WWII warships as “floating White Houses”

In August 1945, the USA’s two atomic bombs hastened the end of WWII. Four years later the USSR tested its own atomic bomb. As the American military adjusted to the new reality, many new concepts came about. Some were tried, successful, and retained. Others were just tried.

NECPA (National Emergency Command Post Afloat) was a concept to use two WWII warships as a refuge for the President during times of great tension, either prior to a nuclear war with the USSR or as one was already starting.

nhlate(USS Northampton (CC-1), an unfinished WWII cruiser, was one of the NECPA ships.)

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(USS Wright (CC-2), formerly a WWII aircraft carrier, was the other NECPA ship.)Read More »

sunset of naval netlaying after WWII

Some changes to the US Navy after WWII were both readily apparent and abrupt. The carrier-based warplane replaced battleship gunnery as the most potent offense at sea. Smokescreen-laying, an important art for destroyer captains in 1939, was more or less moot ten years later due to the near-universal fitting of radar on warships. And so on.

The decline of naval defensive nets after WWII was neither fast, nor with a simple explanation. In the US Navy the discipline sort of just quietly went away, slowly, over a period of about 15 – 20 years…yet, the decline was unmistakable even as soon as WWII’s end in 1945.

Little is said as to how or why naval nets vanished, or what happened to the US Navy’s many net warfare ships after WWII. So perhaps this will be of value.

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(USS Pinon (AN-66) hauls in a German anti-submarine net at Cherbourg, France following the city’s liberation during WWII.)

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(An inert Polaris ballistic missile being launched in 1963 from a buoyant test cylinder tended by USS Butternut (AN-9), a WWII veteran net ship.)

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(The Dominican Republic navy’s SeparaciĆ³n, which had been USS Passaconaway (AN-86) during WWII, during the 1990s.)

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USS Midway: retrieval of land-based South Vietnamese warplanes 1975

The fall of Saigon in 1975, and along with it the fall of South Vietnam and final end of the Vietnam War, is most remembered in the United States for the dramatic helicopter evacuation of the American embassy.

Less known is the final chapter to the “Frequent Wind” story: how the aircraft carrier USS Midway, built to fight the Imperial Japanese Navy during WWII, ended up retrieving the remnants of the defunct VNAF (South Vietnamese air force) during the summer of 1975.

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(USS Midway (CV-41) at the end of WWII, prior to commissioning.)

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(USS Midway with US Air Force helicopters staged prior to the start of “Frequent Wind” in 1975.)

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(A most unusual scene as the flight deck of USS Midway is filled with land-based warplanes of the defunct South Vietnamese air force.)

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Wu Chin III: Taiwan’s remarkable rebuilt WWII destroyers

Some warships which survived WWII were given updates during the late 1940s or 1950s, for the most part modest changes to keep them current a while longer. In terms of being the most dramatically altered, a few examples stand out including the two WWII Baltimore class gun cruisers transformed into the US Navy’s first guided missile cruisers; USS Boston (CAG-1) and USS Canberra (CAG-2).

Of all WWII warships later rebuilt, Taiwan’s Wu Chin III modifications to Gearing class destroyers may be the most amazing. Unlike the cruisers above, the Taiwanese were packing more technology into smaller hulls; they did not have the Pentagon’s budget to play with; and most amazingly this was done not just years after WWII ended, but almost a half-century later.

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(The Gearing class destroyer USS Power (DD-839) at the end of WWII.)

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(The Wu Chin III-rebuilt destroyer ROCS Shen Yang – the former USS Power of WWII – in the 21st century.)

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merry Christmas 2020

I would like to extend Christmas greetings to all readers of wwiiafterwwii.

Below is the 1953 Christmas mess deck menu cover from USS Lake Champlain (CV-39), a WWII Essex class aircraft carrier. This was the ninth Christmas after Japan’s surrender and WWII’s end, and the first since the end of the Korean War.

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WWII equipment in Soviet nuclear tests: part 2

(part 2 of a 2-part series)

The “Snezhok” test (described in part 1) illustrated the effects of an atomic bomb on land and air systems of WWII vintage and the first generation of Cold War gear. A year later, a naval nuclear test involved WWII-era warships.

The Soviet Union’s 21 September 1955 nuclear test at Novaya Zemlya is sometimes compared to the USA’s 1946 “Crossroads Bravo” test at Bikini. There were similarities (both were the first underwater nuclear detonation by the respective countries) but also many differences.

Novaya Zemlya is a large island (it is actually two islands, split by a narrow channel) in the Russian arctic. It is cold, barren, and uninhabited.

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(Novaya Zemlya with the naval test site marked in red.)

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USS Albemarle / USNS Corpus Christi Bay

WWII-era seaplane tenders were on their way out of the US Navy by the time of the Vietnam War. However one, USS Albemarle, would have a second life as a US Army floating repair base during that conflict.

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(Launching of the WWII US Navy seaplane tender USS Albemarle.) (Associated Press photo)

Charleston(The ex-USS Albemarle being converted into USNS Corpus Christi Bay (T-ARVH-1) at Charleston Naval Shipyard.)

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(USNS Corpus Christi Bay during the Vietnam War.) (photo by Bob Brandt)

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Last voyage of ARA Santa Fe 1982

The naval side of the 1982 Falklands War is most remembered for the sinking of the cruiser ARA General Belgrano, the Exocet missile, and the first combat uses of atomic-powered submarines and V/STOL fighter planes. One less-studied episode was the final use of a WWII submarine in combat.

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(The launch of USS Catfish (SS-339) at Groton, CT during WWII.)

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(The wrecked ARA Santa Fe – the former USS Catfish – after the 1982 Falklands War.)

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the last Liberators

Alongside the B-17 Flying Fortress, the B-24 Liberator was one of the main American bomber types of WWII pending arrival of the B-29 to the Pacific theatre. Despite the huge number built, they disappeared with amazing quickness from the postwar American military, serving on only in China and India.

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(The EZB-24 test plane which was the very last Liberator in the US Air Force.)

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(Indian B-24 Liberator bomber.)

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(Taiwanese B-24 Liberator bomber.)

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WWII warships still in Myanmar’s navy

The navy of Myanmar (formerly Burma) is not well studied and prior to the mid-2000s, did not really amount to much. Three warships from WWII served on for decades in the Burmese navy and as of 2020, two still were.

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(UMS Yan Gyi Aung – USS Creddock (MSF-356) during WWII – fires a gun salute in December 2019.)

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(UMS Yan Tuang Aung – USS Farmington (PCE-894) during WWII – in service in the late 2010s.) (photo via Radio Free Asia)

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