U.S.S. Shenandoah in Rhode Island – 1924

U.S.S. Shenandoah In Rhode Island – 1924

 

USS Shenandoah moored to the USS Patoka, Narragansett Bay, R.I. – Aug. 8, 1924

     The U.S.S. Shenandoah, (ZR-1), was the first of four giant rigid airships built for the United States Navy to be used for fleet reconnaissance.  The other three airships included the U.S.S. Los Angeles, U.S.S. Akron, and the U.S.S. Macon. 

     When completed in August of 1923, The Shenandoah was 680 feet long, and 78 feet 9 inches wide, and capable of carrying seaplanes.   

     In July of 1924, the U.S.S. Patoka was modified from a fleet oiler to an airship tender with the addition of a 125 foot tall airship-mooring-mast attached to the aft section of the ship.

     On August 8, 1924, the Shenandoah and the Patoka came to Rhode Island to conduct airship-docking-tests in Narragansett Bay.  The Patoka anchored in the bay just off Prudence Island in an area where the effects of the changing tides were the lowest.  The Shenandoah, dubbed the “Queen Of The Air Fleet” by the press, cruised in the vicinity for several hours as thousands lined the shoreline or set out in pleasure boats to watch.

     Finally the Shenandoah glided to the Patoka and three lines were tossed from the nose of the airship to sailors waiting atop the mast.  After the lines were secured, the Shenandoah was slowly drawn nose-first to the mast by a series of winches.   

     The following is an excerpt from the Woonsocket Call (R.I.), newspaper dated August 9, 1924 which describes the docking procedure: “The Shenandoah’s crew, cooperating with the sailors below, nursed the big airship toward its resting place by using the engines in the two forward gondolas intermittently.  At times the Shenandoah’s nose would dip rather sharply.  An even keel would be resumed in a short time as the stern settled.  Water Ballast was discharged on two occasions.

     The giant ship’s nose gradually drew near the morning mast.  A locking devise made it fast.  The Shenandoah, if the protracted calculations of the designers of the rigging do not fail, and the airship withstands the strain, should, when in position at the mast, swing with the ship below.  After the mooring the Patoka steamed with the Shenandoah to a point about midway between the Naval Training Station and the Melville Coaling Station.”       

     The entire operation took about an hour.   

     Once secured to the Patoka, 37 crewmen of the Shenandoah climbed down through the mast to the deck of the Patoka.

     The whole purpose of the test was to see if anchoring an airship at sea was feasible.  The test, the first of its kind ever attempted by the navy, was a success. 

     It was also reported in the Woonsocket Call that the Shenandoah had flown over Rhode Island the previous autumn.   

     The Shenandoah was lost on September 3, 1925 when the ship encountered severe weather while passing over Ohio.  14 of the 43 crewmen aboard were killed.

     Source:

     Woonsocket Call, “Shenandoah Test At Newport Proves Favorable So Far”, August 9, 1924, page 2

 

Dr. De Bossuet’s Airship – 1889

Dr. Bossuet’s Airship – 1889

     The following article appeared in The Ohio Democrat, (of Logan, Ohio), November 23, 1889.  It relates to a “Dr. De Bossuet” of Boston who planned to build a steel airship, and was trying to raise $250,000 to build it.  This was a remarkable sum of money for 1889.  No further details about this project or Dr. De Bossuet are known.

AERIAL NAVIGATION

A Boston Machine Will Solve The Problem, It Is Claimed

     News comes from Boston that, under the auspices of the Aerial Exhibition Association , a steel air-ship is about to be constructed upon the vacuum principle.  The ship is to be constructed entirely of thin plates of the greatest possible tensile  strength, and thoroughly braced inside by a “new development in science mechanics” to resists the pressure of the atmosphere when a partial vacuum is obtained.  The promoters of the enterprise expect their machine to lift two hundred passengers and fifty tons of mail or other matter, to say nothing of all the machinery and apparatus with electrical power sufficient to give a speed to the ship of at least seventy miles an hour.  During the earlier trips no intermediate or steerage passengers will be taken. The cost is estimated at two hundred and fifty thousand dollars, and a National subscription is to be opened for the purpose of securing the necessary funds.  Dr. De Bossuet, the inventor, is said to claim that his plans have the approval of “the most eminent scientific and engineering experts in the country.”  There is no doubt that aerial navigation will sooner or later become an accomplished fact, but it is very much open to question whether either the automobile balloon or the vacuum shell will be the successful airship of the future, but rather, so far as we can judge at present, a self-sustaining machine, or a motor driven by electricity, derived from the surface of the earth.  It seems as if inventors never would be convinced of the futility of the dirigible balloon, of which the unfortunate termination of the Campbell venture has just afforded another example.  They are misled by the ease with which the machine can be handled in a dead calm, and will not realize that in a breeze it becomes comparatively powerless – N.Y. Mail and Express   

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