GREENVILLE, S.C. -- Navy Operational Support Center (NOSC) Greenville celebrated the Navy's 243rd birthday with a bang - three, to be exact. On Saturday, October 13th, Sailors from the NOSC fired three commemorative blank rounds from a World War II-era, 3”, 50-caliber dual-purpose cannon during a dedication ceremony at the NOSC that coincided with the Navy Birthday weekend events, in front of over 150 Sailors, Marines and civilian guests, many of whom were witnessing for the first time the fruits of their labor of love.
The firing signified the completion of a 10-month restoration process and highlighted the history and tradition of the United States Navy.
Local businesses and Sailors from the upstate of South Carolina and western North Carolina came together and logged over 3000 volunteer hours and provided $13,000 in donated materials and shop time. More than two dozen NOSC Sailors gave their time, most of it on off-hours, to disassemble, clean, refurbish, and reassemble the gun and mount. Seven local companies gave contributions of materials, including the stainless steel fasteners used in assembly, the aluminum stock required to machine new shells, and all of the powder coating and paint for the cannon.
“This project has done more to revive Sailor pride and build relationships than any project I can remember in my career," said Commander Jared Henderson, the Commanding Officer of NOSC Greenville. "I couldn't be prouder of the time and effort these men and women put into this project. David's enthusiasm and expertise made this entire project flow smoothly, but the support of the community and the work by the Sailors made the whole thing possible. I am absolutely thrilled to have this piece of history stationed in front of my NOSC."
“I got involved with this project because it’s my nature to help people who serve this country,” said David Sitarski, who spearheaded the restoration efforts and opened up his shop to the NOSC. “We wanted to give any Sailor who wanted to get involved a chance to work on the cannon and restore it from a very poor condition to a completely restored cannon. We fired it on the Navy’s birthday and these Sailors put a lot of heart into this. It commemorates everyone who has served before them.”
The 3” .50 caliber Naval anti-aircraft gun was made in several versions starting in 1915, with service on U.S. ships all the way into the early 1990s. The Mk 22 was first placed into service in 1944, with thousands of these guns being turned out before the end of WWII. This particular gun was found to have more than 16 foundry marks from all over the United States, indicating that the government most likely contracted the components out to smaller companies, and then assembled the guns in a single location for shipment to the fleet.
Although designated as a “dual purpose” gun, this family of guns was preferred as an AA gun due to the comparatively light weight of the shell it fired. The Mk 22 gun was mounted on destroyers, destroyer-escorts, ESSEX-class carriers, frigates, and cruisers, both during and after WWII. With many thousands of deck guns like this one produced, it is impossible to tell what ship or ships this one was mounted on or if it ever fired a shot in battle.
The Mk 22 gun mount weighed over 3 tons when fully assembled with armor, could fire a 13 lb shell over 14,000 yards in a surface engagement and had a 10,000 yard ceiling in AA mode. A proficient gun crew could fire 16-20 rounds per minute at top speed.