Archive | warship wednesday RSS for this section

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017: The big Hawaiian Swede

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

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017: The big Hawaiian Swede

Photo via Sjöhistorisk Musumet, Göteborg, #Fo49335A Note her “neutral flag” as well and fore and aft blue and yellow racing stripes to help identify her during the war

Here we see the mighty four-masted barque, Abraham Rydberg, a Swedish cargo carrying schoolship (skolskeppet) that trained sailors and officers, as she approached New York in 1940. She managed to survive both World Wars and the end of her era of sea trade while putting in a lot of honest work.

Laid down for the merchant service in the heyday of the fast transcontinental clipper ships, she was ordered in 1892 from the Clyde firm of Charles Connell & Company, Glasgow (Yard #184) by the Hawaiian Construction Co. of San Francisco.

At some 2,400-tons, the big 270-foot four-master was built to run cargo on the cheap and she entered service as the Hawaiian-flagged Hawaiian Isles, operating out of Honolulu on the sugar trade, later inherited by the Planters Line by 1900, which added her to the U.S registry– one of just 24 Hawaiian-flagged vessels to which this was done.

The Matson Navigation Company of San Francisco bought her from Planters in 1906 and used her on a South American run for several years until she was sold once again to the Alaska Packers’ Association for $60,000 in 1910, a stalwart of the West Coast lumber trade alternating between running “100 or more Chinese and Mexican cannery workers to the fishing grounds in the spring and bringing them back in the fall, together with a hold full of canned salmon.”

That California-based company changed her significantly, reduced the rig and leaving her baldheaded as they elongated the poop over 30-feet to better accommodate the severe weather of the Northern Pacific. Sailing as Star of Greenland under the command of one Captain P.H. Peterson, she was a regular along the Pacific Northwest and in the frozen territory for 15 years until laid up at Alameda in 1926, managing to escape German raiders during the Great War (remember the raider Seeadler was active at the time and captured three American-flagged schooners in June-July in the Southeast Pacific, and the raider Wolf had poked her nose into the West Pac).

Her speed likely had her in good graces– she once made the 2,400-mile Unalaska to Golden Gate run for the Packers in just 7 days– a feat that took most of the other slow craft in the business 35 or more.

After three years of hard luck layup on the West Coast, the aging barque was acquired by the Rydbergska Stiftelsen organization from Sweden for a song ($19,000) and, carrying a full new triangular canvas set, made London in 134 days with a cargo of grain and a scratch crew. A number of changes were implemented in the vessel, including construction of a midships bridge deck and adding classroom spaces for up to 70 cadets– which were required by Swedish law to take a full-year of courses before gaining a certificate as a merchant seaman.

Founded in 1850 by an endowment left by Swedish shipping magnate Abraham Rydberg, the maritime school trained youth in practical sailing, in large part by taking them on lengthy cargo hauls from the Baltic to Australia and the Caribbean. Ages of the trainees, which came in many instances from all over Europe, ran from 14-20 and the Rydbergska foundation produced thousands of sailors for the Swedish merchant and naval forces over the course of a century.

Here is first Abraham Rydberg stiftelse schoolship, a 101-foot three master built in 1879. She served the school until replaced by the larger Abraham Rydberg II in 1912.

Here we see 129-foot three-master which served as the second Abraham Rydberg, which our ship replaced. As an aside, this ship was in U.S. waters in WWII as a privately owned yacht and used by the Navy as USS SEVEN SEAS (IX-68), performing a role as a station/training ship at Key West.

Purchased in 1930, the Hawaiian Isles/Star of Greenland became the institute’s third Abraham Rydberg under a Swedish flag, undertaking yearly training excursions on the wheat trade to Australia alongside other such school ships as the Kristiania Schoolship Association’s Christian Radich out of Norway and the Danish East Asiatic Company schoolship København— the latter of which disappeared on such a run.

Our Rydberg, taken from liner S/S Mauretania in seas, 1 April 1934, off Australia. Fo202759

By all accounts, she was a happy ship during this time apart from a collision with the British steamer Koranton (6,695-tons) just off Eddystone. While Rydberg, loaded with 3,200-tons of wheat at the time, lost several plates on the port side and her main top-gallant, she could make for England and repairs.

She was a celebrated Cape Horn windjammer still in operation during an age of steamships and drew a crowd every time she came near shore. As she carried some 35,000sq yds. of canvas and could make 14-knots on it with no sweat, she was a sight, indeed.

   In the Thames:

Her cadets hard at work both on deck and aloft in the below video, with her skipper talking about the great “Grain Races” of the 1930s. Rydberg made seven round trips from Europe to Australia between 1933-38:

When WWII started, Rydberg kept in the dangerous service of merchant shipping under the nominal shield of her country’s flag. Operating on the less-risky Brazil-to-Boston run, a neutral ship between two neutral ports, she made Santos in just 49 days on one trip.

Skolskeppet ABRAHAM RYDBERG off New York, 1940. Note the ship’s name and Swedish flag amidships for the benefit of U-boat periscopes. The two stripes are in blue and yellow, national colors. Her crew participated in the New York World’s Fair that year. # Fo15244A

From astern, again note her flag, stripe, and marking. #Fo148032AF

Immediately following the outbreak of the war, both the Britsh and Germans thought some travel by Swedish merchantmen was good and entered into an odd agreement between the three that Stockholm’s ships going into and out of the Baltic through the two belligerents’ respective naval blockades were fine as long as all three parties agreed to each voyage. In all, some 226 sailings to and 222 sailings from Sweden were cleared in such a manner– though nine ships were lost on these “pre-screened” runs as not everyone got the message. Further, the agreement didn’t apply to Swedish ships outside of Northern Europe, hence Rydberg‘s change to operations from the U.S.

Make no mistake though, the Swedish merchant service suffered during the war (as did the Swedish Navy– the submarine HMSwS Ulven was sunk by the Germans in 1943), neutrality be damned. In all, an estimated 2,000-2,500 Swedish sailors and fishermen were killed during the conflict as no less than 201 unarmed Swedish-flagged merchant ships and 31 fishing vessels were sent to the bottom in attacks from the Germans, Soviets, and British. You can be sure that many men who trained as boys on the Rydberg are on this butcher’s bill.

However, when Pearl Harbor brought the U.S. into the war and German U-boats became a regular sight off the East Coast as part of Operation Drumbeat, keeping Rydberg in service was considered too risky and she was laid up in Baltimore harbor, her crew transiting back to Sweden. She had retained a Lloyds 1A classification her entire career with the Swedes, an accomplishment for any merchant vessel pushing 50 years on her keel.

It was then that she was given the dishonor of becoming a diesel-powered freighter when, after she was bought by the Portuguese firm of Julio Ribeiro Campos in 1943 for $265,000, had her masts stepped and a pair of Fairbanks Morse M6s installed at Kensington Shipyard in Philadelphia. Her new name, Fox do Duoro.

As Fox do Duoro, taken in New Orleans, 1949. Note the maimed masts and black hull. Quite a difference from her gleaming white scheme and a sky full of canvas.

Poking around for another decade, she was resold twice more to various concerns in Lisbon until finally being offered for her value in scrap metal to Société Anonyme Bonita, Tangiers, who broke her in 1957.

Sadly, that was also the last year the Abraham Rydbergs group was in operation as a maritime institute, though it still exists as a foundation which provides a scholarship to other schools’ training programs. A fourth Rydberg, the former British yacht Sunbeam II, a 194-foot three-masted schooner built by Lord Runciman, was bought by the school in 1945 and used for a decade before they got out of the schoolship business for good. Incidentally, this final ship is in the service of the Hellenic Navy currently.

Our Rydberg, is, however, widely remembered in maritime art.

Deep Waters, by Montague Dawson, showing Rydberg on the high seas.

By Adolf Bock

Joe Francis Dowden, watercolor The Abraham Rydberg as she would have appeared in Planter Line Service as Hawaiian Isles in the 1900s

Specs:


Displacement: 2345 grt
Length: 270 ft.
Beam: 43 ft.
Draft: 23 ft.
Engines (1943) twin Fairbanks M6cyl 14″x17″ 1300bhp, 2-screw, machinery aft
Crew: 40 + up to 70 cadets on a one-year course (1930-42)

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

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017: The Real McCoy

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

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 8, 2017: The Real McCoy

Here we see the mighty U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Seneca (CG-17), a warship that served in both World Wars and had a tussle or two while enforcing some unpopular laws.

Classified when constructed as a “derelict destroyer” for the then-U.S. Revenue Marine designed to deep-six semi-submerged vessels on the high seas while towing in those still salvageable, she was built by Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company in Virginia and commissioned 12 November 1908, named after the storied Native American tribe of the Iroquois confederation formerly living in New York state.

At least four Seneca’s served in the Navy during the Civil War and Great War while a fifth, AT-91/ATF-91, was a 205-foot Navajo-class fleet tug built during WWII and sunk as a target in 2003. However, the Revenue Service cutter that is the subject of this post was the first cutter by that name.

Built at a price of $244,000, she was a follow-on to the five modern cutters ordered at the turn of the Century, that, at 200~ feet and 1,200-tons were decent steel-hulled vessels that could serve their peacetime use as well as be capable modern naval auxiliary gunboats in times of conflict.

Constructed with lessons learned from those craft, the one-off Seneca tipped the scales at 1,259-tons and went 204-feet overall. Able to float in 18-feet of seawater, her twin boiler plant could chug her along at an economical 12-knots. A quartet of 6-pounders (57mm guns) and a supply of naval mines and explosives for scuttling completed her armament.

Early in her career, with black hull and buff stack

Her first “job” was helping to police the massive Hudson-Fulton international naval parade in New York. Her commander during the Hudson-Fulton parade was Captain J. C. Cantwell, USRCS, and she was shown off to both visiting dignitaries and naval personnel.

Seneca immediately went to a harder line of work, in 1909 towing the stricken White Star liner RMS Republic, which sent the first wireless distress signal in history via the then-novel Marconi apparatus after the vessel was mortally wounded in a collision with the steamer Florida off Nantucket.

Then, of course, there was the derelict duty and anti-smuggling work.

Seneca with a derelict in tow

In March 1913, Seneca responded to the first International Ice Patrol, established in the aftermath of the sinking of the RMS Titanic. Operating out of Halifax, Nova Scotia and ranging as far as Iceland, Seneca made no less than 10 patrols in the next three years looking for wandering ice, on one occasion saving adrift survivors of the British freighter Columbian.

During this time the Revenue Marine became part of the new Coast Guard, and Seneca changed her title and took part in the increasingly tense neutrality patrol work as the world descended into the Great War.

Upon the U.S. Declaration of War against the Kaiser in April 1917, the new service became part of the Navy. Accordingly, Seneca landed her battery of 6-pounders, picked up a new one of a quartet of 3″/50 cal guns, and for the next 28 months served as a haze gray colored gunboat for the Navy.

Seneca was assigned to Squadron 2, Division 6, of the Atlantic Fleet Patrol forces, heading to Europe along with the other large blue water cutters on convoy escort and general anti-submarine missions. Assigned to Base 9 (Gibraltar), Seneca joined the cutters Algonquin, Manning, Ossipee, Tampa, and Yamacraw.

USCGC Seneca. Description: (Coast Guard Cutter, 1908) Members of the ship’s crew pose on board, circa 1917-1918. The original image is printed on postcard stock. Donation of Charles R. Haberlein Jr., 2009. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 106709

Venturing into U-boat-infested seas proved dangerous for the small group of cutters. The small Ossipee, 165-feet of rock and roll, escorted an impressive 32 convoys consisting of 596 Allied vessels and made contacts with enemy submarines on at least 8 occasions, on one of these reportedly side-stepping a torpedo by about 15 feet. Tampa was not so lucky, sunk just six weeks before the end of the war by a torpedo hit with all hands; 111 Coast Guardsmen, 4 U.S. Navy personnel, and 16 passengers.

Seneca herself ran 30 convoys and escorted 580 ships, plucking 81 survivors from the torpedoed RN sloop HMS Cowslip in April. 1918 off Gibraltar, and 27 survivors from the stricken British freighter SS Queen in June.

Then came the Wellington.

Part of the 21-ship Convoy OM-99, outbound from Milford Haven to Gibraltar, the 5,600-ton freighter Wellington suffered an explosion that blew the first 30-feet off her bow and Seneca, responding to the scene, chased off a surfaced U-boat with her 3-inchers. Sending over a 20-man crew of volunteers to help keep the coal-laden merchantman from foundering with the hopes of making for Brest, about 350 miles away on the French coast.

While they could slow the flooding, and make 7.5-knots, a storm set in and the act turned hopeless, with 1LT Fletcher W. Brown ordering the boarding crew and remaining Wellington sailors to abandon ship and take their chances in the water.

Coast Guard Cutter SENECA places a damage control crew on board the torpedoed tanker WELLINGTON in an attempt to keep it from sinking September 16, 1918.

However, 11 went down with the freighter and were awarded the Navy Cross for their heroism while Acting Machinist William L. Boyce received the Navy Distinguished Service Medal for staying in the engine room until the very end. The final message from Wellington, sent by Electrician 2nd Class Morrill C. Mason, USCG: “We are turning over, you’ve done everything you could. Goodbye.”

In all, Seneca received three letters of commendation from the Admiralty for her service in Europe. She fired upon or dropped depth charges on no less than 21 occasions, often credited with sinking one submarine, though post-war analysis never firmed that up.

USS SENECA (1917-1919) Flying homeward bound pennant. Description Catalog NH 108752

Chopping back to Coast Guard duty in 1919, she picked up her white scheme, but she still had another battle to fight.

Once enforcement of the Volstead Act began in January 1920, it was the Treasury Department that was given the unpopular task of enforcing Prohibition, and “T-men” of the newly formed Bureau of Prohibition (which became ATF in 1930 and was transferred briefly to the Justice Department) became a popular term at the time for those engaged in the act of chasing down bootleggers, speakeasies and those with hidden stills. It should be noted that Elliot Ness and his “Untouchables” were T-men and not G-men of the FBI, as is commonly believed and for every public hero of the force, there were heavy-handed and unprofessional agents such as “Kinky” Thompson who gave the work a black eye– literally.

Nevertheless, as a branch of the Treasury going back to the days of Alexander Hamilton, the Coast Guard became responsible for enforcement on the seas, fighting booze pirates and rum-runners smuggling in territorial waters. The agency was hard-pressed to chase down fast bootlegging boats shagging out to “Rum Row” where British and Canadian merchantmen rested on the 3-mile limit loaded with cases of good whiskey and rum for sale.

This led the agency to borrow 31 relatively new destroyers from the Navy, an act that would have been akin to the USN transferring all the FFG7 frigates to the Coast Guard during the “cocaine cowboy” days of the 1980s.

However, Seneca and the other legacy cutters held their own as well.

Seneca, August 4, 1922, Harris & Ewing, photographer, via LOC

One of the more infamous on Rum Row was William “Bill” McCoy, a graduate of the Pennsylvania Nautical School in Philadelphia who went on to sail the seven seas for two decades before he opened a boatyard in Florida. Picking up first one schooner and then another, the 130-foot British-flagged Arethusa which he renamed Tomoka, McCoy specialized in running liquor from the Bahamas and Bermuda as well as from the French islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon (where Arethusa flew a French flag and went by the name Marie Celeste) to New England, reportedly making $300,000 in profit for each trip. His profits were high because he never stepped on his booze and cut it with water, with his whiskey being passed off as “the real McCoy.”

It was a night in November 1923 when Seneca came across McCoy and his hooch-laden Arethusa off the New Jersey coast.

From Rum Wars at Sea:

Agents in cooperation with the Coast Guard put into effect without warning the principal of search and seizure beyond the 3-mile limit, realizing the likelihood of legal complications. The cutter Seneca arrived near Tomoka at daybreak and found the schooner riding placidly at anchor. The ship was first boarded by agents, and as soon as they were on board a fist fight developed in which all hands took part. The agents, though badly beaten up, were able to search her and found 200 cases of whiskey remaining from an original cargo of 4,200. Then Tomoka got underway with the agents on board. Seneca ordered her to stop. When she disregarded this, the cutter sent two shots screaming across her bows with the desired result. She was then boarded by a larger group of coast guardsmen from Seneca and seized.

It was the end of McCoy’s rum-running days and he soon headed off to federal prison on an abbreviated sentence, with Arethusa sold at public auction.

Still, Seneca proved a scourge for those who remained in the business.

Aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca, Prohibition agents examine barrels of alcohol confiscated from a rum runner boat. Via LOC

Aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca, Prohibition agents stand amidst cases of scotch whiskey confiscated from a rum runner boat. Via LOC

One of the rum runners against its nemesis: the K-13091 alongside the Coast Guard cutter Seneca at the end of the chase, 1924. Via LOC. Note the 1903s and BAR

Badly worn out, Seneca was placed out of service in 1927-28 for reconstruction and spent the rest of Prohibition stationed in New York, transferring to San Juan in 1932 and Mobile in 1934. Showing her age, she was decommissioned 21 March 1936 and stored at the Coast Guard Yard in Baltimore to make room for the new 327-foot Treasury-class cutters then under construction.

In September, the 28-year-old disarmed cutter was sold to the Boston Iron and Metal Co., of Baltimore, Maryland for $6,605, who did nothing with her and subsequently resold her to the Texas Refrigeration Steamship Line to turn into a banana boat on the Guatemala to Gulfport run. However, TRSL went bankrupt and Seneca never left Baltimore, leaving her to be reacquired at auction by Boston Iron, who still owned her in 1941 and weren’t doing anything with the old girl.

With another war coming, the Coast Guard took Seneca back into service in 1941. However, she was deemed to be in too poor a condition for escort duty and was instead shuffled to “The Real” McCoy’s alma mater, the Pennsylvania Nautical School in Philadelphia for use as a training vessel. Seneca, renamed Keystone State, replaced the old 1,000-ton gunboat USS Annapolis in September 1942.

During this time, admission requirements at the school were raised to high school graduates between the ages of 17 and 20 years and students were instructed in dead reckoning, the duties of an officer; theoretical and practical marine engineering; and in handling boats. Some 2,000 young men cycled through the school in the war years.

In April 1946, the Maritime Commission made the newly-decommissioned Artemis-class attack cargo ship USS Selinur (AKA-41) available to the school as Keystone State II, and Seneca was returned.

She was scrapped in 1950, one of the last vessels built for the Revenue Marine Service still afloat at the time.

Seneca, however, is well remembered.

In 1928, the U.S. Coast Guard Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery, honoring the service’s war dead in general and those lost on Tampa and Seneca during WWI in particular, was dedicated.

The Coast Guard command holds a Veteran's Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Nov. 11, 2012. The area where the Coast Guard World War I memorial, which honors the fallen crew members of the Cutter Seneca and Cutter Tampa, was placed is commonly referred to as Coast Guard Hill. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Tamargo

The Coast Guard command holds a Veteran’s Day ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., Nov. 11, 2012. The area where the Coast Guard World War I memorial, which honors the fallen crew members of the Cutter Seneca and Cutter Tampa, was placed is commonly referred to as Coast Guard Hill. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Tamargo

From Arlington:

Architect George Howe and sculptor Gaston Lachaise captured the spirit of the Coast Guard’s legendary steadfastness in the monument’s rock foundation and pyramid design. Above the Coast Guard motto Semper Paratus (meaning “Always Ready”), is a bronze seagull with its wings uplifted. The seagull symbolizes the tireless vigil that the U.S Coast Guard maintains over the nation’s maritime territory.

Further, the centennial medals issued by the U.S. Mint in 2018 honoring the service’s participation in the Great War depicts a lifeboat from the Coast Guard Cutter Seneca heading out in heavy seas toward the torpedoed steamship Wellington.

Coast Guard Cutter Seneca heading out in heavy seas toward the torpedoed steamship Wellington.

Her name was recycled for the “Famous” class 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutter, WMEC-906, was commissioned in 1987 and is homeported in Boston.

Specs:

Tonnage: 1,259 tons (gross)
Length: 204 ft.
Breadth: 34 ft. Breadth
Draft (or Depth): 17.3 ft. (depth)
Engines: Two Scotch boilers, one triple expansion steam engine, one shaft.
Speed: 11.2 knots
Crew: 9/65 designed, 110 wartime
Armament: (1908) 4- 6pdrs
(1917) 4 3″/50 cal guns, depth charges
(1937) disarmed

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

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017: The Phrygian of the Great North

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

Warship Wednesday, Nov. 1, 2017: The Phrygian of the Great North

At 11,000-tons and with four pipes, you would expect her to pack more than 6-inch guns.  At least she had 16 of them! Photo via Naval History and Heritage Command NH 58647

Here we see the Diadem-class 1st rank protected cruiser HMS Niobe of the Royal Navy in 1899 just after her commissioning with her gleaming black hull. She was used to both help expand the British Empire and found the Canadian Navy.

In the 1890s, obsessed with the threat of commerce raiders such as the Russian and French armored and auxiliary cruisers of the era, the Royal Navy built an excellent duo of protected cruisers in the Powerful-class (14,000-tons, 2×9.2-inch, 12×6-inch guns, 22 knots), but the bottom line was they needed a larger series of cheaper vessels to help do the same on a budget. This led to the Diadem-class which were still big (11,000-tons), had as much as four-inches of armor in sensitive areas, could still break 20 knots (on 30! boilers) and packed a nice battery of 16 QF 6-inchers spread out among casemates and shielded deck guns.

Best of all, the Diadems, the last protected cruisers built for the RN, cost as little as £541,927 while the Powerful ran £708,619– a bargain that allowed eight of these more affordable cruisers to be ordered.

DIADEM Class British 1st Class Protected Cruiser. This ship is either DIADEM, NIOBE, EUROPA, or ANDROMEDA, near the beginning of her career. Note the torpedo nets deployed. Description: Courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1983 Catalog #: NH 95005

The subject of our tale, Niobe, carried the name of the Greek woman of Phrygian who, according to legend, attempted to shield her children from Artemis and Apollo. Her crime of hubris was to brag about her 14 children which in turn led to the lot being slain by the gods and Niobe herself turned into stone. Yikes. Sounds like the gods couldn’t take a joke.

Niobe and her youngest daughter, Roman copy of Greek work from 4C or 2C BC. Firenze, Galleria d. Uffizi (Royal Cast Collection, Copenhagen via Maicar)

The moniker had been carried by at least three RN warships before our Niobe, making it a traditional name, though it has not been used since.

Laid down at Vickers, Barrow, in 1895, she commissioned 6 December 1898 and was made part of the Channel Squadron.

Photograph (Q 43294) H. M. S. Niobe about 1899. Note all of the intakes to help feed her 30 boilers. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205277688

When the Boer War broke out in 1899, she spent two years on regular runs from the Home Islands to Cape Town escorting troop and supply ships, and during this same period ranged as far as India to do likewise. During this period, a significant number of her crew were composed of Australians.

SOUTH AFRICA, C 1900. JUNIOR OFFICERS OF HMS NIOBE AT CAPE TOWN. Via AWM

SOUTH AFRICA, CAPE TOWN, C 1900. SAILORS ON HMS NIOBE COLLECTING THEIR RUM RATIONS. Via AWM

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, 1900. MARINES ABOARD HMS NIOBE via AWM

CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA, 1900. CUTLASS DRILL ABOARD HMS NIOBE via AWM

Following the conflict, she escorted the twin-screw ocean liner RMS Ophir, then on Royal Yacht duty, carrying the future King George V and Queen Mary, on a world tour.

HMS Ophir in 1902, with HRH the Duke of York and Duchess of York, (souvenir) Photographers: Winfred J. Erb and Lewis B. Foote.

Further service with the Home Fleet saw the increasingly obsolete Niobe (protected and armored cruisers had started to fall out of favor after a poor showing of the type during the Russo-Japanese War in 1905) paid off in 1910.

However, she was still useful for training and as such was sold to the Canadians who were in the process of building a blue-water navy of their own as something of a prestige ship that September for £215,000 (about half price).

Upon transfer to the Naval Service of Canada, the reclassified HMCS Niobe– along with much smaller 3,600-ton Apollo-class protected cruiser HMCS Rainbow– became the first two in a long and illustrious line of HMC ships and submarines.

The warship entered Halifax Harbor on 21 October 1910, having steamed across the Atlantic from Portsmouth, England. As noted by the Canadian Forces, HMCS Niobe was the first Canadian combat ship to enter Canada’s territorial waters, a landmark event in the beginnings of the nascent Naval Service of Canada.

HMCS Niobe, entering Halifax Harbor, color postcard by Baxter. Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1979-221 no. 63

With that being said, her service in Canada was not particularly covered in glory.

After running aground off Nova Scotia in 1911, she spent six months in dry dock and emerged with her speed and capabilities limited, then, in turn, was largely left at pierside for the next several years undermanned and under loved. All those boilers and guns took a lot of Tars– which the young country just didn’t have. In fact, some returns from the time show the vessel with fewer than 300 men assigned– less than half her planned crew.

Still, she was a floating classroom and incubator for Canada’s fleet. It could be argued that if it weren’t for Niobe in 1910-14, there would not have been a foundation for the force numbering 9,000 officers and men by 1918 and is still in existence today as one of the most professional (if underfunded) sea services in the world.

HMCS Niobe, at wharf at North End of HMC Dockyard, Halifax, N.S Photograph via Nova Scotia Archives N-2599

When the Great War broke out, some 106 Newfoundland naval reservists were quickly assigned to Niobe, which was soon patched up enough to get back underway.

HMCS Niobe being readied for WW1 in August 1914 at the HMC Dockyard Halifax dry-dock. RC navy photo.

They searched the Strait of Belle Isle for German cruisers and spent 10 months patrolling the waters around New York and Boston as part of the Royal Navy’s 4th Cruiser Squadron.

Torpedo party, HMCS Niobe 1915. She carried 24 450mm torpedoed and three tubes. Nova Scotia Archives

Stokehold, HMCS Niobe, 1915. Did we mention she had 30 boilers? H.F. Pullen Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1984-573 Box 3 F8

Mess deck, HMCS Niobe 1915 H.F. Pullen Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1984-573 Box 3 F8

Notably, during this time she ran to ground the German auxiliary cruiser SMS Prinz Eitel Friedrich who had claimed 11 Allied ships over the winter of 1914-15. The low-speed stalk was remarkable for the fact that both Niobe and her nemesis were had engines and boilers that were worn out, but Friedrich narrowly made it to Newport News to be interned by the Americans.

The closest thing to Niobe’s biggest threat– the German passenger liner Prinz Eitel Friedrich. Converted to an auxiliary cruiser in 1914, she was interned first by the Americans at Norfolk and then at Philadelphia, where she is seen in this photo with U.S. battleships in the background, she was seized when the U.S. entered World War I. She was renamed USS DeKalb and placed in commission on 12 May 1917 U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.Catalog #: NH 100562

After the Niobe‘s boilers gave out in July 1915, the vessel was decommissioned that September and the Newfoundlanders were sent to Britain for reassignment while the abused cruiser was left at Halifax to serve as a station ship.

Photograph (Q 39724) H. M. S. Niobe. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205274258

There, at 8:45 a.m. on 6 December 1917 the 3,000-ton French freighter SS Mont-Blanc suffered a collision with the Norwegian ship, SS Imo. A fire aboard the French ship ignited her cargo of picric acid, TNT, and guncotton– all wonderful things to ship together.

At 9:04, the out-of-control fire aboard Mont-Blanc vaporized the ship, releasing the equivalent energy of roughly 2.9 kilotons of TNT and causing what is known today as the Halifax Explosion, one of the largest non-nuclear blasts in recorded history. In all, some 2,000 were killed or missing and another 9,000 injured.

And Niobe was in the middle of it– a crew from the cruiser working to move the French ship before it went sky-high. In the blast, the 11,000-ton cruiser, moored with three good Admiralty Pattern bow anchors as well as a concrete embedded anchor holding her in place were all dragged, and some lost outright.

Niobe herself was seriously damaged topside though she was shored up, repaired, and kept in nominal service as a hulk until 1920.

Diadem Class Protected Cruiser HMCS Niobe pictured at Halifax late in her career

She was sold for scrap in 1922.

As such, she outlived many of her seven sisters.

Ariadne, converted to a minelayer, was torpedoed and sunk off Beachy Head by the German submarine UC-65 on 26 July 1917 while on the Dover Patrol. Diadem, Spartiate, and Andromeda all spent the Great War as harbor ships– with the latter existing in such a role into the 1950s. Amphitrite, Argonaut, and Europa all served with the 9th Cruiser Squadron during the war in the Mediterranean and Atlantic but were quickly disposed of after the Armistice.

Niobe is extensively remembered, with her name gracing the RCN’s training establishments in various forms.

Her bell is at the Naval Museum of Halifax and numerous small items are in maritime collections in the UK and Canada.

Two of her 6-inch QF guns are on shore at Saint John, New Brunswick with one at HMCS Brunswicker, and another at 3 Field Regiment.

Other parts keep popping up as well.

In 2014, a one-ton anchor from Niobe damaged in the Halifax Explosion was found during the demolition of building D19, Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax buried beneath the parking lot of all places. The city now celebrates “Niobe Day” on October 21, the anniversary of her arrival in 1910.

During the demolition of building D19, Canadian Forces Base (CFB) Halifax an anchor (left) was found buried beneath the parking lot. It is believed that this anchor could possibility belong to Her Majesty’s Canadian Ship (HMCS) Niobe. This image was taken on 20 October 2015. ©DND 2014 Photo by MCpl Holly Swaine, Formation Imaging Services Halifax Halifax

“The discovery of one of HMCS Niobe’s anchors in Halifax Harbor just a week before proclaiming October 21st to be known and celebrated in the Royal Canadian Navy as Niobe Day is astonishing,” said Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, Commander of the Royal Canadian Navy. “This fantastic finding gives us a chance to reflect on our collective accomplishments since 1910, on the values in which we anchor our service as members of the profession of arms, and on what is required of us to ensure we continue to deliver excellence, both at sea and ashore, in the years to come. This is a true blessing and a rare opportunity to connect the dots between our forefathers and the next generations of sailors of the Royal Canadian Navy.”

She is also remembered in maritime art.

Specs:

Displacement: 11,000 tons
Length:
435 ft. (132.6 m)
(462 ft. 6 in (140.97 m) o/a)
Beam: 69 ft.
Draught:
25 ft. 6 in
27 ft. 6 in
Propulsion:
2 shaft triple expansion engines:
16,500 hp
30 Belleville boilers
Speed:
20.25 knots
Range:
2,000 nmi at 19 knots, 10000 (10)
(bunker capacity 1900 tons coal)
Complement: 677
Armament:
16 × single QF 152/40 QF Mk I/II 6-inch guns
14 × single 76/40 12pdr 12cwt QF Mk I guns
3 × single QF 3-pounder Hotchkiss Mk I (47 mm) guns
2 × 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes (1 above water stern, 2 submerged on beam)
8 Maxim machine guns
Armor:
Casemates and gun shields 4.5 in (110 mm)
Hoists 2 in (51 mm)
Deck 4–2.5 in (102–64 mm)
Conning tower 12 in (300 mm) fore
6 in (150 mm) tube to the fore conning tower
2 in (51 mm) aft conning tower
Armor was Harvey Nickel steel, except for armored deck

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

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

95 years ago today: Good trap, Darb!

An Aeromarine 39B piloted by Chevalier is seen just before it touches down on the flight deck of USS Langley (CV-1) on 26 October 1922 – the first landing aboard an American aircraft carrier. Via National Naval Aviation Museum.

An Aeromarine 39B piloted by Chevalier is seen just before it touches down on the flight deck of USS Langley (CV-1) on 26 October 1922 – the first landing aboard an American aircraft carrier. Via National Naval Aviation Museum.

Born 7 March 1889 in Providence, Rhode Island, the bespectacled Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier graduated from the Annapolis in 1910, and volunteered for flying duty after a heroic stint on the battleship USS New Hampshire (BB 25), taking part in Naval aviation’s first fleet deployment to Guantanamo Bay in 1913 with a Curtiss A type airplane.

Appointed a Naval Air Pilot on 7 November 1915 he piloted the first plane to be launched by catapult, from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina on 12 July 1916.

Commanding the first naval air station in France, at Dunkerque during WWI, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and subsequently became a Naval Aviator (Number 7) on 7 November 1918, just four days before the end of the Great War.

Godfrey "Darb" de Courcelles Chevalier, Naval Aviator No. 7, in the pilot's seat of early aircraft at Perdido Beach, Alabama, circa 1914. Hunter Brown is his passenger (may be seen bareheaded at intersection of engine block and propeller), and Charles W. Virgin (in bathing suit) is at right. NH 70285

Godfrey “Darb” de Courcelles Chevalier, Naval Aviator No. 7, in the pilot’s seat of early aircraft at Perdido Beach, Alabama, circa 1914. Hunter Brown is his passenger (may be seen bareheaded at intersection of engine block and propeller), and Charles W. Virgin (in bathing suit) is at right. NH 70285

As a pioneer in Naval Aviation, he was a part of the trans-Atlantic flight of the NC Aircraft in 1919, helped with the fitting out of the former collier USS Jupiter into the Navy’s first carrier, USS Langley.

It was aboard the inaugural flattop that Darb touched down on this day in 1922 for the first time, shown in the first image above.

Sadly, he would die from injuries received in an aviation accident in Virginia just 19 days later, ending his promising career at age 33.

The Navy named two destroyers after their first carrier-man: DD-451, a Fletcher-class destroyer sunk in 1943 and DD-805, a Gearing-class destroyer struck in 1975; as well as Chevalier Field at NAS Pensacola which remained in use until the 1990s and is now site of the barracks for the Naval Air Technical Training Center.

The wings pictured belonged to Lieutenant Commander Godfrey Chevalier, Naval Aviator Number 7, who was the first to trap on board a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. They are in the collection of the National Naval Aviation Museum

The wings pictured belonged to Lieutenant Commander Godfrey Chevalier, Naval Aviator Number 7, who was the first to trap on board a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. They are in the collection of the National Naval Aviation Museum

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2017: Putting the ‘Marine’ back in submarine

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 (in this case, doctrine) 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. 25, 2017: Putting the ‘Marine’ back in submarine

On 17 August 1942, just nine months after Pearl Harbor, 211 Marines of the 2nd Marine Raider Battalion embarked aboard the submarines USS Argonaut and Nautilus crept ashore at Makin Island and did what the Raiders were meant to do– hit hard in the most unexpected area they could find and jack up a small Japanese garrison.

While that attack was the pinnacle of U.S. submarine commando ops in WWII, and the Raiders were disbanded by early 1944, the Marines did not forget the concept of amphibious scouts and small raiding forces carried by submarines when the war was over.

Scouts and Raiders Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Carlos Lopez; C. 1943; Framed Dimensions 29H X 44W Accession #: 88-159-HD as a Gift of Abbott Laboratories “Commandos of the Navy, they leave a transport, submarine, or invasion craft in their black rubber boats at night on reconnaissance, scout, or demolition missions against enemy-held shores. Their faces and hands painted black for night operations, and now called officially Amphibious Scouts by the Navy, they specialize in rugged finesse. Here they go up and over some rock jetties.”

In 1948, the Marines pushed to convert a dozen Balao-class fleet subs into auxiliary Submarine Troop Carriers (ASSPs) which would involve removing all the torpedo tubes (the Navy loved that idea) as well as two of the big main diesels and using the new-found space to install extra bunks, showers and a pressure-proof hangar mounted outside of the pressure hull on deck. These subs would be able to carry 120 troops including an LVT with a jeep and equipment stowed aboard and eight rubber raiding rafts.

Yes, this IS a submarine with an Amtrac aboard. Perch (ASSP-313) preparing to launch an LVT amphibious tractor during a 1949 exercise. The vehicle could be carried in the cargo hangar and launched by flooding down the submarine. USN photo and text from The American Submarine by Norman Polmar, courtesy of Robert Hurst.

In theory, these boats could lift an entire reinforced battalion landing team with four 75mm Pack Howitzers, six 57mm recoilless rifles, 12 jeeps, 12 LVTs, 48 boats, 220 tons of ammo and ordnance; and 158 tons of supplies– enough to operate for ashore for ten days.

Bad news for the USMC was that the Navy just converted two of the subs– USS Perch (SS-313) and USS Sealion (SS-315). While they were later used extensively to support the Navy’s own UDT operations through the Vietnamese conflict, they didn’t come close to realizing the Marine’s vision in 1948.

Nonetheless, the Marines continued to trial submarine operations with smaller teams of amphibious recon troops in the 1950s, as seen in these great images:

Marine Corps Amphibious Reconnaissance troops in LCR (landing craft, rubber) leave submarine to perform a landing operation during maneuvers. OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO 313892

“A five-man amphibious reconnaissance team stands with nylon boat and equipment necessary for their mission, including aqualungs, depth gauges, wrist compasses and exposure suits which enable swimmers to work in the extremely cold water. All members of the team are outstanding swimmers, capable of breasting high surf and rough waters.” OFFICIAL U.S. MARINE CORPS PHOTO A367275

“OPERATION SKI JUMP – Technical Sergeant B. J. Parrerson, left Company Gunny of Amphibious Reconnaissance and Private First Class Robert T. Kassanovoid, right, help Staff Sergeant Jimmie E. Howard gets rigged with aqua-lung equipment on the forward deck of the submarine PERCH.” January 17, 1957, J.W. Richardson. DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A352423

“OPERATION SKI JUMP – Scout patrol of Amphibian Reconnaissance Company, leaving in rubber boats from the submarine PERCH.” January 17, 1957, J.W. Richardson DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A352380

Reconnaissance scouts of the 1st Provisional Marine Air-Ground Task Force load into a rubber boat from a submarine of the Pacific fleet as they leave on a night mission against “enemy” installations on the island of Maui. The training afforded the Marines of the Task Force, which is based at the Marine Corps Air Station, Kaneohe Bay, Oahu, Territory of Hawaii, is the most versatile offered to Marines anywhere October 7, 1954, Sgt D.E. Reyher DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A290040. The classic WWII “duck hunter” camo had by 1954 been out of use for almost a decade with the exception of special operations units.

The submarine above is USS Greenfish (SS-351). Greenfish was a Balao-class fleet sub commissioned 7 June 1946, too late for WWII. She did, however, perform duty during the Korean and Vietnam wars and, after she was decommissioned in 1973, was transferred to the Brazilian Navy as the submarine Amazonas (S-16), who kept her in service for another 20 years before she was ultimately scrapped in 2001. In U.S. service, Greenfish sank two submarines in her career, the captured U-234 in 1947 and her sister ship and former Warship Wednesday alumni USS Barbero (SS/SSA/SSG-317) off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on 7 October 1964 after that ship was stricken.

“When the mission is a raid on “enemy-held” beaches, members of the Marine recon party move out on the double to their assigned targets.” DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A31990

“Parachute scout, foreground, makes a sketch of enemy terrain and installations while another Marine Corps scout covers him with a “burp” gun. All Reconnaissance Leathernecks are experts in determining terrain factors and capabilities of roads and bridges.” December 2, 1957, MSgt J. W. Richardson DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A367293. Note the M3 Grease Gun and the WWII M1 “duck hunter” camo helmet covers worn as caps.

“BUDDY SYSTEM – Before leaving the submarine on a mission, scout-swimmers assist each other with the bulky equipment. When the mission is a raid on “enemy-held” beaches, members of the Marine recon party move out on the double to their assigned targets.” December 2, 1957, MSgt J. W. Richardson DEFENSE DEPT PHOTO (MARINE CORPS) A367308

The tradition of the Raiders and their use from submarines continues in the modern-day Raiders, recon teams and, of course Navy SEAL units who utilise a number of dedicated boats including the Seawolf and modified Ohio-class SSGNs when they are feeling particularly froggy as well as the organic Combat Rubber Raiding Craft companies built into to each of the seven Marine Expeditionary Forces.

BUSAN, Republic of Korea (Oct. 13, 2017) The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) (Gold) pulls into Busan Naval Base for a routine port visit. Note the twin Dry Deck Shelters on her casing, each able to carry 4 rubber raiding craft or an SDV minisub. Michigan can carry as many as 60 expeditionary operators, be they Navy or Marines (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman William Carlisle/Released)

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, Oct. 18, 2017: Franco’s big stick

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

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017: Franco’s big stick

Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

Here we see the lead ship of the Armada Española’s Canarias-class heavy cruisers– the mighty Canarias herself– in her pre-1953 arrangement. The big cruiser, though laid down in the 1920s, survived the Spanish Civil War and, in the end, even Franco himself.

The Spanish Navy of the old days was a colonial power and was very good at it for several hundred years until the 19th Century saw her Latin American holdings disappear along with, after the Spanish-American War, the crown’s Pacific Empire. Said conflict with the U.S. saw most of the Armada’s cruisers destroyed or captured in uneven fleet actions in the Caribbean and Manila Bay.

Post-1898, after losing or condemning 19 of her cruisers 21, all that was left was the old Velasco-class protected cruiser Infanta Isabel and the 5,000-ton Lepanto, finished just too late for the war. Three single-class new ships were quickly built using lessons learned in the conflict: Emperador Carlos V, Rio de la Plata, and Extremadura, followed by the three ships of the Princesa de Asturias-class and the Reina Regente, ordered in conjunction with the three 16,000-ton mini-battleships of the España-class in 1909. This is the fleet the Spanish carried into the Great War, where they were an armed neutral.

In the 1920s, with their turn-of-the-century coal-fired cruisers and dreadnoughts increasingly obsolete, and colonial conflicts such as the Rif War in North Africa draining resources while still setting the need to show the flag in far-away ports, the Spanish ordered the one-off Reina Victoria Eugenia (6,500 tons), two similar 6,300-ton Blas de Lezo-class cruisers, three very modern Almirante Cervera-class cruisers (9,385-tons, based on the Royal Navy’s Emerald-class) and planned for three 13,700-ton Canarias-class ships, with the plan to put the older WWI-era fleet to pasture and phase out their increasingly marginalized battleships.

Note that the class was always considered to be a Washington Treaty warship by the Spanish

Based on the British Crown County-class ships of Sir Philip Watts’ design but switched up to a degree, these 636-foot heavy cruisers were handsomely equipped with eight 8″/50 (20.3 cm) BL Model 1924 Mark D Vickers-Armstrong-designed guns, each capable of sending a 256-pound AP shell out to 32,530 yards every 20-seconds.

These things had some reach…

Another eight 12 cm/45 (4.7″) Mark F Vickers high-angle guns were to be mounted for AAA.

Note the “Todo por la Patria” (All for the Fatherland) logo. The 4.7″ guns would pick up splinter shields after the Civil War

Note the shell to the left

A dozen torpedo tubes, some smaller weapons and a catapult for Heinkel He 60 seaplanes– one of the most dieselpunk looking aircraft ever in my opinion— were to be fitted.

Overall speed on Parsons geared steam turbines was 33-knots and the range was sufficient to sortie to the Spanish outposts in the Moroccan shores, the Western Sahara and Equatorial Guinea.

Two vessels, class leader Canarias (Canary Islands) and sister Baleares (Balearic Islands) were laid down at Sociedad Española de Construcción Naval (SECN) in El Ferrol in 1928 and took more than eight years to construct, both still only semi-complete by 1936–a pivotal year for Spain. The third ship of the class, Ferrol, was canceled due to tight budgets.

At Ferrol, colorised by Postales Navales

In July 1936, a pro-fascist military coup led by Gens. Goded and Franco in colonies outside of Metropolitan Spain quickly spread to all-out civil war with the Soviet-allied Republicans against the German-Italian backed Nationalists.

Suffice it to say without chronicling the entire Civil War, the Spanish Navy took a beating in the three-year conflict.

On her trials, where she broke 33.8-knots at 99,000 shp. Note much of her equipment to include her rangefinders and Turret C is yet to be fitted– and she never did get that seaplane rig

-Canarias‘ own sister ship, the Nationalist-controlled Baleares, was sunk in a battle with Republican destroyers at Cape Palos in March 1938.

-While steaming off Santander on 30 April 1937, the Nationalist-controlled battleship Alfonso XIII struck a mine and sank.

-Spain’s last remaining battleship, Jaime I, was under the Republican flag and was struck by German bombers and eventually sunk by the Nationalists.

-The cruisers Miguel de Cervantes, Libertad and Mendez Nuñez, part of the Republican Navy, escaped at the end of the war and were interned by the French at Bizerte only to be repatriated later in poor condition.

-Of the other ships in the Nationalist Navy, only the light cruiser Almirante Cervera escaped the war largely intact and was Canarias‘ partner in crime.

-The cruiser Reina Victoria Eugenia, renamed Republica by the Republicans and then Navarra by the Nationalists after they recaptured her, also survived though was less functional than either Cervera or Canarias.

The Civil War saw Canarias as the de facto flag of Franco’s fleet, especially after the loss of Alfonso XIII, their only battleship.

Note her 4.7 inch secondary guns amidships at elevation and that she has all four turrets for her main battery

The big cruiser plastered Republican positions near the coastline including bloody work along the Malaga-Almeria highway and in the bombardment of Barcelona, intercepted Soviet merchant ships headed to the Republicans with arms, and engaging Republican ships in naval actions– including vaporizing the Churruca-class destroyer Almirante Ferrándiz off Cape Spartel with three salvos of her big 8-inch guns.

In 1938, she almost captured the Republican destroyer Jose Luis Diez, who only narrowly made it to Gibraltar and internment carrying an 8-inch hit in her stern. During the war, she reportedly fired her guns in anger on at least 34 occasions.

In WWII, while Franco never officially entered the war despite being an ersatz Axis state, Canarias and Cervera were the Spanish Navy’s most effective units and the big cruiser put to sea in 1941 to help look for survivors of the German battleship Bismarck after the failed Operation Rheinübung. While she found no surviviors after a three day search of the fallen dreadnought’s debris field, they did recover some wreckage and five bodies.

During the war, she picked up 12 Rheinmetall 37mm AAA guns in a tertiary battery.

Post-VE-Day, she remained the most powerful naval unit under the Spanish flag and in 1952-53 underwent a modernization at SECN that saw her wide Lexington-like funnel separated into two stacks as well as navigational and search radar fitted. Her torpedo tubes were landed.

View of the northeast section of basin #1, El Ferrol, looking northwest. Two graving docks appear, one partially hidden by shops in the right middle ground. In the left foreground is the cruiser CANARIAS with her new after stack in place but without her new forward stack. This refit occurred between October 1952 and February 1953. Some destroyers and smaller craft are also visible. Description: Catalog #: NH 93640

Post-1953, note her twin funnels

She helped support the Spanish Legion in the little-known Ifni War in 1957-58 which included some very muscular gunboat diplomacy against Morocco.

At Ceuta in 1960> Note she is wearing her pennant number on her hull

Then came the hijacking of the Portuguese liner Santa Maria in 1961 which saw Canarias chase her across the Atlantic, cooperating with a U.S. Navy task force that also shadowed the cruise ship more than 20 years before the better remembered Achille Lauro hijacking. An important development considering Spain did not join NATO until 1982.

She also waved the flag, attending several European ceremonies, participating in goodwill trips to Latin America, excercises with Western navies and visiting overseas holdings.

Here she is in Africa in 1961:

In 1969, Canarias helped evacuate the Spanish from Equatorial Guinea as that Central African country gained independence from the ever-shrinking empire, a fitting final act for a colonial cruiser.

In Equatorial Guinea

She had outlasted all the other Spanish cruisers, with the three Almirante Cervera-class ships all striking by 1970, Mendez Nuñez retired in 1964, and Navarra paid off in 1955.

By that time, she was among the last all-big-gun cruisers left in the world. The British had broken up their last Crown Colony/Fiji-class near sister ships in 1968, though two, HMS Newfoundland and HMS Ceylon, continued to operate with the Peruvian Navy into the 1970s and one, Nigeria, served the Indian Navy as INS Mysore (C60) until 1985.

Her last modernization came in 1969 when she was fitted with a modern CIC, new radars (Decca 12 navigation set, U.S. SG-6B surface search, Italian Marconi MLA-IB air search) and electronics, while 40/70 Bofors L70s replaced her WWII 37mm and 40mm suites.

CANARIAS Photographed at Barcelona, Spain, in about 1970. Note the large tower to the right for the gondola transport system going across the harbor. The 371-foot four-masted training barque Juan Sebastián Elcano is to her stern. Description: Catalog #: NH 90743

The end game came for Franco in 1975, as the Green March wrested Spain’s hold in the Sahara and the overseas colonies shrank to the current lot that are the isolated cities of Ceuta, Melilla, and the Canary Islands. The old dictator himself marched off to the parade ground of lost souls that November.

Pushing 40 and considered obsolete for the last 30 of those years, Canarias was pulled from service and decommissioned on 17 December 1975, the end of an era. She had steamed 650,000 miles on 524 trips in her career.

While several cities sought to preserve her as a museum– including some she had bombarded in the Civil War– money just wasn’t there and the old war wagon sailed to the breakers under her own steam in September 1977.

Her last cruise, Sept. 1977

Sailing past the Castillo de San Felipe at Ferrol

Parts of her were saved, however, including turret B and the entire admiral’s cabin interior at the Naval Academy at Marín, a 4.7-inch AAA at Las Palmas de Gran Canaria– the capital of the Canary Islands, a rangefinder at the Naval Museum at Ferrol, several anchors around Spain, and other items.

She is also remembered in maritime art.

Specs:

Displacement:
10,670 long tons (10,840 t) standard
13,500 long tons (13,700 t) full load
Length: 636 ft.
Beam: 64 ft. (20 m)
Draught: 21 ft. 5 in
Installed power: Yarrow type boilers, 90,000 hp (67,000 kW)
Propulsion: 4 shafts, Parsons type geared turbines
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h)
Range: 8,000 nmi (15,000 km) at 15 kn (28 km/h)
Complement: 679
Armament:
(1936, designed)
8 × 8-inch (203 mm) guns in four twin turrets
8 × 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns
12 × 40 mm AA guns
3 × 20 mm AA guns
12 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes in triple mounts above water
(1969)
8 × 8-inch (203 mm) guns in four twin turrets
8 × 4.7-inch (119 mm) guns
8 40/70 Bofors
Armor:
Belt 2 in (51 mm)
Deck 1.5–1 in (38–25 mm)
Magazine 4 in (102 mm) box around
Turrets 1 in (25 mm), also splinter sheilds were added to 4.7″ mounts in 1940.
Conning tower 1 in (25 mm)

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

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017: I’d like to be back on my horse

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

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017: I’d like to be back on my horse

USN photo courtesy of Scott Koen & ussnewyork.com via Navsource

Here we see the Balao-class diesel-electric fleet submarine USS Tilefish (SS-307) returning to San Diego on 5 December 1958 for inactivation. You may not recognize her in the photo, but she was always ready for her closeup.

A member of the 128-ship Balao class, she was one of the most mature U.S. Navy diesel designs of the World War Two era, constructed with knowledge gained from the earlier Gato-class. U.S. subs, unlike those of many navies of the day, were ‘fleet’ boats, capable of unsupported operations in deep water far from home.

Able to range 11,000 nautical miles on their reliable diesel engines, they could undertake 75-day patrols that could span the immensity of the Pacific. Carrying 24 (often unreliable) Mk14 Torpedoes, these subs often sank anything short of a 5000-ton Maru or warship by surfacing and using their 4-inch/50 caliber and 40mm/20mm AAA’s. The also served as the firetrucks of the fleet, rescuing downed naval aviators from right under the noses of Japanese warships.

We have covered a number of this class before, such as Rocket Mail slinging USS Barbero, the carrier-sinking USS Archerfish, the long-serving USS Catfish and the frogman Cadillac USS Perch —but don’t complain, they have lots of great stories.

Laid down at Mare Island Navy Yard in Vallejo, California, on 10 Mar 1943, USS Tilefish was the first and only naval vessel named for homely reef fish found in the world’s oceans.

1916 USBOF sheet on the Tilefish, via NARA

Commissioned just nine months later on 28 Dec 1943, Tilefish completed her trials and shakedown off the California coast and made for the Western Pacific in early 1944.

Broadside view of the Tilefish (SS-307) off Mare Island on 2 March 1944. USN photos # 1434-44 through1436-44, courtesy of Darryl L. Baker. Via Navsource

Her first war patrol, off Honshu in Japanese home waters, was short and uneventful.

Her second, in the Luzon Strait, netted a torpedo hit on the 745-ton Japanese corvette Kaibokan 17 south of Formosa on 18 July.

Her third patrol, in the Sea of Okhotsk and off the Kuril Islands, resulted in sinking a sampan in a surface action, as well as two small cargo ships, a larger cargo ship and the 108-ton Japanese guard boat Kyowa Maru No.2. Tilefish also picked up a Russian owl in these frigid waters, which was duly named Boris Hootski with the ship’s log noting, “He is now official ship’s mascot and stands battle stations on top of the tube blow and vent manifold.”

She closed the year with her fourth patrol in the Kurils and Japanese home waters with sinking the Japanese torpedo boat Chidori some 90 miles WSW of Yokosuka.

Early 1945 saw her fifth patrol which sank a small Japanese coaster and effectively knocked the IJN minesweeper W 15 out of the war. She also plucked LT (JG) William J. Hooks from the USS Hancock (CV-19) of VF-80 out of the water after he had to ditch his F6F at sea off Amami Oshima in the Ryukyus.

After refit on the West Coast, Tilefish completed her sixth patrol on lifeguard station off the Ryukyus where she ended the war, being ordered back to California on 7 September.

In all, Tilefish received five battle stars for World War II service. Her tally included 7 vessels for a total of 10,700 claimed tons– though many were disallowed post-war by JANAC. Her six patrols averaged 48 days at sea.

While most of the U.S. submarine fleet was mothballed in the months immediately after WWII, Tilefish remained in service. She even managed a sinkex in August 1947 against the crippled Liberty tanker SS Schuyler Colfax, at 7,200-tons, Tilefish‘s largest prize.

Her war flag represented as a patch from popularpatch.com. Note the 10 vessels claimed and the parachute for Lt. Hooks.

When the Korean War kicked off in 1950, Tilefish made for the region.

As noted by DANFS:

“From 28 September 1950 through 24 March 1951, the submarine operated out of Japanese ports conducting patrols in Korean waters in support of the United Nations campaign in Korea. She made reconnaissance patrols of La Perouse Strait to keep the Commander, Naval Forces Far East, informed of Soviet seaborne activity in that area.”

Tilefish received one battle star for Korean service.

Hula dancers Kuulei Jesse, Gigi White and Dancette Poepoe (left to right) welcome the submarine, as she docks at the Pearl Harbor Submarine Base after a Korean War tour. Crewmen placing the flower lei around Tilefish’s bow are Engineman 3rd Class Donald E. Dunlevy, USN, (left – still wearing E-3 stripes) and Torpedoman’s Mate 1st Class Gordon F. Sudduth, USNR. This photograph was released by Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, on 26 March 1951. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the All Hands collection at the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 97068

The next nine years saw her conducting regular peacetime operations and exercises including a goodwill visit to Acapulco; a survey mission with four civilian geophysicists on board from the Hydrographic Office of Eniwetok, Wake, and Midway; and other ops.

USS TILEFISH (SS-307) Caption: Photographed during the 1950s. Description: Courtesy of Commander Donald J. Robinson, USN (MSC), 1974. Catalog #: NH 78988

These “other ops” included filming some scenes for the 1958 Glen Ford WWII submarine flick Torpedo Run, which were extensively augmented by scale models, and more extensive shoots for Up Periscope, a film in which James Garner, a Korean war Army vet and Hollywood cowboy, plays a frogman ordered to photograph a codebook at an isolated Japanese radio station.

The film was an adaption of LCDR Robb White’s book of the same name.

Garner was not impressed by the Tilefish.

James Garner as Lieutenant Kenneth M. Braden in Up Periscope

As related by a Warren Oaks biographer, Garner, bobbing along on the old submarine offshore at 9-kts in groundswells, said, “You know something? I’d like to be back on my horse.”

After her brief movie career and service in two wars, Tilefish was given a rebuild at the San Francisco Navy Yard and was decommissioned in May 1960.

Tilefish was then sold to Venezuela, which renamed her ARV Carite (S-11). As such, she was the first modern submarine in that force. She arrived in that country on 23 July 1960, setting the small navy up to be the fifth in Latin America with subs.

ARV S-11 Carite El 4 de mayo de 1960

As noted by El Snorkel (great name), a Latin American submarine resource, Tilefish/Carite was very active indeed, making 7,287 dives with the Venezuelan Navy over the next 17 years. She participated in the Argentine/Dominican Republic/Venezuelan -U.S. Quarantine Task Force 137 during the Cuban Missile Crisis, and intercepted the Soviet tug Gromoboi in 1968.

In 1966, she was part of the Greater Underwater Propulsion Power Program (GUPPY) conversion program and (along with 20 other boats), was given the very basic Fleet Snorkel package which provided most ofthe bells and whistles found on the German late-WWII Type XXI U-boats– which would later prove ironic. This gave her expanded battery capacity, steamlined her sail conning tower fairwater into a so-called “Northern or North Atlantic sail”– a steel framework surrounded by thick fiberglass– added a snorkel, higher capacity air-conditioning system, and a more powerful electrical system and increased her submerged speed to 15 knots while removing her auxillary diesel. A small topside sonar dome appeared.

ex-Tilefish (SS-307), taken 12 Oct. 1966 after transfer to Venezuela as ARV Carite (S-11). Note the GUPPY series conversion, the so-called very basic “Fleet Snorkel” mod.

However, during this time, her most enduring exposure was in helping film Murphy’s War, in which a German U-boat (U-482) hides out in the Orinoco River in Venezuela after sinking British merchant steamer Mount Kyle, leaving Peter O’Toole as the lone survivor on a hunt to bag the German shark. The thing is, she looked too modern for the film after her recent conversion.

For her role, Carite was given a far-out grey-white-black dazzle camo scheme and, to make her more U-boat-ish, was fitted with a faux cigarette deck after her tower complete with a Boffin 40mm (!) and a twin Oerlikon mount (!!). Her bow was fitted with similarly faked submarine net cutting teeth.

Her “crew” was a mix of U.S. Peace Corps kids working in the area (to get the proper blonde Germanic look) with Venezuelan tars at the controls.

The movie, filmed in decadent Panavision color, shows lots of footage of the old Tilefish including a dramatic ramming sequence with a bone in her teeth and what could be the last and best images of a Balao-class submarine with her decks awash.

That bone!

Ballasting down– note the very un U-boat like sonar dome. I believe that is a QHB-1 transducer dome to starboard with a BQR-3 hydrophone behind it on port

By the mid-1970s, Tilefish/Carite was showing her age. In 1972, the Venezuelans picked up more two more advanced GUPPY II conversions, her Balao-class sister USS Cubera (SS-347), renaming her ARV Tiburon (S-12) and the Tench-class USS Grenadier (SS-525) which followed as ARV Picua (S-13) in 1973.

The Venezuelan submarine ARV Carite (S-11) demonstrates an emergency surfacing during the UNITAS XI exercise, in 1970. via All Hands magazine

Once the two “new” boats were integrated into the Venezuelan Navy, Tilefish/Carite was decommissioned on 28 January 1977 and slowly cannibalized for spare parts, enabling Cubera and Grenadier to remain in service until 1989 when they were replaced by new-built German Type 209-class SSKs, which still serve to one degree or another.

According to a Polish submarine page, some artifacts from Tilefish including a torpedo tube remain in Venezuela.

Although she is no longer afloat, eight Balao-class submarines are preserved (for now) as museum ships across the country.

Please visit one of these fine ships and keep the legacy alive:

-USS Batfish (SS-310) at War Memorial Park in Muskogee, Oklahoma.
USS Becuna (SS-319) at Independence Seaport Museum in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
USS Bowfin (SS-287) at USS Bowfin Submarine Museum & Park in Honolulu, Hawaii.
USS Clamagore (SS-343) at Patriot’s Point in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. (Which may not be there much longer)
USS Ling (SS-297) at New Jersey Naval Museum in Hackensack, New Jersey. (Which is also on borrowed time)
USS Lionfish (SS-298) at Battleship Cove in Fall River, Massachusetts.
-USS Pampanito (SS-383) at San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park in San Francisco, California, (which played the part of the fictional USS Stingray in the movie Down Periscope).
USS Razorback (SS-394) at Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

However, Tilefish will endure wherever submarine films are enjoyed.

Specs:

Displacement, surfaced: 1,526 t., Submerged: 2,424 t.
Length 311′ 10″
Beam 27′ 3″
Draft 15′ 3″
Speed surfaced 20.25 kts, Submerged 8.75 kts
Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10kts; Submerged Endurance, 48 hours at 2kts
Operating Depth Limit, 400 ft.
Patrol Endurance 75 days
Propulsion: diesels-electric reduction gear with four Fairbanks-Morse main generator engines., 5,400 hp, four Elliot Motor Co., main motors with 2,740 hp, two 126-cell main storage batteries, two propellers.
Fuel Capacity: 94,400 gal.
Complement 6 Officers 60 Enlisted
Armament:
(As built)
10 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes,
one 4″/50 caliber deck gun,
one 40mm gun,
two .50 cal. machine guns
(By 1966)
10 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes,

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

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Stuff From Hsoi

Writing about whatever interests me, and maybe you.

Louisville Gun

Thoughts and Musings on Gun Control & Crime

Ted Campbell's Point of View

An old soldier's blog, mostly about Conservative politics and our national defence and whatever else might interest me on any given day

CIVILIAN GUNFIGHTER

Identifying the Best Training, Tools, and Tactics for the Armed Civilian!

MountainGuerrilla

Nous Defions!

Under Every Leaf.

A Site for the British Empire 1860-1913

JULESWINGS

Military wings and things

Western Rifle Shooters Association

The intel files on folks in your AO who will win a helicopter ride are not building themselves.

Meccanica Mekaniikka Mecanică

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

Eatgrueldog

Where misinformation stops and you are force fed the truth III

The LBM Blogger

Make Big Noise

Not Clauswitz

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

The Angry Staff Officer

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

To the Sound of the Guns

Civil War Artillery, Battlefields and Historical Markers

Time to Eat the Dogs

On Science, History, and Exploration

Ethos Live

Naval Special Warfare Command

%d bloggers like this: