Archive for March, 2019

Mar 26

Sinking and Submerged: Emergency Escape Equipment for Submarines

Tuesday, March 26, 2019 7:49 AM

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When I picture a naval rescue operation, my mind turns to men in life preservers, huddled together in a lifeboat as they watch their vessel sink beneath the waves. At least, that’s what I thought of until last week, when a stack of World War II naval rescue images crossed my desk, ready for research and processing. There was a good number of the images I was expecting: men in lifeboats; men soaked to the skin wearing life preservers; and men bobbing on the surface of the water, ship sinking in the background. Then, at the bottom of the stack,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 21

Sinbad – The Dog Behind the Legend

Thursday, March 21, 2019 12:01 AM

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Throughout the centuries many ships have had mascots – cats, dogs, monkeys, parrots – and during World War II there were a profusion of them. Many were adopted as part of the ship’s crew, but somehow none ever achieved Sinbad’s stature or lasting fame. His fame extended to sailors of all countries whose ships plied the Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea and spread ashore to American cities far inland. It all started on a winter’s evening in late 1937, Blackie and his friend Ed Maillard returned from Liberty to the Cutter Campbell in Staten Island, New York. Blackie was carrying… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 19

From Small Town Girls to Prisoners of War

Tuesday, March 19, 2019 12:01 AM

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In honor of Women’s History Month, I want to tell you a story. It is a story I never heard until I went digging for it, but it is a story of valor, honor, and perseverance. It this, the Angels of Bataan, a group of U.S. Army and Navy nurses held captive by the Japanese in the Philippines for three grueling years during the Second World War. It begins on 8 December 1941, sometime in the predawn hours. Business was usual in the U.S. military hospitals located across the Philippines. But the nurses and other medical staff at Canacao Naval… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 14

ASW Rise and Fall

Thursday, March 14, 2019 12:01 AM

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The submarine is an elusive creature. Designed to operate mostly alone, and stealthily, it has become a factor far out of proportion to its size in the battle at sea. Fighting the submarine requires a well thought out strategy, supported by carefully coordinated tactics, carried out sequentially, to implement such strategy. The slightest tactical omission can result in lost ships. The Submarine Threat in World War I During WWI, U-Boats severely threatened the Allied War effort. Waiting, submerged and silent, at choke points along Allied logistics routes, submarines quickly became a severe danger. To combat submarines, ad hoc measures: nets,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 12

They Became Banana Boats

Tuesday, March 12, 2019 12:01 AM

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Broadside view of the motor fruit carrier Truxtun, ex-USS Truxtun (DD-14)

Shortly after the cessation of hostilities of World War I, the United States found itself with a number of obsolete craft from the beginning of the era of the all-steel Navy. Now no longer needed, U.S. Navy disposed of its original torpedo boat destroyers that had entered service shortly after the end of the Spanish-American War. The three boats Truxtun class were bought by private shipping interests. The Truxtun (DD-14) and her sisters Whipple (DD-15) and Worden (DD-16) were refitted with diesel engines for the first experiment in making small, fast, shallow draft banana carriers. As Commander John D. Alden, U.S. Navy (Retired) recounts below, they… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 7

Korean War Era Night Fighter Training

Thursday, March 7, 2019 12:01 AM

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Vice Admiral Gerald E. Miller, U.S. Navy (Ret.)

  Gerald E. Miller enlisted in the Navy in 1936 and served in the fleet for two years before getting an appointment to the Naval Academy, from which he was graduated in late 1941. He then spent two years of wartime duty in the light cruiser USS Richmond (CL-9) before he could go to flight training. Throughout his aviation experiences, Admiral Miller placed particular emphasis on nighttime flight operations. During the Korean War, he served on the staff of Rear Admiral E. C. Ewen, Commander Task Force 77, and then commanded a fighter squadron. During a mid-1950s tour in the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Admiral Miller… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 5

Admiral Thach: A Tactical Artist

Tuesday, March 5, 2019 12:01 AM

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Standing about six feet tall and weighing a measly 135 pounds, it is hard to imagine how young Jack Thach felt as he prepared to begin his plebe training at the United States Naval Academy. It was the summer of 1923, and at his initial physical assessment, Jack’s frailty evoked great skepticism from the examining physician. Told to eat and exercise more, time would tell if Jack could translate his high school football success in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, to achievement at the Academy. Two weeks into his first academic term, Midshipman 4/C Thach received failing grades in every subject. After… Read the rest of this entry »