Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Importance Of Letter Writing - Captain Laurance Safford: Father of Naval Cryptology

Navy Captain Laurance Safford is often referred to as the “father of U.S. naval cryptology”. His contributions during WW II were numerous and significant.

Much of what we know about Captain Safford's contributions to naval cryptology come from his own writing. 
A number of his personal letters provide insight into events surrounding the congressional investigation into the attack on Pearl Harbor. One letter refers specifically to the “Winds Message” reportedly intercepted by the U.S. days before the 7 December surprise attack. This infamous message reportedly gave clear indications of the planned Japanese surprise attack.
Unfortunately the actual intercept mysteriously disappeared shortly after the surprise attack and the "Winds Message's" very existence is only supported by the testimony of Safford and perhaps one or two others who reportedly also were aware of the intercept.

His personal papers also included a four page letter to Vice Admiral C.E. Rosendahl responding to two pages of questions from Rosendahl about the number, distribution, disposition and construction of PURPLE machines prior to the attack on Pearl Harbor. Other documents included a petition to the Congress and supporting testimony to award Capt. Safford remuneration for his many secret cryptologic inventions, some of which were cited as among the most important and secure communication systems used by the U.S. during WW II.

As Admiral Stavridis is so fond of saying: "Think, read, write and publish." If you don't tell your story - who will know it?

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