Angles and Dangles, and Then Some

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Sequence of Events

15 to 30 Seconds After Loss of AC Power

The rate of change of increasing down angle accelerated rapidly from about 15 degrees down to approximately 40 to 45 degrees down; with full speed ahead still being answered.

The starboard controllerman on watch in the maneuvering room picked up the XJA circuit (inter compartmental sound powered phone system) but heard no conversations.

The Officer of the deck took the hand telephone from the helmsman and ordered “All stop” and immediately “All back full”. There was no response to this order, nor was it heard in the maneuvering room.

The after torpedo room watch picked up the hand phone (XJA circuit) and heard no conversation on the phone.

The diving officer ordered “Blow bow buoyancy” and the auxiliaryman responded to the order. In addition the diving officer ordered the stern planesman to shift to emergency and the stern planesman responded to the order.

The commanding officer entered the control room and was able to pull himself to a position between the ladder from control to conning tower and the control room table.

One of the chiefs fell to the forward end of the forward battery as he attempted to climb into the control room.

Holy moley.  Read the whole thing.   Especially “Lesson Learned and Action Taken” Number 5.   Drills and discipline.  Rote memory.  Training, training, training.  Not a word about SAPR or human trafficking, or Diversity…

H/T (not surprisingly) Grandpa Bluewater.

The Naval Battle for Guadalcanal; The Second Act, 13-15 November 1942

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As the decimated US Navy force limped away from Ironbottom Sound after dawn on 13 November 1942, the prospects for protecting the Marines on Guadalcanal and preventing the counter-landing of powerful Japanese reinforcements seemed distinctly unpromising.   Four US destroyers, Laffey, Barton, Cushing, and Monssen, had been sunk, Barton with heavy loss of life.   Light cruisers Atlanta and Juneau were badly damaged, both in danger of sinking, heavy cruiser San Francisco was a shambles.  As was previously noted, the fight to save Atlanta was lost, and Juneau would fall victim to a Japanese submarine.

But the Americans did hit back.  During the daylight hours of 13 November, aircraft from Henderson Field, Espiritu Santo, and Enterprise finished off the crippled battleship Hiei, and sank the smoking hulks of destroyers Akitsuki and Yudachi.

On 13 November, Yamamoto ordered Admiral Kondo to reconstitute a bombardment force, marrying 8th Cruiser Squadron under Admiral Mikawa with the remaining ships from Abe’s force, including battleship Kirishima.  8th Cruiser Squadron consisted of four powerful heavy cruisers, two light cruisers, and four destroyers.  The force slipped into the waters off Henderson Field unchallenged in the waning hours of 13 November and commenced a bombardment of the airfield.  The intent was to neutralize the airfield in order that the eleven transports, carrying supplies for Hyukatake’s starving ground forces and reinforcements from the 38th Division, could be unloaded.  The results of the bombardment were ineffectual.  The Japanese fired approximately 1,000 rounds in little more than half an hour, and damaged some aircraft, but the airfield and most of its planes remained fully operational.

Not long after dawn, the Cactus Air Force, as well as aircraft from Enterprise and Espiritu Santo, pounced on the Japanese ships.  They fell first upon the bombardment fleet, inflicting heavy damage to cruisers Chokai, Isuzu, Maya, and Kinugasa, the latter eventually sinking.

Next were Tanaka’s transports.  A series of attacks, including high-level B-17 sorties, sank seven of the eleven transports.  While most of the Japanese troops were saved, all the weapons and equipment, food, fuel, and ammunition were lost.  Instead of welcome reinforcements, those survivors became liabilities to an already badly broken supply system.

Earlier in the day on 13 November, Vice Admiral Willis A. “Ching” Lee, with new radar-equipped fast battleships Washington and South Dakota and four destroyers, was ordered east to defend Guadalcanal.  Named Task Force 64, Lee’s cobbled-together force entered Ironbottom Sound north and west of Cape Esperance, and picked up the Japanese ships on radar just before 2300 on 14 November.  Shortly after, the Japanese force under Kondo spotted the Americans.  However, Kondo believed he was facing cruisers rather than battleships, and he believed they would not be a match for Kirishima or his remaining heavy cruisers.

Kondo split his force, around either side of Savo Island.  Lee briefly engaged Sendai and several Japanese destroyers with radar-guided fire.  The Japanese cruiser bid a hasty withdrawal.  The cruiser Nagara and four destroyers actually sighted Lee’s force before they were reacquired by American radar.  Nagara and her accompanying destroyers, plus Ayanami, engaged the four American destroyers with guns and torpedoes.  Much like the results of the previous evening, the US destroyers lost heavily.  In a very short time, Benham, Preston, and Walke were mortally wounded, Gwin heavily damaged.

It was at this juncture that Kondo’s mistaken identity of the two US fast battleships spelled doom.  Washington and South Dakota steamed on, closing with Kirishima, two heavy cruisers, and two destroyers.  South Dakota, closest to the Japanese force, suffered a massive power failure which blinded her radars and knocked out her gun mounts.  She was set upon by the Japanese destroyers and cruisers as she passed, impotent, within 5,000 yards of the enemy.  As she had turned to avoid the burning American destroyers, she had been silhouetted against the flames, and became a target for every Japanese gun.  The battleship was hit repeatedly topside, damaging her gunfire control systems, knocking out communications, and causing almost 100 casualties.

However, unseen and unmolested by Japanese fire, Washington loomed in the darkness.  Her secondary (5-inch/38) batteries pounded the destroyer Ayanami to a burning wreck within a few minutes.  She had refrained from firing her main battery at her radar contact, because she had been unable to communicate with South Dakota to confirm her location.  When South Dakota was engaged by Japanese guns, Washington had no doubt of her target.  What followed was the first encounter between battleships in the Pacific War.  It was a one-sided affair.  At a range of just 8,900 yards, Washington commenced a radar-targeted engagement of Kirishima with her 16-inch main battery.  In just over six minutes, Washington fired 75 16-inch projectiles, striking Kirishima between ten and twenty times, and plastering her with 5-inch fire.  Kirishima was finished.  Her topside was a wreck of twisted metal, her steering destroyed, and she had been holed below the waterline.  Kirishima capsized and sank in the early hours of 15 November.  Ayanami was abandoned and scuttled.

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The surviving Japanese transports reached Tassafaronga, but as soon as daylight broke, the four ships were taken under fire by aircraft from Henderson Field, the 5-inch guns of the 3rd Marine Defense Battalion, and an Army Coastal Artillery battery (155mm Long Toms).  As with their sunken sisters, most of the Japanese soldiers managed to get ashore, but almost all of the supplies, food, ammunition, and equipment were lost.

The naval actions in the skies and waters of Guadalcanal between 12 and 15 November 1942 were costly to both sides.  The action was fierce, confused, and deadly.  Losses of men and ships were nearly even.  However, these battles were the turning point in the Solomons.  Control of the waters around the island of Guadalcanal passed permanently to the United States Navy.  There would be more bloody fights in those waters, and even stunning setbacks (Tassafaronga), but US naval and air power in the Solomons would continue to grow, while that of Japan would continue to wane.  The Japanese would continue to attempt supply of its garrison ashore, to diminishing effects, but would never again send reinforcements down “the Slot” to wrest the island from the Marines.  The First and Second Naval Battles for Guadalcanal represent the last running of the Tokyo Express.

The First Naval Battle for Guadalcanal 12-13 November 1942

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The bloody slugging match for the island of Guadalcanal and the surrounding seas reached its peak fury seventy-three years ago this week.  Between November 13th and 15th, 1942, a pair of violent clashes in the waters north and east of the island marked a watershed in the eleven-month long Pacific War.  Those clashes would come to be known as the First and Second Naval Battles of Guadalcanal.

The stage was set for this far-flung, savage, running fight a week earlier, when US intelligence gleaned that the Japanese 17th Army was going to make one last, large attempt break the Marine perimeter to overrun Henderson Field.  General Hyukatake, commanding 17th Army, had been arrogantly dismissive of the US Marines’ combat prowess, and entirely slipshod in his intelligence planning.  The Japanese had tried three times to break the Marines’ lines, once in late-August (at the Ilu River), in mid-September (Edson’s Ridge), and again in late-October, which was the first serious thrust, directly at Lunga Point and the airfield.  Each time, the Marines (and in October, joined by the Army’s 164th Infantry) held firm and slaughtered the Japanese in large numbers.  Hyukatake had waited far too long.  Had his efforts been strong during the almost two weeks in mid-August during which the Marines had neither Naval nor air protection, the predicament of the 1st Marine Division might have been extremely grim.  Now, after grievous losses, Hyukatake was to be reinforced for one last major push.

In light of the latest intelligence, Admiral Richmond K. Turner had taken Task Force 67, loaded with troops and supplies, toward the island.  The transports of TF 67 unloaded under intermittent air attack from Bougainville, but managed without serious losses.    The Japanese had pushed a bombardment force of two battleships, a cruiser, and eleven destroyers into the waters north of Guadalcanal with the mission of destroying the airfield and preventing the Cactus Air Force from interdicting the eleven transports packed with Japanese soldiers, supplies, food, and ammunition.  The US Navy had two task groups protecting the transports, under Admirals Daniel Callaghan and Norman Scott.  Those forces combined, along with remaining escorts from Turner’s transport group, to form a powerful group of two heavy and three light cruisers, and eight destroyers (under Callaghan, aboard San Francisco).

The two forces sighted each other almost simultaneously, at approximately 0125 on 13 November.  Admiral Callaghan, regrettably, had not employed any ship with the improved SG radar in his van, which meant that the Japanese, even in the poor visibility of the night, negated his technical advantage with their superior night combat skills.  The confused melee began at extremely close ranges, and was filled with confusing orders, hesitation, and ferocity.  The IJN battleship Hiei was badly mauled by dozens of 5-inch hits on her bridge and superstructure, pummeled by US destroyers that were so close that Hiei’s 14-inch guns could not depress to engage them.   She suffered at least three 8-inch hits, likely from San Francisco, her steering gear was shot away, and she was a shambles topside.  Hiei and sister Kirishima managed to exacted revenge on Atlanta and San Francisco, landing large caliber (14-inch) hits on both.  The riddled Atlanta drifted across San Francisco’s line of fire, and was almost certainly struck by the latter’s main battery, adding to the carnage on board.    When the action finished less than an hour later, four US destroyers had been sunk, Altanta was a wreck, Juneau and Portland had taken torpedoes, and San Francisco had been savaged, leaving her with only one 8-inch mount in action.   Both American admirals, Norman Scott aboard Atlanta, and Daniel Callaghan on San Francisco, had been killed.  Admiral Abe, the Japanese commander flying his flag on Hiei, had been wounded.

The Japanese attempted to take Hiei in tow, but US air attacks from Guadalcanal and Espiritu Santo further damaged the battleship, and she sank in the late evening of 13 November off Savo Island.   Similarly, efforts throughout the day to save Atlanta were unsuccessful, and just after 2000 on 13 November, the cruiser was scuttled on the orders of her captain.   Juneau, down fifteen feet by the bows and listing from her torpedo wounds, was proceeding to Espiritu Santo at 13 knots when she was struck by a torpedo from the Japanese submarine I-26.  Her magazine exploded, breaking her in two.  Witnesses say Juneau disappeared in twenty seconds.   Fearing the submarine threat and believing very few could have survived the explosion, the senior surviving American Officer (Captain Hoover, aboard Helena) made the agonizing decision to leave the survivors for later rescue.  About one hundred men had survived the sinking, but after eight days in the water, only ten were rescued.  The rest perished from exhaustion, wounds, or sharks, including the five Sullivan brothers.

Aside from the eventual loss of Hiei, the Japanese lost two destroyers sunk, and four damaged.  Japanese killed had numbered around 700, about half the total of Americans killed in the action.  With little in front of him, Abe might have sailed in to bombard Henderson Field at his leisure, but instead he withdrew.  With his withdrawal, Abe had turned a potentially serious tactical reverse into a strategic victory for the US Navy and Marine Corps.  Yamamoto, who had planned the operation, was forced to postpone the landings.  Furious, Yamamoto fired Abe, and ordered a new bombardment force under Vice Admiral Kondo to neutralize the airfield the next day, 14 November.   So ended the First Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the first act of the tense drama, setting the stage for the second.

Sharpening the Spear- The Carrier, the Joint Force, and High-End Conflict

New From The Hudson Institute’s Center For American SeapowerSharpening the Spear: The Carrier, the Joint Force, and High-End Conflict.

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Spill and I had an interesting hour long conversation with the Center’s deputy director, and co-author of the report, Bryan McGrath, which, unfortunately for technical reasons we can’t podcast. With a little bit of luck, however, we’ll be able to have Bryan join us again soon to discuss the topic.

I’m going to shock you, dear reader, and admit that, like Bryan, I generally agree with President Obama, with regards to his policy toward China. I disagree on some specific issues, but not the general approach of emphasizing areas of cooperation, instead of those of divergence.

But as Bryan discussed with us, and as the report makes clear, there is a vast difference between not antagonizing China needlessly, and shutting down all discussion of the ramifications of a possible large scale conflict with China, and how that might best be fought.

The David Taylor Model Basin

You’re probably somewhat familiar with the concept of a wind tunnel being used to refine the design of an airplane. Did you know that ships have long been designed using a model basin? What’s that? Simply a very large, long pool in which scale models of the hulls are tested. The hydrodynamics of a given hull design can be tested and refined. One the the most famous model basins is the US Navy’s David W. Taylor Basin, located in Carderock, MD. Built in 1939, it replaced an earlier basin built there by David Taylor. The DTMB still serves the US Navy to this day.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kzPktj-0t8U]

Strategic Messaging, Done Right

A nine-dash line on Chinese passports.   A second Navy disguised as a Coast Guard.  And the above video.  They get it.  “Strategic Messaging” has heavy doses of propaganda.  We, on the other hand, continue to vigorously deny that basic fact.  And that the most effective propaganda is based in truth.

The video above is not simply for Chinese consumption.  We would do well to understand that.  And build our Navy accordingly.  But alas, our SECNAV is more concerned with putting women in Marine Infantry outfits and his “green fuels” initiative.  And the Commander in Chief is off taking selfies and complaining that capitalism causes glaciers to melt in the summer.

We’re so screwed.

H/T Pukka mate.

ISIS attacks Egyptian Warship

Via EagleSpeak

International Business Times brings us the story.

The Islamic State (Isis)’s offshoot in Egypt – the Sinai Province – claims it launched a rocket and destroyed an Egyptian Navy frigate in the Mediterranean sea.

The IS affiliate released pictures of what it said was a guided anti-tank rocket attack on the vessel off the coast of northern Sinai, in Rafah, an area bordering Israel and the Gaza strip. The Egyptian military said it exchanged fire with militants off the coast and the boat caught fire, but there were no casualties as result of the incident. It did not mention that the boat was destroyed.

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Spill says he think’s the ship is a Chinese built Type 062 gunboat, which the Egyptian Navy does operate. It looks pretty close to me. “Frigate” is a fairly flexible term in overseas navies, and there also might be something lost in translation.

The first picture shows what appears to be an anti-tank guided missile in flight inside the red circle.  The fireball seems awfully big for an ATGM warhead. On the other hand, some missiles like the Russian Koronet have a fairly large warhead.

Other pictures clearly show the vessel remained afloat after the  attack, with firefighting efforts underway.

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Eyad Baba—AP

Whether there were no casualties aboard, well, we’ll see.

As Eagle One notes in his post, the cost of inshore patrolling just went up.

Biggest thing afloat.

We like to think of the US Navy’s aircraft carriers as the biggest, baddest warships around. And they are. But at 1092’ and about 95,000 tons, they’re not even close to being the biggest vessels around. And right now, in South Korea, the biggest vessel in the world is under construction.

Off the northwestern shores of Australia lies a field of natural gas deposits that are huge. But natural gas is difficult to transport from the fields to the end users. The only way to move it by sea is to liquefy it by chilling it to extremely low temperatures. And so Shell is building a plant to do so, while moored in the heart of the gas fields offshore.

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At 488 meters (that’s 1601 feet in real measurements) and 600,000 tons, it dwarfs an aircraft carrier. It’s expected to serve on station for a quarter century.

Gas will be pumped aboard, liquefied, stored, and then transferred to LNG tankers for transport to buyers.

And here’s an earlier look at the construction of Prelude, including some of the living quarters, which, let’s just say they’re a little nicer than aboard a carrier.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=660isW3W95g?feature=player_embedded]

The Pacific Patrol Boat Program

The Central Pacific has some of the greatest swaths of empty ocean in the world. But in the Western Pacific, there are a great number of islands and archipelagoes, many of them independent nation states. Each of these nations has an EEZ, or Exclusive Economic Zone. While their territorial sovereignty only extends 12 nautical miles from the shore, the EEZ extends 200 nautical miles. Within that zone, these nation states have rights to fishing, drilling and virtually all other economically productive activities. If Tuvula doesn’t want you fishing in their waters, that is their right to deny you. Conversely, Tuvula can, if it wishes, grant you a license to fish in their EEZ, and charge you a tidy fee, adding nicely to their national coffers. The problem is, Tuvula, with an area of about 10 square miles, has an EEZ of about 126,000 square miles to patrol. And with a population of about 10,000, it doesn’t really have the tax base and industry to buy much of a coast guard.

Enter Australia. The concept of the EEZ is a relatively new one, first codified by the United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea in 1982. Australia has long operated its own fleet of small patrol boats to enforce its EEZ and perform other similar maritime security and presence missions.  Australia also quickly realized that helping the large number of small nations to their north perform similar missions would help Australia perform its own. That is, time not spend dealing with problems to the north could be spent on dealing with local issues.

And so in the late 1980s through most of the 1990s, Australia built a fleet of 22 patrol boats, each just over 100’ in length, and get this… they gave them away, free of charge. Even better, they operate a schoolhouse in Australia to train the sailors from the countries that received these gifts. Australia also set aside money for overhauling and upgrading the boats over time.

The Pacific class patrol boat has been quite a successful design.

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Photographs taken during day 3 of the Royal Australian Navy International Fleet Review 2013. Papua New Guinean patrol boat Dreger underway on Sydney Harbour.

At about 103’, and displacing 162 tons, they have a top speed of about 20 knots, and a steaming range of about 2500 nautical miles at an efficient cruising speed of 12 knots.  They have an endurance of about 10 days.  Not all are armed (many are operated by police forces, as opposed to a navy or coast guard) but they can be fitted for machine guns and even 20mm cannon.

The Pacifics were built to commercial standards, both to keep construction and maintenance costs down, and for ease of maintenance by the relatively poor nations that operate them.

The Pacifics are beginning to reach the end of their expected service lives. And Australia has a bit of a slump in its current shipbuilding plans. And so:

MARCH 6, 2015 — Australia’s Minister of Defence, Kevin Andrews, today, issued a statement announcing the Request for Tender (RFT) for up to 21 replacement – Australian-made – Pacific Patrol Boats under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Project SEA3036 Phase 1.
Under that program, Australia provides patrol boats to Pacific island countries to enable them take an active part in securing their own extensive Exclusive Economic Zones

The project announced today is seen as a lifeline for Australian shipbuilding. According to the minister, it represents “a significant investment in Australian defense industry,” with the Australian-made patrol boats worth Australian $594 million (about US$ 462 million) with through life sustainment and personnel costs adding an estimated at A$1.38 billion (about US$ 1.07 billion over 30 years.

It would probably be fair to say this is more corporate welfare for Australia than it is self interested charity to its neighbors. Australia’s neighbors will benefit, of course. But in the interim, Australia will also be able to keep its shipbuilding capacity ticking over pending some future major programs for domestic consumption.

The new patrol boats are expected to be somewhat larger than the Pacific class, at about 40 meters (roughly 125 feet) and a bit faster, with a top speed of 25 knots. Endurance should be similar. Again, the ships will be built to commercial standards. They won’t be fitted with armament, but will be fitted for it if the receiving nation wishes to add it.