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Monday, October 31, 2005

A program to help with port security and cargo flow

Read all about it here:
Horschel said authorities in charge of a U.S. seaport could use the software to figure out the "threshold" at which specific security measures or policy "would change supplier and consumer behavior."

The program can also be used to analyze security systems at airports or pedestrian border crossings. It can help authorities decide the best way to deploy personnel and even to plan the layout of a border checkpoint.
Sounds a lot like Operations Research to me...

Life in the NAG

Important and mostly boring as reported here.

I certainly hope a Nimitz class CV is dhow-resistant. I wouildn't want the Ensign to miss his beauty rest....

What Americans do..

Help for the Mississippi Gulf Coast is still on-going as reported here.

This will make you feel better: The Mysterious Suitcase Nukes

Read this and relax just a little.

Of course, if you want to worry, go here or here.

Photo of a US Special Atomic Demolition Munition liberated from the files of the Brookings Institute.

Seal defends itself against do-gooder

Reported here. Let sleeping seals lie.

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Terrorism? In any event, disgusting

So there's this video available here involving a grocery store in Dallas, some pastries, some fecal matter and a disgusting waste of a human being who decided to sprinkle the feces on the pastries in order to...what exactly? Make someone sick? Punish the Fiesta grocery chain? Set up lawsuits?

According to the report, the FBI made the arrest but determined "national security" was not involved.

If this guy is convicted, I hope he is given his just desserts...

Hat tip to: Jihad Watch

Big Oil Pays Off

While the politicians rant about the profits "Big Oil" is making, there is underlying fact that the real money in the oil business is being skimmed off by government, as is discussed here:
With BP, Exxon-Mobil, and Shell reporting record profits, the Tax Foundation reminds us in its latest Fiscal Fact that the biggest beneficiaries of gasoline sales are federal and state governments, not the oil industry
And you might note that there is some discussion about getting tax rates up to reduce consumption. Meanwhile spending on pork barrel projects goes on and on.

H/T to Instapundit

Saturday, October 29, 2005

Disappearing news -Australians attacked by pirates?

My news retriever picked up these this morning:

Aussie family attacked by pirates safe
Sydney Morning Herald - Sat, 29 Oct 10:48:46 2005
An Australian family has been attacked by armed pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The family, two adults and two children aged six and nine, have been rescued by a Saudi Arabian tanker who was alerted by Australian Search and Rescue.
Aussie family attacked by pirates safe
AAP via Yahoo! Australia & NZ News - Sat, 29 Oct 10:33:31 2005
An Australian family who were attacked by armed pirates in the Gulf of Aden have been rescued by a Saudi Arabian tanker.
The Age - Sat, 29 Oct 10:51:42 2005
An Australian family has been attacked by armed pirates in the Gulf of Aden. The family, two adults and two children aged six and nine, have been rescued by a Saudi Arabian tanker who was alerted by Australian Search and Rescue.
However, when I click on the links, I get this. Odd.

UPDATE 10/31/05: Commenter Aussie gets us to the right path. See comment 1 below. And a tip of the hat to Aussie, a LCDR in the RANR! Thanks, mate.

US "mystery" ship in Philippines---explained

Following up on a prior post concerning the allegations of a Filipino legislator who wanted a US ship seized here:
A US diplomat said there was no mystery beclouding the presence of an American navy vessel seen anchored at a wharf here last week.

US Charge de Affairs Scott Bellard issued the statement during the turnover of the humanitarian goods Thursday following local and national media reports that a mysterious US warship was sighted and photographed near the shore of this city.

The ship that was sighted and photographed and published in local and national newspapers looked the same as that of the High-Speed Vessel-X1 (HSV-X1) named as the USS Joint Venture that docked Thursday here to unload US$750,000 or P42 million worth of humanitarian goods in this southern port city.

Earlier reports alleged that the ship carried US servicemen to engage in hunting members of an Asian terrorist group believed to be behind the latest bombing in Bali, Indonesia.

“There is no mystery about the ship behind me today,” Bellard said Thursday during the ceremony where he turned over the humanitarian goods to local officials. “It will be used for humanitarian mission,” he added.

The USS Joint Venture unloaded hospital equipment, educational supplies, sewing machines and baby formula that were donated by a US-based non-governmentorganization known as the Share Futures and Ed Artis.

Friday, October 28, 2005

Latest ONI World Wide Threat to Shipping (26 October 2005)

Go here and click on the date. Highlight:
1. HIJACKINGS OFF THE COAST OF SOMALIA CONTINUE: Two more at sea merchant vessel hijackings on 18 and 20 October off the east coast of Somalia demonstrate pirate’s ability to conduct at sea hijackings from as far south as Kismayo (02 deg South lat) to as far north as Eyl (08 deg North lat) and out to a distance of 170 NM. All vessels are advised to remain at least 200 NM from the east coast of Somalia. All merchant vessels transiting the coast of Somalia, no matter how far offshore, should increase anti-piracy precautions and maintain a heightened state of vigilance. Pirates are reported to have used previously hijacked ships as bases for further attacks. Another reported pirate tactic has been to issue a false distress call to lure a ship close inshore. Therefore, caution should be taken when responding to distress calls keeping in mind it may be a tactic to lure a vessel into a trap. Victimized vessels report two to three 6 to 9 meter speedboats with 3 to 6 armed men per vessel armed with AK-47s and shoulder launched rockets, opening fire on their vessels in broad daylight in order to intimidate them into stopping. To date, vessels that increase speed and take evasive maneuvers avoid boarding while those that slow down are boarded, taken to the Somali coastline, and released after successful ransom payment, often after protracted negotiations of as much as 11 weeks (ONI).

Everybody except China has a meeting a about security

Wonder if China get paranoid? (silly question) This probably doesn't help:
China did not join the chiefs of defense forces of 22 nations of the Asia-Pacific region who have just completed their eighth annual conference at the Pearl Harbor HQ of the United States Pacific Command. Under the theme "Shaping Collective Efforts to Counter Transnational Threats," they discussed cooperation in maritime security, countering terrorism, weapons of mass destruction proliferation and the possible avian flu pandemic.

Almost everybody turned up, including Australia, Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Canada, Comoros, Fiji, France, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mauritius, Mongolia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Singapore, South Korea, Thailand, Timor Leste and Tonga.

"The CHODs Conference provides a tremendous opportunity for us to collectively discuss the important issues at the forefront of Pacific militaries," said U.S. Navy Adm. William J. Fallon, Commander, U.S. Pacific Command.

"We tackle these issues day-to-day, but this week we get the varied perspectives all in one room, and together drive closer to solutions," he continued. "Through meetings like this, we are able to build upon our strong military-to-military relations with our friends and to define better ways to work together. This forum allowed us to be open and frank in our discussions."
To be fair, Taiwan and Russia and didn't come either.

Making piracy pay: Ransom will be paid for Ukranian ship held by Somali pirates

Reported here:
The Ukrainian company that owns the cargo ship seized 10 days ago by pirates off the Somali coast will pay a ransom to free the 22 sailors, President Viktor Yushchenko's chief-of-staff said Oct. 28.

The pirates hijacked the vessel, Panagia, on Oct. 18 about 100 miles (160 kilometers) off the Somali coast.

The company is ready to pay the $700,000 (585,000 euros) ransom demanded by the pirates, Oleh Rybachuk told reporters, but refused to name the company, saying only that it was based in Ukraine's southern city of Odessa.
Furhter on in the article it is reported
Piracy is rampant near the coast of Somalia, an important shipping route. The African nation has had no effective central government since opposition leaders ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. The opposition then turned on each other, transforming the nation of 7 million into a patchwork of battling fiefdoms ruled by heavily armed militias.

Pirates have launched 23 attacks against ships off Somalia's coast since March 15, according to the London-based International Maritime Bureau, which tracks piracy around the world. Experts argue against paying ransom, warning that it only encourages the pirates, but many companies resort to the payments, saying that they have few other alternatives.
Paying won't make the problem just proves to the pirates that they are beyond any law.

One man's tribute to Rosa Parks

Barry Saunder, a columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer, provides a perspective that most Americans have forgotten:
I rode the bus Wednesday. That's it; end of story. I sauntered aboard that bad boy just as big as you please and sat in every unoccupied seat except the driver's.
Unlike most of the riders I talked to, I wasn't riding because of high gas prices or because it was my only mode of transportation.

I didn't even have anyplace to go. It was just my tribute to Rosa Parks.

As a further tribute, I went to a movie -- and for the first time sat right on the front row. My eyes are still paying for it, too. How'd y'all do that all of those years?

I later went to stores and tried on coats, shoes, even a hat -- all things I couldn't have done before Parks sat down on that Montgomery, Ala., bus in 1955 and demanded her rights.

You know how young people today wear oversize trousers? Some people think that anti-fashion trend started in prison. Maybe so, but it could just as easily have started from the pre-Rosa 1950s, when black parents bought their sons' pants too big because stores forbade them to try them on. Buying them too big, although unfashionable, at least gave you margin for error.

I took my son along to the stores Wednesday and let him know that the things we take for granted -- trying on clothes, eating in restaurants, sitting at the front of the theater -- were once verboten.

"Aw, Dad, you've told me that a hundred times," he groaned, seemingly unimpressed. Of course, many 16-year-old boys aren't impressed by much outside of girls, music and that reverse layup Iverson hit in a recent game.

The only way I'll know if my walking history tour worked is if, 20 years from now, he takes his own kid and reminds him of the price paid by Parks and others for them to enjoy their current rights.
Some things are worth remembering. And honoring those who fought for freedom is one way to keep the memory alive. Thank you, Mr. Saunders.

China: India good, US not so good as South East Asia region sea power

China says:
China has no problems with India playing a greater role in patrolling important sea-lanes like the Malacca Strait to prevent piracy and other crimes at sea but is opposed to a strong US presence in regional waters, Chinese Ambassador Sun Yuxi has said.

... Ambassador Sun indicated that Beijing did not favour the presence of powers from outside the Southeast Asian region, such as the US, in patrolling these waters and protecting the hundreds of ships that use them.

"Now, geographically, you (India) have access to that area. As far as India is concerned, we don't have any problem (with its naval ships patrolling these waters)," Sun said.

He was responding to a question about reports that the US wanted the Indian Navy to maintain a vigil on the Malacca Strait and about Chinese concerns on this issue.

"But if (the) Americans come and put their battleships there, we might worry about it," Sun asserted.

Sun pointed out that patrolling of the Malacca Strait by the Indian Navy would be beneficial in protecting the large number of merchant ships that carry vital cargo like energy supplies to China.

"India is now our strategic partner, and it is true that due to lots of trade, a very big number of cargo ships go through there (Malacca Strait). So, that is something like (the) lifeline of Chinese foreign trade," he pointed out.

"Lots of petroleum tankers pass through there. So we hope our Indian friends can provide very good protection to the straits there. And we can go more smoothly."

Like India, China is dependent on oil imports from the Gulf to meet much of its energy needs.

Thursday, October 27, 2005

Best comment about North Korea ever

One Free Korea has it here through the link at the end of this telling report about the Potemkin village that is the DPRK.

And Muhammad Ali said it.

International Conference Amends Maritime Treaties on Unlawful Acts

Some important changes noted here. More specific new terms:
2005 Protocol to the SUA Convention
Among the unlawful acts covered by the SUA Convention in Article 3 are the seizure of ships by force; acts of violence against persons on board ships; and the placing of devices on board a ship which are likely to destroy or damage it.

The 2005 Protocol to the SUA Convention adds a new Article 3bis which states that a person commits an offence within the meaning of the Convention if that person unlawfully and intentionally:

· when the purpose of the act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international organization to do or to abstain from any act:
- uses against or on a ship or discharging from a ship any explosive, radioactive material or BCN (biological, chemical, nuclear) weapon in a manner that causes or is likely to cause death or serious injury or damage;
- discharges, from a ship, oil, liquefied natural gas, or other hazardous or noxious substance, in such quantity or concentration that causes or is likely to cause death or serious injury or damage;
- uses a ship in a manner that causes death or serious injury or damage;
· transports on board a ship any explosive or radioactive material, knowing that it is intended to be used to cause, or in a threat to cause, death or serious injury or damage for the purpose of intimidating a population, or compelling a Government or an international organization to do or to abstain from doing any act;
· transports on board a ship any BCN weapon, knowing it to be a BCN weapon;
· any source material, special fissionable material, or equipment or material especially designed or prepared for the processing, use or production of special fissionable material, knowing that it is intended to be used in a nuclear explosive activity or in any other nuclear activity not under safeguards pursuant to an IAEA comprehensive safeguards agreement; and
· transports on board a ship any equipment, materials or software or related technology that significantly contributes to the design, manufacture or delivery of a BCN weapon, with the intention that it will be used for such purpose.
The transportation of nuclear material is not considered an offence if such item or material is transported to or from the territory of, or is otherwise transported under the control of, a State Party to the Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Subject to conditions).

Under the new instrument, a person commits an offence within the meaning of the Convention if that person unlawfully and intentionally transports another person on board a ship knowing that the person has committed an act that constitutes an offence under the SUA Convention or an offence set forth in any treaty listed in the Annex. The Annex lists nine such treaties.

The new instrument also makes it an offence to unlawfully and intentionally injure or kill any person in connection with the commission of any of the offences in the Convention; to attempt to commit an offence; to participate as an accomplice; to organize or direct others to commit an offence; or to contribute to the commissioning of an offence.

A new Article requires Parties to take necessary measures to enable a legal entity (this could be a company or organization, for example) to be made liable and to face sanctions when a person responsible for management of control of that legal entity has, that capacity, committed an offence under the Convention.

Boarding provisions
Article 8 of the SUA Convention covers the responsibilities and roles of the master of the ship, flag State and receiving State in delivering to the authorities of any State Party any person believed to have committed an offence under the Convention, including the furnishing of evidence pertaining to the alleged offence.

A new Article 8bis in the 2005 Protocol covers co-operation and procedures to be followed if a State Party desires to board a ship flying the flag of a State Party when the requesting Party has reasonable grounds to suspect that the ship or a person on board the ship is, has been, or is about to be involved in, the commission of an offence under the Convention.

The authorization and co-operation of the flag State is required before such a boarding. A State Party may notify the IMO Secretary-General that it would allow authorization to board and search a ship flying its flag, its cargo and persons on board if there is no response from the flag State within four hours. A State Party can also notify that it authorizes a requesting Party to board and search the ship, its cargo and persons on board, and to question the persons on board to determine if an offence has been, or is about to be, committed.

The use of force is to be avoided except when necessary to ensure the safety of officials and persons on board, or where the officials are obstructed to the execution of authorized actions.

Article 8bis includes important safeguards when a State Party takes measures against a ship, including boarding. The safeguards include: not endangering the safety of life at sea; ensuring that all persons on board are treated in a manner which preserves human dignity and in keeping with human rights law; taking due account of safety and security of the ship and its cargo; ensuring that measures taken are environmentally sound; and taking reasonable efforts to avoid a ship being unduly detained or delayed. (source)

DHS has some plans - for maritime security

This report (free subscription needed) says:
he Department of Homeland Security in collaboration with the Department of Defense and Department of State has announced the completion and final approval for eight plans supporting the National Strategy for Maritime Security.

These plans include: Maritime Commerce Security, Maritime Transportation Systems Security, Maritime Infrastructure Recovery, Maritime Operational Threat Response, Maritime Domain Awareness, Global Maritime Intelligence Integration, and Domestic and International Outreach...
...In remarks today, U.S. Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Thomas Collins, Assistant Secretary of Defense Paul McHale and U.S. Coast Guard Admiral Timothy Sullivan, the Senior Military Advisor to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, discussed today's complex maritime security environment, praising the Strategy and its supporting plans as an important first step to protect U.S. interests in the maritime domain. The three speakers stressed the importance of collaboration among the many government and private industry entities that have a stake in maritime security.

"The public and private sectors at all levels have important roles to play as we protect our interests in the maritime domain," Admiral Collins stated. "These plans build on the strategy of a layered defense as the government and private-sector improve their coordination during maritime incidents. Working together internationally and domestically, we will increase the transparency of people, cargo, conveyances and facilities operating in the maritime domain."

Indian Air Force thinks big

Reported here:
The IAF is now thinking big. It wants to evolve into an "expeditionary force", on the lines of the US Air Force, with "a strategic reach" far beyond national frontiers.

The IAF, though the fourth largest air force in the world after US, Russia and China, knows the concept of an expeditionary force, with the ability to rapidly deploy and operate anywhere in the world, is slightly premature at this juncture.

But, IAF believes the time is soon approaching when it will have to be ready to deploy and operate at least in the geographical extent of India’s national security environment extending from the Persian Gulf to the Malacca Straits.
IAF chief Air Chief Marshal S P Tyagi last week itself told his top commanders the Force needed to strive towards its objective of "strategic reach" and "network-centric operations".
Okay. The more the merrier.

Too many needless deaths

As the death toll creeps upward this year and new milestones are reached as the cumulative death toll rises with each death, I have reached the conclusion that the sole answer is to get Americans out of harm's way.

We must find a way to correct the flawed designs that wreak havoc with American lives. Especially when so many involved are young and innocent, attracted by slick advertising and promises of a route to an education.

I know this conclusion will surprise many who are familiar with my background, but I cannot see how any thinking, sensitive American can stand idly by any longer. The President must be compelled to act!

As set out here, while the death rate has dropped recently, deaths still pile up. And so many of them because of departure from the intended path. I am surprised we haven't heard from Senator Kennedy on this departure from course.

And while protection for Americans is getting better, some of it is obviously too little, too late in coming. I blame the government for putting Americans at risk before all possible protective devices are in place. The Executive Branch has invested vast sums in having expensive strategic plans (and here) developed, but the deaths continue.

I will burn candles and join in marches to stop the slaughter. Enough is enough.

UPDATE: Lex has some thoughts I certainly agree with here.
UPDATE2: Interesting distinctions being drawn by Dymphna at Gates of Vienna.
UPDATE3: And El Jefe has thoughts here

Miers Withdraws Supreme Court Nomination

Miers withdraws.

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Machiavelli attacked by pirates

Story here:
AN INCIDENT-PACKED journey from Turkey to New Zealand has caused serious delays to the arrival of a huge dredge that will transform Port Taranaki into the deepest export port in the country.

The crew of the tug towing the 53m dredge Machiavelli was attacked by pirates off the coast of India during the trip. And the tug's skipper is missing several front teeth after being hit by a rope in wild seas during one of several major storms.

The tug and the dredge have recently passed Rabaul, north of the Solomon Islands, and are expected to arrive at Port Taranaki next week -- several weeks late.

I would have thought we had plans before this....

Odd report here:
The U.S. needs to move beyond responding to disasters and instead develop plans to prevent terrorist attacks, Adm. Timothy Keating, commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command and U.S. Northern Command, said Tuesday.

Keating's vision of a national homeland security plan would coordinate governmental agencies and military and civilian organizations into a unified team.

"We're proposing a strategy that would address all the complexities of preventing an attack," said Keating, keynote speaker at a three-day Homeland Defense Symposium. "We need the integration of intelligence so we can go after a target before it approaches."

He said Hurricanes Katrina and Rita revealed serious gaps in the ability of agencies and the military to communicate and coordinate responses.

The military, with its clear lines of command and control, should be tapped to take the lead in situations of "Biblical proportions," Keating said.

This could be done without violating federal law prohibiting the military from performing domestic law enforcement, he said.

Philippines: Top terror suspect captured

Story here:
OVERNMENT security forces have captured the leader of an extremist group which had allegedly been planning a wave of bombings in Metro Manila, in a raid in Zamboanga City, the military announced yesterday.

Police and military intelligence officials described the arrest of Hilarion del Rosario Santos, alias Ahmed Santos or Abu Lakay, along with at least five other people, as a "big blow" to the regional terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah and its local affiliate, the Abu Sayyaf Group.

The authorities have said that the JI and ASG had been using Santos' band of Islamic converts, who mostly come from Luzon and style themselves as the Rajah Solaiman Movement, or RSM, to plan and, when possible, carry out bombings in the capital.

While the Abu Sayyaf had claimed responsibility for the sinking of an inter-island ship that killed more that 100 people last year, some intelligence reports say the RSM was also involved in the attack...
...Santos, who was to be flown to Manila yesterday afternoon, walked with a limp and appeared to be in a daze when Southern Command chief Lieutenant General Edilberto Adan presented him to reporters in Zamboanga City. He was not allowed to talk to reporters, however.

Up to something

"He's still undergoing tactical interrogation. We believe the group was up to something big during the long holiday," Adan said, referring to next week's holidays to mark the Roman Catholic All Saints Day and the end of Ramadan for Muslims.

The Astros, Phil Garner and Regression to the Mean

Disclaimer: I remain an Astro's fan.
Out of frustration, Phil Garner of the Astros has gotten a little angry about his team's seeming inability to move runners from scoring position to home plate. Frustration is an ugly thing. Not as ugly and as silly as portrayed by Sport Illustrated's Tom Verducci here, but pretty ugly. About 2 am with the Astros pitching some guy who could not find the plate with a seeing eye dog, I was a little frustrated myself. However, it is not for nothing I toiled for several minutes in my beer-soaked college and grad school days on statistics and probabilities - it was so I could grasp batting averages, ERAs and all that other stuff that had to do with earning a living, too.

And so, at the crack of dawn, I began to ponder why we (Phil and I) would expect a lifetime .250 hitter who was batting .500 for the series to continue hitting at a torrid pace instead of reverting to his normal batting average and suddenly not being able to hit a lick until his average dropped back to .250? And the answer is that we had forgotten (in our fevered hopes that reality wouldn't pound on our baseball fantasy of the Astros winning the World Series) the concept of Regression to the Mean. Or, as bright people say,
Regression to the mean is a technical term in probability and statistics. It means that, left to themselves, things tend to return to normal, whatever that is.
Thereby hangs the tale of one Astro, playing centerfield during this series, named Willy Taveras. Mr. Taveras hit .270 during the regular season. One can assume that he will hit .270 during the World Series. Now, going into last night's game, he was hitting over .400 (now, after an awful night, down to .308). Regression to the Mean suggests that he will not continue at that pace, but stop getting hits until he reaches his mean, all other things being equal. Perhaps the quality of the White Sox pitching is driving averages down, but many of the Astros are hitting (in the Series) well below their regular season averages. Biggio (WS .214, Reg .264), Ensberg (WS .143, Reg .283), Lane (WS .214, Reg .267), Everitt (WS .083, Reg .248), Lamb (WS .125, Reg .236), Burke (WS .000, Reg .248). Only Berkman seems to be feasting on Chicago pitching (WS .417, Reg .293).

No wonder Garner is frustrated!

Now, it may not happen, but I would hope some of the Astros will begin to regress to their normal averages (which would mean a hit fest)-- really soon, like tonight!

If not, they won't get another chance.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Latest piracy report from ICC Commercial Crime Services (to 24 October 2005)

For the latest piracy report from ICC Commercial Crime Services go here. Highlights:
20.10.2005 at 0747 UTC in position 02:13N - 049:44E, Somalia. Pirates armed with guns attacked a product tanker underway. They hijacked the tanker and proceeded to an unknown destination. Further details awaited.

18.10.2005 at 1250 UTC in position 06:59.18N - 051:08.39E, about 90 miles east of Somali coast, Somalia. Pirates armed with guns in speedboats fired upon a bulk carrier underway. They hijacked her and took her close to Somali coast. Further details awaited.

India to host 16 countries in workshop on "Cooperative Maritime Security"

Reported here:
About sixty delegates from the Navy and Coast Guards of 16 countries were expected to participate in a three-day ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) workshop on 'Training for Cooperative Maritime Security' commencing here tomorrow.
The attendee list includes "Canada, China, Philippines, Indonesia, Japan, malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, New Zealand, Russia, Singapore, USA, Vietnam." Interesting group...

China wants to play role in Malacca security

Reported here:
China has agreed to work closely with Singapore and the other regional countries to tackle the threat of terrorism and piracy in the Straits of Malacca.

The agreement was reached during a meeting of Chinese and Singapore delegates led by Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and his Chinese counterpart Wen Jiabao in Beijing on Tuesday...
...Mr Lee explored China's relations with the US and Japan.

China and the US, he said, would have to find ways to engage each other constructively to avoid misunderstanding and miscalculation.

As for China-Japan ties, the Singapore leader said both sides must move on and not be imprisoned by their history.

Asean countries, Mr Lee said, welcome closer ties with China but do not want to be exclusively dependent on China.

They do not want to be forced to choose between China and the US, or China and Japan.

Rather, Asean favours an open and inclusive approach which gives all the major powers a stake in Asia's regional architecture.

Prime Minister Lee said Singapore has benefited from a stable regional order and the best way to enhance this favourable environment is to have a successful China take an active interest in the region, alongside India, Japan and US which continue to play significant roles.

Singapore, he said, wants China to succeed and will participate in its transformation in whatever small way it can.

The Singapore leader also noted that as China becomes more interlinked with the rest of the world, it will have to adopt international norms, help tackle global problems like avian flu, and play an active role in global bodies.

Mudville Gazette puts up the post and quote of the day

Greyhawk does it all better over at Mudville Gazette and this post is my choice for post of the day and contains the quote of the day, too, from 1stLt Bruce Bishop, who seems to have his head screwed on right. Go, read it and enjoy!

One more reason to like Ozzie Guillen

Look, I'm an Astro's fan and a huge Craig Biggio fan. Before this World Series, I could not have identified a White Sox player or coach from this year's team. I'm not happy the Astros are down 2-0 to the Sox (though the Sox and the 'Stros seem to be cut from the same mold). But I like what I have seen of Ozzie Guillen and his comments over some jackass Sox fan annoying Biggio's wife have given me one more reason to like the guy. Reported as Guillen apologizes after Sox fan slaps Biggio's wife, but I like this:
White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen said Monday he was going to personally apologize to Biggio on Tuesday.

"I know the security in Chicago is doing a great job and when something happens so quickly, you can't blame anybody," Guillen said. "And the guy that did it, he should be brought to Biggio and he's the one who can hopefully get him back.

"I told the police, 'Don't put him in jail, bring him to me in the dugout,"' Guillen said.
I think a picture of the clown on national TV identifying him as a spineless wimp who would attack a woman might be called for, too, so that everyone can point to the jerk and know him for what he is...lower than pond scum.

Whither Japan?

Asia Times asks "Whither Japan?" here:
The current war-renouncing, pacifist constitution, drafted by the US occupation forces immediately after Japan's defeat in World War II, has never been altered. However, establishing a "self-imposed constitution" has been the LDP's credo since its 1955 founding, and the party has been in power almost uninterrupted during that period. It is the first time the LDP has proposed a new constitution in writing.

The LDP has almost completed its work on the draft constitution, and plans to adopt it on Friday ahead of the party convention on November 22 to mark its 50th anniversary.

The LDP draft calls for, among other things:

Rewriting Article 9 - the clause almost synonymous with Japan's post-war defense policy - to acknowledge clearly the existence of a "military for self-defense".
More active participation in international peace cooperation activities. The current constitution is widely interpreted as forbidding the possession of a military. Although, in reality, Japan has about 240,000 troops of the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) and one of the world's biggest defense expenditures, successive governments have explained away the contradiction by claiming that SDF is not a military.
Setting a nationalistic tone, with its preamble containing references to the "love of the nation" as well as Japan's tradition, history and culture. All these elements are missing from the current constitution.

Momentum for revising the constitution, which took effect in 1947, has mounted following the September11 general election, in which Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi's ruling LDP-led coalition won a landslide victory, garnering 327 seats - more than a two-thirds majority in the 480-seat Lower House.
Whatever Germany can do, Japan should be able to do. And, as far as I know, the restrictions on German's armed forces look nothing like the restrictions the Japanese have. Things change in 60 years...

Rep Weldon: Able Danger warned of attack on USS Cole

While I sometimes have felt that Rep. Weldon comes off as a little - overzealous- if this is true, I'm joining his crusade:
Senior Pentagon officials were warned not to let the USS Cole dock in Yemen two days before terrorists attacked the ship five years ago killing 17 sailors, according to Congressman Curt Weldon, who said the crucial intelligence was gleaned from the former secret defense operation, "Able Danger."

Weldon, vice chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, revealed the information in a House speech last Wednesday evening that blasted the Defense Intelligence Agency's (DIA) attempts to discredit Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer, a DIA employee who worked as a liaison with the "Able Danger" team.
In June, Shaffer told The Times Herald during an interview on Capitol Hill that the now-defunct data mining operation had linked Sept. 11 hijacker Mohamed Atta to an al-Qaida cell in Brooklyn in 2000 - more than a year before the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
The military's Special Operations Command ran the high-tech dragnet that searched for terrorist linkages. The terrorist associations were mapped out on large charts, according to Shaffer and other of "Able Danger" colleagues, during the program that operated between 1999 and 2001.
However, following Shaffer's attempts to broker an arrangement that would draw the FBI into the operation, the program was shut down.
Weldon and Shaffer believe "Able Danger" intelligence may have disrupted - or even prevented - the Sept. 11 attacks if it had continued.
In August, Navy Capt. Scott Phillpott and James D. Smith, a defense contractor, corroborated Shaffer's story.
On Wednesday, Weldon again criticized the Pentagon for dragging its feet in its probe of the defense program's history, and continued his criticism of the CIA, which he said tried to protect its own intelligence turf from other government intelligence agencies.
"What we have here, I am convinced of this now, is an aggressive attempt by CIA management to cover up their own shortcomings in not being able to do what the Able Danger team did," he said.
My, oh my!

Monday, October 24, 2005

Ben Bernanke: new Fed chair

Mr, Bernanke gets the endorsement of Professor Hamilton at Econbrowser here and Professor Samwick at Voxbaby here. If these smart economist guys like him, I'm on board.

Barry Ritholtz of the Big Picture likes the choice, too.

When people who know what they are talking about speak, I'm just smart enough to listen...

Help and bother

A call for help and then some nonsense here. The call for help:
An envoy yesterday urged the international community to help fight piracy in Somalia.

Kenyan ambassador to Somalia, Mohamed Affey, said the hijacking of ships had increased in the past four months, adding that such incidents threaten trade.
The nonsense:
And Foreign Affairs minister Ali Mwakwere has blamed the hijackings on ship companies.

Mwakwere warned ship owners in Kenya against venturing into Somalia without adequate security.

Mwakwere told ship owners that they would be held responsible should anything happen to seamen, as they had been warned to keep off the country.
By all means, protect the seamen, but "blamed the hijackings on ships companies?"

It's the "they were asking for it" defense.

U.S. participation in Malacca Strait air patrol welcome but to be limited

Jakarta Post says here:
Malaysia said Monday that nations bordering the piracy-prone Strait of Malacca were seeking United States participation in air patrols, but that it would only play a supporting role.

Defense Minister Najib Razak said the U.S. could provide aircraft for the "Eyes in the Sky" coordinated patrols launched by Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand last month.

But after briefing Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs Karen Hughes on the initiative, he emphasized that primary responsibility for security along the strategic waterway belonged to the Asian nations.

U.S. participation "must not undermine national sovereignty of the littoral states," Najib told reporters.

"The basic concept is that they can provide platforms but the consoles will be manned by persons from the littoral states, including Malaysia. If there needs to be any interception, that will be done by littoral states," he said.

Najib said "platforms" included providing aircraft, which under the scheme will communicate with Eyes in the Sky operations centers. But "the important thing is the consoles, the monitors,must be manned by our people," he said.

Breaking news: Two more ships hijacked by Somali pirates?

Reported here is an unconfirmed report that Somali pirates have seized another food ship bound for Somalia and a passing tanker.
"They say two more ships have been hijacked, we are still trying to know where in Somalia they were seized," said Andrew Mwangura, of the Kenyan branch of the global Seafarers organisation representing the maritime industry.
Mwangura told Reuters he was informed of the possible hijacking by colleagues in Dubai where both ships had embarked on their trips.
"The ship that was laden with oil was just passing Somalia, and the other one was carrying foodstuff destined for Somalia," he told Reuters from the port of Mombasa.
Details were vague, but Mwangura said one of the ships was registered in Nicaragua. He could not say how many crew members were on board the boats.

UPDATE: 1930, 14 Oct- It may well be that the tanker is the San Carlos, reported here and the food ship doesn't exist...more to follow.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Global Hawks to Guam?

Reported here:
Pacific Air Forces officials said that upon availability, the Air Force in fiscal year 2009 intends to begin bedding down four Global Hawks and the personnel needed to launch and recover the aircraft at the 21,000-acre base.[Eagle1 note: Anderson AFB]...
...The planes would be launched from Guam and controlled from Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii, Hester said at the briefing, according to a article. They could fly to the Sea of Japan or East China Sea and remain there for 16 hours, or to the Straits of Malacca and stay for 12 hours, before returning to Guam, he said.
Where America's day begins...

Operations Research education makes officers better decision-makers

Been doing some thinking about littoral warfare and wondering about the factors of speed of surface ships, quantity and firepower (and you might want to read this post at The Belmont Club which covers a lot of inshore matters, the Heart of Darkness and Thomas Barnett, too). Before digging Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat off my bookshelf again, I thought I'd do a little research on Capt. Wayne P. Hughes,Jr, its author.

Found a quote herethat is interesting:
According to retired Capt. Wayne Hughes, "OA is the curriculum for the line officer who aspires to command."
"You use OA when you are at sea or ashore," Hughes said. "It disciplines the way you organize your thinking, gather information, consider alternatives, see relationships, make forecasts and estimate the effectiveness of your decision -- or the decision you recommend to the boss."
OA is, of course, Operational Analysis, also known as Operations Research. And,it has useful, if sometimes counter-intuitive, applications:
Although foundations were laid earlier, the field of operations research as we know it arose during World War II, as military planners in the United Kingdom (including Frederick Lanchester, Patrick Blackett and Frank Yates) and in the United States looked for ways to make better decisions in such areas as logistics and training schedules. After the war it began to be applied to similar problems in industry...

...Blackett's team made a number of crucial analyses which aided the war effort. Britain introduced the convoy system to reduce shipping losses, but while the principle of using warships to accompany merchant ships was generally accepted, it was unclear whether it was better for convoys to be small or large. Convoys travel at the speed of the slowest member, so small convoys can travel faster. It was also argued that small convoys would be harder for German U-boats to detect. On the other hand, large convoys could deploy more warships against an attacker and also the proportion of merchant ships sunk by a U-boat would be lower. Blackett's staff clearly showed that:
-large convoys were more efficient
-the probability of detection by U-boat was statistically unrelated to the size of the convoy
-slow convoys were at greater risk (though considered overall, large convoys were still to be preferred)

In another piece of work, Blackett's team analysed a report of a survey carried out by RAF Bomber Command. For the survey Bomber Command inspected all bombers returning from bombing raids over Germany over a particular period. All damage inflicted by German air defenses was noted and the recommendation was given that armour be added in the most heavily damaged areas.
Blackett's team instead made the surprising and counter-intuitive recommendation that the armour be placed in the areas which were completely untouched by damage, according to the survey. They reasoned that the survey was biased, since it only included aircraft that successfully came back from Germany. The untouched areas were probably vital areas, which if hit would result in the loss of the aircraft.
Just an interesting Sunday side excursion...

Saturday, October 22, 2005

Signs of Atlas Shrugging

Who is John Galt? You might see a shadow of him here:
The feds have also done their best to remove any financial incentive--i.e., profit--for developing new vaccines. The Vaccines For Children program, a pet project of Hillary Clinton back in her First Lady days, has been especially destructive. The program now buys more than 50% of all private vaccines, and it uses this monopsony clout to drive prices down to commodity levels.

When one pharmaceutical company offered to sell a new pneumococcal vaccine to the government for $58 a dose, the Centers for Disease Control demanded a $10-a-dose discount. Politicians want companies to take all the risk of developing new vaccines, but they don't want the companies to make any money from taking those risks. Then the politicians profess surprise and dismay that there's a vaccine shortage.

Vaccine makers are also a favorite target of tort lawyers, who've spent 20 years trying to get around the 1986 Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP)--which was specifically designed to protect vaccine makers from liability abuse. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist has been trying to update the VICP for several years, and Republicans did pass a liability provision as a rider to a homeland security bill in 2002. But three GOP Senators--Susan Collins, Olympia Snowe and Lincoln Chafee--created a media ruckus and demanded that it be killed. The Senators promised more debate on the subject, yet once the headlines vanished so did their interest.

The larger point is that if politicians want private industry to develop new cures and vaccines, they can't steal their patents or confiscate their hope of making money. Private companies developed the AIDS drugs that have extended millions of lives, but countries like Brazil want to force those companies to give the drugs away at cost.

Remember -
"If you ask me to name the proudest distinction of Americans, I would choose—because it contains all the others—the fact that they were the people who created the phrase 'to make money.' No other language or nation had ever used these words before; men had always thought of wealth as a static quantity—to be seized, begged, inherited, shared, looted of obtained as a favor. Americans were the first to understand that wealth has to be created. The words 'to make money' hold the essence of human morality.

"Yet these were the words for which Americans were denounced by the rotted cultures of the looters' continents. Now the looters' credo has brought you to regard your proudest achievements as a hallmark of shame, your prosperity as guilt, your greatest men, the industrialists, as blackguards, and your magnificent factories as the product and property of muscular labor, the labor of whip-driven slaves, like the pyramids of Egypt. The rotter who simpers that he sees no difference between the power of the dollar and the power of the whip, ought to learn the difference on his own hide— as, I think, he will.
Atlas Shrugged

Oilman Oscar Wyatt Indicted in UN Oil for Food Mess

Houston billionaire Oscar Wyatt indicted in the UN oil for food scam.

Wyatt is a noted wheeler-dealer who created two multi-billion dollar companies, The Coastal Corporation (now owned by El Paso Corporation) and Valero Corporation. Valero was spun off from Coastal after a major scandal involving natural gas shortages and contracts in the early 1970s:
In the early 1960s Coastal purchased the Sinclair Oil Corpus Christi refinery and pipeline network and established a subsidiary called Lo-Vaca Gathering to supply natural gas to Texas cities and utilities. When Lo-Vaca curtailed its gas supplies and raised prices during the energy crisis of the early 1970s, customers sued Coastal. Regulators ordered the subsidiary to refund $1.6 billion in 1977, and Coastal spun off Lo-Vaca as Valero Energy to finance the settlement.
When Wyatt shut the gas supplies off the some South Texas towns because the delivered cost of gas far exceeded the contract prices, he was referred to in Texas Monthly as "the most hated oilman in Texas." On the other hand, he is repsonsible for creating companies that employ several thousand people and allows them to put food on the family table.

More info here.

Mullah Cha�vez?

Worth a read Mullah Chavez: A look at the blossoming of Iranian and Venezuelan "brotherhood.".

If the Iranians are nervous about having the US presence in the Middle East, they'v chosen an interesting method to respond by setting up Chavez as a thorn in the US side.

There is also a theory that Venezuela is abetting international terrorism as set out here (and doubted? here).

21 Killed on Ship Smuggling Somalis near Shabwa

It's the poor and desperate who suffer at the hands of the ruthless as noted here in a report from about October 6:
Twenty one men had been killed in an exchange of fire on Somali ship off the coast of Shabwa, press sources said last Wednesday. The fight took place at seven o’clock pm last Tuesday. Among the ship’s crew were 50 passengers of different African nationalities.

Al-Ayam newspaper quoted eyewitnesses as saying that the shoot-out happened when the ship’s captain and crew opened fire on passengers to force them off the vessel. The passengers then attacked the captain and his crew and took their guns. The confrontation resulted in the deaths of 15 passengers, mostly Ethiopians, and the ship’s six-man crew.
Tough neighborhood...

Latest ONI World Wide Threat to Shipping (19 October)

Go here and click on the date. Highlights:
3. SOMALIA: M/V (SAN CARLO) was hijacked 20 Oct while underway in position 02:13N 049:44E, approximately 170 NM off the east coast of Somalia (IMB).
4. SOMALIA: M/V (PANAGIA) was hijacked 18 Oct while
underway in position 06:59.18N 051:08.39E, approximately 90 NM off the east coast of Somalia (Operator).
More on M/V San Carlos here:
A search was under way yesterday for a Greek-owned oil tanker that has not been heard from since it sent out a distress call on Thursday evening off the coast of Somalia.

The Maltese-flagged San Carlos, captained by a Greek with a crew of 24, sent out the signal from a location around 170 nautical miles off the Somalian coast, the Merchant Marine Ministry said.

UPDATE: Earlier reports on Panagia here and here. Ukraine has asked for international military help in recovering the Panagia. All 22 members of the Panagia crew are Ukrainian.

UPDATE2: The Somalia government has also asked for help in supressing the pirates as reported here:
on Saturday for international help to combat pirates, who have used speedboats, automatic weapons and satellite phones to target UN-chartered ships and other vessels.

The appeal came a day after the International Maritime Bureau reported an alarming increase in attacks off the southern and eastern coast of Somalia and appealed to US and Nato warships in the region to protect vessels sailing near the Somali coast, an important shipping route connecting the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean.

Pirates have launched 23 attacks against ships off Somalia since March 15, the London-based International Maritime Bureau, which tracks piracy around the world, said on its website.

Somalia has had no effective central government since opposition leaders ousted dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. They then turned on each other, transforming this nation of seven million into a patchwork of battling fiefdoms ruled by heavily armed militias.

A new transitional government, formed during lengthy peace talks in Kenya, is struggling to establish itself in Somalia as it faces internal divisions and opposition from Islamic militants and warlords who benefit from ongoing anarchy.

"Until we establish our own marine force, we want neighbouring countries to deploy their navies to protect Somalia's coastline against the pirates," Mohamed Ali Americo, a senior official in the Somali prime minister's office, said as the 10-member crew of a UN-chartered ship arrived in Kenya following a 100-day hijacking ordeal.
With the San Carlos seizure, the number has climbed to 24 attacks...

UPDATE3: The World Food Program ships once held by the Somali pirates have finally arrived to safety in Kenya.

UPDATE4: WFP (and nearly everyone else) seeks coalition warships to help food ships get safely to port and back:
Also welcoming the crew were the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Somalia deputy country director, Leo van der Velden, and Information officer, Said Warsame.

The WFP official said the agency was glad that the crew had arrived. Said Velden: "It is great joy, especially for the eight Kenyans who have been missing their families for almost four months now."

He said it was crucial for the coalition forces to resume patrols on Somalia’s territorial waters to eliminate increasing incidences of piracy.

Velden said this had affected the agency’s plans of ferrying relief supplies to Somalia where millions of famine stricken people are suffering.

"International marine forces must intervene if WFP is to save lives in the war-torn country," Velden said.

"The whole country is in celebration following the arrival of Chief Engineer Juma Mvita who had been held by Somali warlords since June.

"We hope that the international community will provide armed escort to ships which ferry relief supplies to Somalia to prevent further hijacking of ships and their crew members," said Mr N M Mboyi, Tanzanian High Commissioner.

The Sri Lanka High Commissioner also reiterated the call to the UN to provide security to vessels, which transport relief food to Somalia.
Let's see, that would be which coaltion?

Friday, October 21, 2005

Let us now honor Bill Veeck

It's true that I am an Astros fan, but I remember Bill Veeck, one of the great pioneers of baseball who owned the White Sox the last time they went to the World Series in 1959. Read more about him here.

Combat Marine, wounded in action, and an amazing man.

One great thing about baseball is the history.

Go Astros! And let's have a great series.

Ukraine asks West for help to free ship seized by pirates

Ukraine asks for help with the Somali pirate problem as reported here
Ukraine's Foreign Ministry appealed to Britain, France, the United States and NATO to help free a ship and its crew seized by pirates on October 18 near the coast of Somalia, a Ukrainian diplomat said Friday...

...The cargo ship Panagia, sailing under the Liberian flag and carrying a 22-member Ukrainian crew, was hijacked this week 90 miles off the eastern coast of Somalia by Somali pirates while transporting coal from South Africa to Turkey.

I wonder if this vessel is the same one that was seized by Somali pirates in 2002 as reported here?

UPDATE: Thanks to Mudville Gazette's Dawn Patrol!
UPDATE2: In addition to the seized MV Pagania, the pirates seem to have capture another ship - the MV San Carlos as noted here. Initial report of Panagia capture here.

Wack Job of the Day: Chavez Warns if U.S. Invades, Oil Goes Up

Of course, since it would be all about the OIL, I would expect th opposite to be true, but Venezuela's wack job President for Life says "If U.S. Invades, Oil Goes Up".
Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez said Thursday that his government is preparing for a possible U.S. invasion and he warned that such "aggression" would send gasoline in the United States prices soaring higher. The U.S. government repeated that it is not planning any such thing.

Chavez, a vocal critic of "imperialism" and the Bush administration, said he was not against the American people — just the current government.

"We are sure that it will be very difficult for the United States to attack Venezuela," Chavez said. He said his country has eight oil refineries and 14,000 gasoline stations in the United States.

"If the United States tried to attack Venezuela by a direct invasion, forget the oil," he said during a two-hour news conference beamed live to Venezuela. "Everyday, we send 1.5 million barrels to the United States."
I'll bet those preparing for the invasion will be as busy as the Maytag repairman. However, it does keep the masses in line, I suppose...

What Chavez pictures:

What Chavez should get:

What Chavez will get:

CIA Factbook on Venezuela here.

UPDATE: Previous US denial of plan to invade Venezuela here. Prior wack theory of invasion via Paraguay here.
And El Jefe Maximo over at Kingdom of Chaos properly denotes the Chavez mindset.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

NTSB report on collision of USS Greeneville and Ehime Maru

National Transportation Safety Board report on the unfortunate collision between the submarine USS Greeneville and the Japanese vessel Ehime Maru:
In its review of the events in this accident, the Safety Board determined that qualified and experienced members of the combat management team (the conning officer, the FTOW, and the sonar supervisor) as well as senior officers who happened to be in the control room failed to follow procedures designed to ensure safety in operations. The teamwork problems demonstrated on the day of the collision were due in part to the CO's overly directive style, particularly with the OOD-2. However, the failure of key watchstanders to effectively perform their duties and communicate vital information to the conning officer contributed to the CO's committing the following critical errors:
-Failed to perform adequate contact analysis;
-Rushed the procedures for moving to periscope depth; and
-Ordered an emergency surfacing maneuver in the direction of a contact.
-Contributing to the operating errors of the combat systems team was their failure to adequately manage the civilian visitors so that they did not distract the watchstanders from the efficient execution of their duties...

UPDATE 10/21.05: CDR Waddle agrees with the findings according to this.
"It was an ugly event," Waddle told The Honolulu Advertiser newspaper in a telephone interview. "But the one guy who is responsible is the captain and the buck stops there."

The NTSB concluded that Waddle's hasty order to conduct an emergency surfacing drill nine miles (14.5 kilometers) south of Diamond Head caused the submarine's rudder to slice into the hull of the Ehime Maru, a Japanese high school fisheries vessel.

The report also put blame on the crew's failure to communicate and to manage 16 civilian visitors so that they didn't get in the way.

The Navy has acknowledged that the emergency maneuver was performed for the benefit of the civilians.

The surfacing procedure was rushed because it was believed to be safe. No one would have done the emergency surfacing had they known a ship _ referred to by submariners as a "contact" _ was that close, Waddle said.

"The civilians, although not directly a hindrance, were a distraction," Waddle said. "And, no, they were not properly managed. The submarine was at sea for one purpose and that was to entertain them for the day. And my team _ myself included _ failed to manage the contact picture adequately."
Honorable man, paying the price for a few minutes of bad decisions that ended in disaster. (Hat tip to the The Sub Report.

The last all sail sea battle 20 Oct 1827

The Battle of Navarino, reported here, was "the decisive event which established the independence of Greece." It was also the last sea battle involving all sail ships and was fought on the 20th of October 1827. More info here.
On the 20 October 1827 the allies, realising that it was impossible to undertake a blockade of Navarino, sailed into the bay to prevent the Turco-Egyptian fleet from leaving. Aware of the well-armed forts and batteries guarding the entrance, they took up position within the enemy crescent formation, almost alongside the opposing vessels. Codrington’s combined fleet consisted of 12 ships of the line, eight frigates and six other vessels, while the forces of Ibrahim Pasha numbered seven ships of the line, 15 frigates, 26 corvettes and 17 other vessels, including transports. Although outnumbered, the allied force enjoyed superior firepower to its opponents. A period of tense negotiation followed, but in a volatile and intimidating situation, conflict was practically inevitable.

While employed in approaching and moving an enemy fireship, a small boat from HMS Dartmouth came under Turkish musket attack, inflicting several casualties. The British frigate returned fire, and within a short time a full-scale battle developed. The engagement ended as a victory for the allied forces, after about four hours of heavy fighting. The Turco-Egyptian fleet suffered heavy losses, with one ship of the line, 12 frigates and 22 corvettes sunk, and about 4000 men killed of wounded. The allies suffered no ship losses, although many of their vessels were badly damaged and around 650 men were killed or wounded.

While the defeat of the Turco-Egyptian fleet was generally received with enthusiasm across Europe, Codrington was recalled to London to account for his obviously provocative action and decision to engage the enemy. He was, however, cleared of charges of disobeying orders and was awarded the GCB soon afterwards.

Somali pirates grab another ship

The headline is wrong in part, though, when it says New ship hijacking reported in Somali waters.
Gunmen have hijacked yet another ship in the pirate-infested waters off the coast of lawless Somalia in the latest of a spate of such incidents that have prompted dire maritime warnings, officials said on Thursday.

Pirates seized the Maltese-registered MV Pagania on Wednesday as it sailed northward from South Africa to Europe with cargo of iron ore and have demanded a $700 000 ransom for its release, they said.

"They took over the vessel about 90 nautical miles (167km) off the Somali coast, near the Puntland region," said Andrew Mwangura of the Seafarers' Assistance Programme from the Kenyan port of Mombasa.
90 miles off the coast is international waters, not Somali waters. This makes the captors real pirates as opposed to "sea robbers" who tend to operate in territorial seas...

UPDATE: Maybe if bounties were to be offered...

Odd headline grouping

From my Google alerts:

Malacca wants to be the golfing destination
The Star Online Wed, 19 Oct 2005 9:32 PM PDT
There will be golf tournaments in Malacca every month from next year to popularise the game among the people and to promote tourism, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Ali Rustam said.

Malacca flooded, this time due to high tide
The Star Online Wed, 19 Oct 2005 9:28 PM PDT
After the flash floods on Friday, the city was in deep water again yesterday.

I have enough trouble with water hazards.

Divers find missing tin ship- scuttled

Reported here:
Indonesian navy divers have discovered a shipload of refined tin worth $4.7 million that was hijacked by pirates late last month, and the owner -- PT Koba Tin -- is salvaging the cargo, officials said on Thursday.
The vessel M.V. Prima Indah, which was carrying 660 tonnes of tin produced by Koba when it was attacked en route to Singapore, was spotted last week on the sea bed off Bangka, the Indonesian island where it began its journey.
Crew members were unharmed but the incident was the second tin seizure in Indonesian waters this year. On the same route in April, pirates hijacked a cargo of at least 575 tonnes, estimated to be worth about $4.6 million and since retrieved by its owner.
"We don't understand why the pirates sank the ship. There are a lot of questions but we cannot speculate," said Noel Choong, who manages the International Maritime Bureau's Southeast Asian piracy reporting centre in Malaysia.
Oh, come on, speculation is easy...just try.

My guess is they were going to come back for the cargo later and slowly pick the sunken ship clean. Any better thoughts?

Initial report of hijacking here.

(Diver is not a real person and is offered solely for illustrative purposes. And, incidentally, can be purchased from

Astros to the Big Dance--Finally!

Whoohoo! Astros earn first ever World Series berth!

As a long time fan and a former Astro season ticket holder, all I can say is Whoohoo!

IMB calls for militaty action against Somali pirates

Everyone seems to be sick of the chaos the Somali pirates are creating and now this:
THE ICC International Maritime Bureau has called on Coalition naval vessels to act against pirates operating up to 100 miles off the Somali coast. IMB Director P Mukundan said: “There is no government in Somalia that can take responsibility for law enforcement in its territorial waters. I call on Coalition warships to stop hijacked vessels reaching Somali waters. If this were to happen it would be an effective deterrent.”

Meanwhile industry sources report that a handysize bulk carrier may have been hijacked about 100 miles off the Somali coast earlier today.

It has also been reported that the cargo ship Semlow, with a cargo of World Food Programme grain on board, has now left Somali waters under the tow of a sister ships. However a third ship belonging to the same company, the Torgelow, apparently remains in prate hands with no news of the vessel or crew received.
It's reported here that "An armed escort for two Kenyan-registered ships that were hijacked by pirates in Somalia has retreated after encountering rough seas."

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Inshore firepower: the "Rocket Rainmakers" of the LSMRs

Cheap, slow, rough riding, flat-bottomed and potent.

That's the LSMR- Landing Ship Medium Rocket.
If you wanted firepower, the LSMR provided - One 5"/38 gun, twenty continuous loading 5" SS rocket launchers, two 40 mm twins, four 20 mm twins, four 4".2 mortars. Not bad for a ship of 204 feet in length. It could fire 380 5-inch rockets per minute up to 5 miles away.

Dubbed the "Rocket Rainmakers" by Rear Admiral F.J. Blouin, the ships that made up the IFS 93 were called ..."pound for pound the finest fighting ships the Navy has produced in the Vietnam conflict. Your impressive record in Gunfire Support Operations is unparalleled, and dispute problems of age, lack of speed and a tight operating schedule, the little rocket ships have done a giant sized job" the Rear Admiral said.
Visit the USS Clarion River website here for more information on these little ships.

Somalia backgrounder

Confused by Somalia? Go here for a pretty good background briefing of what is happening there.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Pascagoula shipyard is back in action

Noted here:
he first National Security Cutter (NSC 1) fabrication unit to be lifted into place since Hurricane Katrina swept through the Gulf Coast is pictured here at Northrop Grumman's Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard on Monday, Oct. 17.

Good. Jobs and work are good things.


India get ocean fever, set up FENC as reported here.

Yes, it's a navy thing.

China's got the next move in this strategic chess match.

Mystery at sea: Missing tug, found tow

From here, a nautical mystery:
More mysterious than the disappearance of the ship is the way it was kept secret for more than a month.

Ten families across India are anxiously waiting for news of tug vessel Jupiter 6, which just vanished off the South African coast six weeks ago with an Indian crew of 10 and three Ukranian sailors.

“Had there been an American sailor on board, the ship would have definitely been traced by now,” Anil Kumar Sharma couldn’t hide his anger and frustration.

It was only on Tuesday that he had learnt that the ship — with his younger brother Sunil on board as second engineer — had been missing at sea since September 5.

Jupiter 6 — registered in Kingston, Jamaica, but believed to be owned by an Indian family — was towing bulk carrier Satsang from Namibia to the Alang ship-breaking yard in Gujarat.

It had sailed from Cuba two months ago and reached the Namibian port of Walvis Bay, from where it was scheduled to reach Alang via Mauritius. The Indian crew spoke to their families from Namibia in the last week of August.

On August 28, the ship left Walvis Bay but stayed in touch with its Mumbai-based manning agent, Pelican Marine. Till September 5, when it seems to have fallen off the edge of the earth.

Satsang was found drifting in the ocean, about 220 nautical miles south of Port Elizabeth, and was towed ashore.

The relatives of the Indian crew are furious with the shipping agent, Pelican Marine, for not alerting them or the Indian shipping authorities about the missing ship more than a month later.
More here:
The tug Jupiter 6 is officially presumed lost with all hands after an emergency radio beacon signal was picked up and a search failed to find the ship.

Several grim signs pointed to the fate of the tug, missing for more than a month.

But they fail to shed light on the mystery of what befell the ill-fated vessel.

The clues are a belated signal from an emergency position indicating radio beacon, a patch of oil and a piece of wreckage in a position about 200 miles south of Port Elizabeth, well off the shipping lanes.

This seems to be the tragic conclusion to the mystery that has haunted the shipping industry since September 6, the day the last communication from the Indian-owned tug was heard.

The tug and her tow were reported missing when no further communications were received and ships at sea were asked to keep a lookout. At the weekend, the tug's emergency beacon finally began signalling and the Maritime Rescue Co-ordination Centre in Bellville sent an SA Air Force long-range aircraft to search the sea around the position signalled by the beacon.

Two ships joined in the search.

The aircraft crew saw only a patch of oil and a piece of wreckage, but no survivors or other signs of the vessel.

Even the wreckage and the oil could not officially be linked to the tug, said a spokesman for the rescue centre who did not wish to be named.

Monday, October 17, 2005

Latest ONI World Wide Threat to Shipping (12 October)

Go here and click on the date. Highlight:
4. SOMALIA: An unidentified bulk carrier was pursued 30 Sep at 2320 UTC while underway in position 05:05N, 051:05E about 150 nm off the Somali coast. A fishing boat came within 1.7 nm while ship’s master undertook evasive maneuvers. Boat pursed the bulk carrier for about 2 hours. ONI NOTE: If this represents a true attempted boarding, it sets a new outer boundary for safe steaming which has previously been set as 120 nm off the Somali coast (IMB).

Amphibious Robbery Attempt? Yikes!

Warn the Phibian that someone is taking lessons in amphbious assault as reported here:
THE adoption of amphibious tactics by robbers in their recent raid on a bank in Lagos, warns of new and more disarming robbery techniques on land. Amphibious operation, a strictly military and sea pirates strategy, was hitherto known to have been used by robbers in the creeks of Niger Delta.

But the latest bank raid was all-round military. Like a thunderbolt, 12 robbers, in combat fatigue, and armed with high-velocity rifles, disembarked from their speed boat behind the bank on a waterfront and started firing sporadically into the air and at the bank building. Simultaneously, they barricaded access roads to the bank and put road users to flight.

The robbers' swift and dare-devil advance to the bank was temporarily halted by the bank's security outfit, which had earlier, promptly informed the police of the raid. But apparently held back by superior fire-power of the robbers and inadequate manpower, the police could not respond instantly. The Marine Police, of which special responsibility is to patrol coasts and ward off intruders, were no where in sight to halt the robbers' disembarkment or to chase them away, nor were there the Naval personnel who share the same duty with the marine police.
Any idea where CDR Salamander has been traveling recently?

I'm a little confused by the timing...

Read this and see if you can figure out why it is being published now, in President Bush's second term and nearly a year after the last election. I can't.

World Food Program Ships: Released but need escorts to go home

Noted here:
Two ships and 20 crew members released by Somali hijackers will need armed escort to reach Mombasa safely.

Mr Karim Kudrati, the managing director of Motaku Shipping Agencies, which owns the two vessels, MV Miltzow and MV Semlow, yesterday expressed fears that the ships might be re-captured by gunmen in the war-torn country if they left El Maan port without escort.

"It would be a risky undertaking for the ships and their crew to leave the Somalia waters without armed security," said Kudrati in Mombasa.

The vessels were released on different dates, but have not been able to travel back due to lack of arrangements for their safe departure and arrival.

Seventeen of the former hostages are Kenyans.

"I do not want my vessels and crew to land in more problems after suffering for over three months," said Kudrati.

He said the two vessels could leave anytime as they had completed discharging their cargo.

They have also refuelled and all they require is security before setting off, said the official. He said he had contacted El Maan port authorities in Somalia to see whether they could provide the escort. When reached for comment, World Food Programme Somalia deputy country director, Mr Leo van der Velden, said it was upon the shipping agent to make an official request to the organisation on the issue.

Two of the ships captured had been chartered by the WFP to ferry relief supplies to Somalia.

Velden said once Motaku made the request, the agency would forward it to the United Nations to see whether they could intervene over the thorny issue.
Since the UN doesn't have any warships, perhaps a real navy might want to help out? Perhaps France?

Hidden Soviet bio-weapons still out there?

Report asks Do KGB agents, recruited by al-Qaeda, still guard the post-Soviet biological weapons hidden in Britain?
It’s like in a game "Russian roulette": nobody knows where’s the bullet and when the gun will fire a shot. During the Cold War, the Soviet intelligence hid some WMDs in the West: biological, chemical and nuclear. There’s a lot of evidence that the weapons remain in place, guarded and maintained by Russian spies. Will terrorists use them?
There's more - suitcase nukes, overpressure grenades, and .... all just in time fo Halloween.

And book sales


Sea law amended to help stop ships being used in terror attacks

Reported here, some changes to international law to get better control of possible maritime terrorist ships:
A new treaty makes it illegal for ships to carry weapons of mass destruction and allows states to search in international waters vessels suspected of being used as floating bombs, the U.N.'s maritime body said on Monday.
The law also makes it an offence for merchant ships to be used to transport equipment and individuals involved in carrying out terrorist acts and provides a legal basis for the arrest and extradition of suspects.
The U.N. International Maritime Organisation (IMO) said the treaty, adopted by 126 countries representing 82 percent of the world's fleet, was thrashed out at a conference in London last week and needs to be ratified.
In a statement on Monday, IMO Secretary-General Efthimious Mitropoulos urged governments to ratify the treaty quickly to send "a strong message that the maritime community is eager and willing to protect the industry against acts of terrorism."
Delay would strengthen the hand of those trying to exploit loopholes in existing laws, he said. Mitropoulos said the industry had to be fully armed to counteract the "gravest menace it has ever faced".
Since the attacks on the United States in September 2001, governments have become increasingly concerned that the legal framework surrounding international shipping made maritime traffic vulnerable to use by militants.
In particular, they were worried that countries were unable to order a ship flying another nation's flag to stop and be searched in international waters without running the risk of a major diplomatic incident.
Ships trading far from a country's territorial waters, in the deep ocean, are classed as sovereign entities. Nations have much more power to search a suspect vessel within their own territorial waters extending to 12 nautical miles from shore.
Only last week a U.S. coastguard chief told a maritime security conference in Copenhagen that Washington wanted to be able to search ships as far from its shores as possible to deter a possible attack it fears could come from the sea.
Looks like the US got most of what it wanted...

More here.

Malacca Strait Stirrings

For a long time, much of the piracy in the Strait of Malacca was focused on local shipping and simple robbery at sea. But after a couple of seizures or attempted seizures of larger international ships, the focus of the international shipping world and of many of many of the countries that depend on this vital sea lane began to focus on "helping" the littoral states solve their piracy probelm. The underlying concern is, of course, that some terrorist group will find a way to close the Strait, hinder shipping, or do harm to major ports in the area, like Singapore. Such efforts to be helpful have generally been in vain, except with this encouragement and some aid packages, these states have stepped up their own efforts and have begun to engage in joint operations to quell the pirates of Malacca. Japan, Australia, the US, and China have all offered patrol help. All have been rejected for the most part, and issues of sovereignty and territorial waters have dominated the discussions... On the other hand, piracy seems to have slowed in the area.

Now, however, there is this article, which discusses some underwater proposals:
Citing the threat of terrorism, U.S. Navy submariners have been clamoring for years to get permission from neighboring countries to patrol the straits, which have been plagued by piracy around the Singapore Strait section, where the waterway narrows to only 1½ miles wide.

Last year, a proposal by the head of the Navy's Pacific Command suggesting the U.S. could work with surrounding countries to collect intelligence and patrol the straits was met with angry rejection by all except Singapore.

So far, Malaysia and Indonesia have declined to let in the Navy.

Now, the three countries' navies handle the patrols. China is also interested in security in the straits because nearly all of the country's imported oil and 60 percent of its total supply pass through the region.

China has recently been working on military cooperation with Indonesia, and some Asian newspapers have reported China negotiating to build a submarine base there.

The Navy continues to work with Singapore on maritime security systems for the region. Starting in 2004, 21 students at the Naval Postgraduate School began a study focusing on ship and port security in the straits. The group also designed systems to better detect explosive and dangerous materials aboard cargo ships. This year, 26 students came from Singapore to work with the Naval Postgraduate School on the project.

The Defense Department is now interested in using small unmanned submarines in the region. These autonomous undersea vehicles, or AUVs, weigh only about 500 pounds and are especially useful for finding underwater mines.

Since 1987, the Naval Postgraduate School has built three unmanned underwater vehicles, and has tested them in Monterey Bay.

One problem the military has with AUVs is that they don't work well in groups and often crash into each other. This year, Navy school students have been working on finding solutions to that problem.
Thes Navy students might want to talk to DARPA (and Stanford and Carnegie-Mellon Univeristies) about autonomous vehicles, as they seem to be working on parallel lines for vehicles ashore. There might just be some sharable ideas.

A Chinese sub base located in Indonesia? It may be part of their "string of pearls" sea lane protection concept.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Philippines port of Cebu tightens port security for terror attacks

Cebu International Port is taking precautions against "underwater bomb attack," it says here:
Security measures were beefed up at the Cebu International Port (CIP) following intelligence reports that Cebu would likely be a target of underwater bomb attacks by terrorist groups.

Captain Elson Hermogino, Philippine Coast Guard in Central and Eastern Visayas District commander, said they would coordinate with the military and the police to secure the ports and thwart any terrorist attempt.

"For the Coast Guard, we really don't have the technical capability but with the help and coordination of the military and police, we can counter that," Hermogino told the Inquirer.

"Aside from the harbor patrol, we are also checking the physical activities in the waterside area of the port," he added.

Hermogino said that based on the intelligence report, the target of the underwater bomb attacks were the military, naval and commercial vessels.

He, however, declined to give details on the report, especially which group would most likely stage the plan.

Hermogino, however, said the intelligence report was three-months old and came from military sources.

Froggy over at Froggyruminations has previously discounted the underwater threat here, and notes that the "underwater threat" reappears "Every six months..." That was in April 2005, so we seem to be right on track...

My earlier posts (also April 2005) are here and linked therein.

On Philippines map, Cebu is circled in red.