Archive for the 'Science and Technology' Category

Jul 17

Joint Space Operations

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 1:12 PM

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On 17 July 1975, the crews of the U.S. Apollo and Soviet Soyuz docked in space initiating the first manned space flight conducted jointly by the United States and Soviet Union. The primary purpose of the mission, the Apollo Soyuz Test Project, was to test the compatibility of rendezvous and docking systems for American and Soviet spacecraft and to open the way for international space rescue as well as future joint manned flights. It also symbolized a policy of détente that the two superpowers were pursuing at the time and marked the end of the Space Race between the two nations that began in 1957.

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Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy exits the Quest airlock for a session of extravehicular activity (EVA) as work continues on the International Space Station.

Thirty eight years later, with the International Space Station (ISS), the US and other nations are still working together and conducting joint space missions. On 9 July 2013, two expedition astronauts, from NASA and the European Space Agency, wrapped up a successful 6-hour, 7-minute spacewalk, completing the first of two July excursions to prepare the ISS for a new Russian module and perform additional installations. The spacewalk was the 170th in support of station assembly and maintenance, totaling 1,073 hours, 50 minutes. To read more about the joint NASA spacewalk, click here.

Anchored to a Canadarm2 mobile foot restraint, Flight Engineers Luca Parmitano participates in a spacewalk as work continues on the International Space Station

Anchored to a Canadarm2 mobile foot restraint, Flight Engineers Luca Parmitano participates in a spacewalk as work continues on the International Space Station

However, despite vast improvements in technology and training, these professionals make such endeavors look routine – but they are anything but routine. This was apparent when U.S. astronaut Chris Cassidy and Italy’s Luca Parmitano were less than an hour into a planned six-hour outing on 16 July 2013, when Parmitano reported what seemed to be water inside his helmet. NASA called off the spacewalk. See http://www.nasa.gov/content/tuesday-spacewalk-ended-early/ for more on this event.

 

 
Jun 20

Navy Innovation

Thursday, June 20, 2013 7:01 AM

There’s been plenty of discussion about the Navy’s recent approach to ship building, and the promise of capability and capacity – see Littoral Combat Ship. What can history tell us about nurturing at sea innovation? It is never easy. On June 20, 1815, the Navy’s first steam-driven warship, the Fulton I, underwent initial trials in New York. Fulton, named in honor of her designer, Robert Fulton, was intended to be a heavily-armed and stoutly built mobile fort for local defense. Put into service in 1816, she missed action in the War of 1812 and only performed a single day of active service in 1817 when she carried President James Monroe on a cruise in New York Harbor, before eventually being utilized as a floating barracks at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. You can learn more about this ship by visiting: http://www.history.navy.mil/danfs/f5/fulton-i.htm and http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-f/fulton.htm .

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Steam Battery “Fulton”. Lithograph by Ostervald, Paris, France, depicting the ship’s launching, at New York City, 29 October 1814.

 Despite her auspicious service, “Fulton the First” demonstrates the challenge – but also the promise – of developing new ways in accelerating our Navy’s advantage. So we ask: Can ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good enough’ when it comes to achieving and sustaining progress in naval warfare? Or are we relearning the lessons of our shipbuilding history in spiral development? Before you answer that, see: http://www.navy.mil/submit/display.asp?story_id=74922 .

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USS Freedom (LCS 1), March 1, 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class John Grandin/Released)

 

 
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 »

 
Feb 1

February 1, 1955: Task Force 43 Commissioned to Plan and Execute Operation Deepfreeze

Friday, February 1, 2013 1:00 AM
A Dog Team Trail Party leaves the unloading area at McMurdo Sound for a reconnaissance trip.

A Dog Team Trail Party leaves the unloading area at McMurdo Sound for a reconnaissance trip.

 

This article was written by Rear Admiral George J. Dufek, USN (retired) with Joseph E. Oglesby, JOC, USN. It was originally published as “Operation Deepfreeze Fits Out” in the March 1956 issue of Proceedings magazine.

When President Eisenhower an­nounced a renewal of American in­terest in the Antarctic early last year, he gave the Department of Defense the responsibility for supporting American sci­entists in the greatest American undertaking in the barren history of the Antarctic.

Considering the complexities involved, it immediately became apparent that the Navy would draw the bid as the Defense agency best qualified to undertake the four-year task. At a point some eleven thousand miles south of Boston, the Navy had to build three permanent bases (one of them by air­drop at the South Pole) and an air operating facility big enough to handle four-engine planes. It had to ferry thousands of tons of scientific supplies, countless gallons of gaso­line and other fuels, plus construction equip­ment including thirty-ton tractors, and a bewildering variety of equipment and pro­visions to aid the scientists during the Inter­national Geophysical Year (IGY) from July, 1957, through December, 1958.

The Navy had to begin moving early in 1955 to be prepared for the great scientific venture. Task Force 43 was formed under the Commander in Chief, U. S. Atlantic Fleet, as the support force for American participation in the year of science.

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 »

 
Jul 23

Sealab I

Monday, July 23, 2012 9:36 AM

Sealab 1 being lowered into the water from alongside the pier at the U.S. Naval Station Bermuda, July 1964.

Sealab I was the first experimental underwater habitat developed by the Navy to research the psychological and physiological strain of extended periods spent living and working underwater. Two more Sealab experiments followed the first, providing information that helped advance the science of deep sea diving and rescue. The following article, published in the February 1965 issue of Proceedings, discusses the goals of Sealab 1, and the results of the ten day experiment.

SEALAB I

by Lieutenant Commander Don Groves, U.S. Naval Reserve

An odd looking, 40-foot vessel, equipped with pontoon-shaped appendages, was launched from the navy’s oceanographic research tower, Argus Island, on 20 July 1964. Instead of floating, this vessel-the Sealab I-promptly sank to the bottom, 192 feet below the surface. Twelve hours later, four navy divers entered the Sealab 1, prepared to begin a unique 21-day experiment. Their assigment was to participate inthe Navy’s first protracted physiological-engineering test to determine how men can work freely and for extended periods in the hostile underwater environment.

Because of an approaching storm, the experiment had to be cut short after ten days of working in and around the ocean floor sea laboratory. In spite of this curtailment, however, all the experimental ovjectives of the project were accomplished. Moreover, othrough the man-in-the-sea, or Sealab, experiment, it has been concluded that total saturation dives in this depth in the open sea are now completely feasible. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jul 13

Exploring The Antarctic

Friday, July 13, 2012 9:52 AM

On July 13, 1939, RADM Richard Byrd was appointed as commanding officer of the 1939-1941 Antarctic exploration. This was Byrd’s third Antarctic expedition, and the first one that had the official backing of the U.S. Government. In honor of his work, and the work done by many others who braved the cold and ice, here is a brief history of American Antarctic exploration, originally published in the November 1961 issue of Proceedings.

Ice floes off the coast of Marie Byrd Land.

Charting of an Unknown Land: The Antarctic Continent

By SCOT MAcDONALD

There is a suspicion among some cartographers that Christopher Columbus carried with him on his first trip to the New World a map of the Antarctic coastline.

Later, so the story goes, a Turkish naval officer and geographer, Piri Reis, waylaid a former pilot of the famous explorer and swiped from him one of Columbus’ charts-the one purported to be of the Antarctic. Piri Reis then set about compiling a map of the world, using this chart and others, many first drawn some 300 years before Christ was born.

The existing fragment of the map (now in the Library of Congress) has stumped experts since its discovery. But famed cartographer Arlington H. Mallery believes he has solved the mystery. The fragment, he claims, represents an ice-free Antarctic continent as it appeared 5,000 years ago.

Though the map, or chart, is interesting, it hardly represents the continent as it appears today. Antarctica measures some 5 1/2 million square miles in area, most of this solid ice. Mountain ranges, peaks, and nunataks (out­croppings) pierce the ice sheet, sometimes in an expected orderly fashion, but more often in places completely strange and unsuspected. Read the rest of this entry »

 
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