Dates in American Naval History: December

December 1

1842 - Execution of three crewmembers of USS Somers for mutiny; Midshipman Philip Spencer, Boatswain Samuel Cromwell and Seaman Elisha Small.
1921 - In first flight of airship filled with helium, Blimp C-7 piloted by LCDR Ralph F. Wood left Norfolk, VA, for Washington, DC.
1959 - Bureau of Ordnance (BUORD) merges with Bureau of Aeronautics (BUAER) to form the Bureau of Naval Weapons (BUWEPS).

December 2

1775 - Congress orders first officers commissions printed.
1908 - Rear Admiral William S. Cowles submits report, prepared by LT George C. Sweet, recommending purchase of aircraft suitable for operating from naval ships on scouting and observation mission to Secretary of the Navy.
1941 - First Naval Armed Guard detachment (7 men under a coxswain) of World War II reports to Liberty ship, SS Dunboyne,
1944 - Two-day destroyer Battle of Ormoc Bay begins.
1965 - USS Enterprise (CVAN-65) and USS Bainbridge (DLGN-25) become first nuclear-powered task unit used in combat operations with launch of air strikes near Bien Hoa, Vietnam

December 3

1775 - LT John Paul Jones raises the Grand Union flag on Alfred. First American flag raised over American naval vessel.
1940 - President Franklin D. Roosevelt embarks on USS Tuscaloosa (CA-37) to inspect bases acquired from Great Britain under Destroyer-for Bases agreement.
1983 - Two F-14s flying over Lebanon were fired upon.

December 4

1918 - President Woodrow Wilson sails in USS George Washington for Paris Peace Conference.
1943 - Aircraft from USS Lexington (CV-16) and USS Independence (CVL-22) attack Kwajalein Atoll, sinking four Japanese ships and damaging five others, while only three U.S. ships suffered damage.
1944 - USS Flasher (SS-249) sinks Japanese destroyer Kishinami and damages a merchant ship in South China Sea. Flasher is only U.S. submarine to sink over 100,000 tons of enemy shipping in World War II.
1965 - Launch of Gemini 7 piloted by CDR James A. Lovell, USN. This flight consisted of 206 orbits at an altitude of 327 km and lasted 13 days and 18 hours. Recovery by HS-11 helicopters from USS Wasp (CVS-18)
1983 - Aircraft from USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67) and USS Independence (CV-62) launch strike against anti-aircraft positions in Lebanon that fired on U.S. aircraft. Two U.S. Navy planes shot down.

December 5

1843 - Launching of USS Michigan at Erie, Penn., America's first iron-hulled warship, as well as first prefabricated ship.
1941 - USS Lexington (CV-2) sails with Task Force 12 to ferry Marine aircraft to Midway, leaving no carriers at Pearl Harbor.

December 6

1830 - Naval Observatory, the first U.S. national observatory, established at Washington, DC, under commander of Lieutenant Louis Malesherbes.
1901 - First report of Ship Model Basin at Washington Navy Yard issued by Naval Constructor David W. Taylor who designed the basin. First facility of this type in U.S. to test hull shapes.
1917 - German submarine torpedoes sink USS Jacob Jones (DD-61) off England.
1968 - Operation Giant Slingshot began in Mekong Delta

December 7

1917 - Four U.S. battleships arrive at Scapa Flow taking on the role of the British Grand Fleet's Sixth Battle Squadron. Include USS Delaware (BB-28), USS Florida (BB-30), New York (BB-34), and USS Wyoming (BB-32).
1941 - Japanese carrier aircraft attack U.S. Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
1944 - Seventh Fleet forces land Army troops on shore of Ormoc Bay. Kamikazes attack Task Force, damaging several U.S. Navy ships.

December 8

1933 - Secretary of the Navy establishes Fleet Marine Force, integrating a ready-to-deploy Marine force with own aircraft into Fleet organization.
1941 - US declares war on Japan.
1941 - USS Wake (PR-3), a river gunboat moored at Shanghai, is only U.S. vessel to surrender during World War II.
1942 - Eight PT boats (PT 36, PT 37, PT 40, PT 43, PT 44, PT 48, PT 59, and PT 109) turn back 8 Japanese destroyers attempting to reinforce Japanese forces on Guadalcanal.

December 9

1938 - Prototype shipboard radar, designed and built by the Naval Research Laboratory, is installed on USS New York (BB-34).
1941 - USS Swordfish (SS-193) makes initial U.S. submarine attack on Japanese ship.
1952 - Strike by aircraft from Task Force 77 destroys munitions factory and rail facilities near Rashin, North Korea

December 10

1941 - Guam surrenders to Japanese.
1941 - Aircraft from USS Enterprise attack and sink Japanese Submarine I-70 north of Hawaiian Islands. A participant in the Pearl Harbor Attack, I-70 is the first Japanese combatant ship sunk during World War II.
1941 - PBY piloted by LT Utter of VP-101 shoots down Japanese ZERO in first Navy air-to-air kill during World War II.
1950 - Evacuation operations at Wonson, North Korea, completed.
1979 - First Poseidon submarine configured with Trident missiles, USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657) completes initial deterrent patrol.
1982 - USS Ohio (SSBN-726), first Trident-Class submarine, returns from first deterrent patrol.

December 11

1941 - Contract establishes the Naval Salvage Service.
1941 - Wake Island Garrison under Commander Winfield Cunningham repulses Japanese invasion force.
1954 - First supercarrier of 59,630 tons, USS Forrestal (CVA-59), launched at Newport News, VA.

December 12

1862 - Confederate torpedo (mine) sinks USS Cairo in Yazoo River.
1937 - Japanese aircraft sink USS Panay in Yangtze River near Nanking, China.
1941 - Naval Air Transport Service is established.
1951 - First flight of helicopter with gas-turbine engine at Windsor Locks, CT, demonstrates adaptability of this engine to helicopters.
1972- Captain Eugene A. Cernan, USN, commander of Apollo 17, walks on the Moon. Commander Ronald E. Evans, USN, was the Command Module Pilot. The mission lasted 12 days, 13 hours and 52 minutes. Recovery by HC-1 helicopters from USS Ticonderoga (CVS-14).

December 13

1775 - Continental Congress provides for the construction of 5 ships of 32 guns, 5 ships of 28 guns, and 3 ships of 24 guns
1941 - Commander William A. Sullivan designated the first Supervisor of Salvage with office in New York City.

December 14

1814 - British squadron captures U.S. gunboats in Battle of Lake Borgne, LA.
1944 - Rank of Fleet Admiral, U.S. Navy (five star admiral) is established.
1945 - Captain Sue S. Dauser receives the first Distinguished Service Medal awarded to a nurse.
1965 - Navy announces completion of 1,272 ft. radio tower at North West Cape, Australia, highest manmade structure in the Southern Hemisphere at that time, as a link in fleet communications.

December 15

1943 - Bureau of Naval Personnel Circular Letter on non-discrimination in Navy V-12 program.
1944 - Congress appoints first three of four Fleet Admirals.
1965 - Launch of Gemini 6 with Captain Walter M. Schirra, Jr., USN, as Command Pilot. The mission included 16 orbits in 25 hours and 51 minutes. Recovery was by HS-11 helicopters from USS Wasp (CVS-18)
1988 - End of Earnest Will convoy operations to escort reflagged tankers in the Persian Gulf.

December 16

1821 - LT Robert F. Stockton and Dr. Eli Ayers, a naval surgeon and member of American Colonizing Society, induce a local African king to sell territory for a colony which became the Republic of Liberia.
1907 - Great White Fleet departs Hampton Roads, VA to circumnavigate the world.
1922 - USS Bainbridge (DD-246) rescues 482 persons from burning French transport Vinh-Long.
1941 - USS Swordfish (SS-193) sinks Japanese cargo ship Atsutasan Maru.
1942 - Pharmacist's Mate First Class Harry B. Roby, USNR, performs an appendectomy on Torpedoman First Class W. R. Jones on board USS Grayback (SS-208). It is the second appendectomy performed on board a submarine.
1998 - In Operation Desert Fox, Navy cruise missiles attack Iraq.

December 17

1846 - Ships under Commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry capture Laguna de Terminos during Mexican War.
1941 - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz named Commander in Chief, US Pacific Fleet, to relieve Admiral Husband Kimmel. Admiral William Pye becomes acting commander until Nimitz's arrival.

December 18

1902 - Admiral of the Navy George Dewey receives orders to send his battleship to Trinidad and then to Venezuela to make sure that Great Britain's and Germany's dispute with Venezuela was settled by peaceful arbitration not force.
1944 - Admiral Halsey's Third Fleet encounters typhoon northeast of Samar. Destroyers USS Hull, USS Monaghan and USS Spence sink, while 21 other ships are damaged.
1965 - River Patrol Force established in Vietnam.
1965 - Helicopters from HS-11 on USS Wasp (CVS-18) pick up crew and capsule of Gemini 7, after picking up the crew and capsule of Gemini 6 two days earlier.
1967 - Operation Preakness II begins in Mekong Delta.
1972 - Mining and bombing of North Vietnam resumes with Linebacker II Operation.

December 19

1870 - After a month at sea in a 22-foot boat, Coxswain William Halford, the lone survivor of 5, reaches Hawaii to seek help for crew of USS Saginaw, wrecked near Midway Island. Rescuers reach the 88 Saginaw survivors on 4 January 1871.

December 20

1822 - Congress authorizes the 14-ship West Indies Squadron to suppress piracy in the Caribbean.
1941 - Admiral Ernest J. King designated Commander-in-Chief, United States Fleet in charge of all operating naval fleets and coastal frontier forces, reporting directly to the President.
1964 - USS Richard E. Kraus (DD-849) completes a successful emergency mission in aiding the disabled American Merchant Ship, SS Oceanic Spray in the Red Sea.
1974 - Clearance of Suez Canal for mines and unexploded ordnance completed by Joint Task Force.
1989 - Operation Just Cause begins in Panama.
1998 - Operation Desert Fox in Iraq ends.

December 21

1861 - Congress authorizes the Medal of Honor, the Nation's highest award, for Naval personnel.
1943 - USS Grayling (SS-208) sinks fourth Japanese ship since 18 December.
1951 - First helicopter landing aboard a hospital ship, USS Consolation.
1968 - Launch of Apollo 8 with Captain James A. Lovell, Jr. as Command Module Pilot. During the mission Lovell was one of the first two people to see the far side of the moon. The mission lasted 6 days and 3 hours, and included 10 moon orbits. Recovery was by HS-4 helicopters from USS Yorktown (CVS-10).

December 22

1775 - Congress commissions first naval officers: Esek Hopkins, Commander in Chief of the Fleet, Captains Dudley Saltonstall, Abraham Whipple, Nicolas Biddle, and John Hopkins. Lieutenants included John Paul Jones.
1841 - Commissioning of USS Mississippi, first U.S. ocean-going side-wheel steam warship, at Philadelphia.
1942 - Pharmacist's Mate First Class Thomas A. Moore performs appendectomy on Fireman Second Class George M. Platter on board USS Silversides (SS-236).
1942 - Sue Dauser takes oath of office as Superintendant of Navy Nurse Corps, becoming first woman with the relative rank of captain in U.S. Navy. She was promoted to the rank of captain on 26 February 1944.
1944 - Commissioning of first 2 African-American WAVES officers, Harriet Ida Pickens and Frances F. Wills.
1960 - HS-3 and HU-2 (USS Valley Forge) helicopters rescue 27 men from oiler SS Pine Ridge breaking up in heavy seas off Cape Hatteras.

December 23

1826 - Captain Thomas ap Catesby Jones of USS Peacock and King Kamehameha negotiate first treaty between Hawaii and a foreign power.
1910 - LT Theodore G. Ellyson becomes first naval officer sent to flight training.
1941 - Gallant defenders of Wake Island (Sailors, Marines, volunteer civilian contractors, and Army Air Force radio detachment) surrender.

December 24

1814 - Treaty of Ghent ends the War of 1812.
1864 - Naval Forces under Rear Admiral David Dixon Porter with Army forces under Major General Benjamin F. Butler begin unsuccessful two-day attack against Fort Fisher, NC.
1950 - Under cover of naval gunfire support, Task Force 90 completes a 14-day evacuation of 100,000 troops and equipment and 91,000 refugees from Hungnam, North Korea.

December 25

1941 - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz arrives at Pearl Harbor to assume command of U.S. Pacific Fleet.

December 26

1862 - Four nuns who were volunteer nurses on board Red Rover were the first female nurses on a U.S. Navy hospital ship.
1943 - Seventh Amphibious Force lands 1st Marine Division on Cape Gloucester, New Britain.

December 27

1777 - Floating mines intended for use against British Fleet found in Delaware River.
1814 - Destruction of schooner Carolina, the last of Commodore Daniel Patterson's make-shift fleet that fought a series of delaying actions that contributed to Andrew Jackson's victory at the Battle of New Orleans. After loss of craft, the naval guns were mounted on shore to continue the fight.

December 28

1867 - U.S. claims Midway Island, first territory annexed outside Continental limits.
1905 - Drydock Dewey left Solomon's Island, MD, enroute through the Suez Canal to the Philippines to serve as repair base. This, the longest towing job ever accomplished, was completed by Brutus, Caesar, and Glacier on 10 July 1906.
1941 - Chief of Bureau of Yards and Docks requests that construction battalions be recruited.
1982 - Recommissioning of USS New Jersey (BB-62), the first of four Iowa-class battleships that were returned to service in 1980s.
1990 - LCDR Darlene M. Iskra becomes commander of USS Opportune, a salvage vessel.
1990 - USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and USS America (CV-66) Carrier Battle Groups deploy from Norfolk, VA, for Middle East to join Operation Desert Shield.

December 29

1798 - First annual report by Secretary of the Navy, sent by Benjamin Stoddert.
1812 - USS Constitution (Captain William Bainbridge) captures HMS Java off Brazil after a three hour battle.
1943 - USS Silversides (SS-236) sinks three Japanese ships and damages a fourth off Palau.

December 30

1941 - Admiral Ernest J. King assumes duty as Commander in Chief, United States Fleet.
1959 - Commissioning of first fleet ballistic missile submarine, USS George Washington (SSB(N)-598), at Groton, CT.

December 31

1862 - USS Monitor founders in a storm off Cape Hatteras, NC.
1941 - Admiral Chester W. Nimitz assumes command of U.S. Pacific Fleet.
1942 - Commissioning of USS Essex (CV-9), first of new class of aircraft carriers, at Norfolk, VA
1948 - Last annual report by a Secretary of the Navy to Congress and the President filed by SECNAV John L. Sullivan. Thereafter the Secretary of Defense would report annually to Congress.


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