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Under Pressure: The Final Voyage of Submarine S-Five Hardcover – August 6, 2002
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"The sea is notoriously unforgiving, but it reserves its harshest penalties for those who venture beneath its surface," writes U.S. Navy veteran A.J. Hill in Under Pressure. The captain and crew of the S-Five submarine learned this gloomy fact the hard way in 1920, when they tested their new boat's ability to "crash dive"--submerse as quickly as possible--and sank straight to the bottom of the ocean. A faulty induction valve had flooded, leaving 40 men stranded at a depth of 180 feet, about 50 miles off the coast of Cape May, New Jersey. Everything seemed to go wrong: the drive motors failed, the main lighting circuits went dead, and their oxygen began to run thin. Nobody knew their location and they had no means of calling for help. All they had was their own ingenuity and the remarkable leader Lt. Commander Savvy Cooke. The story of how they managed--just barely--to escape an underwater tomb will appeal to fans of Peter Maas's The Terrible Hours (though it's worth noting that the technology behind the 1939 Squalus rescue wasn't available to the men trapped in the S-Five) and Blind Man's Bluff by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew. --John J. Miller
In 1920 U.S.S. S-5, practicing crash dives off the Atlantic coast, sank due to a combination of negligence and poor mechanical design. Fortunately, it went down in relatively shallow water. Unfortunately, the compressed air remaining in the vessel was sufficient to raise only the submarine's stern to the surface. The crew then began a daylong struggle to endure foul air and unnaturally tilted quarters until they could cut a hole in the exposed stern. From there they signaled a passing ship, whose engineers cut another hole through which the crew was rescued. S-5 is still where it sank, but her ingenious captain, aptly nicknamed "Savvy," went on to acquire four stars, a rating this book also deserves. The nightmares inflicted on her crew by the "latest thing in American submarines" will make readers doff their hats in tribute to the early submariners, who went down under the sea in ships that didn't always come up. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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The book is a real page-turner, I read it in one sitting. Although I was well aware of the outcome, Mr. Hill kept me enthralled. My heart was beating fast and my hands were sweaty. It is an inspiring book, uplifting to read about the honor and valor of men in terrifying predicaments.
It's also a graphic description of the conditions aboard submarines in the early days of the silent service.
The story of how the S-Five sank and how Savvy Cooke and his men fought to survive afterwards is amazing, but the author has done such a great job of research that it's all believable. It's educational too. I didn't know much about submarines when I started the book, but I do now. The technical stuff was explained so clearly that I never had trouble understanding what was happening,. but the explanations never got in the way of the action.
If you liked The Terrible Hours, you'll love this book!