Navy Passes "Old Salt" Award: NORFOLK -- The "Old Salt" designation, honoring the Navy's Surface Warfare Officer serving on active duty with the earliest Officer of the Deck (OOD) fleet qualification, changed hands during a ceremony aboard USS San Antonio (LPD 17) at Naval Station Norfolk, Dec. 16. The qualification passed from retired Adm. Mike Mullen to Adm. John C. Harvey, Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. The "Old Salt" award was initiated in 1988, by the Surface Navy Association (SNA) and is accompanied by a bronze statue depicting a World War II naval officer on the pitching deck of a ship. The statue is cast from metal salvaged from historic U.S. naval ships, most notably the battleship USS Maine, which exploded and sank in Havana Harbor in 1898, precipitating the Spanish-American War.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Remember The Maine! (Re-post)
The explosion aboard and sinking of the USS Maine on this date in 1898 continues to reverberate in the minds of Americans. Back in December, I came across this item, originally published in Navy News:
See the complete article by Rafael Martie at Military.com. This post was originally published February 20, 2010.
This week marked the anniversary of the sinking of the USS Maine. The 1898 incident was a rallying point around which support for the Spanish-American War coalesced, and thus marked the beginning of a period in which US power would increasingly be projected overseas. But even today, what really happened to the Maine remains a mystery.
The Maine had been sent to Havana to protect American interests at a time when local Cubans were increasingly restive at the hands of the colonial Spanish authorities. The forward third of the ship was destroyed by explosions in the vessel's own powder magazine, killing more than 270 sailors. The Navy's investigation at the time -- and a 1908 follow-up-- faulted a mine, but what really caused the initial explosion remains controversial to this day. Subsequent investigations and theorists have cited both the mine hypothesis (who laid or set off the mine being a whole separate can of worms) and the idea that spontaneous combustion in the vessel's coal storage areas provided the first spark. This latter was the conclusion of a Spanish investigation conducted at the time. It has even been suggested that conspirators -- on or off the ship -- from the US set off the explosion in an attempt to foster support for a war against Spain.
Admiral Hyman Rickover convened another investigation in 1976 that supported the coal bunker explosion hypothesis, while a 1999 National Geographic analysis supported the external explosion theory.
See a short 1898 film by Thomas Edison showing the wreckage of the Maine on YouTube.