Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reports of Sinking Ship - Possibly a Warship - Following An Explosion Off Somalia

This is a somewhat odd report from VOA Witnesses in Somalia Report Sinking Ship After Explosion
Officials and residents in Somalia's Puntland region say they saw a large ship off the country's coast explode and gradually begin to sink Monday.

Witnesses in the coastal town of Muranyo describe the ship as looking like a warship, although it was not possible to immediately identify the vessel. They say two other ships in the area came to the aid of the sinking ship and rescued its crew.

Black dot is approx location of Alulu
The region is frequently patrolled by the European Union Naval Force Somalia to disrupt piracy and protect vulnerable shipping, including World Food Program vessels.

"The ship sank around sunset on Monday. Then, two warships came. Locals saw them evacuating the crew. No one has contacted us and we had no ability to extend a rescue at nighttime," said Ali Shire Osman, the chairman of the northern Somali port town of Alula.

One witness described the scene to VOA's Somali service: "A huge explosion happened, which sent plumes of smoke mixed with waves of water into the air. It was a deafening blast and then the ship started to gradually sink," said Mohamed Ahmed. "Then two white warships came to the scene and are still there."
The town near where the incident happened is 44 kilometers east of Alula, which has been one of the pirate hubs in Somalia.
The proximity to Yemen may be related.

UPDATE: A possibe explanation from Maritime BulletinShip sank after explosion off Somalia coast – probably RAMA 2?:
// June 27: UK Coast Guard was alerted by Yemeni Coast Guard in the morning June 26, reporting sinking tanker RAMA 2 and lack of capacities to launch SAR. UK CG coordinated SAR, directing to sinking tanker nearby merchant ships. 12 out of 14 crew were rescued by nearby merchant ships, 1 was rescued by UK Navy helicopter, 1 is missing. SAR was hampered by adverse weather. Tanker said to carry some 3,000 tons of fuel on board.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Really? Containership Captain Says Collision with Destroyer "Not his fault"

Well, this Reuters report will get a lot of play, but my "Spidey sense" is pinging - and so I am not taking the captain of the container ship's word as gospel. But you can read it yourself at  Reuters Exclusive: U.S. warship stayed on deadly collision course despite warning - container ship captain . Here are things that make me wonder:
In the first detailed account from one of those directly involved, the cargo ship's captain said the ACX Crystal had signaled with flashing lights after the Fitzgerald "suddenly" steamed on to a course to cross its path. The container ship steered hard to starboard (right) to avoid the warship, but hit the Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Captain Ronald Advincula's report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation that was seen by Reuters.
Really? Fitzgerald took the hit on the starboard side, just forward of amdiships. How does a ship in a
U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Peter Burghart/Released
"hard" right turn (in theory turning away from the destroyer) hit the starboard side of the ship it was trying to avoid. It just seems odd unless the Fitzgerald accelerated into the path of the container ship while it was in a turn. And 10 minutes into the turn the collision occurs? I really would have to do a manuevering board to figure out how this is possible. But if the container ship was doing 20 knots, that's 2000 yards every 3 minutes or about 7000 yards (~3.5 nautical miles) in 10 minutes. That's a lot of distance in which a collision could have been avoided.
Another focus of the probes has been the length of time it took the ACX Crystal to report the collision. The JCG says it was first notified at 2:25 a.m., nearly an hour after the accident. In his report, the ACX Crystal's captain said there was "confusion" on his ship's bridge, and that it turned around and returned to the collision site after continuing for 6 nautical miles (11 km).
Really? I can understand 'confusion" and I understand big ships take a while to manuever, but 12,000 yards after a collision in which you were involved you finally come about? What was your speed? In my experience the prudent thing for the container ship to do would have been to start slowing during that alleged 10 minutes after the Fitzgerald instead of continuing at speed.

Was there anyone on the bridge of the container ship at the time of the collision? There seems to be an argument that "Iron Mike" ("auto pilot") was driving the containership. See Freighter Was On Autopilot When It Hit U.S. Destroyer :
Tracking data broadcast from the Crystal as part of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) shows the ship changed course by 90 degrees to the right and slightly reduced its speed between around 1:32 a.m. and 1:34 a.m. After that time, the data shows the ship turned to the left and resumed a northeastern coarse along its original track line.

Private naval analyst Steffan Watkins said the course data indicates the ship was running on autopilot. "The ACX Crystal powered out of the deviation it performed at 1:30, which was likely the impact with the USS Fitzgerald, pushing it off course while trying to free itself from being hung on the bow below the waterline," Watkins told the Free Beacon.

The ship then continued to sail on for another 15 minutes, increasing speed before eventually reducing speed and turning around. "This shows the autopilot was engaged because nobody would power out of an accident with another ship and keep sailing back on course. It’s unthinkable," he added.

Watkins said the fact that the merchant ship hit something and did not radio the coast guard for almost 30 minutes also indicates no one was on the bridge at the time of the collision.

By 2:00 a.m., the freighter had turned around and headed back to the earlier position, according to the tracking data.
I'm sure the many investigations will sort all this out, but an apparently self-serving statement to the media from the capatain of the containership is not surprising at this point - not surprising - just not to be taken at face value without more evidence.

In a similar vein, Mr. Watkin's analysis should not be accepted as writ either without more.

Further, as investigations continue, the Fitzgerald's actions will be examined.

Wait for the final reports.

Southeast Asia Piracy: Pirates hijack Thai oil tanker, Steal Part of Cargo

Malaysia New Straits Times reports Pirates hijack Thai oil tanker, make off with 1.5mil litres of diesel:
A group of armed pirates hijacked a Thai oil tanker in waters off Kuantan and made off
with about 1.5 million litres of diesel fuel on June 23.

Asia News Network reported that the tanker, CP41, was boarded by pirates when it was en route from Singapore to the Songkhla province in southern Thailand.

The hijackers, who were equipped with guns and knives, had captured the captain and crew members during the incident before destroying communications equipment.

The men later proceeded to transfer the fuel into their ship and fled the scene.

The captain and crew members were left unharmed.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 22 May - 21 June 2017 and Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 15 - 21 June 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

On Midrats 25 June 2017- Episode 390: Summer Solstice Free For All

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 25 June 2017 for Midrats Episode 390: Summer Solstice Free For All
The days are too long and hot to spend all your Sunday outside, to pour some iced tea and join us live for a free for all!

We’re going to cover the maritime and national security breaking news from the USS FITZGERALD to Syria to any other topic that catches our fancy in a mostly random walk plan, so this is the time to ask us a question you’d like us to address, or even roll one of your questions our way.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can pick the show up later by clicking that link or by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Hopalong Cassidy "Mystery of Skull Valley" (1950)

Hopalong Cassidy or Hop-along Cassidy is a fictional cowboy hero created in 1904 by
the author Clarence E. Mulford, who wrote a series of popular short stories and many novels based on the character.
In his early writings, Mulford portrayed the character as rude, dangerous, and rough-talking. He had a wooden leg which caused him to walk with a little "hop", hence the nickname. From 1935, the character—as played by movie actor William Boyd in films adapted from Mulford's books—was transformed into a clean-cut, sarsaparilla-drinking hero. Sixty-six popular films appeared, only a few of which were loosely based on Mulford's stories.
Big on TV, too.
The series and character were so popular that Hopalong Cassidy was featured on the cover of national magazines such as Look, Life, and Time. Boyd earned millions as Hopalong ($800,000 in 1950 alone), mostly from merchandise licensing and endorsement deals. In 1950, Hopalong Cassidy was featured on the first lunchbox to bear an image, causing sales for Aladdin Industries to jump from 50,000 to 600,000 in one year. In stores, more than 100 companies in 1950 manufactured $70 million of Hopalong Cassidy products, including children's dinnerware, pillows, roller skates, soap, wristwatches, and jackknives

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Shipping Traffic

Traffic at sea? You bet. Here's an image grabbed from MaritimeTraffic of actual ships using their AIS (Automatic Identification System) at sea world-wide:

And one of the area around Japan, with Tokyo in the red oval:

Traffic? You bet.

Potential for confusion? You bet.

Just keep it in mind.

Leadership Lesson of the Day: "Sometimes a fan room is not just a fan room"

A U.S. Navy Petty Officer, Korrie McKinney, relates a story of leadership that ought to be required reading for managers/bosses everywhere in the USNI Blog's ‘Show Me’ Leadership:
Eleven years later, I still use what I call the “Show Me” leadership style. Not only do I use it train my junior sailors; I use it to learn from them as well. This type of leadership builds teamwork, respect, and trust which is the foundation on which to lead a division or an organization.

My leadership training advanced over the years by walking around ships or bases where I have been stationed and asking sailors “What are you doing? What does it do? What is the purpose?” At first the sailors are confused because they have only had supervisors hovering over them to make sure tasks are done correctly. As they begin to explain their task, you can see the moment when they realize that the job assigned to them is important.
BZ, PO McKinney!

Deck plate management at its best.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Degrees of Seriousness

ABC News coverage of shoot down of Syrian fighter/bomber by U.S. Navy F-18:

ABC Breaking News

Good analysis about potential messages and effects begins about 1:24. Did the U.S. draw that "red line" about what behavior it will tolerate? How will Russian leadership (read "Putin") respond? Will this lead to a "tit for tat" response attempt by Syrians (w Russian backing) or will the Russians respond directly?

"Self-defense" of coalition partners would seem to be a pretty reasonable rationale for the action the U.S. took.

But really, this is one of those middle of the meter reading on the "Degrees of Seriousness" meter.