Battlewagon Wednesday — Remember the Maine (ACR-1)

Today is the anniversary of the destruction of the USS Maine in Havana Harbor.

USS Maine (ACR-1)
USS Maine (ACR-1)

USS Maine (ACR-1) was laid down as an armored cruiser in 1888 and eventually came to be classed as a second-class battleship.

USS Maine (ACR-1)
Length: 324 feet
Displacement: 6,682 tons
Speed: 16 knots
Main armament: 4x 10″/30cal guns in two twin turrets, 6x 6″/30cal guns

One of the twin 10″ turrets was forward/starboard and the other was aft/port. The 6″ guns were in hull casemates.

USS Maine (ACR-1) Line Drawing
USS Maine (ACR-1) Line Drawing
USS Maine (ACR-1) passing under the Brooklyn Bridge
USS Maine (ACR-1) passing under the Brooklyn Bridge

The Maine exploded in Havana Harbor on the night of February 15, 1898. 260 men died. The explosion was blamed on a mine at the time, but other theories have a lot of support, as well. The leading theory now is that a spontaneous coal bunker fire set off the magazines.

Wreck of the USS Maine (ACR-1)
Wreck of the USS Maine (ACR-1)

The ship was raised in 1911 and the hulk was scuttled in 1912.

Here is a photo Murdoc took of the Battleship Maine Monument in Davenport Park, Bangor, Maine. The ship’s shield and scrolls were recovered from the wreckage.

Battleship Maine Monument in Bangor, Maine
Battleship Maine Monument in Bangor, Maine

USS Franklin turret in flames

View of the after 5"/38 twin gun mount of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV-13) burning, as her crew tried to control fires on 19 March 1945. The carrier had been hit by a Japanese air attack while operating off the coast of Japan. Photographed from USS Santa Fe (CL-60), which extinguished the fire in this gun mount by playing streams of water through the mount's open door. Later, the other 5"/38 twin gun mount also burned.
View of the after 5″/38 twin gun mount of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Franklin (CV-13) burning, as her crew tried to control fires on 19 March 1945. The carrier had been hit by a Japanese air attack while operating off the coast of Japan. Photographed from USS Santa Fe (CL-60), which extinguished the fire in this gun mount by playing streams of water through the mount’s open door. Later, the other 5″/38 twin gun mount also burned.

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In Vietnam Robin Moore became on the of the first true “embedded” journalists, training and fighting alongside America’s most elite fighters. Though fictionalized, The Green Berets exposed the American public to the horrors of the ground war in Vietnam, and gave the men of the Green Berets the recognition they deserved.

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Battlewagon Wednesday — USS Oklahoma in Cuba

USS Oklahoma (BB-37) in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 1920.
USS Oklahoma (BB-37) in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. 1920.

USS Oklahoma (BB-37) was a Nevada-class battleship laid down in 1912 and commissioned in 1916. She had ten 14″ 45cal guns in two triple and two twin turrets. She was torpedoed early in the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 and capsized quickly, with 429 men killed or missing. She was righted and refloated in 1943 but was a total loss. She sank in 1947 while being towed to the scrappers.

Battlewagon Wednesday: HMS Repulse

British battlecruiser HMS Repulse in WW1.
British battlecruiser HMS Repulse in WW1.

Main armament was six 15in guns in three twin turrets. The Renown-class ships were originally laid down as battleships but were completed as battlecruisers capable of 32 knots.

Repulse and HMS Prince of Wales were sunk by Japanese land-based aircraft flying out of Saigon in early 1942.

Murdoc likes the look of WW1-era battlewagons. So simple and elegant.

(NOTE: Murdoc elects to include battlecruisers in his “battlewagons” category.)

John Glenn has died

I’d seen he was in the hospital. Sad.

Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. enters his Mercury capsule, "Friendship 7" as he prepares for launch of the Mercury-Atlas rocket. On February 20, 1962 Glenn lifted off into space aboard his Mercury Atlas 6 (MA-6) rocket and became the first American to orbit the Earth. After orbiting the Earth 3 times, Friendship 7 landed in the Atlantic Ocean 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds later, just East of Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas. Glenn and his capsule were recovered by the Navy Destroyer Noa, 21 minutes after splashdown.
Astronaut John H. Glenn Jr. enters his Mercury capsule, “Friendship 7” as he prepares for launch of the Mercury-Atlas rocket. On February 20, 1962 Glenn lifted off into space aboard his Mercury Atlas 6 (MA-6) rocket and became the first American to orbit the Earth. After orbiting the Earth 3 times, Friendship 7 landed in the Atlantic Ocean 4 hours, 55 minutes and 23 seconds later, just East of Grand Turk Island in the Bahamas. Glenn and his capsule were recovered by the Navy Destroyer Noa, 21 minutes after splashdown.

Godspeed, sir.

Battlewagon Wednesday — USS Nevada (BB-36) at Pearl Harbor

NOTE: This is a re-post of Murdoc’s 2005 Pearl Harbor post “This Is Not A Drill!”

One of my favorite naval stories has always been that of the USS Nevada’s attempted sortie during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7, 1941. A detailed account ran in SEA CLASSICS magazine in the early 1980s, but, alas, I seem to have misplaced my copy. About twenty years ago.

Although already hit several times, the Nevada managed to get underway and head for the open sea. The following four pictures are from the Naval Historical Center’s USS Nevada during the Pearl Harbor Attack. Be sure to check it out for more pics of the Nevada making a run for it.

Here’s the Nevada just getting underway:

Notice the tank farm in the background. It’s not burning. That was a blunder.

Here’s another shot of the run:

As the Nevada made for the harbor entrance, many Japanese planes pulled away from their assigned targets and took shots at her. She took a pounding, and if she would have sunk in the channel it would have been a disaster. If she would have made it to sea and then been sunk she would have been a total loss. As it was, she was beached intentionally before making it out of the harbor. Here she is in the mud off Hospital Point:

This was the main picture in that great SEA CLASSICS article from my childhood.

The damage to the ship was tremendous. 50 Nevada sailors were killed and 109 more wounded. Here’s a shot of the forward deck (looking back at the forward turrets and main superstructure) on 12 Dec:

The Nevada was a wreck, but she rejoined the fleet a year later in December 1942. The old girl, already an aging matriarch by the time of the attack, still had a lot of fight left in her. Her sister Oklahoma had been destroyed at Pearl, and there was a little matter of payback.

Here’s the Nevada off Utah Beach on D-Day, 1944:

Here she is pounding Iwo Jima in 1945:

The previous two pics are from NavSource Online.

Deciding that two World Wars weren’t enough for one ship, the Navy decided to nuke the Nevada in 1946. A fleet of obsolete US and captured enemy ships was assembled at Bikini atoll in the South Pacific. They painted the Nevada bright orange and put her at the middle of the fleet. Two A-bombs later, there she sat. They towed her home for tests before sinking her in gunfire and torpedo tests in 1948.

For more on the Nevada’s ordeal on the morning of 7 December, 1941, see Nevada’s Heroic Run on HistoryNet.

Naval drones are so 1960s, man

Drones have been in the fight longer than you think

Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles have been the rage lately. The Navy has been testing the X-47. Bell is offering the V-247 Vigilant for a number of missions. But one UCAV served in the active force way before drones became so popular.

Meet the QH-50 Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopter, or DASH, which entered service in 1963.

DASH was intended to give the Navy’s modified World War II Allen M. Sumner and Gearing-class destroyers a long-range anti-submarine weapon. Capable of operating up to 22 miles away from a ship, and carrying two Mk 46 anti-submarine torpedoes, DASH could kill just about any submarine in the Soviet arsenal.

Murdoc posted a pic of another surviving DASH from the USS Laffey (DD-724) memorial at Patriot’s Point in Charleston, SC.