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On the rocks

So China just launched their first domestically-produced icebreaker, joining a c.1994 Russian-built unit, the 21,000-ton Xue Long (Snow Dragon) previously purchased to double the size of their fleet operating on their new “Polar Silk Road.”

Xue Long II

Named Xue Long 2 (way to branch out) the new 14,000-ton ship is larger than our only true polar icebreaker, USCGC Polar Star, not to mention being about 50-years newer.

Meanwhile, Canada last month picked up a trio of new (to them) medium icebreakers from commercial trade for a song from a company in Sweden. Commissioned into the Canadian Coast Guard, they will revitalize that force until new purpose-built ships can be made.

The new-ish Canadian breakers, soon to be painted red and white

Good thing the USCG isn’t having a problem getting new, modern breakers through Congress.

Oh, wait.

Bonus: Why icebreaking matters, from Matt Hein, a Surface Warfare Officer currently studying for his Masters in Security Studies at Georgetown University.

From WWII tug to fish habitat

Recently, BCT, CCA South Carolina and the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources completed the first of three projects aimed at expanding and enhancing offshore reef habitat in the Palmetto State. The decommissioned tugboat General Oglethorpe was deployed some 30 miles off the coast of Charleston in approximately 100 feet of water, “creating vital new fisheries habitat and establishing additional recreational angling opportunities for fishermen.”

Oglethorpe was a WWII vet, built in 1943, by Ira S. Bushey and Son Inc. of Brooklyn, New York (hull #529) as USCGC Ojibwa (WYT-97) for the U.S. Coast Guard, going on to serve on escort and search and rescue duty in the North Atlantic Area until the end of the war.

After 1954, she served in the 9th USCG District on the Great Lakes for most of her Coast Guard career, stationed in Buffalo.

As noted by CG-Tugs: “These were the Apalachee-class which added additional ice resistance and ice-breaking features (for their intended duty in the Greenland Theater) as well as firefighting monitors, to the earlier designs. Thus there were 17 of these hearty 110-footers, the last of which served until 1989, a span of half a century.”

Decommissioned in 1980 after 37 years in federal service, she worked commercially until the state of South Carolina inherited her last year.

According to the below from CCA, she is back on the job in a different sense.

Warship Wednesday, Aug. 15, 2018: Florida’s ancient sub-buster

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 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, Aug. 15, 2018: Florida’s ancient sub-buster

Atlanta Journal-Constitution Photograph

Here we see, behind the striking young lady, is the Argo-class 165-foot (B) submarine chaser/cutter Nemesis (WPC-111) of the U.S. Coast Guard, taken during the 1953 Gasparilla Festival in Tampa. Nemesis was just under 20 at the time and had an interesting life both prior to and after this image was snapped.

The USCG’s two-dozen 165-footers were built during the early-1930s and they proved successful in WWII, with two sinking U-boats. Based on the earlier USCGC Tallapoosa (WPG-52), the 165-foot class of cutters was divided into two groups, the first designed primarily for derelict destruction and SAR, the second for Prohibition bootlegger busting:

The first batch, the six Class A vessels, were named after Native American tribes– Algonquin, Comanche, Escanaba, Mohawk, Onondaga, and Tahoma— and had a 36-foot beam, a 13.5-foot maximum draft, a sedate speed of 13 knots, and a displacement of 1,005 tons. We’ve covered a couple of this class of “beefy” 165s before to include USCGC Mohawk and cannot talk these hardy boats up enough. Tragically, one of these, USCGC Escanaba (WPG-77), was lost after encountering a U-boat or mine in 1943 with only two survivors.

The more beefy 165-foot (A) class cutters (Coast Guard Collection) 

The follow-on 18 WPCs in Class B were named after Greek mythos– Argo, Ariadne, Atalanta, Aurora, Calypso, Cyane, Daphne, Dione, Galatea, Hermes, Icarus, Nemesis, Nike, Pandora, Perseus, Thetis, Triton, and Electra. They were much lighter at 337-tons, narrower with a 25-foot beam, could float in under 10-feet of water (the designed draft was ~7ft.) and, on their suite of direct reversible GM-made Winton diesels, could touch 16 knots while keeping open the possibility of a 6,400nm range if poking around at a much lower speed.

Coast Guard Cutter Icarus, an example of the 165 (B)s, drawn in profile. Note the short, twin stacks. (Coast Guard Collection)

They were built between 1931 and 1934 at a series of five small commercial yards and were designed as patrol vessels. Their normal armament consisted of a dated 3-inch/23 caliber Mk 7 gun and two 37mm Mk. 4 1-pounders. Due to their designed role in busting up Rum Row, their small arms locker included a few Thompson M1921 sub guns, M1911s and a number of Springfield 1903s for good measure.

“Coast Guard planes from the Coast Guard Air Station Miami, Florida, greeting new 165-foot patrol boat PANDORA arrival December 6, 1934, to take station.” Top to bottom Flying Boat ACAMAR, Amphibian SIRIUS and Flying Boat A. As you note, the slimmer twin-funnel 165-foot (B) class sub chasers had a much different profile

The subject of our tale, Nemesis (can you get a better name for a warship?), was ordered for $258,000 from Marietta Manufacturing Co. at Point Pleasant, West Virginia, on the Ohio River, alongside her sisters Nike and Triton, in 1931. All three commissioned the same day– 7 July 1934– ironically some six months after Prohibition ended.

Nemesis and her 44-man crew (5 officers, 39 enlisted) set sail for St. Petersburg, Florida, where they would consider home for the rest of her (peacetime) career with the Coast Guard.

USS Trenton postal cover welcoming Nemesis to Ste Pte

With tensions ramping up prior to the U.S entry to WWII, several East Coast 165s, to include Algonquin, Comanche, Galatea, Pandora, Thetis, and Triton, were on duty with the Navy after 1 July 1941 to assist with the Neutrality Patrol. The rest would follow immediately after Pearl Harbor. Armed with hastily-installed depth charge racks and a thrower and given a couple of Lewis guns for added muscle, they went looking for U-boats as the defenders of the Eastern Sea Frontier.

Nemesis’s sister, USCGC Argo on patrol displaying World War II armament and haze gray paint scheme. Note the 3″/50 forward.

As noted by DANFS:

The Gulf Sea Frontier, which included the Florida and Gulf coasts and parts of the Bahamas and Cuba, was defended in only rudimentary fashion during the early months of the war. Initial defenses consisted of the three Coast Guard cutters Nemesis, Nike, and Vigilant, together with nineteen unarmed Coast Guard aircraft and fourteen lightly armed Army aircraft.

In late February 1942 four ships were torpedoed in four days, and in May 41 vessels were sent to the bottom by hostile submarine action off the Florida coast and in the Gulf. As sinkings mounted alarmingly in the Gulf Sea Frontier waters, American defensive strength in the area began to increase rapidly and overwhelmingly.

Sister Icarus (WPC-110) in May 1942 depth-charged U-352, sinking the submarine off the North Carolina coast and taking aboard 33 of her survivors. Thetis (WPC-115) scratched U-157 north of Havana just a few weeks later. Meanwhile, at the same time, Nike (WPC-112) attacked and “likely sank” a surfaced U-boat off Florida’s Jupiter lighthouse then rescued 19 from a torpedoed Panamanian freighter.

Operating in the 7th Naval District on coastal patrol and convoy escort duty throughout the conflict, Nemesis rescued 28 from the Mexican tanker Faja De Oro, torpedoed by U-106 off Key West in May 1942, an attack that helped spark Mexico’s entry into the War against Germany.

“Remember the 13th of May”, referring to a Mexican oil tanker, Faja De Oro, sunk off the coast of Florida by a German submarine. Nemesis saved her crew. Mexico declared war on the Axis Powers in support of the Allies on 22 May and, along with Brazil, was the only Latin American country to send their sons to fight overseas during World War II– notably the flyers of Escuadrón 201 who took U.S.-supplied P-47s to the Philippines as part of the Fifth Air Force, flying 785 combat sorties.

The next month, Nemesis again had to pluck men from the Florida Straits. This time 27 men from the American-flagged SS Suwied, sank by U-107 on her way from Mobile to British Guyana.

Our cutter did not manage to bag a U-boat on her own, although she reported contacts on several occasions and dropped a spread several times. Between February and August 1942 she launched attacks on submarine contacts on at least five different occasions.

By 1944, Nemesis, like the rest of her class, had their armament replaced by two 3″/50 guns, two 20mm Oerlikons, 2 Mousetrap ASW throwers as well as more advanced depth charges and throwers. Nemesis was also one of just five of her class that carried SF-1 radar and QCN-1 sonar, sensors that the humble 165s were never designed for.

In 1945, the Navy selected six patrol vessels as its “Surrender Group” in the 1st Naval District including the three up-armed 165-foot Coast Guard cutters– Dione, Nemesis, and Argo. These ships helped process the surrender of at least five German submarines, U-234, U-805, U-873, U-1228, and U-858. Notably, U-234 was packed with sensitive cargo to include senior German officers and 1,200 pounds of uranium.

Kodachrome of German Submarine U-805 after surrendering to the U.S. Navy off Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on 16 May 1945. National Archives. Nemesis was part of the Navy’s “Surrender Group” handling these boats.

Nemesis received one battle star for her World War II service and chopped back to the USCG in 1946.

Postwar, Nemesis picked up her white scheme and, losing some of her depth charges, went back to St. Pete.

Closer to her festival picture at the beginning of the post. Note the extensive awnings. South Fla gets warm about 10 months a year. Also, note the 3″/50

By 1953, most of her class had been decommissioned with only Ariadne, Aurora, Dione, Nemesis, Nike, Pandora, Perseus and Triton still on active duty. On the East Coast, Triton was stationed in Key West and Nemesis was in St. Pete. Nike was in Gulfport, MS.

Decommissioned after a busy 30-year career on 20 November 1964, Nemesis was sold on 9 February 1966 in a public auction, going to Auto Marine Engineers of Miami who parted her out over the years. (One of her masts could be on the late PBS&J Corporation founder Howard Malvern “Budd” Post’s Waterside estate.)

Renamed Livingston’s Landing, her hulk was rebuilt by 1979 to look like a triple-decker African steamer and used as a floating restaurant in Ft. Lauderdale, picking up the name Ancient Mariner in 1981 while performing the same job. She was docked just west of where Hyde Park Market used to be, across from jail.

Sadly, “the floating eatery was closed in 1986 by health officials as the source of a massive outbreak of infectious hepatitis” that sickened more than 80.

With nothing else going for her, the once-proud vessel was acquired at public auction, “purchased by the South Florida Divers Club of Hollywood for $6,000 and donated to Broward County’s artificial reef program. In June of 1991, the Nemesis, now called Ancient Mariner, was sunk as an artificial reef off Deerfield Beach.”

She is a popular dive site today resting just 50-70 feet deep. “A large Goliath Grouper guards the wreckage and can usually be found in the wheelhouse.”

Of her sisters, USCGC Ariadne (WPC-101), the last in federal service, was decommissioned 23 Dec. 1968 and sold for scrap the next year. Some went on to overseas service, including USCGC Galatea, Thetis, and Icarus, who remained afloat into the late 1980s with the Dominican Republic’s Navy. At least five of the class were bought by the Circle Line of NYC and converted to local passenger ferry work around the five boroughs. Daphne is thought to be somewhere in Mexican waters as a tug.

Of the 24 various 165s that served in the Coast Guard and Navy across a span of almost a half century, just one, like Nemesis a B-model, remains in some sort of confirmed service.

Commissioned as USCGC Electra (WPC-187) in 1934, she was transferred to the US Navy prior to WWII and renamed USS Potomac (AG-25), serving as FDR’s Presidential Yacht for a decade. Struck from the Navy List in 1946, she was saved in 1980 and is currently open to the public in Oakland.

Ex-USS Potomac (AG-25) moored at her berth, the FDR pier, at Jack London Square, Oakland, CA. in 2008. Still floating in less than 7ft of water, as designed. Photos by Al Riel USS John Rogers.Via Navsource

As for the Coast Guard, they are increasingly recycling the old names of the classic 165s for their new class of 360-foot Offshore Patrol Cutters so it is possible that Nemesis will pop back up. Further, the service retains a number of old bells from the 165s as artifacts, such as from USCGC Comanche, below, which means the bell from Nemesis could very well be ashore somewhere on a Coast Guard base.

Specs:


Displacement:
334 long tons (339 t) trial
1945: 350 tons
Length:
160 ft, 9 in waterline
165 ft. overall
Beam: 23 ft 9 in
Draft: 7 ft 8 in as designed, (1945): 10 ft
Propulsion:
2 × Winton Model 158 6-cylinder diesel engines, 670 hp (500 kW) each
two shafts with 3-bladed screws
Fuel: 7,700 gals of diesel oil
Speed: 16 knots
Range: 3,000 nautical miles at 11 knots; 6,400 @6kts on one diesel.
Complement:
44 officers and men as designed
1945: 75 officers and men
Sensors: (1945) SF-1 radar and QCN-1 sonar
Armament:
Prewar:
1 × 3-inch /23 caliber gun
2 × 37mm one-pounders
Wartime (1945):
2 × 3-inch / 50 cal guns
2 × 20 mm guns
2 × Y-guns
2 × depth charge tracks
2 × Mousetrap anti-submarine rockets

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO), Publishers of Warship International

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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.

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Is it winter, yet?

With the temperatures rising steadily, here is a nice cool shot of USCGC Amberjack (WPB 87315) seen here moored alongside a CG mooring buoy in Valley Cove, Maine.

Photo credit to MK2 Dakota Crow/USCG

Amberjack, an 87-foot Marine Protector-class cutter, is homeported in Jonesport, Maine. She is armed with two M2 .50-caliber heavy machine guns as well as an extensive small arms locker of M16s, Sig P229Rs, and Remington 870 shotguns.

The life and times of a DC1 on a 50+ year old cutter

A look at what it takes to keep a half-century-old OPV in service on regular patrols.

“Petty Officer 1st Class, Victor Arcelay, damage controlman and crew member aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Active, a 210-foot medium endurance Reliance-class cutter homeported in Port Angeles, Wash., explains the effort required by crew members to keep a 52-year-old cutter fully mission-capable to conduct counter-narcotic patrols in the eastern Pacific Ocean, Thursday, May 17, 2018. Medium endurance cutters like the Active are scheduled for replacement by the Offshore Patrol Cutter, with construction of the first vessel slated to begin in 2018 and delivery of the first one scheduled for completion in 2021”

Warship Wednesday, June 27, 2018: The unsung turbo-electric wonder boat

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 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, June 27, 2018: The unsung turbo-electric wonder boat

Courtesy Commandant U.S. Coast Guard, Catalog #: NH 55224

Here we see the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Chelan (WPG-45), lead ship of the 250-foot Lake-class of patrol gunboats in 1930, likely off Alaska. Although the Lakes didn’t give a lot of service overall to their country of birth, they did yeomen work for the Allies in WWII and the humble Chelan, innovative when she was built, had the distinction of landing blows on enemy submarines (of German, Italian and Japanese origin– a hat trick) in several theaters.

The modern USCG, formed in 1916 from an amalgamation of a number of different small federal maritime services, was stuck by and large with the craft it inherited from the old Revenue Marine of the Treasury Department such as the sail-rigged steel-hulled cruising cutters Gresham, McCulloch and Seneca. By Prohibition, these ships, many slow and elderly, were phased out in favor of newer 165-foot and 240-foot (Tampa-class) cutters augmented by 31 relatively new destroyers from the Navy. However, the destroyers weren’t good sea ships and the Navy eventually wanted them back, leading to the improved Lake-class.

Designed specifically by the Coast Guard, engineering Capt. Quincy B. Newman worked up a cutting edge (for the time) turbo-electric plant that ran the whole ship from a single main turbine. As noted by Schenia, these were the first ships to use a G.E. alternating current synchronous motor for propulsion with Curtis auxiliary generators tied to the main. The ship used two small B&W boilers for light off, but after the motor was engaged the steam wasn’t needed. It should be noted that this class predated the giant use of turbo-electric drives on the carriers Lexington and Saratoga.

The whole affair was very efficient and allowed for Chelan and her sisters to pack a very large commo locker in their day– three different receivers and matching transmitters. It should be noted that the Prohibition USCG service’s intelligence branch was at the time the country’s leader in HF/DF and SIGINT, used for tracking bootleggers on Rum Row.

Caption: Biggest and costliest yet. This is the radio room on the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Chelan, the newest cutter of the service now anchored at the Navy Yard, Washington D.C. This radio room houses three transmitters and three receiving sets. On the maiden trip, she picked up an SOS and towed schooner 1,500 miles, a record tow. Ensign Leslie B. Tollaksen, is shown in the photograph. Harris & Ewing, photographer. 1928 November 26. LOC LC-H2- B-3101 [P&P]

The ice-strengthened hull (built for use on the post-Titanic International Ice Patrol) was an improvement of the 240-foot Tampa-class that preceded them, with a raked stem and cruiser stern to make them handle high seas better and they could make 17.3-knots, which is decent for a 1920s gunboat not intended for fleet operations. Armament was one 5″/51cal main gun forward of the bridge house and a 3″/50 pointed over the stern with a pair of 6-pounder (57mm) guns port and starboard just after the main battery.

The 10 ships of the class, all named after lakes, were built by Bethlehem in Quincy (the first five), G. E’s Hanlon Dry Dock in Oakland (the next four) and the 10th at United Drydock on Staten Island at a cost of $900,000 a pop. Chelan, named for a 50-mile long freshwater lake in Washington State, was first with her keel laid 14 November 1927. The last to complete was Cayuga on 22 March 1932– a whole class constructed from start to finish in under five years. Go ahead and try that today!

Chelan cut her teeth on the international ice patrols and patrolled the dozens of serious club regattas up and down the East Coast that were popular in the day, besides flexing her muscles towards the end of the federal government’s war on booze. Transferred out west soon after, stationed then in Seattle in the Pacific Northwest, she left out on a regular series of Bering Sea patrols in Alaskan waters each summer that was replete with oceanography, survey and met duties (the ship’ sick bay was temporarily rebuilt to serve as a laboratory,) in addition to fisheries patrol and enforcing federal law in the wild territory.

She would also serve as a floating federal court and, in 1936, carry a Congressional Party to Unalaska for a fact-finding mission that resulted in the Alaska Indian Reorganization Act.

Off an Alaskan port, “U.S. Navy Alaskan Survey Photo.” Description: Courtesy Commandant U.S. Coast Guard, 1930. Catalog #: NH 55225

An interesting 376-page report on one of these summer cruises is here.

By 1937, Chelan was back on the East Coast, based in Boston, Massachusetts, and conducting more ice patrols. That March she answered a distress call from 1,600-ton Norwegian steamer SS Bjerkli in a fresh northwesterly gale, rescuing 16 officers and crew.

Chelan undergoing yard maintenance (USCG photo)

Her sisters throughout the 1930s were similarly engaged in conducting routine patrols, cadet cruises, rescues and serving as training ships. Sister Cayuga spent 1936 with Navy Squadron 40-T enforcing the rule of law off Spain during that country’s Civil War while Itasca served as the point ship (due to her large radio suite) for Amelia Earhart’s failed bid to reach Howland Island from Lae, Papua New Guinea on her round-the-world flight.

By 1939, Chelan, now armed with depth charges and sound gear, was keeping a weather eye out to keep the country neutral in the raging World War while keeping abreast of North Atlantic weather patterns and conducting surveys and war patrols around Greenland the following year.

Coast Guard radio meteorograph launch 1940 (Radiosonde Museum of North America photo)

Then in September came the class’s part in the infamous “Destroyers for Bases Agreement” between the U.S. and UK that saw 50 aging WWI-era Caldwell, Wickes, and Clemson class destroyers largely from mothballs followed by the 10 Lake-class cutters on Lend-Lease, the latter under a decade old, transferred to London in exchange for access to a number British overseas bases.

(For the six-page original 1940 press release, see this page at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum Collections)

By twist of fate, old Revenue Marine vessels that the Lakes replaced, such as Gresham, McCulloch and Seneca, were repurchased by MARAD for the Coast Guard to press back into service once the U.S. entered the war.

The transfers took place at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, where the RN Queen Elizabeth-class battleship HMS Malaya was under repair after being torpedoed by U-106, alongside the Revenge-class HMS Resolution that was likewise having her hull patched up after she was torpedoed by the French submarine Bévéziers, with dreadnought men forming scratch crews.

Chelan was handed over 3 April 1941 and renamed HMS Lulworth (Y.60) while her class was designated as Banff-class escort sloops while flying HMs ensign. She arrived in Clyde the next month and LCDR Clive Gwinner, RN, was made her first British skipper.

For reference:

USCGC Cayuga (HMS Totland)
USCGC Champlain (HMS Sennen)
USCGC Itasca (HMS Gorleston)
USCGC Mendota (HMS Culver)
USCGC Ponchartrain (HMS Hartland)
USCGC Saranac (HMS Banff)
USCGC Shoshone (HMS Landguard)
USCGC Tahoe (HMS Fishguard)
USCGC Sebago (HMS Walney)

By July, with a British 4-inch gun installed in place of her U.S. 5-incher, her 3-inch and 6-pdrs deleted and a few 40mm and 20mm AAA guns added to a suite that now included many more racks of depth charges, Chelan/Lulworth was deployed for convoy defense on the UK-West Africa route.

Given camouflage, she would later add RN HF/DF and Type 271 Radar gear to her party favors.

Not to run through the minutiae of her daily activities, she would spend the rest of the war on an impressive series of convoys, forming a part of at least 47 of them all the way through the summer of 1945 across the North Atlantic, North African and Burma theaters. The highlights are as follows:

In August 1941 she picked up 27 survivors from the torpedoed Norwegian merchant Segundo off Ireland followed by 37 survivors from the British merchant Niceto de Larrinaga and 5 from the British merchant St. Clair II off the Canaries the next month.

While escorting convoy OS 10 on 31 October 1941, Lulworth attacked U-96 with a spread 27 depth charges during a full moon. Lothar-Günther Buchheim, a Sonderführer in a propaganda unit of the Kriegsmarine and later author of Das Boot, was aboard U-96 at the time. His record of the incident was included in his non-fiction U-Boot-Krieg book published in 1976.

Kapitänleutnant Heinrich Lehmann-Willenbrock (white cap), commander of U-96, photographed by Lothar-Günther Buchheim during a depth charge attack

On 12 May 1942, Chelan defended convoy SL109 bound for Liverpool from the combined efforts of U-126, U-161 and U-128, depth charging until she ran out of cans. Her sister Mendota was not so lucky, hit by two torpedoes fired by U-105 and sank south-west of Ireland following a magazine explosion.

In June while off the Azores, Chelan reclaimed 20 survivors from the torpedoed British tanker Geo H. Jones from the sea.

HMS Lulworth Oiling from the Tanker, San Tirsan (Art.IWM ART LD 3815) image: A view looking down onto the wet deck at the bow of the ship. On the deck some sailors dressed in waterproof gear are adjusting a large pipe which runs off the side of the deck. Another ship sails up ahead and the silhouettes of two more ships are to be seen on the horizon. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/5899

On 14 July 1942, while defending convoy SL 115, she was damaged sustained while ramming and sinking the Italian submarine Pietro Calvi on the surface off the Azores.

While on her eighth patrol, Calvi was rammed and sunk on 14 July 1942 by convoy SL 115 escort HMS Lulworth. Three officers and 32 sailors of her 66-member crew survived and, picked up by RN vessels, spent the rest of their war in a POW camp. She sank six Allied ships for a total of 34,000grt.

Lulworth, along with her sisters, was assigned to the invasion of North Africa, Operation Torch, where fellow Lakes Ponchartrain (sunk by the French destroyer Typhon) and Sebago (set aflame by the French sloop Surprise,) were lost at Oran while transporting Allied troops in close enough to assault the harbor.

HMS LULWORTH (FL 5525) At anchor. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120468

By September 1943, she was detailed to the Eastern Fleet operating in the Indian Ocean where she depth charged Japanese submarine I37. Fast forward to 1945, and Chelan was present at the Bay of Bengal for the Dracula landings by the British. Damaged in a grounding in June 1945, she finished the war in Rangoon as an element of the Zipper landings along with sisters Champlain/HMS Sennen and Tahoe/Fishguard, the latter of which were too far used up to ever make it back to the U.S after VJ-Day.

Her British equipment removed, Chelan was handed back to the U.S. at Boston on 5th January 1946 and sold for scrap the next year after being raided for her parts to keep a quartet of her sisters still alive. A sad ending to a ship that had a lot of history and was only 15 years old.

Of the four other Lake-class vessels that survived British service long enough to be returned post-war, most had a short run back with their long-lost family as they had been replaced by the newer 255-foot cutters of the Owasco-class (which, embarrassingly enough, often used recycled Lake names, which required the USCG to rename the original 250-foot Lakes save for Itasca and Champlain, when put back into service.) Cayuga/Totland became USCGC Mocoma while Saranac/Baniff became USCGC Tampa.

By 1954, all were decommissioned and headed for the scrappers.

The class is remembered in a scale model of the Baniff-class escort sloop by White Ensign.

Specs:


Displacement: 2,100 full (1929), 1662 trial
Length: 250 ft (76 m)
Beam: 42 ft (13 m)
Draft: 12 ft 11 in (3.94 m)
Propulsion: 1 × General Electric turbine-driven 3,350 shp (2,500 kW) electric motor, 2 boilers, 1 4-bladed prop
Fuel Oil: 90,000 gallons (300t)
Speed:
14.8 kn (27.4 km/h; 17.0 mph) cruising
17.5 kn (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph) maximum
Complement: 97 (as built), 200 in RN service
Armament:
(As built)
1 × 5″/51
1 × 3″/50
2 × 6-pounder (57 mm)
(1939)
1 × 5″/51
1 × 3″/50
1 Y-gun depth charge projector, depth charge rack
(1941, British service)
1x 102/45 CP Mk II QF 4-inch Mk V naval gun
1x 76/45 Mk II QF 12-pounder 1gun
2x 40mm Bofors
4x 20mm/70 Mk III
1x 24-cell Hedgehog Mk X ASW-RL
2x depth charge throwers
2x stern depth charge racks with 8 charges on each. (100 cans carried altogether)

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!

Coast Guard stepping up to the plate with more cutter-borne drones

Insitu’s ScanEagle drone platform was chosen by the USCG last week for a $117 million contract after an RFP issued in February to provide small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) ISR services aboard the entire 12-ship National Security Cutter fleet.

ScanEagle has over a million hours in the air so far, and a stepped-up version, Integrator, has been adopted by the Marines as the RQ-21 Blackjack, so it is safe to say that it is a mature program.

The service deployed an interim sUAS capability on USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752) – an NSC based in Alameda, California – three times in 2017 and used the data gathered to refine the concept of operations and RFP requirements. During the tests, ScanEagle had directly assisted the ship’s crews in seizing more than $1.5 billion of cocaine and heroin.

Stratton with ScanEagle on catapult launcher/carrier to port and an MH-65 stbd. Note the CIWS above the LSO station in the twin hangar. Make no mistake, the NSC is a frigate-sized warship

The Coast Guard began infrastructure installation for more UAS use on their NSCs in April 2018, with plans to begin installing hardware on Cutters James in fall 2018, Munro in late winter 2019 and Bertholf in late spring or early summer 2019. NSC’s have a dual hangar which can permit a USCG helicopter (MH-65) to operate independently of the UAS det.

According to Janes, the drones will be used in a “contractor-owned, contractor-operated” program where Insitu personnel deploying with the cutter will operate the ScanEagle platform for 200 hours per 30 day period. They will also use a Ball Aerospace laser marker, light detection and ranging (LIDAR), and communications relay packages.

Although it is not mentioned, Insitu has been pushing ScanEagle with a ViDAR payload. Small, light and self-contained, ViDAR allows effective primary search with smaller UAVs and aircraft without radar, dramatically improving the cost-effectiveness of maritime operations such as search and rescue, maritime patrol, anti-piracy, anti-narcotics and border protection.

The Coast Guard has also been using smaller Puma hand-launched UAS from other platforms, such as icebreakers and buoy tenders.

Kevin Vollbrecht, an engineering development technician with Aerovironment Inc., launches a PUMA AE unmanned aircraft system from the flight deck of Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star during Operation Deep Freeze 2016 in the Southern Ocean Jan. 3, 2016. The UAS will play a role in selecting the optimal route through pack ice as the cutter transits to McMurdo Station, Antarctica. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Grant DeVuyst)

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