Necessity has mothered many inventions down through the ages. She has also mothered a whole new type of naval combat unit, and the men who go with it: the underwater demolition teams and their "Frogmen," the human torpedoes who compose them.
It all really began back in Revolutionary days, when the sailors of our infant Navy heroically attacked with underwater torpedoes the menacing British men-of-war anchored in our harbors. Other nations were quick to see the possibilities of such tactics and have since developed this underwater combat technique along with us.
Our first use in modern times of these underseas demolition teams was during the early amphibious operations of World War II. It was suddenly obvious that some sort of missions would have to be undertaken to clear proposed invasion beach areas, and their offshore waters, of both natural and man-made obstructions, mines, and entanglements.
The first underwater demolition team was composed of Seabees from the NCB Training Center at Camp Peary, Virginia. These men were chosen mainly because of their knowledge of blasting with high explosives. The first volunteers answered the call on May 6, 1943, to form the original UDT.
Since then the Frogmen, as they were promptly nicknamed because of their tight rubber suits and long froglike rubber flippers, have learned a bagful of tricks to confound out enemies in waters around the world. And they are stuffing these bags with new ones every year.
The purpose of the UDT's is, first of all, to conduct pre-assault hydrographic reconnaissance of the objective areas. This may be done from a submarine under the cover of night, or even in broad daylight under the protection of heavy shell fire from supporting craft. Purpose number two is to remove obstacles which might hamper assault landings or other invasion tactics; and chore number three is the cleaning up of the waters adjacent to the landing areas after the amphibious operation has been completed. This includes removal or destruction of beached or sunken ships, blasting channels for supply ships, etc.
The basic training program of the Frogmen includes fifty-six subjects which must be learned for keeps in two months of intensive training. They stress initiative, self-decision, and the ability to fend for oneself in any emergency.
One unique feature of the training of the Frogmen is that officers and enlisted men alike take the entire course, and that they all work together on missions, regardless of rank. Any Frogman can take over any other Frogman's work if need be.
The hazardous nature of the work nevertheless demands strict discipline, and the members of the UDT units have never been lacking in either discipline or enthusiasm for their dangerous work.
Theirs is a combat operation, and they function as a combat team. Each UDT is a commissioned unit. It is completely self-sustaining, with its own supply, medical, communications, and administrative services.
Underwater demolition teams have not upheld the honor of our Navy's past history, but, in fact, have lifted it a bit higher than ever before through their high courage, resourcefulness, high morale, and under-fire heroism.
I should like to dedicate this book to these human torpedoes, the Frogmen of the U. S. Navy's underwater demolition teams, one of the newest units of our Navy and already one of the most outstanding for courage and heroic tradition. They richly deserve the traditional Navy Accolade: "WELL DONE!"
I must express my sincere appreciation to Lieutenant Theodore Taylor, USN, Head, Magazine and Book Branch, Office of Information, Department of the Navy; Lieutenant (jg) Dean H. Fritchen, USN, Magazine and Book Branch, Office of Information, Department of the Navy; and to the U. S. Naval Film Library, for their splendid cooperation in helping to make this book possible.
C. B. Colby
Go to page: cover, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 28, 29, 30, 31, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 41, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48
or return to HOME