Monday, July 14, 2008

Pamphlet was Confidential and for the use of Commissioned Officers Only

In the early days of submarine navies ASW technology and innovations were tested rapidly, almost nothing was ever taken for granted, and results were kept almost endlessly classified.

In modern submarining the pace of technology and innovations occurs even more rapidly, much less is ever taken for granted, and security has been tightened with a combination of traditional and updated methods.

Notice the title of O. N. I. Publication No. 46 at left, published in NOVEMBER 1918:
Approved as a preliminary study of the subject of the use of kite balloons in escorts, paper to be mimeographed, and to be given wide distribution to forces for information and inviting comment, in order that a definite doctrine and plan covering the subject may be developed. - Sims,Vice Admiral, U. S. Navy, Commanding. LONDON, ENGLAND, September 30, 1918.
The Preliminary Study was:
Upon the recommendation of Operations-Aviation this study of the use of kite balloons in escorts, made by the planning section, is published for the information of the naval service. This pamphlet is confidential and for the use of commissioned officers only. -
ROGER WELLES Rear Admiral, U. S. Navy, Director of Naval Intelligence

O. N. I. Publication No. 46 was not declassified until, AUGUST 1972. Better safe than sorry. Among the very logical and competent analyses are a few fascinating gems, like these:

We conclude that the extra protection given by kite balloons against browning shots is about one minute's earlier notice of danger to the convoy. (3) Bluffing the submarine. Comment. -- Recent evidence indicates that this element may soon be negligible. ...

The British believe that enemy submarines feel that they incur no great danger while being sighted from kite balloons at a distance. British publications give the visibility of kite balloons in clear weather at about 20 miles. Visibility varies with light, background, color of balloon, relative positions of balloon and observing vessel.

Well, you can read more of it here. And about Rear Admiral Welles, the Director of Naval Intelligence? Here's what one historian writes:

Welles was a competent, if not particularly front-running flag officer, with a portly appearance better befitting a well-to-do banker than a dashing battleship commander. ... Welles was selected for Rear Admiral in 1918 on a list bloated by wartime necessity. As an additional reward for his efforts, Welles earned the Navy Cross for the wartime successes of Naval Intelligence. ... By 1919, Welles had already accumulated 33 years service with the Navy after being raised just outside New York City. As a brand new naval cadet in 1886, Welles had been assigned to the flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron, the impressive steam frigate Tennessee. ... In a Navy that ranked as one of the world's most derelict at the time, duty aboard the spit-and-polish Tennessee was much prized and awoke in Welles a career-long passion with the large capital ships at the battleline's core. -

From Rear Admiral Roger Welles—San Diego's First 'Navy Mayor' by Bruce Linder

I have a feeling that submariners would have liked American Vice Admiral Sims, a Canadian by birth:

AMERICAN TARS' CLUB IS OPENED IN ENGLAND; Vice Admiral Sims's Address Cheered by His Own and British Seamen. The New York Times, June 26, 1917.

Torpedo-boat (destroyer) sailors even wrote a ballad honoring the good admiral, who commanded U.S. anti-submarine forces. First stanza from SIMS'S FLOTILLA:

On April sixth in 'seventeen
Our war-like ire arose,
A fighting man is what we need
So Admiral Sims was chose,
He came into the British Isles
And viewed the 'Sub' campaign,
Just send my old torpedo boats
Right back to me again.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



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