Jun 26

The Navy Sails the Inland Seas

Tuesday, June 26, 2012 7:29 AM
Today marks the 53rd anniversary of the formal opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway to seagoing ships. The Seaway is a 2,432 mile long international waterway consisting of a system of canals, dams, and locks. It provides passage for large oceangoing vessels into central North America, and has created a fourth seacoast accessible to the industrial and agricultural heartland of North America. To celebrate the opening of the Seaway, President Eisenhower and Queen Elizabeth II, along with twenty-eight Naval vessels, cruised from the Atlantic to the Great Lakes. 1,040 midshipmen, including the entire third class of midshipmen at the Naval Academy, took part in this historic cruise. The November 1959 issue of Proceedings included an article written by Lieutenant Commander Allan P. Slaff, who participated in Operation Inland Seas, and describes the experience of traveling the Seaway.

From Lake Erie to Montreal-369 miles and 552 feet down

The Navy Sails the Inland Seas
By Lieutenant Commander Allan P. Slaff, USN
“This waterway, linking the oceans of the world with the Great Lakes of the American Continent is the culmination the dreams of thousands of individuals on both sides of our common Canadian-United States border.”
So said President Dwight D. Eisenhower at the official opening of the Saint Lawrence Seaway on 26 June 1959. The President characterized the occasion as “the latest event in a long history of peaceful parallel progress between our two peoples.” Mr. Eisenhower was joined by the Queen of England, the Prime Minister of Canada, other ranking Canadian and United States dignitaries in a commemoration ceremony at the Saint Lambert Lock, first of seven in the new multi-billion dollar seaway. Read the rest of this entry »
 
Jun 21

Okinawa Operation

Thursday, June 21, 2012 9:51 AM

LVTs roll across terrain on Okinawa from beaches as Amphibious Task Force unloads. April 3, 1945.

The Battle of Okinawa was the largest amphibious assault in the Pacific War of World War II. On June 21, 1945, after 82 days of battle, the Japanese troops were defeated. This was not intended to be the final major battle of World War II, only the staging ground for the Allied invasion of Japan. The ferocity of the fighting on Okinawa, combined with the massive number of casualties, forced American strategists to seek alternative means for ending the war, as the destruction on Okinawa would surely have paled in comparison to any invasion of the Japanese home islands. The following article, originally published in the January 1946 issue of Proceedings, gives a personal account of the assault on Okinawa.

OKINAWA OPERATION
By Captain E. E. Paro, U.S. Navy
The High councils of war had reached a decision. They were in agreement and a directive was issued for a proposed amphibious operation in the Pacific.
There were many assumptions in the directive and the operation was to accomplish certain very desirable military objectives which later unfolded themselves but which are not discussed herein.
The target selected was Okinawa Shima in the Ryukyus. Information on this island was sketchy to say the least but its geographical location was very clear and definite. It is located 325 miles from the Japanese home island of Kyushu, 400 miles from Shanghai and about the same distance from Formosa. The directive stated that fanatical and determined air opposition by the entire Japanese air force could be expected. It was known that the Japanese had in existence certain paratroop units which would probably be employed, enemy surface naval opposition was a threat, and enemy troop reinforcements could be expected from any of the localities mentioned above. The target was heavily garrisoned and completely ringed by prepared enemy defense positions of great strength and in depth. It had a native population of 440,000 all of which must be assumed to be hostile. The terrain was exceedingly adaptable to defense, particularly in the northern and extreme southern positions of the island. The beaches were few and these were fringed by rough coral heads, and the depth of the water over them was unknown. The weather could be expected to be stormy for at least 20 per cent of the time and the island lay in the center of the path of most of the typhoons, which were frequent and severe. Read the rest of this entry »

 
May 24

NHHC Underwater Archaeology Branch and MDSU2 Survey SB2C Helldiver Wreck

Thursday, May 24, 2012 4:34 PM

The Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) is currently cooperating with the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command (MSC) and U.S. Navy Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit TWO (MDSU-2) to investigate a WWII-era SB2C Helldiver aircraft wreck off the coast of Jupiter, FL. The objectives of the investigation are to identify the aircraft using its numbered identification plates, measure and map the wreck site, and document the aircraft.

Investigation operations are being conducted from USNS Apache (T-ATF 172), one of MSC’s four Fleet Ocean Tugs and one of the 14 ships in its Surface Support Program. USNS Apache’s main mission is to render assistance to the US Navy’s numbered fleets by providing towing, diving platform and other services. UAB is also pleased to have the opportunity to once again work with MDSU-2. Their expertise and support were much appreciated aboard USNS Grasp, during the 2011 collaborative survey expedition to locate the wreck of USS Bonhomme Richard in the North Sea. (Photo to the left courtesy of Military Sealift Command Ship Database)

In addition to assisting UAB with its archaeological investigation, this project also provides MDSU-2 divers the opportunity to gain valuable training experience by performing deep water, mixed-gas dives up to 185 ft (56.4 m); collecting measurements of underwater sites; and conducting underwater navigation exercises. Over the previous four days, MDSU-2 divers have assisted with measuring the wreck site, documenting the aircraft, and mapping its disarticulated pieces. All divers are equipped with live video feed in their helmets, which allows MDSU-2 dive supervisor and UAB representative underwater archaeologist Heather Brown to observe underwater operations from aboard Apache in real time.

The wreck was first discovered and filmed by a local dive charter operator late last year, who then contacted NHHC about the find in early 2012. Video footage of the wreck (photo on the right is a still taken from video by Randy Jordan) shows that it is relatively intact and currently rests in an inverted position on the sandy ocean floor. The vertical stabilizer, ailerons, flaps, and elevators initially appeared to be missing, however portions or fragments of those elements have since been located on the site. The propellers and engine have been separated from the fuselage and lie several meters away from of the main body of the wreck. There are a number of ropes wrapped around the propellers and what appears to be a lobster trap lying beside the engine, suggesting the wreck may have been previously snagged by a fishing boat. (Sonar image of the SB2C site shown at the right)

As the wreck is resting in an inverted position on the sandy bottom, the cockpit and the aircraft bureau number were not readily accessible to the divers. However, they were able to locate a model number plate, heavily covered in marine growth and currently illegible, and carefully remove it. The plate is being sent to the Underwater Archaeology & Conservation Lab at NHHC headquarters on the Washington Navy Yard, DC, where it will be treated and examined by UAB’s conservation team and hopefully provide data to help identify the aircraft.

(The heavily corroded data plate)

Stay tuned for more updates as the project progresses!

Click the below link to watch Local News Channel 5 WPTV.com interview with NHHC underwater archaeologist Heather Brown:

 
May 9

Battle of the Coral Sea

Wednesday, May 9, 2012 7:54 AM

 

70th Anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea

 

 
 

May 8th, 1942

May 8th, 1942, marked the end of the Battle of the Coral Sea, the first carrier vs. carrier battle, which took place between the United States and Japan over the course of five days. In April 2006, Naval History printed a revised account of the battle from John B. Lundstrom’s book, Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal. Lundstrom’s account focused on the many difficulties encountered by both sides in locating enemy forces, and described the sense of anxiety that pervaded American and Japanese leaders as they tried to determine where and to what degree they would eventually engage their opponents in a drawn-out battle that ended, at last, with the sinking of the Japanese carrier Shoho.

Admiral Frank Jack Fletcher, USN

 

 

Sunset on 6 May 1942 drew the curtain on the last unalloyed strategic success Japan would enjoy in the Pacific war. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 4

The Establishment of NATO

Wednesday, April 4, 2012 1:00 AM

April 4th, 1949

NATO is established

 

In the wake of World War II, and at the beginnings of the Cold War, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was founded between the United States, Canada, and a large number of European nations. Ten years after the establishment of NATO, Proceedings published an article by Admiral W. F. Boone, USN, in its April 1959 issue. The article focused on the objectives of NATO as well as the acheivements and challenges encountered during the first ten years of its existence. Though establishing such an international union, especially in a time of peace, proved to be challenging for every member, the article, excerpted below, demonstrates that NATO, overall, has proven to be a success in preventing another global war.

NATO is the keystone of the supporting arch of United States foreign policy. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 25

Beginning of Naval Aviation

Sunday, March 25, 2012 1:00 AM

March 25th, 1898

Beginning of the Navy’s Interest in Aviation

In 1898, Theodore Roosevelt, then Assistant Secretary of the Navy, ushered in the beginning of Naval Aviation, with a proposal that the Navy investigate Samuel Langley’s flying machine for military purposes. However, as an article printed in the January 1971 issue of Proceedings notes, a long time passed between Roosevelt’s proposal and the first use of planes by the Navy. The article excerpted below, written by Thomas Ray, documents the first application of Roosevelt’s proposal, beginning in 1910.

Prior to September 1910—when the Navy Department appointed an officer to keep abreast of world aviation developments—the U. S. Navy had manifested little interest in aviation except to send token representation to certain aeronautical test flights and meets. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 20

Comissioning of the Navy’s First Aircraft Carrier

Tuesday, March 20, 2012 1:00 AM

March 20th, 1922

USS Jupiter is recommissioned as USS Langley

90 years ago, the U. S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier, the USS Langley was commissioned, after having been converted from a collier, the USS Jupiter. Before this conversion, the USS Jupiter was already notable, as the first large ship in the world equipped with an electric drive, a quality which made her transformation into the Navy’s first aircraft carrier a fitting one. The November 1922 issue of Proceedings recounts this conversion in its Professional Notes, and gives a detailed account of the USS Langley‘s many new and innovative features which would allow it to carry and support the Navy’s aircraft.

The U. S. S. Langley is now on her shakedown cruise preparatory to taking her place in the fleet as the Navy’s first airplane carrier. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 7

First Women Assigned to a Combat Ship

Wednesday, March 7, 2012 1:00 AM

March 7th, 1994

The U. S. Navy issues first orders for women aboard a combat ship: the USS Eisenhower (CVN-69)

The U. S. Navy issued the first set of orders to women for duty aboard a combat ship, the USS Eisenhower (CVN-69) on March 7, 1994. 

By June 25th, when this photo of a watertight door proudly labeled “FEMALE OFFICERS COUNTRY” was snapped as ‘A Sign of the Times’ eighty-seven women were aboard the ship as crew members, and approximately 500 women were expected aboard (as ship’s crew or members of an embarked air wing) by the following October for the next scheduled deployment.