TRG Historic Content Co.

In Peril on the Sea: Conflict, Risk and Courage in Command
Part of the six part naval history series from TRG Historic Content Co. (

Hear about the severest test of seamanship and leadership in WWII, a battle which cost more ships, lives, and aircraft than any other; not a battle with the enemy, but a battle with nature – a typhoon. Who was the real hero in the Pacific War? Was it the profane, aggressive, hard-charging Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, commander of the entire fleet (from his flagship, the USS New Jersey), popular with the press and the public, prolific with the sound bites, who gambled with lives, and who wasn’t there when he was needed? Or was it the modest, unassuming Lieutenant Commander Henry Lee Plage, skipper of the smallest ship in the fleet, who disobeyed the same Admiral’s orders, so he could rescue scores of sailors out of the 900 dumped into the sea when three ships capsized as a result of the admiral’s risk-taking? The skipper expected to be court-martialed. But his crew had some surprises for their skipper and the Admiral. See WWII film footage of the typhoon in all its fury. Hear about the campaign to award the Medal of Honor to the skipper of the USS Tabberer. Marvel at the little known story of a young and courageous Lt. (j.g.) of the aircraft carrier USS Monterey, who put out the raging fires in the hanger deck that threatened to destroy his ship; the Lt.’s name was Gerald Ford, future President of the U.S. Hear a member of the Monterey crew tell what the typhoon of 1944 was like on the flight deck as the waves washed over it. (30 minutes)

Optional Science Module (Designed for adult and young adult audiences and student groups)
Learn the important role that weather forecasters play on US Navy ships. Listen to a real battleship weatherman describe working in the ship’s weather “shack.” Understand how weather inputs to the ship’s computers are used in aiming of the huge 16 inch guns. See video of the Battleship New Jersey’s 16 inch guns being loaded and fired. (15 min.)

Optional Student Participation Module - Science/Mathematics (Designed for youth classes; can be given aboard the Battleship) Students will learn about the instruments and terminology used aboard a ship to observe and record weather data. They will read and record various ship weather instruments, such as temperature, humidity, air pressure, wind speed and direction. Different units of measure used in weather observation and how to convert between them will be explained and practiced. (30 min.)

About the Developer/Presenter
Ron Gottardi is Volunteer Director of the Oral History Program of the Battleship New Jersey, a former docent (tour guide) and volunteer educator for the ship. This gives him access to the rich material in the museum-ship’s libraries, curatorial archives, and oral history recordings and transcripts. He is a member of the Oral History Association, the Oral History Mid-Atlantic Region association, the United States Naval Institute and the Historic National Ships Association. Ron is a former Associate Professor at Drexel University and was also taught at Rowan University and Temple University. Ron has developed naval history exhibits for the Battleship New Jersey and other organizations. He is an amateur meteorologist, a member of the Delaware Philadelphia Chapter of the American Meteorological Society, a volunteer Skywarn™ severe weather reporter for the National Weather Service and a CoCoRaHS volunteer, a national precipitation reporting network.

This presentation can be delivered for a fee to local (southern New Jersey and Philadelphia area) veterans, civic, and public organizations. For local presentation, contact Ron Gottardi at 856-608-7984 or by email at Part of the fee goes to the Battleship New Jersey Oral History Program to continue its interviews of military veterans and develop more US naval history content. This presentation is also available for a fee to groups visiting the Battleship New Jersey. It is also available for Distance Learning classes via internet-based closed circuit TV. Contact Jack Willard, Executive V.P., Sales & Marketing for the Battleship at 609-868-5664. For more info, visit or

In Peril on the Sea talk 2015fJE12.doc; © 2015 Ron Gottardi


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