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Warship Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019: Splinter No. 330 (of 448)

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time 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, Jan. 2, 2019: Splinter No. 330 of 448

Collection of George K. Beach, U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 91189

Here we see the mighty 110-foot Submarine Chaser No. 330 of the U.S. Navy en route across the Atlantic, circa September-October 1918, to take the fight to the Kaiser’s unterseeboot threat. The hearty little class, more akin to yachts or trawlers than warships, were hard to kill and gave unsung service by the hundreds, with SC-330 one of the longer-lasting of the species.

In an effort to flood the Atlantic with sub-busting craft and assure the U-boat scourge was driven from the sea, the 110-foot subchasers were designed by Herreshoff Boat Yard Vice President, the esteemed naval architect Albert Loring Swasey (Commodore of the MIT Yacht Club in 1897) on request of Asst Naval Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1916 and rushed into construction the next year. It was believed the vessels could be rushed out via commercial boat yards at $500K a pop.

Submarine Chaser SC-49 parading with other Sub Chasers off an unknown East Coast port

Derided as a “splinter fleet” the SCs were built from wood (the most excellent Subchaser Archives says “Frame/floors: white oak. Planking: yellow pine. Deck planking: Oregon pine”), which, when powered by a trio of Standard 220-hp 6-cylinder gasoline (!) engines, a 24~ man crew could get the narrow-beamed vessel underway at a (designed) top speed of 18 knots, which was fast enough for U-boat work at the time.

View in the engine room, looking aft, circa 1918. Taken by Louis Harder, at The Naval Experimental Station, New London, Conn NH 44355

Armed with a 3″/23cal low-angle pop gun forward– which was still capable of punching a hole in a submarine’s sail or pressure hull out to 8,000 yards– a couple of M1895 Colt/Marlin or Lewis light machine guns for peppering periscopes, and assorted depth charges (both racks and projectors), they were dangerous enough for government work.

3-inch gun drill, Submarine Chaser operating in European waters, 1918 NH 124131

Deck scene aboard a U.S. Navy Submarine Chaser during World War I. Caption: This photo, taken from the top of the pilot house, shows the boat’s “Y” gun depth charge thrower aft of amidships and a 12-foot Wherry dinghy coming alongside (each chaser carried one as well as a liferaft stowed on the engine room trunk). The submarine chaser in the picture is not identified but may be USS SC-143. Original photograph from the collection of Mr. Peter K. Connelly, who was Boatswain on the SC-143 in 1918-1919. NH 64978

For finding their quarry, they were equipped with hydrophones produced by the Submarine Signal Company of Boston (which today is Raytheon), of the C-tube and K-tube variety.

As noted by no less authority than Admiral William S. Sims in a 1920 article reprinted in All Hands in 1954:

“The C-tube consisted of a lead pipe-practically the same as a water pipe which was dropped over the side of the ship fifteen or
twenty feet into the sea; this pipe contained the wires which, at one end, were attached to the devices under the water, and which, at the other end, reached the listener’s ears.”

When a cavitation submarine was near it “showed signs of lively agitation. It trembled violently and made a constantly increasing hullabaloo in the ears of the listener.”

C-Tube Illustration #2 Caption: This diagram shows the inner workings of a C-tube listening device. Original Location: Submarine Signal Company Descriptive Specifications of General Electric Company’s “C” Tube Set, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 338, National Archives, Washington, DC

C-Tube Illustration #1 The C-Tube over the side

“At work aboard a U.S. Navy submarine chaser (SC),” at the U.S. Naval Experimental Station, New London, Connecticut, circa 1918. Photo by Louis Harder, New London. NH 2460

Besides escorting coastal convoys (subchasers had short legs) and watching for surfaced boats, 3-packs of the hardy little vessels would drift and listen, their K-tubes and C-tubes in the water, depth charges at the ready.

From Sims:

The three little vessels, therefore, drifted abreast-at a distance of a mile or two apart-their propellers hardly moving, and the decks as silent as the grave; they formed a new kind of fishing expedition, the officers and crews constantly held taut by the expectation of a “bite.” The middle chaser of the three was the flagship and her most interesting feature was the so-called plotting room. Here one officer received constant telephone reports from all three boats, giving the nature of the sounds, and, more important still, their directions. He transferred these records to a chart as soon as they came in, rapidly made calculations, and in a few seconds, he was able to give the location of the submarine. This process was known as “obtaining a fix.”

This photograph captioned “Battle Formation of Sub-chasers”, seems to depict the vessels in a columnar formation, which would be unusual for engaging with a submarine. The battle formation was most commonly ships arranged in a line abreast. From the T. Woofenden Collection at via NHHC

The first of the class, SC-1, was built at Naval Station New Orleans and commissioned in October 1917. Others were built at Mare Island, New York (Brooklyn), Charleston, Norfolk and Puget Sound Naval Yards; by Matthews Boat in Ohio, Hodgdon Yacht in Maine, Hiltebrant in Kingston, College Point Boat Works, Mathis Yacht in New Jersey, Barrett SB in Alabama, Great Lake Boat Building Corp in Milwaukee…well, you get the idea…they were built everywhere, some 448 vessels over three years.

110-foot subchaser under construction in Cleveland. Photo by Cleveland Parks

110-foot wooden submarine chaser being built at an unidentified shipyard. NARA 165-WW-506a-111

Our subject, SC-330, was handcrafted with love by the Burger Boat Co., Manitowoc, Wisconsin— the only such craft built by the yard– and commissioned 8 February 1918. Of note, Burger is still in the yacht biz today.

She cut her teeth with the early submarine hunter-killer group centered around the Paulding-class four-piper destroyer USS Jouett (DD-41) on the East Coast.

Assigned to Division 12 of Submarine Chaser Squadron 4 for service overseas during the Great War, SC-330 headed overseas in September 1918, ending up in the Azores.

U.S Navy Submarine Chasers at sea in August 1918. NH 63449

Submarine chasers at sea in European waters during World War I NH 2687

Rushed into service, at least 121 of the 110s made it “Over There” before Versailles, including no less than 36 that operated in the Med from the island of Corfu. Not bad for ships that only hit the drawing board in late 1916.

The boat carried two officers, a CPO, five engine rates, three electricians (radiomen), a BM, a QM, 3 hydrophone listeners, a couple of guys in the galley, and 5-7 seamen. Crews were often a mix of trawlermen serving as rates, Ivy League yachtsmen as officers, and raw recruits making up the balance. In many cases, the Chief was the only regular Navy man aboard. Life was primative, with no racks, one head and hammocks strung all-round.

Most crews went from civilian life to getting underway in just a few months. The fact that these craft deploying to Europe did so on their own power– effectively in a war zone as soon as they left brown water on the East Coast– with very little in the way of a shakedown is remarkable.

Subchaser refueling, on the voyage from the Azores to Ireland

Fueling sub chasers at sea, 1918. Capable of an 880-mile range on their 2,400 gallons of gasoline, each chaser needed to refuel 4-5 times while on a crossing of the Atlantic. Pretty heady stuff in the day. NH 109622

In an Azores harbor with other ships of the U.S. and foreign navies, circa October 1918. The six sub chasers in the left center of the view, with bows to the camera, are (from left to right): SC-223, SC-330, SC-180, SC-353, SC-331 and (probably) SC-356. Ships nested with them, to the right, include a bird type minesweeper and two converted yacht patrol vessels. The four sailing ship masts to the extreme right probably belong to the French Quevilly, which was serving as station tanker in the Azores. Collection of George K. Beach, who was a crewmember of USS SC-331 at the time. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 99742

Mosquito fleet U.S. Navy submarine chasers of the “Mosquito Fleet” at the Azores, circa 1919. Naval History and Heritage Command NH 67714

The ships did what they could and, when used in a littoral, performed admirably. For example, a squadron of 11 of these chasers screened the British-French-Italian naval forces during the Second Battle of Durazzo in Oct. 1918, destroying mines that threatened the bombarding ships and driving off an Austrian submarine trying to attack the Allied fleet.

However, when in open ocean, things could get really real for them.

As noted by an Irish site referencing the 30 110s under Capt. A.J. Hepburn that arrived in August 1918:

The 110 foot subchaser was a fine sea boat, but was never designed to withstand the wild Atlantic seas off Ireland. Constant leaks from decks and windows, choking petrol fumes in the officers quarters, and constant seasickness from the rolling motion, were the lot of crews of these craft.

In heavy weather they would be almost awash, with only the pilot house showing above the waves. The depth charge racks were felt to be too heavy and made the vessels prone to taking seas over the stern. Many reports of German submarines from coastwatchers and others were actually subchasers ploughing through heavy seas.

Subchaser in heavy seas, showing how, from a distance, it could be mistaken for a u-boat

Once the war ended, SC-330 was sent back to the states, served in Gitmo for a time, and was laid up in the Gulf Coast in 1919.

Submarine chasers awaiting disposition. Caption: Part of the hundreds of World War I submarine chasers tied up at the Port Newark Army Base, New Jersey, awaiting disposition, 13 May 1920. Those identified include: USS SC-78, USS SC-40, USS SC-47, USS SC-143, and USS SC-110. Description: Courtesy of the San Francisco Maritime Museum, San Francisco, California, 1969. Catalog #: NH 69166

SC-330 caught a reprieve. In the summer of 1920, she was sent up the Mississippi River system and served on semi-active duty through the 1920s and 30s, training Naval Reservists in the Midwest. As such, the little boat and those like her cradled the USNR through the interwar period, and, without such vessels, WWII would have looked a lot different.

S-330 underway in Midwestern waters, during the 1920s or 1930s. Sign on the building in the right distance reads Central Illinois Light Co. Note that she has lost her depth charges and Y-gun, not needed for use on the Mississippi River. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 41996

Three of the 110s that made it to WWII service: USS SC-330; USS SC-412; and USS SC-64, in port, circa the 1920s or 1930s. The original image is printed on postal card stock. Note the difference in lettering, with some using abbreviations (“S.C. 64”) and some not (“SC412”) Donation of Dr. Mark Kulikowski, 2005. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Photo #: NH 103096

Of her 448 sisters, more than 100 were transferred to the French during the war, some to the Coast Guard in the 1920s, and most liquidated by the early 1930s as they grew long in the tooth. Wood vessels with gasoline engines weren’t highly desired by the Navy at the time, after all.

USCGC Vaughan, ex-USS SC-152, was built by the Gibbs Gas Engine Co., Jacksonville, FL but served her career in Coastie White off Key West and San Diego during Prohibiton. With Volstead on its way out, she was decommissioned 28 March 1928 and sold. Her end is similar to most SCs., discarded before they had 10 years on their rapidly deteriorating wooden hulls.

Few of the 110s survived the Depression on Uncle’s inventory and SC-330 was the only one of her 100-ship block (from SC 301-400) to serve in WWII, likely continuing her role as a training ship. As most of her life had been spent in freshwater– usually wintering ashore to keep out of the ice– the likely contributed to her longevity.

SC-330 out of the water for maintenance, from an article in the Marengo-Union Times relating a 1940s interaction with the vessel at St. Louis, MO

Only about a dozen or so 110s were carried on the Naval List during the Second World War. (The other 12 were: SC-64, SC-102, SC-103, SC-185, SC-412, SC-431, SC-432, SC-437, SC-440, SC-449, SC-450, SC-453, one of which was lost and three were retired before the end of the war. In addition, SC-229 and SC-231 were in USCG service as the cutters Boone and Blaze, respectively). Most were in YP or training duties, although some did mount ASW gear to include mousetrap bomb throwers and depth charges, just in case.

SC-330, was one of the last four of her type in service, decommissioning and struck from the Navy Register 22 June 1945, then transferred to the War Shipping Administration on 8 October 1946. (The only longer-lasting 110s were: SC-431 transferred to WSA on 12/9/46, SC-437 on 3/21/47, and SC-102 on 1/3/47).

While these craft are all largely gone for good, extensive plans remain of the vessels in the National Archives.

For more on these craft, please visit Splinter Fleet and The Subchaser Archives.


Displacement: 85 tons full load, 77 tons normal load
Length: 110 ft oa (105 ft pp)
Beam: 14 ft 9 in
Draft: 5 ft 7 in
Propulsion: Three 220 bhp Standard gasoline engines (!) as built, replaced by Hall & Scott engines in 1920.
Speed: 18 kn as designed, 16 or less in practice
Range: 880 nmi at 10 kn with 2,400 gallons fuel
Complement: Two officers, 22-25 enlisted
Sonar-like objects: One Submarine Signal Company C-Tube, M.B. Tube, or K Tube hydrophone
1 × 3 in (76 mm)/23-caliber low-angle gun mount, fwd (2 designed, only one mounted in favor of Y-gun aft)
2 × Colt/Marlin M1895 .30-06 caliber machine guns (some seen with Lewis guns)
1 × Y-gun depth charge projector, depth charge racks

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The most important part of a Harrier’s selling point

British air power in the Falklands Islands War in 1982 was limited to a handful of Harriers crammed on a pair of smallish carriers and a merchant ship, while the Argentines were able to throw all of their land-based A-4s and Mirage III/Vs at the British task force.

A low-flying Argentine Mirage attacks the British at San Carlos, Falklands, May 1982

However, the Brits did manage to use their “jump jets” to good effect, including creating a FOB ashore.

A Harrier hide.

The San Carlos Forward Operating Base was variously called West Wittering, HMS Sheathbill and Sid’s Strip (after Squadron Leader Syd Morris)

As noted by Think Defence:

The FOB was variously called West Wittering, HMS Sheathbill and Sid’s Strip (after Squadron Leader Syd Morris) depending on what service you belonged to. The final FOB, operated by 11 Squadron RE and commanded by the RAF had a 260m runway, dispersal areas for four aircraft, a separate vertical landing pad and a redesigned and reinstalled bulk fuel installation that could store 18,000 Litres.

More here.

Lighting up the sky on All Saints Day, 75 years ago today

Here we see the Cleveland-class light cruiser USS Columbia (CL-56), her after 6″/47cal gun turrets just absolutely lighting up the sky during a night bombardment of Japanese facilities in the Shortland Islands, covering the landings on nearby Bougainville, 1 November 1943.

Official U.S. Navy photo 80-G-44058 from the U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

Note that the image has been retouched by censors to eliminate radar antennas on gun directors and masthead.

Armed with a dozen 6″/47 Mark 16 guns in four triple turrets, Columbia could lob a 130-pound AP shell 20,000-yards and, as a well-trained crew could get out 10-rounds per minute per tube (for brief periods anyway) the cruiser could plaster a target with 120 such shells in 60 seconds or less. The very night after the above photo was taken, Columbia helped her sisterships USS Montpelier, Cleveland, and Denver sink the Japanese cruiser Sendai and destroyer Hatsukaze, again proving the effectiveness of those beautiful Mark 16s.

Commissioned in 1942, Columbia earned 10 battle stars and was put in mothballs in 1946 after just a four-year stint in the majors. She sat on rust row until 1959 when she was stricken and scrapped.

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2018: The surprisingly long-lasting ghosts of the fleet

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, Oct. 31, 2018: The surprisingly long-lasting ghosts of the fleet

USS Specter’s hull number blotted out for wartime security via Navsource

With it being Halloween today, I couldn’t resist taking a stab at a spooktastic WW. While the tale of the USS Water Witch is a long and interesting one, I think I’ve done a lot of Civil War stuff lately and I have a big post (spoiler) coming up on the USS Cairo, so I skipped ahead to the 20th Century. Although the U.S. Navy has, by and large, stuck to names associated with naval heroes, states, cities, battles, and lawmakers, Interestingly enough, a pair of WWII minesweepers made it into service with the names USS Phantom and USS Specter, and both have interesting backstories.

So how could I resist?

In early 1941, the Navy set its sights on a hybrid class of new steel-hulled oceangoing sweepers built with lessons learned from their previous designs, that of a 180-foot, 750-ton vessel that could both clear mines and, by nature of their forward and aft 3″/50 guns, provide a modicum of escort support. Since they could float in 9’9″ of water, they were deemed coastal minesweepers at first.

Preliminary design plan, probably prepared during consideration of what became the Admirable (AM-136) class. This drawing, dated 2 May 1941, is for a 750-ton (full load displacement) vessel with a length of 180 feet. The scale of the original drawing is 1/8″ = 1′. The original plan is in the 1939-1944 “Spring Styles Book” held by the Naval Historical Center U.S. Navy photo S-511-34

First of the class of what would eventually turn into orders for 147 ships (of which 123 were completed) was USS Admirable laid down as AMc-113, 8 April 1942 in Tampa, Florida.

The twin subjects of our tale today: Phantom (AM-273) was laid down by the Gulf Shipbuilding Co., Chickasaw, Ala., and commissioned 17 May 1944; while Specter (AM-306)–which was ironically supposed to be named “Spector”– was laid down by Associated Shipbuilders, Seattle, Wash. and commissioned on 30 August 1944. Phantom spent the rest of 1944 doing coastal patrol off the East Coast while Specter soon set off for the Pacific as the war.

By 1945, both were active in the West Pac, with Phantom picking up three battle stars while Specter won four, seeing service off Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Saipan, and the Japanese Home Islands.

Both were busy clearing minefields, patrolling, and performing escort duty, looking for submarines, suicide boats and Japanese kamikaze (Specter shot down one off le Shima on 25 May). Specter notably swept mines post-war at Nagasaki, Sasebo, Bungo Suido, and Tsushima while Phantom did the same off Okinawa and the China coast, remaining hard at work into the next year.

USS NIMBLE (AM-266) Caption: End ship in a nest of nine minesweepers and LCIS, at San Diego, California, circa 1945-46. Other ships in nest include PIVOT (AM-276), PHANTOM (AM-273), LCI-633. Description: Courtesy of Ted Stone 1979. Catalog #: NH 89284

The mines thinning, Phantom was decommissioned 10 October 1946 at Subic Bay while Specter was sent stateside, joining the mothball fleet at Orange, Texas after decommissioning 26 February 1947.

In the interest of propping up Chiang Kai-shek and his flagging KMT– as well as drawing down surplus– Phantom was stricken and transferred to the Nationalist Chinese Navy 15 June 1948. There, she served briefly as ROCS Yung Ming until scrapped in 1951.

As for Specter, she remained at Orange where she was duly redesignated from AM-306 to Fleet Minesweeper (Steel Hull). MSF-306, on 7 February 1955 while in reserve.

On 1 July 1972, after 26 years gathering red rust in Texas, she was struck and transferred the next year to the Armada de México to join a gaggle of other sisters used as patrol boats in an effort to keep out the “red menace” from Cuba. She became first ARM DM-04 and was later renamed ARM General Manuel E. Rincón (C-52).

For reference, the first of a score of Admirables to go south of the border was ex-USS Jubilant (AM/MSF-255)

Photo caption: National Defense Reserve Fleet, Orange, Texas (6 Dec 1962) – The former Admirable-Class Minesweeper USS Jubilant (AM 255) is being transferred to the Mexican Navy as DM-01 (D 1). She is the first five out of twenty U.S. Navy minesweepers being sold to Mexico from the World War II “mothball fleet.” U.S. Navy Commander A.F. Holzapfel said the vessels are destined for Mexico’s Yucatan patrol area to guard against Cuban infiltration. She will be renamed and reclassified as the ARM Riva Palacio (C 50) United Press International photo

The 20 Mexican Admirables, if you are curious:

ARM DM-01 (ex USS Jubilant MSF 255) (renamed General Vicente Riva Palacio C -50)
ARM DM-02 (ex USS Hilarity MSF 241)
ARM DM-03 (ex USS Execute MSF-232) (renamed ARM General Juan N. Méndez C-51).
ARM DM-04 (ex USS Facility MSF 233).
ARM DM-04 (ex USS Specter MSF 306) (renamed ARM General Manuel E. Rincón C-52), transferred in 1973 and also first registered as ARM DM-04.
ARM DM-05 (ex USS Scuffle MSF 298) (renamed ARM General Felipe Xicotencatl C-53).
ARM DM-06 (ex USS Eager MSF 224).
ARM DM-07 (ex USS Recruit MSF 285).
ARM DM-08 (ex USS Success MSF 310).
ARM DM-09 (ex USS Scout MSF-296).
ARM DM-10 (ex USS Instill MSF 252).
ARM DM-11 (ex USS Device MSF 220) (renamed E-1) (renamed at the end ARM Cadet Agustín Melgar C-54).
ARM DM-12 (ex USS Ransom MSF 283) (renamed ARM Lieutenant Juan de la Barrera C-55).
ARM DM-13 (ex USS Knave MSF 256) (renamed ARM Cadet Juan Escutia C-56).
ARM DM-14 (ex USS Rebel MSF 284) (renamed ARM Cadet Fernando Montes de Oca (C-57)
ARM DM-15 (ex USS Crag MSF 214)
ARM DM-16 (ex USS Dour MSF 223) ) (apparently re-registered E-6)
ARM DM-17 (ex USS Diploma MSF 221) (renamed ARM Cadet Francisco Márquez (C-59)
ARM DM-18 (ex USS Invade MSF 254) (renamed ARM General Ignacio Zaragoza C-60)
ARM DM-19 (ex USS Intrigue MSF 253) (renamed ARM Vicente Suárez C-61)
ARM DM-20 (ex USS Harlequin MSF 365) (converted to ARM Oceanographic, research H-02, later renamed ARM General Pedro María Anaya A-08 and finally ARM Aldebaran BE-02)

ARM DM-17 (ex USS Diploma MSF 221) 20 November 1988, Ciudad del Carmen, Campeche, Mexico, via Navsource

Most of the class would be stricken in Mexican service by the mid-1980s, with the exception of the 11 above that were redesignated corvettes (hence the C-designation) and continued to serve as offshore patrol craft for another decade or more. Specter/DM-04/Rincón survived until 2001.

The last Admirable in Mexican service, ex-USS Harlequin (AM 365)/Oceanográfico/Anaya/Aldebaran was still operational until 2007 when she was sunk as a reef.

The 11 old C-designated Admirables would be replaced in their patrol role by Auk-class minesweepers converted in the 1990s to install a helicopter pad for a German-made MBB BO 105CB helicopter. They looked wacky. Almost like a minesweeper dressed up as a frigate for Halloween.

Former AUK class minesweeper in Mexican navy note helicopter pad for BO105. Photo by Armada de Mexico (SEMAR)

Former AUK class minesweeper in Mexican navy note helicopter pad for BO105. Photo by Armada de Mexico (SEMAR)

These, in turn, were all replaced in by the 2000s by the domestically-built Holzinger-, Durango-, and Oaxaca-class offshore patrol vessels, 1,500-ton ships of a much more modern design.

the Admirable-class sweepers have been a very popular model over the years:


As for Phantom/Specter’s Admirable-class sisters, 24 were given to the Soviets in 1945 and never returned, others remained in use by the Navy through the Korean War era, and some, along with their PCE-gunboat sisters, were later passed on to the South Korea, the Republic of Vietnam, and the Dominican, Myanmar, and Philippine navies. The latter still uses a few, now with 80 years on their hulls.

Since 1993, the only Admirable-class vessel left above water in the U.S. is USS Hazard (AM-240).

Now a National Historic Landmark, she was retired in 1971 and, put up for sale on the cheap:


Hazard was installed on dry land at Freedom Park on the Missouri River waterfront in East Omaha where she is open to the public.

Please visit her, see if she has any treats.


According to the NPS:

The ship was transferred to Omaha with all of her spare parts and equipment intact. The only equipment missing from USS Hazard is the minesweeping cable. All equipment (radio, engines, ovens, electrical systems, plumbing) is fully operational. USS Hazard still retains its original dishes, kitchen utensils, and stationery. USS Hazard is one of the best preserved and intact warships remaining from World War II. USS Hazard is a virtual time capsule dating from 1945.


Image by shipbucket

Image by shipbucket

Displacement: 945 t (fl)
Length: 184 ft. 6 in (56.24 m)
Beam: 33 ft. (10 m)
Draft: 9 ft. 9 in (2.97 m)
2 × Cooper Bessemer GSB-8 diesel engines
National Supply Co. single reduction gear
2 shafts
Speed: 14.8 knots
Complement: 104
1 × 3″/50 caliber gun
1 × twin Bofors 40 mm guns
6 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons
1 × Hedgehog anti-submarine mortar
4 × Depth charge projectors (K-guns)
2 × Depth charge tracks

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.

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.

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Zveroboy #196

Whenever October-November starts creeping in, I find myself thinking in of the men and women of The Corvin (Kisfaludy) Passage. Those freedom fighters in the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 held out against the Soviets and the country’s puppet regime in bitter street fighting that pitted a handful of insurgents with largely small arms against a modern Eastern European military force that had cut its teeth in nasty house-to-house combined arms operations a generation before.

Among the hottest parts of Budapest during the conflict was the Corvin Cinema, which was used as the headquarters of revolution leader László Iván Kovács. The narrow streets around the cinema allowed Kovacs’ 1,000~ irregulars to hold off a full Soviet mechanized infantry division, and, using Molotov cocktails and improvised anti-tank weapons, the Covin group knocked out 12 tanks including a few massive ISU-152s– itself a heavy assault gun fielded by the Soviets in the last days of WWII. Termed the zveroboy (Russian: “beast killer”) it was designed to smash through concrete bunkers and Panther/Tiger tanks with ease.

The Covin group held their position for 15 days. But one of the most iconic fixtures from Corvin captured by Western journalists covering the fighting was ISU-152 #196 and its partner, abandoned by its crew along József Boulevard.

Street fighters with PPS sub guns and swagger

It can be seen in a number of images from those days.

An M44 Mosin-armed Hungarian soldier, wearing an armband marking his defection to the anti-Communist insurgents.

A young Hungarian girl emerges from a building housing resistance fighters carrying a Mauser. 196 is a street cart

Note the knocked out T-34/85 in the right

I can’t find out what happened to #196. The Soviets likely scrapped it as to not be a lesson to those that the iron giant could be stopped by determination. That the beast-killer itself was a monster when viewed through the lens of those in Budapest.

As for the fighters, it is estimated that the three-week Revolution resulted in the combat deaths of 722 Soviet troops and some 2,500-3,000 Hungarians. To this figure can be added some 253 Hungarians executed or died in prison for their part in the Revolution.

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2018: The lost Governor and the 142

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, Oct. 17, 2018: The lost Governor and the 142

Note: Normally on WSW we cover more legit steel “warships” and, while today’s entry is a wooden commercial vessel that only ever picked up an engine late in life, she did play an important part in WWII, and her current story is timely, so bear with me.

(Photo: Chris Eger)

Here we see 66-foot (over the bowsprit) wooden-hulled Gulf Coast-style schooner Governor Stone as I saw her in Ft. Walton in 2011. In another life, she helped train young men to brave German U-Boats and Japanese kamikazes and last week faced off one of the most powerful hurricanes to hit the United States in generations.

The two-masted centerboard schooner was built in 1877 in my hometown of Pascagoula, Mississippi, a sleepy coastal city that later produced Ingalls shipyard which still, of course, cranks out vessels of all kinds today. Some 39-feet at the waterline with just a 3.9-foot draft, she was built to fly along the shallows of the Mississippi Sound– which has an average depth of just six feet– as a cargo hauler.

Your typical “Biloxi schooner.”

Her keel was of yellow pine with cypress frames and planks while her decks and bulwarks are of white pine and juniper.

(Chris Eger)

(Chris Eger)

With a gaff-rigged topmast sail plan, her longleaf yellow pine main towered 52 feet from waterline to topmast truck. Her steering gear, windlass, and other working pieces were and remain cast iron.

Her original 1877 steering gear was still intact into the 2010s, although in a new box (Chris Eger)

Ordered by Pascagoula merchant Charles Anthorn Greiner to haul materials to and from his sawmill on the Pascagoula River to deep water vessels offshore, the vessel was named for his personal friend, Gov. John Marshall Stone. A Civil War colonel, Stone served longer as Governor of the Magnolia State than anyone else– from 1876 to 1882 and again from 1890 to 1896.

However, Greiner soon sold the schooner for $425 to Mulford “Mul” Dorlorn of nearby Dauphin Island, Alabama at the mouth of nearby Mobile Bay who used her to carry freight and as a “buy boat” purchasing oysters from “tongers” in the beds along the Rigolet Islands, the latter a job she held under a series of owners for the next 30 years.

During her “oyster days” (Chris Eger)

In September 1906 she was caught in Bayou Heron, now part of the Grand Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve, during a fierce hurricane that capsized the schooner and rolled her 300 yards into the marshy estuary.

Recovered and repaired, she went back to work. Picking up a small 16-hp gasoline engine and a small screw in 1923, she was powered for the first time in her then-46 year career, then pressed into service by her owner Thomas Burns as a bootlegger during Prohibition, reportedly making two trips a month for $500 a run bringing in good Cuban rum to a hungry market in Mobile, Biloxi and New Orleans.

By the 1930s, during the Depression, at a time when cheaper catboats and luggers had cornered the local market and the deep port at Gulfport had eliminated the need for offshore lightering, she became a derelict vessel. In 1939 she sank in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

In 1940 she was raised and, refitted with a new 50-hp Gray engine, was extensively overhauled by local innkeeper Isaac T. Rhea who named her Queen of the Fleet and used her as a day tripper for guests at his famous Inn By The Sea beachside resort in Pass Christian. As such, she was given a large deck structure.

(Chris Eger)

Then the war came.

On 15 September 1942, she was purchased for $1 by the US War Shipping Administration and was converted for use as a training vessel by the Merchant Marine Academy which had the same week founded two cadet basic schools to educate merchant marine officers in the on-going conflict. One of the schools was at San Mateo, the second was at Henderson Point (Rhea’s Inn By The Sea, which had been purchased lock, stock, and barrel by the government) in Pass Christian.

She became the training vessel Joshua Humphreys during the war, named after the famous naval architect and constructor of the original “six frigates” of the United States Navy.

(Via the USMM Alumni Association)

According to local historian Dan Ellis:

Cadet training consisted of basic seamanship, ship nomenclature, elementary ship construction and identification of friendly and enemy vessels and aircraft. They were also taught first-aid and safety, abandoning ship procedures, ship handling and navigation maneuvers, and the use of, and marksmanship of, 20mm and .50 caliber guns.

After spending nine months at their academies, the cadets went to sea on merchant ships to finish their education afloat in very real on-the-job-training.

As noted by :

Cadets went to sea with their books and were required to write reports upon return, describing enemy craft seen, damage, lifeboat voyages, acts of heroism, etc. In 450 reports filed, cadets described attacks on 250 different ships, of which 220 were sunk.

By the end of the war, the Academy’s three campuses had graduated an impressive 6,634 officers.

In all, some 142 documented U.S. Merchant Marine Cadets were killed during World War II, a fact that makes the current U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at King’s Point, the only Federal Academy authorized to carry a Battle Standard.

The Battle Standard bears the number “142” on its field of red, white and blue. In its center is the eagle of the Academy’s seal in blue and gray, the school colors, and the anchor of the merchant marine in gold. From its top hang the ribbons which represent the various combat zones in which the Academy’s cadet/midshipmen served.

With the end of the war, the cadets at San Mateo were soon transferred to Kings Point in September 1947, and the school closed. Pass Christian, although devastated by a hurricane in September 1947, remained open until 1950 when the government closed it down and the school was closed, sold to the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board as a retreat. The site is now a condo that borrows Rhea’s restort’s originial name.

The USMMA-AA, with support from Seabee Base, Gulfport, established a memorial to the Pass Christian USMM Cadet Corps Basic School in 1979 on what was then still the campus of the Mississippi Baptist Convention Board. Destroyed in 2005, the memorial and an old ketch sailing anchor salvaged in the area by the Seabees were reconstituted 0.6 miles north of the location in 2013.

(Chris Eger)

(Chris Eger)

The bronze plaque, which I touch up from time to time, reads:

These Grounds, From September 16, 1942 to March 21, 1950, Were the Site of the Pass Christian United States Merchant Marine Cadet Corps Basic School. From Here and the Sister School at San Mateo, California, Over 6000 Undergraduates of the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point, New York, Went to Sea in War and Peace. To Those Cadets, Who in the Course of Their Training or Subsequent Service, Gave Their Lives for Our Country, This Monument Is Respectfully Dedicated.

Back to the Stone

By the time the USMM Academy left Mississippi, Governor Stone/Queen of the Fleet had been returned to Mr. Rhea in 1947 with a brand-new 110 HP Chrysler Marine engine installed, a bonus!

When he died in 1953, the schooner was subsequently sold to a series of six different owners over the next 15 years and named, in turn, The Pirate Queen, Sea Bob, C’est la Vie, and Sovereign, before ending up with one Mr. John Curry who restored her through the 1970s and 80s and planned to base her in Pascagoula as a floating museum ship with her original name. In the end, she was deeded to the Apalachicola Maritime Institute in 1989 “where she served as a sail trainer for at-risk youth and a charter vessel in conjunction with the museum for 11 years.”

Her National Park Service application to place her on the National Register of Historic Places (#85508) was penned in 1990 by noted maritime historian James P. Delgado of all people, which makes her noteworthy in and of itself. As noted in a 2004 article in The Nautical Archeology Society by Kathryn Sikes:

Only five 2-masted coasting schooners remain within the United States. Of these, only two, Lewis R. French and Stephen Taber (both built in 1871), predate Governor Stone. In addition, Governor Stone is the only surviving 2-masted schooner indigenous to the Gulf of Mexico, and represents Southern contributions to coastwise trade.

In 2010, Governor Stone was acquired by the non-profit Friends of the Governor Stone group who at first displayed her at Ft. Walton, Florida and then, following an extensive restoration in 2013-14 (in Pascagoula!) moved her to Panama City.

At Pascagoula’s Beach Blvd “Point” in 2014 after she was overhauled note Ingalls shipbuilding in the distance (Photo via Mississippi Maritime Museum)

That’s where our current story picks up.

In St. Andrews Marina for Hurricane Michael, she capsized and turned turtle, but is still above water to a degree and the group hopes to salvage her.

Via Friends of Governor Stone

Weight:: 14GRT, 12NRT
Length: 63′; 39′ at waterline
Beam: 13’2″
Draft: 3’; loaded 5’; with the centerboard down 9’

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