Tag Archive | USS New Hampshire

Warship Wednesday, April 10, 2018: All Forms of Manly Sports

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 10, 2018: All Forms of Manly Sports

NH 76743-KN

Here we see the Seagoing Athletes that were the all-fleet champion basketball team of the Chester-class scout cruiser USS Birmingham (CL-2) circa 1910. Birmingham and her crew were indeed involved in all sorts of manly sports in her brief career. From her help to show off the modern steel Navy, to her very real contribution to “Remember the Maine,” to her service as the cradle of U.S. Naval Aviation and in a curious war against the Austrians that garnered a pair of Kaiser Karl’s battlewagons for the Stars and Stripes, B’ham was there.

In the early 1900s, when it came to cruisers, the Navy had lots of big boys such as the 10 Washington and California-class armored cruisers (15,000 tons, 10- and 8-inch gun main batteries); as well as five “1st class cruisers” of the Charleston, Brooklyn and Saratoga-classes (8500-10,000 tons, 6 and 8 inch guns); four aging “2nd class cruisers” e.g. USS Olympia, Baltimore, Columbia, Minneapolis (5,000-7,000 tons, 6- and 8-inch guns); the six slow “3rd class” Chattanooga cruisers who could only make 16 knots; and in the bottom rung were the old Span-Am War era protected cruisers Raleigh, Cincinnati, New Orleans and Albany (the last two British built), of questionable utility due to their slow speeds. This dearth of small, modern– and above all fast– light cruisers led to the Navy to order the trio of Chester class scout cruisers in 1904.

USS BIRMINGHAM (CS-2) and USS SALEM (CS-3) completing, at the Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Quincy, Massachusetts, circa early 1908. Original is a color-tinted postcard, mailed at Quincy on 9 September 1909. Courtesy of Captain Don Fink, 1983 NH 94937

The 4,687-ton ships– Chester, Salem, and Birmingham— were race boats for their time, capable of 24 knots (Chester hit 26.52 on speed trials), which made them able to reach out past the battle fleet and look for enemy formations. They also could sip coal and make some truly impressive ocean-crossing voyages at slow/low speeds, which would make them good ships if needed to be dispatched to far off flashpoints in the growing Pax Americana.

Chester class cruisers

Chester class cruisers, 1914 entry in Janes

Lightly armored, with just 2-inches of plate over their steering and engineering spaces with no gun shields or conning tower protection, they were supposed to run, not fight. If pushed into a corner by a similarly fast ship, such as a destroyer, they had (just) enough muscle to prevail with a single 5″/50 cal mount forward and rear along with six 3″/50 singles in broadside. A pair of submerged 21-inch torpedo tubes made them trouble for capital ships, especially in a night attack.

Gun Practice - Gun practice on board U.S. Cruiser Salem, Birmingham's sister, Chester class Charlestown, Navy Yard, Charlestown, Mass - NARA - 45510731

Gun Practice – Gun practice on board U.S. Cruiser Salem, Birmingham’s sister, Chester class Charlestown, Navy Yard, Charlestown, Mass – NARA – 45510731

USS Birmingham, starboard view, May 4, 1908 NARA 19-N-33-9-13

USS Birmingham, starboard view, May 4, 1908, NARA 19-N-33-9-13

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) Running sea trials in March 1908. She is flying the flag of her builder, the Fore River Shipbuilding Company of Quincy, Massachusetts, from her mainmast. NH 56390

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) Running sea trials in March 1908. She is flying the flag of her builder, the Fore River Shipbuilding Company of Quincy, Massachusetts, from her mainmast. NH 56390

Built at Fore River Shipbuilding Co., Birmingham, the first U.S. Navy vessel with that name, commissioned at Quincy, Massachusetts 11 April 1908 and was assigned to the Atlantic Fleet. As part of her shakedown cruises, she popped in at Mobile, Alabama in February 1909 “where the increasingly seasoned cruiser received a silver service in honor of that state and her namesake.”

Keep in mind the Civil War had just ended 44 years before.

She then picked up President-elect Howard H. Taft in New Orleans and carried him up the Eastern Seaboard to Hampton Roads, VA to join Teddy Roosevelt in reviewing the Great White Fleet which was returning from its round the world cruise.

Soon, all three of the Chesters would see active service when, as a group, they sortied to Liberia on the West African Coast, dispatched by Roosevelt and Secretary of State Elihu Root to get involved in the local unrest there, which in large part stemmed from British and French colonial actions on the country’s borders.

From DANFS:

The U.S. appointed a commission to investigate the crisis, which set out on board Birmingham from Tompkinsville on 23 April 1909. The ship rendezvoused with Chester and Salem, and the three cruisers crossed the Atlantic, coaled and provisioned at Porto Grande Bay at São Vicente in the Cape Verde Islands (1–9 May), and reached Monrovia, Liberia, on the 13th. The commissioners lodged on board the trio of cruisers while they worked with Liberian representatives at Monrovia (13–29 May and 5 June), Grand Bassa (29–31 May), Cape Palmas (1–4 June), and Robertsport — also on 5 June — and wrapped-up their investigation with a visit to Freetown, Sierra Leone (7–8 June). The ships coaled and completed upkeep at Las Palmas in the Cape Verde Islands (13–16 June) and at Funchal, Madeira (17–23 June), and returned to Newport. The commissioners subsequently presented a message to Congress, and Root recommended that the U.S. consider lending military officers to assist the Liberians.

The following year the U.S. arranged a Loan Agreement, whereby 17 African-American Army officers eventually (1911–1930) served in Liberia, where they worked as military attachés to the American Consulate in Monrovia, or organized, trained, and led the Frontier Force, that country’s constabulary. These dedicated men carried out their difficult mission with minimum support but set the conditions to stabilize the Liberian regime.

The three Chesters arrived back in the country just in time to show off for the international armada that had assembled in New York in the summer of 1909. The event was Hudson-Fulton Celebration, the commemoration of the 300th anniversary of Henry Hudson’s discovery of the Hudson River, and the 100th anniversary of the first successful commercial application of a paddle steamer, by Robert Fulton Jr.

USS Salem (Scout Cruiser # 3) and USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser #2) In the Hudson River, off New York City, during the Hudson-Fulton Celebration, 25 September 9 October 1909. Photo #: NH 91473

USS Salem (Scout Cruiser # 3) and USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser #2) In the Hudson River, off New York City, during the Hudson-Fulton Celebration, 25 September 9 October 1909. Photo #: NH 91473

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) Dressed in flags while at anchor, circa 1909. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. NH 101517

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) Dressed in flags while at anchor, circa 1909. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. NH 101517

After coming to the assistance of the British tug Bulldog and later the sinking steamer Kentucky off the North Carolina coast, Birmingham visited Liberia again in early 1910 before returning to duties with the Atlantic Fleet. In November, she was part of a great experiment.

Less than seven years after Wilbur and Orville Wright made their brief manned air flight on Kill Devil Hill in the Outer Banks, sailing just 120 feet at a speed of a whopping 34 mph, the “aero plane” had made leaps and bounds. From the very beginnings, the military had its eye on the contraption– Samuel Langley of the Smithsonian had been underwritten by the War Department even before the Wright brothers made it off the ground.

Aviation pioneer Eugene Ely, who held pilot’s license No. 17 from the Aero Club of America, had a rendezvous with Birmingham, and destiny.

DANFS:

Shipwrights from Norfolk Navy Yard built an 83-foot slanted wooden platform onto Birmingham’s bow and, on the overcast morning of 14 November, she embarked civilian exhibition stunt pilot Eugene B. Ely, his 50 hp. Curtiss Model D Pusher biplane, some maintainers, and a group of naval officer observers headed by Capt. Washington I. Chambers, an advocate of early naval aviation.

Birmingham got underway at 11:30 a.m. and proceeded in company with Roe (Destroyer No. 24) and Terry (Destroyer No. 25), Barley (Torpedo Boat No. 21) and Stringham (Torpedo Boat No. 19), down the Elizabeth River to the Chesapeake Bay, where she anchored off Old Comfort Point at 12:35, and then shifted her anchorage and dropped the anchor again at 2:55 p.m.

Rainy and drizzly weather prevented Ely from taking off several times, but the pilot gamely decided to continue and launched his plane off the cruiser’s bow at 3:17 p.m. As he left the platform the pusher settled slowly and hit the water but rose again and landed about two and a half miles away on Willoughby Spit.

The plane sustained slight splinter damage to the propeller tips, but Ely’s daring feat marked the first time that an aircraft took off from a warship. Birmingham sent her motorboat to pick up Ely where he touched down at Willoughby Spit, and he, Chambers, and the rest of the party then transferred to Roe for the voyage back to Norfolk. Birmingham’s crew spent the next day tearing down the platform, raising her topmasts, and setting up the rigging, and left the lumber for Navy screw tug Alice to collect.

Just in her third year of service, our hardy cruiser had intervened in an African conflict, rubbed shoulders with both TR and Taft, and become the nation’s very first aircraft carrying warship. She was to continue her footnotes to history.

After visiting Mobile again for Mardi Gras and patrolling off Haiti in a show of gunboat diplomacy (she put in several times at Port-au-Prince and even observed the commissioning of the old Italian Regioni-class cruiser Umbria into the country’s navy as the ill-fated Consul Gostrück), Birmingham appeared in Cuba to serve as a pallbearer for the lost protected cruiser USS Maine (ACR-1), sunk by a controversial explosion in Havana in 1898.

Raised by the Army Corps of Engineers in an epic two-year effort, the remains of 66 lost Sailors and Marines were found and were ordered returned home with honor. Birmingham pulled that duty to escort those remains to the Washington Naval Yard after standing by, along with the armored cruiser North Carolina, while Maine was sunk in 600 fathoms of water offshore.

Maine, ship's after section is scuttled, in ceremonies off Havana, 16 March 1912. In background is USS NORTH CAROLINA (CA-12). USS BIRMINGHAM (CS-2) is at right. NH 46794

Maine, ship’s after section is scuttled, in ceremonies off Havana, 16 March 1912. In the background is USS NORTH CAROLINA (CA-12). USS BIRMINGHAM (CS-2) is at right. NH 46794

The flag-draped caskets of the victims of the USS Maine explosion are brought ashore at the Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia, from USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2), 23 March 1912. Of the 66 sets of remains only one was identified and returned to his home town the rest were reburied at Arlington Cemetery. NH 1690

The flag-draped caskets of the victims of the USS Maine explosion are brought ashore at the Washington Navy Yard, District of Columbia, from USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2), 23 March 1912. Of the 66 sets of remains, only one was identified and returned to his home town the rest were reburied at Arlington Cemetery. NH 1690

NH 1813 USS Maine disaster. Funeral scene of the USS MAINE victims at the Navy Yard, Washington, District of Columbia, 23 March 1912. USS BIRMINGHAM (CL-2) in background

NH 1813 USS Maine disaster. Funeral scene of the USS Maine victims at the Navy Yard, Washington, District of Columbia, 23 March 1912. USS BIRMINGHAM (CL-2) in background

After inaugural service with the Ice Patrol– Titanic had just sunk in April 1912– Birmingham resumed her duties with the Atlantic Fleet, which had been anything but routine.

USS Birmingham (CL-2), circa 1914. From the collection of ADM Horne. UA 571.96

USS Birmingham (CL-2), circa 1914. From the collection of ADM Horne. UA 571.96

With Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin Roosevelt in the Navy’s driver’s seat, trips to Mexico to get muscular in that country’s civil war became common and soon, the Vera Cruz incident erupted. Birmingham, in Pensacola, was urgently ordered on 20 April 1914 to take aboard three aircraft there: “hydroaeroplane AH-2” and Curtiss Model F flying boats AB-4 and AB-5, along with three pilots who went on to be huge names in aviation history– Lt. (later ADM) John H. Towers (Naval Aviator #3), 1st Lt. Bernard L. Smith (USMC Aviator #2), and Ens. Godfrey de C. Chevalier (Naval Aviator #7, who would later be the first to trap on board a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier), 10 “mechaniciens,” a cook, and a mess attendant.

Delivering the assortment to Tampico, the planes accomplished the first combat mission by a U.S. military heavier-than-air aircraft just five days later and were soon among those who first to receive ground fire (with the bullet holes to prove it!)

Pioneer naval aviators Godfrey deChevalier, Henry C. Mustin, and John H. Towers on a beach during service in Mexico in the aftermath of the Veracruz Insurrection. On April 20-21, 1914, naval aviation personnel and their aircraft deployed from the Naval Aeronautical Station at Pensacola, Florida, to Mexican waters aboard Birmingham, where they flew the first combat flights in the history of the United States armed forces.

After Mexico, it was the stony duty of wartime neutral.

Birmingham, Photographed by O.W. Waterman, Hampton, Virginia, circa 1916. Courtesy of Admiral M.M. Taylor, USN(d), 1962. NH 77906

Birmingham, Photographed by O.W. Waterman, Hampton, Virginia, circa 1916. Courtesy of Admiral M.M. Taylor, USN(d), 1962. NH 77906

USS Birmingham Firing salutes with her crew manning the rails, accompanied by three 750-ton type destroyers. Photographed by Waterman. Birmingham's black paint scheme and structural details, and the white uniforms worn by her crew, indicate that the date of this photograph is mid-1916, when Birmingham was flagship of the Atlantic Fleet's Destroyer Force. Location may well be near Hampton, Virginia, base of Waterman family's photographic business. Note what appears to be pattern camouflage (perhaps an experimental scheme) worn by the destroyer on the left. Donation of Charles R. Haberlein Jr., 2007. NH 105382

USS Birmingham Firing salutes with her crew manning the rails, accompanied by three 750-ton type destroyers. Photographed by Waterman. Birmingham’s black paint scheme and structural details, and the white uniforms worn by her crew, indicate that the date of this photograph is mid-1916 when Birmingham was the flagship of the Atlantic Fleet’s Destroyer Force. Location may well be near Hampton, Virginia, a base of Waterman family’s photographic business. Note what appears to be pattern camouflage (perhaps an experimental scheme) worn by the destroyer on the left. Donation of Charles R. Haberlein Jr., 2007. NH 105382

When the U.S. entered the Great War, Birmingham continued her East Coast operations with CDR Nathan C. Twining, Commander, Nantucket Detachment, Patrol Force, breaking his flag on the cruiser. By June 1917, she was escorting the first wave of Doughboys, the regulars of the Army’s newly-formed 1st Infantry Division, augmented by the 5th Marines, to France.

In August, she crossed with a second troop convoy and by 1918 was in the Med, operating out of Gibraltar.

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) Moored in a harbor, circa 1918, probably in the Mediterranean area. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969 NH 68227

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) Moored in a harbor, circa 1918, probably in the Mediterranean area. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1969 NH 68227

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) In Brest harbor, France, on 15 October 1918. During 1917-1918 she was flagship of U.S. Forces at Gibraltar and escorted convoys in the eastern Atlantic. Note her dazzle camouflage. Courtesy of John G. Krieger, 1966-1967. NH 56393

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) In Brest harbor, France, on 15 October 1918. During 1917-1918 she was the flagship of U.S. Forces at Gibraltar and escorted convoys in the eastern Atlantic. Note her dazzle camouflage. Courtesy of John G. Krieger, 1966-1967. NH 56393

Once the Armistice hit on 11 November 1918, Birmingham was dispatched to the Adriatic where the Allied forces had for the entirety of the war kept the mighty Austro-Hungarian fleet largely bottled up, a paper tiger. Taking on RADM William H. G. Bullard at Malta, within days she was at Spalato (Split) in Dalmatia, where she took custody of not one but two Austrian battleships on 22 November.

Surrender of Austrian Fleet - Austrian battleships surrendered to U.S. Naval forces 2.8.19 SMS Radetzky Zrinyi Spalate Birmingham cruiser LOC 165-WW-329D-002

Surrender of Austrian Fleet – Austrian battleships surrendered to U.S. Naval forces 2.8.19 SMS Radetzky, Zrinyi, Spalate. Birmingham to the right. LOC 165-WW-329D-002

Sisterships of the same class of pre-dreadnought battleships, SMS Radetzky and SMS Zrinyi had both joined Kaiser Franz Josef’s Imperial Austro-Hungarian Navy in 1911 and saw very little service in their seven years on Vienna’s naval list. After ole Franz died in 1916, his great-nephew Karl took the throne and beat feet during the last days of the war, signing over the fleet to the newly formed Yugoslav government to keep it out of the Allies hands.

To comply with this, the two battlewagons sailed out of Pola on 10 November under nominal Slav command and, flying American flags, surrendered to a group of punchy 110-foot U.S. Navy submarine chasers until Bullard and Birmingham arrived a week later. Under U.S. custody, the pair was even referred to as USS Zrinyi and USS Radetzky, unofficially. However, it was not to be and in compliance with the final Austrian peace in 1920, the ships were given to Italy and scrapped.

As for our hardy scout cruiser, she returned home in early 1919 and was soon reassigned to the Pacific Fleet.

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) In the Middle West Chamber, Gatun Locks, during the passage of the Pacific Fleet through the Panama Canal, 24 July 1919. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C. Collection of Admiral William V. Pratt. NH 75717

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) In the Middle West Chamber, Gatun Locks, during the passage of the Pacific Fleet through the Panama Canal, 24 July 1919. Note she has extensive warm weather awnings and a grey hull again. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Washington, D.C. Collection of Admiral William V. Pratt. NH 75717

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) At Seattle, Washington, in September 1919. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 56394

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) At Seattle, Washington, in September 1919. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 56394

Reclassified as a light cruiser (CL-2), she later became the flag of RADM William C. Cole who used her to head up a squadron dispatched to Panama in 1922 to help quiet down the locals in the Canal Zone– making Birmingham a Mahanian gunboat to the last. Ironically, during this period she called on New Orleans and, while open to the public during the 1923 State Fair, was toured by then CPT. Osami Nagano of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Nagano, of course, would later rise to Chief of the Navy General Staff during WWII, outranking Yamamoto.

In addition to Nagano and the host of early aviators that went on to greatness, at least three of Birmingham‘s former skippers went on to become full admirals including two CINCUS’s and one CNO. She truly was a ship that stars fell upon.

With the resulting peace craze that followed WWI and the series of naval treaties agreed to by the world’s great powers, the Chester class were declared surplus and laid up so that their tonnage could be used for more modern cruiser developments. As such, Birmingham headed to Philadelphia, where she was decommissioned on 1 December 1923. Salem had already been laid up at Mare Island in 1921, the same year Chester was put out of service at Boston. By early 1930, all three had been sold for scrap, at which point they were only about 22 years old each and had been in reserve for a decade. A waste.

Birmingham’s name would be twice reused, by the Cleveland-class light cruiser USS Birmingham (CL-62)— which gave epic service in WWII and decommissioned in 1946– and by the Los Angeles-class nuclear attack submarine USS Birmingham (SSN-695) which was active from 1978 to 1997.

Birmingham SSBN-695 CL-62

Of course, our Scout Cruiser’s silver service is at the Birmingham Museum of Art, on public display. She has also been remembered in maritime art for her role as America’s first aircraft carrier, of sorts.

Further, on the Centennial of Naval Aviation in 2010, a replica of Ely’s Curtiss Hudson Flier was hoisted aboard the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), for old time’s sake.

Retired Navy Cmdr. Bob Coolbaugh sits in the pilot seat of a replica Curtiss Hudson Flier biplane, the first aircraft to launch from the deck of a navy ship, Nov. 15, 2010, on the flight deck of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) while in port in Norfolk, Va. The replica was built as part of celebrations for the Centennial of Naval Aviation. (DoD photo 101115-N-3885H-265 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas Hall, U.S. Navy/Released)

101115-N-3885H-265 Retired Navy Cmdr. Bob Coolbaugh sits in the pilot seat of a replica Curtiss Hudson Flier biplane, the first aircraft to launch from the deck of a navy ship, Nov. 15, 2010, on the flight deck of USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) while in port in Norfolk, Va. The replica was built as part of celebrations for the Centennial of Naval Aviation. (DoD photo 101115-N-3885H-265 by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Nicholas Hall, U.S. Navy/Released)

As for Ely, after his takeoff from Birmingham, he made a landing on a larger deck on the armored cruiser USS Pennsylvania, another important aviation first. Sadly, before 1911 was out, he died in a plane crash in Macon, Georgia. He was later enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame.

Specs:

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) Underway in 1908, possibly during trials. NH 56392

USS Birmingham (Scout Cruiser # 2) Underway in 1908, possibly during trials. NH 56392

Displacement:
3,750 long tons (3,810 t) (standard)
4,687 long tons (4,762 t) (full load)
Length:
423 ft 1 in (128.96 m) oa
420 ft (130 m) pp
Beam: 47 ft 1 in
Draft: 16 ft 9 in(mean)
Installed power:
12 × Fore River boilers
16,000 ihp
15,670 ihp (produced on Trial)
Propulsion:
2 × 4cly vertical triple expansion engines
2 × screws
Speed:
24 knots designed, 24.33 knots (Speed on Trial)
Coal: 1400 tons max. Burned 148 tons in 24 hrs at 20 knots or 31 tons per 24 hrs at 10 knots, which is sweet
Complement: 42 officers 330 enlisted
Armament:
4 × 5 in (130 mm)/50 caliber Mark 6 breech-loading rifles
6 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 caliber rapid-fire guns (6×1)
2 × 3-pounder (47 mm (1.9 in) Driggs-Schroeder saluting guns
2 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, submerged, with 8 torpedoes in the magazine
Armor:
Belt: 2 in over engineering spaces only, essentially double skinned from 3.5-feet below the waterline to 9.5-feet above
Deck: 1 mm (aft) to protect steering gear

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95 years ago today: Good trap, Darb!

An Aeromarine 39B piloted by Chevalier is seen just before it touches down on the flight deck of USS Langley (CV-1) on 26 October 1922 – the first landing aboard an American aircraft carrier. Via National Naval Aviation Museum.

An Aeromarine 39B piloted by Chevalier is seen just before it touches down on the flight deck of USS Langley (CV-1) on 26 October 1922 – the first landing aboard an American aircraft carrier. Via National Naval Aviation Museum.

Born 7 March 1889 in Providence, Rhode Island, the bespectacled Godfrey de Courcelles Chevalier graduated from the Annapolis in 1910, and volunteered for flying duty after a heroic stint on the battleship USS New Hampshire (BB 25), taking part in Naval aviation’s first fleet deployment to Guantanamo Bay in 1913 with a Curtiss A type airplane.

Appointed a Naval Air Pilot on 7 November 1915 he piloted the first plane to be launched by catapult, from the armored cruiser USS North Carolina on 12 July 1916.

Commanding the first naval air station in France, at Dunkerque during WWI, he was awarded the Distinguished Service Medal and subsequently became a Naval Aviator (Number 7) on 7 November 1918, just four days before the end of the Great War.

Godfrey "Darb" de Courcelles Chevalier, Naval Aviator No. 7, in the pilot's seat of early aircraft at Perdido Beach, Alabama, circa 1914. Hunter Brown is his passenger (may be seen bareheaded at intersection of engine block and propeller), and Charles W. Virgin (in bathing suit) is at right. NH 70285

Godfrey “Darb” de Courcelles Chevalier, Naval Aviator No. 7, in the pilot’s seat of early aircraft at Perdido Beach, Alabama, circa 1914. Hunter Brown is his passenger (may be seen bareheaded at intersection of engine block and propeller), and Charles W. Virgin (in bathing suit) is at right. NH 70285

As a pioneer in Naval Aviation, he was a part of the trans-Atlantic flight of the NC Aircraft in 1919, helped with the fitting out of the former collier USS Jupiter into the Navy’s first carrier, USS Langley.

It was aboard the inaugural flattop that Darb touched down on this day in 1922 for the first time, shown in the first image above.

Sadly, he would die from injuries received in an aviation accident in Virginia just 19 days later, ending his promising career at age 33.

The Navy named two destroyers after their first carrier-man: DD-451, a Fletcher-class destroyer sunk in 1943 and DD-805, a Gearing-class destroyer struck in 1975; as well as Chevalier Field at NAS Pensacola which remained in use until the 1990s and is now site of the barracks for the Naval Air Technical Training Center.

The wings pictured belonged to Lieutenant Commander Godfrey Chevalier, Naval Aviator Number 7, who was the first to trap on board a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. They are in the collection of the National Naval Aviation Museum

The wings pictured belonged to Lieutenant Commander Godfrey Chevalier, Naval Aviator Number 7, who was the first to trap on board a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier. They are in the collection of the National Naval Aviation Museum

Warship Wednesday July 15, 2015: The Great War’s Granite State

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 July 15, 2015: The Great War’s Granite State

Click to big up

Click to big up

Here we see the Connecticut-class battleship, USS New Hampshire (BB-25) at age 12 in the Gatun Locks of the Panama Canal. At this point of her life the young girl had already been in two real live shooting wars, had sunk a friendly battleship, and had but three years to live.

As part of the international naval race, the Connecticut-class was the top of the line in your U.S. predreadnought ships of the line. A century ago, the Connecticuts were the best and most intensely beautiful warships in the US Navy.

Connecticut herself was such an important ship that a crowd of some 30,000 civilians as well as most of the entire active battle fleet of the Atlantic Squadron was present for her commissioning in 1906. As a 15,000-ton ship with 11-inches of armor belt and carrying four 12-inch guns, she was a hoss.

USS Connecticut with a bone in her mouth on trials, 1906

USS Connecticut with a bone in her mouth on trials, 1906

Of course, the commissioning of the all-big-gun HMS Dreadnought the very same year, with her 10×12-inch guns, 21-knot top speed, and up to 12-inches of armor in a 21,000-ton package, the Connecticut was already sadly and badly obsolete.

That didn’t stop the Navy from finishing five sisters, Louisiana, Vermont, Kansas, Minnesota, and our hero, New Hampshire by 1908, spread across four east coast shipyards. Antiquated before they were even finished.

View of the ship’s bow decoration, taken while the battleship was in dry-docks at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, 6 January 1909. Note gilt-work on the eagle figurehead and associated decorations, stockless anchors in hause pipe, stocked anchor on billboard further aft, Sailors leaning on the bow bulwark, jack at half-mast, bell mounted in front of the ship's pilothouse, and barred portholes. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives / USNHC # NH 19-N-4-8-21, via Navsource. Click to very much big up

View of the ship’s bow decoration, taken while the battleship was in dry-docks at the New York Navy Yard, Brooklyn, New York, 6 January 1909. Note gilt-work on the eagle figurehead and associated decorations, stockless anchors in hawsepipe, stocked anchor on billboard further aft, Sailors leaning on the bow bulwark, jack at half-mast, bell mounted in front of the ship’s pilothouse, and barred portholes. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives / USNHC # NH 19-N-4-8-21, via Navsource. Click to very much big up

New Hampshire was laid down 1 May 1905 (just days before the pivotal Battle of Tsushima Strait., the apogee of predreadnought battlewagons). She was built alongside sistership USS Kansas at New York Shipbuilding Corporation in Camden, NJ at a cost of $3,748,000 and was commissioned 19 March 1908– then was rushed into front line service.

New Hampshire on trails note no main 12 inch guns have been fitted.

New Hampshire on trails note no main 12 inch guns have been fitted. Also note her twin military masts.

On her shakedown cruise, New Hampshire schlepped a provisional Marine regiment from Hampton Roads to Panama to protect the Canal there. You see her five sisters, all completed the year before, had set off on an around the world cruise of the Great White Fleet, and she was left holding the line until they returned and, afterwards, was one of the first ships made “combat ready” by replacing her original military masts with lattice cage masts, trading gleaming white and buff for haze gray, and landing her ornate bow crest seen above.

USS_New_Hampshire(BB-25)_NH76548

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In March 1911, she got to warm up her four 12 inch /45 Mark 5 guns as well as her extensive (20 gun!) mixed set of 7 and 8 inchers on the former battleship USS Texas. Renamed the USS San Marcos, that 1892-era 6,300-ton vessel was one of the nation’s first modern heavy warships. By 1911, she was barely considered a warship anymore by modern standards so it made sense that her 12-inches of armor plate should be tested on the New Hampshire‘s still relatively modern guns.

USS New Hampshire B-25 firing on the target ship San Marcos (ex-Texas) at Tangier Sound in Chesapeake Bay, March 1911. This photograph is of historical interest as it was one of the first gun shoots where a spotter in the cage masts was used to spot fall of shot.  Previously, each gun layer or turret captain utilizing their turret gunsights was responsible.  This new technique increased the maximum possible engagement range from 12,000 yards (11,000 m) up to about 24,000 yards (22,000 m). Also note the ship's wake and that firing a broadside did not push the ship sideways. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 73105. Photo colorized by irootoko_jr   http://blog.livedoor.jp/irootoko_jr/  Oh yeah, and CLICK TO BIG UP

USS New Hampshire B-25 firing on the target ship San Marcos (ex-Texas) at Tangier Sound in Chesapeake Bay, March 1911. This photograph is of historical interest as it was one of the first gun shoots where a spotter in the cage masts was used to spot fall of shot. Previously, each gun layer or turret captain utilizing their turret gunsights was responsible. This new technique increased the maximum possible engagement range from 12,000 yards (11,000 m) up to about 24,000 yards (22,000 m). Also note the ship’s wake and that firing a broadside did not push the ship sideways. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph # NH 73105. Photo colorized by irootoko_jr  Oh yeah, and CLICK TO BIG UP

And the 870 lbs. AP shells of New Hampshire did their job very well, destroying her above the waterline and holing her below so many times she sank at her moorings and the current was allowed to flow without hindrance from side to side.

The below images are from Navsource via USNIP, 1938, courtesy of Pieter Bakel, and are attributed to Lt.Cdr. Radford Moses, USNR who was among the inspectors of the old San Marcos after New Hampshire was done with her.

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After sinking San Marcos, New Hampshire trained mids from Annapolis and conducted peacetime cycles of training and flag waving missions abroad.

In April 1914, she was among the ships who landed shore parties to occupy Veracruz.

By the time the U.S. entered WWI, New Hampshire was relegated to train gunnery and engineering rates in Chesapeake Bay and by September 1918 was tasked with escorting convoys across the North Atlantic.

In the Hudson River, New York, 27 December 1918. Note wartime modifications, including removal of some of the seven-inch and three-inch broadside guns and fitting of blast deflection shields on the "cage" mast fire control positions. Photo courtesy of Larry Bonn. Text courtesy of USNHC # NH 2891

In the Hudson River, New York, 27 December 1918. Note wartime modifications, including removal of some of the seven-inch and three-inch broadside guns and fitting of blast deflection shields on the “cage” mast fire control positions. Photo courtesy of Larry Bonn. Text courtesy of USNHC # NH 2891

Then came magic carpet rides bringing Doughboys back from ‘Over There’ through the first part of 1919.

Lloyd Brown, a 104-year-old World War I veteran takes a moment to pause as he remembers being in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard with his ship the day WW I ended, at his home in Charlotte Hall, Maryland, on November 9, 2005. Brown remembered Armistice Day in 1918 as few, ever so few, veterans can. "For the servicemen there were lots of hugs and kisses," he recalls Brown, a teenage seaman aboard the battleship USS New Hampshire when the fighting stopped. "We were so happy that the war was over." Brown added, "There's not too many of us around any more." An estimated 2 million Americans served in Europe after the U.S. entered the war in 1917. Lloyd Brown passed away in April of 2007, at the age of 105. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner)

Lloyd Brown, a 104-year-old World War I veteran takes a moment to pause as he remembers being in the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard with his ship the day WW I ended, at his home in Charlotte Hall, Maryland, on November 9, 2005. Brown remembered Armistice Day in 1918 as few, ever so few, veterans can. “For the servicemen there were lots of hugs and kisses,” he recalls Brown, a teenage seaman aboard the battleship USS New Hampshire when the fighting stopped. “We were so happy that the war was over.” Brown added, “There’s not too many of us around any more.” An estimated 2 million Americans served in Europe after the U.S. entered the war in 1917. Lloyd Brown passed away in April of 2007, at the age of 105. (AP Photo/Chris Gardner)

Peacetime service after the war for the relatively young ship (she was but a decade old) was more of the same midshipmen cruises and flag-waving.

On Nov. 10, 1923, in one of the saddest days for any naval buff, all six of the Connecticuts were stricken from the Naval List and very soon after scrapped in accordance with the terms of the Washington Naval Treaty.

By the end of 1924, the entire class was nothing but so much re-purposed steel, although it’s likely that some of her smaller mounts were retained in storage and used during WWII to arm merchantmen.

Perhaps the only tangible piece of the old battleship New Hampshire is her 72-piece silver service and bell. Expertly made by New Hampshire’s W.B. Durgin Co. and presented to the PCS in 1908, it is currently on display at the New Hampshire Historical Society in Concord.

Via Robert Dole, Maritime Quest.

Via Robert Dole, Maritime Quest.

Her bell is preserved at Portsmouth. Image by Jim Cerny

Her bell is preserved at Portsmouth. Image by Jim Cerny

Specs:

uss-bb-25-new-hampshire-1908-battleship

Displacement: 16,000 long tons (16,000 t)
Length: 456 ft. 4 in (139.09 m)
Beam: 76 ft. 10 in (23.42 m)
Draft: 24 ft. 6 in (7.47 m)
Propulsion: 12 Babcock & Wilcox boilers
16,500 ihp (12,300 kW)
Speed: 18 kn (21 mph; 33 km/h)
Complement: 827 officers and men
Armament:
4 × 12 in (305 mm)/45 cal Mark 5 guns
8 × 8 in (203 mm)/45 cal guns
12 × 7 in (178 mm)/45 cal guns
20 × 3 in (76 mm)/50 cal guns
12 × 3 pounder guns
4 × 1 pounder guns
4 × 21 in (530 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor:
Belt: 6–11 in (152–279 mm)
Barbettes: 6–10 in (152–254 mm)
Turret Main: 8–12 in (203–305 mm)
Turret secondary: 7 in (178 mm)
Conning tower: 9 in (229 mm)

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Warship Wednesday March 25, 2015 the Granite Ship of the Line

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 25, 2015 the Granite Ship of the Line

grante state new hampshire

Here we see the once-majestic old ship of the line USS Granite State as she appeared in a much more humble state towards the end of her career. When this image was taken, she was the last such ship afloat on the Naval List.

During the War of 1812, the U.S. Navy gave a good account of itself, especially for its size, and its frigates such as Constitution and Constellation, proved their weight in gold repeatedly.

With the end of the war, the U.S. Navy had to be revitalized and as such, “An Act for the Gradual Increase of the Navy of the United States,” was approved 29 April 1816. This provided for nine larger 74-gun ships of the line and funding of $1 million per year for a period of 8 years to see these craft completed. These were to be monster ships capable of taking on just about anything the modern European powers could send across the Atlantic in single ship combat.

Do not let the name fool you, most of the American ‘74s generally carried more like 80-90 guns. Alabama‘s sistership, USS North Carolina was actually pierced (had gunports) for 102 guns. Another, ’74 sister, USS Pennsylvania carried 16 8-inch shell guns and 104 32-pounders.

Some 196-feet long, these triple-deckers were exceptionally wide at 53-feet, giving them a very tubby 1:4 length-to-beam ratio and were very deep in hold ships, drawing over 30 feet full draft when fully loaded with over 800 officers, men and Marines and shipping a pretty respectable 2600-tons displacement.

James Guy Evans (United States, born England, circa 1810–1860) U.S. Ships of the Line “Delaware” and “North Carolina” and Frigates “Brandywine” and “Constellation,” circa 1835–60 Oil on canvas, 31¾ x 44⅛ inches New-York Historical Society; The Alabama was the sistership to the two '74s shown here, Delaware and North Carolina, though she never shipped in this configuration.

James Guy Evans (United States, born England, circa 1810–1860) U.S. Ships of the Line “Delaware” and “North Carolina” and Frigates “Brandywine” and “Constellation,” circa 1835–60 Oil on canvas, 31¾ x 44⅛ inches New-York Historical Society; The Alabama was the sistership to the two ’74s shown here, Delaware and North Carolina, though she never shipped in this configuration.

These nine ships it was decided would be named Columbus, Alabama, Delaware, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Virginia and all were nominally completed by 1825.

I say nominally because by the time they were complete, the Navy had run out of money to pay for things like cannons, sails, rigging and crews so some of these ships were left “in the stocks” on land until cash could be freed.

Alabama was one of the most neglected, although President Madison himself visited her while under construction at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

While most of her sisters joined the fleet eventually in the 1830s, although some with much less firepower than designed, Alabama was still on land when the Civil War started.

She was a ship built, at least initially, in the period just after the War of 1812 and as such was constructed with fine live oak timbers from the South and fitted with copper spikes, sheeting, and deck nails made by the Paul Revere and Sons Copper Company of Massachusetts. Revere himself in fact, was still alive when his firm won the contract in 1816.

Doughty, the man who literally designed the early U.S. Navy

Doughty, the man who literally designed the early U.S. Navy

Alabama was designed by no less a naval architect than William Doughty, the same nautical genius who was responsible for the USS President, USS Independence, and USS United States 74s, Peacock class, Erie class, Java and Guerrier, North Carolina 74s class, Brandywine 44s Class, brigs, revenue cutters, and the Baltimore Clipper model so she had a good pedigree.

It was as an ode to this impressive lineage that the old girl was finally completed during the war. Her original name, now belonging to a succeeded southern state, was somewhat too ironic so she was renamed New Hampshire on 28 October 1863. She then took to the water for the first time at launching on 23 April 1864 and proceeded to fitting out.

The thing is, the U.S. Navy of 1864 did not need a classic 1816-designed ’74 in its battle line. In fact, the old girl, with provision for sail only, was an anachronism in a fleet increasingly populated with steam and iron monitors equipped with rifled guns. Therefore, she was armed much more simply with a quartet of 100-pounder Parrott rifles and a half dozen 9-inch Dahlgren smoothbore guns, so ten pieces rather than 74, but hey, at least she was afloat!

As she looked before her roof over

Commissioned 13 May 1864 at Portsmouth, just 48 years after she was authorized, she proceeded to Port Royal South Carolina where she spent the last nine months of the Civil War as a depot and store ship, her huge below deck berthing areas designed for up to and empty cannon ports proving just the thing to make her a floating warehouse.

It was while at Port Royal, a photographer who took a number of iconic images of her crew visited her.

USS New Hampshire in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1864 note the boarding cutlasses on wall.

Believed to be taken on the USS New Hampshire in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1864 note the boarding cutlasses on wall.

USS New Hampshire in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1864 powder monkey same cutlasses same cannon

USS New Hampshire in Charleston, South Carolina, in 1864 powder monkey, same cutlasses same cannon

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After the war ended, she was put out to pasture and sailed to Norfolk, once more the headquarters of the U.S. Navy, where she served as a receiving ship (again, lots of unused hammock space on a ’74 with less than a dozen guns) for more than a decade.

It was then that the Navy figured out a better use for the grand old girl.

New Hampshire as apprentice ship at Newport

New Hampshire as apprentice ship at Newport

According to the Naval War College Museum Blog,

In 1881 the USS New Hampshire became the flagship for Commodore Stephen B. Luce’s Apprentice Training Program in Newport. Luce and others established an apprentice system to formally educate young boys and improve the overall quality of naval recruits. The boys needed parental permission and criminals were not allowed to apply. New Hampshire, docked at ‘South Point’ on Coasters Harbor Island, was the home of these boys for a six-month period before each was assigned to a training ship. In nearby buildings the teenagers were instructed in seamanship and gunnery as well as reading, writing, arithmetic, and history.

New Hampshire was not alone in this ultimate fate. By the late 19th century, many of the famous old sailing ships of the Navy to include the USS Constitution, Farragut’s USS Hartford, and the fellow Doughty-designed ’74 USS Independence were still in daily use as roofed-over receiving ships. Their gun ports were replaced by windows, their sails and riggings largely trashed, and their armament replaced by training sets with powder enough for harbor salutes.

The Newport experiment continued for over a decade until, decommissioned 5 June 1892 but still on the Naval List, she was loaned to the New York Naval Militia as a stationary training ship based in New York City.

newhampFor the next 28 years, the mighty ship of the line endured at her post in the Hudson River where she participated in the 1892 Columbia Ship parade as well as the 1909 Hudson Fulton parade and trained thousands of naval reservists that went on to serve in both the Spanish American War and WWI. During the flare up with Spain, she was armed and made ready to repel an assault by wayward Spanish cruisers on the Big Apple that never came.

In that time, she lost her New Hampshire name (let’s be honest, it was never really hers anyway, she was a Dixie girl) to the new battleship BB-25 and was renamed Granite State, 30 November 1904.

She was the floating armory for the 1st Battalion, New York Naval Militia, who had a pretty good football team.

According to NYNM records, she “moored at first at East 27th Street & the East River (In 1898 during Spanish-American War it was used as the Naval Militia Receiving Ship); then at Whitestone, finally from 1912 at West 97th Street (to W. 94th) on the Hudson River. The barracks were on the dock side”

Bayonet drill 1898. Note the very Civil War style dress of the pre-Span Am War New York Naval Militia. At the time it was cheap surplus and Bannerman's downtown sold it by the pound.

Bayonet drill 1898. Note the very Civil War style dress of the pre-Span Am War New York Naval Militia. At the time it was cheap surplus and Bannerman’s downtown sold it by the pound.

In April 1913 she suffered a topside fire that caused more than $3800 in damages, which is about $95K in today’s cash.

098615711In 1918, she again chopped from NYNM service to active duty, performing duties as a U.S. Navy Hospital Ship in New York for the duration of the War. Enlisting on her deck at the time was a local boy, S1C Humphrey Bogart, who went on to star in a few movies later in life.

One of the Granite State's toughguys

One of the Granite State’s toughguys

On July 21, 1918, she suffered her only known death during warfare when John James Malone, Seaman, 2nd class, USNRF, drowned during a training evolution.

Moving back to the militia after the war, with 105 years on her hull she suffered yet another fire, this time with a near catastrophic loss.

Oil, pooling around the ship from a leaking 6-inch Standard Oil Company pipe, was ignited from the backfire of a passing Captains gig. The resulting fire destroyed the gig, a three story naval office, storehouse, and the Granite State. Low water pressure on shore contributed to the loss. However, before the crew abandoned ship the vessels powder magazine was flooded, preventing an explosion that would have devastated the surrounding area. Fireboats pumped tons of water into the flaming hulk until it settled into the mud. Listing sharply to port only the mooring chains kept the vessel from capsizing.

Here we see the

Here we see the “Granite State,” sunk and listing, after burning at her pier in the Hudson River on May 23, 1921. The Granite State was formerly the USS New Hampshire, built in 1825, launched in 1864, and served as part of the South Atlantic Blockading Squadron in the Civil War. (Eugene de Salignac/Courtesy NYC Municipal Archives)

A total loss, she was stricken from the Naval List, and her hulk was sold for $5000 for salvage 19 August 1921 to the Mulhollund Machinery Corp. Fastened and sheathed with over 100 tons of copper, it was estimated in a New York Times article then that $70,000 of salvageable material could be removed from the hulk. Two, five ton anchors along with 100 tons of chain were still aboard and it was rumored there were three gold spikes in the ship’s keel from her original 1816 construction.

She refloated in July 1922 and was taken in tow to the Bay of Fundy. The towline parted during a storm, she again caught fire for a third time while under tow (!) and sank off Half Way Rock in Massachusetts Bay.

Wreck of the Granite State (U.S.S. New Hampshire) by Charles Hopkinson, 1922 Cape Ann Museum  http://www.capeannmuseum.org/collections/objects/wreck-of-the-granite-state-uss-new-hampshire/

Wreck of the Granite State (U.S.S. New Hampshire) by Charles Hopkinson, 1922 Cape Ann Museum

The wreck’s remains on Graves Island, Manchester, Mass, just off east side of island are well documented and are in very shallow water (20-30 feet) making it an easy dive. In fact, the USS New Hampshire Exempt Site is on the list of Marine Protected Areas maintained by NOAA.

The copper bits, harkening back to Paul Revere, have been collected by local Gloucester divers for years, are held in the collection of the Gloucester Marine Heritage Center, and at least one 7-inch spike is now aboard the current Virginia-class attack submarine USS New Hampshire (SSN-778) commissioned in Portsmouth in 2008.

Spikes and recovered copper wear from New Hampshire

Spikes and recovered copper wear from New Hampshire

Speaking of copper bolts and pins, at least 22-pounds worth of these were collected in the early 1970s by Boston area scuba divers and melted down to form the Boston Cup, which is used by area schools as a liberty trophy in drum corps competitions. Other spikes and flotsam from the NH has been floating around on the collectors market for years.

Today in Newport, where the old girl remained pier side for decades, there is New Hampshire road and New Hampshire field on board the Naval Station named in her honor rather than the state’s and the base museum houses a number of items from the ship.

Specs

Displacement 2,633 t.
Length 203′ 8″
Beam 51′ 4″
Draft 21′ 6″
Propulsion: Sail, Square Rigged, 3 masts
Speed As fast as the wind could carry her
Complement unknown as completed, 820 as designed
Armament (as designed) 74 guns, mix of 42 and 32 pounders
Armament (as completed)
Four 100-pdrs
Six 9″ Parrot guns

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/

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.

I’m a member, so should you be!

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