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Warship Wednesday, March 25, 2020: Lady Lex off Panama

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

(This week’s WW abbreviated due to events.)

Warship Wednesday, March 25, 2020: Lady Lex off Panama

Original negative given by Mr. Franklin Moran in 1967. Naval History and Heritage Command photo NH 64501

Here we see the U.S. Navy’s second aircraft carrier, the brand-new USS Lexington (CV-2) off Panama City, Panama on 25 March 1928, some 92 years ago today.

The fourth U.S. Naval vessel named for the iconic scrap against Minutemen and a detachment of British troops on 19 April 1776, Lexington had originally been designed and laid down as a battlecruiser, designated CC-1.

Authorized to be converted and completed as an aircraft carrier 1 July 1922 she commissioned 14 December 1927, Capt. Albert W. Marshall in command.

The above photo and the four that follow were taken while the $39 million “Lady Lex” was on her shakedown cruise, deploying from her East Coast builders to her homeport at San Pedro, California, where she would arrive on 7 April 1928 and spend the next 13 years of her life.

NH 64697

NH 64699. At the time, she carried her inaugural air group to include Curtiss F6C fighters and Martin T3M torpedo planes, which can be seen on deck.

Note her twin 8″/55 gun mounts. NH 64698

“‘A close squeeze.’ U.S.S. Lexington. 33,000-ton aeroplane carrier, going through Miraflores Locks, Panama Canal.” Courtesy Jim Ferguson via Navsource. http://www.navsource.org/archives/02/02.htm

Of note, Lex had only received her first aircraft aboard only two months prior to her Panama photoshoot.

First plane on the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Lexington– a Martin T3M –at the South Boston Naval Annex January 14, 1928, Leslie Jones Collection Boston Public Library. Note her 8-inch guns

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!

Abbreviated Warship Wednesday: Mount 43, 60 Years Ago Today

(Shorter WW today due to events-Eg.)

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 18, 2020: Mount 43, 60 Years Ago This Week

Here we see the Midway-class carrier USS Coral Sea (CVB/CVA/CV-43) as she sits in Vancouver, Britsh Columbia, her haze gray tower lending its own perspective to the majestic North Shore Mountains overlooking the harbor.

Photo by Leslie F. Sheraton, Courtesy of the Vancouver City Archives https://searcharchives.vancouver.ca/aircraft-carrier-in-vancouver-harbour-coral-sea-9 Item 2009-001.153

Coral Sea called in Vancouver only once from what I can tell, for three days from 18 to 20 March 1960. This was immediately after her 33-month SCB-110AB conversion at Bremerton and before she picked up Carrier Air Group (CVG) 15 for her first post-modification WestPac cruise.

Mar 1960 – Newly recommissioned USS Coral Sea entering Vancouver B.C., Canada. Via USS Coral Sea.net https://www.usscoralsea.net/pics1960s1.php

Her crew spells out CANADA on the flight deck. Via USS Coral Sea.net https://www.usscoralsea.net/pics1960s1.php

She was reportedly the largest ship to pass under the city’s famous Lion’s Gate bridge (later dwarfed by USS Ranger‘s 1992 port call) and drew huge crowds.

As noted from a Vancouver historical blog:

Over 100,000 people lined the shorelines to greet the 63,000-ton aircraft carrier, There were traffic jams into Stanley Park as Vancouverites tried to get the best vantage points to see the huge aircraft carrier. The most spectacular moment was when the aircraft carrier went under the Lions Gate Bridge with a few feet to spare. The crew had to take down the “Lollipop”, the 11-foot section of the navigational aid at the top of the mainmast.

According to newspaper articles, thousands of school children skipped school or were permitted to leave to watch the ship come into port. According to one article, one principal said those that played hookey will pay the price with detentions. There were a lot of social events organized while the ship was in port including a huge dance where over 900 local women were invited to meet the sailors.

While in British Columbia the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, commanded by two world war Veteran Lt.Col Ian Malcolm Bell-Irving, paraded alongside the dock and then, coming aboard, down her new-fangled angled flight deck and into her empty hangar deck.

US Navy photo now in the Seattle Branch of the National Archives. # NS024335, via Navsource.

Seaforth Highlanders on the hangar deck of USS Coral Sea

While the Coral Sea, recipient of a dozen Vietnam Service Medals, decommissioned in 1990 and was scrapped by 2000, the Seaforths are still stationed in Vancouver and are set to celebrate their 110th Anniversary in November.

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!

Stickleback found, filed 10,944 feet down

Just serving two days on her first (and only) WWII combat patrol before the cease-fire was issued in August 1945, the Balao-class submarine USS Stickleback (SS-415) served as a training ship until her GUPPY IIA conversion in the 1950s. She managed to complete five sometimes dicey Cold War patrols, spending lots of time creeping around Soviet Red Banner Pacific Fleet assets including snapping photos of two Sverlov class cruisers.

Taking some time off, she stood out of Pearl on 28 May 1958 with the John C. Butler-class destroyer escort USS Silverstein (DE-534) and a torpedo retriever on an antisubmarine warfare exercise.

As Stickleback was going to a safe depth about 19 miles off Oahu the next day, she lost power and broached about 200 yards ahead of the steaming Silverstein, who was unable to avoid a collision and holed the submarine on her port side, riding over the submarine’s pressure hull.

USS SILVERSTEIN (DE-534) and USS STICKLEBACK (SS-415) Collide 19 miles out from Barbers Point, Oahu Hawaii on 29 May 1958. The photo was taken in a HUP-2 piloted by Ensign Rucks, PHAAN R.K. Ahlgren, photographer. USN 1036229

USN 1036225

USN 1036226

While the submarine Sabalo (SS-302), destroyer escort Sturtevant (DE-239), and rescue ship Greenlet (ASR-10) quickly responded, the combined efforts were unable to correct the flooding, Stickleback at 19:57 made her last dive in 1,800 fathoms of water. Luckily, she suffered no losses and all 82 of her crew were taken off.

Silverstein would be mothballed at San Francisco the next year and would be disposed of in 1973.

Now, Stickleback has been discovered by the Lost 52 Project. She is one of four US Navy submarines lost since the end of World War II

Russians dig up an old Torpedo Boat, type in dispute

The Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation last week posted a series of images from the Black Sea Fleet of salvage divers recovering a WWII (Great Patriotic War)-era duralumin-hulled motor torpedo boat from Quarantine Bay in Sevastopol.

This thing.

The MOD says the craft is a G-5 type scuttled in the harbor during the conflict. Importantly, the Black Sea Fleet had more than 90 of these fast (50+ knots) 61-footers, each capable of carrying two 21-inch stern-launched torpedos.

The G-5 in action, very wet boats.

However, some argue the boat is actually an even rarer Sh-4-type boat, the very similar forerunner of the G-5 series.

Two of these Sh-4 boats (No. 71 and No. 83) had been disarmed prior to the war but were still used for the vital task of blockade runners during the siege of Sevastopol and as landing boats for marines due to their high-speed and shallow draft. Likewise, they are both unaccounted for, having been scuttled in the harbor.

Either way, kinda cool.

Too bad they broke the stern.

Warship Wednesday, March 11, 2020: Flory’s Battle-scarred Bugle

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 11, 2020: Flory’s Battle-scarred Bugle

National Records of Scotland, UCS1/118/Gen 372/2

Here we see a vessel identified as the brand-new light cruiser HMS Castor, at the time the flagship of Royal Navy’s 11th Destroyer Flotilla, passing Clydebank, February 1916. A handsome ship, she would very soon sail into harm’s way.

Laid down at Cammell Laird and Co. Birkenhead three months after the war started, Castor was a member of the Cambrian subclass of the 28-strong “C”-class of oil-fired light cruisers. Sturdy 446-foot ships of 4,000~ tons, their eight-pack of Yarrow boilers trunked through two funnels and pushing a pair of Parsons turbines coughed up 40,000 shp– enough to sprint them at 29-knots.

Comparable in size to a smallish frigate today, they packed four single BL 6-inch Mk XII guns along with a more distributed battery of six or eight QF 4-inch Mk IV guns in addition to a pair of bow-mounted 21-inch torpedo tubes. With up to 6-inches of steel armor (conning tower), they could hold their own against similar cruisers, slaughter destroyers, and gunboats, and run away from larger warships.

After just 11 months on the builder’s ways, Castor was commissioned in November 1915, the fourth of HMs vessels to carry the name one of the Gemini twins since 1781.

A port quarter view of the Cambrian class light cruiser HMS Castor (1915) underway off Scapa Flow. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich (N16682)

Castor at commissioning became the flagship of the Grand Fleet’s 11th Destroyer Flotilla, which consisted of 14 Admiralty M (Moon)-class destroyers (HMS Kempenfelt, Magic, Mandate, Manners, Marne, Martial, Michael, Milbrook, Minion, Mons Moon, Morning Star, Mounsey, Mystic, and Ossory) under the overall flag of Castor’s skipper since November 1915, Commodore (F) James Rose Price Hawksley. Hawksley had previously spent much of his 19-year RN career up to then as a destroyerman, so it made sense.

With her paint still fresh and her plankowners just off her shakedown, Castor, along with the rest of the mighty Grand Fleet, crashed into the German High Seas Fleet off Denmark’s North Sea Jutland coast, the largest battleship-cruiser-destroyer surface action in history.

While covering the whole Battle of Jutland goes far beyond the scope of this post, we shall focus on Castor’s role and that of her flotilla on the night of the 31st of May. With the day’s fleet action broken up and the two fleets searching for each other in the darkness, the leading German light cruisers brushed into the British rear-guard starboard wing, that being HMS Castor and her destroyers. The official history states:

“At 20:11 hrs., the 11th Flotilla led by Commodore Hawksley, onboard Castor spotted German Destroyers to his NWN and turned to attack, supported by the 4th Light Cruiser Squadron. They had found not destroyers but the main German battle line.”

Castor’s force was soon spotted by the German ships, who approached in the darkness and mimicked the response to a British challenge signal that they had been confronted with, in turn getting one correct out of three challenges. This meant that they were able to approach much closer than usual.

Then, at a range of just 2,000 yards, the German ships threw on their searchlights and opened fire. Castor returned fire, and she and at least two of her destroyers (Marne and Magic), each snap-shotted one torpedo each at the German ships, with the cruiser aiming at the first German in line and the two lead destroyers on the following. “This was followed by an explosion. It may be taken for certain that it was Magic’s torpedo that struck the second ship in the enemy’s line.”

This confused surface action lasted for about five minutes before both sides heeled away into the safety of the black night. Some of the other destroyers reported that they were unable to see the enemy because of glare from Castor’s guns, while others believed there had been some mistake and the contact was friendly fire. No news of the engagement reached Jellicoe in time for him to react with the main battle line.

While her 14 destroyers came away unscathed, Castor received 10 large caliber shell hits, which set her ablaze, and lost 12 of her Sailors and Marines killed or missing.

A photograph was taken from inside the hull of the light cruiser HMS Castor after the Battle of Jutland showing a large shell hole. IWM photograph Q 61137

The dozen killed included bugler Albert Flory, RMLI, who gave his last full measure at the ripe old age of 16.

Marine Albert Flory, RMLI, Castor’s bugler via Royal Marines Museum

Two others among Castor’s dead carried the rank of “Boy,” one generally reserved for apprentice sailors under the age of 18. At the time, about one in 10 of her complement were such modern powder monkeys.

Her death toll overall:

BAKER, William, Boy 1c, J 39706
BARTRAM, Leslie, Able Seaman, J 14191 (Po)
BROOMHEAD, Alfred, Stoker 1c (RFR B 4446), SS 103448 (Po)
CANDY, William A V, Ordinary Signalman, J 28149 (Po)
CHILD, Frederick T, Stoker Petty Officer, 308828 (Po)
EVANS, Alfred O, Ordinary Signalman, J 27451 (Dev)
FLORY, Albert E, Bugler, RMLI, 18169 (Po)
FOX, John E, Stoker 1c, SS 114531 (Po)
GASSON, Harry, Able Seaman (RFR B 6769), 212007 (Po)
HALLAM, Fred, Boy 1c, J 39695
KILHAMS, Alfred J, Ordinary Telegraphist, J 30359 (Po)
MACGREGOR, Donald N, Chief Yeoman of Signals, 173674 (Po)

Added to the butcher’s bill was 26 seriously and 13 lightly wounded.

“H.M.S. Castor, an operation”

HMS Castor. Wounded Received After the Battle of Jutland, 31st May 1916 painting by Jan (Godfrey Jervis) Gordon. IWM ART 2781 Note from IWM: This scene of British wounded sailors being tended to during the Battle of Jutland is by the artist Jan Gordon. It was one of four paintings completed by Gordon on behalf of the Imperial War Museum’s Royal Navy Medical Section between 1918 and 1919. Gordon’s painting shows the wounded crew members being brought below deck, each bearing a variety of injuries and corresponding treatments.

Castor would spend most of the rest of 1916 and the first part of 1917 undergoing repairs and, as the High Seas Fleet didn’t sortie again until the surrender at Scapa Flow, the remainder of Castor’s war was relatively uneventfully spent on duty in the Home Islands. The most interesting action of this period was when she responded to the sinking armed trawler USS Rehoboth (SP-384) in October 1917, during which the cruiser took on the stricken vessel’s crew and sent the derelict hull to the bottom with shellfire.

On 23 November 1918, she was tasked with counting and watching surrendering German destroyers.

Royal Navy C-class light cruiser HMS Castor, 1918 IWM SP 2750

Hawkesley, Castor’s first skipper, and 11th Flotilla commodore at Jutland would move on to finish the war in command of the battlecruiser HMS Inflexible. He would go on to retire as a Rear Admiral in 1922 in conjunction with the Washington Naval Treaty drawdown, a rank advanced to Vice-Admiral while on the Retired List four years later. He would be replaced on Castor’s bridge by Commodore (F) Hugh Justin Tweedie, a man who would go on to retire as a full admiral in 1935. Sir Hugh would return to service in the early days of WWII, working with the Convoy Pools in his 60s.

Castor, whose 4-inch secondary battery was replaced by a smaller number of AAA guns, is listed as serving in the Black Sea with the British force deployed there for intervention into the broiling Russian Civil War from 1919-20. Such duty could prove deadly. For example, while none of the 28 C-class light cruisers were lost during the Great War– despite several showing up in U-boat periscopes and being present at Jutland and the Heligoland Bight– Castor’s sister Cassandra was sunk by a mine in the Baltic on 5 December 1918 while acting against the Reds.

Castor followed up her Russian stint service on the Irish Patrol in 1922. Then came a spell as the floating Gunnery School at Portsmouth until 1924 when she passed into a period of refit and reserve.

She was recommissioned at Devonport for China Station June 1928, to relieve her sistership Curlew and saw the globe a bit.

HMS Castor at Devonport, where she was commissioned to relieve the Curlew on China Station. NH 61309

HMS Castor, Malta, note her extensive awnings and reduced armament

HMS Castor off New York

HMS Castor, Stockholm

With the times passing and newer cruisers coming on line eating up valuable treaty-limited tonnage, Castor was paid off in May 1935 and sold two months later to Metal Ind, Rosyth, for her value in scrap metal. There has not been a “Castor” on the British naval list since. Most of her early sisters were likewise disposed of in the same manner during this period.

Just half of the class, 14 vessels, made it out of the Depression still in the fleet and most went on to serve in one form or another in the Second World War, despite their advanced age and outdated nature. Of those, six were lost: Curlew, Calcutta, and Coventry to enemy aircraft; Calypso and Cairo to submarines, as well as Curacoa to a collision with the Queen Mary.

Just one C-class cruiser survived past 1948, Jutland veteran Caroline, a past Warship Wednesday alum. Having served as an RNVR drillship in Alexandra Dock, Belfast until 2011, since 2016 she has been a museum ship. She is the last remaining warship that was at Jutland.

Castor’s sister Caroline in Belfast recently, disarmed, decommed, but still proud

When it comes to Castor, a number of relics remain.

Her White Ensign (Length 183 cm, Width 92 cm) is in the IWM collection, although not on display while her (525x 425x30mm) ship’s badge is at the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.

One of Castor’s unidentified lost souls was finally discovered in 2016, a full century after Jutland.

Able Seaman Harry Gasson‘s body was blown to sea in the engagement and was recovered about two nautical miles off Grey Deep on 25 September 1916– an amazing four months after the battle. With no identification, he was and buried simply as a “British Seaman of the Great War Known unto God” five days later in the Danish town of Esbjerg.

As noted by the MoD:

The local people of Esbjerg maintained the grave for almost 100 years, but it wasn’t until local historians looked into the church records to find it was recorded that the sailor had the name H. Gossom written in his trousers. After work by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) and checking naval records, the MOD was able to agree that the identity of this sailor was H. Gasson, and there had been an error in the transcription.

His anonymous headstone was replaced with his correct name in a ceremony attended by two of his descendants along with the ship’s company of the HMS Tyne.

Relatives and representatives from the Royal Navy attend the service on 31 May 2016, for AB Gasson in Denmark (MoD photo)

As for Marine Albert Flory’s shrapnel-riddled bugle, to mark this year’s Bands of HM Royal Marines Mountbatten Festival of Music 2020, the Royal Marine Museum is giving the public the chance to “adopt” it to support the new Royal Marines Museum Campaign.

Flory’s instrument, no doubt close to him when he was struck at Jutland. Via the Royal Marine Museum

Specs:


Displacement: 3,750 tons (designed); 4,320 fl; 4,799 deep load
Length: 446 ft (o/a)
Beam: 41 ft 6 in
Draught: 14 ft 10 in (with Bunkers full, and complete with Provisions, Stores and Water: 16 feet 3 inches mean)
Propulsion: 8 Yarrow Small tube boilers, 2 Parsons steam turbines, 2 shafts, 30,000 shp natural/40,000 Forced Draught
Speed: 28.5 knots max (some hit 29 on trials)
Number of Tons of Oil Fuel Carried: 841
Quantity of Water carried: For Boilers, 70 tons, For Drinking 49.25 tons
Ship’s Company (typical)
Officers: 31
Seamen: 149
Boys: 31
Marines: 36
Engine-room establishment: 88
Other non-executive ratings: 44
Total: 379
Boats:
One motorboat 30 feet
One sailing cutter 30 feet
Two whalers 27 feet, Montague
One gig 30 feet
Two skiff dinghies 16 feet
One motorboat 30 feet for Commodore’s use
Armor:
Waterline belt: 1.5–3 in
Deck: 1 in
Conning tower: 6 in
Armament:
(1915)
4 x single BL 6″/45 Mk XII guns on Forecastle, Forward superstructure, Aft Forward superstructure and Quarterdeck
6 x single QF 4″/40 Mk IV guns
1 x single QF 4 in 13 pounder Mk V anti-aircraft gun
2 x 21-inch (533 mm) submerged torpedo tubes, typically with eight Mark IV Torpedoes
(1919)
4 x single BL 6″/45 Mk XII guns
2 x QF 3-inch 20 cwt IV on Mark IV AAA mounting on foc’sle
2 x QF 2 pole Pom-pom AAA on the aft superstructure
2 x 21-inch (533 mm) submerged torpedo tubes, typically with eight Mark IV Torpedoes

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

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

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

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

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

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday, March 4, 2020: The Saipan Jug Carrier

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 4, 2020: The Saipan Jug Carrier

Here we see the deck of a Kaiser-built Casablanca-class escort carrier USS Manila Bay (CVE-61) filled with some unusual aircraft– USAAF P-47D Thunderbolts– flying off her stubby deck just after a Japanese attack on the ship in June 1944. Her first exposure to combat, the next seven months would be a wild ride for Manila Bay, one that would see her count coup on some of the most iconic Japanese warships.

No matter if you call them “jeep carriers,” “baby flattops,” or “Combustible, Vulnerable, and Expendable,” the escort carrier concept is one we have covered a few times in the past several years on WW. Besides one-off training carriers and prototype ships, four large classes of U.S.-built CVEs (Bogue, Sangamon, Casablanca, Commencement Bay) were cranked out during WWII, approaching 150~ hulls planned or completed for Uncle Sam and his Allies.

Manila Bay and her multitude of sisters (CVE-55 through CVE-104) were basically Liberty ships, C-3-S-A1 freighters, whose topsides were sliced away and fitted with flight decks and a small island on the starboard side with a modicum of AAA guns placed in tubs alongside the flight deck for self-protection.

Cranked out by the Kaiser yard in Vancouver, the Casablancas was the most prolific CVEs to see service, with a solid 50 ordered in bulk, to be completed within two years.

Think about that: one yard making 50 carriers in two years. You couldn’t beat that, even though they were not nice, larger fleet carriers. Quantity over quality.

Besides, the CVEs could be used for supporting beachheads during amphibious operations, escorting slow-moving convoys, and easily shuttling aircraft from location to location– all jobs that typically tied down the more valuable large flattops, freeing the big boys up for strategic and decisive fleet actions ala Mahan.

Mr. Henry J. Kaiser, right, presents President Franklin D. Roosevelt with a model of the escort carriers that he was constructing at Vancouver, Washington, on 18 March 1943. Kaiser built 50 of these CASABLANCA class carriers CVE-55-104 in 1943-44. NH 75629

Just 513-feet long overall, the Casablancas could carry a couple dozen aircraft in a composite squadron, typically a mix of upgraded FM‑2 Wildcat fighters and lumbering TBF Avenger torpedo bombers. However, they only had one catapult (most other CVEs had two) which limited their op-tempo a bit.

Manila Bay’s wartime embarked air wings (squadrons):
VC-7, 29 Jan – 28 Feb 44 – Marshall Islands.
VC-7, 19 Mar – 19 Apr 44 – Bismarck Archipelago.
VC-7, 27 Apr – 2 May 44 – Western New Guinea.
VC-80, 12-26 Oct 4 4- Leyte Operation.
VC-80, 12-18 Dec 44 – Luzon Operation.
VC-80, 4-18 Jan 45 – Luzon Operation.
VC-71, 9 Jun – 20 Jun 45 – Okinawa Gunto Operation.

For reference, see the below overhead shot of sister USS Savo Island (CVE-78) with a nice starboard bow aerial view of the Casablanca-class escort carrier underway.

Note disassembled aircraft on the flight deck, and camouflage paint scheme. It is not hard to see these are freighter hulls with a simple flight deck thrown on top and a small offset island to house antenna, a bridge, and an air boss. 80-G-409217

Laid down originally as Bucareli Bay (ACV‑61) on 15 January 1943, our featured carrier was renamed the more warlike Manila Bay (CVE-61) just two months later. Launched 10 July 1943, she was commissioned 5 October 1943 at Astoria, Oregon. In all, she went from first steel laid to joining the fleet in 263 days. Not bad.

USS Manila Bay (CVE 61), at launching, sliding down the ways at Kaiser Company Inc., Vancouver, Washington, July 10, 1943. 80-G-372761

The Casablancas carried a smaller armament than other CVEs, but they still weren’t helpless, packing a single open 5″/38cal DP mount for use in scaring off a small surface attacker, 16 dual 40mm Bofors, and 20 Oerlikon singles.

Testing the sole 5-inch gun USS Manila Bay (CVE 61) 3 November 1943. Note fuzed ready shells. 80-G-372778

Testing 40 mm anti-aircraft guns onboard USS Manila Bay (CVE 61) 3 October 1943 80-G-372776

She spent the rest of 1943 on shakedown along the west coast, where plane handling was often a new thing for many on both sides of the stick.

Crash of FM1 Wildcat, Bu# 46789, on the flight deck of USS Manila Bay (CVE 61), as she bursts into flames, December 16, 1943. 80-G-372821

And as the fire spreads to other parked aircraft. 80-G-372823

By January 1944, she was forward deployed, with her planes socking it to the Japanese on Kwajalein with Task Force 52, where she carried the flag of RADM Ralph Davidson for CarDiv 24.

Kwajalein Island, 4 February 1944, on the last day of major fighting between Japanese defenders and the U.S. Army invaders. Seen from a USS MANILA BAY (CVE-61) plane from the Pacific, looking west, with landing beaches in the upper left distance surrounded by landing craft. Several LVT’s are on the beach in the foreground, moving toward the front lines, off the view to the right. The block-house area is in the right-center, with some buildings still burning. 80-G-373059

From there, she continued operating in the Marshalls including Eniwetok and then to Majuro, before chopping to TF 37 to hit Kavieng and then support operations in the Bismarck Archipelago and New Guinea.

Relieved of her flag duties, the now-veteran carrier turned for Pearl Harbor for a quick refit and a mission to pick up a load of Army aircraft, 37 P-47-D Thunderbolts, for transshipment to points West. They would be headed to still-hot Saipan in the Marianas, where the “Jugs” would be engaged in combat immediately.

Pilots of the 73rd Fighter squadron, 7th USAAF, receive a briefing on the flight deck of USS MANILA BAY (CVE-61) before taking off for Saipan, where they will be based, 20 June 1944. Planes are P-47s. 80-G-238677

There, just East of Saipan, the ship had her literal baptism of fire when she was jumped by a quartet of Mitsubishi A6Ms. Dropping small 100-pound bombs, they just missed the carrier by 400 to 600 yards. In return, her crew fired five 5-inch, 190 40mm and 465 20mm rounds at the planes. Likewise, these also evidently caused no damage.

USS MANILA BAY (CVE-61) under bombing attack by four Japanese “Zeke” aircraft, off Saipan, at 1205 on 23 June 1944. Note USAAF P-47 fighters on deck, for delivery to Saipan airfields. 80-G-238680

During the attack, the Army fighter pilots calmly tended their planes while the bluejackets tended their guns. Just after the attack was over, the first four P-47s launched for Aslito Field.

USAAF P-47 fighters of the 73rd fighters SQ., 7th AF, being launched from USS MANILA BAY (CVE-61) for delivery to airfields on Saipan, 24 June 1944. 80-G-238689

Catapult USS Manila Bay (CVE-61) P-47D-11-RA of 318th FG, 73rd FS, 42-23038 pilot Eubanks Barnhill in “Sonny Boy”

P-47 Thunderbolt #34 of the 73rd Fighter Squadron, 318th Fighter Group takes off from the USS Manila Bay CVE-61

P-47D “Spittin’ Kitten” 404 of the 318th FG, 73rd FS prepares to launch from USS Manila Bay CVE-61, 23 June 1944

P-47D Thunderbolt #29 42-75302 “Dee Icer” of the 73rd FS, 318th Fighter Group Cpt John O’Hare

P-47D Thunderbolt Razorback serial 42-75302 “Dee Icer” of the 73rd Fighter Squadron, 318th Fighter Group

Lt. Joseph J. DeVona in the cockpit of his 73rd Fighter Squadron, P-47N “Empire Express.” Note the squadron’s “Bar Flies” insignia. The 73rd would prove itself on Saipan, ranging on 1,300-mile escorts as far as Iwo Jima, then transfer to Okinawa in April 1945 to finish the war. They would later become a bombing squadron flying B-52s in the Cold War. 

This great video covers the 318th FG and their trip to Saipan.

On Manila Bay‘s return trip to Pearl, she was used as a hospital ship, embarking 207 wounded troops for a return stateside.

Returning to CarDiv24, Manila Bay picked up a new skipper, CAPT. Fitzhugh Lee III (USNA 1926), who was the great-great-grandson of Light Horse Harry Lee of Revolutionary War fame and grandson Virginia cavalry general Fitzhugh Lee of Civil War and SpanAm War fame. Like his forefathers, he would lead his men into harm’s way.

–But first, she had to shlep a load of Navy and Marine bombers to the front.

USS Manila Bay (CVE-61) with a mix of about two dozen PBJ-1D (navalized B-25 Mitchell) and JM-1 (navalized Martin B-26 Marauder) aircraft embarked 24 August 1944. 80-G-243546

North American PBJ-1D Mitchell bomber of U.S. Marine Corps bombing squadron VMB-611 spotted on the deck of the escort carrier USS Manila Bay (CVE-61), August 1944. Note the radar nose cone. The squadron made a major contribution with these planes in the Mindanao campaign

Then, as part of Escort Carrier Group (TG 77.4), came the push for the Philippines, where Manila Bay was part of the famed Taffy 2 during the Battle of Samar.

About the last week of October 1944 from DANFS:

Prior to the invasion, her planes pounded enemy ground targets on Leyte, Samar, and Cebu. She launched ground support, spotting, and air cover strikes during the amphibious assaults 20 October; thence, she sent bombers and fighters to support ground forces during the critical first few days at Leyte.

As Manila Bay cruised to the east of Leyte Gulf with other carriers of Rear Adm. Felix B. Stump’s Taffy 2 (TU 77.4.2), powerful Japanese naval forces converged upon the Philippines and launched a three‑pronged offensive to drive the Americans from Leyte. In a series of masterful and coordinated surface attacks, an American battleship, cruiser, and destroyer force met and smashed enemy ships in the Battle of Surigao Strait early 25 October. Surviving Japanese ships retreated into the Mindanao Sea pursued by destroyers, PT boats, and after sunrise by carrier‑based bombers and fighters.

Manila Bay sent an eight‑plane strike against ground targets on Leyte before sunrise; subsequently, these planes bombed and strafed retiring enemy ships southwest of Panaon Island. A second strike about midmorning pounded the disabled heavy cruiser Magami. In the meantime, however, Manila Bay turned her planes against a more immediate threat-the enemy attack against ships of Taffy 3.

The running battle between the escort carriers of Rear Adm. Clifton Sprague’s Taffy 3 and the larger, vastly more powerful surface ships of Admiral Kurita’s Center Force; the brilliant, self‑sacrificing attacks by gallant American destroyers and destroyer escorts, and the prompt, aggressive, and unceasing torpedo, bomb, and strafing strikes by planes from Taffy 2 and Taffy 3, all contributed to the American victory against great odds in the Battle off Samar.

Manila Bay launched two airstrikes during the enemy pursuit of Taffy 3 and two more as the Japanese retreated. At 0830 she sent four torpedo‑laden TBMs and a seven‑plane escort to join the desperate fight. Three launched torpedoes at a battleship, probably Yamato, but she combed the wakes. The fourth plane launched her torpedo at a heavy cruiser, most likely Chikuma. It hit her to starboard near the fantail, forcing her out of control. The second strike an hour later by two TBMs resulted in one torpedo hit on the portside amidships against an unidentified battleship.

As the Japanese ships broke off attack and circled off Samar, the fierce airstrikes continued. At 1120 Manila Bay launched four TBMs, carrying 500‑pound bombs, and four bombers from other carriers. Escorted by FM‑2s and led by Comdr. R. L. Fowler, they soon joined planes from other Taffy carriers. Shortly after 1230, some 70 planes jumped the retiring Center Force, strafing and bombing through intense antiaircraft fire. Manila Bay’s bombers made a hit and two near misses on the lead battleship, probably Kongo or Haruna. Manila Bay launched her final strike at 1245, strafing destroyers and getting two hits on a cruiser.

Later that afternoon, Manila Bay‘s CAP intercepted a Japanese bomber‑fighter strike about 50 miles north of Taffy 2. Her four fighters broke up the enemy formation, and with reinforcements drove off the attackers before they reached the carriers. Her planes continued to pound enemy ships the following day. Laden with rockets and bombs, one of her TBMs scored two hits on light cruiser Kinu and several rocket hits on Uranami, an escorting destroyer. Both ships sank about noon in the Visayan Sea after numerous air attacks.

Battle of Leyte Gulf, October 1944. USS MANILA BAY (CVE-61) and USS BOISE (CL-47) operating off Leyte, 28 October 1944. Photographed from NATOMA BAY (CVE-62). 80-G-287558

Some of her downed aircrews managed to be returned quickly.

Ensign Crandell, TBM Pilot of VC-80, and his aircrewman who were brought back on-board USS Manila Bay (CVE 61) by a U.S. Navy PT Boat 523 after they were shot down over Leyte Island beachhead, Philippines, October 22, 1944. Note the PT-boat’s field-expedient 37mm gun forward, salvaged from an AAF P-39 Airacobra. 80-G-372892

Of note, one of her Avenger pilots, LT (j.g.) Horace D. Bryan was presented with the Navy Cross, for landing two 500-pound bombs on the Japanese Nagara-class light cruiser Kinu in the Camotes Sea area on 26 October, which proved key in sending her to the bottom.

With no rest, the flattop was soon active in the Mindoro invasion and operations around Luzon for the rest of the year and going into 1945.

There, she felt the Divine Wind. Sistership USS Ommaney Bay (CVE–79) was sunk after an attack by a kamikaze Yokosuka P1Y Ginga twin-engine bomber on 4 January. The next day, it would be Manila Bay’s turn in the barrel.

From DANFS:

The enemy air attacks intensified 5 January. Patrolling lighters broke up morning and early afternoon strikes, shooting down numerous raiders. At 1650 a third attack sent all hands to general quarters. Vectored CAP bagged several enemy planes and antiaircraft fire splashed still more. Three planes got through to Louisville, Stafford, and HMAS Australia. Just before 1750, two kamikazes dove at Manila Bay from the portside. The first plane [a Mitsubishi A6M Zeke] hit the flight deck to starboard abaft the bridge, causing fires on the flight and hangar decks, destroying radar transmitting spaces, and wiping out all communications. The second plane, aimed for the bridge, missed the island close aboard to starboard and splashed off the fantail.

View from the flight deck of the escort carrier Manila Bay (CVE 61) under attack by Japanese kamikazes off Mindoro in the Philippines Jan 5, 1945

USS Manila Bay (CVE 61). Japanese kamikaze fighter bomber starting an attack on the carrier escort in the South China Sea during operations in support of the invasion of Luzon. Released January 5, 1945. 80-G-273176

Firefighting parties promptly brought the blazes under control including those of two fueled and burning torpedo planes in the hangar deck.

USS Manila Bay (CVE 61). Crew combating fire after Japanese kamikaze crashed into the ship’s flight deck at Luzon, South China Sea, during operations in the support of the invasion of Luzon. Released January 5, 1945. 80-G-273184

VC80s 23 on-board planes on Manila Bay when suicide plane hit, via her war diary in National Archives.

Within 24 hours she resumed limited air operations. Most repairs to her damaged electrical and communication circuits were completed by 9 January when the amphibious invasion in Lingayen Gulf got underway.

Manila Bay had 14 men killed and 52 wounded, but by 10 January she resumed full duty in support of the Lingayen Gulf operations,” notes DANFs. “In addition to providing air cover for the task force, her planes flew 104 sorties against targets in western Luzon. They gave effective close support for ground troops at Lingayen and San Fabian and bombed, rocketed, and strafed gun emplacements, buildings, truck convoys, and troop concentrations from Lingayen to Baguio.”

Sent stateside for repairs, Manila Bay was back in action off the coast of Okinawa by 13 June, launching rocket and strafing strikes in the Ryukyus. Then, given a break with a cruise to the Aleutians, she ended the war in support of occupation operations in northern Japan, dropping supplies to POWs.

Switching to Magic Carpet duty, Manila Bay landed her aircraft and made three runs from the Western Pacific to Pearl and San Francisco. By 27 January 1946, she was given orders for the peacetime East Coast and eventual lay up in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet, being decommissioned at Boston on 31 July.

Manila Bay received eight battle stars and the Navy Unit Commendation for her wartime service.

While some CVEs, typically late-war Bogue-class escort carriers, found use in Korea and Vietnam, primarily in as aircraft shuttles, the Casablancas remained at anchor growing rusty. Only five of the class saw any significant post-war service past 1946– USS Petrof Bay (CVE–80), Sitkoh Bay (CVE-86), Cape Esperance (CVE-88), Tripoli (CVE-64), and Corregidor (CVE-58)— typically as unarmed MSC-controlled aircraft ferries with a mostly civilian crew. Even this limited role would end by 1959.

Five of the 11 American carriers lost during WWII were sisterships of Manila Bay, earning the class the perhaps unfair nickname of “Kaiser’s Coffins.”

As a class, the remaining Casablancas were retyped as utility carriers (CVU) or aircraft ferry (AKV), which saw Manila Bay designated CVU‑61 on 12 June 1955 while still in mothballs.

USS Manila Bay CVE-61, USS Woolsey DD-437, USS Chenango CVE-28. USS Baldwin DD-624 South Boston Naval Annex Jul 1959. 19590700S-20

Subsequently, her name was struck from the Navy list 27 May 1958 and she was sold for scrap to Hugo New Corp., 2 September 1959, a fate largely shared by the rest of her class.

By 1969, no Casablancas would remain anywhere in the world.

There has not been a second Manila Bay on the Navy List.

I can’t find her bell, but much of her war diaries are available online at the National Archives.

As for her 1944-45 skipper, Fitzhugh Lee III, he was present at the signing of the Japanese Instrument of Surrender on September 2, 1945, aboard Missouri and would go on to retire as a Vice Admiral in 1962. He was a double Navy Cross recipient, both for his command of Manila Bay at the Battle of Samar and on her kamikaze strike. He passed in 1992 and is buried in Northern Virginia, naturally.

Specs:

Inboard and outboard profiles of a U.S. Navy Casablanca-class escort carrier, via Wiki Commons

Displacement: 7,800 long tons (7,900 t)
Length: 512 ft overall
Beam: 65 ft
Draft: 22 ft 6 in
Propulsion:
4 × 285 psi boilers 9,000 shp
2 × 5-cylinder reciprocating Skinner Unaflow engines
2 × screws
Speed: 19 kn
Range: 10,240 nmi at 10 kn
Complement:
Embarked Squadron: 50–56, Ship’s Crew: 860
Armament:
1 × 5 in/38 caliber dual-purpose gun
16 × 40 mm Bofors guns (8×2)
20 × 20 mm Oerlikon cannons (20×1)
Aircraft carried: 27

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Warship Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020: The Everlasting Albrecht Marsch

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 26, 2020: The Albrecht Marsch

Here we see the unique early casemate battleship SMS Erzherzog Albrecht of the Imperial and Royal Austro-Hungarian Navy, the K.u.K Kriegsmarine, in Pola (Pula), sometime between 1874 and 1892. Designed as a “kasemattschiff” with a ram bow, she was built to fight at the Battle of Lissa, which predated her by a decade. Nonetheless, the obsolete Austrian would endure for 83 years in one form or another and live through both World Wars.

Lissa– as those who are fans of ram bows on steam warships are aware– was the iconic naval action in 1866 between Austria and Italy in which the tactic of busting below-waterline holes in one’s enemy’s ships proved decisive. Sadly, for a generation of battleships that immediately followed, ramming never really proved effective in combat again, save for its use in the 20th Century by fast warships against very close submarines caught operating on the surface.

Illustration of the Austro-Hungarian ironclad SMS Erzherzog Albrecht under sail published in “Europe in Arms: The Austro-Hungarian Navy”. The Illustrated Naval and Military Magazine. London: W. H. Allen & Co. IV: 384. 1886, via Wiki Commons

Beyond her reinforced ram bow, Erzherzog Albrecht was a decent brawler for her era. Based on the design of her preceding half-sister, SMS Custoza, Kaiser Franz Josef’s newest battleship went 5,980-tons, was 295-feet overall in length and carried a battery of eight 9.25″/20 cal cast iron Krupp guns in a two-tiered casemate protected by up to eight inches of wrought iron armor backed by another 10 of teak wood.

Cast iron 21cm cannon at Krupps Steel Foundry Works Essen, 1868. It was cast from single casing

The twin-funneled SMS Custoza. She differed from Erzherzog Albrecht in the respect that she was slightly larger and carried a battery of eight 10-inch guns. Erzherzog Albrecht was a “budget” follow-on.

Designed by Obersten-Schiffbau-Ingeniuer Josef Ritter von Romako, who also crafted Custoza, the two half-sisters were the country’s first iron ships. Capable of making 12.8-knots on her steam plant, Erzherzog Albrecht had a hybrid sail rig, common for her era, on three masts. Built at Trieste, she was commissioned in the summer of 1874, birthed out into the Adriatic.

She was named for Hapsburg general and war hero, Archduke Albrecht, Duke of Teschen, the bespectacled victor in the battle of Custoza in 1866 over the Italians.

This guy.

Unlike most European powers, Austria fought no outright wars from 1866 until 1914, except for a low-key counter-insurgency campaign in the Balkans, a fact that translated to a relatively peaceful half-century for the K.u.K Kriegsmarine. With that, Erzherzog Albrecht spent her front-line career in a series of short cruises around the Mediterranean and its associated seas, with long periods in ordinary, swaying at her moorings.

Pola (Pula), the Navy Yard, Istria, Austro-Hungary, Detroit Publishing Co postcard, the 1890s, via LOC

The only time she fired her guns in anger was to bombard Bokelj rebel bands near Cattaro (Kotor), Dalmatia, in March 1882, a factor of using a hammer to crush a grape. The year before she was used in gunboat diplomacy to protest French expansion in Tunisia, calling at La Goulette (Halq al-Wadi) on the North African coast for several weeks.

Austrian steam ironclad SMS Erzherzog Albrecht with her naval ram before 1892

Modernized on numerous occasions between 1880 and 1893, she received additional small-caliber anti-torpedo boat guns as well as a quartet of 14-inch torpedo tubes while engineering updates swapped out her plant. She picked up watertight bulkheads for safety and an electrical system for lighting and communication, two things that didn’t exist when she was designed in 1868.

SMS Erzherzog Albrecht by Leopold_Wölfling via Austrian Archives

By 1908, the ram-bowed ship, with her then-quaint wood-backed wrought iron armor and stubby 24 cm/20 black powder breechloaders, was as obsolete as can be in the era of Dreadnoughts and she was semi-retired.

Renamed from the regal Erzherzog Albrecht to the more pedestrian Feuerspeier (fire gargoyle), she was tasked with operating as a naval artillery school ship in Pola. For this work, she was demasted and largely disarmed other than for training pieces.

FEUERSPEIER (Austrian schoolship, 1872-1946) former battleship ERZHERZOG ALBRECHT photographed while serving either as a naval artillery school ship from 1908-1915 or as an accommodation ship for crews of German submarines operating from Adriatic ports during 1915-1918. An Erzherzog Karl-class battleship appears in the left background. The stern of the artillery school ship ADRIA (ex-frigate RADETZKY, 1872-1920) appears to the right. The photograph was taken at Pola. Courtesy of Mr. Arrigo Barilli, Bologna, Italy. NH 75917

Erzherzog Albrecht/Feuerspeier was such a non-threat in Western circles that she was not listed in the 1914 edition of Janes, which ranked Austria-Hungary as a 7th rate naval power.

When the lights went out all over Europe in 1914, Erzherzog Albrecht/Feuerspeier continued her use as a school ship until the next summer, when she came to the next chapter of her career.

In June 1915, the Germans established U-Flottille Pola to help their submarine-poor Austrian brothers-in-arms and use the base in the Adriatic to raid the Allies in the Med. Using a mix of U-boats sailing directly from German ports and breaking through the Allied blockade, and small coastal type UB- and UC-boats, which were dissected and moved by rail to Pola for reassembly, the Germans at one time or another ran 45 boats through the port.

It was during this time that Erzherzog Albrecht/Feuerspeier became one of the accommodation ship/submarine tenders (mutterschiff) for this force of visiting sailors.

Austrian submarine loading torpedo (Osterreichisches Staatsarchiv 5.17)

Among the “aces” sailing from Pola was the famed Lothar von Arnauld de la Perière, considered the king of Great War U-boat skippers, who bagged 77 ships totaling 160,000 GRT in four months in 1916 alone.

Of interest, the Austrian martial musical Erzherzog Albrecht Marsch, by Viennese composer Karl Komzak, was used by German submariners in both World Wars as a sailing song to celebrate departures and arrivals of U-boats, a holdover of the Happy Pola times when Feuerspeier’s band would play the tune on such occasions. So much so that the music was used in Das Boot when the fictional U-96 leaves her pens for the Atlantic, then when she returns.

Nonetheless, once the war was over and both the Imperial German and Austrian navies– along with their empires– were consigned to the dustbin of history, and Erzherzog Albrecht/Feuerspeier was captured by the victorious Allies along with several floating relics and more modern U-boats in Pola, then part of the newly-established Yugoslavia.

Ex-Austrian ships at Pola, circa 1919. Surrendered ships photographed by Zimmer. The surface ships are probably the ex-torpedo gun-vessel SEBENICO (1882-1920) and the ex-submarine tender PELIKAN (1891-1920) behind her. The two submarines in the foreground are probably of the U-27 class (German UB-II type) and most of the others are probably of the U-10 (UB-I) class. The conning tower on the right probably belongs to U-5. Catalog #: NH 42825

Pola Harbor, Yugoslavia in the foreground are three ex-Austrian hulks: front to back, LACROMA (ex-TIGER, 1887-1920), CUSTOZZA (1872-1920), and BELLONA (ex-KAISER, 1872-1920). To their right are two US SC boats. In the upper left are four French ALGERIEN class destroyers: bow letters I, H, Q, and R. In the center are three Italian destroyers including one of the ALESSANDRO POERIO class. The photo was taken late 1919-early 1920. Description: Courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1983 NH 95006

In 1920, the old Austrian battleship was awarded to Italy as a war trophy under the terms of the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, aged 44, and was towed to Taranto where she was to be used as a tender under the name of Buttafuoco for the submarines of IV Gruppo.

She would continue in this task for another two decades, losing her name for the more generic designation of GM 64. (Her near-sister, SMS Custoza, was likewise awarded to the Italians but was quickly scrapped and never used.)

As in 1914, the 1945 edition of Janes neglected to list GM64/Buttafuoco under Italy’s entry, although such minor craft as 600-ton water tenders did make the cut.

GM 64 Buttafuoco (ex. Feuerspeier, ex. SMS Erzherzog Albrecht), Taranto, 1940

Italian submarines Giovanni da Procida and Ciro Menotti alongside GM 64, Taranto Mar 1941

An unidentified Italian submarine moored next to GM 64, Taranto 1941

In 1947, still in the Arsenale of Taranto, she was held as a floating hulk until it was decided to scrap the old girl in 1955.

GM 64 Buttafuoco (ex. Feuerspeier, ex. SMS Erzherzog Albrecht), Taranto, 1947 along with cluster of Italian subs

GM 64 Buttafuoco (ex. Feuerspeier, ex. SMS Erzherzog Albrecht), 1949

Her name has never been reissued.

In a hat tip to her Italian legacy, in 1996, a group of 11 winemakers joined to form the Buttafuoco Storico, with an ode to the former RN Buttafuoco of old.

Meanwhile, Chilean and Argentine U-boaters, err, submarinos, still reportedly sortie and arrive to the sound of the Erzherzog Albrecht Marsch.

Specs:

1874, left, 1892-1908, right

Displacement: 5,980 long tons
Length:
288 ft 3 in waterline
294 ft 3 in o/a
Beam: 56 ft 3 in
Draft: 22 ft
Propulsion:
8 boilers, one 2-cylinder Stabilimento Tecnico Triestino steam engine, one screw, 3,969 IHP
Ship rig as designed, schooner rig in practice
Speed: 12.84 knots
Endurance: 2300 @10kts on 500 tons of coal
Crew: 540
Armor:
Belt- Composite 8 inches iron/10-inches teak
Casemate- Composite 7 inches iron/8-inches teak
Armament:
(1874)
8 x 9.4″/20cal C.24 Krupp breechloaders
6 x 3.5″/22 Krupp breechloaders
2 x 2.8-inch Krupp breechloaders
(1892)
8 x 9.4″/20cal C.24 Krupp breechloaders
6 x 3.5″/22 Krupp breechloaders
2 x 2.8-inch Krupp breechloaders
2 x 2.59″/16 L18
9 x 47mm Hotchkiss RF
10 x 25mm Nordenfeldt RF
4 x 350mm torpedo tubes with Whitehead torpedoes

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

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

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

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

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