Recently people have been joining me on my Sunday Walks in Downtown Albany. Typically, I walk in Albany when I'm scheduled as a tour guide on the USS Slater. A slide show and a map are detailed at this blog entry. I plan on walking on Memorial Day, Monday, May 27. You can contact me at:

More on the USS SLATER (

Sunday, July 29, 2012

This day, seventy years ago, 07/29/1942

Seventy years ago on this day, Wednesday, July 29, 1942 (during the Battle of the Atlantic two merchant ships were sunk): The Norwegian steam merchant Bill was torpedoed and sunk by U-155; and the unescorted Canadian steam merchant Prescodoc was torpedoed and sunk by the U-160.

There were 87 U-Boats at Sea (Events this day - U-Boat Net).

U-210 sights Convoy ON.115 in the North Atlantic (41 Ships). Within a week 3 ships will be sunk and two damaged.

In July, 1942:  97 ships (458,351 tons) were sunk and 11 ships (90,138 tons) were damaged by U-boats and mines.

The First Battle of El Alamein ended. The British had stopped the Afrika Korps advance into Egypt.

Soviet Marshal Josef Stalin began moving massive numbers of troops into the Stalingrad area.

Gas rationing began on the East Coast of the United States.

Operation Watchtower began as 17,000 U.S. Marines boarded ships near Fiji on July 26, 1942. The Watchtower force, numbering 75 warships and transports left for Guadalcanal on July 31. The USS San Francisco is in the Watchtower Force. 

07/29/2012 - Fuse Settings & Kw

Today started wet and rainy I didn't get a chance to walk my 4 mile loop.   After a little while it cleared up, and it turned out to be a nice day. I managed to conduct three tours.

During one of the tours I was asked about the kw rating of the Main Propulsion Generators. The answer turned out to pretty easy. It was detailed on the USS Slater Web site - Description of B-2, The generators were Allis-Chambers, 1200 KW, 525 VDC, 750 RPM, The USS Slater has four.  The picture above is the main generator in the forward motor room.  In the description of the aft motor room B-4, there is a panoramic view.

The USS Slater has a power plant arrangement that is similar to fleet submarines.  There is a detail description of WWII US Navy submarine generators on the Historic Naval Ships Web Site.

At the 3" 50 cal I was asked what was the minimal time setting of the mechanical time fuse (MTF)?  A mechanical time fuse is used for shooting at airplanes.  This minimal time is referred to as arming delay (a safety feature).  It is the minimal setting from the time a gun is fired, until a projectile can detonate.

The short answer is 0.60-second for the 30-second mechanical time fuze.  There appropriate projectile (3" Mk26) is detailed in the US Explosive Ordnance Manual (OP1664, May 28, 1947). The fuse referenced is Mk21 MTF (same manual, OP1664 page 105). 

At a muzzle velocity of 2700 ft per second, the .60 delay, means that the shell will travel somewhat less than 540 yards (2700 * .60 / 3).  The muzzle velocity is the highest rate of travel for a projectile but it will slow the further the projectile travels.  The rate is influenced by the gun elevation.  You need range tables to determine the exact value for a given elevation.

btw - Detail Information of the 3" 50 cal. is available in OP 811, 1943

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

7/18/2012 - Coast Guard Convoy Video

On the 15th of July, we gave a tour to a WWII Coast Guard man who served on Patrol Frigates (PF). I ran across this Coast Guard Video that shows PFs in action.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

This Day, seventy years ago, 07/15/1942

Seventy years ago on this day, Wednesday, July 15, 1942 (during the Battle of the Atlantic three merchant ships were sunk): Dispersed from Convoy OS-33 the British steam tanker British Yeoman was torpedoed and sunk by U-201; Dispersed from Convoy OS-33, the British steam merchant Empire Attendant was torpedoed and sunk by the U-582; and Sailing with Convoy KS-520, the Nicaraguan motor merchant Bluefields was torpedoed and sunk by the U-576.

A few days before, on July 12,  Convoy OS-33 (41 ships, 8 escorts) was attacked by 6 U-boats in wolfpack Hai (Shark).  Eight ships were sunk, including the British Yeoman and Empire Attendant noted above.  There were no survivors on the Empire Attendant.

There were 70 U-Boats at Sea (Events this day - U-Boat Net).

Off of Cape Hatteras Convoy KS-520 was engaged by U-576. Besides the Bluefields (sunk, noted above) two other ships were damaged: the American ship Chilore (eventually it sunk on July 24) and the Panamian ship J.A. Mowinckel.  The unlikely hero was the US Navy Auxiliary Ship Unicoi, IX-216 (pictured above).  The gunners on the Unicoi managed to damage U-576 (the U-boat was sunk later in the day by aircraft). 

Also - Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps and the British 8th Army are engaged in a major battle at El Alamein, Egypt.

The Destroyer Escorts USS Stewart (DE-238) and USS Sturtevant (DE-239) were laid down at the Brown Shipbuilding Houston.

Monday, July 2, 2012

7/1/2012 - Three WWII Vets

Today was a little hot, but quite a few people turned out. As usual, I started the day with a three mile walk through Albany.  Later, I gave two tours that included three WWII Vets. The 1st Group included two vets who were neighbors. One fellow was a real cut-up. He served on the USS Randolph, USS Charger and the USS Loeser. The other vet served on Landing Craft Tank (LCT-587 or LCT-876). Since LCT-876 was destroyed in transit to Okinawa I'm guessing it was LCT-587. Because of mobility issues we did an abbreviated tour.

Later in the day I had a big group that included a Coast Guard WWII Vet who served as a coxswain on a Patrol Frigate in the North Atlantic. This group ranged in age from 6 to 85. It's always a challenge to give an interesting tour to such a diverse group.

In the middle of the Pacific there is an Island Atoll - Ulithi.  This was the forward operating base, thought to be beyond the range of Kamikaze Attacks.

On March 11, 1945 a long range bomber managed a surprise attack on the USS Randolph:  Here is an account - "...It was March 11, 1945. The next night there was a movie on the hangar deck called "A Song To Remember." We may have forgotten the song, but we will always remember the night. I was watching the show the night we were hit and as of next month I will be 76 years young. I have tried to find some of my buddies from the Fireroom gang but only have found only 4 who are up and around and are on the net. I Thank my God that I am still able to cope with life today !  ............."

LCT-587 was a Landing Craft Tank (Mark 6).  This LCT-587 was at Omaha Beach, Dog Green sector at H-10 Hour (6:20 a.m.).  From US Army History of Omaha Beach: "...The Initial Assault Wave: Ninety-six tanks, the Special Engineer Task Force, and eight companies of assault infantry (1,450 men), landing just before and after 0630, were to carry out the first assault missions (Map No. V). On the right, the 743d Tank Battalion brought in all its tanks on LCT's. Company B, coming in directly in face of the Vierville draw, suffered from enemy artillery fire. The LCT carrying the company commander was sunk just of shore, and four other officers were killed or wounded, leaving one lieutenant in Company B. Eight of that company's 16 tanks landed and started to fire from the water's edge on enemy positions. .... "

The USS Charger was one of the first escort carriers.  Early in the War the US Navy confiscated four C-3 Merchant ships, converted them to Escort Carriers, and transferred them to the British Navy under Lend Lease.  After Pearl Harbor the HMS Charger was transferred back to the US Navy and used a training platform for air crews.  While the ship was largely assigned to Chesapeake Bay, it was subject to frequent mishaps. 

USCGC Haida [WPG 45] upon relief at Weather Station Able 1500 miles West of Strait of Juan de Fuca
The insatiable demand for anti-submarine vessels in 1942 led the Navy to utilize merchant shipyards for their construction. These yards were not thought capable of building ships such as DEs to naval standards, so the British River-class frigate design (similar to the DEs) was modified for American construction techniques. While similar to DEs, they used a Triple Expansion Power Plant and a simpler engineering layout (limited evaporators). They were built with fewer watertight compartments, firefighting and damage control features. And they weren't equipped with torpedo tubes. The frigate program was plagued by delays; only 12 had been completed before the end of 1943, by which time more than 200 DEs were in commission and the Allies were winning the Battle of the Atlantic. Subsequent Patrol Frigate and DE Ships were cancelled.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

This day, seventy years ago, 07/01/1942

The next day I will be available for tours is Sunday, 07/1/2012. If it's a Sunny day I start with a walk around Albany (approx. 5K, 3+ miles) at 9:00 AM. Visitors are welcome to tag along but please send me an email.  

Seventy years ago on this day, Wednesday, July 1, 1942 (during the Battle of the Atlantic three merchant ships were sunk): the unescorted American steam merchant Warrior was torpedoed and sunk by the U-126; The unescorted Norwegian steam merchant Cadmus was torpedoed and sunk by the U-129; and the American steam passenger ship City of Birmingham was torpedoed and sunk by the U-202.  

In the Mediterranean, while sailing in a convoy, the British steam merchant Marilyse Moller  was torpedoed and sunk by the U-97.

On July 1, 1942 there were 75 U-Boats at Sea (Events this day - U-Boat Net).  During June 1942, 134 ships (632,869 tons) were sunk and 11 ships (67,343 tons) were damaged by U-boats and mines.

In the Artic Ocean, the infamous Murmask Convoy, PQ-17 (PQ-17 wikipedia) (PQ-17, U-Boat.Net) was discovered by German Aircraft and U-boats on the 1st of July.  Within a few days, 24 of the 35 ships in this convoy would be sunk. Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the event, "one of the most melancholy naval episodes in the whole of the war." The Soviet Union did not believe so many ships could be lost in one convoy and openly accused the Western Allies of lying.

Sad story in the Pacific, the American submarine USS Sturgeon (SS 187), torpedoed and sank the 7,266 ton Japanese transport ship Montevideo Maru about 65 nautical miles west of Cape Bojeador, Luzon, Philippines. From wikipedia - "... The was transporting Australian POWs and Allied civilians to Hainan Island. 1140 (including 88 Japanese crew) were killed while 18 survived. Some of the Japanese including the ship's captain made it to the Philippines but most, including the captain, were killed by local guerrillas. This loss of Australian lives is the worst maritime disaster in Australian history. Only one eyewitness account has ever emerged. After 60 years the sole surviving Japanese sailor described the "death cries" of trapped Australians going down with the ship while others sung Auld Lang Syne.  "

Also on July 1, 1942 - Field Marshal Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps and the British 8th Army are engaged in a major battle at El Alamein, Egypt.