Archive for the 'Navy' Category

Jun 3

Synopsis of the Battle of Midway (3-7 June 1942)

Monday, June 3, 2013 8:35 AM

Those who have only a casual knowledge of the Second World War might know little more about the Battle of Midway than the fact that it was an important American victory in the Pacific Theater. After all, the war had countless major battles, and a great many of them involved far more men and arms than fought at Midway. A tally of the forces engaged and lost there, pales to insignificance in the face of the much larger battles later in the war, particularly in Europe.

But in fact, the Battle of Midway was one of the most important battles of the war, in any theater. Indeed, some would argue that it was the most important of them all. For had the American side lost at Midway (which any reasonable analysis prior to the battle would readily support), not only would all of the subsequent allied successes in the Pacific theater been severely delayed or obviated altogether, but virtually all of world history from that point forward would certainly have been altered almost beyond comprehension.

In brief, here’s what happened at Midway, as related on the U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command web site:

“The Battle of Midway, fought over and near the tiny U.S. mid-Pacific base at Midway atoll, represents the strategic high water mark of Japan’s Pacific Ocean war.g451086_MidwayIslandPrior to this action, Japan possessed general naval superiority over the United States and could usually choose where and when to attack. After Midway, the two opposing fleets were essentially equals, and the United States soon took the offensive.

“Japanese Combined Fleet commander Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto moved on Midway in an effort to draw out and destroy the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s aircraft carrier striking forces, which had embarrassed the Japanese Navy in the mid-April Doolittle Raid on Japan’s home islands and at the Battle of Coral Sea in early May. He planned to quickly knock down Midway’s defenses, follow up with an invasion of the atoll’s two small islands, and establish a Japanese air base there. He expected the U.S. carriers to come out and fight, but to arrive too late to save Midway and in insufficient strength to avoid defeat by his own well-tested carrier air power.

“Yamamoto’s intended surprise was thwarted by superior American communications intelligence, which deduced his scheme well before battle was joined. This allowed Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, to establish an ambush by having his carriers ready and waiting for the Japanese. On 4 June 1942, in the second of the Pacific War’s great carrier battles, the trap was sprung. The perseverance, sacrifice and skill of U.S. Navy aviators, plus a great deal of good luck on the American side, cost Japan four irreplaceable fleet carriers, while only one of the three U.S. carriers present was lost. The base at Midway, though damaged by Japanese air attack, remained operational and later became a vital component in the American trans-Pacific offensive.”

Winston Churchill said of the Battle of Midway, “this memorable American victory was of cardinal importance, not only to the United States but to the whole Allied cause…At one stroke, the dominant position of Japan in the Pacific was reversed.” And that is why Midway was among the most important battles of the war, for if the Japanese had prevailed—and the order of battle certainly suggests that they should have—consider what would have ensued. All of the following are highly likely:

1. There would have been no invasion of Guadalcanal in 1942.

2. Because of that, a Japanese threat to Australia, blunted at Coral Sea, would have been renewed, with isolation likely and perhaps even partial occupation.

 3. A threat of that magnitude to the Australian homeland may have resulted in the recall of their army from North Africa, where Rommel’s Afrika Corps was still a threat to the Suez Canal.

 4. With Australia neutralized, MacArthur would have had no convenient springboard for his return the Philippines, and he may have even risked the capture that he avoided at Corregidor.

 5. Without Australia, American submarines would have been denied the advance bases that allowed them to prey so successfully upon Japanese shipping in the western Pacific.

 6. With the Japanese in control of Midway, the threat to Hawaii would have been enormous. Their long range plans included a full scale invasion in 1943, the success of which would likely have led to carrier raids against the U.S. Pacific coast.

 7. With a powerful enemy virtually on its western shores, American resolve to prosecute the war in Europe would have been severely tested. And a reduced American commitment in Europe would have led to one of two probable scenarios, both of which are painful to contemplate:

 (a) An allied invasion of France in June 1944 would not have been possible, at least not then, giving the Nazis additional time to fortify their western defenses and thus make a successful invasion less likely. A delayed or even failed invasion in the west could have improved the Germans’ ability to defend themselves in the east, allowing Hitler and the Nazis to remain in power far longer than they did, with unimaginable consequences for Europe.

 (b) Or, alternately, the lack of American-British pressure in the west would have allowed the steamrolling Red Army to overrun all of Germany, not just the eastern third. Communist dominance of the entire European continent could easily have resulted, bringing a far more dismal set of conditions at the start of the Cold War than what actually occurred.

But none of those things came to be, because of the Incredible Victory, the Miracle at Midway. It shouldn’t have happened but it did nonetheless, through amazing courage, divine intervention, or unbelievable luck—or a combination of all three.

 
May 31

Commemorating the Battle of Midway

Friday, May 31, 2013 12:35 PM

The Battle of Midway, fought near the Central Pacific island of Midway, is considered the decisive battle of the war in the Pacific and one of the most significant events in US Navy history. Through innovative naval intelligence, bold tactics, raw courage, and determination, the US Navy emerged victorious and changed the tide of the war. The victory also had tremendous influence on the ethos of the US Navy and helped set the standard for expectations of today’s Sailors.

Join us online for the Battle of Midway panel “U.S. Navy: The Battle of Midway and the Pacific Today” using a Google+ Hangout scheduled for 2 p.m. EST on Monday, June 3rd. Those interested can participate on the US Navy’s Google+ page at http://www.google.com/+usnavy. Panel will be recorded and available for viewing afterwards at http://www.youtube.com/usnavy.

Please check out our Battle of Midway blog series at www.navalhistory.org from 3-7 June, as we investigate and discuss the innovative intelligence gathering and analysis techniques employed by the US Navy; share stories and experiences of the Sailors and pilots that fought the battle; and share the important lessons learned and the impact the battle had on shaping future Navy doctrine.

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We have a few other surprises planned throughout the week, so be sure to stay tuned to all of our digital properties for additional content.

Web: www.history.navy.mil

Naval History News: www.navy.mil/local/navhist

Facebook: www.facebook.com/navalhistory

Twitter: www.twitter.com/NavyHistoryNews

Naval History Blog: www.navalhistory.org

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/groups/Naval-History-Heritage-Command-1944509?trk=myg_ugrp_ovr

 

 
May 29

Sharing the Naval History Narrative: Battle of Midway

Wednesday, May 29, 2013 11:10 AM

 BOM 29 blog pic

Attention naval historians, authors, bloggers, web masters and enthusiasts: Next week marks the 71st Anniversary of the Battle of Midway, the nation’s most historically significant naval victory. As this historic event approaches, the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) has taken the liberty of listing out numerous Battle of Midway resources, such as videos, images, documents and more, so that you or your command can repurpose and share the Midway and Navy narrative. We hope that the below resources allow you to celebrate this important Naval victory and share this pivotal period in American and naval history.

Still Images:
Images from NHHC Photo Section
NHHC Art Collection

Videos:
The Course to MIDWAY Navy.mil
Battle of Midway: The Japanese Attack
Battle of Midway: The American Counterattack
CNO Adm. Jonathan Greenert on the Battle of MIDWAY

Bio’s:
Rear Admiral John Ford
Lieutenant Commander George Henry Gay
Commodore Dixie Kiefer
Rear Admiral Clarence Wade McClusky, Jr.
Admiral Marc Andrew Mitscher
Admiral Frederick C. Sherman

Publications:
MIDWAY Remembered
Interrogations of Japanese Officials
Combat Narratives – Battle of Midway
US Strategic Bombing Survey (Pacific) Account of the Battle of Midway
Aerology and Naval Warfare – The Battle of Midway
Japanese Story of the Battle of Midway

Additional Resources:
Commemoration Planning
NHHC Battle of Midway
Navy.mil Midway Page

 

 
May 22

Honoring Admiral Farragut’s Gravesite as a National Historic Landmark

Wednesday, May 22, 2013 10:12 AM

The naval officer best known for his famous quote: “Damn the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!” is being honored. For naval history purest, Admiral David Glasgow Farragut is known for much more than that. The Woodlawn Cemetery on Thursday, May 23, 2013 will be honoring Admiral David Glasgow Farragut gravesite as a national historic landmark at Webster Avenue and East 233rd St Bronx, New York.

 

Admiral Farragut

Admiral David Glasgow Farragut, US Navy (1801 – 1870) 

David Glasgow Farragut was born at Campbell’s Station, near Knoxville, Tennessee, on 5 July 1801, and died at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 14 August 1870, after fifty-nine years of Naval Service.

Appointed midshipman on 17 December 1810, he saw his first sea service off the coast of the United States in the frigate Essex in 1811, and the next year was made the prize master of the Alexander Barclay, one of the prizes taken by the Essex. Farragut, then twelve, took her safely to Valparaíso. Failing a preliminary examination for a lieutenancy in 1821, he tried again and passed, receiving the rank of lieutenant in August 1825. He attained the rank of commander on 7 September 1841; captain in 1855; and was commissioned rear admiral on 16 July 1862. The rank of vice admiral was created for him by President Abraham Lincoln on 31 December 1864, and on 25 July 1866, by Congressional Act, he was commissioned admiral, the first officer of the U.S. Navy to hold that rank.

Five ships of the U.S. Navy have been named in honor of Admiral Farragut. The first was Farragut (Torpedo Boat No. 11), launched on 16 July 1898; the second was Farragut (Destroyer No. 300), launched on 21 November 1918; the third Farragut (DD 348), launched 15 March 1934, had World War II service; the fourth Farragut (DLG 6) was launched on 18 July 1958; the fifth Farragut (DDG 99) was launched on 9 July 2005 and commissioned on 10 June 2006.

 For more information on Admiral Farragut, visit NHHC’s website at http://www.history.navy.mil/bios/farragut_davidg.htm.

 
Apr 18

Operation Praying Mantis, 18 April 1988

Thursday, April 18, 2013 6:40 AM

On 14 April 1988, watchstanders aboard USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58) sighted three mines floating approximately half of a mile from the ship. Twenty minutes after the first sighting, as Samuel B. Roberts was backing clear of the minefield, she struck a submerged mine. The explosive device tore a 21-foot hole in the hull, causing extensive fires and flooding. Ten Sailors were injured in the attack. Only the heroic efforts of the ship’s crew, working feverishly for seven straight hours, saved the vessel from sinking. Four days later, forces of the Joint Task Force Middle East (JTFME) executed the American response to the attack: Operation Praying Mantis. The operation called for the destruction of two oil platforms being used by Iran to coordinate attacks on merchant shipping. On 18 April, the coalition air and surface units not only destroyed the oil rigs but also various Iranian units attempting to counter-attack U.S. forces. By the end of the battle, U.S. air and surface units had sunk or severely damaged half of Iran’s operational fleet. Navy aircraft and the destroyer Joseph Strauss (DDG 16) sank the frigate Sahand (F 74) with harpoon missiles and laser-guided bombs.

 

The main building of the Iranian Sassan oil platform burns after being hit by a BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-guided, Wire-guided (TOW) missile fired from a Marine AH-1 Cobra helicopter

The main building of the Iranian Sassan oil platform burns after being hit by a BGM-71 Tube-launched, Optically-guided, Wire-guided (TOW) missile fired from a Marine AH-1 Cobra helicopter

A laser-guided bomb dropped from a Navy A-6 Intruder disabled frigate Sabalan (F 73), and Standard missiles launched from the cruiser Wainwright (CG 28) and frigates Bagley (FF 1069) and Simpson (FFG 56) destroyed the 147-foot missile patrol boat Joshan (P 225). In further combat A-6s sank one Boghammer high-speed patrol boat and neutralized four more of these Swedish-made speedboats. One Marine AH-1T Sea Cobra crashed from undetermined causes, resulting in the loss of two air crew. Operation Praying Mantis proved a milestone in naval history. For the first time since World War II, U.S. naval forces and supporting aircraft fought a major surface action against a determined enemy. The operation also demonstrated America’s unwavering commitment to protecting oil tankers in the Arabian Gulf and the principle of freedom of navigation.

The Iranian frigate Is Sahand (74) burns after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

The Iranian frigate Is Sahand (74) burns after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

An aerial view of the Iranian frigate Is Alvand (71) burning after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

An aerial view of the Iranian frigate Is Alvand (71) burning after being attacked by aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 11 from the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

Sources: Edward J. Marolda and Robert J. Schneller Jr., Sword and Shield: The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf War (Washington, DC: GPO, 1998), 37-8; Michael A. Palmer, On Course to Desert Storm: The United States Navy and the Persian Gulf (Washington, DC: GPO, 1992), 141-46; unpublished draft material from Mark Evans’ forthcoming naval aviation chronology.

For more information on Operation Praying Mantis,
visit the NHHC website:
http://www.history.navy.mil/Special%20Highlights/OperationPrayingMantis/index.html

 

 
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

 
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