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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.

Flying yesterday’s Hornet, today

The Blues have been tearing it up across the country lately, making up scheduled hours canceled along with this summer’s air shows by performing with the Thunderbirds over the nation’s urban centers in a salute to healthcare workers.

For instance, over Chicago this week:

They have never looked better, you could argue, and thousands who haven’t seen them in action before are now getting a chance, which is no doubt good for recruiting efforts– one of the primary reasons demonstration programs exist.

HOUSTON (May 6, 2020) The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels, fly over Houston, Texas, May 6, 2020. The flyover was part of America Strong; a collaborative salute from the Navy and Air Force to recognize healthcare workers, first responders, military, and other essential personnel while standing in solidarity with all Americans during the COVID-19 pandemic. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Cody Hendrix/Released)

However, most folks don’t realize just how old these birds are. Like Desert Storm/32 years on the airframe old.

The closest Hornet above, BuNo 163435, is an early Lot 10 F/A-18C— the first block that saw the Charlie birds introduced– produced in 1988. It formerly flew in the Fleet with the Sunliners of VFA-81 on a number of deployments including during Desert Storm where the squadron downed a pair of Saddam’s MiG-21s.

A Sundowners’ Lot 10 F-18C, BuNo 163471, then assigned to Carrier Air Wing One Seven (CVW -17), climbs to an assigned altitude after completing a catapult launch from the aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) in 2002. The squadron shifted to Rhinos in 2006, leaving their well-used Charle Hornets to go to the Marines and the Blues. This particular Hornet, while flying with the Sharpshooters of VMFAT-101, crashed following hydraulic problem 3 miles east of MCAS Miramar, in 2006. (U.S. Navy photo by Captain Dana Potts.)

Besides the above instance, the Blues operate several other aircraft from the same lot, including BuNo 163442, 163464, and 163468. They are slated to upgrade to F-18E/Fs next year, at which point the F-18C/D will only be operated by the Marines, long used to being the last to fly a NAVAIR asset.

Outside of the Blues, the alumni aircraft are commonly only seen on static display. For reference, several other Lot 10s have been relegated to museum pieces for years, with BuNo 163437 as a gate guard at Norfolk, 163498 on display at Naval Reserve Station Smyrna, and 163502 on the grounds of the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola.

The more things change, USS Farragut edition

Below we have the second U.S. Navy warship named after Adm. David Farragut, the 1,400-ton Clemson-class destroyer, USS Farragut (DD-300), shown rolling in heavy seas, during the 1920s.

Courtesy of Lieutenant Gustave Freret, 1970. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 70922

DD-300 was only in service from June 1920 until April 1930, then was sold for scrap.

Fast forward about 100 years and we see the 9,200-ton Flight IIa Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Farragut (DDG 99) transiting the Atlantic Ocean as part of the Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group (HSTCSG), 2 May 2020.

U.S. Navy photo 200502-N-MQ631-0009 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maxwell Higgins/Released 

U.S. Navy photo 200502-N-MQ631-0009 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Maxwell Higgins/Released

Commissioned in 2006, she is the fifth such ship named for the good Civil War-era Admiral, and her bluejackets no doubt have just as much skin in the game as the ones who walked the decks of the previous four vessels– especially those quartered in the zero-gravity zones in high sea states.

Battleship No. 36’s final resting place, visited 15,000 feet down

USS Nevada (BB-36) survived the hell of Pearl Harbor and was famously the only battleship able to get underway that day. Repaired and returned to service, she earned seven battlestars from France to Okinawa and, in the end, was subjected to far more damage post-war.

From DANFS:

Nevada arrived at Bikini atoll on 31 May 1946 and was one of 84 targets used in Crossroads. The tests consisted of two detonations, the first Test Able, an airburst, on 1 July, and the second, Test Baker, an underwater explosion, on 25 July. Despite extensive damage and contamination, the ship survived the blasts and returned to Pearl Harbor to be decommissioned on 29 August. She was sunk by the cumulative damage of surface gunfire, aerial bombs and torpedoes, and rocket fire off Hawaii on 31 July 1948. Nevada was stricken from the Navy Register on 12 August 1948.

Nevada being sunk in ordnance tests off Pearl Harbor on 31 July 1948. (U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-498257 National Archives and Records Administration, Still Pictures Division, College Park, Md.)

Now, over 71 years since she took her plunge to the ocean floor over 15,000 feet down, she has been discovered and documented.

SEARCH, Inc. and Ocean Infinity are pleased to announce the discovery of USS Nevada, one of the U.S. Navy‘s longest-serving battleships. The wreck was located 3 miles deep in the Pacific during a joint expedition that combined SEARCH, Inc.‘s maritime archaeologists and Ocean Infinity‘s robotic technology and deep-water search capability. The veteran battleship, which survived Pearl Harbor, German artillery, a kamikaze attack, and two atomic blasts, is a reminder of American perseverance and resilience.”

The stern of the wreck has the remains of “36” and “140.” Nevada’s designation was BB-36 and the 140 was painted on the structural “rib” at the ship’s stern for the atomic tests to facilitate post-blast damage reporting. Photo courtesy of Ocean Infinity / SEARCH, Inc.

By the end of World War II, Nevada carried thirty-two 40mm Bofors antiaircraft guns. The airplane had changed naval warfare and guns like this helped the crew fight off enemy attacks from the air. This 40mm gun, still in its gun “tub,” is mounted next to a partly fallen, standard-issue Mark 51 “gun director” used by the crew to direct the fire of these guns. Photo courtesy of Ocean Infinity / SEARCH, Inc.

USS Nevada, like other ships at Bikini, was a floating platform for military equipment and instruments designed to see what the atomic bomb would do to them. One of four tanks placed on Nevada, this is either a Chaffee or Pershing tank that survived a 23-kiloton surface blast and a 20-kiloton underwater blast and remained on Nevada until the ship was sunk off Hawai’i on July 31, 1948. Photo courtesy of Ocean Infinity / SEARCH, Inc.

42,000 ton ‘o cruisers

Here we see the USS Des Moines (CA-134) and her sister ship USS Newport News (CA-148), laid up as part of the Bicentennial Exhibit at the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard, August 1976.

National Archives Photo K-117046

The two retired bruisers, the largest and most capable heavy heavy cruisers ever fielded by the U.S. Navy (with the exception of the Alaska-class “large cruisers”) Newport News had put in lots of heavy work on the gun line off Vietnam and was only decommissioned 27 June 1975, some 14 months prior to the above image. Des Moines, on the other hand, had been on red lead row since 6 July 1961.

The third, and unpictured, ship of the class, USS Salem (CA-139), had preceded her two sisters to early retirement and had been decommissioned on 30 January 1959 after less than a decade of service. Notably, she portrayed the German pocket battleship KMS Admiral Graf Spee (which she actually outweighed by 5,000 tons!) in the 1956 film The Battle of the River Plate.

How about a chubby German BM on Salem’s quarter deck?

Ironically, the low-mileage Salem would go on to become a museum ship in Quincy, Massachusetts in 1994 while both Des Moines and Newport News were disposed of and slowly scrapped, with CA-159 only fully dismantled in 2007.

Rap, rap, rapping on the Bastion door

“Three Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyers — USS Donald Cook, USS Porter, and USS Roosevelt — are supported by fast combat support ship USNS Supply and joined by the Royal Navy’s HMS Kent to assert freedom of navigation and demonstrate seamless integration among allies,” a U.S. Navy news release said.

Not a big deal, as such joint operations happen every day somewhere in the maritime domain.

What is a big deal, is that the exercise involved said surface action group chilling out above the Arctic Circle in the Barents Sea, long a “safe” boomer bastion for the Russian Northern Fleet. Further, other than for Norway which is a “local” in the region, the task force was the largest NATO operation in the region in about 25 years.

ARCTIC OCEAN (May 5, 2020) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78), front, the Royal Navy Type-23 Duke-class frigate HMS Kent (F78), the fast combat support ship USNS Supply (T-AOE 6) and USS Roosevelt (DDG 80) conduct joint operations to ensure maritime security in the Arctic Ocean, May 5, 2020. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of the Royal Navy by Royal Navy Photographer Dan Rosenbaum/Released)

ADM James Foggo, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces in Europe and the commander of NATO’s Allied Joint Force Command in Naples, Italy, said there will be more deployments and more exercises in the High North.

“The Russians are operating with state-of-the-art nuclear submarines,” he said. “That said, we still have the competitive advantage. But they’re good, and getting better.”

More on what that means, here.

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