Friday, August 27, 2010

Submarine Mystery Questions of the Week - 8/27/2010

Background information excerpted below comes from:
a) The Submarine A8, by Peter Mitchell on July 4, 2007
The A1 was struck by the liner Berwick Castle in 1904 and sank with all hands. The A3 collided with her own depot ship and sank immediately. A4 was sunk at Devonport in 1905 when the wash of a passing ship flooded her ventilators, and the A5 was badly damaged by two petrol explosions also in 1905. The A7 (see sidebar) was sunk with all hands in Whitsands Bay in 1914, and the A9 foundered just outside Plymouth in1906 after being hit by the steam ship Coath. Luckily she managed to resurface and no one was hurt, but two years later petrol fumes killed four of her crew. These unsettling disasters had the effect of virtually halting the flow of submarine volunteers leading in some cases to men refusing to sail on what they thought were unsafe boats.

b) The Mental Health of Submariners, with Special Reference to 71 Cases Examined Psychiatrically, Abstract, Submarine Flotilla, James F. McHarg, M.B., Ch.B.Ed., Surgeon-Lieutenant, R.N.V.R. , Journal of Mental Science (1946) 92: 343-356. doi: 10.1192/bjp.92.387.343, The Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1946.
The indications are that the submariner is a stable type of person. Less stable personalities do not reach the submarine service, or are eliminated in the phase of "early stress." The fact that "there is no escape route" in a submarine at sea has no bearing on the matter ; it merely postpones break down until there is an escape route (viz., when alongside the depot ship).

c) THE IMPACT OF THE GENERAL BOARD OF THE NAVY ON INTERWAR SUBMARINE DESIGN Jeffrey K. Juergens, LCDR, USN, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, page 15, 2009.
COMMANDER BOYD: They don't have green crews. It is a volunteer service. The commodore of the submarines can take any officer or man he wants and that applies to battleships or any other kind of vessel. They are generally very able men mentally and physically. - General Board Hearings September 8, 1917. Hearings Before the General Board of the Navy 1917-50, roll 1, year 1917, page 176 -192.

Note that references to submarine volunteers appear as early as 1904. In fact, the tradition of military submarine volunteers predates above refernces.
1) - Who (name and rank required) first issued an order to recruit only volunteer submarine crew members, and to whom was such an order first given?
2) - Approximately when was this order given?
3) - What circumstances surrounded the issuance of said order?
4) - What was the fate of those first recruited under said order?
5) - Are military submarines safe except in times of war?
6) - What year was USS Scorpion (SSN-589) lost with all hands, and was it lost during a time of peace or war?
7) - Has there yet been a definitive identification of the causative event(s) triggering Scorpion's loss, or an official determination of cause published by the U.S. Navy?
8) - What year was the most recent submarine tragedy involving dozens of deaths?
ANSWERS: Saturday, Sept 4th (Comments will be closed until Friday morning, Sept. 3rd).
Submarines are always silent and strange.



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