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That, of course, would be because of the proximity of the third lane of locks to the existing locks and because of the continued dependence upon Gatun Lake? Is that correct?
General MEHAFFEY. Yes, sir; those are two of the principal factors. The third factor is that the locks were designed withoug having in mind the possibility of conventional bombs of the sizes which were developed during the World War and, of course, without any idea of the development of an atomic bomb.
Mr. CASE. I think reference to the Congressional Record at the time the question of authorization for the third locks was up for consideration in the House will show, however, that some members of this committee, including the then ranking minority member, Mr. Powers, of New Jersey, did take the position that the third set of locks should not be undertaken for several reasons; but among them was if there was an emergency immediately ahead, they could not be completed in time to be of value. That was No. 1. No. 2 was they were so near that if the present locks were a target, the third set of locks would present an alternate target which would increase the hazard of one or the other of them being destroyed. So that the position which some members of the committee took at that time in opposition to the third set of locks time has more or less justified.
Mr. ENGEL. When I came back from my trip to the Canal Zone in 1939, it was just at that time that the third set of locks came up for consideration in the House. I was opposed to the third set of locks when I com back, and at that time, of course, they did not have the size bombs they have now, but General Stone said they had droppedI have forgotten how many bombs-at an altitude of 8,000 to 12,000 feet, which was high at that time, and that they had made 80 percent hits under ideal conditions on dummy locks on the Atlantic side at Rio Hato, with, of course, dummy bombs, and I came back with the idea if they could hit the locks side by side, they could hit them a short distance apart, and I opposed it, and after some argument with Secretary Woodring I still opposed the locks and voted against them. And that was a test made in 1939 at Rio Hato.
PROBLEM OF DEFENSE OF SEA-LEVEL CANAL
Mr. CASE. With further reference to the syllabus of the report, General Mehaffey, I notice this sentence: The conversion of the existing Panama Canal into a sea-level canal is practicable. Such a canal would have adequate capacity.
It could not be destroyed by any known weapon, and only the atomic bomb could cause temporary interruptions to traffic.
In view of that statement, I would like to ask a couple of questions.
At the time most of the members of this subcommittee visited the Canal Zone in December of 1946, this question of adequate air bases for the defense of the Canal was one of those questions which we explored. Some of us flew over to Rio Hato at that time and had a discussion with General Crittenberger about the problems involved in the defense of the Canal. The importance of the Rio Hato base or other bases for the Canal seemed to rest (1) upon the inadequacy of any fields within the Canal Zone proper and the relative impossibility of creating a field there; (2) upon the fact that the larger planes, what We call the very heavy bombers, could not operate from such a field
as Albrook Field there in the city. If you were to go to a sea-level canal, would it be as important to have bases from which you could operate bombers as it would be if you continued with the lock canal?
General MEHAFFEY. You are asking me questions which are somewhat outside my province as Governor of the Panama Canal and which are actually in the province of General Crittenberger; so I hesitate to express any very decided views on the subject.
Some studies have been made of the defense which would be required for a sea-level canal as compared with a high lock canal. My own opinion is that it is of less importance to prevent hostile aircraft from penetrating into the Canal Zone if the canal is a sea-level canal than if it is a lock canal. That follows, it seems to me, from the proposition that a lock canal is inherently a very vulnerable canal, depending, as it does, on the maintenance of a high level for its continued usefulness.
Mr. ENGEL. Supposing two or three planes attacked the Canal Zone with an atomic bomb and dropped a bomb on two or three vital installations: As far as personnel are concerned, would not that put the Canal almost out of operation? In other words, the locks which might be destroyed are only one part of the Canal which might be destroyed which you would eliminate with a sea-level canal, but you would still have the personnel. And suppose you dropped atomic bombs on the installations on the Atlantic side and two or three on the Pacific side; you could then follow in the wake of the destruction that occurred and take the Canal with physical force.
General MEHAFFEY. Yes, sir. I should not like to be understood as saying that a sea-level canal is going to end the need for adequate defense; but, as I understood Mr. Case's question went to the relative importance of defense for a sea-level canal as compared with a lock canal. I think I am compelled to say that relatively it is of somewhat less importance, but I entirely agree with you-and I am very sure the military have the same view---that whatever kind of canal you have, you must have adequate defenses.
Mr. ENGEL. And you must have outlying bases; in the face of these guided missiles which will be sent from ships and various other carriers, you must have outlying bases from which to detect the approach of those guided missiles and the approach of planes, in order to give you an opportunity to go out and meet those by other planes or by whatever defensive methods you have.
General MEHAFFEY. That is quite true.
Mr. CASE. I was not trying to ask any questions, General Mehaffer that were broader than the scope of the report which I understood
General MEHAFFEY. Yes, sir.
Mr. CASE. But in that sentence in the paragraph, and other sentences, is this pertinent point: In wartime, the getes of the pass could remain open, or, if destroyed when close could be removed within a few days and the canal operated as an open waterwy Radioactive contamination of the seo-level canal would not prevent the possain of ships after the lapse of a short period of time for reduction of the intensity a the radioactivity. Decontamination measures could reduce delays to traffic.
I recognize the point which the chairman has made as to the desirability of bases from which to operate for the defense of the Canal as a matter of having an important lane or artery of traffie
but what I was thinking was that if the situation reduces itself to a
point where it becomes difficult to obtain bases outside of the Canal iet
Zone, and if it should be determined-and in my own mind I have
some doubts on this that the Canal Zone is the proper place for a CA
sea-level canal, then you might be justified in applying to the con
struction of a sea-level canal some of the money which otherwise we abo
might have to put on the development of bases outside the Canal Zone. I was just wondering if that would make sense. I was very much impressed in going over the plans and studies, so far as they had been completed, at the time I was there, with the possibilities of at least one, if not two, other sites for a sea-level canal, and one of them, at least on the basis of the figures then available seemed not to
be too much out of line with the cost in the Canal Zone itself. Where12 fore, I thought we had a chance, in case it became impossible to secure
proper bases within the vicinity of the Canal Zone, to negotiate for : an alternate site. But if all consideration should point to the Canal Zone itself as the proper place for a sea-level canal, if our defense problem is materially reduced by a sea-level canal, then we might
consider putting money on that rather than building up bases. That pe is what I was coming to.
Mr. Engel. When we were at Monmouth a very short time ago, General Akin, Chief Signal Officer, gave us a statement showing that by the end of August 1944 the guns were bringing down 80 percent
of the bombs, V-1, destroyed by all defensive means, 60 percent of the pellente total number of bombs launched, and 74 percent of those that reached
the gun-defended area.
Now, to do that, they had to have bases at a point where they could detect the approach of those missiles and bring them down before they became targets. Mr. Case. Did that include V-2 as well as V-1?
Mr. Engel. Yes. That is taken from an extract from an antiaircraft artillery fire-control report, page 7, Combat Performance, Flying Bomb.
General Akin told me that record was increased to 90 percent before the end of the war which he said was to come.
Mr. Case. I would want to know whether or not that applied to the V-2, because I understood that in England they were not satisfied that they had any real defense against the V–2 bombs other than the destruction of the launching platforms. The 1944 figures would not be applicable, in any event, because the V-2 was not really in operation at that time.
Mr. Engel. I asked General Akin that very same question, and he said it applied to the V-2, but he said 10 percent of those bombs did enough damage. But, whether it is 10 or 20 percent, or whatever it is, it does show the importance of having bases from which we can protect ourselves.
Mr. Case. Since this is the one committee which has any continuous contact with the Canal Zone, I wonder if we should not take some steps to see that this report of the study on the third set of locks of sea-level canal should be published. Is there any other committee with which you are in continuous touch?
General MEHAFFEY. Yes; our legislative committee is the Merchant
General MEHAFFEY. No, sir; only when we have legislation.
The report was referred to that committee, and we assumed that it was for the committee to determine whether or not it would recommend its publication.
Mr. SCRIVNER. Is there any information in here that might well be kept secret?
General MEHEFFEY. No, sir; there is nothing in the report as submitted which could not be published.
SYLLABUS OF REPORT ON STUDY OF MEANS OF INCREASING CAPACITY
AND SECURITY OF PANAMA CANAL
Mr. Case. Mr. Chairman, the text of this report is not so very long, but I think the text would not be too useful without the charts accompanying it. But if we were to put that in our hearings with the charts, it might prevent the publication of the report itself. The syllabus, however, is only one page and gives enough suggestions so that I think it would remain in the report. Therefore, I would like to ask that the syllabus be included in our hearings at this point. (The matter above referred to is as follows:)
IsthmIAN CANAL STUDIES, 1947.
The Governor of the Panama Canal submits a report on an investigation of the means of increasing the capacity and security of the Panama Canal to meet the future needs of interoceanic commerce and national defense, in accordance with Public Law 280, Seventy-ninth Congress, Chapter 600, 1st Session (H. R. 4480), approved December 28, 1945.
The investigation has shown that the isthmian canal is essential for interoceanic commerce and national defense.
Investigation of 30 canal routes from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec in Mexico to the Atrato River region in Colombia has disclosed that the Canal Zone is the most suitable location for an Isthmian canal. No new means of transporting ships across land, such as a ship railway, would meet the future needs of either interoceanic commerce or national defense.
The locks of the existing canal are unable to pass a few of the largest naval vessels. Beginning about 1960, the canal will be unable to meet the demands of interoceanic commerce without imposing delays on shipping that will become increasingly more serious with further growth of traffic. The present canal is vulnerable to modern weapons of even moderate size. If considerations of security and the need for transiting the largest naval vessels were disregarded, the existing canal could be modified at an estimated cost of $130,000,000 to provide for the needs of interoceanic commerce until the year 2000.
The suspended third-locks project, designed to overcome the deficiencies in the capacity of the canal by the construction of a third lane of larger locks, would be inadequate in security.
Reconstruction of the existing canal with a Pacific terminal lake, to meet the future needs of commerce and to pass the largest ships expected in the remainder of this century, without satisfying the needs of national defense, would have an initial cost of $1,126,000,000, and, if ultimate development were undertaken, a final cost of $1,632,000,000.
A new Panama lock canal, having the maximum security practicable in this type of canal and capable of meeting the future needs of interoceanic commerce and of passing the largest ships, would cost $2,308,000,000. Despite the marimum protection that feasibly could be given the locks and lock gates, they could be damaged so severely by sabotage or weapons using conventional explosives that Gatun Lake would be drained and the ('anal rendered inoperative for periods up to 2 years. The destruction and lingering radioactivity resulting from atomie bombing could put the Canal out of service for a much longer period. Thus, no lock canal would meet the future needs of national defense.
The conversion of the existing Panama (anal into a sea-level canal is practicable. Such a canal would have adequate capacity. It could not be destroyed
by any known weapon and only the atomic bomb could cause temporary interruptions to traffic. Navigation through an incontrolled Panama sea-level canal would be entirely feasible; however, the tidal currents should be regulated for added safety to shipping. Tidal regulating structures would consist essentially of a tidal lock, and a navigable pass which would be opened to traffic during mean tidal stages. In wartime, the gates of the pass could remain open, or, if destroyed when closed, could be removed within a few days and the canal operated as an
open waterway. Radioactive contamination of the sea-level canal would not po prevent the passage of ships after the lapse of a short period of time for reduction
of the intensity of the radioactivity. Decontamination measures could reduce ! delays to traffic.
Serious earth slides in any canal could be prevented by appropriate flattening Son of the bank slopes.
Either a lock canal or a sea-level canal would meet the future needs of interoceanic commerce, but only a sea-level canal would meet the future needs of national defense.
The Governor recommends that the Panama Canal be converted to a sea-level canal to meet the future needs of interoceanic commerce and national defense, substantially in accordance with the plan presented in his report, at an estimated cost of $2,483,000,000.
MAINTENANCE OF EQUIPMENT ON THIRD SET OF LOCKS
Mr. SCRIVNER. From what I have been able to gather from this discussion, there is no present intention of making any particular use of the third locks or the installation of the third locks.
General MEHAFFEY. No, sir.
where in the neighborhood of $100,000 in this request for doing some5 thing to the third locks. What is that $100,000 for?
General MEHAFFEY. We have a considerable amount of equipment which was bought in connection with the third locks. Much of the construction equipment we sold as soon as the job was finished, but we have a lot of other equipment, as, for example, testing equipment for materials, and so forth, which we want to keep there for future
We also have started some long-range studies on the lasting qualities of materials of various kinds in the tropical waters of the Canal Zone, with hundreds of specimens of all sorts of materials, which should extend over a number of years and which, I think, it would be a very great pity to discontinue at this time.
Mr. SCRIVNER, Conceding that, the question arises in my mind, and probably in the minds of others, why should this even have any reference to the third locks. In your item of $100,000, why should it even refer to the third locks at all?
General MEHAFFEY. You mean that the necessary amount of money to keep up these studies would be included as a part of the regular operating cost?
Mr. SCRIVNER. As a part of the regular operating cost.
Mr. Scrivner. It has raised the question in my mind, and I am sure would raise the question in somebody else's mind, that if you are not going to use the third locks, why have any money in here relating to the third locks. Of course, if you are going to do that work, it does not make much difference what it is assigned to.
General MEHAFFEY. That would be entirely satisfactory, and I can see some advantages to it.