Archive for the 'Navy' Category

Dec 3

From the Archive: Leonardo and the Airship

Thursday, December 3, 2015 12:01 AM



Paging through Naval Institute’s photo archive, one can come across some unexpected and surprising images — ones where you know there has to be some sort of story behind them. Such is the case of the image featured here. The unusual scene shows the Italian airship M.6 floating over the upturned hull of the sunken battleship Leonardo da Vinci with an angle indicator attached to her rudder. How did such a bizarre scene come about? The story is recounted in a 1921 Proceedings article by Lieut. Colonel A. Guidoni of the Italian Navy, in which is excerpted here below: “The night… Read the rest of this entry »

Dec 1

Old Ironsides

Tuesday, December 1, 2015 12:01 AM



In the U.S. Naval Institute’s archives I recently found a publicity brochure for Old Ironsides tucked away in a box. Premiering in 1926, the film dramatically conveys the story of the USS Constitution at the Battle of Tripoli. Filmed in magnascope, an early version of widescreen, it follows the adventures of a young man—known only as “the boy”—desperate to join the the Constitution‘s crew. Along the way he is shanghaied, finds love, and gets captured by pirates before ultimately joining the heavy frigate for the infamous battle at Tripoli. Enjoy the climatic battle scene here: Profits from the opening… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 17

From Our Archives-Tattletales

Tuesday, November 17, 2015 12:01 AM


Soviety Minsk 117 with Kiev 060 in background, from the deck of the USS South Carolina in the Mediterranean, Fall 1978

The United States Naval Institute has the largest private collection of sea service photographs in the world including some rare Cold War era images. A sizable number of photos of Soviet ships & submarines are within the collection. A sampling of images of Soviet vessels shadowing U.S. Navy ships are below. An example of a war fought without a front line.            

Nov 16

The Ubiquitous 5-inch/38

Monday, November 16, 2015 12:01 AM


A 5-inch/38-caliber gun in a twin mount on board the USS New Jersey (BB-62) fires on a North Korean target in 1951. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

Designed to fulfill the needs of battleships as well as destroyers, the 5-inch/38-caliber dual-purpose gun became one of World War II’s best regarded and most versatile naval weapons. It was the conflict’s iconic U.S. destroyer gun as well as the Navy’s workhorse on board capital ships, cruisers, and auxiliaries. Many more 5-inch/38s were made than any other World War II medium-caliber naval gun. In the 1920s, the Navy used different guns to deal with aircraft and with surface targets. U.S. battleships and some destroyers were armed with high-velocity 5-inch/51s (the second number refers the length of the barrel in multiples… Read the rest of this entry »

Nov 6

U.S. Navy Faced Challenges Protecting America’s New Sailor in Chief

Friday, November 6, 2015 12:01 AM



The United States Navy faced a new and very different set of challenges in protecting President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who loved the sea, spending more days afloat than any American president. It was not uncommon for America’s new sailor in chief and his crew of amateur sailors to take to the sea in a small sailboat, sometimes for days at a time. He would skillfully—and with a great deal of delight—evade his Navy and Secret Service guards, sailing his schooner, Amberjack II, into secluded coves and narrow reaches where Navy and Coast Guard vessels—FDR called them “our wagging tail”–could not… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 29

Anatomy of a Tragedy: The Sinking of the USS S-4

Thursday, October 29, 2015 12:01 AM


S-4 washington

At 3:50 P.M. on the afternoon of December 17, 1927, the commandant of the Boston Navy Yard received a flash radio message from the U.S. Coast Guard Destroyer Paulding: “Rammed and sank unknown submarine off Wood End, Provincetown.” Within minutes, the worst fears of many were realized when it was confirmed that the submarine was the USS S-4. Though rescue efforts immediately began in earnest, it was too late for the 39 crewmen and a civilian observer aboard S-4. Most had already perished; six men trapped in the torpedo compartment would not be rescued in time. While the events that… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 26

On the Edge

Monday, October 26, 2015 4:17 PM


Pictured in 1940, the tender Holland and submarine Sargo (far right) were among the U.S. Navy vessels to reach Fremantle in March 1942.

  An adapted excerpt from the new Naval Institute Press book Fremantle’s Submarines: How Allied Submarines and Western Australians Helped to Win the War in the Pacific.   It was against this backdrop of fear and anticipation that the first American submarines arrived at Fremantle. By 10 March 1942, ten U.S. submarines had reached the port, each carrying crews with their own stories of near-disaster. Among the most demoralized was Lieutenant Commander Tyrell Dwight Jacobs, commander of the USS Sargo (SS-188). Shortly after he arrived at Fremantle on 5 March, Jacobs told a senior officer, “I’ve had it. I want… Read the rest of this entry »

Oct 15

Navy on the Western Front: The 14″ Railway Guns in WWI

Thursday, October 15, 2015 4:00 AM


battery firing

With a clanking rumble and puffs of steam and smoke, the U.S. Navy rolled into Paris in September, 1918. Word of the Navy’s coming had been telegraphed beforehand, and jubilant and curious crowds gathered not on the Seine, but at the railways stations, to witness the spectacle: the Navy had arrived in its own specially-built train, trailing at its end a new gun to rival the Germans’ terrible Paris-Geschütz that had been lobbing death on the city since March. The effectiveness of the German long-range guns on the Western Front (those guns manned by their own German naval crews) convinced… Read the rest of this entry »

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