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"I don't make hell for nobody. I'm only the instrument of a laughing providence. Sometimes I don't like it myself, but I couldn't help it if I was born smart."

1st Sgt. Milton Anthony Warden.
"From here to Eternity"

Paul Valery

"You are in love with intelligence, until it frightens you. For your ideas are terrifying and your hearts are faint. Your acts of pity and cruelty are absurd, committed with no calm, as if they were irresistible. Finally, you fear blood more and more. Blood and time."

The Wisdom of the Ages

"When a young man, I read somewhere the following: God the Almighty said, 'All that is too complex is unnecessary, and it is simple that is needed',"

Mikhail Kalashnikov
"Here lies the bravest soldier I've seen since my mirror got grease on it."

Zapp Brannigan

Friday, February 19, 2016

The Once and Future USS Montana

Okay, maybe it's different now but when I was a lad, growing up in Missoula and watching TV from Butte - the only station we could get - it was hard not to feel left out.
Sidebar: Yes, Missoula had a TV station but it was situated in exactly the wrong place re their transmitter, my house and intervening hills. Therefore I grew up watching Evel Kneival's Dad ("Kneival Imports!!") sell VW Beetles. $1995. each.

So am I painting the picture? Backwater Montana, Little Danny wondering all the time why it never snowed and was horrible winter in the mythic land of television -  and why, if we're only two miles out of town, does our TV come from over a hundred miles away.
Sucked to be me, stuck in this provincial hellhole where my brother and I actually waited with bated breath for a week simply because the next episode of "Rawhide" had "Butte City" mentioned mentioned in the preview. Maybe I thought Gil Favor would run the herd up the Rattlesnake Valley and past my house, I don't know but it felt nice to feel a part of things.
Of course it's probably better now since Robert Redford ruined the state, the Gallatin River and fedoras. Now we can bask in the glory of being from the land of the Two Teds; Katczinski and Turner.
But one honor has eluded the Treasure State - kind of - as hinted at in the title. Fact: Even though Montana is a Yuge state, lots of little, loser states such as North Dakota  (which represented an entire class not just one named-after-a-lame-state boat), Alabama (Ala-fucking-bama!!!) and New Jersey, tiny home of Chris Christie and toxic waste dumps, have had battleships named after them.
But... it sucks slightly less because our great state was poised to become the first of her own class of battleship.
According to Wiki: The new Montana class of five battleships was authorized under the 1940 "Two Ocean Navy" program. A two ocean Navy because these monsters were going to be too chubby for the Panama Canal.
Nearly a third larger than the Iowa class with a displacement of 60,500 tons and three added 16"/50 guns they were gonna be way big and scary in addition to being well armored. In fact they would have been the first American battleships of the war that could survive a hit from a gun of equivalent caliber.
Short version: They were going to be the shit but... all of a sudden it was the bird farms that got all the attention. Some bitchin' models were built though.
Okay, this sucks. Let's go back in time to see if things improve.
There was to be a Montana, BB-51 about twenty years earlier. Now that's what I'm talking about. An actual boat with a hull number - South Dakota class but...
The Washington Naval Treaty, ratified in 1923 and brought about by the reality that the world wasn't engaged in a war anymore and didn't much care for the last one.

 
In the end all the hulls under construction - most over 30% complete were scrapped "in the ways" in 1923. That is to say: The South Dakota class of battleship, six vessels in all, were never completed.
Don't despair, South Dakota fans, My Nav saw fit to create another South Dakota class of battleships, four of them all of which got to actually float around and act like Vessels of Naval Might. Fuck you, South Dakota.
But, before we Montanans soil our collective selves over shame for our state, now the playground of millionaires and right-wing nut-fudges (I never know if that's redundant), there was a USS Montana who kicked ass and took names.
Stolen from Wiki... I'm a lazy man:
USS Montana (ACR-13/CA-13), also referred to as "Armored Cruiser No. 13", later renamed Missoula and reclassified CA-13, was a Tennessee-class armored cruiser of the United States Navy. She was built by the Newport News Drydock & Shipbuilding Co.; her keel was laid down in April 1905, she was launched in December 1906, and she was commissioned in July 1908. The final class of armored cruisers to be built for the US Navy, Montana and her sisters were armed with a main battery of four 10-inch (254 mm) guns, and were capable of a top speed of 22 knots (41 km/h; 25 mph).Montana spent her active duty career in the Atlantic Fleet. She made two cruises to the Mediterranean Sea to protect American citizens in the Ottoman Empire, the first in 1909 in the aftermath of the Young Turk Revolution and the second during the Balkan Wars in 1913. Montana was also involved in political unrest in Central American countries, sending landing parties ashore in Haiti and in Mexico during the Occupation of Veracruz, both in 1914.After the United States entered World War I in April 1917, Montana was tasked with convoy escort and training ship duties. With the end of the war in November 1918 came a new task, transporting American soldiers back from the battlefields of Europe. She made six round trips to France and carried back a total of 8,800 men. Montana was then transferred to the Puget Sound Naval Yard in Washington State, where she was decommissioned and renamed Missoula. She remained in the reserve fleet until 1930, when she was stricken under the terms of the London Naval Treaty. The ship was eventually sold for scrap in 1935 and broken up.
Broken up like my heart.
Four stacks, maximum cool.


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Alvin Clark said...
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