Preservation, Education, and Commemoration of Naval History
Norman Polmar’s Corner: The Envelope Aircraft Carrier
By Norman Polmar
A telephone call in early March 1974 from one of my consulting customers in the Navy Department alerted me to a problem: The Chief of Naval Operations, Admiral Elmo R. Zumwalt, was upset with me. I had written a brief article in the March issue of the Naval Institute Proceedings—“Sea Control Ship and Navy Missions”—raising questions about the proposed sea control ship, one of several Zumwalt ship initiatives.
On 1 May 1898, during the Spanish-American War, the U.S. Asiatic Squadron, commanded by Commodore George Dewey, crushed Spanish naval forces at the Battle of Manila Bay. This halftone reproduction of an artwork by J.D. Gleason, circa 1898, depicts the action as seen from alongside the forward 8” gun turret of USS Olympia. NHHC image NH 1269.
Convergent Corps: Line Officers, Staff Officers and the Modernization of the U.S. Navy
By Zach Kopin
The Naval Historical Foundation recently acquired an 1878-vintage historical document, and generously donated it to the Naval History and Heritage Command’s rare book and document collection in the Navy Department Library. This document, a letter addressing the nineteenth century debate between staff officers and line officers, completes a pair, as the staff officer’s response to the letter is already in the collection. The acquisition of this document enhances the ability of naval historians to understand the thoughts and concerns of the officer corps during the post-Civil War period.
Seawolf: Maritime Strategy Covered In Sub History Seminar
With the Covert Submarine Operations exhibit in the National Museum of the U.S. Navy’s Cold War Gallery serving as a backdrop, a large crowd filled the Gallery’s North Hall on the evening of 11 April 2013 (coinciding with the Submarine Force’s 113th Birthday) to witness and participate in a program titled “Seawolf and The Maritime Strategy: Examining the Relationships of Policy, Strategy, Technology, Tactics and Acquisition.“
In what has become a fixture on the April calendar for over a decade, the joint Naval Submarine League – Naval Historical Foundation Submarine History Seminar reviewed how the U.S. Navy’s posture changed from the Carter years of being a reactionary one that assumed the Soviet Navy would replay the role of the Germans in fighting a Battle of the Atlantic III, to a proactive strategy during the Reagan years that aimed at attacking Soviet ballistic missile submarines at the onset of war. A key was a realization by American Navy leaders that the Soviets had little interest in using their submarine forces to interdict allied operations in the North Atlantic. This shift in American thinking on how to employ forces in a general war with the Soviet Union became known as “The Maritime Strategy” and the Seawolf submarine, of which only three were built, was designed as a big, fast, quiet, torpedo-laden weapon system that could effectively operate in hostile waters.
NHF Hosts San Diego Member Event On Board USS Midway Museum
On Sunday, April 7th, the Naval Historical Foundation (NHF) hosted a festive event aboard the USS Midway Museum in beautiful San Diego harbor. Over 40 members and friends of the Foundation gathered on the historic aircraft carrier to catch up with old friends and learn more about the latest developments at the Foundation. Guests were welcomed by Midway CEO, Rear Admiral Mac McLaughlin USN(Ret.) and were greeted by NHF President Rear Admiral John Mitchell USN(Ret.), who welcomed southern California members and guests and provided an overview of the Foundation’s latest activities.
BOOK REVIEW – The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King – The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea
By Walter R. Borneman, Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY (2012).
Reviewed by Captain Scott Mobley, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Millions of men and women have served in the U.S. Navy since its founding more than two centuries ago, but only four attained five-star status. The circumstances of World War II propelled this quartet—William D. Leahy, Ernest J. King, Chester W. Nimitz, and William F. Halsey, Jr.—to the lofty rank of Fleet Admiral. While wartime exigency may explain the reasons and timing for their promotion, it does not explain why these men were singled out nor how they achieved such tremendous success leading the greatest naval force ever assembled. Walter R. Borneman sheds light on these questions in his new book, The Admirals: Nimitz, Halsey, Leahy, and King—The Five-Star Admirals Who Won the War at Sea.
Norman’s Corner: Convincing Admiral Burke
By Norman Polmar
Admiral Arleigh A. Burke was a top destroyer commander and then chief of staff for the Fast Carrier Force during World War II. After the war a succession of important posts led to his appointment as Chief of Naval Operations; he served an unprecedented six years as CNO, from August 1955 to August 1961. In retirement, on the evening of 8 March 1966, Burke spoke at the Naval Academy to a small group composed of Academy officials, midshipmen, the staff of the U.S. Naval Institute, and a few USNI members in the area.
The evening was sponsored by the Naval Institute as part of its distinguished visitor program. Professor Robert M. (Bob) Langdon* of the Naval Academy’s history department directed the program for the USNI.
That evening a few persons from each category were invited to have coffee with Admiral Burke and his wife. I was among those invited. At the time I was assistant editor of the Naval Institute Proceedings and Bob wrote the column “professional reading,” which I edited for the magazine; we had become good friends while I was at the Naval Institute. When he introduced me to the Admiral, Bob mentioned that I was writing a history of aircraft carriers.
NHF Chairman ADM DeMars Donates Collection of Submarine and Aircraft Carrier Christening Photo Albums to Navy
Naval Historical Foundation Chairman Admiral Bruce DeMars, USN (Ret) recently made a generous donation to the Navy’s photo collection. Admiral DeMars, a submariner, finished up his forty-four years in the Navy with eight years as the Director, Naval Nuclear Propulsion. Amongst the many items in his personal collection were a series of photo albums covering the christening and launching of nine nuclear powered warships. He recently decided to present these albums to the Naval History and Heritage Command, to ensure their availability to future generations.
An Act of Congress on 2 March 1899, created the rank of Admiral of the Navy. On 24 March 1903, Admiral George Dewey, who held the rank of Admiral since 8 March 1899, was commissioned Admiral of the Navy, with date of rank 2 March 1899, and became the only officer of the United States Navy who was ever so commissioned.
This painting shows then-Commodore Dewey on board USS Olympia, in command of the great American victory at Manila Bay in 1898, during the Spanish-American War. NHHC image NH 84510-KN.