Super Nuke!: A Memoir About Life as a Nuclear Submariner and the Contributions of a "Super Nuke" - the USS RAY (SSN653) Toward Winning the Cold War Kindle Edition
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Contributionsof a "Super Nuke"--The USS Ray (SSN-653)--Toward Winning the Cold War
CharlesCranston Jett. Denver: Outskirts Press, 2016. 308 pp. Illus. Appendices.
Reviewed byVice Admiral Al Konetzni Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired)
Often calledour nation's longest war, the Cold War is now being researched and presented tothe world in myriad books, movies, and television programs. Largely because ofthe security classifications, the role of the U.S. Submarine Force in that waris little known. The fact is that the force put great stress on the SovietUnion's naval forces, specifically its fast attack and ballistic missilesubmarines. It did so with a numerically smaller force that was technologicallysuperior to Soviet submarines and manned by volunteers who knew that eachcrewmember was equally critical to operating the vessel safely at great depthsfar from home.
As a result,the Soviets found little success in hiding their ballistic missile submarinesor in finding ours. Furthermore, as the Cold War progressed, the Soviet Unionacted as if each of their submarines and major combatants was being tracked byU.S. submarines. This clearly was impossible given the numerical superiority ofthe Soviet submarine force. Our ability to stress the Soviet Navy and creategreat uncertainty helped bring the Cold War to an end in 1989 with the fall ofthe Berlin Wall.
Super Nukeis a most entertaining look at one individual's journey as he contemplated,applied, trained, and qualified in submarines. For a Cold War enthusiast, thebook's value is in its critical insights about the role of our submarine forceduring this period, and its descriptions of the stresses placed on our peopleas we built and commissioned six to nine submarines per year during the 1960sand early 1970s. U.S. submarines were in such demand that they often deployedshortly after commissioning and a short shakedown cruise.
CharlesJett's work also provides a look into the thought patterns of a junior officeras he navigates the tasks and challenges of qualification, watch standing, andmaintenance requirements, while attempting to maintain a social life. This veryreadable and enjoyable account of life in a U.S. fast attack submarine givesreaders a "story within a story." It is a good primer for men and women who arethinking about careers in the Submarine Force.
For youngofficers in any area of service, Super Nuke shows how junior officers can havegreat influence over events in the Navy. I call this "self-imagination," or thewill to make something occur that did not previously exist. Jett's contributionwas to make pre-deployment training and submerged contact management moreefficient than it had been. He was able to accomplish this because of hisinitiative, the leadership of his seniors, and the support of well-trainedsubordinates.
Finally, thebook sends a clear message to active-duty commanders: Only you can ensure thatyour wardroom and crew have appropriately balanced work-life routines.Otherwise an atmosphere of all work and no play is created, as Jettexperienced. Young service members who cannot maintain a healthy balance willresign their commissions and walk out the door. This is as true today as it wasin 1970.
VADMKonetzni , known as "Big Al, the Sailor's Pal," served as the deputy and chiefof staff to the Commander, Fleet Forces Command before retiring from the Navyin 2004. His previous assignments included Commander Submarine Force, U.S.Pacific Fleet. In 2016 he retired from his position as vice president andgeneral manager of Oceaneering International Inc.'s Advanced TechnologiesMarine Services Division.
Albert L. Kelln
Rear Admiral, United States Navy (Ret.)
Former Commanding Officer and Plank Owner
USS RAY (SSN 653) - The original "Super Nuke"
"Charlie Jett succeeds in providing an unclassified account of what it was like to be a nuclear qualified submariner who had the unique experience of building and serving aboard the first operational "SuperNuke" - the most modern fast attack nuclear submarine designed specifically to face the Soviet Navy during the Cold War. He describes the contributions of the commissioning crew in developing sonar techniques and operational tactics and how these lessons were ultimately and effectively communicated to later "Super Nukes." Charlie provided the initial idea and was instrumental in establishing and implementing a new concept of training which significantly improved the operational readiness of the nuclear attack submarine force. He created the "Geographic Plot" to improve operational safety and wrote the tactical doctrine for a new and sophisticated nuclear attack submarine electronic intelligence gathering system. "SuperNuke" is a good read for those who have an interest in life as a submarine officer and how these marvelous machines and their crews contributed to winning the Cold War."
The Honorable John H. Dalton, USNA '64
Former Nuclear Submariner and
70th Secretary of the Navy
"This is a most interesting work on the U.S. Navy's program to combat the Soviet submarine threat during the long Cold War. Charlie was in at the beginning and accurately describes the significant efforts, both in individual sacrifice and technical development that led to U.S. undersea superiority. As ajunior officer his individual accomplishments were most significant. The submarine efforts were probably the most important U.S.competitive strategy that drove the Soviets to the poor house and led to the demise of the Soviet Union."
Admiral, United States Navy (Ret.)
Former Commanding Officer, USS CAVALLA (SSN 684) - a subsequent "SuperNuke"
Former Director of Naval Reactors
"Charlie's description of our first encounter on the Pargo is accurate and his proposal for SSN pre-deployment training was a challenge which we readily accepted prior to our initial deployment. The concept was solid, the training excellent and timely, and the result over the years was to vastly improve the mission readiness for "Super Nukes"that followed. This book provides an entertaining, unclassified and accurate description of how those early lessons learned were effectively communicated and contributed to subsequent SSN missions. Well Done!"
Steven A. White
Admiral, United States Navy (Ret.)
Former Commander USS PARGO (SSN 650) - A subsequent "Super Nuke"
Former Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic
Former Chief of Naval Material
"On a bright Tuesday morning on June 21, 1966, many events affecting the United States were taking place around the world." This understated Cold War context makes for a fascinating and revealing account by Charles Cranston Jett in his book Super Nuke! As a man, Jett's personal combination of interests, curiosity, intelligence and drive led him - almost serendipitously - to become a Navy submariner; not on just any submarine, but aboard the first operationally active member of "the most modern and powerful nuclear attack submarines ever built." The Ray was the ultimate weapon.
In Super Nuke! Mr. Jett tells his story with clarity, precision, and an intensely interesting sense of spy-like intrigue natural to such Top Secret revelations about a supremely secretive and dangerous time in U.S. history. Strangely and concurrently, his narrative also sounds like any young man finding his way to learning and employment, and ultimate service to mankind. The difference is revealed in specifics that even now cannot be revealed fully, and in the vital contribution made by this submarine in bringing about an acceptable, non-nuclear ending to the doomsday-driven scenarios so prevalent during the Cold War.
Amazingly, Mr. Jett not only turns this finely written work into an historically important document, but also into a kind of primer for how to succeed in life, both in one's job and in the area of one's expertise. His own summary says it best: "The primary lessons I learned serving in the nuclear navy were as follows: If you are going to do something, then do it well...to the best of your ability. If you say you're going to do something, then do it. Whatever you do in life, do things that contribute to the betterment of your fellow man, and for your country." One more time in his own life, Mr. Jett in Super Nuke! leads us by example.
[Following is the official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Super Nuke!" by Charles Cranston Jett.]
Nuclear submarines are not things I've ever spent much time thinking about. I wasn't totally sure what made them nuclear or why they were even necessary for the military to use. I didn't understand the role they played in fighting (and winning) the Cold War. Fortunately, Super Nuke! a memoir by retired nuclear submariner Charles Cranston Jett, gave me a solid education in all things nuclear submarine related. I rated this book 4 out of 4 stars.
From the Author
- Publication date : April 16, 2016
- File size : 3029 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Publisher : Outskirts Press, Inc. (April 16, 2016)
- Print length : 310 pages
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B01EE1HTC2
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Lending : Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #195,089 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
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I found Super Nuke to be accurate and interesting, however until I picked up on the author's usage of the name Super Nuke for Ray, I was confused.
In fairness, Jett does make the case that the SSN-637 Class was a step improvement in tactical capability over all previous classes. He does not denigrate the performance of earlier classes, nor should he, but simply points out the significant advances in technology and engineering that were added. The second point is that while USS Ray was A "Super Nuke, so were the other members of the Class as they each in-turn came on the line. My first boat came on the line about ten months after Ray, and like the two boats before RAY we did not deploy, but rather were devoted to efforts to make the ENTIRE Class both quieter and also more able to detect, classify, localize, and attack potential enemy threats. We also were A Super Nuke and the entire Class, including Ray, benefited from that effort. (I was a Crew Member on Admiral White's Boat for that first deployment as described in the book.)
As time passes, each and every boat of the class finds it harder and harder to continue to be viewed as a "Super Nuke." As time advances, and new classes of boats are developed, those boats become the new "Super Nukes" - quieter and more capable than their now older predecessors. The next Class, SSN-688, arrived on the scene about ten years after Ray, et al. Ten more years later, when Ray and the rest of the Class were being retired it would be harder to continue to call us Super Nukes AT THAT TIME when measured against the 688s and now even later classes.
There were a couple of concerns I had with content. A couple of confusing descriptions of Atmosphere Control Equipments and Operation and a couple of Classified "issues" also. Finally, at the time the author was transferred from Ray and I was transferred from my first nuke, there was a terrible shortage of nuclear trained submarine Officers. This was partly driven by the FACT that no one could get assigned shore duty following a first tour, and indeed after a second tour was not much easier.
In 1969 the Navy authorized folks such as Jett and me to receive a $15,000 Bonus if we agreed not to resign for four years. I think the author left us hanging as to how he got Shore Duty to a tactics based position when largely his SSN tactical experience was very limited because of the Ray's needs for his efforts in the Propulsion Plant area.
Captain Carr was absolutely correct in suggesting that if you really want to learn about submarines, participate in the Building Process. Jett did just that, and it shows! I had the same opportunity twice and also benefited.
I did learn from Mr. Jett’s book, however. Between the fact that most of the Boat is submerged even when she’s in port and the finite perspective one has sitting in Crew’s Mess, I always thought Frame 57 was more or less amidships. I never realized a full two-thirds of the Boat was aft of “the forbidden frame.” I appreciated Mr. Jett’s praise of the enlisted men aboard the Ray. Not all officers take the time to listen to those who wear crows rather than gold and silver stripes. I also appreciated his comments about the special stamina of us submarine wives.
The other thing is, Mr. Jett obviously is not a professional writer. He uses way too many exclamation points. But, aside from that, I found his book both entertaining and informative. Although by their hull numbers I’m sure both of my ex’s boats were built before the Ray, Tim served in the early seventies—after the missions Mr. Jett talks about in Super Nuke! I’m sure when he qualified for his dolphins, Tim had to learn something about the programs Mr. Jett developed. The rest of the time Tim was aft of Frame 57 when he was on duty. Oh, and Mr. Jett—congratulations on getting Admiral Rickover to smile. Everyone was always terrified of him, as I recall.
Not mentioned in the book is that generally, when docked in a foreign port like Naples, Athens and Toulon, the nuclear trained personnel have limited opportunity to go ashore on liberty. This is because the reactor has to continue to run to supply electricity and air conditioning since foreign locations are unable to supply the 60Hz shore power our equipment requires or, if they can supply it, the location is not secure enough for us to dock at.
In the author's mention of the Soviet Alpha class sub he asks why would a sub be engineered to dive so deep? We were told that the Alpha could dive deeper than our torpedoes could function and also, at over 40 knots, could outrun our torpedoes. Luckily, the Alpha was so loud they never could have detected us.