Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Aug 27

Monument of the Month: The Naval Academy Skyhawk

Thursday, August 27, 2015 6:00 AM
A4D-2 Skyhawk

A4D-2 Skyhawk BuNo. 139968 on display at the Naval Academy, viewed from the Observatory.

One chilly December night in 1976, nearly the entire Naval Academy Cass of 1980 gathered in front of the Halsey Field House, dressed in their white works and sweats. It was the week of the Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia, and spirits were running high in spite of the 38-10 trouncing the team had received . They were a class with a purpose. The object of their mission: the A4D-1 Skyhawk on display by Worden Field.

The Skyhawk was a high-visibility target, having been placed by the parade grounds specifically for its visibility. One midshipman produced a saw, and soon the stanchions anchoring the plane in place were done away with. With nothing but their brawn, the class pushed the now-mobile aircraft through the streets of the Yard, carried it up two steep sets of stairs, and placed it square in the center of Rickover Terrace by the Nimitz Library. Another year’s prank well-done — though, reputedly, their class recreation fund would take a hit to remove the Skyhawk back to its home.

Many classes that have passed through the Academy have had their fun with the aircraft, but few know of its history.

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Aug 24

The Union Navy’s Stubby Gun

Monday, August 24, 2015 9:00 AM

By Spencer C. Tucker

Adapted from “Armaments and Innovations,” Naval History, April 2014

 

Early in the Civil War, specially built boats mounting 13-inch mortars were active on the upper Mississippi. But numerous problems with the raft-like craft led their commander to report that their "services have not been near equal to their cost." (Battles and Leaders of the Civil War)

Early in the Civil War, specially built boats mounting 13-inch mortars were active on the upper Mississippi. But numerous problems with the raft-like craft led their commander to report that their “services have not been near equal to their cost.” (Battles and Leaders of the Civil War)

The 13-inch Civil War sea mortar was a formidable weapon. But the use of this type of gun was not new; since the 17th century, high-trajectory mortar fire from special vessels known as bombs or bomb ketches had been used for shore bombardment. Heavy ordnance was more easily moved about on ships than on land, and the large sea mortars were mounted on strong beds turned on vertical pivots. Their explosive shells, fired at high angle, easily cleared the walls of forts to strike the targets within.

The 13-inch weapon weighed 17,250 pounds and rested on a 4,500-pound bed, or carriage. With a 20-pound charge of powder and the mortar at a 41-degree elevation, it could hurl a 204-pound shell loaded with 7 pounds of powder more than 2¼ miles. At that distance the shell was in flight for 30 seconds. The range could be adjusted by altering the powder charge or changing the mortar’s elevation. 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.

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.

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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.

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, and 73 crew members and passengers—including the head of the Bureau of Aeronautics, Rear Admiral William Moffett—lost their lives in the 1933 crash of the Akron (ZRS-4). The loss of the Macon therefore effectively ended the program and the Navy’s hopes of using the great airships as fleet scouts.

What follows is an account of the crash of the Macon from the mid-March 1935 issue of Our Navy magazine.

When the USS Macon plunged into the water of the Pacific a few miles off Point Sur, California, late on the afternoon of February 12, it probably ended, for some time to come at least, the Navy’s experiments in the use of lighter than air craft in connection with Fleet activities. The loss of the Macon following so closely upon the heels of the Shenandoah and the Akron disasters gave opponents of the dirigible a chance to vent their feelings in an “I told you so” manner. . . . Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 6

Sailing into the Future with the United States Coast Guard

Thursday, August 6, 2015 6:57 AM
USCG Eagle Mode.

Model of the USGG Eagle. Courtesy of Mr. Denis Clift.

In honor of the United States Coast Guard, which turned 225 years old this week, the Naval History Blog offers a selection from a speech delivered by A. Denis Clift, Vice President for Planning and Operations at the United States Naval Institute. In 2002, the United States Coast Guard formally entered the United States Intelligence Community, building on a long and distinguished career in law enforcement, defense, and myriad other maritime operations. In this October 2000 speech, as president of the Joint Military Intelligence College, Clift told the cadets at the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut, of the challenges they would face in their service. The ever-changing, evolving role of the Coast Guard evoked the image of the Greek god Proteus, with powers to change into any shape he pleased. So must the Coast Guard continue to face its challenges with the same spirit it has shown for hundreds of years. Those challenges require the best possible intelligence, and the Coast Guard is steadily improving its capabilities in that regard, as well as its interaction with the Intelligence Community. In closing, he cites some of the outstanding research conducted by United States Coast Guard officers in the master’s degree program at the Joint Military Intelligence College.

As a token of gratitude for his services, Mr. Clift was given a handmade model of the USCG Eagle — an image of which heads this article — by the US Coast Guard Academy Corps of Cadets

Built in 1936 in Germany and seized for reparations after World War II, the Eagle has served as the Coast Guard’s premier training ship, and, refitted and modernized, continues to blend training for the challenges facing our nation today with the finest of sailing traditions in the now-two-and-a-quarter-century-old sea service.

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Jul 27

Naval Aircraft Factory

Monday, July 27, 2015 2:23 PM
Flying Field and Beach Front at the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, PA

Flying Field and Beach Front at the Naval Aircraft Factory, Philadelphia, PA

On July 27, 1917, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels approved the construction of the Naval Aircraft Factory in Philadelphia to help solve aircraft supply issues during World War I. The project proceeded at an amazing timeline:

6 August 1917 – Contract was let.

10 August 1917 – Ground broken.

16 October 1917 – First machine tool in operation.

28 November 1917 – The entire plant was completed!

27 March 1918 – Only 228 days after groundbreaking, the first H-16 built by the Naval Aircraft Factory flew successfully.

H-16 circa 1918

H-16 circa 1918

 

Production ended at the Naval Aircraft Factory in early 1945. The main building still exists but was converted to a research and development facility for the Naval Surface Warfare Center.

 

Read more about the Naval Aircraft Factory in the January 1926 issue of Naval Institute Proceedings, available to members of the U. S. Naval Institute at usni.org/magazines/proceedings/archive

 
Jul 9

Out of Control Smoke Pot Forges Medal of Honor, Extinguishes Ensign’s Life

Thursday, July 9, 2015 1:19 PM

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

It was the night of July 9, 1943 and Operation Husky, the land and air operation to invade the island of Sicily had begun.

The weather was already causing havoc with airborne landings and tossing ships, laden with Army personnel.

What the allied forces lacked in weather cooperation they made up for in the one element they had working for them: the element of surprise. The Germans had fallen for the fake Operation Mincemeat, the details of they had obtained from a body dressed like a British naval officer the allies allowed to wash ashore in Spain with a briefcase filled with operational “plans” for an attack in Greece and Sardinia. The Germans diverted troops and equipment from Sicily giving the perfect opportunity for Operation Husky’s success.

But nothing ruins the element of surprise more than an explosion. As USS LST-375 inched closer to its amphibious landing at Licata, Sicily, 72 years ago today, something happened that put the mission into jeopardy.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for valor and courage above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Officer-in-Charge of USS LST-375 during the amphibious assault on the island of Sicily on 9-10 July 1943. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

He was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for valor and courage above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Officer-in-Charge of USS LST-375 during the amphibious assault on the island of Sicily on 9-10 July 1943. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

And that’s where John Joseph Parle’s bravery comes into this picture.

A native of Omaha, Neb., Parle was among the thousands of land-locked Midwesterners who joined the sea service following the attack at Pearl Harbor. He enlisted Jan. 11, 1942 at age 21 as an apprentice seaman, and was a 1942 ROTC graduate at Creighton University in Omaha, Neb. He began Midshipman training at Notre Dame University that fall and on Jan. 28, 1943, he was commissioned as an ensign.

After training with Amphibious Force at Norfolk, Va., the 22-year-old ensign was assigned as the officer in charge of small boats attached to LSTs, or Landing Ship, Tank, with the Northwest African Amphibious Force.

On July 9, 1943, his LSTs were prepared to bring members of the 7th Army’s 3rd Division, under the command of Lt. Gen. George Patton, to the port city of Licata off the southern coast of Sicily, while other 7th Army divisions landed at Gela and Agriento.

As the boats slipped toward their destinations, they towed smaller boats filled with explosives, ammunition, fuses and smoke pots. Smoke pots were devices used by the Chemical Warfare Service to create smoke screens, to provide visual aids for landing forces, or signify to friendly forces where not to shoot.

A smoke pot that accidentally was ignited may have been similar to the pictured HC MI as described in Ships Chemical Smoke Munitions ordnance pamphlet No. 1042 printed Sept. 25, 1943.

A smoke pot that accidentally was ignited may have been similar to the pictured HC MI as described in Ships Chemical Smoke Munitions ordnance pamphlet No. 1042 printed Sept. 25, 1943.

One of those smoke pots on Ensign Parle’s boat was accidentally ignited. Realizing the heat from the pot could set off one of the boats filled with explosives, causing a blast that would surely alert the Germans of their approach to Licata, Ensign Parle acted without hesitation. He entered the craft, already filled with smoke and fire, to snuff out burning fuses, and tried to extinguish the smoke pot. After several attempts failed, he seized the pot with his bare hands, ran topside and threw it over the side.

But his courageous action took its toll on the 23-year-old. After inhaling smoke and poisonous fumes that turned into pneumonia, he later died at a hospital in Tunisia.

For his heroic and courageous actions that not only saved other servicemen, but also ensured the security of the mission, Ensign Parle was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor for “valor and courage above and beyond the call of duty.” During the nearly the four years of WWII, the Navy only awarded 57 Medals of Honor, 15 of those for actions on a single date: Dec. 7, 1941.

Parle was buried at the Holy Sepulchre Cemetery in Omaha.

(DE-708) Coming alonside USS Intrepid (CVA-11) for a refueling exercise off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 29 January 1960. Photographer: PH3 R.W. Osburn Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

(DE-708) Coming alonside USS Intrepid (CVA-11) for a refueling exercise off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, 29 January 1960. Photographer: PH3 R.W. Osburn Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

A year later, his family ensured their son’s remembrance. On July 29, 1944, USS Parle (DE 708) was commissioned, sponsored by Parle’s mother, Mary Parle. The ceremony was a family affair. Serving as an altar boy for the ceremony was Parle’s younger brother, Richard, while his uncle, Father Tom Parle, gave the ship’s blessing.

USS Parle participated in operations in the Pacific Campaign through the end of World War II. In 1970, the last destroyer escort in the U.S. Navy was used as gunnery practice and sunk off northeastern Florida that October.

As for USS LST-375, the ship survived the invasion of Sicily, and went on to participate in both the September 1943 Salerno landings and the invasion of Normandy in June 1944. After earning three battle stars for World War II service, the LST was decommissioned in 1946, sold and scrapped in 1948.

 

 
Jul 4

America, Independence and Freedom: Three Great Names That Go Great With Navy Ships

Saturday, July 4, 2015 10:47 AM

By Joshua L. Wick
Naval History and Heritage Command, 
Communication and Outreach Division

When many Americans think of the 4th of July, a few words come to mind: Freedom, Independence, America. These words carry a certain weight; they represent power, strength and fortitude. So it’s no wonder why some of the greatest U.S. Navy ships have born these names.

Since the establishment of America’s Navy there have been very few years in which Sailors were not actively serving aboard ships with these names. To truly know these Sailors, we need to know their ships – as it is their ships bear witness to their selfless service to the country. The 4th of July, the anniversary of the birth of American freedom and independence, is a great time to reflect on the ships that have carried those names to the far corners of the earth in defense of America, freedom and independence.

The History of Navy’s ‘America’

The first ship to carry the name America, a 74-gun man-of-war, was laid down in May 1777. She never served the nation of her namesake; upon completion of construction she was gifted to France in appreciation of the partnerships with the new nation. The next ship was a racing yacht turned Confederate Civil War blockade runner turned Union blockader. Then passenger liner America saw service as a troop transport in World War I. The next in the line and the most famous to date is the Kitty Hawk-class carrier USS America (CVA 66). Her 30 years of service is just as interesting as her sinking. Her active service included deployments to in support of action in Vietnam, Lebanon, and Libya, as well as Operations Desert Shield, Desert Storm, and U.N. peacekeeping efforts over Bosnia. After retirement, America served her Navy by being sunk during a live-fire test and controlled scuttling ultimately helping naval shipbuilders and engineers better understand ship survivability. Lessons learned have been incorporated into following ship designs.

Arriving in New York Harbor, with her decks crowded with troops returning home from France, 1919. Photographed by E. Muller, Jr., New York. Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Arriving in New York Harbor, with her decks crowded with troops returning home from France, 1919. Photographed by E. Muller, Jr., New York. Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2007. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

USS America (CV-66) Underway in the Indian Ocean on 24 April 1983. Photographer: PH2 Robert D. Bunge. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

USS America (CV-66) Underway in the Indian Ocean on 24 April 1983. Photographer: PH2 Robert D. Bunge. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

The ‘America’ We Know Today 

Commissioned in October 2014, USS America (LHA 6), is first in her class and unlike any other amphibious assault ship in the fleet. She is specifically designed and built for flexibility of operation, energy efficiency and is able to handle the future of joint multinational maritime expeditionary operations. The ship and her Marine Corps elements can support small-scale contingency operations of an expeditionary strike group while remaining adaptable to new platforms like the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter and MV-22B Osprey.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 19, 2015) The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) is underway off the coast of San Diego preparing for final contract trials.

PACIFIC OCEAN (Feb. 19, 2015) The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) is underway off the coast of San Diego preparing for final contract trials.

The History of Navy’s ‘Freedom’

The Navy’s first ship to be called Freedom actually started as the German ship, SS Wittekind, built in Hamburg, Germany in 1894. She was seized by the United States Shipping Board in 1917 and renamed Iroquois. First chartered by the Army as a transport vessel she was renamed Freedom (ID 3024) in 1918. Shortly after she was acquired by the U.S. Navy on January 24, 1919 she only operated briefly as a member of the Navy’s Cruiser and Transport Force before she was decommissioned in September 1919. The second Freedom (IX 43) was an auxiliary schooner, acquired by the Navy in 1940. She was assigned to the Naval Academy where she has served in a noncommissioned status through 1962.

(ID # 3024) In port in 1919, while engaged in transporting U.S. troops home from France. Note inscription at the bottom of the image: U.S.S. Freedom, the ship that brought me home. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1970. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

(ID # 3024) In port in 1919, while engaged in transporting U.S. troops home from France. Note inscription at the bottom of the image: U.S.S. Freedom, the ship that brought me home. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1970. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

The ‘Freedom’ We Know Today

USS Freedom (LCS 1) is a response to the Navy’s need for smaller, multipurpose warships that operate in littoral or coastal water. In addition to operating in the shallows, Littoral Combat Ships are designed to evolve with an ever changing battle space and can be reconfigured for surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare and mine countermeasures missions. Limited crew requirements, speed exceeding 40+ knots, and maneuverability make Freedom a flexible combatant. On Feb. 16, 2010 Freedom made her maiden deployment to the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific via the Panama. Most recently, in May 2014 Freedom successfully conducted the first combined at sea operation between an unmanned MQ-8B Fire Scout and manned SH-60 Seahawks.

PACIFIC OCEAN (April 28, 2015) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) transits alongside the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in preparation for a replenishment-at-sea training exercise. U.S. Navy ships are underway conducting an independent deployer certification exercise off the coast of Southern California.

PACIFIC OCEAN (April 28, 2015) The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) transits alongside the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in preparation for a replenishment-at-sea training exercise. U.S. Navy ships are underway conducting an independent deployer certification exercise off the coast of Southern California.

The History of Navy’s ‘Independence’

 

Of the three names in this post, the name Independence has graced more ships than the other two. The firstIndependence, a Continental sloop built in Baltimore, Md., was sailing with Ranger and John Paul Jones in 1776 when Ranger received the first national salute of our flag. The next Independence, a ship-of-the-line, was commissioned in June 1814 and immediately joined frigate Constitution protecting Boston Harbor during the War of 1812. Over the course of the next 99 years, she was brought in and out of service (mostly in) until finally decommissioning just two years shy of the 100th anniversary of her launching. From one of the Navy’s longest-lived ships, to one of its shortest-lived, the next Independence was a steamer commissioned Nov. 16, 1918 that made one cargo run to Europe, returning to the state and decommissioned just four months and four days later on March 20, 1919. Two aircraft carriers have born the name. The first, (CVL 22), was commissioned Jan. 14, 1943 and served with distinction during World War II. The fifth Independence, (CVA-62), was commissioned Jan. 10, 1959 and served for more than 39 years seeing action in the Cuban Missile Crisis, Vietnam and Desert Storm before being decommissioned Sept. 30, 1998.

The ‘Independence’ We Know Today

At anchor, while wearing dazzle camouflage, circa 1918. This photograph may have been taken in the San Francisco Bay area, California, before she was taken over by the Navy. She was built in 1918 at San Francisco as SS Independence. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

At anchor, while wearing dazzle camouflage, circa 1918. This photograph may have been taken in the San Francisco Bay area, California, before she was taken over by the Navy. She was built in 1918 at San Francisco as SS Independence. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

The sixth ship to bear the name is USS Independence (LCS 2). Commissioned in January 2010, her unique design and use of interchangeable technology, like USS Freedom (LCS 1), allows for operational flexibility supporting various mission requirements. In April 2012 she passed through the Panama Canal for the first time, trained with the Mexican Navy, and accomplished her first visit to a foreign port when she put in to Manzanillo, Mexico where her Sailors participated in a community outreach project. In 2014 she took part and successfully completed RIMPAC 2014.

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 23, 2014) The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) transits during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014.

PACIFIC OCEAN (July 23, 2014) The littoral combat ship USS Independence (LCS 2) transits during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2014.

For most of the 239 years since America seized freedom and declared its independence, our Navy has included ships that go by those names; lasting symbols of their namesakes and reminding us all of the historic document boldly signed by our nation’s founding fathers on that fourth day of July day in 1776.

Official U.S. Navy photo illustration by Annalisa Underwood, Naval History and Heritage Command /RELEASED.

Official U.S. Navy photo illustration by Annalisa Underwood, Naval History and Heritage Command /RELEASED.

 

 
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