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That’s a lot of haze gray muscle on red lead row

Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, October 1995, right as the site closed. As you can tell, it was a popular Inactive Ships location for some real WWII/Cold War heavyweights chilling in the City of Brotherly Love’s mothballs area

Photo via the USS Wisconsin Museum

Note the battleships USS Iowa (BB-61), and USS Wisconsin (BB-64) at the DD wharf to the far left; naval auxiliaries USS Sylvania (AFS-2), USS Milwaukee (AOR-2) and USS Savannah (AOR-4) at Pier 5; the supercarriers USS Forrestal (CV-59) and USS Saratoga (CV-60); at Pier 4; the mini-flattops to the right are the amphibious assault ships USS Iwo Jima (LPH-2) and USS Guadalcanal (LPH-7) at Pier 2. In the back pool is the heavy cruiser USS Des Moines (CA-134) and numerous destroyers and frigates including what looks like at least five Knox-class fast frigates.

Of the above, notably, Wisconsin was the last keel laid for a U.S. completed battleship. She was begun at the same yard on 25 January 1941, meaning her Naval service involving Philadelphia was Alpha and Omega cyclical.

Farewell, Lion: headed to the great razor blade store in the sky (not Port Stanley)

171014-N-VC599-068 NORFOLK (Oct. 14, 2017) Lt. Michael Murmuys carries the last flag flown aboard afloat forward staging base (interim) USS Ponce (AFSB(I) 15) during the ship’s decommissioning ceremony. The ship, commissioned in 1971, was the 12th and last ship in the Austin-class of amphibious transport dock ships. After being forward deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operation for the past five years, the “Proud Lion” returned to her homeport in September for decommissioning and dismantling. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Justin Wolpert/Released)

From the Navy’s presser:

Named for the Puerto Rican city of the same name, Ponce served mostly in the Atlantic Fleet, completing 27 deployments in the North Atlantic, Caribbean, Mediterranean, Indian Ocean and Arabian Gulf.

Originally slated for decommissioning in 2011, the “Proud Lion” was refitted and reclassified, based on the USS Kitty Hawk’s (CV 63) role as an afloat special operation staging base during Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. And, she was outfitted with a joint Navy – Military Sealift Command (MSC) crew.

Forward deployed for the past five years, the crew provided vital support to U.S. and allied forces in the U.S. 5th Fleet and Central Command, primarily during mine countermeasures operations, but also in international maritime command and control roles. In doing so, the crew launched, recovered and sustained multiple aircraft, riverine and other vessels. Their actions led to the ship and its crew being awarded the Combat Action Ribbon.

All points Falklands?

Contrary to some reports that had her going to Argentina, which caused heartburn in London, the 46-year-old Ponce now joins the inactive fleet and will be dismantled.

Why was that such a big deal?

During the 1982 Falklands Islands War, the Argentine Navy used three new 10,000-ton Costa Sur-class light cargo ships and a 7,800-ton LST (ARA Cabo San Antonio) to invade the islands, with the latter transporting a mixed battalion of two Marine companies, an Army infantry unit, and 20 LVTP7 Amtracs in the initial attack and the cargo ships landing follow-on supplies to bolster the division-sized garrison.

However, Cabo San Antonio was retired in 1997, leaving just the three cargo ships.

One of the trio, Bahia San Blas, has been converted since then to something akin to the amphibious cargo ships used in island hopping during WWII, and has carried Argentine Army troops to Haiti and the former Yugoslavia on UN peacekeeping missions.

Bahia San Blas, note the 1940s surplus LCVPs on deck. She carries four, each of which are good for a light platoon. Current British garrison in the Falklands as part of British Forces South Atlantic Islands (BFSAI) is around 1,200

However, while Bahia San Blas can carry a couple hundred sea sick guys in sleeping bags, four LCVP’s on deck (or the Argentine Marine’s aging Amtracs) and containerized cargo, she lacks a drywell for larger landing craft or accommodation for helicopters, meaning she still needs a length of pier to unload and isn’t able to “kick in the door” in a serious amphibious assault with much more than a company-sized force.

Comment on the above from Admiral Lord West, former head of the Royal Navy, and the prospect of the Argies getting Ponce: “At a time when the Argentine government still refuses to accept that UK sovereignty of the Falkland Islands is not up for discussion, I would prefer if our friends such as the United States did not sell them a landing ship capable of launching helicopters and large numbers of troops.”

The Bluejacket in bronze

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (Oct. 10, 2017) The Lone Sailor Statue is pictured at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Visitor Center in Pearl Harbor. The statue will be officially unveiled on Oct. 13. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Corwin M. Colbert/Released)

On the occasion of the 242nd birthday of the U.S. Navy, the Lone Sailor Statue was unveiled in Pearl Harbor.

Remarks from RADM Brian Fort, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific:

Throughout our nation’s history – and in all of our conflicts – Sailors with integrity who were and are bold decision-makers have risen to the challenge in a crisis to win battles, defend freedom and preserve peace.

That is seapower in action, protecting and promoting security, stability and prosperity.

While we tend to reflect on our Navy’s origins on our birthday, we must also think of all the Sailors who have served and who continue to serve. The Lone Sailor also stands for and represents Sailors in the Civil War, World War I, World War II, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan – and all conflicts and actions in our nation’s history.

Now the Lone Sailor statue will look out over Pearl Harbor, standing watch, “seeing” the USS Arizona Memorial, which represents all ships and Sailors lost Dec. 7, 1941, “listening” to the many voices and many languages of international visitors and “remembering” 75 years ago as our military fought to shape our nation and our world – bringing freedom and democracy to Europe and Japan.

Today, our Navy continues to deploy to protect and promote American interests and values around the world. We continue to stand together with our allies against those who would challenge our freedom. And we continue to live by our core values: Honor, Courage and Commitment.

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii – (Oct. 10, 2017) The Lone Sailor Statue at the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument Visitor Center in Pearl Harbor. The statue will be officially unveiled on Oct. 13. (Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Corwin M. Colbert)

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017: I’d like to be back on my horse

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, Oct. 11, 2017: I’d like to be back on my horse

USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen & via Navsource

Here we see the Balao-class diesel-electric fleet submarine USS Tilefish (SS-307) returning to San Diego on 5 December 1958 for inactivation. You may not recognize her in the photo, but she was always ready for her closeup.

A member of the 128-ship Balao class, she was one of the most mature U.S. Navy diesel designs of the World War Two era, constructed with knowledge gained from the earlier Gato-class. U.S. subs, unlike those of many navies of the day, were ‘fleet’ boats, capable of unsupported operations in deep water far from home.

Able to range 11,000 nautical miles on their reliable diesel engines, they could undertake 75-day patrols that could span the immensity of the Pacific. Carrying 24 (often unreliable) Mk14 Torpedoes, these subs often sank anything short of a 5000-ton Maru or warship by surfacing and using their 4-inch/50 caliber and 40mm/20mm AAA’s. The also served as the firetrucks of the fleet, rescuing downed naval aviators from right under the noses of Japanese warships.

We have covered a number of this class before, such as Rocket Mail slinging USS Barbero, the carrier-sinking USS Archerfish, the long-serving USS Catfish and the frogman Cadillac USS Perch —but don’t complain, they have lots of great stories.

Laid down at Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California, on 10 Mar 1943, USS Tilefish was the first and only naval vessel named for homely reef fish found in the world’s oceans.

1916 USBOF sheet on the Tilefish, via NARA

Commissioned just nine months later on 28 Dec 1943, Tilefish completed her trials and shakedown off the California coast and made for the Western Pacific in early 1944.

Broadside view of the Tilefish (SS-307) off Mare Island on 2 March 1944. USN photos # 1434-44 through1436-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker. Via Navsource

Her first war patrol, off Honshu in Japanese home waters, was short and uneventful.

Her second, in the Luzon Strait, netted a torpedo hit on the 745-ton Japanese corvette Kaibokan 17 south of Formosa on 18 July.

Her third patrol, in the Sea of Okhotsk and off the Kuril Islands, resulted in sinking a sampan in a surface action, as well as two small cargo ships, a larger cargo ship and the 108-ton Japanese guard boat Kyowa Maru No.2. Tilefish also picked up a Russian owl in these frigid waters, which was duly named Boris Hootski with the ship’s log noting, “He is now official ship’s mascot and stands battle stations on top of the tube blow and vent manifold.”

She closed the year with her fourth patrol in the Kurils and Japanese home waters with sinking the Japanese torpedo boat Chidori some 90 miles WSW of Yokosuka.

Early 1945 saw her fifth patrol which sank a small Japanese coaster and effectively knocked the IJN minesweeper W 15 out of the war. She also plucked LT (JG) William J. Hooks from the USS Hancock (CV-19) of VF-80 out of the water after he had to ditch his F6F at sea off Amami Oshima in the Ryukyus.

After refit on the West Coast, Tilefish completed her sixth patrol on lifeguard station off the Ryukyus where she ended the war, being ordered back to California on 7 September.

In all, Tilefish received five battle stars for World War II service. Her tally included 7 vessels for a total of 10,700 claimed tons– though many were disallowed post-war by JANAC. Her six patrols averaged 48 days at sea.

While most of the U.S. submarine fleet was mothballed in the months immediately after WWII, Tilefish remained in service. She even managed a sinkex in August 1947 against the crippled Liberty tanker SS Schuyler Colfax, at 7,200-tons, Tilefish‘s largest prize.

Her war flag represented as a patch from Note the 10 vessels claimed and the parachute for Lt. Hooks.

When the Korean War kicked off in 1950, Tilefish made for the region.

As noted by DANFS:

“From 28 September 1950 through 24 March 1951, the submarine operated out of Japanese ports conducting patrols in Korean waters in support of the United Nations campaign in Korea. She made reconnaissance patrols of La Perouse Strait to keep the Commander, Naval Forces Far East, informed of Soviet seaborne activity in that area.”

Tilefish received one battle star for Korean service.

Hula dancers Kuulei Jesse, Gigi White and Dancette Poepoe (left to right) welcome the submarine, as she docks at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base after a Korean War tour. Crewmen placing the flower lei around Tilefish’s bow are Engineman 3rd Class Donald E. Dunlevy, USN, (left – still wearing E-3 stripes) and Torpedoman’s Mate 1st Class Gordon F. Sudduth, USNR. This photograph was released by Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, on 26 March 1951. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the All Hands collection at the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 97068

The next nine years saw her conducting regular peacetime operations and exercises including a goodwill visit to Acapulco; a survey mission with four civilian geophysicists on board from the Hydrographic Office of Eniwetok, Wake, and Midway; and other ops.

USS TILEFISH (SS-307) Caption: Photographed during the 1950s. Description: Courtesy of Commander Donald J. Robinson, USN (MSC), 1974. Catalog #: NH 78988

These “other ops” included filming some scenes for the 1958 Glen Ford WWII submarine flick Torpedo Run, which were extensively augmented by scale models, and more extensive shoots for Up Periscope, a film in which James Garner, a Korean war Army vet and Hollywood cowboy, plays a frogman ordered to photograph a codebook at an isolated Japanese radio station.

The film was an adaption of LCDR Robb White’s book of the same name.

Garner was not impressed by the Tilefish.

James Garner as Lieutenant Kenneth M. Braden in Up Periscope

As related by a Warren Oaks biographer, Garner, bobbing along on the old submarine offshore at 9-kts in groundswells, said, “You know something? I’d like to be back on my horse.”

After her brief movie career and service in two wars, Tilefish was given a rebuild at the San Francisco Navy Yard and was decommissioned in May 1960.

Tilefish was then sold to Venezuela, which renamed her ARV Carite (S-11). As such, she was the first modern submarine in that force. She arrived in that country on 23 July 1960, setting the small navy up to be the fifth in Latin America with subs.

ARV S-11 Carite El 4 de mayo de 1960

As noted by El Snorkel (great name), a Latin American submarine resource, Tilefish/Carite was very active indeed, making 7,287 dives with the Venezuelan Navy over the next 17 years. She participated in the Argentine/Dominican Republic/Venezuelan -U.S. Quarantine Task Force 137 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and intercepted the Soviet tug Gromoboi in 1968.

In 1966, she was part of the Greater Underwater Propulsion Power Program (GUPPY) conversion program and (along with 20 other boats), was given the very basic Fleet Snorkel package which provided most ofthe bells and whistles found on the German late-WWII Type XXI U-boats– which would later prove ironic. This gave her expanded battery capacity, steamlined her sail conning tower fairwater into a so-called “Northern or North Atlantic sail”– a steel framework surrounded by thick fiberglass– added a snorkel, higher capacity air-conditioning system, and a more powerful electrical system and increased her submerged speed to 15 knots while removing her auxillary diesel. A small topside sonar dome appeared.

ex-Tilefish (SS-307), taken 12 Oct. 1966 after transfer to Venezuela as ARV Carite (S-11). Note the GUPPY series conversion, the so-called very basic “Fleet Snorkel” mod.

However, during this time, her most enduring exposure was in helping film Murphy’s War, in which a German U-boat (U-482) hides out in the Orinoco River in Venezuela after sinking British merchant steamer Mount Kyle, leaving Peter O’Toole as the lone survivor on a hunt to bag the German shark. The thing is, she looked too modern for the film after her recent conversion.

For her role, Carite was given a far-out grey-white-black dazzle camo scheme and, to make her more U-boat-ish, was fitted with a faux cigarette deck after her tower complete with a Boffin 40mm (!) and a twin Oerlikon mount (!!). Her bow was fitted with similarly faked submarine net cutting teeth.

Her “crew” was a mix of U.S. Peace Corps kids working in the area (to get the proper blonde Germanic look) with Venezuelan tars at the controls.

The movie, filmed in decadent Panavision color, shows lots of footage of the old Tilefish including a dramatic ramming sequence with a bone in her teeth and what could be the last and best images of a Balao-class submarine with her decks awash.

That bone!

Ballasting down– note the very un U-boat like sonar dome. I believe that is a QHB-1 transducer dome to starboard with a BQR-3 hydrophone behind it on port

By the mid-1970s, Tilefish/Carite was showing her age. In 1972, the Venezuelans picked up more two more advanced GUPPY II conversions, her Balao-class sister USS Cubera (SS-347), renaming her ARV Tiburon (S-12) and the Tench-class USS Grenadier (SS-525) which followed as ARV Picua (S-13) in 1973.

The Venezuelan submarine ARV Carite (S-11) demonstrates an emergency surfacing during the UNITAS XI exercise, in 1970. via All Hands magazine

Once the two “new” boats were integrated into the Venezuelan Navy, Tilefish/Carite was decommissioned on 28 January 1977 and slowly cannibalized for spare parts, enabling Cubera and Grenadier to remain in service until 1989 when they were replaced by new-built German Type 209-class SSKs, which still serve to one degree or another.

According to a Polish submarine page, some artifacts from Tilefish including a torpedo tube remain in Venezuela.

Although she is no longer afloat, eight Balao-class submarines are preserved (for now) as museum ships across the country.

Please visit one of these fine ships and keep the legacy alive:

-USS Batfish (SS-310) at War Memorial Park in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
USS Becuna (SS-319) at Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
USS Bowfin (SS-287) at USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.
USS Clamagore (SS-343) at Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. (Which may not be there much longer)
USS Ling (SS-297) at New Jersey Naval Museum in Hackensack, New Jersey. (Which is also on borrowed time)
USS Lionfish (SS-298) at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts.
-USS Pampanito (SS-383) at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco, California, (which played the part of the fictional USS Stingray in the movie Down Periscope).
USS Razorback (SS-394) at Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

However, Tilefish will endure wherever submarine films are enjoyed.


Displacement, surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,424 t.
Length 311′ 10″
Beam 27′ 3″
Draft 15′ 3″
Speed surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts
Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10kts; Submerged Endurance, 48 hours at 2kts
Operating Depth Limit, 400 ft.
Patrol Endurance 75 days
Propulsion: diesels-electric reduction gear with four Fairbanks-Morse main generator engines., 5,400 hp, four Elliot Motor Co., main motors with 2,740 hp, two 126-cell main storage batteries, two propellers.
Fuel Capacity: 94,400 gal.
Complement 6 Officers 60 Enlisted
(As built)
10 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes,
one 4″/50 caliber deck gun,
one 40mm gun,
two .50 cal. machine guns
(By 1966)
10 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes,

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Sure, you’ve heard of a sergeant-major, but have you heard of a corporal-lieutenant?

NH 100613

An officer and men of the South Carolina-class battleship USS MICHIGAN (BB-27) landing force prepare to disembark off Vera Cruz, Mexico 22 April 1914 for a rough shore call.

The men wear coffee dyed “white” uniforms and carry Springfield M1903 rifles. The officer, center, wears a Marine Corporal’s uniform, with chevrons and an M1912 pistol belt with magazine pouch for an M1911 which is likely on his person. Note the poncho slung across his body, and packs on deck, one with a rack number stenciled on the attached cartridge belt.

Some 22 men of the 1st Marine Brigade and their accompaning 1,200-man Naval Landing Parties were killed at Vera Cruz while Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ordered that 56 Medals of Honor be awarded to participants in this action, the most for any single engagement before or since.

Farewell, Ponce, laserslinger of the Gulf

Nicknamed “Proud Lion,” Ponce was reclassified from an amphibious transport dock ship to an interim afloat forward staging base with a hybrid crew of Navy and Military Sealift Command personnel. They deployed to the Navy’s U.S. 5th Fleet and had been forward-deployed there since July 2012. She is to end her service this month.

The USS Ponce, now over 40 years old and officially Afloat Force Service Base (Interim) AFSB(I), up until a few weeks ago served as a floating base for NSW, MCM, and other activities in the very warm standoff between the West and Iran in the Persian Gulf.

Ponce is among the Navy’s oldest ships. Construction began in 1966, and it was commissioned during the Nixon administration in 1971. Once an Austin-class amphibious transport dock, after 2012 she was hybrid civilian (MSC) and Navy crewed after she had been selected for decommissioning and began deactivation. This kept her in the Gulf with a fleet of Sea Dragon mine-sweeping choppers, random patrol boat crews (most of the Navy’s operational 170-foot Cyclone-class PCs are in the Gulf as well as a few Coast Guard 110’s), and unnamed special ops characters aboard.

She also packed a 30kW Laser Weapon System (LaWS) which drew a lot of attention.

Now, with her post assumed by the new and purpose-built USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3), Ponce has returned to the states and is preparing to decommission for good, slated for dismantling.

From the ship’s social media:

AFSB(I)-15 was the first ship to be fully realized and dedicated as an afloat forward staging base. The lessons learned from Ponce’s employment will be incorporated in future expeditionary sea bases to be built over the next 15 years. Its performance in this role will be used as a model for concepts and developments across the 30-year shipbuilding plan. Additionally, the ship and its crew provided unmatched UAV, minesweeping, multinational aircraft and amphibious support during TF 51/5-led missions.

Ponce was relieved in U.S 5th Fleet by the expeditionary sea base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB-3), the first U.S. ship commissioned outside the United States and the first ship built specifically for the purpose of serving as an afloat, forward-staging base.

After over 46 years of honorable active service, the current crew comprised of Sailors and Civilian Mariners will complete the decommissioning process with the ceremony scheduled for Saturday, October 14th.

However, with her livewell, large helicopter deck, accomidations, fuel and provisions storage and Joint Operations Center with the best commo afloat, some argue she could get one last and very timely hurrah in Puerto Rico helping with the Hurricane Maria recovery effort.

Food for thought.

Warship Wednesday, Sept. 27, 2017: One Able Sims

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, Sept. 28, 2017: One Able Sims

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.80-G-1671

Here we see an excellent image of the Sims-class destroyer USS Mustin (DD-413) with a Curtiss SBC-3 scout bomber, of Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6) from USS Enterprise (CV-6) during exercises on 26 May 1940. The aviation-heavy image was fitting due to Mustin‘s namesake and of her class’ job in staying close to the flattops.

The Sims were handsome 1930s ships, a dozen 2,300-ton (fl), 348-foot tin cans sandwiched between the smaller Benham-class and the slightly heavier Benson-class which used largely the same hull but a different engineering suite. Speaking of engineering, the Sims-class used a trio of Babcock & Wilcox boilers to push Westinghouse geared turbines at 50,000 shp, capable of making 37-knots and were the last single-stack destroyers made for the Navy.

Designed around a dozen 21-inch torpedo tubes, they could carry 5 5″/38 DP mounts– though in actuality they completed with eight tubes and four main guns, augmented by increasingly heavy AAA and ASW suites.

Built in the tense immediate lead-up to the U.S. entry into WWII, the 12 ships were ordered from seven yards to speed up completion and half were commissioned in 1939, the other half in 1940.

Our ship is named for one Henry Croskey Mustin, USNA 1896, Navy Air Pilot #3, Naval Aviator #11, seen below posing for his pilot certificate as a 40-year-old LCDR with a cigarette in his hand.

U.S. Navy Air Pilot Certificate Issued to Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin in January 1915, certifying that he had been designated as U.S. Navy Air Pilot No. 3, with a 1 June 1914 date of precedence. It includes a photograph of LCDR. Mustin, probably taken at Pensacola, Florida, in 1914, and is signed by Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and Rear Admiral Victor Blue, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation. In January 1918, after the Naval Air Pilot designation was merged with the Naval Aviator designation, Mustin was officially listed as Naval Aviator No. 11. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 105934-KN

Mustin fought in the Spanish-American War, commanded the gunboat USS Samar on Asiatic Station, was court marshaled but pardoned by Teddy Roosevelt and became one of the Navy’s first pilots while serving as XO of the pocket battleship USS Mississippi in Pensacola. There, he went on to become one of the first to fly combat missions in 1914 and in 1915 the first to cat from a warship.

Pioneer naval aviators Godfrey deChevalier, Henry C. Mustin, and John H. Towers on a beach during service in Mexico in the aftermath of the Veracruz Insurrection. On April 20-21, 1914, naval aviation personnel and their aircraft deployed from the Naval Aeronautical Station at Pensacola, Florida, to Mexican waters, where they flew the first combat flights in the history of the United States armed forces.

Lieutenant Commander Henry C. Mustin performs the first catapult launch from a ship, launching from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina (ACR 12) in Pensacola Bay, 5 Nov. 1915 NNAM.2011.003.004.012

USS Mustin was laid down at Newport News in 1937, 14 years after Capt.Mustin’s untimely death, and commissioned 15 September 1939– just 14 days after Hitler invaded Poland.

The war was on, though the U.S. still on the sidelines officially for the next 28 months. As such, Mustin participated in the sometimes-hairy neutrality patrol along the Atlantic Coast and escorted convoys to Iceland, where U.S. troops took over from the British in June 1941.

Convoy to Iceland, September 1941. Caption: View of two of the screen of TF-15, C. 7 September 1941. These are two of the following ships: ANDERSON (DD-411), WALKE (DD-416), MORRIS (DD-417), MUSTIN (DD-413) or O’ BRIEN (DD-415). Description: Catalog #: NH 47006

On December 7, 1941, Mustin was in Boston and soon received orders to ship to the Pacific.

After cutting her teeth escorting convoys between Hawaii and San Francisco and Hawaii and Samoa, she sailed with TF 17, escorting the carrier USS Hornet to the great brawl off Guadalcanal. The class would earn something of a reputation for giving their last full measure in defense of their flattops.

USS Mustin (DD-413) At Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 14 June 1942. Note she has just 3 5-inchers, due to increasing topside weight. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-10124

Surviving the Battle of Santa Cruz in October (where her crews shot down five Japanese aircraft), Mustin closed with the mortally wounded Hornet and rescued over 300 of the stricken ship’s crew, then dutifully attempted to sink the listing hulk along with sister ship USS Anderson (DD-411) with torpedoes and 5-inch fire.

Mustin went on to find herself in every part of the Pacific war. She fought off Savo Island, bombarded Japanese positions at Guadalcanal and on the frozen island of Kiska in the Aleutians, let her 5-inchers warm up off Makin Island, Wotje, Kwajalein, and Eniwetok.

“The continuing operations on and around New Guinea gave Mustin varied duty, on escort, patrol, bombardment, and as fighter-director, as one landing after another moved up the coast to wrest the huge island from the enemy. Noemfoor, Sansapor, Mios Woendi, Humboldt Bay, Biak, all were struck by forces in which Mustin served with vigor and gallantry,” notes DANFS.

Then came the PI campaign– including the great Battle of Leyte Gulf– and Okinawa. She splashed kamikazes, hunted for Japanese submarines, directed landings, and escorted convoys from secure anchorages to the front lines.

By May 1945, she was in poor material condition and, with the war expected to take a couple more years, Mustin was dispatched to San Pedro, California for an extensive refit which lasted until the end of August. She ditched her torpedo tubes as Japanese ships were increasingly few, exchanging them for more 40mm mounts.

Shown off San Pedro, California on August 14, 1945, after completing her final wartime refit. The Kamikaze threat was now fully realized as both banks of torpedo tubes were replaced by twin mounts of 40mm guns and their controlling directors. Ahead of #3 5″ mount, which was retained, she has twin 40mm mounts, and all of her 20mm guns, forward of the bridge, remain in place. Via Navsource

Ready for more service, she headed for the Japanese Home Islands in September for occupation duty, with the war finished. In all, she picked up an impressive 13 battle stars.

In all, she picked up an impressive 13 battle stars for her part in the conflict. While this figure is outstanding, and one of the highest in the fleet, she was surpassed by her sisters Russell (16 stars) and Morris (15), a testament to the wringer this class was put through.

The war was especially hard on her class, with Sims sunk at the Battle of the Coral Sea, Hammann sunk at Midway while trying to screen USS Yorktown, O’Brien ultimately sunk by a torpedo she picked up trying to screen the carrier USS Wasp off Guadalcanal, Walke lost in the same campaign, and Buck sunk by a German U-boat. Morris was damaged so bad off Okinawa that she was considered neither seaworthy nor habitable by VJ Day.

With the Navy flush with Fletcher and Gearing class destroyers– which were brand new in many cases and much more capable– the rest of the Sims were on the chopping block. Russell and Roe, undergoing lengthy refits like Mustin‘s when the war ended, never saw service again and were instead sold for scrap.

The four still-mobile Sims left in active service by early 1946: Mustin, Hughes, Anderson, and Wainwright joined 13 other tin cans from two other classes at Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands to take part in the Operation Crossroads atomic tests.

Joint Task Force One press release chart depicting scrap costs of Operation Crossroads. (U.S. Naval Institute)

The ships were stripped of useful equipment as well as ceremonial items such as bells, nameplates, and commemorative plaques. At Bikini, without crews or ordnance but with a sampling of goats and chickens aboard, the fleet touched the sun.

Mustin was rather close to the Able Shot (number 30 on the above chart) where “Gilda” a Mk III style 23-kt bomb was dropped 2,130 feet away from the old battleship USS Nevada, the designated zero point. Sims-class sister Anderson (number 1 on the chart), who had helped to scuttle Hornet along with Mustin back in 1942, sank within hours

0900 1 July 1946 Through Protective Goggles on the USS Appalachian Painting, Watercolor on Illustration Board; by Grant Powers, USMC combat artist; 1946; Framed Dimensions 24H X 30W Accession #: 88-181-N USS Appalachian (AGC-1) was the press ship from which most of the observers watched the bombs of Test Able. Goggles were worn during the initial phase of the explosion–when the fireball was brighter than the sun–but then taken off later as the protective glass was too dark to view the rest of the bomb phenomena. Appalachian, class leader of a group of four purpose-built amphibious command ships, was 18 miles from the USS Nevada.

Still radioactive but afloat, Mustin was decommissioned August 1946 and sunk off Kwajalein, 18 April 1948 in deep water by gunfire.

The original destroyer, her namesake, and other famous members of the Mustin family, Vice Admirals Lloyd Montague Mustin and Henry “Hank” Mustin, along with Vietnam era LCDR Thomas M. Mustin, Officer in Charge of Patrol Boat River Section 511, are remembered in the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG-89), built at Pascagoula and commissioned on 26 July 2003. I took part in her construction there while at Ingalls.

She still looks great 14 years later.

SHIMODA, Japan (May 19, 2017) The guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) at anchor off the coast of Shimoda during the 78th Black Ship Festival. The Navy’s participation in the festival celebrates the heritage of U.S.-Japanese naval partnership first established by Commodore Matthew Perry’s 1853 port visit. (U.S. Navy photo by Daniel A. Taylor/Released)


1,570 long tons (1,600 t) (std)
2,211 long tons (2,246 t) (full)
Length: 348 ft, 3¼ in, (106.15 m)
Beam: 36 ft, 1 in (11 m)
Draught: 13 ft, 4.5 in (4.07 m)
Propulsion: High-pressure super-heated boilers, geared turbines with twin screws, 50,000 horsepower
Speed: 35 knots
Range: 3,660 nautical miles at 20 kt (6,780 km at 37 km/h)
Complement: 192 (10 officers/182 enlisted)
(as built)
5 × 5 inch/38, in single mounts
4 × .50 caliber/90, in single mounts
8 × 21-inch torpedo tubes in two quadruple mounts
2 × depth charge track, 10 depth charges

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