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Warship Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018: The Saint and the Terror

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, Feb. 21, 2018: The Saint and the Terror

Catalog #: NH 59924

Here we see the U.S. Mail Steamer Saint Paul of the American Line in her guise as the auxiliary cruiser USS Saint Paul, photographed at the end of the Spanish-American War. The 11,612-ton ocean liner was the fastest thing on the Atlantic merchant trade when put in service, was the first to carry a wireless (and she needed it!) and served in two real-live shooting wars, with mixed results.

Saint Paul, a twin-screw steel passenger liner of the newest sort, along with her sister Saint Louis were ordered by the Philadelphia-based International Navigation Company (led by robber baron Clement Acton Griscom) for use by that firm and their subsidiary American Line and Red Star Line flags. As such, they were something of a keynote in U.S. merchant history. They had 17 watertight compartments (two decades before Titanic), could carry up to 1,540 passengers in a variety of styles (350 1st class, 290 2nd, 900 3rd), and were ultra-modern.

As explained by Kenneth J. Blume, they were the first large liners built in the U.S since 1857 (other large passenger liners were all European in origin) and were ordered to take advantage of subsidies set aside in the Merchant Marine Act of 1891. Further, he says “they were the last such large passenger liners built in the United States until the 1930s.”

Built at William Cramp & Sons Building & Engine Company, Philadelphia (yard # 277 and 278), these ships used quadruple expansion engines fed by double-ended boilers capable of speeding them forward at 20-knots (making International Navigation the first to offer such service across the Atlantic). Further, they had a more “modern” appearance than preceding liners, with two stacks and plumb bows. Built to last, they were completed by the same yard that was at the time working on the cruisers USS Minneapolis (C 13) and Brooklyn (ACR 3) as well as the battleship Iowa (BB 6)

Quadruple expansion engines of SS St. Louis (1894) in the workshop of William Cramp & Sons where they were built. Published in Howell’s Steam Vessels and Marine Engines. p. 11, 1896.

Steamliner SS Saint Paul of the International Navigation Co. 1895. Photo by Johnston, J. S. (John S.) postcard by Detroit Publishing Co.in the collection of the LOC. https://www.loc.gov/item/det1994011748/PP/

Famously, our new ocean liner ran aground off the New Jersey coast in January 1896 and required an extensive $400,000 effort to free her. Meanwhile, the rescue of her passengers and crew was national news for several months.

“THE STRANDING OF THE AMERICAN LINER ST. PAUL ON THE NEW JERSEY COAST, NEAR LONG BRANCH”, published in “Harper’s Weekly” February 1896.

However, she was back in business and in April 1896 she crossed the Atlantic from New York to Southampton in just six days. Over the next two years, she would repeat her crossing 36 times along the same route, which is impressive by any standard.

Her peacetime passenger service came to a halt due to events in Cuba.

At 21:40 on 15 February 1898, the armored cruiser USS Maine suffered a terrible explosion in Havana Harbor while exercising tense gunboat diplomacy with Spain over Cuba, leading to the death of 266 Navy and Marine personnel.

Though the cause of the explosion would not be known anytime soon, the press whipped the event up to the point of conflict.

When war came, the Navy took up dozens of craft from trade including four large passenger liners for conversion to auxiliary cruisers from the American Line/International Navigation Co: the SS New York (which became USS Harvard), SS City of Paris (who became the matching USS Yale) as well as Saint Louis and Saint Paul, the latter pair of which served under their given names.

On 12 March 1898, Saint Paul was taken up for service by the Navy and, sailing to Newport for crew and conversion to an auxiliary cruiser, Capt. Charles Dwight Sigsbee (formerly commander of the stricken Maine) raised the national ensign and took down the American Line house colors. She commissioned on 20 April. The fast liner was given a coat of gray paint, armed with six 5″/40 Mark 4 guns, another six Hotchkiss 6-pounders, and six 3-pounders in a fit-out that lasted just 14 days. Could you imagine a similar thing today?

USS St. Paul (1898) View looking aft on her forecastle, following conversion to an auxiliary cruiser, 1898. Note 5-inch guns, capstans, winch and other deck gear as well as two Marines. The original photograph was taken by C.H. Graves and published on a stereograph card. Courtesy of Commander Donald J. Robinson, USN(MSC, 1979) U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph. Photo #: NH 89086

Ready for service by the first part of May, the new USS Saint Paul would see the elephant, and soon.

But first, let’s talk about a little Spanish Terror.

In the lead up to the conflict, in 1896 the Spanish Navy ordered a half-dozen Furor-class torpedo destroyers from the shipyards of J & G Thompson of Clydebank in Scotland. These nimble 229-foot 380-ton ships could make 28-knots (when their machinery worked) and carried two 350mm torpedo tubes as well as four Nordenfelt popguns.

A Spanish Terror Class Destroyer in British Waters in about 1897. An unidentified example of the ship class, photographed in about 1897-1898 in British waters and very likely in builders’ hands. Six sisters were built in 1896-1897 by Thompson on the Clyde: AUDAZ (1897-1927), OSADO (1897-1927), PROSERPINA (1897-1931), TERROR (1896-1927), FUROR (1896-1898), PLUTON (1896-1898). NH 88619

NH 111967 Spanish Torpedo Boat Destroyer TERROR

On 28 April 1898, the Spanish Navy’s 1st Squadron, of four cruisers (Infanta Maria Teresa, Vizcaya, Almirante Oquendo, and Cristóbal Colón) and three sister-ship destroyers (Pluton, Terror, and Furor) set out from the Cape Verde Islands for the Caribbean, bound for San Juan, Puerto Rico, then a Spanish colony. RADM Pascual Cervera y Topete’s mission was to rendezvous with other Spanish ships, engage the American squadron blockading Cuba, and ultimately to attack the United States.

Spain’s torpedo-boat flotilla en route from the Canaries to Puerto Rico. William Sontag. NYPL collection 1898. Terror shown in front

The loose Spanish ships sowed panic on the Eastern seaboard as every coastal town just knew they would wake up to Spanish bombardment at any time. However, Cervera’s fleet was in bad shape, with fouled bottoms, dangerously defective (or in some cases even uninstalled) guns, untrained crews, and poor engineering plants. Terror, carrying the flag of Capt. Fernando Villaamil Fernandez-Cueto (destroyer flotilla commander), and commanded by Lt. Francisco de la Bocha y Pérez, was nursing boiler problems.

Saint Paul sortied out from Philadelphia to look for Cervera on 5 May.

The Flying Squadron, under the command of Commodore Winfield S. Schley, joined the search for the Spanish fleet while the fleet four detailed ships, Saint Paul, her American Line companion auxiliary cruiser USS Yale, the similar USS Harvard, and USS Minneapolis, patrolled the waters off Santiago just in case Cervera made it to the Cuban hub.

In the meantime, the Spanish squadron popped up at the French colony of Martinique on 10 May 1898 and, with Terror‘s engines fully immobilized, the little destroyer that couldn’t was left behind while Cervera beat feet to Santiago, Cuba. Alone, the intrepid Lt. Bocha managed to cobble together Terror‘s condemned piping and nurse her solo to San Juan a week later.

Meanwhile, our hero liner-cruiser Saint Paul found the British steam collier Restormel, which was chartered to bring 2,400-tons of badly needed fresh Cardiff coal to Cervera and captured the same just outside of Santiago on 25 May after firing two blanks and one war shot from her 5-inch battery. She later arranged for the steamer to go to Key West as a prize. The British captain reportedly told his American captors he was glad the U.S. wound up with his valuable cargo since the Spaniards did not lift a finger to prevent his capture even though he was under the heavy guns of Castle Morro and a promised battleship escort into Santiago never materialized.

“I am glad you Yankees have the coal since those duffers inside didn’t have the nerve to come out and back me up with their guns when we were right within range,” he reportedly said as the prize crew of bluejackets and leathernecks from Saint Paul came aboard.

Saint Paul next appeared off Fort Caimanera near Guantánamo, where her 5-inch gunners helped plaster the Spanish shore batteries there from just 1,000 yards off the beach. By early June she was off San Juan along with USS Yosemite and the new cruiser USS New Orleans.

The trio effectively blockaded that Spanish Puerto Rican port, which held the aforementioned Terror as well as the ineffective 1,200-ton Velasco-class unprotected cruiser Isabel II (4×4.7-inch guns), and the two 500-ton 3rd class gunboats General Concha (3×4.7inch) and Ponce de Leon. On the morning of 22 June, while a German tramp steamer made for open ocean, the three Spanish warships made a move to test the harbor blockade and Saint Paul was there. A short and ineffective artillery duel resulted in the two larger Spaniards turning back while Terror made a David vs. Goliath torpedo run on our liner.

The auxiliary cruiser St. Paul repulsing the Spanish torpedo-boat destroyer Terror off San Juan de Puerto Rico, June 22, 1898, by Henry Reuterdahl, NYPL Collection

The run ended badly for the unsupported Terror, who never got closer than 5,400 yards to the big American before two 5-inch shells perforated her, one in the engine room. Listing, immobile and taking on water, the stricken torpedo destroyer had to be beached by towing as Saint Paul watched. For Terror, her war was over.

The damaged Spanish destroyer Terror at San Juan. She was allowed to return to Spain when the war ended.

Isabel II, General Concha, and Ponce de Leon again tried to force the American cordon on 28 June to make a hole for an incoming blockade runner, but after an ineffective artillery duel at long range from Saint Paul, the effort was called off. It was the last naval action at San Juan and the Spanish ships finished the war at anchor, eventually sailing home when peace was concluded.

For Saint Paul, she was recalled to New York in July and, reverting to her original design, brought first the 4th and later the 8th Ohio Volunteer regiments to the theater, carrying over 1,300 troops each trip.

This image shows the ST. PAUL embarking troops for Puerto Rico. Her superimposed gun sponson which she was outfitted with while operating as an auxiliary cruiser can be seen overhanging the side of the vessel. Via SpanAm War.com http://www.spanamwar.com/Stpaultroops.htm

It was some of the first major joint Army-Navy operations since the Civil War, and improvisation was key, with troops moving ashore via sugar lighters and cargo nets.

Troops transferring to sugar-lighters at sea. There was a heavy ground swell and the boat rose and fell alongside, making it a difficult task. NH 108558

Each sugar-lighter held one company of men. NH 108559

Her last trip from Puerto Rico, in August, was to bring soldiers home to New York. From there, she steamed to Cramp’s to be disarmed and refitted for merchant service, decommissioned and released by the War Department on 2 September. Her very active wartime life lasted less than five months.

Saint Paul was also notable as the first merchant ship fitted with a Marconi wireless, in 1899. On November 15 of that year Guglielmo Marconi issued The Transatlantic Times, the first newspaper ever published at sea, using information received by radio transmission from his wireless telegraph station on the Isle of Wight.

By November 1898, she was back on the Southampton run, which was her regular route, carrying passengers, mail, and coin. For example, on one 1902 run, she brought “670 passengers eastbound, 1.173 mailbags and $200.000 in gold” to England from New York. It was her bread and butter and in her career she completed more than 200 such crossings across two decades.

William M. Vander Weyde photo of ladies waving bon voyage as St. Paul leaves the pier, from the George Eastman Kodak Museum.

Photographed circa the 1890s or early 1900s. Description: Courtesy of the Saint Paul “Minnesota Dispatch,” 1963. Catalog #: NH 92841

SS St. Paul Bain News Service, 1915, via LOC

ST. PAUL sails, 8/7/14 (LOC)

Then it was back to peacetime liner operations for an uneventful (for us) 19 years other than a 1908 collision with the British Arrogant-class cruiser HMS Gladiator, killing 27 RN personnel and sending the smaller 5,700-ton manowar to the bottom off the Isle of Wright. A British high court held Gladiator responsible.

Then, war came once again.

Saint Paul was taken over by the War Department for use as the troop transport Knoxville on 27 October 1917, making 12 rushed crossings over the Atlantic carrying the boys “over there” to fight the Huns over the next five months. For such duty, the fast transport was given a Navy gun crew to man four newly-installed 6″ guns and painted in Thayer’s quarter-shading camo process. She was credited with carrying more than 30,000 GIs to France.

The Navy, in turn, arranged for the former auxiliary cruiser’s transfer in April 1918 to the sea service and, designated USS Saint Paul (SP 1643), was taken back into Navy service. While being further converted, on 28 April, she flooded and capsized in the North River in New York.

Lot-10821-4: USS Saint Paul (ID# 1643), salvage operations of the auxiliary cruiser during 1918. Shown: First stage of pumping and rolling operation. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. (2017/08/04).

Lot-10821-2: USS Saint Paul (ID# 1643), salvage operations of the auxiliary cruiser during 1918. Shown: As she lay on the bottom

Lot-10821-3: USS Saint Paul (ID# 1643), salvage operations of the auxiliary cruiser during 1918. Shown: 6-inch gun on the starboard side of the foredeck.

Salvage operations continued into 1919 and she was eventually returned to the American Lines in floating condition. Returning to service in the low-rent steerage trade, she was still too uneconomical to run at a profit and by 1923 was retired. She was towed across the Atlantic by Jacob van Heemskerk and broken up at the former naval dockyard at Wilhelmshaven in Weimar Germany, where labor at the time was dirt cheap.

As for her sister, Saint Louis, she also served in the Great War as the armed transport USS Louisville (there was another USS St. Louis in the fleet at the time), but was gutted in a fire in 1920 and scrapped in 1924. As it turned out, the proud “20-knot” liner never made it back to carry civilian passengers after their second war.

Their company likewise faltered. The American Line itself was defunct by 1932 as was the Red Star Line by 1935. The International Navigation Co. endured in a way, merging in 1931 with the Roosevelt Steamship Company under the United States Lines banner.

Curiously, Saint Paul‘s nemesis, the Spanish Terror, outlived her. Returning to Spain following the loss of Puerto Rico in 1899, she was repaired and served in the Spanish Navy in North Africa and European waters until she was retired in 1924.

Our liner is, of course, remembered in various period maritime art.

Specs:
Displacement: 11,612 in commercial service, 14,910 long tons (15,150 t) as aux cruiser
Dimensions 535’6” (bp) x 63′ x 27’5”
Machinery 2 screws, VQE, 6 D/E & 4 S/E boilers, IHP 20000,
Speed: 19.25 knots practical but made 22 knots after funnel caps removed in 1900
Coal: 2677 tons
Complement 281 crew + 1540 passengers as liner,
1898: 357 Navy, 50 Marines
Armament: (1898)
6 5”/40 Mark 4 rapid-fire guns (four fwd, two aft) in open mounts with 600 rounds
6 6 pdr. Hotchkiss with 1800 rounds
6 3 pdr. Nordenfeldt guns (two on promenade deck, four on wings) with 1800 rounds
Extensive small arms locker for Marine detachment
(1917-18)
6 6″/50 Mark 6 guns repurposed from old battleships and cruisers.

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.

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Emilie…

Description: Breech of a large Naval Gun. Photographed on board a battleship, circa 1913. The ship is probably USS Rhode Island (Battleship # 17), and the gun is presumably an 8/45 or 12/45. Note the name Emilie painted on it.

From the album of Francis Sargent; Courtesy of Commander John Condon, 1986. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 10108

Commissioned into the Atlantic Fleet in February 1906, Rhode Island was one of five Virginia-class pre-dreadnoughts built between the SpanAm War and WWI. She carried four 12″/40 (30.5 cm) Mark 4s in two twin turrets and eight 8″/45 (20.3 cm) Mark 6s in four twin turrets.

Made obsolete before she was commissioned by the arrival of the HMS Dreadnought, Rhode Island served in the Great White Fleet and in various sticky spots during the Wilson administration and was sold for scrap in 1923 under the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty, though her bell is on display at the Rhode Island State House. It doesn’t have the panache of Emile, however.

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018: Late 19th Century tech ‘Without Equal’

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, Feb. 14, 2018: Late 19th Century tech ‘Without Equal’

Here we see the Victoria-class ironclad turret-type battleship HMS Sans Pareil taking a break from reserve fleet layup– where she spent most of her short life– to participate in the fleet review held at Spithead on 16 August 1902 for the coronation of King Edward VII. She was the last ship in the Royal Navy to carry the moniker and, when designed in 1885, had several innovative features that made her invincible on the water, or so it seemed.

The two-ship Victoria class were built by the British to fix perceived shortcomings in the preceding six-pack of Admiral-class battleships (10,600 t., 330-feet oa, 4×12″ guns, 16kts on compound engines, up to 18 inches of armor belt) and produced a much more modern ship.

HMS Victoria by William Frederick Mitchell

The Victoria and Sans Pareil were only slightly larger (340-feet) but were the first RN capital ships to use 3-cyl Humphreys triple expansion steam engines powered by 8 cylindrical boilers which offset a thicker overall compound armor package (406mm at its *thinnest* backed by 178mm of wood planks) while still enabling speeds of 16+ knots. With coal bunkerage of 1,200 tons, they could steam an impressive 7,000nm at 10kts, making them capable of showing the Royal colors around the colonies as needed. Designed for 12,000 ihp, they produced over 14K and were considered very successful, able to make 17~ knots, when the sea allowed.

Instructional, picture model of battleship HMS ‘Sans Pareil’ (1887) by Royal Museums Greenwich. The model is inscribed ‘Triple expansion engines ‘H.M.S. Sans Pareil’ Twin screw 12000 I.H.P. By Humphrys Tennant & Co’, ‘Scale 1 1/4 inch – 1 foot’, ‘Low-pressure engine looking forward’, ‘H & T C Batchelor Constructors of Motion Drawings West Kensington London S.W.’ and ‘Intermediate engine looking forward’. To order a print of this go here http://prints.rmg.co.uk/art/516757/instructional-picture-model-of-battleship-hms-sans-pareil-1887#TddCOCoc6heYP1L3.99

Massive twin screws, as shown on sister Victoria

This speed and bulk was weaponized in an impressive pointed bow ram, seen as a valid tactic following the confusing Battle of Lissa in 1866.

Via Postales Navales

However, the biggest departure from the previous designs was in the Victoria‘s twin 16.25″/30 (41.2 cm) Mark I “Elswick 111 ton” guns, some of the largest diameter breechloading guns every mounted. They fired a 1,800-pound shell thrown by a 960-pound black powder SBC charge and were just massive guns, even if they were slow to load (three minutes per shell) and prone to such unsavory teething problems as buckling the deck around them when they fired. Oof.

Drawing of BL 16.25 in caliber 111-ton gun as fitted on HMS Victoria (1885-1893). Section through battery and turret showing 18-inch armor. Date circa 1885 Source ‘The Royal Navy: a history from the earliest times to the present’, volume VII by William Laird Clowes, published 1903 by S. Low, Marston, and company. London. available here https://archive.org/details/royalnavy07clow

Now you see why they took so long to reload…

Picture of British Ammunition at Whale Island ca. 1900 including 16.25″ (41.2 cm) to the far left, note the huge size of the shell and charges stacked next to it, followed by the comparable rounds. The second shell is a 13.5-incher and the third a 12, which look downright puny in comparison. Picture ID Number P01075.019. AWM

HMS Sans Pareil main guns mounted forward. A single 254mm was on the stern

Note the low freeboard…this will be on the test later.

If “Sans Pareil” sounds an unusual name for the RN, the Brits got it honest when they captured the brand-new 80-gun French Tonnant-class ship of the line, Sans Pareil (Without Equal), at the pitched 1794 battle of the Glorious First of June. Though she was mauled and half her crew killed, the Brits towed their trophy into Spithead, mopped the blood off, fixed her back up, and, without even a name change, she became the bane of French privateers and man-o-wars alike for a decade, used as the flagship of both Admirals Lord Hugh Seymour and Richard Montague.

Object no. PAF5578, Repro ID: PW5578’French ship ‘Sans Pareil’ 3rd rate, 80 guns, captured at First of June’watercolourby Dominic Series circa 1800. RMG

To commemorate the former French warship, which was broken up in 1842, a newbuilt screw-driven 81-gun second-rate was commissioned with the same name in 1851 and went on to fight the Russians in the Baltic during the Crimean affair and expand the Empire in China during the Opium Wars. Our very model of a modern major battleship Sans Pareil was the third such vessel to bear the name for the Crown. She was laid down at the Thames Iron Works, Blackwall, on 21 April 1885, ironically two days before class-leader Victoria, which was built at Armstrong in Elswick.

Launched on a sunny day in May 1887, Sans Pareil was floated out into the Thames to great fanfare.

The HMS ‘Sans Pareil’ being towed into the open water, watched by large crowds on smaller boats and on the banks of the Thames. Historic England Archive ref: CC93/00012

HMS ‘Sans Pareil’ on the morning of her launch, Thames Iron Works Royal Greenwich Museum

Sans Pareil was completed in July 1891 and taken into the fleet and was sent to the Med where tensions were on the rise to join her sister in a bit of gunboat diplomacy.

HMS Victoria port astern view. Colourised via Postales Navales

However, the ships, while benefitting from a forward-looking engineering suite, had a very low freeboard and were known as being very “wet” when underway, giving them the nickname of “slippers” as the whole bow tended to slip under the waves when moving forward. This, coupled with developments that made them increasingly obsolete, marginalized the two might new warships.

Then came a disaster.

The brand-new class leader Victoria, while serving as flagship of the Mediterranean Fleet, was lost during maneuvers off Tripoli because of a collision with battleship Camperdown.

HMS Victoria (1888) in a collision with the Admiral Class battleship, HMS Camperdown (1885) during close maneuvers on the 22nd June 1893 off the coast at Tripoli in Lebanon by Reginald Graham Gregory from the collection of Royal Museums Greenwich.

The low freeboard contributing to her sinking within 15 minutes, with half of her crew trapped below as she slipped below the waves a final time. In all, 359 men died that day in one of the worst peacetime accidents in British military history.

Final moments of battleship HMS Victoria, sunk by collision on June 22, 1893, while on maneuvers in the Mediterranean. Ship on the left is HMS Nile.

She is noted as being perhaps the world’s largest known vertical wreck

And that was pretty much that. Sans Pareil was moved back to home waters from the Med after serving with the fleet for only a couple of years and by April 1895 she was paid off.

After a decade of service in the reserve fleet and as a guardship in shallow water, she was quietly sold for scrap in 1907, and her name never issued again.

Specs:


Displacement: 10,470 tons
Length: 370 ft
Beam: 70 ft
Draught: 26 ft 9 in
Propulsion:
Humphreys & Tennant triple expansion engines 2 shafts
8,000 ihp natural draught
14,482 ihp forced draught
Coal: 1200t. 7,000nm @10
Speed:
16 knots (30 km/h) natural draught
17.75 knots (32.87 km/h) forced draught
Complement: 430-550 designed, over 700 in practice
Armament:
2 × BL 16.25-inch 413/30 Mk I guns, forward turret, 208 rounds in the magazine
1 × BL 10-inch 254/32 Mk II gun, rear
12 × BL 6-inch 152/26 BL Mk IV/VI guns
12 × 6-pounder Hotchkiss Mk I singles
6 × 14-inch torpedo tubes, bow, aft and abeam.
Armor:
Belt, Redoubt: 18 in
Bulkheads: 16 in
Turrets: 17 in
Forward screen to battery: 6 in (15 cm)
After screen to battery: 3 in (7.6 cm)
Conning Tower: 14 in (36 cm) (sides), 2 in (5.1 cm) (top)
Deck: 3 in (7.6 cm)

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, Feb.8, 2018: Roll Tide, Vol. 4ish

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, Feb.8, 2018: Roll Tide, Vol. 4ish

Colourised photo by Atsushi Yamashita/Monochrome Specter http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/ Note the distinctive twin side-by-side funnel arrangement

Here we see the Illinois-class pre-dreadnought type battleship USS Alabama (Battleship No. 8) as she appeared at around 1904, just before her inclusion in the Great White Fleet. Sadly, she would never be this beautiful again.

The Illinois-class battlewagons were under construction during but were not able to fully take advantage of, lessons learned by the U.S. in the Spanish-American War. At 12,250-tons, these ships were very hefty due to the fact they packed a quartet of 13″/35 main guns in twin turrets and 14 smaller 6″/40s in casemates into a hull that was slathered in as much as 16.5-inches of steel armor.

Inboard profile of an ILLINOIS class battleship. Drawn by R. G. Serest, 1898. From the Serest Collection, Bethlehem Steel Corp. Archives.

In the end, they weighed three times as much as a frigate of today, though they were arguably shorter in length at just 375-feet. Still, they were capital ships of their time.

Laid down within six weeks of each other (we have a modern Navy to build here, folks!) from three different yards, Illinois (BB-7) was built at Newport News while Alabama was made by the good folks at William Cramp in Philly and the final installment, Wisconsin (BB-9), was built by Union in San Francisco. Though sandwiched in the middle of the three, Alabama was completed first, entering the fleet in October 1900, months (almost a year compared to Illinois) before her two sisters. She was officially the 4th U.S. Navy ship to bear the name.

Alabama proved a popular ship, extensively photographed in her day, and many images of her crew exist today.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph # NH 57497

USS Alabama (Battleship # 8) Ship’s Gunner and Gunner’s Mates, summer 1903. Note the kitten and parrot mascots, the Chief’s pipe and the comment written on the First Class Gunner’s Mate at right (accidental discharge?)

Forward turret crew Gunner's Mates pose by the breech of one of the ship's 13"/35 guns, 1903. Note the ex-Apprentice marks (figure "8" knot badges) worn by two of these men.Photo # NH 57494, from the collections of the United States Naval Historical Center.

Forward turret crew Gunner’s Mates pose by the breech of one of the ship’s 13″/35 guns, 1903. Note the ex-Apprentice marks (figure “8” knot badges) worn by two of these men as well as the flat caps. Photo # NH 57494, from the collections of the United States Naval Historical Center.

Champion guns crew with Lieutenant Lewis J. Clark, 1903. They are posed with a 13-inch shell, on the foredeck in front of the ship's forward 13"/35 gun turret.Photo # NH 57495.

Champion guns crew with Lieutenant Lewis J. Clark, 1903. They are posed with an 1100-pound, 13-inch shell, on the foredeck in front of the ship’s forward 13″/35 gun turret. Photo # NH 57495.

Crew members F. Petry (left) and W.M. Langridge (in gun) pose at the breech of one of the ship's 13"/35 guns, 1903. Note the "A" with figure "8" knot on Petry's shirt. Photo # NH 57496

Crew members F. Petry (left) and W.M. Langridge (in the gun) pose at the breach of one of the ship’s 13″/35 guns, 1903. Note the “A” with figure “8” knot on Petry’s shirt. Langridge also appears prominently in another image above, his pomade being very distinctive. Photo # NH 57496

These same 13″ guns were used in the Navy’s first nine battlewagons from USS Indiana (BB-1) through USS Wisconsin (BB-9) and were pretty effective, with Navweaps noting “During the Battle of Santiago on 3 July 1898, the battleship Oregon (B-3) engaged in a running shoot with the Spanish cruiser Cristobal Colon. Oregon‘s last shots traveled 9,500 yards (8,700 m) and landed just ahead of the Spanish ship, convincing her to surrender.”

Illinois and Alabama, based on the East Coast, were like peas and carrots. They toured Europe and for 15 months steamed around the world with Teddy Roosevelt’s Great White Fleet– joined by Wisconsin halfway through.

Collection Photo #UA 570.11.01 Postcard image of USS Alabama (BB-8) as part of Great White Fleet

However, even before they left on the circumnavigation the entire class was obsolete with the advent of large, fast, all-big-gun battleships such as HMS Dreadnought (21,000-tons, 21-knots. 10×12″ Mk VIII’s).

This led to a three-year modernization, picking up lattice masts and removing such beautiful ornamentation as the bow scrolls and hardwood furnishings. She also ditched the gleaming white and buff scheme for a more utilitarian haze gray.

A greatly modified USS Alabama (Battleship # 8) Off New York City, during the October 1912 Naval Review. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 57753.

Returning to the fleet in 1912, Alabama was made part of the doldrums that was the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, where, much like the 1990s-era NRF ships, she was manned by a skeleton crew of primarily NCOs and officers and used to train Naval Militia (the precursor to the Navy Reserve) and midshipmen.

She continued this mission during World War I, transitioning to basic recruit, gunnery and machinist training on the East Coast. She was laid up in November 1919, having served less than two decades in the fleet, with arguably most of that in reserve.

To both shed tonnage to be used to keep modern new dreadnoughts because of limitations in the Washington Naval Treaty and give Army Air Force wonk Brig. Gen. William “Billy” Mitchell, a chance to prove himself, Alabama was decommissioned in May 1920 and subsequently transferred to the War Department’s custody.

There, she joined the old battleship Iowa (BB-4), the slightly more modern but similarly disposed of battleships New Jersey and Virginia, and several captured German ships to include the submarine U-117, destroyer G-102, light cruiser Frankfurt, and battleship Ostfriesland, all to be used by the lumbering Handley Page O/400 and Martin MB-2/NBS-1 bombers of Mitchell’s 1st Provisional Air Brigade operating out of Langley.

The Navy protested vigorously over the Army-organized test, arguing they were borderline rigged to show off a predetermined outcome. The German ships and Iowa went first in July off North Carolina, with Alabama, New Jersey, Texas and Virginia following in September in the Chesapeake.

Ex-USS Alabama (BB-8) Officers pose with gas masks, on the ship’s after deck in September 1921, immediately before the commencement of the bombing tests in which the former USS Alabama was the target. Those present include officers of the U.S. Navy, U.S. Army and a foreign navy (in a white uniform, second from left). Most of the gas masks are marked with a numeral 3 at the top, and one has a numeral 4 in that location. Photo from the 1909-1924 album of Vice Admiral Olaf M. Hustvedt, USN (Retired). Courtesy of Rick Hauck, 2006. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 104541

NH 104539

NH 57483 A white phosphorus bomb explodes on a mast top USS Alabama, while the ship in use as a target in the Chesapeake Bay, 23 September 1921. An Army Martin twin-engine bomber is flying overhead

Ex-USS Alabama (BB-8) takes a direct

Direct hit forward, Battleship Alabama, 1921

Alabama with ex-Texas (far left) and ex-Indiana (2nd from left)

Alabama took a significant punishment over a three-day period, then remained afloat for several days while she filled with seawater via her shattered hull, finally going to the bottom 27 September 1921. Her bones were sold for scrap in 1924.

View on board the ship’s sunken wreck, in Chesapeake Bay, after she had been used as a target for Army bombing tests in September 1921. This photograph looks forward from amidships, showing a boat crane, collapsed smokestacks and other wreckage. Donation of Lewis L. Smith, 1960. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Sister Illinois, disarmed in 1924 and converted to a barracks ship (Prairie State), was ultimately sold for scrap in 1956, while Wisconsin was unceremoniously broken up in 1922.

Of course, the Navy went on to commission other Alabamas including the very lucky South Dakota-class battleship (BB-60) which has been preserved in Mobile since 1964…

…and SSBN-731, an Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine commissioned in 1985 and currently in service.

180202-N-ND254-0451 BANGOR, Wash. (February 2, 2018) The Gold Crew of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alabama (SSBN 731) returns home to Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor following a routine strategic deterrent patrol. Alabama is one of eight ballistic missile submarines stationed at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, providing the most survivable leg of the strategic deterrence triad for the United States. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nancy DiBenedetto/Released)

However, the old battleship’s silver service lives on.

Presented by the state to the ship’s officers in 1900, it was retained by the Navy in storage until given to the follow-on SoDak class battlewagon in conjunction with a new platter and punchbowl crafted by the Watson Silver Co. in 1942. In 1967, the Navy returned the set to the state archives of Alabama and it has been on display aboard BB-62 since then, though part of the service has been presented to SSBN 731 and is now on permanent display in the boat’s wardroom.

USS Alabama Silver Presentation

Specs:


Displacement: Full load: 12,250 long tons (12,450 t)
Length: 375 ft 4 in (114.40 m)
Beam: 72 ft 3 in (22.02 m)
Draft: 23 ft 6 in (7.16 m)
Installed power: 8 fire-tube boilers
Propulsion: 2 shaft triple expansion engines 10,000 ihp (7,500 kW)
Speed: 16 knots (30 km/h; 18 mph)
Crew: 536
Armament:
4 × 13 in (330 mm)/35 caliber guns
14 × 6 in (152 mm)/40 caliber guns
16 × 6-pounder guns (57 mm (2.2 in))
6 × 1-pounder guns (37 mm (1.5 in))
4 × 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor:
Belt: 4 to 16.5 in (100 to 420 mm)
Turrets: 14 in (360 mm)
Barbettes: 15 in (380 mm)
Casemates: 6 in (150 mm)
Conning tower: 10 in (250 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!

Shackle, is that you?

The Navy was already experienced in marine salvage prior to World War II. However, the Navy did not have ships specifically designed and built for salvage work when it entered WWII, and it was not until the start of the war that salvage ships become a distinct vessel type.

Then came the purpose-built Diver-class.

Built at Basalt Rock Co., Napa, Calif. — a gravel company who was in the barge building biz– 17 of the new 213-foot vessels were constructed during WWII. Fitted with a 20-ton capacity boom forward and 10-ton capacity booms aft, they had automatic towing machines, two fixed fire pumps rated at 1,000 gallons per minute, four portable fire pumps, and eight sets of “beach gear,” pre-rigged anchors, chains and cables for use in refloating grounded vessels. And of course, they were excellently equipped to support divers in the water with one double re-compression chamber and two complete diving stations aft for air diving and two 35-foot workboats.

They had a surprisingly long life and, even though they almost all left U.S. Navy service fairly rapidly in the 1970s, several gained a second career. Two went to South Korea where one, ex- USS Grapple (ARS-7) is still active as ROCS Da Hu (ARS-552) in Taiwan and another, ex-USS Safeguard (ARS-25), went to Turkey. The latter is supposedly still active as TCG Isin (A-589) though her replacement is nearing.

Three, Escape (ARS-6), Seize (ARS-26) and USS Shackle (ARS-9) went to the Coast Guard as USCGC Escape (WMEC-6), USCGC Yocona (WMEC-168) and USCGC Acushnet (WMEC-167) respectively.

USCGC Acushnet (WMEC-167) arriving at Kodiak, AK, 26 August 2008.
Photo courtesy Marine Exchange Alaska. Via Navsource

Escape was sold for scrap in 2009, Seize/Yocona was sunk as a target in 2006 and Shackle/Acushnet, decommissioned in 2011 as the last Diver-class vessel in U.S. service then put up for sale for years in Anacortes, Wash with efforts afoot to save her in one form or another.

Well it looks like Shackle/Acushnet was in fact picked up last summer by a non-profit group called Ocean Guardian, who intend to keep the Coast Guard name and put her back to work as a research ship/museum/education vessel in conjunction with the National Maritime Law Enforcement Academy.

Seems like you can’t keep a good old salvage ship down.

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018: The wandering Dutchman of the Baltic

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, Jan. 31, 2018: The wandering Dutchman of the Baltic

NHHC Catalog #: 19-N-11-21-10

Here we see the Holland-class Pantser-dekschepen (protected cruiser) HMNLS Gelderland of the Royal Netherlands Navy (who else?) at the Jamestown Exposition Naval Review, Jamestown, Virginia, 12 June 1907– with her laundry out to dry as a schooner passes. Designed before the 20th Century, she would go on to have the longest life of her six pack of sisters and, modernized to fight a very different war than she was intended, suffer a curious fate.

The Hollands were the Dutch answer to the Royal Navy’s Apollo-class second-class protected cruisers (3,600-ton, 19.75 kts, 6×6-inch, 6×4.7-inch) and the class leader was ordered in 1894. The first flight of three cruisers (Holland, Zeeland, Friesland) had a displacement of 3,840-tons while the second batch (of which Gelderland was the lead followed by Noord Brabant and Utrecht) went 4,100-tons as they held 12 Yarrow boilers as opposed to 8 in the original design and went just a couple feet longer. Speed was 20-knots on the latter trio while the ships were armed with a pair of 149mm/37cal singles fore and aft and a half-dozen 120mm/37cal guns in broadside as well as smaller guns, all made by Krupp. The “protected” in their designation came from a thin coating of Harvey nickel armor.

They were handsome craft and could both show the Dutch flag in the Caribbean-protecting the Netherlands Antilles, the Pacific where Holland held the sprawling Netherlands East Indies, and of course in metropolitan waters in Europe.

Class leader HMNLS Holland colorized by Postales Navales

The subject of our tale, Gelderland, was laid down at Nederlandsche Stoomboot Maatschappij, Rotterdam in 1897. Commissioned 15 July 1900, our new cruiser, on the orders of Queen Wilhelmina herself, was dispatched to carry the former Transvaal president “Oom Paul” Kruger into exile from Portuguese Mozambique, through British sea lanes, to the French port of Marseille.

She left Africa with Kruger on board in October, arriving in France on 22 November where a crowd of 60,000 awaited.

President Paul Kruger of the South African Republic (left) leaving Delagoa Bay, Mozambique on 20 October 1900 aboard HNLMS Gelderland. Photo Nat. Cult. Hist. Museum”, presumably the National Cultural History Museum in Pretoria, South Africa.

From the Med, Gelderland proceeded to her first posting, the Dutch East Indies, where she served until rotating back to Europe in 1905.

She was off again in 1907 to represent the Netherlands at the Jamestown Exposition Naval Review in Hampton Roads.

GELDERLAND (Dutch cruiser, 1898) Caption: At the Jamestown Exposition Naval Review, Jamestown, Virginia, 12 June 1907. Description: Catalog #: 19-N-11-21-9

Then came a sortie to Curacao in 1908-09 along with her sister Friesland in response to a brush war from Venezuelan strongman Cipriano Castro who was pissed that his political rivals were being sheltered by the Dutch in their Caribbean colony offshore.

Castro sent his small naval forces to meet the much more imposing Dutch fleet and Gelderland promptly captured the Venezuelan coast guard ship Alix off Puerto Cabell on 12 December 1908. The Venezuelans offered no resistance and the Gelderland towed the Alix as a prize into Willemstad, making headlines around the world. The Dutch then proceeded to effect a naval blockade of the South American country’s coastline. The crisis only ended when vice president Juan Vicente Gómez, with U.S. help, seized power and Castro fled to Germany.

Returning to Europe, Gelderland was rushed to the Bosporus in 1912 to protect Dutch interests during the Balkan Wars, and a 100-man landing force from her crew along with Korps Mariniers of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps defended the legation area in Constantinople.

The Kingdom of the Netherlands was a well-armed neutral during World War I, though the Germans occupied neighboring Belgium and the country absorbed a million refugees (as well as 30,000 escaped Belgian soldiers and the majority of the British 1st Royal Naval Brigade). Though spies from all sides swarmed across the country and German U-boats and mines sank numerous Dutch merchantmen and fishing craft, the Dutch Navy, though mobilized, escaped conflict.

Dutch protected cruiser Hr. MS. Gelderland at Vlissingen, the Netherlands in 1916, The photo was published in the Dutch magazine De Prins dated 23 September 1916 page 148. The Dutch queen Wilhelmina is visible while walking on the pontoon bridge. Source: http://warshipsresearch.blogspot.com/2011/10/dutch-protected-cruiser-hrms-gelderland_27.html

Gelderland 1917

After the war, the class was considered obsolete and whittled down. To be sure, two units, Friesland and Utrecht were decommissioned in 1913 before the conflict and had been scrapped already. Another pair, Holland, and Zeeland, were decommissioned in 1920 and 1924 respectively. Noord Brabant was disarmed in 1920 and used as a barracks ship and hulk at Vlissingen while only Gelderland was retained in service– as a gunnery training ship.

Pantserdekschip Hr.Ms. Gelderland, 1930, via Nederlands Instituut voor Militaire Historie

She undertook regular training missions and was often seen in warmer waters.

Gelderland well-lit during the night, a display in celebration of the birth of Princess Beatrix in January 1938. The photo was most likely taken at Curacao. (Collection J. Stolk via NetherlandsNavy.nl) http://www.netherlandsnavy.nl/index.html

In 1939, the pivotal year that the Netherlands would try to escape a Second World War, Gelderland was armed with some additional .50 cal and 8mm machine guns in preparation for the conflict.

When the Germans swarmed into the country in May 1940, the Dutch managed to scuttle Noord Brabant at her moorings, but Gelderland was captured at Den Helder. Renamed by the Germans as Niobe after the figure in Greek mythology, the nearly half-century-old cruiser was heavily modified to serve as an anti-aircraft cruiser (flakschiff), she was given a FUMO 213 Würzburg radar, searchlights, and outfitted with a mixed battery of eight 105mm, 4 40mm, and 16 20mm guns.

Via NetherlandsNavy.nl

The Germans sailed the old Dutchman (slowly) to the Baltic in 1941 where she served as a floating AAA battery to protect key coastal points from the Red Air Force.

Niobe notably fought off Soviet swarms at the Finnish city of Kotka where the Russians thought she was the Finnish coast defense ship and former Warship Wednesday alum Väinämöinen. At Kotka, she was attacked by waves of more than 150 Red A-20 and Pe-2 bombers on 16 July 1944, sending her to the bottom that night after 9 bomb hits.

She suffered 70 casualties from her crew of 397 men from Marine-Flak-Abteilung 282.

Kesällä 1944 pommituksissa uponnut saksalainen ilmatorjuntaristeilijä “”Niobe””.

Kesällä 1944 pommituksissa uponnut saksalainen ilmatorjuntaristeilijä “”Niobe””.

In 1953, the German firm of Taucher Beckedorf from Hamburg raised her, and she was scrapped shortly after.

Gelderland is well remembered by a dedicated website (Dutch).

Specs:
Displacement standard: 3,970 tons, 4100 full
Length: 94.7 meters
Beam: 14.82 meters
Draft: 5.4 meters
Engineering: 2 x triple expansion steam engines, 12 x Yarrow boilers, 9,867 hp
Maximum speed: 20 knots on trials
Bunker capacity: 930 tons of coal max
Range: 4500 nautical miles at 10 knots
Armor: 50mm deck, 13mm gun shield, and 100mm tower armor
Crew: 325
Armament upon delivery:
2 x 149/37 Krupp
6 x 120/37 Krupp
6 x 75/37 Krupp
8 x 37mm Hotchkiss
2 x 7,5cm mortars,
2 x 450mm torpedo tubes (bow, stern)


As Flakschiffe:
8× 10.5 cm FlaK L/45 C/32
4× 40 mm Bofors L/60
16× 20 mm (4×4) Vierlinge C/38

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!

USS Texas in original color

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More here. You are welcome!

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