Tag Archive | batttleship

Warship Wednesday, March 21, 2018: After 75 years, take a breather

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all of their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

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Here we see the Cannon-class destroyer escort USS Atherton (DE 169) in a shot taken from a US Navy Blimp as the two team up to sink U-boats in the Atlantic in 1945.

The class, ordered in 1942 to help stem the tide of the terrible U-boat menace in the Atlantic, was also known as the DET type from their Diesel Electric Tandem drive. The DET’s substitution for a turbo-electric propulsion plant was the primary difference with the predecessor Buckley (“TE”) class. The DET was in turn replaced with a direct drive diesel plant to yield the design of the successor Edsall (“FMR”) class In all, although 116 Cannon-class destroyer escorts were planned, *only* 72 were completed. Some of her more famous sisters included the USS Eldridge, the ship claimed to be a part of the infamous Philadelphia Experiment.

Named for contemporary naval hero Lt (JG) John McDougal Atherton, lost on the destroyer USS Meredith (DD-434) when she was jumped by planes from Zuikaku, our hearty destroyer escort was built at Federal Shipbuilding and Drydock Company, Newark, New Jersey, and commissioned at the height of the battle of the Atlantic on 29 August 1943. This hearty little 1600-ton boat, just a hair over 300-feet long was packed with guns, torpedoes, Hedgehog ASW mortars, depth charge racks, and projectors.

By January 1944, she was prowling the Atlantic as part of TF60, escorting convoys from Norfolk and New York City to various ports in the Mediterranean. As noted by DANFs, these ports included Casablanca, Morocco; Bizerte, Tunisia; and Oran, Algeria.

On 6 May 1945, she counted coup on the German submarine U-853 (Oblt. Helmut Frömsdorf and 54 hands) and was given credit for her sinking. She sent her to the bottom 7 miles east of Block Island, Rhode Island, resulting in the loss of her entire crew.

“After four depth charge attacks, pieces of broken wood, cork, mattresses, and an oil slick broke the surface. Atherton, in conjunction with Moberly (PF-63), was later credited with destroying the German submarine U-853,” said DANFS.

USS Moberly conducts a Hedgehog attack on U-853, USS Atherton in distance. HH-NH48872

U-853M-26G2451

The encounter was the day before Generalfeldmarschall Wilhelm Keitel signed the Allied surrender terms, in Berlin, but U-853, a Type IXC/40 submarine, showed no signs of surrendering– she sank the SS Black Point, a small collier out of Boston, just the day before Atherton found her.

According to NHHC, U-853 was one of the final half-dozen German subs sent to the bottom in combat, with three others (U-1008, U-2534, and U-881) being scratched the same day and U-320 meeting Davy Jones on 7 May.

Today the U853 is a popular dive, lying in just 120 feet of water 11 miles off the US East Coast. You can thank the USS Atherton for putting her there.

Today the U853 is a popular dive, lying in just 120 feet of water 11 miles off the US East Coast. You can thank the USS Atherton for putting her there.

The action contributed to Atherton winning her sole battlestar for Atlantic Action in WWII.

Post-VE-Day, she immediately sailed for the Pacific and conducted anti-sub patrols there for a few more months before the Japanese surrendered. The plucky destroyer escort was decommissioned 10 December 1945 and placed in reserve status for 10 years before she got on with her life.

On 14 June 1955, Atherton was transferred to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), becoming one of the first ships of the new Japanese Navy, operating as the destroyer escort JDS Hatsuhi (DE-263, later FF-6) though this is sometimes spelled “Atsuhi” is western sources.

She put in a solid 20 years with the Japanese.

Japanese frigate Atsuhi, commissioned as USS ATHERTON (DE-169). Turned over to JMSDF, 14 June 1955. Paid off June 1975. Transferred to the Philippines, 13 September 1976. NH 46122

DE 263 JDS Hatsuhi – Japan Maritime Self defense Force (1955-75)

NH 46123, Japanese frigate Atsuhi, FF-6

The Japanese returned the then 30-plus-year-old Atherton and her sister-ship, the former USS Amick (DE-168), to the US Navy in 1977. Then, the vintage tin cans began a third career as a Barko ng Republika ng Pilipinas (BRP) naval vessel.

Following a refit in South Korea paid for in part by Washington, the two joined the Philippine Navy 27 February 1980. At the time the island nation was already operating another Cannon-class warship– the former USS Booth (DE-170). The deal also saw Manila buy the condemened sister ships former USS Muir (DE-770) and USS Sutton (DE-771) from the Koreans for a token fee. These two ships were so old and worn out that they were acquired simply with the intention to be cannibalized for spare parts to keep the Atherton, Boothe, and Amick running.

Well, in 1981, Booth (as BRP Datu Kalantiaw PS-76) was sunk during a typhoon, leaving just two DEs in the PI.

The former USS Boothe hard aground after a typhoon in 1981. This left the PI Navy with but two destroyer escorts...

The former USS Boothe hard aground after a typhoon in 1981. This left the PI Navy with but two destroyer escorts…Atherton and Amick

Then Amick, thoroughly worn-out (as BRP Datu Sikatuna PF-5) was scrapped in 1989.

This left Atherton (as BRP Rajah Humabon PF-11), as the only real blue-water warship left in the Philippine Navy. Other than a three-year local refit/lay-up from 1993-1996, this humble 300-foot ship held the line for over two decades.

SOUTH CHINA SEA (April 21, 2009) - Philippine Navy ship BRP Rajah Humabon (PF 11) steams ahead during an exercise with the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), as part of exercise Balikatan 2009 (BK09). Essex has been invited by the Republic of the Philippines to participate in BK09, which is an annual combined, joint-bilateral exercise involving U.S. and Armed Forces of the Philippines personnel, as well as subject matter experts from Philippine civil defense agencies. BK09 is the 25th in the series of these exercises, directed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and requested by the government of the Republic of the Philippines. Essex is commanded by Capt. Brent Canady and is the lead ship of the only forward-deployed U.S. Amphibious Ready Group and serves as the flagship for CTF 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force commander. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with a detachment in Sasebo, Japan. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Johnson/Released)........Other than the dazzle paint and some commercial navigational radar, she is the same as pictured above in 1945.

SOUTH CHINA SEA (April 21, 2009) – Philippine Navy ship BRP Rajah Humabon (PF 11) steams ahead during an exercise with the forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) and the amphibious dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), as part of exercise Balikatan 2009 (BK09). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Greg Johnson/Released)……..Other than the dazzle paint and some commercial navigational radar, she is the same as pictured above in 1945.

In 2011, the 44-year old USCGC Hamilton (WHEC-715), was transferred to the Philipines by the US State Department and renamed BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PF-15), giving the Atherton her first back up in over 20 years. Another “378” the USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716), was transferred in 2013 as the BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PF-16). A third, ex-USCGC Boutwell (WHEC-719), followed as BRP Andres Bonifacio (FF 17) in 2016.

Today the larger, younger and better equipped Hamilton/Pilar, Dallas/Alcaraz and Boutwell/Bonifacio undertake most blue water missions while the old USS Atherton/JDS Hatsuhi/BRP Rajah Humabon, at a spry 70-years of age, was still considered in active, albeit limited commission, armed, and ready to respond if needed– up until last week.

BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-78)

As such, she was only one of just three ships to still carry working 3-inch Mk22 guns (the other two being a Brazilian river monitor and a Thai sister ship) as well as the last warship in the world to carry the old Oerlikon 20mm in active service. Besides the museum ship USS Slater (DE-766), now sitting dockside in Albany New York, and the pierside training ship USS Hemminger (DE-746) (now HTMS Pin Klao DE-1) in Thailand, Atherton is the last destroyer escort afloat in the world, and the only one since 1992 still in regular naval service.

However, all good things must eventually come to an end, and as noted by the Philippine Navy on 15 March 2018:

“After 38 years of service, the Philippine Navy (PN) has formally retired its oldest warship, the BRP Rajah Humabon (PS-11), one of the last World War II-era warships still in active service, during short ceremonies in Sangley Point, Cavite Thursday morning,” said Philippine Fleet spokesperson Lt. Sahirul Taib in a message Thursday.

The retirement of BRP Rajah Humabon is in-line with the Navy’s Strategic Sail Plan of “moving to legacy vessels to more and capable and modern vessels,” he added.

She will be preserved, turned into one of the exhibits at the Philippine Navy (PN) Museum in Sangley Point, Cavite City. Taib said in a subsequent interview that turning the ship into an exhibit would happen shortly after it is stripped of its navigational equipment and other usable items.

Here in the states, Atherton is remembered by a veterans’ group and has a memorial on display aboard the USS Slater (DE-766) Museum. While a number of scale models are availble to celebrate the class, some of which specifically include Atherton in her Japanese scheme.

Not bad for a ship, class, and type that was considered disposable.

Specs:

Cannon class DE’s via USS Slater.com

Displacement: 1,240 tons standard
1,620 tons full load
Length: 93.3 metres (306.1 ft)
Beam: 11 metres (36.1 ft)
Draft: 3.5 metres (11.5 ft) full load
Propulsion: 4 GM Mod. 16-278A diesel engines with electric drive
4.5 MW (6000 shp), 2 screws
Speed: 21 knots
Range: 10,800 nmi at 12 knots (22 km/h)
Complement: 15 officers 201 enlisted men
Armament: • 3 × single Mk.22 3″/50 caliber guns
• 3 × twin 40 mm Mk.1 AA gun
• 8 × 20 mm Mk.4 AA guns
• 3 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
• 1 × Hedgehog Mk.10 anti-submarine mortar (144 rounds)
• 8 × Mk.6 depth charge projectors
• 2 × Mk.9 depth charge tracks

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 it place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

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Update to København mystery ship, new photos

Last July I covered the mystery of the Danish school ship København, one of the largest sailing ships ever built at a staggering 430-feet long and 4,000-tons. She is also one of the most enduring mysteries of the sea, having vanished in the South Atlantic in late 1928, with not a soul of her 17 officers and 62 naval cadet crew ever seen again.

Well LSOZI reader Sue Trewartha from South Australia sent in a stack of old Kobenhavn photos for us to enjoy. You see the “Big Dane” was a regular in Australian waters on the wheat run– and in fact was making her way around the tip of South American headed Down Under when she vanished.

Sue tells me, “I have been collecting local and family history here at Ceduna since 1986 and have gathered these photos and chased up a little of the history of Kobenhavn as well.”

Many of these photos are from the collection of the Ceduna National Trust Museum and have rarely been seen. They are all large images so “click to big-up!”

This first one is the Kobenhavn at the Thevenard jetty. The jetty was only opened in 1920 and could handle large sailing ships http://www.ceduna.sa.gov.au/page.aspx?u=498#jetty . Ceduna National Trust Museum

This first one is the Kobenhavn at the Thevenard jetty. The jetty was only opened in 1920 and could handle large sailing ships. Ceduna National Trust Museum

Image by David Harding

Amidships image by David Harding

Painting signed by the captain of the Kobenhavn.  (Christensen?) for Mr Vin Irwin. His daughter Helene Bourne shared this photo with us and is happy we use it. Vin Irwin was the provisioner to the ships in Cedena as he was the local market owner from 1912-1953. As such he built up a close relationship with the various captains.

Painting signed by the captain of the Kobenhavn (Christensen?) for Mr Vin Irwin. His daughter Helene Bourne shared this photo with us and is happy we use it. Vin Irwin was the provisioner to the ships in Cedena as he was the local market owner from 1912-1953. As such he built up a close relationship with the various captains.

At the jetty, group of locals on jetty.  From the Ceduna National Trust.

At the jetty, group of locals on jetty. She truly was an impressive ship.
From the Ceduna National Trust.

Kobenhavn Captain. Image courtesy of Helene Bourne

Captain of the sailing ship Mexico, who was part of the search for the Kobenhavn. Image courtesy of Helene Bourne

Photo labeled sailors and locals on board.  This photo is shared by the family of Percy Lange, Ceduna.

Photo labeled sailors and locals on board Kobenhavn. This photo is shared by the family of Percy Lange, Ceduna.

Train along docks with Kobenhavn in distance. Photo courtesy of Helene Bourne

Train along docks with Kobenhavn in distance. Photo courtesy of Helene Bourne

This photo shows Kobenhavn on the right, and possibly steam ship VARDULIA on the other side. the smaller boat may be one that has lightered bagged wheat from smaller ports in the area, into THEVENARD

This photo shows Kobenhavn on the right, and possibly steam ship VARDULIA on the other side. the smaller boat may be one that has lightered bagged wheat from smaller ports in the area, into THEVENARD

Kobenhavn  being loaded with bagged wheat. Photo courtesy of  Geoff Lowe of Ceduna

Kobenhavn being loaded with bagged wheat. Photo courtesy of Geoff Lowe of Ceduna

Kobenhavn tied to jetty no 2, Ceduna National Trust Museum.

Kobenhavn tied to jetty no 2, Ceduna National Trust Museum.

Thanks again Sue, and be sure to check out her group’s FB page for more great old photos.

Warship Wednesday, October 30 Mr. Holland’s toy

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, October 30 Mr. Holland’s toy

submarine1

Here we see what started off originally as the Holland VI, a small submersible invented by Mr. John Philip Holland in 1896. The ship was built at  Lewis Nixon’s Crescent Shipyard of Elizabeth, New Jersey for Mr. Holland as his sixth personal submarine (as the name implies).

Mr Holland showing off his boat for the media. Nothing says 1900 submarines like bowler hats...

Mr. Holland showing off his boat for the media. Nothing says 1900 submarines like bowler hats…

Just 53-feet long, she was the forerunner of every submarine today. Yes, there had been dozens of earlier experimental boats that had been produced in the US and Europe from the 1700s on,  but the Holland VI had several unique features that are now standard on underwater boats. These included both an internal combustion engine (in Hollands case a 45hp Otto gas engine) for running on the surface, and a 56kW electric motor for submerged operation. She had a re-loadable torpedo tube and a topside deck gun (a pneumatic dynamite gun!). There was a conning tower from which the boat and her weapons could be directed. Finally, she had all the necessary ballast and trim tanks to make precise changes in-depth and attitude underwater.

 

Holland1_1

What more could you ask for?

After running around the US coast and several interested (and very international ) parties popping in to take a look at it, the US Navy bought the little boat for $150-grand in 1900. This was about $3.5-million today. She was placed in commissioned six months later as USS Holland (SS-1) on 12 OCT 1900. The US promptly ordered six larger boats from Holland’s Electric Boat Company as did the Tsar.  It was Holland boats sold to the Russians that saw limited use in the Russo-Japanese war of 1904-05, itself a dress-rehearsal for most of the technology used in the First World War.

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Holland (SS-01), at the US Naval Acadamy, Annapolis, MD., summer of 1905. The crew on deck are, L to R: Harry Wahab, chief gunner's mate; Kane; Richard O. Williams, chief electrician; Chief Gunner Owen Hill, commanding; Igoe; Michael Malone; Barnett Bowie, Simpson, chief machinist mate, and Rhinelander. The two vessels on the right are monitors. The inboard vessel has only one turret and is probably one of 3 monitors: Arkansas (M-7), Nevada(M-8) or Florida (M-9). The outboard 2 turreted monitor is also one of 3 probables: Amphitrite (BM-2), Terror (M-4) or Miantonomah (BM-5).

Holland (SS-01), at the US Naval Academy, Annapolis, MD., summer of 1905. The crew on deck are, L to R: Harry Wahab, chief gunner’s mate; Kane; Richard O. Williams, chief electrician; Chief Gunner Owen Hill, commanding; Igoe; Michael Malone; Barnett Bowie, Simpson, chief machinist mate, and Rhinelander. The two vessels on the right are monitors. The inboard vessel has only one turret and is probably one of 3 monitors: Arkansas (M-7), Nevada(M-8) or Florida (M-9). The outboard 2 turreted monitor is also one of 3 probables: Amphitrite (BM-2), Terror (M-4) or Miantonomah (BM-5).

Made quickly obsolete by very rapid developments in submarine design not only in the US but in Russia, Germany, the UK, and France, she was decommissioned in 1905.

h53472

The Navy kept her for eight years in mothballs then sold her as scrap to Henry A. Hitner & Sons, of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on 18 June 1913 for $100.  Within just a few months of her being sold as scrap, British shipping was being sunk at amazing rates by German U-boats in WWI.

The breaker, with that in mind, held onto the ex-Holland through WWI, then passed her onto a local museum who held onto her for 15 years, only cutting her up in 1932 when the Depression dictated it was worth more in scrap iron regardless of sentimental attachment.

A small chunk of her is still in the National Museum of the Navy in Washington.

Nameplate of submarine Holland Exhibited in the “Dive, Dive, Dive!” display area in Bldg. 76

Today the Electric Boat Company still makes boats as part of GenDyn but Holland is largely forgotten.

h77191-1
Specs:

Displacement:     64 long tons (65 t) surfaced
74 long tons (75 t) submerged
Length:     53 ft 10 in (16.41 m) LOA
Beam:     10 ft 4 in (3.15 m) extreme
Draft:     8 ft 6 in (2.59 m)
Installed power:     45 bhp (34 kW) (gasoline engine), later upgraded to 160hp
75 bhp (56 kW) (electric motor)
66 Exide batteries
1 × screw
Speed:    First 3knots then later 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph) surfaced
5 knots (9.3 km/h; 5.8 mph) submerged
Complement:     6
Armament:     1 × 18 in (460 mm) torpedo tube forward

1 ‘Aerial torpedo tube’ (experimental)
1 × 8.4 in (210 mm) dynamite gun (removed in US Naval service)

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO)

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval lore http://www.warship.org/naval.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.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday October 23, The Net Jumping Cricket

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday October 23, The Net Jumping Cricket

mas2grillo
Here we see a rendering of a very interesting boat in the Italian Naval service during World War One. Part tank, part torpedo boat, it was designed to crawl over the nets protecting enemy naval bases, then punch holes in the bad guys ships, sending them to the bottom and  taking them out of the war.

When the Great War started, Italy, who was officially an ally of Germany and Austria, flung its hands in the air and proclaimed its official neutrality. You see Italy bordered France to the west, and faced the might of the combined British and French fleets in the Mediterranean, and had very little to gain for coming into the war for the two Kaisers, with everything to lose. Them, after eight months of wooing from the Allies, Italy double crossed their buddies and cast their lot with the West.  Although the Italian Army found itself in a bloody stalemate in the Alps against the Austrian army that brought nothing but misery, their navy served a very real purpose in bottling up the rather large Austrian fleet in the Adriatic. This freed up the British and French forces in the Med to move into the Atlantic to face the Germans.

Just look at all of those pretty Austrian battleships at anchor in Pula harbor. Here you see  Austro-Hungarian dreadnought battleships ( Tegetthoff class ) at the roadstead in Pula , Croatia , Which Was then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Just look at all of those pretty Austrian battleships at anchor in Pula harbor. Here you see Austro-Hungarian dreadnought battleships ( Tegetthoff class ) at the roadstead in Pula , Croatia , Which Was then a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

For most of 1915, 1916, and 1917 the Italian Navy, (Regia Marina) was content with holding the line across the Adriatic and keeping the Austrians in their ports. Then in 1918, they decided to go north and sink the Kaiser’s battleships where they slept. Two Italian torpedo boats made it into the lightly defended harbor at Trieste and sank the old battleship Wien. The problem was, the Austrians had years to fortify their largest naval base at Pola (now Pula in Croatia) with anti-submarine nets, anti-torpedo nets, underwater obstacles, coastal artillery, and naval mines. To penetrate these harbors, the Italians had to come up with something different.

1918 - Barchino saltatore 'Grillo'

They came up with the “Barchino saltatore” or “punt jumper”. These fifty foot long wooden hulled boats had a flat bottom and two tracks along each side of the hull, port and starboard. Each track held a series of metal crampon hooks and was turned by a set of pulleys fore and aft, propelled by a pair of 5hp electric motors. This unusual boat 8-ton could literally crawl over the rows of torpedo nets and anti-submarine nets that separated the Adriatic from the protected harbor. Once over the nets, the boat would drop into the inner harbor, where it would transit, using its spinning tracks to move like a side-mounted paddle wheel, at 4-knots. Then, lining up with an Austrian battleship at anchor, it would send two torpedoes into its side before beating feet (err, tracks) back out to sea. Of course this required the punt jumper to be towed to Pola and back by a larger ship, but once there, it was good to go.

1918 - Barchino d'assalto 'Grillo'

The Italians built four of these boats and named them the Cavalletta (Grasshopper) , Locusta (Locust), Pulce (Flea) and Grillo (Cricket). The were made a part of MAS 95 and 96 squadrons, which became famous for irregular naval actions in the war.

Four times in early May, 1918, two Italian destroyers, two torpedo boats, and the punt jumper Grillo left the Italian side of the Adriatic and made its way in convoy to Pula. On the first three of those attempts, conditions were less than ideal Then on the night of  May 13-14, 1918, the Grillo made a go of it with a mission to make it through Pola harbor. Crewed by Stoker Giuseppe Corrias, Seaman Angelino Berardinelli, and commanded by Lieutenant CC Pellegrini , the Grillo made it through four of the five Austrian obstruction nets, but got caught on on the last one. These obstacles were rows of timber baulks and wire hawsers six feet apart. Four out of five doesn’t count in harbor defenses and the Austrians opened fire on the helpless Grillo when it was caught in the searchlights, which sunk.

Pellegrini

Pellegrini

Her three-man crew was captured and ended the war as POWs, winning the Italian Gold Medal for Military Valor.

The Austrians Grillo clone

The Austrians Grillo clone

The Austrians thought it interesting enough to make one of their own as a testbed to make sure the Italians couldn’t get successful using one of these tank-boats in the future.

With that in mind, the Italians shelved the other three and concentrated on human torpedoes, which they used to penetrate Pola in November and sink the battleship Viribus Unitis (20,000 t) and the nearby steamer Wien (7,400 t) in the last days of the war.

imgdk2
Specs:
Displacement 8 tons
Length     16.0 m (52.29ft)
Width     3,10 m (10.17 ft)
Draft     0.75 m (2.46ft)
Propulsion     2 electric motors on axis for 10 HP total
Speed     4 knots
Range    30 mn at 4 knots
Crew     4
Armament     2x 450mm torpedoes

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO)

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval lore http://www.warship.org/naval.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.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday October 16, The Ship that Wouldnt Die

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday October 16, The Ship that Wouldnt Die

03

Here we see the  USS Franklin (CV-13), one of the 24 Essex class fleet carriers that were completed. Laid down a year to the
day after Pearl Harbor, the 800+ foot long ship was built in just over 400-days, commissioned 31 January 1944.

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She rushed out to sea, did her shake down cruise, and was almost immediately in combat. Among her crew was bandleader Horace Kirby “Saxie” Dowell, who had just had one of the largest hits in the country before the War started with “Three Little Fishes”, which was famously covered by the Andrews Sisters. Saxie at 37 was one of the oldest of the 2600 men on the boat.  But like Saxie, most of the rank and file had only a year before been a civilian.

USS_Franklin_(CV-13)-Tarn

By June 1944 she was neck-deep in Japanese disputed waters, sending sorties into Bonin and Mariana Islands, Peleliu, and other islands on the final push towards the Empire. Then came the Philippines in October where Franklin and her escorts fought in the Battle of the Sibuyan Sea in which her planes helped drop ordnance on the Japanese battleships Musashi, Fuso, and Yamashiro. This was followed by the Battle off Cape Engano where her planes helped scratch the Emperor’s carriers Zuiho and Chiyoda.

Then by March 1945, she was the closest US carrier to the Japanese coast, lying just 50 miles offshore. It was then on 19 March that a single Japanese aircraft came in low and slow on Franklin and dropped two 550-pound bombs right on to her deck. There she had 31 fully armed and fueled aircraft ready to take off for strikes against the home islands. The resulting explosions and fires led to an amazing struggle between men and flame. This left the ship dead in the water, charred, and listing at 13-degrees. Suffering 807 killed and more than 487 wounded, half of the ship’s crew had been killed or seriously injured. Cumulatively on the magazine explosion on the USS Arizona at Pearl Harbor caused more loss of life in US Navy history.

021340

021327

021331

Well within a day she had made enough repairs to make it off to Ulithi Atoll at 14-knots. Within six weeks she had steamed across the Pacific, through the Canal, and into Brooklyn Naval Yard. Her war over, she spent months being restored to near-new condition. Unneeded after the war, she was decommissioned 17 February 1947, having spent just over three years in service. Her condition kept her in mothballs for almost two decades but unlike her sisters, she was never converted to the post war Essex-type pattern with an angled flight deck.

On 1 August 1966 she was sold for scrap.

A monument to the ship is at Bremerton Washington.

uss_cv_13_franklin-09245

Specs:

Displacement:     As built:
27,100 tons standard
36,380 tons full load
Length:     As built:
820 feet (250 m) waterline
872 feet (266 m) overall
Beam:     As built:
93 feet (28 m) waterline
147 feet 6 inches (45 m) overall
Draft:     As built:
28 feet 5 inches (8.66 m) light
34 feet 2 inches (10.41 m) full load

Propulsion:     As designed:
8 × boilers 565 psi (3,900 kPa) 850 °F (450 °C)
4 × Westinghouse geared steam turbines
4 × shafts
150,000 shp (110 MW)
Speed:     33 knots (61 km/h)
Range:     20,000 nautical miles (37,000 km) at 15 knots (28 km/h)

Complement:     As built:
2,600 officers and enlisted

Armament:     As built:
4 × twin 5 inch (127 mm) 38 caliber guns
4 × single 5 inch (127 mm) 38 caliber guns
8 × quadruple 40 mm 56 caliber guns
46 × single 20 mm 78 caliber guns

Armor:     As built:
2.5 to 4 inch (60 to 100 mm) belt
1.5 inch (40 mm) hangar and protective decks
4 inch (100 mm) bulkheads
1.5 inch (40 mm) STS top and sides of pilot house
2.5 inch (60 mm) top of steering gear

Aircraft carried:     As built:
90–100 aircraft
1 × deck-edge elevator
2 × centerline elevators

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO)

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information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of

which are unique in their sweep and subject.

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Warship Wednesday October 9, The Broken America

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday October 9, The Broken America

092202325

Here we see the luxury liner SS America. At the time she was one of the fastest and most elegant ships at sea. Her life would take a tragic and sad end.

Built in the end of the preWWII luxury liner era that saw such ships as the Hamburg, Normandie, and Queen Mary take to the seas, the SS America was not the biggest ship in the sea, but at 35,000-tons, was still the size of a battleship. With a capacity of 1200 passengers, she was intended to take up the North Atlantic trade from New York to England/France at speeds of over 22-knots. Laid down in August 22, 1938 by the Maritime Administration, she was paid for in part by the government but ran by the United States Lines company from New York.

When she was completed and sailed on her maiden voyage on August 22, 1940, World War Two had been going on for a year in Europe. To keep her safe from German U-boats or surface raiders, (the US was neutral at the time), she sailed with every light on, giant American flags painted on her sides (where a U-boat captain would target through his attack periscope) and behaved as noisy as possible. Even with this said, USN inspectors poured over her plans and made notes, even helping to degauss the ship in early 1941 against magnetic mines. The FBI also quietly removed two German spies from her crew.

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Then, just six months before Pearl Harbor, the Maritime Administration called in their marker and pressed the ship into service with the navy. Renamed the troop ship USS West Point, she was given pennant number AP-23. Armed with  four single 5″/38 cal dual purpose gun mounts , four single 3″/50 cal dual purpose gun mounts, four twin 40mm AA gun mounts, and eight .50 cal machine guns, she was made capable of carrying as many as 7600 Army troops as well as some 400-tons of their cargo. Although on some missions she carried as many as 8500.

092202316

Capable of moving an entire brigade at once, with a few extra battalions attached, she was one of the most capable ships in the Naval Transportation Service. During the war she moved over 450,000 US, Canadian, Australian, British and other allied troops to North Africa, Italy, the Pacific and back and forth across the Atlantic. In a single year, between June 27, 1944, and June 24, 1945, the West Pont crossed the Atlantic 27 times and carried more than 140,000 passengers. Used on occasion as a hospital transport, she carried another 16,000 wounded soldiers back home to urgent medical care.  Another class of passenger, 14,000 Axis prisoners of war, were also carried off into life in POW camps. Thus she served as a prison ship, transport, and hospital craft.

On March 12, 1946, the MARAD, having gotten their moneys worth from the ship, disarmed her and gave her back to the United States line. In all, West Point had accomplished 145 missions, made 15 Pacific crossings and 41 on the Atlantic, steamed 456,144 nautical miles and carried 505,020 passengers of all kinds while in US service.

The ship resumed a weird and varied life over the next 48 years.

The Name Game!

Ok guys and girls, lets play the name game with this ship. Follow along at home.

She was built as the SS America for the United States Lines in 1940.
In 1941, the MARAD acquired her and sailed her for five years as the USS West Point.
Then the United States Lines picked her back up and used her old name until 1964 when…
The Chandris Grooup bought her and renamed the aging ship the SS Australis, and changed her to Greek registry.

092202337
Then Venture Cruises started up and for a year (1978) ran her as the SS America for the third time before…
Chandris required her and renamed her SS Italis
Intercommerce bought her and called her the SS Noga to be converted to a floating prison ship in Lebanon before…
Silver Moon picked her up and referred to her as the Alferdoss in 1984…
Then finally the Chaophraya Transport Co acquired the fifty year old ship and caller her the SS America Star in 1994.

092202335

So if you were keeping track, that’s at least 9 different name changes including going back and forth to the SS America three times. Eh, it happens.

Well, after four decades of abuse and varying levels of maintenance from one cruise liner company to the next, the old SS America was, by the 1980s, basically derelict. In 1993 her last owner decided to tow her from Greece, where she had sat for decades to Thailand to be converted to a floating hotel at Phuket Beach. In the course of a 100-day tow by the  Ukrainian tugboat Neftegaz-67, she broke her lines and ran aground off the west coast of Fuerteventura in the Canary Islands.

092202327

There she has stayed for the past 19 years, slowly being washed out to sea.

In another decade, all that will be left is the memory.

Specifications (as USS West Point) :
Displacement 26,455 t.(lt) 35,400 t.(fl)
Length 723′
Beam 93′ 3″
Draft 32′ 9″
Speed 24 kts.
Complement
Officers 57
Enlisted 912
Troop Accommodations
Officers 587
Enlisted 7,091
Largest Boom Capacity 20 t.
Cargo Capacity 400 DWT
non-refrigerated 110,243 Cu ft
Armament
four single 5″/38 cal dual purpose gun mounts
four single 3″/50 cal dual purpose gun mounts
four twin 40mm AA gun mounts
eight .50 cal machine guns
(later augmented by as many as 10 20mm Oeirkilons)
Fuel Capacities
NSFO 32,100 Bbls
Diesel 525 Bbls
Propulsion
two Newport News Shipbuilding turbines
six Babcock and Wilcox “A”-type boilers, 430psi 725°
double De Laval Main Reduction Gears
four turbo-drive 600Kw 100/240 D.C. Ship’s Service Generators
twin propellers, 34,000shp

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO)

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval lore http://www.warship.org/naval.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.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Warship Wednesday October 3 The Phoenix of Pearl Harbor

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take out every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1859-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week.

– Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday October 3 The Phoenix of Pearl Harbor

uss west virgina

Here we see the Colorado-class battleship USS West Virgina (BB-48) as she appeared at the end of her WWII refit. You wouldn’t know it at the time but she was over 20 years old and had already seen severe combat, even being sunk in the first hour of the war.

Commissioned on 1 December 1923, with Navy Cross-winner Captain (later Admiral) Thomas J. Senn in command, West Virgina was the last US battleship built for nearly two decades. The end of World War One and the resulting Washington and London Naval Treaties stopped further battleship construction. In fact, one of her sister ships, the USS Washington BB-47, was canceled while some 75% complete and sunk as a naval target.

Her appearance in the 1920s and 1930s was far more 'old-school'

Her appearance in the 1920s and 1930s was far more ‘old-school’

West Virgina was arguably the most powerful class of battleship afloat in the world at the time. Displacing nearly 35,000-tons at a full load, their clipper bow set them apart from earlier US battlewagons and made them far drier, especially in rough weather. Turbo-electric transmission pushed four screws and could make 21-knots. Keeping enough oil in her bunkers for a 8000-mile round trip at half that, she was capable of crossing the Atlantic without an oiler to keep close to her.  Upto 13.5-inches of armor (18 on turret faces) shielded her while 8 powerful 16-inch guns gave her tremendous ‘throw’.

The closest rival in any fleet around the world to her in 1923 was the British HMS Hood. Hood was bigger and faster (47,000-tons, 31-knots) but had thin armor and 8-15-inch guns. The Japanese Nagato-class were also slightly larger (38,000-tons), slightly faster (25-knots), and 8x 16-inch guns, but like the Hood had less armor.

As a hold back of pre-WWI thinking, she was the last US battleship commissioned with torpedo tubes and a four-turret main battery.

The West Virgina is seen forward, settled and burning after 7 torpedo hits. Half-sister USS Tennessee is just behind her

The West Virgina is seen forward, settled and burning after 7 torpedo hits. Half-sister USS Tennessee is just behind her

A happy ship, she spent the first 18 years of her life in the peacetime navy, participating in naval gunnery exercises, showing the flag, and taking part in war games. On December 7, 1941, just a week after her birthday, she was sitting peacefully at the quay on Battleship Row. Japanese torpedo bombers sent *seven* fish into her sides while at least two Type 99 bombs hit her decks (one of which failed to explode).  Catastrophic damage, flooding, and oil fires resulted and the battleship sank in 40-feet of water, settling on her hull with her decks awash. No ship can withstand 7 torpedo hits. Incredibly, only a hundred of her crew (about 10%) were lost in the battle.

wva07
h64305
After spending six months on the bottom of Pearl, she was one of the first ships salvaged. Patched up and pumped out, she refloated and spent the next year at Pearl under repair. Following this, she was able to steam to Puget Naval Yard for modernization. There she spent 15-months being converted from 1923 to 1943. Her old 5-inch/51s and 3-inch guns were removed as were her dated observation towers. She was given a new camouflage scheme, a wider hull (with more torpedo protection), a new radar package, and a huge new AAA suite that included 16 new rapid fire 5-inch guns and nearly 100 40mm Bofors and Oerlikon 20mm cannons. Likewise, the entire interior of the ship was upgraded from keel to bridge.

Compare this picture of the USS Alabama, a brand new SoDak class battleship in 1943 compared to the refurbished Wee Vee at the top of this post...

Compare this picture of the USS Alabama, a brand new SoDak class battleship in 1943 compared to the refurbished Wee Vee at the top of this post…

In the end she looked more like a new 1943-era South Dakota class battleship than a 1920s Colorado.

She took her new act on the road and steamed West for some payback. As the flagship of Battleship Division Four (BatDiv4), she led five other WWI-era battleships into the epic Battle of Leyte Gulf. These ships included the USS Maryland (BB-46), USS Mississippi (BB-41), USS Tennessee (BB-43), USS California (BB-44), and USS Pennsylvania (BB-38)— three of which had been at Pearl Harbor with the Wee Vee.

Wee Vee in 1944, post-refit

Wee Vee in 1944, post-refit

In combat with the Japanese battlewagons Fuso and Yamashiro, the Wee Vee sent more than 16 salvos into the Japanese line in a night action, being credited with numerous hits on Yamashiro, leading to that ship’s sinking.

USS West Virgina off Okinawa April 1, 1945. That’s one heck of an April Fools day payback to the Japanese, who had already marked the WV off their “to sink” list once before

She finished the war with bombarding Iwo and Okinawa, coming to within 600-yards of the beach (which is close for a ship that needed 31-feet of water under her keel to float). She caught a kamikaze for her trouble.

Decommissioned on 9 January 1947, the Navy kept the newly rebuilt old battlewagon on red lead row for 12 years before striking her in 1959.  With several newer ships around for donation to museums such as the Massachusetts and Alabama, no one seemed to want the Wee Vee and she was sold for her value in scrap metal per pound after 36-years of service.

Her bowflag is preserved in Clarksburg, WV, and her mooring quay is retired on Battleship Row, in mute testimony to that quiet Sunday morning in 1941.

vfiles21592

Still waiting for her to come home.....

Still waiting for her to come home…..

Specs:

US_BB-48_West_Virgina_Drawing_1923

uss-bb-48-west-virginia-1945

 

Displacement:     33,590 tons
Length:     624 ft (190 m)
Beam:

97.3 ft (29.7 m) (original)
114 ft (35 m) (rebuilt)

Draft:     30.5 ft (9.3 m)
Speed:     21 kn (24 mph; 39 km/h)
Complement:     1,407 officers and men
Sensors and
processing systems:     CXAM-1 RADAR from 1940[3]
Armament:

8 × 16 in (410 mm)/45 cal guns
12 × 5 in (130 mm)/51 cal guns
4 × 3 in (76 mm)s
2 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes

After Reconstruction:

8 × 16 in (410 mm)/45 cal guns
16 × 5 in (130 mm)/38 cal guns
40 × Bofors 40 mm guns
50 × Oerlikon 20 mm cannons

Armor:

Belt: 8–13.5 in (203–343 mm)
Barbettes: 13 in (330 mm)
Turret face: 18 in (457 mm)
Turret sides: 9–10 in (229–254 mm)
Turret top: 5 in (127 mm)
Turret rear 9 in (229 mm)
Conning tower: 11.5 in (292 mm)
Decks: 3.5 in (89 mm)

If you liked this column, please consider joining the International Naval Research Organization (INRO)

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval lore http://www.warship.org/naval.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.

Nearing their 50th Anniversary, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

I’m a member, so should you be!

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