FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 19 through 21 August 2017

A Great Solar Eclipse

Friends of FOD – How did you observe the solar eclipse?  All the best photos are on the internet, but I enjoyed seeing the solar eclipse in Boise, ID, thanks to Friends of FOD Roger and Glorie.  Thanks to both of you!  And I also got to do some fishing on the Boise River.  Notice I said fishing and not catching.  But a good time was had by all. Good stories appreciated.




Another Collision At Sea

USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer (below left) suffered “significant damage” to the hull after it was involved in a collision at sea with the Liberian-flagged Alnic MC (below right) off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of MalaccaTen sailors were missing and five were injured following the collision, which happened at 5:24 a.m. Singapore time (5:24 p.m. ET Sunday), according to the Navy’s latest update issued around nine-and-a-half hours later. And the search continues as of August 21st.  After the collision the ship, which sustained damage to her port side aft, was able to return to port under her own power. According to United States Navy press release, the breach “resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms.  Initial casualty reports indicate ten sailors missing and five sailors injured.  Admiral John M. Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations (below left) has ordered an “operational pause” or safety stand down for a day to “include,

but not be limited to, looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, materiel, maintenance and equipment.”

120212-N-AT895-703 WASHINGTON (Feb. 12, 2012) Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson, the 31st CNO. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan Laird/Released to archive)

The Strait of Malacca is one of the most heavily transited bodies of water in the world, with more than 80,000 vessels moving through it annually, roughly one third of all oceanic transits.  US Naval vessels usually have their best bridge team on duty for the transit.  I noted in the 11 through 15 August edition of FOD that a military band is standard for that all important change of command.  I would venture to say the yet unannounced, change of command for the McCain and perhaps even Commander of Destroyer Squadron 15 will not need a band.  As you’ll recall, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) was involved in the June 17 with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship ACX Crystal, a container ship, off the coast of Japan resulted in the death of seven sailors.  Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief have been relieved of their duties aboard Fitzgerald.  I’m thinking the commanding officer of Destroyer Squadron 15, CAPT Jeffrey A. Bennett II might be looking for another job.



Margaritaville Retirement Communities

I’m sure you’ve all heard those annoying adds for ‘a place for mom.’   Well now there’s a place for Fireball.  Rolling Stone is reporting, Jimmy Buffett has announced plans to break ground on a string of retirement communities inspired by his classic “Margaritaville” and its themed chain of restaurants and resorts. For Parrotheads “55 and better” seeking an “active adult community” while wasted away again, the Latitude Margaritaville will open its first branch in Daytona Beach, Florida, with similar communities also in the works.  “Inspired by the legendary music and lifestyle of singer, songwriter and best-selling author Jimmy Buffett, your new home in paradise features exciting recreation, unmatched dining and FINtastic nightlife,” the Latitude Margaritaville site says.  The $1 billion project, a collaboration between Margaritaville Holdings and Minto Communities, aims to create 7,000 homes in Daytona Beach; since announcing Latitude Margaritaville two weeks ago, the property has already received over 10,000 registrations, Minto senior vice president Bill Bullock told Good Morning America.  “It’s going to be a very fun place,” Bullock added. “We expect our first residents to be living in the community by late summer of 2018.”  The Daytona Beach branch’s sales office will open in late 2017, with model homes opening in early 2018.  I’ve got my flip flops ready.





Wreck of USS Indianapolis Found 

I covered a bit about life and loss of the USS Indianapolis (CA-35) in the 28 through31 July 2017 edition of FOD.  And now the wreckage of the ship has been located.  Indianapolis is located in the Philippine Sea.  In July–August 2001, an expedition sought to find the wreckage through the use of side-scan sonar and underwater cameras mounted on a remotely operated vehicle. Four Indianapolis survivors accompanied the expedition, which was not successful. In June 2005, a second expedition was mounted to find the wreck. National Geographic covered the story and released it in July. Submersibles were launched to find any sign of wreckage. The only objects ever found, which have not been confirmed to have belonged to Indianapolis, were numerous pieces of metal of varying size found in the area of the reported sinking position (this was included in the National Geographic program Finding of the USS Indianapolis).  In July 2016, new information came out regarding the possible location of  Indianapolis when naval records said that USS LST-779 passed by the ship 11 hours before the torpedoes struck. Using this information, National Geographic planned to mount an expedition to search for the wreck in the summer of 2017.  Reports estimated that Indianapolis was actually 25 miles west of the previously reported sinking position, in water over three miles deep, and likely on the side of an underwater mountain.  The wreck was located by Paul Allen‘s ‘USS Indianapolis Project’ aboard Research Vessel Petrel on 19 August 2017 at a depth of 18,000 feet (5,500 m).  As I mentioned in the earlier edition of FOD, at 00:14L on 30 July 1945, she was struck on her starboard side by two Type 95 torpedoes, one in the bow and one amidships, from the Japanese submarine I-58, under the command of Mochitsura Hashimoto, who initially thought he had spotted an “Idaho-class battleship.”  The explosions caused massive damage. Indianapolis took on a heavy list, and settled by the bow. Twelve minutes later, she rolled completely over, then her stern rose into the air, and she plunged down. She was unable to send a distress signal or deploy life-saving equipment. Before the attack, on July 30, 1945, she had just completed a secret mission delivering components of the atomic bomb used in Hiroshima that brought an end to the war in the Pacific, according to the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington.  Most of the ship’s 1,196 sailors and Marines survived the sinking only to succumb to exposure, dehydration, drowning and shark attacks. Only 316 survived, according to the US Navy. Of the survivors, 22 are alive today.  The 13-person team will continue to survey the site and tour of the wreckage in compliance with relevant US law for searching war graves.  The wreckage and all items associated with the wreckage are and will remain property of the US Government and the US Navy.


 USS Constitution vs HMS Guerriere

Here in FOD, I covered some of the history of the USS Constitution , but August 19, 1812 is of particular note.  A frigate was sighted on 19 August and subsequently determined to be HMS Guerriere (38) with the words “Not The Little Belt” painted on her foretopsail. Guerriere opened fire upon entering range of Constitution, doing little damage. After a few exchanges of cannon fire between the ships, Captain Isaac Hull maneuvered Constitution into an advantageous position within 25 yards of Guerriere. He then ordered a full double-loaded broadside of grape and round shot which took out Guerriere‘s mizzenmast.  Guerriere‘s maneuverability decreased with her mizzenmast dragging in the water, and she collided with Constitution, entangling her bowsprit in Constitution‘s mizzen rigging. This left only Guerriere‘s bow guns capable of effective fire. Hull’s cabin caught fire from the shots, but it was quickly extinguished. With the ships locked together, both captains ordered boarding parties into action, but the sea was heavy and neither party was able to board the opposing ship.  At one point, the two ships rotated together counter-clockwise, with Constitution continuing to fire broadsides. When the two ships pulled apart, the force of the bowsprit’s extraction sent shock waves through Guerriere‘s rigging. Her foremast collapsed, and that brought the mainmast down shortly afterward.  Guerriere was now a dismasted, unmanageable hulk with close to a third of her crew wounded or killed, while Constitution remained largely intact. The British surrendered.  Hull had surprised the British with his heavier broadsides and his ship’s sailing ability. Adding to their astonishment, many of the British shots had rebounded harmlessly off Constitution‘s hull. An American sailor reportedly exclaimed “Huzzah! her sides are made of iron!” and Constitution acquired the nickname “Old Ironsides.”  The battle left Guerriere so badly damaged that she was not worth towing to port, and Hull ordered her to be burned the next morning, after transferring the British prisoners onto ConstitutionConstitution arrived back in Boston on 30 August, where Hull and his crew found that news of their victory had spread fast, and they were hailed as heroes.  By the war’s end, “Old Ironsides” destroyed or captured seven more British ships. The success of the USS Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous boost in morale for the young American republic.


Gulf of Sidra Incident

In the first Gulf of Sidra incident, 19 August 1981, two Libyan Su-22 Fitter fired upon and were subsequently shot down by two American F-14 Tomcats off the Libyan coast.  On the morning of 19 August, after having diverted a number of Libyan “mock” attacks on the battle group the previous day, two F-14s from VF-41 “Black Aces”, Fast Eagle 102 (CDR Henry ‘Hank’ Kleemann/LT David ‘DJ’ Venlet) (flying BuNo 160403)  and Fast Eagle 107 (LT Lawrence ‘Music’ Muczynski/LTJG James ‘LucaAnderson) (in BuNo 160390), were flying combat air patrol (CAP), ostensibly to cover aircraft engaged in a missile exercise.  An E-2C Hawkeye alerted Sanders that two Sukhoi Su-22 fighters had taken off from Ghurdabiyah Air Base near the city of Sirte. The two F-14s set up for an intercept as the contacts headed north towards them.  Only a few seconds before the crossing (merge of the four fighters), at an estimated distance of 300 m, one of the Libyans fired an AA-2 “Atoll” at one of the F-14s, which missed.  Then the two Sukhois split as they flew past the Americans; the leader turning to the northwest and the wingman turning southeast in the direction of the Libyan coast.  The Tomcats evaded the missile and were cleared to return fire by their rules of engagement, which mandated self-defense on the initiation of hostile action.  The Tomcats turned hard port and came behind the Libyan jets.  The Americans fired AIM-9L Sidewinders; the first kill is credited to Fast Eagle 102, the second to Fast Eagle 107.  Both Libyan pilots ejected.  Prior to the ejections, a U.S. electronic surveillance plane monitoring the event recorded the lead Libyan pilot report to his ground controller that he had fired a missile at one of the U.S. fighters and gave no indication that the missile shot was unintended.  The official United States Navy report states that both Libyan pilots ejected and were safely recovered, but in the official audio recording of the incident taken from USS Biddle, one of the F-14 pilots states that he saw a Libyan pilot eject, but his parachute failed to open.  Less than an hour later, while the Libyans were conducting a search-and-rescue operation of their downed pilots, two fully armed MiG-25s entered the airspace over the Gulf and headed towards the U.S. carriers at Mach 1.5 and conducted a mock attack in the direction of USS NimitzTwo VF-41 Tomcats headed towards the Libyans, which then turned around. The Tomcats turned home, but had to turn around again when the Libyans headed towards the U.S. carriers once more.  After being tracked by the F-14s’ radars, the MiGs finally headed home. One more Libyan formation ventured out into the Gulf towards the U.S. forces later that day.  Fast Eagle 102 (BuNo 160403) is now on display at the Commemorative Air Force Museum in Midland, Texas. The restored F-14 was unveiled in a ceremony on August 26, 2016. Fast Eagle 107 (BuNo 160390) was destroyed in an accident on 25 October 1994.



Eddie Gaedel Makes MLB Debut

Eddie Gaedel was an American with dwarfism who became famous for participating in a Major League Baseball game.  Gaedel (some sources say the family name may actually have been Gaedele) gained recognition in the second game of a St. Louis Browns doubleheader on August 19, 1951.  Weighing 65 pounds and standing 3 feet 7 inches tall, he became the shortest player in the history of the Major Leagues. Gaedel made a single plate appearance and was walked with four consecutive balls before being replaced by a pinch-runner at first base. His jersey, bearing the uniform number “ 1/8“, is displayed in the St. Louis Cardinals Baseball Hall of Fame and MuseumSt. Louis Browns owner Bill Veeck, in his 1962 autobiography Veeck – As in Wreck, said of Gaedel, “He was, by golly, the best darn midget who ever played big-league ball. He was also the only one.”  With Bob Cain on the mound – laughing at the absurdity that he actually had to pitch to Gaedel – and catcher Bob Swift catching on his knees, Gaedel took his stance.  The Tigers catcher offered his pitcher a piece of strategy: “Keep it low.” Cain delivered four consecutive balls, all high (the first two pitches were legitimate attempts at strikes; the last two were half-speed tosses). Gaedel took his base (stopping twice during his trot to bow to the crowd) and was replaced by pinch-runner Jim Delsing. The 18,369 fans gave Gaedel a standing ovation.  Veeck had hoped that Delsing would go on to score in a one-run Browns victory, but he ended up stranded at third base and the Tigers went on to win the game 6–2.  American League president Will Harridge, saying Veeck was making a mockery of the game, voided Gaedel’s contract the next day. In response, Veeck threatened to request an official ruling on whether Yankees shortstop and reigning MVP Phil Rizzuto was a short ballplayer or a tall dwarf.  Initially, Major League Baseball struck Gaedel from its record book, as if he had not been in the game. He was relisted a year later, as a right-handed batter and left-handed thrower (although he did not play the field).  Eddie Gaedel finished his major league career with an on-base percentage of 1.000. His total earnings as a pro athlete were $100, the scale price for an AGVA appearance. However, he was able to parlay his baseball fame into more than $17,000 by appearing on several television shows.  Gaedel is one of only five Major League players who drew a walk in their only plate appearance and never played the field. The first three all played in the 1910s: Dutch Schirick (Sep 17, 1914 with the Browns), Bill Batsch (Sep 9, 1916 with Pittsburgh) and Joe Cobb (April 25, 1918 with Detroit; although recent research shows that Cobb may have actually struck out in his only plate appearance). On June 24, 2007, Kevin Melillo of the Oakland Athletics, became the first player in over half a century to walk in his only plate appearance without taking the field, against the New York Mets. Other than Gaedel, the other four players pinch-hit for pitchers; all five appeared in games their teams ultimately lost.  Due to its scarcity, Gaedel’s autograph now sells for more than Babe Ruth‘s.


F8U-1 Crusader Makes Memorable Speed Run

Well it’s always good to have a good F-8 Crusader story in FOD, even though I think I had one just a few days ago.  On August 21, 1956, Commander Robert Wilks “Duke” Windsor, Jr., Prototype XF8U-1s were evaluated by VX-3 beginning in late 1956, with few problems noted. Weapons development was conducted at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake and a China Lake F8U-1 set a U.S. National speed record in August 1956. Commander “Duke” Windsor set, broke, and set a new Level Flight Speed Record of 1,015.428 mph (1,634.173 km/h) on 21 August 1956 beating the previous record of 822 mph (1,323 km/h) set by a USAF F-100Robert Wilks Windsor, Jr. was born at Wilmington, Delaware, studied at the University of Virginia before being appointed as a midshipman at the United States Naval Academy, Annapolis, Maryland, entering 9 July 1937 and graduating in 1941.  Trained as a pilot, Windsor was designated a Naval Aviator in 1943. During World War II, he served aboard the battleship USS Colorado (BB-45) and USS McLanahan (DD-615 ), a Benson-class destroyer, in the Mediterranean Theater of Operations. He also commanded Composite Squadron 68 (VC-68) aboard the escort carrier USS Shamrock Bay (CVE-84).  Later in the Crusader he conducted the carrier suitability studies for the F-8U-1 and on 4 April 1956, took the first F-8U1 first catapult launch from the USS Forrestal.  He later served as the commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Independence (CVA-62) (a ship I served in VF-33) and then served on the staff of Commander, Second Fleet, aboard USS Newport News (CA-148). Captain Windsor retired from the Navy in April 1967, after 30 years of service. An early F8U-1 (Buno 141363) was modified as a photo-reconnaissance aircraft, becoming the first F8U-1P. Subsequently, the RF-8A and later modified to become an RF-8G was equipped with cameras rather than guns and missiles. On 16 July 1957, Major John H. Glenn, JR, USMC, completed the first supersonic transcontinental flight in a F8U-1P, flying from NAS Los Alamitos, California, to Floyd Bennett Field, New York, in 3 hours, 23 minutes, and 8.3 seconds.  The Original photo-Crusader (Buno 141363) at Davis Monthan Bone Yard (no longer there—perhaps being restored?).  Built as an F8U-1 (fighter), it was cut apart by Vought Aircraft, new sections fabricated and the very first photo Crusader emerged.  I flew this aircraft when I was going through the F-8 “Rag” (Fleet Replacement Squadron) at VFP-63.



First Around the World Telegram and Voyager II Remembered

On August 20, 1911, a dispatcher in the New York Times office sends the first telegram around the world via commercial service. Exactly 66 years later, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sends a different kind of message–a phonograph record containing information about Earth for extraterrestrial beings–shooting into space aboard the unmanned spacecraft Voyager 2.  The Times decided to send its 1911 telegram in order to determine how fast a commercial message could be sent around the world by telegraph cable. The message, reading simply “This message sent around the world,” left the dispatch room on the 17th floor of the Times building in New York at 7 p.m. on August 20. After it traveled more than 28,000 miles, being relayed by 16 different operators, through San Francisco, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Saigon, Singapore, Bombay, Malta, Lisbon and the Azores–among other locations–the reply was received by the same operator 16.5 minutes later. It was the fastest time achieved by a commercial cablegram since the opening of the Pacific cable in 1900 by the Commercial Cable Company.  Pretty cool for 1911.  Voyager 1 and Voyager 2 were launched in 1977 to take advantage of a favorable alignment of JupiterSaturn, (above right) Uranus, and Neptune, and are now exploring the outer boundary of the heliosphere in interstellar space. Although their original mission was to study only the planetary systems of Jupiter and Saturn, Voyager 2 continued on to Uranus and Neptune  (below left), and both Voyagers are now tasked with exploring interstellar space. Their mission has been extended three times, and both probes continue to collect and relay useful scientific data. Neither Uranus nor Neptune has been visited by any probe other than Voyager 2.  In addition, both craft carry with them a 12-inch golden phonograph record that contains pictures and sounds of Earth along with symbolic directions on the cover for playing the record and data detailing the location of our planet.  The record is intended as a combination of a time capsule and an interstellar message to any civilization, alien or far-future human, that may recover either of the Voyagers. The contents of this record were selected by a committee that included Timothy Ferris and was chaired by Carl Sagan. (below right). Intended as a kind of introductory time capsule, the record included greetings in 60 languages and scientific information about Earth and the human race, along with classical, jazz and rock ‘n’ roll music, nature sounds like thunder and surf, and recorded messages from President Jimmy Carter and other world leaders.  There is also a recording of a human heart, and that human heart recording if that of Carl Sagan’s wife, author Ann Druyan.  The record was sealed in an aluminum jacket that would keep it intact for 1 billion years, along with instructions on how to play the record, with a cartridge and needle provided.  Thanks to the Voyager program, NASA scientists gained a wealth of information about the outer planets, including close-up photographs of Saturn’s seven rings; evidence of active geysers and volcanoes exploding on some of the four planets’ 22 moons; winds of more than 1,500 mph on Neptune; and measurements of the magnetic fields on Uranus and Neptune. The two crafts are expected to continue sending data until 2020, or until their plutonium-based power sources run out. After that, they will continue to sail on through the galaxy for millions of years to come and “billions and billions” (his famous quote) of miles, barring some unexpected collision.



Commendable Flying Effort

Ensign Charles Hammann, was awarded the Medal of Honor, when, as a pilot of a Macchi M.5 seaplane on August 21, 1918, off the Austro-Hungarian coast, he dived down and landed next to a downed fellow pilot, brought him aboard, and although his plane was not designed for the double load, brought him to safety amid constant danger of attack by Austrian planes. An enlisted pilot at the time, he was commissioned as an Ensign in October 1918.  Two ships have been named USS Hammann for him. The first was the USS Hammann (DD-412), a World War II-era Sims-class destroyer in the service of the United States Navy. The second was the USS Hammann (DE-131), an Edsall-class destroyer escort built for the United States Navy during World War II. Hammann was killed while on active duty at Langley FieldVirginia, June 14, 1919.

2 thoughts on “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 19 through 21 August 2017”

  1. Another Point
    Joe Aucoin worked for me as skeds and training o in my second stint in VF-33. Best RIO in the squadron. You’d think these small boy skippers could teach basic plotting chart techniques to the JOs they have now. My son related an observation on the bridge of USS Bush on his last deplaoyment. A surface contact about 5 miles on the ships port quarter required a course change from the Bush as they had the right of way and there were no flight ops at the time. The busy beaver black shoes were fretting with their plotting charts trying to come up with a course to clear the contact. The CO threw the offenders off the bridge but before he did, he “showed” them how to do it by coming right to put the nose of the ship a few degrees behind the contact w/o going thru the “calculations”. No SA was apparent with these guys.

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