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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

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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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Warship Wednesday January 11, 2017: Yugoslavia’s second brief battleship

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 11, 2017: Yugoslavia’s second brief battleship

Photographed by B. Circovich of Trieste, in a print obtained by the U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, District of Columbia on 24 June 1899. Note the large anchor at the ship's bow. NH 88935

Photographed by B. Circovich of Trieste, in a print obtained by the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, District of Columbia on 24 June 1899. Note the large anchor at the ship’s bow. NH 88935

Here we see the one-of-a-kind barbette ironclad Austrian battleship SMS Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf of the k.u.k. Kriegsmarine, likely in the mid-1890s. A beautiful vessel when commissioned, she was rapidly outclassed but held an important role both in the twilight of the Austrian Empire and in the birth of the Yugoslav Navy.

Designed by naval engineers Viktor Lollok and Josef Kuchinka of the Marinetechnischen Komitees der k.u.k. (MTK), the team who would build the first Austrian armored cruiser and other really well done projects, Austrian Adm. Maximilian Daublebsky von Sterneck first ordered a pair of coastal defense battleships that would, in the end, suck out more than two whole years’ worth of the Navy’s budget (not just the shipbuilding budget, but the whole thing).

First laid down was Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf, named after the apple of Emperor Franz Joseph I’s eye, his only son.

This guy

This guy

The 6,829-ton battleship was stubby, at 320-feet long and tubby at 63-feet across the beam, giving it a length to beam ratio about 1:5, but at least she could float in 24-feet of seawater. When designed in 1881, the top speed for the new ship, 15.5-knots, seemed adequate, especially when it was kept in mind that she had a double-hull, up to 12-inches of steel armor, and extensive watertight compartmentalization.

She was fitted with three Krupp 12-inch (30.5 cm/35 cal) guns in open forward (port and starboard) and rear centerline mounts much like the French ships of the time. This particular size gun was in use with the British (Majestic-class), American (USS Texas and Iowa) and Russian (Chesma-class, Georgy Pobedonosets-class, Navarin) fleets, leaving the Austrians in good company.

Her aft 12-incher

Her aft 12-incher

Over a dozen smaller caliber QF guns kept torpedo boats at bay.

kronprinz_erzherzog_rudolf

Launch of the ship at Marinearsenal Pola on 6 July 1887.Description: Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87057

Launch of the ship at Marinearsenal Pola on 6 July 1887.Description: Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87057

Photographed at Pola on 6 July 1887 shortly after launch. Note that the ship's midships armor belt has not yet been fitted. Catalog #: NH 88920

Photographed at Pola on 6 July 1887 shortly after launch. Note that the ship’s midships armor belt has not yet been fitted. Catalog #: NH 88920

She was completed September 1889 and was commissioned some nine months after her namesake sensationally died in a suicide pact with his mistress, Baroness Mary Vetsera, at the Mayerling hunting lodge, breaking old Franz Josef’s heart and leaving the Archduke Franz Ferdinand as heir to the throne–  a man whose own death would spark World War I.

schiff_sms_kronprinz_erzh_rudolf
The smaller SMS Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie (4995-tons, 280-feet, 2x305mm guns, 2 masts) would be built in Trieste to a much modified (cheaper) design and commissioned in 1889 as the last Austrian barbette ironclad.

Together, the cost of these two ships would force the Austrian Navy to put battleship orders on hold until the 5,785-ton Monarch-class coastal defense battleship SMS Budapest was ordered in May 1892 and funded so frugally that the yard took over six years to complete.

This left Rudolf as the most heavily armed and armored ship in the Austrian fleet for a decade, and she was used extensively to show the flag.

RUDOLF is the single masted ship in the center. The large ship at left is CUSTOZA. The stack and mast to starboard of RUDOLF belong to MONARCH, and the ship to starboard of her is smaller near-sister KRONPRINZESSIN ERZHERZOGIN STEPHANIE. Photographed at Pola. Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87062

RUDOLF is the single-masted ship in the center. The large ship at left is CUSTOZA. The stack and mast to starboard of RUDOLF belong to MONARCH, and the ship to starboard of her is smaller near-sister KRONPRINZESSIN ERZHERZOGIN STEPHANIE. Photographed at Pola, 1900. Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87062

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection NH 87058

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection NH 87058

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87059

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87059

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87061

Courtesy of the International Naval Research Organization, Karl Gogg collection. NH 87061

Rudolf, along with Stephanie and two other smaller vessels, spent part of 1890 in the Baltic and North Sea operating with the German Navy as a squadron. They later visited Italy and Spain to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’ voyage to the New World in 1892, and made calls in ports across Europe.

When Budapest and the rest of her respective class were commissioned in the late 1890s, Rudolf and little sister Stephanie were largely withdrawn to second-rate service.

By 1908, the Austrians were looking to sell the then 20-year-old vessels which were badly in need of a refit to South American interests, with no takers.

Relegated to coastal defense with a reduced crew, World War I found Rudolf as a station ship in Cattaro Bay, where she remained throughout the war tending submarines.

Photographed circa 1915 as a sad, gray station-ship in the Gulf of Cattaro. The sub in the foreground is SMS U-3 or U-Courtesy of the INT'L Naval Research Org., Karl Gogg Collection #14-20.NH 87063

Photographed circa 1915 as a sad, gray station-ship in the Gulf of Cattaro. The sub in the foreground is SMS U-3 or U-4. Courtesy of the INT’L Naval Research Org., Karl Gogg Collection #14-20.NH 87063

As station ship in the Gulf of Cattaro in World War I. Note the crew manning the anti-submarine defense gun in the foreground. NH 42823.

As station ship in the Gulf of Cattaro in World War I. Note the crew manning the shore gun in the foreground. NH 42823.

In February 1918, after months of inaction and inspired by what was going on at the time in Bolshevik Russia, the fleet at Cattaro– Rudolf included– mutinied. Idle hands in a frozen port with little food will do that to you.

The mutiny lasted three days until it fell apart after modern battleships showed up from Pola and German U-boats threatened to send any ship flying a red flag to the bottom. During the incident, Rudolf was on the receiving end of a few rounds from a shore battery (perhaps the one shown above) still loyal to the Emperor. At the end of the affair, four ringleaders were executed and 392 mutineers court-martialled from across the naval division in port.

Interrupting the legal matters, when the Austro-Hungarian Empire imploded a few months later, the Emperor handed over the entire Navy to the newly formed Kingdom of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs (KSCS, later Kingdom of Yugoslavia) on 29 October 1918. Nobody told the Italians what happened and on 1 November, Italian frogmen sank the mighty (now-Slovenian) battleship

The problem was that nobody told the Italians what happened and on 1 November, Italian frogmen sank the mighty (now-Slovenian) battleship Viribus Unitis at anchor in 1918, in effect, the largest loss ever suffered by the Yugoslav Navy.

When the Allies arrived to occupy the ports a few days later, they promptly took over the former Austrian ships and held them through 1920, in the end sinking or taking away as prizes the best of the lot– including Stephanie who was transferred to Italy as a war prize and was eventually broken up for scrap in 1926.

As allowed by the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the Allies tossed Yugoslavia the scraps nobody wanted to include a dozen small torpedo boats, some slowpoke river monitors, a couple of auxiliaries and the ex-SMS Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf, which still had a couple of holes in her from the mutiny and hadn’t moved in years.

The Yugoslavs took over the old lady in March 1921 and, after renaming her Kumbor, she became the default flagship of the new force, for the record being the largest ship they ever operated post-Armistice Day.

The honeymoon was short-lived.

She was sold for scrap sometime in 1922, with the Yugos not having another seagoing warship until they bought the old 2,953-ton German protected cruiser Niobe in 1925.

Today little remains of Rudolph/Kumbor other than maritime art, of her on a much better day when she carried the withering ensign of her dying empire to a far off land.

Squadron drill of SMS Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf at front, SMS Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie, SMS Kaiser Franz Joseph I and SMS Tiger at Kiel, 1890, oil on canvas by Alexander Kircher, via wiki

Squadron drill of SMS Kronprinz Erzherzog Rudolf at front, SMS Kronprinzessin Erzherzogin Stephanie, SMS Kaiser Franz Joseph I and SMS Tiger at Kiel, 1890, oil on canvas by Alexander Kircher, via wiki

Specs:

kronprinz-erzherzog-rudolf-1889-plansDisplacement: 6,829 metric tons (6,721 long tons)
Length:     320 ft. 3 in o/a
Beam:     63 ft. 3 in
Draft:     24 ft. 3 in
Installed power:
10 × fire-tube boilers
6,000 ihp (4,500 kW)
Propulsion:     2 × triple-expansion steam engines, 580-tons coal
Endurance: 2600nm at 10 knots
Speed:     15.5 kn (28.7 km/h; 17.8 mph)
Crew:     447–450
Armor: (Harvey steel)
Belt: 305 mm
Deck: 95 mm (3.7 in)
Barbettes: 254 mm (10.0 in)
Armament:
3 × 30.5-centimeter (12.0 in) guns
6 × 12 cm (4.7 in) guns
7 × 47 mm (1.9 in) QF guns
2 × 37 mm (1.5 in) QF guns
4 × 40 cm (16 in) torpedo tubes

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!

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

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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.

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Warship Wednesday Dec. 28, 2017: Mexico’s mighty (lonely) battleship

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 Dec. 28, 2017: Mexico’s mighty (lonely) battleship

Catalog #: NH 93255

Catalog #: NH 93255

Here we see the former Brazilian armored ship Marshal Deodoro in the service of the Mexican Navy as Anáhuac sometime between 1924-38, photographed in the Gulf of Mexico, under the Mexican flag. This photo was acquired by the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably a commercial postcard purchased in Mexico– an early example of open source intel.

Though not much of a brawler, the Anáhuac can be considered Mexico’s sole entry into the world of battleships.

Originally ordered as the Ypiranga in 1898 from F C de la Méditerranée, La Seyne, France, the cute 3,162-ton ship at the time was classified as a battleship. The lead ship was named after Brazil’s first president, Marshal Manuel Deodoro da Fonseca, while the name of Brazil’s second president, Marshal Floriano Peixoto, both of whom had died within the decade before,graced the follow-on sistership.

They had 13-inches of Harvey armor, a pair of 9.2-inch guns in single fore and aft turrets, and could make 15-ish knots. A myriad of smaller guns kept torpedo boats away while a pair of 5.9-inch howitzers could bombard the shoreline.

Built with the lessons learned at the recent battles of Santiago and the Yalu, naval writer C. Fields in an 1899 Scientific American article said of the class, “Though, of course, unable to contend with a battleship of the ordinary size, yet the Marshal Deodoro would prove a formidable opponent to any armor-clad of an approximating displacement and also to a cruiser much more numerously gunned.”

Via Scientific American, c.1899.

Via Scientific American, c.1899.

Commissioned in 1900, these two pocket battlewagons were much larger and more modern than anything else in the Brazilian fleet. Further, they were downright handsome.

marshal-deodoro-brasil-brazil-coastal-defense-battleship

By 1906, with a depression in Brazil, Marshal Deodoro and Marshal Floriano were the only operational armored warships afloat in the country. However, a coffee boom followed by a rubber boom soon had the nation’s treasury overflowing and a series of modern dreadnoughts (the first ordered besides for the U.S. and British Royal Navy) were purchased beginning in 1907.

Brazilian Torpedo Launch. In Rio de Janeiro harbor, Brazil, during the U.S. Atlantic Fleet's visit there while en route to the Pacific, circa 12-22 January 1908. The Brazilian cruiser in the center distance is either Marshal Deodoro or Marshal Floriano. The torpedo gunboat in the left distance is a member of the Brazilian Tupy class. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Photo #: NH 101481

Brazilian Torpedo Launch. In Rio de Janeiro harbor, Brazil, during the U.S. Atlantic Fleet’s visit there while en route to the Pacific, circa 12-22 January 1908. The Brazilian cruiser in the center distance is either Marshal Deodoro or Marshal Floriano.  Note she is all-white now rather than with a black hull as shown above. The torpedo gunboat in the left distance is a member of the Brazilian Tupy class. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Photo #: NH 101481

This ship is either Marshal Deodoro (launched 1898) or Marshal Floriano (launched 1899). A U.S. Navy battleship is partially visible in the right background. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. Photo #: NH 101480

This ship is either Marshal Deodoro (launched 1898) or Marshal Floriano (launched 1899). A U.S. Navy battleship is partially visible in the right background. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. Photo #: NH 101480

In 1912, an effort was made to modernize the ships; replacing their French coal fired boilers with new oil burning Babcock & Wilcox models, giving the pair a little more range.

However, once Brazil’s new dreadnoughts were delivered, this left the obsolete armored coastal defenders to be shuffled off to training missions and use as tenders. Floriano was soon hulked and eventually scrapped in 1936 by the Brazilians while Deodoro, in better condition, was sold to the Republic of Mexico in 1924 who promptly commissioned her as the Anáhuac, after the ancient (Aztec) name of the Basin of Mexico.

A 3,000-ton SpanAm War era pre-dreadnought growing long in the tooth, the Mexicans used Anahuac primarily for training purposes for a decade in the Gulf of Mexico, though the U.S. Navy proved very interested in her movements.

Photographed together at Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. ANAHUAC (at left), in commission from 1898 to circa 1935, was the former Brazilian MARECHAL DEODORO, acquired in April 1924. The NICOLAS BRAVO (at right) was in commission from 1903 to 1940. Bravo was the deciding factor in the first battle of Tampico in 1914. The U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably as a postcard on public sale, acquired this photograph. Description: Catalog #: NH 93257

Photographed together at Veracruz on the Gulf of Mexico. ANAHUAC (at left), in commission from 1898 to circa 1935, was the former Brazilian MARECHAL DEODORO, acquired in April 1924. The NICOLAS BRAVO (at right) was in commission from 1903 to 1940. Bravo was the deciding factor in the first battle of Tampico in 1914. The U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably as a postcard on public sale, acquired this photograph. Description: Catalog #: NH 93257

Photographed in the Gulf of Mexico. Note her very dark overall scheme. This photograph was acquired by U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably as a postcard on public sale. Description: Catalog #: NH 93256

Photographed in the Gulf of Mexico. Note her very dark overall scheme. This photograph was acquired by U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence, probably as a postcard on public sale. Description: Catalog #: NH 93256

In 1938, on the cusp of WWII, Anahuac was sold for scrap and at the time was likely one of the last 19th century French pre-drednoughts afloat.

Specs:

Photo: Blueprints.com

Photo: Blueprints.com

Displacement: 3,162 tons standard
Length:     267-feet
Beam:     47.24-feet
Draught:     13.74-feet
Propulsion:
(as built)
2 shaft triple expansion engines, 2 screws
8 Lagrafel d’Allest boilers, 236-tons coal
3,400 ihp (2,500 kW)
(1912)
2 shaft triple expansion engines, 2 screws
8 Babcock & Wilcox oil-firing boilers, 440-tons oil.
3,400 ihp (2,500 kW)
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h)
Complement: 200
Armament:
2 × Armstrong D 9.2 inch, 45 caliber guns in 2 single turrets
2 x 5.9-inch howitzers
4 x 4.7 inch, 50 caliber guns in casemates
6 x 6-pounder (57mm) Hotchkiss guns
2 x 1-pounder Hotchkiss in masts
2 x 17.7 (450mm) submerged torpedo tubes
Armour: (All Harvey steel)
Belt: 11-13 inches
Deck: 2 inches
Conning tower: 4 inches
Casemate: 3 inches
Main Turret face: 8.7 inches

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!

Warship Wednesday Dec. 21, 2017: The pirate chaser of Lake Michigan

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 Dec. 21, 2017: The pirate chaser of Lake Michigan

Photo: Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

Photo: Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center. Click to big up

Here we see the one of a kind Cutter Tuscarora, of the Revenue Cutter Service, as she sails mightily around the Great Lakes in the early 1900s– note her twin 6-pdr popguns forward.

The mighty Tuscarora, in all of her 178-feet of glory, gave over three decades of service, fought in a World War, and even caught what could be considered the last American pirate.

Laid down at the William R. Trigg Company, Richmond, Virginia in 1900, she was commissioned 27 December 1902 (114 years ago next Tuesday to be exact), and was named after a Native American nation of the Iroquois confederacy.

A steel-hulled ship built for a service still shaking off wooden hulls and sailing rigs, Tuscarora was built for the USRCS for what was seen as easy duty on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior in what was then known as the Great Lakes Patrol, replacing the larger USRC Gresham (1,090-tons, 205-feet) which was removed from the Lakes by splitting her in half in 1898 to take part in the Spanish-American War.

Just 620-tons, she could float in 11-feet of freshwater and cost the nation $173,814 (about $4.7 million in today’s figures, which is something of a bargain). As her primary job was that of enforcing customs and chasing smugglers, her armament consisted of a couple of 6-pounder (57mm) naval pieces that were pretty standard for parting the hair of a wayward sea captain who wouldn’t heave to or to sink derlicts.

Revenue cutter TUSCARORA At Milwaukee, Wisconsin, circa 1908. NH 71060

Revenue cutter TUSCARORA At Milwaukee, Wisconsin, circa 1908. NH 71060

Based out of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, she made regular calls on the Chicago area and, like all other craft on the freshwater Lakes, was laid up each winter. Replacements for her crew were generally recruited from Milwaukee by custom.

Tuscarora led a relatively uneventful life, policing regattas, entertaining local sightseers, provided support to U.S. Life Saving Service stations, assisting distressed mariners, exchanging salutes with the occasional British (Canadian) customs vessel, and waiting for the ice every winter.

But there was a guy in the Frankfort, Michigan, area, a former Navy bluejacket and one-time Klondike prospector by the name of Captain “Roaring” Dan Seavey who was a hell raiser. A big man for his day, Dan was also known to pack a revolver and when the mood or spirits struck him, shoot out street lights or occasional window encountered on his travels.

Then, he took to the water.

You see, sometime around the early 1900s, Seavey picked up a  battered 40 to 50-foot two-masted schooner with no engines that he named Wanderer, and became downright notorious.

Seavey

Seavey, sometime in the 1920s

He ran anything he could across the Lakes for a buck. Reportedly, he used the Wanderer as an offshore brothel and casino and basically did anything he wanted– to a degree.

He would set up fake lights to entice coasters to wreck, then be the first one on hand for salvage rights, goes the tale.

Word is he sank a rival venison smuggler (hey, it was Lake Michigan) with a cannon somewhere out on the lake and made sure no one lived to tell the tale.

Photo of Dan Seavey's schooner Wanderer, courtesy Door County Maritime Museum via the Growler mag http://growlermag.com/roaring-dan-seavey-pirate-of-the-great-lakes/

Photo of Dan Seavey’s schooner Wanderer, courtesy Door County Maritime Museum via the Growler mag

In June 1908, he took over the 40-foot schooner Nellie Johnson in Grand Haven, Michigan in an act that could be termed today, well, piracy.

In short, it involved getting the skipper drunk and leaving with the boat and her two complicit crew members while the Johnson‘s master slept it off.

However, unable to sell her cargo of cedar posts in Chicago, Seavey poked around with the pirated ship in tow for over two weeks– and Tuscarora, under the command of Captain Preston H. Uberroth, USRCS, with Deputy U.S. Marshall Thomas Currier on board, poked around every nook and cranny until they found Nellie Johnson swamped but with her cargo intact, and Seavey on the run.

From an excellent article on Seavey in Hour Detroit:

There was a stiff breeze that day and Seavey was grabbing every bit of it he could with the Wanderer’s two sails. With the Wanderer now in sight, it might have now been no contest, but Uberroth wasn’t taking any chances. The Tuscarora’s boilers were so hot the paint burned off the smokestack. The final chase lasted an hour, ending, according to some reports (which many now doubt true), with a cannon shot from the Tuscarora over the bow of the Wanderer, finally bringing Seavey to a halt.

If reporters made up the cannon shot, they weren’t the only ones caught up in the action. Currier was quoted as saying, “I have chased criminals all my life, but this was the most thrilling experience of many years. I never before chased a pirate with a steamship, and probably never will again, but of all the jolly pirates Seavey is the jolliest.”

Whatever happened, Uberroth sent an armed crew aboard, placed Seavey in irons, and brought him to the Tuscarora, which then made for Chicago.

“Seavey was surprised, to say the least,” accord to Currier. “He said that we would never have caught him had he had another half-hour’s start.”

It was sensational news at the time and went coast to coast, with Seavey maintaining that he won the Nellie Johnson in a poker game and everyone just had the wrong idea. When the owner of the

When the owner of the Nellie Johnson failed to appear in federal court in Chicago, Seavey was set free to sail the fringes of the law for decades.

As for Tuscarora, she got back to work, responding to a very active season of distress calls on Lake Superior and surviving being grounded off Detour, Michigan with a government wrecking crew from Sault Ste sent to help refloat her without much damage other than to her pride.

u-s-revenue-cutter-tuscarora-viewed-at-an-angle-from-the-front-along-one-side-1905

In late 1912, she took part in the search for the lost Christmas tree boat Rousse Simmons, and served as a safety ship for John G. Kaminski, the first licensed pilot in Wisconsin, as he flew his primitive Curtiss A-1 Pusher aircraft over the water in an exhibition near Milwaukee.

In 1913, Tuscarora was part of the Perry Battle of Lake Erie Centennial Fleet, which toured the Great Lakes alongside the replica of Oliver Hazard Perry’s flagship Niagara.

Ships seen are (from left to right): U.S. Revenue Cutter Tuscarora; USS Wolverine (Pennsylvania Naval Militia ship); a converted yacht, probably one of those assigned to Great Lakes state Naval Militias; and the Niagara replica. Courtesy of Tom Parsons, 2007. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 104256

Ships seen are (from left to right): U.S. Revenue Cutter Tuscarora; USS Wolverine (Pennsylvania Naval Militia ship); a converted yacht, probably one of those assigned to Great Lakes state Naval Militias; and the Niagara replica. Courtesy of Tom Parsons, 2007. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 104256

In 1916, she became part of the new U.S. Coast Guard and was rebuilt, bringing her displacement to 739-tons, which deepened her draft considerably.

image-of-four-sailors-manning-an-anti-aircraft-gun-on-the-u-s-revenue-cutter-tuscarora-anchored-on-lake-michigan-in-chicago-illinois-chicago-daily-news-1905

Upon declaration of war on April 6, 1917, the United States Coast Guard automatically became a part of the Department of the Navy and the now-USS Tuscarora (CG-7) picked up a coat of haze gray, a 3-inch gun in place of one of her 6-pdrs, and made for the Boston Naval District, arriving on the East Coast in October.

The Wisconsin Veteran’s Museum has the papers of Kenosha resident John Isermann, a cutterman QM2 who served on Tuscarora during World War I.

Patrolling off Rhode Island and Connecticut, she came to the assistance of the USS Helianthus (SP585) in December and an unnamed schooner in January 1918 while on the lookout for German submarines. When in port at Providence, the crew was detailed to guard munitions and assisted with testing underwater weaponry at the Naval Torpedo Station at Goat Island, near Newport, Rhode Island. Setting south, she met transports bound for France out of Hampton Rhodes in February and picked up a set of depth charges and throwers in March of that year.

On March 13, 1918, Tuscarora rescued 130 from the beached Merchants and Miners Line steamer SS Kershaw (2,599-tons) off East Hampton, Long Island via breeches buoy after picking up her SOS from 15 miles away.

Kershaw

Kershaw

(Kershaw was later refloated only to be sunk in a collision with the Dollar Liner SS President Garfield in 1928 on Martha’s Vineyard Sound)

The next day, Tuscarora took the old broken down Velasco-class gunboat USS Don Juan de Austria under tow to bring her into Newport.

The ship then escorted a small convoy to Bermuda, then put in at Guantanamo Bay and Key West, reporting a submarine contact in May 1918. She finished her service

She finished her service at Key West and, returned to the Treasury Department at the end of hostilities, landed her depth charges, picked up a fresh coat of white paint, and resumed her permanent station at Milwaukee on 6 October 1920.

u-s-revenue-cutter-tuscarora-wiconsin-veterans-museum

However the saltwater was calling to her and, with the onset of Prohibition nonsense, she was transferred to Boston again in 1926 to help patrol “rum row” and keep Canadian motherships from meeting with local rumrunners just off shore.

By 1930, she was reassigned to Florida where she was under temporary loan to the Navy in 1933 for the Cuban Expedition.

This came about when Fulgencio Bastista led the “Sergeant’s Revolt” on 4-5 September 1933 and forced then-Cuban dictator, General Gerardo Machado to flee Cuba. President Roosevelt sent 30 warships to protect our interests in Cuba. Due to a shortage of vessels on the east coast, the Navy requested that Coast Guard cutters assist in the patrols in Cuban waters. Because of the shenanigans, our hardy Lake Michigan pirate buster spent nearly three months at Matanzas and Havana taking part in gunboat diplomacy.

At the end of her useful life and a new series of 165-foot cutters being built as a WPA project for small shipyards, Tuscarora was decommissioned 1 May 1936.

In 1937, she was sold to Texas Refrigerator Steamship Lines for use as a banana boat, a job she apparently was ill-suited for, as in 1939 she was sold again to the Boston Iron & Metal Company, Baltimore, Maryland, for her value as scrap.

As for “pirate” Seavey, he may have smuggled alcohol during Prohibition– at the same time he was a Deputy U.S. Marshal sometime after the Wanderer was destroyed by fire in 1918.

He died in a nursing home in 1949.

seaveygravestone

However, there is a distillery that pays homage to Dan today with his own brand of maple-flavored rum produced in the Great Lakes area.

roaring-dans-rum

“Although the facts and fiction of Dan’s life have become twisted over the years, we do know Dan was the only man ever arrested for piracy on the Great Lakes,” says the distillery— who runs an image of Tuscarora in memorandum.

Specs:

image-of-the-tuscarora-gunboat-in-water-at-chicago-illinois-1909
Displacement 620 t.
1916 – 739 t., 1933- 849 t.
Length 178′
Beam 30′
Draft 10′ 11″
1916 – 15′ 3″
Propulsion: VTE, 2 Babcock & Wilcox single end boilers, one shaft.
Maximum speed 14.2 kts as built, 12 sustained
Complement 65
1916 – 64
Armament: 2  57/45 Hotchkiss 6-pdr Mk II/III or Driggs-Schroeder Mk I (as built)
1917: 1 x 3″/50 Mk 2 low angle, 1x6pdr, machine guns, depth charges
1919: 1 x 3″/50 Mk 2

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!

Warship Wednesday (on a Thursday!): The dazzling President of the Royal Navy

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 (on a Thursday!): The dazzling President of the Royal Navy

IWM SP 1650

IWM SP 1650

Here we see a “warship-Q” of the World War I Royal Navy, the Flower/Anchusa-class sloop HMS Saxifrage masquerading as a seemingly innocent British merchantman in dazzle camouflage, circa 1918. Should one of the Kaiser’s U-boats come close enough to get a good look, two matching sets of QF 4.7 inch and 12-pounder guns would plaster the poor bugger, sucker punch style.

With Kaiser Willy’s unterseeboot armada strangling the British Isles in the Great War, the RN needed a set of convoy escorts that were cheap to make and could relieve regular warships for duty with the fleet.

This led to a class of some 120 supped-up freighters which, when given a triple hull to allow them to soak up mines and torpedoes and equipped with a battery of 4 or 4.7-inch main guns and 3 or 12 pounder secondaries augmented with depth charges, could bust a submarine when needed. Just 1,200-tons and 267-feet overall, they could blend in with the rest of the “merchies” in which they were charged with protecting. Classified as sloops of war, they could make 17 knots with both boilers glowing, making them fast enough to keep up.

Built to merchant specs, they could be made in a variety of commercial yards very quickly, and were all named after various flowers, which brought them the class nickname of “cabbage boats.” Ordered under the Emergency War Programme for the Royal Navy, class leader HMS Acacia ordered in January 1915 and delivered just five months later.

The hero of our story, HMS Saxifrage, was named after a pretty little perennial plant also known as a rockfoil or London Pride.

saxifrage

Laid down by Lobnitz & Co Limited, Renfrew, Scotland, who specialized in dredges, trawlers and tugs and endures as a marine engineering company, she was completed 29 January 1918 as a Q-ship– a job that the last 40 of her class were designed to perform.

The concept, the Q-ship (their codename referred to the vessels’ homeport, Queenstown, in Ireland) was to have a lone merchantman plod along until a German U-boat approached, and, due to the small size of the prize, sent over a demo team to blow her bottom out or assembled her deck gun crew to poke holes in her waterline. At that point, the “merchantman” which was actually a warship equipped with a few deck guns hidden behind fake bulkheads and filled with “unsinkable” cargo such as pine boards to help keep her afloat if holed, would smoke said U-boat.

In all the Brits used 366 Q-ships, of which 61 were lost in action while they only took down 14 U-boats, a rather unsuccessful showing. One storied slayer, Mary B Mitchell, claimed 2-3 U-boats sunk and her crew was even granted the DSO, but post-war analysis quashed her record back down to zero.

As for Saxifrage, commissioned with just nine months and change left in the war, did not see a lot of hot action, escorting convoys around British waters. While she reported nine U-boat contacts, she was never able to bag one.

Soon after the Great War ended, the Flower-class vessels were liquidated, with 18 being lost during the conflict (as well as Gentian and Myrtle lost in the Baltic to mines in 1919). The Royal Navy underwent a great constriction inside of a year. At the date of the Armistice, the fleet enumerated 415,162 officers and men. By the following November, 162,000, a figure less than when the war began in 1914, though the Empire had grown significantly after picking up a number of German and Ottoman colonies.

Saxifrage was one of the few ships of her class retained.

THE ROYAL NAVY IN BRITAIN, 1919-1939 (Q 20478) Cadets of HMS PRESIDENT cheering the boats as they pass down the Thames in the naval pageant, 4th August 1919. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205261231

THE ROYAL NAVY IN BRITAIN, 1919-1939 (Q 20478) Cadets of HMS PRESIDENT cheering the boats as they pass down the Thames in the naval pageant, 4th August 1919. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205261231

Her engines removed, she was tapped to become the training establishment HMS President (replacing the former HMS Buzzard, a Nymphe-class composite screw sloop, shown above) when her sistership Marjoram, originally intended for that task, was wrecked in January 1921 off Flintstone Head while en route to fit out at Hawlbowline.

Moored on the River Thames, Saxifrage by 1922 became used as a drill ship by Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve.

Alterations to her physical fabric included fitting square windows on the lower decks and adding a top deck for parade, drilling, and small arms gunnery practice. After her change of use to a training vessel, she boasted four decks, with internal spaces including the Captain’s Quarters, Drill Hall and adjacent Gunroom, Quarter Deck and Ward Room.

HMS President moored on the Thames at high tide in 1929. Photograph Planet News Archive.

HMS President moored on the Thames at high tide in 1929. Photograph Planet News Archive.

By the time WWII came, just a handful of Flower-class sloops remained afloat.

HMS Laburnum, like her a RNVR drill ship, was lost to the Japanese at Singapore then later raised and scrapped.

HMS Cornflower, a drill ship at Hong Kong, suffered a similar fate.

HMS Chrysanthemum, used as a target-towing vessel in Home Waters, was transferred to the RNVR 1938 and stationed on the Embankment in London next to President where she would remain until scrapped in 1995.

HMS Foxglove served on China station and returned to Britain, later becoming a guard ship at Londonderry in Northern Ireland before being scrapped in 1946.

Ex-HMS Buttercup, ironically serving in the Italian Navy as Teseo, was sunk at Trapani 11 April 1943.

Two of the class, ex- HMS Jonquil and ex- HMS Gladiolus, remained in service in the Portuguese Navy classified as the cruisers (!) Carvalho Araújo and Republic, respectively, until as late as 1961.

Saxifrage/President continued her role as a stationary training ship. One of President‘s main roles during the war was to train men of the Maritime Royal Artillery, soldiers sent to sea and serve with naval ratings as gunners on board defensively equipped merchant ships (DEMS).

Learning the ropes. Two of the members of the Maritime Royal Artillery study the information board describing how to form bends and hitches. IWM A 16786. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149661

Learning the ropes. Two of the members of the Maritime Royal Artillery study the information board describing how to form bends and hitches. IWM A 16786. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149661

Britain's sea soldiers in training. Men of the Maritime Royal Artillery are now being given elementary training in seamanship at HMS PRESIDENT, the DEMS base on the Thames. Here a number of men are being initiated into the mysteries of "Bends and Hitches" (knots) by Leading Seaman W J Bateman, Enfield, Middlesex. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149660

Britain’s sea soldiers in training. Men of the Maritime Royal Artillery are now being given elementary training in seamanship at HMS PRESIDENT, the DEMS base on the Thames. Here a number of men are being initiated into the mysteries of “Bends and Hitches” (knots) by Leading Seaman W J Bateman, Enfield, Middlesex. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149660

"Boat pulling" part of their elementary training. Many of the Maritime Royal Artillery have been torpedoed and have had to take to open boats. Training in the whaler makes them useful members of a boat's crew. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149662

“Boat pulling” part of their elementary training. Many of the Maritime Royal Artillery have been torpedoed and have had to take to open boats. Training in the whaler makes them useful members of a boat’s crew. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205149662

Moored in the Thames, President was also popular in hosting events and visitors.

THE DUCHESS OF KENT VISITS HMS PRESIDENT. 15 MARCH 1943, WEARING THE UNIFORM OF COMMANDANT OF THE WRNS, THE DUCHESS OF KENT PAID AN INFORMAL VISIT TO HMS PRESIDENT. (A 15047) On extreme left is Captain R D Binney, CBE, RN, The Duchess of Kent, Admiral Sir Martin R Dunbar Nasmith, and Commander H C C Clarke, DSO, RN. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148173

THE DUCHESS OF KENT VISITS HMS PRESIDENT. 15 MARCH 1943, WEARING THE UNIFORM OF COMMANDANT OF THE WRNS, THE DUCHESS OF KENT PAID AN INFORMAL VISIT TO HMS PRESIDENT. (A 15047) On extreme left is Captain R D Binney, CBE, RN, The Duchess of Kent, Admiral Sir Martin R Dunbar Nasmith, and Commander H C C Clarke, DSO, RN. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205148173

ADMIRAL'S FAREWELL DINNER TO ADMIRAL STARK AT GREENWICH. 13 AUGUST 1945, ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE, GREENWICH, DURING THE FAREWELL DINNER TO ADMIRAL H R STARK, USN, BY THE BOARD OF ADMIRALTY. (A 30003) Saluting HMS PRESIDENT en route to Greenwich, left to right: Mr A V Alexander; Admiral Stark; and Rear Admiral C B Barry, DSO, Naval Secretary. Other members of the party including Mr G H Hall can also be seen. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205161196

ADMIRAL’S FAREWELL DINNER TO ADMIRAL STARK AT GREENWICH. 13 AUGUST 1945, ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE, GREENWICH, DURING THE FAREWELL DINNER TO ADMIRAL H R STARK, USN, BY THE BOARD OF ADMIRALTY. (A 30003) Saluting HMS PRESIDENT en route to Greenwich, left to right: Mr A V Alexander; Admiral Stark; and Rear Admiral C B Barry, DSO, Naval Secretary. Other members of the party including Mr G H Hall can also be seen. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205161196

After the war, President was the last of her class in British service and reverted to her role as HQ of the RNVR London Division, which she held until 1987, remaining the whole time at her traditional mooring next to Blackfriars Bridge.

The name HMS President is retained as a “stone frigate” or shore establishment of the Royal Naval Reserve, based on the northern bank of the River Thames near Tower Bridge in the London Borough of Tower Hamlets.

In 1987, the old girl was donated to the HMS President (London) Limited non-profit who has extensively refitted her for use in hosting private parties, weddings, receptions, etc. while somewhat restoring her appearance.

img_9058 meeting_spaces_london-1024x617 m-president-24-1024x682

In 2014, as part of the First World War commemorations, her hull was covered once more in a distinctive ‘dazzle’ design, courtesy of artist Tobias Rehberger.

hms-president-jan-2015-s

Today President is on the National Register of Historic Vessels, is the last Q-ship, last of her class and last RN ship to have fought as an anti-submarine vessel in the Great War.

She is nothing if not historic.

However, due to the upcoming construction of the Thames Tideway Tunnel to tackle sewage discharges into the River Thames, President had to leave Blackfriars Bridge this February.

© Rob Powell. 11/02/2016. HMS President has arrived in Chatham after leaving the Victoria Embankment last week. The historic vessel in a Dazzleship livery left her moorings on the Thames on the 5th February because of work taking place on the Thames Tideway sewage tunnel. Her journey down the river was initially held because of bad conditions as she moored at Erith until setting off again today. The vessel was tasked with finding U Baots in WW1 and has been moored on the Thames since 1922 where she has fulfilled a number of roles including protecting St Paul's during WWII and more recently as an events space. Credit : Rob Powell

© Rob Powell. 11/02/2016. HMS President has arrived in Chatham after leaving the Victoria Embankment last week. The historic vessel in a Dazzleship livery left her moorings on the Thames on the 5th February because of work taking place on the Thames Tideway sewage tunnel. Her journey down the river was initially held because of bad conditions as she moored at Erith until setting off again today. The vessel was tasked with finding U Baots in WW1 and has been moored on the Thames since 1922 where she has fulfilled a number of roles including protecting St Paul’s during WWII and more recently as an events space. Credit : Rob Powell

Her funnel and deckhouse was removed for the tow downriver and she is in limbo, with the current management team trying to raise money to secure a new mooring along the Thames but without much luck.

From the group’s website:

The HMS President, one of the UK’s last remaining WWI ships, has been unsuccessful in its bid to secure Libor funding in today’s Autumn Statement from the Chancellor.

The funding bid that had seen support in national newspapers and a parliamentary motion, with more than 20 signatories, has failed to secure vital restoration funding – this could now see the country’s last remaining submarine hunter of the Atlantic campaign scrapped.

Paul Williams, Director of the HMS President Preservation Trust, said; “The lack of recognition for this worthy cause if hugely disappointing. The HMS President Preservation Trust, and our friends in Parliament and elsewhere, has been working extremely hard to secure the future of this wonderful war heritage site.

“Her hull is only a few millimetres thick now in some places. Therefore, if restoration funding is not found soon she will be consigned to the scrap heap – as her sister ship the HMS Chrysanthemum was in 1995. As we mark the centenary commemorations of WWI it seems an absolute travesty that we will potentially be saying goodbye to one of only three remaining warships from that era. What a loss to our heritage that will be.”

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph MPs and Peers, including the Admiral of the Fleet, Lord Boyce, and Chairman of the Defence Select Committee, Dr Julian Lewis MP, had called for the ship to be rescued. The parliamentarians had urged the Chancellor to look favourably on the bid, or risk losing her forever, stating “This would be an irreplaceable loss to our war heritage, and a sorry way to mark the country’s First World War centenary commemorations.”

Hopefully she will be saved, as she is literally one of a kind.

Other that, she is preserved in maritime art.

img-php

Specs:

Dazzle Painted Ship Model Sloop Saxifrage/Tamarisk 203 & 204 (MOD 2250) Small dazzle ship model. It is hand-painted blue and black on a white background. The number 203 is inscribed on a piece of paper and attached to the mast on the model. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30019301

Dazzle Painted Ship Model Sloop Saxifrage/Tamarisk 203 & 204 (MOD 2250) Small dazzle ship model. It is hand-painted blue and black on a white background. The number 203 is inscribed on a piece of paper and attached to the mast on the model. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/30019301

1,290 long tons (1,311 t)
Length:
250 ft. (76.2 m) p/p
262 ft. 3 in (79.93 m) o/a
Beam:     35 ft. (10.7 m)
Draught:
11 ft. 6 in (3.51 m) mean
12 ft. 6 in (3.81 m) – 13 ft. 8 in (4.17 m) deep
Propulsion:     4-cylinder triple expansion engine, 2 boilers, 2,500 hp (1,864 kW), 1 screw
Speed:     16 knots (29.6 km/h; 18.4 mph)
Range:     Coal: 260 tons
Complement: 93
Armament:
Designed to mount :
2 × 12-pounder gun
1 × 7.5 inch howitzer or 1 × 200 lb. stick-bomb howitzer
4 × Depth charge throwers
As built:
2 × 4 in (102 mm) guns
1 or 2 × 12-pounder guns
Depth charge throwers

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!

Vestal was also there, now anew

At the Pentagon on December 7, 2016, the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, an old warrior was wheeled in to the auditorium, and honored for the first time since the 1950s.

The 14,000-ton Naval Auxiliary Service collier Vestal was christened in 1908 and later was redisignated a repair ship in the Navy proper becoming USS Vestal (AR-4).

09250408

Vestal deployed “Over There” in 1918, serving in Queenstown, Ireland with the U.S. fleet during World War I then made her way to the Pacific where she was moored at berth F 7, off Ford Island, to provide services to USS Arizona during the battlewagon’s scheduled period of tender upkeep when the Japanese planes came buzzing into the harbor on that infamous Sunday morning.

Hit by two Japanese bombs of her own, Vestal was nearly pulverized by Arizona‘s magazine explosion. Listing, ablaze and heavily damaged, the old repair ship saved herself and her skipper, Commander Cassin Young, later came away with the MOH for his actions.

Her mooring quay is still a place of honor at Pearl to this day.

USS-Vestal-Memorial

Remarkably, Vestal survived and went on to conduct forward repairs in the war zones of the South Pacific, keeping the battleships South Dakota and Washington; carriers Saratoga and Enterprise; cruisers Minneapolis, St. Louis, HMNZS Achilles, HMAS Hobart, San Francisco, and Pensacola among others in the fight and afloat at desperate times when their loss would have been a great blow to the war effort.

Decommissioned and stricken, she was sold to breakers and disappeared in 1950.

In May, her bell was rediscovered in the parsonage of a minister who bought it in Baltimore around 1955.

uss-vestal-bell

The Navy recently reacquired the bell and gave it a well-needed makeover before it’s big day this week.

“Tenacious accretions had accumulated on the bell’s exterior, along with dust, dirt, and environmental pollution,” said David Krop, conservation branch head at NHHC’s Collection Management Facility in Richmond, Virginia. “Additionally, we detected lead paint on the bell’s clapper assembly and old polish residue clinging to the bell’s lettering.”

Using a variety of mechanical and chemical methods, Krop’s team was able to get the bell to a stable and presentable condition after about two weeks, in time for the ceremony.

“As we cleaned and conserved the bell,” said Karl Knauer, a conservator on Krop’s team, “its past reflected back to us through its marred surface. It was truly an honor to work on such an important touchstone to the Navy’s history.”

Vestal, arriving:

161206-N-ES994-001 WASHINGTON (Dec. 6, 2016) Naval History and heritage Command (NHHC) provided the bell from USS Vestal for display during a commemoration for the 75th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack, hosted by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) and held in the Pentagon’s auditorium. the commemoration. Vestal was among the ship’s damaged during the Pearl Harbor attack. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Elliott Fabrizio/Released)

161206-N-ES994-001 WASHINGTON (Dec. 6, 2016) Naval History and heritage Command (NHHC) provided the bell from USS Vestal for display during a commemoration for the 75th Anniversary of the Pearl Harbor Attack, hosted by the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) and held in the Pentagon’s auditorium. Vestal was among the ship’s damaged during the Pearl Harbor attack. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Elliott Fabrizio/Released)

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