Tag Archive | kamikaze

Warship Wednesday, Aug.21, 2019: Of Long Lances and Lobsters

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 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, Aug.21, 2019: Of Long Lances and Lobsters

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-K-3971

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-K-3971

In this beautiful original color photograph, we see the modified Brooklyn-class light cruiser USS St. Louis, often also seen written as “Saint Louis”, (CL-49) at Tulagi, Solomon Islands, circa 1943. At the time this image was taken, the cruiser had already seen much of the Pacific War and would see much more.

Significantly different from the seven other ships of the Brooklyn-class, St. Louis and her follow-on sister USS Helena (CL-50) was ordered under the 1934 Naval Plan. While they used the same hull, engineering plant, and general layout as the rest of their class– to include 15 6″/47 caliber Mark 16 guns in five triple turrets– there were enough differences for the two sisters to often be considered a distinct class of their own. This included a better secondary battery (eight 5″/38 DP guns in four double enclosed mounts vs. eight low-angle 5″/25 open singles), a different boat stowage scheme and cranes for the same, a smaller secondary tripod mast in a different location, higher boiler pressure, and a different fire control arrangement.

Brooklyn plan, top, St. Louis plan, bottom, both from the 1945 ed of Jane’s

The whole class could also carry as many as six floatplanes in their below-deck hangar as well as spare parts and engines, although typically would only deploy with four.

SOC-3 Seagull aircraft stripped for maintenance in the hangar of St. Louis’s near sister, the Brooklyn-class light cruiser USS Savannah (CL-42), 1938. Note the close up of the Pratt and Whitney R-1340 9-cylinder radial engine and caster tracks to roll the planes out of the hangar on its truck and on deck for launch NH 85630

USS St. Louis (CL 49) with SOC-3 Seagull biplanes on her catapults while at the Tulagi harbor. Seen from USS O’Bannon (DD 450) after the Battle of Kula Gulf, July 5-6, 1943. 80-G-55501

Capable of breaking more than 32.5 knots, they also had very long legs, able to make 14,500 nm at 15 knots without refueling.

USS Saint Louis (CL-49) off Rockland, Maine, while on trials, 28 April 1939. Note that her 5/38 secondary gun battery has not yet been installed. NH 48998

Laid down on 10 December 1936 by the Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., our cruiser was the fifth U.S. warship vessel to carry the name of the Missouri city and gateway to the West.

Commissioned on 19 May 1939, she was still on her shakedown cruise when Hitler marched into Poland in September, sparking WWII, a move that introduced St. Louis to Neutrality Patrol operations over the next 11 months that took her from the balmy West Indies and British Guiana to the freezing North Atlantic.

However, with tensions ramping up with Imperial Japan over China, Indochina, and the Dutch East Indies, St. Louis received orders to head for the Pacific, arriving at Pearl Harbor on 12 December 1940. From there, she ranged from the West Coast to Manila and back on exercises and patrols in 1941, with stops at Wake, Midway, and Guam.

St. Louis off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, on 4 June 1941. She is wearing Measure 5 (false bow wave) camouflage. NH 80564

Lucky Lou

On the morning of 7 December 1941, St. Louis was at anchor in Pearl Harbor, moored at Berth B-17 in the Southeast Loch since 28 November with two of her eight boilers offline for maintenance. The ship’s aviation detachment was shore-based at Ford Island and many of her crew and Marine det were ashore on libo.

According to the ship’s log, now in the National Archives:

“At 0756 two of the ship’s officers observed a large number of dark-colored planes heading towards Ford Island from the general direction of AIEA. They dropped bombs and made strafing attacks. At the same time, a dark olive drab colored plane bearing the aviation insignia of Japan passed close astern and dropped a torpedo…The ship went to general quarters at once and manned its entire battery.”

By 0800, her skipper was on the bridge and both her .50 caliber and 1.1″ batteries were “already manned and in action delivering a full volume of fire at the attackers,” as steam was ordered up from her six operational boilers.

St. Louis at far right, about 0930 7 December 1941, leaving Pearl. USS California off her starboard side hit and sinking.

At 0931, St. Louis got underway, with boiler power for 29 knots, and stood out to sea via South Channel. Just 30 minutes later, she reportedly suffered a near miss from two torpedoes fired from a Japanese midget submarine just inside the channel entrance buoys.

At 1016, St. Louis was the first U.S. Navy ship to clear the channel from Pearl during the attack and she engaged a number of aircraft from the Japanese second wave between then and 1147 with her twin 5″ mounts before joining with the cruisers Montgomery and Minneapolis, along with several destroyers, to proceed “southward with the intention of locating and attacking the [Japanese] carrier.”

Between 1213 and 1234, her guns engaged the Japanese second wave as they withdrew. In all, she fired 207 5″ shells, 3,950 rounds from her 1.1″ battery and a very decent 12,750 .50-cal BMG rounds, claiming at least three probable Japanese planes seen to flame and crash.

Of course, the little force of cruisers and destroyers did not find the Japanese flattops and retired to Pearl Harbor on 10 December. While Battleship Row was the scene of carnage, St. Louis was only very lightly damaged from machine gun rounds and suffered no casualties in the attack.

USS Arizona (BB-39) burned out and sunk in Pearl Harbor on 10 December 1941, three days after she was destroyed during the 7 December Japanese raid. Ships in the background are USS Saint Louis (CL-49), in the center, and the hulked minelayer Baltimore (CM-1) at left. NH 63918

Joining the shooting war with a bang, St. Louis was used to escort the steamer SS President Coolidge, carrying Philippine President Quezon to San Francisco, as well as riding shotguns on convoys to reinforce Midway and the Aleutians.

St. Louis at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, circa May 1942. NH 50796

She was in the Northern Pacific during the Battle of Midway, missing out on the initial carrier clash, but did her first round of naval gunfire support on 3 August when she plastered the newly Japanese-occupied island of Kiska in the Aleutians. On 16 August, she lost an aircraft with four aviators aboard somewhere between Kodiak and Whitehorse.

After staying in Alaskan waters to cover the Allied liberation of Adak, St. Louis caught a refit at Mare Island where she picked up a much better AAA suite of 40mm and 20mm guns.

From there she proceeded to the West Pac where she joined RADM “Pug” Ainsworth’s TF cruiser-destroyer force, dubbed the “Ainsworth Express,” in fighting the Japanese in the near-nightly efforts to prevent the Empire from reinforcing their troops on Guadalcanal and/or wiping out the Marines trying to keep a toe-hold there. The Tokyo Express and Ainsworth Express collided in the high-traffic waterway of New Georgia Sound through the middle of the Solomon Islands, better known as “The Slot,” in a series of pitched battles in the summer of 1943.

At Kula Gulf, Ainsworth’s force of three light cruisers– St. Louis, her sister Helena, and near-sister USS Honolulu (CL-48) — collided with 10 destroyers of RADM Teruo Akiyama’s 3rd Destroyer Squadron off the coast of Kolombangara Island carrying 2,600 Japanese troops. The action, all in pitch darkness, left Akiyama dead, two Japanese destroyers sunk, and Helena lost, a victim of the deadly Type 93 Long Lance torpedo.

Night Battery of USS St. Louis (CL 49) during the Battle of Kula Gulf. Photographed by CPU-2, July 5-6, 1943. 80-G-55522

Covered with oil of their torpedoed ship, USS Helena (CL-50), survivors respond to a roll call aboard the destroyer USS O’Bannon (DD 450) which picked them up. Three times the destroyer had to leave off its rescue work to do battle with Japanese warships. Catalog #: L45-122.07.01

Less than a week later, the two opposed Expresses crashed into each other again in the same area with RADM Shunji Isaki’s force, consisting of the cruiser Jintsu, along with five destroyers, duking it out in a night action with Honolulu and St. Louis backed up by the Kiwi light cruiser HMNZS Leander. In the wild fight, which was considered a pyrrhic victory for the Japanese that turned into a strategic defeat as they shifted operations away from the vital Slot moving forward, sent Jintu to the bottom– plastered by radar-directed 6-inch guns from the Allied cruisers, killing Isaki.

Battle of Kolombangara, 13 July 1943, firing by USS ST. LOUIS (CL-49) during this battle. #: 80-G-342762

However, in her final act, the Japanese cruiser had gone down illuminating her killers with her searchlights and all three of the Allied cruisers as well as the destroyer USS Gwin (DD-433), was hit by Long Lances before the action was over. While Gwin ultimately could not be saved, Honolulu, St. Louis and Leander managed to limp away to fight another day.

The bow of USS Saint Louis (CL-49), showing torpedo damage received during the Battle of Kolombangara. Photographed while the ship was under repair at Tulagi on 20 July 1943. USS Vestal (AR-4) is alongside. #: 80-G-259410

Damage to the bow of USS St. Louis (CL 49). Photographed by PHOM1/C George E. Gates, Jr., CPU-2, July 20, 1943 80-G-259411

Note the sign that reads, “Danger / All Boats Slow Down.” Photographed by PHOM1/C George E. Gates, Jr., CPU-2, July 20, 1943. 80-G-259412

St. Louis received a temporary bow at an advanced base in the Pacific. With this bow, the cruiser was able to return to a West Coast navy yard for more permanent repairs. Incredibly, Lucky Lou had come out of both Kula Gulf– where her sister had been sunk– and Kolombangara with no serious casualties.

USS Saint Louis (CL-49) has guns removed from her forward 6/47 turrets, during overhaul and battle damage repairs at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, circa September 1943. The upper section of her midships searchlight platform is hanging from a crane in the immediate background. It was removed to reduce the ship’s topside weights. #: 80-G-K-15536

In mid-November, Lou returned to the Solomons and, from the 20th to the 25th, covered Marines fighting for Bougainville. She would continue to work her way along the Pacific, delivering salvos of accurate 6-inch and 5-inch shells in NGF support.

On 13 January 1944, while operating in the area between Buka and St. George Channel to support landing operations in the Green Islands off New Ireland, she was attacked by five Vals. One managed to make it through flak fire to hit St. Louis in her 40mm clipping room near the number 6 mount and exploded in the midship living compartment, killing 23 and wounding another 20.

Her spell had been broken.

Still, she licked her wounds once more and got back to work, supporting operations on Saipan and Guam, while picking up a new camo pattern.

Camouflage Measure 32, Design 2C drawing prepared by the Bureau of Ships for a camouflage scheme intended for USS St. Louis (CL-49). She was painted in this pattern during much of 1944. This plan, showing the ship’s port side, is dated 31 March 1944 and was approved by Captain Torvald A. Solberg, USN. #: 80-G-109719

Saipan Invasion, June 1944. Units of cruiser division six bombard Saipan on 14-15 June 1944. The nearest ship is USS NEW ORLEANS (CA-32). Beyond her is USS ST. LOUIS (CL-49). #: 80-G-K-1774

USS Saint Louis (CL-49) bombarding Japanese positions on Guam, 21 July 1944. She is painted in camouflage Measure 32, Design 2c. #: 80-G-K-16463

USS St Louis, 1944, off Orote Point, Guam

After her 1944 campaigns, she was beaten and broken, in need of an urgent refit. In Late July she headed for the West Coast to get some work done.

USS Saint Louis (CL-49) off San Pedro, California, on 5 October 1944. Her camouflage is Measure 32, Design 2c. #: 19-N-72219

Then, refreshed and ready to go again, it was now time to deliver on MacArthur’s “I Shall Return” promise and Lou made a course for the Philippines, where she felt the Divine Wind.

One of the most effective Japanese kamikaze attacks of the war occurred on 27 November in the Leyte Gulf against Task Group 77.2., when a mixed force of 13 Jills, Kates and Vals came in low at 1125 while the ships were fueling. The task group was composed of four battleships, five cruisers, and seven destroyers, of which the larger ships were singled out for attack. Corresponding hits were scored on Colorado (BB-45), Maryland (BB-46), Montpelier (CL-57), and Aulick (DD-569) as well as St. Louis.

Two suicide planes hit St. Louis, one aft and one amidships, burning the after part of the cruiser, destroying catapults and seaplanes, and damaging her after turrets. She took a hard list to port for nearly an hour and looked in bad shape.

USS Saint Louis (CL-49) crewmen fight fires in the cruiser’s hangar after she was hit by a Kamikaze off Leyte on 27 November 1944. Note wrecked SOC floatplane in the left background, and hangar hatch cover threw atop the port catapult, at right. #: 80-G-361985

Her crews managed to contain the fires, right the ship, and head for San Pedro Bay for repairs. In the twin kamikaze strike, 16 men were killed or missing and another 43 injured.

After another stint in a California shipyard to fix her back up, St. Louis returned to the battle line in March 1945, bombarding Okinawa, and guarded minesweepers and UDT teams clearing channels to the assault beaches.

By August, the end of the war found her assigned to TF 73, the Yangtze River Patrol Force, and she made Shanghai in October, supporting KMT Chinese forces.

After three Magic Carpet runs across the vast expanse of the Pacific to bring returning Vets back home Lou sailed for the East Coast and arrived at Philadelphia for inactivation in February 1946.

In all, from Pearl Harbor to the Japanese Home Islands, St. Louis earned 11 battle stars during her war.

Her payment? She was stricken from the U.S. Naval List on 22 January 1951.

Cruisers and other warships laid up in the Philadelphia Yard Reserve Fleet Basin, circa 1947. Outboard ship in the left group is USS ST. LOUIS (CL-49). Ships in background include (in no order): USS SAN FRANCISCO (CA-38), USS TUSCALOOSA (CA-37), USS MINNEAPOLIS (CA-36), USS NEW ORLEANS (CA-32), USS LOUISVILLE (CA-28), and USS PORTLAND (CA-33).
“All Hands” magazine Catalog #: NH 92254

However, Lucky Lou would get a reprieve from the rust squadron and go on to live a very long second career

Cruzador Tamandaré

In the 1900s, a Latin American naval race led South America’s major powers to acquire numerous battleships to include a modicum of dreadnoughts, along with a veneer of escorting armored/protected cruisers. While these vessels had grown quite long in the tooth and put on the list for the breakers by the end of the 1940s, the big regional players still needed ships for prestige and to be taken seriously. The logical replacement for those 30-40-year-old coal burners was relatively new Allied WWII-surplus cruisers which could be bought for a song.

This led to the curious phenomenon that, outside of the U.S., Europe and India/Pakistan, all the world’s cruisers from the 1950s to 1970s were operated by Latin American fleets:

Argentina– Two ex-Brooklyn class light cruisers (Phoenix, Boise, recommissioned as Gen. Belgrano and Nueve de Julio in 1951-52) as well as the old Vickers-made training cruiser La Argentina (8,610-tons, 9×6″ guns)

Chile– Two ex-Brooklyns (Brooklyn, Nashville, recommissioned as Prat and O’Higgins in 1951-52) as well as the Swedish-built Latorre (ex-Gota Lejon) bought in 1971.

Peru– Two ex-British Colony-class light cruisers (ex-HMS Ceylon, Newfoundland recommissioned as Almirante Grau and Col. Bolognesi, in 1959-60) replacing a pair of Vickers built scout cruisers commissioned in 1908. The Dutch De Zeven Provinciën-class cruiser HNLMS De Ruyter later became Peru’s only cruiser, recycling the Grau name, serving until 2017.

As for Brazil, they got the same sweetheart cruiser deal from Uncle Sam hat Argentina and Chile got on their scratch and dent Brooklyns— pay just 10 percent of the vessels’ original cost plus the expense of reconditioning them after their short stint in mothballs.

With that, Rio plunked down cash for the Brooklyn-class USS Philadelphia (CL-41) as well as our St. Louis in 1951 with the latter being transferred on 29 January and the former on 21 August.

While Philly picked up the moniker of NAeL Barroso (C11), St. Louis became Almirante Tamandaré (C12) after the famed 19th Century Brazilian naval hero Joaquim Marques Lisboa, Marquês de Tamandaré, the third vessel to bear this name in the Marinha do Brasil.

This guy

In the end, Brazil got a 12-year-old ship that had been hit by Long Lance torpedos, Japanese bombs, and kamikazes, but still looked great.

ALMIRANTE TAMANDARE (Brazilian Cruiser, ex USS ST. Louis) in U.S. waters photographed circa early 1951. Courtesy of Robert Varrill, 1977 Catalog #: NH 85261

TAMANDARE (Brazilian cruiser, ex-USS ST. LOUIS, CL-49) underway, 20 to 30 miles off Fort Story, Virginia, 5 March 1952, shortly after she was commissioned by the Brazilian Navy. #: 80-G-440057

Same day 80-G-440059

Other than adding LORAN, halting the operation of seaplanes and landing their catapults (the Brazilians later used Sikorsky H-34 and Westland Wasp helicopters on their cruisers), and getting rid of their Oerlikons, the vessels remained essentially the same as during their WWII service, to include carrying their 40mm Bofors mounts, SPS-12 (surface search), SPS-6C (air search) and SPS-10 (tactical) radar sets.

Taking further advantage of good deals on certified pre-owned naval warships, Brazil also bought 7 surplus Fletcher-class destroyers, a Sumner-class destroyer, 7 Bostwick-class destroyer escorts, and four GUPPY’d fleet boat style diesel submarines from the U.S. Navy. This gave the country two effective surface action groups well into the early 1970s centered around the cruisers with the tin cans and subs in support– even if they did look a repeat of the Pacific War.

Arriving in Rio de Janeiro 20 April 1952 after four months of shakedowns with her new Brazilian crew, Tamandare became the fleet flagship until 1960 when the aircraft carrier NAeL Minas Gerais (A11) joined the fleet. This led to a simple life of friendship missions (she carried President Dr. Café Filho and entourage on an official visit to Portugal in 1955 and a revisit in 1960), midshipman cruises, and regular training exercises such as DRAGÃO, UNITAS, and ASPIRANTEX.

The closest she came to combat in her decades under the Brazilian flag was the 1964 Brazilian coup d’état (Golpe de 64), which started with a sailor’s revolt, and the so-called Lobster War with France.

The what?

In the early 1960s, French lobstermen sailing from African waters came increasingly close to Brazil, within about 100 miles of Pernambuco, which became a real issue when Rio kicked their economic exclusion zone out to 200 miles, as is now common. The friction led to the seizure of at least one French fishing boat by the Brazilians and a muscular response from Paris that saw the gunboat Paul Goffeny (A754) sail over from Dakar.

The heated rhetoric saw a French naval task force sail from Toulon in February 1963– officially for a West African cruise– headed by the brand-new aircraft carrier Clemenceau (who was carrying helicopters only as she would not get her first F-8 Crusaders until the next year), the AAA cruiser De Grasse (12,350-tons, 8 x 5-inch guns), the big destroyers Cassard, Jauréguiberry and Tartu; and the corvettes Le Picard, Le Gascon, L’Agenais, Le Béarnais, and Le Vendéen, along with support vessels.

Rio reciprocated by putting Brazilian Air Force RB-17 Flying Fortresses into the air along with shore-based S-2 Trackers on long-range patrol over the disputed fishing grounds– and mobilizing both the cruisers Barroso and Tamandaré along with six Fletcher-class destroyers.

Tamandaré, at sea flanked by a heavy escort of former Fletcher-class tin cans, from top: Pernambuco (D30) ex-USS Hailey, Paraná (D29) ex-USS Cushing, Pará (D27) ex-USS Guest, and Paraíba (D28) ex-USS Bennett. Of note, the Brazilians would keep most of these greyhounds well into the 1980s.

In terms of guns, the Brazilan fleet had a distinct advantage if it came to a naval clash with the French, who would have been handicapped by the fact that the Latin American country could also bird dog the area of operations with land-based aircraft. Still, the French had more bluewater experience, coupled with better sensors, and may have made it count.

In the end, only the French destroyer Tartu entered the disputed area and remained there for 17 days until 10 March while the Brazilians sent air patrols to keep tabs on the interloping French ship. The two fleets never got within several hundred miles of each other, as the French kept close to Africa, in Dakar and Abidjan, while the Brazilians likewise remained in their coastal waters.

Brazilian cruiser ALMIRANTE TAMANDARE C12 former USS ST.LOUIS (CL-49) note H34 helicopters in the air

No shots were fired in the surreal crustacean contest known in Brazil as the “Guerra da Lagosta” and both sides de-escalated, later settling the dispute in 1966 amicably.

In all, Tamandaré steamed over 200,000 nautical miles with the Brazilian Navy and served her adopted country proudly.

NAeL Tamandaré (C-12), da Marinha do Brasil, fevereiro de 1971. Arquivo Nacional. Note her helicopter deck

While Barroso/Philadelphia was scrapped in 1974, Tamandaré endured for another two years and was only decommissioned on 28 June 1976.

Sold for $1.1 million in scrap value to Superwinton Enterprises of Hong Kong, a Philippine-flagged tugboat, Royal, arrived in Brazil to haul the old cruiser to the breakers in Asia in August 1980. However, St. Louis wasn’t feeling another trip to the Pacific via South Africa and, unmanned, on the night of 24 August near -38.8077778°, -001.3997222°, she started to submerge. Unable for Royal to save her, the towline was released, allowing her to settle on the seabed where she remains in deep water.

Today, a WWII St. Louis Veterans’ Association exists, though its ranks are thinning. The U.S. Navy recycled her name for an amphibious cargo ship (LKA-116) and a planned Freedom-class littoral combat ship (LCS-19) set to commission in 2020.

As for Brazil, that country’s Navy has recently reissued the name Tamandaré to the lead ship of a new class of Meko A100 type corvettes scheduled for delivery between 2024 and 2028.

Specs:

Scheme from 1973 Janes, as Brazilian NAeL Tamandaré (C-12), redrawn in 1971

Displacement:
Standard: 10,000 long tons (10,000 t)
Full load: 13,327 long tons (13,541 t)
Length: 608 ft 8 in
Beam: 61 ft 5 in
Draft:
19 ft 10 in (6.05 m) (mean)
24 ft (7.3 m) (max)
Propulsion:
8 × Babcock & Wilcox Express steam boilers
4 × Parsons geared turbines, 4 × screws, 100,000 shp (75,000 kW)
Speed: 32.5 knots
Range: 14,500nm at 15 knots on 2,100 tons fuel oil
Complement:
(As designed) 888 officers and enlisted men
(1944) 1070 men, 58 officers, plus Marine and Aviation detachments
(1973, Brazil) 975
Armor:
Belt: 3 1⁄4–5 in (83–127 mm)
Deck: 2 in (51 mm)
Barbettes: 6 in (150 mm)
Turrets: 1 1⁄4–6 in (32–152 mm)
Conning Tower: 2 1⁄4–5 in (57–127 mm) (although Jane’s states 8)
Armament:
(As designed)
15 x 6″/47 cal cannons in five triple Mk-16 mounts three at the bow and two at the stern
8 x 5″/38cal guns in four double Mk-38 mounts
16 x 1.1″ AAA guns in four quad mounts
8 x .50-caliber water-cooled machine guns
1 depth charge thrower
(1945)
15 x 6″/47 cal cannons in five triple Mk-16 mounts three at the bow and two at the stern
8 x 5″/38cal guns in four double Mk-38 mounts,
28 x 40 mm Bofors L60 guns in four Mk 2 quadruple mounts and six Mk 1 doubles
8 x 20 mm Oerlikon submachine guns on single Mk 4 mounts.
Aircraft carried:
(1940s) 4-6 × SOC Seagull floatplanes, 2 catapults
(1958) 2-3 helicopters, first H-34s later Westland Wasps

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Warship Wednesday, April 24, 2019: The Tiger with 17 Battle Stars to Prove It

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, April 24, 2019: The Tiger with 17 Battle Stars to Prove It

Official U.S. Navy Photographs, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command, NH 97488-KN and NH 92237

Official U.S. Navy Photographs, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command, NH 97488-KN and NH 92237

Here we see the Essex-class fleet carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) off Hampton Roads, Virginia, 26 June 1944 and two rebuilds later, as CVS-14 with her rails manned, circa 1970, following conversion to an anti-submarine warfare support aircraft carrier. What a difference 26 years makes!

To put into perspective the degree of change this was, look at these two shots of aircraft operating from her decks during her career. These blend Grumman F6F-5N Hellcat night fighters preparing to take off for strikes against targets in Manila Bay during the 5-6 November 1944 attacks (80-G-305244) and an A-4 Skyhawk landing on board, after a simulated strike on enemy forces during an operational readiness inspection, 18 January 1963 with an A-3B Sky Warrior and F-3 Demon are parked on the carrier’s after flight deck.

Ticonderoga was one of 24 Essex-class fleet carriers started during World War II that was completed. Another eight sister-ships never were. We have covered the Essex class before, with the Mighty Oriskany and the “Happy Valley” aka USS Valley Forge, but hey, these were some great ships and the Ticonderoga has one hell of a story.

Like many of the class, Ticonderoga owes her name to a Revolutionary War action, namely, the seizing of Fort Ticonderoga from the British on 10 May 1775, by Ethan Allen and his “Green Mountain Boys” who held it for two years.

Three previous ships before our carrier shared the moniker:

Catalog #: NH 42415 NH 45373 NH 2258

During the War of 1812, Lt. Stephen Cassin’s 17-gun schooner Ticonderoga was in the battle line at the Naval Battle of Plattsburgh where the ship “played an important role in the victory. Her guns engaged nearly every British vessel on the line and raked the British flagship at a critical juncture in the battle,” according to NHHC. Cassin was awarded a gold medal for bravery by Congress and went on to become a Commodore with two later destroyers (DD-43 & DD-372) named after him.

Commissioned during the Civil War, the 2,500-ton Lackawanna-class screw sloop-of-war USS Ticonderoga went on to wave the flag in virtually all the world’s oceans and seas, only being sold for scrap in 1887.

In April 1917, the U.S. government seized the interned German flag merchant steamer Kamilla Rickmers and renamed her Ticonderoga (ID # 1958) in January 1918. Sadly, she was sunk after an epic two-hour gun battle, with the loss of 213 lives, by the German submarine U-152 on 30 September 1918, one of the most significant blows to the U.S. Navy in the Great War. Just 22 survivors spent four days in one lifeboat until a passing ship rescued them. Her skipper, LCDR James J. Madison, USNRF, received the Medal of Honor and the USS Madison (DD-425) was later named after him.

Laid down originally as Hancock on 1 February 1943 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. our subject was renamed Ticonderoga before she was even launched and commissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 8 May 1944, CPT. Dixie Kiefer (USNA 1918) in command.

Kiefer was a carrier man through-and-through having made the first ever night take-off from a warship in 1924 and gone on to become the carrier Yorktown (CV-5)‘s XO, picking up the DSO at the Coral Sea and a Navy Cross at Midway. When Yorktown was during that battle, Kiefer shattered his right leg while escaping the doomed ship. He was a fighter and would go on to command a fighting ship.

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) being pushed by tugboats at Naval Air Station Hampton Roads, Virginia (USA) on 30 May 1944, shortly after delivery to the Navy by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. She is wearing camouflage Measure 33, Design 10A. Note the cut-out space on the port side of the flight deck forward of the elevator where a third Mk 37 gun director should have been placed. It was omitted from the design as its antenna protruded above the level of the flight deck. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.014

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) being pushed by tugboats at Naval Air Station Hampton Roads, Virginia (USA) on 30 May 1944, shortly after delivery to the Navy by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. She is wearing camouflage Measure 33, Design 10A. Note the cut-out space on the port side of the flight deck forward of the elevator where a third Mk 37 gun director should have been placed. It was omitted from the design as its antenna protruded above the level of the flight deck. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.014

USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 26 June 1944. NH 92239

USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 26 June 1944. NH 92239

Same view day, different view, NH 92238

She soon sailed for the Pacific, an ocean she would call home for 30 years and two lengthy, bitter wars during which her crew invariably labeled the ship Tyco or Tico and themselves Tigers. As such, she arrived at Ulithi Atoll in the Western Carolines on the 29 October and embarked RADM A. W. Radford, Commander, Carrier Division 6, joining TF-38, and was part of the famed “Murderers Row ” photo.

"Murderers' Row" Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown, and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. 80-G-294131

“Murderers’ Row” Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown, and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. 80-G-294131

USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) at Ulithi Fleet Anchorage, 8 December 1944, while part of "Murderer's Row" 80-G-K-2589

USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) at Ulithi Fleet Anchorage, 8 December 1944, while part of “Murderer’s Row” 80-G-K-2589

She was soon pounding the Philippines, providing extended air cover for the ground forces capturing Leyte. DANFS notes that “Her planes bombed and strafed the airfields at Zablan, Mandaluyong, and Pasig. They also joined those of other carriers in sending the heavy cruiser Nachi to a watery resting place. In addition, Ticonderoga pilots claimed six Japanese aircraft shot down and one destroyed on the ground, as well as 23 others, damaged.”

US aerial attack on Manila Bay, Philippines, by planes from USS Ticonderoga (CV 14), 13 November 1944 80-G-272702

US aerial attack on Manila Bay, Philippines, by planes from USS Ticonderoga (CV 14), 13 November 1944 80-G-272702

80-G-272703

80-G-272703

Of course, being so close enough to strike Japanese targets meant that Japanese targets could also strike back at Tico.

During air action off Luzon, the Philippines, Japanese Zero fighter in a suicide crash dive registers a near miss on USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) November 5, 1944 80-G-289986

During air action off Luzon, the Philippines, Japanese Zero fighter in a suicide crash dive registers a near miss on USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) November 5, 1944 80-G-289986

She would soon come to raid Japanese ships and bases in occupied French Indochina (Vietnam), a region she would later come to know very well. “There, on the 12th [of January], they launched their approximately 850 planes and made a series of anti-shipping sweeps during which they sank a whopping 44 ships, totaling over 130,000 tons.”

Saigon River Front, French Indochina, Caption: Ships and installations afire after aerial attack by carrier-based planes of US Pacific fleet, 12 January 1945. Taken by plane from USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) #: 80-G-301944

Saigon River Front, French Indochina, Caption: Ships and installations afire after aerial attack by carrier-based planes of US Pacific fleet, 12 January 1945. Taken by plane from USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) #: 80-G-301944

Less than two weeks later, while attacking Japanese positions on Formosa, our carrier ran out of luck.

On 21 January 1945, Ticonderoga was hit by not one but two back-to-back Japanese kamikazes, suffering 144 killed and at least another 200 injured. The first plane crashed through the ship’s flight deck abreast of the No. 2 5-inch mount, and its bomb exploded just above her hangar deck. Kiefer responded by ordering flooding to put a 10-degree list on the ship, causing the flaming wreckage to slip overboard.

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) afire after a bomb hit by Japanese suicide plane at Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands. As seen from USS Vincennes (CL 14), 21 January 1945. 80-G-343576

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) afire after a bomb hit by Japanese suicide plane at Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands. As seen from USS Vincennes (CL 14), 21 January 1945. 80-G-343576

The second kamikaze smashed into carrier’s starboard side near the island, setting more planes on fire as the carrier was still recovering from the first. The resulting explosion injured Kiefer, with 65 wounds from bomb shrapnel and a broken arm, but the Captain who stuck it through until Yorktown went down remained on the bridge for another 11 hours. He would later receive the Distinguished Service Cross from Navy Secretary Forrestal who called him the “Indestructible Man.”

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Shown Damage to island structure from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945 80-G-264996

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Shown Damage to island structure from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945 80-G-264996

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Shown: Damage to the flight deck from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945. Photographed by PHOM Peters and PHOM Quillinan, January 22, 1945. 80-G-264995

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Shown: Damage to the flight deck from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945. Photographed by PHOM Peters and PHOM Quillinan, January 22, 1945. 80-G-264995

Bomb hole in flight deck from dropped by a Kamikaze plane that hit the ship's forward elevator, off Formosa, 21 January 1945. Crewmen in the background are cleaning up debris from the hit. 80-G-273223

Bomb hole in flight deck from dropped by a Kamikaze plane that hit the ship’s forward elevator, off Formosa, 21 January 1945. Crewmen in the background are cleaning up debris from the hit. 80-G-273223

Wrecked plane on the hangar deck, after fires where the first Kamikaze hit received off Formosa, 21 January 1945. 80-G-273213

Wrecked plane on the hangar deck, after fires where the first Kamikaze hit received off Formosa, 21 January 1945. 80-G-273213

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Damage to hangar deck from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945 80-G-264994

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Damage to hangar deck from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945 80-G-264994

Bomb penetration in the gallery deck, looking up and aft from the hanger deck. The bomb dropped by the first of two Kamikaze planes which hit the ship off Formosa, 21 January 1945, passed through the flight deck to enter the gallery deck here. 80-G-273226

Bomb penetration in the gallery deck, looking up and aft from the hanger deck. The bomb dropped by the first of two Kamikaze planes which hit the ship off Formosa, 21 January 1945, passed through the flight deck to enter the gallery deck here. 80-G-273226

Still, Tico was soon underway under her own power with all fires out.

Ticonderoga Underway with "all fires out", after being hit twice by Kamikazes of Formosa, 21 January 1945. Note: fire damage to her island. Photographed from USS ESSEX (CV-9) #: 80-G-373726

Ticonderoga Underway with “all fires out”, after being hit twice by Kamikazes of Formosa, 21 January 1945. Note: fire damage to her island. Photographed from USS ESSEX (CV-9) #: 80-G-373726

She headed back to the West Coast under her own steam, arriving at Puget Sound Navy Yard on 15 February. She would remain there for repairs, only heading back to Ulithi in May. There, she rejoined TF-38 and by June Ticonderoga‘s fighters were strafing airfields on Kyushu.

In July, “her planes joined those of other fast carriers in striking ships in the Inland Sea and airfields at Nagoya, Osaka, and Miko. During those raids, TF 38 planes found the sad remnants of the once-mighty Japanese Fleet and bagged battleships Ise, Hyuga, and Haruna as well as an escort carrier, Kaiyo, and two heavy cruisers. On 28 July, her aircraft directed their efforts toward the Kure Naval Base, where they pounded an aircraft carrier, three cruisers, a destroyer, and a submarine.”

Early August saw raids on Tokyo and she entered the Bay there at peace on 6 September. After a series of Magic Carpet missions taking returning GIs home to the states, she was placed out of commission on 9 January 1947 and berthed with the Bremerton Group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) San Francisco Bay, California, following the end of World War II, circa late 1945 or early 1946. A blimp is in the background. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1973 NH 77366

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) San Francisco Bay, California, following the end of World War II, circa late 1945 or early 1946. A blimp is in the background. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1973 NH 77366

The war was the end of Dixie Kiefer. The hard-to-kill carrier man died at age 49 on 11 November 1945 in the crash of a transport plane on Mount Beacon, New York. He is buried at Arlington.

After a period in mothballs, Tico was returned to service during the Korean War and sent for an SCB-27C conversion to better suit the new jet planes that filled the Navy’s hangars, installing catapults and better aircraft handling systems. On 11 September 1954, Ticonderoga recommissioned but was soon further converted to SCB-125 format– one of just 14 such Essex-class carriers given the angled deck/hurricane bow improvements. This earned her a new designation, as an attack carrier (CVA 14).

By late 1957, she was on her first West Pac deployment since 1945. She would make six more by 1964.

80-G-1010802 USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14), full stern view, March 1957.

80-G-1010802 USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14), full stern view, March 1957.

USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) moored at a pier, probably at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On deck are various aircraft of Carrier Air Group 5 (CVG-5) which had been assigned to the Ticonderoga for a deployment to the Western Pacific from 10 May 1961 to 15 January 1962. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.045

USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) moored at a pier, probably at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On deck are various aircraft of Carrier Air Group 5 (CVG-5) which had been assigned to the Ticonderoga for a deployment to the Western Pacific from 10 May 1961 to 15 January 1962. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.045

In the first U.S. naval action off Vietnam, the Tonkin Gulf Incident, Tico was there. On 2 August 1964, she sent rocket-armed F-8E Crusaders to respond to urgent calls from the destroyer Maddox (DD-731), who had reported being attacked by North Vietnamese Navy PT boats, leaving one boat dead in the water and damaging the other two. A few days later her planes reportedly destroyed another 25 boats at dock in a retaliatory strike.

When she would return to Vietnam in 1965, it would be as a full-time warfighter, delivering some 10,000 combat sorties from her position on Dixie and Yankee Stations, losing 16 planes to enemy fire and accident.

Just days after the first major U.S. engagement in Vietnam, at the of Ia Drang Valley, near Christmas 1965, Bob Hope and his cast of supporting acts landed on Tico and entertained her 2,000-man crew, famously hitting golf balls off her deck.

Entertainer Bob Hope tees-off on the flight deck aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) during his visit to the carrier off the coast of Vietnam on 26 December 1965. USN Photo 030728-N-0000X-001

Entertainer Bob Hope tees-off on the flight deck aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) during his visit to the carrier off the coast of Vietnam on 26 December 1965. USN Photo 030728-N-0000X-001

Bob Hope during the 1965 Christmas show aboard the USS Ticonderoga. GARY COOPER STARS AND STRIPES

Bob Hope during the 1965 Christmas show aboard the USS Ticonderoga back when the Navy was hairier. GARY COOPER STARS AND STRIPES

As reported by Stars and Stripes “Some of the men, exhausted from launching strike after strike recently, were almost too tired to watch the show. One rolled over and mumbled to a buddy, ‘wake me when the broads come on.’

The 2-hour long Christmas Special was broadcast at home on NBC for the country to get a soda straw window into Vietnam through the carefully controlled lens.

USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) Refueling from USS Ashtabula (AO-51), while operating off the coast of Vietnam, circa early 1966. Although seas were running very high, the ships completed replenishment and Ticonderoga received 175,000 gallons of black oil. The original print was received by the All Hands magazine Editorial Department on 14 February 1966. NH 97487

USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) Refueling from USS Ashtabula (AO-51), while operating off the coast of Vietnam, circa early 1966. Although seas were running very high, the ships completed replenishment and Ticonderoga received 175,000 gallons of black oil. The original print was received by the All Hands magazine Editorial Department on 14 February 1966. NH 97487

Back to Yankee Station in 1966-67, her airwing would run another 11,650 combat sorties, earning a Navy Unit Commendation, her second. Her 1968 deployment saw 13,000 sorties. By early 1969, Tico was on her fifth consecutive combat deployment (third Navy Unit Commendation) to Southeast Asia.

Caption: At sea, the Attack Carrier USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) is underway in November 1968. Note her A-3, A-4, and F-8 airwing. USN 1129290

A U.S. Navy Vought F-8H Crusader from Fighter Squadron 111 (VF-111) Sundowners on the forward elevator of the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14), 1969.

In 1970, she would be given a reprieve from operating A-4s, F-8s and the like off Vietnam and Ticonderoga was re-designated (CVS-14), tasked with ASW combat for which she carried SH-3 sub-hunting helicopters and S-2 Tracker patrol planes. Her next two West Pac cruises were spent in exercises with allied nations and in the quieter past-time that was keeping tabs on Soviet subs.

USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) lit up for Christmas at Naval Air Station North Island, California in December 1971. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.067

USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) lit up for Christmas at Naval Air Station North Island, California in December 1971. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.067

USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) underway off San Diego, California, after departing Naval Air Station, North Island, for her final Western Pacific deployment, 17 May 1972. USN 1152586

USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) underway off San Diego, California, after departing Naval Air Station, North Island, for her final Western Pacific deployment, 17 May 1972. USN 1152586

It was during this time she came to be loaned out to support NASA on three different, but noteworthy occasions.

In April 1972, HC-1 Sea Kings from USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) recovered Apollo 16, returning from an 11-day mission to the moon that brought back 213 lbs. of lunar material.

The Pacific Ocean. A view of the recovery carrier for the Apollo 16, USS Ticonderoga (CVS 14) with Apollo 16 spelt out on the flight deck. Photographed by PH1 Carl R. Begy on April 29, 1972. 428-GX-USN 1152791

The Pacific Ocean. A view of the recovery carrier for the Apollo 16, USS Ticonderoga (CVS 14) with Apollo 16 spelled out on the flight deck. Photographed by PH1 Carl R. Begy on April 29, 1972. 428-GX-USN 1152791

The mission was repeated in December 1972 with Apollo 17. Then, HC-1 was used about 200 miles east of Pago Pago in the South Pacific to recover the last manned mission to the moon (a footnote that still stands).

A U.S. Navy Sikorsky SH-3G Sea King (BuNo 149930) of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 1 (HC-1) “Pacific Fleet Angels” recovers an Apollo 17 astronaut on 19 December 1972, with the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) in the background. NASA Photo ap17-S72-55974.

A water-level view of the Apollo 17 Command Module (CM) floating in the Pacific Ocean following splashdown and prior to recovery. The prime recovery ship, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14), is in the background. When this picture was taken, the three-man crew of astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans and Harrison H. Schmitt, had already been picked up by helicopter and flown to the deck of the recovery ship. The spacecraft was later hoisted aboard the USS Ticonderoga. A United States Navy UDT swimmer stands on the flotation collar. Apollo 17 splashdown occurred at 13:24:59 (CST), 19 December 1972, about 350 nautical miles southeast of Samoa. NASA photo: S72-56147

Another key facet of Apollo 17 was the space vessel’s Command Module Pilot, CAPT. Ronald E. Evans, USN, established a record of more time in lunar orbit than anyone else in the world, a record that stands to this day. As a happy coincidence, Evans was flying Vietnam combat operations with VF-51 in F-8 Crusaders aboard Ticonderoga when he heard of his selection to NASA in 1966.

Evans, as a Tiger. He died in 1990.

In June 1973, Tico was tapped again to support NASA and picked up the three-man all-Navy crew (CAPT Charles Conrad Jr., CDR Joseph P. Kerwin, and CDR Paul J. Weitz, USN) of Skylab 2, the first U.S. manned orbiting space station after they had completed 404 orbits.

22 June 1973 The Skylab 2 Command Module, with astronauts Charles Conrad Jr., Joseph P. Kerwin and Paul J. Weitz still inside, floats in the Pacific Ocean following successful splashdown about 835 miles southwest of San Diego, California. The prime recovery ship, USS Ticonderoga, approaches from the left background. A recovery helicopter hovers in the foreground. The three Skylab 2 crewmen had just completed a 28-day stay with the Skylab 1 space station in Earth orbit conducting numerous medical, scientific and technological experiments. NASA Photo S73-29147

22 June 1973 The Skylab 2 Command Module, with astronauts Charles Conrad Jr., Joseph P. Kerwin and Paul J. Weitz still inside, floats in the Pacific Ocean following successful splashdown about 835 miles southwest of San Diego, California. The prime recovery ship, USS Ticonderoga, approaches from the left background. A recovery helicopter hovers in the foreground. The three Skylab 2 crewmen had just completed a 28-day stay with the Skylab 1 space station in Earth orbit conducting numerous medical, scientific and technological experiments. NASA Photo S73-29147

On 1 September 1973, the old carrier, which had picked up 17 battle stars (5 WWII, 12 Vietnam) was found to be unfit for further naval service. Her name was struck from the Navy List on 16 November 1973 and she was sold for scrap the next year to Zidell Explorations Corp. for a bid of $601,999.99 (she had originally cost Uncle $78 million in 1944 dollars to build).

USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) Being scrapped at Tacoma, Washington, 1975. NH 89301

USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) Being scrapped at Tacoma, Washington, 1975. NH 89301

Her bell is preserved aboard Naval Station North Island.

USS Ticonderoga Veterans’ Association

As for her sisters, only four (of 24) remained with the fleet longer than Tico did– Intrepid (decommissioned 1974), Hancock (1976), Oriskany (1976) and Lexington (1990). Today, four Essex-class carriers are semi-preserved (Intrepid, Lexington, Yorktown, and Hornet) as floating museums.

Tico is remembered in several works of maritime art in the public collection.

USS TICONDEROGA (CVS-14) Port side view showing the launching of S-2 and SH-3 units of HELISUPRON-1. NH 78896-KN

USS TICONDEROGA (CVS-14) Port side view showing the launching of S-2 and SH-3 units of HELISUPRON-1. NH 78896-KN

USS Ticonderoga at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. "After nearly thirty years of service to the Navy starting in World War II, one of USS Ticonderoga's last missions was the recovery of the astronauts of Apollo 17. The artwork shows the ship waiting at Pearl Harbor for orders to go on station near American Samoa." Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Paul D. Ortlip; 1972; Framed Dimensions 25H X 31W Accession #: 88-162-OZ

USS Ticonderoga at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. “After nearly thirty years of service to the Navy starting in World War II, one of USS Ticonderoga’s last missions was the recovery of the astronauts of Apollo 17. The artwork shows the ship waiting at Pearl Harbor for orders to go on station near American Samoa.” Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Paul D. Ortlip; 1972; Framed Dimensions 25H X 31W Accession #: 88-162-OZ

"Back from the Moon, The press conference given by the astronauts" Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Paul D. Ortlip; 1972; Framed Dimensions 57H X 76W Accession #: 88-162-OR Apollo 17 was the sixth and final manned mission to the moon. Captain Eugene Cernan, USN, Captain Ronald Evans, USN and Harrison Schmidt are greeted by dignitaries, the press and crew of USS TICONDEROGA upon their return.

“Back from the Moon, The press conference given by the astronauts” Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Paul D. Ortlip; 1972; Framed Dimensions 57H X 76W Accession #: 88-162-OR Apollo 17 was the sixth and final manned mission to the moon. Captain Eugene Cernan, USN, Captain Ronald Evans, USN, and Harrison Schmidt are greeted by dignitaries, the press and crew of USS TICONDEROGA upon their return.

After Tico‘s removal from the fleet, a new class of guided missile cruisers was commissioned, beginning with the lead ship (CG-47) named Ticonderoga.

USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) Transiting the Suez Canal enroute to the Mediterranean Sea, following a deployment in support of Operation Desert Shield, 22 August 1990. Photographer: PH3 Frank A. Marquart. NH 106516-KN

USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) Transiting the Suez Canal en route to the Mediterranean Sea, following a deployment in support of Operation Desert Shield, 22 August 1990. Photographer: PH3 Frank A. Marquart. NH 106516-KN

Both the carrier and cruiser’s flames are kept alive by the well-organized USS Ticonderoga Veterans’ Association who are actively requesting a new warship be named after their vessels.

And of course, all the former Ticos are remembered and celebrated at the New York town of the same name and by the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, where a display of artifacts to the ships exists.

Of the men Tico brought back home from space, Navy CAPT. Eugene Andrew Cernan, the last man to walk on the lunar surface, died in 2017, aged 82. The former Skylab 2 crew, Kerwin- Conrad-Weitz, have all since joined their friends on the wall. This leaves just Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, and Charles “Charlie” Duke, both 83, of Apollo 16 and 17, respectively, still on this side of the wall.

Specs:

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) At sea off the Philippines, just prior to her first strike against the Japanese, 5 November 1944. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. NH 92243

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) At sea off the Philippines, just prior to her first strike against the Japanese, 5 November 1944. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. NH 92243

Displacement: As built:
27,100 tons standard
Length: As built:
888 feet (271 m) overall
Beam: As built:
93 feet (28 m) waterline
Draft: As built:
28 feet 7 inches (8.71 m) light
Propulsion: As designed:
8 × boilers
4 × Westinghouse geared steam turbines
4 × shafts
150,000 shp (110 MW)
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h)
Complement: 3448 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 Bofors 40 mm guns
46 × single Oerlikon 20 mm cannons
Armor: As built:
4-inch (100 mm) belt
2.5-inch (60 mm) hangar deck
1.5-inch (40 mm) protective decks
1.5-inch (40 mm) conning tower
Aircraft carried: As built:
90–100 aircraft

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Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Dwight Shepler

Much as once a week I like to take time off to cover warships (Wednesdays), on Sundays (when I feel like working), I like to cover military art and the painters, illustrators, sculptors, photographers and the like that produced them.

Combat Gallery Sunday: The Martial Art of Dwight Shepler

Dwight C. Shepler was born in Everett, Massachusetts, in 1905 and studied art at Williams College then became a member of the American Artists’ Group and the American Artists Professional League. When the war came, the 36-year-old bespectacled Shepler volunteered for the Navy and, in recognition of his skills and education, was assigned to the sea service’s Combat Art Section as an officer-artist.

As noted by the Navy, “he first traveled with a destroyer on Pacific convoy duty. From the mud of Guadalcanal, through the years of the Allied build-up in England, to the memorable D-Day on the French coast, he painted and recorded the Navy’s warfare.”

Artwork: “Gunners of the Armed Guard” Artist: Dwight C. Shepler #80 NARA

Artwork: “Liberator Fueling” Artist: Dwight C. Shepler #119 NARA

Field Day at Scapa Flow, a Northern British Base NARA DN-SC-83-05415

“Four Sisters of Londonderry” showing a four-pack of brand new U.S. Navy Benson-class destroyer destroyers including USS Madison (DD-425) USS Lansdale (DD-426) and USS Hilary P. Jones (DD-427) Artist: Dwight C. Shepler #97 – The U.S. National Archives (1983-01-01 & 1983-01-01)

Scapa Anchorage, in the collection of the National Archives, shows Shepler’s talents as a landscape artist. You almost don’t notice the Royal Navy battleships and cruiser force

The same can be said with this work, entitled St. Mawes Rendezvous, NARA DN-SC-83-05410

But then, there is war…

He observed the landings at Normandy in the ETO and Ormoc Bay and Lingayen Gulf and operations at Corregidor and Bataan in the PTO.

Opening the Attack Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Dwight C. Shepler; 1944 D-Day D Day Arkansas French cruisers George Leygues and Montcalm. NHHC 88-199-ew

“The Battle for Fox Green Beach,” watercolor by Dwight Shepler, showing the Gleaves class destroyer USS Emmons(DD 457) foreground and her sistership, the USS Doyle, to the right, within a few hundred yards of the landing beach, mixing it up with German shore batteries on D-Day

Heavy propellers of a Rhine Ferry are swung aloft as Seabees complete the assembly of the pontoons which make up the strange craft at the invasion port somewhere in England. Drawn by Navy Combat Artist Lieutenant Dwight C. Shepler, USNR. Artwork received 12 June 1944. NHHC 80-G-45675

Task Force of Two Navies” Watercolor by Dwight Shepler, USNR, 1943, depicting U.S. and British warships in the Pentland Firth during an operation toward the Norwegian coast, coincident with the Sicily invasion, July 1943. Alabama (BB 60) is in the lead, followed by HMS Illustrious and HMS King George V. Three British carrier-based fighters (two “Seafires” and a “Martlet”) are overhead. Official USN photo # KN-20381, courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, DC, now in the collections of the National Archives.

“First Reconnaissance – Manila Harbor. Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Dwight Shepler; 1945; Framed Dimensions 31H X 39W. Two PT’s prowled inside the breakwater entrance of Manila Harbor on February 23, 1945, first U.S. Naval vessels to enter in three years. Treading the mine-strewn waters of Manila Bay, PT’s 358 and 374 probed into the shoal harbor waters where countless enemy vessels sat on the bottom in mute testament of the severity of the fast carrier strikes of the fall of 1944. Manila smoked and exploded from the final fighting in Intramuros and the dock area.” (NHHC: 88-199-FY)

Minesweeper Before Corregidor Cleaning a pathway through the mines off Bataan peninsula, these hardy little minesweepers can work under severe Japanese coastal bombardment. Despite Army air cover overhead, the enemy shore guns sank the motor minesweeper YMS-48 and damaged the destroyers, Fletcher and Hopewell. On the following day, a naval task group landed Army troops on the peninsula and a short time thereafter resistance ceased on Corregidor and Bataan.Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Dwight C. Shepler; 1945; Framed Dimensions 30H X 39W Accession #: 88-199-GK

Preparations For Getting Underway DN-SC-83-05402

He also did a number of historic scenes for the branch.

Watercolor painting by Dwight Shepler of the USS South Dakota in action with Japanese planes during the Battle of Santa Cruz which took place October 11-26, 1942.

This image was used in a number of adverts during the War.

The Spider and the Fly — USS Hornet CIC at Midway. During World War II, battles were won by the side that was first to spot enemy airplanes, ships, or submarines. To give the Allies an edge, British and American scientists developed radar technology to “see” for hundreds of miles, even at night.Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Dwight Shepler; 1945; Framed Dimensions 28H X 40W Accession #: 88-199-GN

Japanese dive bomber swoops down in a kamikaze attack on USS Hornet (CVA 12) and is disintegrated by the ships anti-aircraft fire before it can hit the carrier. This is a copy of a watercolor painted by Lieutenant Dwight C. Shepler, USNR, Navy Combat Artist, from memory of an actual combat experience. Photographed released August 10, 1945. U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-700121

On 5 September 1813, the schooner Enterprise, commanded by Lieutenant William Burrows, captured the brig HMS Boxer off Portland, Maine in a twenty-minute action that saw both commanding officers die in battle. Enterprise’s second in command, Lieutenant Edward R. McCall then took Boxer to Portland, Maine. USS Enterprise versus HMS Boxer in action off the coast of Maine. Artist, Dwight Shepler. Enterprise was commanded by Lt William Burrows. Unfortunately, NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 47013-KN

For his service as a Combat Artist, the Navy awarded Shepler the Bronze Star. He left the branch in 1946 as a full Commander, USNR, having produced more than 300 paintings and drawings.

U.S. Navy artists, (left to right), Lieutenant William F. Draper, Lieutenant Dwight C. Shepler, and Lieutenant Mitchell Jamieson, conferring with Lieutenant Commander Parsons in the Navy Office of Public Relations, Washington, D.C., November 20, 1944. NHHC 80-G-47096

After the war, he continued his career as a pioneer watercolorist of the high ski country and later served as president of the Guild of Boston Artists.

Dwight Shepler, Mount Lafayette, and Cannon Mountain, N. H., n.d., watercolor, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Gift of the Ford Motor Company, 1966.36.179

He died at age 69 in Weston, Mass. His works are on wide display from the Smithsonian to the Truman Library and various points in between. His oral history is in the National Archives.

Thank you for your work, sir.

72 years ago today: Fanaticism in a photo

admiral-ugaki-posing-before-his-final-kamikaze-mission-wwii-15-august-1945Imperial Japanese Navy Vice Admiral Matome Ugaki on 15 August 1945, at age 55, on his last day in the Navy.

Ugaki graduated from the Imperial Japanese Naval Academy in 1912, 9th in his class, and went on to serve the Emperor for the next 33 years including as a junior officer on the battlecruiser Kongō during WWI, service in Germany in the 1920s, passing through the Naval Staff College and serving as the Chief-of-Staff of the Combined Fleet under Yamamoto for the first half of WWII.

Chief of Staff Matome Ugaki (left), Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, liaison staff officer Shigero Fujii, and administrative officer Yasuji Watanabe aboard battleship Nagato, early 1940s

A smiling Chief of Staff Matome Ugaki (left), Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, liaison staff officer Shigero Fujii, and administrative officer Yasuji Watanabe aboard battleship Nagato, early 1940s

Following Yamamoto’s death, Ugaki was given the demotion of commanding the 1st Battleship Division (Nagato, Yamato, Musashi), which largely perished during the Battle of Leyte Gulf in 1944, then was transferred to command the kamikaze forces of the IJN Fifth Air Fleet. Spending the last year of the war cheering on barely trained young pilots as they took off in condemned planes with just enough fuel for a one-way flight.

Speaking of which, the day the Emperor announced  the official cease-fire order on 15 August, Ugaki climbed into the backseat of a Yokosuka D4Y “Judy” (first image above) and led a failed 11-aircraft attack on the U.S. fleet. His remains were found later by Sailors of a U.S. amphibious landing craft along the beach on Iheyajima Island and buried in the sand, the last kamikaze.

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