Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Immediate Execute

Sticky Post for Valour-IT Fund-Raiser. New posts begin below.

Mission: Support of injured Soldiers, Sailors and Marines.

Background/Situation: Info here.
Project Valour-IT, in memory of SFC William V. Ziegenfuss, helps provide voice-controlled and adaptive laptop computers to wounded Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines recovering from hand wounds and other severe injuries at major military medical centers. Operating laptops by speaking into a microphone or using other adaptive technologies, our wounded heroes are able to send and receive messages from friends and loved ones, surf the 'Net, and communicate with buddies still in the field.
More help is needed.

Forces available: You and your friends

Recommended Course of Action: Click on the "Make Donation" link below to donate through the Navy/Coast Guard Team. Any size donation welcome. Spread the word.

Desired result: Helping those who have put it on the line for us. And a warm fuzzy feeling.

Time frame: NOW! NOW! NOW! (through Veterans's Day, November 11)

Take for action!


UPDATE: All Navy, Navy-related and Coast Guard bloggers are invited to join the Navy/CG Valour-IT team. See here. Let's get the word out!

UPDATE2: Revised donation meter.

Sharks in the water

Gotta love the punchline to this story from Iraq about a shark:
A two-metre shark has been caught in a river in southern Iraq more than 200 km (160 miles) from the sea.

Karim Hasan Thamir said he was fishing with his sons last week when they spotted a large fish thrashing about in his net. "I recognised the fish as a shark because I have seen one on a television programme," he told Reuters.

The shark was pulled from the mouth of an irrigation canal that joins the Euphrates River. The Euphrates joins the Tigris River further east to form the Shatt al-Arab waterway which flows south past Basra into the Gulf.

Dr. Mohamed Ajah, assistant dean of the college of science at Thi Qar University in Nassiriya, said barriers in river estuaries usually prevented sharks swimming upstream.
Locals blamed the U.S. military for the shark's presence.

Tahseen Ali, a teacher, said there was a "75 percent chance" Americans had put the shark in the water.

"This is very frightening for us. Our children always swim in the river and I believe that there are more sharks. I believe that America is behind this matter," said fisherman Hatim Karim.
I blame space aliens.

Another take on the tale here, placing the blame one a "suicidal shark" and which, instead of pointing fingers, provides some useful information:
Bull sharks, a species with a grey belly, can survive for a short while in fresh water and have been know to attack bathers in various rivers, even as far upstream as Baghdad in the Tigris, Iraq's other mighty river. (emphasis added)
Silly Reuters.

When bull sharks attack upriver video from National Geographic here, which notes that finding bull sharks up rivers isn't all that unusual.

Update: Navy ships v Somali pirates

Updating previous posts found here, here and here. More details here:
Sailors from the Norfolk-based destroyer James E. Williams boarded a North Korean merchant ship Tuesday that had been hijacked by pirates off the coast of Somalia, while two other Navy vessels tailed a pirated Japanese ship in the same region.

The Williams, which left Norfolk in July , was about 50 nautical miles from the ship Dai Hong Dan in the Arabian Sea when it received word of the pirate attack, said Lt. John Gay , a spokesman for the Navy’s Central Command in Manama, Bahrain.

The Williams dispatched a helicopter and ordered the pirates to give up their weapons via a bridge-to-bridge radio. The North Korean crew, which had retained control of the steering and engineering spaces, then confronted the pirates and gained back control of the bridge, according to a Navy news release.
And in dealing with the other hijacking:
Hundreds of miles away in the same region, two other Navy ships were tracking a Japanese-owned ship seized by pirates over the weekend, Gay said.

The spokesman said that two “coalition” ships from Combined Task Force 150 had responded to the hijacking of the Golden Mori , a Japanese-owned ship registered in Panama.

Combined Task Force 150, which conducts maritime security operations in the Arabian Sea and Gulf of Aden, includes vessels from the Pakistani, British, French, German and U.S. navies.

Navy officials with knowledge of the incident confirmed that the U.S. destroyers Porter and Arleigh Burke, both based in Norfolk, responded to the Golden Mori’s distress call.

One of the responding ships fired warning shots in front of the Golden Mori.

It also aimed disabling shots at two skiffs – the boats the pirates used to approach the ship – towed behind the Golden Mori. The skiffs caught fire and sank, Gay said.

Gay said coalition crew members have observed men carrying small arms aboard the bridge of the ship, which was hijacked in the Gulf of Aden, a critical body of water between Yemen, Djibouti and Somalia that links the Red and Arabian seas.

After the hijacking, the Golden Mori sailed 380 miles south and remained off Somalia’s coast, Gay said.
And a couple of interesting observations concerning our small but really expensive fleet:
Robert Work, a retired Marine officer and analyst at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments in Washington, said piracy is a “persistent threat” that the Navy has worked to address in recent years.
“Essentially, you don’t want to use a billion dollar DDG [guided missile destroyer] to suppress pirates,” Work said. “That’s a mission for a much smaller ship. But we have a lot of ships in that area because of ongoing operations in the Horn of Africa. These are ships designed for high-end war fighting, not chasing pirates.”

Still, whenever pirates seize a ship, it becomes a priority for any naval vessel in the vicinity, Work said – regardless of whether the ship belongs to an ally, like Japan, or a potential enemy, like North Korea.

“The Navy does this for all mariners,” Work said. (emphasis added)
And exactly where are these lower cost, high speed, sea worthy, well-armed ships that should be doing this sort of work? In the "1000 ship navy" most such ships belong to our allies. As noted in previous post, there is French frigate headed to the area for anti-piracy work...

Note the Golden Nori's* position was reported as 13:05N -050:24E at the time of her distress call (see here. As indicated (roughly) on the maps and the altered satellite map (taken from the ICC CCS "Live Piracy Map website" here) above, she was taken in the Gulf of Aden and then driven south.

*There is some confusion as to what the ship's name is. I am assuming it's the Golden Nori, about which see here.

UPDATE: CNN coverage here.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pictures from the Somali pirate front

Found atNavy NewsStand - Eye on the Fleet:

Captions: Top photo:
A pirate skiff burns after being hit by several rounds from a 25mm gun aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78). The skiff belonged to a group of pirates that had taken a cargo ship. U.S. Navy photo (RELEASED)

Lower photo:
Members of the visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) team aboard guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) prepare their gear in case they must board a pirated vessel. The ship was responding to a distress call from aboard Panamanian MV Golden Nori. The VBSS team is tasked with boarding suspicious ships to inspect them for any illicit activity. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Patrick Gearhiser (RELEASED)
UPDATE: 25mm chain gun training:

Latest ICC CCS Weekly Piracy Report (to 29 Oct 07)

The latest Weekly ICC Commercial Crime Services Piracy Report (to 29 Oct 07) is here: Highlights:
28.10.2007: 0216 UTC: 13:05N -050:24E, Gulf of Aden.
An undesignated distress was received from a chemical tanker underway. Thereafter, there has been no communication with the tanker. The owners and the piracy reporting centre have been unable to contact the vessel. Information from the coalition naval forces, in the vicinity, indicates that pirates have hijacked and sailed the tanker into Somali territorial waters. There are 23 crew on board the vessel. (see here)

27.10.2007: 1940 LT: 00:48.8N - 053:49.4E, Somalia.
OOW on a container ship underway noticed, on radar, that a suspicious craft lighted and proceed at six knots. OOW altered course to stbd and the craft also altered course. OOW raised alarm, informed the master and increased to full speed. Crew mustered and activated anti-piracy measures. The craft proceed at 10 knots and followed the ship. At 2040 LT the craft reduced speed to four knots and stopped following the ship.
22.10.2007: 0350 UTC: 12:29.5N-045:15E: Gulf of Aden.
While underway, a chemical tanker was pursued by seven boats with three persons in each boat. The boats approached the vessel from all directions making it extremely difficult for the vessel to manoeuvre. The closest the boats got to the vessel was 0.1 NM. The master managed to out manoeuvre five boats. The other two boats continued to follow the vessel. As the vessels, speed was greater than the boats the master assessed the situation and felt his vessel was not in any danger.

21.10.2007: 2250 LT: 13:14N-048:13E: Gulf of Aden.
While underway, a LPG tanker was warned by vessels ahead of her about unlit boats that had failed in approaching them. The master on the LPG tanker raised the alarm, mustered the crew on the bridge and briefed them. The target boat was picked up on radar and seen to approach the vessel from ahead. The master carried out evasive manoeuvres. The boat tried to pursue the ship but could not keep up. The entire incident lasted almost one and a half hours.

Somalia: Captured ship crew "overpowers" pirates, sailing to safety

The crew of a captured ship fights back and gains their freedom, it is reported here:
A group of pirates that hijacked a cargo ship in the waters off Somalia have been overpowered by the ship's crew, according to one official.

The ship's capture was reported on Tuesday morning by the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme.

But a few hours later, the programme's Andrew Mwangura said the ship's 22 crew had regained control of the vessel.
After Tuesday's hijack, militiamen demanded a $15,000 (£7,250) ransom to free the vessel, said Paddy Ankunda, a spokesman for African Union troops in the Somali capital Mogadishu.

"The hijacking was masterminded by the same people who were supposed to bring it into the dock," he said.

The freighter had apparently unloaded its cargo - thought to have been sugar - by the time of its capture.

Mr Mwangura said the crew were sailing the ship back to Mogadishu after defeating the pirates.
Note that this is not the Japanese owned tanker, but rather a small freighter captured on Tuesday, 30 October.

Report on the capture of this freighter here:
Four other boats -- a Comoros-registered cargo ship, two Tanzanian fishing vessels, and a ship from Taiwan -- are also being held by armed groups.

Without central government since 1991, Somalia's waters have become among the world's most perilous despite calls for international action to patrol them.

Attackers often justify their actions as measures against illegal fishing and toxic dumping.
UPDATE: Older posts which contain discussions of the pirates as enforcers of the Somalia EEZ here, here and here. Again, though, chemical tankers and freighters are not the sorts of ships for which the "fishing patrol" argument hold much water.

UPDATE2: BBC says it was Korean freighter.

UPDATE3: More details on the crew's fight with the pirates from here:
Two pirates were dead and five others were captured after the fight aboard the Dai Hong Dan, the Navy said, citing initial reports from the crew. Three seriously injured crew members were transferred to the destroyer USS James E. Williams,
according to the Navy.

The battle began after the Williams arrived near the Dai Hong Dan and ordered pirates to give up their weapons, the Navy said. At that point, crew members confronted the pirates and regained control of the vessel -- requesting medical assistance from the Navy ship.
Get that? A U.S. Navy ship comes to the aid of mariners in trouble - even when the flag of their ship is that of North Korea. That's the way it should work...

UPDATE4: Navy story:
From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- The crew of a North Korean cargo vessel, Dai Hong Dan, regained control of their vessel Oct. 30, after fighting with the pirates who had taken over their ship sometime Monday.

The crew was able to control the steering and engineering spaces of the ship, while the pirates had seized the bridge. The ship is approximately 60 nautical miles northeast of Mogadishu.

Three corpsmen from USS James E. Williams (DDG 95), an Arleigh-Burke-class destroyer operating as part of the maritime coalition, along with a boarding team, provided medical assistance and other support as needed to the crew of the Korean vessel.

Three seriously injured crew members have been transferred to the James E. Williams for treatment. Initial reports from the crew are that five pirates were captured and two are dead. The pirates remain aboard the Dai Hong Dan.

The Combined Maritime Forces Headquarters, based in Bahrain, received a call from the International Maritime Bureau, located in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia, Tuesday morning, providing the current status of the Dai Hong Dan. At that time, the James E. Williams was about 50 nautical miles from the vessel and sent a helicopter to investigate the situation. James E. Williams arrived in the vicinity of the Korean ship midday local time and contacted the pirates via bridge-to-bridge radio, ordering them to give up their weapons.

At that point, the Korean crew confronted the pirates and regained control of the ship, and then began communicating with the James. E. Williams, requesting medical assistance. The crew said the pirates had been in control of the bridge, but the crew had retained control of the steering and engineering spaces.

Piracy is an ongoing maritime security and safety issue off the coast of Somalia. The Japanese vessel Golden Nori was pirated in the Gulf of Aden earlier this week, and Coalition ships responded to distress calls. Coalition ships continue to closely monitor the vessel. Four other vessels remain under pirate control off the coast of southern Somalia.

The waters off Somalia and the Horn of Africa are part of the area under the responsibility of CTF 150, one of three task forces under Coalition Maritime Forces, based in Manama, Bahrain.

A key mission of Combined Maritime Forces is conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO), which help set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment and complement the counterterrorism and security efforts in regional nations' littoral waters. Coalition forces also conduct MSO under international maritime conventions to ensure security and safety in international waters so commercial shipping and fishing can occur safely in the region.

The coalition includes representation from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Pakistan, the U.S. and U.K., as well as other naval forces and personnel from several other nations.

Coalition ships patrol more than 2.5 million square miles of international waters to conduct both integrated and coordinated operations with a common purpose: to preserve the free and secure use of the world's oceans by legitimate mariners.

Save the S-3!

Premature retirement for the S-3 Vikings? Some think so, as reported at Stars and Stripes: S-3B Vikings near extinction:
But both pilots and maintenance personnel who work with the jet daily have questioned the retirement. They point to studies showing the Vikings are in good shape and can still do the job.

“It’s unfortunate because the airplane has 15 years of life left in it,” said Cmdr. Doug Walker, commander of Sea Control Squadron 32.

That’s not the only reason why squadron members are perplexed by the retirement. The S-3B is going away at a time when the Navy arguably needs it the most.

Earlier this month, the Navy released a new strategy for the future that includes maritime security as one of its chief priorities. Ironically, that is the aircraft’s specialty.
H/T to comment of Anonymous here.

More on the S-3 here.

Probably would help if they didn't require a CV to operate from, though...

Yemen and the USS Cole Bomber

He's not been re-arrested, says Jane in her post Al-Badawi Never “Re-Arrested”.

In fact, Jane has several post on this mess, including the spin being put on it by Yemen's President Saleh, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here.

You know, Jane has it covered.

Very disturbing.

UPDATE: U.S. officials visit the guy in a jail cell according to this. Whole lotta funny stuff goin' on in Yemen.

Goose Creek Two Update

H/T Michelle Malkin Goose Creek Two update: Judge denies Megahed bail request:
Megahed, 21, was arrested Aug. 4 in South Carolina along with fellow USF student Ahmed Mohamed, 26, after deputies found explosives in the trunk of the car in which the two men were riding, authorities said. Mohamed was driving the care, which was registered to Megahed's brother.

Mohamed has waived his right to a bail hearing. Both defendants are Egyptian nationals. Megahed is a legal, permanent U.S. resident, and Mohamed has a student visa.

Both are charged with illegally transporting explosives. Mohamed also is charged with trying to help terrorists by teaching or demonstrating the use of explosives. Authorities say Mohamed posted a video to the Web site YouTube in which he showed how to use a remote-controlled toy to detonate a bomb.

"The evidence fails to establish or even suggest any innocent or wholesome explanation for the events that led to Megahed's arrest," Merryday wrote.

"Guns, explosives, fuses, canisters of gasoline, ammunition, welding equipment, GPS devices, all-night interstate drives to an unstated and indeterminate destination, stops to check gun prices and availability, and computers with a recent history of visits to sites that feature the advocates and the means of violence are not attributes that a disinterested but cautious observer associates with a safe and tranquil citizen of the community," the judge said.

"Rather, a person about whom these attributes are discovered is a person whose means, motive and degree of determination are unknown and unpredictable and who is highly suspicious and threatening."
Source TBO.com.

All my previous Goose Creek Two posts here. Nice summary of arrest events here.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Monday Reading

Maritime Monday 82 at Fred Fry International here with a collection of old ship grounding photos and more recent links to the world of maritime commerce.

Somalia: Pirates hijack Japanese chemical tanker

The Somali pirates strike again, this time capturing a Japanese chemical tanker:
Somali pirates have hijacked a Japanese-owned chemical tanker in the latest such seizure in the Horn of Africa nation's notoriously lawless waters, a regional maritime official and a piracy watchdog said on Monday.

Andrew Mwangura, head of the East African Seafarers' Assistance Programme, said shipping sources in both Somalia and Japan had confirmed the vessel was seized eight nautical miles offshore on Sunday morning.
There are five well-organised pirate groups operating in Somali waters. We know the one which took this boat," he said.

An official from the International Maritime Bureau's Piracy Reporting Centre in Kuala Lumpur identified the vessel as the 12,000 deadweight-tonne Golden Nory.

"She has been taken into Somali waters, and we haven't heard anything from her since," the official said.

Quoting an IMB official, Japanese news agency Kyodo said the tanker had 23 non-Japanese crew on board, made up of its South Korean captain and South Korean, Filipino and Myanmar nationals.
UPDATE: U.S. Navy destroyer engaged pirate skiffs reports Galrahn, citing this CNN report:
U.S. Navy warship fired on and sank two skiffs used by pirates Sunday to hijack a merchant vessel off the coast of Somalia, U.S. officials said Monday.

The USS Porter responded to a distress call from the merchant vessel carrying benzene, the officials said. Sunday's shooting took place in international waters, they said.

At the request of Somalia's government, a second U.S. warship, the destroyer USS Arleigh Burke, is now shadowing the merchant ship inside Somali waters, the officials said.

In recent years, warships have stayed outside the 12-mile limit when chasing pirates.
I trust some other assets are on their way...time someone busted these pirates' chops.

UPDATE: It appears that Somali pirates grabbed another ship on 30 Oct 07, but the crew overpowered their captors and are headed to freedom. See here.

UPDATE2: A reminder of why taking on these pirates is a humanitarian mission here:
Delivering supplies to Somalia, both commercial goods and humanitarian aid, has been a logistical and security challenge ever since the collapse of the last national government in 1991.

Roadblocks controlled by militia groups across the country have hampered deliveries by road.

Assisting by sea

Transportation by sea should, in principle, be both cheaper and safer, but a recent increase in the frequency of attacks by pirates appears to have led to higher shipping costs and a dramatic reduction in the use of cargo vessels, particularly those employed in moving food assistance to Somalia from ports in Kenya and elsewhere in Africa.

“Close to 80 per cent of WFP’s assistance to Somalia is shipped by sea but, because of piracy, we have seen the availability of ships willing to carry food to the country cut by half,” said WFP Executive Director Sheeran.

“Pirates may have a romantic image on the silver screen these days, but the picture might not be quite so pretty from the point of view of someone stuck in a camp for internally displaced people in Somalia, dependent on food assistance for survival.
Much more has to be done to address this problem of piracy and, at WFP, we are much encouraged by the actions that IMO has taken recently for that purpose.”

So far this year there have been 15 attacks on vessels in or near Somali waters, which carry some of the highest risks of piracy in the world.

Two of these attacks involved WFP-contracted ships, and in one of these two incidents, a security guard was killed. During 2006, there were a total of 10 attacks.

UPDATE3: Got a nice link from the NYT's The Lede, but you might note that some of the comments thereto seem to view this mission as something other than humanitarian.

UPDATE4: Galrahn updates the 5th Fleet posture regarding asset possibly available to take action against the Somali pirates here. It's more than just a couple of guided missile destroyers...

UPDATE5: Added photo of "Golden Nori" from Shipspotting.com.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Sunday Ship History: Sea Escape 2 - PT boats take MacArthur from Corregidor

A couple of Sundays ago, the 1942 escape of the Captain and a portion of the crew of the U.S. Navy minesweeper Quail in an open boat across enemy infested water from the surrendered U.S. stronghold of Corregidor was discussed.

As noted then, in the early days of the war, the remnants of the U.S. Asiatic Fleet were part of the defense resisting the Japanese in the Philippines. In addition to old minesweepers and gunboats, in Manila Bay there also was a group of essentially new Motor Torpedo Boats in Squadron 3, commanded by a LT John D. "Buck" Bulkeley.

Mr. Bulkeley was, to put it mildly, not an ordinary Navy Lieutenant, even before his taking command of MTB Squadron 3:
Unable to gain an appointment to Annapolis from his home state of New Jersey, he was led by his determination to Washington, and, after knocking on a lot of doors, he gained an appointment from the state of Texas. As America dealt with the Great Depression, his dream of going to sea, however, received a set back. Only half of the 1933 Academy class that graduated received a commission. John Bulkeley, noted early on for his intense interest in engineering, went on and joined the Army Flying Corps. Like the crazy flying machines of the day, he landed hard more than once and, after a year, left flying for the deck of a cruiser, the INDIANAPOLIS, as a commissioned officer in the United States Navy.

Ensign John D. Bulkeley charted an interesting course in his early years and was recognized early on by the Navy's leadership. As a new ensign in the mid-thirties, he took the initiative to remove the Japanese ambassador's brief case from a stateroom aboard a Washington-bound steamer, delivering same to Naval Intelligence a short swim later. This bold feat, of which there were to be many more in his life, didn't earn him any medals, but it did get him a swift one way ticket out of the country and a new assignment as Chief Engineer of a coal burning gunboat, the SACRAMENTO, also known in those parts as "The Galloping Ghost of the China Coast." Picture in your minds the movie "Sand Pebbles". There he was to meet a young, attractive English girl at a dinner party aboard HMS DIANA. Alice Wood and the handsome swashbuckling John Bulkeley would, in the short period of courtship, live an incredible story together. In China they would witness the invasion of Swatow and Shanghai by Japanese troops and the bombing of Panay. They were strafed by warring planes and watched from a hotel soldiers at war in the street below. John Bulkeley, with an uncanny propensity to stir things up, often took the opportunity to bait the occupying Japanese soldiers, dashing with his bride to be into no-mans land, chased by Japanese soldiers, and, every once in awhile, shooting them with an air pistol on their backsides "just for fun". He fit the mold of Indiana Jones, hat, coat, and all, and not necessarily a commissioned officer in fore and aft cap of the day.
As set out in Devil Boats, Bulkeley and his boats faced some unique challenges. Ordered to remove his boats from Cavite Navy Yard to Mariveles Harbor on the tip of the Bataan Peninsula, Bulkeley complied but:
As the motor torpedo boats set off for their Bataan destination, both Lieutenants Bulkeley and Kelly were aware that they were being sent to war, but would have to operate on a trial-and-error basis. They and their men were true pioneers. PT boats were so new to the United States Navy that no operational doctrine for their combat deployment had yet been established.
Abandoned by the submarine tender that they looked to for material, food and munitions, the PT boats had to look after themselves. Taking to the sea or into Manila Bay, the little wooden boats took on Japanese aircraft, rescued survivors of attacked ships and attacked enemy ships, including forays into Subic Bay, trying to fend off the movement of more Japanese soldiers and Marines against the "Battling Bastards of Bataan."

This activity went on for months, with gasoline and ammunition supplies dwindling with each passing day and each excursion against the enemy. Plans were made for a run to China to continue the fight from there when the time came.

Philippine commander General Douglas MacArthur became the focus of intense criticism (see here and here).

Finally, President Roosevelt ordered General MacArthur to leave Corregidor, and MacArthur followed his orders. The initial plan was to take him off Corregidor by submarine. Somehow, however, it was decided to use four PT boats belonging to MTB Squadron 3 and Lt. Bulkeley. After the action they had seen and the lack of good fuel, the boats were not in the best condition. As set out in Devil Boats:
Four decrepit motor torpedo boats, all barely gasping after numerous transfusions of cannibalized parts, would carry General MacArthur and his party on the first six-hundred-mile leg of the long trek to Australia. Operating in total darkness, largely through uncharted waters, the PTs would have to infiltrate the Japanese naval blockade ad slip undetected past enemy-held islands in order to reach Mindanao, the southernmost large island of the Philippines. There, heavy bombers sent from Australia were to pick up the refugees from Corregidor
On March 11, 1942, MacArthur's party was divided among the four boats and the boats set out. There were a few wrinkles. Devil Boats notes some navigational deficiencies:
None of the PTs were (sic) equipped with a pelorus...so a course would be followed using ancient methods: a simple compass and dead reckoning.
Admiral Rockwell, riding in one of the boats that was developing engine trouble, was told the reasons for the difficulty and suggested to LT Kelly that he take a bearing to tell how far they were from shore:
Kelly said he couldn't. Why not? Because he had no pelorus. Does Bulkeley have one? No. Then how did the PT flotilla intend to navigate?"By guess and by God," Kelly replied nonchalantly. This time Rockwell thundered: My God!
After the boats finally arrived at Cuyo Island, a previously established rendezvous spot, a pressing question developed. Should the journey continue on the PT boats in order to be on time for the meet up with the aircraft flying up from Australia or should the party wait for the scheduled arrival of the submarine Permit* giving MacArthur another option to leave? The PT boats were chosen.

The journey continued:
The escape plan was behind schedule. They were originally meant to move on from Cuyo Island in the dark. MacArthur ordered Bulkeley to depart Cuyo Island at 2:30 p.m.. They risked a possible daylight encounter with the Japanese Navy.

The PT boats were in the open sea by 3:30pm. Within 15 minutes they spotted the Japanese heavy cruiser Ashigara. It carried eight-inch guns and Long Lance torpedoes and could travel at 35 knots. By then, PT 41 was only capable of 18 knots.

They took evasive action and were never seen by the Japanese. As they approached Negros Island that evening, Japanese artillerymen hear the PT boats engine noises, and thought they could hear American aircraft. They fire their artillery and light up the sky with flak tracer shells. The PT boats have another lucky escape.
At 6:30 am on 13 March 1942, PT 34 sights Cagayan Point on Mindanao Island. They had spent 35 hours travelling through 560 miles of Japanese waters. John D. Bulkeley, who had commanded his boat continuously for those 35 hours, arrived at Del Monte precisely on time.
MacArthur's escape from Corregidor was complete, thanks to a handful of PT boat sailors.

LCDR Bulkeley's Medal of Honor Citation:

Rank and organization: Lieutenant Commander, Commander of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3, U.S. Navy. Place and date: Philippine waters, 7 December 1941 to 10 April 1942. Entered service at: Texas. Born: 19 August 1911, New York, N.Y. Other awards: Navy Cross, Distinguished Service Cross, Silver Star, Legion of Merit. Citation: For extraordinary heroism, distinguished service, and conspicuous gallantry above and beyond the call of duty as commander of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3, in Philippine waters during the period 7 December 1941 to 10 April 1942. The remarkable achievement of Lt. Comdr. Bulkeley's command in damaging or destroying a notable number of Japanese enemy planes, surface combatant and merchant ships, and in dispersing landing parties and land-based enemy forces during the 4 months and 8 days of operation without benefit of repairs, overhaul, or maintenance facilities for his squadron, is believed to be without precedent in this type of warfare. His dynamic forcefulness and daring in offensive action, his brilliantly planned and skillfully executed attacks, supplemented by a unique resourcefulness and ingenuity, characterize him as an outstanding leader of men and a gallant and intrepid seaman. These qualities coupled with a complete disregard for his own personal safety reflect great credit upon him and the Naval Service .
Info on the 77' ELCO PT boats here at the excellent PT Boats, Inc. site. UPDATE: I would be remiss indeed not to mention the movie based on the PT boats in the Philippines, They Were Expendable, starring John Wayne and Robert Montgomery, CDR USNR, who served in PT boats.

*As a historical side note, Permit did show on time, but had to make history another way:
With the loss of the Netherlands East Indies, the US high command ordered Gen. MacArthur out of the Philippines, and the original plan to retrieve him assigned the mission to USS Permit (SS-178), commanded by L/Cmdr. "Moon" Chappie. Permit had left Surabaja on 22 February, one of the last boats to sortie from the doomed port, and she was patrolling the Java Sea, awaiting the Japanese invasion, when she was vectored north to Corregidor. At the last moment, however, the evacuation of MacArthur's party was entrusted to four PT boats1, which left "the Rock" on 11 March. Chappie was ordered to rendezvous with the PT flotilla at Panay on the 13th, but found on arrival there that the General had already moved on to Mindinao, from whence he made his final escape to Australia by air. Nonetheless, Chappie brought Permit into Corregidor on the 15th, off-loaded all the spare ammunition he had on board, and embarked 47 passengers, including 36 cryptographers and linguists and seven survivors from one of the "MacArthur" PT boats, which had broken down at Panay. Including her own crew, Permit had 111 people on board the night after leaving Corregidor, when she was overtaken by a column of three Japanese destroyers that Chappie lost no time in attacking unsuccessfully - with two torpedoes. To escape the resulting depth-charge attacks, Permit was forced to stay down for 22 hours putting a severe strain on the boat's oxygen supply - but on 7 April, Chappie brought the boat and his grateful passengers safely into Fremantle, where he was then roundly criticized for agreeing to take so many personnel onboard!

The Power of One

From Instapinch here, a gem of a link.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Somalia: French provided WFP Escort ship to arrve in November

French ship to protect Somali food aid from mid-November:
A French naval vessel will in mid-November start protecting food aid destined for the beleaguered Somalis from pirate attacks, a French naval officer said Thursday.

"We have plans to send a warship from France's frigate class ... to escort WFP food aid from Mombasa to Mogadishu starting from mid-November in operations that will last until mid-January," Vice Admiral Jacques Launay, told AFP.

"The operations have a defensive and preventive posture but they will respond if they come under attack," he added.

Port security: Research in Florida

Reported here:
SRI International is turning Tampa Bay into a laboratory for tying together various surveillance technologies to protect seaports from terrorists and other bad guys.

The Silicon Valley research firm said Friday that it won a five-year, $36.5-million contract from the Navy to develop a system of radar, sonar, underwater sensors and other devices that work in tandem to warn maritime agencies of threats to ports.
The Port of Tampa relies on a network of 200 closed-circuit cameras, plus patrols by its own security officers and Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies to watch for intruders. Port Authority and U.S. Coast Guard personnel in a command center follow movements of large ships, equipped with radio transponders, through Tampa Bay's 43-mile shipping channel on wide-screen video monitors.

Under the contract, SRI will install radar that can track vessels almost anywhere in Tampa Bay and to the end of the channel, west of the Sunshine Skyway. The first units will go up in January, said Gary Brown, director of the center and a former Marine Corps one-star general.

A separate radar will watch for low-flying aircraft around the port. SRI also plans to use underwater sonar to scan the hulls of cruise ships and miles of seawalls. Sensors placed below the surface will detect toxic substances in the water.

The hard part isn't finding the hardware. Most of the money and work will go into developing software that meshes all the information and alerts officers in a control center to potential threats, Brown says.

The system looks for "anomalies," he says. That could be an inflatable boat speeding toward a cruise ship or a freighter that appears on radar but has turned off its radio transponder.

Other U.S. ports such as Seattle, San Diego and Charleston, S.C., have radar or other capabilities, says Brown, but none has the whole package of surveillance technology, much less computer programs that tie them together.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Navy Fire Fighting by Air

Helicopter Sea Combat Support 85 uses H-60S to help fight California wildfires:
"This is a complicated airspace. We are having to coordinate our mission with all of the other helicopter flying," added Pringle. "HSC-85 is very capable of being where it needs to be."

The squadron is the only one in the San Diego area trained to provide firefighting support to military installations and trains for this mission regularly. That training was proven valuable in the California Cedar Fires of 2003, detailing operating procedures and the type of support the Navy could provide in fire emergencies.

"It is tough out there, but by us being out here we are adding another dimension by providing air support," said Lt. Cmdr. Brian Wilderman, operations officer at HSC-85.

The helicopters each carry 420 gallons of water, a four-member aircrew team and were launched to help with firefighting efforts Oct 22.
Photo captions:
1. Crew members aboard a MH-60S Seahawk helicopter activate a release button, dumping 420 gallons of water below them on a burning target. HSC-85 has teamed up with the San Diego California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to help put out the wild fires blazing across Southern California. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dustin Kelling (RELEASED)
Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class Danny Vickers helps guide pilots while scooping water from a lake near raging wildfires in San Diego County. Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 85 has teamed up with the San Diego California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to help put out the wildfires blazing across Southern California. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jon Husman (RELEASED)

An MH-60S Seahawk helicopter retrieves water from a lake near the wildfires in San Diego. Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 85 has teamed up with the San Diego California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection to help put out the wildfires blazing across Southern California. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jon Husman (RELEASED)
BZ, 85!

Just in case you were thinking differently: "Southeast Asia's Maritime Triangle A Security Nightmare"

A nice summary of the security issues in the Malacca/Philippines chokepoints here:
The Strait of Malacca and the porous Sulu and Celebes seas are security nightmares against pirate attacks and terror bombers.
Well, yeah.

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.

Reposted from last year.

Friday Reading

Cuban Missile Crises at Steeljaw Scribe's Flightdeck Friday: Nuclear Edition.

Lt Murphy, Medal of Honor, Navy SEAL, at CDR Salamander's Fullbore Friday.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


To all my college friends who loved Cuba then, for its Castros and Che, a sharp does of reality from President Bush (h/t Jay Nordlinger at NRO) here:
One of the great success stories of the past century is the advance of economic and political freedom across Latin America. In this room are officials representing nations that are embracing the blessings of democratic government and free enterprise. And the United States is proud and active to work with you in your transformations.

One country in our region still isolates its people from the hope that freedom brings, and traps them in a system that has failed them. Forty-eight years ago, in the early moments of Cuba's revolution, its leaders offered a prediction. He said -- and I quote -- "The worst enemies which the Cuban revolution can face are the revolutionaries themselves." One of history's great tragedies is that he made that dark prophecy come true.

Cuba's rulers promised individual liberty. Instead they denied their citizens basic rights that the free world takes for granted. In Cuba it is illegal to change jobs, to change houses, to travel abroad, and to read books or magazines without the express approval of the state. It is against the law for more than three Cubans to meet without permission. Neighborhood Watch programs do not look out for criminals. Instead, they monitor their fellow citizens -- keeping track of neighbors' comings and goings, who visits them, and what radio stations they listen to. The sense of community and the simple trust between human beings is gone.

Cuba's rulers promised an era of economic advancement. Instead they brought generations of economic misery. Many of the cars on the street pre-date the revolution -- and some Cubans rely on horse carts for transportation. Housing for many ordinary Cubans is in very poor condition, while the ruling class lives in mansions. Clinics for ordinary Cubans suffer from chronic shortages in medicine and equipment. Many Cubans are forced to turn to the black market to feed their families. There are long lines for basic necessities -- reminiscent of the Soviet bread lines of the last century. Meanwhile, the regime offers fully stocked food stores to foreign tourists, diplomats and businessmen in communism's version of apartheid.

Cuba's rulers promised freedom of the press. Instead they closed down private newspapers and radio and television stations. They've jailed and beaten journalists, raided their homes, and seized their paper, ink and fax machines. One Cuban journalist asked foreigners who visited him for one thing: a pen. Another uses shoe polish as ink as a typewriter ribbon.

Cuba's rulers promised, "absolute respect for human rights." Instead they offered Cubans rat-infested prisons and a police state. Hundreds are serving long prison sentences for political offenses such as the crime of "dangerousness" -- as defined by the regime. Others have been jailed for the crime of "peaceful sedition" -- which means whatever Cuban authorities decide it means.
Forty-five years ago the world was at the brink of nuclear war when Cuba allowed/invited the Soviet Union to place atomic weapons on Cuban soil. The Navy was called on to quarantine Cuba and interdict any shipping that might be carrying missiles or warheads for Cuba, as set out here:
Reports of the arrival of large numbers of Soviet technicians and military personnel, the construction of larger launch complexes, and the extension of airstrips to accommodate high-performance aircraft pointed unmistakably to the rapid development of Cuba into a Soviet base for offensive action against the United States. Descriptions of suspicious cargoes aboard Cuba-bound ships, obtained from sources at ports of loading and unloading and from aerial photographs taken by Navy reconnaissance aircraft, together with information on vehicle and rail convoys gathered from Cuban informants, strongly indicated the preparation of missile sites of other than the surface-to-air variety Which had been under surveillance for some time.
Although military contingency considerations toward Cuba had their genesis long before, on October 1 Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara met with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) to discuss the circumstances under which military action against Cuba might be necessary and toward which our military planning should be oriented. The following day, the Secretary sent a memorandum to the Joint Chiefs of Staff suggesting six contingencies; among them were (a) evidence that the Castro regime has permitted the positioning of Bloc offensive weapon systems on Cuban soil or in Cuban harbors and (b) a decision by the President that affairs in Cuba have reached a point inconsistent with continuing national security."

The memorandum requested contingency preparatory actions and an evaluation of the consequences of such actions. The political objectives of the contingencies were defined as the removal of the threat of Soviet weapon systems and, if necessary, the removal of the Castro regime to assure the permanent dislocation of these weapons.
Sunday, 14 October

U-2 reconnaissance photographs of Cuba positively identified three medium-range ballistic missile sites at San Cristobal. This was the first photographic intelligence of the area since August 29, at which time there was no evidence of any such development.

Monday, 15 October

More U-2 photographs taken the day before were developed and analyzed. They further confirmed the existence of strategic missiles and sites in Cuba. Two additional U-2 flights made during the day not only reconfirmed the San Cristobal sites, but also showed two intermediate-range ballistic-missile sites under construction at Guanajay, where there had been no deployment activity on August 29.
Atlantic Fleet forces already were at a high peak of readiness because of a heavy schedule of training operations which were underway.
The quarantine proclamation had been completed and the OAS and UN resolutions were prepared. Mr. Pierre Salinger (White House), Mr. Robert Manning (State), and Mr. Arthur Sylvester (Defense) met to establish public-affairs coordination.

At 1430Q, the President met with the National Security Council, Mr. Don Wilson (USIA), and Admiral Anderson to discuss the third draft of the Presidential speech and progress reports on preparations. It was positively decided that our first objective would be to block further shipments of offensive military equipment to Cuba and that our aim was also to see that the Soviet missiles were removed from Cuba under UN supervision and inspection.

The philosophy that Cuba should be invaded was not completely rejected. It was placed to the right in the spectrum of action. First would come the limited blockade, then a complete blockade.~ these failed to achieve the removal of the offensive weapons, the next step would be selective air strikes, followed finally by the implementation of one of two invasion plans - 314, where time did not permit peak readiness of the invasion force, or 316, where amphibious and airborne assault could be accomplished from a full readiness posture. The last contingency was general war, which might result from extreme Soviet reaction.
Monday, 22 October
*** The President had used the term "quarantine" instead of "blockade", because the latter term could have been interpreted as an act of war. The proposed interdiction was aimed solely at offensive weapons and every effort was to be made to not have other nations consider the action as a warlike act.
Tuesday, 23 October
On the day following the President's announcement, much interest still was shown in international reaction to the proposed U.S. action, not only that of the Soviet Bloc, but the free world as well. Russia canceled all military leaves and stopped discharges, particularly for personnel in rocket, anti-aircraft, and submarine duties. There also were several reports of Soviet long-range submarines along Russian shipping routes. A Japanese press report said that the Director General of Tass, visiting Japan, stated, "If the United States sinks a Soviet ship, there will be total war."
Wednesday, 31 October
Soviet merchantmen approaching the quarantine zone continued to heave to upon reaching the 500-mile line. By 31 October, Kladna and Karl Marx had joined Belovodsk and Groznyy in lying dead in the water. Other significant developments on this first day of the new phase of operations centered around reappraisal of submarine surveillance successes and committal of Latin American assistance to the U.S. military action. An unprecedented number of eleven submarines had been identified outside of Soviet home waters. At least four Russian "F" class submarines were operating in the area east of the Bahamas. All of these had been sighted on the surface at least once. In one case, one of these remained on the surface for 45 hours, under escort of two U.S. destroyers.
The end of the crisis came swiftly:
A quarantine was decided on that would interdict any further arms shipments to Cuba. Boardings and inspections of cargos were authorized. It was followed by the positioning of massive numbers of ships, troops and planes along the East Coast in case a direct attack on the missiles sites had to be undertaken to lead to their prompt removal. Additional U–2 flights were authorized (one of which was shot down with the loss of its pilot), confirming and extending the initial findings. Low–level photo reconnaissance flight produced exquisitely detailed information about the state of deployment of the Soviet ballistic missiles.

An intensive diplomatic effort was begun to inform allies and the United Nations about the situation. While the ballistic missile deployment was denied by the Soviet Foreign Minister Andrei Grominko on his October 18 visit to the White House and by Ambassador Zorin at the United Nations (both unaware of the photographs available to President Kennedy and Adlai Stevenson), the visual evidence presented at a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council on October 25 was so overwhelming that it led to speedy approval of the US military policies that had been put in place

In view of the firm, uncompromising actions instituted by the United States, Soviet Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev reversed his missile deployment venture in the Western Hemisphere. On October 28 the offensive missiles were returned to the Soviet Union.

Malaysia's new submarine

Launched in France, as reported here:
Malaysia’s first Scorpene submarine was launched Tuesday signifying yet another leap in the nation’s pursuit of new technology.

KD Tunku Abdul Rahman, named after the country’s first Prime Minister, was unveiled in a historic ceremony at the DCNS dockyard here, about 400km from Paris.
As a maritime nation and given its geographical setting, it is inevitable that Malaysia’s national interests and security concerns are closely related and associated with the seas, he said.

He said commercially, more than 90% of the country’s domestic and international trades were dependent on sea transportation.

On the seabed lies underwater pipelines that transport Malaysia’s oil and gas ashore as well as cables that link major international communication networks.

“It is thus crucial for Malaysia to have a small but credible and effective naval force to not only safeguard its sovereignty and maritime interests but also contribute to the region’s maritime security and safety,” he added.
Video fun with the Scorpene class:

Deeply held political beliefs hurt our military readiness

Example at In From the Cold: Idiots on the Hill

Emergency Preparedness

Hurricane season is drawing to a close but fires and earthquakes, tornadoes, blizzards and other woes never go away, so it's never time to stop thinking about how to deal with emergencies.

The Department of Homeland Security has offered up ideas on a Basic Emergency Supply Kit:
* Water, one gallon of water per person per day for at least three days, for drinking and sanitation
* Food, at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food
* Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert and extra batteries for both
* Flashlight and extra batteries
* First aid kit
* Whistle to signal for help
* Dust mask, to help filter contaminated air and plastic sheeting and duct tape to shelter-in-place
* Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties for personal sanitation
* Wrench or pliers to turn off utilities
* Can opener for food (if kit contains canned food)
* Local maps

Additional Items to Consider Adding to an Emergency Supply Kit:

* Prescription medications and glasses
* Infant formula and diapers
* Pet food and extra water for your pet
* Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records in a waterproof, portable container
* Cash or traveler's checks and change
* Emergency reference material such as a first aid book or information from www.ready.gov
* Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person. Consider additional bedding if you live in a cold-weather climate.
* Complete change of clothing including a long sleeved shirt, long pants and sturdy shoes. Consider additional clothing if you live in a cold-weather climate.
* Household chlorine bleach and medicine dropper – When diluted nine parts water to one part bleach, bleach can be used as a disinfectant. Or in an emergency, you can use it to treat water by using 16 drops of regular household liquid bleach per gallon of water. Do not use scented, color safe or bleaches with added cleaners.
* Fire Extinguisher
* Matches in a waterproof container
* Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
* Mess kits, paper cups, plates and plastic utensils, paper towels
* Paper and pencil
* Books, games, puzzles or other activities for children
Of course, it depends on the time you have to get ready. It was interesting to see that some of the California wildfire evacuees took tens and camping gear with them to shelters. With the newer style tents that are free standing, they provided families with a modicum of privacy at a stressful time.

Last year we gave our kids small emergency kits suitable for car or home. REI sells a nice "Survivor in a Bottle" kit for about $20. It has the virtue of being compact.

Quake Pro offers up water in a box with a 5-year shelf life here. They sell personal-sized survival packages (3 days of food and water & a space blanket) for $21. See here. Water in 4 oz pouches available here 100 pouches for $30.

Emergency Essentials sells fill-it-yourself boxed water kits (25 gallons) for about $30, as well as many other useful items.

You might want to add a folding shovel to the kit - this place sells one for about $8. Good idea for travel in snow country.

Some companies will sell you complete kits with items you might not have thought of - a 5-person kit from iPrepare.com has a lot of stuff and you can add more. The kit contains:
5 Person Kit Includes:
5 2400-Calorie Food Bars, 15 8.5 Oz. Water Boxes, 5 Solar Blanket, 1 Pair of Work Gloves, 50 Purification Water Tablets, 12 Sanitary Waste Bags, 1 Pkg. Sanitary Toilet Chemicals, 1 Box Waterproof Matches, 1 AM/FM Radio with Light & Generator, 4 12-Hour Light-sticks, 5 Dust Masks, 5 Tissue Packs, First Aid Kit, Latex Gloves, 5 Candles. Comes packed in 1 Port-A-Potty Bucket.
Runs about $160 and weighs 26 pounds.

And don't forget the radio. Information is everything in an emergency. Get a good hand crankable radio with a weather band. The Hurricnae Store.com offers up one for about $25. Amazon has a Grundig for $40:
At slightly more than a pound in weight, and with dimensions of 6.5 x 5.75 x 2.25-inches (WxHxD), the FR200 is designed to be tucked neatly into its handy nylon carrying case and can be easily stored in an emergency box, or packed neatly for a camping trip. An LED flashlight is set on the front of the radio, just to the side of the analog tuner. The flashlight is designed to help you down an unlit stairwell or enclosed hallway in a pinch, but the light is not directed or strong enough to help you much in a pitch-black forest or other open area. The radio and light can be operated simultaneously, though of course at the expense of power.
Build a couple of kits for your cars and the house and rest a little easier.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Worst "pirates" ever?

Would be pedal boat thieves 'I'm Captain Jack Sparrow' ...

Drunks and fools.


You didn't ask, but


A "Flat-Earth" Navy

In the sense of Thomas Friedman, as portayed by Robert Kaplan discussing the new Maritime Strategy at the Atlantic in The Navy’s New Flat-Earth Strategy.

This is very much a diplomatic document, meaning it is necessary to read between the lines. Without mentioning China and without going into specific numbers—or even asserting the need for more ships—the 16-page document makes the case for a Navy that must do, if not everything, then nearly everything. And it makes its case within an intellectual framework that should resonate with the public and a Democratic Congress: the dialectic of globalization. “Our Nation’s interests are best served by fostering a peaceful global system comprised of interdependent networks of trade, finance, information, law, people and governance.”
Cases in point: Top photo caption:
French Super-Etendard from the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier French Navy Ship Charles de Gaulle (R 91) performs a touch-and-go landing on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74). Stennis, as part of the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group, and Charles de Gaulle, the flagship of Commander, Task Force 473, are operating in the North Arabian Sea. Stennis and Charles de Gaulle are conducting bilateral exercises and supporting multi-national ground forces in Afghanistan. Official U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist Adam Henderson

Lower photo:
The Military Sealift Command (MSC) hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) receives fuel from the MSC combat stores ship USNS San Jose (T-AFS 7) as the MSC underway replenishment oiler USNS Tippecanoe (T-AO 199), far left, and the High Speed Vessel Two (HSV-2) Swift, far right, operate alongside in the Indian Ocean. Mercy is serving as an enabling platform to assist humanitarian operations ashore in ways that host nations and international relief organization find useful. Mercy is currently off the waters of Indonesia in support of Operation Unified Assistance, the humanitarian relief effort to aid the victims of the tsunami that struck Southeast Asia.
(U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Timothy Smith)
UPDATE: Another, but not totally dissimilar view, here:
Finally, no amount of cooperation can compensate for the corrosive consequences of a naval shipbuilding program that is dead in the water. You can't sustain global maritime supremacy by buying one submarine a year and one aircraft carrier every five years. And you can't fix a fouled-up shipbuilding sector by launching a political jihad against the handful of shipyards that have survived a generation of Navy mismanagement.

The Navy needs to settle now on what warships it wants for the future and start building them at a much faster rate; otherwise it will lack the tools to carry out all its high-minded strategic concepts.
UPDATE2: Something about all this "cooperation" reminds me of those cautionary words from Gunny Highway, "Just because we're holding hands doesn't mean we'll be taking warm showers together until the wee hours of the morning. "

Worst case scenarios of getting little help from "allies" when the chips are down still need to be considered, in my admittedly jaundiced view.

UPDATE3: And over at Steeljaw Scribe, the guy in charge of the prep of the new Strategy holds forth here. Note that in the comments, he refers to the Kaplan piece as bein on target...

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Latest ICC CCS Weekly Piracy Report (to 22 Oct 07)

The latest ICC Commercial Crime Services Weekly Piracy Report (to 22 Oct 07) is here. Highlights: Somalia:
21.10.2007: 0050 LT: 00:26.0N-044:38.0E: 60 NM offshore Brava, Somalia.
A UN WFP chartered general cargo ship was fired upon and chased by pirates while enroute to Mombassa after discharging cargo at Mogadishu. The vessel increased speed, switched off her lights and headed towards the open sea. The pirates continued chasing the vessel. The vessel managed to escape as the distance between the vessel and the pirate’s boats slowly increased. The vessel continued her passage to the port of arrival. The UN WFP informed NATO shipping and MARLO who in turn advised TF150.

17.10.2007: 1830 LT: 10-20 NM off Mogadishu port, Somalia. A general cargo ship was proceeding to Mombassa, Kenya after discharging UN WFP chartered cargo at Mogadishu when pirates in a boat chased her, opened fire with automatic weapons, boarded her and hijacked her. They sailed the vessel into coastal waters and anchored closer to shore. To date, owners have lost all contact with the vessel. Fate of the crewmembers and ship is not known.
18.10.2007: 1000 UTC: 03:45N – 051:30E, off Somalia.
2/O on a bulk carrier underway sighted two small crafts on the port side disguising as fishing boat. At 3 NM the crafts increased speed and proceed towards the ship. One craft approached from the bow and the other from astern. 2/O alerted the master and the crew working on deck. One boat, with four pirates, near the bow fired warning shots, in the air, signalling the ship to stop. The other boat came near the port quarter of the ship and started firing at the accommodation. The first craft also started firing at the accommodation and bridge. One bullet hit the bridge window. Master raised alarm, sounded ship’s whistle, increased speed, took evasive manoeuvres and mustered the crew. After 15 minutes, the pirates aborted the attempt and moved away. No injuries to crew.
18.10.2007: 0805 LT: 54:34.0N-050:37.9E: 155 NM off Mogadishu, Somalia. A white coloured speedboat approached the ship underway at stern. Alarm raised, crew mustered and evasive manoeuvres taken. Two Somali gunmen onboard the ship fired warning shots at the boat and the pirates returned fire. The speedboat pursued the ship for about 15 mins and later altered course and disappeared.

17.10.2007: 1830 LT: 10-20 NM off Mogadishu port, Somalia. A general cargo ship was proceeding to Mombassa, Kenya after discharging UN WFP chartered cargo at Mogadishu when pirates in a boat chased her, opened fire with automatic weapons, boarded her and hijacked her. They sailed the vessel into coastal waters and anchored closer to shore. To date, owners have lost all contact with the vessel. Fate of the crewmembers and ship is not known.
14.10.2007: 2335 LT: 00:36.7N-050:20.01E: 312 NM off Mogadishu, Somalia. 2nd officer onboard a reefer ship spotted a suspicious boat on radar at a distance of 8 NM. A few minutes later, the boat picked up speed and headed towards the vessel. The vessel took evasive actions to prevent contact with the boat. Due to ship’s higher speed and evasive manoeuvres, the suspicious boat could not get closer and aborted the chase.
16.10.2007: 0145 LT: 30:06N-048:24.4E: Shatt Al Arab river: Iran.
Five pirates in a speedboat, armed with AK-47 automatic rifles, boarded a container ship underway. They took the master, C/E, 2/O and pilot as hostage. The C/O discovered the incident and raised the alarm. The pirates fired at the C/O. Luckily the C/O escaped. The pirates robbed the crew of cash and property before escaping in their speedboat. Port control and coast guard informed.