USS Mannert L. Abele, found

The only warship named for CDR Mannert Lincoln “Jim” Abele (USNA 1926), a posthumous Navy Cross-earning submarine skipper who was thought to have bagged three Japanese destroyers in a single day before disappearing with his command (USS Grunion, SS-216) off Alaska in 1942, the Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733) was laid down at Bath in Maine in late 1943, sponsored by his widow, Catharine, and commissioned at Boston Navy Yard, on Independence Day 1944.

USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733) Off the Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts, 1 August 1944, soon after commissioning. She is wearing Camouflage Measure 32, Design 11A. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 46646

Our destroyer soon transited to the Pacific and was part of Kelly Turner’s Task Force (TF) 51 off Iwo Jima and later Okinawa, where, unfortunately, she was the first U.S. warship sunk by a Japanese suicide rocket bomb– the same day Franklin Roosevelt passed.

One of these, as seen at the Pima Air and Space Museum (Photo: Chris Eger)

As noted by NHHC:

On April 12, 1945, Mannert L. Abele was operating 75 miles off the northern coast of Okinawa, when enemy aircraft appeared on radar. Mannert L. Abele engaged with, and damaged, multiple enemy aircraft, until eventually an aircraft managed to crash abreast of the after-fireroom on the starboard side, penetrating the after-engine room. A minute later, the ship was hit at the waterline by a Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) rocket-powered human-guided bomb, and the resulting explosion caused the ship’s bow and stern to buckle rapidly.

Now, the NHHC has confirmed the identity of a wreck site located in Japanese waters as USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733) on 25 May.

NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) used information provided by Tim Taylor, an ocean explorer and CEO of Tiburon Subsea, and Taylor’s “Lost 52 Project” team to confirm the identity of the destroyer.

WWII Sumner Class Destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele multi-beam sonar 4500 feet deep offshore Okinawa Japan (Lost 52 Project)

WWII Sumner Class Destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele Bow Hull Number 733. (Lost 52)

Mannert L. Abele is the final resting place for 84 American Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country,” said NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, U.S. Navy rear admiral (retired). “My deepest thanks and congratulations to Tim Taylor and his team for discovering this wreck site. Its discovery allows some closure to the families of those lost, and provides us all another opportunity to remember and honor them.”

Alpine Traditions

These interesting snapshots are from the Austrian Bundesheer, the federal army founded in 1955, the first such force since the Germans crossed the border in 1938. Today’s force holds a number of longstanding traditions going back to the old Austro-Hungarian K.u.K. “Imperial and Royal” army of Franz Josef’s days.

These include the use of Kappenabzeichen, or cap badges, a practice that got a little out of control in the Great War.

Also, the current Feldkappe, or Kapperl, which resembles the M1908 Fieldmutze more than the bad old M43 WWII-era cap, is also used to hold the ammo draw for annual small arms quals.

This practice goes back to the Tyrolean regiments where reservists would report, hold out their alpine-style cap to receive their range ammo, then wait for their turn with the guns on the line.

They used Steyrs back then, too.

Contested Logistics: Pacific War

This photograph shows four Vought OS-2 Kingfishers of Scouting Squadron 2 (VS-2) on Bora Bora. A Quonset hut is visible behind the line of trees and camouflage netting. Bora Bora, whose conditions were primitive in the extreme, was one of the Navy’s first logistical lessons in early 1942. It would not be its last (NHHC, UA 460.08)

Just published by the Naval History and Heritage Command is a fantastic 108-page pdf on the most unsung part of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific War- logistics.

Of MOBAT, WOMBAT & CONBAT

1st Kings Regiment, with a Wombat 120mm recoilless rifle

I’ve always been a fan of the simple recoilless rifle that was the British Army’s B.A.T. (Battalion Anti-Tank Gun), an interesting 700-pound 120mm gun that would replace the Ordnance QF 17-pounder. Manned a three-person crew, they could fire 28-pound HESH shells, that were capable of defeating up to 400mm of armor, out to 1,800m. Nevertheless, even if it didn’t penetrate, a HESH had a terrific concussive effect on any vehicle. In short, the BAT could really ring a bell.

The Tank Museum has just published a great video lecture on the BAT, and its related L2 Mobat (without a gun shield, Mobile BAT), L6 Wombat (Weapon Of Magnesium BAT), and Conbat (“Converted BAT”) variants.

It runs about 16 minutes. Enjoy!

Vermont, heading out

How about these epic shots via General Dynamics Electric Boat of the Block IV Virginia-class hunter killer USS Vermont (SSN-792) heading out from the Groton shipyard on sea trials on 6 May following her Post Shakedown Availability (PSA).

She is the 19th boat of the class and the third vessel of the Navy to be named for the U.S. state of Vermont, following in the wake of the Great White Fleet era Connecticut class battleship and an unfinished ship of the line authorized in 1816.

Emerging from the mud

I am on the road this week and too short on time for a proper Warship Wednesday. However, with Memorial Day on the horizon, and the fact this is an 80-year-old shot today, it seems appropriate.

Official caption: “Damaged USS Oklahoma (Battleship No. 37) raised after capsizing. She is shown being pulled to an even keel. The photograph was released on May 24, 1943.”

 Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-41598

Oklahoma received one battle star for her World War II service, at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

As detailed by DANFS:

Twenty of Oklahoma’s officers and 395 of her enlisted men were either killed or missing, 32 others wounded, and many were trapped within the capsized hull, to be saved by heroic rescue efforts.

While her able-bodied survivors were reassigned immediately to other ships, on 29 December 1941, Oklahoma was placed under the Base Force and placed “in ordinary” [a non-commissioned status].

The difficult salvage job began in March 1943, and, finally righted in a herculean effort, Oklahoma entered dry dock on 28 December. Decommissioned on 1 September 1944 and made available by the Bureau of Ships to CinCPac as a hulk on 28 October 1944, Oklahoma was stricken from the Navy Register on 22 November 1944.

Stripped of guns and superstructure, she was sold on 5 December 1946 to Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Calif., but while en route from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco, ex-Oklahoma parted her tow lines and sank on 17 May 1947, 540 miles from her destination.

Marshal-Admiral, departing

80 years ago today: The ashes of Marshal-Admiral (posthumous) Isoroku Yamamoto return to the Empire of Japan aboard the Yamato-class super dreadnought Musashi, 23 May 1943, his last flagship, prior to a full state funeral to be held two weeks later.

He had been eliminated the month prior in a special mission (Operation Vengeance), in which P-38 Lightnings from the 339th Fighter Squadron downed his relatively lightly escorted transport bomber over Bougainville.

“Mission Accomplished” by Roy Grinnell, depicting Lt Rex Barber downing Yamamoto’s Betty, 18 April 1943

Legend had it he was found in the jungle, thrown clear of the wreckage, his white-gloved hand grasping the hilt of his katana, still upright in his seat under a tree. Less widely disseminated was that he was the recipient of a burst of .50 cal tracer.

While Yamamoto had indeed “run amok” across the Pacific for the first six months of the war, his track record for the last 10 months of his command was by far less successful. The command baton for the Combined Fleet would be passed to Admiral Mineichi Koga, who would also be killed when his plane went down in March 1944.

While Musashi has long been on the bottom of the Pacific, Yamamoto’s G4M1 Model 11 Betty, Manufacture Number 2656, Tail 323, is still on Bougainville and is a popular, if remote, attraction for those who know.

First Flight III Burke Just Finished trials

The future USS Jack H. Lucas (DDG 125), the first Flight III Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, has been quietly under construction at Ingalls since 2019, just marked the successful completion of acceptance trials

The below images from HII:

Flight III configured destroyers include the new AN/SPY-6(V)1 Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) and the Aegis Baseline 10 Combat System.

Of note, the final Ingalls-built Flight IIA ship, Lenah Sutcliffe Higbee (DDG 123), sailed away from Ingalls in April and was commissioned this month in Key West, Florida.

Vale, Capt. Brown

Besides a long and distinguished career as a Hall of Fame running back for the Cleveland Browns, the recently departed James Nathaniel “Jim” Brown was commissioned as a second lieutenant through Army ROTC in 1955 from Syracuse University.

Jim Brown in his ROTC uniform in 1955 with Archbold Stadium in the background

He served his military training commitment at Ft. Benning, continued his reserve service for four more years, and was eventually honorably discharged from the Army Reserve in 1959 with the rank of captain. He was selected for induction into the inaugural class of the U.S. Army ROTC National Hall of Fame in 2016.

He also had one heck of a screen presence in some of the best war movies of the 1960s including as Jefferson in The Dirty Dozen, Capt. Anders in Ice Station Zebra, Sgt. Ruffo in the Congo merc-sploitation film Dark of the Sun, and in the tremendously underrated heist flick, The Split (in which he carried a Registered Magnum).

Plus, let us not forget that great 1996 documentary, Mars Attacks.

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