Archive for the 'Navy' Category

Feb 10

Extraordinary American

Wednesday, February 10, 2016 3:50 PM


Jack Schiff selflessly dedicated himself to the Navy and related organization even after his death in 1998. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

In many ways, John J. “Jack” Schiff typified that once very large and now rapidly dwindling group of extraordinary Americans that Tom Brokaw so aptly characterized as “the greatest generation.” Like so many of those brave souls in those troubled times when Nazis and Fascists and other monsters roamed the earth, Jack left a promising business in Cincinnati to don his nation’s uniform in March 1942. Because it was not in Jack Schiff’s character to tell others of his achievements, we cannot know the full extent of his contributions to the war effort and can only piece together his service… Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 21

The Apia Cyclone of 1889

Thursday, January 21, 2016 12:01 AM


The SMS Adler beached and laying on her side. Note the huge holes in her hull from being dashed against the rocks. Naval History and Heritage Command.

As various European empires and the American government expanded their colonial interests across the Pacific in the late 19th century, it was inevitable that, sooner or later, they would come to blows over what would otherwise have been a local matter. It began as a political crisis in the island chain of Samoa. The governments of the United States and Great Britain, and the German Empire had, in a sense, picked sides in a fight for the kingship of the islands, as Robert Louis Stevenson would defty lay out in his A Footnote to History: Eight Years of Trouble in Samoa…. Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 15

Defusing a Crisis

Friday, January 15, 2016 12:01 AM


After playing a key role during the Cuban Missile Crisis, Elmo Zumwalt Jr., at age 49, became the youngest four-star admiral in U. S. naval history. He passed away in 2000. (U.S. NAVAL INSTITUTE PHOTO ARCHIVE)

Probably the closest this nation has come to engaging in nuclear war was during the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962. After U.S. reconnaissance planes spotted Soviet nuclear missiles being set up in Cuba—not far from our shores—the stage was set for a tense international confrontation. The public face of the situation in the United States was President John F. Kennedy, who addressed the nation on television to lay out the plan for a naval quarantine—in effect, a blockade to prevent further missile shipments into Cuba. One of the actors behind the scenes during those dramatic days was Captain Elmo… Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 14

A Story in a Spoon

Thursday, January 14, 2016 12:01 AM



“Our country is at WAR,” read the memorandum to the employees of Buffalo, New York’s, Republic Metalware Company shortly after the United States declared war against Germany in April 1917. “Some of our boys are in the Army or the Navy; others will go when called for. The rest of us—women and older men—will fight the enemy in Buffalo. How shall we do this? “War is not only a series of battles between armies or fleets. It is a conflict in which the whole strength of a nation . . . fights the whole strength of another nation. Everyone helps… Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 13

Salty Talk

Wednesday, January 13, 2016 12:01 AM



As a child, I can remember being told to “mind my Ps and Qs” at times when I was not being on my best manners or when I attempted to intruded on others’ conversation. I had not the foggiest idea of what my Ps and Qs were, but I had come to understand what was wanted. “Mind your Ps and Qs” comes from the days when sailors, newly arrived in port after a long voyage, gathered their wages and headed for their favorite waterfront tavern. Tavern keepers, rather than require payment each time a tar ordered another tankard of ale,… Read the rest of this entry »

Jan 5

The First Surface Action

Tuesday, January 5, 2016 12:01 AM


Action Report

U.S. victories were few and far between during the early months of the Pacific war, especially for the hard-pressed and understrength U.S. Asiatic Fleet, which along with other Allied forces was attempting to stem Japan’s conquest of the Dutch East Indies. Nevertheless, four Asiatic Fleet CLEMSON-class destroyers share the honor of winning the first surface action of the Pacific contest, a tactical victory that was of little strategic importance. In the early hours of 24 January 1942, the flush-deck four-pipers attacked a dozen Japanese transports assembled off Balikpapan, Borneo, prior to the invasion of the oil center, sinking four of… Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 29

The Launch of Navy Radar

Tuesday, December 29, 2015 10:41 AM


The frame just above the pilothouse of the USS NEW YORK is the antenna for the XAF, the prototype radar set developed by the Naval Research Laboratory. Installed in 1938, it was the first to be used on board a U.S. warship. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

The rectangular frame-like object seemingly fastened above the pilothouse of the USS New York (BB-34), above, wasn’t an oversized mattress spring or an early-model solar panel. It was the antenna for the XAF, the first radar set installed on board a major U.S. warship. Successful tests of the new device—including three months of 20-hour-a-day operation for aircraft detection, navigation, and gunnery practice—convinced the Navy that radar would be a godsend. The awkward-looking, 17-foot-square antenna could reliably detect aircraft as far as 100 nautical miles out and spot surface ships 15 miles away. And it could track projectiles and falling shot… Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 14

German Admirals on Trial

Monday, December 14, 2015 12:01 AM


Did famed U-boat commander Grand Admiral Karl Dönitz escape justice at Nuremberg? (National Archives)

The 22 German leaders who stood trial at Nuremberg 70 years ago included Grand Admirals Erich Raeder and Karl Dönitz. In addition to conventional war crimes, for which they were separately charged, the admirals were accused of engaging in aggressive warfare. Conceived in an effort to encourage nations to renounce war, the unprecedented aggressive warfare charges were criticized by some as ex post facto law. Having participated in a prewar conference during which German Führer Adolf Hitler made known his war plans, and having later recommended to Hitler the invasion of Norway, Raeder was heavily exposed by the aggressive warfare… Read the rest of this entry »

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