[lit-ideas] Re: Homeland defense

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Sat, 24 Feb 2007 19:13:21 -0800

On Feb 24, 2007, at 3:17 PM, Robert Paul wrote:

In the case of Ft. Stevens v. Japanese Navy, the score was Japanese
Navy 1, Ft. Stevens 0. A Japanese submarine shelled the fort in June, 1942.
The fort's batteries did not return fire because (1) somebody falsely
concluded that the submarine, which could be seen from the fort, was
'out of range,' and (2) somebody else didn't want to fire because it
would disclose the location of the guns to the enemy who were already
shooting at it.

I have wondered about the decision of the commander. His reasoning, as far as I can tell, was as follows:

I am in charge of a well-concealed gun, one with the ability to pop up on hydraulic lifts and blast away at a suitable target. Does this submarine and its pop gun count as a suitable target? Are they perhaps firing in order to figure out where exactly the gun is? Will they be able to tell their homeland anything if I blast them out of the water? What if I miss? Then they know where we are and were, say, a battleship to appear off the coast, we'd be in deep trouble. Thus the better part of valor may be to keep quiet and keep them guessing. Particularly as the rest of the coast hereabouts isn't defended at all.

As it turned out this was his only potential target ever.

My favorite memory of Fort Stephens--maybe I've mentioned it here previously--is of a French gun of First World War vintage. Inscribed on the barrel are two messages, one high falutin', words about patrie and gloire and all that stuff. The other message is plainer, "Pay attention to the recoil."

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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