Lens of History (18): the Silent Service

STEC Archives, Auditory Recording Division
Curator signature: Tautog
Format: Audio Tape
Object: Excerpt of Interview Segment with Admiral Michael Yin on the Real News Hour
Location (if known): STEC Archives
Time (if known): UNKNOWN

Curator’s note: Allan Harvey is a well-known radio broadcaster and talkshow host knownfor his bluster and his catchphrase, “PREPARE FOR NEWS!” . He is heard on over 1500 radio stations, including some 550 Armed Forces stations.

A: Now, Admiral. Thank you for joining me here today. I’ve got plenty of questions I’d wanna ask ya but I figure I’d go through some questions from my listeners first. That fine with you?
M: Yes, of course.

A: Okay. “What was the first assignment you were given upon joining the Special Task and Evaluation Command?”
M: I was given command of the newly formed SUBCOM.

A: SUBCOM. Let me guess. Submarine command?
M: Submarine Shipgirl Command, but close enough.

A: Okay. That actually makes a fair lot of sense to me, given how instrumental the Silent Service turned out for the Abyssal War. Now, could you have ever foreseen, and I mean foreseen, STEC’s subgirl force turn out the way it did?
M: Certainly. The girls were wonderfully sharp and excellent to work with. I’d say that even in those early days, I knew we had the right idea going forward.

A: Now, is this still classified or not because if it is my apologies for asking. I know that much of it still remain hush-hush, but could you tell us how many subgirls STEC had at the time they pulled you in?
M: [Laugh] Actually, at the beginning, there was only one.

A: And who might that be?
M: That’d be [AUDITORY STATIC], who’s currently sitting across from you. She took care of me every step of the way. To say that I’m grateful –
A: [Chuckles] Of course! Of course! Ah. I should have known. Of course.

A: Now, correct me if I’m wrong, Admiral Yin, but I did do my homework before inviting you on the show. I’ve got in front of me the Official U.S. Monograph of the Special Task and Evaluation Command. Says here that … “By 1986 SUBCOM was already engaging in significant counter-Abyssal operations.” You said there weren’t many subgirls at the time, so that must have been a lot of work on you, am I right?
M: Well, yes. But you do have to remember that there were other subgirls on base. They just weren’t formally placed under a subgirl-specific command. Some of the household names that people are familiar with are, in fact, from that era.

A: I see. I see. That’s interesting to know. At the time you took command, roughly what sort of shape was STEC SUBCOM in? I know there’s a lot of wild tales out there so I figure we’d set things straight.
M: You know, it’s an interesting story. While we didn’t start with nothing, it was pretty clear that most of the focus was on – on the surface gals. The battleships and aircraft carrier girls in particular.

They were emblematic of World War II ships after all, and the Abyssals seemed to counter our current modern tactics. So the thought went, maybe we’d be shifting back a bit to World War II-styled tactics. A return to the basics, if you want to think of it like that.

Now, a big job of the submarine back in WWII was commerce raiding, so what use is a commerce raider to an enemy who seemingly doesn’t even require supply lines? Not much use there, right? So there wasn’t a lot of thought about how to use each subgirl to the best of her potential. Then, as I found out, there wasn’t much spending on it either. Actually there hasn’t been much efforts on it at all.

A: Makes sense. Makes sense. But, Admiral, as you know, things do change. So what happened?
M: So, I ended up bringing it up with Admiral Rickover in passing. About the state of the submarine girls and our underwater warfare capabilities. Guess what happened?

A: Hymen Rickover’s a tough cookie. I grew up hearing stories about his leadership and creation of our modern nuclear navy, which includes plenty of submarines. It sounds like the STEC SUBCOM wasn’t doing much, and I can’t imagine him being very happy about that.
M: Pretty much. You ever seen the KOG when he’s angry? Definitely not someone you want to see. He can be loud. He’s very intimidating. Many an argument I’ve seen him win just with the sheer magnitude of his personal force but I’m getting off the point.

Anyways, so I tell him that we’re lacking a bit in the submarine department. Show him my report. He got ANGRY. Really angry.

A: So what happened next?
M: He demanded to know whose brilliant idea it was to cut spending and slack off on his submarine force. Said he’d fire immediately whoever’d done it.

A: Uh huh. And?
M: Well, SUBCOM got a pretty massive infusion of funding. It never had a lack of resources after that.
A: [laughs] I guess you came in at a good time, then.
M: Yeah. I got the job pretty much soon after.

A: Now, you said massive infusion of funding. Now, from my understanding, STEC’s still running a pretty tight ship at the time?
M: STEC has always ran a tight ship, both then and now. At the time, we had already fully reached financial independence. In fact, our operational costs accounted for less than 0.03% of the Navy’s annual spending. I’d like to think that we’re good at trimming the fat, especially if you’ll recall. Avalon base became operation just a bit before that.

A: You know, come to think of it, I have a question of a personal curiosity that I was hoping you’d ah, indulge.
M: Go ahead, I’m ready.
A: I understand that STEC has traditionally given its commanders a great deal of independence and flexibility to get the job done. You yourself exemplified this approach. However, in those very early days, was it also like that? Was the culture of STEC the same as it is today?
M:  Pretty much. Like all force or specialist commanders I had one person to report to, and in this case that would be Admiral Rickover, who served as the head of STEC. In my case I had a co-Director, New Jersey, but in general we were left to our own devices.

A: You mention New Jersey. Were there any other shipgirls intimately involved in your development of the SUBPAC, SUBNOM, the ah, subgirl program?
M: “STEC is a family and we look out for each other.” That’s a motto that gets brought up often. I’d say that every shipgirl we had were more or less involved in some fashion. This includes even the non-STEC affiliated shipgirls present who contributed significantly.

A: This sounds like a story in the making. laughs Say, Admiral, you ever think about writing some of this stuff down?
M: I’ll get to it! [laughs]
A: [Laughs] Sure, that’s what they all say.

M: Actually, you know, I’d have to given plenty of credit to the older “mom-boats.” Okay, maybe not old… they’ll probably kill me for using that term –
A: [laughs heartily]
M: but it’s what we call the girls who showed up with earlier generation equipment. You’d expect that their aging equipment to be a liability, but turns out, those were very helpful in both the development of subgirl equipment and how we used that equipment. Their willingness to help out with every aspect of training in combat and non-combat roles was very helpful.

A: With age comes experience, right? [laughs] Now, Admiral, I know exactly what you mean. I married an older woman too. Did you know my wife actually coached me and proofread my speeches? A whole lot of my success is thanks to her!
M: [laughs] No, no I did not. But yes, with age comes experience. Dolphin, for instance, basically single-handedly trained every generation of subgirls that came after her. Pantera, Bonita, the other girls, they were pretty much mother figures to the younger ones. You see, subgirls are girls too, of course, they need support like everyone else.

A: Pantera, Pantera, that doesn’t sound like no fish to me.
M: She’s a Soviet subgirl. If you’ll recall at the time, we were already hosting shipgirls from other nations who were interested in joining forces with us.

A: Of course. You know, I’ve always been fascinated by your, and well, STEC’s clandestine actions. Would have never thought that the Reds were working together with us given how the rhetoric is. Laugh] Definitely one for the history books.
M: Indeed! I think many of us are grateful for the Soviet high command for letting her stay with us. It makes a lot of sense, honestly, since that was a time where Abyssal incursions picked up significantly, and it made far more sense for us to concentrate our forces where we can.

A: Were there other foreign shipgirls present under your command at the time?
M: At the very beginning?
A: Yes, at the beginning.
M: Surcouf was a bit of a troublemaker at first, but she shaped up after. I’d chalk a fair bit of our more unorthodox tactics and non-standard loadouts to her.

A: Now, I just realized. Should have asked this earlier. Was working with the SUCOM, gah, whatever. Subgirl force your first choice?
M: Yes. Though you wouldn’t have guessed that would be the case. I actually started out where you’d expect me to start at.
A: [sounds of pages flipping] Surface warfare?
M: Yup. Surface warfare. Like I said, there was plenty of crossover, and my earlier, earlier years with STEC was very multi-role.

A: Okay. Now, another question from our listeners. “What was the biggest challenge you faced when starting up?”
M: Frankly? I think it’s the fact that nobody had any idea what they were doing.
A: Interesting.
M: I certainly didn’t. Think about it. If the stuff in the book doesn’t work, you’re going to have to rewrite the book. Strategics, tactics, all had to be rewritten. Entire production pipelines had to be set up. Logistical networks and intelligence channels developed. The Abyssals were crafty. The moment you thought you had something figured out they’d throw something new at you, so anything we come up with had to have a pretty large degree of freedom to it. It’s as the old saying goes, no plan ever survives the battlefield.

Not to mention, at that time, fairies were marginally helpful at best and accidentally helpful at worst. Getting them to do something you want them to do was a headache, but well, you just gotta do it.

Yeah, I’d say that the biggest challenge was that. We just kept on doing it until we got better at it. That’s all.