Friday, June 24, 2011

Fullbore Friday

An encore FbF from SEP07.

So, don't think you can do what you are not trained for? Think a beat up old ship can't be put in harm's way? Can you really think "out of the box?" Can a ship run aground, over and over, and still get an award? How about a Presidential Unit Citation? How about a destroyer that captures an airfield?

USS Dallas (DD-199), tell us all about it.
On 25 October she cleared Norfolk to rendezvous with TP 34 bound for the invasion landings on North Africa. Dallas was to carry a U.S. Army Raider battalion, and land them up the narrow, shallow, obstructed river to take a strategic airport near Port Lyautey, French Morocco. On 10 November she began her run up the Oued Sebou under the masterful guidance of Rene Malavergne, a civilian pilot who was to be the first foreign civilian to receive the Navy Cross. Under fire by cannon and small arms during the entire run, she plowed her way through mud and shallow water, narrowly missing the many sunken ships and other obstructions, and sliced through a cable crossing the river, to land her troops safely just off the airport. Her brilliant success in completing this mission with its many unexpected complications won her the Presidential Unit Citation.
That is the airfield on the right. Oh, and they fought the French the whole way.
On the night of 9-10 November a tactical innovation involving the Navy raised American spirits. On the Sebou River the destroyer-transport Dallas pushed aside a barricade and sneaked upstream with a raider detachment to spearhead the assault on the airfield. As the night wore on, some colonial units gave up the fight, but Foreign Legion units continued to resist. Several companies of the 1st and 3d Battalion Landing Teams made progress, though slow, toward the airfield.

In bypassing a French machine-gun position, three companies of the 1st Team became disoriented and unintentionally provided some comic relief to a difficult night. At 0430 the companies reached a building they thought housed the airfield garrison. Intent on maintaining surprise, the troops crept up to doors and windows, weapons at the ready. Bursting in, the embarrassed Americans discovered they had captured a French cafe. Some 75 patrons put down wine glasses and surrendered. Patrols rounded up about 100 more prisoners in the area.

At daylight on 10 November the 1st Team mounted a new drive, this time with tanks, and by 1045 reached the west side of the airfield. On the river the Dallas passed a gauntlet of artillery fire and debarked the raiders on the east side of the airfield. American troops now occupied three sides of their objective.

Serious opposition still came from the Mehdia fortress. Although naval gunfire had silenced the larger batteries earlier, machine-gun and rifle fire continued. Navy dive bombers were called in, and after only one bombing run the garrison quit. After claiming the fort and gathering prisoners, the 2d Battalion Landing Team moved on to close the ring around the airport. By nightfall the American victory was assured' and the local French commander requested a parlay with General Truscott. At 0400 on 11 November a cease-fire went into effect, the terms of which brought all GOALPOST objectives under American control.
Yes Virginia, we had to fight against the French before we would fight with them in WWII. One other thing, when looking up the Dallas, I noticed one of her then Junior Officers on that day who is buried at Arlington, Randall T. Boyd, Jr., CDR USN. Just for reference - what a career and life he had.
Commander Boyd saw combat as a naval artillery officer during World War II and as a pilot during the Korean War. He was awarded a Silver Star for his exploits during World War II and the Distinguished Flying Cross for his activities during the Korean War.

Born in Hingham, Masschusetts, and raised in Weymouth, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis in 1941. He also earned a master's degree in aeronautical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

On November 10, 1942, he was artillery officer aboard the destroyer Dallas when it made a treacherous 10-mile run up the Sebou River to land an Army Ranger detachment to capture Port Lyautey Airport during the assault and occupation of French Morocco.

According to the citation for the Silver Star he was awarded for the engagement, he displayed "remarkable courage under heavy hostile fire during the perilous journey" and "played a large part in providing protective gunfire for our Army Ranger troops and controlled and directed the fire of the ship so efficiently that hostile shore batteries were silenced before they were able to inflict any damage on the Dallas."

After World War II, he trained as a pilot in Pensacola, Florida, then served in the Korean War.

The first citation for his Flying Cross described him as "a skilled airman and cool leader in the face of hostile opposition."

According to the citation, he was flying a mission over Korea on October 12, 1950, "when enemy shore batteries attacked US mine sweepers with intense fire.

"Commander Boyd spotted hostile targets, took them under fire and held them down while the vessels escaped from the area. Braving heavy fire sent up from the ground, he controlled naval gunfire and vectored carrier-based aircraft to the enemy positions."

After the Korean War, he was commanding officer of Naval Patrol Squadron 34, and later was second in command at the Naval Base in Rota, Spain.

After retiring from the Navy, he was an engineer at MIT's Draper Laboratory, where he worked on the Gemini and Apollo space programs, and a senior engineer at Brown and Root Inc. in Houston, where he oversaw shipbuilding projects.
Ship and man. Benchmark both.

UPDATE: BTW - here is a modern day pic of the river they took that DD up at night. Ballsy? Yep.

40 comments:

ewok40k said...

imagine LCS trying to do such things... shudder.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Navy Artillery Officer? That is a strange way of putting it. This must be a translation, with that being the direct translation from the other site, rather than the correct Gunnery Officer.

Southern Air Pirate said...

I think actually that is the proper term for a US Naval Officer (or any naval officer) who goes ashore with the landing team to call in NGFS from the ship. That is before the term Forward observer was standardized. Looking at a couple of old copies of the Blue Jackets Manuals that I have from the turn of the 20th Centuary and they talk about Ship's Landing Force instructions, they make mention of a Naval Artillery Officer as being a member of the landing force. That officer is supposed to stick close to the Signalman to help call in fire from afloat units or landed field pieces in defense of the landing team.

Anonymous said...

The destroyer captured the airfield, really?

sid said...

SO's father was a corporate pilot for B&R...Will have to ask him if he knew the gent. If he did, bet the good Mr. Boyd never really mentioned his exploits....

Fullbore!

Shot of how it was during the MIW ops off Wonsan in October 1950.

Good thing we won't have to worry about that ever having to happen again these days.


Littoral Warfare...

Do you think it fits this description?

<span><span>

represents the least severe environment anticipated and excludes the need for enhanced survivability for designated ship classes
</span></span>


Remember that as we buy yet more (kinda sorta) Level I Littoral Combat Ships....

sid said...

<span>Navy Artillery Officer? That is a strange way of putting it</span>
<span></span>
<span>Saw it too...And immediately thought of this.</span>
<span></span>
<span>So the term may have been attached from someone who remembered those days.</span>

LT B said...

One of my fave stories about MIW is the discussion at the museum in the WNY.  They discuss about the lack of funding/interest in MIW and were so bad at it, that when they tried to get the Marines ashore, the mine clearing was so slow that Bob Hope beat them ashore as he came from Inchon.

sid said...

12 October 1950 was a tough day...

Which points out how the LCS CONOPS is a study in Defeat In Detail....

Overarching Expectation of "Good Vision" through the employment of the TFBN

Its already been demonstrated that key input elements of the TFBN can be disabled with a boat hook.

What Wayne P Hughes said will apply in the next littoral scrap...

“The period from 1865 to 1914 rivals even our present age for sweeping technological development in peacetime…
Tactical analysis failed in two significant respects only: overvaluation of speed, and failure to forsee the effects that poor visibility would have on major fleet actions.”


Reliance on Speed:

See in bold above.

Also...

Ships will be tied to offboard vehicle launch and recovery ops for extended periods (if sea states permit) , uncertainty of threat locations, and constrianed by lack of sea room.
(won't delve into navigation skills)

So...Bottom line: Ships will likely never be able to make the speed they need to evade a threat in a contested littoral environment.

As the LCS is oft compared to aircraft, then just remember, these guys thought speed would keep them from being hit too.

(cont)

sid said...

One  Hit Will Stop Offensive Ops
 
On the Eastern Front, if a Soviet unit was in trouble, it was abandoned to its fate, and resources were applied to areas where gains could be consolidated. But thats not the American Way. Especially since Vietnam, we have extolled the highest accolades in combat to the dramatic rescues. Even if it meant that all other ops cease in order to support the rescue. I call it the Bat-21 Syndrome.

There never will be sufficient numbers of LCS's in theater....And its highly unlikely to believe those fewer than needed LCS's will carry the necessary inventory of offboard assets that make up their operational viability.

To think otherwise is whistlin' past the graveyard fantasy.

So when one is hit and disabled close off a hostile shore...
 
Expect whatever offensive operations to cease, and an operation that will dwarf Bat-21 and "Blackhawk Down" to then become the focus...

Squidly said...

Force ANGLICO baby!

CDR Salamander said...

Note the timeline from concept (12NOV1917), contract (26NOV1917), delivery (MAR1918), deployment(AUG1918), combat (06SEP 1918).  

Amazing.  No computers, no PPT - yet there you go.

Is our system broken?  Oh, yes.  And before anyone squeals about "wartime" just review the cruiser development from 1920-1940.

We can do better, as it has been better before with less.

ewok40k said...

Sid, I am afraid one silkworm hit or exocet clone hit will leave LCS not disabled but sinking fast - and a torpedo will break it in half with not much of survivors to rescue...

sid said...

ewok, I would suggest that one not always presume every hit is a direct catastrophic hit...

It really happens infrequently all said and done...Most -like that on the Hanit- are glancing blows for one reason or another.

That said, due to the incompressibility of a fluid, a chance encounter with a torpedo or a mine makes for a mighty big hole.

Arguably, the torpedo is the most efficient ship killer there is...

As the Koreans recently found out.

sid said...

Forgot to add...Given the glass jaw nature of the LCS ...By deliberate design...the chances of even an indirect hit disabling the ship is needlessly much greater than needs to be.

SouthernAP said...

Don't forget that the this class of 156 ships were spread through out the nation into seven different yards. Five of those yards were civilian (Newport News, Bethlehem, Willam Cramp & Sons, Bath Iron, New York Shipbuilding Corp) and two where military yards (Mare Island and Norfolk Naval). Just throwing that thought out there.

Salty Gator said...

Fighting the french in North Africa, Indochina, and Europe in World War II.  This is a very complicated subject that I am afraid is glossed over one way or another by both the Resistance Deniers and Resistance Embellishers.

Grandmere Gator was a French resistance fighter / surgeon and spy for the OSS during World War II in Burgundy, France and a few other provinces.  Besides smuggling out pilots who had been shot down, she collected information on enemy troop dispositions and strength and even performed extensive field surgery on wounded fighters / civillians and downed pilots.  Her own words were that once the Allies were at the Gates of Paris, "everyone was suddenly part of the Resistance.  And a lot of men had to show how tough they were by smacking around women who associated with German officers.  But when the Nazis were in Paris, where were these Resistance Fighters?"  I have my Grandmere's resistance Arm Band.  The resistance was real.

So were the Vichy French.  Vichy french cast their lot with whom they thought the winning side were--the Nazis.  .  In turn, they sacrificed their souls by helping to round up Jews and other "undesirables" for their Nazi masters.  The French did as the French usually do--they did what they thought was in the best interests of their country.  But let's not cast too many stones.  We didn't get involved in WWII until we were personally invaded.  We didn't invade Normandy to save the French.  We did it to conquer the Germans who were trying to conquer the world.  Any debt of honor that we had to the French for the War of Independence was paid in World War I.

The nationalists, the ironically aptly named "Gaullists", fought against the Nazis at every turn for the Honor of France.  The Vichy collaborated for the survival of France and for personal gain.  Period.

sid said...

I am afraid one silkworm hit or exocet clone hit will leave LCS not disabled but sinking fast

It might just benefit an enemy to NOT sink one, but instead leave it holed and burning in full view of Al Jazeera's live feed...

Apart from the immediate infowar victory, they could do that knowing that we will stop whatever we were doing, and use what resources are on hand to effect a rescue at all costs.

Especially if we were hurting them dearly elsewhere and they needed some room to maneuver....

Hezbollah has already headed down that road.

LT B said...

I learned of the Vichy French when I was studying the beginnings of the SEALs.  They talk about the raids up the rivers in N. Africa.  Until then, I had no idea we had to fight the French before we fought "with" them.

SouthernAP said...

SG,

I have a book in my collection titled "Victory in Europe: From D-Day to VE-Day" with photos and stills of film taken by George Stevens when he was assigned to the US Army Signal Corps. One of the scenes with the elaborating text showed some women being sheered bald by other folks because they were either Vichy or they were sympathizers to the Nazis. A few other women and men were hung by the neck from lamp posts.
You are correct though that in modern day history all anyone knows is that when France fell everyone joined the Resistance. They don't know of the horror that was Mers-El-Kebir, the Naval Battle of Casablanca, the Syrian-Lebanon Campaign where the Brits had to worry about the potential of Nazi troops coming through Greece into Syria and down onto the Suez, that the British invaded Madagascar to prevent the IJN form forcing bases rights there for thier units and threatening the IO supply lines, or the fact that there was again vicious fighting in the jungles of central africa between European Colonial powers over thier colonies like there had been only 30yrs earlier. Even worst is how mis-read the Allies (see Churchill) were about the abilities of de Gualle to sway the Vichy forces to just surrender thier arms and fight against the Axis and thier own government.

sid said...

USS Maryant under French fire at Casablanca...

sid said...

And the scrap between the Massachusetts and Jean Bart...

MR T's Haircut said...

One of my favorite WWII Naval stories.

Besides the differance in Zero Defect Mentality we face in todays Navy by contrast, the fact we fought the Vichy then used superb Diplomatic Arm wrestling Ala Ike, Mark Clark and my favorite GSP Jr, we cannot muster 1/10 the Balls or the ingenuity these giants possessed.

MR T's Haircut said...

We still have to fight them sometimes to fight with them.... just sayin...

ewok40k said...

well, given their experience in holding people hostage, I am not surprised...

ewok40k said...

Recovering from Casserine debacle is supreme example of Patton's ability to rally troops.
North Africa was campaign on vast scale, ending with Axis capitulation on scale of Stalingrad. Oh and pretty much knocking out what remained of Vichy armed forces from the war.

ewok40k said...

Interestingly, had Germans pressed the Mediterranean strategy together with IJN pressing for Indian Ocean, there was good chance of sweeping British Empire form the war. Allies started from weakest link, the Italy, too. Axis had no chance of invading CONUS, and with hindsight, Soviet Russia was just too big to swallow. But capturing Suez/Middle East by Germans and invading India by Japan could break the back of Churchill's government following fall of Singapore and Tobruk.

Mike M. said...

Patton's diplomatic efforts in North Africa have always been undervalued.  He was a far more skilled diplomat than anyone credited him for.

MR T's Haircut said...

Ewok,
Patton faced a crucial moment here in Morocco.  He could have easily distingished himself as an Ike or a Marshall, here he was in his finest.  Governor, General, Statesman.. he "nation built' despite the islamic influence. He had some pretty ingenious anecdotes to deal with the muslim.  Read the Patton Papers..

Good stuff... 

MR T's Haircut said...

Mike,
Patton makes the entire last 10 years of idiots seem like buffoons at reccess,,,,

sid said...

<span>Patton makes the entire last 10 years of idiots seem like buffoons at reccess,,,,</span>

<span>AND </span>the guy was an accomplished sailor, with two west coast to Hawaii passages under his belt before going to war....

Had a custom schooner built in 1940 with the intent of making a circumnavigation after the war he knew was going to come....

Of course, he never made it back to her.

Also, the army curmudgeon managed to sail into Honolulu sans GPS without hitting a reef too.

sid said...

George's boat...

Iron Men, Wooden Ships said...

The US minesweepers under fire at Wonson on October 12th, 1950 included the WWII-era steel-hulled sweepers PLEDGE and PIRATE. Both were blown up by North Korean-laid Russian mines with some loss of life. While US aircraft, including CDR Boyd's, suppressed North Korean artillery fire directed at the ships, at least one helicopter, flying from USS ROCHESTER, I believe, directed the rescue by UDT Teams of the men in the water. Two other sweeps, a South Korean and a Japanese sweep, were lost days later during the operation as well. 

Salty Gator said...

Grandpere Gator was a commando who, after the French republic fell and was reorganized as Vichy, escaped to Spain.  Franco put him into jail.  the allies tried to bargain for him with medical supplies.  Franco took the supplies but kept him.  Eventually Grandpere Gator escaped, crossed the Pyrenees and then the English channel to join up with De Gualle.  He was air dropped back into france and went about his merry business of blowing shit up and creating hemroids for the Nazi logisticians and rail engineers.  One of the most important jobs he had though was convincing Vichy enlisted to kill their officers, and then join the cause.

Salty Gator said...

Eh.....
Patton was good.  One of my grandfathers was Patton's Top Sgt.  But he was called Blood & Guts for a reason.  "Our blood for his guts [bravery]."  the man had a huge ego.  Bradley was almost as competent a tactician, but saw the political dynamics as well as the tactical and strategic.  Patton was competent at working a crowd, et il parlerait francais tres bien, but he was no diplomat.  If Ike didn't smack him down, he could have single handedly broken the alliance.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

Thanks, SAP, I shold have thought of that. I have some old Blue Jacket's manuals, pre WWII, I shall have to take a look.  When you look at the old ones, it's amazing how much more we expected a new sailor to learn, and the confidence that we had that they could learn it.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

I should have remembered those guns as well.  Not a good week for the Old badger Brains.  I have always liked the way that USN Rail Guns looked, particularly the ones with enclosed mounts.  I guess one gets into a rut, thinking of the USN of late WWII, as the standard. 

ewok40k said...

with dedication for skippy, look at the 2.30 mark:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pVC8V500e8&feature=related

Grandpa Bluewater. said...

When I took my first Merchant Marine License test I used my grandfather's BJM (pre WWI) as a study resource for the lifeboard under oars standard commands. Complete, cogent and correct.

sid said...

Good stuff here about the Wonsan operation...

Then, on 12 October things quickly went sour as USS Pirate (AM-275) and USS Pledge (AM-277) hit mines and sank, with the Wonsan shore batteries joining in to increase the misery. With two precious ships gone, the practice of safe minesweeping became essential, slowing progress considerably.
However, clearance activities were still on schedule, when on 18 October, magnetic mines were discovered the hard way as South Korean YMS-516 was destroyed while conducting a check sweep off the invasion beaches. That forced a postponement of landings from 20 to 26 October, while putting the surviving minesweepers and the UDT members to a great deal more difficult work, work that continued around Wonsan through October and well into November.

sid said...

I know...

Folks will say we won't lose anybody, because nowadays, we have these...

Really?

How many are you buying?

How many will you have in theater?

How many can you lose?