Coral Sea

Coral Sea

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

" Last of the 8-inch Cruiser Guns"

Nice little article from USNI's Naval History by CDR Tyrone G. Martin, USN (ret) about heavy cruiser guns, especially the
Last of the 8-inch Cruiser Guns
Heavy cruisers were a part of the U.S. Navy for about 50 years, until the late 1970s.
Almost all of them were armed with nine 8-inch/55-caliber guns of several different types whose projectiles were fired using bagged powder charges. With the outbreak of World War II in Europe, four cruisers of the Baltimore (CA-68) class were immediately ordered. A total of 24 ultimately would be ordered, with 14 entering service. Combat experience resulted in modifications, which were reflected in the Oregon City (CA-122) class, whose superstructure was more concentrated to widen the antiaircraft batteries’ arcs of fire. Three of the ten cruisers ordered were completed and commissioned.

Shortly after the Oregon Citys were ordered, a startlingly different 8-inch/55 gun became available, one that used semi-fixed ammunition and could repeat firing cycles without human assistance. This was the Mark 16, which required an expansion of the Oregon City design. Twelve ships were programmed, but with the war’s end, only the three hulls well underway were completed: the Des Moines (CA-134), Salem (CA-139), and Newport News (CA-148). These would be the last 8-inch-gun cruisers built by any navy.
Newport News was around for the last legs of the Vietnam War, arriving, I believe, soon after the North Vietnamese Army rolled south in the 1972 "Easter Invasion."

One of the lessons that seems to have been learned out of that was that semi-fixed ammunition for the
8"/55 guns was somewhat of a logistical issue for the force - there was a scarcity of it in theater - and ammunition ships entering the waters off Vietnam had to take on the remaining 8"/55 load of ammunition ships leaving the area to load out other munitions in Subic Bay. As I recall, there was a requirement to document loads of that ammo by message to keep the fleet higher ups in the know on where Newport News 8" was and in what quantities.

In the larger logistical sense it points out the problem of having to cater to one ship's needs while most of the rest of the NGFS force was using 5"/38 or 5"/54 or even 6"/47 rounds.

Standard ammo types make logistics easier.

Newport News was a beautiful ship, though.

Photos from here - USS Newport News Official Website

Saturday, July 22, 2017

On Midrats 23 July 2017 - Episode 394: A Midsummer's Thucydides with Kori Schake

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 23 July 2017 for Midrats Episode 394: A Midsummer's Thucydides with Kori Schake:

For a man who last walked the Earth almost 2,500 years ago, 2017 has been a great year for Thucydides.

The old Greek historian is having quite a renaissance. Of course, he's always been there, but the Whitehouse is interested in him, so everyone else is as well, especially with regard to the often mentioned, "Thucydides’s Trap."

For those not familiar with his work, The History Of The Peloponnesian War, in her article, "The Summer of Misreading Thucydides" earlier this month in The Atlantic, our guest this week outlines where people should focus.

Thucydides is often associated with hard-edged realism, as in the quote “the strong do what they will, the weak suffer what they must.” ... But it’s important to remember that those views are one thread in a tapestry—Thucydides recounts the views of the war's combatants, but he doesn’t endorse them. In fact, the states that profess those hard-edged sentiments are plunged into ruin by them.

When and how they take the plunge has, at the crucial moments of decision, everything to do with rambunctious crowds or ambitious usurpers of their betters egging on policies that result in the destruction of their state’s power.

For this and related topics, please join us this Sunday with our guest
Kori Schake for the full hour.

Kori is a research fellow at the Hoover Institution. She teaches Thinking About War at Stanford, and with Jim Mattis edited Warriors and Citizens: American Views on Our Military. Her book on the Anglo-American hegemonic transition comes out from Harvard in the fall.
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 Is Old Radio Day: Nick Carter, Master Detective "The Case of the Persistant Beggers" (1947)

From the pages of dime novels to the radio - detective Nick Carter with his friends -

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

From the U.S. Navy Office of Naval Research: Updating Flashing Light Transmission to "Text Conversion"

Faster tansmission of needed information during periods of electronic emission control using the old Navy signal lamps - but with a modern twist as described in this ONR press release:
The signal lamp aboard the guided-missile destroyer USS Stout flashed fast light bursts to the USS Monterey, located pierside 250 feet away. Aboard the Monterey, a guided-missile cruiser, its own signal lamp used a mounted GoPro camera to receive the incoming Morse code—which then was converted into text appearing on an accompanying handheld device.

Peering at the device connected to the Monterey’s signal lamp, Scott Lowery chuckled as one word popped up on the screen: “random.”

“I asked them to text me something random, so they signaled the word ‘random,’ ” said Lowery, an engineer at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Panama City, Florida. “Simple, but it shows the system is working.”

Lowery recently was at Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, conducting a demonstration of the Flashing Light to Text Converter (FLTC)—a ship-to-ship communication system that he’s helped develop to enable U.S. Navy vessels to use their signal lamps to text message each other.

Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) TechSolutions program, FLTC features (1) a camera that can be mounted atop a signal lamp and hone in on Morse code bursts from another lamp within view, and (2) a hand-held device or laptop computer connected to this camera to display text messages sent and received.

Linking the commercially available camera and device is a proprietary converter that uses specialized software algorithms to process incoming light flashes into high-frequency signals—and then convert those into text messages. To reply to a text, a Sailor can use the device to type a response that is sent back as a Morse code message via specially powered LED lights that flash automatically.

Since World War II, the process for sending messages using signal lamps has barely changed. It requires someone trained in Morse code to operate the lamp’s shutter by hand, and involves a lot of time receiving, decoding, and replying to messages. Using FLTC, Sailors can quickly and easily type and send messages—with fewer mistakes—even if they don’t know Morse code.

“The best part of this flashing light converter is how easy it is for Sailors to use,” said Lowery. “It’s very intuitive because it mirrors the messaging systems used on iPhones. You just type your message and send it with the push of a button.”

FLTC also would be useful in certain “communications-denied” scenarios at sea where satellite communications is risky or unavailable, said ONR Command Master Chief Matt Matteson.

“FLTC could be extremely valuable if a ship’s main communications go down or if it needs to maintain a low electronic signature to avoid detection by an adversary,” he said.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Oil and Gas in the South China Sea - Bones of Contention

This might be behind the paywall at the Oil & Gas Journal, but it's an interesting problem surfacing soon in the South China Sea Plan for Philippines bid round escalates drama with China:
Territorial conflict intensifies in the South China Sea.

The Philippines government plans to resume oil, gas, and coal licensing of acreage that includes offshore areas over which China asserts control.
A year ago, in a case brought by the Philippines, the Permanent Court of Arbitration rejected Chinese claims to waters the island nation says lie within its exclusive economic zone.
China’s determination to ignore the ruling will be tested by a bidding round in December.
On July 13, Ismael Ocampo, director of the Department of Energy’s Resource Development Bureau, told reporters in Manila that the offering will include blocks on Rector Bank, the Philippines designation of Reed Bank.
China says history shows Reed Bank is Chinese. The arbitration court
The Philippines suspended exploration in the disputed area late in 2014 but craves domestically produced energy, now far below its expanding requirements.
... Vietnam’s largely unchallenged exploration in disputed waters might have emboldened Duterte to test Beijing’s resolve with the bidding round.
Or maybe Duterte felt obliged, for political reasons, to address his allegations of bullying.
In May, Duterte said that at a meeting of the Association of South East Asian Nations, Chinese President Xi Jingping warned him not to implement the arbitration ruling, saying doing so would provoke war ...
Xi, according to Duterte, insisted China would explore for oil and gas where the Philippines government now says it will sanction drilling.
At this stage in an escalating drama, there’s no clear script plotting a tidy finale.
Earlier coverage of this issue at The Diplomat by Jeremy Maxey Philippines Faces Post-Arbitration Dilemma Over Reed Bank:
Considering the risks and tradeoffs, Beijing may instead choose to engage in a potentially less destabilizing option—presenting Manila with a choice between China’s unilateral exploration of Reed Bank or joint development on China’s terms. This could prove a compelling proposition for Manila since Reed Bank (Recto Bank), located approximately 80 nautical miles northwest of Palawan within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) but claimed by China, is thought to hold one of the highest concentration of undiscovered resources within the SCS—764 million to 2.2 billion barrels of oil and 7.6 Tcf to 22 Tcf of natural gas.

While Reed Bank’s potential resources are modest relative to China’s massive energy consumption, the area is essential to Philippine future
energy security. In particular, the Philippines is looking to develop Reed Bank to replace the Malampaya gas field, also located offshore west of Palawan, that is expected to be depleted by 2024-2030. The Malampaya gas-to-power project, led by Royal Dutch Shell, currently supplies about 30 percent of the electricity demand of Luzon, the largest and most populous island in the Philippines.

Indeed, geography and economics suggest that the most viable option to monetize Reed Bank gas is the Philippine market. This implies that although China may flagrantly engage in unilateral exploration, it is highly unlikely to unilaterally develop the gas without first locking in the Philippine market. This is politically impossible without Philippine participation, which means that joint development may be the only pragmatic way forward. Manila’s only other option is to hold an offshore licensing round with the expectation of developing Reed Bank through a consortium of international oil majors over Chinese objections.