A sturdy, often affecting memoir of service on and off an American
submarine in WW II's Pacific theater. A retired vice admiral and
sometime superintendent of the Naval Academy, Calvert recalls
joining the USS Jack as a newly married ensign almost fresh out of
Annapolis. On its maiden voyage in the waters off Tokyo, the Jack
sent at least four Japanese cargo vessels to the bottom despite
severe engine damage from an escort's attack. Power-plant woes
forced the Jack to cut short its second war patrol. By early 1944,
however, a complete refit equipped the ship for battle in the South
China Sea; in this target-rich venue, it sank six more enemy craft,
including four oil tankers. The Jack went on to compile a record
that placed it ninth on the list of the 200-odd US submarines
operating against Japan (in terms of tonnage sunk). In addition to
engagements with hostile forces, Calvert had to survive a moral
crisis. On the first of his shore leaves Down Under he fell deeply
in love with the daughter of a local doctor. They eventually
decided it would not be right to continue the unconsummated affair
at the cost of the author's marriage. Calvert narrates this brief,
bittersweet encounter with a sure touch that suggests not quite all
is fair in love and war. When two atomic blasts (for which he
remains perdurably grateful) accelerated the arrival of V-J day,
the war-weary author was on his eighth patrol as executive officer
of a new sub, the Haddo. After he and his shipmates escaped
courtsmartial for an unauthorized tour of defeated Japan's capital
city, they were homeward bound, in Calvert's case, to continue his
military career in a putatively peaceful world. A standout in a
genre notable for first-rate entries. (Kirkus Reviews)
"The boat was eerily quiet and hot as an oven. Shirts came off and men were either in skivvy shirts or bare from the waist up. Every body glistened with sweat—some from the heat and some from just raw fear. Click . . . BANG! Click . . . BANG! Two more [depth charges], still very close. A couple of lightbulbs shattered. . . ."
In this riveting personal account, an authentic American hero relives the perils and triumphs of eight harrowing patrols aboard one of America's most successful World War II submarines. Courageous deeds and terror-filled moments—as well as the endless hard work of maintaining and operating a combat sub—are vividly recalled in James Calvert's candid portrait. From rigorous training and shakedown cruises off the coast of New England, to tense patrols within shouting distance of Japan's major cities, the progress of the newly commissioned USS Jack parallels Calvert's own growth from callow ensign to charter member of one of the sharpest attack teams in the fleet.
In June 1943, the Jack made its first patrol into Japanese waters, and Calvert began to build a reputation as a crack TDC operator—the crew member who set the torpedo's course based on the approach officer's readings. With Calvert at the TDC and his much admired skipper Tommy Dykers at the periscope, the Jack had five hits and four confirmed kills on its first patrol. The Jack's fame grew. Despite recurring engine trouble, and the notorious failure of American torpedo detonators early in the war, the sub continued to take its toll on enemy shipping. At one point, Calvert hit an enemy vessel at 5,000 yards, roughly three times the maximum distance recommended for accurate torpedo shooting. The ship earned its nickname, "Jack the Pack," when a besieged Japanese admiral radioed for help, saying that he was under attack by a "wolf pack."
Telling his story with sensitivity and great affection for his shipmates, Calvert combines an intimate knowledge of the nitty-gritty technical details of submarine warfare with the fast-paced action and nail-biting tension of a Tom Clancy novel. He relives long and terrifying hours spent hundreds of feet beneath the ocean's surface, punctuated by the relentless click-BANG of exploding depth charges. He recounts the perilous nighttime cat-and-mouse games that Dykers played with convoy escorts, accompanied on the bridge by a crewman renowned for his night vision—and the disconcerting habit of singing "Nearer My God to Thee" whenever the situation got tense. And a lively account of a completely unauthorized tour of Tokyo before the official surrender recalls an escapade that nearly cost Calvert his career.
Advance praise for Jim Calvert's Silent Running
"I am just one of many who experienced life on a submarine during World War II. Silent Running is a story sincerely told—free of any revisionism or cynicism—and I commend Vice Admiral Calvert for sharing this dramatic personal account of that difficult and exciting time." —President George Bush
"Hardened old sub vet that I am, I still felt the need for two weeks R&R after reliving Jim's only too realistic war patrolling adventures." —C. W. Nimitz, Jr., Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.)
"I believe it is the best personal account yet written on U.S. submarine operations in the Second World War. . . . [Calvert] writes with lucidity and a rare candor. We get an extraordinary sense of what it was like, feeling the tensions and emotions, sharing the successes and disappointments.
. . . This is a true story with real people, always gripping and sometimes tender. It is exciting to read and hard to put down. —J. L. Holloway, Admiral, USN (Ret.) President, Naval Historical Society Chief of Naval Operations, 1974-1978
"I knew Jim Calvert throughout the war, and in this book he has told the submarine story in a way that catches the flavor and tang of the real thing. This is the way it really was." —Frederick B. Warder, Rear Admiral, USN (Ret.) Legendary WWII skipper of the Seawolf
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