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MS406france1940

How correct are these assertions from the book 'HMS ULYSSES'

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So I have resently started reading the 1955 novel 'HMS ULYSSES' (Not related to the U class destroyer in the remote case someone somewere actually gets confused between a famous book and a ramdom late war destroyer:Smile-_tongue:) by the author and war veteran Alistair MacLean and while its to soon to fo me say anything to definitive about the book there were two coments about two classes of ships that I would really like to see opinions on. 

The firts one is about my favorite class of destroyer, the four piper!!! Or more precisely the town class that are basically what the british called them. In page 27 the book says refering the fictional member of the class HMS Portpatrick "... She became the focus of all eyes in the fleet and a sourse of of intense interest  whenever the weather broke down. Rumour had it that two of her sister ships had overturned in the Atlantic during a gale..." 

So. Did any ship of the Caldwell, Wickes or Clemsom classes ever rolled over during a storm? Even if was before the war or in any other ocean I am really corious to see if these guys really did so bad during severe weather. I am well awere of the fact they were as stable as a Jenga tower during an aerthquake but I have never hear about one of them actually sinking by the hands of mother nature. 

The_Royal_Navy_during_the_Second_World_War_A1445.jpg

(A photo of HMS Caldwell ex USS Hale dd 133 because I like my post to have some visuals) 

 

And the second claim that the book makes that leaft me cosious is regarthing the Hunt class destroyers. Now I only know 4 things about the little fellas. 

  1. They were small
  2. They were armed whit two pairs of 4 inch guns and some light AA guns were they could put them
  3. Two ended up serving in the Ecuatorian fleet of all places after the war 
  4. And lastly that one served in Egyp and was captured by the Isrealis during operation Musketeer in 1956  

So when the book says that theses ships were"dimminutive and had no buisness in the great waters of the north" I am forced to ask, were they really that bad? I mean sure they were only 278 feet long and the storms in the north sea-artic area are pretty strong but  the frase I just quoted makes it sound like the ships were almost helpless or something along those lines. So any extra refense would be appresiated here. Also if you have any other information regarthing these ships fell free to share it. 

 

 

HMS Croome (L62).jpg

(HMS Croome a type II Hunt class destroyer) 

So that would be all for now. Any comment is appresiated and thanks for reading. 

 

 

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57 minutes ago, MS406france1940 said:

the storms in the north sea-artic area are pretty strong

that is to put things mildly. Add that the dangerous sea states, ice build up which adds top weight to vessels during the winter months, and to that add the power of slamming between hull and sea, ..; Many modern (post 40s) ships have been lost to North Sea weather over the years. Only last year a reefer sank off the coast of Scotland, after capsizing. 

Of course your book is a fictional depiction, but it has stood the test of time and criticism since the 1950s, rather well.

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Only WW2 destroyer storm turnovers I’m aware of were the ones that happened during Halsey’s Typhoon.

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Well, I love the book! Really, a great story told by a great storyteller. But first things first ...

The Hunt class were Destroyer Escorts, not DDs: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hunt-class_destroyer . A DE, by nature being smaller than a DD, would certainly do poorly in the North Atlantic and Artic oceans in weather.

As far as the Four-Pipers go, I could find no record of any being lost during WW2 due to weather. (An interesting side note, 2 Farragut and 1 Somers DD were lost to storms) Try this website: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_Navy_losses_in_World_War_II#Destroyers

I could not find any specific information on any four-piper DDs sunk by storms, including those transferred to the Royal Navy.

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1 hour ago, MS406france1940 said:

So. Did any ship of the Caldwell, Wickes or Clemsom classes ever rolled over during a storm? Even if was before the war or in any other ocean I am really corious to see if these guys really did so bad during severe weather. I am well awere of the fact they were as stable as a Jenga tower during an aerthquake but I have never hear about one of them actually sinking by the hands of mother nature. 

None were lost solely to a storm, though the USS Truxtun was run aground in a heavy gale with a significant loss of life.

1 hour ago, MS406france1940 said:

So when the book says that theses ships were"dimminutive and had no buisness in the great waters of the north" I am forced to ask, were they really that bad? I mean sure they were only 278 feet long and the storms in the north sea-artic area are pretty strong but  the frase I just quoted makes it sound like the ships were almost helpless or something along those lines.

There are two factors to consider on ship survivability in heavy weather:

1) Size
2) Design

Size is generally a plus point, though some designs are better than larger designs, long, slender designs may suffer. The small Flower Class corvettes were tiny, but surprisingly survivable.

The Hunt Type III at about 1,050t standard load are not particularly small compared to some similar escorts. For instance a Flower class was about 950t, an interwar standard RN Destroyer was a bit bigger at 1,400t, and a more modern 'Fleet' destroyer 1,550t or so, a Clemson was only a bit bigger at 1,200t.

The Hunt's probably suffered quite a lot in northern waters. They were barely bigger than the Flowers but significantly faster and they're relatively narrower - 80m x 10m vs. 58m x 10m for a Corvette. Longer, thinner, more vulnerable. They were fast for escorts at 27kt, very useful around the UK and Mediterranean where the risk of air attack was pretty high, and their fairly decent AA outfit was useful.

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3 hours ago, Estimated_Prophet said:

Only WW2 destroyer storm turnovers I’m aware of were the ones that happened during Halsey’s Typhoon.

I know the Italians lost a couple ... how much battle damage contributed to that, though, I do not know.

Reading Alistair MacLean's HMS Ulysses as a kid also started me down the path of interest in all things naval. 

He based his description of HMS Ulysses upon the modified Dido-class cruiser HMS Black Prince, upon which he served for a time if I recall correctly.

While he changed names for ships and people ... he based many novelised incidents (especially in his earlier books) upon his real-life experience.

The Hunts were an emergency war program. At that stage of the war, the RN desperately needed convoy AA escorts and long-range escorts. Speed and anti-ship capability were very much secondary. They wanted something that could be built faster than the excellent 'sloops' built just before the war. But they built improved sloops as well (we see them in-game through HMS Black Swan, but we'll probably never see this optimised ASW/AAW type again as their roles are largely ignored by the Wargaming game mechanic).

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But, you have to admit when the elusive DD 214 came alongside, every sailor was filled with hope...

022_tracy_dd214.jpg

:Smile_great:

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6 hours ago, HMS_Formidable said:

I know the Italians lost a couple ... how much battle damage contributed to that, though, I do not know.

None - that was at 2nd Sirte. The British landed only one hit during the course of the battle, a 120mm shell on the battleship Littorio. The Destroyer losses were purely storm damage.

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9 hours ago, Murotsu said:

But, you have to admit when the elusive DD 214 came alongside, every sailor was filled with hope...

022_tracy_dd214.jpg

:Smile_great:

Man I was looking for that thing my entire time in the 4ID at Ft. Carson in the 80s....

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16 hours ago, Murotsu said:

But, you have to admit when the elusive DD 214 came alongside, every sailor was filled with hope...

022_tracy_dd214.jpg

:Smile_great:

Forgive my ignorance but what is the particular story of this ship? 

It took no time to discover it was the USS Tracy and that she did everything a destroyer of theinter war periot could do (Service in the black sea during the Russian civil war, Asiatic fleet, and main battle fleet) and she also saw service during the war but by the way you describe her I am really sure this lady has something unique about her.

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19 hours ago, mofton said:

None were lost solely to a storm, though the USS Truxtun was run aground in a heavy gale with a significant loss of life.

There are two factors to consider on ship survivability in heavy weather:

1) Size
2) Design

Size is generally a plus point, though some designs are better than larger designs, long, slender designs may suffer. The small Flower Class corvettes were tiny, but surprisingly survivable.

The Hunt Type III at about 1,050t standard load are not particularly small compared to some similar escorts. For instance a Flower class was about 950t, an interwar standard RN Destroyer was a bit bigger at 1,400t, and a more modern 'Fleet' destroyer 1,550t or so, a Clemson was only a bit bigger at 1,200t.

The Hunt's probably suffered quite a lot in northern waters. They were barely bigger than the Flowers but significantly faster and they're relatively narrower - 80m x 10m vs. 58m x 10m for a Corvette. Longer, thinner, more vulnerable. They were fast for escorts at 27kt, very useful around the UK and Mediterranean where the risk of air attack was pretty high, and their fairly decent AA outfit was useful.

Thanks you :Smile_honoring: 

Glad to have an expert on the case. ;)

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Here they are ...

Possible inspiration for Portpatrick: HMS Leamington

leamington5.jpg

 

And the plan drawing for Ulysses out of the original hardback books ... a hybrid of the Dido and Improved Didos by the look of it

ULYSSES.7L.jpg?format=1000w

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3 hours ago, MS406france1940 said:

Forgive my ignorance but what is the particular story of this ship? 

It took no time to discover it was the USS Tracy and that she did everything a destroyer of theinter war periot could do (Service in the black sea during the Russian civil war, Asiatic fleet, and main battle fleet) and she also saw service during the war but by the way you describe her I am really sure this lady has something unique about her.

It's a joke, that mostly veterans would get...

DD214Blank.jpg

It's the number of the form you get when discharged from US military service.

 

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I severely doubt that any Clemson class DD capsized simply due to ocean conditions.  The ships were bad rollers and tended to be very wet boats at sea.

In RN use, the British tended to do a number of modifications to theirs to make them more suitable to their style of use.

The enclosed bridge was particularly not well liked.  The RN added an open bridge above it.  This is something RN officers and ship's Captain's were used to.

They removed half the torpedo tubes to increase stability, along with adding some ballast to help dampen the tendency to roll.  Later some had the torpedo armament reduced to a single 3 tube set re-sited amidships just ahead of the aft deckhouse. 

Ships used primarily for ASW escort work had all but one 4" gun removed (the forward one was retained).  The aft deckhouse got a 3"/40 Mk V AA gun was installed, along with 2 to 4 20mm AA guns.  These ships also got 4 RN hydraulic-type K guns installed along with RN pattern depth charge racks aft.

The aft three funnels were cut down in height.

A Type 123 or 124 ASDIC (sonar) set would be installed, although it is possible some had a US SC sonar set and that was retained.

On some, one boiler was removed to provide space for additional fuel as these ships couldn't make an Atlantic crossing without refueling.

Some ASW ships received a hedgehog launcher forward of the bridge.

Some ships received a surface search radar set usually, a Type 272 in the distinct "lighthouse" covering.

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The open bridge is an interesting concept.

Some accounts emphasise that it was mostly a morale thing - showing those 'belowdecks' that the privileged officers earnt their wardroom and stewards through having to be exposed to the elements. Others are more 'old mariner' romanticism, insisting it made the captain and helm more 'in tune' with the environment to respond to conditions better. Finally, there was the RN practice - developed in the late 30s I think - where captains would lay on the deck during dive-bomber attacks, and shout a helm-change order once the aircraft had committed to its dive.

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On 4/28/2018 at 2:13 AM, HMS_Formidable said:

The open bridge is an interesting concept.

Some accounts emphasise that it was mostly a morale thing - showing those 'belowdecks' that the privileged officers earnt their wardroom and stewards through having to be exposed to the elements. Others are more 'old mariner' romanticism, insisting it made the captain and helm more 'in tune' with the environment to respond to conditions better. Finally, there was the RN practice - developed in the late 30s I think - where captains would lay on the deck during dive-bomber attacks, and shout a helm-change order once the aircraft had committed to its dive.

Open bridgedecks saved on topweight, very important for seaworthiness, weight that could be used for "more important" stuff elsewhere on board. Open bridge decks were cheaper too.

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11 hours ago, DarthZeppelin said:

Open bridgedecks saved on topweight, very important for seaworthiness, weight that could be used for "more important" stuff elsewhere on board. Open bridge decks were cheaper too.

The British preferred open bridges due to the increased visibility from them, among other reasons.  This actually proved useful in WW 2 in areas where lots of air action was occurring as it gave a nearly unobstructed view of the sky.

On the flip side, the open bridge was drafty, windy, often hot or cold, and could lower the bridge watch's efficiency.  This also separated the chart house from the bridge proper, as the navigator couldn't be plotting courses on a paper chart out in the wind and rain...  This is why the USN, for example, preferred enclosed bridges.  The Japanese compromised and usually put an overhead and windscreen / windshields on their bridges leaving the wings and rear open.

British officers complained about the Clemson's enclosed bridge saying the glass windows reflected light and glare at night, limited their view of sky arcs for aircraft detection, and in general were negative about using it.  So, the RN simply built an open bridge above it.

On an unrelated oddity, only the British separated their rangefinder and fire control on destroyers.  Their DD, at least in the first half of the war, usually had a six foot three-man rangefinder on the bridge relaying range data to both the captain and fire control system.  There was a separate DCT (Destroyer Control Tower) that relayed bearing data and was also for AA fire control.

So, every navy did things a bit different.  Every navy thought their stuff was "the best" usually too.

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On 29/4/2018 at 1:39 PM, Murotsu said:

The British preferred open bridges due to the increased visibility from them, among other reasons.  This actually proved useful in WW 2 in areas where lots of air action was occurring as it gave a nearly unobstructed view of the sky.

On the flip side, the open bridge was drafty, windy, often hot or cold, and could lower the bridge watch's efficiency.  This also separated the chart house from the bridge proper, as the navigator couldn't be plotting courses on a paper chart out in the wind and rain...  This is why the USN, for example, preferred enclosed bridges.  The Japanese compromised and usually put an overhead and windscreen / windshields on their bridges leaving the wings and rear open.

British officers complained about the Clemson's enclosed bridge saying the glass windows reflected light and glare at night, limited their view of sky arcs for aircraft detection, and in general were negative about using it.  So, the RN simply built an open bridge above it.

On an unrelated oddity, only the British separated their rangefinder and fire control on destroyers.  Their DD, at least in the first half of the war, usually had a six foot three-man rangefinder on the bridge relaying range data to both the captain and fire control system.  There was a separate DCT (Destroyer Control Tower) that relayed bearing data and was also for AA fire control.

So, every navy did things a bit different.  Every navy thought their stuff was "the best" usually too.

But taking into consideration all the pross and cons. The open bridges were better or worst than the closed ones?

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Also I just found this other thing in the book that I think is kind of hilarious. 

MacLean describes that at the beggining of the war a "Charle" (A FW 200 Condor) would shadow the convoy for long periots of time. Because of this either the Condors would start to talk whit the British and vice versa. My two favorites examples of this communications are: 

The Condor asking for its position and the British giving him very detailed data of some random position in the pacific. 

And one occasion were the commander of a convoy told  the Condor "Please fly the other way a round. You are making us dizzy" and the Condor just acknowledged and turned around. :Smile_teethhappy:

I know these examples are probably made up but were there any incidents of communications between German aircrafts and British convoys. 

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10 hours ago, MS406france1940 said:

Also I just found this other thing in the book that I think is kind of hilarious. 

MacLean describes that at the beggining of the war a "Charle" (A FW 200 Condor) would shadow the convoy for long periots of time. Because of this either the Condors would start to talk whit the British and vice versa. My two favorites examples of this communications are: 

The Condor asking for its position and the British giving him very detailed data of some random position in the pacific. 

And one occasion were the commander of a convoy told  the Condor "Please fly the other way a round. You are making us dizzy" and the Condor just acknowledged and turned around. :Smile_teethhappy:

I know these examples are probably made up but were there any incidents of communications between German aircrafts and British convoys. 

That is actually quite a common tale in post war memoirs ... whether it is truth or not I guess we'll never know. But I don't doubt the men - on both sides - would probably pull such stunts amid the long periods of incredibly tense boredom...

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18 hours ago, MS406france1940 said:

But taking into consideration all the pross and cons. The open bridges were better or worst than the closed ones?

The US copied the open bridge in the Pacific due to the propensity to face Japanese air attacks, but on the whole, the enclosed bridge won out.  It was simply more efficient for the bridge crew to be out of the elements, and lookouts could be posted to take care of scanning the skies, and even sea.  Enclosed bridges offered at least some degree of protection from blast and fragments over an open bridge as well.  When you add modern technology like radar displays, radio, and other such equipment, it's much harder to use and maintain when this stuff is out in the weather than in a protected environment.

Thus, there was every reason to abandon the open bridge in favor of the enclosed one, but Royal Navy traditions die hard and it took awhile for this one to.

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Maclean wrote many spectacularly good books, both his naval stories (HMS Ulysses, South By Java Head, Golden Rendezvous, Ice Station Zebra, etc) and his spy-thrillers.  It's a shame it's so hard to find his novels today.  I'm fortunate enough to own a copy of every one of his novels, though some are getting very badly worn as they're 40+ year old paperbacks.

I actually included the opening to When Eight Bells Toll in a paper I wrote for a college Lit class.  One of the best "hook" openings for a novel ever IMHO.

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On 4/26/2018 at 4:50 PM, MS406france1940 said:

Forgive my ignorance but what is the particular story of this ship? 

It took no time to discover it was the USS Tracy and that she did everything a destroyer of theinter war periot could do (Service in the black sea during the Russian civil war, Asiatic fleet, and main battle fleet) and she also saw service during the war but by the way you describe her I am really sure this lady has something unique about her.

I know this is a necro (sorry about that), but I am searching for images related to the USS Tracy as it bears my families namesake (no joke) and was named after the 32nd Secretary of the Navy, Benjamin Franklin Tracy.

While Murotsu is correct about the ships designation "DD 214" in that it is now the discharge paperwork for service personnel, though obviously this was after the USS Tracy was re-designated as DM-19 in June of 1937. With that said though, you are correct, the USS Tracy did have a unique service period. 

Commissioned in March of 1920, the USS Tracy helped with evacuating refugees in the Russian Civil War. She also aided Japan when the Great Kanto earthquake of Spet., 1923. The Tracy was already assigned to the South China Sea's and in turn, was ordered to aid and assist Japan with initial relief efforts, transporting evacuee's and even laying fresh water lines. That is, until it received orders to go ashore and guard the American owned Shanghai Power and Light Company until October of that year. 

**Some notes here about this Kanto earthquake. **

1) This is the same earthquake that fractured the IJN Battle-cruiser Amagi's Hull beyond repair as it was being converted into a Carrier when the quake struck.

2) The Kaga, which was supposed to be a Battleship, was converted to a Carrier due to this earthquake and the damage it caused to the Amagi.

 

With regards to World War 2, she had a great service record there as well. Considering the Clemson Class Destroyer wasn't considered a true success, after all they were considered "wet ships" and even called Flush Deckers, the USS Tracy remained one of the few originals to remain active. However, when Pearl Harbor was attacked, the USS Tracy was undergoing a full overhaul and was virtually stripped of all main weapons as well as running nothing more than a skeleton crew. The ship was down to three .30 caliber Lewis Guns and two .50 caliber Browning's. When the crew armed those, the remaining crew sought out other ships to either aid in anti-aircraft support or fire suppression on the USS Pennsylvania. Unfortunately though, this is where their casualties came in, their fire fighting efforts on the Pennsylvania. Three total crew members, ZACEK, Laddie John368 50 90, F 2c., USN– Killed (positively identified) and two others, PENCE, John Wallace321 30 25, RM3c, USN– Missing and BIRD, John Arthur376 19 51, Sea1c, USN– Missing were all in the same compartment when a bomb struck another compartment above their heads.

The USS Tracy was not done after Pearl Harbor though, after the overhaul was complete, she under went mine laying operations and helped take down a U-boat.

At the moment, my wife is yelling at me that my dinner is ready, so I will stop here and link a great video made by a former World of Warships player that dug up a bunch of history on this and other ships. But before I go, the USS Tracy ended up receiving 7 battle stars for her service in World War 2.

 

And for grins and giggles, here is the Pearl Harbor Action Report from the Commanding Officer to the Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Action Report

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