News from navy - History

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Age is Just a Number
PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- 3, 2, 1... "Beep." As the timer begins all you hear are his shallow breaths, sweat begins to form on his brow and his shoes grip the non-skid. It's time to give it all he has, ignore the pain and push until his body demands rest. This is just another day in the life of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97's Command Master Chief Jesse Cook.

At 41 years old, difficult workouts become a normal - even invited - way of life. After 20 plus years serving in the United States Navy, it's more than just a hobby; it's a passion. Master Chief Cook turned himself into an athlete. An athlete that proves no matter the age or setting, whether in the depths of the sea in a submarine or on board a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, nothing will deter his physical capability.

Not even the heart attack that nearly derailed his career at 19-years-old.

"In 1999, I suffered a tachycardia, which put my heart into cardiac arrest. I was diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White Syndrome," said Cook. "I was able to have a corrective procedure and continue my naval service under a medical waiver.

"I have always been into fitness and athletics, such as baseball, cross-country, and soccer," he said. "In 2010 I was introduced to a style of fitness that was functional, intense, and trained you to be ready for the unknown. Every service member has to be ready for the unknown."

Looking at life from a hospital bed and knowing that changes must be made would be challenging for anyone. Cook had to ask himself 'What happens from here? How can I keep this from happening again? What about my family?' Despite the challenge, he was determined to tackle these questions head on, with no excuse and a focused mindset.

"After both my children were born I realized I needed to be around a lot longer," said Cook. "I needed to be sure I would not be decrepit in old age and have to rely on my children for support, so I found my workout."

Cook began to understand his potential, what he could accomplish, and how much he had left "in the tank" to achieve things that he never thought were possible. This motivated him to test his abilities through competition. The Kill Cliff Granite Games provided Cook with the grounds to prove himself. As an unknown competitor and part of a team of three, Cook went into the competition to see what he was made of, have fun, and show others that anything is possible no matter the age.

"I tried out for the Granite Games last year with a friend. I was looking for a high-level competition to prove my hard work had paid off," said Cook. "It did; I qualified as an individual masters athlete [age range 40-45 years-old], but decided to compete in the team competition instead."

The team competition broke down into a series of events spanning a couple of days, giving the athletes a taste of the unknown in every event. Any athlete could come in and win the competition. Cook credits being well-rounded as an athlete as the only factor between finishing on the podium and going home.

Workouts for the team competition consisted of variations of Olympic, powerlifting, and gymnastics movements, all broken up between each team member. All movements have to be done within various time limits and repetition schemes consisting of AMRAP [as many rounds as possible], and one rep [repetition] with maximum weight.

"We went into the competition as an unproven team, but finished the weekend in 11th place overall, which was a huge accomplishment for three unknown athletes," said Cook.

Going into 2018, Cook looks to improve on his performance despite periods of time at sea and an upcoming Carrier Strike Group 3 deployment onboard John C. Stennis. The challenges of preparing for competition while aboard a Navy ship are unique, but are a testament to Cook's determination and fortitude.

"Being on John C. Stennis is very new to me. I have been a submarine Sailor for over 20 years, and right now it's about finding a daily routine where my Sailors and my command's mission come first, then in my spare time, my training," said Cook. "The space is much more than I am used to, but the movement of the ship has its own unique aspect.

"When you have 245 lbs. over your head, any slight movement is felt throughout your whole body. As long as I slowly work to the weights that I am used to, my overall strength and muscle stability will be better for it."

Cook has already begun training to return for the 2018 Kill Cliff Granite Games, which starts with an online qualification process beginning June 13, ending July 2nd. Each week Cook will have to record himself completing a new workout and submit the video for judging. At the end of the three weeks the top 10 athletes in each category are sent invites to the games.

"It would mean the world to qualify for the Granite Games two years in a row. The qualifying field is huge [over 10,000 athletes] and they only take the top 10," Cook said.

Being a positive example for those around him demonstrates the leadership Cook has developed over time. Showing how any dream can be a reality with hard work is something he does not take lightly.

"I believe in being a role model for my Sailors and my children," said Cook. "Having them see me, and supporting me while I am on that stage, presents a lot of positive pressure for me to succeed in any way."

Regardless of his personal accomplishments in fitness, the larger lesson matters to Cook even more. He sees giving his all in competition as a direct correlation to the Navy's mission and his Sailors coming home safely.

"My first priority every day is my crew and my command's mission," said Cook. "What I would like to impress is there is always time to work on anything that you truly love to do. You can always make time for that; mine just happens to be fitness and competition."

Cook believes that pushing his body to the limit, seeing what the human machine is capable of, and testing the limits of his mental toughness has created resilience that has carried throughout multiple areas of his life, not just fitness.

"I like the look on people's faces when they find out my age and rank and they see what I am doing. I do like proving to my Sailors and others around that you can make time to work on your fitness at any level and not have your work or job suffer."

"I still look back and am proud of myself for how far I have come and constantly ask myself, 'how much more do I have? What else can I do?'"

The "Warhawks" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 97 fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet, and are based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. They most recently deployed to the South China Sea with Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 3 aboard the Nimitz-class Aircraft Carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). The Warhawks are currently training in preparation for their next scheduled deployment with CSG 3 in the second half of 2018. The squadron was established in 1967 and has conducted operations around the world.

The United States Naval Academy opens in Annapolis, Maryland, with 50 midshipmen students and seven professors. Known as the Naval School until 1850, the curriculum included mathematics and navigation, gunnery and steam, chemistry, English, natural philosophy, and French. The . read more

It began as a routine naval training exercise. But it would soon become one of the best-documented—and most baffling—UFO sightings of the 21st century. Witnesses included highly trained military personnel—among them several deeply experienced radar operators and fighter . read more

US navy: for first time in history four women of color command war ships

The navy noted all four women ‘have spent a considerable amount of their time serving aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and in nuclear-related shore duty billets’ Photograph: Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Tarleton/EPA

The navy noted all four women ‘have spent a considerable amount of their time serving aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and in nuclear-related shore duty billets’ Photograph: Petty Officer 3rd Class Jason Tarleton/EPA

Last modified on Mon 5 Apr 2021 15.44 BST

Four US navy officers have made history this week – and breaking new ground in a traditionally white and male-dominated field.

For the first time in US navy history, four women of color are now commanding warships at the same time, NBC News has reported.

The four officers, Kimberly Jones, LaDonna Simpson, Kristel O’Cañas, and Kathryn Wijnaldum, recently said that there have been dramatic changes for women serving in the navy over the years.

The navy “looks different in the fact that as an ensign, I looked around and at that time, there were not many senior female officers that I could necessarily go to for gender-specific questions”, Jones, who joined the navy more than two decades ago, remarked in an interview clip obtained by People magazine.

“I may not have felt comfortable asking my male boss,” Jones also said. “Now, to their credit, they were phenomenal leaders. However, when it came time [for] some of those more intimate conversations on how to plan your career with a family, as a mom, that did not exist.”

She added: “And I was overseas, so the population was slightly smaller. And now walking this waterfront, there are leaders, there are role models, at every rank … That is something that I hope ensigns, young sailors, gravitate towards and take advantage of.”

These four women are all based at Norfolk naval station, in Virginia. They are all “Nuclear Surface Warfare Officers” – a qualification which is “extremely competitive” to obtain, according to the US navy.

All four women “have spent a considerable amount of their time serving aboard nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and in nuclear-related shore duty billets”, the navy noted.

Simpson said that while she was never discouraged from going after her career goals, she did not have many female role models.

“The navy has been very supportive of my journey and my professional training. There weren’t any voices in the navy that said that I could not achieve this goal,” Simpson said. “The only limitation was the fact that women as a whole hadn’t been on board combatant vessels until, I believe, it was 1994.”

In early 1862, the Union and the Confederacy were locked in one of the most influential arms races of the Civil War. While their navies still relied on wooden ships, both sides had gambled on building revolutionary “ironclad” vessels that boasted steam engines, hulking cannons . read more

Under the cover of darkness in the early morning hours of May 19, 1941, the most formidable battleship to have ever been built slipped into the Baltic Sea on its maiden voyage. An ocean-bound castle, the thickly armored Bismarck was the first full-scale battleship constructed by . read more

USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker: June 21, 2021

These are the approximate positions of the U.S. Navy’s deployed carrier strike groups and amphibious ready groups throughout the world as of June 21, 2021, based on Navy and public data. In cases where a CSG or ARG is conducting disaggregated operations, the chart reflects the location of the capital ship. Read More &rarr

Standoff unfolds between Wisconsin and U.S. Navy over statue of a badger

There's a statuary standoff unfolding between the state of Wisconsin and a branch of the U.S. military.

The USS Wisconsin is no stranger to strife. The carrier's 16-inch guns pounded Japan during World War II, and the battleship sailed into the fight during the first Gulf War. But now, the ship finds itself in a battle over a badger-sized piece of history.

For more than 30 years, a statue of a badger that features the state motto has been on display in the state Capitol in Madison.

"It did not surprise me at all that this has become quite, quite a thing of contention and that people are pretty upset about it," historian Erika Janick told CBS News' Kris Van Cleave.

It belongs to the Navy, but since 1988 it has sat outside the governor's office in the state Capitol where visitors rub its nose for luck.

"There are generations of people who remember going to the Capitol, touching the badger's nose they just have a connection to it. And so it wasn't surprising at all that the state doesn't really want to give it back," Janick said.

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Badgers are a big deal in Wisconsin. In the state's early days miners digging in the ground were compared to badgers. It became the state animal, the namesake of the University of Wisconsin football team, and its mascot Bucky Badger.

The badger statue was part of the original USS Wisconsin, a battleship that was scrapped after WWI. Then came another USS Wisconsin, built during WWII, the very last battleship the U.S. Navy ever made. And it could soon be the badger's new home.

The statue was crafted more than a century ago by a Milwaukee sculptor from melted-down cannon balls taken from Cuba during the Spanish-American war. It was made specifically for the original World War I-era USS Wisconsin.

When that ship was scrapped, the badger moved to the United States Naval Academy before being loaned to the state of Wisconsin for a temporary exhibit in 1988 about the same USS Wisconsin that's hoping to soon display the statue.

But ask Wisconsin lawmakers, and they find rare bipartisan agreement on where this badger should burrow.

"Were you surprised by the outcry in Wisconsin?" Van Cleave asked

"A little bit, yeah, a little bit. But I totally understand it. This is a source of pride for the Badger State," Stephen Kirkland said.

He runs the Nauticus Museum in Norfolk, Virginia, home to the USS Wisconsin, now a floating exhibit that hosts more than 370,000 visitors a year.

"We want to use the statue not just to tell the story of the badger and the statue and the history behind it, but tell the story of this battleship and its heritage and its namesake and the state it's named for," Kirkland said.

The Navy approved the museum's application to exhibit the statue. They plan to display it prominently in the wardroom, a key stopping point for tours.

But at the urging of Wisconsin's congressional delegation, the Naval Academy Museum extended the loan to the state for two more years.

"I can't imagine where it would get more use. If you don't have Bucky Badger as your mascot, I don't know if it would be as popular in any other in the country," Pocan said.

But the Navy says they don't do forever loans, so this badger is likely heading to the floating Wisconsin sooner or later.

"Would you be open to a shared custody agreement?" Van Cleave asked.

"Absolutely. Absolutely. We want to do this prudently. And with the greatest of respect. . You know, the old adage, don't poke the bear. No one ever told us, don't poke the badger," Kirkland said.

The History of Navy Rank (or Rate): Enlisted Personnel

To outsiders, especially members of the non-maritime services, the U.S. Navy’s unique rank structure can be confusing. The history of Navy ranks is equally complicated, and includes an assortment of ranks that no longer exist and some that have disappeared, reappeared, and disappeared again! In this part of a three-part series, we look at the evolution of the Navy’s warrant officer ranks. The other posts in the series discuss officer ranks ( and enlisted rates and ratings (

Modern warrant officer ranks trace their origins back to medieval England. As early as 1040, warships furnished to King Edward the Confessor included crews with permanent officers designated master, boatswain, carpenter, and cook. These officers were in charge of the sailing and maintenance of the ship, while the captains’ and lieutenants’ sole purpose was to command soldiers carried onboard and to lead their troops during combat.

By the fifteenth century, the captains and lieutenants began taking over the executive operation of the ships. Eventually they were considered naval rather than army officers, but a distinction was maintained between officers holding commissions and those holding warrants. Commissioned officers held a commission from the monarch authorizing them to exercise command of naval vessels and personnel. Warrant officers, on the other hand, held a warrant – derived from the French word warant, meaning variously a protector, a defense, and an authorization – issued by the admiralty.

Unlike commissioned officers, whose purpose was to command ships and Sailors, warrant officers were expert seamen who possessed special skills that were essential to the operation of sailing ships. In recognition of this expertise, these men received warrants to distinguish them from enlisted seamen and to confer lawful authority upon them, while not conveying the responsibility of command that was exercised by commissioned line officers. Although United States Navy warrant officers are now legally considered commissioned officers as well, their traditional role as expert technical specialists continues to this day.

Much like early commissioned officer ranks, Continental Navy warrant officer ranks were quite simple when established in 1775. The Continental Navy mirrored the British Navy’s rank structure at the time, and warrant officer ranks reflected the specialized knowledge required to keep a warship in operation: master (an expert navigator), purser, second master, surgeon’s mate, cook, “armourer,” gunsmith, master-at-arms, and sailmaker comprised the warrant ranks authorized by the Continental Congress.

Also like commissioned officer ranks, warrant ranks underwent considerable change during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with the same ranks classified at various times as enlisted, warranted, or commissioned. When the United States Navy was reestablished in 1794, the authorized warrant officer ranks were sailing-master, purser, boatswain, gunner, sailmaker, carpenter, and midshipmen. In contrast to the Continental Navy, the 1794 legislation considered cooks, armorers, gunsmiths, and masters-at-arms to be enlisted petty officers, while surgeon’s mates were considered commissioned officers. Legislation in 1813 made pursers commissioned staff officers and established master’s mates as warrant officers, although Navy registers did not list master’s mates as warrant officers at any time thereafter. In 1837 the title of master replaced that of sailing-master, and by at least 1838 master’s mates were definitely considered an enlisted rate.

Unlike commissioned officer ranks and excepting sailing-masters and master’s mates, until 1899 the warrant officer corps did not have an internal rank structure, with all warranted ranks equal to one another and subordinate to the commissioned officers of the ship. One minor and short-lived distinction between masters “in line of promotion” and masters not in line of promotion began in 1855.

Midshipman was a warranted rank in the pre-Civil War Navy and beginning in 1819 midshipmen were required to pass an examination to qualify for promotion to lieutenant. Masters in line of promotion were drawn from the ranks of those midshipmen who had passed their examinations. As vacancies occurred, these masters were then promoted to the commissioned office of lieutenant. An 1862 overhaul of the Navy’s rank structure eliminated the warrant officer rank of master, and it was converted into an officer rank below lieutenant and above ensign. This wartime legislation also ended midshipman as a warranted rank. Boatswains, gunners, carpenters, and sailmakers were the only warrant officers retained between the Civil War and 1898.

Around the turn of the twentieth century warrant officer ranks began to grow again. The first new warrant rank was that of pharmacist, created in 1898 with the legislation that established the Navy Hospital Corps. In 1899, Congress created the ranks of chief boatswain, chief gunner, chief carpenter, and chief sailmaker, who were to be commissioned and rank “with but after ensign.” Warrant officers could be promoted to chief warrant officer ten years after their date of rank and upon passage of a board of examination. The legislation automatically promoted currently serving warrant officers with fifteen years in-grade. For the first time, chief warrant officers appeared in the Navy and a warrant officer’s rank was no longer synonymous with his specialty.

The same legislation also created warrant officer machinists to help meet the modernizing United States fleet’s increasing requirements for mechanical expertise. Legislation in 1904 reduced the time in-grade requirement for promotion to chief warrant officer to six years, and after 1909 all warrant machinists were commissioned as chief machinists. This legislation increased the warrant officer corps to 10 ranks in six specialties.

As the Navy approached the First World War, warrant officer ranks and specialties continued to expand. Warrant pay clerk was established in 1915, with promotion to chief pay clerk possible after six years in-grade. The chief pharmacist rank was created the following year. Remnants of the age of sail began to disappear: the last chief sailmaker left active Navy service in 1918, although Chief Sailmaker Charles E. Tallman remained on the retired list until 1934. With the increase in shipboard electricity and radio communications, electrician, chief electrician, radio electrician, and chief radio electrician joined the warrant officer corps in 1925. On the eve of the Second World War, the Navy had 15 warrant officer ranks in eight specialties.

After the United States’ entry into the Second World War, eight new warrant officer ranks were created: torpedoman, chief torpedoman, ship’s clerk, chief ship’s clerk, photographer, chief photographer, aerographer, chief aerographer. Although some of the roles of these new specialties had been previously carried out by Sailors in other fields – gunners had formerly done the duties of the new torpedomen, for instance – the Navy recognized that the rapid acceleration of technological change and the increasing specialization required for technical fields demanded a growth in the warrant officer corps. By 1948, there were 12 warrant officer specialties: boatswain, gunner, torpedoman, electrician, radio electrician, machinist, carpenter, ships clerk, aerographer, photographer, hospital corpsman (formerly pharmacist), and pay clerk. The Career Compensation Act of 1949 established the pay grades of warrant officer-1 through chief warrant officer-4, for the first time expanding warrant officer grades beyond simply warrant officer and chief warrant officer in a given specialty.

On the recommendation of a board convened by the Chief of Naval Operations, the Navy decided to phase out warrant officers beginning in 1959. This decision was spurred by two developments: the establishment of the limited duty officer (LDO) program in 1947 and the creation of senior chief (SCPO/E-8) and master chief petty officer (MCPO/E-9) rates in 1958. LDOs are commissioned officers with special technical training, who exercise authority and responsibility greater than that expected of warrant officers, but whose career path is outside the normal pattern for line officers. The board concluded that between the new senior enlisted ranks and the creation of LDOs, warrant officers no longer had a role in the Navy.

These beliefs did not pan out. Over time it became evident that E-8s and E-9s lacked the statutory authority necessary to carry out the duties formerly belonging to warrant officers, while LDOs were typically in managerial positions that did not allow for direct supervision of enlisted technicians. Clearly, warrant officers were still needed to fill this gap in expertise, authority, and management. In 1963, another board reversed course and recommended the reinstatement of the warrant officer program.

Eleven years later yet another board examined the warrant officer and limited duty officer programs and recommended several changes, including clearly defined roles for warrant officers and limited duty officers and specific billets for each. Pay was another issue at the time: a senior enlisted Sailor who became a warrant officer-1 would suffer a pay decrease, a situation which worked against the Navy’s efforts to maintain its warrant officer manning. To alleviate this problem, the Navy eliminated the warrant officer-1 rank in 1975. Eventually promotion from senior enlisted directly to higher warrant officer grades also helped to alleviate the problem.

Warrant officer ranks and specialties have continued to change up to the present day to improve retention, meet the Navy’s manning needs in certain specialties, and maintain expertise in critical fields. Congress established the grade of chief warrant officer-5 in 1991. However, the Navy did not institute it until October 2002, a move that was aimed at retaining warrant officers for a full 30-year career.

In 2006, a trial program created a pathway for chief warrant officers to serve as pilots and naval flight officers with the intent to create flying specialists unencumbered by the traditional career paths of the officer unrestricted line community. Due to changes in the naval aviator population, the flying CWO program was subsequently eliminated in 2013.

Most recently, in an effort to retain cyber specialists, the Navy has announced that beginning in 2019 the rank of warrant officer-1 will be brought back from its 44-year absence for Sailors in this specialized field. Those eligible must be of the rank of petty officer second class or higher, hold a cryptologic technician networks rating, and have between six and 12 years in service.

Warrant officer specialties grew from 12 in the Second World War to 26 by 1979. Presently, the Navy has 31 billet codes for warrant officers, with two (nuclear power technician and explosive ordnance disposal technician) in the process of being phased out. As technologies constantly change and manning requirements fluctuate, the warrant officer corps will continue to expand and contract in various fields. In the twenty-first century Navy, perhaps more than ever before in its history, the technical expertise and wealth of experience held by warrant officers continues to be an essential ingredient in maintaining the fleet’s fighting edge.

Lt. Charlene Suneson - GW reflects on women in Navy history

Although women were able to serve in the U.S. Navy throughout World War II and the Korean War in non-nursing capacities, it wasn’t until 1978 that Judge John Sirica ruled the law banning Navy women from ships to be unconstitutional. That year, Congress approved the Navy to assign women to fill sea duty billets, where they had previously been unable to serve.

In 1961, nearly 20 years before the ban was lifted, Lt. Charlene Suneson reported for duty aboard the P-2 transport ship USS General W. A. Mann (AP 112) and became the first female line officer to have shipboard duty.

“It all began at a cocktail party in San Diego,” recalled Suneson in a 1961 Chicago Tribune interview. “I was talking to a captain and I mentioned I would like to go to sea. He said he could arrange it for me.”

Prior to reporting to her ship, she had asked the commanding officer if she could be assigned watch duty while the ship was underway. She was instead assigned to assist the transportation officer. Her duties were restricted to those of a seagoing purser, handling financial accounts and various documents relating to the ship. It was a job she had not expected and did not want.

“I expected the negative reaction from Navy men,” said Suneson in her autobiography with Veteran Feminists of America. “On board, I was not permitted on the bridge or in the engine room. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, we left the Pacific via the Panama Canal loaded with supplies and waited in New Orleans. I was told that if the ship went to Cuba, I would not.”

Although Suneson had an excellent record and was well qualified, the assignment was far from a success. The Navy announced it would no longer assign women line officers to sea duty, nor would there be a sea-going code on her record.

“The Navy has told me I’m sort of a trial balloon,” said Suneson in an interview with United Press International in 1961. “If they don’t send any more women to sea, you’ll know why.”

Following her time at sea, she went on to several shore commands including recruiting and admin work. Her final duty station in New York led to Suneson’s affiliation with the New York chapter of the women’s rights group National Organization for Women (NOW).

After 13 years of service, Suneson resigned from the Navy. She received a Ph.D. in Sociology from the University of Southern California with a certificate in Gender Studies.

At the age of 83, she remains actively involved with NOW, operating as an independent sociologist and activist for women’s rights.

The law changed allowing women to serve on ships 11 years after Suneson left the Navy, mainly to adjust sea-shore rotations. While she didn’t directly influence the change, her accomplishment as the Navy’s first female non-nursing line officer is not forgotten.

Naval History and Heritage Command Receives USS Scorpion Artifact Donation

Photo By Petty Officer 2nd Class Mutis A Capizzi | 191015-N-HP188-0003 WASHINGTON NAVY YARD (Oct. 15, 2019) (Pictured from left to right) Rear Adm. Andrew Lennon, vice director, Navy Staff, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations retired Rear Adm. Robert Fountain, former executive officer USS Scorpion (SSN 589) and Rear Admiral Thomas Ishee, director, Undersea Warfare Division Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, pose for a photo at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy Oct 15, following a donation ceremony. Naval History and Heritage Command held the ceremony to unveil four artifacts from Scorpion donated by Fountain. Fountain received the artifacts from the crew in 1968 on his departure from Scorpion six months before the submarine was declared “presumed lost.” NHHC is located at the Washington Navy Yard and is responsible for the preservation, analysis, and dissemination of U.S. naval history and heritage. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Mutis A. Capizzi/Released) see less | View Image Page



Story by Petty Officer 2nd Class Mutis A Capizzi

Naval History and Heritage Command

WASHINGTON NAVY YARD –Naval History and Heritage Command hosted a ceremony Oct. 15 at the National Museum of the U.S. Navy (NMUSN) to unveil four USS Scorpion (SSN 589) artifacts donated by retired Rear Adm. Robert Fountain.

The items included a tablecloth signed by crewmembers, as well as a plaque, bedsheet and a print of Scorpion, all given to Fountain by the Scorpion crew on his departure from the submarine in 1968, six months before Scorpion’s tragic loss.

Fountain served as the Scorpion’s executive officer from 1965 to 1968 and completed two successful deployments to the North Atlantic and Arctic Oceans as well as a variety of local operations. In January 1968, Fountain was selected early for promotion and left Scorpion for the Bureau of Naval Personnel, Plans and Policy Branch, for Nuclear Power trained enlisted personnel, surface and submarine. In February 1968, Scorpion set out to sea for a Mediterranean deployment and by May, the submarine headed home and reported her last position approximately 50 miles south of the Azores. Six days later she was reported overdue at her homeport of Norfolk, Va. After a massive search from Navy, Coast Guard, and Air Force assets, Scorpion was declared “presumed lost” with all hands in June 1968. A court of inquiry convened but did not determine the cause of her loss.

Director Naval History and Heritage Command, retired Rear. Adm. Samuel Cox said that while there are several artifacts currently on display in the NMUSN, none of the current Scorpion collection has the emotionally powerful effect that the Fountain donation provides. Cox reminded guests, however, that the loss of Thresher in 1963 and Scorpion in 1968 led to the development of the SUBSAFE Program, which was a very rigorous process for analyzing and making sure that U.S. submarines were as safe as possible. As a result, 50 years since the loss of Scorpion, the United States has not lost a submarine.

“It is a privilege for me to be here and I especially want to thank Admiral Fountain in particular for his incredibly kind and generous donation with this artifact [signed tablecloth],” said Cox. “When I first read about it, I got choked up just thinking about it. This is a particularly moving and important artifact that adds to our significant understanding of what happened in the Scorpion and more importantly her crew.”

Director, Undersea Warfare Division Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (N97) Rear Adm. Thomas E. Ishee spoke at the ceremony and said that institutions like NHHC provide a place where people can view historical artifacts and can come together to remember those brave souls lost to the deep. He added that it is imperative that future generations have a place to learn about these sacrifices and the Navy can pass on lessons learned so they are not repeated.

“A few weeks ago, I had the honor of attending a memorial for USS Thresher in Arlington National Cemetery and former Chief of Naval Operations John Richardson articulated how the loss of a submarine crew touches our lives,” said Ishee. “You recognize, and I quote, the loss of a submarine crew brings with it unique aspects, unique challenges that make it very hard to bring closure’ end quote. Our responsibility then is determining how to best honor those men who sacrificed their lives in May of 1968 and service to their country.”

Giant anchors, wrecked boats and a ‘Liberty’ clock: Inside the storage site for Navy museum

RICHMOND — After they left their shipwrecked comrades to go for help in November 1870, the five sailors carved their names in their small boat, as if to inform posterity if they did not survive.

William Halford, Peter Francis Jr., John Andrews, James Muir and Lt. John G. Talbot etched their names in a hatch of their makeshift rescue vessel as they sailed from remote Kure Atoll in the mid-Pacific Ocean.

After a month of sickness and starvation, and a final disaster in the surf, only one would be alive to tell of their marooned shipmates 1,200 miles away.

Last week, almost 150 years after the tragedy, Navy curator Jeffrey Bowdoin walked across the floor of a cavernous warehouse here and pointed out what looked like a patched-up, oversize rowboat.

Look at the hatch, he said. There, on the wooden framing, were the five names.

The simple vessel, which led to the rescue of the crew of the USS Saginaw, is one of thousands of artifacts that have been gathered here as the Navy plans for its new flagship museum in Washington.

Ships bells, submarine periscopes, cruise missiles and huge Civil War guns are among them.

Giant anchors, Iraqi missiles downed in combat, a World War I German deck gun and the hatch from a decommissioned nuclear submarine.

Japanese suicide torpedoes, a 1938 fire engine from the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and a fiberglass lion that was the mascot for a fighter squadron.

Like the Saginaw rescue boat, many have stories.

“This is the material culture of the Navy,” said Jay Thomas, assistant director for collection management at the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington.

“But the thing that makes the objects evocative is the stories behind the objects and the people behind the objects,” he said in an interview last week.

“The objects … reflect 220 years of sailors and where they’ve been and what they’ve done,” Thomas said, “not just battles, and not just the big things, but also what it was like to be a sailor, living in small quarters and visiting places on the other side of the world.”

The Navy is conducting an inventory of its entire artifact collection, “which has never been done,” said Bowdoin, head curator with the heritage command.

Last month, the service announced plans for a new $450 million national museum, most likely near the Navy Yard in Southeast Washington.

And the inventory “will certainly funnel into any … request for artifacts for a new national museum,” Bowdoin said. “Absolutely.”

Said Navy conservation chief David Krop, “This is one place to get some shopping done.”

One likely prospect for the new museum, experts here said, is the Saginaw’s rescue boat. “I hope there’s room for it,” Bowdoin said.

The USS Saginaw was a small Navy steamer with sails and two side paddle wheels. In 1870, it had been at the desolate Midway Island helping to deepen the harbor channel for possible use as a coaling station, according to an account by the ship’s paymaster, George H. Read.

With the work finished, the ship left for San Francisco on Oct. 29. But the captain, Montgomery Sicard, wanted to survey the treacherous reefs around the uninhabited Kure Atoll, then known as Ocean Island, about 60 miles west.

An American ship had wrecked there in 1842 and a British ship in 1837. Sicard, to enhance future navigation, wanted a better idea of where the danger was. He quickly found it.

As the Saginaw crept toward the atoll about 3 a.m. Oct. 29, it became impaled on the unseen reef, and the sea began pounding it into wreckage, Read wrote.

The 93-man crew escaped to the island with much of the ship’s equipment. But they soon realized that someone would have to go for help, or their chances of survival were slim.

The “captains gig,” a large open boat, was fitted with masts and salvaged sails. Its sides were raised. A deck was fabricated. Metal straps were installed to brace the bow.

Five fit men, including Talbot, a Naval Academy graduate, were picked from among many volunteers, Read recounted.

On Nov. 18, 1870, the boat was loaded with provisions. Talbot gave Read his will. Read gave Talbot $200 in gold coins “for possible expenses.”

About 4 p.m. the boat was launched, bound for Honolulu. “With full hearts and many in tears, we gave them three rousing cheers,” Read wrote. “We watched them until the boat faded from sight on the horizon to the northward.”

The voyage was arduous. “We suffered much from wet, cold and want of food,” Halford, the only survivor, wrote later. Men got dysentery. Food was spoiled. Francis fell overboard but was saved by a fishing line.

“Muir and Andrews were sick for two or three weeks,” he wrote, Muir eventually suffering from delirium.

On Dec. 19, the boat was off the island of Kauai, northwest of the island of Oahu and Honolulu.

Attempting to come ashore on the north side of the island, the boat was caught in heavy surf, capsized and began tumbling in the waves.

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