Dec 7

A Taranto–Pearl Harbor Connection?

Wednesday, December 7, 2016 11:39 AM

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Fairey Swordfish bombers from HMS Illustrious head toward an inferno of antiaircraft fire and burning ships in Robert Taylor's depiction of the raid on the Italian harbor of Taranto. (The Military Gallery, www.militarygallery.com)

On the night of 11 November 1940, Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm aircraft attacked Italian battleships at anchor in the port of Taranto, Italy. On the morning of 7 December 1941, aircraft of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s carrier strike force attacked the battleships and other assets of the U.S. Navy at anchor in Pearl Harbor. Is there a connection between the two attacks?

 
Nov 29

The Hudson River Chain

Tuesday, November 29, 2016 12:27 PM

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Tom Martin (My Dad) 1971

  We sometimes forget our parents were not born adults. They were children and teenagers first, who did silly things. When it comes to my dad, Tom Martin, the man who must follow the arrows in a parking lot, it is hard to imagine him pulling a prank, especially during his U.S. Coast Guard Academy years. Each year at the Coast Guard Academy, the fourth-class (freshman) cadets pull pranks the night before the first home football game. So during my dad’s fourth-class year in 1971, he and some classmates set their sights high. The Coast Guard Academy is home to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 10

The Corps’ Parris Island Museum

Thursday, November 10, 2016 1:31 PM

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Exhibits at the Parris Island Museum include uniforms, weapons, maps, and memorabilia that reveal the Corps' distinguished history from the beginning of the 19th century to the present. (U.S. Marine Corps)

Men who enlist in the Marine Corps east of the Mississippi River and all women joining the Corps must first report to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot at Parris Island, South Carolina, for four hellish months of physical training and conditioning. If they make it through, they emerge as Marines. An important teaching tool there is the Parris Island Museum, where raw recruits—and visiting civilians—can learn about the service’s heritage and the rich history of the island where Marines leave behind civilian life and become warriors. The museum is located in a circa-1951 building that once housed an enlisted recreation… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 7

A Case for Submarine Chasers

Monday, November 7, 2016 12:01 AM

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Pedisich.final.indd

U.S. Navy SC-1–class submarine chasers performed significant services that became an integral part of the Allied effort to win World War I war at sea. They did this by their teamwork incessantly patrolling the eastern European and western United States littorals. At the end of the war, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels reported that 355 wooden submarine chasers had been constructed to implement submarine defensives measures. The 110-foot ships had a crew of two officers and twenty men, one 3-inch gun mount, two .30-caliber machine guns, and one y-gun to project depth charges. The chasers, consisting of three 220-horsepower… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 4

Remembering the Caribsea

Friday, November 4, 2016 12:01 AM

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The nameplate of the motor merchant Caribsea. Photo by the author

Just after midnight on March 11, 1942, 22-year-old Jim Gaskill, second mate of the ore freighter Caribsea, went off watch and turned in for the night. The Caribsea and her crew of 28 had departed Santiago, Cuba, on March 2, and the ship would soon arrive in Norfolk with her valuable cargo of manganese. The freighter had slowed, waiting until daybreak and with it, air cover, to pass Diamond Shoals—which by March 1942 had seen such carnage from German U-boats it had become known as Torpedo Junction. As Gaskill left the bridge, perhaps he gazed out into the darkness toward his… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 1

One Flare, or Two?

Tuesday, November 1, 2016 3:54 PM

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Frank Och's watercolor depicts the wrecked ARIZONA resting on the bottom of  Pearl Harbor. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

As the first attack wave of Japanese bombers and fighters passed over northern Oahu, Commander Mitsuo Fuchida faced a critical decision. Should he fire one signal flare, indicating his aircraft would use the “surprise” attack plan, or two, signaling the “no surprise” plan? To armchair admirals, the answer is obvious; however, the first-wave commander fired two flares. Why he did so and the consequences of his actions are the subject of the lead article in Naval History magazine’s 75th anniversary commemoration of the Pearl Harbor attack. The author of “Commander Fuchida’s Decision,” retired Navy Commander Alan Zimm, won the U.S…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 28

Naval Aviation Oddity: The Butler-Ames Aerocycle

Friday, October 28, 2016 11:32 AM

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The Butler Ames Aerocycle atop a specially-built platform on USS Bagley at the Naval Academy, July 1910. Naval Institute Photo Archive

One afternoon in the summer of 1910, the torpedo boat USS Bagley (TB-24) made her way from the docks at the Naval Academy in Annapolis and made her way down the Severn River to the Chesapeake Bay. Bagley‘s design harkened back to the spar torpedo boats of the Civil War, and had spent many of her days in reserve or as a training ship for the Naval Academy. But today, her mission was different. Today, she carried on her a sign of things to come: Bagley, in a world first for destroyer-type ships, was carrying an airplane on top of… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 21

The Great Mine Barrage

Friday, October 21, 2016 4:18 PM

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Mk 6 mines, with floats attached and resting on box-like anchors, are ready to be dropped from a U.S. minelayer into the North Sea. As each mine went over the stern, another would be raised from below and placed on tracks at the end of the line. (U.S. Official Pictures of the World War)

When the United States entered World War I, the Allies viewed America as the world’s leading industrial power and a vast source of fresh manpower. Much of the U.S. contribution to the naval side of the conflict would be in line with the first view, of the United States as the home of mass production. The best-known examples are the floods of merchant ships, intended to make up for losses to U-boats, and of destroyers and subchasers. Less well known was an imaginative U.S. naval initiative to produce and lay a mine barrier to close off U-boat routes out of… Read the rest of this entry »