August 16, 2019

Wedding Decorations

We're at the venue, a month and a half before the wedding. Lord Nelson and the planner there are discussing table decorations for the reception. I'm thinking about battleships. The talk turns to centerpieces, and the lady says something about using water and floating things in it, like candles. My brain immediately says "You know what else floats? Ships! And if we can get some models that we could float, it would be a cool touch, and one that I'd like." I share this plan, and both of them like it, too. Lord Nelson points out that since the centerpieces they're talking about have three vase/cylinder things, she can find a bunch of Kyogre models1 and float those, too. We'll fill the last one with fake flowers or something. Everyone likes this plan.2

The final result

I immediately busy myself trying to find models. Given that I have to fit the models into a cylinder which is 3-4" across, they're going to have to be small. I'm having trouble finding anything until I stumble across 1:6000 wargaming minis from Figurehead. I can just build a raft out of balsa or something for them to float on. But because they're not designed to float, I know stability is going to be a problem. They're metal, which means really excessive topweight. Hmm... What if I make the raft a catamaran? That solves the stability problem handily. Catamarans basically don't tip over, and I can then use twice as many ships. It'll probably look better too. So I order a bunch. Two sets of Iowas, one WWII and one 80s, a pair of Nelsons for her, some Wasps, to represent America, and Iron Dukes, Burkes and Essexs to round the set out. Then I start development of the rafts. And things begin to go downhill. Read more...

August 14, 2019

The Spanish-American War Part 7 - The Battle of Santiago

In 1898, tensions between the US and Spain over the remains of Spain's Caribbean empire boiled over after the battleship Maine blew up in Havana Harbor. The US declared war and blockaded Cuba, while the Asiatic Fleet under George Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet in the Philippines at Manila Bay. The Spanish dispatched a fleet under Admiral Cervera to break the blockade, but it ended up trapped in Santiago on Cuba's south coast. The Americans landed troops and tightened their blockade, and on Sunday, July 3rd, Cervera finally sortied.

When Cervera's ships emerged from Santiago harbor, they found only five of the American heavy ships waiting for them. Massachusetts had been detached to coal at Guantanamo, while New York had recently departed to carry Sampson to a consultation with General Shafter, the commander of the troops ashore, leaving Commodore Schley in charge. Of the ships on station, only the Oregon had a clean bottom3 and steam up in all of her boilers, her engineering crew honed by her trip around South America. The other vessels had only enough power for 10 to 12 knots when the Spanish were sighted and Iowa ran up hoist number 250, "the enemy's ships are escaping" and fired the alarm gun. Two minutes later, her men were at their battle stations, many still wearing their white uniforms for Sunday inspection. New York, alerted by the alarm guns, turned back to join the action. Read more...

August 12, 2019

Open Thread 32

It's our regular open thread. Talk about anything you want that isn't culture war.

Interesting thing of the thread is the tale of HMS Victorious in the US Pacific Fleet.

Posts overhauled since last time include Information, Communication and Naval Warfare Part 1, So You Want to Build a Modern Navy - Aviation Part 3, The Operational Intelligence Center, Nautical Measurements, and Falklands Part 5.

August 11, 2019

Naval Weddings

The military world has built up a number of traditions around weddings, just as it has for most other areas of life. For some reason, these are shared between nautical and non-nautical branches, with minimal differences between the two. Despite this, it's still an area worth taking a look at.

For reasons that I do not understand, finding free pictures of military weddings is borderline impossible. Instead, please accept this picture of Iowa from exercise Northern Wedding 86.4

Traditionally, members of the military are married in dress uniform, although this isn't an absolute requirement, and this is an area of protocol which has seen significant development in the last few decades. In more and more cases, the servicemember getting married is the bride instead of (or in addition to) the groom. Some choose to get married in uniform, while others wear a traditional wedding dress. Read more...

August 09, 2019

Turret Designations

When talking about battleships, it's often necessary to somehow name turrets. In the pre-dreadnought days it usually wasn't too hard, as there were only two main turrets, and you could call them "fore" and "aft". But dreadnoughts had between three and seven turrets, and different nations used different techniques to designate them.

USS Wyoming, showing turrets 1-6

The USN's system was the easiest to understand. The turrets were simply numbered fore to aft. While this system is simple and effective, it had one major drawback. It didn't deal with wing turrets well. This wasn't a problem for the USN, which never used wing turrets, but most dreadnought-owning navies did, and needed a different system. Read more...

August 07, 2019

The Spanish-American War Part 6 - Prelude to Battle

In 1898, tensions between the US and Spain over the remains of Spain's Caribbean empire boiled over after the battleship Maine blew up in Havana Harbor. The US declared war and blockaded Cuba, while the Asiatic Fleet under George Dewey destroyed the Spanish fleet in the Philippines at Manila Bay. The Spanish dispatched a fleet to break the blockade, but it ended up trapped in Santiago on Cuba's south coast in late May, while the Americans began making plans to land an army and take the city.

Troops landing at Daiquiri

The Fifth Army Corps had been assembled at Tampa for the invasion of Cuba, and the initial plan had been for it to sail on June 9th. In the days before their departure, several ships on patrol in the waters around Florida spotted what they believed to be heavy Spanish ships. Upon further investigation, these universally turned out to be either American or neutral vessels, but the net result was to delay the sailing of the transports until June 14th. The six-day voyage to Santiago was uneventful, and on June 22nd, the troops began to go ashore at Daiquirí, 12 miles east of Santiago. Fortunately, it was unopposed, or things might have devolved into chaos and failure, as is so common in amphibious operations. Admiral Sampson, commander of the American fleet, didn't have command over the troopships, and many of their captains refused to come close inshore. Worse, they had been loaded haphazardly, and nobody was quite sure where important supplies were. While the boats tasked with bringing troops ashore had a total capacity of 1,800 men, only 6,000 troops were landed between 10 am and 6 pm on the first day. Read more...

August 05, 2019

Rule the Waves 2 Game 1 - April 1905


We are at a crucial juncture. Not in the war against Austria, which continues to go well with their recent defeats at Sirte and at the Second Battle of Sibenik. But in ship design. We have recently developed the technology to mount three turrets on the centerline of a ship, opening the way for us to reduce in importance the secondary batteries of our ships. Exactly what form these ships will take is still an open question, however.

An Editorial from Le Figaro:

Why do the Austrians continue their hopeless struggle? Repeatedly, we have smashed their fleet. At Second Sirte alone, we sank 10 ships. And yet, they have only offered peace deals that leave them in control of Norway. They cannot continue this forever. Our blockade will strangle them sooner, rather than later, and France will never be short of sailors to man our ships and send their fleet to the bottom. Soon, our current ships will be joined by new vessels that will be the envy of the world. Then Austria will have no choice but to capitulate, and we can face the real threat, that of Germany. Read more...

August 04, 2019

The Maximum Battleship

Now that I've finished with my tale of the development of the British and American battleships as actually built, I can turn my attention to some of the cul-de-sacs along the way, design concepts that were considered and then bypassed for one reason or another. Probably the most interesting and certainly the most famous of these is the Maximum Battleship.

Benjamin Tillman

The maximum battleship was the brainchild of Senator Benjamin Tillman, a powerful member of the Senate Committee on Naval Affairs.5 In 1912, Tillman, exasperated with the continual growth of the ships the Navy was requesting, asked them to study the biggest battleship they could actually make use of, given the limitations of the existing docking facilities, most notably the Panama Canal, which would open in two more years. The first result was an enlarged version of Nevada: 38,000 tons, 12 14" guns, a 17" belt and 23 kts. The Bureau of Construction & Repair was horrified at the size of the resulting ship, which could only fit into two drydocks in the country, both on the West Coast. To bring size down, they cut speed to 20 kts, which saved 3,000 tons and enough length to fit the ship into drydocks on the East Coast. Read more...

August 02, 2019

How to Build a Battleship - 1942

Life Magazine, the famous news weekly that published from 1936 to 1972, is online. Google books has the entire archive, free of charge. I, of course, went looking for battleship-related content, and came across a real gem. In April 1942, Life published How to Build a Battleship, a look at the construction of the new battleships at Philadelphia Navy Yard.

Washington ready for launch at Philadelphia

I thought I would add commentary, things that Life either didn't know or couldn't say for security reasons.6 Philadelphia built three battleships in this era, Washington, New Jersey and Wisconsin. Washington was in service when the article was written, while the other two were still on the ways. Read more...

July 31, 2019

So You Want to Build a Battleship - Trials and Commissioning

Even after a battleship had been designed, built, launched and fitted out, it still wasn't quite ready to go into service. Anything as large and complex as a warship needs to be thoroughly wrung out before it can be considered ready to go to war.7

Iowa is inclined during her shakedown period

This was the job of sea trials, a joint effort between the builder and the navy to make sure that everything was actually working. These began with machinery trials, first simply running up the engines dockside to make sure they actually worked, and then taking the ship to sea under her own power the first time. After everyone was satisfied that the engines were working, and any deficiencies were corrected, performance trials would begin. There was always some doubt about how a new ship would perform, particularly if it was the first of the class. Several different trials would be run, most notably the 1-hour full-power trial, where the ship would run a measured mile, probably going faster than she ever would again.8 Another important trial was the 8-hour power trial, which was intended to prove that the engines could stand the strain of prolonged use at high power, if not quite so high as the 1-hour trial. Then there were economy trials, intended to give figures on fuel consumption and feedwater usage.9 Read more...