"A Copse. Evening"

"A Copse. Evening"
A. Y. Jackson, 1918
"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, March 10, 2017

Leviathan

"A Fast Convoy"



  
I've posted this painting before, only because I absolutely adore it.
It has everything, the stormy North Atlantic, the gallant destroyer USS Allen bucking the swells with her decks awash. Did I mention? She's also one of those too-cool-to-even-exist, four-stackers.
Sigh... Instead, we're going to discuss the big unit, seen lurking off in the murk. But despair not,
it's not like she can't hold our interest.
Remember before the primaries when Marco Rubio piped-up from the kid's table to point out that the USN, my Nav, was rocking the smallest number of vessels since The Great War.
Isn't it cute? He thinks he's a defense wonk.
And our own illustrious president reckons he'd like to have more floaties in the pool as well.
Fact is; at the time old Marco And MOIC (moron in chief) made reference to, the Navy was utilizing a lot of loaners, commandeered civilian vessels etc.
Back to Leviathan; during her brief moment of service, she was the largest troop transport on earth - and somewhat different from the standard troop ship if only because she was so big. She was also a virtual freebie.
First of all, it's not too surprising that she was the largest troop ship since, a few years earlier, she had been the Vaterland.
She was launched 13 April, 1911 and was the largest passenger ship in the world
 
She was a 54,282 gross ton passenger liner built by Blohm & Voss at Hamburg, Germany, as the second of three ultra-liners for the Hamburg-America Line's trans-Atlantic route. 
Bad luck. It seems that on only her third or fourth trans-Atlantic crossing, she had the misfortune to be docked in the US at just the moment that in which that ... unpleasantness began... in 1914.
Well, being a German registered liner, it was deemed unwise for the big girl to venture home until things had sorted themselves out a bit.
Three years later, they were well-and-truly sorted when the US declared war and, certain valuable assets were seized - hey presto - USS Leviathan was born (Laterally promoted).
More boat porn.
The dazzle camo scheme, here looking majorly aggressive was soon adopted and she started carrying the troops. 
 During the period she was active, all of eight months, she transported 119,000 from here to Over There.
About 14,000 head per trip and the Chief Quartermaster - the guy who gets to steer the boat into and out of harbor - for each of those trips was...  Wait for it. Celebrity connection:
No! Not Fred MacMurray, the guy in the middle, the one rocking the Lt Cmdr goodies.
Yes ladies and gentlemen, thirty-four years prior to playing the most famously insane minesweeper captain in the history of literature, Humphrey Bogart, was in reality a competent Navy man. A senior enlisted man at that.


But, peace broke out - like it does and this giant freebie of a ship suddenly became a burden, along with a whole lot of other Naval floating-stock such as commandeered coal-barges etc.
Hems were hawed and hands were sat on regarding the Big Girl until 1924 when, having been rewired, replumbed, her hull strengthened and converted from coal to oil began anew her career as a passenger liner.
It took some time due to an absence of blueprints - as in  - there were none.
The treaty of Versailles had put the German's nose out of joint so they were disinclined to negotiate re "the plans for your ship that we 'happened to acquire' and would now like to rehab." Awkward.
The prints were available but... pricey. Germany was short of $$ at the moment as you know so... the price they were asking was insane
What that meant was that every part of the ship needed to be measured.
From the fathomless mind of Wiki:


"War duty and age meant that all wiring, plumbing, and interior layouts were stripped and redesigned while her hull was strengthened and her engines converted from coal to oil while being refurbished; virtually a new ship emerged.[5]"

Sweet!
Except that... a luxury ocean liner was hardly a guaranteed money-maker... during a depression.
And so it goes...
Wiki will now kindly deliver the eulogy:


In 1937 she was finally sold to the British Metal Industries Ltd. On 26 January 1938 Leviathan set out on her 301st and last voyage under the command of Captain John Binks, retired master of the RMS Olympic, and a crew of 125 officers and men who had been hired to deliver her to the breakers. She arrived at Rosyth, Scotland, on 14 February. In the 13 years that she served U.S. Lines she carried more than a quarter-million passengers, never earning a cent.[5]"

In the word of one of the orators of our era:
Sad.

Aside... RMS Olympic (AKA Titanic's sister ship and thus equally unsinkable) went on to run over the top of - and sink - four different vessels over the course of her career. That's something, isn't it?

1 comment:

Ave said...

Great to see a new article !

And yeah, some destroyed / smaller ship porn would be welcomed, their commanders can afford to be bold (or are more easily ordered to be) than larger, more expensive vessels, so there are probably more adventures.

That said, it seems the English were not too thrilled by the four-stacks in WW2 past the fact that they were there, instead of nothing. But sometimes it's better to have the job done rather than have it *really well* done, such as, nobody needs super arty knives, just a knife made from a random piece of steal and that does its cutting job.

wink wink

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