argue with an enemy submarine which has the drop onyou, and since, besides, Jake was in a hurry to get to his area where he wasscheduled for immediate lifeguard ser vices, he simply bet on everything shewould take and got out of there. Sightings of Japa nese periscopes by ourboats were fairly numerous during the war. The Japs never learned how doubly cautious you must be when stalking one of your own kind; we neverlearned a lesson better.

Between January 13 and February 9 had rather a dull time. She wasted two days looking for several aviators who  were reported ditched near her track; investigated  twenty- eight junks to see what kind of cargo theywere carry ing; dived at occasional aircraft alarms.Then, on February 9, whileshe was patrolling in Babuyan Channel, south of Gamiguin Island, the radaroperator sounds a warning.

Something in his radar arouses his  attention— he looks  closely— there it is again— and again. It is not a pip which he sees; if it  were, he would not wait to sing out “Radar contact” and thereby immediately mobilize the shipfor action. This is something more di.cult to evaluate. A faint shimmeringof the scopes— a momentary unsteadiness in the green and amber cathode ray tubes— which comes and goes. Almost unconsciously he times them,and notices the bearing upon which the radar head is trained each time thefaint wobble in the normal “grass” pre sen ta tion is noticed. A few moments ofthis, and—“Captain to the conn!” No time to wait on ceremony. This par tic u lar lad wants his skipper, and he wants him badly.

A split second later the word reaches Jake Fyfe in his cabin, where he hadlain down fully clothed for a few minutes of  shut- eye. In a moment the skipper is in the conning tower.

The radar operator points to his scope. “There it is, sir! There it is again!I just noticed it a minute ago!” The operator is doing himself an injustice;from the time he .rst noticed there was something out of the ordinary to themoment Fyfe himself was beside him could not have been more than thirtyseconds.

The captain stares at the instrument, weighing the signi.cance of whathe sees. This is something new, something  portentous— there is a small stirring in the back of his  mind— there seems to be a  half- remembered idea there, if he can only dig it  up— then, like a .ash, he has it! If he is right, itmeans they are in grave danger, with a chance to come out of it and maybeadd another scalp to their belts; if he is wrong, what he is about to do maymake a bad situation in.nitely worse. But Jake knows what he is doing. Heis not playing some  far- fetched hunch.

“Secure the radar!” he orders. The operator reaches to the cuto. switchand .ips it, looking questioningly at his skipper.

“What do you think it is?” Fyfe asks the lad.

“It looked like another radar to me, Captain.” The reply is given withouthesitation.

“What  else?”

The boy is at a loss for an answer, and Jake Fyfe answers his own question:

“Japa nese submarine!”

Submarine vs. submarine! The hunter hunted! The biggest fear of our submarine sailors during World War II was that an enemy submarine might get the drop on them while they  were making a passage on the surface. It wouldbe quite simple, really. All you have to do is to detect the other fellow first, either by sight or by radar, submerge on his track, and let go the .sh as he passes. All you have to do is to detect him first!

Our submarines ran around the coast of Japan as though they  were in their own backyards. They usually condescended to patrol submerged onlywhen within sight of the enemy shoreline in order not to be spotted by shorewatchers or aircraft patrols, for you  can’t sink ships which stay in port because they know you are waiting outside. But when out of sight of land, andwith no planes about, United States submarines usually remained on thesurface. Thus they increased their search radius and the speed with whichthey could move to new positions. And it should not be forgotten that the.fty- odd boats doing lifeguard duty at the end of the war  were required tostay on the surface whether in sight of land or not! Small wonder that oursubmarine lookouts  were the best in the Navy.

United States submariners  were, as a class, far too well acquainted withthe devastating surprise which can be dealt with a pair of  well- aimed torpedoes to take any preventable risk of being on the receiving end themselves.Submarines are rugged ships, but they have so little reserve buoyancy that atorpedo hit is certain to permit enough water to .ood in to overbalance whatremaining buoyancy there is. Even though the submarine might be otherwise intact, she would instantly sink to the bottom of the sea with most ofher crew trapped inside. Tang was a prime example. Ordinarily there are nosurvivors from sunken submarines, with the exception of the Germans, whohad a habit of surfacing and abandoning ship when under attack.

The submarine, which hunts by stealth, is therefore itself peculiarly susceptible to attack by stealth. But don’t make the mistake of underestimatingthe enemy submarine crew. The fact that they are operating a submarine atall indicates that they are picked men, who know as much about the game, inall probability, as you do. The odds are de.nitely even, and it is a question ofdog eat dog. The only advantage lies in superior ability and equipment.

Not counting midgets, the .rst Japa nese submarine sunk by our forces wasthe I-173, which fell victim to the Gudgeon on January 27, 1942.The last such was sunk by the on August 13, 1945. Between these dates  twenty-three additional Japa nese subs  were destroyed by our own undersea warriors.And we regret to chronicle that some .ve of our own subs, it is thought, wentdown under the periscope sights of Japa nese submarines. Unfortunately the Jap rec ords are so poor that the precise manner in which all of our lost submarine vessels met their doom will never be discovered.The fact remains that our submarines  were convinced that the Japs  were sending the  two- man midgetsout at night, looking for them. And almost every patrol report turned in by ourpeople toward the end of the war rec ords that one or more torpedoes had at them.

The most outstanding record of enemy subs sunk was the one hung up, beginning that fateful February 9.

“Secure the radar!” Jake Fyfe turned to a shocked conning tower crew, andordered crisply, “Battle stations torpedo!”

The helmsman instinctively had already extended his hand in the directionof the general alarm. Now he grasped it, pulled it out, and then down. Thelow- pitched chime of the alarm resounded through the ship, penetrating everycorner, waking men who had turned in dead tired, vowing to sleep for a  year— meaning only until their next  watch— bringing them upright, fully alert, instinctively racing to their battle stations, all in the space of an instant.

What is it? What is it?

Don’t know. Something on the radar.

Skipper says a Jap sub out there.

How does he know that?

The pro cess of deduction by which Fyfe arrived at the conclusion that thesource of the radar peculiarities was an enemy submarine was not at all illogical. The wavering of his radar scope was probably due to the presence of another radar. It was known that the Japs had radar, though of an inferior typeto ours. If this radar came from a vessel as large as a destroyer, he should havebeen detected on’s radar before the emanations from his  low- poweredradar had been noticed. This, of course, was the usual case. Since the radar waves had been the .rst to be picked up, it followed that the ship producingthem must be small and low on the water. Yet it must be a valuable ship, su.ciently important to rate one of the relatively few radar sets the Nips possessed.Hence, a submarine.

The reason why Fyfe ordered his own radar temporarily secured was simplyto deny the Jap the same information which he himself had just received,while he and his executive o.cer, Lieutenant C. K. Sprinkle, USNR, broke outthe charts and did some very rapid .guring.

The enemy radar emanations have been from 220, approximately southwest. Babuyan Channel runs more or less north and south.Therefore the target must be on a northerly course, approaching from the south.

To check this deduction,’s radar is cautiously turned on for only amoment. Sure enough, the bearing of the other radar has changed slightly. Itis now 225.

“All ahead full! Right full rudder!” leaps ahead and steadies on acourse calculated to get to the north of the approaching enemy vessel. Sheruns for a short time, every now and then checking the situation with herradar. All  clear— no other ships around. Just the Jap, and his signals are becoming stronger, while his bearing is now drawing to the southward. This isas it should be.

But Fyfe does not, of course, propose to make his approach and attack onbearings alone. He wants to close the range, but on his own terms, with hisbow on the enemy, his torpedoes  ready— in short, with the drop on him.

Finally, Jake Fyfe and Sprinkle .gure their position is about right. turns toward the enemy and ghosts in, keeping the darkest section of themidnight horizon behind her, and sweeping frequently, but at odd intervals,with her radar.

“Radar contact!” The word from Radar this time startles  nobody— theyhave all been expecting it for several minutes. The tracking party now goes towork in earnest, with some concrete information instead of the rather sporadicand imprecise dope they have had up to now.

Target is on course 310, speed 12. The dials whirl on the TDC in theconning tower, where Sprinkle is in charge.

The range continues to decrease, the radar operator and the TDC operator tirelessly feeding in the essential information on the  .re- control instruments. The plotting party also has its part in this, for all solutions must checkbefore torpedoes may be .red.

On the bridge, the captain strains his eyes, and so do the lookouts up therewith him. Suppose the Jap has somehow learned of the presence of the American submarine! It is possible. In this case, if he deduces what is going on, hemight very logically turn the situation to his own advantage by .ring his torpedoes .rst. After all, when you make an approach on another ship, there is aperiod during which you are in a much better position for him to shoot torpedoes at you than you at  him— at a somewhat longer range, of course. Or, moreprobably, he might simply dive, thus spoiling the shot has worked for so long, not to mention making it immediately imperative for her to get thehell out of there!

Closer and closer comes the unsuspecting enemy sub. It is so dark that asyet he cannot be seen by the tense bridge party. As the situation develops, it isapparent that he will pass through the .ring position at just under 2,000yards’ range. This is a little long for optimum torpedo .re, but Fyfe wants totake no chances of being detected. On he  comes— only a little more  now— then from the conning tower,“On the .ring bearing, Captain!”This from the exec.

“Let them go when ready, Sprink. Shoot on radar bearings. I still  can’t see him from up  here.” From the skipper.

Silently, four torpedoes are loosed into the water. Four new wakeless electric .sh start their run toward the target They have 1,800 yards to go; it willtake a while. The watch hands crawl slowly and maddeningly around theirfaces. The wait grows longer, more anxious. Something should have happenedby now! Those .sh should surely have arrived! We could not have been so far o.that our spread missed also!

But miss they do, all four torpedoes. Finally there is no escaping that conclusion. The whole careful and  well- executed  approach— wasted! All handsare bitterly disappointed. What can have gone wrong?

The question is answered by Plot, dramatically. “Target has speeded up!Speed now fourteen knots!” Too bad this was not detected a minute or twoearlier. At least it explains the trouble, and allays the suspicious doubts whichhad already inevitably crept into the minds of both skipper and exec.

But the target continues serenely on his way, giving no sign of being awareof having been .red upon. Maybe will be able to try again.

No sooner thought than tried. The four murmuring diesels of the hunterlift their voices, and the submarine slips away through the water, seeking another position from which to launch her deadly missiles. But by this time, ofcourse, the target has passed beyond, and in order to regain .ring position it will be necessary to execute an end around.

Jake Fyfe has elected to remain on the surface for the  whole attack, crediting to his superior radar the fact that he had been alerted before the Jap;and trusting to his belief that he could keep the enemy from detecting him.His plan is to get up ahead of the other submarine, and to head in towardhim while the unsuspecting Nip is pounding along in nearly the opposite direction. Thus the range would close rapidly, and the amount of warning the other submarine could expect before torpedo junction would be very little. Itwas surprising that the Jap sub gave no indication of being aware he hadbeen shot at. Whereas Fyfe had expected only one chance at him, he now.nds another. “Obviously the fellow isn’t as good as I gave him credit for!”And concurrent with this came the resolution to get in closer the next time,play his luck a little harder. If he could only sight the enemy, and .re on optical bearings instead of radar bearings, he would have a much neater solution to his .re- control  problem— and thus greater certainty of hitting.

And besides, although Jake was morally certain the ship he was stalkingwas another submarine— and therefore Japa nese, for he knew positively therewere no friendly submarines in that  area— he naturally wanted very badly tosee him, just by way of con.rming things. He had thought that visibility wasgood enough to see 2,000 yards— a  mile— and therefore had settled on about 1,800 yards for .ring range. Events had proved him too optimistic, and he hadnot been able to see him at that range. This time he would get a look!

All the while, is racing through the black night at full speed. Shehas pulled o. abeam of her quarry, just within maximum radar range in order to be outside range of the less- e.cient radar carried by the enemy, andshe is rapidly overhauling him. Jake is still very careful with his own radar,searching all around and getting a radar range and bearing on the enemy asfrequently as he dares, but he is not going to take a chance on being detected.All this time, of course, the radar emanations from the Jap have been coming in regularly, and their unchanged characteristics add proof that he is stillsound asleep.

The skipper stands on the bridge of his ship during the  whole of the new approach, for the situation could change so radically and so quickly that hemust remain where he can take immediate action. So he must trust the coordination of everything belowdecks to Sprinkle. has worked up somewhat ahead of the enemy’s beam. Fyfe is tryingto visualize the chart of the channel, for if he remembers rightly, some kind ofa change is going to have to be made at the rate they are covering ground.The sea is fairly smooth, as it so often is in these southern waters, and hardlyany solid water comes over’s main deck, although considerable spray iswhipped across it by the wind of her passing. It is an absolutely  pitch- black night. No distinction can be seen between sky and  water— the horizon simply  doesn’t exist. All about is warm, dank, murky grayness, broken only by thewhite water boiling along your side. It is as though were standing still, dipping and rising slightly, and occasionally shaking herself free from the angry sea which froths and splashes beneath her.

In a moment Clark Sprinkle’s voice is heard on the interior communication system:“Plot says target is changing course.They’ll let us know for sure in a minute.”

The skipper presses a large heavy button on the bulkhead beside him andleans forward to speak into the bridge speaker: “Fine! As soon as you’re sure, we’ll change too.”

About a minute later a speaker mounted to the overhead of the conningtower squawks: “This is Plot. Target has changed course to the right. Newcourse, zero one .ve.”

“I’ve got the same, Sprink,” says the TDC operator. “New course aboutzero two zero, though.”

Sprinkle pulls a portable microphone toward him, presses the button.“Bridge, Plot and TDC have the target on new course between zero one .veand zero two zero. Suggest we come to zero two zero.”

“Right full rudder! Come right to new course zero two zero!”The order tothe helm is su.cient ac know ledg ment.

“Rudder is right full, sir! Coming to zero two zero!” the helmsman shoutsup the hatch. heels to port as she whips around. Her white wake astern showsnearly a sharp  right- angle turn as her stern slides across the seas.

Several more minutes pass. Fyfe is on the point of asking for more information, when again the bridge speaker blares its mu.ed version ofSprinkle’s voice: “Captain, we’ve got him on zero two zero, making fourteenknots. Range is seven oh double oh, and distance to the track is two .ve double oh. This looks pretty good to me. Recommend we come left and let him have it!”


Excerpted from Crash Dive by Larry Bond.

Copyright © 2010 by Larry Bond.

Published in April 2010 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and

reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in

any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2013

    uss crevalle

    Having served most of my 22 years in the Navy on Submarines I really enjoyed Crash Dive. I also served 2 years on the USS Crevalle (SS 291) .There was a story in the book about the Crevalle that ment a lot to me.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 13, 2013

    good read mc


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