Archive for October, 2017

A Navy Halloween

In honor of Halloween, we thought we would share with you a few Navy ghost stories. So, sit back, turn the lights on and indulge in some eerie tales that have taken place during the Navy’s history.


The Mystery of the Navy’s Ghost Blimp

On August 16, 1942, the L-8, a Navy anti-submarine blimp, was setting off on a routine reconnaissance mission. The destination was the Farallon Islands, about 30 miles off the coast of San Francisco to look for approaching Japanese submarines. The blimp would take off from Treasure Island with two crew members, Ernest Cody and Charles Adams. They would circle the islands and return to base with any information.  An hour into the flight, they radioed back that they had detected an oil spill and would keep investigating. At about 10:30 AM, two ships and a Pan Am airline saw the blimp and it appeared to be on course. Around noon, people on a beach near Dale City watched the L-8 crash into some rocks along the shore before heading back up into the sky. She would finally come down among a residential block just a short distance into the city. When rescuers rushed to the scene of the accident, they were shocked to find that the cockpit was empty. There was no sign of either Cody or Adams anywhere. As the Navy began its investigation, it was found that all equipment was in working order, parachutes and life rafts were still in place, and the radio was fine. Two life vests were missing, however. It was common practice for the men to wear them during a mission if they were to go over the water. As news of the missing crew spread, there were many theories proposed to explain their disappearance. One such theory suggested a potential fight that had broken out between the two which caused them to fall through an open door. Another proposed that they had somehow been captured by the enemy. Some even believed that UFO’s were involved. The L-8 was thoroughly investigated, but no clues were ever found. She was repaired and kept in service until 1982. However, after the crash, her duties were mostly nonmilitary and even used to broadcast sporting events. No trace of the two men have ever been found and the L-8 blimp mystery has never been solved.

USS Hornet

The USS Hornet is often called the most haunted ship in history. She is currently berthed at the decommissioned Alameda Naval Base in California. She is the eighth US ship to be given the Hornet name. Commissioned in 1943, she became a highly decorated ship in WWII. She destroyed 1,410 Japanese aircrafts, damaged 1,269,710 tons of enemy shipping and helped in sinking the battleship Yamato. Despite her impressive record, the Hornet had a long history of tragedy from wartime deaths to accidental deaths. In her 27 years of service, 300 men are believed to have died aboard the ship. Its tragic past may be the reason that she has become one of America’s most haunted ships. Crew and visitors have reported many strange incidents aboard the vessel. Doors will open and close by themselves, objects move across the floor, and spectral sailors will move aboard the ship. An electrician, Derek Lyon-McKeil, was interviewed in December 2000 and described an incident that occurred during fleet week in 1995. He said, “We’d all just bunked down, and we had a rule. No exploring. All of a sudden, I heard this banging noise like someone was opening the hatches who shouldn’t have been. Peter Clayton, our supervisor, came charging around, saying ‘okay, who’s sneaking around opening hatches?’ We realized that everyone in the group was there. As we were all standing there staring at each other, we heard it again. At that point we were pretty secure. It couldn’t have been anyone who’d gotten aboard.”[1] And in 2013, Heidi Schave, the education manager retold a story to a local newspaper. Schave was sitting in her office, she said when ‘it got really cold. I saw a man in a blue uniform. He was clear as day, like you or I, but he wasn’t making any eye contact. He was sort of slow moving. There was a bulkhead there, and he walked right the bulkhead.” [2] These are just two of the many experiences that have drawn people to the ship to experience these hauntings for themselves. The idea that the Hornet is haunted is so popular that when you visit the museum website, they offer special evening tours that talk about the chilling history of the aircraft carrier and the chance to have an experience yourself.

USS Constellation

Located in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor is the USS Constellation. The ship served in different forms from the Civil War till WWII. Built in 1854, the sloop-of-war, was the last sail-only warship designed and built by the US Navy. She was built using salvaged material from the frigate of the same name that was disassembled in 1853. Remaining in service for close to a century, she was decommissioned in 1954 and moved to Baltimore, becoming a National Historic Landmark. USS Constellation’s long service has given her a past filled with many stories and legends that lend themselves to giving her a haunted background. During her active time, there were quite a few untimely and unpleasant deaths below her decks. During reconstruction efforts, the crew reported seeing a man dressed in Civil War attire and others reported hearing crying followed by a cannon. Theses sightings are linked to a sailor who was killed for treason onboard the vessel. When found guilty, he was tied to a cannon which was then fired and sent him to a watery grave. Not all sightings or noises are scary. A friendly ghost, thought to be a former captain, has been said to give tours of the vessel to visitors who think they are being led around by a docent. Manifestations and sightings were said to have started shortly after she was decommissioned and placed in Baltimore. In 1955, the crew of the submarine USS Pike was moored next to the Constellation and reported seeing apparitions, lights and hearing strange noises. Lieutenant Commander Allen Ross Brougham from the Pike is said to have taken a picture of an apparition dressed in 18th-century clothes that were described as having a glowing radiance and wearing a cocked hat and carrying a sword. The Constellation can be toured and visitors can decide for themselves if she is haunted.

Submarine Force Library and Museum

*The Following is an excerpt from the March 1990 issue of The Klaxon.

Footsteps are an uncommon sound aboard a submarine. The whine of the fans and turbines, the roar of steam, and the rush of water over the hull drown out most other sounds. Here on Nautilus footsteps should be just as uncommon, since its equipment is now silent and its crew long departed. But in the eerie silence of this warship put to rest, there can be heard the sounds of footsteps where there should be none, the banging of doors and lockers with no one there, unexplained sounds over the phones, and even once the apparition of a figure carrying a light. The crew that maintains and watches over Nautilus calls this unexplained presence “Herb.” Is it just imagination or could it be a former Nautilus shipmate loyally keeping watch on her. Herb walked the decks, checks the spaces, and reports the status by phone. The present crew will come and go, but Herb seems to be a permeant crew member, always on watch and maintaining Nautilus as the “first and finest.” Of course, we all know there are no ghosts, especially not on Nautilus. The story of “Herb” is simply a folktale, a small part of the larger legend of the Nautilus. It is nice to think that, in addition to the crew and staff there is an extra, ‘friendly’ person watching out for the welfare of Nautilus. – Daniel A Lewis MM1/SS

Those of us who currently work at The Nautilus like to believe that Herb is real. And when you walk the halls at night alone, you can feel his presence. It is nice to know that someone is always there making sure that the boat and museum are ready and waiting for visitors to come and learn about the Submarine Service. While we will be closed for Halloween through November 11 for our yearly maintenance, we invite you to come any time of the year and say hello to Herb. You never know – he might just want to give a tour that day.

[1] Naval History Magazine December 2000


The Whitehead Torpedo

In 1959, The Sound of Music premiered on Broadway. It quickly became a hit and in 1965 was turned into the famous film with Julie Andrews. But did you know that this singing family has a relationship with the torpedo?

The Von Trapp family is not known for their military history but rather for their famous escape of Nazi occupied Austria. What the movie leaves out is the fact that Maria did not actually bring the gift of song into the Von Trapp household. The children already had a love of singing from their mother, Agatha Whitehead Von Trapp. The Von Trapp’s have multiple ties to Navy life. Not only was Georg Von Trapp (the father) in the Austrian Navy serving aboard submarines, Agatha is the granddaughter of Robert Whitehead – the inventor of the modern torpedo. In fact, most of the wealth that belonged to the Von Trapp family before the war was from sales of the Whitehead Torpedo. But who was Robert Whitehead?

Robert Whitehead

Robert Whitehead was born in 1823 in Bolton, England. At fourteen, he left school to become an apprentice to an engineer. He would spend several years attending Manchester’s Mechanics Institute. In 1844, Whitehead left for France and would later start his own business in Milan. By the 1850’s his work with marine steam engines allowed him to have successful businesses throughout Europe. This success attracted the Austrian government, who asked him to develop a new weapon for marine ships. Austrian Captain Giovanni Luppis enlisted the help of Whitehead to develop a weapon that could damage another vessel from a far distance. Their invention became the first self-propelled torpedo and would become the starting point for all future designs.

In 1866, the first experimental model was ready. Propelled by a two cylinder, compressed-air engine, the model could travel 200 yards at a speed of 6 ½ knots. By 1868, Whitehead had refined his design and offered two versions of his torpedo for sale – an 11-foot, 8-inch model and a 14-foot model. The United States Navy described the torpedo in an 1898 manual in the following manner:

The Whitehead Torpedo consists of a cylindrical air-flask to which is attached an ogival head and a conical after-body, bearing the tail. The head contains the explosive charge, for use in action, or fresh-water ballast for use in exercise; the air-flask contains compressed air, the motive power of the torpedo; the after-body contains the engine and the controlling mechanism; and in the tail, are the propellers and the rudder. Air is compressed in the air-flask to a pressure of 1350 lbs. per sq. in., or ninety atmospheres, approximately, and the torpedo is launched from a tube, above or below the water-line, by air or gun-powder impulse. The air-flask is of heavy forged steel; the other parts of the shell of the torpedo are of thin sheet steel, strengthened at various points by strengthening-rings and at the joints by stout joint-rings. The interior parts are generally of bronze, with a few easily accessible parts of steel.[1]

Figure 2

A war-head.
B air-flask.
B’ immersion-chamber.
CC’ after-body.
C engine-room.
DDDD drain-holes.
E shaft-tube.
F steering-engine.
G bevel-gear box.
H depth-index.
I tail.
K charging and stop-valves.
L. locking-gear.
M engine bed-plate.
P primer-case.
R rudder.
S steering-rod tube.
T guide-stud.
UU propellers.
V valve-group.
W war-nose.
Z strengthening-band.

The Austrian Navy was the first to place and order for the torpedo. While Austria purchased the manufacturing rights in 1869, Whitehead negotiated a contract which allowed him to continue selling his torpedo to other countries. By 1881, Britain, Russia, France, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Argentina, and Belgium had purchased Whitehead torpedoes. In 1877, he introduced the MK2, an improved version of his MK1 models that traveled faster and further. The MK2 had speeds of 27-28 knots, but the larger 16 ½ foot model was twice the speed compared to its 11-foot model. At first, the United States tried to develop their own torpedo before buying the Whitehead. In 1892, the Whitehead torpedo joined the U.S. Navy after the E.W. Bliss Company secured manufacturing rights. Five types of models were purchased – MK 1, MK 2, and MK 3 units in multiple sizes. All models featured three-cylinder engines and a gyroscope to control the larger models. The gyroscope was used in the later models solved the issue with course correction that was seen in the MK 1 model. The gyroscope was patented by Ludwig Obry. Whitehead bought the rights to the gyroscope in 1896 to use in his torpedoes. Between 1896 and 1904, the Bliss Company produced 300 Whitehead torpedoes. Whiteheads made up most of the torpedo arsenal for the U.S. Navy until 1910. The MK 3 was still being used in WWI and the last known use of a Whitehead torpedo was in WWII.

Robert Whitehead died in 1905, leaving a small fortune to his family. By the time of his death, new innovations lead to the MK 5. A hot running torpedo, the MK 5 used an air heater and a four-cylinder reciprocating engine. The heat allowed the Whitehead torpedo to run 4000 yards at 27 knots. What Whitehead accomplished in such a short time was rarely seen. The Whitehead torpedo set the primary design of today’s modern torpedoes. While his great-grandchildren are remembered for their singing, Whitehead should also be remembered for the important place he holds in Naval history. A MK 3 Whitehead torpedo is currently on display at the museum.


Fulton’s Torpedo’s

The idea of the torpedo is much older than one might think. The term “sea mine” was first used in the early 16th century when the Dutch would load vessels with large amounts of explosives and set them adrift to use against an enemy. In the 18th and early 19th century, inventors such as David Bushnell and Robert Fulton worked on finding ways to use these sea mines, or “torpedoes”, as these investors referred to them, in warfare. These were the precursors to today’s warheads.

Figure 1 Fulton’s Steamboat Clermont.

Those who study submarine history know the story of Bushnell’s “torpedoes” all too well. These sea mines were floating kegs filled with gunpowder with the hopes that a light shake from an enemy ship would ignite the keg and destroy the British ship. Unfortunately, Bushnell’s submarine and “torpedoes” yielded few results, but set the stage for further developments in the field. Bushnell’s work on underwater explosives gave future inventors the necessary skills to understand the logistics of how a mine might work while submerged. Fulton continued with the development of sea mines, developing a system that would have a clockwork mechanism that could be set and then explode five to ten minutes later. Robert Fulton is best known for creating the first commercial steamboat the Clermont in 1807. However, Fulton contributed more than just a steamboat to the waterways. In 1801, Fulton developed what some believe to be the first practical submarine, which he called Nautilus. Fulton believed that designing a submerged vessel which could carry a torpedo would put an end to maritime wars. In 1797, he stated, “Should some vessels of war be destroyed by means so novel, so hidden and so incalculable he confidence of the seamen will vanish and the fleet rendered useless from the movement of the first terror.”[1]

Figure 2 Cross section through “plunging boat” showing “chambers for submarine bombs. Sketch by Fulton 1806.

Figure 3 Vessel under sail and anchored

Fulton’s original design for a submarine was for the French, but the government rejected the idea, viewing it as a dishonorable way to fight. Using his own funds, Fulton built the vessel hoping to change minds using a functioning prototype. The Nautilus introduced stealth strategy to naval warfare and allowed the torpedo to be mobile. His design included a collapsible mast and sail which provided surface propulsion. A hand-turned propeller allowed the vessels to move while submerged. One unique feature was the use of copper sheets over the iron-ribbed hull. He was the first to use the term “torpedo” to describe a gun powdered device that would explode beneath ships. Compared to the torpedoes of today, Fulton’s torpedoes were merely floating

Figure 4 sighting mechanism details

mines since the idea of self-propulsion had not been developed yet. In 1801, he sank a small ship using his submarine mine with an explosive charge of 20 tons of gunpowder. On October 18, 1805, he succeeded in sinking the 200-ton brig Dorothea. – a first in naval history. The overall premise of his design consisted of a cable with a mine

Figure 5 Pumps, cocks, water chamber, and anchor for “plunging boat”

connected to the ends. Fulton would release the mine in such a way that it would snag the target’s bow, drawing the mines into contact with the ship’s sides as it went by. Compared to previous attempts of his that had failed, he decided to make each mine heavier, ensuring that they would sink beneath the surface and remain underneath the ship undetected. Fulton concluded that a weighted mine beneath the surface, rather than floating on top as in previous designs, would be successful in destroying a ship’s hull.  Fulton would end up scrapping Nautilus and began designing a larger vessel that was never built. Disinterest from France and England led Fulton to draw up designs for the United States and Jefferson who had been in correspondence with Fulton during his time abroad. In 1806, he submitted many designs to the government for their review. Despite Jefferson’s interest in his designs, Fulton’s demonstrations did not live up to his success with the Dorothea. With the success of his steamboat, Fulton would leave behind his submarine designs to focus his energy on other ventures. Despite his focus on his commercial enterprises, Fulton remained adamant in his belief that torpedoes could end Naval warfare. In 1813, Jefferson urged Fulton not to give up his submarine work. He wrote to Fulton that, “I confess I have more hopes of the mode of destruction by submarine than any other.”[2]

Figure 6 Submarine vessel, longitudinal section

Fulton may have been the first to think of a torpedo’s offensive potential. After his death in 1815, torpedo development stagnated. However, it was used during the Civil War by both the North and South, most notably by Lt. William Barker Cushing in sinking the Confederate ram Albemarle at Plymouth, North Carolina in October 1864. Today’s submarines still utilize innovations that were made by Fulton. The conning tower design is like modern submarines. Fulton was also the first to use a compass underwater, rudders to steer and dive and compressed air tanks for breathing.



[All images of submarine sketches are from the collection at the Library of Congress. The collection is entitled {Submarine (“Submarine Vessel, Submarine Bombs and Mode of Attack”) for the United States government} The original images were created in 1806 by Robert Fulton.]



The Navy’s 242nd Birthday!

On October 13, 2017, we will be celebrating the 242nd birthday of the United States Navy. Here at the museum, we will be hosting a food truck festival and Meet the Navy day in order to celebrate. However, what exactly happened on October 13th that makes it the Navy’s birthday?

On April 1775, the Revolutionary War began with the battles of Lexington and Concord. With these battles, a colonial uprising became a war that would last eight years. In the beginning, the war consisted mainly of land battles and by June of 1775, the Continental Army was created and lead by George Washington. Quickly, settlements on the coast began to fear for their safety. America was still a fledgling nation, with most settlements hugging the coastline. The colonies had been dependent on port cities such as Boston and New York to provide material goods coming from Britain. Once the war began, it became clear that Britain would use their Navy, the largest Navy in the world at the time, to their advantage. On June 12, 1775, the Rhode Island Navy was created with two vessels that fended off British Forces in Narraganset Bay. As the war raged on, it was apparent that two vessels were not nearly enough. During an 11-day period in October of 1775, Congress debated whether building its own Navy was worth the cost. Samuel Chase, a congressman from Maryland believed that such a venture would bankrupt the colonies. Edward Rutledge of South Carolina believed that “it would ruin the character, and corrupt the morals of all-out Seamen -[making] them selfish, piratical, mercenary, [and] bent wholly on plunder.” [1] Others such as John Adams argued that by establishing a Navy, they would be creating a system of maritime operations to protect the colonies during the war and after. On October 13, 1775, Congress voted to build two more vessels with 10 carriage guns and manned by crews of 80. The ships would be sent out on a three-month trip to intercept British vessels carrying supplies for its troops. This three-month deployment was the beginning of the Continental Navy that would become the U.S. Navy as we know it today.

Before the end of 1775, the Continental Navy had purchased six additional ships and ordered the construction of 12 frigates. There was a commander (Esek Hopkins)


, eighteen Naval officers, two Marine battalions, established service pay, prize money for captured enemy ships and an administrative body that would give guidance and direction. Four captains were also named – Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicholas Biddle, and John Burrows Hopkins. Their respective ships were the Alfred, Columbus, Andrew Doria, and Cabot.

Continental Ship Alfred (1775-1778) Painting in oils by W. Nowland Van Powell, depicting Lieutenant John Paul Jones raising the Grand Union flag as Alfred was placed in commission at Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 3 December 1775. Commanded by Captain Dudley Saltonstall, Alfred was flagship of Commodore Esek Hopkins’ Continental Navy flotilla during the remainder of 1775 and the first four months of 1776. Courtesy of the U.S. Navy Art Collection, Washington, D.C. Donation of the Memphis Council, U.S. Navy League, 1776. U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command Photograph.

By February of 1776, the fleet was ready for sea and within two months, they returned home with a store of munitions taken at New Providence Island in the Bahamas and two captured British warships. While the British Navy was too formidable for the Continental Navy to contend with, Britain’s commercial vessels were a prime target. Slowing down incoming provisions would seriously hurt mounting land attacks. Ships patrolled trade routes in search of British vessels to capture as prizes. Many of the missions were conducted in the North Atlantic; many times, in French ports or British waters. It was in one of these commercial attacks that one of the more famous quotes of the Revolution was spoken. At the Battle of Flamborough Head (1779), Commander of the Bonhomme Richard, John Paul Jones found himself tangled up with the warship HMS Serapis. Jones found that his cannons were faulty, so his crew had to rely on a close-range battle that lasted into the night. When asked if he wanted to surrender, Jones is believed to have replied, “I have not yet begun to fight.”

John Paul Jones

The Bonhomme Richard won the battle despite the ship being completely battered. Jones was forced to abandon his ship and would sail into a Dutch Port on the captured HMS Serapis flying the American Flag. Jones competes for the moniker of “Father of the American Navy” with Commander John Berry. Raids such as these, along the English coast, brought the war home for British citizens. It was no longer a dispute in the colonies that would never affect them. These highly publicized actions would turn the tide of British support for the war. By 1781, the land conflicts were in America’s favor. The British citizens’ displeasure at the war due to the coastal attacks and the surrender of Cornwallis troops in Yorktown lead to the King George’s move toward peace.

Despite the efforts made by the Continental Navy, it did not reach the heights of greatness that Congress had hoped for. During the war, the Navy had sent out more than 50 armed vessels. They took 200 British vessels as prizes. It was also because of the Navy that France would join the war on America’s side. Until its official entrance into the war in 1778, France turned a blind eye to the Naval attacks on British vessels in its ports from American privateers and the Continental Navy. In some respects, the fears of Congressmen such as Edward Rutledge did come to pass. Hopkins and the Navy had to compete with privateers for supplies and men. Privateers offered sailors high wages and a greater share of captured goods. Privateers were private merchant ships that would receive a “license” to be armed and attack foreign vessels during the war. Unlike the ships of the Continental Navy, privateers could keep and sell the prizes they captured. By January 2, 1778, Congress was displeased with Hopkins’ meager efforts and dismissed him. He was the only Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Navy. Hopkins’ legacy with the Navy is ever present in the Gadsdsen Flag. Christopher Gadsden of South Carolina created Hopkins’ personal standard which flew over the first Navy fleet. The yellow flag bore a coiled snake and the patriot motto, “Don’t Tread on Me.”

During the American Revolution, the Continental Navy made only minimal advancements in the war. Despite this, the victories made created a symbol of national resolve to the rest of the world. A show of unity at home and abroad.  It became the legacy on which today’s Navy was built upon. The Continental Navy was mainly comprised of citizen sailors, which is the basis for today’s Navy reserve. With the Treaty of Paris in 1783, the war was officially over and the Navy was disbanded. By 1794, piracy and the need for a stronger national defense lead to the construction of six new ships including USS Constitution (Old Ironsides). Concern over the management of these ships during battle lead to the creation of the Department of the Navy in 1798. While there are many dates that could be linked to the beginning of our Navy, October 13th was the beginning of the national resolve to protect our shores with a fleet that would one day become stronger than any other.


National Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15th through October 15th is National Hispanic Heritage month. Around the museum are panels explaining some of the contributions that Hispanics have made to the Navy throughout the years. Here are just two of the stories.

Do you know the phrase “Damn the Torpedoes?” Used in countless submarine movies, the origin of the phrase cannot be found at a writer’s table. It dates back to the Civil War and the Battle of Mobile Bay. David G. Farragut

Figure 1 Admiral Farragut

was born in 1801 to a Spanish merchant captain who had served in the American Revolution and War of 1812. At a young age he was sent to live with Captain David Porter in order to learn a trade. By the time he was 9, Farragut joined the Navy, and by 12 served in the War of 1812. During the war he served under Porter aboard the frigate Essex. The Essex captured so many British vessels that Farragut was put in charge of one the captured ships. Despite growing up in the South, David chose to side with the Union once the Civil War broke out. In 1862, as commander of the West Gulf Blockading Squadron, he took the city and port of New Orleans. The Union would create the new rank of Rear Admiral for Farragut as a reward for these actions. Farragut’s greatest contribution during the Civil War came during the Battle of Mobile Bay. Mobile Bay became a major Confederate port on the Gulf of Mexico after the fall of New Orleans, thus making it of special significance to Farragut. While Farragut’s force consisted of 18 warships and the Confederacy only had four, those four included the CSS Tennessee which was said to be the most powerful ironclad afloat. Not only was the Tennessee a concern, but the Union forces were also up against two powerful Confederate batteries inside of forts Morgan and Gaines.

Figure 2 Admiral Farragut and Captain Drayton on deck of U.S. frigate Hartford

On the morning of August 5, 1964, Union forces headed into the mouth of Mobile Bay and faced heavy fire. Within minutes, the USS Tecumseh was sunk by torpedoes placed in the water by the Confederacy and the fleet fell into confusion. It was during this confusion that Farragut rallied his men by saying, “Damn the torpedoes. Full speed ahead!.” While the authenticity of the quote has been questioned over the years, it has become one of the most famous quotes in U.S. military history. The smaller Confederate ships were quickly taken out and the Tennessee was eventually overwhelmed and surrendered after facing heavy damage. Union troops laid siege to the forts within several weeks. While Confederate forces would remain in control of the city of Mobile, the port was no longer able to receive the needed supplies the South would need to help maintain the war. The capture of the Bay was a morale booster and was the first in a line of victories for the Union that culminated with the successful reelection of Abraham Lincoln that fall. In December 1864, Farragut was promoted to Vice Admiral and in 1866, promoted to Admiral. He stayed in active duty until his death in 1870. He is buried in Brooklyn, New York.

Figure 3 Statue of Farragut in New York City


Captain Marion F. Ramirez de Arellano was the Navy’s first Hispanic submarine commanding officer and commanded the USS Balao in three war patrols. During his service he was awarded two Silver Stars, the Legion of Merit and a bronze star. Ramirez de Arellano was born in Puerto Rico in 1913, where he would spend most of his childhood with the exception of a brief period when his family lived in Georgia. Theodore Roosevelt Jr, would appoint Ramirez de Arellano to the U.S. Naval Academy in 1931 during his term as Governor on the Island. Upon his graduation, Ramirez de Arellano was assigned to the USS Ranger, the first ship to be designed and built as an aircraft carrier. During his time on The Ranger, he served as a Gunnery Officer. In 1937 he made the decision to join the submarine force and headed to Groton for Submarine School. In 1938, he was assigned as a Division officer on the USS Pickerel. The Pickerel was training near the Philippines when on December 8, 1941, Japanese ordered an attack. Pearl Harbor was not the only surprise attack initiated by Japanese forces during WWII. Nine hours later and over the international date line, Japanese forces began an air strike in the Philippines that would wipe out air support at Clark Field and nearby fighter base Iba Field. With the exception of the few aircrafts that had been deployed, the entire Far East Air Unit was destroyed. After the attack, The Pickerel was ordered to patrol the coast of the islands. It was during her second war patrol that she sank the Japanese vessel Kanko Maru in the Gulf of Davao off Mindanao. Ramirez de Arellano would participate in five war patrols on the Pickerel, which led the effort to rescue five Navy pilots and one enlisted gunner off Wake Island. He was then reassigned to the USS Skate where he would serve on three war patrols and contributed to the sinking of the Japanese light cruiser Agano. In April of 1944, Ramirez de Arellano was named Commanding Officer of the USS Balao, becoming the first Hispanic submarine commanding officer. He would participate in the boat’s fifth, sixth, and seventh war patrols.

Figure 4 Receiving his Silver Star in 1942

On July 5, 1944, he lead the rescue of three downed Navy pilots in the Palau area, and in January 1945 sunk the Japanese cargo ship Daigo Maru. In 1946, Ramirez de Arellano was named Commanding Officer of Submarine Base Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands. Except for two ship commands from 1952-1954 and 1954-1955, Marion held various administrative and teaching positions for the rest of his Navy carrier. He retired from the Navy on July 1, 1961. Captain Marion F. Ramirez de Arellano died in 1980 and is buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

These are only two of the many stories of Hispanic Contributions to the Navy over the years. The panels in honor of these men and many others will be on display at the museum till October 15, 2017.