Posts tagged ‘naval warfare’

FRIDAY FOTO (March 1, 2019)

The Night Watch.


(U.S. Navy photo Petty Officer 1st Class Michael DiMestico)

O.K. we admit it, your 4GWar editor’s inner artist was taken with the color and shadows of this Navy photo. Who are these folks and what are they doing and where are they doing it?

The Defense Department caption that came with this picture identifies the subjects as Sailors and Marines stand[ing] watch aboard the USS Kearsarge as it transits the Strait of Hormuz, February 15, 2019.

The Kearsarge (LHD-3) is a Wasp-class amphibious assault shipthe largest amphibious ships in the world. Resembling a small aircraft carrier, the Kearsarge’s main job is taking a 1,600-man Marine Expeditionary Unit to trouble a spot — for either combat or humanitarian relief operations — and then putting the Marines ashore via helicopters, tilt-rotor aircraft and various types of waterborne landing craft.

That said, this photo reminded us of Rembrandt’s massive 1642 painting commonly called “The Night Watch.” The Dutch master was commissioned to paint a group portrait of a militia company (the real title of the work is: Officers and Men of the Company of Captain Frans Banning Cocq and Lieutenant Wilhelm van Ruytenburgh). It was not your typical 17th Century class photo and the Captain and his men were not pleased.

It is not a night scene at all, but actually takes place during the day.  The Night Watch name was first applied at the end of the eighteenth century — long after Rembrandt was dead — when the painting had darkened considerably through the accumulation of many layers of dirt and varnish, according to art history professor Wendy Schaller.

Maybe it’s a stretch, but we think the above photo — titled Blue View — like Rembrandt’s Night Watch, does more than capture some sailors and Marines on duty.

March 1, 2019 at 2:20 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (December 9, 2016)

Kid, Meet the Boys of ’41.

75th Commemoration Event of the Attack on Pearl Harbor

U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Laurie Dexter

Pearl Harbor survivors greet a child during the 75th commemoration of the attacks on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii on December 7, 2016. This photo reminds us that these old timers were mostly boys of just 17, 18, 19 and 20-years-old when the Japanese aircraft came in low over the island of Oahu on that fateful Sunday morning in 1941. The Defense Department went all out with photos, videos and slideshows to commemorate the Day of Infamy. But to your 4GWAR editor, this Norman Rockwell-like photo best captured the meaning of the commemoration. These ancient warriors seem enchanted to meet someone from one of the future generations they were fighting for back in ’41.

The U.S. military co-hosted the event, which provided veterans, family members, service members and the community a chance to honor the sacrifices made by those who were present during the attacks.

A Pearl Harbor fact sheet notes the Japanese strike force consisted of 353 aircraft launched from four carriers. The attack killed 2,403 U.S. personnel, including 68 civilians, and destroyed or damaged 19 U.S. Navy ships, including 8 battleships. The three aircraft carriers of the U.S. Pacific Fleet were out to sea on maneuvers, however, and the Japanese were unable to locate them.

December 9, 2016 at 12:28 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: “Old Ironsides” Last Voyage — for Now

Heading to Dry Dock.

USS Constitution gets underway in Boston Harbor for the ship's 217th birthday cruise. This is Constitution's last scheduled cruise before entering dry dock in 2015 for three years of restoration work.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney)

USS Constitution gets underway in Boston Harbor for the ship’s 217th birthday cruise. This is Constitution’s last scheduled cruise before entering dry dock in 2015 for three years of restoration work.
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Victoria Kinney)

The oldest commissioned vessel in the U.S. Navy —  USS Constitution, better known as “Old Ironsides  — is heading for dry dock soon for several years of repairs and renovations.

Old Ironsides made a final tour of Boston Harbor on October 17 to commemorate the U.S. Navy 239th birthday and her own 217th birthday, according to the Navy.

The ship received  a 21-gun salute off Fort Independence on Castle Island in South Boston before  the 44-gun frigate returned to her berth at Charlestown Navy Yard.

More than 500 guests — individuals and organizations with long-standing ties to both the ship and the Navy — accompanied Constitution on her fifth and final demonstration voyage of 2014. It was also the historic warship’s final Boston Harbor underway (but not under sail) until 2018. She is scheduled to enter dry dock in March 2015 for a three-year planned restoration period.

Officials have said the effort is intended to more closely align Old Ironsides with its historical shape after decades of repairs that did not follow the original design, according to the Boston Globe.

Among the efforts, the Constitution will get new copper plates for the hull to make the ship more seaworthy. Officials will check the blueprints of the Constitution’s sister ship, the USS President, as they design the repairs. The repair work will include de-rigging and removal of the ship’s upper masts and offloading the ship’s long guns. Constitution will be open for public tours from Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. starting this week. The ship’s captain, Commander Sean Kearns, advises visitors who want to see the tall ship, should come and see her before she goes into dry dock in March.

The first time your 4GWAR editor saw the mighty frigate was back in the mid 1970s and she was in dry dock at Charlestown then.

To see a brief Navy video of The Last Ride, click here.

SHAKOSHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.



October 20, 2014 at 11:37 pm Leave a comment

FRIDAY FOTO (on Saturday: July 7, 2014)


U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Will Gaskill

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Will Gaskill

U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Brooks Graham (left) directs a landing craft air cushion (LCAC) into the well deck of the amphibious assault ship  USS Peleliu following a training exercise in the Pacific Ocean, June 25, 2014.

The Peleliu was on its way to Hawaii to participate in the multi-national sea-and-air exercise, Rim of the Pacific 2014. Twenty-two nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel participated in what is billed as the world’s largest maritime exercise — commonly known as RIMPAC — in and around the Hawaiian Islands.

To see more photos of RIMPAC 2014, click here.

Video of an LCAC in action


4GWAR’s FRIDAY FOTO feature didn’t take a day off for the Fourth of July holiday. A summer storm in the Washington, DC area Thursday afternoon (July 3) caused a power outage at 4GWAR “World Headquarters” knocking out our cable/internet access until today. We apologize to our visitors for the delay.

July 5, 2014 at 12:59 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the WAR of 1812 (June 22-June 28, 1814)

U.S. Victory at Sea.

On June 28, at the mouth of the English Channel, the American sloop of war, USS Wasp, captures and destroys the British sloop, HMS Reindeer.

U.S. Marines in the rigging of the USS Wasp fire down on the crew of the HMS Reindeer. (U.S. Marine Corps painting by Sgt. John xxxxxxxxx, courtesy U.. Marine Corps Museum)

U.S. Marines in the rigging of the USS Wasp fire down on the crew of the HMS Reindeer.
(U.S. Marine Corps 1945 painting by Staff Sgt. John F. Clymer, courtesy National Museum of the Marine Corps)

The Wasp, a ship-rigged sloop of war, is the fifth American ship to bear the name — the fourth in two years. The 24-gun Wasp, under the command of Master Commandant Johnston Blakely set sail on May 1 with orders to raid British commerce in the English Channel.

By late June the Wasp has taken seven British merchant vessels and is closing in on two more on the morning of the 28th, when the Reindeer, a 21-gun Cruizer-class brig-sloop, comes on the scene. The Reindeer, sailing out of Plymouth, is under orders to hunt down the Wasp.

The Wasp is the bigger ship with a bigger crew (173 sailors and Marines compared to 118 on the Reindeer) and more powerful guns. Because the winds were light, it took the two vessels half the day to draw close enough to fire effectively. The two ships traded broadsides for 20 minutes before the the Reindeer’s bow came to rest against the Wasp making them close enough for boarding parties to attack. The British boarding party was driven back under heavy fire from Marines in the Wasp’s rigging.

After repulsing the British boarding party, the American sailors and Marines swarmed over the shattered Reindeer, forcing the British to seek shelter below deck. The British commander, Captain William Manners, was killed along with 24 other sailors and Marines, 42 more were wounded.  American casualties were nine dead and 15 wounded.

The Reindeer was so badly damaged it couldn’t be salvaged, so Blakely ordered her set afire. The prisoners were taken aboard the Wasp or transferred to a neutral ship. Wasp had to sail to the French port of L’Orient for repairs for her own battle damage.

*** *** ***

War in Quebec.

Northern Front inthe War of 1812 (U.S. Army Office of Military History)

Northern Front in the War of 1812
(U.S. Army Office of Military History)

On the same day, across the Atlantic on the New York-Canadian border, U.S. troops skirmish for second time in two days with British forces at Odelltown, Lower Canada. There have been a series of indecisive skirmishes on the border between New York and Lower Canada (what is now Quebec) during the spring and summer of 1814.

Military records of the time, according to the Website North Country Now, report that U.S. troops from the 30th and 31st U.S. Infantry regiments advance from Plattsburgh to Champlain and Chazy near the border  west of Lake Champlain. Lieutenant Colonel Benjamin Forsyth, with 70 riflemen, advances to Odelltown, south of LaColle in Quebec, where they are attacked by about 200 lightly armed British troops. The Americans suffer one killed and five wounded. The British, three killed and five wounded. Forsyth withdraws to Champlain in New York.

Northern Vermont and New York near LaColle, Quebec

Northern Vermont and New York near LaColle, Quebec

But on the 28th, Forsyth is ordered to advance into Canada again to lure the British into attacking the Americans and chasing them back across the border where other U.S. troops are waiting to ambush them. The plan works but as 150 Canadian Indians allied with the British advance toward the ambush site, Forsyth steps up on a log to get a better view and is shot and killed by an Indian. The U.S. troops open fire, driving off the Indians, who suffer 17 dead.



June 23, 2014 at 1:40 am Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (April 20-26, 1814)



USS Frolic Captured

The USS Wasp, a sister ship of the USS Frolic, an American sloop-of-war in 1814.

The USS Wasp, a sister ship of the USS Frolic, an American sloop-of-war in 1814.

The  USS Frolic, is one of three new American sloops-of-war, when she first put to sea on February 18, 1814. The other two are the USS Peacock and the US Wasp. During a cruise of the West Indies, between March 29 and April 3, Frolic sinks two British merchant ships and a South American privateer preying on ships of all nations in the Caribbean.

On April 20, 1814 Frolic encounters the British 36-gun frigate HMS Orpheus and the 12-gun schooner HMS Shelburne in the Florida Strait. Frolic tries to outrun the two warships – cutting away an anchor and dumping some of her cannons over the side — but after a six-hour chase, the Orpheus and Shelburne catch up off the coast of Cuba and take Frolic for a prize. The British rename the Frolic the Florida and press her into His Majesty’s Service.

Note: The USS Frolic was named for the HMS Frolic, which lost a seabattle with another Aerican ship named the USS Wasp in 1812. Shortly after that action, more British ships appeared on the scene and captured the Wasp and re-took the badly damaged Frolic as well.


*** *** ***

Blockade Extended

Starting on April 25, 1814 the Royal Navy begins extending its blockade of U.S. ports up into the waters  off New England. The British began the blockade in November 1812 when they post ships to discourage merchantmen and warships from leaving port. The blockade is  extended from Long Island to the mouth of the Mississippi River by the middle of 1813.

The British blockade bottles up ships in port, causes economic hardship, drives up prices and — perhaps most importantly — deprives the federal government of much-needed revenue at a time when Congress ddoesn’t want to raise taxes to pay for a larger Army and more ships for the Navy. Federalists oppose the war as bad for business and don’t want to fund it, while the Jeffersonian “War Hawks” from the South and West, think the war will be short won’t need much money. They oppose restoring taxes eliminated during Thomas Jefferson’s administration, according to George Daughan in “1812, The Navy’s War.”

HMS Shannon takes the  American frigate, USS Chesapeake.

HMS Shannon takes the American frigate, USS Chesapeake.

While several U.S. warships like the USS Constitution and USS Essex are able to elude the blockade and wreak havoc on the open seas, the collapse of Napoleon’s empire frees up more British ships for blockade duty — making it increasingly hard for merchantmen and even Navy ships to make their way out to sea. In 1813, the frigate USS Chesapeake was captured by the HMS Shannon when it tries to sail out of Boston Harbor. Other U.S. frigates are trapped in rivers of Connecticut and Virginia.

The British initially spare the maritime economy of New England from blockade for two primary reasons: First they needed the food and other supplies the Yankees were shipping them from Boston, Portsmouth and other New England ports. Secondly, they know the Federalists opposed the war to begin with and anything that can drive a political wedge between New England and the rest of the country will help Britain’s war effort.

But with more ships available, extending the blockade and squeezing New England merchants, ship owners and seamen seems a quicker  strategy. Late in the war, New Englanders will meet in Hartford, Connecticut to consider a solution — possibly even secession from the union.







April 21, 2014 at 6:13 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (April 6-April 12, 1814)

Bad News from Europe

Napoleon's retreat from Moscow (via Wikipedia)

Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow
(via Wikipedia)

 Despite naval victories on Lake Erie and in head-to-head battles at sea, the war is not going well for the United States. Numerous attempts to invade Canada across the Niagara and St. Lawrence frontiers in New York and Vermont have failed – usually because of poor communication and inept leadership.

The frigate USS Essex has been taken by the British off the coast of South America. Another, the USS United States, is bottled up by the British Navy in Connecticut’s Thames River along with two other vessels – the Macedonian and the Hornet. Yet another frigate, the USS Constellation, is trapped at Norfolk, Virginia by the widening British naval blockade of U.S. ports.

Though disappointed by the setbacks, President James Madison is still hopeful the British will come to the negotiating table to rid themselves of a military distraction while still battling Napoleon Bonaparte in Europe.

But the emperor’s ambitions have met with defeat and setbacks following his ruinous invasion of Russia in 1812-1813. A coalition of Austria, Britain, Prussia, Russia, Sweden and several smaller German states has pushed Napoleon’s armies out of Germany and Spain. On March 31, Paris falls to the allies. French lawmakers and a growing number of generals refuse withdraw their support for Napoleon and within days the emperor is forced to abdicate. On April 11, 1814 the Treaty of Fontainebleau is signed by representatives of France, Austria, Russia and Prussia – ending Bonaparte’s reign as Emperor of the French.

Napoleon bids farewell to the Old Guard (via Wikipedia)

Napoleon bids farewell to the Old Guard
(via Wikipedia)

On the same day in London, The Times notes that reinforcements for British troops in North America “all sailed last week,” according to George C. Daughan, in his history “1812 The Navy’s War.” The troops, many of them veterans of Wellington’s campaign against the French in Spain, are headed to Bermuda and then to Quebec. Plans are being drawn up to attack the U.S. capital, Washington, and New Orleans. The number of British regulars opposing the Americans will swell to about 35,000 troops by the end of 1814.


April 6, 2014 at 4:02 pm 1 comment

DEFENSE: Why They’re Re-thinking the LCS Fleet

Trying Something New

The U.S. Navy has a nearly silent TV commercial that notes 70 percent of the world is covered by water, 80 percent of the people in the world live near water and 90 percent of all trade around the world travels by water.

The ad concludes with a massive aircraft carrier cruising past. Get the message?

But the Navy and the Marine Corps have both acknowledged that a lot of those people living near water reside in cities on the coast or along rivers where big ships can’t go. In future conflicts that could pose an access problem.

The Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) conducting sea trials off the coast of Southern California in 2013. The Freedom variant of LCS is built by Lockheed Martin.  (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Evans)

The Littoral Combat Ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) conducting sea trials off the coast of Southern California in 2013. The Freedom variant of LCS is built by Lockheed Martin. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class James Evans)

The solution was supposed to be the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) – a vessel small and light enough to naviagte shallow coastal waters, but carrying enough armament to do the jobs of chasing submarines and clearing away mines in “premissive environments” where the opposition isn’t packing a lot firepower — think: pirate strongholds and failed states without an air force or long range missiles.

Since the $32 billion program began in 2002, the LCS development has encountered numreous problems including cost overruns and a complex competition that led to construction of two separate designs by Lockheed Martin and Austal (an Australian company). There have also been firepower, crew manning and vulnerability issues. Critics say it is too lightly armed and armored to survive battle in a contested area, like the waters off China or North Korea.

“LCS is not expected to be survivable in high-intensity combat,” according to a 2013 report by the Pentagon’s Director of Operational Test and Evaluation, because the LCS design requirements do not include “survivability features necessary to conduct sustained combat operations in a major conflict as expected for the Navy’s other surface combatants.”

Facing severe post-Afghanistan budget cuts, the Pentagon wants to stop acquisition of both versions of the ship – at 32 vessels instead of the planned 52.

The USS Independence (LCS 2) off the coast of Southern California in 2012. The trimaran variant is built by Austal. (U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Jan Shultis)

The USS Independence (LCS 2) off the coast of Southern California in 2012. The trimaran variant is built by Austal.
(U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Jan Shultis)

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Monday (February 24) that he was concerned the Navy was “relying too heavily on the LCS” to achieve its long-term goals for expanding the size of the fleet to 300 ships to meet demands for global presence.

“We need to closely examine whether the LCS has the independent protection and firepower to operate and survive against a more advanced military adversary and emerging new technologies, especially in the Asia Pacific,” Hagel said, noting that if the program is allowed to grow to 52 ships, the lightly armed LCS would represent one-sixth of the future 300-ship Navy.

“Given continued fiscal restraints, we must direct future shipbuilding resources toward platforms that can operate in every region and along the full spectrum of conflict,” Hagel concluded.

So he’s directed the Navy to submit alternative proposals for procuring “a capable and lethal small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate.

Those proposals — to include a completely new design, existing ship designs and a modified LCS design — are due back to Hagel later this year in time for planning next year’s budget request.

The initial version of the of the Oliver Hazard Perry- class  guided missile frigate (FFG-7). (1979 U.S. Navy file photo)

The initial version of the of the Oliver Hazard Perry- class guided missile frigate (FFG-7).
(1979 U.S. Navy file photo)

Speaking at a defense industry conference in Washington today, Admiral James Winnefeld, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, defended the decision, calling it smart “to look at what else can we do” with the existing two LCS designs “or with a different concept to make sure we are covered in the future..”

However the new vessel turns out, Winnefeld told Bloomberg’s BGOV Defense Summit, he thinks there is great potential for it to perform additional jobs, including strike and special operations missions, as well as offering a potential platform for the Marines.

But the admiral indicated it was too soon to count the LCS out completely. “I think the LCS is going through it’s V-22 phase,” he said, harking back to the criticisms of the Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft during its development, especially after several fatal crashes.

From Africa to Afghanistan to East Asia, V-22s are now very popular with area commanders. “There’s a demand signal out there in the real world today – I wish I could tell you all about it – for V-22s. I wish we had more out there,” Winnefeld said.


Our friend and colleague, Aviation Week’s Mike Fabey, is the winner of the 2014 Timothy White Award, given by the American Business Media association to a journalist who demonstrates “bravery, integrity, passion and quality of product.” Fabey, Aviation Week’s Naval Editor, was cited for his work detailing design, fabrication and operational problems with the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship.  To see more, click here.


February 26, 2014 at 11:39 pm Leave a comment

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (Feb. 9-Feb. 15, 1814)

At Sea

The U.S.S. Constitution, a three-masted heavy frigate, has been prowling the Caribbean Sea since New Year’s Eve, looking to intercept British shipping and commerce.

USS Constitution underway (Photo by xxxxxxxxxxxx)

USS Constitution underway
(Photo by Hunter Stires via Wikipedia)

This week, “Old Ironsides,” as the American frigate is known, will take the HMS Pictou a 14-gun schooner on Valentine’s Day 1814, near Barbados.

The Pictou, is escorting the armed merchant the Lovely Ann from Bermuda to Suriname, when it is spotted by the Constitution under the command of Captain Charles Stewart. The American warship captured the Lovely Ann, taking her for a prize and then fired on Pictou.

The 54-gun Constitution stopped Pictou with a shot through her sails, capturing the smaller British vessel. Stewart decides to keep the Lovely Ann but orders the Pictou destroyed. The Pictou was one of five British warships captured or destroyed by the Constitution during the War of 1812. In addition to Pictou, they were HMS Guerriere, Java, Cyane and Levant.

On this Caribbean cruise, Stewart and Constitution captured five British merchant ships and Pictou before problems with the main mast force the captain to take Old Ironsides back to port.

Constitution, one of the six original frigates authorized by Congress in 1794, remains in service today – the oldest, still functioning warship in the world. The other frigates, that formed the backbone of the U.S. Navy were: President, United States, Constellation, Chesapeake and Congress.

February 10, 2014 at 1:53 am Leave a comment

SHAKO: Battle of Lake Erie, 1813

Perry Triumphant

The Battle of Lake Erie (via Wikipedia)

The Battle of Lake Erie by William Henry Powell (via Wikipedia)

We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” With those immortal words, Oliver Hazard Perry summarized his smashing victory over a British-Canadian squadron at Put-In-Bay at the western end of Lake Erie.

On September 10, 1813, Perry — commanding nine U.S. ships — defeated and captured a squadron of six British ships. The painting above, which hangs in the U.S. Capitol, illustrates one of the most dramatic moments in the four-hour-long naval engagement.

Perry’s flag ship, the 20-gun brig, USS Lawrence, was virtually shot to splinters and most of her crew killed or wounded. Perry transferred his command to the Niagara — another 20-gun brig a half mile away — rowing there under heavy gunfire. He took with him his personal pennant, a large blue flag with the motto: “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” Those were the last words of Captain James Lawrence, a friend  who was killed when his frigate, the USS Chesapeake, was taken in battle by the HMS Shannon in June.

Perry took the Niagara on the offensive, firing on the two largest British ships, the 17-gun sloop Queen Charlotte and the 19-gun, Detroit. Most of the senior British officers were killed or wounded leaving less experienced men in command. The two British ships collided and became entangled in each other’s rigging. Perry sailed up and fired broadside after broadside. Even though they had fewer ships, the British squadron had more canons, 63 to the Americans’ 54. But most of the U.S. guns were heavy carronades which were more effective at close range. Shortly after 3 p.m. the four largest British ships surrendered. Two small gunboats tried to flee but they were captured.

Here is the full message that Perry sent to Army Gen. William Henry Harrison after the battle on the lake:

Dear General:

We have met the enemy and they are ours. Two ships, two brigs, one schooner and one sloop.

Yours with great respect and esteem,
O.H. Perry

With this victory, the United States took control of Lake Erie and threatened Detroit, which the British and their Indian and Canadian were forced to evacuate later in September. The victory on the lake also set events in motion for the decisive Battle of the Thames in Canada a month later.

— — —



SHAKO is an occasional 4GWAR posting on military history, traditions and culture. For the uninitiated, a shako is the tall, billed headgear worn by many armies from the Napoleonic era to about the time of the American Civil War. It remains a part of the dress or parade uniform of several military organizations like the corps of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy, West Point, New York.


September 11, 2013 at 11:53 pm Leave a comment

Older Posts


August 2022


%d bloggers like this: