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The immense engine of Generosity

On 18 February 1800, some 217 years ago today, the French Téméraire-class 74-gun ship of the line Généreux (Generosity) carrying the flag of Rear Adm. Jean-Baptiste Perrée and commanded by Capt. Mathieu-Cyprien Renaudin, ran into a British squadron a week out of Toulon on the way to relieve the embattled French garrison on Malta.

The French force, consisting of Généreux, the 20-gun corvettes Badine and Fauvette, the 16-gun Sans Pareille and the fluyt Ville de Marseille, wound up facing the British squadron just off the island, composed of four (4) 74-gun ships– HMS Alexander, Northumberland, Audacious and Foudroyant— as well as the 64-gun HMS Lion and the 32-gun frigate HMS Success. The leader of the Brits was a chap by the name of Nelson.

The action was heroic on both sides, with the faster Success overtaking Généreux and Perrée electing to engage the British squadron alone in a holding action, allowing the rest of his ships to escape what would have been certain destruction or capture.

'British Frigate Success attacking Genereux Feb. 18, 1800, winging her and delaying her until Nelson arrived' by the artist R. Bramley. Source http://www.antiques-atlas.com/antique/rbramley_oil_hms_success_engaging_genereux/as237a1163

‘British Frigate Success attacking Genereux Feb. 18, 1800, winging her and delaying her until Nelson arrived’ by the artist R. Bramley. Source

In the resulting maiming of the Généreux by the Brits, Perree lost first an eye to a splinter and a leg to a cannonball, but eeked out, “Ce n’est rien, mes amis, continuons notre besogne” (It is nothing, my friends, continue with your work) like a true 18th Century naval hero. He later died that evening, probably telling “your mama” jokes about Nelson to the leeches.

Généreux eventually struck her immense (53 x 27 ft.) tri-color after an hour of terrific battle and went on to be repaired and pressed into service with the RN as HMS Généreux, serving Nelson for a while until broken up in 1816.

On Nelson’s orders, Perrée was interred in Saint Lucy church in the Dominican convent of Syracuse on nearby Sicily and remains there today.

rear-adm-jean-baptiste-perree
Généreux‘s skipper, Renaudin, after he was paroled was acquitted at a court martial for losing his ship and sought to continue his service in the French Navy, though he was cashiered on direct orders from Napolean. Just 43 at the time, Renaudin had over two decades of sea service under his belt including numerous ship-to-ship combats and likely could have been useful for a good while longer. C’est la vie.

Renaudin retired to the quiet coastal town of Saint-Denis-d’Oleron on a nominal pension of 900 francs per year. He was later offered the Legion of Honor and its associated knighthood by the Bourbon government, which he refused. He died on Valentine’s Day 1836, you could say of a broken heart. A book was written about him in 2010 entitled, Un marin d’infortune (Sailor of misfortune).

As for the Généreux Tri-Color, it is believed to be one of the earliest still in existence and is preserved by the BNPS, though it is deteriorating. The ensign, after being captured, was sent to Norwich, where it was put on display until 1897. Brought out and shown off once more for the 1905 centenary of the Battle of Trafalgar, it has been in storage since then.

Set to be put on public display at the Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery from July 29 to October 1, it was recently unfurled and examined. Fragments of wood, likely splinters from battle-damaged ships, and traces of gunpowder were found as was a nail used to hammer it up at one point, likely for display.

genereux-tri-color
To ensure this amazing object– the oldest Napoleonic flag in the UK– is available for future generations to enjoy, the Costume and Textile Association have launched a crowd-funding campaign to raise £5,000 towards the total costs of £40,000 needed for vital conservation work.

If it ain’t raining, we ain’t training

Also translated as “If it’s not snowing, we ain’t going.”

1-10th Special Forces Group Soldiers maneuver through shooting range at Panzer Range Complex, Boeblingen, Germany, Nov. 08, 2016., Photo: U.S. Army Special Operations Command

1-10th Special Forces Group Soldiers maneuver through shooting range at Panzer Range Complex, Boeblingen, Germany, Nov. 08, 2016., Photo: U.S. Army Special Operations Command. Click to big up.

“Through rain, sleet, snow or storm our Special Forces Soldiers will deliver to your front door…or back door, window, roof, basement crawl space. You know…wherever they see fit.”

Warship Wednesday Feb.8, 2017: Victoria’s very busy Vulture

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 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

Warship Wednesday Feb.8, 2017: Victoria’s very busy Vulture

Via Royal Museums Greenwich collection

Via Royal Museums Greenwich collection

Here we see Her Majesty’s second-class paddlewheel steam frigate HMS Vulture, of Queen Victoria’s Royal Navy, landing dispatches at Danzig during the Crimean War.

A one-of-a-kind vessel, she was ordered 18 March 1841 from the Royal Navy dockyard in Pembroke Dock, Pembrokeshire, Wales for a cost of £46,718, of which half of that was the price of her engineering suite. While based on the Pembroke-built HMS Cyclops, that ship was a near-sister at best.

Her near-sister, HMS Cyclops, originally a Gorgon-class frigate equipped with a Seaward and Capel steam plant. She had roughly the same dimensions and layout as Vulture, though with a different plant.

Her near-sister, HMS Cyclops, originally a Gorgon-class frigate equipped with a Seaward and Capel steam plant. She had roughly the same dimensions and layout as Vulture, though with a different plant.

As befitting her time, Vulture‘s steam plant, meticulously described in The Practical Mechanic and Engineer’s Magazine of the day, was novel. Two paddle wheels, each 26.5-feet in diameter and arranged port and starboard about centerline, were driven by direct-action steam engines of some 476 horses designed by William Fairbairn and Co., London. Her steam plant consisted of four locomotive style boilers, “placed back to back, 26 feet 10 inches in total breadth, and 13 feet high.” She could carry 420tns coal, and make 9.5 knots with everything glowing.

A wooden-hulled ship with an auxiliary two-masted sailing rig, Vulture, the ninth such ship to carry the name for the Crown, weighed in at 1,960-tons full load. Armed with for 4×68-pdr shell guns, 5x56pdrs, and 2x24pdr carronades, she was placed in service 15 February 1845 under the command of Captain John Macdougall with a complement of 175 men and boys. At the time, she was considered a first-class frigate.

She soon would see action in the Far East as the largest ship in Major-General George D’Aguilar’s punitive expedition to Canton in 1847. The city was guarded by 13 ancient batteries and forts along the Canton river. For this, Vulture embarked 24 officers and 403 men of the 18th (Royal Irish) Regiment of Foot, and along with the smaller HMS Espiegle, East Indian steamer Pluto, the armed privateer Corsair and a pair of “lorchas”– small trawler style craft of shallow draft, took them on.

Operations in the Canton River 3. Forts and Batteries of the Bocca Tigris or First Pass of the Canton River; H.M. Steam Ship, Vulture Captain MacDougall passing the Batteries, with the 18th Royal Irish on board via Royal Museums Greenwich collection

Operations in the Canton River 3. Forts and Batteries of the Bocca Tigris or First Pass of the Canton River; H.M. Steam Ship, Vulture (tiny smoky dot in center) Captain MacDougall passing the Batteries, with the 18th Royal Irish on board via Royal Museums Greenwich collection

With her big 68-pdrs supplying naval gunfire support and her small boats leading the way for the other craft in the fleet– who could affect amphibious operations due to their shallower draft– the forts fell one by one in a four-day period with nearly 900 Chinese cannon captured without a loss among the British forces.

The keep of the French Folly Fort blown up by the Royal Sappers and Miners on 5 April 1847.Via Royal Museums Greenwich collection

The keep of the French Folly Fort blown up by the Royal Sappers and Miners on 5 April 1847.Via Royal Museums Greenwich collection

Operations in Canton River. 11. The Return to Hong Kong. The Vulture passing the Battery upon Tygris Island, Lorcha in tow via Royal Museums Greenwich collection

Operations in Canton River. 11. The Return to Hong Kong. The Vulture passing the Battery upon Tygris Island, Lorcha in tow via Royal Museums Greenwich collection

Grounded at Hong Kong 9 Oct 1847 as a result of a typhoon (the severest reported in 10 years) she returned to the Home Isles and was placed in ordinary.

Recommissioned after refit as a second-class frigate, Vulture sailed for Devonport for Pendennis Castle, Falmouth with replacement troops in April 1851. Her armament was changed out for six guns, all 8-inchers with 98-pounder smoothbore shell guns on bow and stern pivots and four lighter 68-pounders on broadside trucks.

She would soon need them.

On 25 November 1852, she was placed under the helm of Capt. Frederick Henry Hastings Glasse, and operated out of Devonport until the Crimean War sent her abroad looking for trouble. She was one of seven other paddle steamers assigned to Rear-Admiral Plumridge, dispatched to harass the Russians in the Baltic Sea’s Gulf of Bothnia in May 1854.

After destroying vessels and storehouses, etc., at Brahestad and Uleaborg, and capturing several gunboats, Vulture and the 16-gun frigate HMS Odin was sent to capture the Russian dockyard at Gamlakarleby (Kokkola) 7 June 1854 and, after landing a 180-man force, was rebuffed with the loss of 17 Sailors and Royal Marines and one of her paddle-box whaleboats captured. Apparently, the locals did not agree to terms.

Seamen From HMS Vulture Under Attack at Halkokari June 7 1854 - Vladimir Swertschkoff Lithograph

Seamen From HMS Vulture Under Attack at Halkokari June 7 1854 – Vladimir Swertschkoff Lithograph

By August, Vulture had rejoined the main British fleet first to capture the Russian Bomarsund fortress on Åhland Islands, where she landed French troops, then for the impressive but ultimately pyrrhic attempt to capture the Russian positions at Sveaborg outside Helsinki.

English sailors & French soldiers. A Dance on board HMS Vulture Augt 7 (caricature), via Royal Museums Greenwich collection

English sailors & French soldiers. A Dance on board HMS Vulture August 7 (caricature), via Royal Museums Greenwich collection

'Landing of the French troops near Bomarsund in the Aland Islands, August 8th 1854. Sketched from on board HMS Vulture'. Tinted lithograph, 1854, by L Huard after Edwin Thomas Dolby (fl 1849-1870), reproduced as plate nine in 'Dolby's Sketches on the Baltic' published by Paul and Dominic Colnaghi, 1854. Via National Army Museum http://www.nam.ac.uk/online-collection/detail.php?acc=1976-07-55-1

‘Landing of the French troops near Bomarsund in the Aland Islands, August 8th, 1854. Sketched from on board HMS Vulture’. Tinted lithograph, 1854, by L Huard after Edwin Thomas Dolby (fl 1849-1870), reproduced as plate nine in ‘Dolby’s Sketches on the Baltic’ published by Paul and Dominic Colnaghi, 1854. Via National Army Museum

The Bombardment of Sveaborg, 9 August 1855, by John Wilson Carmichael (1799–1868), National Maritime Museum, via ArtUK. The steamship in the center of the painting is Vulture. National Maritime Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-bombardment-of-sveaborg-9-august-1855-173178

The Bombardment of Sveaborg, 9 August 1855, by John Wilson Carmichael (1799–1868), The steamship in the center of the painting is Vulture. National Maritime Museum; http://www.artuk.org/artworks/the-bombardment-of-sveaborg-9-august-1855-173178

Known today in Finland as the Battle of Suomenlinna, 77 British ships hammered the Russians for three days without the obsolete Russian artillery able to respond. However, with the Tsar having over 15,000 regulars ashore and the Brits not having a superior land force to match, the battle stalemated after Victoria’s fleet flattened the old coastal batteries.

lebreton_the-bombardment-of-sveaborg
The war ended without much more action by the RN in the Baltic, which was always a sideshow to the efforts in the Crimea regardless. During the war, Vulture was credited with capturing the Russian brig Patrioten, and merchant vessel Victor, for which her crew was awarded prize money per the London Gazette of 21 Jul 1857.

Present at the Fleet Review at Spithead in April 1856 under Captain Glasse, by 3 June 1856, Vulture picked up her fourth skipper, Capt. Frederick Archibald Campbell, and was reassigned to the Med– then shortly decommissioned.

In 1858, Vulture, under Captain C. Packer, was again on the move, helping to ship the 71st (Lord Macleod’s) Highlanders to Bombay.

In the end, she was laid up for a final time in 1860 then sold in 1866 to Castle & Son, Charlton, to be broken up.

Her near-sister, HMS Cyclops, served in the Syrian Campaign of 1840, fought in the Kaffir War, then served in the Black Sea during the Crimean War before helping to survey the Atlantic telegraph cable from Ireland to Newfoundland and London to India. She paid off in 1860.

Little is left of Vulture, though a screw gunboat carried her name in the late 19th century as did a Clydebank three funnel 30-knot destroyer in the Great War. The Navy List has not held the name “Vulture” on an active ship since 1919 though a gunnery range at Treligga, west of Delabole, Cornwall, carried the designation HMS Vulture II through WWII.

Oh, remember that whaleboat lost in Finland in 1854? Well, they still have it, under glass, along with the carefully maintained graves of nine Royal Marines and a stark memorial to what the Finns call the “Skirmish of Halkokari.”

Only one other paddle-box boat, from HM 2nd class paddle frigate Firebrand, is in existence. The RN still has it at the Royal Dockyards, Portsmouth.

Halkokari skirmish memorial

englantilainen_barkassi
Specs:
Displacement: 1,960 tons FL
Length: 190 ft. (gun deck) 163.6 ft. (keel)
Beam: 37.5 feet.
Draft: 23 feet
Propulsion: Two Fairburn 2-cyl vertical direct-acting 476-hp engines, four tubular boilers, two paddlewheels, 420-tons coal, max speed 9.5knts
Complement: 175
Armament: 4×68-pdr shell guns, 5x56pdrs, and 2x24pdr carronades (as built) 6×8-inch Paixhans style ML shell guns, two 98-pdr, four 68-pdr(1851)

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Farewell Big E, you will live on

The Enterprise – CVN 65 – was the eighth Navy ship to carry that name. She was the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, her keel laid 4 Feb 1958 – exactly 59 years ago this month– at Newport News. Over her generations of service, some 250,000 Sailors and Marines walked her decks. Her decommissioning ceremony, above, was held in the ship’s hangar bay, Feb. 3. The ceremony not only marked the end the ship’s half-century career, it also served as the very first decommissioning of a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

However, she will endure as Naval History and Heritage Command’s curators have combed the ship for artifacts.

Steel from her will be recycled into the hull of the new USS Enterprise (CVN-80) as will the portholes from her Captain’s cabin (which were carried on CV-6 during WWII!) and her bell.

One of six porthole frames and covers removed from the bridge of USS Enterprise (CV-6) in 1958. These portholes were installed in the Captain’s cabin aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and are slated to be installed aboard the next ship to bear the name of Enterprise, CVN-80.

One of six porthole frames and covers removed from the bridge of USS Enterprise (CV-6) in 1958. These portholes were installed in the Captain’s cabin aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65) and are slated to be installed aboard the next ship to bear the name of Enterprise, CVN-80.

Plaque, Historical Data, USS Enterprise (CVN-65) 47 ¼” x 21 ½” x 1” Brass NHHC 2013.025.002 Headquarters Artifact Collection: Naval History and Heritage Command Eight U.S. Navy vessels have born the name Enterprise. This plaque displays the different engagements that each vessel bearing the name Enterprise was involved in since 1775. This plaque was on display aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) which is the longest serving aircraft carrier in United States Navy history with 51 years of active service.

Plaque, Historical Data, USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
47 ¼” x 21 ½” x 1”
Brass
NHHC 2013.025.002
Headquarters Artifact Collection: Naval History and Heritage Command
Eight U.S. Navy vessels have born the name Enterprise. This plaque displays the different engagements that each vessel bearing the name Enterprise was involved in since 1775. This plaque was on display aboard the USS Enterprise (CVN-65) which is the longest serving aircraft carrier in United States Navy history with 51 years of active service.

Bell, Ship’s, USS Enterprise (CVN-65) 23” x 22”, 200 lbs. Brass NHHC 2013.025.001 Headquarters Artifact Collection: Naval History and Heritage Command This bell hung within the hull of USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. During its career, the ship saw service as a tracking station for the Friendship 7 space capsule, performed blockade duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis, had six combat deployments to Southeast Asia, was refitted to support the brand new F-14A Tomcat, and deployed to the North Arabian Sea in the fall of 2001 to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom.

Bell, Ship’s, USS Enterprise (CVN-65)
23” x 22”, 200 lbs.
Brass
NHHC 2013.025.001
Headquarters Artifact Collection: Naval History and Heritage Command
This bell hung within the hull of USS Enterprise (CVN-65), the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. During its career, the ship saw service as a tracking station for the Friendship 7 space capsule, performed blockade duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis, had six combat deployments to Southeast Asia, was refitted to support the brand new F-14A Tomcat, and deployed to the North Arabian Sea in the fall of 2001 to take part in Operation Enduring Freedom.

And she will always endure in maritime art and in the hearts of those who walked her decks.

"Enterprise on Yankee Station" by R.G. Smith, Oil Painting, c. 1968. Accession: 88-160-EU Courtesy U.S. Navy Art Gallery, Naval History and Heritage Command

“Enterprise on Yankee Station” by R.G. Smith, Oil Painting, c. 1968. Accession: 88-160-EU Courtesy U.S. Navy Art Gallery, Naval History and Heritage Command

Just Jeepin’ around Geilenkirchen

vickers-a-go-go-jeep-manned-by-sergeant-a-schofield-and-trooper-o-jeavons-of-1-sas-near-geilenkirchen-in-germany-nov-1944

Click to big up 1920×1080

A jeep manned by Sergeant A Schofield and Trooper O Jeavons of 1 SAS near Geilenkirchen in Germany Nov 1944. The jeep is armed with three Vickers ‘K’ guns (2 double and 1 single mount), and fitted with armoured glass shields in place of a windscreen. The SAS were involved at this time in clearing snipers in the 43rd Wessex Division area. No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit Hewitt (Sgt)IWM Colourised by Paul Reynolds

Warship Wednesday January 18, 2017: Vasili and the Cuban Cony

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday January 18, 2017: Vasili and the Cuban Cony

Photo: Ed Zajkowski via Navsource.

Photo: Ed Zajkowski via Navsource.

Here we see the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cony (DD/DDE-508) off  Norfolk in October 1963 as seen from the USS Keppler (DD-765). Though she earned 11 battle stars for World War II service, two for Korean War service and spent five months off Vietnam, it was a little-acknowledged day in 1962 that Cony witnessed what could have been the start of World War III.

One of the last pre-WWII destroyer designs of the U.S. Navy, the amazing 175 Fletchers proved the backbone of the fleet during the conflict. These expendable ‘tin cans’ saved Allied flyers, sank submarines, duked it out with shore batteries, torpedoed larger ships, screened the fleet, and shot down wave after wave of enemy aircraft, keeping the carriers and transports safe behind their hail of fire.

With the ability to float in just 17.5-feet of seawater, these ships crept in close to shore and supported amphibious landings, dropped off commandos as needed, and helped in evacuations when required. Small ships with long legs (5500-nm unrefueled at 15-knots) they could be dispatched to wave the flag in foreign ports, provide gunboat diplomacy in times of tension, and race just over the horizon at 36.5-knots to check out a contact.

The hero of our tale, laid down at Bath Iron Works on Christmas Eve 1941, was named after one Lt. Joseph Saville Cony, USN, notable for several successful small-boat expeditions along the Carolina coast during the Civil War before going down in a storm with the merchant vessel City of Bath in 1867 at age 33.

Commissioned 30 October 1942, LCDR H. D. Johnson in command, our warbaby was off to the Pacific.

(DD-508) Photograph taken circa late 1942. Note her dark scheme. This view has been heavily retouched by wartime censors to hide radars atop her Mark 37 gun director and foremast, and the hull number on her bow. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104873

(DD-508) Photograph taken circa late 1942. Note her dark scheme. This view has been heavily retouched by wartime censors to hide radars atop her Mark 37 gun director and foremast, and the hull number on her bow. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104873

Cony soon arrived off Guadalcanal, where she served as Vice Adm. Theodore S. Wilkinson’s flagship for the landings on Vella Lavella. In October, over a two-night period, she and six other tin cans intercepted Japanese barges evacuating Kolombangara, sinking an enemy torpedo boat and 40 barges while chasing away a quartet of smaller destroyers of the Imperial Navy.

Cony took two bombs from Japanese dive bombers on 27 October 1943 which sent her back to California’s Mare Island Naval Shipyard for refit and repair after her crew fought fires for more than 20 hours– though she reportedly splashed 5 Japanese planes in the exchange.

The following are excerpts from the shipboard diary of the rear gunner, Stanley Baranowski:

“27 Oct – … at 3:oo PM got contact with a lot of planes – enemy… at 3:15 they came at us.  So many of them.  We started to fire everything we had… 3:25 we got 2 direct hits on port and starboard… Lots of men were hit.  Worked on fires.  Was up all night taking care of wounded.

“28 Oct – Still working on fires… we started to throw ammo over the side.  Ship was listing to port… 11:15 AM port engine gave out.  Tug came along and started to tow us.  12 PM fire was out.  1 PM moored to taker “Oragon” and took off wounded men.

“29 Oct – Got up at 6:30 AM.  Worked like hell and at 1:35 PM took off 2 dead fellows burned to death – what a horrible sight.  Admiral came on board to look things over, said it’s a State-side job and at 5:30 PM a show started named – ‘Accidents Will Happen.’”

When Cony emerged from Mare Island four months later it was with a new camo scheme: Measure 32, Design 21D.

(DD-508) Off San Francisco, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104497

(DD-508) Off San Francisco, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104497

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly ahead, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104877

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly ahead, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104877

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly astern, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944.NH 104878

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly astern, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944.NH 104878

Once repaired, she sailed again for the West Pac, arriving in time for pre-invasion bombardment on Tinian in July 1944 before moving on to supporting the landings on Peleliu.

By October 1944, she was involved in the toe-to-toe fleet engagement with the Japanese Imperial Navy that was the Battle of Surigao Strait, during which she traded salvos and broadsides with the IJN’s destroyer Asagumo (Morning Cloud) of some 2,408-tons.

USS Cony (DD-508) lays a smoke screen near USS West Virginia (BB-48), to protect shipping off Leyte from Japanese air attack, during the landings there on 20 October 1944. Note manned anti-aircraft batteries on board the battleship, including a Mark 51 director in the foreground, 20mm gun at left, 40mm quad gun mount in center and 5/38 twin gun mounts beyond. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-289679

USS Cony (DD-508) lays a smoke screen near USS West Virginia (BB-48), to protect shipping off Leyte from Japanese air attack, during the landings there on 20 October 1944. Note manned anti-aircraft batteries on board the battleship, including a Mark 51 director in the foreground, 20mm gun at left, 40mm quad gun mount in center and 5/38 twin gun mounts beyond. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-289679

She went on to support the Lingayen Gulf landings and ended the war in the approaches of the Yangtze River of China, calling on Shanghai. Cony performed occupation and repatriation service for a few months, then was promptly decommissioned and laid up at Charleston, S.C in 1946.

Her period in mothballs lasted just over three years and she was recommissioned (as DDE-508) on 17 November 1949, with much of her outdated armament removed and equipped for an emphasis in antisubmarine warfare.

Though she served in the Korean War zone for five months in 1951 providing naval gunfire support, she would spend most of the next decade in the Atlantic fleet supporting NATO operations in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Med.

(DDE-508) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 12 March 1957. Old Point Comfort, with the Chamberlain Hotel and Fort Monroe, is in the center and right background. Note bridge-tunnel construction work in the left background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104882

(DDE-508) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 12 March 1957. Old Point Comfort, with the Chamberlain Hotel and Fort Monroe, is in the center and right background. Note bridge-tunnel construction work in the left background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104882

When Brigade 2506 (Brigada Asalto 2506) stormed ashore at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba on 17 April 1961, Cony was just offshore as part of the U.S. fleet that was ostensibly to support the landings by the 1,300 Cuban exiles looking to whack The Beard, but was under orders from Washington not to intervene.

Cuban exiles captured during the failed American-backed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion

Cuban exiles captured during the failed American-backed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion

Cony played a serious part in the op, carrying a large part of the force to the landing zone with her whaleboat serving as part of the invasion flotilla. They immediately received fire from the beach and later, a Cuban helicopter fired on the whaleboat returning to the beach to rescue survivors.

However, her involvement in Cuba was far from over.

When the Cuban Missile Crisis kicked off in October 1962, Cony– reverted back to her DD-508 designation in June– was part of an anti-submarine task force centered around the Essex-class ASW carrier USS Randolph (CVS-15) that included the destroyers Bache (DD-470), Beale (DD-471), Eaton (DD-510) and Murray (DD-576).

Task Force ALFA, an experimental group specializing in developing ASW tactics, during anti-submarine exercises in the Atlantic, 1959. The other ships present are (from left): USS Murray (DDE-576), USS Beale (DDE-471), USS Bache (DDE-470), USS Eaton (DDE-510), USS Conway (DDE-507), USS Cony (DDE-508), USS Waller (DDE-466) and USS Valley Forge (CVS-45). This force, changing out Randolph for Valley Forge, sailed together during the Cuban Missile crisis. Photograph was released for publication on 3 August 1959. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 96944

Task Force ALFA, an experimental group specializing in developing ASW tactics, during anti-submarine exercises in the Atlantic, 1959. The other ships present are (from left): USS Murray (DDE-576), USS Beale (DDE-471), USS Bache (DDE-470), USS Eaton (DDE-510), USS Conway (DDE-507), USS Cony (DDE-508), USS Waller (DDE-466) and USS Valley Forge (CVS-45). This force, changing out Randolph for Valley Forge, largely sailed together during the Cuban Missile crisis. Photograph was released for publication on 3 August 1959. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 96944

While enforcing the naval quarantine authorized by President Kennedy, the task force on 27 October came across the Soviet Foxtrot-class diesel-electric submarine B-59, which was heading from her White Sea base along with sister ships B-36, B-4 and B-130 to Havana with the mission “to strengthen the defense of the island of Cuba” and equipped with a total of 88 53-58 (T-5) nuclear-tipped torpedoes– 22 per submarine–just in case.

*Each T-5 carried an RDS-9 warhead with a 3-10 kiloton yield, enough to evaporate a carrier group if it got close enough*

Here is some footage of the first nuclear test fired at Novaya Zemlya of a RDS-9 equipped T-5 torpedo.

Notably, the deployment of the quartet of Foxtrots was the first documented deployment of their class to carry nuclear torpedoes as part of their magazine– and with the boat’s onboard leadership able to sign off directly on their use without asking Moscow for permission.

At 1659 on 27 October, Beale picked up B-59 on sonar and dropped practice depth charges on the Soviet smoke boat while pinging her with active sonar.

Then, at 1729, Cony upped the ante by dropping five hand grenades on top of the contact– one of the few documented instances of live ordnance being deployed in the crisis.

This, combined with the action of Beale, forced the sweltering Russki boat to the surface at 2050 where Cony‘s signalman established commo via blinker light with the submarine.

There, bathed in spotlights from the destroyers with their 5-inch guns trained on the Soviet submarine, one Second Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, executive officer of the 69th Torpedo Submarine Brigade, overruled B-59‘s Captain Valentin Savitskii and his deputy political officer Ivan Semenovich Maslenniko, who both wanted to fire off a salvo of atomic torpedoes at the American fleet upon surfacing. It should be noted that the effort to surface the B-59 was made just hours after Major Rudolf Anderson’s U-2 spy plane was shot down over Eastern Cuba, at the tensest moment of the crisis.

“We’re gonna blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all – we will not become the shame of the fleet,” Savitskii reportedly said, according to a journal kept by Captain Third Rank Anatoly Andreev.

Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, Record Group 428, Item 428-N-711200

Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, Record Group 428, Item 428-N-711200

By refusing to sign off on the engagement, Arkhipov became one of the unsung heroes of the Cold War who exercised enough restraint to keep the conflict from turning into a real live shooting war with mutually assured destruction as the third act.

Anyway, the Rudolph ASW task force allowed B-59 to charge her depleted batteries overnight on the surface, submerge the next morning and continue on its way Cuba.

Cony resumed her peacetime training and patrol operations, which included participating in the NASA recovery fleets for MR-IA, MR-4, GT-3, MA-4 and AS-204, and conducting Midshipmen cruises to Europe.

Good overhead recruiting poster shot of DDE-508 in her Cold War haze scheme, Photograph dated 12 March 1967, which would put her just before her Vietnam deployment. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104499

Good overhead recruiting poster shot of DDE-508 in her Cold War haze scheme, Photograph dated 12 March 1967, which would put her just before her Vietnam deployment. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104499

Then came Vietnam, where she sailed for in the summer of 1967.

From 28 August to 24 September, she provided gunfire support first for the 1st Cav Div’s operations in the II Corps area then for SEAL units operating in the Mekong Delta. She later was assigned to Task Group 77.8 on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin, Cony provided plane guard duty for the carrier Oriskany (CVA‑34). From 14 August 1967 to Christmas 1967, she patrolled the Taiwan Straits and was on gunfire support and plane guard duty in Cam Ranh Bay, Cape Saint Jacques, Vung Ganh Rai, the Saigon River, and Mui Ba Kiem, RVN.

Not bad looking for a 25 year old tin can that had fought in three wars. (DD-508) Underway in the Atlantic, 12 March 1968, the year before she was pulled from the line. Photographed by Lieutenant D.V. Orgill, USN. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. #: NH 104498

Not bad looking for a 25 year old tin can that had fought in three wars. (DD-508) Underway in the Atlantic, 12 March 1968, the year before she was pulled from the line. Photographed by Lieutenant D.V. Orgill, USN. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. #: NH 104498

Upon return to the states, she was decommissioned and stricken 2 July  1969.

Cony was sunk as a target off Puerto Rico 20 March 1970 via naval gunfire.

Most of her sisters met a similar fate with the last in U.S. Naval service, USS Stoddard (DD-566), being stricken 1 June 1975, and sunk in an exercise by Navy Seals of Seal Team One, 22 July 1997 off the coast of Hawaii in 2,550 fathoms of cool Pacific water.

A number of oral history interviews with members of Cony‘s crew are in the Library of Congress and her plans are in the National Archives.

To do your part to remember the old girl, you can visit one of the four Fletcher sisterships have been preserved as museum ships, although only USS Kidd was never modernized and retains her WWII configuration:

USS Cassin Young, in Boston, Massachusetts
USS The Sullivans, in Buffalo, New York
USS Kidd, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
AT Velos, former USS Charrette in Palaio Faliro, Greece

As for Arkhipov, the Soviet staff officer who prohibited the firing of the nuclear-tipped torpedoes, in 2002 then-director of the US National Security Archive, Thomas Blanton, said that “Vasili Arkhipov saved the world.”

vasili_arkhipov

The Soviet submariner– who incidentally was XO of the “widow maker” K-19 and retired as a Vice Admiral in the 1980s–  died 19 August 1998 at age 72.

Specs:

(DD-508) In San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. The ship is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 21D. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104876

(DD-508) In San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. The ship is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 21D. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104876

(As commissioned, 1942)
Displacement: 2924 tons (full load)
Length: 376.5 ft. (114.8 m)
Beam: 39.5 ft. (12.0 m)
Draft: 17.5 ft. (5.3 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW); 4 oil-fired boilers; 2 Allis Chalmers geared steam turbines; 2 screws
Speed: 36.5 knots (67.6 km/h; 42.0 mph)
Range: 5,500 miles at 15 knots
(8,850 km at 28 km/h)
Complement: 329 officers and men
Armament: 5 × single 5 inch (127 mm)/38 caliber guns
4 × 40 mm Bofors AA guns, 10 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannons
10 × 21 inch (533 mm) antiship torpedo tubes (2 × 5; Mark 15 torpedoes)
6 × K-gun depth charge projectors (later Hedgehog)
2 × depth charge racks

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Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Franz Schmidt

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Franz Schmidt

Franz Schmidt was a German postcard artist probably best known for his series of city cards published from 1910-14 showing buildings and sites around his hometown of Nuremberg.

Nassauer Haus Nurnberg Germany, Franz Schmidt 1910.

Nassauer Haus Nurnberg Germany, Franz Schmidt 1910.

However, when the Great War popped off, Schmidt was commissioned to produce a series of “fighting man” style postcards for Trautmann & von Seggern of Hamburg (T&S) showing German troops in action in 1914-15.

While I cannot find much information on Schmidt’s background or how he obtained the study for the martial series (i.e. whether he used models, traveled to the front, relied on newspaper imagery) they are very well done and mostly correct, even if they are clearly propaganda. Each shows a good example of early war uniforms including piping, brass buttons and covered Pickelhaube and Czapka.

The below come from The Rare Book Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library has a massive collection of WWI postcards (nearly 10,000!)

Battle of St. Quentin. German soldiers on horseback, carrying swords, are riding toward English and Scottish infantry.

Battle of St. Quentin. German soldiers on horseback, carrying swords, are riding toward English and Scottish infantry.

Color image on a postcard showing a German infantryman holding his rifle, standing in the woods.

Color image on a postcard showing a German infantryman holding his rifle, standing in the woods.

Color image on a postcard showing a German Marine on a beach, carrying a rifle over his shoulder.

Color image on a postcard showing a German Marine on a beach, carrying a rifle over his shoulder.

German 77mm field artillery defend from French cavalry in battle near the Aisne

German 77mm field artillery defend from French cavalry in battle near the Aisne

German gunner at a gun park. He is standing in front of cannons, holding an artillery short sword

German gunner at a gun park. He is standing in front of cannons, holding an artillery short sword

German troops attacking Indian troops at Ypres, in West Flanders. Througout the war the Germans made a big deal of the fact that both France and Britain utilized colonial troops who the German media characterized as savages-- while they played up their own native Askari troops in Africa.

German troops attacking Indian troops at Ypres, in West Flanders. Throughout the war the Germans made a big deal of the fact that both France and Britain utilized colonial troops who the German media often characterized as savages– while they played up their own native Askari troops in Africa.

German soldiers fighting French soldiers at Neufchâteau

German soldiers fighting French soldiers at Neufchâteau

Hussar standing with his horse in a city that has been bombed. In his hand is a lit cigar

Hussar standing with his horse in a city that has been bombed. In his hand is a lit cigar.

Landstrum soldier at a railway station. There is snow on the ground, and a train sits on a track in the background.

Landstrum soldier at a railway station. There is snow on the ground, and a train sits on a track in the background.

Postcard showing a member of the German uhlan cavalry on horseback with lance.

Postcard showing a member of the German uhlan cavalry on horseback with lance.

Schmidt’s cards from time to time pop up online on eBay and others, typically at low ($5-$10) prices.

Thank you for your work, sir.

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