Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Jun 9

Dive on Houston Day 1: NHHC Underwater Archaeologist Arrives in Jakarta, Begins Mission Planning

Monday, June 9, 2014 2:39 PM

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Dr. Alexis Catsambis, an underwater archaeologist with the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Dr. Alexis Catsambis, an underwater archaeologist with the Naval History and Heritage Command.

After a three day and more than 10,000 mile journey from Washington, D.C., Naval History and Heritage Command Underwater Archaeologist Dr. Alexis Catsambis arrived in Jakarta, Indonesia June 9 to begin collaboration on a survey of the World War II wreck of the cruiser USS Houston (CA 30).

The survey is a training evolution as part of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) 2014 exercise series and involves Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit One divers embarked in USNS Safeguard (T-ARS-50), assisted by personnel from the Indonesian navy.

110329-N-5716H-632 NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN (March 28, 2011) — The rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) flies Japanese and U.S. flags from the ship's yard arm while anchored in the mouth to the port of Miyako in North Eastern Japan while supporting relief operations. Tortuga is operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility supporting Operation Tomodachi as directed.

NORTH PACIFIC OCEAN (March 28, 2011) — File photo of the rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) off the coast of Japan.

Houston was chosen as the site for the training after reports surfaced of illicit salvage operations on the ship which remains sovereign property of the U.S. under customary international law. In addition to threatening a valuable cultural resource, illicit salvaging could also damage what is a popular recreational dive site (non-intrusive, sport diving on Navy wrecks is not only legal, but encouraged as recreational divers are often the first to alert authorities when something is amiss).

USS Houston (CA30) in San Diego Bay with President Roosevelt and Adm. Reeves aboard, Oct, 1935.

USS Houston (CA30) in San Diego Bay with
President Roosevelt and Adm. Reeves aboard, Oct, 1935.

Catsambis is on hand during the dive to provide operations planning support in order for the mission to effectively document the state of preservation of Houston. Documentation methods will include personal inspection by divers, as well as the planned use of sonar sensing systems and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV).

After arriving Monday morning, Catsambis met with Capt. Mark Stacpoole, U.S. Naval Attaché to the American embassy in Jakarta and an outspoken advocate for the preservation of Houston, which is the final resting place for the more than 700 Sailors and Marines lost with her.

Catsmabis then met to discuss the operation with Chief Warrant Officer Jason Shafer, Mobile Diving Salvage Unit One’s Diving Officer for the survey.

Shafer and Catsambis joined the survey’s master diver for an interview with three reporters from Kompas, the Indonesian equivalent to the New York Times. They answered questions and the reporters were given a tour of the ship.

140609-N-NT265-337 JAKARTA (June 9, 2014) – Dr. Alexis Catsambis, assigned to Naval History and Heritage Command, participates in an interview with Indonesian press on the Military Sealift Command Rescue and Salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50).

JAKARTA, Indonesia (June 9, 2014) – Dr. Alexis Catsambis, assigned to Naval History and Heritage Command, participates in an interview with Indonesian press on the Military Sealift Command Rescue and Salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50).

Following the Kompas interview, Shafer, Catsambis and the survey’s master diver hosted a briefing with the participating Indonesian Navy personnel to discuss the operation.

Ultimately the ship’s crew, the MDSU team, the Indonesian Navy and Catsambis all agreed to a survey plan that will allow the simultaneous undertaking of multiple tasks including “surface-supplied” diving, SCUBA diving and remotely operated vehicle operations. The plan also allows for the maximum amount of time on station

Catsambis said the ship will get underway tomorrow and the dive team plans to begin the survey as soon as possible that day.

 
May 23

Remembering the USS Squalus 75 years later.

Friday, May 23, 2014 1:00 AM
20235 USS Squalus (PNSY)

After decommissioning, the conning tower was cut away and placed in a park at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, where memorial services are conducted in May every year.

On May 23, 1939, the USS Squalus was tragically lost at sea off the coast of Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Twenty-six lives were lost, thirty-three were saved. The story as told by Carl la Vo in The Short Life of the Squalus follows. (originally published in the Spring 1988 issue of Naval History magazine)

Forty-seven years after his miraculous rescue, Oliver F. Naquin walked into Baltimore’s Master Host Inn two summers ago. Inside, veterans of the World War II submarines Sailfish (SS-192) and Sculpin (SS-191) mingled. Most were people unfamiliar to the then 83-year-old retired rear admiral. But among them were six shipmates he hadn’t seen in nearly a half-century, not since he was their commanding officer on board the USS Squalus (the original SS-192) when she sank off New England on 23 May 1939.

Twenty-six men died that day. But 33 others survived in the greatest undersea rescue of all time.

At the reunion, Naquin embraced Bill Isaacs, Leonard deMedeiros, Jud Bland, Allen Bryson, Nate Pierce, and Danny Persico. Take away the years, the white hair, and the slower gait, and Naquin was again the submarine captain of the 1930s with his blue eyes, erect bearing, and soft though authoritative voice. Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 7

On Course to Midway: The Battle of Coral Sea

Wednesday, May 7, 2014 9:30 AM

By the Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

The Battle of Coral Sea, fought in the waters southwest of the Solomon Islands and eastward from New Guinea, was the first of the Pacific War’s six fights between opposing aircraft carrier forces. Though the Japanese could rightly claim a tactical victory on “points,” it was an operational and strategic defeat for them, the first major check on the great offensive they had begun five months earlier at Pearl Harbor. The diversion of Japanese resources represented by the Coral Sea battle would also have significant consequences a month later, at the Battle of Midway.

The Coral Sea action resulted from a Japanese amphibious operation intended to capture Port Moresby, located on New Guinea’s southeastern coast. A Japanese air base there would threaten northeastern Australia and support plans for further expansion into the South Pacific, possibly helping to drive Australia out of the war and certainly enhancing the strategic defenses of Japan’s newly-enlarged oceanic empire.

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The Japanese operation included two seaborne invasion forces, a minor one targeting Tulagi, in the Southern Solomons, and the main one aimed at Port Moresby. These would be supported by land-based airpower from bases to the north and by two naval forces containing a small aircraft carrier, several cruisers, seaplane tenders and gunboats. More distant cover would be provided by the big aircraft carriers Shokaku and Zuikaku with their escorting cruisers and destroyers. The U.S. Navy, tipped off to the enemy plans by superior communications intelligence, countered with two of its own carriers, plus cruisers (including two from the Australian Navy), destroyers, submarines, land-based bombers and patrol seaplanes.

Japanese Aircraft Carrier Shokaku 1941 Courtesy Government of Japan

Japanese Aircraft Carrier Shokaku 1941
Courtesy Government of Japan

Preliminary operations on May 3-6 and two days of active carrier combat May 7-8 cost the United States one aircraft carrier, a destroyer and one of its very valuable fleet oilers, plus damage to the second carrier.

The Japanese, however, were forced to cancel their Port Moresby seaborne invasion. In the fighting, they lost a light carrier, a destroyer and some smaller ships. Shokaku received serious bomb damage and Zuikaku‘s air group was badly depleted. Most importantly, those two carriers were eliminated from the upcoming Midway operation, contributing by their absence to the defeat of the Japanese fleet viewed by many as the turning point of the war.

 Photo # NH 82117 USS Lexington launching torpedo planes, circa 1929

Build Up to the Battle

Good communications intelligence allowed the U.S. Pacific Fleet to prepare to meet the planned Japanese offensive against Port Moresby, though available resources provided little margin for error. The freshly overhauled carrier Lexington (CV 2), rushed out from Pearl Harbor, joined Yorktown (CV 5) in the probable action area on May 1, doubling Rear Adm. Frank Jack Fletcher‘s carrier forces and bringing along another experienced flag officer, Rear Adm. Aubrey W. Fitch. These carriers and their escorts engaged in several days of refueling from the oilers Neosho (AO 23) and Tippecanoe (AO 21), while awaiting the arrival of two Australian cruisers to reinforce the six already on hand.

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On May 3, a small Japanese naval force carried out a landing at Tulagi, on the northern side of the Coral Sea, where they quickly established a seaplane base to provide reconnaissance deeper into Allied waters. Leaving Lexington behind and detaching Neosho to join her, Rear Adm. Fletcher took Yorktown off to interfere with the landings. On the morning of the 4th, his planes hit the invasion force. Though results were modest, to some extent due to humid air fogging the dive bombers’ sights, the destroyer Kikuzuki was fatally damaged and a few other ships and seaplanes were sunk.

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Fletcher then turned back south, rejoining Fitch on the 5th to top off his fuel tanks. The Japanese were now advancing into the Coral Sea with the Port Moresby invasion force and the separate covering force and aircraft carrier striking force. Both the American and Japanese carrier commanders spent the 6th moving westward, unaware just how close they had come — at one point they were but 70 miles apart!

The Battle Begins

The first day of the carrier battle of Coral Sea, May 7, 1942, saw the Americans searching for carriers they knew were present and the Japanese looking for ones they feared might be in the area. The opposing commanders, Rear Adm. Fletcher and Japanese Vice Adm. Takeo Takagi and Rear Adm. Tadaichi Hara, endeavored to “get in the first blow”, a presumed prerequisite to victory (and to survival) in a battle between heavily-armed and lightly-protected aircraft carriers.

Both sides, however, suffered from inadequate work by their scouts and launched massive air strikes against greatly inferior secondary targets, which were duly sunk, leaving the most important enemy forces un-hit.

Japanese scouting planes spotted the U.S. oiler Neoshoand her escort, the destroyer USS Sims (DD 409), before 8 a.m. in a southerly position well away from Rear Adm. Fletcher’s carriers. Reported as a “carrier and a cruiser,” these two ships received two high-level bombing attacks during the morning that — as would become typical of such tactics — missed. Around noon, however, a large force of dive bombers appeared. These did not miss. Sims sank with very heavy casualties and Neosho was reduced to a drifting wreck whose survivors were not rescued for days.

Meanwhile, a scout plane from Yorktown found the Japanese covering force, the light carrier Shoho and four heavy cruisers, which faulty message coding transformed into “two carriers and four heavy cruisers.” Yorktown and Lexington sent out a huge strike: 53 scout-bombers, 22 torpedo planes and 18 fighters. In well-delivered attacks before noon, these simply overwhelmed the Shoho, which received so many bomb and torpedo hits that she sank in minutes. Her sinking was marked by some of the battle’s most dramatic photography.

Japanese aircraft carrier Shōhō Courtesy Government of Japan

Japanese aircraft carrier Shōhō
Courtesy Government of Japan

Adding to the confusion, if not to the score, Japanese land-based torpedo planes and bombers struck an advanced force of Australian and U.S. Navy cruisers, far to the west of Adm. Fletcher’s carriers. Skillful ship-handling prevented any damage. Australia-based U.S. Army B-17s also arrived and dropped their bombs, fortunately without hitting anything.

All this had one beneficial effect: the Japanese ordered their Port Moresby invasion force to turn back to await developments. Late in the day, they also sent out nearly 30 carrier planes to search for Fletcher’s ships. Most of these were shot down or lost in night landing attempts, significantly reducing Japanese striking power. The opposing carrier forces, quite close together by the standards of air warfare, prepared to resume battle in the morning.

Fight that Would Impact Battle at Midway

Before dawn on May 8, both the Japanese and the American carriers sent out scouts to locate their opponents. These made contact a few hours later, by which time the Japanese already had their strike planes in the air. The U.S. carriers launched theirs soon after 9 a.m., and task force commander Rear Adm. Fletcher turned over tactical command to Rear Adm. Fitch, who had more carrier experience. Each side’s planes attacked the other’s ships around 11 a.m. At that time the Japanese were partially concealed by thick weather, while the Americans were operating under clear skies.

Planes from Yorktown hit Shokaku, followed somewhat later by part of Lexington‘s air group. These attacks left Shokaku unable to launch planes, and she left the area soon after to return to Japan for repairs. Her sister ship, Zuikaku was steaming nearby under low clouds and was not attacked.

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The Japanese struck the American carriers shortly after 11 a.m., and in a fast and violent action, scored with torpedoes on Lexington and with bombs on both carriers. For about an hour, Lexington seemed to have shrugged off her damage, but the situation deteriorated as fires spread throughout the ship. She was abandoned later in the day and scuttled. Yorktown was also badly damaged by a bomb and several glancing blows, but remained in operational condition.

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By the end of the day, both sides had retired from the immediate battle area. The Japanese sent Zuikaku back for a few days, even though her aircraft complement was badly depleted, but they had already called off their Port Moresby amphibious operation and withdrew the carrier on May 11. At about the same time Yorktown was recalled to Pearl Harbor. After receiving quick repairs, she would play a vital role in the Battle of Midway in early June.

 
Apr 24

Rare Imagery Brings an Important Moment from Naval History into Focus

Thursday, April 24, 2014 1:01 PM

By Lisa Crunk, Lead Photo Archivist, Naval History and Heritage Command

140211-N-ZZ999-002 WASHINGTON (Feb. 11, 2014) An undated photo shows Sailors of USS Charleston (C-2) manning one of the ship's guns during the Spanish-American War. Naval History and Heritage Command photo archives staff members are scanning a wooden box containing approximately 150 glass plate photographs depicting scenes from the Spanish-American and Philippine Wars. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command/Released)

140211-N-ZZ999-002 WASHINGTON (Feb. 11, 2014) An undated photo shows Sailors of USS Charleston (C-2) manning one of the ship’s guns during the Spanish-American War. Naval History and Heritage Command photo archives staff members are scanning a wooden box containing approximately 150 glass plate photographs depicting scenes from the Spanish-American and Philippine Wars. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command/Released)

For a photographic archivist like me, a huge pile of donated scrapbooks, photo albums and donated photographs can be hard work. Sometimes images are without description, sometimes the donor is not on record and sometimes the photos are fragile. Magnetic pages, glue and metal fasteners – like paperclips or staples – often found in scrapbooks and photo albums can cause the images to deteriorate. But many of the photos are real gems, worth every effort my coworkers and I take to archive them to make them available for future generations.

In the process of preparing materials for transfer to new storage systems at Naval History and Heritage Command’s Photo Archive, my coworkers, Dave Colamaria, Jonathan Roscoe and I, are tackling the massive backlog of riches from the past, our donated imagery. Earlier this year, Feb. 5, Dave and John uncovered a veritable diamond amongst the gems when the uncovered a donation that has never been made available to the public.

140206-N-ZZ999-001 WASHINGTON (Feb. 6, 2014) An undated photo shows the burning of San Roque, Philippines, during the Spanish-American War. The photo is from a glass slide recently discovered in the photo archives at Naval History and Heritage Command. The photo archives staff found a wooden box containing approximately 150 glass plate photographs depicting scenes from the Spanish American and Philippine Wars. The glass plate photographs were likely prepared by photographer Douglas White, a war correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner during the Philippine War. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command/Released)

140206-N-ZZ999-001
WASHINGTON (Feb. 6, 2014) An undated photo shows the burning of San Roque, Philippines, during the Spanish-American War. The photo is from a glass slide recently discovered in the photo archives at Naval History and Heritage Command. The photo archives staff found a wooden box containing approximately 150 glass plate photographs depicting scenes from the Spanish American and Philippine Wars. The glass plate photographs were likely prepared by photographer Douglas White, a war correspondent for the San Francisco Examiner during the Philippine War. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Naval History and Heritage Command/Released)

They showed me two, well-aged, wooden boxes. Worn scratches on the surface of the boxes revealed an amazing inscription:

Photographic Slides
US Naval Military Activities
In and Around Manila
Spanish – American War – 1898
and Philippine Insurrection
Douglas White
War Correspondent

To say we were excited might be an understatement. Inside, were 325 tissue-paper wrapped slides made entirely of glass. Based on the delicate paper wrapping that still encased the majority of slides, it appears most had not been viewed in decades.

 Delving into this wonderful collection, we found glass slides covering the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection. One of the best things about this find is nearly all of the slides have an included description. To us, this suggests they were used as a presentation or lantern show. Though most are black and white, some have been hand tinted in color. Also, of great interest to the Navy during the bi-centennial of the War of 1812, the collection includes a few slides depicting paintings from the centennial commemoration of the war. My coworkers and I agree, given the presence of the War of 1812 slides, as well as images of the battleship Maine being excavated (1911-1912), that the slides were created around 1912.

Lt. C.J. Dutreaux One of 325 NHHC recently discovered slides made entirely of glass.Though most are black and white, some have been hand tinted in color.

Lt. C.J. Dutreaux
One of 325
NHHC recently discovered slides made entirely of glass.Though most are black and white, some have been hand tinted in color.

From the inscription, these glass slides appear to have originally belonged to and in some cases may have been photographed by Douglas White, a war correspondent at one time employed by the San Francisco Examiner. Since February, more information has been revealed through research. We found that the slides were originally donated to the San Francisco Museum of Science and Industry by Mrs. Charles Dutreaux, wife of Lt. C.J. Dutreaux, whose image appears in one of the slides. Correspondence from the museum to Commodore Dudley W. Knox, suggests that the collection was sent to the Naval Historical Foundation, Jan. 3, 1948. The Naval Historical Foundation maintained the collection until 2008, when we received it

An undated photo showing American troops desembarking from a ship onto small boats in the Phillipines 1898 or 1899.

An undated photo showing American troops desembarking from a ship onto small boats in the Phillipines 1898 or 1899.

These slides are a window into a time more than a century ago. They show many scenes from the times, including the raising of USS Olympia’s flag over Manila, USS Charleston convoying the first U.S. troops and ships officers and crew, the execution wall at Cavite, Philippines, capture of Manila, Spanish prisoners, troops landing at Camp Dewy, naval camps and Signal Corps, as just a sampling.

What makes this so significant a find for us at NHHC? The Navy played a central role in nearly every aspect of the Spanish-American war, from logistics to diplomacy. Historical research on the subject notes that American planners and leaders anticipated that the fight with Spain would be primarily a naval war. The U.S. Navy’s victories at Manila Bay and Santiago de Cuba were pivotal events that turned the course of the war and joint Army-Navy operations at Santiago, Puerto Rico, and Manila sealed the success won by the U.S. Navy’s command of the seas.

Having found them, our next step is to preserve them for the future. That starts with digitization, scanning each slide for eventual exhibition on the Naval History and Heritage Command’s website. After that we need to make sure the slides are in sleeves that will prevent deterioration and then archive them so they will never be lost again.

140422-N-CS953-004 WASHINGTON (Apr. 22, 2014) -- Lisa Crunk, Naval History and Heritage Command's (NHHC) Photographic Archive Lead Archivist, looks at a glass plate photo that the archivists rediscovered in donations earlier this year, Apr. 22. Her job as as one of three archivists includes organizing, scanning, archiving, posting online and making sense of the hundreds of thousands of Navy historic photos in the archive photos for researchers, Navy leadership and the public. (U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

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WASHINGTON (Apr. 22, 2014) — Lisa Crunk, Naval History and Heritage Command’s (NHHC) Photographic Archive Lead Archivist, looks at a glass plate photo that the archivists rediscovered in donations earlier this year, Apr. 22. Her job as as one of three archivists includes organizing, scanning, archiving, posting online and making sense of the hundreds of thousands of Navy historic photos in the archive photos for researchers, Navy leadership and the public.
(U.S. Navy Photograph by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford / Released)

We may never know which of these slides is truly unique. We have located copies of several of the images within various archival collections throughout the country. Despite this, were still excited and proud to be the repository of such a historically significant collection.

 

 
Apr 23

#PeopleMatter: Admiral of the Navy George Dewey

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 8:30 AM

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Today marks 116 years since Spain’s declaration of war against the United States. Congress in turn declared war on Spain two days later, but as the Navy had already blockaded Cuba, backdated the declaration to the 21st.

By the time war was declared on the 25th, the U.S. Navy had pretty much secured the western hemisphere, and prepared to confront the Spanish Navy in the Pacific. Just over 9,000 miles on the other side of the globe in Hong Kong, a man who had distinguished himself during the Civil War, was doing just that.

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In fact, Commodore George Dewey had been prepping his fleet since February, so when war was declared, he made a beeline for the Spanish Navy at Manila Bay in the Philippines. Who was this man who would lead the U.S. Navy to its first major, strategic victories overseas? Known for his quick temper, Dewey had no problem making quick decisions. Nothing went unobserved from his wicker chair on the quarterdeck of his flagship, USS Olympia. From his “throne” many noted his legendary walrus mustache, the crisp white uniform standard for officers then, and his dog named “Bob.” He had no patience for lengthy meetings and even stormed out of one with Army Maj. Gen. Elwell Otis, who would become the 2nd Military Governor of the Philippines.

 

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On May 1, 1898, he delivered to America the first Navy victory against a foreign enemy since the War of 1812 – the Battle of Manila in the Philippines during the Spanish-American War. In recognition of his exemplary leadership, on March 2, 1899, Congress handed President McKinley the act that made Dewey the first and last Admiral of the Navy, a rank never before held by any officer. When Dewey died on Jan. 16, 1917, the Secretary of the Navy noted in General Order No. 258, “Vermont was his mother State and there was always in his character something of the granite of his native hills.”

The Making of An Officer
Dewey graduated in 1858 from the U.S. Naval Academy. Less than three years later he found himself at the center of the action in the Civil War while serving under Admiral Farragut during the Battle of New Orleans. On April 24, 1862, Dewey, executive lieutenant of the steam paddle ship USS Mississippi, skillfully navigated shallow waters to wage a successful attack against Confederate fortifications at New Orleans. Because Dewey had survived and battled sharpshooters, Farragut later asked him by name to command his personal dispatch gun boat, USS Agawam, which was frequently attacked by Confederate snipers. Later, in 1864, Lt. Dewey was made executive officer of the wooden man-of-war USS Colorado stationed on the North Atlantic blockading squadron under Commodore Henry Knox Thatcher. Dewey again rose to the occasion during the Battles of Fort Fisher. Even The New York Times spoke admiringly of the Union victory as “the most beautiful duel of the war.” Commodore Thatcher wouldn’t take the credit and remarked to his superiors, “You must thank Lieutenant Dewey, sir. It was his move.”

 

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After the war, he returned to the Naval Academy as an instructor and was then later granted rest ashore status in Washington, D.C. He found the assignment listless and believed the environment in D.C. was “harmful to his health.” He could not resist the call of the sea.

Over the course of the next thirty years, he commanded USS Narragansett, USS Supply, USS Juniata, USS Dolphin, and USS Pensacola. He also served as a Lighthouse Inspector, a member of the Lighthouse Board, and Secretary of the Lighthouse Board. Additionally he served as the Chief of the Bureau of Equipment as President of the Board of Inspection and Survey. On Nov. 30, 1897, he was ordered to Asiatic Station and, proceeding by steamer, he assumed command on Jan. 3, 1898, his flag in the protected cruiser, USS Olympia, Captain Charles V. Gridley, commanding.

 

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Victory for the United States
Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt had urged him to prepare for the possibility of war with Spain and telegraphed him on Feb. 25, 1898, just ten days after USS Maine mysteriously blew up in Cuba, to immediately prepare the Asiatic Station at Hong Kong. Less than a week after the declaration of war, on May 1, 1898, Dewey sunk or captured the entire Spanish Pacific fleet in a battle lasting just over six hours (including a three-hour lunch break). In that short amount of time, he also defeated the shore batteries. The Battle of Manila Bay was one of the Navy’s greatest success stories against an imperial European empire.

 

Mess on board USS Olympia Courtesy NHHC

 

On May 10, 1898, Dewey was given a vote of thanks by the U.S. Congress and was commissioned Rear Adm. That promotion was an advancement of one grade for “highly distinguished conduct in conflict with the enemy as displayed by him in the destruction of the Spanish Fleet and batteries in the harbor of Manila, Philippine Islands, May 1, 1898.”

After defeating the Spanish fleet at Manila Bay, Dewey met with the Army to work out the preliminaries for the occupation of the Philippines. Most of the meetings went well, except on one occasion, Dewey practically leapt to stand and bolted back to his barge, Cristina, to board USS Olympia. He found meetings detestable, and his frustration grew with the Army’s decisions on how to govern the Philippines. Dewey later let the Army know his personal opinion of its style of management, especially with the Army’s barges that policed the Passig River. In no subtle form or fashion, Dewey delivered tirades complaining to the Army on the condition of the barges being far from “ship shape and Bristol fashion,” and went as far as to issue a direct order to General Otis warning if any of them were seen outside of the river and in open water in Manila Bay, the Navy would sink them. The barges never appeared outside of the confines of the river.

 

Photo NH 50574

 

On Jan. 17, 1917 President Woodrow Wilson delivering Dewey’s eulogy, offered an apt description of Adm. Dewey’s personality and legacy: “It is pleasant to recall what qualities gave him his well-deserved fame: His practical directness, his courage without self-consciousness, his efficient capacity in matters of administration, the readiness to fight without asking questions or hesitating about any detail. It was by such qualities that he continued and added luster to the best traditions of the Navy. He had the stuff in him which all true men admire and upon which all statesmen must depend in hours of peril. The people and the Government of the United States will always rejoice to perpetuate his name in all honor and affection.”

 

 

 

 
Apr 22

#Presence, #Platforms, #Power: Spanish-American War Shaped U.S.’s Strategy into 20th Century

Tuesday, April 22, 2014 3:26 PM
The Battle of Manila Bay is shown in this colored print of a painting by J.G. Tyler, copyright 1898 by P.F. Collier. Ships depicted in left side of print are (l-r): Spanish Warships Don Juan de Ulloa, Castilla, and Reina Cristina. Those in right side are (l-r): USS Boston, USS Baltimore and USS Olympia. Collections of the Navy Department, purchased from Lawrence Lane, 1970. U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph

The Battle of Manila Bay is shown in this colored print of a painting by J.G. Tyler, copyright 1898 by P.F. Collier. Ships depicted in left side of print are (l-r): Spanish Warships Don Juan de Ulloa, Castilla, and Reina Cristina. Those in right side are (l-r): USS Boston, USS Baltimore and USS Olympia.
Collections of the Navy Department, purchased from Lawrence Lane, 1970.
U.S. Naval History & Heritage Command Photograph

By Naval History and Heritage Command

Yesterday, the first of our week-long spotlights on the Spanish-American War ended after the two big naval victories at the Battle of Manila Bay and Battle of Cuba de Santiago. Ground troops batting clean-up finished the less-than-four-month conflict.

But the impact of this “splendid little war” reached well beyond the duration of the war. It was the strategic shift that started the tsunami of fleet modernization and base acquisition that would carry the United States Navy well into the 20th Century through World War II.

 Becoming a world power

As mentioned, having no U.S. ship capable of stopping a Spanish ironclad sitting in a New York port during the 1873 Virginius Affair led to President Chester Arthur calling for a rehabilitation of the fleet. While President Benjamin Harrison urged a continuation of constructing modern ships during his 1889 inaugural address, he also asked for the acquisition of bases to maintain the U.S. fleet in foreign seas, according to Naval History and Heritage Command historian Mark L. Evans.

Harrison worked with Secretary of the Navy Benjamin Tracy and Navy Capt. Alfred Thayer Mahan, who believed the countries with the greatest sea power would have the most impact worldwide. He had written a book touting that concept, The Influence of Sea Power Upon History, 1660-1783 that would be released a year later. His ideas would be embraced by many of the major world powers and set into motion the United States Navy as we know it today.

Rear Adm. Alfred Thayer Mahan, whose views on sea power shaped the U.S. Navy of the 20th Century.

Rear Adm. Alfred Thayer Mahan, whose views on sea power shaped the U.S. Navy of the 20th Century.

“Their work bore fruit with the Navy Bill of June 30, 1890, authorizing construction of three battleships later named Indiana, Oregon and Massachusetts. Along with the battleship Iowa, authorized in 1892, this force formed the core of the new fleet willing to challenge European navies for control of the waters in the Western Hemisphere,” Evans wrote in a paper on the Spanish-American War.

It was the birth of navalism in a young country on the precipice of emerging into a world power.

“The United States decided if it was going to be a ‘big boy,’ it needed a strong navy. So the country went from a fifth-rate sea service to the third largest in the world during this period of time,” said Dennis Conrad, another NHHC historian.

But along with building up its naval forces, the United States was also beginning to flex its muscles beyond its borders. By the time the previously Euro-centric world began the 20th century, the power had tilted toward the United States during the start of the American Century, Conrad said.

The Navy’s transference from wood and sail to steam and steel had already proven itself in the defeat of the Spanish Navy.

But the over-arching changes that affected the country after winning the war was ending up with the Philippines.

“The Spanish-American War got us involved with Asia,” Conrad said. “We did not go into the war with the idea of taking over the Philippines. But it was an example of the importance of mission forward, presence and protecting the sea lanes.”

After crushing the Spanish navy, the United States could have become a major colonial power. But Americans did not follow the European model of imperialism.

“We didn’t pick up colonies like other countries after World War I, we just wanted access and trade, not to run colonies,” Conrad said. “So the aftermath of the Spanish-American War and our opting for independence for the Philippines on the heels of having subdued it, really defined the United States approach in the 20th century.”

Despite the victory, post-war wasn’t an easy time for the United States. The 1823 Monroe Doctrine decreed that the Western Hemisphere would forever be free from European expansion. Anti-imperialists called the U.S. hypocritical for condemning European empires while pursuing one of their own.

And just as the Cuban resistance fought against their landlords, so did the Philippines against the United States. Few Sailors, Soldiers or Marines were killed during the four-month Spanish-American War, while 4,000 American lives were lost fighting in the Philippine Insurrection.

But by the time Theodore Roosevelt, old Rough Rider himself, was elected president in 1901, America was just beginning to flex its might. The 1901 Platt Amendment forbade Cuba from incurring debt to keep foreign gunboats away from its shores. And if any conditions were violated, the United States would send the necessary force to restore order, thanks to the lease of a naval base at Guantanamo Bay — still in existence today.

Then-Col. Theodore Roosevelt in Cuba- 1898, as one of the famed Rough Riders

Then-Col. Theodore Roosevelt in Cuba- 1898, as one of the famed Rough Riders. National Park Service photo

America then entered its “protectorate” status with Cuba and even other nations over the next few years. The Roosevelt Corollary specified if any Latin American country engaged in “chronic wrongdoing,” the United States would step in and restore order, as evidenced by its intervention with the Dominican Republic when it came under U.S. protection in 1905. And the year before, President Theodore Roosevelt earned a Nobel Peace Prize for his mediation of the Russo-Japan conflict.

By 1907, Roosevelt sent off his Great White Fleet for an around-the-world show of strength, otherwise known as the “big stick” in his “speak softly, but carry a big stick,” mantra.

In order to get his naval fleet from the Atlantic to the Pacific faster if necessary, Roosevelt began his biggest achievement: the Panama Canal. The United States’ emerging power caused Great Britain to nullify the 1850 Clayton-Bulwer Treaty that had both countries agreeing neither side would build such a canal.

After negotiating a six-mile wide strip of land for the United States to lease to build the canal, Colombia held out for more. Roosevelt wielded his “big stick” by sending in a Navy gunboat and supporting revolutionaries fighting to free the Panama territory from Colombia. The United States was the first nation to recognize the new country of Panama and the Hay-Bunau-Varilla Treaty gave the U.S. a 10-mile strip for the canal. Begun in 1907, the Panama Canal was completed in 1914 at the cost of $345 million. And American doctors, such as Walter Reed — the namesake of the military’s largest hospital – did their part in combatting malaria and yellow fever.

The United States had shed its isolationist past, but in doing so, began to hear rumblings of discontent from her South American neighbors, Japan and Russia.

Be prepared

While the United States was ramping up its steel navy, the Navy was investing in its leadership. Founded in 1884, the Naval War College was instrumental in getting its officers to adapt to constantly changing technology and also plan for operations in the event of war. The Naval War Board was formed in March 1898. But four years earlier, an 1894 paper by Lt. Cmdr. Charles J. Train addressed the “strategy in the Event of War with Spain,” Evans said. Train’s suggestion was for the U.S. Navy to destroy the Spanish fleet as early as possible and blockade Cuba’s principal ports. If Spain sent a fleet to stop it, the United States would be ready.

In 1895, a “special plan” was sent to Naval College War students to secure Cuba’s independence.

By the time USS Maine was destroyed in Havana Harbor on Feb. 15, 1898, the Navy Department already had a number of plans honed by four years of debate by its leading officers, Evans pointed out. Although the realities of war forced modifications to the plans, it allowed for quick decisions prior to the declaration of war.

America’s victory in the Battle of Manila could be attributed to Commodore George Dewey’s decision to plan strategies among his leadership and then train, train and train some more the crew until the day of the battle. After seven hours, with a 3-hour meal break, Dewey’s fleet blew apart the Spanish flotilla in Manila, without a single loss of life.

The Navy Department then ordered Commodore Winfield Scott Schley’s Flying Squadron to protect the east coast of the United States from the Spanish fleet led by Adm. Pascual Cervera, and sent Adm. William Sampson’s North Atlantic squadron to blockade Havana Harbor. After being hemmed in for six weeks, Cervera’s ships attempted to run the blockade during Sunday morning services on July 3. Chased down by the American armored ships, the rest of the Spanish ships were destroyed within 90 minutes.

“The overall success of U.S. naval operations during the Spanish-American War demonstrated the value of extensive peace-time preparations,” Evans wrote. “In the technological warfare of the last one hundred years, the most important preparations have not always been the construction of major warships, but also planning for adequate logistical support and vigorous intellectual debate.”

Tomorrow will feature a profile on Commodore George Dewey, the Civil War-era admiral who led the Battle of Manila Bay.

On Thursday, NHHC historian Dennis Conrad will discuss plans for NHHC’s newest documentary on the Spanish-American War “that will capture the drama and heroism that catapulted the United States Navy to world prominence.”

 
Apr 21

#PresenceMatters: The Path to Conflict and Victory in the Spanish-American War

Monday, April 21, 2014 5:08 PM

By Naval History and Heritage Command

It lasted less than four months. Yet the Spanish-American War is among the top three key naval conflicts that defined the modern U.S. Navy, along with the War of 1812 and World War II.

“The Navy’s performance in those wars resonated with the public, and established the reputation the U.S. Navy enjoys today,” said Dennis Conrad, an historian for the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Called a “splendid little war,” by Secretary of State John Hays, it began “with the highest motives, carried on with magnificent intelligence and spirit, favored by that Fortune which loves the brave.”

The war, which was actually declared April 25, 1898, was backdated to 116 years ago today to coincide with the blockade of Cuba’s Havana Harbor on April 21.

American Interests in Cuba

Twenty-five years earlier, Cuba was a colony to Spain with the rumblings of independence beginning to rupture peace. The U.S. had business interests in Cuba, so American ships were often poking around in the harbor to protect those interests.

It was a repurposed Civil War ship that would fan the flames of anger toward the Spanish government. An American with ties to the Cuban rebellion bought the old Civil War ship for the rebel leader, Jose Marti. For three years, the Virginius ran men, ammunition and supplies from the United States to Cuba. But since the ship was flying the American flag (illegally), it fell under the protection of the U.S. Navy.

The Spanish were suspicious of the blockade runner and by October 1873, were in full pursuit of the ship. By the time Virginius fell to the Spanish, her crew was made up of mostly young and inexperienced British and American citizens, some as young as 9 to 13.

The Spanish government in Cuba was swift in its retribution, accusing all 144 crew members of being pirates. Attempts by the United States to give aid to American citizens were ignored. Four members of the Virginius crew were immediately executed. The rest were tried and found guilty. The British vice-consul at Santiago requested assistance from the British navy to stop further executions. But upon hearing the British were sending the sloop HMS Niobe to do so, Cuban commander Juan Burriel ordered the shooting of 37 more crew members, who were then decapitated and their bodies trampled with horses. Among the dead were boys as young as nine and the Virginius captain, Commodore Joseph Frye, a former U.S. naval officer before joining the Confederates. Another 12 were later killed for a total of 53 before Niobe arrived, threatening to bombard Santiago if the executions didn’t stop.

The American public was outraged by the executions and support rose in favor of the U.S. recognizing the Cuban rebellion. Negotiations by Secretary of State Hamilton Fish reigned in the rhetoric to go to war, and within a few weeks, the Virginius and the remaining 91 crew members were handed back over to the U.S. Spain would later pay the United States $80,000 in reparations for the deaths of Americans. The ship itself, with the American flag now removed, sank while it was being towed. Burriel died before he was tried and sentenced for his crime in executing the 53 crew members.

Modernizing a Tired Fleet

During the flurry of furor over the Virginius executions, it was noted a Spanish ironclad was anchored in New York Harbor. With the government still recovering from the Civil War, the Navy had no ship capable of stopping it. U.S. Secretary of War George M. Robeson determined it was time the United States upgraded its fleet and Congress agreed to contracts for the overhaul of five partially-completed Civil War-era ironclads USS Puritan (BM 1), USS Amphitrite (BM 2), USS Monadnock (BM 3), USS Terror (BM 4) and USS Miantonomoh (BM 5).

Modernization began during the administration of President Chester Arthur in the early 1880s, according to Mark L. Hayes, another NHHC historian. It was during Arthur’s first annual message to Congress when he concluded: “I cannot too strongly urge upon you my conviction, that every consideration of national safety, economy, and honor imperatively demands a thorough rehabilitation of the Navy.”

Two years later would be the Navy Act of 1883, authorizing the construction of the steel cruisers Atlanta, Boston and Chicago and the dispatch vessel Dolphin, followed by armored battleships USS Texas and USS Maine.

Simmering hostilities

The eventual settlement of the 1873 Virginius Affair might have stemmed the public outcry for Cuban independence, but that distrust just simmered under the surface for years. It was now 1898, the Spanish government had changed several times, and the U.S. continued to send American warships to protect their interests in Cuba.

Just two months into the year, supporters of an independent Cuba got their hands on a letter written by the Spanish minister in Washington that was critical of American President William McKinley. Once published, it began to resurrect resentment toward the Spanish government.

Photograph by A. Loeffler, with inset portrait of Commanding Officer, Captain Charles D. Sigsbee.

Photograph by A. Loeffler, with inset portrait of Commanding Officer, Captain Charles D. Sigsbee.

Then the unthinkable happened. The battleship USS Maine, which was sent to Havana as part of a naval contingent, blew up while it was in harbor, killing 266 Sailors. A Spanish inquiry determined it had been an internal explosion, but on March 25 an American inquiry blamed the loss of USS Maine and most of her crew on a mine.

“Remember the Maine” was a unifying cry that brought together a nation that just a few years earlier had been split by war and seethed during reconstruction afterward.

McKinley demanded Spain provide reparations for the loss of life and the ship, as well as giving Cuba its independence. Praxedes Mateo Sagasta, the leader of the Liberal Party in Spain, instead offered autonomy to Cuba and Puerto Rico, rather than independence. The Cuban leadership turned down the offer, determined their armed resistance would gain their freedom.

Sagasta sought support from European nations that also wielded power over their colonies. But despite sympathetic leanings, none came to Spain’s aid, thanks to the Spanish country’s long-standing isolationism and the emerging power of the United States.

Preparing for the possibility of war, Adm. William Sampson ordered a blockade from Havana to the south side of Cuba on April 21. By the time Spain realized they were at war with the United States, Havana Harbor was already buttoned up.

Admiral George Dewey N.M. Miller (20th C.), painted 1911. Courtesy NHHC

Admiral George Dewey
N.M. Miller (20th C.), painted 1911.
Courtesy NHHC

Out in the Pacific, Commodore George Dewey, on his flagship USS Olympia, and the rest of his fleet were poised to strike from Hong Kong. Given a heads-up about the possibility of war by Assistant Secretary of the Navy Theodore Roosevelt on Feb. 25, Dewey and his officers spent the next month developing plans, working scenarios, and then training their crews.

On April 22, the Secretary of the Navy sent Dewey a telegram that the U.S. had begun the blockade of Havana Harbor. Britain, already hearing about the possibility of war between Spain and the United States, ordered the Americans to leave Hong Kong.

By the time Dewey’s fleet sailed into the Bay of Manila on May 1, following a well-prepared and trained operation, it was too late for the Spanish fleet caught there. At 5:40 a.m., Dewey called out “You may fire when ready, Gridley!” The United States steel navy blew away the Spanish wooden ships, killing 381 Spaniards with no Americans killed in action and only eight wounded. The Battle of Manila Bay was over by 12:30 p.m., which included a three-hour meal break by the Americans.

USS Olympia Courtesy NHHC

USS Olympia
Courtesy NHHC

Back in Europe, Spanish Adm. Pascual Cervera was ordered to sail for the West Indies to support Spanish forces in Cuba. Leaving April 29, his squadron sailed into Santiago de Cuba at the end of May. His squadron was immediately blockaded by the United States on May 29. Six weeks later, Cervera decided to make a break for it on July 3 during Sunday morning services. Giving chase, the American ships wiped out the rest of the Spanish Atlantic fleet within 90 minutes. American troops on the ground, led by Rough Riders, bottled up Spanish forces in Santiago harbor. A month later, the war was over.

The Treaty of Paris gave Cuba its independence, but also the Philippines to the United States, along with Guam and Puerto Rico. Spain got $20 million for the loss of its former colonies.

 

 
Apr 15

On This Date in History, Operation El Dorado Canyon, Navy Aircraft from USS America (CV 66) and USS Coral Sea (CV 43) attack Libya

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 3:00 AM

By Naval History and Heritage Command

Twenty-eight years ago on April 5, 1986, two women, Verena Chanaa, and her sister, Andrea Haeusler, departed a nightclub called La Belle, frequented by American servicemen. They left behind a travel bag containing a two-kilogram bomb packed with plastic explosives and shrapnel. It exploded at 1:45 a.m. inflicting horrific casualties.

The bag was left beneath the disc jockey’s table, near the dance floor which was ripped to shreds by the explosion. Army Sgt. Kenneth T. Ford, who was 21, was instantly killed. Two months later, Army Sgt. James E. Goins, 25, died from his wounds in the hospital. The attack also claimed the life of a Turkish woman. Out of the 230 injured that night, 79 were American servicemen. Some suffered ruptured ear drums and were permanently disabled, with the loss of limbs from the explosion.

united-states-libya-west-berlin-discotheque-bombing-3

An intense investigation followed and ten days later, President Reagan authorized Operation El Dorado Canyon to bomb Libya’s capitol, Tripoli, as well as Benghazi in retaliation for the attack. The mission began April 15, 1986 at two in the morning, almost at the same time the bomb exploded at the West Berlin night club.

It was the latest escalation in tensions between the U.S. and Libya. In the month prior to the bombing, U.S. Navy planes operating in international waters were attacked by six surface-to-air missiles from Libya. The Navy destroyed the Libyan missile site, sank a patrol boat, and disabled another. No U.S. Sailors were hurt. The White House called the attack “entirely unprovoked and beyond the bounds of normal international conduct.”

President Ronald Reagan meeting with bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress to discuss the air strike on Libya Apr. 14, 1986

President Ronald Reagan meeting with bipartisan members of the U.S. Congress to discuss the air strike on Libya
Apr. 14, 1986

On April 15, the aircraft carriers USS Saratoga (CV 60), USS America (CV 66) and USS Coral Sea (CV 43) operating in the U.S. Sixth Fleet were already on station in the Gulf of Sidra north of Libya. The three aircraft carriers together launched 24 A-6 Intruders and F/A-18 Hornets and dropped 60 tons of munitions. They bombed radar and antiaircraft sites in Benghazi before bombing the Benina and Jamahiriya barracks. The joint operation involved the Navy, the Marine Corps and the Air Force. They were so quick, the attack only lasted 12 minutes with only two American casualties when an F-111 was shot down by a Libyan surface-to-air missile (SAM) over the Gulf of Sidra. In fact, some Libyan soldiers abandoned their positions, and Libyan officers failed to give orders. Libya lost 45 soldiers and government officials, as well as multiple transport aircraft 14 MiG-23s, two helicopters and five major ground radars.

 

A ground crew prepares a 48th Tactical Fighter Wing F-111F aircraft for a retaliatory air strike on Libya.

A ground crew prepares a 48th Tactical Fighter Wing F-111F aircraft for a retaliatory air strike on Libya.

Never one to publicly embrace reality, Gaddafi claimed he had “won a spectacular military victory over the United States.” In fact, Libya responded by firing two Scud missiles missing the U.S. Coast Guard station on the Italian island of Lampedusa. The Scuds passed over the island and landed in the sea.

Although the evidence linking Libya to the bombing of the nightclub was quickly established, finding the perpetrators of the attack proved more difficult. However, as East and West Germany were reunited, newly opened files of STASI, the East German intelligence agency, led to several arrests and convictions. Verena Chanaa was the German wife of a Palestinian, Ali Chanaa, who had placed the bomb in her bag and was working for STASI. The material that made the bomb had been brought into East Berlin in a Libyan diplomat’s bag. No one would have suspected the two women were terrorists; they were both German and blended seamlessly with the crowd and appeared to be there to dance and have fun with American soldiers.

460px-La_Belle-Gedenktafel

The German government later placed a plaque on the building now called Roxy-Palast where the club existed. In German the plaque reads, “In diesem haus wurden, AM 5 April 1986, junge menschen durch einen, verbrecherischen, bomenanschlag emordet.” The translation couldn’t be more appropriate as well as more heartbreaking: “On April 5, 1986, young people were killed inside this building by a criminal bombing.”

 
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