Jul 7

Let’s Talk about Goofballs and Pep Pills

Thursday, July 7, 2016 12:01 AM


U.S. Naval Institute

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 »

Jul 6

A ‘Rough-House’

Wednesday, July 6, 2016 4:27 PM



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 »

Jul 1

John Bradley’s Account of the Iwo Flag Raising

Friday, July 1, 2016 2:11 PM


Pharmacist's Mate Second Class John Bradley points to one of the Iwo Jima flag raisers he claimed was himself. (U.S. Naval Institute Photo Archive)

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 »

Jun 30

Ships of the U.S. Air Force

Thursday, June 30, 2016 12:01 AM


USAFS General Hoyt S. Vadenberg

Though the United States took a keen interest in the development of ballistic missile technology after the close of World War II, it was not until the Soviet launch of the satellite Sputnik in October 1957 that a new urgency in the matter. Within a matter of months the Navy launched its own satellite (Vanguard 1) into orbit, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration was created, and spurred the United States Air Force to invest in a series of ships. Since 1950 the Air Force had exclusive jurisdiction over the Long Range Proving Grounds — the Atlantic and Pacific Missile… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 29

Salty Talk: Posh

Wednesday, June 29, 2016 12:01 AM


Cartoon by Eric Smith. U.S. Naval Institute

Many have heard the term “posh,” used to mean something fancy or luxurious — swanky. The word has its origin in the operations of the Pacific and Orient Steamship Company of nearly a century-and-a-half ago. The P. & O. line made voyages principally between England and British Empire ports on the rim of the Indian Ocean and in the Far East. Its steamers traveled south across the Bay of Biscay, east through the Mediterranean, south again through the Suez Canal and Red Sea, and then fanned out across the Indian Ocean to such places as Bombay, Calcutta, Trincomalee, Singapore, and… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 28

Our Readers

Tuesday, June 28, 2016 12:01 AM



The best compliments are often the most unexpected. When a member or reader lets us know what we do here at USNI is valued it puts a smile on everyone’s face. Below is an email Mr. Keith Quilter sent us on 1 June 2016 that we loved so much we decided to share it. I have just finished watching the video at the end of the description of “Harnessing the Sky” the biography of Frederick ‘Trap’ Trapnell by his son and a grand-daughter. I was so completely fascinated by the presentation given by the co-authors and the memories I have… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 20

A Gun to Counter the Dive Bomber

Monday, June 20, 2016 12:01 AM


A gun crew practices on a quadruple 1.1-inch mount at Dam Neck Training Center Virginia. Note the large, cumbersome magazines. (National Archives)

The quadruple 1.1-inch machine cannon, affectionately known as the “Chicago Piano,” was the first medium-range antiaircraft gun adopted by the U.S. Navy.1 Engineered and built by the Naval Gun Factory during the Great Depression, it was designed specifically to combat dive bombers. The four-barreled weapon fired a one-pound explosive shell that was fused to explode on contact with the thin doped fabric that covered the wings of the era’s biplanes. The resulting shrapnel would tear through the wing, causing loss of control. The need to provide the Fleet with a new antiaircraft gun became evident in the late 1920s in… Read the rest of this entry »

Jun 16

Cruise of the USS U-111

Thursday, June 16, 2016 4:11 PM


U-111 flying the American flag and German ensigns. Courtesy F A. Daubin. Naval Institute Photo Archive

“In 1919,” Rear Admiral F. A. Daubin reflected in 1957, “Diesel engine designing and production in our country was in swaddling clothes, barely creeping. Trucks, power plants, and railroads equipped with Diesels were not even a dream, and our Diesel-powered submarines were not sufficiently trustworthy to go to sea without the services of a nearby tender.” At the time of which he wrote of, Daubin was the assistant to the captain in charge of the submarine section of the Chief of Naval Operations. He suggested to his commander that “the Germans had good engines in their submarines. They cruised all… Read the rest of this entry »