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Warship Wednesday, May 24, 2017: The leopard of rum row turned magic-eyed U-boat buster

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, May 24, 2017: The leopard of rum row turned magic-eyed U-boat buster

Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1972. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 76377

Here we see the Clemson-class “four-piper” flush-decker destroyer USS Hunt (DD-194) at anchor in New York Harbor when new, circa 1920. One of a tremendous class of vessels some 156-strong, she had a long and varied career.

An expansion of the Wickes-class destroyers with a third more fuel capacity to enable them to escort a convoy across the Atlantic without refueling, the Clemsons were needed to combat the pressing German submarine threat of the Great War. At 1,200-tons and with a top speed of 35 knots, they were brisk. Another thing they were was built too late for the war.

The hero of our story, USS Hunt, was laid down at Newport News 10 weeks before Armistice Day, named in honor of William Henry Hunt, Secretary of the Navy under President Garfield. Peace delayed her completion until 30 September 1920 when the above image was taken.

After shakedown, Hunt participated in training and readiness exercises with the Atlantic Fleet and conducted torpedo trials on the range out of Newport, R.I. before moving to Charleston.

With the looming idea of naval limitations treaties, the USN rapidly scrapped 40 of their new Clemsons (those built with British style Yarrow boilers) and put whole squadrons of these low mileage vessels in ordinary. One, USS Moody (DD-277) was even sold to MGM for making the film “Hell Below” where she was used as German destroyer and blown up during filming!

Our Hunt decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard 11 August 1922, with only 23 months of gentle Naval service under her belt.

While the Hunt was sitting in Philly, a funny thing happened. The country got sober. Well, kind of.

As deftly retold in a paper by the USCG Historians Office, the service, then part of the Treasury Department, was hard-pressed to chase down fast bootlegging boats shagging out to “Rum Row” where British and Canadian merchants rested in safe water on the 3-mile limit loaded with cases of good whiskey and rum for sale.

This led the agency to borrow 31 relatively new destroyers from the Navy, an act that would have been akin to the USN transferring most of the FFG7 frigates to the Coast Guard during the “cocaine cowboy” days of the 1980s.

USCGD Ammen (CG-8) in pursuit of a rumrunner

U.S. Coast Guard destroyers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 1926, note the “CG” hull numbers

From the USCG Historian:

In the end, the rehabilitation of the vessels became a saga in itself because of the exceedingly poor condition of many of these war-weary ships. In many instances, it took nearly a year to bring the vessels up to seaworthiness. Additionally, these were by far the largest and most sophisticated vessels ever operated by the service and trained personnel were nearly nonexistent. As a result, Congress authorized hundreds of new enlistees. It was these inexperienced men that made up the destroyer crews and contributed to the service’s greatest growth prior to World War II.

A total of 31 destroyers served with the Coast Guard’s Destroyer Force. These included three different classes, the 742-ton “flivver-class,” “1,000-ton class”, and the 1,190-ton “Clemson-class” flush-deckers. Capable of over 25 knots, the destroyers had an advantage in chasing large rumrunners. They were, however, easily outmaneuvered by smaller vessels. The destroyers’ mission, therefore, was to picket the larger supply ships (“mother ships”) and prevent them from off-loading their cargo onto smaller, speedier contact boats that ran the liquor into shore.

Hunt was one of the last tin cans loaned to the service.

She only served three years with the Coasties, transferring 5 Feb 1931 and placed in commission at Philadelphia Navy Yard, then deploying to Stapleton, NY where she became the flag for the Special Patrol Force there.

Coast Guard Historian’s office

While chasing down rum boats along the New York coastline, she apparently had a very serious mascot:

On 6 Jan 1933, she was transferred to Division II, Coast Guard Destroyer Force, and, along with other Treasury Department-loaned tin cans, supported the Navy on the Cuban Expedition based out of Key West for several months as the country watched how the troubles down there were going on.

Hunt arrived back at Stapleton 9 November 1933 and, with the Volstead Act repealed, was decommissioned from USCG service 28 May 1934 and returned to the Navy, who promptly sent her back to red lead row.

There she sat once more until the country needed her.

On 26 January 1940, she once again was taken out of mothballs and brought to life by a fresh crew as the Navy needed ships for the new neutrality patrol in the initial stages of WWII. Shipping for the Caribbean, she escorted the USS Searaven (SS-196), a Sargo-class submarine, from the Canal Zone to Florida then performed training tasks in the Chesapeake.

Once again, her service with the Navy was brief.

Hunt got underway from Newport 3 October 1940, and reached Halifax, Nova Scotia two days later, where she took on 103 British sailors and, three days after that, she decommissioned from the U.S. Navy, was struck from the Naval List, and taken up by the Royal Navy as the Town-class destroyer HMS Broadway (H80) as part of the infamous “Destroyers for Bases Agreement” between the two countries.

(For the six-page original 1940 press release, see this page at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Collections)

As noted by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason’s service histories, “Broadway” had not previously been used for any RN ship but did represent both a city in the UK and one in the U.S.

Changes to her by the Brits included removal of mainmast and shortening of the foremast, trimming the after funnels and replacing the 3in and 4in guns mounted aft with a 12pdr British HA gun in X position. The aft torpedo tubes were also jettisoned and the U.S style depth charges were replaced with British ones.

THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC 1939-1945 (A 8291) British Forces: HMS BROADWAY, a destroyer built in 1918. BROADWAY was one of the fifty American destroyers loaned to Britain in September 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125169

She also picked up an “Evil Eye” or “Magic Eye” on her bow, painted by her crew to ward off bad spirits.

The huge ‘Magic Eye’ on the bows of the BROADWAY as she leaves on another trip. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205152830

Joining 11th Escort Group, she had an eventful career in the Atlantic, joining in no less than 29 convoys between and 10 December 1940 and 21 June 1943– a span of just 18 months!

During this time, she directly helped shorten the war on 9 May 1941 when assisting the destroyer HMS Bulldog and corvette HMS Aubretia, she captured German submarine U-110 between Iceland and Greenland. The Type IXB U-boat provided several secret cipher documents to the British as part of Operation Primrose and was one of the biggest intel coups of the war, helping to break the German Enigma codes.

She also helped chalk up a second German torpedo slinger when on 12 May 1943 she joined frigate HMS Lagan and aircraft from escort carrier HMS Biter in destroying U-89 off the Azores.

SUB LIEUT ROY A GENTLES, RCNVR, OFFICER ON LOAN TO THE ROYAL NAVY, WHO WAS FIRST LIEUTENANT ON BOARD HMS BROADWAY IN THE SUCCESSFUL ANTI-U-BOAT ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC.  (A 17288) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205150178

Hunt/Broadway, showing her age, was relegated to training duties by 1944 in Scotland, where she was a target ship for non-destructive bombing and practice strafing runs by new pilots. For this much of her armament to include her radar, anti-submarine mortar, torpedo tubes, and HF D/F outfit was removed.

The destroyer HMS Broadway off the East coast of Scotland April 1944 after becoming an Air Target Ship (Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120270

She did get one last hurrah in at the end of the war, sailing for Norwegian waters where she performed occupation duties that included taking charge of several surrendered German U-boats in Narvik and Tromso as part of Operation Deadlight.

Hunt/Broadway, who served more in the Royal Navy than she ever did in the naval service of her homeland, was paid off 9 August 1945 and placed in an unmaintained reserve status. She was eventually sold to BISCO on 18th February 1947 for demolition by Metal Industries and towed to the breaker’s yard in Charlestown near Rosyth in 1948.

As for her sisters, seven Clemson‘s were lost at the disaster at Honda Point in 1923, 18 (including six used by the British) were lost in WWII including one, USS Stewart (DD-224), which was famously raised by the Japanese and used in their Navy.

From what I can tell the last one in U.S. Navy service was USS Semmes (DD-189/AG-24), like Hunt a former Coast Guard destroyer, stricken in November 1946 after spending the war testing experimental equipment at the Sonar School in New London.

The last of the 156 Clemsons still afloat, USS Welborn C. Wood (DD-195), also a former Coast Guard destroyer, became HMS Chesterfield on 9 September 1940. She was allocated for scrapping on 3 December 1948. None of the class were retained and few relics of them exist today.

However, the codebooks and Enigma machine that Hunt/Broadway helped capture from U-110 are on display at Bletchley Park.

And the event is recorded in maritime art.

The Capture of U-110 by the Royal Navy, 9 May 1941 (2002) by K W Radcliffe via the Merseyside Maritime Museum

Specs:

Displacement:
1,215 tons (normal)
1,308 tons (full load)
Length:     314 ft. 4.5 in
Beam:     30 ft. 11.5 in
Draft:     9 ft. 4 in
Propulsion:
4 × boilers, 300 psi (2,100 kPa) saturated steam
2 geared steam turbines
27,600 hp (20,600 kW)
2 shafts
Speed:     35.5 knots (65.7 km/h)
Range:  4,900 nmi (9,100 km) @ 15 kn (28 km/h)
Crew: (USN as commissioned)
8 officers
8 chief petty officers
106 enlisted
Armament:
(1919)
5-4″/50 guns
12 × 21 inch torpedo tubes (4 × 3) (533 mm)

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Meet AC-40, the cutest little Russki sub

The Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation last week posted images of the Pacific fleet submarine rescue unit at work.


As noted by my friend HI Sutton over at Covert Shores, “They show a Project 18270 BESTER rescue submersible (DSRV – Deep Sea Rescue Vehicle) deploying from the rescue ship Igor Belousov. Also shown is a British-built Saab SeaEye Tiger ROV (Remotely Operated Vehicle). The same ship and BESTER DSRV AC-40 was tested in the Baltic in 2015.”

The Russians have two Besters, Northern Fleet based AC-38 and AC-40, and the 40-foot/39-ton rescue subs have a limited endurance and can pick up 16-18 submariners on each trip. They are not built for combat, and are capable of poking around at just 3 knots– but they can ascend/descend at about 60 feet per second once they get going.

30 Years ago today: Tea party at the pole

Here we see the famous photo of the first U.S./British coordinated surfacing at the North Pole, 18 May 1987, with three nuclear-powered hunter killer fleet submarines chilling in the Arctic.

Photo via WUWT

The ships are, left to right: the Swiftsure-class HMS Superb (S-109), and the Sturgeon-class submarines USS Billfish (SSN-676), USS Sea Devil (SSN-664).

-Superb paid off 26 September 2008 after service in the Falklands (kinda) and Afghanistan.
-Billfish was decommissioned on 1 July 1999 and recycled by 2000.
-Sea Devil was decommissioned on 16 October 1991 and recycled by 1999.

While the Sturgeons have been turned to razor blades, some of their parts are on display such as the 22 fairwater planes located at Magnuson Park at Sand Point in Seattle and 11 emplaced (along with 11 Soviet fins) at Miami’s Pelican Harbor Park, North Bay Villages:


Notably, the Miami installation includes fins from both of the Sturgeon’s that surfaced for our tea party!

Seattle fin pod: Seahorse SSN-669,  Simon Bolivar SSBN-641, Puffer SSN-652, Gato SSN-615, John Adams SSBN-620, Plunger SSN-595, Whale SSN-638, Bergall SSN-667, Flying Fish SSN-673, Tullibee SSN-594, Pargo SSN-650, and Gurnard SSN-662.

Miami fin pod: Sea Devil SSN-664, Pogy SSN-647, Sand Lance SSN-660, Pintado SSN-672, Trepang SSN-674, Billfish SSN-676, Archerfish SSN-678, Tunny SSN-682, Von Steuben SSBN-632, Sculpin SSN-590, Cavalla SSN-684.

There is also the intact sail of the Sturgeon herself (SSN-637) at the U.S. Naval Undersea Museum at Keyport, Washington.

‘Low-mileage’ U-boat free to good home in Washington

Apparently, there were several (at least three) very nice scale models made of U.S. S-class submarines and German Type VII U-boats produced for the forgettable Matthew McConaughey, Bill Paxton, Harvey Keitel U-571 flick made in 2000.

Lot of plot holes in that movie…

We have one at the Maritime & Seafood Industry Museum in Biloxi that is about 40 feet long and has since been made up to mimic U-166, which is sunk about 50 miles south of there as the crow flies. It used to be RC and capable of floating. I call it Model #1.

The Biloxi-based model. An image I took in 2008. It was recently refirbed by local volunteer Seebees and submarine vets

A very near to scale floating set is still in Grand Harbor, Malta (Google Earth N 35 52’46.00/ E 14 29’49.92). I call it Model #2.

Formerly used as the USS S-33 in the film U-571, she has since been used at least twice since then as U.S. and Brit boats

At least two TV movies, one in 2001 about the USS Sailfish, and another “Ghostboat” a 2006 British horror film about a lost HM submarine popping back up sans crew have been made using U-571‘s models and sets.

Well, a guy in Granite Falls, just outside of Seattle is trying to give away (!) a 40-foot model from U-571 that actually submerges (!) for free (!). I call it, Model #3.

From the listing:

This is a 1/5th scale Type VIIc German WWII U-boat model Submarine. It is a movie effects miniature from the movie U-571. It was made as a functioning model with working ballast tanks so it could really dive and surface. It is approx 40 feet long and weighs several tons.

The outer skin is fiberglass and inside it has a metal frame and tanks for compressed air and ballast. What you see in the pictures is everything I have for it. there is no conning tower or deck plates etc.

It is mounted on a metal frame that has wheels but has sat for so long it has sank into the dirt a bit. It’s going to take a fair effort to get it rolling and move it so make sure you are prepared for that.

With a little dressing up it could be a great business promo or just cool yard art. I would hate to see it go to scrap.

I am offering it for free but I do expect that it be picked up immediately and professionally.

Sadly no conning tower

The interesting part of this rig is that is submerges– note the ballast tanks

Now that’s not something you see every day

I emailed the Naval Undersea Museum in Washington to make them aware this is out there, so maybe it will get put on public display sometime soon. It’s a shame to let it go to waste.

CIA SKIFF Semi-Submersible

This mysterious little midget was photographed in the CIA Museum in McLean, Virginia in 2011.

cia-semi-submersible-skiff-3 cia-semi-submersible-skiff-1 cia-semi-submersible-skiff-2

From the official description:

CIA designed and manufactured this two-man semi-submersible in the 1950s. It carried no weapons, was cramped, had limited endurance, and required a “mother ship” for transport and recovery. However, the vessel could approach areas ships could not.

Then there is the rest of the story.

Codenamed the SKIFF, the craft could be towed to a location and cached at a depth of up to 30 feet below the surface if needed.

Designed in the tail-end of WWII as part of the OSS’s Project NAPKO, these craft were to be used to deposit specially trained Korean Americans and Korean prisoners of war for infiltration into Japanese-occupied Korea, and ultimately into Japan itself. Their mission was to collect intelligence and conduct sabotage in advance of Operation Olympic, the planned US invasion of the Japanese home islands in November 1945.

Half the 2-3 man teams would be landed via nylon boat from fleet submarines coming danger close while the other half would infiltrate via our trusty little submarines towed within 30-40 miles of shore. The little semi-submersibles could be cached just offshore on the seabed and used by (surviving) agents to exfiltrate back to sea.

As noted in a great 11-page article from Studies in Intelligence, the agents would go local:

“Typical of NAPKO missions, the teams were to carry minimal equipment and supplies: 100,000 yen, a radio, appropriate clothing for passing as locals, and a Japanese-manufactured shovel for burying the team’s equipment after landing.”

The boats, built by John Trumpy and Sons of Camden, New Jersey, were termed “Gizmos” and never used, though the Navy did keep them around for awhile, one even lasting long enough to be put on display at the USS Massachusetts in Fall River, incorrectly labeled as a Japanese suicide submarine for years.

In 1953, the CIA thought the concept valid enough to commission two more from Trumpy, codename SKIFFs.

“SKIFF also appears to have come close to operational use, but at least two missions for which it was deployed were canceled.”

Some 19-feet long, the craft drew 2’8″ when buoyant and could ride almost four feet low when semi-submerged, leaving just a foot or so of the low-profile hull above surface. Powered by a 25hp “Atomic Four” gasoline engine with 30-gal tank, the craft could putter along at 5-knots when buoyant or 4.1-kts semisubmerged with a combat radius of 110 nm. The craft weighed 3,650-pound sans crew. Without removing the slabs of ballast, the maximum cargo carried including crew was 608-pounds (exclusive of the weight of two submachine guns). If the ballast was scuttled this could be boosted about another 100 pounds.

The 49-page declassified manual is here. Enjoy!

Pakistan pops off their first submarine launched nuclear-capable missile

PNS/M Hamza (S139) – built in Pakistan, commissioned 14 August 2006. She is a a modernized and long–range air-independent powered Agosta–90B class submarine designed and developed through a joint venture between the French DCNS and Pakistan's KSEW Ltd

PNS/M Hamza (S139) – built in Pakistan, commissioned 14 August 2006. She is a a modernized and long–range air-independent powered Agosta–90B class submarine designed and developed through a joint venture between the French DCNS and Pakistan’s KSEW Ltd

In the latest case of keeping up with the Indians– who launched their first nuclear-capable, submarine-launched missile in 2008, Pakistan did the same last week by launching a home-grown SLCM roughly comparable to the early variants of the Tomahawk.

Reuters 

The Pakistani military said the Babur-3 missile was “capable of delivering various types of payloads and will provide Pakistan with a Credible Second Strike Capability, augmenting deterrence”.

An army spokesman later confirmed the language meant the missile was equipped to carry nuclear warheads.

The Babur-3 is a sea-based variant of the ground-launched Babur-2 missile, which was tested in December. The military said the missile had features such as “underwater controlled propulsion and advanced guidance and navigation”

The Submarine Command of the Pakistani Navy have five French Agosta-class diesel submarines, including three built locally to an AIP design. Further, they have eight 2,300-ton Hangor-class boats they are building in conjunction with China.

It is believed one of the AIP Agostas, PNS/M Khalid (S137), fired the Babur-3, which is thought to have a 200~ mile range.

Warship Wednesday (on a Thursday!): The dazzling President of the Royal Navy

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 (on a Thursday!): The dazzling President of the Royal Navy

IWM SP 1650

IWM SP 1650

Here we see a “warship-Q” of the World War I Royal Navy, the Flower/Anchusa-class sloop HMS Saxifrage masquerading as a seemingly innocent British merchantman in dazzle camouflage, circa 1918. Should one of the Kaiser’s U-boats come close enough to get a good look, two matching sets of QF 4.7 inch and 12-pounder guns would plaster the poor bugger, sucker punch style.

With Kaiser Willy’s unterseeboot armada strangling the British Isles in the Great War, the RN needed a set of convoy escorts that were cheap to make and could relieve regular warships for duty with the fleet.

This led to a class of some 120 supped-up freighters which, when given a triple hull to allow them to soak up mines and torpedoes and equipped with a battery of 4 or 4.7-inch main guns and 3 or 12 pounder secondaries augmented with depth charges, could bust a submarine when needed. Just 1,200-tons and 267-feet overall, they could blend in with the rest of the “merchies” in which they were charged with protecting. Classified as sloops of war, they could make 17 knots with both boilers glowing, making them fast enough to keep up.

Built to merchant specs, they could be made in a variety of commercial yards very quickly, and were all named after various flowers, which brought them the class nickname of “cabbage boats.” Ordered under the Emergency War Programme for the Royal Navy, class leader HMS Acacia ordered in January 1915 and delivered just five months later.

The hero of our story, HMS Saxifrage, was named after a pretty little perennial plant also known as a rockfoil or London Pride.

saxifrage

Laid down by Lobnitz & Co Limited, Renfrew, Scotland, who specialized in dredges, trawlers and tugs and endures as a marine engineering company, she was completed 29 January 1918 as a Q-ship– a job that the last 40 of her class were designed to perform.

The concept, the Q-ship (their codename referred to the vessels’ homeport, Queenstown, in Ireland) was to have a lone merchantman plod along until a German U-boat approached, and, due to the small size of the prize, sent over a demo team to blow her bottom out or assembled her deck gun crew to poke holes in her waterline. At that point, the “merchantman” which was actually a warship equipped with a few deck guns hidden behind fake bulkheads and filled with “unsinkable” cargo such as pine boards to help keep her afloat if holed, would smoke said U-boat.

In all the Brits used 366 Q-ships, of which 61 were lost in action while they only took down 14 U-boats, a rather unsuccessful showing. One storied slayer, Mary B Mitchell, claimed 2-3 U-boats sunk and her crew was even granted the DSO, but post-war analysis quashed her record back down to zero.

As for Saxifrage, commissioned with just nine months and change left in the war, did not see a lot of hot action, escorting convoys around British waters. While she reported nine U-boat contacts, she was never able to bag one.

Soon after the Great War ended, the Flower-class vessels were liquidated, with 18 being lost during the conflict (as well as Gentian and Myrtle lost in the Baltic to mines in 1919). The Royal Navy underwent a great constriction inside of a year. At the date of the Armistice, the fleet enumerated 415,162 officers and men. By the following November, 162,000, a figure less than when the war began in 1914, though the Empire had grown significantly after picking up a number of German and Ottoman colonies.

Saxifrage was one of the few ships of her class retained.

THE ROYAL NAVY IN BRITAIN, 1919-1939 (Q 20478) Cadets of HMS PRESIDENT cheering the boats as they pass down the Thames in the naval pageant, 4th August 1919. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205261231

THE ROYAL NAVY IN BRITAIN, 1919-1939 (Q 20478) Cadets of HMS PRESIDENT cheering the boats as they pass down the Thames in the naval pageant, 4th August 1919. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205261231

Her engines removed, she was tapped to become the training establishment HMS President (replacing the former HMS Buzzard, a Nymphe-class composite screw sloop, shown above) when her sistership Marjoram, originally intended for that task, was wrecked in January 1921 off Flintstone Head while en route to fit out at Hawlbowline.

Moored on the River Thames, Saxifrage by 1922 became used as a drill ship by Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Alterations to her physical fabric included fitting square windows on the lower decks and adding a top deck for parade, drilling, and small arms gunnery practice. After her change of use to a training vessel, she boasted four decks, with internal spaces including the Captain’s Quarters, Drill Hall and adjacent Gunroom, Quarter Deck and Ward Room.

HMS President moored on the Thames at high tide in 1929. Photograph Planet News Archive.

HMS President moored on the Thames at high tide in 1929. Photograph Planet News Archive.

By the time WWII came, just a handful of Flower-class sloops remained afloat.

HMS Laburnum, like her a RNVR drill ship, was lost to the Japanese at Singapore then later raised and scrapped.

HMS Cornflower, a drill ship at Hong Kong, suffered a similar fate.

HMS Chrysanthemum, used as a target-towing vessel in Home Waters, was transferred to the RNVR 1938 and stationed on the Embankment in London next to President where she would remain until scrapped in 1995.

HMS Foxglove served on China station and returned to Britain, later becoming a guard ship at Londonderry in Northern Ireland before being scrapped in 1946.

Ex-HMS Buttercup, ironically serving in the Italian Navy as Teseo, was sunk at Trapani 11 April 1943.

Two of the class, ex- HMS Jonquil and ex- HMS Gladiolus, remained in service in the Portuguese Navy classified as the cruisers (!) Carvalho Araújo and Republic, respectively, until as late as 1961.

Saxifrage/President continued her role as a stationary training ship. One of President‘s main roles during the war was to train men of the Maritime Royal Artillery, soldiers sent to sea and serve with naval ratings as gunners on board defensively equipped merchant ships (DEMS).

Learning the ropes. Two of the members of the Maritime Royal Artillery study the information board describing how to form bends and hitches. IWM A 16786. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149661

Learning the ropes. Two of the members of the Maritime Royal Artillery study the information board describing how to form bends and hitches. IWM A 16786. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149661

Britain's sea soldiers in training. Men of the Maritime Royal Artillery are now being given elementary training in seamanship at HMS PRESIDENT, the DEMS base on the Thames. Here a number of men are being initiated into the mysteries of "Bends and Hitches" (knots) by Leading Seaman W J Bateman, Enfield, Middlesex. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149660

Britain’s sea soldiers in training. Men of the Maritime Royal Artillery are now being given elementary training in seamanship at HMS PRESIDENT, the DEMS base on the Thames. Here a number of men are being initiated into the mysteries of “Bends and Hitches” (knots) by Leading Seaman W J Bateman, Enfield, Middlesex. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149660

"Boat pulling" part of their elementary training. Many of the Maritime Royal Artillery have been torpedoed and have had to take to open boats. Training in the whaler makes them useful members of a boat's crew. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149662

“Boat pulling” part of their elementary training. Many of the Maritime Royal Artillery have been torpedoed and have had to take to open boats. Training in the whaler makes them useful members of a boat’s crew. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149662

Moored in the Thames, President was also popular in hosting events and visitors.

THE DUCHESS OF KENT VISITS HMS PRESIDENT. 15 MARCH 1943, WEARING THE UNIFORM OF COMMANDANT OF THE WRNS, THE DUCHESS OF KENT PAID AN INFORMAL VISIT TO HMS PRESIDENT. (A 15047) On extreme left is Captain R D Binney, CBE, RN, The Duchess of Kent, Admiral Sir Martin R Dunbar Nasmith, and Commander H C C Clarke, DSO, RN. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148173

THE DUCHESS OF KENT VISITS HMS PRESIDENT. 15 MARCH 1943, WEARING THE UNIFORM OF COMMANDANT OF THE WRNS, THE DUCHESS OF KENT PAID AN INFORMAL VISIT TO HMS PRESIDENT. (A 15047) On extreme left is Captain R D Binney, CBE, RN, The Duchess of Kent, Admiral Sir Martin R Dunbar Nasmith, and Commander H C C Clarke, DSO, RN. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148173

ADMIRAL'S FAREWELL DINNER TO ADMIRAL STARK AT GREENWICH. 13 AUGUST 1945, ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE, GREENWICH, DURING THE FAREWELL DINNER TO ADMIRAL H R STARK, USN, BY THE BOARD OF ADMIRALTY. (A 30003) Saluting HMS PRESIDENT en route to Greenwich, left to right: Mr A V Alexander; Admiral Stark; and Rear Admiral C B Barry, DSO, Naval Secretary. Other members of the party including Mr G H Hall can also be seen. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205161196

ADMIRAL’S FAREWELL DINNER TO ADMIRAL STARK AT GREENWICH. 13 AUGUST 1945, ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE, GREENWICH, DURING THE FAREWELL DINNER TO ADMIRAL H R STARK, USN, BY THE BOARD OF ADMIRALTY. (A 30003) Saluting HMS PRESIDENT en route to Greenwich, left to right: Mr A V Alexander; Admiral Stark; and Rear Admiral C B Barry, DSO, Naval Secretary. Other members of the party including Mr G H Hall can also be seen. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205161196

After the war, President was the last of her class in British service and reverted to her role as HQ of the RNVR London Division, which she held until 1987, remaining the whole time at her traditional mooring next to Blackfriars Bridge.

The name HMS President is retained as a “stone frigate” or shore establishment of the Royal Naval Reserve, based on the northern bank of the River Thames near Tower Bridge in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

In 1987, the old girl was donated to the HMS President (London) Limited non-profit who has extensively refitted her for use in hosting private parties, weddings, receptions, etc. while somewhat restoring her appearance.

img_9058 meeting_spaces_london-1024x617 m-president-24-1024x682

In 2014, as part of the First World War commemorations, her hull was covered once more in a distinctive ‘dazzle’ design, courtesy of artist Tobias Rehberger.

hms-president-jan-2015-s

Today President is on the National Register of Historic Vessels, is the last Q-ship, last of her class and last RN ship to have fought as an anti-submarine vessel in the Great War.

She is nothing if not historic.

However, due to the upcoming construction of the Thames Tideway Tunnel to tackle sewage discharges into the River Thames, President had to leave Blackfriars Bridge this February.

© Rob Powell. 11/02/2016. HMS President has arrived in Chatham after leaving the Victoria Embankment last week. The historic vessel in a Dazzleship livery left her moorings on the Thames on the 5th February because of work taking place on the Thames Tideway sewage tunnel. Her journey down the river was initially held because of bad conditions as she moored at Erith until setting off again today. The vessel was tasked with finding U Baots in WW1 and has been moored on the Thames since 1922 where she has fulfilled a number of roles including protecting St Paul's during WWII and more recently as an events space. Credit : Rob Powell

© Rob Powell. 11/02/2016. HMS President has arrived in Chatham after leaving the Victoria Embankment last week. The historic vessel in a Dazzleship livery left her moorings on the Thames on the 5th February because of work taking place on the Thames Tideway sewage tunnel. Her journey down the river was initially held because of bad conditions as she moored at Erith until setting off again today. The vessel was tasked with finding U Baots in WW1 and has been moored on the Thames since 1922 where she has fulfilled a number of roles including protecting St Paul’s during WWII and more recently as an events space. Credit : Rob Powell

Her funnel and deckhouse was removed for the tow downriver and she is in limbo, with the current management team trying to raise money to secure a new mooring along the Thames but without much luck.

From the group’s website:

The HMS President, one of the UK’s last remaining WWI ships, has been unsuccessful in its bid to secure Libor funding in today’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor.

The funding bid that had seen support in national newspapers and a parliamentary motion, with more than 20 signatories, has failed to secure vital restoration funding – this could now see the country’s last remaining submarine hunter of the Atlantic campaign scrapped.

Paul Williams, Director of the HMS President Preservation Trust, said; “The lack of recognition for this worthy cause if hugely disappointing. The HMS President Preservation Trust, and our friends in Parliament and elsewhere, has been working extremely hard to secure the future of this wonderful war heritage site.

“Her hull is only a few millimetres thick now in some places. Therefore, if restoration funding is not found soon she will be consigned to the scrap heap – as her sister ship the HMS Chrysanthemum was in 1995. As we mark the centenary commemorations of WWI it seems an absolute travesty that we will potentially be saying goodbye to one of only three remaining warships from that era. What a loss to our heritage that will be.”

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph MPs and Peers, including the Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Boyce, and Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, Dr Julian Lewis MP, had called for the ship to be rescued. The parliamentarians had urged the Chancellor to look favourably on the bid, or risk losing her forever, stating “This would be an irreplaceable loss to our war heritage, and a sorry way to mark the country’s First World War centenary commemorations.”

Hopefully she will be saved, as she is literally one of a kind.

Other that, she is preserved in maritime art.

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Specs:

Dazzle Painted Ship Model Sloop Saxifrage/Tamarisk 203 & 204 (MOD 2250) Small dazzle ship model. It is hand-painted blue and black on a white background. The number 203 is inscribed on a piece of paper and attached to the mast on the model. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30019301

Dazzle Painted Ship Model Sloop Saxifrage/Tamarisk 203 & 204 (MOD 2250) Small dazzle ship model. It is hand-painted blue and black on a white background. The number 203 is inscribed on a piece of paper and attached to the mast on the model. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30019301

1,290 long tons (1,311 t)
Length:
250 ft. (76.2 m) p/p
262 ft. 3 in (79.93 m) o/a
Beam:     35 ft. (10.7 m)
Draught:
11 ft. 6 in (3.51 m) mean
12 ft. 6 in (3.81 m) – 13 ft. 8 in (4.17 m) deep
Propulsion:     4-cylinder triple expansion engine, 2 boilers, 2,500 hp (1,864 kW), 1 screw
Speed:     16 knots (29.6 km/h; 18.4 mph)
Range:     Coal: 260 tons
Complement: 93
Armament:
Designed to mount :
2 × 12-pounder gun
1 × 7.5 inch howitzer or 1 × 200 lb. stick-bomb howitzer
4 × Depth charge throwers
As built:
2 × 4 in (102 mm) guns
1 or 2 × 12-pounder guns
Depth charge throwers

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