2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 4,800 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 8 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher

Born in Brooklyn, NY, Zachary Fisher began working in construction when he was 16. He and his brothers formed Fisher Brothers, today one of the building industry’s leaders, contributing some of the most prestigious international corporate office buildings to the New York City skyline. Over the past years Fisher has been a key part of the business’ success.

Fisher and his wife, Elizabeth, both always felt strongly about the young men and women who serve in the U.S. Armed Forces. During WWII Elizabeth served in the USO, entertaining thousands of troops while they were away from home. Zachary, unable to serve because of a leg injury sustained in a construction accident, assisted the U.S. Coast Guard in the construction of coastal defenses.

When still active in Fisher Brothers, Fisher decided to devote more of his time and energy to his country. In 1978 he founded the Intrepid Museum Foundation, hoping to save the historic and battle-scarred aircraft carrier Intrepid from scrapping. Through his efforts the vessel became the foundation of the Intrepid Sea Air Space Museum, which opened in New York City in 1982. To this day Mr. Fisher has contributed millions of dollars to the establishment and operation of the Museum.

Intrepid hosts close to 1,000,000  visitors each year, of all ages and from all parts of the world. Numerous educational programs are hosted aboard her. 10,000 New York City schoolchildren receive supplemental science and history lessons there; hundreds more participate in Cadet Corps and Sea Cadet after school and summer programs; and at-risk high school youth are offered vocational training and counseling in the tremendously successful VoTech program.

Saddened by tragedies which cost the lives of military personnel who often leave behind spouses and children, the Fishers, through the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Armed Services Foundation, have made numerous contributions to their families. These began with a $10,000 contribution to each of the families of the 238 victims of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Since then they have given $25,000 contributions to many families who have lost a loved one in accidents involving the military. Hundreds of  families from all branches of the armed services have received this support. Each of these contributions was sent within days of the tragedy, accompanied by a letter from the Fishers. They wrote that while nothing can compensate for the loss of a loved one, it is hoped that they can take comfort in knowing that others care enough about them and their families to help them through a difficult time. The Fishers have given million of dollars in such contributions.

Believing too in the valuable and dedicated services of firefighters, who like our military place themselves in harm’s way to protect us, the Fishers have made similar contributions to the families of New York City firefighters lost in the line of duty.

The Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Armed Services Foundation also provides scholarship funds to active and former service members and their families. Since 1987 more than 700+ students have received scholarships of between $500 and $,2000, assisting in education which otherwise might not have been affordable.

In early 1993, the Fishers donated $500,000 for the establishment of The Fisher Rowing Center in Hubbard Hall, the Naval Academ’s new athletic facility. They also contributed $1.5 million for the creation of the Academy’s Family & Conference Center.

In 1990, the Fishers began the Fisher House Program, dedicating over $15 million to the construction of comfort homes for families of hospitalized military personnel. The houses, built by a leading architectural firm, are spacious and airy, with lots of outdoor space in addition to private bedrooms and common living and dining room and kitchen space. The houses are designed to provide all the comforts of a “home away from home,”, and to allow the families to support one another through their difficult times. More than 23 Fisher Houses are now open, and the Fishers were committed to opening a total of 26 by the end of 1996. In a similar effort, the Fishers have pledged $1.4 million for the establishment of a child care center at Camp Pendleton Marine Base in California.

The Fishers’ newest effort, then, was the Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher Medical Foundation, founded to fund research in, and work towards a cure for Alzheimer’s disease. In partnership with David Rockefeller, Chairman of the Board of Rockefeller University in New York, a new research center was founded to help develop a cure for this debilitating disease. Mr. Fisher and Mr. Rockefeller joined in a $4 million contribution to begin this center. Through the Fishers’ millions have been dedicated  to date toward this effort, and will continue  in the future.

Role of the Battleship in WWII

The first modern battleship had its inception with the launching of HMS Dreadnought by Great Britain in 1906. HMS Dreadnought was the world’s first all big-gun, fast, heavily armoured capital ship and her launching made all the major ships in all other navies obsolete. Her design features  were rapidly copied by other navies and by 1914 the modern big gun heavily armoured battleship dominated naval warfare.

Battleships fought their first and only decisive action of World War I in the Battle of Jutland in May 1916. Although the British fleet won the day and forced the Germans to retire to the safety of their ports, the German design and construction of battleships was shown to be superior. After the Battle of Jutland the Germans never again risked their battleships in open conflict with His Majesty’s fleet but turned instead to unrestricted submarine warfare.

After the end of WWI the battleship continued to dominate naval strategy. In an effort to reduce the expenditures required to fund new battleships the United States, Britain, France, Japan and Italy agreed to a moritorium on new battleship construction in 1922 at the Washington Naval Conference. As a result of this agreement, new American battleships in construction were broken up and scrapped. No new battleships were built until 1936 when the USS North Carolina was authorized by Congress.

During these years the nature of naval power was changing as a result of the perfection of the airplane and the introduction of a new capital ship utilizing this new weapon – the aircraft carrier. Supporters of air power argued that the battleship as the principal capital ship of the navy was obsolete because of the long reach of naval aircraft. This view was strengthened early in WWII when the British carried out a carrier strike on the Italian battle fleet at Taranto on November 11, 1940. Subsequent Japanese carrier strikes on the American battle-fleet at Pearl Harbor and on the British ships HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse confirmed the new order of naval Strategy.

While the rise of the aircraft carrier forever altered naval strategy it did not totally eclipse the importance of the battleship. In both the Atlantic and the Pacific, old American battleships carried out extensive bombardments on enemy held shores while new generations of fast American battleships escorted aircraft carriers and provided them with a dense thicket of antiaircraft fire when necessary. Both old and new American battleships saw heavy service during the war providing cover for other ships and eventually bombarding the Japanese home islands in 1945. When the war in the Pacific ended on September 2, 1945, the surrender of the Japanese was signed on board the battleship USS Missouri anchored in Tokyo Harbor. Although replaced by the aircraft carrier as the principal capital ship of the navy, the battleship saw important and useful service during WWII and contributed to the eventual American victory.

Loss of Historic Integrity

The USS Missouri was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1972 because she was the site of the signing of the instrument of Japanese surrender in WWII and because she was the last battleship completed by the United States.

USS Missouri

In 1984s Navy began the reactivation of USS Missouri. The ship was moved from her port in Bremerton, Washington, to Long Beach, California. The modernization of USS Missouri involved the complete alteration of the historic fabric of the ship. When USS Missouri emerged from her refit and joined the Navy as an active ship she no longer represented a WWII Iowa class battleship. USS Missouri was a modern navy ship designed in the 80s and became an active part of the fleet.

As detailed in the United States Department of the Interior (National Park Service) Report OMB No. 1024-0018 (Exp. 10-31-84) it is written…” Due to the loss of historic integrity USS Missouri cannot be recommended for designation as a National Historic Landmark).

Personalized FCM Memento






The Colors of Old Glory

What do the colors of the Flag mean?

Sentimental writers and orators sometimes ascribe meanings to the colors in the flag. The practice is erroneous, as are statements on this subject attributed to George Washington and other founders of the country.

From the book “Our Flag” published in 1989 by the House of Representatives…

On July 4, 1776, the Continental Congress passed a resolution authorizing a committee to devise a seal for the United States of America. This mission, designed to reflect the Founding Fathers’ beliefs, values, and sovereignty of the new Nation, did not become a reality until June 20, 1782. In heraldic devices, such as seals, each element has a specific meaning. Even colors have specific meanings. The colors red, white, and blue did not have meanings for The Stars and Stripes when it was adopted in 1777. However, the colors in the Great Seal did have specific meanings. Charles Thompson, Secretary of the Continental Congress, reporting to Congress on the Seal, stated:

“The colors of the pales (the vertical stripes) are those used in the flag of the United States of America; White signifies purity and innocence, Red, hardiness & valour, and Blue, the color of the Chief (the broad band above the stripes) signifies vigilance, perseverance & justice.” 
Also this from a book about the flag published in 1977 by the House of Representatives…

“The star is a symbol of the heavens and the divine goal to which man has aspired from time immemorial; the stripe is symbolic of the rays of light emanating from the sun.”

The quote below concerning gold fringe on the Flag is from the book “So Proudly We Hail, The History of the United States Flag” Smithsonian Institute Press 1981, by Wiliam R. Furlong and Byron McCandless. “The placing of a fringe on Our Flag is optional with the person of organization, and no Act of Congress or Executive Order either prohibits the practice, according to the Institute of Hearaldry. Fringe is used on indoor flags only, as fringe on flags on outdoor flags would deteriorate rapidly. The fringe on a Flag is considered and ‘honorable enrichment only’, and its official use by the US Army dates from 1895.. A 1925 Attorney General’s Opinion states: ‘the fringe does not appear to be regarded as an integral part of the Flag, and its presence cannot be said to constitute an unauthorized addition to the design prescribed by statute. An external fringe is to be distinguished from letters, words, or emblematic designs printed or superimposed upon the body of the flag itself. Under law, such additions might be open to objection as unauthorized; but the same is not necessarily true of the fringe.'” The gold trim is generally used on ceremonial indoor flags.


U.S. Naval Academy – The Genesis of –

After America won its independence, the Continental Congress decided the new nation did not need its Continental Navy.

A Navy, they assumed, would only lure young men to open seas and new adventures. To alleviate any temptation, Congress sold the Navy’s only ships, leaving the Merchant Marines to tackle any problems with unwelcome intruders. Only when the country’s export merchants began to be hijacked by pirates did the Continental Congress realize how naive they were in their belief that the new republic’s principles would be enough to ensure democracy. So in 1794, President George Washington authorized the building of six ships which would be supplied with presidential appointees desiring a naval career.

Based on the British theory of “catching them young” and letting the youngsters learn through experience, the new nation began its training of naval officers, assigning schoolmasters to teach the youngsters the principles of writing, math and navigation. Unfortunately, the schoolmaster, who by law was a chaplain, wasn’t the most knowledgeable in nautical theories. In addition, an education was secondary to the shipboard duties, and classroom attendance wasn’t enforced.

The French, on the other hand, combined academics in classrooms on land and at sea. Naval hero John Paul Jones was so impressed with this system, that in 1783, he proposed Congress establish such a system to train naval officers in mathematics and mechanics. Unfortunately, the idea of training Sailors on anything other than a ship received little support. After all, the French had few victories at sea to validate their method of training.

From 1814 to 1844, the push to establish a naval academy was proposed by seven secretaries of the Navy and one president. There were also more than 20 bills introduced in the Senate. Of those 20, two passed the Senate, but died in the House.

In an indirect way, the change in opinion can be attributed to Secretary of War John Canfield Spencer who, using his political clout in 1842, managed to get a presidential appointment for his trouble-maker son on board the Naval ship Somers. Commanded by CDR Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, Somers was a 103 foot brig which served as a training ship to educate midshipmen in the art of seamanship in the hopes the youngsters would pursue a naval career.


Unfortunately, Spencer’s son had alternate plans. Midshipman Philip Spencer and his two-co-conspirators were planning to embark on a career of piracy in the West Indies. In order to accomplish this goal, the conspirators would have to murder Somers‘ loyal officers and crew members to seize control of the ship. When evidence was uncovered indicating that a mutiny was imminent and the ship was becoming unmanageable, the skipper decided to take matters into his own hands – he tried, convicted and hung Spencer and his cohorts.

This, along with the introduction of steam-powered ships that required engineering and technical expertise, began to shift opinions in a positive direction towards establishing a naval academy.

The genesis had begun and so, in 1845, President James K. Polk appointed George Bancroft as Secretary of the Navy. His task: study the feasibility of establishing a naval school. Three months later, Bacroft not only had a plan, but also had managed to obtain an obsolete Army fort in Annapolis, MD., where the new school would be located and now stands.

Source: Surface Warfare Magazine – March/April – 1995

Pearl Harbor – The Untold Story

Reporter’s untold story of the attack on Pearl Harbor is finally published

On Dec. 7, 1941, Elizabeth McIntosh was a reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. She wrote a first-person account of the attack on Pearl Harbor, but editors thought it was too graphic. Now, it is finally published.

Originally published December 6, 2012 at 8:55 PM | Page modified December 7, 2012 at 2:08 PM

By Elizabeth P. McIntosh – The Washington Post

On Dec. 7, 1941, when Japanese planes attacked Pearl Harbor, I was working as a reporter for the Honolulu Star-Bulletin. After a week of war, I wrote a story directed at Hawaii’s women; I thought it would be useful for them to know what I had seen. It might help prepare them for what lay ahead. But my editors thought the graphic content would be too upsetting for readers and decided not to run my article. It appears here for the first time:

For seven ghastly, confused days, we have been at war. To the women of Hawaii, it has meant a total disruption of home life, a sudden acclimation to blackout nights, terrifying rumors, fear of the unknown as planes drone overhead and lorries shriek through the streets.

The seven days may stretch to seven years, and the women of Hawaii will have to accept a new routine of living. It is time, now, after the initial confusion and terror have subsided, to sum up the events of the past week, to make plans for the future.

It would be well, perhaps, to review the events of the past seven days and not minimize the horror, to better prepare for what may come again.

I have a story to tell, as a reporter, that I think the women of Hawaii should hear. I tell it because I think it may help other women in the struggle, so they will not take the past events lightly.

I reported for work immediately on Sunday morning when the first news — Oahu is being attacked — crackled over the radio, sandwiched in a church program.

Like the rest of Hawaii, I refused to believe it. All along the sunny road to town were people just coming out of church, dogs lazy in the driveways, mynas in noisy convention.

Then, from the neighborhood called Punchbowl, I saw a formation of black planes diving straight into the ocean off Pearl Harbor. The blue sky was punctured with anti-aircraft smoke puffs. Suddenly, there was a sharp whistling sound, almost over my shoulder, and below, down on School Street. I saw a rooftop fly into the air like a pasteboard movie set.

For the first time, I felt that numb terror that all of London has known for months. It is the terror of not being able to do anything but fall on your stomach and hope the bomb won’t land on you. It’s the helplessness and terror of sudden visions of a ripping sensation in your back, shrapnel coursing through your chest, total blackness, maybe death.

The vision of death became reality when I was assigned to cover the emergency room of the hospital.

The first victims of the Japanese-American war were brought there on that bright Sunday morning.

Bombs were still dropping over the city as ambulances screamed off into the heart of the destruction. The drivers were blood-sodden when they returned, with stories of streets ripped up, houses burned, twisted shrapnel and charred bodies of children.

In the morgue, the bodies were laid on slabs in the grotesque positions in which they had died. Fear contorted their faces. Their clothes were blue-black from incendiary bombs. One little girl in a red sweater, barefoot, still clutched a piece of jump-rope in her hand.

Firefighters from the Hickam Air Force Base carried the victims in. The men had a red T marked on their foreheads, mute testimony of the efficiency of first-aiders in giving tetanus shots to ward off lockjaw. The body of a man with a monogrammed shirt, H.A.D., was marked DOA (dead on arrival), trundled off to make room for victims who were still breathing.

There was blood and the fear of death — and death itself — in the emergency room as doctors calmly continued to treat the victims of this new war. Interns were taping up windows to prevent them from crashing into the emergency area as bombs fell and the dead and wounded continued to arrive. I had never known that blood could be so bright red.

Returning to the city, I felt a mounting sense of fear as Honolulu began to realize that more was in the air than an Army alert.

I went to a bombed store on King Street, where I often, in times past, stopped for a Coke at the cool drug counter.

Seven little stores, including my drugstore, had nearly completely burned down. Charred, ripply walls, as high as the first story, alone remained to give any hint of where the store had been. At the smashed soda fountain was a half-eaten chocolate sundae. Scorched bonbons were scattered on the sidewalk. There were odd pieces lying in the wreckage, half-burned Christmas cards, on one, the words “Hark the Herald” still visible. There were twisted bedsprings, half-burned mattresses, cans of food, a child’s blackened bicycle, a lunch box, a green raveled sweater, a Bang-Up comic book, ripped awnings.

I ran out of notepaper and reached down and picked up a charred batch of writing paper, still wet from a fire hose. There was, too, the irony of Christmas tinsel, cellophane, decorations. A burned doll, with moving eyes, singed curls and straw bonnet, like a miniature corpse, lay in the wreckage.

That Sunday after dusk there was the all-night horror of attack in the dark. Sirens shrieking, sharp, crackling police reports and the tension of a city wrapped in fear.

Then, in the nightmare of Monday and Tuesday, there was the struggle to keep normal when planes zoomed overhead and guns cracked out at an unseen enemy. There was blackout and suspicion riding the back of wild rumors: Parachutists in the hills! Poison in your food! Starvation and death were all that was left in a tourist bureau paradise.

I talked with evacuees. From Hickam, a nurse who had dropped to the floor in the hospital kitchen as machine-gun bullets dotted a neat row of holes directly above her; from Schofield, a woman who wanted me to send word to her sweetheart “somewhere in Honolulu” that she was still alive; from Pearl Harbor, a nurse who wanted scraps of paper and pencil stubs to give to the boys in the hospital who had last messages they wanted sent home; a little girl named Theda who had a big doll named Nancy and who told me in a quiet voice that “Daddy was killed at Hickam.”

At the office there were frantic calls from all sorts of women — housewives, stenographers, debutantes — wanting to know what they could do during the day, when husbands and brothers were away and there was nothing left but to listen to the radio and imagine that all hell had broken out on another part of the island.

It was then that I realized how important women can be in a war-torn world.

There is a job for every woman in Hawaii to do.

I discovered that when I visited the Red Cross centers, canteens, evacuee districts, the motor corps headquarters.

There is great organization in Honolulu, mapped out thoughtfully and competently by women who have had experience in World War I, who have looked ahead and foreseen the carnage of the past seven days and planned.

After her journalism career, McIntosh, now 97, served in the Office of Strategic Services and the Central Intelligence Agency before retiring to Lake Ridge, Va. She is the author of four books. A video of McIntosh discussing her account of Pearl Harbor is available at http://wapo.st/QIuiVt

Source: The Internet

The Lose Squadron

December 5, 1945

At 2:10 p.m., five U.S. Navy Avenger torpedo-bombers comprising Flight 19 take off from the Ft. Lauderdale Naval Air Station in Florida on a routine three-hour training mission. Flight 19 was scheduled to take them due east for 120 miles, north for 73 miles, and then back over a final 120-mile leg that would return them to the naval base. They never returned.

Two hours after the flight began, the leader of the squadron, who had been flying in the area for more than six months, reported that his compass and back-up compass had failed and that his position was unknown. The other planes experienced similar instrument malfunctions. Radio facilities on land were contacted to find the location of the lost squadron, but none were successful. After two more hours of confused messages from the fliers, a distorted radio transmission from the squadron leader was heard at 6:20 p.m., apparently calling for his men to prepare to ditch their aircraft simultaneously because of lack of fuel.

By this time, several land radar stations finally determined that Flight 19 was somewhere north of the Bahamas and east of the Florida coast, and at 7:27 p.m. a search and rescue Mariner aircraft took off with a 13-man crew. Three minutes later, the Mariner aircraft radioed to its home base that its mission was underway. The Mariner was never heard from again. Later, there was a report from a tanker cruising off the coast of Florida of a visible explosion seen at 7:50 p.m.

The disappearance of the 14 men of Flight 19 and the 13 men of the Mariner led to one of the largest air and seas searches to that date, and hundreds of ships and aircraft combed thousands of square miles of the Atlantic Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, and remote locations within the interior of Florida. No trace of the bodies or aircraft was ever found.

Although naval officials maintained that the remains of the six aircraft and 27 men were not found because stormy weather destroyed the evidence, the story of the “Lost Squadron” helped cement the legend of the Bermuda Triangle, an area of the Atlantic Ocean where ships and aircraft are said to disappear without a trace. The Bermuda Triangle is said to stretch from the southern U.S. coast across to Bermuda and down to the Atlantic coast of Cuba and Santo Domingo.

Bermuda Triangle.svg

The Bermuda Triangle, sometimes called the Devil’s Triangle, is reputedly an area in the western part of the North Atlantic Ocean.  The triangle doesn’t exist according to the US Navy and is not recognized by the US Board on Geographic Names.

However, a number of aircraft and surface vessels are said to have disappeared in the triangle under unknown circumstances. Popular culture has attributed various disappearances to the paranormal or activity by extraterrestrial beings. Documented evidence indicates that a significant percentage of the incidents were spurious, inaccurately reported, or embellished by later authors. Contrary to popular belief, insurance companies do not charge higher premiums for shipping in this area.

Writers give different boundaries to the triangle, with the total area varying from 500,000 to 1.5 million square miles. This means that different accidents happen inside the triangle depending on which writer reports them. The first written boundaries date from a 1964 issue of pulp magazine Argosy,  where the triangle’s three vertices are in Miami, FL Florida peninsula; in San Juan, Puerto Rico; and in the mid-Atlantic island of Bermuda. The area is not recognize, and it’s not delimited in any map drawn by US government agencies.

The area is one of the most heavily traveled shipping lanes in the world, with ships crossing through it daily for ports in the Americas, Europe, and the Caribbean Islands. Cruise ships are also plentiful, and pleasure craft regularly go back and forth between Florida and the islands. It is also a heavily flown route for commercial and private aircraft heading towards Florida, the Caribbean, and South America from points north.


The earliest allegation of unusual disappearances in the Bermuda area appeared in a September 16, 1950 Associated Press article by Edward Van Winkle Jones. Two years later, Fate magazine published “Sea Mystery at Our Back Door”, a short article by George X. Sand covering the loss of several planes and ships, including the loss of Flight 19. Sand’s article was the first to lay out the now-familiar triangular area where the losses took place. Flight 19 alone would be covered in the April 1962 issue of American Legion Magazine. It was claimed that the flight leader had been heard saying “We are entering white water, nothing seems right. We don’t know where we are, the water is green, no white.” It was also claimed that officials at the Navy board of inquiry stated that the planes “flew off to Mars.” Sand’s article was the first to suggest a supernatural element to the Flight 19 incident. In the February 1964 issue of Argosy, Vincent Gaddis’s article “The Deadly Bermuda Triangle” argued that Flight 19 and other disappearances were part of a pattern of strange events in the region. The next year, Gaddis expanded this article into a book, Invisible Horizons.

Source:   http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bermuda_Triangle



The final decisive battle of the Pacific War was fought on the island of Okinawa and was the first full-scale Allied invasion of Japanese territory. More Americans lost their lives in this four-month long campaign than in any battle ever fought before or since. After a prolonged Allied naval barrage, in which Australian, British and Dutch naval forces participated, the US Marines led the spearhead of assault against the Japanese fortifications.


A Marine from the 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines on Wana Ridge provides covering fire – 18 May 1945 

Dug in deep in the hills of the principal island in the Ryukyu chain, the Japanese fought to the last man, forcing the Allies to run up heavy casualties. If the Japanese fought so hard for an offshore island, what sort of defense would they put up when defending their home islands?

The answer was clear, and the fight on Okinawa helped lead President Truman to his fateful decision to drop atomic bombs on two Japanese cities in order to end the war in the Pacific more quickly.

The Okinawa campaign has been compared to that of Iwo Jima. In fact the comparison is incorrect and unfair to the gallant US Marines who secured Iwo Jima at a terrible cost to themselves.

The Okinawa terrain had none of the natural defensive qualities of Iwo Jima; the Japanese had no previously prepared defenses between Yontan and Shuri. Only the incredible fanaticism of the Japanes soldier held the line, and that fanaticism for almost two months was sufficient against an invader who held absolute command of the air, who had the wquivalent of two armored division, wo, to an over-whelming strength in artillery, ad added the stupendous power of the guns of a great fleet, and who had an almost unlimited superiority in men, equipment and supplies.

It is always easy to be wise after the efvent and to oversimplify the problems facing a commander. Any serious student of war will question the wisdom of General Buckner ( commander of Operation Iceberg – the amphibious assault on Okinawa ) who decided to launch a frontal attack at the beginning of May rather than try to break the deadlock by landing more Marines in the rear of the Japanese – as the Marines themselves suggested. No doubt Buckner saw the situation as analogous to that in Italy in 1943, and considered that the proposed Marine amphibious landing, like the Anzio operation, would have been beyond range of support from the main front. Against this it can be argued that he had the finest body of amphibious troops in the Pacific and Buckner’s critics believe that his decision to opt for a frontal attack was an error of overcaution.

In the event Buckner’s strategy worked, but at a heqavy price in men. Moreover, instead of the 40 days estimated by the original planners, the Okinawa campaign took 82. On the other hand the tactical handling of the US Fifth Fleet – the armada whwich carried the assault force to Okinawa and set it down theere so successfully – wasnothing short of brilliant. The logistical support of the great fleet at sea over a protracted period was unprecedented, and a most remarkable demonstration of efficiency.

The object of the Okinawa campaign was to secure a base for the invasion of Japan. It succeeded in doing far more than this, for the campaign cost Japan the remainder of her effective navy. Apart from the loss of the Yamato, sunk in the abortive sortie against the invasion force, innumerable minor vessels were sunk, and by mid-June the once proud Imperial Japanese Navy had ceased to exist as a fighting force.

The same was true of the Japanese air force. Coupled with the toll taken of Japanese aircraft in the Philippines and during the Iwo Jima campaign, the numbers destroyed in the covering operations for Okinawa crippled the striking power and the defensive power of that part of the Japanes air force which was to protect the home islands. Only the suicide tactics of the Kamikaze organization kept Japanese airmen in the picture and even that by the end of the Okinawa campaign was becoming a diminisheing asset. although the Japanaes military forces involved were not large in relation to the actual size of the Japanese armies, the loss in military prestige and in material was considerable.

Meanwhile the tremendous acievement of American production was now beginning to play its full part in the war against Japan. The material losses of the campaign – and of the operations to secure Iwo Jima and recapture the Philippines – were qickly made up. By the end of Okinawa the Philippines were already a vast base for the invasion of Japan. Even while the fighting was continuing, the work of preparing Okinawa for its eventual role as a staging area for the invasion was well under way.

The military operations that followed the capture of Okinawa were small and unimportant. They consisted of the seizure and consolidation of other small islands in the Ryukyus. The vital factor in this period was the ‘buildup’ and that proceeded unhampered by the Japanese – swiftly and inexorably.

The three campaigns – to liverate the Philippines, capture Iwo Jima and Okinawa – were in combination the greatest successes in the great successes of the Pacific war. With the earlier capture of the Marianas they made possible, first, the wiping ot by incendiary bombing of the great cities of Japan and second the provision of all that was necessary for the staging of the eventual descent on the Japanese manland. They, and not the atomic bomb, were the decisive factor in the subsequent Japanese surrender.


In addition to a number of minor raids by up to 20 planes on ‘off’ days the Japanese launched 10 major Kamikaze attacks on the US armada off Okinawa. It is estimated, together with individual Kamikaze attacks, that approzimately 1,900 suicide sorties were made against the US naval forces during the Okinawa campaign.

A crewman in an AA gun battery, aboard the battleship New Jersey, watches a kamikaze plane descend upon Intrepid – 25 November 1944

Apart from these there were hundreds of attacks by conventional dive bombers and torpedo bombers.

Source: OKINAWA – by Lt.Col. A.J. Barker

The USS Barb

A fascinating WWII story.

Lucky Fluckey

Years ago, an Italian submarine was sold for a paltry $100,000 as scrap. The submarine, given to the Italian Navy in 1953 . . was originally the USS Barb . . an incredible veteran of World War II service . . with a heritage that should not have been melted away without any recognition.

The U.S.S. Barb was a pioneer, paving the way for the first submarine to launch missiles and it flew a battle flag unlike that of any other ship.

                                   The U.S.S. Barb was indeed, the submarine that SANK A TRAIN !

July 18, 1945 In Patience Bay, off the coast of Karafuto, Japan.
It was after 4 A.M. and Commander Fluckey rubbed his eyes as he peered over the map spread before him. It was the twelfth war patrol of the Barb, the fifth under Commander Fluckey. He should have turned the submarine’s command over to another skipper after four patrols, but had managed to strike a deal with Admiral Lockwood to make a fifth trip with the men he cared for like a father.
Of course, no one suspected when he had struck that deal prior to his fourth and should have been his final war patrol, that Commander Fluckey‘s success would be so great he would be awarded the Medal of Honor.Commander Fluckey smiled as he remembered that patrol. Lucky Fluckey they called him. On January 8th the Barb had emerged victorious from a running two-hour night battle after sinking a large enemy ammunition ship. Two weeks later in Mamkwan Harbor he found the mother-lode… more than 30 enemy ships.

In only 5 fathoms (30 feet) of water his crew had unleashed the sub’s forward torpedoes, then turned and fired four from the stern. As he pushed the Barb to the full limit of its speed through the dangerous waters in a daring withdrawal to the open sea, he recorded eight direct hits on six enemy ships.

What could possibly be left for the Commander to accomplish who, just three months earlier had been in Washington , DC to receive the Medal of Honor? He smiled to himself as he looked again at the map showing the rail line that ran along the enemy coastline. Now his crew was buzzing excitedly about bagging a train!

The rail line itself wouldn’t be a problem. A shore patrol could go ashore under cover of darkness to plant the explosives… one of the sub’s 55-pound scuttling charges. But this early morning Lucky Fluckey and his officers were puzzling over how they could blow not only the rails, but also one of the frequent trains that shuttled supplies to equip the Japanese war machine. But no matter how crazy the idea might have sounded, the Barb’s skipper would not risk the lives of his men.

Thus the problem… how to detonate the explosives at the moment the train passed, without endangering the life of a shore party.

If you don’t search your brain looking for them, you’ll never find them. And even then, sometimes they arrive in the most unusual fashion. Cruising slowly beneath the surface to evade the enemy plane now circling overhead, the monotony was broken with an exciting new idea : Instead of having a crewman on shore to trigger explosives to blow both rail and a passing train, why not let the train BLOW ITSELF up ?

Billy Hatfield was excitedly explaining how he had cracked nuts on the railroad tracks as a kid, placing the nuts between two ties so the sagging of the rail under the weight of a train would break them open. “Just like cracking walnuts,”he explained. To complete the circuit [ detonating the 55-pound charge ] we hook in a micro switch… and mounted it between two ties, directly under the steel rail.

” We don’t set it off . . the TRAIN will.” Not only did Hatfield have the plan, he wanted to go along with the volunteer shore party.

After the solution was found, there was no shortage of volunteers; all that was needed was the proper weather… a little cloud cover to darken the moon for the sabotage mission ashore.
Lucky Fluckey established his criteria for the volunteer party :

[ 1 ] No married men would be included, except for Hatfield,[ 2 ] The party would include members from each department,[ 3 ] The opportunity would be split evenly between regular Navy and Navy Reserve sailors,[ 4 ] At least half of the men had to have been Boy Scouts, experienced in handling medical emergencies and tuned into woods lore.

FINALLY, Lucky Fluckey would lead the saboteurs himself.

When the names of the 8 selected sailors was announced it was greeted with a mixture of excitement and disappointment.

Members of the submarine’s demolition squad were:· Chief Gunners Mate Paul G. Saunders, USN;· Electricians Mate 3rd Class Billy R. Hatfield, USNR;· Signalman 2nd Class Francis N. Sevei, USNR;· Ships Cook 1st Class Lawrence W. Newland, USN;· Torpedomans Mate 3rd Class Edward W. Klingesmith, USNR;· Motor Machinists Mate 2nd Class James E. Richard, USN;· Motor Machinists Mate 1st Class John Markuson, USN; and· Lieutenant William M. Walker, USNR.

Among the disappointed was Commander Fluckey who surrendered his opportunity at the insistence of his officers that as commander he belonged with the Barb, coupled with the threat from one that “I swear I’ll send a message to ComSubPac if the Commander attempted to join the demolition shore party.”

In the meantime, there would be no harassing of Japanese shipping or shore operations by the Barb until the train mission had been accomplished. The crew would ‘ lay low’ to prepare their equipment, practice and plan and wait for the weather.

July 22, 1945 Patience Bay [ Off the coast of Karafuto, Japan ]
Waiting in 30 feet of water in Patience Bay was wearing thin the patience of Commander Fluckey and his innovative crew. Everything was ready. In the four days the saboteurs had anxiously watched the skies for cloud cover, the inventive crew of the Barb had crafted and tested their micro switch.

When the need was proposed for a pick and shovel to bury the explosive charge and batteries, the Barb’s engineers had cut up steel plates in the lower flats of an engine room, then bent and welded them to create the needed digging tools.

The only things beyond their control were the weather…. and the limited time. Only five days remained in the Barb’s patrol.

Anxiously watching the skies, Commander Fluckey noticed plumes of cirrus clouds, then white stratus capping the mountain peaks ashore. A cloud cover was building to hide the three-quarters moon. So, this would be the night.

MIDNIGHT, July 23, 1945…The Barb had crept within 950 yards of the shoreline. If it was somehow seen from the shore it would probably be mistaken for a schooner or Japanese patrol boat. No one would suspect an American submarine so close to shore or in such shallow water. Slowly the small boats were lowered to the water and the 8 saboteurs began paddling toward the enemy beach. Twenty-five minutes later they pulled the boats ashore and walked on the surface of the Japanese homeland.

Stumbling through noisy waist-high grasses, crossing a highway and then into a 4-foot drainage ditch, the saboteurs made their way to the railroad tracks. Three men were posted as guards, Markuson assigned to examine a nearby water tower. The Barb’s auxiliary man climbed the tower’s ladder, then stopped in shock as he realized it was an enemy lookout tower . . . an OCCUPIED enemy lookout tower.

Fortunately the Japanese sentry was peacefully sleeping. And Markuson was able to quietly withdraw to warn his raiding party.

The news from Markuson caused the men digging the placement for the explosive charge to continue their work more quietly and slower. Twenty minutes later, the demolition holes had been carved by their crude tools and the explosives and batteries hidden beneath fresh soil.
During planning for the mission the saboteurs had been told that, with the explosives in place, all would retreat a safe distance while Hatfield made the final connection. BUT IF the sailor who had once cracked walnuts on the railroad tracks slipped or messed up during this final, dangerous procedure . . his would be the only life lost.

On this night it was the only order the sub’s saboteurs refused to obey, and all of them peered anxiously over Hatfield’s shoulder to be sure he did it right. The men had come too far to be disappointed by a bungled switch installation.

1:32 A.M.Watching from the deck of the submarine, Commander Fluckey allowed himself a sigh of relief as he noticed the flashlight signal from the beach announcing the departure of the shore party. Fluckey had daringly, but skillfully guided the Barb within 600 yards of the enemy beach sand.

There was less than 6 feet of water beneath the sub’s keel, but Fluckey wanted to be close in case trouble arose and a daring rescue of his bridge saboteurs became necessary.

1:45 A.M.The two boats carrying his saboteurs were only halfway back to the Barb when the sub’s machine gunner yelled, ‘ CAPTAIN !’ There’s another train coming up the tracks! The Commander grabbed a megaphone and yelled through the night, “Paddle like the devil !”, knowing full well that they wouldn’t reach the Barb before the train hit the micro switch.

1:47 A.M.The darkness was shattered by brilliant light . . and the roar of the explosion !The boilers of the locomotive blew, shattered pieces of the engine blowing 200 feet into the air. Behind it the railroad freight cars accordioned into each other, bursting into flame and adding to the magnificent fireworks display. Five minutes later the saboteurs were lifted to the deck by their exuberant comrades as the Barb eased away . .. slipping back to the safety of the deep.

Moving at only two knots, it would be a while before the Barb was into waters deep enough to allow it to submerge. It was a moment to savor, the culmination of teamwork, ingenuity and daring by the Commander and all his crew. Lucky Fluckey’s voice came over the intercom. “All hands below deck not absolutely needed to maneuver the ship have permission to come topside.” He didn’t have to repeat the invitation.Hatches sprang open as the proud sailors of the Barb gathered on her decks to proudly watch the distant fireworks display…The Barb had sunk a Japanese TRAIN !

On August 2, 1945 the Barb arrived at Midway, her twelfth war patrol concluded. Meanwhile United States military commanders had pondered the prospect of an armed assault on the Japanese homeland. Military tacticians estimated such an invasion would cost more than a million American casualties.

Instead of such a costly armed offensive to end the war, on August 6th the B-29 bomber Enola Gay dropped a single atomic bomb on the city of Hiroshima , Japan . A second such bomb, unleashed 4 days later on Nagasaki , Japan , caused Japan to agree to surrender terms on August 15th.

On September 2, 1945 in Tokyo Harbor the documents ending the war in the Pacific were signed.
The story of the saboteurs of the U.S.S. Barb is one of those unique, little known stories of World War II. It becomes increasingly important when one realizes that the [ 8 ] eight sailors who blew up the train near Kashiho, Japan conducted the ONLY GROUND COMBAT OPERATION on the Japanese homeland during World War II.

[ Footnote : Eugene Bennett Fluckey retired from the Navy as a Rear Admiral, and wore in addition to his Medal of Honor . . [ 4 ]FOUR Navy Crosses . . a record of heroic awards unmatched by any American in military history.]

In 1992, his own history of the U.S.S. Barb was published in the award winning book, THUNDER BELOW. Over the past several years proceeds from the sale of this exciting book have been used to provide free reunions for the men who served him aboard the Barb, and their wives.  He graduated from the US Naval Academy in 1935 . . lived to age 93 .


The ESSEX (CV 9) Class

The USS INTREPID (CV 11), was the third ship of the ESSEX class fleet carriers. During World War II they became the backbone of the fast carrier task forces which played a decisive role in the Pacific campaigns of 1944 and 1945 and the ultimate destruction of the Japanese Navy.

The INTREPID returns to Hampton Roads 25 November 1943 after her training cruise in the Caribbean. She recieved monor repairs/adjustments to equipment at the Norfolk Navy Yard prior to leaving for the Pacific on 3 December 1943.

Only after five years after WWII Essex class carriers provided the greater part of naval air support in Korea and some were deployed for active service during the war in Vietnam (INTREPID served three tours in Vietnam). Seventeen of the original twenty-four ships were still active as late as 1967 although some had been reclassified for special service i.e., ASW, LPH and CVT. The ESSEX class played a major role in three of the most successful and eventful decades of U.S. Naval aviation.

The design of the CV 9 class was based on operatons in the Pacific and they were expected to be used against Japan. This required different sea-keeping characteristics than if they were intended for operatons in the North Atlantic. One of the most important considerations was endurance – having to be able to steam at least 15,000 nautical miles at 15 knots.

The INTREPID had a moderate bulbous bow to reduce resistance at high speed, a nearly square bilge to provide maximum volume for the side protection system, and a cruiser stern with a single counterbalanced rudder. There was no need for an extensive side protection system well aft, therefore, the twin-skeg arrangement adapted for the new battleships was not necessary. In the battleships, the additional underwater breadth permitted by the twin skegs allowed the side protection system to be carried past the after barbette and magazines.

The main, or hangar deck, formed the top of the hull girder. The gallery and flight decks were actually part of the superstructure and did not contribute to the strength of the girder. The flight deck surface was wood laid over light steel plate which served as a fire break. A large portion of the hangar deck was open along the sides which was the result of the requirement for aircraft to warm up their engines before being lifted to the flight deck. The hangar deck could be closed to the weather and/or made light tight for night operations by large roller curtains.

Within the hull proper, there were four continuous decks numbered from the hangar deck down. the 2nd and 3rd decks were mainly used for accommodation and stores and had nearly free fore and aft access. Access on the 4th deck was limited to within the main watertight transverse bulkheads and covered the eight large machinery spaces in the midships section of the hull.

At the end of WWII in 1945, the Navy had the largest fleet in the world and, without doubt, the most powerful carrier force. Rapid technological developments made during the war produced newer, heavier and more sophisticated aircraft and weapons. Many, such as jet aircraft, guided missiles and atomic devices, threatened the fleet and, in particular, the carrier force with obsolescence.

In mid 1946, the newly formed SCB (Ship’s Characteristics Board) began a series of projects to modenize the existing fleet.

Projects SCB 27 ( http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/usnshtp/cv/scb27cl.htm ), SCB 125 ( http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/usnshtp/cv/scb125cl.htm ) and the FRAM project ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fleet_Rehabilitation_and_Modernization ) took place.   FRAM was the final modernization for the INTREPID and seven of her sister ships. the program began in October 1960 and was completed in November 1965. The INTREPID was the last of the ESSEX class, and the only SCB-27C conversion, to receive a FRAM modernization which included the installation of a C-11 steam catapult, under license from the Royal Navy.

The ESSEX class was designed to operate an air group of four squadrons consisting of 18 planes each, with space for a fifth squadron, 9 reserve aircraft and a scout bomber. By the time INTREPID entered service, she carried the full five squadrons.

The original CV 9 class design featured three aircraft elevators, two on the centerline and one on the deck-edge.

The INTREPID was equiped with arresting gear forward as well as aft. This provided for landing aircraft over the bow in the event the after porton of the flight deck was damaged and could not be used to receive incoming aircraft. During overhauls beginning in 1944, the forward arresting gear was removed.

ESSEX Class Data/Name/Hull No./Commissioned/Decommissioned

  1. Essex                                      CV 9               12/31/42               6/30/69
  2. Yorktown                            CV 10               4/15/43               6/27/70
  3. Intrepid                                CV 11                8/16/43               3/30/74
  4. Hornet                                   CV 12             11/29/43               6/26/70
  5. Franklin                                CV 13                1/31/44                       *    
  6. Ticonderoga                       CV 14                  5/8/44                   9/1/73
  7. Randolph                             CV 15               10/9/44                 2/13/69
  8. Lexington                            CV 16               3/17/43                 CVT in 1976
  9. Bunker Hill                          CV 17               5/24/42                        *
  10. Wasp                                      CV 18             11/24/43                  7/1/72
  11. Hancock                               CV 19               4/15/44                1/30/76
  12. Bennington                         CV 20                 8/6/44                1/15/70
  13. Boxer                                     CV 21               4/16/45                12/1/69                                                                                    
  14. Bon Homme Richard       CV 31            11/26/44                  7/2/71 (Recommissioned for Korea in her original form)
  15. Leyte                                      CV 32              4/11/46                 5/15/59
  16. Kearsarge                             CV 33                3/2/46                 2/13/70
  17. Oriskany                               CV 34              9/25/50                 5/15/76
  18. Reprisal                                CV 35                      –                                  –         (Never completed. Hulk used for tests)
  19. Antietam                              CV 36               1/28/45                   5/8/63
  20. Princeton                             CV 37             11/18/45                1/30/70
  21. Shangri-La                           CV 38               11/7/44                7/30/71
  22. Lake Champlain                 CV 39                 6/3/45                 1/19/66 (Rebuilt but never received an angled deck)
  23. Tarawa                                  CV 40               12/8/45                        5/60
  24. Valley Forge                       CV 45               11/3/46                 1/15/70
  25. Iwo Jima                              CV 46                       –                                  –        (Cancelled/broken up on the shipway)
  26. Philippine Sea                    CV 47               5/11/46                      12/58

                                                                           Source: Pictorial Histories Publishing Company


Development of the A/C Carrier

During World War I , many of the major naval powers converted vessels to handle and accommodate floatplanes or fly-off aeroplanes which had to land ashore. Naval aviation progressed very rapidly during this period. The British were the first to introduce a vessel having a “landing deck” which could both launch and recover aircraft when HMS ARGUS was completed in September 1918.

The ARGUS was converted from a passenger liner under construction in one of the shipyards on the Clyde at Glasgow. Featuring a full length flight deck and a large aircraft hanger, the design influenced the aircraft carrier as we know it today.

Before the end of World War I, the Royal Navy had two additional aircraft carriers under construction, HMS EAGLE and HMS HERMES. The EAGLE was being converted from a battleship which was under construction but eh HERMES was to have the istinction of being the first ship to be designed and built as an aircraft carrier.

After the end of World War I, the German High Seas Fleet was dismantled in 1919, but in 1921, the remaining major naval powers were still attempting to continue their massive building programs. Faced with the problems of post-war recession, it was obvious that financial outlay for naval constuction could not be continued much longer.

The practical solution was negotiation, the oucome of which was the Washington Treaty signed on 6 February 1922 by Great Britaink the United States, Japan, France and Italy. It mandated a “building holiday” for ten years, restricted the total tonnage that each country could build and specified the maximum weight and gun caliber for each type of combatant. This establishment was referred to as the “5-5-3” ratio.

Of their total tonnage, the U.S. Navy was alloted 135,000 tons of aircraft carrier construction with a maximum of 27,000 tons per ship. Existing carriers and those under construction were exempted from the Treaty tonnage. Since the Treaty required each signatory country to scrap a number of capital ships, in the interest of economy, it allowed each country to convert two capital shps to aircraft carriers not to exceed 33,000 tons each.

The Washington Treaty provided for a conference to be held at the end of the “building holiday” and the second naval arms limitations conference was convened in London in 1930. Although there were considerable differences between the participants, the London Treaty of 1930 extended the “building holiday” for another five years.

In 1936, by the time the next conference was held in London, a new naval arms race4 was well underway. Germany, not a signatory to the Washington or London Treaties, had laid down the “pocket battleship” DEUTSCHLAND, France was building the DUNKERQUE in reply and Italy was countering with a 35,000 ton battlesip. The Japanese, meanwhile, withdrew entirely from participation in the Treaty.

The remaining signatory countries inserted an”escalator clause” wich would allow them parity with those powers not participating in the Treaty. It was required that other signatories be consulted before any action was taken but this was only a fomality to justify the increase in new construction. 

In 1927, the U.S. Navy’s first aircraft carrier was the LANGLEY (CV 1)

The U.S. Navy began its carrier program in mid-1919 when the Congress appropriated funds for the conversion of the collier JUPITER (AC 3) to an aircraft carrier. It was accepted that the new carrier, renamed LANGLEY (CV 1), would be too small and slow to operate effectively as a fleet carrier, owever, she was intended for training aviators in take-off and landing operations at sea and for developing aircraft launching and recovery systems and equipment.

While operating with the battle fleet during the battle problems of the 1920s, the LANGLEY formulated the early U.S. Navycarrier doctrine and initiated experiments that helped shape the development of carrier equipment such as arresting gear, elevators, and catapults.

Originally laid down just after World War I, the LEXINGTON (CV 2) and SARATOGA (cv 3) were two of the six 43,500 ton battle cruisers cancelled by the Washington Treaty of 1922.


Completed as carriers, the ‘LEX’ and ‘SARA’ displaced 33,000 tons. They were the fastest and largest ships afloat. The sleek lines of their battle cruiser hulls and large power plants made them capable of over 34 knots. Although the British battle cruiser HOOD displaced 42,000 tons, they were nearly 30′ longer.

The first U.S. Navy ship designed and built as an aircraft carrier in 1934, was the 14,500 ton RANGER (CV 4) incorporating features which would become standard on later carriers.

With the limited operational experience gathered from our first three carriers, the General Board ( a group of senior naval officers that advised the Secretary of the Navy on fundamental naval policy regarding strategy, tactics ans ship’s characteristics) developed a set of requirements and recommended the construction of one 13,800 ton carrier to utilize some of the Treaty tonnage. Congressional approval was given to construt the vessel as part of the Fiscal Year 1929 building program.

The Bu C&R (Bureau of Construction and Repair) prepared the design plans and the RANGER (CV 4) was ordered from Newport News Sipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. The RANGER completed at 14,500 tons in June 1934 and became the first U.S. Naval vessel designed and built from the keel up as an aircraft carrier.

Although she proved to be too small to operate the large air groups considered essential for later designs, the RANGER incorporated a number of features which would become standard for future carriers including an open hangar deck and a gallery deck around and partially under the flight deck.

Although design work on the YORKTOWN class ( below) began in 1931 it was not completed until 1934.

The Congress did not appropriate money for new carrier construction until June 1933 and the design was interrupeted for higher priority building programs. This delay, however, gave additional time for consideration of characteristics which were repidly changing as the fleet gained valuable experience with their three carriers. The RANGER was not even completed when the CV 5 design was fixed and by the time she became operational she was already obsolescent.

Again, although design work on the YORKTOWN class began in 1931 it was not completed until 1934. The Congress did not appropriate money for new carrier construction until June 1933 and the design was interruped for higher priority building programs.

The YORKTOWNs were the first modern carriers designed by the U.S. Navy from real operational experience with the fleet. Even with their design deficiencies, they strongly influenced the following CV 9 class. It is important, therefore, to examine their design in mor detail. Contracts for the YORKTOWN (CV 5) and ENTERPRISE (cv 6) were awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Co. on 3 August 1933. A third ship, the HORNET (CV 8) was ordered on 30 March 1939. The design had incorporated basic requirements for aircraft carriers, as practicable, witin the limits of the existing Treaty. It was intended that carriers would be used for a number of roles and encounter a variety of threats, therefore, emphasis was placed on protection to enable them to remain operational as long as possible after damage. Te intent was to provide maximum protection against gunfire, bombing, torpedoes and mining, but it was recognized that a carrier of 20,000 tons could not be protected as well as the much heavier battleships.

All three ships of the class suffered heavy battle damage. The YORKTOWN and HORNET were lost and the ENTERPRISE was damaged several times. All three were able to remain operational as carriers after absorbing a considerable amount of damage far exceeding the expectations of their designers.

The WASP  (cv 7 ) (below) displaced only 14,700 tons.

The reversion to a smaller carrier was only to use the remaining Treaty tonnage. A mixture of the RANGER and YORKTOWN designs, she introduced an elementary version of the deck-edge elevator.

A return to the small carrier was a statutory requirement and she becam a mixture of the RANGER and YORKTOWN designs. The small size of the new carrier necessitated a machinery arrangement similar to that in the RANGER with only two shafts. Three elevators were planned but one was deleted because of Depression era economy measures. Instead, a small “T” shaped lift was fitted forward on the port sied. It supported the tail and landing gear of an aircraft while being raised from the hangar deck to the flight deck. This introduced the deck-edge elevator to U.S. carrier design.

Authorization to build the HORNET (CV 8) was provided in the Naval Expansion Act of 17 May 1938 which included 40,000 tons of new aircraft carrier construction.


Because of the urgency of the building program and the length of time required to complete a new design, the HORNET was ordered from Newport News on 30 March 1939 to a slightly improved YORKTOWN desigh. She was the last U.S. Navy carrier which used a design affected by Treaty limitations. 

Source: Warship’s Data – Pictorial Histories Publishing Company

…to be continued with The ESSEX (CV 9) Class


Intrepid – The Beginning


The aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CV-11) was authorized by the Congressional Act of 14 June 1940. She was the fourth ship in the U.S. Navy to bear the name INTREPID and was built by the Newport News Ship-building & Dry Dock Company of Newport News, VA. Constructed in No. 10 Graving Dock, she was launched on 26 April 1943. On 16 August she was commissioned with Captain thomas L. Sprague in command.

The “Fighting I” served the Navy during three wars and was finally decommissioned on 30 March 1974 at Philadelphia and placed in the reserve fleet. She was acquired by the Intrepid Museum Foundation on 23 February 1982 and is now berthed in the Hudson River in Manhattan where she is currently serving as the Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum.

The Beginning

The first INTREPID was a bomb ketch armed with four guns of unknown size. She had a length of 60′, a beam of 12′ and displaced 64 tons. Built in France in 1798 for Napoleon’s Egyptian expedition, she was subsequently sold to Tripoli and renamed MASTICO.

The MASTICO was one of several Tripolitan vessels which captured the frigate PHILADELPHIA on 31 October 1803 after running fast aground on the uncharted Kaliusa reef about five miles east of Tripoli. On 23 December 1803k while enroute from Tripoli to Constantinople, the MASTICO was taken as a prize by the schooner ENTERPRISE and frigate CONSTITUTION and renamed INTREPID.

In February 1804 the INTREPID, in company with the brig SIREN, set out to destroy the PHILADELPHIA before the Tripolitans could fit her out for use against the U.S. squadron in the Mediterranean. At 1900 hours on the evening of 16 February the INTREPID entered the harbor at Tripoli while the SIREN took up station outside the harbor to stand by for rescue or assistance.

Since the INTREPID could pass as a North African vessel, she was able to enter the4 haror unnoticed and two and a half hours later she was alongside the frigate PHILADELPHIA. The Americans, under the command of Stephen Decatur, boarded and, after a brief struggle with cutlasses and scimitars ( a backsword or sabre with a curved blade ), gained control of the frigate. The PHILADELPHIA was set ablaze and the INTREPID managed to escape during the confusion.

Because the INTREPID was able to enter the harbor at Tripoli with relative ease, the commander of the American squadron, Edward prele, decided to outfit her as a fire ship. The plan was to send the INTREPID into the harbor in the midst of the corsair fleet. The men were to set fuses and evacuate the ship where she would be blown up close under the walls of Tripoli. Conversion work was completed on 1 September and on the evening of 4 September the INTREPID, with a volunteer crew of three officers and ten men under the command of Lt. Richard Somers, entered the harbor at Tripoli. At 2130 hours, sometime before expeced, there waa a violent explosion which destroyed the INTREPID.

Commodore Preble reasoned that the Tripolitans must have suspected and boarded the INTREPID prompting the crew to blow her up to prevent the Tripolitans from seizing the valuable powder and explosives. All on board were lost.

The second INTREPID was an experimental, torpedo ram built by the Boston Navy Yard and launched on 5 March 1874. She was an iron hulled, screw steamer 170′ long, with a beam of 35′, displaced 438 tons and was armed with four 24-pound howitzers.

In August 1882, work began to convert her to a light-draft gunboat. Still unfinished, work on the conversion was suspended in 1889. A survey in 1892 found the INTREPID unserviceable and she was stricken from the Navy List and sold on 9 May 1892.

The third INTREPID, built by the Mare Island Navy Yard was launched on 8 October 1904. She was a bark-rigged sail training ship with a length of 211′, a beam of 45′ and a displacement of 1,800 tons.

After her commissioning on 16 August 1907, the steel hill bark was assigned to the Yerba Buena Training Station at San Francisco until 1912 and then became a receiving ship for that station. In 1914, the INTREPID was moved back to her birthplace a Mare Island to serve as that station’s receiving ship for about a year and a half. She then became the barracks ship for submarines F-1 through F-4 of the Pacific Fleet. In 1920, she again became the receiving ship for Mare Island until her decomissioning on 30 August 1921. The INTREPID was sold to M. Parker of San Francisco on 20 December 1921.

On 23 August 1941, the Navy acquired the hull of the ex-INTREPID from her owner at that time, the Hawaiian Dredging Company. She was placed in service as the unnamed YF 331, a non-self-propelled lighter and assigned to the 14th Naval District at Pearl Harbor. Her designation was changed to YR 42 on 7 August 1945 and she served as a sludge removal barge until placed out of service on 20 November 1945. The YSR 42, ex-INTREPID, was finally struck from the Navy List on 8 May 1946.

The fourth INTREPID (CV-11), was commissioned in August 1943, and was also known as The FightingI”. She was one of 24 Essex-class aircraft carriers built during World War II for the United States Navy.

Source: Warship’s Data – Pictorial Histories Publishing Company



Founder – Intrepid Museum

Founder – Intrepid Museum

Zachary Fisher (September 26, 1910 – June 4, 1999) was a prominent Jewish American philanthropist in the New York real estate community and a major philanthropic benefactor for the men and women in the United States Armed Forces and their families, as well as numerous other not-for-profit organizations.

In 1978, Fisher founded the campaign to save the historic and battle-scarred World War II aircraft carrier USS Intrepid (CV-11) from the scrapyard and transform it into America’s largest naval museum. The ship became the center of New York City’s Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum, which hosts nearly one million visitors annually. 

He founded the Fisher House Foundation, which builds “homes of comfort” at or near military and Veterans Administration hospitals. These Fisher Houses provide free temporary lodging to the families of veterans and service members who are receiving medical care.

A native of Brooklyn, New York, Mr. Fisher began working in construction at the age of 16. Shortly thereafter, he and his brothers, Martin and Larry, joined forces to form Fisher Brothers, which grew into one of the real estate industry’s premier residential and commercial developers, owning more than five million square feet of office space.

From the earliest days of his construction career, Mr. Fisher was a strong supporter of the U.S. Armed Forces. Prevented from active service in World War II due to a leg injury, Mr. Fisher drew on his building skills to assist the U.S. Coastal Service in the construction of coastal fortifications. His patronage of the Armed Forces became an ongoing concern from that time, evolving to occupy increasing amounts of his energies.

In the 1970s, while remaining active in Fisher Brothers, Mr. Fisher’s commitment to both the Armed Forces and other philanthropic causes intensified still further through his leadership role in a number of major projects.

In 1982, the same year as the Museum’s opening, Mr. Fisher established the Zachary and Elizabeth M. Fisher Armed Services Foundation. Through the Foundation, he made significant contributions to the families of the victims of the bombing of the Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983. Since then, the Foundation has made contributions of $25,000 to numerous military families who have lost loved ones under tragic circumstances.

Mr. Fisher has also supported the families of New York City firefighters who lost their lives in the line of duty. His Armed Services Foundation also provides scholarship funds to active and former service members and their families.

In 1990, Mr. Fisher and his wife, Elizabeth, founded the Fisher House Foundation, after Pauline Trost, wife of Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Carlisle Trost, presented to Zachary and Elizabeth Fisher the need for temporary lodging facilities for families at major military medical centers. The Fishers personally dedicated more than $20 million to the construction of comfort homes for families of hospitalized military personnel.

More than 50 Fisher Houses now operate at military bases and Department of Veterans Affairs medical centers throughout the nation. More than 183,000 days of lodging are provided by Fisher Houses every year, saving families an estimated $5 million annually. Since the program’s inception, more than 50,000 families have stayed in Fisher Houses.

These temporary living facilities served as “homes away from home” for families of military personnel who were undergoing treatment at military or VA hospitals.

In April 1995, Zachary Fisher was presented with the Presidential Citizens Medal by President Bill Clinton.

In 1997 Mr. and Mrs. Fisher were given the Naval Heritage Award from the U S Navy Memorial Foundation for their efforts on the development of Fisher House.

In 1998, Mr. Fisher received the Presidential Medal of Freedom from President Clinton in honor of his wide-ranging contributions on behalf of the young men and women in the US Armed Forces.

He also received the Horatio Alger Award, the Volunteer Action Award, the Senior Civilian Award from the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Secretary of Defense, as well as the top awards a civilian can receive from each branch of the military.

In 1999 the U. S. Senate introduced a bill that would confer upon Fisher the status of honorary veteran of the Armed Forces. Fisher had attempted to enlist in the military during World War II but was disqualified due to a pre-existing medical condition. The bill, Public Law 106-161, was signed on December 9, 1999. Only Bob Hope shares the status of honorary veteran of the Armed Forces.

Separately, Presidents Ford, Carter, Reagan, George H. W. Bush and Clinton, as well as Margaret Thatcher and the late Yitzak Rabin, recognized Mr. Fisher for his support of charitable organizations throughout the United States.

In 1994, Mr. Fisher, in partnership with David Rockefeller, established the Fisher Center for Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, which funds Alzheimer’s disease research with the goal of finding a cause and cure. The Foundation operates the nation’s largest and most modern Alzheimer’s research laboratory, housed at The Rockefeller University in New York City.

Throughout his life, Mr. Fisher held a number of posts on a variety of charitable and arts organizations and military charities throughout the country. He served as Honorary Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Marine CorpsLaw Enforcement Foundation and was a supporter of the Coast Guard Foundation, the Navy League and other military charities. Mr. Fisher also established the annual Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Award for Excellence in Military Medicine.

He was a major supporter of the Metropolitan Opera, Temple Israel, the Jewish Institute of National Security Affairs, the George C. Marshall Foundation, the Margaret Thatcher Foundation, the Reagan Presidential Library, the United Jewish Appeal and many other organizations. Mr. Fisher also served on the boards of Carnegie Hall and several other institutions and received honorary doctorate degrees from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy and the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zachary_Fisher