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.

F2H Banshees over USS New Jersey and USS Lake Champlain

This is a great photo. Murdoc loves the look of the old straight-wing first-generation jets.

F2H Banshees over USS New Jersey (BB-62) and USS Lake Champlain (CVA-39)
F2H Banshees over USS New Jersey (BB-62) and USS Lake Champlain (CVA-39)

USS Lake Champlain got many of the upgrades that the Essex-class carriers got over the years, but she never got an angled flight deck.

895 F2H Banshees were built by McDonnel Douglas and the fighter served with the US Navy and USMC from 1948 until 1961.

Shipwrecks Missing

HMS Exeter sinking in 1942
HMS Exeter sinking in 1942

Several WWII shipwrecks have mysteriously vanished from under the sea

The wreckage of six warships and a submarine that have lain on the bottom of the Java Sea since 1942 is now missing, and naval authorities are at a loss to explain the disappearance.

The missing shipwrecks include HNLMS De Ruyter, HNLMS Java, HMS Exeter, HMS Encounter, and the submarine USS Perch. Large portions of other ships are also just plain gone.

Some naval authorities believe that illegal salvage operations have taken the wrecks for scrap metal. To be honest, that seems pretty far-fetched to Murdoc. The wrecks are in 200+ feet of water. Is the scrap metal really worth salvaging from that depth?

USS Sampson (DDG-102) to help New Zealand relief effort

The guided missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), operates in the Java Sea while supporting the Indonesian-led search effort for AirAsia flight QZ8501. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos/Released)
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JAVA SEA (Jan. 14, 2015) The guided missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102), operates in the Java Sea while supporting the Indonesian-led search effort for AirAsia flight QZ8501. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Antonio P. Turretto Ramos/Released)

US Navy release:

The U.S. Navy is supporting recovery efforts in response to the earthquake in New Zealand. In addition to a maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft, USS Sampson (DDG 102) and its two embarked MH-60R Seahawk helicopters is now, at the request of the New Zealand government, on its way to Kaikoura to support disaster relief efforts.

USS Sampson, a U.S. Navy destroyer whose crew just days ago conducted a passing exercise with Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship (HMNZS) Endeavour, a Royal New Zealand Navy fleet replenishment oiler, has altered course to join the New Zealand-led task force efforts.

MK 38 Mod 2

PHILIPPINE SEA (Oct. 28, 2016) The Navy's only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), conducts a live-fire exercise of its MK 38 Mod 2 machine gun. The MK 38 Mod 2 is a single-barrel, air-cooled, heavy machine gun with an effective range of up to 2,700 yards. Ronald Reagan, the Carrier Strike Group Five flagship, is on patrol supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)
161028-N-OI810-247 PHILIPPINE SEA (Oct. 28, 2016) The Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), conducts a live-fire exercise of its MK 38 Mod 2 machine gun. The MK 38 Mod 2 is a single-barrel, air-cooled, heavy machine gun with an effective range of up to 2,700 yards. Ronald Reagan, the Carrier Strike Group Five flagship, is on patrol supporting security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan Burke/Released)

Checking out the wreck of USS Independence (CVL-22)

The U.S. light aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVL-22) afire aft, soon after the Able nuclear bomb test at Bikini on 1 July 1946 (Operation Crossroads). The bomb had exploded off the ship's port quarter, causing massive blast damage in that area and progressively less further forward. The carrier did not sink during the tests and was finally sunk as a target off San Francisco, California (USA), on 27 January 1951.
The U.S. light aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVL-22) afire aft, soon after the Able nuclear bomb test at Bikini on 1 July 1946 (Operation Crossroads). The bomb had exploded off the ship’s port quarter, causing massive blast damage in that area and progressively less further forward. The carrier did not sink during the tests and was finally sunk as a target off San Francisco, California (USA), on 27 January 1951.

USS Independence (CVL-22) was the lead ship of a class of WW2 light carriers built from converted cruiser hulls. FDR was a fan of light carriers but Navy studies showed that smaller carriers were not nearly as effective. Pearl Harbor and the Essex-class construction schedule, even after accelerating it, meant that an interim solution was needed and light carriers got their chance. The Independence-class was built using Cleveland-class cruiser hulls and were rather limited ships, with an air group of only about 30 planes.

The Independence survived the war but post-war reality and the coming jet age doomed the class. The ship was used as a target in the Operation Crossroads nuclear weapons tests. It survived the operation and was studied before being scuttled in 1951.

Check out photos of the ship’s current condition at Live Science.