In early 1943, the submarine USS Scorpion, with Paul R. Schratz as torpedo officer, slipped into the shallow waters east of Tokyo, laid a minefield, and made successful torpedo attacks on merchant shipping. Schratz participated in many more patrols in heavily mined Japanese waters as executive officer of the Sterlet and the Atule. At war's end, he participated in the Japanese surrender, aided the release of American POWs, and had a key role in the disarming of enemy suicide submarines. He then took command of the revolutionary new Japanese submarine I-203 and returned it to Pearl Harbor. But this was far from the end of Schratz's submarine career.
In 1949, he commissioned the ultramodern USS Pickerel, the most deadly submarine then afloat, and set a world's record in a 21-day, 5,200-mile submerged passage from Hong Kong to Honolulu. With the outbreak of the Korean War, the Pickerel was immediately sent to Korea to participate in secret intelligence operations only recently declassified and never before revealed in print. Schratz's broad military experience makes this a far from ordinary memoir.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Mr. E. Sheffield on 03-09-17
Humble and interesting military mémoire
Would you listen to Submarine Commander again? Why?
Memoir of this submarine captain's rise through the ranks, from ensign to his command on a submarine, as the most senior submarine captain in the US Navy. So this book is primarily about one officer serving on submarines. It reads as a series of anecdotes, some very funny, some tragic. The period covered is approximately 1939 starting operations in the Atlantic, his junior officer roles in the early parts of the war, his rise to executive officer on a combat submarine hunting Japanese convoys, his work on the Japanese mainland during the occupation, the uneasy peace, and finally his intelligence operations as captain aboard his own submarine at the start of the Korean war ~1950. The author did continue his career after this period however the narrative of this memoire stops around 1950 when he finishes his command of submarines. I feel like this memoire might have an unpublished sequel, covering the political half of his career in Washington?
The most enjoyable aspect of this book were the gritty reality, the day to day stories of what the military life was really like on submarines during the second world war, the mind-numbing boredom, the boisterous pranks, the frustration at commanding officers, the terror of diving below test depth, the excitement of doing a dipys doodle (driving upwards at full speed at 45 degree+ angle and pop out of the sea), missing wives, the temptations of prostitutes in port, the food, the beer. This is a full memoir of military life.
The author strikes a balance between soft stuff, his private thoughts about the officers he was serving with at each phase (including a captain he lost respect for), but we also get a lot of really interesting technical detail about what it was like to run the last two generations of diesel submarines, about the unreliable technology and ingenious solutions, hard work and various challenges of submarining.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Anne S. on 19-01-16
Biography Through Sub Command
Would you consider the audio edition of Submarine Commander to be better than the print version?
Didn't read print version so can't say
What do you think the narrator could have done better?
I found the narrator's style a bit stoic for my taste. Also, being a retired Naval Officer (not subs) a found a few Navy vocabulary not the way a sailor would have said it.
Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?
Mentioned how a shipmate who had been home for one day after at 2-yr-ish absence made the mistake of disciplining his [tween-age?] child. Hey, the instant dad returned home all was not as though he never left.
Any additional comments?
This was the real story of a real Naval Officer basically from commissioning through relief in command. It's not all general quarters and action. It's a lot of long monotonous time too. Painted a decent picture of the family separation and it's impact.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
By Jean on 24-12-15
I have toured a number of WWII Gato class WWII fleet boats and have been fascinated by them and the men that manned them. Captain Schratz provides the lay person with an interesting exciting view of life as a submariner. Schratz also provides a look at the life of a Navy family and how difficult it can be for a wife particularly during wartime.
The author provides lots of anecdotes and insights into the life of the men on board as well as Navy bureaucracy. I particularly enjoyed Schratz’ occasional forays into the strategic and overarching military concerns of the day most helpful in understanding more about WWII submarine warfare. Most of the book deals with WWII but I found the section about life after WWII in the navy most interesting particularly with the creation of the new Porpoise class of submarines. Schratz was the first commander of the USS Pickerel and set a number of world records with the boat.
The book is well written and easy to read. The back and forth between discussions of the men he served with and information of War patrols and the equipment kept the book moving. John N. Gully did an excellent job narrating the book. The book was moderately long at 15 and ½ hours. If you are interested in Submarines or the Navy this book will provided good insights.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful