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Apr 15

El caso Baltimore y el incidente Water Witch: dos casos de los EE.UU. en América Sur

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 9:40 AM
The USS Baltimore (Cruiser Number 3)

The USS Baltimore (Cruiser Number 3)

Los Estados Unidos (EE.UU.) tienen una historia muy extensa de intervención en América latina. Durante el siglo XX, los EE.UU. envió infantes de marina entre muchos países, en una época conocida como las guerras banana. Antes de estas incursiones, los EE.UU. luchó contra España y le quitó el imperio español de América latina después de casi cuatrocientos años. Usualmente, los historiadores miran la guerra español-americana como el punto donde los EE.UU. empezó ser un poder mundial y una nación imperialista. Pero, algunos historiadores apuntan a otros eventos como el punto donde los EE.UU. empezó a mirar su mismo como poder mundial. El caso Baltimore fue un conflicto diplomático entre Chile y los Estados Unidos durante los años 1890. Un buque estadounidense, el USS Baltimore, visitando la puerta de Valparaíso sufrió un ataque contra sus marineros por una turba chilena.

Harbour of Valparaiso, Chile.

Harbour of Valparaiso, Chile.

Este ataque casi precipitó la guerra entre los EE.UU. y Chile. La importancia del caso Baltimore, para la historiadora Joyce Goldberg, es que el caso prueba que los EE.UU. se vio a sí mismo como poder mundial. En esta interpretación la guerra español-americana solo es “considerablemente menos una causa del nuevo estado de los Estados Unidos como poder mundial que una expresión o una afirmación del poder y el rol que los EE.UU. ha tenido más temprano.”[1] (Goldberg, 142). Pero, la historia de los EE.UU. en América del sur muestra que incidentes como el caso Baltimore no son inusuales. En los años 1850, otro incidente casi estalló en una guerra entre un país suramericano y los EE.UU. El incidente Water Witch causó una pelea diplomática entre los EE.UU. y Paraguay e inició el viaje de la flota de buques de guerra estadounidenses más grande antes de la Guerra Civil. (Love, 242) Estos dos incidentes en la historia de relaciones entre los EE.UU. y los países de América del sur son pruebas de que los EE.UU. no actuaba diferente en los años 1850 y los años 1890. Desde que los EE.UU. no era poder mundial durante los años 1850s, como máximo los EE.UU. era un poder regional menor, el caso Baltimore no se puede ver como ruptura en conducta diplomática estadounidense. En lugar de ello, se debe considerar las acciones de los Estados Unidos durante el siglo XIX en su conjunto y como fundamente similares.

El incidente que empezó el caso Baltimore ocurrió el 16 de octubre 1891. El barco USS Baltimore estaba en la puerta de Valparaíso para proteger a ciudadanos estadounidenses y su propiedad. Chile estaba en una guerra civil entre las fuerzas de José Manuel Balmaceda, el presidente de Chile, y las fuerzas del Congreso chileno. El Baltimore llegó a Valparaíso en abril y se quedó en Valparaíso hasta octubre. (Goldberg, 2) Las fuerzas del Congreso ganaron la guerra civil con la derrota de las Balmacedistas en la batalla de Placilla en Augusto y el capitán del buque, Winifield Scott Schley, escribió a sus superiores que en su opinión la presencia del buque no era necesaria. (Goldberg, 2-3) Pero Schley fue ordenado a quedarse. (Goldberg, 3). Había indicaciones que a los chilenos no le gustaban la presencia del Baltimore. Por esta razón, Schley no permitió a sus marineros tener libertad a la orilla. Marineros de Alemania, Francia, Inglaterra fueron permitidos tener libertad, pero Schley sintió que había “sentimientos fuertes y de mucha hostilidad” de la población chilena. Pero en octubre su opinión del sentimiento público en Valparaíso cambió, reportando que “todo es tranquilo en Valparaíso, y las posibilidades de que todo colocarse mejora cada día.” (Goldberg, 3) El 16 de octubre, Schley finalmente permitió 117 libertades a la orilla.

El día pasó sin incidentes. Schley reporto que “Yo estaba muy impresionado por su disciplina, su limpieza, y su cortesía a todos que visten en las calles.” (Goldberg, 4) Otro oficial americano comentó que los marineros se comportaban bien, sobrios, e incluso saludaban a todos los oficiales de armadas extranjeras. (Goldberg, 4) Pero las dificultades empezaron cuando dos marineros estadounidenses visitaron una taberna llamada Taberna Verdadera Azul. Charles Riggin y John Talbot se estaban divirtiendo, cuando un soldado chileno quería empezar una pelea con Riggin. Talbot intentó parar la pelea pero el soldado escupió en su rostro y Talbot lo empujó al suelo. (Goldberg, 5) Una turba de chilenos inmediatamente se formó y atacó a los marineros. Talbot y Riggin huyeron y fueron separados. Intentando esconderse en un tranvía, la turba lo rodeó y forzó a Riggin y Talbot afuera. La turba inmediatamente cayó sobre Riggin, acuchillándole y golpeándole repetidamente. (Goldberg, 8) Talbot intentó a ayudar a su amigo, pero huyó cuando él fue acuchillado en la espalda.

La turba persiguió a Talbot, acuchillándole y lanzado piedras a él. Talbot trató de esconderse en una taberna, pero la turba lo encontró y trató por una hora de forzar la entrada y arrastrarle afuera. Talbot escapó solo cuando un policía le llevó a la cárcel, asegurándose de ocultar su uniforme bajó un abrigo grande. (Goldberg, 7) Riggin no era tan afortunado como su amigo. Otro marinero del Baltimore, sin uniforme, trató de ayudarle a escapar, pero un escuadrón de policías disparó sobre ellos y mataron a Riggin. (Goldberg, 9) A lo largo de Valparaíso, marineros en uniformes estadounidenses fueron atacados por turbas chilenas. El resultado de los disturbios el 16 de octubre fueron las muertes de dos marineros estadounidenses y la detención de cuarenta y ocho, diecisiete de ellos heridos seriamente. (Goldberg, 19)

Schley se informó de los disturbios la misma noche pero decidió dormir y buscar más información sobre la situación en la mañana. (Goldberg, 59) La próxima mañana Schley envió oficiales a Valparaíso para investigar la situación. El informe oficial de Schley sostenía que sus marineros no instigaron los disturbios y que ellos estaban sobrios. Según Schley, monjas en el hospital “declaraban sin reservación que los hombres estaban sobrios cuando ellos llegaban a esa institución.” (Goldberg, 60) Más prueba por su opinión que los marineros no instigaron el ataque fue la decisión del juez e intendente de Valparaíso de liberarlos “individuamente sin culpa.” (Goldberg, 61)

La versión de eventos descritos por autoridades chilenas era muy diferente de la estadounidense. Según el comandante de la policía, los disturbios empezaron por culpa de los marineros estadounidenses, quienes empezaron la confrontación con el soldado chileno en la taberna. (Goldberg, 10) También ellos afirmaron que no dispararon a los marineros. En cambio, insistieron que la muerte de Riggin fue causada por una pistola de la turba. Muchos de los policías declaraban que no era más de un disparo. (Goldberg, 13) Nadie sabe exactamente que pasó pero es más probable que la afirmación de los marineros es la versión correcta, a lo menos por las acciones de la policía. No podía ser solo un disparo porque el otro marinero con Riggin también tenía heridas de balas. El caso Baltimore al principio era un incidente bastante pequeño, lamentable, pero no tan importante que los EE.UU. y Chile podían luchar en una guerra sobre el incidente. Pero el orgullo y la determinación de estar en lo cierto casi condujeron a los EE.UU. y a Chile a una guerra.

La crisis diplomática empezó el 26 de Octubre cuando el ministro EE.UU. a Chile envió una carta al ministro de relaciones exteriores chilena, Don Manuel Matta, describiendo el incidente de la perspectiva del Capitán Schley y comentó que el gobierno de Chile todavía no se había disculpado. Esta carta enojó al ministro, que respondió muy enojado y dijo que no pudo comentar más hasta el fin del sumario chileno. (Goldberg, 64) La respuesta de ministro fue interpretada por algunos periódicos estadounidenses como intento de negar cualquier culpa chilena. También, los asuntos se pusieron peor por la falta de los chilenos de hacer el sumario tan rápido como los EE.UU. querían. Numerosos periódicos estadounidenses empezaron a surgir que puede ser necesario enviar la Armada estadounidense para recibir justicia. (Munchmeyer, 61) También, los chilenos comenzaban a creer que el ministro de los EE.UU. en Chile, Patrick Egan, pudiera deliberadamente estar retrasando la investigación. (Goldberg, 67) La opinión pública estadounidense continúo deteriorándose en relación a la amabilidad de Chile cuando los norteamericanos oyeron del tratamiento de otro marinero estadounidense en la policía chilena.

Un marinero, Patrick Shields, del buque comercial Keweenaw fue detenido por la policía la noche de 24 octubre con cargos sobre embriaguez. (Goldberg, 71) La próxima mañana, una vez que fue liberado, Shields fue detenido otra vez. Shields no fue liberado hasta el 2 de noviembre. (Goldberg, 72) Durante este tiempo, Shields se puso a trabajar barriendo las calles y también limpiando los establos policiales y otros quehaceres, día y noche. Shields fue golpeado brutalmente si él hacia una pausa. Según el testimonio de Shields, él perdió “casi un cuarto de galón de sangre y sangrado por la nariz y las orejas” debido a los golpes. (Goldberg, 72) Cuando él pudo regresar a su barco, fue declarado incapaz para servicio por muchas semanas. El ministro de EE.UU. en Chile investigó su tratamiento y descubrió que las autoridades chilenas no le dejaban ver a un juez y que su nombre no fue registrado en los registros oficiales de la policía. (Goldberg, 72-3) El tratamiento de Shields convenció a la opinión publica de los EE.UU. que los ciudadanos americanos no estaban seguros en Chile. “El caso de Shields reforzado la aserción que la policía chilena uso fuerza excesiva hacia los marineros estadounidenses y carecía de todos instintos humanitarios.” (Goldberg, 74)

La carta de Matta y otros disparates diplomáticos casi empujaron a los Estados Unidos y Chile a luchar. El Presidente de los E.E.U.U., Benjamín Harrison, consideró la carta de Matta “como insulto personal” y en diciembre pidió el gobierno chileno retirar oficialmente la carta. (Goldberg, 101) Pero el gobierno chileno también cometió otro disparate diplomático. El gobierno chileno pidió al gobierno estadounidense retirar a Patrick Egan y dijo que Egan era persona non grata. Esta petición enfureció a Harrison aún más. Él decidió el 21 de enero enviar una carta al gobierno chileno diciendo que “si las partes ofensivas del envío de 11 diciembre no son retiradas inmediatamente, y una disculpa adecuada no es ofrecida, con la misma publicidad que tenían las expresiones ofensivas, no tendrá ninguna apertura a él excepto terminar relaciones diplomáticos con el gobierno de Chile.” (Goldberg, 103) La crisis se acercó aún más a la guerra cuando los chilenos no respondieron inmediatamente. Cuando él no había recibido una respuesta, Harrison fue al Congreso estadounidense. Harrison pronunció un discurso que casi pidió para una declaración de guerra. “El mensaje de 25 enero pasó todo el embrollo Baltimore a la sola organización con el poder de declarar guerra, con la sugestión que tomó ‘tal acción como se puede juzgar como apropiada.’” (Goldberg, 108) Por los disparates de Chile, los EE.UU. y Chile casi fueron a la guerra.

En diciembre de 1891, la Armada de los EE.UU. empezaba a planear operaciones contra los chilenos. También, Argentina avisó a los Estados Unidos que fuerzas estadounidenses podían cruzar territorio argentino y que también Argentina podía proporcionar a la armada estadounidense carbón. Por esa ayuda, Argentina quería ganar territorio en el sur de Chile. (Goldberg, 120) La situación era muy grave para Chile. Pero, para evitar la guerra, el ministro de asuntos exteriores decidió acceder a los condiciones de los Estados Unidos. “En realidad, la resolución del caso no tenía nada del drama de su despliegue.” (Goldberg, 124) Chile acordó pagar reparaciones a las familias de los marineros. También, Chile renuncio la carta ofensiva de Matta. Finalmente, Chile decidió permitir que Egan se quedara en Chile hasta que Chile pudiera exhibir suficiente causa para su expulsión. (Goldberg, 128)

El caso Baltimore parece muy infantil para observadores modernos. Que dos naciones pueden ir tan cerca de la guerra por razones que consideramos tan insignificantes es casi inconcebible en la modernidad. Goldberg caracteriza el caso como un intento para flexionar el poder de los Estados Unidos, para demonstrar su poder a Europa y a su gente. Para Goldberg, el caso también significa que los Estados Unidos todavía no se había colocado en su posición como poder mundial. “Desde la diplomacia de los EE.UU. antes de 1898 frecuentemente finjo el hecho que estatus como poder mundial había estado indisputable para años, el gobierno estadounidense a menudo exageró la necesidad para acción enérgica o poderosa.” (Goldberg, 143) Según Goldberg, “una transformación en la política exterior estadounidense no llegara hasta que el ascenso de EE.UU. ha sido reconocido por su población propio.” (Goldberg, 143) Pero esta interpretación no es buena. Puede ver en otro incidente que el comportamiento de los EE.UU. no fue debido a que los EE.UU. no reconocia su nueva estatura. En el incidente Water Witch, un embrollo entre los EE.UU. y Paraguay que también casi terminó en una guerra, tenía muchos elementos en común con el caso Baltimore.

The attack on the USS Water Witch.

The attack on the USS Water Witch.

El incidente Water Witch empezó bastante bien, sin animosidad entre los estadounidenses y paraguayos. El buque Water Witch bajo el mando del teniente Thomas Page salió de los Estados Unidos con la misión de explorar y trazar un mapa del Río de la Plata y sus tributarios en febrero 1853. El Water Witch entró a la región del Rio de la Plata en el Rio Paraguay en Brasil y continuó hasta el rio Paraná en la frontera con Argentina. El presidente de Argentina, Justo José Urquiza, quien el año anterior había abierto todos los ríos de Argentina a todos, ordenó a todas las provincias argentinas que ayudaran al Water Witch con cualquiera de sus necesidades. (McKanna, 9-10) El buque exploró el Paraná hasta la frontera de Paraguay y preguntó del presidente Paraguayo, Carlos Antonio López, permiso para proceder a Asunción. El presidente trató el Water Witch y su capitán muy bien y le dio permiso para explorar el rio Paraguay hasta Bahía Negra, muy cerca de la frontera con Brasil y Bolivia. (McKanna, 10) López no les dio permiso para continuar hasta Brasil porque él temió que si sentaba precedente de navegación abierta del rio Paraguay, Brasil podía explotar esto para dominar a Paraguay. Pero la decisión de López prohibió a los brasileños explorar y desarrollar su propio territorio en Mato Grosso. (Love, 240) Page, ignorando el orden de López, exploró hasta Corumbá, Brasil. (McKenna, 11) Sorprendentemente, esta violación de los deseos de López no tenía consecuencias serias para las relaciones entre los Estados Unidos y Paraguay. Lo que realmente complicó las relaciones diplomáticas fueron las acciones del cónsul estadounidense, Edward Hopkins.

En agosto de 1854, el hermano de Hopkins era atacado por un soldado Paraguayo. Hopkins estaba furioso y fue a López, “en botas de montar y espuelas, llevando su sombrero y con un látigo de mano, gesticulando violentamente y exigiendo satisfacción.” (McKanna, 12) López castigó al soldado pero no dio a Hopkins una disculpa oficial. Esta decisión de López enfureció a Hopkins y causó una ruptura entre los dos. López expulsó Hopkins de Paraguay. Hopkins, temiendo por su vida, pido de Page protección. (Love, 241) De esa manera, Page se enredó en el conflicto.

El conflicto entre López y Hopkins también se extendió en el tratamiento de López a la compañía que Hopkins representó. López, con el pretexto de que la fábrica de la compañía fuera construida en tierra obtuvo ilegalmente, tomó la tierra y la propiedad de la compañía. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 71) Pero eso solo fue una excusa porque la tierra había sido adquirida legalmente completamente, la causa verdadera de la confiscación de López era el conflicto con Hopkins y la rentabilidad de la propiedad de la compañía. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 71) López no permitió a Hopkins ni a los representantes de la compañía salir de Paraguay, Hopkins por la falta de pago de sus deudas al gobierno de Paraguay, y los representantes porque ellos rechazaron dar a López la escritura de su fábrica. Page por lo tanto decidió asegurarlos y llevarlos de Asunción bajo la protección de sus cañones el 29 de septiembre. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 71 y McKanna, 12) Page con esta acción, enfureció y temió a López. Cuando Page salió Asunción, López cerró sus ríos a la navegación de todos extranjeros. Más tarde en octubre, Page recibió la autoridad de actuar como negociador de navegación entre Paraguay y los EE.UU y envió unos de sus oficiales entregar la carta oficial al ministro de relaciones exteriores paraguayo. El ministro no la aceptó, rechazando aceptar nada más que una copia en español. Page, faltando un traductor con suficiente conocimiento de español, y sabiendo que el gobierno paraguayo si tenía traductores, estaba furioso. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 45) Page pidió al secretario del Estado permiso regresar a Asunción con el Water Witch y otro buque para asegurar la aquiescencia de López. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 46) El secretario, por supuesto, no aprobó su petición.

Cuatro meses después, en febrero, Page envió el Water Witch bajo el mando de unos de sus tenientes, William Jeffers, a explorar el rio Paraná en la frontera de Paraguay y Argentina. En el curso de sus exploraciones, el buque pasó cerca de un fuerte paraguayo. Los paraguayos intentaron parar al Water Witch, por la orden de López que cerro los ríos paraguayos a todos, pero porque el Paraná es en la frontera de Argentina y Paraguay y el buque si tenía permiso para explorar de Argentina, Jeffers no prestó mucha atención a los paraguayos. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 50) El fuerte disparó dos tiros en blanco, pero su tiro de advertencia, por falta de una puntería mala, golpeó el timonel y le mató. El Water Witch trató de devolver el fuego, pero no pudo porque no tenía tantos cañones ni suficiente espacio en el canal para maniobrar sin peligro para combatir el fuerte. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 50-1) Jeffers regresó a Page quien preguntó al capitán de otro escuadrón de buques americanos para regresar a Paraguay y destruir el fuerte. (McKanna, 15) Este otro capitán rechazó sin permiso del secretario de la Armada para una acción punitiva. (Love, 242) Al principio, los Estados Unidos no prestó tanta atención al incidente Water Witch. El congreso estadounidense investigó el incidente y decidió que la culpa era de Paraguay y que el Presidente Pierce “está autorizado…a usar cualquier fuerza que en juicio puede ser necesario.” (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 5) Pierce, porque tenía muchos problemas domésticos, no hizo nada. Su sucesor, James Buchanan, decidió forzar a Paraguay dar satisfacción por el ataque y envió “la expedición putativa más grande durante un tiempo de paz jamás reunida durante la edad de la vela.” (Love, 242) La expedición tenía como su misión asediar y ocupar Asunción. López, por el consejo de Urquiza, se disculpó por todo, acordó pagar compensación a Hopkins y la Armada, y abrió sus ríos a la navegación estadounidense. (Love, 243)

El incidente Water Witch es muy similar al caso Baltimore. Los dos empezaron por insultos pequeños y casi terminaron en la guerra. Aunque los incidentes aparecieron muy tontos para observadores modernos, para personas en el siglo XIX los episodios eran tan importantes que ellos estaban listos para pelear, morir y exigir reparación para el honor de la patria. Los dos incidentes no fueron a la guerra porque Chile, en el caso Baltimore, y Paraguay, en el incidente Water Witch, eran más débiles que los EE.UU. La actitud de muchos en el siglo XIX se ejemplifica en el consejo de teniente Page cuando aconsejó al secretario del Estado que “hay algunos gobiernos con quienes relaciones pacíficas y amables… pueden mantenerse solo por una exhibición de fuerza suficiente y una determinación a someterse a ninguna indignidad.” (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 39) Lo que se consideró acciones aceptables para naciones durante del siglo XIX era bastante diferente de lo que se permite hoy. Por lo tanto, considerando el caso Baltimore con el incidente Water Witch en la mente, el caso Baltimore ya no aparece como una falta diplomática, sino más bien como un episodio donde la diplomática siguió reglas muy diferentes y donde que una acción que hoy se considera infantil era completamente legitima. Las leyes de la diplomática en el siglo XIX eran diferentes que hoy, si países no jugaron con respeto de estas leyes, ellos ya ha perdieron

[1] Todas las traducciones de citas son del autor.

 
Apr 15

Bainbridge Launches as 1st Nuclear-Powered Destroyer

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 7:50 AM
The nuclear-powered destroyer Bainbridge enters the water for the first time, April 15, 1961. (U.S. Navy Photograph NH 98110, Naval History & Heritage Command)

The nuclear-powered destroyer Bainbridge enters the water for the first time, April 15, 1961. (U.S. Navy Photograph NH 98110, Naval History & Heritage Command)

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

When the warship slipped into the frigid waters at Quincy, Mass., 54 years ago, there was a lot riding within the ship’s broad beam. The guided missile destroyer leader Bainbridge, launched on April 15, 1961, was the first nuclear-powered destroyer.

Portrait of Commodore William Bainbridge

Portrait of Commodore William Bainbridge

The ceremony was held just 10 miles from where the ship’s namesake: Commodore William Bainbridge, was superintendent of the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. The destroyer would be the fourth ship named after the commodore, infamous as the commander of USS Philadelphia, captured by the Barbary pirates and imprisoned for nearly for two years, and as the commander of USS Constitution during her War of 1812 glory years.

By the time of Bainbridge’s commissioning 20 months later, she became the third nuclear-powered surface ship in the Navy, joining aircraft carrier Enterprise (CVN 65) and cruiser Long Beach (CGN 9). The submarine Nautilus (SSN 571) had already proved a resounding success having been commissioned in the Navy in 1954.

The first – and only one – of her class of destroyer leaders (she would later be reclassified a guided missile cruiser), Bainbridge was clearly built to perform a number of missions. She was broader in beam (58 feet) than most cruisers (55 feet) and only two feet shorter at 565 feet than a cruiser, with a speed of 34 knots and a crew that grew to nearly 600.

At the time, most destroyers, while wider in the beam at 66 feet, were only 510 feet in length, with a speed of 30+ knots and a crew of 323.

The reactor compartments – buried deep within the ship – contained 100 tons of lead shielding to protect the crew from the radiation created from the fissioning of nuclear fuel within the reactor. The pressurized water of the primary system transferred the heat generated by fission across the metal U tubes of the steam generators, creating steam in the secondary system that was used to drive the turbines for propulsion and to generate electricity.

A port bow view of the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser USS Bainbridge (CGN 25) underway, Nov. 1, 1986. National Archive photo

A port bow view of the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser USS Bainbridge (CGN 25) underway, Nov. 1, 1986. National Archive photo

After the energy was extracted from the steam by the generators, the steam returned to liquid form in the condensers, and was recirculated back to the steam generators. The water from this secondary system did not mix with the primary system water that passed through the reactor core. This design created a protective barrier that contained any radioactivity to within the primary system of the reactor compartment.

All that was easy; the tricky part was recreating a nuclear power plant that could withstand a ship’s rigorous operations within a variety of sea-states, and provide power automatically under combat conditions – all while keeping the environment stable within the reactor.

With the drama of the Cuban Missile Crisis being carried out a few hundred miles away, Bainbridge carried out her sea trials shortly after her October 1962 commissioning, performing antisubmarine warfare and gunnery training off the waters stretching from Charleston northward to the Virginia capes.

Just months later in February 1963, Bainbridge became the flagship of Destroyer Squadron 18, homeported in Charleston, S.C. A couple days later, Bainbridge joined Enterprise and 20 other ships of Task Force 25 as they trained in tactics of formation steaming and inter-ship communications while crossing the Atlantic to the Mediterranean. More than once, Enterprise and Bainbridge cruised alone while the conventionally-powered ships were forced to refuel or change course to refuel due to weather conditions.

Bainbridge’s remarkable success – from her sea trials to service in the Navy – was part of a Joint Committee report offered to Congress in Dec. 1963 that urged “The United States must prosecute vigorously the conversion of the Navy to nuclear propulsion in the surface fleet as well as in the submarine fleet.”

The report was written in part because the Department of Defense had announced in October 1963 to build the proposed and unnamed CVA 67 as a conventionally-powered aircraft carrier, rather than the proposed nuclear-powered one like Enterprise. Just a few weeks later, President John F. Kennedy would be assassinated, and to honor him, the Navy named the aircraft carrier after the former PT boat commander.

Capt. Raymond E. Peet, commanding officer of Bainbridge, testified before the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy about his ship’s performance.

“Nuclear power does an awful lot for a destroyer. It gives us a new dimension really,” Peet told the committee. “Up to now our limit has been fuel – just how far can we go on fuel — that is no longer a limit with the Bainbridge.”

Nuclear-power also gave Bainbridge the advantage of anti-submarine warfare potential. During one operational exercise in the Mediterranean, Peet explained, his ship was asked to provide antisubmarine warfare support for amphibious operations. He got there 12 hours ahead of any other ship due to Bainbridge’s high-speed endurance, and was able to locate an attacking submarine and put it out of action.

The Navy hasn’t “begun to tap the possibilities” of nuclear power and what it means to have a “real ready unit” that offers “seapower right from the word ‘Go,’” Peet said in his testimony.

“Nuclear power in a destroyer does give you another dimension. We talk of readiness. Our job is to be ready to do whatever we need to do,” he testified. “We know the reactors are ready at a moment’s notice. We always have full power on the line. All we have to do is to open the throttle and go. You can accelerate in a hurry. You can go from dead stop to full speed and stop again. You can do this as many times as you want with a nuclear powerplant. I don’t care whether it is India, South America, South Africa – any place. It is ready to go as fast as it takes me to pull in the lines and get going. We haven’t begun to tap the possibilities here.”

 

 
Apr 12

USS Theodore Roosevelt Kicks off Operation Deny Flight

Sunday, April 12, 2015 7:23 AM
Flight deck crewmen watch from the deck edge as an F/A-18C Hornet aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 (VMFA-312) is launched from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) during Operation Deny Flight May 1, 1993. National Archive photo

Flight deck crewmen watch from the deck edge as an F/A-18C Hornet aircraft from Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312 (VMFA-312) is launched from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) during Operation Deny Flight May 1, 1993. National Archive photo

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood,

Naval History and Heritage Command Communication and Outreach Division

 When the provinces and states within the former Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia began to seek independence in 1991 from the culturally-diverse soup of the region known as the Balkans, it was like having the peas and carrots fighting the celery and potatoes.

The United Nations got involved to keep the fighting from boiling up into the airspace that encompassed an area roughly the size of New England plus the eastern half of New York. But their efforts to police the airspace mostly failed, with the UN reporting as many as two violations a day.

The UN Security Council authorized its members to use force to protect the no-fly zone, so it was 22 years ago today, on April 12, 1993, Operation Deny Flight began. Who better to handle “speak softly but carry a big stick” diplomacy than USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71).

Just a month earlier, while visiting the Roosevelt cruising off the Virginia Capes, President Bill Clinton said: “When word of a crisis breaks out in Washington, it’s no accident that the first question that comes to everyone’s lips is ‘Where’s the nearest carrier?’”

So where was the nearest carrier?

A bow view of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) underway en route to the Adriatic Sea. The carrier is part of a battle group that will be replacing the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) battle group that is currently maintaining the U.N. mandated no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina March 11, 1993. National Archive photo

A bow view of the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) underway en route to the Adriatic Sea. The carrier is part of a battle group that will be replacing the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) battle group that is currently maintaining the U.N. mandated no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina March 11, 1993. National Archive photo

On April 12, it was conveniently out in the Adriatic, off the coast of the rapidly dissolving Yugoslavia, the Roosevelt and its Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8—sailed, ready to answer the call if needed. And they were needed.

From Sky Monitor to Deny Flight

In 1992, the Socialist Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina voted to break away from the disintegrating federation. However, the Bosnian Serb population within Bosnia and Herzegovina rejected this, set up their own republic, and appealed to Serbia for assistance in securing territory in their new state.

As the fighting escalated into full scale war and threatened international peace and security, the United Nations Security Council issued Resolution 781 in October 1992. The resolution attempted to limit the war as much as possible to the ground by banning all military flights over Bosnian airspace. NATO’s Operation Sky Monitor started, and a no-fly zone was created.

A Fighter Squadron 84 (VF-84) F-14A Tomcat aircraft is launched from the aircraft carrier THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) during Operation Deny Flight April 1, 1993. National Archive photo

A Fighter Squadron 84 (VF-84) F-14A Tomcat aircraft is launched from the aircraft carrier THEODORE ROOSEVELT (CVN-71) during Operation Deny Flight April 1, 1993. National Archive photo

The no-fly zone, however, was also frequently ignored. By April 1993, NATO estimated the resolution had been blatantly violated more than 500 times—or roughly at least twice a day. In response, the UN issued Resolution 816. The UN Security Council now authorized its members to take all necessary measures “in the event of further violations, to ensure compliance with the ban on flights.”

It was into this quagmire the “Big Stick” brought her arsenal of Tomcats, Hornets and Prowlers.

NATO commanders were forced to assign escorts to protect reconnaissance aircraft from Bosnian antiaircraft artillery and surface-to-air missiles (SAMs). As ODF got underway, pilots encountered fierce resistance as the Serbs fired at TR’s Tomcat and Hornet aircraft.

Complicating matters was the difficulty in determining friend from foe: Croatians flew helicopters painted white, which was similar in color to UN helicopters, while Bosnian Serbs flew Gazelles with red crosses on the side, similar to the universally-accepted International Red Cross. The deception was even carried out by Serbian Gen. Ratko Mladic, whose helicopter had a red cross painted on it, according to author Michael Beale in Bombs over Bosnia: The Role of Airpower in Bosnia-Herzegovina. Knowing NATO forces wouldn’t fire on non-aggressive violators of the no-fly zone, they would often land as ordered, wait for the enforcers to leave, and then continue on their missions.

Despite these obstacles, TR continued to meet the demands of the mission. In the beginning, though, each side was still discovering and trying to counter the others’ tactics. The aircraft carrier’s EA-6B Prowlers from Electronic Attack Squadron 130 often provided the only means to counter enemy air defenses with AGM-88 High Speed Antiradiation Missiles (HARMs).

The Big Stick’s efforts continued until she was ordered to the Persian Gulf to support Operation Southern Watch – protecting the no-fly zone over Iraq — two months later on June 30, 1993.

A flight deck crewman attaches a sling to the underside of an HH-46D Sea Knight from Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 6 (HC-6) during a vertical replenishment operation aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The Roosevelt Battle Group is assisting in enforcement of the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina during Operation Deny Flight.

A flight deck crewman attaches a sling to the underside of an HH-46D Sea Knight from Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 6 (HC-6) during a vertical replenishment operation aboard the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The Roosevelt Battle Group is assisting in enforcement of the no-fly zone over Bosnia-Herzegovina during Operation Deny Flight.

Between November 1992 and July 1995, NATO monitors counted 5,711 helo violations of the Bosnian airspace, but the raids prevented the warring factions from effectively using their air power. Allied aircraft, whether taking off from nearby air fields or catapulted from the decks of aircraft carriers, flew a total of 100,420 sorties during the 983 days of Deny Flight.

 

 
Apr 11

Naval Battles of the American Revolutionary War

Saturday, April 11, 2015 3:21 PM
On April 24, 1778, during the American Revolution, Continental Navy sloop-of-war Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones, captured British HMS Drake, off Carrickfergus, Ireland. This painting is by Arthur N. Disney, Sr. NHHC image NH 48548-KN.

On April 24, 1778, during the American Revolution, Continental Navy sloop-of-war Ranger, commanded by John Paul Jones, captured British HMS Drake, off Carrickfergus, Ireland. This painting is by Arthur N. Disney, Sr. NHHC image NH 48548-KN.

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

Despite the success of the fledgling Continental Navy during the American Revolution the ending of the war actually brought an end to our nation’s first navy. A few months after the British defeat at the Battle of Yorktown Oct. 19, 1781, the British Parliament made its first overtures to the United States to begin peace talks the following spring.

Nearly a year later, the Confederation Congress issued a proclamation on this date (April 11) in 1783, “declaring the cessation of arms” against Great Britain, which had passed a similar proclamation Feb. 4, 1783. It was an incredible victory for an upstart nation with no navy against the power of Great Britain and the fleet of the Royal Navy.

From the littorals, lakes, and the sea, to coastal towns from north to the south, the young republic’s hastily pieced-together and inexperienced Continental Navy was mostly made up of private vessels carrying their “Letter of Marque,” which granted privateers the authority to attack foreign ships. Though most of their actions aren’t well known, they played a pivotal role in naval operations and showed the importance and need for vessels to challenge the British and their ships of the line.

On May 14, 1775 in the waters of Buzzard Bay, off the coast of Fairhaven, Mass., one of the first naval battles was fought just 25 days after the Battle of Lexington and Concord. It began what is often considered today a lost chapter of the navy’s history. Aboard sloop Success, commanded by Capt. Nathaniel Pope and Capt. Daniels Egery, a small force of men from the town of Fairhaven captured two British sloops and their crews.

In mid-June moving north we come to the port of Machias, Maine, then part of northern Massachusetts. Local towns were experiencing first hand harassment by the British, so, like in Fairhaven, they took matters into their own hands. Local Capt. Jeremiah O’Brian and an armed crew aboard sloop Unity joined by other ships attacked and captured schooner HMS Margaretta. O’Brian went on to actively engage enemy ships that posed threats to the Massachusetts coast during the war.

That was followed in August when the townspeople of Gloucester, Mass., called upon their militia to capture British seamen attempting to seize a grounded American merchant and then recaptured another merchant schooner.

These first battles sparked a level of confidence among the townspeople and seafaring communities that they could challenge and overcome the British as they seized American merchant ships of commerce and harassed local communities up and down the Eastern seaboard. And it finally convinced the leaders of our developing nation they needed to combat the vulnerability of the coastal seafaring communities to British waterborne assault.

Commodore Esek Hopkins

Commodore Esek Hopkins

It was Oct. 1775 when the Continental Congress authorized the building our Nation’s first Navy. They selected a commander for the Continental Navy, Esek Hopkins, and commissioned 18 naval officers, established two Marine battalions; even established pay and subsistence standards; authorized prize moneys for the capture and sale of enemy warships; adopted a naval code of discipline drafted by John Adams; and formed an administrative body, the Marine Committee, to give guidance and direction to our new navy.

It was a bold signal by America’s early leaders they were willing to challenge Great Britain on the high seas.

Commodore Hopkins was responsible for one of the early American naval victories when his squadron traveled south to the Bahamas in February 1776. Along with a battalion of Marines, the Hopkins-led squadron launched an amphibious landing on March 3 and raided the British colony of Nassau for military supplies that would benefit the Continental Army.

The brig Nancy flying the flag of the United States, first hoisted at the island of St. Thomas upon the news the United States was declaring its independence from Great Britain. Before that declaration could be signed, however, the brig was destroyed after her supplies were off loaded by Lexington and Wasp crew commanded by Capt. John Barry. Drawn and engraved by John Sartain.

The brig Nancy flying the flag of the United States, first hoisted at the island of St. Thomas upon the news the United States was declaring its independence from Great Britain. Before that declaration could be signed, however, the brig was destroyed after her supplies were off loaded by Lexington and Wasp crew commanded by Capt. John Barry. Drawn and engraved by John Sartain.

 

Another American naval legend, Capt. John Barry, was doing his part protecting merchant ships as they brought supplies into the port cities of Philadelphia and Delaware Bay. In June 1776, as the American brig Nancy, loaded with her cargo of weapons and supplies intended for the Continental Army, moved closer to Cape May, N.J., two British ships were seen in pursuit of the brig.

Barry, aboard his frigate Lexington and his companion schooner Wasp, were called to engage the two ships. Heavy fog caused Nancy to sail into the delightfully-named Turtle Gut Inlet. Barry and his men boarded and successfully unloaded her cargo while manning and engaging the British who had heavily damaged the ship.

In a daunting gamble, Barry abandoned the Nancy, lowered her flag but not before leaving 50 pounds of gunpowder wrapped in the mainsail leading to the powder hold below deck. As British closed in, the fuse reached the hold … the explosion could be heard for miles. Barry, his ships and crew safely eluded the British and claimed both the victory and much-needed supplies.

While those battles were mostly in American waters, another legendary Continental Navy captain was making a name for himself a bit closer to the motherland. Capt. John Paul Jones, as the commanding officer of the sloop of war Ranger, battled the HMS Drake for an hour before claiming victory on April 24, 1778 in the North Channel off Ireland.

Battle between Continental ship Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis, Sept. 23, 1779. Oil on canvas, by Thomas Mitchell (1735-1790), signed and dated by the artist, 1780. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Battle between Continental ship Bonhomme Richard and HMS Serapis, Sept. 23, 1779. Oil on canvas, by Thomas Mitchell (1735-1790), signed and dated by the artist, 1780. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

 

Then more than a year later on Sept. 23, 1779, as commanding officer of the 42-gun former merchant ship Bonhomme Richard, Jones uttered his famous cry: “I have not yet begun to fight” as his crippled ship fought the larger 50-gun HMS Serapis in the waters off Flamborough Head.

Despite his sinking and burning ship, Jones refused to strike his colors. A well-timed grenade landed near ammunition on Serapis, and its ensuing explosion allowed Jones to get the upper hand and board the British ship upon their surrender. The captain who struck his colors that day was British. The Bonhomme Richard, however, sank the following day.

So what Revolutionary naval battle was the most important? The records and many historians might say it was the Battle of Nassau, the first victory of the newly-formed Continental Navy. That mission brought much-needed ammunition and gunpowder to the American army.

Treaty of Paris, signed Sept. 3, 1783.

Treaty of Paris, signed Sept. 3, 1783.

However your examination of history answers that question, it was on this date 232 years ago that, after eight years of skirmishes, smaller battles and outright war – on land and sea, Congress declared hostilities against its former motherland over. A few months later, on Sept. 3, 1783, the signing of the Treaty of Paris by members of the negotiating team brought an end to the American War of Independence. That treaty was ratified by Congress on Jan. 14, 1784.

What the British could not accomplish in war, peace did — the U.S. Navy which was disbanded after the war, leaving the new nation without a Navy until March 27, 1794, when President George Washington signed the Naval Act of 1794 authorizing the construction of six frigates. But that’s a whole ‘nother story… or two… or three.

 
Mar 26

March 27, 1953: Korean War Sailor Earns Medal of Honor

Thursday, March 26, 2015 3:57 PM
NH 59604 Hammond

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Francis C. Hammond

 

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood, Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Residents of Alexandria, Va. can honor an American hero with a tip of their hats to Francis C. Hammond Middle School on Seminary Road this Friday. It was 62 years ago on Friday when that school’s namesake, a young Alexandria man, performed “great personal valor in the face of overwhelming odds” while taking care of wounded members of the 1st Marine Division in South Korea.

Hammond was born Nov. 9, 1931 to Harry and Elvira Hammond, in Alexandria, Va. Harry worked at a pharmacy, and after high school Francis joined him, planning to become a pharmacist.

Then, on June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea. The United Nations Security Council called the invasion a “breach of peace” and President Harry S. Truman quickly committed American troops to a combined United Nations force to defend the 38th parallel.

Francis decided to enlist, joining the Navy. First, he headed off to the Navy’s Hospital Corps School in Great Lakes, Ill. Once a medic, he proceeded to California for more training. Anticipating he would be sent to Korea, Francis married his girlfriend in June 1952. The following year, Feb. 1, Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Hammond was assigned to the 1st Marine Division in South Korea.

On the night of March 26, Hammond and the 1st Marines were trying to retake Combat Outpost Reno, which the North Koreans had overrun earlier that day. The Marines encountered heavy mortar and artillery fire as they neared the outpost.

“We kept going forward and finally gained posts in a small shallow trench,” said Marine Sgt. William R. Janzen from a series of articles collected by B.J. Sullivan a librarian at the school which bears Hammond’s name.

Undeterred and undaunted by the mortar and artillery fire, Hammond got to work.

“He was all over the place patching up the wounded, no matter how slight their wounds,” Janzen remembered. “Even after he himself was wounded he continued moving about the area, ignoring his own wounds, and giving as much aid and comfort to the other wounded as he possibly could under the circumstances.

“The bravest man I saw out there that night was Corpsman Hammond.”

As a relief unit showed up, Hammond’s division was ordered to pull back. Hammond refused. According to the Virginia War Memorial’s website, “[he] did not want to leave his men, so he stayed behind to help evacuate the wounded, refusing care for himself. While assisting the units relieving them, [Hammond] was mortally wounded by enemy mortar fire.”

Four months later, an armistice would end the conflict.

For his actions, Hammond posthumously received the Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor. His Medal of Honor citation concludes, “By his exceptional fortitude, inspiring initiative and self-sacrificing efforts, HC Hammond undoubtedly saved the lives of many Marines. His great personal valor in the face of overwhelming odds enhances and sustains the finest traditions of the U.S. Naval Service. He gallantly gave his life for his country.”

A port bow view of the frigate USS FRANCIS HAMMOND (FF 1067) underway.

A port bow view of the frigate USS FRANCIS HAMMOND (FF 1067) underway.

In his honor, the Navy commissioned a frigate named for him on July 25, 1970, the USS Francis Hammond (FF 1067). She served her country until decommissioned in July 2, 1992.

The Francis C. Hammond High School was named for the Medal of Honor recipient in 1956. It became a middle school in the 1970s.

The Francis C. Hammond High School was named for the Medal of Honor recipient in 1956. It became a middle school in the 1970s.

The Francis C. Hammond High School, which opened in 1956, was named in his honor. Now a middle school, “the school crest (donated by the Class of ‘62) still graces the floor of Hammond’s central hall with the motto ‘Vivat Academia’ (Long live Academics) and is protected by four sparkling brass 3-inch .50 caliber ammunition shells (simulated) donated by the U.S. Naval Weapons Laboratory, Dahlgren, Virginia,” according to a city of Alexandria website. There is also the Francis Hammond Parkway, a street in Alexandria lined with tidy brick homes.

Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Francis C. Hammond never saw the middle school named in his honor. But no doubt another legacy Hammond would leave behind — Francis C. Hammond Jr., born a few months after his father’s death – would see the school named for his father’s selfless action.

 

 
Mar 21

Celebrating the First Women to Join the Naval Reserve Force

Saturday, March 21, 2015 8:00 AM
Chief Petty Officer Loretta P. Walsh photographed circa 1917 at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Chief Petty Officer Loretta P. Walsh photographed circa 1917 at Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, Philadelphia Pennsylvania. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

By Holly Quick, public affairs specialist, Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Every March during Women’s History Month we commemorate the diverse contributions women have made, and continue to make, to our nation and our military. This March also marks the Centennial of the Navy Reserve and it would be remiss not to celebrate the contributions of Chief Yeoman (F) Loretta P. Walsh, the first woman enrolled in the Naval Reserve Force, and the women who joined her in support of the First World War.

In March 1917, as the United States was reaching the final decision to enter World War I, the Navy’s need for clerical assistance was far greater than had been anticipated. Shore stations, whose activities had been increased by the preparation for war, were asking for assistance.

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels consulted with his legal advisers and discovered just because women had never served in the Naval Reserve as yeomen didn’t mean it was prohibited by law.

“Then enroll women in the Naval Reserve as yeomen,” said Daniels, “and we will have the best clerical assistance the country can provide.”

On March 19, 1917, the Navy Department authorized the enrollment of women in the Naval Reserve. Women served under Class 4, the Naval Coast Defense Reserve, of the 1916 United States Naval Reserve Force, which included members who were capable of performing special useful service in the Navy or in connection with the Navy in defense of the coast.

The circular from the Bureau of Navigation stated:

“The Bureau authorizes the enrollment of women in the Naval Coast Defense Reserve in the ratings of yeoman, electrician (radio), or in such other ratings as the commandant may consider essential to the district organizations.”

World War I Navy "Yeoman (F)" women lined up outdoors, with what might be the Washington Monument behind them, national mall, Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

World War I Navy “Yeoman (F)” women lined up outdoors, with what might be the Washington Monument behind them, national mall, Washington, D.C. Photo courtesy of Library of Congress.

On March 21, 1917, two years after the Naval Reserve was established, and two days after women were authorized to enroll in the Navy, Walsh enlisted in the Naval Reserve as a Chief Yeoman. By the time the U.S. joined its allies to fight in World War I on April 6, 200 women had joined her.

To distinguish these women from their male counterparts the Navy established the rate of Yeoman (F), though they were also known as “Yeomanettes” or “Yeowomen.” Men and women in the same rank earned equal pay, something that was unheard of in the civilian sector. However, unlike their male counterparts, the highest rank a Yeoman (F) could reach was that of chief petty officer.

 

At the signing of the armistice between the Allies and Germany on Nov. 11, 1918, a total of 11,275 Yeomen (F) had served in the Navy. All Yeomen (F) were released from active duty by July 31, 1919, and to them Secretary Daniels sent the following message:

“It is with deep gratitude for the splendid service rendered by the Yeomen (F) during our national emergency that I convey to them the sincere appreciation of the Navy Department for their patriotic cooperation.”

To read more about Women in the Navy, please visit NHHC’s website: http://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/diversity/women-in-the-navy.html

 
Mar 19

‘Sea Wolf’ Bulkeley’s European Theater Exploits Heroic

Thursday, March 19, 2015 7:40 AM
In Naples harbor, Italy, in August 1944, just prior to the Invasion of Southern France. Courtesy of Rear Admiral John D. Bulkeley, USN. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

In Naples harbor, Italy, in August 1944, just prior to the Invasion of Southern France. Courtesy of Rear Admiral John D. Bulkeley, USN. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

If you were intrigued last week by Lt. John D. “Sea Wolf” Bulkeley’s daring journey to drive his PT boat 600 miles in unchartered waters, through minefields and dodging Japanese patrol boats to get General Douglas MacArthur to safety, then you’re in luck today; there is more to his story. The commander of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three was no one-hit wonder when it came to World War II heroics.

Bulkeley’s exploits didn’t end in the Pacific Theater. By June 6, 1944, Lt. Cmdr. Bulkeley was commanding officer of the PT squadrons protecting the Normandy Invasion fleet from attacks by E-boats, the German version of Bulkeley’s own PT boats.

Photo of Lt. Cmdr. John D. Bulkeley dated dated Sept. 4, 1942. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Photo of Lt. Cmdr. John D. Bulkeley dated dated Sept. 4, 1942. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

During an interview with CBS journalist Charles Collingwood on July 3, 1944, Bulkeley explained his squadron protected minesweepers that cleared the path for the invading fleet of warships and landing craft of Operation Overlord. His PT boats were among the first to enter Cherbourg harbor, “but we didn’t stay long,” he quipped.

The PT boats were being used to draw fire from a shore battery that was holding out. Sure enough, they drew fire and just as surely, they it. When they returned the following day, there was a white flag on the fort.

Bulkeley shrugged off the interviewer’s concern about mines and having officers of high rank onboard. “Well, we’re used to mines and to high rank. We had the King of England aboard this ship (his flagship PT 517) not so long ago (the day before the invasion). … He asked me how I got along with the British. I told him I was getting along fine. In fact, five years ago, I married a British girl.”

When Collingwood asked Bulkeley which campaign was tougher, the Pacific or European theaters, Bulkeley explained it was the Pacific. “Over here (Europe) you don’t have mosquitos, malaria and rain. You have short distances to run. Only six hours of darkness right now, and you are fighting the Germans and not the [Japanese]. With the [Japanese], you know if you meet them, that it is a battle to the death. They don’t run away, and you know that if you are sunk, they will leave you to drown or try to kill you in the water. And then if you are lucky enough to reach land, they’ll kill you on the land. Over here, there is still some decency to war, if war ever can be decent.”

In mid-July, just 38 days after the Invasion of Normandy, he was given the command of destroyer Endicott (DD 495). The destroyer would be part of a ruse in appearing to invade La Ciotat to draw two German divisions from St. Tropez. The destroyer fired 3,000 rounds continuously over two nights, Bulkeley recalled in a Proceedings Magazine article in August 1994. The diversion worked. When Gen. Mark Clark landed his troops where the real assault took place in Southern France for Operation Dragoon on Aug. 15, 1944, he lost only one soldier who stepped on a mine.

Pictured from left to right: Lt. Cmdr. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., USNR, Commander of the Special Operations Group’s Eastern Diversionary Unit, Capt. Henry C. Johnson, commander Special Operations Group and Lt. Cmdr. John D. Bulkeley, commanding officer of USS Endicott (DD 495) on the destroyer’s bridge during the Southern France Operation in August 1944. This photo may have been taken after the Aug. 17 engagement that sank the German corvette Capriola and armed yacht Nimet Allah. Courtesy of Rear Adm. John D. Bulkeley Naval History and Heritage Command photograph NH 54383

Pictured from left to right: Lt. Cmdr. Douglas Fairbanks Jr., USNR, Commander of the Special Operations Group’s Eastern Diversionary Unit, Capt. Henry C. Johnson, commander Special Operations Group and Lt. Cmdr. John D. Bulkeley, commanding officer of USS Endicott (DD 495) on the destroyer’s bridge during the Southern France Operation in August 1944. Courtesy of Rear Adm. John D. Bulkeley Naval History and Heritage Command photograph NH 54383

Following the operation, Bulkeley was sent to Sicily for repairs to Endicott. Along the way, he heard two German gunboats were attacking two British ships, the Scarab and Aphis. “They were river gunboats built for China duty, and they had very little fire control. Their guns were small and their speed was not more than 8 or 12 knots,” he said.

Bulkeley turned his ship around immediately to provide assistance. “We soon saw huge clouds of black smoke, which looked almost as though some ships were on fire. I didn’t know what was on the other side, so I crashed on through.”

The British ships were in retreat, followed by the German corvettes Nimet Allah and Capriolo going 28-30 knots, Bulkeley recalled. Endicott was cruising at 36 knots.

“When you run into the enemy, you’ve got to attack, no question about it,” he said.

Unfortunately for Bulkeley, some of his guns had overheated during the heavy bombardment at La Ciotat and the breaches weren’t closing. There was only one gun working at mount three, and the gunner’s mate first class was pumping the shells in by hand and using a sledgehammer to close the breach.

With one gun blazing at two German ships armed with 5-inch guns, the Endicott zigg and zagged toward her targets. “We swept the decks with the 40-mm and 20-mm gunfire,” Bulkeley said. “By this time, we had closed to within 800 yards, and our 5-inch guns were scoring some hits. One of the ships capsized and the other sank later on.”

With the fight over, Endicott picked up 179 German survivors, giving them medical treatment.

Sketch by Radioman 2nd Class Grantier, depicting Lt. Cmdr. Bulkeley photographing the sinking of the German corvette Nimet Allah by Endicott during the Southern France Operation, Aug. 17, 1944. He is using a 35mm camera. Courtesy of Rear Admiral John D. Bulkeley, USN. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Sketch by Radioman 2nd Class Grantier, depicting Lt. Cmdr. Bulkeley photographing the sinking of the German corvette Nimet Allah by Endicott during the Southern France Operation, Aug. 17, 1944. He is using a 35mm camera. Courtesy of Rear Admiral John D. Bulkeley, USN. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Bulkeley would later serve on cruisers and a battleship, but he remained loyal to the needs of smaller craft, such as the Cyclone (PC 1) class most of which are still in service today.

“These boats are far more sophisticated,” he said of the PCs in the 1994 interview. “They are more capable, have more firepower, and are more deadly than I ever even envisioned in my PT boats. There’s a future for them all right.”

Those ships remain in service today and are an important part of the Navy’s presence in the U.S. Fifth Fleet area of responsibility.

 
Mar 13

Military Sealift Command and Innovation: New Platforms and Avenues for Meeting Navy’s Needs

Friday, March 13, 2015 3:00 PM
Sacramento (AOE-1), the first of a new class of underway-replenishment ships designed to provide fuel, ammunition, freight, and provisions to the fleet at sea. Bigger than most battleships of World War II, and comparable in size to many aircraft carriers of that period, her high speed makes it possible for Sacramento to operate as an integral part of a fast carrier task force. In one seven-month deployment to Vietnam, she provided rapid, versatile support to naval forces in that theater; cargo and passengers were transferred in alongside replenishments and by heavy-lift cargo helicopter on 583 different occasions.

Sacramento (AOE-1), the first of a new class of underway-replenishment ships designed to provide fuel, ammunition, freight, and provisions to the fleet at sea.

By Rear Adm. Kevin C. Hayes, Deputy Commander, Military Sealift Command

RDMLHayes

Rear Adm. Kevin C. Hayes

 

This day in 1964, our Navy commissioned USS Sacramento (AOE 1) at Seattle, Washington. She was the first ship that combined the characteristics of an oiler, ammunition and supply ship. Anyone familiar with the current class of fast combat support ships can see the enduring value of fast, one-stop shopping for our combatant vessels at sea.

Today’s Navy still puts a premium on the innovative design and use of new ship platforms, but it’s no secret that we operate in a tough fiscal environment. Budget realities mean leaders must provide the best possible bang for our nation’s buck while still meeting emergent requirements worldwide. As Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert outlined in his Sailing Directions, our number one priority is warfighting.

Military Sealift Command is a strong enabler for Navy and Marine Corps warfighting and this innovation mindset. In particular, the Afloat Forward Staging Base (AFSB) platform represents one centerpiece of the seabasing concept that will permit our forces to operate away from the shore, ultimately supporting special forces missions, counter-piracy/smuggling operations, maritime security operations and mine clearance, as well as humanitarian aid and disaster relief missions.

The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams/Released)

Keeping with MSC’s emphasis on innovation, in early 2012, MSC converted USS Ponce from an amphibious transport dock ship to an AFSB-I (Interim) that deployed to U.S. 5th Fleet roughly six months after work began. Ponce’s work in the region – which included acting as a base for mine-sweeping MH-53E Sea Dragons in the Persian Gulf as well as serving as a test bed for the deployment of the Navy’s new Laser Weapon System – continues to the present. The ship’s success is a terrific example of looking beyond a ship’s original design to leverage new capabilities.

The recently christened USNS Lewis B. Puller, expected to deliver later this year, is the first of three permanent vessels specifically designed as AFSBs and are built on the same hull as our new mobile landing platforms. Together, with several other vessels that MSC operates, Puller will give the Navy and Marine Corps team fresh, forward-based options for these critical missions.

To be sure, Puller and its sister AFSBs are no replacement for amphibious warships. They are intended for relatively secure maritime environments, where they can perform tasks that free up amphibious ships for their intended purpose – high-end warfighting.

Despite this caveat, Puller is an impressive at-sea home for warfighters and their equipment. Our Navy and Marine Corps demand innovative, cost-effective platforms like Puller. MSC will continue to provide the proven, expert operation of these vessels so warfighters can do their jobs.

 
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