Crew of USS Richmond (CL-9)

Crew of USS Richmond (CL-9)

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US Navy Light Cruisers 1941-45, Mark Stille .Covers the five classes of US Navy light cruisers that saw service during the Second World War, with sections on their design, weaponry, radar, combat experience. Nicely organised, with the wartime service records separated out from the main text, so that the design history of the light cruisers flows nicely. Interesting to see how new roles had to be found for them, after other technology replaced them as reconnaissance aircraft [read full review]

Crew of USS Richmond (CL-9) - History

(CL-11: dp. 7,500 (n.), 1. 665'6", b. 55'0" (wl.), dr 14'3" (mean), s. 33.91 k. (tl.) cpl. 458, a. 12 6"4 3", 2 3-pars., 10 21" tt. cl. Omaha)

The second Trenton (CL-11) was laid down on 18 August 1920 at Philadelphia, Pa., by William Cramp Sons launched on 16 April 1923, sponsored by Miss Katherine E. Donnelly and commissioned on 19 April 1924, Capt. Edward C. Kalbfus in command

On 24 May, the light cruiser stood out of New York harbor for her shakedown cruise in the Mediterranean Sea. On 14 August, while in transit from Port Said Egypt to Aden, Arabia Trenton was ordered to Bushire, Persia. She arrived on the 25th and took on board the remains of Vice Consul Robert Imbrie. She received and returned the gun salute to the late vice consul and departed the same day. Following stops at Suez and Port Said, Egypt, and at Villefranche France Trenton arrived at the Washington Navy Yard on 29 September.

In mid-October, while Trenton was conducting gunnery drills in the Norfolk area, powder bags in her forward turret exploded, killing or injuring every member of the gun crew. During the ensuing fire Ens. Henry Clay Drexler and Boatswain's Mate, First Class, George Cholister attempted to dump powder charges into the immersion tank before they detonated but failed. Ens. Drexler was killed when the charge exploded, and Boatswain's Mate Cholister was overcome by fire and fumes before he could reach his objective. He died the following day. Both men were awarded the Medal of Honor, posthumously.

Later that month, Trenton steamed north to join in the futile search for a lost Norwegian ship. Following that mission, the light cruiser operated along the east coast until 3 February 1925, when she departed Philadelphia to join the rest of the Scouting Fleet off Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. After gunnery exercises, the fleet headed for the Panama Canal and transited it in mid-month. On the 23d, the combined forces of the Battle Fleet and Scouting Fleet departed Balboa and steamed north to San Diego. En route, the ships participated in a fleet problem, then assembled in the San Diego-San Francisco area. On 15 April, the United States Fleet put to sea for the Central Pacific and conducted another battle problem en route-this one designed to test fully the defenses of the Hawaiian Islands. After reaching Hawaiian waters, the Fleet as a whole conducted tactical exercises there until 7 June when most of the Scouting Fleet headed back toward the Atlantic.

Trenton-in Light Cruiser Division 2—sortied with the Battle Fleet on 1 July for a cruise to the South Pacific and visits to Australia and New Zealand. After stopping at Samoa, the ships visited the ports of Melbourne, Wellington, Sydney, Auckland, Dunedin, and Lyttleton. Late in August, Light Cruiser Division 2 turned homeward and steamed via the Marquesas and Galapagos Islands and the Panama Canal to rejoin the Scouting Fleet near Guantanamo Bay on 4 October. After gunnery practice, Trenton returned to Philadelphia on 9 November.

In January 1926, Trenton joined the other units of the Scouting Fleet and returned to Guantanamo for gunnery drills and tactical exercises. On 1 February, she departed Cuba with them, bound for Panama. During the next six weeks, she participated in combined maneuvers with units of both Battle Fleet and Scouting Fleet. In mid March, the units of the Scouting Fleet returned to their home yards for repairs before leaving for summer training cruises with naval reservists and tactical exercises in the area around Narragansett Bay. In mid-September, she returned to Guantanamo Bay for winter maneuvers.

Trenton participated in maneuvers until just before Christmas when the units of the Scouting Fleet dispersed to their home ports for the holidays. Early in 1927, she joined the Scouting Fleet in combined maneuvers with the Battle Fleet near Guantanamo Bay. In May, Trenton was called upon to transport Col. Henry L. Stimson, a special observer in Nicaragua during a period of internal disorder. She embarked Col. and Mrs. Stimson at Corinto and carried them back to Hampton Roads. Following a review by President Coolidge in June, the various units of the two fleets departed Hampton Roads for their normal summer routines. Light Cruiser Division 2, of which Trenton was flagship, operated off Narragansett Bay then, in the fall rejoined the Scouting Fleet for gunnery and tactical exercises along the east coast between Chesapeake Bay and Charleston, S.C.

In January 1928, Trenton and her division embarked marines at Charleston and returned to Nicaragua, where they landed to assist in supervising the elections which resulted from Col. Stimson's visit. She and her sister-ships rejoined the Scouting Fleet at Guantanamo and resumed maneuvers. On 9 March, Light Cruiser Division 2 parted company with the Scouting Fleet. The four light cruisers rendezvoused with the Battle Fleet off the California coast and headed for Hawaii, conducting drills en route. After exercises in the Hawaiian Islands, Trenton and Memphia (CL-13) cleared Honolulu to relieve Light Cruiser Division 3 on the Asiatic Station. During that tour of duty, she entertained Col Henry L. Stimson, this time as Governor General of the Philippines. She participated in joint Army-Navy maneuvers in the Philippines and patrolled the northern Chinese coast, on one occasion putting a landing force ashore at Chefoo.

In May 1929, Trenton'8 division was detached from the Asiatic Fleet, and she steamed back to the United States along with Memphis and Milwaukee (CL-5). The light cruiser was overhauled at Philadelphia in the latter part of 1929 and then rejoined the Scouting Fleet. During the next four years, Trenton resumed the Scouting Fleet schedule of winter maneuvers in the Caribbean followed by summer exercises off the New England coast. Periodically, however, she was ordered to the Isthmian coast to bolster the Special Service Squadron during periods of extreme political unrest in one or more of the republics of Central America.

In the spring of 1933, Trenton moved to the Pacific and became flagship of the Battle Force cruisers. She operated in the eastern Pacific until September 1934. At that time, the ship returned to the Atlantic side of the Panama Canal to cruise with the Special Service Squadron. Over the next 15 months, Trenton visited ports in the Caribbean, in Central America, and South America as the squadron conducted a good-will cruise to Latin America. In January 1936, she retransited the canal and, after an overhaul at the Mare Island Navy Yard, rejoined the Battle Force until late in the spring of 1939. During that period. she made her second cruise to Australia in the winter of 1937 and 1938 for the sesquicentennial of the first colonization of that continent.

In May 1939, she returned to the Atlantic and, after a stop at Hampton Roads, got underway on 3 June for Europe. There she joined Squadron 40-T, a small American naval force which had been organized in 1936 to evacuate United States citizens from Spain and to protect American interests during the Spanish Civil War. Trenton patrolled the western Mediterranean and waters off the coast of the Iberian peninsula until mid July 1940 when she returned to the United States. During her homeward voyage, the light cruiser carried Luxembourg's royal family then in flight from Nazi aggression.

In November, Trenton reentered the Pacific and rejoined the Battle Force, becoming an element of Cruiser Division 3. From 1941 to mid-1944, the ship served with the Southeast Pacific Force. At the time of America's entry into the war early in December of 1941, she was moored at Balboa in the Canal Zone. During the early part of 1942, Trenton escorted convoys to Bora Bora in the Society Islands where the Navy was constructing a fuel depot. From mid-1942 to mid-1944, she patrolled the western coast of South America between the Canal Zone and the Strait of Magellan.

On 18 July 1944, Trenton headed north for duty in waters surrounding the Aleutians. After stopping for a time at San Francisco, she arrived at Adak, Alaska, on 2 September. A month later, she shifted bases to Attu. In October, Trenton joined Richmond (CL-9) and nine destroyers in two sweeps of the northern Kuril Islands-one between the 16th and the 19th and the second between the 22d and the 29th-as a diversion during the invasion of Leyte. She returned to the Kurils again on 3 January 1945 to bombard enemy installations on Paramushiru Island, then resumed Alaskan patrols.

For the remainder of the war, Trenton patrolled the waters of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands and made periodic sweeps of the Kuril Islands. On 18 February she returned to Paramushiru to pound shore installations. A month later, she bombarded Matsuwa. On 10 June, this light cruiser shelled Matsuwa once more and made an antishipping sweep before conducting another bombardment during the evening hours of the 11th. Between 23 and 25 June, Trenton conducted her last offensive operation of the war, an antishipping sweep of the central Kurils. Task Force 94 split into two units. Trenton encountered no enemy shipping, but the other unit sank five ships of a small convoy.

Not long after that operation, the light cruiser steamed south for yard work. She reached San Francisco on 1 August, and the end of the war found her at Mare Island Navy Yard awaiting inactivation overhaul. Early in November, she headed south to Panama. Trenton transited the canal on the 18th, arrived at Philadelphia a week later, and was placed out of commission there on 20 December 1945. Her name was struck from the Navy list on 21 January 1946. On 29 December 1946, she was delivered to her purchaser, the Patapsco Scrap Co. of Bethlehem, Pa., for scrapping.


Here at LSOZI, we take off every Wednesday for a look at the old steam/diesel navies of the 1833-1954 time period and will profile a different ship each week. These ships have a life, a tale all their own, which sometimes takes them to the strangest places.- Christopher Eger

Warship Wednesday, March 3, 2021: Crossing the Delaware to See the World

Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection

Here we see the Old Glory flying from the stern of the four-piper Omaha-class light (scout) cruiser, USS Trenton (CL-11) as she sits in dry dock at South Boston’s Charleston Navy Yard, 6 December 1931. Note the narrow destroyer-like beam, her four screws, and the curious arrangement of stacked 6-inch guns over her stern. She would specialize in waving that flag around the globe

The Omaha class

With the country no doubt headed into the Great War at some point, Asst. Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt helped push a plan by the brass to add 10 fast “scout cruisers” to help screen the battle line from the enemy while acting as the over-the-horizon greyhound of the squadron, looking for said enemy to vector the fleet to destroy.

As such, speed was a premium for these dagger-like ships (they had a length-to-beam ratio of 10:1), and as such these cruisers were given a full dozen Yarrow boilers pushing geared turbines to 90,000 shp across four screws. Tipping the scales at 7,050 tons, they had more power on tap than an 8,000-ton 1970s Spruance-class destroyer (with four GE LM2500s giving 80,000 shp). This allowed the new cruiser class to jet about at 35 knots, which is fast today, and was on fire in 1915 when they were designed. As such, they were a full 11-knots faster than the smaller Chester-class scout cruisers they were to augment.

The Artist’s conception of the final class design, made circa the early 1920s by Frank Muller. Ships of this class were: OMAHA (CL-4), MILWAUKEE (CL-5), CINCINNATI (CL-6), RALEIGH (CL-7), DETROIT (CL-8), RICHMOND (CL-9), CONCORD (CL-10), TRENTON (CL-11), MARBLEHEAD (CL-12), and MEMPHIS (CL-13).Catalog #: NH 43051

For armament, they had a dozen 6″/53 Mk12 guns arranged in a twin turret forward, another twin turret aft, and eight guns in Great White Fleet throwback above-deck stacked twin casemates four forward/four aft. These guns were to equip the never-built South Dakota (BB-49) class battleships and Lexington (CC-1) class battlecruisers, but in the end were just used in the Omahas as well as the Navy’s two large submarine cruisers USS Argonaut (SS-166), Narwhal (SS-167), and Nautilus (SS-168).

Besides the curious 6-inchers, they also carried two 3″/50s DP guns in open mounts, six 21-inch torpedo tubes on deck, another four hull-mounted torpedo tubes near the waterline (though they proved very wet and were deleted before 1933), and the capability to carry several hundred sea mines.

Mines on an Omaha class (CL 4-13) light cruiser Description: Taken while the ship was underway at sea, looking aft, showing the very wet conditions that were typical on these cruisers’ after decks when they were operating in a seaway. Photographed circa 1923-1925, before the addition of a deckhouse just forward of the ships’ after twin six-inch gun mount. Donation of Ronald W. Compton, from the collection of his grandfather, Chief Machinist’s Mate William C. Carlson, USN. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 99637

Triple 21-inch torpedo tubes on the upper deck of an Omaha (CL 4-13) class light cruiser, circa the mid-1920s. The after end of the ship’s starboard catapult is visible at the left. Donation of Ronald W. Compton, from the collection of his grandfather, Chief Machinist’s Mate William C. Carlson, USN. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph. Catalog #: NH 99639

The subject of our tale was the second U.S. Navy warship named for the New Jersey city famous for the small but pivotal Christmas 1776 battle after Washington crossed the Delaware. The first to blaze that trail on the Naval List was a steam frigate commissioned in 1877 and wrecked by a hurricane in Samoa in 1889.

USS Trenton (1877-1889) Making Sail, probably while in New York Harbor in the mid-1880s. The original print is a letterpress reproduction of a photograph by E.H. Hart, 1162 Broadway, New York City, published circa the 1880s by the Photo-Gravure Company, New York. NH 2909

Authorized in 1916, the new USS Trenton wasn’t laid down at William Cramp & Sons in Philadelphia until August 1920, finally commissioned on 19 April 1924.

Her four-month shakedown cruise ran some 25,000 miles, taking the shiny new cruiser as far as Persia before popping in at the choicest ports in the Mediterranean, circumnavigating the continent of Africa in the process, and ending at the Washington Naval Yard.

USS Trenton (CL-11) photographed circa the mid-1920s. NH 43751

Before her freshman year was up, two of her plankowners would earn rare peacetime Medals of Honor– posthumously.

While Trenton carried out gunnery drills about 40 miles off the Virginia capes on 24 October 1924, powder bags in her forward turret exploded, killing or injuring every man of the gun crew. The explosion erupted with such force that it thrust open the rear steel door and blew five men overboard, one of whom, SN William A. Walker, drowned. During the ensuing fire, Ens. Henry C. Drexler and BM1c George R. Cholister attempted to dump powder charges into the immersion tank before they detonated but the charges burst, killing Drexler, and fire and fumes overcame Cholister before he could reach his objective, and he died the following day.

After repairs and mourning, Trenton spent the next 15 years enjoying much better luck, busy sailing around the globe, participating in the standard peacetime work of Fleet Problems, exercises, foreign port calls, and the like. During much of this period, she served as a cruiser division flagship. About as hairy as it got during these happy days was putting a landing force ashore in China during unrest, a trip to take Marines from Charleston to Nicaragua in 1928, and responding to a 1930 revolt in Honduras during the Banana Wars.

USS TRENTON (CL-11) Carrying the U.S. secretary of the navy and the president of Haiti pass in review of the U.S. fleet, off Gonaives, Haiti, about 1925. USS ARIZONA (BB-39) is the nearest battleship. NH 73962

USS Trenton (CL-11) Flagship of Commander Light Cruiser Divisions, Scouting Fleet, underway at sea in April 1927. She has the Assistant Secretary of the Navy on board. NH 94168

USS Trenton in dry dock, South Boston, Dec 6, 1931, Boston Public Library Leslie Jones Collection.

Another of Leslie Jones’ superb shots, note her weapon layout.

A great view of her rudder and screws from the same collection.

And a bow-on shot, sure to be a hit with fans of dry docks. The slim profile of the Omahas is in good display here.

USS TRENTON (CL-11) In Pearl Harbor during the later 1930s. Color tinted photo, reproduced by the ship’s service store, Submarine Base Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, circa 1938. Collection of Rear Admiral Frank A. Braisted, USN ret., who was TRENTON’s commanding officer in 1937-38 NH 91636-KN

USS TRENTON (CL-11) in San Diego Harbor on 17 March 1934. NH 64630

USS TRENTON (CL-11) view taken at Sydney, N. S. W., in February 1938, during her visit to that port. Note that the ship is “dressed overall” with the Australian flag at the main. Also note French BOUGAINVILLE-class sloop astern. Courtesy of the Oregon Army National Guard, Oregon Military Academy, 1975. NH 82486

View of the commemorative map of the nearly 20,000-mile cruise made from San Diego, U. S. A., to Australia, and back to San Diego, from late 1937 to early 1938. Cruise made by sisterships USS TRENTON (CL-11), USS MILWAUKEE (CL-5), and USS MEMPHIS (CL-13). Courtesy of the Oregon Army National Guard, Oregon Military Academy, 1975. Catalog #: NH 82488

USS TRENTON (CL-11) Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, USN, served in her as ComCruDiv Two from 9 July to 17 September 1938. He has signed this photo. NH 58114

Fita-Fita Guards handling USS Trenton’s lines at Naval Station, Tutuila, Samoa, March 31, 1938. Ironically, a warship of the same name was destroyed in Samoa in 1889 by Neptune. NARA # 80-CF-7991-2

USS Trenton (CL-11) in Pearl Harbor, Oahu, Hawaii, circa early 1939. Photographed by Tai Sing Loo. Trenton is carrying SOC floatplanes on her catapults. Donation of the Oregon Military Academy, Oregon National Guard, 1975. NH 82489

By June 1939, with the drums of war beating in Europe, our cruiser joined Squadron 40-T, the dedicated task force organized to protect American interests during the Spanish Civil War.

USS TRENTON (CL-11) View taken at Madeira, in the Azores, circa 1939. Note motor launch in the foreground. Courtesy of the Oregon Army National Guard, Oregon Military Academy, 1975. NH 82487

She was swinging at anchor in the idyllic French Riviera port of Villefranche-sur-Mer when Hitler marched into Poland in September.

Squadron 40-T, view taken at Villefranche-Sur-Mer, France, circa 1939, showing USS TRENTON (CL-11) and an unidentified U.S. “Four-pipe” destroyer in Harbor. NH 82493

Over the next 10 months, she would spend much of her time in neutral Portuguese waters awaiting orders, typically as squadron flagship with an admiral aboard. When finally recalled home in July 1940, following the collapse of the Low Countries to the German Blitzkrieg, Trenton carried exiled Luxembourger royals to America at the behest of the State Department.

Switching Europe for Asia, Trenton was ordered to the Pacific in November, and she was soon busy escorting transports carrying men and equipment to the Philippines with stops at scattered outposts such as Midway, Wake Island, and Guam, all of which would soon become battlegrounds.

By the time the balloon went up on 7 December 1941, our cruiser was moored at Balboa in the Panama Canal Zone, where she had been assigned on orders of ADM Stark to be ready to prowl the Eastern Pacific for enemy shipping and commerce raiders in the event of a real-live war.

Her first mission of WWII was to escort the joint Army-Navy Bobcat Force (Task Force 5614) to the French colony of Bora Bora in late January 1942, an operation that saw the first use of the Navy’s new Seabee units.

U.S. Navy ships in Teavanui Harbor in February 1942. The town of Vaitape is in the left-center. The cruiser and destroyer on the right are USS Trenton (CL-11) with four smokestacks, and USS Sampson (DD-394). An oiler is in the center distance. #: 80-G-K-1117.

While fast and with long legs, the Omaha class cruisers were under-armed and under-armored for 1940s fleet actions, a role that relegated them to the periphery of the conflict. As noted by Richard Worth in his Fleets of World War II:

The fleet sought a way to turn the Omahas into something valuable. Proposals included a conversion to carrier-cruiser hybrids or a complete reconstruction into aircraft carriers. A more realistic plan would have specialized the ships as AA escorts, retaining their twin mounts with a new DP battery of seven 5-inch guns, but the navy didn’t bother.

With that, Trenton kicked her heels for most of the war ranging from the Canal Zone to the Straits of Magellan, visiting the west coast ports of South America, the Juan Fernandez Islands, the San Felice chain, the Cocos, and the Galapagos, keeping an eye peeled for Axis vessels which never materialized.

USS TRENTON (CL-11) Underway off Bona Island in the Gulf of Panama, 11 May 1943. Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives. Bow view. #: 19-N-44442

Same series, # 19-N-44440. Note, her seaplanes appear to be Kingfishers

In the same series, note the depth charge racks on her stern, something you don’t see a lot of on a cruiser. #: 19-N-44438

Following a two-month refit at Balboa, she shipped North for San Francisco in July 1944, cleared to finally get into the action.

When she left Panama, she had her war paint on.

USS Trenton (CL-11) underway in the Gulf of Panama, 14 July 1944. She is wearing camouflage Measure 33, Design 2f. #: 19-N-68655

USS Trenton (CL-11) in San Francisco Bay, California, 11 August 1944. Note her large SK annetnna atop the mast. The SK was a surface search radar capable of picking up a large airborne target, such as a bomber, at 100nm and a smallish surface contact, for example, a destroyer, at 13nm. She is wearing camouflage Measure 33, Design 2f. # 19-N-91697

Arriving at Adak in the Aleutian Islands on 2 September 1944, she joined the North Pacific Force as a unit of Cruiser Division One. She would soon be running amok in the Japanese Kuriles chain, alongside other members of her class such as sisterships USS Richmond and USS Concord (CL-10), who had, like Trenton, up to that time had spent most of the war in the Southeastern Pacific.

From her Trenton’s official War History, which is online at the National Archives:

Trenton fired her first shots against the enemy on 5 January 1945 in a bombardment of shore installation at Surubachi Wan, Paramushiru. There followed more shore bombardments against Kurabu Zaki, Paramushiru, on 18 February Matsuwa on 15 March and 10 and 11 June. On this last raid, Trenton, along with other units of Task Force 92, made an anti-shipping sweep inside the Kurile chain during daylight hours of 11 June before firing the second night’s bombardment. Targets on these islands included fish canneries, air strips, and hangars, radar and gun installations, and bivouac areas. Aerial reconnaissance showed substantial damage inflicted in these shellings by Task Force 92.

Trenton’s guns got a heck of a workout during this period. For instance, in the 15 March raid on Matsuwa alone, they fired 457 Mk. 34 high capacity, 18 Mk. 27 common, and 14 Mk. 22 illum shells in a single night. This was accomplished in 99 salvos fired at an average rate of 4.95 salvos per minute, or 22.45 shells per minute. A star shell was set to burst every sixth salvo, providing “excellent illumination,” while the ship used her SG radar to furnish ranges and bearings and Mk 3 radar to check range to the land from fire bearings with correction adjusted accordingly. The firing was done from 13,000 yards and ran for just 21 minutes. Not bad shooting!

The cruiser also helped put some licks in on Japanese surface contacts.

Trenton’s last war-time action occurred 23 to 25 June, when the task force again made an anti-shipping sweep along the central Kuriles. With the force split over a wider area, the other unit made contact with the enemy inside the chain. By sinking five ships out of a small convoy [the auxiliary submarine chasers Cha 73, Cha 206, and Cha 209, and guard boat No. 2 Kusunoki Maru, sunk and the Cha 198 damaged], Task Force 92 disclosed the presence of U.S. Naval Forces in the Sea of Okhotsk and set off a wave of alarm in the Japanese press and radio. Fear of this “formidable task force prowling the northern home waters of Japan,” coupled with the increased attacks by Task Forces 38 and 58 to the south, convinced the Japanese that they were at last surrounded and added to their discouragement which led to the surrender in August.

Steaming for San Francisco to get an overhaul in for the final push on the Home Islands, Trenton was there when the war ended. Ordered to proceed to Philadelphia via the Canal that she spent most of the war protecting, she arrived there just before Christmas 1945 and was decommissioned. Like the rest of her class, there was little use for her in a post-war Navy filled with shiny new and much more capable cruisers, so they were liquidated entirely and without ceremony.

Of her sisters, they proved remarkably lucky, and, though all nine saw combat during the war– including Detroit and Raleigh who were at Pearl Harbor– none were sunk. The last of the class afloat, USS Milwaukee (CL-5) was sold for scrap at the end of 1949, mainly because after 1944 she had been loaned to the Soviets as the Murmansk.

As for Trenton, she was stricken from the Navy List on 21 January 1946 and later sold for $67,228 to the Patapsco Scrap Co. along with sistership Concord, who reportedly fired the last naval bombardment of the war.

Trenton had a string of 15 skippers in her short 21-year career, four of whom would go on to put on admiral’s stars including ADM “Old Dutch” Kalbfus who commanded the battlefleet on the eve of WWII, the long campaigning VADM Joseph Taussig, and ADM Arthur Dewey Struble who led the 7th Fleet during the miracle landings at Inchon.

One of the most tangible remnants of the vessel is the State silver service that she carried for most of her career. Originally made for the first battleship USS New Jersey (BB-16) in 1905 by Tiffany & Co., Trenton became caretaker of the 105-piece set when she was commissioned as the obsolete Virginia class of pre-dreadnought was disposed of as part of the Washington Naval Treaty in 1920. Trenton turned the set back over to the Navy during WWII for safekeeping and it was eventually presented to the Iowa-class battlewagon (BB-62) post-war. Today half the set, which is still owned by the Navy, is at the New Jersey Governor’s Mansion while the other half is on display in a secure case in the captain’s quarters of the Battleship New Jersey museum.

Silver service of USS NEW JERSEY then on USS TRENTON, 1933. NH 740

The Navy has recycled the name “Trenton” twice since 1946. The first for an Austin-class amphibious dock (LPD-14) which served from 1971 through 2007 and is still in service with the Indian Navy as INS Jalashwa (L41), a name which translates roughly into “seahorse.”

An undated file photo of a starboard bow view of the amphibious transport dock ship USS Trenton (LPD 14) underway. Trenton was one of several ships that participated in Operation Praying Mantis, which was launched after the guided-missile frigate USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG-58) struck an Iranian mine on April 14, 1988. (U.S. Navy photo 30416-N-ZZ999-202 by Photographer’s Mate 2nd Class Bates/Released)

The fourth and current Trenton is an MSC-operated Spearhead-class expeditionary fast transport (T-EPF-5), in-service since 2015.

1946 Jane’s plan, by which time only Milwaukee was still in service– with the Soviets!

Displacement: 7,050 long tons (7,163 t) (standard) 9,508 full load
Length: 555 ft. 6 in oa, 550 ft. pp
Beam: 55 ft.
Draft: 14 ft. 3 in (mean), 20 feet max
Machinery: 12 × Yarrow boilers, 4 × Westinghouse reduction geared steam turbines, 90,000 ihp
Range: 8460 nm at 10 knots on 2,000 tons fuel oil
Speed: 35 knots estimated design, 33.7 knots on trials
Sensors: SK, 2 x SG, 2 x Mk 3 radars fitted after 1942
Crew: 29 officers 429 enlisted (peacetime)
Belt: 3 in
Deck: 1 1⁄2 in
Conning Tower: 1 1⁄2 in
Bulkheads: 1 1⁄2–3 in
Aircraft carried: 2 × floatplanes (typically Vought O2U-1 then Curtiss SOC Seagulls), 2 amidships catapults
2 × twin 6 in /53 caliber
8 × single 6 in /53 caliber
2 × 3 in /50 caliber guns anti-aircraft
6 × triple 21 in torpedo tubes
4 × twin 21 in torpedo tubes
224 × mines (capability removed soon after completion)
2 × twin 6 in/53 caliber
6 × single 6 in/53 caliber
8 × 3 in/50 caliber anti-aircraft guns
6 × triple 21 in torpedo tubes
3 × twin 40 mm Bofors guns
14 × single 20 mm Oerlikon cannons

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The Old Navy: The Wreck of the Tacoma

In mid-January 1924, the protected gunboat USS Tacoma (PG-32) was ordered to proceed from Galveston to Veracruz, where an army under General de la Huerta occupied the city in rebellion against the Federal Government of Mexico. Arriving off Veracruz before daylight on the morning of 16 January, the ship attempted to enter the harbor, but grounded on a reef about four miles offshore. The grounding resulted from the fact that the characteristics of the unmanned navigation lights on the reef and harbor entrance were not the same as those shown on the charts.

After several days of futile attempts to get the ship off, most of the crew were put ashore for a brief stay until the arrival of the cruiser USS Richmond (CL-9), which embarked the main body of the crew. It was decided to keep on board the Tacoma a group of about ten officers and 50 men, in order to prevent pilferage by the local revolutionary forces. I was one of the officers who remained on board.

12 February 1935

12 February 1935: The United States Navy rigid airship USS Macon (ZRS-5), under the command of Lieutenant Commander Herbert Victor Wiley, crashed into the Pacific Ocean off Monterey Bay, on the central California coastline. The airship soon sank to the sea floor, approximately 1,500 feet (457 meters) below. Of the crew of 76 men, 74 survived.

During an earlier transcontinental flight, USS Macon had encountered severe turbulence while crossing mountains in Arizona. A diagonal girder in one of the ring frames failed. Temporary repairs were made, but permanent repairs were deferred until the next scheduled overhaul.

On 12 February 1935, the airship flew into a storm near Point Sur, California. The ring frame failed and the upper vertical fin was lost. Pieces of broken girders punctured several of the aft helium cells.

USS Macon (ZRS-5) is seen from directly below as it passes over San Diego, California, 9 February 1934. (U.S. Navy)

With the loss of helium, Macon lost rear buoyancy and began to settle. To compensate, all engines were run at full power and ballast was released. The airship began to climb with a nose-up pitch angle. When it passed 2,800 feet (853.4 meters) altitude, it reached its Pressure Altitude Limit (“Pressure Height”). At this point, expanding helium began to vent from the gas cells. Macon continued rising until reaching 4,850 feet (1,478.3 meters), by which time it had lost so much helium that the engines could no longer keep it airborne and it again began to settle toward the ocean’s surface. The descent took twenty minutes.

One sailor jumped from the airship, but did not survive the fall. Another swam back to the sinking ship to collect personal belongings and drowned.

Survivors were rescued by three U.S. Navy Omaha-class light cruisers, USS Cincinnati (CL-6), USS Richmond (CL-9), and USS Concord (CL-10), which had responded to Macon‘s distress signal. Lieutenant Commander Wiley was commended by Claude A. Swandon, Secretary of the Navy, for his handling of the accident, and he was awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for personally rescuing a member of the crew at the risk of his own life.

USS Macon was the U.S. Navy’s last rigid airship. For the next twenty years, all lighter-than-air craft were non-rigid “blimps”.

USS Macon (ZRS-5) under construction at the Goodyear Airdock, Akron, Ohio, 1933. (U.S. Navy)

USS Macon was built by the Goodyear-Zeppelin Corporation at Akron, Ohio. It was launched 21 April 1933, and commissioned 23 June 1933. Macon was constructed of duralumin ring frames and girders, covered with a fabric envelope. The rigid airship was 785 feet (239.3 meters) long with a maximum diameter of 132 feet, 10 inches (40.488 meters). The overall height was 146 feet, 2 inches (44.552 meters). The airship displaced 7,401,260 cubic feet of air (209,580 cubic meters). Lift was provided by 6,500,000 cubic feet (184,060 cubic meters) of non-flammable helium gas contained in 12 rubberized fabric gas cells.

Macon had a dead weight of 108.2 tons (98,157 kilograms) and a useful lift of 160,644 pounds (72,867 kilograms).

Maybach VL-2 60° V-12 in the collection of the National Air and Space Museum. (NASM)

Propulsion was provided by eight water-cooled, fuel-injected, 33.251 liter (2,029.077-cubic-inch-displacement) Maybach Motorenbau GmbH VL-2 overhead valve 60° V-12 gasoline engines producing a maximum 570 horsepower at 1,600 r.p.m., each, or 450 horsepower at 1,400 r.p.m. for cruise. In addition to gasoline, the VL-2 could also use blau gas (similar to propane) as fuel. The engines were reversible and drove Allison Engineering Co. out-drives, which turned three-bladed, fixed-pitch, rotatable propellers. The VL-2 is 6 feet, 5 inches (1.96 meters) long, 3 feet, 0 inches (0.91 meters) wide and 3 feet, 2 inches (0.97 meters) high. It weighs 2,530 pounds (1,148 kilograms).

The airship had a maximum speed of 75.6 knots (87.0 miles per hour/140.0 kilometers per hour).

USS Macon was armed with eight Browning .30-caliber machine guns for defense. It also carried five Curtiss-Wright Airplane Division F9C-2 Sparrowhawk reconnaissance airplanes in an internal hangar bay. These were small single-place, single-engine biplanes, with a length of 20 feet, 7 inches (6.274 meters) and wingspan of 25 feet, 5 inches (7.747 meters). The Sparrowhawk had an empty weight of 2,114 pounds (959 kilograms) and loaded weight of 2,776 pounds (1,259 kilograms).

The F9C-2 was powered by an air-cooled, supercharged, 971.930-cubic-inch displacement (15.927 liter) Wright Aeronautical Division Whirlwind R-975E-3 (R-975-11, -24 or -26) nine-cylinder radial engine with a compression ratio of 6.3:1. The R-975E-3 had a normal power rating of 420 horsepower at 2,200 r.p.m., and 440 to 450 horsepower at 2,250 r.p.m. for takeoff, depending on variant. These were direct drive engines which turned two-bladed propellers. They were 3 feet, 7.00 inches to 3 feet, 7.47 inches (1.092–1.104 meters) long, 3 feet, 11 inches to 3 feet, 11.25 inches (1.143–1.149 meters) in diameter, and weighed from 660 to 700 pounds (299–317.5 kilograms).

The Sparrowhawk had a maximum speed of 176 miles per hour (283 kilometers per hour), a range of 297 miles (478 kilometers) and a service ceiling of 19,200 feet (5,852 meters).

The airplane was armed with two fixed Browning .30-caliber machine guns, synchronized to fire forward through the propeller arc.

Four of Macon‘s fighters, Bureau of Aeronautics serial numbers A9058–A9061, were lost when the airship went down.

Curtiss-Wright F9C-2 Sparrowhawk, Bu. No. A9056. (U.S. Navy) Midshipman Wiley, 1915 (The Lucky Bag)

Herbert Victor Wiley was born at Wheeling, Missouri, 16 May 1891. He was the second of three children of Joel Augustine Wiley, a dry goods merchant, and Minnie Alice Carey Wiley.

Herbert Victor Wiley entered the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, as a midshipman, 10 May 1911. During his third year, Midshipman Wiley served aboard the battleship USS Wisconsin (BB-9). “Doc” Wiley graduated 5 June 1915 and was commissioned an ensign, United States Navy.

Ensign Wiley was assigned to the Pennsylvania-class armored cruiser USS San Diego (ACR-6), then the flagship of the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Ensign Wiley was promoted to the rank of lieutenant (junior grade), effective 15 October 1917. On this same date, Wiley was promoted to the temporary rank of lieutenant. This rank became permanent 1 July 1920.

Lieutenant Wiley married Miss Marie Frances Scroggie, circa 1919. They would have two sons, Gordon Scroggie Wiley and David Carey Wiley. Mrs Wiley died 17 September 1930 in Los Angeles County, California.

On 11 April 1923, Lieutenant Wiley was assigned to the Naval Air Station, Lakehurst, New Jersey. He served aboard the U.S. Navy’s first rigid airship, USS Shenandoah (ZR-1), and was aboard on its first flight, 4 September 1923. A year later, as Shenandoah‘s mooring officer, Wiley was standing by at Lakehurst, New Jersey, when, on 3 September 1925, the airship was destroyed during a violent storm. Of its 40-man crew, 14 were killed.

USS Los Angeles (ZR-3), circa 1929. (Wikipedia)

Lieutenant Wiley was then assigned to the dirigible USS Los Angeles (ZR-3), 19 January 1925. (Los Angeles was built by Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH, and designated LZ-126. It was commissioned in the U.S. Navy in 1924.) Wiley was promoted to lieutenant commander 17 December 1925 and transferred to NAS Pensacola, Florida. In 1928, Lieutenant Commander Wiley served as the executive officer of Los Angeles. He commanded the airship, April 1929–April 1930.

USS Akron (ZRS-4), 13 May 1932. (United States Navy)

Lieutenant Commander Wiley was the executive officer of USS Akron (ZRS-4) when it was destroyed in a storm off the coast of New Jersey, 4 April 1933. Of the crew of 76 men, only 3, including Wiley, survived.

The three survivors of the USS Akron disaster: Aviation Metalsmith 2nd class (AM2c) Moody E. Erwin, Lieutenant Commander Herbert V. Wiley, and Boatswain’s Mate 2nd Class (BM2c) Richard E. Deal. (U.S. Navy)

Wiley took command of USS Macon 11 July 1934.

On 23 September 1935, Lieutenant Commander Wiley married Mrs. Charlotte Mayfield Weeden (née Charlotte May Mayfield) in Los Angeles County, California.

Lieutenant Commander Wiley was promoted to the rank of commander 1 November 1935. He was assigned to the battleship USS Mississippi (BB-41). In 1938, he transferred to the U.S. Naval Academy.

Commander Wiley was promoted to the rank of captain, with date of rank from 1 July 1941.

USS Paul Jones (DD-230), 1942. (U.S. Navy)

During World War II, Captain Wiley commanded Destroyer Squadron 29 (consisting of thirteen Clemson-class “flush-deck” destroyers) with the Asiatic Fleet. His flagship was USS Paul Jones (DD-230).

Captain Herbert V. Wiley on the bridge of USS West Virginia (BB-48). (U.S. Navy)

Captain Wiley took command of the Colorado-class battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48), 15 January 1944. The battleship had been sunk at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, 7 December 1941. It was refloated and returned to a shipyard on the West Coast of the United States, where it was completely rebuilt and modernized. Wiley was awarded the Navy Cross for extraordinary heroism at the Battle of the Surigao Strait, 25 October 1944.¹

During the Battle of Okinawa, Captain Wiley remained on the bridge of his battleship for thirty consecutive days. During this period, West Virginia was hit by a kamikaze suicide attack.

Captain Wiley served as West Virginia‘s commanding officer until 2 May 1945.

Colorado-class battleship USS West Virginia (BB-48), 2 June 1944. (U.S. Navy)

Captain Wiley was promoted to the rank of rear admiral, and commanded a naval aviation facility on the island of Trinidad. While there, he suffered a heart attack. He retired from the U.S. Navy on 1 January 1947, after nearly 36 years of service.

Following his naval career, Admiral Wiley was the dean of the School of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley.

Rear Admiral Herbert Victor Wiley, United States Navy, died at Pasadena, California, 28 April 1954. He was buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery.

Captain Wiley’s USS West Virginia (BB-48) fires its eight 16-inch (408 milimeter) guns on the advancing Imperial Japanese Navy task force, 25 October 1944. (U.S. Navy)

¹ The Battle of the Surigao Strait was a major naval engagement between surface forces of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the United States Navy, a part of the larger Battle of Leyte Gulf. It was the last battleship vs. battleship naval battle.

Highly Recommended:

History of United States Naval Operations in World War II, Volume XII, Leyte, June 1944–January 1945, by Rear Admiral Samuel Eliot Morison, United States Navy. Little, Brown and Company, Boston, 1958.

The Battle of Leyte Gulf 23–26 October 1944, by Lieutenant Commander Thomas Joshua Cutler, United States Navy. HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., New York, 1994.

Photos WW2 US Forces


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During her fourth patrol, Borie got a radar contact on U-256 shortly after 1943 hours, 31 October and closed in. The U-boat promptly crash dived. Two depth charge attacks forced her back to the surface, but she again submerged after a third attack, a large oil slick was observed. Though U-256 made it home badly damaged, Hutchins believed the target to be sunk, and signalled Card: "Scratch one pig boat am searching for more."

Borie then got another radar contact about 26 miles (42 km) from the first, at 0153 hours on 1 November 1943, range 8,000 yards (7,300 m) and charged in to engage. At 2,800 yards (2,600 m) radar contact was lost, but sonar picked up the enemy sub at about the same time. Borie engaged U-405 (a Type VIIC U-boat) hours before dawn, at 49°00' N., 31°14' W. There were 15-foot (4.6 m) seas, with high winds and poor visibility. The destroyer initially launched depth charges, after which the submarine came (or was probably forced) to the surface. Borie then came about for another attack, engaging with 4-inch and 20 mm gunfire at a range of 400 yards (370 m).

The sub's machine guns scored hits in the forward engine room and several scattered and harmless hits near the bridge, and her deck gun crew traversed their 88 mm (3.5 in) gun and took aim for their first shot at Borie's waterline but Borie's 20 mm gunfire killed every exposed member of the sub's crew topside, and a salvo of three 4-inch shells then blew off the sub's deck gun before it fired a round. Borie then closed in and rammed U-405, but at the last moment, the submarine turned hard to port and a huge wave lifted the Borie's bow onto the foredeck of the U-boat.

After the ramming, Borie was high-centered on top of U-405, and until they separated, exchanges of small arms fire took place. This was a unique battle: unlike most other modern naval battles, it was decided by ramming and small arms fire at extremely close range. Borie's 24-inch spotlight kept the submarine illuminated throughout the following battle, except for brief periods when it was turned off for tactical reasons.

The two ships were initially almost perpendicular to one another as the battle progressed, wave action and the efforts of both crews to dislodge from the enemy ship resulted in the two vessels becoming locked in a "V" for an extended fight, with the U-boat along Borie's port side. The two ships were locked together only 25–30° from parallel. The action of the seas began to open seams in Borie's hull forward and flood her forward engine room. The submarine's hull, made of thicker steel and sturdier beams to withstand deep diving, was better able to handle the stress. Hutchins reported later, "We were impressed by the ruggedness and toughness of these boats."

Normally, in a surface engagement the superior armament, speed and reserve buoyancy of the destroyer would have been decisive. But in this unusual case, the destroyer was unable to depress her 4-inch and 3-inch deck guns enough to hit the sub, while all of the submarine's machine guns could be brought to bear. One or two 4-inch gun crews attempted to fire, but their shells passed harmlessly over the target. Borie's crew had a limited number of small arms, however, and the German deck mounts were completely open and had no protection. The executive officer had presented a virtually identical situation during drills on 27 October — a theoretical ramming by a U-boat on the port side — and as a result, after the ramming the Borie's crew took immediate action without orders.

In the extended and bitter fighting that ensued, dozens of German sailors were killed in desperate attempts to keep their machine guns manned. As each man emerged from the hatch and ran toward the guns, he was illuminated by Borie's spotlight and met by a hail of gunfire. Borie's resourceful crew engaged the enemy with whatever was at hand: Tommy guns, rifles, pistols, shotguns intended for riot control, and even a Very pistol. Borie's executive officer and a signalman fired effectively from the bridge with Tommy guns throughout the fight. One German sailor was hit in the chest with a Very flare. One of the Oerlikon 20 mm cannon was also able to continue firing, with devastating effect.

Borie's crewmen could clearly see a polar bear insignia painted on the conning tower of the sub, and three numerals that had been obliterated by 20 mm gunfire. The bow of the sub had been badly damaged by the depth charges and she was probably unable to submerge. U-405's deck armament was extensive: in addition to the 88 mm gun, she also had six MG 42 machine guns, in one quadruple and two single mounts. These weapons would have been devastating if the sub's crewmen had been able to keep them manned. Occasionally, one of them would reach one of the MG 42 mounts, and open fire briefly before he was killed. Other German sailors kept up a sporadic small arms fire of their own from open hatchways.

At a key moment in the fight, as Borie's port side crewmen were running out of 20 mm and small arms ammunition, two Germans broke from their protected position behind the bridge and approached the quad mount gun. A thrown sheath knife pierced a German crewman's abdomen and he fell overboard. Unable to bring his gun to bear, one of the 4-inch gun captains threw an empty 4-inch shell casing at the other German sailor, and successfully knocked him overboard as well.

Finally, U-405 and Borie separated and the crews attempted to engage each other with torpedoes, to no effect. At this point, about 35 of the German crew of 49 had been killed or lost overboard. Borie had been badly damaged and was moving at a reduced speed, while the sub was still capable of maneuvering at a similar speed. U-405's tighter turning radius effectively prevented Borie from bringing her superior broadside firepower to bear, and her skipper, Korvettenkapitän Rolf-Heinrich Hopmann, did a masterful job of maneuvering his badly damaged boat with his remaining crew.

Borie shut off her searchlight, with her crew hoping U-405 would attempt to escape and provide a better target for gunfire. The submarine did attempt to speed away, and Borie switched her searchlight back on and turned to bring her broadside guns and a depth charge thrower to bear. The sub was bracketed by shallow-set depth charges and struck by a 4-inch shell, and came to a stop. Borie's crew observed about 14 sailors signalling their surrender and abandoning ship in yellow rubber rafts, and Hutchins gave the order to cease fire several of them were apparently wounded, being loaded into the rafts in stretchers by their shipmates. The last man to leave the stricken ship was wearing an officer's cap. U-405 sank slowly by the stern at 0257. She was seen to explode underwater, probably from scuttling charges set by the last officer to leave. Hutchins reported later,

The survivors were observed firing Very star shells: Borie's crew believed this to be a distress signal, and maneuvered in an attempt to recover them from their rubber rafts, as they approached 50–60 yards (46–55 m) off the port bow. But as it turned out, the Germans were signalling another surfaced U-boat, which answered with a star shell of her own. A Borie lookout reported a torpedo passing close by from that U-boat, and Borie had no choice but to protect herself by sailing away. Borie was forced to sail through the U-405 survivors' rafts as she turned away from the other U-boat, but the men on the rafts were observed firing another Very flare as Borie steamed away in a radical zigzag pattern. No German survivors were ever recovered by either side all 49 crewmen were lost.

A jubilant radio report of the sinking of U-405 was sent to Card after the engagement, before the extent of the ship's damage was fully realized. Then her radio fell silent. Borie attempted to reach her scheduled rendezvous with the rest of the Card Task Group, planned for shortly after sunrise.

Because of the loss of electric power, the crew had to wait until daylight to fully assess the damage to their ship. First light brought a thick fog. Borie was too badly damaged by the collision to reach the rendezvous in time, or even be towed to port by her sister ships. She had sustained severe underwater damage along her entire port side, including both engine rooms, as the two ships were pounded together by the sea before separating. The stress of the wave action from the 15-foot waves, as Borie was pinned against the U-boat's hull, had caused damage to key operating systems throughout the ship.

The forward engine room and generators were completely flooded, and only the starboard engine was operating in the partially flooded aft engine room. Auxiliary power had been lost and speed was reduced. The most critical damage was the compromised hull but steam and water lines had separated, and most of the fresh water for the boilers had been lost, compounding the drive system problems. As a result, Hutchins was forced to use salt water in the boilers: the reduction in steam pressure forcing him to further reduce speed to 10 knots, making her an easy target for U-boats.

At about 1100, the communications officer restarted the Kohler emergency radio generator with a mixture of Zippo lighter fluid and alcohol from a torpedo a distress call was sent, a homing beacon was set up and, after some delays due to poor visibility, Borie was spotted by a Grumman TBF Avenger from Card. Valiant efforts were made to save the ship. Kerosene battle lanterns had to be used for all work below decks. The crew formed a bucket brigade, and all available topweight was jettisoned, even the gun director. All remaining torpedoes were fired. The lifeboat, torpedo tubes, 20 mm guns and machine guns were removed and thrown over the side, along with the small arms used against the U-boat crew, tons of tools and equipment, and over 100 mattresses. Only enough 4-inch ammunition was kept for a final defensive action: 10 rounds per gun.

But the ship continued to slowly settle into the water with all pumps running trailing fuel oil from all portside fuel tanks, and an approaching storm front had been reported. It would have been necessary to bring out a tugboat to tow her into port due to the poor visibility prevalent in the North Atlantic, Hutchins believed the chances of a tugboat finding Borie were slim. The nearest port, Horta, was about 690 miles away Iceland, Ireland and Newfoundland were all about 900 miles away, and the task group was at the approximate center of five reported U-boat wolfpacks. By now there were 20-foot (6.1 m) waves.

As nightfall approached at 1630, Hutchins reluctantly ordered his exhausted crew to abandon ship. The Card task force had taken a substantial risk by leaving the escort carrier unprotected in sub-infested waters. Card was 10 miles away, but Goff and Barry were close by as the crew abandoned Borie on orders from the Task Group commander, the ship was not scuttled at that time. Despite the sporadic machine gun and small arms fire from U-405, none of Borie's crewmen had been killed during the engagement, although several were wounded. But due to 44 °F (7 °C) water, 20-foot waves, high winds and severe exhaustion, three officers and 24 enlisted men were lost during the rescue operation. Hutchins reported, "Many of the lost were just unable to get over the side" of the two rescuing destroyers.

Still, the ship remained afloat through the night Goff and Barry attempted to sink the wreck at first light, but torpedoes went astray in the heavy seas. One 4-inch shell from Barry struck the bridge and started a small fire, but she still refused to sink. The coup de grace was delivered on the morning of 2 November by a 500 lb (227 kg) bomb dropped by a TBF Avenger from VC-9 on Card. Borie finally sank at 0955 on 2 November. The survivors were transferred to the more spacious accommodations of Card for the journey home.

Smoking badly from internal fires, listing badly and down by the stern, the gallant old four-stacker destroyer, USS Borie, is shown just before she was sunk by torpedo bombers from the escort aircraft carrier USS Card

USS Borie (DD-215) being bombed by aircraft from the escort carrier USS Card (CVE-13),

Crew of USS Richmond (CL-9) - History

(Celebrating 16 Years in Business)

(Not just a photo or poster but a work of art!)

These reproduction prints represent various time periods and themes. Many are vintage WWII prints.

Print size is 8"x10" ready for framing. The matte is printed right on the canvas. You can frame as shown or add your own matte. These canvas prints are made to order. They usually ship within two days of order placement.

This would make a nice gift and a great addition to any collection or Navy memory. Would be fantastic for decorating the home or office wall.

The watermark "Sample Print" will NOT be on your print.

This image is printed on Archival-Safe Acid-Free canvas using a high resolution printer and should last many years. It is also sprayed with a clear UV finish for extra protection.

Canvas offers a special and distinctive look. The canvas print does not need glass thereby enhancing the appearance of your print by eliminating glare.

We guarantee you will not be disappointed with this item or your money back. In addition, we will replace the canvas print unconditionally if you damage your print. You would only be charged for shipping and handling plus $5.00.


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Crew of USS Richmond (CL-9) - History

USS Seal , a 1450-ton Salmon class submarine built at Groton, Connecticut, was commissioned at the end of April 1938. After spending her first year's service primarily in the Caribbean and Panama areas, she was sent to the Pacific, where she operated in Hawaiian waters and off the West Coast. Seal voyaged to the Philippines in October and November 1941 and was there when the Pacific phase of World War II erupted in December.

Seal began her first war patrol from Manila in the middle of that month, sank a small freighter and ended the cruise at Soerabaja, Java, early in February 1942. She made a second patrol during that month and the next, as the Japanese completed their conquest of the Indies, attacked three convoys and inflicted damage on one enemy ship. During April-October 1942 Seal was based at Fremantle, Australia. During this time she made three war patrols, two off Indochina and one through the central Pacific en route to Pearl Harbor, that cost the Japanese war effort two freighters. In turn, the submarine's periscopes were damaged beyond use when she collided with an enemy ship in mid-November.

Following an overhaul, in April 1943 Seal returned to combat, sinking a tanker in early May during her sixth war patrol. Her next cruise had to be cut short after she was damaged in July by a prolonged depth charging. While off northern Japan at the end of August 1943, Seal again suffered damage when a hatch failed to close properly while she was diving. Though the submarine made her own repairs and remained on patrol, she made no "kills" in two attacks. Between November 1943 and March 1944 she operated in the central Pacific during the invasions of the Gilbert and Marshall Islands, performing lifeguard and reconnaissance duties. At the end of her tenth patrol Seal entered the Mare Island Navy Yard for an overhaul that included replacement of her original, and very unreliable, H.O.R. diesel engines.

When this work was completed in the summer of 1944, Seal was sent to the northern Pacific, where she made several attacks and sank two Japanese ships. Her final combat cruise, during the fall, took her back off northern Japan, yielding another sunken Maru , her seventh. After returning to Pearl Harbor late in November 1944, Seal was assigned to training service, initially in the Hawaiian area and, after June 1945, at New London, Connecticut. Decommissioned in mid-November 1945, three months after Japan had given up the fight, she was placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet. In June 1947 Seal was taken out of "mothballs" and put back to work as a stationary training submarine for the Naval Reserve. This assignment, initially at Boston, Massachusetts, and later at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, lasted until she was taken out of service and stricken from the list of Naval vessels in May 1956. Seal was sold for scrapping a year later.

This page features, and provides links to, all the views we have concerning USS Seal (SS-183).

If you want higher resolution reproductions than the digital images presented here, see: "How to Obtain Photographic Reproductions."

Click on the small photograph to prompt a larger view of the same image.

Photographed when first completed, circa mid-1938.

Courtesy of the Electric Boat Company, Groton, Connecticut.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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Off Provincetown, Massachusetts, during her trials, 5 March 1938.

Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

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Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

Off Provincetown, Massachusetts, during her trials, 5 March 1938.

Photograph from the Bureau of Ships Collection in the U.S. National Archives.

Online Image: 59KB 740 x 620 pixels

Reproductions of this image may also be available through the National Archives photographic reproduction system.

View of Navy personnel and civilians standing on and by the submarine's fairwater, as she was delivered to the Naval Submarine Base, New London, by her builders, the Electric Boat Company of Groton, Connecticut, circa April 1937.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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At Tampa, Florida, 20 July 1938.
Montage of photographs by Robertson & Fresh, Tampa, showing the ship, her officers and her crew.
Among the officers seen in the upper left are Seal 's Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Commander Karl G. Hensel, and Ensigns B.C. Hills and F.E. Brown.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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USS Stingray (SS-186), foreground

Operating in formation with other submarines, during Battle Force exercises, circa 1939.
The other three submarines are (from left to right): Seal (SS-183) Salmon (SS-182) and Sturgeon (SS-187).

Collection of Vice Admiral George C. Dyer, USN (Retired).

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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USS Stingray (SS-186), foreground

Submerging in formation with other submarines, during Battle Force exercises, circa 1939.
USS Sturgeon (SS-187) is immediately beyond Stingray , with the wakes further in the distance probably belonging to USS Seal (SS-183) and USS Salmon (SS-182).

Collection of Vice Admiral George C. Dyer, USN (Retired).

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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USS Stingray (SS-186), foreground

Surfacing in formation with other submarines, during Battle Force exercises, circa 1939.
The other three submarines are (from left to right): Seal (SS-183) Salmon (SS-182) and Sturgeon (SS-187).

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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Panoramic photograph of the ship moored at Bouy 19, San Diego harbor, California, in 1940, with eleven submarines alongside. Submarines are (from left to right): Salmon (SS-182) Seal (SS-183) Stingray (SS-186) Perch (SS-176) Pollack (SS-180) Cachalot (SS-170) Cuttlefish (SS-171) Skipjack (SS-184) Sturgeon (SS-187) Snapper (SS-185) and Sargo (SS-188). SS-182 through SS-187 were members of Submarine Division 15, commanded by R.W. Christie.
USS Richmond (CL-9), flagship of the Submarine Force, is in the right distance.

Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute. James C. Fahey Collection.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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Submarines in San Diego harbor, California, 1940

Moored alongside USS Holland (AS-3), from which the photograph was taken, the submarines are (from left to right): Salmon (SS-182) Seal (SS-183) Pickerel (SS-177) Plunger (SS-179) Snapper (SS-185) and Permit (SS-178).
Note the small motor boats, of the type carried by fleet submarines prior to World War II.
One of the men standing on Salmon 's deck is Yeoman Clayton Johnson, who in 1969 was a Commander serving at the Naval History Division.
USS Enterprise (CV-6) is in the distance, tied up at Naval Air Station, North Island.

Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute. James C. Fahey Collection.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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Backing clear of a nest of submarines, alongside their tender in San Diego harbor, California, in 1940. Other identifiable submarines present are:
Salmon (SS-182)
Seal (SS-183) and
Stingray (SS-186).

Courtesy of the U.S. Naval Institute. James C. Fahey Collection.

U.S. Naval Historical Center Photograph.

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Aerial view, looking west, with the supply depot in upper center, 13 October 1941. Part of the Submarine Base is at lower left the Navy Yard is in the upper left and Ford Island is in the top right.
See Photo # 80-G-451131 (complete caption) for identification of some of the ships present.

Flight Stories

In the Spring of 1924, the United States had set out with its fleet of Douglas World Cruisers, hoping to become the first nation to achieve a flight around the globe. Seeing the successful progress of the Americans, the Italians soon sent forth their own challenge — the pride of Italy would rest on the shoulders of Antonio Locatelli, one of that nation’s greatest pilots and a member of the Italian Parliament. Yet Locatelli’s effort would come to an end in the water, his life and the lives of his crew saved not by providence but by an American Naval cruiser in the storm-rocked seas off the coast of Iceland after four harrowing days adrift.

Locatelli Sets Out

By 1924, aviation’s relentless advance had spanned continents and crossed oceans — the greatest challenge remained to be the first to fly around the world. Sadly for Italy, it appeared that America was far ahead with its three Douglas World Cruisers — “Chicago”, “New Orleans” and “Boston”. The Americans had set out from Seattle, Washington, on April 6, and flown westward to the Aleutian Islands. They had crossed the Pacific by the Bering Strait and by June 3 they were in Kagoshima, Japan. They reached Calcutta, India, on June 30 and then Constantinople (now Istanbul), Turkey, on July 11. Bypassing Italy, they flew across Europe and arrived in London, England, on July 16. There, they had to wait while the US Navy deployed ships in a picket line across the Atlantic to support any planes that might run into trouble.

With the pride of Italy at stake, Antonio Locatelli chose to fly in a lone, unsupported aircraft, a German-designed Dornier J Wal flying boat with a pair of Rolls-Royce Eagle engines. The plane had been built in Italy in the shipyard at Marina di Pisa. It was sleeker and faster than the American biplanes but even so, Italy was the underdog in the race. More critically, the Italians didn’t have the resources to match the American effort. Undaunted, Locatelli set out from the Marina di Pisa in a desperate attempt to catch up. He departed at dawn on July 25, 1924. With Locatelli were two copilots, Lieutenant Crosio and Lieutenant Marescalchi, and two flight engineers, Braccini and Falcinelli. They proceeded past Saint Raphael, then onward to Ouchy and to Strasbourg in Alsace-Lorraine. Meanwhile, the Americans stopped at Brough, England, to change their planes’ wheels for ocean-going floats. Then they flew to Kirkwall in the Orkney Islands in preparation for their crossing of the eastern Atlantic to Hornafjord, Iceland.

The Flights to Iceland

The Douglas World Cruiser “New Orleans” made the flight to Iceland on August 2. Then came the “Chicago” and the “Boston”, departing together on August 3. However, the “Boston” lost oil pressure in its engine and was forced down in the open seas at 3° 28′ W x 60° 40′ N. By dawn on August 4th, the plane was swamped and capsized alongside the US Naval cruiser, the USS Richmond. It was given up for lost and allowed to sink. The remaining two Douglas World Cruisers proceeded to Reykjavik, Iceland. There, they awaited the positioning ahead of supplies by the Danish ship, Gertrud Rask, to Angmasalik, Greenland. However, the Danish ship would find the harbor blocked with ice, forcing the Americans to select another destination in Greenland. Days would pass as the American planes waited at Reykjavik. Finally, Locatelli was able to catch them after passing through Rotterdam in the Netherlands, crossing the English Channel and landing to Hull in England. From there, he proceeded to Stromness in the Orkney Islands. Then Locatelli flew across the open sea to the Danish Faroe Islands (the Færøerne) before making the flight to Reykjavik, Iceland.

Locatelli’s Dornier J Wal at Rotterdam, the Netherlands.

Locatelli Catches Up to the Americans

On August 17, Lt. L.P. Arnold, the mechanic for the Douglas World Cruiser “Chicago” reported: “In preparation for the long jump more gasoline was put aboard both planes this morning. The ships today were moving to positions along the new route and by morning all should be in readiness — that is all but the weather & we can hope for that. About noon Locatelli arrived in a keen looking flying boat — monoplane type with twin motors.” With Antonio Locatelli’s arrival, if the Americans gave permission, he could even fly along with them on the upcoming flight to Greenland, the most dangerous portion of the crossing. The US Chief of the Army’s Air Service, General Patrick, gave approval and on August 19, the Americans dined with Locatelli and his copilots, enjoying the conversation and getting to know the Italian flyer.

Meanwhile, US Navy deployed its ships in a line ahead — USS Richmond was on station 90 miles out, then the USS Reid #292, another 115 miles beyond that. Then came USS Billingsby #293 further on another 140 miles and USS Barrey another 150 miles beyond. The planes would then fly over the USS Raleigh 160 miles further on before reaching the Greenland coast 70 miles on. From there, they would fly just 60 miles more to land at Fredriksdal, Greenland. If anything went wrong with the airplanes, they could hopefully alight close to one of the ships for a rapid pick-up.

USS Richmond (CL-9) underway during speed trials in 1923, one year prior to the Locatelli rescue. Photo Credit: Library of Congress

The Bold Aviators Leave Iceland

On the morning of August 21, the weather reports were finally favorable for the flight. The two American Douglas World Cruisers departed Reykjavik along with Locatelli’s Dornier Wal. However, soon after take off, rather than accompanying the American planes, Locatelli would instead speed ahead in the faster Dornier. Soon, he had disappeared into the distance. The Americans flew onward and for the first 500 miles, the weather was ideal. Then, as the planes passed the USS Barrey, they received a signal for fog ahead. Shortly afterward, they flew into worsening weather. Visibility dropped. Then they flew into heavy storms. They missed seeing the USS Raleigh because they were flying low over the water, dodging around icebergs amidst the storms. Then the two Douglas World Cruisers lost sight of one another. Individually, they each reached the coast of Greenland and proceeded to Fredriksdal, where the Danish cruiser, Island Falk, churned out a column of smoke from its boilers to help guide the planes in. The two Douglas World Cruisers landed 50 minutes apart and were dismayed to learn that there was no sign of Antonio Locatelli, his plane or crew, who should have preceded them in.

On Friday, August 22, Lt. L.P. Arnold, the mechanic of “Chicago” recorded in his logbook: “As yet no word has been received from Locatelli — boats from the Island Falk have been sent to the north & south & rumor has it that a plane was heard passing shortly after our arrival. So perhaps we will have definite information.” Then on Saturday, August 23, Arnold would write more: “All day we expected to hear something from Locatelli but no news came at all — our guess being that he is somewhere on, or near, the eastern coast.” Likewise, Sunday, August 24, would bear no news — the situation for Locatelli was now recognized to be quite desperate.

Finally, on Monday, August 25, 1924, (88 years ago today), there was word — Locatelli and his crew had been sighted in the water after four days adrift. As Arnold wrote it: “Good news greeted us first thing this morning — it being that at midnight the Richmond had picked up Locatelli & his crew — 90 miles east of Cape Farewell. His plane was sunk & perhaps we, better than anyone else, can appreciate how he feels regarding that & also how he feels in having been picked up after drifting so long in a section of the world where boats so seldom travel.”

Cover of a book about Antonio Locatelli’s life, published in Italy.

Locatelli Crosses the Atlantic to Reach the USA.

Antonio Locatelli and his flight crew would be guests on board the USS Richmond for some time. The cruiser would dash eastward to take station between Greenland and Canada in support of the American flight, which was waiting at the jump-off point of Ivigut, Greenland. Finally, on August 31, 1924, the Richmond would greet the DWC “New Orleans” when it set down alongside with engine trouble. While repairs were made, the Americans met with their dashing Italian pilot friend once again, if only briefly before departing for the Canadian shores.

In the end, Antonio Locatelli would cross the Atlantic in 1924, but it would be courtesy of the US Navy. The Italians would shoulder the loss of Locatelli’s plane and take the news as a renewed challenge. As for the American planes, they finally reached Seattle on September 28 and thus completed the world’s first aerial circumnavigation. For his part, Antonio Locatelli returned to Italy with a burning desire to press for a better planned and better supported demonstration Italy’s aviation prowess — this time in an Italian design.

But that is another story….

One More Bit of Aviation Trivia

It is amazing how aviation history is often peppered with myths and half-truths. Most people think that Charles Lindbergh was the first to fly across the Atlantic Ocean. He wasn’t — indeed, the Douglas World Cruisers would not only cross the Atlantic, but indeed also the Pacific, all of Asia and Europe — all of that happening three years before Lindbergh would even take off! There were others too who preceded Lindbergh as well. Why was Lindbergh so popular? It was because he flew the Atlantic in competition for the well-publicized Orteig Prize, a $25,000 sum put up to the first aviator to link New York and Paris — and he did it NON-STOP. That was the key. Lindbergh’s famous flight had him aloft for 30 hours, alone in the cockpit of a single engine airplane before reaching Paris. He was a brave man indeed.

Today’s Aviation Trivia Question

In what year and in what airplane would Antonio Locatelli make good on his promise to conquer the Atlantic crossing for Italy?

Civil life (1944-2001) [ edit | edit source ]

After his retirement from the Navy Best moved to Santa Monica, California, where he lived for the rest of his life. After discharge from the hospital, Best worked in a small research division of the Douglas Aircraft Corporation. This division became part of the Rand Corporation in December 1948, where Best headed the security department until his retirement in March 1975. ⎘] He died in October 2001 and was buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Best was married and had a daughter - Barbara Ann Llewellyn and a son - Richard Halsey Best II. ⎙]

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