Tag Archive | Peru cruiser

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017 Farewell, Admiral

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 their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Oct. 4, 2017, Farewell, Admiral

Note the WWII-style Carley rafts on the turrets

Here we see the De Zeven Provinciën-class light cruiser Hr.Ms. De Ruyter (C801) of the Dutch Koninklijke Marine as she appeared in 1953 while in her prime. Decommissioned last week an amazing 78 years after her first steel was cut, she was the last of the big-gun armed cruisers afloat on active duty.

The classes of ship between destroyers and battleships, fast gun-armed cruisers have long been a staple of naval modern warfare since all-steel navies took to the sea. However, their large batteries of powerful guns were antiquated by the second half of the 20th century.

Fast armored cruisers, a product of the late 19th century, were designed to serve as the eyes of the main battle fleet. Large enough to act independently, they sailed the world and showed their country’s flag in far-off ports in peace. During war, they were detailed to raid commerce and serve as fleet units. Over a 60-year period, more than 200 cruisers were placed in service and sailed in almost every fleet in the world. Fast enough to outrun battleships but not outfight them, they soon were obsolete after World War II and their days were numbered.

But the hero of our tale has a pass, as she was planned before the WWII started.

HNLMS De Ruyter was laid down 5 September 1939 at Wilton-Fijenoord, Schiedam, just 96-hours after Hitler invaded Poland. Part of the planned Eendracht-class of light cruisers which were to defend the far-flung Dutch East Indies from the Japanese, her original name was to be De Zeven Provinciën while her sister, laid down at the same time in a different yard, would be Eendracht.

The ships were to mount 10 5.9-inch Bofors but these guns were still in Sweden when the Germans rolled in in 1940 which led to their being confiscated by the Swedes and promptly recycled into their new Tre Kronor-class cruisers, stretched to accommodate the Swedish standard 6-inch shell.

Though the Germans tried to complete the two cruisers for use in their own Kriegsmarine, Dutch resistance hindered that effort and by the end of the war, they were still nowhere near complete.

After languishing in the builder’s yard for 14 years, De Zeven Provinciën was finished as De Ruyter and joined the Dutch Navy on 18 November 1953.

The name is an ode to the famous 17th-century Dutch Admiral Michiel Adriaenszoon de Ruyter, for which no less than five prior Dutch warships had been named since 1799. The most recent of which was used by Rear-Admiral Karel Doorman in his ride to Valhalla during the Battle of the Java Sea in 1942.

Dutch propaganda poster, depicting Admiral Karel Doorman and his 1942 flagship light cruiser De Ruyter

Though considered light cruisers because of their armament of eight redesigned 15.2 cm/53 (6″) Model 1942 guns, these craft went well over 12,000-tons when full. The turrets, conning tower, and main engineering spaces were armored with up to five inches of steel plate, among the last non-carriers completed in the world to carry such protection. Designed originally for Parsons geared steam turbines and a half-dozen Yarrow boilers, they were instead completed with De Schelde-Parsons turbines and four Werkspoor-Yarrow boilers giving them a 32-knot speed and 7,000nm range.

Already cramped due to extensive AC-cycle electronics suites they were never planned to have (the 1939 design was DC), and built with the resulting need for a 900-man crew rather than the planned 700 souls in 1939, they never received their large AAA battery, seaplane catapults, and torpedo tubes, relying instead on a secondary armament of eight radar-controlled 57mm/60cal Bofors in four twin mounts.

De Ruyter‘s sistership Eendracht was instead completed as De Zeven Provinciën and they commissioned within weeks of each other just after the Korean War came to a shaky ceasefire.

The two ships served extensively with NATO forces and provided some insurance to Dutch interests during the tense standoff with Indonesia during the decade-long West New Guinea dispute — which could have seen the Indonesian Navy’s only cruiser, the Soviet-built KRI Irian, formerly Ordzhonikidze, face off with the Dutch in what would have been the world’s last cruiser-on-cruiser naval action.

However, the age of navies running big gun warships was in the twilight.

The Soviets maintained as many as 13 of the huge 16,000-ton Sverdlov class cruisers, armed with a dozen 6-inch guns as late as 1994 when the last one (the famously wrecked Murmansk) was finally removed from their navy list.

The Russians beat the U.S. by more than a decade as the last all-gun armed cruiser on the Navy List was USS Newport News (CA–148), struck 31 July 1978. The last big gun cruiser in U.S. service was USS Albany (CA-123) which had been reworked to a hybrid missile boat (CG-10) to be decommissioned in 1980 and struck five years later. An 8-inch armed destroyer, USS Hull, removed her experimental Mk.71 mount in 1979. Since then, it’s been a world of 5-inchers for U.S. cruisers and destroyers.

As for the Royal Navy, losing their heavies in the 1950s and their few remaining WWII-era light cruisers soon after, they decommissioned their two Tiger-class cruisers in the 1970s, disposing of them in the 1980s.

The navies of South America were the last to operate big gun-armed cruisers. Which brings us to the story of De Zeven Provinciën and De Ruyter‘s second life.

With the ABC powers (Argentina, Brazil, and Chile) all packing large former U.S. cruisers in their fleets, Peru went shopping in the early 1970s for some parity and bought the two Dutch cruisers for a song between 1972-75. De Ruyter was bought first and became fleet flagship BAP Almirante Grau (CLM-81) after the national naval hero, replacing the old Crown Colony-class light cruiser HMS Newfoundland which carried the same name. DZP was picked up later and became BAP Aguirre.

Cruiser Almirante Admiral Grau, flagship of the war navy of Peru, during its incorporation in 1973.

For a decade, this gave the Peruvians a good bit a prestige, and as the ABC navies shed their older vessels (all WWII-era), the much newer Dutch ships continued to give good service.

Chile decommissioned the 12,242-ton O’Higgins (formerly the USS Brooklyn CL-40) finally in 1992.

Crucero O’Higgins de la Armada Chilena, formerly USS Brooklyn CL-40

Sistership to the O’Higgins was the ARA General Belgrano (ex-USS Phoenix CL-46) a flagship of the Argentine navy for thirty years until she was deep-sixed by a British submarine in the 1982 Falkland Islands War. Brazil also had a pair of ex-Brooklyn class cruisers, which they operated until the 1970s.

To keep her sister alive, DZP/Aguirre was paid off in 2000, her parts used to keep De Ruyter/Grau in operation.

Ever since the battleship USS Missouri was struck on 12 January 1995, the eight Bofors 152/53 naval guns mounted on Almirante Grau were the most powerful afloat on any warship operated by any navy in the world. A record she went out with after holding for 22 years– a proud legacy of another generation and the end of an era.

Given an extensive refit in 1985 and other upgrades since then, she carried new Dutch electronics, updated armament including Otomat anti-ship missiles and 40L70 Dardo rapid fire guns, and in effect was the cruiser equivalent of the Reagan-era Iowa-class battleships.

Salinas, Peru (July 3, 2004) – The Peruvian cruiser Almirante Grau (CLM-81) fires one of its 15.2 cm caliber cannons as naval surface fire support during a Latin American amphibious assault exercise supporting UNITAS 45-04. U.S. Navy photo by Chief Journalist Dave Fliesen

A detailed look at her modernized scheme via Naval Analyses:

The Dutch still revere the name De Ruyter with a Tromp-class guided missile frigate commissioned as the 7th ship with the handle in 1975 and a new De Zeven Provinciën-class frigate, the 8th De Ruyter, placed in service in 2004.

Showing her age, and still requiring at least a crew of 600 even after modernization, the Peruvian cruiser with former Dutch and one-time German ownership papers was placed in a reserve status in 2010, maintained from sinking but not much else. However she still served a purpose as a pierside training and flag ship.

In 2012, Royal Netherlands Army Brigadier Jost van Duurling and the Peru’s Minister of Defense, Dr. Luis Alberto Otárola Peñaranda, signed a military cooperation agreement between the two countries on De Ruyter/Grau‘s deck.

She is also remembered in Dutch maritime art.

1959. J. Goedhart. De kruiser Hr. Ms. de Ruyter op zee via Scheepvaartmuseum

Hr.Ms. De Ruyter C801 – by Maarten Platje – 1984

Now, the end has come. She was decommissioned last week, though she is reportedly in poor condition and hasn’t been to sea in nearly a decade.

Word on the street is that she will be kept as a floating museum, perhaps at the Naval Museum in Callao, but concerns about asbestos, chemicals dating back to the 1930s, and lead paint may derail that.

Still, she has gone the distance.

Specs:

Hr.Ms. De Ruyter C801 via blueprints.com

Displacement: 12,165 tons fl (1995)
Length: 614.6 ft.
Beam: 56.6 ft.
Draught: 22.0 ft.
Propulsion:
4 Werkspoor-Yarrow three-drum boilers
2 De Schelde Parsons geared steam turbines
2 shafts
85,000 shp
Speed: 32 kn
Range: 7,000 nmi at 12 kn
Complement: 973 (1953) 650 (2003)
Electronics (1953)
LW-01
2x M45
Electronics (2003)
AN/SPS-6
Signaal SEWACO Foresee PE CMS
Signaal DA-08 surface search
Signaal STIR-240 fire control
Signaal WM-25 fire control
Signaal LIROD-8 optronic
Decca 1226 navigation
Armament: (1953)
4 × 2 Bofors 152/53 guns
8 × 57 mm AA guns
Armament (1995)
4 × 2 Bofors 152/53 guns
8 Otomat Mk 2 SSM
2 × 2 OTO Melara 40L70 DARDO guns
Armor:
50–76 mm (2.0–3.0 in) belt
50–125 mm (2.0–4.9 in) turrets
50–125 mm (2.0–4.9 in) conning tower

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

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

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

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Warship Wednesday, June 28, 2017: The Kansas cruiser, by way of Peru

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 their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, June 28, 2017: The Kansas cruiser, by way of Peru

Color-tinted postcard of a photograph copyrighted by Enrique Muller, 1905. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 63653-B-KN

Here we see the Lima-class gunboat USS Topeka at anchor in Long Island Sound, New York, circa 1904. Ships present in the background include the destroyer tender USS Prairie (left) and a torpedo-boat destroyer. By this time, Topeka was already almost 25 years old, had switched flags and names a confusing number of times, and had 25 years of service ahead of her.

She and her sister had a rather odd story rooted in Latin American naval lore.

To understand the Topeka, first, we need to understand the ironclad turret ship Huáscar.

Built for a princely £81,000 in England at Laird Brothers to a design by British ironclad wonk Captain Cowper Coles, she was commissioned scarcely a year after the U.S. Civil War for the Peruvian Navy. At 1,900-tons and capable of 12-knots in the open ocean, she carried a pair of 10-inch guns in a Coles-patented revolving gun turret and was protected by as much as seven inches of armor. The Peruvians were very happy with the vessel and she was the fleet flag.

Marina de Guerra del Perú. Es el BAP Huáscar, 1879

However, in a four against one ironclad face-off during the Battle of Angamos on 8 October 1879, in the War of the Pacific, Huáscar was captured by the stronger force of the Chilean Navy. Peruvian Admiral and naval hero Miguel Grau Seminario was killed as was 32 of her crew.

The loss of the big ironclad sent agents from Peru to Europe looking for not one but two modern ships to replace her in the battle line. A string of talks to buy first the armored frigate Roma from Italy, then the armored ship Danmark from the Danes, and finally two old British-made ironclads from the Ottomans, were frustrated by the actions of Chilean diplomats abroad.

Finally, through some hoodwink and the equivalent fee of £200,000 (collected by popular subscription from the public), the Peruvians were able to have two cruisers built at the Howaldtswerke shipyard in Kiel, Germany–disguised under a Greek shipping company and completed as the freighters Socrates and Diogenes. At about 1,800-tons, these 250-foot long vessels were about the same size as the lost Huáscar and could make 16.2 knots, making them a good bit faster, but they were unprotected.

The unarmed ships were completed by Howaldtwerke in 1881, and the two “Greek” freighters shipped for England where they were to be outfitted with a suite of four Armstrong 4-inch guns and various smaller Hotchkiss pieces, then sail as the Peruvian Navy cruisers BAP Lima and BAP Callao respectively.

However, this was not to be.

Once in Britain, the Chileans pressured the Queen’s government to impound the ships there for the duration of the war. After the conflict ended, the Peruvians were only able to afford one of the vessels and, in 1889 after an eight-year saga, finally called Lima home while Callao was left swaying in England, unwanted and signed over to the Thames Iron Works in lieu of nearly a decade of dock rental and upkeep on the pair.

Lima, as completed for the Peruvians

There, the German-built and unused formerly Peruvian cruiser sat for nearly another decade as the Brits offered her to prospective buyers without much luck– though she was nearly purchased by Japan in 1895 for use against China– with Thames even going through the trouble of overhauling her in 1896. She was made ready at the time for an armament of six 4.7-inch Armstrongs (two forecastle, four in broadside sponsons) 10 six-pounders, and six three-pounders.

Then came a rather exciting little conflict known to history as the Spanish-American War, and Thames was able to make a deal with agents working on behalf of Washington– garnering the distinction, as reported by the May 7th, 1898 Western Electrician, of “being the only vessel of the kind ever purchased by telephone.”

The U.S. Navy purchased 102 ships on the open market in early 1898 for a total of $18,243,389.29. The cheapest of these, the 16-year old 100-ton commercial tug Hercules (commissioned as USS Chickasaw) was picked up for just $15,000. The most expensive, the brand new British Armstrong-built 3,800-ton Brazilian Navy cruiser Amazonas (commissioned as USS New Orleans, a former Warship Wednesday alumni), was bought for $1.43 million. This made Diogenes/Callao a comparative deal at $170,327.50 (the odd number attributed to the exchange rate with pounds sterling).

Purchased on 2 April 1898 (more than two weeks before the actual Declaration of War by the U.S. Congress), Diogenes/Callao was renamed USS Topeka, and placed in commission the same day, Lt. John J. Knapp in command. She was the first U.S. ship named for the Kansas capital city.

Two weeks later she cleared Falmouth in an unarmed state, headed to the New York Naval Yard where she was painted gray, picked up 6 4-inch/40 cal guns, six 3-pounders, a pair of one-pounders, and a Colt 1895 machine gun.

USS Topeka Halftone of a photograph taken in 1898, at the time of the Spanish-American War. Copied from The New Navy of the United States, by N.L. Stebbins, (New York, 1912). Donation of David Shadell, 1987. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 98239

USS Topeka at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, 30 June 1898. Note the scrollwork on her bow. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 63398

USS Topeka off the New York Navy Yard, 1898. Courtesy of Howard I. Chapelle, Smithsonian Institution. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 806

By 11 July, Uncle’s newest warship joined the blockading forces off Havana, ordered to assume station off Bahia de Nipe, located on the northeastern shore of Cuba almost directly opposite Santiago de Cuba on the island’s southeastern coast.

USS Topeka at anchor in 1898. Note the extensvie awnings on deck and the broadside 4″ guns about amidships. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 60333 Colorized by Postales Navales

Her time off Cuba was exciting, though only lasted about a month, as noted by DANFS:

On 17 July, she and Maple captured the Spanish sloop Domingo Aurelio off Bahia de Nipe. Four days later, Topeka joined Annapolis, Wasp, and Leyden in a foray into Bahia de Nipe. The four warships encountered no real resistance from the Spanish and, therefore, easily captured the port and sank the Spanish cruiser [actually a sloop, 920t, 6×6.2″] Jorge Juan, abandoned by her crew.

Following the capture of the Bahia de Nipe littoral, Topeka steamed to Key West with dispatches. She returned to Cuban waters on 28 July and remained until 5 August, when she again steamed to Key West. She made one more voyage to Cuba in mid-August, visiting Port Francis on the 14th before heading north on the 15th.

The action with the Jorge Juan is described more in the Overland Monthly and Out West Magazine of the day, which holds the Spanish vessel had both her masts shot away and was awash when the Americans took her over following a sharp action.

Over the next several years, Topeka assisted as a control ship for new warship trials, participated in wireless telegraphy experiments, exercised gunboat diplomacy in the waters of the Dominican Republic and Panama when U.S. interests were threatened, embarked on a training cruise to the Mediterranean, and performed other tasks as needed.

Boston Navy Yard, Charlestown, Massachusetts Navy Yard waterfront, circa 1900. Ships present include, from left to right: USS Olympia, USS Topeka, and USS Constitution. Note the boats in the foreground. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 55965

Photographed by J. Geiser, Algiers, Algeria, 1900, during her Med cruise. Note she now has a gleaming peacetime white scheme and gilt bowscrolls. The original photograph is printed on silk. Collection of Rear Admiral William C. Braisted, USN(MC). Courtesy of Dr. William R. Braisted. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 91532

Topeka was placed out of commission on 7 September 1905 and assigned duty as station ship at Portsmouth where she served as an auxiliary to the converted collier USS Southery, then serving as the prison ship for the Portsmouth Naval Prison, which was under construction.

By 1915, the Navy had disposed of most of the 102 SpanAm War ships taken up from trade, selling them for a total of just $1.167 million, about 5 percent of the amount Uncle had paid. Topeka was one of the few still afloat by then.

Starboard view, while serving as a detention ship at Portsmouth Navy Yard, New Hampshire, 1915. Note her masts have been stepped and her sponson casemates are now blocked in, one seen with windows fitted. Photo via Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels Collection Lot 5369-5 from National Museum of the U.S. Navy

U.S. Navy gunboat USS Topeka (Patrol Gunboat #35) while serving as a detention ship at Portsmouth Navy Yard, New Hampshire, 1915. Note the sailors performing knotting and splicing. The white sleeve stripes denote them as being under discipline. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels Collection Lot 5369-5 from National Museum of the U.S. Navy Lot 5369-3:

U.S. Navy gunboat USS Topeka (Patrol Gunboat #35) while serving as a detention ship at Portsmouth Navy Yard, New Hampshire, 1915. U.S. Navy sailors performing a 3” gun drill. Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels Collection Lot 5369-5 from National Museum of the U.S. Navy Lot 5369-6

When the U.S. entered World War I, Topeka was converted to a training ship and thousands of new recruits walked her decks before the Armistice. Around this time, she was re-engined with a pair of Ward boilers replacing her four German ones and two 1,000ihp DeLaval geared turbines replacing her old horizontal compound engines.

The 38-year-old gunboat was called in off the bleachers once more and, on 24 March 1919, Topeka was recommissioned at Boston, CDR Earl P. Finney in command. However, it was not to last. After a brief patrol off the Gulf coast of Mexico, she was again placed out of commission on 21 November 1919 at Charleston Navy Yard. Designated PG-35 in 1920, then IX-35 (the designation for unclassified miscellaneous auxiliaries) the next year. In 1922, she was put on the market for sale and after “no satisfactory bids were forthcoming” the Navy decided to keep the old girl a bit longer.

Transferred to Philadelphia, she was used as a pierside trainer until 1930 when she was stricken for good to remove her tonnage from the U.S. Navy’s tally sheet under the London Naval Treaty and free it up for a more valuable use. She was sold for scrap in May.

Topeka‘s bell currently sits on the parade deck of the Marine Corps Security Force Company Guantanamo Bay, Cuba while one of her 4″40 cals (American Ordnance Co. no. 152) used to sink the Spanish sloop-of-war Jorge Juan in 1898 is at the Washington Naval Yard.

NMUSN174 - Pre WWI - American - 4 inch 40 Caliber Rifle - 1898 from 'USS Topeka'

Topeka’s name has gone on to grace a WWII light cruiser (CL-67) and a nuclear attack submarine (SSN-754), the former scrapped in 1975 and the latter in active commission since 1989.

As for her sister, Lima, the Peruvian cruiser was used in the 1890s as a diplomatic vessel and notably visited Valparaiso, Chile, to repatriate the mortal remains of Admiral Grau along with the 32 fallen Peruvian crew members from Huáscar, and other war heroes including Col. Francisco Bolognesi Cervantes, the patron of the Peruvian Army. Lima was disarmed in 1926 and retained as a tender for the Peruvian submarine flotilla until she was stricken in 1950.

LIMA (Peruvian Cruiser, 1881-1940) Caption: Photographed late in her career with a reduced rig and built up bridge area. Description: Courtesy Comandante Cosio and Dr. R. L. Scheina. Catalog #: NH 87837

Lima was later apparently used by the government as a public-school ship at the Amazon city of Iquitos for a time and her final fate has faded into history, though one Spanish source claims she was still stranded in the river as late as 1999.

As for Huáscar, she served the Chilean Navy through 1897 and today is one of the few early ironclad era warships still afloat, serving for the past several decades as a museum.

Jose Vinagre Espamer picture of the ironclad turret ship Huascar

Specs:

Displacement: 1,800 designed, 2,255 long tons (2,291 t) normal
Length: 259 ft. 4 in (79.04 m)
Beam: 35 ft. (11 m) at the waterline
Draft: 16 ft. 5 in (5.00 m) aft
Propulsion: 4 cylindrical boilers, 2 engines, 1800shp, 2 shafts, 300 tons coal (re-engined about 1915)
Speed: 16.2 knots
Complement: 167 officers and enlisted
Armament:
(Designed, never fitted)
4x 4-inch Armstrong
(1898)
6 × 4″/40 cal
6 × 3-pounder guns
2 × 1-pounder guns
1 × Colt machine gun (M1895 Colt–Browning machine gun)
(1915)
4x 3″/23 guns
(1921)
Disarmed

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

They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

The International Naval Research Organization is a non-profit corporation dedicated to the encouragement of the study of naval vessels and their histories, principally in the era of iron and steel warships (about 1860 to date). Its purpose is to provide information and a means of contact for those interested in warships.

With more than 50 years of scholarship, Warship International, the written tome of the INRO has published hundreds of articles, most of which are unique in their sweep and subject.

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

I’m a member, so should you be!

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