A Few Thoughts

Blog Post


Thinking of the Old Breed – Underwater

R-1 at Pearl Harbor

Some of this blog’s readers served on nuclear-powered submarines. There may even be a one or two who served on GUPPY (Greater Underwater Propulsion Power) diesel/electric boats or WW2 Fleet boats. But the old S-Class submarines, which were forward deployed during the early days of WW2 and the R-Class boats which had short legs, were largely defensive, and had been redundant by 1939 go forgotten. However, though they had passed from service, their crews formed the backbone of chief petty officers who fought in the Second World War where submarines contributed massively to the defeat of the Japanese Empire.

USS R-14 (SS-91), engine room pictured below, was an R-class coastal and harbor defense submarine of the United States Navy. Her keel was laid down by the Fore River Shipbuilding Company, in Quincy, Massachusetts on 6 November 1918. She was launched on 10 October 1919.




Waepnedmann wrote (on this blog): When you decide to get serious (and someone who packs a Ruger Alaskan in .454 Casull is serious) about shooting slugs check out Ithica’s 3 1\2 inch 10 gauge “Roadblocker”. Specifically designed to stop vehicles.
Modern ammo design could turn it into a multi threat platform.
It only has a two round magazine due to a recoil mitigating mechanism, but I would wager three rounds is all you would want to shoot in quick succession.
They stopped making them, but I bet you could find one in some local SOs armory.

10 ga Roadblocker

I don’t own a Roadblocker and I suspect that appropriate ammunition would be difficult to find, but, yeah.

The .458 Socom round (fired from an AR platform and AR mags) was created to help stop automobiles as driven by hajjis in the Middle East. By all accounts they work. I don’t have one, but it’s on the list. There are a wide variety of ammunition options.

Small arms (not that small) firing the .50 BMG also work well at point blank range against vehicular targets, but they can’t be easily swung onto target and shoulder fired. So while they work, it’s a bit more complicated to make them work easily.

And while it’s a pistol round, the .454 Casull rounds available, fired from a Ruger Super Redhawk Alaskan provide a significant ‘defensive’ punch in a relatively small frame. The .44 S&W Magnum with well engineered bullets produces a similar and satisfactory result.


Maritime Interdiction Capacity

(LINK) Claudio Bertinetto brought this article to my attention. He was right, I found it interesting. It brought up questions to pose to you, dear readers. Private oil concerns have a lot of drilling underway in the waters around Mozambique. (Italy’s EIN being but one)  With next to no capacity to defend its territorial waters, Mozambique can’t offer much in the way of defense from terrorist/pirates.

The article is worth a read, but it begs the question of whether national interests should send ships or whether the oil companies should hire gunboats to protect their interests. There are nations which would “rent” their naval assets to oil companies, but sometimes those moves bring with them political situations that would not be appealing to parent nations.  For example, what if only Russian mercenaries were available to American drilling companies? What would the blowback be? Or would the US Navy be better off sending its on ships. We have a lot of near worthless LCS that could be sent there with a mother ship.


22 thoughts on “A Few Thoughts

  1. The S and R boats gave us the training pool and manufacturing expertise to then build and crew the big fleet boats of WWII fame. Nobody, except for the Japanese in limited production runs, had subs with the range of US boats.

    Some S-boats served as training subs.

    10 gauge? The thought makes my shoulder hurt. What’s wrong with .30-06 AP rounds? You can punch into most modern vehicle’s engines with it. Bah, you kids and your new-fangled stuff.

    As to maritime interdiction, pre WWII, the US Navy did provide protection for US commercial interests in foreign waters. We should go back to that. Of course, we need a better navy to handle that.

    Referring to hiring mercs, many insurance companies won’t insure a vessel or platform that is a ‘weapons hot’ zone crewed by civilians. It’s gotten better since the Somali Pirates issue, but…

    There are plenty of US post-military contractors that we shouldn’t need to hire Russkies, Ghurkas, French, Israeli mercs to protect US platforms.

    The insurance companies need to get over it.

    And having US-flagged mercs and boats under ‘Letters of Marque’ to protect US interests will help stop Mozambique from trying to do what Venezuela did to US commercial interests in that benighted country.

    Screw the LCSessessesssssss… Build armed Platform Support Vessels. They already have huge cargo holds, crew (troop) accomodations, helo platforms, a selection of boats from RHIBs to lighters. And they are designed as a general-purpose vessel already. Not really fast, but if they’re already on station (as they are designed to stay on station for a while) then the PSVs are already there. Plenty of room to add a nice 76mm or 57mm auto gun, some missiles, couple .50’s or even some 25mm Bushmasters. The ships already mount a good amount of electronics from radar to sat comm and station-keeping equipment.

    1. 10 gauge…my dad mentioned a neighbor who, at one time, had a double barrel shotgun with the gauge measuring in single digits. He would say that the first barrel would knock him down, and the second would stomp him to death.

  2. With my knowledge of thing naval limited to a trip on a troopship and operating a 27′ Bridge Erection Boat, my only offering on protecting petroleum assets is to suggest the first question is political. Do it, or not do it. If the answer is, “do it”, then the method or methods will follow.

    As to stopping vehicles, isn’t marksmanship the most important than the tool?

    1. I also operated a 27′ Bridge Erection Boat. Was fun at the time and a long time ago. Never did a trip on a troop ship though. I am no navy guy but can see that the LCS is a huge mistake that continues to be made. The big question is why? And i have to ask those more in the know- why are we building a $1 billion frigate?

  3. What a good post and it reminded me of an old man I used to visit in a nursing home back in the early ’90s. He’d worked on submarines in WWI. Tough old fella.

    And I like your plan to contract out to Mozambique.

    They have a jihad pirate problem and no navy. You have a navy and don’t want jihad pirates. The US Navy has a useless LCS fleet in search of a job but can’t get involved politically, bad optics. So USN subcontracts its LCS fleet and a mothership to YOU, who sail on the Mozambique coast, for a price. This doesn’t come free.

    Problem? Solution. And you get to be an Admiral, which is cool. I’m happy with Fleet Padre.

    1. My sis-in-law lives in Jax. I was down there doing some carpentry for her and needed a saw.
      Carl, her neighbor, had been on subs before the war and after the first 3 years of conflict, they pulled him out to teach in Groton. Great guy.
      I was at the 100th Submariner’s Ball where the topic was the unpreparedness of our Sub Commanders at the entry of the war. They fixed that quick.

  4. My cousin served in subs in WWII, and survived, but he couldn’t stand music in the key of G after the war. He was a MM1 and said the Fairbanks Morse diesels ran in G… Re loaner Navies, Standing Naval Forces Lant (SNFL) was sent through to patrol the east coast of Africa a couple of years ago, supplemented by Russian Destroyers. That is a multi-national ‘Navy’ if you will.

  5. I always carried Brenneke slugs for bear defense in Alaska. Mostly up in the ANWR, where the bears are small. Deep penetration and breaking down the shoulders is key, apparently. (who’s shoulder gets broken is arguable). The old Foster hollow slugs are a deer load, they flatten out and don’t drive deep. Never had to pull the trigger, but got awful close to a momma and two cubs- I knew it was bad ju-ju, walking up a a ravine with the wind in my face- she was freaking out, thankfully ran away rather than towards. The shotgun felt like a BB gun. I was wishing for a rocket launcher…..

    Every once in a while, you come across bears that don’t seem to be concerned about people- mostly, they run away fast.

    1. I haven’t shot bears in AZ, but those I’ve seen here have not been aggressive. No sows with cubs. Your point about not wanting to shoot them or anger them is well taken.

  6. Any specific recommendations in .44 mag. I load 265 he Hornady flat points for hunting and bear protection. Very good penetration (took two carabou with one shot a couple years ago)

  7. 3 1/2″ 10 gauge? Ouch! I’ve fired a 3 1/2″ 12 gauge and that was enough. A .458 SOCOM is also on my to do list. I already have an appropriate stripped upper and now I need the rest of the parts.

  8. I got rid of my 10 gauge in my early 30’s – it hurt to shoot it. I will stick with my double barreled 12 gauge. I still have my 44MAG but I can only put about 6 rounds of full power 44mag downrange before I call it quits. All I have loaded the past 20 years is 44 Special +P ammo for it. I still have about 600 rounds I loaded in the late 80’s and 90’s for it. A buddy of mine has a 454 Casull. It is 3 times more powerful than my 44 Mag. When I was 55 I shot it once and handed it back to my buddy – Nope, I have no use for a gun that hurts to shoot it.

    1. Desert Eagle in .50AE would be my choice over a .44mag revolver. More powerful and a better recoil. Magnum revolvers cause me to flinch, but I can run through multiple magazines of heavy .50 without problems. Plus, the shot splits are VERY quick, unlike the revolvers tend toward. Need to find a shoulder rig to carry it, though.

    1. Sure, hollywood scripwriters.
      The .44 pistol slug knocks off some paint, but that is all the ‘penetrate’ it accomplishes.

  9. When I was in high school in the 60’s, my electronics teacher was a retired Chief of Boat. As I went to school in Waukegan, he actually had access to the Naval Electronics course at Great Lakes. We got most of our books form there.

    Anyway, he was not only a great teacher and story teller, but he is the one that got me interested in Subs. He gave me run Silent, Run Deep and it took off from there. I remember a good part of the story was Richardson commanding an Sboat training vessel and his Exec Bledsoe messing up a test for command.. If memory serves, it described the Sboats quite well

  10. Diesel boat guys had incomprehensibly huge balls. Modern nuke boat guys just have big ones.
    I am not cut from that kind of cloth; I suspect I might be scared going around the harbor, much less the world.

    I knew a guy when I was a kid who had gone down to Pt. Melville and signed up for PT boats
    when the war broke out; he figured it’d be sunny skies and the Power Squadron with guns. Then there was a hitch in the new-PT-production-chain, and the USN put him in subs. Ouch.


      1. I’m not suggesting his expectation was accurate.

        Also, there is something to be said for the non-deadly-terror part of the tour, being spent almost anywhere than in a WW2 fleet boat.


  11. Submariners are a different breed of Sailor. They truly think more like solo hunters (which they are), than surface Navy sailors do. They almost seem to be more like Scout Snipers to me; taking advantage of the concealment Mother Nature provides to strike when least expected. No wonder they call them “Steel Sharks”.

    10 gauge? YOW….you can shoot whatever ammo you want! A lot of newer cars have aluminum blocks, which should be easier to bust than cast iron. Not sure what I’d want to use to stop a “passenger car” or light truck RIGHT NOW. 20mm, if I had the choice, I suppose.

Comments are closed.

Scroll to top