Tag Archive | warship wednesday

Warship Wednesday, June 20, 2018: The last of the drummers

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

Warship Wednesday, June 20, 2018: The last of the drummers

Bundesarchiv_bild_101ii-mw-4260-37

Here we see the German Type IXB U-boat U-123 of the Kriegsmarine as she is returning from a patrol to the pens at Lorient, 8 June 1941. Of the 14 Type IXB’s completed by DeSchiMAG AG Weser of Bremen, all but this hull was destroyed during the war, and, amazingly, the subject of our tale this hump day also had a skipper who made it out alive and only just sounded his last depth this month, aged 105. But we are getting ahead of ourselves.

The IXB series, a subset of the mammoth 194 Type IX unterseeboots built for the German Navy, was an improved model with an increased range– capable of traveling some 12,000 nm at 10-knots on their MAN diesel engines when running on the surface. This is up from their half-sister’s 10K range. Not bad for a 1,170-ton boat that just went 251-feet in length. Still, they packed 22 torpedoes inside the hull and a relatively impressive 10.5 cm/45 (4.1″) SK C/32 naval gun just forward of the bow, with 180 rounds stowed for its use.

U-123’s 105mm deck gun crew practicing Jan 1942 Photo by Alwin Tolle Propagandakompanien der Wehrmacht Bundesarchiv Bild 101II-MW-4006-31

U-123 was ordered 15 December 1937 as Werke 955 from the yard, almost two years before WWII started, but was only completed 30 May 1940, while France was teetering on collapse and Europe had been in open conflict for nine months. Her first skipper was Kptlt. Karl-Heinz Moehle, a later Knights Cross winner and U-Boat Ace who would conn her for a full year. Following shake down and training which lasted until September, Moehle took U-123 on 4 patrols (126 days at sea) from her forward base in Lorient on the French Atlantic coast. One proved especially eventful– the attack on convoy OB-244 which sank five ships in five hours.

On 19 May 1941, Kplt. Reinhard Hardegen, formerly of the Type IID boat U-147, assumed command and soon took U-123 on her fifth patrol, off the coast of West Africa, which scratched five Allied ships and extensively damaged the British auxiliary cruiser HMS Aurania. A former pilot/observer who transferred to the submarine corps after a crash left him with chronic injuries, Hardegen seemed to have proved himself with the patrol. Admiral Karl Dönitz, Hitler’s sub boss, detailed the lucky (and long-legged) U-123 and her newly-successful skipper as one of the first five boats to bring the war to America’s Eastern seaboard via Unternehmen Paukenschlag (Operation Drumbeat, or more correctly, “roll on the kettledrums”) just days after Pearl Harbor brought the Great Neutral into the conflict.

Sortieing from Lorient two days before Christmas, 1941, U-123 drew first blood in the Americas when on 12 January 1942 she torpedoed and sank the unescorted British steamship Cyclops, inaugurating Paukenschlag and commencing a “blitz” against coastal shipping between New York Harbor and the Outer Banks.

Four days later the submarine shrugged off an air attack off New York and just three days after that narrowly escaped being rammed by a giant 16,000-ton Norwegian whale factory ship, but in a two-week period sank eight Allied merchant ships– Norness (at 9,577-tons, her biggest prize), the big tanker Coimbra (more on her later), Norvana, City of Atlanta, Culebra, Pan Norway and the freighter Ciltvaira— along a brightly-lit seacoast unprepared for modern war.

The accomplishment earned Hardegen the signal “An den Paukenschläger Hardegen. Bravo! Gut gepaukt. Dönitz” (For the drum-beater Hardegen. Well done! Good beating) from his boss, and a Knights Cross. The patrol ended only because the boat was out of deck gun ammo and torpedoes.

The attack on Coimbra:

The patrol was so epic to the Germans that the tale of U-123 was used in the feature-length UFA-produced propaganda film U-Boote westwärts, with some scenes filmed aboard the vessel and featuring members of the crew.

Meanwhile, back in the U.S., the new and startling offensive along the Gulf Stream sparked a panic wave of the Navy and Coast Guard arming everything that could float to provide a modicum of coastal escort and sub chasing, and FDR called for an old WWI tactic– that of creating fake tramp steamers who were heavily-armed auxiliary cruisers (Q-boats) intended to draw in a submarine with the disguise and then slaughter it with a sucker punch.

As Hardegen and U-123 returned to France for more diesel, schnitzel and ordnance, the U.S. Navy bought the old (1912) 6,000-ton Bull Lines steamer SS Evelyn, installed sound gear, armed her, and commissioned her as the Q-ship USS Asterion (AK-100, a cargo ship identification number to complete the subterfuge) while her sister, SS Carolyn, was given the same treatment as USS Atik (AK-101).

With a blistering speed of just 9-knots, these ships were heavily outfitted with a quartet of concealed 4-inch guns, a battery of .50-caliber machine guns, some WWI-era Lewis guns and some half-dozen depth charge projectors. By early March, the two Yankee Q-ships were ready for war after a conversion that lasted about three weeks.

Caption: Carolyn underway in an undated image. (Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. Photograph, Atik (AK-101) Ship History File, History and Archives Division, Naval History and Heritage Command)

According to the Naval History Command:

At the outset, all connected with the program apparently harbored the view that neither ship “was expected to last longer than a month after commencement of [her] assigned duty.” Atik’s holds were packed with pulpwood, a somewhat mercurial material. If dry, “an explosive condition might well develop” and, if wet, “rot, with resultant fire might well take place.” Despite these disadvantages, pulpwood was selected as the best obtainable material to assure “floatability.”

Enter U-123‘s eight war patrol (fourth under Hardegen) and on 22 March she sank the U.S.-flagged tanker SS Muskogee followed quickly by the British tanker Empire Steel off the coast of Bermuda. Then, on 27 March, the submarine met the Q-Ship Carolyn/Atik, who was just three days into her own first war patrol.

It did not go well.

According to DANFS:

The U-boat, on the surface, began stalking Atik at 2200, and at 0037 on 27 March 1942 fired one torpedo at a range of 700 yards that struck the ship on her port side, under the bridge. Fire broke out immediately, and the ship began to assume a slight list, the crippled “freighter” sending out a terse SOS: “S.S. Carolyn, torpedo attack, burning forward, not bad.” As U-123 proceeded around under her victim’s stern, Kapitänleutnant Hardegen noted one boat being lowered on the starboard side and men abandoning ship.

After U-123 turned to starboard, “Carolyn” gathered steerageway. She steered a course paralleling the enemy’s by turning to starboard as well, then dropped her concealment, opening fire from her main and secondary batteries. The first 4-inch shell splashed short of the U-boat, as she made off presenting a small target; the shots that followed were off in deflection. Heavy .50-caliber machine gun fire, though, ricocheted around the U-boat’s decks as she bent on speed to escape the trap into which Hardegen “like a callow beginner [his own words]” had fallen. One bullet mortally wounded Fähnrich zur See Rudi Holzer, on U-123’s bridge.

Gradually, the U-boat pulled out of range behind the cover of the smoke screen emitted by her straining diesels, and her captain assessed the damage. As Hardegen later recorded, “We had been incredibly lucky.” U-123 submerged and again approached her adversary. At 0229, the U-boat loosed a torpedo into Atik’s machinery spaces. Satisfied that that blow would prove to be the coup de grace, U-123 stood off to await developments as Atik settled by the bow, her single screw now out of the water.

Once again, Atik’s men could be seen embarking in her boats. U-123 surfaced at 0327, to finish off the feisty Q-ship. Suddenly, at 0350, a cataclysmic explosion blew Atik to pieces. Ten minutes later, U-123 buried her only casualty, Fähnrich zur See Holzer, who had died of his wounds. Atik’s entire crew perished, either in the blast that destroyed the ship or during the severe gale that lashed the area soon after the brave ship disintegrated.

The next morning, a USAAF bomber dispatched to Atik’s last reported position found nothing.

Atik‘s sister, Asterion, plied the coastal waters and managed to pick up several survivors from other stricken ships but, on the orders of Adm. King himself, was reclassified in 1944 as a weather service ship (WAK-123), never once being able to mix it up with a U-boat of her own to avenge Atik‘s loss over the course of six Q-ship patrols.

Survivor is brought ashore from USS Broome (DD-210) at Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia, on 20 April 1942. Alcoa Guide had been sunk by gunfire of the German submarine U-123 on 16 April. Broome rescued 27 of her survivors on 19 April. The last survivor of the ship was not picked up until 18 May. Six of Alcoa Guide’s crew lost their lives as a result of this attack. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Catalog #: 80-G-3882

U-123 went on to sink a further five merchantmen and damage three others on her 8th patrol, including the high-profile attack on the tanker SS Gulfamerica off Jacksonville beach on a breezy April night in front of a packed, and shocked audience.

“Many people watched the flames fill the sky about four miles off shore. Others who didn’t see the explosion flocked to the beach over the weekend to catch a glimpse of the wreckage. The bow of the ship bobbed on the surface for six days before finally sinking below the waves,” noted Jacksonville.com on the 75th anniversary of Gulfamerica‘s loss– the event still reverberating across generations.

Speaking of reverberations, George Betts, the father of Muskogee‘s skipper, reached out to Hardegen long after the war in 1986 and struck up an unlikely friendship with the U-boat ace of the deep. Hardegen provided the man with a photo of his late father, who he had last seen on a lifeboat. He told Betts that he gave the survivors bottled water, rations and detailed instructions about how to get to the nearest land, but sadly they never made it. Still, Betts reportedly held no grudge, to which the aging German submariner remarked, “This personal contact with men was one of the moments that shows me that this should be the last war.”

U-123 in front of barracks ship in Lorient, Feb 1942. Photo by Dietrich, Propagandakompanien Der Wermacht. Bundesarchiv-Bild 101ii-mw-3

At the end of U-123‘s eighth patrol, Hardegen was relieved and spent the rest of the war in training assignments due to poor health. His famous submarine would go on to complete four further patrols under a new skipper–Oblt. Horst von Schroeter–which accounted for five more Allied merchant ships and the British submarine, HMS P-615 before she was scuttled at Lorient on 19 August 1944 to prevent her use to advancing U.S. forces that had landed in France after D-Day. According to U-boat.net, she accounted for over 200,000 tons of Allied shipping, including two warships.

The scuttling was not too extensive as she was quickly patched up and went on to serve the French Navy as Blaison (Q165) for another 15 years, only scrapping in 1959.

Under French (and NATO) colors

Of the 48 German submarines turned over to the Allied post-war for further use, she and U-510, a Type IXC half-sister renamed Bouan, were the only ones taken over by France.

The other 13 members of U-123‘s class were not so lucky and were largely destroyed at sea in encounters that left their crews lost to the deep. Sisters U-65, U-105, U-107, U-109, and U-124 were lost with all hands. U-104 and U-122 have both been missing since 1940. Documents and Enigma machines famously captured from sister U-110 before she sank with 15 of her crew helped Bletchley Park code-breakers solve Reservehandverfahren, a reserve German hand cipher. The rest were lost with fewer casualties, but scratched off Donitz’s naval list all the same.

Hardegen, who spent more than 18 months in a British POW camp after 1945, went on after the war to become a founder of Bremen’s Christian Democrats party (the same port city where all the Type XIIB’s including U-123 were built) and serve on the city’s diet for over 30 years. During the same period, he became an oil company executive, which is ironic due to his past work in tankers.

He died last week, aged 105, reportedly the last of the U-boat skippers.

There are still reverberations from his Drumbeat.

This week the U.S. Coast Guard announced they have contracted to conduct an underwater assessment of the tanker Coimbra, set to take place in July over concerns that the rusting tanker has a potential to have an environmental impact on the New York coastline.

“We have assembled a team including members of the Navy Supervisor of Salvage, the Coast Guard Academy Science Department, the Coast Guard Atlantic Strike Team, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and New York Department of Environmental Conservation to provide consultation for this assessment,” said Capt. Kevin Reed, commander Sector Coast Guard Sector Long Island Sound. “This assessment will help determine any potential environmental threat the tanker poses. Our top priorities are safety of the public and protection of the marine environment.”

And the drums still beat…

Specs:


Displacement:
1,051 tonnes (1,034 long tons) surfaced
1,178 tonnes (1,159 long tons) submerged
Length:
76.50 m (251 ft) o/a
58.75 m (192 ft 9 in) pressure hull
Beam:
6.76 m (22 ft 2 in) o/a
4.40 m (14 ft 5 in) pressure hull
Draught: 4.70 m (15 ft 5 in)
Installed power:
4,400 PS (3,200 kW; 4,300 bhp) (diesels)
1,000 PS (740 kW; 990 shp) (electric)
Propulsion:
2 shafts
2 × diesel engines
2 × electric motors double-acting electric motors, 1,000 PS (990 shp; 740 kW)
Range:
12,000 nmi (22,000 km; 14,000 mi) at 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph) surfaced
64 nmi (119 km; 74 mi)at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph) submerged
Test depth: 230 m (750 ft)
Complement: 4 officers, 44 enlisted
Armament:
6 × torpedo tubes (4 bow, 2 stern)
22 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedoes
1 × 10.5 cm (4.1 in) SK C/32 deck gun (180 rounds)
1 × 3.7 cm (1.5 in) SK C/30 AA gun
1 × twin 2 cm FlaK 30 AA 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/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 6, 2018: The eternal Nordic shark of Sword Beach

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

Warship Wednesday, June 6, 2018: The eternal Nordic shark of Sword Beach

Via the Norwegian military museum (Forsvarets Museer) MMU.941853

Here we see the British-built S-class destroyer (Jageren in Norwegian parlance) His Norwegian Majesty’s Ship KNM (Kongelige Norske Marine) Svenner (RN Pennant G03) of the Free Norwegian Sjøforsvaret in 1944, fresh from the yard and ready to fight. Svenner is deeply associated with today’s date. However, before we can talk about her service, let us discuss the Royal Norwegian Navy in WWII.

The Scandinavian neutral had managed to sit precariously on the fence in the Great War and indeed was a peaceful country who had last seen the elephant during the Napoleonic Wars, skirmishing at first with the British and then the Swedes for independence. Some 130-years of peace behind it, the Norwegian Navy in April 1940 was again an armed neutral, ready to take on all-comers to preserve the homeland. Then came the invasion.

German cruiser Blücher in Drøbak Sound, April 1940 outside of the Norwegian capital Oslo

Two months of tough resistance against German invaders while reluctantly accepting Allied intervention left the Norwegian Navy covered in glory (such as when the tiny 200-ton gunboat KNM Pol III stood alone– briefly– against the mighty heavy cruiser Blücher, the heavy cruiser Lützow, the light cruiser Emden, three torpedo boats and eight minesweepers carrying 2,000 troops to Oslo, or when the ancient and nearly condemned coastal monitors KNM Eidsvold and Norge attempted to stop the Germans at Narvik), but was largely left sunk at the bottom of the fjords they defended.

When the endgame came, a dozen or so small ships and 500 officers and men made it to British waters to carry on the war. These included such Edwardian relics as the destroyer Draug (commissioned in 1908!) and the newer Sleipner, as well as fishery patrol ships such as the Nordkapp, which all soon got to work for the Allies, guarding sea lanes, escorting convoys and protecting the UK and Allied-occupied Iceland from potential Axis invasion.

The mighty KNM Draug, with lines that look right out of the Spanish-American War. MMU.945456

With the small core of exiled prewar Norwegian sailors, an influx of Norwegians living abroad and transfers from the country’s huge merchant fleet, the exiled Free Norwegian Navy was able to rebuild abroad. Soon, the old Draug was in full-time use as a training and support vessel while small trawlers and whalers provided yeoman service as the “Shetland Bus” regularly shuttling spies, SOE operatives and Norwegian resistance agents into occupied Scandinavia and downed Allied aircrew out over the course of some 200 trips. As these operations expanded, the Brits began transferring at first surplus (five ex-Wickes-class tin cans transferred originally to the Brits from the USN under the bases for destroyer deal) and then new-built naval vessels (Flower and Castle-class corvettes, motor torpedo boats, Hunt-class destroyer escorts, and later two S-class destroyers) to the growing Norwegian fleet to perform convoy escort missions.

That’s where Svenner comes in.

The 16 S/T-class destroyers were long ships (363-feet) but thin (just 35-feet) giving them a 10:1 length-to-beam ratio, making them a knife on the water. Tipping the scales at just 2,500~ tons, they were slender stilettos made for stabbing through the waves at nearly 37-knots on a pair of Parsons geared turbines. Armed with a quartet of 4.7-inch guns for surface actions, U-boat busting depth charges and an eight-pack of anti-ship torpedo tubes, they were ready for a fight. Class leader HMS Saumarez (G12) was completed in July 1943, right in time for the Battle of the Atlantic, and the 15 ships that followed her were made ready to go into harm’s way as soon as they could leave the builders’ yards. Of those, one, HMS Success, was transferred on completion to the Free Norwegian forces on 26 August 1943 as KNM Stord (G26), and soon got to chasing the Germans, becoming engaged with the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst just four months after transfer.

Stord, note her Norwegian jack. MMU.945852

One of Success/Stord‘s sisterships, laid down as HMS Shark, transferred to the Norwegians 11 March 1944 on completion and was named KNM Svenner after a Norwegian island. Her skipper, LCDR Tore Holthe, was a prewar Norwegian surface fleet officer and veteran of Stord‘s action against Scharnhorst.

Svenner’s officers, with Holthe center. MMU.945739

Just weeks after her commissioning, Svenner was attached to Bombardment Force S of the Eastern Task Force of the Normandy invasion fleet assembling off Plymouth. Her mission would be to help smother the German beach defenses during the assault on Sword Beach, where British and Canadian forces would land.

Jageren SVENNER (G03) babord bredside MMU.941527

SVENNER (ex SHARK) (FL 22742) Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205174978

On the night of the 5th, Svenner, along with the frigates HMS Rowley and Holmes, helped escort the cruisers HMS Arethusa, Danae, and Frobisher, as well as the Free Polish cruiser ORP Dragon, monitor HMS Roberts and the small craft of the 40th Minesweeping Flotilla from Plymouth across the Channel to Sword Beach, where the famous battleships HMS Ramillies, HMS Warspite and ships of Force D stood by for heavy lifting.

At 0500 on 6 June 1944, Jutland veteran Warspite was the first ship in the entire 4,000-strong Allied fleet on any beach to open fire, hitting a German artillery battery at Villerville from some 13 miles offshore.

Hamilton, John Alan; D-Day Naval Bombardment: HMS ‘Ramillies’, HMS ‘Warspite’ and Monitor HMS ‘Roberts’ Bombard the Beaches; IWM (Imperial War Museums); http://www.artuk.org/artworks/d-day-naval-bombardment-hms-ramillies-hms-warspite-and-monitor-hms-roberts-bombard-the-beaches-7683

As the Svenner, Rowley, and Holmes stood by to allow the minesweepers to clear a channel for the bombardment ships to close with the beach while making smoke to obscure the capital ships, three German torpedo boats out of La Havre– Jaguar, Møwe and T28— appeared at 28-knots to conduct a strike against the force, letting lose some 17 torpedoes in all. It was the only effective Kriegsmarine resistance on D-Day.

The torpedo spread came close to ruining Force D, with steel fish passing within feet of both Ramillies and Warspite. The only victim of the German torps: our brave new Norwegian destroyer, who tried in vain to turn from the spread but came up short.

HNoMS Svenner breaking up & sinking after being struck by two torpedoes

Svenner was hit amidships at 0530 by one or possibly two torpedoes and broke in half, sinking quickly after an explosion under her boiler room. Lost were 32 Norwegian and a British signalman out of her crew of 219. Most of the crew, which included some RN ratings, were rescued by nearby ships and returned to the war in days.

Still, the pair of battleships were saved, and they covered the invasion on Sword with heavy naval gunfire. Warspite fired over 300 shells on June 6 alone before heading back to Portsmouth for more rounds and powder and returning to plaster targets on Utah Beach and Gold Beach. Her sidekick Ramillies heaved an impressive 1,002 15-inch shells in that week, hitting not only defensive strongpoints and batteries but also massing German armor well inland and enemy railway marshaling yards near Caen. The work by those two brawlers on D Day and the hours afterward is well-remembered.

The landing at Sword involved the British Army’s I Corps made up of the 3rd Infantry Division and 79nd Armoured Division along with hardlegs of the 1st Special Service Brigade (which also contained Free French and Belgian Commandos) and No. 41 (Royal Marine) Commando against the German 716th Infantry Division and Caen-based 21st Panzer Div (which launched the only major German counterattack of D-Day.) In all, over 680 Allied troops were killed on Sword alone on 6 June.

SWORD beach – 6 Jun 1944. This image is taken from a Royal Air Force Mustang aircraft of II (Army Cooperation) Squadron. IWM

THE BRITISH ARMY IN THE NORMANDY CAMPAIGN 1944 (B 5191) Three Beach Group troops look out from Queen beach,Sword Beach, littered with beached landing craft and wrecked vehicles and equipment, 7 June 1944. A partially submerged D7 armoured bulldozer can be seen on the right. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205205835

Besides Svenner, the Norwegians were well-represented at Normandy, with her sistership Stord present elsewhere on Sword on D-Day, hitting a German battery by Riva Bella with no less that 362 of her 4.7-inch shells.

Maleri av invasjonen i Normandie og jageren STORD MMU.943486

The Norwegian-manned Hunt-class destroyer escort KNM Glaisdale was at Juno Beach and fired more than 400 rounds that day at German positions near St. Aubain while the similarly-crewed corvettes Acanthus, Eglantine and Rose were at Utah Beach. The plucky 130-foot fisheries vessel Nordkapp was there too, as an escort and rescue vessel. Seven Norwegian merchant ships were packed with troops and supplies that day, including some 200 men of the 29th U.S. Infantry Division aboard the SS Lysland off Omaha Beach. Another 43 Norwegian merchant ships were in the follow-on wave starting June 7, including three that gave their last as mole ships.

For more on the vital contribution to the war by the 1,081 ships of the Norwegian merchant service (Nortraship) which saw an incredible 570 vessels sunk and some 3734 men taken down to their last across both the Atlantic and Pacific, please check out the excellent site dedicated to these war-sailors.

The Norwegians went on to purchase Stord from the UK government and kept her in service for another decade, only scrapping her in Belgium in 1959. Of note, she returned Vice Adm. Edvard Danielsen, commander of the Norwegian Navy, home from the UK in 1945. On that occasion, the following signal was sent from RN Adm. Sir Henry Moore:

To: H Nor MS Stord
From: C-in-C HF AFLOAT CONFIDENTIAL BASEGRAM
For Admiral Danielsen

On your return to Norway in H Nor MS Stord I should be grateful if you will convey to Lieutenant Commander Øi and to the officers and ships company my keen appreciation of the honour I feel in having had them under my command in the Home Fleet.

Their efficiency and their fine fighting spirit have been the admiration of us all and although we are glad that they now should be reaping the reward of their contribution to the liberation of Europe we shall miss them in the Home Fleet. We hope that some of us may soon have the pleasure to renew our friendship in Norwegian port. To you personally I send my warm regards and sincere thanks for your helpful cooperation with me at the Admiralty: Good luck and happiness to you all.

By the end of the war, the Royal Norwegian Naval Fleet (outside of Norway) consisted of 52 combatant ships and 7,500 officers, petty officers and men. For more on the Free Norwegian Navy in WWII, click here for an English translation compiled by the Norwegian Naval Museum.

As a footnote, the only other S/T-class destroyer lost during the war was also claimed on Sword Beach. HMS Swift (G46) struck and detonated mine off the beachhead and sank after breaking in two on 24 June with the loss of 52 men.

HMS SWIFT ( G 46) MMU.941445

Other than that, all 14 remaining S/T-class sisters survived the conflict and lead a long life with three going on to transfer in 1946 to the rebuilding Dutch Navy. The last of the class afloat, HMS Troubridge (F09), helped sink U-407 during the war and, converted to a Type 15 frigate, was only decommissioned in 1969, going to the breakers the following year.

In 2003, a French Navy minesweeper discovered the wreckage of Svenner off Sword and salvaged her anchor. It is now preserved as a memorial to the ship some 100 yards inland from the beach at Hermanville-sur-Mer.

The Norwegians remember Svenner with fondness, having recycled her name for a Kobben-class submarine commissioned in 1967 which remained in service until after the Cold War.

Svenner has become part of the country’s military lore.

Via the Norwegian military museum (Forsvarets Museer) http://forsvaretsmuseer.no/Marinemuseet/70-aar-siden-senkningen-av-Svenner

In 2014, King Harald himself helped dedicate the memorial to all Norwegians present at Normandy, accompanied by some of the last of that country’s aging WWII vets.

Today, of course, on the 74th anniversary of Overlord/Neptune and the 156,000 Allied troops that landed across that wide 50-mile front, we remember all the Allies of the Greatest Generation.

Specs:
Displacement:
1,710 long tons (1,740 t) (standard)
2,530 long tons (2,570 t) (deep load)
Length: 362 ft 9 in (110.6 m) (o/a)
Beam: 35 ft 9 in (10.9 m)
Draught: 14 ft 6 in (4.4 m) (deep)
Installed power:
40,000 shp (30,000 kW)
2 × Admiralty 3-drum boilers
Propulsion: 2 × shafts; 2 × Parsons geared steam turbines
Speed: 36 knots (67 km/h; 41 mph)
Range: 4,675 nmi (8,658 km; 5,380 mi) at 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph)
Sensors:
Radar Type 290 air warning
Radar Type 285 ranging & bearing
Armament:
4 × single 4.7-inch (120 mm) Mark XII dual-purpose guns
1 × twin Bofors 40 mm AA guns
4 × twin QF 20 mm Oerlikon AA guns
2 × quadruple 21-inch torpedo tubes
4 × throwers and 2 × racks for 70 depth charges

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!

Warship Wednesday, May 16, 2018: Schermerhorn’s contribution to naval history

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

Warship Wednesday, May 16, 2018: Schermerhorn’s contribution to naval history

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 53955

Here we see the pride of the New York Yacht Club, the steam patrol yacht Free Lance, in her newly-applied gray military scheme on duty off New York City, probably in August 1898. The brand-new pleasure craft would, oddly enough, be called upon not once, but twice, to defend her country.

But first, let us speak of that great knickerbocker, Frederick Augustus Schermerhorn.

As a young man, Schermerhorn came from a prominent Empire State family and, after a string of private schools and tutors, was accepted at what was then Columbia College for the Class of 1865. However, as the Civil War evolved, he promptly dropped out of school at the ripe old age of 20 in 1864 and sought an appointment to West Point, which was denied. Not to be outdone, he applied to a series of New York volunteer units and was enrolled to the roster of the newly-formed 185th New York Volunteer Infantry regiment’s C Company in the fall of 1864 and shipped off to the Petersburg Campaign in Northern Virginia.

Portrait of a soldier F. Augustus Schermerhorn standing, via the Massachusetts Digital Commonwealth collection

By the end of the war, the bloodied and decorated 1st Lt had been breveted a captain and was assigned as the aide-de-camp of MG Charles Griffin, the V Corps commander during its final campaign, and was present in the yard when Robert E. Lee surrendered at Appomattox Court House. In all, Schermerhorn served less than a year, but it was a hell of a year.

MG Charles Griffin and staff officers posed in front of the Cummings House. Our fellow is to the right

Returning to New York after the Grand Review of the Armies in Washington, Schermerhorn went back to school, picking up his mining degree from Columbia in 1868, and continued his service with the famed “Blue-Bloods” of the 7th New York Militia regiment for another several decades. By 1877, he was a Columbia trustee and member in most of the clubs and societies in The City that meant anything including the Riding, Knickerbocker, Metropolitan, and Tuxedo clubs. He rose to become a Director of the N. Y. Life Insurance and Trust Co.

The good Mr. Schermerhorn was duly nominated and confirmed by the membership to the New York Yacht Club on 25 March 1886 and by 1897 was elected to a position as a flag officer with that esteemed organization, a post he held through at least 1903. During his time with the NYYC, he was one of the backers of the 1893 (eighth) America’s Cup contender Colonia but was beaten by Nathanael Greene Herreshoff’s Vanderbilt-backed centerboard sloop Vigilant.

Schermerhorn’s Colonia via Detroit Publishing Co, LOC LC-D4-21915

Moving past cutters, Schermerhorn commissioned Mr. Lewis Nixon of Elizabethport, NJ’s Crescent Shipyard to construct him a beautiful screw steam schooner designed by A. Cary Smith for personal use. As noted by the Journal of the American Society of Naval Engineers at the time, his new ship, Free Lance, was 108-feet on the waterline and 137 from figurehead to taffrail with a cross-section “different from all other steam yachts” due to its long bow and lapped steel plating. A pair of Almy water tube boilers drove a 600 IHP triple expansion steam engine.

Yacht Free Lance in civilian livery, 11 June 1896, most probably on Long Island Sound. Note her guilt bow scroll and extensive canvas awnings over her twin deck houses. Also note her yacht ensign on the stern, NYYC pennant on her foremast, and Schermerhorn’s Maltese Cross pennant on her after mast. Photo via Detroit Publishing Co. 8×10 glass negative photographed by Charles Edwin Bolles LOC# LC-D4-62113

Her 25 September builder’s trials report made the Oct. 12, 1895 issue of Forest and Stream which noted that with a forced draft and 200-pounds of steam she was able to clear 19 miles in 62 minutes. By the turn of the century, she regualry hit 17 knots in civil use and utilized the novel Thorne-patent ash ejector, which gave steady work for her stokers.

However, the Free Lance only got two seasons in before war came with Spain, and Schermerhorn freely volunteered the services of his yacht to the Navy, which were promptly accepted.

The armed yachts of the Spanish-American War are fascinating reading as they were often very handsome sailing ships such as past Warship Weds alum Peter Arrell Brown Widener’s custom-built schooner-rigged Josephine and Massachusetts textile magnate Matthew Chaloner Durfee’s rakish and very well-appointed steam yacht, Sovereign.

At the time the Navy needed to rapidly expand and among the ships acquired for Spanish-American War service were no less than 29 armed and hastily converted yachts, primarily drawn from wealthy Northeast and New York Yankees such as our very own Mr. Schermerhorn. A baker’s dozen of these former pleasure craft were rather large ships, exceeding 400 tons. With relatively good gun-carrying capacity and sea-keeping capabilities, these bigger craft saw service off Cuba where they were used as auxiliary cruisers, scouting vessels, and dispatch ships.

Others, such as our newly commissioned USS Free Lance, were used in what was termed the Auxiliary Naval Force, keeping a weather eye for Spanish raiders just over the horizon of the increasingly undefended U.S Eastern Seaboard.

USS Free Lance underway off New York City, probably in August 1898. A small sailboat is just astern of Free Lance, and USS New York (Armored Cruiser # 2) is in the background. Also, note that her awnings have been stripped away, she is no longer flying her yachting pennants, and she has guns on her pilot house and stern. NH 53953

Her armament: a pair of .65-caliber Royal Navy contract 1870s-vintage Mark I 10-barrel Gatling guns mounted atop the yacht’s pilothouse and on her stern, reportedly picked up through the offices of local NYC military surplus guru Francis Bannerman.

USS Free Lance (1898-1899), Gatling Gun Crew, 1898. Note the “Free Lance” bands on their flat caps, the .45-70 rounds and Springfield Trapdoor bayonets on their Mills belts, and the gun’s hopper which held 20 rounds. Detroit Publishing Company.

Each Gatling gun weighed 725-pounds, not including the mount and fired a 1,421-grain projectile at 1,427fps. The rate of fire (theoretically) was 1,200 rounds per minute but the gun was limited by the speed that assistant gunners could drop rounds down the beast’s top-mounted Bruce Feed-style chute.

USS Free Lance (1898-1899), Petty Officers 1898. Detroit Publishing Company

With her unconventional armament and small relative size, she was used as a harbor patrol craft during the conflict, commissioned as USS Free Lance, 12 May 1898.

USS Free Lance at anchor off New York City, probably in August 1898. Note the small sailboats in the left background and Free Lance’s pilot house-mounted Gatling gun. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 53954

Her term of service was short, decommissioning on 24 August 1898 after just 14 weeks on active duty.

Returned to her owner, when WWI came the aging Schermerhorn once more contributed his love to the Navy, with the yacht leased for $1 on 19 July 1917 and commissioned as USS Freelance (SP-830) with no space between the two words. This was because from 1905 on, her name was spelled “Freelance.”

Freelance Underway, prior to World War I. This yacht served as USS Free Lance in 1898 and as USS Freelance (SP-830) in 1917-1918. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 102819

Under command of Ensign J. B. Nevins, USNRF, and armed with a pair of recycled 3-pounder guns (Gatling’s were reserved for museums by 1917) she was once more put in service patrolling in the New York area. Her DANFS record is slim.

USS Freelance (SP-830) In port during the World War I era. The original print is in National Archives’ Record Group 19-LCM. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 101720

Freelance was decommissioned on Christmas Eve 1918 and returned to her owner the same day. Schermerhorn passed in March 1919, age 74, during a speech he was giving before the Union Club and is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery, Brooklyn.

His epitaph is Psalm 37:37: “Mark the perfect man and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.”

Schermerhorn’s 1915 portrait by August Franzen is in the Smithsonian‘s National Portrait Gallery.

I cannot find what became of his cherished Free Lance, but I would like to think she is still in Gotham somewhere, perhaps on the bottom of the Arthur Kill Ship Graveyard, which in a way would be fitting.

Specs:
Displacement 132 t.
Length 137 feet overall
Beam 20′ 8″
Draft 7′ 6″
Propulsion: One 600ihp steam engine (3cyl, 11,17&29×20 Crescent), one shaft. Two Almy WT boilers
Speed 14 knots in naval service, almost 19 on trials
Complement 18 (military service)
Armament: Two .65-caliber Gatling guns (1898)
Two 3-pounders (1917)

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Warship Wednesday, May 2, 2018: The 1,000-ton consular insurance policy

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, May 2, 2018: The 1,000-ton consular insurance policy

NHHC Catalog #: 19-N-12-19-12 (2000×1444)

Here we see the rather fetching schooner-rigged Patrol Gunboat No. 15, the Wheeling-class USS Marietta, at the New York Navy Yard, circa 1902. Note her white hull and extensive small boat arrangement that included a two-masted 28-foot gig whaleboat and two 26-foot steam cutters as well as miscellaneous smaller dinghies. Marietta was celebrated as an integral part of the new all-steel steam Navy at the turn of the new century.

Laid down at Union Iron Works, San Francisco, the two 1,000-ton unarmored steel-hulled gunboats of the Wheeling-class were ordered in 1895 and intended for use as station ships to show the flag in America’s interests overseas. Able to float in just 12-feet of seawater, they could visit small backwater ports and perform caretaker roles to far-flung consular posts across Latin America, the Pacific station and the Caribbean on their own, while their quartet of 4-inch guns gave a moment of respite against unrest. Capable of plugging along at 13-knots, they could revert to their auxiliary sail rig when coal was scarce.

The two sisters were built side by side and commissioned within three weeks of each other in the summer of 1897 and were beautifully appointed.

USS MARIETTA (PG-15) at the New York Navy Yard, circa 1902. Note Jack; figurehead; USS BROOKLYN (CA-3) in the background, left. #: 19-N-12-19-13

One of the ship’s sideboards, featuring the seal of the city of Marietta, Ohio. Catalog 19-N-12-19-9

At the New York Navy Yard, circa 1902. Note flag. Catalog #: 19-N-12-19-11

“Ships of the new Navy” Painting by F. Muller. White-hulled steel ships of the late nineteenth century which replaced the sailing ships of a bygone era and generally the types of ships which fought successfully in the Spanish-American War. Shown, left-right: USS MARIETTA (PG-15), gunboat built in 1897; USS PURITAN (BM-1), monitor built in 1896; USS ILLINOIS (BB-7), battleships built in 1898; USS IOWA (BB-4), battleship in 1896; USS STRINGHAM (TB-19), torpedo boat built in 1899. NH 76314-KN

USS Marietta (PG-15) photographed in 1897-98. Copied from the Journal of Naval Cadet C.R. Miller, 1898, page 67. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. NH 46643

USS MARIETTA (PG-15) with her casemated battery swung out. The photograph was taken circa 1897. Catalog #: 19-N-12-19-10

Marietta was the third and (thus far) last warship to carry that name on the U.S. Navy List, following in the wake of a 28-oar 5-gun rowboat ordered by President Thomas Jefferson in 1803 and a Civil War-era monitor that was accepted but never commissioned.

Marietta soon became part of the Spanish-American War.

From DANFS:

Marietta departed San Francisco 19 March 1898 for Callao, Peru, to arrange for the coaling of Battleship Oregon (BB‑3) which was steaming to join the North Atlantic Squadron off Cuba. Moving on to Valparaiso, Chile, 31 March, the gunboat was joined by Oregon 6 April and together the two warships proceeded through the Straits of Magellan and up the east coast of South America, separating at Bahia, Brazil 11 May. Marietta arrived Key West, Fla., 4 June, then joined the blockade of Havana Harbor.

When the war ended, she remained on the East Coast and was used to help clear mines from Cuban waters until she was needed again.

In what became known as the Bluefields Expedition, she was dispatched to the Mosquito coast of Nicaragua at the outset of unrest there that had the local consulate worried as it involved several American and European adventurers who were soon to have their necks stretched by the Nicaraguans. She arrived on 24 Feb 1899 and landed a small force of about 50 sailors and Marines that remained ashore for about a week until things cooled down, co-opting with a similar force landed by the British.

Bluefields, Nicaragua, view taken in 1899, shows personnel from the joint Anglo-American landing force put ashore there to protect their nationals. Note the Colt M1895 “potato digger” light machine gun and the straight-pull Model 1895 Lee Navy 6mm rifles. The British were under the command of Captain Burr #4, the US force was under Commander Frederick M Symonds USN #2 commanding officer of USS MARIETTA (PG-15). NH 83794

By the end of 1899, it was decided her shallow draft and heavy armament (for a ship her size) could prove useful in fighting on the other side of the globe and Marietta arrived in Manila 3 January 1900. Operating in support of American forces ending the Philippine insurrection, the busy gunboat acted as a patrol and convoy escort vessel in the islands, assisting and cooperating with the Army in military expeditions and landings until ordered home 3 June 1901 for duties with the North Atlantic Squadron until moving into ordinary in 1903 for a refit.

The next year she operated off Central America, protecting American interests in Panama during that nation’s revolution against Colombia, which led to the Canal becoming a wholly American operation for the remainder of the Century. Marietta then spent nearly a decade around the Caribbean, “calling at numerous Latin American ports and protecting American lives and property from damage.”

Marietta, June 1908 Arriving at Curacao, Venezuela, by Bain News Service via Library of Congress photo LC-B2-457-14

Lot-3305-26 U.S. Navy gunboat USS Marietta (PG 15), starboard view. Photographed by K. Loeffler, 1909. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

By 1912, pushing age 20 and outclassed by most things afloat, the hard-used gunboat which had circumnavigated the globe and mixed it up in two hemispheres was taken out of front-line service and turned over to the New Jersey Naval Militia for use as a training ship.

When the Great War erupted in Europe, she was returned to the Navy and served on Neutrality Patrol duties in the Atlantic before seeing the elephant once more in the 1916 Vera Cruz crisis in Mexican waters, again landing armed bluejackets for service ashore.

When the U.S. entered WWI for real in April 1917, Marietta was up-armed and assigned to the Atlantic Fleet patrol force for convoy duty, eventually crossing the big water to Brest, France where she served on anti-submarine patrol under the command of CPT Harry G. Hamlet, U.S. Coast Guard (a future Commandant of that service), with a mixed crew of Navy vets, Coasties, and new recruits.

USS Marietta (Patrol Gunboat #15), new fore top-mast and shrouds, at the Boston Navy Yard, Boston, Massachusetts, May 31, 1917. USS Constitution is to her right. She performed convoy duties during World War I in the Atlantic and off Europe.19-LC-14-2:

USS MARIETTA (PG-15), camouflaged and dressed with flags, while serving in European waters, 1918. Catalog #: NH 94977

USS MARIETTA (PG-15) photographed in 1918, probably in European waters. Courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1983. NH 94976

She appeared to be a happy and popular little gunboat during this wartime period, with several snaps of her crew preserved to history.

Sailor imitates Charlie Chaplin on the forecastle, circa 1918-19. Description: Courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1983 NH 95010

Crewmen in whites pose amidships with sea bags and her commissioning pennant, circa 1918-19. Description: Courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1983 NH 94994

Crewmen in whites pose amidships with sea bags and her commissioning pennant, circa 1918-19. Description: Courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1983 NH 94994

Crewmen in blues lounging on the forecastle, circa 1918-19. Note base of 4″/40 gun, at right. Description: Courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1983 NH 94989

Three sailors pose by the forward 4″/40 deck gun circa 1919. Description: Courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1983 NH 95013

Crewmen scrubbing hammocks or awnings, on the forecastle circa 1918-19, while in a European port. Note bell and gear of 4″/40 gun at left, anchor and 3-pounder gun at right, and mattress splinter protection around the bridge. Description: Courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1983 NH 94991

A “tall and short” photo of a chief petty officer and sailor on board, circa 1918-19. The chief is equipped for shore patrol duties– note the baton. Description: Courtesy of Paul H. Silverstone, 1983 NH 94993

In 1919, on a convoy home out of the Bay of Biscay to Boston, the 150-foot converted menhaden trawler USS James (SP-429) began taking on water in heavy seas. Marietta, under her Coast Guard skipper, moved to rescue her two officers and 45 men in the maelstrom.

As noted by the Coast Guard Historian’s office on Hamlet:

With high seas threatening to crash the two vessels together, he skillfully and courageously maneuvered his ship alongside James and was instrumental in saving all on board. In recognition of his gallant conduct, the Secretary of the Treasury awarded him the Congressional Gold Lifesaving Medal and he received a Special Commendation from the Secretary of the Navy entitling him to wear the Silver Star upon his service ribbon.

On the way back to the East Coast, Marietta was involved in a fender-bender with the nominally larger Wickes-class destroyer USS Stevens (DD-86) at Ponta Delgada, in the Azores, the latter supporting the NC seaplane transatlantic flight efforts.

Marietta, worn out and unrepaired, was decommissioned 12 July 1919 at New Orleans and sold the following Spring for her value in scrap. Rumor is she was repurposed as a banana boat, plying in Central American waters in the 1920s and 30s, but I can’t confirm that from Lloyds.

As for her sister, Wheeling was used as a training ship after the Great War for a while and eventually as a berthing barge for motor torpedo boat crews during WWII. She was sold for scrap 5 October 1946. The Navy certainly got their dollars’ worth out of them.

In the National Archives, the Trial Board records of both Marietta and Wheeling are on file as is their logbooks and the court documents from the Stevens incident.

Specs:

Picture postcard from the Hugh C. Leighton Co. of Portland, ME, courtesy of Tommy Trapp via Navsource http://www.navsource.org/archives/12/09015.htm

Displacement 1,000 t., 1914 – 990 t.
Length 189 ‘ 7″
Beam 34′
Draft 12’
Propulsion: Two Babcock and Wilcox boilers, two 518ihp vertical triple expansion steam engines, two shafts.
Speed 13 knots.
Complement 140 as built, 1914 – 163
Armament:
(As built)
6×4″ gun mounts
1×3″ gun mount
4×6-pounders
2×1-pounders
Colt .30-caliber “potato digger” machine gun
(1905)
6×4″ rapid fire mounts
2×1-pounder rapid fire mounts
Colt machine gun
(1911)
6×4″/40 rapid fire mounts
4×6-pounder rapid fire mounts
2×1-pounder rapid fire mounts

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

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

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

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

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Warship Wednesday, April 25, 2018: Big Vincent and the seagoing pyro party

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, April 25, 2018: Big Vincent and the seagoing pyro party

Watercolor by William Lionel Wylie in the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/125909.html#1DAcRThKsDhESim6.99 (PAF1774)

Here we see the last of the Royal Navy’s Arrogant-class cruisers, HMS Vindictive (P.4C), going through just over an hour’s time at the center of hell along the Mole in the German-occupied Belgian port city of Zeebrugge on St. George’s Day, 100 years ago this week.

The four-pack of Arrogant-class 2nd class protected cruisers were approved under the 1895/96 Programme and designed for fleet use rather than in protecting trade from enemy auxiliary cruisers in wartime (at the time thought most likely to be Russian) and policing colonies. As such, they were a bit beamier than the nine preceding Eclipse-class cruisers (5,700 tons, 350x53ft, 18.5kts, 5x QF 6″ guns) while being faster. The subsequent Arrogants went 5,840-tons with a 320-foot overall length while having a 57-foot beam and a ram bow.

A group of 18 Belleville water-tube boilers (the first installed on a British cruiser of the size) and pair of 3-cyl VTE engines on twin screws enabled these ships to be considered “20-knot” ships (on forced draught) while a battery of four 6″/40cal QF Mk II singles and six 4.7-inch guns gave them comparable muscle to the Eclipses. The first two vessels of the class, Arrogant and Furious, were built at Devonport, while the third, Gladiator, was laid down at Portsmouth.

Our hero, the fourth and last of the family, Vindictive, was laid down at Chatham Dock Yard in Kent on 27 Jan. 1896, carrying the name of a hard-luck Napoleonic War-era 74-gun third-rate ship of the line that was only broken up two decades before.

HMS Vindictive, from Navy and Army Illustrated, 1900, via Wiki

Commissioned on the 4th of July in 1900, she was a happy peacetime ship that served in the British Mediterranean Squadron for a decade before she was considered obsolete in the rapidly advancing days of post-Dreadnought naval technology.

In ordinary for two years from 1909-10, her armament was revamped, and she was modernized. Gone were the old MkII guns and 4.7s, replaced by a homogenous group of 10 new MkVII 6″/45cal breechloaders, among the snazziest British guns of the era.

Here is her diagram from the 1914 Janes.

In the above, note that she is the only one of her class left listed in the naval almanac. This is because Gladiator sank after a collision with the American liner (and Warship Wednesday alumni) SS Saint Paul in a heavy snowstorm off the Isle of Wight in 1908, Arrogant had become a depot ship in 1911 and Furious had likewise been hulked, leaving Vindictive as the sole member of the group still with the fleet by the time the Great War began– and even that was as a tender to the Home Squadrons.

When the Kaiser marched into Belgium in August 1914,  she was at sea off Plymouth but soon started searching the waters for enemy vessels, capturing four of them inside of a month.

On August 6:
0630: N.D.L. (Norddeutscher Lloyd) S.S. Schlesien boarded by Lieutenant Sayle R.N.R. and Fleet Paymaster G.A. Miller. Lat 46 02 N, Long 7 37 W. Reported carrying general cargo to Antwerp. Lieutenant Sayle and an armed guard of 13 men proceeded in the ship to Plymouth by order of Rear Admiral.
3.20 pm: Fired shot ahead of Austrian S.S. Alfa; Austrian steamer S.S. Alfa boarded by Lieutenant Pope R.N.R. and Fleet Paymaster Miller in Lat 45 24 N, Long 7 56 W. Reported carrying a cargo of grain. Ship ordered to report herself at Falmouth. Boarding Party returned.
8.30 pm: Atlantea S.N. Co. S.S. Polnay under Austrian Flag boarded by Lieutenant Pope and Fleet Paymaster G.A. Miller in Lat 44 57 W, Long 8 05 W. Reported carrying grain consigned to order at Rotterdam. Ship ordered to report herself at Falmouth. Boarding party returned.

Sept 8:
German collier Slawentzitz boarded by Commander Grayson, Lieutenant Sayle R.N.R. and Fleet Paymaster Miller. 5044 tons of coal consigned to Haiffa Syria. Lieutenant Sayle and prize crew of 13 men placed on board and ship sent to Gibraltar.

Following this, Vindictive was sent to warm Equatorial waters along the Abrolhos Rocks off Brazil and spent the next 18 months on the lookout for German surface raiders and submarines, boarding passing ships but largely having no reportable results.

Then, in June 1916, she was recalled to Britain for a change of pace that saw her deploy in October to Romanov (Murmansk) in the frozen wastes of the White Sea to protect the growing stockpile of Allied war material in that isolated Arctic backwater. She shuttled from there to Arkhangelsk and conducted drills with the locals and other visiting Allied ships until she was recalled to Plymouth once more in October 1917– just before Russia really went to crap in the Revolution.

Chilling back in England with the war at its fiercest, the old cruiser without a mission was to pull one heck of a job.

It was decided that she would be part of the big push to block the Belgian port at Zeebrugge, home to flotillas of German patrol boats and squadrons of U-boats. The task was three-fold, with (1) Vindictive and two converted Mersey ferries– Iris and Daffodil— coming alongside the mile-long Mole so they could discharge a battalion of sailors and Marines to go ashore and jack up the port while (2) a group of old cruisers–HMS Thetis, HMS Intrepid, and HMS Iphigenia— sank themselves as blockships in the Bruges Canal and (3) an old submarine blew the Mole itself.

Vindictive would be commanded during the raid by Capt. Alfred Francis Blakeney Carpenter, an RN veteran with service that dated back to the Boxer Rebellion.

The raid in a 2-minute nutshell:

To carry out her job as a landing ship (held to the Mole by a ship pushing bow on her starboard), the portside of Vindictive was fitted with a fly deck with 18 gangways handled by derricks, to allow rapid disembarkation of the landing force, made up of most of the 4th RMLI battalion and two companies of armed Jacks.

To provide more protection than her thin Harvey armor could on her exposed topside, splinter mats were installed liberally. Besides the mats, two Mk I 7.5-inch howitzers were mounted to go along with her four remaining 6-inch BL guns and as many Vickers Maxim guns as could be found. The Marine Storming Party, as it was termed, was equipped with 16 81mm Stokes trench mortars, one 11-inch howitzer (mounted aft), five 1-pounder (37mm) quick-firing Vickers Mark 1 pom-pom guns, and 16 Lewis guns which both added to Vindictive‘s armament and provided some mobile artillery to be taken ashore during the raid.

Photograph (Q 46476) Model of HMS Vindictive with extra armament, landing planks, and mats installed for Zeebrugge. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205260387

The foretop of HMS VINDICTIVE armed with two pom-pom guns and six Lewis guns. Note the use of splinter mats. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205026711

THE ZEEBRUGGE RAID, 23-24 APRIL 1918 (Q 55568) HMS VINDICTIVE after returning to Dover following the Zeebrugge Raid, showing one of the two 7.5-inch howitzers and a brace of four Stokes mortars specially fitted out for the raid to provide fire support for the landing parties in the planned assault on the German gun battery at the seaward end of the mole at Zeebrugge. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205026712

Going along with the Marines were 34 engineers, all volunteers of the Royal Naval Air Service Experimental Party, or Pyrotechnic Party, led by Lt. Graham S. Hewett, R.N.V.R., with Lt. A. L. Eastlake, R.E., second-in-command, armed with a variety of demolition charges, “fixed and portable flame-throwers, phosphorus grenades, etc.” Among these were a “telescopic” fixed flamethrower capable of sending a jet 90m– made by the J Morriss & Sons Ltd, an engineering company from Manchester that normally made fire hoses– as well as two very large five-man weapons fixed to a steel A-frame, these latter guns were called “Vincents” after Vindictive.

Demonstration of large crew-served Vincent flamethrower that was used by HMS Vindictive during the Zeebrugge raid. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205311716

The group’s portable flame weapons consisted of the scuba-tank like Hay Flame Gun, created by Captain P. S. Hay of the Ministry of Munitions in December of 1917. It was the only portable British-made flamethrower used in WWI.

As described in The Flamethrower by Chris McNab, via The Great War website:

The operator slung the Hay Flame Gun from a shoulder strap so that it hung in front of his chest. He pressed a button on a dry-cell battery mounted on the lance, which ignited a pilot light under the nozzle. He then squeezed the oil-release valve at the base of the lance, which was identical to the brake handle on automobiles of the era.

The oil was pressurized with deoxygenated air pumped directly into the tank. When the operator ran or jumped, the propellant gas mixed with the oil and produced a foam, which greatly limited the range. For this reason, other flamethrowers had either separate internal propellant chambers or bottles attached externally to the oil tank.

The Hay Flame Gun was 35 inches tall by 5.5 inches in diameter. It carried 2.6 gallons of oil, which gave it a laden weight of 66 lbs. It had a range of about 66 feet and a duration of 15 seconds. A total of 36 where ordered by the Admiralty for use at Zeebrugge of which about 15 Hay Flame Guns were used in the raid in the raid In April 1918. The Flamethrowers were used to engulf the Mole parapet with liquid fire to clear any opposition before the storming parties went ashore.

Members of the crew of HMS PRINCE EUGENE cleaning the upper deck of HMS VINDICTIVE after her return to Dover following the Zeebrugge Raid. One sailor holds a Hay Flame Gun type flamethrower of the type used on the mole by members of the Royal Naval Air Service Experimental Party in support of the Royal Marine and naval landing parties. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205026713

 

Flamethrowers and Stores mortars used by a landing party on the Mole at Zeebrugge. Also shown in the photograph; a piece of the Mole brought back by HMS Vindictive after an attack on 23rd April 1918, a rum measure and an alarm gong from the Jetty. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205191578

Vindictive hit the Mole on schedule and was the center of the German fury during the raid. It was her illumination rockets that the Marines and sailors fought by, her smoke screen, flame and fire they were covered by, and her collision sirens that they retired to at the end of the operation.

As noted in the after-action report on the raid by Vice-Admiral Sir Roger Keyes, everything involving Vindictive came off as planned:

According to the time-table, the hour at which the “Vindictive” (Captain Alfred F. B. Carpenter) should have been laid alongside the Zeebrugge Mole was midnight. She reached her station one minute after midnight, closely followed by the “Daffodil” (Lieutenant Harold Campbell) and “Iris II” (Commander Valentine Gibbs). A few minutes later the landing of the storming and demolition parties began. By 1.10 a.m. the “Vindictive” had taken off the survivors, who had meanwhile done their work upon the Mole, and by 1.15 a.m. she and her consorts were clear of the Mole.

In the 75 minutes she spent on the Mole, Vindictive took a terrible beating, but she made it back to Dover under her own steam.

THE ZEEBRUGGE RAID, 22-23 APRIL 1918 (Q 55566) HMS VINDICTIVE at Dover following the Zeebrugge Raid showing the damage done by German gunfire to the ship’s bridge, foretop, and forward armored flamethrower hut. Note the mattresses used to protect exposed parts of the ship’s superstructure from bullets and shell splinters. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205026710

HMS Vindictive damaged via Underwood & Underwood – Popular Science Magazine July 1918

PW1862: ‘HMS ‘Vindictive’ returning from the Zeebrugge Raid, 24 April 1918′ by William Lionel Willie circa 1918. National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, Caird Collection http://collections.rmg.co.uk/collections/objects/125997.html

“Vindictive after Zeebrugge” 1918 May 23, Bain News Service print via LOC

German propaganda photo of the above

Besides Carpenter, who received the VC from the King as well as the Croix de Guerre and Legion of Honor from France, several officers received lesser awards while 18 of Vindictive‘s crew picked up Distinguished Service Medals:

Ch. Air Mech. Clifford Armitage, R.N.A.S., O.N. F6981.
E.R.A., 4th Cl., Norman Carroll, O.N. M17679 (Ch.).
E.R.A., 3rd Cl., Herbert Cavanagh, O.N. M1111 (Po.).
Sto., 1st Cl., William Crawford, O.N. K34438 (Ch.).
M.A.A. Charles George Dunkason, O.N. 191301 (Po.).
Arm. Arthur William Evans, O.N. M7148 (Ch.).
Ldg. Sig. Albert James Gamby, O.N. J11326 (Ch.).
A.B. Arthur Geddes, O.N. J30822 (Ch.).
E.R.A., 5th Cl., Herbert Alfred Harris, O.N. M6218 (Po.).
Sto. P.O. Thomas Haw, O.N. 306429 (Po.).
Sto., 1st Cl., James Lewis Hayman, O.N. K35627 (Dev.).
P.O. Herbert Jackson, O.N. 213767 (Ch.).
A.B. Richard Ellis Makey, O.N. 219228 (Po.).
S.B.S. Arthur Ernest Page, O.N. M960 (Ch.).
Ch. Sto. Alfred Edward Sage, O.N. 281683 (Ch.).
Sto., 1st Cl., Joseph Smith, O.N. K24538 (Dev.).
E.R.A., 4th Cl., Alan Thomas, O.N. M16493 (Dev.).
P.O. Thomas Wood, O.N. 171903 (Ch.)

The next month, the battered and beaten but still afloat Vindictive had one more mission. Two hundred tons of cement was put into her after magazines and upper bunkers on both sides– which was all her draught would permit her to carry– and she was sunk as a blockship in the approaches to Ostend Harbor on 10 May 1918.

THE SECOND OSTEND RAID, MAY 1918 (Q 24025) Wrecked deck of HMS Vindictive in the Ostend Harbour, May 1918. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205264342

THE SECOND OSTEND RAID, MAY 1918 (Q 24031) Wrecked HMS Vindictive in the Ostend Harbour, May 1918. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205264348

After the war, she was raised and broken up in 1920, with her bow saved and put on public display at Ostend, where it remains today.

Two of her sisters, Furious and Arrogant, was broken up just after her– though they had seen no action during the war. As for Vindictive‘s skipper, Carpenter, he went on to command a series of capital ships before moving to the retired list as a Rear Admiral in 1929, though he did return to service in WWII to command a Home Guard district. All good men must do their part, you know. His VC is in the IWM.

A number of relics from Vindictive, to include her shot-up binnacle, a rum draw with a shrapnel wound, her J Morriss & Sons Ltd telescopic flamethrower, one of her 7.5cm howitzers, her voice tube, a piece of concrete from the Mole found on her deck after she returned to Dover and portions of her splinter mattresses are all in the collections of the IWM.

She is, of course, also remembered in maritime art such as the piece at the beginning of the post and this one on display at the Britannia Royal Naval College by Charles De Lacey, showing HMS ‘Vindictive’ at Zeebrugge, 23 April 1918, on loan from the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London.

This week, the RN and RMs celebrated the 100th anniversary of the great raid. On Saturday, Belgium held a special service attended by the Royal Navy and Royal Marines with HRH The Princess Royal representing Her Majesty the Queen. A similar event was held in Dover on Monday with dignitaries from Belgium and Germany as well as the Senior Service.

Specs:

HMS Order No 77 – HMS Vindictive [Port] (Art.IWM DAZ 0056 2) whole: a schematic drawing for Dazzle camouflage, featuring a hand-drawn and hand-painted port view of a warship. Three superstructure details are placed to the left of the main design. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/27270

Displacement: 5,750 long tons (5,840 t)
Length: 320 ft (97.5 m) (p/p), 342 ft (104.2 m) (o/a)
Beam: 57 ft 6 in (17.5 m)
Draught: 20 ft (6.1 m)
Installed power: 10,000 shp (7,460 kW)
Propulsion: 2 shafts
2 vertical triple-expansion steam engines
18 Belleville water-tube boilers
Speed: 19 knots (35.2 km/h; 21.9 mph)
Complement: 331 as designed:
Officers, 17
Seamen, 114
Marines, 25
Engine-room establishment, 128
Other non-executive ratings, 35
(1914) 480 assorted
Armament:
(1900)
4 × QF 6-inch (152 mm) guns
6 × 4.7-inch (120 mm) guns
8 × 12-pounder (3-inch, 76 mm) guns
3 × 3-pounder (47 mm) guns
2 submerged 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes, one deck
(1909)
10 × QF 6-inch MkVII
8 × 12-pounder (3-inch, 76 mm) guns
3 × 3-pounder (47 mm) guns
2x Vickers .303 machine guns
2 submerged 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes, 1 deck
(1916)
4x QF 6-inch MkVII
5x Vickers .303 machine guns
(1918)
1x 11-inch howitzer
4x QF 6-inch MkVII
2x Mk I 7.5-inch howitzers
16 81mm Stokes trench mortars,
5×1-pounder (37mm) quick firing Vickers Mark 1 pom-pom guns
16 Lewis guns
5 (+) Vickers .303 machine guns
Armor:
Deck: 1.5–3 in (38–76 mm)
Conning tower: 9 in (229 mm)

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Warship Wednesday, April 11, 2018: Ms. Lane, of Paraguay, Nashville and Galveston fame

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, April 11, 2018: Ms. Lane, of Paraguay, Nashville and Galveston fame

LC-USZ62-48021: United States Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane. Wood engraving, 1858. Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Here we see the classic steam warship, USRC Harriet Lane of the Revenue Marine Service, and 157 years ago this very day she fired the first shot (at sea) in the Civil War, securing her place in history.

A copper plated side-paddle steamer with an auxiliary schooner rig, Lane was built for the US Treasury Department, by William H. Webb at Bell’s shipyard in New York City in 1857 at a cost of $140,000. She was named in honor of Ms. Harriet Rebecca Lane Johnston, the popular niece of lifelong bachelor President James Buchanan, who served as his first lady since he was unmarried at the time.

Her armament, a pair of old 32-pounders and a quartet of 24-pdr brass howitzers, was deemed sufficient for her work in stopping smugglers and destroying derelicts at sea, but she was constructed with three magazines and open deck space for additional guns should they be needed.

USCG Historian’s Office

And soon, she was loaned to the Navy.

Before Lane was even laid down, the gunboat USS Water Witch, who was busy surveying the Río de la Plata basin in South America in 1855, was fired upon as by a Paraguayan battery at Fort Itapirú. Intended as a warning shot (Water Witch had approval from the Argentines but not Paraguay to survey the river), the ball accidentally hit the gunboat and killed the very unfortunate helmsman Samuel Chaney. A resulting fire-fight saw Water Witch hulled 10 times. Fast forward to October 1858 and a punitive expedition was ordered sent to Paraguay to sort things out, even though Water Witch had returned home in 1856.

This expeditionary force, the largest ever assembled by the U.S. Navy until the Civil War, consisted of 19 ships, which seems like a lot but really isn’t when you look at the list of vessels that went. While the Navy had a half-dozen large ships-of-the-line on the Naval List, all were in ordinary at the time. Of the impressive dozen super-sized frigates, just one, the 50-gun USS St. Lawrence, already in Brazil, could be spared. This left the rest of the fleet to be comprised of smaller sloops and brigs, ships taken up from trade and armed with cannon or two, and the brand new and very modern Harriet Lane. The commander of the task force? Flag Officer (there were no admirals at the time) William B. Shubrick, a War of 1812 veteran who was taken from his warm quiet desk at the Lighthouse Bureau in Washington and given his last seagoing command.

Ships of The Paraguay Squadron underway. Ships are from left to right: USS Water Witch next the flag-ship; USS Sabine; next to USS Fulton; behind Fulton is USS Western Port (later USS Wyandotte); next is USS Harriet Lane; behind Harriet Lane is USS Supply; and next to the bow of USS Memphis. Artist unknown. Image from Harper’s Weekly, New York, 16 October 1858. Description from Navsource.

The force was filled with supplies and Marines (Lane herself shipped a 22-man force of Leathernecks) and set off for Latin America with special commissioner James B. Bowlin in tow. Lane at the time was skippered by Captain John Faunce, a skilled USRM officer since 1841, who would later command her at Fort Sumter– but we are ahead of ourselves.

Arriving in January 1859, Paraguay signed a commercial treaty with Brown, apologized for the hit on Water Witch with no more shots fired by either side and agreed to pay an indemnity to the family of the long-dead helmsman and the fleet returned home in February after some literal gunboat diplomacy.

Though Lane resumed her Revenue duties, she was soon again in Naval service.

With states dropping out of the Union left and right from December 1860 onward, she transferred to the Navy 30 March 1861 and was assigned to the Northern Blockading Squadron. Detailed to help supply the Fort Sumter garrison, a small U.S. Army post in rebel-held Charleston Harbor under the guns of coastal defense expert and former U.S. Army Maj (bvt) P. G. T. Beauregard, Lane left New York on 8 April headed to the Palmetto State, arriving three days later. The reason an armed ship was sent was because President Buchannan had detailed the unarmed merchant ship Star of the West to do so earlier in the year, an effort that failed when it was fired upon by Beauregard’s shore batteries made up partially of students from the Citadel.

On the morning of 11 April 1861, Harriet Lane arrived ahead of her task force that was following with supplies and 500 soldiers. Taking up a picket location around the island fort, on the morning of April 13, while the installation was under attack, Faunce order a shot from one of her 32-pounders, commanded by Lt. W. D. Thompson, across the bow of the oncoming steamship SS Nashville (1,241t, 215ft) as that vessel tried to enter Charleston Harbor. The reason for the round was because Nashville was flying no identifying flag, meaning she could possibly be a rebel ship.

The Revenue Cutter Harriet Lane forces the merchant steamer Nashville to show its colors during the attack on Fort Sumter, April 13, 1861. “The Cutter Harriet Lane Fires Across the Bow of Nashville” by Coast Guard artist Howard Koslow.

Unarmed and not looking to be sent to the bottom, Nashville raised the U.S. standard, and Harriet Lane broke off. Anticlimactic for sure, but the ole Nash went on to become a Confederate commerce raider armed with a pair of 12-pounders before serving in 1862 as the blockade runner Thomas L. Wragg and finally as the privateer Rattlesnake before she was destroyed by the monitor USS Montauk on the Ogeechee River in Georgia.

But back to our hero.

Fort Sumter fell on April 13, surrendered after a bloodless two-day bombardment that saw 2,000 Confederate shells hit the masonry fort and Lane withdrew. She soon was up-armed and before the end of the year engaged in the efforts against Fort Clark and Fort Hatteras on the outer banks of North Carolina.

80-G-1049444: USS Harriet Lane engaging a battery at Pig’s Point, on the Nansemond River, opposite Newport News. Copied from Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, 1861.

Then in early 1862 joined David Dixon Porter’s Mortar Flotilla at Key West as flagship, from where she captured the Confederate schooner, Joanna Ward.

With Porter aboard, Lane was there as his flagship when he plastered the rebel Forts Jackson and St. Philip, abreast the Mississippi below New Orleans, then continued to serve through the preliminary stages of the Vicksburg Campaigns.

LC-DIG-PPMSCA-35362: Rear Admiral David G. Farragut and Captain David D. Porter’s mortar fleet entering the Mississippi River, May 17, 1862. Wood engraving shows large squadron of battleships and ironclads entering the Mississippi River near the “Light-house of Southwest Pass”; some are identified as the “Colorado, 40 Guns”, “Pensacola on the Bar”, “Westfield”, “Mississippi on the Bar”, “Porter’s Mortar Fleet”, “Harriet Lane”, “Connecticut, 8 Guns”, “Clifton”, and “Banona“. Harper’s Weekly, V.6, no.281, pg 312-13. Courtesy of the Library of Congress. 2048×1443 big up

On 4 October 1862, in conjunction with the sidewheel steam ferryboat USS Westfield, Unadilla-class gunboat USS Owasco, the paddlewheel gunboat USS Clifton, and the schooner USS Henry Janes, Lane captured Galveston harbor from the Confederates in a show of force that left zero casualties on both sides.

Still in that newly-Union held port in Confederate Texas, Harriet Lane was the subject of an attack on 1 January 1863 that saw the Confederate cottonclad CSS Bayou City and the armed tugboat Neptune engage the bigger cutter. While Lane sank the Neptune and damaged Bayou City, she was captured when the crew of the cottonclad succeeded in storming and overpowering the crew of the Lane with both the cutter’s captain and executive officer killed along with three of her crew in fierce hand-to-hand combat.

An illustration of the Harriet Lane’s capture by Confederate forces on 1 January 1863

Her crew was taken into custody.

Lane, repaired and disarmed, was sold by the state of Texas to an enterprising shipper who christened her as the blockade runner Lavinia and, after just two trips carrying cotton abroad and commodities back, she finished the war in Cuban waters.

In 1867, the Revenue Marine sent her old Sumter commander, Faunce, and a crew to recover the battered, worn-out ship from Havana in condemned condition and she was subsequently sold to a Boston merchant.

As noted by DANFS, she was abandoned after a fire during hurricane-force winds off Pernambuco, Brazil, 13 May 1884, while enroute to Buenos Aires.

Relics of her time in Texas are in the collection of The Museum of Southern History, located in Houston.

The Revenue Marine, of course, became the U.S. Coast Guard in 1916 and the service honored the historic vessel by naming a second cutter, USCGC Harriet Lane (WSC-141), a 125-foot patrol craft, in 1926 which gave 20 years of hard service to include WWII and Prohibition.

The third cutter to share the name is the 270-foot Bear (Famous)-class medium endurance cutter USCGC Harriet Lane (WMEC-903). Commissioned in May 1984, she is still in active service and last week commemorated the first Lane’s historic shot in front of Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor.

That 75mm OTO! The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane sails past Fort Sumter near Charleston, South Carolina, April 5, 2018. USCG Photo

She is no lightweight either, recently returned to homeport from a 94-day patrol in drug trafficking zones of the Eastern Pacific, after seizing approximately 17,203 pounds of cocaine from suspected smugglers.

The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Harriet Lane approaches a suspected smuggling vessel while a helicopter crew from the Coast Guard Helicopter Interdiction Tactical Squadron monitors from the air, February 25, 2018.

Specs:

USCG Historian’s Office

Displacement 539 lt. 619 std, 730 t. fl
Length 175′ 5″
Beam 30′ 5″
Draft 10′ as designed, 13 at full load 1862
Propulsion: steam – double-right angled marine engine with two side paddles, auxiliary sail two-masted schooner rig
Speed 11 anticipated, 13kts on trials
Complement: 8 officers, 74 men (1857) 12 officers, 95 men (1862)
Armament
(As built)
3×32-pounders
4x 24-pounder brass howitzers
(After joining West Gulf Squadron, 1862)
1×4″ Parrott gun as a pivot on forecastle
1×9″ Dahlgren gun on pivot before the first mast
2×8″ Dahlgren Columbiad guns
2×24-pounder brass howitzers
Plus “cutlasses and small arms for 95 men”

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

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

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

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

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Warship Wednesday, April 4, 2018: The often imitated but never duplicated Indy

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, April 4, 2018: The often imitated but never duplicated Indy

Image Courtesy Wilson’s Creek National Battlefield; WICR 30184-B

Here we see the “Western gunboat ram” USS Indianola in 1863 during her brief service to the Navy. A one of a kind vessel, the Indy was laid down as a riverboat in Antebellum times but was rushed into service in the Civil War, rode hard, and never made it out alive.

A 174-foot long side-wheel screw steamer, Indianola was constructed in the Cincinnati yard of Mr. Joseph Brown in early 1862, specifically for service with the U.S. Navy on the Western river systems for operations against the newly-formed Confederacy.

Indianola under construction via LOC https://www.loc.gov/item/2013647478/

Compared to the 15-vessel City class-ironclads designed by Mr. Samuel M. Pook, the infamous “Pook’s Turtles,” Indianola was about the same size and had iron-plating 2.5 inches thick, enough to ward off musketry and shrapnel but not serious artillery rounds.

Pushed out into the Ohio River on 4 September, the partially complete 511-ton armored gunboat was placed in commission just 19 days later under the command of Acting Master Edward Shaw. The reason for the rush job was that Cincinnati at the time was considered under threat of capture by Confederate Gen. Kirby “Seminole” Smith whose “Heartland Offensive” reached its high-water mark in Lexington, Kentucky, just some 80 miles to the South a few days prior.

Armed with a pair of 11-inch Dahlgren smoothbores and another pair of smaller 9-inch guns, Indianola remained in the Ohio for several months even after Smith retreated to the Deep South and by January 1863, under the command of LCDR George Brown, she was detailed to the infant Mississippi Squadron, a force that the Navy never knew it would have. By 13 February, the plucky new ironclad met the enemy for the first time by running past the fearsome Confederate batteries at Vicksburg, Mississippi at night.

As noted by DANFS:

She left her anchorage in the Yazoo at 10:15 p.m. 13 February and moved slowly downstream until the first gun was fired at her from the Vicksburg cliffs slightly more than an hour later. She then raced ahead at full speed until out of range of the Confederate cannon which thundered at her from above.

The United States gunboat INDIANOLA (Ironclad) running the blockade at Vicksburg [Feb. 13, 1863] via Harper’s Weekly, v. 7, (1863 March 7), p. 149. LOC https://www.loc.gov/item/99614196/

She anchored for the night 4 miles below Warrenton, Miss., and early the next morning got underway downriver, with orders from Adm. David Dixon Porter to blockade the mouth of the Red River.

Two days later, Indianola chased and engaged in a long-range artillery duel with the Confederate Army-manned “cotton-clad” 655-ton side-wheel converted tug, Webb, that proved ultimately unsuccessful, her high speed (for a river boat) negated by the fact that she had to tow pair of coal barges alongside for refueling in hostile enemy-controlled waters.

On the evening of 24 February, the Union gunboat came across the Confederate steamer Queen of the West, formerly a U.S. Army-manned ram, who, along with her partner and recent Indianola-nemesis Webb, cornered the Yankee in the shallow water near New Carthage, Mississippi and commenced a river warship battle. While Indianola was better armed with her big Dahlgrens compared to the Parrots and 12-pdr howitzers of the Rebel ships, she was no match for the demolition derby unleashed on her by the Confederate vessels on either side who smashed her a reported seven times leaving the ship “in an almost powerless condition.”

LCDR Brown had more than two feet of cold Mississippi river water over the floor of his fighting deck and she was surrounded by now four Rebel vessels, packed with armed infantry ready to board. With that, Indianola ran her bow on the west bank of the river, spiked her guns, and surrendered to Confederate Major Joseph Lancaster Brent, her service to the U.S. Navy lasting just six months.

The loss meant that Porter would keep his fleet north of Vicksburg and that Farragut, entering the Mississippi from the Gulf, would be forced to run his own past Port Gibson the next month to join him.

While Brent went to work salvaging his newest addition to the Confederate fleet, Brown, who was wounded, handed over his personal Manhattan .36 caliber percussion revolver and was toted off to Libby Prison in Richmond, Virginia

However, Brent would not “own” the ex-Indianola for long.

While the rebs were busy trying to save as much as they could from the Union gunboat, members of Porter’s fleet “resurrected” the ghost of the stricken ship and crafted a fake version of her to run past the batteries at Vicksburg in a scare job the night following Indianola‘s capture. The cobbled-together craft was complete with a Jolly Roger flag and the words “Deluded People Cave In” painted on the faux paddle wheel housings.

Admiral [David Dixon] Porter’s Second Dummy Frightening the Rebels at Vicksburg. This shows a wooden dummy “ironclad” made from an old coal barge. Wood engraving after a sketch by Theodore R. Davis – Harper’s Weekly

From DANFS:

A dummy monitor was made by building paddle boxes on an old coal barge to simulate a turret which in turn was adorned with logs painted black to resemble guns. Pork-barrel funnels containing burning smudge pots were the final touch added just before the strange craft was cast adrift to float past Vicksburg on the night of Indianola’s surrender, Word of this “river Monitor” panicked the salvage crew working on Indianola causing them to set off the ship’s magazines to prevent her recapture.

And, it worked, with Brent triggering the Union vessel’s powder stores and sending her wheelhouse to the sky.

USS Indianola (1862-1863) Is blown up by her Confederate captors, below Vicksburg, Mississippi, circa 25 February 1863, upon the appearance of Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter’s fake monitor “Wooden Dummy “Taken from a sketch by RAdm. Porter, this print is entitled “Dummy Taking a Shoot”. U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph NH 53235

On the bright side, Brown only languished at Libby prison until May and was exchanged, going on to command the Unadilla-class gunboat Itasca at the Battle of Mobile Bay in 1864 and retire at the rank of Rear Admiral in 1897. Brent, his first captor, went on to become a one-star general leading the Louisiana Cavalry Brigade in the tail end of the war. He passed in 1905 and his papers are preserved at LSU.

As for Indianola, once the Mississippi river calmed down, her wreck was refloated, towed to Mound City, Illinois, and sold on 17 January 1865. Her name has never again appeared on the Navy List.

Brown’s Manhattan .36 caliber revolver? It is on display at Wilson’s Creek battlefield near Republic, Missouri.

Specs:

Displacement: 511 tons
Length: 174 ft (53 m)
Beam: 50 ft (15 m)
Draft: 5 ft (1.5 m)
Propulsion: Sidewheel, Steam-driven screw
Engine Size: Cylinders 24 inches diameters by 6 foot in length of the piston stroke, 5 boilers – Side Paddlewheels
Speed: 9 knots
Armament:
2 – 11-inch Dahlgren smoothbore
2 – 9-inch Dahlgren smoothbore

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

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

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

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

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I’m a member, so should you be!

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