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)

 

 

 

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).

 

RN Ships Sunk Java Sea WW2 destroyed by illegal scavenging

HMS Exeter one of the heroes of the Battle of the Rio Plata coming dockside at Plymouth in February 1940. The ship was badly damaged during the engagement in December of 1939.

The ships which have been destroyed by salvage are war graves and this is an international crime. All naval ships mentioned were sunk in February/March 1942 during the Battle of the Java Sea or the following Battle of the Sundra Strait.

Ten allied ships were sunk in these engagements and more than 3,000 Allied sailors perished. Those who were captured by the Japanese were tortured, starved, beaten and some beheaded. These ships formed the naval arm of the combined ABDA Command–American, British, Dutch, Australian–led by Dutch Admiral Karel Doorman of the Royal Netherlands Navy.

Operating with limited intelligence on Japanese fleet movements, without air cover, outnumbered and outgunned, Doorman and the allied ships under his command fought with great bravery and ferocity against the Japanese invaders.

Three of the sunken ships–all sunk at the Battle of the Sundra Straits— are HMS Exeter, one of the trio of ships which had thrashed the Admiral Graf Spee at the Battle of the Rio Plata in December of 1939, USS Houston, an American  treaty cruiser which was a favorite ship of President Roosevelt and one he used on several occasions, and HMAS Perth, an Australian light cruiser who went down at the side of the USS Houston in a point blank duel with Japanese warships.

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Admiral Karel Doorman, seen here as a Lt. Commander in an official photo taken in 1930,  was killed on 28 February 1942, aboard his flagship De Ruyter, which was sunk in the Battle of the Java Sea. He was a brave man and a gallant naval warrior.

These war graves were disturbed and the ships salvaged and sold for scrap with the full knowledge of the different levels of the Indonesian government, either provincial or national. It is outrageous and offensive that the government of Indonesia has allowed this to happen and has done nothing.

Thank you to my special correspondent in New Orleans, Bob Warren, for bringing this to my attention.

From the Guardian of London

Source: British second world war ships in Java Sea destroyed by illegal scavenging

Exclusive: 3D mapping report of sea off Indonesia, seen by the Guardian, shows large holes in the seabed where ships used to be

US PT Boats WW2

PT was the US Navy abbreviation of “patrol torpedo” boats in World War Two.

 

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Navy Gunners firing their 50 caliber guns, send their bright stream of tracers aloft at a Zero as another Zero dives in flames into the lagoon.

Numerous prototypes for patrol torpedo boats were designed and built with each one having its on flaws. Nonetheless, they were easy and quick to build but were hell to be on in a heavy seaway. Their hulls had a very difficult time taking the pounding they received in rough weather. While the plywood they were made of was itself made from mahogany and braced with solid mahogany, PT boats could exceed a speed of 40 knots.

(Drawing, Charcoal on Board; by Griffith Baily Coale; 1942. Courtesy of the US Navy History and Heritage Command)

PT boats underway off Attu Island during occupation.

US Navy PT boats underway off Attu Island during the Japanese occupation.

Japanese troops landed on Attu and Kiska 3 June 1942. These are part of the Aleutian Islands which came into possession of the United States after we bought Alaska from the Tsar of Russia in 1867. We bought the entire state for $7.2mm. Secretary of State Seward was ridiculed over paying such a ridiculously large amount of money for what was assumed to be nothing more than a frozen wilderness. I think we got the better of the deal.

Given the remoteness of the islands and the forbidding climate, it took more than a year of planning and transporting supplies before US and Canadian troops re-took the islands from the Japanese.

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Photograph above from the US National Archives shows PT boats returning to base after operations off Leyte Island in the Philippines in December 1944. Note twin mounted .50 cal. machine guns. On 20 October 1944, US troops had landed on Leyte. This commenced the American campaign to drive the Japanese out of the Philippines. The fighting was intense and and US troops took heavy casualties.

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US Navy PT Boats make high speed runs, during maneuvers off The Panama Canal Zone, circa 1943.

(photo and caption courtesy of US Navy History and Heritage Command)

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Admiralties Operations, March-April 1944. PT boats bombarding Pityilu Island, Seeadler Harbor, prior to landings there by the Army’s First Cavalry Division, 30 March 1944. Note 37mm & 20mm guns on these boats. (Photo and caption courtesy of US Navy History and Heritage Command)

“Admiralties Operations” above is a reference to part of the larger New Guinea campaign to regain control of these islands from the Japanese. The Admiralty Islands had originally been a colony of Imperial Germany. After Germany’s defeat in World War One, the League of Nations gave Australia a mandate to rule the islands. The Admiralty Islands are an archipelago group of 18 islands in the Bismarck Archipelago, to the north of New Guinea in the South Pacific Ocean.

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PT boats in New Guinea. Zero hour nears as darkness descends on New Guinea. Boats of the PT squadron warm up as they prepare to roar out on another dangerous mission.

In the beginning of the naval war in the Pacific, the US Navy had not achieved the mastery of fighting at night which had been achieved by the Imperial Japanese Navy and until new fighting doctrines were developed, the US Navy suffered significant losses in night battles with the Japanese especially in a series of engagements off Guadalcanal.

 

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U.S. Navy PT boats crossing the English Channel on D-Day, 6 June 1944  during the Normandy Invasion, as twelve B-17 bombers pass overhead. Note the twin .50 caliber machine guns on the boat from which the photograph was taken.

(caption and photo courtesy of U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command)

Although the vast majority of US Navy PT boats were deployed in the Pacific, a handful were sent to Europe as seen in the photo above. I have never understood why the US Navy felt the need to do this. We must have felt we just wanted a handful of our own PT boats instead of having a squadron of Royal Navy Motor Torpedo Boats assigned to the US fleet.

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 A ship in New York Harbor loaded with Elco 80 foot Patrol Torpedo Boats (PT Boats). 

Photo taken in 1942 and courtesy of Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library & Museum

Approximately 600 PT boats were built for the US Navy, almost all of them either built by the Elco Company or Higgins in New Orleans.

SEAL Team 6: A Secret History of Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines

The unit best known for killing Osama bin Laden has been converted into a global manhunting machine with limited outside oversight.

Source: SEAL Team 6: A Secret History of Quiet Killings and Blurred Lines

 

This very interesting article appeared in the New York Times on 6 June 2015