I hope that you all have a great last weekend of
This day in Naval History
§ 1905—The dry dock Dewey leaves Solomon's Island, MD, en route through the Suez Canal to the Philippines to serve as repair base. It is the longest towing job accomplished at the time, guided by the tug Potomac, a pair of colliers Brutus and Caesar, and the store ship Glacier, arriving at its destination nearly six months later, July 10, 1906.
§ 1941—Rear Adm. Ben Moreell, chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks, requests construction battalions be recruited.
§ 1944—USS Dace (SS 247) attacks a Japanese convoy off Cape Varella, French Indochina and sinks supply ship Nozaki and damages Chefoo Maru.
§ 1982—USS New Jersey (BB 62), the first of four Iowa-class battleships, is recommissioned for the third time after her original 1943 commissioning.
§ 1990—USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and USS America (CV 66) Carrier Battle Groups deploy from Norfolk, VA, for the Middle East to join Operation Desert Shield.
§ 1798—Secretary of Navy Benjamin Stoddert sends in his first annual report to Congress, requesting naval forces be increased "to make the most powerful nation desire our friendship – the most unprincipled respect our neutrality."
§ 1812—The frigate Constitution, commanded by William Bainbridge, captures HMS Java off Brazil, the second British frigate captured by Constitution in six months, during the War of 1812.
§ 1942—USS Wasmuth (DMS 15) eventually sinks, 35 miles off Scotch Cape, the southwest point of Unimak Island, Aleutians, two days after a pair of her depth charges exploded during a gale. USS Ramapo (AO 12) comes alongside in the heavy seas and heroically rescues Wasmuth's crew.
§ 1943—USS Silversides (SS 236) sinks the Japanese transport Tenposan Maru, the army cargo ship Shichisei Maru, and the freighter Ryuto Maru while also damaging the army cargo ship Bichu Maru off Palau.
§ 1944—USS Fixity (AM 235) is commissioned. Decommissioned after the war, she is later sold for commercial service until she sinks in the Ohio River in the late 1990s. Also on this date, USS Murrelet (AM 372) is launched.
§ 1920—USS John D. Ford (DD 228) is commissioned. She serves in both the Atlantic and the Pacific during World War II and receives a Presidential Unit Citation, specifically honoring her "extraordinary heroism in action" during the Java Campaign, Jan. 23 – March 2, 1942 and four battle stars.
§ 1942—USS Greenling (SS 213) attacks a Japanese convoy 180 miles northeast of Manus, Admiralty Islands and sinks Army cargo ship Hiteru Maru and damages cargo ship Ryufuku Maru while USS Thresher (SS 200) sinks the Japanese freighter Haichan Maru west of Mata Siri Island, off the southern tip of Borneo.
§ 1943—USS Bluefish (SS 222) sinks Japanese oiler Ichiyu Maru in the Java Sea.
§ 1944—USS Block Island (CVE 106) is commissioned, serving until decommissioned in 1954. Struck from the Navy list in 1959, ex-Block Island is sold to Kowa Koeki Co., Ltd., Mitsubishi Naka, of Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo and scrapped a year later.
§ 1944—USS Razorback (SS 394) attacks a Japanese convoy going from Manila to Takao, about 60 miles southeast of Formosa, and sinks the destroyer Kuretake in the Bashi Channel. The Japanese cargo ships Brazil Maru and Oi Maru are also damaged during this attack.
§ 1959—The first fleet ballistic missile submarine, USS George Washington (SSBN 598), is commissioned.
Thanks to CHINFO
Top headlines in national news today include reports on the continued partial government shutdown that is now in its sixth day, and reports of a transformer explosion in Queens which caused a bright blue light that engulfed the sky and caused the temporary closure of LaGuardia Airport. The Washington Times reports on the growing strategic importance of the Arctic and the Navy's efforts to increase its presence in the region. Sailors and Marines from Littoral Combat Group One returned home to Naval Base San Diego and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam following participation in the International Maritime and Naval Exhibition for South America. Additionally, Rear Adm. Brian Fort, Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, spoke with KHON 2 about what lies ahead for the Navy in 2019.
Once Upon a Long Time Ago
Thanks to Gary and Dutch-
U.S. Navy to stage Arctic 'freedom of navigation' ...
thanks to Tam
Russia is messing with the WRONG President!
U.S. Navy to flex muscles in Arctic: 'Opportunity for conflict is only rising'
Limited capacity, lack of icebreakers forces U.S. to play catch up as melting opens up sea lanes
By Carlo Muñoz
The U.S. Navy is preparing to take a page from its South China Sea strategy with plans to eventually carry out "freedom of navigation" missions through the Arctic as the geopolitical scramble for dominance heats up while long iced-in sea passages thaw.
Although the goal will be to send a clear signal to Russia and China that America is a force to be reckoned with in the race to control valuable territory at the top of the world, Pentagon leaders acknowledge that it could take years, and they stress that Washington has a lot of catching up to do.
Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer said this month that the U.S. is in danger of falling behind, specifically against increasingly provocative moves by the Russian navy, in the scramble for control over what may be the globe's last major unexploited region.
"We need to have a strategic Arctic port up in Alaska. We need to be doing [freedom of navigation operations] in the northern passage. We need to be monitoring it," Mr. Spencer told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
He noted decades of American submarine activity deep beneath the Arctic surface but lamented a lack of major U.S. Navy ship missions through melting ice passages in recent years.
"Everyone's up there but us," he said. "I mean, we're under the water. … We've been under the water since the '60s. But peace through presence with a submarine is a little tough."
The stakes are high on multiple fronts, say analysts, who note that control of critical new commercial shipping lanes is increasingly up for grabs through once-frozen Russian and Canadian trade routes.
At the same time, development economists say as much as $35 trillion in oil and natural gas, gold, silver, diamond, copper, titanium, graphite, uranium and rare earth elements vital to high-tech industries could become accessible if ice sheets continue to retreat. Many scientists say climate change makes that prospect inevitable.
Some national security sources worry that America, without a clearer U.S. military mission focus, could get edged out in the race to influence and benefit from exploitation in the region.
Mr. Spencer told the Senate Armed Services sea power and readiness subcommittee on Dec. 12 that the threat of a sustained Russian buildup in the Arctic has been a high priority for him since his confirmation as Navy secretary last year.
"At that point, our Russian friends were warming up five airstrips, 10,000 Spetsnaz troops [were] up there for 'search and rescue,'" Mr. Spencer said.
Lawmakers have demanded that the Pentagon draft a strategic plan for U.S. operations in the Arctic and the North Atlantic as part of military spending outlays for 2019.
Tom Callender, a former top Navy official and now a senior defense fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said the situation is urgent.
"The opportunity for conflict is only rising," he said, adding that the Navy should expand its presence in the region and that the Pentagon should deliver a forceful statement saying newly opened sea passages must be available to all.
Truman to the Arctic
The Navy has already begun increasing its presence near the Arctic Circle.
In October, the USS Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Group conducted its first-ever joint naval operations above the circle with the Canadian navy.
The next step could be freedom of navigation operations focusing on the so-called Northern Sea Route.
The route, which connects the Atlantic and Pacific oceans near the Arctic along Russia's northern coastline, traverses an "exclusive economic zone" claimed by Moscow. But the route also extends across mostly international waters, which Russia is challenging through territorial claims.
"The concern that other Arctic countries have is that Russia has been arguing this sea route is Russian and that shippers should pay the Russian government to use it," said Bryan Clark, a former special assistant to the chief of naval operations.
"The U.S. and other Arctic nations will eventually need to start conducting [freedom of navigation operations] along the [route] to prevent Russia from establishing de facto control over this waterway," he told The Washington Times.
But Mr. Clark, now a senior fellow at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, added that it's unclear whether the U.S. Navy has the capacity to carry out major Arctic missions.
The American fleet is ill-equipped for the region's harsh conditions, he said, and lacks U.S.-controlled seaports there.
The Navy has no icebreaker ships able to traverse frozen areas. The U.S. Coast Guard has just six such ships: three medium and three heavy polar icebreakers.
By contrast, Mr. Callender said, Russia has a fleet of roughly 50 warships, six specifically outfitted to sail and fight in Arctic waters, and the Chinese navy also has six.
Building new capacity
Mr. Spencer's call for freedom of navigation operations has been read as a message to private U.S. defense firms that Navy leaders are ready to add icebreakers to the fleet.
"The U.S. needs to make a significant series of investments in the Navy," said Jerry Hendrix, a retired Navy captain who argues that a particular focus should be on icebreakers to address growing tensions in the North Atlantic and Arctic.
The Coast Guard is pressing for an armed version of its polar icebreakers, and Mr. Hendrix said the Navy should consider icebreaker capabilities for its Next Generation Frigate program, known as the FFG(X).
Frigates with icebreaker capabilities, he said, would clear the way for Arctic freedom of navigation operations that could mirror operations that the Navy is conducting in response to Chinese military expansionism in the much-warmer waters of the South China Sea. "We are definitely looking at a South China Sea [situation] in the Arctic," Mr. Hendrix said.
The hotly contested South China Sea has been a source of growing military tensions between Washington and Beijing in recent years. U.S. officials say American fighters, bombers and warships will continue to fly and sail missions wherever international law allows in the waters south of China's mainland and anywhere else in the Pacific.
Although Beijing complains about the missions, some analysts are hopeful that the U.S. can avoid similar friction with Russia in the North Atlantic and Arctic.
"The Russians operate in a more professional manner than the Chinese," said Mr. Callender.
Russian forces in the Arctic, he said, are likely to be more sensitive to U.S. moves than the Chinese military has been to American activity in the South China Sea.
"[Moscow] knows a little better where the red lines are," he said. "The Chinese are just learning this game," whereas Washington and Moscow "have been at this for decades."
74 years ago American soldiers were involved in the largest and costliest battle of WWII. In the miserable cold of a European Winter.
Battle of the Bulge
In December 1944, Adolph Hitler attempted to split the Allied armies in northwest Europe by means of a surprise blitzkrieg thrust through the Ardennes to Antwerp. Caught off-guard, American units fought desperate battles to stem the German advance at St.-Vith, Elsenborn Ridge, Houffalize and Bastogne. As the Germans drove deeper into the Ardennes in an attempt to secure vital bridgeheads, the Allied line took on the appearance of a large bulge, giving rise to the battle's name. Lieutenant General George S. Patton's successful maneuvering of the Third Army to Bastogne proved vital to the Allied defense, leading to the neutralization of the German counteroffensive despite heavy casualties.
Its objective was to split the Allied armies by means of a surprise blitzkrieg thrust through the Ardennes to Antwerp, marking a repeat of what the Germans had done three times previously–in September 1870, August 1914, and May 1940. Despite Germany's historical penchant for mounting counteroffensives when things looked darkest, the Allies' leadership miscalculated and left the Ardennes lightly defended by only two inexperienced and two battered American divisions.
On December 16, three German armies (more than a quarter-million troops) launched the deadliest and most desperate battle of the war in the west in the poorly roaded, rugged, heavily forested Ardennes. The once-quiet region became bedlam as American units were caught flat-footed and fought desperate battles to stem the German advance at St.-Vith, Elsenborn Ridge, Houffalize and, later, Bastogne, which was defended by the 101st Airborne Division. The inexperienced U.S. 106th Division was nearly annihilated, but even in defeat helped buy time for Brigadier General Bruce C. Clarke's brilliant defense of St.-Vith. As the German armies drove deeper into the Ardennes in an attempt to secure vital bridgeheads west of the River Meuse quickly, the line defining the Allied front took on the appearance of a large protrusion or bulge, the name by which the battle would forever be known.
A crucial German shortage of fuel and the gallantry of American troops fighting in the frozen forests of the Ardennes proved fatal to Hitler's ambition to snatch, if not victory, at least a draw with the Allies in the west. Lieutenant General George S. Patton's remarkable feat of turning the Third Army ninety degrees from Lorraine to relieve the besieged town of Bastogne was the key to thwarting the German counteroffensive. The Battle of the Bulge was the costliest action ever fought by the U.S. Army, which suffered over 100,000 casualties.
The Reader's Companion to Military History. Edited by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker. Copyright © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
A bit more indepth version
Battle of The Bulge
Facts, information and articles about Battle Of The Bulge, a battle of World War II
Battle Of The Bulge Facts
16 December 1944 – 16 January 1945
The Ardennes, Belgium, Luxembourg, and Germany
80,000 Allies initially; ultimately 600,000+
200,000 Germany initially; ultimately 500,000
Battle Of The Bulge Articles
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Battle Of The Bulge summary: The Battle of the Bulge (December 16, 1944–January 16, 1945), also known as the Ardennes Offensive, was the largest battle fought on the Western Front in Europe during World War II; it is also the largest battle ever fought by the United States Army. It was a German offensive intended to drive a wedge between the American and British armies in France and the Low Countries and recapture the port of Antwerp in The Netherlands to deny the Allies use of the port facilities. The German codename for the buildup to the offensive was Watch on the Rhine (Wacht am Rhine). The actual offensive was codenamed Operation Autumn Mist (Unternehmen Herbstnebel). It fell far short of its goals but managed to create a bulge in the American lines 50 miles wide and 70 miles deep, which gave the struggle its alliterative name. The phrase "battle of the bulge" already existed in the American lexicon as a term for attempts to lose body weight.
The initial German attack force consisted of more than 200,000 men, around 1,000 tanks and assault guns (including the new 70-ton Tiger II tanks) and 1,900 artillery pieces, supported by 2,000 aircraft, the latter including some Messerschmitt Me 262 jets. In the opening phases of the battle, they would be facing only some 80,000 men, less than 250 pieces of armor and about 400 artillery guns. Many of the American troops were inexperienced; the German force included battle-hardened veterans of the tough fighting on the Eastern Front, but they, too, had green units filled with boys and with men who normally would have been considered too old for military service.
During the course of the month-long battle, some 500,000 German, 600,000 American and 55,000 British troops became involved. The Germans lost some 100,000 men killed, wounded and missing, 700 tanks and 1,600 aircraft, losses they could not replace. Allied losses—the majority of them incurred during the first week—included 90,000 men, 300 tanks and 300 aircraft, but they could make up these losses. In addition, an estimated 3,000 civilians died, some during the fighting and others executed by German combat and security forces. See "War Crimes in the Battle of the Bulge."
The Ardennes Offensive was a massive gamble on the part of German dictator Adolf Hitler, one that he lost badly.
Background to the Battle of the Bulge
By the winter of 1944, Nazi Germany's situation was grim. Soviet forces were coming ever closer to the Fatherland from the east, and in the west Allied forces had crossed the German border. German Chancellor Adolf Hitler intended to launch a surprise attack in the west that would divide and demoralize the Western Allies and, perhaps, convince them to join Germany in its war against the communists of the Soviet Union. In May 1940, he had gambled on a surprise attack through the dense Ardennes Forest into Belgium and France and had won a stunning victory. Now he planned for history to repeat itself: once more German armor would advance through the concealing woods of the Ardennes to strike his enemies by surprise.
The German army commander in the West, Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt, thought the plan too ambitious. Other commanders also objected to taking resources away from the Eastern Front for this operation, but Hitler overruled them all.
Field Marshal Walther Model's Army Group B would be responsible for the attack. His forces included Generaloberst Josef "Sepp" Dietrich's Sixth Panzer Army, the largest and best equipped of the three striking armies, which was to drive northward, quickly cross the Meuse River and capture Amsterdam before the surprised Allies could regroup. Directly to the south of this force General der Panzertruppen Hosso-Eccard von Manteufel's Fifth Panzer Army would push west in support of Dietrich's attack. General der Panzertruppen Erich Brandenburger's Seventh Army would protect the southern flank. The build-up was given the defensive-sounding codename Watch on the Rhine. Strict security measures included no radio communication to prevent Allied radio intercepts.
On the opposite side, Supreme Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower was planning major operations in the northern and southern sectors of the front. Accordingly, the center, where the German attack was to fall, was the weakest part of the line. The American VIII Corps, under Major General Troy Middleton, consisted of the 4th, 28th, and 106th infantry divisions, most of the 9th Armored Division, and the two-squadron 14th Cavalry group. The 106th Infantry and 9th Armored were green units, untested in combat. The 4th and 28th had suffered high numbers of casualties during operations in the Hurtgen Forest and were receiving thousands of inexperienced replacements. This small, largely untried force had been assigned an 80-mile-long front; normally, a corps would be defending an area only about one-third that length.
Elsenborn Ridge and St. Vith
The German attack achieved the desired surprise but often encountered unexpectedly tough resistance. Their timetable did not allow for delays, but time and again the Americans slowed the enemy advance.
The road network in the Ardennes was narrow and rough. A key road for Sixth Panzer Army's advance ran parallel to a stretch of high ground called Elsenborn Ridge. Along this ridge, ad-hoc groups of tanks, tank destroyers and dug-in infantry stubbornly resisted. General Eisenhower, immediately realizing his men were facing a major attack in the Ardennes rushed artillery to support the ridge. The firepower from their guns left the narrow roads choked with wrecked vehicles, in addition to those that broke down on their own from mechanical failure. After 10 days of intense fighting, Sixth Panzer Army abandoned its attempts to cross Elsenborn Ridge and sought other routes.
Many villages saw intense fighting. Because of the road situation, towns where several roads converged were critically important; one such town south of Elsenborn Ridge was St. Vith, Belgium. At St. Vith and nearby towns, Fifth Panzer Army encountered stiff resistance; on the first day of the German offensive Eisenhower had ordered the 7th Armored Division to St. Vith to support 106th Infantry units. The narrow roads, ice, snow and mud prevented the Germans from massing their superior armor. The St. Vith pocket held until December 21 when, in danger of being encircled, the defenders withdrew. Their determined stand had thrown another monkey wrench into the German timetable. It bought time for the 82nd Airborne Division to set up strong defensive positions west of the town that blunted the enemy's advance and temporarily pushed the attackers back across the Ambleve River. During the course of their engagements some units of the 82nd Airborne suffered over 80% casualties—the 509th Battalion reportedly took over 90% casualties—with most losses coming during the Allied counteroffensive that began in January.
To the west and south of St. Vith another crossroads town became the focus of intense fighting. When Eisenhower ordered the 7th Armored to St. Vith he also ordered the 10th Armored Division to Bastogne. It joined the 9th Armored, several artillery battalions, and infantrymen defending Bastogne and the small towns around it. On the 18th, the 705 Tank Destroyer Battalion arrived, and on the 19th the 101st Airborne. By the 20th the town was encircled by the advancing enemy, and on the 22nd, four Germans arrived with an ultimatum: surrender or heavy artillery will begin firing on the town. Brigadier General Anthony McAuliffe sent them back to their commander with a one-word reply: "Nuts." The artillery had already moved farther west, however, so the barrage was not forthcoming, though the Luftwaffe bombed the village by night.
On December 26, Bastogne's defenders received a belated Christmas present: Lieutenant Charles P. Boggess with a few M4 Sherman tanks fought his way into Bastogne from the south. They were the lead element of a relief force from Lieutenant General George S. Patton's Third Army. When Patton struck with three divisions the following day, the German ring around Bastogne was broken.
End of the Battle of the Bulge
By this time, the Nazi offensive was running out of fuel, literally and figuratively. The Germans had waited for bad winter weather to launch their attack, to diminish the ability of Allied aircraft to support the ground troops. The weather also slowed the German advance, however, and this, the narrow roads and stubborn resistance wrecked their timetable. Improving weather conditions allowed Allied planes to take to the skies again and support the counterattacks that began pushing back the Germans. Despite a Luftwaffe offensive in Holland and a second major ground offensive the Germans launched in Alsace on January 1, the Third Reich could not regain the initiative. The Battle of the Bulge is officially considered to have ended January 16, exactly one month after it began, although fighting continued for some time beyond that date. By early February, the front lines had returned to their positions of December 16