Category Archives: US Navy

The More Things Change, Forward Mount Edition

The guns may have shrunk, along with the ships, but the task remains.

Bluejackets standing atop turret No. 1 to clean the 12-inch/50 caliber Mark 7 guns in turret No. 2 aboard the brand new dreadnought battleship USS Wyoming (BB-32), circa 1913, likely during winter fleet gunnery practice off Puerto Rico. Wyoming carried six such Mark 9 twin turrets on her centerline and, as with coaling, was surely a massive undertaking to maintain her extensive fire-belching batteries.

Official caption: Sailors assigned to the Freedom-variant littoral combat ship USS Sioux City (LCS 11), and the “Sea Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, Detachment 3, conduct maintenance on the 57mm MK 110 gun while the ship is in port Ponce, Puerto Rico for a brief stop for fuel and provisions, May 12, 2021. Sioux City is deployed to the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to support Joint Interagency Task Force South’s mission, which includes counter-illicit drug trafficking missions in the Caribbean and Eastern Pacific. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Marianne Guemo/Released)

Ford Gets a Shock

The world’s largest warship and the lead ship of her class, the supercarrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) has been getting rocked by underwater explosions in Full Ship Shock Trials while underway in the Atlantic Ocean. It makes for some impressive images.

These provided by Warship 78’s social media account by MCSN Jackson Adkins, MC3 Riley McDowell, MC3 Zachary Melvin, taken 18 June.

Taking place some 100 miles off the Florida coast just before 4 p.m. Friday, according to the U.S. Geological Survey the blast hit the scales there as a 3.9 magnitude earthquake.

Laid down in 2009 after four years of pre-production, Ford commissioned 22 July 2017, two months after she was delivered, and has been undergoing trials, tests, and refits for the past four years.

The Navy hopes she will be ready to deploy in 2023.

Sprite Underbelly

Here we see an unusual 1982 shot, not so much for its subject, but for the angle, a bottom view of an SH-2 Seasprite Mark 1 Light Airborne Multi-Purpose System (LAMPS I) helicopter in flight. Note the surface search radar, ASQ-81 Magnetic Anomaly Detection (MAD), and anti-submarine warfare torpedoes (Mk 44s?).

DOD photo 330-CFD-DN-SC-82-10553 via NARA

The smallest of the Navy’s Cold War-era sub-busting helicopters, falling well behind the SH-3 Sea King and its replacement, the SH/MH-60 Hawk series, the Kaman Sea Sprite came about its name honestly. First introduced in 1962, only 184 were built for the U.S., with hoped-for export sales never really materializing.

The compact Sea Sprite, with a length of 38 feet, a rotor diameter of 44, and an empty weight of just 7,000 pounds, was small enough to operate from Knox1class destroyer escorts (later reclassed as frigates) and larger Hamilton-, Reliance– and Bear-class Coast Guard cutters in time of war, something the 15,000-pound, 65-foot SH-60 couldn’t pull off.

They even made stops on battleships when required. 

Crew members aboard the Iowa (BB-61) wait for a Helicopter Light Anti-Submarine Squadron 34 (HSL-34) SH-2F Seasprite helicopter to be secured before transporting a badly burned sailor injured during NATO exercise North Wedding 86. Official USN photo # DN-ST-87-00280, by PH1 Jeff Hilton

This meant that, even as the Sea Hawk was meeting widespread acclaim from the fleet, there was still a need for the smaller chopper. This led to the SH-2G Super Seasprite, an upgraded version of the original with the same footprint, in 1993. The Navy kept two squadrons of Super Seasprites (or Triple Ss) around in the reserve until 2001, by which time the last of the NRF Knoxes were all being put out to pasture and the Coast Guard was out of the ASW biz. A shame about the latter.

The SSS went on to serve much more extensively overseas and is still kicking with the Poles, Kiwis, Peruvians, and Egyptians.

The top aircraft, BuNo 147980, was an original Kaman HU2K-1/HU2K-1U later converted to the SH-2F standard. Used as a test helicopter at the factory from 1962-63, it eventually saw service with “every LAMPS squadron on the East Coast,” including HU-1/HC-1, HC-4/HSL-30, HSL-32, HSL-34, and HSL-36.

Big Mamie Delivers on her No. 6 mount

To mark the passage of last Memorial Day two weeks ago, the museum ship USS Massachusetts (BB-59). let one of her 5″/38 DP guns bark a salute.

Via Battleship Cove comes this video of the event, in which Battleship Gunner’s Mate Tom Lowney leads the Gun Crew on the oldest surviving SoDak-class fast superdreadnought.

Warship Wednesday, June 16, 2021: Rig for Red

Here at LSOZI, we will take off every Wednesday to look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and 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, June 16, 2021: Rig for Red

Called a skalomniscope by American sub wonk Simon Lake, the periscope of sorts was first invented in 1854 by a French guy by the name of Marie Davey, submersibles have had various “sight tubes” ever since. While early boats had a single short scope attached directly to the (single) top hatch (!) by the 1930s it was common for large fleet submarines to have multiple search and attack periscopes in the sail.

Over the years, these devices in U.S. parlance led to the term “periscope liberty” which denoted side use in observing peacetime beaches and pleasure craft with bikini-clad femmes at play and, of course, the old-school “Rig for red” use of red lighting for those who would use the scopes while the boat was at periscope depth at night or was preparing to go topside should the boat to surface in the o-dark-o’clock hours.

Here are some of the cooler periscope shots in the NHHC’s collection, among others.

Vessel sighting mechanism details LC-USZC4-4561 Robert Hudson’s submarine 1806 periscope patent

The eye of the submarine periscope, Gallagher card.

Aircraft carrier Taiho, seen through the periscope of submarine USS Albacore

Japanese destroyer ‘Harusame’, photographed through the periscope of USS Wahoo (SS-238) after she had been torpedoed by the submarine near Wewak, New Guinea, on 24 January 1943

Japanese armed trawler seen through the periscope of USS Albacore (SS-218) during her tenth war patrol. Photo received 17 November 1944 NHHC 80-286279

80-G-13550 Guardfish periscope

Submarine officer sights through a periscope in the submarine’s control room, during training exercises at the Submarine Base, New London, Groton, Connecticut, in August 1943 80-G-K-16013

Periscope death of the destroyer Tade, (1922) Montage of eight photos showing her sinking after being torpedoed by USS Seawolf (SS-197) on 23 April 1943 NH 58329

Shoreline of Makin Island, photographed through a periscope of USS Nautilus (SS-168) on 16 August 1942, the day before U.S. Marine raiders were landed 80-G-11720

Periscope photograph taken from USS Seawolf (SS-197), while she was on patrol in the Philippines-East Indies area in the fall of 1942. 80-G-33184

Periscope photograph made PUFFER SS-268 freighter Teiko Maru (ex-Vichy French steamship D’Artagnan 1943. Torpedo is shown hitting NH 68784

USS Barb 1944 “fiendish antisubmarine weapon bird” blocking Lucky Fluckey’s view on approach. He reportedly sank the Japanese ship with his observation periscope

In January of 1951, the recently GUPPY’d USS Catfish slipped into San Francisco Bay underwater and remained in the harbor for three days taking photos of the Bay Area through their periscope in daylight as part of an authorized mission to see if they could do it with a minimum of civilian reaction. The mission was successful to a degree, as no one called SFPD or the military, as reported by the San Fran Chronicle.

Sighting the target submarine periscope by Georges Schreiber, Navy Art Collection 88-159-ji

USS JOHN HOOD (DD-655) and USS SNOWDEN (DE-246) photographed through a submarine periscope, while underway 1950s USN 1042008

View from the HALIBUT’s periscope of the March 1960 launch of the Regulus missile.

USS Seadragon (SSN 584) crewmembers explore ice pack in the Arctic Ocean through the periscope

President John F. Kennedy through the periscope aboard USS THOMAS EDISON (SSBN-610) 14 April 1962 USN 1112056-F

USS New Jersey (BB-62) seen through the periscope of USS La Jolla SSN-701

Bohol Strait USS Triton spies a local fisherman on April 1 1960

Key West submarines USS Sea Poacher, USS Grenadier, and USS Threadfin wind their way up the Mississippi River toward New Orleans, as seen through the periscope of USS Tirante, Mardi Gras 1963

Periscope view as Captain G.P. Steele searches for an opening in the ice through which to surface, September 1960 USS Sea Dragon SSN-584 USN 1050054

USS Cowpens through the periscope of the nuclear fast attack submarine USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716), Western Pacific, September 1994.

Many modern submarines, including the U.S. Virginia and RN’s Astute class, no longer use traditional periscopes, having long since ditched them in favor of modern telescoping digital optronics masts housing numerous camera and sensor systems with the Navy’s current standard being the AN/BVS-1 photonics mast.

Astute class CM10 Optronic Masts from Thales. periscope

GROTON, Conn. (Dec. 20, 2019) Sailors assigned to the Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS Minnesota (SSN 783) stand topside as they pull into their homeport at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn., Dec 20, 2019, following a deployment. Minnesota deployed to execute the chief of naval operation’s maritime strategy in supporting national security interests and maritime security operations. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Steven Hoskins/Released)

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.

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.

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The Navy’s Other Small Boats

With the promised retirement of the dozen low-mileage Mark VI patrol boats by the Navy, it should be noted that service is not totally absent of small boats, still having the 33-foot SOC-R riverine boats of SBT-22 and the assorted 82-foot Mark V boats in the SWCC teams.

Then there are other, more numerous, assets in the Maritime Expeditionary Security Force.

Via a good article at Sea Power:

180918-N-EH436-081 PORT OF DJIBOUTI, Djibouti (September 18, 2018) Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Petty Officer William Woodley, assigned to Task Group 68.6 (TG-68.6), stands watch as a crewman onboard a 34ft SeaArk patrol boat upon completion of a mission with the USNS Alan Shepard, Sept. 18, 2018. TG-68.6 is forward-deployed to the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations and conducts joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo by Quartermaster 2nd Class Ashley Taylor)

In addition to the Mark VI PBs, the MESF operates 164 patrol craft. These include 117 SeaArk 34-foot Dauntless-class patrol boats and 17 SAFE Boats 25-foot Oswald-class patrol boats. The riverine assault craft, riverine command boats, and riverine patrol boats all have been retired and stored. The single Coastal Command Boat, a smaller predecessor to the Mark VI that was deployed to the 5th Fleet, was transferred to a test role in 2018.

Further, the Oswalds are being replaced by a series of 120 40-foot PB(X) boats over the next 10 years to replace the 34-foot and 25-foot PBs.

The Navy also has ordered 24 Force Protection-Medium (FP-M) patrol boats from Lake Assault Boats LLC, which was awarded a contract for up to 119 FP-Ms in February 2020. The 33-foot-long aluminum V-hull boats will be used for harbor and waterway patrols, interrogation of other waterborne assets, and escorting large vessels in and out of ports in various weather and water conditions. The first was scheduled for delivery this spring.

Learning all about the Anti-submarine …guns

Official caption: A blue jacket aboard Pennsylvania telling two feminine visitors all about the mechanism of the anti-submarine guns, December 1918.

Photo by Underwood & Underwood via the National Archives 165-WW-332D-42

The gun looks to be a low-angle 3-pounders (47mm), common on earlier battleships of the 1900s for use not only against oncoming torpedo boats but also submarines who, more often than not, were encountered awash or surfaced except during their final attacks. By 1918, they were more or less just used as saluting guns, which would jive for how the two above guns are mounted (i.e. side-by-side so that one crew could work both guns to keep up an easy cadence while the close mounting made it next to impossible to traverse or elevate).  

USS Pennsylvania (BB-38), commissioned 12 June 1916, was originally completed with four 3-inch high angle guns for use as “balloon busters” and anti-aircraft artillery, her smallest “usable” guns. 


RADM Henry T. Mayo’s flagship in 1917, the battleship cooled her heels off the Atlantic coast during the Great War, only heading to France in early December 1918 to escort Mr. Wilson to Paris. She then escorted the coal-fired dreadnoughts of Battleship Divisions Nine and Six back to New York, which had served with the British, arriving back home on Christmas night to a big celebration.

Her Second World War would be much more exciting.

Loyal Wingman, 1974 Edition

Of course, you have probably seen this, the first successful mid-air refueling of an F-18 from an MQ-25 UAV in naval history, which occurred 4 June. The fact that this could eliminate tying down tactical aircraft as buddy stores refuelers is huge for the use of carrier air wing tactics. 

The current “Loyal Wingman” or “Airpower Teaming” concept– matching up high-performance UAVs with a manned aircraft in a single flight– is seen as revolutionary to the future of naval warfare, and it is, but keep in mind that it is not wholly unheard of/unseen in the past with more analog technology.

Check out this Naval Missile Center (NMC) Point Mugu Vought DF-8F Crusader drone controller (BuNo 145528, NMC-105) in-flight with its unmanned McDonnell QF-4B Phantom II NOLO (no on-board live operator) drone (BuNo 149466, NMC-41) in 1974.

Beautiful picture.

These QF-4s could often prove death-defying. 

Either way, interesting concept, then and now.

Warship Wednesday, June 9, 2021: First of the Jeep Carriers

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 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, June 9, 2021: First of the Jeep Carriers

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-236393

Here we see the unassuming yet near overloaded escort carrier, USS Long Island (CVE-1) underway off California on 10 June 1944, acting as an aircraft transport. Wearing Measure 32, Design 9a camo, she has 21 F6F Hellcats, 20 SBD scout bombers, and two J2F Duck utility planes on her flight deck. Commissioned 80 years ago this week, she was the prototype escort carrier in American service and made one hell of a beta test.

Laid down 7 July 1939, as the Type C3‑S‑A1 cargo freighter SS Mormacmail, under Maritime Commission contract for the Moore-McCormack Lines (Moore Mack), by the Sun Shipbuilding & Drydock Co., Chester, Pennsylvania, she launched 11 January 1940 and surely would have gone on to become any other merchantman had she not been acquired by the U.S. Navy on 6 March 1941 and entered service 2 June 1941 as Long Island (initially designated APV-1, but redesignated and commissioned as AVG-1, then later as Auxiliary Aircraft Carrier ACV-1 and CVE-1), with a lot of modifications from her original intended design.

USS Long Island (AVG-1) (ex-Mormacmail) Under conversion at Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Co. Yard, 1 April 1941. She had received the name LONG ISLAND on 31 March 1941. Note flight deck under construction and temporary retention of her neutrality MKGS open. Lighter YC-301 is in the left background. NH 96711

Some 13,500 tons, she was 492 feet long and could accommodate 21 single-engine aircraft between her hangar deck and topside parking, or more than twice that many (as seen in the first image of this post) when being used as an aircraft transport.

USS Long Island (AVG-1) underway on 8 July 1941, with two F2A Brewster Buffalo fighters parked at the forward end of her flight deck. Note flight deck markings: LI. The ship is painted in Measure 1 camouflage, with heavy weathering of paint evident on the hull side. 80-G-26567

As noted by DANFs:

In the tense months before Pearl Harbor, the new escort aircraft carrier operated out of Norfolk, conducting experiments to prove the feasibility of aircraft operations from converted cargo ships. The data gathered by Long Island greatly improved the combat readiness of later “baby flattops.”

No matter if you call them “jeep carriers,” or “Combustible, Vulnerable, and Expendable,” the escort carrier concept is one we have covered a few times in the past several years on WW. Besides one-off training carriers and prototype ships, four large classes of U.S.-built CVEs (Bogue, Sangamon, Casablanca, Commencement Bay) were cranked out during WWII, approaching 150~ hulls planned or completed for Uncle Sam and his Allies. And Long Island was the inaugural model.

FDR himself had a keen interest in her development and went to sea to view her in operation firsthand.

USS Long Island (AVG-1) (upper center) Underway in company with the heavy cruiser USS Augusta (CA-31), in the left front, off Cape Sable, Nova Scotia, in August 1941. Augusta had President Franklin D. Roosevelt embarked to witness Long Island’s operations. Among the other ships present are USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37), partially visible at far right, and USS Meredith (DD-434), steaming astern of Long Island. 80-G-13074

Officers of Scouting Squadron 201 (VS-201) posing on the flight deck of USS Long Island (AVG-1), 10 September 1941. VS-201 was the Navy’s pioneer composite squadron, formed in early 1941 specifically for service on Long Island. 80-G-28406

USS Long Island (AVG-1) in Measure 12 (Modified) Atlantic camouflage, circa 10 November 1941. Planes on her flight deck include seven Curtiss SOC-3A scout observation types and one Brewster F2A Buffalo fighter, both types rare to carrier operations in WWII. 19-N-27986

Following the official U.S. entry into WWII after Pearl Harbor, Long Island got operational, escorting a convoy to Argentia.

USS Long Island (AVG-1) View on the flight deck while operating in the vicinity of Argentia, Newfoundland, January 1942. This was the only time Long Island operated in such northern areas. Planes parked on the carrier’s snowy flight deck, behind the palisade, are Curtiss SOC-3A Seagull types, craft normally seen as floatplanes on cruisers and battleships of the day. 80-G-13129

Then, she qualified naval aviators on new types and made for the West Coast, because, while Hitler’s U-boats were beating a drum from Maine to Texas, things in the Pacific were even worse.

USS Long Island (AVG-1) View on the hangar deck, looking aft over the elevator pit, 28 March 1942. Three Vought SB2U scout bombers are present, embarked for carrier qualifications. Note propellers on deck, and cowling removed from the SB2U at left. The plane in the center is marked S-75. 80-G-16967

USS Long Island (AVG-1) LCDR Lex L. Black, Commanding Officer of squadron VGS-1, makes the ship’s 2000th landing, 20 April 1942, just 10 months after the tiny carrier’s commissioning. No that is a serious shakedown! He is flying a Curtiss SOC-3A Seagull scout-observation aircraft. Note lowered flaps and deployed leading-edge slats on the upper wing. 80-G-14256

USS Long Island (AVG-1) Curtiss SOC-3A Seagull scout-observation planes, of the carrier’s embarked squadron, VGS-1, parked on the flight deck, 10 May 1942. 80-G-14521

Reaching San Francisco on 5 June, Long Beach was attached to Task Force ONE under VADM William S. Pye to provide air cover for his four battleships headed to join Nimitz.

USS Long Island (AVG-1) moored at Naval Air Station, North Island, California, on 2 June 1942, shortly before she sortied with TF1. Aircraft on deck include six Grumman F4F-4 fighters and three Curtiss SOC-3A of squadron VGS-1. 80-G-31839

Same as above

USS Long Island (AVG-1) crewmen spotting an early Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighter on the ship’s hangar deck, 17 June 1942. Several other F4F-4s are present, as are Curtiss SOC-3A Seagull scout-observation planes. All are from squadron VGS-1. 80-G-14524

USS Long Island (AVG-1) Grumman F4F-4 Wildcat fighter on the catapult, ready for take-off, 17 June 1942. Several more F4F-4s are waiting their turn for launch. All planes are from squadron VGS-1. Note that Long Island’s catapult runs diagonally across the flight deck, from starboard toward the port bow. 80-G-14548

USS Long Island (AVG-1) a Curtiss SOC-3A Seagull scout-observation plane landing on board, 17 June 1942. Note bomb (or anti-submarine depth bomb) carried on the plane’s centerline rack and arresting gear wires on the carrier’s flight deck. 80-G-14257

USS Long Island (AVG-1) at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 17 July 1942, with at least eight SBD scout bombers and one TBF torpedo plane parked on her flight deck. This is only six weeks past the Battle of Midway. She is painted in camouflage Measure 12 (Modified) and wears an unusual number on her bow: 751. 80-G-73390

With things growing hairy at a place called Guadalcanal, Long Island picked up two squadrons of Marine tactical aircraft, part of Marine Aircraft Group 23, and headed down to Henderson Field accompanied by the cruiser USS Helena (CL 50) and destroyer USS Dale (DD 353) to supply the first planes to the budding “Cactus Air Force.”

Brewster F2A-3 Buffalo fighter rests in the flight deck gallery walkway after suffering landing gear failure while landing onboard USS Long Island (AVG-1), off Palmyra Island, 25 July 1942. This plane is from Marine Fighting Squadron 211 (VMF-211), now best known as “The Wake Island Defenders” the last Navy or Marine Corps unit to operate the F2A in a front-line capacity. 80-G-12905

Another view of the same. Note marking MF-5 on the plane’s fuselage and very weathered paint. The carrier’s SC radar antenna is visible atop her stub mast at the right. 80-G-12906

At 1700 on 20 August, the first Marines landed aircraft at Henderson Field– taking off from Long Island, some 200 miles to the southeast. They included 18 F4F Wildcats flown by the Bulldogs of VMF-223 (MAJ John L. Smith) and 12 SBD Dauntless dive bombers of the Red Devils of VMSB-232 (Lt. Col. Richard Mangrum). “A shout of relief and welcome went up from every Marine on the island,” reported LT. Herbert L. Merrill.

MAG-23 fighters from the escort carrier USS Long Island are flown into Henderson Field Air Strip.

Dispersal Area of Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, circa 1942 USMC Archives Soule Collection

They flew their first combat missions from Guadalcanal the very next day and were in dogfights just 19 hours after landing.

Ordered back to the West Coast to serve as a training carrier– flattops in the Pacific of any type being exceedingly short at the time– Long Island avoided further brushes with combat but spent the better part of two years in this vital duty, alternating it with running aircraft to the forward areas as deck cargo. It was during this period that she was reclassified as an “Escort Carrier” and redesignated CVE-1.

USS Long Island (ACV-1) Grumman TBF-1 Avenger torpedo plane makes an arrested landing, probably during carrier qualifications in late 1942 or early 1943. 80-G-66735

USS Long Island (ACV-1) Underway with a mixed cargo of airplanes and stores on her flight deck, 25 May 1943. The planes include F4F, SBD, and TBF types. 80-G-83216

USS Long Island (CVE 1), starboard bow view, with new masts and camouflage upon departure from Puget Sound Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., February 11, 1944. Note the camouflage Measure 32, Design 9a. 80-G-413493

Following VJ Day, she would continue serving as a Magic Carpet ride for returning GIs and bring back captured Japanese wonder weapons for technological analysis.

Japanese Army Type 4 Fighter, a Nakajima Ki-84 Hayate (U.S: “Frank”), painted in U.S. Navy colors onboard USS Long Island (CVE 1), 1945. Japan’s fastest fighter, Franks were the bane of B-29 squadrons over the Home Islands in the last years of the war. This example, serial number 1446, was captured at Clark Field during 1945 and shipped to the U.S. on Long Island late that year to be examined by the War Department. Sold off as surplus in 1952, it eventually made its way to the Tokko Heiwa Kinen-kan (Kamikaze) Museum in Japan, where it is the only surviving Ki-84 in the world.


Long Island received only one battle star for her World War II service and decommissioned on 26 March 1946 at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Struck 12 April 1946, she was sold to Zidell Ship Dismantling Co., Portland, Oregon., 24 April 1947, ostensibly for scrapping.

A survivor, she was converted by Albina Engineering & Machine Works, Portland, to become an immigrant carrier under the name of Nelly, slowly shuttling war-shook Europeans eager to quit the old world for the new from ports in Western Europe to Australia, with accommodations for 1,300 steerage class passengers.

MS Nelly is seen at sea

By 1955, she had been purchased by the Europe-Canada Line to, as noted by SS, “provide inexpensive student/migrant travel to Canada” with 20 First Class and 970 Tourist Class accommodations. She would sail as MS Seven Seas.

A postcard of the Seven Seas issued by Europe-Canada Line via SS

In 1963, she was again converted to a school ship for the University of the Seven Seas and World Campus Afloat (now Chapman University) then later become a floating dormitory in Rotterdam for Erasmus University, then for foreign workers in the 1970s.

Via SS

Her usefulness long since passed, ex-SS Mormacmail/USS Long Island/SS Nelley/MS Seven Seas was towed to the breakers in Belgium in May 1977.

Seven Seas, ex-USS Long Island, in tow, on her last voyage from Rotterdam to Ghent, Belgium, 4 May 1977. She arrived there one day later and breaking up started immediately. Gerhard Mueller-Debus. Via Navsource 

Little to nothing of Long Island remains today, and her name was never reused by the Navy, sadly. However, several of her squadrons, especially the 1942 Marine units, are still in existence.

Speaking of which, the image of the VMF-211 Buffalo crashed on her deck in July 1942 has gone on to have a life of its own, circulating far wider in its modified form than any other Long Island photo. It makes its rounds every May 4th. 


The Long Island (CVE-1), the prototype escort carrier, as an aircraft transport, June 1944. Note that she still retained her arresting gear at this time. The original freighter superstructure is visible amidships, forward of her short hangar. Drawing and text from U.S. Aircraft Carriers: An Illustrated Design History, by Norman Friedman, via Navsource.

(As converted, 1941)

Displacement: 7,886 tons standard; 13,499 tons full load
Length: 465 feet (wl) 492 feet deck
Beam: 69.5 feet (wl), 102 feet over deck edges
Draft: 27.5 feet
Power plant: 4 Busch-Sulzer diesels (7-cylinder); 1 shaft; 8,500 bhp
Speed: 16.5 knots
Aviation facilities: 1 elevator; 1 hydraulic catapult
Crew: 970 (wartime figure)
Sensors: SG and SC-1 radar
Armor: None
Armament: 1 single 5″/51 mount; 2 single 3″/50-cal gun mounts; 4 .50-cal machine guns
Aircraft: 21

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.

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!

Alabama Picking Up Measure 22, Again

“Big Grey Al” has been a regular feature in Mobile Bay for over 50 years, guarding the entry to Mobile along the Moon Pie City’s Western Shore.

USS Alabama Eger 2.29.20

Note her distinctive large SK3 radar antenna array near the top of her mast. Photo by me on Leap Day 2020

The thing is, the lucky SoDak-class fast battleship spent her brief but very active WWII career typically dressed in camo of various schemes, starting off with Measure 12 for her Atlantic tour then haze grey augmented by Measure 22 for her Pacific career. 

Original color photo of USS Alabama (BB-60) In Casco Bay, Maine, during her shakedown period, circa December 1942. Note her Measure 12 (modified) Atlantic camouflage scheme. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-K-445

Alabama (BB-60) anchored at Lynnhaven in Hampton Roads, on 1 December 1942. Via Navsource

With that being said, USS Alabama (BB-60) is gaining some Measure 22 Pacific camo, courtesy of the Living History Crew, complete with dungarees.

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