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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mission Not Impossible: Project Valour IT

(Music - the Standard MI theme)


Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to solicit donations to Project Valour IT. Inside your "Mission Pack" is a small mirror. Hold it to your face. The person you see in the mirror is your first target. Tell them about a program to donate voice-activated laptops to wounded Service Men and Women who, for various reason, all of them connected to service to their country, have hand or arm injuries or amputations. The laptops will help them communicate with loved ones and perform other normal activities, such as sending email and reading blogs.

Go to the Project Valour gauge over to the right. The one that says Valour-IT: Navy. Click on it to reach the PayPal donation page. Please donate something, whatever you can. 100% of your donation will go to the computer project. Feel good. You just supported the troops.

Tell your friends and co-workers. Forward a link to this post. Put up a flyer or several of them.

Get matching funds from your employer. Feel really good.

Thank you.

This message, like our wounded troops, will not be destroyed.

We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming.

Oh, those divers with the undersea mine? Navy EOD.

A "botched Joke"

Sure is, and has been for a long time

Monday, October 30, 2006

It's Maritime Monday 31 at Fred Fry International

Almost as surely as the night follows the day, Fred Fry puts out his Maritime Monday, a carnival of shipping and ship related items.

And, though you might not think you're interested in such matters, why not give it a try?

He doesn't charge a thing for looking.

And, if your horizon is expanded, so much the better.

Ship seized by crew

The Maritime Liaison Office in Bahrain has sent out an advisory on the vessel Snow White (stop laughing - this is serious) containing the following information:
Maritime Liaison Office Announces

Keep a lookout for a Reported Stolen Vessel
Vessel Name: SNOW WHITE (ex-Daeyang No. 93)
Color: Black Hull/white accommodation/superstructure Flag: Panama Type: Chemical Tanker Call Sign: HO3356 Length: 69 meters Beam: 10.5 meters Draft: 4.8 meters IMO #: 8031639 Gross Tons: 763

The vessel departed Sharjah, UAE on 19 October 2006 with a cargo of Marine Gas Oil (MGO) en route to tuna fishing grounds in the Indian Ocean - approximately 200 NMs south of Salalah, Oman.

The vessel is reported missing, with the last contact on 21 October 2006, and its last known in the vicinity of Al Had, Oman.

The owner reports the master and crew have taken over the vessel with intent of selling the cargo and sailing to South Korea. The Master is purportedly negotiating with owner payment for return of the vessel.

The owner believes vessel may still be IVO Omani coast.
If you find Snow White contact MARLO as set out here.

No word on Seven Dwarves or Prince Charming.

Sorry. Couldn't resist.

Support the troops: Project Valour IT

Seems like I hear it every day in converstation with other Americans of every political stripe, "I support the troops..."

Of course, how that sentence is finished depends on a lot of factors. Regardless of those factors, one way to show that support is to take a few minutes to click on the link over the the right (that thermometer thingie) and make a donation to Project Valour IT - A Soldiers' Angels Program.

Don't know about Project Valour IT? Here's link and a short explanation:
Project Valour-IT...provides voice-controlled laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand and arm injuries or amputations at home or in military hospitals.
The idea is simple - to put these young people in a position to communicate on their own and help them along on their way to recovery with something more than a kind thought.

It's a chance to help and it's easy. Clicking on the "thermometer" takes you to a PayPal site where you can add a contribution, of whatever size you can afford or care to make, so that more laptops can be purchased and equipped for these wounded service members.

By donating, the next time somebody asks, "How are you supporting the troops?" - you'll have a really good answer. And a pretty darn good feeling.

And - in case it matters - your donation may be tax deductible.

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sunday Ship History: The "Catalina" PBY

Variations of this patrol bomber flying boat served in various militaries around the world for a long time after its introduction in 1936 and the declaration of its being "obsolete" a couple of years thereafter, as set out here. But the slow and droning PBY was the "Energizer Bunny" of its day and just kept flying and flying.... right into history as one of the great airplanes - that was a boat, too.
A total of approximately 4000 Catalinas were built between 1936 and 1945. Because of their worldwide popularity, there was scarcely a maritime battle in WW II in which they were not involved. The PBY had its vulnerabilities: it was slow, with a maximum speed of 179 mph, and with no crew armor or self-sealing tanks, it was highly vulnerable to anti-aircraft attack. However it was these weaknesses, coincident with the development of effective radar, and Japanese reliance on night transport, which led to the development of the "Black Cat Squadrons." These crews performed nighttime search and attack missions in their black-painted PBYs. The tactics were spectacularly successful and seriously disrupted the flow of supplies and personnel to Japanese island bases. The Catalinas also proved effective in search and rescue missions, code-named "Dumbo." Small detachments (normally of three PBYs) routinely orbited on stand-by near targeted combat areas. One detachment based in the Solomon islands rescued 161 airmen between January 1 and August 15, 1943, and successes increased steadily as equipment and tactics improved. After WW II, the PBY continued its search and rescue service in many Central and South American countries, as well as in Denmark, until the 1970's.
It was not a small airplane:
Overall, it was a remarkable aircraft, compartmented like a flying submarine and usually carrying a crew of 10 to 12. There were three pilots (a patrol plane commander and the two co-pilots who alternated flying and navigating), a plane captain (head mechanic) who rode in the "tower," two radiomen, two ordnance men, plus several machinist’s mates. It had several bunks, a small galley, a sit-down toilet, two 50-caliber machine guns in the waist blisters and twin pop-gun 30-caliber machine guns in the nose. It carried 1,450 gallons of aviation gas in the cumbersome wing and 3000 pounds of bombs hanging under the wing, plus assorted anti-personnel bombs inside (usually laid on the bunks).

The wingspan of the Catalina was 104 feet, and she was not built for speed. She was built for endurance, powered by two magnificent Pratt & Whitney engines that – like the crews – rarely gave up.
One Catalina pilot, Lt Gordon, won the Medal of Honor for rescuing a downed bomber crew under rather severe condition. His story is here and his citation reads:
. For extraordinary heroism above and beyond the call of duty as commander of a Catalina patrol plane in rescuing personnel of the U.S. Army 5th Air Force shot down in combat over Kavieng Harbor in the Bismarck Sea, 15 February 1944. On air alert in the vicinity of Vitu Islands, Lt. (then Lt. j.g.) Gordon unhesitatingly responded to a report of the crash and flew boldly into the harbor, defying close-range fire from enemy shore guns to make 3 separate landings in full view of the Japanese and pick up 9 men, several of them injured. With his cumbersome flying boat dangerously overloaded, he made a brilliant takeoff despite heavy swells and almost total absence of wind and set a course for base, only to receive the report of another group stranded in a rubber life raft 600 yards from the enemy shore. Promptly turning back, he again risked his life to set his plane down under direct fire of the heaviest defenses of Kavieng and take aboard 6 more survivors, coolly making his fourth dexterous takeoff with 15 rescued officers and men. By his exceptional daring, personal valor, and incomparable airmanship under most perilous conditions, Lt. Gordon prevented certain death or capture of our airmen by the Japanese.

According to this the last Catalina in U.S. military service retired in 1967.

Along the way, Catalinas sank almost 40 U-boats while acting as anti-submarine escorts, located the German battleship Bismarck for the British fleet to move infor the kill and found the Japanese fleet before the Battle of Midway. Some Catalinas had MAD gear.

Modified as WWII progressed, the Catalina was equipped with radar, painted black and flew at night to find the enemy - and the legend of the "Black Cat" squadrons began. As set out here,
It was necessity which obliged the Japanese to supply their positions and outposts ashore almost exclusively at night. Their ships and barges moved mostly in small convoys guarded by one or more combatant vessels. These operations were carried on throughout the area and it was virtually impossible for U.S. surface combatant forces to stop them.

Ironically, it was also necessity which had turned the PBYs into night creatures. Their slow speeds, which rendered them clumsy and vulnerable by day, made them agile and surefooted by night. Radio altimeters allowed them to skim the dark surface of the ocean where fast fighters feared to tread. Their size, which made them easy daylight targets, enabled them to carry large quantities of fuel and weapons, and to range deep into enemy-controlled areas after dark. They could remain aloft all night, searching out their prey with electronic eyes or lying in wait at strategic points. The Black Cat concept developed naturally through the survival instinct and the determination to strike back against a cruel and unrelenting enemy. No one man or group can be given credit for its genesis. It was the result of the contributions and sacrifices of many, a combination of courage, technology, and the hard lessons of combat.
The Americans were not the sole operators of "Black Cat" Squadrons. The Royal Australian Air Force also used the Catalina for these missions and lost 239 airmen in their use, see here and here:
In RAAF service, the aircraft was best known for its exploits as a night intruder. Painted matt black and carrying sophisticated mission equipment, the "Black Cats" undertook mine laying and air/sea rescues under the cover of darkness and assisted with the repatriation of prisoners-of-war from Singapore and Japan at the end of the war.

Once again the "Cat" was involved in great events, as they shadowed the Japanese fleet before the Battle of the Coral Sea.

Some of these aircraft are still flying today, and there are several groups devoted to preserving the legacy of the Cats. See here, here, here,and here.

It's a history worth preserving.

UPDATE: Nice video of a Catalina flying here under title of "Catalina PBY5A video at Yverdon, Switzerland" (taken in 2005). Same video here at Google video.

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saved by the cell

Reported here:
Shot in the abdomen by pirates who plundered his boat, fisherman Albert Mendoza was set adrift two miles out at sea in the dead of night, with a deaf 85-year-old man his only companion.

It was a nightmarish situation for Mendoza, whose father was killed and thrown overboard by pirates ten years ago in the same fishing grounds off Palo Seco, Pt Erin. His body was never found.

This time, Mendoza was able to save himself and his friend, Rupert Charles.

He had a cellphone. He made a call that began a search by villagers that led to their rescue around midnight on Wednesday.

Without the phone, there would have been no search until noon yesterday, when they were due back to Erin port.

Mendoza underwent surgery yesterday at the San Fernando General Hospital to remove the bullet that passed through his abdomen and lodged in his left thigh.

The pirates took his boat's $60,000 engine and net.

But he was lucky. Three weeks ago, pirates sneaking over from Venezuela shot and killed Cedros fisherman Michael Sherwood. In the past three years, five fishermen have been killed in pirate attacks in the Gulf of Paria.

China likes pipeline from Pakistan idea

Not surprisingly, China likes non-sea lane methods of getting oil delivered. One such idea is set out here:
Beijing is interested in a trans-Himalayan oil pipeline proposed by Pakistan early this year, a Pakistan embassy official said on Monday.

The pipeline is designed to link Pakistan's Gwadar Port with China's Xinjiang, passing through the Himalayas and transporting Middle Eastern crude to China.

"At the moment it is just an idea that we have brought forward, but the Chinese side have said that they are interested," said Naeem Khan, a commercial and economic counselor at the Pakistani embassy in Beijing.

"It would be part of a larger trade corridor. We have already agreed to upgrade the Karakoram highway [between the two countries] and the pipeline would go in tandem with that," the counselor was quoted by Pakistan's Business Recorder as saying.

The proposal for such an oil pipeline was first raised during Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf's official visit to Beijing in late February.

The Chinese government is concerned about the security risks inherent in the fact that the bulk of its oil imports must pass through the narrow Malacca Straits, and if the pipeline were to be built, it would provide an alternative route. China has also been considering pipelines crossing Vietnam and Burma.

Friday, October 27, 2006

North Korean ship wandering around loose

A North Korean ship is sailing without inspection as reported here:
A North Korean ship, which the United States and Japan suspect of carrying military equipment, is on a voyage without any inspection after stopping at Hong Kong for refueling, a top South Korean security official confirmed yesterday.

Song Min-soon, the chief presidential secretary for security affairs, said at the National Assembly that the ship, named Ponghwasan, left Nampo of North Korea on Oct. 19 and has been sailing southward after fueling up at an outer port of Hong Kong.

Song added, as far as he understands, the North Korean ship is a refrigerator ship. `
I hope someone stops this ship at sea and explores its cargo.

Watching the Saudi oil terminals

After an al Qaeda threat, special maritime scrutiny is being kept over the Saudi oil terminals, esepciall the one at Ras Tanura, as set out here:
Coalition naval forces are helping to guard vital oil installations in top exporter Saudi Arabia as part of heightened security following an al Qaeda threat last month, naval sources said on Friday.

In their sights are the kingdom's Ras Tanura terminal, the world's biggest offshore oil export facility, and Bahrain's Bapco refinery.

"Acting on information received, Coalition naval forces, operating in support of Saudi and Bahraini forces have deployed units to counter a possible maritime threat to the oil facilities at Ras Tanura," Britain's Royal Navy in Dubai said in a statement.

Saudi Arabia's own security forces and navy are guarding strategic oil facilities and coalition forces are patrolling only in international waters.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Piracy conviction for Somalis captured by U.S. Navy

Kenya does the right thing:
Ten Somalis have been found guilty of piracy and hijacking by a court in the Kenyan port of Mombasa.

The convicted men, who will be sentenced next week, were arrested earlier this year off the Somali coast.

They had maintained they were fisherman and had not held 16 crew members of an Indian ship for ransom.
The decline in piracy has also been attributed to foreign navy patrols. When the case opened in February the suspects said they were fishermen and did not know why they had been "abducted" from their fishing boat.

But Indian sailors identified the men, who were caught by the US Navy in international waters, and said they had been tortured by them.
I doubt the traditional treatment of pirates will be imposed and these scurvy knaves will not be swinging from a yardarm anytime soon.

Initial reporting on capture of these pirates here.

Stuck on Stupid: USS North Carolina (BB-55) is now "a building whose shape [and coloring] resembles a ship"


Sometimes you don't know whether to laugh or cry. From here:
Plans to allow overnight camping on the Battleship North Carolina may be scuttled because of the cost of making the 66-year-old warship memorial safer.

The Battleship North Carolina Commission, an 18-member group that manages the ship, has tried for several years to add camping for scouts and other groups as part of a $1.6 million renovation. The commission planned to add accommodations for 175 people below the main deck.

But state-mandated safety measures -- including a new exit ramp and sensitive fire detectors -- may be too expensive, said Norwood E. Bryan of Fayetteville, the commission's chairman.

"I wouldn't be surprised if it [the commission] abandons plans for overnight camping for financial reasons," Bryan said.
During World War II, the ship carried its crew of about 2,300 sailors into Naval battles throughout the Pacific. It was decommissioned in 1947 and was scheduled to be scrapped when state leaders organized a campaign that brought it to Wilmington in 1961.

The commission wanted to allow camping programs like those available on at least 14 former warships, including the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C. Scheu said camping would help the battleship generate much-needed revenue. He said annual attendance dropped about 24,000 after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks as people cut back on travel.

About 190,000 people toured the ship during the last fiscal year, up slightly from the 188,000 the previous year, Scheu said.

Agencies that enforce state building codes and the federal Americans with Disabilities Act questioned the safety of people who would be sleeping in unfamiliar space. The N.C. Department of Insurance determined that the 728-foot-ship is considered "a building whose shape [and coloring] resembles a ship."

Good enough for Grandpa to sail into harm's way, but now that it's a building ...

Sometimes the law is an ass.

USS North Carolina Memorial infor here. Ship history here.

Update: More pictures of this beautiful ship - er -"building" here. Update2: Don't miss the photos here, either, especially if you want to know how to build a battleship... NAVSEA might want to take a look.

Update3: Of course, if we wanted the little darlings to have the full Navy experience, we could set up fire watches (scroll down, it's there), sounding and security patrols, an OOD and a CDO instead of bothering with expensive alarms.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Active duty war opposition goes online

A small number of active personnel put up a webiste allowing for the expression of anti-Iraq war sentiment, as set out here;
A small group of active-duty military members opposed to the occupation of Iraq, including a Norfolk-based sailor, has created a Web site intended to collect thousands of signatures of other service members who agree.
Seaman Jonathan Hutto, a Norfolk-based sailor who helped set up the Web site this month, said in a telephone interview with The Virginian-Pilot that the group has collected about 120 names and is trying to verify that they are legitimate service members.

There are 1.4 million troops on active duty, including members of the National Guard and Reserve.

The odds are that this will get media coverage way out of proportion to its size.

U.S. Marines to train with Sri Lankan Navy

Reported here:
US Marines will conduct exercises with the Sri Lanka Navy later this month, deploying more than 1,000 personnel and support ships for amphibious and counter-insurgency manoeuvres with the aim of 'containing' growing Chinese presence in the region and to test its latest theories on 'littoral battle' without putting American soldiers at risk.
Whilst the manoeuvres will put the Tamil Tigers on notice to engage seriously in the upcoming peace talks in Geneva, the location of the exercise clearly indicates that India too has signed off on the venture as a subtle warning to the Chinese not to unduly intrude upon the Indian Ocean Region (IOR),' Brigadier Arun Sahgal of the United Service Institution of India told IANS.

For Sri Lanka, however, US Marine training in amphibious warfare will equip its navy to counter the Sea Tigers, the world's only insurgent force with an aggressively operational naval wing that deploys custom-built boats which were launched in a suicide attack on the southern port of Galle Oct 18.

The US and India, however, have long eyed with trepidation China's 'string of pearls' strategy in the IOR of clinching regional defence and security agreements to secure its mounting energy requirements, enhance its military profile from the Persian Gulf to the South China Sea and significantly expand its presence and visibility in the area.

Russian freighter sinks, 11 of 18 crew rescued

Reported here:
- A total of 11 sailors have now been found alive from the 18-man crew of a Russian cargo ship that sunk in the West Pacific two days ago, after rescuers found another six on Wednesday, Russian officials in Vladivostok said.
The vessel, which was transporting timber, sunk within one hour when a sudden heavy storm broke out, causing the vessel to lurch violently. Most of the timber broke through the holds, damaging hatches and equipment, and water began to flow into the ship, one of the survivors, speaking from a South Korean hospital, said.

When the ship heeled to an angle of about 20 degrees, the captain ordered the crew to leave the vessel. However, only one of the two rescue boats was operational, the other being trapped under a collapsed mast.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Don't mess with the U.S. Navy

A ferry boat skipper in Scotland learned that the U.S. Navy takes area security very, very seriously as reported here:
The skipper of a tiny Clyde ferry feared his boat was going to be blown out of the water by a US warship yesterday.

The Kenilworth was sailing from Kilcreggan to Gourock when the American threatened to open fire.

The US ship had just set out from the nearby Faslane Navy base when it radioed the warning.

A source said: "The ferry skipper was just toddling across to Gourock when he got a call on the radio.

"A departing US naval ship warned, 'Unidentified vessel approaching on my starboard side, please identify yourself. If you fail to do so, we will open fire on you with live ammunition.'"

The source added: "The skipper got a real fright and radioed him back, saying he was just a wee ferry.

"If you've got a big battleship loaded with guns bearing down on you and threatening to shoot, it's quite scary."

The incident happened at 9.40am on the first day of a massive international training exercise - Operation Neptune Warrior - off the west coast of Scotland.
No one was hurt. Probably a few tense moments for all concerned.

Generally, a review of ferry schedules is a good idea at pre-ex biefs. As is a warning to local ferry boat captains to stay clear of naval exercises in progress...

Photo is of MV Kenilworth. Photo notes: The ferry MV Kenilworth arriving at Gourock pierhead, having crossed the Firth of Clyde from Kilcreggan. The television mast on the Rosneath peninsula is visible in the background.
photograph taken 25 January 2006 by User:Dave souza. Any re-use to contain this licence notice and to attribute the work to User:Dave souza at Wikipedia. See here.

Monday, October 23, 2006

Maritime Monday 30 at Fred Fry International

Go! See Fred Fry International: Maritime Monday 30! It's educational and low calorie, too!

The Battle of Leyte Gulf: 23-26 October 1944

The last great surface fleet action began with the Japanese decsion to counter MacArthur's amphibious landing on Leyte in the Philippines. Splitting their fleet and using their suddenly impotent carrier force to lure Halsey's American carriers away from the scene, the Japanese fleet met the Americans in an epic four-day running battle, very well set out in Thomas Cutler's book The Battle of Leyte Gulf: 23-26 October 1944 and in James D. Hornfischer's The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour.

All the elements of war are present - the "fog" caused by missed communications, misunderstood communications and human failings and yet, out of chaos, came victory for the Americans.

One Japanese fleet sails into the narrow Surigao Strait and finds an American force waiting with mines, torpedo boats and a classic "crossing the T" force of battleships. The "Battle of Surigao Strait" is the last surface action of big gun ships in history.

A second Japanese force exits San Bernandino Strait and runs into a rag-tag collection of Escort carriers and gets engaged by little destroyer escorts and the "Taffys" - an engagement so furious that the Japanese mistook the escorts for cruisers and the escort carriers for Halsey's fleet.

Out of the smoke of battle come the great ships and crews who refused to give up the fight in the "Battle of Samar". The "small boys" -destroyers and destroyer escorts Samuel B. Roberts, Hoel, Heermann and Johnston fought a furious rear-guard action to allow their slow escort carriers to attempt a run to safety. Hoel sunk. Roberts sunk. Johnston sunk. But only after attacking and attacking and weaving their way back to the attack against faster, bigger and better armed ships. Stinging the Japanese ships and slowing their advance as they tried to figure out what they were dealing with. And the pilots of Navy planes, simulating strafing runs without ammunition.

The courage of the Americans causes the Japanese to withdraw, never to pose a serious threat to the US Navy again.

Days to remember and to honor those who fought and died in the Battle of Leyte Gulf.

Good summary here. Army view here. Info on USS Johnston (DD-557) here. Hoel here. Samuel B. Roberts (DE-413) here. Gambier Bay here. St Lo here.

Medal of Honor citation for CDR Earnest Evans, CO of Johnston reads:
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty as commanding officer of the U.S.S. Johnston in action against major units of the enemy Japanese fleet during the battle off Samar on 25 October 1944. The first to lay a smokescreen and to open fire as an enemy task force, vastly superior in number, firepower and armor, rapidly approached. Comdr. Evans gallantly diverted the powerful blasts of hostile guns from the lightly armed and armored carriers under his protection, launching the first torpedo attack when the Johnston came under straddling Japanese shellfire. Undaunted by damage sustained under the terrific volume of fire, he unhesitatingly joined others of his group to provide fire support during subsequent torpedo attacks against the Japanese and, outshooting and outmaneuvering the enemy as he consistently interposed his vessel between the hostile fleet units and our carriers despite the crippling loss of engine power and communications with steering aft, shifted command to the fantail, shouted steering orders through an open hatch to men turning the rudder by hand and battled furiously until the Johnston, burning and shuddering from a mortal blow, lay dead in the water after 3 hours of fierce combat. Seriously wounded early in the engagement, Comdr. Evans, by his indomitable courage and brilliant professional skill, aided materially in turning back the enemy during a critical phase of the action. His valiant fighting spirit throughout this historic battle will venture as an inspiration to all who served with him.

UPDATE: Added information about the loss of USS St Lo, sunk by a Kamikaze on October 25, 1944.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sunday Ship History: USS Norton Sound AVM1/AV11

A late entry into World War II, USS Norton Sound (AV11) began life as a seaplane tender that served off Saipan and "assisted in splashing three hostile air raiders" among other achievements:
During this time Norton Sound and her sister ships fought off attacking enemy aircraft (Including Kamikaze suicide planes) during 150 air raids. While all of this was going on, Patrol Bombing Squadron 26 (VPB-26), assigned to Norton Sound was conducting some 412 missions consisting of: anti ship and submarine, and long range reconnaissance patrols; mounting attacks against enemy shipping and shore facilities; and conducting air/sea rescue missions. The final combined tally for Norton Sound and VPB-26 was: 16 ships sunk and 31 ships damaged; 1 aircraft destroyed and 2 damaged; 2 docks and facilities destroyed; and 3 radio stations damaged.
After the war, Norton Sound was selected to become the U.S. Navy's test bed for surface ship missile systems and converted to AVM-1. While the list of things she was involved is extensive,
Her RDT&E career in the late 40's and through the 50's and early 60's was primarily, but certainly not exclusively, involved with the development and refinement of the TERRIER, TARTAR and TALOS Guided Missile Systems, which resulted in the 3T Surface Missile Systems "Fleet". The ships comprising this "Fleet" have been a major component in the defensive shield which has increasingly guarded our fleet and helped to protect our Nation, starting with the introduction (re-commissioning) of USS Boston (CAG-1) on 1 November 1955 and USS Gyatt (DDG-1) on 31 December 1956; a period of 31 years.
One scientific result of her work was confirmation of the Van Allen radiation belt around the earth (see here).

Other tests included Sea Sparrow, Aegis, Typhoon, and the lightweight 5"/54 gun system and many more. Without a floating test bed for these systems, it is difficult to imagine how the stresses of shipboard operations could have been tried. The large stern deck of the ship provided exceptional space for the tests. for example:
In the Spring of 1981, the pre-production model of the Vertical Launcher was installed at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi. During the next two years, the VLS under went extensive testing and observation. The USS Norton Sound was the only AT-SEA Testing Platform for the AEGIS Weapon System, the success of which has resulted in the production of the new Ticonderoga Class Cruisers. The summer of 1983 saw the installation of an advanced VLS which went under test and observation until the Norton Sound's final days of active service.
She was decommissioned in 1986 after nearly 43 years of very useful service.

Her crew, both in war and peace, should be recognized for their professionalism and service to this country. Next time you see an Aegis ship or a successful Navy missile launch remember Norton Sound and render a salute.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

About that coming oil shortage

Oil will always be available, you know, for a price:
A University of Washington economic geologist says there is lots of crude oil left for human use.

Eric Cheney said Friday in a news release that changing economics, technological advances and efforts such as recycling and substitution make the world's mineral resources virtually infinite.

For instance, oil deposits unreachable 40 years ago can be tapped using improved technology, and oil once too costly to extract from tar sands, organic matter or coal is now worth manufacturing. Though some resources might be costlier now, they still are needed.

"The most common question I get is, 'When are we going to run out of oil?' The correct response is, 'Never,'" said Cheney. "It might be a heck of a lot more expensive than it is now, but there will always be some oil available at a price, perhaps $10 to $100 a gallon."
That's what I've been saying.

Add in increasing use of alternative technologies, and the supply of energy for the future is virtually unlimited.

Ship piracy in perspective

StategyPage puts Piracy Into Perspective.

Actually, the problem is even less than noted in the sense that many of the reported cases in the Strait of Malacca involve robbers climbing on ships at anchor to steal things not nailed down.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Indonesia to buy submarines from Russia

Reported here:
The Indonesian Navy will purchase six modern diesel submarines from Russia as part of an upgrading of its aging military arsenal, the state news agency reported Thursday.

Navy Chief of Staff Admiral Slamet Soebijanto told Antara the military will buy four Kilo class and two Amur 950, Lada class, Russian submarines. No financial details were disclosed.

The Russian submarines, equipped with missiles, torpedoes, and anti-mine systems, were chosen over French and German equivalents "because they are affordable and technologically reliable," Soebijanto was quoted as saying.
More on Kilo here. Info on"Amur" here.

UPDATE: Do you remember that the U.S. government donated over $400 million to Indonesia for tsunami relief? and more was donated through private sources?

Latest ONI Worldwide Threat to Shipping Report (to 18 Oct 06)

latest ONI WWTTS report found here

Pirates kill four fishermen off Zamoboanga, Philippines

Reported here
FOUR fishermen were killed by pirates in fierce gun battle at sea on Wednesday off the southern Philippine province of Zamboanga del Sur, a regional army commander said.

Four pirates were also wounded in the fighting, but escaped even before security forces could arrive, said," Brigadier General Raymundo Ferrer, commander of the 1st Infantry Division, said.

I love a mystery

Editors of notes Unusual Vessel Spotted:
These interesting images were submitted by a reader of Maritime Reporter & Engineering News. Images of this unusual vessel were reportedly taken in the Port of Ilwaco off the Washington State coast. According to the unidentified photographer, the “crew” wore civilian clothes but guarded the boat closely and would not answer any questions.
Looks like some sort of high speed catamaran variation with a nifty conning station.

Anyone know anything?

UPDATE (10/23/06): Bill Fannon, in the comments, points to this site for more information and pictures. Thanks, Bill!
UPDATE2 (10/24/06) More here.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

It ain't stealthy, but we knows what we likes

USS Missouri (BB-63) does her thing.

Bad habit

Crewmwmber of the QE2 busted by British customs for trying to smuggle 765,000 cigarettes, as rerported herel.

I guess the "personal use" excuse might not wash?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Tamil Tiger suicide boat bombers

Terrorist trend=setters Tamil Sea Tigers ram explosive-laden boats into escorts of a troop transport and kill 17 Sri Lankan sailors as set out here:
At least 17 members of the Sri Lankan navy and an unknown number of Tamil Tiger rebels died in a sea-battle on Thursday after separatist suicide attackers rammed explosive-laden motorboats into a naval fast-attack ship, sinking it within minutes.

The ship was part of a convoy escorting a troop carrier when it came under attack by a flotilla of 15 fast-moving craft manned by Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam, according to Commander DKP Dassanayake, the navy spokesman.

The Sri Lankan government said its air force sank five Tamil Tiger boats in retaliation for the rebel attack, which almost succeeded in sinking the troop transporter, which was carrying 710 soldiers.

The most serious escalation of violence since the start of a ceasefire in 2002 has shattered any remaining hopes for a resumption of peace talks and plunged the island into what is now little short of civil war.

"Our monitors saw several Tiger boats attacking the troop transporter and firing," said Helen Olafsdottir of the Sri Lanka Monitoring Mission (SLMM), which oversees the ceasefire. Neither side has given notice of intention to withdraw from the ceasefire, which was signed by Ranil Wickremesinghe, the former Sri Lankan prime minister, and Velupillai Prabhakaran, the LTTE leader.
Previous report on the "Sea Tigers" here.

It's messy little war.

Popular Science does DDG-1000


As seen in The Invisible Warship
It will be almost silent, nearly invisible to enemy radar—and capable of dropping six powerful missiles simultaneously on a single target up to 95 miles away. But the most important feature of the DDG1000 Zumwalt, the Navy's first new destroyer in 30 years, could be its versatility. The 600-foot-long ship will be just as comfortable in the deep ocean as in the mine-infested shallows of the Persian Gulf.
Every Surface Warfare Officer's wildest dream.

600 feet long!



Probably not to the naked eye.

Which, you know, some people use instead of or in addition to radar.

Getting past small picket boats with a guy on watch with a pair of binoculars (maybe even a night vision thing), a 15 million candle power searchlight and a portable radio might be tough.

Small picket boats being kind of low tech, very low cost detectors of $2.3 billion fancy schmancy stealth ships, you know.

Just saying.

UPDATE (10/19/06): Maybe this will help- a cloaking device.

Canada leads anti-terror NATO navy in Med


Reported here:
Canada's navy is leading counterterrorism operations in the Mediterranean as part of its command of a NATO high-readiness reaction force.

The Canadian-led naval flotilla recently sailed into the Mediterranean as part of Operation Active Endeavor, NATO's response to the war on terror.

''The role is to do counterterrorism, to go after the bad guys that are involved in the illegal smuggling of weapons, humans, and in some cases terrorists,'' Commodore Denis Rouleau said from his command ship HMCS Iroquois.

He took command in January of the alliance's naval force, dubbed the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1. Over the last nine months, it's been training and operating in the North Atlantic, the North Sea and the Mediterranean under Canadian command.

The five-ship NATO force is to keep an eye on the large amount of ship traffic in the Mediterranean, singling out suspicious vessels or conducting routine inspections.
Shown is HMCS Iroquois (DDH 280).

Dubai Ports executive says US port security "Not ambitious enough"

Reported here:
"Is imaging and radiation detection necessary to protect us? If we believe it is, we should agree to do it everywhere," Sanborn said.

"This requires a global approach and not the unilateral or bilateral initiatives currently underway," he added. "The threats are global, they are not just directed at the United States."

Sanborn said Dubai Ports World is working to form a coalition with other private port operators to address security issues and called on governments around the world to meet industry representatives early next year to hammer out new global standards for port security.

He said any large port would require a number of scanning devices capable of detecting nuclear or other weapons inside shipping containers to upgrade security without impinging on the international supply chain of goods.
Well, "no half measures" is one approach, but if it's US tax dollars at work, then making an assessment of the ports most involved in US trade and starting with them is not an unreasonable risk-based approach.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Latest piracy report (to 16 Oct 06) from ICC CCS

The latest ICC Commercial Crime Services piracy report is here. It lists 7 ship boarding attempts or successes in what appear to be common robberies.

Three of these occurred in Chittagong anchorage, Bangladesh, which remains an active spot. Tanzania scored a couple as did Indonesia.

Attacks at sea seem to have slowed substanitally.

New Maritime Secuirty Rand Report: Don't focus just on containers

A new Maritime Security-related Rand report is out as noted here, with some common sense:
Cruise ships and ferry boats need more protection against terrorist attacks that could kill and injure many passengers and cause serious financial losses, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

“Attacks on cruise ships and ferry boats would meet the interrelated requirements of visibility, destruction and disruption that drive transnational terrorism in the contemporary era,” said Peter Chalk, one of the report's co-authors. “Recognizing this is essential to any comprehensive regime of maritime security.”

The report concludes it is not adequate to base maritime counterterrorism efforts only on increasing port security and the security of cargo container ships, rail cars and trucks that transport goods into and out of United States ports.

“Focusing solely on securing the container supply chain without defending other parts of the maritime environment is like bolting down the front door of a house and leaving the back door wide open,” said Henry Willis, a RAND researcher and a co-author of the report.
And an interesting summary (partial):
- Reducing the risk of an atomic device being smuggled into a U.S. port is a priority, though increasing attention to the control of nuclear weapons and materials may be more important than inspecting containers. Policies must balance the need for reducing the risk with the need to keep shipping open.
- There is no observable evidence that terrorists and piracy syndicates are collaborating to attack maritime targets. In fact, their motivations and overall objectives are frequently in conflict.
- The potential economic impact of a maritime terrorism incident could be reduced by improving procedures to reopen ports and restore container shipping systems that might be shut down following a terrorist attack or natural disaster.
-There is little prospect of terrorists successfully blocking a shipping lane by sinking a ship. Such an attack would not achieve terrorists' desire for maximum public attention through inflicted loss of life, and modern hull design makes it difficult to sink a ship. In addition, if an obstruction were created in a critical shipping channel it could be cleared quickly.
- Because cruise liners and ferries must allow passengers to move freely, security improvements should focus on developing more stringent and effective means for screening passengers, crew and luggage.
Full Rand Report available here.

Monday, October 16, 2006

Maritime Monday 29 at Fred Fry International

Go here for interesting reading andlinks to maritime stuff.

Really. Go now.

British anti-terror cargo plan -similar to U.S. plan- troubles the EU

container ship

The UK plans to establish a new cargo security system, similar to the one the US is establishing, but some in the EU are troubled by the display of Birtish autonomy, as set out here:
The UK looks set to introduce a new cargo security regime similar to the United States' 24-hour advance manifest rule, raising fears among shippers that it will slow the free movement of goods and disrupt global supply chains.

The UK Home Office's Counter-Terrorism & Intelligence Directorate has been working closely with the UK Customs and Revenue service on a scheme that would require cargo consignment and transport data to be submitted to the authorities prior to the arrival of the cargo in the UK, according to the European Shippers' Council (ESC).

These requirements would apply to consignors, consignees, carriers and logistics service providers.

The measures, proposed for implementation by April 2007, are aimed at providing more data on the movement of goods and people in order to guard against terrorism and better detect cases of crime and fraud.

The move appears roughly modelled on the US requirement for all container carriers to provide cargo manifest data to US Customs 24 hours prior to loading at a foreign port destined for the US. Canada followed suit in April 2004.
Some shipper are concerned about shipping dealys, but more interesting is the response of European shippers:
Shippers in Europe also highlighted the potential impact on trade, raising the issue of whether the UK's actions constituted a breach of the principles of the Single European Market.
Or even the EU management:
'While it is arguable that national security is the responsibility of individual member states, it is questionable whether this proposal does not also have a Customs purpose and should therefore be dealt with within the normal EU framework for changes to Customs procedures and requirements,' ....
I like that part about how national security is arguably the "responsibility of individual member states."

Unless the EU sets up a scheme to control cargo security and has the means of enforcement, what choice do member states have?

India's new naval base

India continues to grow its naval presence, as set out here:
The Indian Navy is getting a new base on the country's east coast. It is 50 kilometers south of Visakhapatnam, where the navy's eastern command is headquartered. This is India's second east-coast naval base, and it is designed to help protect the country's trade with Southeast Asia and to keep a wary eye on China's naval posture in the Bay of Bengal.
The proposed base on India's east coast is the latest addition to its rapidly growing naval and maritime profile. India's navy is the fifth-largest in the world. It has ambitions of becoming a blue-water navy, and another naval base will contribute to realizing this ambition.

India describes the waters extending from the Strait of Hormuz to the Strait of Malacca, from Africa's east coast to the western shores of Australia as part of its "rightful domain". An overwhelming proportion of India's imports, especially its oil imports, come by sea. Control over sea lanes of communication (SLOCs) is therefore vital for realization of its dreams of becoming a global economic powerhouse. All this requires a naval and maritime fleet that can protect the SLOCs.

India's "Look-East" policy has resulted in increased economic, strategic and other engagement with Southeast Asia. Over 50% of India's trade passes through the Malacca Strait, making security of this waterway, particularly in the context of piracy there and the lurking threat of maritime terrorism, a crucial security concern for India.

An enhanced naval presence in the Bay of Bengal is therefore vital for India. It was this that prompted India to set up a naval command on the Andaman and Nicobar islands. The new base on India's east coast will further bolster the Andaman and Nicobar naval command, Prabhakar observes, adding that since the Andaman and Nicobar Islands are vulnerable to seismic and tsunami threats, "another base on the Eastern mainland of India is quite essential".

"The political-strategic intent of the new base is to build sinews for India's "Look-East" policy not only in trade terms but also in the context of the evolving maritime balance of power in the Asia-Pacific," says Prabhakar. China is the dominant concern. "The proposed base would have comprehensive anti-air, anti-submarine and amphibious capability, meaning a greater allocation of priority to the emergent Chinese naval force posture in the Myanmar region."
Hmmm. China.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday Ship History: USNS Observation Island (T-AGM-23)

With all the excitement about the North Korean nuke and missile tests, it may be a good time to visit a ship, operated by the Navy's Military Sealift Command, that may play a role in monitoring what the DPRK is up to. The ship is a Missile Range Instrumentation Ship- T-AGM. In this case, USNS Observation Island (T-AGM-23, whose mission is described as:
USNS Observation Island operates worldwide, monitoring compliance with strategic arms treaties and supporting U.S. military weapons test programs. Observation Island carries an Air Force shipborne phased-array radar system for collecting data on missile tests. The ship is operated by Military Sealift Command for the U.S. Air Force Technical Applications Center at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.
Perhaps the description here helps clarify things:
The Cobra Judy radar is a ship-based radar program based on the US Naval Ship Observation Island [T-AGM-23].

COBRA JUDY operates from Pearl Harbor and is designed to detect, track and collect intelligence data on US. Russian, and other strategic ballistic missile tests over the Pacific Ocean

The AN/SPQ-11 shipborne phased array radar is designed to detect and track ICBM's launched by Russia in their west-to-east missile range. The Cobra Judy operates in the 2900-3100 MHz band. The octagonal S-band array, composed of 12 288 antenna elements, forms a large octagonal structure approximately 7 m in diameter. and is integrated into a mechanically rotated steel turret. The entire system weighs about 250 tonnes, stands over forty feet high.

In 1985, Raytheon installed an 9-GHz X-band radar, using a parabolic dish antenna to complement the S-band phased array system. The five story X-band dish antenna is installed aft of the ship's funnel and forward of the phased array. The X-band upgrade [which may be associated with the COBRA SHOE program name] was intended to improve the system's ability to collect intelligence data on the terminal phase of ballistic missile tests, since operation in X-band offers a better degree of resolution and target separation.

The S-Band and X-Band radars are used to verify treaty compliance and provide support to missile development tests by the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. The radars are also being used for research and development work in areas not accessible to ground-based sensors.
Got that?

Before it became T-AGM-23, Observation Island had other identities:
Observation Island (EAG-154) was laid down as a Mariner Class high speed cargo ship 15 September 1952 by the New York Shipbuilding Corp., Camden, N.J.; launched as Empire State Mariner 15 August 1953; sponsored by Mrs. Samuel C. Waugh; and delivered to the Maritime Administration and the United States Lines for operation under General Agency Agreement 24 February 1954.

Empire State Mariner, Capt. V. R. Arkin, Master, made three voyages for MSTS. The first two took her to Bremerhaven and Liverpool. The third, commencing in May 1954, took her along both the east and west coasts, as well as to the Canal Zone, Guam, Korea, and Japan. She returned to Mobile, Ala. in September 1954, and entered the National Defense Reserve Fleet 9 November.

Empire State Mariner transferred to the Navy 10 September 1956 with three other Mariners. Her conversion to the first naval ship having a fully integrated Fleet Ballistic Missile System was authorized 15 October 1957, and partial completion of the project was accomplished at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, Portsmouth, Va. before she commissioned 5 December 1958 as Observation Island (EAG-154), Captain Leslie M. Slack, USN, in command.

During the conversion there were no major hull or engineering changes made other than installation of a roll stabilization system. However, extensive alterations were accomplished in the superstructure and hold areas so as to accomodate the FBM Weapons System. Observation Island departed her homeport of Norfolk 3 January 1959, underwent shakedown at Guantanamo Bay, and then operated on the Atlantic Missile Range off Cape Kennedy, conducting dummy missile launches and communications tests.

In March 1959 Observation Island returned to Norfolk Naval Shipyard for installation of additional equipment, including the Ships Inertial Navigation System (SINS). In June she steamed for her new homeport, Port Canaveral, Fla., and made preparations for the first at-sea launch of a Polaris missile. Designated UGM-27, the missile was successfully launched from Observation Island 27 August. [The photo from here purports to show that first launch.]

Following this milestone, Observation Island returned to Norfolk Naval Shipyard for installation of a fire control system to enable her to launch more sophisticated guided versions of new generation Polaris missiles. She also received a new launcher, the developmental prototype of those installed in the FBM submarines.

This work was completed in January 1960 and Observation Island returned to Port Canaveral to continue Polaris test launch operations. After a total of six launchings, the ship commenced support of Polaris launchings from FBM submarines. She provided optical and electronic data gathering services, and acted as communications relay station between submerged submarines and the supervisor of range operations at the Cape. The first successful fully guided Polaris missile launching from a submerged submarine took place 20 July 1960 from George Washington (SSBN-598). Through October Observation Island also supported launches from Patrick Henry (SSBN-599).
It seems that Observation Island may be owned and operated for the Navy by Maersk as set out here.

Observation Island is scheduled to be replaced:
The Cobra Judy Replacement program will replace the current U.S. Naval Ship (USNS) Observation Island which has become unsustainable and due to leave service no later that 2012. This program will fund the development of a single ship-based radar suite for world wide technical data collection against ballistic missiles in flight. Prior funding provided instrumentation of quality radar data and imaging, detailing threat assessment of ballistic missile development, testing and range augmentation and monitored or verified specific aspects of United States treaties with other countries. To avoid vulnerabilities in our national security it is imperative that the Navy replace the current capability of Cobra Judy in a timely manner to prevent any potential gap in coverage. Prior studies have indicated that a ship-based radar replacement is the most timely and cost effective solution.

The acquisition strategy calls for leveraging ongoing Navy Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) radar development, updating existing user interface/communications/data handling equipment designs from a similar operational unit, and purchasing and integrating the mission equipment aboard an appropriate merchant-class hull. System design will be accomplished using in-hand technologies and commercial standards to lower schedule risk and produce a product with the lowest possible life-cycle cost.
A 2002 MIT reported investigated the feasibility of converting an existing ship to a Mobile Test Range Asset in order to field a platform carrying the Cobra Judy II (CJ2) system on a much newer ship. Based on a review of available hull forms and prior research, the Henry J. Kaiser class oiler (T-AO 187) was found to be the most suitable conversion candidate.
A contract has been let to Halter Marine to build the new ship. A possible look for the new T-AGM is seen in the nearby drawing. Whenever she is replaced, Observation Island has been a valuable asset to the United States for over 50 years and her crews deserve recognition for a job well done.

SAFE Port Act signed

Reported here:
President George Bush has signed into law a bill aimed at boosting security at US ports, saying the new mandate would make the country "more prepared, more prosperous and more secure."

The bill – the Security and Accountability for Every Port Act of 2006, or SAFE Port Act – would, first, “strengthen physical security measures at American ports by utilizing 21st century inspection equipment at the port’s 22 busiest ports,” he said.

The bill provides legislative authority for key elements of port security strategy, such as by codifying into law the Container Security Initiative (CSI) launched in 2002 and the Customs Trade Partnership Against Terrorism (C-TPAT), a joint effort between the public and private sectors to improve cargo security.

It would also require the Homeland Security Department to establish a plan to speed the resumption of trade in the event of a terrorist attack on the ports or waterways.

Pilot programs would be established at three foreign ports to test technology for “non-intrusive” cargo inspections. Currently only one foreign port, Hong Kong, scans all US-bound cargo for nuclear materials.

The legislation approves $400 million a year over five years for risk-based grants for training and exercises at ports.

Background checks and credentials will also be required for workers at the nation's 361 ports, while preferential cargo processing is offered to importers who meet certain security requirements.
Not perfect, but it's something.

Philippines can't patrol southern sea frontier with current assets

Reported here:
National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales admitted here over the weekend that the government is helpless in securing the vast sea lanes between Mindanao and Indonesia, which are part of the so-called southern backdoor that is a favorite route of smugglers, pirates, and members of the Southeast Asian terrorist network Jemaah Islamiyah (JI).

People on board small boats take less than three hours to travel from the nearest Indonesian island of Sangihue Talaud to the town of Jose Abad Santos in Davao del Sur.

Gonzales said Indonesian and Filipino boats make more than 26,000 trips each year plying the waters between the islands in East Indonesia and the long coastline of Mindanao.

"We cannot watch and check every boat that travels between Indonesia and Mindanao. Over 26,000 trips are made by these boats and it is impossible to monitor each of them given the government’s meager resources," said Gonzales, who arrived here for a series of meetings with security officials following the recent spate of bombings in Central Mindanao.

"How do you expect government to tightly watch its territorial waters when we lack the necessary equipment and vessels to patrol our borders with Indonesia?" he asked.

The Philippine Navy and Coast Guard do not have enough patrol craft to secure the country’s territorial waters in spite of the existing cooperation between the Philippines and Indonesia to conduct joint patrol operations.

Gonzales said the main operations of the al-Qaeda-linked JI terrorists are still based in Indonesia while Mindanao is being used by the group as a training ground and a base for recruiting new members.
Some U.S. aid in this might be appropriate. Pirates and terrorists are always quick to exploit security gaps.

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Fighting the pirates of Suriname

The local police take steps to fight pirates off Suriname:
The Suriname police force and the navy will intensify patrols in SurinameĆ­s fishing grounds along the coast, a police official informed. During the past weeks, fishermen have reported at least seven armed robberies at sea by pirates.

According to the victims the attacks took place along the entire coastal area stretching from the Potosibank in the west to Marowijne in the east.

At least three masked gunmen speaking English and Surinamese with a Guyanese accent are said to be involved in the attacks. At gunpoint victims were ordered to hand over not only the outboard motors of their vessels, but also other valuables, fuel and the catch, including dried and raw fish.
Controlling the fishing grounds is extremely difficult due to a lack of adequate and seaworthy patrol boats. Currently the government is studying proposals to establish a Coast Guard with assistance of the United States of America and the Netherlands.

Chicken Stuff

Probably been all over the internet for years, but it made me laugh.

Why Did The Chicken Cross The Road?

DR. PHIL: The problem we have here is that this chicken won't realize that he must first deal with the problem on "THIS" side of the road before it goes after the problem on the "OTHER SIDE" of the road. What we need to do is help him realize how stupid he's acting by not taking on his "CURRENT" problems before adding "NEW" problems.

OPRAH: Well I understand that the chicken is having problems, which is why he wants to cross this road so bad. So instead of having the chicken learn from his mistakes and take falls, which is a part of life, I'm going to give this chicken a car so that he can just drive across the road and not live his life like the rest of the chickens.

GEORGE W. BUSH: We don't really care why the chicken crossed the road. We just want to know if the chicken is on our side of the road, or not. The chicken is either against us, or for us. There is no middle ground here.

DONALD RUMSFELD: Now to the left of the screen, you can clearly see the satellite image of the chicken crossing the road.

ANDERSONCOOPER/ CNN: We have reason to believe there is a chicken, but we have not yet been allowed to have access to the other side of the road.

JOHN KERRY: Although I voted to let the chicken cross the road, I am now against it! It was the wrong road to cross, and I was misled about the chicken's intentions. I am for it now, and will remain against it.

JUDGE JUDY: That chicken crossed the road because he's GUILTY! You can see it in his eyes and the way he walks.

PAT BUCHANAN: To steal the job of a decent, hardworking American.

MARTHA STEWART: No one called me to warn me which way that chicken was going. I had a standing order at the Farmer's Market to sell my eggs when the price dropped to a certain level.

DR SEUSS: Did the chicken cross the road? Did he cross it with a toad? Yes, the chicken crossed the road, but why it crossed I've not been told.

ERNEST HEMINGWAY: To die in the rain. Alone.

JERRY FALWELL: Because the chicken was gay! Can't you people see the plain truth in front of your face? The chicken was going to the "other side." That's why they call it the "other side." Yes, my friends,that chicken is gay. And if you eat that chicken, you will become gay too. I say we boycott all chickens until we sort out this abomination that the liberal media whitewashes with seemingly harmless phrases like "the other side." That chicken should not be free to cross the road. It's as plain and simple as that!

GRANDPA: In my day we didn't ask why the chicken crossed the road. Somebody told us the chicken crossed the road, and that was good enough.

BARBARA WALTERS: Isn't that interesting? In a few moments, we will be listening to the chicken tell, for the first time, the heart warming story of how it experienced a serious case of molting, and went on to accomplish its life long dream of crossing the road.

JOHN LENNON: Imagine all the chickens in the world crossing roads together - in peace.

ARISTOTLE: It is the nature of chickens to cross the road.

BILL GATES: I have just released eChicken2006, which will not only cross roads, but will lay eggs, file your important documents, and balance your check book. Internet explorer is an integral part of eChicken. The Platform is much more stable and will never cra..#@&&^( C \..... reboot.

ALBERT EINSTEIN: Did the chicken really cross the road, or did the road move beneath the chicken?

BILL CLINTON: I did not cross the road with THAT chicken. What is your definition of chicken?

AL GORE: I invented the chicken!

COLONEL SANDERS: Did I miss one?

Friday, October 13, 2006

Sri Lanka bans r/c cars and other toys

As set out in Toys from Hell:
The government fears that terrorists would, say, maneuver a radio controlled truck, loaded with five pounds of explosives, so that it ended up under a military vehicle. Then, boom. No terrorists have tried this, and maybe none have even thought of it yet, but someone in the government believed it better to be on the safe side.
Seems to me I recall the use of such dangerous "toys" from the last "Dirty Harry" movie, The Dead Pool. More here:
A modified 1/10 scale 2wd Associated RC10 off road racer with an off-the-shelf Parma International 1963 Chevrolet Corvette body was used in the famous chase scene in which "Dirty Harry" Callahan is being pursued through the streets of San Francisco, California by a highly explosive bomb disguised as an R/C car. The "bomb" was driven by world-champion race driver Jay Halsey. The car was in fact was sold with an electric motor being a competition model, which for cars in that scale was at that time only sold and permitted to enter competitions with electric motors; the internal combustion engine soundtrack were added in post-production.
The terrorists in question, the Tamil Tigers have been leaders in developing new ways to blow people up.

I wonder if The Dead Pool just made it to Sri Lanka?

UPDATE: Another use for R/C cars in Iraq.

UPDATE2: Original article here.

Philippines, Mindanao at highest terror alert level

Reported here:
POLICE and military officials have placed Mindanao under “extreme critical alert”—the highest of a four-step public terror warning system—after three bombings this week left 12 people dead and the region braced for more attacks.

“We are on full operations mode,” Armed Forces Chief Hermogenes Esperon Jr. told reporters.

He said almost 60,000 troops, half the entire military, were now on duty in Mindanao and the Sulu archipelago.

Raising the alert level to extreme signals the government is bracing itself for more terror attacks from Muslim extremists. Metro Manila remained on moderate alert.
He said it was likely that the Al Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah groups would continue attacking targets in the south.

Both groups, which are on the US government’s list of foreign terrorist organizations, have been blamed for a series of bombings on Tuesday and Wednesday that killed 12.

The threat of more attacks has forced the United States, Britain, Australia and Japan to issue new travel advisories.

Esperon said more roadblocks would be put up in the south and intelligence gathering would be intensified.

A massive manhunt for Abu Sayyaf leaders and Jemaah Islamiyah bombers Dulmatin and Umar Patek would be stepped up in Sulu, he said.

That operation alone has tied up more than 5,000 troops in dense jungle to capture an estimated 200 militants.

Esperon said the Abu Sayyaf’s strength had fallen to about 420 members from a high of more than 1,000 in 2000.

Security analysts have said that about 30 mostly Indonesian Jemaah Islamiyah militants, including Dulmatin and Patek, were now in the south.

Dulmatin’s wife was arrested last week and, under questioning, confirmed intelligence information that the Abu Sayyaf and Jemaah Islamiyah were plotting to hit more targets in coming days.

The Abu Sayyaf was responsible for the country’s worst terrorist attack in 2004, when its fighters bombed a passenger ferry and killed over 100 people.

It's fighters are also wanted for a series of high-profile kidnappings and murders, including those of two Americans seized in 2001.
In the process, Philippine officials are walking a narrow line in trying to distinguish the JI and AS terrorists from the Moro Islamic Liberation Front ((MILF) group with which they have been conducting peace talks. See here.