Thursday, September 22, 2016

Twenty Years Ago: Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP) Norfolk Closes



On September 20, 2016, visitors to National Maritime Center Nauticus get an advance look at a portion of the new Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP) Norfolk exhibit, "Without Us, They Don't Fly" just outside the Hampton Roads Naval Museum (HRNM).  The completed exhibit, featuring many of the NADEP artifacts maintained by HRNM, opened the following day. (Photograph by M.C. Farrington)
On September 25, 1996, the largest employer in Hampton Roads officially closed its doors. The Defense Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) had voted on June 26, 1993, to close Naval Aviation Depot, Norfolk. It became one of 32 major closure and realignment recommendations submitted to President Bill Clinton on July 1. That September, the commission’s recommendations became law, and NADEP Norfolk was tasked with closing within three years.
This would prove to be a formidable task on many different levels.  NADEP Norfolk had in one form or another served the Navy’s aviation community since 17 mechanics belonging to Naval Air Detachment Curtiss Field in Newport News first arrived at the newly-established Naval Operating Base at Sewells Point in October, 1917. Over the next seven decades, through two world wars as well as the wars in Korea and Vietnam, the facility had grown to employ 4,300 civilian mechanics, engineers, and support staff.  By 1976, the facility covered 174 acres and included 175 buildings.  From the 1970s to the 1990s, its workers restored or repaired F-8 Crusaders, A-6 Intruders and F-14 Tomcats, among other aircraft. 

The one war that NADEP Norfolk could not survive without, however, was the Cold War. The general conception among Pentagon analysts that the dissolution of the Soviet Union rendered many of our military installations unnecessary spawned five different BRAC rounds over a 17-year period, resulting in the closing of more than 350 military installations.

Two of the three commanding officers who led NADEP through a process that they called “Closing with Class” during that three-year period, Capt. Bruce Pieper, USN (Ret.) and Capt. Ted Morandi, USN (Ret.), will be speaking during a special event at the Hampton Roads Naval Museum being held at 6 pm on Thursday, September 22.  Dr. William Whitehurst, who as a member of Congress also had a front-row seat to the decommissioning process, will also be speaking.
 

For almost 80 years, the mechanics and engineers of the Naval Aviation Depot kept naval aviators flying with confidence.   Workers here set the standards for aircraft overhaul and repair, aircraft modification, and the manufacture of aeronautical parts.  In 1917, NADEP originated as the Construction and Repair Department of a military detachment at the Norfolk Navy Operating Base. Its first mission was supporting seaplane and dirigible operations during World War I.  The facility became the Assembly and Repair Department in 1922.  Among other duties, the Sailors constructed unassembled aircraft received from manufacturers.  The first civilians, 50 workers from the Norfolk Navy Yard, arrived in 1930.
A functional diagram of the Construction and Repair Department of Naval Air Station Norfolk during the 1940s. (HRNM Collection)

During World War II, the department grew to over 8,000 workers operating seven days a week. In an average month they would process over 300 aircraft, 400 engines, 500 propeller blades, 8,000 instruments, and more than 11,000 accessories.  In 1948, the facility was renamed the Overhaul and Repair (O and R) Department and received the Navy’s first jet aircraft for repair.

As the Korean War heated up in the early-1950s, the Engine Overhaul Division became the Navy’s largest. It performed production prototyping for aircraft modernization, manufactured aircraft parts, and accomplished large emergency repairs.

In 1961, during the Cold War, O and R became the East Coast repair center for the infrared, heat-seeking AIM-9 “Sidewinder” air-to-air missile. To help with military readiness, the workers supported “Operation Compression” with the motto, “Back to the Fleet in 23 Work Days.” 

A-6 Intruders undergo depot-level maintenance at Naval Aviation Depot, Norfolk during the 1980s. (HRNM Collection)

In 1967, O and R became the Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF) Norfolk. During the Vietnam War, NARF kept the A-6 Intruders, F-8 Crusaders, P-2 Neptunes, and P-3 Orions in top shape. Unfortunately, the first A-6 reworked by NARF was lost in combat. Its crew is commemorated on the A-6 displayed at Ely Park near Gate Four on Naval Station Norfolk.

NARF’s first chance to work on an F-14 Tomcat came in 1973 when NAS Patuxent River, Maryland, delivered a damaged Tomcat by barge. By 1980, NARF was the designated overhaul point for the F-14 Tomcat, the A-6 Intruder, and the EA6-B Prowler.

Naval Air Station Norfolk's Naval Air Rework Facility (NARF) during the mid-1980s. (HRNM Collection)

By 1980, with 4,200 employees, NARF was the largest employer in Norfolk. In addition to onsite work, NARF sent field modification teams to aircraft carriers in every ocean and to sites in North Africa, Europe, Scandinavia, and the Far East. The Naval Air Systems Command also sent NARF’s industrial engineers to installations stateside and to foreign countries to assist in modernization.

In 1987, NARF became Naval Aviation Depot (NADEP), Norfolk. NADEP’s workers, skilled in over 80 trades, became known for award-winning excellence. Among their many accolades were the U.S. Senate Productivity Award, the Secretary of Defense Productivity Excellence Award, and the Action Plus Excellence Award for Quality and Productivity.

During the 1991 Gulf War, many NADEP workers served in the conflict with their reserve military units. At home, they completed 85 Sidewinder missiles in six weeks. Meanwhile the Depot’s voyage repair “Tiger Teams” worked around the clock on aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf to keep catapult and arresting gear running.

In 1992, NADEP opened its 90,000 square-foot Materials and Standards laboratory, the most modern and complete engineering laboratory on the East Coast. The lab is now part of the Mid-Atlantic Regional Maintenance Center.

After the 1993 Base Realignment and Closure Commission voted to decommission NADEP Norfolk, the employees set about “Closing with Class.” They continued to win awards and completed the F-14D(R) conversion program. In January 1996, they rolled out the first F-14 to complete the F-14 A/B Upgrade Program. This was the first acquisition and design program totally accomplished by Navy field activities.

Although NADEP Norfolk officially decommissioned on September 25, 1996, its legacy has lived on. Its former personnel have continued using their talents at other Navy facilities, and some of the aircraft once maintained by NADEP, such as the EA6-B Prowler, continued to take to the skies until 2015.
 

      

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Art of the Colt Navy Revolver

By Joseph Miechle
Hampton Roads Naval Museum Educator

While researching arms and armament of the United States Navy we happened across a peculiar statement, “The Navy model Colt revolver was made for the Navy, and thus so named.” Being the ever-skeptical students of history that we are, we felt this needed some examination. Indeed, the Model 1851 Colt revolver bears an elaborate engraving on the cylinder of a naval engagement. With limited exception, by the time of the American Civil War, all Colt’s patent revolvers bore some type of cylinder engraving. It would be reasonable to assume that the naval scene engraved upon the “Navy” model was done in homage to the U.S. Navy and the pistols produced for their use. However this is not the case!
Early advertisement for Colt’s revolving pistols. The cylinder scenes were used to discourage counterfeit production--A real fear in the 1800s. The center scene is for the “Navy” sized pistols. (Image courtesy True West Magazine)
Upon closer inspection one will notice that in addition to the W.L. Ormsby naval engraving it bears the inscription, “Engaged 16th May, 1843.” This struck us as a bit unusual as we could not remember anything of significance happening in the US Navy on this date. A bit of leg work at the library was in order, but we have now uncovered the inspiration for the battle scene. The Battle of Campeche was fought on this date between the Mexican Navy and the Texas Navy.

The Colt Navy cylinder engraving would have looked like this, had the cylinder been flattened out.
The Battle of Campeche accomplished very little. It was fought between the formidable Mexican Navy who sailed with two, state of the art, ironclad steamers and various other fighting ships and the fledgling Texas Navy and their Yucatan supporters using all wooden ships of lesser tonnage. Both sides suffered a number of casualties, but no ships were lost and nothing was gained. It is of note though that this battle remains perhaps the only one fought between ironclads and wooden ships that did not end poorly for the former. Why would this battle have meant so much to Sam Colt to inspire him to have it engraved on so many of his pistols? It turns out Colt had sold many of his early model revolvers to the Texas Republic and they were proudly carried into battle by both land and naval forces. The purchase kept Colt’s company financially afloat during its early days. Edwin Moore, commander of the Texas Navy, wrote Sam Colt to personally express his appreciation:
Commodore Edwin Moore in a Texas Navy uniform.
The confidence that your arms gave the officers and men under my command when off Campeche in 1843 and opposed to a vastly superior force is almost incredible. I would not sail if I could possibly avoid it without your repeating arms and I would have no other.
 – from a letter by Commodore Edwin Moore to Sam Colt
  
It would appear that the purchase of Colt’s revolvers at such a critical time, and the very much-appreciated compliment about its performance in battle, might have inspired Colt to commission the engraving with this nautical battle scene on many of his revolvers. However this is only speculation as we could find no evidence from the company as such. Now with the Navy scene firmly engraved on most of Colt’s revolvers it seems it would be safe to say the “Navy” moniker has evolved from this distinction. It may be of note that the original designation for these pistols was that of the “Ranger” model. Interestingly enough, the naval engraving also carried over to the larger “Army” pistols produced a few years later. Soldiers and sailors on both sides of the Civil War would go bravely into battle with the confidence that their Colt revolver would see them through, perhaps inspired by the Texas Navy at Campeche.

The model 1851 Colt Navy shown in the picture has had the naval scene on the cylinder mostly worn away over time. The weapon was commonly used by both land and naval forces on both sides during the American Civil War and saw extensive use overseas as well.

For further reading on the Sam Colt and Colt revolvers please see The Story of Colt’s Revolver; The Biography of Col. Sam Colt, by William B. Edwards. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

The Great Arch: Focal Point of the 1907 Jamestown Exhibition

By Katherine A. Renfrew
Hampton Roads Naval Museum Registrar

After months of design and construction delays, funding issues, inclement weather and labor problems, the Government Piers and Great Arch at the Jamestown Exposition finally opened to the public on September 14, 1907, scarcely 16 days and two months shy of the closing of the exposition. According to The Official Blue Book of the Jamestown Ter-Centennial Exposition, 1907, the Government Piers and Great Arch were “the most important single contribution which the United States Government made to the Jamestown Exposition…It was a magnificent gift and added wonderfully to the beauty of the exposition.” Since it was located in front of Raleigh Square, it was one of the principal landscaping features at the exposition. However, it was an eyesore for most of the exposition which had officially opened on April 26, 1907.
Visitors to the Jamestown Exposition of 1907 could buy postcards featuring idealized versions of the exposition grounds at Sewells Point, such as the Great Arch and Government Pier shown here, to send to their friends and loved ones.  The actual scenes they would have encountered, however, were quite different. (Hampton Roads Naval Museum collection
The Great Arch over the entrance to the Government Piers as it appeared during the Jamestown Exposition of 1907.   (National Archives and Records Administration, NSNorfolk-1907_02 /RG 71-CA, Box 324, Folder C)
The government appropriated $400,000 for the project in June of 1906 with another $65,000 approved for additional dredging the following February. The plans were not submitted by the Exposition’s Board of Design until September of 1906. The contractor, Scofield Company of Philadelphia, began construction sometime in December of the same year.   

Funds for the project were contingent on an agreement between the Jamestown Exposition Company and the government. The company agreed to operate, manage and illuminate the piers at their own expense; and allow any craft that was part of the navy or foreign navy to participate in the celebration and have free access to the basin and piers. 

Measuring 150 between the two sides at the water line and a maximum height of 30 above mean high water, the arch was a “veritable triumph of engineering skill."  The structure was built exclusively of reinforced concrete; and was secured by two hundred and twenty piles driven in the abutment on either side. Pergolas, colonnades and kiosks enhanced its appearance. One of the towers housed a wireless telegraph station which was operated by the government.  The most outstanding feature was the view. When standing at the top of the arch, one “not only [had] the best view of the exposition, but an excellent picture of the surrounding territory."   

The Great Arch offered a picturesque location to hold celebrations. The most notable was held by the Japanese delegation on Japan Day, October 2, 1907.  That evening Harry Tucker, President of the Jamestown Tercentennial Exposition, welcomed the Japanese. In return, Vice-Consul-General, S. Suzuki and T. Fukushima of Tokio[sic] Academy gave speeches followed by the “Feast of Lanterns” and “Water Carnival." Both were striking displays. Three thousand people carried lighted lanterns across the arch; and boats decorated with lanterns hovered under and around the arch in the basin.  



The Seaplanes and their runways were part of the official “Lagoon” area, October 29, and December 30, 1918. (National Archives and Records Administration, NSNorfolk-1918_12 & _5 / RG 71-CA, Box 324, Folder B & Box 313, Folder C)
Sadly, the arch fell into disrepair after the exposition closed; and was never restored to its former grandeur. In 1917, when the U.S. Navy purchased the property, the basin, piers and arch officially became the “Lagoon” unit where the Navy’s boat crews and seaplanes operated. The “Arch Look-Out Station” tower and telegraph poles were maintained on top of the arch. 

Aerial view of the arch several years after the U.S. Navy moved in.  All the decorative details were removed from the arch and replaced with signal towers.  The buildings on the left and right of the piers were used for seaplane hangars, May, 5, 1919. (National Archives and Records Administration, NSNorfolk-1919_01 / RG 71-CA, Box 312, Folder A)
Up-close image of the arch showing Building 17, the “Arch Lookout Station” in the Lagoon unit, May 2, 1922. (National Archives and Records Administration, NSNorfolk-1922_01 / RG 71-CA, Box 312, Folder C)
By 1928, the Great Arch had ceased to be of any use to the Navy. Largely ignored and unmaintained, the arch became rubble, practically falling into the basin. Original Naval Operating Base maps reveal that the arch was removed sometime between June 1943 and 1944. The Great Arch was no more.



By 1928, Building 17 had been removed and the arch had all but completely fallen in the water.  Both pictures show the deterioration of the arch, February, 10, 1928. (National Archives and Records Administration, NSNorfolk-1928_01 & _02 / RG 71-CA, Box 312, Folder C)

Aerial view of the base showing the arch, May 13, 1941. (National Archives and Records Administration, NSNorfolk-1941_03 / RG 71-CA, Box 312, Folder A)

Aerial view of the base showing the arch, May 13, 1941. (National Archives and Records Administration, NSNorfolk-1941_03 / RG 71-CA, Box 312, Folder A)
This brief history of the Great Arch is the seventh in a series of blogs illustrating the development of Naval Station Norfolk. Unless otherwise noted, the photographs in this series represent the results of a research project seeking images of Hampton Roads naval installations at the National Archives and Records Administration. This research, performed by the Southeastern Archaeological Research, Incorporated (SEARCH) was funded by Commander Navy Region Mid-Atlantic as part of an ongoing effort to provide information on historic architectural resources at navy bases in Hampton Roads. The museum is pleased to present these images for the benefit of the general public and interested historians. As far as we know, all of these images are in the public domain and none of them have been published before.

Monday, August 29, 2016

100 Years Ago: One Ship, 43 Dead, Three Medals of Honor, One Court Martial, and Few Answers



USS Tennessee, after the installation of a cage mast and before her renaming as USS Memphis in May 1916. (Detroit Publishing Company Collection/ Library of Congress) 
By all accounts, the morning of Tuesday, August 29, 1916 was uneventful for the roughly 1,000 men assigned to the armored cruiser Memphis (CA-10) as they went about their normal duties while anchored in roughly 45 feet of water half a mile off Santo Domingo, capital of the Dominican Republic. According to the deck log of the gunboat Castine (PG-6), anchored nearby, the day opened with blue skies, light winds, and barometer readings hovering around 30 inches.

That afternoon, however, swells began coming in from the south and Captain Edward Latimer Beach, commanding officer of the Memphis, ordered that preparations be made for leaving the harbor. Only two of her 16 boilers were lighted at the time the order was passed, so the expected time for getting underway would have been approximately 4:35 pm.  By 4:20, however, waves were breaking completely over the decks of the 502 foot-long vessel, water began pouring through her ventilators into the engineering spaces, and she began dragging her anchor as ever larger waves drove her inexorably closer to the rocky shore.  At 4:23, her keel began striking bottom in the troughs of waves that at their peak reached between 70 and 80 feet high.  

Huge waves dwarf the 212 foot-long gunboat Castine as she makes her escape from Santo Domingo.  From the album of Francis Sargent, courtesy of Cmdr. John Condon, 1986.  (Naval History and Heritage Command Image via Navsource)
As the largest of the waves swept over the cruiser, seawater began pouring directly down her four funnels, 70 feet above her waterline. The boilers that had been lit began exploding, filling the engineering spaces with deadly steam just as seawater rapidly poured in from the ventilation tubes above and welled up from the crumpled bottom of the ship below.  Chief Machinist’s Mate George W. Rudd died at his post in the cruiser’s port engine room, while Lieutenant (later rear admiral upper-half) Claud A. Jones and Machinist Charles Willey were also awarded the nation’s highest honor for their heroic actions that day.  During all this, a motor launch that had been dispatched from Memphis to the port to pick up crew members who had finished playing a baseball game ashore was also swept away.  All aboard were lost, among the 43 Sailors lost that day.  Over 200 were injured.  Despite suffering heavy damage, the gunboat Castine had managed to get underway just after 4 pm.
 

USS Memphis (CA-10) on the rocks at Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.  She lost more than three-dozen crewmen as she was driven ashore by a succession of huge waves and was battered beyond reasonable prospect of repair.  Left where she lay, the wreck of USS Memphis was sold in 1922, but was not actually broken up until 1938. (Naval History and Heritage Command image via Flickr)
Then and now, many descriptions of the event still describe a tsunami as being what wrecked USS Memphis that day. This is in large part due to the efforts of Captain Edward L. Beach, Jr., the celebrated author of Run Silent, Run Deep, one of the best-selling memoirs of World War II.  His book about the loss of the Memphis, published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the catastrophe in 1966, made it abundantly clear that his father could not have affected the outcome of the loss for which he was court martialed. Beach’s book and other articles he wrote about the event not only kept the memory of the ship’s loss and the sacrifices and heroics of her crew alive, but it kept that memory framed in a specific way.

In 1993, he wrote in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings:

On the afternoon of 29 August 1916 she was riding quietly at anchor in Santo Domingo Harbor in the Dominican Republic. Some of her crew were ashore playing baseball, and a motor launch had just been sent to the recreation field to return them to the ship. At that moment, somewhere on the floor of the Caribbean Sea, there occurred a far-distant earthquake. Without the slightest warning, a tsunami rose abruptly from the peaceful sea. Heavy rollers began heading shoreward.

Later in the same article, Beach added:


The loss of his ship and 43 members of his crew was intensely personal to Dad. He had simply been unable to get up enough steam to get out of Santo Domingo Harbor. A week earlier, when a tropical storm blew up, he had got extra boilers on the line, and the ship under way, in 45 minutes—excellent time from a standing start for a coal-burning warship. But on 29 August he did not have 45 minutes; nor was it a tropical storm.

Following this line of reasoning, the court of inquiry that convened in September 1916 should have arrived at the conclusion that Capt. Beach could have not foreseen this calamity and could not have ordered measures that could have saved the 14,000-ton vessel. Instead, he was convicted at a general court martial in December of, among other things, being “culpably inefficient in the performance of his duty,” and was sentenced to lose 20 places in the captains’ seniority list.  Despite this, the prevailing sense among the higher echelons of the Navy Department's leadership must have been that the loss of the Memphis and the deaths of 43 Sailors was something that could not have been prevented, because Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels overruled the sentence handed down by the tribunal, reducing Beach’s place in line for flag rank to only five places behind where he had been before the incident.

Then, as now, earthquakes were pretty common in the Caribbean, and assuming that one had caused the loss of the Memphis and heavy damage to the Castine would have been reasonable in the immediate wake of the incident.  Nevertheless, the court of inquiry considered this as only one in a range of possible sources for the devastating waves, including tropical storms.  A report on a devastating 1918 earthquake and tsunami in Puerto Rico given by the United States Earthquake Investigation Commission to the House of Representatives in 1919 divulged that monitors in Puerto Rico recorded earthquakes originating in the vicinity of Santo Domingo on April 24 and November 29, 1916, but none during August.  Moreover, seismic monitors in Puerto Rico recorded nothing across the Caribbean between August 11 and October 2 of that year.

Despite sources that continue to suggest that an earthquake caused the waves that destroyed the Memphis, the past is not set in stone, and researchers have come forward since that time to make a persuasive case that the confluence of two passing hurricanes created a series of rogue waves that battered the southern coastline of Hispaniola and doomed USS Memphis. House Resolution 306, passed on June 15, 2015 in preparation for the centennial of the ship's loss, listed its cause as "a highly unusual 75-foot wave event that threw the ship upon the shore of Santo Domingo, resulting in its total destruction…"

Aside from the tragedy itself, which most accounts cast as a 90-minute catastrophe emerging literally from out of the blue, why were the Memphis and Castine at Santo Domingo on that fateful afternoon to begin with? As it turns out, they were ordered to the Dominican Republic on a mission deeply intertwined in a man-made political storm a decade in the making.  With a lead time stretching over months, if not years, the destructive waves of armed conflict breaking out across the country during the summer of 1916 were nearly as unanticipated as the massive waves that broke upon the country’s southern shore the afternoon of August 29.


The public jubilation over the short, successful Spanish-American War in 1898 had by 1902 muted considerably, particularly in the wake of the Philippine insurrection against American rule. As a result, an anti-imperialist coalition in Congress virtually ensured that President Theodore Roosevelt would never secure sufficient support for the establishment of more “protectorates” such as Cuba and Panama, which were bound by treaty obligations to be protected by the United States from internal and external threats. Nevertheless, European powers were threatening to mount punitive expeditions against other countries in close proximity to America that had defaulted on loans.

The Venezuelan Crisis of 1902-03, during which British and German warships blockaded the country, resulting in a showdown with the American fleet, prompted Roosevelt to establish his Corollary to the Monroe Doctrine, which dictated that the United States would act as an “international police power” in the event that European powers once again threatened military intervention to extract concessions over outstanding debt.  Seeking to preserve American hegemony over the hemisphere, Roosevelt undertook a novel approach that would accomplish his political objectives without running afoul of the Congress. The Dominican Republic became the Roosevelt Administration’s first big test case.

In her book Financial Missionaries to the World (2003), Emily S. Rosenberg wrote, “The Dominican model became the first major effort to forge the kind of partnership that would continue to be at the heart of dollar diplomacy: a triangular relationship among financial advisors wishing to practice their new profession of fiscal rehabilitation of foreign countries; investment bankers seeking higher interest rates in foreign markets; and activist governmental officials eager to assert international influence.”

From 1904 to 1907, diplomats worked with bankers and financial advisors, mainly bureaucrats with experience in colonial administration, to forge an agreement of administrative supervision over the Dominican economy, primarily through control over customs collection, in exchange for American loans. Although the rationale for such an arrangement was explicitly nonmilitary in nature, Commander Albert C. Dillingham (who as a rear admiral would take on the task of establishing Naval Station Norfolk in 1917) also served as a prominent liaison between Secretary of State John Hay and the Dominican government as an agreement began to take shape.

Despite objections from senators who chafed at President Roosevelt’s unilateral declaration of a “fiscal protectorate” in the Dominican Republic, the Roosevelt and Taft administrations declared victory and plunged headlong into establishing similar contractual arrangements with Nicaragua, Haiti, and Liberia.  American investment banks, with the support of the American government, were dealing with bankrupt nations the way they had once dealt with failing businesses.  The shortcomings of this approach, however, invariably committed the U.S. Military to stabilizing the situation, sooner or later.  




As the customs receivership in the Dominican Republic matured, the relationship between the American and Dominican governments under the administration of Woodrow Wilson began to resemble an older colonial model. “President Roosevelt entered the Dominican relationship with the idea that a receivership would prevent, not be a prelude to, military involvement there,” wrote Rosenberg. “If the receivership was threatened by debt or disorder, so much prestige was at stake that policymakers had little choice but to bite off more and more of the country’s sovereignty, intervening in ever broader ways to address the problems.”  This erosion of the Dominican government’s sovereignty to American advisors, investment bankers and government officials eroded the legitimacy of President Ramon Caceres’ administration in the minds of many Dominicans.  After his assassination in November 1911, years of political instability followed, and, as would also happen in Haiti and Nicaragua, U.S. Marines were brought in to reestablish order, and, ultimately, new governments, with the support of vessels such as USS Memphis and Castine.

USS Memphis, sent to the Dominican Republic to help quell a political storm far away from the government officials and investment bankers who helped create it, and wrecked by waves generated by hurricanes far over the horizon, was not only one of the largest commissioned vessels our Navy ever lost to natural causes.  For decades, her forlorn, battered hull remained a fixture of Santo Domingo’s oceanfront, a dramatic symbol of the American intervention in the Dominican Republic, outlasting the era of the American foreign policy approach that sent her there.


A sunset view of Santo Domingo taken in 1924.  (Republica Dominicana via Flickr)