Aviation Week will be a week long celebration at NAS Pensacola commemorating a century of Naval Aviation. Scheduled events include a Blue Angels Aerial Demonstration, port of call by USS Iwo Jima (LHD-7), Aviation Museum Symposiums, and many more events.
The Navy has long been known for its ability to adapt its striking forces quickly to handle the constantly varying circumstances of combat. One such instance occurred on 1 May 1951, during the Korean War.
In late April, the Communist Spring Offensive began with a thrust down the center of the Korean peninsula as part of an attempt to carry out a double envelopment of the South Korean capital of Seoul. After initially losing some territory, U.N. forces had stabilized the front at the Pukhan River on 29 April.
At this point, the U.S. Eighth Army’s biggest concern was the Hwachon Reservoir Dam, since the Communists’ control of its waters could greatly impede the offensive activities of U.N. forces in the area. Earlier in the year, an attack on the dam conducted by U.S. Air Force B-29 bombers equipped with six-ton guided bombs had failed.
Accordingly, on 30 April 1951, the Navy was given the assignment to destroy the dam’s sluice gates any way it could. That afternoon VA-195, an AD Skyraider squadron on board USS Princeton (CV-37), was given the mission.
It was evident to LCDR Harold G. “Swede” Carlson and his pilots that an effective attack on Hwachon would require using aerial torpedoes, but it would take a number of hours to get them ready for use.
The planned strike took off from Princeton on the morning of 1 May. Eight ADs armed with torpedoes, led by Air Group commander R. C. Merrick and Swede Carlson, attacked the 20-foot high, 40-foot wide Hwachon Dam in two-plane section run-ins. The torpedo drop points had to be highly accurate, and they were. Six of the eight torpedoes ran true, completely destroying one flood gate in the center of the dam and punching a ten-foot hole in a second. The pent-up water in the reservoir was released to cascade harmlessly down the canyon.
In the one and only time that aerial torpedoes were used in Korea, the Navy’s carrier aviators had demonstrated their ability to adapt to circumstances.
Last week, The Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial participated in the 23 April “Civil War at Sea” Conference at the Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. The event was co-sponsored by the Naval History and Heritage Command and the Washington Examiner. Here is a small sampling of photos from the event:
|Craig Symonds and his wife talk with Admiral DeLoach
|Gordon Calhoun and Matthew Eng at the NHHC/HRNM/CWN 150 Booth
|Admiral DeLoach with donors of Farragut’s prewar ordnance log
|Civil War Living History Reenactors
|Gordon Calhoun interprets the sinking of the USS Cumberland|
|Matthew Eng talking Civil War Navy and the Emerging Trends of Awareness
A VERY big thank you to Bruce Guthrie for supplying the photographs for the event. You can see all the photos at Bruce’s website HERE.
I would also like to thank Taylor Kiland, Meredith Stencil, and Mark Weber for helping to organize the event. It was a lot of fun, and we certainly look forward to working more with the Navy Memorial in the future.
For more information, go to www.civilwarnavy150.blogspot.com
- CWN 150
Craig Symonds and others will discuss the naval aspects of the Civil War. For additional information, contact Taylor Kiland at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The US Navy accepts the design of it’s first official submarine the USS Holland, named after the engineer and designer John Philip Holland. Below are a couple of short articles from Proceedings professional notes section at the time of the Navy’s acceptance of the Holland.
From Proceedings 1898 #86
SUCCESSFUL TRIALS OF THE HOLLAND SUBMARINE BOAT.
The naval board appointed to inspect and report on the performance of the Holland submarine boat has reported that in the recent tests, held on November 6, in New York harbor, she fulfilled all the requirements laid down by the department.
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6 April is the anniversary of the entry of the United States into World War I. How that declaration was transmitted throughout the Navy is an interesting story. Ordinarily when a President signs an important measure, the signing is attended by members of Congress who shepherded the measure through the legislative process and members of the press who are there to record the event. Not so on 6 April 1917.
The declaration of war, already signed by the Vice President in his role as President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives, arrived at the desk of President Woodrow Wilson while the President was eating lunch with only his wife and a handful of staffers present. In fact, Wilson borrowed his wife’s pen to sign the resolution.
Immediately after Wilson inked the declaration, the White House usher, I.H. Hoover, buzzed the Presidential Naval Aide, Lt. Cmdr. Byron McCandless, who, by prearrangement, was waiting in an outer office. McCandless, eschewing the telephone, rushed outside and used signal flags to wigwag a message that the resolution of war had been signed to the Navy Department, the offices of which then were located across the street from the White House.
The message was received by Lt. Cmdr. Royal Ingersoll who literally ran down the corridors to the Communications office and ordered the operators to draft an ALLNAV dispatch. Five minutes later the message was being broadcast by radio from towers in Alexandria, Va. Within a few hours and by radio, telegraph, and cable, naval commands throughout the world were notified that the country was now at war with Germany.
In the fleet, the news was almost anti-climatic. In his diary, Cmdr. Joseph K. Taussig wrote that the fleet had been “on a war footing, more or less,” since diplomatic relations had been severed with Germany the previous February.
Fleet Commander Henry T. Mayo later informed Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels: “I did not have to give a signal of any kind or description to pass the Fleet from a peace to a war basis. The Navy was ready and on its toes.”
It may have been a case of much ado about very little, but that urgent semaphore message signaled dramatic and profound changes for the Navy and the nation.
In commenting on the selfless service of U.S. Navy Hospital Corpsmen, General Alfred M. Gray, USMC (Ret), the 29th Commandant of the Marine Corps, and Korean War veteran, noted that he “saluted our Corpsmen for their courage, valor, and willingness to serve above and beyond the call of duty.”
General Gray’s moving tribute would be most fitting in recognition of the heroism displayed by Hospitalman Francis C. Hammond, USN (Deceased) on the night of 26-27 March 1953. A native of Alexandria, Virginia, the twenty-one year old Hospitalman was serving with 1st Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division, when his platoon was subjected to a barrage of enemy mortar and artillery fire. Although wounded, Hospitalman Hammond continued to administer aid to his wounded Marines throughout an exhausting four-hour period. When his unit was finally ordered to withdraw, he remained in the fire-swept area and skillfully directed the evacuation of casualties, until he fell mortally wounded from enemy mortar fire. Hospitalman Hammond’s heroic efforts undoubtedly saved the lives of many of “his” Marines, and his sacrifice was honored nine months later by the presentation to his wife and infant son of a posthumous Medal of Honor.
On July 25, 1970, the USS Francis Hammond (DE/FF-1067) was commissioned in Long Beach, CA. After 22 years in service, Hammond was decommissioned in 1992 and dismantled nine years later.
Today, the Camp Margarita Medical Clinic at Camp Pendleton, California, and a school in his hometown of Alexandria, Virginia, bear the name of the young Hospitalman, who in the finest tradition of the Navy Hospital Corps, gave the ultimate sacrifice for his country and Marines.
USS Langley (CV 1) was commissioned on 20 March 1922 as the first U.S. aircraft carrier, under the command of Cdr. Kenneth Whiting. The Norfolk Navy Yard had converted Langley from the collier Jupiter (AC 3), replacing her coal-handling derricks with a wooden flight deck, and converting holds to hangars and fuel tanks. While the ship was officially named in honor of aviation pioneer Samuel P. Langley, pilots also endearingly nicknamed her the “Covered Wagon.” The Navy’s first carrier takeoff took place on board Langley on 17 October 1922, followed nine days later by the first carrier landing.
Transferred to the Pacific in 1924, Langley was the platform from which naval aviators, guided by Capt. Joseph M. Reeves, undertook the development of carrier operating techniques and tactics. Though newer, larger, and faster aircraft carriers began arriving in the fleet by the late 1920s, Langley remained an operational carrier until October 1936, when she began conversion to a seaplane tender.
Reclassified AV 3 following completion of this work in early 1937, Langley was mainly employed in the Pacific for the rest of her days. Through the early months of World War II she supported seaplane patrols and provided aircraft transportation services. While carrying Army fighters to the Netherlands East Indies on 27 February 1942, Langley was attacked by Japanese aircraft. Hit by several bombs and disabled, she was scuttled by her escorting destroyers.