The Cold War Boats Story
In any story, if it’s a good story, there is that which is seen, and that which is hidden.
This is especially true in stories of war.
There is the war we see; a contest of bombs and bullets, courage, sacrifice, and brute force, as we count the winners, the losers, and the dead.
But alongside this war another war is waged; a battleground in shades of gray, played out in deception, seduction, and bad faith.
The participants are strange. They are seldom what they seem, and fiction and reality blur.
This war is a wilderness of mirrors in which the truth is protected by a bodyguard of lies…
This was our war…
It is only fitting that the two wars finally converge in the darkness.
The target is no longer hidden.
The points are set, and the forces gather.
Brave men, their lives hanging in the balance, their fate unknowable, their part in history unwritten.
But who, in these last hours, will bear witness to the hidden war…unseen by history, locked away in a buried file…its tragedies and triumphs unspoken…its heroes unsung?
It is in this moment…this suspended moment, that our story waits for an ending…
~ Operation Mincement
Film Nation Entertainment, 2021
Welcome to Cold War Boats
Welcome aboard, shipmate!
The surrender of Axis powers at the end of World War Two brought an end to almost six years of death, destruction, and upheaval for a world starved for peace.
But far from the peace we had prayed for, the years following gave birth to what came to be known as the Cold War. Fearing a return to hostilities and conflict, the two principal contenders, the United States and the Soviet Union, found themselves engaged in an unprecedented and undeclared war, a war without an objective, other than conquering the fears that each protagonist imagined. It was a race without a finish line, a struggle for prestige and dominance, ostensibly without shooting, based on fear as a deterrent.
The prize for winning this bullet-less war? Survival and global supremacy.
The key to victory? Intelligence and deterrence.
The means? The occasionally maligned, persistently effective, far-reaching, terror-inspiring denizens of the deep, the submarines.
Unseen, unheard, unafraid, and unacknowledged, it was the submarine that carried out surveillance and intelligence gathering. It was submarine that patrolled invisibly beneath the sea carrying missiles that were capable of delivering death and destruction to any location on the planet. It was the submarine that took the fight to the enemy, with the threat of swift and unambiguous consequences for any who dare challenge the intentions of those that had tasted freedom. In the end, it was the submarine, patrolling quietly and ubiquitously, that ensured that the balance of world power did not devolve into a shooting war.
Intelligence and deterrence. Survival and supremacy. Silence and invisibility.
Long referred to as the Silent Service, the men of the U.S. Navy that operated the only ships ever called "boats", conquered seemingly insurmountable engineering problems, vast distances of dark and silent passage, and their own fear and trepidation to take their place as the point of the Cold War spear.
The men who fought the proxy-wars of the Cold War at places with names like Dien Bien Phu, the Golan Heights, Chosin, and Kandahar are remembered with honor because their stories are known, and recorded for generations. In contrast, the men of the Silent Service took the fight to places that cannot be named, through conditions that cannot be imagined, to do things that cannot be described, living out the tension-filled stories that will remain in the shadows forever.
Anonymity, silence, and, more than most are aware, their lives, were the price paid by those men for their service to our country.
While their stories can never be fully revealed or understood, we honor them for the freedom that comes at such a high price.
This is a place to remember the boats, the exotic ports, the never-ending missions, and most of all, the iron men of the Cold War boats.
The Cold War Boats Association exists in service to the men who served on the submarines of the United States Navy's Submarine Service between the end of World War II and the demise of the Soviet Union in December, 1992, those sailors that supported them, their families, friends, and associates.
The three-fold mission of the Cold War Boats Association is:
- Assisting shipmates from years ago in reconnecting, simply, easily, and without compromising their privacy,
- Preserving the unclassified history of Cold War submarine crews and their boats in the form of photographs, stories, artifacts, and audio or video recordings, and
- Honoring the sailors and families who sacrificed so much to help bring an end to the Cold War.
A message from the Executive Director:
If you served on a Cold War boat, the Cold War Boats Association exists for you!
If you were a spouse or family member of a Cold War submarine veteran, then the Association is for you as well.
If you supported Cold War submarines in deep submergence research, rescue, tenders, or the training pipeline, we couldn't have done it without you. You are welcome here.
As a friend or associate of a Cold War submarine veteran, what we did, we did for you, and those like you. You are also welcome.
The Cold War Boats Association cannot function without your support. Your photographs, your sea stories, your artifacts, your financial contributions, your volunteer hours in tracking down missing shipmates or administering the hundreds of boats represented here are required for the Cold War Boats Association to pursue our mission.
Please register, and consider a becoming a Patron, Sponsor, or Contributor. Visit the Sponsorships page in Disbursing for further information.
~ Brad Williamson, Executive Director
Pre/Post Cold War Boats
The Cold War Boats Association is limited by its core mission to submarines of the Cold War, which is generally considered bounded by the 1947 Truman Doctrine and the 1991 demise of the former Soviet Union.
For clarity, the Cold War Boats Association defines the beginning of the Cold War as 28 FEB 1946, which encompasses the period following George Kennan's "Long Telegram" that helped articulate the US government's increasingly hard line against the Soviets, which would become the basis for US strategy toward the Soviet Union for the duration of the Cold War.
The end of the Cold War is perhaps more clearly delineated as 26 DEC 1991 which marks the date of the dissolution of the United Soviet Socialist Republic (USSR). (For more information on the Cold War, and to understand how our cut-off dates were determined, click here to read the Wikipedia article "Cold War".)
The criteria for including a submarine in the Cold War Boats Association is rigorously defined. For a submarine to be included in the Cold War Boats Association:
- It must have been commissioned on or before 26 DEC 1991, AND
- It must either be decommssioned on or after 28 FEB 1946 OR still be in active commission.
If you are reading this, having selected a particular non-Cold War boat, it is because the submarine that you have selected was not in commission during the Cold War period as specified, and consequently is not an active part of the www.coldwarboats.org website.
What does this mean?
That depends. If you served on Cold War submarines in addition to the non-Cold War boat, you can still record your tour on the non-Cold War boat in your User Profile. While your service on the non-Cold War boat will be displayed as part of your profile, there is currently no collection of history or subset of the www.coldwarboats.org website to honor that particular submarine.
If you did not serve on a Cold War boat, don't despair. Plans are in the works to create another organization specifically for those who served following the Cold War. When, who knows? If you are registered with the Cold War Boats Association you will be among the first to know.
In the meantime, grab a cup of joe, visit the other boats of the Cold War Boats Association and learn your way around.
We are pleased to have you here!