LIMITED PROGRESS

Was just watching an old movie about our giving 50 of our 4-stacker destroyers to the British Navy, back in 1940, and it reminded me how far our Naval technology has come since then.

Those 50 ships were built between 1919 and 1922 and had been “mothballed” until we gave them to the Brits. The next serious design change was the Fletcher 2-stacker followed by the Gearing class 2 stacker, and that’s the ship type that I served on, beginning in 1958. That particular ship’s keel was laid in 1944 and she was commissioned in 1945, too late to take part in The War. She was 13 years old when I came aboard and already reeked of age. Her weapons systems were already outmoded, everything was vacuum tube technology, while new ships were being outfitted with much more compact and efficient transistorized gear. In the Main Plotting room below decks, there was a huge box that occupied the center of the room, all rounded-corner cast aluminum with lots of glass windows and dials, made by Bendix Corp., that was a mechanical computer and the heart of the ship’s main batteries. A Mechanical Computer, and it probably weighed several tons.

Only 3 years after boarding this ship, I saw a modern Guided Missile Cruiser fire off a missile from it’s fantail. The missile was held in a device that looked like a half-section of pipe that fit over the top of the missile and held it in place, and the “pipe” was supported by a vertical stand mounted to the deck and was motorized so that it could turn in any direction and point up or down.

As I watched, the missile dropped from it’s holder and fell toward the deck, falling about a foot downward before it ignited and roared off. From the time it dropped until the time it was no longer visible was probably less than one second. I never saw anything move so fast in my life. This was in 1961, 57 years ago. Today we have rail guns aboard ships that launch slugs of metal without the use of gunpowder, that can hit a ship so hard that the kinetic force can tear that ship in half. We have guns that can track and shoot down incoming missiles that are moving too fast for the eye to follow, and I bet we have weapons far beyond that, that we’re not told about.

But one thing we still haven’t managed to accomplish is a united group of politicians in Washington DC who work together in harmony for the good of our country instead of for their own enrichment and dreams of power.

One Response to “LIMITED PROGRESS”

  1. x says:

    I think the British government buys its destroyers from charity shops these days.

    I agree with Trump on military spending. France and UK not too bad at about 2% GDP but Germany’s about 1%. When has Germany ever contributed to any military efforts since Adolph?