Oct 27

Battle Report: Ramming Speed

Tuesday, October 27, 2015 10:22 AM


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

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

Oct 26

On the Edge

Monday, October 26, 2015 4:17 PM


Pictured in 1940, the tender Holland and submarine Sargo (far right) were among the U.S. Navy vessels to reach Fremantle in March 1942.

  An adapted excerpt from the new Naval Institute Press book Fremantle’s Submarines: How Allied Submarines and Western Australians Helped to Win the War in the Pacific.   It was against this backdrop of fear and anticipation that the first American submarines arrived at Fremantle. By 10 March 1942, ten U.S. submarines had reached the port, each carrying crews with their own stories of near-disaster. Among the most demoralized was Lieutenant Commander Tyrell Dwight Jacobs, commander of the USS Sargo (SS-188). Shortly after he arrived at Fremantle on 5 March, Jacobs told a senior officer, “I’ve had it. I want… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 22

Monument of the Month: The Anchor at the Naval Medical Clinic Annapolis

Thursday, October 22, 2015 4:00 AM


Close-up view of the Anchor at the Naval Medical Clinic Annapolis. USNI Photo.

The Naval Academy, home to the U.S. Naval Institute, is home to many monuments big and small, that honor the men and women of the Sea Services and their contributions to the well-being of the country. But often the things that exist right in one’s own back yard can get overlooked. So it is with some reflection in that vein that this month’s featured monument begins at a spot very close to the home of the USNI. Up a short flight of steps and a down a small path is a nearly-forgotten and often overlooked courtyard that was once part… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 15

Navy on the Western Front: The 14″ Railway Guns in WWI

Thursday, October 15, 2015 4:00 AM


battery firing

With a clanking rumble and puffs of steam and smoke, the U.S. Navy rolled into Paris in September, 1918. Word of the Navy’s coming had been telegraphed beforehand, and jubilant and curious crowds gathered not on the Seine, but at the railways stations, to witness the spectacle: the Navy had arrived in its own specially-built train, trailing at its end a new gun to rival the Germans’ terrible Paris-Geschütz that had been lobbing death on the city since March. The effectiveness of the German long-range guns on the Western Front (those guns manned by their own German naval crews) convinced… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 13

An Admiral’s Letters to His Son

Tuesday, October 13, 2015 2:15 PM



  By Vice Admiral George W. Emery, U.S. Navy (Retired) Admiral Hyman George Rickover, “the father of the nuclear Navy,” demanded stringent safety requirements and a powerful focus on quality standards. When once asked why, he responded: “I have a son. I love my son. I want everything that I do to be so safe that I would be happy to have my son operating it. That’s my fundamental rule.”1 Rickover lived up to those words, making a point to be personally on board during each nuclear-powered ship’s initial sea trials, and by his presence set his demanding stamp of… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 7

The Attack on the USNS Card

Wednesday, October 7, 2015 4:00 AM


USNS Card 1968

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

Oct 2

Graham E. Martin-In His Own Words

Friday, October 2, 2015 8:17 AM


The Golden Thirteen

I often comment to friends and coworkers that the hardest part of writing for me is deciding what to write. Unlike most college students, I preferred it when professors chose the topic. After all, if a semester of research and writing will make a student hate a topic, why pick something you enjoy? After explaining the difficulty I was having in finding something different for my next blog post, a coworker suggested looking through the voluminous USNI collection of oral histories. Not wanting to choose the famous sailors that are often highlighted, I decided to see if there were any… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 1

The Destruction of the S.M.S. Cormoran and the First U.S. Shot Fired in the First World War

Thursday, October 1, 2015 4:00 AM



As strange as it may seem, the very first shot fired by the United States in the First World War did not occur anywhere near the battlefields of Europe. Instead, as Commander Owen Bartlett, USN related in the following excerpts from his August, 1931 Proceedings article, the shot was made nearly half a world away in the harbor of Guam.   “The first violent hostile act of the war between the United States and Germany probably was the destruction of the S.M.S. Cormoran by her own commander in Apra Harbor, Guam. To those actively participating, the episode loomed large in interest,… Read the rest of this entry »