A sight that will go unseen moving forward, barring Marine air units deploying with carrier groups:
On 11 April 2018, Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 Blue Blasters (‘NE-4xx’) arrived back home at NAS Oceana (VA) after a three-month deployment with CVW-2 on board the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70).
The F/A-18C squadron embarked on 5 January 2018 the Vinson. The deployment marked the sundown cruise of the US Navy F/A-18C Hornet.
CVW-3’s VFA-131 Wildcats (‘AC-3xx’) and and CVW-8’s VFA-37 Bulls (‘AJ-4xx’) still operate the legacy F/A-18C Hornet but these squadrons will not deploy anymore with these types.
VFA-34 will transition to F/A-18E Super Hornet in the upcoming months, likewise followed by VFA-131 and VFA-37.
A brief WW this week gives us the view of the aircraft carrier USS Coral Sea (CVA-43) underway in the Pacific, April 18, 1963, just out of Pearl Harbor with various aircraft of Carrier Group Fifteen (CVG-15, NL) spotted on deck.
Would you look at that enormous Douglas A-3 Skywarrior (Whale) from VAH-2 on the center deck!
Other aircraft are F-4B Phantoms from VF-151, A-4C/Es Skyhawks from VA-153 and 155, F-8C Crusaders from VF-154 along with photo birds from VFP-63, and A-1H Vigilantees from VA-165. The radar domes of VAW-11’s E-1B “Stoofs with a roof” are easy to spot.
All of the above aircraft types have long been discarded in U.S service (although Japan, Turkey, Iran and others still fly F-4s in limited numbers and roles).
Of the squadrons, most don’t exist anymore. Two notable exceptions are the Vigilantes of VF-151 that fly F-18E/Fs from CVW-9 (Stennis) while the Knights of VF-154 fly the same type from CVW-11 (Nimitz). In 1968, the VAH-2 was redesignated as Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 132 (VAQ-132) and have been in the jamming game ever since, flying EKA-3Bs, then later EA-6Bs and currently EA-18G Growlers.
As for CVG-15, on 23 Dec. 1963, it became CVW-15 and would deploy on the Coral Sea an amazing 10 times (Vietnam-1964, Vietnam-1967, Vietnam-1968, Vietnam-1969, Vietnam-1970, Eastpac-1971, Vietnam-1972, Vietnam-1973, WestPac-1975, WestPac-1977). After the Coral Sea was retired, CVW-15 spent two decades swapping between Carl Vinson and Kitty Hawk before it was disestablished in 1995 as part of the post-Cold War drawdown.
The Coral Sea, decommissioned in 1990 after 43 years of hard service, was dismantled slowly over a seven-year period and was the largest vessel ever scrapped up until that date. Her sistership, USS Midway, of course, survives as a museum.
Off Pula, Croatia, 2002 — An F-14 Tomcat fighter assigned to the Jolly Rogers of Fighter Squadron One Zero Three (VF-103) leads a formation comprised of F/A-18 Hornet strike fighters from the Blue Blasters of VFA-34, the Sunliners of VFA-81, and the Rampagers of VFA-83:
More on the photo:
“U.S. aircraft belong to Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17), currently embarked on board. Two Croat MiG-21 Fishbed fighter-interceptors flank the each side of the formation. U.S. Navy aviation squadrons assigned to Carrier Air Wing Seventeen (CVW-17) have sent a detachment to Croatia in order to participate in Joint Wings 2002. Joint Wings is a multinational exercise between the U.S. and the Croat Air Force designed to practice intelligence gathering. George Washington is homeported in Norfolk, Va., and is nearing the end of a scheduled six month deployment after completing combat missions in support of Operations Enduring Freedom and Southern Watch.”
First off, this is a Kodachrome original, not a colorized photo. It shows the crew of the brand-new U.S. Navy Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Yorktown (CV-10) at attention as the National Ensign is raised, during her commissioning ceremonies at the Norfolk Navy Yard, Virginia, on 15 April 1943– some 75 years ago today.
For the record, Yorktown is freshly painted in Camouflage Measure 21. Two steel-hull submarine chasers (PC) are at right, on the other side of the pier.
The fourth U.S. Navy ship to bear the name of the famous Revolutionary War siege, she was initially to have been named Bonhomme Richard, but this was switched to Yorktown while under construction to commemorate the loss at Midway of the carrier USS Yorktown (CV-5).
After earning 11 battlestars in WWII (along with a Presidental Unit Citation), and five more stars in Vietnam, she decommissioned 27 June 1970 after 37 years of service. Since 1975 she has been a museum ship at Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina.
Please visit her should you have the chance.
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, April 11, 2018: Ms. Lane, of Paraguay, Nashville and Galveston fame
Here we see the classic steam warship, USRC Harriet Lane of the Revenue Marine Service, and 157 years ago this very day she fired the first shot (at sea) in the Civil War, securing her place in history.
A copper plated side-paddle steamer with an auxiliary schooner rig, Lane was built for the US Treasury Department, by William H. Webb at Bell’s shipyard in New York City in 1857 at a cost of $140,000. She was named in honor of Ms. Harriet Rebecca Lane Johnston, the popular niece of lifelong bachelor President James Buchanan, who served as his first lady since he was unmarried at the time.
Her armament, a pair of old 32-pounders and a quartet of 24-pdr brass howitzers, was deemed sufficient for her work in stopping smugglers and destroying derelicts at sea, but she was constructed with three magazines and open deck space for additional guns should they be needed.
And soon, she was loaned to the Navy.
Before Lane was even laid down, the gunboat USS Water Witch, who was busy surveying the Río de la Plata basin in South America in 1855, was fired upon as by a Paraguayan battery at Fort Itapirú. Intended as a warning shot (Water Witch had approval from the Argentines but not Paraguay to survey the river), the ball accidentally hit the gunboat and killed the very unfortunate helmsman Samuel Chaney. A resulting fire-fight saw Water Witch hulled 10 times. Fast forward to October 1858 and a punitive expedition was ordered sent to Paraguay to sort things out, even though Water Witch had returned home in 1856.
This expeditionary force, the largest ever assembled by the U.S. Navy until the Civil War, consisted of 19 ships, which seems like a lot but really isn’t when you look at the list of vessels that went. While the Navy had a half-dozen large ships-of-the-line on the Naval List, all were in ordinary at the time. Of the impressive dozen super-sized frigates, just one, the 50-gun USS St. Lawrence, already in Brazil, could be spared. This left the rest of the fleet to be comprised of smaller sloops and brigs, ships taken up from trade and armed with cannon or two, and the brand new and very modern Harriet Lane. The commander of the task force? Flag Officer (there were no admirals at the time) William B. Shubrick, a War of 1812 veteran who was taken from his warm quiet desk at the Lighthouse Bureau in Washington and given his last seagoing command.
The force was filled with supplies and Marines (Lane herself shipped a 22-man force of Leathernecks) and set off for Latin America with special commissioner James B. Bowlin in tow. Lane at the time was skippered by Captain John Faunce, a skilled USRM officer since 1841, who would later command her at Fort Sumter– but we are ahead of ourselves.
Arriving in January 1859, Paraguay signed a commercial treaty with Brown, apologized for the hit on Water Witch with no more shots fired by either side and agreed to pay an indemnity to the family of the long-dead helmsman and the fleet returned home in February after some literal gunboat diplomacy.
Though Lane resumed her Revenue duties, she was soon again in Naval service.
With states dropping out of the Union left and right from December 1860 onward, she transferred to the Navy 30 March 1861 and was assigned to the Northern Blockading Squadron. Detailed to help supply the Fort Sumter garrison, a small U.S. Army post in rebel-held Charleston Harbor under the guns of coastal defense expert and former U.S. Army Maj (bvt) P. G. T. Beauregard, Lane left New York on 8 April headed to the Palmetto State, arriving three days later. The reason an armed ship was sent was because President Buchannan had detailed the unarmed merchant ship Star of the West to do so earlier in the year, an effort that failed when it was fired upon by Beauregard’s shore batteries made up partially of students from the Citadel.
On the morning of 11 April 1861, Harriet Lane arrived ahead of her task force that was following with supplies and 500 soldiers. Taking up a picket location around the island fort, on the morning of April 13, while the installation was under attack, Faunce order a shot from one of her 32-pounders, commanded by Lt. W. D. Thompson, across the bow of the oncoming steamship SS Nashville (1,241t, 215ft) as that vessel tried to enter Charleston Harbor. The reason for the round was because Nashville was flying no identifying flag, meaning she could possibly be a rebel ship.
Unarmed and not looking to be sent to the bottom, Nashville raised the U.S. standard, and Harriet Lane broke off. Anticlimactic for sure, but the ole Nash went on to become a Confederate commerce raider armed with a pair of 12-pounders before serving in 1862 as the blockade runner Thomas L. Wragg and finally as the privateer Rattlesnake before she was destroyed by the monitor USS Montauk on the Ogeechee River in Georgia.
But back to our hero.
Fort Sumter fell on April 13, surrendered after a bloodless two-day bombardment that saw 2,000 Confederate shells hit the masonry fort and Lane withdrew. She soon was up-armed and before the end of the year engaged in the efforts against Fort Clark and Fort Hatteras on the outer banks of North Carolina.
Then in early 1862 joined David Dixon Porter’s Mortar Flotilla at Key West as flagship, from where she captured the Confederate schooner, Joanna Ward.
With Porter aboard, Lane was there as his flagship when he plastered the rebel Forts Jackson and St. Philip, abreast the Mississippi below New Orleans, then continued to serve through the preliminary stages of the Vicksburg Campaigns.
On 4 October 1862, in conjunction with the sidewheel steam ferryboat USS Westfield, Unadilla-class gunboat USS Owasco, the paddlewheel gunboat USS Clifton, and the schooner USS Henry Janes, Lane captured Galveston harbor from the Confederates in a show of force that left zero casualties on both sides.
Still in that newly-Union held port in Confederate Texas, Harriet Lane was the subject of an attack on 1 January 1863 that saw the Confederate cottonclad CSS Bayou City and the armed tugboat Neptune engage the bigger cutter. While Lane sank the Neptune and damaged Bayou City, she was captured when the crew of the cottonclad succeeded in storming and overpowering the crew of the Lane with both the cutter’s captain and executive officer killed along with three of her crew in fierce hand-to-hand combat.
Her crew was taken into custody.
Lane, repaired and disarmed, was sold by the state of Texas to an enterprising shipper who christened her as the blockade runner Lavinia and, after just two trips carrying cotton abroad and commodities back, she finished the war in Cuban waters.
In 1867, the Revenue Marine sent her old Sumter commander, Faunce, and a crew to recover the battered, worn-out ship from Havana in condemned condition and she was subsequently sold to a Boston merchant.
As noted by DANFS, she was abandoned after a fire during hurricane-force winds off Pernambuco, Brazil, 13 May 1884, while enroute to Buenos Aires.
Relics of her time in Texas are in the collection of The Museum of Southern History, located in Houston.
The Revenue Marine, of course, became the U.S. Coast Guard in 1916 and the service honored the historic vessel by naming a second cutter, USCGC Harriet Lane (WSC-141), a 125-foot patrol craft, in 1926 which gave 20 years of hard service to include WWII and Prohibition.
The third cutter to share the name is the 270-foot Bear (Famous)-class medium endurance cutter USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC-903). Commissioned in May 1984, she is still in active service and last week commemorated the first Lane’s historic shot in front of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.
She is no lightweight either, recently returned to homeport from a 94-day patrol in drug trafficking zones of the Eastern Pacific, after seizing approximately 17,203 pounds of cocaine from suspected smugglers.
Displacement 539 lt. 619 std, 730 t. fl
Length 175′ 5″
Beam 30′ 5″
Draft 10′ as designed, 13 at full load 1862
Propulsion: steam – double-right angled marine engine with two side paddles, auxiliary sail two-masted schooner rig
Speed 11 anticipated, 13kts on trials
Complement: 8 officers, 74 men (1857) 12 officers, 95 men (1862)
4x 24-pounder brass howitzers
(After joining West Gulf Squadron, 1862)
1×4″ Parrott gun as a pivot on forecastle
1×9″ Dahlgren gun on pivot before the first mast
2×8″ Dahlgren Columbiad guns
2×24-pounder brass howitzers
Plus “cutlasses and small arms for 95 men”
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Operation Market Time:
A Cat Lo-based U.S. Navy large personnel landing craft (LCPL) cruises in Vung Tau Harbor in South Vietnam during an Operation Market Time patrol. The LCPL is armed with a .50-caliber air-cooled Browning M2 machine gun complete with shield and a pair of muzzle-oriented spotlights– “the better to see you with.”
By the looks of it, LCPL#33 is a 36-foot fiberglass MK11-type, which could float in as little as three-feet of brown water and make a blazing 19-knots on its Detriot Diesel, though the bone in the mouth of that sharkjaw looks to be more impressive than that.
Currently, the nation’s sea services get their officers through federal military academies to include Annapolis, the USCGA at New London and the USMMA at Kings Point. Then, of course, there is ROTC and the five state maritime academies (SMAs), the latter of which are geared to supplying merchant officers though do produce lots of Naval and Coast Guard reserve officers as well.
The thing is, while the USNA has a fleet of YPs and the whole Navy to send mids to, and the USCGA has the square rigger Eagle, the SMAs are using recycled training ships on their last legs, which doesn’t really train merchant officers to conn state of the art seagoing vessels that use minimally-manned diesel-electric plants and are geared to Ro/Ro operations. That is about to change.
The new National Security Multi-Mission Vessel program, funded through U.S. Maritime Administration, will see at least five new training ships for the SMAs (plus maybe one for Kings Point?) that will be able to tap in to respond to natural disasters and emergency sealift as needed and the first, for SUNY Maritime College in New York, has been funded at $300 million. Currently, SUNY sends cadets out on two 45-day and one 90-day cruise during their four years at the institute.
The NSMV design is for diesel-electric drive ships with berthing capacity for up to 600 cadets, or 1,000 persons when the MARAD-owned vessels are deployed on emergency relief efforts, as training ships were after hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria in 2017. Additionally, SMA vessels were used in the aftermath of Katrina and Rita in 2005.
Length o.a.: 159.85 m (524.5 ft.)
Beam: 27 m (88.6 ft.)
Draft: 6.5 m (21.4 ft.)
Design service speed: 8 knots/15% sea margin
Cruising Speed: 12 knots
Propulsion: Diesel Electric
Propulsion engines: 4 x Diesel Generators
Total installed Power: 15,680 kW
Propellers: 1 propeller, fixed pitch
Rudders: 1 flap type rudder on centerline
Fuel: Single fuel – marine gas oil (MGO), max Sulfur content 0.1%
Bow Thruster: retractable combi type – tunnel thruster in up position, azimuthing thruster in down position, “Take Home” source of power, 1450 kW
Stern Thruster: Tunnel type, 890 kW
Fuel Consumption: 60 tons/day @ 18 knots, 26 tons/day at 12 knots
Fresh Water (including sanitary water): 35 gal/day per person for 700 = 93 tons + 5 tons Ship Service FW = 98 tons/day
Fuel range: About 11,000 nm range @ 18 knots design speed with 10% remaining fuel
Food & Stores: 60 days food storage for 700 persons, 297 sq. m. (3,200 sq. ft.) reefer provisions, 240 sq. m. (2,580 sq. ft.) dry provisions
Propulsion motors: 2 x 4,500 kW propulsion motors. Motors in separate watertight compartments.
Electric Power: 6,600 V main power generation, 440 V ship service electric power, 120 V lighting and accommodations
RoRo deck: RoRo space aft with a length of about 40 m (130 ft), width inside framing of 24 m (80 ft), clear height of at least 4.7 m (15.3 ft). The usable deck area is about 1,000 sq. m. (10,700 sq. ft.). Suitable for about 10 x 40 ft trailers with 26 autos or about 49 autos/light trucks.
Total container capacity: about 64 TEU for two high.
Crane: 1 x Jib Boom type with 35 MT SWL x 24 m outreach
RoRo ramp: 20 ft. wide watertight wide side ramp with 40-ton capacity