Thursday, December 4, 2008

Read for Book Club: "The Terrible Hours" by Peter Maas

Read for Book Club: The Terrible Hours: the man behind the greatest submarine rescue in history by Peter Maas, 1999, 0060194804.

Good story. Charles "Swede" Momsen and his diving group save the lives of 33 crewman of the Squalus that went down during initial testing in 1939.

A quick read by Maas. Maas heard about Momsen in the '50s from one of his Navy officers. Maas asked to meet Momsen and spoke with him many times and wrote a couple magazine articles about him. in the '50s or '60s before doing this book.

Swede got interested in subs early in his career and after two went down with all hands lost started working on solutions to rescue crew. He designed and developed the Momsen Lung for crew rescue and a rescue diving bell to carry crewman to the surface.

The Squalus went down outside Portsmouth, New Hampshire and Swede is flown up from DC to lead the rescue effort. The Navy sub, Sculpin, sent to look for the Squalus was lucky to find it at all since it was over 200 feet down and the dive coordinates had been screwed up in transmission. An officer on lookout just barely caught a glimpse of a smoke rocket sent up by the Squalus.

Divers locate the Squalus, attach a line, and are able to guide down the rescue bell and rescue survivors. Maas does not get too nitty-gritty on sub details and tells a good story.

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