Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Saturday, March 31, 2007

How I wasted some time: Action in the North Atlantic

So here I am, with a plate full of stuff to do and on the TV appears Action in the North Atlantic with Bogart and Raymond Massey.

Propaganda? You bet. Good movie - absolutely!

Friday, March 30, 2007

Iran's Naval Tactics?

Described as a "Doctrine of Asymmetric Naval Warfare" here:
...{T}he Iranian concept of Alavi/Ashurai warfare relies not just on spiritual commitment, but also on high-tech weaponry and innovative tactics—a combination employed to great effect on the ground in southern Lebanon by Iran’s protege, the Lebanese Shiite Hizballah, in its war with Israel this summer.
The article goes on to cover the Iranian concept of "dispersed swarming" by its small combatants:
Dispersed swarming tactics are most successful when attackers can elude detection through concealment and mobility, employ stand-off firepower, and use superior situational awareness (intelligence), enabling them to find and engage the enemy first. This accounts for a number of trends in Iranian naval force development in the past two decades. The first is the acquisition and development of small, fast weapons platforms—particularly lightly armed small boats and missile-armed fast-attack craft; extended- and long-range shore- and sea-based antiship missiles; midget and diesel attack submarines (for intelligence gathering, covert mine laying, naval special warfare, and conventional combat operations); low-signature reconnaissance and combat unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs); and the adaptation of the Shahab-3 medium-range surface-to-surface missile armed with a cluster warhead reportedly carrying 1,400 bomblets, for use against enemy naval bases and carrier battle groups.
ANd they have a plan:
In wartime, Iranian naval forces would seek to close the Strait of Hormuz and destroy enemy forces bottled up in the Persian Gulf; therefore speed and surprise would be key. Iranian naval forces would seek to identify and attack the enemy’s centers of gravity as quickly as possible and inflict maximum losses before contact with subordinate units were lost as a result of enemy counterattacks. Geography is Iran’s ally.
And don't forget the stealth flying boats (pictured).

The 35th Anniversary of the Easter Offensive

Thirty-five years ago, the U.S. was withdrawing its forces from Vietnam, my ship was off the southern tip of South Vietnam, replenishing some small boys, and headed to Thailand for liberty. But on March 30, 1972, we were ordered to make best speed for the gunline off the DMZ because the North Vietnamese, with tanks and regular army troops were rolling across the DMZ in what became known as the Easter Offensive:
When the DRV Vietnam launched the offensive in 1972 it had every reason to be confident of success. U.S. forces had been gradually withdrawing from South Vietnam for the previous three years, growing anti-war sentiment had spread among the population and government of the U.S., and the failure of South Vietnamese forces during Operation Lam Son 719 in 1971 had all added to the DRV's confidence. However, it was during this offensive that the North Vietnamese failed as the Army of the Republic of Vietnam (ARVN) put up stiff resistance and inflicted much material damage to their opponents. The result was a military disaster for North Vietnamese forces.
The offensive began on 30 March, when 200,000 PAVN troops under the command of General Vo Nguyen Giap, crossed the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and attacked the three northernmost provinces of South Vietnam. Rolling over the border outposts, PAVN then attacked the city of Quang Tri from the north and west.
This wave of attacks was followed by offensives against Kontum Province on 12 April and the city of An Loc, in Binh Long Province on 19 April.

The second wave of the offensive was designed to split the RVN in two by driving through the Central Highlands to the sea. The attack on Quang Tri was met by heavy aerial bombardment by aircraft of the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force]]. B-52 Stratofortress bombers were used to extend the air strikes against PAVN forces in the DMZ on 4 April, and into areas of the northern DRV on 10 April in a bombing campaign unprecedented during the Vietnam Conflict. Targets near the DRV capital of Hanoi was bombed on 15 April.

Quang Tri fell to PAVN on 1 May. In response, the U.S. and RVN negotiators withdrew from the Paris Peace Talks three days later, although talks would resume on 13 July. PAVN soon pressed the attack southward from Quang Tri southward toward the old imperial capital of Hue, where they were rebuffed with the assistance of American air support on 5 May. The U.S. military reinforced its in-theater air forces by shuttling squadrons in from as far away as Japan and the continental U.S. This aerial armada continued to provide tactical support to South Vietnamese forces, and simultaneously began Operation Linebacker I
Some have said that the initial success of the NVA invasion was due to the failure to properly assess and use intelligence. Other have slightly different take, blaming some of the problem on putting very inexperienced South Vietnamese troops along the DMZ.

Some recall heroics:
At midday on March 30, 1972, almost by complete surprise, the North Vietnamese Army launched its single biggest assault of the Vietnam War. Larger in size and scale than the very costly but politically effective 1968 Tet Offensive, the NVA this time were fighting an almost conventional battle.

Generously supplied with seemingly unlimited artillery, Soviet armor and the latest air-defense weapons, reports of the NVA strength and battlefield successes were, for the first few days, not believed by the South Vietnamese general staff and their senior American advisers way down yonder in Saigon.

The first three and a half days of what came to be known as the Easter Offensive of 1972 were a near rout. The shock value of the new conventional NVA juggernaut was wreaking havoc with friendly forces. Indiscriminate artillery barrages, as intense as any experienced by the old hands, were especially deleterious for the uncounted masses of peasants turned refugees in Quang Tri Province. The poor weather and low visibility temporarily neutered the South's advantage in air power. It was hard to believe things could turn so negative in such a short time.

It was clear early on that the town of Dong Ha was a strategic target for the NVA. Offering the only bridge over the Cam Lo-Cua Viet River capable of supporting the heavy T-54 tanks now being used with such tremendous effect, the enemy needed to take it intact. Control of that one bridge would open the South for further exploitation. At a minimum, the turnover of Dong Ha would assure the loss of the northern provinces.

The allied unit closest to the gathering storm at Dong Ha was the Vietnamese Third Marine Battalion. As fate would have it, Capt. John Ripley was the covan (the Vietnamese name "co-van" for U.S. Marine Corps advisers means "trusted friend") that day about to enter the arena.
The saga of "Ripley at the Bridge" is now part of Marine Corps legend (see also here):
Ripley's performance that day continues to fascinate. These were not the deeds of a regular man. His bravery was not some gut reaction or counterpunch to a blow struck by an enemy. His actions in that three-hour window – with the world collapsing around him – were deliberate, willful, premeditated. Every ounce of his spiritual and physical fiber was focused on mission accomplishment. Anything less and he surely would have failed. Exhausted prior to the start, when he was finished he was way past empty.
I noted a wonderful book about Captain Ripley in a long ago post on how John Kerry and his ilk helped us lose an ally and hurt our troops back in 1972:
Having trouble with the idea that we had people in action in 1972? I suggest you read the Bridge at Don Ha by John Grider Miller or go to the USS Mullinnix site to see the shell splash photo or visit the USS Sterrett site (NB: Site no longer validd- some history here) to learn about the battle off Dong Hoi where the USS Higbee took a bomb in her after gun mount and the Sterett fought off a Styx missile attack. The North Vietnamese had plenty of fight left, helped in no small part by the words and actions of the anti-war crowd, including John Kerry.
Much more on the Easter Offensive here:
U.S. air power in all its forms was absolutely critical throughout the campaign to defend An Loc from repeated North Vietnamese attacks. It took primarily three forms: tactical air support, aerial resupply, and evacuation of wounded.

Tactical air support was so critical that the city would almost certainly have fallen before 1 May without it. Members of the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations traveled to Saigon in late 1972 to investigate the conduct of the Easter Offensive. The Committee Report in 1973 cited U.S. air support as the key ingredient to the ARVN victory. During one of the briefings presented to the committee members at MACV headquarters, the briefer was asked what would have happened if U.S. air support had not been available; the briefer replied: "We would be meeting some other place today."

General Abrams, former MACV commander, later stated that in his opinion, "American air power and not South Vietnamese arms, had caused his [the enemy's] losses." This evaluation was echoed by participants at all levels. The after-action report of the 21st ARVN Division stated, "The accuracy, devastation, and responsiveness of U.S. tactical air meant the difference between victory and defeat." Brigadier General McGiffert, General Hollingsworth's deputy at Third Regional Assistance Command, was even more emphatic in his evaluation of the impact of U.S. air power. During the battle, he was quoted as saying that the B-52 force was "the most effective weapon we have been able to muster" and asserted that the threat of bomber strikes "forces the enemy to break up his ground elements into small units and makes it difficult to mass forces for an attack." When asked after the battle what he thought about the ability of the ARVN to hold An Loc without American tactical air support, he replied, "No contest-never would have hacked it." (footnoted omitted)
Much support also came from U.S. Navy carriers and gunships off the coast. See here:
Cdr. W. James Thearle, USN commanded the U.S.S. BUCHANAN (DDG14). Thearle and his crew responded magnificently to the call for assistance from Lieutenant Eisenstein's naval gunfire spotters. When the BUCHANAN went to full battle stations and began to deliver suppressive fires on the enemy, the ship properly reported its actions in "high precedence" naval messages. Fire missions for naval gunfire increased intensity almost by the hour, and Thearle requested augmentation from other U.S. destroyers. By 1 April, four destroyers were off the Cam Lo-Cau Viet River delivering fire on the enemy. The deployment of these and other ships all resulted from voice radio communication from 3rd Division TOC. The Navy was committed to the defense of Quang Tri Province before General Abrams recognized the crisis or asked for additional assistance.
Because of inclement weather conditions, no tactical air support was brought to bear on the North Vietnamese ground forces. Naval gunfire became the only reliable source of supporting arms during the first forty-eight hours of the offensive. History will record that the U.S. destroyers were of immeasurable value in holding back the North Vietnamese attack down Highway 1 to Dang Ha and Quang Tri City.

The U.S.S, BUCHANAN later received credit for destroying four PT-76 tanks,* definitely a first for a U.S. destroyer operating in South Vietnamese waters. Hundreds of rounds of ammunition were being fired on NVA troops and vehicles and at the end of each day, Navy gunfire expenditure reports were submitted identifying the types of targets fired upon. Often the ships included personal assessments on the situation ashore and identified U.S. Marine advisory personal. Eisenstein, Turley, and later Captain Ripley, began to appear in their "flash" precedence messages to CINCPAC in Honolulu.
More at the Buchanan website:
USS BUCHANAN first line period in 1972 consisted of 63 continuous days of operation in combat zone off Vietnam

On station off the DMZ March 30, 1972 she was one of the first gunline ships to fire against the North Vietnamese invading force. During those first days of April, BUCHANAN provided gunfire support for evacuation of U.S. Marines
at the forward ground observer post, Alpha Two, the defense of Dong Ha and the evacuation of the Vietnamese Naval Base.

On the Cua Viet River on numerous occasions, BUCHANAN took enemy troops and tanks under direct fire and has been credited with the destruction of four enemy tanks at the DMZ and numerous enemy troops killed in action at the
approaches to the Dong Ha bridge.

On April 5, with Commodore T.R. Johnson, ComDesRon 31 embarked, BUCHANAN led an operation against North Vietnam. On the afternoon she fired the first rounds into North Vietnam since "Sea Dragon" operations creased in 1968.

On April 10 BUCHANAN was directed to proceed to Danang Harbor for regunning alongside the tender USS Samuel Gompers. This marked the first time that a US Navy ship was assigned tender availability in a forward combat area
during the Vietnam conflict.

Regunning completed, BUCHANAN once again put to sea and continued operations off the coast of North Vietnam, Several times a day her guns hammered supply routes, SAM sites, enemy troop concentrations and coastal
defense sites.

On April 16, she led the first strike against the Do Son Peninsula off Haiphong Harbor in company with the Seventh Fleet command ship, USS Oklahoma City, USS Richard B. Anderson and USS Hamner.

On the following day, while engaged in a sharp exchange of gunfire with hostile shore batteries, one enemy artillery shell found its mark. The shell penetrated the superstructure and exploded, killing one man and slightly wounding seven others. Material damage was quickly isolated and three hours later BUCHANAN was again striking enemy targets. On April 18, BUCHANAN retired to Danang for battle damage repair.

On April 19 the Task Force BUCHANAN had just left was attacked by MIG's. The USS Higbee DD 806 was severely damaged by direct hit to after Mount. She joined BUCHANAN at Destroyer Tender in Da Nang to undergo repairs. During the battle two MIG's were shot down by USS Steret

After a brief four-day period as plane guard for the attack aircraft carrier, USS Kitty Hawk, BUCHANAN returned to the gunline.

BUCHANAN once again headed for the northern reaches of the Gulf of Tonkin on May 8 and participated in operations in the vicinity of the Do Son Peninsula.

One operation involved suppression of hostile shore batteries while enabling other U.S. Navy Forces to mine the Haiphong Harbor entrance, On the night of May 10, BUCHANAN in company with USS Newport News, USS Providence, USS Oklahoma City and USS Hanson once again returned to the Do Son Peninsula to participate in operations involving the most formidable cruiser-destroyer strike group assembled in the Western Pacific since World
War II.

Striking against military targets in the Haiphong area, BUCHANAN is the only U.S. Navy ship to have participated in every surface strike operation off Haiphong Harbor since operations were initiated of April 5.

In 63 days, BUCHANAN had struck North Vietnamese military targets 49 times and also delivered over 7700 rounds against enemy emplacements while receiving hostile fire on almost every mission. She was the first U.S. Navy
vessel to engage the enemy as the North Vietnamese forced their way across the DMZ and is now the last of the "Charter members" in combat action to return to port.
Action off Haiphong described here. Story of the Higbee getting bombed covered here. More on the sucess of the South Vietnamese defense here (source of the map).

It all began 35 years ago, today.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

Cricket news

Found here:
West Indies 177 all out lost to New Zealand 179-3 by seven wickets

Scott Styris struck his third half century of the World Cup to ease New Zealand to victory over West Indies in an uninspired Super 8 match in Antigua.

Shane Bond, Daniel Vettori and Jacob Oram all took three wickets to dismiss the hosts for 177, only Chris Gayle (44) and Brian Lara (37) contributing.

And Daren Powell struck twice early to give the hosts hope of an unlikely win.

But Styris (80no) and Craig McMillan (33no) built on Stephen Fleming's 45 to ease the Kiwis home by seven wickets.

No idea what it means. even though I almost read this.

And I have read this:
You have two sides, one out in the field and one in. Each man that's in the side that's in goes out, and when he's out he comes in and the next man goes in until he's out. When they are all out, the side that's out comes in and the side that's been in goes out and tries to get those coming in, out. Sometimes you get men still in and not out.

When a man goes out to go in, the men who are out try to get him out, and when he is out he goes in and the next man in goes out and goes in. There are two men called umpires who stay out all the time and they decide when the men who are in are out. When both sides have been in and all the men have been out, and both sides have been out twice after all the men have been in, including those who are not out, that is the end of the game.
Perhaps more beer will help.

In the farfetched category: Tamil Tigers want a submarine

Reported and doubted here:
The LTTE, which has raised security concerns by becoming the world's first insurgent group to use air power, might be working on acquiring underwater vessels that could pose a threat to merchant shipping in regional waters.
Chauhan, the assistant chief of naval staff at naval headquarters here, however, noted that submarine building and operating such vessels are very complicated matters.

"You cannot make or operate submarines by opening manuals," he said, asserting that surveillance and patrolling had been intensified in the Palk Strait and adjoining seas.
And, I believe that Al Qaeda group may qualify as the leaders in modern use of "air power" - and I'm certain that here were other "insurgent" groups in the past that have also used aircraft.

Picture is of one type of mini sub that the Tigers may acquire.

Congressional hearings on LNG safety

Congress held hearings on LNG safety? What happened? Find out here:

The congressional hearing was three weeks before regulators in California are to take a key vote on the BHP Billiton proposal to build an LNG terminal near Mal­ibu. Some coastal residents op­pose the project, and the possibility of a terrorist attack or accident at the floating gas terminal is a major objection to them.
A General Accounting Office report issued a week ago said not enough research has been done on the effects of a leak, spill or sabotage on LNG ships.
The Congressional hearing last week gave representatives an opportunity to ask federal agencies about the safety of the rapidly expanding LNG import industry. It was accompanied by a closed-door session on terrorism and LNG facilities that included secret briefing materials.
“Coast Guard assets are aging by the day, and I am concerned about whether or not the Coast Guard has the assets to meet this growing mission,” said Com­mit­tee Chair Bennie Thompson, D-Louisiana.
The Coast Guard air and sea fleet is in a state of distress right now, with a half dozen ships showing hull cracks after a modernization program failed, leaving the ships and cutters unsafe and unusable. New helicopters are be­hind schedule and over budget, and the new GAO report warns that the Coast Guard may not be equipped to handle the task of guarding five existing LNG terminals, 15 LNG terminals in the permitting process, and another 25 or so proposed.
Some California decision-makers in behind-the-scenes meetings with anti-LNG activists have reportedly raised the possibility of an LNG tanker being hijacked “and rammed into Santa Monica.”
At last Wednesday’s hearing, an official with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission downplayed the dangers of a terrorist attack, saying the worst-case scenario imaginable is a “pool fire” of spilled LNG that would burn for a half hour. “If you read the popular press, it (the danger) is overblown,” said J. Mark Robin­son, FERC’s director of energy projects.
“What they are talking about is second degree burns on exposed skin one mile away if you hold your arm out for a minute,” he told the committee. “If you just move away within 20-to-30 seconds, you won’t have a burn.”

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Singapore's new Maritime Security Center

Reported as Singapore to build new command center for maritime security:
Singapore is building a joint command center that will house three maritime groups under one roof to increase coordination against threats at sea...
"The trans-boundary nature of maritime crime and terrorism, coupled with the limited resources of states, demand that security and enforcement agencies, port authorities and shipping associations, come together to cooperate in the maritime security domain,'' Defence Minister Teo Chee Hean was quoted as saying...

India to use UAVs for Andaman islands patrols

According to Strategy Page, the Indian concept of how to cover the vast territory around its Andaman islands territory (see here) involves UAVs as set out in Indian Robots Rule the Seas:
Maritime patrol is a job that consists of many hours in the air looking for whatever among not much. Boring as hell for humans, but ideal work for robots. While the U.S. is experimenting with the large, and expensive, Global Hawk UAV, Israel (which really only has to worry about coastal patrols) developed a new version of the old Heron, called the Mahatz I. One thing that makes UAVs for maritime patrol possible, or at least practical, is cheaper and more capable sensors. In the case of the Mahatz I, the radar used (synthetic aperture radar), works with onboard software to provide automatic detection, classification and tracking of what is down there. Human operators ashore, or on a ship or in an aircraft, are alerted if they want to double check with video cameras on the UAV. Also carried are sensors that track the sea state (how choppy it is). For this kind of work, one of the most important things is reliability. While the Mahatz I is a bit smaller (at 1.2 tons) than the Predator, it is still pretty expensive (over $5 million each.) You don't want to lose them over open water. The Mahatz I can stay up for 52 hours at a time, although to provide plenty of margin for error, the usually patrol will be about 35 hours, cruising at about 200 kilometers an hour. The Andaman chain is nearly 500 kilometers long, so UAVs can patrol it, and adjacent waters, rather easily. India has become a pioneer in UAV use for maritime reconnaissance, and their experience will be observed closely by other naval powers.
Strategy Page on the Israeli maritime patrol and from the UAV Blog. And a news story about the Indian UAV squadron.

UPDATE: More on Maritime Surveillence UAVs from Canada (calls them "Uninhabited Aerial Vehicles") including tests of the Eagle-1!

In line with the USN’s Sea Power 21 philosophy, the Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) programme is adopting a bottom-up architecture, which will tailor integration of its onboard mission suite with UAVs and satellite-based systems and sensors. The platform will exceed its predecessor’s ASW, maritime strike, and ISR capability through the incorporation of evolving network, sensor, and communications capabilities. MMA is intended to ensure battle force access across the broad littoral and play a critical role in the Navy’s ability to project power ashore.

MMA will be developed in conjunction with the USN’s Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV, which is intended to provide a high-altitude persistent ISR capability that will function as an enabling force element for the fleet commander. BAMS UAV will enter service before MMA and is intended to fill a current capability gap in ISR.

Although initially control of BAMS UAV sensors will be via the Tactical Support Centre (TSC) ashore, or from the CVN afloat, MMA will have the ability to control BAMS UAV, thereby extending its own area of coverage. US DoD analysis has concluded that a mix of manned and unmanned aircraft is the best option to fulfil the USN’s projected requirements.

In the UK, the delay to the Nimrod MRA4 programme has provided the opportunity to introduce several capability enhancements to cater for those requirements not envisaged during its conception. GMTI and improved swath SAR for the radar, incorporation of intelligence dissemination tools, and increased datalink capabilities will enhance the MRA4’s ability to integrate into the ISTAR (ISR in US, RSTA in NATO) community. Multistatic active acoustic sensors will be incorporated to increase ASW capabilities and the ability to control maritime UAV sensors is also being examined.
Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV
The FY 2005 Budget requests $113.4 million for development
of the BAMS UAV. The BAMS UAV program will meet the Navy
requirement for a persistent intelligence, surveillance and
reconnaissance (ISR) capability as well as address the growing
ISR gap and the shortfall in maritime surveillance capability.
The BAMS UAV System will be a force multiplier for the Fleet
Commander, enhancing situational awareness of the battle-space
and shortening the sensor-to-shooter kill chain. BAMS UAV will
work as an adjunct to the new MMA to provide a more affordable,
effective and supportable maritime ISR option than current ISR
aircraft provide. The BAMS UAV System is intended to be a Navy
fleet asset for tactical users such as the ESG, the CSG and the
Joint Forces Maritime Component Commander (JFMCC).
More here. And here from Global Security:
The Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV is being developed to provide persistent, maritime surveillance and reconnaissance capability
with worldwide access. The Broad Area Maritime Surveillance UAV will be a multi-mission ISR system to support strike, signals intelligence, and communications relay while operating independently or in direct collaboration with other assets in the maritime environment. BAMS will operate at altitudes over 40,000 feet, above the weather and most air traffic to conduct continuous open-ocean and littoral surveillance of targets as small as exposed submarine periscopes. BAMS will be fully integrated into the joint ISR architecture, providing this information to the joint force in near real time. Long-endurance BAMS UAVs will be able to provide a continuous on-station presence at ranges of 1000-3000 nautical miles from the launch point. BAMS will thus play a key role in providing the commander with a persistent, reliable picture of surface threats while minimizing the need to put manned assets in harms way to execute surveillance and reconnaissance tasks.

BAMS will be complemented by the Maritime Multi-Mission Aircraft (MMA) for special purpose, generally lower-altitude missions and by the VTUAV operating from LCS to ID contacts with EO/IR sensors. The Navy's Broad Area Maritime Surveillance (BAMS) UAV will address a persistent Maritime Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission area of the Naval UAV Strategy.
Info on Vertical Takeoff and Landing Unmmanned Aeriel Vehicle (VTUAV) here.

Time to change the lyrics to "Rule Britannia?"

{UPDATE and note: After further review, I have decided that my underlying premise in this post as originally written, was, in large part, incorrect. While there are issues with the size of the Roya Navy and its funding, overall it constitutes a stout fighting force which, if called upon, could uphold the finest traditions of its history. That the RN is not as it once was reflects on the changes in the world over a number of years and the changing role of Great Britain in the world over that time.As a result of more research, I have revised and extended my remarks.]

One man's opinion about the decrease in power of the Royal Navy HOSTAGE SAILORS -- BRITAIN'S IMPOTENCE By ARTHUR HERMAN.

Whatever happened to that part about ruling the waves?
The nations, not so blest as thee,
Must in their turn, to tyrants fall,
Must in, must in, must in their turn, to tyrants fall,
While thou shalt flourish, shalt flourish great and free,
The dread and envy of them all.

Rule Britannia!
Britannia rule the waves.
Britons never, never, never shall be slaves.
Has the Royal Navy -home of some the greatest sailor-warriors of all time- faded to a memory?

Not quite. Ships of the Royal Navy listed here. I count 48 surface war ships (including Mine Warfare), but I could have missed some.

UPDATE: You know, the U.S. Navy says it has only 276: "Deployable Battle Force Ships."Which number, I gather includes 55 fast attack submarines and 18 ballistic missile subs, 22 cruisers, 48 destroyers, 30 frigates, 11 Amphibious assault ships, 11 aircraft carriers. Leaving about 90 various and sundry others. See also here.

Add the Royal Navy submarines (9 SSN, 4 SSBN) to their numbers and the Royal Navy jumps to 61 ships. Add in their assault ship and 2 Albion class LPDs and you get up to 64.

That's not a total fade...

UPDATE2: 3/29/07 RedState has much more.

UPDATE3: Latest info on the "con job"pulled by the Iranians here:
The sailors and marines from HMS Cornwall were in the Gulf, working under a United Nations mandate to protect Iraq from smuggling and threats to the oil industry, when an Indian-flagged vessel came under suspicion.

It was in shallow waters and the Cornwall was unable to go alongside without grounding. A boarding party jumped into two ribbed inflatable boats, or RIBs, and set out to investigate.

A helicopter hovered to observe the boarding but, after confirming that the Indian vessel was peaceful and friendly, returned to the ship. The Cornwall stayed in contact with the two launch boats via a communications link providing a GPS satellite position.

After the successful boarding of the innocent Indian vessel, the Britons began returning to their RIBs. At that moment one Iranian patrol vessel came alongside, adopting a friendly posture. As a second Iranian vessel arrived, the Revolutionary Guards turned aggressive.

HMS Cornwalllost communications with the launch boats and sent up the helicopter to investigate. The air crew watched as the small British inflatables were forced towards Iran. By now, up to four Iranian Revolutionary Guard vessels were swarming round the Britons.

India concerned with Chinese anti-satellite test

Reported here:
India for the first time on Sunday expressed its deep disquiet about last month's ASAT (anti-satellite) test when China destroyed an aging satellite in space with a DF-21 missile.

Addressing an aerospace seminar organised by IAF, external affairs minister Pranab Mukherjee said: "The security and safety of assets in outer space is of crucial importance... We call upon all states to redouble efforts to strengthen the international legal regime for peaceful uses of outer space."

The language was guarded, and couched in a call for collaborative international action against weaponisation of outer space. But the message was clear and deliberate. According to sources, it reflected the concerns of both the MEA and the ministry of defence, which had hitherto remained silent.

The message had been worked on by the top strategists in the Indian government, reflecting the degree of Indian unhappiness on the Chinese test on January 11. China is traditionally a country the Indian government is loath to criticise openly.

"Satellites play an important role in intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, securing communication and delivering accurate firepower on the ground at large distances. Recent developments show that we are treading a thin line between current defence-related uses of space and its actual weaponisation," he said.
And another counry in Southeast Asia< Malaysia, is going to put up its second satellite satellite:

RazakSat earth observation satellite, which can monitor floods, landslides, open burning and river pollution, will be launched this year in conjunction with the country’s 50th Independence Day celebrations.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis said it was proposed that the launch of RazakSat, manufactured by Astronautics Technology Sdn Bhd (ATSB), be held at Kwajeilin Island in the Pacific Ocean.

He said the Government had chosen the launcher manufactured by an American-based company, Space X.

“We are targeting to launch it this year in conjunction with the 50th Independence Day celebrations. We are at the final stage of commissioning our launcher,” he told reporters after delivering a keynote address at the Malaysian Indian ICT Conference here yesterday. ***
The launch of RazakSat, the country’s second micro-satellite, has already been postponed several times from August 2004 to early 2005, and later to last year.

He said the American space launcher was cheaper and smaller than a Russian space launcher.

“That’s why we want it. It is capable of carrying a load of 200kg. The Russian launcher, which can carry between 4,000 and 5,000kg, is too expensive for a remote sensing satellite.”

Following Tamil Tiger airstrike, India steps up coastal watch

As set out here:
Indian Air Force has set up eight radars as a precautionary measure to monitor the skies in the aftermath of Tamil Tiger rebels launching their first aerial strike in Sri Lanka two days ago.

The radars were fixed at Seeniappa Darga Casurina jungle near Sundaramudaiyan village in Ramanathapuram district and trials were going on, a senior IAF official said today.

A team of 50 Air Force personnel, under a commander, would be posted there to monitor the skies, he said.
Meanwhile, the Indian Navy has begun round-the-clock patrolling of the seas from from the Forward Observation Point (FOP) near Dhanushkodi since yesterday.

Twelve marine commandos have been posted at FOP, to which communication links have been established.

The Coast Guard would also patrol the International Maritime Border in the Palk Straits, official sources said.

Besides these measures, police check-posts had been asked to inspect every vehicle passing through coastal roads, they said.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

"How Modern Liberals Think"

"How Modern Liberals Think"

Belated hat tip to Ace

Another view of Port Security

Another view of Port Security efforts found here, at the level where the rubber meets the road:
Proposed regulations to beef up security at Port Canaveral are not only unrealistic but could be financially devastating if implemented, local officials and small business representatives told two federal lawmakers Monday.

Payne joined about 50 people at the Cocoa Civic Center on Monday morning for a two-hour forum on port security. Feeney and Weldon sponsored the event, which included comments by local and state officials and business representatives on how best to balance security with commercial interests at Port Canaveral.

Officials estimate that Port Canaveral has a $1.5 billion local economic impact, $2.3 billion for the region and $3.9 billion for the state.

No revelations or solutions were brought forth at the forum. Rather, it was chance for some to air their grievances and provide Feeney and Weldon with anecdotes to take to Washington.

Security eats up about nearly 20 percent of the Port Authority's annual budget. Prior to the 9-11 terrorist attacks, it was closer to 4 percent, Payne said.

Small businesses -- restaurateurs, commercial fishing operations and charter boat operators -- said they are being
squeezed by overly stringent security requirements.

And slowing traffic at the port because of even tighter security regulations for cruise ships and cargo commerce could pinch incoming revenue, officials said.

Feeney and Weldon said changing the mindset of federal lawmakers is an arduous task.

"Congress seems to have two speeds," Feeney told the assembled group. "We either do nothing or we overreact."

Photo from Port Canaveral website.

Tamil Tigers: A very dangerous group

A profile of the Tamil Tigers found here:
The LTTE is a model for existing and emerging insurgent groups. The international security and intelligence community generally assesses the LTTE as one of the world's most effective terrorist organisations. It is the only organisation to have assassinated two heads of government and develop a sea arm capable of countering a conventional navy. It also possesses a dedicated suicide squad, the Black Tigers.

The LTTE is likely to remain a formidable force until the government of Sri Lanka either develops force structures sufficient to destroy them militarily or a negotiated settlement is reached paving the way for the entry of the LTTE into the legitimate political arena.

The group maintains a very high level of readiness through effective training, the acquisition of modern equipment and, for an insurgent group, considerable capabilities for conventional war, with static naval clusters and fortified artillery positions.

It is likely the LTTE has the ability to concentrate a force of several thousand to strike anywhere in northeastern Sri Lanka and that it could mount suicide and other operations that would cause immense damage, especially in Colombo.

The LTTE maintains a well-equipped navy, the Sea Tigers, and Hagrup Haukland, the chief of the Norwegian-led military mission monitoring the ceasefire, stated in May 2005 that the group had constructed airstrips in the jungles of Mullaitivu and near Trincomalee and had acquired two light aircraft.

Explosives, weapons and other supplies have come from the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, just 22 miles away and a 45-minute dash by speedboat; the Sri Lankan navy has intercepted only a fraction of this incoming arsenal.

During the past decade, the LTTE has transported consignments of weapons from Bulgaria (SA 14, LAW), Ukraine (50 tonnes of TNT and 10 tonnes of RDX), Cyprus (RPGs), Cambodia (small arms), Thailand (small arms), Myanmar (small arms) and Croatia (32,400 mortars). The amount of explosives and mortars transported by the LTTE remains the largest quantity of armaments ever transported by a non-state armed group. Most armaments have been obtained by using forged or adapted end-user certificates.

International efforts to curtail the supply of weaponry to terrorist groups have been at least partially successful in reducing the flow to the LTTE. The absence of a comprehensive defence pact with India has hampered naval co-operation against LTTE maritime procurement. In this context, the LTTE has been able to maintain significant procurement links and has considerably enhanced its heavy artillery supplies during the ceasefire.
Part of the crackdown on Tamil arms shipments has played out in Baltimore, as set out here:
An Indonesian man pleaded guilty yesterday in Baltimore's U.S. District Court to charges related to trying to export banned military weapons to the Tamil Tigers rebels in Sri Lanka, according to the U.S. attorney's office.

Haji Subandi, 69, pleaded guilty to conspiring to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, as well as two counts of money laundering and the attempted exportation of arms and munitions, federal prosecutors said.

Subandi had been arrested in September with five other suspected arms dealers after an elaborate sting operation. As part of the sting, alleged representatives of the Tamil Tigers deposited $700,000 with undercover agents as a down payment for millions of dollars in sniper rifles, submachine guns and grenade launchers, officials say.
The role model part of the LTTE is troubling- and that they seem to have support from the North Koreans and other groups.

UPDATE: India concerned over Tiger Air Corps as set out here:
A day after the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) marked the official debut of the Tamil Eelam Air Force (TAF) by attacking an air base in Sri Lanka, Indian security agencies appeared worried about a non-state air power in its vicinity.

The TAF's existence has not been a secret but its use has taken everyone by surprise.

Sources in Indian security agencies said the fact that the LTTE could avoid radar detection to reach Colombo, attack an air base and return safely was a "matter of concern for India."

While officially, India continues to maintain a discreet silence, the security establishment is worried. "India had expressed concern over this air capability in May 2005 to the Sri Lankan Monitoring Mission (SLMM). We will now undertake a review of our own strategic establishments," said a senior source in the defence ministry.

The LTTE said that the formation of the air wing (Vaanpuligal) was the work of Shankar alias Vythialingam Sornalingam.

He was an aeronautical engineer with Air Canada and held an engineering degree in aeronautics from Hindustan Engineering College in Tamil Nadu. While Shankar is no more, he is said to have done the ground work for the formation of the Air Tigers.

The aircraft used in the attack are Czech-made with local fixtures attached to the frame to allow automatic weapon discharge of four gravity bombs. Indian security agencies suspect that these aircraft were dismantled and reassembled in north-eastern Sri Lanka.

"This was possible only due to the network between the LTTE and other terror outfits operating transportation over sea routes," said a source.
Sea routes!

Monday, March 26, 2007

Pat Dollard: Iran Invades Oman

Hotel Tango to Mrs. Greyhawk for finding this disturbing piece from Pat Dollard - Iran Invades Oman:
One of the key developments that has absorbed Washington’s attention deeply, and resulted in the very significant personal involvement of Vice President Dick Cheney, was the fact that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards have invaded and seized almost all meaningful control of the strategic Masandam Peninsula in Oman - a peninsula that covers the Southern mouth of the Straight of Hormuz. Occupying this peninsula solidifies Iran’s complete control of the straight. The Northern chokepoint has long been Iran’s; the Southern chokepoint has long been Oman’s. They are now both Iran’s. The Revolutionary Guard also decided to make this area their own, because it makes for a smuggler’s paradise. And smuggling is one of their #1 jobs. A priority for the Guard is to engage in as much profitable illegal activity, on a global scale, as they can, in order to pay for their very existence, and help bankroll the country’s nuclear program. And, long anticipating the oncoming sanctions, the Guard has kept an eye on various ways to keep goods flowing into the country. Their new stronghold in Oman, with such control over the Straights, provides for just that.

And Oman, terrified of the direct confrontation with Iran that our military has planned and suggested, has decided to do nothing.
Ah, both sides of the chokepoint? Yikes!

The DOE description of the Strait of Hormuz from here:
By far the world's most important oil chokepoint, the Strait consists of 2-mile wide channels for inbound and outbound tanker traffic, as well as a 2-mile wide buffer zone. Closure of the Strait of Hormuz would require use of longer alternate routes (if available) at increased transportation costs.
Are the Iranians the only ones who seem to know that there's a war on?

Stopping Nuclear Terror --Maybe

New Yorker piece on the risk of terrorists senaking in materials for a "dirty bomb" here:
Finding highly enriched uranium is “a really hard problem,” Oxford conceded. Customs inspectors already use imaging equipment to scan for unusual shielding inside some shipping containers, but his office is supporting research to investigate more mobile and effective systems. “We agree that solving this through passive systems alone is not sufficient,” Oxford said. He compared the challenge to that undertaken during fifty years of research to support anti-submarine warfare during the Cold War. There, too, the challenge, he said, was to “extract unique signatures out of a very cluttered environment. It’s not just the detector itself but the software algorithm and the signals-processing” that make such a system more or less effective.

Even crude or faulty sensor systems might expose a sophisticated attacker, Oxford said. “I don’t think it’s ever possible to provide a hundred-per-cent shield; I don’t think ballistic-missile defense ever believed that they would be able to do that. I think that every step and every defensive layer that we put in complicates an adversary’s plan to be able to do this, and gives us other opportunities, to use other means…to try to identify that something may be planned.”
More wickets, more difficulty.

Hat tip: NOSI.

The War with the New York Times

Read this from OpinionJournal - Best of the Web Today:
This "Editor's Note" appeared in yesterday's New York Times:

The cover article in The Times Magazine on March 18 reported on women who served in Iraq, the sexual abuse that some of them endured and the struggle for all of them to reclaim their prewar lives. One of the servicewomen, Amorita Randall, a former naval construction worker, told The Times that she was in combat in Iraq in 2004 and that in one incident an explosive device blew up a Humvee she was riding in, killing the driver and leaving her with a brain injury. She also said she was raped twice while she was in the Navy.

On March 6, three days before the article went to press, a Times researcher contacted the Navy to confirm Ms. Randall's account. There was preliminary back and forth but no detailed reply until hours before the deadline. At that time, a Navy spokesman confirmed to the researcher that Ms. Randall had won a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal with Marine Corps insignia, which was designated for those who served in a combat area, including Iraq, or in direct support of troops deployed in one. But the spokesman said there was no report of the Humvee incident or a record of Ms. Randall's having suffered an injury in Iraq. The spokesman also said that Ms. Randall's commander, who served in Iraq, remembered her but said that her unit was never involved in combat while it was in Iraq. Both of these statements from the Navy were included in the article. The article also reported that the Navy had no record of a sexual-assault report involving Ms. Randall.

After The Times researcher spoke with the Navy, the reporter called Ms. Randall to ask about the discrepancies. She stood by her account.

On March 12, three days after the article had gone to press, the Navy called The Times to say that it had found that Ms. Randall had never received imminent-danger pay or a combat-zone tax exemption, indicating that she was never in Iraq. Only part of her unit was sent there; Ms. Randall served with another part of it in Guam. The Navy also said that Ms. Randall was given the medal with the insignia because of a clerical error.

Based on the information that came to light after the article was printed, it is now clear that Ms. Randall did not serve in Iraq, but may have become convinced she did. Since the article appeared, Ms. Randall herself has questioned another member of her unit, who told Ms. Randall that she was not deployed to Iraq. If The Times had learned these facts before publication, it would not have included Ms. Randall in the article.

Otherwise, though, the story was accurate.
The Times. Calling them "Stuck on stupid" would be an upgrade.

Maritime Monday 52 at Fred Fry International

It's a bird! It's a plane!

No! -- it's Fred Fry International: Maritime Monday 52.

Sophomoric ship's name fun, too. Go and see what I mean...

Union ad: Key to stopping terrorists is controlling Wal-Mart

Rather extreme view of Wal-Mart as OBL's handmaiden in TV ad implies threat to security from unlikely source: Wal-Mart


From the article:
The ad focuses on the question of whether all cargo containers shipped to America should go through scanners before they leave foreign ports. Over the past year, there's been widespread disagreement among elected officials, security experts and commerce executives about the goal of 100 percent scanning.

Some say America's best chance at preventing terrorists from sneaking bombs into the ports is to require all cargo containers to go through radiation and imaging detection equipment overseas. Just two weeks ago, U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) convinced his colleagues to amend their 9/11 Commission Bill to require the Department of Homeland Security to come up with a plan for 100 percent scanning.

But others, including Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff, have advised against prematurely making a commitment to scanning all cargo at foreign ports. They have argued that America ought to wait for the results from a pilot project starting this year at several foreign ports before setting deadlines for scanning all containers.

Wal-Mart, along with the Retail Industry Leaders Association, say they support 100 percent scanning "in concept," according to Traynhman.

"But it's our understanding that the technology is not ready," he said.

During the past year, trade groups also have warned that scanning all cargo would stall international commerce and hurt the country's economy.

NZ Defense Minister: Port Security Initiative is a good thing

Comments found here:
First, all PSI participants are committed to ensuring that the provisions of the initiative are totally compatible with international law.

The PSI’s inaugural statement of principles spells this out. For our part, the New Zealand Government is entirely confident that the PSI is fully consistent with all the relevant international and domestic provisions.

We would not support the initiative unless this was the case. The PSI is a forum for fully using the existing legal frameworks at our disposal and for discussing areas where these might be improved and strengthened.

Such discussion has resulted, for instance, in the adoption of the Suppression of Unlawful Acts at Sea Protocols.

Second, the membership of the PSI does need to be larger. In New Zealand we are working with our Asia-Pacific PSI colleagues to ensure the initiative is as strong and as effective as possible in this part of the world. This will be the central purpose of the Asia-Pacific Outreach Forum we will host after this meeting.

We can be more effective still if other Asia Pacific countries join us. The more countries that are involved, the less the risk of any one of us unwittingly helping a proliferator. And the greater the shared benefits of the "network of cooperation" that I mentioned earlier.

Pirates attack fishermen off Guyana

Reported here:
Pirates last Thursday fired gunshots while robbing a five-man crew of fishermen of outboard engines and other articles at the mouth of the Pomeroon River in the Atlantic Ocean.
Over recent months sea pirates have stepped up their attacks on fishermen, and only the day before this latest incident two fishing boats were attacked near the Waini River.

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Sunday Ship History: Ships of Liberty

There are still a couple of survivors around, kept alive by memories and more than a little intensive care. When war raged, they got ready to carry the war to the enemy and to move mountains of supplies to besieged friends across the seas. Almost 3000 strong, they transported the products of the "arsenal of democracy" to foreign shores.

They were slow, prone to cracking under pressure.

They were the Liberty ships.

As war raged in Europe, the lack of merchant ships for the United States lead to the construction of new ships, based on an English merchant design, built by using mass-production techniques that allowed ships to be completed in as little as four and a half days:
"Liberty ship" was the name given to the EC2 type ship designed for "Emergency" construction by the United States Maritime Commission in World War II. Liberty ships were nicknamed "ugly ducklings" by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The first of the 2,751 Liberty ships was the SS Patrick Henry, launched on Sept. 27, 1941, and built to a standardized, mass produced design. The 250,000 parts were pre-fabricated throughout the country in 250-ton sections and welded together in about 70 days. One Liberty ship, the SS Robert E. Peary was built in four and a half days. A Liberty cost under $2,000,000.

The Liberty was 441 feet long and 56 feet wide. Her three-cylinder, reciprocating steam engine, fed by two oil-burning boilers produced 2,500 hp and a speed of 11 knots. Her 5 holds could carry over 9,000 tons of cargo, plus airplanes, tanks, and locomotives lashed to its deck. A Liberty could carry 2,840 jeeps, 440 tanks, or 230 million rounds of rifle ammunition. [NB E1: For a clear explanation of ship tonnage, see here]

Liberty ships were named after prominent (deceased) Americans, starting with Patrick Henry and the signers of the Declaration of Independence. 18 that were named for outstanding African-Americans.

Any group which raised $2 million dollars in War Bonds could suggest a name for a Liberty ship, thus, one is named for the founder of the 4-H movement in Kansas, the first Ukrainian immigrant to America, an organizer for the International Ladies Garment Union, and the woman who suggested the poppy as a symbol of American soldiers who died in World War I. The Francis J. O'Gara was named after a mariner who was presumed dead, but who in fact, was a Prisoner of War. He was the only person to visit a Liberty ship named in his honor.
Words fail to adequately represent the capacity of these ships. The excellent site American Merchant Marine at War, www.usmm.org run by Dan and Toni Horodysky has a superb brochure that graphically demonstrates what the Liberty ships could haul across the world. The graphic to the right is part of that brochure.

The Liberty ships served well, and much longer than their designed life span:
Many technological advances were made during the Liberty shipbuilding program. A steel cold-rolling process was developed to save steel in the making of lightweight cargo booms. Welding techniques also advanced sufficiently to produce the first all-welded ships. Prefabrication was perfected, with complete deckhouses, double-bottom sections, stern-frame assemblies and bow units speeding production of the ships. By 1944, the average time to build a ship was 42 days. In all, 2,751 Liberties were built between 1941 and 1945, making them the largest class of ships built worldwide.

Each Liberty ship carried a crew of between 38 and 62 civilian merchant sailors, and 21 to 40 naval personnel to operate defensive guns and communications equipment. The Merchant Marine served in World War II as a Military Auxiliary. Of the nearly quarter million volunteer merchant mariners who served during World War II, over 9,000 died. Merchant sailors suffered a greater percentage of fatalities (3.9%) than any branch of the armed forces.

The Liberty ship was considered a "five-year vessel" (an expendable, if necessary, material of war) because it was not able to compete with non-emergency vessels in speed, equipment and general serviceability. However, Liberties ended up doing well, plodding the seas for nearly 20 years after the end of World War II. Many Liberties were placed in the reserve fleet and several supported the Korean War. Other Liberties were sold off to shipping companies, where they formed the backbone of postwar merchant fleets whose commerce generated income to build the new ships of the 1950s and 1960s. However, age took its toll and by the mid-1960s the Liberties became too expensive to operate and were sold for scrap, their metal recycled. The first Liberty built, the Patrick Henry, was sent to the ship breakers (scrap yard) in October 1958.

Of the nearly 3,000 Liberty ships built, 200 were lost during World War II to enemy action, weather and accidents. Only two are still operational today, the SS Jeremiah O'Brien and the SS John W. Brown.
That's the John W. Brown at the top of this post.

As noted above, some 17 of the Liberty ships wer named after African Americans and black Americans played a significant role as set out here:
Of the approximately 2,700 Liberty Ships, 17 were named for outstanding African-Americans. The first, in honor of Booker T. Washington, was christened by Marian Anderson in 1942. Captain Hugh Mulzac, an African-American, served as master of the ship for four years, delivering troops and supplies to the war zones. Adrian T. Richardson, John Godfrey, and Clifton Lastic also captained mixed-race crews during WWII.

In 1942, against overwhelming odds, Captain Hugh Mulzac became the first African-American merchant marine naval officer to command an integrated crew during World War II. Born March 26, 1886 on Union Island, St. Vincent Island Group, British West Indies, Mulzac entered the Swansea Nautical College in South Wales to prepare for a seaman's career while in his youth. He became an American citizen in 1918, and continued his training at the Shipping Board in New York. He earned his captain's rating in the merchant marine in 1918, but racial prejudice denied him the right to command a ship.

Later Mulzac was offered the command of a ship with an all-black crew. He refused, declaring that "under no circumstances will I command a Jim Crow vessel." Twenty-two years passed before Mulzac would again receive an offer to command a naval ship. During World War II, his demand for an integrated crew was finally met, and he was put in command of the SS Booker T. Washington.

With its crew of eighteen nationalities, the Booker T. Washington made twenty-two round-trip voyages in five years and carried 18,000 troops to Europe and the Pacific. On the day his ship was launched, Mulzac recalled, "Everything I ever was, stood for, fought for, dreamed of, came into focus that day... The concrete evidence of the achievement gives one's strivings legitimacy, proves that the ambitions were valid, the struggle worthwhile. Being prevented for those twenty-four years from doing the work for which I was trained had robbed life of its most essential meaning. Now at last I could use my training and capabilities fully. It was like being born anew." (photo: "Captain and crew of a new Liberty Ship [SS Booker T. Washington] just after it completed its maiden voyage to England. (L-R) C. Lastic, Second Mate; T. J. Young, Midshipman; E. B. Hlubik, Midshipman; C. Blackman, Radio Operator; T. A. Smith, Chief Engineer; Hugh Mulzac, Captain of the ship; Adolphus Fokes, Chief Mate; Lt. H. Kruley; E. P. Rutland, Second Engineer; and H. E. Larson, Third Engineer." Captain Hugh Mulzac is fourth from the left on the first row. February 8, 1943. Baum. 111-SC-180665. [photo from National Archives])
As industrial production shifted into high gear and the draft took young men, male workers became scare, and "Rosie the Riveter" began to work in the shipyards, cranking out Liberty ships. Today an new National Park is being developed to honor all the "Rosies" of the time. The park is located in Richmond, California, home of several of the Kaiser shipyards.

As the war progressed, the Liberty ships were supplemented by Victory ships. But that's a tale for another time.

The Navy continued to find uses for the old Liberty hulls, including converting for use several as offshore radar platforms, as set out here in an earlier Sunday Ship History.

So, offer up a salute to these great cargo ships of the past and to the brave men who sailed them and helped defeat our enemies.

UPDATE: The engine of a Liberty ship from Project Liberty Ship:
Fully assembled, the engine weighs 270,000 pounds. It stands 19 feet tall and is 21 feet long. The ship's four-bladed propeller, 18 feet in diameter, is directly coupled to the engine, which is designed to turn at a maximum of 76 rpm. This gave Liberty ships a top speed of about 11 knots. Aboard the BROWN the engine is normally run at 65 rpm, which saves fuel and is easier on the engine. This gives an average speed of around 10 knots. Power output from the engine is 2,500 horsepower. Fuel consumption is about 170 barrels (30 tons) of oil per day at 11 knots, giving a range of 19,000 nautical miles.
UPDATE2: And don't forget the battle fought by Liberty ship SS Stephen Hopkins:
One of the most dramatic acts of heroism occurred Sept. 27, 1942, in the South Atlantic on the Liberty ship SS Stephen Hopkins. She came upon the heavily-armed German raider Stier, disguised as a neutral ship, and her escort, the Tannenfels. When the Hopkins refused to surrender, both vessels shelled her.

The Hopkins fought back valiantly. With his ship in flames and her stern gun-crew dead, engine cadet Edwin O'Hara, from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, fired the last five available shells, setting the Stier on fire. O'Hara, killed by shrapnel, and 40 others went down with the ship. The Stier blew up and sank. The 19 survivors of the SS Stephen Hopkins set off on a 2,000-mile, 31-day voyage to Brazil in a lifeboat during which four crewmen died.

Captain Paul Buck, O'Hara and three officers were given the Distinguished Service Award posthumously. The Hopkins received the Gallant Ship Award. The U.S. Merchant Marine Academy is the only Federal academy authorized to carry the Battle Standard Flag, by virtue of her 142 Cadets killed in action.
UPDATE: I am getting some interesting referrals on this post, not the least of which is EverestKC which appears to be a Kansas cable provider that linked to my post because it has a reference to "Liberty" which is the name of a town (well, maybe 17 townships so named) in said fair state. For those of you who have thus been led to my site, I bid you welcome. I'm sure that the 95 residents of Liberty (located at 37°9′22″N, 95°35′53″W)would appreciate a visit, too. And probably the other 16 locations, too. In any event, it's a long way from any one of those townships to the ocean.

Throw the rascals out with their 30 pieces of silver

A Milblogger, Soldier's Dad, wrote it:
My family tree has been feeding the tree of liberty since the tree was planted. I'm quite certain I'm not alone. Some families have long histories of tending to the tree of liberty, others have a long history of living in its shade.

Once again our great Congress is debating matters of War and Peace. The most solemn duty of Congress.

The Chairman of the House of Representatives has decided that matters of War and Peace should be decided not on the merits or a careful examination of the facts but thru political bribery.

Whatever the outcome of the vote...many will die. Will they gives their lives for the Tree of Liberty..or will they Give their lives for 218 Congressman who took a bribe?
Another Milblogger found the perfect illustration for it at CDR Salamander: Sunday Funnies:

It's an old tale. I'm sure the Congressperson who voted to get the $120 million in shrimp research pork really meant well in accepting the bribe.

Mr. President, veto this piece of garbage, and give us a chance to throw these rascals, who are just resting in the shade instead of feeding the tree of liberty, out of public office.

The Left and International Law

Ok, one more law-related link. But it's an good one for those of you confused by threats of violations of the UN Charter and wondering what happened to U.S. sovereignty. From Kingdom of Chaos: The Left and International Law:
In the United States, a treaty (such as, say, the UN Charter), stands on the same basis as Federal legislation. This means that its obligations, so far as the US are concerned, can be modified by subsequent legislation, even if this amounts to a “violation” of the treaty. The international position of the US on such a treaty is a political matter, to be resolved between sovereign governments.

More here.

Childish humor in the courtroom

Some things ... well, some things...Pillage Idiot: The majesty of the law.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Medical Care

U.S. Port Security: ID card program stalls in Delaware

As set out here, the TSA port worker security ID card system is not ready for prime time:
The Transportation Security Administration will not begin enrolling port workers in a security program at Delaware’s Port of Wilmington on Monday as planned, according to an official familiar with the program. Delaware was supposed to be the first port to begin enrollment, with others to follow.

“Technical difficulties” have been cited as the reason for the enrollment delay, said Lisa B. Himber, vice president of the Maritime Exchange for the Delaware River and Bay. Himber said she did not know the specific difficulties but that the delay is cause for concern.

“It’s certainly not an auspicious beginning,” Himber said.
The TWIC card will be tamper-proof and all employees with unescorted access to secure port areas will be required to have one. Eventually all transportation workers will be enrolled in the program.
UPDATE: Head of Homeland Security's recent speech on Port Security here:
Today, I would like to talk about three areas of port security that are critical areas for our department: first, keeping dangerous cargo out of the country and from entering our ports; second, strengthening the security of the infrastructure of our ports through the use of grant funding, as well as the work of the Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection; and third, our plans for the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, which is designed to secure us against the possibility of infiltration from within.

Let me begin by discussing some key principles that apply to port security and, in fact, to all homeland security. First, we do not believe in security at any cost. We believe in risk management, which means looking at threats, vulnerabilities and consequences, weighing what are the risks we should be most concerned about, considering the measures we are looking to undertake, in terms of whether they are cost beneficial, and then weighing that in terms of making up a strategic plan.

We also believe in layered security. That's recognition of the fact that there's no magic bullet for security, whether it be our ports or elsewhere. Any single approach can fail. Therefore, the right answer is to build layers of security that build rings of protection. What that does is it counts on redundancy and on randomness as allies in building a total security network.

And this approach recognizes, of course, that ports themselves are part of a large network, a network that extends across the globe and requires us to measure security at every point from the element of manufacture, where you first take that which is going to be shipped and assemble it, all the way through to the ultimate delivery at the destination of the person who is receiving the consignment.

A third element of our strategy is to recognize that every port is different. A cookie-cutter approach to security will not work, and we don't want our security measures to do more harm than good. One of my favorite proposals is that which says we are derelict because we don't physically inspect every single container that comes into the country. How many here want us to do that? I guess I have my answer. We know that to do that would be to destroy the ports. We have to, in fact, use a risk-managed approach and a layered approach and a cost-beneficial approach to triage and select those elements of the container supply chain that we should take a close look at while letting the vast majority of flow go unimpeded.

Another area where we want to use common sense, for example, is the suggestion about doing all of our scanning for radiation overseas. That, again, is a very interesting proposal; it's one that in many places is a very good idea and we are working, as I'll explain shortly, to do that. But again, a cookie-cutter that says we must do it everywhere would fail to take account of our need to accommodate the requirements, legal and regulatory, of our foreign partners, as well as the fact that the footprint and architecture of ports are not identical. Ports with a lot of transshipment are much harder to do scanning in than ports with a large physical footprint where everything comes in through a central portal.

So, using all of these concepts, we have to apply a strategy to the objectives I've outlined to come up with a common-sense way to maximize port security, but always making sure that we are not damaging the system of maritime trade that we're trying to protect.
We need to continue to work together to educate members of our own Congress on the nature and interdependence of the global supply chain, and to make sure that mandates that sound good as sound bites don't get imposed in a way that actually cripples the maritime trade, which is an engine of our very successful economy.
How do we prevent people coming within and posing a threat by masquerading as legitimate employees or service personnel? Well, we're doing that by developing the Transportation Worker Identification Credential, to make sure those who come into our ports are not a security risk, that they are authorized to do the work there, and that they are not using fraudulent or stolen credentials. TWIC will be a tamper-resistant, biometric credential for our nation's transportation workers, including port workers.

We estimate about three-quarters of a million port workers will be issued TWIC cards and that they will be required for all individuals who expect unescorted access to secure areas of MTSA-regulated facilities and vessels. TSA is responsible for conducting the security threat assessment on TWIC applicants, which includes a check against terrorist watch lists, an immigration status check, and an FBI fingerprint-based criminal history records check.

We issued the first set of regulations for TWIC in January, and the rule becomes effective in a matter of days, after which we expect to begin enrolling port workers. TWIC is going to have an immediate security benefit in terms of having a standard secure credential.

In successive months we'll be working on the more complicated issue of access control and use of TWIC readers. Many of you helped in developing the reader standard and will be involved in upcoming pilot tests. We will take what we learn from those tests and incorporate them into a second set of rule makings on access control requirements.

We recognize it's a complicated undertaking- it takes place in a demanding operational environment. But by taking this in stages: background checks first, credentials next, and then access readers third, we've been able to rapidly move forward while ensuring that we are carefully evaluating technology and operational impact at every step of the process.

"Canadian port security said too lax"

Seems like no one is happy about Port Security:
Canada is not doing enough to screen cargo containers for potential terror threats or to weed out organized crime activity at its sea and freshwater ports, according to a report on Thursday.

Cruise ship passengers and their luggage should also undergo the same screening used at airports, and vehicles should be searched before they are allowed on large ferries, the Canadian Senate's national security and defense committee said.

The committee has complained before of lax security at Canada's sea and freshwater ports, and accuses the government of using "weasel words" to "create the illusion that something is being done to solve a problem when it isn't."

Not paranoid enough? Then read "Terrorist Warning"

You know, without a baseline to let you know how much of the sort of stuff reported at Terrorist Warning, you could get the impression people are out to harm to their fellow man...

And don't forget the frequently updated Global Incident Map.

Of course, in an entirely different vein is the Weekly World News. Say, have you heard about the "super-cool" Jazz Fusion Reactor? I thought not.

U.S. Southern Command: 'Partnership for the Americas'

Presentation by Adm Stavrididhere:
At US Southern Command - the military organisation focused on the 32 nations and 13 territories of Central America, South America, and the Caribbean - we devote a considerable amount of energy to the study of these challenges and opportunities. We pursue a host of programmes designed to foster security, stability, and goodwill in the region, with the ultimate goal of enabling the spread of true prosperity to the 450 million people living in this part of the Americas.

The key to the future of this great region is understanding - understanding each other, understanding our shared challenges, and understanding the promise of security cooperation for our shared future. When it comes to our philosophy, the SouthernCommand motto directly reflects our approach: "Partnership for the Americas".
And testimony from his recent appearance before the Senate Armed Forces Committee here:
Stavridis was also asked to comment on his assessment of recent developments in Venezuela.

“Historically, Venezuela and the United States have enjoyed a very positive relationship,” he said.

But recently, the admiral said the command has “seen far less cooperation in areas of [USSOUTHCOM] responsibility, virtually no military-to-military cooperation. We see limited cooperation, if at all, in the anti-narcotic front.”

He said he’s “increasingly concerned” about Venezuela’s military buildup, including the purchase of 25 Su-30 advanced Russian fighter jets, 50 advanced attack and transport helicopters and most especially 100,000 AK-103 rifles. He likened the rifle purchase to a proliferation of “weapons of micro-destruction.”

“With that many rifles, they’re going to be moving through that region, perhaps going into the hands of fighters across the border in Colombia. It’s a very great concern,” he said.

The admiral also commented on Venezuela’s discussions to purchase diesel submarines. “It is hard to understand what is the perceived threat in this hemisphere. It´s just difficult to understand why the government of Venezuela would feel the need to purchase that level of arms and I am concerned about the destabilizing effect throughout the region,” he said.

Navies in the "silent war"

As reported in Silent war against terror waged in dangerous waters:
The seizure of 15 British navy personnel Friday was a stark reminder of the unheralded conflict being fought by the United States and its allies on the high seas surrounding the Arabian Peninsula and the Horn of Africa.

After the U.S. invasion of Iraq, patrols of the volatile waterways in the Middle East and East Africa were stepped up. Their targets are human trafficking, drug and oil smuggling, piracy, weapons-running and possible infiltration by terrorists into Somalia and Yemen -- criminal activities that, military leaders fear, provide cover and financial support for international organizations such as al Qaeda.
Although Germany and France opposed the U.S. invasion of Iraq, both participate in a task force attached to the U.S. 5th Fleet, which takes part in that war from the Persian Gulf. How do the Germans feel about taking part in an open-ended operation so far from the North Atlantic?

"We don't do America's work," said Chief Petty Officer Rebecca Steinhardt, 23, the ship's weapons controller. "Since the 11th of September, there were terrorists found in Germany, so it's everyone's war."

The Bremen's skipper, Capt. Andreas Jedlicka, said intelligence showed that links existed between training camps in Somalia and militant havens in the Arabian Peninsula. "Terroristic activities are not only about the United States," he said.

Scherrer, the Bremen's operations officer, noted that Germany's economy depends on global trade, particularly shipping from Asia -- the vast majority of which passes through the task force's area. In his eyes, the Bremen is defending Germany and the sea lanes it relies on, not merely falling in with America's global war on terror.
Oh, yeah. Those sea lanes.