Oct 2

Graham E. Martin-In His Own Words

Friday, October 2, 2015 8:17 AM


The Golden Thirteen

I often comment to friends and coworkers that the hardest part of writing for me is deciding what to write. Unlike most college students, I preferred it when professors chose the topic. After all, if a semester of research and writing will make a student hate a topic, why pick something you enjoy? After explaining the difficulty I was having in finding something different for my next blog post, a coworker suggested looking through the voluminous USNI collection of oral histories. Not wanting to choose the famous sailors that are often highlighted, I decided to see if there were any… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 1

The Destruction of the S.M.S. Cormoran and the First U.S. Shot Fired in the First World War

Thursday, October 1, 2015 4:00 AM



As strange as it may seem, the very first shot fired by the United States in the First World War did not occur anywhere near the battlefields of Europe. Instead, as Commander Owen Bartlett, USN related in the following excerpts from his August, 1931 Proceedings article, the shot was made nearly half a world away in the harbor of Guam.   “The first violent hostile act of the war between the United States and Germany probably was the destruction of the S.M.S. Cormoran by her own commander in Apra Harbor, Guam. To those actively participating, the episode loomed large in interest,… Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 23

“The Fastest Ship in the Navy”: The Strange Saga of the USS Reina Mercedes

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 6:00 AM


Reina Spanish

On April 29, 1898, Almirante (Admiral) Pascual Cervera y Topete of the Spanish Navy steamed out of Cape Verde islands with a fleet of four armored cruisers and three destroyers. His destination: the West Indies, to defend Spain’s empire against the American fleet. Hampered by a number of deficiencies, the fleet struggled into the harbor at Santiago de Cuba. Meeting and later joining the squadron there was the Reina Mercedes, an unarmored cruiser capabale of propulsion under both sail and steam. Built in Cartagena, Spain, in 1887, she had become the station ship at Santiago in 1892. By 1898, she… Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 21

Knox Lifetime Achievement Awards Honor Naval Institute Authors

Monday, September 21, 2015 1:55 PM



Naval historians from around the world mustered last week in Annapolis for the U.S. Naval Academy’s biennial two-day, deep-immersion McMullen Naval History Symposium. During a banquet at the DoubleTree Annapolis Hotel on Friday night, 18 September, attendees heralded the latest authors to receive the Commodore Dudley W. Knox Naval History Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the U.S. Naval Historical Foundation. As in years past, the names of all three honorees in 2015, along with the namesake of the award himself, are familiar to readers of U.S. Naval Institute publications.

Sep 18

Monument of the Month: Granite, Old and New

Friday, September 18, 2015 6:00 AM



The old NSS Annapolis, otherwise known as the Naval Communications Station Washington, D.C. Transmitter, at Greenbury Point on the Severn River to the West of Annapolis, is not a place where one might expect to begin a discussion on monuments. But sometimes the most curious and intriguing of things are found in overlooked and unexpected places. The three red-and-white radio towers on the wooded peninsula, once used to communicate with submerged submarines are the most prominent reminders of what was once a bustling and active radio transmitting facility. Though it is still a gunnery range and part of the NSA… Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 16

Cruisers: Interwar Roles and Limitations

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 11:52 AM



An excerpt from “The Fleet’s Ambiguous, Versatile Warships,” by Norman Friedman, in the October issue of Naval History magazine With the end of World War I, U.S. naval policy turned from concentration on Europe to concentration on the Far East and Japan. Even so, supporters of continued U.S. naval construction exploited widespread anti-British feeling in the United States by suggesting there was a U.S.-British naval rivalry. This was despite the fact that the United States and Great Britain were given naval parity in the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty while the far more likely enemy, Japan, was given the short end… Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 11

The VT Fuze: The Other Secret Weapon of World War II

Friday, September 11, 2015 9:16 AM


USNI VT fuze.

As a young officer, then-Lieutenant Commander (later Admiral) W.H. P. Blandy, USN, had a keen interest in gunnery. Writing for Proceedings in 1920 (“Director Fire a Century Ago”) and 1925 (“Possible Improvements in our Gunnery Training”), LCDR Blandy understood well the history of fire control and what could be done to improve its effectiveness. Ever forward-thinking, Blandy noted elsewhere in 1925 of what a remarkable device a fuze that would detonate based on its proximity to the target would be. The key would be to find a way to trigger the shell to that its fragmentation pattern would be effective,… Read the rest of this entry »

Sep 3

Target Practice!

Thursday, September 3, 2015 8:00 AM



Anyone who has had the pleasure (or should I say frustration) of searching through an archive knows you never know what you are going find. Looking through box #15 in the USNI Archives I found a unique series of photos featuring the ex-Iowa. Seeing the caption “ex” is perhaps the reason I stopped to look closer. The USS Iowa (BB-4) was originally commissioned in June 1897 and saw action in the Spanish-American War. She then spent time with the Pacific Squadron, the North Atlantic Fleet, and the South Atlantic Squadron before being decommissioned in March 1919. She was renamed Coast… Read the rest of this entry »