Assiniboine takes a scalp

Some 80 years ago today, on 6 August 1942, the Royal Canadian Navy’s C-class destroyer leader HMCS Assiniboine (I18) turned herself into a knife to slice up a German sausage in the form of a U-boat

Ordered in 1929 for the Royal Navy as HMS Kempenfelt, she joined the British fleet in 1932 and served until the outbreak of World War II, when shortly after Hitler sent his legions over the Polish border, the 1,400-ton tin can moved over to the Canadians and was given her Assiniboine moniker (just “Bones” to her crew) and was soon busting German blockade runners in the Caribbean. Allocated for mid-ocean escort service in June 1941, she would ride shotgun on a staggering 71 convoys.

This brings us to Kptlt. Rudolf Lemcke’s U-210, a Krupp-built Type VIIC operating with the Steinbrinck wolfpack some 20-days into her first war patrol.

From the excellent Post Mortems On Enemy Submarines – Serial No. 4 in the NHHC collection:

At 1325 on August 6, in a patch of clear weather, H. M. C. S. Assiniboine, forming part of the escort of S. C. 94 from Halifax to the United Kingdom, sighted a conning tower bearing 30° range 6 miles. At 1338 she fired three salvos, before the last of which the U-boat altered course to port and dived. It has been positively established by survivors’ statements that this boat was not U-210Assiniboine arrived in the vicinity of this U-boat’s diving position at 1357 and altered course to 330°, this being the estimated course of the U-boat before she dived. Assiniboine then carried out a box sweep in the area, at 1418 firing a pattern of depth charges set at 100 to 225 feet, but with no evident results, and continued to sweep in the presumed track of this U-boat.

At 1912 Assiniboine sighted a conning tower bearing 120° at 2,000 yards retiring at full speed into the fog. At 2036, with visibility about 2,000 yards, she established a Radar contact bearing 270°. Almost immediately she sighted U-210, stopped. Then U-210 went ahead at full speed and altered course to starboard, disappearing into the fog after Assiniboine had fired one round. Assiniboine, hearing H. E. at this time bearing 300°, increased speed, but misjudged the distance she had run and, thinking she had passed the U-boat’s position, altered to 345°, the target’s estimated course. She then realized her mistake, and altered course back to 190°. Visibility was then 600 to 800 yards.

At 2000 the bridge watch was relieved aboard U-210, the following men coming on duty: Quartermaster Holst, Coxswain Krumm, Monbach, and Meetz. Mueller relieved Mycke at the helm. Mueller is believed to have stood alone in the conning tower at this time. As none of the bridge watch survived the following action, accounts of the sinking of U-210 are limited to his statements and those of men below decks.

According to Mueller, fog closed around the U-boat as the watch was relieved and Lemcke, thinking that U-210 was safely hidden, came below to eat his supper. A few minutes later Mueller heard confused sounds of shouting and firing above, and Lemcke and Tamm passed him on the way to the bridge. General alarm was sounded throughout the U-boat, by buzzers in the forward compartments and by flickering green and red lights in the engine room, as the crew were eating their evening meal.

–13–

View from aboard Assiniboine.
Assiniboine.

–14–

Closing in on the sub.
closes

–15–

Ship along side submarine.
enemy.

–16–

Assiniboine takes a scalp.
Assiniboine takes a scalp.

–17–

At 2050 Assiniboine gained another Radar contact at 035° on the starboard bow, range 1,200 yards. She closed it at full speed and about 1 minute later sighted U-210, still on the surface. She closed to ram at full speed, having first housed the dome and prepared a 50-foot depth-charge pattern.

Both vessels opened fire and for about 25 minutes a furious action ensued at almost point-blank range. U-210 took a constant evading action, and Assiniboine was forced to go full astern on the inside engine to prevent U-210 getting inside her turning circle, which the U-boat seemed to be trying to do. During some of this action the two vessels were so close that Assiniboine‘s company could see Lemcke on U-210‘s bridge bending down to pass wheel orders.

Aboard U-210 no effort was made to dive immediately nor could anyone reach the 8.8-cm. gun, but fire from Assiniboine was returned by Holst, manning the 2-cm. gun at a range of approximately 200 yards. Explosive bullets were used and started a second-degree fire in Assiniboine‘s forecastle, spreading aft almost to the bridge.

Lemcke was blamed posthumously by his men for not submerging at once, but the volume of smoke pouring from the destroyer apparently led him to believe that he had damaged her considerably, and encouraged him to prolong the action. Prisoners also stated that he felt he could escape on the surface through the protecting fog, if need be.

Assiniboine‘s first hits damaged one of U-210‘s port trimming tanks. The bridge was then struck by machine gun bullets. Holst was shot through the neck and killed outright, and Krumm was badly wounded. An instant later Assiniboine scored a direct hit with her 4.7 gun on the conning tower, the shell making a shambles of the bridge.

A prisoner stated that Lemcke was literally blown to pieces, and that Krumm, lying wounded, was virtually decapitated. It is assumed that Tamm also suffered a violent death.

Mueller believed that a body was flung against the torpedo firing mechanism, releasing an unset torpedo. Between them prisoners counted three more direct hits: One through the forward torpedo tubes, another which carried away the deck covering between the 8.8-cm. gun and the forward torpedo hatch – neither causing leaks in the pressure hull – and one aft which smashed the screws, water entering the boat. The boat was down by the stern, the electric motors had caught fire, and the round hitting the conning tower had severely damaged the Diesel air-intake.

During the action an attempt was also made to fire one torpedo.

The tube’s crew was told to stand by, but the order was never given.

With the conning tower practically demolished, Sorber, the engineer officer, now attempted to dive U-210. As the boat submerged, she

–18–

was rammed to starboard by Assiniboine abaft the conning tower and over the galley hatch (Kombüsenluke). U-210 descended to a depth of 18 meters. Water was flooding into the boat through the damaged Diesel air-intake, and through the battered stern. The electric motors had failed and everything breakable within the boat had been shattered.

Sorber gave the order to blow tanks and abandon ship, under the misapprehension that Göhlich, who had received superficial cuts, was too badly injured to make the ultimate decision. Sorber later reproached himself for surfacing and surrendering as he believed, upon subsequent reflection, that he might have been able to escape submerged. On surfacing, it was found that the water in the air-intake prevented the Diesels from being started and, according to survivors, U-210 remained stopped and slightly down by the stern. Assiniboine rammed again aft as U-210 surfaced, firing a shallow pattern of depth charges as she passed. The C. O. of the destroyer stated that the U-boat then sank by the head in 2 minutes.

Mueller stated that he stayed at his post until he heard the order. “Blow tanks; stand by life jackets!” He then left the helm as his life jacket was in the forward torpedo compartment and the men had been told never to take any but their own. He clambered through to the bow compartment, where he found a number of men abandoning ship through the forward torpedo hatch. Water was flooding through the hatch as he followed them. The majority of the engine-room personnel thought they were trapped when they found, first, that the galley hatch was jammed, and then, that they could not move the conning tower hatch which had become jammed by the direct hit on the bridge. Through their combined exertions they finally got the conning tower hatch open. The last man out of the control room stated that water was well over his boots there as he left.

When all were mustered, the engineer officer and one of the control room petty officers apparently went below, opened flooding valve 5 and put an explosive charge in the periscope shaft. There is a special opening in the shaft inside the boat for this purpose. The radio men threw overboard a number of secret papers, or burned them with incendiary leaflets. They also smashed the radio equipment with a hammer. Sorber himself denied that he had done anything more than open the seacocks before leaving the boat, as the last man out.

U-210 sank at 2114, H. M. S. Dianthus appearing out of the fog in time to see her go under. Although at the time of her sinking her after aerial was out of action and her Morse key broken, the chief radioman said he was able to send a signal reporting her sinking. Although this signal was much under power, he was sure that if B. d. U. did not receive it, one of the other U-boats in the vicinity did.

–19–

One survivor said that the radioman told them afterward that he had not been able to send any signals.

In view of the tremendous punishment taken by U-210 it is remarkable that the entire crew below decks escaped with their lives.

Bones would survive the war and be scrapped in 1952 with three Battle Honours (Atlantic 1939-45, Biscay 1944, English Channel 1944-45).

Four years later a new St-Laurent class destroyer (234) would perpetuate her name in the RCN, carrying it until 1995.

The battle between Bones and U-210 is remembered in maritime art. 

HMCS DIANTHUS IN THE DISTANCE. BONES BEATS U210 THE AUGUST 1942 SINKING OF THE GERMAN SUBMARINE, U210 BY HMCS ASSINIBOINE Tom Forrestal CWM 20110023-001

HMCS ASSINIBOINE by SubLt Beatty Grieve CWM 19740552-002-2487×2160

ASSINIBOINE VERSUS U-BOAT U-210 CDR Harold Bement CWM 19710261-1021

Guarding the P.R.

While the Commonwealth has a ton of reserve force installations (Fort Buchanan, Fort Allen, Campamento Santiago, Isla Verde training area, Punta Borinquen tracking station) that host the 8,700-strong Puerto Rico Army and Air Guard as well as reserve tenant activities from across DOD, there is little visible active military presence in Puerto Rico. After all, NAS Isla Grande closed in 1971, Ramey Air Force Base shut down in 1973, the Navy’s SOSUS facility at Ramey shuttered in 1976, and the famed “Rosey Roads” Naval Station wound down in the early 2000s following protests,

However, the Coast Guard maintains an extensive operation in the PR.

Coast Guard Puerto Rico’s Sector San Juan encompasses a 1.3 million square nautical miles area of responsibility throughout the Eastern Caribbean. The Sector includes two of the busiest ports in the nation, which receive over three million visitors and 11,000 vessel arrivals annually, including almost 1,600 cruise ships.

The Sector comprises more than 500 Active Duty and Reserve Sector personnel in 13 subordinate units, including seven fast response cutters, a Marine Safety Detachment, two Resident Inspection Offices, an Aids to Navigation Team, and a Tactical/Pursuit Station with two Boat Force Detachments.

Puerto Rico has an impressive squadron of seven new 154-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters, all received in the past seven years:

USCGC Richard Dixon (WPC-1113), a new FRC, one of seven deployed in Puerto Rico

  • Richard Dixon (WPC-1113)
  • Heriberto Hernandez (WPC-1114)
  • Joseph Napier (WPC-1115)
  • Winslow W. Griesser (WPC-1116)
  • Donald Horsley (WPC-1117)
  • Joseph Tezanos (WPC-1118)
  • Joseph Doyle (WPC-1133)

And they have been very busy earning snowflakes for large narco busts at sea.

Coast Guard artist Robert Selby recently compiled a triptych of the Sector, entitled, “Guardians of the Puerto Rican Coast,” after shipping out on one of the FRCs.
 

Sector San Juan operations are supported by Coast Guard Base San Juan and Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen, one of three major air stations in the Coast Guard’s Seventh District.

Coast Guard Air Station Borinquen operates from part of the old Ramsay AFB reservation and runs four MH60T Jayhawks– which replaced smaller MH65 Dolphins last year– while also supporting a variety of forward-deployed aircraft.

All told, the air station is home to 170 enlisted personnel, 35 officers, and 150 civilians.

Naval and Marine Aviation in a nutshell, from the Med to the Americas

This great shot from Neptune Shield 22 shows a U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornet (BuNo 169735), attached to the “Fighting Checkmates” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211– part of Carrier Air Wing One, assigned to USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) — flying alongside an Italian Marina Militare F-35B Lightning II (MM 7454) and an AV-8B II+ Harrier (MM 7200) somewhere over the Adriatic on 30 May of this year. It is a great way to see both the past and future of the USN/USMC’s front-line aviation and that of the Italian Navy.

(U.S. Navy courtesy photo. 220530-n-no874-1068)

The Italian Navy only has 14 Alenia Aeronautica-assembled Harriers left– of 18 ordered in 1990– in their Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati carrier air wing, with the type seeing combat over Libya a few years back. They are being replaced by 15 F-35Bs, with the intention to operate them from the country’s flagship carrier, the 27,000-ton Cavour.

Vigilance, Since 1790

Happy 232nd birthday, USCG!

Official caption: “Somewhere on the Pacific, an alert Coast Guardsman scans the horizon as he clutches his machine gun, looking for trouble.” Released 29 September 1942.

USCG Photo via the National Archives 26-G-09-29-42(6)

Incidentally, the Coasties were, as far as I can tell, the longest user of the Thompson submachine gun. The service picked up some M1921 Colts during Prohibition to fight bootleggers and rumrunners and continued to have WWII-era M1 Thompsons in the small arms lockers of cutters well into the 1970s, with some tapping in on Market Time during Vietnam.

What a Difference a Slow Parachute Makes

The below image: U.S. Paratroopers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade (Sep) and Italian Paracadutisti from Brigata “Folgore” conduct an airborne operation from a USAF C-17 Globemaster III in Pordenone, Italy, 7 July 2022.

U.S. Army photo by Paolo Bovo, Visual Information Specialist from Visual Information Division South – Vicenza.

As noted by PEO Soldier: The current individual “Non-Maneuverable Canopy (T-11) Personnel Parachute Systems” for the Army’s airborne units has benefits over the previous T-10 series as the new chute “has an average rate of descent of 19 feet per second for the 95th percentile Soldier, compared with 24 feet per second with the T-10D. This results in significantly lower landing injury rates for jumpers.”

As not noted by PEO Soldier, the slower descent rate also can equate to a larger dispersion of the stick due to wind-based scattering and more time in the air as a floating target when jumping into an unsecured drop zone. Hence, dropping at red zone heights, typically as low as 500 feet off the deck (compared to 1,250 feet during peacetime stateside jumps), and at night, are typical for combat jumps in an effort to help minimize said scattering and vulnerability. See= Little Groups of Paratroopers of WWII fame.

Battle of the (Hi-Power) Clones

I’ve been kicking around a pair of 21st-century Hi-Power clones with two different origin stories, and we have a few things to talk about.

John Browning’s GP design, as delivered to the firearms world in 1935 via Fabrique Nationale’s resident gun genius Dieudonne Saive, was given its gold watch by FN in early 2018, and BHP fans the world over wept. While Turkish gunmaker Tisas briefly sent their Regent BR9 clone over here, other one-time Hi-Power clones such as Israeli-made Kareens and imports of the same branded by Charles Daly, Dan Wesson, and Magnum Research were history.

Then came 2021.

In September of that year, EAA announced they were on the cusp of bringing in the Girsan-made MCP35 from Turkey while Springfield Armory in October started hinting around at the gun they would soon introduce as the SA-35. Both were different takes on the classic Hi-Power of old, offering new ways to satisfy that eager fan base that was left with separation anxiety after FN exited the BHP biz.

Since then, I’ve given each of these newcomers a series of tests and evaluations, including putting over 1,000 rounds through each model. With that, let’s see how they stack up against each other – and the ghosts of Hi-Powers past with which they must contend.

At the end of the day, it boils down to why you want a Hi-Power in the first place. Both guns are better clones than I have seen in some past efforts under other banners (see the FEG, PJK, and the Bulgarian Arcus 94). Heck, even when stacked against late-model FN MK IIIs assembled in Portugal in the 2000s, there is little to grouse about. This is firmly an apples-to-apples comparison.

More on said apples in my column at Guns.com.

Warship Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2022: Albacore Pancakes

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 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, Aug. 3, 2022: Albacore Pancakes

Note: on the road again this week enjoying some quiet time at a suppressed AR course at Gunsite, so our Warship Wednesday is a little abbreviated. Will be back to full-length WWs next week!

(All photos: Chris Eger)

Above we see the one-of-a-kind research submarine USS Albacore (AGSS-569) as I found her three weeks ago in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, landlocked as she has been in a custom-made display cradle along Market Street since 1985. While not an armed warship, Albacore was the bridge between all of the WWII-era fleet boats turned GUPPY just after the war as a result of lessons learned from advanced German U-boats, and today’s nuclear hunter-killers and boomers.

The third U.S. Navy ship to carry the name, as noted by DANFS:

The effectiveness of submarines in World War II convinced the Navy that undersea warfare would play an even more important role in comping conflicts and dictated the development of superior submarines. The effectiveness of submarines in World War II convinced the Navy that undersea warfare would play an even more important role in coming conflicts and dictated the development of superior submarines. The advent of nuclear power nourished the hope that such warships could be produced. The effort to achieve this goal involved the development of a nuclear propulsion system and the design of a streamlined submarine hull capable of optimum submerged performance.

Late in World War II a committee studied postwar uses of atomic energy and recommended the development of nuclear propulsion for ships.

Since nuclear power plants would operate without the oxygen supply needed by conventional machinery, and since techniques were available for converting carbon dioxide back to oxygen, the Navy’s submarine designers turned their attention to vessels that could operate for long periods without breaking the surface. Veteran submariners visualized a new type of submarine in which surface performance characteristics would be completely subordinated to high submerged speed and agility. In 1949 a special committee began a series of hydrodynamic studies which led to a program within the Bureau of Ships to determine what hull form would be best for submerged operation. The David Taylor Model Basin tested a series of proposed designs. The best two, one with a single propeller and the other with dual screws, were then tested in a wind tunnel at Langley Air Force Base, Va. The single-screw version was adopted, and the construction of an experimental submarine to this design was authorized on 25 November 1950.

Commissioned 6 December 1953 after three years of construction at Portsmouth NSY, her motto was Praenuntius Futuri (“Forerunner of the Future”) and she endured in the fleet until 1972 when she retired.

She is very well preserved, including her innovative control room.

I also found her extremely cramped, even more so than the 311-foot fleet boats that I have toured.

Her great handicap across her career was her GE GM EMD 16-338 “pancake” diesel engines, which stood some 13.5-feet tall and were about as wide as a refrigerator.

Cranky, they were also used on the six postwar Tang-class (SS-563) submarines until they were replaced with more reliable ten-cylinder Fairbanks-Morse opposed-piston 38D 8-1/8 diesels, leaving Albacore to languish with her cakes until she had exhausted all her spares.

Still, Albacore was a pioneer when it came to American sub tech, and the three boats of the follow-on Barbel-class– the last diesel-electric propelled attack submarines built by the U.S. Navy– were only a few feet longer than the test sub. Powered by Fairbanks-Morse diesels, the Barbels remained in fleet service as late as 1990.

Not to mention her features used on SSNs and SSBNs.

If you are in Portsmouth, please swing by the Albacore and pay her a visit.


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Contract tea leaves

Last Friday had a bunch of interesting contract announcements including $450M from the Army to General Atomics for a kind of undetailed drone award (Predator, Gray Eagle, or something better?), while the Navy dropped over $70 million split between Ingalls, Lockheed, Martin-Marietta, Bollinger, Austal, Gibbs, and Hadal to keep working on drone boats. Interesting, the latter of these is specifically for “using spiral winding technology to lower the cost of high-quality carbon fiber composite unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) hulls.”

This comes after at least four large unmanned surface vessels were used in the latest RIMPAC exercises this summer and the Royal Navy just welcomed a similar vessel– XV Patrick Blackett— into their fleet.

USV Sea Hunter at RIMPAC 2022

The announcements, should you be curious:

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., Poway, California, was awarded a $456,246,389 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for engineering and technical services required to accomplish research, development, integration, test, sustainment and operation for unmanned aircraft systems. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of July 27, 2027. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-22-D-0025).

Huntington Ingalls Inc., Pascagoula, Mississippi, is awarded a $13,071,106 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6319 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $ 15,071,106. Work will be performed in Pascagoula, Mississippi, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through September 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,998 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Lockheed Martin Corp., Baltimore, Maryland, is awarded an $11,320,904 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6320 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $15,070,904. Work will be performed in Moorestown New Jersey, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through September 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,941 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Marinette Marine Corp., Marinette, Wisconsin, is awarded a $10,212,620 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6317 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. Work will be performed in Marinette, Wisconsin, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,841 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Bollinger Shipyards Lockport LLC, Lockport, Louisiana, is awarded a $9,428,770 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6316 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $13,958,770. Work will be performed in Lockport, Louisiana, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through September 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,933 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Austal USA LLC, Mobile, Alabama, is awarded a $9,115,310 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6315 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $13,285,309. Work will be performed in Mobile, Alabama, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through September, 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,878 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Gibbs & Cox Inc., Arlington, Virginia, is awarded an $8,981,231 firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract N00024-20-C-6318 for continued studies of a large unmanned surface vessel. This contract modification includes options which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract modification to $15,071,231. Work will be performed in Arlington, Virginia, and is expected to be completed by September 2024. If all options are exercised, work will continue through September 2024. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $149,899 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

Hadal Inc.,* Oakland, California, is awarded an $8,222,536 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the Low Cost Spiral Wound Hull that supports multiple payloads. This contract provides for using spiral winding technology to lower the cost of high-quality carbon fiber composite unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) hulls. The contractor shall develop UUV hull designs and components suitable for spiral winding. In the base effort, the contractor shall develop and prototype the first generation spiral wound hulls, associated internal housings and payload deployment systems to assess the technology maturity. The contract also contains three unexercised options, which if exercised would increase cumulative contract value to $23,604,065. Work will be performed in Oakland, California, and is expected to be completed by July 28, 2026. Fiscal 2022 research, development, test and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $8,222,536 are obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured under N00014-22-S-B001 long range broad agency announcement (BAA) for Navy and Marine Corps Science and Technology dated Oct. 1, 2021. Since proposals are received throughout the year under the long range BAA, the number of proposals received in response to the solicitation is unknown. The Office of Naval Research, Arlington, Virginia, is the contracting activity (N00014-22-C-2023).

Outfitting the Angels

Also, with the 11th “Arctic Angels” Airborne Division being stood up in Alaska, there is lots of cold weather kit being ordered, which would seem to point to the U.S. Army getting serious about fighting in polar regions. This included $10M for CTAPS suits and another $9M for canteens that won’t freeze. Of note, the completion date on both is in next year rather than the more traditional five years. Take what you will from that:

SourceAmerica, Vienna, Virginia, was awarded a $10,622,966 firm-fixed-price contract for Cold Temperature and Arctic Protection System extreme cold weather suits. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Vienna, Virginia, with an estimated completion date of April 28, 2023. Fiscal 2022 operation and maintenance, Army funds in the amount of $10,622,966 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911QY-22-C-0038).

SourceAmerica, Vienna, Virginia, was awarded a $9,099,930 firm-fixed-price contract for cold weather canteens. Bids were solicited via the internet with one received. Work will be performed in Vienna, Virginia, with an estimated completion date of Nov. 30, 2023. Fiscal 2022 operation and maintenance, Army funds in the amount of $9,099,930 were obligated at the time of the award. U.S. Army Contracting Command, Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, is the contracting activity (W911QY-22-C-0036).

Sprucan Desert Shield Watercolors

While assigned to the Middle East Force from September to December 1990, the Pascagoula-built Spruance-class destroyer USS O’Brien (DD-975) participated in maritime interdiction as part of Operation Desert Shield. Conducting Persian Gulf patrols in support of the United Nations embargo on Saddam’s Iraq, O’Brien investigated over 400 vessels.

Aboard for part of that cruise was naval artist John Charles Roach who chronicled some of the work.

“50-Caliber Watch,” oil on canvas board, John Charles Roach, 1991. Two armed sailors in protective gear stand watch near a .50-caliber machine gun on board USS O’Brien (DD-975) in the Persian Gulf (91-049-D). “On the bridge wing of USS O’Brian (DD 975), two crewmen man the 50-caliber machine gun. They will fire cover during boarding for ship identification or a threat of small boat attack to the ship during the enforcement of sanctions against Iraq.”

“Interdiction and Confirmation,” watercolor by John Charles Roach, 1991. Maritime interdiction operations (MIO) in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Shield (99-049-C). “USS O’Brien (DD-975), is moving in close to the Star of South America. Only by a close look can USS O’Brien inspect the weld marks of the ship. Weld marks are as unique as a fingerprint in identifying a ship. USS O’Brien is looking to see if the name on the ship’s transom matches its welds, or if it has been altered recently in an attempt to disguise the ship.”

“Flight to Baghdad,” watching TLAMs head in at the beginning of Desert Storm. Watercolor on Paper; by John Charles Roach; 1991

“Up Romeo” Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by John Charles Roach; 1991

Decommissioned while still in her prime on 24 September 2004 with only 27 years on the Navy List, O’Brien was sunk as a target off Hawaii by USS Lake Erie (CG-70), HMCS Vancouver, and USN aircraft, on 9 February 2006.

A Night Raid

“In this charcoal sketch by H.J. Mowat, six Canadians leave the trenches to go on a raid. Given the apparent absence of sandbags, they are possibly exiting from an advanced listening post. Under the moonlight, they will thread through their own wire and into No Man’s Land before slipping through the enemy’s wire and launching their attack. Raids could involve only a few soldiers sneaking quietly forward, like the one depicted here, or several hundred attacking with coordinated support from the artillery, mortars, and machine guns.”

Sketch by H.J. Mowat. Beaverbrook Collection of War Art. CWM 19710261-0431

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