"Improving the Breed"
(See N. Polmar, pp. 22-27, October 2007 Naval History)
Martin A. Snyder
Another significant event took place on the Franklin D. Roosevelt (CVB-42) in November 1946. After the McDonnell XFD-1 Phantom (shown on page 26) conducted its trials, the Navy needed other jet-powered aircraft for aviators to gain carrier operation experience. It acquired a P-80 that Lockheed modified with catapult bridle hooks, an arresting gear hook, and strengthened structure and landing gear.
It was never intended that the Lockheed fighter would be used in fleet service. The aircraft's carrier suitability was evaluated at the Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Maryland. The test pilot was then—Lieutenant Colonel Marion E. Carl, U.S. Marine Corps, who was also my boss when I was a neophyte civilian flight-test engineer. It was planned that the P-80 would also conduct tests on a carrier.
Although I was not assigned to the P-80 project, Carl authorized me to join the flight-test contingent to conduct and observe the trials. My assignment was to "look, listen, learn and keep out of the way." The P-80 was lifted onto the FDR, and we boarded her at the Norfolk Navy Yard. The next day we departed to cruise about 200 miles offshore. Two or three days were spent with Colonel Carl making a number of successful unassisted and catapult takeoffs and arrested landings. When completed, he flew the P-80 back to Patuxent.
It was about a week later that transportation on a destroyer was arranged so the rest of us could return to Norfolk and then Patuxent. During that time, we enjoyed tours as well as free run of the ship and could explore her thoroughly. I have never forgotten that experience.
"The Long Campaign for Guadalcanal"
(See center spread, August 2007 and J. M. Webb, pp. 6-7, December 2007 Naval History)
Richard G. Nelson
Commander Webb's concern regarding the lack of recognition for VF-5 when they were stationed at Henderson Field in September 1942 caught my attention. John B. Lundstrom in The First Team and the Guadalcanal Campaign (Naval Institute Press, 1994), superbly detailed VF-5's contribution, consisting of resources from the Enterprise (CV-6) and the Saratoga (CV-3), to the defense of Guadalcanal. Also, Commander Webb's next-door neighbor—then-Ensign Francis Roland Register— is mentioned many times in the book for his participation in the Battle of the Eastern Solomons and the Guadalcanal defense.
Both of Mr. Lundstrom's books, this and The First Team: Pacific Naval Air Combat from Pearl Harbor to Midway (Naval Institute Press, 1984), are excellent. I especially like his treatment of the Battle of the Coral Sea, as that battle's details have, in my opinion, been overshadowed by the literary interest in the Battle of Midway. His books have given me a better understanding of how events led up to Midway and continued later in the Solomons.
Editor's Note: Mr. Lundstrom is also the author of Black Shoe Carrier Admiral: Frank Jack Fletcher at Coral Sea, Midway, and Guadalcanal (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2006)
(See October 2007 Naval History)
Loy J. Carver
I wonder if you know the visible portion of the flag hoist on the Midway as pictured on the cover reads: MIDW HOME OF THE BRAVE. Being a signalman, I couldn't help but notice.
(See P. Stillwell, p. 2, August 2007 Naval History)
Rear Admiral Edward K. Walker Jr., U.S. Navy (Retired)
Through luck or fate, I happened to be in the center of the action during the Falkland Islands War. I was the assistant chief of staff for Logistics Readiness and Atlantic Fleet supply officer. In that capacity, the fleet weapons officer and the fleet petroleum officer worked directly for me, and were deeply involved with our participation in the Falklands events.
I do not remember when Admiral Harry D. Train II was briefed on the Sidewinder missile shortage, but I, and my weapons officer, Captain Ron Stoops, who came to me from commanding the Red Rippers (VF-11), gave a number of weapon and ordnance availability briefs during that time. A good many of them, unfortunately, were reports of shortages.
Another area of high interest was petroleum of all types, but particularly Navy special and aviation fuels. My petroleum gang, headed by then Commander Dave Ruble, later a rear admiral and Atlantic Fleet supply officer himself, was kept going heel and toe the whole time. We very quietly provided replenishment in the South Atlantic and to Ascension Island. In addition, a large NATO fuel depot was at Loch Ewe in Scotland. The Brits had let their reserve stocks get to a very low point, so there was a real shortage of product to go into the Royal Navy replenishment ships. Lock Ewe had separate bunkers for USN, RN, and NATO fuel. We solved the problem by running fuel out of our tanks at night down into the Brit tanks, from where it could be pumped into their resupply ships.
Another of my people, Air Force Colonel Jim O'Connor, the Military Airlift Command liaison officer, practically lived on the phone to Ascension and made several trips there to ensure our air-delivered support flowed smoothly. All in all, it was a period of intense logistics involvement.
In reference to Admiral Train's remark on the value of deterrence, at a follow-up conference with the Brits after the war, one of their top money guys in the Ministry of Defence made the following comment to me over a martini: "This should be a most vivid lesson on the cost of preparedness versus the cost of war. We calculate that the Falklands situation has cost more than it would have cost to keep our forces 'East of the Suez' from the '60s to the year 2000." Pretty dramatic!
"Historic Fleets—Not Glamorous, But They Had a Job to Do"
(See A. D. Baker III, pp. 10-11, June 2007 Naval History)
Despite their hulls being too slow and having antiquated equipment for use by the post-war Navy, the service brought back three Liberty AGs (and two Victory AGs) in the mid-1960s as AGTRs, fitting them out at great cost. I was on board the USS Oxford (AGTR-1/AG-159) in 1968-79. The other Liberty's were the Georgetown (AGTR-2/AG-165) and Jamestown (AGTR-3/AG-166).
Their era ended after the intelligence ship disasters of the Liberty (AGTR-5) in 1967 and the Pueblo (AGER-2) off Korea the next year. The Oxford was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 19 December 1969.
She sure was slow—I can't argue with that!
"Historic Aircraft—A Very Able Mariner"
(See N. Polmar, pp. 14-15, December 2007 Naval History)
Of the some 660 PBM-5 Mariners built, only one remains. It is on display at the Pima Air & Space Museum in Tucson, Arizona, on loan from the National Air and Space Museum (NASM). It is a -5A amphibian version with Navy service from 1948 to 1953. After five years in storage, it was sold and passed through a number of civilian owners before being acquired by the NASM in 1972 for preservation.
"Pounding the Do Son Peninsula"
(See J. G. Robinson, pp. 50-55, August 2007 Naval History)
Lieutenant (junior grade) Robert M. Goff, U.S. Naval Reserve (Retired)
I served on the USS Newport News (CA-148) from February 1967 until October 1969 and made her first two WESTPAC cruises. The cruiser's photo that accompanies the article appears to have been taken in Pearl Harbor. Because of the ribbons mounted beneath the bridge (National Defense Service Medal only) it must have been taken before we got to Vietnam the first time in late September 1967.
A minor correction should be noted. Rear Admirals Combs, Kinney, and Bagley were Commander Cruiser Destroyer Group Seventh Fleet (CTG 70.8), not Cruiser Destroyer Force Vietnam.
The Newport News was one of three cruisers of the Des Moines—class—the Des Moines (CA-134), Salem (CA-139), and Newport News (CA-148). Although the Newport News was scrapped after the 1972 Turret Two accident and the Des Moines joined her in 2007 as scrap, the Salem can still be seen and toured in Quincy, Massachusetts.
Seeing your magazine encouraged me to rejoin the U.S. Naval Institute. I look forward to future issues of Proceedings and Naval History.
"Prelude to Kamikaze"
(See C. Edwards, pp. 28-33, October 2007 and J. B. DeFields, p. 66, December 2007 Naval History)
Stephen L. Moore
As a coauthor of The Buzzard Brigade: Torpedo Squadron Ten at War (Pictorial Histories Publishing, 1996), I agree with the assessment that a U.S. torpedo from a ditched Avenger sank the Porter (DD-356) during the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands.
In interviewing pilot Dick Batten and studying written accounts by his aircrew, Rex Holmgrin and Joe McMullin, we found their focus was on surviving the water landing and their sinking Avenger. Batten was knocked out in the crash and could not know what had happened to his torpedo. The men were busy breaking out their life raft. While none indicated that they thought their torpedo was the most likely culprit for hitting the Porter, it appears to be the most likely explanation in the absence of any Japanese claims from their submarines.
No blame was placed on the VT-10 airmen, and the incident should be considered as simply an unusual and unfortunate circumstance of war.
"Who was Henry Eckford?"
(See A. C. A. Jampoler, pp. 38-45, December 2007 Naval History)
Commander Tyrone Martin, U.S. Navy (Retired)
With regard to the caption on page 41, the Ohio was a ship-of-the-line, not a frigate. She was one of two out of nine authorized in 1816 that were not designed by Naval Constructor William Doughty. Eckford seems to have been given the opportunity as a reward for his wartime efforts. The reference to "a shady early history" is not understood. Like most of the liners, the Ohio was laid down rather quickly, but then left on the stocks as it became apparent that we were not soon to be at war again. Gradually, as the decades passed, most were launched and saw limited duty, largely as flagships for senior officers with egos to match the ships' size. The service generally saw the frigates, and especially the sloops-of-war or corvettes, as much more efficient units for the tasks to be performed.
The naval constructors, as originally created in 1794, came directly under the Secretary of War (and later, Navy) and were civilians. In the absence of any directive, the Board of Naval Commissioners, created in 1815, felt that the constructors who worked in the Navy yards under the board's purview must be subject to their orders. Several confrontations occurred over the years before the matter finally was settled in the 1820s. Naval constructors were commissioned in 1866, with "relative ranks" based on their years of service. They were eliminated from the Navy just before World War II. Today's Navy recalls their service in ships named USNS John Lenthall (T-AO-189), USS Frank Cable (AS-40), and USNS Joshua Humphreys (T-AO-188), as well as the David Taylor Model Basin.
"Naval History News—Rebuilding Memories"
(See B. Bleyer, pp. 8-9, October 2007 Naval History)
Captain C. J. Rabideau, JAGC, U.S. Navy Reserve (Retired)
The author was a bit premature in citing the end of the Catalina's fire-fighting career in the Pacific Northwest in the early '60s. Last August, one of the Cats was air dropping water on fires near Cheney, Washington, just south of Spokane. This is not uncommon out here. There are several Catalinas still in the business; it's a great, strong old airframe.
"Historic Fleets—Star-Crossed Sisters"
(See R. J. Cressman, pp. 12-13, December 2007 Naval History)
Commander Thomas M. Perkins, U.S Navy (Retired)
The author notes that Lynde B. McCormick and Robert B. Carney both served as Chief of Naval Operations during the Cold War. Admiral Carney served in that post from 1953 to 1955; however, Vice Admiral McCormick never officially held the position. After the death of Admiral Forrest Sherman he became acting Chief of Naval Operations.