Friday, March 12, 2010

Fullbore Friday

After over three decades of service, you've made LT and screened for Command! Wow! Tell me about your warship!
... the ... five-year old unarmed third rate Revenue Cutter Hudson was manned by two officers(one line and one engineer) and nine men and performed routine duties in New York harbor. Her compliment would grow to five officers and sixteen men when taken into Naval service. When ordered to Naval service she steamed first to Norfolk to install new armaments, a 6-pounder fore and aft with a Colt 6mm machine gun on top of the wheel house. Configured as many harbor tugs of the period, she was 128 tons, 96 feet long, 20 feet in the beam, with a 8 foot draft, the 24-inch stroke of her pistons made her slow, her superstructure was high out of the water topped with a large smoke stack.
Oh, come on my dear readers, this is Fullbore Friday. You know better than that.

You go to war with the Fleet you have - and it isn't a ship - it is a tool used by officers and enlisted people. Leadership, training, and the innate martial nature of American mariners when given a mission.

Is anything impossible? No -
just a challenge.
Manned, armed, and armor plate installed across bridge and engine room the Hudson made her way to Key West
The Hudson's commander, Massachusett's native First Lieutenant, Frank H. Newcomb, USRCS, was assigned to patrol Cuba's northern coast east of Havana. One of the ports he was to help blockade was Cardenas.
On May 11, Newcomb received orders to join the U. S. Navy gunboats Machias and Wilmington and the torpedo boat Winslow.

Machias's, Commander Merry, draft was too deep for the secondary channel and remained outside to give gunfire support. The other three made their way through the mango trees and entered the harbor. Receiving no fire from the Spanish, the three vessels across Cardenas Bay toward the three moored Spanish gunboats.

The Winslow commanded by the brash LT. John B. Bernadou, USN, charged ahead of the others(at a speed of about 24 knots) to cutout a gunboat for a prize and, probably to his surprise, immeadiately drew heavy fire from hidden Spanish shore batteries and the gunboats that mounted tweleve-pounder guns. The Spanish-American War was the last in which U. S. Naval Officers could receive prize money for captured vessels. Bernadou was the prototype of the brashness needed for the PT boat skippers of World War II and the figher pilots of today. The Winslow returned fire with her three one-pounders on the Spanish gunboats. The Hudson saw the perdictament and hurried at best speed (12 knots maximum -- on a good day) to assist the Winslow with her heavier six-pounder guns. The Wilmington , stopped by shoal waters, laid off the mile and one half and gave support with her 4-inch guns. Both the forward vessels sank two of the Spanish gunboats, the Antonio Lopez and Lealtad, at their moorings and then turned their attention to the shore batteries.

Although the Spanish had placed ranging buoys in the bay and both vessels were among the red buoys, the Spanish artillery was not accurate in its fire in part because of the black stack smoke and the fog of cannon smoke. Their shells exploded in the air spraying schrapnel or fell into the water alongside the vessels. The engagement was about twenty minutes old when the Winslow took her first hits. One round hit the bow, entered the captain's cabin and exploded in the paint locker causing a fire. Another round struck the conning tower wounding Bernadou in the leg. Two hits destroyed her steering gear and damaged a boiler, another hit puts the emergency(hand gear) steering out of commission as well as hitting an engine. The Winslow, without power and steering, became a target for the Spanish gunners. Nature too, began to conspire against Winslow and a rising eastward wind began pushing her toward the Spanish batteries but using the remaining undamaged engine Bernadou was able to back away from the shore and ranging buoys.

Lt. Newcomb saw the Winslow's plight and with Spanish shells exploding all around the cutter went to the Winslow's assistance. The Hudson took a position 150 yards inshore of the Winslow to draw Spanish fire and protect the disabled torpedo boat. Newcomb attempted to suppress the Spanish fire, but the Spanish used smokeless powder that did not reveal their positions. However, once the cutter got the range was able to place several rounds near the Spanish batteries.

Newcomb received a report that the Winslow was badly damaged and offered Brenadou assistance but he "declined by a negative shake of his head." However, Brenadou realizing the dangerous position he was in relented to a tow from Hudson. The Winslow, with its seven-foot draft, had shoaled causing the Hudson to literally plow through the bottom silt to reach the Winslow. Brenadou later wrote his account of the action in which he said he directed Hudson to take him in tow. Newcomb had to abandon his inshore position to reach the stricken vessel and when within 100 feet a Spanish shell exploded on board Winslow killing North Carolinian Ensign Bagby( who has the dubious distinction of being the only U. S. Naval officer killed in action during the war) and two others. Two others were mortally wounded.

During Hudson's attempts to attach a tow, the Wilmington fired her guns over both of the other vessels. A number of her shells exploded prematurely showering fragments on Hudson and Winslow. The Winslow passed its heavy tow line, but as Hudson took up the strain to swing the torpedo boat around the line parted. Although some believe the line was shot away, Newcomb reported it was caused by the excessive yawing of the torpedo boat because of the damaged steering gear. Newcomb then tried taking Winslow along side but the bay had become rough and he feared the Winslow would sink because to the water thrown up between the two. The Spanish fire had ceased but the threat was still there as and another line was hastily rigged and the Winslow towed to safety. Somewhat bitterly, Newcomb noted "after a long and laborious chase dead to windward, we finally overtook the Wilmington." Although the Wilmington had a doctor on board, it had not come about to assist with the wounded despite wig-wag signals from both vessels.

The engagement began about 1 PM and lasted until 4 PM when Hudson towed the Winslow out of the bay. The Hudson fired some 135 rounds and although in the midst of the battle she escaped with only minor sturctural damage.


AW1 Tim said...

Reminds me of the SAS's motto: "He Who Dares, Wins."

 Or, in this case, surcices. But yeah.... they sunk two of the enemy's ships and damaged another. Good work all around.

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

The Coast Critters always shine in whatever they set out to do.

Swampfox said...

The bigger point is that we sent a special purpose ship (a torpedo boat) into a defended position to do shore bombardment, a mission it was neither designed for nor equipped for nor against the enemy force (the battle line or heavy ships) it was envisaged as attacking...Cardenas was glorious, but it points out the limitations of single or special or focused-mission ships in flexible combat situations...a lesson we need to remember today.

ewok40k said...

ahem, also shows the dangers of fighting in range of enemy shore guns... I wonder how would LCS fare against those Spanish 12 pounders?

UltimaRatioRegis said...


Why, the LCS would zip around at 40 knots, kicking up a hell of a rooster tail, popping away with its 57mm gun, until it ran hard aground and got pounded to swiss cheese by the Spanish guns.  The artillery of the day would tear up aluminum alloy.

sid said...

Gotta go to war with what you got...

Good thing we are building ships that are, "The Field of Dreams" these days.

They are FAST!!!! and ELEGANT!!!!

aflapr said...

"Surveyor" and "Narcissus," The "<span>Eagle</span>" and "Dispatch," The "Hudson" and the "Tampa," These names are hard to match; From <span>Barrow's shores</span> to <span>Paraguay</span>, <span>Great Lakes</span> or Ocean's wave, The Coast Guard fights through storms and winds To punish or to save.

Larry said...

IIRC, a 6-lbr was ~57mm.  LCS comparisons come to mind.

Quartermaster said...

Semper Paratus!

MR T's Haircut said...

A tug boat with a willing skipper, will be more combat effective then a cruiser with out one...

UltimaRatioRegis said...

An army of lambs led by a lion....

DeltaBravo said...

MTH, you always reduce everything to its essential truth.  Succinctly.  It's an art. 

Bill Wells said...

I wish "CDR Salamander" had given authorship credit for the article he lifted.

cdrsalamander said...

As per blogger protocol, I did.  If you would control your snarkitude and ashattery for a moment and check the one and only link in this post - you will see that it goes to that exact article.  Credit fully applied.

I drove more traffic to that page than anyone else this year.  You're welcome.

You could have emailed me and avoided showing your a55 on my front porch - and therefor we could have discussed this in a gentlemanly manner.  Your call; bad call.

Feel free to kiss my a55 at your leisure.  


Bill Wells said...

My ashtray, when I used one, is made from the base of a brass 5"/38 powder case. 

The proper way to acknowledge the work of others is to use their name before you post thier work.  Your gentlemanly comment does not overcome the lack of proper attribution. Your "blooger protocol" is just a way to avoid providing credit.   The inference to anyone who does not select that link is that you wrote it.   That is how I found you out.  Another wrote what a great article you put up.  Of course putting my comment on your 'front porch' is exactly what you do to others.  It got your attention.

I doubt that you have driven many to that page. It has been around since the 1990s.   I don't keep hit counts. 

As for kissing your ass--well, the guys on the mess deck used to say 'mark the spot.'

cdrsalamander said...

Love you bunches .... the rules I follow have been the norm since about 1995.  I will stick with them.

Blogs do not use APA format, nor does Facebook or Twitter.  Welcome to the second decade of the 21st Century.  Proper attribution, for the blogosphere was given.  

In any event - isn't the purpose of the topic to honor the service and sacrifice of the subjects?

I have an idea Bill - why don't you start a blog about how all the rules of new media need to exactly match your specific rules of attribution.  Change everything to meet your exact requirements, after all - it is all about you , isn't it?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

Whoa, whoa, whoa, Phib. 

It's about Maggie first, you second, and Bill here is third, if he is lucky and SWMBO is feeling magnanimous.

Bill Wells said...

I would not use APA, MLA or several of the other types of attribution.   I use Chicago or some similiar style.

However, since you brought up the subject that  <span>"Proper attribution, for the blogosphere was given."  Let us see if it was.   Well not, it wasn't.   A ten second Google search found this 2007 article.  I realize that three years ago in the "blogger" world is like-a million years ago, but some people may to this day follow the convention. 

"Typically, when inline linking, you mention the person’s name and/or the site they write for and link to the original article. This can be done very easily in any blogging application and takes only seconds to do."  See Jonathan Bailey

This treatment of another's work is simply courtesy.   If you read the article, which apparently you have not, you will find it is unnecessary for me to begin a blog about attribution.  These are not my rules.

Cheap shots aside, you know I am right.   Of course, ranting on a blog is far easier that publication in a peer reviewed journal.  

cdrsalamander said...

You make the assumption that I have not been published.  Silly Bill.

Anyway, good luck with your blog!

Bill Wells said...

I made no such assumption about anything you may have published.  My comment was about a blog being easier than a peer reviewed journal.

I did a search of CDR Salamander and nothing came up.   Perhaps you may want to provides some help here.

I don't need luck with a blog.  It is something anyone can do--like vanity books.