August 21, 2019

The Falklands War Part 17

In early April 1982, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands, a few desolate rocks in the South Atlantic. The British mobilized their fleet in response. The carriers arrived off the Falklands on May 1st, swiftly defeating the Argentine Air Force. The Argentine Navy tried to interfere the next day, but withdrew after the cruiser General Belgrano was sunk by a submarine. Two days later, the Argentinians struck back, sinking the frigate Sheffield with an Exocet missile. Two weeks later, on May 21st, British troops landed at San Carlos Water on the west coast of East Falkland. The Argentine Air Force quickly got wind of this, and launched numerous sorties against the invasion fleet. The first three days were brutal for both sides, with the British losing two frigates and suffering several others damaged, while a third of the Argentine jets were shot down. May 24th saw the only serious attack on the amphibious shipping, followed by a last strike on the 25th.1


Coventry

In an attempt to stem the tide of air attacks, the destroyer Coventry and frigate Broadsword had been stationed to the north of Falkland Sound, serving as a "missile trap" and directing in the Sea Harrier Combat Air Patrol (CAP). On the 24th, they had vectored in Sea Harriers that had shot down three aircraft from a four-plane raid, while the morning of the 25th saw two Skyhawks fall to Coventry's Sea Dart missiles. The Argentinians were well aware of their presence, and at 1300 on the 25th, they sent a flight of six Skyhawks after the ships. Two had refueling problems and had to return to base, but the other four bored in. They came to the south of West Falkland, and the British assumed that they were headed for San Carlos from the south. Instead, they turned north to cross West Falkland, dodging the CAP dispatched on the assumption they would keep heading east. Read more...

August 19, 2019

Rule the Waves 2 Game 1 - October 1905

Gentlemen, We are pleased to announce the laying down of our first class of the new Irresistible-type battleships, the Devastations. Two ships, Devastation and Charles Martel, have been laid down in anticipation of the commissioning of the Duquesne and Tourville next month. The war against Austria also continues to go well. Raider activity has been cut dramatically by the deployment of our Sfax-class cruisers on trade protection duty, while we have continued to win victories when our forces clash. Even better, there are reports of unrest among their citizens.


Note that we have a bunch of ships commissioning next month, and the deficit will go away then.

At this point, significant decisions have to be made about the shape of the postwar fleet. The recent development of the steam turbine has greatly aided us in these efforts, allowing most of our fast designs an extra knot on the same tonnage. We could lay down more Devastations, design a new battlecruiser, or rebuild our light cruiser force. It's also worth pointing out that we'll complete a dock expansion to 24,000 tons in 6 more months.2 Read more...

August 18, 2019

The Spanish-American War Part 8 - Santiago Aftermath

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. Three of his cruisers were destroyed almost immediately, while the last one survived less than four hours. The Spanish lost almost 20% of their men, while the Americans had a single sailor killed and minor damage to their ships.

But what explains this one-sided victory? Unlike Manila Bay, the answer is not found in overwhelming superiority on the part of the American ships. The Spanish cruisers were reasonably modern, and while they had some technical issues, particularly with the 14cm guns, these alone cannot explain their failure to inflict any meaningful damage on the Americans. The most badly-damaged American ship, Brooklyn, took only four hits from medium-caliber (4"-6") guns and another 16 from lighter guns, mostly 6 pdr and 1 pdr.3 The best explanation probably lies in the ability of the Americans to establish fire superiority over the Spanish at the beginning of the battle. This is best seen in Gloucester's victory over the Spanish destroyers, where rapid and accurate gunfire drove the gunners from their posts and prevented any meaningful retaliation. Most of the guns, particularly the lighter ones, were mounted in the open, and the hail of American fire drove many Spanish gunners from their posts and hindered the accuracy of those who stayed.4 Read more...

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 models5 and float those, too. We'll fill the last one with fake flowers or something. Everyone likes this plan.6


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 bottom7 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 86.8

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

Gentlemen,

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...