Archive for the 'Uncategorized' Category

Jan 9

MSC: Proud of our heritage, ready to tackle tomorrow’s challenges

Friday, January 9, 2015 3:03 PM

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By John Thackrah, Executive Director, Military Sealift Command

Today marks the creation of the Naval Overseas Transportation Service in 1918 to carry cargo during World War I. Sealift capabilities played a key role in our nation’s defense then, and are still crucial to our Navy and DOD’s ability to operate forward – where it matters, when it matters.

Post-World War II, our nation consolidated its sealift transport services into a single entity in 1949 – the Military Sea Transportation Service, later re-named Military Sealift Command.

World War I transport ship Henderson, USN 1917-1948 (built by USN, 1917). 10,000 Tons (displacement); Length 483.8'; Breadth 61.1'

World War I transport ship Henderson, USN 1917-1948 (built by USN, 1917). 10,000 Tons (displacement); Length 483.8′; Breadth 61.1′

Fast forward to 2015, and MSC has grown from a handful of missions to more than 20. Our command is a critical part of our Navy, efficiently and cost-effectively operating some of our fleet’s most innovative ships. The growing number and diversity of our ships honors the spirit of our forerunners, and highlights the trust we’ve earned over decades.

Take our mobile landing platform, for instance. The first ship in the class, USNS Montford Point, demonstrated during last year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise and again during the Pacific Horizon 14 exercise that it can meet the growing needs of our Marine Corps for sea-basing assets.

Montford Point and its sister ship, USNS John Glenn, have two primary capabilities: transfer of equipment, personnel and sustainment at-sea, and delivery of vehicles and equipment ashore. In tandem with sealift vessels like USNS Bob Hope and high-speed transport ships like the joint high-speed vessels, MLPs allow large-scale logistics movements from sea to shore, which reduces reliance on foreign ports.

Another exciting set of ships is the afloat forward staging base variant of the MLP. Unlike Montford Point, AFSBs like the recently launched USNS Lewis B. Puller add a flight deck, equipment storage and repair spaces. The variant can provide a base of operations for everything from counter-piracy/smuggling, maritime security and mine clearing to humanitarian aid and disaster relief. We expect that Lewis B. Puller will undergo at-sea testing prior to its delivery this year.

140718-N-QY430-002 BIG CREEK, Belize (July 18, 2014) The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) crew and service members on-load gear and vehicles during Southern Partnership Station 2014. Southern Partnership Station is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rafael Martie/Released)

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BIG CREEK, Belize (July 18, 2014) The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) crew and service members on-load gear and vehicles during Southern Partnership Station 2014. Southern Partnership Station is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rafael Martie/Released)

Finally, our joint high-speed vessels spent 2014 proving their versatility in real-world operations and exercises. USNS Spearhead, the first ship in the class, completed the first leg of its maiden deployment to U.S. 6th Fleet last May, and deployed again to U.S. 4th Fleet after a short pit-stop in Little Creek, Virginia. These are hard-working ships – just a few weeks ago, Spearhead departed Virginia and is currently operating in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

Our Navy and Marine Corps team has been actively discussing and testing what these ships can do, and we’ve discovered that they are useful for missions beyond their original design. In November, USNS Choctaw County participated in Bold Alligator 2014 and conducted proof-of-concept testing that included small boat launches and helicopter operations.

I am confident that as we continue to explore other mission sets that include theater security cooperation, non-combatant evacuations and counter-illicit trafficking detection and monitoring, the JHSV will continue to prove itself as a valuable fleet asset worldwide.

Bottom line, MSC is grateful for the expanding responsibilities entrusted to us, and ready to hit the ground running in 2015.

141106-N-EW716-001) SAN DIEGO (Nov. 6, 2014) The mobile landing platform Lewis B. Puller (T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1) successfully completed launch and float-off at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard. Lewis B. Puller is the first afloat forward staging base (AFSB) variant of the MLP and is optimized to support a variety of maritime missions. (Photo courtesy of NASSCO)

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SAN DIEGO (Nov. 6, 2014) The mobile landing platform Lewis B. Puller (T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1) successfully completed launch and float-off at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard. Lewis B. Puller is the first afloat forward staging base (AFSB) variant of the MLP and is optimized to
support a variety of maritime missions. (Photo courtesy of NASSCO)

 

 

 
Jan 8

Celebrating the Birth of the Nuclear Navy

Thursday, January 8, 2015 5:05 PM
USS Nautilus (SSN 571) Water color by Albert Murray

USS Nautilus (SSN 571)
Water color by Albert Murray

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

The director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program will host a ceremony Jan. 9 at Naval Reactors’ Washington Navy Yard headquarters celebrating one of the first major milestones of the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program.

Adm. John M. Richardson, joined by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, and the Department of Energy Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, will honor the 60th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear-powered warship, USS Nautilus (SSN 571), getting underway on nuclear power. It was on Jan. 17, 1955 at 11 a.m. when Nautilus Commanding Officer Cmdr. Eugene Wilkinson announced “UNDERWAY ON NUCLEAR POWER.”

In addition to being an engineering marvel, Nautilus was the first in a long line of nuclear-powered ships to serve the U.S. Navy with an outstanding record of more than 155,000 million miles safely steamed on nuclear power. Just as important, she represented a huge leap in American energy security, increasing strategic independence, sustainability, and operational capability.

Adm. Hyman G. Rickover on USS Nautilus.

Adm. Hyman G. Rickover on USS Nautilus.

Getting Nautilus “underway on nuclear power” was a remarkable accomplishment that began with the concept of harnessing the power of splitting uranium atoms in 1939 by scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory. That concept became reality when then-Capt. Hyman G. Rickover, an engineering officer, signed onto the project in 1946. Just six years later, on June 14, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed the keel of the first nuclear-powered submarine.

Nautilus Launching Program

It was Jan. 21, 1954 when Nautilus was launched at Electric Boat Shipyard, Groton, Conn. The boat was commissioned a few months later, Sept. 30. For a video of the 60th anniversary of the commissioning, please click here.

USS Nautilus in New York on Aug. 25, 1958, following her historic voyage across the North Pole on Aug. 3. US Navy photo

USS Nautilus in New York on Aug. 25, 1958, following her historic voyage across the North Pole on Aug. 3. A ticker tape parade was held to celebrate the occasion. US Navy photo

Nautilus’ career was a record-setting one, including being the first submarine to cross the North Pole – under the ice – on Aug. 3, 1958. After 25 years and four refuelings, Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980. Two years later, the first nuclear-powered submarine was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior.

After undergoing historic ship conversion in 1986, USS Nautilus continues to serve her country at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton.

Editors Note: On Jan. 9 Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that SSN 795, a Virginia-class attack submarine, will bear the name USS Hyman G. Rickover.

Mabus named the submarine to honor U.S. Navy Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the man credited for developing USS Nautilus (SSN 571), the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine. For more information click here.

 

 
Jan 6

Honoring the Legacy of Navy Nurses Worldwide

Tuesday, January 6, 2015 8:00 AM
Navy Nurse Corps POWs posing with Vice Adm. Thomas C. Kincaid, Commander of the 7th Fleet and Southwest Pacific Force, after their rescue from Los Banos, Feb. 23, 1945. They were imprisoned Jan. 6, 1942 where they were stationed in the Philippines.

Navy Nurse Corps POWs posing with Vice Adm. Thomas C. Kincaid, Commander of the 7th Fleet and Southwest Pacific Force, after their rescue from Los Banos, Feb. 23, 1945. They were imprisoned Jan. 6, 1942 where they were stationed in the Philippines.

By Rear Adm. Rebecca McCormick-Boyle, Commander, Navy Medicine Education and Training Command and Director, U.S. Navy Nurse Corps

Rear Adm. Rebecca J. McCormick-Boyle Commander Navy Medicine Education and Training Command

Rear Adm. Rebecca J. McCormick-Boyle
Commander
Navy Medicine Education and Training Command

January 6 commemorates the 72nd anniversary of one of the most tragic, yet heroic and triumphant moments in Navy Nurse Corps history. On that date in 1942, 11 Navy Nurses and three civilian nurses were taken prisoner by Japanese forces in the Philippines. During their 37-month imprisonment these nurses – known as the “Band of Angels” – continued to care for the sick and injured despite the fact they suffered from their own malnutrition and disease. They were liberated in February 1945.

Throughout World War II, Navy Nurses served at 40 naval hospitals, 176 dispensaries, and on board 12 hospital ships. They earned over 300 military awards and honors for their efforts.

From the proud and humble beginnings of the first Navy Nurses, “The Sacred Twenty” to today’s force of more 4,000, Navy Nurses are committed to duty and heroic sacrifice in the service of our country. Navy Nurses have set the highest standards for our profession since its inception, and we continue to carry the banner of that proud legacy.

Today, we continue this proud tradition of selfless service at home and around the globe, at military treatment facilities (MTFs), ambulatory care centers, research facilities, education and training commands, and a broad range of operational settings. Navy Nurses are also at the forefront of joint operations, serving alongside health care providers from our sister services and with allied forces medical teams. Paying homage to the “Band of Angels,” I would be remiss if I did not highlight our continued presence and commitment to our mission in the Pacific, where Navy Nurses are on call and ready to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief missions, as well as annual partnership missions like Pacific Partnership. We are a team of professionals who serve with one overall mission: to provide the best possible care for our patients.

This charge to care both on and off the battlefield is truly a calling, not just a career. It’s a calling to deliver competent and compassionate nursing care whenever and wherever we are needed. For many patients, the first person they see when they open their eyes after surgery, illness, or an injury is their Navy Nurse. No matter where they are serving, Navy Nurses stand ready at bedsides around the globe and are a vital force in any setting.

I am humbled by our Navy Nurses who are recognized for bravery, heroism, and leadership throughout our naval history. From the proud and modest beginnings of the first Navy Nurses and the “Band of Angels” to today’s force of nurses, our professional Nurse Corps waves the banner of our Navy legacy – providing caring, compassionate, and competent care, anytime, anywhere.

 
Jan 4

In 1989 Dogfight Navy Tomcats Best Libyan MiGs

Sunday, January 4, 2015 8:00 AM
The National Air and Space Museum’s F-14D (R) is on display at the museum's Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. It is credited with one MiG kill during a fleet defense mission near the coast of Libya, Jan. 4, 1989. Credit: Image by Dane Penland, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution Image Number: 2006-24265

The National Air and Space Museum’s F-14D (R) is on display at the museum’s Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. It is credited with one MiG kill during a fleet defense mission near the coast of Libya, Jan. 4, 1989. Credit: Image by Dane Penland, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution Image Number: 2006-24265

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division The F-14 Tomcat has been replaced from the Navy’s inventory with the F/A-18 Hornet, yet it was 26 years ago today when a pair of Tomcats on the prowl played cat-and-mouse with a matching pair of Libyan MiG-23s. Increasingly aggressive moves on the part of the Libyan aircraft forced the Tomcats to unsheathe their claws with Sparrow and Sidewinder missiles. And just like their counterparts from 1981, where the Libyans actually fired on the F-14 Tomcats, just seconds later, both MiGs were “splashed” in the ocean, ending the 8-minute engagement. It was just another incident between the United States and Libya that had been building for 10 years since the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli was burned down in Dec. 1979 and the U.S. declared Moammar Gadhafi’s regime a “state sponsor of terrorism.” By May 1981, the Reagan administration had cut diplomatic ties with Libya, stating the U.S. would “not conduct business with a regime that grossly distorts the rules of international behavior.” Libya’s Washington embassy was closed and their diplomats expelled. While the U.S. Navy was conducting a routine exercise in August 1981, two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22 fighter pilots challenged two Navy F-14 Tomcats from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CV 68) over the international waters of the Gulf of Sidra. The Libyans fired upon the F-14s, and the Tomcat pilots promptly responded by shooting down both Libyan fighters. The United States continued to tighten its economic sanctions against Libya. By 1985, Gadhafi called on his guerrillas to launch “suicide missions” against those who worked against his regime. In March 1986, Libya fired anti-aircraft missiles as U.S. jets approached his “line of death” in international waters. Navy aircraft and a missile cruiser fired back, destroying the Libyan missile ships and damaging a missile launch site. Gadhafi vowed to retaliate against NATO bases that harbored U.S. warships, and a few days later, a discotheque in West Berlin was bombed, killing two American servicemen. After an investigation confirmed Libya was responsible, the U.S. bombed military targets near Tripoli and Benghazi.

Mediterranean-bound, John F. Kennedy (CV-67), part of Task Group 24.4, turns to port, preparing to launch a Grumman F-14 Tomcat from her number one catapult, on Aug. 12, 1988. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate 2d Class William Lipski

Mediterranean-bound, John F. Kennedy (CV-67), part of Task Group 24.4, turns to port, preparing to launch a Grumman F-14 Tomcat from her number one catapult, on Aug. 12, 1988. U.S. Navy Photo by Photographer’s Mate 2d Class William Lipski

In late 1988, the United States accused Gadhafi of building a chemical weapons facility and stationed aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy (CV 67) off Libya’s coast as a deterrent. Libyan terrorists were also suspected in that month’s bombing of Pan Am Flight 101 over Lockerbie, Scotland. On the morning of Jan. 4, 1989, four F-14 pilots from VF 32 and VF 14 were conducting exercises with A-6 Intruders and a E-2C Hawkeye from VAW 126 about 130 miles north of Libya near Crete. The pilots had been warned to expect hostilities as they approached Gadhafi’s “line of death” in international waters of the Gulf of Sidra. Shortly before noon, the E-2C pilot reported four Libyan Mikoyan-Gurevich (MiG-23) Floggers had left the Al Bumbaw airfield near Toburk, the first pair about 30 miles ahead of the second pair. The VF 32 pilots with their respective RIOs (radar intercept officer) turned toward the first pair of Floggers, Which were both armed with AA-7 Apex missiles. The F-14 pilots activated and locked their AWG-9 radar onto the Floggers as a warning signal. Yet the Libyans failed to turn away. At 61 miles and closing fast, the F-14 pilots performed defensive maneuvers, such as dropping from 8,000 feet to 5,000 feet. Yet for each move, the pilots reported the Libyans had “jinked” (aggressive maneuver) back to them, repositioning to continue heading straight for the Tomcats. “53 miles, bogeys (Libyans) coming straight at us,” a pilot stated, who dropped from 9,000 to 3,000 “angels (altitude).” “Bogeys jinked back into us, now starboard 30 degrees the other side.” Shortly afterward, Alpha Bravo (the on-scene commander, later identified as Rear Adm. David Morris) stated “Warning yellow, weapons hold.” At 35 miles, a pilot reported “bogeys jinked back into me for the third time – with noses on, angels 7. I’m taking another offset, starboard two one zero.” Moments later, the pilot reported the bogeys had “jinked back into me for the fourth time,” and indicated he was “coming back starboard” at 27 miles, the Libyans at 7,000 feet. After a fifth maneuver, the pilot reported “bogeys have jinked back at me for the fifth time, they’re on my nose now, inside the 20 mile.” Soon after, the pilot reported he was “centering up the t– Bogeys jinking back into me again.” As the MiGs continued their aggressive behavior, coming to within 13 miles, the RIO from the lead Tomcat deployed two Sparrow missiles, but neither found their target. Still, neither MiG turned back. The F-14s split up, with both MiGs turning onto the wingman as the lead Tomcat maneuvered to get behind the Floggers. As the aircraft drew to within four miles, the Tomcat wingman released its Sparrow, sending the first MiG into the ocean, and soon after, the lead Tomcat launched a sidewinder that sent the second MiG down. The pilots reported back to Alpha Bravo: “Down to 3,000, let’s get out of here. (The) other chute is high. We’re heading north.” Although both MiG pilots were able to get away from their stricken aircraft, they were not recovered. Libya would later claim the U.S. had shot down unarmed reconnaissance planes. According to a Pentagon spokesman at the debriefing conference afterward, it was explained while the pilots were under “warning yellow, weapons hold,” with tensions increasing and hostilities possible, the pilots were authorized to respond as necessary. The lead Tomcat from that dogfight is on loan to the National Air and Space Museum’s Udvar-Hazy Center near Dulles International Airport. Although it was an F-14A model at the time of the incident, the Tomcat was part of the F-14D upgrade program and later assigned to VF-31 in a precision strike role. Gadhafi’s 42-year reign would end Aug. 23, 2011 after he was captured by the anti-Gadhafi National Transitional Council and killed during the “Arab Spring” uprising.

 
Jan 3

Great White Fleet Assists Following Messina Earthquake

Saturday, January 3, 2015 8:00 AM
A street in Messina, Sicily, showing damage caused by the earthquake that hit Dec. 28, 1908. Photographed in January 1909. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph from the Collection of Lt. Cmdr. Richard Wainwright (who was assigned to USS Connecticut during the relief mission to Messina).

A street in Messina, Sicily, showing damage caused by the earthquake that hit Dec. 28, 1908. Photographed in January 1909. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph from
the Collection of Lt. Cmdr. Richard Wainwright (who was assigned to USS Connecticut during the relief mission to Messina).

 

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

When President Theodore Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet embarked on its historic 14-month world cruise in 1907, its mission was to promote goodwill and foster partnerships with other countries, but also show American might and seapower. Even then, partnerships and presence mattered.

As the fleet pulled into any of its 20 ports across six continents, the officers and crew were often handled like royalty, treated to parades and parties.

Along the way, however, the fleet was given the opportunity to show they could give as much as they received: On January 3, 1909, the first of several American ships arrived in Messina, Italy which had been devastated by a massive earthquake and tsunami just six days earlier on Dec. 28, 1908.

The decision to send the 16 battleships of the Great White Fleet on a voyage around the world came during a particularly turbulent time for the United States. It had gained territory in the Philippines and Guam following its victory in the 1898 Spanish-American War, which required naval resources for protection.

Roosevelt, a former assistant Secretary of the Navy, believed it would take a strong navy for a nation to project its power and prestige abroad. When he became president after the assassination of President William McKinley in 1901, Roosevelt began building up his navy. Shipyards churned out 11 battleships in three years from 1904-1907. A naval base was also established in 1904 at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to provide security during the construction of the Panama Canal.

As the United States continued to expand its reach, Roosevelt mediated the Treaty of Portsmouth in 1906, ending the Russo-Japanese War. The Japanese, however, felt Roosevelt favored the Russians. In California, anti-Japanese feelings began to arise due to steady a stream of Japanese immigrants, which in turn sparked anti-American protests in Japan.

And so it was under those conditions Roosevelt decided his 16-battleship fleet, painted white and gilded in gold, would circumnavigate the world to impress upon Japan and other countries that the U.S. Navy could shift its presence from the Atlantic to the Pacific. They left Hampton Roads Dec. 16, 1907.

A little more than a year later, as the Great White Fleet was nearing the conclusion of its 14-month voyage, just before dawn on Dec. 28, 1908, a powerful earthquake and tsunami struck southern Italy, devastating the Sicilian city of Messina. The death toll was terrible, with estimates of those killed running up to two hundred thousand. Those who didn’t die immediately from the earthquake would succumb to starvation, disease and injury.

And it was at that moment the Great White Fleet’s “goodwill” cruise went from rhetoric to reality.

USS Scorpion (1898-1929) was the first U.S. Navy ship to provide aid after the Dec. 28, 1908 earthquake that struck Messina, Italy. Based as the station ship at Constantinople, Turkey, the former yacht arrived at Messina on Jan. 3, 1909. In this photo, USS Scorpion is at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, circa April 1898, carrying her battery of four 5"/40 guns located on her sides, fore and aft of the superstructure from when she was converted for the Spanish-American War service. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

USS Scorpion (1898-1929) was the first U.S. Navy ship to provide aid after the Dec. 28, 1908 earthquake that struck Messina, Italy. Based as the station ship at Constantinople, Turkey, the former yacht arrived at Messina on Jan. 3, 1909. In this photo, USS Scorpion is at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, N.Y., circa April 1898, carrying her battery of four 5″/40 guns located on her sides, fore and aft of the superstructure from when she was converted for the Spanish-American War service. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Although its presence in the Mediterranean was minimal at the time, the United States did have the gunboat USS Scorpion on station at Constantinople, Turkey. The former luxury yacht left Dec. 31 and arrived at Messina on Jan. 3 to begin U.S. humanitarian relief to the stricken region.

Other nations’ navies sent men and ships to help Italian authorities with recovery and relief work. Among these were the British, whose large Mediterranean Fleet soon had two battleships, five cruisers and a destroyer at the scene. The Russians, whose training squadron was also in the vicinity, provided men from several battleships, cruisers and gunboats. While digging through the remains of collapsed buildings to rescue survivors and locate the bodies of the dead, some of the Russian sailors lost their own lives when an aftershock buried them in rubble.

The greatest response in terms of aid, however, came from the U.S. Navy. The U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s battleship force was steaming up the Red Sea toward the Suez Canal nearing the end of its passage from the Far East during its great world cruise.

Messina Earthquake, Dec. 28, 1908 -- Refugees waiting for transportation at Messina, Sicily, where USS Culgoa and USS Yankton fed many hungry earthquake survivors. Photographed in January 1909. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph from the Collection of Lt. Cmdr. Richard Wainwright (who was assigned to USS Connecticut during the relief mission to Messina).

Messina Earthquake, Dec. 28, 1908 — Refugees waiting for transportation at Messina, Sicily, where USS Culgoa and USS Yankton fed many hungry earthquake survivors. Photographed in January 1909. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph from the Collection of Lt. Cmdr. Richard Wainwright (who was assigned to USS Connecticut during the relief mission to Messina).

The fleet’s Commander in Chief, Rear Adm. Charles S. Sperry, ordered the supply ship Culgoa, carrying hundreds of tons of food, to head for the disaster zone as soon as she could get through the canal. She left Port Said, Egypt, on Jan. 4 and arrived at Messina four days later. She remained in the area until Jan. 15.

While Culgoa was on her way, six Navy surgeons from the battleships, as well as medical supplies, were put aboard the tender Yankton (another converted yacht) and on Jan. 5, set off from Port Said, arriving at the stricken city on Jan. 9.

They were followed by Sperry’s flagship, the battleship Connecticut, which called at Messina on Jan. 9, while en route to Naples.

The battleship Illinois arrived on Jan. 14 to help recover the bodies of U.S. Consul Arthur S. Cheney and his wife, Laura, from beneath the ruins. This mission, involving hazardous tunneling through the ruined consulate building, was soon completed. Illinois sailed the next day for Valetta, Malta, where she rejoined her division.

A large quantity of supplies, originally intended for Sperry’s fleet, along with a hastily loaded prefabricated hospital left the United States at the end of December on board the Navy supply ship Celtic, arriving at Naples Jan. 19 and then taken to Messina. Celtic and her crew were in the Sicily-Naples area for about two months, distributing urgently needed supplies to towns along the Sicilian coast, erecting temporary shelters and otherwise helping the quake’s survivors.

When Celtic left to return home on March 21, Assistant Surgeon Martin Donelson remained in Sicily with a detachment to construct housing and provide further medical assistance. Donelson was ordered back to the United States on June 10, 1909, bringing to completion more than five months of Sicilian earthquake relief work by U.S. Navy personnel.

Just as it was 106 years ago, the U.S. Navy continues to build and maintain partnerships around the world with a strong presence. It’s those relationships that have allowed freedom of trade and navigation to provide stability and security for the global economy, according to Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus during a speech in September to an audience focused on international relationships.

“No matter how big, no matter how capable, no one country can do everything. We have to rely on partners worldwide. The more interoperable we are, the more we exercise together, the more we operate together, the better we will be when a crisis comes,” Mabus said.

 
Dec 31

Dear Diary: Insights on the Burden of Leadership from the Man Who Won the War in the Pacific

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 8:00 AM

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

k13796It was 73 years ago today when Adm. Chester Nimitz stood on USS Grayling (SS 209) in port Hawaii to assume the duties of Commander in Chief, Pacific Fleet and Pacific Ocean Areas. A battleship might be more befitting such a ceremony, but many of the Navy’s battleships were at the bottom of Pearl Harbor and the carriers were out chasing down the Japanese.

While the ceremony itself may have taken place on the 31st, however, Nimitz was selected for the position on Dec. 17. Three days after his selection, Nimitz is on a train heading for the West Coast. It is through Nimitz’s hand-written diaries and letters, many written to his wife Catherine Vance Freeman, that we can better understand the man who was thrust into national leadership.

It’s hard to imagine a world void of PowerPoint presentations, mobile devices and instant updates. His first task on the train was deciphering all the information, data and reports to piece together a more complete picture of the situation at Pearl Harbor. Once on station he’d have to focus on rebuilding the Fleet and wining the naval war in the Pacific Theater.

Those days spent traveling offered Nimitz some of the few in which he might enjoy a restful night’s sleep through the war years.

As he traveled westward, his correspondence decreased as the demand for his attention to the war effort increased. Sleep became less satisfying as his mind became increasingly “active.” He grappled with the unfolding uncertainty and enormity of the task at hand, but – as if to assure himself – added frequently that he’d do his best.

Nimitz 20 Dec. 41 - 1

Dec. 20, 1941 – It was 4:30 p.m. Saturday when Nimitz and his aide Cmdr. Hal Lamar, passengers on the Santa Fe “Chief” headed west through Illinois, when Nimitz takes the time to write home. “I have preliminarily read all the data which was furnished me on leaving Washington – some 10 pounds of paper – and my conscience will now permit me to relax,” he wrote, adding they had stopped at the Navy Department only long enough to see Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Harold Stark and Secretary of the Navy Frank Knox before getting on the train in Washington, D.C. “I was plum frazzled out and emotionally torn and worn. Even the Secretary was highly emotional and had difficulty controlling his voice.”

Nimitz 20 Dec. 41 - 2

Nimitz and Lamar managed to keep the classified documents away from prying eyes because they had adjoining rooms with a door between them, so they could lock the outer doors. The two shared scotch cocktails, had dinner and then perhaps the last “fine” sleep Nimitz would reference.

“I awoke at 7 a.m. really refreshed and feeling that I would cope with the situation,” he wrote. His anonymity on the train, however, was compromised when a professor who had heard him speak on Oct. 31 at Lincoln, Neb., recognized him and called him by rank and name. “My professor friend had the decency not to pursue me further on the train then, as we passed through the lounge car on the way from dinner and heard him point me out as “the Admiral.”

The professor wasn’t the only one on the train Nimitz needed to avoid. “Lamar warned me that (an ex-Congressman Ralph E. Church) was sitting just behind me in the diner. He had been in the Navy Department yesterday to try to get back the Naval Reserve Commission which we took away from him last summer.”

Nimitz 20 Dec. 41 - 3

Nimitz took a layover in Chicago for the opportunity to get a haircut near the Navy pier as “I had tried for the last week to get a haircut in Washington and had no time.” While there, he “saw the old fat Chief that used to be at the destroyer base as assistant to Martin and Carter in taking care of the grounds.”

After squeezing in a few more meetings, Nimitz continued to go over papers. “As I get more sleep and rest things are looking up and I am sure by the time I reach Pearl Harbor I will be able to meet the requirements of the situation.”

Nimitz 21 Dec. 41 - 1

Dec. 21, 1941, Sunday p.m. – After having spent a sunny morning in Colorado, Nimitz and Lamar were now in New Mexico, where the weather had turned dreary, and so, too, Nimitz’s thoughts. “Had a fine sleep and awoke much refreshed – but after spending most of today reading reports and estimates I find it difficult to keep on the cheerful side. Perhaps when I actually arrive and get over the first shock things will be better.”

He also wrote of seeing the changes in command throughout the Navy. “Last night’s paper announced King as C in C N.S. [Fleet Admiral Ernest Joseph King, Commander in Chief and the Chief of Naval Operations] and he is apparently displacing Stark insofar as concerns operations. Ingersoll is C. in C. Atlantic [Royal Ingersoll, Commander in Chief]. What a grand overall shakeup! At any rate I am convinced that there will be more action in the Pacific then elsewhere for many a day to come.”

Nimitz 24 Dec. - 1

Dec. 24, 1941, 3 p.m. – Nimitz and Lamar visit Rear Adm. Ernest Gunther at Air Station 11th Naval District, San Diego, Calif., after adverse weather prevented Nimitz’ departure the day before. Among the visitors was Vice Adm. John S. McCain. “I greatly regret taking these pilots away – and the crews on Christmas Eve, but I see no choice on my part. I only hope I can live up to the high expectations of you and the Pres. [President] and the Dept. I will faithfully promise to do my best. I am sorry I could not get out to P.H. [Pearl Harbor] before the inspecting board got there.”

Nimitz 31 Dec. 41 -1

Dec. 31, 1941 – Just minutes before his change of command ceremony, Nimitz took a moment to write: “This is just a very hasty note to tell you that at 10.a.m. – just 30 minutes from now — I will relieve Pye and become C in. C. Pacific Fleet [Commander in Chief Pacific Fleet]. May the good Lord help and advise me and may I have all the support I can get for I will need it. I have still not reached the point where I can sleep well because there is so much going on and so much to do. I am well however and full of energy.”

Nimitz 22 Jan. 42 -1

Jan. 22, 1942 – Nimitz’ time writing home has become greatly impacted by his overwhelming responsibilities. “My days are very much the same – long hours in the office – long discussions etc. Two days ago I sneaked onto and played two sets of tennis near the BOQ with Capt. T. Davis – my aviation assistant. I felt very strange on the court, but won in 1 set 6-4, and post 6-1 second set. Although I enjoyed the games I am afraid tennis will be very infrequent.”

Nimitz 29 Jan. 42 - 1

Jan. 29, 1942 (P.H.) Pearl Harbor – When Nimitz penned this, it was during a time when the Japanese menace threatened the entire Pacific, while promotion news for two of his peers was not favorable. “I do feel depressed a large part of the time but I always hope for a turn for the better. The news has not been too cheering recently so far as our allies are concerned.

“Secretary Stimson [Henry L. Stimson, Secretary of War] announcement went that I was holding the bag out here forced a press conference on me today and he had to duck a lot of tough questions. The unity of command was placed in the Navy before I reached here.”

“Although this has been a bad day for me, it has had its compensations. The flag selection list came in today and there are some sad people. I most distressed over Train and Gunther, both of whom should have been promoted.”

“I will turn in hoping to get to sleep. My mind is still in a whirl and I lie awake long hours but perhaps that will end.”

 

Editor’s Note: Transcriptions of this portion (Dec. 1941 to Jan. 1942) of Nimitz’s diaries were compiled and transcribed from original scans of hand written entries pictured above. To download scans of the original documents click here Dec. 1941 and Jan. 1942.

In mid-February 2014, the Naval War College unveiled an online 4000-page “Gray Book” collection of Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz “operational communications” that started in the wake of the Pearl Harbor attack and ran right up until the closing days of the war.

 

 

 
Dec 24

Stalemate: Treaty of Ghent Ends War of 1812 in a Draw

Wednesday, December 24, 2014 9:08 AM
Action between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere, 19 August 1812: "In Action" Oil on canvas, 32" x 48", by Michel Felice Corne (1752-1845), depicting the two frigates firing on each other, as Guerriere's mizzen mast goes over the side. Painting in the collections of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, transferred from the Navy Department in 1869. Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

Action between USS Constitution and HMS Guerriere, 19 August 1812:
“In Action” Oil on canvas, 32″ x 48″, by Michel Felice Corne (1752-1845), depicting the two frigates firing on each other, as Guerriere’s mizzen mast goes over the side. Painting in the collections of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, transferred from the Navy Department in 1869. Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

When warring countries Great Britain and the United States finally sat down to hammer out a peace treaty, it took nearly as long as the War of 1812.

After less than a year’s fighting, where Great Britain was fighting on two fronts: France and the United States, the first suggestion of a peace agreement came from, of all places, Russia, a country with no dogs in the fight, but losing out due to British and American commerce raiders.

At the time, American President James Madison was amenable, but the British foreign minister, Lord Castlereagh, wasn’t interested, especially after British troops had scored several victories. Less than a year later, however, with the toll of fighting both the French and the United States draining its economy, British officials agreed to talk peace with its former colony. After weeks of communications, it was decided in January 1814 the peace talks would take place at Ghent, a city in the neutral country of Belgium.

If Great Britain had gotten its way during the peace negotiations, residents of Detroit would now enjoy a spot of tea each afternoon and car factories would have ended up churning out cars with names like Mini, Phantom and Jaguar; folks in Ontario, Canada, wouldn’t be saying “eh” at the end of their sentences, although those in northern Maine, already loathe to unnecessary verbal excess, probably would be. There would be no Ohio, Michigan or Illinois, but one large Native American nation stretching from Ohio to Illinois in the west and to the Canadian border in the north.

John Quincy Adams was the lead negotiator for the United States in hammering out the Treaty of Ghent, the peace accord between Great Britain and the United States to end the War of 1812.

John Quincy Adams was the lead negotiator for the United States in hammering out the Treaty of Ghent,
the peace accord between Great Britain and the United States to end the War of 1812.

Whatever one might say about Madison, the man nailed it when he chose his “dream team” of negotiators, led by polar opposites John Quincy Adams and Henry Clay.

Adams, 47 at the time, was a Harvard-educated Northerner and the son of the nation’s second president, John Adams. Madison had appointed Adams as the United States minister in Russia. Adams, an early riser, was so dedicated to his duties he complained attending Russian diplomatic events and parties that lasted well into the night a drain on his time.

Clay, who had been elected to Congress representing Kentucky, was 10 years younger and enjoyed playing cards late into the night on more than one occasion. Despite minimal early education, Clay graduated from The College of William and Mary and also became a lawyer. He was more aligned with the South and West, but most importantly, Clay was also a war hawk, those who supported Madison’s decision to declare war against Great Britain in 1812 after that country blatantly impressed American sailors into British service for nearly 10 years.

Rounding out the negotiation team were Secretary of the Treasury Albert Gallatin, James A. Bayard, and Jonathan Russell, Madison’s representative in Paris. While the studious and precise Adams would oft be irritated by Clay’s late-night activities of gambling and drinking, the team presented a united front when it came to negotiations.

The British, however, sent their JV squad, since the location for the negotiations at Ghent was much closer to London. Lord Castlereagh, the British foreign minister and Secretary for War and the Colonies Lord Bathurst sent William Adams, the admiralty lawyer, Lord Gambier, impressments expert and admiral, and Undersecretary for War and the Colonies Henry Goulburn.

While war continued between the two countries, the battle would be no less tense between both sides once negotiations began in Aug. 8, 1814. The United States was facing bankruptcy and Great Britain’s economy was also faltering under the weight of fighting both the French and United States.

The first few weeks were spent determining the topics up for negotiation: impressment of sailors, border disputes between Canada and the U.S., fishing rights and lands for Native Americans who had sided with the British. It would take up to three weeks to communicate information back to the United States, while just a week for the British. The two teams spent their days haggling over details, but spent their considerable spare time in the evening playing cards, socializing and attending cultural events and activities. Well, except for early-to-bed Adams.

By the time the topics were hashed out, British troops had marched into Washington, D.C. having met little resistance, burning the White House and the Washington Navy Yard. The Battle for Baltimore was less a victory for the Brits, however, as the Royal Navy failed to take that important port city.

So it was October already when negotiations got down to the nitty-gritty of demands. The American team chose not to lead with Madison’s request for Great Britain to give up Canada and stop all impressments of sailors onto their ships. Perhaps the gambler in Clay chose to let their British counterparts play their cards first.

Great Britain started large with “uti possidetis,” meaning each side would keep what they won in the war. And for good reason. At the time of the negotiations, Great Britain had four invasions already in the works: 10,000 British troops were in parts of Maine and northern New York; British ships successfully blockaded commerce along the New England states; another fleet with troops had burned Washington, D.C. in retaliation for the American burning of York (now Toronto), the capital of Canada. The fourth invasion of was headed to New Orleans.

Great Britain had also captured 10 million acres of the American Northwest Territories (Native American lands in Ohio and Michigan and Illinois Territories) and demanded it be given to the Native Americans as their own state, thereby providing a buffer to block U.S. expansion into British-held Canada.

The British, while grateful to the Native Americans who sided with Great Britain in the war, cared little as to what happened with that buffer state. “The Indians are but a secondary object,” Golburn noted in a letter. “But when the boundary is once defined it is immaterial whether Indians are upon it or not. Let it be a desert. But we shall know that you cannot come upon us to attack us without crossing it.”

And there was more. The British wanted to keep the portion of Maine they had occupied and for the United States to withdraw its naval forces from the Great Lakes. They also wanted transit rights for the Mississippi River in exchange for allowing American fishing rights off Newfoundland.

The Americans, however, were having none of that, particularly Clay, who was adamant they would not give up the Northwest Territories. They argued “status quo ante bellum,” which was to keep the borders as they were before the war began.

As the talks continued, the British team would hear about fresh defeats in their former colony, and unrest at home about a prolonged and expensive war affecting that country’s economy. Back in the United States, as the British negotiation demands were published, even the Federalists agreed to fight against “uti possidetis.”

It was the Duke of Wellington, however, who got the British to back off any attempts to take American territory. Since the British armies had been unable to sustain holding onto the territories they won earlier in the war, Wellington stated in a letter to Robert Jenkinson, the British Prime Minister and Earl of Liverpool: “I think you have no right, from the state of war, to demand any concession of territory from America….indeed the state of your military operations, however creditable, does not entitle you to demand any.” Lord Liverpool agreed.

Once notified of the change of heart, the British team backed off “uti possidetis” on Nov. 27 and capitulated to “status quo ante bellum.” Prisoners would be exchanged, ships and territory would return to each country as it was before the war and captured slaves returned to the United States or paid for by Britain. Both countries agreed to end international slave trade. While not gaining any land from Great Britain, the United States did gain property from Spain, i.e. Florida. Native Americans lost everything.

By Christmas Eve, Dec. 24, 1814, the 3,000-word Treaty of Ghent with its 11 articles was signed by the negotiators. The Treaty wouldn’t be official until ratified by each of the governments. Great Britain received the document and ratified it three days later, Dec. 27, 1814.

It took a bit longer for the United States to receive word, as well as the British fleet and troops from that fourth invasion. On Jan. 8, 1815, the Battle of New Orleans began and ended with an American victory.

After the treaty documents arrived in Washington, D.C., Congress ratified it Feb. 16 and turned it over to a British diplomat. On Feb. 18, 1815, the treaty was proclaimed official and the war was over. After the United States mostly returned to its pre-1812 status, however, there were some 15,000 fewer in the young nation to celebrate it. Of that number, only 2,200 Americans were killed in action, the rest died from disease and illness.

Ironically, the issue that began the War of 1812 – the impressment of American sailors into British service – was never addressed in the Treaty, because Great Britain was no longer at war with France. Yet peace would last all of eight days. On Feb. 26, 1815, former French Emperor Napoléon Bonaparte escaped from Elba, and war would begin again in Europe.

The relationship developed between Adams and Clay lasted beyond their time in Ghent. Both Adams and Clay ran for president in 1824. Adams fell behind Gen. Andrew Jackson, the Battle of New Orleans hero, in both popular and Electoral College votes, but had more than Clay and a fourth candidate, William Crawford. Since no one had the majority of Electoral College votes for a win, the decision would be made by the House of Representatives. Clay threw the support of his War Hawks behind Adams rather than Jackson, ignoring the direction given to him from the Kentucky legislature. Adams won the presidency, appointing Clay his Secretary of State, a position he held during Adams’ tenure as president.

 
Dec 22

Dec. 22, 1775: The Beginning of Naval Leadership and Trust

Monday, December 22, 2014 9:00 AM
Cmdr. Thomas Dickinson

Cmdr. Thomas Dickinson

 

By Cmdr. Thomas Dickinson, professor at the Naval Leadership and Ethics Center, Naval War College, Newport, R.I.

When we reflect on the history of our Navy, a common reference point is the birth of the Continental Navy on October 13, 1775. However, few reflect on the importance of another day in naval history: Dec. 22, 1775.

Commodore Esek Hopkins (1718-1802), Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy, 1775-1777 Painting by Orlando S. Lagman, after a 19th Century engraving by J.C. Buttre. Naval History and Heritage Command Photo

Commodore Esek Hopkins (1718-1802), Commander in Chief of the Continental Navy, 1775-1777
Painting by Orlando S. Lagman, after a 19th Century engraving by J.C. Buttre.
Naval History and Heritage Command Photo

On that day Congress commissioned the first naval officers, marking the inception of leadership in our Navy. Commissioned officers included Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Navy, Esek Hopkins, and our first Commanding Officers: Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle, John Hopkins, and Dudley Saltonstall. Thirteen junior officers also received commissions, to include the legendary John Paul Jones. Each of these leaders would be immediately tested, sailing their ships into battle within 60 days of receiving their commissions.

In the context of that time, selection of our first leaders was of great consequence. America was preparing to wage war against a Royal Navy far superior to its own. The achievements, failures, practical experience, and standards of our first leaders would directly impact the revolution and set the tone for the future of our profession. The level of trust placed in these leaders by Congress and the people of America cannot be overstated.

Imagine trust from another perspective; that of the Continental Navy sailor. Imagine preparing to enter into battle with the great Royal Navy, with so much at stake, and being fully aware that the odds were stacked against you. What did these sailors expect of their leaders? If their ships were out-numbered and out-gunned, the Continental sailors expected bold, honorable and competent leaders who would set the example and judiciously discern when and how to employ their ships effectively. Leadership had to be the advantage, because naval assets in 1775 certainly were not a strength for the Continental Navy.

John Adams recognized in 1775 that leadership must be held to a higher moral and ethical standard in order to earn the trust of those they serve, whether that be the Congress, the citizens they represented, or the sailors on a warship. He codified this higher standard in the “Rules for the Regulation of the Navy of the United Colonies of North America.” One excerpt follows:

“The Commanders of all ships and vessels belonging to the thirteen United Colonies are strictly required to show themselves a good example of honor and virtue to their officers and men…”

This may look familiar, as the “exemplary conduct statue” is now mandated by law in Title 10 U.S. Code and also found in Chapter 11 of our Navy Regulations. This standard is alive in our Navy today, and is a direct connection between present-day leadership and the very beginnings of our Navy.

So how did our first leaders fare? The leadership of the Continental Navy experienced many successes and failures. Those who failed to execute responsibilities, such as Dudley Saltonstall, lost the trust of leadership and their commands, and were held accountable. Leaders who earned trust up and down the chain of command, such as John Barry and John Paul Jones, emerged to become heroes of the war and key leaders during future conflicts.

Vice Adm. Lawson P. "Red" Ramage, a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions July 31, 1944 as commanding officer of USS Pache (SS-384). NHHC photo

Vice Adm. Lawson P. “Red” Ramage, a Medal of Honor recipient for his actions July 31, 1944 as commanding officer of USS Parche (SS-384).
NHHC photo

This special trust relationship, highlighted in the examples above, has not changed over time in our Navy. Trust remains the foundation of effective leadership today just as it was in 1775. We can reflect on countless examples in the modern history of our Navy that reinforce this truth. A few heroic examples include Cmdr. Ernest Evans in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, Adm. Red Ramage in command of USS Parche (SS 384) and Adm. James Stockdale leading POWs in Vietnam. Each of these leaders carried out their daily lives with honor and operated in high-trust organizations that led to victory under formidable conditions.

More importantly, the trust relationship is applicable to leaders at all levels of our Navy today as we make efforts to earn and maintain trust. The Chief Petty Officer training and mentoring sailors, the Division Officer standing the mid-watch as Officer of the Deck, or the Department Head standing watch as a Tactical Action Officer. Each day leaders have the opportunity to put the mission and others before themselves, setting the standard and earning trust. This trust is the backbone of our Navy, and determines whether we will succeed or fail. As we reflect on the inception of naval leadership in 1775, we should pause to realize that trust is our most prized possession as leaders, and to never take the privilege of leading for granted.

Cmdr. Dickinson is a 2014 recipient of the Vice Adm. James Bond Stockdale Leadership Award from his tour as commanding officer of the Norfolk-based destroyer Barry (DDG 52).

The award is presented annually to two commissioned active-duty officers from commander and below who are serving in command of a single unit and who serve as examples of excellence in leadership and conspicuous contribution to the improvement of leadership in the Navy.

 
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