February 16, 2020
Day 47 of 366
February 16th is the forty-seventh day of the year. It is Restoration of Lithuania’s Statehood Day, celebrating the independence of Lithuania from Russia and Germany in 1918.
Historical items of note:
- In 1646, the Battle of Torrington occurred in Devon. It was the last major battle of the first English Civil War.
- In 1881, the Canadian Pacific Railway was incorporated by an Act of Parliament at Ottawa.
- In 1937, Wallace H. Carothers received a United States patent for nylon.
- In 1948, the first newsreel telecast was shown on NBC.
- In 1952, William Katt was born. He was The Greatest American Hero.
- In 1957, actor, director, producer, and educator LeVar Burton was born.
- In 1964, Christopher Eccleston was born. He was the Ninth Doctor and a Marvel Cinematic Universe villain.
- In 1974, actor Mahershala Ali was born.
- In 1978, the first computer bulletin board system was created. It was called CBBS.
- In 1989, actress Elizabeth Olson was born.
- In 2006, the last Mobile Army Surgical Hospital (MASH) was decommissioned by the United States Army.
In 1960, the U.S. Navy submarine USS Triton (SSRN/SSN-586) began Operation Sandblast.
The Triton was a United States Navy radar picket submarine, designed to increase the radar detection range around a force to protect it from a surprise attack. Triton was the only ship of its class and was commissioned on November 10, 1959. It was the second submarine and the fourth ship in the U.S. Navy to be named for that particular Greek god, which was unique for an era when submarines were named for types of fish.
Under the command of Captain Edward L. Beach Jr., a World War II veteran submariner, the Triton completed the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe during Operation Sandblast. Spanning 60 days and 21 hours, a 26,723 nautical mile route was followed that began and ended at the St. Peter and Paul Rocks in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean near the Equator. The track was similar to the route followed by Ferdinand Magellan’s circumnavigation of the world from 1519 to 1522.
The intent was to increase American technological and scientific prestige before the 1960 Paris Summit between President Eisenhower and Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, as well as demonstrating the longevity of the nuclear submarine platform. Triton earned the Presidential Unit Citation for the operation, and Captain Beach was awarded the Legion of Merit.
The radar picket mission was made obsolete when the carrier-based WF-2 Tracer early warning aircraft was introduced, at which time the Triton was converted to standard attack submarine service (changing the ship from an SSRN to an SSN) in 1962. She was decommissioned in 1969, becoming the first United States nuclear submarine to be taken out of service.
The Thing About Today is an effort to look at each day of 2020 with respect to its historical context.
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