Thursday, May 27, 2010

Underway Replishment Experiment

One of the most underappreciated skills the U.S. Navy has that only a few other navies in the world have is the ability to transfer fuel from one ship to another while moving and out at sea. Like many skills, this ability has come from years of experience, training, and experimentation.

American civil engineer Spencer Miller first invented the necessary equipment in the 1890s for the Navy and continued to work with the Fleet to design proper replenishment ships for the remainder of his career. Miller perfected the technique for one ship to refuel another in a harbor, but how to actually refuel a ship at sea was another matter.

This picture shown above of one underway replacement experiment that took place just outside Hampton Roads. It shows two locally based ships, the collier USS Cyclops (AC-4) and the new dreadnought USS South Carolina (BB-26) off the Virginia Capes in 1914. Notice on how Cyclops is in front of the battleship (as opposed to being the battleship's port or starboard side).

This called for Cyclops's company to send 800 pound coal bags from their ship's stern the line to South Carolina's number one gun turret. Then it was hauled over to the battleship's bunkers. The technique worked, but it was not practical. It was slow and a battleship like South Carolina needed several thousand tons of coal. There is no record of the Navy ever trying this method again.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

HRNM Presents Historian Craig Symonds, June 9

The museum kicks off its coverage of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War a little early with distinguished historian and retired U.S. Naval Academy professor Dr. Craig L. Symonds. Dr. Symonds will be discussing his highly acclaimed work on President Abraham Lincoln's relationship with his flag officers during the American Civil War. Lunch to be served.

The talk and lunch will begin at 11:30 a.m. and take place at Naval Station Norfolk's Vista Point. Passes will provided for those without DoD base decals. Just let us know you need one.

Cost for lunch is $15 for members of the Hampton Roads Naval Historical Foundation and $20 for non-members. Reservations are required. Call 757-322-3109 to make reservations. Go to for information on becoming a member.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

The Fight at Sea: Anaconda Game BETA Test

The Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial is looking for a few good men and women! One of the primary missions of the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial is to not only inform and educate, but to captivate as well. Accordingly, members of the Civil War Navy are in the process of creating and coordinating new and exciting things for fans of all things Civil War Navy. The most recent of these endeavors is The Fight at Sea: Anaconda card game.

Created and designed by Gordon Calhoun, HRNM Historian and Daybook editor, The Fight at Sea is a new card game currently in BETA testing. Players choose opposing sides (Union Navy and Confederate Navy), and act is naval secretaries, sending ships to opposing ports and cities to do battle! Over 250 cards from Union and Confederate navies comprise The Fight at Sea, and are awaiting your command. Take control of histories most famous ships, from the Union's Monitor and New Ironsides to the equally famous ironclad Virginia and commerce raider Alabama.

Examples of cards featured in The Fight at Sea:

USN CardsCSN Cards

Fans of collectible card games and role-playing (RPGs) will enjoy simulated play in complete historical context. All cards are accurate as designed by Mr. Calhoun. Build your fleets, raid commerce, and turn the tide of war! Compete against friends in twenty rounds of game play to choose the ultimate victor of the Civil War!

Future sets during the sesquicentennial years (2011-2015) will include the river war and important leaders of opposing fleets. This is a major undertaking which needs YOUR help. If you are interested in BETA testing this newly designed games and offer professional quality critique and analysis, please email Gordon Calhoun at

Your comments will help launch this endeavor for both the Civil War Navy Sesquicentennial and the Hampton Roads Naval Museum.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Five HRNM Docents Receive the Presidental "Call to Service" Award

Every year, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum organizes a dinner to recognize the valuable contributions of its volunteers. For the first time, the museum handed out the President's Volunteer Service Award to its volunteers. One of the awards is the President's Call to Service Award. This award is granted to a person who has given over 4,000 hours with the organization. Four docents received the award this year. Pictured at left and standing with the Captain Tom Smith, USN, Ret., director of the Hampton Roads Naval Historical Foundation, ( from left to right) are Hunt Lewis, "Doc" Shoop, John Peters, and Bob Webb.  The fifth recipient was our volunteer ship model builder Bob Comet, who is not pictured. We always are looking for new volunteers to serve in the museum in a variety of roles. Call Tom Dandes at 757-322-3106 or e-mail him at

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

New Daybook Published

Volume 14 Issue 3 of The Daybook is online.  The main article looks at the 1943 explosion at the Yorktown Mine Depot and the ensuing investigation.  Some believed that the explosion was an act of sabotage, while others beleived it was casued by the mishandling the highly effective, but highly unstable explosive known as Torpex.