Canvas and steel, 130 years ago today

Here we see the early Boston-class protected cruiser USS Atlanta in Boston harbor, 11 August 1890, with bluejackets on her yardarms during the Eastern Yacht Club Regatta.

A member of the so-called “New Navy” of the 1880s, Atlanta, and her sistership Boston were some of the first steel warships of the U.S. Navy and showcased such modern attributes as steel armor plating, rapid-fire breechloading guns, and complex steam engineering plants. Still, as a throwback to the days of sail, they were also equipped with extensive auxiliary sail rigs to increase their cruising range– and provide insurance against powerplant failures.

These new and beautiful warships were assigned to the Squadron of Evolution, also referred to as the “White Squadron” for obvious reasons, which globetrotted the world prior in the decade leading up to the Spanish-American War, after which they were soon obsolete.

Still, they were beautiful in their time in the sun and inspired the artists of the day.

Painting of The White Squadron: USS ATLANTA, USS CHICAGO, USS YORKTOWN, and USS BOSTON with USS CHICAGO in the foreground. Watercolor by Fred S. Cozzens, 1892. Lithographed by Armstrong & Co. Copied from “Our Navy- Its Growth and Achievements,” copyright 1897. #: NH 335

“Peace” painting by Walter L. Dean, published in “Harper ‘s Weekly”‘ circa 1893. it shows the “White Squadron” in Boston Harbor, during the early 1890s. Ship in the center is USS Chicago. USS Newark is at left and USS Atlanta is at right. This painting is now in the U.S. Capitol. NH 95137

Baby (De)Eagles are back

Minnesota-based Magnum Research recently announced that the Baby Desert Eagle is returning to the market in both polymer and steel frame variants.

The current version, designated the Baby Eagle III by Magnum Research, is manufactured in Israel by BUL Transmark in several variants to include both 9mm and .45ACP steel-framed and 9mm and 40 S&W polymer-framed guns, with each offered in both full and semi-compact sizes.

All models include double-stack mags, a double/single-action trigger with a 12-pound/4-pound trigger pull, ambi decocking lever, reversible magazine catch, and accessory rail.

More in my column at Guns.com.

There are now 40 154-foot patrol craft in the USCG

The new Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutter (FRC) has been termed an operational “game-changer,” according to senior Coast Guard officials. Based on the Dutch Damen Stan 4708 platform with some mods for U.S. use, Louisiana’s Bollinger Shipyards won a contract for the first unit, USCGC Bernard C. Webber (WPC-1101), in 2008 and has been plowing right along ever since.

A couple weeks ago, the yard delivered the 40th FRC to the Coast Guard, not a bad job in just 12 years.

USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC-1140), note her 25mm gun has not been installed. Photo via Bollinger. 

The newest vessel, USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC-1140), was placed in commission, special status, on 30 July and will remain in Florida while the crew completes pre-commissioning trials and maintenance. The cutter is scheduled to arrive in Santa Rita, Guam, later in 2020, and will be the second of three planned FRCs stationed in Guam, an important upgrade to sea surveillance and patrol capabilities in America’s forward-deployed territorial bastion.

“The Fast Response Cutters are a real game-changer here in the Pacific for the Coast Guard,” said LCDR Jessica Conway, the Coast Guard 14th District’s patrol boat manager. “Already the FRCs stationed here in Hawaii are conducting longer missions over greater distances than the older patrol boats they are replacing.”

FRCs have a flank speed of 28 knots, a state of the art C4ISR suite, a stern launch and recovery ramp for a 26-foot over-the-horizon interceptor cutter boat, and a combat suite that includes a remote-operated Mk38 25mm chain gun and four crew-served M2 .50 cals.

Note the 25mm gun forward. Unlike older models, it is the stabilized Mod 2 variant with a day/night electro-optical sight. The Mod 2 has shown to be 3x more likely to hit a target than the eyeball-trained and manually-slewed Mod 0/1 guns.  

While listed as having a range of ~2,500nm, FRCs have deployed on 4,400nm round-trip patrols to the Marshall Islands from Hawaii– completing two at-sea refuelings from a Coast Guard buoy tender– and have shown themselves particularly adept at expeditionary operations in devastated littorals in the aftermath of hurricanes. Further, the class has deployed to the coast of South America in joint Operations Tradewinds exercises for the past two years.

U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Oliver Berry staging out of San Diego headed to Oahu,  2,600-nm West on a solo trip. Not bad for a yacht-sized patrol boat

“Here in the Pacific one of our greatest challenges is distance,” said Conway. “With the FRCs boasting a larger crew size and greater endurance, they are able to complete missions both close to shore and over the horizon, aiding both the people of Guam and our partners in the region.”

In a hat tip to the fact they are so much more capable, the USCG uses the WPC hull designation, used last by the old “buck and a quarter” 125-foot cutters of the Prohibition-era with these crafts, rather than the WPB patrol boat designation of the ships they are replacing.

Most important, later in 2020, Bollinger will be delivering the first of a half-dozen FRCs to the USCG that will be home-ported in Manama, Bahrain, to replace the 1980s-vintage 110-foot Island Class Patrol Boats supporting Patrol Forces Southwest Asia, the service’s largest unit outside of the United States. PATFORSWA is almost continually engaged with Iranian asymmetric forces in the Persian Gulf region.

206 Days and a Rail Manning

The Eisenhower Strike Group returned home Sunday after an epic 206 days at sea– without a port call. Yikes.

USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) marking her 200th day at sea last week. It is hard to show another Navy that could rack up almost seven months afloat on an all-underway replenishment cruise with no port calls. 

The accomplishment is a record for the modern Navy. The next longest period without a port call for a carrier group was back in 2002 when USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) operated for 160 days straight in support of the Post-9/11 response.

Sure, you can point out that carriers on Yankee Station regularly pulled off 8-9 month West Pac cruises during Vietnam in the 1960s and 70s, but they would at least get some downtime in Hong Kong, Singapore, or Australia during that time. Ike, with nine squadrons of her embarked Carrier Air Wing 3, and the escorting AAW cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56), did not.

As noted by CSG10 commander:

Carrier Strike Group TEN left Naval Station Norfolk Jan. 17, 2020, and returned home today, Aug. 9, 2020. From the Composite Unit Training Exercise straight into deployment, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Sea, from the Strait of Gibraltar through the Suez Canal and Bab-al-Mandeb to the Strait of Hormuz, we traversed about 60,000 nautical miles of the globe’s oceans in 206 consecutive days.

In that span of space and time, we escorted a convoy across the Atlantic Ocean in support of Operation Agile Defender to practice evading submarine forces and deliver 1.3 million square feet of combat cargo for the first time in more than five decades. In 6th Fleet, we helped foster meaningful partnerships with our allied NATO navies in multinational high-end exercises with Italy, Turkey, Greece, and France.

Our deployment to 5th Fleet was robust in the arenas of Theater Security Cooperation and Maritime Security Operations. We provided layered defense at the three chokepoints and throughout the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, and Gulf of Aden.

We conducted 166 sorties and 1,135 flight hours in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel missions, and 112 sorties and 492 flight hours in support of Strait of Hormuz transits and Deliberate Presence Patrols.

More than just a green plug

On this day, 75 years ago, 9 August 1945, a 509th Composite Group Boeing Block 36 Silverplate B-29-36-MO Superfortress SN 44-27297, Victor 77, dubbed Bockscar by her normal crew, piloted by the 393d Bombardment Squadron’s commander, MAJ Charles W. Sweeney, dropped the “Fat Man” A-bomb with a blast yield equivalent to 21 kilotons of TNT over the city of Nagasaki, which had two large Mitsubishi plants, with the aim point of the device plotted roughly between the two factories.

It was the plane’s fourth combat mission.

In the West Point Museum is Fat Man’s safety fuze for the atom bomb.

Bockscar took off with this green “Safe” fuze in place and, while in flight, the bombardier, CPT. (later COL) Kermit K. Beahan, removed the green fuze and plugged in a red “Armed” fuze. (Photo via West Point Museum) 

This is the sole remaining part of the Nagasaki bomb while Bockscar itself is preserved at the National Museum of the United States Air Force. 

The green plug for the 13-kiloton “Little Boy,” the Hiroshima device, is at the Truman Library and Museum.

A planned third and fourth “Fat man” bombs were not needed.

St. Louis, arriving

Over the weekend, in an understated COVID-era ceremony, the latest USS St. Louis joined the fleet.

She is the 7th such vessel to carry the name and SECNAV made sure to touch on the missions of the first one, the 19th Century 24-gun sloop-of-war, rather than the two 20th Century cruisers with the same legacy. Because mission.

“Nearly 200 years after the first ship to bear the name was launched, today we commission the seventh USS St. Louis,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite. “Much like that sloop of war did in 1828, LCS-19 and her crew will protect the U.S. and our interests near and abroad. Whether conducting counter-narcotic operations in the Caribbean or working to enhance interoperability with partners and allies at sea, USS St. Louis will provide maneuverability, stability, and lethality in today’s era of Great Power Competition.”

St. Louis is the 22nd LCS to be delivered to the Navy, and the tenth of the Freedom-variant to join the fleet and is the seventh ship to bear the name. The first St. Louis, a sloop of war, was launched in 1828. It spent the majority of its service patrolling the coasts of the Americas to secure interests and trade. In addition, it served as the flagship for the West Indies Squadron working to suppress piracy in the Caribbean Sea, the Antilles, and the Gulf of Mexico region.

Of course, the most celebrated St. Louis in U.S. Navy history was past Warship Wednesday Alum “Lucky Lou,” the Brooklyn-class light cruiser that was the first to clear the Channel at Pearl Harbor and went on to earn 11 battle stars in WWII before going on to serve Brazil as the Lobster War flagship Almirante Tamandaré for another quarter-century.

BBQ…swords?

Today the term “BBQ Gun” floats around for those who utilize a nice or customized handgun for some sort of open carry, be they a small-town sheriff ala Longmire style or just someone who likes to exercise their 2A rights with a little flair.

The Nighthawk Custom Hi-Power is a good example of a BBQ gun…functional by all means, but something you would want to show off a bit if you carry it

In the old days, this was simply just done with swords.

Smallsword, plaques by Wedgwood (British, founded 1759), about 1790. steel, faceted, burnished, blued and gilded, iron, and stoneware (Jasperware). The John Woodman Higgins Armory Collection, Worcester Art Museum 2014.49.

As noted about the above beautiful blade by the WAM:

Stylish men wore swords as part of their daily wear from the 1500s until the 1700s. This superb smallsword was made shortly before civilian swords went permanently out of fashion. Its light, edgeless blade is designed for civilian dueling, but the real purpose of this weapon was to impress rather than kill. The cut-steel beadwork on the hilt imitates the look of diamonds, and the jasperware Wedgwood plaques feature neoclassical designs inspired by Roman and Etruscan archeological finds.

CMMG Banshee, now in Sig flavors

Missouri-based CMMG has added a new flavor to their Radial Delayed Blowback Banshee series, one that accepts Sig Sauer P320 magazines– the Mk17.

Available in both 5- and 8-inch Banshee pistol/SBR formats as well as the company’s 16-inch barreled Resolute series carbines, CMMG says the ability for the platform to have a variant that accepts P320 mags is key.

The CMMG Banshee Mk17 uses the company’s patented radial delayed blowback system billed as having less felt recoil than direct blowback 9mm ARs and uses CMMG’s MKGS upper group. Best of all, it shares the same P320 mags as the Sig Sauer M17. (Photo: CMMG)

More in my column at Guns.com

Bofors/Breda 40s still at work

NATO Maritime Group Two (SNMG2) and Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group Two (SNMCMG2) recently poked around in the Black Sea, operating with the Bulgarian and Ukrainian navies, which no doubt gave the Russians a bit of heartburn.

SNMG2, under Spanish RADM Aguirre (no Klaus Kinski jokes, please) included three frigates, one each from Spain, Romania, and Turkey– the latter two being Black Sea countries.

Meanwhile, SNMCMG2, under CDR Katsouras of the Greek Navy, consisted of three minesweepers, one each from Italy, Spain, and Turkey, with Katsouras commanding the group from his flagship HS Aliakmon (A470).

Built during the 1960s at Bremer-Vulcan in then-West Germany as the 3,700-ton Type 701 Lüneburg-class trossschiff (TS= supply ship) Saarburg (A1415), Aliakmon served with the Bundesmarine in the Baltic and the North Sea, acting as a mothership to minesweepers and patrol boats, until 1994 when she was sold to the Greeks to began her second career.

The image of the Greek support vessel from NATO this month showed something interesting:

How about that beautiful Breda Type 106 Twin 40 mm/L70s

These guns were 1950s Italian updates to the venerable old twin Bofors designs and use a 32-round ready mag, topped off by 4-shell clips, much like the WWII models. This specific style of gun was just used by the Germans, primarily on their Hamburg-class destroyers and Lüneburg-class tenders.

Their continued use by the Greeks now means they are almost the last twin Bofors-style 40mms still afloat as the Canadians retired theirs, used on the Kingston-class OPVs, in 2014.

A few coast guards, such as in Iceland, still run 40mm Bofors for warning shots or to destroy derelicts at sea, and a couple mounts are in the Philipines on old PCEs– which are rapidly being retired– but that’s about it.

Aliakmon carries two twin Bredas as well as two twin Rheinmental 20mm guns, all of them optically-guided and manually-operated.

Battleship Nukes

While a number of battleships met their end at the hand of atomics at Bikini Atoll, likely the only dreadnoughts to carry nuclear weapons for tactical use were the Iowa class.

Those fast battleships “may have” toted such devices in two forms.

Between 1956 and 1962, the Navy had a limited stockpile of about 50 MK-23/W23 nuclear shells for the Iowas‘ 16-inch guns, each with a yield of some 15-20 kilotons, with each ship of the class equipped to carry as many as 10 of these mushroom makers. Of note, Hiroshima’s Little Boy was a 15kt bomb.

Then in the 1980s came TLAM-Ns, the so-called nuclear Tomahawk cruise missile with its W80 150 kiloton warhead. First fielded in selected fleet units, only about 300 made were produced and the Obama administration dismantled them in 2010.

Below is a great video done by the curator of the USS New Jersey (BB-62) Museum, where he shows off the (possibly) TLAM-N related areas of the ship, including the panels, Marine guard post, and ABLs.

Station HYPO

Celebrating the Past, Present and Future of Navy Cryptology

National Guard Marksmanship Training Center

Official site for National Guard marksmanship training and competitions

tacticalprofessor

Better to stay out of trouble than to get out of trouble.

Yokosuka Sasebo Japan

The U.S. Navy and the Western Pacific

The Writer in Black

News and views from The Writer in Black

Stephen Taylor, WW2 Relic Hunter

World War 2 Historian, Relic Hunter and expert in identification of WW2 relics

USS Gerald R. Ford

Mission Ready, Qualified & Competent, On Time Execution!

The Unwritten Record

Exploring History with the National Archives Special Media Division

Stuff From Hsoi

Writing about whatever interests me, and maybe you.

Louisville Gun

Thoughts and Musings on Gun Control & Crime

CIVILIAN GUNFIGHTER

Identifying the Best Training, Tools, and Tactics for the Armed Civilian!

MountainGuerrilla

Nous Defions!

Under Every Leaf.

A Site for the British Empire 1860-1913

JULESWINGS

Military wings and things

Meccanica Mekaniikka Mecanică

The Mechanix of Auto, Aviation, Military...pert near anything I feel relates to mechanical things, places, events or whatever I happen to like. Even non-mechanical artsy-fartsy stuff.

Eatgrueldog

Where misinformation stops and you are force fed the truth III

%d bloggers like this: