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Bad day for museum ships

A few of the last of their kind, which had been planned to be turned into floating museum ships, will now have another fate.

In Jacksonville, a group has been trying for years to obtain the USS Charles F. Adams (DDG-2) to install downtown as a museum.

(DDG-2) Underway at high speed while running trials, 31 August 1960. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 106724

The first of her extensive class of 23 ships– to include spin-offs for the West German and Royal Australian Navies– Adams was ordered in 1957 and commissioned three years later. Leaving the fleet in 1990, she has been rusting away at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard ever since.

Adams as she looked in 2008. Remember, this was a decade ago. Imagine what she looks like today! The Navy may have made the right call on this one (Via Wiki)

Now, the ship has moved from museum hold to the scrap list.

From Jax:

“Unfortunately, the United States Navy has reversed course and determined the ex USS Adams will not be donated to the Jacksonville Historic Naval Ship Association (“JHNSA”) as a museum in Jacksonville but instead will be scrapped. This decision is counter to the Navy’s recommendation in 2014 that the ex USS Adams be released to the JHNSA for donation. We wish to thank Congressman Rutherford, Senators Rubio, and Nelson, Governor Scott, and all the City officials for their efforts with the Secretary of the Navy to have the ex USS Adams brought to Jacksonville. Although disappointed by this development, the JHNSA will continue to pursue bringing a Navy warship to downtown Jacksonville.”

The group has been collecting items to display including a not-too-far-from-surplus SPA-25G radar panel and Adams’ bell, but they want a ship to put them on. Perhaps a recently retired FFG-7?

Meanwhile, on the West Coast, the final two members of the USCG’s WWII-era Balsam-class 180-foot buoy tenders have run out of time. USCGS Iris (WLB-395) and Planetree (WLB-307) were decommissioned after helping with the Exxon Valdez oil spill in 1995 and 1999, respectively, and have been sitting in the rusting quiet of the SBRF, Suisun Bay, CA mothballs fleet ever since.

While efforts have been off and on over the past couple decades to save one or both, they have been sold for scrap and are headed to Texas by the same long-distance sea tow.  As such, it will end more than 75 years of service tended by these vessels to Uncle.

Photo: Mike Brook, Tradewinds Towing, via USCGC Storis – Life and Death of a CG Queen

Finally, in a bright sign, the retired U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bramble (WLB-392) could be repeating her historic 1957 voyage through the Northwest Passage. Another of the “180s,” Bramble has been a museum ship in Port Huron for years but was recently sold to a man who wants to repeat the famous five-month trek of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Storis, SPAR and Bramble, along with the crew of the Canadian icebreaker HMCS Labrador from May to September of 1957.

Storis, fore, SPAR, and Bramble bringing up the rear. The NWP doesn’t look like this anymore.

Things are easier up there these days, and the crew of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Maple, a 225-foot Juniper-class seagoing buoy tender, did the trip in just 47 days last year with no icebreaking involved, so it’s not that hard to fathom.

Either way, you have to love Bramble‘s patch.

And just like that, the Burkes are 30

A port bow view of the guided-missile destroyer USS ARLEIGH BURKE (DDG-51) underway in rough seas. Camera Operator: PH3 JAMES COLLINS Date Shot: 31 Mar 1993 DNSC9303708

USS Arleigh Burke (DDG-51), the paterfamilias of the largest class of warships built in the West since Korea and longest production run for any post-WWII U.S. Navy surface combatant, was laid down at Bath Iron Works in Maine on this day in 1988, set for a 1991 commission.

Elsewhere that day, Roy Orbison died of a heart attack at age 52, Nelson Mandela was transferred to Capetown’s Victor Vester Prison, Mikhail Gorbachev was Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet, and Ronald Reagan was busy packing for the ranch in California as George H. W. Bush was slated to move into the Oval Office.

The top of the Top 100 that week, as related by Casey Kasem, was Chicago’s power ballad Look Away.

To borrow a line from the song, the Navy may have been looking (hard) but they haven’t “Found someone else” and Burke remains on active duty. In 2011, she completed a hull, mechanical and electrical (HM&E) modernization to extend her service life to 40~ years, well into the 2030s. By that time, as many as 104 Burke-class destroyers could be on the Navy List.

Last of the Yarrow diesel tin cans gets a reprieve

Just after VE-Day, the Royal Navy was able to skate on WWII production destroyers for a while, but by the early 1950s, it was realized that more…um…economical vessels could take up the slack that didn’t require fully-armed 30+ knot greyhounds to accomplish. Roles like ocean surveillance, escorting amphibious task forces and convoys could be filled by a reasonably seaworthy tin can of some 100m in length who, outfitted with a number of fuel-sipping diesels, could run on the cheap and at a lower speed than that needed by HMs carriers. Enter the Type 61 (Salisbury) and Type 41 (Leopard) class vessels.

First of the line, laid down in 1951, the Salisbury-class frigate HMS Salisbury (F32), seen here 5 December 1974. She would later be sold to Egypt and, after that deal was canceled Sale to Egypt canceled whilst on the delivery trip, was retained by the RN as a harbor training ship Devonport. She was later sunk as a target, 30 September 1985. Image via IWM http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205396006

Preceding the 27 iconic Leander-class frigates (which were 113.4m long and used steam turbines), it was planned to have 15 or 16 Salisbury/Leopards in service both with the RN and allied Commonwealth nations.

In the end, three of the planned ships– Exeter, Gloucester, and Coventry— were canceled post-Suez in favor of building more Leanders while another three went to India. The RN kept the rest around well into the late 1970s when they were scrapped or sold abroad (HMS Lynx went to Bangladesh who continued to use her until 2013 while the same country had ex-HMS Llandaff in inventory until 2016).

The last of these still afloat, was a kind of one-off design based on the Type 41/61 to be named the Black Star. Ordered specifically for the government of Ghana– the first British possession in Africa to gain independence– in 1964, she was completed by 1967 but languished at Yarrow Shipbuilders on the River Clyde in Scotland, with an unpaid balance and the regime that ordered her overthrown. Finally, in 1971, some £3,803,148 in outstanding loans made by the Crown to Ghana for the ship’s construction were written off and the ship was absorbed the next year by the Royal Navy, commissioning after modifications 16 May 1973 as HMS Mermaid (F76), the 16th such vessel to carry the moniker.

Mermaid saw brief and interesting service in the Cod Wars with Iceland– ramming and being rammed by Icelandic Coast Guard cutters.

The UK frigate HMS Mermaid collides with the Icelandic Coast Guard Vessel Thor in March 1976, in one of the incidents in the Cod Wars between the two countries. At the time she was one of the few frigates still in the RN with a twin QF 4 inch Mk XVI gun mount, designed in WWII. 

Tragically, just after a NATO exercise, Mermaid sank the wooden-hulled Ton-class minesweeper HMS Fittleton (M1136) during what should have been a routine mail transfer at sea, which resulted in the death of 12, the worst peacetime accident involving the Royal Naval Reserve.

After just four years service with the RN, Mermaid was transferred to the Royal Malaysian Navy in April 1977 to replace a 1944-vintage Loch-class frigate. Commissioned by the RMN as KD Hang Tuah (with the same pennant number), she has been on active duty ever since.

As reported by The New Straits Times, Tuah, now 45 with over 250K miles on her hull, is set for retirement and will be turned into a naval museum.

The transformation of the ship into a museum will be done through collaboration between Boustead Naval Shipyard (BNS) Sdn Bhd and the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture.

KD Hang Tuah, ex-HMS Mermaid, ex-Black Star, soon to be museum ship. Note, her 4-incher was replaced by a more modern 57mm Bofors in 1992

Vintage Skymaster

While cruising around Gulfport, something caught my eye and I had to stop. After all, it is not often that you see a 50-year old Cessna mating with a building.

Yup, a very early production c1963 Cessna Model 336 Skymaster (SN #336-0035).

The plane and building (the latter an old Rooms To Go outlet now owned by the city) is set to be folded into the Mississippi Aviation Heritage Museum, a project that the Brown Condor Association and others have been trying to establish since 2016.

Incidentally, the association is named in honor of Mississippi pilot John Charles Robinson, known in the media of the 1930s as “The Brown Condor of Ethiopia.” Tom Simmons wrote a book about Robinson, and I spoke to him about it at a local event and picked up a copy a while back. Good stuff.

As far as the C-336 goes, just 195 of these models, with twin Continental IO-360-A engines, were produced.

When supped up with Continental IO-360-Cs (which made them C-337s), the model flew as the O-2 Skymaster throughout the 1960s and 70s, as well as Reims Cessna FTB337 used in Rhodesia and throughout African brush wars into the 1980s, in all being used by the militaries of more than 20 countries, some as late as just a few years ago.

Don’t let the Cessna pedigree fool you, the 337 could carry a lot of ordnance

It will be interesting to see what form this 336 will take when the museum opens, which is expected sometime next year.

An aging Russki throwback, some 35 years ago today

The big 16,000-ton Sverdlov-class (Project 68bis) light cruiser Aleksandr Nevsky of the Soviet Red Banner Fleet on 26 October 1983, photographed in the Baltic.

While she would have been a mighty foe in 1938, when compared to the NATO cruisers of the Reagan-era, she was hopelessly obsolete.

Some 30 of these all-gun cruisers, based on Soviet lessons learned from WWII and study of Allied and Axis cruisers that passed through their hands then applied to the 1930’s Chapayev-class design, were ordered in the early 1950s– notably the last of their type fielded in large numbers. These ships carried a full dozen 6 inch/57 cal B-38 guns in four triple Mk 5-bis turrets. They were roughly equivalent to the U.S. Navy’s Cleveland-class light cruisers (14,500-tons, 4 × triple 6″/47cal guns) of WWII.

Following Stalin’s death, just 21 were completed and by the 1960s those left in service (Ordzhonikidze, for instance, was transferred to Indonesia with disastrous results) were soon relegated to intermittent command ship tasking and use as naval gunfire platforms– much the same as seen in Western navies at the time. By the late 1970s, most were dockside reserve ships, only trotted out for photo ops or foreign port calls to wave the flag.

Nevsky was stricken in 1989 and scrapped.

That sweet, sweet ONG scattergun action

Saw these out Sportsman’s Outdoors Superstore and picked up one before they went almost immediately out of stock.

They are classic 1970s/80s-era Remington 870 Wingmaster 12 gauge Police models complete with a really groovy Ohio National Guard “ONG” stamp and state overlay.

I am hoping they will get more in as they are (what I think) is a great deal. Regardless, the pics are interesting and are here for posterity.

Some even still have brass rack tags

That bayonet lug/sling swivel bracket…

Some even had Remington-stamped, likely factory-installed, overfolding stocks installed.

They were selling for $229 to 239, depending on set-up.

The folder reminds me of this shot of 1985 USMC riot gear

Marine Corps riot control gear arrayed for inspection. Among the equipment displayed are a gas mask, protective vest, M870-1 riot shotgun, .38-caliber M10 S&W M&P revolver, DETEX watchclock, and nightstick. (NARA DM-ST-86-01722)

Which of course is a lead-in for this series of NARA shots from 1989 showing the by-the-book manual of arms with an 870, USMC-style. You gotta love the clunky old 1st-Gen kevlar, M9 Beretta/UM84 Bianchi flap holster, and crisp woodland BDUs.

A Marine demonstrates a ready position with an M-870, Mark 1 12-gauge shotgun.

A Marine demonstrates a low ready position with an M-870, Mark 1 12-gauge shotgun.

A Marine demonstrates sling arms with an M-870, Mark 1 12-gauge shotgun.

A Marine demonstrates a standing firing position with an M-870, Mark 1 12-gauge shotgun.

Is it 1991 again?

So three things happened over the weekend.

#1 & #2, the Navy christened two brand new Virginia-class SSN’s on the same day (Saturday) some 500 miles part when they broke bottles at Newport News for the future USS Delaware (SSN 791) at 10 a.m and at Groton for the future USS Vermont (SSN 792) at 11 a.m. Importantly, Delaware is the last of the Block III Virginia’s and Vermont is the first of the Block IVs as these boats increasingly replace the old 688s.

181020-N-LW591-159 Groton, Conn. (Oct. 20, 2018) Ship sponsor Gloria Valdez, former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisitions), breaks a bottle of wine produced by a Vermont vineyard to christen the Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Vermont (SSN 792), during a ceremony at Electric Boat in Groton, Connecticut. PCU Vermont is the third U.S. Navy vessel to be named in honor of the state of Vermont and the 19th Virginia-class, fast-attack submarine. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Hoskins/Released)

And in the “welcome to Red Storm Rising, redux:”

For the first time in nearly 30 years, a U.S. aircraft carrier entered the Arctic Circle Oct. 19 to conduct operations in the Norwegian Sea.

“Accompanied by select ships from Carrier Strike Group Eight (CSG-8), the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) traveled north to demonstrate the flexibility and toughness of U.S. naval forces through high-end warfare training with regional allies and partners. USS America (CV 66) was the last ship to operate in the area, participating in NATO exercise North Star in September 1991.”

181019-N-EA818-0127 NORWEGIAN SEA (Oct. 19, 2018) An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the “Sunliners” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 81, launches from the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). For the first time in nearly 30 years, a U.S. aircraft carrier has entered the Arctic Circle. Accompanied by select ships from Carrier Strike Group Eight (CSG- 8), Harry S. Truman traveled north to demonstrate the flexibility and toughness of U.S. naval forces through high-end warfare training with regional allies and partners. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Thomas Gooley/Released)

HST will be taking part in Trident Juncture, which sprawls across Norway and the surrounding areas of the North Atlantic and the Baltic Sea, including Iceland and the airspace of Finland and Sweden from Oct. 25 to Nov. 23.

More than 50,000 participants – including 14,000 U.S. service members – are expected to participate, utilizing approximately 150 aircraft, 65 ships, and more than 10,000 vehicles in support of the exercise.

Part of the surge is an amphibious landing in Iceland that includes Iwo Jima‘s Amphibious Ready Group:

Which was not lost on MCT:

Everything old is new again…I feel like I should be playing Harpoon, optimized for Windows 2.11.

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