Archive for the 'Navy' Category

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 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 1

On Our Scope

Tuesday, September 1, 2015 10:37 AM



“Our New Cruisers” was how the U.S. Naval Institute announced the news in 1883. The ten-year-old organization had been founded by a group of naval officers concerned about the stagnant state of the Navy. But now the service was taking a huge leap forward by building its first modern, steel ships—three cruisers (the Atlanta, Boston, and Chicago) and a dispatch vessel (the Dolphin). The Institute’s Proceedings recognized the momentous occasion with a special issue whose sole article was written by a participant in the nautical resurgence: Assistant Naval Constructor Francis T. Bowles. An 1879 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy… Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 20

The Posterity of the Ganges

Thursday, August 20, 2015 6:00 AM


Portrait of Thomas Macdonough, who served aboard the Ganges. Courtesy Library of Congress.

It is frequently the case that a ship is given the name of an individual as a honorarium. Names such as Campbell, Fletcher, Porter, and many, many others are accepted in kind. So when individuals are given the name of a ship, suddenly we take notice that something very remarkable is afoot. Such is the case of the surname Ganges. The story of how a family came to be named after a 26-gun sloop-of-war is one that upholds the finest traditions of the U.S. Navy.

Aug 18

‘The Stern Hit the Water with a Jar’

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 9:53 AM


Literally a flying aircraft carrier, the USS Macon (ZRS-5) featured a hangar that accommodated four scout planes.

For the first time since 2009, undersea explorers, with support from the NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, today are investigating the secret wreck site of the U.S. Navy airship Macon (ZRS-5). Remote-controlled vehicles from Robert Ballard’s exploration vessel Nautilus are mapping the site, located within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and evaluating the condition of the remains of the airship and her F9C-2 Sparrowhawk scout planes. The future of the Navy’s ambitious rigid-airship program was uncertain even before the 785-foot Macon crashed on the night of 12 February 1935. The USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) had gone down in 1925,… Read the rest of this entry »

Aug 14

Landing the Planes

Friday, August 14, 2015 11:12 AM


Lieutenant Robin M. Lindsey, USS Enterprise landing-signal officer, epitomized leadership on the flight deck. (USS Enterprise CV-6 Association)

An excerpt from “‘The Big E’ Leadership Factory,” by Barrett Tillman, in the October 2015 issue of Naval History. Leadership also was evident on the Enterprise’s flight deck, never better demonstrated than during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands at the height of the Guadalcanal campaign. The ship’s landing-signal officer was Lieutenant Robin M. Lindsey, assisted by the air group LSO, Lieutenant (junior grade) James G. Daniels. Lindsey had been on board since July 1941 and learned the “paddles” trade under the tutelage of prewar LSOs. Daniels had survived Fighting Squadron Six’s debacle in the night sky over Pearl… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 15

The 19th Century Navy in South America: The Baltimore Affair and Water Witch Incident

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 9:35 AM


The United States (US) has a long history of intervention in Latin America. During the twentieth century, the US sent Marines into many countries, in a period known as the Banana Wars. Before these raids, the US fought against Spain and ended the Spanish empire in Latin America after nearly four hundred years. Usually, historians regard the Spanish-American War as the point where the US began to be a world power and an imperialist nation. However, some historians point to other events as the point where the US began to view itself as a world power. The Baltimore Affair was… Read the rest of this entry »

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