Flight Ops

Flight Ops

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: "John Steele, Adventurer"

About John Steele, Adventurer:
John Steele was the type of roving adventurer and thrill seeker who held various jobs in exotic locations. Among his career paths were country sheriff, special agent in Turkey and a ship’s captain.
As he says in the opening of the following show,
"At best in a lifetime we experience one exciting moment that makes for a real story, yet each one of us has had one such happening that stands out above all the rest . . ."

Thursday, October 20, 2016

"U.S. has lost" - Philippines Chooses the Strong Horse says its President

Leadership is an odd thing, since so much of it depends on perception - and the current president of the Philippines has perceived that China is the big dog in his region, as Reuters reports in "Duterte says U.S. has lost, aligns Philippines with China":
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced his "separation" from the United States on Thursday, declaring that it had "lost" and he had realigned with China as the two agreed to resolve their South China Sea dispute through talks.

Duterte made his comments in China, where he is visiting with at least 200 business people to pave the way for what he calls a new commercial alliance as relations with longtime ally the United States deteriorate.

His trade secretary, Ramon Lopez, said $13.5 billion in deals would be signed

Duterte's efforts to engage China, months after a tribunal ruling in the Hague over South China Sea disputes in favor of the Philippines, marks a reversal in foreign policy since the 71-year-old former mayor took office on June 30.

"America has lost now," Duterte told Chinese and Philippine business people at a forum in the Great Hall of the People, attended by Chinese Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli.

"I've realigned myself in your ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world - China, Philippines and Russia. It's the only way," he added.
Lord Palmerston had it right:
“We have no eternal allies, and we have no perpetual enemies. Our interests are eternal and perpetual, and those interests it is our duty to follow.”
President Duterte may not be everyone's cup of tea, but he does seem to have a strong view of where the interests of the Republic of the Philippines lie. He's decided that China is the stronger horse, or as that now dead chap Osama bin Laden said:
“When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, by nature, they will like the strong horse”
While thinking about protecting U.S. interests in the Pacific, it might be time to look hard at those islands that are U.S. territory out there in the Pacific, like Wake, Midway, etc, and building up our attack submarine force.

UPDATE: Vietnam announces an "enemy of my enemy is my friend" hedging strategy as set out here:
Vietnam supports US “intervention” in the Asia-Pacific if it helps keep peace and stability, the defence ministry said, in a timely endorsement of a continued U.S. presence amid uncertainty over Washington’s faltering “pivot”.
Vice-defence minister, Senior Lieutenant General Nguyen Chi Vinh, met on Monday with Cara Abercrombie, the US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defence for South and Southeast Asia, and told her Vietnam backed a positive US role.
The general’s words of support, conveyed by a normally reclusive defence ministry, come when the United States most needs them, with its “rebalance” – aimed at boosting its Asian foothold and tempering China’s rise – now under strain in the run-up to a US presidential election.
Vinh “affirmed that Vietnam will support the US and other partners to intervene in the region as long as it brings peace, stability and prosperity”, he said in a statement.
Vietnam will support the US and other partners to intervene in the region as long as it brings peace, stability and prosperity.
At the dialogue, Abercrombie said the United States would not change its rebalance strategy, the statement added.
Washington’s traditional defence alliances in Southeast Asia are currently being tested, with ties with Thailand frosty since a 2014 coup and questions about the future of a tight military relationship with the Philippines under volatile new President Rodrigo Duterte, a staunch US critic.
You might note that Vietnam has couched its "support" with a few "ifs."

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Fun with Iran: Iran's Single-Handed Battle with "Somali Pirates" goes on and on

While the rest of the world's merchant fleets have enjoyed a respite from Somali pirate attacks ("Sea piracy drops to 21-year low"), Iran's apparently "pirate magnet" merchant shipping continues to suffer - at least according to the fabulistic Iranian media - with reports like this from Iran's Mehr "News" Agency "Navy’s 44th fleet thwarts pirate attacks in Gulf of Aden":
TEHRAN, Oct. 17 (MNA) – Iran’s 44th naval fleet has foiled pirate attacks on two Iranian tankers during days of its presence in the open waters and the Gulf of Aden.
Early on Monday morning, pirates of Gulf of Aden, who mainly come from Somali coasts, sought to carry out a raid and highjack an Iranian merchant ship though they were forced to flee following a heavy exchange of fire by 44th Fleet of Army’s Navy.

On two more occasions, first with eight pirate speedboats at 46 miles to south of Aden and later with thirteen well-equipped boats at 55 miles to south of Yemen, pirates were about to launch an assault on another Iranian vessel but they were forced to retreat when they came under heavy fire from the 44th fleet of the Iranian navy.

Navy’s 44th Fleet, consisting of Alvand and Bushehr logistical destroyers, had left Bushehr to explore uncharted waters on October 05.
Good golly, there are enough fabrications in those few paragraphs to sink the Iranian "logistical destroyers" without any assaults by hordes of pirate speedboats.

The "uncharted waters" of the northern Indian Ocean? Really? I guess the thousands of ships plying those waters must be lost and lucky to find there way from one port to another. Good thing they all have GPS to keep them informed of their location or they would have to wait for the Iranian's 44th Fleet (a two-ship "fleet?") to chart those water for them.

Why the Iranians bother with these bogus reports is quite the question, but they do provide some comic relief, so they've got that going for them.

By way of example, let's look at the nice maps provided by our friends at International Maritime Bureau's Live Piracy Map:
2016 to date 

Hmm. Thanks to a number of naval forces and the continuing use of armed guards on merchant ships, there seems to be a remarkable lack of pirate action out there in the northern Indian Ocean, doesn't there?

And, as noted here several times, Iran's "fleet" consists of what most folks would call a "frigate" and a as its companion.

All of this must be meant for internal consumption, because no one else could fall for this nonsense.

Monday, October 17, 2016

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 13 September - 12 October 2016

Special Warning for the Bab-el-Mandeb chokepoint:
NGA Special Warning 134: Red Sea, Bab-el-Mandeb Strait and Gulf of Aden Commercial vessels in the region of the Red Sea, Bab el Mandeb Strait and the Gulf of Aden should operate under a heightened state of alert as increasing tensions in the region escalate the potential for direct or collateral damage to vessels transiting the region. These threats may come from a variety of different sources such as missiles, projectiles or waterborne improvised explosive devices. Houthi rebels claimed responsibility for an 01 October attack on a UAE vessel. Vessels in the region should report hostile activities immediately and contact coalition naval forces . . .

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Suspense "The Man in the Fog"

From Suspense:
Suspense is a radio drama series broadcast on CBS Radio from 1942 through 1962.
Here's show from 1961:

The show's opening phrase was often parodied, as in this Mad Magazine cover: