Books and Essays

Cold War Sea Stories

Cold War Sea S… Soviets, Subs, and … By Robert Brown

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Over the years my late wife, Barbara, always told me that I should write a book. She liked my writing, but I attributed that to the fact that we were in love and happily married. Alas, I lost her in 2016. In the yeas since her death I considered pulling all my notes and drafts about my navy experience together into a coherent document of some sort. Two months ago we went into lockdown for the Corona virus and I thought, “It’s now or never.” I had lots of time on my hands and ended up with a book. Determined to see it through for Barbara, I hired an editor and a designer who polished my work up and made it into a nice little book. I shared it with a few friends and they liked it, so I published it on Blurb. Here is a wonderful review of my book written by my friend, John Glass, a fellow SOSUS Navy vet

Cold War Sea Stories – Bob Brown (Book Review by John Glass )

Our own Bob Brown has written a book and it’s a page turner! Entitled “Cold War Sea Stories,” it’s a memoir of the tumultuous period of ‘64-‘68 – 2 years after the Cuban Missile Crisis and concurrent with the taking of the USS Pueblo – that reads like a Navy adventure story. It has all the elements – the rites of passage of a young officer, a jinxed ship, Capt. Queeg-like CO, classified ops, historical high points of the time, and a stinger of a finale.

After OCS, Bob was assigned as an engineering officer to a pair of converted ships, the USS Observation Island, a Polaris Missile launching platform first designated as a transport carrier & the USS Peregrine, a hydrophone-towing former minesweeper.

And then there’s SOSUS, which gets special treatment from the front end of the system as it were. After an introduction, the first five chapters put you right in the waters with the Peregrine, on operations in the North Atlantic. There’s a “you-are-there” quality to the narrative. The book then shifts back in time to Bob’s journey which took him from Sumter, South Carolina to the Streets of San Francisco, with plenty on interesting stops along the way.

OCS was definitely not a “knife & fork school” by Bob’s account and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Warfare school in Philly, even less so. For a twenty-something the added burden of that initial assignment to the Observation Island on a missile-launching ship during the Cold War must have been daunting. While the OI was considered good duty, the Peregrine was a 180-degree turn. An aging rust-bucket of a vessel, with a 90% turnover rate and an old-school, mustang CO, Bob as the engineering officer had his hands full. The EDO is acutely aware of where all the defects lie and there were plenty of them brought to his attention in writing by his predecessor. Will the ship return intact? Plenty of tension, but no spoilers here.

This is a well-written account of one man’s military service that should be satisfying, if not inspirational, reading for most veterans of a certain age. For others on this site and elsewhere, there will be plenty to relate to, whatever your age or walk of life. I found the historical references, shipboard operations, leadership lessons, and sea stories of particular interest. And the pictures worked well for me, each telling a story of its own. A highly recommended read this Memorial Day Weekend!

John Glass