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Thread: USS New Jersey in Lebanon Channeling Thread

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    USS New Jersey in Lebanon Channeling Thread

    (Emphasis added) :

    Officer returns to battleship
    Monday, April 30, 2001

    By CAROL COMEGNO
    Courier-Post Staff
    CAMDEN

    A mist swirled close to the wet, warped deck of the battleship USS New Jersey as the sun evaporated a cool morning rain.

    On a recent damp day, Robert Lian of of Westampton walked aboard the ship, which was once his home at sea, for the first time in 15 years.

    He climbed up one deck on the bow and stepped up into Turret No. 2, which holds three of the ship's nine now silent 16-inch diameter guns. The most powerful U.S. naval guns ever built, they could hurl their shells more than 20 miles.

    It was familiar territory for the Lockheed Martin chemical engineer and former Navy lieutenant. He was the officer in charge of that turret from 1981 until after the ship's mission off Lebanon in 1983, when a suicide terrorist bomb explosion killed 241 U.S. Marines and sailors at the Marine barracks at Beirut International Airport.

    While stepping up into the turret from a hatch on its underside, Lian's first reaction was, "smells the same," noticing the scent of an oil-based preservative used to coat metals on the ship.

    He felt at home standing at his former command station. He wore one of his original ship hats and recounted procedures and commands used to load and fire the guns in his turret.

    "It's like I never left. It's pretty scary I remember so much," said Lian, 48.

    "I realized the dangers of the job because of the potential for explosions inside the turret, but it was the closest I could come to having a command. It was fun and a challenge to make sure the guns operated safely."

    The 59-year-old ship, one of the most highly decorated in the Navy, is now undergoing a $7 million restoration in Camden in preparation for opening as a floating naval museum this fall on the downtown Waterfront.

    Inside the turret, Lian detailed his mission off Lebanon, the time the center gun in his turret was replaced and a test firing at sea over the rear of the ship instead of to the side as usual.

    "It was President Reagan who reactivated the battleships, but there was always political rivalry between the surface Navy and the air Navy flying planes off aircraft carriers," he said. "I saw this firsthand in discussions in the ward room of our ship where the offices gathered. Secretary of the Navy (John) Lehman (Jr.) was upset over these internal disputes and wrote about them later in a book.

    "At first we were not allowed to fire our guns on Lebanon because Adm. Gerry Tuttle, who was in charge of our battle group aboard the carrier Eisenhower, favored air strikes and arbitrarily decided our guns were not accurate enough," Lian recalled. "He believed battleships took military money away from aircraft, so we just sat and sat and sat offshore for weeks, becoming a joke.

    "We finally fired the guns on Lebanon after the Syrians captured a radar operator from an Eisenhower aircraft that went down. The pilot had been killed."

    Then, in February 1984, when the rest of the Marines left Lebanon, the battleship fired its massive guns again. " We fired almost blindly because air would not give us any spotting data for targets and we had to rely on Israeli target information that was not all that accurate. Supposedly we hit an ammo dump and took out a Syrian general, but we never got verification. However, the Marines met no resistance as they left," he said.

    He said the turret crew was lucky to fire the gun once every five minutes.

    "The advertised rate of fire in our books was two rounds per minute, but it was hard to sustain that because the powder bags are so heavy and had to be handled all by hand. The projectiles were all from World War II and some of the powder was also," he recalled.

    During that Lebanon incident, the ship could only fire an 8-gun volley (from the nine guns of the three main battery turrets). Our center gun was deemed unsafe to fire because of wear," he recalled.


    His last duty on the ship was to help supervise removal of the center rifle barrel in 1984 and install one that had been used for test firing at Dalgren, Va.

    One firing that stood out in Lian's mind was when the gunnery officer wanted to see the effect of the guns firing to the rear and ahead instead of broadside.

    "The blasts from Turret 3 scorched the after deck and pushed in by 6 inches a deck motion picture projection booth that had been used years before to show films to the crew. It also sheered the bolts off the top of the brass line-handling capstan," Lian said, referring to the device used for hoisting heavy objects such as an anchor. "The boatswain wasn't too happy about that but at least his crew didn't have to polish the brass anymore," he said.

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    Captain Larry Seaquist, former CO of USS Iowa :

    From: Larry Seaquist [mailto:larry at strategygroup.org]
    Sent: Friday, September 14, 2001 10:52 PM
    To: Siegel, Adam
    Subject: Re: [Military-appl-society] Fw: Miami MAS

    Adam,

    The best overall source of information on the New Jersey's wild firing (and it was very bad, not least because no one used as spotters a shore fire control party of Marines that we actually operating in the hills under cover. Major caliber fire MUST be adjusted) is Charlie Thompson, the former Vietnam gunfire liaison officer and former 60 minutes producer who wrote the book on Iowa. Charlie is in McLean at 703-237-0276.

    There were some civilian casualties but in Arab villages, not refugee camps. Otherwise, of course, the professor is nuts -- blaming us for this?!!

    You might also ask the Col to call me -- back in the SSG and enroute Iowa I spent some time tracking this incident down in order to be able to fix whatever the cluster of problems was. The analysis below addresses one of the several parts of the problem but has the facts only slightly right.

    And thanks for the phone call about my friends who died in the Pentagon, Adam. I really appreciate your thoughtfulness. No memorial is ever going to replace all those fine people or ease the pain for their families and shipmates.

    Very best wishes to you both,

    Larry

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    United States Battleships, 1935-92 by William Garzke and Robert Dulin (revised edition) :

    page 218 : "Secretary Lehman and Congress were concerned about the 16-inch gunnery inaccuracy that the New Jersey had displayed off Beirut in 1982 (sic). There had been too much dispersion in the gunfire that silenced Syrian Artillery".
    page 236 : "The CNO indicated that the New Jersey's 16-inch fire had silenced the gun batteries that had been shelling Beirut. Still, her gun performance off Lebanon was much poorer than expected and led to the Iowa's intensive and comprehensive gunnery test program from 1984 to 1988".
    page 287 : "Gunnery research, conducted on board the Iowa from 1985-88, solved the problem of gunnery dispersion, a problem that the New Jersey experienced in Lebanon and Vietnam."
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 20 Mar 08, at 10:45.

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    Iowa Class Battleships: Their Design, Weapons and Equipment by Robert Sumrall :

    page 79 : "The condition of the powder was the main reason for the lacklustre gunnery performance of the New Jersey off Lebanon in 1984."

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    The Iowa Class Battleships: Iowa, New Jersey, Missouri & Wisconsin by Malcolm Muir :

    page 135 : "But other assessors have maintained that new Marine Corps target acquisition radars did allow precise correction '... to within about 13 meters accuracy, well within the lethal radius of the battleship New Jersey's 16-inch guns. Unfortunately, the battleship's 16-inch gunfire proved nowhere near as accurate'. Such speculation is perhaps borne out by the care with which the Navy began rebagging charges using 16"/45 and 8"/55 powders. In any event, the New Jersey showed, if nothing else, she possessed plenty of stamina."

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    (Emphasis added) :

    TV REVIEWS; NBC NEWS'S 'TRILLION FOR DEFENSE'

    By JOHN CORRY, The New York Times
    Published: April 21, 1987

    THE title explains it: ''A Trillion for Defense: What Have We Bought?'' A lot of hardware, ammunition and weapons systems, the NBC News special answers, although not always sensibly or well. Interservice rivalries, improper purchasing procedures and a lack of policy planning hurt the process. The criticisms are not new, but the special, on Channel 4 at 10 o'clock tonight, presents them in fresh, timely fashion. The program is worth watching.

    Implicit in the program seems to be the notion that we face neither nuclear war nor large-scale conventional war. There may be wishful thinking in this. After all, hundreds of thousands of soldiers stare hostilely from both sides in Europe. If war did come, it could involve huge forces. Even in Vietnam, the United States had up to 500,000 troops in place at one time. Meanwhile, nuclear weapons are a fact of life; strategic planners take them into account.

    Nonetheless, ''A Trillion for Defense'' - produced by Robert Rogers - sees the military problem lying elsewhere. ''Future wars,'' Garrick Utley, an NBC correspondent, says at the start, ''will most likely be small, against guerrillas and terrorists.'' These would be wars that Army Rangers, Navy Seals and other specialized forces are trained to fight.

    ''But the generals and admirals who run the armed services tend to think of the big war,'' Mr. Utley continues, ''and spend most of their time and money preparing to fight it.''

    Consequently, the specialized forces seem to be neglected. As Sam Nunn, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says in an interview, ''Year after year, they get relegated to the very bottom of the pile on priority.''

    As evidence, the program cites the attempt to rescue the hostages in Iran in 1980 and the invasion of Grenada in 1983. In Iran, Delta Force helicopters malfunctioned. On Grenada, military units from the different services could not stay in radio contact. In a now famous incident (Clint Eastwood memorialized it in the movie ''Heartbreak Ridge''), a soldier on Grenada used a credit card to call a military base in the United States. He asked the base to get in touch with naval vessels only a few thousand yards away.

    ''A Trillion for Defense'' recalls that Lebanon was the scene of a somewhat similar problem in 1984. The battleship New Jersey fired its 16-inch guns at artillery that was shelling the marines at the Beirut airport. Army radar was able to pinpoint the location of the artillery, but could not pass the information to the New Jersey's guns. The result, says Gen. Edward C. Meyer, the former Army Chief of Staff, was misdirected firing by the New Jersey.

    ''You had what I call 'to whom it may concern' rounds going out into the area,'' General Meyer declares, ''and you had large Lebanese villages that had major casualties, and you started to have a greater disaffection of the civilians in that area.''

    Part of the problem, General Meyer and others on the program agree, is the lack of coordinated planning. When the New Jersey was recommissioned, for example, no one insisted that its guns be able to pick up Army radar.


    Subsequently, Mr. Utley asks a solemn question about the defense spending of the last six years: How much of the ''trillion-plus dollar buildup could end up down the tubes?''

    The question is never really answered, but that's not a fault of NBC News. Defense spending has too many imponderables built in. In the absence of war, for one thing, we can't tell if everything works or not. On the other hand, it is clear there has been wastage.

    Thus ''A Trillion for Defense'' raises some familiar targets - $600 toilet seats and $1,100 plastic caps -and some that are less known. Congress, as a favor to coal states, forced the Pentagon this year to buy 300,000 tons of coal. This is some 200,000 tons more than the military can use. Congress, however, is more likely to complain about the toilet seats.

    The program, written by Mr. Utley and Mr. Rogers, concludes with a warning about defense spending and its effect on the Federal deficit. The warning seems slightly gratuituous. ''A Trillion for Defense,'' though, is an ably reported work on an important topic.

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    From Lebanon : A Country Study by Thomas Collelo, Library of Congress, 1987 :

    The United States support for the pro-Jumayyil, Christian brigades of the Lebanese Army during the 1983-84 Mountain War turned into a fiasco. Not only did the United States lose two aircraft to ground fire, but the shelling of Druze and Shia population centers by the U.S.S. New Jersey convinced most Lebanese Muslims that the United States had taken the Christian side.

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    From an OSD (PA&E) report entitled "Retaining Battleships", dated 20 November 1990 :

    (emphasis added)

    page 5 : All the powder bags have been reweighed, reworked and repacked, because deterioration of the powder was one of the greatest problems with accuracy in the early 1980s (a problem discovered after New Jersey's disappointing accuracy in Lebanon).
    OSD = Office of the Secretary of Defense

    PA&E = Program Analysis & Evaluation (see here).

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    (Emphasis added) :

    WAR IN THE GULF: The Weapons; A Warhorse That Fires The Heftiest of Shells

    By KEITH BRADSHER, The New York Times
    Published: February 5, 1991

    The United States Navy called on a former floating museum yesterday to join the battering of Iraqi troops in Kuwait.

    The Missouri, the Brooklyn-built Iowa-class battleship on whose decks Japan surrendered to General of the Army Douglas MacArthur at the end of World War II, sent seven shells, each the weight of a small car, shrieking toward enemy bunkers. It was the first time since the Korean War that the ship had fired its 16-inch guns in battle.

    The shells from an American battleship can penetrate stronger fortifications than any other conventional shell, bomb or missile on earth, said Robert F. Sumrall, the author of "Iowa Class Battleships." Lobbed to a height of 40,000 to 50,000 feet over a distance of up to 20 miles, the shells come down with enough force to punch through 35 feet of steel-reinforced hardened concrete.

    The Reagan Administration's decision to return the four Iowa-class battleships to active service in the mid-1980's was controversial because of the cost. An explosion in one of the 16-inch gun turrets aboard the U.S.S. Iowa killed 47 people on April 19, 1989. The Iowa was decommissioned last October and the New Jersey is scheduled to be decommissioned this month, which will leave the Missouri and the Wisconsin as the only American battleships in active service.

    Military experts describe the 16-inch gun as a little less accurate than a laser-guided bomb. During a practice exercise, the Iowa once fired 27 shells within three and a half minutes, and all landed in an area the size of a football field at a range of 18 miles, said Mr. Sumrall, a retired chief petty officer who served aboard the vessel then.

    But the 16-inch guns of the New Jersey proved inaccurate at times when used to pound the coast of Lebanon in 1983, said Kenneth J. Hagan, a professor of naval history at the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Md.

    The Missouri's armored hull can withstand a direct hit from such Iraqi weapons as the Exocet missile, Mr. Hagan said.

    The Brooklyn Navy Yard built the Missouri in 1944 to survive long-range artillery duels with Japanese battleships using armor-piercing shells similar to its own.

    The Pentagon paid $476 million to refurbish the Missouri and recommissioned it in May 1986. The battleship had spent 30 years in Puget Sound, Wash., as a floating museum and administrative center for mothballed ships.

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    My American Journey by General Colin Powell :

    Page 280 : I was developing a strong distaste for the antiseptic phrases coined by State Department officials for foreign interventions which usually had bloody consequences for the military, words like "presence," "symbol," "signal," "option on the table," "establishment of credibility." Their use was fine if beneath them lay a solid mission. But too often these words were used to give the appearance of clarity to mud.

    On August 29, before the airport truck bombing, two Marines had been killed by Muslim mortar fire; on September 3, two more, and on October 16, two more.

    Against Weinberger's protest, McFarlane, now in Beirut, persuaded the President to have the battleship U.S.S. New Jersey start hurling 16-inch shells into the mountains above Beirut, in World War II style, as if we were softening up the beaches on some Pacific atoll prior to an invasion.

    What we tend lo overlook in such situations is that other people will react much as we would. When the shells started falling on the Shiites, they assumed the American "referee" had taken sides against them.

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    From this interview with General Colin Powell :

    But suddenly someone started killing those Marines and then the Marines fired back and then political officials said "Let's shoot battleship shells at them." This wasn't military judgement, this was a political judgement, and guess what, we made people very, very mad that they were being shot at, and they knew how to respond....

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    From this paper presented by John H. Kelly (U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon from 1986 to 1988, Assistant Secretary of State for the Near East and South Asia from 1989 to 1991) :

    From the record it is clear that a lot of the decisions were based on wishful thinking (e.g., the presence of the battleship New Jersey will somehow intimidate the fighters into peace).

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    A Glimpse of Hell : The Explosion on the U. S. S. Iowa & Its Cover-Up by Charles Thompson :

    Pages 139-140 : The Joint Chiefs of Staff agreed to let the battleship [USS New Jersey] fire on December 14, 1983. Eleven 1900-pound high-explosive shells were lobbed into the Shouf Mountains. There we no spotters in the air or on the ground to adjust where the shells fell. The results were pitiful. (...)

    She was cleared for another fire mission the afternoon of February 8, 1984. The targets -all located by satellite- were Druze and Syrian gun positions near a mountain village about fifteen miles east of Beirut. Again, no spotters were present. For eight hours, the New Jersey hurled nearly 300 sixteen-inch shells. She fired another thirteen shells on February 26 before heading back to her homeport. (...) The results of these two missions were even worse than in December.

    Marine Colonel Don Price, who had served in combat in Vietnam and was familiar with naval shore-fire bombardment practices investigated the New Jersey's gunnery in Lebanon and concluded that she missed her targets by as much as 10000 yards (about six miles). Price was convinced that some of the New Jersey's errant shells killed civilians living in the Shouf Mountains, although the Navy denied this. "You have a multimillion-dollar weapons system and nobody knows how to put the rounds anywhere near the target," Price said.

    Although the Navy publically claimed that the New Jersey hit her targets, the CNO (...) thought otherwise (...) [he] met with RADM Bill Fogarty and asked him if there had been a powder problem when he commanded the New Jersey.

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    Electronic Greyhounds : The Spruance-Class Destroyers by CAPT. Michael C. Potter :

    Page 214 : Caron and Moosbrugger joined the Sixth Fleet after Operation Urgent Fury and proceeded to Beirut in January 1984. New Jersey bombarded Israeli-designated targets ashore with her 16-inch guns.

    Her old radars could not locate markers on the coast, so a Mark-86-equipped Spruance-class destroyer did this. The destroyer pinpointed her position with high-precision radar (SPQ-9A) and relayed the target's range and bearing from her. New Jersey's gunnery system tracked the destroyer and triangulated to the target.

    Without forward spotters, accuracy and effect were unknown. Secretary Lehman claimed eight Syrian artillery batteries were destroyer; rebels showed empty houses that they said were damaged.

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    Dispersion Of Shells In Lebanon

    This posting is in response to Dr. Elder's comments about NEW JERSEY's accuracy buried in a posting deep in what has turned out to be the most active posting for sometime.

    As Dr. Elder has correctly identified they were significant degradation to some of the powder lots used by 'Big Jay'. This resulted in extreme variations in Initial Velocities (IVs) which subsequently yielded "Shot Groups" similar to a shotgun pattern.

    However, all powder lots were not seriously effected and there were NGF missions that resulted in "Target Destroyed". I believe AP gave us the story of somebody leaving for a cup of coffee that resulted in a fire mission which inadvertently resulted in destroying an enemy target that was supposed to "off limits". What a shame.

    The purpose of this posting is to inform the "community" of a little known fact that I became aware of last year that is extremely relevant.

    While attending a National Imagery and Mapping Agency (NIMA) Mapping, Charting, and Geodesy (MC&G) course, the instructor informed me of the various DATUMS and MAP PROJECTION SYSTEMS that are in place, that are used to map and navigate the earth. He specifically addressed the REQUIREMENT that before doing anything, as a matter of Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) that all personnel, when working with more than one person, you ensure that everybody is working off the same Sheet of music. In this case he is referring to the same MAP SHEET.

    Specifically, in Lebanon, while "Calling-for-Fire", the ground units were issued maps of the Local Area. These maps used the NORTH AFRICAN MAP PROJECTION SYSTEM. Because it only maps a small sample of the earth, it is extremely accurate. The NEW JERSEY was using either a NORTH AMERICAN MAP PROJECTION SYSTEM or the WORLD GEODETIC SYSTEM - 72 (he didn't specify which).

    Analysis of the difference, in distance, of the exact same coordinate, between the two maps, using two entirely different mapping methodologies was and still is 800 METERS!!!!!!!

    This, in conjunction with powder inconsistencies, explains much since analysis of most of NEW JERSEY's NGFS missions were UNOBSERVED and UNADJUSTED.

    GOD Bless the Vets!

    Tracy A. Ralphs
    Program Director, USNFSA

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    The response I posted in another thread :

    Quote Originally Posted by Shipwreck View Post

    2. Regardless the validity of Tracy Ralphs' *Common Map Sheet* theory, the average shift between WGS (World Geodetic System) and local geodetic datums, if unaccounted for, would only negatively affect accuracy (i.e. difference between MPI and desired aimpoint) and has NO impact whatsoever on precision (i.e. dispersion of individual shots vs MPI).

    IOW, the suggested misuse of datums and grids has NOTHING to do with the excessive dispersion observed with USS New Jersey's gunnery off Beirut.

    3. In Lebanon, USS New Jersey indeed used WGS-72 (World Geodetic System 1972) coordinates, while USMC (and US Army ) personnel ashore used 1:50,000 topo maps on ED-50 (European Datum 1950) coordinates. The average shift between WGS-72 and ED-50 is around 175 meters for continental Europe and 200 meters for Lebanon (+ Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria).

    IOW, even if unaccounted for, the difference in geodetic datums for Lebanon(WGS-72 vs ED-50) DOES NOT translate into a difference of 800 meters as Tracy Ralphs suggests.

    4. Since multiple datums are a frequent situation on the battlefield, it is a key priority for the NGLO to make sure that these datums are not being misused and differences are properly accounted for.

    While there may have been some *confusion* at the beginning of USS New Jersey's deployment off Beirut (possibly affecting her first 16-inch mission on 14 December 1983), the suggested theory by which differences in datums remained unaccounted for until 8 February 1984 (i.e. the day when the battleship fired 288 x 16-inch shells and problems with excessive dispersion became obvious) is PURE FANTASY.

    Besides USS New Jersey, it's worth noting that several cruisers, destroyers and frigates provided accurate and effective NGFS with their 5-inch *pop-guns* on many occasions during our intervention in Lebanon.
    Last edited by Shipwreck; 20 Mar 08, at 11:48.

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