Archive for April, 2020

Apr 30

Disaster at Honda Point: The U.S. Navy's Largest Peacetime Loss of Ships

Thursday, April 30, 2020 12:26 PM


Honda Point, also known as Point Pedernales, is located just north of the entrance to the Santa Barbara Channel in Santa Barbara County, California. The area has been known to be hazardous as far back as the 16th century, when Spanish explorers coined the area the “Devil’s Jaw” due to its treacherous and plentiful rocky outcroppings. Local mariners have long known to avoid the area at all costs, and the sailors involved on the 8 September 1923 incident were no exception. However, a perfect storm of radio and navigational errors, irregular currents, and poor visibility all came together at just… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 21

A Destroyer Escort, a U-boat, and the ‘Argentia Eight’

Tuesday, April 21, 2020 12:26 PM


In April 1945, Nazi Germany was in its death throes, with Soviet troops battling for Berlin and U.S. and British forces driving deep into the country’s heartland. The Battle of the Atlantic was virtually over; the Kriegmarine’s bases on the French coast either had been captured or were besieged, their surviving U-boats long gone to bases farther north. Nevertheless, the U.S. Navy was concerned that U-boats posed a serious new threat—to New York City and other major East Coast cities. Allied intelligence had revealed sketchy information about a German plan to dispatch U-boats armed with V-1 flying bombs to waters… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 20

A Brief Illustrated History of Navy Victory Markings

Monday, April 20, 2020 1:56 AM


The taking of trophies and the building of memorials to mark military victories has been common throughout the history of warfare. The English word “trophy” is derived from the ancient Greek tropaion, which was a display of captured weapons, armor and standards commemorating the defeat of an enemy. Warriors took great pride in the trophies representing their unit’s triumphs in battle but many also wanted to record their individual victories over a foe. Headhunting and scalping were perhaps the most gruesome means for exhibiting defeated enemies. A less grisly practice in some cultures was to get special tattoos after vanquishing… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 16

The Life & Service of a World War 2 Mine Warfare Sailor. Part 9

Thursday, April 16, 2020 12:01 AM


When we left my grandfather’s ship, the USS Sway (AM-120), it was 14 August 1944. The Sway, an Auk class minesweeper, was off the coast of southern France preparing for Operation Dragoon. Dragoon was the invasion of southern France launched in August 1944 to relieve pressure on Allied Forces fighting in Normandy and Italy. It was hoped the Allies could cut off the Axis forces and defeat them more quickly. Dragoon is not as well known as many other operations of the war and is often criticized because it pulled Allied troops away from areas of heavier fighting and is thought by some to have… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 14

Remembering the Solace

Tuesday, April 14, 2020 7:19 AM


The U.S. Navy’s hospital ships are very much in the news these days. And in a bit of coincidental timeliness, 14 April marks the anniversary of the commissioning of the Navy’s first post–Civil War hospital ship, the USS Solace (AH-2). Commissioned in 1898, she saw service in the Spanish-American War and the early 20th century. Her name and legacy lived on in World War II with the second hospital ship Solace (AH-5), which was present at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, when the Japanese attack on the U.S. fleet brought the nation into the conflict. But back to the… Read the rest of this entry »

Apr 2

Impact of the Writings of Captain Edward L. Beach Sr.

Thursday, April 2, 2020 12:01 AM


Rear Admiral Walter C Ansel, USN (Ret.)

  In this excerpt from his oral history, Read Admiral Ansel tells of how he was profoundly influenced to attend the Naval Academy and pursue a naval career by the writings of Captain Edward L. Beach Sr. — who, along with his son and namesake, is whom the Naval Institute’s headquarters, Beach Hall, is named after. Both Captain Beach Sr. and son Ned Beach were inextricably linked to the Institute throughout its history, and both embodied the Naval Institute ideal encoded in its insignia: the pen and the sword. A 1918 graduate of the Naval Academy, Admiral Ansel served on… Read the rest of this entry »