Tag Archives: kamikaze

Warship Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021: Hurricane ASW

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

Warship Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021: Hurricane ASW

 

U.S. Navy photo in the Library of Congress LC-DIG-ppmsca-71001

Here we see the Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer USS Hyman (DD-732) moored at Kusaie (Kosrae) Island in the Carolines (now Micronesia), 8 September 1945. Her twin forward 5″/38cal DP Mark 38 mounts are skyward with an ensign in between them as the party assembled on her deck are gathered to receive the surrender of Lt-Gen. Yoshikazu Harada of the Imperial Japanese Army and his 4,500 assorted men ashore.

The Sumners, an attempt to up the firepower on the previous and highly popular Fletcher-class destroyers, mounted a half-dozen 5″/38s in a trio of dual mounts, as well as 10 21-inch torpedo tubes in a pair of five-tube turntable stations. Going past this, they were packed full of sub-busting and plane-smoking weapons as well as some decent sonar and radar sets for the era.

Sumner class layout, 1944

With 336 men crammed into a 376-foot hull, they were cramped, slower than expected (but still capable of beating 33-knots all day), and overloaded (although they reportedly rode wildly when in light conditions), but they are fighting ships who earned good reputations for being almost indestructible.

Our vessel was the only warship named for LCDR Willford Milton Hyman (USNA ’24), skipper of the destroyer USS Sims (DD-409) during the Battle of the Coral Sea. Sims, while escorting the tanker USS Neosho, was attacked by three vicious waves of Japanese aircraft from two carriers who had been alerted the American ships were a carrier and a cruiser. Struck by three bombs, Hyman ultimately rode his command to the bottom. His family was presented with a posthumous Navy Cross. His third wife (he was a surface warfare man), Edwige, an Army nurse during the war, was the sponsor of the USS Hyman and present at both her launching and commissioning.

Laid down at Maine’s Bath Iron Works on 22 November 1943, USS Hyman was commissioned just under seven months later on 16 June 1944, a war baby in every sense of the term. After shakedowns along the East Coast, she steamed via the Canal Zone and San Diego to Pearl Harbor, arriving there 12 October 1944.

USS Hyman (DD-732) is seen in an aerial view from the starboard off Race Point wearing 31/25D on July 21, 1944. Hyman had been commissioned on June 16, 1944, and was probably conducting trials. The colors are haze gray, ocean gray, and black. NARA 80-G-237943.

Same as above. 80-G-310154

USS Hyman DD-732 1944, note her camo. NARA 80-G-310152

After further exercises, escort duty, and training evolutions, Hyman saw her first combat off Iwo Jima, delivering close-in naval gunfire support from 19 February through the end of the month, supporting the Marines ashore with her 5-inch battery while taking time to recover Ensign Louis Radford, a Hellcat pilot from the Saratoga who ditched his F6F at sea because of lack of fuel. Speaking of aviators, during this period Hyman worked together with an airborne spotting plane from USS Wake Island to adjust her fire, hammering Iwo with 574 rounds of 5-inch and an equal number of 40mm shells on 20 February alone.

From her war history:

Via NARA

Then came a short period of comparative rest in the Leyte Gulf, where she refueled and rearmed. Next, she sailed for Okinawa, arriving on April Fool’s Day.

The plan of the day, 31 March 1945: “Tomorrow we will reach the objective. We are now well in enemy territory and may expect any type of reception.”

Indeed, on 5 April, Hyman came across a Japanese midget submarine off Okinawa’s Zampa Misaki point that surfaced and unsuccessfully fired a torpedo at our destroyer from a range of 1,500 yards, which the tin can was able to maneuver to “just slip clear.”

The next day, things got bad. From the NHHC’s H-044-2 “Floating Chrysanthemums”—The Naval Battle of Okinawa

Destroyer Hyman was covering the transport area when she was attacked by four kamikazes at 1612 on 6 April. Hyman shot down three of the kamikazes but was hit by the fourth on her torpedo tubes, which resulted in a massive explosion and flooded the forward engine room. As damage control parties stopped the flooding and put out the fires, Hyman’s gunners, along with gunners on destroyer Rooks (DD-804), which had come to Hyman’s aid, helped to down two more kamikazes. Rooks had already shot down five Japanese aircraft earlier in the day and would remain in nearly constant action off Okinawa until late June, suffering no hits and no casualties in an incredible lucky streak. Hyman suffered 12 killed and over 40 wounded, but the ship was saved.

As a sobering aspect, she was luckier than several of her sisters. Between December 1944 and May 1945, USS Cooper, USS Mannert L. Abele, and USS Drexler were all sunk in the Pacific– the latter two by kamikazes.

After emergency repairs at Kerama Retto, Hyman arrived on one engine at San Francisco on 16 May 1945 and would spend the next nine weeks under extensive rebuild and refit.

USS Hyman in San Francisco Bay, 20 July 1945. U.S. Navy Bureau of Ships photo 19-N-87168

Steaming back to the frontlines for the next round of fighting, she arrived at Pearl Harbor the day of the Japanese surrender, 15 August. Ordered to Kwajalein, she had some cleanup work to do.

Island hopping for signatures

The Kusaie Fortress, as the Japanese described the windswept 43 sq. mile island, was garrisoned by the three-battalion 3,800-strong 2nd South-Seas Detachment composed largely of the 107th Infantry Regiment reinforced by some light artillery and a company of Type 95 tanks, along with a 700-man Imperial Japanese navy unit who was largely there to man some elderly 8cm/40 Armstrong (3rd Year Type) naval guns and refuel/repair seaplanes and occasional cargo vessels. Commanded by Lt. Gen. Yoshikazu Harada, the outpost was formerly part of the Spanish and Imperial German empires, but the Japanese had ruled it by mandate since 1919, so they had lots of time to prepare.

Gratefully for all involved, the place was a backwater of WWII and, other than the occasional bombing mission by Navy PBYs in 1944 and 1945, it was left to wither on the vine. Hyman received the surrender of Japanese forces on Kusaie on 8 September, as shown in the top image of this post. Commodore Ben Wyatt accepted on behalf of Nimitz.

The surrender document for Kusaie Fortress, via the National Archives.

Hyman, leaving LT PF Woodhouse behind as military governor of Kusaire, steamed the next day for Kwajalein, then left again on 10 September bound for Ponape Harbor, where they met with the destroyer escort USS Farquhar (DE-139) which was standing guard off the Japanese territory.

Like Kusaie, Ponape was a backwater that had been bombed and bombarded– including by the fast battleships USS Massachusetts, Iowa, Alabama, and North Carolina. The garrison consisted of some 6,000 men of the 52nd Brigade and some 2,000 Japanese navy personnel. They had more than 20 artillery pieces including some large 15 cm/50 41st Year Type naval guns and would have been a tough nut to crack had the fortress been taken by amphibious assault.

Lt-Gen. Masao Watanabe of the Imperial Japanese Army and his aides arrived aboard Hyman with IJN CAPT Jun Naito in tow to negotiate the surrender of Ponape Island on 11 September 1945. After a short ceremony signed by Commodore Wyatt and witnessed by DESDIV Commander, CAPT A.O. Momm, who assumed the post of military governor of the outpost, the deed was done.

The surrender document for Ponape Fortress, via the National Archives.

The event was richly recorded in snapshots by Hyman bluejacket Willie Starnes. 

Willie Starnes collection showing Watanabe et. al at Ponape aboard Hyman. Via Navsource. http://navsource.org/archives/05/732a.htm

Hyman remained in the area as a station ship, assisting in the occupation and repatriation of the Japanese forces until arriving at Eniwetok the day after Christmas 1945.

Jane’s entry for the class in 1946.

Korea and the Cold War

While whole flotillas of American destroyers entered mothballs in the late 1940s, Hyman remained very active. She conducted Mediterranean deployments in 1947 and 1948, the latter as part of a large carrier and cruiser group to support the U.N. Peace Force in Palestine. Stationed in Algiers (across the Mississippi River from New Orleans) with a reduced crew in 1949, she spent the next two years supporting the NRF operations, sailing with reservists on two-week annual cruises in the Gulf of Mexico.

Once the North Koreans crossed the 38th Parallel, she once more went on a war footing and, taking part in workups along the East Coast, set out for another Med cruise.

Hyman off the Boston Lightship, 5 July 1950, while she was engaged in maneuvers and training for front-line deployment. NARA 24743383

USS Hyman (DD-732) underway off the Boston Lightship, Massachusetts (USA), on 5 July 1950. She still very much has her WWII layout including 21-inch quintuple torpedo tubes. NARA 24743385

Her ticket came up for Korea in October 1951, just 90 days after returning from the Med deployment, and she arrived off Wonsan to start delivering some sweet shore bombardment there against North Korean/Chinese targets and batteries on 6 November. While on such duty two weeks later, she engaged in a gunnery duel with shore batteries on the Kalmo Pando peninsula, “sustaining minor shrapnel damage during the close-in exchange.”

USS Hyman (DD-732) Ship’s forward 5/38 guns aimed at targets on the Korean coast, during bombardment operations in February 1952. Note U.S. flag painted atop mount 52. 80-G-440142

Her Korean operations concluded, she left the gun line in late February 1952 and arrived back on the East Coast via Ceylon, Saudi Arabia, Italy, and France on 21 April. Keeping that op-tempo up, she was back in the Med for a five-month deployment in 1953.

Such hard use saw her modernization downplayed, and she never officially received a full FRAM II upgrade as at least 33 of her sisters did. Nonetheless, she did around this time swap out her WWII anti-air batteries swapped out for modern radar-directed 3-inch DP mounts, while her sonar and torpedo tubes were similarly upgraded.

USS Hyman (DD-732) Underway during the early or middle 1950s. This photograph was received by the Naval Photographic Center in December 1959 but was taken several years earlier. Note that the ship still carries 40mm guns (replaced by 3/50s by mid-decade) and 20mm guns but has a tripod foremast and SPS-6 radar (both typically fitted during the early ’50s). She never did receive the FRAM treatment. NH 107139

The rest of her 1950s included several Midshipman cruises, another Med deployment, and participation in the huge International Naval Review that came as part of the 350th anniversary of the Jamestown settlement in 1957.

Mercury, Cuba, and Betsy

In April 1961, Hyman was detailed to support the unmanned Mercury-Atlas 3 (MA-3) launch, deploying to the Azores in hopes of retrieving the unmanned Boilerplate #8 capsule. However, only 43 seconds after liftoff from Cape Canaveral, MA-3’s mission ended in a rain of fiery debris falling back to Earth, with the capsule recovered just a mile off Florida.

After yet another Med cruise in 1962, our non-stop greyhound cut short her post-deployment refit to join the Naval quarantine of Castro’s Cuba during the Missile Crisis in October-November of that year. 

Hyman is listed as a NASA recovery ship for the Mercury-Atlas 9 (MA-9) mission in May 1963 that carried USAF Major Gordon Cooper in his Faith 7 capsule on 22 orbits– the longest American space flight at that time. Operating with COMDESDIV 122 embarked, she spent three days launching weather balloons in the area east of Cape Canaveral and reporting what she found. While the primary recovery ship was the carrier Kearsarge, on the other side of the globe off Midway, Hyman was ready off the Florida coast should the capsule have fallen short on launch.

Then came another Med cruise.

Destroyer USS Hyman (DD-732) photographed in Genoa, Italy, on May 14, 1964, during her 11th deployment with the Sixth Fleet. The ship was armed with six 5″/38s distributed in three double turrets, and six 3″ guns distributed in two double and two single turrets, in addition to depth charges and Mark 44 or Mark 37 torps. (Photo by Carlo Martinelli)

Same day, place, photographer as above. Note that she does not have the DASH drone pad over her stern as many of her sisters did at this time, and retains her third 5″/38 mount. 

In March 1965, with the fleet gaining whole squadrons of new post-WWII Mitscher, Forrest Sherman, Charles Adams, and Farragut-class destroyers, and Hyman not fully FRAM’d, our high-mileage warship was sent down to New Orleans to serve as an NRF training platform again. She was tied up there when Hurricane Betsy, the first Atlantic storm to produce over $1 billion in damages, hit Louisiana on 9/10 September as a Category 4 storm, with wind speeds reaching up to 175 mph.

Hyman’s deck log from the night of the storm recalls winds over 70 knots, a slow-speed collision with an unnamed adrift merchant ship, being hit by a floating crane, and other adventures. Nonetheless and despite her material damage, the destroyer and her scaled-down crew responded to the disaster-struck city and helped with the immediate recovery.

Via NARA

Then came a call to help find the barge MTC-602, which broke loose from its moorings up the river around Baton Rouge and sank. While not normally a task for a destroyer, MTC-602 had a cargo of some 600 tons of chlorine gas cylinders aboard, estimated to be capable of killing tens of thousands if the cylinders were damaged.

Working in tandem with the Coast Guard, Navy S-2 Trackers, and dive teams from both the Army Engineering Corps and the Navy Seabees in Gulfport, Hyman used her active sonar and fathometer to help find the submerged barge, probably the only time a destroyer purposely pinged the bottom of the Mississippi River.

Ultimately, MTC-602 was located and raised, her chlorine still safe, and a big Bravo Zulu went out to all involved.

From the House. Committee on Public Works. Special Subcommittee to Investigate Areas of Destruction of Hurricane Betsy report:

From the December 1965 All Hands:

Her hull inspected and patched up in nearby Orange, Texas, Hyman returned to her reservists in 1966, a task she was busy in for a couple more years, but the writing was on the wall.

Still, she was ready for anything right up to the last. On 16 March 1969, she put to sea off Venice at the mouth of the Mississippi to respond to a wide-scale search for the lost Liberian-flagged cargo ship SS Vainqueur which had sunk 134 miles southwest of South Pass in the Gulf of Mexico the night before as a result of a boiler room explosion. 

The 12,000-ton Vainqueur at Congress Wharf in New Orleans. She sank while carrying a cargo of premium Louisiana cane sugar

Hyman located and rescued 24 survivors. 

March 16, 1969 Hyman deck log re: SS Vainquer. Via NARA

Less than seven months after the Vainquier rescue, Hyman was decommissioned and stricken on 14 November 1969, Her stripped hulk was sold 13 October 1970 to the Southern Scrap Material Co., of New Orleans, for $66,989, which works out to roughly $30 per ton.

Epilogue

Her war history, a 70-page report of her time in hell off Okinawa, and most of her deck logs and diaries are digitized and online in the National Archives.

A pristine ensign that may have flown over one of the destroyer’s surrender ceremonies was sold at auction last year. 

The ship and her crew have several small memorial pages and groups.

The town of Newcastle, Indiana has a memorial in her honor as well as a detailed scale model on display in a park building. Erected in 2010, it has the names of her 12 shipmates killed off Okinawa in 1945, as well as six bluejackets lost at sea or in Korea.

USS Hyman DD732 Marker

There is some maritime art of Hyman in circulation.

Dean Ellis (1920 – 2009) “USS Hyman”

Faith 7, the spacecraft from the last Mercury mission, which Hyman helped recover in 1963 is on display at the Houston Space Center.

Kosrae and Ponape have been part of the U.S.-protected Federated States of Micronesia since the Reagan administration and have known peace since 1945. They are noted for a wealth of biodiversity and are home to several endemic species of birds and giant snails.

USS Hyman’s arrival in Kosrae 1945. Mt. Mutunte (358m) is in the background then and now

The only Sumner-class sister of Hyman preserved in the country as a museum ship, USS Laffey (DD-724), is located at Patriots Point in Charleston, South Carolina. Hyman’s veterans often meet there on reunions. Please pay Laffey a visit of your own if you find yourself in the Palmetto State.

Specs:

Displacement: 2610 tons standard displacement
Length: 376’6″
Beam 40’10”
Draft 14’2″
Machinery: 2-shaft G.E.C. geared turbines (60,000 shp), 4 Babcock & Wilcox boilers
Maximum speed (designed) 36.5 knots, actual usually about 33.
Range: 3300 nautical miles (5300 km) at 20 knots on 504 tons fuel oil
Complement: 336
Sensors: SC air search radar, SG surface search radar, QGA sonar
Post modernization: Variable Depth Sonar (VDS), SQS-20, SPS-40
Armament:

(1944)
3 x 2 5″/38 dual-purpose guns (in 3 × 2 Mk 38 DP mounts)
2 x 4, 2×2 40mm Bofors AA guns
11 20mm Oerlikon AA guns
2 x 5 21″ torpedo tubes
6 depth charge throwers
2 depth charge tracks (56 depth charges)

(1956, post-modernization)
6 x 5 in/38 cal guns (in 3 × 2 Mk 38 DP mounts)
2 x 2, 2 x 1 3″/50 Marks 27, 33
2 x triple Mark 32 torpedo tubes for Mark 44 torpedoes
2 x single 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes for Mark 37 torpedoes

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Warship Wednesday, April 14, 2021: Just a Little DASH

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

Warship Wednesday, April 14, 2021: Just a Little DASH

NARA KN-1814

Here we see a great original color photo of the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Hazelwood (DD-531) with an early torpedo-armed Gyrodyne-equipped Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter hovering over her newly installed flight deck, 22 March 1961. Hazelwood was an important bridge in tin can history moving from WWII kamikaze-busters into the modern destroyers we know today.

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

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

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

Named in honor of Continental/Pennsylvania Navy Commodore John Hazelwood, famous for defending Philadelphia and the Delaware River against British man-o-wars in 1777 with a rag-tag assortment of gunboats and galleys, the first USS Hazelwood (Destroyer No. 107) was a Wickes-class greyhound commissioned too late for the Great War and scrapped just 11 years later to comply with naval treaty obligations.

Portrait of Commodore John Hazelwood by Charles Willson Peale 1779 NH 77362-KN

The subject of our tale was laid down by Bethlehem Steel, San Francisco on 11 April 1942– some 79 years ago this week and just four months after Pearl Harbor. She was one of 18 built there, all with square bridges, as opposed to other yards that typically built a combination of both square and round bridge designs. Commissioned 18 June 1943, she was rushed to the pitched battles in the Western Pacific.

Aft plan view of the USS Hazelwood (DD 531) in San Francisco on 3 Sep 1943. Note her three aft 5″/38 mounts, depth charge racks, and torpedo tubes.

Forward pan view of the USS Hazelwood (DD 531) in San Francisco on 3 Sep 1943. A good view of her forward two 5″ mounts.

By October 1943, she was in a fast carrier task force raiding Wake Island.

Switching between TF 52 and TF 53, she took part in the invasion of the Gilbert Islands, Kwajalein, and Majuro Atolls in the Marshall Islands, then came the Palaus. Next came the Philippines, where she accounted for at least two kamikazes during Leyte Gulf.

Hazelwood in Measure 32, Design 6d during WWII

In early 1945, she joined TF 38, “Slew” McCain’s fast carrier strike force for his epic Godzilla bash through the South China Sea, followed up by strikes against the Japanese home islands.

Then came Okinawa.

While clocking in on the dangerous radar picket line through intense Japanese air attacks, she became the center of a blast of divine wind.

From H-Gram 045 by RADM Samuel J. Cox, Director, NHHC:

As destroyer Hazelwood was steaming to assist Haggard (DD-555) on 29 April, three Zekes dropped out of the overcast. Hazelwood shot down one, which crashed close aboard, and the other Zeke missed. The third Zeke came in from astern. Although hit multiple times, it clipped the port side of the aft stack and then crashed into the bridge from behind, toppling the mainmast, knocking out the forward guns, and spraying flaming gasoline all over the forward superstructure. Its bomb exploded, killing the commanding officer, Commander Volkert P. Douw, and many others, including Douw’s prospective relief, Lieutenant Commander Walter Hering, and the executive officer and ship’s doctor.

The engineering officer, Lieutenant (j.g.) Chester M. Locke, took command of Hazelwood and directed the crew in firefighting and care of the wounded. Twenty-five wounded men had been gathered on the forecastle when ammunition began cooking off. Because of the danger of imminent explosion, the destroyer McGowan (DD-678) could not come alongside close aboard. The wounded were put in life jackets, lowered to the water, and able-bodied men dove in and swam them to McGowan. Only one of the wounded men died in the process. Hazelwood’s crew got the fires out in about two hours and McGowan took her in tow until the next morning, when Hazelwood was able to proceed to Kerama Retto under her own power and, from there, to the West Coast for repairs. Although Morison gives a casualty count as 42 killed and 26 wounded, multiple other sources state 10 officers and 67 enlisted men were killed and 36 were wounded. Locke was awarded a Navy Cross.

“USS Hazelwood survives two suicide plane attacks. US Navy Photo 126-15.” Okinawa, Japan. April 1945

USS Hazelwood (DD-531) after being hit by a kamikaze off Okinawa, 29 April 1945. Accession #: 80-G Catalog #: 80-G-187592

USS Hazelwood (DD-531), June 16, 1945. Damaged by kamikaze on April 29, 1945. Official U.S. Navy photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. 80-G-323986

Notably, two of her sisterships– USS Pringle (DD-477) and USS Bush (DD-529)— had been sunk by kamikaze aircraft off Okinawa less than two weeks before the attack on Hazelwood and three more– USS Luce (DD-522), USS Little (DD-803), and USS Morrison (DD-560)— would suffer a similar fate within the week afterward. Life was not easy for Fletchers working the picket line in the Spring of 1945.

Sent to Mare Island for repairs, Hazelwood was decommissioned on 18 January 1946 and entered the Pacific Reserve Fleet at San Diego, her war over.

The heavily damaged Fletcher-Class Destroyer USS Hazelwood DD-531 passes under the Golden Gate Bridge on her way to Mare Island Naval Shipyard for repairs – June 1945. LIFE Magazine Archives – Thomas Mcavoy Photographer

The heavily damaged Fletcher-Class Destroyer USS Hazelwood DD-531 passes under the Golden Gate Bridge on her way to Mare Island Naval Shipyard for repairs – June 1945. LIFE Magazine Archives – Thomas Mcavoy Photographer

The heavily damaged Fletcher-Class Destroyer USS Hazelwood DD-531 passes under the Golden Gate Bridge on her way to Mare Island Naval Shipyard for repairs – June 1945. LIFE Magazine Archives – Thomas Mcavoy Photographer

The heavily damaged Fletcher-Class Destroyer USS Hazelwood DD-531 passes under the Golden Gate Bridge on her way to Mare Island Naval Shipyard for repairs – June 1945. LIFE Magazine Archives – Thomas Mcavoy Photographer

The heavily damaged Fletcher-Class Destroyer USS Hazelwood DD-531 passes under the Golden Gate Bridge on her way to Mare Island Naval Shipyard for repairs – June 1945. LIFE Magazine Archives – Thomas Mcavoy Photographer

Note the total lack of superstructure and the temporary open bridge rigged.  LIFE Magazine Archives – Thomas Mcavoy Photographer

She received 10 very hard-earned battle stars for her World War II service.

She was luckier than 19 of her sisters who were sunk during the conflict, along with five others who, like her, suffered extreme damage and somehow remained afloat but were beyond economic repair once the nation came looking for a peace dividend. This works out to a loss rate of about 14 percent for the class.

DASH

By the time the Korean War kicked off, and the Soviets were quickly achieving parity on the high seas due to a rapidly-expanding snorkel-equipped submarine arm, 39 improved square-bridge Fletchers were taken out of mothballs and, through the project SCB 74A upgrade, a sort forerunner of the 1960s FRAM program, given new ASW weapons such as Hedgehog and Weapon Alpha in place of anti-ship torpedo tubes, deleted a 5-inch mount (earning the nickname of “4-Gun Fletchers) and swapped WWII-era optically-trained 40mm and 20mm AAA guns for three twin radar-guided 3-in mounts.

The Navy had something else in mind for Hazelwood.

Recommissioned at San Diego on 12 September 1951, she was sent to the Atlantic for the first time to work up with anti-submarine hunter-killer groups while still in roughly her WWII configuration.

USS Hazelwood (DD-531) in the 1950s, still with 40mm Bofors, at least one set of torpedo tubes, and all 5 big guns. USN 1045624

By 1954, she was back in the Pacific, cruising the tense waters off Korea, which had just settled into an uneasy truce that has so far held out. Then came a series of cruises in the Med with the 6th Fleet.

Ordered to Narragansett Bay in 1958, she was placed at the disposal of the Naval Ordnance Laboratory to help develop the Navy’s planned anti-submarine drone. Produced by Gyrodyne Co. of America, Inc., of Long Island, New York, it was at first designated DSN-1.

It made the world’s first free flight of a completely unmanned drone helicopter, long before the term “UAV” was minted, at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River in August 1960, and Hazelwood provided onboard testing facilities, with her stern modified for flight operations with the removal of her torpedo tubes and two 5-inch mounts and the addition of a flight deck and hangar– the first time a Fletcher carried an aircraft since the brief run of a trio of catapult-equipped variants.

QH-50 prototype over Hazelwood, 1960, NARA 80-KN 1814

“U.S. Navy’s First Helicopter Destroyer Conducts Exercises. USS Hazelwood is the Navy’s first anti-submarine helicopter destroyer, steams off the Atlantic coast near Newport, Rhode Island. Attached to Destroyer Development Group Two, Hazelwood is undergoing extensive training exercises to acquaint her crew with air operations. Her flight deck is designed to accommodate the DSN-1 Drone Helicopter (QH-50) scheduled for delivery from Gyrodyne Company of America, Inc. Soon, an HTK Drone Helicopter with a safety pilot, developed by the Kaman Aircraft Company, is being used for training exercises until the DSN-1 Drone becomes available. Through the use of drone helicopter and homing torpedo, Hazelwood will possess an anti-submarine warfare kill potential at much greater range than conventional destroyers.” The photograph was released on 1 September 1959. 428-GX-USN 710543

According to the Gyrodyne Helicopter Historical Foundation, “the DASH Weapon System consisted of the installation of a flight deck, hangar facility, deck control station, CIC control station, SRW-4 transmitter facility, and fore and aft antenna installation” and could carry a nuclear depth charge or Mk44 torpedo.

Via Gyrodyne Helicopter Historical Foundation

USS HAZELWOOD (DD-531) Photographed during the early 1960s while serving as “DASH” test ship. NH 79114

 

Anti-Submarine Demonstration during the inter-American Naval conference, 1-3 June 1960. An HS-1 Seabat helicopter uses its sonar while S2F and P2V patrol planes fly over USS DARTER (SS-576), USS CALCATERRA (DER-390), and USS HAZELWOOD (DD-531). The demonstration was witnessed by Naval leaders of 10 American nations. USN 710724

USS HAZELWOOD (DD-531) during the early 1960s. Note her bright, modern-style hull numbers. NH 79115

Hazelwood received two lengthy respites from her DASH work, brought about by pressing naval events of the era. The first of these was the Cuban Missile Crisis in late 1962, serving as Gun Fire Support Ship for Task Force 84 during the naval quarantine of the worker’s paradise.

The second was in April 1963 when the newly built attack boat USS Thresher (SSN-593) failed to surface. Hazelwood was one of the first ships rushed to begin a systematic search for the missing submarine, escorting the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution’s RV Atlantis II to the site and hosting several of the lab’s scientists and equipment aboard.

After her search for Thresher, Hazelwood returned to her job with the flying robots, completing over 1,000 sorties with DASH drones in 1963 alone and helping develop the Shipboard Landing Assist Device (SLAD). That year, Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara approved budgeting for enough aircraft to provide two plus one backup aircraft for each of the Navy’s 240 FRAM-1 & 2 destroyers in addition to development models.

By 1965, DASH drones were being used for hour-long “Snoopy” missions directing naval gunfire with real-time video in Vietnam at the maximum range of the ship’s 5-inchers.

With the drone, designated QH-50, ready for fleet use, Hazelwood’s work was done. Instead of a gold watch, she got what so many of her class ended up with– disposal.

Epilogue

Hazelwood decommissioned on 19 March 1965, just as the QH-50 program was fully matured and entered the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. Stricken 1 December 1974, she was subsequently sold 14 April 1976 to Union Minerals & Alloy, New York, and broken up for scrap.

Her plans, war diaries, 1950s logbooks, and reports are digitized in the National Archives. She is remembered in maritime art.

Kamikaze attacks on USS Hazelwood (DD 531), shown battered but still afloat, April 29, 1945. Artwork by John Hamilton from his publication, “War at Sea,” pg. 256. Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Gallery, accession 88-66-K.

A reunion blog for her crew remained updated until 2019.

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

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

As for the DASH, achieving IOC in late 1962, it went on to be unofficially credited as the first UAV to rescue a man in combat, carrying a Marine in Vietnam who reportedly rode its short skids away from danger and back to a destroyer waiting offshore. However, due to a lack of redundant systems, they were often lost. By June 1970, the Navy had lost or written off a staggering 411 of the original 746 QH-50C/D drone helicopters built for DASH. Retired in 1971 due to a mix of unrealized expectations, technological limitations for the era (remember, everything was slide rules and vacuum tubes then), and high-costs, OH-50s remained in military use with the Navy until 1997, soldiering on as targets and target-tows. The last operational DASH, ironically used by the Army’s PEO STRI-TMO, made its final flight on 5 May 2006, at the SHORAD site outside the White Sands Missile Range, outliving the Fletchers in usefulness.

A few are preserved in various conditions around the country, including at the Intrepid Air & Space Museum.

Ever since USS Bronstein (DE/FF-1037) was commissioned in 1963, the U.S. Navy has more often than not specifically designed their escorts to operate helicopters, be they unmanned or manned.

Specs:
Displacement 2,924 Tons (Full),
Length: 376′ 5″(oa)
Beam: 39′ 7″
Draft: 13′ 9″ (Max)
Machinery, 60,000 SHP; Westinghouse Turbines, 2 screws
Speed, 38 Knots
Range 6500 NM@ 15 Knots
Crew 273.
Armament:
5 x 5″/38 AA,
6 x 40mm Bofors
10/11 x 20mm AA
10 x 21″ tt.(2×5)

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Warship Wednesday, Jan.27, 2021: Of Kamikazes, Space Monkeys, and Exocets

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

Warship Wednesday, Jan.27, 2021: Of Kamikazes, Space Monkeys, and Exocets

Photo by Robert Huhardeaux via Wikicommons.

Here we see the Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer USS Borie (DD-704), in all her Cold War glory, anchored off Cannes, France, circa 1963. She would have a curious and extremely active 40-year career, bookending two eras of naval warfare with some stops in between.

The Sumners, an attempt to up the firepower on the previous and highly popular Fletcher-class destroyers, mounted a half-dozen 5″/38s in a trio of dual mounts, as well as 10 21-inch torpedo tubes in a pair of five-tube turntable stations. Going past this, they were packed full of sub-busting and plane-smoking weapons as well as some decent sonar and radar sets for the era.

Sumner class layout, 1944

With 336 men crammed into a 376-foot hull, they were cramped, slower than expected (but still capable of beating 33-knots all day), and overloaded, but they are fighting ships who earned good reputations.

Speaking of reputation, the subject of our tale today was named after Adolph Edward Borie, who appreciated bespoke top hats and served for a few months as Grant’s SECNAV in 1869.

Honorable Adolph E. Borie, Secretary of the Navy, and his top hat. Matthew Brady photograph via the LOC

The first ship to carry the former SECNAV’s name was the Clemson-class four-piper tin can, Destroyer No. 215, which joined the fleet in 1920, some 40 years after Mr. Borie’s passing. Earning three battle stars and a Presidential Unit Citation, on All Saints Day 1943, DD-215 rammed and sank the surfaced German submarine U-405 in the North Atlantic. With 27 men lost and too badly damaged by the collision to be towed to port, Borie was scuttled by USS Barry (DD-248) the next day.

Painting of the action between USS Borie (DD-215) and German submarine U-405 in the Atlantic, 1 November 1943. Borie rammed and sank the U-Boat but was so badly damaged that she had to be scuttled. Painting by US Coast Guard artist Hunter Wood, 1943. 80-G-43655

The second Borie, our Sumner-class destroyer, was constructed at Federal Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co., Kearny, N.J.; and commissioned 21 September 1944.

By 24 January 1945, she had completed shakedown trials and shipped to the Pacific, announcing her arrival with the fleet in a bombardment of Iwo Jima that day while part of DESRON 62’s Destroyer Division 124, a group of brand-new Sumners that besides Borie counted USS John W. Weeks (DD-701) and USS Hank (DD-702).

Joining Task Force 58, acting as an escort for the battleships USS New Jersey and South Dakota as well as the carriers Bunker Hill and Essex, they carried out a raid on the Tokyo area in February before switching to the push on Okinawa. This included a close-in destroyer raid on Japanese airstrips on the night of 27/28 March via shore bombardment and star shell illumination.

“After three minutes of rapid salvoes, fires were observed in the vicinity of the airstrips. March proved to be a fighting moth for the Borie with almost continual picket and screening duty with the powerful “58” that was striking Japan a blow from which she would never recover,” noted her war history.

However, she was soon sidelined after smashing into Essex on 2 April while transferring pilots and mail via breeches buoy in heavy seas, demolishing her aft stack, one of her 40mm mounts, and “bending the mast at a crazy angle.”

USS Borie (DD 704) collides with USS Essex (CV 9) while transferring the mail during a storm. Damage to Borie was light and the ship was still operational on 2 April 1945. Note damage to the smokestack. 80-G-373755

Sent to Ulithi for repairs, she returned to Spruance’s merry band on 1 May. Assigned to nearly perpetual radar picket duty against kamikazes, alternating with more shore bombardment runs on Minami Daito Jima, Borie also clocked in as needed for lifeguard duty, plucking one of the battleship USS Alabama‘s Kingfisher pilots from the drink on 23 June and returning him home. She would later pick up an F6F pilot as well as two crewmen of a downed SB2C while tagging along on a carrier air strike against Kyushu.

Then came the afternoon of 9 August– notably just six days before the Japanese surrender. On that day, the four tin cans of Destroyer Division 124 were on radar picket duty just off the Japanese port of Sendai, just hours after a USAAF B-29 dropped an atomic bomb on Nagasaki, a force of five Imperial Navy Aichi B7A Grace torpedo bombers came out looking for some payback.

As covered in H-Gram 51 from NHHC:

At 1454, somehow the first B7A Grace reached the picket group undetected and without being engaged by combat air patrol fighters. Despite the surprise, the destroyers opened fire and the Grace was hit multiple times but kept on coming. The damaged Grace flew right over Hank at low altitude as fuel pouring from perforated fuel tanks soaked the destroyer’s bridge crew in gasoline. The plane then went into a sharp bank and came in on Borie from the port quarter. The Grace released a large 1,764-pound bomb just before it crashed into Borie’s superstructure just aft of the bridge between the 5-inch gun director and the mast. This started a large fuel fire and blew many men over the side (most of whom were not recovered). Fortunately, the bomb passed clean through Borie and detonated off the starboard side, but the ship was sprayed with many bomb fragments that cut down even more men. All communications from the bridge were knocked out and control was transferred to after steering. Firefighting was complicated by 40-mm ready-use ammunition continuing to cook-off, but, finally, the fires were brought under control and, as the ship had suffered no below-the-waterline damage, she was not in danger of sinking.

Over the next hour, the other four Graces attacked the destroyers, and all were shot down without significant damage. Hank suffered one man missing and five wounded. Despite the fires and damage, Borie remained in her position in the formation and her guns continued to fire on the following Japanese aircraft. Borie’s casualties were high: 48 killed or missing and 66 wounded. Commander Adair was awarded a Silver Star for his actions in saving the ship and continuing to fight despite the severe damage.

This would also be the last battle damage suffered by the U.S. Fast Carrier Task Force.

As detailed in the destroyer’s after-action report, that afternoon alone she fired 191 5-inch, 810 40mm and 1,426 20mm shells at her attackers.

One of the first ships to respond to the stricken Borie, Alabama transferred a medical party to the destroyer in payback for her Kingfisher pilot.

Borie Kamikaze damage

Her men buried at sea were the last lost to the Divine Wind

USS Borie (DD-704) at Saipan in late August 1945, after being damaged by a kamikaze off Japan on August 9. Note wreckage at fore stack and bridge. It was after transferring her wounded to the hospital ship Rescue and while heading to Saipan for emergency repairs that her radio shack picked up the flash that Japan had surrendered. NH 74693

Heading to Hunter’s Point for more permanent repairs, by February 1946 peace had settled on the world, and Borie, made new again, was dispatched to join the Atlantic Fleet. She received three battle stars for her World War II services.

As a sobering aspect, she was luckier than several of her sisters. Between December 1944 and May 1945, USS Cooper, USS Mannert L. Abele, and USS Drexler were all sunk in the Pacific– the latter two by kamikazes.

Jane’s entry for the class in 1946.

The Cold (and sometimes hot) War

Shipping back to the Pacific in 1950, Borie earned four battle stars for her participation in the Korean conflict as part of TF 77, proving key in the Hungnam Evacuation of Chosin survivors. She also supported the Marines at Wonsan and was the only NGFS available to cover the U.S. Army landing at Iwon. Finally, Borie was near the beach for the second Inchon landing.

She was also a familiar sight in the Med, where she helped evacuate American citizens and UN truce teams from Israel and Egypt in 1956. It was then that she was the first U.S. warship through the Suez Canal after its nationalization by Nasser.

Borie, like many ships, also clocked in as a recovery vessel for NASA.

Before Alan Shepard lifted off on Freedom 7 in 1961 and became the first American astronaut in space, there were over 20 unmanned Program Mercury launches with boilerplate capsules and animals. The one most related to Borie was that of a seven-pound rhesus macaque named Sam who hailed from the U.S. Air Force School of Aviation Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base in Texas.

Sam was locked into a restraining couch then buckled into an erector-set-like cradle in the capsule of a boilerplate Mercury vehicle dubbed Little Joe 2 (LJ-2). Lit off from Wallops Island, Virginia on 4 December 1959, Sam flew 194 statute miles, reaching a suborbital altitude of 53 miles above ground, and did so in just 11 minutes, 6 seconds, which works out to a max speed of 4,466 miles per hour, grabbing over 14 G in the process.

The same type of rocket fired the next month: LITTLE JOE IV LAUNCH, 1/21/60, FROM WALLOPS ISLAND, VIRGINIA. LAUNCH VEHICLE-LITTLE JOE SUBORBITAL MERCURY CAPSULE TEST, MONKEY “MISS SAM” USED. REF: NASA HG LITTLE JOE 1/13. (MIX FILE)

And the little guy made it, landing in 20-foot seas while Borie made for the splashdown site, arriving “several hours later.”

As noted in an interview with a Borie crewman who was there:

“The monkey was inside in a large aluminum can, which was bolted down. We took the top off, and I crooked my finger and put it down in there. He took a hold of it. So, we got some [diagonal wire cutters] to cut him out of his contour couch. I set him down and told the chief petty officer to go get some apples and oranges. The monkey was hungry. He ate up most of the oranges.”

“After his ride in the Little Joe 2 Spacecraft, Sam the Monkey is safely aboard a U.S. Navy destroyer,” NASA photo via Johnson Space Center.

Other notable recoveries that Borie was a part of was Gemini VI-A in 1965– carrying Wally Schirra and
Thomas Stafford– although our destroyer was in a supporting role to USS Wasp.

But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

FRAM!

Noting that their WWII-era destroyers were increasingly anachronistic against nuclear-powered submarines and jet aircraft, the Navy in the late 1950s/early 1960s embarked on a sweeping Fleet Rehabilitation and Modernization program. As part of it, no less than 33 Sumners were given the FRAM II treatment while others received the less invasive FRAM I upgrade. Borie picked her modernization in 1961, just in time to take part in the Quarantine of Cuba during the Missile Crisis.

Gone were the myriad of anti-aircraft guns, 21-inch torpedo tubes, depth charges, and obsolete sensors. Added was an AN/SQS-29 fixed sonar dome on the bottom of the bow, an AN/SQR-10 variable depth towed sonar on the stern, Mk. 32 ASW torpedo tubes amidships, a stubby helicopter deck for QH-50 DASH drones in place of the aft torpedo tube station, lots of EQ antennas, and a big SPS-40 surface search radar.

1968 Charleston Naval Shipyard plans for USS Allen M. Sumner (DD-692), Borie’s FRAM II sister/class leader. Via DD692.com. Click to big up.

Borie post-FRAM underway at sea, June 1968. NH 107165

Borie at sea, pounding in hard, as the class was notorious for. Note the AS-1018/URC UHF antenna on the forward mount and broadband whip antenna receiver on the No. 2 mount.

USS Borie (DD-704), post FRAM

A Navy Memorial Interview with a radioman who was part of her crew at the time:

Showing up for her third war, the destroyer made for Vietnam where she worked as part of the Tonkin Gulf Yacht Club, delivering over 7,000 rounds of naval gunfire support against NVA and VC targets ashore in a repeat of her 1944-45 and 1950-51 days.

By 1969, she was back home from the gunline and placed in semi-retirement as an NRF training vessel for reservists, a role she maintained until 1972, at which point the Navy had tired of the class.

Some 29 Sumners, all FRAM vessels, were sold/transferred to overseas allies around the world, with a dozen serving as the backbone of the Taiwanese Navy throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. Among those shipped overseas were four vessels to Argentina– USS Hank (DD-702), USS Collett (DD-730), USS Mansfield (DD-728), and our own Borie.

On to Puerto Belgrano

From Jane’s 1972

Entering Argentine service as the ARA Hipolito Bouchard (DD-26) in honor of the Latin American corsair of the same name, Borie was modernized in 1978 to include a four-pack of MM38 Exocet anti-ship missiles and a French-made Aerospatiale SA-319B Allouette III in place of a Sea Sprite/OH-50.

Argentine Sumners, 1978. Note the Exocets between the stacks of the closest destroyer. Photo via Histamar

During the Falklands conflict, at one point it was thought that the Bouchard and her sisters could close within 20 miles of the British fleet and ripple off their Exocets, then beat feet. Thankfully for their crews, this crash test dummy plan was not attempted. Photo Via Histarmar

Via Histamar

She was a proud vessel and served more than a solid decade on active service with the Argentine fleet.

When the Falklands conflict erupted, Borie/Bouchard and her sister Collett/Piedra Buena were assigned escort duty for the Argentine carrier Veinticinco de Mayo during the initial invasion of Port Stanley on 2 April 1982. Soon after, the two destroyers picked up screening duty for the pride of the fleet, the Brooklyn-class light cruiser ARA General Belgrano (ex-USS Phoenix).

What the two dated destroyers didn’t know was that a very quiet British hunter-killer, the Churchill-class SSN HMS Conqueror (S48), stalked Belgrano for three days before her skipper was cleared to splash the 12,500-ton Pearl Harbor veteran. Firing a trio of appropriately WWII-era Mk 8 mod 4 torpedoes rather than the new and unproved Mk 24 Tigerfish, two hit the Argentine cruiser and sent her to the bottom, making Conqueror the sole nuclear-powered submarine to have a combat kill (so far) in history.

By many accounts, Borie/Bouchard was hit by the third British Mk 8, which luckily for her did not explode, but did cause flooding and hull fissures. Together with Collett/Piedra Buena and a passing Chilean vessel, they stood by a rescued 772 men from the Belgrano.

Returning to the mainland, Borie/Bouchardaccording to Argentine reports — tracked a British Sea King HC.4 carrying eight SAS men on 18/19 May off Rio Grande, leading to the commandos aborting their mission to take out the country’s small stockpile of air-launched Exocets. The “Plum Duff” recon element was a prelude to a raid to be carried out either by SBS landed by the diesel attack sub, HMS Onyx, or 55 SAS men on an Entebbe-style assault via C-130 crashlanding, then displace 50 miles overland to Chile.

Her fourth war over, Borie/Bouchard was deactivated in early 1984 at Puerto Belgrano and on 15 November 1988 was authorized to be used as a naval target for airstrikes.

While repeatedly mentioned as being scrapped in 1984 by U.S. sources, several images are circulating that contend the vessel, in hulked and holed condition, was still around in the shallows near Puerto Belgrano as late as 1992 and perhaps beyond.

Either way, she may have outlived her old foe Conqueror in usefulness, as the submarine was decommissioned in 1990.

Epilogue

Today, little remains of the Borie in the U.S. besides a range of war diaries, logs, and histories in the National Archives, many of which are digitized. The Navy has not recycled her fine name.

Her 1945 battle flag is reported to still be in circulation, although I cannot find out where.

Tin Can Sailors has a Shipmate Registry for the Borie, where the former crew can get in touch with each other.

The last two Sumners in foreign service– USS Stormes (DD-780) and USS Zellars (DD-777) — were used by the Shah until 1979 and then inherited by the modern Islamic Republic of Iran Navy who retained them in a semi-active state into the mid-1990s.

Of note, the only Sumner retained in the U.S. as a museum ship, USS Laffey (DD-724) located at Patriots Point in Charleston, South Carolina, is a FRAM II vessel like Borie.

USS Laffey, DD-724 as a museum ship today

As for Sam, the intrepid space monkey that Borie fished from the Atlantic during the Eisenhower administration, according to a 2017 story by Richard A. Marini published in the San Antonio Express-News:

Sam underwent 11 years of medical scrutiny by researchers at the School of Aerospace Medicine — formerly the School of Aviation Medicine — at Brooks Air Force Base in San Antonio. He retired to a quiet life at the San Antonio Zoo.

“Sam died Sept. 19, 1978, at 21, several years short of the expected rhesus monkey lifespan,” the Express-News reports. “Even after death, Sam served the cause. A necropsy performed at Brooks found no space-related abnormalities, only that Sam had signs of old age and arthritis.”

In Riga, Estonia, a 36-foot tall simian in an astronaut’s pressure suit was installed in honor of the early furry space pioneers in 2016. Known by the artist as “First Crew” the statue is commonly referred to today simply as “Sam.”

Specs:
Displacement: 2610 tons standard displacement
Length: 376’6″
Beam 40’10”
Draft 14’2″
Machinery: 2-shaft G.E.C. geared turbines (60,000 shp), 4 Babcock & Wilcox boilers
Maximum speed (designed) 36.5 knots, actual usually about 33.
Range: 3300 nautical miles (5300 km) at 20 knots on 504 tons fuel oil
Complement: 336
Sensors: SC air search radar, SG surface search radar, QGA sonar
Post FRAM II: Variable Depth Sonar (VDS), SQS-20, SPS-40
Armament
3 x 2 5″/38 dual-purpose guns
2 x 4, 2×2 40mm Bofors AA guns
11 20mm Oerlikon AA guns
2 x 5 21″ torpedo tubes
6 depth charge throwers
2 depth charge tracks (56 depth charges)
(1961, post-FRAM-II)
6 x 5 in/38 cal guns (127 mm) (in 3 × 2 Mk 38 DP mounts)
2 x triple Mark 32 torpedo tubes for Mark 44 torpedoes
2 x single 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes for Mark 37 torpedoes
1 x Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter (DASH)
(1982)
6 x 5 in/38 cal guns (127 mm) (in 3 × 2 Mk 38 DP mounts)
2 x triple Mark 32 torpedo tubes for Mark 44 torpedoes
4 x MM38 Exocet AShMs
1 x SA-319B helicopter

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.

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St. Louis, arriving

Over the weekend, in an understated COVID-era ceremony, the latest USS St. Louis joined the fleet.

She is the 7th such vessel to carry the name and SECNAV made sure to touch on the missions of the first one, the 19th Century 24-gun sloop-of-war, rather than the two 20th Century cruisers with the same legacy. Because mission.

“Nearly 200 years after the first ship to bear the name was launched, today we commission the seventh USS St. Louis,” said Secretary of the Navy Kenneth J. Braithwaite. “Much like that sloop of war did in 1828, LCS-19 and her crew will protect the U.S. and our interests near and abroad. Whether conducting counter-narcotic operations in the Caribbean or working to enhance interoperability with partners and allies at sea, USS St. Louis will provide maneuverability, stability, and lethality in today’s era of Great Power Competition.”

St. Louis is the 22nd LCS to be delivered to the Navy, and the tenth of the Freedom-variant to join the fleet and is the seventh ship to bear the name. The first St. Louis, a sloop of war, was launched in 1828. It spent the majority of its service patrolling the coasts of the Americas to secure interests and trade. In addition, it served as the flagship for the West Indies Squadron working to suppress piracy in the Caribbean Sea, the Antilles, and the Gulf of Mexico region.

Of course, the most celebrated St. Louis in U.S. Navy history was past Warship Wednesday Alum “Lucky Lou,” the Brooklyn-class light cruiser that was the first to clear the Channel at Pearl Harbor and went on to earn 11 battle stars in WWII before going on to serve Brazil as the Lobster War flagship Almirante Tamandaré for another quarter-century.

Warship Wednesday, May 6, 2020: A Ship that Can’t be Licked

Here at LSOZI, we 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, May 6, 2020: A Ship That Can’t Be Licked

Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1975. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 83213

Here we see the proud new Robert H. Smith-class light minelayer USS Aaron Ward (DM-34), resplendent in fresh Camouflage Measure 32, Design 11a, on 17 November 1944. Less than six months later, she would look vastly different after an engagement that took place some 75 years ago this week.

The dozen RH Smith-class DMs were all laid down in 1943-44 as Allen M. Sumner-class destroyers at three different yards but were converted during their construction into fast, very well armed, minelayers. They retained their strong gun armament to include a half-dozen 5″/38 cal guns in a trio of twin Mk 38 mounts, a full dozen 40mm Bofors, and another dozen 20mm Oerlikon AAA guns. Likewise, they kept their ASW gear to include sonar and listening gear, two stern depth charge racks, and four K-gun projectors.

Where they differed from the rest of the 50+ Sumner-class tin cans was in the respect that they never had their twin 5-tube 21-inch torpedo tubes installed and in their place picked up a series of rails for up to 80 naval mines that ran lengthways down her deck and a modicum of mechanical sweeping gear.

USS Robert H. Smith (DM 23) Overhead c. 1944. Note her three Mk38 5-inch mounts and amidship mine rails along her weatherdeck loaded with mines ready to drop over the fantail. Also note the four K-guns have been relocated to the aft superstructure, another difference from the standard Allen Sumner class destroyers. Bureau of Ships photo via Navsource. http://www.navsource.org/archives/11/0823.htm

The subject of our tale was the third U.S. Navy warship to carry the name of RADM Aaron Ward (USNA 1871). Ward made his mark on naval history during the Spanish–American War, where he was placed in command of the ersatz gunboat USS Wasp, formerly the 202-foot steam yacht Columbia. The hardy little vessel fought at Santiago, enforced the blockade of Cuba, helped send the better-armed Spanish sloop Jorge Juan to the bottom of the ocean, and engaged targets ashore. Ward would retire from the Navy in 1913 as second in command of the Atlantic Fleet and pass away in Brooklyn in 1918.

Ward, shown left in 1898 as a lieutenant on the armed yacht USS Wasp during the Spanish-American War and right as a rear admiral in Special Full-Dress uniform in 1913. NHHC photos NH 98489 and NH 42076.

His name was celebrated on the Wickes-class destroyer USS Aaron Ward (DD-132), which would serve in the U.S. Navy from 1919 to 1940 and then under the White Ensign as HMS Castleton during World War II, transferred as part of the “50 destroyers” deal.

USS Aaron Ward (Destroyer # 132) Off the Bath Iron Works, Bath, Maine, 10 April 1919. NH 57701

The second vessel to carry the name of our hero was the Gleaves-class destroyer USS Aaron Ward (DD-483) which was commissioned 4 March 1942 and lost just 13 months later when she was sunk by Japanese aircraft off Guadalcanal, four battle stars for her WWII service.

USS Aaron Ward (DD-483) approaching USS Wasp (CV-7) on 17 August 1942, during operations in the Solomon Islands area. 80-G-12263

Which brings us to USS Aaron Ward (DM-34).

Laid down as DD-773 on 12 December 1943 at Bethlehem Shipbuilding’s West Coast works at San Pedro, California she was commissioned less than a year later on 28 October 1944 as DM-34.

On 9 February 1945, after workups, she departed San Pedro, bound for Pearl Harbor, then by 16 March joined the Mine Flotilla of the 5th Fleet’s Task Force (TF) 52 at Ulithi. Soon enough, she was bound for the Ryukyu Islands and the big push on Okinawa.

She finished March by downing a confirmed three Japanese aircraft and started April with four days of close-in naval gunfire support for Marines hitting the beach on Okinawa. As the month wore on, she had more brushes with enemy aircraft, downing a Japanese plane on the 27th and another on the 28th. By the end of her (very short) service off Okinawa, her gunners would stencil 18 kyokujitsuki flags on her “scoreboard.”

While replenishing at Kerama Retto, she came to the assistance of the sinking transport USS Pinkney (APH-2) after a kamikaze scored a hit on that auxiliary.

On 30 April, the Aaron Ward turned seaward once again and was installed on one of the series of radar pickets, No. 10, which were to provide critical early warning of inbound Japanese kamikaze waves.

Caption: Fifteen radar picket stations are shown. Stations will be occupied as directed by OTC. Radar pickets steam within a radius of 5000 yds. of the center of the station. The station center of each radar picket is indicated in latitude and longitude, range, and bearing from point BOLO. COMPHIBSPAC OP PLAN Ai-45

While working radar picket station number 10, she helped repulse several air attacks but got a respite from the worst of it due to bad weather. However, on the afternoon of 3 May, the weather cleared.

51 Minutes of Hell

With her radar spotting bogies at 27 miles out, her gunners manned their posts, and soon enough a pair of Japanese planes vectored right for her. At 18:13 hours, a group of 18 to 24 aircraft attacked from under cloud cover. Soon, the Fletcher-class destroyer USS Little (DD-803) was wracked with no less than five kamikazes that struck that tin can. By 19:55 Little broke up and went down.

After all, what destroyer could survive five kamikazes?

As it turned out, Ward was smothered by six that came close enough to do damage over 51 minutes of hell.

Via Destroyer Report- Gunfire, Bomb and Kamikaze Damage Including Losses in Action 17 October 1941 to 15 August 1945

Line drawing of the ship showing areas of damage via NHHC

1- Near miss crash. Engine and propeller hit Mt. 3.
2- ZEKE hit Mt. 44. 2B Bomb blew out side after engine room.
3- Near miss crash damaged rigging and No. 1 stack.
4- VAL hit the main deck, frame 81.
4B- Near miss bomb blew in side forward fireroom.
5- VAL crashed deckhouse, frame 90.
6- Plane hit after stack.
6B- Bomb detonated in after uptakes.

Aaron Ward was hit as shown in the above diagram by six Kamikazes and three large bombs, estimated to have been 250 Kg GP. All spaces between bulkheads 72 and 170 flooded to the waterline except for the forward engine room and certain starboard water tanks. Free surface extended through five major compartments, 1650 tons of water were shipped, and GM was reduced to approximately 1 foot positive. Severe gasoline and ammunition fires were brought under control after about two hours with the assistance of LCS83 alongside. Firemain pressure and power forward remained available throughout due to the use of the forward emergency Diesel generator.

Forty-two sailors died and nearly 100 were injured, a figure that marked nearly half of her crew as casualties.

Why so many hits?

One Navy after-action report on suicide aircraft notes, “When damaged by AA. or harassed by our planes, suiciders selected targets of opportunity. Once hit, a ship was likely to be attacked by other planes seeking to finish it off.”

As noted in USN Bulletin No. 24 Radar Pickets and Methods of Combating Suicide Attacks Off Okinawa, CDR William Henry Sanders, Jr., (USNA 1930), CO USS Aaron Ward, comments:

1. The entire enemy attack appeared to be exceptionally well coordinated by a pilot, or pilots, who understood the limitations of a destroyer’s firepower and took every advantage of smoke and the crippled condition of the ship. In fact, it appeared that the attacks were directed from a control plane which never took part in the assault.

RECENT INFORMATION CONFIRMS THE FACT THAT THE LEADER USUALLY IS EQUIPPED WITH RADAR AND BRINGS HIS GROUP WITHIN VISUAL RANGE. IT IS QUITE POSSIBLE THAT THE MORE EXPERIENCED LEADER COULD ALSO DIRECT AND COORDINATE THE ATTACK. CAP OR SHIP GET THAT LEADER!

The operation was too well-coordinated and executed to have been the individual inspiration of each pilot. Not only did planes come in from different directions at the same time, but on several occasions, the first plane was followed immediately by another approximately 1,000 yards astern of the first. This type of attack was seen to deal the death blow to the U.S.S. Little.

2. It is not understood why the Kamikaze does not strafe the target on the way in, as it appears to be a simple matter to close and lock the firing key to the machine guns. Casualties would have been greater had this been done in the attacks on the Aaron Ward.

3. All planes are believed to have used the bridge and main battery director as a point of aim, but due to the radical maneuvering of the ship and the heavy volume of fire forward, this target was never reached; all planes crashed into the superstructure amidships.

4. Before making his run, each pilot circled the ship at a distance of 5 to 6 miles, apparently seeking the most advantageous position from which to start his dive.

THE CAP HAS DONE A MAGNIFICENT JOB IN THESE OPERATIONS BUT OFTEN TOO FEW PLANES HAVE BEEN AVAILABLE. THE CAP MUST BE LARGE ENOUGH AND CAREFULLY STACKED TO TAKE CARE OF A SITUATION OF THIS TYPE, WHICH OBVIOUSLY WAS NOT THE CASE AT THIS CRITICAL MOMENT.

In each suicide run, planes appeared to take their lead angles at a range of from three to four thousand yards, increasing speed considerably and steadying on the attack course. No attempts at evasion were made on any of the runs after the pilot had finally committed himself.

5. From the results of the bombing, it can be readily determined that the pilots had very little experience in bombing and that the release of bombs may have been accidental, caused by the shock of hits from gunfire of this ship.

Amazingly, Aaron Ward survived the night “against raging fires, exploding ammunition and the flooding of all engineering spaces” and the next day arrived at Kerama Retto under tow from sister ship USS Shannon (DM-25) with no freeboard aft, 18 feet draft forward and a 5-degree starboard list.

USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) In the Kerama Retto anchorage, 5 May 1945, showing damage received when she was hit by several Kamikazes off Okinawa on 3 May. Collection of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, NH 62572

USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) Damage amidships received during Kamikaze attacks off Okinawa on 3 May 1945. The view looks down and aft from Aaron Ward’s foremast, with her greatly distorted forward smokestack in the lower center. Photographed while the ship was in the Kerama Retto on 5 May 1945. A mine is visible at left, on the ship’s starboard mine rails. Catalog #: 80-G-330107

USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) In the Kerama Retto anchorage, 5 May 1945, showing damage received when she was hit by several Japanese suicide planes off Okinawa on 3 May. Note three-bladed aircraft propeller lodged in her superstructure, just forward of the after 5/38 twin gun mount. NH 62571

A closer look at NH 62571, showing the propeller. Note the unexploded depth charges on the deck above, just inches away

One of the kamikazes’ engines was discovered littering the deck (Photo via USS Aaron Ward.com) http://www.ussaaronward.com/History/photo%20tour%20sm%20.htm

Her dead that could be recovered were buried at the U. S. military cemetery at Zamami Shima on Kerma Retto and later moved to Okinawa in 1948. Some 20 souls that were blown overboard during the attack rest in the deep.

From Aaron Ward’s cruise book, via NARA

Aaron Ward remained at Kerama Retto undergoing emergency repairs until 11 June then, against all odds, proceeded under her own power to Navy Yard, Pearl Harbor, using just the starboard shaft.

From there, she continued to New York, arriving in mid-August just as the war was ending.

Her story was celebrated nationwide at the time.

From Aaron Ward’s cruise book, via NARA

Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz sent accolades to the battered but not broken destroyer, saying “Congratulations on your magnificent performance. We all admire a ship that can’t be licked. The combat record of the USS Aaron Ward and her return from battle in a seriously damaged condition reflect an unusual measure of courage and skill in her officers and men.”

Nonetheless, beyond any economical repair with peacetime coming, she was decommissioned 28 September and sold in the summer of 1946 for scrap.

USS Aaron Ward (DM-34) earned a single battle star as well as the Presidential Unit Citation for her brief wartime service. From the time she entered Ulithi atoll to the time she put in at Kerama Retto for a patch job, she spent just 49 days with the fleet. There has not been a fourth “Aaron Ward” on the Navy List.

Her anchor is on display in Elgin, Illinois, where it was installed as a memorial in 1971 by the parents of SN2 Laverne H. Schroeder, USNR, killed on her decks in the 3 May 1945 attack.

Likewise, her story has been covered in several books on the Pacific War including. perhaps most poignantly, in Brave Ship, Brave Men by Arnold S. Lott, an excerpt of which is on the USS Aaron Ward website.

Her only skipper, CDR Sanders, would receive the Navy Cross for the actions of 3 May 1945 and retire as a rear admiral in 1959 after commanding the destroyer tender USS Dixie in the Korean War. He passed in 1992 at the age of 85 and was warmly remembered as a community leader.

For more information on Aaron Ward‘s kamikaze experience, her skipper’s full 60-page after-action report is online at NARA as is her 49-page War History.

The luckiest unlucky class

Of Aaron Ward‘s 11 sister minelayers, at least five would also prove exceptionally hard to kill in the face of the Divine Wind.

  • USS Gwin (DM-33) was swarmed by six Japanese suicide planes the day after Aaron Ward was attacked. She downed five but the final plane embedded itself into Gwin’s aft gun platform, causing 15 casualties.
  • The same day that Gwin was hit, USS Shea (DM-30) was slammed by an MXY-7 Ohka (cherry blossom) human-piloted rocket bomb while on radar picket duty. She suffered 35 dead but was able to make it to the U.S. under her own power for repairs.
  • In June, USS Harry F. Bauer (DM-26) would suffer a kamikaze attack that hit her boat deck and somehow did not trigger the depth charges stored there. In a further stroke of luck, a 550-pound bomb that the doomed Japanese plane had pickled just before it hit the ship remained intact and armed for 17 days before it was removed.
  • USS J. William Ditter (DM 31) was attacked by a large group of kamikazes off Okinawa on 6 June 1945 and extensively damaged when two made it through. Patched up enough to steam home, she, like Ward, was left unrepaired and sold for scrap in 1946.

View of the Kamikaze-damage suffered by the U.S. Navy destroyer-minelayer USS J. William Ditter (DM-31). She was hit by two Kamikazes off Buckner Bay, 6 June 1945. The first did little damage, but the second hit on the port side just below the main deck blowing open the forward engine room and after fireroom. The explosion of the kamikaze’s bomb devastated both spaces, as can be seen in this photograph taken ten days later. NARA photo

  • Another sister, USS Lindsey (DM-32), was hit by two Aichi D3A Vals on 12 April 1945, killing 57 sailors and wounding 57 more. The explosion from the second Val sheered the front 60 feet off her bow and a quick “all back full” by her skipper avoided catastrophic flooding. Given a temporary bow, like Ward and Ditter she sailed back to the states under her own steam. Decommissioned in 1946 after repairs, she was stricken in 1970 and sunk as a target two years later.

USS Lindsey (DM-32) View of extensive damage to the ship’s forward hull and superstructure, received when she was struck by two Kamikaze planes off Okinawa on 12 April 1945. The photograph was taken at Kerama Retto anchorage on 14 April. NARA photo 80-G-330108

And of course, the famous destroyer USS Laffey (DD-724), which earned the nickname “The Ship That Would Not Die” after surviving six kamikaze attacks and four bomb hits on 16 April 1945 while off Okinawa, was an Allen M. Sumner-class destroyer, which the Smith-class DMs were conversions of.

In short, radar picket duty off Okinawa in 1945 was hazardous to your health, to say the least.

Postscript

Once the war was over, the remaining ships of the class would endure for a while, with five seeing service during the Korean War period, after which they were reclassified as fast minelayers (MMD).

1946-47 Jane’s entry on the surviving members of the class.

By the 1970s, most were sold for scrap except for the kamikaze-surviving Gwin which was transferred to Turkey.

Serving Istanbul as TCG Muavenet (DM-357) for another two decades, she would sadly take a pair of NATO Sea Sparrow missiles to the bridge during a live-fire exercise that went wrong in 1991, causing 24 casualties.

TCG Muavenet (DM-357), ex-USS Gwin (DM-33), in Turkish service.

She was left ablaze after the incident.

Although heavily damaged, Muavenet, true to her class’s reputation, survived and returned to port under her own steam, and was later disposed of.

The last of the dozen Robert H. Smith-class converted destroyers afloat, USS Tolman (DD-740/DM-28/MMD-28) was expended in an exercise on 25 January 1997. A high-powered explosive test charge was installed in her hull and she was sunk in 12,000 feet of deepwater about 61 miles off Mare Island. Appropriately, she had been stripped of much vintage gear for use in the museum destroyer USS Kidd.

Specs:

A nice profile shot of Aaron Ward sistership USS HARRY F. BAUER (DM-26) Underway in Hampton Roads, Virginia, on 11 August 1952. Note, she was fitted with a tripod mast in the early 1950s in place of her original, as were most of her sisters that were still active at the time. NH 91909

Displacement: 2,200 tons
Length: 376’6″
Beam: 40’10”
Draft: 18’10”
Propulsion: Four Babcock and Wilcox boilers, two 60,000shp General Electric geared turbines, two shafts.
Speed: 34.2 knots
Complement: 363
Armament:
6 x 5″/38 3×2 Mk38 mounts
12 x 40mm/60 Bofors in six twin mounts
12 x 20mm/70 singles
2 x .50 cal machine guns
2 Depth Charge rails over the fantail
4 K-guns astern
Up to 80 mines (some sources say 100)

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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.