Apr 4

100 Years of U.S. Coast Guard Aviation

Monday, April 4, 2016 10:22 AM

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1926

In honor of the 100th Anniversary of U.S. Coast Guard Aviation, we present its history through photos. Lieutenant Elmer Stone arrives at the Naval Aviation School at Pensacola on 1 April, an event the service recognizes as the birth of Coast Guard aviation. Stone piloted the Navy flying boat NC-4 on the first successful airborne crossing of the Atlantic. The Coast Guard used the Chance Vought UO-4 to help catch rumrunners during Prohibition. The service also used the Loening OL-5 to enforce Prohibition along the coast. The Aviation Flying Life Boat PJ-1 specifically was designed for the Coast Guard to… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 25

Salty Talk: “Turning a Blind Eye”

Friday, March 25, 2016 12:01 AM

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"Turning a blind eye." Naval Institute Archives.

It is a rare occasion when the appearance of a word or phrase in a language can be dated with precision, but such is the case with one, which originated nearly 200 years ago. By the end of the 18th Century, one of England’s main sources of naval stores – mast timbers, pitch, hemp – were the Baltic states. With the resumption of war between Napoleonic France and England following the Peace of Amiens, the French dictator gained control of Denmark and, thereby, one side of the narrow Danish Straits, gateway to the Baltic. Endangering the future of her first line… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 24

The Russian Intervention of 1918-1919

Thursday, March 24, 2016 12:01 AM

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Marines from the USS Brooklyn (ACR-3) are put ashore as part of the Intervention, ca. 1918. Naval Institute Photo Archive.

Though the U. S. Navy and Marine Corps have had a long history of interventions in other countries, none perhaps has made such a long-lasting impact on world history as that which followed the Russian Revolution in 1917. In the following excerpts from his 1969 Proceedings article “Our Russian War of 1918-1919,” Rear Admiral Kemp Tolley (1908-2000) discusses the causes and events of the war that “soured U. S.-Soviet relations for almost a generation” and beyond. Fighting and dying in the swamps and forests were Russian patriots, both Red and White, Americans, French, British, Serbians, Italians and Finns. There were many threads… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 22

Life as a Dependent

Tuesday, March 22, 2016 12:01 AM

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“I say ‘we’ because don’t tell me wives don’t have [duty], too.”—Mary Smith, wife of Commander Roy Campbell Smith Jr., U.S. Navy

Our men and women in uniform are not the only ones who serve their country; the spouses and families of each service member do so as well. John Mason Jr., the former director of the U.S. Naval Institute’s oral history program, interviewed Frances Smalley Mitscher and Mary Taylor Alger Smith to get their side of Navy life in first half of the 20th century. Mary Smith grew up on the U.S. Naval Academy grounds, where she met her future husband, Roy Campbell Smith Jr., who was a midshipman. They married on 1 August 1912 when he was an ensign. Over… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 17

Remember the MAINE

Thursday, March 17, 2016 3:38 PM

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LWF Feb 08

Apprentice First Class Ambrose Ham was signal boy of the watch when the USS MAINE arrived at the Spanish-owned island of Cuba on 25 January 1898. Tensions were high in the battleship as she slowly steamed into Havana Harbor, and though Ham remembered that “every-thing looked peaceful,” he heard another sailor tell two friends, “We’ll never get out of here alive.” Cuban revolutionaries had long been trying to overthrow their Spanish masters, and the MAINE had been sent to protect American citizens then in Havana. Because of the high state of tension, the crew was not allowed to go ashore,… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 14

The Navy’s ‘Smashers’

Monday, March 14, 2016 10:57 AM

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One of the 1826-pattern replica carronades on board the USS CONSTITUTION. When fired, the gun and its slide recoiled back along the stationary skid and against the breeching, the heavy rope through the carronade's loop. Side tackles were used to traverse or run out the gun. (USS CONSTITUION, Naval History and Heritage Command)

Introduced in the U.S. Navy at the beginning of the 19th century, the carronade saw extensive service in American warships during the War of 1812. The Carron Company in Scotland had produced a prototype of the weapon, designed for the protection of merchantmen, in 1776. The success of early carronades resulted in the Royal Navy placing large orders for the guns, and other naval powers soon copied the basic design. Henry Foxall, superintendent of the Eagle Foundry on the Schuylkill River at Philadelphia, cast the first American versions, but probably not until 1799. Certainly he cast the majority of the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 10

The Log of the Cristóbal Colón

Thursday, March 10, 2016 12:01 AM

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Christobal Colon.

A year before the U. S. Naval Institute would publish its very first book, Lieutenant-Commander (and enthusiastic Naval Institute member) Richard Wainwright’s Log of the U. S. Gunboat Gloucester, the Naval Institute published in its Proceedings an abstract of another log related to the Battle of Santiago de Cuba: that captured from the Spanish protected cruiser Cristóbal Colón. With the destruction of the USS Maine in February 1898, the tensions between Spain and the United States erupted into war. The Americans knew much about that fast and modern cruiser and the Spanish fleet as a whole; sheets distributed to the… Read the rest of this entry »

 
Mar 9

Salty Talk

Wednesday, March 9, 2016 12:01 AM

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"Cat-o'-Nine-Tails"

How are you at keeping a secret, especially one you know will give pleasure to a loved one? Not so good? And when you do give it away, perhaps someone will observe that you “let the cat out of the bag.” That seemingly innocent little phrase has a grisly history. A ship’s crew was a polyglot collection of men from many walks of life and even many more countries. Their reasons for going to sea were equally varied, and not all of them honorable. Keeping such a group under control in the restricted environment of a wooden ship for weeks… Read the rest of this entry »