Once I looked from the Tamar Bridge at the warships down below, ships of the modern navy with names I did not know. And, as I stood and gazed at them on the water far below I saw a fleet of phantom ships and men of long ago. The Rodney and the Nelson, the Valiant and Ramilies Repulse, Renown and Malaya, coming home from foreign seas. I saw Revenge and Warspite, ill-fated Royal Oak, so many ships, their names made faint by shell and fire and smoke. And some I see to harbour come as thro glasses dark, the Barham and the Glorious, the Eagle and the Ark, and then, there comes the greatest, the mighty warship Hood, dark and grey and wraithlike, from the spot on which I stood. From the cruel North Atlantic, from the Med and Java sea, the big ships and the little ships returned for me to see. There’s the Dorsetshire, Edinburgh, Campbeltown and Kent, the Cossack, and Courageous, the Charybdis and Ardent. Now I can’t see very clearly, must be smoke that’s in my eyes, but mercifully hidden are the men and stilled, their raucous cries. You don’t know Shorty Hasset, he won the D.S.M. He still fought on when Exeter was burning stern to stem. Where now.! Dodger Long and Lofty, where now the boys and men? They are lost and gone forever-shall we see their likes again? I thought I saw them mustering on deck for daily prayer, and heard ‘For those in Peril” rise on the evening air. Then darker grew the picture as the lowering night came on, I looked down from that lofty bridge, but all the ships were gone. Those mighty ships had vanished; gone those simple men, we’ll surely never-ever, see the likes of them again.
In ocean wastes no poppies blow,… No crosses stand in ordered row, Their young hearts sleep… beneath the wave… The spirited, the good, the brave, But stars a constant vigil keep, For them who lie beneath the deep. ‘Tis true you cannot kneel in prayer On certain spot and think. “He’s there.” But you can to the ocean go… See whitecaps marching row on row; Know one for him will always ride… In and out… with every tide. And when your span of life is passed, He’ll meet you at the “Captain’s Mast.” And they who mourn on distant shore For sailors who’ll come home no more, Can dry their tears and pray for these Who rest beneath the heaving seas… For stars that shine and winds that blow And whitecaps marching row on row. And they can never lonely be For when they lived… they chose the sea.
The China Fleet Country Club has a remarkable history.
1901 – The mud flats of Victoria Harbor were bought for $2.50 per square foot by a Hong Kong businessman who began charging for tipping rubble from the growing colony.
1903 – The land began selling for $25.00 per square foot. Short of buyers for the land, the businessman joined with the personnel of the Royal Navy’s China Fleet to raise funds for a Royal Naval Canteen.
1929 – The canteen proved to be extremely successful and was soon demolished to make way for a new building.
1933 – Using the club funds and with a generous loan from the Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank; Admiral Kelly, Commander in Chief, China Station, laid the foundation stone for the seven-story China Fleet Club building. For the men who served on the China Station “The Old Blue” as it was known provided a place for refreshment and decent accommodation away from their crowded ships.
1941 – During the battle for Hong Kong, the Japanese occupied the Club using it as the Navy HQ.
1945 – The Club was extensively refurbished and returned to its former use after the Royal Marines and Royal Navy liberated the colony.
1950-53 – During the Korean War, the Club became a major rest and recreation center for UK and allied Sailors.
1959-73 – During the Vietnam war allied and American Sailors used the club extensively between tours of duty boosting club profits.
1980 – Land values escalated and the trustees sold the air space over the Club. A developer paid for temporary facilities while building a new luxury club on the first nine floors with 14 more floors of office space above.
1985 – Fleet House opened and because of the agreement to hand back Hong Kong to the Chinese in 1997 the search began for a suitable successor to the China Fleet Club in the UK.
1986 – A proposal to build the China Fleet Country Club at Saltash in Cornwall was put to the Hong Kong Sailors committee and Trustees.
1987 – The feasibility study was approved by the Hong Kong Sailors committee, the land was purchased and design of the complex began.1989 – Building work began on the 180-acre Saltash site.
1991 – The new China Fleet Country Club was officially opened on June 1st along with it’s prestigious golf course. The designer of the golf course was Dr. Martin Grant Hawtree who worked on the controversial course for billionaire Donald Trump in Scotland.
1992 – On 30 November 1992 the Hong Kong China Fleet Club closed its doors for the last time ready for the Chinese takeover of Hong Kong.
On the night of 28-29 March 1945, the amphibious assault ship LSM-188 was conducting an aggressive harassment patrol only eight miles off the town of Naha, Okinawa Jima.
At 0557 on 29 March, Japanese suicide dive-bombers appeared overhead, and the crew quickly went to battle stations, with the antiaircraft battery immediately opening fire.
With one enemy plane shot down, a second kamikaze came under fire. As three or four of the Japanese dive-bombers passed overhead, one enemy pilot circled from starboard to port and received the bulk of the gunnery crews’ attention.
The ships 40-millimeter guns opened fire and set the enemy aircraft afire, at a range of only 150–200 yards.
As the kamikaze passed over the ship, part of the plane broke off, causing an explosion on deck. The dive-bomber crashed into the sea only 75 yards to starboard, burning intensely before sinking.
Later, an intelligence officer asserted his opinion that the evidence of a high-order explosion onboard resulted from a combination of the flaming debris of the aircraft, and the pilot managing to drop a bomb on LSM-188.
The explosion on board LSM-188 destroyed her 5-inch gun director tower, leaving a large hole in the main deck where it once stood.
Watertight doors were blown open, while bulkheads and decks throughout the compartments just below and off the main deck splintered and buckled inwards.
Radio communications failed throughout the ship, while fires raged topside and below, threatening rockets stored in ready service racks on the main deck. Fortunately, the fires never reached the rockets’ fuses, avoiding further catastrophe.
One of the first Sailors killed was Pharmacists Mate First Class Harold C. Zahn. The loss of the amphibious assault ship’s corpsman was felt as several wounded Sailor’s cried for the well-respected “Doc” at first went unheeded. About three-quarters of an hour later, LCI-452 came alongside to drop off PhM1/c William W. Lowder, replacing the fallen corpsman Zahn.
While the crew of LSM-188 battled to put out the fires, APD-56 and battleship USS Arkansas BB-33 passed “badly needed” blood plasma to the stricken amphibious assault ship for treatment of her wounded.
Nine Sailors were cited in the after-action report for gallantry during the short but otherwise deadly fight with the enemy.
Seaman First Class Michael R. Masoka, despite burns to his eyes and face from the explosion, managed to drag his gun captain to safety from their 5-inch gun mount. Despite being unable to see due to cuts suffered from flying glass, S1/c Masoka also helped care for his fellow wounded shipmates.
After observing the death of PhM1/c Zahn, Yeoman Third Class Fred N. Piedmonte sprang into action, procuring medical supplies, dressing wounds, and performing other duties normally only performed by trained corpsmen. Gunners Mate Second Class Walter R. Venters, despite serious burns to his body, toured the ship after the explosion on board, turning on the remote control magazine sprinkling valves.
GM2/c Venters made it possible for extinguishing the fires as soon as pressure resumed to the water mains. He also went on to treat the wounded until he received orders to “lie down and submit to treatment.” His commanding officer, Lt. Harry C. Crist, noted, “The work of this man was largely responsible for the saving of the ship.”
After the incredible damage control performance in saving their ship, LSM-188 and her crew steamed under her own power to the island of Ulithi. Despite the loss of radar, communications, and all aft guns, the amphibious assault ship underwent repairs and rejoined the battle as an ammunition carrier. In all,
LSM-188 had 15 Sailors killed in action and 32 wounded, providing a grim preview to the heavy casualties sustained by the Navy during the Battle of Okinawa.
Wrote this a couple years ago, thought I would share it again. Nostalgia works in funny ways…
In 1959, the authorization was given to build another ship. Meaning no less than job security at the time for countless engineers, welders, crane operators, electricians, the list goes on, this order was to them part of the routine, finish one job and start another. Puts food on the table, affords a comfortable life for the family. a good career to get into.
The ship that is ordered, not surprisingly, will be similar to those that were constructed before her, but as with all other ‘clones’, there will be differences, slight upgrades, improvements if you will. But as long as the prints are true, she’ll become a sea worthy vessel, her capabilities beyond her predecessors. She’ll be faster, a bit more streamlined, her armorment in keeping with the demands of global needs. She’ll be as well protected as can be made, for her crew will depend on her to ensure their safety, this crew that will shed tears, hugs and kisses as they ride this vessel away from home for parts that to many aboard will be unknown, for lengths of time most will not be used to.
Everything about her as she is being pieced together must be perfect, no room for mistakes, no room for anything that would be detrimental to her crew be left out. She must be strong, forebearing, able to defend not only the battle group she’ll be assigned to but also herself and her crew, for this ship will be home for her crew, the one place where they will work, eat, sleep, and relax. Basically, their lives within several hundred feet. She’ll be formidable in appearance, her profile well known world wide. She’ll find herself in the heat of global tensions several times in her life, always proving to all that she’s there when needed. She’ll have every bit of technology available at her birth to give her crew the upmost advantage in any situation said crew may be faced with. In no way, through her design, will she allow her crew to be endangered, and she will give all she has to ensure this.
As this ship is built for the soul purpose of defense and protection of the seas, she will also have within her design comforts for those that will become her, for want of a better term, circulatory system. The requisit berthing spaces, of course, modern galley and messing areas, the ships store, ships library, all maybe small in size but for extended months at sea large in stature. Closed circuit TV. Maybe even satellite TV to catch the Super Bowl while in the Gulf.
Those that build her, they know, that she has a shelf life, and that one day her time will come. They know that she’ll sail countless nautical miles, fight countless battles. They, as well as you and I, know that not all is perfect, that throughout her life there will be lives lost within her shell, yet those lives will not be lost in vain, rather they will be valiently sacrificed in the needed effort to save this ship and their shipmates from an untimely demise. One would think that this thought alone is the major driving force of those that put this ship together make sure everything is as close to perfect as they can make it.
Throughout her years defending this country, Thousands will have done their designated jobs to keep her going strong. Each and every one of these thousands will, when called to duty at yet another ship or shore station, carry forever with them the memories of their shipmates, those who for that short period of time became no less than family. Countless numbers will keep in touch with others, countless will most likely not. Regardless of that fact, all who serves on her decks are connected forever, period.
In time, her end will come, simply outdated and technologically behind the times. She’ll have been upgraded several times in her life, but life itself will ultimately overtake her. With tears in the eyes of many who kept her heart beating, she’ll be retired, her plants never to steam again, the heart stopped forever. She’ll be replaced by newer ships, each filled with the latest in technological wonders, some of which have probably yet to be discovered. But she was advanced for her time, remember that she was the new replacement for the ships before her. Yet it still hurts.
Proudly, some ships become museums, an open venue for those who have never been aboard a ship, to provide a bit of history for the masses. Others, sadly, are uncerimoniously cut apart, for a profit to individulas who care not one bit the history or legacy of the ship they’re torching. Then there are the ships that, after proudly serving their time, are sent to to sea floor, a ‘burial at sea’ if you will, which is the highest honor these vets could receive. A send off this particular ship should well be afforded.
Conceived by the ink of a pen in 1959, roughly 35 years of distinguished service, and taken from the fleet 28 Jan 1994. Thousands of proud individuals made her the ship she was, and in our memories always will be.
She was a force to be reckoned with, her mere presence anywhere she went was never forgotten, and never will be.
What were considered as one of the deadliest boats of World War II?!
ANSWER: Patrol Torpedo Boats aka PT Boats!
They were made of wood, carried no heavy guns, and would sink at the drop of a hat. But they were fast, hard to hit, and could kill nearly anything afloat.
Pound for pound, the deadliest boats of World War II weren’t the carriers or the legendary battleships, they were the humble patrol torpedo boats.
America invested heavily in capital ships in the inter-war years, concentrating on battleships and carriers that could project power across the deep oceans. Combined with destroyers and cruisers to protect them, this resulted in fleets that could move thousands of miles across the ocean and pummel enemy shores. It was a good, solid investment.
But these large ships were expensive and relatively slow, and building them required lots of metal and manpower. There was still an open niche for a fast attack craft like the Italian motor torpedo boats that had famously sunk the SMS Szent Istvan in World War I.
Boat builders who had made their name in racing lined up to compete for Navy contracts. They held demonstrations and sea trials in 1940 and 1941, culminating in the “Pinewood Derbies” of July 1941.These were essentially races between different boats with either weapons or copper weights installed to mimic combat armament, allowing the Navy to see what designs were fastest, most nimble, and could survive the quick turns with a combat load.
Not all the vessels made it through. Some experienced hull and deck failures, but others zipped through the course at up to 46 miles per hour. A few boats impressed the Navy, especially what would become the ELCO Patrol Torpedo Boat. Higgins and Hulkins also showed off impressive designs, and all three contractors were given orders for Navy boats.
The Navy standardized the overall designs and armament, though the contractors took some liberties, especially Higgins. They were all to be approximately 50 tons, made of mahogany, and carry two .50-cal. machine guns. Many got up to four torpedo tubes and a 20mm anti-aircraft gun, while a few even got mortars or rockets.
All of this combined to create a light, powerful craft that was fast as hell. Two gunners on a PT boat at Pearl Harbor were credited with the first Japanese kill by the US in WWII when they downed an enemy plane.The little boats would distinguish themselves over and over again, even though there were only 29 in the Navy at the start of the war. General Douglas MacArthur slipped out of the Philippines on a two day trip through the enemy fleet with Lt. John D. Bulkeley on a PT boat. Lt. Bulkeley would earn a Medal of Honor for his actions.
The boats launched constant attacks against Japanese ships, hitting them with Mk. 8 torpedoes. The Coast Guard used 83-foot designs for their submarine hunters and patrol boats, many of which saw service at D-Day where they served as the “Matchstick Fleet” that rescued drowning soldiers.
Also at D-Day, similar landing craft made by Higgins were modified to fire rockets at the shore to suppress shore positions.
But it was during island hopping across the Pacific where the torpedo boats really earned their fame. As Japan’s fleet took heavy losses in 1942 and 1943, it relied on its army to try and hold islands against the US advance, and the Navy’s “Mosquito Fleet” was sent to prey on the ships of the “Tokyo Express.”
Japan’s destroyers and similar ships could slaughter torpedo boats when they could hit them, but the US patrols generally operated at night and would hit the larger ships with their deadly torpedoes, using their speed to escape danger. It wasn’t perfect, though, as Lt jg. John F. Kennedy would learn when PT-109 was rammed by a Japanese destroyer, forcing LTJG Kennedy and 11 survivors to swim through shark infested water for hours.
The patrol boats served across the world, from the Pacific to the Atlantic to the Mediterranean, and thousands of Sailors from the Coast Guard and Navy served on these small boats, downing tens of thousands of tons of enemy shipping.
After losing 150 feet of her bow to a Japanese torpedo, the New Orleans crew made emergency repairs at Tulagi and then backed down 1800 miles to Sydney where an interim bow was fitted that enabled her to return to the U.S. where she was fully rebuilt and able to rejoin the battle.
This “old salt” was a friend who shared a locker with me at the Seven Seas Club in San Diego before we deployed to Westpac in 1968. In 1969, Dusty Barton (Kizzi Barton Danh) took the Seal Team test six times before they finally accepted him into BDU/UDT class 53. Class 53 was the first integrated Seal/Underwater Demolition Team Class at Coronado.
Dusty was aboard USS Sterett with me for only a little over a year, but I was impressed with his wit and perseverance. We celebrated his 21st birthday in the forward boatswain locker listening to the 5th Dimension on a record player.
Dusty passed away a little over a year ago…. He was always considered something of a weird duck later on as he became a civilian. He was a poet, a pacifist, and loved nature, his dog, his 1950’s Willy’s Jeep, and his family.
As you might guess by the photo, he was a little eccentric. Fellow shipmate, Jim Trotter and I had the pleasure of having lunch with him two times on the Florida coast over the last couple of years. I always wondered why this pacifist friend of mine wanted to join the UDT Teams so he could learn how to blow up shit, which he did with great regularity while serving on Seal Teams 11 and 13 over the next couple of years.
National Submarine Day, April 11, is recognized as the birthday of the US Navy’s Submarine Force. On that date in 1900, The U.S. Navy officially joined the undersea world when it purchased USS Holland (SS-1).
“Of all the branches of the men in the forces there is none which shows more devotion and faces grimmer perils than the submariners.” ~ Sir Winston Churchill“
TAKE HER DOWN!”~Commander Howard W. Gilmore“
There Are Only Two Types Of Vessels At Sea: Submarines and Targets.”~Unknown“
“Diesel Boats Forever” ~Unknown or DBF Doc
“Two catfish sucking a shitcan” – A Skimmer, just before the fight started