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They always have you throw your shit on the ground in the parking lot before deployment

I give you the London Scottish Regiment, Kit inspection, Dorking. London, 1916:

The London Scottish were part-time territorials formed as the London Scottish Rifle Volunteers as part of the old Volunteer Force in 1859, sponsored by The Highland Society and The Caledonian Society of London, then later reformed after the Boer War as the London Regiment’s 14th Battalion.

1/14 was called up when the balloon went up in August 1914 which would make the above unit, 2/14, which embarked for France in June 1916. They later served in Salonika and Palestine.

During WWII, the unit raised three full battalions which saw extensive service.

Since 1992, they have formed A (London Scottish) Company of the London Regiment and serve to augment the Foot Guards on public duty, still wearing their kilts for special occasions.

Team Work Wins!

Here we see “Teamwork Wins!” by Roy Hull Still, from the 1918 U.S. War Department urging production on the Home Front.

Photo via National Association of Manufacturers photographs and audiovisual materials (Accession 1973.418), in Hagley’s Audiovisual collections. NY Hist Soc

The gun shown is the water-cooled belt-fed M1917 Browning machine gun, Uncle Sam’s 47-pound answer to the heavier British Vickers and German Maxim guns of similar layout. John Browing had worked on the design off and on for two decades before it went int production after a test at Springfield Armory the month after Wilson and Congress declared war on “The Hun.” Very reliable, Browning’s sustained fire machine gun chugged through 21,000-rounds of 30.06 M1906 Government ammo in 48 minutes without a stoppage.

A group of American soldiers poses with an M1917 Browning machine gun, c. 1917 notice holstered M1917 .45 revolvers, Brodie helmets and gas masks

While Colt, Remington, and Westinghouse all rushed the gun into production on large contracts, only something like 1,200 made it to the Western Front by Armistice Day, and most of those only in the last part of the war.

While largely replaced by the M1918 BAR and M1919 LMG in various forms (both also a Browning design), the old M1917 remained in a niche heavy machine gun role particularly in defensive operations (while Colt sold commercial models abroad) through WWII and Korea. For an example of just what they could do if used properly, see Gunnery Sergeant John Basilone.

As a result, the M1917, in turn, appeared on Victory Bond posters in WWII as well

In all, over 128,000 were produced for the U.S. alone.

As an example of the old beast still at work, see the below 1953 Army Big Picture film, “Soldier in Berlin” where at the 22:00~ mark the Berlin Brigade is shown on manoeuvres in the Grunewald forest with, among other things, a beautiful heavy machine gun platoon with a loadout of M1917A1’s on the line. Had the balloon gone up on WWIII, you can be sure they would have chattered until overrun or out of ammo.

The hefty water-cooled Browning remained in the arsenal until finally replaced by the M60.

Those thick metal doo-dads on the front of milsurp rifles

Ian with Forgotten Weapons (aka Gun Jesus) gives the low-down on stacking rods and swivels, for those who don’t know. You’d be surprised how many people do not.

Warship Wednesday, Jan. 10, 2018: Meiji’s favorite cruiser

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. 10, 2018: Meiji’s favorite cruiser

Photo by famed Boston Herald cameraman Leslie Jones via The Boston Public Library, colorized by my friend and the most excellent Postales Navales https://www.facebook.com/Postales-Navales-100381150365520/

Here we see the lead ship of her class of Japanese armored cruisers, IJN Asama, leaving Boston harbor for New York, 26 September 1927, during a happier time in Japanese-U.S. relations. She held her head high in three wars, taking on all comers, and in the end, from her award date to the time she was broken, she gave the Empire a full half-century of service.

Ordered as part of the “Six-Six Fleet” in the days immediately after the Japanese crushed the Manchu Chinese empire on the water in 1894-95, Asama (named after Mount Asama) and her sistership Tokiwa were ordered from Armstrong Whitworth in Britain.

Some 9,700-tons and carrying a mixture of Armstrong 8-inch/45cal main guns and Elswick 6″/40 secondaries, these two 21-knot cruisers were meant to scout for the new battleships also ordered from her London ally to counter the growing Imperial Russian Navy’s Pacific fleet– remember at the time the Tsar had just cheated the Japanese out of Port Arthur and was eyeing both Manchuria proper and Korea as well. They were designed by naval architect Sir Philip Watts as an update to his 8,600-ton Chilean cruiser O’Higgins.

Asama shortly on trials, 1899 NH 58986

ASAMA (Japanese cruiser, 1898-1947) Starboard bow view taken in British waters soon after completion in 1899. Description: Catalog #: NH 86665

Completed within six weeks of each other in the Spring of 1899, the two Japanese first-class cruisers were considered a success from the start– Asama made 22.1 knots on trials– and arrived at Yokosuka by Summer. Emperor Meiji himself, the nation’s 122nd, used Asama for his flagship during the Imperial Naval Review in 1900 and the ship was dispatched back to Britain two years later for the Coronation Review for King Edward VII at Spithead.

photograph (Q 22402) Japanese Cruiser ASAMA, 1902. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205262917

When war came she was in the vanguard.

The very first surface engagement of any significance, besides the opening raid on Port Arthur itself, saw Asama and a host of other cruisers under RADM Uryū Sotokichi confront the Russian cruiser Varyag and the gunboat Korietz in Chemulpo Bay, Korea on 9 February 1904.

Nihon kaigun daishori Banzaii! Battle of Chemulpo Bay 1904 Russian protected cruiser Varyag and the aging gunboat Korietz ablaze and sinking. Japanese cruisers Asama (foreground), Naniwa, Takachiho, Chiyoda, Akashi and Niitaka (by Kobayashi Kiyochika)

The action did not go well for the Russians, with both of the Tsar’s ships on the bottom at the end of the fight and no “official” casualties reported by the Japanese.

Asama later engaged the ships of the 1st Russian Pacific Squadron at the Battle of the Yellow Sea in August and the 2nd and 3rd Squadrons (the former Baltic Fleet) in the much more pivotal carnage of Tsushima. In the latter, she traded shots with the Russian battlewagon Oslyabya and came away with three 12-inch holes in her superstructure to show for it. Following the war, Meiji once again used Asama to review his victorious fleet in Tokyo Bay despite more powerful and modern ships being available for the task.

Her next war found Asama searching for German surface raiders and Adm. Von Spee’s Pacific Squadron in August 1914, a task that brought her across the Pacific and in close operation with British and French allies– as well as cautious Americans. In was in Mexican waters on 31 January 1915 that she holed herself and eventually grounded, her boiler room flooded.

Photographed off the Mexican Pacific coast (possibly Mazatlán) from aboard USS RALEIGH (C-8, 1892-1921). The original caption states, “RALEIGH standing by until ASAMA leaves harbor” and also that the ASAMA was aground. ASAMA does appear slightly down by the head here. Description: Catalog #: NH 93394

ASAMA (Japanese cruiser, 1898-1947) Port beam view. Probably taken during salvage operations in mid-1915 after ASAMA had grounded in San Bartolome Bay, California. Catalog #: NH 86657

It wasn’t until May that she was refloated with the help of a crew of shipwrights from Japan and, after more substantial repairs at the British naval base in Esquimalt BC, she limped into the Home Islands that December, her war effectively over until she could be completely refit and given new boilers, a job not completed until March 1917.

After the war, the historic ship was converted to a coast defense vessel to take away her cruiser classification (the Naval Treaties were afoot) with the resulting removal of most of her 8-inch and 6-inch guns. She then was tasked throughout the 1920s and 30s with a series of long-distance training cruises which saw her roam the globe– that is where our Boston picture at the top of the post comes from.

Photo by famed Boston Herald cameraman Leslie Jones via The Boston Public Library, showing Asama in Boston Harbor in front of the Custom House Tower, Sept 1927. This was during Prohibition and several USCG 75-foot cutters are seen in the foreground.

ASAMA (Japanese cruiser, 1898) Photographed during a visit to an American port between the wars. Note Naval ensign, also 8″ guns. National Archives 80-G-188754

ASAMA (Japanese cruiser, 1898-1947) Overhead view taken during coaling operations between 1922 and 1937.NH 86666

ASAMA (Japanese cruiser, 1898-1947) Caption: Starboard beam view took off Diamond Head, prior to 1937. Description: Catalog #: NH 86650

Then came the night of 13 October 1935, when, while operating in the Inland Sea north north-west of the Kurushima Strait, she ran aground again and was severely damaged. Though repaired, her hull was considered too battered to continue her training cruises and she was converted to a more sedate pierside role at Kure as a floating classroom for midshipmen.

When her third war came in 1941, she was used as a barracks ship and largely disarmed, her guns no doubt passed on to equip new and converted escort craft. She avoided destruction by the Allies and was captured at the end of the war, eventually stricken on 30 November 1945.

ASAMA (Japanese training ship, ex-CA) At Kure, circa October 1945. Collection of Captain D.L. Madeira, 1978. Catalog #: NH 86279

The old girl was towed away and scrapped locally in 1947 at the Innoshima shipyard.

Her sister, Tokiwa, was converted to a minelayer and sowed thousands of those deadly seeds across the Pacific. Up armed with batteries of AAA guns and air search radars, she made it through the war until 9 August 1945 when she was plastered by dive bombers from TF38 while in Northern Japan’s Mutsu Bay and beached to prevent losing her entirely. She was scrapped in Hokkaidō at the same time as Asama.

Specs:

ASAMA Port beam view. Probably taken between 1910 and 1918. Ship in background is cruiser TSUKUBA. NH 86654

Displacement: 9,514–9,557 long tons (9,667–9,710 t)
Length: 442 ft. 0 in (134.72 m) (o/a)
Beam: 67 ft. 2 in (20.48 m)
Draft: 24 ft. 3 in–24 ft. 5 in (7.4–7.43 m)
Installed power:
18,000 hip (13,000 kW)
12 Cylindrical boilers (replaced by 16 Miyabara boilers in 1917)
Propulsion:
2 Shafts
2 triple-expansion Humphry’s, Tennant steam engines
1406 tons coal
Speed: 21+ knots (39 km/h; 24 mph), 19 by 1904, 16 by 1933
Range: 10,000 nmi (19,000 km; 12,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph)
Complement: 676-726
Armament:
2 × twin 20.3 cm/45 Type 41 Armstrong naval guns
14 × single QF 6 inch /40 Elswick naval guns
12 × single QF 76mm (12 pounder) 12 cwt Armstrong naval guns
8 × single QF 3 pounder Hotchkiss guns
5 × single 457 mm (18.0 in) torpedo tubes, (1 bow, 4 beam) (removed 1917)
Armor: Harvey nickel steel
Waterline belt: 89–178 mm (3.5–7.0 in)
Deck: 51 mm (2.0 in)
Gun Turret: 160 mm (6.3 in)
Barbette: 152 mm (6.0 in)
Casemate: 51–152 mm (2.0–6.0 in)
Conning tower: 356 mm (14.0 in)
Bulkhead: 127 mm (5.0 in)

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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Warship Wednesday, Jan. 3, 2018: One of the luckier sugars

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. 3, 2018: One of the luckier sugars

Photo by famed Boston Herald cameraman Leslie Jones via The Boston Public Library, colorized by my friend and the most excellent Postales Navales https://www.facebook.com/Postales-Navales-100381150365520/

Here we see the somber crew of the early “Government-type” S-class diesel-electric submarine USS S-8 (SS-113) — back when the Navy just gave ’em numbers– as she pulls into Boston’s Charlestown Navy Yard some 90-years ago today: 3 January 1928, in the twilight of her career. They are no doubt still reeling from the loss of her close sister, S-4 (SS-109) just two weeks prior, to which the boat stood by to help rescue surviviors without success.

The S-class, or “Sugar” boats, were actually three different variants designed by Simon Lake Co, Electric Boat, and the Bureau of Construction and Repair (BuC&R) in the last days of the Great War in which U.S.-made submarines had a poor record. Looking for a better showing in these new boats, of which 65 were planned, and 51 completed in several subgroups. These small 1,000~ ton diesel-electrics took to the sea in the 1920s and they made up the backbone of the U.S. submarine fleet before the larger “fleet” type boats of the 1930s came online.

The hero of our tale, USS S-8, was 231-feet oal, could dive to 200 feet and travel at a blistering 15-knots on the surface on her twin MAN 8-cylinder 4-stroke direct-drive diesel engines and two Westinghouse electric motors for 11-knots submerged. Armament was a quartet of 21-inch bow tubes with a dozen fish and a 4″/50 cal popgun on deck for those special moments. Crew? Just 38 officers and men.

Her Government-type sister, USS S-4 (SS-109) Interior view, looking aft in the Crew’s Quarters (Battery Room), 25 December 1919. Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine. Note folding chairs and tables, coffee pot, Christmas decorations door to the Control Room. NH 41847

USS S-4 Description: (Submarine # 109) Interior view, looking forward in the Crew’s Quarters (Battery Room), 25 December 1919. Taken by the Portsmouth Navy Yard, Kittery, Maine. Note folding chairs, table, benches, and berths; also Christmas decorations. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 41848

S-8 was technically a war baby.  A BuC&R design Government-type boat, she was laid down 9 November 1918 at Portsmouth Navy Yard, just 48-hours before the Armistice. Commissioned 1 October 1920, she was attached along with several of her sister ships (including the ill-fated Portsmouth-built USS S-4 whose interior is above) to SubDiv 12 and, together with SubDiv18, sailed slowly and in formation from Maine via the Panama Canal to Cavite Naval Station with stops in California and Hawaii.

USS S-8 (SS-113) Underway during the 1920s. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 41749

In all, the journey from Portsmouth to the Philippines took a full year, but according to DANFS, “set a record for American submarines, at that time, as the longest cruise ever undertaken. Other submarines, which had operated on the Asiatic station prior to this, were transported overseas on the decks of colliers.”

S-8 and her sisters formed SubFlot 3, operating in the P.I. and the coast of China while forward deployed for three years, the salad days of her career.

USS S-8 (SS-113) At the Cavite Navy Yard, Philippine Islands, circa 1921-1924. Note the awning and the type’s “chisel” bow. Collection of Chief Engineman Virgil Breland, USN. Donated by Mrs. E.H. Breland, 1979. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 103259

Submarine tender USS Camden (AS-6) Photographed circa the middle or later 1920s, with ten S type submarines alongside. The submarines are (on Camden’s starboard side, from left to right): USS S-18 (SS-123); unidentified Electric Boat type S-boat; USS S-19 (SS-124); USS S-12 (SS-117); and an unidentified Government type S-boat. (on Camden’s port side, from left to right): unidentified Government type S-boat; USS S-7 (SS-112); USS S-8 (SS-113); USS S-9 (SS-114); and USS S-3 (SS-107). Note the awnings. Collection of Vice Admiral Dixwell Ketcham, USN. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 100459

By Christmas 1924, S-8 was at Mare Island, California and was a West Coast boat for a minute before chopping to the Panama Canal for a while.

Submarine tender USS Holland (AS-3) in the Canal Zone, with several S type submarines alongside, circa 1926. Note the Submarine Division Eleven insignia on the fairwaters of the two inboard subs. Submarines present are (from inboard to outboard): unidentified; USS S-25 (SS-130); USS S-7 (SS-112); USS S-4 (SS-109); USS S-6 (SS-111); and USS S-8 (SS-113). U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 53436

May 1927 found S-8 and several her SubFlot 3 alumni sisters stationed on the East Coast at the big submarine base in New London.

It was during this time that tragedy occurred off New England.

On 17 December 1927, sister USS S-4, while surfacing from a submerged run over the measured-mile off Provincetown, Cape Cod, Mass., was accidentally rammed and sunk by the U.S. Coast Guard-manned destroyer USS Paulding (DD-22/CG-17), killing all on board. An inquiry later absolved the Coast Guard of blame.

As noted by Naval History.org, “The two ships had no idea the other would be there.”

Per DANFS on the incident:

The only thing to surface, as Paulding stopped and lowered lifeboats, was a small amount of oil and air bubbles. Rescue and salvage operations were commenced, only to be thwarted by severe weather setting in. Gallant efforts were made to rescue six known survivors trapped in the forward torpedo room, who had exchanged a series of signals with divers, by tapping on the hull. However, despite the efforts, the men were lost. S-4 was finally raised on 17 March 1928 and towed to the Boston Navy Yard for drydocking. She was decommissioned on the 19th.

Diver descending on the wreck of the USS S-4 from USS Falcon (AM-28)

Half submerged S-4 sub after accident. Charlestown Navy Yard – Pier 4 Leslie Jones Boston Public Library 3 12 1928

USS S-4 Description: (SS-109) Interior of the Battery Room, looking aft and to port, 23 March 1928. Taken while she was in dry dock at the Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, Massachusetts, after being salvaged off Provincetown, Massachusetts, where she had been sunk in collision with USCGC Paulding on 17 December 1927. The irregular object running the length of the compartment, just above the lockers on the right (port) side, is the collapsed ventilator duct through which water entered the Control Room. Into this duct water forced the curtain and flag, which clogged the valve on the after side of the bulkhead, preventing it from closing. It was this water which forced the abandonment of the Control Room. S-4 flooded through a hole, made by Paulding’s bow, in the forward starboard side of the Battery Room. See Photo # NH 41847 and Photo # NH 41848 for photographs of the Battery Room, taken when S-4 was first completed. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 41833

SS-8 went to the aid of her sister, but it was to no avail.

Sub S-8 at the Navy Yard after standing by S-4 off Provincetown when she was rammed and sent to the bottom by USS Paulding. Leslie Jones, Boston Herald Photographer, via Boston Public Library collection.

U.S. sub S-8, Charlestown Navy Yard Jan 15, 1928. Leslie Jones, Boston Herald Photographer, via Boston Public Library collection.

U.S. sub S-8, Charlestown Navy Yard Jan 15, 1928. Leslie Jones, Boston Herald Photographer, via Boston Public Library collection.

With just a decade of service under their belt, the age of the Sugar boats was rapidly coming to an end as the Depression loomed, and precious Navy Department dollars were spent elsewhere on more modern designs. Three others of the class were lost in peacetime accidents– S-5, S-48, and S-51— while a number were scrapped wholesale in the 1930s.

Departing New London on 22 October 1930, S-8 sailed to Philadelphia where she was decommissioned on 11 April 1931.

Subs S-3/S-6/S-7/S-8/S-9 going out of commission at Philadelphia Navy Yard. Leslie Jones, Boston Herald Photographer, via Boston Public Library collection.

She was struck from the Navy list on 25 January 1937 and scrapped.

Though obsolete, several S-boats remained on the Navy List and served the Navy well in both the Atlantic and Pacific (including several lost to accidents) during WWII. A half-dozen were even transferred to the Royal Navy as Lend-Lease including class leader and former submersible aircraft carrier, USS S-1.

None of these hardy, if somewhat unlucky, craft endure though Pigboats.com keeps their memory alive.

Specs: (Government-type S-class boats which included USS S-4-9 & 14-17)


Displacement: 876 tons surfaced; 1,092 tons submerged
Length: 231 feet (70.4 m)
Beam: 21 feet 9 inches (6.6 m)
Draft: 13 feet 4 inches (4.1 m)
Propulsion: 2 × MAN diesels, 1,000 hp (746 kW) each; 2 × Westinghouse electric motors, 600 hp (447 kW) each; 120-cell Exide battery; two shafts.
Speed: 15 knots (28 km/h) surfaced; 11 knots (20 km/h) submerged
Bunkerage: 148 tons oil fuel
Range: 5,000 nautical miles (9,000 km) at 10 knots (19 km/h) surfaced
Test depth: 200 ft. (61 m)
Armament (as built): 4 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes (bow, 12 torpedoes)
1 × 4 inch (102 mm)/50 caliber Mark 9 “wet mount” deck gun
Crew: 38 (later 42) officers and men

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!

Greetings, 2018

Yet, I always feel a century or two behind…

 German sentry welcomes in the new year, 1918. Photo colourised artificially

German sentry welcomes in the new year, 1918. Photo colourised artificially

Warship Wednesday, Dec. 27, 2017: You just can’t keep those Cramp cruisers down

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, Dec. 27, 2017: You just can’t keep those Cramp cruisers down

NH 48569

Here we see, in her gleaming white-and-buff scheme with ornate bow scrolls, the one-of-a-kind protected cruiser TCG Mecidiye (also seen as Mecidiye or Medjidieh in the West and Medzhidiye in the East) of the Ottoman Navy in the yard of her builder, William Cramp & Sons, at Philadelphia in 1903. On the far left is a US armored cruiser of the California-class.

Cramp, perhaps the biggest name in iron shipbuilding on the East Coast for years was big in the biz of constructing cruisers both domestically and for overseas customers. Their first overseas customer for a warship, Russia, bought Yard#200, 203, 204 and 205, the “cruisers” (really just fast commercial liners converted with a few 4- and 6-inch guns) Asia, Africa, Evropa, and Zabiyaka in 1877 for use in that country’s war against the Ottoman Empire. They proved so good that the Russians kept them around for decades.

Imperial Russian cruiser Zabiyaka in Port Arthur, 1900. She was a Cramp cruiser with fine lines.

Just a few years later Cramp produced the first U.S. cruisers– USS Newark (C-1), Baltimore (C-3) and Philadelphia (C-4) — as well as the armored cruiser USS New York (ACR-2), followed by the protected cruisers Columbia (C-12) and Minneapolis (C-13). Japan in 1898 bought the 4,900-ton cruiser Kasagi from the Philadelphia ship maker while Russia purchased the 6,500-ton Varyag in 1900. Business was a boomin!

Then, in a fit of attempting to replace worn out 19th-century vessels, the Ottoman Navy in 1900 went looking for a pair of modern protected cruisers. From Armstrong in Newcastle, they ordered a 22-knot 3,900-ton British-designed cruiser to be named Abdül Hamid (later changed to Hamidiye) equipped with a pair of 150mm and 8x120mm guns. Then, (you have been waiting for this moment), from Cramp they ordered our vessel, the 3,900-ton Abdül Mecid (later changed to Mecidiye, which means “glory”– By note, the Order of Mecidiye, an Ottoman military decoration for honor and bravery instituted in 1851 by Sultan Abdulmejid and disestablished in 1922, is not related to the ship’s name–) in 1901.

While you would think since both ships are the same size and type and ordered while they were the same design– and you are absolutely wrong.

Mecidiye was its own ship altogether different from her step-sister Hamidiye. Whereas the British ship had two Hawthorn Leslie and Co VTE engines and 6 boilers on three shafts with an Armstrong-made main battery, the American ship had two VQE engines on 16 French-designed Niclausse boilers on two shafts with a Bethlehem main battery and Armstrong secondaries. Further, they had a slightly different topside appearance and endurance with Hamidiye having longer legs and a more reliable engineering plant. In the end, while the two shared the same broad design, Mecidiye was visibly shorter in profile and her trio of stacks was more robust, making it easy to tell the pair apart.

Ottoman cruisers Medjidie (Mecidiye, right) and Hamidie (Hamidiye, left) at Golden Horn in 1905. Note the difference in profiles, esp in Mecidiye’s thicker, stubbier stacks. Photo via Turkish Navy

The Ottoman fleet itself, according to the 1897 Naval Plan, would modernize several older armored warships, buy two new battleships, two new armored cruisers, two new light cruisers, and two new protected cruisers. However, only the two lowly protected cruisers managed to be funded.

Completed 19 December 1903, Mecidiye sailed off to join the Ottoman fleet as one of her proudest new vessels, literally making up half of the protected cruisers in service. Behind the old (c.1876) 9,000-ton coastal defense battleship Mesudiye and the two 10,000-ton former German pre-dreadnoughts Hayreddin Barbarossa (ex-Kurfurst Friedrich Wilhelm) and Turgut Reis (ex-Weissenburg), the two new Anglo-American cruisers were the best things in the Turkish fleet until German Admiral Wilhelm Souchon showed up in 1914.

Mecidiye and her step-sister were something of showboats before the Great War.

French postcard showing off the Ottoman fleet with the old German battleships center and the U.S. and British made protected cruisers to the far left and right respectively. Even in the postcard, you can see that Hamidie’s funnels are taller

French colored postcard The Cruiser Medjidie, c.1905 (Mecidiye Kruvazörü)

Medjidie french postcard

Ottoman Cruiser, Medjidie, Istanbul, 1903. Note her bow scrolls

During the First Balkan War in 1912, when the Greek Navy decided to try and muscle up against the Turks, Mecidiye had the distinction of being the first modern warship attacked by a locomotive torpedo while at sea when the primitive French-built Greek submarine Delfin (460-tons) fired a 450mm torpedo at the Turk’s Cramp cruiser just off the Dardanelles from a range of 800 meters on the morning of 9 December 1912. The torpedo reportedly broached and sailed past the cruiser without doing any damage.

She also took part in the naval skirmish at Elli the next week in the Aegean Sea and in the attempt to break the Greek blockade at Lemnos in 1913. In both instances, when pitted against the Hellenic fleet which included the bruising 10,000-ton Italian-made Pisa-class armored cruiser Georgios Averof, Mecidiye managed to come away unscathed. Hamidiye was not so lucky in the campaign and was damaged by a surface torpedo from Bulgarian torpedo boat Druzki off Varna.

Then came the Great War.

Although the Turks were forced into the war after Churchill seized their brand-new battleships fitting out in the UK and Souchon showed up to sleepwalk them into attacking the Russians in October 1914, the Ottomans rose to the fight with the old foe and both Hamidiye and Mecidiye, in conjunction with Souchon, sortied out that year and plastered the Russian ports of Feodosia, Yalta, Tuapse and Batumi, only narrowly dodging the Tsar’s Black Sea Fleet on several occasions.

Then, in April 1915, Hamidiye and Mecidiye set out with orders to conduct a pre-dawn Saturday morning raid on the well-protected Russian naval hub at Odessa. The port proved so well protected that Mecidiye hit an M08 mine and immediately sank in 35 feet of water. Hamidiye grabbed the survivors, left 30 dead behind for the Russians to bury ashore, and beat feet after sending a torpedo into the cruiser’s hull to make sure she remained the property of Davy Jones.

With the potential for a great trophy, the Russians immediately went to work on a salvage job. After all, it’s not every day that a scratch and dent American-made cruiser gets dropped off in your front yard.

Introduce the dive master

Lt. Feoktist Andreevich Shpakovich, a noted diver, and rescue specialist in the Black Sea Fleet. Born in 1879, Shpakovich joined the Navy after he was forced to drop out of engineering school due to family issues and by 1906 was a warrant officer in the diving detachment in Sevastopol. Fast forward a few years and he received his commission after completing courses in St. Petersburg and by 1909 was head of the operation to examine the lost Russian submarine Kambala, sunk in collision with the battleship Rostislav.

Just a week after the Mecidiye sank, Shpakovich and his team were assembled and diving on the wreck.

Divers on the Medjidie In the cap – diving officer FA. Shpakovich

Drawing of damages of the cruiser Medzhidiye by diver officer Shpakovitch

They found two 30-foot holes but little other damage and soon went about patching and pumping– a process that took two months before her keel was afloat again (though drawing 25-feet of water) and Russian navy tugs pulled her into dock on 25 May, to the salutes of shore batteries and ships alike as the full assembled bands of the fleet played. Soon a cofferdam and dry dock were arranged, and she was to be refitted.

Her mixed American armament was ditched for a set of 10 good Pulitov 130mm L/55 guns, four high-angle 76mm Canets and a few machien guns, her boilers cobbled back together at the Ropit Yard with spec-made tubes, and she was commissioned in October 1915 as Prut (Прут), named after the C.1878 Russian minelayer scuttled after a surface action to Goeben one year previously.

Prut Medzhidiye in Russian service

“Turkish Cruiser Mecidiye – sunk in the Black Sea, has been raised by the Russians and refitted.” Via Pathe

Notably, though she did make at least one cruise to Turkish waters to bombard the Anatolian coast, she was in poor condition, only capable of 18-knots and that for brief periods, and the Russians largely left her in harbor for the rest of the war. The Tsar ordered a set of new boilers from the U.S. for her in 1916 and, according to some sources, they made it as far as Murmansk but were never installed.

Russian War Ships at Batum on The Black Sea in 1916. Caption: Three vessels together from left: –gunboat KUBANEZ (1887-ca. 1930 later KRASMY KUBANEZ); battleship ROSTISLAV (1896-1922); and in right background: –cruiser PRUT (ex-Turkish MEDJIDIEH, 1903, sunk 1915 and salvaged). Courtesy of Mr. Boris V. Drashpil of Margate, Fla., 1893 Catalog #: NH 94411

Russian War Ships at Novorossiysk on The Black Sea in 1916. Caption: Three ships together in 1916, from left: seaplane carrier IMPERATOR NIKOLAI I (1913-1942); Seaplane carrier IMPERATOR ALEKSANDRI (1913-1942); protected cruiser PRUT (1903, ex -TURKISH MEDJIDIEH, salvaged 1915-1916 after mining. Description: Courtesy of Mr. Boris V. Drashpil of Margate, Fla., 1893 Catalog #: NH 94409

Then, with the Bolsheviks knocking the country out of the conflict, the Germans marched into Sevastopol in May 1918 and promptly ordered the Russians to amscray from their trophy ship, which was then towed back across the Black Sea to her original owners.

The war soon ended and the Ottoman fleet’s operations were substantially limited as the Allies kept the few working warships inactive in the Golden Horn under the watchful eyes of occupying forces, though they were later restored to the navy of the new Republic of Turkey.

Sinope, Turkey as seen from cruiser USS OLYMPIA in 1919-1920. A Turkish Cruiser in full dress is on the right, possibly Mecidiye. Description: Catalog #: NH 63466

Too worn out to participate in the conflict with Greece (1919-22), Mecidiye was patched up for use as a training hulk with a diminished armament, though a 1927 refit at Gölcük Naval Shipyard through the use of a new floating drydock and included a new set of American-made Babcock & Wilcox boilers returned her to a modicum of regular use.

Hamidiye (L), Mecidiye (R) at Zonguldak in 1930. Again, note the differences in stacks. Also, note the diminished armament

Turkish cruiser Mecidiye in Istanbul, 1932.

However, by WWII, she was static again and used as a cadet training ship along with Hamidiye, obsolete and totally without any AAA defenses. The modern Turkish Republic avoided picking sides in the latter world war until they jumped on the Allied bandwagon about six weeks before Hitler took his own life. Of the 4,800~ men of the Turkish Navy, none fell in WWII.

The Turkish cruiser Mecidiye as cadet training ship 1940s Note she only has 4 guns fitted U.S. Navy All Hands magazine April 1948,

Both ships were stricken in 1947 as the fleet, now a UN and soon to be a NATO member, received surplus U.S. ships in quantity, with Mecidiye dismantled in 1956 and her half-sister following in 1964. Neither ship’s name is on the current naval list of the Turkish Navy.

The ship in some ways is also very well remembered in Russian and Ukraine. Shpakovich, the salvor of “Prut” later searched for the lost British storeship HMS Prince off Balaklava, hid most of his unit’s gear underwater when the Germans came in to the Crimea in 1918 then used some of it later to establish the Red Navy’s EPRON– Special-Purpose Underwater Rescue Party– group of underwater submarine rescue and salvage unit while crafting the manuals for the service’s dive training school.

EPRON divers in the Crimea, 1923. Shpakovich is front and center

He went on and raise the scuttled Bars-class submarines Gagara, Ledbed and Pelikan in 1924 and continued such operations throughout the 1930s, as his team salvaged several of the Russian wrecks in the Baltic and the Black Sea left over from the Great War and Civil War before retiring as a Captain, 1st Rank and wore several Orders of Lenin, Red Banner, and Labor. He survived all the purges–rare for a former Tsarist officer– and died in 1964 at age 85. He is remembered as the founding grandfather of the Russian Navy’s deep-water hardhat divers, with over 10,000 hours in his logbook spent underwater.

Combrig, the largest producer of models of Russian warships in the world, has made a model of her as both Mecidiye and Prut.

As for Cramp, they continued making cruisers, as well as other ships of course, with the last one they worked on being Yard#536, the USS Galveston (CL-93/CLG-3), which was the last Cramp ship completed in 1958, long after the yard suspended operations. She remained in service until 1970, one of the last big-gun cruisers in any fleet. The end of an era, indeed.

Specs:

TCG Mecidiye 1903 (Protected Cruiser), Aka Russian cruiser Prut, via Combrig, click to big up

Displacement:
3,485 t (normal draught)
3,967 t (full load)
Length:
336 ft. (LOA)
330 ft.) (LPP)
Beam: 42 ft.
Draught: 16 ft.
Speed:22 knots (full speed in trials)
18 knots Russian service
Complement:
302 (1903)
355 (1915)
268 (1916, Russian)
310 (1936)
Armament (Turkish 1901-1915)
2 × 152 mm Bethlehem QF L/45 guns, singles forward
8 × 120 mm Armstrong QF L/45 guns, singles casemate
6 × 47 mm Vickers QF guns
6 × 37mm Vickers QF guns
2 × 457 mm torpedo tubes
Armament (Russian 1916-18)
10 × 130/55 cal guns (later reduced to 8)
4 × 75/30 Schneider high-angle guns
4x 7.62mm MG
Armament (Turkish, 1927-47)
4 × 130/55 cal guns
4 × 7/30 Schneider high-angle guns

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