Warship Wednesday, Jan.6, 2021: Of Camels, Williwaws, and 6-inch Salvos

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

–As I am traveling for work and have an abbreviated period of downtime this week, we likewise have an abbreviated WW this week as well, sorry–

Warship Wednesday, Jan.6, 2021: Of Camels, Williwaws, and 6-inch Salvos

U.S. Army Signal Corps – Photograph USA C-627 from the Army Signal Corps Collection in the U.S. National Archives. A much better resolution example of this shot is SC 229057, but it is not in color. 

Here we see the Omaha-class light cruiser USS Concord (CL-10), some 78 years ago today as she stood off Balboa, Panama Canal Zone, on 6 January 1943, “for a South Pacific destination.” A fine ship with beautiful lines, she did not see much of World War II until the final acts of the Pacific War.

The fourth Concord was a “peace cruiser” built at William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia, and commissioned on 3 November 1923. Used to range the globe on flag-waving missions while abiding by the various naval limitations treaty of the interwar period, she was named in honor of the famous scrap between the Americans and British troops during the “Shot Heard Round the World.”

What an epically great image! Talk about “Join the Navy, See the World”. USS Concord (CL-10) At the edge of the desert off the North African coast, with local camel troops in the foreground, circa late 1923 or early 1924. During her maiden cruise at that time, Concord steamed through the Mediterranean Sea and returned to the United States by way of the Suez Canal and the Cape of Good Hope. Donation of Franklin Moran, 1967. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 64647

When the balloon went up in the Pacific on 7 December 1941, Concord was at sea headed to Mare Island from Pearl Harbor for an overhaul, or else she may have been a target on day one.

Her armament and armor sparse but her legs long, she was assigned to Task Force 81 in early 1942 after she completed her yard availability. If you haven’t heard of TF81, there is a reason as it was the patrol force off the Pacific coast of South America, a definite backwater.

As the flag of the group, which was later renamed Task Force 93 in 1943, she would carry RADM Byrd, the famed polar explorer, around the Southeast Pacific on a tour of possible seaplane bases in the remote region.

USS Concord (CL-10) Hoists a Grumman J2F (wearing the nickname: “The Galloping Ghost”) during flight operations at Hanga Roa, Easter Islands, in support of Rear Admiral Richard E. Byrd’s South Pacific Base Examination Cruise, 10 November 1943. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-K-2343

By March 1944, Concord shipped to the frozen North, where she joined Task Force 94 (later 92) in Alaskan waters.

USS Concord (CL-10) Underway in Puget Sound, Washington, 1 November 1944. Her camouflage is Measure 33, Design 2f. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Catalog #: 19-N-75591

From there, her war heated up some and she was used extensively over the next year to raid the Japanese northern islands, conducting a series of anti-shipping sweeps through the Sea of Okhotsk and shore bombardments in the Kuriles and elsewhere.

In some of these rounds of shore bombardment, she would expend in excess of 500 6-inch shells per sortie.

During her 1944-45 tour in the Northern Pacific, Concord would often face thick fog banks and “100-knot Williawas” at sea in her unsung area of the war.

From her War History:

Except when weather conditions entirely prohibited, the Concord took to the rugged sub-arctic seas in the best tradition of New England sailormen. With a handful of destroyers and from one to five other cruisers– old like herself– the Concord was regularly on the prowl approximately 10 days each month, operating well over 1,000 miles west of Attu, the nearest U.S. base, and without any air cover of any sort.

Interestingly enough, she was credited by some with firing the last salvo of the war at 8:06 p.m., 12 August 1945 (Japan Time).

After supporting the occupation landings at Ominato, Japan, between 8 and 14 September, Concord sailed through the Canal Zone one final time before ending her career at Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 12 December 1945.

She was sold to Patapsco Scrap Co., Bethlehem, PA for the amount of $67,228 on 21 January 1947, receiving just one battle star for World War II.

Since Concord’s passing, her name was recycled one final time, issued to a combat stores ship (AFS-5), commissioned in 1968, which served for four decades.

Her diaries and histories are online at NARA.

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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