This Week in Naval History:
Source: The Naval News Service
3 DEC through 16 DEC 2001
- Dec. 3, 1775: Lt. John Paul Jones raises the Grand Union flag, often referred to as the first Navy ensign, on the warship Alfred. This is the first American flag raised over a Continental warship. The flag contained 13 stripes and the British Union Jack in the field.
- Dec. 4, 1950: Ensign Jesse L. Brown, the Navy's first African-American pilot, is forced to make a crash landing near Hagaru-Ri, North Korea, when his plane is hit by enemy ground fire while flying a close-support mission from the carrier USS Leyte (CV 32). Brown dies of his injuries and is posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. A ship was later named in his honor.
- Dec. 5, 1843: The steamer Michigan, the Navy's first iron-hulled vessel, is launched at Erie, Pa., to patrol the Great Lakes. She is also the Navy's first prefabricated ship, having been built in Pittsburgh and transported to Erie for assembly.
- Dec. 6, 1964: The completion of the last of three salt-water conversion plants makes the U.S. Naval Base Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, independent of outside water supply. The communist Cuban government had cut off the flow of fresh water to the base. An offer to have it restored was refused.
- Dec. 7, 1941: Japanese carrier aircraft attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, killing more than 2,000 service members and wounding more than 1,000. The surprise attack enrages the American public, resulting in a declaration of war against Japan.
- Dec. 8, 1933: The Secretary of the Navy establishes the Fleet Marine Force, integrating a ready-to-deploy Marine force with its own aircraft into the fleet organization.
- Dec. 9, 1938: The Navy's first operational shipboard radar, the XAF, is installed aboard USS New York (BB 34). Designed and built by the Naval Research Laboratory, the radar is able to detect ships at 12 miles and aircraft at 85 miles.
- Dec. 10, 1941: Aircraft from USS Enterprise (CV 6) attack and sink the Japanese submarine I-70 north of the HawaiianIslands. A participant in the attack on Pearl Harbor, I-70 is the first Japanese combatant ship sunk during World War II.
- Dec. 11, 1954: The first supercarrier of 59,630 tons, USS Forrestal (CVA 59), is launched at Newport News, Va.
- Dec. 12, 1862: The Union Navy ironclad Cairo is sunk by a Confederate mine (or "torpedo," as mines were then known) in the Yazoo River in Mississippi. She is the first of more than 40 Union vessels that will be destroyed or damaged by mines during the Civil War.
- Dec. 13, 1969: Adm. Raymond A. Spruance, commander of U.S. naval forces at the Battles of Midway and the Philippine Sea, dies at his home in Pebble Beach, Calif., at the age of 83.
- Dec. 14, 1983: USS New Jersey (BB 62) fires 11 shells from her 16-inch guns at hostile positions inland of Beirut, Lebanon. These are the first 16-inch shells fired for effect anywhere in the world since 1969.
- Dec. 15, 1843: Commodore Matthew C. Perry leads a landing party of Sailors and Marines in an attack on the village of Little Berebee on the Ivory Coast off the east coast of Africa. The attack is to avenge the massacre of U.S. merchant seaman there two years earlier. Perry and his men wound and capture the king of Little Berebee, and then set fire to the village.
- Dec. 16, 1907: President Theodore Roosevelt orders the "Great White Fleet" to sail on a worldwide show-of-force to demonstrate the Navy's global reach. The ships, 16 battleships assigned to the Atlantic Fleet in Hampton Roads, were painted white except for gilded scrollwork on their bows. They returned home Feb. 22, 1909.