Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Good Day

Every now and then I'll head over to the Wayback Machine and pick a random post from the Neptunus Lex archives. Today I did that while bemoaning the fact that after two great weekends in a row, this weekend it's just me and the felines. So this post somehow resonated with me today.

The first line of that poem over there especially rang true, particularly when read with Brian's comment, "What if your dreams and fears existed in the same place? They do - they are my kids." That really struck home after the wonderful weekend I spent with The Nuke at the end of September.

My wife, my kids and their significant others, and now my grandkids, are really my world. I work in order to afford a place to live and food to eat. I exist simply for those times when I can go visit my kids.

Well, truth be told, my Mom, my brothers and their families are also a huge part of my world now. As she gets older I worry about her more and more. I cannot picture a world without her, yet that could happen. It happened with my Dad over five years ago. I'm still somewhat in denial about that.

Hold onto your loved ones, someday everything could change.

Some pictures from that magical day spent with my daughter...

The Sarge and the sea.

Cormorants sunning themselves on Goose Neck Cove, next to Ocean Avenue.
Be sweet to live here, except when a hurricane or a Nor'easter is inbound.
Entrance to Goose Neck Cove, looking out at the Atlantic.
A crane looking for lunch, lobster pots piled in the background.
Another crane going about his/her business.
Cormorant on watch, entrance to Goose Neck Cove.
Entrance to Narragansett Bay, looking towards Point Judith.
As can be seen by the flags, the wind was pretty strong that day.
Earth, sea and sky. Brenton Point, RI
Looking southeast towards Price Neck.
The never ending contest between the sea and the land.
Truly a beautiful day.
Yeah, I need a boat. Better yet, a friend with a boat!
The water sparkles like diamonds.
The ruins of an old mansion on Brenton Point. All that's left is these ruins and parts of the old carriage house.
On June 3, 1984, the Tall Ship S/V MARQUES, a participant in the Cutty Sark International Tall Ships Race between Bermuda and Nova Scotia, encountered a violent squall about eighty miles northeast of Bermuda. Almost without warning, and within seconds of starting to take on water, the vessel sank with the loss of nineteen of the twenty-eight persons on board. . .   A sailing program run by the American Sail Training Association ("ASTA"), had arranged for six sail trainees to crew for the MARQUES during the race. (Source)
Bark Marques (Source)
Newport Harbor, The Claiborne Pell Bridge in the background which runs from Aquidneck Island to Conanicut Island.
The Newport skyline. 'Tis a lovely town indeed.
We ended the day at the Atlantic Beach Club. A Guinness and a plate of fried clams, life can be good!

Saturday, October 3, 2015


USS Lionfish, SS-298, Balao-class fleet submarine.
The Lionfish, another New England native out of Portsmouth Naval Shipyard up in Kittery, Maine, is an example of a Balao-class fleet submarine, of which 120 were built. Lionfish is thus a member of the most numerous submarine class ever used by the Navy. The Balaos were an improved version of the earlier Gato-class fleet submarines.

The Lionfish was built by the Cramp Shipbuilding Company out of Philadelphia at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine. She was laid down on 15th December 1942 and launched on 7 November 1943. She was sponsored by May Phillips Train (wife of Rear Admiral Harold C. Train, mother of Admiral Harold D. Train II and grandmother of Rear Admiral Elizabeth C. Train. Wow, lot of admirals in that family!)

Her first captain was Lieutenant Commander Edward D. Spruance, son of Admiral Raymond Spruance. (For whom an entire class of destroyers were named, the lead ship in the class was USS Spruance, DD-963. There is also an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer named for the admiral, DDG-111. The latter is another New Englander, built at Bath Iron Works up in Maine. Bath built is best built, so they say.)

Lionfish was commissioned on 1 November 1944, decommissioned the first time on 16 January 1946 then recommissioned on 31 January 1951. She was decommissioned for the last time on 15 December 1953 then struck from the Naval Register  on 20 December 1971. She joined the fleet at Battleship Cove on 30 August 1972. She was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1986.

Here are some of the boat's* vital statistics:
  • Displacement: 1,526 long tons surfaced, 2,424 long tons submerged
  • Length: 311 ft 6 in
  • Beam: 27 ft 3 in
  • Draft: 16 ft 10 in maximum
  • Propulsion: 4 × Fairbanks-Morse Model 38D8-⅛ 9-cylinder opposed piston diesel engines driving electrical generators, 2 × 126-cell Sargo batteries, 4 × high-speed General Electric electric motors with reduction gears driving two propellers
  • The diesel engines provided 5,400 shaft horsepower (shp) surfaced and the electric motors 2,740 shp submerged
  • Speed: 20.25 knots (23.30 mph) surfaced and 8.75 knots (10.07 mph) submerged
  • Range: 11,000 nautical miles (13,000 miles) surfaced at 10 knots (12 mph)
  • Submerged endurance on battery power alone: 48 hours at 2 knots (2.3 mph) submerged
  • She could carry enough fuel and supplies to spend 75 days on patrol.
  • Test depth: 400 ft
  • Complement: 10 officers, 70–71 enlisted
  • Armament: 10 × 21-inch torpedo tubes, six forward, four aft, 24 torpedoes could be carried (10 would be loaded in the tubes, which could be reloaded at sea.
  • Deck armament: 1 × 5-inch / 25 caliber deck gun, 1 x Bofors 40 mm and 1 x Oerlikon 20 mm cannon W
The only thing Lionfish has attacked lately was me. I think the old girl was mad because Murphy kept playing with switches. He triggered the dive alarm in my ear, then I had a head butting contest with some doo-dad hanging over the plotting table. I can tell you this, Lionfish is a lot tougher than my head! (It's all better now, for those who were wondering...)

Now for some pictures!

Looking towards the bow, standing in the conning tower looking past the Bofors gun mount. The torpedo loading hatch can be seen and it's where the tourists (such as Murph and I) gain access to the interior.
Looking at Lionfish from the flight deck of the Joey P. The person aft of the conning tower provides an idea of how large the Lionfish is. Aft of the conning tower is the 5-inch gun mount.
Looking at the stern of Lionfish, tied up alongside Hiddensee.

After coming aboard at the stern, this is the view looking forward. Those rails are for the tourists. Submarines were not, and still are not, equipped with hand rails.
Port-side lookout's station. The black thing is where the lookout would stand, scanning the sea with binoculars for targets and threats. The black pipe-looking things were for the lookout to hang onto. The stations (there's another to starboard) were very open so that the sailors could get out and down the hatch forward very quickly if the need arose.
View from the conning tower looking aft past the port-side lookout's station. The stern of the Hiddensee and the stern of USS Massachusetts are visible as are the gangways used to get on board.
Aft torpedo room. No, they didn't have HD TVs back. That orange bit to the right is the nose of a torpedo. No, they are not live torpedoes. I think.
View from the control room looking aft. Note the many gauges and valves. There are many controls on a sub, all of them vital.
Radio room.
Crew's mess, I don't know who owns that cover.** Placing one's cover on a table like that is a big no-no according to The Nuke. I almost committed that sin on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Engine room, looking aft.
I thought I had more pictures, I think I was too busy "ooh-ing and aah-ing" over everything and forgot to take pictures of some of the spaces. That and after smacking my head in the control room I was keeping a weather eye on all the protrusions, levers, controls and various and sundry other items upon which I might injure the cranial unit.

That and I may have still been slightly deaf from Murph's activation of the dive alarm. (I still thought it was hilarious. Especially the look on Murph's face.)

There's more to come, the Hiddensee and Big Mamie. Battleship Cove is an awesome place to visit, especially when the weather is fine, which it was on Sunday, which it isn't now.

Oh well, that's New England. Don't like the current weather, wait a few seconds, it'll change.

* Submarines are always called "boats," never "ships." All surface vessels are known, in the submarine world, as "targets." Thought you'd like to know...

** What we call a "hat," the Naval Service calls a "cover."

Friday, October 2, 2015

Battleship Cove - The Joey P

USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr., DD-850
"The Joey P"
As a young lad when JFK took office as the 35th President of the United States I, as a New Englander, already knew quite a bit about the Kennedy family. Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. was the oldest son, the crown prince of the Kennedy family. His father had visions of his oldest boy and namesake Joe someday sitting in the White House, not Jack. But history will have her way and it was not to be.

LT Joseph Patrick Kennedy, Jr., USNR
25 July 1915 - 12 August 1944

The young Naval Aviator was killed at the age of 29 on a special mission.
Operation Aphrodite (US Army Air Forces) & Operation Anvil (US Navy) made use of unmanned, explosive-laden Army Air Forces Boeing B-17 Flying Fortress and Navy PB4Y-1 Liberator bombers, that were deliberately crashed into their targets under radio control. These aircraft could not take off safely on their own, so a crew of two would take off and fly to 2,000 feet (610 m) before activating the remote control system, arming the detonators and parachuting from the aircraft.

After U.S. Army Air Forces operation missions were drawn up on July 23, 1944, Kennedy and Lieutenant Wilford John Willy were designated as the first Navy flight crew. Willy had "pulled rank" over Ensign James Simpson (who was Kennedy's regular co-pilot) to be on the mission. They flew a BQ-8 "robot" aircraft (a converted B-24 Liberator) for the U.S. Navy's first Aphrodite mission. Two Lockheed Ventura mother planes and a Boeing B-17 navigation plane took off from RAF Fersfield at 1800 on 12 August 1944. Then the BQ-8 aircraft, loaded with 21,170 lb (9,600 kg) of Torpex, took off. It was to be used against the Fortress of Mimoyecques and its V-3 cannons in northern France.

Following behind them in a USAAF F-8 Mosquito to film the mission were pilot Lt. Robert A. Tunnel and combat camera man Lt. David J. McCarthy, who filmed the event from the perspex nose. As planned, Kennedy and Willy remained aboard as the BQ-8 completed its first remote-controlled turn at 2,000 feet near the North Sea coast. Kennedy and Willy removed the safety pin, arming the explosive package, and Kennedy radioed the agreed code Spade Flush, his last known words. Two minutes later (and well before the planned crew bailout, near RAF Manston), the Torpex explosive detonated prematurely and destroyed the Liberator, killing Kennedy and Willy instantly. Wreckage landed near the village of Blythburgh in Suffolk, England, causing widespread damage and small fires, but no injuries on the ground. According to one report, a total of 59 buildings were damaged in a nearby coastal town. W
B-24D, the aircraft type some of which the Army Air Forces converted to BQ-8 drones.

PBY4-1, two of which the Navy converted to BQ-8 drones though some sources indicate that the Navy did not call them BQ-8s. It was in this type aircraft that Navy Lieutenants Kennedy and Willy lost their lives.

In 1945 the Gearing-class destroyer DD-850 was laid down in the Bethlehem Steel Corporation's Fore River Shipyard at Quincy, Massachusetts. She was christened the USS Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. She is "the last surviving Destroyer built in the State of Massachusetts, the only vessel to stop and board a Soviet chartered ship during the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, and the last US Navy configured Gearing class Destroyer in the world" (source).

A young Robert Kennedy served on her during her shakedown cruise in February 1946. JFK and Jackie Kennedy watched the America's Cup races from her decks in 1962, anchored off of Newport, here in Little Rhody. The old ship has strong ties to New England. I had the honor, and privilege, of visiting this proud ship just recently at her final mooring at Battleship Cove in Fall River, MA.

The Joey P's bridge. Yes, that hatch was locked. Yes, Murph and I tried to open it.
The flight deck of the Joey P. Murph and I were surprised that she has a flight deck. We wondered what sort of helo could fly off such a small platform. We discovered that, as you shall, a bit further down.
You can climb up to Joey P's flight deck, so of course, we did.
Part of Joey P's enlisted berthing. No doubt Skip would consider this spacious.
This machine shop can be seen in the previous photo. Can you imagine trying to catch some rack time with some machinist mate working in there? I can't.
Looking towards Joey P's bow and her forward 5-inch gun mount. (Torpedo launcher in left foreground, see below.)
Search radar (the box-spring looking thing) on the mast and a gun fire control radar dish forward of the mast.
Aft end of the eight cell RUR-5 ASROC launcher. Manufactured by Honeywell, this launcher held 8 Anti-Submarine Rockets, essentially a torpedo with a rocket strapped to its butt.
Business end of the ASROC launcher.
An exercise ASROC mounted on its loader.
(If it's blue it won't go boom. If it's gray, get out of it's way.)
Joey P was originally equipped with two Mark 32 Surface Vessel Torpedo Tubes (Mk 32 SVTT) with three tubes each, one of which you can see in the photo above looking towards the bow. These were designed to fire the Mk-44 torpedo. Those two examples in the photo are actually Mk-46s. (I know they're not blue but they're not war shots. At least I don't think they are... Nah, no way.)
Port side Mk 32 SVTT (detail from the photo above looking towards the bow).
Joey P's stack (think engine exhaust...)
The hangar just forward of Joey P's flight deck. Home to two Gyrodyne QH-50 DASHs (Drone Anti-Submarine Helicopters). They're not that big, which is how the flight deck can be so small. Manned helos need not apply!
Placards detailing the drones. Not sure if you can read them. Need good eyes!
Another placard showing a DASH lifting off.
On to the Lionfish, where I brained myself.
Farewell Joey P!