Saturday, May 7, 2016

Royal Navy Boat Warns Off Spanish Vessel with Flares

British media report that the Royal Navy fast patrol boat HMS Sabre fired warning flares across the bow of a Spanish Guardia Civil vessel, the Rio Cedena, as the Cedena tried to pass in front of the American nuclear submarine USS Florida. The incident occurred near Gibraltar last month during the Florida's port call at the British naval base.

Tensions between Spain and Britain over Gibraltar have been rising in recent years, and Spain claims sovereignty over the British overseas territory. Gibraltar's authorities say that low-level confrontations between the nations' maritime assets have become common, and that Spanish government vessels trespass into their waters on a regular basis.

In February, the Spanish corvette Infanta Elena sparked a diplomatic incident when it allegedly entered Gibraltar's waters with its weapons uncovered. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) protested the alleged incursion, describing it as "dangerous,” "provocative," and a violation of Gibraltar's sovereignty and of UNCLOS. The Elena is alleged to have maneuvered in a manner that risked a collision with a Royal Navy patrol boat.

The diplomatic language in the Elena incident mirrored that from August of last year, when Spanish government vessels pursued alleged drug-runners into waters around Gibraltar, sparking British protests. "These repeated incursions into British Gibraltar territorial waters are a clear violation of UK sovereignty by another EU country and we will be raising this as a matter of urgency with the Spanish authorities," said the FCO.

But despite the recent tensions and close-quarters interactions, it is unusual for a Royal Navy vessel to fire flares to warn off a Spanish counterpart, defense officials said.

Britain's armed forces declined media requests for comment regarding the Floridaincident. But an unnamed source told the Sun that "this is not only a very dangerous game for the Spanish to play, but it is unbecoming of a NATO ally to treat the US Navy with such contempt."


Where is Captain Cook's HMS Endeavor? Science can almost tell us!



The once famed HMS Endeavor, Captain Cook's ship as he claimed Australia for the British, later renamed something boring and sunk as part of the Royal Navy's blockade of Newport, Rhode Island, has sort of been found! The British scuttled 13 ships to block the harbor, and research has shown a ship formerly known as Endeavor, was sank in a group of 5 recently identified wrecks. One of them is almost certainly Cook's ship.

Via Sky News:

Lead investigator Dr Kathy Abbass told Sky News: "We may have been looking right at her without even knowing it.

"The important thing now is to get the funding so that we can build the facilities to process and house all of the artefacts we must examine to prove which one of the wrecks is Endeavour".

Rhode Island Historical Preservation and Heritage Commission Charlotte Taylor said: "It really isn't easy to explore these sites.

A print from a painting showing Captain James Cook (1728 - 1779) taking possession of New South Wales Captain Cook takes possession of New South Wales

"It takes time, money and effort at each step.

"Divers battle very poor visibility and lots of silt, which is hard to remove and risky to do, because it has essentially been protecting the wood of these ships for hundreds of years."

The group from the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project hopes to have found and explored the fifth site by this summer.

The Endeavour is one of the most famous ships in naval history.

Captain James Cook sailed her to Australia and New Zealand in 1768.

French tall ship heading to St George’s

French tall ship which trains young sailors is expected to arrive in Bermuda on Saturday, May 14.

L’Etoile, built by the French Navy, will be docked at Penno’s Wharf in St George’s for four days as it takes a break from a journey across the Atlantic.

It has been invited to Saint Pierre and Miquelon for the bicentennial of the return of the archipelago to France, setting sail from Brest on Wednesday, March 20, and scheduled to return to her home port next July 14.

This is the third transatlantic crossing by the vessel since it was built in 1932.

Nicole Haziza, Bermuda’s French Consul, said in a statement: “The Naval Academy’s sailing crews have very fond memories of their first port of call in Bermuda in 2009.

“Indeed, the French Naval Academy sailing crews are looking forward to next week’s call at St George’s and to spending some time in Bermuda.”

LISBON, Portugal (May 6, 2016)


LISBON, Portugal (May 6, 2016) The Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Springfield (SSN 761) arrives in Lisbon, Portugal for a scheduled port visit May 6, 2016. U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa. (U.S. Navy photo/Released)

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‘The Necessity of the Fight’ - WWII



Friday, May 6, 2016 12:01 AM


We were in an editorial meeting when our secretary, Marcia Owens, walked in and whispered, "There’s a guy on your phone who says he’s Walter Cronkite. Yeah, right! It actually does sound like him, though. What should I say?" It was indeed the man who had become known as "the most trusted man in America." He was calling to correct an error in memory he had made in an answer to a question I had posed during our interview the previous week. We were putting together our D-Day 50th Anniversary commemoration, and we thought that someone who had had a bird’s eye view of the invasion from a B-17 Flying Fortress would make an interesting addition. A former correspondent for the United Press, he accepted a late offer to join the Army’s Eighth Air Force for the bomber operations over Normandy.

Surrounded in his CBS office with a modest library and an array of memorabilia from a distinguished career in journalism, Cronkite did not take the term retirement very seriously. Above his assistant's desk the headline from a clipping read, Cronkite Cannot Say No. Courtesy L. Furgatch.

Surrounded in his CBS office with a modest library and an array of memorabilia from a distinguished career in journalism, Cronkite did not take the term "retirement" very seriously. Above his assistant’s desk the headline from a clipping read, "Cronkite Cannot Say No." Courtesy L. Furgatch.

At the time, Cronkite was the retired Emmy Award-winning anchor of The CBS Evening News, but he still kept his office in the iconic "Black Rock" building of CBS at West 52nd Street and 6th Avenue in New York City, which is where we met. There, immediately preceding our meeting, he was recording segments for the Discovery Channel’s The Cronkite Report. In 1962, he won the George Foster Peabody Award for his news reporting and for his popular series, The Twentieth Century. Cronkite was the author of A Reporter’s Life, his autobiography. The interview appeared in the June 1994 issue of Naval History.

USNI: How did you manage to see the Normandy invasion from the air?

Cronkite: I was going to write the lead story at the UP office in London. It was a kind of compliment to get that assignment, but on the other hand, I was torn in my emotions. Obviously, it would be a lot safer in London than on the beaches, but I did want to be in on the action. I was disappointed not to get an active assignment on that historic day.

But in the middle of the night, a dear friend, Hal Leyshon, who was a public relations captain in the Eighth Air Force, appeared suddenly at my door. He was very formal about it all and said in somber tones unlike him, "Is there anyone here besides you?" He looked in my closet, under my bed, and in the other room. Then he said, "I’ve got to swear you to secrecy before I tell you anything else." I knew as soon as he started that pledge-to-secrecy business that this had to be something about D-Day and that it might even be that day.

As we drove toward the base, Hal helped relieve me of any concern I had about UP reaction. I would be back, he said, perhaps even before the first stories were getting back from the beaches, and I probably would have, for a palpitating public, the first eyewitness story of the invasion.

It didn’t turn out quite that way. I didn’t get back from our mission until almost noon, and by that time, thanks to superb military communications—particularly by the Navy—the first dispatches from the newsmen on the ships and on the beaches were coming back.

Led by Captain Lew Lyle, who later became a major general, we went in at around 15,000 feet, a comparatively low level for the heavy bombers. With our bombs armed and ready, the flight—in close formation through heavy cloud layers—was a hair-raising experience.

Our target was shrouded under a solid blanket of cloud. The bomb bay doors were slammed shut. Lyle hoped to make another pass, playing on the small possibility that an opening would appear in the infernal clouds.

The air was so thick with aircraft, however, that he was forced to stick to the highly detailed flight plan dictated at the morning briefing. There literally was no way to get back into the queue of planes thundering toward their targets at every level in and above those clouds.

Then, we did the almost unthinkable. We returned to base in England with our bombs still on board. Despite terrible visibility in intensifying fog, we wended our way through the traffic jam of bombers coming and going and landed without incident. But the exercise with that load of explosives was no picnic. With the light flak and absence of enemy fighters, there were no battle casualties.

Cronkite appears here late in World War II, posing with the crew of a B-17 Flying Fortress in occupied France. He was a naval correspondent for the United Press until signing on to cover the Army's Eighth Air Force. Courtesy W. Cronkite.

Cronkite appears here late in World War II, posing with the crew of a B-17 Flying Fortress in occupied France. He was a naval correspondent for the United Press until signing on to cover the Army’s Eighth Air Force. Courtesy W. Cronkite.

Perhaps the greatest danger I faced was returning to my office, where my boss unleashed his fury before I had a chance to explain my mission. My story, competing with those of our valiant colleagues on the beaches, understandably saw light of day in few newspapers.

USNI: The press played a major role in rallying people during both World War II and the space program. Would you say it also played a role in reversing that trend during the Vietnam War?

Cronkite: The situations were vastly different, so much so that I think the comparison is a specious one, really. In World War II there was no question of the nature of the enemy or the necessity of the fight. In Vietnam, there was considerable doubt—reasonable, rational doubt that we should be there.

USNI: Peter Braestrup, in his book Big Story [Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1978], criticized television news pretty strongly, as opposed to print journalism. To what do you attribute that criticism?

Cronkite: I’m not an enthusiast for Braestrup’s book for several reasons. I think he misses a point. It seems to me that if the people of the United States are willing to vote and to support sending their young people—now women as well as men—into combat, they should be willing to look at what combat really is.

If they are unwilling to sit in their living rooms and see what the troops—the troops they sent to fight—are up against, they are somehow playing the coward themselves. And that is beyond anything I’d like to contemplate. I don’t think that’s what we Americans are. It is well that we all are aware of what war really is—what it means—before we commit to it.

I do not say that we idly commit to war. I don’t think we do. I think those who are involved in policy-making are rational people, and have been in most cases, but they might be a little bit wrong-headed sometimes in thinking that the expenditure of a few lives can save many. Maybe they’d better think about how many would be expended in the worst-case scenario before they get us involved.

The network anchor was beginning to sow signs of frustration in this February 1968 interview with a University of Huế professor. A week later Cronkite made his historic pronouncement that the Vietnam War would end in stalemate. He still say he was right in that, one of the few editorials of his news career. U.S. Marine Corps Photo.

The network anchor was beginning to sow signs of frustration in this February 1968 interview with a University of Huế professor. A week later Cronkite made his historic pronouncement that the Vietnam War would end in stalemate. He still say he was right in that, one of the few editorials of his news career. U.S. Marine Corps Photo.

USNI: You said "show people what war is." Is that the reason Braestrup criticized broadcast over print coverage? As a print journalist himself, he says they got it right, and you guys got it wrong, essentially.

Cronkite: Well, I disagree with that. He was talking mostly about my summary for Tet. That is the only editorial I’ve ever done on the air, other than those in defense of freedom of the press itself.

No, I don’t think I had it wrong. Admittedly, it would appear that later evidence contained in North Vietnam—now that the North Vietnamese generals have talked about the war—shows that they had suffered severely and were not capable of mounting another offensive of that nature. While that would seem to indicate that Braestrup and other critics have it right, that I was signing off a little early, it ignores the fact that General [William] Westmoreland was asking for something over three hundred thousand more men in order to put a finish to the war.

Well, we’d been hearing about this escalation of forces from the time we first sent troops under President Kennedy to help instruct the South Vietnamese Army. From that we’d escalated into this terrible mauling that the Vietcong and the North Vietnamese Army planned for us. I can’t see that we were wrong in reporting about that. If Westmoreland needed that many men to build his forces for an all-out attack on the enemy, then we were promised only another massive escalation in the face of crumbling support from an increasingly divided home front.

After our formal interview, Mr. Cronkite related the following bonus anecdote: You know, the Naval Institute Proceedings was a tipoff to one of the best shows we ever had on The Twentieth Century. We took the man who spied on Pearl Harbor for his first and only trip back to Pearl Harbor. And we barely got him out of town before the lynching.

We were trying to keep his visit secret. He was inclined to have a drink or two and got into a Japanese bar, where the local clientele found out who he was. Word spread to the newspaper, and we had to spirit him onto a plane and get him out of town.

Top Secret Assignment, by Takeo Yoshikawa and Lieutenant Colonel Norman Stanford, USMC, from the December 1960 issue of Proceedings.

"Top Secret Assignment," by Takeo Yoshikawa and Lieutenant Colonel Norman Stanford, USMC, from the December 1960 issue of Proceedings.

A Marine lieutenant colonel had tracked him down and was interested in just whatever happened to the guy [Takeo Yoshikawa]. He had found him in a successful fuel oil business in Hokkaido in northern Japan. Then the colonel had written a piece about him. Nobody else picked it up, except a bright-eyed guy who worked for us. He brought the clipping in from Proceedings, and we went right to Japan.

At first the fellow said he wasn’t going back to Pearl Harbor. He spoke virtually no English, but we finally persuaded him and got him to come. He was curious enough, so we played on his curiosity and promised him that he wouldn’t run into trouble.

And he was wonderful.

The Navy actually loaned us a boat, so we went out and he identified the ships. We took him up to the teahouse where he had spied on the Pacific Fleet.

He was sent over allegedly as an assistant to the Japanese consul in Honolulu. That was his cover. He had attended the naval command school, was a trained intelligence officer, and he was to spy on the ship movements out of Pearl Harbor. Well, he tried to get a job at the Navy yard, but failed because he didn’t speak any English, among a few other problems.

Takeo Yoshikawa, who spied on Pearl Harbor. National Archives photo.

Takeo Yoshikawa, who spied on Pearl Harbor. National Archives photo.

So he was desperate. What was he going to do? Then he went one day to a Japanese teahouse up in the hills overlooking Pearl Harbor. As he sat there drinking tea, he realized he was looking right down on Pearl Harbor. He said he could read hull numbers without binoculars and said to himself, "This is the best possible view." He went up to that teahouse every day, sat there all afternoon, and observed what ships were in and what ships were out.

Of course, we were making the great mistake of being in a routine. It was absolutely hidebound. Our ships went out on Monday and came back on Friday, and he recorded the numbers and where they were docked. That was the way he spied on Pearl Harbor. There was no undercover work. Anybody could have done it.

Friday, May 6, 2016

Dusty Kleiss: Hero of Midway Remembered


    Captain Jack "Dusty" Kleiss retirement photo, 1962; Kleiss with wife Jean, 1942 (Images provided by Jack Kleiss/Hampton Roads Naval Museum/Laura Orr)Captain Jack “Dusty” Kleiss retirement photo, 1962; Kleiss with wife Jean, 1942 (Images provided by Jack Kleiss/Hampton Roads Naval Museum/Laura Orr)

Captain Jack “Dusty” Kleiss, USN (Ret.), a VS-6 Dive Bombing pilot that served during the battle of Midway, passed away last week at the age of 100 at his residence in Texas. The Kansas native was the last surviving pilot of his kind that fought in arguably one of the greatest naval battles in human history. He is remembered for his heroism and unwavering humility in the pivotal role he played during that battle.

By Matthew T. Eng

Before I accepted my current position as the Digital Content Developer for the Naval Historical Foundation, I cut my teeth working for several years in the education department of the Hampton Roads Naval Museum. As a lifelong resident of Hampton Roads, I wanted to stay close to Norfolk after graduate school and learn more about the area’s strong connection to the Navy. While there, I had the opportunity to work with the finest set of museum staff I have ever met. One of those staff members who came shortly after I started as a contract educator was Laura Orr. Laura was a seasoned museum educator with loads of experience and moxy. It was the beginning of a friendship and working partnership that continues today.

Around 2011, she informed he that she would be working with her husband, Old Dominion University History Professor Dr. Timothy Orr, on a new writing project about about a Battle of Midway veteran. At that point, I was still a young greenhorn in naval history whose knowledge barely extended beyond the American Civil War navies and the 19th century. He was certainly a household name among veteran circles and WWII aficionados.

Over the course of the next few months, Laura and her husband traveled down to San Antonio, Texas, to meet Dusty and write down his story. What an extraordinary story it was. The museum was fortunate enough to have Dusty write about his personal experiences in the Navy, specifically at the Midway. His excellent article is included in the 2012 Special Midway edition of The Daybook, the Hampton Roads Naval Museum’s quarterly publication. I often dig back into my issue I keep in my library and read about his miraculous exploits. This particular section of his article details his experience scoring a direct hit on the Japanese carrier Kaga as a member of USS Enterprise’s Scouting Squadron Six (VS-6):

Wade McClusky waggled his wings and, in our Scouting Six planes, we followed him into a dive on Kaga, the closest carrier. This was the perfect situation for dive bombing: no Zeros, no anti-aircraft fire. McClusky and our Scouting Six dive bombers attacked Kaga. Bombing Six planes attacked Akagi. Earl Gallaher scored the first hit on Kaga. I watched his 500-pound bomb explode on the first plane starting its takeoff. It was the only plane on Kaga’s flight deck. His incendiary bombs also hit the gas tanks beside it. Immediately, the aft-part of the ship was engulfed in a huge mass of flames. I scored the next hit. My 500-pound bomb and two 100-pound incendiaries landed on the rear edge of the large red circle on the bow of Kaga. The bombs set fire to the closely-parked airplanes below deck, filled with gasoline; a huge fire started. (Note: my bombs hit the target at 240 knots, and exploded 1/100th of a second later!) I had dropped my bombs at 1,500 feet, and I pulled out at 9g, just barely skimming above the water.

A Zero came speeding for us. I gave my gunner John Snowden a good angle, and in two seconds, no more Zero! I sped past numerous ships shooting AA fire at me, so I changed course and altitude every second. I finally made a half circle, heading towards Midway. I looked back and saw three carriers in flames: many bombs from Scouting Six and Bombing Six had hit Kaga; three bombs from Bombing Six had hit Akagi; and bombs from Yorktown’s dive bombers torched Soryu. Only Hiryu, twenty miles away, was unharmed.

For his actions at Midway, Kleiss received the Navy Cross. He also received a Presidential Unit Citation in 1944. He also received the Distinguished Flying Cross for action at the Marshall Islands.

 Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu burning, shortly after sunrise on 5 June 1942, a few hours before she sank.  (NHHC Photo # NH 73064)

Japanese aircraft carrier Hiryu burning, shortly after sunrise on 5 June 1942, a few hours before she sank. (NHHC Photo # NH 73064)

On 7 March of this year, Dusty and I celebrated the same birthday. I blew 32 candles out on my birthday cake; Dusty had 100. I got a birthday call from my parents. Dusty got phone calls from John McCain, Ash Carter, George H.W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Each of the phone calls apparently thanked him for his service and his courage during Midway. Yet it is likely that he shrugged off the praise he had likely heard for nearly 70 years. “I’m anything but a hero,” he said to CNN reporter Richard Roth, “I was only doing what at the time was the proper thing to do.” Laura and Tim Orr asked him about a sentimental photo of Kleiss with his new wife Jean taken after his return back to the states. After receiving one of the most prestigious medals in the United States military, all Dusty could say was “Who would ever look at a Navy Cross with the most beautiful girl in the world doing her stuff?” Those words are still some of the most sentimental I have ever heard, and my heart still flutters every time I read it. Romance authors could not write a better line if they tried. War is hell, but love and duty are eternal. Dusty was a master of both.
Dusty Kleiss wearing Distinguished Flying Cross (Photo by Jack Kleiss/HRNM/Laura Orr)

Dusty Kleiss wearing Distinguished Flying Cross he earned for his action at Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands (Photo by Jack Kleiss/HRNM/Laura Orr)

Dusty would retire from the Navy as a Captain in 1962. He went on to work for the aerospace industry. He remained active in the community and had written or posted about his experiences on several websites on the Internet. He also made several noteworthy television appearances. Sadly, Dusty passed away last week. He had told those closest among him that he wanted to make it to 100. Strong willed and determined, Dusty did just that – one last mark on the greenie board of a life well lived.

So often we write about figures of naval history that were towering figures who made the big decisions that turned the tide of conflict. That kind of attention is usually reserved for high ranking officers, men of the WWII era with names like Nimitz, Leahy, Halsey, and King. Dusty never wore stars on his shoulders, but you can believe his character and demeanor was worthy of five stars. It is highly doubtful that monuments will be built in his honor. Dusty would want it that way. So in my own small way, this is but one of many tributes to a great American who exemplified honor, courage, and commitment.

In life or death, his story will continue to inspire generations of Sailors coming into the U.S. Navy. I never knew the man like Laura or Tim did. I can only imagine what it must have been like to sit next to someone who took part in such a harrowing event only to push it aside as merely doing one’s duty. That is the true mark of a hero. But he was more than a hero to me. He was a different caliber of human being. We can only hope to all live close to the potential of Dusty. My heart goes out to the Orr family and anyone who knew him well. Your lives have been undoubtedly enriched by the experience.

Fair winds and following seas, Sir. You are our hero, and we all owe you a debt of gratitude.

Dusty Kleiss: A Hero of Midway Remembered was published by the Naval Historical Foundation and originally appeared on Naval Historical Foundation on April

New app could ease forces' veterans access to health and social care (From The Northern Echo)

ON THIS DAY: 1982: 20 die as HMS Sheffield destroyed by Argentina in Falklands War - The Star

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Frederick Pickup defied the odds to survive four years on the World War One frontline


Huddersfield soldier Frederick Pickup survived four years on the World War One frontline only to be taken prisoner just months from the end of the conflict that changed the world.

But he then survived captivity to return to his home town and a life with his beloved fiancee, Kathleen, who became his wife.

The couple had three sons – the late Peter, Stephen – and the youngest, Arnold, who went on to become well-known in Huddersfield for running charity marathons.

Arnold, now 84, of Dalton, has always been intrigued by his father’s war service and done his best to piece it together.

Among his father’s belongings were photographs and a Christmas card sent to frontline soldiers by Edward, Duke of Windsor, who went on to become Edward VIII from January 1936 until abdicating in December the same year due to his love for American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

Arnold Pickup with his late father, Frederick's World War One medals (from left) the Victory Medal, the British War Medal 1914-1920 and the 1914/15 Star

When the First World War broke out in 1914 Edward had reached the minimum age for active service and was keen to participate. He had joined the Grenadier Guards in June 1914 and although he was willing to serve on the frontlines Secretary of State for War Lord Kitchener refused to allow it, citing the immense harm if the heir to the throne were captured by the enemy.

Despite this, Edward witnessed trench warfare first-hand and attempted to visit the frontline as often as he could for which he was awarded the Military Cross in 1916. His role in the war, although limited, made him popular among veterans of the conflict. Edward undertook his first military flight in 1918 and later gained a pilot’s licence.

But quite why he sent Frederick a Christmas card remains unclear.

Frederick was born in North Yorkshire in 1896 but the family soon moved to Huddersfield where his brother, Walter Pickup, established a successful tailoring business in Upperhead Row.

After the war Frederick joined him as a tailor’s cutter.

Frederick joined the 1/5th Bn of the Duke of Wellington’s Regiment in 1912 and was sent to France in April 1915.

The battalion was then involved in some of the deadliest battles of the war – including Ypres, Somme and Passchendaele – before it was disbanded in January 1918 and Frederick joined the 8th Durham Light Infantry.

He served as a stretcher bearer and was mentioned in dispatches for his bravery in recovering wounded soldiers from the battlefield as they retreated under heavy German attack. This was during the Battle of Rosieres on the Somme in March 1918 when he is mentioned in the regimental history which stated: “Privates Fred Pickup and William Pickering repeatedly returned and picked up men who had fallen during the retirement.”

Frederick was captured by the Germans and wrote a postcard to his then fiancee Kathleen in August 1918 which read: “My dearest Kathie, you must excuse me for not letting you have a line before now but I suppose you will know through one of them at home where I am. I am still keeping myself in good health and also longing for the day to come when I will be with you again. Hoping you are keeping in good health. Yours always, Frederick.”

He was freed at the end of November 1918 and the couple married in April 1919. They lived first at Hollin Terrace in Marsh and then in Alder Street, Fartown.

Arnold started to run long distances when he was 53 and notched up 50 marathons, 112 half-marathons and other 5km and 10km races to make a total of 434. His final race was the York 10k last August and he has now retired from running.

Arnold, who served in the Merchant Navy from 1948-1953, raised well over £20,000 and ran for many charities, but mainly the military limbless veterans charity Blesma.

He has six grandchildren, many grandchildren and lives with Gillian Cunliffe, his partner for 35 years.

In 2010 he won the Services To Charity award at the Huddersfield Examiner Awards.


Connecticut Celebrates A Century Of Submarine History - Hartford Courant

French Navy ship on goodwill visit in manila


A French  crewmember patrols the deck  of the French Navy Ship (FNS)  Guepratte (F714) at a port in Manila, Philippines,  May 4, 2016. The FNS Guepratte F714, under the command of its first female skipper, is described as a multi-mission Lafayette-class stealth frigate of the French Marine Nationale (French Navy). The ship is in Manila for a goodwill visit until May 7. (EPA)

A French crewmember patrols the deck of the French Navy Ship (FNS) Guepratte (F714) at a port in Manila, Philippines, May 4, 2016. The FNS Guepratte F714, under the command of its first female skipper, is described as a multi-mission Lafayette-class stealth frigate of the French Marine Nationale (French Navy). The ship is in Manila for a goodwill visit until May 7. (EPA)



Captain Cook's Endeavour: from the Great Barrier Reef to Rhode Island?


Captain James Cook observed the transit of Venus from the shores of Tahiti, ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef and claimed Australia for the British crown. He fought the French in the Americas, circumnavigated the world and died trying to kidnap a king of Hawaii.

But the ship that saw so many adventures was sold, forgotten and lost. For centuries, the fate of HMS Endeavour has remained a mystery.

Now marine archaeologists are almost certain they have found its wreck at the bottom of the sea – off exotic Rhode Island.

Researchers with the Rhode Island Marine Archaeology Project (Rimap) will announce on Wednesday that they are nearly sure that they have found the Endeavour, the ship that Cook captained on his voyages to New Zealand and Australia.

“We usually don’t make any announcement as we keep working away until we have something significant to say,” Dr Kathy Abbass, principal investigator, said. “We may say, ‘we think we found the Endeavour,’ well, yeah. Now I have to prove it.”

James Cook.
James Cook. Photograph: Dea Picture Library/De Agostini/Getty Images

Admiralty documents detailing the Endeavour’s dimensions have led Abbass to believe that the ship, built like a sturdy commercial vessel to carry survival and scientific cargo on a long voyage, was sold into private hands in 1775 and renamed Lord Sandwich – the first lord of the admiralty at the time. When the 13 American colonies revolted a year later, it was leased back to the British navy as a troop transport for British and Hessian soldiers, and then used as a prison ship in Newport Harbor, Rhode Island, during the war.

Rhode Island was the first state to disavow its loyalty to King George III, exactly two months before the 13 colonies formally issued the Declaration of Independence.

By late August 1778, American forces had besieged Newport, and were hoping the French navy could help them oust the British from the harbor town. The British decided to scuttle 13 other ships, Lord Sandwich among them, to stymie the French navy en route. A world away its former captain had crossed the Bering Sea into the Arctic Circle and was hunting walruses for food and oil. He would die only a few months after his most famous ship was wrecked.

Abbass’s team, working with Australian researchers, have mapped nine of the 13 sites where the ships were scuttled. Five of those ships were wrecked in an arc, near the modern Naval War College to the north and in the waters by Brenton Cove to the south. The researchers have mapped four.

A cutaway painting of Captain Cook’s Endeavour ship.
A cutaway painting of Captain Cook’s Endeavour ship. Photograph: Robert W Nicholson/National Geographic/Getty Images

“We think we have a really good chance to close in on the fifth one,” Abbass said, noting a recent analysis of remote sensing data on the harbor.

In a statement, Rimap said it “now has an 80 to 100% chance that the Lord Sandwich is still in Newport Harbor, and because the Lord Sandwich was Capt Cook’s Endeavour, that means Rimap has found her, too.”

The researchers will next map the remaining portions of the harbor in their search for the wreck itself.

The researchers estimate that their research on 83 projects, including other revolutionary-era vessels, second world war wrecks and a reputed slave ship, has a total value of more than $5.5m. The wreck of the Endeavour would probably be their most valuable discovery yet: the first European ship to land in Australia, leading to the founding of a British colony there, and the flagship of one of Britain’s greatest explorers.

The Death Of Captain Cook.
The Death of Captain Cook. Photograph: GSinclair Archive/UIG via Getty Images

Although the Endeavour was largely forgotten by its contemporaries, its later fame has led to rumors and speculation about the ship’s fate. Some have suggested the ship survived the war, was refitted and registered as a French vessel, La Liberté, and then sunk into Newport harbor in 1794. Others believed the ship actually made it back to London, and was opened to visitors in 1825, and in the 19th century a New Zealand captain thought he found the wreck in Dusky Sound, only to be proven wrong. In 1991, when the space shuttle Endeavour was rolled out for service by Nasa, the space agency was presented with what they called “a piece of the original ship”, by the University of Rhode Island.

Abbass hopes to put the mystery of the original Endeavour’s fate to rest in the next few months, and called for a new facility to conserve, display and store some of the artifacts pulled from the underwater sites. Rimap hopes to build this facility at Butts Hill Fort, the center of where American forces stood during the battle for the colony.

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