Scouting Force

Some of the heaviest of heavy sluggers in the Pacific War were the Pensacola and Northampton classes of heavy “treaty cruisers.” Below is a rare snap of seven of these vessels all in one place at one time, 90 years ago today. Of note, two of the seven were lost in combat during WWII.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph #80-G-451164, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Pearl Harbor Navy Yard, Oahu, Hawaii – Scouting Force ships at, and off, the yard, 2 February 1933. Cruisers tied up at 1010 Dock are (from left to left-center) heavy cruisers USS Augusta (CA 31), Chicago (CA 29), and Chester (CA 27). USS Northampton (CA 26) is alongside the dock in the center, with USS Kane (DD 235) in the adjacent Marine Railway and USS Fox (DD 234) tied up nearby. USS Louisville (CA 28) is in the center distance. Moored off her bow and at the extreme right are USS Salt Lake City (CA 25) and USS Pensacola (CA 24).

Importantly, note the quartets of floatplanes visible, especially on Augusta and Chicago. Having seven cruisers able to put up to 28 observation/scout planes in the air at any one time gave the fleet some decent over-the-horizon ability, especially in the days before long-range surface search radar. 

At the time these would most likely have been Vought O2U/O3U Corsairs. With a range of 680 miles– giving a combat radius of 300– they could carry a trio of flex and fixed ANM2 Brownings and up to 500 pounds of bombs.

The U.S. Navy heavy cruiser USS Chicago (CA-29) at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, California (USA), in 1931 (looking aft from the top of the forward fire control station). Note the Vought O3U-1 Corsair floatplanes on the catapult deck. Cruisers in the U.S. Navy often carried as many as 5-6 aircraft between on-deck storage and their hangar (NH70721)

USS Northampton (CA-26) at anchor 1930s. Note four floatplanes amidships.

Northampton-class heavy cruiser USS Louisville (CA-28), Pensacola-class heavy cruiser USS Salt Lake City (CA-25), USS Northampton (CA-26), and USS Chicago (CA-29/also Northampton-class) turning in formation to create a slick for landing seaplanes, during exercises off Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 31 January 1933. Planes are landing astern of the middle cruisers. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-451165

USS Portland (CA-33) during the fleet review at New York, 31 May 1934, with four floatplanes amidship, likely Vought O3U-1 Corsairs with Grumman floats (Photo: NH 716)

Most famous for knocking the original King Kong off the Empire State Building, the O2U gave the fleet some serious eyes. After 1935, they would be replaced with the Curtiss SOC Seagull, a floatplane with better performance that the cruisers would often use well into WWII. 

Besides scouting, the cruiser force’s floatplanes performed a much unsung service in picking up those lost at sea, light transport of personnel and packages from ship to ship and ship to shore, as well as the all-important task of correcting distant naval gunfire missions.

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2023: A Hectic 133 Days

Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 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. 1, 2023: A Hectic 133 Days

The photo was taken from USS Fletcher (DD-445). National Archives 80-G-284577

Above we see a rare photograph of the new Fletcher-class destroyer USS DeHaven (DD-469) passing North of Savo Island, which can be seen on the horizon, on 30 January 1943, immediately after the Battle of Rennell Island— the last major naval engagement of the Guadalcanal Campaign. Commissioned just the previous September in Maine, DeHaven would be sunk two days after this image was captured, on 1 February 1943 (80 years ago today) in these same waters by a Japanese air attack, sort of a parting shot to the Empire’s withdrawal from the embattled island.

Fletcher class background

The Fletchers were the WWII equivalent of the Burke class, constructed in a massive 175-strong class from 11 builders that proved the backbone of the fleet for generations. Coming after the interwar “treaty” destroyers such as the Benson- and Gleaves classes, they were good-sized (376 feet oal, 2,500 tons full load, 5×5″ guns, 10 torpedo tubes) and could have passed as unprotected cruisers in 1914. Powered by a quartet of oil-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers and two Westinghouse or GE steam turbines, they had 60,000 shp on tap– half of what today’s Burkes have on a hull 25 percent as heavy– enabling them to reach 38 knots, a speed that is still fast for destroyers today.

USS John Rodgers (DD 574) at Charleston, 28 April 1943. A great example of the Fletcher class in their wartime configuration. Note the five 5″/38 mounts and twin sets of 5-pack torpedo tubes.

LCDR Fred Edwards, Destroyer Type Desk, Bureau of Ships, famously said of the class, “I always felt it was the Fletcher class that won the war . . .they were the heart and soul of the small-ship Navy.”

Our DeHaven

DD-469 was the first Navy ship named in honor of LT Edwin Jess De Haven. Born in Philadelphia in 1816, he shipped out with the fleet age the ripe old age of 10 as a midshipman and made his name as an early polar explorer, shipping out with the Wilkes Expedition (1839-42), and looking for Sir John Franklin’s lost polar expedition as skipper of the humble 81-foot brigantine USS Advance in 1850 as part of the Grinnell expedition. Placed on the retired list in 1862 due to failing eyesight, he passed in 1865.

His aging granddaughter, Mrs. Helen N. De Haven, made the trip to Bath Iron Works in 1942 to participate in the destroyer’s launching ceremony.

De Haven (DD-469) was launched on 28 June 1942 by Bath Iron Works Corp., Bath, Maine; sponsored by Miss H. N. De Haven, granddaughter of Lieutenant De Haven; and commissioned on 21 September 1942, T/CDR Charles Edward Tolman, USN, in command.

Launch of USS De Haven (DD-469) at Bath Iron Works, Maine (USA), on 28 June 1942 (80-G-40563

De Haven spent four weeks on shakedown cruises and post-delivery yard periods then sailed from Norfolk, reaching the Tonga Islands, on 28 November 1942. There, she attached to escort a convoy of troopships filled with soldiers of the Army’s 25th Infantry (Tropic Lightning) Division headed to Guadalcanal to relieve the “Old Breed” of the 1st MarDiv who had been there since the invasion landings in August.

De Haven screened the transports off Guadalcanal from 7 to 14 December, then sailed out of Espiritu Santo and Noumea in the continuing Solomon Islands operations.

Then, attached to Capt. Robert Pearce Briscoe’s Tulagi-based Task Group 67.5 (known as the “Cactus Striking Force”) along with the destroyers USS Nicholas, Radford, and O’Bannon, she patrolled the waters of the Southern Solomons to stop the “Tokyo Express,” the nightly effort to supply the beleaguered Japanese troops still fighting on the invaded islands.

Cactus Force took part in two bombardments of Kolombangara Island in late January 1943. During the latter, DeHaven fired 612 5-inch shells, which is some decent NGFS.

The U.S. Navy destroyer USS De Haven (DD-469) off Savo Island, viewed from USS Fletcher, 30 January 1943, two days before she was lost. NARA image 80-G-284578

Cactus Force was then sent on the night of 31 January/1 February to escort a scratch landing team of six small LCTs and the old converted “green dragon” fast transport (formerly a Wickes-class destroyer) USS Stringham (APD-6) to land the 2nd Battalion, 132nd Infantry Regiment and a battery of four 75mm pack howitzers near Kukum via Verahue Beach the other side of Guadalcanal, with the intention to outflank the Japanese who were rapidly evacuating the area.

However, they had the misfortune of being caught –in– Operation Ke-gō Sakusen, the Japanese withdrawal near Cape Esperance, and DeHaven became a victim to incoming waves of enemy aircraft screening that effort.

It was over in minutes. Four bombs– including one that hit the superstructure squarely, killing the commanding officer at once– sent the destroyer directly to the bottom as if on an elevator, taking 167 of her crew with her in the process.

She was the 15th American destroyer lost in the Guadalcanal campaign and had been in commission just four months and 11 days. The post-war analysis determined she was lost due to extreme and rapid flooding, specifically a “loss of buoyancy on relatively even keel” a fate only suffered by one other tin can in the war, sistership USS Aaron Ward (DD 483), also lost at a heavy air attack off Guadalcanal.

DeHaven’s six-page loss report is in the National Archives, submitted just four days after the ship took up her place on Iron Bottom Sound. As 10 of her officers were missing in action and three others seriously wounded on Navy hospital ships headed East, it was penned by her only unwounded officer, Ensign Clem C. Williams, Jr. Heady stuff for a 21-year-old O-1 to have to write.

Epilogue

As with the above-mentioned reports, DeHaven’s engineering drawings are in the National Archives.

She has a memorial at the National Museum of the Pacific War, located in Fredericksburg, Texas.

The man who wrote her loss report and compiled the names of her missing and dead, Ensign Williams, who was the son of a Washington dentist that had served in the Navy in the Great War, would survive his own war, become a physician in Indiana, and pass in 1992, aged 71.

Capt. Briscoe, leader of the Cactus Striking Force, would go on to command the fighting cruiser USS Denver (CL-58), earning a Navy Cross during the Northern Solomon Islands campaign from her bridge, then go on to lead the 7th Fleet during Korea. The Mississippian would conclude 41 years of service and retire in 1959 as a full admiral. He is buried at Arlington and a Spruance class destroyer, USS Briscoe (DD-977)— appropriately built in Pascagoula– was named in his honor.

When it comes to DeHaven’s fellow Fletcher-class destroyers, five of her sisterships– USS Pringle (DD-477), USS Bush (DD-529), USS Luce (DD-522), USS Little (DD-803), and USS Morrison (DD-560)— would go on to be sunk by kamikaze aircraft off Okinawa in a three week period. Life was not easy for Fletchers working the picket line in the Spring of 1945. 

The rest of her surviving sisters were widely discarded in the Cold War era by the Navy, who had long prior replaced them with more modern destroyers and Knox-class escorts. Those that had not been sent overseas as military aid were promptly sent to the breakers or disposed of in weapon tests. The class that had faced off with the last blossom of Japan’s wartime aviators helped prove the use of just about every anti-ship/tactical strike weapon used by NATO in the Cold War including Harpoon, Exocet, Sea Skua, Bullpup, Walleye, submarine-launched Tomahawk, and even at least one Sidewinder used in surface attack mode. In 1997, SEALS sank the ex-USS Stoddard (DD-566) via assorted combat-diver delivered ordnance. The final Fletcher in use around the globe, Mexico’s Cuitlahuacex-USS John Rodgers (DD 574), was laid up in 2001 and dismantled in 2011.

Today, four Fletchers are on public display, three of which in the U.S– USS The Sullivans (DD-537) at Buffalo, USS Kidd (DD-661) at Baton Rouge, and USS Cassin Young (DD-793) at the Boston Navy Yard. Please try to visit them if possible. Kidd, the best preserved of the trio, was used extensively for the filming of the Tom Hanks film, Greyhound.

DeHaven’s name was quickly recycled for a new Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer (DD-727) that was building at Bath Iron Works in Maine– the birthplace of “our” destroyer. Sponsored by Mrs. H. N. De Haven– who also cracked the bottle on the bow of the first De Haven— she commissioned 31 March 1944 and was screening the fast carriers of TF38 striking Luzon in support of the invasion of Leyte by that November. In a much longer 49-year career, this second DeHaven received five battle stars for World War II service and in addition to her Navy Unit Commendation picked up a further six for Korean War service and decorations for 10 tours in off Vietnam between 1962 and 1971.

Transferred to the South Korean Navy in 1973, she was renamed ROKS Incheon (DD-98/918) (she was present at the landings there in 1950) and served under the flag of that country until 1993.

The USS DeHaven Sailors Association remembers both tin cans today and is very active on social media.


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


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!

Here come the Jackals

Palmetto State Armory has been moving ahead with its neat JAKL long-stroke gas piston systems and had several concept guns on display at SHOT Show. While they aren’t in production, it is nice to see they are thinking with broad strokes and, like concept cars, they give a glimpse of what the company may start making in the future, especially if they get a lot of feedback.

Among the concept uppers they had were a 9mm ARV that fits standard lowers, a JAKL KS47 in 7.62×39 that fits KS47 lowers and takes AK style mags, and a 13.7-inch 5.56 that fits standard AR-15 lowers and allows for a folding stock.

Good to see there is some innovation out there.

Your pistol brace countdown starts today

In the predawn hours on Tuesday morning, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives published its final Stabilizing Braces rule in the Federal Register. 

With an effective date of Jan. 31, 2023, the new 98-page rule, unless successfully challenged in the courts, will fundamentally outlaw the use of pistol stabilizing braces in their current form, instead reclassifying large format handguns so equipped with one as a short-barreled rifle to be regulated under the National Firearms Act of 1934. 

Federal regulators have classified the accessories since 2012 as being compliant with the NFA, and Congressional Research Service estimates run as high as 40 million braces in circulation. 

“Any weapons with ‘stabilizing braces’ or similar attachments that constitute rifles under the NFA must be registered no later than May 31, 2023,” notes ATF. Alternatives include handing the firearm over to the agency, destroying it, converting the pistol to a normal rifle with a barrel at least 16 inches long, or “permanently” removing the brace so that it can’t be reattached. 

The modern brace as introduced and extensively patented by SB Tactical came about after USMC and Army veteran Alex Bosco went shooting with a disabled combat vet who was having such a hard time shooting on the range that the RSO stopped him over safety concerns due to lack of control. Bosco then created the prototype for the brace in his garage and submitted the design to ATF for approval. 

In a November 2012 letter from the agency, regulators at the time noted: 

The submitted brace, when attached to a firearm, does not convert that weapon to be fired from the shoulder and would not alter the classification of a pistol or other firearm. While a firearm so equipped would still be regulated by the Gun Control Act … such a firearm would not be subject to NFA controls.

The new rule seems to only be popular with a minority of gun control advocates and the White House. By the ATF’s own admission, of the 237,000 comments logged over the proposed rule last year, “There were over 217,000 comments opposed to aspects of the rule.”

There are sure to be legal challenges to the new rule by firearms industry groups and Second Amendment organizations. As for SB Tactical, they said on Monday, “We are still here and have not left you. At this point, we have to let the legal team do what they have been preparing to do for a very long time. Nothing is over, and we are still in the fight. More to come soon.”

Edenton/Haley Soldiers On

Following an extended $6 million seven-month dry dock maintenance period in Seattle, the one-of-a-kind 282-foot British-built Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley (WMEC-39) returned to her homeport at Coast Guard Base Kodiak, Alaska earlier this month.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Alex Haley returns to homeport at Coast Guard Base Kodiak, Alaska, on Jan. 12, 2023. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Ian Gray

As noted by Coast Guard 17th District (Alaska)

The engineering department oversaw 76 work items including major overhauls on the cutter’s controllable pitch propeller system, speed reducers, rudders, and boilers, along with inspections of fuel, sewage, and water tanks. The operations department supervised a renewal of Alex Haley’s flight deck, navigation systems, and electronics while maintaining critical law enforcement currencies. The deck department expertly completed vast amounts of painting and topside preservation, while ensuring small boat operational readiness.

The Coast Guard Alex Haley sits dry-docked for repairs and maintenance in Seattle, Washington, on Dec. 13, 2022. While in the dry dock, the crew and contractors successfully completed more than $6 million worth of repairs.

In typical USCG fashion, Haley is one of the oldest ships in the U.S. maritime service, with 56 years on her hull and another decade of service looming.

Built by Brooke Marine in Lowestoft, Sussex between 1967-71 as USS Edenton (ATS-1), the 3,500-ton vessel was the lead ship of a three-hull class of salvage and rescue ship capable of worldwide operations.

USS Edenton (ATS-1) NHHC L45-82.06.01

Joining the fleet when commissioned on 23 January 1971, as part of the Second Fleet, she would go on to complete no less than nine extended Med cruises and one West Pac deployment before she was decommissioned on 29 March 1996, completing 25 years “haze gray and underway.” Of note, the builder of the class, Brooke Marine, had gone into receivership and been sold off almost a decade prior, while the class’s Paxman diesels were increasingly unsupportable.

Edenton was stricken from the Navy List on 29 December 1997.

While her sisters USS Beaufort (ATS-2) and Brunswick (ATS-3) would be retired at the same time, they would retain their extensive salvage gear fit and be sold in a hot “as-is” transfer to the South Korean Navy, where they linger in service as ROKS Pyeongtaek (ATS-27) and ROKS Gwangyang (ATS-28), respectively.

As for Edenton, over a two-year period, she would land much of her deep water salvage gear to make room for a helo deck, grab a white paint scheme with a racing stripe, trade her vintage Mk 16 20mm guns for MK38 Bushmaster 25mm mounts, swap her Paxmans for Catapillars, and ship off to Kodiak where she would take the place after WWII-era icebreaking cutter USCGC Storis (WAGL-38/WMEC-38) was retired, as the Coast Guard’s primary live-in asset in the Bering Sea. Of note, that is why Haley carries the next hull number in line (WMEC-39) after Storis.

Her missions typically involve search and rescue, fisheries law enforcement, and vessel safety inspections across Alaska.

Since her commissioning in USCG service on 10 July 1999, ex-Edenton has carried the name of the late Alexander Palmer Haley, Chief Journalist, USCG (Ret.).

Long before he drew international acclaim for Roots, Haley enlisted in the Coast Guard in 1939 as a mess attendant/steward and, serving through WWII on the cutters Mendoza and Pamlico and in the Pacific Threatre on the cargo vessel USS Murzim (AK-95), contributed articles to the Coast Guard Magazine and started a mimeographed ship’s newspaper. Switching to a Journalist rate in 1949, he would transfer to the Reserve list in 1959, completing 20 years of active duty including WWII service across three theatres and Korean War service. He would then go on to become a senior editor for Reader’s Digest and conduct a series of brilliant interviews for Playboy in the 1960s, back when folks really did buy it for the articles, before becoming a household name.

JOC Haley passed in 1992, aged 70.

Great Norwegian War Movie on Netflix

I’ve always had an interest in Norwegian military affairs, and for a long time, one of my best friends was a former Cold War-era Norwegian Army vet who had a love of vintage German small arms– because by and large his unit had been equipped with second-hand Mausers, MP40s and MG42s captured in 1945.

If you have watched the European TV series Occupied (Norwegian: Okkupert) on Netflix, a three-season political thriller based on an EU-sanctioned Russian “silk glove” occupation of the country in the near future sparked by a quisling newly-elected environmentally-friendly Norwegian government, then you know the work of writer and director, Erik Skjoldbjærg, whose new film Narvik just hit the streaming service last week.

The movie focuses on the brutal two-month battle for the small Barents Sea port town of Narvik, one that started (sans declaration of war) on 9 April 1940 with a German counsel and “tourists” who got very tactical as the Kriegsmarine forced its way into the sleepy harbor and sunk the two 40-year-old 4,000-foot coastal cruisers Eidsvold and Norge, the first torpedoed before she could fire her guns and the second sent to the bottom by German destroyers in minutes. The rapid occupation as local Norwegian reservists fell back was soon upended by an Allied intervention after the Royal Navy slaughtered the German tin cans, and the combined Allied force briefly reoccupied the town in a battle that lasted until June, the last place part of Norway to fall.

It was truly a world war with combatants drawn from around the globe. While most of the German paratroopers and shipwrecked sailors were from Old Germany, the bulk of the Reich’s land troops were Austrian Gebirgsjäger mountain troops. Meanwhile, in addition to the local Norwegians, the Allied force included two battalions from the French Foreign Legion– men from 60 countries– four Free Polish battalions fighting in French uniforms, and assorted British troops.

The largest battle ever fought on Norwegian soil, the movie is primarily from the domestic point of view, told from the story of a fictional young Army reservist and his wife who is left behind to contend (and resist) against the initial German occupation. While in Norwegian, it is also available on Netflix with either English subtitles or an English overdub.

If you have a couple of hours, it is well worth your time.

The Mighty D hangs up her guns

The sun is getting low on the half-century-old Reliance class cutters, and one of my favorite ones just finished up her last official tasking.

Via Coast Guard LANT

USCGC Decisive returns home from Eastern Pacific Ocean deployment, completing final patrol

PENSACOLA, Fla. — The crew of the USCGC Decisive (WMEC 629) returned to their homeport in Pensacola, Friday, following a 33-day patrol in the Eastern Pacific Ocean, concluding 55 years of service to the Nation.

Decisive patrolled the Eastern Pacific Ocean in the Coast Guard Eleventh District’s area of operations. While underway, the Decisive’s crew supported the Coast Guard’s drug interdiction and search and rescue missions to promote safety of life at sea and deter the flow of illegal narcotics into the United States.

While deployed, Decisive’s crew collaborated with Coast Guard assets and foreign military aircraft to detect, deter, and interdict illegal narcotics voyages. At one point, Decisive disrupted two vessels suspected of drug trafficking in the same night. Decisive also collaborated with the USCGC Alert (WMEC 630) to safely transfer three suspected smugglers. While aboard Decisive, the detainees received food, water, shelter and medical attention.

“The crew’s remarkable professionalism, competence and determination were on full display as we met the diverse challenges of operations at sea,” said Cmdr. Aaron Delano-Johnson, commanding officer of Decisive. “Whether it was conducting simultaneous boardings or our skilled engineers conducting voyage repairs in Panama, the crew exceeded expectations at every turn. After a successful, final patrol for Decisive, we are looking forward to returning home to our family and friends on shore.”

During the patrol, Decisive traveled more than 6,000 miles and traversed through the Panama Canal. By transiting the historic waterway, Decisive’s crew earned their Order of the Ditch certificates, a time-honored nautical tradition recognizing mariners who have crossed the Panama Canal between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.

Decisive is a 210-foot, Reliance-class medium endurance cutter with a crew of 72. The cutter’s primary missions are counter-drug operations, migrant interdiction, and search and rescue in support of U.S. Coast Guard operations throughout the Western Hemisphere.

Back in 2011, while working on an article about the old girl for Sea Classics, I spent a day hanging out with the Swamp Rats of Decisive while she was based at CGS Pascagoula, formerly NAVSTA Pascagoula, directly across from Ingalls on Singing River Island. Since Decisive moved to Pensacola in 2017, the sprawling base, which had been originally intended for a battleship surface action group in the 1980s, has largely just hosted a Sentinel-class (154-foot) fast response cutter and the occasional passing NOAA survey ship in addition to overflow from Ingalls.

Anyway, enjoy! These were cleared by 8th District over a decade ago, but never published. 

As Close as it gets to an ‘Affordable’ Modular Carbine

Modular 5.56 rifles are the way of the future. However, they are expensive by any measure. Just look at the Beretta ARX160, the FN SCAR, and the CZ Bren M2– the cheapest of which hit the low $2K mark and go far north from there.

Take for example the new SIG Sauer MCX Spear in 6.5 Creedmoor. While I dearly love SIG– my West German P226 has been shot out twice over the three two decades, each requiring a new breechblock and spring rebuild; while my daily carry pistol for most of the past six months has been a P365 XMac– they are very proud of their guns.

There is a lot to be proud of with the MCX Spear in 6.5 Creedmoor.

A kind of stepped-up version of the new MCX Spear LT, which was announced last year in 5.56 NATO, 7.62x39mm, and .300 Blackout, the new variants will be in .277 Fury, .308 Win, and 6.5, with the latter being the most interesting in my opinion.

The new rifles share the same broad strokes of the Spear LT, including AR trigger compatibility, a push-button folding stock, fully ambi controls, dual charging handles (left side non-reciprocating and rear AR-style), SIG’s SLX suppressor quick detach muzzle device, a full-length top rail, and the ability to swap bolt/barrels for caliber exchanges.

Couple that with a 6.5CM and you run a laser-accurate round capable of effective hits to 800 yards with little hold over

Of course, SIG says the gun will cost $4K, sans optics.

Enter the Israeli IWI Carmel, which is now in production in the U.S. as the prospect of importing it adds a lot of flies and 922R problems to the mix.

Complete with a folding stock, fully ambidextrous controls, and a rock-solid reliable short-stroke gas piston that keeps everything cleaner (and doesn’t use the gas ring systems of the SCAR), the soft-shooting Carmel will hit the $1,600-$1,800 range and be available later this year.

Also, it uses AR-15 mags. Boom.

Moto in Miami

Always been a sucker for well-done unit photos and this one from Coast Guard Air Station Miami, showing five airborne MH-65D Dolphins hovering in unison behind five tarmacked EADS HC-144 Ocean Sentry patrol planes– the station’s entire airframe complement– is great.

Photo by USCG Aux Joey Feldman

As noted by the station:

When exceptionally hard work meets opportunity. This photo would not have been possible without the hard work of our Aviation Engineering department. They worked tirelessly to make all ten of our aircraft available in a very short time window and on top of that, they made sure all five of our MH-65 Dolphins were operational to provide an amazing backdrop for our 2023 unit photo. To our AvEng department, be proud of this accomplishment. Your hard work has paid off. Bravo Zulu!!

Coast Guard Air Station Miami first opened in June 1932 at the old Navy seaplane base on Dinner Key in Biscayne Bay next to the Pan Am station, originally flying Fokker PJ Flying Life Boats as the Coast Guard’s first “modern” aviation unit, and celebrated its 90th-anniversary last summer– a span that included flying armed Vought OS2U-3 Kingfishers on ASW patrols and CSAR during WWII.

“Coast Guard planes from the Coast Guard Air Station Miami, Florida, greeting new 165-foot patrol boat/subchaser USCGC PANDORA arrival December 6, 1934, to take station.” Top to bottom: Fokker PJ Flying Boat ACAMAR, Douglas RD-1 Amphibian SIRIUS, and Fokker PJ Flying Boat A. 

For those curious:

U.S. Coast Guard Air Station Miami employs a highly trained and exceptionally motivated crew of 339 personnel, comprised of 71 Officers, 255 Enlisted, and 13 Civilians. Its fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft conduct a variety of Coast Guard missions from Charleston, S.C. to Key West, and throughout the Caribbean Basin. Air Station (CGAS) Miami is located at Opa-Locka Executive Airport.

 

One door closes, another opens

U.S. Marines participate in the deactivation ceremony for 3d Battalion, 3d Marines, 3d Marine Division on Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Jan. 13, 2023. The battalion is deactivating in accordance with Force Design 2030 as the Marine Corps modernizes to remain the premier crisis response force. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Sgt. Israel Chincio)

In Marine Corps news this month, 3d Battalion, 3d Marines cased its colors during the unit’s deactivation ceremony at Marine Corps Base Hawaii, on 13 January 2023.

Surely it is a bad sign when a famed unit– one that formerly counted Commandant Krulak, John Ripley of Dong Ha bridge fame, Ollie North, Dakota Meyer, and “Terminal Lance” Maximilian Uriarte– cases its colors on Friday the 13th.

The move will allow for the transformation of 3d Marines to the 3d Marine Littoral Regiment.

Of note, first stood up on 1 June 1942, 3/3 Marines were bled white in the liberation of Guam in July 1944, suffering over 400 casualties, half its strength.

Speaking of which, the Corps is marking the naming and reactivation of Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz, on Jan. 26, 2023, on Guam. MCBCB is named in honor of the late Brig. Gen. Vicente ‘Ben’ Thomas Garrido Blaz, the first Chamorro Marine to attain the rank of general officer.

Thirteen years old when the Japanese invaded Guam during World War II, Blaz worked in labor camps, building aviation fields, planting rice, and digging trenches until American forces retook the island in 1944. Post-war, following a BS from Notre Dame, he would serve in the Marines in both Korea and Vietnam.

The base will be the first Marine installation after Marine Barracks Guam was deactivated on Nov. 10, 1992. Ultimately 5,000 Marines will be stationed there, ironically “partially funded by a large monetary contribution from the Government of Japan,” as part of a pivot of Marines from Okinawa.

“MCBCB will play an essential role in strengthening the Marine Corps’ geographically distributed, operationally resilient, and politically sustainable posture in the Indo-Pacific region.”

« Older Entries Recent Entries »