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The ‘Morg goes ‘back home’ (to Vietnam)

Morgenthau off Governors Island in New York Harbor circa 1970. Note the 5″/38 DP forward and the WTC in the background.

USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722), a 378-foot high endurance cutter, was commissioned in 1969 and, after nearly a half-century of service, including action in the Vietnam War, numerous major drug interdictions, law enforcement cases, and a variety of noteworthy rescues was taken out of U.S. service at Honolulu in April. Now, renamed CSB 8020, she was commissioned into the Coast Guard of Vietnam where she will continue her traditional mission under a red flag.

“This cutter provides a concrete and significant symbol of the U.S-Vietnam Comprehensive Partnership,” said U.S. Coast Guard Rear Adm. Michael J. Haycock, assistant commandant for acquisition and chief acquisition officer, in a statement. “The Coast Guard is honored to see this vessel continue to preserve global peace and prosperity as a part of the Vietnam coast guard.”

As part of Operation Market Time, Morgenthau was very active in the Vietnam War, conducting support for coastal patrol craft, naval gunfire support, and patrol duties off the coast of Vietnam in 1970-71. During her period in Market Time, she delivered 19 naval gunfire support missions on targets ashore, inspected 627 junks and sampans, and cruised 39,029 miles on patrol. In total, she fired 1,645 rounds from her main 5-inch gun, destroying 32 structures and 12 bunkers ashore.

Her crew also sank an armed North Vietnamese SL-8 trawler in a night surface action while it was trying to infiltrate the South Vietnam coastline.

Morgenthau later made Coast Guard history by being one of the first ships to have gender-integrated crews and captured a number of drug runners on the high seas. In short, she had an extensive and celebrated career.

USCGC Morgenthau (WHEC-722), a 378-foot high endurance cutter, by John Wisinski

The cutter was transferred in conjunction with an additional six smaller 45-foot patrol boats this week as tensions in the South China Sea between China and her neighbors escalate and Vietnam is now counted as a key U.S. ally in the region.

New Metal Sharks headed to Vietnam

This is not the first time the U.S. has helped rebuild the navies of former enemies. Among the first ships of the new Japanese and German fleets in the 1950s in the aftermath of World War II were loaned former U.S. Navy vessels.

Moving past equipping the Vietnamese coast guard, the Southeast Asian country is looking to pick up 100~ modern fighter-bombers “to replace its antiquated fleet of 144 Mikoyan MiG-21 Fishbeds and thirty-eight Sukhoi Su-22 Fitter strike aircraft.”

While some say competitors range from the Saab JAS-39E/F Gripen NG, Eurofighter Typhoon, Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and South Korea’s F/A-50 lightweight fighter, how much do you want to bet they may get 100 gently refirb’d surplus F-16C/Ds fresh from the boneyard.

Heck, we are using the F-16A/Bs as target drones at this point.

A QF-16 Full-Scale Aerial Target from the 82nd Aerial Targets Squadron flies over the Gulf of Mexico during its first unmanned flight at Tyndall Air Force Base Sept. 19. The 82nd ATRS operates the Department of Defense’s only full-scale aerial target program. The QF-16 will provide a more accurate representation of real world threats for testing and training. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. J. Scott Wilcox).

The sweepers Pelican 1917-2007, and no, that is not a bar of soap

The name “Pelican” in honor of the large and rather dopey seabird, has always been carried by a mine warfare vessel in the U.S. Navy.

USS PELICAN (AM-27) Caption: With PN-9 #1 on her fantail, after the unsuccessful San Francisco to Hawaii flight in early September 1925. The ship is going to Pearl Harbor Hawaii. Description: Catalog #: NH 44902

The first, AM-27/AVP-6, was a Lapwing-class minesweeper laid down 10 November 1917 at Gas Engine and Power Co., Morris Heights, New York. Commissioned a month prior to Armistice Day, she helped with the sweeping of the North Sea Mine Barrage and was almost blown sky high when a chain of six British mines exploded all around her on 9 July 1919. Heroically saved by her crew and responding ships, the beaten Pelican limped to Scapa and was repaired. Later converted to a seaplane tender, she served in both the Atlantic and Pacific in WWII (including work as a “Tuna boat” Q-ship) before being sold for scrap in November 1946 after 29 years service.

USS Pelican via Navsource

The second Pelican, (MSC(O)-32/AMS-32/YMS-441) was a YMS-1-class minesweeper built at Robert Jacob Inc. City Island, New York. Commisoned with a hull number only in 1945, she assumed Pelican‘s vacant moniker 18 February 1947. She supported the Eniwetok atomic bomb tests and then saw extensive service in the Korean War, including helping to clear the heavily mined port of Chinnampo. Taken out of service in 1955, she was loaned to Japan as the JDS Ogishima (MSC-659) for 13 years before striking in 1968.

The third Pelican, MHC-53, is an Osprey-class coastal minehunter built at the now-defunct Avondale Shipyard, Gulfport, Mississippi, launched 24 October 1992 and commisoned 18 November 1995. Based on the 164-foot Italian Lerici-class minehunters designed by Intermarine SpA in the early 1980s, and built in variants for Algeria, Finland, Malaysia, Nigeria, Australian and Thailand, the Osprey‘s were a good bit larger, at 188-feet overall but could float in just seven feet of water, enabling them to perform littoral sweeping and clear mines from inland waterways.

Below is a slice of her hull sandwich that I have, a two-inch-thick piece of green soap-colored carbon fiber-reinforced polymer resin that has the consistancy of a brick– and is non-magnetic.

The Osprey-class were the largest vessels built at the time, save for the eight-foot longer HMS Hunt-class minehunters, to have fiberglass hulls. This may have been surpassed since then by a mega yacht or two, but I doubt it as most of those are steel hulled.

While most countries still use their Lerci-class vessels (31 are afloat worldwide and Taiwan is building six more by 2023) the 12 Ospreys, after spending their time in the Reserves, were decommissoned 2006-2007 while still relatively young. Eight low-mileage Ospreys had either been transferred to or marked for transfer to other navies: two each to the Hellenic (Greek) Navy, Lithuanian Navy, Egyptian Navy, and Republic of China (Taiwan) Navy, anf four scrapped (!)

Pelican, struck from the Naval Register 16 March 2007, was commisoned by the Greeks as HS Evniki (M61) the same day, and she continues in active service.

Evinki, in the Corinth Canal that connects the Gulf of Corinth with the Saronic Gulf in the Aegean Sea. The rock walls, which rise 300 ft. above sea level, are at a near-vertical 80° angle.

Canadian grunt gear, 1900 edition

Here we see the barracks bedroll and equipment of a soldier based at Wellington Barracks, Halifax Citadel Hill, 1900, first packed then unpacked. Note the kit on the shelf in the first image.

Notman Studio, Nova Scotia Archives accession no. 1983-310 number 8570 negative N-1069

Note the Magazine Lee-Metford rifle (MLM) of Mr. James Paris Lee’s design. First produced in 1884, the 8-10 round bolt-gun was faster to work than its predecessors but was still black powder, firing the Cartridge .303 Mk I, and by the time this image was taken was already undergoing replacement with the Lee–Enfield.

During the time this image was taken, the Nova Scotia Company, the first group of local troops to serve abroad, had just left headed to the Boer War. The 1st battalion, Prince of Wales’s Leinster Regiment (Royal Canadians) was also relieved from duty at the garrison about this time for service overseas while a new unit was raised to watch over Halifax. The 3rd Battalion, Royal Canadian Regiment, consisting of 29 officers and 975 enlisted, was stood up at the Citadel on 25 March 1900 and remained in possession of the Citadel until 2 October 1902 when a detachment of the Royal Garrison Artillery arrived and the 3rd Battalion was disbanded. If you note the cap badge in the above image, it is of the RCR.


The Citadel, which had housed such famous regiments as the 78th Highlanders, was garrisoned by the British Army until 1906 and afterward by the Canadian Army throughout the First World War and is now maintained by Parks Canada.

As for 3 RCR, the unit at Halifax when the above images were taken, they are still around and were recently designated Canada’s first airmobile battalion, garrisoned at Petawawa.

Ballistic impressions

A Civil War-era .58 caliber star base 3-ringer Minie ball…now on my desk. Squee!

This is your typical Federal 3-ringer in “dropped” condition, with the star inside the base detailing its origin from the Washington Arsenal.

California-based Ballistic Impressions handcrafts everything from paperweights to earrings and cufflinks, all with bullets as the medium.

Jason Bell is the man behind the scenes at BI and over the past couple years he has crafted more than 800 creations, taking pride in the fact that he donates 20 percent of all profits to non-profit 501(c)(3) Mil/LE organizations.

I recently covered his work over at Guns.com which evolved into commissioning the above piece.

mRAC and cheese for mines anyone?

Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock is using what they term a Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (mRAC) demonstrator which “is a man-portable threat detection and localization system that utilizes an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor package to afford operators the ability to conduct an exploratory wide area search more efficiently.”

Or, put in a more basic description: a quadcopter with a magnetometer array linked to an iPad, which is pretty cool. They bill it as working the 0-40 foot surf/littoral area.

Above video shows it in use at the Ship-to-Shore Maneuver Exploration and Experimentation (S2ME2) Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) 2017 at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.

That’s a whole lotta brrt

Offical caption:

Aircraft from the 23d Wing conducted a surge exercise May 22, 2017, at Moody Air Force Base, Ga. The exercise was conducted in order to demonstrate the wing’s ability to rapidly deploy combat ready forces across the globe. The 23d Wing maintains and operates A-10C Thunderbolt IIs, HH-60G Pave Hawks, and HC-130J Combat King II aircraft for precision attack, personnel recovery and combat support worldwide.

2dMARDIV’s Gunner goes show and tell on suppressors

The 2nd Marine Division’s Gunner explains what’s up when it comes to the effectiveness of suppressors in an effort to dispell some myths.

The Marines have been spending a lot more quiet time with their suppressors lately and CW5 Christian P. Wade in the above video tackles some misconceptions about how they operate as part of the 2nd Marine Division’s “Ask the Gunner” segment on the unit’s social media page.

Wade uses a 10.5-inch barreled Mk18 just to rub it in that he is the Division Gunner and fires it unsuppressed through a chronograph, then adds a can and repeats the process with the same ammo.

“So, as you can see, you don’t suffer a defective range or lethality, or accuracy penalty by having a suppressor on your weapon,” says Wade after the results are in. “What we covered today was the principle question of putting a suppressor on your weapon and what that does to your capability. It increases your capability. And if nothing else, I want you to walk away with that. It doesn’t slow your bullets down, you literally have to use subsonic ammunition to lose that range and lethality capability. And we’re not doing that to it.”

End the end, he closes out with a forecast that could be good news to those in the Marines who would like to keep their new cans.

“Suppressors are a good thing, it increases your lethality, it makes you harder to kill, and you’re gonna get one here pretty soon,” says Wade.

Bonus for the cantaloupe takedown cutaway with the Magpul D60, btw.

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