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.

pinoncherbourg

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

butternut

(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.)

seperacion1990s

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

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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.

map

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

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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.

launch

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

sf

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

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a Gato under the Rising Sun

During WWII, the Imperial Japanese Navy’s submarine force was more advanced than it is often given credit for today – mostly, due to it being overshadowed by the successes of American and German subs during the war.

Japan’s submarine force ceased to exist with the end of WWII. That it was later resurrected during the Cold War was by no means a certain thing, nor was it easy. The rebirth of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s (JMSDF) undersea wing is largely forgotten today, and even more so that it started with a submarine which itself had fought against the empire during WWII.

gato

(The US Navy’s Gato class of WWII.)

kuroshio1970s

(The JMSDF’s first submarine, the Gato class Kuroshio, ex-USS Mingo of WWII.)

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putting cruise missiles on WWII battleships

Photos of USS Missouri and USS Wisconsin firing 16″ rounds at Iraqi targets in 1991 are well-known as the last instances of battleships in combat. Less widely known is their operations with Tomahawks during that war, and even less, about how cruise missiles ended up on WWII battleships in the 1980s to begin with.

wisconsinwwii

(USS Wisconsin during WWII.)

wisconsindesertstorm

(USS Wisconsin firing a BGM-109 Tomahawk during operation “Desert Storm”, four and a half decades later.)

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Cleaning up after WWII

Since starting wwiiafterwwii, I receive from time to time suggestions for topics. These are wide-ranging but two in particular seem very popular: WWII weapons in the Vietnam War, which has been touched on several times; and a general question of how the world “cleaned up” WWII battlefields after the war. For the latter, I was surprised at how very little is written about it so perhaps this will be of interest.

One of the reasons WWII battlefields did not remain littered with vehicles for long was that, with the lone exception of the USA, all of the major warring powers made some official level of combat usage of captured enemy arms during WWII. The most formal was Germany’s Beutewaffe (literally, ‘booty’ or ‘loot’ weapon) effort, which encompassed everything from handguns to fighter aircraft with an official code in the Waffenamt system; for example FK-288(r) (the Soviet ZiS-3 anti-tank gun), SIGew-251(a) (the American M1 Garand rifle), and Sd.Kfz 735(i) (the Italian Fiat M13/40 tank). Captured gear was assembled at points called Sammelstelle and then shipped back from the front lines for disposition.

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Mothballing the US Navy after WWII: pt.2

(part 2 of a 2-part series)

tunnydecom1946

(The 1945 decommissioning ceremony of USS Tunny (SS-282), showing the blown plastic preservation technique on the deck gun.) (official US Navy photo)

greasing

(Protective grease is applied to machinery on a mothballed warship, in a still from a  post-WWII training video.)

charlestonearly1950s

(Mothballed WWII destroyers at Charleston, SC in the 1950s, with their radars removed and AA guns enclosed in igloos.)

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Mothballing the US Navy after WWII: pt.1

(part 1 of a 2-part series)

The US Navy at the end of WWII was the largest on the planet, and would be unaffordable at that size  in peacetime. What followed was the largest warship preservation effort in history.

Phily1961igloos

(WWII Cruisers USS Huntington (CL-107), USS Dayton (CL-105), and battleship USS South Dakota (BB-57) in mothballs at Naval Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility Philadelphia, PA in August 1961. These warships had been in reserve for 14 years and show the characteristic “igloos”.) (official US Navy photo)

siusun bay

(The Suisun Bay, CA facility packed full of mothballed warships after WWII.)

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