In an era of computers, it is hard to imagine research of any kind without them? How did the Navy develop new ships before computer simulation? The answer: the experiments done at a model basin. These facilities allow scientists to build ships and airplanes and then put them through real-life conditions to determine how well the crafts will survive. The Navy’s first model basin was the Experimental Model Basin (EMB), built on the Washington Navy Yard in 1899 under the command of David Watson Taylor. The basin was 14 feet deep, 42 feet wide, and 470 feet long, with a… Read the rest of this entry »
This week marks the 47th anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission, where astronauts Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” became the first humans to step foot on the moon and astronaut Michael Collins piloted the command module to and from their destination. Launching from Cape Kennedy on July 16th, 1969, the astronauts splashed down in the North Pacific Ocean on July 24th when they were retrieved by helicopter and brought aboard the aircraft carrier USS Hornet (CVS-12) for a successful conclusion of their mission. But then began three weeks of quarantine. At the time, no one could predict with absolute certainty… Read the rest of this entry »
On a quiet scientific survey in the fall of 2014, one of the mysteries of the U.S. Navy was solved. The discovery of a deteriorating hulk of a ship in just 189 feet of water, 27 miles outside of San Francisco’s Golden Gate, resolved the question of what had happened and where lay the wreck of the USS Conestoga (AT-54), one of only 18 U.S. Navy ships that disappeared, never to be seen again in the years before World War II.
Please enjoy a small selection of Maryland Lighthouses from the U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive. Like those from Virginia, many have guarded the coast since the beginning of our nation. President John Quincy Adams appointed Concord Point Lighthouse’s first keeper, John O’Neill, on November 3, 1827. The O’Neill family continued serving in that capacity on and off until the light was automated in 1919, eliminating the need for a keeper. The Coast Guard maintained control until 1975, when the lighthouse was decommissioned. The Friends of Concord Point Lighthouse formed in 1979 to save and restore the historic structure, which… Read the rest of this entry »
Warships are complex and sophisticated tools; understanding and communicating what makes a difference to their quality, capability and value for money are difficult tasks. An example of how it might be done is the way air forces have used the shorthand of 3rd, 4th, and 5th generation fighter aircraft. This post proposes a system of classifying warships by generation. The purpose is twofold: first, to enable navies to more easily and clearly communicate with policy makers and the general public about current and future capability. The case for a future surface combatant is not proved simply by a label, but… Read the rest of this entry »
Facing a rising epidemic of drug abuse in the 1960s, the U.S. Navy responded forcefully and dramatically. In addition to opening treatment and rehabilitation centers — even one on a converted barracks ship in Vietnam — the Bureau of Naval Personnel (NavPers) produced a variety of informational pamphlets to combat the terrible toll drug use and addiction were having on service members. Some of these booklets have found their way into the Naval Institute’s archive, and a selection are shown in this post. Let’s Talk about Goofballs and Pep Pills (Including Tranquilizers and LSD) by Lindsay R. Curtis, M.D. was… Read the rest of this entry »
In the 1908 Lucky Bag, the college yearbook of U.S. Naval Academy graduates, one of the midshipmen was described by his classmates as “a black-eyed, rosy-cheeked, noisy Irishman who loves a rough-house.” This “noisy Irishman” was Thomas Cassin Kinkaid, who in coming to Annapolis was following in his father’s footsteps. His seagoing career began with Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” as it made the historic voyage around the world, showing the American flag and proclaiming U.S. naval power in the new century. As befitting a genuine “rough-houser,” Kinkaid spent most of his subsequent career in naval gunnery, with sea tours… Read the rest of this entry »
In preparing each issue of Naval History, one of the staff’s regular stops is the National Archives in College Park, Maryland. During a visit there several years ago I came across an account by Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class John Bradley of his role in the famous Iwo Jima flag raising on Mount Suribachi—the subject of Joe Rosenthal’s immortal, iconic photograph, which was the basis for the Marine Corps War Memorial. When news broke questioning Bradley’s role in the flag raising—and presence in the photo—I remembered that account, the transcript of a Navy interview with the corpsman recorded less than three… Read the rest of this entry »