Nasty making it back

Official caption: “MACV/SOG Naval Advisory Detachment: Two Nasty-class PTF’s returning at dawn from a sea commando mission into the DMZ area in 1971. This was a particularly successful mission, with no friendly casualties.”

From the Frederick J. Vogel Collection (COLL/5577) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division

With the hundreds of wooden PT boats all liquidated shortly after WWII ended, the Navy in the 1960s found themselves in need of a handful of small, fast, and heavily armed craft for “unorthodox operations” in Southeast Asia.

These wooden-hulled Norwegian-designed 80-foot boats, powered by a pair of Napier Deltic turbocharged diesel engines, could make 38-knots but, with a 40mm Bofors single, an M2 .50 cal/81mm combo, and 20mm cannons, they could deal some hurt.

Crew members man a 40mm Bofors gun on a PTF Jan. 5, 1973. Photo by Fred Maroon. NARA DN-ST-88-07400

Gunnery exercises aboard PTF

Some 20 were acquired in the early 60s (numbered PTF-2 to PTF-23), six lost in combat, and, laid up at Subic after 1973, retired by 1981.

PTF Nasty boats laid up at Subic Bay

More on the Nasties here

Zapping lionfish without thumping your eardrums

A Florida spearfisherman who has been sniping invasive fish on their home turf has plans to release his “underwater suppressor” to the public.

Courtland Hunt, a spearfisherman out of Anna Maria Island, has been documenting his on-going sea hunt between man and lionfish with gently-modified Gen 3 Glock 17, lead-free ammo, and purpose-built muzzle device for the past couple years.

Now, branded as the FireFish, the NFA-compliant underwater suppressor (which is baffleless and doesn’t en-quiet anything above water), is nearing production.

I dig the shoot/don’t shoot trials…

More in my column at Guns.com

The bells of Balangiga

In the (believed) friendly village of Balangiga, on the morning of 28 September 1901, local Filipino insurgents fell on the regulars of C Company, 9th U.S. Infantry, during the unit’s breakfast, effectively putting most of the 78-man unit on the casualty list.

As noted by the Army’s Center for Military History in a colossal understatement, “The Army retaliated brutally, killing large numbers of civilians as well as insurgents. When American military authorities court-martialed soldiers accused of atrocities, the trials fed the flames of controversy at home.”

Brig. Gen. Jacob Hurd Smith, USA and Major Littleton Waller, USMC, both underwent separate courts-martial for their roles in the punitive campaign. At their trials, both officers maintained that they had followed orders and Waller was acquitted but Smith drummed out of the service. A veteran of the Battle of Shiloh (from which he carried a Minie ball in his hip for the rest of his life), Smith’s call to leave the area as a “howling wilderness” and effectively shoot any male older than 10 earned him the label of “The Monster” in the press of the day. Regardless, he later was interred at Arlington National Cemetery.

Part of Smith’s legacy was the capture or otherwise taking away of three church bells during the Samar campaign as war trophies. Today, one is at slated-for-deactivation Camp Red Cloud in Uijeongbu (former home of the 9th INF), while the other two are rusting away at F.E. Warren AFB (formerly Fort D.A. Russell) in Wyoming. With the only unit of the 9th, the 4th battalion, currently stateside at Fort Carson, and the Philippines increasingly vital to U.S. interests in the Far East (read = South China Sea), Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis visited Warren this week and announced the beginning of the process to return of the Bells of Balangiga to the Philippines in front of the two bells located there.

“To those who fear we lose something by returning the bells please hear me when I say the bells mark time, but courage is timeless,” said Mattis. “It does not fade in history’s dimly lit corridors nor is it forgotten in history’s compost.”
Presenting the bells supports our nation’s continued partnership with the Philippines.

Jose Romualdez, Philippine Ambassador to the United States, and Defense Secretary James N. Mattis stand for a photo, Nov. 14, 2018, in front of the bells of Balangiga on F.E. Warren Air Force Base, Wyo. During the visit, the Bells of Balangiga were officially presented to the Philippine government. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Braydon Williams)

“History teaches us that nations with allies thrive,” said Mattis. “It reminds us too that all wars end. By returning the Bells of Balangiga to our ally and our friend the Philippines we pick up the responsibility of our generation to deepen the respect between our people.”

Steadfast in loyalty

This Bavarian Pickelhaube spiked helmet likely was brought back to the United States as a war souvenir after the Great War. The motto on the helmet “In Treue fest” translates as, “steadfast in loyalty,” and was the motto of the Kingdom of Bavaria. Said kingdom largely ceased to exist on 7 November 1918, when King Ludwig III fled from the Residenz Palace in Munich with his family, in effect relinquishing the 700-year Wittelsbach dynasty to the self-proclaimed socialist People’s State of Bavaria (Volksstaat Bayern) of theatre critic Kurt Eisner who would, in the absence of an official abdication by Ludwig, awkwardly and briefly fill the void.

German helmet, probably acquired by soldier Walker Harrison Jordon, ca. 1918. Jordan Family Papers, Manuscript Division, Library of Congress (193.00.00)

 

Don’t throw dice on Patrick’s watch

New York-born Marsena Rudolph Patrick (USMA 1835) spent 15 years in the Army, fighting against Mexico and in the Seminole campaigns, resigning to head to the private sector after reaching the rank of captain in 1850. When the Civil War came, he was quickly made New York state militia’s inspector general and by 1862 was a brigadier of volunteers from the Empire State.

After seeing service at Antietam, Joe Hooker made him a sort of spymaster general, as head of the Bureau of Military Information, and was later head of the provost marshal forces in NoVA, leaving the service again as a Maj. Gen (Volunteers), in June 1865.

Culpeper, Va.: Provost Marshal General Marsena R. Patrick (center) and staff, Sept. 1863 by Brady photographer Timothy O’Sullivan, LOC LC-B8171-7075

Patrick did not abide fools and his punishments were legion. The below drawing by Alfred R. Waud in October 1863, now in the Library of Congress, shows men of the 96th New York playing endless games of dice, Patrick’s detail for those caught gambling.

LC-DIG-ppmsca-21212 (digital file from original item) LC-USZC4-4185 (color film copy transparency) LC-USZCN4-278 (color film copy neg.) LC-USZ62-14781 (b&w film copy neg.) LC-USZ62-6977 (b&w film copy neg.)

From the drawing board of a Budapest banker

So I’ve been fooling with a vintage Frommer Stop this week. You do know of Rudolf Frommer, a bespectacled and balding banker who resembled the fictional Ernst Stavro Blofeld and, among other claims to fame, compiled the first Hungarian-German Stock Exchange dictionary of terms, yes?

Although not a trained engineer, after the banker joined the management of the Hungarian gun company FEG in 1896 to help it restructure after insolvency, he started taking out patents on his early semi-auto pistol designs. While interesting, they were over-engineered. However, they worked and over 300,000 of his Stop models were produced between 1910 and 1929, seeing service with military and police forces throughout Central Europe in both World Wars.

More in my column at Guns.com

The sad and drawn out death of a modern frigate

Unless you have been under a rock, the saga of the Royal Norwegian Navy’s Fridtjof Nansen-class AEGIS frigate HNoMS Helge Ingstad (F313), which somehow collided with the Maltese-flagged oil tanker Sola TS last week. The incident, while Ingstad was performing navigational training in the inner Fjords at 0400, left the relatively new 5,300-ton FF fighting for her life.

Foto: Marius Villanger / Forsvaret

That’s not gonna buff out. Foto: Jakob Østheim / Forsvaret

As noted by the Norwegian Navy at the time, she was grounded and started listing:

Due to the damage to the frigate it was moved to a safe place and the crew was evacuated in a professional manner. There are no reports of damages or leaks from the oil tanker and no report of serious injuries, though eight crewmembers are being treated for minor injuries.

Now, after a week of attempting to save her, the list grew and she is all but on the bottom at this point.

Foto: Jakob Østheim / Forsvaret

Foto: Jakob Østheim / Forsvaret

Even if she is raised, it’s unlikely that her expensive AN/SPY-1F 3-D radar and other sensors are going to be up to snuff after weeks, or months, in salt water. The class cost $500 million per ship, with about half of that in weapon systems and electronics, mostly spent with Lockheed-Martin and Kongsberg as well as a host of other European tech companies.

Norway only built five of the Nansen-class frigates, a modification of the Spanish Navy’s Álvaro de Bazán-class vessels. The theory on five was to have four in the rotation for normal deployment with the fifth boat as a “spare” to allow for training, extended dry dock-level maintenance, and overseas operations (the class has been involved in EU counter-piracy ops off Somalia and UN efforts off Syria). That flexibility is now gone.

Ingstad was part of Standing NATO Maritime Group One (SNMG1) and had just participated in the giant Trident Juncture 2018 meant to be a show of force on display for Moscow. U.S. Navy Adm. James G. Foggo, head of the 6th Fleet, even spent some time on her decks.

So naturally, the Russians are talking much smack about the whole thing on state-owned media. (Google: Kursk, or Admiral Kuznetsov, to see about the whole pot and kettle thing).

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