17 Mar 2013
Chapel stained glass windows

A recent post at the Naval Academy's Facebook page. From left to right the: Farragut, Mason, Porter and Sampson windows

The Chaplain's Center Web site has a "Virtual Tours" page here   There are pictures and explanations of:

Unfortunately, there is not much detail about the stained glass windows in the main chapel. I found all the following historical insight here   If you are standing under the center of the chapel dome and facing the altar: the Porter Window is directly ahead (at the 1200 position), racks of organ pipes are at your left 1030 and right 0130, the Sampson window is at your left 0900, the Farragut window is at right 0300, the Commission Invisible Window is at right 0430, and the Mason window is at left 0730.

The Porter Window (below) ... As one enters the Chapel through the great bronze doors and view the distant altar, the predominating colors in the beautiful stained glass window behind it are seen to be those of the Naval Academy, blue and gold. The window (known locally as the "Porter Window") is beloved by all Chapel worshippers. It is a memorial to Admiral David Dixon Porter by the class of 1869, whose members entered the Naval Academy the same year Porter became Superintendent. It was presented in 1908. The window pictures Christ walking upon the waters within the heavenly light shining on His face. The beauty, the strength, and the serenity of the figure of Christ dominate the entire interior of the Chapel.

The Sampson Window (below) ... This window is a memorial to Rear Admiral William Thomas Sampson, and is directly opposite the Farragut Window. The portion of the window above the mezzanine was presented in 1909 by the officers and men of the U.S. Navy, and portrays a Winged Peace. The lower portion of the window was a gift of the U.S. Naval Institute in 1941 and shows Saint Peter and Saint Andrew mending their nets: the figure of Christ calls to them: FOLLOW ME AND I WILL MAKE YOU FISHERS OF MEN."

The Farragut Window (below) ... To the right of the congregation sitting under the dome of the Chapel is the Farragut Window, presented in 1914 by approximately 1,800 graduates of the United States Naval Academy. They contributed the funds to honor the man who, appointed a midshipman in the United States Navy at the age of nearly nine and one-half years, became its first admiral. The class of 1890-1892 conceived the idea of this memorial and were responsible for its development.

In the lower portion of the window (below the mezzanine) stands the figure of Farragut in the rigging of his flagship HARTFORD. He had gone aloft for a better view during the battle of Mobile Bay. A solicitious sailor, John H. Knowles, Quartermaster, had followed his admiral and passed lashings around him in case Farragut were to be wounded and fall. The upper part of the window show an angel guiding Farragut to victory. The rainbow is used as an emblem of hope and promise and is the keynote of the coloring of the window.

In a letter to his wife, Farragut wrote that the night before the battle he had called his staff into his cabin for prayers and had read to them from his Bible. He wrote: "I am going into Mobile Bay, as I hope He is, and in Him I place my trust."

The next day, when passing Fort Morgan in the narrow channel leading to the inner bay, and at the crucial moment, the ships ahead became confused as one of them was sunk by a mine and another stopped. Farragut silently called on God for guidance as to whether he should turn to starboard or to port in order to escape the mine field. As though in a vision, he instantly saw the way was to port. The figure of the angel symbolically points to its own left. At the top of the window is the Admiral's motto: God is My Leader."

The Mason (aka Sir Galahad) Window (below) ... To the left of the Sampson Window is a memorial window presented by the family of Lieutenant Commander Theodorus Bailey Myers Mason, USN. Depicting a Christian Soldier with his unsheated sword, it was presented in 1899, first installed in the second Chapel and later moved to its present location."

The Commission Invisible Window (right) ... To the right of the Farragut Window is one whose official title is: The Commission Invisible, The idea was conceived by the late Chaplain Snyder K. Evans, who served the midshipmen for many years. It depicts the recently graduated midshipman reading his Ensign's commission shortly after the graduation ceremonies, the only change in uniform being the replacement of the midshipman shoulder marks by those of an Ensign. In the background can be seen "Old Glory" flying from the top of the flagstaff in the Academy grounds. The right hand upper corner shows the figure of Christ.

This window is to remind all future naval officers that they hold two commissions: one from God and the other from their country.



Windows in the "new" nave ... The theme of the eight windows in the extension of the nave (below) is significant for the divine source of inspiration and strength to all men who "go down to the sea in ships." The first four represent verses from the Old Testament. The next four are verses from the New Testament.

"Man on the Sea at God's Command" (below), presented by the Class of 1952, depicts Noah in the Ark, with the dove bringing the olive branch of promise. On one side Noah is shown building the Ark and on the other giving thanks, with the rainbow in the background. Above the center panel on this and the other seven windows may be seen the Hand of God extended in blessing. The design represents the elements of creation: the seas, the sun and moon, the stars and the mountains. The stars in the shield portray Noah as a four star Admiral.

"Man Dominates the Sea" presented by the Class of 1941, shows Moses dividing the sea. On the left God reveals Himself as the burning bush, while on the right Moses receives the tables of the Law at Sinai. Other symbols are the pillar of cloud, pillar of fire, water which gushed from the rock, and the Creator's six-pointed star.

"God Cares for Man at Sea" presented by the Class of 1940, tells the story of David and the 23rd Psalm. David is seen observing the loading of a ship. In the left panel is a ship in a storm but with the hint of a rainbow in the background. On the right is a ship sailing at night over a calm sea with the Big Dipper showing plainly in the sky. The border suggests a sling and stones, a harp, the lion of Judah, and a horn of anointing oil.

"God Teaches Man Obedience Through the Sea" presented by the Class of 1936, is the story of Jonah being cast into the sea. He tries to flee from God's command and later is cast up on shore by the great whale. The scenes around the edge suggest, by a broken sword, God's mercy over His justice; the great wind which drove the ship; the oar: by which the shipmen attempted to bring their ship about; and " fountain of 'living water.' again representing mercy.

"The Sea as a Place of Ministry" presented by the Class of 1929, shows in the center the Lord preaching from the ship, while on the left crowds are pressing on Him and the right He has come ashore to be with His disciples. You see the earth, cross-surmounted, as the triumph of Christ over the world; the crown of salvation; the lamp of knowledge which is the Word of God; and the candle, as man's spirit in Christ.

"Power Over the Sea Through Divine Aid" presented by the Class of 1926, shows the central subject to be the Lord stilling the storm. On one side He is sleeping in the boat, while on the other He is counselling His shipmates. On the outside are found the cross of faith, the dove of peace, the scepter of power, and the star of steadfastness.

"The Sea Provides for Man's Needs" presented by the Class of 1922, pictures in the center the apostles making a great catch of fish in their nets from the starboard side of the ship. The suggestion was made to them by Christ. The Risen Lord appears ashore. The left side shows the men casting nets with no result and the right side shows the result of the catch after following Divine orders. They meet the Risen Christ as they come ashore. In the margin are the Alpha and Omega, the Cross Potent, a Cross in the shape of an anchor and the monogram of Chi Rho.

"Saint Paul's Confidence in God, at Sea" presented by the Class of 1902, reveals an angel appearing to St. Paul with God's message that all hands will be saved. On one hand the ship is being tossed by a violent storm and on the other the apostles and others are safely ashore in Malta. Symbolic are the chains worn by St. Paul as a prisoner, a cross shaped from the four anchors of ACTS, a compass rose, and the viper that came out of the fire."

17 Mar 2013
Dahlgren Hall

A recent STEM conference at Navy.

17 Mar 2013
Carrier PBS mini-series

CARRIER is the revealing story of daily life on the USS Nimitz during its six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf. The journal began on the West Coast and stopped at several locations on the way to and from the Middle East. The full 10 hours of video are available here

Episode 1: “All Hands”
On a bright May morning, 5,000 sailors and Marines bid farewell to their loved ones before the mammoth USS Nimitz pulls out of Coronado, California, and sets a course for Hawaii and beyond. Among the men and women who live and work on board are an airman who describes the ship as a small town; a pilot who considers the ship a powerful instrument of diplomacy; a sailor who questions “why we’re fighting to defend someone else’s freedom when we barely have our own”; a cook who dishes out 15,000 meals a day; and an airman who has just learned that his girlfriend is pregnant.

Episode 2: “Controlled Chaos”
The men and women of the USS Nimitz live beneath the runway of a major airport. They sleep on the roof of a nuclear power plant. It’s a perilous environment. Their only bulwark against danger and chaos is to bond with their units on board the ship. The “Shooters,” who launch the jets, have a “Circle of Trust”; the Ordies (ordnance personnel) pride themselves on being a “mafia”; the F-18 squadrons — the Black Aces, the Hoboes and the Marine Red Devils — are tight fraternities.

Episode 3: “Super Secrets”
The ship’s location and itinerary are classified. Details of how the nuclear reactor works are top secret. Many aspects of life on a nuclear aircraft carrier are hush-hush. Dating and sex aboard ship are strictly forbidden, but according to one sailor, with 5,000 people on board, relationships are “inevitable,” resulting in a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy that applies to relationships as well as sexual orientation. When the Nimitz pulls into Hong Kong for a four-day port call, a scandal dramatically alters the lives of two sailors. As the ship departs, the crew learns their itinerary has changed. The captain announces that they are heading for Korea, but the crew can’t share this information with their families back home ... because it’s a secret.

Episode 4: “Squared Away”
Mentoring and camaraderie are what hold the ship together. But life on deployment is stressful for everyone aboard, and there can be considerable friction between enlisted personnel and their superiors. Port calls allow sailors to blow off steam, but they don’t relieve all the pressure. In Guam, a young sailor coming to terms with his upbringing can’t play by the rules and is forced out of the Navy. From Guam, the Nimitz sails through the Straits of Malacca, past Singapore to Kuala Lumpur, the last liberty call before the long haul to the Persian Gulf.

Episode 5: “Show of Force”
The mission really kicks off when the Nimitz arrives in the Gulf. The conditions are extreme: flight deck personnel endure temperatures hovering around 120 degrees, while the pilots undertake grueling six-hour missions over Iraq. The F-18s are mounted with infrared cameras, enabling them to serve as the “eyes in the sky” to support the troops on the ground. Some of the pilots are frustrated that they’re not dropping bombs because, as they describe it, that’s what they’ve been trained to do. The aircraft carrier’s role and effectiveness in this particular war are questioned. Meanwhile, the strike group searches for terrorists on small dhows and intercepts cargo ships to search for weapons and bomb-making materials.

Episode 6: “Groundhog Day”
After two months in the Gulf, one day starts to become indistinguishable from the next. The airwing still hasn’t dropped a single bomb, which is frustrating for some on board. The only relief comes from a port call in Bahrain, where some sailors relax by the pool, while others visit a mosque and learn about Muslim culture. The Princeton, one of the escort ships in the Nimitz strike group, loses a man overboard; an intense search to find the lost sailor ensues.

Episode 7: “Rites of Passage”
The last day in the Gulf is the last chance to drop bombs before the Nimitz heads home. The jets take off, laden with ordnance, and return hours later, still carrying the same bombs. As the Nimitz crosses the equator, the entire ship takes part in the Crossing the Line Ceremony, an ancient maritime ritual. In the middle of flight operations, a storm arises in the South Indian Ocean. The deck pitches violently, turning the already dangerous task of landing on the carrier into a nail-biting, heart-pounding drama.

Episode 8: “True Believers”
This episode explores the many expressions of faith onboard the USS Nimitz: faith in self, faith in one’s shipmates, faith in the mission of the ship and the president’s call to arms. The major religious groups on board are Catholic and Protestant, but there also is a coven of Wiccans, as well as a Pentecostal group whose newest member is challenged by the duality of his beliefs and the temptations of liberty as the ship drops anchor in Perth, Australia.

Episode 9: “Get Home-itis”
A six-month absence places a heavy burden on relationships. The Navy holds seminars to counsel sailors on what to expect when they return home — and how to make the transition smooth. The “Tiger Cruise” ritual allows sailors to invite their family members aboard for the last leg of the deployment.

Episode 10: “Full Circle”
As the Nimitz makes its final transit from Hawaii to California, the sailors and Marines on board prepare to return to their homes and families. For those still on board, the “Tiger Cruise” provides a buffer, but there’s no such transition for those who fly home early from Hawaii. As the Nimitz returns to her home port of San Diego, sailors and Marines reflect on the deployment and take stock of what they’ve achieved. Was the mission accomplished? There are tearful, joyful reunions at the pier.

17 Mar 2013
COD – Carrier Onboard Delivery

I was at an alumni lunch this week and asked my neighbor about his career in the Navy. He said, "I flew the COD." I thought it was curious he volunteered the mission rather than the aircraft designation or nickname. Though he didn't fly one of those "sexy" high-and-fast aircraft, he had lots of interesting stories to share.

In 2008, P.J. O'Rourke wrote a great piece about his flight to and from the USS Theodore Roosevelt via the COD. An excerpt of that article appeared in Poop Deck here   This is what he wrote about his trap experience ...

"... you travel out to the carrier on a powerful, compact, and chunky aircraft – a weight-lifter version of a regional airline turboprop. This is a C-2 Greyhound, named after the wrong dog. C-2 Flying Pit Bull is more like it. In fact what everyone calls the C-2 is the 'COD.' This is an acronym for 'Curling the hair Of Dumb reporters,' although they tell you it stands for 'Carrier Onboard Delivery.' There is only one window in the freight/passenger compartment, and you're nowhere near it. Your seat faces aft. Cabin lighting and noise insulation are absent. The heater is from the parts bin at the Plymouth factory in 1950. You sit reversed in cold, dark cacophony while the airplane maneuvers for what euphemistically is called a 'landing.' The nearest land is 150 miles away. And the plane doesn't land; its tailhook snags a cable on the carrier deck. The effect is of being strapped to an armchair and dropped backwards off a balcony onto a patio. There is a fleeting moment of unconsciousness. This is a good thing, as is being far from the window, because what happens next is that the COD reels the hooked cable out the entire length of the carrier deck until a big, fat nothing is between you and a plunge in the ocean, should the hook, cable, or pilot's judgment snap. Then, miraculously, you're still alive."
Here are some pictures from Wikipedia.

17 Mar 2013
Admiral Chester Nimitz

Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates gave a Forrestal Lecture in 2010 and had several wonderful anecdotes from Admiral Nimitz's career ...

Three years after being commissioned in 1905, Nimitz ran his ship aground in Manila Bay. The ship was pulled free the next day, and Nimitz was court-martialed, found guilty of neglect of duty, and issued a letter of reprimand.

His career survived what would be a death sentence today and he was later tasked with building a submarine base at Pearl Harbor. The problem was that he was given no building material. So then-LCDR Nimitz led nighttime raiding parties on other units' surplus materials to get what was needed – and successfully finished the base. I wouldn't advise that today.

During the 1920s, the American Navy was caught between aviation enthusiasts convinced that aircraft carriers would negate the need for all other ships, and traditionalists devoted to the battleship. Eschewing these dogmatic and parochial positions, Nimitz had the vision to recognize and promote the potential of the circular formation - carriers protected by battleships - for integrating the two capabilities. This insight was largely ignored for 20 years, but was later employed to great effect in World War II, and remained the basic template for carrier formations for decades afterward.

During World War II, Nimitz was in a plane that had crashed, and found himself caught in the middle of sailors swarming to the scene to rescue the wounded. Finally, an exasperated 18-year old crewman yelled, "Commander, if you would only get the hell out of the way, maybe we could get something done." When the crewman realized he had just chewed out a four star admiral, he tried to apologize. But Nimitz's response was: "Stick to your guns, sailor, you were quite right."


The National Museum of the Pacific War (sometimes referred to as the Nimitz Museum) is in Fredericksburg, Texas. Its web site is here   The affiliated Admiral Nimitz Foundation is here