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21 of the Deadliest Warships The World Has Ever Seen

Cynthia Brooke

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The Industrial Age of naval warfare did away with the varied craftsmanship of different shipyards, and introduced the idea of warship “classes.” A “class” refers to a series of vessels constructed to the same design specifications – a feat which was unimaginable before the Industrial Revolution. Read on to learn about 21 of the most lethal warship classes that have sailed the seas since then.

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1. Turtle, Colonial America – The Turtle was the world’s first submersible with a documented use in military combat: during the REVOLUTIONARY WAR! She was built in 1775 (!), to be used for attaching explosive charges to harbored ships, specifically British Royal Navy vessels in North American Harbors during the war. President George Washington was doubtful of the submersible’s abilities when he saw the sketches, he provided funding for its building and testing. Unfortunately, all attempts to use the Turtle to attach explosive to the bottoms of British warships failed. She sank, and although claims of finding the Turtle were made, her final whereabouts are unknown. Several replicas can be found in museums worldwide, such as the Connecticut River Museum.

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2. H. L. Hunley, Confederate States of America – This Civil-War era vessel was the first combat submarine that succeeded at what it was designed for: sinking a warship. Its barbed spar torpedoe was embedded into the hull of the Union Army’s USS Housatonic, and was detonated, sending the ship and and five of her crewmen to the bottom of the sea five miles offshore of Charleston. The H. L. Hunley itself sunk three times in her short career, taking 21 Confederate crewmen with her in all. She finally sank for good in 1864, after downing the Housatonic. She remained at the bottom somewhere in Charleston’s outer harbor until finally being raised in 1995. The H. L. Hunley is now on display at the Warren Lasch Conservation Center on the Cooper River in North Charleston, South Carolina.

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3. Type U 31 Class Submarine, Imperial Germany – In the first year of World War I, or 1917, Germany decided that submarines needed to be used for naval warfare. Previously, the invention’s purpose was uncertain; but Imperial Germany put them to work in an attempt to drive the United Kingdom from the war. Eleven of the U-31s were built between 1912 and 1915. Each displaced 800 tons and had four 20-inch torpedo tubes – two fitted into the bow, two into the stern. Most vessels also had one or two 3.5 inch deck guns, later replaced by 4.1 inch guns. Type U 27 came before this class, and Type U 43 came after.

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4. Kagero Class Destroyer, Imperial Japan – The Imperial Japanese Navy introduced the Kagero class of warships in 1941. The Kageros, eighteen in all, each had three twin turrets, holding 6 5-inch guns total. This was better gun power than all but France’s destroyers, which weren’t found in the Pacific, anyway. A Kagero’s torpedoes – called “Long Lances” or Type 93s – could go as far as 40,000 yards! Only one Tagero, Yukikaze, survived World War II. She took Chiang Kai Shek to Taiwan near the end of the Chinese Civil War, defended Taiwan from the Chinese. and finally was scrapped in 1970 after getting run aground.

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5. Town Class Cruiser, United Kingdom – The Town Class Cruisers served in all important battles of World War II. Fighting for the British Royal Navy, each light cruiser had twelve six-inch guns, and displaced 12,000 tons. There were ten ships in the class total. The Town Class was divided into three sub-classes, with each sub-class adding on more weaponry: the Southampton, Gloucester, and Edinburgh classes. The vessels were designated as light cruisers by specifications set forth in the London Treaty. In World War II, the Town Class saw lots of infamous fighting action, such as the sinking of the German battleship Scharnhorst. Four Town Class ships were sunk in World War II; the remaining vessel fought in the Korean War. The ships were rebuilt heavily after the Second World War, and again after the Korean War. One Town Class, the HMS Belfast, has been a museum ship (part of the Imperial War Museum) moored on the Thames River near Tower Bridge since 1971.

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6. Zumwalt-Class Destroyer, United States – The newest class of guided missile destroyers in the U.S. Navy, the Zumwalt-class had been born in response to the decline of America’s relations with Russia of late. There are three of them, intended for naval gunfire support. These are “stealth” ships – the first for the U.S. Navy – whose angled, flat features were designed to reduce detection by radar. Don’t think that “stealth” equals “small,” however: at displacement of 14,000 tons and 610 feet long, they are the largest destroyers in U.S. Navy history. Yet, they have the radar signature of a small fishing unit!

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7. Kirov Battlecruiser, Russia – What are the Zumwalts up against? The Russian opponent is the Kirov, which has been around since the 1980s. They are nearly as long as the biggest World War II battleships from any nation, but weigh far less, at only 24 thousand tons. They can make speed of up to 32 knots – 2 knots more than the U.S.’s Zumwalts. Each Kirov carries 20 huge P-700 Granit anti-ship missiles.

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8. Virginia Class Submarine, United States – This submarine, introduced to the U.S. Navy in summer 2015, is seven thousand eight hundred tons, 337 feet long, and cost $2 billion. It has 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles, and two MK48 torpedoes on each side. It’s made to keep approximately 135 sailors out at sea for long periods of time. Virginia Class vessels are replacing the older Los Angeles class submarines (see number 10,) and are expected to stay in service past 2060 (some may last through 2070, having a slightly different, updated design.) Each submarine is expected to make fourteen to fifteen deployments during its thirty-three year service life.

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9. Seawolf Class, United States – Only three Seawolf Class vessels were built; they are the predecessor to the John Warners, and they cost twice as much! They are the second most expensive submarine class ever commissioned, after France’s SSBN Triumphant class, at $3 billion apiece. There originally were meant to be 29 Seawolfs built, but that number dropped down to 12, and then 3, as the Cold War came to a close.

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10. Los Angeles Class, United States – Also known as the 688 class, these vessels debuted in the U.S. Navy in 1976. 36 of the original class are still in service, but are nearing the end of the designated lifespan they were made for. 26 are already retired, having been laid up halfway through their projected service term because their midlife reactor refuelings were canceled.

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11. Triomphant Class, France – The most expensive submarine class ever built, the Triomphant class cost $4 billion each to build. There are four of them. They entered service in 1997, 1999, 2004, and 2010, respectively. Each vessel carries 16 M45 SLBM or M51 SLBM Missiles, with sixteen submarine launched ballistic missile launching tubes. The home port for these submarines is Ile Longue, Brest, in Western Brittany.

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12. Essex Class Aircraft Carrier, United States – USS Essex entered into service with the United States Navy in December 1942, during World War II. 24 of the ships were built in total. Each Essex displaced twenty eight thousand tons, and could carry 90 aircraft units. The offensive carry load was known as the “Sunday Punch”: 36 human fighters, 36 dive bombers, and 18 torpedoe bombers. There were long hull and short hull versions. Thirty-two of the ships were originally commissioned, but as World War II began winding down, 8 were canceled – two after construction had already begun on them. The USS Essexs continued to be the heart of the US Navy until the the 1970s. Many of them were used actively in the Cold War and Korean War. They were used in the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the Cuban Missile Crisis, as well as Quemoy and the Cuban Missile Crisis.

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13. Queen Elizabeth Class Battleship, United Kingdom – The five Queen Elizabeths fought for Britain in both World Wars. These were the very first battleships to be armed with 15-inch guns. Three of them were majorly renovated and “modernized” (for the time) before entering the Second World War. By 1948, all of the Queen Elizabeths had been broken up in battle.

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14. Forel, Russia – A midget submarine, meaning its weight is under one hundred fifty tons, the Forel was originally built experimentally as a private venture by a German, who hoped to attract a contract from the German Imperial Navy. The German navy was unimpressed … but the Imperial Russian Navy purchased the Forel in 1904. Intended for use in the Russo-Japanese War, Forel was never used in combat, but its acknowledged presence had a psychological effect on the enemy. It had two Whitehead Torpedoes.

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15. SM U 20, Imperial Germany – The SM U-20, a Type U 19 vessel, changed the course of WWI dramatically by sinking the British ocean liner RMS Lusitania in 1915. There were 1,198 casualties. In its one and a half years of service, this class sunk approximately 35 enemy warships.

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16. Chang Bogo Class, South Korea – This is a South Korean update of the Type 209 German diesel-electric attack submarines, the original version of which were designed by the German Navy in the ’60s. Versions of the Type 209 have successfully been exported to 13 countries. The South Korean variant is particularly notable, because South Korea freaks out much of the rest of the world. South Korea is the only other country besides Germany currently offering Type 209s for sale to other countries.

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17. Prestonian Class Ocean Anti-Submarine Escort Frigate, Canada and Norway – These frigates were converted from River-class frigates of British design that were placed on mothballs at the end of World War II. The 21-vessel class served with the Royal Canadian Navy between 1953 and 1957, and with the Royal Norwegian Navy from 1956-1957.

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18. Littorio Class Battleship, Italy – Three of the four battleships in this class were completed in time to serve in the Regia Marina, the Italian Navy. Each ship’s main battery comprised nine 381 mm L/50 Ansaldo 1934 guns, within three triple turrets. Their secondary battery consisted of twelve 6 inch L/55 Ansaldo Model 1934 guns within four triple turrets.

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19. Minas Geraes Class Battleship, Brazil – These two battleships were built for the Brazilian Nvzy early on in the twentieth century. Completed in 1910, they instigated a South American naval arms race. They helped crewmen demand the abolition of corporal punishment in Brazil’s Navy, assisted the squandering of a revolt at Fort Copacabana, and served as harbor defense ships in Salvador and Recife during WWII (as they were too old to fight actively by then.)

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20. Espana Class, Spain – These were three dreadnought battleships (the predominant type of battleship in the early 20th century) that the Spanish Navy built between 1909 and 1921. The two ships that remained after the Rif War, in which they supported Spanish ground forces in North Africa, ended up fighting on opposite sides of the Spanish Civil War, and were destroyed doing so (both in 1937.)

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21. Evstafi Class Battleship, Imperial Russia – This pair of pre-dreadnought battleships were in service for the Imperial Russian Navy between 1911 and 1918. They were 379 feet long at the waterline, and had two pairs of 12-inch 40-calibre Pattern 1895 guns, four eight-inch 50-calibre 1905 guns, 12 6-inch 1892 45-caliber guns, 14 3-inch Canet Pattern 1892 50-calibre guns, and two 17.7-inch torpedo tubes….Whoa. The class fought in World War I.

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History

A Recovered 1930s Interview Tells The Story Of The Surviving Slavery

Brooke Hurbert

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Many avid readers enjoy a good book by Zora Neale Hurston. What they may not know about her is that her talents ran much deeper than writing. Unbeknownst to many, she tracked down a man with an extraordinary story to tell. She found not just any man, but the last one that survived being held captive on a ship filled with slaves being transported from Africa to the U.S. 

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Not only did Hurston find this man, she thoroughly interviewed him as well. Unfortunately, she was not able to put the interview into book form, despite her best efforts. It wasn’t until 2018 that the interview was finally published in the form of a book titled Barracoon: The Story of The Last “Black Cargo.” With the release of Hurston’s book many longtime unanswered questions were suddenly answered. 

Barracoon tells the story of a man born with the name Kossula, which later became Cudjo Lewis.  When he was born he lived in Benin, a country in West Africa. At the age of 19 he was kidnapped by the Dahomian tribe. Against his will he was moved to the coast and sold as a slave, along with approximately another 120 men. He and the other slaves were forced to reside on the Clotilda, a slave ship which would take them from their home country to America.

In 1860 the ship arrived in Alabama with all captured slaves on board.  Despite the declaration in the U.S. that slavery was legal, bringing slaves in from other countries was illegal. The ship arrived in Alabama during overnight hours. They were then confined to an area swamp for a matter of days. For fear of being caught, the kidnappers set the ship on fire. There is a distinct possibility that the remains of the ship were found in early 2018. 

Those that read the book will get a firsthand view of the ordeal through Lewis’s eyes. Throughout the book, Lewis expresses how it felt to be sold into slavery against his will. He talks about how even though his fellow slaves lived together on the ship, they were separated once they reached Alabama. Readers experience the pain of the ordeal right along with him. 

Lewis talks about how he struggled with being placed on a plantation he felt out of place in. Due to language barriers, he and the plantation workers could not effectively communicate. The frustration Lewis experienced during that time is evident throughout the story. He also shares with Hurston that the Civil War had started and he’d had no idea at the time. He later gained knowledge that the point of the war was to free him and his fellow slaves. 

Following Robert E. Lee’s April 1865 surrender, Lewis told Hurston that Union soldiers came to the boat he was working on. They then delivered the news that the slaves had finally be freed . Not content to return to his prior life, Lewis and his fellow freed slaves teamed up to purchase land in Alabama. Located near Mobile, the men transformed the land they christened Africatown. 

Though Hurston faced controversy for her handling of the book’s subject matter, she kept the book intact. Much of the book took Lewis’s exact words and put them on paper. At the time she was trying to get it published, this prevented her from being able to do so. As her readers know, Hurston was known for her controversial views on anthropology and not shying away from dialogue considered vernacular. Much of that is evident in this book. 

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History

When Trucking Leads to Change

Anjali DeSimone

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The United States decision to resupply the Israeli military marked the beginning of a national crisis. In response to this decision, Arab members of the OPEC banned exports of petroleum to the United States and other supporting countries of Israel. Subsequently, oil prices quadrupled, and the economy begin to suffer. One of the people affected by this crisis was JW Edwards, A meat truck driver from Overland Park, Kansas. In an attempt to financially survive the crisis, Edwards and other truck drivers made up code names to let each other know where to find diesel fuel; however, this this did not last very long, as many gas stations did not supply enough diesel to meet trucker demand.   No gas meant no deliveries, and no deliveries meant no money. Not only was there no gas, but there had been talk of changing the maximum speed limit to fifty-five miles per hour. Edwards knew that if this continued for too long, he would be forced out of business. “I had to take things into my own hands.” he said. “My family was depending on me.” 

On the night of December 3rd, while passing through Blakeslee, Pennsylvania Edwards ran out of gas in the middle of the interstate. He had had enough. He picked up his CB radio and invited other nearby truckers to come block the interstate in protest.

When John Robinson, a local trucker from Pittsburgh Pennsylvania heard Edwards on the radio, he headed that way to show his support. Robinson knew and understood Edwards’ frustration all to well as he and his family were also feeling the affects of the oil crisis. He had been in the trucking business for thirty years, hauling lumber from state to state. Not only was this his families only source of income, but at the time, his wife had recently given birth to their fourth child. “Some nights he would come home and not say nothing,” remembers Mrs. Robinson. “I knew that he was worried, but I trusted that he would figure it out.”

The protest stretched nearly twelve miles, causing a standstill for nearly one thousand vehicles. It wasn’t long before truckers in other states followed the lead. The protest caught national attention, and although some state leaders promised changed, gas prices continued to rise. Since the protest had begun, food shortages were on the rise and the economy was a mess due to the over 100,00 people who were now unemployed.

It wasn’t until a group of six truckers from the Independent Driving Association decided to come together to speak with government officials that things begin to get better. Government officials agreed to ensure that the truck stops had enough diesel fuel to meet the demands of the truckers. They also worked together to appeal the decision to decrease the maximum speed limit.

In March of 1974, approximately six months after it had all started the embargo ended.  Negotiations between Israel and Syria were finalized. The affects of the crisis however, including the high fuel prices, lasted  throughout the 1970s.  

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History

The Start of the U.S. Oil Industry: A Gusher on This Day in 1901

Anjali DeSimone

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More than 100 years ago on this very day, the United States’s Oil Industry was born. In 1901, a derrick was drilling just outside of Beaumont, Texas on Spindletop Hill. During this process, a large amount of crude oil began gushing out of the ground, billowing into the air. It coated the landscape in all directions for hundreds of feet. With this celebratory burst, the oil industry was born. This oil geyser was buried about 1,000 feet underground and began putting out 100,000 barrels per day. It took more than a week for the workers to regain control of the situation. From this oil, the refineries got their start. Petroleum, which had been used as a lubricant in the past, started to be used for gas. This gasoline would go on to power numerous modes of transportation including trains, ships, cars, and planes.

What is Crude Oil?

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From this geyser, often termed “black gold,” crude oil would become the first industry in the world to be valued at more than one trillion dollars. This valuable liquid is a mixture of a variety of hydrocarbon molecules and compounds. It is trapped deep underneath the surface of the earth in rocks. This liquid forms over the course of millions of years. During this time, small plants and animals died and settled on the bottom of various waterways. As this material was buried and placed under a large amount of pressure, it began to heat up. Then, it melted into a liquid that became the petroleum we know as crude oil today.

The Rise of the Crude Oil Industry

The search for crude oil began decades prior to this first geyser. During the 1890s, a geologist and businessman from Texas named Patillo Higgins believed that there was oil underneath the hill outside of Beaumont. He gathered up several business partners and founded a business that set out drilling throughout the area looking for this black gold. He named his company the Gladys City Oil, Gas, & Manufacturing Company. Although his company had made a variety of unsuccessful drilling attempts, he was persistent. Just before 1900, Higgins leased a small amount of land on Spindletop to an engineer in the mining industry named Anthony Lucas. On January 10, 1901, Lucas hit his mark and the liquid billowed into the air.  Although at this point Higgins had surrendered his stake in the business, he had made his mark on history.

Rapid Growth for the Crude Oil Industry

Thanks to the discovery, Beaumont exploded. It became known as a boomtown thanks to the discovery of crude oil and the business that came with it. During the three months after the discovery by Lucas and Higgins, the population of the small town would triple. There were all sorts of people flooding the town ranging from merchants, oil workers, engineers, investors, and even con men. The con and scam problems became so bad that many people nicknamed the hill Swindletop. By 1902, there were close to 300 wells that were active on that fateful hill that were being run by more than 500 companies specializing in oil. Many of these companies are still active today including Exxon (called Humble), Texaco (called the Texas Company), and Mobil (called the Magnolia Petroleum Company). Spindletop would go on to experience a handful of booms as more and more oil was discovered. A second discovery took place in the 1920s and then a sulfur discovery gave rise to another boom in the 1950s. By this time, only a few scattered oil wells are still active in the Spindletop area.

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