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Recapturing the Interwar Navy's Strategic Magic

Lieutenant Commander Joel Holwitt, USN

(Note: Reprinted from Naval History with permission; Copyright © (2017) U.S. Naval Institute / The submitted essay was titled, "Recapturing the Strategic Magic of the Interwar Navy.")

Our 21st-century Navy finds itself in troubled waters. As Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Admiral John Richardson wrote in the 2016 “Design for Maintaining Maritime Superiority,” the United States is once again in an era of great power competition against a renewed Russian threat and a growing Chinese hegemon. U.S. forces are stretched thin, and the budget is sparse.

We may be in troubled waters, but they are also familiar. The two-ocean threat, tight fiscal environment, and drawn down fleet are reminiscent of the conditions the Navy faced during the years between World Wars I and II. Despite being constrained by the Great Depression and treaty limitations, the interwar Navy used war games, a senior officer think tank, and annual fleet exercises to develop far-sighted strategic plans and pursue technological advances that allowed the United States to win a two-ocean war against German U-boats and the Imperial Japanese Navy.

Before attempting to graft the “lessons” of that period onto our own, we need to recognize the differences between the interwar Navy and today’s service. While there are many distinctions, two changes merit particular attention. First, we altered the officer career path, along with the use of senior admirals, in a way that has diminished U.S. organizational knowledge with regard to strategy. In addition, we have increasingly built a sophisticated Navy that requires highly trained and skilled sailors, and it cannot be readily expanded in a crisis. Without addressing these differences from the past, we cannot achieve the same strategic success that our predecessors accomplished.

A Crucial Time

There is a popular narrative that the interwar Navy was led by “battleship” admirals who ignored or rejected the potential of aerial and submarine warfare, thus causing the service to be unready for World War II.1 This narrative is contrary to the strategic, operational, and materiel preparations the Navy actually made during the interwar period. If anything, the developments of the interwar service were crucial to the U.S. victory in the Pacific war.

It started with strategic preparations. Three decades of war gaming at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island, generated a war plan codenamed Orange, a three year campaign plan that assumed Japan would start a war without warning and take the Philippines. War Plan Orange called for a massive buildup of U.S. forces and eventually an island-hopping campaign that would end in the encirclement and defeat of Japan. This war game was very much a prescription for what actually happened from 1941 to 1945, with only a few major changes, such as unrestricted submarine warfare, carrier task forces, and the atomic bomb.2

The Navy jumped from the war game floor at Newport to the real world by gathering the fleet to practice aspects of the Orange plans. Called “Fleet Problems,” these annual exercises included almost all components of the fleet, frequently encompassed some sort of joint training with the Army or Marine Corps, and ran for days, if not weeks. The Fleet Problems not only tested the Navy’s assumptions regarding how a naval war would progress, but also served to introduce the capabilities of new technology. The admirals leading the Fleet Problems were remarkably open to discussing performance of the exercises; they conducted extensive debriefs in which senior officers explained operational and tactical dispositions.3

The service also advanced because of the General Board of the Navy, a group of senior admirals who assessed strategy, operations, shipbuilding, personnel, and administrative policies. Supported by substantial hearings and analysis, their recommendations carried great weight with the Secretary of the Navy, the CNO, and the Navy’s bureau chiefs. In many ways, the General Board midwifed the various technical and operational developments required for a Pacific war.4

In short, the 1930s Navy was innovative, willing to take risks, and able to experiment and draw important conclusions that would affect the conduct of real-world conflict. In addition, the personnel who led the wartime Navy were in place well before conflict began. Admirals such as Chester W. Nimitz, Ernest J. King, Raymond Spruance, and William Halsey had already assumed high levels of responsibility and command before the war.5 Once it started, there was no large-scale purging of the senior naval leadership, as there was with the U.S. Army in the Civil War.

So if the interwar Navy was such a success story, why should our Navy today not roll back the clock and reinstitute the practices that prepared the service for World War II? Before following such a course, we need to consider what else has changed in the Navy, and whether the supporting elements that enabled the strategic magic of the interwar service remain in place.

A Different Officer Corps

A comparison of today’s officer corps with that of the interwar Navy is instructive. The professional backgrounds of the current cadre are more parochial. These officers have not had the same strategic education. We no longer draw on our served senior admirals to recirculate their experience into the junior ranks. And because we no longer use a General Board, strategic thinking is carried out by relatively junior officers or civilian think tanks.

Before World War II, every naval officer was also a sailor. No one reported straight to Submarine School or Flight School without first having served a probationary period, normally two years, in the surface fleet. This provided a common formative experience and outlook for all naval officers.6 The fleet centric perspective provided officers in these communities with a strategic rationale: to support the fleet. In the case of submarines, for instance, the submarine force consciously chose to develop “fleet submarines” that were meant to scout ahead and find the enemy.7 Although the role of fleet submarines expanded greatly upon the outbreak of war, a fleet-centered mentality remained. For instance, before the Battle of the Philippine Sea, the USS Seahorse (SS-304) made contact with the Japanese fleet. The Seahorse’s commanding officer, Slade D. Cutter, the second-top U.S. submarine ace of the war, doggedly maintained track on the enemy, sending out a stream of contact reports that helped Spruance arrange his forces before the battle. A former battleship sailor, Cutter later stated that he felt his determined pursuit, during which he shot no torpedoes, had been more significant than the 19 Japanese ships he sank on other occasions.8

The practice of all officers serving initially in surface ships also allowed officers to transition back and forth between submarines or aviation and the surface Navy, something that the U.S. master of amphibious warfare, Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, exemplified when he transitioned back from 12 years in naval aviation to surface warfare.9 Similarly, Fleet Admiral Nimitz and Admiral Thomas C. Hart had remained intimately involved with submarines while also commanding various surface forces.10 Officers could specialize, but the Navy expected that they would continue to interact with the rest of the fleet at a moment’s notice.

The crisis of World War II necessarily changed this prewar career path: To meet the demands of the swiftly expanding submarine force and naval aviation, the Navy commenced direct accessions into those warfare communities. After World War II, the Cold War’s need to maintain those large communities, without interruption, led to the continuance of direct accessions.11 Consequently, some naval officers are no longer sailors first; in fact, some may never go to sea on board ships.

Not only did the beginning of a naval officer’s trajectory change, but so did the entire career path. Before World War II, most naval officers were in the Navy for a full career, lasting from their early 20s through their 60s. This reflected careers throughout the nation as a whole at the time; it was rare for a person to jump between paths, as is the norm today. The Navy built a flexible but paced 40-year career path around this life of service that included in-residence stops at the Naval War College and other mind-broadening tours.12 A review of the careers of World War II naval leaders reveals that they were marked by a variety of experiences as well as by in-depth study at the Naval War College. Nimitz, for instance, not only served in submarines, but also helped improve diesel engines; helped develop at-sea refueling; stood up a Naval Reserve Officer Training Corps unit at the University of California, Berkeley; commanded a heavy cruiser in the Asiatic Fleet; and attended the Naval War College.

These leaders also served past 30 years before they pinned on the rank of rear admiral: King at 32 years and Nimitz and Spruance at 33 years after their Naval Academy graduations.13 The path that permitted officers such as Nimitz, King, Spruance, and Halsey to branch out and diversify was replaced during the Cold War by a career trajectory that is less flexible, more frenetic, and tied to a 20-year metric that seeks to push as many officers as possible through command and to the rank of captain. Consequently, this 20-year career jams in and front-loads more intensive operational tours at the expense of the broadening and experiential tours. The curriculum at the Naval War College and other institutions of professional military education also became more compressed and less broadening.14

The beginning and middle of the average naval officer’s career path has changed; so too has the end for our senior officers. For example, both Admirals William S. Sims and Spruance, probably the two most critically acclaimed U.S. naval leaders of World Wars I and II, chose to finish their service as president of the U.S. Naval War College. In Sims’ case, he accepted reversion to his permanent two-star rank to return to Newport. While both officers were certainly exceptional, they were not exceptions in this regard. Before World War II, it was common for officers to hold a four star command, such as Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Fleet, and then report to a subordinate billet for their final tours. This practice had the effect of recycling high command experiences and outlooks into service schools or other commands. The curriculum changes that Sims made, for instance, are credited with turning out high-caliber naval strategists such as Nimitz, King, and Spruance.15

One destination for senior admirals at the end of their careers was the General Board. The senior admirals were recycled there brought to the role experience, time for reflection, and independence. Whenever the CNO faced a particularly thorny question, such as whether the United States should pursue unrestricted submarine warfare in the event of conflict, he passed the question to the General Board for review. In short, the board was the CNO’s Strategic Studies Group long before the concept of think tanks became vogue. However, following World War II, the General Board was subsumed within the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OpNav) staff. The thinking that was once done by the General Board is now carried out by relatively junior officers working directly for the CNO or by external think tanks.16

Personnel-wise, today’s Navy is vastly different from the 1930s service that led the way through World War II. The Navy we have today owes very much to choices that were made during World War II and the subsequent decades of the Cold War. Those choices arguably did much to win the Cold War, but they also may have also contributed to a deficit of postwar strategic thought.

A Swiss Watch Navy

In terms of technology, the Navy has fundamentally changed. Advances have resulted in complex warships that require highly skilled sailors and technicians, as well as more officers and more seniority to command. The technological advances have also led to shrinkage of available shipbuilders.

During the interwar period and well into World War II, most ships and airplanes were comparable in complexity to automobiles and farm tractors. Given the proliferation of autos and mechanized farms throughout the prewar United States, this worked greatly to the advantage of Americans called up to fight in the war, who were as comfortable fixing the steam turbines of a destroyer, the diesel engines of a submarine, or airplane engines as they were with fixing their own cars.17 Similarly, the officers sent to command these sailors did not need to be engineering experts. All officers were expected to be engineers, but the knowledge required was grounded in hands-on mechanics, not the more in-depth fields of nuclear engineering, information technology systems, and electrical engineering, all required of today’s nuclear-trained officers, information warriors, and others. At the turn of the century, Nimitz was assigned to command a small destroyer as an ensign recently graduated from the Naval Academy—which highlights the simplicity and ruggedness of the ship he commanded.18

Today, warships and planes are so advanced that they require far more expertise, experience, and civilian contractor support. This has had a consequent impact on manning, schools, and numbers of officers. Sailors no longer enlist with the technical skills that could see them through much of their duties. For nuclear-trained operators, it takes more than two years of schools and on-the-job training to turn out a fully qualified junior mechanic or technician. The contemporary demand for information technology specialists has yet to be matched by the supply of trained sailors. Other technical rates, such as those of sonar technician and aviation electronics technician, require similar extensive training. And we would not dream of sending an ensign to command one of these highly advanced warships. A full commander commands the littoral combat ship, the small combatant of today’s Navy, analogous to Nimitz’s first destroyer.

With the growing sophistication of warships has come a concurrent specialization of a select group of shipyards. During World War II, civilian shipyards such as Manitowoc in Wisconsin could be retooled and retrained to build submarines.19 Today we are limited to a small group of experienced yards, such as Bath Iron Works, Newport News, and Electric Boat for new construction, and to naval shipyards in Norfolk, Portsmouth, Pearl Harbor, and Washington state for availabilities. This has created a bottleneck, evidenced by a growing backlog in construction and much-needed maintenance availabilities.20

To sum up, today’s Navy is a “Swiss watch” navy. It is highly advanced and highly specialized, and it requires years of investment, training, construction, and maintenance, none of which can be easily replaced or expanded. During World War II, this description would have more aptly fit that of the Axis militaries. The intricacies of Tiger tanks and Messerschmitt jet fighters and the irreplaceability of the Japanese aviation mechanics lost at Midway were all factors that greatly contributed to the Axis defeat in World War II. The U.S. military, by contrast, relied on mass-produced, highly rugged and robust equipment, whether the Fletcher (DD-445)-class destroyer, the Liberty ship, the Sherman tank, the P-51 fighter, or the Jeep.21

A Swiss watch navy, as World War II Germans and Japanese can attest, is not rapidly expansible. In 1940, Admiral Harold R. Stark went to Congress and convinced legislators to approve the Two-Ocean Navy Act, which increased the size of the Navy by 70 percent and subsequently resulted in the Essex (CV-9)-class aircraft carriers, Fletcher-class destroyers, Gato (SS-212)-class submarines, and far more, all of which were built by 1944.22 Today it seems doubtful that the CNO could request a similar fleet buildup from Congress and then see it achieved within the next four years. Even if we could build the ships, we could not man them with the required number of technicians and mechanics without a massive mobilization and training effort.

Melding the Past with the Present

The Navy is not the same as it was 80 years ago, and it is not going to be again. Following World War II, the Navy spent 70 years changing personnel, training, and shipbuilding processes. While some changes were shortsightedly implemented by hubris and idiosyncratic personalities, others filled a genuine need during the Cold War.23 Consequently, we cannot simply turn back the clock to the 1930s. Any changes we make should be thoughtful, understanding of how and why the Navy operated the way it did in the past, and knowledgeable about what has changed.

Importantly, we need to acknowledge that while taking a page from the interwar period may help with our present threats, it is not a panacea for all of our troubles. Interwar Fleet Problems, for instance, helped create a common experience for operational planning, but they also brought dangerous misperceptions, particularly with regard to submarine and antisubmarine warfare, that took the reality of combat to fix. The General Board may have helped the Navy identify the right ships and weapons for World War II, but it did not identify that the interwar testing regimen for the torpedo magnetic exploder was inadequate, and the subsequent fiasco took almost two years of war to sort out.24 But despite these shortcomings, the interwar Navy got more right than it got wrong; its example is worth studying and implementing.

We can start to emulate some things with little impact on how we already do business. For example, we can recycle senior admirals into tours at institutions where strategic experience and thinking are required, such as the Naval War College. What might a college president such as Admiral James Stavridis, former NATO commander and current dean at the Fletcher School, have been able to do with the Naval War College curriculum?

Among the tours we ask senior admirals to provide today’s Navy before retirement could be a reconstituted General Board of the Navy. The CNO recently eliminated his Strategic Studies Group, noting that its product was not timely enough and that the group used top-running captains who could better serve in other places. Instead of settling for short-fused taskers drafted by relatively junior action officers on the OpNav staff, the CNO could have an independent and internal strategic think tank at the senior level by making better use of some of his fellow flags before they retire to civilian life. The General Board could also serve as a holding pen for admirals who still have great potential, much as Stark used the General Board to keep then–Rear Admiral King on active service until he called him up to command the U.S. Atlantic Fleet in 1940.25

The proposals to recycle admirals and reinstate the General Board are meant to help today’s Navy think strategically in the same way it did in the 1930s. But strategic thought has to be developed throughout a career. Simply putting on admirals’ stars does not make one a strategic thinker. To develop strategic admirals, the Navy should select and send promising officers to the Naval War College for in residence study to build a cadre of strategic commanders and captains, much as the Naval War College prepared Halsey, Nimitz, Spruance, and other mid-ranking officers during the interwar period. To this end, the curriculum at the Naval War College should be adjusted to maximize the growth of strategic thought, with far less emphasis on operational planning or tactics.

In terms of longer-term changes, we need to reevaluate career paths and start to look at new tracks that will incentivize and reward longer careers in the naval service, similar to the paths that provided the Navy admirals who planned and won World War II. This is particularly relevant in the aftermath of the new blended retirement pay system, which no longer incentivizes the 20-year career as much as did the old retirement system. The time in which we live holds an opportunity for the Navy to offer a less frenetic and more diverse trajectory with greater stability, opportunities for graduate education, and room for strategic growth in return for a greater commitment in years of service by potential future admirals.

These initial steps can lay the groundwork for a renaissance of U.S. naval strategy, as maritime leaders confront the great contemporary challenges. During the interwar period, the problem was how to execute a transpacific campaign with no bases from which to refuel and no promise of allies. Today, the challenge is how to take our Swiss watch navy and prepare it to fight a prolonged two-ocean war against peer adversaries who are improving and building up their navies at breathtaking rates. For guidance, we should look to both the past and the future. We cannot turn back the clock to the 1930s, and we cannot cherry-pick what we like from the past. But by modeling our personnel development on the practices that proved successful in the interwar period, we may very well be able to recapture some of the strategic magic that prepared the Navy for World War II.


1 Ian W. Toll, Pacific Crucible: War at Sea in the Pacific, 1941–1942 (New York: W. W. Norton, 2012), xxxiv–xxxv.

2 Edward S. Miller, War Plan Orange: The U.S. Strategy to Defeat Japan, 1897–1945 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1991), 21–38, 28–38, 363–69. See also Michael Vlahos, The Blue Sword: The Naval War College and the American Mission, 1919–1941, U.S. Naval War College Historical Monograph Series, No. 4 (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 1980), 118, 163; and John B. Hattendorf, “Saving Nimitz’s Graybook,” Naval History, vol. 28, no. 3 (June 2014), 48–51.

3 The Fleet Problems are extensively studied in Albert A. Nofi, To Train the Fleet for War: The U.S. Navy Fleet Problems, 1923–1940, U.S. Naval War College Historical Monograph Series, No. 18 (Newport: Naval War College Press, 2010). See also Craig C. Felker, Testing American Sea Power: U.S. Navy Strategic Exercises, 1923–1940 (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2007).

4 William M. McBride, Technological Change and the United States Navy, 1865–1945 (Baltimore, MD: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 2000), 47. See also Jarvis Butler, “The General Board of the Navy,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 56, no. 8 (August 1930), 700–5; and John T. Kuehn, Agents of Innovation: The General Board and the Design of the Fleet That Defeated the Japanese Navy (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2008), 8–22, 178; and John T. Kuehn, “Revive the General Board of the Navy,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 136, no. 10 (October 2010), 66–71.

5 E. B. Potter, Nimitz (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1976), 165–72. See also Thomas B. Buell, Master of Sea Power: A Biography of Fleet Admiral Ernest J. King (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1980), xxxv–xxxviii; and Buell, The Quiet Warrior: A Biography of Admiral Raymond A. Spruance (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1987), xxxv–xxxvi.

6 Mark R. Hagerott, “Commanding Men and Machines: Admiralship, Technology, and Ideology in the 20th Century U.S. Navy” (Ph.D. diss., University of Maryland, 2008), 87–97.

7 One of the first, if not the first, elucidations of the fleet submarine rationale can be seen in the “Minutes of the Tenth Meeting of the Advisory Committee,” 6 January 1922, 438-1 1921–22, Box 170, Subject File 438-1, General Board, Subject File 1900–1947, General Records of the Department of the Navy, Record Group 80, National Archives, Washington, DC. For a similar rationale, written by the submarine force commander only three years before the outbreak of the Pacific war, see Rear Admiral C. S. Freeman, Commander Submarine Force, to the Chief of Naval Operations, “Subject: Submarines—Employment of in a Pacific War,” 27 July 1938, 420-15 1938, Box 112, Subject File 420-15, General Board, Subject File 1900–1947, General Records of the Department of the Navy, Record Group 80, National Archives, Washington, DC. See also McBride, Technological Change and the United States Navy, 122–27, 236–37.

8 The Reminiscences of Captain Slade D. Cutter, U.S. Navy (Retired), oral history conducted by Paul Stillwell, 2 vols. (Annapolis, MD: U.S. Naval Institute, 1985), 228.

9 Vice Admiral George Carroll Dyer, U.S. Navy (Retired), The Amphibians Came to Conquer: The Story of Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, 2 vols. (Washington, DC: U.S. Department of the Navy, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1972), 1–151.

10 Potter, Nimitz, 62, 116–72. For Admiral Hart’s repeated transitions between the surface Navy and submarines, see James Leutze, A Different Kind of Victory: A Biography of Admiral Thomas C. Hart (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1981), 57–75, 85–90, 140–51, 229–30.

11 Captain L. Dale Smith, U.S. Navy, “Degrees of Naval Warfare,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 106, no. 12 (December 1980), 28.

12 B. J. Armstrong, “A 96-Year-Old Report Can Teach Us about Velocity in Naval Learning,” War on the Rocks, 9 September 2016, https://warontherocks. com/2016/09/a-96-year-old-report-can-teach-us-about-velocity-in-navallearning/.

13 Potter, Nimitz, 56, 62, 122–29, 134–38, 142–48, 153–61, 165. See also Buell, Master of Sea Power, xxxv–xxxviii. See also Buell, The Quiet Warrior, xxxv–xxxvi.

14 Armstrong, “A 96-Year-Old Report.” See also Admiral James Stavridis and Captain Mark Hagerott, U.S. Navy, “The Heart of an Officer: Joint, Interagency, and International Operations and Navy Career Development,” Naval War College Review, vol. 62, no. 2 (Spring 2009), 30–34. See also Peter D. Haynes, Toward a New Maritime Strategy: American Naval Thinking in the Post-Cold War Era (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2015), 6–8; and Lieutenant Commander Benjamin Armstrong, U.S. Navy, “Fix Navy PME,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 138, no. 7 (July 2012), 12; and Lieutenant Commander Douglas L. Edson, U.S. Navy, “Navy Shortchanges Professional Education,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 128, no. 5 (May 2002), 40–43.

15 John B. Hattendorf, B. Mitchell Simpson, and John R. Wadleigh, Sailors and Scholars: The Centennial History of the U.S. Naval War College (Newport, RI: Naval War College Press, 1984), 112–28, 183–93. See also Buell, The Quiet Warrior, 415–31; Vlahos, The Blue Sword, 58–59; Ryan Peeks, “Temporary Admirals Might Do,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 142, no. 10 (October 2016), 56–59; and Armstrong, “A 96-Year-Old Report.”

16 Butler, “The General Board of the Navy,” 700-705. See also Kuehn, Agents of Innovation, 8-22. See also Kuehn, “Revive the General Board of the Navy,” 66–71. See also Joel Ira Holwitt, “Execute Against Japan”: The U.S. Decision to Conduct Unrestricted Submarine Warfare (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2009), 26, 107.

17 Victor Davis Hanson, The Father of Us All: War and History, Ancient and Modern (New York: Bloomsbury Press, 2010), 142–44.

18 McBride, Technological Change and the U.S. Navy, 8–63. See also Potter, Nimitz, 59–62.

19 Charles A. Lockwood, Sink ’Em All (New York: E. P. Dutton, 1951), 139–40.

20 Mike Petters, “American Shipbuilding: An Industry in Crisis,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 132, no. 2 (February 2006), 15–19. See also Lieutenant Commander Nevin Carr and Lieutenant Commander Mark Seglem, U.S. Navy, “Who Will Build Tomorrow’s Fleet,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 119, no. 1 (January 1993), 32–36; Sydney J. Freedberg Jr., “Half of Shipbuilders ‘1 Contract Away’ From Bust: Stackley,” Breaking Defense, 18 March 2015, http://breakingdefense/com/2015/03/half-of-shipbuilders-1-contract-away-from-bust-stackley/; and Joe Courtney, “Opinion: Navy Build Up Needs Comprehensive Approach,” USNI News, 6 April 2017,

21 Hanson, The Father of Us All, 142–44. See also Jonathan B. Parshall and Anthony P. Tully, Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of The Battle of Midway (Washington, DC.: Potomac Books, 2005), 416–17.

22 B. Mitchell Simpson III, Admiral Harold R. Stark: Architect of Victory,1939–1945 (Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1989), 39–42.

23 Hagerott, “Commanding Men and Machines,” 156–444.

24 Regarding the misconceptions of prewar exercises, see W. J. Holmes, Undersea Victory: The Influence of Submarine Operations on the War in the Pacific (Garden City, NJ: Doubleday, 1966), 47–48. The Royal Navy was similarly lulled into a false sense of security by its faith in sonar and air power. See Holger H. Herwig, “Innovation Ignored: The Submarine Problem, Germany, Britain, and the United States, 1919–1939,” in Military Innovation in the Interwar Period, Williamson Murray and Allan R. Millett, eds. (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1996), 245–48. For the failure to discover the flaws with the American submarine torpedo during the prewar period, see Anthony Newpower, Iron Men and Tin Fish: The Race to Build a Better Torpedo During World War II (Westport, CT.: Praeger Security International, 2006), 22–32, 59–73, 87–111, 131–96.

25 Buell, Master of Sea Power, 127, 571–72. See also Simpson, Admiral Harold R. Stark, 61, 117, 127–29.


Lieutenant Commander Holwitt is the executive officer of USS North Dakota (SSN-784). He is an active duty submarine officer who has served in four fast-attack nuclear submarines. A 2003 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, he earned a Ph.D. in history from Ohio State University. He is the author of Execute Against Japan: The U.S. Decision to Conduct Unrestricted Submarine Warfare (Texas A&M University Press, 2009), as well as other articles and book reviews published in Proceedings, Submarine Review, Journal of Military History, and Naval History.

Published: Tue Apr 23 16:43:53 EDT 2019