Tuesday, September 30, 2014

60th Anniversary of Submarine Nuclear Power

This Day in History

September 30, 1954



On this day in 1954, the first nuclear powered submarine, USS Nautilus (SSN-571), was commissioned into the United States Navy.  Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, known as the “Father of the Nuclear Navy,” personally planned and supervised the construction of Nautilus.  The keel was laid at General Dynamics’s Electric Boat Division in Groton, Connecticut on June 14, 1952, by President Harry S. Truman. January 21, 1954, Nautilus was christened by the First Lady Mamie Eisenhower and launched into the Thames River. Nautilus completed 25 years of service to the United States Navy.  During that time the submarine broke records and was put into history books for various missions and cruises due to her nuclear propulsion. 

First Lady Eisenhower christening USS Nautilus.
The S2W Naval Reactor aboard Nautilus was crucial for submarine propulsion because of the reactor’s zero-emission process that consumes no oxygen; was built by Westinghouse Electric Corporation and Bettis Atomic Laboratory. This nuclear propulsion allowed the submarine to remain submerged far longer than diesel-electric submarines.  In World War II, submarines were encouraged to surface every 12 to 36 hours to replenish their oxygen.  After the war the GUPPY (Greater Underwater Propulsion Power) program allowed submarine to stay submerged for over 60 days, but they had to remain within 50 feet of the water’s surface. 

Balao Class Submarine
USS Nautilus
January 17, 1955, Nautilus was put to sea for the first time and sent the message “Underway on nuclear power,” at 11:00 a.m. The commanding officer was Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson.  Then in May, the submarine traveled from New London, Connecticut to San Juan, Puerto Rico.  Nautilus covered 1,381 miles in less than 90 hours.  At this time, this was the longest submerged cruise by a submarine and at the highest sustained speed ever recorded. 

The crew earned the Presidential Unit Citation with “Operation Sunshine” in 1958.  This operation was in response to the USSR’s satellite Sputnik.  President Eisenhower ordered the Navy to attempt a submarine transit of the North Pole to gain credibility for the soon-to-come SLBM (Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile) weapons system, which is capable of being launched from submarines.
“For outstanding achievement in completing the first voyage in history across the top of the world, by cruising under the Arctic cap from the Bering Strait to the Greenland Sea.”


August 3, 1958, Nautilus passed beneath the geographic North Pole under the command of Commander William R. Anderson.  Thanks to the nuclear reactor, Nautilus could travel to locations previously beyond the limits of submarines.

The final voyage of Nautilus was from Groton, Connecticut, to Mare Island Shipyard, Vallejo, California.  May 26, 1979, was the submarine’s last day underway.  After 25 years of service and over half a million miles steamed the submarine was decommissioned on March 3, 1980.  In 1982, Nautilus became a National Historic Landmark.  Today visitors can see Nautilus floating in the Thames River in Groton, Connecticut. 






Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The End of Pearl Harbor Salvage Efforts

"This Day in History"

September 23, 1944

Japan attacked the United States Navy harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941.  The week after the raid a salvage organization was formerly established for one of history’s greatest salvage jobs.  Captain Homer N. Wallin commanded the salvage efforts for over two years.  United States Navy and civilian divers completed about 5,000 dives and spent around 20,000 hours underwater.  The dives focused on recovering human remains, documents, ammunition, and other items from the ships damaged in the harbor. 

Divers standing in front of a decompression chamber.
Pearl Harbor Salvage Operations, official U.S. Navy Photograph.
Due to the attack five battleships, two destroyers, a target ship, and a mine layer were sunk or so severely damaged that they were considered a total loss.    Three ships that never returned to service due to their damage were USS Oklahoma, USS Utah, and USS Arizona.  In 1942, four ships were refloated and placed back into the active fleet to help defeat Japan.  These ships included USS Nevada, USS California, USS Oglala, and USS West Virginia.

USS Oklahoma righted about 30 degrees on March 29, 1943.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph.
USS West Virginia (BB-48) was a battleship present in Pearl Harbor during the December 7, 1941, Japanese attack. The Japanese bombardment hit the battleship with two bombs and several torpedoes, and though she was saved from capsizing, she still sank to the harbor bottom. Her crew was on board, and over a hundred souls were lost. 

"The conduct of the crew and officers was outstanding.  There was no confusion and
every man and officer did his duty as well as he was able under the conditions."

-- Lieutenant Commander T. T. Beattie

She entered the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard for repairs and was modernized at the Puget Sound Navy Yard, emerging in July 1944 fully functional. She rejoined the Pacific Fleet on September 23, 1944. 

USS West Virginia in drydock at Pearl Harbor on June 10, 1942, for repair.  Official U.S. Navy Photograph.

USS Hoga (YT-146), a tug boat, was also present during the Japanese attack of Pearl Harbor. She was able to not only successfully avoid devastating damage, but assisted with rescue and firefighting operations on the battleships that were damaged. She remained in Pearl Harbor after the attacks, assisting with continued debris clean up, salvage efforts, and patrols of the shore. 

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is continuing its efforts in bringing Hoga to the Arkansas River in the near future, where tours will be available. Currently, the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum houses USS Razorback (SS-394) and a museum dedicated to continued education in not only World War II vessels, but different vessels throughout American history. Come down and take a tour and learn something new!

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Friday, September 05, 2014

USS Finback Saves George H. W. Bush

This Week in History

September 2, 1944

On September 2, 1944, Lt (jg) George H. W. Bush was pulled from the Pacific Ocean by USS Finback (SS-230) after bailing out of his VT-51 aircraft.  Bush's mission was to destroy the Japanese radio station on Chichi Jima, which had been intercepting United States military radio transmissions.  After receiving a devastating hit by Japanese anti-aircraft, Bush still managed to destroy the radio station and was successfully picked up four hours later.  Bush returned to the United States after 30 days aboard the submarine.  Later Bush was elected as the 41st President of the United States; an event which may not have occurred unless he was rescued that faithful day.

George H. W. Bush
Like Finback, USS Razorback (SS-394) also picked up friendly pilots during World War II, totaling five airmen.  These missions were referred to as "lifeguard duty."  Razorback was assigned this duty during her fourth war patrol, from May 7th through June 27th of 1944.  While on patrol in the Nanpo Islands and Tokyo Bay area, she rescued LtCol Charles E. Taylor on May 25th and four crewmen from a B-29 Superfortress on June 5th.  Visit www.aimmuseum.org to read Razorback's war patrols.  In total during World War II, 520 airmen were saved by submarines.

Razorback and Finback share their namesake since both are named after a suborder of the baleen whales, commonly known as the fin whale.  These marine mammals are the second largest animal in the world, beautiful and fast, much like the submarines themselves.  The fin whale, besides being known as both the finback and razorback, is also called a common rorqual.

Fin Whale
The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is the permanent home of the submarine Razorback, and while touring her you will hear tales of the life of a sailor and her history.  Razorback accomplished many feats during her time commissioned in the Navy, but it is her World War II history that you will find most astounding.  Stop by and take a tour to learn more about what Razorback, and her fellow submarines, withstood during World War II!

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Submarine Transport Mission

This Day in History

August 27, 1944


World War II submarines were a vital part of the overall goal for the United States Navy.  Making up less than 2 percent of the Navy, they still effectively sank over 30 percent of the Japanese Navy.  Their missions were strategic.  

Graph courtesy of valoratsea.com.

Submarines were instrumental in disrupting the Japanese supply chain, but they were also instrumental in delivering supplies to their allies.  USS Stingray (SS-186) played a part in the guerrilla operations that took place on August 27, 1944.  She took fifteen Filipino personnel and six tons of supplies on the island of Luzon in advance of military personnel landings.  This way only one of dozens of "special transport" missions that would help assist the United States in the war effort.

Photograph courtesy of U.S. Naval Historical Center.
USS Razorback (SS-394) also helped in these missions.  Razorback was launched on January 27, 1944, and was sent on her first patrol on August 25, 1944.  As a member of an offensive group in support of many of these landings on the Philippines, she would stay east of Luzon until mid-September.  While on patrol defending the special transport missions, she would earn one of her many war victories when she sank an 820-ton destroyer.

Submarines during World War II were an effective tool to help assist the Navy.  They would strangle the Japanese economy by effectively sinking over five million tons of supplies.  Though they were a great asset, this came with a heavy cost.  52 submarines were sunk, resulting in 3,506 men dying during World War II.  Their legacies are incorporated in many museums and memorials we see today.  Patrons of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum can visit one of these memorials on location.  USS Snook Memorial is on display to the public to commemorate the submarines that are still on patrol.

Bless those who serve beneath the deep,
Through lonely hours their vigil keep.
May peace their mission ever be,
Protect each one we ask of thee.
Bless those at home who wait and pray,
For their return by night or day.
--Submarine verse of the Navy Hymn

Memorial on site at the Museum.
Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Thursday, August 14, 2014

AIMM Memberships

"Museum Updates"


The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum is happy to announce it's new membership drive.  The museum has a variety of different annual membership levels for individuals, families, and even corporations; there is also a lifetime membership available.

Annual Memberships

Crew – Individual Membership – $30
  • One year unlimited free admission for 1 member during regular business hours
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store for 1 member
Helmsman – Family Membership - $75
  • One year unlimited free admission for a family of 4 during regular business hours
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store for members
Navigator – Supporters Membership – $100
  • One year unlimited free admission for 2 members during regular business hours
  • 2 free admission passes for friends or family to be redeemed during regular business hours
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store for members
Commander – Corporate Membership – $1,000
  • 20% discount to rent the facility for a corporate event
  • 1 private tour of the submarine for up to 30 people by appointment only
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store during a corporate event
  • 20 free admission passes to be redeemed during regular business hours
  • Business acknowledged in the Museum’s newsletter “AIMM Lookout”
  • One year unlimited free admission for 2 members during regular business hours
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store for members

Lifetime Memberships

Admiral – Lifetime Membership – $750
  • Lifetime free admission for 2 members during regular business hours
  • 2 free admission passes annually for friends or family to be redeemed during regular business hours
  • 1 private tour of the submarine including off-limit areas for up to 10 people by appointment only
  • 10% discount in the Museum’s store for members
  • 10% discount for 1 special event hosted at the Museum facility annually
  • USS Razorback or USS Hoga challenge coin
To become a member of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum please contact the museum by phone (501) 371-8320 or email events@aimm.museum.

Thank you for your continued support of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.



Wednesday, August 06, 2014

CSS Hunley: 150th Anniversary of a Successful Submarine Attack

This Year in History

1864

The submarine CSS Horace L. Hunley was built in 1863 by the Confederate States during the Civil War.  Hunley was 39 and a half feet long, weighing seven and a half tons, and was hand-powered by seven crew men turning a hand cranked propeller.  Hunley had many features on it that submarines still use today, such as ballast tanks that could be flooded with water and pumped dry with air, a tapered bow and stern, and diving planes.  Unlike today's submarines, Hunley's only means of attack was its single spar torpedo that had a 90-pound gunpowder warhead that could explode underwater, and might have even had an electric detonator to set it off.

CSS Hunley

Hunley's first, and only, attack was on February 17, 1864, trying to break the blockade at Charleston, South Carolina.  The submarine's attack managed to sink the steam powered USS Housatonic.  However, Hunley did not return from the attack and the blockade remained in place.

Hunley's fate remained a mystery for 131 years until it was discovered in May of 1995, not far from the site of its successful attack.  Hunley was recovered in 2000 and is currently undergoing conservation, further study, and on public display at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center.

CSS Hunley being recovered from Charleston Harbor on August 8, 2000.
Photograph courtesy of Naval Historical Center.
Author: Lyle Grisham
Completed as a student intern through the University of Arkansas at Little Rock History Department.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

50th Anniversary of an All-Nuclear Task Force

"This Day in History"

July 31, 1964

"The Beginning of the Nuclear Surface Navy"

Operation Sea Orbit was a 64 day mission by the United States Navy for Task Force One to orbit the earth without refueling or resupplying.  This task force consisted of the following ships: an attack carrier USS Enterprise (CVAN-65), a guided missile cruiser USS Long Beach (CGN-9), and a guided missile frigate USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25).  This mission covered 30,500 miles with 57 actual steaming days crossing the equator four times.

Photograph of USS Enterprise, USS Long Beach, and USS Bainbridge.
Photograph courtesy of Navsource.org.

The purpose of Operation Sea Orbit, according to Rear Admiral Bernard M. Strean, U.S. Navy Commander, Task Force One, stated simply were:
  • To test the capability of these nuclear powered ships to maintain high speeds for indefinite periods over long distances in all environments of weather, seas, and seasons, without refueling or replenishment of any kind.
  • To demonstrate the mobility, flexibility, and strength of this element of U.S. power for keeping the peace.
  • To show these powerful, modern ships, and aircraft to peoples in remote areas of the world.
  • To familiarize Navy personnel with infrequently visited ocean areas.
  • To provide training and experience designed to improve our staying power at sea, particularly in remote areas.
  • To demonstrate our ability to reinforce or to bring U.S. power quickly to areas far from established bases, and to arrive with that power ready to fight.
  • To enhance the military and political image of the United States.
The motto of the cruise was "Nuclear Power for Peace."  Enterprise hosted "underway" visits from foreign government officials which included briefings and a view of an air fire-power demonstration.  These governments included: Morocco, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Ivory Coast, Kenya, Pakistan, Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Uruguay, and Brazil.  These friends of the United States were able to view first hand the powerful and modern ships and up-to-date weapons and aircraft available to the United States Navy in 1964.

Operation Sea Orbit map courtesy of U.S. Navy All Hands magazine January 1965.

While the ships did not resupply during the cruise the crews did enjoy liberty in Pakistan, Australia, and Brazil.  The Task Force One's complement was 6,057 officers and enlisted men.  These liberties did not have a single incident that involved a U.S. sailor and members of the local populations; which is quite a feat.

Operation Sea Orbit allowed the United States Navy to display its nuclear power force to the world during the Cold War.  The U.S. Navy has not looked back.  The Naval Historical Foundation produced a video to salute the accomplishments and legacy of the 1964 Operation Sea Orbit cruise.  The video was created by J. Mark Huffman at 26th Street Media.  Click here to watch the 6 1/2 minute video.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

SEALAB: Habitats Under the Water

"This Day in History"

July 22, 1964

SEALAB I

On July 22, 1964, SEALAB I submerged with four Navy divers aboard.  SEALAB was an experimental underwater habitat developed by the United States Navy to test the theories of saturated diving and the ability of humans to live and operate at extreme pressures. 

SEALAB I was lowered off the coast of Bermuda to a depth of 192 feet.  It was constructed from two converted floats and held in place with axles from railroad cars.  The four divers were LCDR Robert Thompson, MC; Gunners Mate First Class Lester Anderson, Chief Quartermaster Robert A. Barth, and Chief Hospital Corpsman Sanders Manning. SEALAB I was commanded by Captain George F. Bond, also called "Poppa Topside,” who was key in developing theories about saturation diving. 

Captain Bond and the first aquanauts with SEALAB I in 1964.

The project attempted to evaluate man’s capability for extensive underwater work by carrying out such tasks as: precision bottom charting and mapping; marring biological investigations, structural inspection of the Argus Island tower, and, of equal importance, project SEALAB evaluated the vessel, SEALAB I, so that the engineering data obtained could be used in the design of SEALAB II and, in follow-up experiments scheduled to be carried out subsequently at 300-foot and 600-foot depths.

The mission called for the four divers to stay submerged for three weeks, but the project was stopped only after 11 days due to threat of a tropical storm which posed a danger to the ocean surface support staff.
SEALAB I proved that saturation diving in the open ocean was viable for extended periods. The knowledge gained helped advance the science of deep sea diving and rescue, and contributed to the understanding of the psychological and physiological strains humans can endure.

SEALAB I on display at the Museum of Man in the Sea.

SEALAB I is on display at the Museum of Man in the Sea, in Panama City Beach, Florida, near where it was initially tested offshore before being deployed. It is on outdoor display. Its metal hull is largely intact, though the paint is faded to a brick red.

To learn more about SEALAB I you can visit Naval History Blog. To learn more about life under the sea please visit the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum’s USS Razorback where tour guides explain life underway in a submarine during World War II.

Author: Allison Hiblong

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Port Chicago Disaster

"This Day in History"

July 14, 1944

The Port Chicago Disaster was the largest homeland disaster during World War II.


World War II was in full swing by 1944, and the United States needed to develop an additional munitions facility to help supply the war effort. Port Chicago, north of San Francisco, was created and by the summer of 1944 the port could load two ships at once around the clock – including dangerous cargo. 

Diagram of the Port Chicago loading pier.
These operations were handled mainly by African-American units, many whom were not trained in handling dangerous cargo.

Photograph courtesy of the National Park Service.

On July 17, 1944, the SS Quinault Victory and SS E.A. Bryan were being loaded with 4,600 tons of explosives, including depth charges. In addition, 400 tons of explosives lay nearby on rail cars. Around 10:18 pm, massive explosions destroyed everything in the vicinity, and took the lives of 320 workers who were at or near the pier at the time. The blasts were so extensive, that they were felt as far as away as Nevada and the damage extended up north to San Francisco. Smoke and fire destroyed everything within a two mile radius of Port Chicago.

Remains of the pier.  Photograph courtesy of sf.blueherontours.com.

Of the 320 workers, two-thirds of them were African-American, which contributed to 15% of all African-Americans killed during World War II.  The remaining men were transferred to Mare Island to serve the rest of their enlistment. The Port Chicago disaster stands as a testament to the implementation of safer procedures when handling and loading dangerous cargo, including proper training for individuals handling ammunitions. Though the Port Chicago legacy is tainted with disaster, we can use the example to help further not only regulations and training today, but technology and even civil rights issues.

Photograph courtesy of www.disclose.tv.

USS Razorback was an active war vessel during World War II, capable of holding 24 torpedoes, a Bofors 40 mm and Oerlikon 20 mm cannon and two five-inch 25 caliber deck guns.  Fortunately for the submarine, the crew was well trained in munitions and dangerous cargo. No internal explosions marred the record, but Razorback did carry material that would make civilians question stepping onto the deck.  USS Razorback stands today as an example of daily submarine life and World War II technology and is located at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum in North Little Rock, Arkansas.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd



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Tuesday, July 15, 2014

CSS Arkansas 23 Days of Service

"This Day in History"

July 15, 1862

CSS Arkansas, a Confederate Ironclad ram, was constructed in Memphis, Tennessee, but was incomplete when Union forces were closing in. She was towed down to Yazoo City, Mississippi, where she was completed, on July 15, 1862. 



Her commanding officer, Lt. Isaac Newton Brown CSN, then took her down the Yazoo River, where Arkansas encountered the U.S. gunboats Carondelet and Tyler and the ram Queen of the West, which she left the Carondelet and Tyler badly damaged.

Going from the Yazoo River to the Mississippi River, Arkansas, fought her way through the assembled Union fleet, and came to rest under the protection of the Confederate fortress at Vicksburg. While there, she was attacked by the Queen of the West and ironclad Essex, but was not badly damaged. While still needing repairs, Arkansas steamed down the Mississippi River to assist Confederate forces in an attack on Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

On August 6, 1862, Arkansas suffered a severe machinery breakdown during an engagement with the Essex. After she drifted ashore, she was burnet to prevent capture.

Author: Lyle Grisham
Completed as a student intern through the University of Arkansas at Little Rock History Department.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Memorable Firsts

"This Day in History"

July 10, 1934


It is not uncommon for a President of the United States to achieve many ‘firsts’ while in office. It is just the nature of the job when you are responsible for the execution of federal law, alongside the responsibility of appointing federal executive, diplomatic, regulatory, and judicial officers, and concluding treaties with foreign powers (Wait! There’s more!). Plus the more active the President, the more chances for Presidential firsts. One of the most active Presidents in our history was Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

Roosevelt was the 32nd President of the United States. He served four terms from March 1933 to his death in April 1945. His Presidency dealt with the majority of the Great Depression and World War II. President Roosevelt was the first President to set up the precedent of the first hundred days. He is the only President to serve more than two terms in office (a first and only because it led to the 22nd Amendment, limiting the terms of a President to two.) So it would be logical to assume that his Presidency came across many firsts.

"To reach a port we must set sail. Sail, not tie at anchor.  Sail, not drift." -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

July of 1934 saw three firsts. July 1, 1934, President Roosevelt boarded USS Houston (CA-30), which was a Northampton-class heavy cruiser nicknamed the "Galloping Ghost of the Java Coast" and a personal favorite of Roosevelt. The voyage departed from Annapolis, Maryland, went to the Caribbean, South America, and Hawaii before returning to Portland, Oregon, on August 2, 1934. This month long journey could have been easily accomplished in one day aboard Air Force One today.

USS Houston (CA-30) in Honolulu, Hawaii
The first ‘first’ was July 10, 1934, when Roosevelt became the first United States President to visit South America while in office. Houston docked at Cartagena, Columbia, and entertained President Enrique Olaya Herrara and Mr. Sheldon Whitehouse, United States Minister to Columbia. Afterwards, President Roosevelt went ashore and visited the countryside for a few hours. The President departed Columbia aboard Houston the same day.

President Roosevelt's Schedule on July 10, 1934.
The second ‘first’ was the next day, July 11, 1934, at the Panama Canal. While other Presidents visited the canal, Roosevelt was the first sitting United States President to traverse the canal. Houston began her transit at 10:00am and concluded at 6:00pm. That evening Roosevelt dined with the President of Panama aboard Houston, docked at Balboa, Panama. The cruiser departed the next day.

President Roosevelt in Panama departing USS Houston.
The third ‘first’ was July 24, 1934, when President Roosevelt became the first United States President to visit Hawaii. He visited various locations across the Territory such as Kailua-Kona, Hilo Harbor, Pearl Harbor, and Honolulu. His visit to Hawaii determined the need for greater military presence at the islands because it was America’s primary outpost to the Pacific.

"Happiness lies in the joy of achievement and the thrill of creative effort."  -- Franklin D. Roosevelt

The interesting thing about these ‘firsts’ is that this was done on Roosevelt’s vacation. This was a fishing expedition to Hawaii. What better time than summer to make memorable ‘firsts’. We at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum want you to make memorable vacation ‘firsts’ as well. If you have not visited us and taken a tour aboard USS Razorback (SS-394), then we recommend you to come and have yourself a memorable ‘first.’

Author: John Jones

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Tuesday, July 01, 2014

United States Navy, 100 Years of an Alcohol Free Navy

"This Day in History"

July 1, 1914

In 1794, Congress established the daily ration of alcohol for the United States Navy to be "one half-pint distilled spirits," "or in lieu thereof, one quart of beer."

Fast forward 120 years to July 1, 1914, and all of that changed.  No longer would alcohol be allowed on United States Navy vessels because of Josephus Daniels and General Order 99.

"On July 1, 1914, Article 827, Naval Instructions, will be annulled and in its stead the following will be substituted: 'The use or introduction for drinking purposes of alcoholic liquors on board any naval vessel, or within any navy yard or station, is strictly prohibited, and commanding officers will be held directly responsible for the enforcement of this order.'" --Josephus Daniels, General Order 99

Josephus Daniels was born in Washington, North Carolina, May 18, 1862.  At the age of 18, Daniels bought out a local newspaper, Advance, in Wilson, North Carolina.  "Daniels used his position at the helm of the Advance to address political issues ranging from trade to temperance," said North Carolina Encyclopedia online.  Daniels promoted Woodrow Wilson for the 1912 presidency.  Wilson was victorious and appointed Daniels as Secretary of the Navy in return for his services.  

Josephus Daniels

Josephus Daniels, was Secretary of the Navy from 1913-1927.  Daniels wasted no time enforcing what he felt strongly about.  On June 1, 1914, Daniels issued General Order 99 and the order took effect on July 1, 1914.  Legend has it that the term "Cup of Joe" began because coffee became the strongest drink a sailor could get issued on a United States Naval vessel.

The United States established the prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the country with the 18th Amendment in 1920.  This amendment was repealed in 1933 with the 21st Amendment to the Constitution.  Interestingly enough General Order 99 has never been reversed.  An order set in motion 100 years ago is still in effect today.  A full list of the rules about alcohol in the United States is available here.

Visitors of the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum often ask about alcohol consumption aboard the submarine USS Razorback (SS-394).  We can officially say that the United States Navy has been "bone dry" since 1914.

Author: Ashley Hopper
Completed as a student internship through the University of Central Arkansas in the History Department.

Friday, June 20, 2014

"Attack By Japan Would Be Made Without Previous Declaration of War"--Admiral Frank Upham

"This Day in History"

June 20, 1934

Admiral Frank Upham started his Naval career serving with the Pacific Squadron after graduating from the United States Naval Academy in 1893.  Commissioned as an Ensign, Upham spent his time in the Far East, eventually working his way up the ranks to Captain.  He commanded the cruisers USS Columbia and USS Pueblo during World War I and earned a Navy Cross.  In 1933, Upham returned to the Far East as a Fleet Admiral, Commander in Chief of the Asiatic Fleet, where he gave his testimony to the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) on the Japanese.

Photograph courtesy of United States Navy.

During Upham's report to the CNO on June 20, 1934, he said that "based on analyses of Japanese radio traffic, any attack by Japan would be made without previous declaration of war or international warning."  This ominous prediction came to reality on December 7, 1941, when the Japanese attacked the base on Pearl Harbor and officially brought the United States into World War II.  Admiral Upham passed away before this event, but his words and predictions live on in history.

USS Razorback saw action during the end of World War II, but without the United States declaration and involvement in this war, the submarine may never have been built.  The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum, where the submarine is based, has a wide historical view on many different wars throughout the history of the United States, but none more awe inspiring than touring an authentic World War II submarine.  Admiral Upham may have tried to war the United States about an impending Japanese threat, but Razorback was able to successfully sail into Japanese waters in 1944 to 1945 and help to defeat this enemy.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

160th Anniversary of Naval Academy Graduation Services

"This Day in History"

June 10, 1884

US Naval Academy Class of 1894

“To develop Midshipmen morally, mentally and physically and to imbue them with the highest ideals of duty, honor and loyalty in order to graduate leaders who are dedicated to a career of naval service and have potential for future development in mind and character to assume the highest responsibilities of command, citizenship and government.” –U.S. Naval Academy Mission

The Naval School was founded in 1845 by Secretary of the Navy George Bancroft in Annapolis, Maryland.  In 1850, the Naval School became the United States Naval Academy.  A new curriculum accompanied the name change, which included 4 years of study at the Academy and summers spent training aboard ships.  Six men completed this new curriculum and received the first formal graduation exercises at the Academy on June 10, 1854.

US Naval Academy in 1853 

USS Arkansas (BB-33) was one of the ships used for the Midshipmen Summer Training Cruises from 1935 to 1938.  The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum holds a collection about these cruises.  The collection was donated by James Clifford Wilkins from Lamar, Arkansas, who served aboard the battleship during the 1930's.  These cruises on Arkansas included trips on the United States Eastern Seaboard and European excursions.

USS Arkansas newsletter from 1935.

The curriculum style that was created in 1850 is still the basis of the Naval Academy today.  The format does include far more advanced and sophisticated curriculum today.  Two other changes have taken place for graduates in the Academy since 1854.  In 1884, Congress authorized commissioning of Naval Academy graduates as Ensigns, and in 1933, Congress authorized awarding a Bachelor of Science degree to graduates of the Academy.

The school that began with 10 aces and 50 students has grown to 338 acres and a student body size of 4,000.

Author: Allison Hiblong

Friday, June 06, 2014

70th Anniversary of the Largest Amphibious Landing in History

"This Day In History"


June 6, 1944

In the military, the term D-Day is the day that a combat attack or operation is initiated.  The best known D-Day is June 6, 1944, which was the day that the Allied forces invaded Normandy, France.  Many historians look to this day as the turning point of World War II against Nazi Germany.  The invasion of Normandy was a two part operation.  Operation Neptune was the landing operation and Operation Overlord was the invasion of Normandy.

"This operation is not being planned with any alternatives.  This operation is planned as a victory, and that's the way it's going to be.  We're going down there, and we're throwing everything we have into it, and we're going to make it a success."
--General Dwight D. Eisenhower

Operation Neptune had over 6,000 naval vessels that sailed to Normandy, France from Great Britain.  One German officer marveled at the sight of the approaching armada, “It’s impossible …there can’t be that many ships in the world.” USS Arkansas (BB-33) was among the naval vessels that conducted Operation Neptune. 

The preparation for Arkansas’s role in the European invasion began in April of 1944.  On April 18, she set sail for Bangor, Ireland and upon arrival, began training for the shore bombardment role she was to play during the invasion.  On May 19, Arkansas, along with the other battleships in her task force, USS Nevada and USS Texas, were inspected by General Dwight D. Eisenhower and deemed ready for action.

The three ships put to sea for Normandy on June 3, 1944.  In the pre-dawn darkness of June 6th, USS Arkansas took up position and dropped anchor 4,000 yards off Normandy's “Omaha” beach.  She was tasked with supporting the 1st Infantry Division.  At 0530 the surface around battleship Arkansas began erupting with near misses from four 150mm guns located at Longues sur Mer, south and east of Arkansas’s position.  At 0537, Arkansas was bracketed by shellfire from a German battery located at Port-en-Bessin, almost due south of her position.

Crew members of USS Arkansas stand atop one of the battleship's 12 inch gun turrets on June 6, 1944.

At 0552, June 6, 1944, Arkansas’s Captain gave the order to return fire.  For the first time in her career, Arkansas fired her guns in anger.  She, along with British and French warships began firing on the gun battery at Longues sur Mer.  Arkansas destroyed a German radar station and machine gun positions in the area.  She also targeted the battery located at Port-en-Bessin, expending 20 rounds from her main 12 inch batteries and 110 rounds of 5 inch ammunition.  When the battery had been silenced, she shifted her fire to the landing beach, as well as to targets farther inland.  All told, Arkansas would fire some 350, 12 inch shells at German positions during the day of June 6, 1944.