Damn the Torpedoes – The U.S. Navy’s Most Costly Weapon Technology Failure

Course Number: M-2082
Credit: 2 PDH
Subject Matter Expert: James S. Bluma, P.E.
Price: $59.90 Purchase using Reward Tokens. Details
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Overview

In Damn the Torpedoes – The U.S. Navy’s Most Costly Weapon Technology Failure, you'll learn ...

  • How World War II torpedoes and detonators worked
  • Flaws that rendered the U.S. Navy’s Mark 14 torpedo virtually impotent during the early days of World War II
  • Testing that was done to prove to Navy brass that low detonation rates were due to defects and not because of crew inexperience
  • Mark 15 design modifications that resulted in a much higher detonation rate

Overview

PDHengineer Course Preview

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Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 20 pages

In response to rising tensions in Asia during the 1930’s, The United States Navy began developing more powerful Battleships, Aircraft Carriers and Submarines that would be needed to defeat the formidable Imperial Japanese Navy in the event of war with Japan. Following the crippling blow dealt to the Navy’s Pacific Fleet Battleships at Pearl Harbor, only the Aircraft Carrier and Submarine elements of the Pacific Fleet remained intact to oppose further enemy aggression in the near term.

Both the Carrier aircraft and Submarines utilized a slight variation of the same recently developed and highly complex torpedo as their primary anti-ship weapon. By the end of 1941, the U.S. Navy had produced a large number of the excellent Gato-Class submarines that comprised the majority of the Pacific Submarine Fleet. So advanced, rugged and heavily armed was this class of submarine that, given effective ordnance, the Pacific Submarine Fleet alone may have been able to neutralize the Imperial Japanese Navy.

The complex Mark 14 torpedo, fitted with new detonation systems had been issued by the Navy Bureau of Ordnance for use in all Pacific Fleet Submarines without ever having tested the combination. No other torpedoes could be used since the submarines had been designed around the Mark 14.

Several major flaws existed in both the torpedo and in its detonation systems and each of these flaws concealed the presence of the others. Despite having received a vast amount of incriminating combat evidence proving the existence of these defects, the Bureau of Ordnance stood by their design, reluctantly solving one issue only to expose another after many months of failures in combat.

Early in the war, a Mark 14 torpedo would properly detonate at its target less than 10% of the time. By the fall of 1943, this success rate had improved to only 30%. American submariners would not have a reliable torpedo until November, 1943 – nearly two years into the Pacific War.

This course will examine the cause of the Mark 14 torpedoes’ failures and the efforts of Navy Pacific Fleet Officers and Engineers to identify the problem and find solutions.

Specific Knowledge or Skill Obtained

This course teaches the following specific knowledge and skills:

  • Fundamental Engineering theory that was misapplied during development of the Navy’s new Mark 14 torpedoes and its new and highly secret detonation system
  • The operating principles of critical Mark 14 systems, and why they did not work
  • Pragmatic innovation demonstrated by Navy Pacific Fleet Officers and Engineers in developing tests and solutions which ultimately forced the obstinate Bureau of Ordnance to address the torpedo problems
  • How defective submarine ordnance directly affected the outcome of America’s largest military defeat during the First Battle for the Philippines which resulted in the infamous Bataan Death March
  • The Earth’s geomagnetic phenomena that affect magnetically activated ordnance
  • Policy changes within the U.S. Navy to prevent this, their darkest chapter, from being repeated
  • The unprecedented success of the Pacific Submarine Fleet once issued reliable ordnance

Certificate of Completion

You will be able to immediately print a certificate of completion after passing a multiple-choice quiz consisting of 15 questions. PDH credits are not awarded until the course is completed and quiz is passed.

Board Acceptance
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PDHengineer Course Preview

Preview a portion of this course before purchasing it.

Credit: 2 PDH

Length: 20 pages

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