Tag Archive | world war ii

Warship Wednesday, April 24, 2019: The Tiger with 17 Battle Stars to Prove It

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 24, 2019: The Tiger with 17 Battle Stars to Prove It

Official U.S. Navy Photographs, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command, NH 97488-KN and NH 92237

Official U.S. Navy Photographs, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command, NH 97488-KN and NH 92237

Here we see the Essex-class fleet carrier USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) off Hampton Roads, Virginia, 26 June 1944 and two rebuilds later, as CVS-14 with her rails manned, circa 1970, following conversion to an anti-submarine warfare support aircraft carrier. What a difference 26 years makes!

To put into perspective the degree of change this was, look at these two shots of aircraft operating from her decks during her career. These blend Grumman F6F-5N Hellcat night fighters preparing to take off for strikes against targets in Manila Bay during the 5-6 November 1944 attacks (80-G-305244) and an A-4 Skyhawk landing on board, after a simulated strike on enemy forces during an operational readiness inspection, 18 January 1963 with an A-3B Sky Warrior and F-3 Demon are parked on the carrier’s after flight deck.

Ticonderoga was one of 24 Essex-class fleet carriers started during World War II that was completed. Another eight sister-ships never were. We have covered the Essex class before, with the Mighty Oriskany and the “Happy Valley” aka USS Valley Forge, but hey, these were some great ships and the Ticonderoga has one hell of a story.

Like many of the class, Ticonderoga owes her name to a Revolutionary War action, namely, the seizing of Fort Ticonderoga from the British on 10 May 1775, by Ethan Allen and his “Green Mountain Boys” who held it for two years.

Three previous ships before our carrier shared the moniker:

Catalog #: NH 42415 NH 45373 NH 2258

During the War of 1812, Lt. Stephen Cassin’s 17-gun schooner Ticonderoga was in the battle line at the Naval Battle of Plattsburgh where the ship “played an important role in the victory. Her guns engaged nearly every British vessel on the line and raked the British flagship at a critical juncture in the battle,” according to NHHC. Cassin was awarded a gold medal for bravery by Congress and went on to become a Commodore with two later destroyers (DD-43 & DD-372) named after him.

Commissioned during the Civil War, the 2,500-ton Lackawanna-class screw sloop-of-war USS Ticonderoga went on to wave the flag in virtually all the world’s oceans and seas, only being sold for scrap in 1887.

In April 1917, the U.S. government seized the interned German flag merchant steamer Kamilla Rickmers and renamed her Ticonderoga (ID # 1958) in January 1918. Sadly, she was sunk after an epic two-hour gun battle, with the loss of 213 lives, by the German submarine U-152 on 30 September 1918, one of the most significant blows to the U.S. Navy in the Great War. Just 22 survivors spent four days in one lifeboat until a passing ship rescued them. Her skipper, LCDR James J. Madison, USNRF, received the Medal of Honor and the USS Madison (DD-425) was later named after him.

Laid down originally as Hancock on 1 February 1943 at Newport News, Va., by the Newport News Shipbuilding & Dry Dock Co. our subject was renamed Ticonderoga before she was even launched and commissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard on 8 May 1944, CPT. Dixie Kiefer (USNA 1918) in command.

Kiefer was a carrier man through-and-through having made the first ever night take-off from a warship in 1924 and gone on to become the carrier Yorktown (CV-5)‘s XO, picking up the DSO at the Coral Sea and a Navy Cross at Midway. When Yorktown was during that battle, Kiefer shattered his right leg while escaping the doomed ship. He was a fighter and would go on to command a fighting ship.

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) being pushed by tugboats at Naval Air Station Hampton Roads, Virginia (USA) on 30 May 1944, shortly after delivery to the Navy by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. She is wearing camouflage Measure 33, Design 10A. Note the cut-out space on the port side of the flight deck forward of the elevator where a third Mk 37 gun director should have been placed. It was omitted from the design as its antenna protruded above the level of the flight deck. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.014

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) being pushed by tugboats at Naval Air Station Hampton Roads, Virginia (USA) on 30 May 1944, shortly after delivery to the Navy by Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company. She is wearing camouflage Measure 33, Design 10A. Note the cut-out space on the port side of the flight deck forward of the elevator where a third Mk 37 gun director should have been placed. It was omitted from the design as its antenna protruded above the level of the flight deck. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.014

USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 26 June 1944. NH 92239

USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 26 June 1944. NH 92239

Same view day, different view, NH 92238

She soon sailed for the Pacific, an ocean she would call home for 30 years and two lengthy, bitter wars during which her crew invariably labeled the ship Tyco or Tico and themselves Tigers. As such, she arrived at Ulithi Atoll in the Western Carolines on the 29 October and embarked RADM A. W. Radford, Commander, Carrier Division 6, joining TF-38, and was part of the famed “Murderers Row ” photo.

"Murderers' Row" Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown, and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. 80-G-294131

“Murderers’ Row” Third Fleet aircraft carriers at anchor in Ulithi Atoll, 8 December 1944, during a break from operations in the Philippines area. The carriers are (from front to back): USS Wasp (CV-18), USS Yorktown (CV-10), USS Hornet (CV-12), USS Hancock (CV-19) and USS Ticonderoga (CV-14). Wasp, Yorktown, and Ticonderoga are all painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. Photographed from a USS Ticonderoga plane. 80-G-294131

USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) at Ulithi Fleet Anchorage, 8 December 1944, while part of "Murderer's Row" 80-G-K-2589

USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) at Ulithi Fleet Anchorage, 8 December 1944, while part of “Murderer’s Row” 80-G-K-2589

She was soon pounding the Philippines, providing extended air cover for the ground forces capturing Leyte. DANFS notes that “Her planes bombed and strafed the airfields at Zablan, Mandaluyong, and Pasig. They also joined those of other carriers in sending the heavy cruiser Nachi to a watery resting place. In addition, Ticonderoga pilots claimed six Japanese aircraft shot down and one destroyed on the ground, as well as 23 others, damaged.”

US aerial attack on Manila Bay, Philippines, by planes from USS Ticonderoga (CV 14), 13 November 1944 80-G-272702

US aerial attack on Manila Bay, Philippines, by planes from USS Ticonderoga (CV 14), 13 November 1944 80-G-272702

80-G-272703

80-G-272703

Of course, being so close enough to strike Japanese targets meant that Japanese targets could also strike back at Tico.

During air action off Luzon, the Philippines, Japanese Zero fighter in a suicide crash dive registers a near miss on USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) November 5, 1944 80-G-289986

During air action off Luzon, the Philippines, Japanese Zero fighter in a suicide crash dive registers a near miss on USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) November 5, 1944 80-G-289986

She would soon come to raid Japanese ships and bases in occupied French Indochina (Vietnam), a region she would later come to know very well. “There, on the 12th [of January], they launched their approximately 850 planes and made a series of anti-shipping sweeps during which they sank a whopping 44 ships, totaling over 130,000 tons.”

Saigon River Front, French Indochina, Caption: Ships and installations afire after aerial attack by carrier-based planes of US Pacific fleet, 12 January 1945. Taken by plane from USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) #: 80-G-301944

Saigon River Front, French Indochina, Caption: Ships and installations afire after aerial attack by carrier-based planes of US Pacific fleet, 12 January 1945. Taken by plane from USS TICONDEROGA (CV-14) #: 80-G-301944

Less than two weeks later, while attacking Japanese positions on Formosa, our carrier ran out of luck.

On 21 January 1945, Ticonderoga was hit by not one but two back-to-back Japanese kamikazes, suffering 144 killed and at least another 200 injured. The first plane crashed through the ship’s flight deck abreast of the No. 2 5-inch mount, and its bomb exploded just above her hangar deck. Kiefer responded by ordering flooding to put a 10-degree list on the ship, causing the flaming wreckage to slip overboard.

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) afire after a bomb hit by Japanese suicide plane at Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands. As seen from USS Vincennes (CL 14), 21 January 1945. 80-G-343576

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14) afire after a bomb hit by Japanese suicide plane at Okinawa in the Ryukyu Islands. As seen from USS Vincennes (CL 14), 21 January 1945. 80-G-343576

The second kamikaze smashed into carrier’s starboard side near the island, setting more planes on fire as the carrier was still recovering from the first. The resulting explosion injured Kiefer, with 65 wounds from bomb shrapnel and a broken arm, but the Captain who stuck it through until Yorktown went down remained on the bridge for another 11 hours. He would later receive the Distinguished Service Cross from Navy Secretary Forrestal who called him the “Indestructible Man.”

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Shown Damage to island structure from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945 80-G-264996

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Shown Damage to island structure from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945 80-G-264996

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Shown: Damage to the flight deck from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945. Photographed by PHOM Peters and PHOM Quillinan, January 22, 1945. 80-G-264995

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Shown: Damage to the flight deck from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945. Photographed by PHOM Peters and PHOM Quillinan, January 22, 1945. 80-G-264995

Bomb hole in flight deck from dropped by a Kamikaze plane that hit the ship's forward elevator, off Formosa, 21 January 1945. Crewmen in the background are cleaning up debris from the hit. 80-G-273223

Bomb hole in flight deck from dropped by a Kamikaze plane that hit the ship’s forward elevator, off Formosa, 21 January 1945. Crewmen in the background are cleaning up debris from the hit. 80-G-273223

Wrecked plane on the hangar deck, after fires where the first Kamikaze hit received off Formosa, 21 January 1945. 80-G-273213

Wrecked plane on the hangar deck, after fires where the first Kamikaze hit received off Formosa, 21 January 1945. 80-G-273213

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Damage to hangar deck from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945 80-G-264994

USS Ticonderoga (CV 14). Damage to hangar deck from Japanese kamikaze dive from the night of 20-21 January 1945 80-G-264994

Bomb penetration in the gallery deck, looking up and aft from the hanger deck. The bomb dropped by the first of two Kamikaze planes which hit the ship off Formosa, 21 January 1945, passed through the flight deck to enter the gallery deck here. 80-G-273226

Bomb penetration in the gallery deck, looking up and aft from the hanger deck. The bomb dropped by the first of two Kamikaze planes which hit the ship off Formosa, 21 January 1945, passed through the flight deck to enter the gallery deck here. 80-G-273226

Still, Tico was soon underway under her own power with all fires out.

Ticonderoga Underway with "all fires out", after being hit twice by Kamikazes of Formosa, 21 January 1945. Note: fire damage to her island. Photographed from USS ESSEX (CV-9) #: 80-G-373726

Ticonderoga Underway with “all fires out”, after being hit twice by Kamikazes of Formosa, 21 January 1945. Note: fire damage to her island. Photographed from USS ESSEX (CV-9) #: 80-G-373726

She headed back to the West Coast under her own steam, arriving at Puget Sound Navy Yard on 15 February. She would remain there for repairs, only heading back to Ulithi in May. There, she rejoined TF-38 and by June Ticonderoga‘s fighters were strafing airfields on Kyushu.

In July, “her planes joined those of other fast carriers in striking ships in the Inland Sea and airfields at Nagoya, Osaka, and Miko. During those raids, TF 38 planes found the sad remnants of the once-mighty Japanese Fleet and bagged battleships Ise, Hyuga, and Haruna as well as an escort carrier, Kaiyo, and two heavy cruisers. On 28 July, her aircraft directed their efforts toward the Kure Naval Base, where they pounded an aircraft carrier, three cruisers, a destroyer, and a submarine.”

Early August saw raids on Tokyo and she entered the Bay there at peace on 6 September. After a series of Magic Carpet missions taking returning GIs home to the states, she was placed out of commission on 9 January 1947 and berthed with the Bremerton Group of the Pacific Reserve Fleet.

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) San Francisco Bay, California, following the end of World War II, circa late 1945 or early 1946. A blimp is in the background. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1973 NH 77366

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) San Francisco Bay, California, following the end of World War II, circa late 1945 or early 1946. A blimp is in the background. Courtesy of Donald M. McPherson, 1973 NH 77366

The war was the end of Dixie Kiefer. The hard-to-kill carrier man died at age 49 on 11 November 1945 in the crash of a transport plane on Mount Beacon, New York. He is buried at Arlington.

After a period in mothballs, Tico was returned to service during the Korean War and sent for an SCB-27C conversion to better suit the new jet planes that filled the Navy’s hangars, installing catapults and better aircraft handling systems. On 11 September 1954, Ticonderoga recommissioned but was soon further converted to SCB-125 format– one of just 14 such Essex-class carriers given the angled deck/hurricane bow improvements. This earned her a new designation, as an attack carrier (CVA 14).

By late 1957, she was on her first West Pac deployment since 1945. She would make six more by 1964.

80-G-1010802 USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14), full stern view, March 1957.

80-G-1010802 USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14), full stern view, March 1957.

USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) moored at a pier, probably at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On deck are various aircraft of Carrier Air Group 5 (CVG-5) which had been assigned to the Ticonderoga for a deployment to the Western Pacific from 10 May 1961 to 15 January 1962. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.045

USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) moored at a pier, probably at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. On deck are various aircraft of Carrier Air Group 5 (CVG-5) which had been assigned to the Ticonderoga for a deployment to the Western Pacific from 10 May 1961 to 15 January 1962. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.045

In the first U.S. naval action off Vietnam, the Tonkin Gulf Incident, Tico was there. On 2 August 1964, she sent rocket-armed F-8E Crusaders to respond to urgent calls from the destroyer Maddox (DD-731), who had reported being attacked by North Vietnamese Navy PT boats, leaving one boat dead in the water and damaging the other two. A few days later her planes reportedly destroyed another 25 boats at dock in a retaliatory strike.

When she would return to Vietnam in 1965, it would be as a full-time warfighter, delivering some 10,000 combat sorties from her position on Dixie and Yankee Stations, losing 16 planes to enemy fire and accident.

Just days after the first major U.S. engagement in Vietnam, at the of Ia Drang Valley, near Christmas 1965, Bob Hope and his cast of supporting acts landed on Tico and entertained her 2,000-man crew, famously hitting golf balls off her deck.

Entertainer Bob Hope tees-off on the flight deck aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) during his visit to the carrier off the coast of Vietnam on 26 December 1965. USN Photo 030728-N-0000X-001

Entertainer Bob Hope tees-off on the flight deck aboard the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) during his visit to the carrier off the coast of Vietnam on 26 December 1965. USN Photo 030728-N-0000X-001

Bob Hope during the 1965 Christmas show aboard the USS Ticonderoga. GARY COOPER STARS AND STRIPES

Bob Hope during the 1965 Christmas show aboard the USS Ticonderoga back when the Navy was hairier. GARY COOPER STARS AND STRIPES

As reported by Stars and Stripes “Some of the men, exhausted from launching strike after strike recently, were almost too tired to watch the show. One rolled over and mumbled to a buddy, ‘wake me when the broads come on.’

The 2-hour long Christmas Special was broadcast at home on NBC for the country to get a soda straw window into Vietnam through the carefully controlled lens.

USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) Refueling from USS Ashtabula (AO-51), while operating off the coast of Vietnam, circa early 1966. Although seas were running very high, the ships completed replenishment and Ticonderoga received 175,000 gallons of black oil. The original print was received by the All Hands magazine Editorial Department on 14 February 1966. NH 97487

USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14) Refueling from USS Ashtabula (AO-51), while operating off the coast of Vietnam, circa early 1966. Although seas were running very high, the ships completed replenishment and Ticonderoga received 175,000 gallons of black oil. The original print was received by the All Hands magazine Editorial Department on 14 February 1966. NH 97487

Back to Yankee Station in 1966-67, her airwing would run another 11,650 combat sorties, earning a Navy Unit Commendation, her second. Her 1968 deployment saw 13,000 sorties. By early 1969, Tico was on her fifth consecutive combat deployment (third Navy Unit Commendation) to Southeast Asia.

Caption: At sea, the Attack Carrier USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) is underway in November 1968. Note her A-3, A-4, and F-8 airwing. USN 1129290

A U.S. Navy Vought F-8H Crusader from Fighter Squadron 111 (VF-111) Sundowners on the forward elevator of the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVA-14), 1969.

In 1970, she would be given a reprieve from operating A-4s, F-8s and the like off Vietnam and Ticonderoga was re-designated (CVS-14), tasked with ASW combat for which she carried SH-3 sub-hunting helicopters and S-2 Tracker patrol planes. Her next two West Pac cruises were spent in exercises with allied nations and in the quieter past-time that was keeping tabs on Soviet subs.

USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) lit up for Christmas at Naval Air Station North Island, California in December 1971. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.067

USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) lit up for Christmas at Naval Air Station North Island, California in December 1971. U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.488.039.067

USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) underway off San Diego, California, after departing Naval Air Station, North Island, for her final Western Pacific deployment, 17 May 1972. USN 1152586

USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) underway off San Diego, California, after departing Naval Air Station, North Island, for her final Western Pacific deployment, 17 May 1972. USN 1152586

It was during this time she came to be loaned out to support NASA on three different, but noteworthy occasions.

In April 1972, HC-1 Sea Kings from USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) recovered Apollo 16, returning from an 11-day mission to the moon that brought back 213 lbs. of lunar material.

The Pacific Ocean. A view of the recovery carrier for the Apollo 16, USS Ticonderoga (CVS 14) with Apollo 16 spelt out on the flight deck. Photographed by PH1 Carl R. Begy on April 29, 1972. 428-GX-USN 1152791

The Pacific Ocean. A view of the recovery carrier for the Apollo 16, USS Ticonderoga (CVS 14) with Apollo 16 spelled out on the flight deck. Photographed by PH1 Carl R. Begy on April 29, 1972. 428-GX-USN 1152791

The mission was repeated in December 1972 with Apollo 17. Then, HC-1 was used about 200 miles east of Pago Pago in the South Pacific to recover the last manned mission to the moon (a footnote that still stands).

A U.S. Navy Sikorsky SH-3G Sea King (BuNo 149930) of Helicopter Combat Support Squadron 1 (HC-1) “Pacific Fleet Angels” recovers an Apollo 17 astronaut on 19 December 1972, with the aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14) in the background. NASA Photo ap17-S72-55974.

A water-level view of the Apollo 17 Command Module (CM) floating in the Pacific Ocean following splashdown and prior to recovery. The prime recovery ship, the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14), is in the background. When this picture was taken, the three-man crew of astronauts Eugene A. Cernan, Ronald E. Evans and Harrison H. Schmitt, had already been picked up by helicopter and flown to the deck of the recovery ship. The spacecraft was later hoisted aboard the USS Ticonderoga. A United States Navy UDT swimmer stands on the flotation collar. Apollo 17 splashdown occurred at 13:24:59 (CST), 19 December 1972, about 350 nautical miles southeast of Samoa. NASA photo: S72-56147

Another key facet of Apollo 17 was the space vessel’s Command Module Pilot, CAPT. Ronald E. Evans, USN, established a record of more time in lunar orbit than anyone else in the world, a record that stands to this day. As a happy coincidence, Evans was flying Vietnam combat operations with VF-51 in F-8 Crusaders aboard Ticonderoga when he heard of his selection to NASA in 1966.

Evans, as a Tiger. He died in 1990.

In June 1973, Tico was tapped again to support NASA and picked up the three-man all-Navy crew (CAPT Charles Conrad Jr., CDR Joseph P. Kerwin, and CDR Paul J. Weitz, USN) of Skylab 2, the first U.S. manned orbiting space station after they had completed 404 orbits.

22 June 1973 The Skylab 2 Command Module, with astronauts Charles Conrad Jr., Joseph P. Kerwin and Paul J. Weitz still inside, floats in the Pacific Ocean following successful splashdown about 835 miles southwest of San Diego, California. The prime recovery ship, USS Ticonderoga, approaches from the left background. A recovery helicopter hovers in the foreground. The three Skylab 2 crewmen had just completed a 28-day stay with the Skylab 1 space station in Earth orbit conducting numerous medical, scientific and technological experiments. NASA Photo S73-29147

22 June 1973 The Skylab 2 Command Module, with astronauts Charles Conrad Jr., Joseph P. Kerwin and Paul J. Weitz still inside, floats in the Pacific Ocean following successful splashdown about 835 miles southwest of San Diego, California. The prime recovery ship, USS Ticonderoga, approaches from the left background. A recovery helicopter hovers in the foreground. The three Skylab 2 crewmen had just completed a 28-day stay with the Skylab 1 space station in Earth orbit conducting numerous medical, scientific and technological experiments. NASA Photo S73-29147

On 1 September 1973, the old carrier, which had picked up 17 battle stars (5 WWII, 12 Vietnam) was found to be unfit for further naval service. Her name was struck from the Navy List on 16 November 1973 and she was sold for scrap the next year to Zidell Explorations Corp. for a bid of $601,999.99 (she had originally cost Uncle $78 million in 1944 dollars to build).

USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) Being scrapped at Tacoma, Washington, 1975. NH 89301

USS TICONDEROGA (CVA-14) Being scrapped at Tacoma, Washington, 1975. NH 89301

Her bell is preserved aboard Naval Station North Island.

USS Ticonderoga Veterans’ Association

As for her sisters, only four (of 24) remained with the fleet longer than Tico did– Intrepid (decommissioned 1974), Hancock (1976), Oriskany (1976) and Lexington (1990). Today, four Essex-class carriers are semi-preserved (Intrepid, Lexington, Yorktown, and Hornet) as floating museums.

Tico is remembered in several works of maritime art in the public collection.

USS TICONDEROGA (CVS-14) Port side view showing the launching of S-2 and SH-3 units of HELISUPRON-1. NH 78896-KN

USS TICONDEROGA (CVS-14) Port side view showing the launching of S-2 and SH-3 units of HELISUPRON-1. NH 78896-KN

USS Ticonderoga at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. "After nearly thirty years of service to the Navy starting in World War II, one of USS Ticonderoga's last missions was the recovery of the astronauts of Apollo 17. The artwork shows the ship waiting at Pearl Harbor for orders to go on station near American Samoa." Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Paul D. Ortlip; 1972; Framed Dimensions 25H X 31W Accession #: 88-162-OZ

USS Ticonderoga at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. “After nearly thirty years of service to the Navy starting in World War II, one of USS Ticonderoga’s last missions was the recovery of the astronauts of Apollo 17. The artwork shows the ship waiting at Pearl Harbor for orders to go on station near American Samoa.” Painting, Watercolor on Paper; by Paul D. Ortlip; 1972; Framed Dimensions 25H X 31W Accession #: 88-162-OZ

"Back from the Moon, The press conference given by the astronauts" Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Paul D. Ortlip; 1972; Framed Dimensions 57H X 76W Accession #: 88-162-OR Apollo 17 was the sixth and final manned mission to the moon. Captain Eugene Cernan, USN, Captain Ronald Evans, USN and Harrison Schmidt are greeted by dignitaries, the press and crew of USS TICONDEROGA upon their return.

“Back from the Moon, The press conference given by the astronauts” Painting, Oil on Canvas; by Paul D. Ortlip; 1972; Framed Dimensions 57H X 76W Accession #: 88-162-OR Apollo 17 was the sixth and final manned mission to the moon. Captain Eugene Cernan, USN, Captain Ronald Evans, USN, and Harrison Schmidt are greeted by dignitaries, the press and crew of USS TICONDEROGA upon their return.

After Tico‘s removal from the fleet, a new class of guided missile cruisers was commissioned, beginning with the lead ship (CG-47) named Ticonderoga.

USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) Transiting the Suez Canal enroute to the Mediterranean Sea, following a deployment in support of Operation Desert Shield, 22 August 1990. Photographer: PH3 Frank A. Marquart. NH 106516-KN

USS Ticonderoga (CG-47) Transiting the Suez Canal en route to the Mediterranean Sea, following a deployment in support of Operation Desert Shield, 22 August 1990. Photographer: PH3 Frank A. Marquart. NH 106516-KN

Both the carrier and cruiser’s flames are kept alive by the well-organized USS Ticonderoga Veterans’ Association who are actively requesting a new warship be named after their vessels.

And of course, all the former Ticos are remembered and celebrated at the New York town of the same name and by the Fort Ticonderoga Museum, where a display of artifacts to the ships exists.

Of the men Tico brought back home from space, Navy CAPT. Eugene Andrew Cernan, the last man to walk on the lunar surface, died in 2017, aged 82. The former Skylab 2 crew, Kerwin- Conrad-Weitz, have all since joined their friends on the wall. This leaves just Harrison “Jack” Schmitt, and Charles “Charlie” Duke, both 83, of Apollo 16 and 17, respectively, still on this side of the wall.

Specs:

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) At sea off the Philippines, just prior to her first strike against the Japanese, 5 November 1944. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. NH 92243

USS Ticonderoga (CV-14) At sea off the Philippines, just prior to her first strike against the Japanese, 5 November 1944. The ship is painted in camouflage Measure 33, Design 10a. NH 92243

Displacement: As built:
27,100 tons standard
Length: As built:
888 feet (271 m) overall
Beam: As built:
93 feet (28 m) waterline
Draft: As built:
28 feet 7 inches (8.71 m) light
Propulsion: As designed:
8 × boilers
4 × Westinghouse geared steam turbines
4 × shafts
150,000 shp (110 MW)
Speed: 33 knots (61 km/h)
Complement: 3448 officers and enlisted
Armament: As built:
4 × twin 5 inch (127 mm)/38 caliber guns
4 × single 5 inch (127 mm)/38 caliber guns
8 × quadruple Bofors 40 mm guns
46 × single Oerlikon 20 mm cannons
Armor: As built:
4-inch (100 mm) belt
2.5-inch (60 mm) hangar deck
1.5-inch (40 mm) protective decks
1.5-inch (40 mm) conning tower
Aircraft carried: As built:
90–100 aircraft

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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

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Didn’t shoot it all? Bury it!

One common thing that happens all the time in the military is being issued too much ammo, such as on a live fire exercise, and intead of returning it which is a whole pain in the ass, it gets disposed of via E-tool.

Well apparently in 1945 when a B-24 unit was leaving England to return home, they left a few belts of .50 cal behind in the dirt of their borrowed RAF airstrip. Fast forward 70~ years and some aviation buffs dug up about 1,500 rounds of still very live tracer and ball ammo just three feet below the surface.

Heck, I am surprised they didn’t find a whole B-24!

More in my column at Guns.com.

Indy: Found

The long lost USS Indianapolis (CA-35) has been located at extreme depth by Microsoft wonk Paul Allen operating from the 250-foot R/V Petrel with state-of-the-art subsea equipment capable of diving to 6,000 meters.

Note her bell

Lost 30 July 1945, she was found 5,500 meters below the surface, resting on the floor of the North Pacific Ocean.

This photo was taken 27 July 1945, the day before she sailed from Guam to her doom, as documented by the ship’s photographer of USS Pandemus (ARL 18), on the back of the photo. This is probably the last photo taken of her. Caption on back of photo: “USS Indianapolis (CA 35) taken: 1530 27, July 1945, Apra Harbor, Guam, from USS Pandemus RL 18 as it passed heading for sea. Picture taken by Gus Buono”. U.S. Navy photo from the Collection of David Buell.

“To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling,” said Allen. “As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances. While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming.”

More here

The story of how Remington helped win the air war

On the skeet range at N.A.S. Saint Louis, Missouri, 29 April 1944. Gunner is Lieutenant Junior Grade Rothschild, instructed by Martin. Shotgun is a Remington Model 11, 12 gauge semiautomatic, on a shotgun mount assembly Mk. 1 Mod. 0 consisting of gun mount adapter Mk. 12 mod.2 and .30 caliber stand Mk.23 Mod.0. Note boxes of Peters “Victor” brand skeet cartridges. Description: Catalog #: 80-G-237387

Rapid sight alignment when leading a flying target was a skill quickly taught to aerial gunners in World War II with the help of more than 70,000 training shotguns.

The Model 11 was the first auto loading shotgun made in the USA. Patterned after the old Browning square back shotguns, this shotgun is reliable and effective. There were approximately 850,000 of these shotguns made from 1905 until 1947, and they are still considered classics.

It’s a simple concept, with a shotgun being easier and cheaper to cut a trainee’s teeth on “wing shooting” than a full-sized machine gun. Accordingly, the Army and Navy bought 59,961 Remington Model 11 semi-auto (the company’s version of the Browning A5) and 8,992 Model 31 pump-action shotguns as well as 204 million clay targets and got to work.

U.S. gunner with a training weapon, a or Remington Model 11 set up to emulate flexible-mount .50 caliber M2 Browning. The most common version was the Remington 11-A Standard Version with a 29-inch Barrel and a built in Cutts compensator.

The rest, as they say, is history.

Another 14,000 of these Remington Sportsman guns were delivered with the smaller 20-inch barrel and different stock from the Remington 11-R version (Riot special-made for the Police market) for issue to military police, penal units and base guard forces, but that’s another story.

Scratching that Unterseeboot itch from the air

While 765 German U-boats were lost by all causes in WWII, one of the leading was due to Allied air attacks, especially after late 1942. Here are a few of the losses that made the photo gallery.

80-G-323977 Operation Torch, November 1942. An aerial attack on a French submarine off the coast of French Morocco. I’m not sure which one of the Vichy subs this is as two were lost during the battle with the Diane-class submarine La Sybille lost at sea on 8 November and the L’Espoire-class submarine Le Tonnant was scuttled off Cadiz 15 November as result of battle damage.

80-G-208592: German U-boat, U-849, attacked and sunk by a U.S. PBY-1 Liberator (navalised B-24) aircraft from VP-107 in the South Atlantic, West of Congo estuary. The pilot shown here is Lieutenant Junior Grade Vance Dawkins, USNR. Incident #5054. U-849, a long-range Type IXD2 U-boat was splashed 25 November 1943, lost with all hands. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

80-G-222832 U-271, a German a Type VIIC, being sunk off Ireland by a Liberator aircraft of VB-103 on 28 January 1944 in the Northwest Atlantic. Incident #5430. While a member of both the Rügen and Hinein Wolfpacks, and a participant in three patrols, U-271 did not achieve any kills.

80-G-222832 U-271, a German a Type VIIC, being sunk off Ireland by a Liberator aircraft of VB-103 on 28 January 1944 in the Northwest Atlantic. Incident #5430. While a member of both the Rügen and Hinein Wolfpacks, and a participant in three patrols, U-271 did not achieve any kills.

80-G-222857: Two PBY’s, from VP-63, piloted by Lieutenant Junior Grade T.R. Wooley and Lieutenant R. J. Baker aided by two Royal Navy destroyers HMS Anthony (R-40) and HMS Wishant (I-67) sank German U-boat, U-761, in the Strait of Gibraltar on 24 February 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

80-G-222857: Two PBY’s, from VP-63, piloted by Lieutenant Junior Grade T.R. Wooley and Lieutenant R. J. Baker aided by two Royal Navy destroyers HMS Anthony (R-40) and HMS Wishant (I-67) sank German U-boat, U-761, in the Strait of Gibraltar on 24 February 1944. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Barn find P-51 in circa 1972 Fuerza Aérea Guatemalteca condition

From Platinum Fighters.

We recently pulled P-51D N38227 out of the hangar for the first time in 30 years. This airplane is in the same condition it was when it flew with the Guatemalan Air Force over 45 years ago. Sold with the worlds largest private inventory of Merlin engines and P-51 airframe parts – many New Old Stock.

For more information see here

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