Archive | war RSS for this section

Just Jeepin’ around Geilenkirchen

vickers-a-go-go-jeep-manned-by-sergeant-a-schofield-and-trooper-o-jeavons-of-1-sas-near-geilenkirchen-in-germany-nov-1944

Click to big up 1920×1080

A jeep manned by Sergeant A Schofield and Trooper O Jeavons of 1 SAS near Geilenkirchen in Germany Nov 1944. The jeep is armed with three Vickers ‘K’ guns (2 double and 1 single mount), and fitted with armoured glass shields in place of a windscreen. The SAS were involved at this time in clearing snipers in the 43rd Wessex Division area. No 5 Army Film & Photographic Unit Hewitt (Sgt)IWM Colourised by Paul Reynolds

Warship Wednesday January 18, 2017: Vasili and the Cuban Cony

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 of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday January 18, 2017: Vasili and the Cuban Cony

Photo: Ed Zajkowski via Navsource.

Photo: Ed Zajkowski via Navsource.

Here we see the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Cony (DD/DDE-508) off  Norfolk in October 1963 as seen from the USS Keppler (DD-765). Though she earned 11 battle stars for World War II service, two for Korean War service and spent five months off Vietnam, it was a little-acknowledged day in 1962 that Cony witnessed what could have been the start of World War III.

One of the last pre-WWII destroyer designs of the U.S. Navy, the amazing 175 Fletchers proved the backbone of the fleet during the conflict. These expendable ‘tin cans’ saved Allied flyers, sank submarines, duked it out with shore batteries, torpedoed larger ships, screened the fleet, and shot down wave after wave of enemy aircraft, keeping the carriers and transports safe behind their hail of fire.

With the ability to float in just 17.5-feet of seawater, these ships crept in close to shore and supported amphibious landings, dropped off commandos as needed, and helped in evacuations when required. Small ships with long legs (5500-nm unrefueled at 15-knots) they could be dispatched to wave the flag in foreign ports, provide gunboat diplomacy in times of tension, and race just over the horizon at 36.5-knots to check out a contact.

The hero of our tale, laid down at Bath Iron Works on Christmas Eve 1941, was named after one Lt. Joseph Saville Cony, USN, notable for several successful small-boat expeditions along the Carolina coast during the Civil War before going down in a storm with the merchant vessel City of Bath in 1867 at age 33.

Commissioned 30 October 1942, LCDR H. D. Johnson in command, our warbaby was off to the Pacific.

(DD-508) Photograph taken circa late 1942. Note her dark scheme. This view has been heavily retouched by wartime censors to hide radars atop her Mark 37 gun director and foremast, and the hull number on her bow. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104873

(DD-508) Photograph taken circa late 1942. Note her dark scheme. This view has been heavily retouched by wartime censors to hide radars atop her Mark 37 gun director and foremast, and the hull number on her bow. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104873

Cony soon arrived off Guadalcanal, where she served as Vice Adm. Theodore S. Wilkinson’s flagship for the landings on Vella Lavella. In October, over a two-night period, she and six other tin cans intercepted Japanese barges evacuating Kolombangara, sinking an enemy torpedo boat and 40 barges while chasing away a quartet of smaller destroyers of the Imperial Navy.

Cony took two bombs from Japanese dive bombers on 27 October 1943 which sent her back to California’s Mare Island Naval Shipyard for refit and repair after her crew fought fires for more than 20 hours– though she reportedly splashed 5 Japanese planes in the exchange.

The following are excerpts from the shipboard diary of the rear gunner, Stanley Baranowski:

“27 Oct – … at 3:oo PM got contact with a lot of planes – enemy… at 3:15 they came at us.  So many of them.  We started to fire everything we had… 3:25 we got 2 direct hits on port and starboard… Lots of men were hit.  Worked on fires.  Was up all night taking care of wounded.

“28 Oct – Still working on fires… we started to throw ammo over the side.  Ship was listing to port… 11:15 AM port engine gave out.  Tug came along and started to tow us.  12 PM fire was out.  1 PM moored to taker “Oragon” and took off wounded men.

“29 Oct – Got up at 6:30 AM.  Worked like hell and at 1:35 PM took off 2 dead fellows burned to death – what a horrible sight.  Admiral came on board to look things over, said it’s a State-side job and at 5:30 PM a show started named – ‘Accidents Will Happen.’”

When Cony emerged from Mare Island four months later it was with a new camo scheme: Measure 32, Design 21D.

(DD-508) Off San Francisco, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104497

(DD-508) Off San Francisco, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104497

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly ahead, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104877

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly ahead, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. NH 104877

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly astern, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944.NH 104878

(DD-508) Seen from almost directly astern, while in San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944.NH 104878

Once repaired, she sailed again for the West Pac, arriving in time for pre-invasion bombardment on Tinian in July 1944 before moving on to supporting the landings on Peleliu.

By October 1944, she was involved in the toe-to-toe fleet engagement with the Japanese Imperial Navy that was the Battle of Surigao Strait, during which she traded salvos and broadsides with the IJN’s destroyer Asagumo (Morning Cloud) of some 2,408-tons.

USS Cony (DD-508) lays a smoke screen near USS West Virginia (BB-48), to protect shipping off Leyte from Japanese air attack, during the landings there on 20 October 1944. Note manned anti-aircraft batteries on board the battleship, including a Mark 51 director in the foreground, 20mm gun at left, 40mm quad gun mount in center and 5/38 twin gun mounts beyond. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-289679

USS Cony (DD-508) lays a smoke screen near USS West Virginia (BB-48), to protect shipping off Leyte from Japanese air attack, during the landings there on 20 October 1944. Note manned anti-aircraft batteries on board the battleship, including a Mark 51 director in the foreground, 20mm gun at left, 40mm quad gun mount in center and 5/38 twin gun mounts beyond. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-289679

She went on to support the Lingayen Gulf landings and ended the war in the approaches of the Yangtze River of China, calling on Shanghai. Cony performed occupation and repatriation service for a few months, then was promptly decommissioned and laid up at Charleston, S.C in 1946.

Her period in mothballs lasted just over three years and she was recommissioned (as DDE-508) on 17 November 1949, with much of her outdated armament removed and equipped for an emphasis in antisubmarine warfare.

Though she served in the Korean War zone for five months in 1951 providing naval gunfire support, she would spend most of the next decade in the Atlantic fleet supporting NATO operations in the Atlantic, Caribbean, and the Med.

(DDE-508) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 12 March 1957. Old Point Comfort, with the Chamberlain Hotel and Fort Monroe, is in the center and right background. Note bridge-tunnel construction work in the left background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104882

(DDE-508) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 12 March 1957. Old Point Comfort, with the Chamberlain Hotel and Fort Monroe, is in the center and right background. Note bridge-tunnel construction work in the left background. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104882

When Brigade 2506 (Brigada Asalto 2506) stormed ashore at the Bay of Pigs in Cuba on 17 April 1961, Cony was just offshore as part of the U.S. fleet that was ostensibly to support the landings by the 1,300 Cuban exiles looking to whack The Beard, but was under orders from Washington not to intervene.

Cuban exiles captured during the failed American-backed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion

Cuban exiles captured during the failed American-backed 1961 Bay of Pigs invasion

Cony played a serious part in the op, carrying a large part of the force to the landing zone with her whaleboat serving as part of the invasion flotilla. They immediately received fire from the beach and later, a Cuban helicopter fired on the whaleboat returning to the beach to rescue survivors.

However, her involvement in Cuba was far from over.

When the Cuban Missile Crisis kicked off in October 1962, Cony– reverted back to her DD-508 designation in June– was part of an anti-submarine task force centered around the Essex-class ASW carrier USS Randolph (CVS-15) that included the destroyers Bache (DD-470), Beale (DD-471), Eaton (DD-510) and Murray (DD-576).

Task Force ALFA, an experimental group specializing in developing ASW tactics, during anti-submarine exercises in the Atlantic, 1959. The other ships present are (from left): USS Murray (DDE-576), USS Beale (DDE-471), USS Bache (DDE-470), USS Eaton (DDE-510), USS Conway (DDE-507), USS Cony (DDE-508), USS Waller (DDE-466) and USS Valley Forge (CVS-45). This force, changing out Randolph for Valley Forge, sailed together during the Cuban Missile crisis. Photograph was released for publication on 3 August 1959. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 96944

Task Force ALFA, an experimental group specializing in developing ASW tactics, during anti-submarine exercises in the Atlantic, 1959. The other ships present are (from left): USS Murray (DDE-576), USS Beale (DDE-471), USS Bache (DDE-470), USS Eaton (DDE-510), USS Conway (DDE-507), USS Cony (DDE-508), USS Waller (DDE-466) and USS Valley Forge (CVS-45). This force, changing out Randolph for Valley Forge, largely sailed together during the Cuban Missile crisis. Photograph was released for publication on 3 August 1959. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 96944

While enforcing the naval quarantine authorized by President Kennedy, the task force on 27 October came across the Soviet Foxtrot-class diesel-electric submarine B-59, which was heading from her White Sea base along with sister ships B-36, B-4 and B-130 to Havana with the mission “to strengthen the defense of the island of Cuba” and equipped with a total of 88 53-58 (T-5) nuclear-tipped torpedoes– 22 per submarine–just in case.

*Each T-5 carried an RDS-9 warhead with a 3-10 kiloton yield, enough to evaporate a carrier group if it got close enough*

Here is some footage of the first nuclear test fired at Novaya Zemlya of a RDS-9 equipped T-5 torpedo.

Notably, the deployment of the quartet of Foxtrots was the first documented deployment of their class to carry nuclear torpedoes as part of their magazine– and with the boat’s onboard leadership able to sign off directly on their use without asking Moscow for permission.

At 1659 on 27 October, Beale picked up B-59 on sonar and dropped practice depth charges on the Soviet smoke boat while pinging her with active sonar.

Then, at 1729, Cony upped the ante by dropping five hand grenades on top of the contact– one of the few documented instances of live ordnance being deployed in the crisis.

This, combined with the action of Beale, forced the sweltering Russki boat to the surface at 2050 where Cony‘s signalman established commo via blinker light with the submarine.

There, bathed in spotlights from the destroyers with their 5-inch guns trained on the Soviet submarine, one Second Captain Vasili Alexandrovich Arkhipov, executive officer of the 69th Torpedo Submarine Brigade, overruled B-59‘s Captain Valentin Savitskii and his deputy political officer Ivan Semenovich Maslenniko, who both wanted to fire off a salvo of atomic torpedoes at the American fleet upon surfacing. It should be noted that the effort to surface the B-59 was made just hours after Major Rudolf Anderson’s U-2 spy plane was shot down over Eastern Cuba, at the tensest moment of the crisis.

“We’re gonna blast them now! We will die, but we will sink them all – we will not become the shame of the fleet,” Savitskii reportedly said, according to a journal kept by Captain Third Rank Anatoly Andreev.

Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, Record Group 428, Item 428-N-711200

Soviet submarine B-59, forced to the surface by U.S. Naval forces in the Caribbean near Cuba. U.S. National Archives, Still Pictures Branch, Record Group 428, Item 428-N-711200

By refusing to sign off on the engagement, Arkhipov became one of the unsung heroes of the Cold War who exercised enough restraint to keep the conflict from turning into a real live shooting war with mutually assured destruction as the third act.

Anyway, the Rudolph ASW task force allowed B-59 to charge her depleted batteries overnight on the surface, submerge the next morning and continue on its way Cuba.

Cony resumed her peacetime training and patrol operations, which included participating in the NASA recovery fleets for MR-IA, MR-4, GT-3, MA-4 and AS-204, and conducting Midshipmen cruises to Europe.

Good overhead recruiting poster shot of DDE-508 in her Cold War haze scheme, Photograph dated 12 March 1967, which would put her just before her Vietnam deployment. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104499

Good overhead recruiting poster shot of DDE-508 in her Cold War haze scheme, Photograph dated 12 March 1967, which would put her just before her Vietnam deployment. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104499

Then came Vietnam, where she sailed for in the summer of 1967.

From 28 August to 24 September, she provided gunfire support first for the 1st Cav Div’s operations in the II Corps area then for SEAL units operating in the Mekong Delta. She later was assigned to Task Group 77.8 on Yankee Station in the Gulf of Tonkin, Cony provided plane guard duty for the carrier Oriskany (CVA‑34). From 14 August 1967 to Christmas 1967, she patrolled the Taiwan Straits and was on gunfire support and plane guard duty in Cam Ranh Bay, Cape Saint Jacques, Vung Ganh Rai, the Saigon River, and Mui Ba Kiem, RVN.

Not bad looking for a 25 year old tin can that had fought in three wars. (DD-508) Underway in the Atlantic, 12 March 1968, the year before she was pulled from the line. Photographed by Lieutenant D.V. Orgill, USN. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. #: NH 104498

Not bad looking for a 25 year old tin can that had fought in three wars. (DD-508) Underway in the Atlantic, 12 March 1968, the year before she was pulled from the line. Photographed by Lieutenant D.V. Orgill, USN. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. #: NH 104498

Upon return to the states, she was decommissioned and stricken 2 July  1969.

Cony was sunk as a target off Puerto Rico 20 March 1970 via naval gunfire.

Most of her sisters met a similar fate with the last in U.S. Naval service, USS Stoddard (DD-566), being stricken 1 June 1975, and sunk in an exercise by Navy Seals of Seal Team One, 22 July 1997 off the coast of Hawaii in 2,550 fathoms of cool Pacific water.

A number of oral history interviews with members of Cony‘s crew are in the Library of Congress and her plans are in the National Archives.

To do your part to remember the old girl, you can visit one of the four Fletcher sisterships have been preserved as museum ships, although only USS Kidd was never modernized and retains her WWII configuration:

USS Cassin Young, in Boston, Massachusetts
USS The Sullivans, in Buffalo, New York
USS Kidd, in Baton Rouge, Louisiana
AT Velos, former USS Charrette in Palaio Faliro, Greece

As for Arkhipov, the Soviet staff officer who prohibited the firing of the nuclear-tipped torpedoes, in 2002 then-director of the US National Security Archive, Thomas Blanton, said that “Vasili Arkhipov saved the world.”

vasili_arkhipov

The Soviet submariner– who incidentally was XO of the “widow maker” K-19 and retired as a Vice Admiral in the 1980s–  died 19 August 1998 at age 72.

Specs:

(DD-508) In San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. The ship is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 21D. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104876

(DD-508) In San Francisco Bay, California, 25 February 1944. The ship is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 21D. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. NH 104876

(As commissioned, 1942)
Displacement: 2924 tons (full load)
Length: 376.5 ft. (114.8 m)
Beam: 39.5 ft. (12.0 m)
Draft: 17.5 ft. (5.3 m)
Propulsion: 60,000 shp (45 MW); 4 oil-fired boilers; 2 Allis Chalmers geared steam turbines; 2 screws
Speed: 36.5 knots (67.6 km/h; 42.0 mph)
Range: 5,500 miles at 15 knots
(8,850 km at 28 km/h)
Complement: 329 officers and men
Armament: 5 × single 5 inch (127 mm)/38 caliber guns
4 × 40 mm Bofors AA guns, 10 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannons
10 × 21 inch (533 mm) antiship torpedo tubes (2 × 5; Mark 15 torpedoes)
6 × K-gun depth charge projectors (later Hedgehog)
2 × depth charge racks

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 it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Franz Schmidt

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Franz Schmidt

Franz Schmidt was a German postcard artist probably best known for his series of city cards published from 1910-14 showing buildings and sites around his hometown of Nuremberg.

Nassauer Haus Nurnberg Germany, Franz Schmidt 1910.

Nassauer Haus Nurnberg Germany, Franz Schmidt 1910.

However, when the Great War popped off, Schmidt was commissioned to produce a series of “fighting man” style postcards for Trautmann & von Seggern of Hamburg (T&S) showing German troops in action in 1914-15.

While I cannot find much information on Schmidt’s background or how he obtained the study for the martial series (i.e. whether he used models, traveled to the front, relied on newspaper imagery) they are very well done and mostly correct, even if they are clearly propaganda. Each shows a good example of early war uniforms including piping, brass buttons and covered Pickelhaube and Czapka.

The below come from The Rare Book Collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Wilson Library has a massive collection of WWI postcards (nearly 10,000!)

Battle of St. Quentin. German soldiers on horseback, carrying swords, are riding toward English and Scottish infantry.

Battle of St. Quentin. German soldiers on horseback, carrying swords, are riding toward English and Scottish infantry.

Color image on a postcard showing a German infantryman holding his rifle, standing in the woods.

Color image on a postcard showing a German infantryman holding his rifle, standing in the woods.

Color image on a postcard showing a German Marine on a beach, carrying a rifle over his shoulder.

Color image on a postcard showing a German Marine on a beach, carrying a rifle over his shoulder.

German 77mm field artillery defend from French cavalry in battle near the Aisne

German 77mm field artillery defend from French cavalry in battle near the Aisne

German gunner at a gun park. He is standing in front of cannons, holding an artillery short sword

German gunner at a gun park. He is standing in front of cannons, holding an artillery short sword

German troops attacking Indian troops at Ypres, in West Flanders. Througout the war the Germans made a big deal of the fact that both France and Britain utilized colonial troops who the German media characterized as savages-- while they played up their own native Askari troops in Africa.

German troops attacking Indian troops at Ypres, in West Flanders. Throughout the war the Germans made a big deal of the fact that both France and Britain utilized colonial troops who the German media often characterized as savages– while they played up their own native Askari troops in Africa.

German soldiers fighting French soldiers at Neufchâteau

German soldiers fighting French soldiers at Neufchâteau

Hussar standing with his horse in a city that has been bombed. In his hand is a lit cigar

Hussar standing with his horse in a city that has been bombed. In his hand is a lit cigar.

Landstrum soldier at a railway station. There is snow on the ground, and a train sits on a track in the background.

Landstrum soldier at a railway station. There is snow on the ground, and a train sits on a track in the background.

Postcard showing a member of the German uhlan cavalry on horseback with lance.

Postcard showing a member of the German uhlan cavalry on horseback with lance.

Schmidt’s cards from time to time pop up online on eBay and others, typically at low ($5-$10) prices.

Thank you for your work, sir.

Endangered Marine XM-3s being preserved via CMP

In 2004, the Marine snipers deployed in the sandbox needed a rifle that was shorter and lighter as well as quieter, than their standard M40s.

This led a small group of sniper wonks including Steve Reichert (then SNCOIC of the 2nd Marine Division’s Pre-Sniper course) and others to hammer out what was known as the DARPA XM-3 rifle, using an 18.5″ Hart 416R Stainless Steel (Mil-Gauged) barrel that was suppressor ready.

That's a full length rifle

That’s a fully asssembled sniper rifle…

What was so special about them?

From Steve Reichert:

-The receivers were clip slotted to accept the reverse-engineered titianium picatinny rail (IBA Design) to fit firmly.
-The receivers’ internal threads were opened up to 1.070” to allow a perfectly true alignment with the bolt face and chamber/bore dimension. The chamber was cut to accept M118LR ammo.
-The titanium recoil lug was built with the 1.070” diameter opening for the larger-barrel threads and surface ground true.
-The stainless steel magazine box was hand fitted and welded to eliminate movement when assembled.
-The stocks were custom made for the project.
-The barreled actions were bedded in titanium Devcon and Marine Tex to allow for decades of hard use without losing torque or consistency.
-Nightforce made a full 1 MOA elevation adjustment on their NXS 3.5-15X50’s to allow for faster dope changes at distance. These scopes had 1/4 MOA windage.

While successful and a hit with the Devils who got to use them, the 56 or so XM3’s were all pulled from service by 2014.

Thankfully, some have made thier way to the CMP and, as surplus bolt-action rifles, can be sold to the public.

They just auctioned off XM-3 rifle, serial number S6534025 with a factory green stock finish, built at Iron Brigade Armory by D. Briggs, USMC (Ret), 2112.

The rifle included the scope, sniper data book with some firing information; PVS22 Night Vision Device and other goodies.

xm-3-rifle-serial-number-s6534025-has-a-factory-green-stock-finish-and-shows-signs-of-use-but-was-well-maintained-and-cared-for-was-built-at-iba-by-d-briggs-usmc-ret-2112 pvs-22

Talk about functional history…

Springfield Armory still has 2/3rds of the first M1917 rifles

The 30.06 caliber Model 1917 Enfield was developed from the .303 British Pattern 1914 (P.14) rifle. Currently on the Springfield Armory museum collection, there are two Model 1917 Enfields with Serial #1.

In the above photo, the top rifle was made by Winchester in New Haven, Connecticut, while the bottom rifle was made by Eddystone Arsenal in Chester, Pennsylvania. Approximately 2.2 Million Model 1917 Enfields would be produced between 1917 and 1918, and remain in service through WWII and with overseas American allies to this day (The Danish Sirius Patrol still uses it as the M17/M53 rifle).

The rifles were cranked out extremely fast, with the assembly record being 280 rifles a day for an individual craftsman while the assemblers in the various plants averaged 250 rifles per day per man.

The cost of the Model 1914 Enfield to the British Government was $42.00 each. These modified Enfields cost the United States Government, due to standardization methods, approximately $26.00 each.

Eddystone made 1,181,910 rifles with #1 being SPAR 3191 in the Museum’s collection

Winchester made 465,980 rifles with #1 being SPAR 3192 . It was presented to President Woodrow Wilson on 23 January 1918.

Winchester M1917 SN#1 on the rack at Springfield. Note how blonde the stock is on "Woodrow's" gun

Winchester M1917 SN#1 on the rack at Springfield. Note how blonde the stock is on “Woodrow’s” gun

Unfortunately, Springfield does not have Remington’s M1917 SN#1.

As the company was the first to start production, they likely shipped it right out. The earliest Remington M1917 rifle I can find is serial number of 137, which was likely made the first day of production. This gun is in the National Firearms Museum in Fairfax, Va.

sn-137-remington-m1917-first-day-of-production

 

Petersburg could triple in size

During the opening attacks on Petersburg in June, 1864, Union forces captured a portion of the Confederate line east of Petersburg. Confederate Battery V was the first gun battery to be captured. The remains of the battery are located behind the current Petersburg National Battlefield Eastern Front Visitor Center. (Photo LOC)

During the opening attacks on Petersburg in June, 1864, Union forces captured a portion of the Confederate line east of Petersburg. Confederate Battery V was the first gun battery to be captured. The remains of the battery are located behind the current Petersburg National Battlefield Eastern Front Visitor Center. (Photo LOC)

The Siege at Petersburg was just a dumpster fire of a military campaign in the Civil War that saw Grant nail the feet of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia to the floor outside of Richmond and keep him there for almost 10 months. The bloodletting included such horror as the Battle of the Crater and the assault on Fort Stedman ultimately broke Lee’s back. Within weeks of the end of the campaign came Appomattox. Within weeks of Appomattox came the end of the war in the rest of the Confederacy.

Now, it looks like the 2,700 acres of the National Park Service’s Petersburg National Battlefield could be set to balloon if the money is right.

From the AP: 

Legislation signed days ago by President Barack Obama authorizes, but does not pay for, the addition of more than 7,000 acres to the existing 2,700 acres of rolling hills, earthworks and siege lines already under protection at Petersburg.

Expansion has been a longtime priority of park advocates and comes amid a push to bolster and protect battlefields around the country this decade as the nation marked the 150th anniversary of the war. Supporters say the larger boundary would not only protect historic sites from commercial development but also give park visitors a more comprehensive understanding of the Petersburg campaign, which left tens of thousands of men dead.

“We’re finally moving forward. … We’re looking at the park and looking at the story in a whole new way,” said Lewis Rogers, the park’s superintendent, who joked that the weeks of waiting for the president’s signature had left him in misery.

More here

Warship Wednesday January 4, 2017: There is no longer an Escape

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 of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday January 4, 2017: There is no longer an Escape

NH 88515

NH 88515

Here we see a rack of 68-pound MK. V Diving Helmets stored on board the Diver-class salvage and rescue ship USS Escape (ARS-6), during the 1960s. From the NHC caption: “The helmets constantly have a light burning inside to keep out moisture and corrosion when stored in this manner. Sailors on board the ship say it makes a spooky sight, much like a rack of Halloween Jack-O-Lantern.”

Escape had a long and interesting life that saw her role repeatedly redefined.

The Navy was already experienced in marine salvage prior to World War II. Several major operations involved the recovery of three submarines between the wars: USS S-51 in 1925; USS S-4 in 1927; and USS Squalus in 1939.

However, the Navy did not have ships specifically designed and built for salvage work when it entered WWII, and it was not until the start of the war that salvage ships become a distinct vessel type.

The earliest designated United States Navy salvage ships (ARS) were converted WWI-era Lapwing-class minesweepers (USS Viking ARS-1, USS Crusader ARS-2, USS Discoverer ARS-3, and USS Redwing ARS-4) but they were far from adequate when it came to heavy deep sea lifting.

Then came the purpose-built Diver-class.

Built at Basalt Rock Co., Napa, Calif. — a gravel company who was in the barge building biz– 17 of the new 213-foot vessels were constructed during WWII.

Fitted with a 20-ton capacity boom forward and 10-ton capacity booms aft, they had automatic towing machines, two fixed fire pumps rated at 1,000 gallons per minute, four portable fire pumps, and eight sets of “beach gear,” pre-rigged anchors, chains and cables for use in refloating grounded vessels. And of course, they were excellently equipped to support divers in the water with one double re-compression chamber and two complete diving stations aft for air diving and two 35-foot workboats. The Mark V helmet shown above? It was put into production in 1942 with these ships in mind.

Class leader USS Diver (ARS-5) commissioned 23 October 1943 and the hero of our tale, Escape, followed shortly after.

Escape (ARS-6) in the Napa River, CA. 11 November 1943, about a week before commissioning. This ship, the second of this type ordered for the US Navy, was completed with a modified rig aft consisting of a single kingpost with two longer booms. One of the booms was soon deleted, and this became the standard rig for the remainder of the class. US National Archives, RG-19-LCM, photo #'s 19-N-57115, US Navy Bureau of Ships photos now in the collections of the US National Archives, courtesy Shipscribe.com via Navsource. http://www.navsource.org/archives/09/37/3706.htm

Escape (ARS-6) in the Napa River, CA. 11 November 1943, about a week before commissioning. This ship, the second of this type ordered for the US Navy, was completed with a modified rig aft consisting of a single kingpost with two longer booms. One of the booms was soon deleted, and this became the standard rig for the remainder of the class. US National Archives, RG-19-LCM, photo #’s 19-N-57115, US Navy Bureau of Ships photos now in the collections of the US National Archives, courtesy Shipscribe.com via Navsource.

Assigned to Norfolk and then Bermuda in late 1943, Escape was based for general salvage and towing duties and during the conflict rescued at least four ships at sea including the steamer SS George Ade which was hit by a Gnat from U-518 about 125 miles off the coast of North Carolina. Despite a hurricane that brought 100-knot winds and 50-foot seas, Escape brought Ade into port and the merchantman was eventually returned to service.

Escape 1945

Escape 1945, looking a good bit more broken in than in her 1943 photo.

As the war ended, Escape was tasked with getting the Italian submarine Goffredo Mameli back to the spaghetti boat’s home. When she was commissioned in 1929, Mameli was the deepest diving sub in the world and she also became one of the luckiest as the Italians lost something like 8 out of 10 submarines they had in the war. Mameli had spent the last few months of the conflict in the U.S. as a training ship.

Italian Submarine Goffredo Mameli August 27, 1944 off the east coast of the U.S. (Maine). Following the Armistice, Mameli and two of her sisters were sent to the US to serve as training targets for allied forces and were based in Florida, near the SONAR school in Key West. Photographed by a blimp from ZP-11

Italian Submarine Goffredo Mameli August 27, 1944 off the east coast of the U.S. (Maine). Following the Armistice, Mameli and two of her sisters were sent to the US to serve as training targets for allied forces and were based in Florida, near the SONAR school in Key West. Photographed by a blimp from ZP-11

On 8 November 1945, Escape sailed from Key West escorting, and later towing, Mameli to Taranto, Italy and returned to Norfolk  22 January 1946 on;yto be laid up six months later.

Reactivated in 1951, she was soon busy salvaging the wreck of the gunboat USS Erie (PG-50), a past Warship Weds alumni, from the inner harbor of Willemstad, Curacao.

Here is a USN training film on the classic dive dress used during most of Escape‘s Navy service.

In 1958, Escape recovered a full-scale Jupiter IRBM (Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile) nose cone of a returning Jupiter-C rocket from the waters near Antigua and in 1960 was a support ship for Operation Sky Hook, a high-altitude balloon reconnaissance research program, which prepped her for helping in the NASA recovery operations with Project Mercury January 30, 1960, and November and December 1960; Apollo-Saturn 12 (AS-12), November 14-24, 1969; Skylab-2 (SL-2), May 25-June 22, 1973; and Skylab-3 (SL-3), July 28-September 25, 1973.

post-2322-0-21040800-1420173151

Oh yeah, and she participated in the 1961 Cuban Missile Crisis blockade.

In short, she was a really busy salvage ship.

In the aftermath of the Yom Kippur War, Escape spent the last six months of 1974 clearing wrecks blocking the Suez Canal as part of Operation Nimrod Spar (316-page SUPSALV report on that here another 115-page one here)

nimrod-spar

USS Escape on Lake Timash, Egypt, 1974

USS Escape on Lake Timash, Egypt, 1974

USS ESCAPE (ARS-6) Entering a Mediterranean Sea Port, during the 1970s. Catalog #: NH 88518 click to big up

USS ESCAPE (ARS-6) Entering a Mediterranean Sea Port, during the 1970s. Catalog #: NH 88518 click to big up

USS Escape (ARS-6) moored pierside at Cartagena, Spain, circa 1976-77. Mario Gomes via Navsource

USS Escape (ARS-6) moored pierside at Cartagena, Spain, circa 1976-77. Mario Gomes via Navsource

With the Navy having several newer classes of salvage ships (the Anchor, Weight, Bolster and Safeguard-class vessels) Escape and her sisters were effectively replaced in by the 1970s.

Escape was decommissioned, 1 September 1978 and laid up with the James River Reserve Fleet near Norfolk.  In her 35 years of service with the Navy, 22 skippers had helmed her.

Then came the Cuban boatlift crisis and the Coast Guard was woefully short of ships. In January 1981, Escape was transferred from reserve fleet to the U.S. Coast Guard.

escape-1981-uscg-orders
In the rush to convert the grey-hulled salvage ship to a white-hulled lawman, her sponsons were taken off, she was converted from DC to AC, her diving support system and decompression chamber were removed, and much of her salving storage converted. Her armament was landed and she would roll with small arms only.

escape

uscgc-escape
She was commissioned at 10 a.m. on 14 March 1981 at Portsmouth, Va. and at the time was the largest cutter in the USCG’s Seventh District (outclassing the “puny” 210-foot Reliance class WMECs by three feet oal).

Although the helmets were long gone, she kept her name, hull number and WWII era ship’s insignia.

escape-insignia

1945, 1958 and 1981 respectively

Humanitarian service remained a hallmark of her career, rescuing some 586 Haitians from the sea in a single month in 1989, besting this in a three-week period in 1994 with 1193 Haitians from 39 waterlogged “vessels” (at one time having 397 souls clustered on her deck).

USCGC Escape (WMEC-6) on patrol in the Caribbean Sea picking up refugees, circa 1994. Photo courtesy of the National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors, contributed by Scott Vollmer via Navsource

USCGC Escape (WMEC-6) on patrol in the Caribbean Sea picking up refugees, circa 1994. Photo courtesy of the National Association of Fleet Tug Sailors, contributed by Scott Vollmer via Navsource

Her service to the Coast Guard, besides the Cuban boatlift, was the stuff of legend and she popped a number of large narco boats including the M/V Portside with 10-tons of grass just six months after she was commissioned, M/V Juan XIII with 13-tons in 1982, the Colombian M/V Mr. Ted with 18 tons of marijuana just 100 miles off the coast of South Carolina in 1988, 515 keys of coke on the U.S. flagged yacht Ojala in 1992 (along with the hydrofoil USS Gemini) and enforcing Operation Support Democracy, the UN embargo on Haiti.

Things sometimes got dicey. In December 1982, the M/V My Lord tried to ram the old girl but the cutter managed to get a boarding team on board to arrest eight and seize five tons of narcotics.

Other conversions from her original salvage role came and her forward cargo boom and salvage wench were removed, a new gyro and weight room added, new reefers added, the ship’s office converted to CPO mess, ship’s store converted to berthing, towing wench landed and two Zodiac Hurricane boats loaded.

She earned the nickname “Workhorse of the Atlantic” picking up a Coast Guard Unit Commendation, three Meritorious Unit Commendations, four Humanitarian Service Medals, two Operational Readiness Awards and five Special Operations Award– the latter all for Operation Able Manner.

When she decommissioned 29 June 1995 at Charleston, Escape was the oldest medium endurance cutter in the Coast Guard’s Atlantic Area and seven USCG captains had skippered her.

With all of the modifications, and her extended age, Escape was not in a condition suitable for recall and re-use by the Navy as a salvage vessel and was laid up at the National Defense Reserve Fleet, James River Group, Lee Hall, VA.

There she remained until the Maritime Administration paid $115,200 to Bay Bridge Enterprises LLC of Chesapeake, VA to scrap the old girl in 2009.

As for her 16 sisters, they all left U.S. Navy service fairly rapidly in the 1970s and disposed of with only the USS Preserver (ARS-8) lasting somehow until 1994. Two went to South Korea; one, ex- USS Grapple (ARS-7) is still active as ROCS Da Hu (ARS-552) in Taiwan and one, ex-USS Safeguard (ARS-25), went to Turkey. The latter is supposedly still active as TCG Isin (A-589) though her replacement is nearing.

Two of Escape‘s sisters, USS Seize (ARS-26) and USS Shackle (ARS-9) also went to the Coast Guard as USCGC Yocona (WMEC-168) and USCGC Acushnet (WMEC-167) respectively. Seize/Yocona was sunk as a target in 2006 and Shackle/Acushnet, decommissioned in 2011 as the last Diver-class vessel in U.S. service, is currently for sale in Anacortes, Wash and efforts are afoot to save her.

Escape‘s plans are in the National Archives.

One of the last remnants of her in circulation are postal cancellations honoring her as part of the NASA recovery fleet.

skylab2-escape-03

And, of course, MK V helmets.

Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport dock. US Navy Diver Breslin looks pretty happy in his MK V rig 1950

Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport dock. US Navy Diver Breslin looks pretty happy in his MK V rig 1950

Specs:
Displacement: 1,441 tons (1943)
1,756 tons (1964)
Length: 213′ 6″
Beam: 39′
Draft: 13′ 11″ (1964)
Propulsion: Four Combustion Engineering GSB-8 Diesel engines
double Fairbanks-Morse Main Reduction Gears
twin propellers, 3,000shp
Ship’s Service Generators
two Diesel-drive 200Kw 120V D.C.
one Diesel-drive 60Kw 120V D.C.
Fuel Capacity: 95,960 gallons
Maximum Speed: 14.8 knots on trials.
Range: 9,000 miles @ 15 knots
Cruising Speed: 10.3 knots (13,700 mile range)
Complement:  7+113 (USN–1943)
76 (USN–1964)
USGC: Final crew was 8 officers, 3 CPOs, 35 enlisted. (Authorised in 1981 with 7 officers, 65 enlisted)
Radar: OS-8E (1964)
Armament:
Designed: one single 3″/50 cal dual purpose gun mount
two twin 40mm AA gun mounts
four .50 cal machine guns
(1964) 2 x 20mm/80
(1981) Small arms

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.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, 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 it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Western Rifle Shooters Association

Good luck, Mr. President.

Meccanica Mekaniikka Mecanică

The Mechanix of Auto, Aviation, Military...pert near anything I feel relates to mechanical things, places, events or whatever I happen to like. Even non-mechanical artsy-fartsy stuff.

Eatgrueldog

Where misinformation stops and you are force fed the truth III

The LBM Blogger

Make Big Noise

Not Clauswitz

The semi-sprawling adventures of a culturally hegemonic former flat-lander and anti-idiotarian individualist who fled the toxic Smug emitted by self-satisfied lotus-eating low-land Tesla-driving floppy-hat-wearing lizadroid-Leftbat Coastal Elite Califorganic eco-tofuistas ~ with guns, off-road moto, boulevardier-moto, moto-guns, snorkeling, snorkel-guns, and home-improvement stuff.

The Angry Staff Officer

Peddling history, alcohol, defense, and sometimes all three at once

To the Sound of the Guns

Civil War Artillery, Battlefields and Historical Markers

Time to Eat the Dogs

On Science, History, and Exploration

wwiiafterwwii

wwii equipment used after the war

Nick Of Time ForeX UK

Freelance Blogging, Foreign Exchange, News on Global Foreign Exchange Activities. Education (MOOCs/eLearning) Content.

Granite State Guns

"I love to watch extreme forces at work. Sometimes, It involves destroying things."

Growing Up Guns

Safety Concerns, Strategies, Tactics, and Becoming a Competent Family Defender

Impro Guns

The International Commission on Global Improvised Arms Proliferation....

The Dogtag Chronicles

So there I was...the veteran perspective in their own words.

its an eger life

Blog of a makeup obsessed business student

%d bloggers like this: