A Century of Silent Service (2001): Part 01


To celebrate 100 years of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Force, Sonalysts (Jane’s 688(I), Fleet Command, Sub Command) has teamed up with the Naval Submarine League to create a unique 90-min video documentary.

A Century of Silent Service is hosted by President Jimmy Carter, himself a former submarine officer.

Chronicling the genesis of the US Silent Service from the first real submarine, the CSS Hunley, and John Holland’s early gasoline powered boats, the programme features an abundance of archival footage and material.

Whether fighting tough foes in wars hot and cold, or going against the stark perils of a developing technology, the US Naval Submarine Force has generated a history unique in American arms.

The turn of the millennium marked its first 100 years.

This 2-hour special features interviews with a former submariner, President Jimmy Carter, many key Navy experts, along with Silent Service notables such as Capt. Ned Beach, Medal of Honour recipient Rear Admiral Eugene Fluckey, VADM James Calvert, ADM Bruce Demars (former director of the US Navy’s nuclear power programme), and others including enlisted men and wives.

Hearing the story told by them conveys the depth of impressive achievements and duty bestowed upon a free country by a special group of sailors.


For the first forty years the U.S. submarine program lacked direction and a clear mission. This changed with the advent of the fleet boat which coincided with World War II.

Bigger, more powerful, and faster than most of the classes before it, the Gato class positioned the Silent Service for greatness. A Century of Silent Service examines the exploits of daring submarine captains and crews. Highlights include the remarkable accomplishments of commerce raiding, penetrating harbours, and rescuing pilots such as President George Bush (interviewed in the programme).

As WWII ended it appeared the submarine had found its role in the US Navy. That would soon change when one diminutive man with colossal vision would advance submarines into the atomic age. Captain Hyman Rickover proposed building a nuclear reactor–itself very new technology–into a submarine.

The result would produce a vessel that could remain submerged almost indefinitely and travel underwater at record speeds. Once again, a new class of submarine would be created in time for a new war, the Cold War.

A Century of Silent Service Series

Production & Filming Details

  • Narrator(s): Skip Church.
  • Distributor(s): History Channel.
  • Release Date: 2001.
  • Running Time: 120 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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