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Bad Day for Old Museum Ships

USCGC Bramble WLB 392, back in her pre-2019 Port Huron days

The retired U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bramble (WLB-392), a WWII-era veteran of the Bikini tests and the historic 1957 voyage through the Northwest Passage left federal service in 2003. She then spent a quiet life as a museum ship in Port Huron, Michigan for years.

Then, in 2018 she was sold to a man who wanted 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.

He even hired a documentary film crew to cover the whole thing with the name “Bramble Reborn” 

The bad part is, Bramble’s new owner ran out of funds, and the ship was seized for debts run up with the Epic Shipyard in Mobile, Alabama and other creditors. She was sold at public auction for $80,000 on Wednesday, her future unknown.

Tragically, the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’soffice had put the ship’s 1944-dated bell in safekeeping when she was decommissioned in 2003 and only returned it to the museum in 2014. Now, it may be gone, along with the vessel, for good.

B-427

The LA Times reports that the former Soviet SSK B-427, which has been part of three different maritime museums since she was decommissioned in 1994 and is currently docked adjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, “is expected to be sold soon to an anonymous buyer, with plans to remove the rusting sub by mid-May. The 48-year-old Russian Foxtrot-class submarine, known as the Scorpion, had hosted paying visitors for 17 years before it fell into such disrepair that it became infested with raccoons and was closed to the public in 2015.”

Oregon relics

Battleship Oregon in the Willamette River in Oregon, 20 April 1941, after she was, ironically, preserved whole as a museum ship since 1925. 

In a (possibly) bright spot, the 20-foot-high smokestacks of the old USS Oregon (Battleship No. 3) have been stored on private property for nearly a decade at the Zidell Yards in South Waterfront. An effort is being made to install them in Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where the Spanish-American War/Great War vessel’s mast has stood since 1956. However, the plan seems to be faltering.

A proposed design for adding the USS Oregon’s smokestacks to its memorial (which currently features just the mast) at Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park. (Courtesy of Oregon Maritime Museum)

Hopefully, they will find a home there. If not, they too could go to the scrapper.

Grayback discovered

USS GRAYBACK (SS-208) data plaque, photographed in 1941. NHHC 19-N-24245

The Lost 52 Project, which aims to find all of the U.S. Navy’s WWII submarines still on Eternal Patrol, this week announced they have discovered the final resting place of USS Grayback (SS-208) near Okinawa.

USS GRAYBACK (SS-208) Photographed in 1941. NH 53771

Grayback, a Tambor-class fleet boat, commissioned on 30 June 1941 and was on her 10th War Patrol in the Pacific when she went missing in February 1944. Earning two Navy Unit Commendations and eight battlestars, she chalked up 63,835 tons in Japanese shipping to include over a dozen marus and the destroyer Numakaze.

Grayback (Cdr. John Anderson Moore) was lost with 80 men.

Via The Lost 52

So far, The Lost 52 Project has accounted for five missing boats since 2010, including USS Grunion (SS-216) off Kiska, USS S-28 (SS-133) off Hawaii, USS S-26 (SS-131) off Panama, and USS R-12 (SS-89) off Key West.

Remember, today is not about saving upto 20% on select merchandise

Division Cemetery, Okinawa, 1945, Photo via Marine Corps Archives

In November 1919, President Wilson proclaimed November 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day with the following words

To us in America, the reflections of Armistice Day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country’s service and with gratitude for the victory, both because of the thing from which it has freed us and because of the opportunity it has given America to show her sympathy with peace and justice in the councils of the nations…

Reverence, 88 years ago today

You almost get a sense of storm clouds on the horizon here in this beautiful image of a “treaty cruiser,” USS Indianapolis (CA-35) at the New York Shipbuilding Corporation, 7 November 1931, her launch day.

Wild Wind: Terrible War Movie

I like plumbing the depths of Amazon Prime’s streaming videos as they have lots of great old war/military movies free to watch online (e.g. King and Country, Star of Africa, The Court-Martial of Billy Mitchell, A Bridge Too Far, The Bridge at Remagen, Catch 22, Pork Chop Hill, Fortress of War, et. al) and if nothing else, I will just have them playing in the background while I am working or doing other things.

However, they also have some unmitigated turds.

One of which is Wild Wind.

Made in the early 1980s, likely to try and riff off of Force 10 from Navarone as it has a very similar feel to it and was made at the same time, it is a Yugoslavian-filmed production that centers on Red Partisans and Nazi-allied Chetniks with a smattering of Allied and Axis toppings. It even has storied 1950s leading man and cowboy actor George Montgomery in what was his final film role.

However, the film is rubbish.

Weak story, bad performances, zero budget for SFX, and utterly filled with tropes. Don’t get me wrong, Tito’s Yugoslavia often rolled out the red carpet (no pun intended) for film crews looking to get that old-fashioned WWII feel– see the aforementioned Force 10 as well as Kelly’s Heroes— but the budget on Wild Wind must have been pocket change and no one bribed the right people.

For an example of just how bad this movie is, look at this screengrab from a “riveting” interrogation scene where the local SS guy is trying to get the secret U.S. OSS spy (chubby white guy with the Ancient Aliens hair) to confess by threatening the life of an innocent while a needlessly busty wench cackles in approval:

Wtf? Also, how about that wardrobe?!

Note that said SS goon gets his Luger, I mean Ruger 22, into play.

Come on, you are telling me there wasn’t a Luger or even a P38 available in Yugoslavia in the 1980s?

The scene looks like something more akin to a lurid cover from a 1960s pulp magazine than anything based on reality.

Pesky Nazis hiding out in South America was a reoccurring theme in 1960/70s pulp, as seen in this cover by Norem

They do manage to cough up a couple scenes of horse-mounted partisans, with Yugo M48 Mausers, but it’s just not enough to save it.

In the end, don’t waste your time. Save yourself!

HMS Urge, found on eternal patrol

HMS Urge, IWM FL 3433

Commissioned 12 December 1940, the British U-class submarine HMS Urge (N 17) served in World War II throughout 1941, seeing extensive action in the Med. Over the course of 20 patrols, she proved a one-submarine wrecking crew to the Italian Navy, sinking the Giussano-class light cruiser Giovanni delle Bande Nere as well as extensively damaging the cruiser Bolzano and battleship Vittorio Veneto.

On 27 April 1942, the 16-month-old Urge left Malta en route to Alexandria but failed to arrive on schedule and was reported overdue on 7 May. Her crew, commanded by LCDR Edward Philip Tomkinson, DSO and Bar, RN, was never heard from again.

Her shield, which had been landed prior to shipping out, is currently on display at The Register Office in Bridgend, Wales. The town, which contributed around £300,000 to the war, had adopted HMS Urge as part of national “Warship Week” in 1941.

HM Submarine Urge was discovered in a search conducted by staff from the University of Malta just off Malta’s Grand Harbour, where she apparently was destroyed on the surface by a mine. In addition to her 32 crewmembers, she had been carrying 11 other naval personnel and a journalist.

More here.

 

Vale, Nine O Nine and those who flew on her

In March 2014, I had to good fortune to take advantage of a leg of the Collings Foundation’s Wings of Freedom Tour and visited a three-aircraft flight that included a Consolidated B-24J Liberator (SN 44-44052, “Witchcraft”) a TP-51C Mustang fighter (42-103293, “Betty Jane”) and a late block 85 Boeing B-17G Flying Fortress (44-83575, painted as 42-31909, “Nine O Nine”).

It was a beautiful day and they were beautiful, and increasingly machines.

The original Nine O Nine survived the great Augsburg raid and 18 roundtrips over Berlin with the 8th Air Force over a 140 mission career in WWII. SN 44-83575, shown above in the more famous Fortress’ colors, was built too late for combat, then served as a rescue aircraft, Atomic instrumentation aircraft, and forest fire bomber until she was restored to her original WWII configuration in the 1980s by the Collings Foundation. (Photo: Chris Eger)

Sadly, yesterday at Connecticut’s Bradley International Airport, Nine O Nine was destroyed in the crash, and seven of the thirteen people on board were killed.

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