View Full Version : Interesting citation on the effectiveness of "keel" shots

05-31-2009, 08:22 AM
I will be posting this in the SH3 forum as I would be very interested in reading other people's thoughts on this topic.

on 26 March 1943, the Bureau of Ships (BuShips) drove another nail into the Mk. 6's coffin. In a letter from BuShips chief, Vice Admiral E.L. Cochrane to Blandy [BurOrd chief] regarding the most effective depth at which to achieve torpedo hits, Cochrane took the opportunity to comment on the supposed advantage magnetic influence explosions beneath a ship's keel:

"Except for ships fitted with torpedo protections systems, the Bureau [BuShips] is unable to see any great advantage in obtaining non-contact hits under the bottom" *

The Bureau of Ships housed the Navy's foremost ship designers and naval architects. The BuShips' engineers studied torpedo damage on scores of ships, including those of foreign navies. For them to conclude that the MK. 6 magnetic feature offered no advantage over contact exploders (except on large capital ships) was a devastating revelation to BuOrd, who cited the effect of magnetic influence explosions in defense of charges levied against the MK 6 by the operational submariners.

Newpower, A (2006) Iron Men and Tin Fish London: Praeger Security International p. 147

* Citation for Cochrane quote:

Letter from Vice Admiral E. L. Cochrane to Blandy, 26 March 1943, RG 38, Correspondence of the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, National Archives

This is an interesting piece of information. I have always read that under keel shots are the preferred way to destroy a ship. But in my more cynical moments, I wonder if this is not one of those issues where because it is repeated so many time over so many years that it becomes accepted as fact.

In reading this type of information, one must always keep in mind the intra-service rivalry between BuOrd and BuShips. But I find it hard to believe that Vice Admiral Cochrane would deliberately lie.

And as always, when interpreting and analyzing history, it is most important to only consider the information the participants had at that time.

So my question is: Only considering the data available in or before 1943, Do you think that Admiral Cochrane's comments were valid?

05-31-2009, 12:30 PM
From what I read in various texts it seems that BuOrd did not do their homework with regards to the magnetic exploder and other issues with the torpedoes early in the war. On paper an under the keel explosion is an ideal way to sink a ship providing the device works. It saddens me to think that BuOrd was in denial of the torpedo problems for so long. I am thankful that Lockwood stood up to them and helped turn the tide of the war.

05-31-2009, 12:47 PM
Ah yes the BuOrd the thing all submariners felt much disdain for the same guys who insisted there was nothing wrong with mk.14s!I'd say no only Adm.Lockwood belived that there was something wrong with mk.14s. An under the keel shot is the best way however no one understood how the magnetic feilds of the earth worked well enough to make it work right the US, England and Germany all had mag dets and they all failed more than they worked. In modern times we can make things that dont get "confused" by mag feilds but not in WWII.