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  1. So I am just wondering where the dipping of ESWS pins in saltwater started? What is the meaning behind this?
  2. Shortly after the American Civil War broke out in 1861, the Confederacy began constructing an ironclad ram upon the hull of USS Merrimack which had been partially burned and then sunken by Federal troops before it was captured by forces loyal to the Commonwealth of Virginia. Nearly concurrently, the United States Congress had recommended in August 1861 that armored ships be built for the American Navy. Ericsson still had a dislike for the U.S. Navy, but he was nevertheless convinced by Lincoln's hard-working Secretary of the Navy Gideon Welles, and Cornelius Scranton Bushnell to submit an ironclad ship design to them. Ericsson later presented drawings of USS Monitor, a novel design of armored ship which included a rotating turret housing a pair of large cannons. Despite controversy over the unique design, based on Swedish lumber rafts, the keel was eventually laid down and the ironclad was launched on March 6, 1862. The ship went from plans to launch in approximately 100 days, an amazing achievement. On March 8, the former USS Merrimack, rechristened CSS Virginia, was wreaking havoc on the wooden Union Blockading Squadron in Virginia, sinking the USS Congress and USS Cumberland. The Monitor appeared the next day, initiating the first battle between ironclad warships on March 9, 1862 at Hampton Roads, Virginia. The battle ended in a tactical stalemate between the two ironclad warships, neither of which appeared capable of sinking the other, but strategically saved the remaining Union fleet from defeat. After this, numerous monitors were built for the Union, including twin turret versions, and contributed greatly to the naval victory of the Union over the rebellious states. Despite their low draft and subsequent problems in navigating in high seas, many basic design elements of the Monitor class were copied in future warships by other designers and navies. The rotating turret in particular is considered one of the greatest technological advances in naval history, still found on warships today. Later Ericsson designed other naval vessels and weapons, including a type of torpedo and a destoryer, a torpedo boat that could fire a cannon from an underwater port. He also provided some technical support for John Philip Holland in his early submarine experiments. In the book Contributions to the Centennial Exhibition (1877, reprinted 1976) he presented his "sun engines", which collected solar heat for a hot air engine. One of these designs earned Ericsson additional income after being converted to work as a methane gas engine.
  3. In modern language, a 'torpedo' is an underwater self-propelled explosive,—but historically, the term also applied to primitive naval mines. These were used on an ad hoc basis during the early modern period up to the late 19th century. Early spar torpedoes were created by the Dutchman Cordnelius Drebbel in the employ of King James I of England; he attached explosives to the end of a beam affixed to one of his own submarines and they were used (to little effect) during the English expeditions to La Rochelle in 1626. An early submarine, the Turtle, attempted to lay a bomb with a timed fuse on the hull of HMS Eagle, but failed in the attempt. In 1800, the American inventor Robert Fulton, while working in France, coined the term torpedo in reference to the explosive charges he outfitted his submarine Nautilus with, which he then offered to the French government and British government, both of whom were uninterested. Torpedoes were used by the Russian Empire during the Crimean War in 1855 against British warships in the Gulf of Finland. They used an early form of chemical detonator. During the American Civil Ware, the term torpedo was used for what is today called a contact mine, floating on or below the water surface using an air-filled demijohn or similar flotation device. These devices were very primitive, and were apt to prematurely explode. They would be detonated on contact with the ship, or after a set time, although electrical detonators were also occasionally used. The USS CAIRO was the first warship to be sunk on 1862 by an electrically detonated mine. Spar torpedoes were also used; an explosive device was mounted at the end of a spar up to 30 feet (9.1 m) long projecting forward underwater from the bow of the attacking vessel, which would then ram the opponent with the explosives. These were used by the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley to sink the USS HOUSATONIC although the weapon was apt to cause as much harm to its user as to its target.
  4. "Any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction, I served in the United States Navy," wrote President John F. Kennedy in August 1963. A former naval officer, Kennedy was born in Brookline, Massachusetts on 29 May 1917 to Rose and Joseph P. Kennedy. After attending public schools in Brookline, Kennedy went on to The Choate School in Wallingford, Connecticut, and attended the London School of Economics from 1935 to 1936. Kennedy graduated cum laude from Harvard University in 1940 and began graduate school at Stanford University. Despite having a bad back, Kennedy was able to join the U.S. Navy through the help of Captain Alan Kirk, the Director, Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) who had been the Naval Attache in London when Joseph Kennedy was the Ambassador. In October 1941, Kennedy was appointed an Ensign in the U.S. Naval Reserve and joined the staff of the Office of Naval Intelligence. The office, for which Kennedy worked, prepared intelligence bulletins and briefing information for the Secretary of the Navy and other top officials. On 15 January 1942, he was assigned to an ONI field office the Sixth Naval District in Charleston, South Carolina. After spending most of April and May at Naval Hospitals at Charleston and at Chelsea, Massachusetts, Kennedy attended Naval Reserve Officers Training School at Northwestern University in Chicago, Illinois, from 27 July through 27 September. After completing this training, Kennedy entered the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center, Melville, Rhode Island. On 10 October, he was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant, Junior Grade. Upon completing his training 2 December, he was ordered to the training squadron, Motor Torpedo Squadron FOUR, for duty as the Commanding Officer of a motor torpedo boat, PT 101, a 78- foot Higgins boat. In January 1943, PT 101 with four other boats was ordered to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron FOURTEEN, which was assigned to Panama. Seeking combat duty, Kennedy transferred on 23 February as a replacement officer to Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron TWO, which was based at Tulagi Island in the Solomons. Traveling to the Pacific on USS Rochambeau, Kennedy arrived at Tulagi on 14 April and took command of PT 109 on 23 April 1943. On 30 May, several PT boats, including PT 109 were ordered to the Russell Islands, in preparation for the invasion of New Georgia. After the invasion of Rendova, PT 109 moved to Lumbari. From that base PT boats conducted nightly operations to interdict the heavy Japanese barge traffic resupplying the Japanese garrisons in New Georgia and to patrol the Ferguson and Blackett Straits near the islands of Kolumbangara, Gizo, and Vella-Lavella in order to sight and to give warning when the Japanese Tokyo Express warships came into the straits to assault U.S. forces in the New Georgia-Rendova area. PT 109 commanded by Kennedy with executive officer, Ensign Leonard Jay Thom, and ten enlisted men was one of the fifteen boats sent out on patrol on the night of 1-2 August 1943 to intercept Japanese warships in the straits. A friend of Kennedy, Ensign George H. R. Ross, whose ship was damaged, joined Kennedy's crew that night. The PT boat was creeping along to keep the wake and noise to a minimum in order to avoid detection. Around 0200 with Kennedy at the helm, the Japanese destroyer Amagiri traveling at 40 knots cut PT 109 in two in ten seconds. Although the Japanese destroyer had not realized that their ship had struck an enemy vessel, the damage to PT 109 was severe. At the impact, Kennedy was thrown into the cockpit where he landed on his bad back. As Amagiri steamed away, its wake doused the flames on the floating section of PT 109 to which five Americans clung: Kennedy, Thom, and three enlisted men, S1/c Raymond Albert, RM2/c John E. Maguire and QM3/c Edman Edgar Mauer. Kennedy yelled out for others in the water and heard the replies of Ross and five members of the crew, two of which were injured. GM3/c Charles A. Harris had a hurt leg and MoMM1/c Patrick Henry McMahon, the engineer was badly burned. Kennedy swam to these men as Ross and Thom helped the others, MoMM2/c William Johnston, TM2/c Ray L. Starkey, and MoMM1/c Gerald E. Zinser to the remnant of PT 109. Although they were only one hundred yards from the floating piece, in the dark it took Kennedy three hours to tow McMahon and help Harris back to the PT hulk. Unfortunately, TM2/c Andrew Jackson Kirksey and MoMM2/c Harold W. Marney were killed in the collision with Amagiri. Because the remnant was listing badly and starting to swamp, Kennedy decided to swim for a small island barely visible (actually three miles) to the southeast. Five hours later, all eleven survivors had made it to the island after having spent a total of fifteen hours in the water. Kennedy had given McMahon a life-jacket and had towed him all three miles with the strap of the device in his teeth. After finding no food or water on the island, Kennedy concluded that he should swim the route the PT boats took through Ferguson Passage in hopes of sighting another ship. After Kennedy had no luck, Ross also made an attempt, but saw no one and returned to the island. Ross and Kennedy had spotted another slightly larger island with coconuts to eat and all the men swam there with Kennedy again towing McMahon. Now at their fourth day, Kennedy and Ross made it to Nauru Island and found several natives. Kennedy cut a message on a coconut that read "11 alive native knows posit & reef Nauru Island Kennedy." He purportedly handed the coconut to one of the natives and said, "Rendova, Rendova!," indicating that the coconut should be taken to the PT base on Rendova. Kennedy and Ross again attempted to look for boats that night with no luck. The next morning the natives returned with food and supplies, as well as a letter from the coastwatcher commander of the New Zealand camp, Lieutenant Arthur Reginald Evans. The message indicated that the natives should return with the American commander, and Kennedy complied immediately. He was greeted warmly and then taken to meet PT 157 which returned to the island and finally rescued the survivors on 8 August. Kennedy was later awarded the Navy and Marine Corps Medal for his heroics in the rescue of the crew of PT 109, as well as the Purple Heart Medal for injuries sustained in the accident on the night of 1 August 1943. An official account of the entire incident was written by intelligence officers in August 1943 and subsequently declassified in 1959. As President, Kennedy met once again with his rescuers and was toasted by members of the Japanese destroyer crew. In September, Kennedy went to Tulagi and accepted the command of PT 59 which was scheduled to be converted to a gunboat. In October 1943, Kennedy was promoted to Lieutenant and continued to command the motor torpedo boat when the squadron moved to Vella Lavella until a doctor directed him to leave PT 59 on 18 November. Kennedy left the Solomons on 21 December and returned to the U.S. in early January 1944. On 15 February, Kennedy reported to the Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Training Center, Melville, Rhode Island. Due to the reinjury of his back during the sinking of PT 109, Kennedy entered a hospital for treatment. In March, Kennedy went to the Submarine Chaser Training Center, Miami, Florida. In May while still assigned to the Center, Kennedy entered the Naval Hospital, Chelsea, Massachusetts, for further treatment of his back injury. At the Hospital in June, he received his Navy and Marine Corps Medals. Under treatment as an outpatient, Kennedy was ordered detached from the Miami Center on 30 October 1944. Subsequently, Kennedy was released from all active duty and finally retired from the U.S. Naval Reserve on physical disability in March 1945.
  5. The WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) program was created in August 1942 in response to the need for additional military personnel during World War II. From the very beginning, the WAVES were an official part of the Navy, and its members held the same rank and ratings as male personnel. They also received the same pay and were subject to military discipline. WAVES could not serve aboard combat ships or aircraft, and initially were restricted to duty in the continental United States. Late in World War II, WAVES were authorized to serve in certain overseas U.S. possessions, and a number were sent to Hawaii. At the end of WWII, there were well over 8,000 female officers and some ten times that many enlisted WAVES, about 2-1/2 percent of the Navy's total strength. In some places WAVES constituted a majority of the uniformed Naval personnel. And many remained in uniform to help get the Navy into, and through, the post-war era. Ref: Women of World War II
  6. The day was a typical one for the 5,000 officers and enlisted men of the attack aircraft carrier USS Forrestal as the huge, 80,000-ton ship cut a wake through the calm waters of the Gulf of Tonkin. It was as typical as it could be, that is, for men at war. And the men of Forrestal were definitely in combat. For the first time since their ship was commissioned in October 1955, they had been launching aircraft from her flight deck on strikes against an enemy whose coastline was only a few miles over the horizon. The ship in which these men served was the first U.S. carrier built from the keel up with the angled deck that enables aircraft to be launched and recovered simultaneously. For four days, the planes of Attack Carrier Air Wing 17 had been launched on, and recovered from, about 150 missions against targets in North Vietnam. On the ship's four-acre flight deck, her crewmen went about the business at hand, the business of accomplishing the second launch of the fifth day in combat. Overhead, the hot, tropical sun beat down from a clear sky. It was just about 10:50 a.m. (local time), July 29, 1967. The launch that was scheduled for a short time later was never made. This is the story of the brave men of USS Forrestal. It is not a story about just a few individuals. Or ten. Or twenty. Or fifty. It is the story of hundreds of officers and enlisted men who were molded by disaster into a single cohesive force determined to accomplish one mission: Save their ship and their shipmates. It is the story of the acts of heroism they performed-acts so commonplace, accomplished with such startling regularity, that it will be impossible to chronicle all of them. It will be impossible for a very simple reason:All of them will never be known. Lt. Cmdr. Robert "Bo" Browning one of the pilots due for launch with many others, he was seated in the cockpit of his fueled and armed Skyhawk; the plane was spotted way aft, to port. Lt. Cmdr. John S. McCain III said later he heard a "whooshy" sound then a "low-order explosion" in front of him. Suddenly, two A-4s ahead of his plane were engulfed in flaming jet fuel � JP-5 � spewed from them. A bomb dropped to the deck and rolled about six feet and came to rest in a pool of burning fuel. The awful conflagration, which was to leave 132 Forrestal crewmen dead, 62 more injured and two missing and presumed dead, had begun. As the searing flames, fed by the spreading JP-5, spread aft and began to eat at the aircraft spotted around the deck, Lt. Cmdr. Browning escaped from his plane. He ducked under the tails of two Skyhawks spotted alongside his and ran up the flight deck toward the island area. Twice, explosions knocked him off balance. But he made it. The fire soon enveloped all the aircraft in its wake. It spread to the fantail, to decks below. Bombs and ammunition were touched off in the midst of early fire-fighting efforts. Black, acrid smoke boiled into the sky. Other ships on Yankee Station sped to the aid of the stricken carrier. As the fuel-fed fire licked at planes, ammunition and bombs, the heroes of Forrestal rushed to avert a total disaster; some died in the process. A chief petty officer, armed only with a small fire extinguisher, ran toward the bomb that had dropped to the flight deck. He was killed when it exploded as were members of fire-fighting teams trying to wrestle fire hoses into position. Shrapnel from the explosion was thrown a reported 400 feet. "I saw a dozen people running . . into the fire, just before the bomb cooked off," Lt. Cmdr. Browning was quoted as saying later. He called very one of them "a hero of the first magnitude." That was only the beginning. "There was a horrendous explosion that shook 'Angel Two Zero.' It seemed as if the whole stern of the Forrestal had erupted. Suddenly there were rafts, fuel tanks, oxygen tanks, trop tanks and debris of every description floating in the water below." The description is from Lt. David Clement, pilot of a rescue helicopter from the carrier USS Oriskany (CV 34), who had been asked to fly plane guard for Forrestal after completing a flight to that carrier. Soon, he and his crew Ens. Leonard M. Eiland, Jr., Aviation Machinist's Mate (Jets) 3rd Class James D. James, Jr., and Airman Albert E. Barrows would be on a far different mission. They would be rescuing Forrestal crewmen who jumped, fell or were knocked from the carrier no less than five times within an hour. Later, they would be shuttling medical supplies to the stricken ship. The continuing explosions on Forrestal's flight deck would rock their helo, leaving the ship's aft end, in Lt. Clement's words, "a mass of twisted steel, with holes in the flight deck, a vacant space where there had been many aircraft and a towering column of black and gray smoke and flames." At 11:47 A.M., Forrestal reported the flight deck fire was under control. At 12:15, the ship sent word that the flight deck fire was out. At 12:45, stubborn fires remained on the 01 and 02 levels and in hangar bay three. All available COD (Carrier Onboard Delivery) aircraft were being sent to the carriers Oriskany and USS Bon Homme Richard (CV 31) to be swiftly rigged with litters medical evacuation. There will be stories told of the brave men of Forrestal for years to come. These are only a few examples: Ltjg. Robert Cates, the carrier's explosive ordnance demolition officer, calmly recounted later how he had "noticed that there was a 500-pound bomb and a 750-pound bomb in the middle of the flight deck . . . that were still smoking. They hadn't detonated or anything; they were just setting there smoking. So I went up and defused them and had them jettisoned." Ltjg. Cates also told how one of his men, whom he named only as Black, volunteered to be lowered by line through a hole in the flight deck to defuse a live bomb that had dropped to the 03 level even though the compartment was still on fire and full of smoke. Black did the job; later, Ltjg. Cates had himself lowered into the compartment to attach a line to the bomb so it could be jettisoned. This too from Cates: "We [black and himself] started picking up everything we could find that had explosives in it and started throwing them over the side. Some squadron pilots came up to me as we went aft I don't know who they were [and] helped me take a Sidewinder missile off a burning F-4. We just continued working our way aft and taking what ordnance we found off aircraft and throwing it over the side." Two Forrestal flight deck crewmen, reports said, were knocked overboard by one of the explosions, fell 70 feet into the water, were picked up by a rescue helicopter and deposited back on the flight deck and resumed fire fighting at once. One man in a crash crew forklift vehicle, with only one hose playing water on him, tried to get rid of a burning plane by ramming it repeatedly. The plane was jettisoned. Lt. Cmdr. Larry Forderhase, ship's catapult officer, was preparing to launch aircraft when the fire broke out. He immediately started clearing the deck of bombs and rockets before helping to move planes forward. Aviation Electrician's Mate 3rd Class Bruce Mulligan, a 22-year-old VA-106 crewman, was all the way aft on the flight deck when he heard explosions. He turned, saw a "fireball" coming at him and hit the deck. Somehow, he managed to get forward and was headed for a fire hose when he was hit by shrapnel. He helped a friend with a broken leg get to sick bay, then returned to the flight deck. "Back aft of the island, we started throwing missiles and rockets over the side," he recounted later. "After that was done, I looked around for some of my buddies on the line crew and I could find only one. So we decided to help them fight the fire and got the fire hoses back aft and went to fight the plane fires. My buddy and I stayed back aft for I don't know how long. We got separated and some officer said later to leave. "I went back to the island and got my hands taken care of and stayed back there [to rest for a while]. I was kind of groggy. I found another of my buddies and we went back aft again to help with the fire. By this time, they were working on the holes in the flight deck. "Once again, one of our officers in the squadron found me and took me down to the forecastle to rest. I stayed down there for about ten minutes, then went back aft again. ... I stayed back there until I just about passed out and my buddy dragged me out of there. . ." Seaman Milton Parker was just watching flight operations from the 09 level when the fire struck. Unable to get to his General Quarters station because it was cut off, he manned a hose on the flight deck for almost nine hours. He told how the heat of the deck burned both soles off his shoes, but "my feet are okay because I put on some flight deck shoes and went back in" to continue fire fighting. The CVW-17 operations officer, Lt. Cmdr. Herb Hope, was to fly a VA-46 A-4 with a launch time of 11a.m. 'When the flight deck erupted in flames, he managed to escape from his plane and, between explosions, literally rolled off the flight deck into a safety net. He made his way down to the hangar deck to coordinate the actions of a damage control party in one of the hangar bays. "The port quarter of the flight deck, where I was," he said, "is no longer there." Fed by clothing, bedding and other flammables, the fires in the levels between the flight and hangar decks burned with an awesome fury. Men trying to locate shipmates trapped in compartments were driven out by flames and smoke. The after section of the hangar deck was so thick with smoke that it was impossible to see. These are excerpts from an account given by Ens. Robert R. Schmidt, a 24-year-old engineering officer: "... My work really wasn't the exciting kind of thing; just keeping the fire from spreading into any other areas. My people were doing all kinds of dirty work, moving into areas where the water was so hot it was almost boiling. OBA (Oxygen Breathing Apparatus) windows started fogging up and the people could hardly see anything. Yet, these kids went into the deeper areas of the ship, endangering their own lives. . . ." At 1:48 p.m., Forrestal reported that the fires in the 01, 02 and 03 levels still burned, but that all the ship's machinery and steering equipment were operational. At 2:12 p.m., the after radio compartment was evacuated because of dense smoke and water. "All fires out on 01 level, port side," the ship reported. At 2:47 p.m. the compartment fires continued but progress was being made. Forrestal was steaming toward a rendezvous with the hospital ship USS Repose (AH 16). At 3 p.m., the commander of Task Force 77 announced he was sending Forrestal to Subic Bay, Philippines, after the carrier rendezvoused with Repose. At 5:05, a muster of Forrestal crewmen � both in the carrier and aboard other ships � was begun. Fires were still burning in the ship's carpenter shop and on the main deck. At 6:44 p.m., the fires were still burning. At 8:30 p.m., the fires in the 02 and 03 levels were contained, but the area was still too hot to enter. Holes were cut in the flight deck to provide access to compartments below. Ens. Schmidt and his damage control team continued to fight their way into burning compartments; his work later that afternoon was as an investigator for the damage control assistant. There were times he had to enter spaces that were virtually inaccessible. "I asked for volunteers," he recalled, "and I immediately had two or three who followed me back into the guts of the fire. Several times, people would come up to me and say, 'What can I do? How can I help?' ... At first, I couldn't find work for all the people who wanted to help. I can't give enough praise to the sailors I supervised. They fought the fire and did all the dirty jobs ... These kids worked all night, 24-28 hours, containing the fire. . . . I've nothing but praise for the American sailor." On the hangar deck, a chief petty officer his soaked clothing plastered to his body ran from burning hangar bay three and called for five volunteers. He got 30. At the height of the fire, Capt. John K. Beling, Forrestal's commanding officer, went to hangar bay two. He watched quietly for a while, told his men they were doing well. He returned to the bridge; there was nothing more he could do. Filipino stewards, some who appeared to weigh no more than 100 pounds, rolled 250-pound bombs to the edges and pushed them overboard. With strength born of adversity, 130-pound Lt. Otis Kight single-handedly carried a 250-pound bomb to the edge of the hangar deck and threw it over the side. His shipmates are certain he will never be able to repeat that feat. Chief Aviation Ornanceman Thomas Lawler escaped from his shop on the 03 level when the first explosion occurred and the overhead "began to glow like it was on fire." For hours afterwards, he disarmed aircraft in the after hangar bays, groping his way through smoke so thick that he could see no more than a foot ahead. "I don't believe we were in very great danger in hangar bay three," he said later. "All the fires were contained in the very aft end of the hangar bay. The only thing that worried me slightly at all was on the first trip in the hangar bay when you could see practically nothing at all [but] we kept hearing a gushing, a loud, gurgling sound and we couldn't quite determine what that was and the unknown always worries you a little bit. . ." At 8:33 p.m., Forrestal reported that fires on the 02 level were under control but that fire fighting was greatly hampered because of smoke and heat. At 8: 54, only the 02 level on the port side was still burning. Medical evacuation to Repose was in progress. At 12:20 a.m., July 30, all the fires were out. Forrestal crewmembers continued to clear smoke and cool hot steel on the 02 and 03 levels. The tragedy of the hours that had passed since the fire started began to penetrate into the minds and bodies of the men aboard the carrier. The adrenalin that had pumped through them began to seep away. They were tired but they could not sleep; they walked restlessly about the ship, lending a hand wherever they could. As time passed, volunteers were still requested and swarms of men men who had fought the fire since 11 a.m. and who were dead tired and sick from smoke and the sights they'd seen forgot their fatigue and their sickness and raced through passageways to man the hoses again. Lt. j.g. Frank Guinan sat on the deck next to his room, too tired to get up and go inside. "It seems so unreal," he said, and he added: "Nobody had better say to me that American youth [is] lazy. I saw men working today who were not only injured but thoroughly exhausted and they had to be carried away. They were trying so hard to help but they were actually becoming a burden." It was time, now, to begin to assess the damage. There were four gaping holes in the flight deck where bombs exploded, pushing armored steel down and under much like an old-fashioned hole in a beer can. Stock was taken of the aircraft. It leveled off to a report of 26 either destroyed or jettisoned and 31 more damaged to some extent. And it was time to arrive at a final toll of dead and injured. For hours, the muster of Forrestal men continued; it was made terrifically difficult because so many of the crew were scattered in other ships. And it was time to recall how those ships had come to the aid of the stricken Forrestal. From Oriskany and Bon Homme Richard had come medical teams and fire-fighting equipment. The skippers of the destroyers USS Rupertus (DD 851) and USS George K. MacKenzie (DD 836) , in what Rear Adm. Harvey P. Lanham, ComCarDiv Two, called an act of "magnificent seamanship," had maneuvered their ships to within 20 feet of the carrier so fire hoses could be effectively used. But mostly it was a time to think of shipmates, those who had fought the flames and died because of their heroism. They were men like Data Systems Technician 2nd Class Stephen L. Hock, who was one of the first to reach the 03 level and who fought the fire and aided survivors until he was driven back by fire and smoke, then donned an OBA and returned again to the blazing area to fight the flames and help the injured. He kept up the pace for hours, then was overcome in a flooded and gas-filled compartment. Efforts to revive him were unsuccessful. They were men like Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Joseph C. Shartzer who returned to the inferno on the 03 level from which he had narrowly escaped and sacrificed his life as he aided in rescuing trapped men and fighting the fire. They were men like Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Hydaulics) 3rd Class Robert A. Rhuda, who could have escaped from the smoke-filled compartments where he was on duty as a police petty officer, but who remained behind to awaken and direct or physically assist shipmates out of the area returning time and time again until the explosion of a bomb destroyed the compartment in which he was last seen. They were men like that. As Forrestal steamed for Subic Bay, a memorial service was held in Hangar Bay One for the crewmen who had given their lives for their ship and their country. More than 2,000 Forrestal men listened to and prayed with Chaplains Geoffrey Gaughan and David Cooper as they paid tribute to their lost shipmates. The three volleys fired by 13 U.S. Marines were followed by the benediction, which closed the service after 15 minutes of prayer and hymns. The heroes and the brave men aboard Forrestal were uniformly praised by those under whom they served. Vice Adm. C. T. Booth, ComNavAirLant, paid tribute to their courage, as did Adm. Roy L. Johnson, CinCPacFlt, Adm. E. P. Holmes, CinCLantFlt, and Paul Nitze, Deputy Secretary of Defense, who also spoke for Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara. And there was this personal message to Capt. Beling: "I want you and the men of your command to know that the thoughts of the American people are with you at this tragic time. We all feel a great sense of personal loss. The devotion to duty and courage of your men have not gone unnoticed. The sacrifices they have made shall not be in vain." It was signed by Lyndon B. Johnson. Capt. Beling also commented on his crew: "I am most proud of the way the crew reacted. The thing that is foremost in my mind is the concrete demonstration that I have seen of the worth of American youth. I saw many examples of heroism. I saw, and subsequently heard of, not one single example of cowardice." Forrestal men were men like that. Ref: USS FORRESTAL CREW ASSOCITATION/MEMORIAL
  7. The 1700's June 12th 1775: The first American Navy, Rhode Island Navy, is commissioned by the Rhode Island assembly. The armed ships are among the first to actively fight back against the British. October 13th 1775: Understanding a need for ships to fight British seapower, the Continental Congress establishes the Continental Navy. The US Navy to this day recognizes this as the official birthdate of its long, proud history of service and traditions. September 23rd 1779: At the Battle of Flamborough Head, in the North Sea, John Paul Jones, commander of the Bonhomme Richard, becomes tangled with the warship HMS Serapis. When asked to surrender, Jones famously replies, "I have not yet begun to fight." Bonhomme Richard wins the engagement, a victory far from American shores. 1780 to 1783: While plucky and brave, the Continental Navy – comprised mainly of Citizen Sailors (the basis of today's Navy Reserve) – is no match for the powerful and professional British Navy by itself. Aided by our new French allies, the Revolutionaries began breaking the blockades, sinking British ships and achieving timely naval victories. 1783: The Treaty of Paris ends the Revolutionary War, and a nation is born. However, seeing no need for a standing Navy, it is disbanded. The last ship to go offline is a frigate, The Alliance. March 27th 1794: Piracy, aggression by other nations, and the need for a stronger national defense leads to the Naval Act of 1794 by Congress. Six ships in all are constructed, including "Old Ironsides" herself, the USS Constitution. 1798 to 1800: The Quasi-War. Tensions between the US and France began to mount. An undeclared war breaks out, mainly on the high seas against France. April 30th 1798: Concerns over how the Department of War managed the Navy during the Quasi-War leads to the creation of the Department of The Navy.
  8. John Paul was born at Arbigland, Kirkbean, Kirkcudbright, Scotland, 6 July 1747. Apprenticed to a merchant at age 13, he went to sea in the brig Friendship to learn the art of seamanship. At 21, he received his first command, the brig John. On 26 January 1913, the remains of John Paul Jones were laid to rest in the crypt of the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Md. Today, a Marine honor guard stands duty whenever the crypt is open to the public. Public visiting hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. After several successful years as a merchant skipper in the West Indies trade, John Paul emigrated to the British colonies in North America and there added "Jones" to his name. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, Jones was in Virginia. He cast his lot with the rebels, and on 7 December 1775, he was commissioned first lieutenant in the Continental Navy, serving aboard Esek Hopkins' flagship Alfred. As First Lieutenant in Alfred, he was the first to hoist the Grand Union flag on a Continental warship. On 1 November 1777, he commanded the Ranger, sailing for France. Sailing into Quiberon Bay, France, 14 February 1778, Jones and Admiral La Motte Piquet changed gun salutes -- the first time that the Stars and Stripes, the flag of the new nation, was officially recognized by a foreign government. Early in 1779, the French King gave Jones an ancient East Indiaman Duc de Duras, which Jones refitted, repaired, and renamed Bon Homme Richard as a compliment to his patron Benjamin Franklin. Commanding four other ships and two French privateers, he sailed 14 August 1779 to raid English shipping. On 23 September 1779, his ship engaged the HMS Serapis in the North Sea off Famborough Head, England. Richard was blasted in the initial broadside the two ships exchanged, losing much of her firepower and many of her gunners. Captain Richard Pearson, commanding Serapis, called out to Jones, asking if he surrendered. Jones' reply: "I have not yet begun to fight!" It was a bloody battle with the two ship literally locked in combat. Sharpshooting Marines and seamen in Richard's tops raked Serapis with gunfire, clearing the weather decks. Jones and his crew tenaciously fought on , even though their ship was sinking beneath them. Finally, Capt. Pearson tore down his colors and Serapis surrendered. Bon Homme Richard sunk the next day and Jones was forced to transfer to Serapis. After the American Revolution, Jones served as a Rear Admiral in the service of Empress Catherine of Russia, but returned to Paris in 1790. He died in Paris at the age of 45 on 18 July 1792. He was buried in St. Louis Cemetery, which belonged to the French royal family. Four years later, France's revolutionary government sold the property and the cemetery was forgotten. In 1845, Col. John H. Sherburne began a campaign to return Jones' remains to the United States. He wrote Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft and requested the body be brought home aboard a ship of the Mediterrean Squadron. Six years later, preliminary arrangements were made, but the plans fell through when several of Jones' Scottish relatives objected. Had they not, another problem would have arisen. Jones was in an unmarked grave and no one knew exactly where that was. American Ambassador Horace Porter began a systematic search for it in 1899. The burial place and Jones' body was discovered in April 1905. President Theodore Roosevelt sent four cruisers to bring it back to the U.S., and these ships were escorted up the Chesapeake Bay by seven battleships. On 26 January 1913, the remains of John Paul Jones were laid to rest in the crypt of the U.S. Naval Academy Chapel in Annapolis, Md. Today, a Marine honor guard stands duty whenever the crypt is open to the public. Public visiting hours are from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., Mondays through Saturdays, and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Sundays. Ref: Navy.mil
  9. Standing at attention during the playing of The Star Spangled Banner, saluting the national ensign, and reciting the “Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag” are all acts performed occasionally by most Americans and regularly by the men and women who wear the uniforms of the armed services. These acts have meaning because of the flag’s symbolic significance. The stars and stripes represent the nation’s independence, the sacrifices that established and have maintained our freedom, and our national values embodied in the Declaration of Independence. This is why the displaying of a large stars and stripes flag on a building opposite the site of the Twin Towers had such a powerfully emotional impact on 11 September 2001. From the very beginnings of the United States, the flag has played a role in the careers of all naval personnel. Perhaps in no Sailor’s story, however, has the country’s flag figured more prominently than in that of the Revolutionary War naval hero John Paul Jones. Jones is remembered for bringing America’s fight for liberty to the shores of the enemy—the Ranger’s capture of HMS Drake in the Irish Sea, the raid on Whitehaven, Scotland, and especially the Bonhomme Richard ’s capture of HMS Serapis in the Battle off Flamborough Head, within site of the English shore. As proud as he was of these accomplishments at the birth of the nation, John Paul Jones boasted as well of his association with the birth of the flag. Even before the American colonies were independent or had adopted a national ensign to symbolize their rights as a free and equal people, John Paul Jones understood the power of a flag to embody the aspirations of a nation and to inspire loyalty. On 6 December 1775, as the Continental Navy ship Alfred’s newly commissioned first lieutenant, Jones hoisted the Grand Union flag of the thirteen united colonies. Recalling this event four years later, he wrote, “I hoisted with my own hands the flag of freedom the first time it was displayed on board the Alfred in the Delaware.” Ref: Naval History.org On 4 July 1777, the first anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, Captain John Paul Jones hoisted the stars and stripes flag on board his own command, the Continental Navy ship Ranger, then in Boston Harbor fitting out for a cruise against the enemies of the Scottish born Jones’s adopted country. Just a few weeks earlier, on 14 June 1777, meeting in Philadelphia’s Independence Hall, the Continental Congress decreed the design for the new nation’s national ensign. Congress resolved “that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.” Later that same day, Congress appointed Jones commander of the Ranger, the ship in which he would make the enemy taste the bitter draft of war in their home waters. On 14 February 1778, seven months after first hoisting the stars and stripes aboard Ranger, Jones exchanged salutes with a French fleet’s flagship in Quiberon Bay, France. On 6 February the French king had secretly signed treaties of commerce and of alliance with the United States. The exchange of salutes in Quiberon Bay was the first official public act of recognition of the flag of the United States as an independent nation by another sovereign country. On this Fourth of July, aware of the place of the flag in the career and in the heart of John Paul Jones, one of the founders of the Navy’s proud heritage, we might consider what the flag means to us.
  10. Surface Warfare Officer The Surface Warfare Officer insignia is the first milestone qualification an eligible commissioned officer may receive in surface warfare. This device is commonly called the "SWO pin" in the U.S. Navy since "badge" is more of a European rather than American term for metal military insignia, and, jokingly, "water wings" or "mark of the beast. Those receiving the Surface Warfare Officer pin must qualify as Officer Of the Deck (both underway and inport), small boat officer, Combat Information Officer watch officer, and must be trained in shipboard engineering, damage control and quality maintenance (3M). For further, enterprise-level training, officers will attend Surface Warfare Officers' School (SWOS) in Newport Rhode Island. The Surface Warfare Officer pin is typically a prerequisite for Tactical Action Officer (TAO) training. Junior Officers, typically ensigns, assigned to the Surface Warfare community are known as “unqualified” or "non-quals" until they receive qualification as a Surface Warfare Officer and receive the Surface Warfare Officer pin. Such Junior Officers are granted 18 months to qualify as Surface Warfare Officers; they may be transferred to another branch of the navy or administratively separated if the qualification is not obtained in the requisite timeframe. Such officers are known as “SWO non-attainees” and this designation is entered into the Officer's permanent military record. The Surface Warfare Officer pin was designed to depict the traditional and typical elements of naval service: waves breaking before the bow of a ship, overlaid on crossed swords, rendered in gold. The insignia recognizing surface warfare officers was introduced in 1975. Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist On 1 December 1978, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral T.B. Hayward approved the Surface Warfare Specialist qualification program. This approval followed immediately by the promulgation of OPNAV Instruction 1412.4, which provided the specific details of the program. Since the introduction of the Surface Warfare Officer (SWO) qualification program in 1975, a strong advocacy for a similar program for surface enlisted was started. The program was initiated in 1977 when the surface warfare commanders (DCNO Surface Warfare, COMNAVSURFLANT and COMNAVSURFPAC) gave their conceptual approval to the development of a surface enlisted qualification program. Initial guidelines for the program at that time were: 1. Sailors were to reflect a level of qualification above and beyond the normal level of professional and performance criteria necessary for advancement. 2. The qualification was applicable to and reasonably attainable by all "surface" ratings. 3. Qualification was an attainable goal for dedicated enlisted serving on ships and afloat staffs. 4. Management of the program would not become an administrative burden on the ship. 5. Qualification criteria would be well defined and specific. 6. Participation was voluntary, and there was neither a financial reward nor hazardous duty associated with the qualification. The silver cutlass was available for the first time in April 1979. Specifically the criteria in 1979 to qualify was as follows: 1. Have attained the rank of Petty Officer 2. Have 24 months on a surface ship 3. Have a performance mark and leadership marks of top 30% for CPO's and 3.4 for Petty Officers. 4. Complete the PQS for Damage Control, Damage Control Petty Officer, Repair Party Leader, and 3M Work Center Supervisor. 5. Qualify in all watch stations for rating and pay grade. 6. Perform an oral board held by the Commanding Officer, Executive Officer or Lieutenant Commander. 7. Be recommended by the chain of command, and approved by the Commanding Officer. OPNAVINST 1414.9 is the Navy instruction that governs the enlisted warfare qualification programs. This instruction also cancels OPNAVINST 1414.2A. The Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist insignia also known as the ESWS pin, is authorized for wear by any enlisted member of the United States Navy who is permanently stationed aboard a navy afloat command and completes the Enlisted Surface Warfare qualification program and personal qualification standards (PQS). The Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist pin can be obtained at any while serving aboard a Surface unit. It has become common for Commanding Officers of Navy ships to award the ESWS pin to those in paygrades E-2 and E-3 after they complete the requisite qualifications. ESWS qualifications must be requalified upon arrival to a new platform and must commonly complete the Platform Specific portion (300 Series) of the PQS (e.g. I received my qualification on a CV, upon reporting to an DDG I must requalifiy to the new platform). Rguardless of secondary warfare (e.g. an Aviation rating where EAWS is the primary warfare) ESWS must still be requalified upon assignment to a new platform. An enlisted person who has qualified for his or her ESWS pin places the designator SW after his or her rate and rating; for example, Boatswain's Mate Second Class Jones, having qualified for his ESWS pin, is identified as BM2(SW) Jones. For those enlisted personnel who are subsequently commissioned as officers and are shipboard SWO's the enlisted surface warfare specialist badge is replaced. Unlike other warfare pins available to both enlisted and officers, the ESWS and SWO pins differ by more than just color (gold for officers and silver for enlisted is a common theme in U.S. Navy uniforms). The blade weapons behind the hull on the SWO pin are swords. The blade weapons on the enlisted pin are cutlasses. This can clearly be seen in the curvature of the blades and the shape of the handguards. This derives from the sword being a symbol of naval officers and their authority, while cutlasses were traditionally the sidearm of the enlisted men.
  11. Three years after the Civil War ended, on May 5, 1868, the head of an organization of Union veterans — the Grand Army of the Republic (GAR) — established Decoration Day as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the war dead with flowers. Maj. Gen. John A. Logan declared that Decoration Day should be observed on May 30. It is believed that date was chosen because flowers would be in bloom all over the country. The first large observance was held that year at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C. The ceremonies centered around the mourning-draped veranda of the Arlington mansion, once the home of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Various Washington officials, including Gen. and Mrs. Ulysses S. Grant, presided over the ceremonies. After speeches, children from the Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Orphan Home and members of the GAR made their way through the cemetery, strewing flowers on both Union and Confederate graves, reciting prayers and singing hymns. Local Observances Claim To Be First Local springtime tributes to the Civil War dead already had been held in various places. One of the first occurred in Columbus, Miss., April 25, 1866, when a group of women visited a cemetery to decorate the graves of Confederate soldiers who had fallen in battle at Shiloh. Nearby were the graves of Union soldiers, neglected because they were the enemy. Disturbed at the sight of the bare graves, the women placed some of their flowers on those graves, as well. Today, cities in the North and the South claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day in 1866. Both Macon and Columbus, Ga., claim the title, as well as Richmond, Va. The village of Boalsburg, Pa., claims it began there two years earlier. A stone in a Carbondale, Ill., cemetery carries the statement that the first Decoration Day ceremony took place there on April 29, 1866. Carbondale was the wartime home of Gen. Logan. Approximately 25 places have been named in connection with the origin of Memorial Day, many of them in the South where most of the war dead were buried. Official Birthplace Declared In 1966, Congress and President Lyndon Johnson declared Waterloo, N.Y., the “birthplace” of Memorial Day. There, a ceremony on May 5, 1866, honored local veterans who had fought in the Civil War. Businesses closed and residents flew flags at half-staff. Supporters of Waterloo’s claim say earlier observances in other places were either informal, not community-wide or one-time events. By the end of the 19th century, Memorial Day ceremonies were being held on May 30 throughout the nation. State legislatures passed proclamations designating the day, and the Army and Navy adopted regulations for proper observance at their facilities. It was not until after World War I, however, that the day was expanded to honor those who have died in all American wars. In 1971, Memorial Day was declared a national holiday by an act of Congress, though it is still often called Decoration Day. It was then also placed on the last Monday in May, as were some other federal holidays. Ref: U.S. Dept. of Veteran Affairs
  12. "...without a Respectable Navy, Alas America!" Captain John Paul Jones, 17 October 1776, in a letter to Robert Morris. "I have not yet begin to fight!" Captain John Paul Jones said this during the famous battle between Bonhomme Richard and Serapis on 23 September 1779. It seems that some of Jones' men cried for surrender, but not John Paul Jones. Captain Richard Pearson of Serapis asked Jones if he had surrendered. Jones uttered the immortal words: "I have not yet begun to fight!" So, at least, Lt. Richard Dale later recalled. "I wish to have no Connection with any Ship that does not Sail fast for I intend to go in harm's way." Captain John Paul Jones, 16 November 1778, in a letter to le Ray de Chaumont. "It follows then as certain as that night succeeds the day, that without a decisive naval force we can do nothing definitive, and with it, everything honorable and glorious." President George Washington, 15 November 1781, to Marquis de Lafayette. "Don't give up the ship!" Tradition has it that Captain James Lawrence said these heroic words after being mortally wounded in the engagement between his ship, the U.S. frigate Chesapeake, and HMS Shannon on 1 June 1813. As the wounded Lawrence was carried below, he ordered "Tell the men to fire faster! Don't give up the ship!" Although Chesapeake was forced to surrender, Captain Lawrence's words lived on as a rallying cry during the war. Oliver Hazard Perry honored his dead friend Lawrence when he had the motto sewn onto the private battle flag flown during the Battle of Lake Erie, 10 September 1813. "We have met the enemy and they are ours..." Oliver Hazard Perry's immortal dispatch to Major General William Henry Harrison after the Battle of Lake Erie, 10 September 1813, "We have met the enemy and they are ours-- two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop." The victory secured the Great Lakes region for the United States and ended the threat of invasion from that quarter. " Get underway! In the offing knoweth ye that hand over fist I will fight hard & fast! So batten down the hatches because between the devil and the deep blue sea I will deliver more than a shot across the bow! (You big dummy) the torpedoes, Full speed ahead!" Admiral David Glasgow Farragut (1801-1870). Aboard Hartford, Farragut entered Mobile Bay, Alabama, 5 August 1864, in two columns, with armored monitors leading and a fleet of wooden ships following. When the lead monitor Tecumseh was demolished by a mine, the wooden ship Brooklyn stopped, and the line drifted in confusion toward Fort Morgan. As disaster seemed imminent, Farragut gave the orders embodied by these famous words. He swung his own ship clear and headed across the mines, which failed to explode. The fleet followed and anchored above the forts, which, now isolated, surrendered one by one. The torpedoes to which Farragut and his contemporaries referred would today be described as tethered mines. "You may fire when you are ready Gridley." Commodore George Dewey, 1 May 1898, at the Battle of Manila Bay during the Spanish-American War. The American squadron entered Manila Bay and took fire from the Spanish fleet, anchored under the guns of Cavite, for half an hour until in the position Dewey wanted. Then Dewey addressed his order to Charles Gridley, captain of Dewey's flagship Olympia. "A good Navy is not a provocation to war. It is the surest guaranty of peace." President Theodore Roosevelt, 2 December 1902, second annual message to Congress. "A powerful Navy we have always regarded as our proper and natural means of defense; and it has always been of defense that we have thought, never of aggression or of conquest. But who shall tell us now what sort of Navy to build? We shall take leave to be strong upon the seas, in the future as in the past; and there will be no thought of offense or provocation in that. Our ships are our natural bulwarks." President Woodrow Wilson, 8 December 1914, An Annual Message to Congress. "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!" Leutenant Howell Maurice Forgy (USN) ChC serving in the heavy cruiser USS New Orleans (CA-32) during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, is credited with coining the phrase. Lieutenant Forgy saw the men of an ammunition party tiring as they labored to bring shells to the antiaircraft guns. Barred by his non-combatant status from actively participating in keeping the guns firing, Lieutenant Forgy decided that he could add his moral support to the ammunition bearers through words of encouragement, and so patted the men on the back and said, "Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition!" His words were later popularized in a song written by Frank Loesser and performed by Kay Kyser and his orchestra. "Sighted Sub, Sank Same." Message sent by an enlisted pilot, AMM 1/c Donald Francis Mason, on 28 January 1942. Mason believed that he had sunk a German U-boat off Argentia, Newfoundland. "Take her down!" Commander Howard Walter Gilmore, desperately wounded and unable to climb back into his submarine, USS Growler (SS-215), in the face of an approaching Japanese gunboat 7 February 1943. "The battle of Iwo Island [Jima] has been won. The United States Marines, by their individual and collective courage, have conquered a base which is as necessary to us in our continuing forward movement toward final victory as it was vital to the enemy in staving off ultimate defeat.... Among the Americans who served on Iwo Island, uncommon valor was a common virtue." Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 17 March 1945. "For in this modern world, the instruments of warfare are not solely for waging war. Far more importantly, they are the means for controlling peace. Naval officers must therefore understand not only how to fight a war, but how to use the tremendous power which they operate to sustain a world of liberty and justice, without unleashing the powerful instruments of destruction and chaos that they have at their command." Admiral Arleigh Burke, CNO, 1 August 1961, Change of command address at Annapolis, MD "The Navy has both a tradition and a future--and we look with pride and confidence in both directions." Admiral George Anderson, CNO, 1 August 1961. "Events of October 1962 indicated, as they had all through history, that control of the sea means security. Control of the seas can mean peace. Control of the seas can mean victory. The United States must control the seas if it is to protect your security...." President John F. Kennedy, 6 June 1963, on board USS Kitty Hawk. "I can imagine no more rewarding a career. And any man who may be asked in this century what he did to make his life worthwhile, I think can respond with a good deal of pride and satisfaction: 'I served in the United States Navy.'" President John F. Kennedy, 1 August 1963, in Bancroft Hall at the U. S. Naval Academy. Ref: history.navy.mil
  13. USS Constitution was one of six frigates authorized for construction by an act of Congress in 1794. Joshua Humphreys designed them to be the Navy's capital ships. Larger and more heavily armed than the standard run of frigate, Constitution and her sisters were formidable opponents even for some ships of the line. Built in Boston of resilient live oak, Constitution's planks were up to seven inches thick. Paul Revere forged the copper spikes and bolts that held the planks in place and the copper sheathing that protected the hull. Thus armed, she first put to sea in July 1798 and saw her first service patrolling the southeast coast of the United States during the Quasi-War with France. In 1803 she was designated flagship for the Mediterranean squadron under Captain Edward Preble and went to serve against the Barbary States of North Africa, which were demanding tribute from the United States in exchange for allowing American merchant vessels access to Mediterranean ports. Preble began an aggressive campaign against Tripoli, blockading ports and bombarding fortifications. Finally Tripoli, Tunisia and Algeria agreed to a peace treaty. Constitution patrolled the North African coast for two years after the war ended, to enforce the terms of the treaty. She returned to Boston in 1807 for two years of refitting. The ship was recommissioned as flagship of the North Atlantic Squadron in 1809 under Commodore John Rodgers. By early 1812, relations with Great Britain had deteriorated and the Navy began preparing for war, which was declared June 20. Captain Isaac Hull, who had been appointed Constitution's commanding officer in 1810, put to sea July 12, without orders, to prevent being blockaded in port. His intention was to join the five ships of Rodgers' squadron. Constitution sighted five ships off Egg Harbor, N.J., July 17. By the following morning the lookouts had determined they were a British squadron that had sighted Constitution and were giving chase. Finding themselves becalmed, Hull and his seasoned crew put boats over the side to tow their ship out of range. By using kedge anchors to draw the ship forward, and wetting the sails down to take advantage of every breath of wind, Hull slowly made headway against the pursuing British. After two days and nights of toil in the relentless July heat, Constitution finally eluded her pursuers. But one month later, she met with one of them again -- the frigate Guerriere. The British ship fired the first shot of the legendary battle; 20 minutes later, Guerriere was a dismasted hulk, so badly damaged that she was not worth towing to port. Hull had used his heavier broadsides and his ship's superior sailing ability, while the British, to their astonishment, saw that their shot seemed to rebound harmlessly off Constitution's hull -- giving her the nickname 'Old Ironsides'. Under the command of William Bainbridge, 'Old Ironsides', met Java, another British frigate, in December. Their three-hour engagement left Java unfit for repair, so she was burned. Constitution's victories gave the American people a tremendous boost to morale, and raised the United States to the rank of a world-class naval power. Despite having to spend many months in port, either under repair or because of blockades, Constitution managed eight more captures, including a British frigate and sloop sailing in company which she fought simultaneously, before peace was declared in 1815. After six years of extensive repairs, she returned to duty as flagship of the Mediterranean Squadron. She sailed back to Boston in 1828. An examination in 1830 found her unfit for sea, but the American public expressed great indignation at the recommendation that she be scrapped, especially after publication of Oliver Wendell Holmes' poem 'Old Ironsides'. Congress passed an appropriation for reconstruction and in 1835 she was placed back in commission. She served as flagship in the Mediterranean and the South Pacific and made a 30-month voyage around the world beginning in March 1844. In the 1850s she patrolled the African coast in search of slavers, and during the Civil War served as a training ship for midshipmen. After another period of rebuilding in 1871, she transported goods for the Paris Exposition of 1877 and served once more as a training ship. Decommissioned in 1882, she was used as a receiving ship at Portsmouth, N.H. She returned to Boston to celebrate her centennial in 1897. In 1905, public sentiment saved her once more from scrapping; in 1925 she was restored, through the donations of school children and patriotic groups. Recommissioned in 1931, she set out under tow for a tour of 90 port cities along the Atlantic, Gulf and Pacific coasts of the United States. More than 4,600,000 people visited her during the three-year journey. Having secured her position as an American icon, she returned to her home port of Boston. In 1941, she was placed in permanent commission, and an act of Congress in 1954 made the Secretary of the Navy responsible for her upkeep. Now the oldest U.S. warship still in commission, Constitution remains a powerful reminder of the nation's earliest steps into dominance of the sea. Ref: NAVY.MIL
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