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Warship Wednesday, May 24, 2017: The leopard of rum row turned magic-eyed U-boat buster

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 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, May 24, 2017: The leopard of rum row turned magic-eyed U-boat buster

Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1972. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 76377

Here we see the Clemson-class “four-piper” flush-decker destroyer USS Hunt (DD-194) at anchor in New York Harbor when new, circa 1920. One of a tremendous class of vessels some 156-strong, she had a long and varied career.

An expansion of the Wickes-class destroyers with a third more fuel capacity to enable them to escort a convoy across the Atlantic without refueling, the Clemsons were needed to combat the pressing German submarine threat of the Great War. At 1,200-tons and with a top speed of 35 knots, they were brisk. Another thing they were was built too late for the war.

The hero of our story, USS Hunt, was laid down at Newport News 10 weeks before Armistice Day, named in honor of William Henry Hunt, Secretary of the Navy under President Garfield. Peace delayed her completion until 30 September 1920 when the above image was taken.

After shakedown, Hunt participated in training and readiness exercises with the Atlantic Fleet and conducted torpedo trials on the range out of Newport, R.I. before moving to Charleston.

With the looming idea of naval limitations treaties, the USN rapidly scrapped 40 of their new Clemsons (those built with British style Yarrow boilers) and put whole squadrons of these low mileage vessels in ordinary. One, USS Moody (DD-277) was even sold to MGM for making the film “Hell Below” where she was used as German destroyer and blown up during filming!

Our Hunt decommissioned at Philadelphia Navy Yard 11 August 1922, with only 23 months of gentle Naval service under her belt.

While the Hunt was sitting in Philly, a funny thing happened. The country got sober. Well, kind of.

As deftly retold in a paper by the USCG Historians Office, the service, then part of the Treasury Department, was hard-pressed to chase down fast bootlegging boats shagging out to “Rum Row” where British and Canadian merchants rested in safe water 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 most of the FFG7 frigates to the Coast Guard during the “cocaine cowboy” days of the 1980s.

USCGD Ammen (CG-8) in pursuit of a rumrunner

U.S. Coast Guard destroyers at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, 1926, note the “CG” hull numbers

From the USCG Historian:

In the end, the rehabilitation of the vessels became a saga in itself because of the exceedingly poor condition of many of these war-weary ships. In many instances, it took nearly a year to bring the vessels up to seaworthiness. Additionally, these were by far the largest and most sophisticated vessels ever operated by the service and trained personnel were nearly nonexistent. As a result, Congress authorized hundreds of new enlistees. It was these inexperienced men that made up the destroyer crews and contributed to the service’s greatest growth prior to World War II.

A total of 31 destroyers served with the Coast Guard’s Destroyer Force. These included three different classes, the 742-ton “flivver-class,” “1,000-ton class”, and the 1,190-ton “Clemson-class” flush-deckers. Capable of over 25 knots, the destroyers had an advantage in chasing large rumrunners. They were, however, easily outmaneuvered by smaller vessels. The destroyers’ mission, therefore, was to picket the larger supply ships (“mother ships”) and prevent them from off-loading their cargo onto smaller, speedier contact boats that ran the liquor into shore.

Hunt was one of the last tin cans loaned to the service.

She only served three years with the Coasties, transferring 5 Feb 1931 and placed in commission at Philadelphia Navy Yard, then deploying to Stapleton, NY where she became the flag for the Special Patrol Force there.

Coast Guard Historian’s office

While chasing down rum boats along the New York coastline, she apparently had a very serious mascot:

On 6 Jan 1933, she was transferred to Division II, Coast Guard Destroyer Force, and, along with other Treasury Department-loaned tin cans, supported the Navy on the Cuban Expedition based out of Key West for several months as the country watched how the troubles down there were going on.

Hunt arrived back at Stapleton 9 November 1933 and, with the Volstead Act repealed, was decommissioned from USCG service 28 May 1934 and returned to the Navy, who promptly sent her back to red lead row.

There she sat once more until the country needed her.

On 26 January 1940, she once again was taken out of mothballs and brought to life by a fresh crew as the Navy needed ships for the new neutrality patrol in the initial stages of WWII. Shipping for the Caribbean, she escorted the USS Searaven (SS-196), a Sargo-class submarine, from the Canal Zone to Florida then performed training tasks in the Chesapeake.

Once again, her service with the Navy was brief.

Hunt got underway from Newport 3 October 1940, and reached Halifax, Nova Scotia two days later, where she took on 103 British sailors and, three days after that, she decommissioned from the U.S. Navy, was struck from the Naval List, and taken up by the Royal Navy as the Town-class destroyer HMS Broadway (H80) as part of the infamous “Destroyers for Bases Agreement” between the two countries.

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

As noted by Lt Cdr Geoffrey B Mason’s service histories, “Broadway” had not previously been used for any RN ship but did represent both a city in the UK and one in the U.S.

Changes to her by the Brits included removal of mainmast and shortening of the foremast, trimming the after funnels and replacing the 3in and 4in guns mounted aft with a 12pdr British HA gun in X position. The aft torpedo tubes were also jettisoned and the U.S style depth charges were replaced with British ones.

THE BATTLE OF THE ATLANTIC 1939-1945 (A 8291) British Forces: HMS BROADWAY, a destroyer built in 1918. BROADWAY was one of the fifty American destroyers loaned to Britain in September 1940. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205125169

She also picked up an “Evil Eye” or “Magic Eye” on her bow, painted by her crew to ward off bad spirits.

The huge ‘Magic Eye’ on the bows of the BROADWAY as she leaves on another trip. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205152830

Joining 11th Escort Group, she had an eventful career in the Atlantic, joining in no less than 29 convoys between and 10 December 1940 and 21 June 1943– a span of just 18 months!

During this time, she directly helped shorten the war on 9 May 1941 when assisting the destroyer HMS Bulldog and corvette HMS Aubretia, she captured German submarine U-110 between Iceland and Greenland. The Type IXB U-boat provided several secret cipher documents to the British as part of Operation Primrose and was one of the biggest intel coups of the war, helping to break the German Enigma codes.

She also helped chalk up a second German torpedo slinger when on 12 May 1943 she joined frigate HMS Lagan and aircraft from escort carrier HMS Biter in destroying U-89 off the Azores.

SUB LIEUT ROY A GENTLES, RCNVR, OFFICER ON LOAN TO THE ROYAL NAVY, WHO WAS FIRST LIEUTENANT ON BOARD HMS BROADWAY IN THE SUCCESSFUL ANTI-U-BOAT ACTION IN THE NORTH ATLANTIC.  (A 17288) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205150178

Hunt/Broadway, showing her age, was relegated to training duties by 1944 in Scotland, where she was a target ship for non-destructive bombing and practice strafing runs by new pilots. For this much of her armament to include her radar, anti-submarine mortar, torpedo tubes, and HF D/F outfit was removed.

The destroyer HMS Broadway off the East coast of Scotland April 1944 after becoming an Air Target Ship (Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205120270

She did get one last hurrah in at the end of the war, sailing for Norwegian waters where she performed occupation duties that included taking charge of several surrendered German U-boats in Narvik and Tromso as part of Operation Deadlight.

Hunt/Broadway, who served more in the Royal Navy than she ever did in the naval service of her homeland, was paid off 9 August 1945 and placed in an unmaintained reserve status. She was eventually sold to BISCO on 18th February 1947 for demolition by Metal Industries and towed to the breaker’s yard in Charlestown near Rosyth in 1948.

As for her sisters, seven Clemson‘s were lost at the disaster at Honda Point in 1923, 18 (including six used by the British) were lost in WWII including one, USS Stewart (DD-224), which was famously raised by the Japanese and used in their Navy.

From what I can tell the last one in U.S. Navy service was USS Semmes (DD-189/AG-24), like Hunt a former Coast Guard destroyer, stricken in November 1946 after spending the war testing experimental equipment at the Sonar School in New London.

The last of the 156 Clemsons still afloat, USS Welborn C. Wood (DD-195), also a former Coast Guard destroyer, became HMS Chesterfield on 9 September 1940. She was allocated for scrapping on 3 December 1948. None of the class were retained and few relics of them exist today.

However, the codebooks and Enigma machine that Hunt/Broadway helped capture from U-110 are on display at Bletchley Park.

And the event is recorded in maritime art.

The Capture of U-110 by the Royal Navy, 9 May 1941 (2002) by K W Radcliffe via the Merseyside Maritime Museum

Specs:

Displacement:
1,215 tons (normal)
1,308 tons (full load)
Length:     314 ft. 4.5 in
Beam:     30 ft. 11.5 in
Draft:     9 ft. 4 in
Propulsion:
4 × boilers, 300 psi (2,100 kPa) saturated steam
2 geared steam turbines
27,600 hp (20,600 kW)
2 shafts
Speed:     35.5 knots (65.7 km/h)
Range:  4,900 nmi (9,100 km) @ 15 kn (28 km/h)
Crew: (USN as commissioned)
8 officers
8 chief petty officers
106 enlisted
Armament:
(1919)
5-4″/50 guns
12 × 21 inch torpedo tubes (4 × 3) (533 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, May 17, 2017: De Gaulle’s lightning bolt

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, May 17, 2017: De Gaulle’s lightning bolt

Office of Naval Intelligence. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 86560

Here we see the very speedy Le Fantasque/Malin class contre-torpilleur (torpedo boat destroyer) Le Triomphant (X83) of the French Navy underway during exercises in the Atlantic, June 1939, as photographed from an observation plane likely from the carrier Bearn. The outsized craft would manage to escape the Germans, snatch hundreds of civilians from the New Hebrides just before a Japanese occupation, battle a Pacific cyclone and secure the surrender of a corps-sized force in Indochina– all before her 10th birthday. That’s living in the fast lane!

Built to keep up with new classes of fast French cruisers and battleships capable of chasing down the Italians, the 3,500-ton/434-foot Le Fantasque-class were supersized when it came to destroyers of the time– for the purpose of fitting four oil-fired boilers and two huge 37,000shp geared turbines (giving them 74,000 shp– roughly comparable to a Spruance-class destroyer of the 1970s which weighed about twice as much) in their hulls. This allowed the class to hit 45.03-knots on trials, a still very respectable speed for any warship today, especially one that is non-nuclear. If they lit half their boilers and poked around at 14 knots, they could still cover 3,000 nm, which was deemed sufficient for ops in the Mediterranean, their most likely theater of employment.

Armament was decent, with five 138.6 mm/50 (5.46″) Model 1929 singles mounted two forward and three aft, capable of a theoretical rate of fire of 12 rounds per minute per tube. Their side salvo weighed about 200kg, twice that of British destroyers of the time.

As noted by Navweaps:

As completed the outfit for the Le Fantasque class was 500 rounds of HE and SAP plus 75 starshell. 525 charges were carried of which 25% were flashless. There were also 80 charges for the starshells. When the war started, the magazines were altered to hold 200 rounds per gun and ready racks were installed at each gun which held 24 rounds.

Model 1929 Single Mountings on Le Triomphant in 1940, note Brodie helmets on some of the crew, likely British RN signalers. Note the twin 13.2 mm Hotchkiss MG on the bridge. via Navweaps

The ships also mounted a smattering of 37mm and 13mm AAA guns and 9 21.7″ torpedo tubes in three triple braces, as well as the ability to sow mines.

Laid down at Ateliers et Chantiers de France, Dunkerque in 1931, Le Triomphant was the 7th French naval vessel since 1667 to carry the name.

When war came in 1939, the six fast destroyers of the class were joined by France’s only carrier Bearn the three newest French cruisers Montcalm, Georges Leygues, and Gloire, and the fast battleships Dunkerque and Strasbourg, to form the “Force de Raid” to go and hunt down German surface raiders, a job which turned out to be uneventful.

In April 1940, while detached with the other destroyers, Le Triomphant wound up in a surface action with a group of armed German trawlers and patrol boats in the Skagerrak that left her slightly damaged and, as the fall of France loomed, she was in Lorient for repairs. As the Germans advanced, she skipped out and headed across the Channel to Plymouth in June, where the British took her over on 3 July to keep her out of Vichy hands.

She promptly became one of the more important vessels of the fledging Forces Navales Françaises Libres (FNFL), or Free French Navy. Within days, Vice Admiral Muselier, who had only arrived in London by flying boat from Gibraltar on 30 June 30, along with some French tank general by the name of de Gaulle, were walking her decks in a much-needed PR coup for the Free French forces.

VISIT OF GENERAL DE GAULLE AND ADMIRAL MUSELIER TO A NAVAL PORT. 1940, THE HEAD OF THE FREE FRENCH FORCES, GENERAL DE GAULLE, ACCOMPANIED BY ADMIRAL MUSELIER, VISITED FRENCH SHIPS MANNED BY MEMBERS OF THE FREE FRENCH NAVAL FORCES AT A BRITISH PORT. (A 2177) On board the French destroyer LE TRIOMPHANT. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205136575

VISIT OF GENERAL DE GAULLE AND ADMIRAL MUSELIER TO A NAVAL PORT. 1940, THE HEAD OF THE FREE FRENCH FORCES, GENERAL DE GAULLE, ACCOMPANIED BY ADMIRAL MUSELIER, VISITED FRENCH SHIPS MANNED BY MEMBERS OF THE FREE FRENCH NAVAL FORCES AT A BRITISH PORT. (A 2176) On board the French destroyer LE TRIOMPHANT. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205136574

VISIT OF GENERAL DE GAULLE AND ADMIRAL MUSELIER TO A NAVAL PORT. 1940, THE HEAD OF THE FREE FRENCH FORCES, GENERAL DE GAULLE, ACCOMPANIED BY ADMIRAL MUSELIER, VISITED FRENCH SHIPS MANNED BY MEMBERS OF THE FREE FRENCH NAVAL FORCES AT A BRITISH PORT. (A 2178) Leaving the French destroyer LE TRIOMPHANT. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205136576

She was subsequently modified for operations alongside the RN and her No. 4 gun was removed during a 1940 refit in Britain and a 4″/45 (10.2 cm) QF Mark V fitted in its place. British light AA guns were also fitted. Her speed dropped to 37 knots as she had added weight of guns, sonar, radar, and fuel stowage was increased from 580t to 730t, which after this time the French classified her as a light cruiser.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 1855) Members of the ship’s crew of FFS LE TRIOMPHANT in working rig, seated on gantries hanging over the ship’s side, painting the ship’s bow. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205185152

Under the command of Commandant Pierre Gilly, she was made the flagship of the Free French Pacific squadron and set off across the Atlantic to both visit the U.S. and, after transit through the Panama Canal, undertake numerous escort and convoy assignments.

Le Triomphant underway in San Diego harbor, California, circa 26 April 1941. Photographed from on board USS Saratoga (CV-3). Note the British type 4-inch anti-aircraft gun (at the rear of the after-deck house) and light anti-aircraft machine guns added while she was in British hands during 1940. Among the latter is a French Hotchkiss 13.2mm quad atop the after superstructure, just forward of the 4-inch gun. False bow wave camouflage is painted on Le Triomphant’s hull side, forward, to confuse estimates of the ship’s speed. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. #: NH 55853

Moored off San Diego, California, circa 26 April 1941. Photographed from a USS Saratoga (CV-3) airplane from an altitude of 700 feet, using an F-48 camera with a 6 3/8-inch focal length. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 55854

At San Diego, California on 26 April 1941. She is wearing false bow wave camouflage and carries a British type 4-inch anti-aircraft gun in place of the 5.5-inch low angle gun originally mounted in X position. There is a French Hotchkiss 13.2mm quad anti-aircraft machine gun mount atop the after superstructure, just forward of that 4-inch gun. Note the small civilian sailboat passing down Le Triomphant’ starboard side. The original print came from the Office of Naval Intelligence. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. #: NH 86557

Part of her Pacific war saw her evacuate a group of civilians from and the tiny British garrison Nauru and Christmas Island to safety during the Japanese advance soon after Pearl Harbor. The islands were leased by the British Phosphate Commission and, on 23 February 1942, Triomphant, unescorted, managed to pick up 61 Westerners, 391 Chinese, and the 49 members of the British garrison at Nauru, sadly leaving 191 Chinese and 7 westerners behind to be captured by the Japanese. At Christmas Island on 28 February, she picked up an amazing 823 Chinese and 232 other BPC employees.

On patrol, 7 March 1943, with a bone in her mouth

Sydney 1942 swinging her compasses

Then, while on an escort run, she ran right into a cyclone that left her sinking, and was only narrowly kept afloat by her crew, which included a five man RAN commo det, and had to be towed to safety some 1,200 miles by the British destroyer HMS Frobisher, a feat C in C Eastern Fleet Admiral Sir James Somerville, KCB, KBE, DSO, told the ship’s company of the British tin can would be “good for a pint of beer for many years to come.”

A massive wave washes over the deck of the Free French Force destroyer, Le Triomphant, during a cyclone. 2 December 1943. Australian War Memorial

The crew of the Free French Force destroyer, Le Triomphant, race to apply a collision mat to the damaged ship’s hull during a cyclone on 2 December 1943. The collision mat, a large piece of canvas, is passed under the ship and is held in place by the pressure of the water trying to enter the breach

As noted by the Australians:

Le Triomphant left Fremantle, Australia, with five Royal Australian Navy crew, a Liaison Officer, Lieutenant Derek Percival Scales; Signalman Myall; 25903 Signalman William Cutt Rendall; PA1104 Telegraphist Ashmead Bartlett Croft and Coder Underwood, on 26 November 1943. She was on convoy duty with the American oil tanker Cedar Mills and the Dutch cargo ship Java when the cyclone hit and received considerable damage. Without fuel, water and provisions and listing 45 degrees, she was towed by the Cedar Mills to Diego Suarez, Madagascar, for repairs arriving on 19 December 1943. Repairs were completed on 8 February 1944 and she performed light duties in the area until 12 March 1944, when she departed for Port Said stopping briefly at Algiers, where she and her crew, including the five Australians, were reviewed by the leader of the French Free Force, General Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle and the Minister for the Navy, Louis Jacquinot.

The five Royal Australian Navy crew on the Free French Force ship Le Triomphant, a large destroyer of Le Fantasque class, are presented to de Gaulle.

The crew of the Free French Force ship Le Triomphant, a large destroyer of Le Fantasque class, are presented to the leader of the Free French Force, General Charles André Joseph Marie de Gaulle (saluting on right) while in port at Algiers. Saluting General de Gaulle is Lieutenant de Vaisseau Léon Méquin (later Commanding Officer of the Free French Force corvette Lobelia). General de Gaulle is attended by the Minister for the Navy, Louis Jacquinot and Commandant Pierre Gilly. The bugler is Poupon.

Inclination tests in Boston, via Navweaps

On 10 April 1944, Le Triomphant arrived in Boston, for an extensive refit where she remained until the end of the Second World War.

While in U.S. waters, the Navy put her through some paces though officially was neutral at that stage in the war, noting Le Triomphant “has since run some interesting trials on the Rockland course,” the measured mile-long speed trials course off Rockland, Maine– though do not disclose what speeds the fast Frenchman was able to achieve.

In October 1945, along with the semi-complete battleship Richelieu, Le Triomphant escorted troopships bound for French Indochina loaded with 20,000 fresh troops of the African 9ème D.I.C of the First French Army of General de Lattre de Tassigny, Leclerc’s own famous Groupement mobile de la 2ème DB (2nd Armored Div), and the Brigade Légère Marine d’Extrême-Orient marine commando unit, the latter which had trained alongside British commando and landed at Normandy.

General Jacques-Philippe Leclerc on board the French light cruiser (ex-destroyer) Le Triomphant in October 1945. General Leclerc commanded the French forces that re-occupied French Indo-China and Le Triomphant was one of the warships that escorted his troops. Photograph from the New York Times Paris Bureau collection in the U.S. National Archives. Catalog #: 306-NT-3277-V

On 6 March 1946, under Captain Jubelin, as Le Triomphant was approaching near Haiphong, she sustained 20mm fire from KMT Chinese occupation troops, killing 8 sailors and wounding 20 as part of a “misunderstanding.” Le Triomphant retaliated by firing her 138 mm guns, which ignited ammunition stores and resulted in the surrender of the 28,000-strong Chinese forces from the 53rd Army under Gen. Ma Ying. This was, ironically, the same day Jean Sainteny, French Commissioner for Northern Indochina met with Ho Chi Minh in Hanoi and signed the Ho–Sainteny agreement which would transfer Vietnam to Minh in five years and the departure of the nationalist Chinese forces.

After the battle of Dien Bien Phu in May 1954 and eventual withdrawal from Indochina resulting in a French Naval drawdown, Le Triomphant was decommissioned on 19 December 1954 and scrapped in Bizerte in 1960.

She is remembered by the Association Aux Marins and in scale models, while her name has since been reused for the lead ship of a quartet of strategic nuclear missile submarine, Triomphant (S616), commissioned in 1997.

Oh, and the island nation of Nauru remembers her as well.


Of her sisters, L’Audacieux was lost on 7 May 1943 at Bizerte due to Allied bombing, L’Indomptable was lost on 27 Nov 1942 when she was scuttled Toulon by her crew to avoid capture by the Germans, Le Malin joined the Allies when captured from the Vichy in 1943 and supported the Dragoon Landings before being scrapped in 1964, Le Terrible likewise joined the FNFL in 1943 and served until 1962, and class leader Le Fantasque had similar service lasting until 1957.

Specs:


Displacement: 2570 tons
Length:     132.40 m (434.4 ft.)
Beam:     11.98 m (39.3 ft.)
Draught:     4.30 m (14.1 ft.)
Propulsion:
4 Penhoët boilers
2 Parsons geared steam turbines
74,000 HP
2 propellers
Speed:
45 knots (83 km/h; 52 mph) (40 nominal)
37 knots after WWII refit due to weight increase
Range:
1,200 km (650 nmi; 750 mi) at 34 knots (63 km/h; 39 mph)
3,000 nm at 14kts.
Complement:     10 officers, 210 sailors
Armament:
(1931)
5 × 138 mm (5.4-inch) guns (2 forward, 3 aft)
4 × 37 mm AA guns
4 × 13 mm Hotchkiss machine guns
9 × 550 mm torpedo tubes in three triple mounts
40 mines
(1940)
4 × 138 mm (5.4-inch) guns (2 forward, 2 aft)
1 x 102/45 QF Mk V aft
2 x 1 – 40/39 QF Mk VIII 2-pounder pom-pom
4 × 37 mm AA guns
4 × 13 mm Hotchkiss machine guns
8 x  Vickers .50 cal guns
9 × 550 mm torpedo tubes in three triple mounts
(1944)
4 × 138 mm (5.4-inch) guns (2 forward, 2 aft)
8 × 40 mm Bofors AA guns
10 × 20 mm Oerlikon AA guns
6 × 550 mm torpedo tubes in two triple mounts

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!

To Davy Jones: Tamaroa’s final cruise

The 205-foot Medium Endurance Cutter TAMAROA, stationed at Governors Island, NY, stands ready for patrol duties. USCG painting by William Sturm.

One of the hardest serving ships in U.S. maritime history was Warship Wednesday alum, the Navajo-class fleet tug turned medium endurance cutter USCGC Tamaroa (WMEC/WATF/WAT-166) nee USS Zuni (AT/ATF-95).

She earned four battle stars for her service during World War II while dodging kamikazes, suicide boats and Japanese subs– picking up wounded cruisers left and right.

In Coast Guard service, the seagoing cop made more than a dozen large drug busts before she was immortalized in the book The Perfect Storm by Sebastian Junger (turned into a film of the same name) for rescuing three people from the sailboat Satori 75 miles off Nantucket Island in seas that built to 40 feet under 80-knot winds in 1991.

Decommissioned by the Coast Guard, 1 February 1994 after more than 50 years of service, she was the last Iwo Jima veteran to leave active duty and was probably the last ship afloat under a U.S. flag to carry a 3”/50!

Since then she has been a museum ship, resident of a floating junkyard, and a rats’ den, but yesterday was turned into a reef off the Delaware/New Jersey coast.

Where she will still serve, just for another purpose.

Warship Wednesday, May 10, 2017: ‘All Vessels: Make Smoke!’

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 one of the most interesting tasks of a bygone era was that of making smoke, on purpose.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, May 10, 2017: All Vessels: Make Smoke!

Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Albert K. Murray; 1944; Framed Dimensions 20H X 24W

“The signal from the Admiral’s flagship. The sharp blasts of his ship’s whistle have indicated the approach of enemy aircraft in force. Almost immediately plumes of whitish smoke arise from all ships of any size in the anchorage. Speedy small craft race among them with smoke pots pouring out a thick screen. Beach battalion men get their pots going and presently all the waterfront operations will be swathed in a dense opaque fog to confuse and disrupt impending bombing.”

One of the most popular tactics for early steam navy forces was the newfound ability to make instant smokescreens, either by ordering the stokers to burn cheap coal in designated boilers; constricting the air flow to the boilers and thus creating billows due to the choking flame; or by adding oil to the coal or funnel. This common tactic was a hit by the turn of the century, with Edwardian/Great White Fleet era ships– destroyers in particular– practicing it regularly.

USS CUSHING (DD-55) Laying a smoke screen, prior to World War I. Print in the collection of the late Admiral C. T. Hutchins, USN, owned by Mrs. H. C. Allan. Courtesy of Lieutenant H. C. Allan, USN, 17 Dec. 1940. Catalog #: NH 55539

Destroyer laying a smoke screen, circa 1914 Description: She is probably part of the Second Division, U.S. Atlantic Fleet Torpedo Flotilla. This photo is one of a series from the collection of a USS Walke (Destroyer # 34) crewmember, a three-stack destroyer which was a member of the Second Division. Courtesy of Jim Kazalis, 1981. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 99863

USS Woolsey (Destroyer # 77) Participates in laying a smoke screen, during Pacific Fleet battle practice in Hawaiian waters, circa mid-1919. Photographed by Tai Sing Loo, Honolulu. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1971. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 73608

By the end of the Great War, aircraft delivered smoke screens had been added to the lexicon as had purpose-made smoke generating devices.

This opaque white chemical smoke (titanium tetrachloride) was generally more effective than the sooty black boiler smoke of the Great War age, which tended to dissipate rather quickly. By the 1930s, the U.S. Navy used three different recipes for smoke: HC or hexachloroethane type smoke mixture, FS or sulfur trioxide in chlorosulfonic acid, FM or titanium tetrachloride, and WP or white phosphorus.

USS Lexington (CV-2) Steams through an aircraft-deployed smoke screen, 26 February 1929, shortly after that year’s Fleet Problem exercises. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C. Collection of Admiral William V. Pratt. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 75714

Smoke Screen is laid by three T4M-type torpedo bombers, circa the early 1930s. Description: Courtesy of Chief Photographer’s Mate John Lee Highfill (retired) Catalog #: NH 94852

Destroyer Squadron Twenty (DESRON-20) emerging from an aircraft smoke screen laid down by planes of VP-7, VP-9, and VP-11, during an exhibition for Movietone News, off San Diego on 14 September 1936.Courtesy of Commander Robert L. Ghormley Jr., Washington DC, 1969 Catalog #: NH 67294

USS MONAGHAN (DD-354) foreground, USS DALE (DD-353), and USS WORDEN (DD-352) in the background to the right emerging from a smoke screen laid down by planes of VP-7, VP-9, and VP-11 during an exhibition for Movietone News, off San Diego on 14 September 1936. Description: Courtesy of Commander Robert L. Ghormley Jr., Washington DC, 1969 Catalog #: NH 67272

 

EMANUELE FILIBERTO DUCA D’AOSTA (Italian light cruiser, 1934-circa 1957) Caption: Photographed before World War II. Naval intelligence analysts marked the smoke screen projector and stern anchor, common to Italian cruisers and destroyers at this time, on the original photograph. Description: Catalog #: NH 85918

KIROV (Soviet heavy cruiser, 1936- circa 1975) Caption: The original caption of this illustration from a Soviet publication reads-roughly-“creation of a smoke screen curtain,” and is attributed to the photographer N. Verinuchka. The ship’s port battery of 3.9-in./56-caliber antiaircraft guns can be seen in the center and the three elevated barrels of the 7.1-inch main battery beyond. Description: Catalog #: NH 95483

Aircraft used for smoke screens would be fitted with the Mark 6 Smoke Screen tank (50 gal.), weighing 593 lbs. when filled with 442 lbs. of FS, which was capable of ejecting smoke for 15 to 50 seconds. Chemical smoke from aircraft, 1920s:

WWII saw perhaps the most extensive use of smoke screens by naval forces, especially on daylight littoral operations such as amphibious assaults.

During WWII, besides funnel smoke and smoke generators, the Navy used both the Mark 1 and Mark II Smoke Float, devices which were 165 lbs. when filled with 90 lbs. of HC. They were 30.7″ high by 22.5″ in diameter and produced smoke for 18 – 21 minutes for the protection of convoys against submarines. There was also the Floating Smoke Pots M-4 and M4A1 (13″ high by 12″ in diameter and weigh 35 lbs. when filled with 26 lbs. of HC. They generate smoke for 10 – 15 minutes and are designed for amphibious operations) as well as smaller M-8 Smoke Grenades and 5″ smoke projectiles (using WP).

A US destroyer lays a heavy black boiler smoke screen off the coast of Licata during World War II:

PT boats were standardized with the standard Mark 6 generator which used a commercial ICC-3A480 full spun steel Mk 2 ammonia cylinder tank with a capacity of about 33 gallons, filled with FM or titanium tetrachloride. German S-boats ran a similar setup.

Mark 6 Smoke Screen Generator used by PT boats

Salerno Invasion, September 1943 U.S. Navy PT boat laying a smoke screen around USS ANCON (AGC-4) off Salerno, 12 September 1943. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-87326

Night air raid, Naples, Italy. German flares lighting Naples Harbor, seen from USS BROOKLYN (CL-40). A smoke screen covers the water in the distance, laid by allied ships and shore units. Note tracers from anti-aircraft gunfire. BROOKLYN’s turret #2 is silhouetted at left. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-220333 National Archives Original Sat, Mar 11, 1944

German battlecruiser Gneisenau laying funnel smoke around 1940. NH 82411

Although radar basically ended the usefulness of smoke screens in fleet vs. fleet operations, or in shielding a landing craft from a non-optically guided missile, fleets still practiced the maneuver well into the 1950s.


USS Caperton (DD-650) Lays a smoke screen during Atlantic Fleet maneuvers, 1956. The original print, dated 11 September 1956, carries the following caption: Most effective in World War II the smoke screen obscured the views of opponents gun and torpedo directors. Since radar is now widely used, the smoke screen has less use except in very close in engagements or in air attacks by small planes without radar. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 104045

And, of course, it still has usefulness today when it comes to kicking in a door by a maritime landing or raiding force and you are trying to shield incoming waves from the Mk 1/Mod 0 eyes of a machine gun nest or RPG operator.

Some things never go out of style as witnessed by these ROK Marine Amtracs firing smoke grenades on an amphibious landing exercise. As the Norks use a lot of optically-sighted weapons, this is likely a great idea to keep standard.

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, May 3, 2017: The battleship slaying avenger of the Pacific

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, May 3, 2017: The battleship slaying avenger of the Pacific

Here we see the Balao-class fleet submarine USS Sealion (SS/SSP/APSS/LPSS-315) later in the WWII flying her victory pennants, she was to earn them the hard way.

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 carrier-sinking USS Archerfish, the long-serving USS Catfish, the rocket mail firing USS Barbero, and the frogman Cadillac USS Perch, but don’t complain, they have lots of great stories.

Laid down on 25 February 1943 by the Electric Boat Co., Groton, Conn, Sealion was the second submarine to carry that name.

The first, SS-195, was also built by Electric Boat in 1939 and was part of SubDiv 202 at Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines when the war started. She took two direct hits in the Japanese air raid which demolished the navy yard and sank on 10 December. Four of her crew– Chief Electrician’s Mate Sterling Foster, Chief Electrician’s Mate Melvin O’Connell, Machinist’s Mate First Class Ernest Ogilvie, and Electrician’s Mate Third Class Vallentyne Paul—were killed in the attack. Her surviving crew scuttled what was left on Christmas day.

(SS-195) Ship’s wrecked hulk at the old Cavite Navy Yard, Philippines, in November 1945. Her conning tower, with periscopes, is at left, with her stern at right. Sealion had been scuttled at Cavite on 25 December 1941, after suffering fatal damage during a Japanese air attack there on 10 December. Photographed by B. Eneberg, who was then navigator of a Royal Australian Air Force PBY-5 aircraft. Courtesy of B. Eneberg, 1977. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 85725

Our new Sealion was launched by none other than Mrs. Emory S. Land, then commissioned on 8 March 1944, Lt. Comdr. Eli T. Reich in command (former executive officer and engineer of SS-195), and sailed for the Pacific to join SubDiv 222, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 17 May.

Then she got cracking.

On 23 June, on her first war patrol, she sank the Japanese naval transport, Snasei Maru, in the Tsushima Island area. Two weeks later, Sealion intercepted a convoy south of the Four Sisters Islands and commenced firing torpedoes at two cargomen in the formation. Within minutes, the 1,922-ton Setsuzan Maru sank, and the convoy scattered. On July 11, she conducted several attacks, sinking two freighters, Tsukushi Maru No. 2 and Taian Maru No. 2.

Her second patrol saw her scratch the Shirataka, a minelayer, and conduct a wolf pack attack along with the submarines Pampanito and Growler, which accounted for the tanker Zuiho Maru and transports Kachidoki Maru and Rakuyo Maru, the latter afterward found to be carrying British and Australian POWs. She swung to and picked up 54 of the oil-coated allies, landing 50 who survived at Saipan five days later. Tragically, of the 1300 Allied POW’s on board, only some 160 were rescued by the U.S. submarines.

British and Australian prisoners of war rescued by SEALION on 15 September 1944. The prisoners had been aboard transports en route from Singapore to Japan when their ships were sunk in an attack by U.S. submarines SEALION, GROWLER (SS-215), and PAMPANITO (SS-383). The position of the sinking was 18-42 N; 114-30 E. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-281718

On her third patrol, Sealion stumbled across three surface contacts that turned out to be the 37,500-ton battleship Kongo, 2035-ton destroyer Urakaze, and another escort.

Built at Barrow-in-Furness in Britain by Vickers Shipbuilding Company, the Kongō was the last Japanese capital ship constructed outside Japan– she was also the only Japanese battleship sunk by submarine in the WWII and the last battleship sunk by submarine in history. Colorized photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/

LCDR Reich’s original patrol report:

21 NOVEMBER 1944

0020: Radar contact at 44,000 yards, on our starboard quarter, (Ship contact #3) three pips, very clear and distinct. Came to normal approach, went ahead flank on four engines, and commenced tracking. Overcast sky, no soon, visibility about 1500 yards, calm sea.

0043: Two large pips and two smaller pips now outlined on radar screen at a range of 35,000 yards. These are the greatest ranges we have ever obtained on our radar. Pips so large, at so great a range, we first suspected land. It was possible to lobe switch on the larger targets at 32,000 yards – we now realized we probably had two targets of battleship proportions and two of larger cruiser size as our targets. They were in a column with a cruiser ahead followed by two battleships, and a cruiser astern, course 060 T, speed 16 knots. not zigging.

0146: Three escorts now visible on the radar, at a range of 20,000 yards. One on. either beam on the formation, and one on the starboard far quarter. We are pining bearing slowly but surely. The formation is now on our starboard beam. Seas and wind increasing.

0245: Ahead of task force. Turned in and slowed for attack, keeping our bow pointed at the now destroyer who is now 1800 yards on the port bow of our target. the second ship in column. Able to make out shape of near destroyer from bridge. Kept swinging left with our bow directly on the destroyer, and at

0256: Fired six torpedoes, depth set at 8 feet, at the second ship in column, range 3000 yards, believed to be a battleship. Came right with full rudder to bring the stern tubes to bear.

0259-30: Stopped and fired three torpedoes, depth set at 8 feet, from the stern tubes at the third ship in column (i.e. the second battleship). Range 3100 yards. Range to near destroyer at the time of firing stern tubes about 1800 yards. While firing stern tubes, O.O.D. reported he could make out outline of the near cruiser on our port quarter. During the firing of the bow tubes the bridge quartermaster reported he could make out outline of a very high superstructure on target, he said it looked to him like the pagoda build of the Jap battleships.

0300: Saw and heard three hits on the first battleship – several small mushrooms of explosions noted in the darkness.

0304: Saw and heard at least one hit on the second battleship – this gave a large violent explosion with a sudden rise of flames at the target, but it quickly subsided.

0304-07: Went ahead flank, opening to westward from target group. Noted several small explosions, flames, and probably lights in vicinity of target group.

0308: Heard a long series of heavy depth charge explosions from vicinity of enemy force – we are about 5000 yards from group. P.P.I. shows one escort opening and rapidly to east of target group. Continued tracking.

0330: Chagrined at this point to find subsequent tracking enemy group still making 16 knots, still on course 060T. I feel that in setting depth at 8 feet, in order to hit a destroyer if overlapping our main target. I’ve made a bust – looks like we only dented the armor belt on the battleships.

0406: Tracking indicates the target group now zigzagging. We are holding true bearing, maybe gaining a little. Called for maximum speed from engineers – they gave us 25% overload for about thirty minutes, then commenced growling about sparking commutators, hot motors, et al , forced to slow to flank. Sea and wind increasing all the time – now about force 5 or 6 – taking solid water over bridge, with plenty coming down the conning tower hatch. SEALION making about 16.8 to 17 knots with safety tank dry and using low pressure blower often to keep ballast tanks dry. Engine rooms taking much water through main induction.

0430: Sent SEALION Serial Number TWO. [?]

0450: Noted enemy formation breaking up into two groups – one group dropping astern. Now P.P.I. showed:(a) one group up ahead to consist of three large ships in column – cruiser. battleship, cruiser with a destroyer just being lost to radar view up ahead. Range to this group about 17000 yards. (b) Second group dropping astern of first to consist of a battleship, with two destroyers on far side. Close aboard – range to this group about 15000 yards and closing.

0451: Shifted target designation, decided to attack second group, which contains 1 battleship, hit with three torpedoes on our first attack. Tracking shows target to have slowed to 11 knots. Things beginning to took rosy again.

0512: In position ahead of target, slowed and turned in for attack.

0518: Solutions on T.D.C. and plot is getting sour – target must be changing speed.

0520: Plot and T.D.C. report target must be stopped, radar says target pip seems to be getting a little smaller. Range to target now about 17000 yards.

0524: Tremendous explosion dead ahead – sky brilliantly illuminated, it looked like a sunset at midnight, radar reports battleship pip getting smaller – that it has disappeared -leaving only two smaller pips of the destroyers. Destroyers seem to be milling around vicinity of target. Battleship sunk – the sun set.

0525: Total darkness again.

The crew, left with sound recording equipment by a visiting CBS film crew, archived the audio of the attack, the only occasion in which a live attack on an enemy ship was recorded. They were preserved by the Navy’s Underwater Sound Laboratory and can be heard at the following website.

Four of the torpedoes fired carried the names of the fallen Sealion (SS-195) crew, lost in 1941.

Sealion holds the distinction of being the only Allied submarine to sink a battleship during World War II and LCDR Reich received the Navy Cross.

Lt.Cdr. Charles Frederick Putnam took over Sealion for her 4th patrol, which netted the 15,820-ton Japanese supply ship Mamiya about 450 nautical miles north-east of Cam Ranh Bay, French Indo-China after a two-day running chase as well as her 5th patrol that added the Thai oiler Samui (1458 GRT) to her tally in March 1945. Her 6th patrol was uneventful.

The successful submarine was decommissioned 2 February 1946 and laid up in the Pacific Reserve Fleet. In all, Sealion earned the Presidential Unit Citation and received five battle stars for her World War II service.

She was then later converted to a Submarine Transport, at Hunters Point Naval Shipyard, San Francisco, California and recommissioned 2 November 1948. Her torpedo tubes and forward engines were removed and her forward engine room and after forward and after torpedo rooms were converted to hold up to 123 troops.

Her insignia changed during this time to reflect her new role.

Sealion continued a schedule of exercises with Marines, Underwater Demolition Teams (and later SEALs) and Beachjumper units; and, on occasion, Army units, landing helicopters on her deck and launching small boats and LVTs from her “hangar”

Sealion (SSP-315) after her conversion to a submarine transport. The “notch” in her deck near the large stowage chamber abaft the conning tower is fitted with rollers to aid in retrieving rubber landing boats.

U.S. Marines land on the deck of the SEA LION by helicopter during a practice reconnaissance mission, 4 May 1956. The helicopters are from HMR-26 and HMR-262, shuttling 55 Marines of 2nd Marine Amphibious Reconnaissance Company in an exercise. Note the M14s and “duck hunter” camo. Description: Catalog #: K-20159

A Marine helicopter aboard the SEA LION during a practice reconnaissance mission off Little Creek, Virginia, 4 May 1956. Note her earlier LVT hangar is removed. Description: Catalog #: K-20154

Submerged Sealion (SS-315) during exercises with Marine scouts of the 2nd Marine Division circa May 1956. Note the HRS/H-19 helicopter resting on the after deck; 5-inch/25 and 40mm guns are still carried. Shortly after this photo was taken the boat was reclassified APSS-315. USN photo and text from The American Submarine by Norman Polmar, courtesy of Robert Hurst, via Navsource.

Her peacetime training schedule included breaks for a Med deployment and support of the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1961.

On 3 December 1962 Sealion (APSS-315) returned to Norfolk and from then into 1967 she maintained her schedule of exercises with Marine Reconnaissance, UDT, and SEAL personnel. She is pictured here in October 1964– note she still has her WWII deck guns, one of the last subs in the fleet to do so. USN photo # NPC 1106522 courtesy of usssubvetsofwwii.org via Navsource.

Between 1949-1969 her designation switched from SSP to Transport Submarine (ASSP-315) to Amphibious Transport Submarine, (LPSS-315) though her role remained the same.

Decommissioned 20 February 1970, she was laid up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Stricken 15 March 1977, she was sunk as a target off Newport, Rhode Island 8 July 1978.

The flag from her 3rd War Patrol is maintained in the collection of the U.S. Undersea Warfare Museum.

“The upper left quadrant contains the submarine’s insignia, a black sea lion riding a red torpedo. The upper right and lower left quadrants depict Japanese merchant ships sunk — six tankers and five freighters, respectively. The submarine’s most significant actions are represented in the lower right quadrant: the large battleship above the broken rising sun flag is Kongo, the smaller battleship with the intact rising sun flag is damaged battleship Haruna, and the number 50 atop the red cross refers to the 50 prisoners of war that Sealion rescued from torpedoed Japanese transport Rakuyo Maru. The crew of Sealion created this battle flag and presented it to Sealion skipper Lieutenant Eli Reich.”

Reich, a retired Vice Admiral, died at age 86 in 1999.

From the Washington Post:

Retiring from the Navy in 1973 after 38 years of service, Adm. Reich was named director of the Emergency Energy Allocations Program, which was responsible for the distribution of scarce oil and gasoline during the Arab oil embargo. Described as a “crusty three-star admiral” by syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak, Adm. Reich was reported by the columnists to have told staff members: “I don’t give a damn for the public image. We’re not here to create an image. We’re to do a job–my way. And that’s the military way.”

There has never been another Sealion on the Navy List other than the two war babies mentioned above. Their memory is maintained by the USS Sealion veterans group.

Although Sealion is no longer afloat, eight Balao-class submarines are preserved 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 (for now).
USS Ling (SS-297) at New Jersey Naval Museum in Hackensack, New Jersey (for now).
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.

As for SS-195, she is considered on eternal patrol.

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 (halved after 1949)
Cruising Range, 11,000 miles surfaced at 10kts; Submerged Endurance, 48 hours at 2kts
Operating Depth Limit, 400 ft
Complement 6 Officers 60 Enlisted
Armament, (as built) ten 21″ torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes, one 5″/25 caliber deck gun, one 40mm gun, two .50 cal. machine guns
(troop conversion)
Berthing for 123 Marines/Soldiers
One 5″/25 caliber deck gun, one 40mm gun, two .50 cal. machine guns
Patrol Endurance 75 days
Propulsion: diesel-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. (Halved after 1949)
Fuel Capacity: 94,400 gal.
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!

‘A Sailor’s Prayer’

Donation of the Montana Historical Society. Collection of Philip Barbour, Jr., 1958. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 86250 click to big up 1000×787

“A Sailor’s Prayer: A hammock-bound Sailor’s reflections on Navy lower deck life, with second thoughts as re-enlistment time nears.”

Taken in a 5″/51 cal gun casemate on board USS Nevada (BB-36) by A.E. Wells, the ship’s photographer, during the early 1920s. Note ready-service shells on the casemate bulkhead, gun at left, shoes tied to hammock lashings and tattoo on the man’s left leg.

Warship Wednesday April 26, 2017: Always a bridesmaid

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, April 26, 2017: Always a bridesmaid

Here we see the fourth ship of the Colossus-class of British Royal Navy carriers, HMS Venerable (R63), in her final career as the Argentine carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo (V-2). As you can tell from this statement, she would go on to change flags a few times and later serve as a very real threat to her original owners.

Venerable was one of 16 planned 1942 Design Light Fleet Carriers for the RN. This series, broken up into Colossus and Majestic-class sub-variants, were nifty 19,500-ton, 695-foot long carriers that the U.S. Navy would have classified at the time as a CVL or light carrier. They were slower than the fast fleet carriers at just 25-knots with all four 3-drum Admiralty boilers were lit and glowing red, but they had long legs (over 14,000 miles at cruising speed) which allowed them to cross the Atlantic escorting convoys, travel to the Pacific to retake lost colonies, or remain on station in the South Atlantic (Falklands anyone?) or the Indian Ocean for weeks.

Capable of carrying up to 52 piston engine aircraft of the time, these carriers had enough punch to make it count.

The thing is, only seven of these carriers were completed before the end of World War II and even those came in during the last months and weeks. They effectively saw no service. Laid down beginning in 1942, most of the ships were launched but when the war ended, construction was canceled.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

THE LAUNCHING OF HMS VENERABLE. 30 DECEMBER 1943, CAMMEL LAIRD’S YARD, BIRKENHEAD. THE LAUNCH OF THE 8,OOO TON AIRCRAFT CARRIER BY MRS HERBERT MORRISON. (A 21186) Men who helped build her watching the VENERABLE glide down the slipway. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205153550

The hero of our tale, the fourth HMS Venerable in the RN since 1784 and the last hull to bear the name in that fleet, was laid down at Cammell Laird in Birkenhead on 3 December 1942 and launched just over a year later. Commissioned 17 January 1945, she was made flagship of the RN’s 11th Aircraft Carrier Squadron, Rear Admiral Cecil Harcourt, CB, CBE, commanding.

THE ROYAL NAVY DURING THE SECOND WORLD WAR (A 27086) HMS VENERABLE steaming at moderate speed during her acceptance trials. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205119935

HMS VENERABLE (FL 14300) Underway, at sea. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205017364

Destined for service in the Far East where the war was expected to linger through 1946 or 1947, she was outfitted with an airwing of F4U Corsair fighters and Fairley Barracuda torpedo bombers of 814 and 1851 Squadrons and set off to join TF 37 of the US 3rd Fleet by way of the Med, which by early 1945 was quiet.

ON BOARD HMS VENERABLE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. APRIL 1945, ON BOARD THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER HMS VENERABLE, FLAGSHIP OF THE 11TH AIRCRAFT CARRIER SQUADRON, IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. (A 28673) Fire and rescue party, with mobile foam extinguisher, double to the rescue when a Chance-Vought Corsair, though its hook had caught the first wire, nearly spills over the side. In the background is the attendant destroyer the Italian ORIANI steaming alongside ready to pick up crashed air crews. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205160011

ON BOARD HMS VENERABLE IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. APRIL 1945, ON BOARD THE AIRCRAFT CARRIER HMS VENERABLE, FLAGSHIP OF THE 11TH AIRCRAFT CARRIER SQUADRON, IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. (A 28674) From the island in the background the Commanding Officer, Captain W A Dallmeyer, DSO, RN, and Commander Flying, Commander (F) J Borrett, RN, direct the take-off of a Hellcat 6-gun naval fighter. Above is the flag deck and below the starboard wing can be seen some of the aircraft handling party and aft the fire and crash party. As she carried Barracuda and Corsairs at the time, this could be a cross-decked Hellcat. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205160012

WITH THE LIGHT FLEET CARRIER HMS VENGEANCE. MARCH AND APRIL 1945, IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. ACTIVITIES OF AIRMEN AND SISTER SHIPS IN THE MEDITERRANEAN. (A 28908) A sister carrier HMS VENERABLE off the coast of Tunisia on passage from Gibraltar to Malta. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205160216

She arrived just in time to join with the carrier HMS Indomitable and the battleship HMS Anson to re-occupy Hong Kong in August 1945, followed by the re-occupation of Kowloon the next month. As far as I can tell, Venerable did not engage either German or Japanese forces in live combat during WWII.

October found her in Haiphong, French Indochina, picking up liberated Indian and Commonwealth prisoners of war to be repatriated home. November and December found her supporting Dutch efforts to reoccupy the Dutch East Indies before spending Christmas of 1945 in Freemantle, Australia. The next year saw her continuing her trooping efforts, shuttling refugees, displaced persons, and soon-to-be-mustered out servicemembers from Singapore to Hong Kong and other parts of the Far East, and bringing in fresh troops for garrison duty.

By February 14, 1947, after fleet exercises with the British Pacific Fleet, she set sail for Plymouth where she was laid up in May, having served just 29 months on active duty, mostly as a taxi service.

The British, flush with flattops, broke and at peace, began a clearance sale over the next several years. In the end, class leader Colossus was sold to France as Arromanches. The Australians picked up Vengeance, Majestic and Terrible; the Canadians got Warrior (more on her later), Powerful and Magnificent; and India picked up Hercules.

On 1 April 1948, our still relatively new carrier, Venerable, was sold to the Royal Netherlands Navy, who commissioned her 28 May as HNLMS Karel Doorman (R-81), named after the famed Dutch admiral lost with his flagship light cruiser De Ruyter in WWII. She was the second, and last aircraft carrier of the Royal Netherlands Navy (their previous carrier, also after Doorman, was the former British escort carrier HMS Nairana.)

Dutch propaganda poster, depicting Admiral Karel Doorman and his flagship light cruiser De Ruyter

With the country fighting separatists in the Dutch East Indies and facing the always-curious Venezuelans in the Dutch West Indies, she was quickly given a topicalization that included boiler modifications and partial air conditioning and deployed along with the cruiser Jacob van Heemskerck and frigate Johan Maurits van Nassau to the Carribbean.

HNLMS Karel Doorman with former USN TBM-3E Avengers on deck

She carried a mix of 24 Fireflies and Sea Furies as her initial air wing. For rescue duties, a yellow Sea Otter was included, later replaced by an S-51 helicopter, called Jezebel. On the cruise was Prince Bernhard, who had a long history of military service and had racked up several thousand hours in combat aircraft.

(Bernard flying off the carrier later in life, in an S-2 Stoof in 1967)

From 1955-58, Venerable saw extensive modernization at Wilton-Feijenoord Shipyard in Holland. During this time, she was fitted with a new steam catapult, an 8-degree angled deck, mirror landing sight, new island, massive mast, and funnel, as well as ultra-modern radar equipment, air search, height search, target acquisition, navigation and carrier controlled approach radar systems. The latter produced by the electronic company Holland Signaal.

Her dated AAA guns were replaced by 10 Bofors 40mm/L70s. Her new air wing consisted of 14 anti-submarine Avengers, 10 Hawker Sea Hawks, and 2 S-55 helicopters and she acted as the flagship of Smaldeel V (Task Force 5) operating in the North Sea as part of NATO.

Hawker Sea Hawks and Avengers on Karl Doorman

With Indonesia rattling the sabers over West Papua New Guinea, the Dutch carrier embarked a dozen Hawker Hunters besides her airwing and went to the Far East again in 1960 until that crisis was settled through negotiations. The Indonesians had planned to sink her with a six-aircraft sortie of Tu-16KS-1 Badger bombers using a dozen AS-1 Kennel anti-ship missiles, which her Bofors likely would have been unable to counter. Again, the carrier avoided combat by the luck of the draw.

Colossus-class aircraft carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman (R81)

Marine Luchtvaart Dienst, ‘Kon Marine’, VSQ-4 ‘D’ CS2F-1’s S-2A’s aboard HNMLS Karel Doorman R81. Note her distinctive green deck

The crisis abated, she returned to the Atlantic and made another trip to the New World in 1962, her air wing modified for ASW-only missions with 8 Grumman S2F Trackers and 6 S-58 (H-34) helicopters along with a company of Dutch Marines.

Dutch Aircraft carrier HNLMS Karel Doorman in 1962; All Hands and remembrance ceremony in the Dardanelles; Royal Marine Corps Band marching towards bow

This is the English version of a film about the Dutch aircraft carrier Hr.Ms. Karel Doorman (R81). It shows everyday life onboard the aircraft carrier during the journey it made in 1962 to Suriname and the Dutch Antilles. The destroyers Hr.Ms. Groningen (D813) and Hr.Ms. Limburg (D814) joined her during this voyage:

In early 1968, the 23-year old carrier suffered a boiler room fire that extensively gutted her engineering spaces. The Dutch, defense budgets always slim, moved to replace her with land-based ASW aircraft and helicopters borne by surface combatants. She was stricken 29 April 1968, deemed not worth the repair.

Remember HMCS Warrior mentioned above? The Colossus-class carrier loaned to the Canadians? Well, the Canucks didn’t need so many carriers so they gave her back to the Brits who decommissioned the unmodified flattop in February 1958. Argentina, feeling outclassed by the purchase in 1956 by neighboring Brazil of the Colossus-class carrier Vengeance after the Australians were done with her– the first Latin American country to have a carrier– moved to pick up the Warrior from the UK which the commissioned as ARA Independencia (V-1) in July 1959.

ARA Independencia (V-1). She flew F4U-5s in 2′ Escuadrilla de Ataque. Colorized by Postales Navales

Independencia flew a wing of former USN F4U Corsairs, SNJ-5Cs Texans, and Grumman S2F-1Trackers but, with the Argentines looking to swap their aging Corsairs and Texans for jet-powered F9F Panthers, they needed an angled flight deck. This led them to purchase Venerable/Karel Doorman in crippled condition on 15 October 1968 and refurbish her as a cheaper option than giving Independencia the needed topside improvements to run jets.

Following a six-month repair at Rotterdam that saw her disabled boilers replaced by new ones transplanted from her incomplete sister ship HMS Leviathan, Venerable/Karel Doorman was commissioned into the Argentine Navy as ARA Veinticinco de Mayo (25 May– Argentina’s national day) (V-2) on 12 March 1969. For two years, on paper at least, Argentina had two carriers, though Independencia was soon withdrawn and by 1971 scrapped.

For the next 21-years, the Brazilian carrier Minas Gerais and the Argentine Veinticinco de Mayo— built as sister ships– were the yin and yang of Latina American carrier operations.

In 1971, Argentina bought 16 USN A-4B Skyhawks plus two for spare parts, then modified them with five weapon pylons and the ability to carry AIM-9B Sidewinders, creating A-4Q fighter bombers. These replaced the 1950s era F9F Panthers. Sea King ASW/SAR helicopters were added to the wing. Though it should be noted that in 1969 the Brits tested an early Harrier GR.1 on board her, which the Argentines declined to buy.

Argentina carrier 25 de Mayo along with the Gearing class destroyers Miguel Angel Gutierrez Barquin Al frente la 2da división de destructores (Espora, Brown y Rosales).

Note the Skyhawks. Colorized by Postales Navales.

With the Argentina military junta in charge in the late 1970s, the U.S. cut support to the country because of the fratricidal Dirty War, which made Veinticinco de Mayo‘s air wing increasingly hard to fly. The Argentines looked elsewhere and in 1978 negotiated a contract to buy 14 Dassault-Breguet Super Étendards and a quantity of air-launched Exocet anti-ship missiles from France. This came in conjunction with the surface-to-surface Exocet sales and France throwing in two corvettes, originally built for the apartheid Regime in South Africa. The corvettes, Good Hope and Transvaal, could not be delivered because of anti-apartheid embargoes. In Argentina, they were renamed ARA Drummond and ARA Guerrico.

The Argentine Navy, with their carrier in the forefront, moved to invade the Chilean islands of Picton, Nueva, and Lennox in the Beagle Channel in a territorial dispute in 1978, however, the junta reversed themselves before the conflict turned hot. Once more, our flattop did not fire a shot in anger.

Then came the Malvinas.

With just four Super Étendards (with five Exocets) and 10 A-4Qs operational in the Argentine Navy, the carrier made ready to sortie for that country’s push to retake the Falkland Islands from Great Britain in yet another dangerous territorial dispute. In April 1982, 35 years ago this month, she put to sea as the flagship of Carrier Task Force (CTF 79.1) tasked by the Naval High Command to support the invasion, codenamed Operation Azul.

Carrier ARA 25 de mayo (V-2) S2-Trackers, A4-Q Skyhawks, Aerospatiale Alouette. Note the camouflaged S-2. It should be noted the Etendards were not carrier certified until after the Falklands war.

Once the Brits mustered a task force to take the islands back,  25 de Mayo was ordered to sea to attack the arriving English carrier battle group, made up of the HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. With the two British carriers bristling with over 25 radar-equipped Sea Harriers armed with later model AIM-9L Sidewinders and surrounded by dozens of Sea Dart and Sea Wolf equipped escorts, the likelihood that the Argentine A-4s could have prosecuted a successful attack on the fleet was slim. Nonetheless, a strike was prepared and, with her S-2’s picking up the British fleet over the horizon, was only scrubbed at the last minute due to poor weather conditions. It would have been the first time since 1944 that a carrier v. carrier fleet action occured.

ARA Veinticinco de Mayo makes A-4 Skyhawk jets ready during the 1982 Falklands War note Invincible marked bomb

The image summarizes the deployment of Ar+Br naval forces around the Falklands Islands before the sinking of the ARA Belgrano during the Falklands War according to Ruben O. Moro with a hint that Middlebrook set the Argentine forces no more than 60-90 nautical miles from TEZ in opposite to Moro who set it further. Via Wiki

Further, once a British submarine sank the WWII light cruiser ARA General Belgrano (former USS Phoenix) with heavy loss of life on May 3, the Argentine Navy lacked the appetite to further risk their carrier. While her Skyhawks and Étendards made gallant and even successful strikes on British escorts and auxiliaries while flying from land at  Rio Grande over the next six weeks, Veinticinco de Mayo returned to port and remained there for the rest of the war, again not bathed in the blood of her enemies.

With the junta swept away after the Falklands War and military funding withering, the Argentines could put all their working French strike planes online but their carrier was increasingly restricted to port with bad engineering casualties. With her Skyhawks lost in 1982, her last air wing in her twilight years was 12 Etendards, six Grumman Tracker ASW aircraft, four SH-3D Sea King ASW and one utility helicopter.

Argentine carrier ARA Veinticinco de Mayo 25, A-4 forward, Etendards aft

Inoperable by 1990, the Brazilians were allowed to plunder her for parts to keep their own carrier at sea in exchange for granting Argentine carrier pilots a chance to tail hook on their neighbor’s ship to keep their qualifications up to date.

By 1997, Veinticinco de Mayo was officially decommissioned and towed to India in 2000 for scrapping. As for the Brazilians, they replaced her sister with the larger and slightly more modern French aircraft carrier Foch the same year.

All the Colossus/Majestic class carriers are now gone, with the Indian INS Vikrant/HMS Hercules, saved briefly as a museum ship, scrapped in 2014 ending the era of these well traveled light carriers.

Oddly enough, the British Imperial War Museum has some Argentine relics of the Veinticinco de Mayo, an UZI submachine gun and FN FAL rifle captured in the Falklands that are Dutch-marked and believed to have transferred with the carrier to the “Argies” then subsequently used with that country’s Marines ashore in the Falklands.

Specs:

CV R81 Karel Doorman via shipbucket. Click to big up

Displacement

15,890 tons standard
17,500 tons normal
19,890 tons full load
Length:
630 ft. (190 m) between perpendiculars
695 ft. (212 m) overall
Beam:     80 ft. (24 m)
Draught:     24.5 ft. (7.5 m)
Speed:     25 knots (46 km/h; 29 mph) at 120 revolutions
Range:
12,000 nautical miles (22,000 km; 14,000 mi) at 14 knots (26 km/h; 16 mph)
6,200 nautical miles (11,500 km; 7,100 mi) at 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph)
Complement: 1,000 + 300 air group
Sensors and processing systems: (1982)
Air search: Lockheed SPS-40B; E/F band
Surface search: Plessey AWS 4; E/F band
Navigation: Signaal ZW06; I band
Fire control: 2 × SPG-34; I/J band
CCA: Scanter Mil-Par; I band
Aircraft
52 piston (as built)
20~ jets by 1958
Armament:
(As designed, 1942)
6 × 4-barrelled 2 pounder anti-aircraft guns
16 × twin 20 mm Oerlikon mountings
(1958)
10 × Bofors 40 mm anti-aircraft guns (2 quads, 1 twin)
2 × 47 mm saluting guns

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