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A sight not seen since 1941

HMS Prince of Wales (R09), second of the UK’s Queen Elizabeth-class carriers maneuvered out of the basin at Rosyth Dockyard yesterday and into the Firth of Forth. From there, she will wait for the time when the tide is right to head out to the North Sea and begin her contractor sea trials.

It will be the first time since 1941 that a British warship with the name has been at sea. Although the Royal Navy has previously used the moniker no less than six times going back to 1765, the last HMS Prince of Wales (53) was a King George V-class battleship that famously duked it out with SMS Bismarck, although still incomplete, only to be sunk by land-based Japanese bombers immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

THE SINKING OF HMS REPULSE AND HMS PRINCE OF WALES, DECEMBER 1941 (HU 2763) A Japanese aerial photograph showing HMS PRINCE OF WALES (top) and HMS REPULSE during the early stages of the attack in which they were sunk. HMS REPULSE had just been hit for the first time (12.20 hours). Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205022172

Let us hope the seventh Prince of Wales will see a much more happy career.

A bell lost, a bell found, a bell talked about, a bell returned

On the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we highlighted the lost Operation Neptune minesweeper USS Osprey, which went down in the early morning of 6 June 1944, clearing a way for the invasion fleet.

In that Warship Wednesday, we covered that her bell had apparently been recovered sometime around 2007 and gave a lead to the dive op that may know more about it.

Well, one thing led to another and, after the post was shared, the NHHC got involved and, as noted by the BBC:

The US authorities contacted the UK coastguard when pictures of the ship’s bell appeared on the internet.

An investigation was launched by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency when it was established the bell had not been reported to the receiver of wreck.

Acting receiver Heloise Warner said the agency “put the word about” that it was searching for the bell and it was subsequently left anonymously at an undisclosed location last month.

“It’s absolutely fantastic that such a poignant part of our history is back in our possession,” she added.

Osprey’s bell via MCA

It is expected the NHHC will soon take possession of the recovered bell.

Bravo Zulu, guys, and, as always, thanks for sharing! Let’s continue to save history together.

A hearty toast to those lost on Osprey, who will never be forgotten so long as their names are still written:

  • Lieutenant Van Hamilton
  • Seaman 2nd Class John Medvic
  • Fireman 1st class Walter O’Bryan
  • Quartermaster 2nd Class Emery Parichy
  • Motor Machinist’s Mate 2nd Class Joseph Vanasky, Jr
  • Motor Machinist’s Mate 3rd Class Cleo Whitschell

Warship Wednesday, Sep 11, 2019: The Leader of the Pack

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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, Sep 11, 2019: The Leader of the Pack

Photographed by LaTour, Philadelphia. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 41956

Here we see the small crew of an early H (Holland) class diesel-electric “submarine torpedo boat” USS H-1 (SS-28), originally known as the first USS Seawolf, at the Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, Connecticut, circa 1919. Crew complement of these vessels was just two officers and two dozen men.

Built by the Union Iron Works of San Francisco, California as an improvement to the Holland 602 type, Seawolf had a staggering 70~ sisters that were ordered not only by the U.S. Navy (H-1 through H-9) but also by the navies of Imperial Russia and the British Commonwealth. With a submerged displacement of about 450-tons, these were small boats, going just 150.25-feet long overall.

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) and USS H-2 (Submarine # 29) Fitting out at the Union Iron Works, San Francisco, California, 7 October 1913. NH 66740

With a hybrid powerplant of New London Ship & Engine Co (NELSECO) diesels and Electro Dynamic electric motors, they were fast for their time, able to make 14 knots when surfaced. Likewise, they had a 2,300nm range on their meager 11,800-gal fuel bunker, a 200-foot test depth, and could remain underwater on their two 60-cell Gould batteries traveling 100 nm at 5 knots.

H Boat Cell (H-1 to H-3) at the Gould Storage Battery Company, Buffalo, New York. Each of these early boats carried 120 such cells in two batteries. NH 115013

As for armament, they carried no deck guns due to their limited size but had space reserved to tote eight torpedoes (four in their forward 18-inch tubes and four reloads).

The torpedo room of USS H-5 in 1919. The breeches of the four 18-inch (457 mm) torpedo tubes are at the center. The tubes themselves had rotating exterior bow caps rather than doors. Scanned from Page 304 of Friedman, Norman, U.S. Submarines Through 1945: An Illustrated Design History, Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 1995 via Wiki Commons.

The first three vessels were ordered before the Great War and were originally to have kick-ass predator/fish names (as was common for the U.S. Navy at the time, with early boats bestowed such enviable monikers as USS Tarantula and USS Viper) but this changed gears while they were still underway. Therefore, instead of the planned USS Seawolf, Nautilus and Garfish, we simply got USS H-1, H-2 and H-3, a naming convention that would continue through the follow-on K, L, M, N, O, R, and S-class boats until the nine V-class subs under construction in 1931 were renamed for fish, a practice that carried on through the 1970s..

Nonetheless, the three Hs were a relative unknown in the 1914 Jane’s:

USS H-1 (Submarine No. 28) commissioned 1 December 1913, and she and her two sisters were attached to the 2nd Torpedo Flotilla, Pacific Fleet, operating along the West Coast out of San Pedro, ranging from Los Angeles to lower British Columbia.

Old photo found in estate collection of SS-28 and SS-29 (H-1 and H-2 respectively) moored in Coos Bay, Oregon sometime between 1914-17, via Wiki Commons. Note their early canvas topside protection. 

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 30 January 1914. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969. Catalog #: NH 69853

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) Off Long Beach, California, circa 1914. USS Stewart (Destroyer # 13) is underway in the background. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1972. NH 76006

Considered poor open ocean boats, the H-class were not very successful in U.S. service, with the later flight (H-4 through H-9) only acquired as they had already been built for the Tsar who, after 1917, was no longer signing the checks for Mother Russia. Nonetheless, with Uncle Sam entering the war, they were all pressed into use as training boats.

DANFS:

“H-1 set out from San Pedro on 17 October 1917, and reached New London, Conn., 22 days later via Acapulco, Mexico, Balboa, Panama Canal Zone, Key West, Fla., Charleston, S.C., and Philadelphia, Pa. For the remainder of the war, she operated from there and patrolled Long Island Sound, frequently with officer students from the submarine school on board.”

USS H-1 (Submarine # 28) Off the Naval Submarine Base New London, Groton, Connecticut, circa 1919. Photographed by LaTour, NH 41954

Another view, same time and place NH 41955

When the war ended, H-1 and H-2 set off for their return trip to the West Coast via the Panama Canal– and they almost made it too.

On 12 March 1920, H-1 grounded in a storm off Santa Margarita Island, Baja California. Four men, including her skipper, LCDR. James R. Webb (USNA 1913), perished in the heavy surf during the effort to reach dry land as H-2 narrowly avoided the same fate.

While the repair ship USS Vestal (AR-4) two weeks later pulled the stricken submarine off the rocks, H-1 rapidly sank in 50 feet of water and her hulk was abandoned. The Navy drew a name through her entry on the Navy List on 12 April 1920, and her remains were sold where-is/as-is to scrappers a few months later. However, it doesn’t seem that said salvors were very successful.

The rest of her class in U.S. service were all much luckier, and, decommissioned in 1922, were laid up and sold for junk a decade later.

Meanwhile, the Italians and Russians had their own 19 boats, with the latter losing five in the Baltic in 1918 to avoid having the Germans capture them and continued to operate these American submersibles for years. The Soviets still had five in their Black Sea Fleet when the Germans came back in 1941, losing two during WWII. As a side note, some of the lost Tsarist subs were raised by the Finns who attempted unsuccessfully to get them working while at least one was used by White Russian Gen. Wrangel’s fleet until 1922 when it was handed over to the French for scrapping.

As for H-1s 40+ British sisters, they were produced at the Canadian Vickers Yards in Montreal, Fore River in Massachusetts, and a host of yards in the UK proper. Three were lost during WWI. A fourth, HMS H-6 (the British coincidentally used the same inspired H-series names as the USN boats) was interned in Holland in 1916 and sold to the Dutch who used her as HNLMS O 8 until WWII when the Germans captured her and later scuttled the well-traveled boat in 1945. Many of the rest of the boats lived on after Versailles as training craft and four were lost in accidents in the 1920s, as is the nature of student drivers. Nine continued to see WWII service with the Royal Navy, where two more were lost in action.

In addition to the British RN H-class units, the Canadians fielded two (CH-14 and CH-15) briefly and six went to Chile as the Guacolda-class, where they continued in service until as late as 1949, the last H-class boats in operation.

From the 1946 Jane’s:

As it stands today, H-1 could be the best remembered and most accessible of this huge class of early submarines. Lost in shallow water off Baja California, and technically not a gravesite as the bluejackets lost in her grounding died on the effort to reach the beach, her bones have often been visited over the past century.

Most recently, in 2016, locals from nearby Puerto Alcatraz rediscovered the wreck, sparking a drive by Mexican authorities of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) to move in and survey the vessel.

Time has not been kind and the stern is reportedly full of sand while most of her pressure hull has collapsed. Still, the offices of INAH, in conjunction with the U.S Navy’s NHHC, are recovering what they can for preservation and documentation.

Since her loss, the Navy has never commissioned another H-1, but there have been three subsequent USS Seawolf (s) since 1939, all hard-serving submarines.

Specs:

H-1 (SS-28) showing Profile Inboard; Profile Outboard, Midship Arrangement & Booklet of General Plans. National Archives Identifier: 55302488

Displacement:
358 long tons (364 t) surfaced
467 long tons (474 t) submerged
Length: 150 ft 4 in
Beam: 15 ft 10 in
Draft: 12 ft 5 in
Installed power:
950 hp (710 kW) (diesel engines)
600 hp (450 kW) (electric motors)
Propulsion:
Diesel/electric
2 × NELSECO diesel engines 950 hp
2 × Electro Dynamic electric motors (450 kW)
2 × 60-cell batteries
2 × shafts
Speed:
14 knots surfaced
10.5 knots submerged
Range:
2,300 nm at 11 knots surfaced
100 nm at 5 knots submerged
Test depth: 200 ft
Complement: 25 officers and men
Armament:
4 × 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes
8 × torpedoes

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.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Battleship No. 39 Reopens

The USS Arizona Memorial has been closed since May 2018 for a $2.1 million stabilization and limited reconstruction, but it will be reopened on September 1, 2019 (Sunday). The National Park Service, in coordination with the Navy and contractors, completed the final phase of construction this month, with CPO selectees putting the finishing touches on the monument.

“The National Park Service is excited to welcome our visitors back to the USS Arizona Memorial very soon,” said Pearl Harbor National Memorial Acting Superintendent Steve Mietz in a statement. “It is a great honor to share the stories of the men of the USS Arizona, and all of those who served, suffered and sacrificed on Oahu on December 7, 1941. That is the cornerstone of our mission here, and restoration of public access to this iconic place is critical as we continue to tell their stories and honor their memory,” Mietz said.

The Tombstones of Battleship Row

In the 1930s, the Navy built 16 fixed concrete moorings to relieve congestion at Pearl and to provide additional berthing space for capital ships. Established in pairs designated F1 through F8, North and South, the eight along Ford Island’s southeast side became known as the famed “Battleship Row.”

Today, the quays remain as tombstones to the opening act of the Pacific War. However, they were important far past 7 December 1941.

As noted by the NPS:

From the quays, American salvage workers accomplished unprecedented feats in the recovery of sunken battleships. Workers raised the USS California, USS West Virginia, and righted and refloated the USS Oklahoma. Extensive salvage work was performed on the USS Arizona. The quays were the foundations of the recovery, which lead ships like the West Virginia fighting throughout the remainder of World War II.

Now, as noted by the Park Service, “for the first time since 1941, the fleet moorings of Battleship Row are being examined, repaired, and architecturally reviewed in order to preserve these historic structures. It’s all part of a joint program with the Concrete Preservation Institute and the National Park Service to preserve and restore the moorings along Battleship Row.”

More on that, here 

Warship Wednesday, Aug 28, 2019: Last gasp of the Mainz

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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 28, 2019: Last gasp of the Mainz

Halftone print from Det stora världskriget vol. II, p. 339. Printed in Stockholm 1915. Originally published in The Illustrated London News

On this special installment of WW, we see the German Kolberg-class light cruiser (kleiner kreuzer), SMS Mainz, sinking at the Battle of Heligoland Bight on August 28, 1914, 105 years ago today. The ship on the left is the British RN destroyer HMS Lurcher taking off German survivors. The whaleboats are from the destroyer HMS Liverpool. Commissioned in 1909, Mainz had a short career that ended with a last stand against overwhelming odds.

Four 4,200-ton Kolbergs were commissioned on the lead up to the Great War: Kolberg, Mainz, Cöln, and Augsburg. Just 4,300 tons, they would be considered frigate-size these days. Not particularly fast, they could make 25 knots. Not particularly well-armed, they mounted a dozen 4.1-inch SK L/45 single mounts as well as a couple 17.7-inch torpedo tubes, in all, really just large destroyers.

Still, they had fine lines.

SMS Mainz photographed by Arthur Renard of Kiel, in a photograph received by U.S. Naval intelligence on 19 October 1910. NH 4682

SMS Mainz, Imperial Navy, Sognefjord Norway 1914. Norwegian national archives

Resting in the Ems and Jade rivers, respectively, on the morning of 28 August 1914, Mainz and Cöln (the latter with II Scouting Group commander RADM Leberecht Maass aboard), Hipper ordered both ships to raise steam and sail to aide a force of German coastal torpedo boats and minesweepers operating near the North Sea’s Heligoland Bight that had been jumped by a superior RN force at around 0930.

Said raiding force turned out to be two British light cruisers, Arethusa and Fearless, and two flotillas containing 31 destroyers under Commodore Reginald Tyrwhitt, with cover from the massive new battlecruisers New Zealand and Invincible of Cruiser Force K under RADM Moore. Admiral Beatty’s First Battlecruiser Squadron of Lion, Queen Mary, and Princess Royal was also just over the horizon.

It was a bloody day for the High Seas Fleet among the fog and smoke.

Battlecruiser HMS Lion, Heligoland Bight, 28th August 1914, engaging the German light cruiser Cöln with her 13.5-inch guns. No contest. A painting by Montague Dawson.

Although Maass was able to piece together not only the Mainz and Coln but also the light cruisers Frauenlob, Stettin, Ariadne, and Strassburg, they were vastly outmatched by the British capital ships. Worse, half of these were destroyed piecemeal.

Very shortly after arriving on the scene, the German cruisers got plastered by the British heavy guns and attempted to withdraw. In the process, Frauenlob, Strassburg, and Stettin were heavily damaged but made a getaway.

Ariadne returned fire as best she could, but to no effect and was left dead in the water to capsize by 16:25.

Coln was similarly lost, with Maass aboard, at about 14:25, rolling over and sinking with only one crewmember, a stoker, pulled from the water three days later.

As for Mainz, who had arrived on the scene alone at about 12:30– before the other cruisers– over a 45-minute period she engaged three British cruisers and at least six destroyers. The German scored hits on the RN Laforey (or L-class) destroyers Laurel, Liberty, and Laertes with Laurel hurt so bad she had to withdraw, and Laertes disabled by 4-inch shells to her engine room.

However, the odds were clearly against Mainz and, after taking a torpedo from the destroyer Lydiard and just generally receiving a shellacking from the British guns at point-blank range, her skipper ordered the crippled vessel abandoned just before she rolled over at 14:10.

The images of her sinking were the first sinking German ship published in British papers and circled the globe, complete with Mainz shown aflame and dead in the water with just one of her stacks still standing.

Sinking of Mainz postcard

The engagement soon became iconic in period maritime art published not only in London but also Berlin.

British destroyers engaging SMS Mainz during the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914 in the First World War painting by Lionel Wyllie

German light cruiser SMS Mainz sinking at the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914 in the First World War painting by Willie Stower

RMG PW1231: ‘L-class destroyers and the battlecruisers ‘Lion’, ‘Queen Mary’, and ‘Princess Royal’, with the ‘Mainz’, at the Battle of the Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914′ by William Lionel Wyllie circa 1915

RMG PV3448: ‘Rescuing the crew of the German light cruiser ‘Mainz’ at the Battle of the Heligoland Bight, 28August 1914′ by William Lionel Wyllie circa 1914-1915

“A sketch from an officer present at the battle depicting the destroyer flotilla destroying a German cruiser” {Mainz} Illustrated London News 5 September 1914

The British rescued 348 survivors from the stricken ship, including the son of Tirpitz himself. She took 89 members of her crew, including her skipper, down to the cold embrace of the sea.

Other than the cruiser HMS Arethusa, which had been damaged in a 6-inch gun duel between that ship and the German cruisers SMS Frauenlob and Stettin, it was the stricken Mainz that caused the most injury to the Royal Navy on that fateful day.

HMS Lapwing of 1st Flotilla attempting to take HMS Laertes of 3rd Flotilla in tow during the Battle of Heligoland Bight on 28th August 1914 in the First World War. “Deeds That Thrill the Empire: True Stories of the Most Glorious Acts of Heroism of the Empire’s Soldiers and Sailors during the Great War.” V. Ludgate Hill, London: The Standard Art Book Co Ltd. 1920. p. 737. Wiki Commons

HMS LIBERTY damage received in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914. NH 59814

HMS LAERTES Damage received in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914. Note 4″ gun, burst when a shell exploded prematurely. NH 59813

HMS LAUREL Damage received in the Battle of Heligoland Bight, 28 August 1914. Note 4″ gun. NH 59810

Another shot of Laurel NH 59811

However, while the three L-class destroyers would eventually return to service, the German navy has never carried the name “Mainz” on its rolls again.

Sunk in relatively shallow water, her wreck is often visited– and plundered– by skin divers, a crime under the jurisdiction of German police.

Mainz’s telegraph, via Der Spiegel

Specs:

Mainz & Kolberg class via Janes 1914 ed.

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.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday, Aug.21, 2019: Of Long Lances and Lobsters

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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.21, 2019: Of Long Lances and Lobsters

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-K-3971

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-K-3971

In this beautiful original color photograph, we see the modified Brooklyn-class light cruiser USS St. Louis, often also seen written as “Saint Louis”, (CL-49) at Tulagi, Solomon Islands, circa 1943. At the time this image was taken, the cruiser had already seen much of the Pacific War and would see much more.

Significantly different from the seven other ships of the Brooklyn-class, St. Louis and her follow-on sister USS Helena (CL-50) was ordered under the 1934 Naval Plan. While they used the same hull, engineering plant, and general layout as the rest of their class– to include 15 6″/47 caliber Mark 16 guns in five triple turrets– there were enough differences for the two sisters to often be considered a distinct class of their own. This included a better secondary battery (eight 5″/38 DP guns in four double enclosed mounts vs. eight low-angle 5″/25 open singles), a different boat stowage scheme and cranes for the same, a smaller secondary tripod mast in a different location, higher boiler pressure, and a different fire control arrangement.

Brooklyn plan, top, St. Louis plan, bottom, both from the 1945 ed of Jane’s

The whole class could also carry as many as six floatplanes in their below-deck hangar as well as spare parts and engines, although typically would only deploy with four.

SOC-3 Seagull aircraft stripped for maintenance in the hangar of St. Louis’s near sister, the Brooklyn-class light cruiser USS Savannah (CL-42), 1938. Note the close up of the Pratt and Whitney R-1340 9-cylinder radial engine and caster tracks to roll the planes out of the hangar on its truck and on deck for launch NH 85630

USS St. Louis (CL 49) with SOC-3 Seagull biplanes on her catapults while at the Tulagi harbor. Seen from USS O’Bannon (DD 450) after the Battle of Kula Gulf, July 5-6, 1943. 80-G-55501

Capable of breaking more than 32.5 knots, they also had very long legs, able to make 14,500 nm at 15 knots without refueling.

USS Saint Louis (CL-49) off Rockland, Maine, while on trials, 28 April 1939. Note that her 5/38 secondary gun battery has not yet been installed. NH 48998

Laid down on 10 December 1936 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., our cruiser was the fifth U.S. warship vessel to carry the name of the Missouri city and gateway to the West.

Commissioned on 19 May 1939, she was still on her shakedown cruise when Hitler marched into Poland in September, sparking WWII, a move that introduced St. Louis to Neutrality Patrol operations over the next 11 months that took her from the balmy West Indies and British Guiana to the freezing North Atlantic.

However, with tensions ramping up with Imperial Japan over China, Indochina, and the Dutch East Indies, St. Louis received orders to head for the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 12 December 1940. From there, she ranged from the West Coast to Manila and back on exercises and patrols in 1941, with stops at Wake, Midway, and Guam.

St. Louis off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, on 4 June 1941. She is wearing Measure 5 (false bow wave) camouflage. NH 80564

Lucky Lou

On the morning of 7 December 1941, St. Louis was at anchor in Pearl Harbor, moored at Berth B-17 in the Southeast Loch since 28 November with two of her eight boilers offline for maintenance. The ship’s aviation detachment was shore-based at Ford Island and many of her crew and Marine det were ashore on libo.

According to the ship’s log, now in the National Archives:

“At 0756 two of the ship’s officers observed a large number of dark-colored planes heading towards Ford Island from the general direction of AIEA. They dropped bombs and made strafing attacks. At the same time, a dark olive drab colored plane bearing the aviation insignia of Japan passed close astern and dropped a torpedo…The ship went to general quarters at once and manned its entire battery.”

By 0800, her skipper was on the bridge and both her .50 caliber and 1.1″ batteries were “already manned and in action delivering a full volume of fire at the attackers,” as steam was ordered up from her six operational boilers.

St. Louis at far right, about 0930 7 December 1941, leaving Pearl. USS California off her starboard side hit and sinking.

At 0931, St. Louis got underway, with boiler power for 29 knots, and stood out to sea via South Channel. Just 30 minutes later, she reportedly suffered a near miss from two torpedoes fired from a Japanese midget submarine just inside the channel entrance buoys.

At 1016, St. Louis was the first U.S. Navy ship to clear the channel from Pearl during the attack and she engaged a number of aircraft from the Japanese second wave between then and 1147 with her twin 5″ mounts before joining with the cruisers Montgomery and Minneapolis, along with several destroyers, to proceed “southward with the intention of locating and attacking the [Japanese] carrier.”

Between 1213 and 1234, her guns engaged the Japanese second wave as they withdrew. In all, she fired 207 5″ shells, 3,950 rounds from her 1.1″ battery and a very decent 12,750 .50-cal BMG rounds, claiming at least three probable Japanese planes seen to flame and crash.

Of course, the little force of cruisers and destroyers did not find the Japanese flattops and retired to Pearl Harbor on 10 December. While Battleship Row was the scene of carnage, St. Louis was only very lightly damaged from machine gun rounds and suffered no casualties in the attack.

USS Arizona (BB-39) burned out and sunk in Pearl Harbor on 10 December 1941, three days after she was destroyed during the 7 December Japanese raid. Ships in the background are USS Saint Louis (CL-49), in the center, and the hulked minelayer Baltimore (CM-1) at left. NH 63918

Joining the shooting war with a bang, St. Louis was used to escort the steamer SS President Coolidge, carrying Philippine President Quezon to San Francisco, as well as riding shotguns on convoys to reinforce Midway and the Aleutians.

St. Louis at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, circa May 1942. NH 50796

She was in the Northern Pacific during the Battle of Midway, missing out on the initial carrier clash, but did her first round of naval gunfire support on 3 August when she plastered the newly Japanese-occupied island of Kiska in the Aleutians. On 16 August, she lost an aircraft with four aviators aboard somewhere between Kodiak and Whitehorse.

After staying in Alaskan waters to cover the Allied liberation of Adak, St. Louis caught a refit at Mare Island where she picked up a much better AAA suite of 40mm and 20mm guns.

From there she proceeded to the West Pac where she joined RADM “Pug” Ainsworth’s TF cruiser-destroyer force, dubbed the “Ainsworth Express,” in fighting the Japanese in the near-nightly efforts to prevent the Empire from reinforcing their troops on Guadalcanal and/or wiping out the Marines trying to keep a toe-hold there. The Tokyo Express and Ainsworth Express collided in the high-traffic waterway of New Georgia Sound through the middle of the Solomon Islands, better known as “The Slot,” in a series of pitched battles in the summer of 1943.

At Kula Gulf, Ainsworth’s force of three light cruisers– St. Louis, her sister Helena, and near-sister USS Honolulu (CL-48) — collided with 10 destroyers of RADM Teruo Akiyama’s 3rd Destroyer Squadron off the coast of Kolombangara Island carrying 2,600 Japanese troops. The action, all in pitch darkness, left Akiyama dead, two Japanese destroyers sunk, and Helena lost, a victim of the deadly Type 93 Long Lance torpedo.

Night Battery of USS St. Louis (CL 49) during the Battle of Kula Gulf. Photographed by CPU-2, July 5-6, 1943. 80-G-55522

Covered with oil of their torpedoed ship, USS Helena (CL-50), survivors respond to a roll call aboard the destroyer USS O’Bannon (DD 450) which picked them up. Three times the destroyer had to leave off its rescue work to do battle with Japanese warships. Catalog #: L45-122.07.01

Less than a week later, the two opposed Expresses crashed into each other again in the same area with RADM Shunji Isaki’s force, consisting of the cruiser Jintsu, along with five destroyers, duking it out in a night action with Honolulu and St. Louis backed up by the Kiwi light cruiser HMNZS Leander. In the wild fight, which was considered a pyrrhic victory for the Japanese that turned into a strategic defeat as they shifted operations away from the vital Slot moving forward, sent Jintu to the bottom– plastered by radar-directed 6-inch guns from the Allied cruisers, killing Isaki.

Battle of Kolombangara, 13 July 1943, firing by USS ST. LOUIS (CL-49) during this battle. #: 80-G-342762

However, in her final act, the Japanese cruiser had gone down illuminating her killers with her searchlights and all three of the Allied cruisers as well as the destroyer USS Gwin (DD-433), was hit by Long Lances before the action was over. While Gwin ultimately could not be saved, Honolulu, St. Louis and Leander managed to limp away to fight another day.

The bow of USS Saint Louis (CL-49), showing torpedo damage received during the Battle of Kolombangara. Photographed while the ship was under repair at Tulagi on 20 July 1943. USS Vestal (AR-4) is alongside. #: 80-G-259410

Damage to the bow of USS St. Louis (CL 49). Photographed by PHOM1/C George E. Gates, Jr., CPU-2, July 20, 1943 80-G-259411

Note the sign that reads, “Danger / All Boats Slow Down.” Photographed by PHOM1/C George E. Gates, Jr., CPU-2, July 20, 1943. 80-G-259412

St. Louis received a temporary bow at an advanced base in the Pacific. With this bow, the cruiser was able to return to a West Coast navy yard for more permanent repairs. Incredibly, Lucky Lou had come out of both Kula Gulf– where her sister had been sunk– and Kolombangara with no serious casualties.

USS Saint Louis (CL-49) has guns removed from her forward 6/47 turrets, during overhaul and battle damage repairs at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, circa September 1943. The upper section of her midships searchlight platform is hanging from a crane in the immediate background. It was removed to reduce the ship’s topside weights. #: 80-G-K-15536

In mid-November, Lou returned to the Solomons and, from the 20th to the 25th, covered Marines fighting for Bougainville. She would continue to work her way along the Pacific, delivering salvos of accurate 6-inch and 5-inch shells in NGF support.

On 13 January 1944, while operating in the area between Buka and St. George Channel to support landing operations in the Green Islands off New Ireland, she was attacked by five Vals. One managed to make it through flak fire to hit St. Louis in her 40mm clipping room near the number 6 mount and exploded in the midship living compartment, killing 23 and wounding another 20.

Her spell had been broken.

Still, she licked her wounds once more and got back to work, supporting operations on Saipan and Guam, while picking up a new camo pattern.

Camouflage Measure 32, Design 2C drawing prepared by the Bureau of Ships for a camouflage scheme intended for USS St. Louis (CL-49). She was painted in this pattern during much of 1944. This plan, showing the ship’s port side, is dated 31 March 1944 and was approved by Captain Torvald A. Solberg, USN. #: 80-G-109719

Saipan Invasion, June 1944. Units of cruiser division six bombard Saipan on 14-15 June 1944. The nearest ship is USS NEW ORLEANS (CA-32). Beyond her is USS ST. LOUIS (CL-49). #: 80-G-K-1774

USS Saint Louis (CL-49) bombarding Japanese positions on Guam, 21 July 1944. She is painted in camouflage Measure 32, Design 2c. #: 80-G-K-16463

USS St Louis, 1944, off Orote Point, Guam

After her 1944 campaigns, she was beaten and broken, in need of an urgent refit. In Late July she headed for the West Coast to get some work done.

USS Saint Louis (CL-49) off San Pedro, California, on 5 October 1944. Her camouflage is Measure 32, Design 2c. #: 19-N-72219

Then, refreshed and ready to go again, it was now time to deliver on MacArthur’s “I Shall Return” promise and Lou made a course for the Philippines, where she felt the Divine Wind.

One of the most effective Japanese kamikaze attacks of the war occurred on 27 November in the Leyte Gulf against Task Group 77.2., when a mixed force of 13 Jills, Kates and Vals came in low at 1125 while the ships were fueling. The task group was composed of four battleships, five cruisers, and seven destroyers, of which the larger ships were singled out for attack. Corresponding hits were scored on Colorado (BB-45), Maryland (BB-46), Montpelier (CL-57), and Aulick (DD-569) as well as St. Louis.

Two suicide planes hit St. Louis, one aft and one amidships, burning the after part of the cruiser, destroying catapults and seaplanes, and damaging her after turrets. She took a hard list to port for nearly an hour and looked in bad shape.

USS Saint Louis (CL-49) crewmen fight fires in the cruiser’s hangar after she was hit by a Kamikaze off Leyte on 27 November 1944. Note wrecked SOC floatplane in the left background, and hangar hatch cover threw atop the port catapult, at right. #: 80-G-361985

Her crews managed to contain the fires, right the ship, and head for San Pedro Bay for repairs. In the twin kamikaze strike, 16 men were killed or missing and another 43 injured.

After another stint in a California shipyard to fix her back up, St. Louis returned to the battle line in March 1945, bombarding Okinawa, and guarded minesweepers and UDT teams clearing channels to the assault beaches.

By August, the end of the war found her assigned to TF 73, the Yangtze River Patrol Force, and she made Shanghai in October, supporting KMT Chinese forces.

After three Magic Carpet runs across the vast expanse of the Pacific to bring returning Vets back home Lou sailed for the East Coast and arrived at Philadelphia for inactivation in February 1946.

In all, from Pearl Harbor to the Japanese Home Islands, St. Louis earned 11 battle stars during her war.

Her payment? She was stricken from the U.S. Naval List on 22 January 1951.

Cruisers and other warships laid up in the Philadelphia Yard Reserve Fleet Basin, circa 1947. Outboard ship in the left group is USS ST. LOUIS (CL-49). Ships in background include (in no order): USS SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38), USS TUSCALOOSA (CA-37), USS MINNEAPOLIS (CA-36), USS NEW ORLEANS (CA-32), USS LOUISVILLE (CA-28), and USS PORTLAND (CA-33).
“All Hands” magazine Catalog #: NH 92254

However, Lucky Lou would get a reprieve from the rust squadron and go on to live a very long second career

Cruzador Tamandaré

In the 1900s, a Latin American naval race led South America’s major powers to acquire numerous battleships to include a modicum of dreadnoughts, along with a veneer of escorting armored/protected cruisers. While these vessels had grown quite long in the tooth and put on the list for the breakers by the end of the 1940s, the big regional players still needed ships for prestige and to be taken seriously. The logical replacement for those 30-40-year-old coal burners was relatively new Allied WWII-surplus cruisers which could be bought for a song.

This led to the curious phenomenon that, outside of the U.S., Europe and India/Pakistan, all the world’s cruisers from the 1950s to 1970s were operated by Latin American fleets:

Argentina– Two ex-Brooklyn class light cruisers (Phoenix, Boise, recommissioned as Gen. Belgrano and Nueve de Julio in 1951-52) as well as the old Vickers-made training cruiser La Argentina (8,610-tons, 9×6″ guns)

Chile– Two ex-Brooklyns (Brooklyn, Nashville, recommissioned as Prat and O’Higgins in 1951-52) as well as the Swedish-built Latorre (ex-Gota Lejon) bought in 1971.

Peru– Two ex-British Colony-class light cruisers (ex-HMS Ceylon, Newfoundland recommissioned as Almirante Grau and Col. Bolognesi, in 1959-60) replacing a pair of Vickers built scout cruisers commissioned in 1908. The Dutch De Zeven Provinciën-class cruiser HNLMS De Ruyter later became Peru’s only cruiser, recycling the Grau name, serving until 2017.

As for Brazil, they got the same sweetheart cruiser deal from Uncle Sam hat Argentina and Chile got on their scratch and dent Brooklyns— pay just 10 percent of the vessels’ original cost plus the expense of reconditioning them after their short stint in mothballs.

With that, Rio plunked down cash for the Brooklyn-class USS Philadelphia (CL-41) as well as our St. Louis in 1951 with the latter being transferred on 29 January and the former on 21 August.

While Philly picked up the moniker of NAeL Barroso (C11), St. Louis became Almirante Tamandaré (C12) after the famed 19th Century Brazilian naval hero Joaquim Marques Lisboa, Marquês de Tamandaré, the third vessel to bear this name in the Marinha do Brasil.

This guy

In the end, Brazil got a 12-year-old ship that had been hit by Long Lance torpedos, Japanese bombs, and kamikazes, but still looked great.

ALMIRANTE TAMANDARE (Brazilian Cruiser, ex USS ST. Louis) in U.S. waters photographed circa early 1951. Courtesy of Robert Varrill, 1977 Catalog #: NH 85261

TAMANDARE (Brazilian cruiser, ex-USS ST. LOUIS, CL-49) underway, 20 to 30 miles off Fort Story, Virginia, 5 March 1952, shortly after she was commissioned by the Brazilian Navy. #: 80-G-440057

Same day 80-G-440059

Other than adding LORAN, halting the operation of seaplanes and landing their catapults (the Brazilians later used Sikorsky H-34 and Westland Wasp helicopters on their cruisers), and getting rid of their Oerlikons, the vessels remained essentially the same as during their WWII service, to include carrying their 40mm Bofors mounts, SPS-12 (surface search), SPS-6C (air search) and SPS-10 (tactical) radar sets.

Taking further advantage of good deals on certified pre-owned naval warships, Brazil also bought 7 surplus Fletcher-class destroyers, a Sumner-class destroyer, 7 Bostwick-class destroyer escorts, and four GUPPY’d fleet boat style diesel submarines from the U.S. Navy. This gave the country two effective surface action groups well into the early 1970s centered around the cruisers with the tin cans and subs in support– even if they did look a repeat of the Pacific War.

Arriving in Rio de Janeiro 20 April 1952 after four months of shakedowns with her new Brazilian crew, Tamandare became the fleet flagship until 1960 when the aircraft carrier NAeL Minas Gerais (A11) joined the fleet. This led to a simple life of friendship missions (she carried President Dr. Café Filho and entourage on an official visit to Portugal in 1955 and a revisit in 1960), midshipman cruises, and regular training exercises such as DRAGÃO, UNITAS, and ASPIRANTEX.

The closest she came to combat in her decades under the Brazilian flag was the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état (Golpe de 64), which started with a sailor’s revolt, and the so-called Lobster War with France.

The what?

In the early 1960s, French lobstermen sailing from African waters came increasingly close to Brazil, within about 100 miles of Pernambuco, which became a real issue when Rio kicked their economic exclusion zone out to 200 miles, as is now common. The friction led to the seizure of at least one French fishing boat by the Brazilians and a muscular response from Paris that saw the gunboat Paul Goffeny (A754) sail over from Dakar.

The heated rhetoric saw a French naval task force sail from Toulon in February 1963– officially for a West African cruise– headed by the brand-new aircraft carrier Clemenceau (who was carrying helicopters only as she would not get her first F-8 Crusaders until the next year), the AAA cruiser De Grasse (12,350-tons, 8 x 5-inch guns), the big destroyers Cassard, Jauréguiberry and Tartu; and the corvettes Le Picard, Le Gascon, L’Agenais, Le Béarnais, and Le Vendéen, along with support vessels.

Rio reciprocated by putting Brazilian Air Force RB-17 Flying Fortresses into the air along with shore-based S-2 Trackers on long-range patrol over the disputed fishing grounds– and mobilizing both the cruisers Barroso and Tamandaré along with six Fletcher-class destroyers.

Tamandaré, at sea flanked by a heavy escort of former Fletcher-class tin cans, from top: Pernambuco (D30) ex-USS Hailey, Paraná (D29) ex-USS Cushing, Pará (D27) ex-USS Guest, and Paraíba (D28) ex-USS Bennett. Of note, the Brazilians would keep most of these greyhounds well into the 1980s.

In terms of guns, the Brazilan fleet had a distinct advantage if it came to a naval clash with the French, who would have been handicapped by the fact that the Latin American country could also bird dog the area of operations with land-based aircraft. Still, the French had more bluewater experience, coupled with better sensors, and may have made it count.

In the end, only the French destroyer Tartu entered the disputed area and remained there for 17 days until 10 March while the Brazilians sent air patrols to keep tabs on the interloping French ship. The two fleets never got within several hundred miles of each other, as the French kept close to Africa, in Dakar and Abidjan, while the Brazilians likewise remained in their coastal waters.

Brazilian cruiser ALMIRANTE TAMANDARE C12 former USS ST.LOUIS (CL-49) note H34 helicopters in the air

No shots were fired in the surreal crustacean contest known in Brazil as the “Guerra da Lagosta” and both sides de-escalated, later settling the dispute in 1966 amicably.

In all, Tamandaré steamed over 200,000 nautical miles with the Brazilian Navy and served her adopted country proudly.

NAeL Tamandaré (C-12), da Marinha do Brasil, fevereiro de 1971. Arquivo Nacional. Note her helicopter deck

While Barroso/Philadelphia was scrapped in 1974, Tamandaré endured for another two years and was only decommissioned on 28 June 1976.

Sold for $1.1 million in scrap value to Superwinton Enterprises of Hong Kong, a Philippine-flagged tugboat, Royal, arrived in Brazil to haul the old cruiser to the breakers in Asia in August 1980. However, St. Louis wasn’t feeling another trip to the Pacific via South Africa and, unmanned, on the night of 24 August near -38.8077778°, -001.3997222°, she started to submerge. Unable for Royal to save her, the towline was released, allowing her to settle on the seabed where she remains in deep water.

Today, a WWII St. Louis Veterans’ Association exists, though its ranks are thinning. The U.S. Navy recycled her name for an amphibious cargo ship (LKA-116) and a planned Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS-19) set to commission in 2020.

As for Brazil, that country’s Navy has recently reissued the name Tamandaré to the lead ship of a new class of Meko A100 type corvettes scheduled for delivery between 2024 and 2028.

Specs:

Scheme from 1973 Janes, as Brazilian NAeL Tamandaré (C-12), redrawn in 1971

Displacement:
Standard: 10,000 long tons (10,000 t)
Full load: 13,327 long tons (13,541 t)
Length: 608 ft 8 in
Beam: 61 ft 5 in
Draft:
19 ft 10 in (6.05 m) (mean)
24 ft (7.3 m) (max)
Propulsion:
8 × Babcock & Wilcox Express steam boilers
4 × Parsons geared turbines, 4 × screws, 100,000 shp (75,000 kW)
Speed: 32.5 knots
Range: 14,500nm at 15 knots on 2,100 tons fuel oil
Complement:
(As designed) 888 officers and enlisted men
(1944) 1070 men, 58 officers, plus Marine and Aviation detachments
(1973, Brazil) 975
Armor:
Belt: 3 1⁄4–5 in (83–127 mm)
Deck: 2 in (51 mm)
Barbettes: 6 in (150 mm)
Turrets: 1 1⁄4–6 in (32–152 mm)
Conning Tower: 2 1⁄4–5 in (57–127 mm) (although Jane’s states 8)
Armament:
(As designed)
15 x 6″/47 cal cannons in five triple Mk-16 mounts three at the bow and two at the stern
8 x 5″/38cal guns in four double Mk-38 mounts
16 x 1.1″ AAA guns in four quad mounts
8 x .50-caliber water-cooled machine guns
1 depth charge thrower
(1945)
15 x 6″/47 cal cannons in five triple Mk-16 mounts three at the bow and two at the stern
8 x 5″/38cal guns in four double Mk-38 mounts,
28 x 40 mm Bofors L60 guns in four Mk 2 quadruple mounts and six Mk 1 doubles
8 x 20 mm Oerlikon submachine guns on single Mk 4 mounts.
Aircraft carried:
(1940s) 4-6 × SOC Seagull floatplanes, 2 catapults
(1958) 2-3 helicopters, first H-34s later Westland Wasps

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Meanwhile, 36 years later

While Commandant Paul X. Kelley was visiting an intensive care ward at Frankfurt, Germany on 25 October, he observed Jeffrey Nashton "with more tubes going in and out of his body than I (Gen. Kelley) have ever seen. When he heard me say who I was, he grabbed my camouflaged coat, went up to the collar and counted the stars. He squeezed my hand, and then he wrote...'Semper Fi'," Gen. Kelley explained. The Commandant later recalled, "When I left the hospital, I realized I had met a great human being, and I took off those stars because at the time I felt they belonged more to him that to me."     From the Paul X. Kelley Collection (COLL/3348) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division     OFFICIAL USMC PHOTOGRAPH

While Commandant Paul X. Kelley was visiting an intensive care ward at Frankfurt, Germany on 25 October 1983, he observed Jeffrey Nashton “with more tubes going in and out of his body than I (Gen. Kelley) have ever seen. When he heard me say who I was, he grabbed my camouflaged coat, went up to the collar and counted the stars. He squeezed my hand, and then he wrote…’Semper Fi’,” Gen. Kelley explained. The Commandant later recalled, “When I left the hospital, I realized I had met a great human being, and I took off those stars because at the time I felt they belonged more to him than to me.” From the Paul X. Kelley Collection (COLL/3348) at the Archives Branch, Marine Corps History Division OFFICIAL USMC PHOTOGRAPH

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