Blind Man's Bluff
A book about classified missions carried out by US submarines in Russian waters during the height of the cold war? Sign me up!
“Blind Man’s Bluff” is a compilation of secret missions carried out by the United States Navy. Co-Authors Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew make a point of using notations only for previously public information, and there were not many. The authors interviewed hundreds of submariners to stitch together the feats of daring missions and near catastrophes. Captains operated in a game of one-upmanship that was only curtailed after a collision with a Russian sub.
Submarines have become a crucial tool for gathering intelligence. The United States Navy operates submarine missions to learn about enemy positions and technology. “Blind Man’s Bluff” uncovers the people behind developing the submarine program into a spy operation. Two of the key figures highlighted in the books are Dr. John Craven and Admiral Hyman G. Rickover. They didn’t always get along but their efforts built our modern unclear sub force.
My favorite story from the book was the development of a deep-sea surveillance sub named USS Halibut. The USS Halibut was a special operations sub which towed video cameras on a 3-mile-long camera to search the ocean floor for Russian submarine debris. In 1968, Russian Submarine K-129 sank in the Pacific Ocean. Gathering information about this submarine was critical for the United States military, however, no one had seen the ocean floor so deep. Over 20,000 images were taken, including one showing the skeleton of a Russian sailor in full uniform. The image was haunting and remains classified to this day. Interestingly, the discovery of the skeleton was evidence that the flesh was eaten by sea creatures. At the time it was widely believed that the ocean floor was lifeless.
“Blind Man’s Bluff” is a studied and fascinating read. After completing the book I am left wondering how advanced the military submarine technology is today and where US Submarines might be positioned. How many submarines are stationed in the South China Sea, or the Persian Gulf? The USS Jimmy Carter has a special hatch to deploy special forces underwater anywhere in the world. This book opened my eyes to the reality of Naval operations. It’s a fascinating world.
Blind Man’s Bluff by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew
Published by PublicAffairs; Reprint edition (April 5, 2016)