We’ve talked extensively in passed Warship Wednesdays and other posts about the epic contest off France between the British-built steam privateer CSS Alabama, under the swashbuckling Capt. Raphael Semmes and the Mohican-class screw sloop of war USS Kearsarge on June 19, 1864.
Aboard Kearsarge that day was Acting Master James R. Wheeler, a Massachusetts man who later went on command, as a volunteer lieutenant, the captured blockade runner-turned-Union gunboat USS Preston in the tail end of the war before serving as U.S. consul to Jamaica under President Grant, where he died in 1870. Importantly, Wheeler commanded the crew of the Union vessel’s key 11-inch Dahlgren shell gun, which pummeled Alabama into the sea at relatively close range.
Well, sometime after Alabama and before Preston, Wheeler was presented a custom Ames Model 1852 Officer’s Sword by popular subscription among Boston gentlemen, complete with acanthus scrollwork, naval battle scenes and the likes of both Amphitrite and Poseidon.
Interestingly, it is well preserved and is coming up at auction in May, after once being part of the esteemed collection of Norm Flayderman.
Estimate Price: $75,000 – $125,000.
The Commonwealth War Graves Commission earlier this month held a ceremony at Messines Ridge British Cemetery for two unknown soldiers whose remains were recently recovered near the town of Wijtschate, south of Ieper, in the Belgian province of West Flanders.
Despite the best attempts by the Commission, the two lads were only identified as a member of the Royal Irish Rifles (Now part of the Royal Irish Regiment) and an unknown soldier of an unknown regiment, both of which will bear a headstone marked “Soldier of the Great War, Known unto God.”
It’s odd to find a submarine or a minesweeper out on the Great Plains but such an example exists at Omaha, Nebraska’s Freedom Park which has long had custody over the old WWII-era (3 Battle Stars) Admirable-class minesweeper USS Hazard (AM-240) and the downright cute Cold War-era T-1-class training submarine USS Marlin (SST-2) since 1971 and 1974, respectively.
Typically high and dry hundreds of miles from blue water, they are now seemingly ready to set sail once more as the Missouri River has crested.
Hopefully, the water will not get too high there. The park closed as a result of flooding along the Missouri River in 2011 and took four years of restoration and cleanup work to reopen.
From Freedom Park: “We learned much from 2011, & had many discussions of what to do if; so with hi-water predicted again, precautions were done today, in minimum time. Thanks to big-time support from Omaha Parks Dep’t. Since the ship, thanx to 2011, is a good 6 ft. higher than before, it will take water more than 2011 to put her afloat. Not that much predicted. So she’s not going anywhere”
The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), after a decade with the fleet, arrived at Norfolk Naval Shipyard (NNSY), Feb. 21, for a 28-month dry-docking planned incremental availability (DPIA). Bush will be on blocks for the majority of her yard period.
As noted by the Navy, “Dry-docking and maintaining a 103,000 ton, 1,092-foot aircraft carrier is complex work. This DPIA marks the first time George H.W. Bush has not been waterborne since 2006. Requiring an estimated 1.3 million man-days, it will be the most extensive maintenance period for the ship yet and one of the most complex CVN chief of naval operations availabilities in recent NNSY history.”
Hauled out in drydock, she is impressive:
The shipyard workforce will be providing approximately 775,000 man-days, with ship’s force, alteration installation teams and contractor work comprising the rest.
Now if they can just keep the Navy from decommissioning the 23-year-old USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) from being put to pasture prematurely, all will be good.
According to the FY2020 Navy budget, Truman would not be funded for a midlife refueling, which is surely news to the lawmakers and policy wonks that talked up the planned 50-year lifespan of the vessel to get her funded in 1988 when she was ordered.
While Big Navy and the Acting SECDEF supports the move as freeing up cash for other items (read= F35s), it seems like a repeat of the time they decommissioned the USS America (CV-66) to avoid putting that flattop through a SLEP that would have extended her life for another 10-15 years.
When it hit the market in 1955, the Colt Python was perhaps a high-water mark of sorts when it came to combat wheelguns and to this day was one of the few hand-fitted modern revolvers to be factory produced for the commercial market. Early Colt advertisements characterized the beefy .357 Magnum-caliber six-shooter as, “A finer gun than you actually need,” and its list of standard features set it apart from many of its pencil-barrel contemporaries.
Featuring a full underlug with a shrouded ejector rod, ventilated rib barrel, and adjustable sights, Pythons are distinctive and quickly identified at a glance. The first catalog price on the guns was $125 — about three weeks pay at a time when the price of a gallon of gasoline was 23 cents.
Sadly, Colt began trimming back on making the big I-Frame in 1996, switching from standard production of the classic model to the more limited Ultimate Python and Python Elite models. These late models soldiered on for another decade in declining numbers until the vaunted snake gun fell from the company’s catalog altogether after 2006.
However, we had a bunch of them in the warehouse lately at GDC so I put a piece together on them, which led to the usual gratuitous Python spread…
March 20, 2005: Two U.S. convoys were about to converge at a crossroads 30 miles south of Baghdad. They were attacked by one of the largest groups insurgents ever to hit a convoy. This stretch of road happened to be guarded by the 617th Military Police Company-Kentucky National Guard, from Richmond, Kentucky. The 4th Platoon’s 2nd Squad, 10 men and women in three armored Hummers, operated as “Raven 42.”
As both convoys came under heavy attack and the insurgents were closing in Raven 42 fought through heavy fire aimed at them to go on the offensive in protecting the convoys. By the end of the firefight, 30+ insurgents were dead, wounded or captured and only a few American Soldiers were wounded.
The citizen soldiers reacting to contact that day included a shoe store manager, hotel worker, printing press operator, and several students.
Specialists William Haynes, Casey Cooper, and Ashley Pullen received Bronze Stars for valor. Medic Jason Mike received the Silver Star, as did SGT Hester and SSG Nein. Nein’s award was later upgraded to the Distinguished Service Cross. Pullen and Hester were the first women in U.S. history to receive medals for valor in actual combat.
Note: Back to Warship Weds next week!