Tag Archives: torpedo

Ghosts of Torpedo Tubes Past

Alternatively described by the Soviets/Russians as a “submarine chaser” or a “frigate” the vintage Udaloy I-class destroyer Marshal [Boris] Shaposhnikov (BPK 543) was commissioned the same year that young upstart Gorbachev was named General Secretary of the CPSU and had been ordered while Brezhnev was still around.

The 8,000-ton Shaposhnikov recently emerged from a three-year modernization that included the installation of 16 huge vertical-launched Kalibr cruise missiles to augment his (Russian warships are always masculine) Uran anti-ship missiles and Kinzhal SAMs. Assigned to the Pacific Fleet, Shaposhnikov just pulled off a complete live-fire test of all systems in the waters of the Sea of ​​Japan.

The below shows not only the missiles, 100mm AK-190 main gun, and AK-630 CIWS going loud but has a great view of the distinctive trainable four-pack 21-inch torpedo tubes, reminiscent of old-school WWII era tubes.

I guess if it ain’t broke…

Just three Udaloys are in fleet service with the Russians today although several others are in reserve with at least two of those sidelined ships– Admiral Levchenko and Admiral Chabanenko— expected to be reworked to the same standard as Shaposhnikov.

By comparison, the oldest American Tico, USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), is still almost two years newer than Shaposhnikov and is expected to head off to red lead row very soon.

Harpoons and Perrys off Kauai

The recent RIMPAC 2018 exercise saw two notable sinkex operations, the first, the old LST USS Racine we have covered already.

The second, the decommissioned OHP-class frigate USS McClusky (FFG 41), was sent to on 19 July to the bottom of waters some 15,000 feet deep, 55 nautical miles north of Kauai.

Her sad, final plunge:

One of the youngest of her class, ex-McClusky was an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate commissioned in December 1983 and decommissioned in January 2015. The ship was named for Lt. Cmdr. Wade McClusky, a naval aviator who led his squadrons of Douglass Dauntless dive bombers against a Japanese fleet during the famed attack on the island of Midway in June 1942. He went on to distinguish himself in subsequent actions during the war and again in the Korean War before retiring at the rank of rear admiral in 1956. The ship operated worldwide during her more than 30 years of service. During one deployment in 2002, her crew successfully intercepted a drug runner at sea hauling 75 bales of cocaine weighing nearly 4,000 pounds.

Notably, the first use of a sub-Harpoon in a generation was seen during the exercise when Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Olympia (SSN-717) loaded one of these unicorns and let it fly towards Racine.

The periscope footage, 30 secs:

Loading B-roll, 5 minutes:

30-sec compilation including the hit on Racine’s forward third:

In the end, though, there was one FFG-7 class vessel present at RIMPAC that had a better go of things. The Royal Australian Navy guided-missile frigate HMAS Melbourne (FFG 05) participated on the other side of the gun line and on 2 August set sail back to Oz, intact.

If you are a fan of the USS Racine, you probably shouldn’t watch this footage

Live fire from aircraft, a submarine, and land assets participating in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise sank the long-decommissioned ex-USS Racine (LST-1191) on 12 July in the Pacific Ocean. Ex-Racine was sent to the bottom at the end by aircraft from Strike Fighter Squadron 192 (VFA-192) at 8:45 p.m. in waters 15,000 feet deep, 55 nautical miles north of Kauaʻi, Hawaii.

The SINKEX featured live firing of surface-to-ship missiles by the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and a Naval Strike Missile (NSM) from a launcher on the back of a Palletized Load System (PLS) by the U.S. Army, fired from Barking Sands. This marks the first time the U.S. Army and JGSDF have participated in a sinking exercise during RIMPAC as well as the first participation by a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

A torpedo from an unnamed submarine is shown at the 5:40 mark breaking her back. You can see her distinctive bow doors in several scenes, as well as her 1970s-era twin 3″/50 dual purpose gun mounts, still installed.

Racine, an 8,700-ton Newport-class of Landing Ship, Tank, was commissioned in 1971, decommissioned on 2 October 1993 as the Navy was getting out of the LST business and, after a planned transfer to Peru fell through, was set aside for use as a target while in inactive reserve at Pearl Harbor. She earned one battle star for her Vietnam service.

According to the Navy:

Each SINKEX is required to sink the hulk in at least 1,000 fathoms (6,000 feet) of water and at least 50 nautical miles from land. Surveys are conducted to ensure that people and marine mammals are not in an area where they could be harmed during the event.

Prior to the vessel being transported for participation in a SINKEX, each vessel is put through a rigorous cleaning process, including the removal of all polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), transformers and large capacitors, all small capacitors to the greatest extent practical, trash, floatable materials, mercury or fluorocarbon-containing materials and readily detachable solid PCB items. Petroleum is also cleaned from tanks, piping, and reservoirs.

A U.S. Navy environmental, safety and health manager and a quality assurance supervisor inspect the environmental remediation conducted in preparation of a vessel’s use in a SINKEX. Upon completion of the environmental remediation, the manager and supervisor provide signed certification of the work in accordance with EPA requirements.

The trace buster, buster, Captain Nemo edition

Ahh, the unlikely scourge of the armored leviathans of the early 20th Century– the plucky torpedo boat as seen by German naval artist Willy Stower, titled “Torpedo boats on maneuver”

Once the spar and locomotive torpedoes claimed their first victims in 1864 (USS Housatonic) and 1878 (the Turkish steamer Intibah), the world’s fleets began to research torpedo nets to be carried by capital ships to protect them from such infernal devices. By the early 20th Century, such an idea was common.

This, of course, led to:

Naval History and Heritage Command NH 84492

Behold, a net cutter fitted to an early MKV Whitehead Torpedo, at the Newport Torpedo Station, R.I., March 1908

In service from 1910 through the mid-1920s, the MKV was cutting edge.

Manufactured under license at Newport, the 1,400-pound fish carried 200-pounds of gun-cotton with a contact exploder in its nose and– a first for Whitehead– was hot-running. It was also variable speed on its 4-cylinder reciprocating engine, capable of being set for a sedate 27-knot clip for 4,000-yards (though the gyroscope keeping it in a straight line for that long was a stretch) or a blistering 40-kt pace for 1,000.

In 1908, Whitehead was the household name in locomotive torpedoes, having made them for over 30 years.

They sold the first to the Royal Navy back in 1877 and didn’t look back.

The early Whitehead: NH 95129 Illustrations of Torpedo Warfare Line engraving Harpers Weekly, 14 July 1877 early Whitehead torpedo

Whiteheads, later versions: Copied from the Journal of Scientific American Coast Defense Supplement, 1898. A widely-used naval torpedo, propelled by compressed air. This cut-away view shows the torpedo’s major components. Description: Catalog #: NH 73951

An improved Mark III Whitehead Torpedo fired from the East Dock, Goat Island, Newport Torpedo Station, Rhode Island, in 1894, torpedo boat destroyer USS Cushing in background

In the end, the Navy went with domestically designed and produced Bliss-Leavitt torpedoes over the Whiteheads, scrapping the latter in all their variants by 1922.

But they did outlive torpedo nets, which were ditched by ships in the early days of WWI, though defended harbor entrances continued to use anti-submarine nets through the 1940s.

Trawlers with a Surprise

Saw pictures of this floating around out there and decided to bring it up. For as long as thier has been trawlers, Navies have pressed them into service. In both World Wars, some of the best and most effective erstaz ASW boats were fishing boats that the navy would throw some depth charges and old ‘good enough’ popguns on deck.

Norwegian fishing schooner taken up by the German Navy in 1940 for use as a patrol boat. Note the machine gun on the front of the bow. These craft have often been used during war.

However these the boats below were purpose built by the Soviet Navy to look like Naval trawlers (they are painted haze gray and have pennant numbers in most cases) but are sometimes very un-trawler like under the surface.

Between 1960-1988 the Soviet Union built some 37 project 1824/1823 NATO code name “Muna” class modified trawlers.

More than 20 were simply used as seagoing armement transports in the thousands of craggy rocky inlets along the Baltic (due to thier 10-foot draft), one was completes as a Seagoing reefer transports, a few were small signals intelligence ships, four were completed for the KGB as border patrol ships, some did survey work, and this one, coded OS-57  offically ‘supported torpedo research’. It leads to wonder why a trawler would have a set of two underwater torpedo tubes along with an active sonar. It would appear that as mant as four of these torpedo carriers were produced. With two different sized tubes, one on each side.

My grandma, what big teeth you have under your bow….

Displacement (tons):
Standard:     441-455
Full load:     686-912 depending on type
Dimensions (m):
Length:     51,45m (178 feet)
Beam:     8,42m (27 feet)
Draft:     3,22m (10.52 feet)
Speed (kts):     11,5
Range:     4950 nm (9,3 kts), 2240 nm (11,4 kts) (Project 1824B – 8600 nm (9 kts), 6000

nm (11 kts))
Autonomy (days):     15 (Project 1824B – 16)
Propulsion:     1×600 h.p., diesel 6LH-30.50-3 (Project 1824B – 1×800 h.p., diesel), 2

diesel-generators x50 kW
Armament:
1×2 25 mm 2M-3M – Reya cannons
1×1 650 mm torpedo tube – (torpedo trials ships only)
1×1 533 mm torpedo tube – (torpedo trials ships only)
2×4 launchers MTU-4 SAM – Project 1824B

A pair of tubes and an active forward looking sonar, just what every fisherman needs.

Electronics:     Navigation radar “Don”
Capacity (tons):     180
Crew:     22 (Project 1824B – 30, Project 18236 – 23)