The Terrible Hours

The Terrible Hours

The Man Behind the Greatest Submarine Rescue in History

Book - 1999
Average Rating:
Rate this:

On the eve of World War II, America's newest submarine plunged helplessly to the North Atlantic bottom during a test dive. Miraculously, thirty-three crew members still survived. While their wives and girlfriends waited in nearly unbearable tension on shore, their ultimate fate would depend on one man.

In this thrilling true narrative of terror, heroism and courage in the depths of a malevolent ocean, prizewinning author Peter Maas brings us in vivid detail a blow-by-blow account of the disaster and its uncertain outcome. The sub was the Squalus. The man was a U.S. Navy officer, Charles "Swede" Momsen, an extraordinary combination of visionary, scientist and man of action. Until his advent, it was accepted that if a submarine went down, her crew was doomed. But Momsen, in the face of an indifferent, often sneering naval bureaucracy, battling red tape and disbelieving naysayers every step of the way, risked his own life again and again against the unknown in his efforts to invent and pioneer every escape and rescue device, every deep-sea diving technique, to save an entombed crew. With the crippled, partially flooded Squalus lost on the North Atlantic floor, Momsen faced his personal moment of truth: Could he actually pluck those men from a watery grave? Had all his work been in vain?

The legacy of his death-defying probes into our inner space remains with us today, and in this depiction of the perseverance and triumph of the human spirit, Swede Momsen is given his rightful place in the pantheon of true American heroes.

Publisher: New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 1999.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780060194802
Branch Call Number: 910.916345/MAAS
Characteristics: 259 p. ; 25 cm.


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Oct 27, 2016

Have to read this if you are a diver or interested in naval history. Momsen was a remarkable man, driven, persistent, innovative and dedicated to his fellow sailors.

Mar 01, 2016

I really enjoyed this book. It tells the hour-by-hour struggle for survival of the men on the sunken submarine, along with the life and death efforts of the rescuers to use their recently created equipment for the first time.

In addition, it covers an engineer/inventor's fight against the Navy brass to allow him to create deep sea survival/rescue equipment and implement procedures for using it.

It also tells a lot about the naval culture aboard early U.S. submarines. And a lot can be gleaned about general American culture in the 1930's, which is interesting for those who want to know more about the times that shaped their parents or grandparents.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.


Add a Quote

There are no quotes for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number

Subject Headings


Find it at ALCO

To Top