Battleship Texas gets a hand from a run of Henry lever guns

Fighting against the combined forces of time and Mother Nature, the oldest U.S. battleship still afloat is in need of desperate repair, and sales of a limited edition rifle could help.

Dubbed “The Last Dreadnought,” Texas was commissioned in 1914 as the world was on the verge of the Great War and went on to serve for over 30 years, during both World Wars — one of only a handful of ships still in existence with such a lineage. Since 1948, she has continued to serve in her namesake state as a museum ship at the San Jacinto Battleground State Historic Site in Texas.

However, time has not been kind to the century-old relic and continuous repairs are needed just to keep her afloat– and funds are scarce.

That’s where this Henry comes in.

More here at my column at Guns.com

When the incoming missiles came into view, officers on the bridge were ‘mesmerized’ by the sight

A cara cara bird perches atop the remote memorial to the 21 men of HMS Sheffield

Some 35 years after the events, the MoD report into the loss of the Royal Navy’s Type 42 destroyer HMS Sheffield in the Falklands, following a hit from an Argentine Exocet missile, shows why is was redacted and withheld for the past several decades.

From The Guardian:

Some members of the crew were “bored and a little frustrated by inactivity” and the ship was “not fully prepared” for an attack.

The anti-air warfare officer had left the ship’s operations room and was having a coffee in the wardroom when the Argentinian navy launched the attack, while his assistant had left “to visit the heads” (relieve himself).

The radar on board the ship that could have detected incoming Super Étendard fighter aircraft had been blanked out by a transmission being made to another vessel.

When a nearby ship, HMS Glasgow, did spot the approaching aircraft, the principal warfare officer in the Sheffield’s ops room failed to react, “partly through inexperience, but more importantly from inadequacy”.

The anti-air warfare officer was recalled to the ops room, but did not believe the Sheffield was within range of Argentina’s Super Étendard aircraft that carried the missiles.

When the incoming missiles came into view, officers on the bridge were “mesmerized” by the sight and did not broadcast a warning to the ship’s company.

The rest here

NATO’s submarine rescue service

A pretty interesting video on the NATO Submarine Rescue System (NSRS) is a cooperative project between three NATO countries: France, Norway and the United Kingdom.

“It is designed to rescue personnel from submarines in distress and can dive to depths of up to 600 meters. It consists of three main parts: an intervention system, a rescue vehicle and a transfer under pressure system. It is the largest fly-away submarine rescue system and can dive up to six hours, four times a day. On each dive, it can rescue approximately 12 submariners, who will receive medical treatment in its facilities, if needed. The NATO Submarine Rescue System is available to anyone on request and can be deployed almost anywhere in the world within 72 hours.”

On the downside, while it is ideal for plucking bubbleheads from wrecked Type 209s and the like, running to pick up a 100+ member crew from a U.S. sub would likely push the NSRS to its limit.

The Navy used to have a very robust rescue program of its own, two DSRV’s (Mystic and Avalon) each able to rescue 24 men at a time. Operating from the purpose-built rescue ships USS Pigeon and USS Ortolan, all have since been decommissioned and replaced by the single 16-place Submarine Rescue Diving Recompression System, which is turn is based on the 6-passenger Royal Australian Navy Submarine rescue vehicle Remora and uses craft of opportunity.

The M16-ish burp gun from the woodland camo era

A Colt M231 Firing Port Weapon mounted in M2 Bradley door 1986. Stoked with tracers, the gun was sighted via periscope (Photo: Christopher Barzyz)

A Colt M231 Firing Port Weapon mounted in M2 Bradley door 1986. Stoked with tracers, the gun was sighted via periscope (Photo: Christopher Barzyz)

Sharing only limited commonality with the M16, Colt’s M231 Firing Port Weapon was a full-auto-only buzz saw made to squirt bad guys from an opening in the M2 Bradley fighting vehicle. Some 27,000 FPWs were ordered from Colt for the M2, each of which originally had six firing ports from which to use the chopped down 5.56mm officially designated as a submachine gun by the Army.

After covering a rare Class III transferrable example up for auction, I spoke with a vet from the 1st Cav Divison who wasn’t too impressed with the FPW’s performance.

“When it was my turn I found that you had to walk the rounds to the target. By the time you got to the target area you had to change magazines again. The extremely high rate of fire went through the magazines fast,” he said.

More in my column at Guns.com

U.S. Mint’s 2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar, medals

The United States Mint last week revealed the obverse (heads) and reverse (tails) designs for five silver medals that will be issued in conjunction with the 2018 World War I Centennial Silver Dollar. Each medal, composed of 90 percent silver, pays homage to branches of the U.S. Armed Forces that were active in World War I.

The reverse features the branch’s seal. The head shows a scene from the Great War specific to the branch.

Army clearing no man’s land, note the M1903, though the M1917 Enfield would likely be more fitting

Navy four-piper destroyer with a bone in her teeth

Marines at Belleau Wood

(Army) Air Force Spad XIII (though I think the JN-4 Jenny would be more appropriate).

Coast Guard Cutter Seneca heading out in heavy seas toward the torpedoed steamship Wellington.

Each silver medal will be paired with a World War I Centennial Silver Dollar and offered as a special set. These medals will not be available individually.

The World War I Centennial Silver Dollar

Additional information about these sets will be available prior to their release in 2018.

Aluminum and sheet metal don’t hold up to fire very well

Last week I hit the water to check out how the coastline changed as a result of Hurricane Nate (I’ve since picked up some great pieces of beached cypress driftwood that likely came from the barrier islands and have several projects in mind for them, but anyway).

On the way back into Gulfport Harbor I saw the 87-foot Marine Protector-class patrol boat, USCGC Brant (WPB-87348) tied up at Coast Guard Station Gulfport. As she is different from our regular two WPBs home-ported here (Razorbill and Pompano), I made sure to grab a few shots of the visiting cutter, normally out of Sector Corpus Christie on the other side of the Gulf.

Then I saw this shot just a few days later of her wheelhouse from the port side…

From the USCG 8th District, Coast Guard Sector New Orleans:

NEW ORLEANS – Members from Gulfport Fire Department and a Coast Guard member extinguished a fire aboard Coast Guard Cutter Brant, which was moored in Gulfport, Mississippi, Wednesday.

At approximately 5 a.m., two Coast Guard members who were aboard the cutter became aware of the fire, located on the port-aft area of the vessel, and took initial actions to put out the fire using an on-board fire extinguisher.

Members from Gulfport Fire Department arrived on scene at 5:05 a.m. and extinguished the fire.

The two Coast Guard members on board the vessel were evaluated by emergency medical services and have been released.

“We are thankful no one was hurt in the fire,” said Cmdr. Zachary Ford, the head of the response department at Coast Guard Sector New Orleans. “Without the quick response and actions taken by the Gulfport Fire Department, this incident could have been much worse.”

The cause of the incident is under investigation.

The fire looked like it happened around officer’s country on the 87-footer and it is good to know that neither life nor limb was lost and she is still afloat. Looks like a trip back to Bollinger in Lockport is in her future, though. She’s just 15 years old and likely has another decade or two on her hull so you would imagine she could be rebuilt.

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017: Franco’s big stick

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time 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, Oct. 18, 2017: Franco’s big stick

Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

Here we see the lead ship of the Armada Española’s Canarias-class heavy cruisers– the mighty Canarias herself– in her pre-1953 arrangement. The big cruiser, though laid down in the 1920s, survived the Spanish Civil War and, in the end, even Franco himself.

The Spanish Navy of the old days was a colonial power and was very good at it for several hundred years until the 19th Century saw her Latin American holdings disappear along with, after the Spanish-American War, the crown’s Pacific Empire. Said conflict with the U.S. saw most of the Armada’s cruisers destroyed or captured in uneven fleet actions in the Caribbean and Manila Bay.

Post-1898, after losing or condemning 19 of her cruisers 21, all that was left was the old Velasco-class protected cruiser Infanta Isabel and the 5,000-ton Lepanto, finished just too late for the war. Three single-class new ships were quickly built using lessons learned in the conflict: Emperador Carlos V, Rio de la Plata, and Extremadura, followed by the three ships of the Princesa de Asturias-class and the Reina Regente, ordered in conjunction with the three 16,000-ton mini-battleships of the España-class in 1909. This is the fleet the Spanish carried into the Great War, where they were an armed neutral.

In the 1920s, with their turn-of-the-century coal-fired cruisers and dreadnoughts increasingly obsolete, and colonial conflicts such as the Rif War in North Africa draining resources while still setting the need to show the flag in far-away ports, the Spanish ordered the one-off Reina Victoria Eugenia (6,500 tons), two similar 6,300-ton Blas de Lezo-class cruisers, three very modern Almirante Cervera-class cruisers (9,385-tons, based on the Royal Navy’s Emerald-class) and planned for three 13,700-ton Canarias-class ships, with the plan to put the older WWI-era fleet to pasture and phase out their increasingly marginalized battleships.

Note that the class was always considered to be a Washington Treaty warship by the Spanish

Based on the British Crown County-class ships of Sir Philip Watts’ design but switched up to a degree, these 636-foot heavy cruisers were handsomely equipped with eight 8″/50 (20.3 cm) BL Model 1924 Mark D Vickers-Armstrong-designed guns, each capable of sending a 256-pound AP shell out to 32,530 yards every 20-seconds.

These things had some reach…

Another eight 12 cm/45 (4.7″) Mark F Vickers high-angle guns were to be mounted for AAA.

Note the “Todo por la Patria” (All for the Fatherland) logo. The 4.7″ guns would pick up splinter shields after the Civil War

Note the shell to the left

A dozen torpedo tubes, some smaller weapons and a catapult for Heinkel He 60 seaplanes– one of the most dieselpunk looking aircraft ever in my opinion— were to be fitted.

Overall speed on Parsons geared steam turbines was 33-knots and the range was sufficient to sortie to the Spanish outposts in the Moroccan shores, the Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea.

Two vessels, class leader Canarias (Canary Islands) and sister Baleares (Balearic Islands) were laid down at Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval (SECN) in El Ferrol in 1928 and took more than eight years to construct, both still only semi-complete by 1936–a pivotal year for Spain. The third ship of the class, Ferrol, was canceled due to tight budgets.

At Ferrol, colorised by Postales Navales

In July 1936, a pro-fascist military coup led by Gens. Goded and Franco in colonies outside of Metropolitan Spain quickly spread to all-out civil war with the Soviet-allied Republicans against the German-Italian backed Nationalists.

Suffice it to say without chronicling the entire Civil War, the Spanish Navy took a beating in the three-year conflict.

On her trials, where she broke 33.8-knots at 99,000 shp. Note much of her equipment to include her rangefinders and Turret C is yet to be fitted– and she never did get that seaplane rig

-Canarias‘ own sister ship, the Nationalist-controlled Baleares, was sunk in a battle with Republican destroyers at Cape Palos in March 1938.

-While steaming off Santander on 30 April 1937, the Nationalist-controlled battleship Alfonso XIII struck a mine and sank.

-Spain’s last remaining battleship, Jaime I, was under the Republican flag and was struck by German bombers and eventually sunk by the Nationalists.

-The cruisers Miguel de Cervantes, Libertad and Mendez Nuñez, part of the Republican Navy, escaped at the end of the war and were interned by the French at Bizerte only to be repatriated later in poor condition.

-Of the other ships in the Nationalist Navy, only the light cruiser Almirante Cervera escaped the war largely intact and was Canarias‘ partner in crime.

-The cruiser Reina Victoria Eugenia, renamed Republica by the Republicans and then Navarra by the Nationalists after they recaptured her, also survived though was less functional than either Cervera or Canarias.

The Civil War saw Canarias as the de facto flag of Franco’s fleet, especially after the loss of Alfonso XIII, their only battleship.

Note her 4.7 inch secondary guns amidships at elevation and that she has all four turrets for her main battery

The big cruiser plastered Republican positions near the coastline including bloody work along the Malaga-Almeria highway and in the bombardment of Barcelona, intercepted Soviet merchant ships headed to the Republicans with arms, and engaging Republican ships in naval actions– including vaporizing the Churruca-class destroyer Almirante Ferrándiz off Cape Spartel with three salvos of her big 8-inch guns.

In 1938, she almost captured the Republican destroyer Jose Luis Diez, who only narrowly made it to Gibraltar and internment carrying an 8-inch hit in her stern. During the war, she reportedly fired her guns in anger on at least 34 occasions.

In WWII, while Franco never officially entered the war despite being an ersatz Axis state, Canarias and Cervera were the Spanish Navy’s most effective units and the big cruiser put to sea in 1941 to help look for survivors of the German battleship Bismarck after the failed Operation Rheinübung. While she found no surviviors after a three day search of the fallen dreadnought’s debris field, they did recover some wreckage and five bodies.

During the war, she picked up 12 Rheinmetall 37mm AAA guns in a tertiary battery.

Post-VE-Day, she remained the most powerful naval unit under the Spanish flag and in 1952-53 underwent a modernization at SECN that saw her wide Lexington-like funnel separated into two stacks as well as navigational and search radar fitted. Her torpedo tubes were landed.

View of the northeast section of basin #1, El Ferrol, looking northwest. Two graving docks appear, one partially hidden by shops in the right middle ground. In the left foreground is the cruiser CANARIAS with her new after stack in place but without her new forward stack. This refit occurred between October 1952 and February 1953. Some destroyers and smaller craft are also visible. Description: Catalog #: NH 93640

Post-1953, note her twin funnels

She helped support the Spanish Legion in the little-known Ifni War in 1957-58 which included some very muscular gunboat diplomacy against Morocco.

At Ceuta in 1960> Note she is wearing her pennant number on her hull

Then came the hijacking of the Portuguese liner Santa Maria in 1961 which saw Canarias chase her across the Atlantic, cooperating with a U.S. Navy task force that also shadowed the cruise ship more than 20 years before the better remembered Achille Lauro hijacking. An important development considering Spain did not join NATO until 1982.

She also waved the flag, attending several European ceremonies, participating in goodwill trips to Latin America, excercises with Western navies and visiting overseas holdings.

Here she is in Africa in 1961:

In 1969, Canarias helped evacuate the Spanish from Equatorial Guinea as that Central African country gained independence from the ever-shrinking empire, a fitting final act for a colonial cruiser.

In Equatorial Guinea

She had outlasted all the other Spanish cruisers, with the three Almirante Cervera-class ships all striking by 1970, Mendez Nuñez retired in 1964, and Navarra paid off in 1955.

By that time, she was among the last all-big-gun cruisers left in the world. The British had broken up their last Crown Colony/Fiji-class near sister ships in 1968, though two, HMS Newfoundland and HMS Ceylon, continued to operate with the Peruvian Navy into the 1970s and one, Nigeria, served the Indian Navy as INS Mysore (C60) until 1985.

Her last modernization came in 1969 when she was fitted with a modern CIC, new radars (Decca 12 navigation set, U.S. SG-6B surface search, Italian Marconi MLA-IB air search) and electronics, while 40/70 Bofors L70s replaced her WWII 37mm and 40mm suites.

CANARIAS Photographed at Barcelona, Spain, in about 1970. Note the large tower to the right for the gondola transport system going across the harbor. The 371-foot four-masted training barque Juan Sebastián Elcano is to her stern. Description: Catalog #: NH 90743

The end game came for Franco in 1975, as the Green March wrested Spain’s hold in the Sahara and the overseas colonies shrank to the current lot that are the isolated cities of Ceuta, Melilla, and the Canary Islands. The old dictator himself marched off to the parade ground of lost souls that November.

Pushing 40 and considered obsolete for the last 30 of those years, Canarias was pulled from service and decommissioned on 17 December 1975, the end of an era. She had steamed 650,000 miles on 524 trips in her career.

While several cities sought to preserve her as a museum– including some she had bombarded in the Civil War– money just wasn’t there and the old war wagon sailed to the breakers under her own steam in September 1977.

Her last cruise, Sept. 1977

Sailing past the Castillo de San Felipe at Ferrol

Parts of her were saved, however, including turret B and the entire admiral’s cabin interior at the Naval Academy at Marín, a 4.7-inch AAA at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria– the capital of the Canary Islands, a rangefinder at the Naval Museum at Ferrol, several anchors around Spain, and other items.

She is also remembered in maritime art.

Specs:

Displacement:
10,670 long tons (10,840 t) standard
13,500 long tons (13,700 t) full load
Length: 636 ft.
Beam: 64 ft. (20 m)
Draught: 21 ft. 5 in
Installed power: Yarrow type boilers, 90,000 hp (67,000 kW)
Propulsion: 4 shafts, Parsons type geared turbines
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h)
Range: 8,000 nmi (15,000 km) at 15 kn (28 km/h)
Complement: 679
Armament:
(1936, designed)
8 × 8-inch (203 mm) guns in four twin turrets
8 × 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns
12 × 40 mm AA guns
3 × 20 mm AA guns
12 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes in triple mounts above water
(1969)
8 × 8-inch (203 mm) guns in four twin turrets
8 × 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns
8 40/70 Bofors
Armor:
Belt 2 in (51 mm)
Deck 1.5–1 in (38–25 mm)
Magazine 4 in (102 mm) box around
Turrets 1 in (25 mm), also splinter sheilds were added to 4.7″ mounts in 1940.
Conning tower 1 in (25 mm)

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

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