Archive for the ‘Shipwrecks’ Category

The Historic Titanic

March 20, 2012

Scientist Finally Complete Detailed Map of The Wreck Site

RMS Titanic was a passenger liner that sank in the North Atlantic Ocean on 15 April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York City. The sinking of Titanic caused the deaths of 1,517 people in one of the deadliest peacetime maritime disasters in history. She was the largest ship afloat at the time of her maiden voyage. One of three Olympic class ocean liners operated by the White Star Line, she was built between 1909-11 by the Harland and Wolff shipyard in Belfast. She carried over 2,200 people – 1,316 passengers and about 900 crew. The ship was designed to be the last word in comfort and luxury. Due to outdated maritime safety regulations, she carried only enough lifeboats for 1,178 people – a third of her total passenger and crew capacity.

URL Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Titanic

RMS Titanic – Wikipedia     Used under ‘Fair Use’ for historic summary in this article.

Titanic’s Bow

When Titanic sank in the early hours of April 15, 1912, it’s stern and bow sections separated. The two pieces came to rest roughly 2,000 feet apart from one another on the ocean floor, 2.3 miles below the surface of the North Atlantic.

With the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking approaching, a team consisting of scientist, engineers and imaging experts are joining forces to discover “How the “unsinkable’ ship broke apart and sank 2 and a half miles below the ocean’s surface. The ‘Titanic Incident’ event occurred on April 15th, 1912.  On April 15th at 8pm ET, the History Channel is going to air a special “Titanic at 100: Mystery Solved”. This will portain to the mission, capturing of high-tech mapmaking process, unveiling of incredible pieces of wreckage that has never been seen before, and the expedition’s findings will be presented.

Wreck Site Map From 2010 Expedition

A collaboration between various partners, the 2010 expedition to the Titanic wreck site produced the first comprehensive map of the 15-square-mile debris field. AUVs (autonomous underwater vehicles) and an ROV (remote operated vehicle) were used in conjunction to harness cutting-edge 2-D, 3-D and sonar technology.

In 1985, the RMS Titanic wreck was discovered off the coast of Newfoundland. However, even after quarter of a century, nearly half of the wreck had been unexplored. However, during the 2010 expodition, experts equipped with sonar technology and high-resolution cmeras mapped the debris field in its entirety. They captured 15 square miles of the ocean floor llttered with artifacts that are large and small. The previous surveys explored 60 percent of the area, but they left out significant pieces of the sunken ship and limited conclusions regarding Titanic’s sinking to theories, conjecture and land-based studies.

The Deckhouse Debris

The so-called deckhouse debris, a pile of rubble located at a significant distance from the rest of the wreckage, was of particular interest to the analysts during the 2010 expedition. Containing the base of Titanic’s third funnel and surrounding decks, this piece and its location in relation to other elements helped experts reconstruct how the ship broke apart.

The Discovery expedition’s participants generated a map that was not only more complete but m also more precise than earlier attempts. Although there had been dozens of expeditions to Titanic, no prevoius survey has created a comprehensive site survey map of the Titanic wreck site. They only covered a portion of the wreck site, since they could only stay down for so long. Key information was lost, when experts from previous expeditions fused together these disparate slices back on the surface. This included the exact locations of artifacts and fragments.

The debris field

This composite image, released by RMS Titanic Inc., and made from sonar and more than 100,000 photos taken in 2010 from the unmanned, underwater robots, shows a small portion of a comprehensive map of the 3-by-5-mile debris field surrounding the stern of the Titanic on the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean. Picture: AP / RMS Titanic Inc.

Pieces of Titanic’s Double Bottom

Once a single piece encasing the hull, Titanic’s double bottom is thought to have split apart after the ship broke in half. It has otherwise remained relatively intact over the last century.

Titanic’s Stern and Surrounding Debris

A cloud of debris lies beside Titanic’s stern, containing remnants of the galley and upper decks, three baggage cranes, boilers and cylinders, among numerous other pieces. This zone is considered “ground zero” of the sinking, which is thought to have occurred directly above the area.

The “Bigger Piece”

Salvaged in 1998, the 15-ton “Big Piece” is featured in Titanic: The Artifact Exhibition in Las Vegas, analyst dubbed the larger chunk of wreckage encompassing several decks the “Bigger Piece” for this reason.

Cover of Titanic’s Number-One Cargo Hatch

Located at the far edge of the debris field beyond the bow, the cover of Titanic’s number-one cargo hatch is thought to have blown off the ship when water burst out of the bow as it slammed into the ocean floor.

Funnel Remains

The remains of one of Titanic’s funnels have been positively identified, buried in the sand with only the black band around its top having survived. An entire set of whistles is still attached to it.

NOTE: The photos used in this article are used under “Fair Use”, and are an important expression of Free Speech. This blog is a not-for-profit blog, and a hobby.

Robley Dunglison Evans

May 30, 2011

Fighting Bob Evans

Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, 1901.

General:

Robley Evans was the gruff captain commanding the USS Iowa, the U.S.’s largest and newest battleship, at the Battle of Santiago.

Biography:

Robley Dunglison Evans (18 August 1846-3 January 1912) was born in Floyd County, Virginia. At theoutbreak of the Civil War, he was a student at the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis,graduating in 1863 and beginning his active service with the U.S. fleet. He served in the United States Navy from the American Civil War to the Spanish-American War, attaining the rank of rear admiral. In 1907-1908 he commanded the Great White Fleet on its worldwide cruise from the Atlantic Ocean through the Straits of Magellan to the Pacific Ocean.

Naval service

In 1859 Utah Territory delegate William Henry Hooper offered Evans the territory’s nomination to the United States Naval Academy. After establishing residency in Utah, he entered the academy in 1860. Evans was ordered to active duty in September 1863 and graduated from the academy in the class of 1864.
American Civil War service

Early photo

In the attacks on Fort Fisher, North Carolina during the Second Battle of Fort Fisher, he exhibited great gallantry under fire on 15 January 1865. He led his landing party of United States Marines through heavy fire to charge the Confederate defenses. Evans continued to fight even after his fourth wound, drawing his pistol and threatened to kill any man who attempted to amputate his leg in surgery when he was evacuated. |

See: Wasmuth – Historic Ship of the Past

USS Powhatan (Ensign Robley D. Evans and private Henry Wasmuth participated

in the Battle of Fort Fisher in North Caralina from this ship in 1865)

Late in the American Civil War, on the 15th of January, 1865, at 10:40 A.M., a party consisting of 100 seamen and marines left the USS POWHATAN in company with detachments from other ships of the fleet  to attack Fort Fisher, North Carolina,  held by the Confederates.  The men in the naval landing force were all volunteers.  Among them was Ensign Robley D. Evans and private Henry Wasmuth.  As he proceeded toward the fort, Evans was shot in the thigh.  Not letting the painful wound deter him, he wrapped a handkerchief around it and led his men toward the Fort.  In a short span, he was shot several more times. Ensign Robley D. Evans fell wounded from a Confederate sharpshooter’s bullet to the knee. Private Wasmuth picked up the seriously wounded young officer and carried him to a place of comparative safety-—a shell hole on the beach. The private stayed with Ensign Robley D. Evans (the future admiral), ignoring the latter’s urgings to take cover, until a sharpshooter’s bullet pierced Wasmuth’s neck, cutting the jugular vein. Within a few minutes, Wasmuth dropped in the edge of the surf and died (Evans later wrote: “He was an honor to his uniform”).

As the battle continued, and while under severe fire from the fort, Evans and other wounded men were rescued by a detachment from the U.S.S. PEQUOT, led by Acting Ensign Anthony Smalley . The wounded were taken to the U.S.S. NEREUS, then transferred to the SANTIAGO DE CUBA for passage to the hospital at Norfolk.

Because of  his serious wounds, as he lay helpless in the hospital, he was approached by a surgeon who suggested amputation.  Evans pulled out a pistol from under his pillow and said he would shoot at the first sign of a surgeon’s saw.  The surgeon concluded that Evans would die, and did not press for amputation.  Obviously, the young ensign survived. However, these injuries left him with a limp and severe pain for the rest of hislife.  Because of this limp, later in his life, while in command of the Great White Fleet in 1907, he was affectionately known as “ Gimpy Evans” by the crews of the ships under his command.

After the Civil War, because of his injuries, he was medically retired from the U.S. Navy.  After many years, and after appealing to Congress for reinstatement, he was again placed into active duty in the Navy.

”Fighting Bob” Evans

Evans held numerous important sea commands during the 1890s. In 1891 and 1892, commanding Yorktown on the Pacific Squadron, he won great acclaim for his firm and skillful handling of a tense situation with Chile, becoming known as “Fighting Bob” Evans. Though he evidently took pride in his nickname, his reputation for profanity also led to his being chastised by Leonard Woolsey Bacon, pastor of the Congregational Church in Litchfield, Connecticut, in a letter to The New York Times.

The gunboat, U.S.S. YORKTOWN,  arrived in Valparaiso under the command of  the irrepressible Commander Robley D. Evans. Evans made his feelings about the affair quite clear, in very undiplomatic way.  He stated ” [Schley’s] men were probably drunk on shore, properly drunk; which they did on Chilean rum paid for with good United States money. When in this condition they were more entitled to protection [from the Chilean government] than if they had been sober.”

After the departure of the USS Baltimore,  the interests of the United States were guarded by the USS Yorktown under Evans, a determined and forceful man. He attempted to heal the differences by showing courtesy to the people of Chile.  However, according to his writings, his crew members and himself were subjected to insults from the people of Chile.

Evans advised the Chilean officials that he believed that they were incapable of maintaining order on the streets. He suggested that he would arm his crewmen when they were required to go ashore, and have them shoot anyone that threatened them or insulted them.  Evans was getting irritated with the situation and began to become nasty, which was not difficult for him to do.

For instance, one day the Chileans were practicing maneuvers and torpedo
use in the harbor.  In so doing, they came very close to the YORKTOWN, seemingly to intimidate the Americans.  Evans protested.  The president of Chile replied that the Chilean ships could travel wherever they desired in Chilean waters.  At this, Evans stated that the YORKTOWN was the property of the United States government, and if the paint of the ship was so much as scratched, he would sink the offending torpedo boat.

As the two nations argued over the events surrounding the USS Baltimore’s crew, the threat of war became a strong probability.  Robley Evans received a message ordering him to keep his ship full of coal, which led him to wonder, “they regarded me at the [Navy] Department as some kind of idiot.  Of course I [as commander of the YORKTOWN] was full of coal and everything else I should need when the time foraction came”.

On January 23, 1892, the Chilean government sent a message to President Harrison expressing a willingness to pay reparations for the dead and injured sailors.  This led to a cessation of hostile actions and the incident was concluded.

Because of his strong stand against the Chileans, Robley Evans was nicknamed ”Fighting Bob Evans.” Evans later commented that this nickname seemed odd, since, by his actions, he managed to skillfully avoid a fight. Evans, because of hisforthright, if gruff, manner had won the grudging respect of the Chileans.

USS Indiana

The United States’ first sea going battleship, USS Indiana (BB-1) was placed in commission 20 November 1895, with Captain Evans in command. Former President Benjamin Harrison with a committee from the state of Indiana presented a set of silver to Evans for the battleship on 16 September 1896 at Tompkinsville, New York.

Spanish-American War service

During the Spanish-American War he commanded the battleship USS Iowa (BB-4) in the Battle of Santiago de Cuba.

When the Spanish American War began, Captain Robley D. Evans found himself in command of the U.S.’s newest and largest battleship, the USS Iowa. She had only been commissioned less than a year earlier.

On May 12, 1898, the USS Iowa with Evans in command, joined the other ships of the squadron and entered the firing line against the Morro Battery  and theEastern Battery at San Juan de Puerto Rico.  After firing on the Spanish batteries forabout two hours, the fleet discontinued action.  During the course of this event, the USS Iowa was struck by  ashell from the Eastern Battery, which wounded three men and caused some damage on deck.

On the 3rd of July, 1898, the USS Iowa, was in its blockade position at the entrance of Santiago de Cuba. The Spanish ship, Infanta Maria Teresa, AdmiralCervera’sflagship, was sighted coming out of the harbor.  She was followed by the Vizcaya, Cristobal Colon, and the Almirante Oquendo. The USS Iowa headed for the Infanta Maria Teresa and fired at her until she moved beyond range, then the USS Iowa concentrated on the Vizcaya.   The attack then went against the Cristobal Colon and the Almirante Oquendo. Of the Oquendo, Evans commented inadmiration that, in spite of being hit hard, she “pluckily held on her course and fairly smothered us with a shower of shells and machine gun [fire].”

As the engagement continued, the Spanish torpedo boat destroyers Furor and Pluton approached and were also fired on by the USS Iowa. With fire from the USS Iowa, USS Indiana, USS Gloucester, and other vessels of the squadron, the Furor and Pluton were sunk.  The Oquendo and Maria Teresa were both on fire and sunk by the guns of other American ships.  The USS Iowa continued firing on the Vizcaya until she struck her colors and had run aground.  With other ships of the fleet involved in the pursuit of the escaping Cristobal Colon, Evans chose to goto the aid of the crew of  the Vizcaya.  The Spanish crewmen, while trying to escape the burning vessel and climb onto the beach, were being attacked by the Cubans.Evans was incensed bythis attack on defenseless men who had fought to the best of their ability. Lowering boats, a landing party was sent ashore to defend the Spaniards against the Cubans. An officer was sent to find the Cuban commander and inform him that “unless they ceased their infamous work,” Evans would turn the immense guns of the USS Iowa on the Cubans themselves. Lt. Cmdr. Wainwright of the Gloucester similarly threatened the Cubans. The combination of forces caused the Cubans to cease their action. The USS Iowa’s crew  rescued Captain Eulate, the commanding officer of the Vizcaya,along with 23 officers and about 248 men of the Spanish crew.  Five dead of the Spanish crew were buried with honors, the wounded were cared for, and the remaining became prisoners of war.   As he always did, Captain Evans included complimentary statements in his reports pertaining to his “admiration for his magnificent crew”.

The USS Iowa had suffered no losses to the crew in the action, something that would have extra meaning to Evans. Serving under him aboard the USS Iowa was his son, a naval cadet.

Shore duty

Robley Dunglison Evans was named president of the Board of Inspection and Survey from February 1901 to April 1902.

Prince Henry of Prussia

President Theodore Roosevelt selected Admiral Robley D. Evans to host His Royal Highness Heinrich of Prussia brother of Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II. 15 February 1902 Admiral Evans, as Commander-in-Chief of a special honor squadron hoisted his flag on the battleship, USS Illinois (BB-7) at the New York Navy Yard. Evans feted Prince Henry during the visit of the Kaiserliche Marine Imperial German Navy. After the departure of the German prince, 28 February 1902, Evans flag was hauled down on Illinois.

Commander-in-Chief – Asiatic Fleet

Admiral Evans transferred his flag from armored cruiser, USS New York (ACR-2) on 4 November 1902 to battleship, USS Kentucky (BB-6) at Yokohama, Japan. 5 December 1903 the Kentucky left Japanese waters for Hawaii. 16 December 1903, the Kentucky arrived at Pearl Harbor Naval Station, Hawaii. Admiral Evans hosted a Christmas dinner for the officers of Kentucky at the Moana Hotel in Waikiki. Evans flagship departed Honolulu for Guam. Kentucky arrived in Cavite, Philippines on 18 January 1904. Admiral Evans called on the new Governor-General of the Philippines, Luke Edward Wright at the Malacanang Palace. Evans flagship departed Manila on 13 March 1904. The Kentucky coaled at Hong Kong and Colombo. Sailing through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean Sea to the port of Naples, Italy. The voyage continued to Gibraltar coaling at Madeira; the flagship Kentucky arrived at the New York Navy Yard, 23 May 1904. Admiral Evans hauled down his flag, 27 May 1904 from battleship, Kentucky.

Commander-in-Chief – North Atlantic Fleet

Robley Evans

31 March 1905, a 13 gun salute was fired by battleship, USS Maine (BB-10) at Pensacola, Florida as the flag of Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, Commander-in-Chief of the North Atlantic Fleet was broken at the main mast. The fleet sailed on 7 May 1905 for Hampton Roads, Virginia. Admiral Evans returned to his Alma Mater the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland on 30 October 1905. The British Fleet under command of His Serene Highness, Prince Louis of Battenberg arrived at Annapolis. 1 November 1905, the Prince visited Evans on Maine. Admiral Evans gave Prince Louis, a tour of the Naval Academy and battleship Maine. A reception by Evans was held later in the week on battleship, Maine for Governor Edwin Warfield of Maryland. Admiral Evans in flagship, Maine sailed on 7 November 1905 from Annapolis to New York. Admiral Evans stayed onboard Maine during repairs from 20 November 1905 to January 1906. After winter quarters in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba on 3 May 1906 Evans returned the fleet to New York. 2 September 1906 Maine anchored next to the presidential yacht, USS Mayflower (PY-1) off Oyster Bay, Long Island. President Theodore Roosevelt came on board Maine to confer with Evans. Admiral Evans in flagship Maine departed New York, December 28 for winter quarters in Cuban waters. 15 April 1907 Evans flagship, Maine returned to Hampton Roads. 16 April 1907 Evans hauled down his flag on Maine and then hoisted it on the battleship, USS Connecticut (BB-18), flagship for the World Cruise.

The Great White Fleet

                    USS Connecticuit (BB-18) ) – Flagship

USS Connecticut steaming at high speed on trials (1906)

The USS Connecticut was Rear Admiral Rodley D. Evan’s Flagship, part of the First Division, of the Great White Fleet.

Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans commanded President Theodore Roosevelt’s “Great White Fleet” of sixteen  battleships on the first leg of its long world cruise. The fleet left Hampton Roads, Virginia on  December 16, 1907,  and after cruising around South America, passing through the Strait of Magellan, and visiting many countries along the way, the fleet, arrived in San Francisco Bay on May 6, 1908.  The cruise was not a good experience for Evans. He had spent most of his time in bed with his pain and illness.

In San Francisco, an enfeebled Evans relinquished  his command to Rear Admiral Charles Mitchell Thomas.  However, Thomas being in ill health was replaced five days later by Rear Admiral Charles Stillman Sperry.  The “Great White Fleet” then continued its triumphant cruise, stopping at ports in countries all around the world,  and verifying that the United States was indeed a world naval power.  Having circled the world, the fleet returned to Hampton Roads on  February 22, 1909.


Rear Admiral Evans commanded the Great White Fleet 16 April 1907 from Hampton Roads, Virginia in its passage from the Atlantic Ocean through the Straits of Magellan to the Pacific Ocean, where he was relieved of command           Rear Admiral R.D. Evans                                in San Francisco, California 9 May 1908 because of ill health.

Great White Fleet

Wisconsin (BB-9)

Post Navy service

He died in Washington, D.C. on 3 January 1912.

Honors

Rear Admiral Evans was entitled to the Civil War Campaign Medal, Sampson Medal and Spanish Campaign Medal.

Two destroyers, USS Evans (DD-78), launched 30 October 1918, and USS Evans (DD-552),launched 4 October 1942, were named in his honor.

Theodore Roosevelt owned a guinea pig named Fighting Bob Evans.

Wasmuth – Historic Ship of the Past

March 27, 2011

USS Wasmuth (DD-338)/(DMS-15)

USS Wasmuth DD-338 (original configeration)  Clemson-Class Destroyer

USS Wasmuth (DD-338/MDS-15) was a Clemson-class destroyer built at the Mare Island Navy Yard, Vallejo, California, launched on September 15th, 1920, and commissioned on December 16th, 1921, Cmdr. W.P. Gaddis in command.

Early Service

Laid down at the Mare Island Navy Yard in August 1919, the USS Wasmuth commissioned into US Navy service in December 1921 as the 146th member of the Clemson Class of Destroyers. Entering service with the US Pacific Fleet after her shakedown cruise, the Wasmuth and her crew spent the spring of 1922 engaged in fleet maneuvers and exercises off San Diego before she was called to port and ordered to decommission in June 1922, and decommissioned on July 26th, 1922. A victim of treaty limitations and defense budget cuts following the First World War, after only six months of routine service.

In reserve at San Diego for the next eight years, the Wasmuth’s almost-new condition found her selected for recommissioning on March 11th, 1930, whereupon she rejoined the US Pacific Fleet. Wasmuth operated as a destroyer for the next decade, participating in an intensive slate of tactical exercises and maneuvers being undertaken by the US Navy in the Pacific.

The Wasmuth made her only departure from the Pacific Ocean in 1934 when she joined Destroyer Flotilla 2 in the Caribbean Sea for exercises aimed at defending the Panama Canal.

USS Wasmuth DMS-15 (after conversion, 1942), converted to high-speed minesweeper (DMS)

With global events in a steady march towards war as the late 1930’s wore on, the United States embarked on a building program aimed at upgrading its Destroyer Force, with newer, more heavily armed and far-ranging destroyers. Which saw the Wasmuth and many of her sisters made obsolete in their designed role as Fleet Destroyers.

Nevertheless, the sheer number of older, but still serviceable Clemson Class Destroyers (flush-deckers) saw many of them, including Wasmuth chosen for conversion to other types of vessels which could benefit from their speed and range. Entering the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard in November 1940, the Wasmuth underwent a major overhaul and conversion into a Chandler Class High-Speed Minesweeper, which saw among other things the removal of her torpedo battery and the upgrade and relocation of her four-gun main battery and an antiaircraft battery of .50-caliber machine guns. In place of her torpedoes, the Wasmuth shipped the winches, paravanes and wiring of her new minesweeping gear. Her conversion completed in April of 1941, the Wasmuth put to sea for training and excercises wearing the hull designation DMS-15 to signify her new role in the Fleet.

World War II

Conducting type training and patrols as a member of Mine Division (MineDiv) 4 through the remainder of the year, the Wasmuth and her crew maintained an increasingly tenuous neutrality patrol assignment around the Hawaiian Islands, as relations between the United States and the Empire of Japan deteriorated. Anchored in a nest with her MineDiv 4 sistership in the North Loch of Pearl Harbor on the morning of December 7th, 1941, the Wasmuth and her crew entered the Second World War with the rest of the US Pacific Fleet as they came under massive aerial surprise attack. Going to general quarters, gunners on the Wasmuth sent up over 6000 rounds of .50 Cal fire at their attackers during the raid, and were credited with the downing of one Aichi D3A-1 “Val” before their ship was able to get underway and clear the harbor. Spending several nervous days actively patrolling the area around Oahu for anemy contacts, the Wasmuth and her sisters operated around the Hawaiian chain and between Johnston Island and Pearl Harbor conducting patrols and escorting convoys into the spring of 1942.

USS Wasmuth DMS-15 (after conversion, 1942) Stern View

Later Service

After a brief stopover in the mainland US while escorting a convoy back and forth to Hawaii in mid-1942, the Wasmuth stood out of Pearl Harbor for Northern Waters in August 1942, arriving in her new operating area of Alaska where she joined Task Force 8 at Kodiak. Once again assigned to patrol, escort and minesweeping duties, the Wasmuth and her crew operated in their inhospitable new theatre through the fall and into the winter of 1942, supporting US Forces operating across the far-flung Aleutian Islands. After forming up with a Westbound merchant convoy at Dutch Harbor around Christmas Day 1942, the Wasmuth put to sea escorting the force around midday on December 26th, bound for Adak. Less than a day after the convoy set out, the Bering Sea began to lash the force with increasing winds and seas as it passed North of Atka, slowing the entire convoy as it labored through the storm. Forced to take the seas from its Starboard Bow, the entire convoy was rolled and tossed about by the wind-driven waves, with the smaller escorts like the Wasmuth having the hardest time of it.

Several hours of heavy rolls and blue water crashing over her deck and superstructure began to take their toll on the Wasmuth’s topside fittings, and with her entire complement ordered below decks for safety there was likely no notice that the heavy seas were wrenching the gates of her stern-mounted depth charge racks loose. Shortly before midday on December 27th one of the gates failed and allowed two of the armed ready charges to roll off the rack and into the sea, where they began their descent to their set detonation depth. With the speed of the convoy barely enough to make headway against the swell, the Wasmuth was essentially still on top of the two depth charges when they went off, sending a shockwave to the surface with lifted the Stern of the 1,215 ton ship clear out of the water before it came crashing back down with enough force to wrench her entire fantail free of the ship. With her watertight doors secured and the ship in essentially battle-ready condition due to the severity of the storm, the Wasmuth was likely spared rapid flooding and sinking from the massive damage sustained by the ship, however with no rudders and damaged propellers and shafts she was no longer controllable and at the mercy of the storm. Fortunately for her crew, the ship turned bow-into the wind and swell which allowed damage control parties aboard her to set up her emergency pumps and secure any areas where she was taking on water.

Fate

For three hours the Wasmuth’s crew fought to save their vessel in a full gale in the Bering Sea, however it became clear the pumps were not holding out against the inrushing water. All non-essential crew were ordered off the foundering Wasmuth and were transferred by highline to the US Navy Tanker USS Ramapo (AO-12), which in itself was an incredibly dangerous undertaking. Roughly three and a half hours after the explosion of her depth charges, the Wasmuth’s Stern was completely submerged and allowing water to enter her internals through deck fittings and portholes. With the ship in imminent danger of rolling or sinking in the Gale, Wasmuth’s Captain passed the order abandon ship and was the last man pulled off the stricken ship onto the Ramapo. After musters revealed that her entire crew and two passengers were safely aboard the Ramapo, the tanker departed the area and left the Wasmuth to her fate.

The following morning the still-floating Wasmuth was sighted by a patrolling aircraft with her decks awash and only her bow superstructure and portions of her midship still above the surface. When a midday patrol was conducted in the same area, only an oil slick remained on the surface, indicating the Wasmuth had lost her battle with the sea in this general area on December 29th, 1942.

For her actions in the Second World War, USS Wasmuth received one battle star.

About Wasmuth

While I have the last name Griffin, from my father, his mother’s maiden name was Wasmuth. The ship was named after Henry Wasmuth, a 19th century ancestor on her side of the family.

Henry Wasmuth – was a United States Marine during the American Civil War. Born in Germany in 1840, but later a naturalized American citizen – enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on June 11th, 1861. Ultimately attached to the Marine detachment of the sidewheeler Powhatan, Wasmuth took part in the assault on Fort Fisher, N.C., on January 21st, 1865.

During the battle, Ensign Robley D. Evans, AKA: “Fighting Bob” Evans fell wounded from a Confederate sharpshooter’s bullet. Private Wasmuth picked up the seriously wounded young officer and carried him to a place of comparative safety – a shell hole on the beach. The private stayed with the future admiral, ignoring the latter’s urgings to take cover, until a sharpshooter’s bullet pierced Wasmuth’s neck, cutting the jugular vein. Within a few minutes, Wasmuth dropped in the edge of the surf and died. He died at the age of 24 or 25 years old. Evans later wrote: “He was an honor to his uniform”.

Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans

According to http://4mermarine.com/USMC/CWMarines.html and several other webpages, Henry Wasmuth held the rank of Corporal (2 chevrons), which is the rank above private (one chevron). There were many Corporals on the front lines, during the Civil War.

Robley Dunglison Evans  (AKA: “Fighting Bob Evens”)

Henry Wasmuth

Second Battle of Fort Fisher

Great White Fleet

Namesake

USS Wasmuth (DD-338) was named for him.

Construction of the USS Wasmuth

California Governor W. D. Stephens speaks at the keel laying of the USS Wasmuth on 12 August 1919 at Mare Island Naval Yard. Honorary keel layers were Miss E. V. Avison and Miss G. E. Bean (riveters), Miss M. G. Young (holder on), and Miss J. M. Kramer & Miss E. Barton (rivet passers). All the keel layers were draftsmen at Mare Island Navy Yard.

Photo of California Governor W. D. Stephens at the keel laying of the USS Wasmuth at Mare Island Navy Yard 12 August 1919.

Workmen are seen placing the keel of USS Wasmuth on 12 August 1919 at Mare Island Navy Yard immediately after the launching of USS Litchfield from the same building ways.

Bow view of the USS Trever and USS Wasmuth on the building ways at Mare Island Navy Yard on 2 August 1920.

Bow view of the USS Trever and USS Wasmuth on the building ways at Mare Island Navy Yard on 2 August 1920.

Miss Gertrude E. Bennet (Sponsor) is shown christening the USS Wasmuth on 16 Sept 1920 at Mare Island Navy Yard.

At sea circa 1930. Photo from the collection of the Vallejo Naval and Historical Museum.

Circa 1921-1922.

Balboa Harbor, Panama Canal Zone. Aerial photograph taken 23 April 1934, with U.S. Fleet cruisers and destroyers moored together. Ships present include (left to right in lower left): USS Elliot (DD-146); USS Roper (DD-147); USS Hale (DD-133); USS Dorsey (DD-117); USS Lea (DD-118); USS Rathburne (DD-113); USS Talbot (DD-114); USS Waters (DD-115); USS Dent (DD-116); USS Aaron Ward (DD-132); USS Buchanan (DD-131); USS Crowninshield (DD-134); USS Preble (DD-345); and USS William B. Preston (DD-344). (left to right in center): USS Yarnall (DD-143); USS Sands (DD-243); USS Lawrence (DD-250); (unidentified destroyer); USS Detroit (CL-8), Flagship, Destroyers Battle Force; USS Fox (DD-234); USS Greer (DD-145); USS Barney (DD-149); USS Tarbell (DD-142); and USS Chicago (CA-29), Flagship, Cruisers Scouting Force. (left to right across the top): USS Southard (DD-207); USS Chandler (DD-206); USS Farenholt (DD-332); USS Perry (DD-340); USS Wasmuth (DD-338); USS Trever (DD-339); USS Melville (AD-2); USS Truxtun (DD-229); USS McCormick (DD-223); USS MacLeish (DD-220); USS Simpson (DD-221); USS Hovey (DD-208); USS Long (DD-209); USS Litchfield (DD-336); USS Tracy (DD-214); USS Dahlgren (DD-187); USS Medusa (AR-1); USS Raleigh (CL-7), Flagship, Destroyers Scouting Force; USS Pruitt (DD-347); and USS J. Fred Talbott (DD-156); USS Dallas (DD-199); (four unidentified destroyers); and USS Indianapolis (CA-35), Flagship, Cruisers Scouting Force. Official U.S. Navy Photograph, now in the collections of the National Archives.

Wreck of USS WASMUTH

USS WASMUTH was a Clemson-class destroyer, and a total of 156 destroyers of this class were constructed. One of her sister ships, the USS CORRY DD-334, was another destroyer of the Clemson-class, and her current condition, is an indicator, as to the current condition of the wreck of the USS WASMUTH DMS-15 (FKA DD-338). Research as to her location turned up the following:

Wreck of USS CORRY
Longitude & Latitude for USS CORRY (DD-334): 38°10′0.47″N 122°17′14.87″W

Wreck of USS CORRY DD-334   ACME Mapper 2.0 – 7.5 km NxNW of Vallejo CA

Accessing satellite imagery, using the Longitude and Latitude (information that pertains to the location of USS CORRY DD-334), results in obtaining this high-resolution satellite image of the USS CORRY (DD-334).

After being decommissioned, at the Mare Island Navy Yard, USS CORRY DD-334 was stripped and sold for salvage on October 18th, 1930 in accordance with the terms of the London Treaty for the limitation of naval armament. The partially dismantled USS Corry’s remains, consisting of most of her hull and a small portion of her superstructure, were sold. Taken about a mile from the Mare Island Navy Yard, she sunk in shallow water in the Napa River, about a mile from the Mare Island Navy Yard, she was later abandoned at that location.

The USS CORRY DD-334 has been partially submerged, for approximately 5 decades.
Most, if not all of the wreck, is now composed of rust. The ship is partially flooded, and areas of the ships outer skin have curroded away. This is the process, in which a wreck is or has converted into an iron ore deposit.

USS WASMUTH DMS-15 (FKA D-338) had been sunk in deep water near Alaska, since 1942, and the damage that sunk her, broke off part of the aft section. She broke in two pieces, and the primary portion of the ship stayed afloat, much longer than the aft, which sunk when it broke off. The aft section that broke off, could be miles apart from the wreckage of the main ship. The USS WASMUTH DMS-15 (DD-338) has been on the ocean surface, in deep water (high tonnage per square inch) for nearly 70 years. The metal would be half as thick as when it sank in 1942, and would be all rust.

The decay rate, the process of rusting, to become an iron ore deposit, would be much more rapid for USS WASMUTH, as it sunk in deep water, while the USS CURRY (D-334) was only partially sunk, in shallow water. The outer skin of USS WASMUTH would now be gone. What is viewable would be severely rusted-out.

Update:

The anchor from U.S.S. Wasmuth had been recovered by the US Navy at some point in the past, and is on display at M.I.T., although I don’t know when it was recovered. But it appears to be in great shape.

Anchor from U.S.S. Wasmuth is at M.I.T.

U.S.S. Wasmuth Dedication Plaque at M.I.T.

Clemson-Class Destroyer

The Clemson-class was a series of 156 destroyers which served with the United States Navy from after World War I through World War II.

Rear Admiral Robley Dunglison Evans,

the Great White Fleet

and the

USS Wisconsin (battleship #8)

Rear Admiral Robley D. Evans, (1901).

USS Wisconsin, Fourth Divisional Flagship, Great White Fleet (1901).

The Great White Fleet was the popular nickname for the United States Navy battle fleet that completed a circumnavigation of the globe from December 16th, 1907 to February 22, 1909 by order of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt. It consisted of 16 battleships divided into two squadrons, along with various escorts. Roosevelt sought to demonstrate growing American military power and blue-water navy capability.

There is a lot of historic information, and since it is another subject matter, that pertains to the historic importance of the Great White Fleet, and Rear Admiral Rodley D. Evans role in that historical event.  As previously mentioned, Henry Wasmuth (an ancester of mine), was born in Germany, naturalized as a U.S. citizen,  joined the Marine Corps in 1861, saved the life of then Ensign Rodley D. Evans (nicknamed “Fighting Bob Evans”) during the Civil War during the Assault on Fort Fisher, at the cost of the life of Henry Wasmuth,  Henry Wasmuth was shot in the jugular vein, by a confederate sharpshooter.

For more information regarding the Great White Fleet, click on the link below:

Great White Fleet

Milwaukee, Wisconsin and Edmund Fitzgerald

March 26, 2011

SS Milwaukee

SS Milwaukee, the famous car ferry.

The Car Ferry MILWAUKEE. On October 22, 1929, the car ferry MILWAUKEE became one of Lake Michigan’s most famous shipwrecks when she floundered during a gale en route from the City of Milwaukee to Grand Haven, Michigan under the command of Captain Bob “heavy weather” McKay.

Subsequently, it was not uncommon for the Milwaukee to sail in heavy weather. Because the car ferrys were huge vessels with reinforced hulls, they were thought to be unsinkable. She lost this battle with the storms and the lives of 52 people were lost with her. Today she lies about four miles northeast of the North Point Lighthouse.

SS Wisconsin

SS Wisconsin, steel freighter

The steamer Wisconsin was a steel freighter of 215 feet in length. On the night of October 29, 1929 off of Kenosha, Wisconsin, the Wisconsin’s cargo of iron castings, automobiles, and boxed freight shifted during a north gale. The ship’s pumps could not keep up with the incoming water. The tug Search, two Coast Guard vessels, and a local fishing boat came to assist and take passengers aboard. While waiting for her running mate, the Illinois, to come from Milwaukee to tow the Wisconsin to Kenosha port, she suddenly plunged beneath the pounding waves. Nine crew members went down with her, including the captain who was pulled from the water but died later on shore. The same day the stock market crashed in October of 1929, the steamer S.S. Wisconsin sank. Black Friday, they called it. Financers took their own lives, destroyed by the stock market crash that began the decade-long Great Depression.

Today, the Wisconsin lies in 90 to 130 feet of water, 6.5 miles east-southeast of Kenosha in 130 feet of water. The superstructure is gone with I-beams and supports remaining. Inside the wreck much machinery, and cargo can still be seen along with three automobiles, a Hudson, Essex, and a Chevrolet touring car.

SS Edmund Fitzgerald

Edmund Fitzgerald in the Great Lakes

SS Edmund Fitzgerald (nicknamed “Mighty Fitz,” “Fitz,” or “Big Fitz”) was an American Great Lakes freighter. It was known for its size and became famous after sinking in a Lake Superior storm on November 10, 1975, with the loss of the entire crew. At the time of its launch on June 8, 1958, the Fitzgerald was the largest boat on the Great Lakes and remains the largest boat to sink in the Great Lakes. It was one of the first boats to be at or near Maximum St Lawrence Seaway size which was 730 feet (222.5 meters) long and 75 feet (22.9 m) wide. The Fitzgerald was a record-setting “workhorse”, often breaking its own records. For 17 years the Fitzgerald carried taconite from mines near Duluth, Minnesota, to iron works in Detroit, Toledo, and other ports, setting seasonal haul records six different times.

The Fitzgerald departed on its final voyage on Lake Superior from Superior, Wisconsin on the afternoon of November 9, 1975, under the command of Captain Ernest M McSorley. It was en route to a steel mill near Detroit, Michigan, with a full cargo of taconite ore pellets, and joined a second freighter, the Arthur M. Anderson. By the next day they were in the midst of a massive winter storm with near hurricane-force winds and waves as high as 35 feet (11 m). Shortly after 7:10 p.m., the Fitzgerald sank suddenly in Canadian waters approximately 17 miles (15 nautical miles; 27 kilometers) from the entrance of Whitefish Bay at a depth of 530 feet (160 m). Although it had reported having some difficulties before the accident, the Fitzgerald sank without sending any distress signals. Its crew of 29 perished in the sinking and no bodies were recovered.

When the wreck was found by aircraft on November 14, it was discovered that the Fitzgerald had broken in two. The cause of its sinking is the subject of many theories, books, studies and expeditions. Each theory includes the large waves of the storm combined with additional factors such as structural failure, taking on water through the cargo hatches or deck, topside damage, failure to secure the hatch covers, and shoaling.

The sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald is one of the most famous disasters in the history of Great Lakes shipping. The disaster was the subject of Gordon Lightfoot’s 1976 hit song, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.