Testing American Sea Power
U.S. Navy Strategic Exercises, 1923–1940
Publication Year: 2007
Published by: Texas A&M University Press
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From 1923 to 1940 the U.S. Navy held twenty-one major exercises, known as “Fleet Problems.” While only a part of annual fleet training, these exercises differed from routine maneuvers and gunnery exercises. All available ships of the U.S. fleet would be assigned to one or more opposing naval forces, which were designated by a color (black, orange, blue, etc). The chief of naval ...
2. The Origins and Persistence of Mahanian Doctrine
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Henry L. Stimson, recalling his tenure as secretary of war during World War II, remarked on the “peculiar psychology of the Navy Department, which frequently seemed to retire from the realm of logic into a dim religious world in which Neptune was God, Mahan his prophet, and the United States Navy the only true church.”1 ...
3. The Airpower Pragmatists: The Fleet Problems and Naval Aviation
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A little more than eighteen months after Billy Mitchell tossed down the gauntlet in the title of his article in The World’s Work, the U.S. fleet assembled off Panama to conduct its first strategic exercise.1 At issue was the security of the Panama Canal. Vice Adm. Edward Eberle, commander of the Black fleet assigned the objective of destroying the canal, launched an air attack on the Gatun Dam spillway in the predawn hours on February 21, 1923. ...
4. Employing the “Engines of Fulfillment”: The Fleet Problems and Submarine Warfare
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Around one o’clock in the morning on May 10, 1934, submarine SS-53 was patrolling the western Caribbean in the vicinity of the Panama Canal. Attached to the Gray fleet as part of Fleet Problem Fifteen, its assignment was to intercept and attack Blue fleet, bound for an amphibious landing on a Gray island base. Cruising on the surface, the submarine encountered an ...
5. Getting a Grip on the “Jellyfish”: The Fleet Problems and Antisubmarine Warfare
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From late April to early May 1940 the U.S. Navy held its last fleet problem before World War II. Maroon fleet commander Adolphus Andrews was assigned the problem of defending Hawaii from invasion by Adm. Charles P. Snyder’s Purple fleet.1 At Andrews’s disposal was an impressive fleet of battleships, aircraft carriers, and cruisers. He also commanded eighteen ...
6. A Strategic Afterthought: The Fleet Problems and Amphibious Warfare
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Admiral Y was not some prescient navy flag officer writing behind the veil of anonymity but a fictional character fashioned by Brig. Gen. John H. Russell in 1933.1 Russell, who was the assistant commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, submitted to the Marine Corps Gazette a story of a chance meeting between a marine “Brigadier General X” and retired “Admiral Y” at the Army-Navy Club. ...
7. Re-examining Mahan: The Fleet Problems and Sea Control
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On May 2, 1794, 49 Royal Navy warships, including 34 ships of the line, put to sea from their anchorages at Spithead. Under the command of Lord Richard Howe, the fleet’s mission was to intercept a convoy of some 130 French cargo ships loaded with American grain. The convoy was so important to the French government that it instructed the fleet at Brest to put to sea immediately to protect the vital cargo as it approached Europe.1 ...
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Between 1923 and 1940, the U.S. Navy conducted major fleet exercises designed to allow senior officers to work through strategic issues in an operational setting. The exercises, known as fleet problems, were intended to simulate conditions of a future war. Yet they often reflected an inexact view of the world, vied with political reality, and cast doubts on many of the navy’s most cherished principles. ...
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Page Count: 208
Illustrations: 12 b&w photos. 1 table.
Publication Year: 2007
Series Title: Williams-Ford Texas A&M University Military History Series