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Camo Truder

A U.S. Navy Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo 159899) from attack squadron VA-165 “Boomers” aboard the aircraft carrier USS Constellation (CV-64) on 15 February 1990. Note the non-standard camouflage paint.

DOD Photo DN-SC-04-13039 by PH3 Dewitt, USN

In the background is a Lockheed S-3A Viking (BuNo 160578) from anti-submarine squadron VS-33 “Screwbirds”. Both squadrons were assigned to Carrier Air Wing 9 (CVW-9) for a voyage aboard Constellation from San Diego, California, to Norfolk, Virginia, around Cape Horn from February to April 1990.

Interestingly enough, there is a more standard full-color image of the same Intruder in Navy service from 1981 when she was with the “Green Lizards” of VA-95.

Two U.S. Navy Grumman A-6E Intruder (BuNo 159899, 161103) from Attack Squadron VA-95 Green Lizards in flight. VA-95 was assigned to Carrier Air Wing 11 (CVW-11) aboard the aircraft carrier USS America (CV-66) for a deployment to the Mediterranean Sea and the Indian Ocean from 14 April to 12 November 1981. Via Wiki Commons

Fast forward to today and Intruders, Vikings, Connie, America, the Boomers, Green Lizards, and Screwbirds are long gone, with VS-33 the last one to go, disestablished in 2006.

The reports of Chung Hai’s demise have been premature

During World War II, the 50-ship-strong LST-491 class of tank landing ships, and the hundreds of follow-on LST-542-class near-sisters, proved both effective and remarkably versatile. Some 3,640-tons, these 328-foot vessels could shelp a full-strength infantry company or between 1600 and 1900 tons of cargo, landing them directly to the beach while launching landing craft from their davits to lead the way.

Over time, they served not only as amphibious warfare ships but also mini “L-Bird” aircraft carriers, repair ships, PT-boat tenders, minesweeper support craft, and ersatz ambulances.

USS LST-755, built by the American Bridge Co., Ambridge, PA, was commissioned in August 1944 and would spend 1945 earning her stripes in the Lingayen Gulf and Mindanao landings in the liberation of the Philippines.

After a stint in occupation duty, LST-755, along with her sisters, passed into mothballs in 1946.

By 1948, LST-755 was stricken and passed over to the Republic of China (Taiwan) as the ROCS Chung Hai (LST-201).

Chung Hai would serve Taiwan for over 60 years, and would account for a Chicom patrol boat in a 1958 surface action

She would be joined by more than 30 sisters and, over the course of an amazing second career with the ROCN, steamed 75,126hrs and 556,728nms before she was retired in 2010.

Over the past decade, it was thought she would be retained as a museum ship but the plans repeatedly fell through.

The ship was sold for scrapping, 19 May 2020 after bidding for NT$14 Million according to United Daily News. In poor condition after 76 years afloat, she was reportedly slowly taking in water and sinking.

However, as reported by local media: 

The sale drew condemnation from historians and military enthusiasts who saw the ship as an important cultural heritage artifact.

Even the scrap dealer was concerned about the backlash of public opinion if he were to dismantle the ship.

The navy then decided to postpone signing the sales contract with the winning bidder for one month, while relevant government agencies come up with a plan to possibly keep and restore the ship as an historic monument.

The Kinmen County Government issued a press release earlier this evening saying that it is coordinating with the Ministry of Defense to seek an alternative solutions, and to preserve “this important historical asset.”

Navy zaps drone via laser

Just missed May the 4th, but this just happened last week.

“Amphibious transport dock ship USS Portland (LPD 27) successfully disabled an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a Solid State Laser – Technology Maturation Laser Weapon System Demonstrator (LWSD) MK 2 MOD 0 on May 16. ”

As noted by U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs:

LWSD is a high-energy laser weapon system demonstrator developed by the Office of Naval Research and installed on Portland for an at-sea demonstration. LWSD’s operational employment on a Pacific Fleet ship is the first system-level implementation of a high-energy class solid-state laser. The laser system was developed by Northrup Grumman, with full System and Ship Integration and Testing led by NSWC Dahlgren and Port Hueneme.

“By conducting advanced at sea tests against UAVs and small crafts, we will gain valuable information on the capabilities of the Solid State Laser Weapons System Demonstrator against potential threats,” said Capt. Karrey Sanders, commanding officer of Portland.

Remember, today is not about saving (up to) 40 percent on select items

It’s a small plot of land that’s never left unguarded. The Sentinels who guard the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier are a small and exclusive group. They stand their post 24 hours a day, 365 days a year regardless of the weather. Hear the Sentinel’s Creed and you’ll know why. DOD video edited by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jared Bunn

Warship Wednesday, May 20, 2020: The Long Pennant

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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

(Shorter than normal due to events beyond my control)

Warship Wednesday, May 20, 2020: The Long Pennant

National Archives photo 80-G-700448

Here we see the deck of the Independence-class light aircraft carrier USS Langley (CVL-27) on this day, 75 years ago, flying her homeward-bound pennant after spending one hell of a tour forward-deployed in the Pacific. As a rule, such pennants are only authorized for cruises lasting more than nine months, and Langley had managed almost twice that.

As noted by the Navy:

By tradition, the Homeward Bound Pennant is flown by ships that are on continuous overseas duty for nine months and returning to a U.S. port. The length of the pennant is one foot for each Sailor on the ship who has served on board while overseas in excess of nine months. It is divided vertically into two sections. Closest to the hoist is a blue field with one white star indicating nine months of service away from the U.S. An additional star is for each additional six months away. The remaining pennant is divided horizontally into halves, the upper being white and the lower being red. Upon the ship’s return to homeport, the blue portion of the pennant with the white star will be presented to the skipper while the remaining white and red half of the pennant will be divided equally among the officers and crew who served on the vessel for the prerequisite 270 days.

Built at New York Shipbuilding Corporation on a converted cruiser hull, our ship was originally to be the Cleaveland-class light cruiser USS Fargo (CL-85) but was converted to a light carrier named in tandem after the aviation pioneer Samuel Pierpont Langley, and the Navy’s first flattop, the converted collier “covered wagon” USS Langley (CV-1).

Commissioned 31 August 1943, the 11,000-ton carrier sailed for points west, and by 19 January 1944, she sailed from Pearl Harbor for her first overseas combat operation as part of with then-RADM Marc Mitscher’s Task Force 58, bound for the attack on the Marshall Islands.

For the next 16 months, she would be forward deployed across the Pacific, earning nine battle stars and a Navy Unit Commendation in the process.

Langley’s aircraft hit Japanese positions on Palau, Yap, Woleai, Caroline Islands, Saipan, Tinian, and Peleliu. She would mix it up in the Battle of the Philippine Sea, run amok off Formosa and the Pescadores, then support the liberation of the Philippines.

Task Group 38.3 enters Ulithi anchorage in a column, 12 December 1944 while returning from strikes on targets in the Philippines. Ships are (from front): Langley (CVL-27); Ticonderoga (CV-14); Washington (BB-56); North Carolina (BB-55); South Dakota (BB-57); Santa Fe (CL-60); Biloxi (CL-80); Mobile (CL-63) and Oakland (CL-95). Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives (photo # 80-G-301351).

Again she would clash with the remnants of the Japanese surface fleet at the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea and the ensuing Battle off Cape Engaño where her planes would help write the final chapter of the carriers Zuihō and Zuikaku, the latter being the only remaining flattop of the six that had participated in the Pearl Harbor attack.

She endured Typhoon Cobra, a week before Christmas 1944.

THE LANGLEY IN THE MIDST OF THE GREAT TYPHOON OF DECEMBER, 1944.
Why are these sailors smiling? Perhaps they are happy not to be in the gun tub under the stacks – or wherever the crazy photographer is standing! M.D. “Pat” Donavan, who was a VT44 pilot, wrote “We called it the Christmas Typhoon and a lot of Christmas mail and packages were lost when the Hull, Spence, and Monahan, three DDs, capsized and were lost with all hands. As I recall, only the ship’s officers knew that the Langley was designed to take a 35-degree roll and actually went to 38. Fortunately, the word didn’t get around to the air group.”
Photo courtesy and copyright of The USS Langley CVL-27 Association 

Still chugging along, Langley went along for the raid on Indochina and occupied China in early 1945, where she caught a Japanese dive bomber’s deadly egg in the process, then turned towards Japan for strikes against the Home Islands to prep for taking Okinawa. Following operations for that scarred island, which included narrowly escaping crippling kamikaze strikes, she was allowed to retire homeward for repairs and modernization at the Hunters Point Naval Shipyard in San Francisco– and broke out her homeward bound pennant shown at the top.

Due to the shipyard break, her shooting war ended on May 20 and she only returned to the Western Pacific under a U.S. flag for Magic Carpet voyages to bring the boys back. She would make two trips to the Pacific on such happy sorties and two further ones to Europe before Langley was decommissioned on 11 February 1947 in Philadelphia.

Refurbished and transferred on loan to France in 1951, she would serve De Gaulle for another decade as the French aircraft carrier LaFayette (R96), notably seeing combat off Indochina– a coastline she had already worked over in 1945– as well as in the struggle for Paris to retain her North African colonies.

The French aircraft carrier LAFAYETTE (R 96) former USS LANGLEY (CVL-27) at Mers el Kebir, Algeria North Africa 1962. Note the airwing of F4U Corsairs, TBM Avengers, and Piasecki H-21 Shawnee.

Returned to the U.S. in 1963, she was scrapped, although relics of her remain.

Still, she had an epic 1944-45 deployment that is hard to beat.

CAPT. WALLACE (GOTCH) DILLON, COMMANDING OFFICER. The symbols painted on the side of the island represent 48 enemy aircraft shot down, 22 bombing missions, 3 warships, and 8 merchant ships sunk, and 63 aircraft destroyed on the ground. Photo courtesy and copyright of The USS Langley CVL-27 Association

Specs:
Displacement: 11,000 long tons (11,000 t)
Length: 622 ft 6 in (189.74 m)
Beam: 109 ft 2 in (33.27 m)
Draft: 26 ft (7.9 m)
Speed: 31.6 kn (58.5 km/h; 36.4 mph)
Complement: 1,569 officers and men
Armament: 26 × Bofors 40 mm guns
Aircraft carried: 30-40

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. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

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!

Meanwhile, the 100th Posiedon has arrived

 

169347 Boeing P-8A Poseidon of USN VP-30 June 13 2019 Eger

BuNo 169347 Boeing P-8A Poseidon of USN VP-30, June 13, 2019, climbs over Biloxi Beach, Mississippi, outbound from Gulfport. Photo by Chris Eger

From NAVAIR:

The Navy’s 100th P-8A “Poseidon” was delivered to Patrol Squadron (VP) 30 at Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, May 14.

In July 2004, the Navy placed its initial order of P-8A aircraft to replace the venerable Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion, which has been in service since 1962. The Maritime Patrol community began the transition to the P-8A in 2012. The delivery of the 100th P-8A coincides with VP-40’s successful completion of the 12th and final active component squadron transition to the Poseidon.

The final transition concluded amidst a global pandemic, which could have halted or delayed the schedule, however, VP-40 remained on track.

“We finished up VP-40’s transition this month, and it has been a challenge. Despite the travel restrictions, the additional required procedures, and the aircraft transfers, VP-30 answered the call. The VP-30.1 detachment at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington was grinding every day to keep the transition on schedule,“ said VP-30 Commanding Officer Capt. T. J. Grady.

More here.

Welcome back to Subic

In the latest installment in the on-again/off-again relationship between the PI and the U.S., it seems that the U.S. Navy could see more of Subic Bay as a result of a commercial deal for a U.S./Australian consortium to take over the bankrupt South Korean-run Hanjin shipyard (HHIC Phil) in Olongapo.

For those following along at home, HHIC Phil was built in 2004 and was considered by the company to be the fourth largest shipyard in the world.

As noted by the Philippines Star this week:

Vice Admiral Giovanni Bacordo said the two companies are in the final stages of negotiations with the Philippine government and several banks to take over the operations of Hanjin. The companies reportedly intend to invest about $2 billion and employ the shipyard’s over 30,000 skilled and experienced Filipino workforce.

Australian shipbuilder Austal Ltd has won a contract to deliver six offshore patrol vessels for the Philippines Navy while US private equity Cerberus will operate the other half of Hanjin’s facility for ship repair.

“I was told the companies were about to complete due diligence and final negotiations before the outbreak of the coronavirus, which could delay the process,” Bacordo said.

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