The Korean War was a watershed in the 20th century history of the United States Navy. During that conflict and for the next fifty years, U.S. naval forces conducted operations that maintained control of the world's oceans and brought sea power to bear against enemies ashore. Freed by friendly control of the sea from the threat of hostile fleets, American carrier squadrons, shore bombardment ships, and amphibious units engaged North Korean and Chinese Communist forces on the Korean peninsula. Navy and Marine Corps aviation units executed the majority of UN close air support missions in the war, shot down numerous Communist MIG aircraft, and disrupted the enemy's resupply and reinforcement efforts. Fleet amphibious forces turned the tide of battle in 1950 at Inchon and threatened the enemy's vulnerable coastal flanks for the rest of the war. The Seventh Fleet ensured that American ground forces got the men and supplies they needed to fight and win far from American shores. The Korean War experience helped the Navy fight more effectively during the later conflict in Southeast Asia and elsewhere.
The Korean War was also America's first "limited war" of the modern age. Naval leaders had to learn how to carry on the battle when all-out victory was not the national objective, constrain their use of naval power, and maintain the morale and fighting strength of their sailors year after bloody year. The men who led the fleet gained valuable insight into the political-military ("talk-fight") approach followed by their Communist Cold War adversaries. Sailors of all ranks came to understand that the worldwide effort to help threatened peoples defend their freedom against Marxist-Leninist attack would be long, often frustrating, and costly.
For these reasons, and to mark the 50th anniversary of the Korean War, the Naval Historical Center decided to make available once again James A. Field's comprehensive history, History of United States Naval Operations: Korea, first released in 1962 but no longer in print. No work published to date contains as much detail on U.S. naval operations during the conflict. Based on a wealth of primary source material, including previously classified action reports, staff studies, official correspondence, message traffic, and personal observations, the Field book should be the starting point for anyone wishing to investigate the naval conduct of the Korean War.
To improve the history for today's readers, the tables have been updated by adding ship hull numbers, supplying the full names of officers, and providing the meaning of abbreviations. The maps accompanying the text can be enlarged and printed full size by clicking on them. Images from the web site's Online Library of Photographic Images have been added and linked to other related photographs of the Korean War.
The search engine for the Center's web site provides full indexing of the text and tables, and will also help the reader locate related information on the web site.
The online edition was prepared by members of the Naval Historical Center's Web Site Committee, headed by Kathleen M. Lloyd, who coordinated the project and verified the accuracy of the electronic text. Individual members of the committee deserve special recognition for their efforts. Carolyn M. Stallings designed the web site presentation and adapted the version scanned by Jeff Perrell and PH1 Cheryl Sterk, USNR, of the Center's Information Management Branch. Glenn Helm and volunteers Allen Overmeyer and Gerald R. Orvis proofread much of the manuscript. Jesse Rankin proofread chapters and conducted original research to update the tables. The photographs were prepared by Chuck Haberlein from the existing Korean War images in the Photographic Section's Online Photographic Library.
Also deserving special mention are Dr. William S. Dudley, the Director of Naval History, who enthusiastically supported the project from its inception, and other staff members of the Naval Historical Center who contributed directly or indirectly to this release of James Field's masterful History of United States Naval Operations: Korea.
|EDWARD J. MAROLDA
Naval Historical Center