The miniseries Submarines: Sharks of Steel provided the first glance
into the world of submarines. It was part of the opening that occurred
after the end of the Cold War.
Director Scott Hicks did a fine job of presenting the tale, winning an
Emmy. For just over three hours hours, one will have a passing
acquaintance with the history of the submarine as it emerged from quaint
curiosity to a lethal opportunistic assassin to the nuclear-powered
predator that can deny the sea to anyone.
The first episode, The Hidden Threat, provides an outstanding overview
of the history of the submarine and the present status. The series
focused primarily on three boats: The USS Georgia (SSBN 729), an
Ohio-class SSBN; the USS Topeka, a Los Angeles-class attack submarine;
and an unidentified Typhoon-class sub, all of which were introduced in
The second episode, Submariners, focuses on the men. It is appropriate,
and it does so in an honest and frank manner that not only shows the
sacrifices these men make, but the qualities that make the submarines
the naval predators they are.
The third episode, The Hunters and the Hunted, primarily focuses on
World War II, when the submarine came of age as a co-equal partner. The
overview given is pretty good, and there is even an intriguing theory
about the sinking of the Indianapolis.
The fourth episode, In the Belly of the Beast, focuses on the training
of submariners. The primary focus is on the American submarine School in
Groton, and the British “Perisher” course. The sinking of the General
Belgrano (the former USS Phoenix) is covered in this episode.
Combining this series with Tom Clancy’s Submarine and the book (and
History Channel special) Blind Man’s Bluff will give a person a good
idea of the history and development of submarines, and their operations.
The cost will be high, as Sharks of Steel is not easily found, but the
effort and price is definitely worth it. Amazon.com will occasionally
have copies available for about $70. There is also a companion book by
Vice Admiral Yogi Kaufman, USN (ret.), available for $45.