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Guarding the crew of U-877

Guarding the crew of U-877


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Guarding the crew of U-877

On 27 December 1944 the corvette HMCS St Thomas sank the U-boat U-877. Here we see members of the Canadian crew guarding the U-boat men.


The Whale Hunt

Cutting off the upper part of a female sperm whale's head (1925). Photo courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum Whale voyages were dirty and dangerous. Injuries and death were not uncommon, and the industry was most kind to ship owners, who took 60-70 percent of the profit.

However, whale products were in demand throughout the 18 th and 19 th centuries. Oil was needed for light and lubrication, while baleen was needed for skirt hoops and corset stays. Seamen from all over the world boarded New Bedford whaleships for work.

Two men stand on the crow's nest scanning for whales. Photo courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum Finding whales
Crewmen would take turns scanning for whales in two-hour shifts, from sunrise to sunset each day. The whaleman would climb up the mast to the "crow's nest," where he would look for whale tails, the spout, or a vapor plume caused by the whale's breath. Two pieces of lumber and a pair of iron hoops were the lookout's only support as he steadied himself 100 feet above the deck.

Under ideal conditions, a lookout might spot a whale eight miles away. It took an experienced seaman to identify the kind of whale it was based on its tail shape, spout location, or size.

The lookout would yell out, "There she blows," to alert the rest of the crew. A mate or captain would call back-and-forth with the lookout to determine the whale's location as precisely as possible. Then, the crew would launch the rowboats. Teams of six would row each whaleboat and chase after the whale. The shipkeepers — usually the cooper (who made and repaired casks), the blacksmith, the carpenter, the cook, and the steward — were left behind to handle the ship.

Raymond McKee on whaleboat, ready to harpoon the whale seen in foreground (1922). Photo courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum

Whale underneath whaleboat, pushing it off water (1922). Photo courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum Catching whales
Whaling was filled with long hours of boredom until the whaleboats were launched and the chase began. The crews raced to reach the whale first, guided by the boatheader (a mate or captain). The men could not simply row fast, however. Whales have acute hearing, so it was important to approach quietly as to not scare them into diving or swimming further away.

As the whaleboat neared the whale, the harpooner would step up. The harpoon, known as a "whale iron," would penetrate the whale's blubber and secure the whale to the whaleboat. The harpoon was not designed to kill the whale. For a four-year voyage, a whaleship would carry 150-200 harpoons. In the late 1800s, the standard harpoon was the Temple toggle iron.

After the harpooner caught the whale, the creature would either dive, turn on the boat, or take off swimming. A rope attached to the harpoon kept the boat near the thrashing whale. The jaws or tail of a 50-ton whale could smash the boat and send crew tumbling into the water. If the whale dove, the crew would let the line run out so as to not be dragged down with it. A seaman caught in the line could be dragged to his death.

If the whale swam away, it would tow the whaleboat behind it. This was called a "Nantucket sleighride." Sperm whales can swim on the surface at more than 20 miles per hour. The crew's goal was to tire out the whale, without being carried too far from the ship and getting lost.

When the whale tired, the crew pulled on the line to draw the boat close to their prey. The boatheader carried a lance forward and plunged it into the whale's heart or lungs. With each breath, the whale spouted blood. The end came when the whale beat the water with its tail, shuddered, and turned over on its side.

Forking blubber into tryworks. Photo courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum Processing the whale
Not all pursuits ended in a whale death. Crews sometimes chased for hours and never got close to their prey. Occasionally, the harpoon would shake loose from the whale, or the whaleboat would be overturned.

After the hours-long whale hunt, the six-person whaleboat crew still had to tow the 50-ton, dead whale back to the whaleship. If the wind was favorable, the whaleship sailed to where the carcass floated in the sea.

Once the crew arrived at the whaleship, the whale would be fastened to the right (starboard) side of the ship with heavy chains. It was important to work fast to prevent sharks from eating too much of the carcass. The crew divided into two watches, each working six-hour shifts day and night until the job was done. The process could take several hours to several days, depending on the size of the whale, the skill of the crew, and the weather.

The crew erected the cutting stage — or wooden platforms — above the carcass. Men then stripped off the blubber, or the thick outermost layer of fat, with cutting spades. They'd cut the blubber into strips that weighed about a ton each. On deck, these blankets would be cut into even smaller pieces.

The crew then boiled the blubber to extract the oil. This "trying out" process was carried out on shore in early whaling days, but by the mid-19 th century, it was done on deck. Big iron pots set in a brick stove, called tryworks, were used to cook the blubber down and extract the oil. The oil would be put in casks and stored in the cargo space at the bottom of the ship. Onshore, it would be strained and bleached, then sold primarily as lamp oil.

Other harvested items included spermaceti, ambergris, and baleen. More information.

John R. Manta's whaleboat, crew at oars. Photo courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum Processing a whale was also dangerous. The deck became so slick with blood and oil that a man could slip overboard to the sharks below. Others were crushed by the enormous weight of strips of blubber or wounded by cutting tools. As the blubber was being rendered in the tryworks, a wave sometimes rocked the ship and splashed scalding oil onto the crew. On rare occasions, the fire in the tryworks spread and devastated the ship. And throughout the days and nights of work, an unforgettable stench clung to the men and their ship.

After the last cask was stowed in the hold, the crew scrubbed and polished until the ship was as clean as it could be. The odor of smoked blubber was never really gone. It was said that a ship downwind could smell a whaleship coming before spotting it.

When the cleanup ended, lookouts were again sent up the mastheads to watch for whales.

Men overboard after whaleboat is stoved (1922). Photo courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum

Life onboard a Whaleship

Two foremast-hands mince whale blubber (1925). Photo courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum
The world of the ship was isolated, highly structured, racially integrated, and, by the mid-1800s, increasingly populated by captains' wives and children who joined on longer voyages.

Though the sea is traditionally understood as romantic landscape, whaling was not a romantic business. In the earliest years of the industry, whalemen were from seafaring communities and were brought up to view the ship as their workplace.

In addition to being dirty and dangerous, whaling was monotonous work. Life onboard consisted of long periods of boredom for weeks, even months, no whales would be seen. The crew would repair gear, write letters, play games and music, and carve scrimshaw — pieces of whale bone or tooth — to pass the time. Food and water would often become foul, and fights would break out among the crew because of the uncomfortable conditions. Men of all ranks and races faced danger from injury, illness, shipwreck, drowning, and piracy.

Whale sightings equated to short bursts of excitement as the men rushed to catch the whale, and then kill and process it.

Ranks on a Whaleship
Depending on the size of a vessel, crews ranged in size from fifteen to forty men. Each man held a role with which came specific tasks. These ranks, arranged in a rigid hierarchy, determined the authority each crew member held.

Captain/Master: Perhaps the term Master was more applicable than captain. This individual had complete control and authority over the whaleship and its operations. As one whaling captain said to his timid crew while on the whaling grounds, “I am God.”

Mates/Officers: These numbered three or four men, descending from the First Mate to the Fourth Mate. Each commanded their own whaleboat, and acted as the captain’s direct supervisors of the rest of the crew.

Boatsteerers/Harpooneers: Three to five crew members rowed the whaleboat and one threw the harpoon, hoping to latch onto the whale. This began the process of the whale hunt. They enjoyed more liberties than the average crew member.

Mechanics: These craftsmen, ranging in jobs from blacksmiths, coopers, carpenters, steward, and the cook, ranked higher than the average crewman. They performed specialized jobs onboard the vessel, and they stayed behind when the crew went out on a hunt to care for the ship.

Foremast Hands/Crewmen: The majority of the crew was made up of foremast hands. They performed daily duties of cleaning the vessel and taking turns on watch. During a hunt, these men rowed the whaleboats to their prospective prey.

Greenhands: These were first timers. Ranking the lowest of all the crew members they had a lot to learn. Most greenhands deserted their vessel before their voyage ended. People in New Bedford use the term “greenhorn” to this day.

Left, A billy-goat aboard a Cape Verdean ship (1928) right, Frank Bradshaw, the cook, peels potatoes (1925). Photos courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum Food on a Whaleship
Whalemen ate and slept according to their rank. The captain ate the best meals and slept in the stateroom deck hands slept in bunks in the forecastle, at the front of the ship.

Fresh food ran out quickly: hungry crewmen ate salted meat, bug-infested hardtack, and beans. Crew constantly caught fresh fish, turtles, seabirds, and dolphin. Everyone looked forward to resupply stops at port, where they could bring on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Whaleships carried goats, as well as cows, hogs, and chickens, to supply the men with fresh milk, eggs, and meat.

The Slop Chest
Whaling was said to be good money — but sailors quickly discovered the truth. They were paid not by a wage, but by a share of profits. A low-ranking sailor might get half a percent of the final take, or profit. The take was determined by the ship’s owner, however, who deducted for the cost of the voyage. Many men got paid in advance, in order to send money home to their families.

Whalemen had to pay a share of the ship’s provisions. Any additional supplies that they needed — bandages, medication, clothing, soap, tobacco — had to be bought from the “slop chest,” or the company store. If whalemen bought too many items or took too many advances, they might exceed their take and end up owing money at the end of a voyage!

The Gomes family aboard a whaleship. Gomes was first mate — his family was visiting the ship before it set off. Photo courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum Diversity Onboard
As New Bedford grew to become the world’s largest whaling port, the workforce was increasingly comprised of men from farming and laboring backgrounds. That included men whose options on shore were limited because of their race or background, and immigrants who often landed in New Bedford aboard vessels they had crewed.

The community found aboard Yankee whaleships was not replicated anywhere else in America in the 19 th century. Men of African ancestry and Native Americans served side-by-side with men whose families had originated in Europe. Pay was based on shipboard position, and opportunities for advancement were largely based on merit and experience.

Women on Whaleships
By the middle of the 19 th century, whale populations had declined. Whaling expeditions grew longer as New Bedford vessels expanded their hunting grounds to the Pacific and Arctic oceans. By 1851, voyages averaged 46 months, which became a hardship on married whalemen.

Although most of the men onboard were young and single, most captains were married. Eventually, vessel owners allowed captains to bring their families with them on long voyages. By 1853, there was a captain’s wife on one in five whaleships from New England. A ship with a woman onboard was often called a “hen frigate.”

Captains could bring their families, but they were expected to reimburse the ship’s owners for provisions and lodging ($1,000 per voyage in 1895). Onboard, women did laundry, cooked, sewed, wrote, and read. The only whaling task women were allowed to do was call out, “There she blows!”

Beyond the walls of the ship, the captains' wives sought company from the wives of other captains in chance meetings at sea. During these "gams," the women would exchange information, books, and presents. Like the whalemen, these women also encountered people, cultural practices, natural phenomena, and animal and plants at exotic locales that most Americans could only read about.

Before whaleships headed into the Arctic or Antarctic, some female mariners would get off at resupply ports such as the Hawaiian archipelago or southwest coast of Australia. Among others like themselves, they attempted to recreate their New England world with Protestant churches, missionary activities, and shore communities.

Deck awash (1931). Photo courtesy: New Bedford Whaling Museum

Guarding the crew of U-877 - History

Naval War College Review Summer 1999

Guarding the Cold War Ramparts
The U.S. Navy’s Role in Continental Air Defense

H OMELAND DEFENSE WAS PUSHED to the top of the national security agenda when in August 1998 North Korea’s flight test of its Taep’o- dong 1 ballistic missile sparked a renewed debate over national missile defense. The Navy has become embroiled in that debate because its theater ballistic missile defense programs could provide a foundation for developing a sea-based national missile defense. It is seldom remembered that the Navy in the recent past took on a significant homeland defense mission—continental air defense. The Navy excelled at the continental air defense mission but found it difficult to reconcile with its other missions of sea control, power projection, and forward presence. That experience is worth examining as we contemplate our role in national defense today.

The Cold War took a serious turn for the worse in 1954. During the early postwar years, the United States had been able to rely on superior military technology, particularly its sole possession of nuclear weapons, to counter the huge Soviet armies threatening Western Europe. The United States possessed an arsenal of long-range bombers and carrier-based naval aircraft capable of delivering nuclear weapons against the Soviet Union. The Soviets had exploded their first atomic device in 1949, but they lacked credible delivery systems to threaten the United States directly. In 1954, however, American superiority in delivery systems appeared to disappear almost overnight.

On 15 February 1954, Aviation Week published a sensational article describing powerful new Soviet bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons at intercontinental ranges. 1 This and subsequent revelations over the next year and a half ignited a firestorm of controversy over alleged Soviet superiority in long-range bombers, dubbed the “bomber gap.” 2 The U.S. Air Force, adhering to its doctrine of offensive air power, reacted to widespread concern about Soviet air power by pressing for accelerated production of the new B-52 bomber, but it also reluctantly endorsed calls for expanded air defense forces.

The first postwar American air defense efforts had been launched in 1948, in response to the Berlin blockade and early Soviet displays of their bombers, but with limited funding and largely obsolete equipment. This initial system covered only the northeastern United States the Seattle and Hanford, Washington, area (Hanford being critical for atomic weapon production and within range of Soviet bombers) and the Albuquerque and Los Alamos, New Mexico, area (Los Alamos was involved in atomic weapon research and development). This initial system was expanded into an air defense system called L ASHUP that also covered California, the upper Middle West, and the Tennessee Valley (where there were Atomic Energy Commission facilities critical to the atomic weapons program). From 1949 to 1954, L ASHUP included early warning patrols by Navy radar picket destroyer escorts and PB-1W and PO-1W airborne early warning aircraft to guard the seaward approaches to the northeastern United States. Interest in bolstering the air defenses of the continental United States intensified after the Soviet nuclear test in 1949, and even before L ASHUP became operational in 1950, studies had begun on a system to defend the entire continental United States. The first air surveillance radar system covering the entire northern approach to the United States—the “Pine Tree Line,” stretching across southern Canada—became operational in 1951, but it was viewed as insufficient, because it provided inadequate warning time of a Soviet attack. Early warning patrols by Navy ships and aircraft off the northeastern United States continued after the Pine Tree Line was established.

Growing concern over the inadequacy of U.S. air defenses and the vulnerability of strategic air bases in the United States to attack by Soviet bombers led the Air Force in 1951 to initiate a study of air defense technology, designated Project L INCOLN , because it was led by the Lincoln Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)—the center of radar development during World War II. In the summer of 1952, a special assessment of the overall U.S. air defense system was conducted that brought together Project L INCOLN scientists with analysts from other research centers. The L INCOLN summer study recommended a crash program to build a line of early warning radars across northern Canada. The armed services, especially the Air Force, were reluctant to endorse such an ambitious project, due to its cost its demands would compete with other budget priorities at a time when newly elected President Dwight Eisenhower was making clear his intent to hold the line on defense spending. Nevertheless, the Eisenhower administration quickly initiated a program, known as “Project 572,” to build the Distant Early Warning Line. The DEW Line was completed across Alaska in 1953 and across northern Canada in 1956 it was declared fully operational in 1957. 3

Much more than early warning radar, however, was needed to improve continental air defense. The Army, Navy and Air Force all had air defense forces, but there was no coordination among them and no overall plan for defending the nation’s airspace. To provide centralized command and control of air defense efforts, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) was established on 1 September 1954. Headquartered at Ent Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colorado, CONAD was a joint command, reporting directly to the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The commander of the Air Force Air Defense Command was “dual hatted” as the commander in chief of CONAD (CINCCONAD) . As the DEW Line extended across Canada between 1954 and 1956, it became clear that close coordination of American and Canadian air defense forces would be needed to engage effectively Soviet bombers penetrating North American airspace. Agreement was reached in August 1957, after lengthy negotiations, and the North American Air Defense Command (NORAD) was officially established on 12 September. CINCCONAD now gained an additional title as commander in chief of NORAD . 4

The U.S. Navy’s Role in Continental Air Defense

The Navy had gained significant experience in air defense during World War II. In the battles of Coral Sea and Midway and in several other engagements, the Navy had learned hard lessons on how to defend carrier task forces. These lessons had led to important developments in air search radar, combat direction systems, and air-intercept-control procedures. The Navy’s bitter experience with Japanese kamikaze suicide planes late in the war had generated intense interest in the development of radar systems for long-range detection of low-flying aircraft. The Navy had deployed radar picket destroyers late in the war but had concluded that airborne surveillance platforms were necessary for extended detection ranges. 5

In 1944, the Navy launched the first program for the development of airborne early warning radar and aircraft, thereby taking the lead in this vital technology. Lincoln Laboratory (then known as the Radiation Laboratory), working closely with the Naval Research Laboratory at Naval Air Station Anacostia in Washington, D.C., developed an airborne radar and a radio link to transmit radar video to displays in a ship’s combat information center (CIC). This system was installed in TBM torpedo bombers (designated the TBM-3W, the W standing for airborne early warning). By the time flight trials began in January 1945, however, the Navy had concluded that the video link did not permit the TBM-3W to operate at the ranges from its carrier task force necessary for early warning. The solution was to place the CIC in the aircraft. Commander Lucien F. “Red” Dodson proposed mounting the APS-20 , a one-megawatt air search radar, in a large, long-range, land-based aircraft. Commander Dodson was placed in command of Patrol Bomber Squadron 101 (VPB 101) , based at Naval Air Station Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, and development efforts began, using two Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress test beds already in the Navy inventory. 6

For its first land-based airborne early warning aircraft, the Navy in 1945 purchased twenty new B-17G s and modified each to the PB-1W configuration by sealing shut its bomb bay, removing the armament, and mounting an APS-20 air search radar in a large dome beneath the fuselage. The first PB-1 Ws were delivered to VPB 101 in the spring of 1946 the Navy was to purchase a total of thirty-one. The PB-1W was a delight to fly, being much lighter than the original B-17G, but its lack of cabin pressurization made it cold and uncomfortable for the men operating the radar and tracking systems. In late 1946 VPB 101 was moved to Naval Air Station Quonset Point, Rhode Island, and redesignated Airborne Early Warning Development Squadron Four (VX 4). VX 4 moved from Quonset Point to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, in July 1948 “Pax River,” as it was commonly known, became the center of Navy airborne early warning for the next seventeen years. Lessons learned from flying the PB-1W were applied to development of the Lockheed PO-1W (a redesigned Lockheed 749 Constellation airliner later designated WV-1), which first flew in 1949, and to the highly successful Lockheed WV-2 (based on the famous L-1049G Super Constellation), which was first delivered to the Navy in 1954. 7

When the mission of defending America’s seaward flanks against Soviet long-range bombers arose, the Navy was ready with combat-proven radar picket ships, state-of-the-art airborne early warning aircraft, and significant air defense experience. Additionally, the Navy was already conducting surface and airborne radar surveillance patrols. A number of radar picket destroyer escorts (DERs)—World War II–vintage destroyer escorts brought out of “mothballs” and modernized with SPS-6 and SPS-8 air search radars—had been conducting limited radar picket patrols off the East Coast of the United States since 1951, extending radar coverage beyond the eastern end of the Pine Tree Line. VX 4 had been flying airborne early warning patrols with PB-1W s since 1946 and with PO-1W s since 1949. 8

Although the Navy had the systems and expertise to do the job right, Admiral John J. Hyland, who commanded the Atlantic barrier forces from December 1959 to September 1960, has indicated that the Navy was reluctant to accept the barrier patrol mission:

When the concept was first suggested, the Navy disagreed in the Joint Staff that it was essential. But when it became clear that someone was going to do it and it really was a chore over the sea, the Navy decided that it would be better to do it themselves rather than for some other service to do it. That’s how the Navy got the job. 9

The primary reason for the Navy’s reluctance to assume the barrier patrol mission was the cost of operating and maintaining the forces that would be required. This concern was borne out by the eleven years the barriers were operational. Continual funding constraints made it difficult to devote sufficient resources to the mission. 10

The Navy began detailed operational planning in 1953 for air surveillance radar patrols off the Atlantic and Pacific coasts, using land-based aircraft and radar picket ships reporting to Air Force air defense control centers ashore. A system of two radar barriers was established in September 1954 to guard the Atlantic and Pacific flanks of the United States. The Inshore Barrier consisted of Air Force ground-based air surveillance radars established along the Atlantic seaboard and mounted on three “Texas Towers” off the coast of New England, and of Air Force EC-121 airborne early warning aircraft, derived from the Navy WV-2. The offshore barriers—known as the Atlantic and Pacific Contiguous Barriers—were the Navy’s responsibility. Although CONAD had requested that the Navy fill a total of nineteen radar picket stations, the Navy was able to fill only ten—five on each coast—due to funding constraints. 11 In November 1960 the Navy recommended that the Pacific Contiguous Barrier be disestablished, but NORAD disagreed, and the Joint Chiefs directed that it remain in operation. 12

To provide centralized direction to the Navy effort, Commander Naval Forces CONAD (COMNAVFORCONAD) was established on 1 September 1954, at Ent Air Force Base. The first COMNAVFORCONAD had a staff of about forty-five personnel. Under him were three Navy commands supporting the major CONAD regions: Commander Naval Forces ( COMNAVFOR ) Eastern CONAD Region, COMNAVFOR Central CONAD Region, and COMNAVFOR Western CONAD Region. COMNAVFORCONAD coordinated the assignment and scheduling of Navy forces assigned to the air defense mission—radar picket ships, airborne early warning aircraft and airships, and fighter aircraft—but they were under the operational control of CONAD regional operations centers (ROCs). 13

The Navy also placed jet fighters under Air Force control for continental air defense. VF(AW) 3, based at Naval Air Station North Island in San Diego, California, was placed under Air Force operational control in December 1955. This was the only Navy squadron permanently under Air Force operational control for air defense, and it twice won Air Defense Command’s best-unit award. VF(AW) 3 primarily protected the seaward approaches to southern California, but from 1961 to 1963 it also deployed a detachment to Key West to augment air defenses in southern Florida. Also, Navy carrier-based jet fighters (operating out of their home air stations ashore) were available to augment continental air defense forces in an emergency. In 1957, for example, an average of 1,200 Navy fighters were reported as being available to COMNAVFORCONAD for this mission. During the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, VF 41, flying the brand-new F-4H Phantom II fighter, deployed to Key West under Air Force control to augment air defense forces for southern Florida. 14

As the Inshore and Contiguous Barriers were becoming operational, the need for a third radar barrier farther out to sea as an extension of the DEW Line was recognized. Detailed planning for the Atlantic and Pacific extensions of the DEW Line began in 1955. The Atlantic Barrier became operational in 1956 and the Pacific Barrier in 1958. 15

The Atlantic Barriers

The Atlantic Contiguous Barrier stretched along the East Coast from Cape Cod to North Carolina. The barrier consisted of five radar picket stations (Stations 12, 14, 16, 18, and 20) about three hundred nautical miles off the coast. Originally, each picket station reported to a separate East Coast Air Force base air defense direction center (ADDC) , but over the years the Air Force reorganized its air defense forces. From 1959 onward, Stations 12 and 14 reported to the ADDC at Otis Air Force Base in Massachusetts, and Stations 16, 18, and 20 reported to the ADDC at Cape Charles Air Force Base in Virginia. 16

The radar picket stations on the Contiguous Barrier were, as noted, originally patrolled by DERs. The DERs were withdrawn on 31 March 1960 in favor of radar picket ships (AGRs), which had been converted from Liberty-type cargo vessels between 1957 and 1959.

For almost two years, beginning in late 1954, WV-2 airborne early warning aircraft, which were just entering the Navy inventory, supplemented the DERs on the Contiguous Barrier. In mid-1956 these highly capable aircraft were shifted to more demanding duties on the newly established North Atlantic barrier. ZPG-2W and ZPG-3W airborne early warning airships flying out of Naval Air Station Lakehurst, New Jersey, were another part of the Navy air defense effort from 1954 to 1962. Assigned to the Inshore Barrier, they provided radar coverage in the area between the DERs on the Contiguous Barrier and the ground-based radars of the Inshore Barrier. 17

The Atlantic extension of the DEW Line was designated the Atlantic Barrier, and Commander Barrier Force Atlantic (COMBARFORLANT) was established in July 1955 to control the ships and aircraft that would patrol it. COMBARFORLANT headquarters was located at U.S. Naval Station Argentia, Newfoundland, Canada, one of the bases acquired by the United States in 1941 under the Lend-Lease deal with the United Kingdom. COMBARFORLANT , designated Commander Task Force 82 (CTF 82) in the CINCLANTFLT task organization, also served as Commander AEW Wing Atlantic ( COM - AEWINGLANT ), providing the planes that conducted the airborne early warning patrols. 18

Testing of the Atlantic Barrier began in 1956. That summer USS Strickland (DER 333) made the first radar picket patrol, and WV-2s began airborne early warning patrols. The Atlantic Barrier, which officially became operational on 2 July 1957, consisted of four radar picket stations at 250-nautical-mile intervals from Newfoundland to the Azores. Four WV-2s were kept in the air at all times conducting airborne early warning patrols. (Budget cuts later reduced the number of planes on patrol at any one time to two.) All air contacts detected by the DERs or WV-2s were reported to COMBARFORLANT for evaluation, which consisted of comparing the contact’s track with the flight plans of civil aircraft expected to be in the area. Any electronic emissions that could be correlated with the contact were also used to help identify it. Unidentified air contacts were passed on to NORAD headquarters for further evaluation and a decision whether or not to scramble fighters to intercept it. 19

Fidel Castro’s seizure of power in 1959 soon raised new security issues for the United States. As Castro established closer relations with the Soviet Union, including extensive military cooperation, concerns arose that Soviet aircraft could threaten the United States from bases in Cuba. In April 1961, in the aftermath of the aborted invasion of Cuba at the Bay of Pigs, the Joint Chiefs of Staff directed NORAD to execute Operation S OUTHERN T IP , which established a radar picket station to monitor the airspace between Cuba and southern Florida. 20

The S OUTHERN T IP station of the Atlantic Contiguous Barrier was located about a hundred nautical miles east of Key West, eighty nautical miles south of Miami, and ninety miles from the coast of Cuba. Both DERs and AGRs were used to patrol the S OUTHERN T IP station, which was well positioned to detect air contacts heading northward from Cuba toward Florida. Unidentified air contacts were reported to the CONAD Control Center Key West, Florida, code named “Brownstone.” 21

In mid-1961, additional Air Force long-range radar stations became operational, extending the eastern end of the DEW Line across Greenland. This covered a portion of the approaches being guarded by the Atlantic Barrier, but there was still a gap between the DEW Line and Nato’s Allied Command Europe Early Warning System, the western end of which was in Scotland. The better to utilize the Navy barrier patrol forces, plans were made to disestablish the Atlantic Barrier on 1 July 1961 and replace it with a Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom (GIUK) Early Warning Barrier. To control the new GIUK Barrier, COMBARFORLANT , at this time Rear Admiral Robert N. Moore, shifted his headquarters from Argentia to Keflavik, Iceland. Admiral Moore gave up command of AEWINGLANT in the move but gained additional responsibilities as Commander Iceland Defense Force and as Commander Nato Fleet Air Wing North Atlantic Sub-Area. A few days before the GIUK Barrier was to become operational, however, the Air Force notified the Navy that its new radar stations in Greenland were not ready and that the Atlantic Barrier would have to remain in operation for another month. This caused pandemonium, as deployments to Keflavik were nearly complete, but the new COMAEWINGLANT was able to pull together sufficient resources to patrol the Atlantic Barrier for another month. Finally, on 1 August 1961, the GIUK Barrier became operational. 22

From Keflavik, COMBARFORLANT controlled two airborne early warning patrol stations and two surface radar picket stations. The two airborne stations, one to the west and one to the east of Iceland, were patrolled by Navy WV-2s flying out of Keflavik. The airborne patrol in the Greenland-Iceland gap was filled about 70 percent of the time, at random intervals the airborne patrol in the Iceland-U.K. gap was filled all the time. The two surface radar picket stations were located similarly, one to the west and one to the east of Iceland. Air contacts were reported to the COMBARFORLANT Operations Control Center for evaluation, and unidentified contacts were passed on to NORAD . WV-2 crews would also debrief at the Operations Control Center after each flight. In addition to patrolling the GIUK Barrier, the forces assigned to COM- BARFORLANT participated in Navy, NORAD , and Nato exercises. COMBARFORLANT forces also supported the International Ice Patrol and frequently participated in search and rescue missions in the North Atlantic. 23

The WV-2s were originally assigned to VW 11 and VW 15, both commissioned in 1955. Based at Patuxent River with the Airborne Early Warning Training Unit Atlantic, these two squadrons flew Contiguous Barrier patrols in 1955 and 1956. When testing of the Atlantic Barrier began in July 1956, the two squadrons began operating out of Argentia, which was much closer to the barrier. 24 The airborne early warning squadrons were very large, consisting of about five hundred enlisted personnel and a hundred officers. Each squadron had twelve complete flight crews of twenty-six men each. The remaining personnel provided maintenance and support on the ground. During the early 1960s, the Airborne Early Warning Training Unit Atlantic also supported the Project M ERCURY Recovery Forces (Task Force 140), flying search missions out of Lajes in the Azores and Kindley Air Force Base in Bermuda. 25

From August 1961 onward, COMAEWINGLANT was also designated Commander Argentia Barrier Group (COMBARARGENTIA) , an operational commander reporting to COMBARFORLANT . Navy contingency plans designated COMBARARGENTIA to command the Argentia Sub-Air Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) Barrier, consisting of submarines and maritime patrol aircraft, should it be activated during a period of increased threat to the United States. (This barrier was in fact activated during the Cuban missile crisis of 1962, but no Soviet submarines attempted to penetrate it.) COMBARARGENTIA aircraft also participated regularly in Navy and joint exercises along the Atlantic seaboard, including the annual NORAD S KY S HIELD air defense exercises. 26

The Pacific Barriers

The Pacific Contiguous Barrier stretched from Washington to central California. The barrier consisted of five radar picket stations, Stations 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, about three hundred nautical miles off the coast. As on the East Coast, each picket station originally reported to an ADDC , but reporting assignments changed over the years with Air Force reorganizations. From 1959 on, Stations 1 and 3 reported to the ADDC at McChord Air Force Base in Washington, Stations 5 and 7 reported to the ADDC at Hamilton Air Force Base in northern California, and Station 9 reported to the ADDC at Norton Air Force Base in southern California. 27

As on the Atlantic coast, the radar picket stations on the Pacific Contiguous Barrier were originally patrolled by DERs, the first DER patrol being made in 1955. The DERs began to withdraw from the Pacific Contiguous Barrier in June 1958 the last one departed in April 1959, leaving those picket stations to AGRs. Navy WV-2s also patrolled the Contiguous Barrier, until assigned to the Pacific DEW Line extension in 1957. 28

The Pacific extension of the DEW Line, known as the Pacific Barrier, was initially established for training and testing on 1 July 1957, with only one and a half WV-2 patrols per day (and no DERs) on station. The Pacific Barrier became fully operational on 1 July 1958, originally along an arc from Midway Island in the central Pacific to Kodiak in the Aleutians. Due to the barrier’s length, WV-2s patrolled the southern portion and DERs patrolled the north. There were five DER radar picket stations at two-hundred-nautical-mile intervals, with the northernmost station about sixty miles southwest of Kodiak. The WV-2 patrols overlapped the two southern DER stations. In April 1959 the northern end of the barrier was shifted westward from Kodiak to Umnak Island, due to improved Air Force ground radar coverage in the eastern Aleutians. Commander Barrier Force Pacific (COMBARFORPAC) , at Barbers Point, Hawaii, commanded the ships and aircraft assigned to the Pacific Barrier. All air contacts detected by the DERs or WV-2s were reported to COMBARFORPAC for evaluation (comparison with civil aircraft flight plans and correlation with electronic intercepts). Unidentified air contacts were passed on to NORAD headquarters for further evaluation and a decision whether or not to scramble fighters. 29

The first surface radar picket patrol on the Pacific Barrier was made by USS Vance (DER 387) in July 1958. Initially only three DERs were on station at a time, but by 1959 there were five DERs continually on patrol. The nine DERs of Escort Squadron 7 (CORTRON 7) patrolled the barrier from 1958 to 1960, when the squadron was disestablished. Seven DERs of CORTRON 5 transferred from Seattle to Pearl Harbor between June 1958 and April 1959, participating in barrier patrols through 1965. 30

When operational planning for airborne early warning patrols began in 1953, the Navy had one airborne early warning squadron in the Pacific: VW 1, based at Barbers Point and operating a detachment out of Naval Air Station Sangley Point, in the Philippines. VW 1 was primarily a training squadron for WV-1 (and later WV-2) crews, but it also supported fleet operations in the Pacific. VW 1 participated in initial testing of the Pacific Barrier in 1956 and 1957, then transferred to Naval Air Station Agana, on Guam, when additional airborne early warning squadrons arrived at Barbers Point.

Commander Airborne Early Warning Wing Pacific (COMAEWINGPAC) , at Barbers Point, was established in January 1956. Over the next eleven months VW 12, VW 14, and VW 16 became operational at Barbers Point to patrol the Pacific Barrier. In 1961, VW 12 and VW 14 were merged into Airborne Early Warning Barrier Squadron Pacific (AEWBARRONPAC) , which patrolled the barrier through 1965. Four or five WV-2s were on patrol at all times flying out of Barbers Point, they would refuel at Midway Island before commencing their barrier patrols. From 1961, AEWBARRONPAC maintained a forward detachment on Midway, close to the southern end of the barrier. 31

Aircraft and Airships

The Lockheed WV-2—with its distinctive aerodynamic fuselage, wingtip tanks, three vertical stabilizers, and four piston engines—was officially nicknamed the Warning Star, but the Navy crews who flew it called it the “Willie Victor.” Originally the PO-2W , it was redesignated WV-2 in 1954 and EC-121K in 1962. The WV-2 had a length of some 116 feet, a wingspan of 123 feet, and a maximum gross weight of 70 tons. It had a maximum speed of 285 knots and a range of 3,850 miles. The WV-2 had two large radomes, one below the fuselage containing an APS-20 air search radar with a range of about 250 nautical miles, and one above the fuselage containing an APS-45 height-finding radar. Contact information from the radars and extensive electronic surveillance gear was fed into the plane’s combat information center (CIC) for display on plotting boards and a dead-reckoning tracer. 32

On the Atlantic Barrier, the WV-2s flew a two-hundred-mile-wide racetrack pattern between Newfoundland and the Azores, at an altitude of from five to twenty thousand feet, depending on the weather. A plane was launched every four hours for a patrol flight lasting about twelve hours. To ensure that a scheduled takeoff was not missed, a primary backup WV-2 was kept ready to launch in fifteen minutes, and a secondary backup in half an hour. The Willie Victor was one of the most demanding propeller-driven aircraft to maintain its complex electrical and hydraulic systems required constant attention. According to Admiral Hyland, COMBARFORLANT in 1959㫔, it took about nine WV-2s to keep one in the air. The Navy had purchased 142 of these planes. 33

Argentia was infamous for its bleak weather—often foggy, rainy, or stormy—but Willie Victor pilots took great pride in their ability to get the big birds into the air. If they could see far enough to taxi to the end of the runway, they took off. The weather over the North Atlantic was no better, demanding excellent flying skills and a dogged determination to complete the mission. When the visibility at Argentia fell “below minimums,” divert airfields were available at Stevensville Air Force Base and the civilian airports at Gander and St. John’s, all in Newfoundland. When the weather at Argentia was absolutely too bad to fly, Willie Victors would stage out of Lajes in the Azores, offering the aircrews a warm and sunny respite from Argentia. 34

After the GIUK Barrier replaced the Atlantic Barrier, WV-2s would deploy to Keflavik for two weeks, typically logging about a hundred flight hours each during seven or eight arduous barrier patrols. They returned to Argentia for four weeks of aircraft maintenance, crew rest, and training. The weather in Keflavik was no better than in Argentia, but the pilots were well trained in foul-weather operations and rarely missed a mission for that reason. When conditions at Keflavik fell below minimums, the Willie Victors normally diverted to Prestwick, Scotland. 35 Captain John J. Coonan, commanding officer of VW 11 in 1962㫗, has described a unique advantage that Keflavik had for coping with the foul winter weather.

In spite of the atrocious weather conditions that existed in that northern region, the surveillance flights were essentially routine. The conditions that existed during the winter months injected major difficulties. . . . I do believe that the actual maintenance of the aircraft, the pre- and post-flight checks, the taxiing, takeoffs and landings were so greatly influenced by the unique hangars from which we operated that the item deserves mention. Why is this so? Well, unlike any flight operations that I have ever been associated with, we were able to board our aircraft and turn up the aircraft’s engines inside the hangar, then taxi for takeoff and repeat this process in reverse—all without getting our feet wet or cold. This certainly immeasurably aided us in meeting our flight schedule. We could receive our taxi and flight clearances while still in the hangar and then move out without delay and get airborne—before our aircraft’s wings could be seriously endangered by an accumulation of ice. Only occasionally were we required to come back to the hangar for deicing treatment prior to takeoff. 36

On an airborne early warning mission the WV-2 carried a total of twenty-seven men: a patrol plane commander and two pilots two Naval Aviation Observer (Navigation) officers as navigators and two Naval Aviation Observer (Controller) officers as CIC officers two flight engineers twelve air controlmen (of the AC rating) to operate radars, plot contacts in CIC, and control intercept aircraft two electronic warfare systems operators and two radio operators and two electronics technicians (ATs) to service radars and radios. The complement of each aircraft was divided into two crews, which rotated every three to four hours within each crew, radar and sensor operators were rotated every forty-five minutes to keep them alert. The CIC team tracked and attempted to identify air and surface contacts, and it could control fighters to intercept potentially hostile aircraft. The primary means of reporting contacts was high-frequency (HF) manual Morse radio. The WV-2 also had HF and ultrahigh-frequency (UHF) voice radio for communications with shore stations, aircraft (including interceptors under their control), and ships (particularly the DERs in picket stations on the barriers). Electronic intelligence collection was an important collateral mission on every flight. 37

Barrier patrol flights lasted twelve hours, and they were, in Admiral Hyland’s words, usually “boring, tiring, and repetitive.” 38 Hyland describes the challenge that tedium presented:

The major difficulty with this assignment was keeping an alert attitude and morale up during such a routine operation—back and forth, back and forth. I used competitive exercises, running unannounced tests, and various schemes of one sort or another to establish that the barrier was, in fact, alert and effective. And in all cases when these tests were run, it was very gratifying to see that these youngsters were on the ball. 39

To ensure the proficiency of the CIC teams, the squadrons periodically sent highly experienced personnel along to evaluate them. COMBARFORLANT presented an Outstanding Crew Award every six months and a Meritorious Squadron Award annually. 40

On the GIUK Barrier Patrol, WV-2 electronic surveillance led to occasional detections of Soviet submarines attempting to penetrate the Greenland-Iceland gap by skirting the edge of the Greenland ice pack. For this reason, beginning in 1963 the WV-2s were fitted by the Martin Corporation with a sonobuoy launcher and Jezebel-type sonobuoy receiver, which gave them a modest ASW capability. The launcher was mounted in the cabin by the after crew hatch. To launch sonobuoys, the hatch had to be opened, a safety net put up, and the launcher swung into place—an awkward process in the best of weather. 41

Willie Victors were supplemented by the ZPG-2W and ZPG-3W blimps of Airship Airborne Early Warning Squadron 1 (ZW 1), flying out of Lakehurst. The airships normally patrolled Station 6 of the Atlantic Inshore Barrier, off the northeast coast of New Jersey, every other day. Like the WV-2s, the airships were equipped with a complete CIC, including radar operators and air intercept controllers. 42

The Navy had purchased five nonrigid airships from Goodyear in 1954 for the airborne early warning mission. Originally ZP2N-1Ws , they were redesignated ZPG-2W in 1954 and EZ-1B in 1962. The ZPG-2W was equipped with an APS-20 air search radar inside the gas envelope and an APS-69 height-finding radar mounted on top of it. It carried a crew of twenty-one and had an endurance of over two hundred hours. In 1956, the Navy ordered four ZPG-3W ( EZ-1C as of 1962) airships from Goodyear they began flying barrier patrols from Lakehurst in December 1959. Slightly larger than its predecessor, the 404-foot-long ZPG-3W was the last airship delivered to the Navy. 43

The airship patrol was hampered from its inception by limited funding, which restricted flight hours and the availability of aircraft for air intercept controller training. At one point ZW 1 was restricted to a hundred flight hours per month, a paltry amount considering a single airship’s endurance. In July 1959, CINCNORAD requested that the Navy move ZW 1 to San Diego to provide better radar coverage for southern California, but the Navy declined, due to the absence of airship facilities in San Diego and lack of funds to construct them. In June 1960 a ZPG-3W crashed when the gas envelope collapsed in flight, and on 31 October 1961 the Navy’s last airship units were decommissioned. Two ZPG-3Ws that had been kept at Lakehurst for research were retired when the Navy terminated its airship program on 31 August 1962. 44

Among the fighters available to respond to unidentified barrier contacts were the Navy aircraft of VF(AW) 3 , an all-weather interceptor squadron based at North Island. VF(AW) 3 flew the Douglas F3D-1 Skyknight from 1955, when the squadron was first placed under Air Force control, until 1959. The F3D, the Navy’s first all-weather jet interceptor, had entered operational service in 1951 and by the mid-1950s was rapidly approaching obsolescence. In 1957 VF(AW) 3 began transitioning to the Douglas F4D Skyray, receiving its first six that year. When the transition was complete, the squadron had twenty-five F4Ds. These Ed Heinemann–designed fighters were intended to operate as very fast, short-range interceptors. 45

Assigned to the Air Force’s 27th Air Division at Norton Air Force Base in San Bernardino, the F4Ds of VF(AW) 3 were controlled by the Air Force early warning radar site on Mount Laguna, code named “Anderson.” In the late 1950s the squadron averaged one or two actual scrambles and two or three training scrambles per day. VF(AW) 3 consistently outperformed Air Force interceptor squadrons in scramble time and intercept effectiveness. The squadron also maintained an excellent safety record and superb aircraft-readiness rates—benefiting from the proximity of the Douglas factory, about a hundred miles away, and a first-rate factory representative. Although frequent scrambles added some excitement, one F4D pilot with VF(AW) 3 in the early 1960s described the squadron’s existence as “a somewhat boring life of intercepting errant airliners,” a life made fun and interesting only by the antics of the outstanding pilots. The air defense mission gave VF(AW) 3 appeal with the public, although residents near North Island were wont to complain about the noise of F4D afterburners. 46

When unidentified air contacts were detected approaching the southern California coast, “Anderson” would sound the scramble alarm at North Island. With afterburners blazing, a pair of delta-winged F4Ds would thunder into the sky, rattling the windows of homes in Coronado. VF(AW) 3 routinely got a pair of F4Ds into the air three minutes after the klaxon sounded. In an emergency, all twenty-five F4Ds could be in the air in less than two hours. Vectored to within thirty miles of the contact by Mount Laguna, F4Ds completed intercepts using their onboard radar, attempting to identify the contact without its being aware of their presence. 47

Fidel Castro’s embrace of the Soviet Union and his military buildup created a new mission for VF(AW) 3 . In 1961 it began deploying a detachment of six F4Ds to Naval Air Station Boca Chica in Key West to augment air defenses in southern Florida and familiarize pilots with operations between Florida and Cuban airspace. VF(AW) 3 planes operated under Air Force control while in Key West as well. In January 1962, responding to Soviet delivery of MiG-21 jet fighters to Cuba, CONAD increased the readiness of the VF(AW) 3 Key West detachment to four F4Ds on five-minute alert at all times. The deployments lasted eight weeks and were popular with the pilots. 48 When on 14 October 1962 an Air Force U-2 photographed Soviet medium-range ballistic missiles in Cuba, launching the Cuban missile crisis, VF(AW) 3 had eight F4Ds in Key West. 49

Radar Picket Ships

The Navy had learned, as we have noted, the value of radar picket ships during the last year of World War II, when destroyers equipped with air search radars had provided invaluable early warning of Japanese air attacks. Fast, heavily armed destroyers had been needed to escort the attack carrier task groups, which were always the first to sail in harm’s way, but smaller, more economical ships could be used as radar pickets for slower amphibious and replenishment groups. Design studies for the radar picket destroyer escort (DER) were begun in the last year of the war. Seven Buckley-class destroyer escorts (DEs) were converted to DERs in 1945, but by 1947 six had been decommissioned and the seventh relegated to reserve training duties. Although they were in commission for only a short time during the war, these ships had proved the radar picket destroyer escort to be an efficient and effective type. 50

The Navy decided it needed DERs again in 1949, when it was tasked to guard the seaward approaches to the northeastern United States as part of the limited L ASHUP air defense system established in 1948. Rather than recommission the Buckley-class DERs, whose World War II–vintage electronics suites were now obsolete, the Navy decided to convert mothballed Edsall-class DEs, whose diesel engines gave them twice the endurance of the steam-powered Buckleys. The Edsall class had originally been commissioned in 1943㫄 and placed in mothballs after the war. Six of these DEs were recommissioned and converted to DERs between February 1951 and June 1952 the first was USS Harveson (DER 316), on 12 February 1951. Homeported in Newport, Rhode Island, these were the only DERs available to patrol the Contiguous Barriers when they were established in 1954. Responding to the greatly expanded air defense mission, the Navy converted twenty-eight more Edsalls and two DEs of the John C. Butler class to DERs between January 1955 and December 1957. By 1957, thirty-six DERs were in commission. 51

The Edsall DER conversion consisted of adding an SPS-6 long-range air search radar, an SPS-8 height-finding radar, an SPS-4 surface search radar modified for “zenith search” (directly above the ship), IFF (identification friend or foe) equipment, an aircraft homing beacon, electronic surveillance systems, and additional communications. Later upgrades replaced the SPS-6 air search radar with the SPS-12 , thereafter the SPS-28 the SPS-8 height-finding radar with the improved SPS-8B the SPS-4 surface and zenith search radar with the SPS-10 surface search radar and the aircraft homing beacon with TACAN (tactical air navigation). The Edsall DERs carried a crew of 150 men, and their diesel engines gave them tremendous endurance, an operating range of 11,500 nautical miles at eleven knots. The design was not without problems: the DERs were crowded, difficult to steer at speeds below eight knots, and had very little reserve buoyancy (for stability in a flooded condition). However, these limitations did not detract from the outstanding operational performance of the DERs, which provided significant capability in an economical package. 52

The two John C. Butler–class DERs, USS Wagner (DER 539) and USS Vandivier (DER 540), were commissioned to test a plan for converting mothballed Butler-class DEs—over seventy of which were available—to DERs in the event of wartime mobilization. They were about the same size as the Edsall class and were reequipped with similar radar and electronics. The major difference between the two classes was that the Butlers were propelled by steam, limiting their endurance to 5,500 nautical miles at twelve knots. For this reason they were the first DERs to be decommissioned, in 1960. 53

The DERs were organized into four escort squadrons, two on each coast. In the Atlantic Fleet, CORTRONs 16 and 18 were homeported in Newport. They patrolled the Atlantic Contiguous Barrier from 1954 until relieved of that duty by the AGRs in the late 1950s. These DERs patrolled the Atlantic Barrier from July 1956 until July 1961, and the GIUK Barrier from August 1961 to September 1965. They also patrolled the S OUTHERN T IP station from April 1961 to June 1965. A total of twenty-two DERs served in the Atlantic, although the maximum number in Newport at any one time peaked at nineteen, in July 1957. Atlantic Fleet DER strength declined to seventeen in 1957, due to transfers to the Pacific Fleet, and it remained at that level for almost three years. The next decline occurred in 1960, when nine Newport DERs were decommissioned as part of Navywide cost cutting. In January 1962, the remaining eight DERs were consolidated into CORTRON 16, and CORTRON 18 was disestablished.

The first four DERs to join the Pacific Fleet arrived in July through November 1955. They were assigned to CORTRON 5, homeported in Seattle, Washington, and patrolled the Pacific Contiguous Barrier. Subsequent additions raised CORTRON 5 to a high of nine DERs, in 1957. The first two DERs to be homeported in Pearl Harbor arrived in June 1957 by the spring of 1958, there were ten DERs there. Assigned to CORTRON 7, their mission was to patrol the Pacific Barrier when it became operational in July 1958. Between June 1958 and April 1959, CORTRON 5 and seven of its DERs were transferred to Pearl Harbor for the Pacific Barrier, and AGRs took over Contiguous Barrier patrols. This raised the number of DERs in Pearl Harbor to its peak, seventeen. In 1960, six Pearl Harbor DERs were decommissioned, one was transferred to Guam, and one was transferred to San Francisco to serve as a training ship. CORTRON 7 was disestablished in 1960, and the remaining nine DERs went to CORT- RON 5. 54

DER employment patterns varied widely between the barriers. Atlantic Barrier patrols lasted three to four weeks, with ships on the northern stations making stops in Argentia for fuel. GIUK Barrier patrols were from two to four months in length. DERs en route to and from the GIUK Barrier often stopped in Argentia for fuel they maintained a cycle of about two weeks on patrol followed by about two weeks in Greenock, Scotland, for upkeep, stores, and fuel. S OUTHERN T IP patrols varied widely in length. Sometimes DERs would transit directly to Cay Sal Bank for a two-week patrol and then steam straight back to Newport others would operate out of Key West for up to three months, mixing S OUTHERN T IP patrols with other duties and making recreational port visits to Fort Lauderdale and Miami, which were popular with the crews. Pacific Barrier patrols normally lasted about six weeks but could last as long as two months. DERs on the Pacific Barrier regularly stopped at Midway for fuel before heading north to their patrol stations, and they made stops in Alaskan ports for fuel, supplies, and crew rest. 55

The DERs in the radar picket stations performed several functions. Their primary mission was early warning of air contacts approaching the North American continent COMBARFORLANT awarded the Constant Vigilance Award semiannually for outstanding operational proficiency on Atlantic Barrier and GIUK Barrier patrols. The second mission of the barrier ships was surface and antisubmarine surveillance. In the Atlantic, surface and submarine contacts were reported to Commander ASW Force Atlantic, in Norfolk, Virginia. The radar pickets also reported weather conditions at their stations, provided navigational aid to civilian airliners, and assisted in search and rescue efforts. Ships on the S OUTHERN T IP station routinely encountered Cuban refugees, providing them with water, food, and fuel when they needed assistance and occasionally rescuing them from foundering craft. 56

Barrier patrols were lonely and wearing. Admiral Hyland has said of the DERs on the Atlantic Barrier, “It was those people in the seaborne part of the barrier that really had some rough weather to go through. In the middle of winter in the North Atlantic, there isn’t a more difficult or unpleasant place to be.” 57 In February 1962, while patrolling the GIUK Barrier, USS Roy O. Hale (DER 336) was caught in a fierce storm that injured thirteen crewmen, two seriously, destroyed the forward three-inch gun mount and the hedgehog (ASW rocket-propelled depth charge) launcher, tore away the motor whaleboat, and severely damaged the bridge. After three weeks in Greenock for repairs, Roy O. Hale resumed patrol duties. The weather on the Pacific Barrier was little better, particularly in winter. The DERs did not carry doctors, so crew members suffering medical emergencies beyond the skills of the ships’ enlisted hospital corpsmen had to be evacuated ashore. This was not difficult on the Contiguous Barriers, because U.S. ports were fairly close. On the Atlantic and GIUK Barriers, it meant evacuating personnel (by helicopter when available and weather permitted) to Argentia, Lajes, Keflavik, or other ports on the Pacific Barrier, it normally required evacuation to Adak. 58

Several Atlantic Fleet DERs participated in the 1962 Cuban missile crisis. The S OUTHERN T IP station was manned continuously, with three DERs rotating through that assignment during the crisis. On 22 October, a Navy P-2 Neptune patrol aircraft sighted the Soviet submarine replenishment ship Terek refueling a Soviet Zulu-class submarine about six hundred miles northwest of the Azores. USS Mills (DER 383), en route to Greenock to commence a GIUK Barrier patrol, was diverted on 23 October to trail Terek. Mills was relieved by USS Calcaterra (DER 390) on 1 November. 59 DERs were also assigned to the Florida Strait Patrol (Task Unit 81.6.1), which was established on 23 October to protect Key West military installations and U.S. and friendly shipping from harassment or attacks by Cuban air and surface forces. In the aftermath of the crisis, when there was still great concern about Soviet arms shipments to Cuba, DERs were among the ships tasked to maintain close surveillance of Soviet bloc shipping. They patrolled the Florida Strait during the first six months of 1963. 60

The Guardian-class AGRs were converted from Liberty ships between 1957 and 1959 at the Philadelphia, Norfolk, Portsmouth, and Charleston Naval Shipyards. They were 441 feet in length, displaced 10,750 tons fully loaded, and were the last ships in the Navy to have triple-expansion, reciprocating steam engines. Originally designated YAGRs (ocean radar station ships), they were redesignated AGRs (radar picket ships) in September 1958. Equipped with the large AN/SPS-17 long-range air search radar, height-finding radar, TACAN , electronic surveillance systems, and extensive communications equipment, the AGRs had a crew of from thirteen to twenty officers and 138 to 150 enlisted men, under a lieutenant commander. A large combat information center contained radar repeaters, large vertical plotting boards, and dead-reckoning tracers for tracking contacts and controlling interceptors. Their only armament was two Mark 22 three-inch antiaircraft guns and .50-caliber machine guns. The large size of the AGRs enabled them to offer comfortable accommodations: one or two–officer staterooms, three or four–man chief petty officer compartments, large enlisted berthing spaces, an enlisted dining area that could seat half the crew at a sitting, and ample space for recreational activities. 61

The sixteen AGRs were divided equally between Atlantic and Pacific. Radar Surveillance Squadron 2 (RADRON 2) patrolled the Atlantic Contiguous Barrier and the S OUTHERN T IP station. Originally homeported in Newport, RADRON 2 shifted in September 1958 to Davisville, Rhode Island, on the western side of Narragansett Bay. In the Pacific, Radar Surveillance Squadron 1 (RADRON 1) , based in San Francisco, patrolled the Pacific Contiguous Bar- rier. 62

Atlantic Contiguous Barrier patrols normally lasted three to four weeks Pacific Contiguous Barrier patrols were slightly longer, four to five weeks. Inport periods between patrols were normally three or four weeks long, and the AGRs spent up to two hundred days per year under way. Like the DERs, the AGRs did not carry doctors, so medical emergencies had to be evacuated ashore. U.S. ports were nearby, but the slow speed of the AGRs sometimes delayed arrival within helicopter range of shore. The weather was no better for the AGRs than it was for the DERs. One writer has described the “stark and often ferocious waters” in which the AGRs patrolled:

Bad weather and sea conditions were the rule rather than the exception for the AGRs. The storms of the North Atlantic and North Pacific sometimes brought winds of 70 to 80 knots and seas of 40 to 50 feet in height. In the North Atlantic, the winter season brought temperatures below freezing ocean spray whipping across the ships could, and often did, coat them inches deep in ice. In the spring and early summer, the additional hazard of icebergs and growlers were [sic] often a distinct possibility. 63

When on radar picket patrol, the AGRs operated under CONAD control and reported unidentified air contacts to the air defense direction center designated for their picket station. The AGRs occasionally made radar picket patrols off the east and west coasts of Canada and participated in exercises with Canadian naval and air defense forces. U.S. Air Force air intercept control officers were embarked regularly for familiarization and cross training. AGRs were also tasked with weather reporting and search and rescue duties, and they took part in Atlantic and Pacific Fleet ASW exercises. 64

Mission Complete

The “bomber gap” controversy was put to rest by 1957. Photographic intelligence on Soviet bomber production collected by high-flying U-2 reconnaissance aircraft revealed that the Soviets were not rapidly building a fleet of long-range bombers in fact, because of accelerated B-52 production the United States actually held the lead. 65 The “bomber gap” crisis faded away, but a new one arose. On 4 October 1957, the Soviet Union launched the Sputnik satellite into orbit, causing a shock in the United States that made the “bomber gap” sensation seem trivial. Sputnik, the Soviet missile test program, and Moscow’s boasting about their missile prowess created fears in the United States that the Soviets had gained a significant lead in fielding long-range missiles. This supposed “missile gap” became the primary concern in U.S. defense planning as well as in the American political arena.

By 1965, improvements in Air Force shore-based air surveillance radars, in conjunction with accurate and reassuring intelligence on the Soviet bomber threat, had eliminated the need for an active Navy role in continental air defense. The Navy moved quickly to dismantle the extensive force structure it had assembled to carry out the mission. VF(AW) 3 had already been decommissioned, in 1963. On 15 April 1965, USS Newell (DER 322) commenced the last radar picket patrol on the Pacific Barrier, and on 1 May its crew marked the disestablishment of the barrier in a ceremony at Midway Island. The Atlantic and Pacific Contiguous Barriers were shut down on 30 June 1965. COMBARFORLANT stood down, and the GIUK Barrier was disestablished on 1 September 1965. With no mission to perform, COMAEWINGLANT , COMAEWINGPAC , and the Navy’s last three shore-based airborne early warning squadrons (VW 11, VW 13, and AEWBARRONPAC ) were decommissioned in 1965. The last COMNAVFORCONAD closed up shop in Colorado on 1 September 1965, ending the Navy’s formal role in the joint continental air defense mission. 66

With the cancellation of the Contiguous Barriers in June 1965, the AGRs were no longer needed RADRON s 1 and 2 were disestablished in August. The Guardian-class AGRs were all decommissioned in 1965 and placed in mothballs in the Atlantic and Pacific National Defense Reserve Fleets. They remained in mothballs until sold for scrap in the early 1970s. 67

At the beginning of 1965, nineteen DERs remained in commission: six in Newport patrolling the GIUK Barrier, nine in Pearl Harbor for the Pacific Barrier, one in Guam patrolling the Marianas Islands, and two in Seattle and one in San Francisco serving as training ships. As the barrier patrol mission was winding down, a new mission was arising for these ships—Operation M ARKET T IME was launched on 11 March 1965 to interdict North Vietnamese arms shipments through the South China Sea. DERs were perfect for M ARKET T IME, due to their economy, tremendous endurance, and small size in the spring of 1965, Vance became the first DER to make a M ARKET T IME patrol. 68

The Impact of the Barriers

The importance and necessity of the radar barriers have been questioned. Even while commanding BARFORLANT , Admiral Hyland believed that the barrier patrols were unnecessary and ate up resources needed for other missions. 69 On the other hand, the barriers, which denied the option of a surprise nuclear bomber strike on the Atlantic or Pacific coasts, had to be included in Soviet strategic calculations. Soviet electronic intelligence collection ships (AGIs) were in the North Atlantic monitoring the ships and aircraft on the Atlantic and GIUK Barriers 70 the Pacific Barrier was also probed by AGIs. The Soviet high command was therefore well aware that the U.S. Navy had erected a radar barrier across the oceanic approaches to North America.

A look at Soviet strategic nuclear forces in October 1962 shows the impact that the barriers had on Soviet strategic calculations. During the Cuban missile crisis—arguably the closest the United States and the Soviet Union ever came to nuclear war—the Soviet missile force capable of reaching the United States consisted of some forty-four to seventy-five intercontinental ballistic missiles (of which Russian sources now state only twenty were fully operational), about a hundred submarine-launched ballistic missiles (none of them deployed within firing range of the United States), and forty-two medium-range ballistic missiles in Cuba (for which, Russian records indicate, only twenty nuclear warheads had been delivered to Cuba). The Soviets thus had a total of only forty fully operational nuclear-armed missiles capable of reaching the United States. In contrast, the Soviet Union possessed about 155 long-range bombers capable of delivering nuclear weapons against the United States. 71 The Soviet high command, however, knew that its bombers—over three-quarters of its ready strategic nuclear force—could not reach the United States by any route without being detected by U.S. early warning radars and intercepted by air defense forces. That knowledge undoubtedly reinforced the deterrent effect of American nuclear superiority, strengthening President John F. Kennedy’s hand against Nikita Khrushchev’s bluster and bluffs.

We Have Been There Before

Navy participation in the continental air defense mission is a striking example of joint operations. To it the Navy could contribute state-of-the-art radar picket ships and airborne early warning aircraft, as well as significant air defense experience. Some Navy forces were placed under Air Force control, like VF(AW) 3 and units assigned to the Contiguous Barriers. Navy forces patrolling the Atlantic and Pacific Barriers remained under Navy control but were integrated into the Air Force air surveillance reporting network. For eleven years the Navy maintained a vigilant watch over the seaward approaches to the United States as part of the joint air defense team.

The Navy’s experience with continental air defense offers lessons worth keeping in mind as the prospect of another homeland defense mission looms on the horizon: sea-based national missile defense (NMD). As was the case in the 1950s, when technology originally developed to meet fleet-defense requirements proved valuable for defending the nation, the Navy’s ballistic missile defense program could well provide a foundation for Navy participation in national missile defense. The debate on whether to deploy NMD and on whether NMD deployment should include a sea-based component has focused on threats, technological feasibility, and the desirability of continued adherence to the Anti–Ballistic Missile Treaty, but there are additional considerations as well.

In the 1950s and 1960s, the Navy was never enthusiastic about the continental air defense mission, which it viewed as diverting scarce resources from its primary missions of sea control and power projection. The Navy’s strategic concept today may not exclude a homeland defense mission, but it certainly does not accord one high priority. Resource constraints are at least as severe today as they were forty years ago, if not worse, making it likely that NMD would divert funds and forces from other Navy missions—or at least be perceived as doing so. Unlike the 1950s, when the Navy had a fleet of economical vessels in mothballs that it could reactivate for the continental air defense mission, modern sea-based NMD would require our most modern and capable surface combatants. Putting those ships in picket stations off the coasts to perform a single, static mission would not be taking advantage of their mobility and robust, multimission capabilities—which could be badly needed off the shore of a rogue nation abroad.

Theater missile defense (TMD) capabilities also could be problematic in this regard, due to the possibility that TMD-capable combatants would be designated as theater commander-in-chief or even national assets, in which capacity their movements and employment would be dictated by higher authority rather than by the battle group commander—as sometimes happens with Tomahawk-capable combatants today. If the Navy is assigned the NMD mission, so be it. But as we contemplate the prospect of a new homeland defense mission, let us remember that we have been there before, and we did not like it—for reasons that still apply today.

1. David A. Anderson, “Pictures Reveal Reds’ New ‘Sunday Punch,’” Aviation Week, 15 February 1954, pp. 12ן.

2. “Congress Gets Red Plane Facts,” Aviation Week, 22 February 1954, pp. 13נ Katherine Johnsen, “Twining Warns of Red Jet Striking Power,” Aviation Week, 22 March 1954, p. 10 Robert Hotz, “Russian Jet Airpower Gains Fast on U.S.,” Aviation Week, 23 May 1955, pp. 12ס “Aviation Week Story Spurs Debate on U.S., Red Airpower Positions,” Aviation Week, 30 May 1955, pp. 13נ and Claude Witz, “USAF Recognizes Red Gains, Spurs B-52,” Aviation Week, 6 June 1955, pp. 12ן. Also see John Prados, The Soviet Estimate (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton Univ. Press, 1982), pp. 38㫅 and George E. Lowe, The Age of Deterrence (Boston: Little, Brown, 1964), pp. 121ן.

3. Joseph T. Jockel, No Boundaries Upstairs (Vancouver: Univ. of British Columbia Press, 1987), pp. 32㫲 James Meikle Eglin, Air Defense in the Nuclear Age (New York: Garland, 1988), pp. 60נ, 70ס and Glenn H. Snyder, “The ‘New Look’ of 1953,” in Warner R. Schilling, Paul Y. Hammond, and Glenn H. Snyder, eds., Strategy, Politics and Defense Budgets (New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1962), pp. 420ם.

4. Jockel, pp. 90𤩞 and Eglin, pp. 165פ.

5. John Monsarrat, Angel on the Yardarm: The Beginnings of Fleet Radar Defense and the Kamikaze Threat (Newport, R.I.: Naval War College Press, 1985), pp. 156פ Norman Friedman, Naval Radar (Greenwich, U.K.: Conway Maritime Press, 1981), pp. 99𤩔, 228ץ and Scott A. Thompson, B-17 in Blue (Elk Grove, Calif.: Aero Vintage Books, 1993), pp. 1ף.

6. Thompson, pp. 5㪧 Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, United States Navy Aircraft since 1911 (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1990), p. 79 “Strangest Shape in the Sky,” Naval Aviation News, May 1958, p. 9 and Harold S. Durfee [LCdr., USN (Ret.)], a PB-1W pilot in VX 4 (1947㫉), a WV-2 patrol plane commander in VW 11 (1959㫕), and Director of Training in the AEW Training Unit Atlantic (1961㫗), letter to author, 5 November 1992.

7. Thompson, pp. 15㪱 Swanborough and Bowers, pp. 79, 299𤬜 “Strangest Shape in the Sky,” p. 9 and Durfee, letter to author.

8. Norman Friedman, U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1982), p. 229 Naval Historical Center, Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships [hereafter DANFS], vol. 3 (Washington, D.C.: U.S. Govt. Print. Off., 1968), p. 64 Swanborough and Bowers, pp. 79, 299 and Durfee, letter to author.

9. John J. Hyland [Adm., USN (Ret.)], “Barrier Patrol,” Naval History, Fall 1989, p. 58.

10. Commander Naval Forces Continental Air Defense Command, “History, Naval Forces Continental Air Defense Command, 1 July㪷 December 1957” [hereafter COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History], n.d., Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C., p., 4 and Hyland, pp. 58ץ.

11. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History, pp. 2ס Hyland, pp. 58ץ and Eglin, pp. 139, 142.

12. Commander Naval Forces Continental Air Defense Command, “Command History, 1 July 1960ם January 1961,” March 1961, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.

13. The first COMNAVFORCONAD was Rear Admiral Albert K. Morehouse. Dr. Thomas Fuller, U.S. Air Force Space Command historian, conversation with author, 14 January 1992.

14. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History George VandeWater, F4D pilot assigned to VF(AW) 3 in 1961㫗, letters to author, 6 September 1992 and 30 October 1992 Robert L. Lawson, The History of US Naval Air Power (New York: Military Press, 1985), pp. 132ן Carson M. Smith, “They Put the Pinch on Bogeys,” Naval Aviation News, April 1959, pp. 22ן Larry Booda, “U.S. Watches for Possible Cuban IRBMs,” Aviation Week and Space Technology, 1 October 1962, p. 20 “Pentagon Civil-Military Friction Increases,” Aviation Week and Space Technology, 15 October 1962, p. 26 “U.S. Moves Jets near Cuba,” (Charleston, S.C.) News and Courier, 19 October 1962, p. 3 and Fuller, conversation with author.

15. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History.

16. Station 12 was east of Cape Cod Station 14 was east of Atlantic City, New Jersey Station 16 east of Chincoteague Inlet, Maryland Station 18 east of the Virginia–North Carolina border and Station 20 east of Cape Lookout, North Carolina. Ibid. Commander, Naval Forces Continental Air Defense Command, “Command History, 1 July 1959㪷 December 1959” [hereafter COMNAVFORCONAD 1959 History], 29 February 1960, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C. Commander Naval Forces Continental Air Defense Command, “Command History, 1 January 1961ם July 1961” [hereafter COMNAVFORCONAD 1961 History], 11 September 1961, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.

17. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History Commander Naval Forces Continental Air Defense Command, “Command History, 1 January 1960ם July 1960” [hereafter COMNAVFORCONAD 1960 History], 3 September 1960, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C. and Swanborough and Bowers, pp. 299𤬝, 580ם.

18. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History.

19. Ibid. DANFS, vol. 4, p. 361 and vol. 6, p. 654. Hyland, pp. 58ץ and Durfee, letter to author, 5 November 1992.

20. COMNAVFORCONAD 1961 History.

21. The station was just north of the Cay Sal Bank, near the Dog Rocks. Ships assigned to the S OUTHERN TIP station would sometimes anchor at the Dog Rocks in good weather to conserve fuel—and the fishing wasn’t bad, either. Ibid. and DANFS, vol. 5, p. 394.

22. The new COMAEWINGLANT was Captain Leonard E. Harmon. COMNAVFORCONAD 1961 History Commander Barrier Force Atlantic, “Command History 1 January㪷 December 1962” [COMBARFORLANT 1962 History], 11 January 1963, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C. “Sitting on Top of the World,” Naval Aviation News, August 1962, pp. 34ס and Leonard E. Harmon [Capt., USN (Ret.)], COMAEWINGLANT in 1961㫖, letter to author, 18 March 1993.

23. COMBARFORLANT 1962 History Leo P. Zeola [Capt., USNR (Ret.)], WV-2 naval aviation observer (controller) and senior CIC officer in VW 11, 1962㫘, tape-recorded oral history provided to author, 8 May 1993 and John J. Coonan [Capt., USN (Ret.)], commanding officer of VW 11 in 1962㫗, letter to author, 18 March 1993.

24. Still permanently based at Patuxent River, they took turns making six-month deployments to Argentia for barrier patrol duties. A third airborne early warning squadron, VW 13, was commissioned in 1958, and the Navy undertook a permanent shift of VW 11 and VW 13 to Argentia VW 11 was the first to move, in 1958. VW 15 was decommissioned on 15 April 1961, because only two airborne early warning squadrons were required to patrol the GIUK Barrier. Commander Naval Forces Continental Air Defense Command, “Command History, 1 January 1965ם September 1965” [hereafter COMNAVFORCONAD 1965 History], 23 August 1965, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C. Airborne Early Warning Wing Atlantic, “Aviation Historical Summary, 1 October 1961㪶 September 1962” [hereafter COMAEWINGLANT 1962 History], 22 October 1962, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C. Airborne Early Warning Wing Atlantic, “Aviation Historical Summary, 1 October 1962㪶 September 1963” [hereafter COMAEWINGLANT 1963 History], 9 October 1963, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C. “Barrier Gets New Squadron,” Naval Aviation News, July 1958, p. 10 Zeola, recorded oral history, 8 May 1993 Durfee, letter to author and Coonan, letter to author.

25. “Barrier Gets New Squadron” Zeola, recorded oral history Durfee, letter to author and Coonan, letter to author.

26. COMAEWINGLANT 1962 History and COMAEWINGLANT 1963 History.

27. Station 1 was west of Gray’s Harbor, Washington Station 3 was west of Newport, Washington Station 5, west of Crescent City, Oregon Station 7, west of Mendocino, California and Station 9, west of Point Sur, California. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957, 1959, 1961 Histories.

28. COMNAVFORCONAD 1960 History.

29. Rear Admiral Benjamin E. Moore was the first COMBARFORPAC. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History.

30. Ibid. and DANFS, vol. 7, p. 456.

31. VW 16 had been decommissioned in 1957, its aircraft consolidated in VW 12 and 14. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History COMNAVFORCONAD 1959 History Commander Naval Forces Continental Air Defense Command, “Command History, 1 January 1962㪶 June 1962,” 28 August 1962, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV), “Naval Aeronautical Organization” (Washington, D.C.: Aviation History Branch, Naval Historical Center, annual editions, 1953�) and “AEW Guards the Pacific,” Naval Aviation News, August 1958, pp. 12ן.

32. Swanborough and Bowers, pp. 299𤬝 Samuel L. Morison and John S. Rowe, The Ships and Aircraft of the U.S. Fleet, 10th ed. (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1975), p. 176 W. R. Green, “Crew One, Best on the Barrier,” Naval Aviation News, March 1963, pp. 22ס Hyland, p. 58 and Durfee, letter to author.

33. Hyland, pp. 58ץ “Barrier Gets New Squadron,” p. 10 Durfee, letter to author Harmon, letter to author and Morison and Rowe, p. 176.

34. Hyland, pp. 58ץ “Barrier Gets New Squadron,” p. 10 and Durfee, letter to author.

35. Hyland, pp. 58ץ Green, pp. 22ס Zeola, recorded oral history and Coonan, letter to author.

36. Coonan, letter to author.

37. Green, pp. 22ס Hyland, p. 58 Durfee, letter to author Zeola, recorded oral history Coonan, letter to author and John B. Lukasiewicz, WV-2 radio operator assigned to AEWBARRONPAC in 1959㫕, e-mail to author, 29 April 1999.

40. Captain Leo P. Zeola, senior CIC officer of VW 11 in 1962㫘, frequently flew on these check rides, deploying to Keflavik with the crew being evaluated. Zeola, recorded oral history COMBARFORLANT 1962 History and Green, pp. 22ס.

41. Zeola, recorded oral history.

42. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957, 1959 Histories.

43. COMNAVFORCONAD 1959 History “World’s Largest Non-Rigid Airship,” Naval Aviation News, August 1959, p. 3 and Swanborough and Bowers, pp. 580ם.

44. COMNAVFORCONAD 1959 History Swanborough and Bowers, pp. 580ם and Lawson, p. 149.

45. Swanborough and Bowers, pp. 198ץ Smith, p. 22 Lawson, p. 132 and VandeWater, letter to author, 30 October 1992. Edward H. Heinemann (1908�) also designed the A-20, B-26, and the Mach-2 Skyrocket.

46. The pilot was Lieutenant George VandeWater. Smith, pp. 22ן VandeWater, letter to author, 30 October 1992.

47. VandeWater, letter to author, 30 October 1992.

48. VandeWater, letters to author, 6 September 1992 and 30 October 1992 Commander 32d Continental Air Defense Region, radio message, date-time group 32 CONAD REGION OCAFS 200140Z JAN 62, dated 20 January 1962, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C.

49. The pilots stood a twenty-four-hour alert and then had thirty-six hours off. Initially four planes were kept on five-minute alert, but this was later relaxed to two on five-minute alert and two to four on fifteen-minute alert. VF(AW) 3 also flew daily combat air patrols over the Florida Strait along the twenty-fourth parallel, which appeared to be the northern limit of Cuban MiG patrols. VandeWater (who took great pride in his ability to get from the ready room and start his takeoff roll in less than two minutes) states that he flew twenty-six missions during the crisis, including four scrambles on unidentified contacts—all four of which turned out to be Air Force B-47s. VF(AW) 3 pilots rarely picked up Cuban MiGs visually or on radar and never had cause to engage them—although they would have loved to prove their stuff in a dogfight with a MiG. VandeWater recalls, “I had a lot of confidence in the F4D. On the nights we flew along the twenty-fourth parallel with MiGs on the other side, I was certain that I could shoot them down and I think we could have bested them in a dogfight in the daytime. . . . Of course, we fervently wished for some excuse to cross the line for a shot at them, since our F4Ds were great-performing little fighters in the subsonic-speed range, fully capable, I believed, of mixing it up with a MiG even in a turning fight.” VandeWater, letter to author, 30 October 1992.

50. Raymond V. B. Blackman, ed., Jane’s Fighting Ships 1963㫘 (London: Jane’s Fighting Ships, 1963),
p. 352 and Friedman, p. 228.

51. Friedman, pp. 229㪹, 460פ Blackman, pp. 353, 357. DANFS, vol. 3, pp. 265, 272, 334, 571, 657, 673, 676 vol. 4, pp. 56, 152, 361 vol. 5, pp. 76, 188, 308, 380 vol. 6, pp. 26, 92, 165, 365, 435, 654, 664 vol. 7, pp. 147, 456 and vol. 8, p. 309.

52. Friedman, pp. 229㪹 and Blackman, p. 357.

53. Friedman, pp. 231מ and Blackman, p. 352.

54. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History Friedman, pp. 460פ. DANFS, vol. 3, pp. 265, 272, 571, 673 vol. 4, pp. 56, 152 vol. 5, p. 76 vol. 6, pp. 26, 365, 654, 664 vol. 7, p. 456 and vol. 8, p. 309.

55. James W. Hayes, Jr. [Capt., USN (Ret.)], commanding officer of USS Roy O. Hale (DER 336), in 1961㫗, letter to author, 21 July 1992 Mrs. Walter B. Frick, widow of Commander Walter B. Frick, USN (Ret.), executive officer of USS Mills (DER 383) in 1961㫗, letter to author, 2 November 1992 “The History of the Roy O. Hale as a Radar Ship (DER 336),” USS Roy O. Hale News, Winter 1990㫳, p. 3. DANFS, vol. 3, pp. 334, 571, 673 vol. 4, p. 361 vol. 5, p. 76 vol. 6, pp. 26, 654, 664 vol. 7, pp. 147, 456 and vol. 8, p. 309.

56. Robert J. Bogle, operations officer of USS Roy O. Hale (DER 336) in 1962, letter to author, 20 April 1992 Everett A. Parke, “The Unique and Vital DER,” U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, February 1960, pp. 89㫳 DANFS, vol. 3, p. 571 vol. 6, pp. 365, 435 and vol. 8, p. 309.

58. Hayes, letter to author Bogle, letter to author Parke, p. 91 and William G. Schofield, Destroyers: 60 Years (New York: Rand McNally, 1962), pp. 175㫱.

59. Terek held a southwesterly course with Calcaterra in trail and on 4 November, 750 miles east of Bermuda, was observed rigging to refuel a submarine. Terek and a Soviet Foxtrot-class submarine appeared to be closing for a rendezvous, but the presence of Calcaterra and U.S. Navy ASW forces apparently deterred the submarine from joining. Unable to carry out her mission, Terek turned back to the northeast and started home. Roy O. Hale relieved Calcaterra on 14 November and trailed Terek from the mid-Atlantic to the northern Norwegian Sea, ensuring that the Soviet ship did not refuel or reprovision submarines that could have interfered with the American quarantine of Cuba. Commander in Chief Atlantic, “CINCLANT Historical Account of Cuban Crisis 1962,” 29 April 1963, Operational Archives, Naval Historical Center, Washington, D.C., pp. 121נ Frick, letter to author Hayes, letter to author Bogle, letter to author “The History of the Roy O. Hale” p. 3 Schofield, pp. 175㫱 and DANFS, vol. 7, p. 147.

60. USS Hissem (DER 400), “Ship’s History, 1962” (Washington, D.C.: Ship’s History Division, Ships, Naval Historical Center, 8 January 1963) Donald L. Lassell [Capt., USN (Ret.)], Commander Destroyer Division 601 and Commander Florida Strait Patrol (CTU 81.6.2) during the Cuban missile crisis, letter to author, 11 May 1988. DANFS, vol. 3, pp. 334, 676 vol. 6, p. 92 and vol. 7, p. 147.

61. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History Thomas Gallagan, “Lonely Vigil of the ‘Guardians,’” Sea Classics, December 1992, pp. 10ן, 123 and Blackman, p. 393.

62. DANFS, vol. 3, pp. 178, 444ס, 451 vol. 4, pp. 129, 141 vol. 5, pp. 191, 296, 394 vol. 6, pp. 375, 419, 530 vol. 7, pp. 254, 514 and vol. 8, p. 157. Gallagan, p. 10.

64. COMNAVFORCONAD 1957 History. DANFS, vol. 3, pp. 178, 444ס, 451 vol. 4, pp. 129, 141 vol. 5, pp. 191, 296, 394 vol. 6, pp. 374, 419, 530 vol. 7, pp. 254, 514 vol. 8, p. 157. Gallagan, pp. 10ן.

65. Michael R. Beschloss, Mayday: Eisenhower, Khrushchev and the U-2 Affair (New York: Harper and Row, 1986), pp. 149㫊, 366 Dino A. Brugioni, Eyeball to Eyeball: The Inside Story of the Cuban Missile Crisis (New York: Random House, 1991), pp. 3㪱, 28㪽 and Prados, pp. 46㫊.

66. Its last commander was Capt. H. D. Mann. COMNAVFORCONAD 1965 History DANFS, vol. 5, p. 76. Seven Willie Victors were lost while patrolling the barriers—five in the Atlantic and two in the Pacific—with a total of fifty-nine aircrew killed. Of the WV-2s lost, four crashed ashore (all during takeoff or landing), three at sea. Additionally, a WV-2 belonging to the AEW Training Unit Atlantic and an R7V (the transport version of the Super Constellation) belonging to VW 11 crashed at NAS Patuxent River while on training flights, with a loss of fourteen aircrew. Earles McCaul, “The Willie Victor Roster,” http://personal.riverusers.com/

elmccaul/memoriam.htm. Considering the arduous conditions under which the Willie Victors flew, this is a respectable safety record, one that stands as a tribute to the skill and dedication of the aircrews and maintenance crews, and to a plane that could take a lot of punishment—even though it was a challenge to maintain.

67. DANFS, vol. 3, pp. 178, 444, 445, 451 vol. 4, pp. 129, 141 vol. 5, pp. 191, 296, 394 vol. 6, pp. 375, 419, 530 vol. 7, pp. 254, 514 vol. 8, p. 157. Gallagan, pp. 10ן.

68. Over the course of 1965, a major relocation of DERs took place. Two of the six in Newport went to the Pacific Fleet, and CORTRON 16 was disestablished. In the Pacific, three DERs were decommissioned, leaving twelve: eight at Pearl Harbor, three at Guam, and one at San Francisco. The DERs became a valuable asset in the Vietnam War, but they were growing old the remaining twelve were laid up between 1968 and 1973. Jack Sweetman, American Naval History, 2d ed. (Annapolis, Md.: Naval Institute Press, 1991), pp. 243נ Ross Wright [Capt., USN (Ret.)], commanding officer of USS Vance (DER 387) in 1963㫙, letter to author, 3 November 1994 Friedman, pp. 233, 460פ. DANFS, vol. 3, pp. 273, 334, 673, 676 vol. 4, p. 152 vol. 5, p. 76 vol. 6, p. 365 vol. 7, p. 456 and vol. 8, p. 309.

70. Zeola, recorded oral history.

71. James G. Blight and David A. Welch, On the Brink: Americans and Soviets Reexamine the Cuban Missile Crisis (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1990), p. 328 and Brugioni, pp. 254ס.


22 Photographs Cataloging the Edmund Fitzgerald Disaster and the Dives to Rediscover the Wreckage

Image of the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck. Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum The Edlund FItzgerald crows nest. Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum Diver Bruce Fuoco making the final cutting of the Edmund Fitzgerald shipwreck original bell stanchions (called a belfry) on July 4, 1995. Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum FILE 1975- Coast Guard officers on a Board of Inquiry inspected life rings that were recovered from the ore carrier Edmund Fitzgerald, which sank in stormy weather in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975. AP The Edmund Fitzgerald&rsquos recovered lifeboat after its recovery in 1975. Sault Historic Sites, Museum Ship Valley Camp The No. 2 lifeboat recovered after the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking. U.S. Coast Guard The Edmund Fitzgerald sounding board spilt in two and covered in oil. It was part of the limited amount of debris found after the sinking. U.S. Coast Guard Life vests recovered after the Edmund Fitzgerald sinking. U.S. Coast Guard On July 4, 1995, the bell from the Edmund Fitzgerald was recovered after 20 years on the bottom. Great Lakes Shipwreck Historical Society


Historical Snapshot

The Douglas A3D Skywarrior was the U.S. Navy&rsquos first twinjet nuclear bomber.

Douglas started designing the airplane in 1947, after the U.S. Navy commissioned studies to determine whether it was possible to overcome weight problems and build a carrier-based strategic bomber. The project was challenging because anything to do with nuclear armament was top secret, and designers had to guess the appearance and weight of the nuclear bombs to be carried aboard. Moreover, the internal bomb bay had to be accessible from the cockpit so that the crew could arm the nuclear device during flight.

Douglas built 282 Skywarriors. The first production version, the A-3A (A3D-1), with a radar-controlled tail turret and a crew of three, entered service with the Navy Heavy Attack Squadron One in 1956. At 70,000 pounds (31,800 kilograms), the A3D was the largest and heaviest aircraft ever to operate from an aircraft carrier.

After flying a few conventional bombing missions over North and South Vietnam, Skywarriors were used as carrier-based aerial-refueling tankers and as reconnaissance aircraft covering the Ho Chi Minh trail. As advancing technology rendered its old role obsolete, the resilient aircraft continued to evolve. It was used for electronic countermeasures, photographic reconnaissance, and crew trainers and as a VIP transport.


It&rsquos been called &ldquoThe US Coast Guard&rsquos Most Daring Rescue&rdquo and, when you learn just how audacious it was, it&rsquos impossible to argue otherwise. Of course, the brave men and women of the Coast Guard routinely risk their lives to save others. But when they set out to save the crew of the SS Pendleton in February of 1952, they really went above and beyond the call of duty. Against the odds, the rescue mission was a huge success, saving more than 30 sailors from a watery grave.

The SS Pendleton was a huge tanker &ndash a Type T2-SE-A1 &ndash built in Portland in 1944. After a few years toiling for the American government, she was sold to the private National Bulk Carriers in 1948. Despite the fact that T2 ships had earned a reputation for breaking in two in cold temperatures, she remained in service and, at the start of 1952, she was in active service, running between New Orleans and Boston. On 18 February, the crew of the SS Pendleton ran into trouble. They hot a strong gale just south of Cape Cod. Before long, they were in serious trouble. They called the Coast Guard.

A plane was sent to look for the SS Pendleton. Shockingly, the pilot reported that he had found the stricken vessel &ndash and that she had split in two, with both parts in danger of going under. With no time to lose, the Coast Guard sent a ship, the CG 36500 to the rescue. Its captain, Bernard Webber, soon encountered problems of his own. They hit huge waves as they went over the sandbar protecting the Massachusetts harbour. While the crew were safe, the damage knocked out the ship&rsquos compass. They were going to have to find the stricken SS Pendleton without their main navigational aid.

Against the odds, they found the stern section, with 33 of the crew of 41 on it. The massive bulk was rocking back and forth in the huge waves. Webber knew that pulling up alongside it would be suicidal. But still, he wouldn&rsquot give up. Timing it perfectly against the rise and fall of the waves, Webber shuttled his boat as close to the SS Pendleton as he could. The crew also timed their descent down rope ladders and, one at a time, jumped onto the rescue craft. Just one man &ndash the ship&rsquos cook &ndash didn&rsquot make it, falling into the ocean and drowning. With the crew all on board, Webber then fought Mother Nature again to make it back to shore.

For their efforts, Webber and his crew of three were awarded the Coast Guard&rsquos Gold Lifesaving Medal, the service&rsquos highest honor. The daring rescue has since inspired a book and a Hollywood movie. Webber would go on to serve in the Vietnam War and died a hero in 2009.


Samarra Rises

I'm standing on a street corner in the center of Samarra—a strife-scarred Sunni city of 120,000 people on the Tigris River in Iraq—surrounded by a squad of American troops. The crackle of two-way radios and boots crunching shards of glass are the only sounds in this deserted neighborhood, once the center of public life, now a rubble-filled wasteland. I pass the ruins of police headquarters, blown up by an Al Qaeda in Iraq suicide truck bomber in May 2007, and enter a corridor lined by eight-foot-high slabs of concrete—"Texas barriers" or "T-walls," in U.S. military parlance. A heavily guarded checkpoint controls access to the most sensitive edifice in the country: the Askariya Shrine, or Mosque of the Golden Dome, one of the holiest sites in Shia Islam.

Here, in February 2006, Al Qaeda militants blew up the delicate gold-tile dome atop the thousand-year-old Shiite shrine, igniting a spasm of sectarian killing that brought the country to the edge of civil war. For the past year and a half, a committee led by Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki has been working with United Nations consultants to clear debris from the site and to begin rebuilding the Golden Dome—a $16 million project that aims to restore the shrine sufficiently to receive Shiite pilgrims by this summer.

I've been trying for three days to get close to the shrine, stymied by an order from al-Maliki's office barring journalists from the site—an indication of how sensitive the bombing remains in this country. U.S. military officers in Samarra have pulled strings on my behalf with the mayor, Iraqi police officials and the Ministry of Planning in Baghdad. This time, after I reach the checkpoint, a friendly commander of the Askariya Brigade, a predominantly Shiite police force dispatched from Baghdad last year to guard the site, makes a call to his superiors in the Iraqi capital, then escorts me through.

As I approach the shrine in the 120-degree heat, I take in evidence of battles between U.S. troops and Al Qaeda that ripped Samarra apart for five years, making it, according to one U.S. general, "the most destroyed city in Iraq." I pass a bullet-pocked hotel, shuttered trinket and mobile-phone shops, and a closed madrassah, or Islamic school. Heaps of debris have been neatly laid along both sides of the road. The stump of the once-glorious dome is now covered with wooden scaffolding. A few golden tiles still cling to jagged remnants of the bruised and broken structure. Near the main gate of the Askariya Shrine, I see the first sign of activity in an otherwise moribund landscape: a bulldozer, laden with fragments of the dome, rumbles through the portal toward a dumping ground nearby.

A dozen laborers bustle about the courtyard, which is filled with broken pillars and chunks of concrete bristling with exposed rebar. The whine of a pneumatic drill and the rhythmic pounding of a hammer resound from inside the shrine. "We have 120 workers on the site, working day and night, in two 12-hour shifts," Haidar al-Yacoubi tells me. A Shiite from Baghdad who has served as a technical adviser to the project since April, he adds: "Al Hamdulillah [praise God], the dome will rise again."

For nearly 11 centuries, the Askariya Shrine has been revered by Shiite Muslims as a symbol of sacrifice and martyrdom. The original building was constructed in A.D. 944, as the final resting place for Ali al-Hadi and his son, Hassan al-Askari, Shiite imams who had lived under house arrest—and were allegedly poisoned—at the military camp of the Sunni caliph al-Mu'tasim, when Samarra was the capital of the Islamic world. In 1905, the 150-foot dome, covered in 72,000 gold tiles and surrounded by pale-blue walls, was built above the shrine, signifying its importance many of the faithful regard only the mosques of Najaf and Karbala as holier. Enhancing the sanctity of the compound is the adjacent Blue Mosque, built over a sardhab, or cellar, where Muhammad al-Mahdi, the Twelfth or Hidden Imam, withdrew and then disappeared in the ninth century. Shiites believe that al-Mahdi will one day rise from his "crypt" below the mosque, ushering in man's redemption and the end of the world.

For many Shiites, something close to the end of the world occurred on the morning of February 22, 2006, after eight Al Qaeda terrorists disguised in Iraqi military uniforms entered the shrine, overpowered guards, fixed explosives to the golden dome and blew it to pieces. The attack was a key part of Al Qaeda's strategy to foment civil war between Shiite and Sunni Muslims in Iraq, thereby sowing chaos, driving out occupying U.S. forces and turning the country into a fundamentalist caliphate. No one was killed in the attack, but within hours, as Al Qaeda's leadership had hoped, the violent spiral began: Shiite militants set fire to at least two dozen Sunni mosques in Baghdad and killed three imams. Sunnis retaliated by killing Shiites. Soon Baghdad—and much of the rest of Iraq—was caught in a vicious cycle of car bombings, kidnappings, murders and ethnic cleansing. By the end of that year, more than 10,000 people had died across the country. Samarra, meanwhile, sank deeper into destitution and despair, neglected by the Shiite-dominated government, avoided by contractors, and fought over by U.S. forces and a range of insurgent groups. "The city was dead," Mahmoud al-Bazzi, mayor of Samarra, tells me.

Today, however, after thousands of former Sunni insurgents came over to the American side the "surge" of 30,000 U.S. troops ordered by President George W. Bush in early 2007 increased security and a wave of successful U.S. and Iraqi strikes against Al Qaeda in Iraq put the terrorists on the defensive, the worst of Iraq's violence appears to be over. In Samarra, markets have come back to life and playgrounds are filled with children. And the very symbol of the country's descent into sectarian carnage—the Askariya Shrine—has brought together Sunnis and Shiites in a rebuilding effort. The endeavor, city officials and U.S. soldiers alike hope, will bring back hundreds of thousands of Shiite pilgrims from Iran, the Gulf States and beyond restore Samarra's economic fortunes and narrow Iraq's sectarian rift. "Rebuilding a Shia mosque in the heartland of the Sunni insurgency would have been unthinkable" less than a year ago, says Lt. Col. J. P. McGee, commander of the Second Battalion, 327th Infantry, based in Samarra since October 2007. "That's a powerful symbol of how Iraq has changed."

But peace in Samarra, as in the rest of Iraq, remains fragile. The city has become, in effect, a giant prison, isolated by an encircling berm, and divided by mazes of T-walls and sandbagged checkpoints. Remnants of Al Qaeda lurk in the surrounding desert, still recruiting among Samarra's youth and waiting for opportunities to strike. Prime Minister al-Maliki, deeply suspicious of Sunni paramilitary units outside the jurisdiction of the Shiite-dominated government, has moved to take control of the former insurgents, known as the Sons of Iraq, and drastically reduce their numbers. The Sons of Iraq have asserted that if they don't receive jobs—either in the Iraqi security forces or in public works projects—they could take up arms again. Should that happen, the tenuous security in Samarra that has made the shrine project possible could collapse overnight. Moreover, the effort itself, although showcased by the government as a powerful example of reconciliation, has been mired in political gamesmanship and sectarian suspicion for the past year, and its success is by no means assured.

I flew into Samarra by Black Hawk military helicopter from Baghdad on a steamy night early this past September, sweeping low over the Tigris River for much of the 70-mile, 45-minute journey. Although attacks against coalition forces have dropped dramatically, moving anywhere in the country remains risky: the next morning, I made the short journey from the airfield to the city in a vehicle called an MRAP (for mine-resistant ambush protected), a 38,000-pound armored behemoth with a 12-foot-high turret topped by a 50-caliber machine gun. The intimidating truck—also known as a Cayman—was introduced by the U.S. Army last February here in Salahuddin province to replace the Humvee, which is far more vulnerable to attacks by IEDs—improvised explosive devices. "The MRAPs have saved a lot of lives," a specialist riding in my Cayman told me. But they aren't foolproof: on July 9, 2008, Sgt. First Class Steven Chevalier—driving a Cayman through central Samarra—was killed by an RKG3 thermal grenade, a handheld canister filled with flammable pellets capable of penetrating armor. On August 15, a second RKG3 exploded inside another Cayman, critically burning four U.S. soldiers.

We crossed the Tigris over a dam just downstream, hundreds of Iraqis were trying to beat the oppressive heat by swimming off a sandy bank. Soon we arrived at Patrol Base Olson, a Saddam-era casino built along the river and cut off from the rest of the city by rows of T-walls. This heavily fortified compound is the home of the 150 soldiers of Charlie Company, which has led the fight against Al Qaeda in Samarra, recruited fighters from the Sons of Iraq and helped secure the area around the Askariya Shrine. We pulled into the compound in a cloud of dust, and I stepped from the vehicle into a parking lot littered with bullet casings and crushed, half-empty water bottles. Inside the former casino—now Charlie Company's weapons depot, cafeteria, Internet café and Tactical Operations Center (TOC)—I was welcomed by Capt. Joshua Kurtzman, 29, the company commander. An army officer's son and West Point graduate who crossed from Kuwait with the original invasion force, Kurtzman was now serving his third tour in Iraq.

Sitting in his cluttered office at the TOC—one of the few corners of Patrol Base Olson with functioning air conditioning—Kurtzman recounted the marathon U.S. effort to bring Samarra under control during the past five years. U.S. forces arrived in the city in April 2003 and faced a growing insurgency within six months. A succession of U.S. offensives killed hundreds of militants and destroyed large parts of the city. But U.S. attempts to drive out the insurgents never succeeded. By late 2005, Al Qaeda controlled Samarra, with U.S. troops safe only inside Patrol Base Olson and a heavily fortified "Green Zone" adjacent to it.

Kurtzman recalled the dark days of Al Qaeda's rule in the city: militants cruised the streets with antiaircraft machine guns mounted on white Toyota pickup trucks. Public executions were held in Samarra's main market. Contractors, shopkeepers, even Sunni imams, were forced to hand over salaries to the militants. Ninety percent of the 40 or so fuel trucks destined for Samarra every few days were hijacked by Al Qaeda, their contents sold on the black market for up to $50,000 per truckload. In June 2007, militants again infiltrated the Askariya Shrine and blew apart the minarets. A month earlier, a suicide truck bomber had attacked police headquarters, killing the commander and 11 of his troops, and driving the rest of the force� men—out of the city. "We were fighting daily with Al Qaeda," said Kurtzman. "We had nine IEDs in a three-hour period on [one road through town]. Every patrol we went on, we were in a firefight or were encountering IEDs."

Then, in December 2007, the Iraqi government and its U.S. allies began to take back the city. The troops raised watchtowers and secured a berm that had been built around the city in 2005. Beginning a few months earlier, the Iraqi government had begun dispatching a national police brigade𔃌,000 strong—made up of both Sunnis and Shiites, along with a Kurdish battalion of the Iraqi Army. U.S. troops entered negotiations with Sunni insurgents, who had become fed up with Al Qaeda's tactics—including setting off car bombs inside Samarra. "Al Qaeda wanted to fight everybody," Abu Mohammed, leader of the Sons of Iraq in Samarra, told me. "They killed a lot of innocent people, from all levels of society." A deal was signed last February, and 2,000 Sunni fighters—many of whom had spent years arming IEDs to kill American troops—were given one to three days of weapons training.

The Sons of Iraq manned checkpoints and began feeding their new U.S. allies intelligence. "They'd say, 'My brother, who lives in this neighborhood, told me there's a cache here and there are six guys guarding it,'" Kurtzman recounted. U.S. and Iraqi forces conducted pinpoint raids, engaged Al Qaeda in firefights and, in time, drove its members out of Samarra. In an innovation first tried in Anbar province, U.S. troops also undertook a census of Samarra, registering every adult male in the city, scanning irises and taking fingerprints. According to U.S. Army data, hostile actions against American troops dropped from 313 in July 2007 to 5 in October 2008. "I sit here now and say, 'Man, I wish we'd thought of this two years ago,'" says Capt. Nathan Adams, who was based in Samarra in 2005 also. "But we were not ready then, and the Iraqi [insurgents] were not either. They needed to fight the superpower, to save face, then negotiate back to the middle ground." After six months of cooperation, "Al Qaeda's cells are dormant," Kurtzman told me. "They are hiding out in the middle of the desert, just trying to survive."

One evening I toured Samarra with Kurtzman and a platoon of soldiers from Charlie Company. We climbed into three Caymans and rumbled into the moonless night the delicate turquoise dome of the Blue Mosque, bathed in fluorescent light, loomed just beyond the patrol base. It was the first week of Ramadan, and the streets were nearly deserted most people were still at home for iftar, the feast at sundown that breaks the dawn-to-dusk fast. Only a few groceries, textile shops and restaurants were open, lit by small generators. Samarra's sporadic electricity was out again—no surprise in a city with few functioning services. "The Iraqi provincial government put half a million dollars into a water treatment plant, but there's no chlorine, so you might as well be drinking the Tigris with a straw," Kurtzman told me.

We dismounted and walked up the road to the main Sunni mosque in Qadisiya, an affluent quarter dominated during Saddam's time by high-level Baathists and army officers. Just a few months ago, Kurtzman said, troops returning to base from firefights with the militants would hear the muezzin call for jihad against America. But the main council of Sunni mosques in Iraq fired the imam last winter, and the radical messages stopped. "Six months ago, I would not have been standing right here," says Kurtzman. "I'd have been shot at." A crowd of children from an adjacent playground—a provincial government project completed a month ago—gathered around the platoon, along with a few adults. Kurtzman chatted them up, his interpreter by his side.

"It's good to see everybody outside tonight."

The kids clustered excitedly, trying out a few words of English, hoping for a pen or another small gift. "This must be the hottest place on earth right now," Kurtzman said. "The weather in Saudi Arabia is 105. It's 120 degrees here."

The men murmured their assent.

"So how much power are you getting here? Two hours on, five hours off?"

"Maybe a couple of hours during the day, a couple of hours at night. That's all."

A Sons of Iraq member stepped forward and began complaining about his employment prospects. I had been told that under intense pressure from the Iraqi government, the U.S. Army had dropped 200 Sunni fighters from its payroll in just the past month and would have to lay off another thousand in the months to come. In addition, salaries, now at $300 a month, were being renegotiated and could drop by a third. "There's a lot of anxiety out there," Kurtzman told me, as we climbed back into the Cayman.

From its earliest days, the effort to rebuild the Askariya Shrine has been beset by the violence and sectarian tensions that tormented so much of Iraq. Immediately after the bombing, then-Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari, a Shiite, called for United Nations help in restoring it. A few weeks later, Unesco representatives in Paris and Amman, Jordan, agreed to underwrite an Iraqi proposal to train Iraqi technicians and architects, and help rebuild not only the shrine, but Sunni mosques and churches across Iraq. In April 2006, a team from the Iraqi Ministry of Planning set out for Samarra by road for the first on-site assessment. The trip was aborted, however, after word reached the team that an ambush was planned by Al Qaeda. For months afterward, "We searched for international experts to go there, but the reaction was, 'No way,'" Mohamed Djelid, director of Unesco in Iraq, told me.

In June 2007, Unesco awarded a contract to Yuklem, a Turkish construction company, to conduct a feasibility study and make initial preparations—cleaning and production of architectural drawings—for the dome's reconstruction. "They sent one expert to Samarra, two times," Djelid said. Then came the destruction of the minarets in June 2007, which frightened off the Turks and made even some Unesco officials skittish about staying involved. "I myself was hesitating about whether Unesco should put our experts in this kind of situation," Djelid said. "But if we stopped, we were concerned about the consequences. What kind of message would that send?" Late that year came another setback: Turkish troops began pushing into Kurdish Iraq in pursuit of PKK Kurdish separatist guerrillas. In the face of an anti-Turkish backlash in Iraq, Yuklem became even more reluctant to send its technicians to Samarra.

But in December 2007, a small team of Unesco experts from across the Muslim world—Egyptians, Turks and Iranians—arrived in Samarra and set up an office near the Askariya Shrine. "The shrine was a mess, it was catastrophic, it was clear it was going to be a big challenge," said Djelid. Then the contract with the Turkish company, which had failed to begin work on the risky mission, was canceled. Al-Maliki appointed a task force to take control of the feasibility study, clear the site, and stabilize and protect what remained of the Golden Dome. But while the reconstruction project has been gaining momentum, it still remains enmeshed in sectarian politics. Some Sunnis in Samarra believe that al-Maliki's committee is acting as a front for Tehran, and that the presence of Iranians on the Unesco team is part of a plot to impose Shiite dominance in a Sunni city. "The Iranians have taken over this project," charges Suhail Najm Abed, a local Unesco consultant. "We threw out Al Qaeda, but we are bringing in another Hezbollah," referring to the Lebanese Shiite guerrilla group funded by Iran. For his part, Djelid defends using Iranian engineers: "[They] have a lot of expertise," he says. "When we discuss it with the population of Samarra, most tell us, 'If the Iranians are coming under the umbrella of Unesco, we have no problem.'"

Meanwhile, Unesco has been engaged in a debate with the Iraqi government about whether to rebuild the dome with modern materials or to remain faithful to the original construction, which could prolong the project by years. No one can predict with certainty when the dome will rise again. Unesco says that it expects only clean-up efforts and surveying to be completed by this summer.

On my last evening in Samarra, Kurtzman took me to meet Abu Mohammed, a former insurgent commander turned Sons of Iraq leader. As the muezzin from an adjacent mosque was blaring the post-iftar call to prayer, we pulled up in three Caymans to a handsome villa in Qadisiya. Abu Mohammed—an imposing and lean-faced man in his early 50s, clad in a white dishdasha, or traditional robe—greeted us in his courtyard and motioned for us to sit on plastic chairs arranged in a circle. Half a dozen other members of the Sons of Iraq welcomed us, including Abu Farouk, a hawk-nosed chain smoker and former tank driver in the Iran-Iraq war. Kurtzman had told me earlier that Abu Mohammed had led mortar teams against U.S. troops at the height of the Iraq insurgency, drawing on his experience as a rocket battalion commander in the Iraqi Army under Saddam. "In every country being occupied, there will be resistance," the former insurgent now began, balancing his 5-year-old son, Omar, in his lap. "And this is the legal right for any nation."

Abu Mohammed told me that his Sunni fighters had joined forces with the Americans last February only after their overtures to the Iraqi government had been rebuffed. "The U.S. was our last option," he acknowledged. "When the Americans came to this city, we didn't have a shared enemy. But now we have an enemy which both sides want to fight." The cooperation had been fruitful, Abu Mohammed said, yet he was concerned about the future. Al-Maliki's Shiite-dominated government was about to take control of the 53,000 Sunni fighters in Baghdad, and would soon turn its attention to Anbar and Salahuddin provinces. Despite talk of integrating the Sons of Iraq into the Iraqi security forces, he said, "we've tried to get the government to hire some of our fighters as policemen. But until now we didn't see a single person hired."

Kurtzman confirmed that even though Samarra's police force is woefully understrength, the Iraqi government was dragging its feet in hiring. "A Shia-dominated central government in a city that blew up one of the holiest shrines in the Shia world has a lot of bitterness against the people [of Samarra]," Kurtzman said. "That's why, in nine months, you haven't gotten police hired from here." Abu Mohammed insisted that his men were committed to peace, that rebuilding the shrine would benefit everyone in Samarra. But stability, he said, depended on jobs for the Sons of Iraq, and "we don't trust the Iraqi government."

Back at the Askariya Shrine, Haidar al-Yacoubi, the Shiite from Baghdad who serves as a technical adviser to the reconstruction project, gestured proudly at the workers sorting rubble in the courtyard. The integration of Shiites and Sunnis at the site, he said, would send a message to the world. "We don't make the Sunni-Shia difference important here," al-Yacoubi said, as we watched a Caterpillar bulldozer push debris through the mosaic-inlaid main gate. "Iraq is a kind of rainbow, so when we rebuild this mosque, we try to pick from each [group]." It remains to be seen, of course, whether such generous sentiments can be sustained—not only at the Mosque of the Golden Dome, but in Samarra and the rest of Iraq.

Freelance writer Joshua Hammer is based in Berlin.
Photographer Max Becherer lives in Cairo.


1988 - SEOUL

• Seth Bauer ‘81 8+ Bronze
• Peter Nordell ‘88 8+ Bronze
• David Johnson ‘83 Canada

1984 - LOS ANGELES

• John Biglow ‘80 1X
• Virginia Gilder ‘79 4X, Silver
• David Johnson ‘83

1980 - MOSCOW

U.S. Boycott
• John Biglow ‘80
• Virginia Gilder ‘79
• Stephen Kiesling ‘80
• Andrew Messer ‘81 Canada
• Mary O’Connor ‘79
• Anne Warner ‘77

1976 - MONTREAL

• Peter Cortes ‘69
• Christine Ernst ‘76
• Anne Warner ‘77 8+ Bronze

1964 - TOKYO

• H. Boyce Budd ‘61 8+ Gold
• Emory W. Clark 60 8+ Gold

1960 - ROME

• Richard D. Wailes ‘58 4- Gold

1956 - MELBOURNE

• William R. Becklean ‘58 8, Gold
• Donald A.E. Beer ‘57 8, Gold
• Thomas J. Charlton, Jr. ‘56 8, Gold
• John Patrick Cooke ‘58 8, Gold
• Caldwell B. Esselstyn. Jr. ‘56 8, Gold
• Charles L. Grimes ‘57 8, Gold
• Robert W. Morey, Jr. ‘58 8, Gold
• Hugh C. Thompson ‘57 spare
• Richard D. Wailes ‘58 8, Gold
• David Henry Wight ‘56 8, Gold

1952 - HELSINKI

1948 - HENLEY

• John J. Brooks ‘48 spare
• Gregory C. Gates ‘50 4-, Bronze
• Stuart L. Griffing ‘50 4-, Bronze
• Frederick J. Kingsbury ‘50 4-, Bronze
• Robert Perew ‘45 4-, Bronze
• Ralph W. Stephan, Jr. ‘51 2-
• Festus John Wade III ‘49 2-

1924 - PARIS

• Leonard G. Carpenter ‘24 8, Gold
• Walter I. Goodwin ‘24 spare
• Kenneth Ives ‘24 spare
• Howard T. Kingsbury ‘26 8, Gold
• Alfred D. Lindley ‘25 8, Gold
• J. Lester Miller ‘25 8, Gold
• A. Hawley Petersen ‘26 spare
• Archie Quarrier ‘24 spare
• James S. Rockefeller ‘24 8, Gold
• Frederick Sheffield ‘24 8, Gold
• Benjamin M. Spock ‘25 8, Gold
• Laurance R. Stoddard ‘25 8, Gold
• Alfred M. Wilson 8, Gold


Guarding the crew of U-877 - History

An outbreak of influenza A (H3N2) occurred aboard a U.S. Navy ship in February 1996, despite 95% of the crew's having been appropriately vaccinated. Virus isolated from ill crew members was antigenicly distinct from the vaccination strain. With an attack rate of 42%, this outbreak demonstrates the potential for rapid spread of influenza in a confined population and the impact subsequent illness may have upon the workplace.

Influenza is a highly contagious virus transmitted by the respiratory route by inhalation of aerosols as well as by direct contact with animate or inanimate objects (1). Because it can spread rapidly in persons in semiclosed or crowded environments, influenza epidemics have posed major risks to military populations (2). The impact of influenza on the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps has been greatly reduced since an annual immunization program began in 1954 (3,4). This mandatory program uses the influenza vaccine reformulated annually by the Vaccine and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee, Food and Drug Administration (5). The 1995/1996 influenza vaccination program contained A/Texas/36/91(H1N1), A/Johannesburg/ 33/94(H3N2), and B/Harbin/7/94 (6).

Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that the earliest specimen collection date for a new variant, A/Wuhan/359/95(H3N2), was July 1995. The variant was later identified in China (during August, September, and October 1995), Hong Kong (October 1995), and Guam (November 1995). During the winter months of 1996, A/Wuhan/359/95-like viruses were isolated in Asia, Europe, and North America (7). In February 1996, this virus caused an outbreak onboard a U.S. Navy ship whose crew had received the 1995-96 influenza vaccine. We describe the details of this outbreak.

The USS Arkansas is a nuclear-powered, guided missile cruiser with a complement of >500 men. It was in its home port of Bremerton, Washington, in January 1996. On February 1, this cruiser and her sister ship, the USS California (crew >550 men), departed for a 3-week training exercise in the waters off southern California. Up to departure date, the primary contact the two crews had was a shared dining facility. On February 5, the USS Arkansas contacted the Navy Environmental and Preventive Medicine Unit in San Diego, California (NEPMU-5), to report the onset of an acute febrile respiratory disease in many crew members. Subsequently, high rates of an incapacitating illness forced the ship to dock in San Diego, where it remained for 2 days.

The Study

On February 6, >60 crew members reported to the USS Arkansas medical department with respiratory symptoms the 16 most symptomatic patients underwent a complete medical examination and additional laboratory testing. Pharyngeal swabs were collected from 50 ill crew members and submitted for viral culture. After influenza A was diagnosed, amantadine was flown to the ship and offered, 100 mg twice a day, to unvaccinated persons and those in the first days of illness. Follow-up surveys and interviews were conducted in early March after the ship returned from its training exercises. The crew's medical, berth, work site, and immunization records were reviewed.

Case Finding

Several case-finding methods were used in this outbreak. Initially, cases were identified by the ship's medical officer and corpsmen. Their case definition included crew members seeking medical evaluation with symptoms of fever, headache, sore throat, and/or cough along with nonspecific symptoms of fatigue and malaise. NEPMU-5, notified of the outbreak, sent an epidemiology team to meet the ship. This team used a symptom-based questionnaire, administered to the entire crew at the outbreak peak (February 6), to seek additional cases.

On February 23, the ship returned to Bremerton. A follow-up investigation then took place, which included review of sick-call logs and medical department reports, interviews with select crew members, and a follow-up questionnaire given to all crew members onboard during the outbreak. This questionnaire sought to identify the impact of the outbreak on the ship's function and the effects of intervention with amantadine. Those persons who reported a influenza-like illness on the follow-up questionnaire and had not yet completed the initial questionnaire were asked to do so.

A person was considered a case if he had a documented illness consistent with influenza or if he had indicated on the initial questionnaire that he had had an influenza-like illness and associated symptoms in the first 3 weeks of February. A possible case was a person who had an influenza-like illness but either did not complete the symptom questionnaire or completed it before becoming ill.

Fifty pharyngeal swabs collected in viral transport media were submitted for culture to the virology lab of Green Hospital at Scripps Clinic in La Jolla, California. Influenza A virus was identified by immunofluorescent staining of infected cell cultures with commercially available monoclonal antibodies. Successfully cultured viruses were forwarded to San Diego County's public health department laboratory for identification of influenza A subtype. The laboratory forwarded five of these isolates to CDC for antigenic characterization by hemagglutination-inhibition reactions with ferret antisera directed against a reference battery of influenza viral antigens, including currently circulating strains received from the global World Health Organization (WHO) influenza network.

Conclusions

A total of 548 Navy crew members and 3 civilians were onboard February 1-23 440 crew members (80%) completed the first questionnaire and 509 (93%) completed the follow-up questionnaire. All respondents were male, age 18 to 48 years (mean 26 ± 6 years). Some 523 crew members (95%) had received the 1995-96 influenza vaccine in December 1995. Administration had been uniform, and the cold chain was maintained. The vaccine lot number and administration time were the same as those used for the crew of the companion ship, the USS California.

Figure 1. . Influenza outbreak aboard USS Arkansas, February 1996.

A total of 232 USS Arkansas crew members were identified with an influenza-like illness during the outbreak (attack rate = 42%) 158 cases were identified by the medical department 74 patients did not seek medical attention but met case criteria. An additional 63 crew members (11%) reported having some influenza-like symptoms (probable cases) but did not meet the definite case criteria. The outbreak peaked on February 6 the last case was identified on February 20 (Figure 1). Review of medical logs and interviews with the medical department and crew of the USS California revealed that no one aboard that ship had sought medical attention for influenza-like illness during the training exercise.

Figure 2. . Number of lost workdays during February 1-20, 1996. A lost workday = day a patient is placed at bed rest with influenza.

Ill members of the Arkansas crew missed 106 working days (Figure 2). One patient with severe chest pain as a result of infection was medically evacuated by helicopter. An additional 8 work days were lost by probable cases (N = 63).

After influenza A was identified in the crew, amantadine, 100 mg twice a day for 5 days, was offered to all unvaccinated persons (until the outbreak subsided) and to those in the first 2 days of illness. A total of 59 persons chose to take the antiviral, 49 for therapy and 10 for prophylaxis 11 of 59 had side effects (insomnia, 4 headache, 4 nausea, 2 dizziness, 1 and bad dreams, 1). One person discontinued therapy because of headaches. A total of 28 unvaccinated crew members were onboard 11 (61%) of the 18 unvaccinated persons who did not take amantadine met case criteria for influenza, but none of 10 unvaccinated persons who took amantadine prophylaxis had influenza-like symptoms (p-value <0.03, Fisher's exact test, 1-tailed).

Interviews and record reviews yielded a possible explanation for an outbreak's occurring on the Arkansas but not on the California, a ship with the same home port and vaccination schedule and a crew in close proximity until the day of departure. A sailor returned by plane to Bremerton from vacation in North Carolina on January 27 and became ill on January 28. He reported to the USS Arkansas on the day of departure (February 1). On January 28, a second sailor visited the first sailor in his home. The second sailor became ill on January 31 and was immediately placed on the sick list upon reporting to the Arkansas on February 1. On February 3, members of the crew who worked and lived in the same parts of the ship as the second sailor became ill. The outbreak peaked 3 days later. This correlated with a 3-day incubation period and efficient transmission. Four of six members of the investigating team (all Navy personnel vaccinated with the 1995-96 influenza vaccine) had an influenza-like illness that appeared to respond to amantadine therapy.

Influenza A was isolated from 30 of 50 throat culture specimens. They were confirmed as influenza A (H3N2) by the San Diego County Public Health Laboratory. All five isolates submitted to CDC were antigenically characterized as A/Wuhan/359/95-like.

This outbreak demonstrates the potential for rapid spread of influenza A throughout a confined population despite appropriate vaccination. The efficiency of human-to-human transmission is emphasized by the fact that there was no discernible difference in attack rates between various areas of the ship by the end of the outbreak. Although over 95% of the Arkansas crew were appropriately immunized with the 1995-96 influenza vaccine, at least 42% became ill with influenza when definite and probable cases were included, the attack rate was 54%, for an estimated 46% efficacy of the 1995-96 influenza vaccine against the Wuhan strain.

The outbreak reiterates that optimal prevention of influenza by vaccination depends on the antigenic fit between the vaccine strain and the infecting virus, which, in turn, is dependent on the early identification of drift variants. The identification of the drift variant, A/Wuhan/359/95(H3N2), as the causative pathogen underscores the need for increasing the number as well as the capabilities of surveillance laboratories worldwide to rapidly isolate and identify strains of currently circulating influenza viruses. In recent years, the Department of Defense has augmented CDC and WHO surveillance efforts through establishing a collaborative network of >30 domestic and international influenza surveillance sites (8,9). Influenza isolates from this surveillance have proven valuable in decisions about vaccine content.

Dr. Earhart is an infectious disease attending physician at Naval Medical Center San Diego. His academic interests include emerging diseases with military relevance.

Acknowledgments

We thank the medical department of the USS Arkansas for their assistance with data collection the crews of the USS Arkansas and USS California for their cooperation during the investigation Dr. Helen Regnery and the Influenza Branch, Strain Surveillance Section, CDC, for antigenic characterization and Capt. Patrick E. Olson, MC, U.S. Navy, for critical review of the manuscript.

This research was conducted in compliance with all applicable federal regulations governing the protection of human subjects in research. This represents report no. 00-20, supported by Department of Defense's Global Emerging Infections System and the Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, Department of the Navy, Washington, DC, under work unit no. reimbursable-6609.


These new changes to the USMC physical fitness program are effective immediately

Posted On March 18, 2019 21:16:28

The Marine Corps has announced today that revisions have been made to its physical fitness program, to include the Physical Fitness Test (PFT), Combat Fitness Test (CFT), and the Body Composition Program (BCP). Changes to BCP will take effect immediately, while PFT and CFT changes will be implemented starting Jan. 1, 2017.

The PFT changes are among the most profound since 1972 and the changes to the CFT standards are the first since its inception in 2009.

Revisions have been made to the U.S. Marine Corps physical fitness program, to include the Physical Fitness Test (PFT), Combat Fitness Test (CFT) and the Body Composition Program (BCP). All final changes to BCP will take effect as of January 2017.

“Last November we began a comprehensive review of physical fitness and body composition standards,” said Gen. Robert B. Neller, the 37th Commandant of the Marine Corps. “Subsequent efforts focused on developing a physical fitness program that incentivizes behavior toward an end state of a healthy and fit force able to better answer the call in any clime and place.”

Immediate changes to the BCP include an increase in the height and weight standards for females, better equipment for determining height and weight for all Marines and the BCP waiver authority will be passed from the deputy commandant of Manpower and Reserve Affairs to the first general officer in a Marine’s chain of command.

The Marine Corps has taken physical performance into consideration when considering BCP. Marines scoring 285 and higher on both the PFT and CFT will now be exempt from height and weight standards. Marines who score between 250 and 284 will have their maximum body fat percentage increased by one percent.

So for example if a Marine has a maximum body fat percentage [of] 19 percent, with a score between 250 and 284 on both the PFT and CFT, he or she will be allowed to go up to 20 percent body fat.

Changes to the PFT include a pull-up/push-up hybrid for both males and females. This eliminates the option for the flex arm hang for females starting in January.

Although Marines can earn points by doing either of the exercises, the maximum amount of points a Marine can earn doing push-ups is 70 points versus 100 if they chose to do pull-ups. This means the highest PFT score a Marine can earn if they chose to do push-ups is 270. The primary benefits of incorporating the pull-up/push-up option for all Marines is that it incentivizes Marines to improve their pull-ups while ensuring gains of upper body strength across the force.

Marines will also have to complete more crunches for maximum score on their next PFT, with scoring being age and gender normed. There will be a slight adjustment to the three-mile run for Marines in high age brackets, too. The PFT and CFT age brackets will change from four age groups to eight. The new groups are as follows: 17-20, 21-25, 26-30, 31-35, 36-40, 41-45, 46-50, and 51+.

U.S. Marines perform a combat fitness test. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Melissa Marnell)

Changes to the CFT will consist of adjusted scoring for all three events to correspond with the eight age brackets. The most drastic change will be with the ammo can lifts (ACL) where male Marines age 31-35 will have to complete 120 ACLs for a perfect score vice 97, and female Marines age 26-30 will have to complete 75 ACLs for a perfect score vice 63.

Another change to the CFT is all Marines will perform five push-ups instead of three push-ups during the maneuver under fire portion of the test.

“The new PFT and CFT standards raise the bar on physical fitness for all Marines,” said Maj. Gen. James W. Lukeman, commanding general, Training and Education Command. “Marines today are stronger, faster, and fitter than ever and these changes reflect that. Bigger and stronger often means heavier, so tying performance on the PFT and CFT to changes to the Body Composition Program are improvements that we think the Marines will appreciate. In the end, it’s all about improving the readiness and combat effectiveness of our Corps and the physical fitness of every Marine contributes to that.”

Related: Marine Corps rolls out biggest fitness standard overhaul in 40 years

TECOM will monitor the effects of these adjustments for two years and then adjust if required to ensure the standards contribute to the effectiveness of the force.


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