Nearly three years ago we reported on two formerly top-secret vessels that were going to be given away (with a few strings attached) by the U.S. Navy. The duo — the Sea Shadow , which looks like an ocean-going Air Force F-117 stealth fighter, and the Hughes Mining Barge , her spy-satellite-evading berth — are still up for grabs but both are headed for the scrap heap if somebody doesn't step forward soon.
The vessels will go only to organizations or locales that will include them in naval museums. Would-be owners must be self-sustaining; neither the Navy nor the federal government provides any funds for maintenance after transfer. Over the past six decades the Navy has given away 48 ships, most having heroic records from famous battles and thus name recognition and a certain celebrity status.
Neither the Sea Shadow nor the barge has the same cachet. The first was kept under wraps for virtually her whole service career, while the second — as a storage barn for the other — is perhaps only slightly more glamorous than a garbage scow. It, however, does have a checkered past that makes it mildly interesting. Together with the Hughes Glomar Explorer , it was used in the attempted salvage of the sunken Soviet ballistic-missile submarine K-129 in 1974.
Glen Clark, the Navy's civilian ship-disposal chief, said he has received just one serious call about the two vessels, and it didn't lead to a written application.
Search for Amundsen's Plane
The Royal Norwegian Navy will participate in a search for the missing aircraft of 20th-century polar explorer Roald Amundsen, more than 80 years after his death. Scheduled to begin in the last week of August, the search will focus on a 40-square-mile area of the Arctic Ocean where researchers believe the explorer's plane crashed on 18 June 1928 while flying to the North Pole on a rescue mission.
Amundsen, who led the first successful expedition to the South Pole from 1910 to 1912 and is credited with being the first person to reach both the North and South poles, is a Norwegian national hero. Several previous expeditions have attempted to find the location of Amundsen's crash, the most recent in 2004. But this time the navy will provide an unmanned submersible - named Hugin 1000 — which can search for up to 18 hours at a time.
Hoga Closer to Home
On 5 February 2009, the Navy approved a transport and tow plan advanced by the city of North Little Rock, Arkansas, for the ex- Hoga (YTM-146), a 292-ton harbor tug, which is a veteran of the Pearl Harbor attack and now a National Historic Landmark. The plan had been under development since the vessel was donated on 28 July 2005. The approval allows the city to proceed with scheduling and remove the tug from the Maritime Administration's National Defense Reserve Fleet in Suisun Bay, California, to a display site in North Little Rock on the Arkansas River. The vessel will be refurbished and converted into a naval museum and memorial by the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum where she will join the ex- Razorback (SS-394) on public display.
Sub War Patrol Reports Available
The entire collection of World War II Submarine War Patrol Reports is now available on line through the Historic Naval Ships Association Web site. They are located at: http://hnsa.org/doc/subreports.htm .
At the end of each war patrol, submarine commanders wrote a report on the mission, which was then used as raw material for, among other things, intelligence, improving tactics, and evaluating commanders. More than 1,550 reports containing approximately 63,000 pages were generated. These were then photographed and reproduced on microfilm. Last year the microfilm was scanned into digital format. Many of the original documents are available at the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland.
Remembering the Houston
A gathering of 200 people in Houston, Texas, recently commemorated the 1 March 1942 sinking of the USS Houston (CA-30) near Java. The group included family members; friends; representatives of the American-British-Dutch-Australian force; the Australian, British, and the Dutch governments; and six American survivors.
The heavy cruiser and the Australian light cruiser HMAS Perth were spotted by a Japanese invasion force off northwestern Java in Sunda Strait, repeatedly torpedoed, and sunk after a fierce night battle. Of the original 1,069 officers and crew, 368 men survived the battle, sinking, and sharks and swam to a shore where hostile natives waited with machetes. They then endured 42 months of brutality under Japanese captors. For most of the Houston POWs it included backbreaking work building the "Death Railway" in Burma. Only 289 Sailors and Marines returned home.
In 1995 the Houston 's bell, recovered two decades earlier, was placed atop a 16-foot granite monument in Sam Houston Park near downtown Houston and dedicated to the gallant crew and the "Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast." The park hosts the annual service.
The Hornet Remembers
The USS Hornet Museum will commemorate the 40th anniversary of the aircraft carrier's historic recovery of Apollo 11 with Splashdown 2009, a three-day festival, 24-26 July, to take place on the ship, which is docked in Alameda, California. The special events honoring the return of the first men to walk on the moon will include ship tours, special interactive exhibits, and opportunities for visitors to meet NASA representatives, including astronauts, key naval officers, recovery pilots, and former USS Hornet crew members.
On Saturday, 25 July, the featured speaker will be former astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the lunar module pilot for Apollo 11 and second man to walk on the moon. The festivities are open to the public, with many activities scheduled for families with children.
For more information on the USS Hornet Museum and Splashdown 2009, go to www.uss-hornet.org .
Toil Never Ends
Returning to work from retirement, the former Coast Guard tug Apalachee (WYTM-71) will become a maritime and Coast Guard museum ship in Cleveland, Ohio, beginning in June. As part of the city's lakefront revitalization project, the tug will be used for educational purposes as well as a working venue for organizations such as the Sea Scouts, Navy Sea Cadets, Coast Guard Auxiliary, and the Coast Guard and Navy reserve.
Commissioned in 1943, the Apalachee was assigned to Baltimore, Maryland, until her transfer to Portland, Maine, in September 1984 where she remained until decommissioning in April 1986.
The U.S. Coast Guard Tug Association is seeking donations for maintenance, restoration, and repairs. For more information, contact the association at: P.O. Box 771535, Lakewood, OH 44107 or call (603) 547-7375.
The Naval War College Foundation will award one grant of $1,000 — the Edward S. Miller Fellowship in Naval History — to the researcher with the greatest need who will use the naval history research materials in the Naval War College's Archives, Naval Historical Collection, Naval War College Museum, and Henry E. Eccles Library. The recipient will be a research fellow in the Naval War College's Maritime History Department.
Applicants should submit a detailed research proposal that includes a full statement of financial need and comprehensive research plan for optimal use of Naval War College materials, curriculum vitae, at least two letters of recommendation, and relevant background information to: Miller Naval History Fellowship Committee, Naval War College Foundation, 686 Cushing Road, Newport, RI 02841-1207, by 1 August 2009. For further information, contact the chair of the selection committee at [email protected] . Employees of the U.S. Naval War College or any agency of the U.S. Department of Defense are not eligible for consideration.