The Last Navy Day – How Truman almost killed the US Navy Reply

Navy Day is October 27

(sort of)

Not to be confused with the Navy’s Birthday, which is celebrated on October 13, Navy Day was established on October 27, 1922 by the Navy League of the United States. Although it was not a national holiday, Navy Day received special attention from President Warren Harding.

Harding wrote to the Secretary of the Navy Edwin Denby:

“Thank you for your note which brings assurance of the notable success which seems certain to attend the celebration of Navy Day on Friday, October 27, in commemoration of past and present services of the Navy. From our earliest national beginnings the Navy has always been, and deserved to be, an object of special pride to the American people. Its record is indeed one to inspire such sentiments, and I am very sure that such a commemoration as is planned will be a timely reminder.””It is well for us to have in mind that under a program of lessening naval armaments there is a greater reason for maintaining the highest efficiency, fitness and morale in this branch of the national defensive service. I know how earnestly the Navy personnel are devoted to this idea and want you to be assured of my hearty concurrence.”

October 27 was suggested by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, October 27 was the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy.

The weakness of the Navy in being prepared for a two ocean war in 1941 was a true test for the United States.

When the Japanese attacked at Pearl Harbor, America quickly discovered that the “efficiencies” of savagely curtailing a peacetime Navy and the fool hearted attempt at maintaining peace through trusting a contemptuous enemy by limiting our fleet, we were in extreme danger all across the globe. It was only the will of the American people and the ability of an industrial base that a modern Navy could be put in place and defeat enemies from both sides of the waters.

But the lesson of the war and its causes were soon lost for too many leaders. Blinded by the prospects for a peace through the start of a United Nations effort, disarmament once again became the song of the true believers. Harry Truman was one of the biggest proponents of the movement.  His decisions were very consequential for the nation.

Proclamation 2815—Navy Day, 1948

By the President of the United States of America

A Proclamation

Whereas it is the purpose of the United States navy to maintain sufficient strength on the sea and in the air to enable it, in conjunction with our other armed forces, to uphold our national policies and interests, to protect our commerce, to support our international obligations, and to guard our country and its overseas possessions and dependencies; and

Whereas, the Navy league and other patriotic organizations in 1922 selected October 27 for annual observance of Navy Day in commemoration of the founding of the United States Navy in October 1775, and of the birth on October 27, 1858, of Theodore Roosevelt, who as Assistant Secretary of the Navy and as President of the United States contributed markedly to the development of the United states Navy; and

Whereas it has become customary for our citizens to join hands across the Nation on October 27 of each year in rendering grateful tribute to our Navy and in according honor and recognition to the achievements of the men and women who compose its ranks:

Now, Therefore, I, Harry S. Truman, President of the United States of America, do hereby call upon the people of the United States to observe October 27, 1948, as Navy Day by displaying the flag of the United States at their homes or other suitable places, and I direct that the flag be displayed that day on all Government buildings. As Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, I direct that all ships of the United States Navy dress ship and that all ships and stations of the United States navy, where practicable, be open to visits of the public on Navy Day.

In Witness Whereof, I HAVE HEREUNTO SET MY HAND AND CAUSED THE Seal of the United States of America to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington this 5th day of October in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and forty-eight, and of the Independence of the United States of America the one hundred and seventy-third.

HARRY S. TRUMAN

By the President:

ROBERT A. LOVETT,

Acting Secretary of State.

Harry S. Truman, Proclamation 2815—Navy Day, 1948 Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/287275

Harry’s words would soon ring very hollow. In 1949, a directive issued from Truman’s own Secretary of Defense Johnson changed everything.

In 1949, Louis A. Johnson, (1891–1966, served 1949–1950), second Secretary of the newly merged and created Department of Defense, directed that the U.S. Navy’s participation occur on newly established Armed Forces Day for the unified/coordinated uniformed services in May, although as a private civilian organization, the Navy League was not affected by this directive, and continued to organize separate Navy Day celebrations as before.

In the 1970s, historical research found that the “birthday” of the earlier Continental Navy during the American Revolutionary War (1775–1783), was determined to be October 13, 1775, and so Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt worked with the Navy League to define October 13th as the new date of Navy Day. However, Navy Day in the United States is still largely recognized as October 27th.

The Government recognized Navy Day was last observed on Oct. 27, 1949.

But who was Louis A. Johnson? And more importantly, why did he want to end not just the annual observation of Navy Day but the Navy as well?

“the Air Force can do anything the Navy can do, so that does away with the Navy”

“Following the re-election of President Truman in November 1948, President Truman “reminded Forrestal about fiscal spending goals” not being met within his Defense Department. In late February 1949 President Truman asked Forrestal to resign. The President did not believe Forrestal had adequate control over the various services, and he appeared unwilling to command the cuts in the Navy that the president wanted. The drawdown for the Navy was well behind schedule and causing budgetary embarrassment for the administration with Congress.

The now-common procedure of in flight refueling was demonstrated in a circumnavigation of the globe by an Air Force B-50 completed on 2 March 1949 which set a new world non-stop flying record of 23,452 miles. The public relations impact of this milestone event resonated positively with the public and at nearly every level of government. The main Air Force argument in support of the B-36, compared to the proposed carrier United States, was cost, both in lives and money. Through some convincing calculations published in Reader’s Digest, Air Force advocates contended that the cost of one super carrier and its task force was equal to 500 B-36s and exposed 242 times as many men to danger. Public opinion supported a “more bang for the buck” move to a “peacetime” military.

Fiscal 1951 proposed budgets, made public, cut the Navy’s total allocation by an additional two-thirds from the already lean 1949 budget. This proposed budget was threatening to literally mothball what was left of the Navy (including all or nearly all of the carriers) reducing the Navy to little more than escort and cargo ships, transfer the Marines to the Army and all aviation assets to the Air Force.

In late March 1949, Truman fired Forrestal and replaced him with Louis A. Johnson. A former Assistant Secretary of War, he had been the primary fundraiser for Truman’s campaign for the White House in 1948. Johnson had no qualms over supporting Truman’s military budget reductions and fiscally preferred the Air Force’s argument. The Air Force disliked the Navy’s aircraft carriers, as they were an expensive asset the Air Force planners considered obsolete in the age of long range aircraft carrying nuclear weapons. Johnson, who was a staunch proponent of the nuclear capable bomber force, consequently sought to limit as much as possible the Navy’s procurement of the new large carriers to conserve funds in the markedly reduced post-war military budget.

Less than a month after taking office, and without consulting Congress, Johnson ordered cancellation of United States on 23 April 1949. This vessel was the symbol and hope for the Navy’s future, and its cancellation greatly demoralized the service. Secretary of the Navy John L. Sullivan and a number of high-ranking admirals resigned in protest effective 24 May 1949. Johnson did not seem disturbed by the resignations. His decision to cancel United States provided him with economy in the military budget needed to meet his budgetary goals, while demonstrating that he was in firm control of the military and able to make difficult decisions.

To replace Sullivan, Johnson recommended Francis P. Matthews for the position of Secretary of the Navy. A lawyer from Omaha, Nebraska, during the Second World War he had served as a director of the USO, a service organization that entertained the troops. He came to the attention of Johnson by assisting him with political fund raising for the 1948 Truman campaign. Upon being considered for the position, Matthews admitted the nearest he had come to naval experience was rowing a boat on a lake. On 24 May 1949 Truman made the appointment.

Said Secretary of Defense Louis A. Johnson:

There’s no reason for having a Navy and Marine Corps. General Bradley (Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff), tells me that amphibious operations are a thing of the past. We’ll never have any more amphibious operations. That does away with the Marine Corps. And the Air Force can do anything the Navy can do, so that does away with the Navy.”

A few short years later, the Korean War would prove to the world how short sighted both Johnson and Truman were. The need for a Navy and the fallacy of the supremacy of the Air Force were forever dashed on the shores of Inchon. Johnson would receive his well deserved public admonition and so would Truman as he was relegated to the scrap heap of history. The lives of so many American boys were the ultimate price of their short sighted decisions.

In the wake of this disaster, the Nuclear Navy was created that along with many other innovations serves this country to this day. If Harry and Louis had there way, we would have never had the ships that today sail the oceans and protect America’s interests.

I celebrate each day as Navy Day. But in my heart of hearts, I wish that there was still a national day where every patriot could recognize that a powerful Navy is the best guarantee of peace in a dangerous world.

Mister Mac

 

The Birth of the Atomic Fleet – When Science Fiction was Dwarfed by Science Fact Reply

The Birth of the Atomic Fleet

In 1950, the same year the USS Pickerel conducted a remarkable journey from Hong Kong to Hawaii in just 21 days under snorkel, the President of the United States, President Harry S. Truman, authorized the building of an atomic submarine for the first (August 1950).

Pundits and politicians had been predicting that the potential for nuclear power in a submarine was two to ten years away from being realized. What they did not know was that when Captain Rickover steered the engineering work on an atomic engine to Westinghouse in a place called Bettis in 1948, his vision was to make the atomic sub a reality well before anyone expected. Rickover chose Westinghouse because he knew they had the practical engineering capability to do something that was being delayed by the scientists and bureaucrats of the Atomic Energy Commission.

As early as 1946, Naval Leaders like Admiral Nimitz understood that the submarine was the future of naval warfare but needed to extend its time at sea and it’s conceal ability with a new type of propulsion. The harnessing of the atom provided just such an opportunity. The commitment to build and operate the Nautilus was a bold step for Truman and the Navy.

1950 was the fiftieth year of the American Navy Submarine Force

But August of 1950 was a very challenging time for the country and the world. The Cold War was heating up. On June 25, 1950, the North Korean Army (backed by the Soviet Union and Communist China) boldly invaded the south. The Russian navy was operating large numbers of submarines in the area and newspaper articles warned of the danger of a third World War starting. Troops were still largely shipped to the danger spots of the world by ship and the existence of enemy submarines in the approaches to Korea was a real danger.

The United States had rapidly mothballed much of the fleet after the war while disbanding the forces needed to operate them. Trained men were not available and the fleet struggled at first to manage its commitments in a very hostile world.

The promise of an atomic powered vessel with nearly unlimited fuel promised a solution for many of the Navy’s concerns.

Rickover saw this and with sheer determination and will power, shoved the Navy and the World into the Atomic age. He was a practical thinker and not a sentimentalist in any way. His vision was to see a Navy second to none powered by the most advanced technology that man could imagine. He succeeded in a way that still has an impact today.

This post includes material that comes from a book that was published in 1964 by the Atomic Energy Commission called Nuclear Powered Submarines.

This book was written a short ten years after the Nautilus was commissioned and shows the rapid progression of the nuclear submarine fleet. In ten years, the Nautilus was eclipsed by the newer and sleeker boats that were themselves to be eclipsed again within a decade. Those boats would be dwarfed in size and capabilities and later joined by behemoth aircraft carriers that could go decades between fueling.

Nuclear Powered Submarines. U.S. Atomic Energy Commission

Forward

The application of nuclear energy to submarine propulsion has caught the imagination of people everywhere; no scientific proficiency is needed to understand the value of such a development. We can all share pride in the arctic achievements and the globe-circling adventures of our nuclear submarines. How- ever, it is considerably more difficult for the average person to appreciate the magnitude and complexity of the engineering involved in actually building and operating these ships. This booklet is intended to help you obtain such an appreciation.

Young people particularly are attracted to these ships and the atomic plants that propel them. Often young people mistakenly think that atomic energy somehow magically simplifies everything and that it must be easier to work with such plants than with more conventional machinery. Nothing could be further from the truth. More knowledge and understanding are needed; knowledge of science, of engineering, and of the fundamental laws of nature. I strongly urge young people who may be thinking of entering the atomic field to study the basic subjects of chemistry, physics, metallurgy, mechanical engineering, and, of course, mathematics. Then, if they have superior intelligence, insight, and especially an affinity for hard work, they may be able to participate in a program which combines both the excitement of a technological frontier and the pride of contributing to our national strength—our growing atomic Navy.

H.G. Rickover

The Nuclear Powered Submarine

The advent of the atomic age has revolutionized our undersea Navy. The introduction of nuclear power has converted the submersible surface ship of yesterday to a true submarine capable of almost unlimited endurance.

Events have followed swiftly since the pioneer nuclear submarine Nautilus entered fleet service in 1955. Records established by the Nautilus for submerged endurance and speed were soon eclipsed by submarines of later generations such as Seawolf, Skate, Skipjack, and Triton. Skipjack, first to incorporate the blimp-shaped hull, ideal for under water mobility, broke all existing records to become the world’s fastest submarine. The Navy reports, within security limitations, that today’s submarines travel in excess of 20 knots.

Nuclear submarines also have opened up the waters under the Arctic ice pack for operations. In 1958 the Nautilus made a historic voyage from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic via the North Pole. The Skate has three times journeyed to the top of the world, twice surfacing at the geographic North Pole as well as making numerous surfacings in polar lakes.

The marriage of the nuclear submarine and the ballistic missile has been one of the most significant developments in the free world’s defense structure. Since 1960, nuclear submarines capable of submerged firing of the Polaris missile, armed with a nuclear warhead, have been patrolling the seas that constitute 70 per cent of the earth’s surface. Missiles aboard the first two generations of Polaris submarines—the George Washington and Ethan Allen classes—have a range of 1,200 to 1,500 nautical miles. A new Polaris missile capable of hitting its target 2,500 miles away has been developed. These are aboard a third generation of Polaris submarines—the Lafayette and Alexander Hamilton.

The First Nuclear Submarine

Authorization for the first atomic submarine was signed by President Harry S. Truman in August 1950. This was to be the USS Nautilus. The Chief Executive gave the world an idea of what could be expected from the ship: “The Nautilus will be able to move under the water at a speed of more than 20 knots. A few pounds of uranium will give her ample fuel to travel thousands of miles at top speed. She will be able to stay under water indefinitely. Her atomic engine will permit her to be completely free of the earth’s atmosphere. She will not even require a breathing tube to the surface.” On January 21, 1954, the Nautilus slid into the Thames River, New London, Connecticut.

This article was developed on the eve of the Navy’s 243 Birthday celebration (2018). The efforts of the early pioneers in the AEC, the Navy, the men and women of Western Pennsylvania and the builders can all be proud of the realization of the dream.

America as a leader – Truman’s April 16 1945 Address to the Nation Reply

On April 16, 1945, Harry S. Truman, newly appointed President of the United States gave an address to a Joint session of Congress and to the American people via a radio address at 1PM.

The speech was designed to let the people of this country and the world know that the legacy of leadership that evolved during the years of the second World War were not to be interrupted with the recent passing of President Roosevelt.

I would predict with no hesitation that this speech would never be given by the existing leader of the American people. In its simplicity, the speech reminds America and the world that this country is not only an exceptional country but one that has a destiny to lead others around the world that seek freedom. Rather than shunning our responsibility, he embraces it. Rather than attacking his country for the mistakes it had made in the past, he emphasizes what good we can bring to leading the world in the future.

I have never read the speech before today. I am glad it came onto my radar screen as I was writing my daily story for    https://www.facebook.com/WarInThePacific19411946

It will give me a lot to think about as I ponder what direction this country must go in to restore some of that leadership role once 2017 arrives.

Here is a small part of the speech that I feel best captures what we were about in Harry’s eyes:

Today, America has become one of the most powerful forces for good on earth. We must keep it so. We have achieved a world leadership which does not depend solely upon our military and naval might.

We have learned to fight with other nations in common defense of our freedom. We must now learn to live with other nations for our mutual good. We must learn to trade more with other nations so that there may be-for our mutual advantage-increased product ion, increased employment and better standards of living throughout the world.

May we Americans all live up to our glorious heritage.

In that way, America may well lead the world to peace and prosperity.

At this moment, I have in my heart a prayer. As I have assumed my heavy duties, I humbly pray Almighty God, in the words of King Solomon:

“Give therefore thy servant an understanding heart to judge thy people, that I may discern between good and bad; for who is able to judge this thy so great a people?”

I ask only to be a good and faithful servant of my Lord and my people.

http://www.trumanlibrary.org/ww2/stofunio.htm

I hope and pray we will regain a leadership role and truly lead as we once did.

Mister Mac

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