Silent Service: Hata

Tautog! Do you need some help?

I’m fine. Thanks! Plus, you’re already gonna be helping me tons today. I’m just trying to figure out what’s the best way to organize what we’ve got today.

Um, I think maybe we should tell my story first, and then get into the history stuff. It kind of explains why the NKT acted the way they did. 

But, if on the other hand people generally don’t know about Japanese submarine doctrine, then I think it’ll make sense to explain as we go along.

I-is the recorder on? 


Ookay. Hello.

Um, Dolphin, we just need you to –



You’re probably wondering how STEC’s ended up with a lot of Japanese shipgirls. The simplest answer is Japan’s America’s greatest ally, and allies support each other militarily. So while American shipgirls are um, perfectly welcome in Japan, we go outta our way to respect cultural norms and leave Japan’s defense largely to Japan. So we don’t send our people there unless asked.

Them, on the other hand? Do I need to remind you that the NKT is basically like everything else Japanese in our day and age: stubborn, contradictory, and hilariously quagmired in personal politics. Shipgirls are still legally classified as property, but the slight upside to this is that this means also that they aren’t restricted by other aspects of Japanese law. They don’t like it when Soryu shows up to our Saturday Night All You Can Eat BBQ Nights, for instance, but like, what law do you persecute her under? “Judge please give me a restraining order telling my Toyota it cannot go have fun with the Americans.”

Yeah like that’s gonna work. So, instead, it’s largely based around cultural etiquette, social norms, and the shipgirl’s own take and values. Anything more on that, and you’re gonna have to shut down the recording to get.

Got it? Good. 

Now, Hata’s technically and legally a transfer, so she’s on permanent station here unless she wants to go back. How this happened is a pretty long story, but the short version of it is that during a routine NKT visit, Admiral Yin noticed a half-starved shipgirl lugging around boxes in the NKT HQ. Part of their culture over there is that a lot of the Teitoku likes to order their shipgirls around doing menial labor or other trivial tasks to showcase dedication or loyalty or whatever whenever there’s a gathering. Again, don’t ask. I’m just telling you what I’ve seen. 

Mike asked the interpreter who the sad-looking girl is, and the NKT representative said matter-of-factly that that one’s I-202, a “no good subgirl.”

Now, they weren’t stupid to just give her over to us, but Mike didn’t exactly get to where he is by missing opportunities like this. From our point of view, any shipgirl has great potential. So if she’s not getting the support she need to thrive, we could give her the space needed to grow at STEC within our thriving subgirl program. 

What was the issue with her, if you’re wondering…

Well, maybe it’s time to let the girls themselves talk. Eh? Tautog? How’s that. Or do you want more?

I do want to point out that they’ve got a lot of subgirls. It’s definitely sufficient for the NKT’s own war plans. This is a case where the NKT believes its own doctrine to be functionally infallible, and so under their framework, there really isn’t a place for me…

Another way I have heard it described is that the battle plan is much like a bridge, with each shipgirl as a pillar of support. If you cannot perform adequately, you endanger the entire operation. So, it is better to make a plan where there are only five supporting pillars rather than six supporting pillars but one is weak. 

Well, we’re all glad to have you around.

Aw, you’re making me embarrassed…

W-well, it’s always awkward for people to talk about stuff they aren’t good at, right? So if anything I think it’s super brave that you’re willing to share.

I have a lot to learn from my seniors, and I want to do my utmost to help defend humanity! So of course I need to be aware of my own faults. Teehee. 

Hata’s biggest issue was more that her natural talents don’t fit very well with the NKT’s way of fighting. Honestly, it’s kind of a mixed bag. Until the Abyssals hit in force we won’t know if they got the right idea or not, so for all our sakes let’s hope they know what they’re doing.

Essentially, NKT subgirl doctrine’s straight outta their historical WW2 playbook. High-level, as Jer would say, the focus is on maritime control. Makes sense for Japan as a strategic objective, right, being an island nation and all. Submarines, or subgirls, play a key role in that against potential Abyssal invasion as we’re the only underwater specialists that can control what’s below the seas. 

Yes, and to an NKT subgirl, stealth, positioning, and our ability to move unseen are taught as our greatest assets. A significant point is made to stress that we are far more fragile than our opponents and only has one chance to strike the killing blow, but with proper technique and willpower, you can overcome impossible odds. 

Like I said, straight outta their old playbook, but adapted to Japan’s unique modern circumstances. Unlike RN-STEC or us which has essentially the entire world to cover, the NKT’s primary goal is to defend the waters immediate to and adjacent Japan’s. Given what we all know of the Abyssal’s mode of operation, the whole decisive big battle thing isn’t too far fetched. So, in that sense, subgirls are strictly to be scouts and auxiliaries, engaging targets of opportunity from positions of stealth and acting as the fleet’s primary reconnoiters. 

Doctrinal changes come slowly. The NKT are more than happy to adjust and re-develop their plans, and this is a case where information from our intelligence networks such as MERLIN can supplement and (in theory) supersede what they have.

But then again, Yamato prefers to drill her fairies using their natural vision rather than technology, so, eh…

Even taking consideration of new technology like MERLIN, it still doesn’t excuse the fact that I did abysmally on all the other parts that mattered. The NKT wanted a cohort of underwater shinobi, and I wasn’t it. They had expectations that I would be another high-performer like the other “late-war” subgirls, and I wasn’t it. 

I think we tend to think of super prototypes as wonder weapons, but historically they were anything but. None of the three I-200 series boats saw real action, and while they were of advanced design, they were also really finicky and fragile when it comes to their internal machinery. As it turned out, the one thing I was exceptionally good at was not important to the NKT.

Oh yeah. Hata still owes me a new pipe.

I thought we bought you one last month.

Did you? Well, another one won’t hurt. Haha.

Yeah. So, there I was. Eating real portions with what’s-her-name at Her Majesty’s favorite steakhouse when Narwhal wanders in and tells me about it all. Told me Mike wanted to test her first thing tomorrow using the course we give to all our STEC subgirls. Told me a bit about her circumstances too. So I thought to myself, can’t hurt, right?

So I set up the usual. Standard underwater maneuvering. 25 cycles. Full contact. You miss a green hoop and we’re done. You miss a target and we’re done. Honestly she looked pretty scared to me, and yeah, definitely haven’t been eating well. But you know she’s also got this look in her eyes. I was gonna go easy and tell her to do 15, but y’know, I thought to myself. Fairness is what fairness does, right? Or something like that?

Anyways. So. She doesn’t even have gear. Just testing the natural “super” abilities of the shipgirls, but the second she got into the water it’s like, goddamn son of a bitch WOW. I’ve seen fast and I’ve seen FAST, and I’m seeing, F-A-S-T. 

Like a damn bullet in the water. 

Yeah. I’ve never seen Dolphin drop her pipe before, except in –

Yeah. She was damn fast. If it’s one of those feel good cartoon things you know she’d turn out to be a real hidden gem, just nobody noticed. 

I’m sorry that I didn’t obtain a passing grade as a whole! I really did do my best at the time!

Yeah, and you still gotta remember, we don’t really have automatic failures like the NKT in our programs. You get it right or you do it again. Anyways, by the time we’re halfway done with the course pretty much a small crowd’s gathered to watch. All of us were pretty impressed. Like, we’ve all done our homework. Went through your files. We know your aim’s somewhere between Lori and Dr. Lawrence, your endurance is pretty poor, and you’re pretty below-average when it comes to standard wolfpack practices. But all that stuff? That can be taught, and I was gonna bet my hat that I can make you work.

Anyways, here. I got everyone’s files here. You can take a look. Your assessment, for the record, was “BELOW AVERAGE OR AVERAGE AT MOST EXCEPT FOR UNDERWATER MANEUVERING (Exceptional; new record + top of her class). HAS SIGNIFICANT POTENTIAL.”

Aaawaaaaaaa, well, um… 

It means you did really well. Dolphin hands out a ton of NEED IMPROVEMENTS or I EXPECTED BETTER or ARE YOU SURE YOU’RE A SUBMARINE or other less than savory comments. Heh.

Huh. This sheet says Tautog: E for Excellen –

Gimme that. 

ANYWAYS. So, with that. We welcomed Hata to STEC. 

Okay! So, now that we know a bit about your background and how you came to be, why don’t we continue with the introductions?

Hello! Well, I am the subgirl I-202. Everyone here call me Hata. Pleased to make your acquaintance!

Generally, subgirls are organized under their historical counterpart’s classifications. This particular type of submarine fell under several names, and you may see it referred to as the “High speed submarine, large type,” “Submarine high speed type,” or simply “Underwater high speed submarine large type.” Whatever it may be, though, as you can see, speed is the key theme here, teehee!

Hata is one of the fastest subgirls around! You really should see her in action. 

Aw, I’m embarrassed… 

Well, it’s true.

Yes, but we must not be too quick to make assumptions since none of these submarines ever saw action. Of course, we do know that shipgirls don’t simply mirror whatever our historical counterparts are or do, but it does often serve as a useful point of reference. A stereotype if you would like to think of it that way. 

So, I think we offered some explanation for historical Japanese doctrine when it comes to submarines. It is sufficient to say that expectations were not met. Part of the reason why there was thinking to develop a higher speed submarine was that it was soon clear that the Japanese submarines at the beginning of the war were simply ill-suited for their intended task. Doctrine calls for the attack of fleet units, preferably large capital ships, but it was hard for submarines to try to catch the fast-moving American carriers or to redeploy in time to meet surprise American attacks. Even harder was the simple fact that Japan did not really concentrate its submarines into coherent or even organic forces – the undersea arm was too busy doing everything from trying to bomb the American coast to running supplies to the beleaguer Army units to trying to scout out heavily fortified Allied positions!

In a roundabout way, my historical counterpart’s inception was a belated way for Japan to compensate for its weaknesses in submarine design. In general, I would say that Japan has excellent torpedoes on its boats, they are generally of good size, generally well armed, and reasonably fast on the surface. However, their underwater performance was very poor relative to the other navies, and the limitations in diving depth, maneuverability, and stealth would prove to be devastating. Tautog mentioned earlier that Japan did not emphasize ASW. This also meant that counter-ASW measures were lacking for many Japanese submarines. 

The Sen-taka’s high speed underwater was meant as a solution towards this issue. As envisioned, these fast submarines would strike, and then rapidly break off contact against enemy ASW once the strike was complete. How these submarines were meant to be used was not particularly clear beyond the rigid framework of “supporting the battle fleet.” I have seen in some works these submarines are classified as fleet submarines, and I think while that is technically true, my historical counterpart’s range was atrocious (approximately a quarter of say, the standard Japanese submarine’s at the start of the war). In short, I feel like this would have been a remarkable design if the war was going well. To borrow a term from Batfish, it comes to me as if it is a “win more” weapon rather than something like the T-34. 

Though to be honest, the strike-and-get-out thing tend to be what we have you do, which you’re really great at. 

Well, I think all of us subgirls are good at the “strike and get out,” but yes. The Admiral certainly has an eye for our strengths, and in general I am part of the rapid response or second-strike of subgirls. Endurance is something that I am still working hard to improve –

To explain a bit here. The “endurance” she’s speaking of refers to the enhanced state in which she can kick her gear into shape to provide her with a boost of speed. Her rigging has the best performance for this specific thing – no surprise given the historical I-202, no?

W-well, I meant the other endurance too. I tire out more easily than the other subgirls…

Eh, you’ve been getting better though.

Hata would like to get better than better! If I can go as long as Narwhal without my performance slipping, I feel my high speed would be a great help in our underwater defense strategies! I love the fact that subgirls are just as important as any of the other shipgirls in STEC, and I want to do my best for everyone and show the strength of the subgirls!

You know, there was something I kind of wanted to ask you about. You had your fairies and crew, but your gear didn’t materialize until you moved in here. Any idea what the reason for that might be?

Cusk says it got lost in magical fairy mail.

…Do you believe her?

Cusk also say it could be because my historical counterpart was untested, so conceptually it was harder for it to be created to suite me. Or maybe it was a test and I had to first prove myself worthy. You know how samurai do not get their proper honors until your first battle? Something like that.

Or maybe there are other reasons involved. But it would be impossible for us to confirm those ideas unless the NKT admits it themselves. There are rumors that some of them are confiscating shipgirl gear with the assistance of some of the Japanese girls in an attempt to bolster their technological capacity, but I don’t think that has anything to do with me, since I don’t recall ever having my own equipment to begin with.

Maybe if you did, you would have done much better in their tests. Then we wouldn’t have you here, hah?

I don’t think so. Do you remember how often I’d overload the equipment in those very early days? Almost half of our data on shipgirl clothing damage came out of my um, accidents…

… (Yeah, I don’t know what to say about that…)

It’s okay! We also learned from those that bikinis can be fixed easily! 

Technically that’s a slingkini. I mean, when you walked out with that the first time I think we all went woah. It wasn’t what we’d have expected.

Yamato Nadeshikos are supposed to be quietly strong with an iron-clad will! Plus, I picked it out myself! I’m not a fan of the school swimsuit style that is popular with a lot of the girls back home. The undercurrents of history is too negative with those. Since a shipgirl’s battle dress is a bit like the costumes actors put on for Noh, I wanted to pick something that was suitably iconic so that people who “get” me would notice.

…But modernized, right? I don’t see the traditional Japanese loincloth –

Hmm, those have a unique issue in that they are very masculine in cultural connotations. They are sexy, and they are definitely Japanese, and actually me and the other shipgirls in the History club sat down the other day and found that they may have been worn by Japanese women at least all the way up to the Muramochi period. 

But! I think it will take many more years for them to lose the masculine connotations. Kind of like how in America, we once thought pants were a boy’s thing, right, but now everyone wear them?

Actually I think we only have one shipgirl who specifically picked pants at STEC so far so you know…


Well, the rest of the outfit is themed around the Kaito, with traditional colors and accessories. I thought it would be a nice nod to my own background, which is one of complexities and paradoxes. They say that the maidens of the sea are quickly dwindling due to changing times, right? So maybe I’ll still be around to be a witness, even if they aren’t. Maybe when this war ends, I’ll work at one of those cultural sites for a living. I’d be good at it, teehee!