May 3

Navy Ships Celebrate Milestone Anniversaries

Sunday, May 3, 2015 9:09 AM
Bow view of the US Navy (USN) Aircraft Carrier USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) underway off the coast of Southern California. The NIMITZ and Carrier Strike Group 11 (CSG-11) are currently conducting a Joint Task Force Training Exercise (JTFEX).

Bow view of the US Navy (USN) Aircraft Carrier USS NIMITZ (CVN 68) underway off the coast of Southern California. The NIMITZ and Carrier Strike Group 11 (CSG-11) are currently conducting a Joint Task Force Training Exercise (JTFEX).

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

It’s May, the month of flowers, Cinco de Mayo, Memorial Day and graduations – both high school and college. It’s also among the more popular months for commissioning ceremonies. This is the first in a series of blogs featuring currently-serving Navy ships celebrating significant milestones in their careers: 10, 20, 30 and even 40 years. They range from a supercarrier to oilers, and all are making history today by performing their missions at home and abroad.

 

 40 YEARS

When USS Nimitz (CVN 68) was commissioned May 3, 1975, at Naval Station Norfolk, there was much fuss and fanfare befitting a nuclear-powered supercarrier bearing the name of a legendary naval officer, Fleet Adm. Chester W. Nimitz.

“Only America can make a machine like this,” said President Gerald R. Ford at the ceremony where more than 20,000 attended. “There is nothing like her in the world.”

Other dignitaries included Secretary of Defense James R. Schlesinger, Secretary of the Navy J. William Middendorf, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. James L. Holloway III, and the father of the Nuclear Navy, Adm. Hyman Rickover.

 WHAT ELSE WAS GOING ON?

* Captain & Tennille’s “Love Will Keep Us Together,” was playing on the radio as the top pop song of the year. (Fun trivia question: What was the Captain’s name? The fabulously named Daryl Dragon).

* The top-grossing movie of 1975 – “Jaws” – kept people out of the water. Richard Dreyfuss maybe had Nimitz in mind when he quipped: “You’re gonna need a bigger boat” after mechanical shark Bruce chewed up the back of Robert Shaw’s boat

* Getting an office fax machine was the “next big thing.”

* Gas for cruising Main Street was cheap at .53 cents a gallon for those 70s muscle cars: Chargers, Camaros, Corvettes and Cutlesses.

* The recession saw unemployment rise 8.1 percent, while the salary of a petty officer third class (E4) at $5,220 a year was well below the median income of $11,800 and a median-priced home of $42,600.

SHIP HIGHLIGHTS

Nimitz would make her first deployment in July 1976, receiving her first Battle “E” award. A second deployment was as uneventful as the first. Soon after, the carrier began filming as the time-traveling star of the 1980 film “The Final Countdown.” The mind-bending plot has the supercarrier going through a freak storm in 1980 only to find itself – and her crew — in the Pacific on Dec. 6, 1941.

Tensions were increasing as Nimitz sailed on her third deployment in 1979 during the Iran American Embassy hostage crisis. It was from her decks Operation Evening Light was launched to rescue the hostages, but the mission was aborted after a helicopter crashed while refueling.

While deployed again in June 1985, Nimitz was sent to the coast of Lebanon in response to the hijacking of TWA Flight 847 by two Lebanese gunmen. Nimitz’ Airwing 8 bombed several sites in Beirut during the 67 days they flew sorties over the country.

On Sept. 1, 1997, Nimitz began a circumnavigation of the world that concluded March 2, 1998 at Newport News, Va., where the carrier would begin a 3-year nuclear Refueling and Complex Overhaul that ended June 25, 2001.

By March 2003, the carrier was deployed to the Persian Gulf in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom. Nimitz and CVW-11 were awarded the 2003 “Battle E” and “Flatley Award” in 2004.

As Nimitz marked her third decade of service, the ship would be the star of the small screen, the 10-part PBS documentary series “Carrier” while the supercarrier was deployed to the Persian Gulf on May 7, 2005. The carrier received another “Battle E” in 2005, while the PBS series, released in 2008, would earn an Emmy award.

After only four months in San Diego, Nimitz was deployed again in January 2008. In the Western Pacific for less than a month, the ship and her embarked Hornets tangled with Russian Tu-95 “Bear” bombers as they flew to within a few miles of Nimitz at an altitude of only 2,000 feet. The Hornets intercepted and chased the bombers back to within Russian airspace. The carrier received yet another “Battle E” for 2007 and in 2009 received the Meritorious Unit Award for her back-to-back deployments of 2007-2008.

In 2012, Nimitz changed homeport yet again, this time to Naval Station Everett, Wash.

SO WHERE IS NIMITZ NOW?

After participating in a series of exercises for two years, the now 40-year-old carrier has relocated to the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., for a scheduled 16-month maintenance cycle.

An aerial port bow view of the Ohio Class nuclear-propelled strategic missile submarine USS ALABAMA (SSBN-731) taken during sea trials conducted by General Dynamics, the ship's builder.

An aerial port bow view of the Ohio Class nuclear-propelled strategic missile submarine USS ALABAMA (SSBN-731) taken during sea trials conducted by General Dynamics, the ship’s builder.

30 YEARS

When USS Alabama (SSBN-731) was commissioned May 25, 1985, at Naval Submarine Base New London, Conn., it was Memorial Day weekend. “Careless Whisper” by Wham! was the top song on the Billboard chart, an appropriately-named tune for the silent fleet.

WHAT ELSE WAS GOING ON?

* The economy was stabilizing from three different recessions during a 10-year period of time. Unemployment had dropped from a high of 10.8 percent in Nov. 1982 to 7.3 percent in 1985. As the cost of oil skyrocketed, so did gasoline, now $1.13 per gallon.

* The wages of an E-4 nearly doubled to $757.40 a month from $435 in 1975. But at $9,204 annually, the wage for an E-4 was still well below the civilian median income of $26,618. Median home prices more than doubled over the previous 10 years to $100,800.

* The top-grossing film of the year was the Michael J. Fox time-traveling flick “Back to the Future.”

* As Alabama completed her trials, the year of 1985 would be dominated by terrorist activity, from the taking of TWA Flight 847 by Lebanese gunmen on June 14 to the PLO attack on the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro that killed American Leon Klinghoffer in October. It would also see the start of the clash over disarmament between President Ronald Reagan, entering his second 4-year term, and Soviet Union’s Mikhail Gorbachev.

SHIP HIGHLIGHTS

The boat also had her time on the silver screen, the 1995 film “Crimson Tide” and the 1997 release “Time Under Fire.”

In 1999, the submarine underwent a refit, and in February 2000 the submarine conducted exercises with USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) battle group while recognizing its 15 anniversary. In 2005, Alabama underwent a nuclear reactor refueling overhaul and launch conversion to the Trident II D5 ballistic missiles.

During the past 30 years, Alabama has conducted more than 50 strategic deterrent patrols, launched numerous test ballistic missiles.

 SO WHERE IS ALABAMA NOW?

Alabama remains part of Submarine Group 9 based at Naval Submarine Base Kitsap, Bangor, Wash. The Blue crew recently returned from a strategic deterrent patrol April 23, 2015. The Gold crew returned in July 9, 2014.

The boat has also received numerous recognitions, including the US Strategic Command Omaha Trophy as the top performing ballistic missile asset in the U.S. Strategic Command, two Battle E awards and the Ney Memorial Award for superior food service for small afloat unit, as well as numerous departmental awards in communication, seamanship, engineering and damage control.

An aerial starboard bow view of the guided missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG-59) underway during builderÕs sea trials.

An aerial starboard bow view of the guided missile destroyer USS Russell (DDG-59) underway during builderÕs sea trials.

20 YEARS

Two guided-missile destroyers share May 1995 as commissioning dates: May 20 for USS Russell (DDG 59) and May 27 for USS Paul Hamilton (DDG 60). Earlier in the month on May 6, USNS Laramie (T-AO 203)  was christened, the Military Sealift Command’s version of a commissioning.

Russell, named for Rear Adm. John Henry Russell and his son, Commandant of the Marine Corps John Henry Russell Jr., is the ninth Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and homeported at Naval Base San Diego.

A high oblique port bow view of the guided missile destroyer USS PAUL HAMILTON (DDG-60) underway off the coast of New England on sea trials.

A high oblique port bow view of the guided missile destroyer USS PAUL HAMILTON (DDG-60) underway off the coast of New England on sea trials.

Paul Hamilton, named for the third Secretary of the Navy Paul Hamilton, is the tenth in a class of ship that continues to serve the fleet. The commissioning ceremony was held at Charleston, S.C. before sailing to her homeport of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

150310-N-KD168-071 GULF OF ADEN (March 10, 2015) - Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO-203) pulls alongside amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) for a replenishment-at-sea. Iwo Jima is the flagship for the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and, with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), provides a versatile sea-based, expeditionary force that can be tailored to a variety of missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Magen F. Weatherwax/Released)

150310-N-KD168-071
GULF OF ADEN (March 10, 2015) – Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Laramie (T-AO-203) pulls alongside amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) for a replenishment-at-sea. Iwo Jima is the flagship for the Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and, with the embarked 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), provides a versatile sea-based, expeditionary force that can be tailored to a variety of missions in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Magen F. Weatherwax/Released)

Laramie, the 17th of the 18 Kaiser-class underway replenishment oilers, features a double-bottom to meet new requirements from the Oil Pollution Act of 1990 that reduced her liquid cargo capacity by 21,000 barrels.

WHAT ELSE WAS GOING ON?

* Speaking of barrels of oil, the price of a gallon of gasoline was up by only two cents from 1985, going from $1.13 to $1.15. Unemployment dipped to 5.6 percent.

* The E-4 monthly salary jumped 28 percent to $1,056, slightly ahead of the 22 percent increase in civilian median income of $34,076 over the previous 10 years. Neither would come close to the increase in housing, unfortunately, as median home prices leapt 37 percent to $158,700.

* For entertainment, rap dominated the music scene as Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise” was the top song of the year, while “Toy Story,” a toy-boy bromance voiced by Tom Hanks and Tim Allen, won at the box office.

* While Russell and Hamilton were testing their crew and equipment during sea trials, the Navy was responding with humanitarian relief to Japan following the Jan. 12 earthquake that killed more than 5,000 in Kobe; Rwanda, where more than 2,000 were massacred and thousands more displaced, and fighting escalated in Bosnia and Croatia.

* On the homefront, a truck bomb exploded at Oklahoma City federal building, killing more than 170 people and injuring 500.

SHIP HIGHLIGHTS

Russell deployed in 1996 with the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) Battle Group to the Western Pacific and Arabian Gulf in support of Operation Southern Watch and Desert Strike. In 2000, the destroyer sailed with the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) Battle Group. During another deployment in 2001, Russell rescued four B-1B crewmembers who crashed in the Indian Ocean near Diego Garcia.

While operating in the South China Sea in 2006, Russell provided aid to a distressed fishing vessel. Two years later, while in the Gulf of Aden, Russell rescued about 70 people after their boat was disabled. In 2013, Russell and sister ship USS Halsey (DDG 97) completed a hull swap with Russell permanently being stationed in San Diego while Halsey was moved to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam with the former Russell crew. The destroyer has participated in numerous other exercises and deployments over the past 20 years and received a 2006 Battle E award.

Paul Hamilton supported operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom, as well as Maritime Interdiction Operations, during a deployment in 2002. In 2003, the destroyer launched its first Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles in the North Arabian Gulf in support of OIF. Later that same year, Paul Hamilton and two ships from the Russian navy conducted joint maritime operations – for the first time in nearly a decade — in the Hawaiian operational area. In 2008, Paul Hamilton successfully intercepted a ballistic missile target over an open ocean as part of Pacific Blitz. The destroyer also participated in myriad training exercises, operations and deployments.

Oil replenishment ships are critical to the Navy’s mission in operating forward. But Laramie’s ability to handle a variety of missions was exemplified during NATO’s 80-ship 2006 Brilliant Mariner exercise. The oiler conducted 20 at-sea refuelings for 13 ships in 11 days in the North Sea and participated in a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) operation during the exercise. In 2008, Laramie was the large ship East Coast winner of the 2008 Capt. David M. Cook Food Service Excellence Award.

SO WHERE ARE THEY NOW?

USS Russell recently hosted Amanda Sloat, deputy assistant secretary of State in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs as a means to better understand the ship’s ballistic missile defense system. It was the first-ever visit to a destroyer by Sloat, who is responsible for issues relating to Greece, Turkey and Cyprus. Russell is currently assigned as part of Destroyer Squadron 1 based out of San Diego and in basic training to prepare for a deployment later this year.

USS Paul Hamilton, homeported at Pearl Harbor and assigned to Destroyer Squadron 21, is currently on an independent deployment to the Arabian Gulf and Western Pacific Ocean where they will conduct theater security cooperation and maritime presence operations with partner nations.

Laramie continues to provide underway replenishment of fuel, fleet cargo and stores to ships at sea operating in the Gulf of Aden supporting the 5th Fleet’s area of responsibility.

090129-N-3392P-009 PERSIAN GULF (Jan. 29, 2009) The Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1) conducts a vertical replenishment with the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50). Iwo Jima and Carter Hall are deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katrina Parker/Released)

090129-N-3392P-009
PERSIAN GULF (Jan. 29, 2009) The Military Sealift Command dry cargo/ammunition ship USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1) conducts a vertical replenishment with the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Carter Hall (LSD 50). Iwo Jima and Carter Hall are deployed as part of the Iwo Jima Expeditionary Strike Group supporting maritime security operations in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Katrina Parker/Released)

10 YEARS

Military Sealift Command’s first-in-its-class USNS Lewis and Clark (T-AKE 1)  was christened May 21, 2005 a dry cargo/ammunition ship geared to deliver supplies to ships at sea — ammunition, food, repair parts, stores and small quantities of fuel. Lewis and Clark, named after the explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, is one of two dedicated ships that provide the supplies necessary to enable the arrival and assembly of a Marine Expeditionary Brigade.

WHAT ELSE WAS GOING ON?

* The unemployment rate hovered around 5.1 percent despite an increase in gasoline to $2.30 from its $1.15 in 1995.

* That was good news for the E4, who saw his monthly salary jump to $1,612.80, or $19,353.60 annually, falling well short of the $46,236 median income, which had ticked up $12,000 from the previous 10 years. The median price of a home soared by 87 percent to $297,000 compared to $158,700 in 1995.

* Mariah Carey’s “We Belong Together” was the top tune for 2005, which could be the theme song for MSC’s cargo/ammunition ships and its Marine Corps mission. A nerdy and bespectacled English kid with a penchant for wizardry captivated the box office with “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.”

* At home, the Navy responded in a big way with humanitarian aid after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana, Alabama and Mississippi, killing more than 1,600 people. The price of oil, affected also by the hurricane and unrest in the Middle East, begin to skyrocket.

* Abroad, Pakistan, Kashmir and Sumatra were all hit by earthquakes ranging from 6.4 to 8.7 on the Richter scale. Hurricane Stan hits Mexico and Central America, with more than 1,620 people killed. Millions mourn the death of beloved Pope John Paul II.

 SHIP HIGHLIGHTS

After joining the Navy’s service in June 2006, Lewis and Clark supported Operating Enduring Freedom as it was deployed off the coast of Somalia in 2009. The ship took on a new mission as it was used as a prison ship for captured pirates until extradited to Kenya for trials. On May 5, the cargo/ammunition ship successfully evaded approaching pirates that fired on them during an attack. Lewis and Clark fired on pirates, chasing them away, when the oiler responded to a distress signal sent out by a Chinese-flagged merchant ship in 2010.

In 2012, Lewis and Clark joined the Marine Corps’ Maritime Prepositioning Force that is comprised of 14 ships, which enables the rapid deployment of a fully-capable Marine Air-Ground Task Force. The oiler then participated in a bilateral military operation called Exercise Coconut Grove off the coast of the Maldives with the Maldivian Marine Corps.

The cargo/ammunition ship was also featured in a “Modern Marvels” episode on the History Channel.

 SO WHERE IS LEWIS AND CLARK NOW?

After providing support for the Maritime Prepositioning Program at Naval Weapons Station Wharf Alpha, Charleston, S.C., in March 2015, the MSC vessel will undergo a scheduled dry dock/overhaul this summer.

 

 
May 1

Navy’s First Blind Flight

Friday, May 1, 2015 3:25 PM

By Hill Goodspeed, Historian, National Naval Aviation Museum

On May 1, 1934, Lt. Frank Akers climbed into the rear seat of an OJ-2 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Anacostia in Washington D.C. and taxied out onto the runway. For naval aviators of the era, flights in open-cockpit aircraft like the OJ-2 made them one with the elements, from views of the sky and clouds to the slipstream whipping by their heads. However, on this day, Akers sealed himself off from the outside, pulling a hood over the cockpit for a short flight to College Park, Md.

Lieutenant Frank Akers (wearing flight helmet) shows Rear Admiral Ernest J. King (wearing civilian hat), the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, the cockpit of the OJ-2 in which he performed the Navy's first demonstration of a blind landing system intended for use on board aircraft carriers. He made the landing "under the hood" at College Park, Maryland.

Lieutenant Frank Akers (wearing flight helmet) shows Rear Admiral Ernest J. King (wearing civilian hat), the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, the cockpit of the OJ-2 in which he performed the Navy’s first demonstration of a blind landing system intended for use on board aircraft carriers. He made the landing “under the hood” at College Park, Maryland.

In the darkened confines of the cockpit, Akers peered at instruments and other equipment that included an automatic direction finder, which would allow him to hone in on a radio beacon at College Park. Akers could trigger a switch that would convey this information to an instrument called a “cross-pointer.” As Aker later wrote, “The instrument was so connected that the intersection of the [instrument’s] two needles represented the aircraft and the small circle in the center of the instrument face represented the path. In following the instrument indications, the pilot endeavored to fly this intersection toward the circle.”

With standardized instrument flight training non-existent, Akers had prepared for the Navy’s first blind flight through time-honored trial and error, on one occasion settling a little too fast on a landing approach and passing through the top of a tree growing directly on the approach line to the runway.

With the equipment tested and safety procedures in place, Akers made the first successful demonstration on May 1. “I took off the blind, found the field at College Park by means of the visual direction finder, lined up on the localizer and glide path, and landed on the field.”

 OJ-2, (AN-31783), 14 October 1932. NHHC Photograph Collection, Visual-Aid Cards, Aviation.


OJ-2, (AN-31783), 14 October 1932. NHHC Photograph Collection, Visual-Aid Cards, Aviation.

Only when the airplane came to a complete stop did he open the hood. Additional flights carrying senior officers, among them Rear Adm. Ernest J. King, the Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, followed.

So did a new challenge, landing blindly on a moving airfield, which Akers successfully accomplished on the flight deck of the carrier Langley (CV 1) steaming in the Pacific off San Diego on July 30 , 1935.

These flights were the foundation of the ability of today’s naval aviators to fly their aircraft day and night in the most extreme weather conditions, carrying out their missions around the world.

Editor’s Note: Established in June 1962, to select, collect, preserve, and display historic artifacts relating to the history and heritage of U.S. naval aviation, the National Naval Aviation Museum on board NAS Pensacola, Florida, is one of the largest aviation museums in the world, displaying some 150 vintage aircraft including the first airplane to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, the only surviving aircraft flown during the Battle of Midway, and a VH-3A Sea King that flew as Marine One. Exhibits of personal artifacts and archival resources complement the display of these aircraft, educating active duty personnel, veterans, and the public about the contributions of naval aviation to Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard operations from 1911 to the present day.

Learn more about Naval Aviation History by clicking here.

 
Apr 26

The Evolution of the Good Conduct Medal

Sunday, April 26, 2015 8:15 AM
WASHINGTON (April 22, 2015) The Good Conduct Badge was established by the Secretary of the Navy on April 26, 1869. The badge was a Maltese cross with a rope-ringed circular medallion at the center. Along the rim of the medallion were the words ‘Fidelity Zeal Obedience’ and at the center, ‘U.S.N.’ Made of nickel and measuring about 31mm wide, the cross hung on a half-inch wide red, white and blue ribbon. On the back, the Sailor’s name was script-engraved. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2015) The Good Conduct Badge was established by the Secretary of the Navy on April 26, 1869. The badge was a Maltese cross with a rope-ringed circular medallion at the center. Along the rim of the medallion were the words ‘Fidelity Zeal Obedience’ and at the center, ‘U.S.N.’ Made of nickel and measuring about 31mm wide, the cross hung on a half-inch wide red, white and blue ribbon. On the back, the Sailor’s name was script-engraved. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood, Communication and Outreach Division, Naval History and Heritage Command

Second only to the Navy Medal of Honor, the Good Conduct Medal is the oldest award the Navy has continuously presented to deserving Sailors. But it has undergone significant changes since it was first established on this day (April 26) in 1869. Before it became a medal, it was called a badge, and before that, it was an administrative statement that served as proof of capability to work and serve at sea, and discharged a Sailor from service.

Prior to the Civil War, when a Sailor completed his enlistment, his commanding officer would certify his time, his trustworthiness at sea, and his proficiency with gunnery. If he wanted to go to sea again, his discharge acted as his references. Back then, “good conduct” was as much about skill than just behavior. A Sailor would enter a recruiting station with his “Good Conduct” report and reenlist. Enlistments worked differently back then compared to today when recruits may have little to no experience sailing.

The conversation might have gone like this: Recruiter, “Oh, I see you served under Capt. Joshua Barn—you served under Capt. Barney!? And he recommends you! Well, everything seems to be in order. Can you start tomor—I mean, toda—I mean, right now? I see a ship about to put to sea at this very moment in need of an able hand!”

Or something to that effect. The reference was transformed into a badge a few years after the Civil War.

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2015) Twenty-Seven years to the day after the certificate became a badge, the badge became the Good Conduct Medal April 26, 1896. In addition to this, by order of General Order 327, the time criterion was set at three years for a Sailor to earn it. A straight bar clasp was used to attach the circular medal to its maroon ribbon. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2015) Twenty-Seven years to the day after the certificate became a badge, the badge became the Good Conduct Medal April 26, 1896. In addition to this, by order of General Order 327, the time criterion was set at three years for a Sailor to earn it. A straight bar clasp was used to attach the circular medal to its maroon ribbon. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

“[The badge] was established by the Secretary of the Navy [on April 26, 1869] for award to any man holding a Continuous Service Certificate, who had distinguished himself for obedience, sobriety, and cleanliness,” according to John Strandberg and Roger James Bender in The Call of Duty: Military Awards and Decorations of the United States of America.

Given the reputation of Sailors back then, one could be forgiven for believing the bit about sobriety made the badge difficult to obtain, but there are no statistics available today about what percentage of 19th century Sailors were actually presented the badge at discharge.

The badge, which seemed a lot like a medal, was a Maltese cross with a rope-ringed circular medallion at the center. Along the rim of the medallion were the words ‘Fidelity Zeal Obedience’ and at the center, ‘U.S.N.’ Made of nickel and measuring about 31mm wide, the cross hung on a half-inch wide red, white and blue ribbon. On the back, the Sailor’s name was script-engraved.

If and when a Sailor received three such awards after consecutive enlistments, he merited promotion to a Petty Officer.

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2015) On the back of the 1896 version of the medal was inscribed, among other things, the discharge date and continuous service number. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

WASHINGTON (April 22, 2015) On the back of the 1896 version of the medal was inscribed, among other things, the discharge date and continuous service number. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood/Released)

The badge underwent some redesigns in 1880 and again in 1884. Then 27 years to the day after the certificate became a badge, the badge became the Good Conduct Medal in 1896. In addition to this, by order of General Order 327, the time criterion was set at three years for a Sailor to earn it.

A straight bar clasp was used to attach the circular medal to its maroon ribbon.

“Subsequent enlistments were recognized by the addition of a clasp attached to the suspension ribbon,” relate Strandberg and Bender. “These clasps […] were engraved on the front with the duty station or ship upon which the recipient served and the discharge date and continuous service number on the reverse.”

Over the next several decades, the Navy changed the medal’s appearance numerous times, but the criterion for receiving it seems to have remained the same.

For a brief period during World War II, the Navy stopped awarding the medal to conserve metal and free the clerks from the paperwork they mandated. Instead, notations were made in the person’s service jacket.

Not until the 1950s did the Navy settle on something permanent. The clasps were done away with in favor of 3/16 inch bronze stars denoting multiple enlistments, names on awards were dropped for all but posthumous recipients, and the ribbon was changed to a solid red color.

Nowadays, the rules for earning the medal are a little more complex, but generally if Sailors go three consecutive years with “a clear record (no convictions by court-martial, no non-judicial punishment (NJP), no lost time by reason of sickness-misconduct, no civil convictions for offenses involving moral turpitude)” they are eligible for the Good Conduct Medal.

Sources: http://www.history.navy.mil/browse-by-topic/heritage/service-medals-and-campaign-credits/navy-good-conduct-medal.html

The Call of Duty: Military Awards and Decorations of the United States of America

 
Apr 25

Farragut’s Fleet Takes New Orleans after Dash Upriver

Saturday, April 25, 2015 8:00 AM
USS Hartford during the push upriver on the Mississippi in April 1862.

USS Hartford during the push upriver on the Mississippi in April 1862.

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

When you read about Vice Adm. David G. Farragut, it is most likely in terms of his being lashed to the mast of USS Hartford during the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1865. It was during this Civil War naval battle the legendary leader was credited with saying: “Damn the torpedoes! Full speed ahead!”

This blog, however, isn’t about the sound bite that made Farragut famous. This is how Farragut’s leadership and tediously detailed planning and reconnaissance resulted in one of the great Union naval victories of the Civil War 153 years ago as Farragut’s fleet sailed upriver to capture New Orleans April 18-25, 1862.

The nation had been torn apart during the year since the war began April 12, 1861. The nautical highways of commerce and trade in antebellum America quickly converted into free-flowing theaters of warfare. It would be the shallow interior of the divided states where opposing forces tested each other with wood, iron, and water. The fiercest of all naval combat during the war occurred along narrow riverways traversing the eastern half of the continent. The riverine campaigns waged by Union and Confederate navies constantly evolved, often finding that environmental barriers were as troublesome an adversary as the enemy.

The main focus of Union river strategy was taking the mighty Mississippi, a system of rivers that had an unpredictable cycle of flooding and drought, making it difficult for an attacking squadron to launch timely assaults.

Admiral David Glasgow Farragut Library of Congress photo

Admiral David Glasgow Farragut Library of Congress photo

One of those environmental barriers – sandbars – kept Union Navy Capt. David Dixon Porter’s blockading squadron from sailing up the Mississippi to New Orleans, the largest city of the Confederacy and a major international port. Returning to the Washington Navy Yard at the end of 1861, Porter devised a plan to infiltrate the Mississippi River with a fleet of gun and mortar boats armed with 166 guns and 26 howitzers that could bombard the two forts – Jackson and St. Philip – that provided protection 70 miles from New Orleans. The Army, led by Gen. Benjamin Butler, would follow to take the Crescent City. Porter recommended the West Gulf Blockading Squadron to be led by his older foster brother, Capt. David Glasgow Farragut, a naval officer of southern birth who was already 60 and the veteran of two American wars. Porter would command the accompanying mortar boat flotilla.

USS Hartford was launched Nov. 22, 1858 by the Boston Navy Yard and commissioned May 27, 1859. The steam-sloop was the flagship for then-Capt. David G. Farragut during his campaign on the Mississippi River for the Union Navy. NHHC photo

USS Hartford was launched Nov. 22, 1858 by the Boston Navy Yard and commissioned May 27, 1859. The steam-sloop was the flagship for then-Capt. David G. Farragut during his campaign on the Mississippi River for the Union Navy. NHHC photo

Farragut arrived in the Gulf on his flagship, the steamship USS Hartford, in mid-February, 1862. As his skippers arrived over the next few weeks, Farragut issued detailed orders on how to ready their ships for river service, practice damage control and gunnery drill exercises. Concerned for his sailors, Farragut made sure the wounded would have the proper supplies by converting one of his vessels into a hospital ship and stocking it with iron bedsteads and tourniquets.

Map shows the Confederate fortifications at Fort Jackson under Gen. Duncan, Fort St. Philip and the Union fleet along the Mississippi River April 1862. This map, also shows the positions of Union ships under Farragut, who captured the strategic port of New Orleans, thereby providing the Federal army access to the Mississippi River. Library of Congress photo

Map shows the Confederate fortifications at Fort Jackson under Gen. Duncan, Fort St. Philip and the Union fleet along the Mississippi River April 1862. This map, also shows the positions of Union ships under Farragut, who captured the strategic port of New Orleans, thereby providing the Federal army access to the Mississippi River. Library of Congress photo

He also learned what he could of the enemy’s defenses, which besides the two forts included eight hulks moored in the river connected by a heavy chain reinforced by log rafts. Fire rafts were also ready to be deployed against an approaching enemy.

Farragut and Porter studied dispatches from Washington, read letters and papers from captured blockade runners and reports of prisoner interrogations. Farragut even joined upriver reconnaissance missions, deliberately steaming within range of the guns in the rebel forts to test the accuracy of their fire.

On April 16, Farragut and his fleet moved to within three miles of the forts. Two days later, the mortar boat flotilla began bombarding the forts, setting Fort Jackson on fire, thanks to the meticulous planning of Porter and Farragut. Fort Jackson’s guns that could return fire were hampered by the constant barrage of mortars striking their targets. Fort St. Philip suffered less damage as it was nearly out of range of the mortars.

“We have been bombarding the forts for three or four days, but the current is running so strong that we cannot stem it sufficiently to do anything with our ships, so that I am now waiting a change of wind, which brings a slacker tide, and we shall be enabled to run up,” Farragut wrote privately to a friend. “We had a deserter from the fort yesterday, who says the mortars and shells have done great damage.”

A covert action on April 20 was led by Capt. Henry H. Bell to cut the chain that lashed the hulks together blocking passage of the river. His letter reflected Farragut’s anxiety about putting his men into harm’s way.

“Captain Bell went last night to cut the chain across the river,” he wrote. “I never felt such anxiety in my life as I did until his return. One of his vessels got on shore, and I was fearful she would be captured. They kept up a tremendous fire on him; but (Capt. David Dixon) Porter diverted their fire with a heavy cannonade. They let the chain go, but the man sent to explode the petard did not succeed; his wires broke. Bell would have burned the hulks, but the illumination would have given the enemy a chance to destroy his gunboat, which got aground. However, the chain was divided, and it gives us space enough to go through. I was as glad to see Bell on his return as if he had been my boy. I was up all night, and could not sleep until he got back to the ship.”

Print shows a large squadron of battleships and ironclads entering the Mississippi River in April 1862. Library of Congress photo

Print shows a large squadron of battleships and ironclads entering the Mississippi River in April 1862. Library of Congress photo

With a clear channel on the left (eastern) side of the river, nearest to Fort St. Philip, Farragut was ready to send the fleet through to New Orleans. They were running out of ammunition after firing nearly 17,000 shells at the forts, with only one mortar boat casualty. On April 23, Farragut spoke to each skipper to make sure they understood his plan of attack, wisely anticipating the chaos that would follow amid darkness, smoke and gunfire. And perhaps most importantly, he gave each the power to proceed independently if necessary.

Farragut divided the squadron into three divisions, planning to lead the attack until he was convinced to lead the second division with the three heaviest ships.

At five minutes before 2 a.m. April 24, two red lanterns were hoisted on the deck of Farragut’s flagship Hartford, signaling the fleet to get under way. By 3:40 a.m., the sky was lit with bursting shells, blazing fire rafts; just as quickly visibility was obscured by black smoke. Farragut’s plan for an orderly line devolved into a push through the channel, with some ships getting hammered while others slipped through unscathed.

Farragut’s insistence on drilling his crews on damage control came to fruition. As Hartford pounded Fort St. Philip with shells to get the third division through the channel, a tug towing a raft filled with blazing pine cones set its sights on the flagship. Attempts to maneuver past the tug caused Hartford to run aground; the fire-raft found its target, and soon the wooden steamer was ablaze. The crew finally got the blaze under control and Hartford was headed upriver. By daylight, all but two of the third division ships got through, forcing their retreat back into the Gulf.

After minor resistance from the remnants of the Confederate navy, Farragut’s squadron reached New Orleans on the afternoon of April 25. With Confederate troops still in Tennessee after the defeat at Shiloh earlier that month, no one wanted to take the responsibility for surrendering the city to Farragut. A major deferred the decision to Confederate Gen. Mansfield Lovell, whose troops were already retreating north. Even the mayor refused to hand over the keys, claiming Farragut had to take it by force.

Loathe to put his men into unnecessary danger, Farragut sent Marines to raise the American flag over the custom house and remove the Louisiana state flag from city hall on April 29, more than 10 days from when his squadron began bombarding the forts. When Gen. Butler’s forces arrived May 1, they secured the city and freed Farragut’s fleet to continue upriver to Vicksburg. But that’s another blog for another day.

Some of the information for this blog came from “The Civil War at Sea,” a special edition of The Daybook published by the Hampton Roads Naval Museum, Norfolk, Va.

 

 
Apr 24

John Paul Jones Comes Home to the U.S. Naval Academy

Friday, April 24, 2015 8:00 AM
Casket containing the body of John Paul Jones is lowered to the after deck of the Tug Standish, during its transfer from USS Brooklyn (Armored Cruiser # 3) in Annapolis Roads, off the U.S. Naval Academy, July 23, 1905.

Casket containing the body of John Paul Jones is lowered to the after deck of the Tug Standish, during its transfer from USS Brooklyn (Armored Cruiser # 3) in Annapolis Roads, off the U.S. Naval Academy, July 23, 1905.

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Legendary Continental Navy Capt. John Paul Jones was famous for his retort, “I have not yet begun to fight,” upon being asked to surrender his sinking and burning Bonhomme Richard to HMS Serapis. At the end of the fight, it was Jones who was victorious.

Jones struggled to find relevancy following the end of the American Revolution, with a less-than-stellar stint as an admiral in the Russian Imperial Navy. He begged the United States to give him an appointment, but that young republic had disbanded its navy. When he died in 1792 of lung and liver diseases, he was jobless and nearly penniless, buried and forgotten. Yet more than one hundred years later, the thrice-buried Jones would rise – and rise again – putting sort of an after-life twist on his famous quote: “I have not yet begun to be buried.”

Painting of John Paul Jones by George Bagby Matthews

Painting of John Paul Jones by George Bagby Matthews

Following the naval hero’s death at age 45, it fell to the American minister to France, Gouverneur Morris, to figure out what to do with the Scottish native who had fought so bravely for American independence. Unfortunately, Morris barely tolerated Jones. He was afraid the cost of the funeral would fall on his shoulders so he left instructions with Jones’ landlord that Jones was to be buried as inexpensively as possible.

A local politician, M. Pierre François Simonneau, could not bear to have the former naval hero buried like a pauper; he ensured Jones received a funeral befitting his status. Simonneau believed that one day the body of Jones would be returned to the United States so he arranged to have the body preserved in alcohol and placed in a lead coffin. Jones was buried in a Protestant cemetery at a total cost of 462 francs.

Luckily for Jones, his legend and fame outlived him. John H. Sherburne published the earliest biography (1851) of the naval hero: “The Life and Character of John Paul Jones.” He tried to find Jones’ body for a year and finally gave up the search.

In 1897, Brig. Gen. Horace Porter, a former Civil War officer and the American ambassador to France, hired historians and researchers and spent his own money to find Jones’ cemetery and the grave.

Six years later, Porter’s team located the cemetery, which had been closed for many years and had mostly turned into an overgrown pet cemetery. Porter employed dozens of workmen who sank shafts and dug trenches looking for the relatively-rare lead coffins. The workmen found three lead coffins, the first two being unidentified civilians, and then the third being a well-preserved corpse.

In what would be fitting for a 19th century episode of CSI Paris, Porter hired anthropologists and France’s foremost pathologist to make the formal identification. They discovered the body had been preserved with alcohol and they noted the long hair was brown, with a touch of gray and was covered in a linen cap monogrammed with the letters “P” and “J”.

Additionally, the investigators compared the head to that of a bust of Jones, which had been made using calipers and rulers to obtain the exact measurements of Jones’s facial features. The ear lobes were also compared to those on the bust for even further accuracy. The pathologist concluded that the body in the casket was indeed the one Porter had been seeking.

Photograph showing automobiles arriving as a military band awaits them. Relates to the re-interment of John Paul Jones at the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

Photograph showing automobiles arriving as a military band awaits them. Relates to the re-interment of John Paul Jones at the Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.

John Paul Jones’ body was then placed back in the lead coffin, which in turn was put into a mahogany casket for transit back to the Unites States on board USS Brooklyn following a French-American funeral procession. After arriving at Annapolis in July 1905, the casket was transferred to the tug USS Standish and taken ashore to the U.S. Naval Academy where it was placed in a brick vault at the Academy’s Bancroft Hall.

U.S. Naval Academy personnel escorting the body of John Paul Jones to a temporary brick vault at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis on April 24, 1906. Library of Congress photo

U.S. Naval Academy personnel escorting the body of John Paul Jones to a temporary brick vault at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis on April 24, 1906. Library of Congress photo

President Theodore Roosevelt gave the eulogy for Jones during an April 24, 1906 commemorative ceremony. Roosevelt, ever the politician, used the pulpit as an opportunity to announce the expansion of the Navy. The grand ceremony was attended by thousands, a far cry from Jones’ first internment.

President Theodore Roosevelt took the opportunity to announce the expansion of the U.S. Navy while giving the eulogy for John Paul Jones’ commemorative reburial ceremony April 24, 1906.

President Theodore Roosevelt took the opportunity to announce the expansion of the U.S. Navy while giving the eulogy for John Paul Jones’ commemorative reburial ceremony April 24, 1906.

It wouldn’t, however, be his last.

Gen. Porter, who had been awarded $35,000 to reimburse him for his costs in finding the naval hero’s body, requested it be applied to the cost of a marble crypt for Jones’ final re-burial in January 1913.

The crypt of John Paul Jones as it appears today at the U.S. Naval Academy

The crypt of John Paul Jones as it appears today at the U.S. Naval Academy

 
Apr 21

After WWII Ends, Some Japanese Soldiers Carry On the Fight

Tuesday, April 21, 2015 8:00 AM
Aerial photo of Peleliu in 1945 well after it was secured by U.S. Marines. (Photo Courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

Aerial photo of Peleliu in 1945 well after it was secured by U.S. Marines. (Photo Courtesy of U.S. Navy Seabee Museum)

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric Lockwood, Naval History and Heritage Command

When do you think the Second World War ended?

One might say Aug. 9, 1945, after the US dropped the second atomic bomb. The war had been decided after that. Another commonly said day would be a few days later on Aug. 15, when Japan announced they would no longer fight and would formally surrender. A third date might be Sept. 2, when representatives of the Empire of Japan officially signed the Japanese Instrument of Surrender aboard USS Missouri (BB 63) in Tokyo Bay.

Whatever the date, as news of the war’s end spread, some Japanese soldiers and sailors on the periphery of the empire refused to believe it. Many thought it might be a propaganda trick. Others had holed up in fortifications and they just didn’t get the news, so their commanders last set of orders—hold the line—dictated their actions.

Japanese Lt. Ei Tadamichi Yamaguchi was of the second sort when he formally surrendered to a Navy detachment on the island of Peleliu on April 21, 1947, 20 months after the war ended.

Prior to the Battle of Peleliu, the Japanese had more than 10,000 people defending that island. Then, in September 1944, Marines from the First Marine Division were ordered to secure the island—and 73 days later they succeeded. Afterwards, Yamaguchi and 32 of his surviving comrades went into hiding — for nearly two and a half years.

They were able to do so because of the honeycombed defense system they helped create on the island. Bunkers, caves and underground positions all linked together enabling them to evade capture.

According to William Webb in the book “No Surrender!” from the Umurbrogol Ridge, “they harassed the small Marine detachment left behind to guard Peleliu, and dreamed of taking back the island. […] They rarely managed more than potshots at the remaining Marines, however; ammo was scarce, and their primary concerns were survival and staying undetected.”

In an effort to call them in, the Marines on the island occasionally sent out patrols to look for those who didn’t surrender.

On and on this continued, day after day and month after month, for nearly three years. The holdouts could actually see the vegetation gradually return to the island.

Eventually, the Marines captured Superior Seaman Kiyokazu Tsuchida, although the details are a bit sketchy. By one account, he walked up to the Marine detachment. By another account, he was captured by a patrol. Regardless of how, he entered into their custody.

Kiyokazu Tsuchida (left), a former World War II Japanese Army soldier, and US Navy Rear Adm. Arthur J. Johnson, Commander, US Naval Region Marianas, meet and embrace during a ceremony commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Peleliu, held at Peleliu Island, Guam, Sept. 15, 2004.. Tsuchida, who was stationed on the island in 1944 hid in the Islands cave and jungles for nearly two years after the war ended and did not surrender to American forces until April 1947.

Kiyokazu Tsuchida (left), a former World War II Japanese Army soldier, and US Navy Rear Adm. Arthur J. Johnson, Commander, US Naval Region Marianas, meet and embrace during a ceremony commemorating the 60th Anniversary of the Battle of Peleliu, held at Peleliu Island, Guam, Sept. 15, 2004.. Tsuchida, who was stationed on the island in 1944 hid in the Islands cave and jungles for nearly two years after the war ended and did not surrender to American forces until April 1947.

As one might expect, after two years of no communication from anyone, Tsuchida reported the holdouts were a bit antsy. However, as Gordon D. Gayle in Bloody Beaches: The Marines at Peleliu says, “It seemed that a final banzai attack was under consideration.”

A banzai attack was pretty much a large scale suicide attack, during which someone would shout ‘Tenno Heika Banzai’, or ‘Long live the Emperor,’ before rushing the Allies. It was that or surrender, and according to the Bushido philosophy, surrender wasn’t a viable option for them. The troops had been trained under the 1941 Japanese Military Field Code that stressed: “The destiny of the Empire rests upon victory or defeat in battle. Do not give up under any circumstances, keeping in mind your responsibility not to tarnish the glorious history of the Imperial Army with its tradition of invincibility.”

In response to a potential banzai attack, the book outlines how the Navy garrison commander secured the Navy personnel and their families and called in reinforcements from Guam, including Japanese Rear Adm. Michio Sumikawa, a war crimes witness.

“The admiral flew in and traveled by jeep along the roads near the suspected cave positions. Through a loudspeaker he recited the then-existing situation. No response. Finally, [Tsuchida] went back to the cave armed with letters from Japanese families and former officers from the Palaus, advising the holdouts of the end of the war,” according to the book.

With the Japanese admiral’s testimony, letters from home, and assurance from Japan they’d be repatriated after surrendering, the evidence was mounting the Japanese lost the war, and finally convinced them the war was over.

On April 21, 1947, Yamaguchi and 25 others surrendered.

James Hallas, in The Devil’s Anvil: The Assault on Peleliu, describes the scene: “Led by Yamaguchi, the Japanese […] marched ceremoniously to the front of the former Japanese headquarters building. As 80 Marines in full battle kit stood at attention, Yamaguchi bowed low and handed his sword and battle flags to [Navy Capt. L. O. Fox, then-Commandant of the Palau Islands].” The remaining six surrendered the following day.

Why on earth did Yamaguchi and his band of brothers hold out for so long?

When the TV show Dateline interviewed him nearly 50 years after Japan surrendered, he said, “We couldn’t believe that we had lost. We were always instructed that we could never lose. It is the Japanese tradition that we must fight until we die, until the end.”

Ironically, Yamaguchi was one of the first holdouts to surrender. More were discovered for decades all around the Pacific, with the last two confirmed in 1974, including 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda, a Japanese intelligence officer who refused to surrender until his former commanding officer relieved him of duty in March 1974 where he had been hiding in the Philippines for 29 years.

One can admire the loyalty and dedication to duty.

 
Apr 15

El caso Baltimore y el incidente Water Witch: dos casos de los EE.UU. en América Sur

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 9:40 AM
The USS Baltimore (Cruiser Number 3)

The USS Baltimore (Cruiser Number 3)

Los Estados Unidos (EE.UU.) tienen una historia muy extensa de intervención en América latina. Durante el siglo XX, los EE.UU. envió infantes de marina entre muchos países, en una época conocida como las guerras banana. Antes de estas incursiones, los EE.UU. luchó contra España y le quitó el imperio español de América latina después de casi cuatrocientos años. Usualmente, los historiadores miran la guerra español-americana como el punto donde los EE.UU. empezó ser un poder mundial y una nación imperialista. Pero, algunos historiadores apuntan a otros eventos como el punto donde los EE.UU. empezó a mirar su mismo como poder mundial. El caso Baltimore fue un conflicto diplomático entre Chile y los Estados Unidos durante los años 1890. Un buque estadounidense, el USS Baltimore, visitando la puerta de Valparaíso sufrió un ataque contra sus marineros por una turba chilena.

Harbour of Valparaiso, Chile.

Harbour of Valparaiso, Chile.

Este ataque casi precipitó la guerra entre los EE.UU. y Chile. La importancia del caso Baltimore, para la historiadora Joyce Goldberg, es que el caso prueba que los EE.UU. se vio a sí mismo como poder mundial. En esta interpretación la guerra español-americana solo es “considerablemente menos una causa del nuevo estado de los Estados Unidos como poder mundial que una expresión o una afirmación del poder y el rol que los EE.UU. ha tenido más temprano.”[1] (Goldberg, 142). Pero, la historia de los EE.UU. en América del sur muestra que incidentes como el caso Baltimore no son inusuales. En los años 1850, otro incidente casi estalló en una guerra entre un país suramericano y los EE.UU. El incidente Water Witch causó una pelea diplomática entre los EE.UU. y Paraguay e inició el viaje de la flota de buques de guerra estadounidenses más grande antes de la Guerra Civil. (Love, 242) Estos dos incidentes en la historia de relaciones entre los EE.UU. y los países de América del sur son pruebas de que los EE.UU. no actuaba diferente en los años 1850 y los años 1890. Desde que los EE.UU. no era poder mundial durante los años 1850s, como máximo los EE.UU. era un poder regional menor, el caso Baltimore no se puede ver como ruptura en conducta diplomática estadounidense. En lugar de ello, se debe considerar las acciones de los Estados Unidos durante el siglo XIX en su conjunto y como fundamente similares.

El incidente que empezó el caso Baltimore ocurrió el 16 de octubre 1891. El barco USS Baltimore estaba en la puerta de Valparaíso para proteger a ciudadanos estadounidenses y su propiedad. Chile estaba en una guerra civil entre las fuerzas de José Manuel Balmaceda, el presidente de Chile, y las fuerzas del Congreso chileno. El Baltimore llegó a Valparaíso en abril y se quedó en Valparaíso hasta octubre. (Goldberg, 2) Las fuerzas del Congreso ganaron la guerra civil con la derrota de las Balmacedistas en la batalla de Placilla en Augusto y el capitán del buque, Winifield Scott Schley, escribió a sus superiores que en su opinión la presencia del buque no era necesaria. (Goldberg, 2-3) Pero Schley fue ordenado a quedarse. (Goldberg, 3). Había indicaciones que a los chilenos no le gustaban la presencia del Baltimore. Por esta razón, Schley no permitió a sus marineros tener libertad a la orilla. Marineros de Alemania, Francia, Inglaterra fueron permitidos tener libertad, pero Schley sintió que había “sentimientos fuertes y de mucha hostilidad” de la población chilena. Pero en octubre su opinión del sentimiento público en Valparaíso cambió, reportando que “todo es tranquilo en Valparaíso, y las posibilidades de que todo colocarse mejora cada día.” (Goldberg, 3) El 16 de octubre, Schley finalmente permitió 117 libertades a la orilla.

El día pasó sin incidentes. Schley reporto que “Yo estaba muy impresionado por su disciplina, su limpieza, y su cortesía a todos que visten en las calles.” (Goldberg, 4) Otro oficial americano comentó que los marineros se comportaban bien, sobrios, e incluso saludaban a todos los oficiales de armadas extranjeras. (Goldberg, 4) Pero las dificultades empezaron cuando dos marineros estadounidenses visitaron una taberna llamada Taberna Verdadera Azul. Charles Riggin y John Talbot se estaban divirtiendo, cuando un soldado chileno quería empezar una pelea con Riggin. Talbot intentó parar la pelea pero el soldado escupió en su rostro y Talbot lo empujó al suelo. (Goldberg, 5) Una turba de chilenos inmediatamente se formó y atacó a los marineros. Talbot y Riggin huyeron y fueron separados. Intentando esconderse en un tranvía, la turba lo rodeó y forzó a Riggin y Talbot afuera. La turba inmediatamente cayó sobre Riggin, acuchillándole y golpeándole repetidamente. (Goldberg, 8) Talbot intentó a ayudar a su amigo, pero huyó cuando él fue acuchillado en la espalda.

La turba persiguió a Talbot, acuchillándole y lanzado piedras a él. Talbot trató de esconderse en una taberna, pero la turba lo encontró y trató por una hora de forzar la entrada y arrastrarle afuera. Talbot escapó solo cuando un policía le llevó a la cárcel, asegurándose de ocultar su uniforme bajó un abrigo grande. (Goldberg, 7) Riggin no era tan afortunado como su amigo. Otro marinero del Baltimore, sin uniforme, trató de ayudarle a escapar, pero un escuadrón de policías disparó sobre ellos y mataron a Riggin. (Goldberg, 9) A lo largo de Valparaíso, marineros en uniformes estadounidenses fueron atacados por turbas chilenas. El resultado de los disturbios el 16 de octubre fueron las muertes de dos marineros estadounidenses y la detención de cuarenta y ocho, diecisiete de ellos heridos seriamente. (Goldberg, 19)

Schley se informó de los disturbios la misma noche pero decidió dormir y buscar más información sobre la situación en la mañana. (Goldberg, 59) La próxima mañana Schley envió oficiales a Valparaíso para investigar la situación. El informe oficial de Schley sostenía que sus marineros no instigaron los disturbios y que ellos estaban sobrios. Según Schley, monjas en el hospital “declaraban sin reservación que los hombres estaban sobrios cuando ellos llegaban a esa institución.” (Goldberg, 60) Más prueba por su opinión que los marineros no instigaron el ataque fue la decisión del juez e intendente de Valparaíso de liberarlos “individuamente sin culpa.” (Goldberg, 61)

La versión de eventos descritos por autoridades chilenas era muy diferente de la estadounidense. Según el comandante de la policía, los disturbios empezaron por culpa de los marineros estadounidenses, quienes empezaron la confrontación con el soldado chileno en la taberna. (Goldberg, 10) También ellos afirmaron que no dispararon a los marineros. En cambio, insistieron que la muerte de Riggin fue causada por una pistola de la turba. Muchos de los policías declaraban que no era más de un disparo. (Goldberg, 13) Nadie sabe exactamente que pasó pero es más probable que la afirmación de los marineros es la versión correcta, a lo menos por las acciones de la policía. No podía ser solo un disparo porque el otro marinero con Riggin también tenía heridas de balas. El caso Baltimore al principio era un incidente bastante pequeño, lamentable, pero no tan importante que los EE.UU. y Chile podían luchar en una guerra sobre el incidente. Pero el orgullo y la determinación de estar en lo cierto casi condujeron a los EE.UU. y a Chile a una guerra.

La crisis diplomática empezó el 26 de Octubre cuando el ministro EE.UU. a Chile envió una carta al ministro de relaciones exteriores chilena, Don Manuel Matta, describiendo el incidente de la perspectiva del Capitán Schley y comentó que el gobierno de Chile todavía no se había disculpado. Esta carta enojó al ministro, que respondió muy enojado y dijo que no pudo comentar más hasta el fin del sumario chileno. (Goldberg, 64) La respuesta de ministro fue interpretada por algunos periódicos estadounidenses como intento de negar cualquier culpa chilena. También, los asuntos se pusieron peor por la falta de los chilenos de hacer el sumario tan rápido como los EE.UU. querían. Numerosos periódicos estadounidenses empezaron a surgir que puede ser necesario enviar la Armada estadounidense para recibir justicia. (Munchmeyer, 61) También, los chilenos comenzaban a creer que el ministro de los EE.UU. en Chile, Patrick Egan, pudiera deliberadamente estar retrasando la investigación. (Goldberg, 67) La opinión pública estadounidense continúo deteriorándose en relación a la amabilidad de Chile cuando los norteamericanos oyeron del tratamiento de otro marinero estadounidense en la policía chilena.

Un marinero, Patrick Shields, del buque comercial Keweenaw fue detenido por la policía la noche de 24 octubre con cargos sobre embriaguez. (Goldberg, 71) La próxima mañana, una vez que fue liberado, Shields fue detenido otra vez. Shields no fue liberado hasta el 2 de noviembre. (Goldberg, 72) Durante este tiempo, Shields se puso a trabajar barriendo las calles y también limpiando los establos policiales y otros quehaceres, día y noche. Shields fue golpeado brutalmente si él hacia una pausa. Según el testimonio de Shields, él perdió “casi un cuarto de galón de sangre y sangrado por la nariz y las orejas” debido a los golpes. (Goldberg, 72) Cuando él pudo regresar a su barco, fue declarado incapaz para servicio por muchas semanas. El ministro de EE.UU. en Chile investigó su tratamiento y descubrió que las autoridades chilenas no le dejaban ver a un juez y que su nombre no fue registrado en los registros oficiales de la policía. (Goldberg, 72-3) El tratamiento de Shields convenció a la opinión publica de los EE.UU. que los ciudadanos americanos no estaban seguros en Chile. “El caso de Shields reforzado la aserción que la policía chilena uso fuerza excesiva hacia los marineros estadounidenses y carecía de todos instintos humanitarios.” (Goldberg, 74)

La carta de Matta y otros disparates diplomáticos casi empujaron a los Estados Unidos y Chile a luchar. El Presidente de los E.E.U.U., Benjamín Harrison, consideró la carta de Matta “como insulto personal” y en diciembre pidió el gobierno chileno retirar oficialmente la carta. (Goldberg, 101) Pero el gobierno chileno también cometió otro disparate diplomático. El gobierno chileno pidió al gobierno estadounidense retirar a Patrick Egan y dijo que Egan era persona non grata. Esta petición enfureció a Harrison aún más. Él decidió el 21 de enero enviar una carta al gobierno chileno diciendo que “si las partes ofensivas del envío de 11 diciembre no son retiradas inmediatamente, y una disculpa adecuada no es ofrecida, con la misma publicidad que tenían las expresiones ofensivas, no tendrá ninguna apertura a él excepto terminar relaciones diplomáticos con el gobierno de Chile.” (Goldberg, 103) La crisis se acercó aún más a la guerra cuando los chilenos no respondieron inmediatamente. Cuando él no había recibido una respuesta, Harrison fue al Congreso estadounidense. Harrison pronunció un discurso que casi pidió para una declaración de guerra. “El mensaje de 25 enero pasó todo el embrollo Baltimore a la sola organización con el poder de declarar guerra, con la sugestión que tomó ‘tal acción como se puede juzgar como apropiada.’” (Goldberg, 108) Por los disparates de Chile, los EE.UU. y Chile casi fueron a la guerra.

En diciembre de 1891, la Armada de los EE.UU. empezaba a planear operaciones contra los chilenos. También, Argentina avisó a los Estados Unidos que fuerzas estadounidenses podían cruzar territorio argentino y que también Argentina podía proporcionar a la armada estadounidense carbón. Por esa ayuda, Argentina quería ganar territorio en el sur de Chile. (Goldberg, 120) La situación era muy grave para Chile. Pero, para evitar la guerra, el ministro de asuntos exteriores decidió acceder a los condiciones de los Estados Unidos. “En realidad, la resolución del caso no tenía nada del drama de su despliegue.” (Goldberg, 124) Chile acordó pagar reparaciones a las familias de los marineros. También, Chile renuncio la carta ofensiva de Matta. Finalmente, Chile decidió permitir que Egan se quedara en Chile hasta que Chile pudiera exhibir suficiente causa para su expulsión. (Goldberg, 128)

El caso Baltimore parece muy infantil para observadores modernos. Que dos naciones pueden ir tan cerca de la guerra por razones que consideramos tan insignificantes es casi inconcebible en la modernidad. Goldberg caracteriza el caso como un intento para flexionar el poder de los Estados Unidos, para demonstrar su poder a Europa y a su gente. Para Goldberg, el caso también significa que los Estados Unidos todavía no se había colocado en su posición como poder mundial. “Desde la diplomacia de los EE.UU. antes de 1898 frecuentemente finjo el hecho que estatus como poder mundial había estado indisputable para años, el gobierno estadounidense a menudo exageró la necesidad para acción enérgica o poderosa.” (Goldberg, 143) Según Goldberg, “una transformación en la política exterior estadounidense no llegara hasta que el ascenso de EE.UU. ha sido reconocido por su población propio.” (Goldberg, 143) Pero esta interpretación no es buena. Puede ver en otro incidente que el comportamiento de los EE.UU. no fue debido a que los EE.UU. no reconocia su nueva estatura. En el incidente Water Witch, un embrollo entre los EE.UU. y Paraguay que también casi terminó en una guerra, tenía muchos elementos en común con el caso Baltimore.

The attack on the USS Water Witch.

The attack on the USS Water Witch.

El incidente Water Witch empezó bastante bien, sin animosidad entre los estadounidenses y paraguayos. El buque Water Witch bajo el mando del teniente Thomas Page salió de los Estados Unidos con la misión de explorar y trazar un mapa del Río de la Plata y sus tributarios en febrero 1853. El Water Witch entró a la región del Rio de la Plata en el Rio Paraguay en Brasil y continuó hasta el rio Paraná en la frontera con Argentina. El presidente de Argentina, Justo José Urquiza, quien el año anterior había abierto todos los ríos de Argentina a todos, ordenó a todas las provincias argentinas que ayudaran al Water Witch con cualquiera de sus necesidades. (McKanna, 9-10) El buque exploró el Paraná hasta la frontera de Paraguay y preguntó del presidente Paraguayo, Carlos Antonio López, permiso para proceder a Asunción. El presidente trató el Water Witch y su capitán muy bien y le dio permiso para explorar el rio Paraguay hasta Bahía Negra, muy cerca de la frontera con Brasil y Bolivia. (McKanna, 10) López no les dio permiso para continuar hasta Brasil porque él temió que si sentaba precedente de navegación abierta del rio Paraguay, Brasil podía explotar esto para dominar a Paraguay. Pero la decisión de López prohibió a los brasileños explorar y desarrollar su propio territorio en Mato Grosso. (Love, 240) Page, ignorando el orden de López, exploró hasta Corumbá, Brasil. (McKenna, 11) Sorprendentemente, esta violación de los deseos de López no tenía consecuencias serias para las relaciones entre los Estados Unidos y Paraguay. Lo que realmente complicó las relaciones diplomáticas fueron las acciones del cónsul estadounidense, Edward Hopkins.

En agosto de 1854, el hermano de Hopkins era atacado por un soldado Paraguayo. Hopkins estaba furioso y fue a López, “en botas de montar y espuelas, llevando su sombrero y con un látigo de mano, gesticulando violentamente y exigiendo satisfacción.” (McKanna, 12) López castigó al soldado pero no dio a Hopkins una disculpa oficial. Esta decisión de López enfureció a Hopkins y causó una ruptura entre los dos. López expulsó Hopkins de Paraguay. Hopkins, temiendo por su vida, pido de Page protección. (Love, 241) De esa manera, Page se enredó en el conflicto.

El conflicto entre López y Hopkins también se extendió en el tratamiento de López a la compañía que Hopkins representó. López, con el pretexto de que la fábrica de la compañía fuera construida en tierra obtuvo ilegalmente, tomó la tierra y la propiedad de la compañía. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 71) Pero eso solo fue una excusa porque la tierra había sido adquirida legalmente completamente, la causa verdadera de la confiscación de López era el conflicto con Hopkins y la rentabilidad de la propiedad de la compañía. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 71) López no permitió a Hopkins ni a los representantes de la compañía salir de Paraguay, Hopkins por la falta de pago de sus deudas al gobierno de Paraguay, y los representantes porque ellos rechazaron dar a López la escritura de su fábrica. Page por lo tanto decidió asegurarlos y llevarlos de Asunción bajo la protección de sus cañones el 29 de septiembre. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 71 y McKanna, 12) Page con esta acción, enfureció y temió a López. Cuando Page salió Asunción, López cerró sus ríos a la navegación de todos extranjeros. Más tarde en octubre, Page recibió la autoridad de actuar como negociador de navegación entre Paraguay y los EE.UU y envió unos de sus oficiales entregar la carta oficial al ministro de relaciones exteriores paraguayo. El ministro no la aceptó, rechazando aceptar nada más que una copia en español. Page, faltando un traductor con suficiente conocimiento de español, y sabiendo que el gobierno paraguayo si tenía traductores, estaba furioso. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 45) Page pidió al secretario del Estado permiso regresar a Asunción con el Water Witch y otro buque para asegurar la aquiescencia de López. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 46) El secretario, por supuesto, no aprobó su petición.

Cuatro meses después, en febrero, Page envió el Water Witch bajo el mando de unos de sus tenientes, William Jeffers, a explorar el rio Paraná en la frontera de Paraguay y Argentina. En el curso de sus exploraciones, el buque pasó cerca de un fuerte paraguayo. Los paraguayos intentaron parar al Water Witch, por la orden de López que cerro los ríos paraguayos a todos, pero porque el Paraná es en la frontera de Argentina y Paraguay y el buque si tenía permiso para explorar de Argentina, Jeffers no prestó mucha atención a los paraguayos. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 50) El fuerte disparó dos tiros en blanco, pero su tiro de advertencia, por falta de una puntería mala, golpeó el timonel y le mató. El Water Witch trató de devolver el fuego, pero no pudo porque no tenía tantos cañones ni suficiente espacio en el canal para maniobrar sin peligro para combatir el fuerte. (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 50-1) Jeffers regresó a Page quien preguntó al capitán de otro escuadrón de buques americanos para regresar a Paraguay y destruir el fuerte. (McKanna, 15) Este otro capitán rechazó sin permiso del secretario de la Armada para una acción punitiva. (Love, 242) Al principio, los Estados Unidos no prestó tanta atención al incidente Water Witch. El congreso estadounidense investigó el incidente y decidió que la culpa era de Paraguay y que el Presidente Pierce “está autorizado…a usar cualquier fuerza que en juicio puede ser necesario.” (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 5) Pierce, porque tenía muchos problemas domésticos, no hizo nada. Su sucesor, James Buchanan, decidió forzar a Paraguay dar satisfacción por el ataque y envió “la expedición putativa más grande durante un tiempo de paz jamás reunida durante la edad de la vela.” (Love, 242) La expedición tenía como su misión asediar y ocupar Asunción. López, por el consejo de Urquiza, se disculpó por todo, acordó pagar compensación a Hopkins y la Armada, y abrió sus ríos a la navegación estadounidense. (Love, 243)

El incidente Water Witch es muy similar al caso Baltimore. Los dos empezaron por insultos pequeños y casi terminaron en la guerra. Aunque los incidentes aparecieron muy tontos para observadores modernos, para personas en el siglo XIX los episodios eran tan importantes que ellos estaban listos para pelear, morir y exigir reparación para el honor de la patria. Los dos incidentes no fueron a la guerra porque Chile, en el caso Baltimore, y Paraguay, en el incidente Water Witch, eran más débiles que los EE.UU. La actitud de muchos en el siglo XIX se ejemplifica en el consejo de teniente Page cuando aconsejó al secretario del Estado que “hay algunos gobiernos con quienes relaciones pacíficas y amables… pueden mantenerse solo por una exhibición de fuerza suficiente y una determinación a someterse a ninguna indignidad.” (Comisión de Relaciones Exteriores, 39) Lo que se consideró acciones aceptables para naciones durante del siglo XIX era bastante diferente de lo que se permite hoy. Por lo tanto, considerando el caso Baltimore con el incidente Water Witch en la mente, el caso Baltimore ya no aparece como una falta diplomática, sino más bien como un episodio donde la diplomática siguió reglas muy diferentes y donde que una acción que hoy se considera infantil era completamente legitima. Las leyes de la diplomática en el siglo XIX eran diferentes que hoy, si países no jugaron con respeto de estas leyes, ellos ya ha perdieron

[1] Todas las traducciones de citas son del autor.

 
Apr 15

The 19th Century Navy in South America: The Baltimore Affair and Water Witch Incident

Wednesday, April 15, 2015 9:35 AM
The USS Baltimore (Cruiser Number 3)

The USS Baltimore (Cruiser Number 3)

The United States (US) has a long history of intervention in Latin America. During the twentieth century, the US sent Marines into many countries, in a period known as the Banana Wars. Before these raids, the US fought against Spain and ended the Spanish empire in Latin America after nearly four hundred years. Usually, historians regard the Spanish-American War as the point where the US began to be a world power and an imperialist nation. However, some historians point to other events as the point where the US began to view itself as a world power. The Baltimore Affair was a diplomatic dispute between Chile and the United States during the 1890s.

Harbour of Valparaiso, Chile.

Harbour of Valparaiso, Chile.

A US ship, the USS Baltimore, while visiting the port of Valparaiso, suffered an attack against its sailors by a Chilean mob. Read the rest of this entry »