The available pool of qualified warrant and petty officers fell well short of the needs of the navy during the Tripolitan War (1801-1805). Commodore Edward Preble complained that “wages are so high in the merchant service that the best men will not ship with us.” Still, the navy recruited many worthy men to serve as warrant and petty officers, including some excellent boatswains. Boatswain’s Mate John McFate, appointed acting boatswain in Constitution on 25 April 1805 to replace another one found incompetent, received his warrant on 2 January 1806. Master Commandant John Dent believed McFate to be one of the… Read the rest of this entry »
Archive for 2010
On the morning of October 6, 1943, a force of 9 destroyers and assorted landing craft under the command of Rear Admiral Matsuji Ijuin set sail from Rabaul headed for Vella Lavella to evacuate that island’s approximately 600-man garrison. In an early example of “leapfrogging”, American forces had bypassed Kolombangara and landed with little opposition at Vella Lavella on 15 August. On the Afternoon of October 6th, search planes sighted the Japanese force and six American destroyers in the area sailed toward the evacuation point at Marquana Bay. A group of three destroyers, Selfridge (DD-357), Chevalier (DD-451), and O’Bannon (DD-450),… Read the rest of this entry »
Establishing a version of naval discipline that suited the character of Americans posed one of the earliest challenges facing the United States Navy. Americans’ egalitarian ways worked against customary forms of military subordination. During the 1790s, when the United States Navy was established, the clash between egalitarianism and military subordination intensified, for this was an era in which republican ideals, based on the American Revolution’s assertion that “all men are created equal,” were challenging traditional habits of deference of social inferiors to social superiors. In looking to European models of naval discipline, founded on rigid social separation of officers from… Read the rest of this entry »
The Confederate semi-submersible ship David did not have rocks and slings. Instead, its armament consisted of a single spar torpedo attached to its bow. As the cigar-shaped vessel was designed to operate in shallow water, its five foot draft allowed her to sneak up on enemies seemingly undetected.
On the night of 5 October 1863, David faced Goliath. It would not be the epic showdown of biblical times during the American Civil War, but one of explosions, iron, and rushing water under the moonlight of Charleston. USS New Ironsides, a casemate ironclad steamer boasting fourteen eleven-inch smoothbores, was at the time considered the most formidable warship in the world. It proved to be nearly impenetrable to the Charleston harbor defenses. The Union “Goliath” and its Captain, S.C. Rowan, waited for any answer the Confederates had to test the mighty ship. Little did they know its “Davidian” foe would… Read the rest of this entry »
In the middle of the Civil War, two brothers in Bristol, Rhode Island started a ship yard that would make their name, Herreshoff, one of the most respected engineering names in the world: the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company. John Brown Herreshoff was completely blind at age 15. He managed his own sail-boat building company until his brother, Nathaniel, joined him in 1878. John’s blindness did not prevent him from receiving commissions for boats that were renowned for their seaworthiness, speed and beauty. He used hull models and full hull models to make suggestions to improve the performance of the vessels. Nathanael… Read the rest of this entry »
As Fidel Castro worked furiously to build an offensive missile capability in the Caribbean in the fall of 1962, the Navy/Marine Corps team utilized his folly as an opportunity to demonstrate its inherent synergy. Navy Light Photographic Squadron Sixty-Two (VFP-62), stationed at Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida, received the warning order in early October to have 8 camera-ready RF-8A Crusaders ready to launch from Naval Air Station (NAS) Key West on short notice. The mission was treacherously simple: confirm the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba. Shortly thereafter, the Second Marine Aircraft Wing (2d MAW) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry… Read the rest of this entry »