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Transparent Oceans: The Defeat of the Soviet Submarine Force

The Soviet submarine force threatened the United States from the early 1960s until the end of the Cold War. The destruction of the Soviet missile submarines was the responsibility of the United States Navy; it remained their number one priority throughout the Cold War.
The apparently insoluble problem of destroying the Soviet submarines was actually solved by an unknown program called the Long Range Acoustic Propagation Project (LRAPP). The efforts of LRAPP made the oceans transparent; t

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  • J. Oleary says:

    Review by J. Oleary for Transparent Oceans: The Defeat of the Soviet Submarine Force
    I purchased this book under the mistaken assumption that it would be in the mold of “Blind Man’s Bluff” and the genre of submarine warfare narratives that are published so frequently lately. This was mainly due to the subtitle “The Defeat of the Soviet Submarine Force”, which implied to me that the book would be full of tales of the detection and tracking of Soviet subs. This book is nothing of the sort. Rather, it is a technical memoir of the US Navy Long Range Acoustic Propagation Project (LRAPP) and their work. There are some stories of shipboard events, but they are always about various sea trials and oceanographic experiments. The book is more of an exercise in bureaucratic record-keeping, with a detailed listing of who did what, timelines, budgets, and heavy use of acronyms. There are some vignettes in boxes out of the main narrative that add some human interest and humor, but otherwise this is a tedious read.

    The work described is truly remarkable, though, and is worth skimming past the dull recitals. The people were truly talented and achieved remarkable results. When read as a distillation of a highly technical subject, the book is quite accessible to the layperson and gives a feel for how the US Navy went from groping about blindly through the world’s oceans and then, thanks to the techniques developed by LRAPP, could locate and track Soviet subs at great distances. The progression through the various oceanographic experiments that enabled this discovery is well-told (if you filter out the discussions on budgets and rank). I was particularly interested in the Arctic operations, which I believe my brother was involved (hey Ed!). The book covers the basics of ocean acoustics in plain English and has a much-needed technical glossary. The timeline, photographs, and figures are OK at best.

    The author was not well served by the editing of this book. The flow of the text, by removing some repetitive tendencies, could have been much improved. The actual typography is atrocious, with hyphenated words occurring in the middle of lines, and entire sentences being cut off by text boxes.

    Still worthwhile for the hardcore submarine reader.

  • Hugues says:

    Review by Hugues for Transparent Oceans: The Defeat of the Soviet Submarine Force
    Title is amazing but content is not.

    We wait for some new things about the sub war during the cold war between soviet and US. We find a poor history of the accoustic research made during around 30 years. It’s interesting but doesn’t justify the title.

    I don’t vote for this book except for those who are novice in this subject.

    Kind regards

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