Category Archives: World War Two

Bombarding Force ‘C’

Allied warships of Bombarding Force C, which supported the landings in the Omaha Beach area on June 6, 1944. The column is led by USS Texas (Battleship No. 35) (left), still with her 1930s mast houses, with the British Town-class light cruiser HMS Glasgow (C21), USS Arkansas (Battleship No. 33), Free French cruisers George Leygues and Montcalm following. The picture was taken from the Captain-class frigate/Buckley-class destroyer escort HMS Holmes (K581).

IWM – McNeill, M H A (Lt) Photographer

The Texas group would provide gunfire to open Dog one exit in Vierville-sur-Mer and support the Rangers attempting to destroy enemy guns at Pointe du Hoc, and remain offshore for the next ten days until the battle moved inland.

D-Day Map showing Firing Plan from USS Texas (BB-35) NHHC_1969-232-A_full

By the 15th, Texas had to flood compartments to create a list, upping the elevation of her guns enough to make the German lines near Isigny and Carentan.

Texas (and Arkansas) would come off the gun line at Normandy without a scratch only to grapple with the much more accurate 11-inch guns of Marine-Küsten-Batterie Hamburg off German-occupied Cherbourg three weeks later, costing the life of Texas helmsman Chris Christiansen and wounded 11 others. HMS Glasgow would be so badly damaged off Cherbourg that she would spend the next year in refit and repair, only steaming to join the British Pacific Fleet in August 1945.

However, that didn’t put the old American Great War-era dreadnought on the sidelines, as both Texas and Arkansas would steam to the Med where they bombarded the French Riviera during the Dragoon landings (Texas sent another 172 rounds of 14-inch and 171 of 3-inch into the Old Republic that August) and then to Iwo Jima (where Texas fired 923 rounds of 14-inch and 967 of 5-inch between 16 and 21 February 1945) and spend seven weeks in March and April off Okinawa (Texas: 2,019 14-inch, 2,640 5-inch, 490 3-inch, 3,100 40mm and 2,275 20mm rounds against air and shore targets).

Buffalo Drivers

Some 80 years ago today.

Finnish Airforce officers, fresh graduates of fighter pilot course, 5th of June 1943, at Vesivehmaa, a village outside of Lahti, with a German shepherd mascot on the wing. Note their m/36 cavalry jodhpur-style officers’ breeches, complete with stripes.

Finnish offical caption: ‘Ohjaajakurssin päättäneitä upseereja, jotka odottavat siirtoa rintamalaivueisiin.” Sa-kuva image no. 129783. Photographer: Sot.virk. A.Viitasalo

Yes, that is a Brewster Buffalo. The Finns received 44 in 1940 and, by all accounts, they accounted for over 400 “kills” against the Reds. The humble aircraft had a lot of nicknames with the service, including Lentävä kaljapullo (“flying beer bottle”).

The Ilmavoimat, or Finnish Air Force, has its roots in the old Imperial Russian Army’s air corps and sprang to life roughly 105 years ago at the country’s independence from the failing old Empire, using both inherited Tsarist and donated Swedish crews and aircraft.

The small but hearty force has earned a solid reputation fighting first the Reds in 1918 and later the Soviets in the 1939-40 Winter War (using such quaintly obsolete aircraft as Brewster Buffalos, Bristol Bulldogs, Fokker D.XXIs, and Gloster Gladiators) and WWII, which, as they largely just fought the Soviets again, they termed “The Continuation War.”

The Finns, even with a tiny air corps and beat-up planes chalked up nearly 100 aces in WWII, including “Illu” Ilmari Eino Ilmari Juutilainen, the highest (non-German) ace of the war.

Of note, the excellent Päijät-Häme aviation museum now uses the old WWII airstrip at Vesivehmaa picture above. Sadly, while they have about a dozen former Ilmavoimat-operated aircraft, all date from post-1950, and they have no Brewsters as only eight survived the war in Finnish service and the final five in operating condition were scrapped in 1948.

Warship Wednesday, May 31, 2023: USS Fallout

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, May 31, 2023: USS Fallout

Photo courtesy Jim Merritt.


Above we see a great 1968 image of the Edsall-class destroyer escort-turned-radar picket, USS Falgout (DER-324) with a bone in her teeth during a Westpac deployment. Some 25 years old at the time, of note her christening occurred 80 years ago this week. 

A vessel that saw combat against the Germans while on convoy duty during WWII, she would continue to serve in Korea and as a Cold Warrior, seeing the atomic starburst no less than nine times.

The Edsall class

A total of 85 Edsall-class destroyer escorts were cranked out in four different yards in the heyday of World War II rapid production with class leader USS Edsall (DE-129) laid down 2 July 1942 and last of class USS Holder (DE-401) commissioned 18 January 1944– in all some four score ships built in 19 months. The Arsenal of Democracy at work–building tin cans faster than the U-boats and Kamikazes could send them to Davy Jones.

The U.S. Navy destroyer escort USS Edsall (DE-129) underway near Ambrose Light just outside New York Harbor on 25 February 1945. The photo was taken by a blimp from squadron ZP-12. Edsall is painted in Camouflage Measure 32, Design 3D. U.S. Navy photo 80-G-306257

These 1,590-ton expendable escorts were based on their predecessors, the very successful Cannon-class boats but used an FMR type (Fairbanks-Morse reduction-geared diesel drive) propulsion suite whereas the only slightly less prolific Cannons used a DET (Diesel Electric Tandem) drive. Apples to oranges.

edsallArmed with enough popguns (3×3″/50s, 2x40mm, 8x20mm) to keep aircraft and small craft at bay, they could plug a torpedo into a passing enemy cruiser from one of their trio of above-deck 21-inch tubes, or maul a submarine with any number of ASW weapons including depth charges and Hedgehogs. Too slow for active fleet operations (21 knots) they were designed for coastal patrol (could float in just 125 inches of seawater), sub-chasing, and convoy escorts.

Meet Falgout

The hero of our story, USS Falgout, is the only ship named for Seaman 2c George Irvin Falgout, a resident of Raceland, Louisiana who was a posthumous recipient of the Navy Cros for his actions while serving on the heavily damaged cruiser, USS San Francisco (CA-38) at Guadalcanal in November 1942. Falgout reportedly “remained at his gun, blazing away at a Japanese aircraft until it crashed his station.”

His citation:

The only ship named in his honor was constructed by Consolidated Steel Corp, Ltd., Orange, Texas (all the Edsalls were built at one of two Texas Gulf Coast yards) and sponsored at launch by his sister, Mrs. H. J. Guidry. She was commissioned on 15 November 1943 with an all-Coast Guard crew under CDR Henry A Meyer, a Coast Guard regular who earned his first thin gold stripe in 1931.

The CNO, ADM Ernest J. King, had, in June 1943, ordered the Coast Guard to staff and operate 30 new (mostly Edsall-class) destroyer escorts on Atlantic ASW duties, trained especially at the Submarine Training Centers at Miami and Norfolk. Each would be crewed by 11 officers and 166 NCOs/enlisted, translating to a need for 5,310 men, all told.

By November 1943, it had been accomplished! Quite a feat.

The USCG-manned DEs would be grouped in five Escort Divisions of a half dozen ships each, 23 of which were Edsalls:

  • Escort Division 20–Marchand, Hurst, Camp, Crow, Pettie, Ricketts.
  • Escort Division 22–Poole, Peterson, Harveson, Joyce, Kirkpatrick, Leopold.
  • Escort Division 23–Sellstrom, Ramsden, Mills, Rhodes, Richey, Savage.
  • Escort Division 45–Vance, Lansing, Durant, Calcaterra, Chambers, Morrill.
  • Escort Division 46–Menges, Mosley, Newell, Pride, Falgout, Lowe.

These ships were soon facing off with the Germans in the Atlantic and Mediterranean.

Following shakedown along the East Coast and the Caribbean– where Falgout picked up 11 survivors from the American tanker Touchet that was torpedoed and sunk on 3 December 1943 by German U-boat U-193— our new destroyer escort was bound for the Med in February 1944 as part of the escort of Convoy UGS 32 to Casablanca, and returned to New York with GUS 31.

Then came Convoy UGS 38 out of Hampton Roads to Bizerte in Tunisia in April. This crossing proved much more contentious and suffered from German air attacks by waves of Junkers and Heinkel bombers with the Benson-class destroyer USS Landsdale (DD-426) sunk after hits from torpedo-carrying Ju 88s on the night of the 20th. Falgout expended no less than 600 rounds of 20mm and 16 rounds of 40mm on bombers that came close enough to swat.

While on the next homeward bound convoy, GUS 39, Falgout’s sistership USS Menges (DE 320), was hit by a G7es acoustic torpedo from U-371 on 3 May. The German fish destroyed a third of the tin can, and created casualties of a third of the ship’s crew but would amazingly survive the war. Just two nights later, the Buckley-class destroyer escort USS Fechteler (DE-157), would be sunk near Falgout by German submarine U-967, with the bulk of the crew rescued.

Not all the Coast Guard-manned DEs would come through to VE-Day. USS Leopold (DE-319) of CortDiv 22 was torpedoed by U-255 and later sank in the North Atlantic, 400 miles south of Iceland on 10 March 1944, with a loss of 13 officers and 158 men. Two other classmates with Navy crews, USS Frederick C. Davis (DE-136) and USS Fiske (DE-143), would also be lost in the Atlantic to U-boats.

Falgout would make two further roundtrips to Bizerte and back followed by three to Oran and back, although not coming as close to death as on UGS 38/GUS 39. Notably, however, she did pluck four Ju88 crewmembers from the water following a raid on GUS 45 in July 1944.

USS HAMUL (AD-20) Caption: At Bermuda in early 1944, while serving as flagship of the DD-DE shakedown group (CTG-23.1). Alongside are: CALCATERA (DE-390), PRIDE (DE-323), FALGOUT (DE-324), ALGER (DE-101), and EICHENBERGER (DE-202). Description: Collection of Captain D.L. Madeira, 1978. Catalog #: NH 86271

She was in Oran when the news of the German surrender was received.

Her final WWII skipper was a young LCDR Henry C Keene, Jr.,(USCGA 1941), who had been aboard the Treasury-class cutter USCGC Bibb (WPG-31) earlier in the war when that vessel plucked 235 survivors (and a dog) from U-boat-infested waters in the North Atlantic. Keene would later retire in 1965 as commander of Ketchikan CG Base and go on to be a noted Superior Court judge in Alaska. Meanwhile, the good CDR Meyer, who was the greyhound’s first commander, would continue his career with the Coast Guard for at least until 1956, retiring sometime later as a full captain.

For her 14 convoys, Falgout received one battle star for her wartime service, her only casualty being EM3c James G. O’Brien who died in a 1944 accident while on libo in Casablanca, falling from a second-story window.

After limited post-war service, during which she spent most of 1946 “in commission, in reserve” in Charleston with a caretaker crew (the USCG was returned to the Treasury Department in December 1945, and most of its wartime personnel discharged and Navy-owned ships returned) Falgout was classified “out of commission, in reserve” 18 April 1947 and lowered her flag.

The Edsall class, 1946 Janes.

Break out the white paint.

With the dramatic surge in air and maritime traffic across some downright vacant stretches of the Pacific that came with the Korean War, the USCG was again tapped to man a growing series of Ocean Stations. Two had been formed after WWII and the Navy added another three in 1950, bringing the total to five.

These stations would serve both a meteorological purpose– with U.S. Weather Bureau personnel embarked– as well as serve as floating checkpoints for military and commercial maritime and air traffic and communication “relay” stations for aircraft on transoceanic flights crisscrossing the Pacific. Further, they provided an emergency ditch option for aircraft (a concept that had already been proved by the Bermuda Sky Queen rescue in 1947, which saw all 69 passengers and crew rescued by the cutter Bibb.)

As detailed by Scott Price in The Forgotten Service in the Forgotten War, these stations were no picnic, with the average cutter logging 4,000 miles and as many as 320 radar fixes while serving upwards of 700 hours on station.

Ocean station duty could be monotonous at one moment and terrifying the next, as the vessels rode out storms that made the saltiest sailors green. One crew member noted: “After twenty-one days of being slammed around by rough cold sea swells 20 to 50 feet high, and wild winds hitting gale force at times, within an ocean grid the size of a postage stamp, you can stand any kind of duty.”

A typical tour was composed of arriving at Midway Island for three weeks on SAR standby, three weeks on Ocean Station Victor midway between Japan and the Aleutian Islands, three weeks on SAR standby at Guam, two weeks “R and R” in Japan, three weeks on Ocean Station Sugar, three weeks on SAR standby Adak, Alaska, and then back to home port.

To stand post on these new ocean stations and backfill for other cutters detailed to the role, the Navy lent the USCG 12 mothballed Edsalls (Newell, Falgout, Lowe, Finch, Koiner, Foster, Ramsden, Rickey, Vance, Lansing, Durant, and Chambers), nine of which the service had originally operated during WWII.

To man these extra vessels and fill other wartime roles such as establishing new LORAN stations and pulling port security, the USCG almost doubled in size from just over 18,000 to 35,082 in 1952.

The conversion to Coast Guard service included a white paint scheme, an aft weather balloon shelter (they would have to launch three balloons a day in all sea states), and the fitting of a 31-foot self-bailing motor surfboat for rescues in heavy weather. The USCG designator “W” was added to the hull number, as was the number 100, therefore, our vessel went from USS Falgout (DE-324) to USCGC Falgout (WDE-424).

Falgout’s sister, the Edsall-class USS Durant (DE-389/WDE-489/DER-389) in her Coast Guard livery. Note the WWII AAA suite is still intact. Falgout carried the same white and buff scheme.

Falgout was on loan to the Coast Guard between 24 August 1951– the second Edsall so converted– and 21 May 1954, in commission for duty as an ocean station vessel out of Tacoma, Washington.

Schenia notes that she pulled eight patrols in this period including two on OS Queen, two on OS Sugar, one on OS Nan, and two on OS Victor in addition to serving as the policing cutter for the International Cruiser Race Regatta in British Columbia in 1952 and the Lake Washington Gold Cup Race in 1953.

Besides nine Edsalls, two similarly loaned ex-Navy seaplane tenders, two 180-foot buoy tenders, and nine existing 255-foot/327-foot Coast Guard cutters also clocked in on Pacific Ocean station detail, with a total of 22 vessels and their crews earning the Korean Service Medal during the conflict. The Pacific Ocean station cutters in all assisted over 20 merchant and Navy vessels in distress, including one transoceanic airliner during the war.

The USCG-manned Edsalls were all retrograded to the Navy in 1954, with the last, Chambers, striking 30 July. It turned out that the Navy had other plans for these humble vessels, now double war vets.


Falgout, laid back up after her 32 months of USCG service during Korea, was picked to become a radar picket ship, and given a new lease on life, reclassified into the Navy at Mare Island on 28 October 1954 as DER-324.

The DER program filled an early gap in the continental air defense system by placing a string of ships as sea-based radar platforms to provide a distant early warning line to possible attack from the Soviets. The Pacific had up to 11 picket stations while the Atlantic had as many as nine. A dozen DEs became DERs (including Falgout) through the addition of SPS-6 and SPS-8 air search radars to help man these DEW lines as the Atlantic Barrier became fully operational in 1956 and the Pacific Barrier (which Falgout took part in) by 1958.

To make room for the extra topside weight of the big radars, they gave up most of their WWII armament, keeping only their Hedgehog ASW device and two Mark 34 3-inch guns with aluminum and fiberglass weather shields.

DER conversion of Edsall (FMR) class ships reproduced from Peter Elliot’s American Destroyer Escorts of WWII

Detail of masts. Note the WWII AAA suite, one of the 3″ guns, and centerline 21-inch tubes have been landed

Her conversion complete, Falgout was recommissioned on 30 June 1955.

30 June 1955: Mare Island NSY, Vallejo, Cal. – Radm. Frederick L. Entwistle, USN (Commander, Mare Island Naval Shipyard) is commissioning speaker at the ceremony marking USS Falgout’s re-commissioning. Lcdr. Walter P. Smiley is on the far right of the photo. (U.S. Navy photo #DER-324-063055-1TH) via Darryl Baker, Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum, via Navsource.

30 June 1955: Mare Island NSY, Vallejo, Cal. – Colors are raised aboard USS Falgout at Mare Island after her conversion at the shipyard. (U.S. Navy photo #DER-324-063055-3TH) via Darryl Baker, Vallejo Naval & Historical Museum, via Navsource.

She was assigned to Seattle as a homeport, with orders coming from the Continental Air Defense Command, heading out to serve regular radar picket in the Early Warning System.

USS Falgout (DER 324) underway

In March 1959, this changed to duty out of Pearl Harbor.

On 31 January 1961, she received her 10th skipper, LCDR Samuel Lee Gravely Jr., a mustang who enlisted in 1942 and went through NROTC in 1944 to earn his commission. Gravely had previously served on USS PC-1264 in WWII, then aboard the battleship USS Iowa during Korea and the cruiser USS Toledo (CA-133), and served as executive officer and acting commander of the destroyer USS Theodore E. Chandler (DD-717) immediately before taking command of Falgout. This act, noted by the NHHC, put Gravely as the first African-American to command a combat ship.


In late 1962, Falgout, with Gravely as skipper, was detailed to Joint Task Force 8, operating out of Pearl Harbor, for Operation Dominic.

Sparked by the Soviet resumption of nuclear testing after the 1958–1961 moratorium, Dominic would see no less than 31 air dropped, high-altitude rocket, parachuted, and underwater tests of prototype and existing weapons (including the first Polaris SLBM war shot) carried out over the Eastern Pacific spanning from the coast of California to Christmas and Johnston Island.

Falgout would closely participate (sometimes within 90 miles of the detonation) in at least nine of these tests, all off Johnston Island as part of TU 8.3.6, while she would be a more distant weather ship (over 500 miles away) for much of the remainder of the other tests, in the latter tasked with chasing off Soviet spy trawlers.

The Defense Nuclear Agency’s 432-page report on Operation Dominic I compiled in 1983, has the below rundown of Falgout’s nine hottest experiences:

Notably, of the more than 80 Army, Navy, and Coast Guard vessels that took part in or supported Dominic I, only 16, Falgout included, had personnel with “suspect” radiological film badges.

And the detonation maps for Tightrope (Operation Fishbowl, less than 20 kt), Housatonic (9.96 Mt), Calamity (800 Kt), Chama (1.6 Mt), and Bumping (11.3 Kt):

Dominic Chama blast, 18 October. B-52 Airdrop; 11,970 Feet detonation. This was a free-fall LASL test of the Thumbelina device in an Mk-36 drop case. 

Another shot of Chama. This was a test of a lightweight small-diameter device, possibly a replacement for the W-38 (the 2-4 Mt warhead for the Atlas and Titan I missiles). The results are variously described as “thoroughly successful” while the yield was reported to be below the predicted value.

Tightrope. Nike Hercules Missile Airburst; 69,000 Feet. Carrying the LASL-designed W-31 air defense warhead.

Continued service

Brushing the dust off Dominic off her decks, Falgout would continue to be based out of Pearl for the rest of the decade.

USS Falgout (DER 324) at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard, June 1963

DE-397 Wilhoite Feb 1966 Pearl Harbor with Falgout DER 324

From 1966 to 1969 Falgout rotated to service along the coast of Vietnam where she served in Operation Market Time, attempting to interdict Viet Cong maritime traffic. This would include the TEE SHOT V operation which saw our tin can serve as a mother ship in Qui Nhon Bay to two 50-foot PCFs including berthing for two spare PCF crews.

A stalwart of the Brown Water Navy in Vietnam: the PCF. Here, PCF-94 of Coastal Division 11in the Gulf of Thailand, March 1968. USN 1130655

As detailed by NHHC, TEE SHOT V “was established in the coastal area from Dong Phu village south to Chanh Oai village to detect and capture or destroy any hostile craft attempting to exfiltrate the area…During the operation a total of 2,448 junks were detected, 1,210 inspected and 484 boarded. Twenty-three persons and six junks with a total of seventeen tons of salt were apprehended and delivered to VNN authorities.”

On 10 October 1969, Falgout was decommissioned at Mare Island after just over 14 years of service to the Navy and four to the USCG under Navy orders. Her fellow DERs shared a similar fate, either laid up in mothballs or transferred to overseas allies.

USS Falgout and Canberra laid up at Stockton, California on 20 May 1972. The bow of USS Canberra (CA-70) is visible astern. Probably photographed by Ted Stone. Courtesy of Ted Stone, 1980. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 90588

1973 Janes on the Edsall class DERs.

On 1 June 1975, Falgout was struck from the NVR then in early 1977 was towed out to sea off the coast of California and sunk as a target.


Few relics of Falgout remain, although much of her deck logs and WWII war history is digitized in the National Archives.

As for LCDR Gravely, once he left Falgout in 1963, he went on to complete 38 years of service, command USS Taussig (DD-746), USS Jouett (DLG-29), Naval Communications Command, Cruiser-Destroyer Group Two, the Eleventh Naval District, Third Fleet, and the Defense Communications Agency.

In 1976, while serving as commander of the Third Fleet, he was promoted to Vice Admiral. He passed away in 2004 and is buried in Arlington.

The Flight II Burke, USS Gravely (DDG 107), is named for him. Here seen Oct. 26, 2013, with an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter from the “Swamp Foxes” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 74 overhead. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/Released) 131026-N-QL471-333

As for the rest of the Edsalls, the former Coast Guard-manned USS Forster (DE/DER-334/WDE-434) may possibly still be afloat in Vietnam as the pier side trainer Dai Ky, while ex-USS Hurst (DE-250) which has been in the Mexican Navy since 1973, is still in use limited use as the training ship ARM Commodore Manuel Azueta (D111).

The final Edsall in U.S. waters is USS Stewart (DE-238). Stricken in 1972, she was donated as a museum ship to Galveston, Texas on 25 June 1974 and has been there ever since, today she is celebrating the 80th anniversary of her 1943 commissioning.

Ships are more than steel
and wood
And heart of burning coal,
For those who sail upon
them know
That some ships have a

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USS Mannert L. Abele, found

The only warship named for CDR Mannert Lincoln “Jim” Abele (USNA 1926), a posthumous Navy Cross-earning submarine skipper who was thought to have bagged three Japanese destroyers in a single day before disappearing with his command (USS Grunion, SS-216) off Alaska in 1942, the Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733) was laid down at Bath in Maine in late 1943, sponsored by his widow, Catharine, and commissioned at Boston Navy Yard, on Independence Day 1944.

USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733) Off the Boston Navy Yard, Massachusetts, 1 August 1944, soon after commissioning. She is wearing Camouflage Measure 32, Design 11A. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 46646

Our destroyer soon transited to the Pacific and was part of Kelly Turner’s Task Force (TF) 51 off Iwo Jima and later Okinawa, where, unfortunately, she was the first U.S. warship sunk by a Japanese suicide rocket bomb– the same day Franklin Roosevelt passed.

One of these, as seen at the Pima Air and Space Museum (Photo: Chris Eger)

As noted by NHHC:

On April 12, 1945, Mannert L. Abele was operating 75 miles off the northern coast of Okinawa, when enemy aircraft appeared on radar. Mannert L. Abele engaged with, and damaged, multiple enemy aircraft, until eventually an aircraft managed to crash abreast of the after-fireroom on the starboard side, penetrating the after-engine room. A minute later, the ship was hit at the waterline by a Yokosuka MXY-7 Ohka (Cherry Blossom) rocket-powered human-guided bomb, and the resulting explosion caused the ship’s bow and stern to buckle rapidly.

Now, the NHHC has confirmed the identity of a wreck site located in Japanese waters as USS Mannert L. Abele (DD-733) on 25 May.

NHHC’s Underwater Archaeology Branch (UAB) used information provided by Tim Taylor, an ocean explorer and CEO of Tiburon Subsea, and Taylor’s “Lost 52 Project” team to confirm the identity of the destroyer.

WWII Sumner Class Destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele multi-beam sonar 4500 feet deep offshore Okinawa Japan (Lost 52 Project)

WWII Sumner Class Destroyer USS Mannert L. Abele Bow Hull Number 733. (Lost 52)

Mannert L. Abele is the final resting place for 84 American Sailors who made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of their country,” said NHHC Director Samuel J. Cox, U.S. Navy rear admiral (retired). “My deepest thanks and congratulations to Tim Taylor and his team for discovering this wreck site. Its discovery allows some closure to the families of those lost, and provides us all another opportunity to remember and honor them.”

Contested Logistics: Pacific War

This photograph shows four Vought OS-2 Kingfishers of Scouting Squadron 2 (VS-2) on Bora Bora. A Quonset hut is visible behind the line of trees and camouflage netting. Bora Bora, whose conditions were primitive in the extreme, was one of the Navy’s first logistical lessons in early 1942. It would not be its last (NHHC, UA 460.08)

Just published by the Naval History and Heritage Command is a fantastic 108-page pdf on the most unsung part of the U.S. Navy’s Pacific War- logistics.

Emerging from the mud

I am on the road this week and too short on time for a proper Warship Wednesday. However, with Memorial Day on the horizon, and the fact this is an 80-year-old shot today, it seems appropriate.

Official caption: “Damaged USS Oklahoma (Battleship No. 37) raised after capsizing. She is shown being pulled to an even keel. The photograph was released on May 24, 1943.”

 Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-41598

Oklahoma received one battle star for her World War II service, at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941.

As detailed by DANFS:

Twenty of Oklahoma’s officers and 395 of her enlisted men were either killed or missing, 32 others wounded, and many were trapped within the capsized hull, to be saved by heroic rescue efforts.

While her able-bodied survivors were reassigned immediately to other ships, on 29 December 1941, Oklahoma was placed under the Base Force and placed “in ordinary” [a non-commissioned status].

The difficult salvage job began in March 1943, and, finally righted in a herculean effort, Oklahoma entered dry dock on 28 December. Decommissioned on 1 September 1944 and made available by the Bureau of Ships to CinCPac as a hulk on 28 October 1944, Oklahoma was stricken from the Navy Register on 22 November 1944.

Stripped of guns and superstructure, she was sold on 5 December 1946 to Moore Dry Dock Co., Oakland, Calif., but while en route from Pearl Harbor to San Francisco, ex-Oklahoma parted her tow lines and sank on 17 May 1947, 540 miles from her destination.

Marshal-Admiral, departing

80 years ago today: The ashes of Marshal-Admiral (posthumous) Isoroku Yamamoto return to the Empire of Japan aboard the Yamato-class super dreadnought Musashi, 23 May 1943, his last flagship, prior to a full state funeral to be held two weeks later.

He had been eliminated the month prior in a special mission (Operation Vengeance), in which P-38 Lightnings from the 339th Fighter Squadron downed his relatively lightly escorted transport bomber over Bougainville.

“Mission Accomplished” by Roy Grinnell, depicting Lt Rex Barber downing Yamamoto’s Betty, 18 April 1943

Legend had it he was found in the jungle, thrown clear of the wreckage, his white-gloved hand grasping the hilt of his katana, still upright in his seat under a tree. Less widely disseminated was that he was the recipient of a burst of .50 cal tracer.

While Yamamoto had indeed “run amok” across the Pacific for the first six months of the war, his track record for the last 10 months of his command was by far less successful. The command baton for the Combined Fleet would be passed to Admiral Mineichi Koga, who would also be killed when his plane went down in March 1944.

While Musashi has long been on the bottom of the Pacific, Yamamoto’s G4M1 Model 11 Betty, Manufacture Number 2656, Tail 323, is still on Bougainville and is a popular, if remote, attraction for those who know.

Old Man of the Watch

80 years ago today.

The official caption of this photo essay via the Imperial War Museum (Catalog # IWM A 17028-32), taken by Photographer Pelman, L (Lt),: “Veteran guardians of the Channel Coast. 21 May 1943, Selsey, Sussex.”

The Auxiliary Patrol of HM Coastguard is one of the oldest bodies of men in the armed forces of the crown. Over 400 of them have been enrolled to assist the ‘regulars’ in the constant watch which has been kept along the southeast coast of England. Their average age is well over 50, the oldest is 76, and they are mostly retired business, professional, and servicemen who have made their homes by the seaside.

“Five veterans learning the tricky art of bends and hitches from the Station Officer, himself an old Petty Officer.” Note they all seem to be wearing Army uniforms with Coastguard caps and HM Coastguard cap badges

“The dawn patrol sets out along a lonely mile of beach.” Note the STEN MKIII gun at the ready

“Daylight flag signaling to a ship at sea.” Note the “Coastguard” flash

“The Station Officer at his post, surrounded by his instruments for communication, alarm, and taking bearings.” Note the “Coastguard” flash and STEN gun at the ready

“The Watch turns over”. The relief faces a long vigil. The relieved set off home for a well-deserved breakfast and sleep.” Note what appears to be a Canadian Ross MKIII rifle.

“Station officer William Atkinson, who is in charge of a strip of coastline, examines a distant vessel through his telescope.”

With a mandate that stretches back to 1822, while His Majesty’s Coastguard came under Admiralty orders in both the Great War and WWII, today it is part of the Maritime and Coastguard Agency and coordinates all maritime search and rescue (SAR) operations in the UK.

King Charles III is the Honorary Commodore of HMCG and the backbone of the force is some 3,500 volunteer Coastguard Rescue Officers (CROs) located in 300 coastguard rescue teams around the country.

They respond to some 30,000 calls per year in recent years, few of them involving the Germans. 

Happy 101st, Mr. Miskelly

U.S. Coast Guard Pacific Southwest recently saluted the 101st birthday of a WWII-era Coastie, Lewis Miskelly Jr.

Born in Pennsylvania in 1922, he studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts prior to the conflict and volunteered for the Coast Guard just after Pearl Harbor. While not an official war artist, he painted what he saw while in Atlantic convoy duty on the Coast Guard Cutter Mojave (WPG-47), a 240-foot Tampa-class cutter.

Shown here is the ‘Tampa’ class gunboat type cutter USCG Mojave (WPG-47), 1942, operating amid ice floes off Greenland.

As noted by the USCG Historian’s Office during that period:

Mojave was assigned to the Greenland patrol in 1942, where she took part in convoy escort and rescue operations. While acting as escort for the slow group of Convoy SG–6 which had departed Sydney, Nova Scotia 25 August, she assisted in the rescue of 570 men from the torpedoed army transport Chatham. The escort and antisubmarine accomplishments of the cutters were truly vital to the winning of the Battle of the Atlantic.

Miskelly’s paintings: 

And in the Pacific while on the the Coast Guard-manned General G. O. Squier-class troop transport USS General R. L. Howze (AP-134).

USS General R.L. Howze (AP-134) anchored off Manus Island, Marshall Islands, circa 1944-45.

Commissioned in early 1944, Howze completed 11 voyages to the combat areas of the Pacific, before returning to San Francisco 15 October 1945, carrying troops and supplies to New Guinea, Guadalcanal, Manus, Eniwetok, and “many other islands as the rising tide of the Navy’s amphibious offensive swept toward Japan.”

As for Miskelly, in a recent profile by The Press Democrat:

When he was 52, he learned how to surf. He cruised the waves of Pacifica and Santa Cruz until he was 85. He does tai chi everyday and still loves biking and driving his car.

For most of his life, he worked as a structural engineer and naval architect, which took he, his late wife June and four kids from Marconi to Petaluma in 1963. He worked until he was 75.

Thank you for your service, and your work, Mr. Miskelly.

Warship Wednesday, May 17, 2023: Hugo’s Everlasting Clouds

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, May 17, 2023: Hugo’s Everlasting Clouds

Swedish Marinmuseum photo identifier D 8751

Above we see a nice view of the Royal Swedish Navy drawn up at Karlskrona, circa 9 July 1904, dressed for Queen Sofia’s 68th birthday. The line includes an array of immaculate coastal battleships (pansarbat) and cruisers to the left including Oden, Aran, Wasa, Tapperheten, Thule, Thor, and Gota; the sleek new Yarrow-built destroyer (Sweden’s first) Mode, center, and, foreground, the 850-ton torpedkryssare (torpedo cruiser/torpedo boat tender) Psilander.

Directly in front of the dowdy Psilander is the old training brig Falken. To the right, floating like clouds, are the twin new gleaming skeppsgossefartygeten (ships boys ships) Najaden and Jarramas.

While everything you see has long since been scrapped, the two tall ships have endured.

HM Övningsfartyg

Designed by famed Swedish naval engineer Hjalmar Hugo Lilliehøøk– who had a hand in every single one of the above vessels– Najaden (Swedish for Naiad, or water nymph) was the first of the twins and was built at Orlogsverftet in Karlskrona in Sweden in 1897 as a training ship (Övningsfartyg) for the Swedish Navy. As such, she would be at the disposal of the Skeppsgossekaren (The Ship’s Boy Corps), a formation that dated back to 1685 and was responsible for recruiting, raising, and training young boys in the art of seamanship.

The beautiful three-masted full-rigger– claimed by many to be the smallest made– Najaden was compact, at just 160 feet overall, counting her bowsprit, and could carry a full 24 sheets including jibs and staysails although the typical 16-sheet rig used covered over 8,000 sq. ft. of canvas by itself.

With a draft of just 12 feet, she was capable of speeds as fast as 17 knots, her main mast towering 82 feet above her deck.

Swedish Royal Navy sail training ship HMS Najaden

At some 335 tons, she was much larger than the circa 1877-built Falken (Falcon), which drew only 110 tons on her 77-foot length. This allowed Najaden to carry a crew of 20-25 professional cadre and as many as 100 naval cadets and boy sailors, easily three times those on the smaller Falken. Her typical complement was 118, including 92 boys. Her regular year-round crew consisted of 5 officers, 6 NCOs, a ship’s doctor, and 14 ratings, almost all of which served as instructors as well.

For an armament, used primarily for training and signaling, she carried a small arms locker of rifles and pistols, a pair of 3-pounder 47mm guns, and a quartet of 1-pounder 37mm pieces.

Najaden proved so successful that an updated sister ship, Jarramas, was ordered from the same yard in 1899. The pair differed in construction when it came to hull material, with Najaden sporting an iron hull and Jarramas using steel. As such, Jarramas was the last sailing vessel to be built at Orlogsverftet, the end of an era. She carried the name of King Charles XII’s famed circa 1716 frigate, which was a Swedish corruption of the Turkish word for “mischievous.”

Jarramas proved even faster than her sister, logging 18.3 knots on at least one occasion. Neither ship was ever fitted with engines although by most accounts they did have generators for electrical lights and ventilation fans.

Övningsskepp typ Jarrasmas och Najaden

Jarramas under segel. Note the colorized accents to the flags and bow crest. D 14975_1

Jarramas under inspektion D 8874

Jarramas MM01916

HM Övningsfartyget Jarramas DO14939.126

Every spring the ships were rigged to run summertime trips to Bohuslän on Sweden’s West Coast or along the Gulf of Bothnia on the East Coast, stopping at various Baltic ports. Happy duty.

Najadens besättning 1902 D 8766


During the Great War, both ships canceled their summer trips and were used by the Swedish Navy as receiving ships and dockside training vessels, their classroom space was used to school recruits.

Once the guns of August fell silent again, they resumed their former schedules.

Najaden 1923 D 15061_14

Najaden 1923 D 15061_12

Najaden 1923 D 15061_3

Jarramas 1924, Lübeck D 15061_49

Gruppbild ombord Najaden 1923 D 15061_2

Swedish Royal Navy sail training ship HMS Najaden photographed off Karlskrona in 1933, sister Jarramas in the distance

Jane’s 1931 listing for Falken, Najaden, and Jarramas. Falken would be disposed of in 1943 after 66 years of service.

In 1939, the old Skeppsgossekaren was replaced by the newer Sjömansskolan, which still exists.

Najaden at the time was demasted and laid up, used during WWII as a stationary receiving ship.

Postwar, she was then towed to Torekov just south of Halmstad to serve as a breakwater. Her name was quickly reissued to a Neptun-class submarine that would commission in 1943 and serve through the 1960s.

Neptun-class Ubat Najaden underway, July 1953, at Hårsfjärden.

Meanwhile, Jarramas lingered in service until 1948, including use as a training ship in protected waters during WWII.

Post War Rescue

Najaden, in poor material condition and without her masts, canvas, or rigging, was saved by an outpouring of support by the people of the west coast city of Halmstad, who in the 1950s paid for a non-sailing restoration at Karlskrona that saw new masts stepped and some of her rigging plan restored.

She endured this “town ship” mission until 2013, during which she was twice again rebuilt (1989 and 1990-1996) and would host sea scouts, festivals, local events, and parties. A floating fixture of the community. In 2014, she was sold to a new group of enthusiasts who towed her to a new homeport in Fredrikstad in Norway, where her preservation continues.

Although not seaworthy, she is still used for seminars and conferences, lectures, concerts, and other activities, lying by the quay.

They hope to one day make her seaworthy once again, under a Norwegian flag. Of note, when she was built, Norway and Sweden were unified, so in a sense, she has a bit of Norwegian heritage as well. 

As for Jarramas, replaced by the new 128-foot training schooners HMS Gladan (S01) and HMS Falken (S02) in 1947, her days in the Swedish Navy came to an end.

However, just as Najaden was saved at Halmstad, Jarramas was saved by the city of Karlskrona where she was preserved as a museum ship and coffee shop of all things. Extensively renovated over the years, she reportedly requires extensive continuous maintenance, which led her to be taken over by the Marinmuseum in 1997.

Today, Jarramas is the centerpiece of the Marinmuseum in Karlskrona, preserved as Sweden’s last full rigger, alongside the minesweeper HMS Bremön, the motor torpedo boat T38, the Cold War era fast attack craft HMS Västervik, and the submarines HMS Neptun and HMS Hajen.

The minesweeper Bremön (rear), the FAC Västervik, and the full rigger Jarramas at the pier by the Marinmuseum in Karlskrona.

It’s great to see that both sisters are still with us.

Meanwhile, the Swedes still use the gleaming white circa 1940s skolfartyg schooners Gladan and Falken as the nation’s tall ship training squadron.

HMS Falken (S02)

They are assigned to the Skonertdivisionen at the Naval Academy and are based in Karlskrona, nearby the old Jarramas.

Ships are more than steel
and wood
And heart of burning coal,
For those who sail upon
them know
That some ships have a

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