Apr 21

‘Subdue, Seize, and Take . . .’

Thursday, April 21, 2016 2:59 PM

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NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER
Captain Thomas Truxtun set the precedent for a young U.S. Navy by capturing the French frigate L’INSURGENTE during the Quasi-War with France.

On 9 February 1799, the U.S. frigate CONSTELLATION was cruising in Caribbean waters when a lookout reported an unidentified ship just over the horizon. Captain Thomas Truxtun ordered his ship to come about, then went below to record in his log: “At noon saw a sail standing to westward, gave chase. I take her for a ship of war.” The pursuit continued for about an hour with the CONSTELLATION gradually gaining. Drawing closer, it became apparent that the other ship was a heavily armed frigate. A lesser captain with a lesser crew might have decided to look for an easier… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 21

Surprise in the Archive: A Distinctive ‘do in ’62

Thursday, April 21, 2016 12:01 AM

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A distinctive 'do. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

Sometimes in the routine work of the photo archives, you come across something surprising. In this case, in the process of sleuthing out information enough to adequately describe a group of uncaptioned and undated photographs from the U. S. Coast Guard Academy revealed a surprise amidst a crowd gathered aboard USCGC Eagle (WIX-327). Though one man’s face was hidden, his very distinctive hairdo unveiled the context of the otherwise an uncaptioned scene. That hair was recognized as belonging to President John F. Kennedy. Armed with that knowledge, the story of the photo quickly unrolled itself. It was warm and cloudless… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 20

Salty Talk: “Over a Barrel”

Wednesday, April 20, 2016 12:01 AM

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"Kissing the Gunner's Daughter."

In previous “talks” we have mentioned the seagoing practice of flogging as the principal form of punishment, and how the recipients of such punishment usually were triced up in a spread-eagle position to receive it. Occasionally, some skippers of men-of-war preferred to have the men bent over a cannon to receive their lashes. This position was more commonly used, however, for the ships’ boys and young student officers (midshipmen) when they required discipline. Sometimes, they got the “cat,” but, at least in the U.S. Navy by the mid-19th century, a “boy’s cat” or “colt” — a somewhat less lethal device… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 15

I Still Hear Her Scream

Friday, April 15, 2016 12:01 AM

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NADC-FD-00004---image-of-1968-plane-crash_72dpi

Morning colors has just been played and Old Glory streams from the flagstaff. The morning muster formations are breaking up and the enlisted men and officers are heading for their duty stations. It’s Tuesday and I have a meeting with my boss to discuss a proposed air show that we are considering for Armed Forces Day. It is May 14, 1968, and the Vietnam War is raging in southeast Asia and enraging our nation. The consensus of the senior officers is that we should put on an aerial acrobatic display for the local community as part of the annual commemoration…. Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 14

Taming Atalanta

Thursday, April 14, 2016 12:01 AM

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Atalanta alongside Ericsson, New London, Connecticut, October, 1926. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

Hail thou: but I with heavy face and feet Turn homeward and am gone out of thine eyes. — Algernon Charles Swinburne, “Atalanta in Calydon” Atalanta of Greek mythology was a swift-footed huntress who, unwilling to be tethered down by marriage, only agreed to marry he who could outrun her in a footrace — but those whom she overtook in the race, she killed. But Melanion, who was “so peerless in love of toil,” knew he could not beat her by speed alone, and he finally bested her by using her own temptation against her. Three golden apples were her… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 11

Out of the Jaws of Victory

Monday, April 11, 2016 12:01 AM

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Highly decorated for his role in gaining victory over the Japanese at Midway, Captain Miles Browning was defeated by his most implacable enemy--himself. (National Archives)

Like a character in classical tragedy, blessed by the gods with nearly every advantage, Miles Browning also possessed fatal flaws that ultimately brought him down. Endowed with striking looks, high intelligence, slide-rule brain, useful marital connections, exceptional flying ability and the patronage of America’s favorite admiral, Browning seemed perfectly poised to achieve high command as aviation emerged at the cutting edge of naval warfare. And yet, not until his retirement was it deemed safe to raise Browning to flag rank. Historian Samuel E. Morison, who knew him, called Browning “one of the most irascible officers ever to earn a fourth… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Apr 8

Survey Results: What is The Greatest Warship of All Time?

Friday, April 8, 2016 12:01 AM

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USS Constitution is shown in a 1931 photograph shortly after her recommissioning in July of that year after an extensive restoration. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

This is cross-posted from USNI News. USNI News asked its readers, “What is the greatest warship of all time and why?” Though what makes a warship great is highly subjective, our readers offered their education and expertise to put forth their ideas as to what the answer to that question should be. And with nearly 900 reader-generated answers and more than 26,000 votes, the results are in.

 
Apr 7

Mine Over Matter

Thursday, April 7, 2016 12:01 AM

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rg1024_cartoon_sea_mine

On the evening of 14 April 1988, Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) was steaming though the Persian Gulf when her forward lookout spotted several ominous spherical canisters with floating on the surface: sea mines! Though the crew managed to stop the ship in time to avoid the ones they saw — it was one that was not spotted lurking just below the surface with which guided-missile frigate collided. 253 pounds of TNT detonated, blowing a huge hole in Roberts’ hull, flooding several compartments, and sending several sailors to the hospital. The mines were identified as being put down by the previous… Read the rest of this entry »