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The Debut of the USS Honolulu

Mark De Antonios's USS Brooklyn in a very bad position, between the enemy with
David Asman's DKM Z-43 (foreground) and John Riese's TCG Yavuz closing in.

My first fight on the water with my first ship, the USS Honolulu, only lasted about 5 to 10 minutes. That's the sad story; in a nutshell. After taking about a year to build her, the story of her first battle was simply over all too quickly. But it's not all a sob story. Right now she is being refitted based on what I learned during that single sortie. I had hoped to have her go out for a couple of sorties but it was just not meant to be as unfortunately, due to a construction goof, she only saw one sortie as her radio box completely flooded during her sink. Enough crying over spilt milk (please, no comments from you warship veterans). I'm a United States Navy veteran so please forgive some slight embellishments (i.e.; out & out fabrications) to this tale.

January 12th started out as a typical cold (65o F) but clear Southern California Winter day. I got the recently finished USS Honolulu loaded into Larry's truck as Larry, Richard and I were carpooling to Irvine Lake in Orange, CA for the day of battling. The trip was uneventful and nothing of note happened until we got lakeside. We pulled out the folding table and the extra chairs and got set up for the last minute tweaks 'n' peeks that always proceed a battle.

For the record, the cast of characters present for this event included the following (in alphabetical order):

  • Mike Aono - Acting as CD for this friendly little slugging match.
  • David Asman - Driving the very hard to hit DKM Z-43 fully decked out in her beautiful camouflage.
  • Mark De Antonio - Driving Honolulu's sister ship, the USS Brooklyn.
  • Joe Dworniczak - Who brought the SMS Von der Tann for some sea trials.
  • Brian Eliassen - Driving his USS South Dakota.
  • John Flores - Who had temporary helm for the day of Mike Aono's SMS Moltke.
  • Dana Graham - Driving his beloved submarine HMS Prince of Wales (old joke here).
  • Daniel Louwsma - Driving the USS Honolulu in her first fire-fight.
  • Richard Post - Watching from the sidelines as his Scharnhorst is not yet ready.
  • John Riese - DRIVING the TCG Yavuz instead of little Mikey doing the RAMMING (another old joke).
  • Ty Siouxpancic - Helming the HMS Inflexible and prospective Honolulu 'diner'.
  • Larry Young - Watching from the sidelines.
Ty Siouxpancic's HMS Inflexible without all the holes.

We also had another visitor. As luck would have it, Gregg Christopher was visiting local family and noticed SCRAP was having a battle on the weekend he was planning on being in town. "What's so unusual about that" you say? Well, Gregg has only been able to view the hobby from the Internet and this was his first chance in three years to see a battle in person. You see, there isn't a MWC chapter up in Alaska. Yep, I said Alaska! School is keeping him busy but when he graduates next year, where ever he ends up, he'll be joining the hobby. Excellent news indeed.

Joe Dworniczak brought out the SMS Von der Tann to get some sea trials done on the pond. His pump wasn't working properly and no cannons were installed in his ship so he wasn't quite ready for combat. Nice looking ship though and it makes me want to build the SMS Seydlitz that much more. Funny thing is that while at the lake I misidentified the VdT as a Russian Gangut-class battleship from a distance. Hmm, time for me to hit the ship recognition courses again. After all, I wouldn't want to hit a South Dakota thinking it was a Bismarck!

Ty Siouxpancic's HMS Inflexible after a day of battling.
Note: Not all of those dark spots are portholes.

Meanwhile, I got Honolulu on the table for final testing and inspection. After a quick test at lakeside, I was satisfied that her cannons were up and running so I launched her without topping off her magazines first. Big mistake and it was probably due to first time jitters. Unfortunately, with all of the recent testing she had, I had shot almost all of the ammo in her forward gun and half of her aft battery. This left about 25-30 total shots in both her magazines. Next time, I won't forget to reload but this is how you learn.

Because of the lack of Axis hulls on the water, a continuing problem with only the Z-43 and Yavuz (ex-Goeben), it was decided to split up the fleets along another manner:


Team Battleships R Us

Name                     Ship               Units     Speed
===========================================================
Brian Eliassen           USS South Dakota     6         26
Dana Graham              HMS Prince of Wales  6         24
===========================================================


Team Cruiser Heaven

Name                     Ship               Units     Speed
===========================================================
David Asman              DKM Z-43             1.5       21
Mark De Antonio          USS Brooklyn         3         23
John Flores              SMS Moltke           4         26
Daniel Louwsma           USS Honolulu         3         23
John Riese               TCG Yavuz            4         26
Ty Siouxpancic       HMS Inflexible       4         26
===========================================================
The author (left) with his USS Honolulu and Ty with his HMS Inflexible
preparing their ships for launch. The USS South Dakota is between them.

As you can see, both heavy battleships (South Dakota & Prince of Wales with 6 combat units each) vs. everyone else, consisting of three battlecruisers (Inflexible, Moltke & Yavuz, 4 units each), two light cruisers (Brooklyn & Honolulu, 3 units each) and the destroyer Z-43 (1.5 units). Although the units looked to favor the cruiser fleet (12 vs. 19.5), both battleships have multiple stern cannons while the cruiser fleet all had ships with one gun per direction, plus all of the ships in question have a pump so if you look at the cannon ratio, it's more like 10 to 13.5 in our favor. That's not a whole lot when you're fighting battleships. Toss in the minor detail that both battleship skippers are Nats combat veterans while the rest of us weren't (David is a Nats veteran but the Z-43 is his Nats Campaign ship) and you end up with 2 veteran battleships vs. 5 rookie/experienced/good cruisers with an experienced destroyer. Hey, I'll take any excuse I can get as to why Honolulu lost her first fight! Never mind that I was a rookie, forgot to load the guns, and other minor details like that. At least I did have all power turned on and the air system charged up.

Mike Aono, being the CD for this event, waited until we were all out on the water for about a minute before calling the start of the battle. Unlike my last write-up, where I was a non-combatant witness (i.e.; spectator) and could take notes at my leisure, I knew I was going to be a little too busy in this battle fighting my ship. Also, knowing that Brian was specifically gunning for me as he usually initiates a rookie to the "joys" of MWC by sinking his ship as quickly as possible, I decided to go on the attack.

Joe Dworniczak got his SMS Von der Tann on the water for
some quick sea trials before the battling started.

[I would like to offer a rebuttal. It is now and always has been my policy to NOT attack rookies during their first battle even if they may talk a lot of "smack". Why? Very simple, I do not want to discourage anyone from continuing in this wonderful hobby. The only time I will shoot at a rookie ship is if a rookie ship goes dead in the water or certain 'insane' captains (e.g.; Daniel) who decide that single-handedly sinking the SoDak is a good idea. Hey, if ANYBODY on the opposite team is going to chase me and sit behind my stern cannons for several seconds, I'm going to educate them real quick. I was not very happy that Daniel sunk but I was even more upset that the sinking caused Daniel to miss the rest of the days battling due to a defective radio box. It's never fun sitting on the sidelines watching everyone else battle while your broken ship keeps you off the water. I speak of this from a position of experience. - Brian]

As soon as Mike sang out, "Let the battle begin!", I accelerated straight towards the South Dakota on an attack vector. Now, for a little light cruiser of ANY vintage, this is tantamount to suicide, and since I knew she was

The USS South Dakota (foreground) and HMS Prince of Wales (center) head out to look
for victims such as HMS Invincible (background) during the first battle.
going to be sunk anyway, I though I could get in close and do some serious damage before being put down. I did manage to look over at Brian (driving SoDak) and saw his jaw hit the deck, almost like he was thinking, "What is that cruiser doing? Does it think it's name is Kamikaze?!?!" Not wasting any time, I opened up with Mount 62 (forward cannon), and heard a hollow rushing instead of a sharp pop. My first ever war shot was an "air slug". Three more air slugs later, I came to the conclusion that I had a jammed cannon. Rather than moaning about it, I went hard to starboard, and got off a few shots with Mount 64 (aft cannon), and was rewarded by hearing at least 2 hits on the South Dakota. I looked at Brian again, and this time the look on his face said, "Oh, hello lunch." Ask me if I was surprised.

Most of my remaining time on top of the water, I was too busy trying to maneuver for shots without getting hit to take too many notes. For some strange reason, I kept finding myself behind the South Dakota's and Prince of Wales stern cannons. When you're running for your life, time seems to stretch out but I knew my time was limited, not that I'm fatalistic or anything. I don't recall calling out, "Honolulu on Five," but with the damage she took, she wouldn't have lasted that long anyway. As soon as I saw her bow dip too far past a certain point, I decided to bring her in so I wouldn't have to wade out too far for her. Unfortunately, it was too late; USS Honolulu went down by

The author begins the search for his missing ship.
the bow and was officially sunk at 1048 hours, the 12th of January, 2002, approximately ten meters out from shore. However, her stern deck seal must been a good one as there were few holes in her aft section so her stern didn't follow the rest of the ship for a full minute, ala Titanic. This permitted us to get a fix on her location, but without a reliable recovery buoy (refitted by the next day), it still took Mike and I about ten minutes of wading out in the water to find her. After she was ashore, I found out about the radio box leak (which put her out of commission until refitted) and that I had no ammo onboard. Oh well, you learn something new every day. I spent the rest of the day drying her out and acting as assistant CD, mainly with a stopwatch.

During the second sortie, no one sank but there was a lot of damage being handed out as many ships were pumping quite nicely by the end of the battle. It was also clear that something had to be done to even-out the teams a bit as the battleships were chasing everyone around the pond with complete impunity and racked up a rather serious difference in scores.

Here were the results of the battle:

Team Battleships R Us

Captain              Ship                  A   O   B  Pen   Sink   Total
========================================================================
Brian Eliassen       USS South Dakota     22   2  12    0      0     870
Dana Graham          HMS Prince of Wales  23   7   7    0      0     755
========================================================================
Total                                                               1625

Team Cruiser Heaven

Captain              Ship                  A   O   B  Pen   Sink   Total
========================================================================
David Asman          DKM Z-43              0   1   2    0      0     125
Mark De Antonio      USS Brooklyn          3   0   0    0      0      30
John Flores          SMS Moltke           17   2   1    0      0     270
Daniel Louwsma       USS Honolulu         20  10  15    0    700    1900
John Riese           TCG Yavuz            42   1   5    0      0     695
Ty Siouxpancic   HMS Inflexible       61   6   9    0      0    1210
========================================================================
Total                                                               4230
The authors comment at this point was, "Hey Mike, I think I just kicked your head."
Mike's head wasn't really in the water; it was still on shore as he didn't want to get it wet.

After a very short "stand down" period between battles, the ships were back on the water for the second battle. A lot of people were hustling to get their ships completed in time and Brian came over to apologize for not having the time to help get the Honolulu back on the water. I told him it needed some serious work before it could return to the pond anyway and not to sweat it. That's one of the best things about this hobby. After someone sinks you, they're always willing to help get you back on the water. A lot of good people in this hobby. Anyway, before the second battle started, Mike decided to mix up the teams a bit. Here is how everybody was distributed for the second battle:

Team Hide Behind the PoW

Name                     Ship               Units     Speed
===========================================================
David Asman              DKM Z-43             1.5       21
Dana Graham              HMS Prince of Wales  6         24
John Riese               TCG Yavuz            4         26
Ty Siouxpancic       HMS Inflexible       4         26
===========================================================


Team Hide Behind the SoDak

Name                     Ship               Units     Speed
===========================================================
Mark De Antonio          USS Brooklyn         3         23
Brian Eliassen           USS South Dakota     6         26
John Flores              SMS Moltke           4         26
===========================================================

This was pretty even teams considering the 'cannon' units were 11.5 to 10.

The missing ship was found! However, the radio box was full of water
by this point after a 10 minute visit to the bottom of the pond.

I decided to be a better observer this battle and kept a better eye on how things developed. During the first sortie Brian steamed off looking for the Yavuz when all of a sudden, a cry went up from the captains to my right; "Brooklyn is dead in the water!". This type of incident will stop all other activity very quickly and has a way of changing everyone's current plan. All the friendly ships attempt to block and help out their stricken teammate while all the enemy ships maneuver for the easy kill on a helpless victim. I saw the SoDak make a quick 180 and head towards his helpless teammate who was being pummeled by the Prince of Wales quad stern cannons. I also saw Brian walk over and stand behind Mark. I figured this was so he could keep an eye on everything but I approached and heard him quietly talking with Mark. A moment later, Mark called "Brooklyn five out of control". I then heard, "Yes, my pump runs all the time." About two minutes later, Mark mysteriously regained control of his ship and asked Brian, "Should I stop my five and continue?" to which Brian stated, "That wouldn't be a good idea. Your ship has a problem so get it off the water and find out what is wrong otherwise you could go dead in the water again and sink." Sounds like good advice. Brian continued to use the SoDak as a barricade for the Brooklyn which, by this point, had taken quite a bit of damage. Brian talked to him constantly and I only saw one goof up when Brian T-bone rammed the Brooklyn during some tight maneuvering. No one called ram as the SoDak has a flat bow. A few minutes later, Mark was off his five and got off the water. His ship had taken quite a bit of damage including a rather nasty hit from the spurt cannon of David Asman's Z-43.

The author and his ship taking the 'longest walk' back to shore.

A lot of the ships appeared to be out of ammo by this point, except for the SoDak, which was able to go on the attack while everyone else was on five. Brian finished the sortie with ammo in his magazines as he was emptying them into the water at the end of his five. The SoDak was the last ship on the water.

Another short break between sorties and everyone was back on the water. The only change was John F. handing the Moltke's transmitter to Richard for this sortie. Mark figured out his problem was a bad switch but thought he had fixed it. However, after a few minutes on the water, he went dead in the water again. This time, the SoDak was already close-by and played moveable barricade for the Brooklyn. Mark got off his five minutes without a problem and the battleships pushed him to shore. Right after this, the SoDak tried to pin the Prince of Wales against the shoreline but due to the PoW's quicker speed, he was able to escape. So, the SoDak went after the Yavuz which was on five. After a couple of minutes of this, the Yavuz silently settled to the bottom of the pond. After that sink, the SoDak went after the Inflexible which was also on five. After at least two minutes of complex maneuvering, Brian finally had a shot with the SoDak so he fired;"pftttth"...he was out of ammo. More air slugs! A quick check of his cannons showed he was out of ammo completely so he was the last to call five.

The TCG Yavuz shoots at the USS South Dakota (see splash) but misses the target.

After everyone had their ships out of the water, a few people were thinking about doing another sortie without patching. John F. with the Moltke entered the water with Ty's Inflexible. I believe David also had his Z-43 in this one as well. They looked like they were having fun as it was a 'free-for-all' with no teams. After it was all over and people ran out of ammo, no one looked to be in danger of sinking so they just took their ships off the water.

After counting the ships, it was clear that mixing up the battleships a bit in the fleets is a good thing. Whenever the score is within a thousand, everyone is sure to have had a good time as no one side dominates too much. Hopefully, the Axis will begin producing a few new capital ships so SCRAP can start battling Axis vs. Allied soon.

This is what the second battle damage looked like:

Team Hide Behind the PoW

Captain              Ship                  A   O   B  Pen   Sink   Total
========================================================================
David Asman          DKM Z-43              0   0   0    0      0       0
Dana Graham          HMS Prince of Wales  25   4   7    0      0     700
John Riese           TCG Yavuz             9   4   4    0    800    1190
Ty Siouxpancic   HMS Inflexible       40   1   2    0      0     525
========================================================================
Total                                                               2415

Team Hide Behind the SoDak

Captain              Ship                  A   O   B  Pen   Sink   Total
========================================================================
Mark De Antonio      USS Brooklyn         43   3   3    0      0     630
Brian Eliassen       USS South Dakota     23   1   2    0      0     355
John Flores          SMS Moltke           26   5   3    0      0     535
========================================================================
Total                                                               1520
Second battle action: Brian and his South Dakota attempt to pin Dana's Prince of Wales against the shore.

After this, everyone gathered up their ships and equipment. SCRAP had a quick captains meeting and then most of us headed off to lunch at Carrow's in Orange.

Currently, Honolulu is on the bench, undergoing an engineering refit. I won't be at our February battle due to my job, but she'll be ready by March and this time I'll be ready.

By the way, Ty wanted to gun for me on 12Jan02, but he didn't get a good chance to take a shot, mainly because of the long line and the fact that he was on my team. I have no doubt he will try to get me in March.

Some quotes heard at lakeside:

"Putting the battleships on the same team was a big mistake." - Mike
"It's Larry fault I forgot the pallets again." - Richard
"Daniel, you're going to get a 'no damage from the SoDak' card for the next couple of months though. - Brian
"Now you tell me!" - Daniel responding to Brian's comment as he waded back to shore with his striken ship
"Daniel sunk? Time for me to light up my cigar!" - Ty
"I know why you sunk me so quickly, Brian. You're shots in my bow missed my armor and exited below the waterline." - John R.
"I'm on Brian's team for the second battle? Does that mean I can't shoot him?" - John F.
"Dude, I owe you, thanks for protecting me for those two sorties." - Mark talking to Brian
"I know I hit you today." - David talking to Mark
"Yep. Look at that hole!" - Mark's reply to David pointing at the nickel sized hole on his ships port side
"You're all way too fast." - Dana complaining about everyone elses speed as he easily pulled away from everyone