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‘Demolition Crew – The Marianas’ 74 years ago today

Painting, Oil on Board; by Robert Benney; 1944; Framed Dimensions 40H X 58W, Accession #: 88-159-AF as a Gift of Abbott Laboratories. Naval History and Heritage Command

Official caption: Before D-Day and H-Hour, these tough, hardened, and highly trained men went in on the beaches at Saipan to pave the way for invasion. It was they who made possible the approaches to the beach and the subsequent landings of our Army and Marines. Pictured here, a group of men has approached the beach at low water at a previously charted area. They are attaching “satchel” charges to the “Crib” in the rear. In the foreground is a Japanese horned “Scully” and the man directly behind it is attaching a demolition cap to a “J-13 Mine.” In a few minutes, their hazardous job will have been completed and another highway to Tokyo opened, thanks to the “Demolition Demons.”

The landings began at 07:00 on 15 June 1944– 74 years ago today. More than 300 LVTs landed 8,000 Marines on the west coast of Saipan by about 09:00.

By 16:15 on 9 July, Admiral Turner announced that Saipan was officially secured at a cost of 3,426 U.S. and an estimated 60,000 Japanese casualties, many of whom were civilians who committed suicide.

Bonnie Dick on the scene, 49 years ago today

In a special Warship Wednesday, here we see the (then) 25-year-old Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) underway in the Gulf of Tonkin on 13 June 1969 during her fifth cruise to support operations from Yankee Station off the Vietnam coast. Note the F-8J Crusaders, A-4E/F Skyhawks and distinctive Grumman E-1B Tracer AEW “Stoof with a Roof” aircraft of Carrier Air Wing 5 on deck.

Commissioned in late 1944, “Bonnie Dick” was the first ship in the modern Navy to commemorate the name of John Paul Jones’ famous Revolutionary War frigate– and she got in enough licks in during WWII to earn one battlestar.

Her WWII cruise

She was much more active in Korea, carrying the F9F Panthers and AD-4 Skyraiders of first Carrier Air Group 102 (CVG-102) then CVG-7.

Stretched and given the SCB-125 overhaul in the mid-1950s, BHR was in the thick of the air war off Vietnam from 1964 onward.

USS Bon Homme Richard (CVA-31) with her crew spelling out Hello San Diego, while en route to San Diego on 9 February 1963. She returned to San Diego, her home port, on 11 February, following a Western Pacific cruise that had begun seven months earlier, on 12 July 1962. Aircraft on her flight deck include three E-1, 11 F-8, six F-3, 13 A-4 and nine A-1 types. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 97343

Completing her sixth and last deployment to Yankee Station on 12 November 1970 (again with CVW-5), she was decommissioned the next year and, after spending 21 years on red lead row as a source for potential spare parts for the similarly laid-up but slightly younger USS Oriskany (which the Navy saw as a mobilization asset through the Reagan years), she was scrapped in 1992.

However, her name lives on in LHD-6, a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship of about the same size, commissioned in 1998.

USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6) Underway in the Gulf of Mexico during builder’s sea trials, circa early 1998 NH 107664-KN

As for CVW-5, they have been flying as of late from USS Ronald Reagan and, when not aboard, cool their heels at Atsugi and Iwakuni, though the Crusaders, Skyhawks, and Tracers have long ago been traded for Hornets, Growlers, and Hawkeyes.

Remember that time B-1Bs simulated dropping Quickstrike mines in a Baltic op?

The Russians are sure to be a fan of the ongoing BALTOPS excercise which has seen, among other things, the Truman Strike Group including Carrier Air Wing One (CVW) 1, embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) and B-1B’s sent from CONUS.

Speaking of which, how about those mines:

“In flight footage featuring drop of Navy Quickstrike Mine as well as taxi take off and landing. Two B-1B Lancers assigned to Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, dropped 12 inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mines while participating in BALTOPS 2018 which is an annual, multinational exercise designed to enhance interoperability and demonstrate NATO and partner force resolve to defend the Baltic Region. The Lancers were assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and sortied from RAF Fairford, England, June 2, 2018. (Video by Senior Airman Shawn White, 7th Bomb Wing Public Affairs)”

Sailors from the Navy Munitions Command Atlantic Unit at Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., worked with members of the 7th Munitions Squadron to build the mines using Navy kits and Air Force practise bombs.

According to the Navy: The Quickstrike is a family of shallow water, aircraft laid mines used primarily against surface and subsurface craft. Quickstrike versions Mark 62 and Mark 63 are converted general purpose 500-pound and 1000-pound bombs, respectively. The Mark 65 is a 2,000-pound mine, which utilizes a thin-walled mine case, rather than a bomb body.

Mines can be used to deny an enemy access to specific areas or channelize the enemy into specific areas. Sea mines have been used by the U.S. Navy since the Revolutionary War. Mines have been used with significant effect in the Civil War and both World Wars. The most effective use of mines by the United States was against the Japanese Empire in World War II. U.S. aircraft laid over 12,000 mines in Japanese shipping routes and harbor approaches, sinking 650 Japanese ships and totally disrupting all of their maritime shipping.

Some stills:

A U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron takes off in support of Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, June 2, 2018 (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

U.S. Air Force Airmen assigned to the 345th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron align 12 inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mines on a munitions assembly conveyor during Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

Warning tag is displayed on an inert Mark 62 Quickstrike mine firing mechanism for Exercise Baltic Operations at RAF Fairford, England, May 31, 2018. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Emily Copeland)

Packing non-carriers with stern-sitters, an enduring idea now new again

Below we see an “Artist Conception of the Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing (STOVL) fighter concept, developed by the David W. Taylor Naval Ship and Research and Development Center, in various stages of flight and recovery positions near the 325-foot small waterplane area twin hull ship (SWATH),” received February 1981.

 U.S. Navy Photograph now in the collections of the National Archives. 428-GX-KN-31380:

Interestingly enough, DARPA has been working on a tail-sitter for the past several years, known as the Tern project.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency produced this concept art of a vertical take-off and landing capable maritime drone system as part of its earlier (TERN) program.

And it could wind up being the Marines’ new MUX drone, meant to be a poor man’s E2 Hawkeye/EF-18G Growler for use from LPDs and LHA/Ds.

More on that at The Drive

That’s a whole lotta diesel

This great view shows 11 vessels of Submarine Squadron Five (nine submarines including a missile-slinger, a submarine rescue vessel, and a submarine tender) moored side by side for a change of command ceremony at San Diego, California. CPT. Eugene B. Fluckey, USN, Medal of Honor recipient (and holder of four Navy Crosses), relieved CPT. Francis B. Scanland, USN, as Commander, SUBRONFIVE on August 1, 1955.

“Lucky Fluckey” went on to teach at Annapolis and become ComSubPac before he retired as a RADM in 1972 and went on to run an orphanage, which is a lot like commanding a subron.

330-PS-7599 (USN 681919)

Just a decade after WWII, the photo is filled with various war vets of the Tench, Balao, and Gato-classes that have been modified in the GUPPY/Fleet Snorkel program to one degree or another.

Nested alongside the Fulton-class submarine tender USS Nereus (AS 17) are: the cruise missile submarine USS Tunny (SSG 282) with her distinctive Regulus I hangar aft of her sail, as well as the fleet subs USS Cusk (SS 348), USS Carbonero (SS 337), USS Tilefish (SS 307), USS Spinax (SS 489), USS Rock (SS 274), USS Remora (SS 487), USS Catfish (SS 339), and USS Volador (SS 490), and the Chanticleer-class submarine rescue vessel, USS Florikan (ASR 9).

While most of the above were scrapped by the early-1970s, Florikan was only decommissioned on 2 August 1991, some 36 years and a day after the photo was taken. She went on to linger in Suisun Bay mothballs until 2010 when she was sold for scrap.

That’s one big porcupine, 74 years back

Aerial view of the super-dreadnought USS Iowa (BB-61) underway, 10 June 1944.

At the time her armament consisted of 9x 16″/50 cal Mark 7 guns in three triple turrets, 20x 5″/38 Mark 12 guns in 10 dual mounts, an impressive 80x 40mm/56 cal Bofors anti-aircraft guns in a score of quad mounts, and 49x 20mm/70 Oerlikon cannon, for a total of about 158 large caliber guns of all size– which is a whole lotta lead in anyone’s book.

 

Slab’s Takur Ghar blaster

Found in the NHHC Curator Branch Collection: This rifle was carried by then-Senior Chief Britt “Slab” Slabinski while serving as Team Leader of Maco 30 during the Battle of Takur Ghar in support of Operation Anaconda.

Lots of pic rails, standard A2 grip, no suppressor. But this is no Mk18– look at the magwell, that’s an AR-10, specifically a Rifle, Sniper, 7.62MM, MK 11 Mod 0 (SR-25)

Op Anaconda was the first major ground combat operation in Afghanistan during Operation Enduring Freedom. Master Chief Petty Officer Slabinski was awarded the Medal of Honor May 24, 2018 for his actions in Afghanistan during Operation Anaconda in 2002.

WASHINGTON (May 24, 2018) A file photo taken in March 2002 of Senior Chief Special Warfare Operator (SEAL) Britt K. Slabinski on Roberts Ridge. President Donald J. Trump awarded the Medal of Honor to Slabinski during a White House ceremony May 24, 2018 for his heroic actions during the Battle of Takur Ghar in March 2002 while serving in Afghanistan. Slabinski was recognized for his actions while leading a team under heavy effective enemy fire in an attempt to rescue SEAL teammate Petty Officer 1st Class Neil Roberts during Operation Anaconda in 2002. The Medal of Honor is an upgrade of the Navy Cross he was previously awarded for these actions. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

Slabinski’s bio:
https://www.history.navy.mil/content/history/nhhc/our-collections/artifacts/arms-and-ordnance/small-arms/long-arms0/m4-rifle-of-mcpo-slabinski.html

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