Saturday, November 29, 2014

USS Archerfish sinks Japanese Aircraft Carrier

"This Day in History"

November 28, 1944

Don Diess, a World War II submariner, recalls the evening of November 28, 1944, aboard USS Archerfish (SS-311) vividly.  "'FIRE ONE' came the call from the conning tower.  Then the whole sub bucked."  Diess then explained eight seconds later, the call came again.  The crew aboard Archerfish did not realize they were firing at, and would eventually sink, one of the largest Japanese aircraft carriers ever built.

Japanese Aircraft Carrier Shinano

The evening of November 28, 1944, Archerfish spotted what they believed to be an aircraft carrier leaving Tokyo Bay, Japan.  Archerfish was assigned to lifeguard duty, but immediately went on high alert when the aircraft carrier was spotted.  Diess explained, "I was with 10 other guys in the forward torpedo room waiting the next order.... Then every eight seconds we fired another torpedo until all six forward tubes were empty."

USS Archerfish, Photograph courtesy of the United States Navy.
What Archerfish sank was "arguably the first true 'super-carrier' ever built." The Japanese aircraft carrier, Shinano, had a standard displacement of about 59,900 tons.  Although this was an amazing feat from the crew of Archerfish, luck may have played a big part.  Shinano was not fully operational yet and was traveling through Tokyo Bay for sea trials.  Once Archerfish attacked, the partially trained crew of Shinano could not contain the flooding.  Interestingly enough too, the United States Navy did not recognize the kill because they had no idea the carrier existed.

The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum has the submarine USS Razorback (SS-394) on display.  The submarine also served during World War II with a decorated battle flag.  Razorback's record is five rescued aviators, 16 Japanese merchant ships, and two Japanese destroyers.  While Archerfish is not available for tours, visitors who tour Razorback learn the lifestyle aboard any submarine during World War II.

Author: Ashley Hopper
Editor: Allison Hiblong

Monday, November 17, 2014

90th Anniversary of the First Aircraft Carrier Reporting for Duty

"This Day in History"

November 17, 1924

Traditionally, an aircraft carrier is the capital ship of a navy, meaning that she possesses the heaviest firepower and armor and is the leading ship in the fleet.  Aircraft carriers are used to deploy aircraft, and can be categorized based on the distinct types of aviation they carry, or their operational assignments. Originally, they were wooden vessels that were converted from different ship types such as cruisers, cargo ships, or even battleships. Today, they are nuclear-powered and can carry dozens of aircraft, ranging from fighter jets to helicopters.

Photograph courtesy of Naval History and Heritage.

USS Langley started her early life as USS Jupiter, a Collier whose keel was laid on October 18, 1911, and who was the first vessel to transit the Panama Canal from west to east.  Jupiter served during the Veracruz crisis in 1914, and after her transit through the canal, arrived in the Naval Yard in Norfolk, Virginia, to start her conversion to an aircraft carrier. As the United States Navy’s first aircraft carrier, Langley’s mission was to conduct experiments for the new discovery of seaborne aviation. Named after Samuel Pierport Langley, the first American astronomer, physicist, aeronautics pioneer and aircraft engineer, she was commissioned on March 20, 1922, with Cmdr. Kenneth Whiting in command.  By October 17th of that same year, Lieut. V.C. Griffin made the first take off from Langley in a Vought VE-7SF, while she was anchored in the York River, Virginia. After additional testing over a two year period, Langley reported for duty with the Pacific Battle Fleet on November 17, 1924, becoming the first operational aircraft carrier in the United States Navy.  

Photograph courtesy of the U.S. Navy and the National Archives.

When the United States entered World War II, aircraft carriers became an essential component of the Navy. They were used to provide air support for both convoys and amphibious invasions, and further refinement would eventually lead to several different designs. Small escort carriers were used as a stop-gap measure, while light aircraft carriers were used as a more militarized version of her predecessor.  With the freedom to move around in the oceans, an aircraft carrier is a large, roaming, military base.

Like Langley, USS Razorback served during World War II.  Unlike Langley, Razorback was a submarine.  Submarines were escorts for aircraft carriers, and though they spent the majority of their time on the surface of the water, they were effective enough to sink over thirty percent of the Japanese Navy.  Since that time, Razorback has gone through a few upgrades, which changed her entire appearance and operation.  Stop by the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum for a tour to learn her history and how she assisted the Navy's war efforts during World War II.

Author: Nicolette Lloyd

Thursday, November 13, 2014

World Pancreatic Cancer Day

November 13, 2014

Today marks the first annual World Pancreatic Cancer Day.  Pancreatic Cancer is the seventh biggest cancer killer in the world, yet many people do not know about this particular cancer.  The initiative is lead by an international group of patient organizations, including Pancreatic Cancer Action.

The survival rate of patients with pancreatic cancer is between three and six percent.  Currently, over 80% of pancreatic cancer patients are diagnosed too late which results to a terminal diagnosis.  Most patients die between four to six months after their diagnosis.  The point of today is to create awareness and understanding about this disease.  Knowing more about this cancer will allow the general public, medical community, and government entities to invest interest and money into curing this disease.  The only potential for a cure at this time is to diagnose the cancer in time for surgery.  

A list of the first noticeable symptoms from the Pancreatic Cancer Action organization.
This disease is very close to the hearts of staff and volunteers at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum and the crew members of the submarine USS Razorback (SS-394).  Allen Shane Foraker was a crew member of Razorback and an active member in the USS Razorback Association.  In March of 2013, Shane was diagnosed with stage 4 pancreatic cancer; after an 11-month battle he passed away at 71 years old on February 17, 2014.

Shane served in the United States Navy starting in the early 1960's.  He qualified into the submarine service while aboard Razorback.  Shane progressed to the rank of Commander in the early 1970's and finally retired from the Navy in 1989.  

Shane and Ron at the 2013 Razorback work party.
In April of 2013, Shane was able to attend the annual Razorback work party.  During that week he slept on the submarine and worked on the number 1 engine.  At the end of the week Shane was present when the engine started for the first time since 2001.  The video below is of the engine start courtesy of Jim Gates.

Shane was survived by his wife of 50 years, their three children, seven grandchildren, and other extended family members, as well as many crew members from his submarine service.

Shane guiding his granddaughters through the submarine.
The Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum would like to remember Shane today.  We hope that an annual day dedicated to pancreatic cancer will bring awareness to the disease and help find a way for treatment and a cure for those patients fighting the good fight.

Author: Allison Hiblong

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Veterans Day

"This Day in History"

November 11, 1954

The first Veterans Day was celebrated 60 years ago today.  On May 26, 1954 a bill was signed in Congress to create Veterans Day.

"In order to insure proper and widespread observance of this anniversary, all veterans, all veterans' organizations, and the entire citizenry will wish to join hands in the common purpose." -- President Eisenhower, "Veterans Day Proclamation"

Veterans Day replaced the United States' holiday of Armistice Day.  The original holiday was to honor service men who died while serving in World War I.  The holiday was observed on November 11th at 11:00 a.m. because World War I ended on that day at that time in 1918.

In 1945, after the end of World War II, Raymond Weeks from Alabama suggested that Armistice Day should be expanded to celebrate all service men.  The first national celebration was lead by Weeks and held in Alabama in 1947.  United States Representative Ed Rees from Kansas, presented the bill to Congress that established Veterans Day.

Ceremony at the Snook Memorial.

Today many Veterans' organizations host ceremonies honoring all veterans.  The USSVI USS Razorback Base host a ceremony annually at the Arkansas Inland Maritime Museum.  This year the event was hosted primarily inside, due to the weather, but the base members did complete a traditional wreath laying ceremony off of the deck of the submarine USS Razorback and placed a wreath at the USS Snook Memorial.

Wreath Laying Ceremony

Author: Allison Hiblong