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Old 12-19-2011, 07:33 AM
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A BIT OF NAVAL HISTORY...


<SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL>< SMALL>....THAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW</SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL><SMALL>< SMALL>.</SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL></SMALL>




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(Sent to me via email, authenticity is not gauranteed.)





From November 1943, until her demise in June 1945, the American destroyer 'William D. Porter' was often hailed - whenever she entered port or joined other Naval ships - with the greetings: "Don't shoot, we're Republicans!'



For a half a century, the US Navy kept a lid on the details of the incident that prompted this salutation. A Miami news reporter made the first public disclosure in 1958 after he stumbled upon the truth while covering a reunion of the destroyer's crew. The Pentagon reluctantly and tersely confirmed his story, but only a smattering of newspapers took notice.



In 1943, the Willie D as the Porter was nicknamed, accidentally fired a live torpedo at the battleship Iowa during a practice exercise. As if this weren't bad enough, the Iowa was carrying President Franklin D. Roosevelt at the time, along with Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, and all of the country's W.W.II military brass. They were headed for the Big Three Conference in Tehran , where Roosevelt was to meet Stalin and Churchill. Had the Porter's torpedo struck the Iowa at the aiming point,the last 60 years of world history might have been quite different.



The USS William D Porter (DD-579) was one of hundreds of assembly line destroyers built during the war. They mounted several heavy and light guns, but their main armament consisted of 10 fast-running and accurate torpedoes that carried 500-pound warheads. This destroyer was placed in commission on July 1943 under the command of Wilfred Walker, a man on the Navy's fast career track.



In the months before she was detailed to accompany the Iowa across the Atlantic in November 1943, the Porter and her crew learned their trade,experiencing the normal problems that always beset a new ship and a novice crew.



The mishaps grew more serious when she became an escort for the pride of the fleet, the big new battleship Iowa .



The night before they left Norfolk, bound for North Africa, the Porter accidentally damaged a nearby sister ship when she backed down along the other ship's side and her anchor tore down the other ship's railings, life rafts, ship's boat and various other formerly valuable pieces of equipment. The Willie D merely had a scraped anchor, but her career of mayhem and mishaps had begun.



Just twenty four hours later, the four-ship convoy, consisting of Iowa and her secret passengers, the Willie D, and two other destroyers, was under strict instructions to maintain complete radio silence. Since they were going through a known U-boat feeding ground, speed and silence were the best defense.



Suddenly, a tremendous explosion rocked the convoy. All of the ships commenced anti-submarine maneuvers. This continued until the Porter sheepishly admitted that one of her depth charges had fallen off her stern and exploded. The 'safety' had not been set as instructed.



Captain Walker was watching his fast track career become side-tracked.



Shortly thereafter, a freak wave inundated the ship, stripping away everything that wasn't lashed down. A man washed overboard and was never found.



Next, the fire room lost power in one of its boilers.



The Captain, at this point, was making reports almost hourly to the Iowa about the Willie D's difficulties. It would have been merciful if the force commander had detached the hard luck ship and sent her back to Norfolk . But, no, she sailed on.



The morning of 14 November 1943 dawned with a moderate sea and pleasant weather. The Iowa and her escorts were just east of Bermuda , and the president and his guests wanted to see how the big ship could defend herself against an air attack. So, the Iowa launched a number of weather balloons to use as anti-aircraft targets. It was exciting to see more than 100 guns shooting at the balloons, and the President was proud of his Navy.



Just as proud was Admiral Ernest J King, the Chief of Naval Operations; large in size and by demeanor, a true monarch of the sea.



Disagreeing with him meant the end of a naval career. Up to this time, no one knew what firing a torpedo at him would mean.



Over on the Willie D, Captain Walker watched the fireworks display with admiration and envy.



Thinking about career redemption and breaking the hard luck spell, the Captain sent his impatient crew to battle stations.



They began to shoot down the balloons the Iowa had missed as they drifted into the Porter's vicinity.



Down on the torpedo mounts, the crew watched, waiting to take some practice shots of their own on the big battleship, which, even though 6,000 yards away, seemed to blot out the horizon. Lawton Dawson and Tony Fazio were among those responsible for the torpedoes. Part of their job involved ensuring that the primers were installed during actual combat and removed during practice. Once a primer was installed, on a command to fire, it would explode shooting the torpedo out of its tube.



Dawson , on this particular morning, unfortunately had forgotten to remove the primer from torpedo tube #3. Up on the bridge, a new torpedo officer, unaware of the danger, ordered a simulated firing. "Fire 1, Fire 2," and finally, "Fire 3." There was no Fire 4 as the sequence was interrupted by an unmistakable whooooooshhhhing sound made by a successfully launched and armed torpedo. Lt H. Steward Lewis, who witnessed the entire event, later described the next few minutes as what hell would look like if it ever broke loose.



Just after he saw the torpedo hit water on its way to the Iowa and some of the most prominent figures in world history, Lewis innocently asked the Captain, 'Did you give permission to fire a torpedo?' Captain Walker's reply will not ring down through naval history... although words to the effect of Farragut's immortal 'Damn the torpedoes' figured centrally within.



Initially there was some reluctance to admit what had happened, or even to warn the Iowa . As the awful reality sunk in, people began racing around, shouting conflicting instructions and attempting to warn the flagship of imminent danger.



First, there was a flashing light warning about the torpedo which unfortunately indicated the torpedo was headed in another direction.



Next, the Porter signaled that the torpedo was going reverse at full speed!



Finally, they decided to break the strictly enforced radio silence.



The radio operator on the destroyer transmitted "'Lion (code for the Iowa ), Lion, come right." The Iowa operator, more concerned about radio procedure, requested that the offending station identify itself first.



Finally, the message was received and the Iowa began turning to avoid the speeding torpedo.



Meanwhile, on the Iowa 's bridge, word of the torpedo firing had reached FDR, who asked that his wheelchair be moved to the railing so he could see better what was coming his way.. His loyal Secret Service guard immediately drew his pistol as if he was going to shoot the torpedo. As the Iowa began evasive maneuvers, all of her guns were trained on the William D. Porter. There was now some thought that the Porter was part of an assassination plot.



Within moments of the warning, there was a tremendous explosion just behind the battleship. The torpedo had been detonated by the wash kicked up by the battleship's increased speed.



The crisis was over and so was Captain Walker's career. His final utterance to the Iowa , in response to a question about the origin of the torpedo, was a weak, "We did it."



Shortly thereafter, the brand new destroyer, her Captain and the entire crew were placed under arrest and sent to Bermuda for trial. It was the first time that a complete ship's company had been arrested in the history of the US Navy.



The ship was surrounded by Marines when it docked in Bermuda , and held there several days as the closed session inquiry attempted to determine what had happened.



Torpedoman Dawson eventually confessed to having inadvertently left the primer in the torpedo tube, which caused the launching.



Dawson had thrown the used primer over the side to conceal his mistake.



The whole incident was chalked up to an unfortunate set of circumstances and placed under a cloak of secrecy.



Someone had to be punished. Captain Walker and several other Porter officers and sailors eventually found themselves in obscure shore assignments. Dawson was sentenced to 14 years hard labor.



President Roosevelt intervened; however, asking that no punishment be meted out for what was clearly an accident.



The destroyer William D. Porter was banished to the upper Aleutians . It was probably thought this was as safe a place as any for the ship and anyone who came near her.



She remained in the frozen north for almost a year, until late 1944, when she was re-assigned to the Western Pacific.



However,before leaving the Aleutians , she accidentally left her calling card in the form of a five-inch shell fired into the front yard of the American Base Commander, thus rearranging his flower garden rather suddenly.



In December, 1944, the Porter joined the Philippine invasion forces and acquitted herself quite well. She distinguished herself by shooting down a number of attacking Japanese aircraft. Regrettably, after the war, it was reported that she also shot down three American planes. This was a common event on ships, as many gunners, fearful of kamikazes, had nervous trigger fingers.



In April, 1945, the destroyer Porter was assigned to support the invasion of Okinawa . By this time, the greeting "Don't Shoot, We're Republicans" was commonplace and the crew of the Willie D had become used to the ribbing.



But the crew of her sister ship, the USS Luce, was not so polite in its salutations after the Porter accidentally riddled her side and superstructure with gunfire.



On 10 June, 1945, the Porter's hard luck finally ran out. She was sunk by a plane which had (unintentionally)attacked it from underwater.



A Japanese bomber made almost entirely of wood and canvas slipped through the Navy's defense.



Having little in the way of metal surfaces, the plane didn't register on radar. A fully loaded kamikaze, it was headed for a ship near the Porter, but just at the last moment veered away and crashed along side the unlucky destroyer. There was a sigh of relief as the plane sunk out of sight, but then it blew up underneath the Porter, opening her hull in the worst possible place.



Three hours later, after the last man was off board, the Captain jumped to the safety of a rescue vessel and the ship that almost changed world history slipped astern into 2,400 feet of water.



Not a single soul was lost in the sinking. After everything else that happened, it was almost as if the ship decided to let her crew off at the end.



Kit Bonner, Naval Historian





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Old 12-19-2011, 05:59 PM
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profile.php?id=100000919328414 @TRUMBATURE Robert Trumbature FORD-MANIAC
That is an awesome eerie story, thanks for sharing
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Old 12-19-2011, 06:47 PM
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Very cool Stu, thanks buddy and Merry Christmas.
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:14 PM
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Hell of a story, some vessels are simply cursed (I had one much smaller and her sinking in the gulf was her final blessing).
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Old 12-19-2011, 07:23 PM
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Great story, and reminds me of some of the days I've had recently.
I'm guessing that it is entirely true, based on a lot of other military stories I've heard. Wow, what a story.
And I tip my glass to all of the brave men and women that serve. Our freedom exists because of their sacrifice.

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Old 12-19-2011, 08:04 PM
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Wonder if the story is true? Where's Dutch, or maybe Bill? Maybe he's heard of this.
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Old 12-19-2011, 08:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by F350-6 View Post
Wonder if the story is true? Where's Dutch, or maybe Bill? Maybe he's heard of this.
Story is confirmed by History.net

USS William D. Porter: The U.S. Navy Destroyer's Service in World War II
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Old 12-19-2011, 11:32 PM
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Great story! Thanks and merry Christmas
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Old 12-20-2011, 04:07 AM
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While I'm familar with the USS William D. Porter (DD-579), this is the first time I became aware of her being a "Jonah."

There are two photographs in "Battle Report - Volume V - Victory in the Pacific" of the USS William D. Porter sinking.

The first photo shows her heeling over to starboard, sinking by the stern. The second photo shows about 50' of her bow pointing skyward, just before she sank.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
September 2011: The US Navy donated the battleship USS Iowa (BB-61) to the Pacific Battleship Center, a privately funded concern based here in Los Angeles.

The USS Iowa had been anchored with other mothballed ships in the reserve fleet in Suisun Bay. Over the past several years, cities in CA have wanted the USS Iowa for a museum ship.

Meanwhile, left wing 'do-gooder' politicians want all these ships removed, because they claim that flakes of lead paint are polluting both Suisun & San Francisco Bays.

Originally, San Francisco won out, but the same 'do-gooder' politicians nixed her being berthed there.

The city of Stockton wanted the ship, but couldn't raise the money. The city of Vallejo wanted to move the ship to the former USN base at Mare Island.

Vallejo lost out, Los Angeles won. The USS Iowa was recently towed from Suisun Bay to Richmond for some repairs, then in March 2012 will be towed to the Port of Los Angeles.

All four Iowa Class Battleships are now extant as museum ships. USS New Jersey (BB-62): Camden NJ .. USS Missouri (BB-63): Pearl Harbor .. USS Wisconsin (BB-64): Hampton Roads VA

Four other US battleships are museum ships. USS Texas (BB-35), the only battleship to serve in two World Wars: San Jacinto TX .. USS North Carolina (BB-55): Wilmington NC

USS Massachusetts (BB-59): Fall River MA .. USS Alabama (BB-60): Mobile Bay AL

While not classified as a museum ship, the most famous of all USN battleships: USS Arizona (BB-39) Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

The only other extant (afloat) battleship: HIJMS Mikasa, Admiral Togo's flagship at the battle of Tsushima Straits (Russo-Japanese War), is preserved in Yokohama Bay.
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Old 12-20-2011, 06:09 AM
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Thanks for that additional bit of history, Bill! Sometimes it's a blessing to have a numbers guy around!
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Old 01-11-2012, 05:44 PM
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A book I have had for a while (BULL HALSEY biography by Cdr E.B.Potter (naval institute press) has turned out to be a fascinating read on a lot of that.
~I used to be a member of the Military Book Club. Screw it, fire me if you want... (He statezzz, acidly)

The accounts and bio's of the commanders are one heck of an insight into how that theater was actually percieved and prosecuted...


*It reads like a drama. You get a full impression of "THE MAN" during his times


FOR ALL OF YOU (and so that you can keep your stuff straight) there is a Naval Institute Press that you can get books from:
Naval Institute Press
Annapolis, MD
21402

*It was noted in the fly-leaf
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Old 01-11-2012, 09:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NumberDummy View Post
While I'm familar with the USS William D. Porter (DD-579), this is the first time I became aware of her being a "Jonah."

There are two photographs in "Battle Report - Volume V - Victory in the Pacific" of the USS William D. Porter sinking.

The first photo shows her heeling over to starboard, sinking by the stern. The second photo shows about 50' of her bow pointing skyward, just before she sank.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
September 2011: The US Navy donated the battleship USS Iowa (BB-61) to the Pacific Battleship Center, a privately funded concern based here in Los Angeles.

The USS Iowa had been anchored with other mothballed ships in the reserve fleet in Suisun Bay. Over the past several years, cities in CA have wanted the USS Iowa for a museum ship.

Meanwhile, left wing 'do-gooder' politicians want all these ships removed, because they claim that flakes of lead paint are polluting both Suisun & San Francisco Bays.

Originally, San Francisco won out, but the same 'do-gooder' politicians nixed her being berthed there.

The city of Stockton wanted the ship, but couldn't raise the money. The city of Vallejo wanted to move the ship to the former USN base at Mare Island.

Vallejo lost out, Los Angeles won. The USS Iowa was recently towed from Suisun Bay to Richmond for some repairs, then in March 2012 will be towed to the Port of Los Angeles.

All four Iowa Class Battleships are now extant as museum ships. USS New Jersey (BB-62): Camden NJ .. USS Missouri (BB-63): Pearl Harbor .. USS Wisconsin (BB-64): Hampton Roads VA

Four other US battleships are museum ships. USS Texas (BB-35), the only battleship to serve in two World Wars: San Jacinto TX .. USS North Carolina (BB-55): Wilmington NC

USS Massachusetts (BB-59): Fall River MA .. USS Alabama (BB-60): Mobile Bay AL

While not classified as a museum ship, the most famous of all USN battleships: USS Arizona (BB-39) Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

The only other extant (afloat) battleship: HIJMS Mikasa, Admiral Togo's flagship at the battle of Tsushima Straits (Russo-Japanese War), is preserved in Yokohama Bay.

USS Alabama (BB-60), a South Dakota-class battleship, was the sixth completed ship of the United States Navy named for the U.S. state of Alabama, however she was only the third commissioned ship with that name. Alabama was commissioned in 1942 and served in World War II in the Atlantic and Pacific theaters. She was decommissioned in 1947 and assigned to the reserve duty. She was retired in 1962. In 1964, Alabama was taken to Mobile Bay and opened as a museum ship the following year. The ship was added to the National Historic Landmark registry in 1986.

Just a little over an hour from me.
It's an awesome thing to encounter

USS ALABAMA BATTLESHIP


The newest USS ALABAMA SSBN 731

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 01-11-2012, 10:07 PM
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The USS Oriskany CVA-34.

USS Oriskany (CV-34) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

My father served on board this ship during the Vietnam conflict. According to him the ship just floated off the coast for a few days then went on to Japan where they docked next to the Enterprise. The Enterprise made the Oriskany look like a toy boat - Dad told me once how they stood on the flight deck of the O and looked up at the deck of the Enterprise with awe... Dad was discharged from the Navy prior to the massive onboard fire on the ship which killed 44 men...

The Oriskany was sunk in 2006 off the coast of Pensacola, Florida to make the worlds largest man-made artificial reef.

USS Oriskany sinking - YouTube
USS Oriskany Aircraft Carrier Sinking - YouTube
Intro to documentary "Sinking an Aircraft Carrier" - YouTube

My dad, who is a NAUI-certified diver has been wanting to visit the old ship again and dive through it - just to see what it looks like now after all these years...

Diving the USS Oriskany Engine Room - YouTube
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