Saturday, March 5, 2016

Navy to Christen Submarine Washington

Navy to Christen Submarine Washington

Story Number: NNS160304-16Release Date: 3/4/2016 11:00:00 AM

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From Navy Office of Information

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy will christen its newest Virginia-class attack submarine USS Washington (SSN 787), Saturday, March 5, during an 11 a.m. EST ceremony at Newport News Shipbuilding in Newport News, Virginia.

The ceremony will be broadcast live at

Elisabeth Mabus is the ship's sponsor. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus will deliver the principal address.

"The christening of the future USS Washington brings this technological marvel one step closer to joining the fleet where it will serve as a crucial piece of the finest expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known," said Mabus. "Submarines like the Washington, and all of our platforms, are essential to our Sailors and Marines' ability to do their jobs. Our ships, and those who build them, enable our Navy and Marine Corps to maintain a global presence and protect America. This ceremony is a celebration of not only a submarine but also those who worked to build it--the backbone of our ability to protect our nation--our shipbuilders."

The future Washington is the 14th Virginia-class nuclear submarine and the fourth Virginia-class Block III submarine. The ship began construction in 2011 and will commission in 2017.

Block III and later Virginia-class submarines have a redesigned bow which feature a water-backed large aperture bow (LAB) sonar array and two large diameter Virginia payload tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. The two VPTs replace 12 individual vertical launch system (VLS) tubes utilized on earlier submarines. The VPTs simplify construction, reduce acquisition costs, and provide for more payload flexibility than the smaller VLS tubes due to their increased volume. The Washington will have the capability to attack targets ashore with highly accurate Tomahawk cruise missiles and conduct covert long-term surveillance of land areas, littoral waters or other sea-based forces. Other missions include anti-submarine and anti-ship warfare; Special Forces delivery and support; and mine delivery and minefield mapping. So far, 12 Virginia-class submarines have been delivered, 11 are in construction and five are under contract.

The future Washington will be the third U.S. Navy ship to be commissioned with a name honoring the State of Washington. The previous two ships were a World War II battleship (BB-56), decommissioned in 1947, and an armored cruiser (ACR-11) which served under the name from 1905 to 1916.

Virginia-class submarines weigh 7,800 tons and are 377 feet in length, have a 34 foot beam and can operate at more than 25 knots submerged. They are built with a reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs while increasing underway time. These next-generation attack submarines provide the Navy with the capabilities required to maintain the nation's undersea supremacy well into the 21st century. They have improved stealth, sophisticated surveillance capabilities and special warfare enhancements that will enable them to meet the Navy's multi-mission requirements.

Additional information about Virginia class submarines is available online at


A WWI dog tag found in France brings a father into sharper focus for his daughter


— Photo by Michel Bahin

This World War I dog tag belonging to Frank L. Smith of Voorheesville turned up recently at a flea market in France.

VOORHEESVILLE — Nearly a hundred years later, a tangible reminder of Frank L. Smith’s service in France in World War I has turned up. His dog tag was recently purchased by a Frenchman at a flea market in a small village that Smith’s unit passed through.

Smith is well known locally as the founder of the popular tavern and pizzeria in Voorheesville that bears his name.

Michel Bahin of France is a retired banker who collects memorabilia from the local battles against Germany in the First World War, sometimes by buying it and in other cases finding it by searching in the woods near his home, located near Chateau Thierry. He wrote in an email to The Enterprise that, in June 1918, soldiers came within two kilometers (1.25 miles) of his property.

He noted that he has found several dog tags in the woods before.

Bahin wrote, “Usually it is not common to find U.S. dog tags, only if the soldier had lost this.”

After purchasing Smith’s tag at a flea market, Bahin reached out by email to Nancy Cunningham, a descendant of a different Frank L. Smith, who was also stationed in France during the First World War.

Cunningham, of Dallas, Texas, is a librarian and avid genealogist. She maintains a blog about her grandfather’s military service and the unit he served with. Through her blog, Bahin sent Cunningham photos of Frank L. Smith’s round metal dog tag. The tag shows only the name and, on the reverse, a six-digit service number.

Cunningham did some checking and found that the service number did not match her grandfather’s. But, rather than let the matter drop, she seized on the chance to solve a mystery.

She started to do some digging. She checked the database “U.S., Headstone Applications for Military Veterans, 1925-1963,” which she noted, for the sake of other genealogists, is available on or can be accessed for free at any local library.

This database, she explained, contains the cards filled out by relatives who wanted a headstone or marker for the grave of a family member who had been in the military. “Luckily, all the cards for these years,” she said, “have been scanned and are searchable.”

A search for “Frank Smith” turned up 2,100 possibilities, she said. So she narrowed the search, to “Frank L. Smith,” and came up with just “30 or 40.”

She started to look at them, and the third one she opened was Frank L. Smith of Voorheesville. The service number matched.

“We talk about serendipity in genealogy all the time,” she said by phone. “You go to a cemetery and are faced with thousands of gravestones, and you just start walking in one direction and pretty soon there’s the stone you were looking for.”

What are the chances, she asked, of the “third one you open being the right one?”

She then checked the 1940 census database, and this “gave me him and his wife, Elizabeth, so I knew I had the right one.”

At that point, she searched online for “Frank L. Smith” and “Voorheesville,” and “a wonderful scanned, transcribed diary came up, and then, all of a sudden, within minutes, we had connected all this stuff.”

Cunningham then contacted The Enterprise and also the archivist at the Voorheesville Public Library, James Corsaro, who had transcribed the diary and posted it online. “I want everybody to know how great it is,” she said, “that the library has this stuff and is making these connections for people who are doing research.”

What was really amazing, she said, was that the diary actually mentions Smith meeting his unit as it returned from Chateau Thierry. Bahin bought the tag at a local flea market in that area.

— Photo from Dottie Wright

Portrait of the soldier as a young man: Frank L. Smith in uniform.

The American Expeditionary Forces had arrived in France in the summer of 1918 to help the French fight the Germans and were in training before their first battle, on July 18, 1918, at Chateau Thierry.

Smith and his unit — the U.S. Army's 77th Field Artillery, Battery C — landed at Brest on the west coast of France on June 11, 1918. They traveled eastward and northward, toward the area of Chateau Thierry — where Bahin lives — and St. Mehiel, further east. Somewhere along the way, Smith may have lost his tag, since the diary notes that Smith went to a rest camp at a place he calls “Mazy,” where he says he “met the unit coming out of Chateau Thierry front.” They then went together to a rest camp, “but we did not get any rest. We had to drill eight hours a day; some rest camp.”

Importantly, Smith notes, in the next line of the diary (which is transcribed with his original misspellings), “The fellows got paid while we were there; I did not get any pay because my servis record had not come yet.”

If he had lost his dog tag between his arrival in France and his passage through the area where Bahin now lives, this could explain why he was waiting for his service record and was not paid. Perhaps, without his tag, he had no way to prove who he was.

The diary recounts that, on Sept. 11, the men reached St. Mehiel, a town a little further east, where they fought a fierce battle. “We went to sleep for about an hour that night,” Smith writes. “At twelve thirty we started firing; that was some barrage. We fired until about six the next morning and by that time there wasent any Germans left within ten miles of us.”

Fond of her father

Smith’s daughter, Dottie Wright, who is 73, was reached by phone in New Bern, North Carolina and said, “I think it’s amazing. You hear on the news about dog tags being found, but I never thought it would be my family.”

Her father died when she was just 12. Wright says that she was very close to him as a child. “He took me everyplace. He was a good man,” she said.

Her father and mother — who had owned and operated Smith’s Tavern in the village — had been “very much in love,” Wright said.

During the war, Elizabeth Smith, who was known as “Lil,” corresponded with local soldiers who were fighting in World War II. She sent them food, cigarettes, gum, and other supplies, and regularly sent letters and kept them up-to-date on hometown news with her “Lil’s Newsheet.” She later donated all of this correspondence to the Voorheesville library.

Her mother “fell apart after he passed away,” Wright says. Just two years later, she sold the tavern to one of Wright’s two older brothers, Frank L. Smith Jr. “And I sort of went along with the package,” she recalled. She went to live with her brother at that point, until she married.

Her brother put on an addition to the restaurant and started making pizza there, she said. “He made it famous.”

Her mother was never much of a nurturer, Wright said. She kept busy with the store. It was her father, she said, who “took care of me most of the time when I was little.”

— From Nancy Cunningham

This application was filled out by Frank L. Smith's wife, Elizabeth, for a military headstone for his grave.

The diary notes that Smith was in poor health by the time World War II broke out, and over the age of 40, and so did not fight in that conflict. Wright, who was born in 1944, also recalls her father as being sickly.

Wright’s daughter, Rhonda Flansburg, co-owner of Re-Nue Spa in Altamont, said, “I would have loved to have met him. I heard he was a really great guy.” Frank L. Smith died in 1956, before she was born.

When The Enterprise mentioned the online diary to Wright and Flansburg, neither of them had heard of it. They did not know that their father and grandfather kept a diary of his wartime experiences.

In fact, Wright never knew that her father had fought overseas. Neither of her parents had ever mentioned it.

“My mother moved on [moving to Florida] when I was 14,” Wright said. “I don’t have much connection to the past.

“I have a watch that was my father’s,” she said. “That’s the only thing I have of his.”

World War One underground hospital discovered in France

Friday, March 4, 2016

Museum unlocks navy’s origins

At first glance they appear to be just a couple of hand-drawn squiggly lines.

But a closer look reveals the twists and turns run between hand-drawn islands and involve two ships that have become synonymous with Australian naval history: HMAS Sydney and SMS Emden.

The lines show the paths the ships took on November 9, 1914, after coming head-to-head in one of the opening battles of World War I.

The Emden journal from HMAS Sydney.

The German cruiser Emden had for 12 weeks been disrupting Allied shipping in the Indian Ocean and was on its way to the Cocos Islands to destroy a strategically important wireless and cable station.

The Sydney had been escorting a convoy carrying Australian and New Zealand troops to Egypt, where they would train for the landing at Gallipoli the next year.

It broke away from the convoy after a message from the Emden was intercepted at Cocos. Now the map of their battle and a first-hand description of the encounter will be highlights of a new exhibition opening at the WA Maritime Museum this month.

P&O Line steamship Sardinia in WWI camouflage.

The remarkable account in the journal of a sailor on Sydney says that at 6.30am on November 9 there had been a wireless message from Cocos warning of a “strange warship off island”.

“Received orders from (Australian warship) Melbourne to raise steam for full speed and prepare to investigate,” the journal says.

“7.15 am. Parted company from convoy and worked up to 25 knots, meanwhile preparing for action.

“9.15am. Sighted smoke of enemy ship which afterwards proved to be SMS Emden.

“9.40am. Challenged enemy’s ship (Emden) when she immediately opened fire at about 11,000yds, the shots falling short. Sydney replied at once at about 10,500yds and the action started.”

The Emden was all but destroyed and was beached at North Keeling Island, just north of Cocos.

Heart shaped pin cushion 'Think of Me' from HMAS Sydney.

The exhibition, War at Sea — the Navy in WWI, explores the development of the Royal Australian Navy into a small but formidable force, its little-known involvement in the Gallipoli campaign and the RAN in global war.

As well as personal accounts in diaries, mementos, letters and ship’s logs, the exhibition, from the Australian National Maritime Museum, features objects from the museum collection, the Australian War Memorial and material from the National Film and Sound Archives.

Members of the 4th Reinforcements, 58th Battalion waiting to board HMAT Orsova.

The exhibition also tells stories of Australia’s first submarines, AEI and AE2.

AEI was lost without trace in September 1914 off New Guinea and AE2 entered the Dardanelles early on April 25, 1915, to create a diversion for the Anzac landings on the other side of the Galli-poli peninsula before it was sunk on April 30 and its crew taken prisoner.

Crowds line the quay to farewell to the troop ship Barambah.

Exhibition curator Stephen Gapps said the navy was often overshadowed by the histories of Gallipoli and the Western Front and he wanted to explore personal stories as well as battles.

WA Museum chief executive Alec Coles said it was important to recognise the contribution and commitment of Australian sailors and submariners in WWI.

Lt Geoffrey Haggard and Cdr Henry Stoker on AE2.

War at Sea — the Navy in WWI opens at the Maritime Museum in Fremantle on March 12.

The West Australian


VAOIG - Administrative Summaries of Investigation Regarding Wait Times - Florida



The Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General (OIG), conducted extensive work related to allegations of wait time manipulation after the allegations at the Phoenix VA Health Care System in April 2014. Since that event and through fiscal year 2015, we have received numerous allegations related to wait time manipulation at VA facilities nationwide from veterans, VA employees, and Members of Congress that were investigated by OIG criminal investigators.

As we stated at Congressional hearings, at this time the OIG has completed 77 criminal investigations related to wait times and provided information to VA’s Office of Accountability Review for appropriate action. It has always been our intention to release information regarding the findings of these investigations at a time when doing so would not impede any planned prosecutive or administrative action. OIG will begin a rolling publication of these administrative summaries of investigation by state so that veterans and Congress have a complete picture of the work completed in their state. As other reviews are completed, we intend to post them to our website.

You may view and download these administrative summaries of investigation by clicking on the link to our webpage at and selecting the appropriate state. The individual summaries may also be accessed by selecting the weblinks below.

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the Bay Pines VA Medical Center (14-02890-133)

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the Gainesville VA Medical Center (14-02890-135)

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the Gainesville VA Medical Center (14-02890-143)

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the Jacksonville VA OPC (14-03403-128)

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the Lake City VA Medical Center (14-02890-120)

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the Marianna Community Based Outpatient Clinic (14-02890-121)

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the Miami VA Medical Center (14-02890-151)

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the Orlando VAMC and Daytona Beach VA OPC (14-02890-134)

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the St. Augustine CBOC (14-02890-124)

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the Tallahassee VA OPC (14-02890-136)

VA OIG Administrative Summary of Investigation at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center (14-02890-127)

Please use either Adobe Acrobat Reader version 8 or equivalent PDF reader software to open and view our reports. Adobe Acrobat Reader may be obtained free of charge from Adobe's website. Vision-impaired customers and those with text-only browsers may want to try Access Adobe for converting PDF documents into text. (Our disclaimer for these software products)

VIDEO: Shipshape and bristling with history - Doncaster Free Press

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Thursday, March 3, 2016

Arctic naval exercise not a hedge against Russia, officials say



A contingent of international partners has descended upon an icy spot 200 miles north of Alaska for Ice Exercise 2016, where the Navy, other armed services and a variety of agencies will get practice operating in the Arctic and completing scientific research.

Led by Submarine Forces Command, the five-week ICEX 2016 will give the Navy a chance to hone its sub skills in that environment, while also doing diving, unmanned underwater vehicle tests, search and rescue training, and researching weather and other environmental conditions up north. The exercise will include two unnamed U.S. submarines.

More than 30 organizations with upward of 200 personnel will be in and out of the camp, dubbed Ice Camp Sarbo, over the next several weeks.

Despite increasing military activity from Russia in the Arctic, officials said concerns about Russian expansion are not a factor in the exercise.

"We’ve been conducting ICEX for years and years and years," Capt. David Kirk, head of the Navy's undersea influence branch, told reporters Tuesday. "[It] isn’t driven at all by perceived adversaries. It’s an important region to operate in."

A notable loss of sea ice, both in thickness and the amount of area covered, has the Navy concerned about increased activity in the region, particularly with the possibility that more open water could create shipping lanes.

ICEX is the Navy's 27th Arctic exercise since the 1960s, and the first since 2014.

"Funding went down after the Cold War, but the Navy’s interest reinvigorated in 2009 with the Navy’s Arctic Road Map," said Scott Harper, head of arctic research at the Office of Naval Research.

Among the participants in the exercise are Alaska Air National Guard assets, Mobile Diving Salvage Unit 2 and SEAL Delivery Vehicle Team, as well as Royal Navy personnel and Royal Canadian Navy and Air Force personnel.

There will also be Coast Guard divers in camp, said Jeffrey Barker, deputy branch head for policy.

Ice Camp Sargo is set up on an ice floe and designed to house and support about 70 personnel at a time. It's about 200 miles north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, Kirk said, but because of the ice's migration, the camp is currently drifting about nine miles per day.


Royal Navy veterans win asbesto compensation battle


Fred Minall
Image captionFred Minall said Royal Navy engineers used to get "covered head to foot" in asbestos powder

A Royal Navy veteran who has a terminal lung condition caused by exposure to asbestos has now been told he will be entitled to compensation.

Fred Minall, 74, of Northampton, was exposed to asbestos while working as a naval engineer from 1958 to 1963.

But originally military staff were not allowed to claim compensation in the same way civilians could.

Now the law has been changed to allow Mr Minall and other veterans to each receive a lump sum of £140,000.

Mr Minall had been diagnosed with mesothelioma in October 2015.

HMS TrafalgarImage copyrightContributed
Image captionMr Minall said he served on the destroyer HMS Trafalgar in 1958-9 and 1961-63

In a statement, issued this week, the Ministry of Defence said: "On 16 December 2015, the MoD changed the rules to allow veterans diagnosed with mesothelioma on or after that date to have the choice between a one-off, tax-free lump sum or regular, smaller payments.

"The department has now extended the eligibility for the lump sums to those diagnosed before that date."

Mr Minall said he welcomed the change of policy by the MoD.

"This news is marvellous and I could not have wished for better. To know that my three sons and their families will benefit from the effort that has gone into getting this unfortunate issue resolved is very satisfying," he said.

Defence minister Mark Lancaster said: "It is right that we do more to support veterans affected by this condition - it's part of our commitment to our Armed Forces. This change will give them more choice and control."

Chris Simpkins, director general of the Royal British Legion, said: "The Government has done the right thing and we appreciate the effort that has gone into accommodating the 60 people who were missing out."

US Navy to christen 14th Virginia-class attack submarine on 5 March

The US Navy's newest Virginia-class attack submarine Washington (SSN 787) is set to be christened this weekend at Newport News Shipbuilding (NNS) division of Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII).

Washington will be the 14th Virginia-class vessel and the seventh to be delivered by HII's Newport News Shipbuilding division.

Elisabeth Mabus, daughter of Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus, will christen the vessel.

The construction of the vessel commenced in November 2014 and last year, the company had attached the hull sections of the submarine containing structurally integrated enclosures, into a single, watertight unit.

The 377ft-long submarine is capable of diving to more than 800ft and can cruise at maximum speeds of 25k when submerged. It can also operate for 33 years without being refuelled.

"Modularly developed, the submarine features separate deck structures and the control suite is equipped with computer touch screens."

Modularly developed, the submarine features separate deck structures and the control suite is equipped with computer touch screens.

The submarine is equipped with artillery comprising of 12 vertical missile launch tubes and four 533mm torpedo tubes. The vertical launching system has the capacity to launch 16 Tomahawk submarine-launched cruise missiles (SLCM) in a single salvo.

The Virginia-class submarines are capable of executing anti-submarine, anti-surface ship, strike, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance operations, in addition to special operation forces and irregular and mine warfare.

Last year, NNS delivered the US Navy's 12th Virginia-class submarine, pre-commissioning unit (PCU) John Warner (SSN 785).


Seven-metre torpedo found in depths of Scapa Flow believed to have been fired at HMS Royal Oak by German submarin


HMS Royal Oak was sunk at Scapa Flow off the coast of Orkney

A SEVEN-METRE torpedo found on the seabed in Scapa Flow is believed to have been fired at HMS Royal Oak by a German submarine at the beginning of the Second World War.

The device was spotted during a routine sonar survey carried out by Sula Diving on Saturday for Orkney Islands Council.

Royal Navy divers travelled to the area from their Faslane base on the Clyde to examine video footage of the torpedo and inspect it on the seabed.

Ships have been warned not to drop anchor in the area and divers were told to avoid it, but the object is said to be of no threat.

Navy divers marked its location and are to return later to dispose of it.

Scapa Flow, off Orkney, was used as a Royal Navy base in both world wars and is now popular with divers due to the British and German relics lying on the seabed.

An aerial view of the Scapa Flow.

More than 50 German ships were deliberately sunk in the area at the end of the First World War by their commanders to stop them being divided among the Allies.

It is also the site of the wreck of HMS Royal Oak, a Revenge class battleship that was torpedoed by a German U-Boat on October 14, 1939, with the loss of 883 lives.

Experts believe the torpedo found in February is linked to that attack.

Brian Archibald, Orkney Island Council's harbour master, said: "Now that we know that the torpedo is German, we believe it is highly likely that it was among those fired at HMS Royal Oak by the U47 in October 1939.

"It's location in Scapa Flow is in the vicinity of the area where, from historical accounts, U47 is thought to have carried out the attack."

Lieutenant Commander Tony Hampshire said the dive to examine the torpedo was an especially poignant one for his Northern Diving Group team as members of the unit travel to Orkney each year to visit the wreck of the Royal Oak in an act of remembrance.


HMS Royal Oak was anchored at Scapa Flow in Orkney when she was torpedoed

He said: "Northern Diving Group has the honour of diving and placing the White Ensign on the wreck of Royal Oak.

"It is a task which the group has conducted for many years and one which we are proud to participate in.

"To think that this torpedo could have been one fired at HMS Royal Oak brings the tragedy home. Those who served with the ship were incredibly brave individuals."

He added: "While it wouldn't be safe to preserve the torpedo whole, once we return to the scene we will explore the possibility of preserving one of the fins or perhaps a propeller blade for historical interest."

Following discussions with the Royal Navy team, the no-anchorage area already in place around the area where the torpedo was found is to be reduced to a 500-metre radius, with diving also prohibited.


Ike Holds Burial at Sea

Story Number: NNS160302-18Release Date: 3/2/2016 1:57:00 PM

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By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Bill Dodge, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, East

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (Ike) held a burial at sea for seven former service members on the ship's fantail March 1.

Capt. Paul C. Spedero Jr., Ike's commanding officer, and the ship's chaplains spoke during the ceremony, which marked the first burial at sea the ship has held since returning to the fleet in September 2015.

"On this solemn occasion, we stand ready to carry out a duty, which is also a privilege, to render appropriate military honors for shipmates who have passed on from this life," Spedero said. "The duty is a privilege because we have the opportunity to reflect on the rich tradition of service that we have inherited from the men and women who have gone before us wearing the cloth of the nation."

Historically, ships used burials at sea because they lacked the proper means to bury Sailors. Today, the ceremony is one of the highest honors paid to former service members.

"Throughout our history, the U.S. Navy has regularly conducted burials at sea out of necessity, as our naval forces operated far from homeports for extended periods," Spedero said. "Since the conclusion of World War II, many of our fellow service members and veterans have elected to be buried at sea."

Many Sailors took part in the burial honoring their shipmates. For some, it marked the first such ceremony of their naval careers.

"It was actually a new experience for me," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class Jamal Gumb. "I've never done it, and it's something very special to me because when I pass away, I want to have my body buried at sea. Being here and seeing it is a great experience for me so I can know how the ceremony will go when it's my turn."

Burials at sea are open to all active duty service members, retirees and veterans who were honorably discharged as well as their dependent family members. Requests for burials at sea can be made by service members or their families.

The burial concluded with a 21-gun salute, the playing of taps and the passing of the folded national ensign to the commanding officer.

Ike is currently underway for a Mobile Training Team (MTT) inspection as the ship's crew prepares for its upcoming Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) followed by a scheduled deployment.

For more news from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), visit


China Navy Launches First Self-Propelled Floating Dry Dock

Photo shows the Huachuan No. 1. Credit:

BEIJING, March 1 (Reuters) – China’s navy has launched its first self-propelled floating dock, giving it the ability to repair warships far from the coast, the official People’s Liberation Army Daily said on Tuesday, Beijing’s latest move to modernise its navy. The newspaper said the dock, the Huachuan No. 1, would enable the navy to […]

The post China Navy Launches First Self-Propelled Floating Dry Dock appeared first on gCaptain.

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On Naval History’s Scope



On 20 September 1945, two-and-a-half weeks after he’d hosted the formal Japanese surrender on board his flagship, Admiral William F. Halsey Jr. headed for home. Among the many respects paid to the celebrated commander was one he especially treasured. "Your departure leaves all your old comrades of the Pacific war lonesome indeed," messaged General of the Army Douglas MacArthur. "You carry with you the admiration and affection of every officer and man. May your shadow never decrease."

That was a tall order because "Bull" Halsey had cast an enormous shadow during the conflict. His battle accomplishments were many, but in this issue’s cover story, "‘Dear Admiral Halsey,’" John Wukovits touches on a different aspect of the admiral—his larger-than-life persona. Halsey’s bold talk, spiced with salty language, caused his superiors "anxiety and embarrassment," according to historian Thomas Buell, but reporters and the public ate it up. Letters from average Americans flooded Halsey’s office. Ranging from humorous to haunting, they form the core of Wukovits’ article and illustrate how the home front supported the admiral’s efforts as well as sought answers and comfort from him.

Reporters interview Admiral Halsey on Bougainville in late 1943. (National Archives)

Reporters interview Admiral Halsey on Bougainville in late 1943. (National Archives)

In "Halsey and Spruance: A Study in Contrasts," E. B. Potter analyzes the two admirals who alternately led the Central Pacific Force during the final 16 months of the Pacific war, and in the process highlights Halsey’s penchant for publicity. Excerpted from an article in the January 1969 issue of Proceedings, the piece contains a long quote from the famously tight-lipped Admiral Raymond Spruance in which he explains how "Personal publicity in a war can be a drawback because it affects a man’s thinking."

Buell, in his biography of Spruance, The Quiet Warrior, provides some context. The admiral uncharacteristically had expounded on the subject to a friend while they were off Iwo Jima, where the battle was raging. "Spruance had Halsey in mind—among others—because Halsey recently had given an interview that was more flamboyant than usual," Buell wrote.

Potter’s take on Halsey, as contained in the original Proceedings article, agitated former Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Robert Carney enough that he wrote a response, which we’ve included as a sidebar. Carney had served as Halsey’s chief of staff during the latter half of the Pacific war.

Carney’s predecessor in that role, Captain Miles Browning, is the complex and controversial subject of Alan Rems’ article, "Out of the Jaws of Victory." A naval-aviation savant with a caustic disposition, Browning served as Spruance’s chief of staff at Midway while Halsey was temporarily sidelined. The captain earned praise for his role there, and historian Samuel Eliot Morison later credited him with advising Spruance to give the order that likely decided the battle’s outcome.

But according to Rems, Browning’s Midway performance was anything but laudatory. Thomas Buell had uncovered the facts, which he’d initially heard from Spruance’s former flag lieutenant, retired Captain Robert Oliver. As Buell revealed in his U.S. Naval Institute oral history, he had shown Oliver a draft of his Midway chapter from The Quiet Warrior. The captain’s reaction: "That’s not the way it happened at all." Oliver then gave his account of the battle, which the author incorporated into the book.

"I can still remember when he started talking about Miles Browning," Buell recalled. "He was very, very hesitant. He said, ‘I don’t know quite how to tell you this. It’s very, very touchy. But I have to tell you about the confrontation that Spruance had with Miles Browning and the aviators.’" In his article, Rems recounts this story as well as many other eye-opening anecdotes about a gifted naval officer who proved to be his own worst enemy.

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