Bush hat aesthetic

70 Years Ago Today: October 1, 1952 – French Indochina. “Adjudant Louis Gire, head of the Gin-Coc post, explains to Commandos the tactics to adopt when moving on the ground for an upcoming operation.”

Photo by Paul Corcuff in the French military’s ECPAD collection. TONK 52-176 R55

Note the British STEN Mk II and beret on colonial trooper in the center while the sandal-clad European to the left seems to have a STEN Mk V with a wood stock. The colonial to the right has OF 37 grenades and seems to be armed with a Berthier carbine. Also note the leather EO two-cell mag pouches, worn two different ways. Also, you have to dig the French Mle 47/49 bush hat, “Le Chapeau de Brousse,” no matter what you think of the Indochina wars.

Toblerone Leichte Kavallerie

Switzerland, which has long cherished a rather unique military model, was one of the last in the world to retire its horse cavalry units, a tradition that dated back to 1647. 

The Swiss Parliament in December 1972 voted– narrowly– to disband their final 18 fine squadrons of dragoons (mounted infantry) and convert their remaining 2,600 spur-wearing cavalrymen, mostly reservists of course, to mechanized units and other assignments. At that time, Switzerland was the last country in Europe (outside of Russia) that still maintained mounted combat units. The decision didn’t go over well in the public and over 400,000 petitioned against the move– a large segment of the country’s 6 million population. 

Rudolf Gnagi, the defense minister in 1972, said that he sympathized with those who wanted to keep the formations but military necessity required modernization, after all, at the time the U.S. had all but thrown in the towel in Vietnam while the Soviets looked 10 feet tall and Switzerland could find itself in a real-live shooting war should Moscow make a move against NATO.

Strange how things are cyclical sometimes, eh?

Anyway, the long tradition of the Swiss dragoons has been maintained in modern times by at least two large reenactment units in the country, Schweizer Kavallerie Schwadron 1972 and Berner Dragoner 1779, with the dates pointing towards the era they depict. Over the past eight days, some 60 members in historic uniforms rode 140 miles over the mountains from Bière to Aarau, bivouacking along the way, to mark the 50th anniversary of the loss of Switzerland’s horse soldiers.

The gallery is great if nothing else.

Most of the horses are Swiss Warmbloods and Freibergers with detailed military saddles and packs while the uniforms cover several different periods including at least some riders– likely reservists– in the current TAZ 90 camo pattern with modern riding helmets.

Ever wanted a red dot on a BHP?

EAA over the past couple of years has been bringing in the new MC P35 platform from Girsan in Turkey, and the guns, essentially clones of the old Mk III BHP, have proven to be popular. Not content to rest on that, the company has responded to calls to update the classic and earlier this year delivered the OPS series, which adds an accessory rail to the frame and a flat-faced trigger without the mush of a magazine safety plunger to overcome.

Now, the logically named new MC P35 OPS Optic goes one better and comes from the factory micro red-dot slide cut in the RMS/RMSc footprint.

Better yet, they even throw in an optic.

You have to wonder what John Moses Browning would think of such a creature…

More in my column at Guns.com.

Ford Carrier Group to Actually Deploy Next Week (Kinda)

220917-N-TU663-1095 ATLANTIC OCEAN (Sept. 17, 2022) An F/A-18E Super Hornet attached to the “Gladiators” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 106 lands aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) during flight operations, Sept. 17, 2022. Gerald R. Ford is underway in the Atlantic Ocean conducting carrier qualifications and workups for a scheduled deployment this fall. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Daniel Perez)

Just a brief 1,899 days after she was commissioned, “Warship 78” will head out on her (likely brief) inaugural deployment.

Class leader USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78)— full of untried technology such as Advanced Weapons Elevators, advanced arrest gear, new and 25 percent more powerful Bechtel A1B reactors, and an Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System, while being crewed by a complement almost a third smaller than the same sized supercarriers she will be replacing (2,600 on Ford vs 3,532 on Nimitz)– has had lots of teething problems to be sure.

But they think the bugs are all worked out. 

ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 13, 2022) Aircraft attached to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 sit on USS Gerald R. Ford’s (CVN 78) flight deck as the ship steams through the Atlantic Ocean, April 13, 2022. Ford is underway conducting carrier qualifications and strike group integration prior to operational deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Riley McDowell)

First ordered in 2008, her story is a decade and a half in the making and, following months of post-delivery tests and trials (PDT&T), Full Ship Shock Trials (FSST), repairs, retrofitting, and flight deck certification with CVW-8 and supporting ops of Training Wing (TW 1), U.S. Fleet Forces Command announced yesterday she would operationally deploy to the 2nd Fleet on 3 October– Monday.

Her carrier group won’t go far– largely still in the North Atlantic– and won’t be gone long, working through eight phases and just one scheduled (but undisclosed) foreign port call, but it will be operational.

Now, Ford won’t have a full airwing but will carry aircraft of each of CVW-8s eight squadrons, and be escorted by three destroyers (USS Ramage, USS McFaul, USS Thomas Hudner) and a beautiful endangered cruiser (USS Normandy) along with a National Security Cutter (USCGC Hamilton) and two MSC-manned auxiliaries (a T-AO and a T-AKE). Further, she will be joined at sea at least part of the time by at least 13 Allied ships and submarines supplied by Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, and Sweden. A NATO-ish task force, in other words.

With the whole Nordstream situation and the tensions in Eastern Europe, the deployment is timely.

As noted by the Navy:

Ford is the flagship of the Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group (GRFCSG) and their first operational deployment will include air, maritime, and ground assets from NATO Allies and partner nations. The strike group will set sail from Norfolk, Virginia, and will operate in the Atlantic Ocean.

“The USS Gerald R. Ford Carrier Strike Group will deploy, integrating with Allies and partners, to demonstrate its unmatched, multi-domain, full-spectrum lethality in the Atlantic,” said Adm. Daryl Caudle, commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. “This trans-Atlantic deployment will strengthen our relationships, capacity, and trust to forge a more peaceful and prosperous world by leveraging the ‘One Atlantic’ Command and Control Concept.”

Innovation and interoperability are the key focal points of the GRFCSG’s deployment, allowing allied and partner nations to strengthen the collective defense of the Atlantic as well as to mature integration for future operations.

“The Atlantic is an area of strategic interest,” said Vice Adm. Dan Dwyer, commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet. “Our primary goal is to contribute to a peaceful, stable, and conflict-free Atlantic region through the combined naval power of our Allies and partners. The deployment of USS Gerald R. Ford’s carrier strike group is the natural progression of our renewed commitment to the Atlantic.”

Along with Allies and partners, the GRFCSG will focus training on air defense, anti-subsurface warfare, distributed maritime operations, mine countermeasures, and amphibious operations.

“This deployment is an opportunity to push the ball further down the field and demonstrate the advantage that Ford and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8 bring to the future of naval aviation, to the region, and to our Allies and partners,” said Rear Adm. Gregory Huffman, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 12.

Still, it is about time and the Navy says Ford will deploy on a more expeditionary six-month-ish cruise next year, so look at this Fall Excursion as a dress rehearsal.

Make Ready the Boarding and Capture team!

The Coast Guard Historian’s Office has the 316-page CG-260 manual of organizations and regs for 378-foot high endurance cutters, dated January 1973, digitized online.

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

Covering the dozen Hamilton-class cutters, it makes interesting reading, especially for those interested in Cold War/Vietnam-era Coastie and by extension Naval lore.

I found the Landing and VBSS (Visit, board, search, and seizure) bills particularly interesting.

They include a two-squad 27-man Landing team, a 6-man Visit/Search team, a 31-man Boarding and Capture team, and a 27-man Prize Crew with the number of pistols (at the time M1911s) and rifles/SMGs (M1 Garands and M1 Thompsons) listed.

The Hamiltons would, in the 1980s, upgrade their WWII-era small arms lockers to M9s and M16A2s while ditching their 5″/38 main battery for a MK 75 76mm OTO. Also gone were the 26-foot whaleboats in lieu of RHIBs.

And don’t scream about OPSEC, as all this stuff is a few generations outdated.

Anyway, enjoy!

Happy National Coffee Day

“Campaign sketches. The coffee call,” by Homer Winslow, 1863 lithograph:

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division. LC-DIG-pga-03007

A coffee recipe for a Civil War military hospital from the “The Hospital Steward’s Manual,” by Joseph Janvier Woodward, published in 1862:

“No.1. Coffee for ten men.

“Put 9 pints of water into a canteen, saucepan (or other vessel) on the fire; when boiling, add 7 1/2 oz. of coffee; mix them well together with a spoon or piece of wood; leave on the fire a few minutes longer, or until just beginning to boil.

“Take it off, and pour in 1 pint of cold water; let the whole remain ten minutes, or a little longer; the dregs will fall to the bottom, and the coffee will be clear. Pour it from one vessel into another, leaving the dregs at the bottom; add 2 teaspoonfuls of sugar to the pint. If milk is to be had, make 2 pints less of coffee, and add that much milk; boiled milk is preferable.

“REMARKS. – This receipt, properly carried out, would give 10 pints of coffee, or 1 pint per man.”

Source:
Woodward, Joseph Janvier, M.D., “The Hospital Steward’s Manual,” Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co., 1862.

Warship Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022: Bats, Retiring from the Line

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, Sept. 28, 2022: Bats, Retiring from the Line

Commonwealth of Australia/Royal Australian Navy image.

Above we see the Tribal (Arunta)-class destroyer HMAS Bataan (I91) of the Royal Australian Navy conducting a replenishment at sea in 1951 while dressed in her distinctive “Chicago Blue” scheme. A witness to the Japanese surrender in 1945, “Bats’” Korean War service was extensive, and she set out for home from her second stint off the coast of that peninsula some 70 years ago this week– only to be rewarded with early retirement.

Background on the Tribals

The Tribals were a new type of destroyer designed for the Royal Navy in the late 1920s to experience gained in the Great War and to match the large, modern escorts on the drawing boards of contemporary naval rivals of the time.

The Royal Canadian Navy’s HMCS Huron (G24), in dazzle camouflage, sailing out to sea during the Second World War during one of her countless trans-Atlantic escorting runs. The Tribal-class destroyer, commissioned on July 28,1943, also served in the Pacific theatre during the Korean War under the new pennant number 216.

These 378-foot vessels could make 36+ knots on a pair of geared steam turbines and a trio of Admiralty three-drum boilers while an impressive battery of up to eight 4.7″/45 (12 cm) QF Mark XII guns in four twin CPXIX mountings gave them the same firepower as early WWI light cruisers (though typically just three turrets were mounted).

Gun crew on Tribal-class destroyer HMCS Algonquin cleaning up their 4.7″/45 (12 cm) Mark XII guns after firing at the Normandy Beaches on 7 June 1944. Note that the crewman kneeling in the rear is holding a 4.7″ (12 cm) projectile. Library and Archives Canada Photograph MIKAN no. 3223884

Some 32 Tribals were planned in eight-ship flights: 16 for the RN (named after tribal warriors: HMS Eskimo, HMS Sikh, HMS Zulu, et. al), eight for the Royal Australian Navy, and eight for the Canadians. Of the Canadian ships, four were to be built by Vickers in the UK and the other four by Halifax shipyards in Nova Scotia. All the Canadian ships were to be named after First Nations tribes (Iroquois, Athabaskan, Huron, Haida, Micmac, Nootka, Cayuga, etc.)

An unidentified Tribal class destroyer in profile

We have discussed the very successful class in prior Warship Wednesdays (e.g., HMS Cossack and HMCS Haida) but relax, they are great ships with amazing histories.

Of the eight Tribals planned for Australia, only three– HMAS Arunta, HMAS Warramunga, and Bataan— were ever completed. All constructed at the Cockatoo (Island) Docks and Engineering Company near Sydney, Arunta and Warramunga joined the war in 1942 while Bataan would follow three years later, and the five others ultimately canceled.

HMAS Bataan was laid down on 18 February 1942 as the last Australian Tribal-class destroyer and was originally going to be named either HMAS Chingilli or HMAS Kurnai, but was renamed in response to the U.S. Navy’s christening in 1943 of the Baltimore-class heavy cruiser USS Canberra (CA-70) in honor of the sunken County-class heavy cruiser HMAS Canberra, the latter lost to the Japanese alongside two American cruisers in the disaster at Savo Island the year prior. As such, she was the only Tribal not to be named after a people or nation of the British Empire (RAN Tribals were named for Aboriginal tribes.)

Mrs. Jean Marie MacArthur, the wife of General Douglas MacArthur, was invited to launch her.

Since she was completed three years after Arunta and Warramunga, Bataan was an updated version of her older sisters including a lattice foremast with an American SC pattern radar, and six single 40mm Bofors as close-range armament.

WWII

Following shakedown, Bataan put on a British destroyer pennant and sailed for the Philippines in July 1945 to join Task Force 74 in Subic Bay, then in company with sister Warramunga, made for Okinawa and the Japanese Home Islands with an eye to the sky, wary of kamikaze.

The Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Bataan (I91) anchored off Manila, Philippines, circn August 1945. She wears the British Pacific Fleet pennant number “D09”. Note her American SC radar fit on the foremast, different from most RN Tribals of the time which usually carried a British Type 268 Cheese antenna” set. Photo by Pte. M.V. Gulliver, AWM 134521.

On the morning of 31 August 1945, Bataan and Warramunga were part of the British Pacific Fleet ships that entered Tokyo Bay, screening the cruisers HMS Newfoundland, HMNZS Gambia, HMAS Shropshire, and HMAS Hobart. At 0930 on 2 September, they stood by for the formal surrender ceremony that took place on the battleship USS Missouri, which MacArthur, among others, attended.

Bataan soon got into the business of coming to the rescue of Allied POWs liberated post VJ-Day in addition to occupation and disarmament duties which kept her in Japanese waters until November. Then came a much less tense cruise home.

Crossing the line ceremony, 1945, via the AWM.

Korea

Returning to Japan on occupation duties in September 1946, Bataan would spend 17 months there in four different tours through 1949 and then would return in June 1950 for her fifth post-war cruise to the rebuilding country. As the North Korean Army crossed the 38th Parallel into South Korea on 25 June, Australia, under UN mandate, was soon in another war.

On 29 June 1950, Bataan, along with the River-class frigate HMAS Shoalhaven (K535) and the cruiser HMS Belfast as Task Group 96.8, was placed at the disposal of the British Far East Fleet commanded by RADM William Andrewes. The ships, joined by the RAAF’s No.77 Squadron– a P-51 Mustang squadron based in Japan– were Australia’s first contribution to the conflict.

Following duty escorting troop convoys from Japan to Korea, Bataan was carved off from the British fleet and joined TG 96.5 for the Pohang amphibious operation, screening the cruiser USS Juneau (CL-119), and clocking in with three American tin cans (Coller, Higbee, and Kyes) for NGFS.

On 1 August, Admiral Andrewes took Belfast and Bataan into the Haeju Man approaches to bombard the shore batteries guarding this potential source of enemy seaborne supply.

HMAS Bataan’s 4.7s in action

She would continue to lend her guns to the fight, supporting mine sweeping and counter-battery fire in the Kunsan approaches in September and covering the amphibious landings at Wonsan in October.

By the end of the year, she was operating in the freezing seas just 12 miles from the entrance of the Yalu under arctic conditions.

British Commonwealth destroyers moored off Yokosuka, Japan, after returning from combat patrols in Korean WatersThe phototo is dated 26 January 1951. The ships are (from left to right): HMAS Warramunga HMAS Charity, and HMAS Bataan. NH 90625

Supporting the fighting withdrawal from the Yalu after the New Year, operating in direct support of the U.S. 8th Army, her first Korean war tour ended on 18 May. During her 11-month deployment, Bataan was underway for more than 4,000 hours on active operations and steamed some 63,292 miles.

Following a seven-month refit and shakedown, Bataan deployed from Sydney in January 1952 for a second Korean tour, relieving HMAS Murchison at Kure the next month.

As noted by the RAN:

It was the familiar pattern on the west coast of Korea, blockade enforcement, shore bombardment and escort duty. The weather, true to the forebodings of old hands in the ship, was bleak and squally with temperatures down to 12 degrees Fahrenheit. On the night of her arrival Bataan was allocated a patrol between Sokto and Chodo, three miles from the enemy held mainland, for harassing fire support.

The patrolling was constant and enemy forces active. On 13 February the destroyer carried out her first air spot bombardment using spotters from HMS Glory to shell enemy troops encamped outside the village of Pungchon. Later the same day as dusk was falling a brief duel began between the ship and 75mm shore batteries, ending with silence from the enemy and a single hit on the captain’s day cabin after 78 rounds of 4.7-inch ammunition had started two fires on the battery positions. The patrol ended on 24 February with a heavy bombardment of enemy positions on the mainland opposite Hodo Island. 543 rounds of 4.7-inch and 75 rounds of 4-inch ammunition had been expended when the ship finally withdrew en route for Sasebo.

Curiously, the U.S. Navy was operating USS Bataan (CVL-29) off Korea while our HMAS Bataan was in the region.

USS Bataan (CVL-29), shown here underway in January 1952 with “Black Sheep” F4U-4B Corsair fighter-bombers of VMF-314 on board, was planned as the Cleveland-class light cruiser USS Buffalo (CL-99), she was one of the Clevelands chosen for conversion into Independence-class light carriers and was therefore renamed from her traditional cruiser “city” moniker in honor of the Battle of Bataan. Commissioned on 17 November 1943, the flattop earned six battle stars for WWII and another seven for Korea. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-633888

And, in true naval history fashion, the two even worked together at least twice, in January 1951 and again in March-April 1952.

HMAS Bataan (I91) escorting USS Bataan (CVL-29) off the coast of Korea, April 17th, 1951. NHHC image.

In May 1952, Bataan served as a mothership for inshore daylight guerrilla raids by Wolfpack and Donkey partisan groups while firing 400 4.7-inch shells in close support, bombarding the enemy on eight occasions, leaving her skipper to note that the month was “never a dull moment.” Then came an extended period operating on the screen of the British carrier HMS Ocean.

Korea. Elevated port side view showing detail of the forward part of the destroyer HMAS Bataan (ex-HMAS Kurnai) (D191) as she receives personnel by highline from the aircraft carrier HMS ocean. Note forward twin 4.7-inch Mk XII guns in cp xix mountings, with the breeches of B mounting prominent and the 40 mm Bofors aa gun in the port bridge wing. Behind the bridge are the director control tower and rangefinder tower MK II with a Type 285 fire control radar mounted upon the latter. Note rope stowage in the blast screen forward of B mounting and Carley floats by the forward superstructure with paddles neatly arrayed. The screening destroyer in the background is HMS Consort. (Naval Historical Collection) AWM.

August saw her flirting with Typhoon Karen as she prepared to end her 2nd Korean deployment. On the books were 40,277 steaming miles fothese nine monthsod and arrived back at Sydney on 3 October. In all, she fired 3,462 rounds of 4.7-inch, 549 rounds of 4-inch, 8,891 rounds of 40mm, and 3,240 rounds of 2-pounder pom-pom ammunition in anger in 1950-52. This was only bettered in the war by her sister ship Warramunga.

Operating off the Korean coast, members of HMAS Bataan, load a 4.7 gun for firingin , August 1952. Note the soup bowl helmets but lack of flash gear. Pictured, left to right; Able Seaman A. P. ‘Jock’ Harley, Leading Seaman R. J. ‘Bob’ McArthur, Leading Seaman Hugh M. Currie (rear), and Able Seaman N. B. Cregan. AWM HOBJ3429.

Combat artist Frank Norton was aboard her in Korea and several of his works in which Bataan is at the center are in the AWM collection. On 7 August 1952, Norton was transferred at sea to HMAS Bataan (via helicopter from Ocean to HMS Newcastle than at sea to the destroyer by jackstay) to ride out the rest of the tin can’s last Korean patrol, including Typhoon Karen.

View from the deck of destroyer HMAS Bataan towards unidentified ships at anchor, small craft transferring men to USS Strong (DD-758), an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer of Task Force (TF) 77. Strong deployed to Korea from June to October 1952 and served with the United Nations Blockade and Escort Group on the west coast and was at Pusan, Songjin, and Wonsan.

Norton depicts part of RAN destroyer HMAS Bataan, with motor and sail junks manned by members of the Wolfpack irregular forces alongside. The RAN destroyer HMAS Bataan is not to be confused with the United States Navy aircraft carrier USS Bataan.

A view of typhoon ‘Karen’ from the deck of the Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Bataan on the high seas, with unidentified ships on the horizon. In a letter to the Director of the Memorial in September 1952, Norton recalled ‘The day after joining “Bataan”, all ships on the coast were forced out to sea by Typhoon “Karen” – and rode out – the backlash of the storm. Norton strove to convey a sense of the Korean coastal landscape and weather during patrols. In his letter, he comments on the unpleasant conditions at sea caused by cramped living quarters and tropical weather.

Final hurrah!

Arriving back home from two lengthy Korean deployments, Bataan was selected for conversion to an anti-submarine escort destroyer in late 1952. This saw the deletion of her WWII anti-air suite, the fit of a Squid anti-submarine mortar, and the replacement of the foremast with a lattice structure. She would sail on exercises with RNZN ships and those of other SEATO members in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea, roaming as far as Singapore.

In October 1953, sailing in conjunction with the carrier HMS Vengeance, Bataan would suffer an “intense cyclonic depression” that damaged the destroyer.

Patched up but with a wonky bow, six months later she would be part of the Royal escort for Queen Elizabeth II’s state visit to Australia.

HMS Ceylon escorts the Royal yacht SS Gothic along with HMAS Bataan (I91), HMAS Anzac (D59), and HMS Vengeance (R71), in April 1954.

Vengeance made the occasion unique.

As noted by the RAN, “On seeing the image taken of Vengeance, HM is reported to have commented that it was a most original forgery.'” Photo via the Robert Elliston Glasgow Collection – State Library of Western Australia.

Following that handover of Gothic to the cruisers HM Ships Colombo and Newfoundland in the Indian Ocean, on 5 April, during a replenishment at sea between Vengeance and Bataan off Cocos Island, the destroyer became entangled and cracked up in rough seas against the hull of the much larger carrier.

HMAS BATAAN in a terrifying jam – L.M. Hair, HMAS CERBERUS Museum.

HMAS CERBERUS MUSEUM COLLECTION 156 HMAS BATAAN and VENGEANCE photo L.M. Hair.

As detailed by the Naval Historical Society of Australia:

Former Chief Radio Electrician Bill Robertson, who was on board Bataan at the time, believes the collision was caused by a rogue wave which lifted Bataan’s bow and turned the ship towards Vengeance, when there were less than 10 tons of fuel left to transfer.

“The change in heading couldn’t be controlled by the quartermaster in time to avoid a collision,” he said. “The Venturi effect, so dreaded when two moving vessels are so close together, held Bataan’s port side in contact with Vengeance’s starboard side. “There was an imminent danger Bataan would roll over and be sucked under Vengeance.” Mr. Robertson said, as Bataan slowly slid aft, each time Vengeance rolled to starboard, her AA platforms came down on Bataan’s port superstructure. “Then the port side of the PO’s Mess, the ‘B’ gun deck, and the Bofors platform on the port side of the bridge were all crushed,” he said. “I remember thinking the noise sounded like the damage was going to be expensive.”

According to Mr. Robertson, only the quick thinking of CO Bataan CMDR Glenn Fowle saved the ship. “He ordered, ‘hard a’ port, full ahead together’,” he said. “This forced our bow into Vengeance while kicking the stern out. “When Bataan had pushed itself out to about 45 degrees, the CO ordered full astern together, which separated the ships but didn’t do the bow any favors. “At the time of the action I was on the starboard side of the bridge with a lifejacket in one hand and a roll of toilet paper in the other, somewhat unsure which had priority.”

Her bow banged up even further, Bataan paid off at Sydney on 18 October 1954, having steamed 279,395 miles since commissioning. Placed on the Disposal List, she was soon sold to a Japanese shipbreaker for demolition.

Epilogue

Several relics from the destroyer are in the Australian War Memorial collection including a Hinomaru signed by 55 of her crew in indelible purple ink on the occasion of the surrender of Japan in Tokyo Harbor on 2 September 1945.

The AWM also has her RAN Reports of Proceedings on file as well and the Memorial has digitized them. For reference, the Jan. 1950-Jan. 1952 file for Bataan is 231 pages alone.

Meanwhile, there are several markers to Bataan dedicated around Australia.

In 2021, a 1/72 scale model of Bataan, crafted from brass, copper, and aluminum over two years by one of her WWII vets, was put on display at the entrance to the Sea Power Centre – Australia’s Naval History Section in Canberra. 

Said her 95-year-old maker and former destroyerman, “I’m upset, looking at warships today. They are just steel boxes with a sharp end on them. There’s no shape to them, no flares, they’re not romantic, unlike Bataan,” and I cannot agree more.

As for Bataan’s sisters, both Arunta and Warramunga earned honors for WWII and Korea, then were paid off in the 1960s, experiencing a longer life than that seen by Bats. It is no surprise that these two ships topped 357,273 miles as steamed by Arunta and a half million miles steamed by Warramunga.

When it comes to her expanded Tribal-class family, no less than 12 of the 16 members in British service were lost during WWII and the remaining quartet paid off by 1949. All the Tribals in Canadian service were sold to the breakers by 1969 save for Haida who is the only member preserved as a museum ship, all others turned to razor blades.

Known as “Canada’s most-fightingest ship” Haida (DDE 215) is open to the public in Hamilton, Ontario. Like Bataan, she saw combat in both WWII and Korea, decommissioned in October 1963 after 20 years of hard service. (Parks Canada)

Specs:
Displacement:1,959 long tons (1,990 t) tons standard, 2,519 long tons (2,559 t) deep load
Length: 377 ft (114.9 m)
Beam: 37 ft 6 in (11.4 m)
Draught: 13 ft (4.0 m)
Propulsion:
2 shafts; 3-Admiralty 3 drum type boilers
2 × Parsons Marine geared steam turbines, 44,000 shp
Speed: 36.5 knots (maximum), 32 knots (service)
Complement: 259 (14 officers, 245 ratings)

Armament:

3 x 2 4.7-inch (119 mm)/45 QF Mark XII guns in twin Mark XIX mounts
1 x 2 4-inch (102 mm)/45 Mark XVI QF in twin mount
6 x 40mm Bofors
1 quad launcher with Mk.IX torpedoes (4 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes)
1 rail + 2 Mk.IV throwers (Mk.VII depth charges)


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Coast Guard Keeps tabs on China in Aleutians, Maldives, and West Pac

The Coast Guard, flush with capable new vessels, has been steadily stretching its legs as of late, taking up the Navy’s slack a bit, and waving the flag increasingly in overseas locations. This new trend makes sense as, besides the formal People’s Liberation Army Navy, the growing (200 white hulled cutters) China Coast Guard and People’s Armed Forces Maritime Militia (4,600 blue hulled trawlers) are everywhere.

Case in point, this week the USCG’s 17th District, which covers Alaska, announced the USCGC Kimball (WMSL-756), while on a routine patrol in the Bering Sea, encountered the 13,000-ton Chinese Type 055 “destroyer” (NATO/OSD Renhai-class cruiser) Renhai (CG 101), sailing approximately 75 nautical miles north of Kiska Island. A state-of-the-art vessel comparable to a Ticonderoga-class cruiser but larger, Renhai has a 112-cell VLS system as well as two helicopters and a 130mm naval gun. Compare this to Kimball’s single 57mm MK110 and CIWS, and you see the disparity.

A Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crewmember observing a foreign vessel in the Bering Sea, September 19, 2022. (USCG Photo)

Kimball also noted other ships as well.

Via 17th District:

The Kimball crew later identified two more Chinese naval vessels and four Russian naval vessels, including a Russian Federation Navy destroyer, all in a single formation with the Renhai as a combined surface action group operating in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

As a result, the Kimball crew is now operating under Operation Frontier Sentinel, a Seventeenth Coast Guard District operation designed to meet presence with presence when strategic competitors operate in and around U.S. waters. The U.S Coast Guard’s presence strengthens the international rules-based order and promotes the conduct of operations in a manner that follows international norms. While the surface action group was temporary in nature, and Kimball observed it disperse, the Kimball will continue to monitor activities in the U.S. EEZ to ensure the safety of U.S. vessels and international commerce in the area. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak C-130 Hercules aircrew provided support to the Kimball’s Operation Frontier Sentinel activities.

This is not the first time Coast Guard cutters deployed to the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean encountered Chinese naval vessels inside the U.S. EEZ/MARDEZ. Last August, Kimball and her sister Berthoff kept tabs on a surface action group– a guided missile cruiser, a guided missile destroyer, a general intelligence vessel, and an auxiliary vessel– transiting within 46 miles of the Aleutians.

Meanwhile, in the Maldives

Kimball’s sister, the Hawaii-based USCGC Midgett (WMSL 757) and crew, on a Westpac patrol under the tactical control of 7th Fleet, arrived in the Maldives last week, the first Coast Guard ship to visit the 1,200-island Indian Ocean country since USCGC Boutwell in 2009.

The class of large (418-foot/4,500-ton) frigate-sized cutters have done numerous Westpac cruises in the past few years. Since 2019, the cutters Bertholf (WMSL 750), Stratton (WMSL 752), Waesche (WMSL 751), and Munro (WMSL 755) have deployed to the Western Pacific.

Micronesia and the Solomans

Capping off a six-week extended patrol across Oceania, the 154-foot Webber/Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) arrived back at homeport in Guam on 19 September.

The 20-member crew, augmented by two Guam-based shoreside Coasties (a YN2 and an MK2) two Navy rates (an HS2 and HM3), and a Marine Korean linguist, conducted training, fisheries observations, community and key leader engagements, and a multilateral sail.

How about that blended blue and green crew? “The crew of the Sentinel-class fast response cutter USCGC Oliver Henry (WPC 1140) takes a moment for a photo in Cairns, Australia, Sept. 5, 2022. The U.S. Coast Guard is conducting a routine deployment in Oceania as part of Operation Blue Pacific, working alongside Allies, building maritime domain awareness, and sharing best practices with partner nation navies and coast guards. Op Blue Pacific is an overarching multi-mission U.S. Coast Guard endeavor promoting security, safety, sovereignty, and economic prosperity in Oceania while strengthening relationships with our regional partners.” (U.S. Coast Guard photo Petty Officer 2nd Class Sean Ray Blas)

They covered more than 8,000 nautical miles from Guam to Cairns, Queensland, Australia, and returned with several stops in Papua New Guinea and one in the Federated States of Micronesia. They also operated with HMS Spey, the first Royal Navy warship to be forward deployed to the Pacific since Hong Kong went back to China.

The two ships were also– and this is key– refused a port visit in the Solomans which is now under a treaty with China that allows PLAN ships to refuel in Honiara. The local government there later clarified that not all foreign military ships were off limits to their ports, as Australia and New Zealand will be exempt (both countries have significant economic ties with the island nation) but it is still a bad look. Of irony, Spey and Oliver Henry were conducting an Operation Island Chief mission in the region, policing illegal fishing of the kind China is noted for.

The Coast Guard currently has three new FRCs in Guam including Henry, Myrtle Hazard (WPC 1139), and Frederick Hatch (1143), giving them options in the Westpac.

The Guide Gun is Back…

The Guide Gun, a hard-hitting carbine with an 18.5-inch barrel chambered in .45-70 Government, was one of the “old” Marlin’s staples, produced from 1998 until 2020 when the brand shuttered with the bankruptcy of Remington Outdoors.

The Marlin 1895G/SG from the maker’s 2018 catalog.

Now, with Marlin since acquired by Ruger and moved under the house of the Red Phoenix, the Guide is back in the field. Still based on the M1895 lever gun with a .45-70 chambering, the new “big loop” model goes a little longer than past carbines, stretching the alloy steel barrel to 19.1 inches for an overall length of 37.25 inches.

What is new is that the cold hammer-forged barrel is threaded– 11/16″-24TPI– and a companion 6+1 mag tube (versus 4+1 in the old 1895G) which explains the bump in length. The gun, Ruger’s first introduction of an alloy steel Marlin rifle with a blued finish, weighs 7.4 pounds.

Plus, it is about $200-250 less than Muger’s other M1895s…

More in my column at Guns.com.

‘A New Kind of Navy Man Pioneering a New Concept of Sea Power in the Age of Space’

Enjoy this great 27-minute circa 1960 film “Man And The FBM” covering the Navy’s Cold War Fleet Ballistic Missile submarine force and the UGM-27 Polaris nuclear-tipped SLBMs they carried. 

Keep in mind, the film was made just a few years after USS Nautilus took to the sea and only 15 since the first, comparatively puny, A-bomb was dropped from a propeller-driven bomber.

These first nuclear-powered FBM submarines, armed with long-range strategic missiles, were ordered on 31 December 1957, with the building attack submarine USS Scorpion (SSN-589) lengthened with a 130-foot section to accommodate 16 Polaris missiles.

Rear Admiral William F. Rayborn, USN (left), and Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN, Chief of Naval Operations. Examine a cutaway model of the ballistic missile submarine George Washington (SSBN-598), July 1959. Official U.S. Navy photograph. Catalog#: USN 710496.

Completed as USS George Washington (SSBN-598), she was commissioned on 30 December 1959, just short of two years later, the first of the “41 for Freedom” boats that kicked off the strategic missile deterrent patrol system still maintained today. Footage of the GW’s commissioning is included in the film. 

Seldom heard from, the 41 boats of the FBM program made an incredible 2,824 armed patrols during their time on earth, each typically about 65 days. This is about 502 patrol years at sea during the Cold War.

Enjoy!

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