Tag Archive | mine warfare

WWII mines and trawlers don’t mix

French mine clearance divers ensure the proper neutralization of the mine. Photo: Préfecture de la Manche

Off the coast of Normandy last week the French trawler Le Retour hauled in a heck of a full net, to include one Monika-type Luftmine B (G-mine), formerly of German ownership.

UXOs are a common thing along the shores of Europe.

The big minenbombe had an explosive charge somewhere on the order of 860 kilos, which would have wrecked Le Retour for sure ala the spy trawler Saint Georges in the 1980s Bond classic, For Your Eyes Only.

Gratefully, French Navy clearance divers were able to render the big easter egg inert with no casualties.

More here.

Navy tests out a modern Bachstelze

Over the past few years DARPA has been working on their version of the old U-Boat kite.

ICYMI, during WWII, the Kriegsmarine’s U-boat fleet used about 200~ Focke-Achgelis FA 330 Bachstelze (English: Wagtail) aircraft. The FA330 was a type of rotary-wing kite that weighed about 150-pounds and, using an unpowered 24-foot three-bladed rotor for lift, was winched out into the air behind a U-boat on a 500-foot cable, allowing the adventuresome sailor in its single seat to have the best view on the boote.

A simple idea, they were complicated in use as they took a long time (20-30 minutes to assemble) and, if the kiteman saw an enemy warship, slowed the dive of the submarine far too long than was safe.

Well, the ONR and DARPA have teamed up to do the same thing but in an updated (and unmanned) version that swaps out the rotating kite wing for a much safer parafoil.

Observe the Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) below, a low-cost, elevated sensor mast being tested out on USS Zephyr, a 179-foot Cyclone-class patrol coastal. It is the first time it was used aboard a U.S. Navy vessel,  after being trialed on Sea Hunter, DARPA’s ACTUV vessel last year.

“Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could persistently carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.”

Sea Hunter takes her TALON out to play

We’ve talked about DARPA’s 132-foot USV robot subchaser, the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV), dubbed Sea Hunter, a few times already this year.

The ship’s projected $20 million all-up price tag and its $15,000 to $20,000 daily operating cost make it relatively inexpensive to operate. For comparison, a single Littoral Combat Ship runs $432 million (at least LCS-6 did) to build and run about $220K a day to operate– but of course that is a moving target.

We’ve also talked about their Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) U-boat kite program which is a low-cost, fully automated parafoil system designed to extend maritime vessels’ long-distance communications and improve their domain awareness.

Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could carry intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude—many times higher than current ships’ masts—and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness.

So it makes sense that now video has emerged from DARPA of Sea Hunter taking its para-sail for a drag.

Now if they Navy can just cough up 50-100 of these, with ASW weapons and an automated C-RAM to avoid being splashed by enemy aircraft wholesale, and keep it from running $30 billion– then you have a real sea control ship when it comes to denying an area to the bad guy’s subs.

Warship Wednesday Sept. 28, 2016: From the Lingayen to the FloraBama

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

Warship Wednesday Sept. 28, 2016: From the Lingayen to the FloraBama

NHHC Collection photo # UA 22.02.01

NHHC Collection photo # UA 22.02.01

Here we see the Catskill-class vehicle landing ship (or Terror-class fleet minelayer depending on how you look at it) USS Ozark (CM-7/AP-107/LSV–2/MCS-2) showing off her stern and high helicopter deck with hanger clearance in 1966.

The Navy in its entire history has only had 12 vessels that carried a Cruiser-Minelayer (CM) designation. These started with the old retyped cruisers USS Baltimore and San Francisco (reclassified in 1919), the converted passenger freighters USS Aroostook (CM-3) and USS Oglala (CM-4) who helped sow the North Sea Barrage; the purpose-built fleet minelayer USS Terror (CM-5) commissioned in 1942; and five other WWII-era freighters and passenger ferries converted to the designation around the same time (USS Keokuk, USS Monadnock, USS Miantonomah, USS Salem, and USS Weehawken).

The two I missed? Well that’s USS Catskill and her sister USS Ozark, which were very simple updates to the Terror design.

Terror, Catskill, and Ozark had all been names of Civil War monitors that were recycled.

USS Ozark Photographed on the Western Rivers in 1864-65. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

USS Ozark on the Red River in 1864. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

The class of 454-foot long/6,000-ton minelayers were fast enough to keep ahead of submarines (20 knots), sufficiently armed enough (4x 5-inchers and a healthy AAA suite) to not need an escort, and room enough for several hundred of the latest sea mines.

Terror was completed 15 July 1942 and rushed into fleet service in her intended role. However, it turned out that purpose-built minelayers were a waste of resources when other ships could be converted and both Catskill and Ozark were modified while still at the builders from their original roles.

Ozark was authorized by Congress on 19 July 1940 as a Fleet Minelayer, CM-7, and laid down at Willamette Iron and Steel Corporation, Portland, Oregon. Her designation was subsequently changed to a Troop Transport (AP-107) in June 1943 and finally to a Landing Ship, Vehicle (LSV-2, with Catskill being LSV-1) before her commissioning 23 September 1944.

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Now swelled to some 9,000-tons full load, she was designed to transport a reinforced battalion-sized unit of 80 officers and 788 troops and land them using 31 Army DUKWs from her large vehicle (former mine stowage) deck and  a number of LCVPs and 26-foot motor launches.

You know the 31-foot DUK, right? Now that's amphibious!

You know the 31-foot DUK, right? Now that’s amphibious!

By November 1944, Ozark was part of Transport Squadron Thirteen warming up in the Solomons for the big push on Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, Philippine Islands.

When the landing started, she was baptized.

From DANFS:

The 7 January 1945 marked the first day in the lives of many aboard the Ozark for experiencing visual contact with the enemy. About 1706 that day an enemy aircraft flew at masthead height across the formation pursued by four U.S. Navy fighters, and was shot down seconds later. Much tension was relieved by witnessing that sight. The next day, the 8th of January 1945, proved to be more exciting. About mid-morning a twin-engine Japanese bomber flew out of the sun over the formation and narrowly missed hitting the ship next ahead with its bombs. About dusk the same day Japanese bombers and suicide planes attacked the formation from all points. Several dive bombers were shot down by the Combat Air Patrol. One suicide plane singled out Transport Squadron Thirteen in particular. He circled out of range of the automatic weapons to the port quarter of the formation. Then he started his death plunge. All guns on the port side of the Ozark opened fire. The Kamikaze was headed for the ship on our port beam. Tension mounted. The amount of flak being put up was uncanny, but still the plane headed for its target apparently unaffected. The Ozark’s 40MM and 5″/38 cal. Were nippin at the tail of the plane all the way in its downward plunge. The climax came when a burst at the tail rocked the plane in its path of flight and sent it to a firey end a few feet from the stern of the vessel it had intended to crash.

The next day, 9 January 1945, the formation approached Lingayen Gulf for the assault. The area was frequented by enemy aircraft, suiciding combatant and transport vessels, in a vain attempt to halt the operation. The Ozark landed her personnel and equipment according to plan. Casualties and survivors from damaged and sunken ships were taken aboard and the Ozark left Lingayen Gulf that night with Transport Squadron Thirteen for Leyte Gulf, Philippine Islands.

Then came the invasion of Iwo Jima (Ozark landed three waves of troops there 19 February 1945 and continued logistic support to the beach until 27 February), the Okinawa operation (landing her men on April 1), and more of the same. In mid-August, she took aboard 911 Marines and Sailors from some two dozen ships via breeches buoy in the mid-ocean (!) to be used in upcoming garrison operations in Japan.

She finished the war present in Tokyo Bay during the Surrender Ceremony, 2 September 1945, having landed her troops and received some 970 recovered prisoners-of-war.

Ozark left for Guam and Pearl Harbor directly to take her recovered heroes, many suffering horribly and in need of desperate medical attention, home.

60 busses and ambulances await the arrival of the first 970 POWs returning to the U.S. from Japan aboard USS Ozark, Agana Guarm 13 Sept. 1945

60 buses and ambulances await the arrival of the first 970 POWs returning to the U.S. from Japan aboard USS Ozark, Agana, Guam 13 Sept. 1945

Ozark earned three WWII battle stars in less than 10 months deployed to the war zone.

After the war the remaining minelayers (Miantonomah was sunk by a mine off the coast of France in 1944), were decommissioned and disposed of with only purpose-built Terror, Catskill and Ozark retained– and then only in mothballs.

Ozark was on red lead row in Texas from 29 June 1946 and was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 1 September 1961. However, in a rarity, she was reacquired from the Maritime Administration in 1963 for conversion to a mine countermeasures support ship (MCS) — or mother ship to small minesweeping craft and RH-3A helicopters.

Recommissioned 24 June 1966 with the old monitor USS Ozark ship’s bell, the revamped ship was different. Gone were the DUKWs and the WWII batteries of 20mm and 40mm guns. In their place were added the capability to carry up to 20 36-foot Mine Sweep Launches MSL’s, two minesweeping equipment-carrying LCM’s, and two big Sea King minesweeping helicopters.

The 36 ft MSL, Ozark/Catskill's primary weapon against mines in the 1960s. Each ship could carry 20 of these little wooden vessels

The 36 ft MSL, Ozark/Catskill’s primary weapon against mines in the 1960s. Each ship could carry 20 of these little wooden vessels

Each MSL could carry their own paravanes and sweep gear as shown in this 1953 National Geographic shot of a Korean War-era MSB

Each MSL could carry their own paravanes and sweep gear as shown in this 1953 National Geographic shot of a Korean War-era MSB

USS OZARK (MCS-2) Underway off Norfolk, Virginia, on 31 August 1966. Along minesweeping launches embarked are: MSL-33, 31, 40, 48, 47, and 42. Catalog #: USN 1117513, Copyright Owner: National Archives

USS OZARK (MCS-2) Underway off Norfolk, Virginia, on 31 August 1966. Along minesweeping launches embarked are: MSL-33, 31, 40, 48, 47, and 42. Catalog #: USN 1117513, Copyright Owner: National Archives

Sister USS Catskill as similarly converted MCS-1 with MSL’s and one HC-7 R-3D Helicopter aboard

Sister USS Catskill as similarly converted MCS-1 with MSL’s and one HC-7 RH-3 Helicopter aboard

An RH-3A mine busting Sea King at play. Note the sweep gear. Catskill and Ozark could carry two of these aircraft while the other former LSDs converted to MCS configuration could carry as many as four

An RH-3A mine busting Sea King at play. Note the sweep gear. Catskill and Ozark could carry two of these aircraft while the other former LSDs converted to MCS configuration could carry as many as four

As noted by Ed Sinclair, the ships were a sight:

In Long Beach, sailors nicknamed the Catskill “The Mail Ship”. She evidently had so many steadying lines for the MSL’s housed in their davits, which were rolled up and stored in white canvas bags while underway, sailors thought she looked like she was carrying the US Mail.

After recommissioning and shakedown, Catskill became MineFlot1 Flagship and Mine Countermeasures Support vessel for COMinRon 3 vessels homeported in Sasebo, Japan. She deployed to Vietnam 1969-70.

Five other WWII landing ships, the USS Osage (LSV-3), USS Saugus (LSV-4), USS Monitor (LSV-5), USS Orleans Parish (LST-1069), and USS Epping Forest (LSD-4), were given similar conversions to mine countermeasures support ships and designated MCS-3 through MCS-7 respectively.

The thing is, with Vietnam drawing down and mines being seen at the time as a dated weapon not to be used again, the Navy seemingly moved to do away with all things mine related. The grand old USS Terror, decommissioned since 1956 and still comparatively low-milegae, was sold for scrap in November 1971 to the Union Minerals and Alloys Corp. of New York, NY.

Catskill was decommissioned December 1970 and, though she received three battle stars for World War II service and five campaign stars for Vietnam, was quickly disposed of.

Ozark was based in Charleston and spent a quiet seven years on a series of cruises to the Med and South Atlantic.

In 1969, she was part of Task Force 140 that plucked Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin, and Michael Collins from the drink in the Atlantic after their moon landing. She had previously been used to help recover Apollo 10.

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The U.S. Navy mine countermeasures support ship USS Ozark (MCS-2) with an Sikorsky RH-3A Sea King helicopter aft, and her crew manning the rails in summer whites, circa 1968-1970. Source: U.S. Navy Naval Aviation News March 1982

Decommissioned and struck from the Naval Register, 1 April 1974, Ozark was towed to Destin, Florida the next year and anchored there to be used as a target by the Air Force from nearby Eglin and Tyndal.

The other converted landing ship MCS’s 3-7 would all be stricken and disposed of by 1974.

The plucky little MSL’s were sold from the boat lot mole pier in Long Beach, CA in April 1975.

The MCS designation would lie dormant in the Navy until the old helicopter assault ship USS Inchon (LPH-12) would be converted to MCS-12 in 1995 and would be retired in 2004. Today the former landing ship ex-USS Ponce serves much the same role as a laser-equipped floating MCS in all but name in the Persian Gulf.

As for Ozark, she had a few more tricks up her sleeve.

When Hurricane Frederic came barreling into the Gulf of Mexico in September 1979, the old minelayer/LSV, last of either type still in the Navy’s possession, drug her mooring and took to the sea once more, washing up some 30 miles to the East near the Florida-Alabama state line at Perdido Key close to where the current FloraBama bar is located.

10170212 ozark-perdido-key

She was salvaged by Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 2 (MDSU-2) in October.

ex-USS Ozark aground on Perdido Key, Florida.

ex-USS Ozark aground on Perdido Key, Florida. Note the Army Sikorsky CH-54 Tarhe flying crane lifting gear

Taken back to Destin against her will, she was lost in 1981 during a live fire event.

Per Mike Green at Navsource:

The ship was unintentionally sunk with a Maverick missile launched from an F-4 “Phantom” from Eglin AFB in 1981. The missile’s warhead entered on her starboard side approximately 13 feet above the waterline, went through 2 decks and exploded above the hull leaving a hole approximately 3 feet in diameter in her hull. The hole in the bottom of the ship wasn’t noticed until the next day when Air Force personnel and Hughes Missile Systems Co. engineers entered the ship for damage assessment. By this time, she was listing at 16 degrees and all personnel were ordered off the ship.

This photo shows Ozark listing at 16 degrees to starboard 12 hours before she sank. Wikemedia Commons, Gordon Starr, photographer,

This photo shows Ozark listing at 16 degrees to starboard 12 hours before she sank. Wikemedia Commons, Gordon Starr, photographer

Today the wreck currently lies upright and intact in approximately 330 feet of water,  about 30 miles due south of Destin. She is a popular wreck for experienced technical divers.

ozark-wreck

The Navy has not reused the names Terror, Catskill, or Ozark since the class of minelayers.

Ozark‘s name, as well as all those involved in mine warfare, is kept alive by the Naval Minewarfare Association and Association of Minemen.

For a good in-depth look at these LSVs and small minesweeping craft, check out Ed Sinclair’s archived “Iron Men In Wooden Boats” over at Navsource here (pdf) and for more information about the Terror there is a 62-page album online with snapshots and stories as well as a dedicated website of her own including this great piece of maritime art:

High level bombing attack on USS Terror in Oceania: a true incident related by ship's personnel, by LR Lloyd

“High level bombing attack on USS Terror in Oceania: a true incident related by ship’s personnel,” by LR Lloyd

Specs:
Displacement: 5,875 long tons (5,969 t), 9,000 tons FL
Length:     454 ft. 10 in (138.63 m)
Beam:     60 ft. 2 in (18.34 m)
Draft:     19 ft. 7 in (5.97 m)
Propulsion:     2 × General Electric double-reduction geared steam turbines, 2 shafts, 22,000 shp (16,405 kW)
four turbo-drive 500Kw 450V A.C. Ship’s Service Generators
four Combustion Engineering D-type boilers, 400psi 700°
Speed:     20.3 knots (37.6 km/h; 23.4 mph)
Complement: 481 as commissioned along with space for 850+ embarked troops
Boats:
LSV Configuration – 31 DUKWS plus LCVPs
MCS Configuration – 20 36′ MSLs plus 2 LCMs
Aircraft two helicopters (MCS Configuration)
Armament:     (designed as CM)
4 × 5″/38 caliber guns
4 × quad 1.1 in (28 mm) guns
14 × 20 mm guns singles
(LSV Configuration)
4 single 5″/38 cal DP gun mounts
4 twin 40mm AA gun mounts
20 single 20mm AA gun mounts
(MCS)
two single 5″/38 cal DP gun mounts

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Warship Wednesday March 30, 2016: Of Mines and Khartoum

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

Warship Wednesday, March 30, 2016: Of Mines and Khartoum

IWM Q 38999

IWM Q 38999

Here we see the Royal Navy Devonshire-class armored cruiser HMS Hampshire during her brief life. Although a warship in the RN during the toughest period of the Great War at sea, Hampshire is remembered more for whom she carried rather than where she fought.

The Devonshires were a six-pack of mixed armament (4×7.5-inch; 6×6-inch) cruisers that were popular around the 1900s. These 11,000-ton ships were designed to act independent of the main battle fleet and could cruise worldwide and protect sea-lanes from enemy surface raiders, or in turn become a surface raider themselves.

The concept was invalidated in the Russo-Japanese War when Russian armored cruisers failed to make much impact on the extensive Japanese maru fleet, while they were sent to the bottom wholesale in warship v. warship ops. In turn, the armored cruiser concept was replaced by the more traditional all-big-gun fast heavy cruiser, and their flawed cousin the battlecruiser, both of which reigned for some time through WWII.

Still, the Devonshires, though obsolete almost as soon as they were commissioned, gave yeoman service while they were around.

The subject of our tale, Hampshire, was laid down at Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, England, 1 September 1902. She was the fourth such warship to carry that name on the fleet list, dating back to a 46-gun ship built in 1653 for Cromwell’s Commonwealth.

Ironically, Hampshire was completed 15 July 1905, just six weeks after the Battle of Tsushima that largely invalidated her existence. Her cost, £833,817.

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After cutting her teeth with the 1st Cruiser Squadron of the Channel Fleet for a few years as a shiny new warship for HM, Hampshire had her hull scraped and boilers reworked before being transferred to Hong Kong to sit the China Station in 1912.

1912

1912, note the awnings for service in the tropics.
See https://deceptico.deviantart.com/art/H-M-S-Hampshire-1912-372335568

There, she waved the flag while keeping an eye on the German armored cruisers of Adm. Maximilian von Spee’s East Asia Squadron, preparing for Der Tag.

IWM Q 38999

IWM Q 38999

When the balloon went up, Hampshire sortied for the German colony of Yap to destroy the wireless station there, on the way sinking the German collier SS Elspeth just seven days after the England joined the war. The lack of coal for Spee’s ships would be an albatross that ultimately ended his squadron. (Note: Hampshire’s sister, HMS Carnarvon, was present at the Battle of the Falklands and got licks in on both Spee’s SMS Gneisenau and Scharnhorst).

While in the Pacific, Hampshire just barely missed an opportunity to sink the much smaller cruiser SMS Emden (4200-tons; 10x105mm guns), however, she did carry that stricken raider’s skipper, Kvtkpn. Karl von Müller, to POW camp in England, while escorting an ANZAC troop convoy through the Indian Ocean and the Red Sea to Egypt.

At Malta

At Malta

Arriving back in home waters in January 1915, Hampshire landed Müller, who was sent on to captivity at the University of Nottingham, then joined the Grand Fleet.

Fighting at Jutland with the 2nd Cruiser Squadron, her 7.5-inchers tried but failed to hit any German ships during that epic surface battle. Likewise, Hampshire herself came away unscathed.

Hms_Hampshire1_krp_net

In July, she was chosen to carry Field Marshal Horatio Herbert Kitchener, 1st Earl Kitchener KG, KP, GCB, OM, GCSI, GCMG, GCIE, PC, “Baron Kitchener of Khartoum” to Imperial Russia via the White Sea. Kitchener and his staff were to help revitalize the Tsar’s war machine; after all, he was literally the face of the mighty BEF, which had swollen from a small volunteer force of just six infantry divisions to a modern army capable of holding the Kaiser in place on the Western Front.

Kitchener poster LORD KITCHENER SAYS

Lord Kitchener on board HMS Iron Duke at Scapa Flow, about one hour before he sailed on Hampshire

Lord Kitchener aboard HMS Iron Duke at Scapa Flow, about one hour before he sailed on Hampshire. This is believed to be the last image of the legendary soldier.

Leaving Scapa Flow for Archangelsk, Hampshire and her two destroyer escorts ran afoul of a minefield laid by U-75 in May.

There, on 5 June off the mainland of Orkney between Brough of Birsay and Marwick Head, Hampshire struck a single mine and was holed, sinking rapidly in just 15 minutes by the bow, taking 737 members of her crew and passengers to the bottom with her. Only 12 crewmen survived and made it to shore.

Able Seaman (Signalman) William George Waterman Tyneside Z/4464. Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, one of the 737 men lost on HMS Hampshire. IWM image

Able Seaman (Signalman) William George Waterman Tyneside Z/4464. Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, one of the 737 men lost on HMS Hampshire. IWM image

One other purported survivor, Boer spy Frederick “Fritz” Joubert Duquesne, known to history as “The man who killed Kitchener” claimed to have guided a German U-boat to sink the HMS Hampshire via torpedo from shore, though nothing supports that claim.

Duquesne

Duquesne

Attaching himself to Kitchener’s staff, he claimed to have escaped Hampshire alone to be picked up by a waiting U-boat. But anyway…

The news of Kitchener’s loss, coming after the carnage of the Somme, was a blow to the Allied war effort.

_71879567_low_res_10527504_mary_evans

The Wreck of the Hampshire by Geoffrey Stephen Allfree, IWM ART 5252

The Wreck of the Hampshire by Geoffrey Stephen Allfree, IWM ART 5252

Further, without a shot in the arm, the Tsar’s army largely walked away from the war the next year, though not even the hero of Khartoum would likely have changed that.

Remnants of Hampshire are considered relics in the IWM collection.

Fragment of boat belonging to HMS HAMPSHIRE in IWM collection

Fragment of boat belonging to HMS HAMPSHIRE in IWM collection

Royal Navy cap tally found among the effects of Midshipman E E Fellowes. Image via IWM

Royal Navy cap tally found among the effects of Midshipman E E Fellowes. Image via IWM

Fragment of a pinnace, or ship's boat, from the wreckage of the armoured cruiser HMS Hampshire, washed up in Hoy Sound, June 1916. Image via IWM

Fragment of a pinnace, or ship’s boat, from the wreckage of the armored cruiser HMS Hampshire, washed up in Hoy Sound, June 1916. Image via IWM

Located in 180 feet of water, a small gun, some other minor wreckage, and one of her props were illegally salvaged in 1983 but have been recovered and preserved in museums.

HMS Hampshire gun at Marwick Head

HMS Hampshire gun at Marwick Head

hampshire prop

As for her sisters, the five other Devonshires were luckier, with the exception of HMS Argyll, which wrecked on the Bell Rock, 28 October 1915. The four surviving ships were paid off soon after the war and sold for scrap.

Hampshire‘s name, though currently not in use, was bestowed to a County-class guided missile destroyer (D06) in 1963 and scrapped in 1979 after just 16 years service as part of the Labour Government’s severe defense cuts pre-Thatcher.

A memorial, planned by the Orkney Heritage Society is trying to raise £200,000 to more extensively commemorate the ship.

Image via Orkney Heritage Society

Image via Orkney Heritage Society

Some 737 names will be inscribed in panels on the wall, which will arc around the tower, with a separate panel for the staff of Lord Kitchener – and another one bearing the names of nine men killed on the drifter Laurel Crown, which was blown up in June 1916 while trying to clear the minefield.

Specs:

BR hampshire 1
Displacement: 10,850 long tons (11,020 t) (normal)
Length: 473 ft. 6 in (144.3 m) (o/a)
Beam: 68 ft. 6 in (20.9 m)
Draught: 24 ft. (7.3 m)
Installed power:
21,000 ihp (16,000 kW)
17 Yarrow boilers; 6 cylindrical boilers
Propulsion:
2 × Shafts
2 × 4-cylinder triple-expansion steam engines
Speed: 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph)
Complement: 610
Armament:
4 × single BL 7.5-inch (191 mm) Mk I guns
6 × single BL 6-inch (152 mm) Mk VII guns
2 × single 12-pounder (3-inch, 76 mm) 8 cwt guns
18 × single QF 3-pounder (47 mm) Hotchkiss guns
2 × single 18-inch (45 cm) torpedo tubes
Armour:
Belt: 2–6 in (51–152 mm)
Decks: .75–2 in (19–51 mm)
Barbettes: 6 in (152 mm)
Turrets: 5 in (130 mm)
Conning tower: 12 in (305 mm)
Bulkheads: 5 in (127 mm)

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.

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

PRINT still has its place. If you LOVE warships you should belong.

I’m a member, so should you be!

Congress not impressed with LCS mine hunting program

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert tours the Lockheed Martin undersea systems facilities in Riviera Beach. While there, Greenert viewed a littoral combat ship remote minehunting system test module and underwater autonomous vehicles. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Peter D. Lawlor

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert tours the Lockheed Martin undersea systems facilities in Riviera Beach. While there, Greenert viewed a littoral combat ship remote minehunting system test module and underwater autonomous vehicles. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Petty Officer Peter D. Lawlor

The Littoral Combat Ship is a sausage program that was envisioned to replace the Navy’s diverse minehunters/sweepers, frigates and patrol craft with 50+ ships on a single hull that could do it all (after all, any ship can be a minesweeper once, right?) through a series of plug-and-play modules.

Remote Minehunting System (RMS) to be used on the LCS, in theory

Remote Minehunting System (RMS) to be used on the LCS, in theory

Well what we have almost 20 years into the program are two hulls (Freedom and Independence classes) that can do some of the same tasks as the frigates and patrol craft (except for ASuW or ASW against a modern opponent), but there’s a thing about that $706 million mine module program…

From USNI

At issue are recent reports on the reliability of a core component in the MCM package, the Remote Minehunting System (RMS) — comprised of the Raytheon AQS-20A towed array sonar and the Lockheed Martin remote multi-mission vehicle (RMMV).

The 7.25-ton semi-submersible RMMV — designed to deploy from the LCS and autonomously scout mines with the AQS-20A — in particular has had a history of persistent reliability problems.

SASC Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and ranking member Sen. Jack Reed (D-R.I.) cite an early August memo signed by director of the Office of Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) Michael Gilmore that “assessed the current Remote Mine Hunting System and RMMV reliability as being 18.8 hours and 25.0 hours between mission failures… which is well below the Navy’s requirement of 75 hours” and that the Navy provided “no statistical evidence that the [system] is demonstrating improved reliability, and instead indicates that reliability plateaued nearly a decade ago.”

Worse, the Navy put their low-mileage Osprey-class coastal minehunter (with some hulls just being eight years old) on the chopping block back in 2007 (Taiwan, Egypt and Greece picked them up lighting fast) and is planning on retiring the Avenger-class mine sweepers and vaunted MH-53 Sea Dragon MCM helos in just a few years, making the LCS/MCM program “it” for U.S. Navy mine sweeping.

Doh

 

Remote Mine Sweeper Robot for LCS

From Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs (http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=64430)

WASHINGTON (NNS) — The remote minehunting system (RMS), a critical component of the mine countermeasures mission package for the littoral combat ship class, completed the first phase of reliability testing Nov. 22, at the Lockheed Martin facilities off the coast of Palm Beach, Fla.

The RMS is a combination of the remote multi-mission vehicle (RMMV), coupled with the towed AN/AQS-20A mine-hunting sonar system.

The RMS, which will provide an off-board mine reconnaissance capability, successfully completed more than 500 hours of offshore, in-water testing, including line-of-sight and over-the-horizon communications checks and full exercise of vehicle control, mobility, maneuvering, and sonar towing capability. Completed six-weeks early, the tests validated reliability and maintainability improvements made to the baseline vehicle.

“Initial analysis of the data indicates that we have met or surpassed all testing and program objectives and we obtained the required data needed to proceed to the next phase,” said Steve Lose, program manager for the Remote Minehunting System program.

The RMS is designed to conduct rapid reconnaissance of bottom and moored mines from the deep-water region to the very shallow water region. The RMS will aid in the determination of the presence of mines and help identify safe routes or operating areas around potential minefields.

The RMS is a combination of the remote multi-mission vehicle (RMMV), coupled with the towed AN/AQS-20A mine-hunting sonar system. The RMMV is an unmanned, autonomous, semi-submersible, high endurance, low-visibility system that will be operated and maintained from the LCS. The vehicle has self-contained control, propulsion, power, and navigation. The AN/AQS-20A sonar system is designed to detect, classify, and localize mine-like contacts and identify bottom mines.

The program will now begin preparing for the next phase of reliability testing, scheduled to commence in third-quarter of fiscal year 2012. RMS will also be an integral part of ongoing LCS mine countermeasures mission package developmental testing scheduled for first-quarter of fiscal year 2012.

PEO LCS, an affiliated Program Executive Office of Naval Sea Systems Command, provides a single Program Executive responsible for acquiring and sustaining mission capabilities of the littoral combat ship class, beginning with procurement, and ending with fleet employment and sustainment. The combined capability of LCS and LCS mission systems is designed to dominate the littoral battle space and provide U.S. forces with assured access to coastal areas.

For more information, visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy, or www.twitter.com/usnavy.

For more news from Naval Sea Systems Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navsea/.

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