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1 hour ago, steelman said:

I might be mistaken, but I believe the Yamato carried 20" guns.  It would have been one hell of a fight.  

18"  same range roughly as our, but the IJN ships were 8 knots slower . Targeting was radar and visual like ours. Probably would have come down to rate of fire and the initial salvo's accuracy.

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That big crane? Navy considers taking it down

The Virginian Pilot  /  January 27, 2013

It's a Hampton Roads icon, a part of the region's landscape for more than 70 years, instantly recognizable.

And it might be coming down.

The Navy is weighing what to do with "Hammerhead Crane 110," which has towered over Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth since 1940, where it played a big - very big - part of the yard's World War II effort.

A study evaluating the crane's structural soundness is under way and expected to continue through April. One option: Tear it down.

"A final decision might not be made for several months, potentially up to a year," said Michael Brayshaw, a shipyard spokesman.

Though few may know it by name, its size makes it hard to miss. The hammerhead, as it's generally known, looks like a bridge from an old Erector set.

"Not only is it the shipyard's largest crane, but at one point it was the largest crane of its type on the East Coast," Brayshaw said.

Designed and built by Hyel-Patterson Corp. of Pittsburgh, the crane cost $640,000, according to the shipyard.

Its intended use: building and servicing battleship turrets.

At 260 feet tall and weighing 5 million pounds, the crane could lift and rotate a 350-long-ton load full circle around its base alongside the Elizabeth River.

Two trolleys on the main hoist system worked in tandem to lift and position loads.

But the crane has been inactive since 2001, and there's concern that its deterioration could make it more of a danger than an asset.

Its demolition wouldn't be unprecedented.

A hammerhead like it was torn down at the Brooklyn Navy Yard in New York in the 1960s.

Meredith Wisner, archivist at the yard, said that the men and women who worked at that yard during World War II took the demolition hard. They considered the crane a kind of guardian of the yard, embodying their collective spirit, she said.

"It was a very recognizable structure on our property."

Hampton Roads' own hammerhead has more than a few admirers, too.

Portsmouth Sheriff Bill Watson was a crane operator at the shipyard in the mid-to-late 1980s, and he says he was among those certified to run the big crane.

He remembers sitting at the controls in the windowed cab that hangs from the bottom of the crane's big boom.

"It was very intimidating when you first got in," he said. "Most people thought we were crazy anyway; if you have an issue with height, that's one crane you don't want to be on."

The crane sways about 4 feet in either direction if the wind's blowing, he said.

"I was up there in a hurricane one time; I'll never forget that one."

A Portsmouth waterfront without the hammerhead is hard to fathom, one current shipyard worker said Friday.

"That's our logo," he said.


What's up with the iconic Hammerhead Crane in Portsmouth? Not a whole lot.

The Virginian Pilot  /  March 3, 2017

So what’s up with the Hammerhead Crane?

Not a whole lot.

For 77 years, it has towered over Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, an icon of the region’s waterfront.

A key player during the yard’s World War II effort, it was last used in 2001. Since then, it’s become a safety hazard for shipyard personnel working near it.

For four years or so, the Navy has been weighing what to do with the 5 million-pound, 260-foot-tall structure.

An environmental assessment, a prerequisite for any decision about the crane’s future, was due a year ago, but is ongoing, a spokesman said last week in an email: The shipyard “continues to work with a number of consulting parties regarding the long-term future of the Hammerhead Crane.”

At a public information meeting in August 2015, the Navy said three options were on the table: dismantling the crane, possibly saving some parts for museums; repairing it and sprucing it up, preserving it for 20 years as a kind of monument; and doing nothing.

At that time, the Navy favored the first option, which was then estimated to cost about $1.7 million.

First up, though, was completion of the environmental assessment, which was projected to wrap up around March 2016, with a decision to follow.

The process continues.

“That’s where we are,” Mike Brayshaw, a shipyard spokesman, said in a phone interview last week. “We’re still continuing to meet with stakeholders.”


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2 hours ago, 1958 F.W.D. said:

Pictured is a 26" thick hunk of a captured Yamata class BB which was punctured by a US Mark 7 16" (Iowa class BB) gun during a test.

The only actual US/Jap BB battle was Guadalcanal Nov 12, 1942 when the USS Washington traded shots with the IJN Kirashima. If you like to read and enjoy US Naval history, I highly recommend the book "Neptune's Inferno" by James D. Hornfischer about that battle. One of the best books I have ever read. 


Turret front armor hit with a 16"  2700-lb Mark 8 Mod 6 AP with inert filler at the plate from a distance of 1500 yards, almost point blank. The flaking means it was contaminated, low nickel content and had too slow cooling to be strong armor. The normal angle of the turret face armor was 45 degrees off vertical. That increased the armor thickness by about  8+ inches. The ranges in a sea battle would have started at 30,000 yards and closed to 8 to 10,000. It would have been a matter of repeated hits. But the plus on the U.S. ship armor was it was face hardened and would at combat distances deflect the hit.  IJN= bigger guns, inferior armor, USN smaller guns and less projectile weight  (by almost 1000 pounds) Higher muzzle velocity and better armor.

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On 2/18/2018 at 10:33 PM, 41chevy said:

Seen one of the first AC130 gun ship on a night run in Vietnam do a pylon turn locked on with the Xeon light all 4 miniguns and 4 Vulcans all firing at once. There was nothing left of the ground personnel but rags.  It's now on display at Elgin Air Force base in Florida.

That Vulcan is one incredible weapon.  Something GE invented that worked well.  Hard to imagine 4 of those things firing at once.  A 20 mm projectile at 100 rounds per second...


Edited by grayhair
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When I was a little kid in the late '50s my Dad took my brother and me to the Philadelphia Navy yard and we were able to do a walk through tour of a battleship, a destroyer, and a submarine. 

The three things I remember: 

On the deck of the battleship was a huge projectile standing on end that was nearly as tall as I was  --- the submarine was so much smaller inside than I could imagine. sleeping quarters was in hammocks, 4 or 5 hammocks above each other on both sides of a narrow aisle --- and they were getting ready to seal and weld the hatches shut and pump out the air and fill it with inert gas for long term storage or so we were told at the time.

That was about 60 years ago but I'll never forget how small/tight the inside of that sub.  No room for fat guys or really tall guys, only regular sized patriots...

Sad to see all the navy relics gone from that yard.  Both my grandfathers worked there during WWII, one an electrician, the other an accountant.  40,000 people worked there during the war. 


Edited by grayhair

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10 hours ago, grayhair said:

Sad to see all the navy relics gone from that yard.  Both my grandfathers worked there during WWII, one an electrician, the other an accountant.  40,000 people worked there during the war.   

NAVSSES (Naval Ship Systems Engineering Station) Carderock Division is still at the PNSY and functioning. They do a lot of sub periscope work.
The Naval Foundry is still there and functioning- where they make the screws for many subs- in fact from what I understand two covered dry docks have just been built down there to do classified work on subs, maybe in conjunction with NAVSSES.
NISMF (Naval Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility) Still operates there- mostly storing and caring for ships awaiting disposal. I do not believe any of the ready reserve fleet is still at PNSY.

Edited by 1958 F.W.D.
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