Thursday, June 29, 2017
America's Secret Weapon in World War II
It's 1942 and the U.S. has just entered the World War II. Their subs patrol the Pacific and protect a vast fleet and listen for Japanese ships and subs. The U.S. relies on the newest technology at the time, SONAR which can pick up propeller sounds of vessels miles away and display them on a screen. It means the difference between being blindfolded and having Nightvision goggles.
One day the crew of a sub off of the East Dutch Indies detects something peculiar. It's a constant crackling hum that drowns out all other SONAR sounds making it impossible to detect enemy vessels. Soon others report the same noise of crackling which sounds like bacon frying in a pan. It's not a technological glitch. So what could it be?
Dr. Martin W. Johnson a marine biologist and top oceanographer is called in to help. At first, he is as baffled as the rest of them. He examines the survey reports of where the incidences occur. The spots match locations of massive colonies of pistol shrimp which are only two inches in size. Thousands can live together in colonies. Each shrimp as an oversized claw it uses to catch food. When it clacks together it creates a popping sound.
But if SONAR can't silence the shrimp and they couldn't kill them could they possibly use them to their advantage? Japanese SONAR was a weaker SONAR. If U.S. ships hide near shrimp colonies the Japanese wouldn't be able to detect them. The noise would be used as camouflage. The military distributed maps of pistol shrimp colonies to ships. It became America's secret weapon and one more tool used to help win the war.