Nov 8

This Day in History: The Trent Affair

Thursday, November 8, 2018 12:01 AM

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Trent affair engraving

November 8 marks the anniversary of the Trent Affair of 1861. During the opening months of the Civil War, the U.S. Navy stopped the British mail steamer RMS Trent and seized two Confederate diplomats bound for England in the hope of negotiating diplomatic recognition for the secessionist states. The Trent Affair itself threatened to achieve exactly that and brought the United States and Great Britain close to war. Author James D. Hill wrote extensively of the Trent Affair and one of its main players—Captain Chalres Wilkes, U.S. Navy—in the July 1931 issue of Proceedings. It is excerpted here.

 
Nov 6

Damage Control on the USS Houston (CL-81)

Tuesday, November 6, 2018 8:24 AM

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RADM George H. Miller

In this selection, future RADM George H. Miller recounts the torpedoing of the USS Houston (CL-81) in October of 1944, off the coast of Formosa, Japan. Miller, then a damage control officer, describes a harrowing attack, leaving the ship severely damaged and flooding rapidly. While assessing the damage, Miller determined the ship had “more water on board in comparison with our displacement than any other ship that survived in World War II.” Miller’s early years in the Navy included service in the USS California (BB-44), Tuscaloosa (CA-37), Zane (DD-337), Goff (DD-247), Gilmer (DD-233), St. Louis (DD-233), and Houston (CL-81). Miller was XO of the Houston the latter period of the war. Later tours were:… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Nov 1

100 Years Ago In USN LTA

Thursday, November 1, 2018 12:01 AM

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North Sea LTA (U.S. Naval Institute Archive)

The following is reprinted with permissions from The Noon Balloon. The late LTAS guru Dr. Dale Topping lamented that in any given book or publication about LTA, at least one photo will always be mis-identified. We often offer gently worded guidance to well meaning LTA-inclusive media to help over previous hiccups, but we are respectful, since we too have to recruit from the human race, and allow too many typos to count. While we LTA nuts realize the photo contains neither a seat nor a depth charge, we held off telling the U.S. Naval Institute it is a North Sea,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 31

Naval Superstitions – A Sailor’s Antiquated Guide to Avoiding Bad Luck

Wednesday, October 31, 2018 9:55 AM

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An eerie glow winks out from diving helmets aboard the USS Escape (ARS-6), serving as Jack-O'-Lanterns for the ship.

It’s that time of year once again! Where children and adults alike dress up, go to fun parties, and probably eat far too much candy. It’s also a time of spooky stories and superstitions, which is what I decided to research for my dive into naval history this month. Growing up in Wisconsin, sailors and maritime life was not something familiar to me. Most of my impressions of sailors came from movies, television, and books, and one theme always stuck out more than any other: they were just a little bit spooky! There always seemed to be an air of… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 26

Alfa Foxtrot 586: Reunion with the Russian Fishing Trawler Captain Who Saved Them

Friday, October 26, 2018 12:01 AM

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The 'Mys Synyavin' Soviet fishing trawler. (Archive Photo)

Forty years ago, at 14:30 on 26 October 1978, a U.S. Navy P-3C Orion aircraft was forced to ditch at sea west of the Aleutian Islands in the north Pacific. The mission—Alfa Foxtrot 586—was a Cold War antisubmarine warfare patrol off the Kamchatka Peninsula. A propeller overspeed problem cascaded into a series of emergencies that forced the pilots to ditch the aircraft in heavy seas. Of the 15-man crew, 13 survived the ditching, but only 10 endured the frigid ordeal of nearly 20 hours in life rafts in the frigid open ocean. They were rescued by a Soviet fishing trawler,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 23

The WEST-PAC Cruise From Hell

Tuesday, October 23, 2018 12:01 AM

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Fire on the USS Ranger on 2 November 1983 (Courtesy of Carlos C. Castellanos via NavSource)

I enlisted in the U.S. Navy on my 17th birthday. Within four months I finished basic training, graduated from data processing school and reported aboard the USS Ranger (CV-61), an aircraft carrier home ported out of San Diego, California. The ship was scheduled to deploy on a Western Pacific cruise (WEST-PAC). The “itinerary” included 12 fantastic port calls. It was so impressive that one would have thought that I was stationed aboard the Queen Elizabeth cruise ship, instead of an aircraft carrier. On the fateful day of 15 July 1983, it was time for the ship to depart. The ship… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 18

Day 5- March 21- Tinian

Thursday, October 18, 2018 12:01 AM

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IMG_0444

Lieutenant Leroy Fadem recently revisited sites in the Pacific where he saw action in the Navy during the tumultuous years of the War in the Pacific over 70 years ago. This is a journal of that recent trip as kept by his son, Steven Fadem, who accompanied Lt. Fadem on that journey of rediscovery. Most of you know I serve on the Governing Board of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, an organization created at the end of WWII by Einstein, Fermi and other ”Manhattan Project” scientists who were concerned about the potential consequences of their work. As noted in our… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 16

ACTION REPORT: HMAS Australia off Luzon

Tuesday, October 16, 2018 10:38 AM

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The heavy cruiser HMAS Australia in late August 1942. (Naval History and Heritage Command)

In October 1944 near the Philippine island of Leyte, Japan unleashed a powerful, unforeseen weapon against enemy warships—the kamikaze. During the next few months, the heavy cruiser HMAS Australia, received more than her share of attention from the deadly suicide planes. According to Australian sources, the cruiser became the first Allied ship hit by a kamikaze when on 21 October a D3A “Val” bomber struck her foremast, killing 7 officers—including her commanding officer—and 23 sailors. (Other sources deny the attack was a preplanned suicide attack.) That was just a taste of what was in store for the Australia during the January 1945 operation… Read the rest of this entry »