Stand aside! I’m Coming through at 31 Knots!

WTIs aboard USS Bunker Hill

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)

How the Arleigh Burke class destroyers got their name

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.

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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)

Sterett-Dewey Surface Action Group Deployment

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)

 

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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)

 

 

 

 

 

 

US Navy on patrol in the Pacific

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.

 

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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)

 

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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)

 

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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)

 

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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)

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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)

 

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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)

 

Sterett-Dewey Surface Action Group DeploymentSOUTH 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)

 

 

 

Elder Brother of the Trinity

9 August 1941.  Churchill in the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House aboard USS Augusta with US President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

When asked by a senior official of the French government in a hurried meeting in June of 1941 what uniform he was wearing, Churchill explained to the amazement of this man that he was wearing the uniform of the Elder Brother of the Trinity. Churchill insisted on speaking in French but his skills in that language were not on par with his skills using the English language which often caused confusion. His actual words describing his uniform were: “Frère Aîné de la Trinité” which translates as “Elder Brother of the Trinity.”

Another view of Churchill in the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House taken aboard HMS Prince of Wales during the Atlantic Conference.

Churchill often wore the uniform of an Elder Brother of Trinity House, an organization chartered by the British Crown in 1514 to oversea harbour pilots and aids to navigation. He was made an Honorary Elder Brother upon being appointed to the cabinet position of First Lord of the Admiralty in 1913.

 

Trinity House in London. Chartered in 1514 by Henry VIII, the organization has had multifarious functions related to navigation and pilotage over the centuries.

The official website of Trinity House describes the organization thus:

“Today, it maintains In their capacity as Master Mariners, the duties of the Elder Brethren began with the examination and regulation of Pilotage (initially restricted to the River Thames area), and have grown to take on other powers and responsibilities, including the siting and erecting of various aids to navigation (such as lighthouses, buoys, beacons and light-vessels), attendance at Admiralty Court to advise on maritime disputes and affairs, and of course to govern the multi-faceted Corporation of Trinity House, including the administration of the Corporation’s charitable function – the financing and upkeep of the UK’s largest-endowed maritime charity.”

www.trinityhouse.co.uk/about-us

 

Source: Churchill by Roy Jenkins

 

Another view of Churchill in his uniform as an Elder Brother of Trinity House while sitting next to President Roosevelt during the Atlantic Conference. As an aside, if you look closely at FDR’s feet you will see the steel braces he had to strap onto his legs to stand. With these braces holding him up, and with one or two of his military aides or children providing support, he pretended to walk.

This photograph was taken during the Sunday service with equal numbers of Royal Navy and US Navy personnel on 12 August 1941 held aboard HMS Prince of Wales. 

(Left to right, behind FDR and Churchill, are Admiral Ernest King, USN, then Commander-in-Chief US Fleet, US Army Chief of Staff George C. Marshal, General Sir John Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, Admiral “Betty” Stark, USN Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral of the Fleet  Sir Dudley Pound, First Sea Lord of the Royal Navy (the professional head of the Royal Navy with the First Lord of the Admiralty, a member of Parliament, having the ultimate authority. This was reorganized in decades after the war. (photo USNA)

 

Eisenhower Explains Operation Torch

American troops on board a landing craft heading for the beaches at Oran in Algeria during Operation 'Torch', November 1942. A 12661 Part of ADMIRALTY OFFICIAL COLLECTION Hudson, F A (Lt) Royal Navy official photographer

American troops on board a landing craft heading for the beaches at Oran in Algeria during Operation ‘Torch’, November 1942. 

(photo courtesy of the Imperial War Museum, Admiralty Official Collection. Photograph by Lt. F.A. Hudson, Royal Navy official photographer)

Wrote General Eisenhower after the war:

“The situation was vague, the amount of resources unknown, the final objective indeterminate and the only firm factor in the whole business [were] our instructions to attack.”

 

Everything about Operation Torch, the Allied invasion of French North Africa, was a muddle. The Americans and the British had only a vague idea of what they were doing. Training and rehearsal had been minimal across the board. The Allies had very little experience in amphibious landings and those they had attempted heretofore had not worked.
With only scant training, young sailors found themselves dumped aboard warships for the first time in their lives. Army soldiers had never trained for this type of assault and many had not yet received even the rudiments of combat training. The only trained amphibious force in the US military were the US Marines but they were consumed by the war in the Pacific.

Inter-allied communications were inadequate. Merchant ships carrying important cargo or troops were not adequately protected from air attack which everyone seems to have forgotten about. Few of the merchant ships were combat loaded. Planning was hurried, inadequate and in the classic military phrase, the Allied invasion known as Torch can be characterized as “order, counter-order, disorder.”

The Anglo-American forces prevailed largely because of the actions of the British Royal Navy and US Navy warships. Both navies performed at a high standard given how haphazard the entire affair was. Captains took initiative and closed the beaches to fire at French shore batteries and/or machine guns firing on Allied troops. Heavy ships moved in to provide cover for destroyers being targeted by coastal batteries and undertook the barrages themselves.

(This type of gunfire support from Allied naval ships was also critical during the Normandy landings. On occasion, Allied destroyers were so close they were dueling with German artillery batteries).

 

General Eisenhower’s postwar summation of Torch is apt: “The situation was vague, the amount of resources unknown, the final objective indeterminate and the only firm factor in the whole business [were] our instructions to attack.”

 

 

Prinz Eugen Becomes a Prize of War

Prinz Eugen

 German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen was taken as a prize-of-war by the US Navy and designated the USS Prinz Eugen, an unclassified miscellaneous vessel. This is the only foreign warship commissioned into the US Navy since the days of sail.

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Prinz Eugen (centre) under repair in the Lofjord; next to her, on her starboard side, is the repair ship Huascaran; Admiral Scheer is also moored behind anti-torpedo nets. (Imperial War Museum)

 

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Prinz Eugen at anchor still fitting out circa 1938. The swastika on the bow is meant to help German warplanes identify Prinz Eugen as a German ship. (German National Archive)

One of Prinz Eugen’s three-bladed screws on display at the Laboe Naval Memorial

 

Photo of a 10.5cm SK C/33 anti-aircraft mounting on the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen in US Navy service, preparing for the Operation Crossroads nuclear tests in 1946. Photo was taken by the US Navy’s Bureau of Ordnance on 17 June 1946 to document the ship before the nuclear tests.

 

Prinz Eugen at her launch 22 August 1938    (Bundesarchiv)

Prinz Eugen Surrenders

Prinz Eugen Surrenders in Copenhagen

 

GERMAN CRUISERS DISARM AT COPENHAGEN. 18 MAY 1945, COPENHAGEN. DE-AMMUNITIONING OF THE GERMAN CRUISERS PRINZ EUGEN AND NURNBERG. (A 28718) Shells being unloaded from the PRINZ EUGEN by German naval ratings. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205160053
GERMAN CRUISERS DISARM AT COPENHAGEN. 18 MAY 1945, COPENHAGEN. DE-AMMUNITIONING OF THE GERMAN CRUISERS PRINZ EUGEN AND NURNBERG. (A 28718) Shells being unloaded from the PRINZ EUGEN by German naval ratings. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205160053

In the last months of World War Two, German heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen was stationed in the Baltic and provided to fire support to German troops fighting the Soviets. In mid-April 1945, the ship had fired her heavy guns so often no more ammunition of that size was available in the Germany.

Prinz Eugen sailed for Copenhagen in German occupied Denmark arriving on 20 April 1945.

After lying in Copenhagen for the remaining three weeks of World War Two the ship officially surrendered to the Royal Navy on 8 May 1945.

Known as “the lucky ship” of the German navy, Prinz Eugen was damaged a number of times in action yet never sank and was always able to be repaired.

GERMAN CRUISERS DISARM AT COPENHAGEN. 18 MAY 1945, COPENHAGEN. DE-AMMUNITIONING OF THE GERMAN CRUISERS PRINZ EUGEN AND NURNBERG. (A 28717) Shells being unloaded from the PRINZ EUGEN by German naval ratings. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205160052
GERMAN CRUISER DISARMS AT COPENHAGEN. 18 MAY 1945. DE-AMMUNITIONING OF THE GERMAN CRUISER PRINZ EUGEN . (A 28717) Shells being unloaded from the PRINZ EUGEN by German naval ratings. Copyright: © IWM. Original Source: http://www.iwm.org.uk/collections/item/object/205160052

 

 

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Prinz Eugen under escort from Copenhagen to Wilhelmshaven after surrendering to the British Royal Navy. The ship was later turned over to the US Navy as a prize of war. The German officers and ratings continued to operate the ship under the watchful eyes of British Royal Navy officers and Royal Marines.

The photograph above is from the archive of the Australian armed forces. Their caption:  “Acting as “air sentries”, aircraft of RAF Coastal Command in which many RAAF men are still serving kept a watchful eye on the two German cruisers Prinz Eugen and Nürnberg whilst they were on their way from Copenhagen to Wilhelmshaven under the terms of surrender.”

 

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USS Prinz Eugen in Panama Canal 

(photo US Navy HHC)

After being taken by the US Navy, the ship was commissioned into the US Navy as the USS Prinz Eugen, the only foreign ship ever commissioned into the US Navy since the days of sail. The US Navy had to get the ship to the US. Many of the German officers and crewmen volunteered to stay aboard and assist US Navy personnel to take the ship to the US. Halfway across the Atlantic the Prinz Eugen, which had received very little maintenance in the last year of the war, broke down and had to be towed the rest of the way to the US.

 

According to the website of  the US Navy History and Heritage Command: “Prinz Eugen surrendered to the British at Copenhagen, Denmark, 7 May 1945, and was taken to Wilhelmshaven, Germany. She became property of the U.S. Navy, and was classified IX-300. In January 1946 she steamed, with an American and German crew, commanded by Captain A. H. Graubart, USN, to Boston, arriving on the 24th. Proceeding via Philadelphia and the Panama Canal to the Pacific for atomic bomb tests, she survived an atomic explosion at Bikini 25 July 1946, and was towed to Kwajalein where she began to list significantly 21 December. Despite an attempt to beach her, at Enubuj, she capsized and sank 22 December 1946. Into 1970 she remains rusting on a coral reef at Enubuj, Kwajalein Atoll.

The ship was named for Prince Eugene of Savoy (1663-1736), an Austrian general, who fought France and the Ottoman Empire during various wars.  sailed for Copenhagen in German occupied Denmark arriving on 20 April 1945. ”

USN HHC ship-histories/prinz-eugen

 

 

 

“AIR RAID ON PEARL HARBOR THIS IS NO DRILL.”

7 December 1941

Japanese surprise attack on Pearl Harbor

“A date which will live in infamy”

President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in his speech to the Congress of the United States requesting a declaration of war against Japan.

“I fear all we have done is awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.”

(The source of this quote cannot be found but it is attributed to Japanese Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto, who planned the attack on Pearl Harbor)

LEST WE FORGET

The attack killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians

 

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Pearl Harbor under attack

Official US Navy photograph.

While attributed to many including film found in a Brownie camera in the footlocker of sailor long after the war this and the other photographs in set are official US Navy photos released into the public domain decades ago).