National Geographic : 1965 Feb
once told me. "Almost three-fourths of the earth's surface is water," noted the admiral, who is Atlantic Fleet Commander of Cruisers and Destroyers. "Planes from carriers, mis siles launched from ships on the surface or under it-these can reach anywhere." All our fleets are designed, of course, to permit effective action on any level of a cold or hot war. Besides the attack carrier strik ing force, a fleet contains an amphibious force, mobile logistic support force, mine force, and patrol force. It also relies on an antisubmarine carrier group, known as a hunter-killer, or HUK, unit. Another impor tant element is the airborne early warning force, sometimes called the barrier force. Cruisers and destroyers operate with at tack carrier and antisubmarine carrier groups. Besides providing air defense and protection from submarines, they carry long-range mis siles and heavy guns for shore bombardment. Each fleet also has numerous submarines. In training exercises, they often act as the "enemy" to furnish the edge of realism in fleet antisubmarine actions.* The Navy lays great emphasis on its am phibious force of attack transports, attack cargo ships, landing ships, beach landing craft, and helicopter assault aircraft carriers. It can put Marines quickly ashore anywhere in the world-and sustain them. How fast can the Marines move? Gen. Wallace M. Greene, Jr., Commandant of the Marine Corps, gave me a succinct answer: "From its Okinawa bases, the Third Marine 172 Division, Reinforced, with its artillery, tanks, and initial logistical support, can be on its way within 12 hours. Teamed with it in sup port will be the First Marine Aircraft Wing, also based in the western Pacific." The mobile logistic support force, a vital outfit, keeps auxiliary ships at sea constantly throughout the world, carrying food, fuel, ammunition, and other supplies to the combat vessels (pages 178-9). Operating in both Atlantic and Pacific, from land bases, the airborne early warn ing group sends out its long-range planes, with their powerful radars, to fill gaps of surveillance (page 180). The mine force, especially important in shallow offshore waters, clears mined chan nels, while the patrol force conducts antisub marine surveillance and search-and-rescue operations. "Fighting Lady" Hunts Down Subs To get a taste of antisubmarine warfare, I flew to the aircraft carrier Yorktown, then serving with ASW Carrier Division 19. The division was taking part in a Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) exercise, called Sea Serpent, in the South China Sea. We landed on Yorktown in a Grumman C-1A, the Navy's rugged, twin-engine per sonnel and mail-hauling "carrier on-board delivery" plane, or COD. I have set down in COD's on carriers many times; yes, and been *See "Our Navy's Long Submarine Arm," by Allan C. Fisher, Jr., NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC, November, 1952.