Academic journal article Military Review

Silent and Unseen: On Patrol in Three Cold War Attack Submarines

Academic journal article Military Review

Silent and Unseen: On Patrol in Three Cold War Attack Submarines

Article excerpt

SILENT AND UNSEEN: On Patrol in Three Cold War Attack Submarines Alfred Scott McLaren, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, Maryland, 2015, 256 pages

Reading Silent and Unseen brought back a flood of memories. In this autobiography, Alfred Scott McLaren writes of his experiences as a junior officer on his first three submarines, encompassing seven years at sea from 1958 through 1965. He paints a colorful picture of the life of a submarine officer during the Cold War, as the U.S. Navy was making the leap from diesel-powered to nuclear-powered submarines. The autobiography likely has a limited audience in the security community, and security concerns limit detailing the classified portions of the Cold War missions or special operations this era was known for. The book is a deck-plate-level story of how one man succeeded in one of the military's most independent and mysterious occupations.

Initially, McLaren was assigned to USS Qreenfish, a modified World War II-era diesel submarine. Just like submarine officers today, his first onboard qualification was to become the battery charging line-up officer. From this lowest of qualifications, he recounts taking on more responsibility and learning how to thrive in a submarine force loaded with World War II combat veterans who worked hard and played hard. Stories meander from the amusing cockroach races in the control room to a chilling story of seeing a drifting horned mine looming out of a fog bank that narrowly misses the boat.

Nearing the end of his tour on the Greenfish, McLaren was selected by Adm. Hyman Rickover to participate in the fledgling nuclear power program. He was assigned to USS Seadragon, which was only the sixth nuclear submarine to join the fleet. Unlike his former diesel submarine, his new nuclear submarine existed largely independent from Earth's atmosphere. …

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