Damn the torpedoes: the history of science and undersea warfare in World War II
After the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. Navy Submarine Service had the submarines to, if not repel the attack on the Philippines, at least slow the Japanese Navy's disbursement of troops and material on Luzon. They could not because of defective torpedoes. This book examines the US Navy's submarine service's torpedo controversy during World War II from December 7th 1941 through the resolution of the torpedo problems in October, 1943. By investigating War Patrol Reports, Action Reports and other official documents including personal and professional communiques between combat theater, command at Pearl Harbor and Bureau of Ordnance (BuOrd) in Washington, D.C., this work shows how the Mark XIV/VI torpedo was a highly-technical, high-risk invention for war. Failures occur in high-tech, high-risk systems such as this. The U.S. Navy should have been expected and prepared for these failures but they did not. To make matters worse, command in Washington went into denial that there even was a problem. This abstract explains that denial of the problem for almost two years by BuOrd and Naval Command in Washington D.C. was inevitable. Using modern theories of the construction of knowledge, their repudiation of the problem can be predicted response by response. To support my conclusions, I rely on work of historians and sociologists such as Charles Perrow, Tim Bedford and Roger Cooke about high-risk technologies as a framework to view the science and technology behind the Mark XIV/VI torpedo. Supporting my conclusions that Naval Command's denial of the problem was inevitable, I apply theories of knowledge construction originating with sociologists of science such as Thomas Kuhn, Bruno Latour and David Bloor. Former submarine commanders, naval historians and those familiar with the torpedo controversy have long asked how this could have happened at all and why it took so long to rectify the problem. This book answers those questions.