Friday, December 17, 2010

Fullbore Friday

Remember: nothing is routine. No watch is standard. Combat will not wait for you to be ready.

Place yourself on watch on the HMS Glowworm. You still are not happy going on liberty with "Glowworm" on your cover, but your nation is at war - and you suck it up. You have been detached from the main formation to look for a man overboard that in this water you know must be dead by now. After longer than you should, you give up the search and turn to return to your Task Force. You just received your second cup of tea for this watch....
...the Glowworm sighted a destroyer who when challenged, identified itself as Swedish. It was in fact the German von Röder class destroyer, Bernd Von Arnim, which very quickly opened fire, to which Glowworm responded. Unfortunately another German destroyer, the Paul Jakobi soon appeared. However, the Von Arnim was packed with invasion troops and soon both it and the Paul Jakobi turned and fled into a rainsquall. Lt Cdr Roope gave chase despite guessing that they were trying lead him onto their main force in an attempt to discover there whereabouts and inform the Admiralty.
Hiding in the showers, eh? Well, good Skipper, you head in as well - not to let Jerry get away from a proper battle. Then...
As the Glowworm emerged from the squall she came face-to-face with 14,000 ton the German Heavy Cruiser, Admiral Von Hipper armed with eight 8 inch and twelve 4 inch guns. The Glowworm laid smoke and conducted torpedo attacks from the cover of the smoke screen but failed to hit the Hipper. Glowworm had sustained substantial damage by this time and Lt Cdr Roope gave the order 'Stand by to ram'. The Hipper, realizing what was happening tried to turn and ram the Glowworm but was too slow. The Glowworm tore into the starboard side of the Hipper amidships and tore 100 feet of armour plating away, damaged her starboard torpedo tubes and punctured two fresh water tanks. After ramming the Hipper, Glowworm drew clear, but received another close range salvo from the Hipper to which the single gun, commanded by Petty Officer Walter Scott responded. Glowworm by this time had sustained massive damaged and started to sink and Lt Cdr Roope gave the order to abandon ship. He went down to open the sea cocks himself and the ship started to sink, forcing men into the freezing water or onto her bow.
In the very Navy way the Germans fought at sea in WWII,
The Captain of the Hipper, Helmuth Heye, gallantly stayed for over an hour picking up survivors. He positioned Hipper so that the tidal currents would carry the survivors too them. All the personnel on deck helped with hauling survivors aboard but many were too exhausted to make the final effort of climbing up the ropes and ladders and slipped away, including Lt Cdr Roope who helped many of his men to get life jackets on and to get to ladders. Out of a crew of 149, only 31 survived, the only officer being Lt Robert Ramsey. The prisoners were treated well by the Germans who congratulated them on a good fight, and Captain Heye told the men that their Captain was a brave man.
You want class? Need 'professionalism' defined? I present to you two men, LCDR Roope and CAPT Heye (later VADM).
Later, Heye sent a message through the International Red Cross recommending Lt Cdr Roope for the Victoria Cross, the only time in British history that a VC has been recommended by the enemy. The survivors spent the rest of the war as PoWs and afterwards, Lt Ramsey was able to return home and tell the whole story. The story was published on the 10th July 1945, in the Fourth Supplement to the London Gazette for Friday, 6th July 1945. As a result, Lt Cdr Roope was awarded the Victoria Cross, Lt Ramsey the Distinguished Service Order and three other ratings received the Conspicuous Gallantry Medal.


Encore edition from 29DEC06.

UPDATE: This painting is better - and here is an actual picture taken from the HIPPER during the attack.


Byron said...

Just...awesome. The Brit version of Taffy 3.

Salty Gator said...

My God...that was worth waiting all morning for!

DeltaBravo said...

Wow.  Just wow.

But for some reason that narrative makes me feel very sad.   Under another government what could Capt. Heye have become?  He obviously had a tremendous amount of integrity and decency.  So wasted fighting for the wrong side.

ewok40k said...

that's what I call punching above own weight!

Grandpa Bluewater said...

This action is in my thoughts every time I look at the LCS.

The RN has not had a shortage of courage and skill at any time since the Armada.

Someone in the Nazi hierarchy said Hitler fought the war with the National Socialist
air force, the prussian army, and a Christian Navy. He was right about the Navy, at least this once.

AW1 Tim said...

Thank you for this post. A wonderful story that all can learn from.

OldCavLt said...

Simply amazing.  Thanks for this article.

andrewdb said...

The Citation in the London Gazette is available here:

ewok40k said...

given armament and speed of LCS ramming seems like tactic its designed for...

Byron said...

Nah, it'd fold up like a beer can :)

Mike M. said...

The very, very Navy way of fighting.  As civilized gentlemen, not beasts.

Mike M. said...

The very, very Navy way of fighting.  As civilized gentlemen, not beasts.

virgil xenophon said...

At first: What an uplifting story! Then, upon reflection on our day and time: Extreme disconsulate sadness..

ewok40k said...

we had eggshells armed wth sledgehammers once, now we have eggshells armed with... pins?

SCOTTtheBADGER said...

You can't get any full borer that GLOWWORM.  

Andrew said...

Stories like this are what motivate me to become a Naval officer. What ever happened to men like this?

James said...

Damn great story great men.


They never kiss enough a$$ to get there as they are more interested in doing their jobs than accumulation the political power to get really high on the ladder.

UltimaRatioRegis said...

We have bred them out of the services, punishing the aggressive, uncompromising leaders in favor of the milquetoasts whose focus is up to the boss instead of toward his Sailors and his command.  "Warrior" and "warrior ethos" are ridiculed (read some of the USNI comments from time to time) and those who hold them are belittled as ill-educated and unsophisticated simpletons and knuckle-draggers.

Count how many times "diversity" or "women's issues" is mentioned by senior Navy leadership in comparison to fighting, tactics, combat, defeating the enemy, or any meaningful battle study.

War fighters aren't safe, they aren't easy to lead.  So they are weeded out, as the corporate minded weenies gain supremacy over those who win battles and wars.  For fear of Stellenbosch. 

CV60 said...

I was not aware the German Admiral had recommended the HMS GLOWORM CO for the VC.  Words escape me.  May God bless them

relentlessrob said...

One of the best fullbore's yet thanks Cdr Salamander, Lest We Forget.

Andrew said...

But surely it must not be all lost?

UltimaRatioRegis said...

That will only be determined by the next Solomons Campaign or Inchon Landing.

Wharf Rat said...


sid said...

An LCS is designed to run away...According to the highly competent folks who, "set the requirements"....

RADM Hamilton: As you know from reading the requirements documents, the survivability piece on LCS is different than DDG 51 or DDX or several of our other combatants. And what we’ve chosen to do here is couple high speed and maneuverability and situational awareness in ways that allow LCS to be in the right place at the right time <span>and to be out of the right place at the wrong time. Okay?</span>

Really killer kool techno stuff will give the LCS perfect vision, so it will never run into a situation like the Glomworm did...Don't you see?

sid said...

<span>He positioned Hipper so that the tidal currents would carry the survivors to them.</span>

And he didn't have to rely on a multimillon dollar "Total Ship Computing Environment" to tell him how to do it either.

Oh sorry. That's right.

The spiffy TSCE would have given him the perfect vision of the battlespace to blow away the Glomworm before she could ever become a threat.

(Assuming it wasn't CASREPed at the time of the engagement anyway...But that'll never happen)

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Rotten eggs.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

Having a great design for running away is not much help when duty requires that you stand and fight, or attack at the charge. Escorts have the mission of defending the escorted against the enemy. The duty is not relieved by an inferior correlation of forces.

As currently armed (ignoring the vapor modules) they are not worth a torpedo. Just drive in and sink the main body. The ASW module (IMHO) is a pathetic joke, if it was installed.

Running away from what you are escorting because it is under attack is <span>to be out of the right place at the wrong time.  Not Acceptable.</span>
<span>LCS delende est.</span>

Retired Now said...

LCS is  not  designed to run away !    It's aft facing RAM missile launcher needs targets presented to the CO/TAO down in CIC/MCC.    That won't happen on LCS-1 because the topside design arrangement was done by an amateur.      LCS-1 has essentially a dead zone on its stern, that it's Combat System cannot detect/track consistently and form engageable Tracks on.   Therefore, as LCS-1 is "running away",   it needs to make very broad weaves for long enough to detect and build Tracks on whomever is aft of the ship.

End result is that  IF  the little LCS can even consistently detect enemy contacts aft of itself, and eventually build an engageable Track,  what "weapons" will the LCS fire at those enemy boats or ships that are astern of her ?     All she has is RAM missiles, which are optimized to shoot at certain air targets.    Let's say, for arguments sake, that LCS redesigns her entire topside, and can actually see astern of her, and tracks everything perfectly in that 90 degree sector centered on 180 Relative:    so what ?   shoot RAM ?   It only travels around 6,000 yards or so.   With a warhead that is so small, it won't do much of anything unless the "enemy" aft of your fleeing LCS is a Boston Whaler sized motorboat.  

So, a fleeing LCS-1 is pretty much just that:   a fleeing ship that cannot possibly hurt the enemy that it is running away from.    

LCS is quite a design !   sensors with blind zones aft, and toy weapons with blind zones forward.   So, on the beam it's OK, except that shows the largest radar cross section to the enemy.  You realize, don't you, that this wonderful 55 future US NAVY warship class forgot to be designed with any sort of stealth at all !     A 2.5 inch gun on the bow, with many blind zones and cut outs that require all live lines on forecastle to be taken down,  and a RAM launcher aft where the radars have blind zones and terrible difficulty detecting and tracking contacts.   

I hope the crew never deploys outside of CONUS.   The Navy at least owes them the Leadership NOT to send LCS crews into harm's way.

cdrsalamander said...

Prepare for your head to exploded:


</p><p>1,350 <span>tons</span> (1,376 <span>tonnes</span>) standard
</p><p>1,854 tons (1,883 tonnes) full load
</p><p>Length: 323 ft (98 m) (overall)
</p><p>Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
</p><p>Draught: 12.4 ft (3.8 m)
</p><p>Speed: 36 <span>kt</span>
</p><p>Range: 5,530 <span>nmi</span> at 15 kt
</p><p>Complement: 145
4 x <span>QF</span>4.7 inch, Mk. IX L/45 (119 mm) guns, single mounts <span>CP</span> Mk.XVII 8 x <span>QF 0.5 inch Mk.I</span> (12.7 mm) guns, quad mounts Mk.I 8 (2x4) tubes for 21 inch (533 mm) <span>torpedoes</span> Mk.IX (except Glowworm; 2x5)
</p><p>Ex tenebris lux : 'Out of darkness light'.

</p><p> </p>

cdrsalamander said...

<p>.... and LCS:
</p><p>Displacement: 3,000 metric tons (3,000 t) (full load)<span>[2]</span>
</p><p>Length: 378 feet (115 m)
</p><p>57.4 feet (17.5 m)
</p><p>Draft: 12.8 feet (3.9 m)
</p><p>Speed: 47 knots (87 km/h; 54 mph) (<span>sea state</span> 3)<span>[3]</span>
</p><p>Range: 3,500 nmi (6,500 km; 4,000 mi) at 18 knots (33 km/h; 21 mph)<span>[4]</span>
</p><p>Endurance: 21 days (336 hours)
</p><p>Complement: 40 core crew, 75 with mission package and air detactchment crew (100 really)


Grandpa Bluewater said...

Under another government, he did very well (Adenaur, after the war). Check his Wikipedia page.

ewok40k said...

I'd bet diamonds against nuts on Glowworm in 1-on-1 fight with LCS...

tps said...

There was another VC that was kind of suggested by a German skipper. During the St Nazaire raid Sgt Thomas Frank Durrant manned an exposed Lewis gun on a motor launch and was wounded many times but kept on firing. He died in a French hospital after the launch was captured by a German destroyer. The destroyer's skipper,  Kapitänleutnant F. K. Paul, met with Sgt Durrant's commander and suggested that he put the man in for a VC.

sid said...

<span>LCS is  not  designed to run away !</span>

I will take the erstwhile RADM Hamilton at his word. Its there for posterity in bold...even though NAVSEA killed the link.

After all...according to ZSME/ASME... we should NEVER question the wisdom of the folks who set the design requirements.

Grandpa Bluewater said...

There is no shortage of good LT's, and while the fair haired political types start to become more prominent at LCDR, the rot isn't deep, deep (apologies to Ms W. Goldberg).

These face two ultimate tests for which individual success can not be guaranteed. The first is combat, combat with the weapons in use at the time. The second is command, command with the weapons and techniques in use at the time. Some pass, some fail, some die. As the war progresses, tactics and strategy must be modified when their flaws become evident.
At some point in every war, the dead wood must be cleared.  The sooner, the better.

The Navy has had a long peace and the undergrowth and bloat of non combat  bureaucratic empires is very thick and overgrown. Almost a decade of war hasn't made much of a dent, because the Navy's role has largely been supporting, and the malign role of the imperial general Joint all intrusive purple Staff has been very bad for the Navy's management of its own affairs.

I see no reason to doubt the kids. Those with 15 years in, well, if history is any guide, not all will survive, or should.

The only thing I can say about hidden unappreciated geniuses currently learning and observing in unappreciated backwaters is, they're out there.

So, hope lives. So keep the faith.

sid said...


You oughtta see the current ripping on the Seine today! Lt B, you would have been impressed by the straight up dangerous standing wave patterns in the lee of the bridges. Actually all who here who have driven a boat would have been, even if most wouldn't call that pattern of turbulent water by its technical name.

Watching them make up to their berths was a study in consumate skill. Y'all would have been seriously impressed at how they were using the currents and wind to their benefit. Even SO (aka "The Admiral" of our toy boat) took notice.

A barge operator who was headed upriver impressed as well. I had to stop as he passed under us as we were crossing the Pont au Change and gingerly swung his stern under us in order to point his bow towards the center of the next span.

The superb seamanship those guys displayed was likely lost on most out braving the raw conditions. But those guys play a high stakes game in that ancient bulkheaded stream and manuevering about that irreplaceable history.

And to think they did it all sans any semblance of TSCE or  an ECDIS!!!

UltimaRatioRegis said...


Nobody doubts the "kids".  The system?  It has turned away from any semblance of warrior mindset.  Grave doubts from some, me included. 

One thing that is as certain as the tides.  When the day of battle comes, the junior leaders will fight precisely how they've been trained.  And that should give pause, for they have been discouraged from thinking of the fight at all. 

When that training proves to be inadequate, will there be enough time, enough ships, and enough leaders to adapt and overcome?  There's the question.

pk said...

if you hung a couple of gross bmg's on the oxx level they might be good for chasing modern day pirates east of africa.

however if a mother ship showed up they might be reduced to throwing potatoes at them.


Grandpa Bluewater said...


campbell said...

Thankyou CDR.  I came late to read this as I travel for holidays.  It was a treat; inspiring, deserving of true reverence.  and, (one can only hope).....emulation.

Retired Now said...

Part 2.

    But, all the old-fashioned readers of this Blog will most likely, continue to oppose brand new ideas like T.S.C.E.  simply because they actually expect some battle damage to occur which might sever the T.S.C.E. ethernet cables.    Non-sense.    LCS will never take a hit.     Why trust a wireless HYDRA portable, battery powered comm set, when you can issue each and every sailor his own laptop to carry around, so that he can log into any one of over 900 ethernet drops onboard a huge ship like LCS-1 ??     Actually, the total number is over 900 BTW.     Can we old, retired taxpayers please have our LCS-1 money refunded ?    HYDRA portable comm's are so simple and reliable to simple call all over the ship and ask that certain systems be powered on or off or reconfigured.     Today's generation just thinks logging into an ethernet port with your laptop is the only way to communicate.   Even on a "war"  ship. 

     Navsea should (every so often) send ( a few ??) of  its 200,000 civil servants out onto a ship and get them away from their nice cozy WASHINGTON DC offices.    The new T.S.C.E. lovers can, of course,  try to spin the above all they want to.    They will correctly state that new mission modules can be connected via the TSCE ethernet into the LCS.   But, over 900 + ??? drop boxes ??   Oh come on !!   On a 370 foot long ship ?? US Navy warships have done quite well in the past 100 years without 900 plus ethernet drop boxes and T.S.C.E.      Both LCS-1 as well as,  DDG-1000 are just  R & D labs that float.     Please don't actually commission USS ZUMWALT  as an active duty Naval vessel !       Let the good admiral's namesake function as a forward looking research and dev. building that can sometimes go underway briefly. 

Retired Now said...

part  1

Apparently,  not too many readers realize that LCS-1 also has a T.S.C.E.     Had it onboard since it was built.     It gives you a fantastic capability never had before on a NAVY WARSHIP:

T.S.C.E. is worth every nickel spent on design and construction and testing:    you can travel all around this tiny LCS and find ethernet boxes everywhere !    You can even go into almost any space from stem to stern, any deck, and see an ethernet box.    That means, practically speaking, that you could be way up forward in frame 10 and find an ethernet box, plug in the handy laptop computer that every LCS sailor constantly has with him, and log into T.S.C.E.    Presto, even though you are at the forward most (pick a name) ______  degaussing control station, for example,  you and your trusty laptop can log into the Total Ship Computing Environment and light off some piece of gear two decks up, and 45 frames further aft.

         On such a "large" ship   :)    as LCS,   this capability could save many steps walking around.   Before I retired from active duty in late 1980's,   I often found myself in the forward supply room at frame 8, wishing that I could light off the wind computer system that was located on the 03 level, midships.    :)    T.S.C.E. is magnificent given that the LCS crew is so large   :)     that every single one of them could easily be issued their very own portable HYDRA radio to use instead of T.S.C.E.  !!

sid said...

Was having some intertube troubles here on the Left Bank...

The first little bit of what I was trying to say didn't make it in above:

The tourboat operators were earning a paycheck today with the wind funneling down the river and that current sluicing with the brick sided channel appearing to make just all the worse. It was a study in consumate seamanship watching them repeatedly make up to their various berths using the wind and currents to their advantage.

Marine6 said...

Wasn't it some Navy guy who said "Give me a fast ship, for I intend to go in harm's way."

ewok40k said...

Just lets hope not many of them will have to test their mettle onboard LCS, because then not even best leadership will help much.

Anonymous said...

TSCE is mainly intended to enable LCS or DDG to quickly add or change equipments, cheaply, without pulling old dedicated cables everywhere.   While this is a great jump ahead thinking about forward fit, the giant oversight was, at least for LCS, the lack of electrical capacity onboard for all these future weapons, etc that can be so painlessly added during future availabilities.

So,  LCS can easily plug in many new systems that are not even invented yet; however, their engine rooms are so remarkably cramped, that nothing can be added in the next 35 year life of the LCS.  In fact, nothing can even be accessed for normal maintenance in the next 35 years.     LCS forgot the basics of what goes on down in the engineering spaces.    It's unmanned and also un-mannable.     

Future thinking was only done by LAN types, and HM&E was locked into present config, which has zero room for growth whatsoever.    LCS may be well armed some day, but it will be perpertually crippled by its severly limited engineering spaces, which were not designed by forward thinkers.

As the new COMNAVSEA admiral likes to say, the Navy needs to become "Brilliant at the basics".    He is so right in his vision for NAVSEA.

LT Rusty said...

I'm looking forward to the day when officers like CAPTs Matthew Bobola & Richard Williams and CDR Lynn Acheson get to wear lots of stars and run things.  And at the same time, I'm dreading the possibility that they might either not get the chance to or might retire in disgust before then.