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Submarine Saga

May 24, 1987

Congratulations on your excellent profile of U.S. submariners ("Red Hunt," April 12, by David DeVoss). But may I suggest that you may have inadvertently painted with too broad a brush when recounting the U.S. Navy's losses of one in five submarines in World War II and ascribing them to the fact that skippers had to come to the surface to make their sightings?

The total is about right--52 U.S. subs lost--but that count includes losses of every type from 1941-45, ranging from training accidents and scuttling following damage to losses by groundings and by collisions in U.S. waters. As the reference books read, 24 U.S. subs were lost to Japanese surface units and aircraft; four were sunk by U.S. forces in mistaken- identity attacks; two by Japanese submarines; four by mines; one by shore batteries; eight by the misadventures mentioned earlier, and nine that the Japanese never claimed but that are assumed to have been lost to mines. Less than 10% appear to actually have been lost in battles brought on by the need for periscope approaches.

Joseph A. Daley

Tarzana

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