Saturday, March 12, 2016

Japan’s Deadliest Sub to Join Australia’s Navy in Military Drill

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) will dispatch a Soryu-class diesel-electric attack submarine to Sydney next month to participate in a joint naval exercise with the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force, ABC News reveals.

The 4,000-ton Soryu-class stealth submarine JS Hakuryu, outfitted with a new lithium-ion battery propulsion system, will be joined by two JMSDF destroyers and two helicopters during the training exercise aimed to “foster collaboration” and “improve tactical skills,” according to JMSDF officials. All in all, around 430 JMSDF personnel will participate in the drill.

Japan’s Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries with its Soryu-class still appear to be the frontrunner in the competitive bidding process for a $50 billion ($38.8 billion) contract to build Australia’s new submarine fleet in partnership with Australian industry.

Malcolm Davis from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute told ABC News that this is a major development in the bid for Australia’s largest defense procurement program ever (the so-called SEA-1000 acquisition project)—a contract to build up to 12 new submarines for the Australian Royal Navy, replacing the six Collins-class submarines currently in service.

“By sending a Soryu-class submarine down to work with our Navy, they’re clearly very confident that the Soryu will impress and when you look at what they’re doing — they’re doing anti-submarine warfare exercises — they’re doing tactical maneuvering, communications, PHOTEX [photographic exercises] and so forth,” Davis noted. “Clearly the goal here is to demonstrate how effective the Soryu is in terms of tracking and evading being tracked by our ships,” he added.

However, as I pointed out previously, the submarine may not be the best option for Australia:

[O]n average Japanese subs are constructed to last for around 19 years, whereas the Australian governments expects at least a 30-year active service life span. The Japanese boats also have much less accommodation space than Collins-class submarines.

Additionally, the much talked about air-independent propulsion (AIP) system is actually Swedish technology. However, the Australian government has so far not shown any interest in AIP, preferring a lithium-ion battery option, which will be built into the next batch of Soryu-class subs. Nevertheless, advanced lithium-ion batteries are one of Japan’s top military secrets and it seems unlikely that Tokyo has agreed to share this sensitive technology with Canberra despite media reports.

The Japanese subs also allegedly have less range than the current Collins-class submarines in service. Furthermore, another concern is the integration of a U.S. combat system and weapons ( Mk 48 Mod 7 CBASS heavyweight torpedoes) into the Japanese hull.

In November 2014, Australia’s Senate Economics Legislation References Committee rejected the Soryu-class as a replacement option over some of the concerns outlined above. Japan is currently locked in a fierce competition with German defense contractor Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS), offering a scaled-up version of its 2,000-ton diesel-electric Type 214 submarine (also equipped with lithium-ion battery technology), and French defense contractors DCNS, who is proposing a 4,000-ton version of the French Navy’s Barracuda-class nuclear powered attack submarine, dubbed the Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A.

Concert to commemorate Battle of the Somme centenary

Details of events to commemorate one of the bloodiest battles in British military history have been announced.

A free public concert in Heaton Park, Manchester, will follow a national commemoration marking the centenary of the Battle of the Somme, on July 1.

The city will host a parade of military and Home Front organisations, a Somme Remembrance service at Manchester Cathedral, and a heritage experience before the concert, which will feature the national children's choir, film, dance and Manchester's Halle Orchestra

The events will be held exactly 100 years since the start of the battle, which was intended to achieve a decisive victory for the British and the French against Germany's forces during the First World War.

But the first day became the bloodiest in British military history with more than 57,000 casualties recorded - of which 19,240 were fatalities.

By the time it ended in November 18 that year, it had claimed more than a million casualties on both sides.

Culture Secretary John Whittingdale said: "It is important that we provide as many ways as we can for the public to commemorate the bravery and sacrifices of our ancestors 100 years ago.

"We must never forget what happened at the Somme. I hope that people across the country take part in the range of events in Manchester to honour the memories of those who gave so much."

The public is invited to sign up for free tickets to the evening concert, which is suitable for all age groups. Tickets can be booked at


Friday, March 11, 2016

Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms

MARINE CORPS AIR GROUND COMBAT CENTER TWENTYNINE PALMS, California -- The crowd of spectators swelled with anticipation as a formation of Marines, dressed in pristine blue dress uniforms and brandishing M1 Garand rifles, took the field. As the platoon commenced their unique precision drill routine, no verbal commands were necessary and only a cadence of acute clacks from the rifles broke their silence.

The Silent Drill Platoon, Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps, and the Official Marine Corps Color Guard comprise the Marine Corps Battle Color Detachment and performed during a Battle Color Ceremony at Lance Cpl. Torrey L. Gray Field March 9, 2016.

The detachment of more than 100 Marines travels worldwide to demonstrate several key traits of United States Marines, to include discipline, dedication and bearing.

“I really love seeing ceremonies like this because it epitomizes the Esprit de Corps and morale of our branch,” said Cpl. Jamar Hodge, awards clerk, Installation Personnel Administration Center. “Being able to see them perform is a great opportunity because it shows the level of discipline a Marine can reach.”

The Drum and Bugle Corps, also known as ‘The Commandant’s Own,’ began the ceremony with selections composed by Italian composer and musicologist, Ottorino Respighi, accompanied by complex and precise formation movements.

“I think it’s a great experience,” said Marisa McDonald, military spouse. “I home school my seven-year-olds so it’s really cool for them to be able to see this side of the Marine Corps and then get up close and interact with the Marines.”

For the climax of the ceremony, the Marine Corps Color Guard presented the battle colors adorned with streamers and silver bands, which symbolize the 54 military campaigns and more than 400 battles in which the Marine Corps has played a role throughout history. The ceremony concluded with the Marines of the detachment remaining on the field to greet those in attendance.

“I love coming out, talking with the people and being able to represent a positive image for the Marine Corps,” said Lance Cpl. Megan Almojuela, soprano bugler, Marine Corps Drum and Bugle Corps. “It’s great to show people something fantastic that they may only get one chance to see in their lives.”

The Marines with the Battle Color Detachment are scheduled to continue their tour and will move on to Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Marine Corps Air Station Yuma and Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego in the days to come.

California Combat Center marine barracks washington marine corps battle color detachment silent drill platoon Twentynine Palms

MAR 10 The Log of the Cristóbal Colón By Jon Hoppe

A year before the U. S. Naval Institute would publish its very first book, Lieutenant-Commander (and enthusiastic Naval Institute member) Richard Wainwright’s Log of the U. S. Gunboat Gloucester, the Naval Institute published in its Proceedings an abstract of another log related to the Battle of Santiago de Cuba: that captured from the Spanish protected cruiser Cristóbal Colón.

The Christóbal Colón. Naval Institute Photo Archives.

The protected cruiser Christóbal Colón. Naval Institute Photo Archives.

With the destruction of the USS Maine in February 1898, the tensions between Spain and the United States erupted into war. The Americans knew much about that fast and modern cruiser and the Spanish fleet as a whole; sheets distributed to the Navy men laid out the Colón‘s armament and specifications to a "T." But they would still have to fight her if she would arrive to protect Spanish interests in the Atlantic.

That prospect had the American public terrified. Would the Spaniards raid important coastal cities on the Atlantic Coast? Where were they going?

What the Americans knew of the Christóbal Colón. This circular was distributed along with those describing other ships of the Spanish Fleet to American naval forces. From the papers of Lieut. Edward Moale, Jr., U.S.N. Naval Institute Archives. Click to Enlarge.

What the Americans knew of the Christóbal Colón. This circular was distributed along with those describing other ships of the Spanish Fleet to American naval forces. From the papers of Lieut. Edward Moale, Jr., U.S.N. Naval Institute Archives. Click to Enlarge.

As the Battle of Santiago and the capture logbook later showed, the Spanish fleet was bound for Cuba — and for its doom. The entire Caribbean Squadron that departed Spain was destroyed, although the the Cristóbal Colón was not done so outright. Fleeing the battle, but unable to escape her American pursuers, she was beached and scuttled; she was boarded by American forces but later foundered at sea. Her logbook, however, was captured, translated aboard the USS Brooklyn, and sent to an eager press and public back in the United States.

The excerpts below constitute some of the more interesting episodes abstracted from the log. Scholars and those interested in the Spanish-American War are encouraged to read the abstract in full in the Naval Institute’s Proceedings archive.

* * * * *



8-9 Left Cadiz in company with Maria Teresa (Flag) 4.37 p. m. April 8th, 1898. Roll 10° to 20°, period 6.5 s.

9-10 Celebrated High Mass at 10. Read Art. of War. Published G. C. M. Order.

10-11 Sighted Tenerif ahead. Exchanged signals by Inter national code. Pilot board with sealed package for Captain.

11-12 No. 2 gun failed to turn; found the fault and remedied it. After part exercised Small arms.


1-2 Teresa towing Pluton; Oquendo towing Terror; we towing Furor. Tried elec. primers. 11 a. m. slowed down to allow the Oquendo to resecure her tow

7-8 Received permission to try search-lights. Slowed 7 a. m. to renew towline of torpedo-boat which had parted.

16-17 2.30 p. m. Flagship made signal:—" If you want a cow send boat." Answered:—"Many thanks, do not require any." At 7.30 p. m. went to General Quarters and kept crew at stations all night.

The route of the Christóbal Colón and the Spanish Caribbean Squadron, mapped from the data in this log. Naval Institute Photo Archives. Click to enlarge.

The route of the Christóbal Colón and the Spanish Caribbean Squadron, mapped by the U.S. Navy from the data in this log. Naval Institute Photo Archives.Click to enlarge.



31-1. At 1.16 sent 10 men to coal Pluton. At 2.15 the Iowa passed W. to E. at short distance firing at us; beat to General Quarters-2.15 to 5.00 p. m. Bombarded by the enemy’s Squadron from 3 p. m. At General Quarters for action. As soon as the enemy’s Squadron opened fire and was standing across the mouth of the harbor from the western point and heading to the Eastward at high speed, and consisting of the Iowa (flag), Massachusetts, Brooklyn, Amazonas, Texas, Marblehead, City of Rome (apparently), and four auxiliary cruisers; we commenced firing with the port 15 cm. battery. which continued with rapidity, and correcting the excitement conveniently in order to diminish tendency to waste ammunition. Then commenced with the 12 cm, guns and continued the firing during the time it took them to moss the mouth of the harbor. The Amazonas and large transatlantic steamer having stopped, we then concentrated all our fire on them both. In a short time the other battleships returned, and then the action continued on both sides, but our shot falling short on account of the enemy keeping at too great a distance. A battleship, apparently the Brooklyn, and the transatlantic liner remained in front, and repeating our fire, a tug was seen to approach the latter and astern of her the other battleships were nearing the former. Observed that they retired, convoying them and another steamer at a greater distance, also appearing to have suffered damage, to the S’d without answering our fire. At 3.15 H. E. the Comd’t Gen’l of the Squadron, came on board in the Teresa’s steam launch, and soon afterward ceased firing on account of the silence and withdrawal of the enemy. We were accompanied in our offensive attack by the Socapa battery and that of Morro. 62 rounds were fired from the 15 cm. battery and 14 from the 12 cm. The firing-pins of three of the 12 cm. guns and of six of the 15 cm, were damaged, but they were at once repaired. An enemy’s shell exploded near the stern, making dents in the side and cracking some bowls in the round-house. When the ships retired it was in disorder and, in our judgment, confirmed the fact that two of them required convoying by the Brooklyn as already mentioned. Kept the whole port battery loaded, and at 5.00 p. m, resumed sea watches. At 9.30 P. M. six of the enemy’s vessels passed from E. to W. across the mouth of the harbor, returning at 11.30 the other way. Semaphore signalled:—"The Flagship has seen a vessel to the E’d. near the coast, and that upon the vedettes going out two shots were heard, and that the enemy’s Squadron would pass close by the mouth of the harbor." The Flagship asked the distance: replied that report would be made upon return of vedette. 4 to 8 a. m. the enemy’s Squadron in sight, pawing the mouth of the harbor, first from E. to W., afterward from W. to E., at a great distance and beyond range of our guns; they appear to have been re-enforced by several vessels. At 9.00 a. m. sent men to coal the Furor. At 10.20 a. m., by order of the Comd’t General of the Squadron. cast off the springs. At 10.35 a. m. got underway, and under direction of the Commanding Officer east to starboard and under slow speed passed between Punto Gorda and the bow of the Oquendo. Directed our course into the inner harbor until 11.60 a. m., at which time we came to an anchor in 9.5m. of water, with 15 fathoms on port chain; bearings at anchor Ratones Cay, S. 36° W.; Yarey Pier, N. 11° W.; and Compadres Rock, S. 30° E.

1-2 During afternoon watch unloaded the 12 cm. guns and the 154 mm. battery. 4 to 8 p. m. unable to unload 4, 6, 8. and 10 of the 15 cm. battery. Semaphore made signal that the enemy’s Squadron was in sight, and at 5.00:—"The enemy is approaching"; the Flagship transmitted the signal:—"The enemy is directing his course to the month of the harbor."

2-3 Afternoon watch semaphore signalled the enemy’s Squadron in sight-3.30 p. m. coal lighter came to starboard side; commenced coaling. Stopped coaling at 9, p. m. At 3.25 a. m. hearing a lively firing of guns at the mouth of the harbor, called and armed the crew, got the battery ready. And supplied a case of ammunition for each rapid-fire gun. 4 to 8 a. m. the firing continued at short intervals at the mouth of the harbor. Lighted two boilers and shifted closer to Ratones Cay with 15 fathoms on port chain and ready to slip at a moment’s notice. Lowered 2nd steam launch and anchored all the boats which -were in the water close to the coal lighter. At 7.00 a. m. received information from the Flagship by signal:—"Merchant vessel which had entered the mouth of the harbor was sunk while massing Nispero Bay; she was struck by two torpedoes, one from the Plutonand the other an observation mine; we captured one officer and seven North American sailors." 8 a. m. to noon got out kedge with 60 fathoms on it, and secured on the following bearings;—Ratones Cay, S. 27. W.; Compadres Rock, S. 78′ E.; and Julias Lookout, S. 12° E. Signals were made to us concerning the movements of the enemy’s vessels.

20-21 Enemy’s search-lights trained on shore and month of harbor all night. At 7.30 a. m. the General Second in Command* came on board in the Mercedes‘ boat; hoisted his flag. At 11.15 a. m. the Mercedes came up into the inner harbor and anchored

26-27 4 to 8 p. m. sent cartridges and five chests of Mauser ammunition to the detachment in command of 3rd officer. Got ready the artillery of the port battery. At 10.30 p. m. the Viscaya signalled to Teresa that the Vesuvius, a destroyer and a picket-boat were in front of the semaphore and about 3 miles distant. At 1.15 a. m. two discharges were heard at the Morro; the Viscaya reported that the Vesuvius had thrown three shells, to which the Morro replied. At 2.15 a. m. three shots were heard to eastward, which the Viscaya reported had been fired at Aguadores. At 5.00 a. m. sent steam launch to iron-pier to take 3 cases of ammunition to the detachment at Dos Cruces, and one day’s provisions were taken to the other detachment by the messmen.

* * * * *

The Christóbal Colón foundering after American salvage attempts following the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. Naval Institute Photo Archives.

The Christóbal Colón foundering after American salvage attempts following the Battle of Santiago de Cuba. Naval Institute Photo Archives.

NOTE.—The columns for the 2nd and 3rd [of July, the day of the Battle] are entered up to midnight; but someone has torn out the page of remarks for that day

* A flag officer in the Spanish service is usually spoken of as "General." The officer here mentioned was a "Capitan de Navio" of the First Class, equivalent to our "Commodore."

Thursday, March 10, 2016

H.H. Jalbert



One of the perks of being a photo researcher is getting to interact with professionals at museums and news agencies around the world. To find inspiration for my blog posts, I scour the USNI Archives for forgotten photo albums or unusual images. In January I discovered an album belonging to H. H. Jalbert of the Naval Air Station in Queenstown, Ireland, during World War I. It appeared to be missing three photos, which had been kept by the donor D. M. Jalbert—a family member, perhaps? Later that month, I found a collection of photos of the Naval Oil Reserve in Teapot Dome, Wyoming. The owner again was listed as D. M. Jalbert.

As a history aficionado, I was well aware of the infamous Teapot Dome Scandal of the 1920s, and I wanted to learn more about the original photographer of these images—and their mysterious donor. Unfortunately, the records of donations made in the 1980s were limited, so all I could surmise was that a David M. Jalbert did make several donations. With contact information that was approximately 30 years old I took to Google, where I found a 2014 record for someone of that name with an email address listed. A week later I received a phone call: I had found the right man.

David explained he was the son of H. H. Jalbert, who had worked as an editor at USNI for several years in the 1950s. He followed up with a copy of his father’s obituary, which provided additional biographical information. But perhaps the best surprise was a couple weeks ago, when he sent the three missing photos, and we were able to reunite them with his father’s collection.

Below are few of the photos David generously donated to us. Please enjoy.

The three photos, David Jalbert return for the album.

The three photos, David Jalbert return for the album.

Donations by David M. Jalbert.

Donations by David M. Jalbert. (Photographed by Melissa King)

Salty Talk


A "Cat-o’-Nine-Tails"

How are you at keeping a secret, especially one you know will give pleasure to a loved one? Not so good? And when you do give it away, perhaps someone will observe that you "let the cat out of the bag." That seemingly innocent little phrase has a grisly history.

A ship’s crew was a polyglot collection of men from many walks of life and even many more countries. Their reasons for going to sea were equally varied, and not all of them honorable. Keeping such a group under control in the restricted environment of a wooden ship for weeks or perhaps months on end, with no privacy, monotonous food, few creature comforts, and no women, demanded stringent measures. The principal means was the threat of flogging.

Flogging required that a malefactor be brought up before the entire crew, stripped to the waist, and lashed with his arms extended higher than his head. A boatswain’s mate would then "lay on" a stipulated number of lashes with a whip of nine strands, each of which would be knotted or have small pieces of lead pinched onto the ends. In the sailing Navy, 12 lashes was the standard punishment for a non-capital offense, so the recipient was left with a back permanently scarred as a reminder to himself and others of the merits of good conduct.

The whip used on these occasions was known as a "cat-o’-nine-tails," and it was kept in a red bag made of a material called baize. Since the "cat" appeared only when someone was about to be flogged, "letting the cat out of the bag" was not something done lightly. Happily, when the phrase came ashore, it lost its foreboding definition.

Posted by Commander Ty Martin, U.S. Navy (Retired) in History, Navy



Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Secrets Of The Old Royal Naval College

By the time Christopher Wren was commissioned to build a rest-home for the nation’s elderly seadogs — essentially the navy equivalent of the army’s Royal Hospital in Chelsea — Greenwich was a sorry sight; an abandoned building project.

The old, red-brick medieval Greenwich Palace, of Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I had essentially died during the English civil war. Charles II had grand plans for a glorious new palace, but as usual, the spendthrift monarch ran out of cash halfway through the job.

For the decrepit sailors’ retirement home, Wren fancied something along the lines of Les Invalides in Paris but was told he had to keep the bit Charles had already built (now the King’s House). Oh, and the queen wanted a river view from her palace (the Queen’s House) so no demolition and no giant blocks, okay?

Wren came up with a series of four symmetrical courts, with two grand buildings in the middle to actually frame the Queen’s House, each with a dome similar to the one he had just created at St Paul’s.

One of those grand buildings, the Painted Hall, was designed as a mess room but by the time Sir James Thornhill (who was famously paid by the yard for his exquisite murals) finished, it was considered far too grand for dirty old seafarers.

They were sent to eat downstairs in the undercroft, and the hall was turned into an art gallery.

Over the years the once-luminous Painted Hall has become tatty. Sunlight, hard-knocks, cigarette smoke, candle grease, wind, rain and other elements from the main door opening directly onto the painted area — not to mention an internal drainpipe that’s been merrily leaking into the wall — have all taken their toll.

The ceiling, especially, sulks under a cataract of gloom. Entire figures — including a snarling lion, random cherubs and the king of France being trodden on by King William III — have all but vanished under yellowing varnish.

Guess which half of this ceiling has been cleaned recently

A massive £7m clean-up started last year, when the west wall was, at last, reminded it used to be colourful. The result is startling, the pigments are fresh and the gilding gleams — but just makes everything else look even dingier. Visitors walk in, glance up at the foggy figures on the ceiling, then head off in search of a pizza. Poor lighting doesn't help: a newly-cleaned trompe l’oil arch showing 'the view outside' is almost impossible to see thanks to two blinding spotlights aimed at something else.

Later this year, however, the scaffolding’s going up again. Massive scaffolding; so big it will need a tunnel through the middle just for access. Months of painstaking restoration will follow, but it’s not all — or indeed even — bad news for the rest of us. We’ll be able to climb the scaffolding ourselves (yes, wheelchair-users too) to watch the conservators at work.

Secrets under the Painted Hall

Both the Painted Hall and its opposite neighbour, the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul, have undercrofts. To look at them today you’d think the one under the Painted Hall, where the pensioners ate, was about half the size of the one under the chapel. It’s not.

When the pensioners moved out, one end was bricked up and turned into an industrial-sized kitchen for the new Naval College. The Doric columns, arches, niches and vaulting were left — albeit covered in 1930s tiling, thick coats of institution-yellow paint, Health & Safety notices and giant steel shelving units.

As part of the restoration, the nasty partition wall and 20th century clutter will go, taking the King William Undercroft to something like the same size as its twin beneath the chapel, currently used by students as a cafe (tip: the student caff is also open to the public if you’re looking for a cheap sandwich in Greenwich).

Secrets of the underground passage

Once known as the Chalk Walk for the underfoot crunching of tobacco pipes discarded by smoked-fuelled pensioners, the Ripley Tunnel runs underneath the street-level stone steps between the two buildings.

At the chapel end, behind a locked door, hides a double-lane skittle alley, built by the pensioners themselves in the 1860s and still boasting the original lanes, balls and pins.

Some of the fake wooden cannonballs (made for training) are ridiculously heavy. None have finger holes, so you have to adopt a curious, double-handed, crouching stance and make allowances for the splintery potholes. There’s a simple, gravity-fuelled ball return, but mechanical pin-replacers were a marvel of the future. Someone has to stand in the sawdust pit at the back and put fallen skittles back manually.

Secrets inside the domes

From the outside, Wren’s two domes look identical; small twin brothers to St Paul’s Cathedral.

Inside they’re totally different. The Painted Hall’s version is completely open to view. Every opportunity for decoration is gleefully seized; every inch of plaster painted, gilded, curlicued and fluted. Across the courtyard, the dome over St Peter and St Paul is closed, dark.

The chapel was gutted by fire not long after it was completed. Richly redecorated in 1789 by James 'Athenian' Stuart, its fine plasterwork, Coade stone sculptures and Benjamin West altarpiece have been big attractions ever since. The silent, secret walls inside the dome, however, remain soot-blackened to this day. The tower has several variously murky and daylight-bright floors, joined by increasingly narrow spiral staircases.

The first 'landing stage' up the tower, behind the entrance portico, is a large room scattered with the usual detritus old buildings acquire. A set of dusty organ pipes. A filing cabinet. Boxes with scraps of broken architectural filigree, waiting for the day someone has a tube of superglue and a few spare minutes.

Old organ pipes

The bit with the pillars

The next storey (from the outside that's the bit with the pillars) is slightly smaller but with a high ceiling to accommodate full-length leaded windows. It houses more sundry bits of architecture: some abandoned steps; a relief moulding of an elderly god with a scroll and a chair no one in their right mind will ever sit on again. Up a ladder, inside a wooden case, sits the clock.

Through the square window

Onwards, upwards. Things are now much shallower, more claustrophobic. If you’re checking this room from outside, it's the little circular ring of white Portland stone just below the dome-proper, with square windows like gun turrets, giving a 360° view of the surrounding area.

This part was used by fire-watchers during the second world war, an unenviable job given the Naval College was a special target for the Luftwaffe and its two domes the most easily spotted part of that special target. There’s chalked graffiti from the time — and before — on the wooden walls, some dating back to the 1830s.

Into the dome

The only way to get into the dome itself is via narrow, steep, spiral, stone steps. The light here, illuminating solid timber curves, comes from small oval windows. A ladder continues up into the lantern, though the very tippy-top is currently blocked off.

King James’s wine cellar

All that remains of the ancient Greenwich Palace, apart from foundations several feet underground, is a single cellar. The Jacobean undercroft, built in 1603, probably to store wine, lies beneath the Queen Anne (north-east) building.

It isn’t, somewhat inexplicably, open to the public just now, but still contains some glass exhibition cases from when it was.

A passable but slightly amateurish model of the old palace enjoys pride of place and really rather good pin-spot lighting. The same lighting isn’t quite so kind to a set of nick-nacks, hap-hazardly stuck to a piece of hardboard or the bits of broken pottery and rusty knives glued to painted circles, presumably meant to represent plates. It’s easy to forget sometimes, just how far museum displays have come.

Discover Greenwich’s sophisticated presentation of the site’s history is a million miles away from gloopily-glued nails in dusty cases, but it’s oddly charming to see these old exhibits kept for posterity. In their own way, they too are part of the Old Royal Naval College’s history.

Secrets in plain sight

The public tends to shuffle between the Painted Hall and the Chapel of St Peter and St Paul, pausing to snap the obligatory photo of the Queen's House before assuming that's their lot and trudging uphill to the Observatory. The public misses a lot.

Just because this extraordinary group of buildings now houses a university and a music college doesn’t mean you can’t walk into the four usually-empty courtyards to find curiosities no one else pauses to see.

No one will stop you taking a turn around the King William courtyard, for example, where a magnificent Coade stone pediment dedicated to Admiral Lord Nelson has just been cleaned up. Slip into the Queen Anne Courtyard to find an old water pump and nip down the stairs at the Painted Hall to see a rather grand, if currently lonely cabinet containing a splendid model ship.

There are plans to reveal more of the secret treasures of the Old Royal Naval College from time to time. To open the skittle alley for bowling nights, for example, and create special events around the scaffolded Painted Hall. Just taking a turn around what’s there already, however, reveals a lot more than you might think.



Portsmouth’s National Museum of the Royal Navy hailed as one of the UK’s best tourist attractions

The site was hailed as one of the nation’s best tourist destinations, according to figures released by the Association of Leading Visitor Attractions, which placed 31st on a list of 230 Alva sites.

The news has been welcomed by city council leader Donna Jones, who said: ‘It’s great news that this relatively new museum is already drawing such big visitor numbers.

‘With other museums moving into the National Museum of the Royal Navy, such as the Royal Marines Museum next year, we can expect the museum to grow in strength and increase in the rankings of the UK’s most popular tourist sites.’

John Rawlinson, director of visitor experience at the museum, added: ‘We are really pleased with these figures and that they are benchmarked against the biggest attractions across the UK.’

He added: ‘The NMRN has its headquarters in Portsmouth Historic Dockyard and, across the country, welcomes 1.2m visitors – making it the sixth most-visited attraction in England outside of London.’

Read more:

TAPS-Final Burial For Green Bay World War II Veteran


Vernon Luke will be buried in Hawaii on Wednesday after his remains from 1941 Pearl Harbor attack were identified last year.


LeeAnn Michalske never met her uncle, whom she has always known as a hero.

Nearly 75 years after Vernon Luke’s death in the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor, Michalske will be giving her uncle the farewell her family always desired.

Luke will be buried with full military honors at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu on Wednesday, at 11:30 a.m. local time.

“I am rather excited about being a part of history,” Michalske, a Sturgeon Bay resident, said before she left Green Bay on Tuesday morning for a long-overdue flight to Oahu.

The funeral, and the history it will make, is the result of a Department of Defense decision to attempt to identify the remains of nearly 400 members of the crew of the USS Oklahoma who died during the attack on Pear Harbor and were buried as "unknowns."

Luke, a Green Bay native, was one of the first five to be identified and will be the first of the battleship's former unknowns to be re-interred at the national cemetery, said Gene Maestas, the Department of Defense's on-site public affairs specialist.

Michalske, 78, is the oldest-surviving member of Luke’s family. She is traveling to Hawaii with Allouez resident Marilyn Gardner, the widow of Luke’s nephew, Tom Skogg.

“It’s just special to know that he will, this time, be there identified,” Gardner said.

Science ends a long wait

Michalske, Skogg and other family members waited years to bring proper closure to Luke’s death.

The Navy reservist was 43 years old when he was among more than 425 American sailors and Marines killed on the USS Oklahoma when it was destroyed during the surprise Japanese airstrike on the American naval base.

A directive from the Defense Department resulted in the exhumation of the remains of 388 members of the Oklahoma's crew from group graves at the national cemetery, which is known as the Punchbowl and overlooks Pearl Harbor.

The identifications by the Pentagon’s Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency compared pre-war dental records to the preserved teeth of the exhumed sailors, the armed forces newspaper Stars and Stripes reported.

Luke, who had been assigned to the Oklahoma as a machinist’s mate first class, was one of the first five to be identified.

Michalske said military officials met with her late last year to break the unexpected news.

“We thought we had done everything we could,” Michalske said.

She and Skogg previously submitted DNA samples with the hope that it would help in the identification process.

“Before Tom died (last year), he told me to carry on, but I sort of gave up,” Michalske said. “I thought, ‘What else is there to do?’ So, I was very surprised when they called and said they had (Luke’s) remains and they wished to bury him at Pearl Harbor.”

A vote of the few surviving family members strongly favored keeping Luke’s final resting place in the Punchbowl.

“We figured that if he’s been there for 75 years, these are his shipmates, he was there on the same ship with these people all of that time, so it would be wonderful and fitting for him to be with his shipmates,” Gardner said.

Wednesday’s burial will include an honor guard, a rifle volley and the playing of “Taps.”

“They did tell us they’ll have a bugler there, so I have my (tissues) ready,” Michalske said.

Maestas said Luke will be reinterred with a headstone in one of the 24 gravesites from which the remains of the unknowns were removed last year.

Gardner and Michalske plan to give the American flag that is presented to them at Luke’s funeral to the national cemetery so it can be displayed there.

“I think it would be a wonderful thing to carry that story forward, that the flag that was his flag is now theirs, flying there,” Gardner said.

Michalske said her late grandmother, Cathrine Luke, always regretted not having a true sendoff for Vernon, her oldest of five children. Vernon, a Green Bay West High School graduate, also served in the Army and the Navy in World War I.

“She very much wanted him to be buried in a grave,” said Michalske, who was only 3 when her uncle died. “So, we’re doing (this) for that generation.

“We’re going to honor him because he was a war hero and my grandmother would have wanted that. She would have wanted somebody there.” and follow him on Twitter @ToddMcMahon23


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