Edward Latimer "Ned" Beach, 84, the U.S. Navy captain whose 1960 record for circumnavigating the globe in a submarine still stands and who wrote the best-selling undersea thriller "Run Silent, Run Deep," died of cancer Dec. 1 at his home in Washington.
Capt. Beach was born in New York, the son of a Navy captain who had served in action in the Philippines and the Caribbean. His father tried to dissuade him from the rigors of a Navy career, but he persisted, graduating second in his class from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1939.
He went on receive 10 decorations for gallantry in World War II, including the Navy Cross, the Navy's highest award for valor after the Medal of Honor. He received that medal for his role in sinking Japanese ships in shallow water just miles from the enemy coast.
Capt. Beach later recalled saying goodbye to the crew of the USS Trigger in May 1944, where he had served as second-in-command, when he was being transferred to another submarine.
"What I didn't realize was that we were splitting -- those who were going to live from those who were going to die," he said. The Japanese sunk the Trigger in March 1945, and all aboard died.
The drama of the cramped quarters of a submarine at war was the basis for his best-selling 1955 novel, "Run Silent, Run Deep," about a clash between a revenge-obsessed captain and his crew. He wrote it while working as naval aide to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Asked once how he had time to write the book, Capt. Beach said: "Instead of playing golf or going to a lot of parties, I would come home after hours at the White House, sit in my living room with a clipboard and write." His father also wrote novels while in active service as a Navy officer.
"Run Silent, Run Deep" was made into a popular 1958 movie starring Clark Gable and Burt Lancaster, but Capt. Beach didn't like its melodrama. "It's not true to the Navy that I saw and tried to describe," he told All Hands, a Navy periodical, in 1999. He wrote 11 other books.
In 1960, he commanded the Triton, a nuclear-powered submarine that circumnavigated the globe in 84 days. His account of the voyage, "Around the World Submerged," was published in 1962. He said it had been tougher to endure a 24-hour depth-charging at the hands of the Japanese.
He retired from active duty in 1966 and turned his pen to sometimes sharp critiques of his former employer.
In his 1995 book, "Scapegoats! A Defense of Kimmel and Short at Pearl Harbor," Beach made the case that Navy Adm. Husband E. Kimmel and Army Gen. Walter C. Short were wrongfully blamed for being caught off-guard in the devastating Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese air attack. Capt. Beach blamed Pentagon officials in Washington for failing to transmit accurate war warnings in time.
Beach Hall in Annapolis, headquarters of the U.S. Naval Institute Press, was dedicated in tribute to both Captains Beach, father and son, in 1999.
Survivors include his wife, three children, a sister and four grandchildren.