Saturday, August 29, 2009
By Ross Watton
London: Conway Maritime Press, 2004 USA and Canada: Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004. Reprint of 1991 edition. ISBN 0851779964. 160 pages (11 of narrative text), 26 large photographs, approx. 500 line drawings (USNI cites "128 pages, 250 illustrations"). Hardcover. 9 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches. $42.95 US
Reviewed by Michael C. Potter (March 2005)
One way or another aircraft carriers embody or exploit very nearly every technological discipline that man has devised. Aircraft Carrier Victorious provides, literally, a highly detailed view of the Royal Navy’s largest warship to serve actively both in World War II and in the 1960s fleet. HMS Victorious is perhaps most famous for her first combat operation when her Swordfish aircraft damaged the Bismarck in the North Atlantic and aggravated the wastage of fuel that exhausted the fleeing battleship. Lt. Cdr. Eugene Esmond, RN, who led this attack, later earned the Victoria Cross posthumously for leading a similar strike from a land base against the fleeing Scharnhorst and Gneisenau. Victorious was very active throughout the war in every theater and earned ten battle honors, little short of HMS Warspite’s record of twelve.Victorious was laid up in 1947, then inducted for modernization beginning in 1950. This lasted eight years. The ship was rebuilt from the hangar deck up. Equipped with an angled deck, steam catapults, a landing mirror system, modernized radar, and much else, she recommissioned in 1958 as practically an entirely new ship to operate contemporary jet fighters and bombers, helicopters, and AEW-ASW aircaft. She operated until 1967 when following a trivial fire after routine shipyard work, the government ordered her decommissioned. Many of her crew were transferred to HMS Hermes, then recommissioning.
"Anatomy of the Ship" series of books share a similar format of a short narrative text of the ship’s design features followed by highly detailed photographs and illustrations of the ship, her weapons, and her fittings. Modelers and naval enthusiasts find these books valuable, although modelers (e.g., this reviewer) would appreciate more data about painting.The initial text section covers the design of the ship and her reconstruction. One operation (Tungsten, against Tirpitz) is described. A chronology of key dates in the ship’s career follows.Unlike reprints of other books, in this re-issue all the photographs and drawings are razor-sharp. Aircraft Carrier Victorious covers both her wartime and postwar careers. The dust jacket cites "complete with 1/550 fold-out plan" but in this re-issue the plans are spread over two bound pages, and are not fold-outs as I understand this term. On the other hand, the book contains no fewer than four such large two-page plans, each of which has separate port and starboard elevations. Those plans cover merely her external appearance during her long career and literally only begin this book’s wealth of large, sharp, detailed drawings of this ship. General arrangement drawings alone span fully 30 pages.Her aircraft ranged from Swordfish biplanes to Buccaneer jet bombers that in RAF service fought in the Gulf War in 1991. Every aircraft gets multiple views at 1/200 scale, spanning 16 pages total. The ship’s mounted weapons are all detailed, including her huge Type 984 radar antenna (one of only three ever to go to sea) and her USN 3-inch gun battery, unique in RN service.A full narrative history of HMS Victorious appears in Neil McCart, The Illustrious and Implacable Class Carriers 1940–1969 (Chelthenham, UK: Fan Publications, 2000), and presumably in his HMS Victorious 1937–1969 (a book I have not seen).
The Japanese assault on Hong Kong in 1941 has been well documented over the years. However the story of what happened afterwards has never been looked at in detail before.
The British Army had maintained a garrison in Hong Kong since at least the time of the Opium wars of the 19th century. With war clouds looming, most of the soldier’s families were sent to Australia for safety before the invasion. The author paints a vivid picture of Hong Kong before, during and after the Japanese invasion. Personalized accounts help to bring the reader to feel they were practically there.
USS Grouper, the submarine that unfortunately sank Lisbon Maru is profiled in great depth, giving the reader another side of the picture in this tragedy.
The book is the story of a large group of British soldiers who were despatched to work as slave labor in Japan in September of 1942. They boarded the SS Lisbon Maru, a ship captained by a man who had already lost two ships to torpedo attack. Lisbon Maru was to be #3.
Locked in vile cargo hold in stifling heat, the prisoners were allowed just a brief period on deck during the day to exercise. After Lisbon Maru was torpedoes by USS Grouper on October 1, the prisoners were not allowed out of the cargo holds until the next day when the ship was in clearly about to sink.
The horror which ensued as many prisoners were killed in the water with not many afforded rescue was war at its worst. The prisoners left were first taken to China and then on to Japan. Few managed to survive until the camps were liberated in 1945 by Allied forces.
Author Tony Banham is commended for undertaking years of painstaking research to bring this story to light. It was indeed timely as many of the survivors have passed away and allowed many of them to recount events they have never told anyone - so horrific were they to recall.
The Sinking of the Lisbon Maru Britain's Forgotten Wartime Tragedy is truly one of the best works of history of the Second World War in recent years. How refreshing to have an author cover new ground instead of rehashing old ground.
Naval Institute Press 2004
This fourth and final volume in this series on Royal Navy warship development presents an in-depth and lucid account of British warship construction in the challenging half-century since World War II.
After considering the wartime legacy and lingering austerity, the authors cover some of the ambitious ideas for the bigger ships like the reconstruction of the carrier Victorious, and the conversion of fleet destroyers into anti-submarine frigates. But most of the book is devoted to new construction, with chapters on all the major categories and new information on designs that remained on the drawing board. It concludes with a survey of the most significant technological innovations and an analysis of the impact of the Falklands War. DK. Brown’s personal knowledge and experience and George Moore’s in-depth research on declassified material add up to a crowning finale to an internationally acclaimed series.This book will be of interest to those interested in both naval history and technology. The plethora of photographs alone make this work good value for money.
Mr Brown, a member of the Royal Corps of Naval Constructors, was involved in almost all Royal Navy ship programs over the past few decades.
Two never built designs heretofore not known by this writer were the Utility Minehunter which bears a marked similarity to the Canadian Maritime Coastal Defense Vessel and the planned HMS Terra Nova, an icebreaker/survey ship. The latter was deemed to expensive in 1967 so the mercantile Anita Dan was purchased and became HMS Endurance.
The writers are quite objective, giving both the good and the not so good credible coverage.
We can hope that these two gentlemen collaborate again in the not too distant future.
240 pages, 6" x 9"
Richard Rohmer, a person of some note in Canada in the 1970s and 1980s as the head of Canadian military reserve forces, a series nationalistic novels followed later by a number of works of history, has undertaken to bring to light a potentially dangerous situation in Canada.
The HMS Raleigh was commissioned as part of the British North Atlantic squadron in 1922. She was a Cavendish-class cruiser of 12,000 tons displacement, length overall of 605 feet, with a complement of 700 officers and men. On August 8, 1922, in thick fog and without warning, the Raleigh ran aground on Point Amour, Forteau Bay, Labrador. The ship remained hard aground and upright for four years. During this period, she was stripped of all salvageable items and was destroyed with explosives in September 1926. Since that time, local residents have been salvaging the brass from cordite containers and shells, which were left behind. Each spring new projectiles and cordite wash up on the beach and are collected. This book follows the story of the Raleigh from 1922 to current times.
The book recounts the brief career of HMS Raleigh but soon falls apart when reference is made to "Victoria Island" instead of "Vancouver Island" in British Columbia. In fact the reader quickly becomes aware of the complete lack to proof reading or editing done on this book. One is left feeling as if the initial manuscript went straight from the writer’s desk to the printing process.The CPR liner SS Empress of France is misidentified as HMS and later corrected to SS. The photo captions do not always match the photographs – one glaring example is a photo of the stern of HMS Raleigh misidentified as the bow. Another photo caption still contains the word "etcetera," as if text was to be added later.Rohmer also misses two Canadian links within the book. The service record of the Navigating Officer of HMS Raleigh, Commander Bott, shows that he served in HMS Niobe before this ship was transferred to the brand new Royal Canadian Navy in 1910. Later in the book, reference is made to the cruiser HMCS Aurora and submarines HMCS CH-14 & CH-15 being in a state of disrepair in Halifax in 1926.
Another annoyance with this book is photocopies of documents are placed within the text. The readers are left to fend for themselves on reading through these instead of a narrative from the author. It would’ve been much easier to include these as appendices and have them replaced by a better narrative.This is the first work we have reviewed from the publisher. Their lack of proofing or editing even extends to their marketing materials – reference is made to "cordiate" instead of "cordite" still being contained within the hull of HMS Raleigh.To quote some famous movie critics, "thumbs way down on this one."
Hard cover, three fold outs with 6 plans in 1:400 scale, two inserts with 4 color drawings, 64 black and white photographs, 42 drawings, technical data tables
Although the text is in Polish, this book is a valuable source for high quality ship photographs and drawings.
The Leander-class cruisers served the navies of Great Britain (all), New Zealand (Leander, Neptune & Achilles) and India (Achilles.) Perhaps the most famous action was the Battle of the River Plate of 1939 that saw HMS Achilles (although New Zealand manned, the HMNZS acronym would not come into being until 1942) and HMS Ajax joined with larger cruiser HMS Exeter in the action against pocket battleship Graf Spee.
The whole class served with distinction in the Mediterranean and other theaters. Achilles was the only member of the class to see postwar service albeit as a training ship in India. Like most of the Royal Navy in the late 1940s, most of the ships were worn out from strenuous war service.
It is hoped that the publisher will come out with an English language version of this fine book. (DS)
This book can best be described by one word – dreadful. It attempts to provide an account of the life of HMS Hood, one of the most famous ships to ever serve in the Royal Navy. The errors are almost beyond belief; some examples are:
· Author doesn’t know the difference between a Russia Convoy and surface action group including HMS Hood and Prince of Wales hunting for Bismarck claiming the latter was PQ convoy of the Russia series. · No idea of what an Admiral of the Fleet was.
· Refers to the Royal New Zealand Navy in 1923 – a force not founded until 1942. · Lists HMS Repulse as a battleship instead of battlecruiser.
· Claims HMS Hood was fitted with 5.9 inch guns instead of the correct 5.5 inch.
· Photo on page 69 doesn’t resemble Scapa Flow in the least. · Lists Bismarck as “pocket” battleship displaying ignorance on this. This book is an absolute horrid waste of paper.
By Yves Buffetaut
164 pages; $39.95
Published to coincide with the sixtieth anniversary of the landings at Normandy, this reprint of a classic work offers a superb appraisal of the Allies’ naval contribution to the largest amphibious operation in history. The author examines the ships, strategic and tactical planning, the channel voyage, landings on both American and British beaches, the Mulberry harbors, the great storm, and looks at the invasion from the perspective of amphibious operations throughout World War II. With the huge range of craft detailed and supporting plans and action photographs, this reprint claims to be the best available account of Operation Overlord. Unfortunately the author does a poor job of identifying ships and the books suffers because of it. For example an ARL repair ship is misidentified as an LST on page 12.
The major fault of this book is the misnomer of the title. I thought it would be a compilation of the ships that actually took part in the D-Day landings. Instead, the book is a rehash of previously publishing information about the landings.
One well known naval historian has described this book as "Some of the D-Day Ships," an apt metaphor for this disaster. Shame on Conway Maritime Press for publishing this rubbish. (DS)
By Ron Walsh RN
169 pages; £9.99
In 1940 Ordinary Seaman Ron Walsh was on HMS Foylebank in Portland Harbour as Porrtland's defence ship. An attack of 26 Stukas sank the ship after 22 direct hits. Ron survived, but his war was not over.
Atlantic convoy duty on HMS Bulldog among the U-boat packs, the invasion of North Africa, Gold Beach on D-Day for Operation Overlord.
Ron Walsh served on 55 ships and naval establishments in a 33 year career with the Navy, until retirement in 1969... and even then he worked as a civilian driver at HMS Collingwood until 1984!
This is a personal account of Ron's Naval experiences at home and abroad, through war and peace.
Mr Walsh, like many others wishing to recount their life story, have decided to go the route of self-publishing. While adding much to the historical record, most of these works are not scholarly in nature and do suffer from lack of editing.
Walsh does a reasonable job of telling what it was like in the Royal Navy as a prewar boy seaman, war and peacetime duty on several ships and shore establishments. A nice touch would've been to add comments and discussion on the various ships, something lacking from most technical publications.
This book is adequate for the casual reader but doesn't really add any new information to overall historical record. This could have been a very good book with more effort and research which precludes a recommendation. (DS)
Within these pages, in a masterful control of subject matter, Dr. Michael Palmer analyzes the evolution of naval fleet command and control from the Anglo-Spanish battle in the English Channel in 1588 to the Persian Gulf War. The essence of the book is the struggle of two opposing philosophies of naval (and military) command, that of the centralizers vs. the decentralizers. He takes as his benchmark the guidance and techniques used by Rear Admiral Sir Horatio Nelson in his classic action at the Battle of the Nile in 1801 where he waged a battle of annihilation against the fleet of French Vice Admiral Francois Paul Brueys.
There, in conflict, were the prevailing theories of battle, the Frenchman favoring one scientifically controlled from above, using preplanned maneuvers and controlled by the commander using a well developed set of signals, in which subordinates would execute the plan in obedience to orders. The captains of the British fleet, having absorbed Nelson’s carefully taught doctrine emphasizing the initiative of the subordinate, knew they should not expect to see flags signaling what they were to do. Nelson was willing to accept a certain amount of confusion, disorder and even chaos in battle because he trusted his commanders to do what was expected of them. The main idea being that if trained ship commanders knew what to expect, they could prevail even in the "fog of war" where uncertainty is a constant. In Palmer’s view, this is still the central principle for success in battle.Despite revolutionary improvements in communications, the central crisis of command remains. From the firing of signal guns, the lowering of a topsail, the hoisting of elaborate flag signals, and the advent of continuous wave radio and voice communications, and even computer-driven data systems, technological improvements have not eased the dilemma. In fact, the impact of steam-driven ships, heavy armor, steam torpedoes, breech-loading guns, gas turbine engines, and ship-launched missiles have accelerated the need for rapid command decisions and greatly reduced the time required to make them. By the same token, the advent of the telegraph, submarine cables, wireless telegraphy, and satellite communications have only induced the naval commander’s worst nightmare, the tendency of headquarters staffs who are out of touch with local conditions to micromanage the battle space.This work is deeply researched, written concisely and with flair, and the author’s opinions are not hidden. This is an essential book for the libraries of navy officers, policy makers, naval scholars and military history buffs.
Reviewed by William S. Dudley, Ph.D.
Former Director of Naval History
Britain, Germany, and the Winning of the Great War at Sea
Written by Robert K. Massie
Category: History - Military - WW I
Imprint: Random House
Format: Hardcover, 880 pages
Pub Date: October 2003
Massie, author of such works as Nicholas and Alexandra, Dreadnought and others, is probably the assumed the mantle of preeminent early 20th Century historian after the death of Barbara W Tuchman. Hence this latest work was eagerly awaited.
And it doesn't disappoint! Massie has a superb knack of getting his readers to know that they personally know the subjects he is writing about. In this book, all the major figures of the naval sphere of the First World War are covered.
Great detail is gone into the naval actions from Coronel to the scuttling of the High Seas Fleet in 1919.
This superbly written book is a must for the book is a must for every bookshelf on naval history.
The Captain-class frigates included seventy-eight sturdy destroyer escorts built in the United States and leased to Great Britain in 1943. A member of the Royal Navy who served on one of these combat vessels in the Atlantic has written this engaging narrative of their operations. As a participant, he describes the close teamwork and comradeship that existed within the escort groups of the Captains as they faced the lethal submarine threat, in all weather, week in week out, with all too little opportunity for rest between operations. It is a story of vigilance, determination, and fortitude combined with high skill and unfailing courage. These "Yankee frigates," as they were affectionately known, and the men who manned them saved many thousands of lives and millions of tons of vital supplies needed to keep Britain and the Allies in the war.
Every so often a book comes along which is a true labor of love by the author. This book is one such instance.
Written by a former crewman of HMS Cubbitt, one gets the true sense of feel that others could not have imparted.
Some excellent material is contained in the narrative about the conditions at the Boston Navy Yard in Charlestown, which was a beehive of activity at that time.
As per British custom with ships received under Lend-Lease, creature comforts for the crew such as ice cream machines and laundry facilities were removed. However as an improvement performed in UK yards, proper toilets replaced the as built US style latrine style facilities.
The ships came off the Boston area production lines so fast that Royal Navy crews were not always ready for them. Some of the crews came from RN ships under repair in US yards such as HMS Uganda at Charleston. A number of the ships were sailed up to Halifax and stored at the RCN base there until such time a RN crews could be made available. One of the ships in Halifax sailed to the UK with a Canadian civilian crew and a number of others were sailed over by crews going to get ships being built in UK yards.
The author groups the ships together by the Royal Navy group to which they were assigned. A career history while engaged in these activities is provided for each ship.
Mr Collingwood is to be commended for his fine work here. It is a must of any bookshelf of students of naval history. (DS)
Sunday, August 23, 2009
Soft Cover 2003 1898563810 Horwood Publishing Limited Illustrated This book addresses ocean wave processes and turbulence as they affect oceanography, meteorology, marine and coastal engineering. It will enable applied mathematicians, seafarers, and all others affected by these phenomena to predict and control wave effects on shipping safety, weather forecasting, offshore structures, sediment pollution, and ice dynamics in polar regions. The focus is on analytical and computational methods for solving equations of motion and studying non-linear aspects of waves and turbulence. The book records the proceedings of the Wind Over Waves conference of the Institute of Mathematics and its Applications at Churchill College, Cambridge. Co-sponsors with the IMA are The Institute of Civil Engineers and The Royal Meteorological Society.
The twenty-seventh volume of this perennially acclaimed annual maintains the well-established high standards of original research combined with interesting and unusual illustrations from the world of warship history. This edition features George Moore’s examination of British post-war destroyer construction, Keith McBride’s look at the Nelson and Agamemnon battleships, the final part of Iain McCallum’s trilogy on British shell defects, D.K. Brown’s original research on British torpedo boats, and much more. The volume is rounded out by regular features on the backwaters of warship history, a summary of recent important events, and coverage of significant books and websites from the previous year.
This book can be summed up in one word: superb. The transition to new editor John Jordan from the late Antony Preston has been without so much as a hiccup so far.
The only small criticism is three typographical errors that were noted.
This book is a must for any bookshelf of those interested in naval history and current events.
208 PAGES. 100 ILLUSTRATIONS. HARDCOVER. 8 X 10 1/4 INCHES.Naval Institute Press Retail Price : $45.00 ISBN # 1844860035
Conway continues to produce these superlative works on naval history. It is hard to imagine anyone interested in naval history is not enamored with these superb works which evolved over the years from the old Warship Magazine.
The annual book format is much better than the magazine and this volume for 2004 does not disappoint. The book is profusely illustrated and contains numerous plans.
An example of the chapter titles should whet your appetite such as:
Riddle of the Shells - examines the lack of success of Royal Navy shells up to and including Jutland
Minelaying cruiser Pluton - French response to HMS Adventurer
IJN Naniwa & Takachiho - built on the Tyne
Armstrong's Contribution to the New USN
A Century Long Dream Single Purpose Submarines of the Italian Navy 1892-2003
Minelayer "Clas Fleming" - an early gas turbine ship of the Royal Swedish Navy
Project 69: Kronshtadt Battlecruisers
The Dawn of Salisbury, Leopard & Whitby Class frigates
The Ships Named Anzac
World Navies in Review 2003-2004
Notes and Book reviews
The World's Worst Warships
This is one of the truly outstanding works of recent years. This reviewer eagerly awaits the next edition.
Hardcover ISBN: 1551250764 Vanwell Publishing 2003
This book attempts to provide the development of the world tugboat industry from a historical perspective. With extensive use of illustrations, drawing and an easy to read text, author Donal M Baird has accomplished this.
Towing vessel development primarily stemmed from practical experience in Holland the British Isles. Although early efforts there seem limited by today’s standards, the tug really came into its own in the New World, especially in the Pacific Northwest and Great Lakes regions of North America.
A few minor errors were noted in the work:
On page 218 the hull of a former US Hog Island mercantile hull is misidentified as a sailing vessel
On page 238 a stage Hyundai and Seaspan publicity photo of the 400,000 DWT Hyundai Giant is captioned as a normal event. Hyundai Giant was an iron ore carrier, a kind of ship that doesn’t trade to Canada’s West Coast.
No mention of the Canadian National Energy Plan of the 1970s which resulted in a building boom of tugs for Arctic service.
Pages 25-36 are upside down; hopefully this was just limited to the review copies.
This book is well worth purchasing just for the excellent photographs and drawings. The research and effort evident in the text makes this the complete book on the subject to date.
ISBN 1550172751 Harbour Publishing 10 x 12 · 144 pages Hardback $49.95 150 color photos October 2002
As someone who has spent almost thirty years in the marine field in British Columbia, I thought I knew quite a bit about tugs. However, I soon learned some very interesting items that I never knew before.
The coffee table sized book is full of color photographs of local tugs at work; not standard company publicity shots. The captions of the photos are usually quite accurate however a few errors were noted such as a tug identified as RIVTOW JRW when it should have just been JRW and a pure car carrier (PCC) in the Fraser River is misidentified as a bulk carrier.
Several well known tugs are featured from the large RIVTOW CAPTAIN BOB to the small RIVER STAR, well known for many years as KATHY L in Vancouver.
One interesting point learned in this bok was "the fresh water of the Fraser offers sanctuary from wood-boring teredos that can render logs worthless in mere weeks."
Overall, the book is value for money in the beautiful color photographs alone. Shiplovers can look forward to many enjoyable hours with this work.
By Stephen McLaughlin
Retail Price : $89.95
ISBN 1557504814Binding : HBNumber of Pages : 528Number of Photos : 105 monochromeNumber of Line Art Drawings: 96
Drawing on Russian research, Stephen McLaughlin has compiled the design histories of all Russian armored line-of-battle ships from the Pëtr Velikii of the 1870s for the czar to concepts in the 1950s for Stalin. By using practically all source material, this book provides a fresh look at Russian battleships, compares them factually with foreign contemporaries, and corrects errors of detail in previous accounts. Over half of Russia’s forty completed or acquired battleships met violent ends. War, political revolution, and oppression constantly leave their marks.
The book has 49 chapters, all short. Chapters 1–24 cover ironclads, pre-dreadnought battleships, the Russo-Japanese war, and subsequent revolutionary activities, including the Potëmkin incident. At a time when a warship was reckoned to lose 10% of her fighting capability every 1,000 miles from base, Russian pre-dreadnoughts sailed halfway around the globe and then fought a refreshed Japanese fleet at Tsushima. An interesting chapter covers the technical lessons that the Russians drew from the war. At the same time when the RN and USN produced their first dreadnought designs with greatly reduced secondary armament, the Russians decided to increase their battleships’ anti-torpedo boat armament.
Chapters 25–37 cover the dreadnoughts, modernization of older battleships, the First World War, and the Russian Revolution. Russian pre-dreadnoughts fought German dreadnoughts. Ironies abound. Revolutionary fervor often came from sailors. In 1921 the fleet revolted against Bolshevik oppression. Battleship Sevastopol suffered over 100 killed in a duel against Red Army artillery. The Bolsheviks mustered 45,000 troops to attack across the frozen Gulf of Finland. Victorious, the Bolsheviks renamed the battleships for revolutionary political correctness and executed over 2,000 revolutionary sailors.
Chapters 38–48 cover modernization of Czarist battleships and plans before and after the Second World War. This section necessarily involves mostly conceptual designs that were never started and construction that was never completed. Chapter 49 has Stephen McLaughlin’s conclusions. Russian battleships had flaws but so did all such ships. His evaluation of tumblehome, a weight-saving feature in the 19th century, should interest U.S. Navy readers, since this feature has recently been considered for new USN surface combatants for its stealth qualities.
Illustrations are large, sharp, and detailed, and include several two-page spreads. The book covers foreign influences, gunfire control systems, former foreign ships in Russian service, and former Russian ships in Japanese service. Russian plans often never became reality. A plan to rearm the ex-Italian Novorossiisk with Russian 12-inch guns was abandoned after the ship discovered, evidently via her anchor chain, that plans for minesweeping of Black Sea harbors had not been carried out, either.
What this book does not cover: As primarily a design history from Russian sources instead of a general operational history, this book does not repeat or summarize published accounts of combat. Modelers should know that color schemes are not covered. The book does not cover coastal defense ships, the very large cruisers begun in the 1940s, and the unarmored ships of the nuclear age. Stephen McLaughlin covers the large cruisers separately in Warship 2004.
Russian and Soviet Battleships will fascinate any battleship enthusiast. This book is yet more interesting for its broad view. In describing the difficulties of translating the designs to actual warships the book illuminates the varying industrial state of Russia during the battleship era.
Review by Michael C. Potter, Captain, SC, USNR
Maritime Books 2008 No ISBN listed
LCDR Malcolm Maclean of the Royal Navy has taken on a daunting task to compile a one volume record of naval mishaps since the end of the Second World War.
What must have taken a staggering amount of work should be read by naval officers of all nations as a simple reminder that anything, no matter how seemingly innocuous can lead to tragedy. Maclean's passion for this work is evident and is admired.
A detailed chronology is included which lists two causes of ship loss one would never think of -- quicksand and collision with a dolphin.
A few errors are contained in the text such as confusion when to employ USS or USNS in a historical context, use of a wartime hull number for one ship and a post-1948 number for another in the same sentence, 2182 and 500 KHz are not VHF radio frequencies, guessing at national prefixes for certain navy’s ships, Sevastopol is in the Black Sea not the Baltic and San Francisco Bay Shipyard – was that Hunters Point or Mare Island Naval Shipyard?
A record of sources via footnote would have been a nice addition.
However these small quibbles should not deter anyone with an interest in naval history for reading this amazing effort.
Author Maclean and Maritime Books have put out a near perfect naval reference work.
Henry Sakaida, Gary Nila, and Koji Takashi. Crowborough, U.K.: Hikoki Press, 2006. 144 pp, 250+ photographs, drawings, computer renderings, maps. Index. Bibliography.The original targets of what was intended to be a class of 18 submarines equipped to carry two (later three) Aichi M6A Seirun single-engined floatplane bombers was to have been cities on the East Coast of the U.S. mainland––hence the requirement (later somewhat reduced) for a range of over 40,000 nautical miles. As the program progressed, the number of submarines was cut sharply and the target redefined as the Panama Canal, which the Japanese mistakenly believed was ill-defended against air attack. The pace of the war, however, forced selection of an even closer target for the three submarines that actually were available in the closing days of World War II, the 5,223-ton I-400 and I-401 with three aircraft each and the smaller I-13, with two. The end of the war saw the three submarines on their way to conduct a kamikaze attack on ships at the vast Ulithi anchorage, all eight of their aircraft carrying U.S. markings and with their single bomb payloads permanently attached and their twin floats left behind to improve their range and speed. After their surrender on the high seas to U.S. forces and return to their defeated homeland, the submarines, along with other surviving Japanese submarines deemed worth technical exploitation, were repaired, defumigated, and despatched with volunteer U.S. Navy crews on a long, surface voyage to Pearl Harbor. There they were given a rather cursory examination by U.S. and British technical experts, but before their planned voyage onward to the U.S. mainland could be carried out, Russian pressure to receive some of the boats as war booty forced the U.S. Navy to expend them all as targets in deep water off Barber's Point, Hawaii, during March 1946. I-400 not only includes nearly two dozen photos of the demise of the I-400 but also has four underwater views of the giant submarine taken on 17 March 2005 by the University of Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory.The I-400 and I-13 classes were unique primarily for their great size and were the largest submarines in the World at the time of their completion. They were also the largest submarines to employ riveted construction, which restricted their diving depth. The book usefully reproduces in facsimile the brief and rather superficial U.S. Navy exploitation report which concluded (as did the vastly more detailed reports done on interned German submarines at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard) that little of interest was to be learned from them––although, curiously, while the Japanese carrier submarines had anechoic hull coatings to reduce their radiated noise signatures, the U.S. Navy didn't develop similar coatings for another three decades. The I-400 also had a snorkel system and an extensive array of radars and radar intercept equipment, and the basic concept of the aircraft hangar and its watertight door was later employed on the handful of cruise missile submarines deployed by the U.S. Navy.While sumptuously produced by one of the very best of the aviation history publishers, I-400 is clearly not the work of professional historians or authors with a broad knowledge of submarine technology, but it is exemplary in its description of the Seirun aircraft (one of which is on display at the Smithsonian's Dulles Airport annex) and how they were operated; descriptions by an actual Seirun pilot are included. As example of one of the minor nautical gaffes is a photo that identifies the submarines' external degaussing cable arrays as being intended to counter the static electricity built up with the passage of the boats beneath the sea! An aerial photo of a U.S. submarine tender with six submarines alongside is captioned as showing Japanese boats, but they are actually U.S. Navy submarines. The book depends perhaps too heavily on several Japanese-language memoirs about service on the I-400 and says very little about the I-401 or the I-13 class. There is too much repetition of information, the bibliography is disorganized and would be difficult to use, and some of the material about the careers of some of the surviving U.S. volunteer crewmen seem extraneous to the book's theme. The photographs, however, are numerous and of genuine high interest and quality. The special artwork done for the book, including a fold-out color computer plan and elevation rendering of the I-400, is magnificent. On balanceI-400 is well worth the rather stiff price demanded and is highly recommended to anyone interested in these little-known submarines and their thwarted operational careers.Review by A.D. Baker III
Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004
248 pages; index; no illustrations (Publisher cites "304 pages, 10 photographs"). Hardcover. 6 x 9 inches. $32.95 US
Reviewed by Michael C. Potter, Captain, SC, USNR (Ret.)
This book offers today’s officials lessons for winning a war, from the vantage of the losers of two successive world wars. The book also contains nuggets of naval technical interest.
British historians Roy Bennett and George Bennett, father and son, respectively, compiled this analysis of the German side of World War II from essays that nine Kriegsmarine admirals wrote shortly after the war ended. The book is not a collection of biographies.
The admirals’ careers and wartime assignments are not summarized in the book. Axis Biographical Research and other sources provide these highlights:
Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz: CinC submarines 1936–43; CinC Kriegsmarine 1943–45.
General Admiral Hermann Boehm: CinC Fleet, 1939; Norway 1940–43.
Admiral Theodor Krancke: CO Admiral Scheer 1940–41; naval commander in France 1943–44.
VAdm Hellmuth Heye: Strategic planner 1938–39; CO Admiral Hipper 1939–40; created midget submarine force 1944–45.
General Admiral Otto Schniewind: Strategic planner 1938–39; CinC Fleet 1941–44.
Admiral Karlgeorg Schuster: Axis naval force commander for invasion of Crete, 1941.
VAdm Eberhard Weichold: Liaison to Italian fleet 1940–43.
RAdm Hans Karl Meyer: CO Tirpitz 1943–44.
RAdm Otto Schulz: North Sea 1940–43; naval commander in Crimea 1943–44.
British interrogators in May 1945 first sought technical information from German admirals. The latter feared that cooperation would doom themselves at war crimes trials. One committed suicide. Meanwhile Admiral Dönitz, who succeeded Hitler and had political skills, issued a "narrative" to Germany’s defeated military that of course the victors too would read. Dönitz made three assertions:
the German military fought heroically and bore no shame;
the western allies should revive Germany intact as a bulwark against communism, meaning against Russia; and
few Germans knew of the concentration camps (a German emigré who was a young woman during the war years told this reviewer’s family that most Germans knew of the camps).
Another mission by the allies invited German admirals to write about German naval policy under the Nazis, on condition that their essays would not be used to prepare war crimes cases. This method avoided the confrontation and resistance of an interrogation, and obviated an immediate need for translators. Only one (Weichold) had records; the others wrote from memory. This book comprises excerpts, arranged chronologically. The editors insert commentary for context and to note discrepancies in the essays.
In the first and longest chapter the admirals describe "The Pre-war Period" that followed Germany’s collapse in WW1. Dönitz and others tell how the Kriegsmarine built itself. It is a lesson in the productive use of senior veterans in a failed state. Heye, a competent technical planner, observes that every interwar German warship was at once a training ship, an experimental ship, and a warship. This reviewer notes that hybridization occurred too in Sweden in the cruiser Gotland of that same era.
Heye considers aircraft carriers "very necessary for the Arctic." Dönitz considers air reconnaissance vital to locate convoys for U-boats to attack. The excerpts repeatedly complain about poor cooperation from the Luftwaffe. Germany seized Norway, France, and Crete, and enjoyed bases in Italy, yet never severed the western allies’ sea lines of communication from Britain and Gibraltar. One would think that Norway could substitute for aircraft carriers, even more so since the Germans had no experience in operating aircraft carriers.
The essays reveal wartime incidents of bolstering although the editors do not highlight these. In bolstering, a decision maker downplays the risks and costs of a course of action and represents adverse aspects of a decision as attractive. One such incident described in these essays is justifying the risky sortie of the Bismarck as a diversion from the Crete operation. Another is Dönitz’s claim of victory in wearing out British ships by inducing the Royal Navy to operate continuously, ignoring the greatly increased prowess that the RN developed. Hitler’s admirals inadvertently remind us that a tyranny is highly susceptible to such self-delusion.
A more positive lesson for decision makers is that the victor can, to help to attain a peace settlement, offer to allow defeated leaders to write narratives such as those in this book. The narratives would explain the situation to the defeated population and to the defeated military forces. If the losers accede to our terms while retaining their pride, the settlement is favorable all around, as post-WW2 Germany shows.
This is our first experience with flottes de combat and to put it mildly, we are very impressed. Mr Prezelin's expertise in the field is clearly evident with the national entries clear and concise with a natural flow.
The book is profusely illustrated with most being in color. This makes the work a valuable recognition tool, an art becoming lost with today's overemphasis on electronics. What would be a good tool would be to incorporate this work in modern bridge electronic systems for easy reference.
Although the text is in French, it is quite easy to decipher.
The competition for this work is the more famous but prohibitively expensive Jane's Fighting Ships and the US Naval Institute Combat Fleets of the World. However of the three, Flottes de Combat 2008 is certainly the best value for money and most comprehensive.
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, 2005. ISBN 1591140080
Professional mariners, military and civilian, will find this book to be an invaluable reference in understanding the rules of the road and the role these rules play in managing the risk of collision. The author provides a thorough commentary on the rules and an analysis of collision cases involving abuse of the rules. Maritime attorneys and judges will find the book continues to be an indispensable reference on collision law as Craig Allen provides a mariner’s insight into how the rules apply in context and their application by the courts and administrative tribunals. This new edition completely revises chapters on the rules pertaining to good seamanship and special circumstances and on restricted visibility, and it vastly expands coverage of the narrow channel rule, traffic separation schemes, and the application of the rules to high-speed craft. It also extensively revises materials on the look out and risk of collision responsibilities to update coverage on radar and ARPA and to address new technologies, such as integrated bridge systems, automatic identification systems, voyage data recorders and the increasingly active role of VTS. The first update in ten years, the eighth edition upholds and even surpasses the standards set over the past sixty years of the guide’s publication.Author Craig H Allen is a professor at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle where he teaches maritime law courses. Prior to this he served in the US Coast Guard; sailing on five cutters as well as shore duty as a marine inspector, marine casualty investigator and attorney. He is also a member of the Royal Institute of Navigation and the US Maritime Law Association.
Allen has added provision for some of the modern technologies and practices employed at sea such as AIS, ARPA, ECDIS, IBS, VTS and TSS which is very useful.
However the work lacks a few things which would've made the book truly indispensable such as the difference between US and International buoyage, application of the International Code of Signals and information for bridge watchkeepers derived from Digital Select Calling (DSC) and GMDSS.
However these minor quibbles aside, this latest edition of Farwell's is highly recommended and should be on the desk of every maritime officer trainee along with Bowditch.
ISBN 978052186894364 pages Cambridge University PressHardcover, $36.95
A unique and outstanding military and industrial achievement, the Collins class submarine project was also plagued with difficulties and mired in politics. Its story is one of heroes and villains, grand passions, intrigue, lies, spies and backstabbing. It is as well a story of enormous commitment and resolve to achieve what many thought impossible. The building of these submarines was Australia's largest, most expensive and most controversial military project. From initiation in the 1981-82 budget to the delivery of the last submarine in 2003, the total cost was in excess of six billion dollars. Over 130 key players were interviewed for this book, and the Australian Defence Department allowed access to its classified archives and the Australian Navy archives. Vividly illustrated with photographs from the collections of the Royal Australian Navy and ASC Pty Ltd, The Collins Class Submarine Story: Steel, Spies and Spin is a riveting and accessibly written chronicle of a grand-scale quest for excellence.
The Collins class of submarine built by Australia have been dogged by stories of faulty computer programming which greatly added to their costs. While these boats were under development was also the same time the personal computer revolution was going on. If the boats had’ve been developed a few years later, costly software development would have been negate with COTS (commercial off the shelf) applications which may have done the job better than purpose written computer coding.
Australian politics of recent years was also tied into this program and made for much of the negative press which came from political mudslinging. Labour Party stalwart Kim Beazley was the face of the program early in the development, so much so that after taking power, the Howard government seriously considered cancelling the program just to embarrass Beazley who they thought was their potential rival for power.
The Collins class was a Swedish design, which the leftist Australian Labour Party wished to emulate. They considered Sweden to be the socialist Utopia and hence greatly helped in the selection of this design.
The combat suite from Atlas of Germany was selected for the Collins class which was bitterly opposed by the US Navy. Under tremendous pressure, the superior German technology was dropped in favour of American.
Sadly the text doesn’t go into the US brow beating on the torpedo question. Threats of being excluded from participation in US exercises and programs if the MK48 ADCAP torpedo was not selected. This lead to the first of class HMS Collins being invited to undergo sound and torpedo trials at the joint US/Canadian torpedo range at Nanoose Bay in British Columbia and the secretive US SSBN sound range in Alaskan waters. While at Nanoose Bay, this reviewer became only the second media person to ever get onboard HMS Collins after the Australian version of 60 Minutes.
The book was very well researched and what items may appear missing are probably still classified. This easy readable work is highly recommended.
Internationally acknowledged as the best one-volume reference to the world’s naval and paranaval forces, this popular Naval Institute guide is both comprehensive and affordable. Updated biennially since 1976, it has come to be relied on for all-inclusive, accurate, and up-to-date data on the ships, navies, coast guards, and naval aviation arms of more than 180 countries and territories. Large fleets and small maritime forces get equally thorough treatment as evidenced in this new edition, which highlights major and even minor developments that could have an impact on the world scene. A thorough indexing of material and a logical ship-typing system make the book easy to use and allow for quick comparisons between fleets.
The guide continues to present timely, authoritative information supported by more than four thousand illustrations from correspondents throughout the world. From giant aircraft carriers and ballistic missile submarines to tugboats and launches, the characteristics and capabilities of ships large and small are reliably recorded. Complete descriptions of naval aircraft, weapons, weapon systems, and sensors are also provided along with useful commentary on organization, personnel strengths, and bases.
Previously Combat Fleets had been issued every two years, the latest being 2005-06. However this time it is "15th Edition" which leaves one to wonder how often it will be published in future.
This is Wertheim's second edition after taking over from the very large shoes of previous editor AD Baker III. This latest work reflects Wertheim getting a better grasp of the subject matter.
However one area that disappoints, albeit on a minor scale, is the copy editing or proof reading. There are a number of small error which should have been picked up before publishing. Due to the technical nature of the subject, a copy editor with subject knowledge to spot both spelling and grammar errors as well as technical points would be a big help.
Several superb photos are in this latest work as usual. Some of the most well known ship photographers are featured such as Chris Sattler, Rob Cabo, Ralph Edwards and Frank Findler to name but a few.
With the great number of photos contained, this book should be a valuable addition to the bookshelf of professionals and those with an interest in ships. Compared to some competitors, Combat Fleets of the World represents good value for the money.
ISBN 1-55750-309-5337 pages, 6" x 9"Hardcover, $36.95
When my editor suggested that I review this tome, I was expecting a dull, boring and less than satisfying read. Was I wrong! This book was a most interesting read and I enjoyed it tremendously!
A biography of Admiral Otto Von Diederichs, it covered his entire career. Diederichs started out in the Prussian Navy in 1865 and finished with the Kaiser’s German Navy in 1902. Admiral Diederichs served in the Baltic and later on the China Station. His resume included the founding of the German Naval base at Tsingtao, China. His most important role was his involvement of long term planning in the Navy and his many battles with Admiral Tirpitz. Both of which impacted the performance of the Navy in the First World War.
The aspects of the Navy on the China Station were particularly interesting. Involvement of the European powers in China and the relationships with the Chinese government were not always cordial but lessons in difficult diplomacy.
Gottschall covered Diederichs’ relationship with United States Navy Admiral Mahan in great detail. This troubled relationship could be covered in its own volume.
My only complaint about the book is the lack of maps concerning the various areas featured in Diederichs’ career. A chart of the China Station would have been particularly helpful.
Dr. Gottschall’s background is in nineteenth-century European history and diplomacy and his skills definitely show in this volume. Well written, well researched this work is recommended for all readers, amateurs or professionals. I look forward to reviewing his next effort. (RWB)
Friday, August 14, 2009
Heritage House Publishing of British Columbia has carved out a niche for putting out very readable works of Canadian history. Author of this particular effort is Brendan Coyle; BC Ferries employee by day and historian by night.
When Chief Gunner Hashiro Hayashi took dead aim on British Columbia’s Estevan Point Lighthouse and wireless station on a June morning in 1942, the realities of war had come to North America. Sixty years later, the fascinating events of that era and their impact on both the Canadian and American psyche remain unknown to much of the world.
After conducting decades of research and interviews with veterans on both sides of the conflict, author Brendan Coyle now reveals the campaign that included three attacks on British Columbia, an air raid on Portland, Oregon, and the harsh battles fought in Alaska.
Sadly very few Canadians know that their forces took part in actions against the Japanese in Alaskan waters in 1942 and 1943. A number of warships including ships such as corvettes HMCS Vancouver and Dawson were used to support the assault on Japanese held positions and escort duties.
There was great fear of the Japanese in World War II. An armored train was actually manufactured in Winnipeg to defend the CNR rail line between Terrace and Prince Rupert from potential Japanese commando style raids.
In addition, several RCAF aircraft were sent to Alaska. Unfortunately a number of these were of British origin and completely unsuitable to North American climates.
Also richly detailed are the Japanese submarine operations, which included the near farcial attempt to shell the radio direction finding station next to Estevan Point Lighthouse on Vancouver Island.
A few small errors noted:
On page 110 the US Navy Hellcat fighter was misidentified as F4F instead of the correct F6F
The Royal Navy attack on the Italian Fleet at Taranto occurred in 1940 not 1941
San Diego was not the main US Navy base in 1941 it was Los Angeles
Bremerton, Washington is west of Seattle and not south
Mr Coyle is to be commended for an excellent job on this book and it is surely hoped that he will have more works of a historical nature forthcoming.
by Daniel Lloyd Little.
IUniverse 2006. $14.95. ISBN 0595415423. Soft Cover. 196 pages.
It is 2009 and North Korea has purchased four outdated submarine launched ballistic missile boosters from a French company tasked with destroying the rockets. Because they are not a weapon in and of themselves, international law governing the sale of strategic weapons cannot prevent the acquisition. Both the US and Canadian governments however, know too well what the unstable North Korean leader intends for the rocket boosters in light of his failure to successfully launch a missile of his own.
When a carefully planned covert mission to intercept the rockets unravels due to mechanical problems with the ultra quiet spy submarine USS Jimmy Carter, a replacement must be found and quickly! The surprising solution comes in the form of a Canadian submarine.
Commander Michael Simpson, nearing the end of his career with the Canadian navy has few doubts concerning his untried boat's capabilities, and he knows that his crew is the best out there. The only answer to his orders is the same one that has echoed throughout the history of one of the world's best-trained navies; 'ready, aye ready'. The author takes the reader on a thrilling adventure as the officers and crew of HMCS Corner Brook undertake a mission fraught with danger.
I have to admit, this is the first work of fiction I've reviewed and hopefully won't sound like too much of a nitpicker. As moderator of the Canadian Navy History group on the Internent, I was very excited to see someone come out with a modern day novel on the Canadian Navy.
Author, Daniel Little of Yarmouth NS is obviously a keen observer of world military affairs on an amateur level. Herein lies the weakness of the book. Terms such as addressing a submarine crewmember as "seaman" or sailors referring to "stairs" instead of the correct nautical term of "ladder" show this to good effect.
It would've benefited both Mr Little and the finished work to have done more research in this matter. Living within a few hours drive from Canada's largest naval base, he could have easily gone and spent time onboard either a submarine of other navy ship. This would have afforded the opportunity to learn correct attitudes and jargon of a ship at sea.
The flow of the book is akin to one of my guilty pleasures (Clive Cussler novels) but could have benefited from a bit of editing to improve tension and orderly flow to the text. However these are minor points and hopefully the author's technique will improve in the future works.
Kudos to Mr Little for having the ambition and drive to write a novel to this historically underserved market. There is enough potential visible to recommend this book as long as one remembers that this is a first effort. I look forward to seeing marked improvement in his second novel which I look forward to reading.
By Barry Gough
213 pages; $24.99
The schooner Nancy, legendary vessel of Great Lakes and Canadian history, lived a thousand lives in a noted career that began in Detroit and ended in a fiery explosion in Nottawasaga River in the last year of the War of 1812. This dramatic, soundly researched narrative depicts the reality of the men who sailed her while fighting a gritty war. Carrying the war to the enemy in hazardous ways, they fought against a powerful American foe, using stealth and daring to maintain the besieged Canadian position in the last armed struggle for the heartland of North America. The loss of the Nancy inspired generations to regard her as a symbol of devotion to king and country.The War of 1812 on the Great Lakes and Lake Champlain must've been a grim time for the parties involved with the almost summer heat and humidity coupled with intense cold in the winter. In addition, most of the local persons called up for service were more interested in getting back to their crops. The fact that many crops went unharvested, only made conditions worse with the lack of food.
Nancy was certainly not the most famous of ships and was chosen more for the fact that she was in the right place at the right time for her claim to fame.
To make the book work even better was a final chapter of the eventual finding and establishment of a Nancy Museum in the 1920s.
One small criticism of the book is Gough's use of the modern politically correct Canadian term of "nation" when referring to local Indian tribes during the War of 1812.
Gough certainly establishes his bona fides here as an entertaining writer. The narrative flows smoothly and makes for an excellent afternoon summer read. (DS)
The Admirals: Canada's Senior Naval Leadership in the Twentieth Century fills an important void in the history of Canada's navy. Those who carry the burden of high command have a critical niche in not only guiding the day-to-day concerns of running an armed service but in ensuring that it is ready to face the challenges of the future.
Canada's leading naval historians present analytical articles on the officers who led the navy from its foundation in 1910 to the unification in 1968. Six former Maritime Commanders provide personal reflections on command. The result is a valuable biographical compendium for anyone interested in the history of the Canadian Navy, the Canadian Forces, or military and naval leadership in general.
The three gentleman listed as authors on the cover are well known in Canadian naval history circles. To most readers, they probably require little introduction. Each contributed one chapter to the work and the trio served as a sort of quasi-educational board for the submitted essays which formed the basis of the book's chapters.
Most of the admirals written about in this work were forced to make do under circumstances of severe financial hardship. The Canadian Navy has been perennially starved for funds for most of its existence. How these men made do under these types of circumstances varied by their personal styles.
Most of the articles are written to give the reader a very good feel of the admirals. However the book would've been better to be more consistent in styling. However with the approach of essays written by a range of contributors, this was not always possible.
Sharper editing would've caught the lack of mention of the German freighter Hannover becoming escort carrier HMS Audacity and the coining of the term "frigate" to describe what were originally known as "twin-screwed" corvettes by Percy Nelles. In addition, as a person of Scottish heritage, I noticed that the term "Scotch" was used in at least one instance instead of the correct "Scottish."
One facet of Canadian naval history I did not know was the attempt to develop a seagoing data sharing system between ships known as DATAR. This was never funded in Canada and was instead adopted by the US Navy as the NTDS; the forerunner of a number of systems currently in use in US, Canadian and other navies.
For the serious student of Canadian naval history, this book will be a welcome addition to their bookshelf. (DS)
324 pp., illus., ISBN 1551250721
Vanwell Publishing Limited
Vanwell Publishing has finally released the long anticipated update to their earlier Ships of Canada's Naval Forces book. The latest edition was compiled by Ken Macpherson and Ron Barrie.
One great advance in this new version is the inclusion of the list of commanding officers included with each ship's data. In previous editions, this was contained in an appendix, causing much flipping back and forth of pages.
What would have added to the overall effect, would have been information on cancelled ships such as the 1943 RCN Loch Class frigates, 1963 General Purpose Frigates and Second World War underway replenishment ships.
For a book that includes a photo of almost every ship in Canadian naval history, this book should be included in every reference library.
Harbour Publishing Co Ltd Madeira Park BC 2000 1550172425. 288 pages. Illustrations.
Reviewed by Dave Shirlaw
This book was a put together over the course of several years. Allied Shipbuilding commissioned former Westcoast Mariner editor Vickie Jensen to write a history of their firm and the founding McLaren family.
Excellent detailed information was provided by Rollie Webb of White Rock BC, without whose help much of this book could not have been written.
Lots of excellent material is contained within the text along with numerous illustrations.
Two points I did not like about the book were:
the little amount of information from the Second World War which could've been obtained with more research.
flow of the text was jagged and uneven - going back and forth between chronological and subjects. One or the other should have been used throughout the book.
Apart from these minor quibbles, the book is recommended for persons interested in shipbuilding and nautical matters.
Mr Martin is well known for his previous historical records of aircraft of the Royal Canadian Air Force/Canadian Armed Forces. In this work, he has proven his love for research with a thorough treatise on Canadian naval aircraft.
This book covers everything a naval or aviation history lover would find of interest.
Every aircraft type, squadron, base and ship is covered in extensive detail. This includes units right down to the target drone unit at Shearwater.
Operations in the Second World War are covered in detail as well as post war operations. The latter includes the famous Exercise Mariner of 1953 when aircraft from HMCS Magnificent, USS Wasp and Bennington were lost in fog. A major catastrophe was averted at the last moment when a break in the fog was found.
The two Canadian-manned escort carriers (HMS Nabob and Puncher) are covered in detail along with general info on the whole RN/USN program for these ships. The inability of Canada to purchase this type of ship form the US and the program at Lapointe Pier in Vancouver to finish final fitting out of RN escort carriers built in Tacoma was missed.
The book is profusely illustrated with both color and black and white photographs along with some excellent artwork.
Kudos to Messrs Martin and Pettipas for this excellent addition to Canadian naval history.
Edited by Howard White
8.5 x 11 · 80 pages
Paperback · $16.95
For lovers of the history of the coast of British Columbia, the Raincoast series are indispensable.
Chapters in this book a fascinating look at squatters around the lower mainland, fishing superstitions, tug skippers in the days before search and rescue and others.
Profusely illustrated in a magazine-sized soft cover format to keep costs reasonable, this work is highly recommended.
Not many years ago, killer whales had a reputation that was even fiercer than their name. But in 1964 the Vancouver Aquarium obtained its first killer whale, Moby Doll, and for the first time the public got a personal look at one of these much-feared marine mammals. It was soon discovered that they were not the vicious man-eaters of legend. Attitudes began to change and today they are revered as loveable, intelligent creatures, iconic symbols of the marine environment.
In January 2002, a young killer whale was discovered alone in the waters of Puget Sound near Seattle. Determining that the whale would not survive alone so far from home, a team of scientists captured "Springer" and transported her by boat north to her home range where she rejoined her family.At the same time Springer was making her historic journey, another lone whale turned up in Nootka Sound on the West Coast of Vancouver Island. The people of Nootka Sound adopted "Luna," but he was a large boisterous youngster who liked to cuddle boats and the government feared he would get into trouble. Another rescue was planned to return Luna to his family but this time there was no happy ending.In Operation Orca, award-winning author Daniel Francis gives breadth to the complications, contradictions, and political posturing that twice engulfed the debate of whether to interfere or let nature take its course. Through the amazing story of these two "orphan" whales, Operation Orca tells the larger story of orcas in the Pacific Northwest, the people who have studied them and the transformation of the whale's image from killer to icon.
In summarizing the disappointing failure in rescuing "Luna" the author pinpoints what the real problem was – "For them, the failure to save one whale was symptomatic of a larger failure of community and humanity. They thought that Luna died because the interested parties had not been able to put aside their personal agendas for the good of the animal." This poignant realization captures it all.
The book goes into great detail into the persons involved in the narrative. This was necessary and paid off in the final result as the reader has a great understanding and appreciation of the parties involved.
The text flowed easily in an engrossing style, reflecting both appreciation of the subject matter and the reading audience. There can sometimes be a tendency for writers to pen an overly academic style of writing which is not evident here.
I would recommend this book as a good read for anyone who really wants to understand the complexities involved with rescuing and overseeing the welfare of killer whales. Francis and Hewlett have made for an excellent writing team.
--Reviewed by Debbie Shirlaw
Magic Light Publishing Ottawa ISBN 1894673166 2004. Includes a DVD video.
Within the Canadian Forces, the Navy made the largest contribution to the War on Terrorism with 16 major warships and 4,000 sailors deployed over a two-year period-practically the entire navy was sent to the Arabian Sea. Canadian warships were among the first assets deployed to the War on terrorism and we were the third largest contributor after the US and the UK.
Dr. Gimblett's book tells the story of the tireless and selfless efforts of thousands of Canadian sailors who participated in this critical campaign in and around the Arabian Sea, and whose role was pivotal to the mission's success from North America to Europe.
This book is the result of quite an effort that included visiting the Persian Gulf region by the author.
The author says that this period was the second "Golden Age" of the Canadian Navy; a point that is certainly debatable.
The author was also an officer onboard HMCS Protecteur in the first Gulf War in 1991. Protecteur successfully conducted a crew swap with the crew of sister HMCS Preserver flown into theater with original crew flying home to crew the latter. An explanation of why was not done during Operation Apollo would certainly have been warranted.
The inability to field enough Sea King helicopters is glossed over without criticism by the author. The deployment of HMCS Algonquin with no helicopters from Esquimalt was met with incredulity by writers and analysts in the US and elsewhere. When the now scrapped HMCS Provider was on the West Coast, she would routinely embark a USNR Sea King for training. One can only assume this was no longer done to avoid embarrassment to former Prime Minister Jean Chretien.
A few minor quibbles with the book:
Proofreading - Examples of better proofreading include mention of US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in 2000 instead of 2001 when he took office. In another part of the book the word "equipments" slipped through; a word not in the English language.
No mention of why frigate HMCS Ville de Quebec never deployed to the region.
No mention of the rumored difficulty in obtaining enough officers due to the requirement to undergo French language training.
Use of the French spelling for HMCS Montreal.
Mention of HMCS Calgary on the back cover serving as a caption to a photo of HMCS Toronto.
The book is profusely illustrated with color photographs and artwork from John Horton, a well known marine artist from Steveston BC.
Anyone interested in Canadian naval history will like this work. It is recommended.
Publisher: Random House,
Alfred A Knope, New York 2006
ISBN: 0 – 307 – 26577 – 3
Sam Harris is a reknown writer, winner of the Martha Albrand Award for first nonfiction, for a book titled The End of Faith, Religion, Terror and the future of Reason. This book was a New York Times best seller.
His Target Audience: A Christian living in USA and let me add Canada, and Europe.
His "Key" point: God is dead, so let’s get on with reason. Let’s learn to talk to our neighbour and save planet earth from destruction. Christian fundamentalism is the root of the evil, similar to Muslim fundamentalism. Evolution is the true reality!
His Position: Sam says he is a non-believer (p91) and "that he is dumbstruck by the Muslim hordes who chant death to whole nations of the living, but dumbstruck as well by a Christian .".by your denial of tangible reality, by suffering you create in service to your religious myths, and by your attachment to an imaginary God"
Target Audience: According to Statistics Canada" only 2% of the population in Canada attend any kind of church., then of those who attend, the question is raised as to how many are committed to a belief. My experience is it is usually less than 20% of those who attend. So the target audience is rather small, however if you turn the table upside down, the audience who would agree with this book’s position is extremely large, and of course would account for it being a best seller. The book is well written.
My Key Point: Sam Harris has never encountered the "Living GOD"! If he had the experience of CHRIST WITHIN, ( "Emmanuel" ), Sam would use his full name,…. "Samuel", the Hebrew meaning is "HIS NAME IS GOD". So "sam" takes on the "Screwtape" as his measuring stick.
My Position / Corporate
Canada already is a non-christian country. What bothers non-christians is that Believer’s exist. That somewhere 2006 plus or minus years ago, the event of CHRIST’s birth is still celebrated by somewhat ancient & out of focus believers. This thought grates on their minds. BUT, GOD is not something one reasons. Reason will not get anyone to GOD, it requires FAITH, that GOD exists. CHRIST, your creator, becoming your Judge will run shivers down your spine. That is where the real rub comes. HIS AUTHORITY. Using the Name of Christ in public prayer can land you in prison, but not if you use Allah, or Buddah.
My Position / Personal
Over 2006 years ago, an event took place that still marks our calenders. Daily we attest to this event by writing today’s date.
Daily I seek the LORD to guide my steps. CHRIST lives within me. GOD is not abstract. We talk, laugh and cry together. Through the study of HIS INSTRUCTION BOOK, I get guidance, direction and a purpose for my day. HIS HOLY SPIRIT surrounds me, and I have "joy and peace". Then I go about my day, knowing HE watches over me and cares for me and is deeply interested in what I do. Should I die today, I am at peace as well, because I was created for ETERNITY, and this earth does not have my citizenship.
The SHEMA is my motto: Hear O Canada, THE LORD, my GOD is ONE: and I will LOVE THE LORD my GOD, with 110% of my Heart, with 110% of my Soul, with 110% of my Mind and with 110% of my Strength, and I will LOVE my Neighbor as myself.
Reviewed by Sig Toews.
By Ryan Wahl
2008 Harbour Publishing
Not often a reviewer is in a book he or she is reviewing - the passage on the theft of the fishing vessel “Spirit of BC.” For that was me that tracked what turned out to be the incorrect vessel on radar while employed at the Canadian Coast Guard.
Author Ryan Wahl has truly put out what should be considered a labor of love as opposed to most books. His work traces his family’s wood boatbuilding efforts over multiple generations on the coast of British Columbia.
The book was a treat to read and is highly recommended.
1550172085Harbour Publishing6 x 9 · 240 pagesHardback · $28.9580 b&w photos, index1999
Although not old enough to remember the original Sudbury, this review clearly remembers Sudbury II docked next to the Bay Street Bridge in Victoria for many years.
The first Sudbury was a Flower-class corvette and the second was a Lend-Lease salvage tug built in the US in the Second World War.
Island Tug & Barge, once the largest employer in Victoria, BC, was a Pacific Ocean marine salvage company world famous for deep-sea rescues and long distance towing feats - and infamous for superior crews and a feisty little fleet, including the renowned Sudbury and Sudbury II. Most famous, however was the unstoppable, fiery owner, Harold Elworthy - "HB" for "Hard-boiled" - a boy who started with nothing and became a maritime giant. Together these ships and men proved themselves as some of the best marine salvors in the world. High Seas, High Risk recounts the Sudburys' most notable and dramatic tows and rescues, told mostly through the memories and anecdotes of former crewmembers.Island Tug & Barge made headlines around the seafaring world. The Sudburys made almost impossible rescues with ease - towing their charges through typhoons, pulling them off pinnacles of rock, fighting their fires and keeping them afloat with batteries of pumps. Beset by storms, lightning, and impossible conditions, the two tugs always made it home safely. Year after year the drama was repeated, until, one day, the headlines stopped. The Sudbury and the Sudbury II disappeared, Island Tug & Barge was gone.
Pat Wastell Norris, the author, does a fairly credible job of brining the story of these two ships to life. The narrative is well written but a little more research on her part would've made for a better book. Two examples of this are writing how the first Sudbury once went from Curacao to Panama City without going through the Panama Canal. This of course is an impossibility if she'd bothered to look at a map. The other was showing little or no knowledge of the Lend-Lease efforts of the US Government in the 1940s. Sudbury II was never sold to Britain, but loaned.
Apart from these minor points, the overall book is a good read. (DS)
Formac Publishing 2008 ISBN 9780887807398
Much has been written on the Royal Canadian Navy in the Battle of the Atlantic and the1945 Halifax Riot, it is believed that no work to date has looked at Halifax from the civic perspective. The book delves into the inadequate resources for the expansion of the Canadian war effort on Halifax, which was known as a “Canadian East Coast Port” for most of the war for security reasons.
Naftel looks at housing, transit, electricity, heating and life for both the average Haligonian and service personnel who had little or nothing to do while in port due to Draconian liquor and entertainment laws. Only one swimming pool even existed in Halifax and a few movie theaters. For young men wishing to vent steam after surviving a passage through dangerous U-Boat infested waters, this was unbearable and lead to much rensentment.
The work of the Wartime Prices & Trade Board was interesting as this was where my parents met in the Vancouver office. At the end of the war my father was an RCNVR lieutenant on the staff of a commodore at HMCS Scotian and witnessed the explosion of the Bedford Magazine.
A couple of historical inaccuracies were in the text such as HMS Royal Oak misidentified as Ark Royal and claiming the US was not mobilizing before the attack on Pearl Harbor. The author also employs the term “here” throughout the work as if only locals would be reading the book. For those interested in Canadian and naval history, this book makes a fine addition.
UBC Press, 248 pages, 18 illustrations
Paperback : ISBN 0774808918
Hardcover : ISBN 077480890X
The 1917 collision between two vessels in Halifax harbour resulted in vast amounts of damage and human carnage. The new Canadian Navy, just 7 years old, struggled under the weight of destruction that was unparalleled.
This book covers the events leading up to the collision and the inquiry that followed.
In the book, the various issues surrounding the care and management of the numerous vessels from through out the world appear to overwhelm the young inexperienced navy. All the issues combined to produce the recipe for disaster, a question of not if, but when.
Armstrong, a career officer who taught at the Royal Military College, covers the sad story of the event in great detail and with an experts eye. This book is for the most serious of historians interested in the Royal Canadian Navy’s early formative years or those interested in the study of Halifax.This tome, I would highly recommend for those reading about the proud, but young RCN. (RB)
There are few more enjoyable ways to spend a relaxing afternoon than at the seashore collecting ornate seashells. But there is no need to fly away to some exotic tropical locale to begin the fun. If you are in the Pacific Northwest, you will find local beaches as rich in fascinating treasures as any place on earth—or at least you will once you have this handy eight-fold guide to show you where to look and how to identify what you find. Those whose interest in shellfish is mainly gastronomic will also find this waterproof guide an essential tool.How many people in the Pacific Northwest do not have fond memories of examining sea shells with their children or in their own childhood? This new publication from Harbour Publishing is in folder format and will easily fit in a large pocket or backpack for a trip to the beach.
The folder contains games, history and information to make searching and exploring on the beach entertaining for the whole family.
With full color printing coupled with waterproof texture, this would be an excellent addition to any person's library or picnic basket!
Having had the pleasure of knowing personally two retired Commander (L) s from the Royal Canadian Navy - Hal Smith and Ralph Fisher - and having been in the Alexander Graham Bell Museum in Baddeck, I looked forward to reading this book.
The text of this book is indicative of good editing in that it flows well and stays on topic.
A good history of the life of Alexander Graham Bell, his wife and colleagues is very well done. Although well known for his more famous inventions, Bell`s lifestyle and research were only possible due to his wife`s wealth.
The early hydrofoils tested on waters off the shore of Baddeck, Nova Scotia are detailed. The parsimonious nature of the Canadian Government to spend any money on matters defense were not much different 100 years ago as they are today.
A few minor erroneous points are noted:
On page 42 the photo caption fails to mention HMCS Bras d Or in drydock at Halifax Shipyard. Also in the text on that page reference is made to a frigate in 1969 - Canada had no frigates in commission in 1969.
Page 80 destroyer escorts are misidentified as frigates
Only mentions military hydrofoils from Boeing. The Boeing Jeftfoil achieved limited commercial success around the world.
A very fine addition to the historical record of the both the Canadian Navy, warship development and Nova Scotia, this book is a worthy addition to any library of these topics.
This book covers one of history’s least well known nautical tragedies, the SS Atlantic disaster of 1873.
April Fools Day 1873 SS Atlantic ran hard aground on the Nova Scotia coast causing the loss of a higher percentage of her souls than her descendent, RMS Titanic of 1912 did. The unique factor being only the fittest survived leaving the souls of all the women and all but one child buried with her at the bottom of the sea.
Mr Love has made an effort to rectify this situation as well as to raise funds for the SS Atlantic Memorial Foundation via sales of this book.
Unfortunately the book is from a self-publishing project and suffers from poor quality layout and editing. Every second page has the word "Header" instead of the book title. The writer also shows little knowledge of nautical history by referring to Titanic as HMS instead of the correct RMS (Royal Mail Ship.)
The narrative draws heavily on transcripts of official inquiries and may be of interest to some on the mechanics of 19th century Admiralty Law. Sadly this is still not enough to recommend the book.
Edited by famous Canadian naval historian Michael Whitby, this book details wartime activities of passed over Royal Navy commander AFC Layard. Diaries and photography were definitely against regulations in wartime.
Whitby has focused primarily on Layard’s time in command of Canadians, both in Canadian and UK waters. Layard had a fondness for most of the RCNVR officers he commanded while considering most RCNR commanding officers (with the exception of Clarence A King, one of Canada’s best U-boat killers) to be too old and ineffective.
Layard disliked being senior officer of an escort group in a ride along capacity; instead preferring the old Royal Navy tradition of commanding a ship at the same time.
What I liked the most about this book was the view of Halifax and Canada from an outsider’s perspective as well as the inshore U-boat campaign in UK waters in 1944-45.
By 1944, waters around the UK were saturated with shipwrecks and U-boats would use this to their advantage by sitting on the bottom. To combat this accurate charting of wrecks was required coupled with the advent of the electronic navigation system that would later evolve into systems such as Decca, LORAN and Omega. By 1945, navigation was so reliant on electronic navigation that radar fixes were rarely considered unless no signal was available. Never before did I realize just how far navigation evolved during the Second World War.
For those interested in naval history, this work is highly recommended.
ISBN : 1551250756Vanwell Publishing Limited 1 Northrup Crescent PO Box 2131 St Catharines ON L2R 7S2266 Pages
The Canadian Coast toils in relative obscurity, both at home in Canada as well as abroad. Most Canadians imagine their Coast Guard is similar in stature to the US Coast Guard with their military structure, armaments and missions. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Founded in 1962, the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) brought together various government icebreaking, lifesaving and aids to navigation services under one umbrella. The roles and long been the purview of the civil service mariners and it was feared that any new service would impart military customs and discipline. However this never happened and the service ran along a mercantile rank structure with ship officers being Master, Mate and so on.
The CCG had no law enforcement or powers of arrest until the 1995 merger with the Dept of Fisheries fleet.
Under an unwieldy bureaucratic setup, the CCG has always been plagued by lack of centralized control. Each region around the country wields all the power within their district and discourages any cooperation with other regions. This setup lead to the adoption of a number of buoy handling cranes on the Type 1100 icebreaker program, driving up the cost of the ships.
Mr Maginley has done a good job of trying to make sense out of this complex organization and should be commended for his efforts.
Two small errors were noted:
1. Point Atkinson lighthouse is misidentified as Port Atkinson.
2. The civil tug Curb shown in the photo on page 165 was not operating under her former name of USS Curb.
This work is recommended for those wishing a greater understanding of the Canadian Coast Guard.
138 pp., illus., ISBN 1-894263-19-7General Store Publishing House
This work is a recollection, written in the first person, of wartime experiences as a radio officer in the British Merchant Marine.
Mumford does an excellent job recounting having two ships sunk under him. The first involved time in an open lifeboat on the North Atlantic; the second was in the Scheldt Estuary off Belgium later in the war.
Difficulties in his home life hastened Mumford's decision to leave for the Merchant Marine at an early age. His family home was among the last in London to still use an outhouse. The author is to be commended also for admitting to being molested at a local Catholic school as a child.The reader is left with the feeling of being able to visualize the persons Mumford describes. This serves to really give a feel of what it was like to have sailed on the wartime merchant ships.
A few minor errors were missed in the editing process: reference is made to radio watch on 500 KHZ instead of the KCS used at the time; ship's bunker fuel is referred to as crude oil. On page 59 Juanita is misspelled JAUNITA.
Apart from these minor flaws, the book is highly recommended. (DS)
With this book, Richard Mayne has shown that he is one of Canada’s up and coming pre-eminent naval historians. The book is aptly titled “Betrayed Scandal, Politics and Canadian Naval Leadership.
In just over five years, the Royal Canadian Navy went from one of the world’s smallest to the third largest. The strain on both political and uniformed leadership was enormous.
Various political intrigues are detailed with behind the scenes intrigues than can almost be described as Machiavellian in nature. The two leading uniformed figures were Jones and Nelles and most of the prewar regular force officer cadre was beholden to one or the other. These fights eventually led to the ouster of Nelles as Chief of Naval Staff and his replacement by Jones.
At the height of the Battle of the Atlantic in 1942-43, the Royal Canadian Navy was built around the Flower-class corvette. Adapted from the Southern Pride whaler in the UK, the simple to build corvettes were easy to construct in Canadian yards which had previously rarely built anything larger than fishing vessels. However while these ships were being put into service, two things had taken place which pretty much made these ships obsolete - airpower and the Enigma code breaking efforts. The Canadian ships were urgently in need of refit but the navy agonized over the merit of refitting obsolete ships.
Londonderry in Northern Ireland became a major base for Canadian warships but virtually no support was offered to them. Small touches as a Canadian shore staff and recreational pursuits would’ve been wonderful for morale.
These two major issues which directly contributed to the effectiveness or lack thereof for ships of the Royal Canadian Navy were of secondary importance to the political intrigues playing out in Ottawa.
A few minor criticisms of the book are noted:
303 machine gun was misidentified as a .50 caliber
No coverage of the contempt felt for the officers assigned to Fairmiles by other officers
A comparison of the high quality refits of Canadian-manned but UK owned corvettes provided under the US Lend-Lease program in US yards would have been beneficial
Use of ``the` on a consistent basis before ship names is a definite no-no according to David Freeman, author of the authoritative Canadian Warship Names.
These minor points aside, this work is highly recommended for anyone interested in Canadian naval history. I look forward to Mr. Mayne's next work.
Heritage House Publishing of British Columbia has carved out a niche for putting out very readable works of Canadian history. Author of this particular effort is Anthony Dalton, who has previously written works on sailing and adventure/searching.
No vessel that sailed the Arctic seas has raised so much speculation or triggered imaginations as has the legendary Hudson’s Bay Company (HBC) cargo steamer Baychimo.
Anthony Dalton digs deep into history to unveil the incredible story of this hardy ship and her sometimes irascible captain, Sydney Cornwell. In doing so, Dalton also brings to life the larger story of the community of northern traders, hunters and sailors of which Baychimo was a part .
In the 1920s, the crew of Baychimo set up trading posts in eastern Canada , sailed on fur-trading expeditions to Siberia during the turbulent years of the Russian civil war and made dangerous annual voyages around Alaska to Canada ’s western Arctic coast, shouldering her way through ice floes to resupply the HBC’s remote trading posts.
Baychimo’s history has a remarkable twist. In 1931, she became trapped in an ice floe that refused to let go. Expecting her to sink at any moment, her crew abandoned ship. But Baychimo was as stubborn as the ice, and she floated away unharmed to begin what would prove to be the longest phase of her seemingly charmed career. For the next four decades she would appear unexpectedly on the horizons of unpredicted places. Always defiantly upright and afloat, Baychimo became known as the Arctic ghost ship.
Shipmasters of today often complain about being under the thumb of their head office. This book relates how things were no different in the 1920s even though the constant orders and instructions were delivered by Morse Code instead of satellite.
A few small problems with the text however did crop up:
On page 87 the writer implies that navigating by dead reckoning is impossible in fog. Without modern electronics, that is about all you can do in fog.
The writer is also denoting distances over water in kilometers which makes no sense. Distances over water are based on nautical miles and is the basis of the whole system of latitude and longitude for the last several hundred years.
In addition, Saint John NB is misspelled as St John.
However, apart from these small errors, the book is eminently readable and makes a good yarn.
Michael Blaugher of Fort Wayne IN has been self-publishing a series of aircraft museum guides and is now at the 22nd Edition.
The book contains information on:
1192 USA & 125 Canadian Aircraft Museums
249 Aircraft in City Parks
59 Restaurants with Aircraft
62 US Naval Ship Museums
26 Places that offer rides in aircraft
38 WWII Landmarks
9100 Aircraft Listed Alphabetically
For aviation enthusiasts, this book is a handy tool which can easily fit into a vehicle's glove compartment. The only major drawback is the small size of the print which may require a magnifying glass for readers with poor eyesight. (DS)
Monday, August 3, 2009
On June 17, 1958, Vancouver experienced the worst industrial accident in its history when the new bridge being built across Burrard Inlet collapsed into the flooding tidal waters of Second Narrows, killing eighteen workers. Photos of the two broken spans tilted into the sea went around the world and provided the city with one of its iconic historical images, still familiar to school children half a century later. The shocking thing was that the bridge was not an old, decrepit structure, but a new one just in the midst of being erected with all the support and security modern engineering could provide. That somebody had made a colossal error seemed obvious, but it would take a Royal Commission to discover how and why. Even then, some mysteries will never be solved.Tragedy at Second Narrows unravels one of Vancouver's great mysteries with all the appeal of a gripping detective novel. Eric Jamieson has returned to the scene of the tragedy and reconstructed the tragic event with scrupulous care, introducing the entire cast of politicians, construction bosses, engineers and ironworkers; he relives those terrifying moments when the structure began to crack and drop like the bottom was falling out of the world. In the end, readers will have learned about the fascinating world of big-time bridge building and will be left with a searingly clear picture of precisely how a great disaster took shape and plunged to its inevitable conclusion.
Although this event happened before I was born, I was fascinated to read this account. Jamieson has done a good job of allowing the reader to feel they know the characters which is truly the mark of a good writer.
The book clearly shows the state of public infrastructure explosion in 1950s British Columbia with highway construction and public works project being undertaken to support the rapidly growing provincial economy.
In the early 1950s Vancouver's North Shore was serviced by the Lions Gate Bridge, a ferry service operated by the City of North Vancouver operating between the North foot of Main St in just west of the CNR ocean terminal in Vancouver to the foot of Lonsdale in North Vancouver and a road alongside the rail tracks over the Second Narrows Bridge. The toll authority operating the Lions Gate Bridge felt a second crossing would be beneficial as the Lions Gate Bridge was congested. Options studied included a second Lions Gate Bridge, a crossing from Queensbury Avenue in North Vancouver to Nanaimo Street in Vancouver, a Second Narrows highway bridge and most interesting of all - closing Second Narrows and creating a system of lochs and piers. Although the latter idea was first proposed in 1911, it was never really abandoned until the 1950s.
Finally after a number of years of back and fort between civic, provincial and federal political officials, a construction contract was awarded to Dominion Bridge for a six lane highway bridge with tolls to connect to the new Trans Canada Highway still under construction.
Dominion Bridge employed only two engineers on the job site, one an experienced bridge builder and his assistant an engineering neophyte from Australia. In fact it was a calculation with data from an incorrect table (remember no laptop computers in the 1950s!) by the young Australian signed off by the senior engineer that lead to tragic results. Both were killed in the subsequent tragedy.
The collapse on June 17, 1958 as mentioned above highlights one of the coldest corporate moves I have ever come across. At the exact minute of the collapse, which killed 18, Dominion Bridge cut off the hourly pay of the ironworkers, painters and others working on the new bridge. While most of the survivors were in the water fighting for their lives, they were doing so on their own time. How callous is that?
Congratulations to Mr Jamieson on a fine work and I certainly look forward to reading his next work.