Archive for the 'Navy' Category

Apr 10

April 10, 1963: Search for the USS Thresher

Wednesday, April 10, 2013 1:00 AM

This article was published in the May 1964 issue of Proceedings as “Searching for the Thresher” by Frank A. Andrews, Captain, U.S. Navy.

The Thresher search was very much an ad hoc operation. On 10 April 1963, the day of the Thresher‘s loss, there was no real search organization, no search technique, nor specific operating procedures for locating an object lying on the ocean bottom at 8,400 feet. In the first frantic hours after the Thresher‘s loss, a full scale search effort consisting of 13 ships was laid on with the aim of scouring the ocean for possible life or floating signs from the Thresher. Within 20 search hours, all hope for survivors had passed, and the entire Thresher project began to change character from that of a standard Navy search and rescue opera­tion to that of an oceanographic expedition. This special expedition soon consisted of three ad hoc elements, which, as later events were to show, combined in a most successful and harmonious manner in support of searching out the Thresher‘s hull.

Diagram of the search for the lost USS Thresher

Diagram of the search for the lost USS Thresher.

The first was the sea-going element. This group, called Task Group 89.7, was ever changing in number and types of ships. At its maximum at-sea size, it consisted of 13 men-­of-war (including two submarines) and many search aircraft rushed to the disaster scene on the day of the Thresher‘s loss. At its minimum, TG 89.7 consisted of one lone oceanographic vessel—the Conrad on one occasion, the Atlan­tis II on another—left toiling away on station while the task group commander and staff (usually one officer and one chief radioman) were ashore conferring with others in prepa­ration for the commencement of a new phase of the search. In all, 28 naval warships and five oceanographic research, or service, vessels participated in Task Group 89.7 from 10 April 1963 until 6 September 1963, when a substantial portion of the Thresher wreckage was located by the bathyscaph Trieste.

The second of the expedition’s three ele­ments was an 11-man shore-based brain trust called the CNO Technical Advisory Group. Its mission was to provide technical guidance to the at-sea search effort. In actual fact, this Advisory Group did much more than propose ideas. Its members also procured ships and hardware, and, in the case of certain indi­vidual members, came to sea with the ships to assist in searching. The Chairman of the Advisory Group was Dr. Arthur Maxwell, Senior Oceanographer in the Office of Naval Research. Captain Charles Bishop, U.S. Navy, the senior sub­marine officer in the Office of the Deputy CNO for Research and Development (OP-07), served as Co-Chairman and CNO liaison officer. The membership of the committee consisted of senior representatives from the Naval Oceanographic Office, the Lamont Geological Observatory, the Bureau of Ships, the Hudson Laboratories, the Naval Re­search Laboratory, the Oceanographic De­partment of the University of Rhode Island, the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, the Naval Reactors Branch of the AEC, and the Oceanographic Group at the University of Miami.

The third special element was the Thresher Analysis Group which set up operations in the Walsh House at the Woods Hole Oceano­graphic Institution, Woods Hole, Massachu­setts. This Group soon became known as TAG WHOI, pronounced Tag Hooey. Its leader was Mr. Arthur Molloy of the Navy’s Oceanographic Office in Suitland, Maryland. TAG WHOI had a varying complement but, over-all, 15 civilians or naval officers spent three or more weeks with this element. These men represented the Submarine Development Group at New London, NAVOCEANO, NEL, NRL and WHOI; they were all obtained from their many parent organizations simply by asking. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 1

USS Thresher (SSN-593) 3 August 1961 – 10 April 1963

Monday, April 1, 2013 1:00 AM
The USS Thresher (SSN-593) is shown before her loss, underway in the North Atlantic in this painting by Carl Evers.

The USS Thresher (SSN-593) is shown before her loss, underway in the North Atlantic in this painting by Carl Evers.

by E. W. Grenfell, Vice Admiral, USN & published in the March, 1964 issue of Proceedings magazine:

On 10 April 1963, the U. S. Navy suffered the loss of the nuclear submarine Thresher, the nation’s third peacetime sub­marine loss since World War II, and by far the United States’ greatest single submarine disaster in terms of loss of life. The public, both in the United States and abroad, reacted with compassion for the fam­ilies of these men who gave their lives in the cause of freedom and pioneering. Seamen the world over have expressed reverent respect for these gallant men who paid part of the eternal tribute demanded by the sea from those who dare to venture on, or beneath, the trackless waters. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 20

February 20, 1815: The Capture of HMS Cyane and Levant by the USS Constitution uder Captain Charles Stewart

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 1:00 AM

This article, written by Naval Constructor C. W. Fisher, U. S. Navy was published in the February 1917 issue of Proceedings magazine, entitled “The Log of the Constitution, Feb. 21-24, 1815: The Capture of the Cyane and the Levant .

 

025 Capture of Cyane and Levant NH 86692-KN

The Capture of the Cyane and Levant by U.S. frigate Constitution

 

Enclosed herewith is a blueprint of an extract from the log of the U. S. frigate Constitution, dated February 21 to February 24, 1815. This brief extract includes a description of the action between the Constitution and British vessels Cyane and Levant. As an example of most admirable seamanship, excellent control, fine tactics, and a happy as well as forceful style of recording important events, I consider this brief extract to be of sufficient value to warrant its being published for the “information and guidance” of the navy to-day. It would be hard to find a better model than this modest record of a most unusual and courageous action.

 

Log of the Constitution001

Remarks &c. on board U. S. frigate Constitution, Charles Stewart Esq., Commander on a Cruise, Tuesday February 21, 1815

 

Log of the Constitution002

Remarks &c. continued, Tuesday February 21, 1815

 

Log of the Constitution003

Remarks &c. on board U. S. frigate Constitution, Charles Stewart Esq. Commander on a Cruise, Wednesday February 22, 1815

 

Log of the Constitution004

Remarks &c. on board U. S. frigate Constitution, Charles Stewart Esq., Commander on a Cruise, Thursday February 23, 1815

 

Log of the Constitution005

Remarks &c. on board U. S. frigate Constitution, Charles Stewart Esq. Commander on a Cruise, Friday, February 24, 1815

 
Feb 7

February 6, 1973: Navy Task Force 78 Begins Operation End Sweep

Thursday, February 7, 2013 9:19 AM
A Marine Sea Stallion helicopter with a magnetic orange pipe in tow sweeps the Bay in Hon Gay, North Vietnam during Operation End Sweep.

A Marine Sea Stallion helicopter with a magnetic orange pipe in tow sweeps the Bay in Hon Gay, North Vietnam during Operation End Sweep.

This article was originally published in the March 1974 issue of Proceedings magazine by Rear Admiral Brian McCauley, U. S. Navy

Western strategists of every stripe had grown hoarse calling for the mining of Haiphong Harbor and, at last, it was done. Now, with the ceasefire signed, the mines had to be retrieved or destroyed and, as surface ships of Task Force 58 trailed a sweeping heli­copter into Haiphong on 17 June 1973, the end of “End Sweep”—a tedious, lengthy, and totally unglamorous job—was in sight. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 22

The Wilkes Exploring Expedition Discovers the Antarctic Coast in January 1840

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 3:05 PM

 “The Wilkes Exploring Expedition: Its Progress Through Half a Century” was originally published in the September/October 1914 issue of Proceedings magazine by Louis N. Feipel:

Portrait of Charles Wilkes by Thomas Sully

Portrait of Charles Wilkes by Thomas Sully

The important expedition known as the Wilkes, or South Sea, Exploring Expedition, fitted out in 1838 by national munificence, was the first that ever left our shores, and the first to be com­manded by an officer of the United States Navy. But although organized on a most stupendous scale, and shrouded in a most in­teresting history, this expedition is to-day comparatively unknown.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 5

December 5, 1843: The Launch of the U.S.S. Michigan

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 1:00 AM

 This article was originally published as “Our First Iron Man-of-War” in 1949 by Captain Frederick L. Oliver in Proceedings magazine.

WHAT is probably the oldest iron ship in the world today, and one of the first iron men-of-war built, is approaching the end of a career that exceeds the century mark by a few years.

In 1841 Congress authorized the construction of a side-wheel steam man-of-war for use on the Upper Lakes, to match the British naval strength in those waters.

The use of iron in shipbuilding at that time was a subject as contentious as the adoption of steam propulsion and the propeller proved to be in subsequent years.

In England the dwindling supply of ship timber had promoted the matter of iron shipping, but in the United States a contrary thought prevailed, and it was not until about the time of the Civil War that the Navy really turned to iron ships.

No record is available of the influence which brought about the adoption of iron for the ship built at Erie, and the construction at Pittsburgh shortly thereafter of a second ship from the same material; but log-rolling was as prevalent then as now, and Pennsylvania politicians probably supplied the incentive.

The construction at Erie of the U.S.S. Michigan involved difficulties quite comparable in some respects to those which beset Oliver Hazard Perry’s shipbuilding efforts at the same port some 30 years previously.

Practically nothing was known at that time in this country about designing an iron ship, or the technique of fabricating the unfamiliar material. Nor were other than the most primitive construction facilities available at Erie.

As a result, the lines adopted for the Michigan were those of the sailing ship of the period, and the frame was designed to afford the requisite structural strength without recourse to the strength available in the hull plating, providing a hull so strong that, despite years of abuse, it is structurally sound today.

I-beams being unknown at the time, the ribs were made from T-bars, and the longitudinals were built-up box structures about 12 inches by 24 inches in cross section. In all there were five longitudinals, the keel being the only one projecting beyond the skin of the ship. Three of the longitudinals ran the full length of the ship and two were beneath the machinery spaces. The hull plates were all shaped by hand, and the rivet holes were punched by the same means.

The hull material was wrought iron made by the charcoal process in Pittsburgh and carted to Erie. The purity of this material is attested by the fact that the metal is still in excellent condition.

It is related that many citizens of Erie considered an iron ship an anachronism, consequently throngs were in attendance on the afternoon of December 5, 1843, to witness the launching and satisfy their curiosity about the ability of the ship to float.

All they saw was a ship that stuck on the ways and could not be persuaded to move. Strange to say, during the night the ship relented of its perversity and was found afloat at daybreak the following day, having launched itself.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Dec 5

Launching of First Iron-Hulled Warship

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 1:00 AM

December 5th, 1843

America’s first iron man-of-war, the USS Michigan, is launched.

In 1843, the first iron-hulled and prefabricated warship, the USS Michigan, was launched at Erie, Pennsylvania. A little over a century later, in November 1949, Proceedings published a brief article written by Captain Frederick Oliver, USN (Retired), about the ship’s long and peaceful career. In his article, Oliver describes in great detail the history of the Michigan (later known as the Wolverine), from its unique origins to its slow decline in public interest and, finally, to its unavoidable end:

What is probably the oldest iron ship in the world today, and one of the first iron men-of-war built, is approaching the end of a career that exceeds the century mark by a few years. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 27

The First Navy Day: October 27, 1922

Saturday, October 27, 2012 1:00 AM

DURING the World War there was a club for the enlisted men of the Navy and Marine Corps located at 509 Fifth Avenue, New York City, known then as the Navy Club. The club was operated by a group of ladies under the leadership of Mrs. William H. Hamilton. Countless tales could be told of the club of the war period, but this article does not concern those years which were heroic and memorable to all who visited there. Some time after the Armistice it was decided that the club should be continued as a permanent institution. The rented quarters on Fifth Avenue were unsuitable for a real man’s club, and two houses were purchased on East 41st Street, between Fifth and Madison Avenues. How the money was raised and how interest in the volunteer work was continued after the glamour of war service was ended is a story all its own and credit goes chiefly to a noble group of women and a few business men who somehow did the impossible and made the Manhattan Navy Club a living thing, permanent in its ideals and in its own home. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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