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Old warships die, but their pieces live on

With the recent decision by the Navy to dispose of the ex-USS Charles F. Adams (DDG-2) rather than donate it for preservation, the calls went out for other military museum ships to come get what they could carry for use in their on-going efforts. You see, when you visit a museum ship, you are bound to see, touch and tread upon relics from dozens of other historic vessels.

Case in point:

The USS New Jersey battleship museum in Camden “brought back two tripods for .50cal guns, electronics parts, and flooring for the CIC restoration, tools, and equipment to fill in empty racks on the ship, and a bore sight for the 5″ gun, among other odds and ends.”

Fall River, Mass’s USS Joseph P. Kennedy Jr (DD 850) museum, a vessel that shares much with the Adams, made extensive use of the offering:

For use in JPKs restoration, we acquired another torpedo dolly for the ASROC/Torpedo magazine, the ASROC deck guides for the ASROC loader crane, thermometers, valve wheels, and misc engineering parts, casualty power cable, three DC Chart holders for our repair lockers, blackout curtains, key internal parts for our DRT table in CIC, SONAR and ASROC system test sets, dozens of information and safety placards, CPO locker handles, glass globes for the ASROC magazine, a cleaning gear locker, and much more.

To preserve the history of DDG-2, we acquired both her throttle wheels from her After Engine Room, both sides of her Engine Order Telegraph in the Pilot House, information placards from her 5”54 gun systems stamped DDG-2, and some navigation instruments all marked USS Charles F Adams. These items will be saved for use in our future renovated Admiral Burke National Destroyer Memorial and Museum.

In short, Adams will endure.

DDG-2 Charles F Adams, in the Atlantic, 16 November 1978. USN 1173510

Vale, Windsor Davies

Perhaps best known for his epic portrayal of Battery Sergeant Major Williams in the Perry & Croft (they also did Dad’s Army and Allo’ Allo!) WWII sitcom It Ain’t Half Hot Mum, the British actor Windsor Davies has passed at age 88.

Davies, who served in the East Surrey Regiment in the 1950s in Egypt on the lead-up to the Suez Crisis, captured a CSM brilliantly, some would say. Perry & Croft would know, as they served themselves, in India, where It Ain’t Half Hot Mum was set.

For sci-fi nerds, he also appeared in B&W Doctor Who episodes (with the Second Doctor) and voiced Sergeant Major Zero in the Terrahawks.

You can bet that caricatures of Williams/Davies will endure forever.

Sad times on the icebreaking front

While the U.S. Navy ordered a class of 8 heavily-armed polar icebreakers in WWII (the Wind-class, which carried twin 5″/38 DP mounts, 40mm Bofors, 20mm Oerlikons, depth charges, seaplanes and an ASW mortar), as well as the larger single-vessel USS Glacier (AGB-4) by 1955, just a decade later the Navy left the ice biz to the realm of the sparsely-funded Coast Guard.

Since then, all nine of these breakers have been sent to the scrapper, replaced in the 1970s by just two (relatively unarmed) Polar-class icebreakers of which only one was still operational by 2010.

Now 43-years young, the country’s sole polar icebreaker, USCGC Polar Star (WAGB-10), just reached Antarctica on her annual Operation Deep Freeze resupply mission to McMurdo Station– while her crew went unpaid due to the current lapse in funding.

The voyage wasn’t pretty.

U.S. Coast Guard scuba divers work to repair a leak in the shaft seal of the Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star

From the Coast Guard:

During this year’s deployment, one of the ship’s electrical systems began to smoke, causing damage to wiring in an electrical switchboard, and one of the ship’s two evaporators used to make drinkable water failed.

The ship also experienced a leak from the shaft that drives the ship’s propeller, which halted icebreaking operations in order to send scuba divers in the water to repair the seal around the shaft. A hyperbaric chamber on loan from the U.S. Navy aboard the ship allows Coast Guard divers to make external emergency repairs and inspections of the ship’s hull.

The Polar Star also experienced ship-wide power outages while breaking ice. Crew members spent nine hours shutting down the ship’s power plant and rebooting the electrical system in order to remedy the outages.

If a catastrophic event, such as getting stuck in the ice, were to happen to the Healy in the Arctic or to the Polar Star near Antarctica, the U.S. Coast Guard is left without a self-rescue capability.

Yikes.

Can you imagine being a young Coastie E-4 on that ship right now?

In Antarctica?

While your old lady (or man) sends you emails that the light bill is due and check on the 15th was for $0.00?

Politics aside, be sure, if you are able, to contribute to your local efforts to take care of USCG families in your area, and keep those deployed in your thoughts.

Semper Paratus

50 years ago today: The worst morning on the Big E

At 8:19 a.m. on 14 January, a MK32 Zuni rocket loaded on an F-4J Phantom overheated due to the exhaust from a nearby starting vehicle aboard the USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), setting off a chain of events as the carrier was about 70 miles off Hawaii.

The rocket blew up, setting off a series of explosions. Fires broke out across the deck of the ship, and when jet fuel flowed into the carrier’s interior, other fires were sparked.

In all, 27 sailors lost their lives and another 314 were seriously injured. Although 15 aircraft out of the 32 aboard Enterprise at the time were destroyed by the explosions and fire, the Enterprise herself was never threatened.

More here

Kitchener surely would eat his hat

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.

Thus:

In a twist, this fine lad, Scots Guardsman Stephen McWhirter, says his image was used by the Army in the campaign without his knowledge and it has put him right off and he intends to leave the service. So, the campaign has so far had the opposite effect.

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.

“Britons: Lord Kitchener Wants You. Join Your Country’s Army! God save the King.”

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.

Rudd, not on a recruiting poster

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…

Bad day for museum ships

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

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

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

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

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

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

From Jax:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Mattis, departing

Saint Mattis of Quantico, Patron Saint of Chaos, Gen. James Mattis, USMC, (Ret.) has tendered his resignation letter as the 26th United States Secretary of Defense after some 700 days in the barrel. He was the first career military man (42 years on active duty, including command of 1st MARDIV in the Iraq War) since Gen. George Marshall to hold the position since it was established in 1947, and by all accounts a modern warrior poet. Hard to fathom who will replace him.

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