Oct 2

Graham E. Martin-In His Own Words

Friday, October 2, 2015 8:17 AM

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The Golden Thirteen

I often comment to friends and coworkers that the hardest part of writing for me is deciding what to write. Unlike most college students, I preferred it when professors chose the topic. After all, if a semester of research and writing will make a student hate a topic, why pick something you enjoy? After explaining the difficulty I was having in finding something different for my next blog post, a coworker suggested looking through the voluminous USNI collection of oral histories. Not wanting to choose the famous sailors that are often highlighted, I decided to see if there were any… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Oct 1

The Destruction of the S.M.S. Cormoran and the First U.S. Shot Fired in the First World War

Thursday, October 1, 2015 4:00 AM

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Cormoran

As strange as it may seem, the very first shot fired by the United States in the First World War did not occur anywhere near the battlefields of Europe. Instead, as Commander Owen Bartlett, USN related in the following excerpts from his August, 1931 Proceedings article, the shot was made nearly half a world away in the harbor of Guam.   “The first violent hostile act of the war between the United States and Germany probably was the destruction of the S.M.S. Cormoran by her own commander in Apra Harbor, Guam. To those actively participating, the episode loomed large in interest,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 18

Monument of the Month: Granite, Old and New

Friday, September 18, 2015 6:00 AM

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Seal-Greenbuy.

The old NSS Annapolis, otherwise known as the Naval Communications Station Washington, D.C. Transmitter, at Greenbury Point on the Severn River to the West of Annapolis, is not a place where one might expect to begin a discussion on monuments. But sometimes the most curious and intriguing of things are found in overlooked and unexpected places. The three red-and-white radio towers on the wooded peninsula, once used to communicate with submerged submarines are the most prominent reminders of what was once a bustling and active radio transmitting facility. Though it is still a gunnery range and part of the NSA… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 16

Cruisers: Interwar Roles and Limitations

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 11:52 AM

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Friedman-F4-SO-15

An excerpt from “The Fleet’s Ambiguous, Versatile Warships,” by Norman Friedman, in the October issue of Naval History magazine With the end of World War I, U.S. naval policy turned from concentration on Europe to concentration on the Far East and Japan. Even so, supporters of continued U.S. naval construction exploited widespread anti-British feeling in the United States by suggesting there was a U.S.-British naval rivalry. This was despite the fact that the United States and Great Britain were given naval parity in the 1922 Washington Naval Treaty while the far more likely enemy, Japan, was given the short end… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 11

The VT Fuze: The Other Secret Weapon of World War II

Friday, September 11, 2015 9:16 AM

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USNI VT fuze.

As a young officer, then-Lieutenant Commander (later Admiral) W.H. P. Blandy, USN, had a keen interest in gunnery. Writing for Proceedings in 1920 (“Director Fire a Century Ago”) and 1925 (“Possible Improvements in our Gunnery Training”), LCDR Blandy understood well the history of fire control and what could be done to improve its effectiveness. Ever forward-thinking, Blandy noted elsewhere in 1925 of what a remarkable device a fuze that would detonate based on its proximity to the target would be. The key would be to find a way to trigger the shell to that its fragmentation pattern would be effective,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Sep 3

Target Practice!

Thursday, September 3, 2015 8:00 AM

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img074

Anyone who has had the pleasure (or should I say frustration) of searching through an archive knows you never know what you are going find. Looking through box #15 in the USNI Archives I found a unique series of photos featuring the ex-Iowa. Seeing the caption “ex” is perhaps the reason I stopped to look closer. The USS Iowa (BB-4) was originally commissioned in June 1897 and saw action in the Spanish-American War. She then spent time with the Pacific Squadron, the North Atlantic Fleet, and the South Atlantic Squadron before being decommissioned in March 1919. She was renamed Coast… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 27

Monument of the Month: The Naval Academy Skyhawk

Thursday, August 27, 2015 6:00 AM

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A4D-2 Skyhawk

One chilly December night in 1976, nearly the entire Naval Academy Cass of 1980 gathered in front of the Halsey Field House, dressed in their white works and sweats. It was the week of the Army-Navy Game in Philadelphia, and spirits were running high after the 38-10 trouncing the team had given the Army’s squad. They were a class with a purpose. The object of their mission: the A4D-1 Skyhawk on display by Worden Field. The Skyhawk was a high-visibility target, having been placed by the parade grounds specifically for its visibility. One midshipman produced a saw, and soon the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Aug 18

‘The Stern Hit the Water with a Jar’

Tuesday, August 18, 2015 9:53 AM

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Literally a flying aircraft carrier, the USS Macon (ZRS-5) featured a hangar that accommodated four scout planes.

For the first time since 2009, undersea explorers, with support from the NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, today are investigating the secret wreck site of the U.S. Navy airship Macon (ZRS-5). Remote-controlled vehicles from Robert Ballard’s exploration vessel Nautilus are mapping the site, located within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and evaluating the condition of the remains of the airship and her F9C-2 Sparrowhawk scout planes. The future of the Navy’s ambitious rigid-airship program was uncertain even before the 785-foot Macon crashed on the night of 12 February 1935. The USS Shenandoah (ZR-1) had gone down in 1925,… Read the rest of this entry »