Under Ice: Waldo Lyon and the Development of the Arctic Submarine / Edition 1

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In Under Ice, William Leary examines the evolution of Arctic submarine operations in the U.S. Navy, a little-known but significant area of national security concern. Through the career of Waldo Lyon, he chronicles the problems of under-ice navigation and the development of Cold War naval strategy.

In World War II, the Arctic became an active theater of operations for German and Soviet subs, which occasionally ducked under the ice to escape detection. The U.S. Navy responded with its own advances in underwater navigation and location, under Lyon’s direction. After the war, Lyon’s interest in cold-water acoustics led him to work on sonar and navigation instruments that could be applied to Arctic submarines. His specialization led to the establishment of the Arctic Submarine Laboratory (ASL) and the development of under-ice capability for nearly all U.S. subs, which became even more important with the growth of the Cold War and the corresponding growth of naval concern about the possibilities of nuclear warfare in Arctic regions. Lyon led the way in U.S. under-ice submarine development.

In 1958, with the launching of the nuclear submarine Nautilus, the Arctic Ocean beneath the pack ice could finally be fully explored. Today, under-ice operations are standard for submarines of the United States and other nations.

Leary provides informative treatments of the early problems with under-ice navigation; the Boarfish experimental dives; the Skate’s torpedo firing into ice; making contact with Drifting Station Alpha; and the drama-packed patrol of Seadragon, the first submarine to pass under an iceberg. He ably delineates the roles of such other actors in the drama as Robert McWethy, commanding officer of the Burton Sound; the “fabulous patrol” of the Sargo; CDR Joseph Skoog, who played poker while his crew transited the dangerous Arctic waters at high speed; and war hero Lawson Ramage, who incorrectly forecast that the Soviets would never develop under-ice capability.

Under Ice tells a lively and carefully researched story that will be important for naval and Cold War historians and for students of science and technology, especially those interested in post-1945 DOD-funded science.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

WILLIAM M. LEARY is E. Merton Coulter Professor of History at the University of Georgia. He is the author of fourteen books, including volumes of American history, military history, aviation history, and history of technology.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Ch. 1 The Challenge 3
Ch. 2 A New Ocean 29
Ch. 3 Icebreakers and Submarines 55
Ch. 4 A Whole New World 85
Ch. 5 Operation Sunshine 109
Ch. 6 Skate 133
Ch. 7 Sargo 156
Ch. 8 Closing the Circle 185
Ch. 9 Tactics and Weapons 206
Ch. 10 The Arctic Submarine 226
Epilogue 249
Notes 259
Bibliography 287
Index 293
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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 13, 2002

    A Submarine History Unparalled

    Leary has captured the intense struggle by Waldo Lyon against closed minds, bureauacracy, accountants, and a penchant of some to remain ignorant. Leary relates the dedication of Lyon to his cause and his vision. The documented courage and dedication of the Commanders and crews of the submarines Skate, Sargo, and Seadragon while exploring the under ice environment is as exciting as a Clancy or Ludlum novel. Today, modern submarines are hampered in arctic operations. This is due to the navy procurement falacy of 'the low bidder produces best'. It resulted in nearly useless sonar for arctic operations. Leary describes this procurement procedure and the results. The Artcic Submarine Laboratory at Battery Whistler in San Diego is no more. It is hoped that there exist civil servant and military visionaries like Waldo Lyon in the United States Navy. They make the difference.

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