The sometimes beautiful tale of two hard-serving forward-deployed DDGs this week, waving the flag in far off ports.:
Porter, named for War of 1812 hero Commodore David Porter, and his son, Civil War Adm. David Dixon Porter, was built at Pascagoula and commissioned 20 March 1999. As such, the Flight II Burke doesn’t look bad for 20 years considering she has mixed it up with the Russians in the Black Sea, fired Tomahawks into Syria and survived a collision in 2012 with an oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. She is one of four DDGs assigned to Rota as part of the 6th Fleet.
Located on Gare Loch, Faslane is home to HM Naval Base, Clyde, home to the RN’s Trident fleet as well as the bulk of the country’s subs and minehunters.
Stethem, named for SW2 Robert Stethem, the Seabee diver killed by terrorists onboard TWA 847 in 1985, was also built an Ingalls while I worked there (and may or may not have my initials welded in her inner bottom somewhere). This early Flight I Burke commissioned 21 October 1995 and has seen lots of deployments in her 24-years of service. She is homeported in Japan, where the cherry blossoms (Sakura) are breathtaking this time of year.
As a side note, the best Asian John Denver impersonator I ever saw was in Yokosuka.
Osprey’s June offerings, to include US Navy Battleships 1886–98: The pre-dreadnoughts and monitors that fought the Spanish-American War by Paul Wright, looks on point when it comes to maritime art.
From the book, highlighting the monitor USS Terror:
Sampson’s North Atlantic Squadron arrived off San Juan, Puerto Rico, the morning of May 12, 1898, and opened fire at 0516hrs. Captain Nicoll Ludlow’s monitor USS Terror (BM-4) is seen close to shore, shelling the San Juan fortification of Castillo San Felipe del Morro and coming under return fire from Spanish coastal artillery. Wind and seas were high, causing ships to roll and hurting US gunnery. Dense white smoke so obscured targeting that Sampson eventually ordered: “use large guns only.” Terror, fifth in the US column, unleashed 31 10in/30-caliber rounds in three passes, including one that scored a “most vicious” direct hit on a Spanish artillery battery. Terror retired at 0815hrs, having suffered no casualties. Sampson’s squadron had lost a total of two killed and three wounded. Spanish casualties came to seven killed and 52 wounded, including civilians.
A “Great Repair” (wink wink) of the 1863-vintage Miantonomoh-class monitor USS Agamenticus, the 263-foot-long Terror was constructed slowly over a 22-year period by William Cramp & Sons, Philadelphia/ New York Navy Yard. Carrying a pair of 10″/30cal Mark 1 Mod 1s, Terror had only been placed in full commission in 1896. She was not very successful, as her engineering suite broke down extensively, was good for 12 knots when wide open and working correctly, and a low freeboard shipped water over the deck in any sea state.
Terror‘s SpanAm War duty was to be the highlight of her active career and, hopelessly obsolete the monitor was decommissioned and placed in ordinary on 25 February 1899. A spell as a training ship at Annapolis later gave her a modicum of post-war work. She ended her career as a test hulk at Indian Head and was (believed) scrapped sometime in the 1930s.
With small fast attack craft easier than ever to produce in swarms on the cheap in both manned and unmanned versions, it is nice to see the Gator Navy at least practicing on these as targets.
Of course, today its all just 25mm and 30mm guns as well as some .50s, but back in the old days ‘Phibs bristled with a mix of 3″ and 40mm cannon as well as a smattering of 5-inchers.
Speaking of which, the original first few vessels of the Tarawa-class LHAs– of which Boxer is a later Wasp-class LHD outgrowth off– toted a pair of 5-inch Mk45s forward for just such occasions as well as some NGF support ashore. Not well liked, they were removed to get a little more deck space.
Maybe its time to bring a few (bigger) guns back to the Gator Navy?
Here we see crewmen on watch on a 40mm quad Bofors gun mount while their ship was supporting the invasion of Okinawa, 1 April 1945, some 74 years ago today.
Their vessel: the Colorado-class battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48).
Commissioned in 1923, WV was transferred to the Pacific Fleet on the eve of WWII and was on Battleship Row on December 7, 1941, catching seven Type 91 aerial torpedoes and two Type 99 No. 80 Mk 5 bombs in the Japanese attack. Tragically, she lost 106 men that day, with some still trapped aboard heard still hammering away inside her hull an amazing 16 days after the attack.
Raised, she was repaired and modernized, her crew reformed from fresh recruits and salty veterans. Rejoining the war with a fresh purpose on 14 September 1944, she left Pearl Harbor heading West. Over the course of the following year, she earned five battle stars, proving that reports of her destruction were very much inaccurate.
Five musicians from her band were later temporarily transferred to USS Missouri to play at the surrender ceremonies in Tokyo Bay the following September.
Remember, today is National Vietnam War Veterans Day:
With that being said, dig this far out training film covering the “Small Boat Navy” as it was called in the 1960s, which consisted that wide range of Vietnam-era shallow watercraft such as the PBR, RPC, PGM, PTF, et. al
For your reference: (Drawn from Boats of the United States Navy, NAVSHIPS 250-452, 1967)
“The American flag flies from a vessel in the foreground as the nuclear-powered guided missile cruiser USS South Carolina (CGN-37) returns to port from deployment in the Persian Gulf area during Operation Desert Storm, 28 March 1991.”
Sadly, the mighty cruiser returning from war overseas had her days numbered.
Though she had received the New Threat Update (NTU) to make her one of the most potent missile slingers in the world and her reactor was re-cored to make her good for another 18 years of service, South Carolina was decommissioned 30 July 1999, at age 24, as part of the Great Cruiser Slaughter.