French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge - We Are The Mighty
MIGHTY HISTORY

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

French Marines were manning observation posts on either side of the Vrbanja Bridge. They were UN peacekeepers, the first to arrive in the decimated city of Sarajevo during the Bosnian War in May 1995. But their day was to begin in humiliation and end in bloodshed as their mission to hold the observation posts quickly escalated into the first UN combat mission of the war.


When they first began their occupation of the bridge, one side was overtaken by Bosnian Serb commandos. Dressed in French uniforms and donning French weapons, the commandos took one side of the bridge without firing a shot. They even pulled up to the post in a stolen French armored personnel carrier. For many of the Serbs, it was the last thing they would ever do.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

A lot of them, like Serbian commander Ratko Mladic, were busy committing war crimes.

At gunpoint, the 10 French marines were disarmed and taken captive, and driven to another location. The other two were to be used on the bridge as human shields. The other side of the bridge didn’t even know their comrades had been overrun and captured. When the other unit didn’t check in with headquarters, their platoon commander came to check in on the Marines – he then sounded the alarm. When their fellow marines discovered their friends had been taken captive, they decided to move quickly on the Serb commandos.

“When the Serbs took our soldiers under their control by threat, by dirty tricks, they began to act as terrorists, you cannot support this,” Said Col. Erik Sandahl, commander of the 4th French Battalion. “You must react. The moment comes when you have to stop it. Full stop. And we did.”

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

French APCs on the ground in Bosnia, 1995.

When French President Jacques Chirac found out about the captured French marines, he went around the UN and ordered his troops to retake the bridge and find the missing men. The French sent 30 more Marines, 13 APCs, and 70 French Army soldiers to the bridge. But they couldn’t just blow up the observation post or do a regular infantry assault on the position. There were still hostages inside. They were going to have to do it the old fashioned way.

The French marines mounted their first bayonet charge since the Korean War.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

François Lecointre, now a general and France’s Chief of the Defence Staff, led the bayonet charge.

After the bayonet charge, a 32-minute firefight ensued that saw one of the French hostages shot by a Bosnian sniper, the other hostage escaped, three Frenchmen killed in action and another ten wounded, along with four Serbs killed, three wounded and another four taken prisoner. The 10 French hostages were later released. The Serbs soldiers captured were treated as prisoners of war and held by the UN peacekeeping force.

It was the last time the French Army ever launched a bayonet charge, but for the rest of the time the French were participating as UN Peacekeepers in Bosnia, the Serbian forces kept a clear, noticeable distance from them.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Upgraded naval warfare plan allows Marines to take South China Sea Islands

The US Marine Corps is developing a new concept of naval warfare to allow Marines to take South China Sea islands from Beijing in the context of a massive missile fight in the Pacific.

Marine Corps leaders at the Surface Navy Association’s annual national symposium told USNI News that today’s naval protocol wasn’t what the force was looking for to take on China’s Pacific fortress.


China has spent years dredging up the sea floor to build artificial islands in the South China Sea, an international waterway.

Despite promising never to militarize the islands and losing an international arbitration case concluding they did not own the islands, China has enforced de facto control over the vital shipping lane that sees trillions in annual trade.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

U.S. Marines assigned to 3rd Assault Amphibian Battalion observe the approach of amphibious assault vehicles (AAV) during well deck operations aboard amphibious transport dock ship USS Somerset (LPD 25). Somerset is participating in Exercise Dawn Blitz 2015 (DB-15).

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Vladimir Ramos)

The US regularly contests China’s claims to these waters by sailing US Navy destroyers through the area, but China has increasingly responded with militaristic rhetoric and one Chinese admiral even calling for the sinking of US aircraft carriers.

But the US remains committed to checking China’s land grab in the Pacific, and accordingly, it’s crafting war plans to stand up to Beijing’s growing military and rocket forces.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

(CSIS/Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative)

Taking Beijing’s islands is central to those plans, US Marine Corps Maj. Gen. David Coffman said, according to USNI News.

Coffman said “integrated naval operations could be needed to take an island somewhere — natural or manmade,” in a likely reference to Beijing’s man-made South China Sea outposts.

“It certainly will be required when a great power competition pits a whale against an elephant, or maybe two elephants — a global maritime power, that’s us, against a regional land power hegemon with home-field advantage,” he continued, again referencing China as an “elephant,” or a land power that the US, a “whale” or maritime power would have to overcome.

“In that long war, maritime superiority is necessary but not sufficient for the whale to beat the elephant,” he said.

In other words, the US Navy and Marines can’t just win the fight with better sea power, they will also need to make landings.

But those landings will have to be made under a massive missile attack.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

The amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) conducts flight operations near the island of Hawaii, July 30, 2016.

(U.S. Navy photo)

Can the carriers survive?

China recently deployed DF-26 “carrier killer” missiles to its northwest where they could sink US ships from outside the range of the longest-legged Navy platform.

The South China Sea now hosts a vast network of radars that experts say could be used to track and kill US naval aviation, even the stealth kind.

Additionally, a recent study that looked at carrier survivability at the Heritage Foundation revealed that China could likely muster up 600 anti-ship missiles and that a carrier strike group could likely only down 450 of those fires.

As a result, Coffman said the normal three-ship Amphibious Ready Group and the accompanying a Marine Expeditionary Unit on small deck carriers would no longer cut it.

Up gunning the fleet

The solution? Up-gunning the small carriers and including destroyers and cruisers in the battle formation.

“Every ship has to be a warship that can defend itself, have an offensive striking capability and be able to deal with the threats that are coming in, be it a cyber threat – so it needs a good network – or whether it’s a kinetic threat in the form of a missile that’s coming at it,” Lt. Gen. Brian Beaudreault said, according to USNI.

Beaudreault suggested putting vertical lauch cells on new US Marine Corps helicopter and F-35B carriers to handle incoming threats, essentially turning these amphibious flattops into aircraft-carrying destroyers in their own right.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia partially releases stranglehold on Ukraine’s ports

Kyiv says Russia has “partially” unblocked Ukrainian ports on the Sea of Azov, allowing Ukrainian ships to pass through the Kerch Strait for the first time since Nov. 25, 2018, when Russian forces seized three Ukrainian Navy vessels and detained 24 crewmen.

“Berdyansk and Mariupol are partially unlocked,” Infrastructure Minister Volodymyr Omelyan said on Dec. 4, 2018, as NATO reiterated its call on Russia to allow “unhindered access” to Ukrainian ports in the Sea of Azov.

“Vessels make their way to the entrance and exit through the Kerch Strait toward Ukrainian ports,” Omelyan said.


The minister said that ships navigating through the Kerch Strait to and from Ukrainian ports “are stopped and inspected by Russia as before, but the traffic has been partially restored.”

Ukraine’s Agriculture Ministry later said that the country had resumed grain shipments from the Sea of Azov.

“Passage of vessels with agricultural products through ports in the Sea of Azov has been unlocked,” the ministry said in a statement.

“The loading of grain to vessels through the ports of Mariupol and Berdyansk is restored and carried out in regular mode,” it added.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Captured BK-02 Berdyansk with a hole in the pilothouse.

The naval confrontation between Russia and Ukraine topped the agenda of a NATO foreign ministers’ meeting with their Ukrainian counterpart, Pavlo Klimkin, in Brussels.

After the talks, NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the 29 members of the alliance called on Russia to “immediately release the Ukrainian sailors and ships it seized.”

“Russia must allow freedom of navigation and allow unhindered access to Ukrainian ports,” he added.

“In response to Russia’s aggressive actions, NATO has substantially increased its presence in the Black Sea region over the past few years — at sea, in the air, and on the ground,” Stoltenberg also noted.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg.

Russia continues to hold 24 Ukrainian sailors detained in the Nov. 25, 2018 incident, despite demands from NATO for their release from detention centers in Moscow.

Moscow Human Rights Commissioner Tatyana Potyayeva was scheduled on Dec. 4, 2018, to visit three Ukrainian sailors who were injured in the Nov. 25, 2018 incident, when Russian forces rammed a Ukrainian Navy tugboat and fired on two other ships before seizing the vessels.

The clash has added to tension over Crimea, which Russia occupied and illegally annexed from Ukraine in March 2014.

It also has raised concerns of a possible flare-up in a simmering war between Kyiv and Russia-backed separatists that has killed more than 10,300 people in eastern Ukraine since April 2014.

The Russia-backed separatists hold parts of the Luhansk and Donetsk regions, including a piece of shoreline that lies between the Russian border and the Ukrainian Sea of Azov port city of Mariupol.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, on Dec. 3, 2018, said concerns that Moscow could seek to create a “land corridor” linking Russia to Crimea were “absurd.”

At their Brussels meeting, the foreign ministers “restated NATO’s solidarity with Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said.

“We recognize Ukraine’s aspirations to join the alliance, and progress has already been made on reforms. But challenges remain, so we encourage Ukraine to continue on this path of reform. This is crucial for prosperity and peace in Ukraine,” the NATO chief said.

This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. Follow @RFERL on Twitter.

MIGHTY TACTICAL

How US ships can stop devastating ‘carrier killer’ missiles

The US Navy’s new USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier cost $13 billion dollars and will set to sea at a time of great power competition when Russia and China have both perfected missiles designed to sink the massive ships.

“Critics of the aircraft carrier believe that because there are so many weapons systems that are being optimized to go after them, that the aircraft carrier is obsolete,” retired Navy officer Bryan McGrath said on the Smithsonian Channel’s new “Carriers at War” series.

With the ship costing billions itself, holding billions in aircraft, and as many as 7,000 US Navy sailors and marines, the sinking of a modern US aircraft carrier would be one of the most severe losses of American life and the biggest blows to the US military in history.


But in an episode set to premier on June 10, 2018, on the Ford, US Navy Capt. James C. Rentfrow said the US has taken steps to even the odds.

As Russia and China “continue to develop better offensive capabilities against us, we continue to develop better defensive capabilities against them,” Rentfrow said.

Future weapons

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge
The Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce (ASB(I) 15) conducts an operational demonstration of the Office of Naval Research (ONR)-sponsored Laser Weapon System (LaWS) while deployed to the Arabian Gulf.
(U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams)

Every US aircraft carrier has two sets of onboard missile defenses as well as a close-in weapons system that uses a gun to knock out approaching missiles and aircraft with 4,500 rounds per minute. They all sail in a carrier strike group as well, but aboard the Ford, room for new systems is being made.

Among these are a laser system designed to take out small boats or drones that may be laden with explosives. Six concentrated beams of light combine to put incredible heat on a target at the literal speed of light.

Next is the railgun. This electronic gun fires metal projectiles with no explosive charge. But a railgun shot still creates a fireball because the projectile rips through the air so quickly that the air and metal itself combust.

“Putting one on an aircraft carrier or putting several on an aircraft carrier, to me is a no-brainer,” McGrath said of the rail gun.

But lasers and railguns, both electronic-only weapons, require a massive amount of electricity to run. For that reason the Ford’s two nuclear reactors have been designed to provide three times the power of the old carriers.

Also, with new catapults and landing gear to launch and land heavier jets, the Ford can get its jets to fly further, thereby keeping them out of harm’s way.

Whole new air wing

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge
USS George Washington transits the Atlantic Ocean conducting carrier qualifications with F-35C Lighting II carrier variants, assigned to both the Salty Dogs of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 23 and the Grim Reapers of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 101, Aug.u00a016, 2016.
(U.S. Navy photo)

Finally, the Ford makes way for a whole new air wing.

“The beauty of the aircraft carrier is that you can radically and dramatically change the weapons systems by never entering the shipping yard,” McGrath told Business Insider. Instead of installing new missiles or guns, you simply fly old aircraft off, and fly on new jets.

So whatever new jets the US Navy can come up with, perhaps some with missile-intercepting capabilities, the Ford can handle them.

According to McGrath, it’s the flexibility of the carrier that keeps it relevant and worth risking nearly $20 billion in every outing.

“If you believe you have a need for two classic Navy missions, power projection and sea control, and if you believe you’re going to continue to have a requirement for those missions, then an aircraft carrier remains a very valuable part of the mission,” said McGrath.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The Navy is ready for possible conflicts with China and Russia

In early 2018, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis outlined a change to the Navy’s approach to aircraft carrier deployments, mixing up when carriers leave and return to port, shortening their time at sea, and adding flexibility to where they go and what they do.

The change is meant to lessen the strain on the fleet and its personnel while keeping potential rivals in the dark about carrier movements.

This ” dynamic force employment ” was underscored by the USS Harry S. Truman’s return to Norfolk, Virginia, after a 90-day stint at sea that did not include the traditional trip to the Middle East to support US Central Command operations.


Amid that ongoing shift, the Navy is shuffling the homeport assignments for some of its carriers, as it works to keep the fleet’s centerpieces fit for a potential great-power fight.

Carrier refuelings are scheduled long in advance to ensure they’re able to remain in service for a half-century, despite heavy operational demands. The carrier fleet is a crucial piece of US strategy, which in 2018 assessed strategic rivalry from China and Russia as the country’s foremost threat.

Three of the Navy’s 11 active carriers — Nimitz-class carriers USS Carl Vinson, USS Abraham Lincoln, and USS John C. Stennis — will get new homes.

The Navy declined to say when they’ll make the move, but here’s where they’re headed:

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln transits the Indian Ocean in this U.S. Navy handout photo dated January 18, 2012.

(U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Eric S. Powell)

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Sailors prepare to moor USS Abraham Lincoln in Norfolk, Virginia, Sept. 7, 2017.

The Lincoln joined the fleet in 1989 and was part of the Pacific fleet from 1990 to 2011. It moved to Norfolk from Everett, Washington, in 2011 for midlife refueling, known as reactor complex overhaul, which wrapped up in mid-2017.

Source: USNI News

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Guests watch as an F/A-18E Super Hornet performs a touch-and-go-landing aboard the Lincoln during an air-power demonstration, June 30, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 2nd Class Jacques-Laurent Jean-Gilles)

With the Lincoln back on the West Coast and the Stennis and Vinson heading east, the Navy will still have five of its 10 Nimitz-class nuclear-powered carriers assigned to the Pacific Fleet.

Source: USNI News

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

An F/A-18E Super Hornet prepares to take off from the Stennis on May 10, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec 2nd Class David A. Brandenburg)

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

An F/A-18E Super Hornet takes off from the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, May 5, 2018.

(US Navy photo by Mass Comm Spec Seaman Angelina Grimsley)

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

An F/A-18F fighter jet launches from the Stennis in the Persian Gulf, Nov. 23, 2011.

(U.S. Navy photo by Benjamin Crossley)

The Stennis has been stationed at Kitsap since 2005, when it relocated from San Diego. The carrier left port without notice at the end of July 2018 and will conduct training exercises while underway. It’s expected to deploy late 2018, though the Navy has not said when it will leave or how long it will be gone.

Source: USNI News , Kitsap Sun

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

The Vinson transits the Strait of Hormuz.

(US Navy photo Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class John Grandin)

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

The Vinson transits the Sunda Strait, April 15, 2017.

(US Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano)

The Vinson, which was commissioned in 1982, will move north ahead of its planned incremental maintenance at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY SPORTS

This is why cadets have shouted “Go Army! Beat Navy!” for over a century

The annual Army-Navy football game is intense. And though the players will be doing their best to out-maneuver and out-muscle the opposition, the competition extends well beyond the field. The fanbase of each service academy, which includes the troops and veterans of their respective branches, rally loudly behind their team with a single, unifying phrase: “Go Army! Beat Navy!” Or, for the sailors and Marines, “Go Navy! Beat Army!

As creative and ambitious as the smacktalk has become in recent years, the phrase never changes. And that’s because these rallying cries are nearly as old as the Army-Navy game itself.


French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Which I can only assume would cause confusion (and maybe a bit of jealousy) from the players of Notre Dame.

(Photo by Mike Strasser, West Point Public Affairs)

The tradition of military academy fans shouting out, “Go [us]! Beat [them]!” can be traced back to some of the earliest Army-Navy Games. It’s unclear which side started the tradition, but both teams were shouting their own versions of the simple phrase as early as second game, long before the sport of football became the mainstream cultural staple it is today.

Over the years, the phrase remained unchanged. The only variations come when a West Point or Naval Academy team faces off against the Air Force Academy or the Royal Military College of Canada. It doesn’t even matter if the team is facing off against a university unaffiliated with the Armed Forces — they’ll still add the “Beat Navy!” or “Beat Army!” to the end of their fight song.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Plebes who don’t follow this would presumably do push-ups and add “Beat Navy!” after each one.

(Photo by Mike Strasser, West Point Public Affairs)

The plebes (or freshmen) of each academy are also expected to be fiercely loyal to their football team at every possible occasion. At the drop of a hat, a plebe is expected to know how many days are left until the next Army-Navy Game. They’re also only allowed to say a handful of accepted phrases: “Yes, sir/ma’am,” “No, sir/ma’am,” and, of course, “Beat Navy/Army.”

Plebes are also expected to finish every sentence or greeting with a “Beat Navy” in the same way that an Army private adds “Hooah” to pretty much everything. It doesn’t matter if it’s an in-person meeting, e-mail, phone call, or text message. They better add “Beat Navy” to the end of whatever point they’re trying to make.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Go team! Beat the other team!

(West Point)

In the end, it’s still a friendly game between the two academies. They’re only truly rivals for the 60 minutes of game time. The phrase is all about mutual respect and should never get twisted. Years down the line, when the cadets become full-fledged officers, they’ll meet shoulder-to-shoulder on the battlefield and joke about the games later.

The rivalry is tough — but isn’t it always that way between two siblings?

MIGHTY TACTICAL

A top test pilot landed backwards on Britain’s largest warship

A British F-35 pilot has pulled off what the Royal Navy called a “milestone” maneuver, executing a backward landing on the deck of Britain’s largest warship, the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

The Royal Air Force test pilot Squadron Leader Andy Edgell flew his American-made F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter across the bow of the large British aircraft carrier.

The pilot then brought the short-takeoff-and-vertical-landing aircraft to a hover over the deck before gently setting it down, the Royal Navy said in a statement Nov. 19, 2018. He said the F-35 jump jet “handled beautifully.”


The aviation achievement is intended to give the carrier crew additional options in the event of an emergency. Given the nature of the aircraft, the landing was not radically different from more conventional alternatives.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

An F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter landing on the HMS Queen Elizabeth.

(Royal Navy photo)

The British Royal Navy said this atypical landing was like “driving the wrong way down a one-way street.” Reflecting on the maneuver, Edgell said, “It was briefly bizarre to bear down on the ship and see the waves parting on the bow as you fly an approach aft facing.”

“It was also a unique opportunity fly towards the ship, stare at the bridge, and wonder what the captain is thinking,” he added.

This maneuver, like the previously executed conventional landings and rolling landings, was part of a nine-week intensive training program that began off the US east coast.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

An F-35B Lightning II above the aircraft carrier Queen Elizabeth on Sept. 25, 2018.

(UK Ministry of Defense)

The first landing was carried out Sept. 25, 2018, when Royal Navy Cmdr. Nathan Gray landed an F-35B on the deck of the carrier. It marked the first time in eight years that an aircraft had landed on a British carrier. The UK had previously acquired the F-35, and its new carrier set sail in 2017. The combination of the two was championed as the dawn of a new era for British sea power.

Commodore Andrew Betton, the commander of the UK carrier strike group, called it “a tremendous step forward in reestablishing the UK’s carrier strike capability.”

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY TRENDING

Russia’s military has been rocked by a string of explosions and fires

The past few weeks have been rough for the Russian military, as a string of serious accidents have led to dozens of deaths and injuries.

Accidents are certainly not uncommon for the Russian military, which lost its only aircraft carrier last fall when a heavy crane punched a hole in it as the only dry dock suitable for carrying out repairs and maintenance on a ship that size sank due to a power failure, but the last few weeks have certainly been a challenge.

Over the past month and a half, the Russian military has seen a fire claim the lives of sailors aboard a secret nuclear submarine, an explosion at a ammunition depot, and, as of Aug. 8, 2019, an explosion during the testing of a rocket engine at a military test facility.


A deadly fire aboard a top-secret submarine in early July 2019.

Russia’s latest string of bad luck began with a fire aboard a secret deep-diving nuclear-powered submarine and resulted in 14 deaths.

Russian media reports that the submarine was the Losharik, a vessel designed for “intelligence gathering and, probably, the destruction of or tapping into of undersea communications cables,” A.D. Baker, a former naval intelligence officer, previously told INSIDER.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

(Russian Ministry of Defence)

A suspected fire that ultimately triggered an explosion in the battery compartment killed 14 Russian sailors, a number of which were higher-ranking and distinguished officers. While the incident remains classified at the highest levels, a Russian Navy official said the crew’s actions had stopped a “planetary catastrophe,” a possible reference to an accident with the sub’s nuclear reactor.

A huge explosion at an ammo depot at a military base on Aug. 5, 2019.

On Aug. 5, 2019, an ammo depot at a Russian military base in Siberia said to house around 40,000 artillery shells and other weapons suddenly exploded, igniting fires that killed one and injured over a dozen other people.

The explosion created a massive fireball, and led local authorities to evacuate thousands of people from surrounding communities within 20 kilometers of the blast.

Russia has experienced ammunition depot explosions before. For example, an ammunition storage site in Chapaevsk that housed around 13 million shells exploded in 2013, injuring around 30 people.

A deadly explosion of a missile engine at a military test site on Aug. 8, 2019.

On Aug. 8, 2019, a missile engine exploded at a Russian naval base, leaving two dead and eight others injured. Among the dead and wounded were military and civilian personnel.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

(Russian Ministry of Defence)

The engine, according to Russian state media, exploded while specialists at the base in the rural village of Nyonoksa, a town in northern Russia, were testing the rocket engine’s “liquid propulsion system.”

The Nyonoksa range is a critical test site for Russian missile systems, everything from intercontinental ballistic missiles to cruise missiles. Thursday’s explosion, the state-run TASS News Agency reported, triggered a spike in radiation in a nearby city.

Authorities insist everything is under control.

This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.

MIGHTY HISTORY

The ships with guns that weighed more than entire battleships

Prior to WW2, knowing that they couldn’t compete with the numbers of the US navy, the Imperial Japanese Navy quietly authorized the construction of the two largest battleships by weight ever seen in warfare — the Musashi and her sister ship, the Yamato.

The origins of these two behemoths can be traced back to Japan’s 1934 withdrawal from the League of Nations. Amongst other things, doing this allowed Japan to ignore rules set by the Washington Naval Treaty of 1922 and the London Naval Treaty of 1930, both of which aimed to limit the size of battleships as well as the right of participating nations to construct them.


Almost immediately following Japan’s withdrawal, a team working for the Japanese Navy Technical Department helmed by an engineer called Keiji Fukuda began submitting designs for a class of battleships superior in size and firepower to anything ever seen before.

While initially planning to build five of these battleships, ultimately only two were completed, with a third being converted to an aircraft carrier mid-way through construction.

The two completed ships, the Musashi and the Yamato, were quite literally in a class of their own, designed to displace some 73,000 long tons when fully equipped. For reference here, the United States’ Iowa class battleships created around the same time, while of similar length, weighed about 40% less.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge


Japanese battleship Yamato under construction at the Kure Naval Base, Japan, Sept. 20, 1941.

As one Japanese officer, Naoyoshi Ishida, described, “How huge it is! When you walk inside, there are arrows telling you which direction is the front and which is the back—otherwise you can’t tell. For a couple of days I didn’t even know how to get back to my own quarters. Everyone was like that…. I knew it was a very capable battleship. The guns were enormous.”

On that note, not just big, these ships also featured nine of the largest guns ever put on a battleship, featuring 460 mm barrels and weighing an astounding 3,000 tons each, with all nine combined weighing approximately as much as the United States’ Wyoming, New York, and Nevada class battleships.

These weapons were capable of firing shells that weighed up to 3200 pounds (1450 kg)- or, in other words, in the ballpark of what a typical full sized sedan car weighs. While you might think the range when shooting such an object must have been poor, in fact, these guns could hit a target over 25 miles (40 kilometers) away. They could also be fired at a rate of about once every 40 seconds.

The shockwave produced by one of these guns firing was noted as being powerful enough to tear the skin off of a human if an unlucky individual stood within 15 metres of it without proper shielding. This shockwave also resulted in nearby anti-aircraft guns having to be specially armored to protect them from this.

Speaking of anti-aircraft guns, ultimately these ships were equipped with approximately 150 25 mm guns. In between these and the massive 460 mm cannons previously described, the ships also featured six 155 mm and 24 127 mm guns.

Further, if not needing the 460 mm cannons for hitting ships far away, these battleships were equipped with so-called “beehive rounds” to fire from those cannons. In a nutshell, these rounds were filled with nearly a thousand incendiary tubes and hundreds of shards of steel. The round also included a fuse and explosive that would cause the shell to explode out, with the incendiary tubes igniting shortly thereafter, producing a wall of flame and molten steel meant to absolutely obliterate enemy aircraft. Essentially, the idea here was to convert these guns into comically large shotguns, able to pick any enemy birds out of the air.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Japanese Battleship Musashi taken from the bow.

Armor-wise, each ship possessed on its outer shell a protective layer some 16 inches thick.

While you might think this all combined must have made these ships slow as molasses, it turns out, they had a top speed of about 27 knots (31 mph). While not the fastest battleship in the world, this compared favorably to, for instance, the aforementioned Iowa class battleships that weighed about 40% less, but could only go about 6 knots faster.

Despite their awe-inspiring power and the full confidence of Japanese military brass that each ship was “unmatchable and unsinkable”, neither saw much combat. In fact, the Yamato spent so much time protecting Japanese ports that it was nicknamed the “Hotel Yamato”.

The reluctance of the Japanese navy to commit either ship to combat was motivated by both the scarcity of fuel in Japan during the war, with these battleships taking copious amounts of such to go anywhere, and the fact that military brass believed losing either ship would be a massive blow to the morale of the rest of the Japanese military.

Of course, in the closing months of WW2 with their forces almost completely obliterated, Japan reluctantly began committing both battleships to naval engagements. Unfortunately at this point these super battleships were so absurdly outnumbered in the limited engagements they’d ultimately take part in that they mostly just functioned as sitting ducks.

Most notably, they proved especially vulnerable to aircraft attacks. Even the aforementioned beehive rounds, which the Japanese believed would decimate aircraft, proved to be little more than a visual deterrent, with some American pilots simply flying straight through the flaming shrapnel they produced.

And while the near couple hundred anti-aircraft guns made it so it took a brave pilot to dive bomb the ships, the sheer number of aircraft that the Americans could throw at these battleships at the same time and how chaotic the battles got, ultimately saw these guns prove just as worthless in practice.

It didn’t help that at this point in the war Japan’s own aircraft were ridiculously outnumbered and outclassed, providing little to no air cover to try to protect the massive battleships. (See our article, How Were Kamikaze Pilots Chosen?)

Ultimately the Musashi was lost during the battle of Leyte Gulf in October of 1944, taking 19 torpedo and 17 bomb strikes to sink it.

As for the Yamato, it took part in her final engagement in April of 1945 in operation Ten-Go, which was an intentional suicide mission.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Japanese battleship Yamato is hit by a bomb near her forward 460mm gun turret.


The Yamato was to be the tip of the spear of this final, last-ditch effort to repel the American advance. Its crew was ordered to beach the ship near Okinawa and use its main battery to destroy as much of the invading force as possible. Essentially, the ship would function as a base on the island, and members of the near 3,000 strong crew not needed to operate weaponry aboard the ship were to wage a land battle with any enemy forces encountered.

The mission plan was flawed from the outset, however, and performed under protest of some of the Japanese Navy brass involved, who noted there would be no chance of even reaching the target island in the first place given the stated plan, including no air support whatsoever, and time of day they were to execute the plan (broad daylight).

This turned out to be correct- en route on April 7, 1945, the Yamato and handful of accompanying ships were completely, and quickly, overwhelmed by a combined assault from 6 cruisers, 21 destroyers, 7 battleships, and a few hundred aircraft.

One surviving member of the Yamato crew, junior officer Yoshida Mitsuru, had this to say of the battle that they all had known was a suicide mission from the start,

How many times, in target practice, have we conducted such tracking? I am possessed by the illusion that we have already experienced searches under the same conditions, with the same battle positions, even with the same mood.
What is going on before my very eyes, indisputably, is actual combat — but how can I possibly convince myself of that fact?
The blips are not an imagined enemy but an enemy poised for the kill. The location: not our training waters, but hostile waters.
More than one hundred enemy planes attacking!” Is it the navigation officer who calls this out?
… The battle begins….
As my whole body tingles with excitement, I observe my own exhilaration; as I grit my teeth, I break into a grin. A sailor near me is felled by shrapnel. In the midst of the overwhelming noise, I distinguish the sound of his skull striking the bulkhead; amid the smell of gunpowder all around, I smell blood….
The tracks of the torpedoes are a beautiful white against the water, as if someone were drawing a needle through the water; they come pressing in, aimed at Yamato from a dozen different directions and intersecting silently. Estimating by sight their distance and angle on the plotting board, we shift course to run parallel to the torpedoes and barely succeed in dodging them.
We deal first with the closest, most urgent one; when we get to a point far enough away from it that we can be sure we have dodged it, we turn to the next. Dealing with them calls for vigilance, calculation, and decision…. That these pilots repeated their attacks with accuracy and coolness was a sheer display of the unfathomable undreamed-of strength of our foes.

In the end, it took only 2 hours for American forces to destroy the single most powerful ship constructed during WW2, along with most of the tiny fleet it set out with. When the smoke cleared, around 4,000 were dead on the Japanese side vs. just around a dozen dead on the American side and a few more wounded.

Bonus Fact:

  • Early in WW2 the Imperial Japanese Navy had plans to construct even bigger ships than the Yamato and Musashi as part of an even more powerful class of ships they called the Super Yamatos. These ships, if constructed, would have possessed 510 mm guns, displaced upwards of 82,000 tons and could have moved at speeds approaching 30 knots. Lack of resources stopped Japan from ever building the ships however.

This article originally appeared on Today I Found Out. Follow @TodayIFoundOut on Twitter.

popular

This MARSOC recruiting video looks like a Hollywood movie

Every day, young men and women walk into their local Marine recruiting office with the prospect of joining the Corps. How could they not? The military knows how to make a compelling commercial or inspirational poster. The recruiter will also toss out some motivating terms like honor and respect just to wet an idealist’s beak.


But there’s one epic recruiting tool that helps give the individual that much needed push to make their final decision to sign up — the motivating recruiting video.

For MARSOC — or Marine Special Operations Command — the standard recruiting video takes it one step further. Their video comes with a unique narrative and badass soundtrack, and showcases a well-disciplined Marine rising out of the river in slow motion.

Related: This is what ‘Black Friday’ is like for new Marine recruits

Where do we sign up? (Image via Giphy)MARSOC is one of our nation’s most elite fighting forces; its members are ready to respond to any crisis, anywhere.

These small but well-trained Marine units embrace the unknown and are prepared to face any challenge. To earn a position on a MARSOC team takes a superhuman effort and the willingness to go above and beyond.

Also Read: 7 unrealistic Navy SEAL characters in the movies

Training takes place in three different phases consisting over a ten-week period. Each stage is specifically designed to expose each the candidate’s strengths and weaknesses before continuing.

The assessment and selection process mentally and physically challenges each potential team member, and completion of the course doesn’t guarantee a spot on the team. Only the best make the cut.

Once selected, team members can deploy anywhere at anytime with limited notice. Their missions are secret, as well as the identities of the members.

Check out MARSOC’s video below to see the cinematic recruiting video for yourself. We dare you not to join.

MARSOC, YouTube
Articles

This Marine legend earned three Navy Crosses in a single deployment

Colonel William A. “Ironman” Lee — most often remembered for his exploits as a gunnery sergeant — earned three Navy Crosses between 1930 and 1932 during a single deployment to Nicaragua as a Marine tasked with leading that country’s national guard against violent rebels.


French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Lee was a veteran of World War I when he was sent with other American troops to Nicaragua in 1927 to assist the Nicaraguan National Guard in a long-running fight against a leftist rebellion.

The Marines, including Lee, took command of small groups of local soldiers, trained them, and led them in combat.

In 1930, Lee was a gunnery sergeant who led the Nicaraguans against superior enemy forces six times between Mar. 20 and Aug. 19, forcing the enemy to retreat each time. Lee’s men were thought to have killed at least 10 enemy fighters and wounded many more over the span of the ten battles. Lee was awarded his first Navy Cross for his leadership and valor.

In December of the same year, Lee led a 10-day patrol through the jungle and engaged in three heavy fights with the rebels. His men defeated the rebels in each of the firefights, twice while fighting against rebel forces with superior numbers. This action netted Lee his second Navy Cross.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Two years later, Lee was partnered with then-First Lt. Lewis B. “Chesty” Puller as the two led a 40-man Nicaraguan element deep into the jungle, nearly 100 miles from the nearest reinforcements. On the seventh day of the patrol, the men were ambushed by an enemy force estimated at over 150 fighters.

Automatic weapons fire rained down on the Marines and Nicaraguans as rebels fired their rifles and threw grenades. Lee was hit in the arm and head almost immediately at the start of the fight. Puller led the Nicaraguans against the enemy to achieve fire superiority without knowing if Lee was alive or dead.

Luckily for them all, Lee was only unconscious and awoke approximately 15 minutes later as the battle continued. Despite his grievous wounds, he clawed his way to the Nicaraguans’ machine gun, moved it to a good firing position, and started raining hell on the rebels. He then returned to the main element and resumed his duties as the second in command on the final attack.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge
U.S. Marines holding the Nicaraguan rebel leader Augusto César Sandino’s Flag. Nicaragua, 1932. (Marine Corps photo)

The Marines and Nicaraguans then conducting a fighting withdrawal back to their base, engaging the enemy multiple times and defeating more ambushes.

Lee was awarded his third and final Navy Cross for his actions while Chesty Puller was awarded his second.

Lee would go on to fight in China during the lead up to World War II. Soon after the war broke out, he and his men were captured by Japanese forces and taken as prisoners of war and tortured. Lee survived the ordeal and continued serving in the Marine Corps until his retirement in 1950. He died of cancer in 1998.

MIGHTY CULTURE

Blue Star Families seeking minority representation in Military Family Lifestyle Survey

The Blue Star Families Military Family Lifestyle Survey is actively seeking more representation for persons of color. The survey is a vital tool utilized by government officials to determine the needs of the military community.

With the survey ending on October 16, 2020, Blue Star Families seeks more participation from Black, Hispanic and Asian members of the military community, who are often underrepresented in measures of family stability and wellbeing. More diverse data collection in this survey will allow for a more accurate representation of the realities facing military members, their families and our veterans.


In an article on their website, Dr. Jessica Strong explained the significance of the survey. ” Blue Star Families started with a survey because if they want to explain what military families are experiencing, the best thing to do is ask them,” she said. Strong is a U.S. Army spouse who works as the organization’s co-director of applied research.

The survey itself covers a broad range of subjects as it relates to military life. Hot topics include child care, spouse employment, the pandemic and education, among others. The survey lends a comprehensive picture of the reality of the military community so that decisions can be made on how to address issues that come up.

One of the other parts of the survey is aimed at understanding diversity in the military community. But without significant participation from persons of color within the military community, their unique needs may be overlooked and underrepresented.

The survey itself is completely voluntary and takes anywhere from 20-35 minutes, depending on how long you spend on each question. Conducted only once a year, survey results determine a whole host of programs and governmental responses to issues that need to be addressed.

Each year, more than one million people are impacted by Blue Star Families’ programs. Over million in value has been accessed in benefits by military families. With a four star charity rating, they’ve maintained their commitment to the military community. But one of the most important things that they do for the community lies in the Military Family Lifestyle Survey. It is imperative that everyone take the time to make their voice heard because it matters.

Their website hones in on the need to bridge the gap saying, “The goal of Blue Star Families’ research and policy work is to increase the awareness and understanding of military family life trends and the ramifications for both our Armed Forces and our American society.”

Since 2009, the organization has been dedicated to serving the military community through active engagement with the civilian and governmental sectors to ensure quality of life.

Through partnerships with the government, communities, nonprofits and the military community, Blue Star Families is already making a difference. But they need your help. Take the time to fill out the survey and make sure your voice and needs are heard, so that BSF can continue to serve you and your family.

To complete the 2020 Military Families Lifestyle Survey, click here.

MIGHTY TRENDING

The new Cold War has nothing to do with Russia – it’s all China

The Cold War was the ultimate worldwide, geopolitical game, pitting two disparate ideologies against one another. The battle lines were drawn — and they were clear. In one corner, you had the global Communist bloc and its allies, some perfidious, willing to pit the two superpowers against each other for their own gain. In the other was the West and its allies, defenders of capitalism and democracy (or… at least… they were just not Communists).

For nearly 50 years, this game dominated the world order. It became so ingrained in our brains that, today, it’s still difficult to think of Russia as anything but the Soviet Union, a democracy in name only, just waiting to turn back the clock and surprise us. So we must always be on guard.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge
Of course the Simpsons predicted it first.


French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

Pictured: Chinese foreign policy.

The problem with American foreign policy makers is that they don’t really know if Russia is truly their main adversary these days. Recently, a top CIA Asia expert told the Aspen Security Forum that China was definitely enemy number one, but does not want a direct conflict. China is much more insidious than that. Where the Soviets Russians prefer to openly troll Americans and blatantly defy American objectives, China is subtly undermining American power in strategic locations all over the world. And it has nothing to do with trade disputes.

FBI Director Christopher Wray says China poses the most significant threat to U.S. national security.

“The volume of it. The pervasiveness of it. The significance of it is something that I think this country cannot underestimate,” Wray said. It was a sentiment echoed by many security experts in Aspen — China is ready to replace Russia as a global U.S. competitor and to supplant the U.S. as the economic powerhouse.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

“The future is now, old man.”

Related: The FBI says Chinese spies in the US are the biggest threat right now

China has the second-largest defense budget in the world, the largest standing army in terms of ground forces, the third-largest air force, and a navy of 300 ships and more than 60 submarines — all in the process of modernizing and upgrading. The Chinese are also far ahead of the United States in developing hypersonic weapons.

They’re ready for the United States in a way that Russia hasn’t been prepared for in a long, long time.

French Marines ended a hostage crisis with a bayonet charge

“I’m sorry Xi, I misheard you. The future is what?”

And this isn’t exactly a new development. While the United States (and now Russia) were engaged in costly wars and interventions all over the world, China has slowly been expanding its worldwide economic footprint and partnerships. Russia has been harassing its neighbors since 2008 in Georgia, Crimea, Ukraine, and elsewhere. Meanwhile, China began its Belt and Road Initiative, investing billions in infrastructure to link China with markets from Central Asia to Europe.

While no one was watching, Chinese investment dollars have filled coffers all over the world, bringing once-forgotten economic backwaters into the Chinese sphere of influence at the cost of American prestige. Chinese raw materials will build these developing marketplaces and the Yuan may soon even be the currency of choice. If the Belt and Road Forum takes off, it could even cut Chinese reliance on American markets.

Russia seems more threatening because that’s exactly what the Russians are good at. Vladimir Putin is no fan of the West or NATO and it seems like he takes real delight in NATO’s failures, especially in Ukraine. While hypersonic weapons, an increased nuclear weapons capacity, and a deeper relationship with Bashar al-Assad’s Syria seem like a significant threat (and may well be), the reality is those hypersonic weapons aren’t quite perfect and Syria isn’t going as well as planned.

Meanwhile, China is quietly preparing for the future.

Do Not Sell My Personal Information