Category Archives: US Navy

Where are the Carriers, Dec 6, 1941 edition

A common refrain for the past half-century, when it comes to American diplomacy, is “Where are the carriers?”

The day before they were the most capital ship in the Navy, here is the rundown, via the NHHC and DANFS:

On 6 December 1941, the three Pacific Fleet aircraft carriers were USS Enterprise (CV-6), USS Lexington (CV-2), and USS Saratoga (CV-3). By sheer luck, while most of the Pacific fleet’s battleships and cruisers and about half of its destroyers and submarines were at Pearl on 7 December, there were no flattops. 

USS Enterprise (CV-6) Operating in the Pacific, circa late June 1941. She is turning into the wind to recover aircraft. Note her natural wood flight deck stain and dark Measure One camouflage paint scheme. The flight deck was stained blue in July 1941, during camouflage experiments that gave her a unique deck stripe pattern. 80-G-K-14254

Enterprise: On 28 November 1941, Admiral Husband E. Kimmel sent TF-8, consisting of Enterprise, the heavy cruisers Northampton(CA-26), Chester (CA-27), and Salt Lake City (CA-24) and nine destroyers under Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., to ferry 12 Grumman F4F-3 Wildcats of Marine Fighting Squadron (VMF) 211 to Wake Island. Upon completion of the mission on 4 December, TF-8 set a course to return to Pearl Harbor. Dawn on 7 December 1941 found TF-8 about 215 miles west of Oahu.

USS Lexington (CV-2) leaving San Diego, California, 14 October 1941. Planes parked on her flight deck include F2A-1 fighters (parked forward), SBD scout-bombers (amidships), and TBD-1 torpedo planes (aft). Note the false bow wave painted on her hull, forward, and badly chalked condition of the hull’s camouflage paint. 80-G-416362

Lexington: On 5 December 1941, TF-12, formed around Lexington, under the command of Rear Admiral John H. Newton, sailed from Pearl to ferry 18 Vought SB2U-3 Vindicators of Marine Scout Bombing Squadron 231 to Midway Island. Dawn on 7 December 1941 found Lexington, heavy cruisers Chicago (CA-29), Portland (CA-33), and Astoria (CA-34), and five destroyers about 500 miles southeast of Midway. The outbreak of hostilities resulted in the cancellation of the mission and VMSB-231 was retained on board [they would ultimately fly to Midway from Hickam Field on 21 December].

USS Saratoga (CV-3) flight deck scene, circa fall of 1941. Grumman F4F-3 “Wildcats” of VF-3 “Felix the Cat” are in the foreground (one wearing the two-toned gray scheme approved in October 1941); Douglas SBD-3 “Dauntless” and Douglas TBD-1 “Devastator” aircraft are parked beyond. NH 92500

Saratoga: The Saratoga, having recently completed an overhaul at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, Bremerton, Washington, reached NAS San Diego [North Island] late in the forenoon watch on 7 December. She was to embark her air group, as well as Marine Fighting Squadron (VMF) 221 and a cargo of miscellaneous airplanes to ferry to Pearl Harbor.

Meanwhile, in the Atlantic…

Yorktown (CV-5), Ranger (CV-4), and Wasp (CV-7), along with the aircraft escort vessel Long Island (AVG-1), were in the Atlantic Fleet; Hornet (CV-8), commissioned in late October 1941, had yet to carry out her shakedown. Yorktown would be the first Atlantic Fleet carrier to be transferred to the Pacific, sailing on 16 December 1941.

Used F-4 Phantom, Half Off!

Via Platinum Fighter Sales, not a joke:

“Price Slashed. 1959 McDonnell F4H-1F Phantom II. Restoration is 80-85% complete. The airframe has undergone a complete IRAN per U.S. Navy standards. Everything has been overhauled to 0-time condition. Needs engines overhauled, avionics, and ejection seats. Was $2,950,000. Now asking $1,500,000. Trades considered.”

F4H-1F BuNo 145310 was one of the first dozen pre-production Phantoms

History of the aircraft:

F4H-1F BuNo 145310 was delivered to the Navy in 1959 and was the 11th pre-production aircraft built. 1961 was a memorable year for the jet. On 22nd April 1961, it carried a very impressive 22 Mk83 500lb bombs on various hardpoints under the aircraft and dropped them on a range at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. This demonstration was the deciding factor for the United States Air Force to also order the aircraft.

In August 1961, 145310 was one of three F4H-1F Phantom II’s used by the U.S. Navy to commemorate the 50th Anniversary of U.S. Naval Aviation. 

Later, during a weapons test, 145310 had part of the undercarriage door and pylon were burnt by a Sidewinder missile and later that year, the aircraft suffered an engine failure. Thankfully landing safely. The aircraft last saw use in September 1964 when the Navy retired their test aircraft. It had completed 461 hours.

Never demilled, 145310 has been under restoration to airworthy condition for the past 10 years by Aircraft Restoration Services LLC at the French Valley Airport, CA. It is being offered for sale “As Is, Where Is.”

How to Borrow a Relic of the USS Arizona

Since the USS Arizona Superstructure Relic Program (ASRP) began, 150 pieces of the ill-fated battleship have been loaned out to museums, Veterans groups, and non-profits. To be sure, this is not a program to give individuals a souvenir of the lost warship– the relics belong to every American– but to provide tangible pieces of the vessel to provide a symbol of what was lost on that Day Which Will Live in Infamy.

Similarly, several 3-inch sections have recently been selected, preserved, and presented to 138 active-duty units of the Pacific Fleet, to carry on Arizona’s legacy. 

The ASRP has taken care to ensure the relics are available to inspire future generations. Each relic was preserved and mounted in a display case built and sealed with shipboard safe materials. Additionally, guidelines were created to ensure the relics will be passed-down when a ship or submarine is decommissioned.

Via the NHHC:

USS Arizona (BB 39) is the final resting place for many of the ship’s 1,177 crewmen who lost their lives on December 7, 1941. Approximately 1,100 Sailors and Marines remain entombed within the ship’s hull. The ship was decommissioned in 1942. After the ship was sunk at her moorings during the attack, significant portions of the ship were salvaged for re-use among the fleet during the war. Ammunition, armament, electric motors and large amounts of scrap metal were recovered.

The final removal of material took place in 1961, in order to construct the memorial over the ship. This last portion removed came from the aft deckhouse superstructure of the ship and was brought to its final resting place on a quiet, remote parcel of land on Waipio Point located in Pearl Harbor. The Arizona Superstructure Relic Program (ASRP) was developed by the Navy to address requests for pieces of USS Arizona stored on Waipio Point while it is still possible to retrieve them.

The Department of the Navy, recognizing the historical value in the superstructure, placed the removed pieces under the jurisdiction of the Naval Historical Center in Washington D.C. (now Naval History and Heritage Command – NHHC). The Navy later notified Congress in 1994 that it intended to donate pieces of this deckhouse to qualifying organizations in accordance with federal law. To date over 150 relics pieces have been distributed through the United States as well as the Imperial War Museum in London.

Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CPF), initiated a program to provide USS Arizona (BB 39) superstructure relic pieces to U.S. Pacific Fleet (PACFLT) ships and submarines on the occasion of the 80th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 2021 in coordination with the NHHC ASRP, designed to reinforce the importance of the Navy’s history and heritage to naval personnel aboard ships, submarines, and other commands, signified in the Arizona relic piece.

Thunderchiefs and Skyhawk

It just doesn’t get much prettier than this.

Official caption: “Three Republic F-105B Thunderchief aircraft from the 508th Tactical Fighter Group, U.S. Air Force Reserve, and two U.S. Navy McDonnell Douglas TA-4J Skyhawk aircraft from Fleet Composite Squadron VC-1 flying in formation off Oahu, Hawaii (USA), on 25 January 1978.”

Source U.S. DefenseImagery photo VIRIN: DN-SC-82-02245 Author PH3 (AC) T.J. PFRANG. Via the National Archives.

Of note, both types saw extensive service in Vietnam with their respective branches, taking heavy losses in both cases. The photo was close to their swan song, as they were both set for imminent retirement. 

Griffin it up

ARABIAN GULF (Nov. 05, 2021) The Cyclone-class coastal patrol ship USS Firebolt (PC 10) fires a Griffin missile during a test and proficiency fire in the Arabian Gulf, Nov. 5, 2021. Firebolt, assigned to Commander, Task Force (CTF) 55, is supporting maritime security operations and theatre security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. (U.S. Army photo by Spc. Aleksander Fomin) 211105-A-PX137-0082

Technically the BGM-176B Griffin B, or the Sea Griffin, is the navalized ground-launched version of Raytheon’s low-cost (compared to more advanced missiles) 34-pound bunker/tank buster that was lighter than the Hellfire used by the Army was originally designed for use from helicopters, UAVs and Marine KC-130s/USAF MC-130s.

Originally pitched as an add-on for the LCS to enable it to zap especially rowdy pirates and asymmetric fast boat threats, the 13-pound warhead would only really be effective against a larger ship in the case of bridge shots and needs an operator with a semi-active laser to paint a target. With that, the Navy opted for a modified Longbow Hellfire– which can use the ship’s radar and be used against multiple targets at once– for the LCS, along with the Naval Strike Missile for heavy work.

However, adopted as the MK-60 Patrol Coastal Griffin Missile System (GMS), the chunky Griffin B has been getting it done on the 170-foot Cyclones, in twin four-cell topside mounts, since 2013. This gives each of these short boys eight decently powerful close-in (3-5nm) missiles, coupled with the ability to use the ship’s mast-mounted Bright Star EO/IR camera for targeting, which gives them a solid stand-off capability against Iranian Boghammars and similar threats. 

Personally, I’d like to see it installed on the Coast Guard’s very similar 158-foot Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters, at least for the six of the class intended to operate forward deployed with PATFORSWA in the Persian Gulf under CENTCOM. They could also likely be of use on the USCG’s increasingly WestPac units of the same class

Video of Firebolt’s recent test:

 

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021: From Casablanca to Taipei

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, Nov. 17, 2021: From Casablanca to Taipei

U.S. Navy Photo #80-G-219560 from the United States National Archives

Here we see the future Cannon/Bostwick-class destroyer escort USS Carter (DE 112) launching at the Dravo Corporation yard in Wilmington, Delaware, 29 February 1944.

Named for a 20-year-old TBF gunner, AOM3 Jack Carter (2686624), who was lost at sea during the Torch Landings after searching for a Vichy French submarine, Mrs. Evelyn Carter Patterson sponsored the new tin can, the late aircrewman’s aunt.

Carter was a TBF Avenger gunner flying from VGS-27 on the escort carrier USS Suwannee (ACV/CVE-27), which has spent the preceding days raining 325-pound depth charges on French cruisers, destroyers, submarines, and even ground targets between Fedala and Casablanca in Morocco. The carrier’s report from the accident on the morning of 10 November 1942, via NARA

What were the Cannons?

USS Cannon (DE-99) Dravo builder’s photo. USN CP-DE-99-19-N-51457

The Cannon class, ordered in 1942 to help stem the tide of the terrible U-boat menace in the Atlantic, was also known as the DET type from their Diesel Electric Tandem drive. The DET’s substitution for a turbo-electric propulsion plant was the primary difference with the predecessor Buckley (“TE”) class. The DET was in turn replaced with a direct drive diesel plant to yield the design of the successor Edsall (“FMR”) class.

Besides a heavy ASW armament, these humble ships carried a trio of Mk.22 3″/50s, some deck-mounted torpedo tubes to be effective against larger surface combatants in a pinch, and a smattering of Bofors/Oerlikon AAA mounts.

In all, although 116 Cannon-class destroyer escorts were planned, only 72 were completed. Some of her more well-known sisters included the USS Eldridge, the ship claimed to be a part of the infamous Philadelphia Experiment. The vessels were all cranked out in blocks by four yards with Carter— along with class leaders Cannon and Bostwick— among the nine produced by Dravo.

Getting into the war

Commissioned 3 May 1944, with LCDR Francis John Torrence Baker, USNR (Sewickley, Pa.) as her only wartime skipper, Carter reported to the Atlantic Fleet. After two months of shakedowns to Bermuda and back, her first turn in the barrel was, appropriately for her namesake, shepherding Convoy UGS 50 bound for North Africa as the flagship of Escort Division (CortDiv) 79, a task she would repeat before the year was out with Convoy UGS 63 from Norfolk to Gibraltar, arriving at Oran to have Christmas dinner there three days late due to heavy storms.

On her way back through the Med returning home, she had a close brush with one of Donitz’s wolves when U-870 (KrvKpt. Ernst Hechler) pumped a torpedo into the Liberty ship SS Henry Miller on 3 January 1945.

From Carter’s War History, in the National Archives:

While Miller was a constructive loss with no injuries to her crew and managed to unload her cargo once towed to port, this was balanced out three months later when U-870 was herself sunk by Allied bombs while dockside at Bremen. 

Notably, with the likelihood of engaging a German cruiser or surface raider slim to none by this stage of the war, Carter landed her torpedo tubes at Philadelphia Navy Yard.

She was then assigned to regular antisubmarine patrols from Casco Bay in early 1945 as part of an all-DE submarine Killer Group, a tasking she would conduct for the remainder of the war in the Atlantic. It was with this that she was part of the endgame, moving against the last U-boat offensive against the Eastern Seaboard, one that the brass thought (falsely) might contain V1/V2 rocket carrying subs.

The rumors, mixed with intel that seven advanced U-boats, assigned to Gruppe Seewolf, the last Atlantic Wolfpack, were headed across the Atlantic, sparked Operation Teardrop, an extensive barrier program of ASW assets that ranged the East Coast in early 1945. In the end, Gruppe Seewolf was a dismal failure and the German rocket submarine program never got off the drawing board.

From Carter’s War History, on the engagement she shared with USS Neal A. Scott (DE 769) west of the Azores against U-518, an experienced and successful Type IXC under Oblt. Hans-Werner Offermann, on her seventh patrol. The submarine would not have an eighth:

In May, Carter and her group oversaw the surrender of two U-boats– U-234 (Kptlt. Johann-Heinrich Fehler) and U-858 (Kptlt. Thilo Bode), the latter a Type IXC/40 that had never successfully fired a torpedo in anger, and, true to form, was the first German warship to surrender to U.S. forces without a shot.

U-234, on the other hand, was a big Type XB U-boat built as a long-range cargo submarine with missions to Japan in mind. Commissioned 2 March 1944, she left Germany in the last days of the war in Europe with a mysterious cargo that included dozen high-level officers and advisors, technical drawings, examples of the newest electric torpedoes, one crated Me 262 jet aircraft, a Henschel Hs 293 glide bomb, and 1,210 lbs. of uranium oxide. She never made it to Japan as her skipper decided to make it for Canada instead after the fall of Germany. Two Japanese officers on board committed suicide and were buried at sea while the sub– packed with her particularly important glow-in-the-dark stuff– surrendered south of the Grand Banks, Newfoundland on 14 May, a week after VE Day.

Former U-234 is torpedoed by USS Greenfish (SS-542), in a test, on 20 November 1947, 40 miles northeast of Cape Cod.

Former U-234 is torpedoed by USS Greenfish (SS-542), in a test, on 20 November 1947, 40 miles northeast of Cape Cod.

Speaking of Japan, after three weeks in New York City, during which the veteran destroyer escort saw “an almost complete turnover in personnel” as it was thought “the Carter would be readied for Pacific duty,” instead the tin can was dispatched to Florida to clock in for lifeguard work on plane guard duty for new aircraft carriers working up in the warm waters down south, carrying 64 members of the USNA’s Class of 1946 with her on their Mid cruise.

Post-VJ Day saw Carter make for the big round of victory celebrations including “Nimitz Day” in Washington, D.C. (where 10,000 locals visited the ship), followed by Navy Day in Pensacola anchored alongside with USS Guadalcanal (CVE 60), Floyd B. Parks (DD 884), and Gunnel (SS 253) where the tiny warship, her glad rags flying, was “open for inspection with myriads of people getting the thrill of being on a warship.”

With the fighting over, at least for now, Carter continued her role as a plane guard in Florida into April 1946, where she was placed “out of commission in reserve” at NAS Green Cove Springs in the St. Johns River and added to the 500-strong mothball fleet that swayed at a series of 13 piers built there just for the purpose.

Carter received one battle star for World War II service.

Jane’s 1946 listing for the 57 strong semi-active Bostwick class, including Carter and noting numerous transfers to overseas allies.

A long second life

While Carter’s initial service would last 23 and ¾ months, others could desperately put the low-mileage destroyer escort to good use.

Ultimately 14 of the Cannon/Bostwick class went to France and Brazil during the war, followed by another eight to the French– who apparently really liked the type– four to Greece (including USS Slater which returned home in the 1990s to become the only destroyer escort afloat in the United States), three to Italy, two to Japan, six to the Dutch, three to Peru, five to the Philippines, two to South Korea, one to Thailand, and two to Uruguay.

When it comes to Carter, she and three sisters: Bostwick, Thomas (DE-102), and Breeman (DE-112), in a short ceremony on 14 December 1948, were transferred to Nationalist (Chiang Kai-shek’s KMT) China. Carter became Tài zhāo (also seen transliterated as Taizhao, T’ai Chao, and Tai Chao) after the capital city in central Jiangsu province in eastern China, with the hull/pennant number DE-26.

The four destroyer escorts were soon put into emergency use. During the last phase of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, the 26 loyal ships of the ROCN engaged in the protection of supply convoys and the withdrawal of the Nationalist government and over 1 million refugees to Taiwan.

Carter/Tài zhāo was captured in great detail during this time period in Nationalist use by LIFE magazine.

In this image, she still has her 3″/50 Mk22s up front

Fuzing 40mm Bofors rounds. Note the traditional crackerjack and flat cap used by the Nationalists

Crackerjacks combined with M1 helmets and US Navy Mk II talker helmets

The No. 3 mount now has an additional 3″/50 rather than the 40mm Bofors it held as Carter. Also, that is A LOT of depth charges for those 8 throwers and two rails! Ash cans a-go-go

Needing bigger guns for the work envisioned of them, the Chinese quickly upgraded their two forward 3-inchers to a pair of 5″/38 singles in open mounts, as well as substituting the stern 40mm mount for one of the same which gave the ships a 2+2 format with twin 5-inchers over the bow and a 5-inch over a 3-inch over the stern. 

The 1950s saw the fleet heavily involved in the pitched and tense engagements around Kinmen (Quemoy), Matsu (where Carter/Tài zhāo fired 160 5-inch shells against a Red artillery battery ashore), and the Yijiangshan and Dachen Islands in the Taiwan Straits as well as the clandestine Guoguang operations in which the KMT tried to retake the mainland by landing would-be guerilla organization teams in Red territory.

Propaganda shells fired into Red-controlled areas. By John Dominis LIFE

In all, Carter and her three sisters continued to hold the front lines of the Taiwan Straits for 25 years and, for the first decade of that, were the most powerful assets available to the ROCN, a title they held until two Benson-class destroyers (USS Benson and USS Hilary P. Jones) were transferred in 1954. They were also later fitted in the 1960s with Mk.32 12.75-inch ASW torpedo tubes for Mk 44s– which were a lot more effective than depth charges.

Taizhao anchored at the Kaohsiung Xinbin Wharf, late 1940s.

Jane’s 1973-4 listing for the Taiwan Bostwicks, including Carter.

As part of the pressure on Communist China in the tail end of the U.S. involvement in Vietnam, the Nixon administration transferred a huge flotilla of more advanced warships to Taiwan between late 1970 and early 1973 that included two GUPPY’d Tench-class submarines (one of which is still active), five Gearing-class destroyers, six Sumner-class destroyers, four Fletchers, and USS McComb (DD-458)— a late Gleaves-class destroyer that had been converted to a fast minesweeper. With all these “new-to-you” hulls, the long-serving destroyer escorts could be retired and, by the end of 1973, Carter and her three sisters in Formosan service had been disposed of for scrap.

While Tài zhāo’s name was not recycled by the ROCN– probably as it is the name of a 4-million person city on the mainland– the ChiCom People’s Liberation Army Navy has had two Taizhous including a Type 053 frigate commissioned in 1982 and a Russian-built Sovremenny-class destroyer (ex-Vnushitelnyy) commissioned in 2005.

PLAN destroyer Tài zhāo, photographed by the Japanese in 2015.

Epilogue

A number of Carter’s WWII war diaries, as well as her war history and plans, are in the National Archives.

Besides the museum ship USS Slater (DE-766), now sitting dockside in Albany New York, and the pier side training ship USS Hemminger (DE-746) (now HTMS Pin Klao DE-1) in Thailand, there are no Cannon-class destroyer escorts still afloat.

USS Slater is the only destroyer escort preserved in North America– and is Carter’s sistership

The Destroyer Escort Sailors Association honors the men of all the DEs, regardless of class. Sadly, their 45th annual convention last year was their last as their numbers are rapidly declining.

In 1967, Revelle released a 1:248 scale model of “Nationalist Chinese frigate Tai Chao,” complete with box art that showed her racing among bracketed ChiCom shell plumes, no doubt a fitting tribute to those years of the warship’s life spent fighting an undeclared shadow war in the Taiwan Straits.

Specs:

Cannon class DE’s via USS Slater.com

Displacement: 1,240 tons standard, 1,620 tons full load
Length: 306.1 ft
Beam: 36.1 ft
Draft: 11.5 ft full load
Propulsion: 4 GM Mod. 16-278A diesel engines with electric drive 4.5 MW (6000 shp), two screws
Speed: 21 knots
Range: 10,800 nm at 12 knots
Complement: 15 officers 201 enlisted men
Armament:
(1944)
3 × single Mk.22 3″/50 caliber guns
3 × twin 40 mm Mk.1 AA gun
8 × 20 mm Mk.4 AA guns
3 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
1 × Hedgehog Mk.10 anti-submarine mortar (144 rounds)
8 × Mk.6 depth charge projectors
2 × Mk.9 depth charge tracks


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Plastic Reminders

While visiting the offices of my local parish, I came across this and thought it was a good idea. For a sub-$20 donation, something small like this can have a big impact on people’s hearts and minds. These little plastic soldiers are a tangible reminder that can lead to folks reaching out to help support their local Veterans groups, USOs, and military non-profits. 

Santa Barbara pokes out

Passing through Mobile last week, I saw this big grey beast emerging.

The future USS Santa Barbara (LCS 32), rolling out of her assembly bay. (Photo: Austal)

The 16th Independence-class littoral combat ship was laid down last October and, with the rollout, is nearing her official launching and christening. There are only three more of her class on the schedule.

While replacing frigates on the Naval List, they are being named instead after small cities, a tradition used for light cruisers, gunboats, and transports/auxiliaries. The previous two Santa Barbaras have been of the latter type.

The first, a 13,000-ton single-screw freighter, was taken over from the Atlantic & Pacific Steamship Co. in 1918 and served with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service (NOTS) during the Great War.

USS Santa Barbara (ID # 4522) “Crowded with homeward-bound troops, while arriving in a U.S. East Coast port in 1919.” The original image is printed on postcard (AZO) stock. Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2008. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 106367

Returned to her owners, she continued in the merchant trade as SS American until she was sunk by U-504 off Belize in 1942.

Ammunition ship USS Santa Barbara (AE-28) underway with the aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) battle group. The ship, which is part of Task Group 24.4, is in an 18-ship formation that is transiting the North Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. 8.12.1988 DN-ST-89-01280 by PH2 William Lipski

The second Santa Barbara— and the first ordered by the Navy– was the Kilauea-class ammunition ship (AE-28). Commissioned 11 July 1970, she was transferred to the MSC in 1998 as T-AE-28 for another seven years of service with a civilian crew.

She was sold for scrap in 2007.

With that, it will be kinda nice that the third ship named for the California city that is, in turn, named after the patron saint of artillery, will be carried by a warship, even if it is an LCS.

Galvanic Battlewagon

Some 78 years ago today:

A Douglas SBD-5 Dauntless dive bomber from the Essex-class fleet carrier USS Lexington (CV-16)— or possibly her sistership Yorktown (CV-10)— in the background, flies anti-submarine patrol over the North Carolina-class fast battleship USS Washington (BB-56) while en route to the invasion of Tarawa and Makin Islands in the Gilbert Island chain (Operation Galvanic). 12 November 1943.

USN photo # 80-G-204897, now in the collection of the National Archives.

Laid down by Philadelphia Naval Ship Yard, 14 June 1938, Washington commissioned 15 May 1941 and earned 13 battle stars during World War II in operations that carried her from the Arctic Circle to the western Pacific. Decommissioned in mid-1947 and assigned to the New York group of the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, she was stricken and sold in 1961 for scrap.

Ironically, both Lexington and Yorktown are preserved as floating museum ships.

70 Years Ago Today: Black Dragon Pays a Visit to the 38th Parallel

A break from Warship Wednesday to celebrate both the USMC’s birthday and the below event.

Here we see the Iowa-class battleship USS New Jersey (BB-62) firing a full broadside salvo of nine 16″/50cal guns during naval gunfire support against enemy targets in Korea, purportedly adjacent to the 38th Parallel. Smoke from shell explosions is visible ashore, in the upper left. The photo is dated 10 November 1951.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-435681

New Jersey, which like the rest of her class except for Missouri, had been placed into reserve in the late 1940s as a money-saving measure, was the first battleship reactivated for the Korean War. She arrived in Japan on 12 May 1951 and became the flagship of the Seventh Fleet under ADM Harold Martin, and reached the east coast of Korea five days later to start the first of her two tours of duty during that conflict.

During this first tour, New Jersey fired three times the number of 16-inch shells than she had in all of World War II. Let that one sink in.

For a deeper dive, including period footage of battlewagons at play off the Korean peninsula, check out this 1952 Navy film. 

She would end her first Korean tour on 22 November 1951, relieved by her sister ship Wisconsin, fresh from mothballs.

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