Hellcats: The Epic Story of World War II's Most Daring Submarine Raid

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9780451231369: Hellcats: The Epic Story of World War II's Most Daring Submarine Raid

By 1945, the U.S. Navy's submarine force in the Pacific had sunk over a thousand enemy cargo ships and tankers supplying the food, weapons, and oil Japan needed to continue to fight. Yet this once mighty merchant fleet continued to thrive in the Sea of Japan, where, protected from American submarines by a seemingly impenetrable barrier of deadly minefields, they provided a tenuous lifeline for the Japanese.

With no knowledge of the secret development of the atomic bomb, senior American sub force commanders, desperate to avoid an invasion of the home islands, believed that if these enemy ships, vitally important to the enemy's war effort, were sunk, Japan would be forced to surrender.

For the first time ever, author Peter Sasgen tells the complete, incredible story of Operation Barney, the daring plot to penetrate the dense minefields protecting the Sea of Japan and decimate the enemy fleet. The brainchild of the dedicated sub commander Vice Admiral Charles Lockwood, the mission would hinge on a new experimental sonar system that would, with luck, guide American submarines safely past the mines and into the open sea.

The nine submarines chosen, nicknamed Hellcats, were tasked with the impossible—the combined crews of 760 submariners all knew their chances of survival were slim. Based on original documents and the poignant personal letters of one doomed Hellcat commander, Sasgen crafts a classic naval tale of one of World War II's most dangerous missions.

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About the Author:

Peter Sasgen is the author of two previous nonfiction books on submarine warfare, including Stalking the Red Bear, a selection of the Military Book Club, and three submarine techno-thriller novels. He is a U.S. Navy veteran who lives in Florida.

From Booklist:

A worthwhile addition to most naval collections, this is the uncensored story of the 1945 penetration of the Sea of Japan by nine U.S. submarines. Penetrating heavy minefields with the aid of a new short-range (and not wholly debugged) sonar, the submarines sank 28 Japanese ships in attacking Japan’s connection to the Asian mainland. Having received extraordinary cooperation from the operation’s survivors and their descendants, Sasgen gives eloquent and accessible accounts for the general reader of the development of the FM sonar, the picking of the submarines, and Operation Barney itself. He also gives a memorable and moving portrait of Laurence Edge, captain of Bonefish, the one submarine lost, and of his family. He suggests that the operation was not really worthwhile, coming as late in the war as June 1945, yet admits that Admiral Lockwood, commanding Pacific Fleet submarines, probably could not have known that. Deserves the commendation well done. --Roland Green

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