The Bonhomme Richard (foreground) engages HMS Serapis in the Battle of Flamborough Head, 23 September 1779.

On Our Scope

February 2024
In this issue we run the gamut from John Paul Jones storming across the deck of the Bonhomme Richard to the birth of the nuclear Navy.
In support of landings in the Marshall Islands, F4U Corsairs make a low-level strafing run on the lookout for ground targets. A downed Japanese Zero lies decaying on the beach below, and U.S. Navy vessels in the distance bombard enemy positions. The assault on the Marshalls in January–February 1944 was hailed as “probably the most perfect operation of its kind in the war.”

A Double-Edged Sword

By Andrew K. Blackley
February 2024
The First Prize winner in the 2023 CNO Naval History Essay Contest looks at the numerous Pacific island bases and airfields left over from World War II—and the potential threat ...
Wielding four aircraft carriers, a battleship, and other warships, the British Pacific Fleet (BPF) delivered “a psychological, as well as a military, blow” to Japan in July–August 1945. Supermarine Seafires (foreground) and Grumman Avengers (background) crowd the armored flight deck of HMS Implacable before a late-war mission.

Making Good Once More

By Nicholas Evan Sarantakes
February 2024
In the final raids against the Japanese Home Islands in 1945, the British Pacific Fleet rose to the occasion, adding “another proud chapter in the history of the Royal Navy.”
6 December 1917: The munitions ship Mont-Blanc exploded in Halifax Harbor following a collision with another ship. The blast vaporized the iron-hulled ship, flattened much of the city, and killed or gravely injured thousands.

Havoc in Halifax

By Robert L. Willett
February 2024
It was a catastrophic occurrence of historic proportions: the gargantuan 1917 explosion of an ammunition ship loaded for transport to the Western Front in World War I.
Nautilus, the Navy’s first nuclear-powered submarine, which Rickover was instrumental in bringing to fruition. But the Nautilus actually stood on the shoulders of an earlier sub project.

The First Atomic Submarine

By Norman Polmar
February 2024
Years before the launching of the Nautilus, the Naval Research Laboratory labored throughout the 1940s on the concepts and prototypes that would culminate in the birth of the nuclear Navy.
Codenamed Project Sock, the 1,810-foot long floating airfield proved the culminating achievement for the ambitious and bizarre Project Habbakuk and one of the more bizarre military engineering experiments of World War II.

Pieces of the Past

February 2024
Today’s nuclear-powered aircraft carriers of the Gerald R. Ford class have a length of approximately 1,100 feet—the longest of any warship ever constructed and fielded by the U.S. Navy.
Fresh out of flight training on the eve of World War II, young Noel Gaylor became squadron mates with two of the legends of U.S. naval aviation—Butch O’Hare (left) and Jimmy Thach. Gaylor remembered Thach as “a remarkable man, a remarkable officer, and a remarkable leader in so many ways.”

Fighting Three (VF-3)

By Admiral Noel A. M. Gayler, U.S. Navy (Retired)
February 2024
When U.S. prisoners of war were released from captivity in 1973, Admiral Gayler, as Commander-in-Chief, Pacific, welcomed them home from Vietnam.
Ghost Ship

Superstitions and the Sea

By Lieutenant Commander Thomas J. Cutler, U.S. Navy (Retired)
February 2024
Superstition will likely remain tucked away in the sailor’s sea bag to emerge when strange happenings seem to defy logic.
Vessels of the Union Navy’s Mississippi River Squadron, shown here during the 1862 Battle of Island Number Ten, needed manpower—and those who escaped from slavery and joined the service as “contrabands” proved a valuable asset to the war effort.

Contraband Sailors of the USS Avenger

By Sandy Brass Jenkins
February 2024
In towns along the war-torn Mississippi, those who went from slavery to enlistment in the U.S. Navy in the Civil War forged a legacy that continues to inspire generations later.