The Terrible Hours: The Epic Rescue of Men Trapped Beneath the Sea


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Time and time again Momsen and his buddies narrowly escaped death trying to improve on the rescue capsule, and also trying to fix different parts of it that didn't work well. The book also told about early decompression chambers and various attempts to experiment with the right mixtures of various gasses to allow divers to spend more time underwater. Divers routinely took risks in experimenting with these new technologies. Sailors went underwater in submarines knowing that if anything went wrong, they would surely die.

Nov 20, Jeffrey rated it really liked it Shelves: This book is an actual historical account of real Navy action on and under the sea in In this book, you can get an idea of the sacrifice that went into creating those tables. The rescuers of the trapped submariners aboard the Squalus were mostly healthy young men. At feet these young men suf This book is an actual historical account of real Navy action on and under the sea in At feet these young men suffered nitrogen narcosis and struggled to do simple tasks in the few minutes they were allowed to stay at depth.

There were some close calls, but in over dives, no deaths. The development of the technology to save submarine crews came just in time for WWII. Charles "Swede" Momsen, leader and architect of the rescue system went on to distinguish himself in several different areas of naval activity. He was a man with a driving curiosity to understand how things worked and how to make them better, from dive tables to torpedoes that refused to explode, he couldn't leave a problem unsolved no matter the risk in the solution.

Peter Maas has written some engaging books, including Serpico and King of the Gypsies. In this one he turns the dry and crusty pages of Navy records and a personal diary into a gripping tale.

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My father used to watch episodes of Victory at Sea over and over. Peter Maas takes us back to the sea and under it and makes us feel every wave. Jun 16, Meg rated it it was amazing. I really enjoyed this short historical book. I had never previously heard of Momsen or the Squalus and I live right outside of Portsmouth, so I was stunned at how much history is right here in my own backyard. The story was engaging without becoming overdramatic. My version of the book had and afterword by the author which really shed light on the emotional state of Momsen, and delightfully, some actions that the Navy took to "make it up to him.

Jun 13, Wendy Grant rated it really liked it Recommended to Wendy by: I loved the historical aspect of this book and how it was told in a way that really brought the story to life and sometimes made me had to step back and put the book down because of the intensity of it. The fact that this was a story so close to home and also because on page the Harbor Master Shirley Holt shocked me because I'm a good friend of the Hold family was also very cool.

Momsen seemed like such a heroic and soulful kind of guy, someone who really cared and did what it took to ensure I loved the historical aspect of this book and how it was told in a way that really brought the story to life and sometimes made me had to step back and put the book down because of the intensity of it. Momsen seemed like such a heroic and soulful kind of guy, someone who really cared and did what it took to ensure the safety of future endeavors. The whole concept of the wives braving the threat that their husbands may die or did die was so very scary.

Great read if you enjoy marine history! Television was being advertised for the first time to American consumers. Europe was on the brink of war as Hitler and Mussolini signed an alliance in Berlin. These were the days before sonar and before the discovery of nuclear power revolutionized submarine design.

Dependent on battery power, submarines were actually surface ships that "occasionally dipped beneath the waves. It was accepted that there would be no deliverance. Momsen spent his career trying to save the lives of trapped submariners, despite an indifferent Navy bureaucracy that thwarted and belittled his efforts at every turn. Every way of saving a sailor entombed in a sub--"smoke bombs, telephone marker buoys, new deep-sea diving techniques, escape hatches, artificial lungs, a great pear-shaped rescue chamber--was either a direct result of Momsen's inventive derring-do, or of value only because of it.

In The Terrible Hours, Maas reconstructs the harrowing 39 hours between the disappearance of the submarine Squalus during a test dive off the New England coast and the eventual rescue of 33 crew members trapped in the vessel feet beneath the sea. It's also the story of Momsen's triumph. Under the worst possible circumstances, Momsen led a successful mission and helped change the future of undersea lifesaving. Not only has Maas written a carefully researched and suspenseful tribute to a true hero, in the process he has salvaged a long-forgotten, riveting piece of American history.

The story of this book makes it worth reading - the rescue mission of a submarine that becomes lost during a drill run off the coast of Maine in the late 's on the eve of WWII. Rescue technology was severely lacking before submarines were launched in those days, and much of what was used and developed as a result of the incident involving the Squalus would change the course of submarine naval history. The central figure in this book, "Swede" Momsen, was brilliant, extraordinary, nerves of st The story of this book makes it worth reading - the rescue mission of a submarine that becomes lost during a drill run off the coast of Maine in the late 's on the eve of WWII.

The central figure in this book, "Swede" Momsen, was brilliant, extraordinary, nerves of steel and had the clarity of mind to seemingly know exactly what to do at the right time. Not everything he did worked right the first time but he had an uncanny ability to problem solve through things that were not successful and always move forward. Very impressive how this gentleman handled himself under pressure and his leadership capabilities. Easy to see why he was well respected. The disappointment of this book was the writing. Some parts of the book where technical terms are used lack explanation so that unless you are familiar with submarine technology I am not it becomes confusing.

Drawings or a glossary would have helped considerably, or perhaps better editing. The story line did not always flow well, but the book was short enough that in a few pages it picks back up. I'm a bit conservative on my goodreads ratings, overall I give this story a 4 but the writing a 2. Feb 14, Steven rated it really liked it Shelves: Steven McCarthy English 9 Ms. The submarine could hold roughly men. In The Terrible Hours Maas explains some of the tests that the submarine has to go through to be used.

Later in the book Maas explain about a rescue involving thirty-three men. This rescue is the only reported successful rescue in history. One of the main characters is Charles Momsen. Charles is an important person in this event because he developed something that would save the lives of thirty-three men. The book The Terrible Hours is a good book.

The author Peter Maas did do a good job in writing it. I also like this book, because in the middle of it there are pictures of the submarine and crew members. I give this book a four out of five, because it is a short. This book is the type of book you can pick up, read it in a short amount of time and still enjoy it. The Terrible Hours has pages if you count the epilogue, and afterwards.

Feb 02, Nat rated it it was amazing. This is a history book that is a real page-turner. It is not just dry facts; it makes the reader root for Charles 'Swede' Momsen, anxiously reading at many points, hoping Mr Momsen will win his frustrating bureaucratic battles to get his underwater bell approved before more submariners lose their lives. Also anxiously hoping the real physical battle of his rescue effort to save the submariners in stormy seas will succeed.

A great study of how one person who has thought out a solution to an important problem can be right but still face disbelief and rejection from most of their colleagues, with no one to believe in them but themselves. How this person who believes in what they are doing and keeps trying, against stone walls at times, rebuffed, losing ground, hangs in there and tries again and again, can sometimes win and make a huge difference in life. You'll be rooting for this underdog all the way!

Jun 07, David rated it really liked it. Maas tells the true story of a great WWII-era submariner, Swede Momsen, who was an underwater innovator, tenacious fighter of bureaucracy, and All-American hero. The story focuses on the rescue operation of The Squalus, a sub that sunk to a depth of feet due to a mechanical failure and left 28 dead men and 33 survivors on the ocean floor. Momsen headed up the rescue and salvage operation using technologies that he pioneered.

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The author learned about Momsen, did extensive interviews with him, Maas tells the true story of a great WWII-era submariner, Swede Momsen, who was an underwater innovator, tenacious fighter of bureaucracy, and All-American hero. The author learned about Momsen, did extensive interviews with him, researched the rescue, and wrote articles on it in the s and 70s. Momsen, now long dead, finally gets his due. Mar 21, Mark rated it it was amazing. My brother and I went to elementary school with a boy whose father went down with the Thresher.

9780091879372 - The Terrible Hours The Epic Rescue of Men Trapped Beneath the Sea by Peter Maas

In addition, my father was a close enough acquaintance of a career naval officer who was the navigator on the Nautilus, the first nuclear-powered submarine, when it went under the Polar ice cap in — and later became Captain of the Skipjack and then the George Washington — so that we were able to tour all of those subs, even before the Nautilus was de-commissioned.

We also got to tour The Piper, a My brother and I went to elementary school with a boy whose father went down with the Thresher. We also got to tour The Piper, a World War II diesel sub, and to experience the fuel-laden, claustrophobic humidity of the atmosphere of that class of ship. As a result, perhaps this book gripped me more than it might others.

I felt like I was on the Squalus — trapped, borderline panicked, and increasingly cold. Suffice it to say it's well worth the read. Jun 01, Courtney LeBlanc rated it it was amazing. I used to work in submarine rescue for the US Navy so this story is near and dear to my heart. That said, it's a well written historical nonfiction book that reads like fiction. It's not too technical and it makes you want to keep reading to learn the fate of the sailors stuck in the submarine at the bottom of the North Atlantic Momsen is an amazing man and the submarine rescue program on a whole owes so much to his ingenuity, insight, drive, and determination.

Without him a Full disclosure: Without him a submarine rescue capability would not exist. For anyone interested in Naval history this is a wonderful read! Aug 02, Kay rated it really liked it Shelves: More than a suspenseful tale of a rescue of a downed sub, this is a tribute to one man whose dedication to one cause -- perfecting methods to rescue submariners -- was put to the ultimate test.

All the classic elements of a thriller are here, but there is also a very clear hero, if an unconventional one, in Swede Momsen, the pioneering man who invented the submarine rescue chamber. Author Maas does a good job of making the reader fully aware of the awful predicament of the sailors, contrasting i More than a suspenseful tale of a rescue of a downed sub, this is a tribute to one man whose dedication to one cause -- perfecting methods to rescue submariners -- was put to the ultimate test. Author Maas does a good job of making the reader fully aware of the awful predicament of the sailors, contrasting it with the frustration felt by Momsen.

The book is fascinating both technically and in human terms. Apr 24, Aaron Meyer rated it really liked it Shelves: This is the story of Charles "Swede" Momsen, but particularly focusing on the sinking of the Squalus and it's subsequent saving of its crew and salvaging. Momsen was instrumental in getting the Navy to change its direction on submarine development, tactics as well as life saving equipment. He could practically be considered the submariner's patron saint. Dec 28, Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it Shelves: This is the story of the rescue of the crew and the salvage of the submarine USS Squalus and the man, Swede Momsen, responsible.

Prior to this incident where Momsen was able to use techniques he developed, if a submarine sank the crew died. Very informative as it also tells the story of several crew members. Feb 25, Amy rated it really liked it Shelves: Given to me by GoryDetails. I have no fingernails and I nibbled them off while the crew was being rescued. If this hasn't been made into a movie, it would make a terrific thriller! Sep 18, Bob Schmitz rated it liked it Shelves: I picked this book because I enjoyed his other book 'Love Thy Neighbor" and only after finishing it did I realize that the other author was Peter Maass.

No wonder I found the writing so different. Momsen, a submariner, was shaken by the sinking of a submarine in and loss of all its crew and was determined to I picked this book because I enjoyed his other book 'Love Thy Neighbor" and only after finishing it did I realize that the other author was Peter Maass. Momsen, a submariner, was shaken by the sinking of a submarine in and loss of all its crew and was determined to find a way to rescue men from sunken subs. He devised the basic mechanism of undersea rescue. He figured out the mixture of oxygen and helium that could allow divers to descend feet, allowing the tapping of Russian undersea cables.

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He devised the Momsen Lung, which looked like a hot water bladder that attached onto a submariner's chest and allowed him to breathe while ascending a rope at a certain speed with certain stops along the way to go from a submerged submarine to the surface safely. He developed heated underwear to keep divers warm in the frigid depths.

Finally he developed a bell, a large metal upside down cup that could be lowered onto a submarine hatch and through which trapped submariners could escape.

He did all this with initially very little support from the Navy who considered submarines a less important branch of the Navy and considered escape from a submarine an impossible task. The story centers on a submarine the Squalus, a kind of shark, which inexplicably sank on a test cruise off the coast of Maine in feet of water. The others had been drowned in the first flooding of the aft of the sub.

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During dives over almost 3 months there was not a single injury or loss of life, an astounding accomplishment It was the deepest dive and deepest salvage to date. The story goes into great detail of the exact words, positions and actions of each submariner. I found this tiresome and not particularly interesting, enlightening or educational. An engineer might find it interesting. With Momsen's work deep-sea diving down to feet was put on a rational basis and the old nostrums of eating an apple before going down were gone.

One tidbit for NC readers: I have read in various books that in the Pacific war US torpedoes would not explode with direct hits and that initially the navy said there was nothing wrong and the sub commanders were covering for incompetence. But I have never read how this issue was finally solved and by who. Momsen who was in Pearl Harbor leading a submarine squadron when the Japanese attacked took the commanders at their word and took on the problem. Originally US torpedoes had a magnetic device which often exploded the torpedoes before they reach their target.

Momsen took a sub to a small island with a cliff going straight into the water and had it fire at the cliff. The second torpedo fired was a dud Monsen found it underwater and with help had it hauled to the deck where he dismantled the firing mechanism. He found that the firing pin crushed the some other part with a direct hit.

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Jun 07, David rated it really liked it. Catalogue Persistent Identifier https: While I felt terrible for all involved, I never really got attached to them. The Curious Science of Humans at War. Then, in May , a new sub, the Squalus , suddenly sank during initial testing. Aug 30, Joe Rodeck rated it really liked it.

As it would take months to make new torpedoes Momsen had a group in Hawaii design an adjustment to existing torpedoes to allow them to go off correctly. Momsen also devised new US submarine tactics specific for the Pacific where the distances were great and US subs so few that subs could not be used in large packs as the Germans did. He he devised a system whereby three subs would attack a convoy and communicate with each other with ultra low-frequency sound waves. He received the Navy Cross for this innovation which was used to great effect throughout the war the rest of the war.

He was then given command of the battleship Dakota which was involved in numerous engagements through the rest of the war laugh. During loading ammunition there was an explosion in the magazines of the Dakota of a type that had had occurred mysteriously occasionally in other Navy ships. Momsen asked the men what they were doing when the fire started and they were loading gunpowder which came in silk sacks. Momsen supposed that that gunpowder and the silk created static electricity that set off the powder.

The army ordinance department thought he was crazy but with enough pushing made tests. On the last day of the month long testing the simulated loading of powder in silk sacks cause an explosion and the procedure was halted With the advent of nuclear power moms saw that submarines could become a true underwater ship not a ship the traveled on the surface most of the time and drove to avoid enemy attack.

He knew that carrier dominated Navy would not be interested in funding and atomic submarine and he also knew how to get such a thing done. He knew that aircraft carrier admirals feared submarines and so he proposed his atomic submarine as a target for Navy submarine hunter killer groups. Since as a target she would not be armed Momsen made sure that only the Bureau of Ships was involved thus removing other naval interference.

He instructed the designers to do everything they could to increase the speed of such the underwater speed of such a submarine. When tested the hunter killer groups could not catch the fast new sub. These designs were used to fashion the later atomic subs. Momsen was an innovative genius.

Nov 21, Anna rated it really liked it. Amazing story about a courageous rescue and the remarkable man who orchestrated it all. The thoughtfulness and tenaciousness with which Momsen pushed the boundaries of what we thought we could achieve in terms of diving, submarines, rescue operations, etc. He also had a great leadership style and intuition to make an awesome dive master. It's no wonder his men trusted him so much.

As a diver, I especially enjoyed reading about some early research and developments in diving Amazing story about a courageous rescue and the remarkable man who orchestrated it all.

The Terrible Hours: The Greatest Submarine Rescue in History

As a diver, I especially enjoyed reading about some early research and developments in diving physiology and technology. I felt a little better about my own difficulty with basic reasoning skills at much shallower depths. The writing style is a little rough in a some places. It's not bad, but he could've used a better editor to fix a few typos and get rid of some unnecessary over-foreshadowing to small or non-problems.

Other than that, it was a really good read! Aug 30, Joe Rodeck rated it really liked it. As a Naval officer he chose submarines, then not the favored path to military rank and glory. A patient red tape and naysayer fighter, he invented the Momsen lung and the rescue chamber. This impressive pre-WWII sub rescue story is obscured by larger events that ensued.

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Highly recommended for naval historians and scuba divers. For the non-gear head like me it can numb you out with the physical science and engineering, a lot maybe that could have "Swede" Momsen was the father of undersea rescue. For the non-gear head like me it can numb you out with the physical science and engineering, a lot maybe that could have been covered by footnote: The canister of soda lime used to sop up excess carbon dioxide was replaced by on containing a casutic potash compound, Shell Natron Equally efficient as a CO2 absorbent.

Sep 17, Jean Boobar rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Author Peter Maas is a remarkable researcher who made me think he had been present during the tragic trial run of the USS Squalus that unexpectedly sunk outside Portsmouth Harbor near the Isles of Shoals. He made the principal naval personnel aboard come to life as well as providing detailed descriptions of the sequence of events, electrical, mechanical and operational that caused the sinking and enabled the eventual raising of the sub from the ocean floor.

I was spellbound at each turn of Author Peter Maas is a remarkable researcher who made me think he had been present during the tragic trial run of the USS Squalus that unexpectedly sunk outside Portsmouth Harbor near the Isles of Shoals. I was spellbound at each turn of events even though I knew the final outcome through my own family history. You must be logged in to Tag Records.

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