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USS Fanning (DD-37) in wartime camouflage

USS Fanning (DD-37) in wartime camouflage

U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Norman Friedmann .The standard history of the development of American destroyers, from the earliest torpedo boat destroyers to the post-war fleet, and covering the massive classes of destroyers built for both World Wars. Gives the reader a good understanding of the debates that surrounded each class of destroyer and led to their individual features.


FANNING DD 385

This section lists the names and designations that the ship had during its lifetime. The list is in chronological order.

    Mahan Class Destroyer
    Keel Laid April 10 1935 - Launched September 18 1936

Naval Covers

This section lists active links to the pages displaying covers associated with the ship. There should be a separate set of pages for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Covers should be presented in chronological order (or as best as can be determined).

Since a ship may have many covers, they may be split among many pages so it doesn't take forever for the pages to load. Each page link should be accompanied by a date range for covers on that page.

Postmarks

This section lists examples of the postmarks used by the ship. There should be a separate set of postmarks for each incarnation of the ship (ie, for each entry in the "Ship Name and Designation History" section). Within each set, the postmarks should be listed in order of their classification type. If more than one postmark has the same classification, then they should be further sorted by date of earliest known usage.

A postmark should not be included unless accompanied by a close-up image and/or an image of a cover showing that postmark. Date ranges MUST be based ONLY ON COVERS IN THE MUSEUM and are expected to change as more covers are added.
 
>>> If you have a better example for any of the postmarks, please feel free to replace the existing example.


Bad Day for Old Museum Ships

USCGC Bramble WLB 392, back in her pre-2019 Port Huron days

The retired U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bramble (WLB-392), a WWII-era veteran of the Bikini tests and the historic 1957 voyage through the Northwest Passage left federal service in 2003. She then spent a quiet life as a museum ship in Port Huron, Michigan for years.

Then, in 2018 she was sold to a man who wanted to repeat the famous five-month trek of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutters Storis, SPAR and Bramble, along with the crew of the Canadian icebreaker HMCS Labrador from May to September of 1957.

He even hired a documentary film crew to cover the whole thing with the name “Bramble Reborn”

The bad part is, Bramble’s new owner ran out of funds, and the ship was seized for debts run up with the Epic Shipyard in Mobile, Alabama and other creditors. She was sold at public auction for $80,000 on Wednesday, her future unknown.

Tragically, the U.S. Coast Guard Historian’soffice had put the ship’s 1944-dated bell in safekeeping when she was decommissioned in 2003 and only returned it to the museum in 2014. Now, it may be gone, along with the vessel, for good.

The LA Times reports that the former Soviet SSK B-427, which has been part of three different maritime museums since she was decommissioned in 1994 and is currently docked adjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, “is expected to be sold soon to an anonymous buyer, with plans to remove the rusting sub by mid-May. The 48-year-old Russian Foxtrot-class submarine, known as the Scorpion, had hosted paying visitors for 17 years before it fell into such disrepair that it became infested with raccoons and was closed to the public in 2015.”

Oregon relics

Battleship Oregon in the Willamette River in Oregon, 20 April 1941, after she was, ironically, preserved whole as a museum ship since 1925.

In a (possibly) bright spot, the 20-foot-high smokestacks of the old USS Oregon (Battleship No. 3) have been stored on private property for nearly a decade at the Zidell Yards in South Waterfront. An effort is being made to install them in Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park, where the Spanish-American War/Great War vessel’s mast has stood since 1956. However, the plan seems to be faltering.

A proposed design for adding the USS Oregon’s smokestacks to its memorial (which currently features just the mast) at Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park. (Courtesy of Oregon Maritime Museum)

Hopefully, they will find a home there. If not, they too could go to the scrapper.

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Warship Wednesday Feb. 5, 2020: Witness to the Sunrise

Here at LSOZI, we are going to take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1946 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places. – Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, Feb. 5, 2020: Witness to the Sunrise

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command. Catalog #: NH 63918

Here we see the wreck of the battleship USS Arizona (BB-39), burned out and sunk in Pearl Harbor on 10 December 1941, three days after she was destroyed during the 7 December Japanese raid. In the background is the light cruiser USS Saint Louis (CL-49), in the center, and, to the left, the old USS Baltimore (ex-Cruiser No. 3), which had been laid down some 50 years previously. Baltimore was unique in the fact that she had been ringside for the expansion of Japanese naval power in her lifetime.

A British design from Armstrong, the warship that would become the fourth USS Baltimore was the third modern protected cruiser built for the U.S. Navy, following in the wake of near-sister USS Charleston (C-2) and the one-off USS Newark (C-1).

Built at William Cramp and Sons, Philadelphia for a cost of $1,325,000, Baltimore was laid down 5 May 1887 and commissioned into the fleet 7 January 1890. Some 327-feet long and tipping the scales at 4,400-tons, she was reasonably fast, at 21-knots, had a smattering of armor that ranged from 2-to-4-inches, and toted a decent armament for her size: a quartet of 8-inch guns and another half-dozen 6-inch guns as well as smaller anti-boat guns and a brace of early torpedo tubes.

U.S.S. Baltimore en route to G.A.R. encampment, Boston, with President Harrison on board LOC

Baltimore In New York Harbor, with the Statue of Liberty in the right distance, circa 1890 during the Hudson-Fulton Exhibition NH 69174

Baltimore In New York Harbor 1890 NH 61696

Her first mission, after shakedown, was to carry the body of Swedish steam engine pioneer John Ericsson from New York back to Stockholm for interment. The Navy carried the body of the man who sketched out the design of the USS Monitor with a Swedish flag hoisted on every ship of the squadron.

Baltimore leaving New York Harbor on 23 August 1890, en route to return the remains of John Ericsson to Sweden. USS Boston is in the left-center, flying the Swedish ensign from her mast peak. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 69176

This event was turned into a painting in 1898.

“The White Squadron’s Farewell Salute to the Body of John Ericsson, New York Bay, August 23, 1890”. Oil on canvas, 36″ by 54″, by Edward Moran (1829-1901), signed and dated by the artist, 1898. It depicts USS Baltimore (Cruiser # 3) departing New York Harbor to return the remains of John Ericsson to his native Sweden. Note the Swedish ensign flying from the ship’s foremast. Painting in the U.S. Naval Academy Museum Collection. Gift of Paul E. Sutro, 1940. KN-10851 (Color).

Returning to the East Coast after a series of European stops and port calls to show the flag, Baltimore was dispatched to join the South Pacific Station in 1891. There, while in Valparaíso, Chile to protect U.S. interests during the tension caused by the Chilean revolution, a group of sailors on Libo at a local saloon were attacked by a local mob, leaving one bluejacket, coal heaver William Turnbill, dead and another 17 injured.

Attack on American sailors at Valparaíso 1891

The resulting incident and investigations were later made right through diplomatic channels and a monument erected and indemnity paid.

Meanwhile, Baltimore became a standard fixture in the Pacific and was reassigned even further West to join the Asiatic Squadron in 1893, becoming squadron flagship of RADM Joseph S. Skerrett on her arrival.

Baltimore anchored at Yokohama, Japan, 1894, while serving as flagship of the Asiatic Station. Donation of Rear Admiral Ammen C. Farenholt, USN (MC), 1933.NH 56326

It was while in Japanese waters that the tensions between that Empire and old Imperial China boiled over into outright war over then nominally independent Korea. Baltimore was in the thick of it, cruising the waters between the two battle lines, observing the war and protecting American interests. A detailed account at the NHHC, taken largely from her deck logs, makes for interesting reading. This included landing and marching 21 Marines in combat order more than 30 miles overland to Seoul, then in the Hermit Kingdom, to guard the legation compound.

After the war ended in 1895, Baltimore was sent back to the West Coast for overhaul and, by late 1897 was back with the fleet, ultimately sailing from Hawaii as the chances of war with Spain escalated. She joined Commodore George Dewey’s squadron in Hong Kong on 22 April 1898 on the eve of the conflict, where she was hastily repainted in haze gray and made ready for battle.

Just a week later, on 1 May, she steamed into Spanish-held Manila Bay just behind Dewey’s flagship, USS Olympia, and soon was engaging both shore batteries vessels of the Royal Spanish Navy.

Battle of Manila Bay, May 1, 1898. With Manila, Philippines, in the top center, and the Spanish fleet in the upper right, the U.S. Navy ships listed descending on the left to bottom are Colliers USS McCullough USS Petrel USS Concord USS Boston USS Raleigh USS Baltimore and USS Olympia – signaling “Remember the Maine.” Color lithograph by Rand McNally. Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Hit by enemy shells at least five times during the action, Baltimore nonetheless suffered “no serious injury to any officer or man,” in the battle. She then went on to spend most of the next year convoying troop and supply transports, providing naval gunfire support to U.S. troops, and bombarding Filipino insurgents throughout the Philippines.

By 1901, she was sent back to the states for overhaul at the New York Navy Yard.

Baltimore Underway in New York Harbor, circa 1903. The Statue of Liberty is dimly visible in the right distance. NH 83962

By 1904, after stints in the Caribbean and Med, she was back on Asiatic Station, where she once again kept tabs on the Japanese fleet as the growing force pounded not one but two of the Tsar’s modern squadrons down under the waves.

Baltimore’s crew, hard-serving volunteers sandwiched between the age of the wood-and-sail Navy and the age of the new steel-and-steam fleet, were captured in time in several period photos between 1904 and 1906.

Baltimore’s Marine Guard in heavy marching order, during her Asiatic Fleet deployment, circa 1904-1906. They were equipped for winter expeditionary party duty, with horseshoe rolls containing their blankets rolled in rubber ponchos. They are armed with Krag-Jorgenson rifles (M1898) and bayonets and wear woven double loop cartridge belts. Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Capt. Nathan Sargent. (Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph NH 95652)

Two Chief Petty Officers enjoy a game of Acey-Deucy on deck, circa 1904-06. The man at left wears an Ex-Apprentice’s figure-eight knot badge on his right sleeve. Note coiled fire hose and sewing machine in the background. Copied from the USS Baltimore album, page 42. NH 101372

The Wireless Office and Operators, circa 1904-1906. Note the early radio equipment and the rating badge of the First-Class Electrician’s Mate seated in the center. NH 101374

Local peddlers on board the cruiser, at Tangier, Morocco, circa May 1904. Note the adjustable boat cradles overhead, and ventilation fittings in the hammock stowage bulwark at left. NH 101338

Crewmen pose with cleaning equipment, circa 1904-1906. About half of these men appear to be smoking pipes. Copied from the USS Baltimore album, page 28. NH 101345

Sailors and Marines from the ship’s crew at the rifle range, Auckland, New Zealand, circa 1904-1906. Copied from the USS Baltimore album, page 47. NH 101377

Ping-Pong gunnery sighting practice on one of the ship’s three-inch rapid-fire guns, circa 1904-1906. Copied from the USS Baltimore album, page 47. NH 101373

In 1907, Baltimore, pushing twenty years on her hull, was sent back to the U.S. where she spent the next several years in training, receiving ship and reserve roles. By 1913, with much more modern cruisers joining the fleet, the aging Baltimore was rerated as a minelayer, converted to carry up to 180 mines.

Her 1914 Janes entry, where she is listed on a page titled “Old Second Class Cruisers”

When the Great War swept across the planet, Baltimore was brought back from ordinary and spent much of 1915 and 1916 in mining experiments and training with the fleet, voyaging from New England to the Caribbean and back.

USS Baltimore (Minelayer, originally Cruiser # 3). In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 10 December 1916 NH 54427

USS Baltimore (Minelayer, originally Cruiser # 3). In Hampton Roads, Virginia, 10 December 1916 NH 54427

Once the U.S. entered the conflict in 1917, Baltimore became the flag of RADM Joseph Strauss, Commander, Mine Force, and, along with the converted cruiser USS San Francisco, and steamers-turned-minelayers USS Roanoke, USS Candaiga, USS Shawmut USS Quinnebaugh, USS Housatonic, USS Canonicus, USS Aroostook, and USS Saranac, would sortie across the Atlantic to sew the Great North Sea Mine Barrage. An idea of then Asst. SECNAV Franklin D. Roosevelt, the immense mine battery was kicked off by Baltimore on the night of 13/14 April 1918.

Before the end of the war, the Mine Force dropped 70,177 mines into the North Sea and surrounding waters, many under Baltimore’s watchful eyes. At least 900 were carried there in her own holds. Much more on this period is documented in the ship’s DANFS entry.

Mine handling operations onboard Baltimore, 1920. Note what appears to be a mine elevator at left. Donation of Cmdr. Christopher Noble, USN (Retired), February 1967. NH 56330

By the end of WWI, Baltimore was back in U.S. waters and in late 1919 was ordered, once again, to join the Pacific fleet. She spent the remainder of her active career operating from San Francisco, and she was placed out of commission there on 15 September 1922, after 32 years’ service.

With what appears to be a minesweeper moored alongside to starboard, ex-Baltimore lies off Ford Island awaiting disposition, 21 September 1939 less than two years later, the veteran of the Battle of Manila Bay would witness the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. U.S. Navy Photograph 80-G-410165

Stricken from the Navy list on 14 October 1937, she was sent to Hawaii where she spent the next half-decade as a hulk at Pearl Harbor. Her name was recycled for the heavy cruiser USS Baltimore (CA-68), which was laid down 26 May 1941, and her bell, silver service, and relics removed.

Unmanned and forgotten, she was just off Battleship Row when the Japanese rounded Diamondhead on 7 December 1941. The old cruiser was sold in February 1942 for scrap, after which she had much of her upper structure removed for recycling, then her hull was towed out to sea and scuttled on 22 September 1944 off the south shore of Oahu in 537 meters of water.

Her bell is currently on display at the Independence Seaport Museum.

Baltimore is, of course, remembered in maritime art.

USS Baltimore (C 3) artwork by an unknown artist. NHHC Photograph Collection, NH 56328

USS Baltimore (Cruiser # 3) at right Chromolithograph by Armstrong & Company, after a watercolor by Fred S. Cozzens, published in Our Navy Its Growth and Achievements, 1897. It depicts Baltimore departing New York harbor to carry the remains of John Ericsson to his native Sweden, in August 1890. At left, flying the Swedish flag at her forepeak and firing a salute, is USS Boston. Collection of Captain Glenn Howell, USN, 1974. NH 334-KN

The “Battleship” Baltimore in Stockholm Harbor by Anders Zorn

Since 1980, the name Baltimore was carried by a Los Angeles-class attack submarine (SSN-704) which was decommissioned 1998. Hopefully, the Navy will name a 7th Baltimore soon.

Drawing courtesy of Robert Jensen via Navsource http://www.navsource.org/archives/04/c3/c3.htm

Displacement 4,413 tons
Length: 327 feet 6 inches
Beam: 48 feet 7½ Inches
Draft: 19 feet 6 inches
Maximum draft fully loaded:23 feet, 11 ½ inches
Propulsion: Horizontal triple-expansion engines, 10,064 hp. 2 shafts, four double-ended cylindrical boilers
Speed: 21.5 knots
Coal bunker capacity: 1,143.87 tons
Normal coal supply: 400 tons
Coal endurance at 10 knots: 7,212 nautical miles
Armor: 4″ steel on the slopes, deck 3″ Conning tower, 2”-gun protection.
Compliment: 36 Officers and 350 Enlisted Men (as designed)
Armament: (as-built)
4 x 8″/35cal breechloading guns
6 x 6″/30cal breechloading guns
4 x 6 pounder (57mm) rapid-fire guns
2 x 3 pounder (47mm) rapid-fire guns
2 x 1 pounder (37mm) rapid-fire guns
4 x 37 mm Hotchkiss revolving cannon
Two Gatling Guns
One 3-inch field piece (for landing parties).
Five 14″ torpedo tubes
Armament: (1914)
12 x 6″/40
4 x 6 pounders
180 mines

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They are possibly one of the best sources of naval study, images, and fellowship you can find. http://www.warship.org/membership.htm

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Nationalize the Defense Industry!

In 1969 John Kenneth Galbraith penned a piece for the New York Times titled The Big Defense Firms Are Really Public Firms and Should be Nationalized arguing, among other things, that it was folly for defense contractors to claim that they were private corporations. Such claims made a mockery of free enterprise.

Nearly 40 years hence, Charlie Cray and Lee Drutman have resurrected and energized Galbraith’s argument in their work titled Corporations and the Public Purpose: Restoring the Balance (Seattle Journal for Social Justice, Winter 2005). They make an exceptionally compelling case for putting the defense industrial base (DIB) into the direct service of the American public through a form of nationalization: federal chartering.

“Converting the companies to publicly-controlled, nonprofit status would introduce a key change: it would reduce the entities’ impetus for aggressive lobbying and campaign contributions. Chartering the defense contractors at the federal level would in effect allow Congress to ban such activities outright, thereby controlling an industry that is now a driving force rather than a servant of foreign policy objectives. As public firms, they would certainly continue to participate in the policy fora designed to determine the nation’s national security and defense technology needs, but the profit-driven impetus to control the process in order to best serve corporate shareholders would be eliminated. Thus, by turning defense and security firms into full public corporations, we would replace the criteria by which their performance is judged from quarterly earnings targets to criteria that is more consistent with the national interest.”

If Cray and Lutman’s notion seems radical, it’s only thanks to a fanciful story telling by those who move back and forth through the revolving, and always open, doors of the national security apparatus that link the Department of Defense, the US Congress, and the players who dot the DIB landscape. Apologists for the DIB have always distorted the importance of the defense industry to the nation’s security, particularly after the demise of the Soviet Union. They really believe that their industry should get special recognition for producing the goods and services used to wage war. To sell that concept, they’ve made sure that the difference between contractor and uniformed government employee is completely blurred. With that, it’s impossible to know who is protecting the balance sheet and who is protecting the US Constitution. In short, they’ve sold the public good.

There’s a lot of evidence to show that the DIB is not functioning in the nation’s best interest. Two interesting studies stand out. An April 2005 report by the Government Accounting Office titled Defense Logistics took a hard look at the system that supplies US troops in Iraq and concluded that it needed repair. The pipeline failed to deliver basic supplies, such as MRE rations, in a timely manner. Another from the National Defense University (see below) indicated that defense isn’t reaping broad benefits from information technology. That does not bode well for the push to network centric warfare.

The inability of the Pentagon to account for billions in missing funds here at home and in Iraq, ongoing criminal investigations spread across the entire national security landscape, and sensational resignations, arrests and convictions are unprecedented in US history. There is more here than just a few “bad apples.” It is a systemic problem made worse by the absence of leadership at the highest levels. There is self-interest, to be sure, but that is different from leadership. The American public is rapidly discovering that those running the show in the national security machinery aren’t necessarily interested in what’s best for them or the USA.

Fierce Competition? Show Me the Data!

According to a formula that measures market concentration, the Herfindahl-Hirschman Index, the DIB is not a competitive industry. At a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies panel discussion on the DIB (csis.org), one participant warned that the myth of competition in the DIB might be exposed. “Some federal agencies use this index [Herfindahl-Hirschman Index] to establish guidelines for when you have to start worrying about the absence of competition. Competition is supposed to be a hallmark of the acquisition system that we’ve had since the end of World War II, but with only two big firms–which is the case for some categories of military equipment provided by our industrial base–there is little competition in the traditional sense. In fact, this situation-two firms that divide market share-has a name: duopoly. Not monopoly, but duopoly-and it’s pretty tough to brand duopoly circumstances fierce competition.”

The American public is led to believe that the DIB is unmatched in the broad applications of information technology. Not quite. An astonishing report by the National Defense University titled Bringing Defense into the Information Economy (David Gompert and Paul Bracken–March 2006) indicates that the Pentagon and its minions are still trying to figure out how to get into the information age. “One thing is clear [that] the phenomenon of increasing capability at declining cost now common in retail, financial services, telecommunications and other sectors remains uncommon in defense.” To that, DIB apologists retort that the defense industry is different. But Gompert and Bracken will not buy into the party line.

“Defense is different is a self-fulfilling excuse that perpetuates poor price-performance and deprives national defense of the benefits of larger, faster, more dynamic, and more inventive IT markets. It condones expensive adaptation and integration services. Moreover, by exaggerating the difficulty of applying IT to defense, this hypothesis legitimizes the ceding of government responsibility. It implies that the challenge of managing, adapting, and integrating IT into military capabilities is so daunting for DOD that it must be left to defense contractors”
Profiles in Protecting the Status Quo: The Voice of the DIB

Misconceptions About the Defense Industry (National Defense-July 2006, ndia.org), authored by Larry Farrell, president of the National Defense Industrial Association, is representative of defense industry’s world-view. Farrell, a retired USAF Lieutenant General, doesn’t believe the American people understand the importance of his industry to national security. He thinks that the defense industry needs to get out there and tell its story because “it will be critically important with the coming resource crunch, when the Defense Department will have to justify acquisitions and force structure costs against calls for reallocation of resources to other national needs.” OK, fair enough. But what kind of story will the American public get?

He divines that the first thoughts that come to the public mind when asked about the DIB are $600 toilet seats, $400 hammers (actually they were $450 a piece), war profiteering, Eisenhower’s oft cited military-industrial complex thesis, scandals, and reports critical of the DIB. Naturally, Farrell blames the media for faulty reporting on the $600 toilet seat part and $450 hammers.

The NDIA president takes the reader back to World War I and proclaims that “the only things we took to war [WWI] that were truly American made were the Springfield rifles and our fighting spirits.” Huh?

It is true that US artillery pieces appeared late in the conflict and that the US had to buy aircraft and other weaponry from the British and French. The US Navy fought in WWI, at least according to the US Army and Navy historical offices. In 1916, American-made Navy destroyers, six of them, were escorting British cargo ships to protect the Brits from German submarine attacks. A US Navy Admiral, William Sims, convinced the British Admiralty to change its ship formations to a convoy pattern. In the end, 37 US destroyers participated in the effort significantly reducing cargo losses to the German U-Boats.

American made ships–one produced by Newport News Shipbuilding, the USS Fanning (DD 37)-and the the other by William Cramp & Sons, the USS Nicholson (DD 52), sunk a U-Boat in 1917. And, in quite a feat of industrial production, 1200 American-made M1917 Browning machine guns were used late in WWI.

It’s worth noting an event of latter day that was putting some strain on the US Army in 1916. The US Army had its attention focused on the Mexican border. The American public was more concerned about securing the Mexican border from the likes of Pancho Villa (attack on Columbus, NM killed 25 Americans) than war in Europe. At the height of the Mexican Campaign, some 150,000 national guard troops were deployed along the US and Mexico border with another 8,000 US Army infantry led by General John Pershing.

In the editorial, Farrell attempts mightily to challenge the stigma of war profiteer, but his argument about the tough “allocation of resources” ends in language that is precisely that of a war profiteer hunting for profits in the midst of resource scarcity. This argument-focused as it is on the corporate interest, ignores the lifetime-care costs for the some 18,356 wounded in Afghanistan and Iraq (and, one supposes, hundreds more wounded during Special Operations and intelligence activities all over the globe). The pay raises, increases in housing allowances and medical benefits over the past few years, for those in the military that matter most, are paltry compared with the bonuses, stock options and salary increases received by DIB leaders, and their partners throughout the national security machinery.

Finally, the American public doesn’t hear too much about the Lockheed Martin contracts to upgrade Chinese air traffic control systems. “We Never Forget Who We Work For,” says Lockheed. Boeing recently deployed the Sea Based X-Band radar system that’s floating off the coast of Hawaii. The platform for that technological marvel was built by Vyborg Shipping, a Russian firm. Is it really North Korea the Missile Defense people are interested in, or is it the Russian arsenal?

Will the story defense industry provides be the complete or redacted version?

According to Cray and Drutman, “the growth of private military firms and corporate intelligence contractors in the past decade has created additional profit-making pressures on national security policymaking processes. Interlocking relationships exist between the largest defense contractors and the Pentagon-including corporate representation on key defense planning boards, and the regular passage of Pentagon and industry personnel through the proverbial revolving door that is, to the private sector companies that they formerly oversaw.

The result is a steady stream of abusive contracting practices and a potentially dangerous distortion of American national security objectives. Another result of defense contractors’ influence over Congress and defense policy boards is a long-term commitment to the development of high-tech weapons systems that only specific contractors are able to produce. These weapons systems arguably have little to do with preventing acts of terrorism-one of the nation’s current greatest security concerns.”

The interlocking relationships referred to by Cray and Lutman have led to spectacular levels of corruption. Convictions, resignations, investigations and ethically challenged actions plague the national security machinery. More bad news from the expanding Randy “Duke” Cunningham investigation is likely to further rock the decrepit system.

Some of the more troubling public cases include William H. Swanson, Chairman and CEO of Raytheon, who lifted major portions of his book Unwritten Rules from another author. He was censored and had his paycheck cut by the Raytheon Board of Directors. Randy “Duke” Cunningham, former US Congressman and Chair of the US House Intelligence Subcommittee, is serving an 8.4 year sentence in federal prison for fraud and taking bribes. Jerry Lewis, the Chair of the US House Appropriation Committee, is under investigation by the FBI. Porter Goss, former US Congressman and CIA Director is also the subject of an FBI investigation. In May 2006, Reuters reported that the FBI was investigating allegations that four star USAF Generals Michael Moseley and John Jumper helped to steer a Thunderbird contract (the USAF equivalent of the US Navy’s Blue Angels stunt flying team) to a friend, retired USAF General Hal Hornburg, who once commanded the Thunderbirds.

Cray is also the Director of Corporate Watch (corpwatch.org), an invaluable tool for tracking the activities of the players in the DIB. His group reported on what, perhaps, is one of the more frightening trends for US national security: the commercialization of the uniformed military services to the point where distinguishing between corporate operative and uniformed government employee is impossible.

Corporate Watch reports that, “One of Raytheon’s more secretive subsidiaries is E-Systems, whose major clients have historically been the CIA and other spy agencies like the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office. An unnamed Congressional aide told the Washington Post once that the company was ‘virtually indistinguishable’ from the agencies it serves. Congress will ask for a briefing from E- Systems and the (CIA) program manager shows up, the aide is quoted as saying. ‘Sometimes he gives the briefing. They’re interchangeable.”

What is the US Military? What is being Defended?

Ultimately, the entire national security apparatus is going to have to make some decisions. Is it country before agency? Is it profit before country? Is it the US Congress saying “No” to campaign contributions? P.W. Singer, who monitors the DIB for the Brookings Institution, put the issue into perspective.

“The final dilemma raised by the extensive use of private contractors involves the future of the military itself. The armed services have long seen themselves as engaged in a unique profession, set apart from the rest of civilian society, which they are entrusted with securing. The introduction of private military firms, and their recruiting from within the military itself, challenges that uniqueness and the military professional identity. Its monopoly on certain activities is being encroached on by the regular civilian marketplace.”

On Singer’s latter point, the civilian and active duty US military leadership is aggressively encouraging the commercial marketplace to take on more military functions. That tactic is being pursued not just for cost savings (dubious as those might be), but also to avoid public oversight and the fallout that would come from being accountable for improprieties ranging from over-billing to the developing of torture techniques.

And what about the status of the USA, its people and its infrastructure that the national security apparatus is supposed to be defending? A day may come when there is not much worth fighting for.. The FBI reports that violent crime increased in 2005 to its highest rate in 15 years. The American Society of Civil Engineers says it’ll take almost $2 trillion to repair water systems, roads, schools and electrical grids. Nobel Laureate Joe Stiglitz says the total costs of the current Iraq War will cost another $2 trillion. The Catholic Conference for Human Development indicates that 37 million Americans live in poverty. The US Census Bureau reports that 45 million Americans can’t afford health insurance. On top of that, add a trillion dollars to fully repair hurricane-damaged New Orleans, Louisiana, and cover the costs of neighboring state governments as they absorb hundreds of thousands of displaced Americans from New Orleans. Federal debt, and personal debt is at record levels. The home-front is decaying.

Public good, and the ideals it is based on, must trump private greed. If not, what’s the point of this Republic?


USS Fanning (DD-37) in wartime camouflage - History

USS Spence , a 2050-ton Fletcher class destroyer built at Bath, Maine, was commissioned in January 1943. After a Caribbean shakedown cruise and escort service between the U.S. and North Africa, she went to the South Pacific in mid-year and soon began operations in the Solomon Islands area as part of Destroyer Squadron 23. During late September and October 1943 Spence participated in patrols off Kolombangara and Vella Lavella that destroyed several Japanese barges, and supported the Treasury Islands landings. In connection with the invasion of Bougainville, she conducted shore bombardments at the beginning of November. Spence then took part in the night Battle of Empress Augusta Bay, helping to sink the Japanese destroyer Hatsukaze . She was heavily engaged in combat action during the rest of the month, fighting off enemy air attacks, performing escort and patrol missions, and, on 25 November, taking part in the Battle of Cape St. George, in which three Japanese destroyers were sunk.

Spence remained active in the Solomons area for the rest of 1943 and the first three months of 1944, shelling enemy targets ashore and afloat as the Allied offensive reached northwards. Late in March she shifted to the central Pacific to escort the fast aircraft carriers as they raided the Caroline Islands and covered landings at Hollandia, New Guinea. In June 1944, as part of the Marianas Campaign, Spence bombarded Saipan, Guam, and Rota, as well as escorting the carriers during the Battle of the Philippine Sea. Following an overhaul at San Francisco, California, she went to the western Pacific in early November, escorting Task Force 38's carriers as they delivered air attacks in the Philippines. On 18 December her unit encountered a powerful typhoon. Spence , low on fuel and therefore less stable than normally, suffered electrical and steering casualties, rolled deeply to port, capsized and sank. Just 24 of her crew survived her loss.

This page features all the views we have concerning USS Spence (DD-512).

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

In San Francisco Bay, California, 24 July 1943.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 79KB 740 x 625 pixels

Steaming in Iron Bottom Sound, off Guadalcanal, with her crew manning the rails, 23 March 1944.
Photographed from USS Montpelier (CL-57).
Savo Island is visible in the distance.
Wartime censors retouched this image to delete the fire control radar antenna atop Spence 's Mark 37 gun director.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 74KB 740 x 610 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

In San Francisco Bay, California, circa early October 1944.
The ship is wearing Camouflage Measure 31, Design 2c.
Wartime censors retouched this image to delete the radar antennas atop the Spence 's gun director and foremast.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval History and Heritage Command.

Online Image: 69KB 740 x 510 pixels

Naval Operating Base, Norfolk, Virginia

Destroyers alongside one of the base's piers, during the spring or early summer of 1943.
They are (from left to right):
USS Edison (DD-439)
USS Schroeder (DD-501)
USS Spence (DD-512) and
USS Foote (DD-511).
Photographed by Kerlee.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 96KB 740 x 505 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Captain Arleigh A. Burke, USN ,
Commander Destroyer Squadron 23 (seated, right center)

With other officers of the squadron, during operations in the Solomon Islands, circa 1943.
Those present are (seated, left to right):
Commander Luther K. Reynolds, Commanding Officer, USS Charles Ausburne (DD-570)
Commander R.W. Cavenaugh
Captain Burke and
Commander R.A. Gano, Commanding Officer, USS Dyson (DD-572).
(standing, left to right):
Commander Henry J. Armstrong, Commanding Officer, USS Spence (DD-512)
Lieutenant J.W. Bobb
Commander J.B. Morland and
Commander J.B. Calwell.
All but Cdr. Gano and Capt. Burke have autographed the original print.

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN.

U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

Online Image: 119KB 740 x 605 pixels

Officers of the squadron enjoy a beer at "Cloob Des-Slot", Purvis Bay, Solomon Islands, on 24 May 1944.
Those present are (from left to right):
Commander R.A. Gano, Commanding Officer, USS Dyson (DD-572)
Commander Luther K. Reynolds, Commanding Officer, USS Charles Ausburne (DD-570)
Captain Arleigh A. Burke, Squadron Commodore
Commander B.L. Austin, Commander Destroyer Division 46
Commander D.C. Hamberger, Commanding Officer, USS Converse (DD-509)
Commander Herald Stout, Commanding Officer, USS Claxton (DD-571) and
Commander Henry J. Armstrong, Commanding Officer, USS Spence (DD-512).

Courtesy of the Naval Historical Foundation. Collection of Admiral Arleigh A. Burke, USN.


" Regards de photographes de Guerre"

Based in Queenstown, Ireland, USS Fanning and her sister destroyer USS Nicholson patrolled the eastern waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Their mission was to escort convoys and rescue survivors of sunken merchant ships as well as to seek out and destroy German U-boats.

While escorting the eight vessel convoy OQ-20 eastbound, the two destroyers made contact with an enemy submarine.

With Arthur S. Carpender commanding, at 4:110 on 17 November 1917, Coxswain Daniel David Loomis of the Fanning sighted U-58,

commanded by Kapitänleutnant Gustav Amberger, when the U-boat had surfaced to extend her periscope.

The German submarine lined up for a shot at the Britishmerchant steamer SS Welshman and almost immediately Officer of the Deck

Lieutenant William O. Henry ordered the destroyer to make circles and engage.

At 4:00 Fanning dropped three depth charges, scoring a hit which shook up the U-boat well.

Then USS Nicholson joined in the fighting, commanded by Frank Berrien, and dropped another depth charge herself.

The Americans spotted U-58 when it surfaced, and Fanning fired three shots with her stern gun.

Nicholson struck the U-boat with at least one shot from her bow gun.

The Germans unsuccessfully returned fire and surrendered at around 4:30.

American fire had hit the submarine near its diving planes, making the ship unmaneuverable.

Kapitänleutnant Amberger ordered the ballast tanks blown and the submarine went up.

Charges also knocked out the main generator aboard the Fanning.

If U-58 had surfaced in a battle ready position, Fanning would have surely been attacked and possibly sunk.

The German submariners surrendered and Fanning maneuvered to take prisoners.

That ended the action with an American victory.

The Fanning and Nicholson's sinking of U-58 was one of only a few engagements of World War I

in which U.S. Navy warships sank an enemy submarine. Also the first time U.S. ships sank a submarine in combat. Lieutenant William O. Henry and Coxswain Daniel Lommis both received a Navy Cross for their actions during their encounter with U-58.

Fanning and Nicholson continued the war escorting and patrolling the North Atlantic, making several more inconclusive contacts with German submarines.

Thirty-eight of the 40 crew members of the U-58 survived to become prisoners of war in the United States.

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Newspaper clipping from The Tucumcari News dated February 14 1918.

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Newspaper clipping from The Bismarck Tribune dated January 2 1918.

USS Fanning

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USS Fanning (DD-37) taking prisoners aboard

from the submarine U-58 which is alongside on November 17, 1917.

Source: Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

USS Nicholson

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Rickard, J (11 February 2017), USS Nicholson (DD-52) under way, 1918

USS Fanning

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Photo prisonniers on USS Fanning

Rickard, J (30 January 2017), Prisoners from U-58 on USS Fanning (DD-37) ,

USS Fanning

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Undated, crew of USS Fanning (DD-37) which sank German submarine, U-58, on November 17 1917. The star on the stack indicates 1 victim.


USS Fanning (DD-37) in wartime camouflage - History

USS Stephen Potter , a 2050-ton Fletcher class destroyer built at San Francisco, California, was commissioned in October 1943. She reached the Pacific war zone in time to serve as an escort for Task Force 58 aircraft carriers during the Marshall Islands operation of late January and February 1944. She continued in this role during raids in the central Pacific in April and May. On 29 April, as Task Force 58's planes were attacking Truk, Stephen Potter assisted in sinking the Japanese submarine I-174 . The destroyer's next combat took place during the June and July Marianas campaign. She again screened carriers as they hit targets on Saipan and Guam, as well as the Bonins, Palaus and Carolines, and also participated in the Battle of the Philippine Sea.

In September and October 1944 Stephen Potter escorted carrier task forces during attacks on Japanese positions in the Philippines, Ryukyus and Formosa. On 13-20 October she helped protect the torpedoed cruisers Houston and Canberra as they were slowly towed to safety. During the last two months of 1944 and the first three months of 1945, Stephen Potter 's task group continued its raids, striking the Philippines, Formosa, Okinawa, Indochina, China, and the Japanese Home Islands. In April and May her carriers participated in the bloody battle to capture Okinawa. She returned to the U.S. West Coast for overhaul in July and was still there when Japan's mid-August 1945 capitulation ended the Pacific War's fighting.

Stephen Potter was decommissioned in September 1945 and laid up at Long Beach, California. She returned to active duty in late March 1951, as part of the expansion of the Navy brought on by the Korean War. Beginning in July of that year she operated with the Atlantic Fleet, but returned to the Pacific in 1953 for service off Korea during the final few months of the conflict there. During early 1955 Stephen Potter made a cruise to northern Europe, and in 1956 she had another Far Eastern tour of duty. Again decommissioned in June 1958, USS Stephen Potter was part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet until stricken from the Naval Vessel Register at the beginning of December 1972. She was sold in late November 1973.

This page features all the views we have concerning USS Stephen Potter (DD-538).

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, circa the latter part of 1943.
This photograph has been crudely retouched by wartime censors to remove radar antennas atop her foremast and Mark 37 gun director.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 56KB 740 x 515 pixels

Underway in the central Pacific, 2 May 1944, while participating in raids on Japanese bases. Other warships, among them an Iowa class battleship and an Essex class aircraft carrier, are in the distance.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 82KB 740 x 615 pixels

En route to the Philippines, circa January 1945.
USS Stephen Potter (DD-538) is in the right center, closest to the camera. Aircraft carrier at left is USS Enterprise (CV-6).
Photographed from USS New Jersey (BB-62) by Lieutenant Commander Charles Fenno Jacobs, USNR.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 128KB 660 x 675 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

En route to the Philippines, circa January 1945.
USS Stephen Potter (DD-538) is partially visible in the left foreground. Aircraft carrier at right is USS Enterprise (CV-6). The light cruiser wearing design 24D camouflage (in the left distance) is probably USS Pasadena (CL-65).
Photographed from USS New Jersey (BB-62) by Lieutenant Commander Charles Fenno Jacobs, USNR.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Online Image: 148KB 740 x 630 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Off the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 26 August 1945.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 80KB 740 x 625 pixels

At the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 26 August 1945.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 61KB 740 x 625 pixels

At the Mare Island Navy Yard, California, 26 August 1945.

Official U.S. Navy Photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center.

Online Image: 87KB 740 x 620 pixels

Jacket patch of an insignia used by the ship in 1957.

Courtesy of Captain G.F. Swainson, USN, 1974.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

Online Image: 198KB 650 x 675 pixels

In addition to the images presented above, the National Archives appears to hold several other views of USS Stephen Potter (DD-538). The following list features some of these images:

The images listed below are NOT in the Naval Historical Center's collections.
DO NOT try to obtain them using the procedures described in our page "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions".

Reproductions of these images should be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system for pictures not held by the Naval Historical Center.


During its passage from Devonport to Hong Kong during World War One, the troopship SS 'Tyndareus' was due to put in at Table Bay, South Africa,

for fuel and fresh provisions.

However, on 6 February 1917 while rounding Cape Agulhas, some 108 miles (173 km) south-east of Cape Town, the 11,000-ton troopship struck

a mine laid by the German raider 'Wolf', with a terrific explosion.

The ship rapidly began to fill with water and started going down by the head.

The painting illustrates the moments on deck when, instead of panicking, all the men of 25th (Garrison) Battalion Middlesex Regiment

obeyed the command of the CO, Lieutenant-Colonel John Ward MP, to draw up on parade.

This orderly response enabled boats to be lowered without mishap and, with other assistance, all those on board were saved.

King George V sent a message of approval which read:

'Please express to the officers commanding the Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment my admiration of the conduct displayed by all ranks on the occasion of the accident to the Tyndareus.

In their discipline and courage they worthily upheld the splendid tradition of the Birkenhead, ever cherished in the annals of the British Army.'

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French ship Maréchal Davout sunk with 3,500 tons of wheat MID

Source of Photograph: National Archives RG 111

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USS Jacob Jones sinking off the Scilly Islands, England, on 6 December 1917,

after she was torpedoed by the German submarine U-53.

Photographed by Seaman William G. Ellis.

Smithsonian Institution Photograph.

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German U-boat [U-58] sunk by USS Fanning [DD-37] Nov. 17, 1917

Source of Photograph: National Archives, RG-165, Navy - Submarines &ndash German

Based in Queenstown, Ireland, USS Fanning and her sister destroyer USS Nicholson patrolled the eastern waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

Their mission was to escort convoys and rescue survivors of sunken merchant ships as well as to seek out and destroy German U-boats.

While escorting the eight vessel convoy OQ-20 eastbound, the two destroyers made contact with an enemy submarine.

With Arthur S. Carpender commanding, at 4:110 on 17 November 1917, Coxswain Daniel David Loomis of the Fanning sighted U-58,

commanded by Kapitänleutnant Gustav Amberger, when the U-boat had surfaced to extend her periscope.

The German submarine lined up for a shot at the Britishmerchant steamer SS Welshman and almost immediately Officer of the Deck

Lieutenant William O. Henry ordered the destroyer to make circles and engage.

At 4:00 Fanning dropped three depth charges, scoring a hit which shook up the U-boat well.

Then USS Nicholson joined in the fighting, commanded by Frank Berrien, and dropped another depth charge herself.

The Americans spotted U-58 when it surfaced, and Fanning fired three shots with her stern gun.

Nicholson struck the U-boat with at least one shot from her bow gun.

The Germans unsuccessfully returned fire and surrendered at around 4:30.

American fire had hit the submarine near its diving planes, making the ship unmaneuverable.

Kapitänleutnant Amberger ordered the ballast tanks blown and the submarine went up.

Charges also knocked out the main generator aboard the Fanning.

If U-58 had surfaced in a battle ready position, Fanning would have surely been attacked and possibly sunk.

The German submariners surrendered and Fanning maneuvered to take prisoners.

That ended the action with an American victory.

The Fanning and Nicholson's sinking of U-58 was one of only a few engagements of World War I

in which U.S. Navy warships sank an enemy submarine. Also the first time U.S. ships sank a submarine in combat. Lieutenant William O. Henry and Coxswain Daniel Lommis both received a Navy Cross for their actions during their encounter with U-58.

Fanning and Nicholson continued the war escorting and patrolling the North Atlantic, making several more inconclusive contacts with German submarines.

Thirty-eight of the 40 crew members of the U-58 survived to become prisoners of war in the United States.

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Sinking of British ships, HOGUE and ABOUKIR.

Ships sunk by the noted German raider U-9, commanded by Capt. Weddingen, with inset photo of Capt. Lt. Otto Eduard Weddingen, 1880-1915.

George Grantham Bain Collection

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

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Sinking of British ship, Irresistible.

Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C

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Stokers on the British ship Bulwark - all lost when the ship blew up Nov. 26, 1914

From the beginning of the First World War in August 1914,

Bulwark and the 5th Battle Squadron, assigned to the Channel Fleet and based at Portland

upon the outbreak of war, carried out numerous patrols in the English Channel

under the command of Captain Guy Sclater.

A powerful internal explosion ripped Bulwark apart at 07:50 on 26 November 1914

while she was moored at Number 17 buoy in Kethole Reach,

4 nmi (4.6 mi 7.4 km) west of Sheerness in the estuary of the River Medway.

Out of her complement of 750, no officers and only 14 sailors survived, two of whom subsequently died of their injuries in hospital. [from Wikipedia]

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HMS Audacious is reported to have been sunk by a German submarine.

Later it was determine that the Audacious ran upon a mine

laid by the German auxiliary minelayer Berlin off Tory Island.

The explosion occurred 16 feet (4.9 m) under the bottom of the ship, approximately 10 feet (3.0 m) forward of the transverse bulkhead at the rear of the port engine room.

The port engine room, machine room,

X turret shell room and compartments below them flooded immediately,

with water spreading more slowly to the central engine room and adjoining spaces.

Photo Source: The Technical World magazine, Vol 21, 1914.

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British rescuing survivors of the Gneisenau of the German Far East squadron

after being sunk off the Falkland Is.,

Source: 'Great War' by John Allen

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October 13, 2016, marks the Two Hundred Forty-First birthday of the United States Navy. I have compiled a history of the Navy from its inception through the present. The entire document comprises over eleven thousand words and twenty pages. This is the third of four installments culminating in the final posting on October 13.

Compiled and Authored by: Garland Davis

Spanish–American War (1898)

The United States was interested in purchasing colonies from Spain, specifically Cuba, but Spain refused. Newspapers wrote stories, many which were fabricated, about atrocities committed in Spanish colonies which raised tensions between the two countries. A riot gave the United States an excuse to send USS Maine to Cuba, and the subsequent explosion of Maine in Havana increased popular support for war with Spain. The cause of the explosion was investigated by a board of inquiry, which in March 1898 came to the conclusion the explosion was caused by a sea mine, and there was pressure from the public to blame Spain for sinking the ship. However, later investigations pointed to an internal explosion in one of the magazines caused by heat from a fire in the adjacent coal bunker

Assistant Navy secretary Theodore Roosevelt quietly positioned the Navy for attack before the Spanish–American War was declared in April 1898. The Asiatic Squadron, under the command of George Dewey, immediately left Hong Kong for the Philippines, attacking and decisively defeating the Spanish fleet in the Battle of Manila Bay. A few weeks later, the North Atlantic Squadron destroyed the majority of heavy Spanish naval units in the Caribbean in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba.

The Navy’s experience in this war was both encouraging, in that it had won, and cautionary, in that the enemy had one of the weakest of the worlds’ modern fleets, and that the Manila Bay attack was extremely risky if the American ships had been severely damaged or had run out of supplies, they were 7,000 miles from the nearest American harbor. This realization would have a profound effect on Navy strategy, and, indeed, American foreign policy, in the next several decades.

Rise of the Modern Navy (1898–1914)[edit]

Fortunately for the New Navy, its most ardent political supporter, Theodore Roosevelt, became President in 1901. Under his administration, the Navy went from the sixth largest in the world to second only to the Royal Navy. Theodore Roosevelt’s administration became involved in the politics of the Caribbean and Central America, with interventions in 1901, 1902, 1903, and 1906. At a speech in 1901, Roosevelt said, “Speak softly and carry a big stick, you will go far”, which was a cornerstone of diplomacy during his presidency.

Roosevelt believed that a U.S.-controlled canal across Central America was a vital strategic interest to the U.S. Navy because it would significantly shorten travel times for ships between the two coasts. Roosevelt was able to reverse a decision in favor of a Nicaraguan Canal and instead moved to purchase the failed French effort across the Isthmus of Panama. The isthmus was controlled by Columbia, and in early 1903, the Hay-Herran Treaty was signed by both nations to give control of the canal to the United States. After the Colombian Senate failed to ratify the treaty, Roosevelt implied to Panamanian rebels that if they revolted, the US Navy would assist their cause for independence. Panama proceeded to proclaim its independence on 3 November 1903, and USS Nashville impeded any interference from Colombia. The victorious Panamanians allowed the United States control of the Panama Canal Zone on 23 February 1904, for ten million dollars. The naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba was built in 1905 to protect the canal.

The latest technological innovation of the time, submarines, were developed in the state of New Jersey by an Irish-American inventor, John Philip Holland. His submarine, USS Holland was officially commissioned into U.S. Navy service in the fall of 1900. The Russo-Japanese War of 1905 and the launching of HMS Dreadnaught in the following year lent impetus to the construction program. At the end of 1907, Roosevelt had sixteen new battleships to make up his “Great White Fleet”, which he sent on a cruise around the world. While nominally peaceful, and a valuable training exercise for the rapidly expanding Navy, it was also useful politically as a demonstration of United States power and capabilities at every port, the politicians and naval officers of both potential allies and enemies were welcomed on board and given tours. The cruise had the desired effect, and American power was subsequently taken more seriously.

The voyage taught the Navy more fueling stations were needed around the world, and the strategic potential of the Panama Canal, which was completed in 1914. The Great White Fleet required almost 50 coaling ships, and during the cruise, most of the fleet’s coal was purchased from the British, who could deny access to fuel during a military crisis as they did with Russia during the Russo-Japanese War.

World War I (1914–1918)

When United States agents discovered that the German merchant ship Ypiranga was carrying illegal arms to Mexico, President Wilson ordered the Navy to stop the ship from docking at the port of Veracruz. On 21 April 1914, a naval brigade of Marines and Sailors occupied Veracruz. A total of 55 Medals of Honor were awarded for acts of heroism at Veracruz, the largest number ever granted for a single action.

Preparing for war 1914-1917]

Despite U.S. declarations of neutrality and German accountability for its unrestricted submarine warfare, in 1915 the British passenger liner Lusitania was sunk, leading to calls for war. President Wilson forced the Germans to suspend unrestricted submarine warfare and after long debate Congress passes the Naval act of 19116 that authorized a $500 million construction program over three years for 10 battleships, 6 battlecruisers, 10 scout cruisers, 50 destroyers and 67 submarines. The idea was a balanced fleet, but in the event, destroyers were much more important, because they had to handle U-boats and convoys. By the end of the war 273 destroyers had been ordered most were finished after World War I ended but many served in World War II. There were few war plans beyond the defense of the main American harbors.

Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels, a pacifistic journalist, had built up the educational resources of the Navy and made its Naval War College an essential experience for would-be admirals. However, he alienated the officer corps with his moralistic reforms, (no wine in the officers’ mess, no hazing at Annapolis, more chaplains, and YMCAs). Ignoring the nation’s strategic needs, and disdaining the advice of its experts, Daniels suspended meetings of the Joint Army and Navy Board for two years because it was giving unwelcome advice. He chopped in half the General Board’s recommendations for new ships, reduced the authority of officers in the Navy yards where ships were built and repaired, and ignored the administrative chaos in his department. Bradley Fiske, one of the most innovative admirals in American naval history, in 1914 was Daniels’ top aide he recommended a reorganization that would prepare for war, but Daniels refused. Instead, he replaced Fiske in 1915 and brought in for the new post of Chief of Naval Operations an unknown captain, William S. Benson. Chosen for his compliance, Benson proved a wily bureaucrat who was more interested in preparing for an eventual showdown with Britain than an immediate one with Germany.

In 1915 Daniels set up the Naval Consulting Board headed by Thomas Edison to obtain the advice and expertise of leading scientists, engineers, and industrialists. It popularized technology, naval expansion, and military preparedness, and was well covered in the media. Daniels and Benson rejected proposals to send observers to Europe, leaving the Navy in the dark about the success of the German submarine campaign. Admiral William Sims charged after the war that in April 1917, only ten percent of the Navy’s warships were fully manned the rest lacked 43% of their seamen. Only a third of the ships were fully ready. Light antisubmarine ships were few in number as if no one had noticed the U-boat factor that had been the focus of foreign policy for two years. The Navy’s only warfighting plan, the “Black Plan” assumed the Royal Navy did not exist and that German battleships were moving freely about the Atlantic and the Caribbean and threatening the Panama Canal. His most recent biographer concludes that “it is true that Daniels had not prepared the navy for the war it would have to fight.”

Fighting a world war, 1917–1918

America entered the war in April 1917 and the Navy’s role was mostly limited to convoy escort and troop transport and the laying of a minefield across the North Sea. The United States Navy sent a battleship group to Scapa Flow to join with the British Grand Fleet, destroyers to Queenstown, Ireland, and submarines to help guard convoys. Several regiments of Marines were also dispatched to France. The first victory for the Navy in the war occurred on 17 November 1917 when USS Fanning and USS Nicholson sank the German U-boat U-58. During World War I, the Navy was the first branch of the United States armed forces to allow enlistment by women in a non-nursing capacity, as Yeoman(F). The first woman to enlist in the U.S. Navy was Loretta P. Walsh on 17 March 1917.

The Navy’s vast wartime expansion was overseen by civilian officials, especially Assistant Secretary Franklin D. Roosevelt. In peacetime, the Navy confined all munitions that lacked civilian uses, including warships, naval guns, and shells to Navy yards. The Navy yards expanded enormously and subcontracted the shells and explosives to chemical companies like DuPont and Hercules. Items available on the civilian market, such as food and uniforms were always purchased from civilian contractors. Armor plate and airplanes were purchased on the market. ]

Inter-war entrenchment and expansion (1918–1941)

At the end of World War I, the United States Navy had almost 500,000 officers and enlisted men and women and in terms of personnel was the largest in the world. Younger officers were enthusiastic about the potential of land-based naval aviation as well as the potential roles of aircraft carriers. Chief of Naval Operations Benson was not among them. He tried to abolish aviation in 1919 because he could not “conceive of any use the fleet will ever have for aviation.” However, Roosevelt listened to the visionaries and reversed Benson’s decision.

After a short period of demobilization, the major naval nations of the globe began programs for increasing the size and number of their capital ships. Wilson’s plan for a world-leading set of capital ships led to a Japanese counter-program, and a plan by the British to build sufficient ships to maintain a navy superior to either. American isolationist feeling and the economic concerns of the others led to the Washington Naval Conference of 1921. The outcome of the conference included the Washington Naval Treaty (also known as the Five-Power treaty), and limitations on the use of submarines The treaty recognized the U.S. Navy as being equal to the Royal Navy with 525,000 tons of capital ships and 135,000 tons of aircraft carriers, and the Japanese as the third power. Many older ships were scrapped by the five nations to meet the treaty limitations, and new building of capital ships was limited.

One consequence was to encourage the development of light cruisers and aircraft carriers. The United States’ first carrier, a converted collier named USS Langley was commissioned in 1922, and soon joined by USS Lexington and USS Saratoga, which had been designed as battlecruisers until the treaty forbade it. Organizationally, the Bureau of Aeronautics was formed in 1921 naval aviators would become referred to as members of the United States Naval Air Corps.

Army airman Billy Mitchell challenged the Navy by trying to demonstrate that warships could be destroyed by land-based bombers. He destroyed his career in 1925 by publicly attacking senior leaders in the Army and Navy for incompetence for their “almost treasonable administration of the national defense.”

The Vinson-Trammell Act of 1934 set up a regular program of shipbuilding and modernization to bring the Navy to the maximum size allowed by treaty. The Navy’s preparation was helped along by another Navy assistant secretary turned president, Franklin D Roosevelt . The naval limitation treaties also applied to bases, but Congress only approved building seaplane bases on Wake Island, Midway Island, and Dutch Harbor and rejected any additional funds for bases on Guam and in the Philippines. Navy ships were designed with greater endurance and range which allowed them to operate further from bases and between refits.

The Navy had a presence in the Far East with a naval base in the US-owned Philippines and river gunboats in China on the Yangtze River. The gunboat USS Panay was bombed and machine-gunned by Japanese airplanes. Washington quickly accepted Japan’s apologies and compensation.

African-Americans were enlisted during World War I, but this was halted in 1919 and they were mustered out of the Navy. Starting in the 1930s a few were recruited to serve as stewards in the officers’ mess. African-Americans were recruited in larger numbers only after Roosevelt insisted in 1942.

The Naval Act of 1936 authorized the first new battleship since 1921, and USS North Carolina was laid down in October 1937. The Second Vinson Act authorized a 20% increase in the size of the Navy, and in June 1940 the Two Ocean Navy Act authorized an 11% expansion in the Navy. Chief of Naval Operations, Harold Rainsford Stark asked for another 70% increase, amounting to about 200 additional ships, which was authorized by Congress in less than a month. In September 1940, the Destroyers for Bases Agreement gave Britain much-needed destroyers—of WWI vintage—in exchange for United States use of British bases.

In 1941, the Atlantic Fleet was reactivated. The Navy’s first shot in anger came on 9 April when the destroyer USS Niblack dropped depth charges on a U-boat detected while Niblack was rescuing survivors from a torpedoed Dutch freighter. In October, the destroyers Kearny and Reuben James were torpedoed, and Reuben James was lost.

Submarines were the “silent service”—in terms of operating characteristics and the closed-mouth preferences of the submariners. Strategists had, however, been looking into this new type of warship, influenced in large part by Germany’s nearly successful U-boat campaign. As early as 1912, Lieutenant Chester Nimitz had argued for long-range submarines to accompany the fleet to scout the enemy’s location. The new head of the Submarine Section in 1919 was Captain Thomas Hart, who argued that submarines could win the next war: “There is no quicker or more effective method of defeating Japan than the cutting of her sea communications.” However Hart was astonished to discover how backward American submarines were compared to captured German U-boats, and how unready they were for their mission. The public supported submarines for their coastal protection mission they would presumably intercept enemy fleets approaching San Francisco or New York. The Navy realized it was a mission that isolationists in Congress would fund, but it was not actually serious. Old-line admirals said the mission of the subs ought to be as eyes of the battle fleet, and as assistants in battle. That was unfeasible since even on the surface submarines could not move faster than 20 knots, far slower than the 30 knot main warships. The young commanders were organized into a “Submarine Officers’ Conference” in 1926. They argued they were best suited for the commerce raiding that had been the forte of the U-boats. They, therefore, redesigned their new boats along German lines and added the new requirement that they be capable of sailing alone for 7,500 miles on a 75-day mission. Unrestricted submarine warfare had led to war with Germany in 1917 and was still vigorously condemned both by public opinion and by treaties, including the London Treaty of 1930. Nevertheless, the submariners planned a role in unrestricted warfare against Japanese merchant ships, transports, and oil tankers. The Navy kept its plans secret from civilians. It was an admiral, not President Roosevelt, who within hours of the Pearl Harbor attack, ordered unrestricted warfare against any enemy ship anywhere in the Pacific.

The submariners had won over Navy strategists, but their equipment was not yet capable of handling their secret mission. The challenge of designing appropriate new boats became a high priority by 1934 and was solved in 1936 as the first new long-range, all welded submarines were launched. Even better were the S-class Salmon class (launched in 1937), and its successors the T-class or Tambor submarines of 1939 and the Gato class of 1940. The new models cost about $5–6 million each. At 300 feet in length and 1500 tons, they were twice as big as the German U-boats, but still highly maneuverable. In only 35 seconds they could crash dive to 60 feet. The superb Mark 3 TDC Torpedo Data Computer (an analog computer) took data from periscope or sonar readings on the target’s bearing, range and angle on the bow, and continuously set the course and proper gyroscope angle for a salvo of torpedoes until the moment of firing. Six forward tubes and 4 aft were ready for the 24 Mk-14 “fish” the subs carried. Cruising on the surface at 20 knots (using 4 diesel engines) or maneuvering underwater at 8-10 knots (using battery-powered electric motors) they could circle around slow-moving merchant ships. New steels and welding techniques strengthened the hull, enabling the subs to dive as deep as 400 feet in order to avoid depth charges. Expecting long cruises the 65 crewmen enjoyed good living conditions, complete with frozen steaks and air conditioning to handle the hot waters of the Pacific. The new subs could remain at sea for 75 days, and cover 10,000 miles, without resupply. The submariners thought they were ready—but they had two hidden flaws. The penny-pinching atmosphere of the 1930s produced hyper-cautious commanders and defective torpedoes. Both would have to be replaced in World War II.


Watch the video: USS Fanning and the U-58 (January 2022).