The Turtle Ships of Medieval Korea,

In 1592, the de facto ruler of Japan, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, ordered the  invasion of Korea.  Hideyoshi, the successor to Oda Nobunaga, had grandiose plans which began with the conquest of Korea and ended with the conquest of Ming Dynasty China.  Little did he know that the Koreans would fiercely resist their invasion, nor did he know that the Koreans had weapons technology far more advanced than that of Japan.  Among that advanced technology was a heavily armed and armored warship called the “turtle ship”, a tough and mighty gunboat that better resembled a floating tank rather than a ship.

Invented by the Korean Admiral Yi Sun-sin, the turtle ship was named as such because it resembled a turtle.  Unlike other vessels of the day, the turtle was enclosed in an armored shell.  Around 100 to 120 feet long, the turtle ship featured a large armored roof to protect its crew from arrow or musket fire.  While some suggest the armor may have been iron plate, thus making the turtle ship the first ironclad, most historians disagree.  Regardless the roof was armored with strong materials as well as anti-incendiary materials.  The roof was also lined with metal spikes to prevent boarders from climbing on to it.  While the turtle ship had two sailing masts, primary propulsion in combat was from oar power.  Crew numbered to around 130, with 80 oarsmen and officers, and another 50 marines.

While the Japanese had firearms, Korean technology had developed far past Japan’s due to their contact with China.  The key to the turtle ship’s power were its heavy cannon, about a dozen mounted on each side.  The Japanese, who never mounted guns on a boat or ship, preferred to get in close and board the ship, fighting in hand to hand combat.  Against the turtle ship, this wasn’t a very good idea as the cannon, with a range of 300-600 yards, pounded away at the Japanese ships from a distance.  The front of the turtle ship also sported a dragon’s head, which typically concealed a flamethrower.  A sulfur gas thrower was also available to create a smokescreen to hide the ship from the enemy.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi invaded Korea with a force of 158,000 soldiers and Samurai.  However, all of his men and equipment had to be shipped across the Sea of Japan.  Thus, Hideyoshi needed tremendous naval power to support the invasion.  Although heavily outnumbered, Korea’s fleet of 40 turtle ships, as well as hundreds of other warships, harassed and decimated the Japanese fleet.  At the Battle of Hansan Island, Admiral Yi Sun-sin ambushed a Japanese fleet of 133 ships with his fleet of 3 turtle ships and 52 panokseons (a traditional battleship wihch was also armed with cannon).  In the ensuing battle, 60 Japanese ships were sunk.  The Koreans lost no ships of their own, with casualties numbering only 19 dead.

Despite the might of Korea’s fleet and the power of the turtle ships, eventually the Japanese were able to overwhelm the Koreans with superior numbers.  The Japanese invasion was a success, but a short lived one as the Chinese intervened, pushing out the invaders with a superior army.  Hideyoshi attempted a second invasion in 1597, but by then the Koreans had strengthened their defense and reformed their military.  The second invasion quickly ground down into stalemate, a stalemate which would be ended once against with Chinese interventions.


Ah the Pre-Dreadnought battleship era, that weird time in naval development when designers where unable to let go of the broadside armament, even after the fully-rotating enclosed turret was introduced, giving us these bizarre and overloaded machines that more often than not suffered from wet decks as the sea simply got in through the barrettes.

Still, they look so mean with all those guns sticking out everywhere you can’t help but love them!


All the world’s non-american aircraft carriers in service: Giuseppe Garibaldi, Cavour (Italy), Viraat, Vikramaditya (India), Kuznetsov (Russia), Chakri Naruebet (Thailand), Juan Carlos I (Spain), Charles de Gaulle (France), Liaoning (China) and São Paulo (Brazil).

It’s interesting to note only two use a catapult for aircraft operation (CATOBAR, the same as in all nuclear-powered american supercarriers), Charles de Gaulle and São Paulo, both made in France, while the Kuznetsov, Liaoning and Vikramaditya, all made in the former Soviet Union, use a ski-jump in conjunction with arresting wires (STOBAR) to be able to use conventional aircraft (Su-33/J-15 and MiG-29K), while the rest of them, of European design, have to use Harrier jump jets as their only fixed-wing aircraft (STOVL).

To think there are 10 Nimitz nuclear carriers in service, the same number as in the rest of the world, but all of them are bigger and more capable than any of these.


United States warships active during WWI.

1. USS  San Diego 1915

2. USS Birmingham 1908

3. USS Chauncey

4. USS Delaware 1917

5. USS Florida 1917

6. USS Michigan 1910

7. USS Minnesota 1911

8. USS Tennesse 1908

9. USS Wyoming 1910

10. US Submarine K.5 1919


Her first time (at sea)….

The United States Navy’s newest class of warship made it’s debut on the high seas on December 7, 2015….underway for her first sea trials to determine her readiness for full duty.

USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) is the lead ship of a new stealth-guided-missile-destroyer class….designed to look like a small fishing boat when seen on an enemy radar screen….despite her large size (for a fighting ship).

The very expensive (US$4.3 billion) 610-foot long, 15,000-ton high-tech ship will be quiet and hard-to-detect…. sleek and fast….and well-armed when she is completed and joins the active fleet in 2016. 

She will be able to attack land, sea and subsurface targets from great distances using precision guided and cruise missiles, and torpedoes. She will be equipped later with electromagnetic rail guns and/or laser/directed-energy guns, now under development by the U.S. Navy.

Zumwalt will be home-ported in San Diego, CA after its official commissioning in Baltimore, MD….and the addition of weapons systems in a shipyard.

                                  Admiral  Elmo R. Zumwalt, USN

The ship carries the name of the famous Vietnam War era Chief of Naval Operations (CNO), Admiral Elmo Russell “Bud” Zumwalt, Jr, USN (1920~2000). He was the youngest-ever CNO, at age 49, when he assumed the job in April 1970.

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Interestingly, Zumwalt‍ '​s commanding officer is Captain James A. Kirk, USN. Kirk attracted media attention when he was first named captain, due to the similarity of his name to that of the iconic Star Trek character, Captain James T. Kirk….played by actor William Shatner. In the Star Trek series, CAPT Kirk commanded the futuristic Starship Enterprise.

“Unfortunately I can’t be with you when your vessel is commissioned and obviously your captain, Captain Kirk, is dear to my heart,” Shatner wrote. "So forgive me for not attending, my schedule won’t allow me, but know that you are in our thoughts — Mr. & Mrs. Shatner — and that we bless you and hope that you have a safe journey wherever your ship takes you.“

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Welcome to the high seas….and welcome to the future….Captain Kirk, crew members and warship USS Zumwalt!


>>CLICK the top photos for more information (and bigger pictures)….

Fast ship….

                She bears her down majestically near,

                              Speed on her prow, and terror in her tier.

                                                                – Lord Byron (1788~1824)

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>>Photo: The United States Navy guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63)….CLICK the photo for the dramatic close-up….

(via Naval Architecture and Sadadoki’s)