Mar 7

NHHC Director Speaks at USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors Association Reunion

Saturday, March 7, 2015 1:55 PM
USS Houston (CA30) in the San Diego Bay in Oct. 1935.

USS Houston (CA30) in the San Diego Bay in Oct. 1935.

 

This weekend members of the USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors Association and Next Generations are gathered for their 2015 reunion in Houston, Texas. In addition to conducting the business of the organization the reunion featured a dinner last night in which Naval History and Heritage Command Director Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox provided the keynote remarks updating reunion attendees on the NHHC study of the condition of Houston’s wreck as well as ongoing Navy and diplomatic efforts to prevent further unauthorized disturbance of the ship which is the final resting place of more than 700 Houston Sailors and Marines who went down with the ship.

Naval History and Heritage Command Director Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox provides the keynote remarks at the 2015 Reunion of the USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors Association & Next Generations. (Photo courtesy of Tim Joseph)

Naval History and Heritage Command Director Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox provides the keynote remarks at the 2015 Reunion of the USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors Association & Next Generations. (Photo courtesy of Tim Joseph)

One of the highlights of this weekend’s event is the 72nd Anniversary Memorial Service held Saturday at Sam Houston Park’s USS Houston Memorial, honoring those lost onboard the ship and the survivors who have since passed away.

In 2014, a Naval History and Heritage Command underwater archaeologist assisted in a survey of the wreck of USS Houston as part of the 2014 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series. U.S. Navy divers, assisted by personnel from the Indonesian navy, surveyed the World War II wreck in June. Houston was sunk during the World War II Battle of Sunda Strait Feb. 28, 1942 with the loss of more than seven hundred souls. The ship remains sovereign property of the U.S. under customary international law, and is a popular dive site.

Naval History and Heritage Command Director Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox shares a laugh with John Schwarz, Executive Director of the USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors Association and Next Generations. (Photo courtesy of Tim Joseph)

Naval History and Heritage Command Director Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox shares a laugh with John Schwarz, Executive Director of the USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors Association and Next Generations. (Photo courtesy of Tim Joseph)

The purpose of the CARAT 2014 mission was to determine the vessel’s current condition and provide real-world training to rescue and salvage divers in maneuvering around a sunken ship. The team’s interim report confirmed the site’s identity and documented conclusive evidence of a pattern of unauthorized disturbance of the wreck site. While the findings from the interim report remain intact, the final report released last summer benefits from additional archival research and more exhaustively details the condition of the wreck.

Houston, nicknamed “The Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast,” was sunk in combat during the World War II Battle of Sunda Strait in 1942. Capt. Albert H. Rooks, the ship’s commanding officer who was killed in action, posthumously received the Medal of Honor for extraordinary heroism, while USS Houston was awarded two battle stars, as well as the Presidential Unit Citation.

Naval History and Heritage Command Director Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox (second from left) enjoys dinner with reunion attendees. (Photo courtesy of Tim Joseph)

Naval History and Heritage Command Director Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox (second from left) enjoys dinner with reunion attendees. (Photo courtesy of Tim Joseph)

Naval History and Heritage Command Director Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox (second from left) enjoys dinner with reunion attendees. (Photo courtesy of Tim Joseph)

Cmdr. Andy Schroder, who represented the Royal Australian Navy at the reunion dinner, pauses for a photo with Naval History and Heritage Command Director Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox and Carter Conlin, USN retired and former Commander of the US Naval Order, Texas Commandery. (Photo courtesy of Tim Joseph)

Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox (Right) with Stephen Reilly (center) grandson of USS Houston (CA 30) Sailor John Reilly and John Schwarz (left) son of Houston Sailor Otto Schwarz (Photo courtesy of Tim Joseph)

Rear Adm. (Ret) Sam Cox (Right) with Stephen Reilly (center) grandson of USS Houston (CA 30) Sailor John Reilly and the 2015 USS Houston CA-30 Survivors Association & Next Generations scholarship winner along with John Schwarz (left) son of Houston Sailor Otto Schwarz (Photo courtesy of Tim Joseph)

The Department of the Navy’s sunken ship and aircraft wrecks represent a collection of more than 17,000 fragile, non-renewable cultural resources distributed worldwide. They often serve as war graves, safeguard state secrets, carry environmental and safety hazards such as oil and ordnance, and hold great historical value. While it is not feasible to conduct similar surveys of all sunken military craft, Navy leadership desires to ensure the final resting place of those who made the ultimate sacrifice when Houston went down remains in a respected and solemn condition.

The flag of the USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors Association and Next Generations was also displayed at the reunion. (Photo courtesy Tim Joseph)

The flag of the USS Houston (CA 30) Survivors Association and Next Generations was also displayed at the reunion. (Photo courtesy Tim Joseph)

The flag of the HMAS Perth Association was on display at the reunion. HMAS Perth, of the Royal Australian Navy was sailing with USS Houston when they were both caught and sunk by the Japanese at the Battle of Sunda Strait Feb. 28, 1942.

The flag of the HMAS Perth Association was on display at the reunion. HMAS Perth, of the Royal Australian Navy was sailing with USS Houston when they were both caught and sunk by the Japanese at the Battle of Sunda Strait Feb. 28, 1942.

 
Mar 6

The Legacy of Ships Named Enterprise

Friday, March 6, 2015 3:46 PM
RED SEA (June 21, 2011) The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits the Strait of Bab el Mandeb in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brooks B. Patton Jr./Released)

RED SEA (June 21, 2011) The aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) transits the Strait of Bab el Mandeb in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Brooks B. Patton Jr./Released)

 

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

On March 6, 1822, a 12-gun schooner named Enterprise captured four pirate vessels in the Gulf of Mexico. The event is little known, not well documented, and it was one of her last operations before sinking in the West Indies a year later. But her actions on this day stand alongside a proud history in the legacy of the Enterprise.

There have been eight U.S. Navy ships named Enterprise, creating a legacy that will carry well into the future as PCU Enterprise (CV 80) is designed, constructed and joins the fleet a decade from now.

The first Enterprise was originally a British ship named George. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65's official website.

The first Enterprise was originally a British ship named George. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65’s official website.

ENTERPRISE I (1775-77)

The first Enterprise originally belonged to the British and was named George. She cruised on Lake Champlain and supplied English posts in Canada. On May 18, 1775, Col. Benedict Arnold captured the ship, outfitted her with guns and thereafter defended American supply routes in New England from British attacks. The ship was one of many that embarked more than 1,000 troops in August that year as part of an expedition against three Canadian cities: St. Johns, Montreal and Quebec. British reinforcements caused the Americans to retreat. Regrouping in October, Arnold’s soldiers disrupted the British invasion into New York. Enterprise was one of only five ships to survive the two-day battle. The following year, the British would be defeated at Saratoga, N.Y., which helped bring about a French alliance with the colonists, and with them, their powerful navy. Enterprise, however, wasn’t around for the Battle of Saratoga. The sloop had been run aground on July 7, 1777 during the evacuation of Ticonderoga and was burned to prevent its capture.

The second Enterprise was an 8-gun schooner. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65's official website.

The second Enterprise was an 8-gun schooner. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65’s official website.

ENTERPRISE II (1776-77)

The second Enterprise, a schooner, was a successful letter-of-marque before she was purchased Dec. 20, 1776 for the Continental Navy. Commanded by Capt. Joseph Campbell, Enterprise operated principally in Chesapeake Bay. She convoyed transports, carried out reconnaissance, and guarded the shores against foraging raids by the British. Only meager records of her service have been found; they indicate she was apparently returned to the Maryland Council of Safety before the end of February 1777.

 

USS Enterprise, circa 1799, a 12-gun schooner shown capturing a Tripolitan corsair in 1801. Drawing by N. Hoff. National Archives and Records Administration

USS Enterprise, circa 1799, a 12-gun schooner shown capturing a Tripolitan corsair in 1801. Drawing by N. Hoff. National Archives and Records Administration

ENTERPRISE III (1799-1823)

The third Enterprise was the schooner used to capture the pirate ships during the Barbary Wars. At her time of service, anti-piracy operations were a major part of the Navy’s mission. American shipping vessels were frequently attacked in the Caribbean, and the Navy was tasked with fighting them. It was her commanding officer, Lt. Stephen Decatur Jr., who pulled off the daring expedition to burn the frigate Philadelphia in the harbor of Tripoli in 1804. She would be refitted as a brig during the War of 1812. On Sept. 5, 1813, Enterprise chased down the British brig Boxer in a close-combat battle that took the lives of both ships’ commanding officers, Lt. William Burrows and Capt. Samuel Blyth. From 1815 to 1823, Enterprise suppressed smugglers, pirates and slavers until July 9, 1823, the ship became stranded and broke up on Little Curacao Island in the West Indies, without any loss of her crew.

 

The fourth Enterprise was a 10-gun schooner. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65's official website.

The fourth Enterprise was a 10-gun schooner. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65’s official website.

ENTERPRISE IV (1831-1844)

The fourth Enterprise was a schooner built by the New York Navy Yard where it launched on Oct. 26, 1831. Its original complement was nine officers and 63 men and, for most of its life, it protected U.S. shipping around the world. After spending time guarding American interests near Brazil, the schooner spent time in the Far East (Africa, India and East Indies). She was back cruising South America until March 1839 when she left Valparaiso, Chile, to round the Horn, make a port call at Rio de Janeiro, and then head north to Philadelphia, where she was inactivated on July 12. Recommissioned a few months later, Enterprise sailed from New York back to South America on March 16, 1840. After four years, she returned to the Boston Navy Yard, decommissioned June 24, 1844, and sold four months later.

 

USS Enterprise off New York City during the early 1890s. NHHC photo

USS Enterprise off New York City during the early 1890s. NHHC photo

ENTERPRISE V (1877-1909)

The fifth Enterprise was a bark-rigged screw sloop-of-war. She was built at the Portsmouth Naval Yard in Maine by John W. Griffith, launched June 13, 1874, and commissioned March 16, 1877. Decommissioned and recommissioned several times, she primarily surveyed oceans, littoral areas, and river founts around the world, including the Amazon and Madeira Rivers. When not on hydrographic survey cruises, she spent time sailing the waters of Europe, the Mediterranean and east coast of Africa. From 1891 to 1892 Enterprise was the platform on which cadets at the Naval Academy trained and practiced. Then she was lent to the Commonwealth of Massachusetts for duty as a maritime schoolship for 17 years. Returned to the Navy on May 4, 1909, Enterprise was sold five months later.

 

The sixth Enterprise was a 66-foot motor patrol craft purchased by the Navy on Dec. 6, 1916. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65's official website.

The sixth Enterprise was a 66-foot motor patrol craft purchased by the Navy on Dec. 6, 1916. Photo courtesy of USS Enterprise CVN 65’s official website.

ENTERPRISE VI (1916-19)

The sixth Enterprise (No. 790), a 66-foot motorboat, was purchased by the Navy on Dec. 6, 1916. Placed with the 2nd Naval District on Sept. 25, 1917, the noncommissioned motorboat performed harbor tug duties at Newport, R.I. before going to New Bedford, Mass., Dec. 11, 1917. The motorboat was transferred to the Bureau of Fisheries Aug. 2, 1919.

 

USS Enterprise (C 6), was the most decorated ship in U.S. Navy history when she was decommissioned in 1946.

USS Enterprise (C 6), was the most decorated ship in U.S. Navy history when she was decommissioned in 1946.

ENTERPRISE VII (1938-1947)

Once again a proper warship, this time a Yorktown-class carrier, Enterprise (CV 6) earned her nickname—Big E. In World War II, she earned 20 battle stars, the most for any U.S. warship in World War II, for the crucial roles she played in numerous battles, including Midway, Guadalcanal, Leyte Gulf, and the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo. During the Battle of Guadalcanal, Enterprise took three direct hits, killing 74 and wounding 95 crew members. It was the Enterprise that took on the Hornet’s aircraft after that carrier was abandoned during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Island Oct. 26, 1942.

U.S. Navy ships firing at attacking Japanese carrier aircraft during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Oct. 26, 1942. USS Enterprise (CV-6) is at left, with at least two enemy planes visible overhead. In the right center is USS South Dakota, firing her starboard 5/38 secondary battery, as marked by the bright flash amidships. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-20989

U.S. Navy ships firing at attacking Japanese carrier aircraft during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Oct. 26, 1942. USS Enterprise (CV-6) is at left, with at least two enemy planes visible overhead. In the right center is USS South Dakota, firing her starboard 5/38 secondary battery, as marked by the bright flash amidships. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.
Catalog #: 80-G-20989

By the end of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal on Nov. 15, Enterprise had shared in sinking 16 ships and damaging eight more. After an overhaul for much of 1943, Enterprise was back in the fight when, on Nov. 26, 1943, the Big E introduced carrier-based night fighter operations in the Pacific. The Big E suffered the last of her damage on May 14, 1945, after a kamikaze plane struck the ship near her forward elevator, killing 14 and wounding 34 men. The most decorated ship in U.S. naval history entered the New York Naval Shipyard on Jan. 18, 1946 for inactivation and was decommissioned Feb. 17, 1947. She was sold July 1, 1958.

 

USS Enterprise (CVN-65) Underway, probably in the 1990s. This photograph was received in 1998. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

USS Enterprise (CVN-65) Underway, probably in the 1990s. This photograph was received in 1998. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

ENTERPRISE VIII (1961-2012)

In 1954, Congress authorized the construction of the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, the eighth U.S. ship to bear the name Enterprise. The giant ship was to be powered by eight nuclear reactors, two for each of its four propeller shafts. This was a daring undertaking, for never before had two nuclear reactors ever been harnessed together. As such, when the engineers first started planning the ship’s propulsion system, they were uncertain how it would work, or even if it would work according to their theories. Three years and nine months after construction began, Enterprise (CVN 65) was ready to present to the world as “The First, The Finest” super carrier, and the construction was proven capable. Her long career, consisting of 25 deployments and 51 years of service to the United States, has been well documented and this space can’t begin to list her accomplishments, but those can be found here at the Naval History and Heritage Command’s website and in libraries across the country. The ship was inactivated Dec. 1, 2012; she is not expected to be decommissioned until 2016 following four years of nuclear defueling, dismantlement and recycling.

For more than two centuries, Enterprise Sailors have set the standard for excellence aboard the eight ships to proudly bear her name and will continue to do so upon the future commissioning of PCU Enterprise (CVN 80), the third Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier that is scheduled to be delivered to the fleet between 2025-27.

 
Mar 4

Constitution: The History of Maintaining America’s Ship of State

Wednesday, March 4, 2015 9:32 AM
Briton Michael Haywood’s romantic "Eagle of the sea takes wing" (2005) seeks to portray Constitution when first she went to sea in July 1798. This is part of the Library of Congress' online historical collection on USS Constitution

Briton Michael Haywood’s romantic “Eagle of the sea takes wing” (2005) seeks to portray Constitution when first she went to sea in July 1798. This is part of the Library of Congress’ online historical collection on USS Constitution

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship afloat, is as much a symbol of early America as the Betsy Ross flag and the bald eagle. Launched in 1797, the wooden-hulled sailing frigate played vital roles in a young nation’s fledging naval fleet – from the Quasi War with France, the Barbary Wars with pirates, to the War of 1812.

As the Navy changed from wood to steel ships, from sail to steam-driven, Constitution’s greatest foe would be the hardest to defeat: Deterioration from age. By 1916, the once-proud fighting frigate was taking on up to 25 inches of water a week at her dock in Boston. A $100,000 patch nearly 10 years before had simply bandaged a bigger problem. By 1924, Old Ironsides required daily pumping just to stay afloat. Without $400,000 in repairs, the frigate was doomed.

Rather than requesting the funding from Congress, however, Secretary of the Navy Curtis D. Wilbur decided to get the nation involved. Congress was more than happy to authorize the Navy to collect funds for the ship, passing an omnibus bill on this date (March 4), 1925. Two days later, as the 128-year-old Constitution listed at her dock, Wilbur appointed Rear Adm. Louis de Steiguer to lead the National Save Old Ironsides Campaign committee.

Wilbur had hoped America’s 16 million school children would contribute three cents each or less, and that idea fell a bit flat, bringing in $154,000. The sale of reproductive prints of the ship brought in another $292,000. Then came the sale of souvenir items off the frigate, items like wood, gavel sets, bookends, bolts, cigarette boxes, plaques and anchors.

When Constitution entered Dry Dock #1 in the Charlestown Navy Yard it was only her second time into this particular dock. She has the distinction, however, of being the first vessel to ever enter Dry Dock #1, on June 24, 1833, in the presence of Vice President Martin Van Buren and with Commodore Isaac Hull directing the docking from the ship’s quarter deck. This docking in June, 1927, marked the beginning of a 4-year, nearly $1 million restoration of the ship.

When Constitution entered Dry Dock #1 in the Charlestown Navy Yard it was only her second time into this particular dock. She has the distinction, however, of being the first vessel to ever enter Dry Dock #1, on June 24, 1833, in the presence of Vice President Martin Van Buren and with Commodore Isaac Hull directing the docking from the ship’s quarter deck. This docking in June, 1927, marked the beginning of a 4-year, nearly $1 million restoration of the ship.

After five years, the fundraising campaign had raised $617,000. Constitution went into drydock on June 16, 1927. But once repairs began, an additional $300,000 in funding from Congress was required.

To thank the citizens of the U.S. who had donated money and materials to the 1927-1931 restoration, the U.S. Navy sent Constitution on a "National Cruise" – a 3-year, 3-coast trip where she visited 76 ports for 90 stops and hosted over 4.6 million men, women, and children. This photograph shows Constitution being tugged into Corpus Christie, Texas, Feb.14, 1932.

To thank the citizens of the U.S. who had donated money and materials to the 1927-1931 restoration, the U.S. Navy sent Constitution on a “National Cruise” – a 3-year, 3-coast trip where she visited 76 ports for 90 stops and hosted over 4.6 million men, women, and children. This photograph shows Constitution being tugged into Corpus Christie, Texas, Feb.14, 1932.

This was not the first time USS Constitution would have school children sending pennies to keep the national treasure afloat. And it may not be the last.

Today, the frigate is preparing to once again go into drydock for another restoration. At 217 years old, about 12 percent of Constitution’s hull and keel are wood that was chopped down sometime in 1794. For the upcoming drydocking, 35 white oak trees were harvested at Naval Support Activity Crane in Indiana to support the ship’s repair.

“There will be no historic restoration at this time. We are checking the structural integrity of the ship and will try to do repairs in as historically accurate a manner as can be done,” explained Elizabeth Freese, the special assistant for the Historic Ship and Aircraft Maintenance within the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Constitution has undergone many repairs and restorations over her 200-plus years in service. The effort is not to bring Constitution back to her 1797 origins, but to her glory days during the War of 1812.

Even some of the ship’s repairs have historical significance. By 1803, while laid up in Boston, it was discovered that the English copper sheeting protecting the frigate’s hull had weakened during the time the ship sailed against the French during the Quasi War.

With the need to have warships protecting American merchant vessels from Barbary pirates in the Mediterranean, the old copper was removed and replaced with 3,668 pounds of copper sheeting from a copper mill owned by Paul Revere. (Yes, that Paul Revere, not the lead singer from the 60’s American rock band). It took 14 days to complete the task.

As soon as Constitution could set sail, she was tapped as the flagship of the third Mediterranean squadron during the Barbary Wars. Both the Tripoli and Tunis peace accords would be signed in the captain’s cabin on Constitution during 1805.

After a couple more overhauls between 1807-1811, Constitution was refitted at the Washington Navy Yard as tensions heated up between Great Britain and the United States. It was during this conflict the frigate would gain her greatest fame with an undefeated record against five British ships.

USS Constitution meeting with the Guerriere, 1812, 1812 -National Archives and Records Administration.

USS Constitution meeting with the Guerriere, 1812, 1812 -National Archives and Records Administration.

Her famous, first nickname came as Constitution and HMS Guerriere traded shots on Aug. 19, 1812. As British shot bounced off the ship’s hull, a sailor shouted: “Huzzah! Her sides are made of iron!” And thus the moniker, Old Ironsides, was born during the heat of battle.

While her sides weren’t made of iron, happily American live oak is stronger than English white oak and Constitution’s designer, Joshua Humphreys (the namesake of the newly-renovated NAVSEA building at the Washington Navy Yard), placed the ribs of the frigate four inches apart rather than eight as English shipbuilders had done. The frigate’s narrow but longer hull and nearly an acre of sail enabled her to outmaneuver larger ships.

By the end of 32 months, the wooden-hulled frigate was the darling of the War of 1812, and the only ship to have all of her captains from that war decorated by Congress: Capt. Isaac Hull, Commodore William Bainbridge and Capt. Charles Stewart

Just 15 years later, however, outdated and obsolete, Constitution loitered in the Boston Navy Yard when a survey was conducted to see what it would cost to bring the ships there into commission. A newspaper misunderstood the report and reported the grand old frigate would be scrapped. And that inspired a law student to pen a farewell to “Old Ironsides.”

Written by then-unknown poet Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., the poem was reprinted coast to coast by newspapers, garnering public support for the ship. It was through his words Constitution received her second nickname from the last line of the second stanza: The Eagle of the Sea. The frigate received much-needed funding for repairs between 1833-34, and Holmes became one of America’s beloved poets.

Another serendipitous moment in Constitution’s life would come a generation later when the ship was brought back to the Boston Navy Yard just prior to her 100th birthday, thanks to the efforts of a Massachusetts congressman named John F. Fitzgerald… the grandfather of a future president who bore his name.

Constitution became a "receiving ship" in 1882 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, when a large barn was built over her top deck and offices and barracks were installed on board. A receiving ship was a place where officers and enlisted personnel would await new orders. She was returned to Boston in September, 1897, one month before her centenary, still with the barn attached; the barn would not be removed until the superficial restoration of 1906-1907.

Constitution became a “receiving ship” in 1882 at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine, when a large barn was built over her top deck and offices and barracks were installed on board. A receiving ship was a place where officers and enlisted personnel would await new orders. She was returned to Boston in September, 1897, one month before her centenary, still with the barn attached; the barn would not be removed until the superficial restoration of 1906-1907.

The ship had been out of active service with the Navy since 1881 and was again in need of repairs. The possibility – no matter how farfetched – of using the storied ship as target practice drew the ire of an Armenian immigrant, Moses H. Gulesian. He sent a telegram to Secretary of the Navy Charles Joseph Bonaparte offering $10,000 to purchase the ship.

Once the offer made the headlines in the Boston Globe Dec. 12, 1905, along with Bonaparte’s decline of the offer, Congress authorized $100,000 for repairs and designated her as a national treasure. Gulesian would later be elected president of the Old Ironsides Association.

Unfortunately, the repair work was mostly cosmetic, removing a barracks-like structure from her deck and replacing the sails, masts, spars and rigging, as well as putting in replica cannon. Despite the money, the hull continued to deteriorate, which set up the circumstances for the March 4, 1925 act of Congress to repair the mighty frigate again.

Also that same year, bronze salvaged from the ship was used to make 25 Medals of Honor given to World War I recipients.

Following the 1925 campaign to save Constitution, the frigate offered her thanks as she visited ports along with the East and West coasts.

In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a law authorizing the Navy to repair, equip and restore Constitution to her original appearance as much as possible.

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Constitution’s launch on Oct. 21, 1797, the ship sailed under her own power off the coast of Marblehead, Maine. This celebratory event, with six new sails, was the first time Constitution had sailed in 116 years.

In celebration of the 200th anniversary of Constitution’s launch on Oct. 21, 1797, the ship sailed under her own power off the coast of Marblehead, Maine, in 1997 following a four-year restoration. This celebratory event, with six new sails, was the first time Constitution had sailed under her own power in 116 years.

Another restoration in 1992 included the re-installation of diagonal cross riders which have helped significantly to reduce the ship’s hogging and led to Old Ironsides proving she was indeed, the Eagle of the Sea, by sailing out of Boston Harbor in 1997 under her own power for the first time in 116 years.

USS Constitution sets sail in Boston Harbor Aug. 29, 2014. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney/Released)

USS Constitution sets sail in Boston Harbor Aug. 29, 2014. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney/Released)

To celebrate Constitution’s 200th anniversary of her victory over HMS Guerriere, the frigate sailed again Aug. 19, 2012, under her own power for the first time since 1997. Although an underway wasn’t in the offing, the ship recently celebrated the 200th anniversary of her final ‘dual-victory’ over Royal Navy ships HMS Cyane and HMS Levant on Feb. 20, 1815 in the final days of hostilities during the War of 1812 with a ceremonial gun salute, ceremony and reception.

Although soon to be out of active service to tourists and the Boston community, the much-beloved ship will continue to remain an icon in American history. Upon her return in 2018, the mighty frigate will once again prove to be the Eagle of the Sea.

 

Old Ironsides

By Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

Aye tear her tattered ensign down

Long has it waved on high,

And many an eye has danced to see

That banner in the sky;

Beneath it rung the battle shout,

And burst the cannon’s roar;

The meteor of the ocean air

Shall sweep the clouds no more.

 

Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,

Where knelt the vanquished foe,

When winds were hurrying o’er the flood,

And waves were white below,

No more shall feel the victor’s tread,

Or know the conquered knee;

The harpies of the shore shall pluck

The eagle of the sea!

 

Oh, better that her shattered hulk

Should sink beneath the wave;

Her thunders shook the mighty deep,

And there should be her grave;

Nail to the mast her holy flag,

Set every threadbare sail,

And give her to the god of storms,

The lightning and the gale!’

 

 
Feb 28

USS Kauffman Sails on Last Journey

Saturday, February 28, 2015 8:53 AM
 The guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59) performs a high-speed turn during a seamanship training drill. Kauffman is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility in support of U.S. Southern Command and Operation MartilloJan. 24, 2015. The Navy and Coast Guard team will work to suppress illicit trafficking in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

The guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59) performs a high-speed turn during a seamanship training drill. Kauffman is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility in support of U.S. Southern Command and Operation MartilloJan. 24, 2015. The Navy and Coast Guard team will work to suppress illicit trafficking in the region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

By Cmdr. Michael Concannon, Commanding Officer, USS Kauffman (FFG 59)

Cmdr. Michael Concannon, Commanding Officer, USS Kauffman (FFG 59)

While is it too early to look forward to the end of the life of this great ship and the end of the FFG class, it is hard to ignore the last anniversary of the commissioning of Kauffman. It is my goal to keep my ship and crew focused on the task at hand; curbing the flow of illicit materials into North America. The amount of work required to achieve our mission is more than enough to keep our crew, Law Enforcement Detachment and Aviation Department busy. From weekly brief stops for fuel and logistical requirements, to the six or more hours of flight operations per day, to constant maintenance to keep us in the fight, our Sailors demonstrate the espirit de corps that would make our namesakes proud.

This ship bears the name of a father and son who dedicated their lives in service of their country, whose freedom our Sailors continue to cherish and defend as they did so selflessly many years ago. It is my goal to keep the legacy of Kauffman alive in the crew; that breathes life into the ship.

 Ens. Karl Ankersen, electrical officer aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59), takes the ship's bearing while on watch. Kauffman is underway in support of Operation Martillo, a joint operation with the U.S. Coast Guard and partner nations within the 4th Fleet area of responsibility Feb. 4, 2015. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

Ens. Karl Ankersen, electrical officer aboard the guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59), takes the ship’s bearing while on watch. Kauffman is underway in support of Operation Martillo, a joint operation with the U.S. Coast Guard and partner nations within the 4th Fleet area of responsibility Feb. 4, 2015. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shane A. Jackson/Released)

It is an incredible honor to be here now, underway onboard the last in a long line of accomplished warships, sharing in the string of “lasts” that we are honored to experience, including today. I will refrain from looking back in retrospect on all that this ship and this class of ship has achieved. Our mission is not done and our watch is not over, and the lions share of the work that is left will be shouldered by my remarkable crew. Instead of nostalgia, I would like to give you some insight on what these great Perry-class Sailors, who view themselves like the Destroyer-men of old, are doing to defend our freedom and to further the strategic goals of this great nation.

This mission is one that will produce tangible results that can be seen by both the crew and the American public at once. More than 80 percent of cocaine starts its journey out of South America into Central America, through the very waters we are patrolling, eventually making its way into North American markets. Our Navy and Coast Guard team are working hard to hunt down these illicit traffickers, using all assets available, and confiscate their illicit cargo, using the law enforcement capabilities of our USCG Detachment to bring them to justice. It is not easy work, and it requires an extraordinary amount of patience and constant vigilance by the entire crew.

A port bow view of the guided missile frigate USS KAUFFMAN (FFG 59) underway during sea trials Jan. 1, 1987.

A port bow view of the guided missile frigate USS KAUFFMAN (FFG 59) underway during sea trials Jan. 1, 1987.

This last mission is a fitting one for the type of Sailors that FFG’s have always bred. It is an around the clock mission, where most of our work is done in the middle of the night after a full days work. It requires a “jack of all trades” type of Sailor, one that can shift from administrative duties to manning a boat team ready to board and search a ship at a moments notice. These Sailors take an unequaled amount of pride in their work, and each day challenge one another to be their very best.

I hope that this blog helps to remind Americans of what their men and women who have volunteered to wear the cloth of our nation are doing to keep the streets of America a little safer and the futures of its citizens a little brighter. For the thousands and thousands of prior FFG-7 class Sailors, I hope this brings back fond memories of your service on these warships, and that you feel the pride we do to have served our nation on this class of ship. This commissioning anniversary is important for us on Kauffman as it represents the celebration of the birth of a warship; its significance is not lost on me. However, my focus right now is exactly where it needs to be; getting this ship and its crew through this deployment successfully. Please follow along with us on our last journey, and continue to support this last crew to join the fraternity of tin-can Sailors.

Family members watch as the guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59) departs Naval Station Norfolk for its final deployment. Kauffman will operate in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility and support U.S. Southern Command. Kauffman’s deployment also marks the last scheduled deployment by any Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate and, in September, the ship will be the last operationally-active frigate to decommission. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Laura Hoover/Released)

Family members watch as the guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59) departs Naval Station Norfolk for its final deployment. Kauffman will operate in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of responsibility and support U.S. Southern Command. Kauffman’s deployment also marks the last scheduled deployment by any Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate and, in September, the ship will be the last operationally-active frigate to decommission. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Laura Hoover/Released)

 
Feb 26

‘Enemy Forces Engaged,’ USS Houston Fought Insurmountable Odds

Thursday, February 26, 2015 4:44 PM
19-N-13455: USS Houston (CA 30), starboard view. Undated and unknown location. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)

19-N-13455: USS Houston (CA 30), starboard view. Undated and unknown location. (Photo courtesy of the National Archives)

By Capt. R. Mark Stacpoole, U.S. Navy, American Legation, U.S. Naval Attaché, Jakarta, Indonesia

I ask you to spend a minute this weekend in remembrance of the 1,082 brave men of the heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30). It was in the early hours of March 1st, 73 years ago, that she sailed for the final time into the teeth of enemy fire. While heading for the Sunda Strait, and in concert with the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth, she ran into the main Japanese invasion force then landing on the island of Java. This force consisted, in its entirety, of one light carrier, one seaplane carrier, five cruisers, 12 destroyers, a mine-layer and 58 troopships.

Low on fuel and with her after turret out of action, this as a result of earlier damage sustained at the Battle of Makassar Strait, Houston, along with Perth, entered the fray. The last message anyone would ever hear from these ships was a radio transmission sent by Houston; the message read “Enemy forces engaged.”

Perth went down first, fighting to the end, but even the heroism of her crew could not overcome four torpedo strikes and untold hits by enemy cannon. When Perth succumbed, 353 men went down with her including her commanding officer, Capt. Hector Waller.

Battle of Sunda Strait, 28 February – 1 March 1942. Painting by John Hamilton depicting USS Houston (CA 30) in her final action with Japanese forces. Courtesy of the US Navy Memorial Foundation. Painting from the John Hamilton collection. (Courtesy of NHHC Art Gallery)

Battle of Sunda Strait, 28 February – 1 March 1942. Painting by John Hamilton depicting USS Houston (CA 30) in her final action with Japanese forces. Courtesy of the US Navy Memorial Foundation. Painting from the John Hamilton collection. (Courtesy of NHHC Art Gallery)

Houston was now left alone, surrounded by enemy ships and aircraft. In quick succession she was hit by shell and torpedo but continued to fight on. Some time after 01:30, having been hit scores of times, faced with extensive flooding below decks, out of ammunition for her main guns, and with fires raging out of control, Capt. Albert Rooks, the commanding officer, gave the order to abandon ship. Only minutes later he was killed by an exploding Japanese shell.

Houston was bathed in the glare of Japanese searchlights, still under heavy fire and settling by the bow when her surviving crew gave her to the sea. As she began her final plunge one survivor wrote that “it seemed as a sudden breeze picked up the Stars and Stripes, still firmly blocked on the mainmast, and waved them in one last defiant gesture.” Other survivors saw red tracer fire still spitting out of a machine gun platform as one lone Marine, Gunnery Sgt. Walter Standish, true to the traditions of the Corps continued firing until the sea took him.

Some 675 Sailors and Marines died with Houston. Most of these men were killed during her final battle, were taken down with the ship or died when the pitiless tide washed them into the vast Indian Ocean but others were machine gunned as they swam helpless in the water.

The 366 survivors were taken into captivity, but their ordeal was far from over. Many would end up in POW camps in Burma, where they were forced, under inhuman conditions, to construct the infamous Burma Railway. Of this handful of survivors a further 76 died of sickness, abuse, torture, hunger and neglect. At war’s end in 1945 only 290 men remained, many broken in body but not in spirit, to return to the United States. Think of them, for they paid the full price in defense of our freedoms.

As one of the survivors later wrote —“Well Done , Well Done!”

JAVA SEA (Oct. 14, 2014 ) Naval officers from Australia, Indonesia and the United States participate in a wreath-laying ceremony aboard the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) in honor of the crews of the U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30) and the Royal Australian Navy light cruiser HMAS Perth (D29). Both ships were sunk during World War II by Imperial Japanese forces within Indonesian waters during the battle of Sunda Strait in February 1942. Frank Cable, forward deployed to the island of Guam, conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet areas of responsibility and is on a scheduled underway. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jon Erickson/Released)

Capt. R. Mark Stacpoole (center) along with other Naval officers from Australia, Indonesia and the United States participate in a wreath-laying ceremony aboard the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40) in honor of the crews of the U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS Houston (CA 30) and the Royal Australian Navy light cruiser HMAS Perth (D29). Both ships were sunk during World War II by Imperial Japanese forces within Indonesian waters during the battle of Sunda Strait in February 1942. Frank Cable, forward deployed to the island of Guam, conducts maintenance and support of submarines and surface vessels deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet areas of responsibility and is on a scheduled underway. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jon Erickson/Released)

 

 
Feb 22

Victory During Peacetime: Partnerships Mattered in 1909 as the Great White Fleet Returns Home

Sunday, February 22, 2015 8:00 AM
Homecoming of the “Great White Fleet”, Hampton Roads, Va., Feb. 22, 1909. Ships and craft welcome the fleet upon its arrival in Hampton Roads.

Homecoming of the “Great White Fleet”, Hampton Roads, Va., Feb. 22, 1909. Ships and craft welcome the fleet upon its arrival in Hampton Roads.

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

It was a rainy day on Feb. 22, 1909 when 16 battleships of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet returned home to Hampton Roads, Va. completing an exhausting 26-month, 43,000 mile circumnavigation of the globe. For the 14,000 Sailors and Marines who were part of this epic voyage, the mood was nothing like the dreary and overcast skies.

President Theodore Roosevelt (on the 12-inch (30 cm) gun turret at right) addresses officers and crewmen on USS Connecticut, in Hampton Roads, Va., upon her return from the Fleet's cruise around the world, Feb. 22, 1909.

President Theodore Roosevelt (on the 12-inch (30 cm) gun turret at right) addresses officers and crewmen on USS Connecticut, in Hampton Roads, Va., upon her return from the Fleet’s cruise around the world, Feb. 22, 1909.

The four squadrons of warships, nicknamed the “Great White Fleet” because of their white hulls, returned to the United States victorious, even though no war or battle had taken place. The journey included 20 port calls on six continents and it is widely considered one of the greatest peacetime achievements of the U.S. Navy. President Theodore Roosevelt declared the cruise was “the most important service that I rendered for peace.”

This round-the world-voyage had two distinct purposes: First and foremost, the ships had to be tested to see if they were mechanically sound and ready to operate in distant parts of the globe. Second, it was an opportunity to demonstrate America’s naval prowess to the rest of the world and to energize and inspire Americans back home.

The success of the odyssey satiated the country’s desire to be recognized as a world power, with a fleet that proved the United States was capable of projecting its influence anywhere in the world.

Another happy side effect was enhanced relations and strengthened partnerships with the countries the fleet visited including Trinidad, Brazil, Chile, Peru, Mexico, Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, The Philippine Islands, Japan, China, Ceylon, Egypt, and Gibraltar.

The relationships with other countries visited were improved or initially established in a positive way. Diplomatic ties with Japan were arguably the most improved because America’s increasingly tense relationship with the Rising Sun Empire got an overhaul, one of the objectives for President Roosevelt and his administration. The visit to Japan by the fleet provided the main thrust behind the Root-Takahira agreement that went into effect shortly after the fleet’s return.

According to this treaty, the U.S. and Japan agreed to maintain the status quo in the Pacific and to respect each other’s possessions there. Additionally, both countries agreed to respect the “Open Door” policy in China and the independence and cohesive integrity of that country.

On the technical side, the Navy was able to test the physical and tactical systems of these warships and see what areas needed improvement after 14 months at sea. Roosevelt stated “I want all failures, blunders and shortcomings to be made apparent in time of peace and not war.”

There were no significant breakdowns on the cruise, but it brought to light that technical changes were needed concerning the ships’ hull design and gunnery arrangement. Shipboard habitability wasn’t adequate and the ventilation systems had to be improved. During rough seas, water would seep into the ships’ hulls and could potentially cause the ship to list, or even worse, sink.

One of the most important lessons learned was a ship’s dependency upon foreign coaling stations would be a handicap. They would need to convert warships to burn oil as a primary fuel as quickly as possible, preferably during peacetime rather than at the beginning of a war.

Another recommended change was to paint the hulls “haze gray” rather than white, because it was felt Navy ships should not be in “holiday colors” going into battle.

The Great White Fleet’s voyage around the world was in a way the birth of the new United States Navy. The officers and Sailors of the fleet had been provided with thorough at-sea training and had been integral in the changes in the Navy’s approach to formation steaming, coal economy, and gunnery.

For the Sailors who participated in this historic adventure, the cruise reinforced their pride for their service and their country. They had become unforgettable ambassadors through which others judged America and her Navy, and just as impressive as the sight of that Great White Fleet, they did America proud.

 
Feb 18

The Burning of the USS Philadelphia

Wednesday, February 18, 2015 1:55 PM
Burning of the Frigate Philadelphia in the Harbor at Tripoli by Edward Moran

Burning of the Frigate Philadelphia in the Harbor at Tripoli by Edward Moran (U.S. Naval Academy Museum)

On the evening of 16th February, 1804, the U.S. frigate Philadelphia was burned in Tripoli Harbor. The frigate had been captured on October 31, 1803 when the ship ran aground on a reef a few miles outside Tripoli. The war with Tripoli had raged since 1801, the entire action of the war mostly amounting to a few naval skirmishes and a lackadaisical blockade of Tripoli. When Commodore Edward Preble arrived to take command of the war, he had hoped to up the tempo of operations against Tripoli and quickly bring the war to a successful conclusion. The capture of the Philadelphia dramatically complicated this objective. The capture meant the Philadelphia’s captain and her crew, 307 Americans, became Tripoli’s prisoners. The capture also diminished American prestige among the Barbary States. Preble decided it was necessary to destroy the captured ship. The mission would be extremely dangerous; Preble expected the destruction of the ship would only come with great loss of life. Lieutenant Stephen Decatur, Jr. volunteered to command the mission. His success restored American prestige and secured him a reputation of valor that followed him the rest of his life. The burning of the Philadelphia was a heroic episode during the Barbary Wars that made Decatur a hero and greatly increased the reputation of the Navy and the United States. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Feb 17

For USS Housatonic, an Ignoble Distinction: First Submarine “Kill”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015 4:42 PM

 

USS Housatonic was attacked and sunk by Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley on Feb. 17, 1864. It was the last act from the little submarine, which sank only 1,000 feet from Housatonic, killing all eight crew members.

USS Housatonic was attacked and sunk by Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley on Feb. 17, 1864. It was the last act from the little submarine, which sank only 1,000 feet from Housatonic, killing all eight crew members.

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Tim Comerford, Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

In a cold night off the coast of South Carolina on Feb. 17, 1864, the Sailors manning federal sloop of war USS Housatonic continued their duties, much as Sailors of today do while underway. They maintained the engine, ate chow and stood watch – though at the time it was a watch against Confederate blockade runners during the Civil War. The monotonous duties had been going on for months and the ship had not seen any action in the war since a few months before when they were part of a failed attack on Fort Sumter.

One of the Sailors on watch saw something drifting slowly through the water. In the night it would be hard to tell exactly what it was – a porpoise? A log?

By the time the Housatonic crew realized it was a vessel, operating mostly below the waterline, it was a hundred feet away, too close — too late — to bring their guns to bear. Reacting with desperation, the crew let slip the ship’s anchor chain and reversed the engine to evade the vessel.

Then the crash of something hitting the ship. Seconds later an explosion sounded, coming from Housatonic’s starboard side. Within five minutes the bulk of the 1,240 ton vessel lay beneath the waters in the shallows of South Carolina, five Sailors dead and the rest awaiting rescue in the ship’s rigging or lifeboats – victims of the first submarine attack. It was the only real success any submarine had during the American Civil War.

That successful sinking of Housatonic actually came at a greater cost to the vessel that sank her. CSS H.L. Hunley and her 8-person crew never returned to base, disappearing that night. She would not be found for more than a century.

CSS H.L. Hunley R.G. Skerrett Pen and ink drawing with wash.

CSS H.L. Hunley R.G. Skerrett Pen and ink drawing with wash.

L. Hunley was fashioned from a boiler iron and expressly built for hand-power. The vessel, named for one of her designers and financer, Horace Lawson Hunley, was designed for a 8-person crew, seven to turn the hand-cranked propeller and one to steer and direct the boat. A true submarine, it was equipped with ballast tanks to be flooded by valves and pumped dry by hand pumps. Iron weights were bolted as extra ballast to the underside of her hull. H. L. Hunley was equipped with a mercury depth gauge, steered by a compass when submerged and light was provided by a candle whose dying flame would also warn of dwindling air supply. When near the surface, two hollow pipes could be raised above the surface to admit air. Glass portholes were used to sight when operating near the surface.

The confederate submarine CSS H. L. Hunley became the first submarine to successfully attack a ship, federal sloop of war USS Housatonic, on Feb. 17, 1864 during the American Civil War. Made for a crew of nine, one to steer the vessel and eight to hand-power Hunley's propeller which let the vessel reach approximately four knots. Though Hunley sank Housatonic, the submarine was not seen until more than a century later in 1995, when it was found, and raised in 2000. The submarine has since been undergoing curation at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in Charleston, S.C.

The confederate submarine CSS H. L. Hunley became the first submarine to successfully attack a ship, federal sloop of war USS Housatonic, on Feb. 17, 1864 during the American Civil War. Made for a crew of nine, one to steer the vessel and eight to hand-power Hunley’s propeller which let the vessel reach approximately four knots. Though Hunley sank Housatonic, the submarine was not seen until more than a century later in 1995, when it was found, and raised in 2000. The submarine has since been undergoing curation at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in Charleston, S.C.

It was not surprising the vessel went down. The pioneering submarine had failed twice before, the first time killing five sailors inside and the second time killing designer Hunley and a crew of seven. By the time it attacked Housatonic, Confederate Gen. Pierre Beauregard, in charge of South Carolina’s defenses, refused to let the vessel dive anymore, insisting the crew keep it awash (at water level).

Originally the ship was supposed to drag a torpedo 200 feet behind her. She would dive beneath a target ship and come up on the other side, continuing on her way until the torpedo struck the vessel behind her. By the time of the attack on Housatonic, the vessel was outfitted it with a Spar Torpedo, much like the Confederate torpedo boat CSS David, to try and sink vessels.

The Confederate submarine was found in 1995 about 1,000 feet from the where the action took place against Housatonic, more than a century before. Five years later, the little sub was raised and transported to the Warren Lasch Conservation Center in North Charleston where it undergoes conservation to this day.

Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) acts as the administrator for the curation and ultimate disposition of the submarine.

“We are the federal manager of the submarine,” said Robert Neyland, Ph.D., director of NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB). “We have a programmatic agreement with the state of South Carolina regarding the recovery, preservation, and final exhibit of the Hunley. We are currently working on a loan agreement between the South Carolina Hunley Commission and Navy.”

Neyland has played a part in the story since the vessel was found in 1995.

“From the fall of 1998 to 2001, I was loaned under the Intergovernmental Personnel Act to the state of South Carolina to oversee the submarine’s recovery and then I continued working there part time until the excavation of the interior and recovery of the crew’s remains was complete.” Neyland said. “Naval History and Heritage Command and Underwater Archaeology has been heavily involved in the project since that time and we are now finishing up a report on the recovery of Hunley.”

And other commands have helped out too.

“Naval Research Laboratory did some materials science research related to the Hunley,” Neyland said, “and during the recovery we needed some security on site and the special boat unit detachment came down and handled security.”

The conservation center submitted a conservation plan to the U.S. Navy in 2006. After peer-review by conservationists around the world, it was finalized incorporating their suggestions.

Now other commands have come to use the Hunley as a research and teaching tool.

“Naval Surface Warfare Center-Carderock Division and Office of Naval Research has been doing a whole series of simulations and studies related to the explosion that sunk the Housatonic and what it would have done to the men inside the Hunley and the Hunley itself,” Neyland said. “They are using some of the same science and technology they use to analyze explosions and the impacts on Navy ships.”

“They can present their findings to people without the classified sticker,” added UA archaeologist Heather Brown. “They can discuss the specifics of the incident and discuss how their models work.”

Though there are many views of what might have caused the vessel to sink with all hands, the reason for its sinking may remain a mystery for some time. There’s no hurry, however, as it is scheduled to take another 8-to-10 years for the vessel to be fully conserved. Concreted materials are slowly being removed from both the inside and outside of the submarine. Now more than 70 percent of the concretion on the outside hull has been removed, leaving more delicate work to be done on the brittle cast iron pieces.

“A lot of the artifacts have been conserved, but the vessel itself is the biggest artifact – completing the deconcretion is now underway,” Neyland said. “Once that is done Clemson University conservators will be able to put it in a caustic solution to remove the corrosive chlorides and the salts. When it comes out of treatment, the solution will be removed with a series of washes and then the submarine will get a protective coating.”

Then there is a question of reassembly.

“If you put everything back together, you can’t see the interior,” Neyland said. “So do you reassemble everything, and use a camera for the inside?”

A place for its ultimate disposition is still being considered.

“The state and city of North Charleston are considering a site for a new museum – probably on land of the former Charleston Navy shipyard,” Neyland said.

He’s looking forward to a road trip sometime in April, in order to see the deconcretion in process and to meet at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center with the Clemson University Restoration Institute’s Hunley scientists and seeing NSWC and ONR scientists’ analysis of the Hunley torpedo explosion.

For more information on USS Housatonic and CSS H. L. Hunley, visit the Naval History and Heritage Command website at www.history.navy.mil, www.hunley.org and for information on the submarine restoration visit www.clemson.edu/restoration/wlcc/project/hunley.html .