Monday, October 20, 2014

The Wide View (Part One)

The sweeping view from the clock tower of the Pennsylvania Building taken in 1919 (top), then known as the Officer's Material School, contrasts with the digital composite taken from the same vantage point last week (below).

The museum is lucky enough to have a number of panoramic photographs in the collection – photographs much longer than they are tall.  These unique prints were made by either swing-lens cameras, where the lens rotated while the film remained stationary, or 360-degree rotation cameras, where both the camera and the film rotated.  Photographers made “panoramics” of ships, groups of people, banquets and other subjects that lent themselves to the wide-angle format. The first mass-produced American panoramic camera, the Al-Vista, was introduced in 1898, and the format became quite popular during the first several decades of the Twentieth Century.

Naval subjects lent themselves readily to this popular art form. The museum collection contains examples of panoramic photos that celebrate ships, buildings, and sweeping views of the Naval Station like the image above. This particular image was taken from the clock tower of the museum’s former home, the Pennsylvania Building, in 1919.

There are some notable features in the photograph.  The administration complex is on the extreme left, a stately group of buildings from the Jamestown Exposition twelve years earlier.  Two of these, N-21 and N-23, survive today.  New barracks roll across the complex in the left center of the print. The waterfront, stretching across the right background, has yet to be extended by the extensive dredge and fill operations that occurred.  Probably the most recognizable feature to modern eyes is the graceful Dillingham Blvd, lined with Exposition state pavilions.  The waterfront is directly across the street – today a golf course and much more occupies that area.

The G.L. Hall Optical Company of Norfolk produced this image, and many others like it.  Mr. G. Leslie Hall opened the business in 1901 as a manufacturer of lenses and eyeglasses.  A 1922 article in The Optical Journal and Review described the company’s headquarters on Granby St: “The building is three stories high and the layout embraces the optical store and display room in the front [and] the photographic department in the rear, for the company handles, in addition to its optical operations one of the largest Kodak stores and developing and printing plants in the south.”  At some point the firm abandoned panoramic photograph production, although the company is still to be found in the Norfolk City Directory of 1949/50. Besides his optical business, Mr. Hall served the city in a variety of capacities, including the presidency of its chamber of commerce and the chairmanship of its Office of Price Administration, the World War II price control agency.

(This blog post was written by HRNM Curator Joe Judge.  Special thanks to Terri Davis of Naval Station Norfolk Public Affairs and Andy Meagher, Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Mid-Atlantic)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

USS Fanning and the Sinking of U-58

USS Fanning at Queenstown, Ireland. Note the "Dazzle" camouflage. 

In November 1917, USS Fanning (DD-37) became the first U.S. Navy ship to sink a submarine in combat. The ship was named after Lieutenant Nathaniel Fanning, who sailed with John Paul Jones aboard the Bonhomme Richard in the famous battle against the Serapis. Commissioned in 1912 at Newport News, USS Fanning was based in Norfolk for the majority of time prior to the onset of intensified hostilities in World War I. When two German Auxiliary cruisers visited Norfolk in 1915, Fanning acted as their escort while they sailed in United States territorial waters.  

When the United States entered the war on April 6, 1917, the war in the Atlantic was already in full swing. German U-boats had been engaging Allied ships in the Atlantic since September of 1914 when U-21 sank HMS Pathfinder. German submarines had exacted a toll on the Allies by sinking over five million tons of supplies worldwide by the time the United States formally entered the war.  As part of the U.S. Navy’s expanding operations against the U-boat threat, USS Fanning’s base was transferred from Norfolk, VA, to Queenstown, Ireland, to serve as a convoy escort. 

While the ship was escorting an allied convoy with USS Nicholson on November 17, Coxswain Daniel David Loomis spotted the periscope of U-58. Fanning quickly maneuvered into position to attack the U-boat and launched three depth charges into the water. Nicholson also engaged U-58 by firing an additional charge into the water. The bombardment forced the submarine to the surface and both ships fired on it with their 3” deck guns, Nicholson landing at least one hit. The German boat attempted to return fire unsuccessfully and surrendered after about thirty minutes. U-58’s diving planes had been disabled by the gunfire and it could no longer be controlled. 
The crew of U-58 emerges from the damaged sub to surrender to USS Fanning on November 17, 1917.
Fanning quickly captured the German crew as they scuttled and abandoned their stricken boat. Thirty eight of the forty crew members were captured, including four officers. Two members of the German crew had been killed during the battle. Fanning and Nicholson suffered no casualties during the engagement. Coxswain Daniel Loomis and Lieutenant William O. Henry, both from Fanning, each received the Navy Cross for their contributions during the battle. Fanning continued to serve effectively as a convoy escort and rescue ship throughout the war. Decommissioned on November 24, 1919, Fanning was transferred to the Coast Guard for service until being sold for scrap in 1934.

(This blog post was written by HRNM Educator Joseph Miechle.)

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

The Capture of CSS Florida, October 7, 1864

USS Wachusett rams CSS Florida at daybreak, October 7, 1864 (Century Magazine)
US Navy ships based in Hampton Roads today routinely make port calls around the world, but their journeys in times of war or peace usually begin and end in their home port.  During the Civil War, however, those working aboard Confederate commerce raiders could claim no such luxury; every port in their homeland was sealed off by Union warships.      
The Confederate strategy to attack Union commercial shipping with privateers and commerce raiders, called guerre de course, was often employed by weaker naval powers (including the United States).  But the strategy came with more than its share of vulnerabilities.
The commerce raiders’ dependence upon using the ports of neutral powers for operations not only hobbled their ability to take on essential provisions and make needed repairs, but an adversaries’ disregard of neutrality also made possible the capture of one of the Confederacy’s most important raiders: the cruiser CSS Florida.  Like the famous CSS AlabamaFlorida wreaked havoc on Union shipping over two extended cruises, accounting for 60 of more than the 200 merchant ships lost to raiders during the Civil War.  More than just a naval victory, the ship’s capture 150 years ago is also a controversial example of the American diplomatic corps’ role in armed conflict. 
Built as Oreto in a Liverpool shipyard, Florida would have never seen action if American consular authorities had achieved their aims early on.  After its arrival at Nassau in April of 1862, Samuel Whiting, the United States Consul, immediately recognized Oreto as a possible blockade runner and demanded the ship’s seizure, claiming that it was being armed in a neutral British port, and thus was in violation of the Foreign Enlistment Act.  After the Royal Navy briefly complied with the request, the British governor C.J. Bayley intervened and ordered her release, pointing out that Oreto was registered as a British vessel, flew the British flag, and carried no armament.  Nevertheless, the vessel was seized two more times in Nassau as the British civil and military authorities of the colony struggled amongst themselves as to whether the American diplomats were right about the ship.  Bayley finally decided that a trial by an admiralty court was in order. 
Despite a litany of sworn statements from American officials attesting to the nefarious nature of the ship, the British attorney general in Nassau, G.L. Anderson, stuck to the defense throughout the trial that although Oreto was designed like a warship, it was simply not a warship due to the fact that no weapons were aboard.  It was also a fact that Anderson had been quoted in public that his sentiments were with the Confederacy, but no matter.  His nakedly legalistic defense won the day and Oreto was released on August 7, meeting a British schooner loaded with arms and ammunition two days later near deserted Green Cay north of Nassau.  Ten days after that, with guns loaded and ready for action, Oreto was officially christened Florida and commissioned into the Confederate Navy. 
During two eventful cruises capturing 38 enemy vessels, CSS Florida paid call on the ports of officially neutral but friendly ports in Cuba, the Bahamas, Barbados, Bermuda, the Portuguese island of Madeira, the French island of Martinique, Spain, and Brazil, and even a lengthy yard period in France, all the while under the vociferous objections of American diplomats, who would simultaneously demand the ship be detained while frantically trying to summon the nearest Union warship.   In almost every case, the US Navy arrived too late.  But after 61 days at sea over the summer of 1864, Florida’s luck ran out in the port of Bahia, Brazil, where it had arrived on October 4 to take on coal and provisions, as well as make some needed repairs to its boilers.  Waiting in the harbor was USS Wachusett, commanded by Napoleon Collins, who dispatched a boat pretending to be from HMS Curlew in order to ascertain the ship’s identity.  He readied the ship for a fight, yet took no immediate action as Florida settled in.
Florida's commanding officer, Confederate Navy Lieutenant Charles Manigault Morris, assured the president of the province that he would respect Brazilian neutrality and take no action against the larger Federal ship across the harbor.  In response, the president told Morris that Thomas F. Wilson, the United States Consul at Bahia, had pledged that Wachusett would also respect the port’s neutrality.  This was a pledge Wilson would later deny making.
The plan to attack Florida while in a neutral port did not originate with the US Navy.  It was actually hatched by US Minister to Brazil J. Watson Webb and Consul Wilson, after securing the advance approval of Secretary of State William H. Seward.  Seward had encouraged Ambassador Webb: “If nations shall in violation of our right suffer their ports to become bases for the operations of pirates against us we shall adopt such remedies as the laws of self defense allow.”  For his part, Collins was just as reluctant at first to violate neutrality as his Confederate adversary and said as much during his first meeting with Wilson.
On October 5, the day after Florida’s arrival, Consul Wilson attempted to deliver two letters challenging Florida to fight Wachusett, but the Confederate lieutenant refused to even read them.  With several tubes being removed from the boilers of his cruiser and half his crew on leave, Morris would have none of this Federal pugnaciousness. 
After a second contentious meeting with Collins on the afternoon of the 6th, the Consul finally persuaded him to summon his officers for a vote, and with the exception of one, all decided that attacking the ship outweighed all other considerations.  After having committed his diplomatic office to the destruction or capture of Florida, Consul Wilson elected to stay aboard for the duration of hostilities.
As it happened, the Confederate commander was not aboard Florida when Wachusett approached at full steam on the morning of October 7, ramming the smaller commerce raider on the starboard quarter, cutting down her bulwarks and carrying away her mizzenmast and main yard.  The most the stunned crew of Florida, only half of whom were aboard, could answer with were a few pistols.  None of her larger Parrott Rifles were even loaded.  Collins thought he might have put Florida in a sinking condition and he backed his ship off.  The crews began to exchange small arms fire and Wachusett delivered two broadsides.
At this point Collins demanded Florida’s surrender.  This left the difficult decision to submit or fight in the hands of Confederate Lieutenant T.K. Porter, commanding the ship in Morris’ absence.  After conferring with the other officers present, Porter boarded Wachusett to present his sword and ship’s ensign to Collins.   
Collins took his prize in tow and made his way quickly out of the port.  He was hurried along by the Brazilian gunfire from the harbor forts.  The Brazilians missed their mark and Collins escaped.  Brazilian and international outrage was swift and severe.  Consul Wilson wisely escaped with Wachusett, as the citizens of Bahia sacked the American consulate the next day.  No matter, the captured Florida was on her way to Hampton Roads.
Despite the fact that the American diplomats goaded him into capturing Florida, Napoleon Collins was nevertheless court-martialed under pressure from Brazil and sentenced to be dismissed from the service.  In reality, he remained active in the Navy, rising to the rank of rear admiral in 1874.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Naut(ical) Flix

Almost 80 years before the Navy squared off against aliens in the movie Battleship (2012),
they brought the fight to King Kong (below) in 1933. (Photos: USNI News)

Since before The Fighting Seabees and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo debuted 70 years ago, Hollywood has played a critical role in crafting the popular perception of the United States Navy. With the release of recent films such as Act of Valor, Lone Survivor, and even Battleship, it is evident that the relationship between Hollywood and the U.S. Navy is still going strong.  This fact is shown by the location of the Navy Office of Information West (NAVINFOWEST) in Los Angeles.  NAVINFOWEST’s purpose is to assist the film industry in making movies involving the United States Navy.  In addition, the office maintains and develops contacts with the entertainment industry for the purpose of sharing the military's story, as well as facilitating any film and television messages relevant to the military.  Visit their website or Facebook page for more information on how the US Navy is working with the film industry.

Even the Hampton Roads Naval Museum makes use of NAVINFOWEST when we receive film requests. All production companies must forward their requests through NAVINFOWEST for final approval before we can coordinate film projects on-site.  Decisions are made in accordance with NAVINFOWEST’s mission to “enhance public awareness and further the accurate portrayal of the U.S. Navy’s latest technologies, ships and highly trained personnel.”

If you are interested in reading more about the relationship between Hollywood and our military, take a look at books from film and military historian Lawrence Suid.  Dr. Suid’s first book, Guts & Glory (Addison-Wesley, 1978), became the definitive study of the relationship between the film industry and the armed services.  The University Press of Kentucky published a revised, expanded edition of the book in June 2002, which carries the story from the Biograph Company's Navy films shown at the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair through Black Hawk Down and We Were Soldiers.  Dr. Suid also wrote Sailing on the Silver Screen (The Naval Institute Press, 1996), which focused on the symbiotic relationship between the United States Navy and the motion picture industry. 

What is your favorite Navy film?

(This blog post was written by HRNM Public Relations Coordinator Susanne Greene.)

Monday, September 29, 2014

Flight of the Turtle, September 29, 1946

On September 29, 1946, a P2V-1 Neptune, nicknamed the “Truculent Turtle,” took off from Perth, Australia, bound for Washington, D.C. The airplane was named “The Turtle” after the Lockheed project to extend the Neptune’s range: Operation Turtle. The crew added the adjective truculent, meaning defiant, or aggressive.

Heavy fuel consumption caused by winds and rough weather did not allow the plane to reach Washington. The aircraft flew for 55 hours and 17 minutes without refueling, and landed in Columbus, Ohio, on October 1st. The 11,235.6-mile flight broke the world distance flight record.  The Turtle was manned by Cdr. Thomas D. Davies (pilot), Cdr. Eugene P. Rankin (co-pilot), Cdr. Walter S. Reid (navigator), and LCdr. Roy H. Tabeling (radio officer). The only cargo on the flight was a gift from Australia to the people of America – a nine-month kangaroo named Joey.
Norfolk hosted three of the four crew members for a 10th anniversary of the flight. Left to right they are Cdr. Roy H. Tabeling, Capt. Eugene P. Rankin, and Capt. Thomas D. Davies. Visible behind the men is the nose art of a determined turtle astride a bicycle sprocket turning a propeller. A cartoonist at Walt Disney Studios designed the image. The turtle is smoking a pipe and has a rabbit's foot dangling on his keychain - a humorous reference to the Aesop Fable in which the tortoise and the hare have a race. 
After retirement in 1953, the aircraft became a familiar sight to travelers in Norfolk when it sat on the corner of Granby St. and Taussig Blvd. In 1968 the expansion of Interstate 64 forced the Turtle to relocate to the grounds of the Naval Air Station. It remained an attraction there until 1977, when it moved via barge to the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida.  The “Turtle” resides there in our sister museum with other historic aircraft.

As for Joey the kangaroo?  After the brief stop in Columbus, he ended his trip at the Washington Zoo.

The Turtle welcomed arrivals at the Naval Air Station for nine years.
When it was time for the Turtle to be moved to Pensacola, the airplane was towed to Pier 12,
where it was partially disassembled and loaded on a barge. In this image, note the cherry-picker
lifting electrical wires as the plane transits down the tow-way.
(This blog post was written by HRNM Curator Joe Judge.)

Friday, September 26, 2014

USS Ranger's (CV 4) Keel is Laid, September 26, 1931

Anyone who has been around the Navy for even a brief period (or had lunch in a Navy club) knows that the sea service remembers events with plaques. Some are humorous, some sentimental, some serious, but perhaps the ones that resonate most are “builders’ plaques” (also known as “historical data plaques”). Mounted on a vessel's quarterdeck or in special spaces, they remind one and all of a ship's origins. On decommissioning, these are removed and shipped to the Navy’s Curator for preservation.
One of the special plaques in the museum is the builder’s plaque for USS Ranger (CV 4). On September 26, 1931, Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company laid the keel for Ranger. She was the first U.S. Navy ship to be designed and built from the keel up as an aircraft carrier. Ranger was subsequently commissioned on June 4, 1934, at the Norfolk Navy Yard.
USS Ranger before commissioning, in Newport News.

Ranger was a ship that made history in the Atlantic theatre during World War II. She took part in Neutrality Patrols after war broke out in Europe in September 1939, operations that became increasingly intense during 1941. In November 1942 she was an important element in Operation Torch, providing air cover for the invasion of Morocco. Ranger was assigned to work with the British Home Fleet in the northeastern Atlantic from August to November 1943, during which time she launched strikes on German shipping along the Norwegian coast. Ranger was sold for scrapping in January 1947.
USS Ranger underway in Hampton Roads, August 18, 1942. Note partially lowered aft
elevator and flight deck identification letters "R N G R" still visible just ahead of the ramp.
A Douglas SDB Dauntless dive bomber goes around for another landing attempt, after being "waved off"
by the Landing Signal Officer on USS Ranger (CV 4), circa June 1942.
(This blog post was written by HRNM Curator Joe Judge.)

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Baseball in World War II

I'm a Baltimore Orioles fan, so those of you who follow baseball will know that I'm pretty excited this year. As my fellow Orioles fans and I prepare ourselves for what we hope will be a great postseason, I will be writing several posts about the Norfolk Navy's World War II baseball teams, and I'll also be sharing some images that many people haven't seen before.

After the United States entered the Second World War, baseball fans across the country worried that their sport would end, much like it had in World War I in 1918. President Franklin Roosevelt thought differently. On January 15, 1942, Roosevelt wrote a letter to the head of baseball, saying, "I honestly feel that it would be best for the country to keep baseball going." He added that he would like to see more night games for people to attend, and that, though the quality of the teams might be lowered by the greater use of older players replacing young men going into military service, this would not dampen the popularity of the sport.

While major league baseball continued throughout the war, more than 500 major league baseball players swapped their baseball uniforms for military uniforms. Players such as Bob Feller, Stan Musial, Joe DiMaggio, "Pee Wee" Reese, "Ace" ParkerPhil Rizzuto, and Fred Hutchinson joined the military, and several of these famous players came right here to Norfolk for their military service. Some of those players played the game at the athletic field shown below, at present-day Naval Station Norfolk. This athletic field is the second-oldest brick baseball stadium in the country, beat only by Chicago's Wrigley Field.
Present-day photograph of McClure Field's main entrance.
In 1944, the athletic field was named "McClure Field" in honor of Navy Cross-recipient Captain Henry McClure, the commanding officer of Naval Training Station Norfolk from 1941 to 1944. McClure had little knowledge of the game itself, but he loved it and knew baseball's value in raising his sailors' morale. In 1943, McClure sent a message to the field, telling the players to start the game but "not to score until he got there"!

This 1944 photograph of Captain McClure shows him watching Dom DiMaggio during batting practice at McClure Field. Hall of Famer Phil Rizzuto and Eddie Robinson stand next to McClure. (Norfolk Public Library image)

Monday, September 15, 2014

The Navy at Inchon

Today marks the 64th anniversary of the Inchon landings, which helped turn the tide of the Korean War. By late August 1950, the allied forces were pushed back towards the city of Pusan (now Busan) near the southeastern tip of the peninsula. The situation was desperate as U.N. and Republic of Korea forces tried to hold back the communist NKPA's assault. Gen. MacArthur's bold yet risky plan was set in motion, and a huge naval armada headed toward the city of Inchon, near Seoul, on the west coast. Inchon was notorious for its extreme tides and expansive mudflats. Any amphibious operation there had to be planned very carefully.
A Navy F-4U "Corsair" from USS Philippine Sea (CV 47)  flies over part of the armada assembled for the Inchon landing. USS Missouri (BB 63) is visible directly below.  
On the morning of September 15, 1950, Navy ships headed up the channel at Inchon and shelled targets on Wolmi-do and in Inchon as landing craft full of Marines headed ashore. The operation was a huge success and soon the US forces were heading toward Seoul to cut off the supply route of the NKPA troops attacking the Pusan Perimeter. 

In addition to the importance of the Navy fleet's role in this amphibious operation, one particular individual is worth noting. Prior to the invasion, Lt. Eugene Clark and two ROK officers were sent to a small island near Inchon to gather intelligence. With the help of some locals, Clark's team pinpointed gun emplacements, noted troop concentrations, swept for mines, checked tidal patterns, measured sea walls, and evaluated possible landing sites. His intelligence was invaluable to making the landings a success.  
Lt. Clark at right with part of his team.

Friday, September 12, 2014

A Thirteen-Star Flag from the Civil War

The museum always tries to highlight a unique artifact during the annual CPO Heritage Days event in August. This year we displayed one of the highlights of the collection, recently transferred to HRNM from the (now closed) Supply Corps Museum.

The artifact is a 13-star American flag, made during the Civil War. Gunner’s Mate James Smith made this flag while on board USS Hartford, Admiral Farragut’s flagship. Of course, the American flag carried 33 stars at the beginning of the war, and later more as Kansas and West Virginia joined the Union. But the impulse to celebrate the Revolutionary generation was strong during the crisis years of the Civil War. Both North and South looked to America’s eighteenth century for intellectual and emotional justification for the actions of the 1860s.

As for James Smith, little is known about the sailor who decided to celebrate American history during America’s greatest crisis. A US Navy gunner’s mate named James Smith was at the Battle of Mobile Bay – but aboard USS Richmond, where he won the Medal of Honor. The citation reads (in part): “As captain of a gun on board the U.S.S. Richmond … Despite damage to his ship and the loss of several men on board as enemy fire raked her decks, Smith fought his gun with skill and courage throughout the prolonged battle which resulted in the surrender of the rebel ram Tennessee and in the successful attacks carried out on Fort Morgan.”

It would be tempting, but unfortunately unjustified, to claim that the USS Richmond’s James Smith is the maker of the USS Hartford 13-star flag. A future, and very thorough, archival search will be required to establish a real connection, if one exists.

We do know how the flag came into the Navy’s collection. It was donated in 1991 by the former Chief of the Navy’s Supply Corps, Rear Admiral Daniel McKinnon, Jr. Admiral McKinnon was described by “The Supply Line,” a Navy newsletter of the day, as “a history buff” who “had been holding on to some treasures.” 

(This blog post was written by HRNM Curator Joe Judge.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

USS Yankton & Rum Running: A Black Mark on an Illustrious Career

USS Yankton at Hampton Roads, December 10, 1916.

Built as a luxury yacht in 1893, the Navy acquired USS Yankton in May 1898. Commissioned at Norfolk, it was prepared for operations in the Spanish-American War. As part of blockading duties off Cuba, it participated in shelling Spanish gunboats and land batteries. After the war, Yankton was converted to a fleet tender. In December 1907, it sailed out of Hampton Roads as part of the Great White Fleet for that around-the-world cruise, returning in 1909.

After the cruise, the converted yacht continued as a fleet tender until America's entrance into WWI. In 1914 it participated in Navy operations off Mexico during the Vera Cruz Crisis. During the war Yankton performed convoy escort duty off of Gibraltar, rescuing a damaged Italian merchant ship from a U-boat at one point. By September 1918, the yacht was summoned back to the United States to operate with the Atlantic Fleet.

Shortly after the Armistice, Yankton was sent back overseas, this time to the Barents Sea off of northern Russia. From February to July 1919, the yacht and a handful of other American ships (including subchasers) supported operations against the Bolsheviks in Murmansk and Archangel. For the remainder of the year it was stationed off England before returning stateside in January 1920.

Decommissioned soon after returning, the vessel was sold in 1921. Two years later the ship sprang into national news. Operated as part of a rum running ring, the yacht was captured in New York by customs officials. It was registered as a British ship and according to reports, had come to “Rum Row” (a group of smuggling ships anchored outside of the maritime limit) from the West Indies with a valuable cargo of illegal rum worth $500,000. The ship was eventually returned to civilian maritime service but was scrapped in 1930. 

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The 40mm Bofors Gun

A quad 40mm Bofors gun crew in action.
One of the most effective anti-aircraft guns of World War II, the 40mm Bofors gun played a vital role in defending Navy ships. Originally of Swedish design, but obtained from the British, at the outset of the war the Bofors gun was not standard on U.S. Navy ships. This changed by 1942, when American designers updated the gun and improved the ammunition. The 40mm guns replaced previous ineffective guns and provided an upgrade by becoming one of the prime anti-aircraft batteries for the Navy, alongside the larger twin dual-purpose 5-inch guns and smaller 20mm guns.      

The Bofors guns were usually arranged in either dual or quad positions, and less commonly as a single barrel. The arrangement generally depended on the size or layout of a ship. For instance, USS Wisconsin (BB 64) had twenty quad 40mm mounts (80 gun barrels), whereas a destroyer escort might only have several  dual 40mm mounts. 

The gun crew consisted of eleven men for the quad guns, with two loaders needed for each barrel. The sailors worked as one unit under the gun captain, who was able to direct the gun quickly on a fast moving turret. The gun was improved when it was combined with the new Mk 51 gun director which enabled greater accuracy. Between October 1, 1944, and February 1, 1945, the Bofors/Mk 51 combination was credited with 50% of all Japanese aircraft shot down by U.S. Navy ships.
A painting showing a dual 40mm mount on an aircraft carrier from Task Force 58 in the Pacific. All the main carriers in this Task Force were built in Hampton Roads. Note the Mk 51 director in the foreground.

Quad mounts firing on an Iowa-class battleship
The Bofors gun enjoyed wide popularity during World War II as it was not only used by the Navy, but was utilized by other branches as well. Of course, the British also used it, but it is worth noting that both the Japanese and Germans used captured guns or tried to replicate their own when they could do so. They remained popular long after the war, and a few militaries still employ variations of the 40mm gun to this day.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

The Lone Desert Sailor

Which person in the image above is a Sailor? If you guessed "all of them," then you would be correct. 

The Lone Sailor in Norfolk
Many people recognize the Lone Sailor, an icon in Navy heritage. Symbolic of the honor, courage, and commitment of Sailors to serve their country at sea, the lone Sailor is easily recognized--but "Lone Sailor" can, in some ways, also refer to an Individual Augmentee (IA). Beginning with Navy Reserve mobilizations in response to the events of 9/11, IAs have been serving around the world, providing augmentation to other services, as well as joint and combined commands in support of the Global War on Terrorism and later, in Overseas Contingency Operations. Individual Augmentees are exactly what the title says - individuals who deploy by themselves, without a unit, as additional personnel for another command. Alternately, IAs come from commands throughout the Navy or other services to form an ad hoc unit comprised of all IAs. 

Why does the Navy have IAs? 

All IAs start as requirements tasked in accordance with the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s Global Force Management Allocation Program (GFMAP). The GFMAP is the master plan that tasks all missions throughout the world to all services via their capabilities. So, at a greater level, Navy ships and squadrons and units deploy as a sea service for the Joint GFMAP, and IAs are needed to fill requirements at the individual level across all services.

Since 2008, United States Fleet Forces in Norfolk has been the Executive Agent for all things IA – which means finding the personnel to fill the IA requirements; manning, training, and equipping the IAs for the specific mission; and the R3 experience (Return, Reunion, & Reintegration) when they come back to their command and home.
Individual Augmentee (IA) Sailors, assigned to Navy Provisional Detainee Battalion 2,
are greeted by family and friends as they arrive at Naval Station Norfolk.

IAs have non-traditional assignments in two ways. First, traditionally all services fit and train units as a team to perform a mission. For the Navy, operational units are usually ships (aircraft carrier, etc.), squadrons (fighter jets, etc.), or any of several unique capabilities – like SEAL teams or Seabees. The units have a defined structure that varies little but always trains together to perform the mission safely and effectively. Their mission reflects the Navy’s capability and their direction to execute in accordance with the Joint Chiefs’ of Staff (JCS). Individual Augmentees do not have this unit structure and, more critically, the cohesion that develops within a team. IAs will sometimes join a command and mission that is ongoing, such as numerous Joint (multi-service) or Combined (multi-nation) task forces that support US and coalition forces through out the world. Other IAs will fill emergent requirements that are a one-time fill or established to support for a limited, but seldom defined, period of time. Provincial Reconstruction Teams (PRTs) and detainee operations (Iraq, Afghanistan, & Guantanamo Bay) are just a couple of the many missions that have lasted several years but are now complete.

(This post was written by Commander Colette Grail.)