Tuesday, August 23, 2016


23 August 2016: While I am sure it's hard to believe (for us here at Maritime Maunder it is anyway) it has been two years since we began offering hopefully interesting maritime tidbits - mostly of little intrinsic value - but some fun, some historical, and some just noteworthy - and it is quite amazing the response we have received. We now have over 17,800 readers, world wide. Some of you make comments, add further insight, or just say thanks. Now it's our turn to say thanks to you, our readers, for continuing to follow Maritime Maunder.....

This week has had a couple of interesting historical events that should be mentioned, but we will not dwell on them as we have a brand new and I think interesting topic for you. Of note: 1851 (August 22) U.S. schooner AMERICA tops the best of the British fleet in a race around the Isle of Wight, winning the "100 Guinea Cup" which was then donated to the New York Yacht club with the understanding it would be contested internationally.

The "low black schooner" America

It became, of course, the America's Cup, named for the schooner, not the country. There are currently a series of races being contested that will eventually lead to a two boat match race in Bermuda in 2017 - for the Cup.

Another item of interest, though not really maritime, is the landing of the British at Benedict MD from whence they marched through Bladensburg, shredding the American forces positioned there to stop them, and marching on to the American capital, Washington City, and burning a number of public buildings, including what is now called the White House (then it was the Presidential Mansion). A thunder storm of stunning intensity put out the fires and the British left, returning to their ships to sail on to Baltimore where they met a quite different reaction. More on that in a few weeks.

But the item of focus for today is the exploratory expedition of E/V Nautilus under auspices of Naval Historical Foundation and NOAA to film and explore the WWII light carrier Independence sunk off the coast of California in some 2600 feet of water. Of note is that the expedition will be broadcast live over the internet, something which world, renown undersea explorer, Dr. Bob Ballard, has fostered for some time. Following is the NFH article only lightly edited about the event and we will post more as more is available.

The Corps of Exploration on E/V Nautilus and scientists on shore participating via telepresence will conduct the first-ever visual survey of the sunken aircraft carrier USS Independence. In 1951, Independence was scuttled offshore San Francisco where she now rests within the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The wreck was acoustically surveyed in 2015 by The Boeing Company and Coda Octopus working with NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries’ Maritime Heritage Program and West Coast Region, NOAA’s Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Our expedition will be the first time humans will lay eyes on Independence in over 65 years.
At her christening, Independence represented the first of a new class of carriers built on converted cruiser hulls. She joined the Pacific Fleet in June 1943. She participated in major campaigns of the Pacific front in attacks on Rabaul, Tarawa, Luzon, and Okinawa. Most notably, Independence was part of the carrier group that sank the last remaining vestige of the Japanese Mobile Fleet at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, including the battleship Musashi. USS Independence received eight battle stars due to the heroic actions of the Sailors, Officers, Pilots and Marines who served onboard. To learn more about the history of Independence’s service in the war, visit http://www.navyhistory.org/uss-independence-historical-timeline/

 After the war, the ship had another important national service yet to perform. Selected as a target vessel for the Bikini atomic bomb tests - code named Operation Crossroads - she was placed within one-half mile of ground zero for the 1 July explosion (Test Able). The ship was severely damaged but did not sink and took part in an underwater detonation test 25 July (Test Baker).
 The third atomic test (Test Charlie) was canceled due to growing concern over the water conditions within Bikini Atoll. Decommissioned at Kwajalein Atoll on 22 August 1946, the “ex-Independence” was towed to San Francisco by ocean tugs USS Hitchiti and USS Pakana, arriving at Hunters Point in the San Francisco Bay in June of 1947.  

At Hunters Point the Navy would establish the NRDL – Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory and Independence became a training school to study the aftereffect of the atomic bombs on the target vessels. To learn more about Independence’s role in Operation Crossroads, visit http://www.navyhistory.org/2016/08/uss-independence-cvl-22-and-operation-crossroads/
Now this old warhorse rest at the bottom of the Pacific, home to a myriad of sea creatures and the ghosts of warriors who helped shorten the Second World War.
The lower image represents a high gain sonar shot of the ship as she lays on the bottom, with pertinent features identified with the ship as she once was.
For more info and a "sometimes" live link, check www.nautiluslive.org.  They will be broadcast their dives as possible. You can also follow them on twitter: @EVNautilus for updates.
Until next time,
                                      Fair Winds,
                                              Old Salt

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