Feb 23

Recognizing Enlisted Personnel: USS Osmond Ingram

Wednesday, February 23, 2011 12:01 AM

Painting by Charles B. Falls, depicting the gallant but futile effort of Gunner's Mate First Class Osmond K. Ingram, USN, to release the ship's depth charges just before she was hit by a torpedo from the German submarine U-61 on 15 October 1917. Ingram was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroism on this occasion.

February 23rd marks the anniversary of the launching of USS Osmond Ingram (DD 225). Launched in 1919, it was the first Navy ship named for an enlisted man.

Its namesake, Osmond Kelly Ingram, entered the Navy in 1903. Rising to the rank of Gunner’s Mate First Class, Ingram served on USS Cassin (DD 43) when the destroyer was attacked by a German U-boat off Ireland on 16 October 1917. While cleaning the muzzle of a gun after morning target practice, Ingram spotted a torpedo, which, in the words of Cassin’s commander, was “running on the surface, and on a direct course to strike us amidships.” Desperate evasive maneuvers seemed to have succeeded when suddenly the torpedo “porpoised,” or jumped completely out of the water, turned left, and struck Cassin near the stern above the waterline. From his vantage point, Ingram realized that the “fish” would hit close to the depth charge rack, detonating those explosives and greatly increasing damage to Cassin and the threat to its crew. With no regard for his own safety, Ingram sprinted aft to release the depth charges. Before he could jettison all the charges, however, the torpedo struck, detonating the remaining depth charges, killing Ingram, and nearly ripping the stern off Cassin.

Though heavily damaged, the American destroyer was able to fire at the U-boat once it surfaced, forcing it to abandon its attack. The crippled warship was later towed to the naval base at Queenstown, Ireland, where she was repaired and returned to service.

For his selfless action, Ingram, the first enlisted man killed in action in World War I, was awarded the Medal of Honor. The destroyer named for him continued his legacy of honored service, receiving six battle stars and a Presidential Unit citation during World War II.

With the launching of Osmond Ingram, the Navy continued and furthered a program of greater appreciation of and increased opportunities for its enlisted personnel, which continues to this day.

Feb 20

Harriers from Nassau

Sunday, February 20, 2011 12:01 AM

On 20 February 1991 the amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA4) launched four AV-8B Harriers of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 331, flight call sign ‘Magic’ just before dawn. This flight was the first combat strike by fixed-wing aircraft from the flight deck of an amphibious assault ship, and was directed at Iraqi anti-aircraft batteries and surface to air missile (SAM) sites at Az Zwar on the western end of Faylakah Island. Bad weather diverted the flight, however, and they instead hit targets near Iraq’s IJmm Qasr Naval Base on the Iraq-Kuwait border. The strike was successful, despite Iraqi opposition including at least one surface to air missile launched at the four Harriers.

The Nassau carried the 19 Harriers of Marine Attack Squadron 331, nicknamed the ‘Bumblebees’ rather than its normal mix of Harriers and helicopters in order to provide dedicated fixed-wing air support for the Marine forces floating in the Gulf as an amphibious threat during Operation Desert Storm. This use of the Nassau was not without controversy, as the relatively short range of the Harriers required the Nassau to stand in closer to shore and the danger of mines. In addition, the Nassau’s munitions storage was limited to approximately three days of strikes.

Despite these issues, the Nassau and Marine Attack Squadron 331 launched 242 combat strikes and expended 300 tons of ordnance against Iraqi targets from 20 and 27 February 1991. The strikes hit Iraqi defensive positions, anti-aircraft batteries, artillery, and armor throughout Kuwait despite bad weather and thick clouds of smoke from oil wells the Iraqis had lit on fire. On 26 February the Iraqi retreat shifted the squadron’s targets to the fleeing Iraqi columns, especially around Al-Jahrah in Kuwait.

On 27 February, while engaged in strikes against these Iraqi convoys, Captain Reginald C. Underwood was killed when his AV-8B Harrier was struck by a surface to air missile. Captain Underwood’s aircraft was the only one the ‘Bumblebees’ lost to enemy action during this first combat deployment of Harriers aboard a U.S. Navy amphibious assault ship.

Feb 19

Operation Deep Freeze

Saturday, February 19, 2011 12:01 AM

Operation Deep Freeze was a massive scientific expedition to Antarctica which began in 1955.

Source: Naval History and Heritage Command, Photographic Section, UM-26.

Feb 18

Navy TV – The Story of the Pea Island Lifesavers

Friday, February 18, 2011 6:10 PM

Watch the story of the legendary Pea Island Life Savers, an all-black lifesaving crew that accomplished one of the most daring rescues in the annals of the Life Saving Service in 1896, saving the entire crew of the three-masted schooner E.S. Newman, for which they were posthumously awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal by the Coast Guard. See it here on NavyTV.

Feb 17

Black History Month Spotlight: Civil War MOH Recipient Robert Blake

Thursday, February 17, 2011 9:01 AM
Contraband Robert Blake (Photo#: NH 103762)
Robert Blake was born into slavery in Virginia. After escaping, he enlisted in the US Navy from Port Royal, Virginia and served on USS Marblehead during the Civil War. While off Legareville, Stono River, South Carolina, on 25 December 1863, Blake bravely served the rifle gun as Marblehead engaged Confederates on John’s Island. The enemy eventually abandoned its position leaving munitions behind. For his bravery in this action, Blake was awarded the Medal of Honor.
USS Marblehead engages a Confederate Battery on John’s Island, Stono River, South Carolina, 25 December 1863 (Photo#: NH 79920)


LCDR Richard W. Meade, commanding the Marblehead, wrote in a report to Rear Admiral John Dahlgren off Legareville commending several individual sailors in the conflict. Among the four who would eventually win the Medal of Honor was Robert Blake. LCDR Meade had this to say in his report about Blake:

“Robert Blake, a contraband, excited my admiration by the cool and brave maner in which he served the rifle gun.” (Meade to Dahlgren, ORN, 15:190-191)

Richard W. Meade

He ends his report to Dahlgren by commending everybody, including Blake, onboard the Marblehead during the tense engagement:

“I have again to commend the good conduct of everyone on board. Their courage was so well displayed that the enemy, who had doubtless counted on disabling us, were forced to retire [. . .] in confusion and ignominy.” (Meade to Dahlgren, ORN, 15:191)
Feb 15

Destruction of USS Maine and the Rush Toward War

Tuesday, February 15, 2011 12:01 AM

The Spanish-American War (21 April–13 August 1898) was a turning point in United States history, signaling the country’s emergence as a world power. The sinking of the battleship USS Maine in Havana Harbor on 15 February 1898 was a critical event on the road to that war.

Many Cubans desired independence from Spain, and political instability in those countries led to riots in Havana in January 1898. Concerned for the safety of Americans there, U.S. President McKinley sent Maine from Key West to Havana to remind Spain of America’s serious interest in seeing an end to the Cuban conflict. Spanish authorities in Havana were wary of American intentions, but they afforded Capt. Charles D. Sigsbee and the officers of Maine every courtesy.

At 9:40 on the evening of 15 February, a terrible explosion on board the U.S. warship shattered the stillness in Havana Harbor. More than five tons of powder charges for the vessel’s 6- and 10-inch guns had ignited, virtually obliterating the forward third of the ship, and the remaining wreckage rapidly settled to the bottom of the harbor. A total of 266 American sailors lost their lives. Spanish officials acted quickly in rescuing survivors and caring for the wounded, allaying initial suspicions that hostile action caused the explosion. Sigsbee concluded his initial telegram with the cautionary phrase, “Public opinion should be suspended until further report.”

A Navy board of inquiry concluded that a mine had detonated under the ship, but did not assign blame for the device’s placement. The American public reacted with predictable outrage to this verdict. Fed by inflammatory articles in the media, the public had already placed blame on the Spanish government and called for the liberation of Cuba.

While modern investigations indicated that a mine did not sink Maine, the incident accelerated the growing diplomatic impasse between the U.S. and Spain, and served as a catalyst for the subsequent Spanish-American War.

Feb 10

Navy TV – USS Intrepid- the legend and history

Thursday, February 10, 2011 10:19 AM

In commemoration of the Centennial of Naval Aviation kick-off event in San Diego this week, NavyTV has dug up from the archives a great video about the USS Intrepid (CV-11), the legendary aircraft carrier, which served this nation from WWII through the height of the Cold War. After being decommissioned in 1974, the Intrepid became the foundation of the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum in New York City in 1982. Watch The Story of the USS Intrepid here on NavyTV.

Feb 10

USS Sargo Surfaced at North Pole

Thursday, February 10, 2011 1:20 AM

February 10th, 1960 the USS Sargo became one of the first Subs, the 3rd, to surface at the North Pole.