Repairs at Sea: Floating Dry-Docks of World War II

H/T War History OnLine.

How many lives were saved and battles won because of the Floating Dry-Docks?

The U.S. Navy battleship USS Pennsylvania (BB-38) drydocked in an Advanced Base Sectional Dock (ABSD) at the Pacific, circa 194

With few other ports offering facilities able to cope with such massive vessels, the American Navy got creative in its solutions.

When the United States of America entered World War II, the nation faced a slew of logistical problems unique to each theater. From the sands of Vichy-occupied Africa to the hedgerows of France, American soldiers fought a largely conventional modern war as envisioned by strategists. The Pacific Theater would prove a very different campaign.

The forces mustered against the Empire of Japan in the Pacific faced a host of difficulties, the most obvious being the need for a lengthy logistical train for their forward units.

Though the modern technology of the time mitigated those problems to some extent, the sheer scale of the campaign in terms of mileage created difficulties for all parts of the American military. Troops traveled long distances even as they hopped from island to island to force back the Japanese.

The U.S. Navy light cruiser USS Columbia (CL-56) docked in the floating dry dock USS Artisan (ABSD-1) at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, in January 1944.

In addition, airplanes needed outposts and aircraft carriers to land, refuel, and rearm. Pivotal to all this was the need to keep the Navy supplied, armed, and afloat.

AFDB-1 with West Virginia (BB-48) high and dry in the dock, off Aessi Island, Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides, 13 November 1944.

Repairing and refitting the large carriers, cruisers, and battleships deployed in the Pacific required sizeable drydock installations. Though the drydocks in Pearl Harbor were repaired and useable during the war, their distance from the campaign theater meant ships requiring repairs had a long way to go.

With few other ports offering facilities able to cope with such massive vessels, the American Navy got creative in its solutions.

The U.S. Navy escort carrier USS Lunga Point (CVE-94) enters a floating drydock at Guam, in May 1945.

The Navy’s solution was portable floating drydocks. Officially designated Advance Base Sectional Docks (ABSD), the moveable docks consisted of large pieces welded together to allow repairs at sea or in those instances where proper repair and refit facilities didn’t exist at a nearby port.

The ABSDs came in two sizes. The smaller of the two, combined from eight sections welded together, could support a ship of up to 8,000 tons in weight, 120 feet wide, and 725 feet long. The larger docks were built from ten sections and could hold a ship up to 90,000 tons.

USS Artisan (ABSD-1) with USS Antelope (IX-109) and LST-120 in the dock at Espiritu Santo, New Hebrides Islands, 8 January 1945

Despite being top heavy, the docks could be safely (though slowly) towed thanks to clever construction and foldable walls. They included cranes with a 15-ton lift limit, crew housing, and diesel generators.

By the war’s end, four small docks and three large docks were completed and in service. The first dock entered use in 1943, with the others quickly following.

Naval Air Station, San Pedro, July 13, 1945

The drydocks proved their worth countless times, allowing repairs and refits much closer to the campaign theater and allowing vessels too damaged to make their way eastward a chance to continue the fight. From destroyers and troops ships to battleships and aircraft carriers, the ABSDs kept the United States Navy operational and pressing forward against the Japanese.

Even with the war’s end, their service continued. ABSD-1, the first of the massive floating drydocks in use, continued intermittent service for decades after World War II. Parts of it were decommissioned, scrapped, and utilized throughout the latter half of the twentieth century.

USS Makin Island (CVE-93) halfway into USS ABSD-6, at Guam, 8 June 1945

It even continued supporting the Navy in some small way as parts of it served as a drydock during the Korean Conflict. The last piece in service was decommissioned in 1998.

The portable drydocks were an answer to the problem of a far-flung navy fighting a regional naval power without having to send its forces long distances for repairs or having to scuttle vessels too badly damaged to make the journey. Thanks to the floating drydocks, the United States Navy managed to keep pressing the advance as they forced the Japanese back island by island.

Los Alamos (AFDB-7), with a repaired submarine at Holy Loch, Scotland in 1985

Even after the war, they continued to aid the Navy and bridge the logistical gap between the American homeland and the far-flung theaters of the Cold War. Thanks to their use and American ingenuity, the brutality of the Pacific Theater ended all the more quickly.

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DHS Panel Calls for Urgent Action to Address the Border Crisis

H/T The Washington Free Beacon.

Everybody except the Dumbass DemocRats can see we have a crisis at our border.

‘This challenge requires emergency action,’ experts say

Australian Museums’ Guns face Destruction

H/T AmmoLand.

The same things would be happening here if the liberal loons had their way.

Lithgow-Small-Arms-Factory-Museum-Boys-Rifle-700-600x287
Australian Museums’ Guns face Destruction

 

Australia -(Ammoland.com)- The most famous firearms manufacturer in Australia is the Lithgow Small Arms Factory. On the grounds of the existing factory site is the Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum. The Museum is independently owned and operated, primarily by volunteers, as an independent trust on behalf of the City of Lithgow. Just a few weeks ago, the museum learned that 70 percent of its collection is at risk of being destroyed because of a thoughtless change in firearms law passed in 2017, specifically aimed at museums. Museums were not contacted about the change in the law. They had no input about it. From lithgowsafmuseum.org.au:

LSAFM only found out about the new Regulation when another regional volunteer-led museum had firearms confiscated in early February 2019, and contacted us for advice.

How has the Firearms Regulation changed …

Basically the 2017 Regulation for Museums states that all pistols, self-loading long arms, sub-machine guns or machine guns are to be rendered permanently inoperable.

The irreversible destruction includes:

  • inserting a steel rod traversing the length of the barrel and welding it at the muzzle and chamber;
  • welding the barrel to the receiver;
  • removing the firing pin and welding the hole;
  • removing internal springs;
  • welding internal components;
  • welding any bolts and external hammers; and
  • welding the trigger in a fixed position.

All other firearms, such as bolt action rifles and older antiques, remain temporarily inoperable. But they may well be next in line if this insidious legislation is not overturned. Collectors should also be concerned.

As someone who reads, studies, and writes about Australian gun law, I was surprised by the draconian museum mandates. I do not recall any public debate about the issue. I study legislative procedures. It appears this change was inserted without any actual consideration, about the effect on existing museums, their collections, and historical artifacts.

Australian law requires that legislation be re-enacted every five years. These changes were included in what would otherwise be a relatively unremarkable re-enactment of the firearms legislation.  As I read the description of proposed changes, I noticed all the changes were in the direction of more and more restrictions. Sunset laws only work when those affected by them actually have a voice in the legislature.

Museums already have extremely tight security, as required by law. I have not read of any incidents involving theft of guns from museums. Private collectors, in the legislation, are subject to less restrictions than museums.

Lithgow receives significant revenue from tourism. The Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum is a significant draw for the city. The Lithgow City Council backs the museum in opposition to this onerous legislation.  From lithgowmercury.com.au:

Lithgow City Council has thrown its support behind the Lithgow Small Arms Museum (LSAFM) after it found out that 70 per cent of the museums collection could be destroyed due to new regulations.

The new regulation for museums that went through in November 2017 states that all pistols, self-loading longarms, sub-machine guns or machine guns are to be rendered permanently inoperable.

The situation was brought to council’s attention at its March meeting as a matter of great urgency by Cr Stephen Lesslie.

The legislation in Australia appears to be driven by the assumption that firearms, even in museums, are of little or no value. It appears to have taken many of the features from changes in European law about firearms collectors, and applied them to museums in Australia.

An alternate and potential concurrent explanation is that firearms in museums, even rendered temporarily inoperable, are a source of illicit arms for criminal purposes. I have not read of a single case where museum displays were stolen and used in crimes.

To students of firearms and enthusiasts about firearm history and technology, the requirement to destroy key working parts of rare and valuable collector items, to render the actions of firearms incapable of moving, are bizarre sacrifices to the gods of political correctness. It is a direct attack on gun culture and gun enthusiasts, for no serious purpose.

Firearms are centuries old technology. It is relatively easy for small shops to make fully automatic firearms, which has commonly been done in Australia on the black market.

Pistols are simple and easy to make, with commonly available machines, but sub-machineguns are even easier.

The Lithgow Small Arms Factory Museum is the premier firearms museum in Australia. It is a national treasure. Many of its exhibits are not duplicated elsewhere.

Requiring museum pieces to be destroyed because of a bizarre fear of theft from museums may be a step too far for Australian firearms regulators.

There is an allowance, in the current legislation, for police chiefs to make exceptions for firearms on an individual basis.

This places all the power in the police bureaucracy, allowing any future police chief to destroy museums at whim.

Relying on the long-term good will of a police bureaucracy is a bad strategy.


About Dean Weingarten:Dean Weingarten

Dean Weingarten has been a peace officer, a military officer, was on the University of Wisconsin Pistol Team for four years, and was first certified to teach firearms safety in 1973. He taught the Arizona concealed carry course for fifteen years until the goal of constitutional carry was attained. He has degrees in meteorology and mining engineering, and recently retired from the Department of Defense after a 30 year career in Army Research, Development, Testing, and Evaluation.

 

 

The Highest Award for Valor on D-Day: Is it Time to Correct this 75-year-old Injustice?

H/T War History OnLine.

It is time to look back at D-Day and upgrade the DSC as needed to the Medal Of Honor.

U.S. troops preparing to land on Omaha Beach. June of 1944

No other one-day battle in the fight to liberate Europe was as costly for Americans as that to take “Bloody Omaha”.

On 6 June 1944, some 73,000 Americans landed in Normandy. More than two thousand made the ultimate sacrifice with by far the highest losses suffered on Omaha Beach with over nine hundred killed. There were untold acts of great boldness and audacity – frontal assaults into the cross-hairs of pre-sited machine-guns depend for their success on courage and aggression above all.

And yet, for their actions on D-Day only four Americans received the highest award for valor, the Congressional Medal of Honor (MOH). Were too few recognized from so very many brave men?

One of the four recipients was Theodore Roosevelt Jr., acting deputy commander of the 4th Division, and the oldest man at age 56 to land in the first wave. He led very ably on 6 June and beyond. Stepping out of a landing craft at around 6:30 AM on Utah Beach was in itself medal-worthy.

Normandy Invasion, June 1944 Troops in an LCVP landing craft approaching “Omaha” Beach on “D-Day”, 6 June 1944

Yet his status as the son of America’s 26th President, Theodore Roosevelt, also explains why he and no other man from 23,500 who crossed Utah, or indeed any paratrooper from more than 13,000 who dropped inland of the beach, received the highest award for valor. Patronage and politics played a part, however courageous Roosevelt undoubtedly was.

Teddy Roosevelt Jr.

Other than Roosevelt, who died of heart failure on 12 July 1944, the other recipients of the medal all came ashore on Omaha. From the 35,000 men landed that day on the most fatal of the five landing beaches, some 4,700 men become casualties – missing, wounded, or killed – accounting for around thirteen percent of the total force launched early that morning from the sea.

More than 900 men died there. No other one-day battle in the fight to liberate Europe was as costly for Americans as that to take “Bloody Omaha.” No other stretch of sands in Europe, it might be argued, witnessed so much death as well as courage in WWII.

Theodore’s grave

All three of the men who received the MOH on Omaha belonged to the storied Big Red One, the only US infantry division from three on D-Day that had previously experienced combat.

Technician 5th Grade John Pinder from Pennsylvania had, like many of his comrades, seen action in Sicily with the 16th Infantry. He knew what an MG-42 machine gun sounded like – how it could fire up to 1,500 rounds per minute, three times faster than any American automatic weapon. He knew the shrapnel caused by an 88mm artillery piece could turn men to hamburger. On Omaha, there was hardly any place out of range of both weapons.

joepinder
Joe Pinder

Pinder actually landed on his 32nd birthday, probably in the Easy Red sector, one of eight assigned landing zones, and the second most lethal after Dog Green where most of the first wave were killed or wounded in just a few minutes.

Carrying a heavy radio on his back, he was a natural target for snipers enjoying open season – defenders who knew that taking out radiomen was as impactful as picking off officers whose job it was to lead young, terrified Americans into the line of fire.

As Pinder stepped off his landing craft, he came under intense machine gun fire which ripped through men nearby. He’d waded just a few yards when he too was hit. Although badly wounded, he managed to make it to the beach with his radio.

Losing blood rapidly, Pinder refused to be treated by a medic and was seen trying to pull another radio and other equipment from the bullet-whipped shallows. The third time he returned to the waterline he was shot in the legs. While setting up radio communication – which would have helped save lives – he was hit yet again, this time fatally.

24-year-old Private Carlton Barrett, just 5 feet 4 inches tall and tipping the scales at 125 pounds, was probably the smallest man in the 1st Division’s 18th Infantry Regiment. He also waded ashore under heavy fire. He too was seen returning several times to the water, in his case to save wounded men from drowning.

10933443_d85206c3-2f78-492c-a8d3-3f8796c36ffe
Carlton Barrett

Even as mortar shells exploded and bullets slashed all around, according to his MOH citation, he “calmed the shocked; he arose as a leader in the stress of the occasion.” He survived Omaha and the war. Forever haunted by the carnage he had witnessed, he died aged 66 in California.

26-year-old, Virginia-born Lieutenant Jimmie Monteith, also with the Big Red One, also arrived when Bloody Omaha was deadliest and managed to organize his unit and get it to relative safety below some cliffs. He then led two tanks through a minefield and directed their fire at enemy strongpoints which were soon destroyed.

After moving off Fox Red sector furthest east on Omaha, he and his men seized a critical strongpoint, WN61, but were then surrounded. Attempting to break out, Monteith was killed.

Jimmie Monteith

For their heroism on Omaha Beach, 153 men would receive the Distinguished Service Cross, America’s second highest award for bravery. Some of these DSC awards for extraordinary courage on Omaha should, without doubt, have actually been Medals of Honor. But officials were apparently concerned that too many men would get the highest award and its significance might somehow be diminished.

So in several cases the MOH was downgraded to a DSC by an evaluation board. Had it not been for a personal note from General Eisenhower himself, Jimmie Monteith would in fact have received the DSC rather than the MOH.

Grave marker of Medal of Honor recipient Jimmie W. Monteith Jr. at the World War II Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

Not one man from the other infantry division to land on Omaha, the 29th, received the MOH. Yet so many, namely Assistant Division Commander Norman Cota, were certainly deserving of it, more than showing sufficient “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.”

Unlike the Big Red One, the 29th Division was new to combat and most of the National Guard unit’s officers had never made medal recommendations for a Bronze Star, let alone the highest award with its stringent conditions.

As the 75th anniversary of D-Day approaches it might be appropriate to convene a new evaluation board and look again at the cases of those whose bravery was not sufficiently recognized on D-Day, starting with those who fought on Omaha Beach.

Omaha on the afternoon of D-Day

Upgrading several DSC awards would be a fitting act of commemoration. It would make the families of these forgotten inordinately proud, quite apart from correcting an injustice. But what of the recipients, long gone?

Might they shrug and smile ruefully from their graves? Might they simply say, as so many living MOH recipients do: “Thanks, but I was just doing my job. I was doing what any other good soldier would do.”

What do medals mean anyway? Many decorated veterans from WWII have prized above all the combat infantry badge, not an award for valor as such, but a signifier that they were in fact there, deep in the horror and maw, unlike the men on evaluation boards.

Easy Red sector of Omaha Beach, Normandy, France on D+1, June 7, 1944.

They did their part. The recognition of that was more than enough.

Take the case of Audie Murphy, America’s most decorated soldier from WWII. He didn’t rack up 33 awards so he could bask in glory. He wanted to get the war over as fast as he could and the best way to shorten it, in his mind, was to attack and kill the enemy. Medals meant so little to him that he considered giving all of his away when he returned home, covered in ribbons, brutalized and forever broken.

“War is a nasty business,” he told one reporter, “to be avoided if possible, and to be gotten over with as soon as possible. It’s not the sort of job that deserves medals.”

 

Pop Goes The Measles

The O.K. Corral

An Israeli stewardess is now in a coma after she contracted measles in either Israel or New York City. Great work, anti-vaxxers. Really great work.

Israeli health officials said the 43-year-old El Al flight attendant now has encephalitis, an inflammation of the brain and complication of the potentially fatal virus — which she may have contracted in New York, Israel or on a flight between the two locations.

“She’s been in a deep coma for 10 days, and we’re now just hoping for the best,” said Dr. Itamar Grotto, associate director general of Israel’s Ministry of Health.

The woman, who had been healthy prior to contracting measles, is now on a respirator in an intensive care unit at a hospital in Kfar Saba, near Tel Aviv. She was admitted to Meir Medical Center after developing a fever on March 31.

The woman was vaccinated as a child but received only…

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Reporting From the Front

Pacific Paratrooper

The Writing 69th

After writing one too many stories about troops who had taken off to bomb Germany never to come back, Andy Rooney, along with seven other World War II correspondents, wanted to see the action.

After weeks of begging, the reporters finally got their wish and were sent to gunnery school for a week of intensive training to prepare for the assignment. Despite their noncombatant status as journalists, the military insisted the reporters, who dubbed themselves the “Writing 69th,” needed to have enough combat knowledge to be helpful in case something went wrong during the flight.

Andy Rooney

“We were shot at,” Rooney told On Patrol in 2011. “I was at mid-side gunner. I operated a gun even though I was a correspondent. We weren’t supposed to, but I mean I was up there, and all the other guys were shooting so I had to pay my way.”

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