“Now hear this …”

“The Navy celebrated the 63rd birthday of its oldest vessel – the Guppy-class SS-791 ‘Sea Lion’ – last Thursday … it is the oldest submarine still in service …”

“With its 5,200 horsepower diesel engine, the SS-791 was initially capable of completing a non-stop 8,350-kilometer trip in approximately 45 days. Top speed underwater was 12 knots and 16 knots on the surface …”

“Between 1944 and 1946, the US built 45 Tench-class submarines. Fourteen of those were upgraded to Guppy-class in 1950, including the SS-791 … It was built in the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, and completed on Nov. 5, 1944.”

Oh yes. We forgot to mention it, but the above announcement came from the Taiwanese Navy yesterday. As part of the Mutual Defense Treaty between the US and the Republic of China, in 1970 the US gave the SS-791 to the Taiwanese Navy — after serving 28 years in the US Navy. Prior to joining the Taiwanese fleet, the SS-791 was known as the USS-478 ‘Cutlass’. This proves a point we’ve been making, and in an earlier commentary we cited the concern expressed by a former member of the Chief of Naval Operations’ Maritime Strategy Group at the Naval War College.

Back in Vol. X, Art. 32 (Razing Questions), we quoted Mr. Craig Hooper, who informs us that, “Over the past six years, 79 condemned ships have been towed out to sea and destroyed by Air Force bombs, submarine-launched torpedoes or hails of gunfire. These exercises, long considered the most cost-effective way to dispose of unwanted naval vessels, have eaten away at America’s inventory of still-useful retired warships. Soon every vessel capable of serving in America’s reserve combat fleet could vanish, leaving an overextended Navy with no viable backup forces. This unwise drawdown goes against Navy tradition … This flurry of ship disposal suggests the administration is getting rid of useful warships to compel construction of pricey new vessels…”

So you see, instead of allowing our magnificent (yes … magnificent) warships to live out full and useful lives, we prefer to send them to Davy Jones’ Locker while they’re still young. Easy come, easy go … just so long as they’re spending someone else’s money. But why is this asinine program in force? Well, just think of the many ‘advantages’ this policy provides:
• it gives our service personnel much needed target practice and training;
• it makes it possible for our few remaining shipyards to replace these vessels … prematurely;
• it sets up ‘make work’ programs for those few remaining shipyards;
• it wastes hundreds of thousands of tons of valuable, recyclable steel;
• it creates ‘fishing reefs’ for dozens and dozens of U.S. citizens;
• and it requires hundreds of thousands of U.S. taxpayers to pick up the tab for this profligacy.

Now think about President Eisenhower’s warning concerning the “Military-Industrial Complex”.
And think about Pogo’s memorable utterance, “We have met the enemy, and they is ‘us’”.
[“Cui bono”? Guess.]