Friday, October 09, 2015

Fullbore Friday

Imagine a ship that had the following life;
(She) reported to Admiral "Bull" Halsey's Third Fleet and participated in task force strikes on the Japanese mainland near the close of World War II. On August 9, 1945, she fired the final salvo on the home islands of Japan. She rescued two British POWs just before entering Tokyo Bay for the surrender ceremonies on September 2, 1945. From November 1945 until early 1946, she was anchored off Shanghai, China as the flagship of Task Force 73.

During the Korean War, (She) supplied close gunfire support for United Nations troops, conducted gun strikes against enemy supply lines, and rescued downed pilots. She participated in the drive to Chongjin, the Inchon invasion, Wonsan, and the Hungnam evacuation. On July 27, 1953, (she) fired the last salvo of the war, just two minutes prior to the cease fire.
(She) became the first heavy combatant to be permanently homeported in the Orient since the pre-World War II days of the Asiatic Fleet. She operated from Yokosuka, Japan as the Commander Seventh Fleet flagship for more three years. In June of 1960, President Dwight D. Eisenhower embarked on (Her) for a trip from the Philippines to Taiwan. Three weeks later, she became the first Navy ship to raise the new 50 -star flag. She hosted nearly a quarter million visitors during this extended Far East assignment.
On 17 November, she provided gunfire support to the United Nations troops advancing on Chongjin. That day, shrapnel from a near miss by a shell from a Communist shore battery injured six men at gun mount stations. The cruiser destroyed the enemy emplacement with counter-battery fire and continued her support mission.

As the Chinese Communists began massive attacks late in November, United Nations forces commenced a general withdrawal to consolidate and hold south of the 38th parallel. She provided close support for the Republic of Korea I Corps on their east flank as they withdrew from Hapsu, and along the coast, as they retired from Chongjin. On 2 December, she moved north again, conducted night harassing missions above Chongjin, then moved south to support the withdrawal of the Republic of Korea Capital Division to Kyongsong Man. She entered the harbor at Wonsan on 3 December to provide a curtain of shellfire around that city as United Nations forces and equipment were moved to Hungnam; then followed the forces there, and remained to cover the evacuation of that city and harbor between 10 December and 24 December.
From 21 January to 31 January 1951, She conducted shore bombardment missions north of Inchon where, on 26 January, she was again fired upon by shore batteries. On 7 April, in special TF 74, with destroyers Wallace L. Lind (DD-703), and Massey (DD-778), landing ship dock Fort Marion (LSD-22) and high speed transport Begor (APD-127), She helped to carry out raids on rail lines and tunnels utilizing 250 commandos of the 41st Independent Royal Marines. These highly successful destructive raids slowed down the enemy's resupply efforts, forcing the Communists to attempt to repair or rebuild the rail facilities by night while hiding the work crews and locomotives in tunnels by day.

She returned to the United States for yard work at San Francisco, California, from June to September, then conducted underway training before sailing on 5 November for Korea. She arrived off Wonsan on 27 November and commenced gun strike missions. During the following weeks, she bombarded strategic points at Hungnam, Songjin, and Chongjin. In December, she served as an antiaircraft escort for TF 77, and, following a holiday trip to Japan, returned to operations off the coast of North Korea. In April 1952, She participated in combined air-sea attacks against the ports of Wonsan and Chongjin. On 21 April, while the cruiser was engaged in gun fire support operations, a sudden and serious powder fire broke out in her forward eight-inch turret. Thirty men died. Before returning to Japan, however, she carried out gunstrikes on railroad targets near Songjin, during which she captured nine North Koreans from a small boat. Following a brief stay in port and two weeks on the gun line, she headed home and reached Long Beach, California, on 24 June.

On 28 February 1953, She departed the West Coast for her third Korean tour and was in action again by April. In mid-June, she assisted in the recapture of Anchor Hill. With battleship New Jersey (BB-62), she provided close support to the Republic of Korea Army in a ground assault on this key position south of Kosong. The cruiser was fired upon many times by 75 mm and 105 mm guns, and observed numerous near misses, some only ten yards away. But on 11 July at Wonsan, she received her only direct hit from a shore battery. No one was wounded, and only her three-inch antiaircraft mount was damaged. On 27 July, at 2159, she conducted her last gunstrike and had the distinction of firing the last round shot at sea in the war. The shell, autographed by Rear Admiral Harry Sanders, was fired at an enemy gun emplacement. The truce was effective at 2200. She then commenced patrol duties along the east coast of Korea.
In 1963, she was visited by the Secretary of the Navy, the Commandant of the Marine Corps, and the Commandant of The Coast Guard. John Wayne and Kirk Douglas filmed scenes for the movie "In Harms Way" as she steamed from Seattle to Hawaii in 1964.
(Her) second Vietnam deployment began April 3, 1967 when she steamed west from San Diego. It would be seven months and 20,000 rounds later before the Fighting Saint would return. In her 1966 deployment, she had fired more than 10,000 rounds in support of allied troops south of the DMZ. Prior to that it was in Korea that CA-73 had last fired her big guns at hostile forces; and more than 20 years since the "Snooky Poo Maru", as she was affectionately known to her crew, had participated in World War II.
On September 1, 1967, she engaged in her toughest battle of the deployment. Accompanied by two destroyers, she moved in to attack waterborne logistics craft when about 25 coastal defense sites opened fire. She immediately returned the enemy fire and a running batle ensued with shells falling all around the ship.

More than 500 rounds were fired at Her that morning, and one round found its mark. A shell entered near the starboard bow and damaged a storeroom and several staterooms. There were no personnel casualties. Continuously firing, the ship maneuvered to safety and retired to sea for repairs. Working all, night, crewmembers pumped the damaged area dry and welded a patch over the hole. The patch held during high-speed turns, and the next day, "The Fighting Saint" returned to the gunline.

The ship later steamed to Subic Bay for permanent repairs. (She had been in Subic Bay just a month earlier to have all of her 8" guns replaced.) She returned to Sea Dragon where she destroyed six more waterborne craft, two concrete blockhouses, and two costal defense sites. She also heavily damaged railroad yards at Cong Phu and the shipyards Phuc Doi. She was relieved by USS NEWPORT NEWS CA-148 in October and headed to San Diego.
In May 1968, on her third Vietnam deployment, (she) returned to Sea Dragon operations. She picked up right where she had left off, shelling enemy targets on call-fire missions on a round-the-clock basis. She silenced North Vietnamese Army gun positions and sank three 30-foot logistics craft while damaging two 50-foot motorized tugs. The ship again took a brief mid-deployment break for regunning in Subic Bay. In over 1300 missions, she was credited with 380 enemy killed and 800 military structures destroyed or damaged. She was relieved in October by USS NEW JERSEY BB-62 before pointing her bow eastward for San Diego.

During her 130 days on the gunline on this deployment, "The Fighting Saint" fired a total of 64,055 rounds, making a total for the Vietnam conflict of more than 93,000. These figures established the 23-year old CRUISER as "Top Gun", having fired more rounds during a single deployment, and more rounds in all of her deployments, than any other warship.
Although "The Fighting Saint" had been decommissioned by the time the Vietnam conflict ended, she holds the distinction of two famous gunfire "lasts". As a member of Admiral 'Bull' Halsey's Third Fleet, she fired the final round on main home islands of Japan on August 9, 1945. She followed up that notoriety by letting go the last salvo of the Korean War on July 27, 1953, just two minutes before the armistice took effect. In more than a quarter century of service to her country, She earned 18 battle stars and fired more rounds of ammunition than any other United States crusier in history. She hosted eight heads of state. A total of 18 of her commanding officers and executive officers ascended to flag rank.
What a girl. 

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Russian Navy Breaks the Seal

First things first - everyone take a powder.

As I am sure all my readers are very aware;
According to Radio Free Europe, there has been a surprise attack by Russia against targets in Syria, using sea-launched cruise missiles.

The Russian Minister of Defence, Sergei Shoigu, described the incident while speaking in Moscow on October the 7th during a televised meeting with President Vladimir Putin. He said that four boats of the Caspian Flotilla, launched 26 cruise missiles against targets in western Syria, that the missiles all hit their targets and that the mission was successful.

This the first time Russia has launched cruise missiles from a warship platform against land targets in combat.
According to the available information, the frigate Dagestan, the corvettes Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich and Veliki Ustyug are equipped with 2 × 4 UKSK Vertical Launch System cells for eight 3M-14T “Kalibr” missiles (NATO: SS-N-30A).
This was only a matter of time, and we should realize that they just started down a path we first travelled in our first combat use of land attack cruise missiles; 1991.

From yesterday - this should look familiar.

The SS-N-30A is, in many ways, a superior weapon - and more flexible weapon - than our TLAM. This should not be shocking. We have been complacently living off the hard work of the 1970s for awhile.

This action by the Russians is significant, but in this way. We were hesitant in using our TLAM, but when we finally did, we became rather fond of it.

The Russians have broken the seal on its use, and I think they will like it. Why not? For the last quarter century the USN has set a global norm on the use of this one-way armed drone. We have no room at all to argue against it use. None.

Expect more use from Russia of this weapon. They will get an inventory of hundreds to thousands. Western Europe, when it is through converting their churches in to mosques, will have to ponder this capability.

This move was also expected in some circles. Just this August;
Russia is inching closer to the deployment of a new missile that can target all of Europe with nuclear or conventional warheads, according to defense officials.

The new missile, the SS(sic)N-30A, with Russian President Vladimir Putin behind the wheel, has allowed Moscow to reemerge as an existential security threat, Defense Secretary Ash Carter warned Thursday.
The new naval missile, nicknamed the "Kalibr" missile, can be fired with both nuclear and conventional warheads and can put most of Europe in it's cross-hairs when fired from a naval ship in the Black Sea, Pentagon officials stated, noting that the long range version of the missile can reach targets between 620 and 923 miles
Bill Gertz was on it too;
The new supersonic missile is capable of being used to strike targets both at sea and on land.

“This system is about ready to be deployed,” said one official who voiced concerns for U.S. interests and those of allies in Europe. “It allows the Russians to cover most of Europe from the Black Sea on naval vessels.
Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon nuclear strategy expert, said the Kalibr is a capable, supersonic, very accurate nuclear and conventional missile.

The missile is expected to see “a very widespread deployment” on both submarines and surface ships, including the new type 885 Yasen class submarine, older submarines and cruisers, and newer models of destroyers.
That's right Shipmate; roughly six weeks.

From a professional point of view, we should give a nice clap to our Russian Navy counterparts on their first operational use of their Kalibr family of impressive cruise missiles in such a short turnaround.

Huge PR, PSYOPS, INFO OPS act - and a great demonstration of the utility of projecting power at sea.

They learned from us well.

Firing over the Caspian Sea was genius. Out of left field - with a flight path over Iran, Iraq, and Kurdistan before doing the good work in Syria killing Islamic radicals. Strong horse.

Via Sam - let's see what the Kurdish Peshmerga saw ... watch the whole thing.

Let's look at that Caspian Sea Flotilla;
The Russian Caspian Sea Flotilla has two new Gepard-class frigates, Tatarstan and Dagestan, six Buyan-class corvettes (Project 21631), Astrakhan, Volgodonsk, Mahachkala, Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich, Veliki Ustyug, three Buyan M-class corvettes, Grad Sviyazhsk, Uglich, Veliky Ustyug and one Tarantul-class corvette, the MAK-160.
I would refer you to the post here earlier this week. Specifically Dmirty Gorenburg's point;
As for the conventional naval force, the Russian Navy has decided (quite rationally) to focus on rebuilding its coastal defense mission first and foremost. It is building a fair number of highly capable smaller ships in the current rearmament program (i.e. through 2020) that will allow it to fully carry out this mission.
So rather than facing imminent collapse, the Russian Navy is going to continue to grow, but primarily with smaller ships coming in the short term, and larger ships entering the fleet no earlier than eight to ten years from now. What’s more, the new small ships will be well-armed, carrying the latest Oniks anti-ship missiles and Kalibr multi-purpose missiles, both of which can both be fired through universal vertical launch systems.
Let's look at those ships. Ton by ton ... that is an impressive amount of tactical, operational, and strategic effects:

Gepard Class frigate:
Length: 335.1 ft
Displacement: 1,930 tons full load.
Range: 4,000NM @ 10kts
8 × Kh-35 Anti-Ship missiles (two quadruple launchers) or 8 × Kaliber NK ASM (Dagestan)
1 × Osa-M surface-to-air missile system (one twin launcher, 20 SA-N-4 Gecko missiles)
1 × 76.2 mm 59-caliber AK–176 automatic dual-purpose gun (500-round magazine)
2 × 6-barreled 30 mm AK-630 point-defense guns (2,000-round magazine for each)
4 × 533 mm torpedo tubes (two twin launchers)
1 × RBU-6000 12-barreled Anti-Submarine rocket launcher
12–20 mines

This class, mostly aimed at the export market, was originally laid down in the early 90s, though finally completed much later. A few for Russia, and the balance to Vietnam.

Look at her condition ... and at the 00:30 mark ... I have that clock.

This video is a bit more "fun."

Yes, I know - 55% the displacement of an LCS and ... she can do all that.

Buyan M-class corvette:
A more modern ship first laid down a decade after the Gepard class.
Length: 246 ft
Displacement: 949 tons full load.
Range: 2,300NM @ 12kts
Weapons: 1 × 100 mm A-190 [3]
2 × 30 mm AK-630 (AK-630-M2 in 21631)
1 × 40 retractable A-215 "Grad-M" (only 21630)
2 × 4 UKSK VLS cells for 3M-54 Klub (SS-N-27) (only 21631)
1 × 4 3M-47 Gibka (Igla-1M) (2 × 4 in 21631)
1 × DP-65 anti-saboteur grenade launcher
2 × 14.5 mm

3 × 7.62 mm (only 21631)

If you are keeping score, that is 27% the displacement of the LCS-1 Class.

So, there you go.  Well played Russia. Well played. A little "how do you like those apples" moment via the Russian Navy, again from the Caspian Sea Flotilla, if you will pardon the pun - a relative backwater that was last on most people's radar when it had this;

Wednesday, October 07, 2015

What Copybook Heading Awaits the Next War at Sea for the USN?

Things remembered, thing forgotten, things got right - things horribly wrong.

I'm pondering over at USNIBlog. Come visit.

Tuesday, October 06, 2015

два, если они приходят с моря

I think it is safe to say that everyone has caught up with us keeping an eye on Russia. From Crimea through eastern Ukraine we have seen a more assertive Russia on the ground, using an impressive economy of force to gain both influence and attention.

With her deployments to Syria the last few weeks, we have seen her stretch her airforce as well ... and we will see even more of her special forces and "little green men" wearing perhaps a bit more tan.

The next step - what is her navy going to do? Via Sam over at USNINews, we have the latest,
A Black Sea-based Russian surface action group scrambled to the Eastern Mediterranean —under the guise of drilling in the region — are likely there to provide an air defense bubble to protect Russian fighters striking targets in Syria, according to a Russian press report. 
In the last three weeks, several surface combatants have departed the Russian Black Sea headquarters in Sevastopol on the Crimean peninsula for the Mediterranean for an announced series of anti-ship and anti-air drills.

At the time the Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) denied the drills had any connection to the Russian build-up of forces in Syria but reports from independent Russian news wire service Interfax-AVN quoted a military source on Friday saying the exercise was to, “test the efficiency of the system protecting the air base near Latakia from air strikes.” ... Guided missile cruiser and Black Sea flagship Moscow (or Moskva), Krivak-class guided missile frigates Ladny, Pytlivy and Kashin-class frigate (sic) Smetlivy “ ...
Yes, I know. Reads like a Reagan-era RECCE quiz.

Besides making sure the Russian navy gets it facetime - what is going on? What is the Russian game at sea? What are their capabilities?

Last week, CAPT Sean Liedman, USN - our latest Navy-type military fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, provided a little nudge, Vladimir Putin’s Naval Ambitions Have Only Begun;
The Maritime Doctrine of Russian Federation 2020 leads off with the provocative phrase: “Historically, Russia—the leading maritime power…” and goes on to divide Russian naval policy between six regions: the Atlantic, Arctic, Antarctic, Caspian, Indian Ocean, and Pacific. Upon release of the Maritime Doctrine in July, Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin told IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly that “…the Atlantic has been emphasized because of NATO expansion, the need to integrate Crimea and the Sevastopol naval base into the Russian economy, and to re-establish a permanent Russian Navy presence in the Mediterranean.”

That last phrase (“…to re-establish a permanent Russian Navy presence in the Mediterranean”) serves as a clear signal of one of the principal policy objectives of Russian military forces to Syria last week—the preservation of Russian naval access to the Syrian ports of Tartus and Latakia.
One shouldn't think they will let the Russian Army claim credit for that ... much less the Russian Air Force? No. They want to make sure they are off shore and in port.

The Russians cannot do all that much but presence ops for now, but they are not thinking in FY, POM, or election cycles. They have a plan to catch up and get back where they need to be. They will do what they can with what they have left as they rebuild; a 35-yr old cruiser, two 36-yr old frigates, and a 46-yr old destroyer.


I would also offer to you that you should take some time to listen to our friend Dmitry Gorenburg. First from earlier this year at WarOnTheRocks;
The Russian Navy is investing in a time-phased recapitalization of its navy over the next 20 years. Submarines are the first phase, already well under way, followed by smaller surface combatants, then increased amphibious capabilities. The navy is letting recapitalization of cruisers and destroyers slip into the next decade. As such, the availability of large combat ships will decrease in the near term but begin to increase in the medium to long term.
As for the conventional naval force, the Russian Navy has decided (quite rationally) to focus on rebuilding its coastal defense mission first and foremost. It is building a fair number of highly capable smaller ships in the current rearmament program (i.e. through 2020) that will allow it to fully carry out this mission. The corollary of this choice is that building capabilities for the blue water/expeditionary mission has taken a back seat for now. This means that over the next five to ten years, the ability of the Russian Navy to deploy on long range missions will decline somewhat, as the remaining Soviet-era large ships age and become less reliable (with some perhaps being retired). But this is a short-term problem for them. In the medium to long term, the Russian Navy is going to rebuild that capability, with new destroyers currently being designed and expected to start entering the fleet around 2025. It is also planning to build new amphibious ships to increase that capability, also by the middle of the next decade. And there’s a current ongoing debate about building new aircraft carriers, though the first would not be ready until 2030 at the absolute earliest.

So rather than facing imminent collapse, the Russian Navy is going to continue to grow, but primarily with smaller ships coming in the short term, and larger ships entering the fleet no earlier than eight to ten years from now. What’s more, the new small ships will be well-armed, carrying the latest Oniks anti-ship missiles and Kalibr multi-purpose missiles, both of which can both be fired through universal vertical launch systems.
Secondly, if you have some work you need to pretend to do, put your headset on or have this going on in the background - from this July at the Wilson Center in a panel discussion on Russia's Naval Power in the 21st Century .

Sunday, October 04, 2015

What Russia is Doing in Syria

The number of strange opinion pieces, trial balloons and general ponderings about what Russia is doing in Syria and what we should do about it has gotten to a silly point.

If you are looking for the executive summary: first of all, we are way past the point we can really "do" anything about it. Second, the Russians are simply stepping in to put down a marker that they will defend an ally - as it is their desire to do so, it is their pleasure

I don't know what their chosen Course of Action is, how the define their Phases, what their Decisive Points are, etc. In their own Russian way they will follow good military fundamentals.

As such, let's go with what little we know. From the valuable work by ISW, let's look at the map.

Ignore what the Russians say - watch what they do.

With a very modest force and with their own goals - of course they are not reaching all the way to the Islamic State. They have some lines to clean up first.

Before they and most of the Syrian forces could engage IS proper, they need to get rid of the other rebel groups nearby and in their rear. Hey, sucks to be you - but you picked your hill to die on, not the Russians.

Like they have done in eastern Ukraine, the Russians are going to clean up their lines, take critical logistics hubs, and see how much they can get away with for as little effort as possible.

Here is what they also know.
- The USA will do nothing. The Americans will talk a lot and posture, but will do nothing. Their government has no stomach for any of this, and the American people are trying to find their Halloween decorations in the attic.
- The Europeans are too occupied with the hoards of Orcs at their gates and living in their garden. Even if they had the desire, they don't have the ability.
- Iran & China will be helpful, because Russia is humiliating the USA.
- Russia will secure Assad in power in a way that best suits Russia, then they will worry about other things.
- The sun is shining; Russia will make hay.

The Ship that Would Not Die at the Battle of the Coral Sea - on Midrats

Wars are full of accidental battles, unexpected horror, and the valor of ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances.

Often lost in the sweeping stories of the Pacific in WWII, there is a story that - if not for one man's inability to properly recognize one ship from another - should have never have happened. Because of that one man's mistake, and a leader's stubborn enthusiasm to double down on that mistake, the lived of hundreds of men were lost - and possibly the course of a pivotal early battle changed.

Our guest for the full hour live this Sunday from 5-6pm will be author Don Keith to discuss the tale of the USS Neosho (AO-23) and USS Sims (DD-409) at the Battle of the Coral Sea in his latest book, The Ship That Wouldn't Die: The Saga of the USS Neosho- A World War II Story of Courage and Survival at Sea.

Don is an award-winning and best-selling author of books on a wide range of topics. In addition to being a prolific writer, he also has a background in broadcast journalism from on-the-air personality to ownership.

Don’s web site is

Join us live if you can with the usual suspects in the chat room and offer up your questions for our guest, but if you miss the show you can always listen to the archive at blogtalkradio

If you use iTunes, you can add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the iTunes button at the main showpage - or you can just click here.

Listen to internet radio with Midrats on Blog Talk Radio

Friday, October 02, 2015

Fullbore Friday

There is nothing that fits more the description of "unsexy but important" than the fleet oiler.

Hidden in the corners of WWII history is a story that is almost hard to believe is actually true. 

Today we will cover the second part of what we started last week with the story of her escort during the Battle of the Coral Seathe USS SIMS (DD-409)

We are talking about the story of the Pearl Harbor survivor, and in the immediate time following the attack, the only fleet oiler in the Pacfic, the CIMARRON class fleet oiler, U.S.S. Neosho (AO-23).

Sent along with her escort and its gimp engineering plant away from the coming battle - instead, through her distraction she became a critical part of it.

An enemy scout does a poor job and mistakes an oiler and a destroyer as a carrier and a cruiser ... and the full weight of the enemy falls upon them.

I just finished a great book, The Ship That Wouldn't Die: The Saga of the USS Neosho- A World War II Story of Courage and Survival at Sea. The book tells this story in an outstanding way - and this Sunday we will have the author on Midrats to discuss.

Until then, let's go to the official report after the battle. Read it all - especially the officers put on report - but here is the start; 
1). On the evening of May 6, 1942, the Neosho, in accordance with instructions from Commander Task Force SEVENTEEN, proceeded on duty assigned with the U.S.S. Sims as escort, to conform with Commander Task Force SEVENTEEN Operation Order No. 2-42. The Neosho was required to pass through a given geographical point, at one hour after sunrise the following morning, which she proceeded to do. At 0811, May 7, 1942, being in the vicinity of this assigned point and not sighting any ships of the Task Force operating in that area, the Neosho proceeded to carry out instructions.

2). At 0810, May 7, 1942, two planes were observed at a distance of approximately ten miles, bearing 020° T, but no positive identification could be made as they were too far away. It was believed at this time that they were planes from one of our carriers. At 0929, a bomb was seen to fall about one hundred yards on the starboard quarter of the Sims, having been dropped from an enemy plane operating singly. The Sims at that time was patrolling ahead of the Neosho, following a specified zig-zag plan. This plane disappeared heading in a northerly direction. General Quarters was immediately sounded. Battle stations were manned continuously until cessation of the engagement with the enemy at 1218. Speed was increased to eighteen knots. At 1005, sighted approximately fifteen enemy planes approaching from 025° T. These planes made no attempt to attack, but flew parallel to the course of this vessel on the port side at high altitude, well out of gun range and disappeared to the northeastward. The Sims opened fire but no bursts were observed. At 1023, seven more enemy planes approaching from 010° T were sighted. These planes flew parallel to this vessel on the port side, crossed the bow, and disappeared to the northeastward, having made no attempt to attack either the Sims or the Neosho. Sims opened fire shortly after sighting. This vessel commenced firing three inch guns when these planes were within range. At 1033, a group of about ten planes approached from 140° T, of which three planes (twin-engine bombers) commenced a horizontal bombing attack on this vessel, others proceeding to the northeastward. At 1035, these three bombers dropped three bombs simultaneously; the direction of the fall of the bombs was observed closely and the ship was swung hard right to avoid being hit; all bombs fell to starboard and were near misses. These three planes were the only planes observed throughout the entire engagement which were other than single engine.

3). At 1201, observed approximately twenty-four enemy planes at high altitude, apparently taking position for dive-bombing attacks on this vessel and the Sims. From 1201 to 1218, this vessel was subjected to continuous dive-bombing attacks from all directions. The 20 mm fire of the Neosho was very effective. At no time during the engagement did the machine gunners falter at their jobs, notwithstanding the fact that two men were killed instantly right in the midst of the forward group, one of them being decapitated by flying fragments. However, despite any courageous tenacity on the part of the gun crews, it was quite obvious that if a pilot desired to carry his bomb home, he could not be stopped. The greatest majority of the planes diving on the Neosho were forced to deliver their attacks at a high altitude; only three or four dove to within a few hundred feet of the masts. Although the three inch fifty caliber anti-aircraft guns fired throughout the attacks it is difficult to evaluate their effectiveness against the enemy.

4). The constant maneuvering of the ship so as to head crosswind, and the effective fire of the 20 mm guns, is considered responsible for the large number of near misses. Three enemy planes are definitely known to have been shot down by this ship, of which one made the suicidal run into Gun No. 4 enclosure. It is believed that at least four other planes received sufficient 20 mm hits to render their return to base questionable. Three planes were observed to swerve away without completing their attack, due to the effectiveness of the 20 mm gun fire.

5). Shortly after the last bomb dropped, the Commanding Officer ordered all hands to "Prepare to Abandon Ship but not to abandon until so ordered." A messenger sent by the Executive Officer from aft came to the Commanding Officer stating that he had been sent to find out what the orders were regarding abandoning ship. The Commanding Officer told him to tell the Executive Officer, "Make preparations for abandoning ship and stand-by." The Commanding Officer had no knowledge of the condition of the Executive Officer. At about 1230, the Commanding Officer ordered the two motor whale boats to be lowered to pick up personnel who had abandoned ship without orders, and to tow all life rafts back to the ship. All undamaged life rafts, seven in number, had been set adrift without orders from the bridge. The many attacks delivered by the dive-bombers were directed at the bridge, and at the after section of the ship containing the engineering installation. With the exception of the 3" gun crews in No. 1 and No. 2 gun enclosures and the forward ammunition and repair parties, all of the ship's personnel were concentrated in these two sections.

In the immediate vicinity of the bridge, three direct hits and a number of near misses occurred. In the after part of the ship, two direct hits, a suicidal dive of a plane, and the blowing up of at least two boilers, along with several near misses, occurred. It is believed that the destruction of the escort vessel with no other ships in sight, combined with the violent shocks from the several bomb hits and near misses, in many cases rendered personnel incapable of logical thought. It is known that many of the personnel aft, due to the flame resulting from the suicidal dive, smoke, and escaping steam, believing they were trapped with the ship sinking, jumped over the side. The number of men who were critically burned or injured in the after end of the ship, and who jumped over the side, is not known. The two motor whale boats placed men on the rafts and took as many in the boat as the boat officer in each case considered safe. They did not tow the life rafts back to the ship.

When the boats returned to the ship, without life rafts, and loaded in excess of capacity with survivors, many of whom were badly injured and severely burned, it was too near sunset to send them back to attempt to locate, and return with, the drifting life rafts. The sea was rough and it was the Commanding Officer's opinion, as well as that of several officers, that the Neosho probably would not stay afloat throughout the night. The rafts were then out of sight. It was the Commanding Officer's conviction at that time that one of the Task Forces with which this vessel was operating would find the Neosho on the following day, if still afloat, and the rafts would then be located and occupants thereof rescued. A muster upon return of the boats showed that of 21 officers and 267 men, including passengers, on board at quarters that morning, 16 officers and 94 men were accounted for, 1 officer and 19 men were known dead, and 4 officers and 154 men were missing. In addition to the above, there were 15 enlisted survivors of the Sims. During the afternoon the wind had increased to force 5-6 and the sea was moderately rough. In the early afternoon it was difficult to see the life rafts from the bridge with the aid of binoculars, and the boats were seen only intermittently, prior to their return.
You may try to hide from war, but war may not hide from you.