So there was a certain pucker factor this week when this bad boy showed up.
As reported by the Kitsap Sun, a Coast Guard spokeswoman said the object was reported at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, first noticed by conservation officers.
“The Navy says initial inspection of the moored mine showed it had decades of marine growth. At about 5 p.m., Navy divers secured a long line to the device and began towing it with a small boat. By 8:15 p.m., officials said it had been detonated without incident.”
Described as an inert practice mine of unknown origin with decades of marine growth, the Navy is investigating the backstory of the device but you can be sure the local MIUWU guys have assholes the size of cheerios.
For reference, training mine, below. These were based on the old WWI/II-era spherical Mk 5, a moored Hertz-horn (acid) contact mine, and the Mk 6, a smaller antenna type with a Hertz backup. The USN still had quantities of these live mines on had as late as the 1980s and practice casings, as you see here, are still in use:
When Camp Perry opened, the Krag Jorgensen rifle was still king of the range. It was not until 1908– as shown in the above photo– that enough of the Model 1903 rifles were available that they could be set aside for use in the National Matches.
At the 1907 National Matches, the rifle ranges accommodated 160 targets for shooting out to 1,000 yards, while the revolver targets (the M1911 was still a half-decade away from making an appearance at the match) numbered 5 each at distances of 15, 25, 50 and 75 yards.
Today the National Matches are a great deal more diverse and draw a slightly larger attendance, but one thing that hasn’t changed in the past 100 years is SAFS.
The Department of Defense first conducted the Small Arms Firing Schools (SAFS) as part of the National Matches at Camp Perry in 1918 and Federal law continues to require the annual course– which now instruct nearly 1,000 pistol and rifle shooters each year in firearms safety and fundamental marksmanship skills.
The current token entry fee of $45.00 ($30.00 for juniors) provides SAFS shooters with classroom instruction, field training, live fire squadded practice session, entry to the M16 EIC Rifle Match, as well as ammo for the course. The winner gets a plaque. The top four get medals. All get a t-shirt, a lapel pin, and a memory to keep forever as their very own experience in the National Matches.
The Small Arms Firing School (SAFS) is a two-day clinic that includes a safety training and live fire portion (30 rounds) on the first day and an M16 Rifle Excellence In Competition (EIC) match on day two. The course of fire after five sighting rounds for the M16 EIC match consists of 10 shots slow fire prone in 10 minutes, 10 shots rapid-fire prone in 60 seconds, 10 shots rapid-fire sitting in 60 seconds and 10 shots slow fire standing in 10 minutes, all fired from the 200-yard line.
The program is designed for beginning marksmen or those looking to earn their first EIC points, which are earned and applied toward receiving a Distinguished Rifleman Badge.
Developed by Orbital ATK, Heckler & Koch and L-3, the XM25 CDTE was a man-portable “smart” weapon system designed to fire 25mm high-explosive airburst round set to explode in mid-air at or near the target through the help of a laser rangefinder. It was planned to buy 10,876 launchers, and eventually arm one soldier in every fireteam, phasing out the various 40mm grenade platforms.
But not everything goes according to plan.
Although fielded in limited numbers for a 14-month period in Afghanistan that ended in 2012 but earned the super blooper a nickname (The Punisher), the Army ultimately pumped the brakes on the project in 2016 after a toxic cocktail of cost overruns (the estimated cost per unit more than tripled), failed testing, and malfunctions, which resulted in a lawsuit and finger-pointing between two of the contractors. Now, almost two years later, the Army has closed the door for good but will keep the technology as well as the prototype weapons, Stars and Stripes reports.
“After canceling the program last year, the Army has since received rights to the program’s research and development,” said Army spokesman Lt. Col. Isaac Taylor. “This is in addition to the 20 existing XM25 systems — to include high explosive air-burst and target practice rounds — that the Army garnered as part of the negotiated settlement.”
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 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. 15, 2018: Florida’s ancient sub-buster
Here we see, behind the striking young lady, is the Argo-class 165-foot (B) submarine chaser/cutter Nemesis (WPC-111) of the U.S. Coast Guard, taken during the 1953 Gasparilla Festival in Tampa. Nemesis was just under 20 at the time and had an interesting life both prior to and after this image was snapped.
The USCG’s two-dozen 165-footers were built during the early-1930s and they proved successful in WWII, with two sinking U-boats. Based on the earlier USCGC Tallapoosa (WPG-52), the 165-foot class of cutters was divided into two groups, the first designed primarily for derelict destruction and SAR, the second for Prohibition bootlegger busting:
The first batch, the six Class A vessels, were named after Native American tribes– Algonquin, Comanche, Escanaba, Mohawk, Onondaga, and Tahoma— and had a 36-foot beam, a 13.5-foot maximum draft, a sedate speed of 13 knots, and a displacement of 1,005 tons. We’ve covered a couple of this class of “beefy” 165s before to include USCGC Mohawk and cannot talk these hardy boats up enough. Tragically, one of these, USCGC Escanaba (WPG-77), was lost after encountering a U-boat or mine in 1943 with only two survivors.
The follow-on 18 WPCs in Class B were named after Greek mythos– Argo, Ariadne, Atalanta, Aurora, Calypso, Cyane, Daphne, Dione, Galatea, Hermes, Icarus, Nemesis, Nike, Pandora, Perseus, Thetis, Triton, and Electra. They were much lighter at 337-tons, narrower with a 25-foot beam, could float in under 10-feet of water (the designed draft was ~7ft.) and, on their suite of direct reversible GM-made Winton diesels, could touch 16 knots while keeping open the possibility of a 6,400nm range if poking around at a much lower speed.
They were built between 1931 and 1934 at a series of five small commercial yards and were designed as patrol vessels. Their normal armament consisted of a dated 3-inch/23 caliber Mk 7 gun and two 37mm Mk. 4 1-pounders. Due to their designed role in busting up Rum Row, their small arms locker included a few Thompson M1921 sub guns, M1911s and a number of Springfield 1903s for good measure.
The subject of our tale, Nemesis (can you get a better name for a warship?), was ordered for $258,000 from Marietta Manufacturing Co. at Point Pleasant, West Virginia, on the Ohio River, alongside her sisters Nike and Triton, in 1931. All three commissioned the same day– 7 July 1934– ironically some six months after Prohibition ended.
Nemesis and her 44-man crew (5 officers, 39 enlisted) set sail for St. Petersburg, Florida, where they would consider home for the rest of her (peacetime) career with the Coast Guard.
With tensions ramping up prior to the U.S entry to WWII, several East Coast 165s, to include Algonquin, Comanche, Galatea, Pandora, Thetis, and Triton, were on duty with the Navy after 1 July 1941 to assist with the Neutrality Patrol. The rest would follow immediately after Pearl Harbor. Armed with hastily-installed depth charge racks and a thrower and given a couple of Lewis guns for added muscle, they went looking for U-boats as the defenders of the Eastern Sea Frontier.
The Gulf Sea Frontier, which included the Florida and Gulf coasts and parts of the Bahamas and Cuba, was defended in only rudimentary fashion during the early months of the war. Initial defenses consisted of the three Coast Guard cutters Nemesis, Nike, and Vigilant, together with nineteen unarmed Coast Guard aircraft and fourteen lightly armed Army aircraft.
In late February 1942 four ships were torpedoed in four days, and in May 41 vessels were sent to the bottom by hostile submarine action off the Florida coast and in the Gulf. As sinkings mounted alarmingly in the Gulf Sea Frontier waters, American defensive strength in the area began to increase rapidly and overwhelmingly.
Sister Icarus (WPC-110) in May 1942 depth-charged U-352, sinking the submarine off the North Carolina coast and taking aboard 33 of her survivors. Thetis (WPC-115) scratched U-157 north of Havana just a few weeks later. Meanwhile, at the same time, Nike (WPC-112) attacked and “likely sank” a surfaced U-boat off Florida’s Jupiter lighthouse then rescued 19 from a torpedoed Panamanian freighter.
Operating in the 7th Naval District on coastal patrol and convoy escort duty throughout the conflict, Nemesis rescued 28 from the Mexican tanker Faja De Oro, torpedoed by U-106 off Key West in May 1942, an attack that helped spark Mexico’s entry into the War against Germany.
The next month, Nemesis again had to pluck men from the Florida Straits. This time 27 men from the American-flagged SS Suwied, sank by U-107 on her way from Mobile to British Guyana.
Our cutter did not manage to bag a U-boat on her own, although she reported contacts on several occasions and dropped a spread several times. Between February and August 1942 she launched attacks on submarine contacts on at least five different occasions.
By 1944, Nemesis, like the rest of her class, had their armament replaced by two 3″/50 guns, two 20mm Oerlikons, 2 Mousetrap ASW throwers as well as more advanced depth charges and throwers. Nemesis was also one of just five of her class that carried SF-1 radar and QCN-1 sonar, sensors that the humble 165s were never designed for.
In 1945, the Navy selected six patrol vessels as its “Surrender Group” in the 1st Naval District including the three up-armed 165-foot Coast Guard cutters– Dione, Nemesis, and Argo. These ships helped process the surrender of at least five German submarines, U-234, U-805, U-873, U-1228, and U-858. Notably, U-234 was packed with sensitive cargo to include senior German officers and 1,200 pounds of uranium.
Nemesis received one battle star for her World War II service and chopped back to the USCG in 1946.
Postwar, Nemesis picked up her white scheme and, losing some of her depth charges, went back to St. Pete.
By 1953, most of her class had been decommissioned with only Ariadne, Aurora, Dione, Nemesis, Nike, Pandora, Perseus and Triton still on active duty. On the East Coast, Triton was stationed in Key West and Nemesis was in St. Pete. Nike was in Gulfport, MS.
Decommissioned after a busy 30-year career on 20 November 1964, Nemesis was sold on 9 February 1966 in a public auction, going to Auto Marine Engineers of Miami who parted her out over the years. (One of her masts could be on the late PBS&J Corporation founder Howard Malvern “Budd” Post’s Waterside estate.)
Renamed Livingston’s Landing, her hulk was rebuilt by 1979 to look like a triple-decker African steamer and used as a floating restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, picking up the name Ancient Mariner in 1981 while performing the same job. She was docked just west of where Hyde Park Market used to be, across from jail.
Sadly, “the floating eatery was closed in 1986 by health officials as the source of a massive outbreak of infectious hepatitis” that sickened more than 80.
With nothing else going for her, the once-proud vessel was acquired at public auction, “purchased by the South Florida Divers Club of Hollywood for $6,000 and donated to Broward County’s artificial reef program. In June of 1991, the Nemesis, now called Ancient Mariner, was sunk as an artificial reef off Deerfield Beach.”
Of her sisters, USCGC Ariadne (WPC-101), the last in federal service, was decommissioned 23 Dec. 1968 and sold for scrap the next year. Some went on to overseas service, including USCGC Galatea, Thetis, and Icarus, who remained afloat into the late 1980s with the Dominican Republic’s Navy. At least five of the class were bought by the Circle Line of NYC and converted to local passenger ferry work around the five boroughs. Daphne is thought to be somewhere in Mexican waters as a tug.
Of the 24 various 165s that served in the Coast Guard and Navy across a span of almost a half century, just one, like Nemesis a B-model, remains in some sort of confirmed service.
Commissioned as USCGC Electra (WPC-187) in 1934, she was transferred to the US Navy prior to WWII and renamed USS Potomac (AG-25), serving as FDR’s Presidential Yacht for a decade. Struck from the Navy List in 1946, she was saved in 1980 and is currently open to the public in Oakland.
As for the Coast Guard, they are increasingly recycling the old names of the classic 165s for their new class of 360-foot Offshore Patrol Cutters so it is possible that Nemesis will pop back up. Further, the service retains a number of old bells from the 165s as artifacts, such as from USCGC Comanche, below, which means the bell from Nemesis could very well be ashore somewhere on a Coast Guard base.
334 long tons (339 t) trial
1945: 350 tons
160 ft, 9 in waterline
165 ft. overall
Beam: 23 ft 9 in
Draft: 7 ft 8 in as designed, (1945): 10 ft
2 × Winton Model 158 6-cylinder diesel engines, 670 hp (500 kW) each
two shafts with 3-bladed screws
Fuel: 7,700 gals of diesel oil
Speed: 16 knots
Range: 3,000 nautical miles at 11 knots; 6,400 @6kts on one diesel.
44 officers and men as designed
1945: 75 officers and men
Sensors: (1945) SF-1 radar and QCN-1 sonar
1 × 3-inch /23 caliber gun
2 × 37mm one-pounders
2 × 3-inch / 50 cal guns
2 × 20 mm guns
2 × Y-guns
2 × depth charge tracks
2 × Mousetrap anti-submarine rockets
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This is a great ~9 min video from the Wisc. Air Guard on the Deuces Wild. You know about them, yes?
They were the Wisconsin Air National Guard’s Cold War-era precision flying team, taking a break from their normal mission of North American Air Defense to wow the crowds, part-time.
Between 1969 and 1974, Airmen with the 176th Fighter Squadron at Truax Field, Wisconsin used their primary aircraft, the Corvair F-102 Delta Dagger to form a five-ship flying demonstration team. The Deuces Wild allowed the Madison-based unit to honor flyby requests while increasing recognition of the mission of the Wisconsin Air National Guard.
With the temperatures rising steadily, here is a nice cool shot of USCGC Amberjack (WPB 87315) seen here moored alongside a CG mooring buoy in Valley Cove, Maine.
Amberjack, an 87-foot Marine Protector-class cutter, is homeported in Jonesport, Maine. She is armed with two M2 .50-caliber heavy machine guns as well as an extensive small arms locker of M16s, Sig P229Rs, and Remington 870 shotguns.
Meant primarily for emergency hunting and fending off polar bears rather than parting the hair of a Russian submariner, the C19 rifle is definitely unique to the needs of those that use it.
In the above video members of the Canadian Rangers are shown in Newfoundland meeting their newly issued .308 Win-chambered bolt guns for the first time and getting the 411 on nomenclature and the rifle’s specifics. Based on the Sako T3 CTR (Compact Tactical Rifle) with tweaks for the Rangers as they have to use their guns in whiteout conditions at -50 C weather.
The cold weather testing, by Colt Canada, who is making the C19 under license from Sako.
Said differences include an oversize bolt and trigger guard so that it can be used with heavy gloves (you don’t want to touch metal with bare hands when it’s that cold) as well as a high-viz laminated stock complete with the Ranger crest.
More on the C19 over in my Guns.com column.