the alfmeister

a figment of reality's imagination

Book Review…Submarine by Jonathon Crane


Well, that didn’t take long to read! In taking my mind of things, a book is always a good start, but it has to be engrossing, and this one is. Those who read my review on Clancy’s book of the same title will be interested to know that this book came out 8 years earlier and is more factual considering relaxing of security post-Cold War.

For those old enough to remember, and those who had any interest, this is the book to the BBC doco where we followed a few officers of the RN, Submarine Branch. This is fully RN unlike Clancy who was mostly USN with a touch of British.

The book opens with a visit to Warspite, an SSN and gives us a tour, and meet a few of the crew while she partakes in a NATO exercise. It goes through a lot of details that help you in the next section which covers Perisher, the RN’s famous (or infamous) CO’s course. This is the best part of the book, and has all the elements of good writing – heroes and villains, drama and suspense, and at time elation and despair. It is so well written it immediately took me back to the series wit fully vivid memories…now, where could I locate that again?

HMS Repulse – one of four British Polaris
Missile Boats

Following this it goes into the history of the submersible/submarine, and this is so comprehensive, I learnt more facts in this chapter on subs than I think I have in all sub books previously read. It chronicles way back in Alexander The Great through the Civil War, into WWI and WWI to the start of the nuclear age. The most fascinating parts were around the German use of the sub through the two World Wars; history I thought I was well versed in, however some new information had me floored.

The final part of the book takes us on board Repulse, a SSBN, or ‘bomber’ (boomer in USN). Being a Polaris Missile Boat, this section doesn’t go too much into detail of it’s intricacies of nuke boats, but has a good insight into the crew and the families they leave behind on eight week patrols. The figures of the food stowed on board are somewhat unbelievable.

Argentine Cruiser General Belgrano, sunk by RN
hunter-killer Conquerer during the Falklands War.

 All in all, this book is a superior insight compared to Clancy’s without too much technical knowledge allowable due to the Cold War. It also has a fantastic array of photos and diagrams to give visual reference to what is being discussed, and helping out ‘land lubbers’ with terminology. I would recommend for sub enthusiasts, reading We Come Unseen by Jim Ring.


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