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submitted by John Stathatos on 22.02.2007

USS Kithira ship's patch

USS Kithira ship's patch
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This object is a woven cloth patch, about 4 inches across. It purports to be a "ship's patch" belonging to the US Navy ship Kithira, and was presumably sewn onto the sleeve of a seaman's fatigues. The motto, "Wasted Days & Wasted Nights", is, to say the least, strange for a fighting (?) ship. The whole thing may be a spoof, but I doubt anyone would go to such lengths for no very good reason. I came across it on eBay, where it was being offered as part of a larger collection of "Squadron Patches".

If it is indeed authentic, it would be interesting to find out more about the USS Kithira. A first internet search failed to come up with anything. Does anyone know anything further about this ship and its history?

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12 Comments

submitted by
Terry Chlentzos
on 23.02.2007

What an intriguing patch! The motto "Wasted Days & Wasted Nights" is the name of a song by the late singer Freddy Fender. I did a little digging on the Net and think I may have found some information on this ship. The USS Cythera or Kythira is mentioned in two online USA Naval Sources. Navsource Online shows that Landing Craft Tank LCT-1300 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater in WW2, participating in the invasion and occupation of Iwo Jima on 15 Feb, 1945. She was tranferred to Greece, circa 1947 and renamed Kythira L-185. The final dispostion and fate is unknown. A link to the website is here http://www.navsource.org/archives/10/18/181300.htm Wikipedia references two United States Patrol Vessels with the name Cythera. Shore Patrol vessel USS Cythera (SP-575) was reclassified as Patrol Yacht PY-26; another Patrol Yacht (PY-31) has the name USS Cythera. The link to this page is noted: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_patrol_vessels_of_the_United_States_Navy If anyone else is familiar with USA Naval Vessels this would be a fun topic to research.

submitted by
John Stathatos
on 23.02.2007

Initial research seems to add to the mystery of this ship. First of all, is it likely that the US Navy, which is no doubt as precise and pedantic as most military institutions, would confuse “Cythera” and “Kithira” to the extent of putting the wrong name on shoulder patches (keeping in mind that to a non-Kytherian, the names would appear quite different)? Secondly, the photos of American shore patrol vessels on the Wikipedia site show something rather different from the massive silhouette suggested on the patch itself. Granted that considerable poetic license may have influenced the designer, they still have very little in common. The LCT-1300 may appear a better bet, but given that she was only renamed after the transfer to Greece, the Greek navy would not have sanctioned an English-language patch (in fact, I don’t think the Greek navy goes in for these patches at all). However, I’ll see if any more information is available from the Naval Museum in Phaleron. Finally, there is the intriguing detail that the rocky island in the background of the patch looks very much like the Avgo (or Chytra) which dominates the entrance to Kapsali Bay. Perhaps just a coincidence? More research is definitely called for. For instance, when was the Fender song released?

submitted by
Terry Chlentzos
on 24.02.2007

Indeed, this is a bit of a mystery. I have emailed the seller to see if he or she can provide more information about the squadron. Should the seller not know, I have a few contacts with naval experience who I am sure can research the ship. I will post more information when I receive it. Wikipedia gives some more information on the song. In 1959, Fender recorded the blues ballad "Wasted Days and Wasted Nights." The song became popular in 1959, but he was beset by legal troubles in May 1960 after he and a band member were arrested for possession of marijuana in Baton Rouge, Louisiana....He also had success on the pop charts. In addition to "Before The Next Teardrop Falls" going number 1 on the pop charts in May, 1975, he also took "Wasted Days And Wasted Nights" into the pop top 10 and "Secret Love" into the pop top 20. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Freddy_Fender

submitted by
George Vardas
on 24.02.2007

This is an interesting post. I found out the following information about the USS Cythera at: http://www.ibiblio.org/hyperwar/USN/ships/dafs/PY/py26.html USS Cythera I (PY-26) The ancient name of Cerigo, one of the Ionian Islands. (PY: dp. 1,000; l. 215'; b. 27'6"; dr. 12'; s. 12 k.; cpl. 113; a. 3 3") -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Cythera (No. 575), was launched 20 September 1906 by Ramage and Ferguson Ltd., Leith, Scotland; sponsored by Mrs. C. W. Harkness, leased by the Navy in 1917, and commissioned 20 October 1917, Lieutenant Commander W. G. Roper in command. Sailing from New York 27 October 1917, Cythera arrived at Newport the next day and was assigned to Patrol Force, Atlantic Fleet. She cleared Newport 1 November with her squadron and escorted and towed submarine chasers to European waters, arriving at Gibraltar 29 December. Joining U.S. Patrol Squadron, based on Gibraltar, she patrolled and escorted convoys between her base and Mediterranean ports in France, Italy, and Africa. On 27 May 1918 while she was escorting a convoy from Bizerte to Gibraltar, two ships of the convoy were torpedoed, Cythera rescued 35 survivors of SS Ariel and dropped depth charges. On another occasion, 3 October 1918, en route from Genoa to Gibraltar, SS Uganda was torpedoed. Cythera searched for the submarine, and rescued the crew of the stricken ship, arriving safely at Gibraltar 28 May [sic]. Cythera cleared Gibraltar with her squadron 21 December 1918 and arrived at New York 5 February 1919. She was decommissioned 17 March 1919 and returned to her owner 2 days later. Reacquired by the Navy 31 December 1941 upon the outbreak of World War II, Cythera was converted to a patrol vessel and classified PY-26. Her conversion was completed 28 February and she was placed in service 3 March 1942. Engaged in patrol along the east coast, Cythera was hit by two torpedoes off North Carolina 2 May 1942 and sank so quickly that only two of her crew survived. The men were picked up by the attacking German submarine [U-402] and taken back to Germany where they were interned until the end of the war. I agree with John Stathatos that this appears to be a different vessel to the USS Kithira, particularly as the patrol yacht USS Cythera was sunk in 1942!

submitted by
George Vardas
on 24.02.2007

I think I have solved the problem. The patch is not for the USS Kithira since it appears that ship never existed. As John has noted, the ship on the patch is distinctly large. I am certain that it actually depivts the former US Super Carrier USS Kitty Hawk which sailed into the Kithira Anchorage as part of the US Sixth Fleet in NOvember 1977.

submitted by
John Stathatos
on 24.02.2007

My guess is that the original eBay offer was in fact mislabelled, and that this is not a ship’s patch at all, but something called a “cruise patch” or “operation patch”. It seems to be common (?) practice in the US Navy for such items to commemorate a particular cruise or voyage, rather like an unofficial campaign ribbon. If I’m correct, what we have here is a patch commemorating a cruise to, or including, Kythera. A search through available US navy records identifies one such voyage, that of the Kitty Hawk-class aircraft carrier “America” in 1977. The following extract from ship’s history was taken from the “Dictionary of American Fighting Ships and United States Naval Aviation, 1910-1995”: “America sailed from Hampton Roads on 10 June 1977 for a five-week South Atlantic deployment as a unit of TG 20.4. Other ships in company included USS South Carolina (CGN-37), USS Claude V. Ricketts (DLG-5), USS Dupont (DD- 941 ), and USS Neosho (AO-143). Following her return to Norfolk, America operated locally before she sailed to conduct operations in the Caribbean. Thence returning to Norfolk on 27 August 1977, America sailed for the Mediterranean on 29 September, with CVW-6 embarked, and reached Rota on 9 October. Departing that port on 14 October the carrier proceeded to the Tyrrhenian Sea, where she operated until 26 October. Following a port call at Brindisi, Italy, America began operations in the Ionian Sea on 7 November, and anchored at Souda Bay, Crete, two days later. She operated locally in these waters until 12 November, when she sailed for Kithira Island, Greece, anchoring there on the 19th. Weighing anchor the following morning, America sailed for the Adriatic Sea, bound for Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia. Visiting this seaport from 22 to 26 November, the carrier transited the Adriatic for a port call at Trieste, staying there from 28 November to 3 December 1977. Returning to operate in the waters of Souda Bay for more exercises, America subsequently departed Crete on 12 December for Palma de Mallorca, where she spent Christmas.” (http://www.navy.mil/navydata/navy_legacy_hr.asp?id=71) This theory would explain why the name “Kithira” on the patch is not preceded by the letters “USS” or similar designation, as well as the realistic depiction of Avgo rock on the patch and the fact that the ship’s silhouette does indeed look very much like a carrier seen side-on. The date of the voyage (1977) also chimes with that of the song’s re-release. Finally, another search of the internet came up with the following item in another dealer’s past catalogue: “USS Kitty Hawk CV-63 Kithira Greece cruise patch”. Does anyone on Kythera remember an aircraft carrier anchored near Avgo on the night of 19-20 November, 1977?

submitted by
Terry Chlentzos
on 26.02.2007

I agree with George and John's theory about the Kitty Hawk's stop in Kithira. The seller of this patch did reply to my inquiry, but had no information to add on this patch. I see that the ebay auction did end, with the patch being purchased by "livadi212," located in Australia. Wear it well, with no "wasted days or wasted nights."

submitted by
John Stathatos
on 26.02.2007

One way or another, we seem to have turned up a surprsing number of warships named "Kythera" or a variant thereof. It would be interesting to gather material on all of them, like the history George dug up for the patrol yacht USS Cythera. For instance, I wonder whether the Royal Navy ever included a Cythera, perhaps back in the Napoleonic wars?

submitted by
George Vardas
on 27.02.2007

Terry, as you probably guessed I am Livadi212! I thank both John and Terry for igniting my interest in this intriguing episode of Kytherian naval history! I have even signed the guestbook of the USS America website at www.freeguestbooks.net/mg/multi.pl?54:9:0http:// and I have already received one reply, although not from a sailor who was on board in 1977. Hopefully, more information may turn up. As for John's suggestion about other vessels named after our island, let's keep searching!!!

submitted by
John Stathatos
on 28.02.2007

Synchronicity can sometimes be very strange. Yesterday afternoon (February 27), I saw a naval task force consisting of an aircraft carrier and at least five escort vessels sailing just south of Kythera, off Vroulea. They seemed to be patrolling, at leisurely speed, a short triangular course between Kythera and Antikythera; at around 1620 hrs the carrier approached to within five or six miles to the east of Avgo before executing an almost 360-degree turn and heading off east by southeast towards the small islet lying north of Antikythera, where it changed course again to the southwest. The escort vessels constantly shifted position and heading relative to the carrier, while a helicopter patrolled back and forth overhead. I assume these must have been US Navy ships, as I don’t think anyone else in this neck of the woods is licensed to operate an aircraft carrier…

submitted by
George Vardas
on 28.02.2007

John, I remember in 1973 when I first went to Kythera and from Aghia Elessa I could see ships of the US sixth fleet. The area south west of the island is known as the Kithira Anchorage and for a long time US and Russian ships used to keep tabs on each other in that area. We are therefore strategically important! On the question of the patch, I received a reply from one of the members of the USS America website who has found the patch very interesting. His initial response was that usually anything associated with the USS America has her name attached and he speculated whether the patch was made in Kythera and the sailors bought it. I personally doubt it but he is looking into it. He concluded by saying that we have "peaked" his curiosity.

submitted by
Terry Chlentzos
on 03.03.2007

George, I am so glad you were able to bid on the patch! I had a feeling that I was probably acquainted with the lucky winner. Although I know very little about squadron patches, this one really intrigued me. I remember visiting my relatives in Crete in the 1980s, and seeing the U.S. presence at Hersonissos and Souda Bay. These squadron patches are not officially issued by the United States Navy. A naval history website, http://www.history.navy.mil/faqs/faq5-1.htm has some information and links to other sites where one may obtain information on patches of interest. The patches are made by private companies in the USA. Quite possibly you may find the USS America on this site or links to information about it.