The Pistol Brace Test is a Stone Cold Nightmare

With a 71-page proposed rule to clarify when attached stabilizing brace accessories convert pistols into illegal short-barreled rifles now open for public comment, we disastrously attempted to apply it.

In a test with a pair of unloaded large-format AR-style pistols, I sat down with my buddy Ben Philippi to honestly wade through the minefield of potential disqualifiers on proposed ATF Form 4999 to determine if a pistol/brace combos selected– which are legal now– would continue to be so should the rule goes into effect as-is.

And it didn’t work out very well.

The proposed rulemaking, “Factoring Criteria for Firearms with Attached Stabilizing Braces” as of June 24, has 102,000 public comments.

The last day to file comments is Sept. 8.

Desert Haka, 80 Years Ago Today

Via Time to Go Home.

25 June 1941, Egypt: Members of the 28 (Māori) Battalion, Royal New Zealand Army, performing a haka, the ancestral Māori war cry.

“The four men in the foreground are (from left to right): Private John Manuel (he was killed in action six months after this picture was taken), Private Maaka White (he was killed in action five months after this picture was taken), Private Te Kooti Reihana (he was later wounded by enemy fire), and Lance Corporal Rangi Henderson (he was killed in action two years after this picture was taken).”

The 28th is recognized today as the most decorated Kiwi battalion during WWII, receiving battle honors: Olympus Pass, Crete, El Alamein, Tebega Gap, Takrouna, North Africa 1942–43, Orsogna, Cassino 1, The Senio, Italy 1943–45, Mount Olympus, Greece 1941, Maleme, Canea, 42nd Street, Withdrawal to Sphakia, Middle East 1941–44, Tobruk 1941, Sidi Azeiz, Zemla, Alem Hamza, Mersa Matruh, Minqar Qaim, Defence of Alamein Line, El Mreir, Alam el Halfa, Nofilia, Medinine, El Hamma, Enfidaville, Djebibina, The Sangro, Castel Frentano, Monastery Hill, Advance to Florence, San Michele, Paula Line, Celle, Saint Angelo in Salute, Santerno Crossing, Bologna and Idice Bridgehead, as a unit.

Its men would receive no less than 7 DSOs, 1 OBE, 21 MCs, 13 DCMs, and 55 MMs in addition to a U.S. Silver Star and at least one was recommended, but ultimately did not receive, a VC.

Austal One of Five in Running for Navy’s New Expeditionary LSTs

Austal– who has been making 417-foot Independence-class littoral combat ships (the ones that actually kind of work) and 337-foot Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (EPF) vessel at their U.S. location in Mobile, Alabama– is one of the companies that has been greenlighted to work up plans for the Navy’s new Light Amphibious Warfare (LAW) ship, envisioned to shuttle around little groups of Marines around contested Pacific atolls and islets to give China heartburn in time of conflict there.

Via Austal:

Austal Limited (Austal) (ASX: ASB) is pleased to announce Austal USA has been awarded a concept studies and preliminary design contract by the United States Navy (USN) for the Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) program.

The USN’s new Light Amphibious Warship (LAW) program envisions procuring a class of 28 to 30 new amphibious ships to support the Marine Corps, particularly in implementing a new Marine Corps operational concept called Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO). The Navy envisions the first LAW being procured in FY2023.

LAW will provide US Naval forces a manoeuvre and sustainment capability to conduct littoral and amphibious operations. The medium-sized landing ships are expected to be approximately 60 to 120 metres length overall (LOA) with an ability to embark at least 75 US Marines with approximately 370 – 740 square metres of cargo area to transport the Marines’ weapons, equipment, and supplies to the beach or austere ports.

Austal USA is one of five companies approached by the US Navy to develop LAW concept designs, with a follow-on option for preliminary design. A single shipyard is expected to be down-selected for a detailed design and construction contract by the end of the third quarter of CY2022.

Austal Limited Chief Executive Paddy Gregg said the contract allows Austal USA to continue developing LAW designs to meet US Navy requirements and further strengthens the company’s position to construct steel ships for the US Navy in the future.

“Austal USA is well placed to pursue this Light Amphibious Warship opportunity, with a proven capability to deliver multiple naval shipbuilding programs and new steel manufacturing facilities now under construction,” Mr Gregg said.

“The Austal USA team will continue to develop their concept designs and ultimately provide a highly capable and cost effective LAW solution for the US Navy.”

Echos of USS Robin

In November 1942, with the U.S. Navy down to just two fleet carriers in the Pacific– Saratoga and Enterprise— the Royal Navy helped out its ally with the loan of the Illustrious-class aircraft carrier HMS Victorious (R38).

Using the code name USS Robin, Victorious picked up American equipment and a very Yankee camo scheme in Norfolk in January 1943 and, with 36 Martlet IVs (British F4F-4B Wildcats) of 822, 896 and 898 NAS, and 12 Avenger TBF-1s of 832 NAS, she arrived at Pearl Harbor in March 1943 where she was fitted with heavier arrester wires for the big TBFs as well as more AAA guns.

By May, she formed Carrier Division 1 along with Saratoga and the next month, chopping her Avengers and 832 NAS over to Sara, welcomed aboard two dozen F4F-4 Wildcats from the Tomcatters of Fighter Squadron 3 (VF-3) to provide air cover for U.S. landings in the Solomon Islands while Sara concentrated her efforts on strike.

HMS Victorious in 1943 as USS Robin. She has Wildcats of VF-3 from USS Saratoga on deck and an Atlanta-class lighter cruiser, either USS San Diego (CL-53) or San Juan (CL-54), on the outside of the tanker USS Cimmaron. Photo via Armoured Carriers. 

Victorious spent the next three months in the West Pac, operational with her joint Commonwealth-U.S. airwing, steamed some 23,000 miles and conducted 2,101 deck landings, many of which were done in combat. While VF-3 left the British carrier after that summer, and “Robin” returned to the Atlantic and Admiralty use by September 1943, it was an interesting page in carrier warfare that hasn’t been repeated…

…until this week.

F-35B fighter jets have flown their first operational sorties from the aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), striking targets in Syria with aircraft provided by the joint RN FAA/RAF-manned 617 “Dambusters” Squadron and the “Wake Island Avengers” of the USMC’s VMFA-211.

Three F-35B Lightning, one of RAF 617 and two of VMFA-211, on the deck of HMSQE in the Med off Syria, June 2021 (MoD photo)

“The Lightning Force is once again in action against Daesh, this time flying from an aircraft carrier at sea, which marks the Royal Navy’s return to maritime strike operations for the first time since the Libya campaign a decade ago,” Captain James Blackmore, Commander of the Carrier Air Wing, noted.

“This is also notable as the first combat mission flown by US aircraft from a foreign carrier since HMS Victorious in the South Pacific in 1943. The level of integration between Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, and US Marine Corps is truly seamless, and testament to how close we’ve become since we first embarked together last October.”


Benko and The Goon

(U.S. Air Force Number 53334AC). National Archives Identifier 204829567.

Official caption:

Chengkung, China, copied 8/8/44 308th B.G. The crew of the Consolidated B-24 Liberator “Goon”. Left to right, back row: T/Sgt. Archie L. Fleharty, Cozad Neb; Capt. Samuel J. Skousen, Thatcher, Ariz; T/Sgt. Robert M. Kirk, Alpha, Ill; T/Sgt. Arthur J. Benko, Bisbee, Ariz; (now missing in action) S/Sgt Casper J. Chirielseisen, Washington D.C.; and T/Sgt. William Novak, Pueblo, Colo. Left to right, front row: 1st LT Malcolm S. Sanders, Madison, Wisc.,(now missing in action); 1st LT Daniel J. Palmer; 1st LT Ralph E. Bower, Columbia, S.C.; Capt. James J. Lichtenfels, Cincinnatti, Ohio; Maj. Robert F. Burnett, Buttonwillow, Calif.

Although the above is dated 1944, it was taken in late 1943. Goon was B-24D-20-CO Liberator s/n 41-24183
374th BS, 308th BG, 14th AF. The bomber was a functional loss on 14 November 1943 after a mission to bomb Hong Kong from 14th Air Force/KMT bases in Eastern China. Three of the crew stayed with the plane and managed to get it to the base at Kweilin, China. Five of the seven who bailed out were returned to duty and two were listed as missing (Sanders, Goon’s Bombardier, and Benko, Gunner/Asst. Engineer) were killed.

Pulled from bombing duties and disarmed, Goon was later used by the 1330th Army Air Force Base Unit as a transport in the CBI but was later lost in an accident in 1946, taking her four-man crew down with her into the Philippine Sea.

Of note, T/Sgt. Benko, was the highest USAAF gunnery “ace,” being credited with swatting no less than 16 Japanese aircraft out of the sky with his twin 50s including 7 of 29 Japanese Zeros in an aerial duel over Haiphong, on Halloween 1943.

The plane, along with Benko, was made famous in a January 1944 National Geographic, although at the time he was most likely already passed.

As detailed in Chennault’s Forgotten Warriors

An item of pride for the 308th was having the top gunner in all the air forces during World War II.   He was T/Sgt Arthur J. Benko of Bisbee, Arizona. A full-blooded Indian, he was Arizona skeet and rifle champion in 1939-40. He was a top turret gunner on the Goon.”
“Art belted his own ammunition, removing all tracers. He did this for two reasons; (1) He didn’t want the enemy to know he was being shot at; (2) tracer fire gave a false trajectory by losing weight as it burns in flight.”
“There was some skepticism at group headquarters as Benko’s score mounted so they sent an intelligence officer on one mission. Art sent seven Japs down that day and made a believer out of the officer.”
“Art’s record stood at 16 confirmed victories. Then homeward bound from a Hong Kong mission with one engine out and one faltering, the pilot, Sam Skousen, hit the bailout button so that maybe the plane could clear a mountain range. Benko and Lt. Malcolm S. Sanders landed on the Jap side of the river and were captured. Later, a Catholic missionary sent the Air Force photographs of their crucifixion.”

Gurkhas on the Sharp End

The British Army’s Nepalese Gurkhas have been putting it on the line for the Crown going back to an agreement with the circa 1815 East India Company.

Gurkhas in the Western Desert, July 1942 cleaning their iconic kukri. Note their Enfield No IIIs, Brodie helmets, and shorts. Note the distinctive Terai slouch hat on the Gurkha standing to the rear, a piece of kit the soldiers still wear today. 

Growing to a force of 10 two-battalion regiments by WWII, after India became independent in 1947 the British retained four regiments by agreement that, in 1994, were all amalgamated into the Royal Gurkha Rifles, which form the bulk of today’s 3,600-man Brigade of Gurkhas.

And they have been busy since the thawing of the Cold War. To commemorate the 19 men killed while serving in the Brigade since 1999, Gurkha Company Catterick earlier this month unveiled a monument to commemorate fallen Gurkhas in recent conflicts, with new recruits trooped in front of it to remind them to stay frosty out there.


Warship Wednesday, June 23, 2021: The St. Thomas Slugger

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, June 23, 2021: The St. Thomas Slugger

Danish National Library DH030850

Here we see the krydserkorvetten (cruiser corvette) Valkyrien of the Royal Danish Navy in exotic Hong Kong on 8 April 1900 while notably under the command of H.K.H. Prins Valdemar, son of then-King Christian IX. Note the junks, small vessel traffic, and destroyers near the gleaming white Nordic warship, which is firing a salute to the harbor battery. Ushered in just after Denmark suffered twin military humiliations, the relatively mighty vessel– for the Danes– would have a quiet and long-ranging career, making several footnotes in history.

Laid down at Orlogsværftet København for the Danish admiralty 27 October 1888, she was reportedly a close cousin of the Armstrong-built Chilean protected cruiser Esmeralda (2,992 tons, 18.3 kts, 2 x 10″/30, 6 x 6″/26) but had a different armament (Krupp-made: 2 x 8.2″/35, 6 x 6″/32), more economical domestic Burmeister & Wain machinery of a lower horsepower, and thicker armor (up to 2.5-inches rather than 1-inch), factors that dropped her speed to 17 knots.

Chilean cruiser Esmeralda by Edoardo de Martino Tyne & Wear Museums Maritime and Industrial Collection

Using a dramatic ram bow, in vogue after 1866, Valkyrien also had some other tricks up her sleeve to include five above deck torpedo tubes arrayed at various angles from her beam (two bows, one stern, two amidships) and carried a pair of 68-foot Thornycroft-made torpedo boats (Torpedobaad Nos. 10 and 11) which were capable of independent operations.

Orlogsmuseet – Model of the Danish Cruiser Valkyrien. Note her ram bow

VALKYRIEN (Danish Cruiser, 1888) Photographed circa 1890 with 2nd class torpedo boat numbers 10 and 11 embarked. NH 85380

A celebration of the Viking choosers of the slain, the ship carried war shields, swords, and battle-axes on her bow, and wings on her bow in careful ornamentation. 

Note the auxiliary sail rig

Note her stern “stinger” torpedo tube below the winged crest

At the time of her commissioning, Valkyrien far outclassed the other “cruisers” under the Danish ensign, some of which were more appropriately described as armored schooners: Absalon (533 tons, 1 x 60-pounder, 2 x 5.75″), Fylla & Diana (560 tons, 1 x 60-pounder, 3 x 30 pounder), St. Thomas (1,700 tons, 8 x 4.7-inch guns), and Ingoff (1,012 tons, 2 x 6″). Valkyrien held the heavyweight champ title even as the later Hekla-class of light cruisers– Gejser, Hejmdal, and Fyen (1,282 tons, 2 x 4.7″, 4 x 3.5″, 4 x torpedo tubes, 17 knots) — were delivered in the 1890s. When compared to Denmark’s squadron of “bathtub battleships” or kystforsvarsskibIver Hvitfeldt (3,446 tons, 2 x 10″ guns, 8-inches armor), Skjold (2,195 tons, 1 x 9.4″, 10 inches armor), and the three Trolle-class (~3,500 tons, 2 x 9.4″, 4 x 6″, 7 inches armor) vessels– she also compared favorably in size, if not in throw and armor, while being a couple of knots faster.

Danish Navy’s silhouettes of primary vessels, showing how Valkyrien compared in size against the rest of the fleet.

In short, Valkyrien, from the time of her commissioning to her eventual retirement three decades later, was the ideal vessel to show the Danish flag overseas, especially in her territories such as Greenland, Iceland, the Faroe Islands, and the Danish West Indies (Dansk Vestindien). Her 3,900nm range certainly helped with that. Once she joined the fleet, she became very busy.

In the summer of 1893, she escorted the royal ship yacht Dannebrog to England for the marriage of the Duke of York (grandson of the Danish king) and Princess Marie of Teck. She followed that royal visit up three years later to represent Denmark at Prince Carl of Denmark’s marriage to Princess Maud.

Danish protected cruiser Valkyrien, in a very dark scheme, on a visit to England

She met Norwegian explorer Fridtjof Nansen’s returning 1896 polar expedition as his famed ship, Fram, arrived back home.

Fram’s return to Kristiania, 9 September 1896. A large fleet of over a hundred small and large ships met Nansen’s ship. Bottom left five torpedo boats, in the middle the new cruiser Valkyrien with her glad rags out, and closest S. S. Haalogaland who had towed Fram (here partly covered by white smoke). Via the Fridtjof Nansen bildearkiv, National Library of Norway

Valkyrien, dansk krysser, krigsskip, Oslofjorden Norwegian archives HHB-15663

In October 1899, she left on a trip to the Far East under Prince Valdemar. No paper sailor, the son of King Christian IX spent most of his life on active duty with the Danish navy– a tradition for a country known for “sailor kings.” She returned home 10 months later, after calling at more than 30 overseas ports.

Prince Valdemar with King Chulalongkorn of Siam. He also met with the Japanese Emperor on the trip

From 1901 through 1902, she continued her out-of-Europe service with a stint as a station ship in the Danish West Indies.

It was during this detail that she sailed to Martinique after a volcanic eruption there which killed over 30,000 people, and her crew participated with local French authorities in the rescue operation at the town of Le Precheur.

Crew members of the Danish cruiser Valkyrien pose with the Krupp ship gun in front of St. Thomas, Via the Orlosmuseet (War Museum), Copenhagen

After a period in ordinary as the fleet expanded, she returned to service with a Med cruise in 1913-1914 on the eve of the Great War. Once Europe was ablaze in conflict, she donned a wartime scheme and maintained a defensive posture in home waters, serving through 1915 as a barracks and school ship training Sikringsstyrken, or security forces.

Then came a wartime modernization, landing her old 8.2- and 6-inch guns in favor of more modern weapons, albeit of a smaller caliber. Her 8.2s had a rate of fire of one shot every three minutes and the original 6-inchers could achieve one shot per. minute. The new 6-inch guns she mounted in place of her main battery could fire 5-6 rounds per minute, as could her new secondary battery, composed of 3-inch guns.

Danish protected cruiser Valkyrien 1919, wartime grey scheme

Shoving off for the Danish West Indies in November 1915, she remained in place as a station ship in that far-off territory as the U.S. and others sought to purchase the islands for their own use. Times were tense on the ground, with wartime shortages, labor problems, local unrest, and Great Power spies all on the list of problems. The cruiser’s captain, CDR Henri Konow, became local governor when the vessel arrived.

H. M. S. Valkyrien ved Frederiksteds, 1915. DT133709

Valkyrien i St.Thomas havn 1915 DT130531

Valkyrien Virgin Islands DVS 0062-1236-900-600-80

In October 1916, the islands were slammed by a strong Category 3 hurricane that left the Danish bark Thor wrecked, three steamers grounded, as well as the schooner Irma II and sloop Faith sunk. It was Valkyrien’s officers who sounded the alarm about the oncoming storm, firing her guns and rockets on command of Konow, and her crew that saved dozens of lives in and around St. Thomas while, as telecommunications and electricity were knocked out, her searchlights and signal lamps illuminated the night sky. The ship’s junior surgeon was sent to Saint John to render assistance due there as there was no medical personnel on that nearby island.

Following along that vein, Valkyrien was the muscle on hand representing the Danish government at the transfer of the colony to Uncle Sam on 31 March 1917, just days before the American entry into WWI. Her band played during the ceremony while an armed 24-man honor guard drawn from her crew marched in tandem with a squad of local gendarmes and Yankee bluejackets from the transport USS Hancock (AP-5), who was very lightly armed with only a few 3-inch guns.

Valkyrien crew on Transfer Day March 31st, 1917

Konow and a dozen of his officers looked on, surrounded by consular representatives of foreign nations and the American delegation. It was Konow who had read the public proclamation of the even aloud two weeks prior, an act that notified the locals of the change in management.

Once the flags were exchanged at 1600hrs, Valkyrien and Hancock fired 17-gun salutes across St. Thomas harbor. Notably in the port at the time were the interned German ocean liners Wasgenwald and Calabria of the Hamburg America Line, who watched the events cautiously.

Valkyrien as the Danish flag comes down, Hancock is behind her. DH009717

Valkyrie salute 1917 DH009665

The territory (save for 500-acre Vand or Water Island, which was retained as property of the Danish East Asiatic Company until 1944) became the U.S. Virgin Islands with Hancock’s skipper, LCDR Edwin Taylor Pollock, becoming Acting Governor. Hancock’s crew would take the German steamers into custody just a week later as the U.S. declared war on the Kaiser.

Deprived of a station to serve overseas, Valkyrien returned home, served as a quarantine vessel during the Spanish flu epidemic in 1918, and soon got back to her globetrotting once the war ended.

Used as a training vessel for naval cadets as newer cruisers were available for front-line use, she stopped at Egypt and Malta during her 1919 summer cruise to pick up 160 former German POWs of Danish extraction from the British and returned them to Denmark. That winter she performed the same task in visits to Holland, Belgium, and France, repatriating 135 further Danes, most of whom lived in German-controlled Southern Jutland where the Kaiser’s army conscripted over 30,000 Danish-speaking residents into his legions, over the howls of Copenhagen. The Schleswig Plebiscite later returned much of the region, captured by the Prussians in 1864, to Danish control.

Her summer cruise in 1921 carried, besides her cadets, King Christian X, who used the opportunity to pay visits to the Faroe Islands and Iceland. Christian, who had spent four years with the Danish army as a dragoon officer and would later become famous for his daily horseback rides through German-occupied Copenhagen in WWII, proved adept at instructing the boys in close order drill and morning calisthenics.

Christian is the mustachioed officer with carefully parted hair. If your sovereign is behind you doing calisthenics, you are gonna do calisthenics

Laid up in 1923, Valkyrien was sold for scrap the next year.


She is remembered in period maritime art and postcards. Danish maritime artist Christian Benjamin Olsen, who sailed on her several times, painted no less than three handsome portraits of the cruiser.

The Valkyrie Off Tenerife, 1923 Olsen

“The Spanish general visiting the Danish ship of war Valkyrien.” Signed Chr. Benjamin Olsen, Santa Cruz

Cruiser Valkyrien by Christian Benjamin Olsen, 1913 at Royal Danish Naval Museum

A set of plans is in the U.S. National Archives. 

She is probably best known for her Virgin Islands service and is noted there annually on Transfer Day, observed each March. Konow, her skipper during the transfer, later retired as a vice admiral and served the Danish government in the 1920s as Minister of Defense and Minister of Foreign Affairs. A holder of the Grand Cross of the Order of the Dannebrog, he died in 1939 (ironically the same year as Prince Valdemar, another of her famous captains) and is well remembered in Danish history. 


(Jane’s 1914 listing)

Displacement: 3,020 tons
Length: 266.75 ft.
Beam: 43.25 ft.
Draft: 18.25 ft.
Machinery: Burmeister & Wain, 2 VTE, 6 cylindrical boilers, 5,300shp
Speed: 17.4 knots
Range: 3,900nm at 10 knots on 496 tons coal
Crew: 282 to 310
2 x 21 cm/32cal Krupp C/86 L/35 bagladekanoner
6 x 15 cm/32cal Krupp C/88 L/35 bagladekanoner
4 x 57 mm/40cal Hotchkiss kanoner
8 x 37 mm/17cal Hotchkiss kanoner
2 x 8mm machine guns
5 x 381 mm above water torpedoapparater (later reduced to three in 1913, deleted in 1919)

2 x 14.9 cm/32cal L/50 M.06 bagladekanoner (from Peder Skram)
4 x 75 mm/52 L/55 M.12 patronkanoner (increased to six in 1919)
2 x 57 mm/40cal Hotchkiss kanoner
2 x 37 mm/17cal Hotchkiss kanoner

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Barbarossa at 80

Some eight decades have passed since what is arguably the largest land invasion in modern times kicked off,
Unternehmen Barbarossa, pitting 3.8 million German, Hungarian, Italian, Finnish, Slovak, and Romanian troops against the scandalously unexpecting Soviet legions of Generalissimo Stalin.

German soldiers crossing Soviet border post ,June 22, 1941, Barbarossa

Safronov Viktor Alekseevich (b. 1932.) – June 22, the border

Red Army anti-tank gun crew wiped out. “They fought for Homeland.”  By G. M. Zykov

Although the wave would eventually break on the outskirts of Moscow– even Napolean had at least captured the vacated Kremlin some 120 years prior– the war on the Eastern Front was far from over and would claim millions on both sides.

Today, Barbarossa is seen through the lens of a myriad of conflicting issues even today in Germany.

Meanwhile, the Russians have a view that nothing is forgiven, or forgotten. 

On the Road Again

So I spent the last week and change racking up the Delta Skymiles and Best Western rewards once again, filming new episodes of Select Fire for

These guys, Scott and Ben, are awesome. Yes, that’s me in the middle, looking somewhat more…vagabond than normal in my old age.

We were on the ground in Minnesota, spanning the length of the state for gun content. I ate my first Walleye (along the shores of Lake Mille Lacs), was amazed that the sun was still up and bright at 9:30 at night, posed with Babe the Big Blue Ox in Brainerd, shot some amazingly big handguns at Magnum Research, found out some amazing stuff (that I am sworn to secrecy over) at Maxim Defense, and hung out with thousands of student-athletes at the world’s largest shooting sports event in Alexandria.

How about this BFR in .500 JRH? This is, without a doubt, one of the finest and smoothest wheel guns I have ever touched.

Oh, yeah, and hung out at the GDC warehouse where I got to pour over 6,000 guns for a few days.

Yup, Colt Boa. Possibly one of the rarest serpents there is. Just 600 .357 Magnum-chambered 4-inchers such as this one were made for Lew Horton in 1986 only, and this one is immaculate.

So stay tuned for all that.

Much to follow!

Eagle Among the Volcanos

USCGC Eagle (WIX 327), “America’s Tall Ship,” arrives in Reykjavik, Iceland, on June 9, 2021. Eagle is currently conducting summer U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet training in at-sea leadership and professional development. Their first port call was Portugal in late May. Eagle has served as a classroom at sea to future Coast Guard officers since 1946, offering an at-sea leadership and professional development experience as part of the Coast Guard Academy curriculum. (Photo courtesy U.S. Embassy Reykjavik, Kristjan Petersson)

The Gorch Fock-class training barque USCGC Eagle (WIX-327), America’s only active-duty square-rigger (and past Warship Wednesday alum), recently commemorated the loss of the USCGC Hamilton in Icelandic waters during WWII, just before she arrived in Reykjavik to celebrate U.S.-Icelandic ties.


Aboard Eagle moored in the harbor, Vice Adm. Steven Poulin, commander U.S. Coast Guard Atlantic Area, joined by Jonathan Moore, principal deputy assistant secretary, Bureau of Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, met with Commadore Asgrimur Asgrimsson of the Icelandic coast guard, Chargé d’Affaires Harry Kamian, and Byrndis Kjartansdottir, director of security and defense directorate in the Icelandic Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“I congratulate Iceland on a successful Arctic Council and Arctic Coast Guard Forum chairmanship, and I thank them for their persistent and reliable partnership in the Arctic Council and Arctic Coast Guard Forum. Maintaining a strong, rules-based order in the Arctic remains a top priority, both for my command and the U.S. Coast Guard. Steadfast partners like Iceland enable and enforce this,” said Vice Adm. Steven Poulin. “It was a great pleasure to discuss the challenges we share with such dedicated colleagues learning more about our partner agencies and their operations.”

The United States was the first country to recognize Iceland’s independence in 1944. In addition to being founding members of NATO, the United States and Iceland signed a bilateral defense agreement in 1951. Cooperation and mutual support are the foundation of the U.S.-Icelandic relationship. Visits such as Eagle’s allow opportunities to further effective partnerships, collaboration, and interoperability for various issues that can occur in the Arctic.
For more than a century, the U.S. Coast Guard has been the visible U.S. surface presence in the Arctic, ensuring adherence to the rules-based order. We work with High North nations to safeguard and enable the uninterrupted flow of maritime commerce throughout the entire Marine Transportation System, including the burgeoning Arctic and ensure responsible stewardship of its resources. Allies and partners like Iceland are integral to protecting the United States’ enduring interests, preserving our mutual interests, and upholding the rules-based international order supporting good maritime governance.

On approach to Iceland, Eagle’s crew conducted a wreath-laying in memory of the Treasury-class USCGC Hamilton (WPG 34), torpedoed by German submarine U-132 on January 30, 1942, patrolling the Icelandic coast near Reykjavík. Hamilton capsized and sank 28 miles (45 km) from the Icelandic coast on January 30, at the cost of 26 of the ship’s 221-person crew. In 2009, divers discovered the wreck in over 300 feet of water, and in 2013, a memorial plaque was placed in honor of those lost.

On approach to Iceland on June 6, 2021, the USCGC Eagle (WIX 3287) crew conducted a wreath-laying in memory of the Treasury-class USCGC Hamilton (WPG 34), torpedoed by German submarine U-132 in 1942 while patrolling the Icelandic coast near Reykjavík. Of the 221 person crew, 26 members were lost. (U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Ensign Elena Calese)

Eagle is currently conducting summer U.S. Coast Guard Academy cadet training in at-sea leadership and professional development. Their first port call was Portugal in late May. Eagle has served as a classroom at sea to future Coast Guard officers since 1946, offering an at-sea leadership and professional development experience as part of the Coast Guard Academy curriculum.

Eagle is a three-masted barque with more than 6,797 square meters (22,300 square feet) of sail and 9.7 kilometers (6 miles) of rigging. At 90 meters (295 feet) in length, Eagle is the largest tall ship flying the stars and stripes and the only active square-rigger in United States government service.

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