Jan 23

Thomas Tingey’s Lasting Legacy: The Washington Navy Yard

Friday, January 23, 2015 11:10 AM

By Joshua L. Wick, Naval History and Heritage Command

From Commander-in-Chief of the British Squadron off Newfoundland to architect and superintendent of the Navy Yard in Washington D.C., Commodore Thomas Tingey might not have had a gallant naval career but his experiences and knowledge of the sea surely set him up to become a distinguished and notable leader in our Navy’s history. This is especially true today at the Washington Navy Yard on the 215th anniversary of its establishment.

Long-time superintendent of the Washington Navy Yard -- Commodore Thomas Tingey. Naval History and Heritage Command Photo

Long-time superintendent of the Washington Navy Yard — Commodore Thomas Tingey.
Naval History and Heritage Command Photo

With the establishment of the United States Navy in 1794, Tingey started his naval career with his commissioning as a captain on Sept. 3, 1798. This, however, isn’t where his seafaring career began.

Born Sept. 11, 1750, the London native joined the British navy as a midshipman in 1771. He rose through the ranks and held several commands before leaving the Royal Navy for a career as a merchant trader commanding ships in the West Indies. Just prior to the Revolutionary War, Tingey immigrated to the British colony calling itself the United States. He was married in 1777.

His 1798 commission was signed by President John Adams and shortly thereafter, Tingey fought in the Quasi-War with France and Spain.

Tingey’s legacy in the U.S. Navy wasn’t made on the sea, but instead on land – the shores of the Anacostia and Potomac Rivers, to be exact.

On Jan. 22, 1800, Tingey was appointed superintendent of the newly-purchased Navy Yard at Washington, D.C. Among his jobs was to lay out and command the first naval base for the new republic.

This project became almost a labor of love for Tingey. At the age of 51, Tingey was discharged from the Navy in 1801, but not from the Navy Yard. He remained as superintendent.

Four years later he was recommissioned, again a captain, and gained the title of commandant of the Navy Yard. After 14 years building his beloved yard, Tingey was ordered to burn it in 1814 to keep the British from using it when they invaded Washington during the War of 1812.

Reluctantly he followed the order.

“I was the last officer who quitted the city after the enemy had possession of it, having fully performed all orders received, in which was included that myself retiring, and not to fall into their possession. I was also the first who returned and the only one who ventured in on the day on which they were peaceably masters of it”. – Letter to his daughter Sept. 17, 1814.  

WASHINGTON An aerial photograph taken in July 2006 of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

WASHINGTON An aerial photograph taken in July 2006 of the Washington Navy Yard in Washington, D.C. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

His home had been spared from the flames, and he once again took up residence in Quarters A (now known as Tingey House and home to the Chief of Naval Operations). Within a few years, the Navy Yard was rebuilt and Tingey commanded it until his death Feb. 23, 1829.

Commodore Tingey was buried in what was described as with “unusual military honors” in the Congressional Cemetery, Washington, D.C.

Although the Washington Navy Yard never regained its prominence as a shipbuilding facility after its burning in 1812, the facility was revived as the Naval Gun Factory in the 1900s through World War II. Today it is the headquarters for numerous commands, including the Naval Sea Systems Command, Commander, Navy Installations Command, Military Sealift Command, U.S. Navy Band, and the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Tingey’s service to the Navy did not go unnoticed by his progeny. A grandson and a great-grandson, both named Thomas Tingey Craven, each rose to the rank of admiral, one in the Civil War and the other during World I and World War II. Tingey himself had three ships carry his name: USS Tingey (TB 34) (DD 272) and (DD 539).

 
Jan 22

What is History? And Why Is It Important?

Thursday, January 22, 2015 10:12 AM

Herodotus of Halicarnassus is considered by many to be the Father of History for his Histories detailing the Persian Wars and the events leading to them.

History is a human endeavor. As such, it is complex, inherently limited, and evolving. What has counted as “history” and how “history” has been investigated have changed greatly since Herodotus. Historians and philosophers debate the purpose of history, how it should be conducted, and indeed what even counts as history. What history actually is has no clear answer, doubtless the debate on history’s essence will continue, but history certainly has a number of elements which must be present in order for an investigation of the past to be considered “history.” History deals with the past. History aims at truth. History attempts to explain past events. These are just a few examples of some of history’s core characteristics. Aside from the question of what history is, philosophers and historians also attempt to explain the importance of history. Answers to this question are also varied. Some historians argue that history has no real importance, relegating history to hobby status. Other historians view history as integral to human existence. These two questions, what is history and why is it important, are essential to a proper understanding and appreciation of history.

Read the rest of this entry »

 
Jan 20

101 Candles: Naval Air Station Pensacola Celebrates a Legacy of Aviation Excellence

Tuesday, January 20, 2015 8:00 AM
They are standing in front of a Curtiss AB type seaplane, and include both station staff and student aviators. They are identified (as numbered on the print) as: 1. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Harold W. Scofield, USN; 2. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) William M. Corry, Jr., USN; 3. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Clarence K. Bronson, USN; 4. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Ewart G. Haas, USN; 5. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Robert R. Paunack, USN; 6. 1st Lieutenant Francis T. Evans, USMC; 7. Lieutenant Earle F. Johnson, USN; 8. Lieutenant Albert C. Read, USN; 9. Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin, USN, Naval Aeronautic Station Commandant; 10. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Patrick N.L. Bellinger, USN; 11. 1st Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham, USMC; 12. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Richard C. Saufley, USN; 13. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Joseph P. Norfleet, USN; 14. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Walter A. Edwards, USN; 15. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Harold T. Bartlett, USN; 16. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Earl W. Spencer, Jr., USN; 17. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Edward O. McDonnell, USN. Photograph from the photo album of Vice Admiral T.T. Craven. Courtesy of Lieutenant Rodman DeKay, Jr., USNR (Retired), 1979. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

They are standing in front of a Curtiss AB type seaplane, and include both station staff and student aviators. They are identified (as numbered on the print) as: 1. Lt. j.g. Harold W. Scofield, USN; 2. Lt. j.g. William M. Corry, Jr., USN; 3. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Clarence K. Bronson, USN; 4. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Ewart G. Haas, USN; 5. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Robert R. Paunack, USN; 6. 1st Lieutenant Francis T. Evans, USMC; 7. Lieutenant Earle F. Johnson, USN; 8. Lieutenant Albert C. Read, USN; 9. Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin, USN, Naval Aeronautic Station Commandant; 10. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Patrick N.L. Bellinger, USN; 11. 1st Lieutenant Alfred A. Cunningham, USMC; 12. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Richard C. Saufley, USN; 13. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Joseph P. Norfleet, USN; 14. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Walter A. Edwards, USN; 15. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Harold T. Bartlett, USN; 16. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Earl W. Spencer, Jr., USN; 17. Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Edward O. McDonnell, USN. Photograph from the photo album of Vice Admiral T.T. Craven. Courtesy of Lieutenant Rodman DeKay, Jr., USNR (Retired), 1979. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

 

By Hill Goodspeed, National Naval Aviation Museum

Before January 20, 1914, when the Navy’s aviation establishment arrived at a recently closed, hurricane ravaged navy yard in Pensacola, Florida, the small collection of men and assorted flying machines had lived a vagabond existence since Lieutenant Theodore G. Ellyson received orders to report for flight training under the tutelage of aircraft manufacturer Glenn Curtiss in December 1910.

They had flown from lake waters in Curtiss’ native Hammondsport, New York, the sandy landscape of North Island in San Diego, over the Caribbean waters off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and from an encampment at Greenbury Point across the Severn River from the U.S. Naval Academy. Such was the ad hoc nature of the latter location that it was located in proximity to the midshipman rifle range, forcing the aviators and mechanics to frequently vacate the premises lest they become an unwitting target for a fledgling marksman!

The members of the Chambers Board, which convened in Washington D.C. in late 1913, recognized that naval aviation, with the potential for employment on a wider scale in naval operations, required a permanent home, an aeronautic station not only for use in training, but more also to serve as a veritable laboratory for the study of naval aviation.

The record-altitude flights and experimental work lay in the future on that January day, the conditions that greeted the aviators as they arrived on board the battleship Mississippi and collier Orion proving disconcerting.

Capt. Henry C. Mustin

Capt. Henry C. Mustin

“We have done some hustling since arrival for the yard is a wreck and the beach we have to use for hangars [full of] drift wood…and all kinds of junk; the whole place is in scandalous condition, and I surely have a job on my hands,” Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin wrote upon arriving. “It looks as if it had been abandoned 50 years ago and since then had been used as a dump. However, there are fine possibilities in the place.”

 

Description: They are outside the Flying School office, which bears a sign (at left) with the name of Lt. j.g. Clarence K. Bronson. Both station staff and student aviators are present. Most are identified below (as annotated on the print). Standing, left to right: Ensign Harold W. Scofield, USN; Past Assistant Surgeon Charles L. Beeching, USN; Lt. j.g. Clarence K. Bronson, USN; Lt. j.g. William M. Corry, Jr., USN; Lt. j.g. Joseph P. Norfleet, USN; and Lt. Albert C. Read, USN. Seated, left to right: Unidentified Lt. j.g. ; Lt. j.g. Earl W. Spencer, Jr., USN; Lt. j.g. Walter A. Edwards, USN; Lt. j.g. Robert R. Paunack, USN; Lt. Earle F. Johnson, USN; Lt. j.g. George D. Murray, USN. Photograph from the photo album of Vice Admiral T.T. Craven. Courtesy of Lt. Rodman DeKay, Jr., USNR (Retired), 1979. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Description: They are outside the Flying School office, which bears a sign (at left) with the name of Lt. j.g. Clarence K. Bronson. Both station staff and student aviators are present. Most are identified below (as annotated on the print). Standing, left to right: Ensign Harold W. Scofield, USN; Past Assistant Surgeon Charles L. Beeching, USN; Lt. j.g. Clarence K. Bronson, USN; Lt. j.g. William M. Corry, Jr., USN; Lt. j.g. Joseph P. Norfleet, USN; and Lt. Albert C. Read, USN. Seated, left to right: Unidentified Lt. j.g. ; Lt. j.g. Earl W. Spencer, Jr., USN; Lt. j.g. Walter A. Edwards, USN; Lt. j.g. Robert R. Paunack, USN; Lt. Earle F. Johnson, USN; Lt. j.g. George D. Murray, USN. Photograph from the photo album of Vice Admiral T.T. Craven. Courtesy of Lt. Rodman DeKay, Jr., USNR (Retired), 1979. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Once ashore, the aviation personnel assembled their aircraft and began erecting canvas tent hangars along the shore to protect them from the Florida sun. Less than two weeks after arriving, using the natural runway that the waters of Pensacola Bay provided, a prime reason for the location’s selection by the Chambers Board, Lieutenant John Towers, the officer-in-charge of the flight school, and Ensign Godfrey DeC. Chevalier took to the skies in two seaplanes.

A local newspaper likened the airplanes to “giant buzzards” as they made the first of hundreds of thousands of flights launched from what would become known as the “Cradle of Naval Aviation.”

 
Jan 15

Surface Force in Desert Storm: USS Nicholas Leads a Distributed, Lethal Attack on Enemy Troops

Thursday, January 15, 2015 7:00 AM

From the Naval History and Heritage Command

A starboard quarter view of the guided missile frigate USS NICHOLAS (FFG-47) underway in support of Operation Desert Shield.

A starboard quarter view of the guided missile frigate USS NICHOLAS (FFG-47) underway in support of Operation Desert Shield.

The Battle of Ad-Dawrah may not have the branding of other naval warfare conflicts, like Midway or Leyte Gulf, but it was a shining moment for the naval surface force 24 years ago when USS Nicholas (FFG 47) and other frigates did their part in showering the enemy with “thunder and lightning” during the early days of Desert Storm.

Iraq invaded Kuwait on Aug. 2, 1990, to the condemnation of the United Nations. After five months of sanctions that severed Iraq’s economic lifelines and a maritime interception campaign with 115 U.S. and 50 allied warships, it was time for Desert Shield to become Desert Storm.

For most Americans, the operation began on the evening of January 16th when President George H.W. Bush addressed the nation announcing the commencement of hostilities. In the Middle East, where it was already early the next morning, Operation Desert Storm was underway led by Army Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf, in charge of all coalition forces, while then-Vice Adm. Stanley Arthur commanded the largest build-up of naval personnel and ships since World War II.

The war at sea was integral to the liberation of Kuwait. While continuing their high-tempo maritime interception mission, U.S. and coalition warships conducted a wide variety of contingency actions, from Tomahawk Land Attack Missile launches to naval gunfire support.

Almost immediately, Iraqi troops began setting off explosives previously placed around Kuwaiti oil fields. Iraqi troops had staked out observation posts on nine of 11 oil platforms in the Dorrah oilfield, about 40 miles off the Kuwaiti coast. From the platforms, they could gather intelligence on U.S. and allied aircraft and ship movements.

Flight deck crewmen refuel an SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter aboard the guided missile frigate USS NICHOLAS (FFG-47). The NICHOLAS is en route to its home port at Naval Station, Charleston, S.C., after serving in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

Flight deck crewmen refuel an SH-60B Sea Hawk helicopter aboard the guided missile frigate USS NICHOLAS (FFG-47). The NICHOLAS is en route to its home port at Naval Station, Charleston, S.C., after serving in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

Navy surface forces made an impact early in Desert Storm, when USS Nicholas (FFG 47) and the Kuwaiti fast attack craft Istiqlal (P 5702) conducted the first surface engagement of the war on Jan. 18, 1991. Supporting combat search and rescue operations for the air campaign, Nicholas and her helicopters scouted the Dorrah oilfield.

In a daring night-time operation, well within range of Iraqi Silkworm missiles and near Iraqi combatant ships and aircraft armed with Exocet ship-killer missiles, Nicholas and Istiqlal attacked the enemy positions.

Nicholas crept to within a mile of the southernmost platforms under cover of darkness. Armed for air-to-surface combat, embarked Army AHIP helicopters, and joined by Nicholas‘ own SH-60 Seahawk helicopter from HSL-44, headed north –toward the enemy’s “back door.” Once in range, the helicopters launched a volley of precision-guided missiles that destroyed enemy positions on the two northernmost platforms. Seconds later, as six Iraqi soldiers attempted to escape to a waiting small craft, ammunition stockpiled on the platforms exploded, illuminating the night sky.

Officers and enlisted men stand their watches on the bridge of the guided missile frigate USS NICHOLAS (FFG-47) as the ship returns to its home port at Naval Station, Charleston, S.C. The NICHOLAS departed Charleston on September 21, 1990, and sailed for the Persian Gulf, where the ship served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

Officers and enlisted men stand their watches on the bridge of the guided missile frigate USS NICHOLAS (FFG-47) as the ship returns to its home port at Naval Station, Charleston, S.C. The NICHOLAS departed Charleston on September 21, 1990, and sailed for the Persian Gulf, where the ship served in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm.

Nicholas and her Kuwaiti counterpart came within range of their objectives. While Iraqis on the other platforms were staring at their neighbors’ flaming fortifications, the two ships opened fire, quickly neutralizing the remaining platforms. No enemy troops returned fire during the lightning-fast operation.

An Arabic-speaking crewman called out over the ship’s loudspeaker that anyone who wished to surrender should raise his hands. A monitor in Nicholas‘ combat information center displayed a flickering infrared image of an Iraqi waving weakly. Several hours later, the first 23 enemy prisoners of war were taken as teams boarded the platforms to destroy the remaining fortifications. Five Iraqis were killed during the engagement.

Searchers found caches of shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles– an unpleasant surprise for the Seahawk pilots who had flown near the platforms during the past two days. Navy demolition teams destroyed the remaining weapons and long-range radio equipment.

As Navy A-6 Intruders pounded Iraqi minelayers on Jan. 22, Nicholas and her Seahawks were again busy in the northern Persian Gulf. As the northernmost allied ship, Nicholas launched her helicopters to attack Iraqi patrol boats operating less than a mile from the Kuwaiti coast. In the battle that followed, Seahawk gunners sank or heavily damaged all four enemy craft. The following day, A-6s hit the mark again, disabling an Iraqi tanker used to gather intelligence, an enemy hovercraft and another Iraqi patrol boat.

The frigate proved its capability to operate close to the shore as it provided security for merchant convoys and replenishment groups, yet bringing its “thunder and lightning” to multiply fleet force resources.

USS Nicholas, the star of the Battle of Ad-Dawrah, was decommissioned March 17, 2014. In fact, when the 25th anniversary of the Battle of Ad-Dawrah rolls around in January 2016, there will be no Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates in the U.S. Navy – earlier this month USS Kauffman (FFG 59) departed for what will be the final deployment for the ship and for the class. A decommissioning is scheduled for sometime in September.

Still the value of the surface force’s ability to control the seas, so ably demonstrated by Nicholas at Ad-Dawrah, is not lost on today’s Navy leaders.

Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Forces

“A shift is now under way within the surface force. It is not subtle, and it is not accidental,” wrote Vice Adm. Thomas Rowden, Commander, Naval Surface Forces, in an article for the Jan. 2015 edition of Proceedings Magazine.  “The surface force is taking the offensive, to give the operational commander options to employ naval combat power in any anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) environment.”

“The surface fleet will always defend the high-value and mission-essential units; that is in our core doctrine. However, the emergence of sophisticated sea-denial strategies has driven a need to shift to an offensive imperative to control the seas. Increasing surface-force lethality—particularly in our offensive weapons and the concept of operations for surface action groups (SAGs)—will provide more strike options to joint-force commanders, provide another method to seize the initiative, and add battlespace complexity to an adversary’s calculus,” he wrote.

After the Cold War, Rowden said no navy could challenge or dominate the United States.

“No power could match us at sea, and that dominance allowed the Navy to focus on projecting power ashore. The balance between sea control and power projection tipped strongly in favor of the latter, and the surface force evolved accordingly. Our proficiency in land-attack and maritime-security operations reached new heights, while foundational skills in antisubmarine warfare (ASW) and antisurface warfare (ASUW) slowly began to erode,” Rowden wrote.

Called “distributed lethality” Rowden believes the surface force must develop and build stronger, more varied offensive capability in its ships, adding more power in more places and sailing together in formations known as “hunter-killer surface action groups.”

“If U.S. naval power is to reclaim maritime battlespace dominance in contemporary and future anti-A2/AD environments,” said Rowden in the Proceedings article, “the surface Navy must counter rapidly evolving missile, air, submarine, and surface threats that will challenge our ability to sail where we want, when we want.”

*Check out the Navy Live Blog for a post from U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. Fifth Fleet Commander Vice Adm. John Miller about the importance of partnerships in his AOR during Desert Storm and today.

 
Jan 11

USS Hatteras Wreck Still Making Waves 152 Years Later

Sunday, January 11, 2015 9:00 AM
The crew launching the BlueView sonar tripod. Heather G. Brown, the NHHC representative for the survey, is nearly hidden by equipment on the far right. Photo courtesy of OceanGate Foundation

The crew launching the BlueView sonar tripod. Heather G. Brown, the NHHC representative for the survey, is nearly hidden by equipment on the far right. Photo courtesy of OceanGate Foundation

 

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

As a Union gunboat, the Southern-named USS Hatteras had a successful career in chasing down blockade runners during the early days of the Civil War.

But her greatest victory came 121 years after she was sunk on Jan. 11, 1863. That was when the U.S. District Court determined the U.S. Navy was the legal guardian of the steam side-wheeler’s wreck site, saving her from commercial salvaging companies and private treasure hunters who had filed an admiralty suit in 1978.

USS Hatteras builders-plate

The builder’s plate from USS Hatteras listing Harlan & Hollinsworth & Co. It was one of the artifacts found at the USS Hatteras wreck site in the Gulf of Mexico and used as evidence in the 1978 admiralty suit that eventually was found in favor of the United States Navy. It is now on loan from NHHC to the Texas State History Museum, Austin, Texas.

Artifacts from the ship, used as evidence in the case, were returned to the U.S. Navy, where they are part of the Naval History and Heritage Command’s collection administered by its Underwater Archaeology Branch. The wreck is also protected by the Sunken Military Craft Act.

After the court decision, the Navy, through NHHC, partnered with the Texas Historical Commission and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to monitor the site and make sure no oil rigs are placed in the vicinity. A survey was done in 2007 to determine the impact of hurricanes. After Hurricane Ike in 2008, sport divers reported seeing more of the ship’s mechanical works exposed.

In 2012, Hatteras made history again as one of the first offshore test subjects of a 3-dimensional sonar scan.

Scanning the Side-Wheeler

The Hatteras survey was a partnership with the Texas Historical Commission, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Maritime Heritage Program, NOAA’s Office of Coastal Study (OCS), ExplorOcean, Northwest Hydro, staff from NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) aboard its research vessel Manta, and the educational organization OceanGate Foundation, among others.

Heather G. Brown, an underwater archaeologist with the Naval History and Heritage Command’s Underwater Archaeology Branch, was on site for the survey, which took two days in September. The purpose of the survey was to try and get a good idea of how much of the site remained exposed after recent hurricane activity, as well as an opportunity to test new scanning equipment, Brown said.

One innovative aspect about the BlueView system is that provides a large amount of very accurate data very quickly, even in dark water, and the level of detail it provides is much greater than side-scan sonar or multibeam echo sounder, Brown explained. Divers descended nearly 60 feet to place the Teledyne BlueView 3D scanner’s tripod at various locations around Hatteras.

“The heavy iron machinery was still left, although the wood was gone. There may be some preserved in the sand but it hasn’t been excavated to see if any planking is left,” Brown said.

The pictures showed the iron sidewheels on the ship and the iron shaft that connected the two wheels on either side of the ship’s narrow deck. Trawling nets that have snagged on the exposed machinery have scattered some of it around the wreck site. Click here for a video of the scan.

“Our main focus right now is to educate the public about what’s there so they can respect it as part of their heritage,” Brown said. “We want people to understand why this is important and why there is a need to preserve it.”

Line engraving published in "Harper's Weekly", 1862, depicting CSS Alabama burning a prize. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Line engraving published in “Harper’s Weekly”, 1862, depicting CSS Alabama burning a prize.
U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

USS Hatteras

Built in 1861 by Harlan and Hollingsworth of Wilmington, Del., the side-wheel steamer called Saint Marys was purchased that year by the U.S. Navy for $110,000 and up-armored with four 32-pound guns and one 20-pound gun. That builder’s plate is among the artifacts taken from USS Hatteras and is now on loan from NHHC to the Bullock Texas State History Museum in Austin, Texas.

There’s no mention as to why the refitted gunboat would be renamed after a city from one of the Southern states that had recently ceded from the Union. But whatever the reason, the 210-foot by 18-foot gunboat did her part as a member of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron at Key West, Fla., in November 1861. Her captain was Cmdr. George F. Emmons, who led Hatteras into capturing and burning seven small blockade runners carrying supplies such as cotton and turpentine. They also burned railroad terminals, other facilities and captured half of a small garrison and its commander.

During early 1862, Hatteras and her crew cruised off the coast of Louisiana, where the gunboat stymied the blockade runners’ trade route, capturing several. After a successful first year, Emmons was relieved by Cmdr. Homer Blake in Nov. 1862.

The Union had prevented commerce flowing from Galveston to Mexico with its Western Gulf Squadron, under the command of the Navy’s first rear admiral, David G. Farragut. But a Confederate uprising during the early morning hours of Jan. 1, 1863, allowed Gen. John B. Magruder’s troops to re-take Galveston. In the process, USS Harriet Lane was captured, along with two barques and a schooner. USS Westfield, which had become grounded, was scuttled to prevent capture.

Although the Confederates had retaken Galveston, the Union blockade continued to control commerce at the harbor. Members of the South Atlantic Squadron, including the gunboat Hatteras, were diverted to Galveston to shore up the Galveston fleet.

Mid-afternoon on Jan. 11, a new ship was sighted on the horizon. USS Hatteras pulled away from the rest of the squadron to investigate. It was CSS Alabama. Built in secrecy in Great Britain, the 220-by-31.8-foot sloop-of-war had a bit of a Clipper look with her square rigging, which her skipper, Capt. Raphael Semmes, played to his advantage. Hatteras trailed the ship for four hours and 20 miles out from the safety of Galveston Harbor. With a Union Jack flag flying, the cruiser claimed at first to be “Britannic Majesty’s Ship Petrel.”

Blake remained suspicious, however, and announced he was sending a boarding party to check her credentials. As soon as the boat left Hatteras, Semmes struck the Union Jack and raised the Confederate Stars and Bars, announcing it was CSS Alabama, then blasting Hatteras broadside with its 32-pound cannons.

USS Hatteras (1861-1863) (right) 19th Century print, depicting the sinking of Hatteras by CSS Alabama, off Galveston, Texas, Jan. 11, 1863. Naval History and Heritage Command PhotoUSS Hatteras (1861-1863) (right) 19th Century print, depicting the sinking of Hatteras by CSS Alabama, off Galveston, Texas, Jan. 11, 1863. Naval History and Heritage Command Photo

USS Hatteras (1861-1863) (right) 19th Century print, depicting the sinking of Hatteras by CSS Alabama, off Galveston, Texas, Jan. 11, 1863. Naval History and Heritage Command Photo

For 13 minutes, both ships fired away at each other at close range, but then a shell burst in Hatteras’ engine room, killing two men and blasting apart the iron plates on her hull. As Hatteras began to sink Blake ordered the guns flooded to prevent explosions and sent a shot across Alabama’s bow to acknowledge defeat.

Alabama sent boats to help Hatteras’ crew and her captain off the ship while the Hatteras boarding party got away and made it back to the squadron. Alabama took her prisoners to Port Royal, Jamaica, where they were later freed.

The following day, USS Brooklyn found the wreck of Hatteras still upright. With the topmast poking above the water, Hatteras’ commissioning pennant still waved.

 

Artifacts from USS Hatteras taken in the mid-1970s and now with the Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, D.C.

USS Hatteras Steam Valve Assembled (2)

USS Hatteras Steam Valve Assembled

USS Hatteras pipe

USS Hatteras pipe

USS Hatteras Oil Cup 1 Detail

USS Hatteras Oil Cup 1 Detail (2)

USS Hatteras Iron Ball

USS Hatteras Iron Ball

 

 
Jan 9

MSC: Proud of our heritage, ready to tackle tomorrow’s challenges

Friday, January 9, 2015 3:03 PM

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By John Thackrah, Executive Director, Military Sealift Command

Today marks the creation of the Naval Overseas Transportation Service in 1918 to carry cargo during World War I. Sealift capabilities played a key role in our nation’s defense then, and are still crucial to our Navy and DOD’s ability to operate forward – where it matters, when it matters.

Post-World War II, our nation consolidated its sealift transport services into a single entity in 1949 – the Military Sea Transportation Service, later re-named Military Sealift Command.

World War I transport ship Henderson, USN 1917-1948 (built by USN, 1917). 10,000 Tons (displacement); Length 483.8'; Breadth 61.1'

World War I transport ship Henderson, USN 1917-1948 (built by USN, 1917). 10,000 Tons (displacement); Length 483.8′; Breadth 61.1′

Fast forward to 2015, and MSC has grown from a handful of missions to more than 20. Our command is a critical part of our Navy, efficiently and cost-effectively operating some of our fleet’s most innovative ships. The growing number and diversity of our ships honors the spirit of our forerunners, and highlights the trust we’ve earned over decades.

Take our mobile landing platform, for instance. The first ship in the class, USNS Montford Point, demonstrated during last year’s Rim of the Pacific exercise and again during the Pacific Horizon 14 exercise that it can meet the growing needs of our Marine Corps for sea-basing assets.

Montford Point and its sister ship, USNS John Glenn, have two primary capabilities: transfer of equipment, personnel and sustainment at-sea, and delivery of vehicles and equipment ashore. In tandem with sealift vessels like USNS Bob Hope and high-speed transport ships like the joint high-speed vessels, MLPs allow large-scale logistics movements from sea to shore, which reduces reliance on foreign ports.

Another exciting set of ships is the afloat forward staging base variant of the MLP. Unlike Montford Point, AFSBs like the recently launched USNS Lewis B. Puller add a flight deck, equipment storage and repair spaces. The variant can provide a base of operations for everything from counter-piracy/smuggling, maritime security and mine clearing to humanitarian aid and disaster relief. We expect that Lewis B. Puller will undergo at-sea testing prior to its delivery this year.

140718-N-QY430-002 BIG CREEK, Belize (July 18, 2014) The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) crew and service members on-load gear and vehicles during Southern Partnership Station 2014. Southern Partnership Station is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rafael Martie/Released)

140718-N-QY430-002
BIG CREEK, Belize (July 18, 2014) The Military Sealift Command joint high-speed vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) crew and service members on-load gear and vehicles during Southern Partnership Station 2014. Southern Partnership Station is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rafael Martie/Released)

Finally, our joint high-speed vessels spent 2014 proving their versatility in real-world operations and exercises. USNS Spearhead, the first ship in the class, completed the first leg of its maiden deployment to U.S. 6th Fleet last May, and deployed again to U.S. 4th Fleet after a short pit-stop in Little Creek, Virginia. These are hard-working ships – just a few weeks ago, Spearhead departed Virginia and is currently operating in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

Our Navy and Marine Corps team has been actively discussing and testing what these ships can do, and we’ve discovered that they are useful for missions beyond their original design. In November, USNS Choctaw County participated in Bold Alligator 2014 and conducted proof-of-concept testing that included small boat launches and helicopter operations.

I am confident that as we continue to explore other mission sets that include theater security cooperation, non-combatant evacuations and counter-illicit trafficking detection and monitoring, the JHSV will continue to prove itself as a valuable fleet asset worldwide.

Bottom line, MSC is grateful for the expanding responsibilities entrusted to us, and ready to hit the ground running in 2015.

141106-N-EW716-001) SAN DIEGO (Nov. 6, 2014) The mobile landing platform Lewis B. Puller (T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1) successfully completed launch and float-off at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard. Lewis B. Puller is the first afloat forward staging base (AFSB) variant of the MLP and is optimized to support a variety of maritime missions. (Photo courtesy of NASSCO)

141106-N-EW716-001)
SAN DIEGO (Nov. 6, 2014) The mobile landing platform Lewis B. Puller (T-MLP-3/T-AFSB-1) successfully completed launch and float-off at the General Dynamics National Steel and Shipbuilding Co. (NASSCO) shipyard. Lewis B. Puller is the first afloat forward staging base (AFSB) variant of the MLP and is optimized to
support a variety of maritime missions. (Photo courtesy of NASSCO)

 

 

 
Jan 8

Celebrating the Birth of the Nuclear Navy

Thursday, January 8, 2015 5:05 PM
USS Nautilus (SSN 571) Water color by Albert Murray

USS Nautilus (SSN 571)
Water color by Albert Murray

From Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

The director of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program will host a ceremony Jan. 9 at Naval Reactors’ Washington Navy Yard headquarters celebrating one of the first major milestones of the Navy’s nuclear propulsion program.

Adm. John M. Richardson, joined by Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert, and the Department of Energy Under Secretary for Nuclear Security, Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz, will honor the 60th anniversary of the world’s first nuclear-powered warship, USS Nautilus (SSN 571), getting underway on nuclear power. It was on Jan. 17, 1955 at 11 a.m. when Nautilus Commanding Officer Cmdr. Eugene Wilkinson announced “UNDERWAY ON NUCLEAR POWER.”

In addition to being an engineering marvel, Nautilus was the first in a long line of nuclear-powered ships to serve the U.S. Navy with an outstanding record of more than 155,000 million miles safely steamed on nuclear power. Just as important, she represented a huge leap in American energy security, increasing strategic independence, sustainability, and operational capability.

Adm. Hyman G. Rickover on USS Nautilus.

Adm. Hyman G. Rickover on USS Nautilus.

Getting Nautilus “underway on nuclear power” was a remarkable accomplishment that began with the concept of harnessing the power of splitting uranium atoms in 1939 by scientists at the Naval Research Laboratory. That concept became reality when then-Capt. Hyman G. Rickover, an engineering officer, signed onto the project in 1946. Just six years later, on June 14, 1952, President Harry S. Truman signed the keel of the first nuclear-powered submarine.

Nautilus Launching Program

It was Jan. 21, 1954 when Nautilus was launched at Electric Boat Shipyard, Groton, Conn. The boat was commissioned a few months later, Sept. 30. For a video of the 60th anniversary of the commissioning, please click here.

USS Nautilus in New York on Aug. 25, 1958, following her historic voyage across the North Pole on Aug. 3. US Navy photo

USS Nautilus in New York on Aug. 25, 1958, following her historic voyage across the North Pole on Aug. 3. A ticker tape parade was held to celebrate the occasion. US Navy photo

Nautilus’ career was a record-setting one, including being the first submarine to cross the North Pole – under the ice – on Aug. 3, 1958. After 25 years and four refuelings, Nautilus was decommissioned in 1980. Two years later, the first nuclear-powered submarine was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior.

After undergoing historic ship conversion in 1986, USS Nautilus continues to serve her country at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton.

Editors Note: On Jan. 9 Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced that SSN 795, a Virginia-class attack submarine, will bear the name USS Hyman G. Rickover.

Mabus named the submarine to honor U.S. Navy Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, the man credited for developing USS Nautilus (SSN 571), the world’s first operational nuclear-powered submarine. For more information click here.

 

 
Jan 8

Battle of New Orleans: In 1814 We Took A Little Trip…

Thursday, January 8, 2015 8:27 AM

By Naval History and Heritage Command, Communication and Outreach Division

Painting depicting the Naval Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana, between U.K. and U.S. forces in the War of 1812, by Thomas L. Hornbrook (active 1836-1844). (Image Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland.)

Painting depicting the Naval Battle of Lake Borgne, Louisiana, between U.K. and U.S. forces in the War of 1812, by Thomas L. Hornbrook (active 1836-1844). (Image Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, Annapolis, Maryland.)

Today marks the final victory over the British that ended the War of 1812. The Battle of New Orleans was settled at Chalmette Plantation, where Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s troops scored a final victory for the United States.

Less known, however, is the naval skirmish three weeks prior that set up Jackson’s victory. During the Battle of Lake Borgne, American Sailors and Marines, with just a few gun boats, slowed the approach of 8,000 British troops advancing toward New Orleans. Armed with the knowledge the British were coming, Jackson was able to prepare and amass his troops for the greatest land battle victory during the War of 1812. All thanks to the intuition of Commodore Daniel Todd Patterson.

Capt. Daniel Todd Patterson by John Wesley Jarvis

Capt. Daniel Todd Patterson by John Wesley Jarvis

Patterson was born on Long Island in 1786 and like so many Americans at the time, descended from loyal British subjects. His uncle had been a royal governor of what is now St. John’s Island in Canada. Patterson started his career in the Navy in 1799, fought the French, was taken captive during the Quasi Wars, and led raids against pirates blocking New Orleans. He was later a prisoner of the Barbary pirates in Tripoli until the American victory in 1805.

Stationed in New Orleans, by 1812 Patterson was highly experienced in combat and leadership. He was ready for the British, who had won battles in the Great Lakes, burned Washington, and were now ready to invade the South.

But where? The British had already sent ships to the Gulf of Mexico. Jackson believed it would be Mobile, Ala., and he insisted Commodore Patterson, now the Commander of New Orleans, to send whatever he had to protect Mobile from attack. Patterson repeatedly refused Jackson, convinced the British would attack New Orleans.

In the meantime, the British Commander-in-Chief of the North American Station, Vice Adm. Sir Alexander Cochrane, had anchored in the Gulf of Mexico with a large armada of ships holding 8,000 soldiers and sailors ready to invade.

Patterson had little with which to respond. As the Master Commandant, he had written to the Secretary of the Navy many times asking for ships that could stand a chance in combat against the British fleet. Patterson wrote the year before in December 1813 that none of his ships could even depart from the Gulf of Mexico without “falling into enemy hands.”

The British had HMS Seahorse, which carried 22 nine-pounder guns. Cochrane also had ships like Armide and Sophie, which contained two six-pounder bow guns and 16 32-pounder carronades, which were giant short-range cast iron cannons.

Patterson had five gunboats, a schooner and two sloops of war, USS Alligator and USS Tickler. The squadron had fewer than 250 Sailors, armed with 16 long guns, 14 carronades, two howitzers and 12 swivel guns. The gun boats were often referred to as “Jefferson-class” tug boats, because they were built during the presidency of Thomas Jefferson who believed all America needed was a coastal patrol force, not a blue-water navy. The “Jefferson-class” gun boats didn’t even have names. They had numbers — Numbers 156, 163, 5, 23, and 162.

But now the British were anchored in the Gulf of Mexico. Vice Adm. Cochrane decided the easiest way to New Orleans would be through Lake Borgne, where Patterson’s squadron was patrolling and reporting back to Jackson about the British logistics and movements.

Finally, on Dec. 12, 1814, 1,200 British sailors and marines began their approach to Lake Borgne. After 36 hours of rowing, the invaders faced a hail of grape shot. Patterson had calculated correctly that even without ships to match the Royal Navy, his gunboats could harass any landing party as they rowed ashore, blocking the entrance of Lake Borgne, the gateway to New Orleans.

But outmanned and outgunned, the British captured all the American gunboats on Dec. 14. The British then made a tactical error. Rather than pressing forward, they were allowed time to rest.

Jackson heard about a British encampment just seven miles from New Orleans and exclaimed: “By the Eternal they shall not sleep on our soil.”

So during the night of Dec. 23, the Americans attacked the British with troops by land and with USS Carolina and Louisiana, stationed in the Mississippi River, bombarding their encampment. Heavily outnumbered, the Americans were forced to retreat.

The British realized their advance would not be as easy as they thought, and again, hesitated, allowing even more time for Jackson to shore up his forces and prepare their defense. Under bombardment and constant attack, the British tried to advance into New Orleans for the next two weeks until the culmination of the battle on Jan. 8, 1815.

The Treaty of Ghent was signed in Belgium on Dec., 24, 1814, just one day after Jackson’s assault on the British. But neither side knew the treaty had been signed until after the battle was over two weeks later. After Jan. 8, the British, in one last effort after losing New Orleans, tried to take Mobile again, but then withdrew upon hearing of the treaty. It would formally end all hostilities between the two nations.

Patterson himself commanded naval batteries on the Mississippi during the Battle of New Orleans. He, as well as his Sailors and Marines fought alongside Jackson’s Soldiers during the last week in December and the first week in January. Jackson would go on to give high praise to Patterson, who would be promoted to captain. Patterson would later take command of USS Constitution, and serve in the Navy for another 24 years.

And old Hickory himself, a national hero, would ride his 1815 victory to become the nation’s seventh president in 1829.

The penultimate battle of the War of 1812

Today in 1815 marks the final victory over the British that ended the War of 1812. It was Maj. Gen. Andrew Jackson’s Army that carried that ball over the goal line for the win. But they crossed that end zone because the U.S. Navy got the ball to within the 10-yard line.

How so, you might ask? The British planned to attack New Orleans weeks prior to Jan. 8, 1815, but a small contingent of American gunboats kept the Red Coats from coming ashore from the Gulf of Mexico through Lake Borgne, allowing Jackson the time to amass more men to prepare for their attack.

A history teacher named Jimmy Driftwood back in the 1936 wrote a little ditty called the Battle of New Orleans to get his history students interested in the War of 1812, using a popular American folk tune called “The 8th of January.” Singer Johnny Horton turned into a 1959 hit.

But since that song was about the land battle that kept the British out of New Orleans, with our apologies to Driftwood, here’s the Navy version, based on the same tune, on how a handful of Navy boats held off the Royal Navy, and helped set the stage for the bigger victory three weeks later on Jan. 8, 1815.

NewOrleans.pdf