Tuesday, March 29, 2011
Figure 1: USS Tarpon (SS-175) underway on the surface, circa 1937. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Tarpon (SS-175) underway on the surface, circa 1937. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Tarpon (SS-175) recovering a practice torpedo, during exercises off San Diego, California, 22 August 1937. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Tarpon (SS-175) underway on the surface, circa 1937. Crewmen appear to be preparing to bring her 3-inch deck gun into action. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: USS Tarpon (SS-175) surfacing, with her bow at a relatively steep "up" angle, circa 1937. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS Tarpon (SS-175) underway with her deck awash, circa 1937. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Tarpon (SS-175) surfacing with her bow at a shallow "up" angle, circa 1937. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 8: USS Tarpon (SS-175) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, at the conclusion of an overhaul, 30 September 1942. Note barrage balloons in the distance. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 9: USS Tarpon (SS-175) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, at the conclusion of an overhaul, 30 September 1942. Note the two recently installed external bow torpedo tubes. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 10: USS Tarpon (SS-175) off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, at the conclusion of an overhaul, 30 September 1942. Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 11: USS Tarpon (SS-175) at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, at the conclusion of an overhaul, 24 September 1942. Circles mark recent alterations to the ship. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 12: USS Tarpon (SS-175) at the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, at the conclusion of an overhaul, 24 September 1942. Circles mark recent alterations to the ship. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the US National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after a large, herring-like fish, the 1,316-ton USS Tarpon was the second of two Shark class submarines. The ship was built by the Electric Boat Company at Groton, Connecticut, and was commissioned on 12 March 1936. Tarpon was approximately 298 feet long and 25 feet wide, had a top surface speed of 19.5 knots and a submerged speed of 8 knots, and had a crew of 50 officers and men. The submarine was armed with six 21-inch torpedo tubes, carried a total of 16 torpedoes, and had one 3-inch deck gun.
After being commissioned, Tarpon was based at San Diego, California, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, with Submarine Division (SubDiv) 13 for several years and then was assigned to SubDiv 14. In October 1939, Tarpon and SubDiv 14 were transferred to the Philippines to support the six old S-boat submarines that were based at Manila. These ships eventually were formed into Submarine Squadron 5 and in October 1941, SubDivs 15 and 16 were also transferred from Pearl Harbor to Manila. This increased the number of submarines in the US Asiatic Fleet to 29.
Two days after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, 18 submarines left the Philippines and began their first war patrol. Tarpon patrolled an area to the southeast of the island of Luzon in the Philippines. Unfortunately, all of the Japanese ships Tarpon located were steaming at unfavorable firing angles, so the ship was unable to fire a single torpedo. Tarpon ended her first war patrol at Darwin, Australia, on 11 January 1942.
Tarpon’s second war patrol began on 25 January 1942 and it took her to the waters off the Moluccan Islands, which are part of present-day Indonesia. On 30 January, Tarpon located a Japanese convoy, but the convoy’s heavy escort prevented the submarine from attacking. On 1 February, Tarpon spotted a Japanese freighter and quickly fired a spread of four torpedoes at the ship. At least one torpedo hit. Tarpon fired two more torpedoes at the damaged Japanese merchant ship and both of them hit as well. Seeing that the freighter was sinking, Tarpon left the scene assuming the ship was finished. But postwar analysis of Japanese records did not confirm a “kill,” so the freighter must have somehow managed to stay afloat after Tarpon left. On the evening of 11 February, while steaming on the surface, Tarpon was suddenly illuminated by the searchlight of an enemy warship. Tarpon quickly dove and tried to escape her attacker, but was shaken badly after the Japanese warship dropped four depth charges on her. The underwater explosions knocked out Tarpon’s bow planes, rudder angle indicator, and port annunciator. Then on the evening of 23 and 24 February, while steaming on the surface the submarine ran aground while trying to go through Boling Strait, west of Flores Island. The crew jettisoned ammunition, fresh water, fuel, and even torpedoes in an effort to lighten the ship. But nothing worked. Then some natives in a small boat paddled to the grounded submarine. The natives met with the ship’s commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Lewis Wallace, and he agreed to send an officer with the natives back to the nearby island of Adunara for help. The natives took one of Tarpon’s officers back to Adunara where they met the only Westerner on the island, a Dutch missionary by the name of Pastor H. yon Den Rulst. The small group of men returned to Tarpon, where the Dutch missionary informed the captain that the next high tide would be between 1600 and 1800 hours. Pastor Rulst also warned Lieutenant Commander Wallace that there were a lot of Japanese aircraft patrolling the area and that the crew would simply have to wait until the tide came in, causing much tension on board the ship. Fortunately, the tide came in when the pastor said it would and, with three of Tarpon’s engines backing up at full speed, the ship finally managed to pull itself off the bottom. Tarpon arrived at Fremantle, Australia, on 5 March, a bit shaken but still intact.
Tarpon’s third wartime patrol began on 28 March 1942 and ended when she arrived at Pearl Harbor on 17 May. She had made no contacts except for an enemy hospital ship. The ship’s next patrol took her north of Oahu, Hawaii, but lasted only 10 days, from 30 May to 9 June. No enemy shipping was found and Tarpon was then sent to San Francisco, California, for a badly needed overhaul that lasted until 30 September 1942.
On 22 October 1942, Tarpon left Pearl Harbor and began her fifth war patrol which brought her to the waters north of Bougainville in the Solomon Islands. The submarine spotted numerous fishing boats but no warships or merchant ships. Tarpon ended this patrol at Midway Island on 10 December.
Tarpon returned to Pearl Harbor for another overhaul and began her sixth wartime patrol on 10 January 1943. She was sent to the Japanese home waters, just south of the island of Honshu. At 2130 on 1 February, Tarpon fired four torpedoes at a large ship and scored one hit. The target turned out to be the 10,935-ton Japanese passenger-cargo ship Fushima Maru. Two more torpedoes were fired at the damaged Japanese ship and both hit, breaking the vessel in two. After the ship sank, Tarpon left the area and prowled the waters around the island of Truk. On 8 February, the submarine made radar contact with a large, unidentified enemy ship. Tarpon fired a spread of four torpedoes and all of them hit the target. Tarpon had to submerge and go deep because the escorts of the doomed ship raced after the American submarine. The stricken Japanese ship was the 16,975-ton transport Tatsuta Maru, bound for Truk with a large contingent of soldiers on board. The transport sank with heavy loss of life as Tarpon slipped away from the aggressive Japanese escorts. After that attack, Tarpon returned to Midway on 25 February.
Tarpon’s seventh patrol was conducted from 29 March to 15 May 1943, near Tarawa in the Marshall Islands. But no ships were sunk and the submarine returned to Midway. On 30 July, Tarpon was sent back to Japanese home waters for her eighth wartime patrol. The submarine sighted a Japanese task force which included an aircraft carrier, but the task force’s high speed made it impossible to attack. Then on 21 August, Tarpon spotted two large cargo ships under heavy escort. Tarpon fired a spread of three torpedoes at each cargo ship and damaged both of them. On 28 August, Tarpon sighted another Japanese freighter and damaged it as the enemy ship was leaving Mikura Shima. On 4 September, the American submarine sank a Japanese patrol ship, killing the entire crew. Tarpon returned to Midway on 8 September.
For her ninth war patrol, Tarpon returned to the Japanese island of Honshu from 1 October to 3 November 1943. On the evening of 16 October, Tarpon was patrolling of Yokohama when she spotted a large ship, possibly an auxiliary cruiser (basically armed merchant ships used as convoy escorts). Tarpon followed the mystery ship until 0156 the next morning, when she fired four torpedoes at her. At least one of the torpedoes hit and the ship stopped dead in the water. But the wounded enemy ship began moving again and headed straight for Tarpon. The American submarine submerged and moved directly underneath the wounded ship. Tarpon then came to periscope depth on the other side of the ship and fired a spread of three more torpedoes. One of them hit the enemy ship’s stern. Yet the ship still would not sink. Frustrated at the inability to sink this ship, the captain of Tarpon fired another torpedo at the mystery ship and hit it, causing a huge explosion. After the smoke cleared, the ship was gone. Postwar examination of enemy records showed that the ship sunk by Tarpon that night was the German surface raider Michel, which had been attacking unarmed Allied merchant ships in both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Michel was one of the few German warships to be sunk by a US Navy submarine during World War II. At the end of her patrol, Tarpon returned to Pearl Harbor.
Tarpon made three more wartime cruises, all of them involving either special missions or lifeguard duties in the central Pacific. On 14 October 1944, at the end of her twelfth war patrol, the now elderly submarine was retired from combat duties. Tarpon left Pearl Harbor on 24 December and was sent to the East Coast, arriving at New London, Connecticut, on 17 January 1945. She spent what was left of the war as a training ship and was decommissioned at Boston, Massachusetts, on 15 November 1945. In 1947, Tarpon became a stationary Naval Reserve training submarine at New Orleans, Louisiana. She served in that capacity until 5 September 1956, when she was stricken from the Navy list. Tarpon sank while under tow off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, on 26 August 1957, probably while being used as a target. USS Tarpon received seven battle stars for her service during World War II.
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
Figure 1: USS Florida (BM-9) photographed in 1904 by Enrique Muller, while serving with the Coast Squadron training midshipmen on summer cruises and operating along the East Coast and in Caribbean waters. Photo courtesy of greatwhitefleet.info, by William Stewart. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: Postcard of USS Florida (BM-9). Image taken from a photograph by Enrique Muller, 1905. Photograph courtesy of SK/3 Tommy Trampp. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: Postcard of USS Florida (BM-9). Image possibly taken from a photograph by Enrique Muller, 1905, and published by Tuck & Sons. Photograph courtesy of Henry Higgins. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: The submarines K-6 and K-5 alongside the monitor USS Tallahassee (formerly USS Florida, BM-9) at Hampton Roads, Virginia, 10 December 1916. Photograph from the National Archives & Record Administration (NARA), Record Group 19-N, Box 33. Click on photograph for larger image.
The 3,225-ton USS Florida (BM-9) was an Arkansas class monitor built by the Crescent Shipyard at Elizabethport, New Jersey, and was commissioned on 18 June 1903. The ship was approximately 252 feet long and 50 feet wide, had a top speed of 12 knots, and had a crew of 220 officers and men. Florida was armed with two 12-inch guns in a single turret, four single 4-inch guns, and one 3-inch gun.
After briefly being assigned to the US Navy’s “Coast Squadron,” Florida was used as a training ship on summer cruises for midshipmen attending the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland. While serving in this capacity, she steamed along America’s East Coast and in the Caribbean. Florida also took part in the Presidential Naval Review held by Theodore Roosevelt at Oyster Bay, Long Island, on 3 September 1906. Four days later, Florida became a full-time training ship at the Naval Academy. The ship was placed in reserve on 11 September 1906, but was fully commissioned from 7 June to 30 August 1907 for a midshipman cruise. Once the cruise was completed, the ship was decommissioned and placed in reserve.
From 21 May to 19 June 1908, Florida was subjected to an extraordinary set of ordnance tests. Florida was used as a target ship while her sister ship, the monitor USS Arkansas, fired several shots at Florida using her 12-inch and 4-inch guns. According to the US Navy at the time, the tests were conducted “to strike the Florida’s turret with an energy little short of penetration, in such a way that most of the [shell] fragments will fly across the bows clear of the ship. It is not intended to penetrate the turret armor, and the test is in no respect a contest of gun against armor or armor against gun, the effect of the shock only being desired. The shock, under the conditions above noted, will be approximately the greatest that could be experienced in battle.” An experimental steel “cage” mast also was placed on board Florida for the test and the shell hits would determine the sturdiness of the new mast design. The test took place on 27 May 1908 off Hampton Roads, Virginia, with Arkansas firing several shots at Florida at close range. Evidently, Florida survived the test very well. According to an article in the New York Tribune dated 28 May 1908, “The biggest naval gun, the heaviest projectile and the highest explosive known, combined with close range and deadly aim, were allowed to work their full havoc on the turret plate of the monitor Florida today. The result is declared to be a victory for turret construction, and this notwithstanding the 11-inch hardened steel plate was blackened, broken, the seams of the turret sprung and the rivets and screws loosened and twisted.” The article went on to say that Florida’s 12-inch guns were still operational even after being pounded by Arkansas. In addition, the experimental “cage” mast that was placed on board Florida for the test also sustained only minor damage and withstood all of the shell hits. The test proved that although monitors were very slow and rapidly becoming obsolete in terms of naval technology, they were still formidable warships and hard to sink. Then, incredibly, Florida was repaired after this test and returned to the fleet. This is probably the only time in American naval history where a warship was actually used as a target for target practice and then repaired and sent back to active duty.
On 1 July 1908, USS Florida was renamed USS Tallahassee to free up the state’s name for a new battleship that was being built. On 1 August 1910, Tallahassee was placed in reserve and became a gunnery test ship and performed occasional duties as a submarine tender in the Panama Canal Zone and at Norfolk, Virginia. During World War I, the ship served as a submarine tender in the Panama Canal Zone, the Virgin Islands, and Bermuda. On 30 September 1918, Tallahassee entered Charleston Navy Yard at Charleston, South Carolina, and was decommissioned there on 3 December.
Tallahassee was assigned to the Sixth Naval District as a reserve training ship on 19 February 1920, but was not re-commissioned. The ship was officially placed back in commission as a training ship from 3 September 1920 to 24 March 1922, when Tallahassee was decommissioned for the last time. USS Tallahassee was sold for scrapping at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 25 July 1922.
Tuesday, March 15, 2011
Figure 1: USS Fulton (AS-1) at the Naval Submarine Base at New London, Connecticut, during World War I. USS Ardent (SP-680) is partially visible on the opposite side of the pier. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: USS Fulton (AS-1) at the Naval Submarine Base at New London, Connecticut, during World War I. A motor launch is in the center foreground and USS Ardent (SP-680) is at the right. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: USS Fulton (AS-1) with submarines alongside, probably during or soon after World War I. The third submarine from the left (second outboard of Fulton) is a Lake-type "boat," probably L-5, L-6 or L-7. Donation of Captain Stephen S. Roberts, USNR (Retired), 2008. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: USS Fulton (AS-1) towing the submarine G-1, circa 1915. The original print's reverse contains the hand written comment: "Towed 30 hrs. parted two line off Cape Hatteras, Fulton relieved by Castine, Castine stood by G-1 in storm off Hatteras for 48 hrs. before she could pick her up. G-1 registered a roll of 72 degrees. Arrow over rubber necks head." "Rubber neck" is probably Chief Quartermaster John Harold. Collection of Chief Quartermaster John Harold. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Ship's Chief Petty Officers of USS Fulton (AS-1) photographed on board the ship at the New London submarine base, New London, Connecticut, in 1919. The conning tower of USS H-2 (Submarine # 29) is visible in the right background. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 6: USS G-2 (Submarine # 27) underway, circa 1916, with USS Fulton (AS-1) following astern. Courtesy of Alfred Cellier, 1977. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 7: USS Fulton (AS-1) underway in New York Harbor, date unknown. Photo from "Jane's All The World's Fighting Ships 1924." Click on photograph for larger image.
Named after the famous American inventor Robert Fulton (1765-1815), the 1,308-ton USS Fulton was a submarine tender that was built by the New London Ship and Engine Company at Groton, Connecticut, and was commissioned on 7 December 1914. The ship was approximately 226 feet long and 35 feet wide, had a top speed of 12 knots, and had a crew of 135 officers and men. Fulton was armed with two 3-inch guns.
After being commissioned, Fulton spent the first six months of her career tending submarines at Norfolk, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; New York City; and Newport, Rhode Island. Then, after undergoing an overhaul, she arrived at New London, Connecticut, on 2 November 1915. New London would be Fulton’s primary base of operations until 1922, although during that time she also visited ports along America’s east coast, the Caribbean, and Cuba. Fulton also participated in numerous naval exercises, acted as the station ship at New London, and during the summer of 1922 served as the flagship for the Commander of the Atlantic Submarine Flotillas.
Fulton became a submarine tender at Coco Solo, Panama Canal Zone, on 4 April 1923 and for the next year participated in naval exercises on both sides of the Panama Canal. During that time, she also completed a survey of Almirante Bay, Panama. Fulton returned to Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on 14 July 1925 and was decommissioned there and placed in reserve on 5 October.
Fulton was re-commissioned on 2 September 1930 and was given the assignment of acting as a survey ship in the Panama Canal Zone. On 29 September 1930, Fulton was re-classified a gunboat and designated PG-49. On 3 March 1931, Fulton returned to Balboa, Panama, but was eventually sent to San Diego, California, arriving there on 13 August 1932. Once in San Diego, she was converted into a gunboat to serve with the US Asiatic Fleet in Hong Kong. Fulton arrived at Hong Kong on 3 November 1932. Although she made occasional trips to the Cavite Navy Yard in the Philippines, Fulton’s primary assignment was to patrol off the southern coast of China, from Hong Kong to Canton. Like all US Navy gunboats at that time, her primary duty was to protect American lives and property in China. But on 14 March 1934, disaster struck when a major fire broke out amidships on board Fulton. Faulty exhaust lines from a diesel engine ignited some oil and the fire spread rapidly. The crew quickly assembled on the bow and the stern of the ship, awaiting rescue. Fortunately, the British destroyer HMS Wishart and the steamer SS Tsinan were able to come alongside the stricken American gunboat and evacuate the crew. Another British destroyer, HMS Whitshed, stood by the burning ship until a salvage party made up of Fulton’s crewmembers could be placed on board the gunboat. Once they were finally transferred back to Fulton, the salvage party managed to bring the fire under control. An American tug towed Fulton to Hong Kong where she received emergency repairs which enabled her to be towed to Cavite. Fulton made it to Cavite but was probably considered not worth salvaging because she was decommissioned on 12 May 1934. After twenty years of service, USS Fulton was sold for scrapping on 6 June 1935.
Fire has been and always will be a major danger on board all ships. Fortunately, the fire that destroyed USS Fulton did not claim any lives.
Tuesday, March 8, 2011
Figure 1: British destroyer HMS Charity off the coast of Korea while covering Operation "Fishnet," which was intended to destroy North Korean fishing nets in an effort to reduce Communist forces' food supplies. Photograph is dated 16 September 1952. Official US Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: HMS Charity, date and place unknown on the original photograph, although the background is probably the Island of Malta. Royal Navy Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: British Commonwealth destroyers moored off Yokosuka, Japan, after returning from combat patrols in Korean waters. Photo is dated 26 January 1951. The ships are (from left to right): HMAS Warramunga (Australian destroyer, 1942); HMS Charity (British destroyer, 1945) and HMAS Bataan (Australian destroyer, 1945). Official US Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: PNS (Pakistani Naval Service) Shah Jahan (formerly HMS Charity) underway circa 1959, location unknown. Official photo from the Pakistani Navy. This photograph was reproduced in "Jane's Fighting Ships, 1961-62 edition." Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: Soviet Osa I class missile boat, similar to the Indian Navy’s Vidyut class missile boats that attacked the Pakistani Navy’s Shah Jahan on 4 December 1971 during the Indo-Pakistan War.
HMS Charity was a 2,520-ton, C-class destroyer that was built for the British Royal Navy by John Thornycroft & Company at Woolston, Southampton, England, and was commissioned on 19 November 1945, shortly after the end of World War II. The ship was approximately 363 feet long and 36 feet wide, had a top speed of 37 knots, and had a crew of 186 officers and men. Charity was armed with four 4.5-inch guns, six 40-mm guns, four 2-pounders, several 20-mm cannons, four 21-inch torpedo tubes, and four depth-charge throwers plus two racks of depth charges, for a total of 96 depth charges.
After spending five years in the post-World War II Royal Navy, Charity played an active role in the Korean War. Charity was part of the British Commonwealth naval forces (made up of English, Australian, New Zealand, and Canadian warships) sent to Korea to assist United Nations ground forces in pushing back the North Korean invasion of South Korea which started on 25 June 1950. Charity participated in blockade, escort, and bombardment missions on both sides of the Korean peninsula. Although tedious, blockade duty proved critical in preventing the communist forces in North Korea from obtaining much of the vital food and munitions they needed. Also, Charity and many escort ships like her, steamed very close to the North Korean coastline, providing gun support for the Allied troops on land. But this also made them perfect targets for communist shore batteries. Many Commonwealth warships came under fire from communist coastal batteries, but fortunately few were hit. Charity made it through the Korean War without sustaining any major damage.
After the Korean War, Charity spent a few more years in the Royal Navy before being sold to the United States Navy on 16 June 1958. She was overhauled and modernized at the shipyard of J. Samuel White in Cowes, England, under a US contract and was then transferred to the Pakistani Navy as part of the Military Aid Program (MAP) between the United States and Pakistan. The ship was renamed Shah Jahan (which literally means “Emperor of the World”) by the Pakistani Navy and was officially transferred on 16 December 1958.
For the next 13 years, Shah Jahan provided useful service for the Pakistani Navy. But on 3 December 1971, war erupted between India and Pakistan. On the night of 4 December, the Indian Navy launched “Operation Trident,” which was a naval attack on the main Pakistani naval base at Karachi, Pakistan. That evening, a small Indian assault group consisting of three Vidyut class missile boats (which were slightly modified versions of the Soviet Osa I class missile boat) and two Arnala class frigates (similar to the Soviet Petya class) approached Karachi. The Indian missile boats went ahead of the frigates and steered towards Karachi harbor while managing to avoid Pakistani reconnaissance aircraft and patrol vessels along the way. Roughly 70 miles south of the harbor, the Pakistani Shah Jahan was escorting the ammunition ship MV Venus Challenger and the two ships blundered right into the path of the oncoming Indian missile boats. The Indian missile boats spotted the two Pakistani ships and fired a salvo of Soviet-made SS-N-2 Styx missiles at them. The Venus Challenger was hit and the ammunition on board the ship blew up. The ship disintegrated and sank in minutes. At least one, possibly two, Indian missiles slammed into Shah Jahan. The resulting explosions critically damaged the destroyer, but the ship somehow managed to stay afloat. During this same attack, the Pakistani destroyer PNS Khaibar and the minesweeper PNS Muhafiz (which were on patrol near Karachi) were also sunk. No Indian warships were lost or even damaged during this very successful operation.
The severely damaged Shah Jahan was towed back to Karachi but was declared a total loss and had to be scrapped. The ship was built shortly after World War II, served proudly during the Korean War, and was destroyed in yet another war off the coast of Pakistan. But Shah Jahan’s loss, along with the other Pakistani ships that were lost on 4 December 1971, was notable for yet another reason. Operation Trident was the first time ship-launched missiles were used between India and Pakistan and it was also the first time naval warships were sunk in that region since those two countries obtained their independence from Great Britain. As a result of this major victory, India celebrates Navy Day annually on 4 December to commemorate Operation Trident.
Posted by Remo at 8:22 AM
Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Figure 1: Painting of USS Gettysburg by De Simone, depicting the ship underway in the Bay of Naples, Italy, in 1878. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 2: Ships of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron departing Hampton Roads, Virginia, en route to attack Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in December 1864. The ships present are (from left to right): a twin-turret monitor, probably USS Monadnock; USS New Ironsides; and an unidentified steam sloop of war. USS Gettysburg was part of this task force and actively participated in the assault on Fort Fisher. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 3: "The Bombardment of Fort Fisher, January 15, 1865." Engraving by T. Shussler, after an artwork by J.O. Davidson, published in "Battles and Leaders of the Civil War." It depicts ships of the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron bombarding Fort Fisher, North Carolina, prior to the ground assault that captured the fortification. USS Gettysburg was part of this assault on Fort Fisher. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 4: “Bombardment of Fort Fisher, 15 January 1865.” Lithograph after a drawing by T.F. Laycock, published by Endicott & Co., New York, 1865, depicting the North Atlantic Blockading Squadron bombarding Fort Fisher, North Carolina, in preparation for its capture. USS Gettysburg was part of this assault force. The print is dedicated to Commodore S.W. Godon, USN. Ships present, as named on the original print, are identified in Photo Number LC-USZ62-144 (complete caption). Collections of the Library of Congress. Click on photograph for larger image.
Figure 5: “Capture of Fort Fisher, North Carolina, 15 January 1865.” Watercolor by eyewitness Ensign John W. Grattan, of Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter's staff, depicting Porter's fleet bombarding the fort prior to the ground assault. Side-wheel steamer in the right foreground is Porter's flagship, USS Malvern. USS New Ironsides and USS Monadnock are in the right distance. USS Gettysburg was part of Porter’s task force and assisted in the assault on Fort Fisher. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation, Grattan Collection. US Naval Historical Center Photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.
The 950-ton, iron side-wheel steamship Douglas was built at Glasgow, Scotland, in 1858 for use as a merchant ship. She was purchased by the Confederate Navy in November 1862 and was used as a blockade runner. Douglas arrived at Charleston, South Carolina, in late January 1863, completing her first voyage through the Union blockade. Shortly after her arrival, the ship was renamed Margaret and Jessie. The ship proved to be strong, fast, and an ideal blockade runner. For the next nine months, Margaret and Jessie made eight trips through the federal blockade and into Southern ports, five to Charleston and three to Wilmington, North Carolina. But while attempting to enter Wilmington on her ninth trip, the ship was captured by USS Nansemond and the US Army transport Fulton on 5 November 1863.
Later that month, the Confederate blockade runner was taken by the US Navy and converted into a gunboat at the New York Navy Yard. She was renamed USS Gettysburg and was commissioned on 2 May 1864. The ship was approximately 221 feet long and 26 feet wide, had a top speed of 15 knots, and had a crew of 96 officers and men. Gettysburg was armed with one 30-pounder Parrott gun, two 12-pounders, and four 24-pounders. Gettysburg was immediately sent back off the southern coastline, only this time she was being used to enforce the Union blockade of the Confederate states. During 1864, Gettysburg captured three Confederate steamers that were trying to bring desperately needed supplies to the starving southern states. The new Union gunboat captured Little Ada on 9 July 1864, Lilian on 24 August, and Armstrong on 4 December.
Then on 24 to 25 December 1864, Gettysburg participated in Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter's giant Union naval assault on the Confederate stronghold of Fort Fisher, located at the entrance to the port of Wilmington. Gettysburg was part of the massive bombardment (made up of approximately 60 warships) of the fort prior to the landings made by federal Army troops. During the actual landings by those troops, Gettysburg remained close to shore and provided cannon fire support for the assault. Gettysburg’s boats were also used to help transport troops to the beaches.
But the first assault on Fort Fisher was a failure. After that, plans were made for a second assault, this time including a landing force of sailors and Marines from the Union warships who volunteered for a bloody frontal assault against the formidable Confederate stronghold. The second attack took place on 15 January 1865, with all of the warships off the coast, including Gettysburg, providing cover fire for the Union landing. Gettysburg’s captain, Lieutenant Roswell H. Lamson, along with a group of officers and men from the gunboat, volunteered as part of the landing force that was attacking the fort. Once they made it to shore under a hail of Confederate gunfire, Lamson and what was left of his men were stopped underneath the very ramparts of Fort Fisher. Lamson and his men were forced to spend the night in a ditch underneath the Confederate guns before they could escape the next day. Although the frontal assault made by the sailors and Marines failed to take Fort Fisher, the attack diverted enough attention from the Confederates to allow the simultaneous assault made by Union Army troops to succeed. Fort Fisher fell, although the Union side suffered well over 1,500 casualties during the battle. Gettysburg’s small crew lost two men killed and six men wounded during the land assault on Fort Fisher.
After the Battle of Fort Fisher, Gettysburg was used as a transport along the Atlantic coast until she was decommissioned on 23 June 1865. Gettysburg was re-commissioned on 3 December 1866. She made a brief visit to the Caribbean, but then was decommissioned once again on 1 March 1867. The ship was re-commissioned on 3 March 1868 and sent back to the Caribbean to do some scientific research and to protect American interests in the area. Gettysburg was again out of commission from October 1869 to November 1873, after which her next period of activity included transport duty along the Atlantic coast. From February to May 1874, she also supported a survey of possible inter-oceanic canal routes across Central America, a program that would eventually lead to the building of the Panama Canal.
Gettysburg was again out of commission from April to September 1875, but was re-commissioned and assigned to complete some navigational surveys in the West Indies towards the end of 1875 and during the first few months of 1876. After an overhaul back in the United States, Gettysburg was sent to the Mediterranean in October 1876 for more survey duty. For the next two years, the ship visited nearly every port in the Mediterranean, taking soundings and surveys on the southern coast of France, the entire coastline of Italy, and the Adriatic Islands. Gettysburg continued her work along the coasts of Turkey, Egypt, and the rest of North Africa, as well as Sicily and Sardinia. But the ship was almost worn out. Her iron plates were corroded after years of almost constant use and her engines were old and in poor condition. So USS Gettysburg was decommissioned for the last time on 6 May 1879 and was sold in Genoa, Italy, two days later, never to see the United States again.
Posted by Remo at 8:33 AM