In a mad world of boredom and uncertainty, resentment and conflict and normal life as we have known it to be shattered by a sadly muted pandemic and other miseries, it is easy to succumb to the impression that that’s only the worst – and to forget that wise old saying, “I cried because I had no shoes on until I saw a man with no feet.” Yes, maybe we are living in a time that seems stressful, but think back to what people were going through exactly 80 years ago in January: the launch of a general assault by Adolf Hitler’s submarines on the US coast from Newfoundland to the Gulf of Mexico.

Hundreds of ships and thousands of lives have been lost during Paukenschlag– Operation Drumbeat, which would spread terror and wreak havoc in American waters for almost a year. In our cover story for this issue, author Ed Offley takes us back to those dark days of early 1942 and highlights one of the lingering questions of the whole affair: Where was the US Navy? Why did the Commander-in-Chief of the American Fleet, Admiral Ernest J. King, not deploy the resources at his disposal to counter this devastation off the coasts of the country? It remains, to this day, one of the mysteries of history.

As submarines prowled the Atlantic during the first months of the United States’ entry into World War II, in the Pacific a burden of responsibility so deep that it is hard to imagine hung upon shoulders of steel -Looked at Chester W. Nimitz as he arrived at a steaming Pearl Harbor from the devastation caused by the Japanese attack of December 7, 1941. He was head of the Bureau of Navigation when the roll call from President Franklin D. Roosevelt to Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox was said, “Tell Nimitz to get the hell out of Pearl and stay there until the war is won.” Through it all, how did Admiral Nimitz keep his cool? With a safety net of close family friends whose company and hospitality provided him with the essential momentary respites from the madness to maintain his composure. Retired US Navy Captain Michael A. Lilly gives us a rare glimpse into this private side of a great wartime leader.

Nimitz was still settling in this January 1942 when the Navy engaged in its first battle of the Pacific War: the raid on Balikpapan, Borneo, a major oil hub invaded by the Japanese as they swept through the South Pacific. John J. Domagalski presents a new blow-by-blow account of this oft-overlooked US naval engagement in warfare which, although it failed to move the needle strategically, was nonetheless a tactical victory and a crucial stimulus. for the morale of the troops. floats when he needed it.

This February also marks a noteworthy anniversary: ​​the centenary of the signing of the Washington Naval Treaty, which defined the parameters of the fleets of the great powers in the years between WWI and WWII and, as John observes. T. Kuehn, foresees the future generations with “a model for peace”.

At the start of the 20th century, the American fleet boasted of a strange and distinctive innovation: the cage mast. As you will see in the images illustrating JM Caiella’s pioneering article on this fascinating subject, the imposing lattice cage mast was quite a unique sight to see – and in its rise and fall there is a powerful lesson. on how today’s technological advance can be tomorrow’s. irrelevant concept.

Finally, William J. Prom tells of unsung heroes of the War of 1812, when a frenzied naval arms race unfolded in savage shipyards along the US-Canadian borders. The victories of Perry on Lake Erie and Macdonough on Lake Champlain are celebrated in American naval lore, but behind these famous commanders were a brilliant pair of self-taught shipbuilding brothers Noah and Adam Brown. Their production was phenomenal, fast and executed under difficult conditions. Their story inspires us, and we hope it inspires you too!

Eric Mills

Editor-in-chief