“… Americans understand that their Navy is deployed around the world, around the clock, ready to defend America at all times.” U.S. Navy statement.
FEATURED IMAGE: ATLANTIC OCEAN (July 8, 2017) The guided missile cruiser USS San Jacinto (CG 56) fires its Mark 45 5-inch gun during a live-fire exercise alongside the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Neo Greene III/Released)
Escorting convoys to Russia was a brutal task given the terrible weather and constant attacks by German aircraft and U-boats out of Norway. Home Fleet provided “distant cover” since fleet carriers like HMS Victorious and battleships such as KGV were too valuable to risk anywhere close to German air attack. Home FLeet distant cover was laid on in the event the Tirpitz came out.
The Royal Navy named all of its bases as if they were ships. Hence, HMS Spurwing was a Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm base providing cover for convoys forming up off Freetown, Sierra Leone, a major convoy destination point where escorts changed.
The Royal Navy did most of its accounting by ship so it was easier to keep track of everything if all bases were treated as ships. For instance, unassigned officers were carried on the books of HMS Victory although they were obviously not on the ship itself although it did have accommodation for a small number of officers in transit.
If you wrote someone in the Royal Navy in World War Two, you addressed the letter to that person followed by name of ship followed by GPO, London.
The two photographs above are unusual because they show planes both landing and taking off from the Royal Navy fleet carrier HMS Victorious while the carrier is at anchor in the Royal Navy Home Fleet anchorage of Scapa Flow.
Because of aerodynamic reasons, carriers in World War Two typically had to turn into the wind which gave added lift to planes taking off. As an aircraft carrier neared its anchorage, the planes based on the carrier took off while the carrier was still at sea and could turn into the wind and flew to a Fleet Air Arm base on land.
They usually practiced landing on a carrier deck by landing on runways on land marked with the length of a carrier deck. Aircraft carrier pilots then and to this day often describe landing on a carrier as a “controlled crash.” It isn’t and wasn’t for the faint of heart.
In the last few years, the US Navy has started to fly drones from aircraft carriers which calls in question our naval strategy based around massive aircraft carrier battle groups. This is according to defense writer and expert Thomas Ricks, not me.
RNVR means Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. Officers wore wavy stripes on their coat sleeves instead of regular stripes worn by professional “regular service” officers. Hence known as “wavy navy.” Nonetheless, RNVR officers came to vastly outnumber the regular service officers of whom there were only about 5,000 when the war began.
RNVR officers who were pilots assigned to the Fleet Air Arm wore a small insignia denoting this. The men claimed the small insignia was meant to inform all other RN personnel that they knew absolutely nothing about the navy.
Hvalfjord was a treacherous anchorage because it was exposed to vicious winds. Ships at anchor normally dropped both bow and stern anchors which they usually didn’t do in more protected anchorages as well as keep steam on since they often had to make revolutions for two or three knots simply to stay where they were and not drag their anchors if a storm came up.
Featured image shows: Fairey Albacores, the torpedo carrying plane of the Fleet Air Arm landing on the deck of HMS VICTORIOUS while the ship was en route to Hvalfjord, Iceland from Scapa Flow. The automatic Bat can be seen in the right of the picture, as can the arrestor wires running across the flight deck.
USS Nimitz on patrol in the Pacific. Named for our greatest admiral, Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief US Navy Pacific fleet in World War Two. Fleet Admiral Nimitz led US naval forces to victory over Japan. Nimitz class carriers are the largest warships in the world.
The surrender of Japan aboard USS Missouri in Tokyo Bay, September 2, 1945: Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, representing the United States, signs the instrument of surrender.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.
USS Nimitz in the Pacific Ocean.
An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches off the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68).
Admiral Chester W. Nimitz pins Navy Cross on Doris Miller, at a ceremony on board the USS Enterprise (CV-6) at Pearl Harbor, May 27, 1942. Miller was the first African-American to be awarded the US Navy Cross, the second highest decoration of the US Navy.
The citation for the medal says Miller was recognized for his “distinguished devotion to duty, extraordinary courage and disregard for his own personal safety during the attack on the Fleet in Pearl Harbor, Territory of Hawaii, by Japanese forces on December 7, 1941.
Flames roar from the exhaust of a Spitfire as it starts its engine. Photograph: Carl Court/Getty Images. August 2015. Courtesy of the Guardian.
Arrive in Malta at last. If the Spitfire pilots didn’t keep an eagle eye on their fuel mixture and fly in such a way as to conserve fuel they coulnd’t make it to Malta from their flying off point and over the years a number of them crashed into the Med never to be heard from again.
PACIFIC OCEAN (May 7, 2017) Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sampson (DDG 102) steams along San Celemente Island during a Mark 45 5-inch gun fire exercise while conducting a group sail training unit exercise. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ignacio D. Perez/Released)
Arleigh Burke class destroyers are named in honor of Admiral Arleigh “31 knot” Burke. In 1991 with Admiral Burke himself present at age 90, the USS Arleigh Burke, the first ship of the class, was launched.
Burke earned his nickname, given by Admiral William F. Halsey, from the following radio message broadcast to US troop transports who were in danger of being intercepted by Japanese warships in World War Two in the New Guinea campaign.
“Stand aside! Stand aside! I’m coming through at 31 knots,”
radioed Mr. Burke, then a Captain, radioed darkened American troop transports as his squadron, named Little Beavers for a comic strip character, steamed up the slot at boiler bursting speed to attack a Japanese task force off Bougainville on the night of Nov. 1, 1943.
In a widely heralded action, the squadron covered the landing of thousands of American troops while attacking enemy vessels and aircraft. When the battle of Empress Augusta Bay ended the next day, the Japanese toil was horrendous. A cruiser and four destroyers lay on the bottom, and two cruisers and a pair of destroyers had limped away heavily damaged.
Later that month, the squadron engaged another Japanese task force off Cape St. George, New Ireland, and sank three destroyers without taking a hit. In 22 engagements from November 1943 to February 1944, the Navy said, Captain Burke’s squadron was credited with sinking one cruiser, nine destroyers, one submarine and nine smaller ships, as well as downing approximately 30 aircraft.
Burke became famous for his daring exploits as Commander of Destroyer Squadron 23 in the Pacific in 1943 and 1944. After the war he went all the way up the ladder. In 1955 he was named Chief of Naval Operations by President Eisenhower.”
[lines in quotes from Burke’s obituary in the New York Times in 1996]
The post has a tenure of two years and he served six years for a total of 3 terms. President Kennedy asked him to serve a 4th term as CNO but he felt he should retire to make way for others.
BLACK SEA (May 14, 2017) The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) and the Bulgarian navy frigate Drazki 41 maneuver during a passing exercise. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Sean Spratt/Released)
no doubt Admiral Burke would raise an eyebrow at this
REPUBLIC OF SINGAPORE (May 16, 2017) The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Sazanami (DD 113), left, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) are moored together at the International Maritime Defense Exhibition 2017 (IMDEX-17). (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Byron C. Linder/Released)
Admiral Mitscher and his chief of staff Arleigh Burke arrive on board Enterprise after flagship Bunker Hill was badly damaged from two kamikaze attacks. The attacks set the ship’s island afire, and killed or wounded a number of Mitscher’s senior staff. Among the dead was Dr. Ray Hege, the physician Admiral Nimitz had assigned to watch over the frail health of Admiral Mitscher. (US Navy photo & caption)
While many things in Washington DC are in a state of confusion, it is good to know that our US Navy is on patrol in the Pacific Ocean where the US and its allies have critical economic and political interests.
PACIFIC OCEAN (May 16, 2017) An F/A-18C Hornet assigned to the “Blue Blasters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34 prepares to make an arrested landing aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) western Pacific. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific routinely for more than 70 years promoting regional peace and security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Granito/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (May 12, 2017) An MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4 “Black Knights” prepares to land on the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the western Pacific Ocean. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Matthew Granito/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (May 11, 2017) The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) participates in a strait transit simulation. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul L. Archer/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (May 11, 2017) Ships from the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier strike Group participate in a simulated strait transit. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul L. Archer/Released)
PACIFIC OCEAN (May 16, 2017) Sailors conduct flight operations aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) in the western Pacific. The U.S. Navy has patrolled the Indo-Asia-Pacific routinely for more than 70 years promoting regional peace and security. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Rebecca Sunderland/Released)
WATERS SOUTH OF JAPAN (May 18, 2017) Sailors assigned to the “Saberhawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 77 inspect an MH-60R Sea Hawk helicopter on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). The ship is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 5, providing a combat-ready force that protects and defends the collective maritime interests of its allies and partners in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jamal McNeill/Released)
SOUTH CHINA SEA (May 15, 2017) Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson is welcomed aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG 104) by Sterett’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Claudine Caluori, during Sterett’s anchorage off the coast of Singapore. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Byron C. Linder/Released)