Category Archives: Air and Naval Weapons

Scrap Metal Thieves in the 10,000 Ton Range

The glorious story of the fourth ship to bear the name HMS Exeter came to an end twice — in 1942, when she went to the bottom off the Dutch East Indies with fifty men of her crew, and the survivors went into Japanese captivity (where over 150 more would be slaughtered); and again in 2016, when her wreck and war grave, rediscovered in 2008, was found to have been completely plundered by Asian metal thieves.

Exeter was not the only ship to be erased from the seabed. British destroyers HMS Electra and Encounter, Royal Dutch HMNLS De Ruyter and HMNLS Java sunk in the same battle are gone as well (although some bits of Electra remain). HMNLS Kortenaer is partly gone. The US Submarine Perch sunk in an unrelated action is gone, but is not a war grave (her whole crew escaped the fire of sinking into the frying pan of Japanese captivity); along with the two cruisers sunk at the follow-on Battle of the Sunda Strait, HMAS Perth and USS Houston, war graves for over 300 Australians and Americans respectively, which were determined by surveys in 2013 and 2015 to have been invaded and partly stripped by scrappers.

While the British losses at the Battle of the Java Sea were not trivial, the Dutch lost over 900 seamen in the battle, including the Netherlands’ last great admiral, Karel Doorman. It was a Dutch expedition to place a plaque in memory of Doorman and his men that first discovered that the ships were not there. There’s no question of a navigational error, as the indentations where the ships used to be are still there.

dutch-outrageThe Dutch, as you might imagine, are fit to be tied. (See front page at left: “Puzzle in the Java Sea,” with an artists’ rendering of the now-missing Dutch ships as of 2008).

The Indonesian response has been flippant. Indonesian Navy Spokesman Gig Jonias Mozes Sipasulta suggested that it’s the Netherlands’ own fault for not requesting that the Indonesians guard the location.

The Netherlands, the former colonial power, is little loved in Indonesia, and the majority mohammedan population does not respect the graves of infidels.

The only remaining question, at this point: were the thieves Indonesian, Chinese, or Indonesians and Chinese working together?

Exeter may be the most historic of these lost ships. She was a proud ship. Built in the 1920s under the strictures of the naval disarmament treaties of the era, the 8,400 ton cruiser was the second and last of the York class and sufficiently different from York as to be readily distinguished. In order to meet the weight strictures of the Washington and London Naval Treaties, York and Exeter dispensed with belt armor, reducing weight but increasing tophamper and rendering the ships vulnerable in a fight with peer or larger units. (It was Exeter’s fate in WWII to get into such fights).

Battle of the River Plate

Exeter was one of the three cruisers that harried DKM Graf Spee into this harbor off Montevideo, Uruguay and caused, ultimately, the scuttling of the vessel and suicide of her captain.

Exeter, the best armed and armored of the three ships opposing Graf Spee (The others were HMS Ajax and HMNZS Achilles) went toe-to-toe with the German battlecruiser and paid the price.

Exeter took a considerable beating, as seen here. German day gunnery was thought to be the best in the world, and the 100-plus hits Exeter took in barely 20 minutes proved that conventional opinion was valid. But a couple of hits from Exeter drove Graf Spee into harbor to make repairs. Believing he was bottled up — an erroneous belief, as Exeter had already decamped for the Falklands and hasty repairs of its own — the German captain, Hans Langdorff, scuttled the ship and then shot himself.


Graf Spee remains on the bottom of the Rio Plata. Why? Uruguay and Argentina, the adjacent countries, are civilized. Indonesia? Not so much.

Battle of the Java Sea & 2nd Battle of the Java Sea

In 1941, Exeter transited the Panama Canal enroute to her new station in the Far East.


After the Sino-Japanese war that had been percolating for years broke out into general warfare after the Japanese  became one of the ill-fated multinational ABDA (American, British, Dutch, Australian) squadron in the southwest Pacific. Exeter fought a number of actions against Japanese ships and aircraft (see below), before the Battle of the Java Sea on 27 February 1942.

In the Battle of the Java Sea, the ABDA force sortied from Surabaya on the Dutch (now Indonesian) island of Java to intercept a Japanese landing force, under the command of Admiral Doorman. The Japanese force was screened by the IJN’s surface combatants, at that stage of the war probably the best in the world, man-for-man and ship-for-ship.

The ABDA force comprised 9 cruisers, including USS Houston and  Marblehead;  HMAS Hobart; HMS Exeter, Jupiter, and Express; and Dutch DeRuyter, Java, and Piethien.  

exeter-sinks-1-mar-42Exeter was again ordered to seek repairs. She buried 14 dead at sea, and was provided with two escorting destroyers, HMS Encounter and USS Pope, and set course for Surabaya. After hasty repairs to Exeter, the same three ships headed for the Royal Navy’s docks in Ceylon, but nine Japanese warships caught up to the squadron on 1 March 42 and sent them all to the bottom. (This is called, by historians, the 2nd Battle of the Java Sea). Most of the crewmen survived, with Exeter taking the most casualties — 52, fewer than she lost at the River Plate. This photo was taken from a Japanese aircraft.


The ships were found in 2007 by a US/Australian and identified in 2008, and wreck archaeologists were only beginning to study the wrecks to shed light on the 1942 battles. One of the then-living HMS Exeter survivors, Fred Aindow, then 88, remembered of his station in a gun turret:

We were firing until the last moment,” he said. “I think we were the last to stop. Then it was over the side and I hung on to an oar for an hour until I was picked up. The next three years were sheer hell.

It’s great news that they’ve found Exeter. I’d like to dive down myself and get my shoes from my locker that I had only just bought.

Another, Tom Jowett, a spokesman for the Survivors’ Association:

This is great news but it is important now to make sure the wreck is properly respected.

That didn’t happen. The UK MOD, seeking to protect the ships’ locations as grave sites, shared the closely-held location with Indonesian officials, which is now looking like a rather large error and a Judas-and-Brutus level betrayal by the Indonesians.

As the ship went down, her surviving company, afloat in the water, sent up three cheers.


For the survivors, Japanese captivity killed three times the men that the sinking of their ships had done. It didn’t start off that way; Japanese captains including Shunsaku Kudo of the destroyer IJN Ikazuchi hazarded their own ships to rescue survivors; Kudo took 442 on board his own ship. But once the prisoners were transferred from the relatively cosmopolitan and chivalric Navy to the custody of the barbarous Japanese Army ashore, they were badly abused.

USS Pope’s XO, Dick Antrim, was awarded the Medal of Honor for a selfless act of heroism during captivity: as the Japanese were beating another prisoner to death, Antrim demanded that they punish him instead. The Japanese were astonished by this act, and ceased the beating, and generally seemed to respect the Americans more and abuse them less after this. Antrim is buried in Arlington… where the Indonesians can’t get to him!


The Daily Express:

The Telegraph (destruction & desecration):

The Telegraph (original discovery, survivor quotes):

WWII Today (excellent long quote from surviving Exeter officer Lt. Cmdr. George Cooper).

Reuters (Dutch irritation over missing ships, Indonesian Navy flippant comment):

Japan Probe (story of Captain Kudo and the Itazuki. Kudo survived the war, but his ship and most of the crew were lost later).

Heroism of Dick Antrim:


Another Gobsmacking Navy Shortfall: Ammunition

USS Zumwalt, fitting out in October, 2013.

USS Zumwalt, fitting out in Bath, Maine; October, 2013.

There are problems with making great conceptual leaps across technological chasms, the Navy is finding out (again). Problem #1: if you fall short, it’s a long way down. (Down to where? Davy Jones’s locker? Maybe). Problem #2: the incumbent Pentagon overhead, obsessed with race/sex/class and social engineering, hasn’t laid on some simple things, like weapons and ammunition.

We’ve already discussed the near-worthless Littoral Combat Ships, where the navy doubled costs by splitting the all-but-unarmed class of ships baby between two designs, and thus never provided effective anti-ship, -shore, -sub, -mine or -air sensor and weapons suites. As a result, they are buying a fleet of ships incapable of any mission but “presence” — to wit, showing the flag.

At the same time, the LCS (despite its staggering cost) was supposed to be the low end of a low-hi mix in which the “hi” was going to be provided by a powerful new class of destroyers, stealthy, creeping up towards light cruiser displacement, and bristling with capital ship armament.

160421-N-YE579-005 ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 21, 2016) The future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) transits the Atlantic Ocean during acceptance trials April 21, 2016 with the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of DDG 1000, the future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) May 20, 2016. Following a crew certification period and October commissioning ceremony in Baltimore, Zumwalt will transit to its homeport in San Diego for a Post Delivery Availability and Mission Systems Activation. DDG 1000 is the lead ship of the Zumwalt-class destroyers, next-generation, multi-mission surface combatants, tailored for land attack and littoral dominance. (U.S. Navy/Released)

ATLANTIC OCEAN (April 21, 2016) The future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) transits the Atlantic Ocean during acceptance trials April 21, 2016 with the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV). The U.S. Navy accepted delivery of DDG 1000, the future guided-missile destroyer USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) May 20, 2016. Following a crew certification period and October commissioning ceremony in Baltimore, Zumwalt will transit to its homeport in San Diego for a Post Delivery Availability and Mission Systems Activation. DDG 1000 is the lead ship of the Zumwalt-class destroyers, next-generation, multi-mission surface combatants, tailored for land attack and littoral dominance. (U.S. Navy/Released)

They went, however, a little too far on high-tech armament. Coupled with a Congressionally- and Pentagon-imposed budget ceiling, they wound up with a ship that shoots million-dollar bullets they can’t afford to buy, and so it sails with near-empty magazines. After a few minutes of firing, not only is the new USS Zumwalt out of BBs, so is the Navy — the bunkers, ammo ships, and cupboards are bare, and we’re back to “presence.”

There’s another word for an unarmed ship on presence patrol: “target.”

And, incidentally, these million-dollar bullets? Zumwalt’s designers assumed sea and air supremacy, so there’s no way to fire them against hostile ships or aircraft. They can bust bunkers when the Marines invade Tarawa or Iwo Jima, just in case we go to war with Japan again.


The DDG-1000 Zumwalt class ships have a remarkable array of new technologies, far more than the two classes of Little Crappy Ships, and it is amazing that they have been, so far, remarkably free of the structural failures and propulsion casualties that have made LCS the laughingstock of the seven seas. From a Fox News report (we have rearranged some snipped paragraphs out of the original order to make our points):

The destroyer features electric propulsion, an angular shape to minimize radar signature, an unconventional wave-piercing hull, and a deckhouse that hides radar and other sensors. The 155mm Advanced Gun System was designed by BAE Armament Systems.

The ships weigh in at nearly 15,000 tons, about 50 percent heavier than current destroyers. But the crew size is half of the 300 personnel of other destroyers, thanks to automation.

Of course, a smaller crew with everyone at battle stations raises the musical question: who ya gonna call for damage control? But that’s the least of Big Haze Gray’s problems, apparently.

The GPS-guided, rocket-powered projectiles developed for the new 155mm Advanced Gun System currently cost about $800,000 apiece, nearly as much as a cruise missile, making them too expensive for the Navy to buy in large quantities for the stealthy USS Zumwalt, according to officials.


The projectiles were supposed to be less expensive than missiles, providing a cost-effective way to pummel targets from 70 miles away and clearing the way for amphibious landings.

But the current price compares with $1 million for a cruise missile, which has a range of 1,000 miles. And the price grow, officials said.

“And the price grow.” They wrote that, we didn’t.

For now, there are no plans to buy projectiles beyond the initial purchase of 90, according to the Navy’s draft 2018 budget. The Zumwalt is supposed to be stocked with 600.

We see where this is going, of course. They’re going to adapt some Army projos so that this thing can sail near coasts with more powerful navies, like the dhows of the Somali pirates.

The Navy is evaluating alternatives for ammunition for the Zumwalt and two other ships in the class that are under construction at Bath Iron Works in Maine. Those options include both conventional and hyper-velocity projectiles, said Navy Capt. Thurraya Kent.

If there’s a boondoggle, there’s always sleek lobbyists from a Beltway boondoggle shop in the mix somewhere. In this case, the co-conspirators are Lockheed Martin, the Goldman Sachs of the defense industry.

Bethesda, Maryland-based Lockheed Martin, which developed the 155mm projectiles, blamed the low production rate of ships — only three are being built, compared with the 32 originally envisioned — for driving up costs of the guided munitions. The defense contractor is working with the Navy with options, a spokeswoman said.

The Navy has been struggling to reduce costs because of budget limits, but those constraints could be eased when Republican President-elect Donald Trump takes office. He has vowed to boost defense spending and to increase the size of the U.S. fleet.

The 610-foot Zumwalt, the first ship in the class, was commissioned into service last month and is currently en route to its home port in San Diego.

It does sound like the Navy let somebody re-develop a paralllel to the Army’s Advanced Copperhead, etc. rounds, without any attempt to reuse the Army technology or save money.

This painting made for Lockheed Martin to promote the near-million-dollar rounds shows one about to strike a $200,000 BMP-1 and another plunging down onto a $5 bunker with a $100 AK-47 in it, inadvertently illustrating the basic problem with an all-smart-weaponry armament suite.


“Smart weapons” are beloved by DC politicians who want to make symbolic strikes without exposing American troops to risk. For example, in 1998 the USA conducted a series of Tomahawk strikes against various shacks, tents, and wooden bleachers described as “terrorist training camps,” ostensibly to defeat Al-Qaeda (and they’ve scarcely troubled us since then!) but probably to recapture the Beltway news cycle from Monica Lewinsky.

They can be effective in some scenarios, but not when targeted from the Situation Room, or exchanged for low-value targets, as in the picture above.

More detail (as usual) is available at the USNI Blog. (Update: we also found this entry by the indomitable Commander Salamander on that blog, which we had missed originally). Shaking his head, we’d bet, he writes:

This was a warship the size of a Pocket Battleship that would carry the largest guns of any warship in our navy – gun with a large rate of fire and range – that was intentionally designed not to be able to use these guns to engage an seagoing enemy.

Top. Men.


Tam in the comments has selflessly pointed us to The Parable of the Stick on her blog, as good an analysis of the unit cost conundrum as you are likely to find, and yet one that appears to be unknown inside the Beltway. Set down your drink and ensure your upper digestive tract is clear of fluids before you read it; a sinus full of Dr Pepper is no reason to present at the ER. But it’s pure entertainducation to the last “thwack!”

Will the US Air Force Sign Lloyd’s Open Form?

Once-classified image of a Mark IV nuclear bomb, a descendant of the WWII "Fat Man" plutonium bomb.

Once-classified image of a Mark IV nuclear bomb, a descendant of the WWII “Fat Man” plutonium bomb. Click to embiggen.

A Canadian diver, Sean Smyrichinsky, was harvesting sea cucumbers off British Columbia when he found something that Mother Nature didn’t put there. When he described it to locals, he got the surprise of his life: they think what he found was an atomic bomb missing since it was jettisoned from a struggling B-36 in 1950.

It’s not confirmed, yet, but the US and Canadian Navies are responding to the site. Quoth the Beeb:

The story of the lost nuke has plagued military historians for more than half a century. In 1950, American B-36 Bomber 075 crashed near British Columbia on its way to Carswell Air Force Base in Texas. The plane was on a secret mission to simulate a nuclear strike and had a real Mark IV nuclear bomb on board to see if it could carry the payload required.

Several hours into its flight, its engines caught fire and the crew had to parachute to safety. Out of a 17-person crew, five didn’t make it.

Map of where the lost nuclear bomb might have landedImage copyrightROYAL AVIATION MUSEUM OF WESTERN CANADA

Image captionPeople have been searching for the lost nuke for years

The American military says the bomb was filled with lead and TNT but no plutonium, so it wasn’t capable of a nuclear explosion. The crew put the plane on autopilot and set it to crash in the middle of the ocean, but three years later, its wreckage was found hundreds of kilometres inland.

Dirk Septer, an aviation historian from British Columbia, says the US government searched the wreckage but couldn’t find the weapon.

“It was a mystery to everyone,” he told the BBC. “It was the height of the Cold War and they were just paranoid that the Russians would get a hold of it.”

Crew members have said they dumped the bomb in the ocean first, fearing what the payload of TNT could do on its own if it were detonated.

Canoe near Haida GwaiiImage copyrightGETTY IMAGES

Image captionThe Haida Gwaii islands are a remote area off the coast of British Columbia

A spokesperson for DND told the BBC the department had conferred with its American counterparts, and that the object the diver found could very well be the bomb. The American military do not believe the bomb is active or a threat to anyone, he said, but Canada is sending military ships to the site to make sure.

Quite a remarkable thing, if this really is found.

So the question becomes, will the USAF sign Lloyd’s Open Form? (That may be out of date, but it’s what shipowners and/or captains used to have to do to promise to pay rescuers/salvors). And what’s the salvage of a nuke worth?

Sources: BBC report, The Telegraph.

A Historic Memorial

hindenburg02OTR, Our Traveling Reporter, is traveling again, and this time he finds himself in a place marked by history. Perhaps you recognize it from the image on the right. A terrible thing happened here — one that remains a magnet for controversy even today .

It’s an open field with a roughly fish-shaped area marked by a yellow-painted anchor chain embedded in the surface. inside, there’s a stone-paved area, and a bronze marker. To get here, you need a military ID — or to join a regular tour, which is closed to all foreign nationals.

Are you ready to guess yet? No? We’ll show you some more images.

To start with here’s another angle. Got it yet?


Hmmm. Let’s try another angle. This looks like a clue. And look at the size of those hangars in the background. They’re behind that white one-story building!


What’s those hangars in the background?  Let’s go to the next page for more images, if you haven’t got it yet.

Continue reading

The Short, Sad Career of USS Lancetfish

uss-lancetfish-emblemWho was the unluckiest guy in the US Navy in World War II? You could make a pretty good case for Admiral Husband E. Kimmel, who was holding the bag when the Imperial Japanese Navy recycle-binned the surface fighting power of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor. Naval tradition was served, and Kimmel’s head rolled (career-wise, that is; unlike among our Japanese enemies in that war, in American English that was just an expression).

But we’d like to nominate Commander Ellis B. “Burt” Orr, the first, and only, captain of the submarine USS Lancetfish, SS-296. Orr had been the commissioning-crew engineering officer on the successful USS Rasher, SS-269.  For a submarine officer, there can be no greater moment in a career than taking command.

But for Orr, a moment is all it was.

lancetfish-launchLancetfish was, in her design and construction, a typical World War II fleet submarine of the Balao class. A submarine was a long-lead-time project; Lancetfish was launched eight months to the day after her keel was laid down at Cramp Shipbuilding Company in Philadelphia.

Nine months later, the submarine, still a pre-commissioning unit, left Philadelphia under tow to be completed in Boston. Finally commissioned on 12 Feb 45 in the usual ceremony at the Boston Navy Yard, it was having the last things taken care of when, a little over a month later, a dockworker screwed up.

lancetfish-sunkTorpedo tubes have two sets of doors, inners and outers, and you will immediately recognize which is which from their formal names: breech door and muzzle door. Subs of the period were supposed to have an interlock that kept them both from being open at the same time. Perhaps that was one of the things being installed in Boston, but somehow, a worker managed to open the inner (breech) door of #10 torpedo tube, unaware that the muzzle door was already open. He couldn’t shut the door against the rush of water, and scrambled out of the after torpedo room. He might have mitigated the damage by closing the watertight door to the aft torpedo room, but… well, he didn’t. No lives were lost, but Lancetfish settled on the bottom 42 feet below the surface at Pier #8 on 15 Mar 45.

Orr was not aboard; the sub was still in the hands of shipyard personnel; the Navy had yet to fill out her crew. He lost his ship without ever having taken her to sea. Indeed, she never moved as much as a yard under her own power.

lancetfish-salvageIf you’re going to sink, of course, there’s few better places to sink than shallow water, pierside, in a Navy yard. But even so, it took eight days to refloat Lancetfish. Eight days in which seawater did its worst with the ship’s electrical, mechanical and hydraulic systems. The Navy being the Navy, both the sinking and the salvage operations were attended by photographers’ mates, and documented to a fare-thee-well.

Meanwhile, Navy finance personnel had been estimating her salvage costs, and they came up with $460,000 (about $6.2 million in 2016 dollars). For the Navy, the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze, and Lancetfish was decommissioned the very next day.

Burt Orr survived the loss of Lancetfish. (His old sub, USS Rasher SS-269, actually survived 8 war patrols and the war, too, and even served off Vietnam, before going to the knackers in 1974).  But Burt and his sub are likely to retain for all time the unhappy title of shortest command, and shortest commissioned service, in the submarine (and perhaps, in the American naval) service.

Just Another RV Driver

Charles Wickware Jr. is just another RV pilot. Except… his other plane is an F/A-18E. Here’s a great report by Megan Rupe of KSEE-TV aka Your Central

Unfortunately, we couldn’t figure out how to embed it, so you’re going to have to go over there. But it’s a really nice report — longer on the web than they were able to run on the news, we think — and the talent and crew of KSEE deserve your eyeballs on this one. We’ll still be here when you come back.

Not sure whether the more entertaining bit is Wickware’s infectious enthusiasm for flight — he’s making a documentary of his squadron’s last Arabian Gulf cruise (we just call it that to offend the Iranians) — or reporter Rupe’s happy, refreshing enthusiam for flight and Wickware.

We enjoyed his shots of carrier takeoffs and landings. Something about his GoPro approach seems to do a better job of conveying the shot-from-a-cannon aspect of a cat shot and the slammed-to-a-standstill aspect of an arrested landing than previous films and videos. We hope to snag a copy of the documentary, when it’s done.

Because somebody will ask, his private airplane is an RV-8, and the one that flew formation with him and Rupe is an RV-6 or -7. The RV-12 we’re building is lighter, less powerful, and not aerobatic. (Not to mention, easier to build).

A Warrior Rests

For a century, a Warrior has rested in the blind, silent deep of the North Sea off Norway. We refer to HMS Warrior, an armored cruiser that was mortally wounded, but not killed, at the Battle of Jutland 100 years ago this past summer.


Unlike the other ships, it wasn’t found in time for the anniversary.

The HMS Warrior is the last of the Jutland wrecks to be located, out of 14 British and 11 German warships that were sunk on May 31 and June 1, 1916, as the Imperial German High Seas Fleet tried to break out from the Royal Navy blockade of the North Sea.

“It’s the only wreck left from the Battle of Jutland that we can categorically say is completely unspoiled,” said Innes McCartney, a marine archeologist at Bournemouth University in the United Kingdom. [See Photos of the Search for the WWI-Era HMS Warrior]

“It’s completely upside down, and it sank down into an area of very soft seabed, right to the level of the upper deck — so everything inside it is completely sealed in,” McCartney told Live Science.

More than 250 warships took part in the Battle of Jutland, the largest naval engagement of World War I, and more than 8,500 men were killed, according to British and German wartime records.

McCartney said the HMS Warrior, an armored cruiser, was heavily damaged during the battle by gunfire from the German cruiser SMS Derfflinger, but it had attempted to make its way back to Britain.

This painting, The Sinking of HMS Warrior at the Batle of Jutland, was painted by Alma Claude Burton Cull.

The Sinking of HMS Warrior at the Batle of Jutland, was painted by Alma Claude Burton Cull.

When the ship’s engines failed, the Warrior was towed throughout the night by a British aircraft carrier, the HMS Engadine. By morning, however, the Warrior had filled with water, and it was abandoned after its surviving crew of around 700 were taken off, McCartney said.

He added that the final resting place of the Warrior was unknown until the wreck was discovered on Aug. 25, using sonar scans and a remotely operated underwater vehicle (ROV) equipped with video cameras.

Warrior had several remarkable men and officers aboard, like Engineer Lieutenant Geoffrey Morgan, who was recommended for an immediate promotion to Engineer Lieutenant-Commander among a long list of battle-honored officers and petty officers.

Geoffrey Morgan. Captain Molteno, late of “Warrior,” (above – Photo Ships) reports: ”Utmost gallantry and conspicuous devotion to duty in remaining in the enginerooms after the explosion and endeavouring to take action for the safety of the ship, by which delay he was imprisoned under the grating for over two hours, and very narrowly escaped losing his life by drowning, scalding and suffocation. Was almost overcome when rescued. He afterwards took part with energy and coolness in the work of salving the ship. This officer, under the able supervision of Engineer Commander Kitching, has run the engine-room department extremely well, and greatly increased ‘Warrior’s’ steaming efficiency.”

hms-warrior-at-speedSteaming efficiency was not enough, under a rain of 11″ and 5.9″ shells from German ships. But Morgan survived, to receive his promotion, dated 30 June 1916 (as were many of the meritorious promotions of Jutland heroes). Commander Vincent B. Molteno of Warrior was commended by Admiral Jellicoe, and invested with the Order of St. Anne by the Tsar of Russia. He did handle his ship with

Another officer, this one an aviator from the seaplane tender Engadine, made a hero of himself during the perilous transfer of Warrior’s survivors to Engadine at sea.

29703 – 11 AUGUST 1916 

Admiralty, 11th August, 1916.

The KING (is) pleased to confer the Decoration of the Albert Medal of the First Class on:-

Lieutenant Frederick Joseph Rutland, R.N. (Flight Lieutenant, Royal Naval Air Service).

The following is the account of the services in respect of which the Decoration has been conferred:

During the transhipment of the crew of H.M.S. “Warrior” to H.M.S. “Engadine” on the morning of the 1st of June, 1916, succeeding the naval battle off the coast of Jutland, one of the severely wounded, owing to the violent motion of the two ships, was accidentally dropped overboard from a stretcher and fell between the ships. As the ships were working most dangerously, the Commanding Officer of the “Warrior” had to forbid two of his officers from jumping overboard to the rescue of the wounded man, as he considered that it would mean their almost certain death. Before he could be observed, however, Lieutenant Rutland, of H.M.S. “Engadine,” went overboard from the forepart of that ship with a bowline, and worked himself aft. He succeeded in putting the bowline around the wounded man and in getting him hauled on board, but it was then found that the man was dead, having been crushed between the two ships. Lieutenant Rutland’s escape from a similar fate was miraculous. His bravery is reported to have been magnificent.

Magnificent, eh. One can just imagine what old Rutland would say to that.

Warrior’s class makes her an oddity today. She was an Armored Cruiser, a type of neither-fish-nor-fowl ship that would rise with the century and set with the end of the war, and especially with the Washington Naval Conference and other disarmament treaties of the inter-war years. By limiting capital-ship tonnage, the treaties obsoleted all those ships that were nominally capital ships, but not modern battleships. (If you only have so many tons to make warships of, you want the best quality tonnage you can buy). Today, only one armored cruiser of the scores built worldwide survives, as a commissioned museum ship in Greece.

And there’s an HMS Warrior that’s a museum ship in Portsmouth, England — but she’s an older ship, from the 19th Century.

The Danish Navy, 1962

Even if you can’t follow the Danish narration, there is some very cool stuff in this 1962 promotional film, Det Er Nodvendig… which means, This is Necessary. The point of the film is to introduce Danes to their Navy.

One of the first cool things you will see is a flotilla of ex-Deutsche Kriegsmarine S-Boats. The boats don’t show their age at all — they were probably never this clean in their wartime existence.

Other scenes include the S-Boat crewmen introducing themselves by name and hometown, destroyer operations, coastal defense with artillery and AA, and Denmark’s famous frogmen. (The nation was once a leader in scout swimming and undersea war, but ceased operating submarines about a decade ago after nearly a century of successful sub ops).

On the other hand, the Danes maintain a robust coast defense capability, but these days it’s with missiles, not last century’s cannon.

Wednesday Weapons Website of the Week: Historic Naval Ships Association

The HNSA is a sort of online clearinghouse for information about museum ships and related facilities. As they put it on part of the website:

We promote visiting the world’s historic naval ships and advocate for the need to save these important vessels for future generations so that they may continue to proudly serve their countries in honor of those who served and continue to serve at sea.

There’s information about preserved ships around the world. In a brief visit, we saw that this rare (2 built) classified-until-2011 OSS infiltration semisubmersible boat codenamed Gimik, is just two hours away in Massachusetts…


…but we also looked at pages for other vessels, like BAP Abtao, a sub that was built by Electric Boat for Peru and is on display in that Andean nation after a career that included over 5,000 dives and the rescue of the crew of another Peruvian sub sunk by collision.

We particularly like their reference library.

So what’sknow-your-pt-boat there? How about the text and some illustrations of a 1945 PT Boat manual, Know Your PT Boat. Written in a style reminiscent of the German Panzerfibel with cartoon illustrations, it gives the sailor newly assigned to PT Boats an overview of its systems and operations. Unfortunately, this version has been slightly bowdlerized; cartoons that made racist caricatures of Japanese have been removed. (And some haven’t).

Know Your PT Boat even deals with maintaining the refrigerator:

Your refrigerator can make ice cream, ice cubes, and frozen delights (especially good is frozen fruit cup). Once a Jap bullet punctured a refrigerator unit and drained it of all its freon. Several of the boats then decided to put armor plate about the refrigerator. So you see it’s really very important, for it contributes to the living comforts which are all too few in the Area. Your refrigerator pump and motor need servicing. Don’t let them wear down or overheat. To keep meat, your refrigerator must be in top shape. It is rare to have fresh meat and when issued it comes in 100-pound quantities. Hence the necessity for a good freeze or reefer. Have a drip pan properly placed or the meat juices will leak into the bilges and in a week you’ll be accused of carrying a dead Jap around in your bilges.

Of course, readers will probably be most interested in the gunnery.

Don’t be like one boot who ducked down inside his “armored” turret during an attack and then later when he discovered that the turret was made of 3/4″ plywood he fainted.

Aside from the actual firing of the guns the important thing is the preparation. Everything must be in perfect operating order. “Be Prepared” is not just a Boy Scout motto, it is the watchword of every fighting ship. You can make no excuses to the Japs for a jammed 50, a weak drive spring, or a 20-mm. magazine with no tension on it. The guns must fire when you want them. They will, only if you have done your drills so that you can do everything automatically. Strip your guns regularly, exercise the springs, and make other routine checks. Then you will know in times of action how to put tension on a magazine and how to blind load.

37-mm. Gun.-To the “Barge Hunters” this is a fondly loved gun. Its flexibility, ease of firing, destructive power, and flat trajectory make it a grand gun against targets at moderate range. A 37-mm. seldom jams of itself. The few jams that do occur are usually traced to faulty ammunition.

20-mm. Gun.-This gun is so powerful that it has earned the name “cannon.” When you hit something with a 20-mm., you really do some damage. Not small punctures but gaping holes are the marks left on the enemy by this powerful shell. Aside from the usual preparation and care of a 20-mm., the following are helpful hints:

  1. Precaution must be taken in clearing a 20-mm. jam. Always have a bucket of water on hand. When a jam occurs, souse the breech and barrel. If you cannot get the projectile out in a few seconds, secure the gun for about 5 minutes. In any case, never stick your nose or fingers into the breech. Keep clear and use your ram rod.
  2. Practice cocking of the 20-mm. It is a tricky operation and should be done speedily and with ease, especially in the dark. It is the only war to clear a jam, and to get the gun set to fire again.
  3. The loader must get a rhythm in his task and eliminate groping at night. The gunner and loader who drill in the daylight with their eyes closed are doing a wise thing. The magazine is quite heavy. On a high trunnion gun, the loader should be both strong and tall.20mm-spring-cartoon
  4. Be sure that prior to any imminent action all magazines are on full tension at 60 pounds. If your magazines have been in use a long time, it is wise to pull out a few rounds before loading, but be sure you still have on the full tension. This precaution will give the last few rounds in your magazine an extra push and will prevent jamming.

There’s a lot more in Know Your PT Boat, but it’s only one of the features to be found on this site.

Danish North Sea Ejection, 2015

Bad day at the office has about the best possible outcome:

As the caption to the YouTube says:

Den 27. oktober 2015 skød en dansk F-16 pilot sig ud af sit fly over Nordsøen. Flyet kunne ikke lande sikkert på grund af et ødelagt landingsstel, og den sikreste vej ud, var via katapultsædet. Piloten klarede den voldsomme tur uden varige mén, og her fortæller han sin historie.

Ah, yeah, in English (Hognose meatball translation, probably wrong; the video should have English subtitles, though):

On 27 Oct 15 a Danish F-16 pilot had to get out of his plane over the North Sea. The airplane could not be landed safely on account of a damaged landing gear, and the safest way out was via the ejection seat.  . and here he tells his story.

He had an unprecedented landing gear failure that left the extension strut that extends and braces the main gear leg shorn off the wing and dangling below the ruined wheel and tire, which then rotated about 90º to the direction of flight. (Normally, that extension strut is what keeps the lower part of the landing gear leg from rotating freely around the upper part. The leg is made in two parts to allow for oleopneumatic suspension).

Most of the video is this jet jockey describing the experience, but there’s other video inserted here and there, shot by the wingman and the rescue helicopter. That video shows the actual ejection, his parachute descent and water landing, and his helicopter rescue from the escape system’s survival life raft. He wasn’t in the water long enough to notice how cold it was!

He describes in greatest detail how he (with the help of his wingman, the Duty Ops officer, and the squadron’s experienced pilots back “home” at Skyddstrupp) worked through the decision and plan for the safest possible ejection. At each point where he might have panicked he instead told himself, “I’m OK, the plane is flying, I’ve got fuel, I’ve got time.”  As he says (using the English words!) Aviate, Navigate, Communicate.

Because it’s a talking head in a foreign language (except for our Danish WeaponsMan fans, both of you) some of you may not have the patience for it. We found it a gripping story, but we’d rather hear it over a beer — like his squadron mates did that night!