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Eboreg2

The Derpiest Warships of the Battleship Era

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Hey folks, it's me again from "The Island Wind and the Hurricane" and "Tri-Harder", and I just wanted to comb the Age of Dreadnoughts to find all of the ships who have the greatest claims to fame for all the wrong reasons. Yes, it's a veritable collection of derp and fail as all of derpiest warships in modern history are paraded around to laugh, shame, and generally bring dishonor to their countries. To go forward with this, I'm going to visit each of the major powers, comb their archives, and see what ships suffered the greatest fails and funniest goof-ups. First up is:

The Royal Navy
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The Royal Navy had a very rich naval tradition by the time of World War II but, unfortunately, it was also very entrenched. This might not have been a problem if naval warfare hadn't been undergoing a radical change in the "meta" as it were at the time thanks to the introduction of the aircraft carrier. As a result, the Brits often found their ships suffering some rather embarrassing moments in the course of the war. One might bring to mind HMS Hood, which was a great battleship until it actually saw combat, or HMS Glorious, an aircraft carrier that has the "distinction" of being the only aircraft carrier in history to have been sunk by battleship gunfire but the reward for derpiest warship of the Royal Navy goes to:

HMS VANGUARD
(Why are we building this ship again?)
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HMS Vanguard was a fast battleship that was ordered in March of 1941 in order to get a battleship to the frontline more quickly than the Lion-class battleships that were on back-order. Keep the "more quickly" part in mind as we move forward in this write-up. It was to have a speed of 30 knots and be armed with 4 dual-mounted 15-inch naval rifles. Actually, while we're on the subject of "more battleships bigger guns", let's talk about the comparative strength of the Royal Navy at the time. At the start of World War II, the British had 15 battleships and battlecruisers to their name, and the Americans, while they did not enter the war until much later, had 15 battleships. The Axis, on the other hand, had 10 battleships owned by the Japanese, 4 battleships owned by the Germans, and another 4 battleships owned by the Italians. With this kind of parity in numbers, it's easy to see why the British would want more battleships, especially since the aircraft carrier hadn't yet proved its dominance and probably hadn't even earned it yet. Vanguard was laid down in October of 1941 but by the end of that year, the situation had changed drastically. The Royal Navy had lost 5 of its Battleships but, in return, had commissioned 3 King George V-class battleships bringing their numbers up to 13. While the US Navy had entered the war, this was because of the devastating carrier strike on Pearl Harbor that had sunken or knocked out of action 5 Battleships. In return, the US had managed to build the two battleships of the North Carolina class bringing their numbers to 12. Now you might be thinking, "Wait, didn't the attack on Pearl Harbor prove the dominance of aircraft carriers over battleships?" and you'd be wrong. The American Battleships at anchor did not have any space to take evasive maneuvers and the question of how they would fare in open waters still remained.

A question that was firmly answered with the sinking of HMS Prince of Wales and HMS Repulse 3 days later.

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On the Axis side of naval buildup, the Empire of Japan had managed to commission the mighty Yamato into service bringing their count up to 11 Battleships and while the Italians had lost an old Conte di Cavour-class battleship, they made up for it by commissioning 2 Littorio-class Battleships bringing their numbers up to 5. The Germans, on the other hand, were not doing too hot and after the loss of the Bismarck, Hitler had said the equivalent of, "Screw this, screw that, screw everything! No more Battleship sorties, Unrestricted Submarine Warfare away!" Of course, the pressing need for the Brits to start building more Anti-Submarine Warfare vessels and fast slowed Battleship production but amidst all this, they were still building the Vanguard.

By the end of 1942 and amidst all of the sweaty hot Battleship action taking place around Guadalcanal and in the Mediterranean, the situation had improved somewhat for the Allies. The Americans had not only managed to bring all of their South Dakota-class battleships into service but had even repaired the battleship Nevada to bring their total to 17 battleships. The Brits were also doing strong by completing 2 more King George V-class battleships to bring their total to 15 but were having serious problems with all those U-boats that the Germans kept throwing at them. On the axis side, the Italians had managed to bring one more Littorio-class battleship to bring their total to 6 but while the Japanese had commissioned the mighty battleship Musashi, they had lost two Kongo-class fast battleships in return leaving 10 battleships in total. The Germans, meanwhile, had stopped all battleship construction and sorties leaving three oversized paperweights in the ports while the subs stole all the fun and made life absolute hell for British Merchant Mariners but even with all these priorities elsewhere, the Brits were still building the Vanguard.

This might have been somewhat understandable at the end of 1942 but the situation at the end of 1943 makes you wonder what the British admiralty were smoking when they kept sinking resources into this massive fast battleship. Not only had Italy surrendered, not only was the German surface fleet still cowering in port especially after the Scharnhorst stuck its nose out too far and got sunk in return, not only did the Japanese lose a battleship and the Americans finish two Iowas to bring the totals to 9 and 19 respectively, but the Americans had even decided to stop battleship construction after completing two more Iowas since the carrier had finally proved its dominance over the sea beyond a shadow of a doubt. And the British were still building the Vanguard! They weren't finished! They weren't even close to finished! Why in the unholy mother of [DELETED] did they not scrap the project and focus on building, I don't know, destroyers? Aircraft carriers? Tanks?!!!! And for that matter, why was the Vanguard still under construction at the end of 1944, well past its original delivery date in 1943! This was after the Battle of Leyte Gulf where the Japanese lost two Fuso-class battleships and the Musashi bringing their total to 6, 5 if you count the Kongo's run-in with USS Sealion. Not only that but they had also suffered a humiliating defeat at the Battle off Samar, proving just how capable a carrier force was at defeating a surface force that was within gunnery range, even with understrength air wings and minimal escorts. And, oh yeah, Tirpitz had suffered a nasty case of Tallboy syndrome leaving the Germans with only 1 battleship to their name. Not to mention the Americans had managed to bring their battleship total to a whopping 23 thanks to the remaining Iowas and two slow battleships that were refloated from Pearl Harbor. AND THE BRITS WERE STILL BUILDING THE VANGUARD!!! What did they even hope to use it for? Was it for shore bombardment, carrier escort, waving a giant steel [DELETED]? And what's the problem with using the older Nelsons or KGVs? And for that matter, who were they hoping to use it against, the Russians? Yeah right, that's gonna explain the expenditure to Parliament. The Vanguard wasn't completed until 1946! After Operation Ten-Go, after both Japan and Germany had surrendered each with only 1 Battleship to their name, and after the US Navy had become more powerful than the entire rest of the world's navies combined. I have studied military history quite thoroughly and I have been able to justify many dubious military choices, I am able to justify the Tiger tank, I am able to justify the Yamato, I am even able to justify the Maginot Line, so you'll have to understand where I'm coming from when I say that I can not justify the Vanguard.

Edited by Eboreg2
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The Regia Marina from Italy
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The Italian military, not just their navy, has become the butt of many jokes about incompetence and as the saying went, "The competence of an Italian warship captain is inversely proportional to the displacement of his ship." With that in mind, the reward for the derpiest warship in the Italian navy goes to:

THE HEAVY CRUISER POLA
(Fighting ship or Frat house?)
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Pola was a Zara-class heavy cruiser that was commissioned in December of 1932. During the war, Pola had a fairly unremarkable career until the Battle of Cape Matapan. After an inconclusive action on March 28, 1941, the Brits decided to launch air raids from HMS Formidable. The third and last such raid managed to completely spank Pola amidships with a torpedo knocking out five boilers and the main steam line leaving her dead in the water. It is at this point that Pola's story takes a turn for the hilarious. When the torpedo hit, most of the crew panicked and abandoned ship without waiting for instructions. I should mention at this point that when Italians abandoned ship, they had a policy of getting bug**** drunk in order to keep the cold out. Unfortunately, Pola had NOT been sunk, she was only dead in water so the soggy sailors hauled themselves back up on deck and stripped off all of their soggy clothes in order to not die of hypothermia. Pretty sound reasoning but I'm pretty sure any outsider who came on deck to one of Mussolini's finest warships only to see it being crewed by a bunch of nude, drunken sailors would probably start having second thoughts about the war effort. Pola's sister ships, Zara and Fiume, were ordered to go back in the night in order to tow Pola back to port for repairs but unfortunately, the Italians had severely underestimated just how strong the British presence was in the area. Right smack in the middle of the night, the Queen Elizabeth-class battleships HMS Barham, HMS Valiant, and HMS Warspite picked them up on radar and started closing the range. Lookouts on board Pola noticed the incoming battleships but thought that they were Italian. Pola even fired off a recognition flare just to make sure. Of course, all she did was confirm to Brits that they were about to fire on Italian warships. Keep in mind:
A) The Zara-class cruiser did not carry any torpedoes
B) The three cruisers in question were in no way ready for combat what with one dead in the water and the other two towing the first and
C) The Battleships were only 3.5 km away

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It didn't end well for poor Zara and Fiume and the two were rendered completely combat-ineffective within the space of only three minutes leaving their hulks to sink before sunrise. You might think that Pola's crew would have met their impending doom with honor, dignity, and respect as befitting military officers. You'd be wrong about that as Pola's crew instead decided "f*** it!" and threw a drunken college dorm party on deck like there was no tomorrow. To be fair, it would have been a safe assumption to assume that there was but the Brits actually managed to get boarding parties on the Pola's deck to discover literally hundreds of drunk, naked, and thoroughly soggy young adults doing their darnedest to stamp out the myth of "military professionalism". While the crew did live to rot in a military prison camp another day, their reputation had been irreversibly soiled by this episode of frat-house shenanigans.

Edited by Eboreg2
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The Imperial Japanese Navy
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The Imperial Japanese Navy had very high standards for entry and an absolutely brutal regime for military exercises but that didn't mean that they were completely immune to incompetence, especially major design flaws. One might bring to mind the aircraft carrier Kaga, a "ship of victory" that was only good at seal-clubbing and torturing the crew or the battleship Mutsu, a world-leader in battleship design that was lost to a port-side accident. One can even bring up the first three Japanese destroyers named "Inazuma" who, combined, had such a reputation for ramming friendly ships that I'm pretty sure the crew of the fourth Inazuma has a betting pool but the award for the derpiest warship of Japan goes to:

THE HEAVY CRUISER AOBA
(They're friendlies! I swear!)
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The Aoba was commissioned in September of 1927 and was actually fairly respected during the war... by the Americans. The Japanese, on the other hand, view the Aoba in an entirely different light. To gain insight into the legendary derp of Aoba, let us first look at the Battle of Savo Island. Many here may already know what happened but for those who don't, a series of spread out American and Australian cruisers were jumped by a well-organized Japanese cruiser force led by Vice Admiral Gunichi Mikawa in the Chokai and had the teeth kicked out of them. At the time Aoba was the flagship of Cruiser Division 6 led by Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto and, as well as the Aoba, consisted of her sister ship Kinugasa and both ships of the Furutaka-class of heavy cruisers, Furutaka and Kako. During the Japanese retreat from the engagement, Goto, who I should mention was aboard the Aoba, felt that the area was well and truly clear of submarines and so ordered his division to stop their defensive zig-zag formation. It was then that an old American S-class submarine, S-44, put some torpedoes into Kako. Now the S-class subs were absolute garbage for the time, too small, too slow, not enough range, and generally old but they did have one distinct advantage over the more advanced fleet submarines in the US Navy. Their torpedoes actually worked. And that my friends is how the heavy cruiser Kako was sunk by the incompetence of her division commander aboard the Aoba but if you think that's bad, you ain't seen nothing yet.

The Battle of Cape Esperance was a great boost to American morale but nowadays, is held up as an example as how the commander who makes the least mistakes wins. Rear Admiral Aritomo Goto was back in the Aoba, this time in charge of the entire Japanese Task Force consisting of the three cruisers of Cruiser Division 6 as well as the Fubuki-class destroyers Fubuki and Hatsuyuki. As the Japanese and American Task Forces approached each other, Goto spotted them at a range of 11,000 yards and flashed the Aoba's identification signal believing that the American ships were friendly. Goto was unwilling to change his conviction and again ordered the Aoba to flash its identification signal at a range of 7,000 yards, this despite being the only person on the bridge who still thought the American ships were friendly but this is where things get hilarious. You see, warships consist of hundreds if not thousands of people working in concert with each other and constantly talking to understand what needs to be done. As such, it usually takes some time for orders to be executed. In this case, by the time the Aoba had gotten around to flashing the identification signal, the Americans had already opened fire! So here this heavy cruiser giving her position away and thus attracting fire by flashing her identification signal at enemy warships in order to prevent a "friendly" fire incident from warships that aren't even friendly! Oh, and to top it all off, the heavy cruiser Furutaka turned on its searchlight in order to draw fire away from the Aoba but all that did was get the Furutaka sunk instead. And I'm not done yet not only was the Fubuki sunk during the withdrawal but that morning, the Fubuki-class destroyer Murakumo came in to assist the survivors of the Furutaka and got sunk by Land-based air strikes off of Henderson Field. So Rear Admiral Goto's utter incompetence, while in command of the Aoba, not only wiped out the Furutaka-class of heavy cruisers but also got two destroyers of the ground-breaking Fubuki-class sunk, including the nameship herself. And because there is no justice in the world, Admiral Goto managed to fail his way up to Tier 10 and get his hands on a Zao and to this day, he still terrorizes any team he ends up on with his...

...wait, I'm getting "real life" and "video games" mixed up again. Actually, what happened was that Goto received some very strict disciplinary action from Charles F.* Darwin meaning to say: he got killed in the resulting exchange of fire.

At this point, with the Aoba's reputation among her friends thoroughly wrecked, it was almost as if she decided to gain the respect of her foes. In April 3 of 1943, Aoba was moored at Moewe anchorage near Kavieng, New Ireland when a flight of B-17s performed a skip-bombing attack on her. A direct hit managed to blow up two of her Long Lance torpedoes and left her burning and flooding with no handy "R" key nearby because this is real life, idiots! Aoba had to be beached in order to avoid sinking and the American pilots reported her as a probable sinking. Of course, the hearty cruiser just kept on trucking and on October 23 of 1944, Aoba was torpedoed by the submarine USS Bream taking out her No. 2 engine room and giving her a 13 degree list to starboard. Aoba was towed to Cavite for repairs but on the 24th and the 29th she was hit by two separate carrier strikes from Task Force 38 which means to say: Every mother-trucking frontline carrier in the entire US Navy. After witnessing her survive all that as well as the damage inflicted on her during the Battle of Cape Esperance, the Americans gave the Aoba the nickname of "The Wolf of Solomon" and who can blame them? The Aoba's tendency to come back from the brink of death was almost in line with that of an American warship!

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Of course, this didn't mean that Aoba wasn't still susceptible to the powerful forces of derp. On November 6 of 1944, Aoba was escorting the heavy cruiser Kumano to Luzon and I should mention that Kumano was having a very bad day. In fact, Kumano was having a very bad month starting with getting her bow blown off by USS Johnston at the Battle off Samar. I should probably add a write-up about this incredibly bad month later but anyways, Kumano had just come under attack from no less than four US submarines and despite some of the most epic torpedo-beating perhaps in history, had taken two torpedo hits and was dead in the water. It was then that Aoba, suffering troubles of her own from the aforementioned submarine and carrier attacks, flashed a message to Kumano: "Now I am not capable of towing you. Excuse me." To the crew of the Kumano, this sounded like, "Excuuuuuse me princess!" and many of them reported being flabbergasted by that last line. All stories must come to an end however, on the 24th of July, 1945, Aoba was attacked by about 30 planes from Task Force 38 during the Raid on Kure Harbor and was finally sent to the bottom of the sea

... in shallow water. :Smile_trollface: Yup, the "Wolf of Solomon" was now a gigantic metallic island which the Japanese Admiralty saw fit to add a metric buttload of anti-aircraft guns to in order to provide home defense. This no-longer-floating wreck of a ship was still attracting the attention of US Navy Carrier Groups and they bombed it again on the 28th of July setting her on fire with four bombs, which attracted the attention of US Army bombers that hit her with another four bombs. Aoba was finally removed from the Navy List on the 20th of November, 1945, after the war had ended, and she was scrapped from 1946-1947. Thus ended the career of the derpiest warship of the Imperial Japanese Navy, a heavy cruiser that had earned the absolute disgust of her friends and the utmost respect of her enemies.

 

*Don't make me explain what the "F" stands for

Edited by Eboreg2
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The Kriegsmarine from Germany
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It's no surprise that the derpiest warship of the German Navy is a submarine. After all, with over 1,500 of those things produced during the war, some of them are going to have less luck than others. The story of U-202 beaching itself in front of what must have seemed like the entire American public comes to mind as well as U-1206 literally s***ing itself to death but the derpiest submarine of the German Navy remains:

U-505
(The feeling that Murphy hates your guts)
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U-505 started life as a fairly unremarkable Type IX-C U-boat but soon gained many dubious distinctions until her career ended in the most embarassing way possible. Her first three patrols were fairly uneventful but she gained her first dubious distinction on her fourth patrol when she was first captained by the ever-hapless Peter Zschech. On the 10th of November, 1942, while U-505 was cruising in the Carribean Sea, she was caught on the surface by a British 2-engine bomber that then proceeded to make a low-level bombing run. The bomber landed a 250-lb bomb smack on the deck killing a watch officer and wounding another in the conning tower, tearing off the anti-aircraft gun, and also seriously damaging the pressure hull. Fortunately for the ship, the bomber was destroyed in the explosion. UNfortunately, it had flooding in numerous critical compartments and her pumps were knocked out causing Captain Zschech to order abandon ship. However, the technical staff managed to get the hapless sub watertight again after nearly two weeks of repair work, and after transferring the wounded crewman to a supply sub, U-505 limped all the way from the Carribean Sea, across the Atlantic, and back to occupied France earning the (somewhat dubious) distinction: "most heavily damaged U-boat to successfully return to port".

Unfortunately for the poor U-boat, the pain was just starting and her 5th-9th patrols turned out to be very remarkable for how short they were. Her fifth patrol ended after only 13 days after a concerted attack from British destroyers and the next four saw U-505 gain a 5-star wanted rating from the French Resistance. U-505 had to make so many quick returns to port from faulty equipment and sabotage from the French dockworkers that she soon became the butt of many jokes among the U-boat community. Upon the return from one botched patrol, they found a sign at the dock reading "U-505's Hunting Ground" and another time, Captain Zschech, overheard a joke where, at a time when many U-boats were getting sunk: "There is one commander who will always come back... Zschech." Things were starting to look up when U-505's 10th patrol lasted longer than 2 days but it was really a matter of "out of the frying pan, into the fire." On October 24, 1943, 15 days into the patrol, U-505 once again came under attack from British destroyers. Captain Zschech had already taken a lot of borderline verbal abuse and the stress of the prolonged depth-charging proved to be so great that he quickly reached for his service pistol and publicly blew his own brains out.

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Aw man, now things just got a lot less funny

Just like that, U-505 had gained several more dubious distinctions, hosting the first underwater suicide in the history of naval warfare as well as the first and only time someone had committed suicide while in command of a warship in battle. Ever. In all of naval history. Let that sink in for a second. U-505's 11th patrol only lasted 9 days so they could rescue the crew of a sunken torpedo boat, which was rather understandable given the shock they had recently gone through. In fact, the degrading morale over the past 7 patrols most likely indirectly caused U-505 to gain its final dubious distinction during its 12th and last patrol. Cryptographers had managed to track down the hapless U-boat and sent out an American hunter-killer task force consisting of one Casablanca-class Escort Carrier as well as one Buckley and 4 Edsall-class Destroyer Escorts. After receiving comparatively minor damage to the ship, the crew of U-505 simply... gave up. The captain ordered them to abandon ship and they followed through so quickly that they failed to properly scuttle it.

And that was how U-505 gained its final dubious distinction: First warship to be captured by the US Navy since the War of 1812.

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As if things weren't bad enough...

While the codebooks were of minimal value thanks to the folks at Bletchley Park, U-505's acoustic homing torpedoes proved to be essential in helping the Allies develop countermeasures. Also, in order to preserve the secret of Ultra, U-505's entirely intact crew was held away from all of the other prisoners in the POW camps. After the war, the US Navy had no more use for U-505 and was about to dispose of it as target practice when Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry started to show an interest in the little German ship. U-505 had been gutted of all of her equipment at that time but in an interesting twist of fate, the German companies that produced the equipment provided new copies to the Museum of Science and Industry free of charge, feeling that U-505 should serve as a beacon to the world of the true greatness of German technology. U-505 still serves that role, displayed in a climate-controlled drydock in Chicago to this very day.

Edited by Eboreg2
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Well, that was depressing, let's cheer things up a bit.

US Navy
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The US Navy was in a rather unique position during World War II: they were just beginning to learn the rules of naval warfare when everyone else had to relearn the rules of naval warfare. Through the war the US Navy grew and matured from having a fairly respectable navy, on paper at least, to being more powerful than the naval forces of the entire rest of the world combined. Some might argue that it still holds that position even today. However, that is not to say that there weren't bumps in the road. One could bring to mind USS Tang and USS Tullibee, submarines that were sunk by their own torpedoes. Another strong contender is USS South Dakota, a fast battleship that suffered an electrical failure rendering it blind, deaf, mute, and impotent in the middle of a major night battle. However, the award for derpiest warship of the US Navy can only be, beyond a shadow of a doubt:

USS William D. Porter
(I didn't just try to assassinate the President twice! Honest!)
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USS William D. Porter was a small Fletcher-class destroyer that quickly gained a reputation for friendly fire at the most inopportune targets possible. Her story begins with her starting her first cruise on November 12, 1943. Her mission was to escort the mighty battleship Iowa while she carried a very valuable package to Egypt, President Franklin Delanor Roosevelt. He was headed to Tehran in order to begin a major conference with Churchill and Stalin to plan the future of the war against Nazi Germany. William D. Porter did not get off to a great start when she dragged an anchor chain across one of her sister ships but that was child's play compared to sheer mayhem that the small destroyer would inflict on her own troops. A day later, on the 13th of November, one of William D. Porter's depth charges proved to be rather poorly secured and it rolled overboard and exploded. Within killing distance of the President. The rest of the Task Force panicked, assuming that they were under submarine attack and made frantic maneuvers to locate the alleged U-boat and dodge any further attacks while wondering if the operation had been compromised. The crew of William D. Porter soon cleared up the mistake, in what I can only assume was in a rather sheepish tone of voice. If you think that was bad, wait until you hear what happened the next day. Iowa took part in an anti-aircraft drill to show off to President Roosevelt and later on, a mock torpedo attack was carried out against the Iowa by William D. Porter. Unfortunately, one of those "mock" torpedoes accidentally became a very REAL torpedo leaving William D. Porter in the unenviable position of having just fired a torpedo at the President. To Willy D's credit, she did try to warn the Iowa so evasive maneuvers could be performed but she, unfortunately, also tried to keep radio silence and use a signal lamp with an inexperienced, suddenly very jumpy signals officer. At first, the signals officer claimed that the torpedo was going the opposite direction, understandable, but then he flubbed the message again by saying the ship was reversing full speed.

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Finally, her signals officer got on the [DELETED] voice radio and told the crew of the Iowa about the incoming threat in time for proper evasive maneuvers to be made. By this point, the Admiral in charge of the Task Force, sensing that little Willy D. was bound and determined to jeopardize the operation, sent it to Bermuda to await further instructions. What he didn't tell them was that "further instructions" actually meant "a bunch of angry Marines with orders to arrest the entire crew". This was the first time in the entire history of the US Navy that the entire crew of a warship was arrested. After surviving the rather pointed inquiry of whether the crew were idiots or presidential assassins, they were banished re-assigned to Alaska to serve garrison duty. After about a year of that and facing re-assignment to the Philippines, the crew got a little drunk. Then one of the sailors decided to give the 5-inch guns a whirl. And shot the Base Commander's flower garden. When he was having a dinner with officers and their wives. Man, if the ship's reputation wasn't bad enough, this would have gone unnoticed but this is the William D. Porter we're talking about. Nothing was going to escape the mockers. By this time, kamikazes were starting to make their presence known and the Willy D. quickly found her calling. Throughout the rest of the war, Willy D. managed to shoot down a whopping 9 Japanese aircraft and her radar-directors helped friendly fighters splash 7 more. Things were starting to look up for the hapless destroyer UNTIL...

On June 10, 1945, William D. Porter was on picket station duty which was basically the US Navy sending destroyers out to soak up kamikazes so they don't hit the heavier assets. At 0815 hours, a kamikaze started heading right for the Willy D, Tuesday really at this point. Willy D began to take evasive actions and pretty soon, the kamikaze harmlessly splashed down right next to the Willy D. Then the bomb went off. Right under the Willy D's keel. Poor old William D. Porter was lifted right out of the water and then smacked right back down. This proved to be an absolutely devastating hit and the poor destroyer couldn't be salvaged. The entire crew safely abandoned ship and 13 minutes later, William D. Porter became the only warship to have ever been sunk by an airplane that was shot down before it could deploy its ordnance.

Edited by Eboreg2
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20 minutes ago, Eboreg2 said:

-snip-

...I can not justify the Vanguard.

First off, fantastic write-up, I had a lot of fun reading it.

If you'll indulge my armchair theorizing, could it be that they were building it to fight the Americans? This is before the Suez crisis, when Britain still considered itself the world's largest empire, and critically; the ruler of the waves. From this perspective, if America was going to have 23 battleships, Britain must at least try to compete. No?

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Before I give the reward for the derpiest warship in the world, I would like to recap on all of the runners-up in order of derpiness:

From the British: A battleship that should have never been built

From the Italians: A heavy cruiser that became a drunken frat house before it sank

From the Japanese: A heavy cruiser known by its friends for horrible command decisions and by its enemies for its unholy durability

From the Germans: A dock-hogging submarine where nothing ever went right

And lastly from the Americans: A destroyer that nearly fragged the President twice

The reward for the derpiest ship not only of their country but of the entire world comes from:

Russia
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The Russians do not have a particularly strong naval tradition what with being a mostly landlocked country so when I talk about the derpiest warship of Russia, you'll have to understand the kind of depths I'm plumbing here. This final contestant is not just one warship that went "derp" but an entire battle fleet. By all rights, they should have been disqualified from the list due to pre-dating the Age of Dreadnoughts, but the sheer levels of failure, hilarity, and downright derpiness were more than enough to make up for that deficiency. With that in mind, the reward for the derpiest warships not just of the Russian/Soviet Navy but of the entire world goes to:

The Second Pacific Squadron
(You're a long way from the battlefield to be "under attack")
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Let us first take a flashback to 1904. Some backwater Asian country that many felt was no greater than a potential colony was rapidly gaining in power and authority and was on the fast track to becoming as respectable as any European power. That country was, of course, the Empire of Japan, and they were well into the act of wielding their newfound military might in the Russo-Japanese War. Hostilities were kicked off on February 8th when a group of IJN destroyers launched a surprise attack on the Russian Far East Fleet in Port Arthur and soon, the Russian fleet was bottled up in that port with very little courses of action before them. It was then that someone in Russian High Command got the bright idea of sending their western fleets all the way across the Atlantic, Mediterranean, and Indian Oceans to relieve the besieged Far East Task Force. However, that was easier said than done as they were literally traveling halfway around the world with very little in the way of logistical support since they couldn't dock at any neutral ports. Things got much worse after the so-called "Dogger Bank Incident". The Dogger Bank Incident happened largely due to the mind-boggling paranoia of the Russian Task Force whose members began to see a Japanese presence just about bloody everywhere. This paranoia got so bad that it eventually explosively manifest itself in the Dogger Bank when the Russian battleships mistook a group of British fishing trawlers for Japanese Motor Torpedo Boats and opened fire on them. Just to keep track of things, the countries that Dogger Bank is near to include Denmark, the Netherlands, Britain, France, and Germany. Anyone with half a brain and even the most basic knowledge of geography will know that that is nowhere near Japan.

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It gets worse, if that were even possible. During the chaos, Russian warships in the formation even fired on two of their own ships, the cruisers Aurora and Dimitrii Donskoi, because the Japanese could totally sneak heavily armed cruisers into British waters without anyone noticing[/sarcasm]. Some of the Battleships reported taking torpedo hits and the crew of the battleship Borodino even came to the erroneous conclusion that they were being boarded.

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When the shooting stopped, the bodycount ended up as the British trawler Crane sunk, it's captain and first mate killed, one other British sailor who later died of injuries sustained from the gunfire, one Russian chaplain and another sailor also killed, and 1 Russian and 5 British sailors seriously wounded. If that bodycount seems rather small for a helpless fishing fleet being engaged by a mighty column of battleships, keep in mind that the quality of Russian gunnery was incredibly bad. The battleship Oryol, for example, fired 500 rounds without registering a single hit. Of course, this is like saying, "Yeah, my warhorse may have tried to trample your farmers but at least his legs were too weak to cause any real damage." I seriously doubt the Force commander had a warm feeling in the pit of his stomach after that incident and of course, there's also the diplomatic fallout to consider. The British were just as, if not more incredulous at the mis-identification than you are dear readers and they nearly went to war with Russia over that mess-up. As it happened, the British only told the Russians that there was no way in hell they were allowed free passage through the Suez Canal after that stunt they pulled.

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Of course, this meant that they had to go around the tip of Africa to reach their destination now and a hellishly long journey got a whole lot longer. They had to stop at sea about 30-40 times to buy coal from civilian colliers. Not to mention the voyage had taken more than 7 months in rough seas and the sailors of the fleet just simply were not up to the task of fighting the Japanese fleet, especially since Port Arthur had already fallen by then. The reason is, let's be honest, if you had to spend more than seven months cramped up in a rolling metal box without any sort of climate controls, would you be up to the task of taking a speed-calculus test in the middle of a redneck Fourth of July parade? The Japanese, on the other hand, were highly trained, very experienced, and honed to a razor's edge of striking efficiency. That wasn't the only problem the Russians faced, their shells were designed to penetrate armor but had very little in the way of explosive charges and what explosives were there didn't work more often than not. The Japanese, on the other hand, used shells filled with high-explosive that were designed to wreck the superstructure and set it, the paintwork, and the large amount of the coal on deck on fire. And, oh yeah, did I mention the Japanese gunners were incredibly accurate?

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And you thought you suffered from HE spam

When the smoke had cleared, every single one of the 11 battleships in the doomed and derpy Second Pacific Squadron had been sunk along with four of their eight cruisers and six of their nine destroyers with three of their cruisers getting confiscated by the Americans and a destroyer getting confiscated by the Chinese. Japanese losses amounted to three torpedo boats. This decisive naval battle allowed Japan to burst onto the world stage as the sixth greatest naval power and also proved to be a watershed moment in Japanese naval history. The Russians, on the other hand, sued the Japanese for peace upon hearing the results of the battle and the reputation of their Romanov dynasty received a scar that did not heal before they were deposed in 1917. However, the impact of the lopsided Battle of Tsushima does not end there as the British took the lessons of that battle to design and build HMS Dreadnought, thus kicking off the Age of Dreadnoughts. I guess in that sense, the Second Pacific Squadron was a part of the Age of Dreadnoughts but I imagine the Russian Navy learned many lessons about naval warfare from that engagement, especially the importance of crew comfort.

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AGGGHBLRGHFGURJFLEIJGELIJFE!!!

Edited by Eboreg2
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Lastly, let it never be said be said that I am prejudiced, I dirtbag everyone equally. With that in mind, I would like to present:

The French Navy
5a90c093d48a1_Frenchflag_svg.thumb.png.0cdffd3330147ddcada3a86638aabadd.png

Unfortunately, the French Navy never really got a chance to go "derp" during the Age of Dreadnoughts.


That was the army's job.

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9 minutes ago, senseNOTmade said:

First off, fantastic write-up, I had a lot of fun reading it.

If you'll indulge my armchair theorizing, could it be that they were building it to fight the Americans? This is before the Suez crisis, when Britain still considered itself the world's largest empire, and critically; the ruler of the waves. From this perspective, if America was going to have 23 battleships, Britain must at least try to compete. No?

The phrase "fighting a forest fire with a cup of water" comes to mind...

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24 minutes ago, Eboreg2 said:

The phrase "fighting a forest fire with a cup of water" comes to mind...

Maybe, but as long as you have that cup of water you can still technically call yourself a firefighter.

 

I guess the other explanation would be a mixture of sunk costs fallacy, bureaucratic inflexibility and nobody important enough to change anything being bothered to pay attention, but that's kind of a boring explanation.

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Oh god, I'm dying over here. Especially when I got to Germany

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That was fantastic. I've heard the story of the Second Pacific Squadron in a book of mine called "Great Naval Blunders", and it's just a catastrophe.

 

Excellent work man! :Smile_great:

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57 minutes ago, Eboreg2 said:

Lastly, let it never be said be said that I am prejudiced, I dirtbag everyone equally. With that in mind, I would like to present:

The French Navy
5a90c093d48a1_Frenchflag_svg.thumb.png.0cdffd3330147ddcada3a86638aabadd.png

Unfortunately, the French Navy never really got a chance to go "derp" during the Age of Dreadnoughts.


That was the army's job.

 

AHEM.

Gensoul never telling Darlan that the British were willing to let the French fleet be interned in America just because he was buttmad over Somerville sending a captain who could speak French to negotiate instead of coming himself and needing a translator IS NOT DERPY HOW?

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2 minutes ago, Guardian54 said:

 

AHEM.

Gensoul never telling Darlan that the British were willing to let the French fleet be interned in America just because he was buttmad over Somerville sending a captain who could speak French to negotiate instead of coming himself and needing a translator IS NOT DERPY HOW?

Well, this is a write-up about derpy warships, not derpy commanders.

 

...and I never heard that story.

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Hilarious, HMS Trinidad would have been at the top of the list, she managed to torpedo herself.

Which French pre-dreadnought was not seaworthy due to the weight of the marble deck tile in officer country? Masséna seem's to ring a bell, but it could have been any of her floating disasters of half sisters as well.

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45 minutes ago, Eboreg2 said:

Well, this is a write-up about derpy warships, not derpy commanders.

You specifically said the French Navy never got a change to go Derp

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attack_on_Mers-el-Kébir#Ultimatum

Quote

Somerville passed the duty of presenting the ultimatum to a French speaker, Captain Cedric Holland, commander of the carrier HMS Ark Royal. Gensoul was affronted that negotiations were not being conducted by a senior officer and sent his lieutenant, Bernard Dufay, which led to much delay and confusion. As negotiations dragged on, it became clear that neither side was likely to give way. Darlan was at home on 3 July and could not be contacted. Gensoul told the French government that the alternatives were internment or battle, but omitted the option of sailing to the French West Indies. [8] Removing the fleet to United States waters had formed part of the orders given by Darlan to Gensoul in the event that a foreign power should attempt to seize the ships under his command.

As far as I'm concerned Gensoul should have been hunted down and hanged as a traitorous dog after the war for getting French sailors killed and French ships destroyed purely for his ego.

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Well, I don't share some of your opinions, starting with the U-505 which had 8 kills to credit with 12 patrols. She might not have been as infamous as U-48 with 51 ships sunk during her 13 patrols, but at least she wasn't U-869 with no kills but supposedly herself. No, I wouldn't give the "most derpiest" to a terror of the sea, I'd give it to the cruiser Blücher, a brand new ship charging an old WW1 fortress only to prove the lemming theory that screams derp while her crew sang Deutschland during her final moments in irony.

Also, not Aoba, Yamato will always be a huge waste of resources and man power, but I wouldn't give her that credit either, but her third sister... largest warship ever sunk by a submarine, she reeks of derp right down to the pilot shortage and needed aircraft to make her worth of being converted into a CV. I believe Shinano deserves that honor...

Edited by Fallschirmfuchs

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Overall, a lot of these are geniuely funny stories.

 

However.

 

While I'll understand if you just laugh at me for being a triggered Italian or something like that, I'm afraid I cannot abide by your 'account' of Pola's fate, given how much of it is factually incorrect, never mind the embellishment (which I can understand given the context of the thread as a whole).

 

2 hours ago, Eboreg2 said:

 The third and last such raid managed to completely spank Pola amidships with a torpedo knocking out five boilers and the main steam line leaving her dead in the water. It is at this point that Pola's story takes a turn for the hilarious. When the torpedo hit, most of the crew panicked and abandoned ship without waiting for instructions. I should mention at this point that when Italians abandoned ship, they had a policy of getting bug**** drunk in order to keep the cold out. Unfortunately, Pola had NOT been sunk, she was only dead in water so the soggy sailors hauled themselves back up on deck and stripped off all of their soggy clothes in order to not die of hypothermia. 

This is absolutely false.

 

Pola was torpedoed in the last airstrike of the day at 7:58pm. This was Formidable's third strike, the eight strike overall (five had come earlier from land-based bombers).

The only things that went over the side of the ship at this point was ammunition for the 100mm secondary battery, as steam from a broken pipe was mistaken for smoke from a fire, and ammunition stored nearby was ordered disposed of to avoid potentially fatal secondary explosions.

Pola had been standing by for the rest of 1ª Division to arrive and to be towed, in the mean time managing to relight a boiler (was capable of 5 knots, but it was judged to be making too much smoke and shut down a while later). When gunnery flashes were seen (British battleships opening fire and destroyers trading fire as 1ª Division was ambushed before it reached Pola) the ship was ordered cleared for action for the secondary battery, but only once it was determined that there was no longer enough ammunition to fight (much had been thrown overboard, on top of the supply burned though during the eight air attacks endured that day). The decision to open the seacocks and scuttle the ship was not made until 11:15pm, Three hours and Eighteen minutes after she had been torpedoedIt was during this process (about 12:10am) that the destroy Havock stumbled across Pola, and fired on the ship briefly while it was being abandoned, starting a fire and prompting some crew to jump into the sea.

It was when the men in the water came back aboard ship that they began stripping out of their clothes and were being given wine, because of the hypothermia - doing whatever they could to warm up. They had no power, after all.

2 hours ago, Eboreg2 said:

B) The three cruisers in question were in no way ready for combat what with one dead in the water and the other two towing the first and.

This is a half-truism. The rest of 1ª Division had yet to reach Pola, and so she was not under tow yet. Contrary to popular belief, the 203mm mounts were in fact manned, but they were not ready for action - guns of 203mm and greater in the Italian navy up to that point were not considered to be usable in night actions as they lacked flashless ammunition unlike Italian destroyer and light cruiser guns, and it was considered not worthwhile to use because of the negative affects on gunnery for any other ships - not that it would make a difference in these circumstances. The first salvoes at such a close range were so devastating the only return fire from the cruisers was from a 37mm AA gun on Zara.

2 hours ago, Eboreg2 said:

You might think that Pola's crew would have met their impending doom with honor, dignity, and respect as befitting military officers. You'd be wrong about that as Pola's crew instead decided "f*** it!" and threw a drunken college dorm party on deck like there was no tomorrow. To be fair, it would have been a safe assumption to assume that there was but the Brits actually managed to get boarding parties on the Pola's deck to discover literally hundreds of drunk, naked, and thoroughly soggy young adults doing their darnedest to stamp out the myth of "military professionalism". While the crew did live to rot in a military prison camp another day, their reputation had been irreversibly soiled by this episode of frat-house shenanigans.

And again, this is utterly incorrect. The idea of any drunken party was going on on the decks of Pola is based only in the 'facts' of British propaganda of the era, and is contradicted by, if nothing else, the British accounts of the night. Only a minority of those recovered from her decks were even drunk...

 

Look, I can understand the idea of laughing at a funny story. There are plenty of them that took place during the war - for example, a shrapnel hit on an Italian light cruiser at the Battle of Pantellaria took the 'o' out of the ship's motto so that instead of reading 'Centum Oculi' (One Hundred Eyes) it read 'Centum _culi' (One Hundred Asses). And no, not the four-legged kind :Smile_teethhappy:.

 

 

But in this case?

I'm sorry, but I cannot abide by a story being marketed as a factual telling of an events when it's full of falsehoods and embellishments,  which portrays young men acting in desperation because they were dying of hypothermia in context of what had been quite professional conduct otherwise, instead as the drunken antics of frightful cowards.

Not only is it unfaithful to the actual events of the night, but it is an insult to the memory of those who served.

I don't mean for this to be a personal attack - like many things about the war, the memory that has survived is formed primarily by propaganda of the time rather than the actual events that transpired, and I've heard it many times before from people who honestly believed it was how events played out. But, again, it was not. And it is this narrative that I am attacking, and not you, OP.

 

 

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