Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Sir Peter Parker

(1721–December 21, 1811)

English Admiral

Parker is best remembered for commanding the ill-fated expedition against Charleston, South Carolina, in 1776. Intensely brave and a fine sailor, he overcame this defeat to serve as Admiral of the Fleet and was a patron of the famous Horatio Nelson. 

Peter Parker was born probably in Ireland in 1721, the son of Adm. Christopher Parker. After serving several years aboard ships as a cabin boy, he followed his father into the naval profession by becoming a lieutenant in 1741. Parker then served with a succession of warships in the Mediterranean and elsewhere, rising to captain in 1747. His first command, the small frigate HMS Margate, returned to the Mediterranean for two years before sailing home at the conclusion of the War of the Austrian Succession in 1749. Parker was subsequently placed on half-pay and stationed ashore until 1755, when he directed construction of the HMS Woolwich at Bristol. He then conducted that vessel on several successful cruises before returning to half-pay status at the end of the Seven Years' War in 1763. Parker spent the next decade ashore, receiving a knighthood but scarcely any employment. In 1773, he was placed at the helm of the 50-gun vessel HMS Bristol and, three years later, received control of a small naval squadron with the rank of commodore. Parker then departed England for service in American waters during the Revolutionary War. 

In February 1776, Parker sailed from Plymouth en route to North Carolina. He conveyed seven army regiments as reinforcements for Gen. Henry Clinton, with whom he would rendezvous off the Carolina coast. Bad weather interrupted his journey for several weeks, and it was not until May 1776 that his squadron reached its destination. Parker and Clinton united for the purpose of landing and establishing a safe haven for numerous Loyalist sympathizers in the region. These forces were supposed to secure a landing zone for the fleet in advance, but in the wake of their defeat at Moore's Creek Bridge, this proved impractical. Parker and Clinton then decided to hit a secondary target, the South Carolina capital of Charleston, which was rumored to be lightly defended. Its seizure would facilitate the reconquest of the South and serve as a rallying point for thousands of Loyalists. 

Charleston was, in fact, imperfectly defended. Its major fortification was a small fort on Sullivan's Island in the harbor, commanded by Col. William Moultrie. He directed a small garrison of 26 guns and 430 men. Another 600 riflemen were stationed at either end of the island. The fort itself was only half-finished, being covered with sand and newly sawed palmetto logs. Based on initial appearances, Sullivan's Island did not appear capable of putting up much resistance. Parker and Sullivan certainly concurred when they anchored off Charleston on June 1, 1776. The British armada consisted of nine warships carrying 280 guns, as well as an invasion force of 2,500 soldiers. However, the British lacked navigation charts, and nearly four weeks lapsed before soundings could be taken and the battle commenced. The Americans put this respite to good use by shoring up Sullivan's Island, awaiting the inevitable onslaught. 

On the morning of June 28, 1776, Parker's squadron entered the harbor and expertly assumed bombardment positions. The fleet then ladled the American position with a heavy concentration of solid shot and exploding mortar balls. Much to the surprise of both sides, little damage was inflicted upon Moultrie's fort. The sand embankment absorbed much of the exploding shells while the spongy wood of the palmetto logs did the same to the round shot. By comparison, Moultrie's gunners kept up a steady stream of heated balls at Parker's vessels, damaging several. One round cut the cable of Parker's flagship, and it drifted around, permitting a raking fire. Numerous shots killed and wounded virtually everybody on the quarterdeck while the crew worked furiously to right the vessel. Parker himself had a very close call when a red-hot ball tore most of his clothes off, burning him. Clinton, meanwhile, tried to land boatloads of troops on the island, but he was repulsed by the riflemen. 

Worse, three frigates were grounded, and one, the HMS Acteon, became lodged and had to be burned. After a lopsided engagement of 10 hours, the twice-wounded Parker finally conceded defeat and withdrew. British casualties numbered upward of 250 men; the Americans sustained just 12 killed and 25 wounded. The defeat at Charleston, minor in military terms, subsequently became a tremendous symbolic victory, a rallying point for the entire nation. 

Parker's squadron limped back to New York, where it joined forces with Adm. Richard Howe. In this capacity he participated in the landing of British troops on Long Island in August 1776, which resulted in the American abandonment of New York City and vicinity. That December, Parker conveyed Clinton on another expedition against Newport, Rhode Island, which was quickly seized. He remained on station there for several months, until the rank of rear admiral was conferred on April 28, 1777. The following June he gained appointment as commander in chief of Jamaica, and two years later he was promoted to vice admiral. Parker ventured back to England in 1782, conveying the captured French Admiral de Grasse and several of his officers. For his Revolutionary War services he was made a baron. Parker remained in the service for many years thereafter, rising to admiral in 1787 and also serving as commander in chief of Portsmouth Harbor in 1793. There he struck up a cordial relationship with a young naval lieutenant, Horatio Nelson, the future victor of Trafalgar, and facilitated his early career. Parker was one of the foremost mourners at Nelson's state funeral in 1805. By the time Parker died in London on December 21, 1811, he had been elevated to Admiral of the Fleet following the death of Lord Howe. Parker's unfortunate defeat off Charleston was but a minor episode in a long and distinguished naval career, but it is the incident for which he is best remembered in America.

Bibliography Bearss, Edwin C. The Battle of Sullivan's Island and the Capture of Fort Moultrie. Washington, DC: Division of History, Office of Archaeology and Historic Preservation, U. S. Dept. of the Interior, 1968; Farley, M. Foster. "Battering Charleston's Walls." Military History no. 6 (2000): 38-45; Ireland, Bernard. Naval Warfare in the Age of Sail. New York: Norton, 2000; Lambert, Andrew. War at Sea in the Age of Sail: 1650-1850. London: Cassell, 2000; Miller, Nathan. The Age of Fighting Sail, 1775-1815. New York: Wiley, 2000; Ralfe, James. The Naval Biography of Great Britain. Boston: Gregg Press, 1972; Reid, Ronald D. "The Battle of Sullivan's Island." American History 33, no. 5 (1998): 34-39, 70-72; Stokely, Jim. Fort Moultrie: Constant Defender. Washington, DC: National Park Service, 1985; Syrett, David. The Royal Navy in American Waters During the Revolutionary War. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1998; Tilley, John A. The British Navy in the American Revolution. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987; Tracy, Nicholas. Navies, Deterrence, and American Independence: Britain and Seapower in the 1760s and 1770s. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1988.

NUSHIP Canberra, Australia’s massive new warship

The Canberra Class Amphibious Assault Ship (LHD), also known as a Landing Helicopter Dock, project will provide the Australian Defence Force with one of the most capable and sophisticated air-land-sea amphibious deployment systems in the world.

These 27,000 tonne ships will be able to land a force of over 2,000 personnel by helicopter and water craft, along with all their weapons, ammunition, vehicles and stores.

The largest ships ever built for the Royal Australian Navy, the LHDs are being built as a collaboration between Navantia and BAE Systems - Maritime.

The construction is being done using the modular approach whereby the ship is divided into modules, which are built and fitted out as discrete units, before being welded together to form the completed ship. This allows the ship to be built at a number of different sites across the shipyard before being brought together for final joining.

Construction of the hull to the level of the flight deck, including the majority of fitting out will be undertaken at Navantia's Ferrol-Fene shipyard in north-west Spain. The hull will then be shipped to BAES' Williamstown shipyard in Victoria for the installation of the island structure. The island modules will be constructed at a number of sites around Australian before being moved to Williamstown for final installation on the flight deck.

The ship's roles are to:
    embark, transport and deploy an embarked force (Army in the case of the ADF but could equally be an allied Army or Marines), along with their equipment and aviation units, and
    carry out/support humanitarian missions.

Therefore the requirement is for a multipurpose ship able to operate in both these roles, but not necessarily simultaneously, owing to the differing configuration requirements.

The first LHD, named HMAS Canberra, is due to be commissioned in 2014 and the second ship, HMAS Adelaide, is planned to commission in 2016.

The ship is a conventional steel mono hull design with the superstructure located on the starboard side of the flight deck. There are four main decks: the Well Dock and Heavy Vehicle Deck for heavy vehicles and/or cargo; Main Accommodation Deck, including the Primary Casualty Reception Facility (PCRF); Hangar and Light Vehicle Deck for light weight vehicles and cargo; and the Flight Deck.

The LHD has been designed with the shallowest possible draft to allow her to operate in secondary ports and harbours as well as manoeuvre tactically in the shallow waters common in the littoral regions. Maximum speed is in excess of 20kn with a range of 6,000nm, a sustained maximum speed of 19kn under full-load conditions and an economic cruising speed of 15kn with a range of 9,000nm. She can also reverse with full directional control at up to 8kn.

The LHD has a stern ramp/door that provides access to the well dock for landing craft and vehicles along with a fixed ramp (steel beach) between the well dock and the heavy vehicle/cargo deck (1,410m2). Additionally two lateral ramp doors are located on the starboard side and provide wharf access to the heavy vehicle/cargo deck for vehicles up to 65T. Vehicular access between the heavy and light vehicle decks is achieved via a fixed ramp located on the port side.

The well dock is 69.3m long and 16.8m wide (1,165m2) and the LHD will normally carry four LCM 1E. An additional four RHIBs can be carried behind the LCM 1Es, however this will be mission dependant rather than a normal load out. The well dock has been designed to handle water craft of allied nations, including LCUs, amphibious vehicles and LCACs.

The main accommodation deck is located above the well dock and heavy vehicle/cargo deck and includes crew accommodation, mess decks, medical spaces, galley facilities, office spaces, and recreation rooms. Accommodation is provided for 1400 personnel; approximately 400 ship’s company including the watercraft and flight deck crews and 1000 embarked force personnel including the PCRF, embarked flight, HQ staff and landing force. The LHD will be jointly crewed with personnel from Navy, Army and the Air Force forming the ship’s company.

The LHD's flight deck is 202.3m long and 32m wide (4750m2), allowing the ship to operate a range of ADF rotary wing aircraft including:
    MRH90 helicopter
    CH-47 Chinook helicopter
    Blackhawk helicopter
    S-70B-2 Seahawk
    Armed Reconnaisance Helicopter
    Romeo Seahawk

The flight deck has been configured with six spots on the port side for medium sized aircraft such as the NRH 90 or Blackhawk, which allows for simultaneous takeoff and landing operations; alternatively it can support simultaneous takeoff and landing operations of four CH-47 Chinooks.
There are two aircraft elevators – one aft of the flight deck and one fwd of the island on the stbd side - that can accommodate medium sized helicopters, with the after one able to accommodate larger helicopters such as CH 47. Both aircraft elevators service the hangar and light vehicle/cargo deck and the fwd elevator is dual-roled for stores and personnel.

Between the flight deck and the accommodation deck is a contiguous hangar and light vehicle deck; the hanger (990m2) occupying the after section of the deck whilst the light vehicle deck (1880m2) is located on the forward section of the deck. The hanger can accommodate up to 8 medium sized helicopters with 18 medium sized helicopters able to be accommodated if the light vehicle deck is also used.

There is a cargo lift that can be used to transfer 20-foot ISO containers and vehicles up to a weight of 16 tonnes between the heavy and light vehicle decks. There are also lifts for ammunition, provisions and casualties. Up to 110 vehicles, depending on the size and configuration, can be loaded across the two vehicles decks.

The Command and Control (C2) and Combat Systems will consist of:
    Combat Management System
    Extensive ICT infrastructure to support the ADF’s Command Support Systems and provide C2 capability for the embarked force
    3D Air Search Radar
    Helicopter Control and Surface Radar
    Navigation Radar
    IFF capability, including Mode S
    ESM/ECM Suite
    Integrated communications system (internal and external), including a Message Handling System, Link 11 and 16, civil and military Satellite Communications
    Electro Optical and IR surveillance systems
    Integrated Navigation System, including an integrated bridge, navigation sensors, AIS and WECDIS.
The LHD will be fitted with a number of defensive systems including:
    Anti-Torpedo Towed Defense System (Nixie)
    Four 20 mm automated guns
    6 x 12.7 mm machine guns
    Active missile decoy system – Nulka (weight and space reserve)

Major Statistics
    Length Overall 230.82m
    Moulded Beam 32.00m
    Beam Waterline 29.50m
    Flight Deck height 27.50m
    Draft at Full Load Displacement 7.08m
    Full Load Displacement 27,500 tonnes
The LHD utilises an electric drive system similar to that used by major cruise companies such as Cunard. The propulsion/generating plant includes the following main elements:
    One gas turbine (LM 2500) turbo generator of 19,160kW
    Two MAN 16V32/40 diesel generators of 7,448 kW each
    Two Siemens azimuth POD units of 11.0 MW each fitted with two propellers of approx 4.5m diameter
    Two bow thrusters of 1,500kW each
    One Progener-Mitsubishi S16MPTA emergency diesel generator of 1,350kW