Posted by rick brann June 17,3:
September 7Special Contributor Credit: How does America produce such men? Under siege by Athens in B. Tyre in present-day Lebanon used swimmers to cut the anchor ropes of enemy ships when Alexander the Great besieged it.
Italians at the beginning of WWII were the first to actually deploy combat swimmers in modern times.
They used swimmers with underwater breathing devices to sink three British ships at Gibraltar. Not that the United States lacked the capability for such operations.
Even before Pearl Harbor, Americans had access to a remarkable self-contained underwater breathing system developed by Christian J. Lambertsen that permitted a swimmer to breathe underwater for an hour or so without expelling telltale bubbles.
Navy showed little interest in the beginning, Lambertsen went to the U. Invasion forces preparing to land in North Africa in the autumn of faced a situation that required an unorthodox approach—combat swimmers.
Vichy French had constructed a massive boom and net arrangement across the mouth of the Wadi Sefou River near Casablanca in Morocco. Beyond, a large stone fortress bristling with mm and 75mm guns guarded the river entrance against an invasion force.
Planners recruited a demolitions expert, Navy Lieutenant Mark Starkweather, and 16 other men to clear the mouth of the river. He was the first.
On 11 NovemberCDU succeeded in blowing up the obstruction in the river and clearing the way for a successful Allied landing. That same year, the Navy began to waken to the potential of combat swimmers. It banded with the U. Instead, on 6 JuneAdmiral Ernest J.
King gave orders for the unit to shift its primary focus to underwater demolitions. The unit was so secret that virtually no one in the Navy knew about it.
Volunteers learned hydrographic reconnaissance and mapping as well as demolitions. They operated out of small boats and wore full combat fatigues with life belts and combat boots to protect their feet from coral reefs.
Hooked to safety lines, they were not expected to do any swimming. However, the tragic invasion of Tarawa in November alerted the Navy to its need for underwater surveillance.
Landing craft loaded with tanks and Marines ran aground on coral reefs surrounding the island and were cut down by murderous Japanese fire from ashore.
More Americans were killed trying to reach the island than were slain in actual fighting.
Following Tarawa, Admiral Richmond Kelly Turner, amphibious fleet commander, vowed that such a debacle would never happen again. He issued orders for the creation of special teams of men trained to scout out enemy beaches, remove natural and man-made obstacles with explosives, and guide invading forces ashore.KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax and Advisory services.
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