And miraculously, it wasn’t my team!
In August of 1914, as war unexpectedly loomed over both sides of the English Channel, the Royal Navy was unquestionably the most modern and powerful force ever to ply the world's oceans. Though challenged over the previous decades by an upstart Imperial Germany for maritime dominance of the Baltic and North Seas, in 1914 it was still the Union Jack which flew at the top of the mast of world naval power.
The famous postcards depicting the Royal Navy Fleet Review in July of 1914 showed most (but not all) of the twenty-three dreadnought battleships and nine battle cruisers then in commission. (Also shown were the 40 obsolescent pre-dreadnought battleships commissioned between 1896 and 1908.) Not shown, of course, were the ten additional dreadnought battleships and five battle cruisers nearing completion, each more modern and far more powerful than their namesake.
The dreadnought battleship in 1914 was considered rightly the ultimate measuring stick of a nation's sea power. The potential of such ships, individually and in squadrons or even fleets, to wreak destruction on an enemy fleet, seemed without limit. But their immense cost, both to build and operate, increased the asymmetry of the means by which these "castles of steel", as Churchill's called them, might be destroyed. The evolution of the torpedo from a short-range nuisance to a long-range ship-killer, and the concomitant development of ocean-going ships and submarines on which they would be employed, accelerated apace with the evolution of the dreadnought battleships. And that old nemesis, the naval mine, remained a very vexing problem.
In the course of the Great War, the dreadnought, both in its battleship and battlecruiser incarnation, proved both a fulfillment of its awesome potential, and a disappointment. In the Falklands in December 1914, two RN battlecruisers destroyed Graf von Spee's Südseegeschwader in a running fight, without damage to themselves, despite abysmally poor British gunnery. At Scarborough and Hartlepool, the High Seas Fleet bombardment presaged the possible destructive power of long-range artillery against cities and towns. The Battle of Jutland, though a bitter disappointment and tactical reverse for the Royal Navy, was very much a strategic victory. The outcome decisively determined that the High Seas Fleet would not be able to loosen the Royal Navy stranglehold that was slowly starving Germany. However, the Allied naval effort at Gallipoli to break the domination of the Turkish forts over the Dardanelles was an utter failure, and highlighted the limitations of dreadnought power, and their vulnerability to mines and torpedoes.
When the war ended in November 1918 as suddenly and unexpectedly as it had begun, Great Britain was bloodied, exhausted, and economically prostrate. With the High Seas Fleet interned at Scapa Flow, and the Austro-Hungarian Navy reduced by combat loss to insignificance in the Adriatic, the only other powerful navies on the globe were those of the United States, France, and Japan, all British allies. It was clear that retaining the massive wartime Royal Navy was not sustainable. Additionally, technological developments in fire control, gun power, armor plate composition and distribution, propulsion, and watertight integrity had accelerated ever faster since 1906, when HMS Dreadnought had made the world's capital ships obsolete at a stroke. Dreadnought herself, as well as her immediately succeeding classes of dreadnoughts, were hopelessly outdated, no match for the newer and more powerful "super-dreadnoughts" which were faster, better protected, and capable of accurate very long-range fire with 15-inch guns.
The Royal Navy had lost five dreadnoughts during the war. HMS Audacious had struck a mine in the Irish Sea not long after the war began. At Jutland, three of Beatty's battlecruisers had fallen victim to magazine explosions resulting from German fire. And HMS Vanguard had in 1917 suffered an internal explosion while in port. Not long following the armistice, the dissolution of the Royal Navy's battle line began. The older dreadnoughts were almost immediately decommissioned or placed in reserve, and were soon sold for scrap or otherwise tagged for disposal. Others of some combat value were retained for a few years, a handful were employed as training ships, but these also passed quickly out of commission and to the shipbreakers.
Between 1921 and 1928, an astounding twenty-three Royal Navy dreadnoughts were disposed of, representing more than half a million tons of warship strength. One, HMS Canada, was sold to Chile (her original destination when impressed by the British in 1914). Another, HMS Monarch, was disposed of as a gunnery target. The other 21 were scrapped. Dreadnought herself had been in service for just thirteen years. Two others, HMS Agincourt and HMS Erin, were but eight years old.
I will note here that the Washingon Naval Treaty of 1922 is often credited as the impetus for the mass dismantling of Britain's dreadnought fleet. This is not an accurate portrayal. The agreement was instead a boon to the Exchequer, who was searching frantically for ways to staunch the economic bleeding. The Washington Treaty provided a justification for the disposal of a great number of capital ships of questionable combat use, and the cancellation of those battleships still on the ways determined to be in excess of Royal Navy requirements for the post-war world. While it is true that the 1922 treaty indeed stifled future construction for more than a decade, the vast majority of the decisions to dispose of the Grand Fleet's dreadnoughts had been made before the Washington Conference had even begun.
The massed scrapping of Royal Navy dreadnoughts did have some very positive effects for Britain's shipbuilders. Shipbreaking companies at Faslane, Inverkeithing, Troon, Clydebank, Rosyth, and many other locations, kept skilled work forces employed, and shipyards and equipment in active use. The market for high-quality scrap steel also provided an inject of capital into a British economy desperately short of liquidity.
The list of Royal Navy dreadnoughts disposed of between 1921 and 1928 is long and impressive. Such a collection would have been the strongest force of capital ships in the world in 1914. The original HMS Dreadnought, plus Bellerophon, Superb, Temeraire, St Vincent, Collingwood, Neptune, Colossus, Hercules, Orion, Conqueror, Thunderer, King George V, Ajax, Agincourt, Erin, Inflexible, Indomidable, New Zealand, Lion, and Princess Royal all were broken up. Canada was sold to Chile, Monarch sunk as a gunnery target. Mounted on these battleships and battlecruisers had been a staggering 128 12-inch and 86 13.5-inch guns, with a total broadside weight of more than 212,000 pounds.
Following the decommissioning of the four Iron Dukes (and HMS Tiger), to comply with the London Treaty of 1930, the Royal Navy retained just fifteen dreadnoughts, the five Queen Elizabeths, the five Revenges, the two 16-inch post-war Nelsons, and battlecruisers Renown, Repulse, and Hood.
At Jutland, it was the concentrated fire of 24 Grand Fleet dreadnoughts, steaming in line-ahead, creating the vision of "a horizon aflame", that had had such a powerful psychological effect on the sailors of the High Seas Fleet. It was that image, and a sense that they had escaped the noose of certain destruction once, that played no small part in the mutinies in Kiel and the Jade in 1918, when they were ordered once again to face the Grand Fleet in a last, sacrificial gesture.
Of Jellicoe's fearsome Jutland battle line, by 1931 only Royal Oak remained, along with the four veteran battleships of Evan-Thomas's 5th Battle Squadron. The cutting torch had accomplished what no other force on the world's oceans could manage, the dismantling of the might of the Royal Navy, and the near extinction of the British Dreadnought. (URR here.)
I went out in my Wyoming today in my first battle on the Solomons map, and got slaughtered.
My second battle, on Big Race, went a bit better!
I, for one, am glad that Rachel Maddow had the opportunity to delve into Donald Trump's back taxes. Come to find out, The Donald paid just over $38.4 million on earnings of $152.8 million. A tax rate of just over 25%. There are still many who don't believe that $38 mil is Trump's "fair share", even though his tax rate is higher than Obama's, and that hero of the proletariat, Bernie (Three House) Sanders. It is nearly twice the latter's 13.4%tax rate.
But hey. I am still glad. Because nobody
Rules for thee... and President Trump.
Down almost 1,100 seats in state legislatures, 16 Governorships, lost both houses of Congress, and the White House. And they can't for the life of them figure out why....
In World War II, the Germans would frequently make use of dams they controlled as a weapon. River crossings are notoriously difficult operations, and controlling the level of a river via control of a dam mean they could make it easier for their forces to cross a river, and well nigh impossible for the Allies to cross. The dams in the Ruhr were also key contributors to the German electrical grid.
The answer to that was, well, destroy the dams. Or at least, destroy the gates to the spillways.
Because the dams were frequently well behind the lines, dozens or even hundreds of miles away, airpower was the only way to possibly reach them.
But dams make lousy targets for conventional bombing. First, they’re very hard to hit. Second, they’re tough targets, what with all that concrete.
In Great Britain, one of the foremost aviation design experts, Sir Barnes Wallis, came up with an interesting solution- the skip bomb. Wallis designed a bomb that looked something like a giant steel drum. Much like skipping a stone across a pond, the skip bomb was designed to skip across the surface of a reservoir, and when it reached the dam, it would simply sink to a pre-determined depth, and explode, while still in contact with the dam itself.
As it turned out, the RAF found out that you also had to have the bomb rotating at a pretty fair speed. If not, the bomb would skip quite energetically, hitting the bomber and knocking it out of the sky. So a bicycle chain arrangement was used to rotate the drum just before drop.
617 Squadron famously became known as the Dambusters after their gallant raid on the Ruhr in Operation Chastise.
In 2013 Cambridge engineer Dr. Hugh Hunt decided to recreate the unique bomb (on a somewhat smaller scale) and blow up a purpose built damn in Canada to demonstrate just how the system worked.
In his best ever battle, LT Nelson takes the Tier X US destroyer, the Gearing, on a killing spree.
The success of Hacksaw Ridge, the ficitonalized story of how conscientious objector Desmond Doss would go on to earn the Medal of Honor, was hardly surprising.
But what about the real Desmond Doss. Here he is, telling a bit of his story.
Explosive demolitions have a very wide range of military applications, and there are a very wide range of tools available from choices of explosives to choices of detonating systems. When I was serving in the 80s and 90s, the two primary detonating systems were either time fuse or electric blasting caps. Today, “shock tube” initiation is very popular.
Demolitions, especially electrically primed demo, is primarily an Engineer function, though a demolition kit is standard equipment in the Infantry company TO&E, and I was fortunate enough to spend some range time blowing stuff up. Of the two, I greatly preferred non-electric priming, but it was good to have the training on electric systems. And not much has changed since this film was made.
Aug. 5, 1932 - Mar. 6, 2016 Mae "Pogo" Humphries Barie passed away peacefully in her sleep at her home in Palm Desert, CA.
Pogo spent her childhood in Lineville, AL, and received her BA from the University of Alabama, Tuscaloosa. She married Lt. Arthur Harper Barie, USN in 1956. They lived and traveled all over the world, settling in Oak Harbor, WA after retirement.
Pogo was always active in charities and civic organizations. She enjoyed reading, gardening, and visiting friends and family; history and travel were her key interests.
Pogo was preceded in death by her parents David Ramon and Ada New Humphries; husband Capt. Arthur H. Barie (USN, Ret.), brothers David and Bill Humphries and sisters Dorothy Ringold and Joyce Blanton; and daughter Clary. She is survived by her children Viki, Tania, Art, Jr., granddaughter Jamie (Jed Van Den Bosch) and 3 great-grandchildren; dearly loved sisters Frances Sudderth, Margaret Bell, Jody Speer, Reba Barnes, and sister-in-law Mildred Barie; dozens of nieces and nephews and cousins; and friends all over the country.
A private inurnment will be in Midway Presbyterian Church Cemetery, Powder Springs, GA. Memorial services are pending.
From five years ago:
At about 9:15am yesterday morning, the hazards of Naval Aviation claimed the life of CAPT Carroll F. LeFon, USN (Ret.).
“Lex” was one of the first blogs I bookmarked, sometime back in 2003 or 2004. From his days on active duty, his retirement flying light planes out of San Diego, to his most recent endeavors flying the F-21 Kfir as a contractor supporting US Navy fighter training, he told the tale of flying. His ability with words moved the hearts and souls out thousands of loyal readers.
He loved flying. But more than flying, he loved his family- his wife, The Hobbit, his son, SNO, and his two daughters, The Biscuit and The Kat. He was awed by the sacrifices his family had endured so that he could serve his nation, and deeply troubled that he may somehow have done less than his best as a father.
His abilities as a warrior were impressive. Serving in the fleet as an F/A-18 pilot, and numerous tours in the Adversary community, honing the edge of other pilots in the unforgiving arena of aerial combat. Serving as XO of TOPGUN (one word, all caps!) and commanding an F/A-18 squadron. He loved aviators, he loved his sailors, he loved his Navy.
He loved writing. He was one of the earliest “milbloggers” and unlike so many, he was in it for the long haul. I was always astonished that a man that had so many things going on with work and family and social life should have to time to not merely post, but put up posts of such wonderful quality and thoughtfulness. His craftsmanship with words was legendary. His compendium, Rhythms, a fictional account of a day in the life of a carrier, is superb, and all should read it.
After his retirement from active duty, he felt free to address issues beyond sea stories, and commented on the news of the day, with a wisdom and insight that made most professional pundits pale in comparison. Indeed, as a blogger myself, I was often discouraged. So many times I found something I wanted to address, only to find that Lex had already done so, and done so far better than I could ever hope to.
His words, obvious warmth and compassion, his keen wit and sense of humor made Neptunus Lex a daily must read for thousands of people. Fellow aviators were comfortable, but more remarkably, so were many folks whose only exposure to Naval Aviation and the military world were his words on their computer screen. The comments of all were welcome and treated with respect and dignity not often found today.
I only met him once, but I’ve known him my whole life. I grew up around Naval Aviators, and am the son of one. When we met briefly a couple years ago, the awkward introductory phase lasted about 2 minutes, and then it was as if we’d sat in that bar many times before, and just picked up the conversation where we’d left off.
My prayers go out to him, and to his family. Godspeed, sir.
So, I stumbled across this interesting, but rather poorly written, account of using the A-10 Warthog to attack swarms of small boats.
About 35 local boat captains simulated swarming attack maneuvers in fishing boats rigged with machine guns while fighter jets, attack helicopters, and the A-10 "Warthog" simulated attacks from above in Florida's Choctawhatchee Bay.
The Air Force at Eglin Air Force Base organized the simulation, called Combat Hammer, to address one of the more pressing threats to the US Navy: attacks from swarming fast-attack craft.
In the Persian Gulf, Iran has repeatedly used small, agile attack craft to harass US Navy ships in encounters that could lead to a broader conflict in a moment's notice.
US Navy ships have gone as far as to fire warning shots at approaching vessels, but that was before Iranian-backed Houthi militants used a suicide boat laden with explosives to kill two aboard a Saudi navy vessel off the coast of Yemen.
Contracting with local boat owners, and visually modifying them with simulated machine guns was pretty innovative.
After working with those, a live fire portion of the evaluation was conducted using unmanned target boats.
Essentially, after Development Test and Evaluation, and Operational Test and Evaluation, WSEP does Follow On Test and Evaluation. FOT&E is where the tactics, techniques and procedures to use a weapon, or a family of weapons, or even complete weapon systems, are evaluated, to give operational squadrons guidance on how best to address a given threat.
Rather than using their own fleet of aircraft, Combat Hammer hosts detachments from the squadrons that will actually be using the weapons and tactics. Thus, in addition to validating TTPs, the squadrons get valuable experience using weapons on a fantastic range complex, training they might not ordinarily be able to conduct.
Combat Hammer hosts virtually every type of USAF aircraft with an air to ground capability. In addition, friendly foreign air forces are often invited to participate.
On the air to air side, WSEP also runs Combat Archer, and even has the little discussed Combat Sledgehammer, which develops TTPs for nuclear weapons.
Royal Navy light cruisers are probably the hardest tech tree to operate well. I get slaughtered almost every time I take one out.
Grump, on the other hand, manages a damn fine battle here.
Sweden has decided to reintroduce a military draft for both men and women over security concerns and a growing threat from Russia.
The Nordic country mothballed compulsory military service seven years ago, but military activity in the Baltic region has increased since, in the wake of Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014, prompting Sweden to step up military preparedness.
Defence Minister Peter Hultqvist said the left-leaning government is reintroducing the draft because of a deteriorating security environment in Europe and around Sweden.
Under the newly approved plan, at least 4,000 18-year-olds could be called up each year, starting in January.
Probably a good idea, for the Swedes at least.
I don’t know what it is that causes LT Rusty to run into so many TKs in WoWs, but he does.
Look, we all make mistakes. Yes, I’ve torped a friendly before. But to not even realize you not just torped, but sunk a teammate, well, that’s hardcore stupid.
You might think, well, it’s an ARP ship, maybe he’s just not used to Tier VII. Uh, no. Guy has thousands of battles under his belt, and was absolutely clueless. Heck, he almost torps another friendly.
And answer me this, Marines in my audience- Is there a single US Marine anywhere that thinks the Battle of Belleau Wood took place in 1919?
SINCE 1996, THE Chinese military has steadily expanded its umbrella of land-based missiles, strike aircraft, and submarines designed to overwhelm both US air bases and carrier strike groups. That buildup aims to discourage the US military from potentially intervening in China’s territorial disputes with neighboring Asian countries. Now, the US response appears to be taking shape, first in the form of a new use for an old weapons system.
In late 2016, the Pentagon announced that it would convert the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), a weapon typically fired from a truck-mounted rocket launcher, into a guided ballistic missile capable of hitting moving warships. That represents a planned upgrade of an existing Army missile that can strike targets at distances of about 186 miles. It could also form the linchpin of a US “forward defense” strategy meant to keep China from becoming too aggressive with its growing naval power.
Mind you, they post a picture of a conventional MLRS rocket, instead of an ATACMS. They do use a common launcher, however.
The details of what exact guidance system would be spliced into the nose of the missile are kinda fuzzy. I’ve heard the same SM-6 Standard Missile that has been upgraded to an anti-ship capability. Which would make some sense. And adding such a capability would tend to tie in well with the Navy’s evolving Distributed Lethality initiative, which seeks to complicate the enemy’s defense.
As a passing thought, a similar conversion of the Guided MLRS might be worth taking a look at. It would have a much shorter range, but would also be able to fit 6 rounds in a launcher cell.
Heck, if a Marine MEU is in the area, why not have a HIMARS on the flight deck of the LPD ready to salvo against any surface ship threats?
For reasons of economy, US Marines in certain specialties have long trained for specific skills at US Army bases. For instance, after Boot Camp, Marine artillerymen undergo instruction at the US Army Artillery Center and School (or whatever they call it now) at Ft. Sill, OK.
Likewise, as seen in this 2001 video, Marine tank crewmen trained at Ft. Knox. A lot has changed since then, but being a tanker will always involve a lot of hard, dirty work for the payoff of the fun of sending rounds downrange.
Especially moving is the reaction of the Marines when they learn of the World Trade Center attacks of 9/11.
What a shame. An absolute shame. The Boston Globe has the story.
I had the pleasure of crossing paths with Neil Fingleton. One night about 13 years ago, after visiting my father who was in the hospital in Worcester after his cardiac arrest, I went into a local restaurant to grab a late dinner. The man next to me was none other than Neil Fingleton, who had graduated from my alma mater, Holy Cross, the year before. He wasn't difficult to spot, being 7-foot 7 and a beefy 7-7 at that.
I struck up a conversation with him, telling him I watched him play up on the hill (HC) a few times. He told me he was looking to play overseas, and had come back from a tryout. But other than that short exchange, we talked no more about basketball. He had been a history major at Holy Cross, as was I. We talked about professors still there, and our favorite classes, and such things. He asked me if it had served me in good stead, and I told him it was indispensable for understanding the world around us. He talked quite a bit about the differences between education in England and the States, and how Americans were perceived in the UK. His opinions were thoughtful and interesting, tempered with a worldly maturity rare in such a young man.
Neil was engaging, highly intelligent, and funny. A delightful young man. He joked about his receding hairline beginning to resemble mine, and if he went bald, he wasn't going to try any hairpieces because nobody could see it anyway. He was not a bit self-conscious about his height, as often very tall people can be.
After a very long and rather somber day (Dad had not regained consciousness) at the hospital, I was ready to turn in. I finished my dinner and a beer and headed out. But I thanked him for the conversation and wished him luck with his career. He did the same, wishing luck with my Dad.
I was sad to read a while later that a lingering back injury ended his playing career. I had no idea he had taken up acting, but thinking of how well-spoken and confident he was that night in Worcester, I am not surprised he did so well, and that he was so highly thought-of. He had parts in a number of films, and starred most recently in Game of Thrones, in which he played a gigantic hairy monster named Mag the Mighty. As I read remembrances from those who knew him, I am not at all surprised that Mr. Neil Fingleton was remembered fondly as a kind and intelligent gentleman.
I am very sorry he is gone, and gone so young. Rest in peace, sir. And no, you could never have gotten away with holding up a convenience store, even with a mask on.