So like any salty sea dog, I have a number of illustrations upon my skin in the best traditions of Danish kings and scurvy-ridden members of Neptune’s realm. One I had applied this week I thought was kind of unique. While I have sea monkeys, dragons and the like, I always wanted a ship in a bottle as well, and finally figured out just which ship I wanted in a glass.
Recognize the battleship? Of course, it was the first “warship” I fell in love with– the battleship game piece from Monopoly! I remember, um, borrowing it from the game set at my grandfather’s at about age 6 and keeping it as a good luck charm in my pocket daily for years. As a reference, Parker Brothers has used roughly the same piece since 1937 and it appeared in both the strategy games Conflict and Diplomacy as well over the years.
Anachronistic when introduced in the Depression, the piece is closest to the Navy’s earliest 1890s-era pre-dreadnoughts of the Indiana and Iowa classes, with main battery turret guns forward and aft, a tall mast forward, and two funnels.
As all of those vessels had left the fleet in the 1920s– replaced by actual dreadnoughts– they were conspicuously old-fashioned even when Monopoly first debuted.
Kind of like myself.
One of the most interesting SECDEFs to ever hold the position, Harold Brown, has passed away. A nuclear physicist, he joined the team (and later became the director at) what is now Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory in 1952 and led the group that created a smaller nuclear reentry vehicle for the Polaris missile and its replacements. To have a grasp on what this meant, the follow-on Poseidon could carry as many as 14 367-pound W68 warheads, each capable of 50 kilo-tons, whereas a MIRV’d Polaris could only carry 3 W58 warheads with a yield of 200 kilotons each. A lot more bang for the buck.
Brown was tapped by McNamara to become DoD’s Director of Defense Research and Engineering in the Kennedy administration and was the 8th SecAF under Johnson (during which the F-4 quickly replaced the F-105, which was taking a beating over Vietnam). Taking a break from government positions while Republicans were in the White House, he returned to become Carter’s SECDEF. While Carter gets a bad wrap for miserly military spending– which he actually inherited from Ford– it should be pointed out that Brown managed to shepherd modest increases in the Pentagon’s budget in FY78-80, and was a cheerleader for Trident, ALCMs for B-52s, and the MX missile, as well as deploying Pershing IRBMs to Western Europe– staying true to his nuclear roots, while pushing for the SALT II treaty. It can be argued that all of the above helped keep the Soviets, who had a massive tactical advantage, on their side of the Curtain in the 1980s.
On the downside, Brown canceled the B1 bomber (which Reagan rebooted), eschewed increasing the armament on the Spruance-class destroyers (they were so ill-armed when first built that they were called “Love Boats”) and presided over the Desert One Debacle.
Brown passed over the weekend of pancreatic cancer at the age of 91.
Organized on 11 January 1812, wiped out at the Raisin River Massacre, and reconstituted in 1861 to join the Army of the Potomac, the 17th Infantry Regiment was in the forefront of the Civil War, proving key at Fredericksburg. Post-bellum, they remained on the Army’s rolls and, after the Indian campaigns, fought in the Spanish-American War, during which nine men of its C and D companies earned the Medal of Honor at El Caney, Cuba in 1898.
In between WWI/WWII (Presidential Unit Citation for Leyte), Vietnam, and Korean service, the 17th chased Villa in Mexico and was involved in the Philippine Insurrection, fighting at Malolos, San Isidro, Tarlac, and Mindanao between 1899-1900.
The regiment’s 4th Battalion is currently part of the 1st Armored Division, where they serve as a mechanized infantry unit. Their nickname is “The Buffalos” after Lt.Gen. William Wilson “Buffalo Bill” Quinn, who commanded the regiment at Inchon and remained their Honorary Colonel for over 40 years after. Their regimental association is here.
Either the British Army likes a challenge, or they’re scraping the bottom of the barrel for recruits in this day and age of social media warriors and selfie-lovers. The new recruiting campaign to bring the Army to its authorized strength (to include women in the infantry) and keep it there is reaching out for a modern generation.
The Defence Select Committee was told in October that it had 77,000 fully trained troops compared with a target of 82,500, which doesn’t sound like a huge shortfall, but when you consider that the British Army is facing deployments all over the world and is at its smallest size since 1793 when it had contracted to just 40,000 in the aftermath of the Revolutionary War (its lowest 19th Century mark was 90,000 in 1838, two decades after Napoleon had been sent to St. Helena).
Of course, the posters are a riff on British Field Marshal Lord Kitchener’s “Wants You” posters first fielded in 1914 to help recast the battered (and all-volunteer) British Expeditionary Force on the Western Front after the original regulars, The Old Contemptibles, had been bled white at the Marne and Ypres.
Notably, the new posters do not include the finger-pointing. Probably too aggressive.
Kitchener was not available for comment.
Meanwhile, on 28 Dec 2018, Army Capt. Louis Rudd, 49, became the first Briton to cross Antarctica solo, unsupported and unassisted.
“Using all the training and experience gathered from his 33-year military career, Lou hauled 165kg of kit and food supplies for 1500km across the driest, coldest and most inhospitable continent on the planet. Originally anticipated to take up to 75 days, to achieve this feat in 56 is extraordinary,” noted the Army.
Update: The Parachute Regiment, who has their own program for direct recruitment, posted the below this afternoon with an appeal to don the “cherry berry.”
Pokey finger and all…
Ens. Lauren Larar (USNA 2018), on watch aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85), penned the first for the Navy this year as the ship had passed the International Date Line in the Pacific:
Steaming alone over waters no trouble,
McCAMPBELL is ready to fight on the double.
With lights burning brightly above on the mast,
All engines standard, 16 knots going fast.
We cut through the waters below deep and blue,
Our course is 200, degrees true.
Our position is in the sea to the east.
Our stomachs are full from the grand midrats feast.
1 alpha, 2 bravo are turning each shaft,
Alpha power units move rudders back aft.
Numbers 2 and 3 are the paralleled GTGs
Material Condition is Modified Z.
Computer assisted manual is the steering mode,
So we can maneuver per Rules of the Road.
CO’s in her chair, she’s up on the Bridge,
We’re still left of track, we’ll come right just a smidge.
TAO down in Combat, monitoring aircraft and chats,
And EOOW in Central, stay vigilant Hellcats!
The year that’s behind us was challenging, yes, indeed,
But Ready 85 will always succeed.
We’re mighty, we’re strong, we cannot be rattled
In the year that’s to come, we’ll stay RELENTLESS IN BATTLE!
Named for CAPT. David S. McCampbell, an Alabamian who went on to become a Medal of Honor and Navy Cross recipient who was the Navy’s leading ace in World War II (34 victories with VF-15 in a six-month period in 1944, flying F6F Hellcats, later serving as CAG of USS Essex), DDG-85 was built at Bath and commissioned in 2002. McCampbell is assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15 and forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. Her skipper is Cmdr. Allison Christy.
On 3 January 1969, the Navy established Light Attack Squadron (VAL) 4, the famed “Black Ponies.”
Prior to its disestablishment on 10 April 1972, the squadron flew OV-10 Broncos on hot-and-heavy close air support missions in the Mekong Delta of South Vietnam supporting not only Navy and Marine forces but also ARVN, South Vietnamese Navy, and U.S. Army detachments as well. It was a wild 40-month ride, all of it in forward-deployed.
Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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, Jan. 2, 2019: Splinter No. 330 of 448
Here we see the mighty 110-foot Submarine Chaser No. 330 of the U.S. Navy en route across the Atlantic, circa September-October 1918, to take the fight to the Kaiser’s unterseeboot threat. The hearty little class, more akin to yachts or trawlers than warships, were hard to kill and gave unsung service by the hundreds, with SC-330 one of the longer-lasting of the species.
In an effort to flood the Atlantic with sub-busting craft and assure the U-boat scourge was driven from the sea, the 110-foot subchasers were designed by Herreshoff Boat Yard Vice President, the esteemed naval architect Albert Loring Swasey (Commodore of the MIT Yacht Club in 1897) on request of Asst Naval Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1916 and rushed into construction the next year. It was believed the vessels could be rushed out via commercial boat yards at $500K a pop.
Derided as a “splinter fleet” the SCs were built from wood (the most excellent Subchaser Archives says “Frame/floors: white oak. Planking: yellow pine. Deck planking: Oregon pine”), which, when powered by a trio of Standard 220-hp 6-cylinder gasoline (!) engines, a 24~ man crew could get the narrow-beamed vessel underway at a (designed) top speed of 18 knots, which was fast enough for U-boat work at the time.
Armed with a 3″/23cal low-angle pop gun forward– which was still capable of punching a hole in a submarine’s sail or pressure hull out to 8,000 yards– a couple of M1895 Colt/Marlin or Lewis light machine guns for peppering periscopes, and assorted depth charges (both racks and projectors), they were dangerous enough for government work.
For finding their quarry, they were equipped with hydrophones produced by the Submarine Signal Company of Boston (which today is Raytheon), of the C-tube and K-tube variety.
As noted by no less authority than Admiral William S. Sims in a 1920 article reprinted in All Hands in 1954:
“The C-tube consisted of a lead pipe-practically the same as a water pipe which was dropped over the side of the ship fifteen or
twenty feet into the sea; this pipe contained the wires which, at one end, were attached to the devices under the water, and which, at the other end, reached the listener’s ears.”
When a cavitation submarine was near it “showed signs of lively agitation. It trembled violently and made a constantly increasing hullabaloo in the ears of the listener.”
Besides escorting coastal convoys (subchasers had short legs) and watching for surfaced boats, 3-packs of the hardy little vessels would drift and listen, their K-tubes and C-tubes in the water, depth charges at the ready.
The three little vessels, therefore, drifted abreast-at a distance of a mile or two apart-their propellers hardly moving, and the decks as silent as the grave; they formed a new kind of fishing expedition, the officers and crews constantly held taut by the expectation of a “bite.” The middle chaser of the three was the flagship and her most interesting feature was the so-called plotting room. Here one officer received constant telephone reports from all three boats, giving the nature of the sounds, and, more important still, their directions. He transferred these records to a chart as soon as they came in, rapidly made calculations, and in a few seconds, he was able to give the location of the submarine. This process was known as “obtaining a fix.”
The first of the class, SC-1, was built at Naval Station New Orleans and commissioned in October 1917. Others were built at Mare Island, New York (Brooklyn), Charleston, Norfolk and Puget Sound Naval Yards; by Matthews Boat in Ohio, Hodgdon Yacht in Maine, Hiltebrant in Kingston, College Point Boat Works, Mathis Yacht in New Jersey, Barrett SB in Alabama, Great Lake Boat Building Corp in Milwaukee…well, you get the idea…they were built everywhere, some 448 vessels over three years.
Our subject, SC-330, was handcrafted with love by the Burger Boat Co., Manitowoc, Wisconsin— the only such craft built by the yard– and commissioned 8 February 1918. Of note, Burger is still in the yacht biz today.
She cut her teeth with the early submarine hunter-killer group centered around the Paulding-class four-piper destroyer USS Jouett (DD-41) on the East Coast.
Assigned to Division 12 of Submarine Chaser Squadron 4 for service overseas during the Great War, SC-330 headed overseas in September 1918, ending up in the Azores.
Rushed into service, at least 121 of the 110s made it “Over There” before Versailles, including no less than 36 that operated in the Med from the island of Corfu. Not bad for ships that only hit the drawing board in late 1916.
The boat carried two officers, a CPO, five engine rates, three electricians (radiomen), a BM, a QM, 3 hydrophone listeners, a couple of guys in the galley, and 5-7 seamen. Crews were often a mix of trawlermen serving as rates, Ivy League yachtsmen as officers, and raw recruits making up the balance. In many cases, the Chief was the only regular Navy man aboard. Life was primative, with no racks, one head and hammocks strung all-round.
Most crews went from civilian life to getting underway in just a few months. The fact that these craft deploying to Europe did so on their own power– effectively in a war zone as soon as they left brown water on the East Coast– with very little in the way of a shakedown is remarkable.
The ships did what they could and, when used in a littoral, performed admirably. For example, a squadron of 11 of these chasers screened the British-French-Italian naval forces during the Second Battle of Durazzo in Oct. 1918, destroying mines that threatened the bombarding ships and driving off an Austrian submarine trying to attack the Allied fleet.
However, when in open ocean, things could get really real for them.
The 110 foot subchaser was a fine sea boat, but was never designed to withstand the wild Atlantic seas off Ireland. Constant leaks from decks and windows, choking petrol fumes in the officers quarters, and constant seasickness from the rolling motion, were the lot of crews of these craft.
In heavy weather they would be almost awash, with only the pilot house showing above the waves. The depth charge racks were felt to be too heavy and made the vessels prone to taking seas over the stern. Many reports of German submarines from coastwatchers and others were actually subchasers ploughing through heavy seas.
Once the war ended, SC-330 was sent back to the states, served in Gitmo for a time, and was laid up in the Gulf Coast in 1919.
SC-330 caught a reprieve. In the summer of 1920, she was sent up the Mississippi River system and served on semi-active duty through the 1920s and 30s, training Naval Reservists in the Midwest. As such, the little boat and those like her cradled the USNR through the interwar period, and, without such vessels, WWII would have looked a lot different.
Of her 448 sisters, more than 100 were transferred to the French during the war, some to the Coast Guard in the 1920s, and most liquidated by the early 1930s as they grew long in the tooth. Wood vessels with gasoline engines weren’t highly desired by the Navy at the time, after all.
Few of the 110s survived the Depression on Uncle’s inventory and SC-330 was the only one of her 100-ship block (from SC 301-400) to serve in WWII, likely continuing her role as a training ship. As most of her life had been spent in freshwater– usually wintering ashore to keep out of the ice– the likely contributed to her longevity.
Only about a dozen or so 110s were carried on the Naval List during the Second World War. (The other 12 were: SC-64, SC-102, SC-103, SC-185, SC-412, SC-431, SC-432, SC-437, SC-440, SC-449, SC-450, SC-453, one of which was lost and three were retired before the end of the war. In addition, SC-229 and SC-231 were in USCG service as the cutters Boone and Blaze, respectively). Most were in YP or training duties, although some did mount ASW gear to include mousetrap bomb throwers and depth charges, just in case.
SC-330, was one of the last four of her type in service, decommissioning and struck from the Navy Register 22 June 1945, then transferred to the War Shipping Administration on 8 October 1946. (The only longer-lasting 110s were: SC-431 transferred to WSA on 12/9/46, SC-437 on 3/21/47, and SC-102 on 1/3/47).
While these craft are all largely gone for good, extensive plans remain of the vessels in the National Archives.
Displacement: 85 tons full load, 77 tons normal load
Length: 110 ft oa (105 ft pp)
Beam: 14 ft 9 in
Draft: 5 ft 7 in
Propulsion: Three 220 bhp Standard gasoline engines (!) as built, replaced by Hall & Scott engines in 1920.
Speed: 18 kn as designed, 16 or less in practice
Range: 880 nmi at 10 kn with 2,400 gallons fuel
Complement: Two officers, 22-25 enlisted
Sonar-like objects: One Submarine Signal Company C-Tube, M.B. Tube, or K Tube hydrophone
1 × 3 in (76 mm)/23-caliber low-angle gun mount, fwd (2 designed, only one mounted in favor of Y-gun aft)
2 × Colt/Marlin M1895 .30-06 caliber machine guns (some seen with Lewis guns)
1 × Y-gun depth charge projector, depth charge racks
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!