Warship Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017: One Able Sims

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, Sept. 28, 2017: One Able Sims

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.80-G-1671

Here we see an excellent image of the Sims-class destroyer USS Mustin (DD-413) with a Curtiss SBC-3 scout bomber, of Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) from USS Enterprise (CV-6) during exercises on 26 May 1940. The aviation-heavy image was fitting due to Mustin‘s namesake and of her class’ job in staying close to the flattops.

The Sims were handsome 1930s ships, a dozen 2,300-ton (fl), 348-foot tin cans sandwiched between the smaller Benham-class and the slightly heavier Benson-class which used largely the same hull but a different engineering suite. Speaking of engineering, the Sims-class used a trio of Babcock & Wilcox boilers to push Westinghouse geared turbines at 50,000 shp, capable of making 37-knots and were the last single-stack destroyers made for the Navy.

Designed around a dozen 21-inch torpedo tubes, they could carry 5 5″/38 DP mounts– though in actuality they completed with eight tubes and four main guns, augmented by increasingly heavy AAA and ASW suites.

Built in the tense immediate lead-up to the U.S. entry into WWII, the 12 ships were ordered from seven yards to speed up completion and half were commissioned in 1939, the other half in 1940.

Our ship is named for one Henry Croskey Mustin, USNA 1896, Navy Air Pilot #3, Naval Aviator #11, seen below posing for his pilot certificate as a 40-year-old LCDR with a cigarette in his hand.

U.S. Navy Air Pilot Certificate Issued to Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin in January 1915, certifying that he had been designated as U.S. Navy Air Pilot No. 3, with a 1 June 1914 date of precedence. It includes a photograph of LCDR. Mustin, probably taken at Pensacola, Florida, in 1914, and is signed by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and Rear Admiral Victor Blue, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. In January 1918, after the Naval Air Pilot designation was merged with the Naval Aviator designation, Mustin was officially listed as Naval Aviator No. 11. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 105934-KN

Mustin fought in the Spanish-American War, commanded the gunboat USS Samar on Asiatic Station, was court marshaled but pardoned by Teddy Roosevelt and became one of the Navy’s first pilots while serving as XO of the pocket battleship USS Mississippi in Pensacola. There, he went on to become one of the first to fly combat missions in 1914 and in 1915 the first to cat from a warship.

Pioneer naval aviators Godfrey deChevalier, Henry C. Mustin, and John H. Towers on a beach during service in Mexico in the aftermath of the Veracruz Insurrection. On April 20-21, 1914, naval aviation personnel and their aircraft deployed from the Naval Aeronautical Station at Pensacola, Florida, to Mexican waters, where they flew the first combat flights in the history of the United States armed forces.

Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin performs the first catapult launch from a ship, launching from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina (ACR 12) in Pensacola Bay, 5 Nov. 1915 NNAM.2011.003.004.012

USS Mustin was laid down at Newport News in 1937, 14 years after Capt.Mustin’s untimely death, and commissioned 15 September 1939– just 14 days after Hitler invaded Poland.

The war was on, though the U.S. still on the sidelines officially for the next 28 months. As such, Mustin participated in the sometimes-hairy neutrality patrol along the Atlantic Coast and escorted convoys to Iceland, where U.S. troops took over from the British in June 1941.

Convoy to Iceland, September 1941. Caption: View of two of the screen of TF-15, C. 7 September 1941. These are two of the following ships: ANDERSON (DD-411), WALKE (DD-416), MORRIS (DD-417), MUSTIN (DD-413) or O’ BRIEN (DD-415). Description: Catalog #: NH 47006

On December 7, 1941, Mustin was in Boston and soon received orders to ship to the Pacific.

After cutting her teeth escorting convoys between Hawaii and San Francisco and Hawaii and Samoa, she sailed with TF 17, escorting the carrier USS Hornet to the great brawl off Guadalcanal. The class would earn something of a reputation for giving their last full measure in defense of their flattops.

USS Mustin (DD-413) At Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 14 June 1942. Note she has just 3 5-inchers, due to increasing topside weight. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-10124

Surviving the Battle of Santa Cruz in October (where her crews shot down five Japanese aircraft), Mustin closed with the mortally wounded Hornet and rescued over 300 of the stricken ship’s crew, then dutifully attempted to sink the listing hulk along with sister ship USS Anderson (DD-411) with torpedoes and 5-inch fire.

Mustin went on to find herself in every part of the Pacific war. She fought off Savo Island, bombarded Japanese positions at Guadalcanal and on the frozen island of Kiska in the Aleutians, let her 5-inchers warm up off Makin Island, Wotje, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok.

“The continuing operations on and around New Guinea gave Mustin varied duty, on escort, patrol, bombardment, and as fighter-director, as one landing after another moved up the coast to wrest the huge island from the enemy. Noemfoor, Sansapor, Mios Woendi, Humboldt Bay, Biak, all were struck by forces in which Mustin served with vigor and gallantry,” notes DANFS.

Then came the PI campaign– including the great Battle of Leyte Gulf– and Okinawa. She splashed kamikazes, hunted for Japanese submarines, directed landings, and escorted convoys from secure anchorages to the front lines.

By May 1945, she was in poor material condition and, with the war expected to take a couple more years, Mustin was dispatched to San Pedro, California for an extensive refit which lasted until the end of August. She ditched her torpedo tubes as Japanese ships were increasingly few, exchanging them for more 40mm mounts.

Shown off San Pedro, California on August 14, 1945, after completing her final wartime refit. The Kamikaze threat was now fully realized as both banks of torpedo tubes were replaced by twin mounts of 40mm guns and their controlling directors. Ahead of #3 5″ mount, which was retained, she has twin 40mm mounts, and all of her 20mm guns, forward of the bridge, remain in place. Via Navsource

Ready for more service, she headed for the Japanese Home Islands in September for occupation duty, with the war finished. In all, she picked up an impressive 13 battle stars.

In all, she picked up an impressive 13 battle stars for her part in the conflict. While this figure is outstanding, and one of the highest in the fleet, she was surpassed by her sisters Russell (16 stars) and Morris (15), a testament to the wringer this class was put through.

The war was especially hard on her class, with Sims sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Hammann sunk at Midway while trying to screen USS Yorktown, O’Brien ultimately sunk by a torpedo she picked up trying to screen the carrier USS Wasp off Guadalcanal, Walke lost in the same campaign, and Buck sunk by a German U-boat. Morris was damaged so bad off Okinawa that she was considered neither seaworthy nor habitable by VJ Day.

With the Navy flush with Fletcher and Gearing class destroyers– which were brand new in many cases and much more capable– the rest of the Sims were on the chopping block. Russell and Roe, undergoing lengthy refits like Mustin‘s when the war ended, never saw service again and were instead sold for scrap.

The four still-mobile Sims left in active service by early 1946: Mustin, Hughes, Anderson, and Wainwright joined 13 other tin cans from two other classes at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands to take part in the Operation Crossroads atomic tests.

Joint Task Force One press release chart depicting scrap costs of Operation Crossroads. (U.S. Naval Institute)

The ships were stripped of useful equipment as well as ceremonial items such as bells, nameplates, and commemorative plaques. At Bikini, without crews or ordnance but with a sampling of goats and chickens aboard, the fleet touched the sun.

Mustin was rather close to the Able Shot (number 30 on the above chart) where “Gilda” a Mk III style 23-kt bomb was dropped 2,130 feet away from the old battleship USS Nevada, the designated zero point. Sims-class sister Anderson (number 1 on the chart), who had helped to scuttle Hornet along with Mustin back in 1942, sank within hours

0900 1 July 1946 Through Protective Goggles on the USS Appalachian Painting, Watercolor on Illustration Board; by Grant Powers, USMC combat artist; 1946; Framed Dimensions 24H X 30W Accession #: 88-181-N USS Appalachian (AGC-1) was the press ship from which most of the observers watched the bombs of Test Able. Goggles were worn during the initial phase of the explosion–when the fireball was brighter than the sun–but then taken off later as the protective glass was too dark to view the rest of the bomb phenomena. Appalachian, class leader of a group of four purpose-built amphibious command ships, was 18 miles from the USS Nevada.

Still radioactive but afloat, Mustin was decommissioned August 1946 and sunk off Kwajalein, 18 April 1948 in deep water by gunfire.

The original destroyer, her namesake, and other famous members of the Mustin family, Vice Admirals Lloyd Montague Mustin and Henry “Hank” Mustin, along with Vietnam era LCDR Thomas M. Mustin, Officer in Charge of Patrol Boat River Section 511, are remembered in the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG-89), built at Pascagoula and commissioned on 26 July 2003. I took part in her construction there while at Ingalls.

She still looks great 14 years later.

SHIMODA, Japan (May 19, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) at anchor off the coast of Shimoda during the 78th Black Ship Festival. The Navy’s participation in the festival celebrates the heritage of U.S.-Japanese naval partnership first established by Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 port visit. (U.S. Navy photo by Daniel A. Taylor/Released)


1,570 long tons (1,600 t) (std)
2,211 long tons (2,246 t) (full)
Length: 348 ft, 3¼ in, (106.15 m)
Beam: 36 ft, 1 in (11 m)
Draught: 13 ft, 4.5 in (4.07 m)
Propulsion: High-pressure super-heated boilers, geared turbines with twin screws, 50,000 horsepower
Speed: 35 knots
Range: 3,660 nautical miles at 20 kt (6,780 km at 37 km/h)
Complement: 192 (10 officers/182 enlisted)
(as built)
5 × 5 inch/38, in single mounts
4 × .50 caliber/90, in single mounts
8 × 21-inch torpedo tubes in two quadruple mounts
2 × depth charge track, 10 depth charges

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.

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About laststandonzombieisland

Let me introduce myself. I am a bit of a conflict junkie. I am fascinated by war and warfare, assassination, personal protection and weaponry ranging from spud guns and flame throwers to thermonuclear bombs and Soviet-trained Ebola monkeys. In short, if it’s violent or a tool to create violence it is kind of my thing. I have written a few thousand articles on the dry encyclopedia side for such websites as Guns.com, University of Guns, Outdoor Hub, Tac-44, History Times, Big Game Hunter, Glock Forum, Firearms Talk.com, and Combat Forums; as well as for print publications like England Expects, and Strike First Strike Fast. Several magazines such as Sea Classics, Military Historian and Collector, Mississippi Sportsman and Warship International have carried my pieces. Additionally I am on staff as a naval consultant and writer for Eye Spy Intelligence Magazine. Currently I am working on several book projects including an alternative history novel about the US-German War of 1916, and a biography of Southern gadfly and soldier of fortune Bennett Doty. My first novel, about the coming zombie apocalypse was released in 2012 by Necro Publications and can be found at Amazon.com as was the prequel, Chimera-44. I am currently working on book two of that series: "Pirates of the Zombie Coast." In my day job I am a contractor for the U.S. federal government in what could best be described as the ‘Force Protection’ field. In this I am an NRA-certified firearms, and less-than-lethal combat instructor.

One response to “Warship Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017: One Able Sims”

  1. rick says :

    You have wonderful posts, highly informative. How would one navigate your page to find, say the USS Akron?

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