Author Archive

Jun 12

The Sinking of the USS President Lincoln, 31 May 1918

Tuesday, June 12, 2018 12:01 AM

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Painting by Fred Dana Marsh, 1920, depicting the ship sinking after she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-90 on 31 May 1918

May 31st marked the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the troop transport USS President Lincoln. Formerly a German ocean liner of the Hamburg-America Line, the Navy had commissioned her in 1917 to ferry young men and equipment over to the Western Front. In 1918, her luck ran out when she was torpedoed by the German submarine SM U-90.  In 1922, her commanding officer at the time of the sinking, Commander P. W. Foote, USN, wrote his remembrances of the fateful day for Proceedings. It is excerpted and illustrated here.

 
Apr 19

Side Glances at Operation Crossroads

Thursday, April 19, 2018 5:21 PM

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USS New York (BB-34) being hosed down by USS ATR-40 after the Baker test.

One of the benefits of digitized archives are the ability to call up pieces of the past that are physically apart from each other and see them all together in context. This ability to make connections can often lead to interesting glances not shown in context together before. Scattered throughout the Naval Institute’s roughly half-million photographic subject files are many that deal with Operation Crossroads in 1946. These famous nuclear tests, whose iconic images of mushroom clouds exploding out of an over the Pacific Ocean would cement the awesome destructive power of nuclear weapons in the minds of the world… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 29

Flying the Rubber Cows

Thursday, March 29, 2018 10:54 AM

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A kite balloon, viewed from the deck of a battleship ca. World War I. Naval Institute Photo Archive

This article by Alan L. Morse originally appeared in the February 1984 issue of Proceedings. What’s in a nickname? Today’s Goodyear Blimp was named after the fat, fictitious British Army Colonel Blimp. But one of its ancestors – the World War I kite balloon – was whimsically christened the “rubber cow,” and went to sea tethered to a “tin can.” They were the least glamorous of World War I pilots. Their aircraft were unlovely, unromantic, uncomfortable, and unpowered. They fought no aerial duels with the Red Baron or skimmed the trees on reconnaissance missions. These pilots never fired a shot… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 1

Rocket Ships: A Pictorial Overview

Thursday, March 1, 2018 11:43 AM

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Resembling a fireworks display, a five-inch rocket is launched from the USS Clarion River (LSMR-409) on a night mission.

Experience by British, American, and Allied forces during the early parts of the Second World War underscored the need for effective close fire support and beach bombardment. It soon became clear the most effective method for providing this much-needed capability was not to develop specialized platforms for the task, but to modify the ships and craft that already had the capability to get close-in to shore in medias res. The answer was landing craft. Much as the Soviets had done with their Katyusha on land, the British Royal Navy and the U.S. Navy began modifying their existing and planned landing… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 15

The “Wide Wide World” of War

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 8:47 AM

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USS Mississippi (EAG-128)  Fires a Terrier surface-to-air missile during at-sea tests.

Viewers tuning in to NBC’s acclaimed 90-minute documentary series “Wide Wide World” on their luxurious 21-inch television screens on Sunday, 13 May 1956, were bound to be fascinated by that week’s program. The synopsis in the TV Guide promised audiences a first in the history of television — a live demonstrations of American firepower: The story of America’s “Power for Peace” will be told explosively by “Wide Wide World” with such items as the detonation of two simulated atomic bombs, the shooting down of a B-17 bomber and the firing of guided missiles. The atomic bomb simulations will be stage by the Army at Fort… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 27

Death on the River

Thursday, April 27, 2017 4:48 PM

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Sultana at Helena, Arkansas, on April 26, 1865, a day before her destruction. She was cowded with about 2,222 people, a number that included 100 paying passengers (men, women, and children), a crew of 85, and 22 guards.

Today marks the 152nd anniversary of the explosion and sinking of the steamboat Sultana on the Mississippi River that claimed the lives of more than 1,800 recently-freed Union POWs packed on her decks for the voyage home — more than the number killed when the RMS Titanic sank in 1912. An excerpt from Noah Andre Trudeau’s 2009 Naval History article about the disaster is reprinted below. The full article may be viewed here.

 
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 »

 
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 »

 
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