Archive for the 'Ships' Category

Nov 19

The Measure of the Sierra Madre

Thursday, November 19, 2015 12:01 AM


An undated photo of the amphibious BRP Sierra Madre the Philippines have used as an outpost in the South China Sea.

On the 9th of May, 1997, the Philippine Navy’s dilapidated tank landing ship BRP Sierra Madre (LT-57) ran aground on a reef near the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands. She was stranded — but good — and it was certain the ship could not be removed under her own power. Six days later, two Chinese frigates are said to have steamed into the area, and to have trained their guns on the stranded hulk. It was alleged that no assistance was offered by the Chinese ships. But supposing they had, their assistance would neither have been desired nor… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 1

On Naval History Magazine’s Scope

Sunday, November 1, 2015 12:01 PM


CDR Robert Dunn stands in front of his A-4C Skyhawk before an Operation Rolling Thunder mission. (courtesy of retired VADM Robert F. Dunn, USN)

As the Navy attack group and supporting fighters headed west over North Vietnam, small gray puffs blossomed in the clear sky—antiaircraft fire. More appeared, joined by black bursts from larger AA guns and tracers from light guns. The flak quickly thickened, engulfing and buffeting the aircraft, while far below long orange flames indicated missiles headed skyward. The scene, as observed by then-Commander Robert F. Dunn from his A-4C Skyhawk, “was a maelstrom of sights and a cacophony of noise with warnings and voice calls. It reminded me of an orchestra with, at first, a few violins and other strings, then… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 28

History Made in a Hellcat

Wednesday, October 28, 2015 12:01 AM


Decorated Warbird: The F6F Hellcat, flown by Commander David McCampbell during World War II, sits on display at the U.S. Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Florida. (U.S. NAVY)

On the morning of 24 October 1944, in a pair of Hellcat fighters, Commander David McCampbell and his wingman, Ensign Roy Rushing, scrambled from the flight deck of the USS Essex CV-9) to repel a formation of 40 inbound Japanese aircraft. Rushing had a full load of fuel, but McCampbell had been forced to take off before his tanks were full. Undetected by the enemy, the two lone Hellcat pilots were able to position themselves above and behind the Japanese. As one of the enemy fighters began lagging behind the formation, McCampbell pounced like the lion who focuses its attack… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 27

Battle Report: Ramming Speed

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 10:22 AM


In the foreground the Union ram Monarch crashes into the General Beauregard during the confusing, lopsided Battle of Memphis.

  During the Civil War, the idea of Army and Navy forces operating jointly under a single commander was virtually unheard of. But an operation’s lack of “jointness” did not always spell defeat. In fact, the result could be spectacular victory. Such was the case on 6 June 1862 when Union Army and Navy forces afloat operated independently of each other at the only pure naval battle on the Mississippi. What follows is the Battle of Memphis report of Colonel Charles Ellet Jr., commander of the Army’s Ram Fleet, to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton.1   I left the shore… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 7

The Attack on the USNS Card

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 4:00 AM


USNS Card 1968

In the early morning hours of May 2nd, 1964, Captain Borge Langeland of the USNS Card (T-AKV-40) was supervising the loading of old helicopters aboard the converted auxiliary aircraft carrier for their return to the United States from the Port of Saigon. The Card had just unloaded her cargo of helicopters and fighter-bombers from Manila in the Philippines, and was now getting ready to sail again for the United States. It was all routine work. Capt. Langeland, a Norwegian by birth, was undoubtedly happy with routine. He had seen more than his share action as 2nd mate aboard the Norwegian… Read the rest of this entry »

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 23

“The Fastest Ship in the Navy”: The Strange Saga of the USS Reina Mercedes

Wednesday, September 23, 2015 6:00 AM


Reina Spanish

On April 29, 1898, Almirante (Admiral) Pascual Cervera y Topete of the Spanish Navy steamed out of Cape Verde islands with a fleet of four armored cruisers and three destroyers. His destination: the West Indies, to defend Spain’s empire against the American fleet. Hampered by a number of deficiencies, the fleet struggled into the harbor at Santiago de Cuba. Meeting and later joining the squadron there was the Reina Mercedes, an unarmored cruiser capabale of propulsion under both sail and steam. Built in Cartagena, Spain, in 1887, she had become the station ship at Santiago in 1892. By 1898, she… 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 »

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