Eyes of the Fleet

Eyes of the Fleet

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

North Korean Ship Takes the Scenic Tour

CBS News, apparently believing that the DPRK was doing something other than testing the waters (so to speak) to see if the various UN and US and other forces might actually board a ship leaving North Korean waters and find a cargo of stuffed monkeys, reports in North Korean Ship Turning Around:
The North Korean ship Kang Nam has turned around and is heading back toward the south coast of China, reports CBS News national security correspondent David Martin.

The ship, which left a North Korean port on June 17, is the first vessel monitored under U.N. sanctions that ban the regime from selling arms and weapons-related material.

It is currently in the vicinity of the Parcel Islands 100 miles off Vietnam, Martin reports, adding that there is no specified reason as of now for why it has changed course.

"With still no long range missiles on the launch pads and no time to get them ready for a July 4 launch, it would appear the temperature is being lowered," Martin said of North Korea's threats to launch missiles at Hawaii on the U.S.'s Independence Day.

"If the ship is on its way back, it would mean that Resolution 1874 is taking effect and causing the North to retreat," Kim Tae-woo, vice president of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, told the Korea Herald.
If we're going to embargo North Korea, it ought to involve sinking any ship that passes across a line drawn in the sea. See also here:
Furthermore, there has never been a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War. This means the U.S., a combatant in the conflict, as leader of the U.N. Command, is free to use force against Pyongyang. On legal grounds, the U.S. Navy therefore has every right to seize the Kang Nam, treat the crew as prisoners of war, and confiscate its cargo, even if the ship is carrying nothing more dangerous than melons. Because the Navy has the right to torpedo the vessel, which proudly flies the flag of another combatant in the war, it of course has the right to board her.
And putting an end to the DPRK games. Because the next level of DPRK testing will be more severe. Perhaps a merchant ship will be escorted by an vessel from the DPRK Navy, as limited as it is, or a DPRK submarine will leave port at the same time as a cargo ship...

Or the NORK ship could just be taking the scenic tour.

Resolution 1874? It is to laugh.

Arab Pirate Fighting Force Announced

A league of Arab nations proposes a force to fight pirates in the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden:
A consortium of Arab states have set up a joint anti-piracy naval force to prevent the spread of piracy from the Gulf of Aden into the Red Sea and Gulf.

11 countries met Monday to set up an all-Arab Navy Task Force to deflect the growing threat Somali-led piracy poses to Arab shipping routes, namely oil and gas exports which pass through the Gulf of Aden and Red Sea to the Suez Canal on the way to the Mediterranean Sea.

Royal Saudi Naval commander Lieutenant General Prince Fahd bin Abdullah told journalists one of the goals of the force would be "to discuss joint Arab coordination with multinational forces operating in the region to combat piracy and to agree on the mechanisms of the Arab contribution."

The force, to be initially led by Saudi Arabia, will include naval forces from Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Sudan, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

The communique issued at the end of the meeting indicated that the size, nature and scope of the forces assigned by each country would be at their discretion.

Arab states have voiced concern over what they perceive to be the increasing encroachment of foreign navies into their regional waters under the guise of anti-piracy efforts.
Well, yeah, nature abhors a vacuum.

If this keeps up, it's going to get crowded out there at sea.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Monday Reading (Good for a whole week!)

Start with Fred Fry'sMaritime Monday 168 with coverage of the Merchant Navy's Sea Survival Source and, I counted them, a whole lot of other interesting maritime related links. Judging by the volume, Fred is on vacation with his computer.

InstaPunk, a favorite site, has a guest poster who sees "cap and trade" in a social context and isn't happy with what he sees. IP himself sees the reaping of the sowing - here. Will Kane may have been right when he tossed his badge on the ground.

Somali Pirates: Russia to send 1 warship,2 support vessels to Gulf of Aden

Russia to send 1 warship,2 support vessels to Gulf of AdenAt least that's how I read Russia Sends Third Naval Task Force to Fight Piracy at the Gulf of Aden. I assume the "big" ASW ship has several helicopters:
The third task force of RF Navy Pacific Fleet has set off from Vladivostok to the Gulf of Aden to fight piracy. The task force comprises big anti-submarine ship “Admiral Tributs”, tanker “Boris Butoma” and tugboat “MB-99”.
Along with sailors the detachment also includes a Naval Infantry subunit, which will execute tasks of protection of commercial ships passing through the gulf. The chief of northeast branch of RF Pacific Fleet, 1st-Class Captain Sergei Alekminsky stated that the mission will differ from previous counter-piracy missions. The operations are expected to be more complicated. “Presence of our ships will hamper pirates’ activity in the region urging them to change their attack tactics” – stated Sergei Alekminsky.
According to the captain, the RF Navy Pacific Fleet holds information relating to attacks on commercial ships included in the convoy of Navy ships. “Not all vessels can be furnished with a security group and therefore some of them remain unguarded. As a rule, pirates track radio communications and select these very vessels from a vessel train.” – said Sergey Alekminsky.

Somali Pirates: Iranian Navy Claims Tanker Attack Stopped

Reported on Iranian news: Iran saves oil tanker from Somali pirates:
An Iranian Navy warship patrolling the volatile Gulf of Aden has managed to save one of the country's giant oil tankers from the clutches of Somali pirates.

Somali pirates attempted to capture the Iranian oil tanker 'Hadi', but were scared off by the Iranian navy's 'quick response' to the oil tanker's distress call on Sunday.

The rescue mission comes as Iran has sent at least six vessels to join international efforts to create a defensive front against piracy in the key shipping-lanes off the coast of Somalia.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Sunday Ship History: The Great Korean War Sea Battle - that never happened

25 June 1950- The army of North Korea rolls into South Korea and the Korean War is on. A little over a week later, the "Greatest Korean War Sea Battle" occurs. The North Koreans now have display in one of their museums commemorating their great victory:
Seven powerful torpedo boats of the DPRK Navy caught an American cruiser, USS Baltimore (CA-68) unaware and turning together toward the imperialist war machine, raced at high speed - loosing a spread of torpedoes that sank the mighty 17,000 ton cruiser, sending 1700 sailors to their deaths.

This glorious victory was one of several naval battles won by the Navy of the Democratic People's Republic. The actual lead torpedo boat that lead the attack is on display at the Victorious Fatherland Liberation War Museum.

Surely you studied this in American history courses about the Korean War?

Probably not. Like a lot of the myths created by the North Korean government, it never happened. As noted here:
A museum in Pyongyang, North Korea, preserved a propaganda poster claiming that the Baltimore was sunk by the Korean People's Navy on 2 July 1950. A torpedo boat which 'sank it' is also displayed there. In fact, the Baltimore was never deployed to the Korean War, nor did it see action again after World War II. The actual battle that occurred on 2 July involved the USS Juneau as well as HMS Black Swan and HMS Jamaica, who together destroyed several Korean torpedo boats escorting supply vessels without any significant return fire from the North Koreans.
It seems that the real battle didn't really work out so well for the DPRK Navy:
In the early hours of July 2, as the allied fleets converged on Korea, U.S. cruiser Juneau, British cruiser Jamaica, and British frigate Black Swan discovered 4 torpedo boats and 2 motor gunboats of the North Korean navy that had just finished escorting ten craft loaded with ammunition south along the coast in the Sea of Japan. The outgunned North Korean torpedo boats turned and gamely pressed home a torpedo attack, but before they could launch their weapons, the Anglo-American flotilla ended the threat; only one torpedo boat survived U.S.-British naval gunfire to flee the scene. After this one-sided battle and for the remainder of the war, North Korean naval leaders decided against contesting control of the sea with the UN navies. The surviving units of the North Korean navy eventually took refuge in Chinese and Soviet ports.
Other versions:

July 2, 1950 — The only pure naval action in which an American warship was involved in during the Korean War was fought off Chumunkin, on the east coast, when four North Korean torpedo boats attacked the cruisers USS Juneau (CL 119) and HMS Jamaica and the frigate HMS Black Swan. Three of the torpedo boats were destroyed; none of the allied ships were hit.

And this:

Action of 2 July 1950, Jamaica and the American cruiser USS Juneau were patrolling together near Chumunjin when four North Korean MTBs were detected escorting a number of fishing trawlers. The MTBs were destroyed by the cruisers, and three trawlers were sunk. Light artillery opened up from the shore, and the warships were forced to withdraw.
As the 59th anniversary of this "Great Sea Battle" nears, it's worth a salute to the crews of the Juneau, Black Swan and Jamaica. And a small tip of the hat to the creative "spin artists" of the DPRK.

Wait a minute - what about USS Baltimore? Until 1955 she was never anywhere near Korea:
Baltimore had been in "mothballs" for about five years when the Korean War and the resulting Cold War emergencies called her back to active service. Recommissioned in late November 1951, she soon joined the Atlantic Fleet. In 1952-1954 she deployed regularly to the Mediterranean Sea and, in June 1953, participated in the Naval Review held at Spithead, England, in honor of the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II. Early in 1955 Baltimore went back to the Pacific for a Far Eastern cruise. She then began deactivation at Bremerton, where she was decommissioned at the end of May 1956. Just under fifteen years later, in February 1971, USS Baltimore was stricken from the Naval Vessel Register. She was sold for scrapping in May 1972.
Of course, North Korea now has a much improved reputation for honesty.


EagleSpeak: Warning about EMP since 2005

EMP is getting press again, thanks to a new book, One Second After. Not a new topic here, as you can see.

And others have been on the topic earlier, for example - Popular Mechanics since 2001:
The next Pearl Harbor will not announce itself with a searing flash of nuclear light or with the plaintive wails of those dying of Ebola or its genetically engineered twin. You will hear a sharp crack in the distance. By the time you mistakenly identify this sound as an innocent clap of thunder, the civilized world will have become unhinged. Fluorescent lights and television sets will glow eerily bright, despite being turned off. The aroma of ozone mixed with smoldering plastic will seep from outlet covers as electric wires arc and telephone lines melt. Your Palm Pilot and MP3 player will feel warm to the touch, their batteries overloaded. Your computer, and every bit of data on it, will be toast. And then you will notice that the world sounds different too. The background music of civilization, the whirl of internal-combustion engines, will have stopped. Save a few diesels, engines will never start again. You, however, will remain unharmed, as you find yourself thrust backward 200 years, to a time when electricity meant a lightning bolt fracturing the night sky. This is not a hypothetical, son-of-Y2K scenario. It is a realistic assessment of the damage the Pentagon believes could be inflicted by a new generation of weapons--E-bombs.
See also here.

Okay, what's your plan to go back to the "old ways" should there be an EMP event?

Some guidance have been taken see here fro an Army Corps of Engineers EMP hardening pamphlet. See Low Cost EMP/EMI TEMPEST Shielding Technology. Faraday cages for everyone? See here and here, which, of course, from the "survivalist" camp. Where's Burt Gummer when you need him?

Somali Pirates: EU Safely Escorts Food Ship but ...

Press release from here:

Successfull escort by German Navy frigate

Muqdisho, Somalia, 26th of June 2009

14.000 tons of food have been delivered successfully to the starving people of Somalia from Mombasa, Kenya to Moqdisho in order to prevent the predicted famine in Somalia.

The humanitarian aid shipping, conducted by the merchant ship JAIPUR, was arranged by order and for account of the World Food Programme of the United Nations.

During the several day lasting journey the vessel was escorted by the European Union Naval Force warship FGS Rheinland-Pfalz, a German Navy frigate. This frigate is operating off the coasts of Somalia since February this year and is part of the EU led Operation Atalanta.

This shouldn't really be a story except that the Somali pirates have no sense of obligation to their fellow Somalis and will intercept unescorted food ships.

On the other hand, the UN ReliefWeb reports that new fighting in Mogadishu is creating even more refugees and strain on the UN systems - since Somalia is too fragmented to help itself (and has been that way for what. 20+ years?):
The UN refugee agency on Friday said it was "gravely concerned" about spiralling violence and the worsening displacement crisis in Somalia, where almost 170,000 people have fled the capital Mogadishu since a fresh wave of fighting erupted in early May.

"Fighting between government forces and the opposition Al-Shabaab and Hisb-ul-Islam, which erupted on May 7 in several north-west areas of the Somali capital Mogadishu, is leaving a trail of civilian casualties, destruction and renewed displacement," UNHCR spokesman William Spindler told reporters in Geneva on Friday.

According to records of local Somali hospitals, more than 250 civilians have been killed and at least 900 wounded during this period. "We estimate that since the start of the fighting in May more than 169,000 people have been forced to leave their homes and seek shelter elsewhere within Somalia or in neighbouring countries," Spindler said. Between last Friday and Monday alone, an estimated 33,000 were displaced from Mogadishu due to the heavy fighting.

The majority of the internally displaced people (IDPs), some 51,000, moved to safer districts within the city or makeshift IDP settlements on the outskirts of Mogadishu, while another 48,000 fled towards the Afgooye corridor to the west of the capital. They joined more than 400,000 civilians who have been displaced since 2007. A further 70,000 have gone to more distant locations, including the districts of Lower and Middle Shebelle, Lower Juba, Galgaduud, and Gedo.
The UN Relief people spend a lot of time being "gravely concerned" about Somalia.

Somali Pirates: Belgian ship and crew released after ransom paid

As reported here:
Somali pirates have released the entire crew of a Belgian ship seized 10 weeks ago after a ransom was paid, the Belgian government said Sunday.

The 10-member crew of the Pompei dredger was in good health and sailing the ship to an unidentified harbor where it will arrive in a few days, the government said. The crew members will then fly home to their families.

Defense Minister Pieter De Crem told a news conference that the ship's owners paid a ransom to release the ship and crew. He declined to say how much, but said pirates had demanded $8 million.

A plane dropped the money into the sea near the Belgian vessel Saturday, De Crem said. About 10 pirates on board abandoned the ship early Sunday

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Politics: The Very Best of Hands

From the musical Li'l Abner The Very Best of Hands.

Who the heck is Li'l Abner? History here.

Them city folks and friends
Are pretty much alike
Though they ain't used to living in the sticks
We don't like stone or cement
But we is in agreement
When we get started talking politics

The country's in the very best of hands
The best of hands
The best of hands

The treasury says the national debt
Is climbing to the sky
And government expenditures
Have never been so high
It makes a fellow get a
Gleam of pride when they decide
To see how our economy expands
The country's in the very best of hands

The country's in the very best of hands
The best of hands
The best of hands

You oughtta hear the senate
When their drawing up a bill
Where asses and dimwits are crowded in each conisil (sp.)
Such legal terminology
Would give your heart a thrill
There's phrases there that no one understands
The country's in the very best of hands

The building boom, they say
Is getting bigger every day
And when I asked a feller
How could everybody pay
He come up with an answer
That made everything okay
Supplies are getting greater than demands
The country's in the very best of hands

Don't you believe them congressmen
And senators are dumb
When they run into problems
That is tough to overcome
They just declare something
They call the moritorium
The upper and the lower house dismans
The country's in the very best of hands

Fox Motors is connected to the nominee
The nominee's connected to the treasury
When he ain't connected to the treasury
He sits around on his thigh bone

He sits around in his fancy car
This big congressional parking lot
Just sits around on the you know what
'Cause there they calls it their thigh bone

Them bones, them bones
Gonna rise again
Gonna excercise a franchise again
Gonna tax us up to our eyes again
When he gets them off of their thigh bone

The country's in the very best of hands
The best of hands
The best of hands

The farm bill should be
Eight-nine percent paroty
And all their fellow recommends
It should be mound at three
But eighty, ninety-five percent who cares about decree
It's paroty that no one understands
The country's in the very best of hands

Them GOP's and democrats
Each hates the other one
They's always criticizing
How the country should be run
But neither tell the public
What the others gone and done
As long as no one knows
Where no one stands
The country's in the very best of hands

They sits around and just place their ass
Where folks in congress has always sat
Just sits around on their excess bag
Up there they calls it their thigh bone

They sits around till they starts to snore
Jumps up and hollers
I has the floor
Then sits right down where they sats before
Up there they calls it their thigh bone

Them bones, them bones
Gonna cross again
So dignified and so wise again
While the budget doubles in size again
When it gets them off of their thigh bone

The country's in the very best of hands
The best of hands
The best of hands

The money that they taxes us
That's known as revenues
They compound up collaterals
Subtracts the residue

Don't worry about the principal
And interest it encrues
They're shipping all that stuff to foreign lands
The country's in the very best of hands

Friday, June 26, 2009

Friday Reading

CDR Salamander: Fullbore Friday featuring one of the heroes of the X-craft.

Early dive bombers at Steeljaw Scribe: Flightdeck Friday: Planning, Building and Training for the Future, which he labels as a "cautionary tale."

An early look at the Heritiage Foundation's new report on piracy from MaritimeTerrorism.com here. I've got my own copy of the Special Report (and you can get your for free, too) so when I get time . . .

Another thing to lose some sleep over, with Galrahn's peek at Chinese Anti-ship Ballistic Missiles.

While Congress fights hard to relieve you of all that extra money you've been carrying ("Less weight in your pockets means better health care!"), some Democrats have found another windmill to tilt at - the use of spy satellites to help emergency responders - so they got it killed. Spook86 finds the usual high level of understanding among the gaggle of those protecting our 4th Amendment rights. Common sense, First and Second Amendmen rights and other rights seem to be a lower priority:
As a friend of this blog reminds us, the need for an applications office (or similar department) became painfully evident in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 1995. Faced with incredible devastation across a broad section of the Gulf South, local officials begged the federal government for satellite imagery--and other intel products--that would allow them to pin-point the hardest-hit areas, and concentrate relief services in those communities.
But Democrats on the Hill viewed it as a threat to civil liberties, and so did the ACLU. Never mind that the "local" consumers had no "eavesdropping" capabilities--in other words, they had no real ability to task the system, so concerns about "domestic spying" and invasion of privacy were overstated, at best.
Yes, you ought to read it.

Speaking of terrorist groups, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea a/k/a North Korea is making semi-creative threats against the U.S. and its allies. A few years ago it was the threat of a "Nuclear sea of fire". Now, it's a "Fire shower of nuclear retaliation" among other things. I say we threaten them with an endless supply Congressional speeches on the banking crisis.


It occur to me on this Friday morning that it might have been better in the old days when there were duels of honor fought among gentlemen who accused each other of lying.

Ken Lewis, CEO of Bank of America and Ben Bernanke, head of the Federal Reserve ought to be meeting each other with drawn swords or pistols on some foggy morning in a field somewhere to resolve the issue of whether who's telling the truth about their meeting in December 2008 regarding whether BofA would go forward with the Merrill Lynch buyout. Ten paces, turn and fire.

A thought spawned by this Bernanke Denies Bullying Bank of America and BofA’s CEO: Fed pressured bank to buy Merrill.

"Did to!" "Did not!" Bang!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

High Speed Transports -Cheap

Hawaii Superferry Wants to Abandon Catamarans:
Hawaii Superferry has asked to abandon its two high-speed catamarans to creditors because of the significant cost of maintaining the vessels as the company moves through bankruptcy. MARAD, which guaranteed construction loans for the catamarans; Austal USA, the Alabama shipbuilder that built the vessels; and the state of Hawaii, which provided harbor improvements, are secured creditors with mortgage rights. MARAD, which holds first priority on the mortgages and is owed $135.7m, would likely take possession of the catamarans for charter if the bankruptcy court approves Superferry's request. Austal USA, which holds the second mortgage, announced last week that it is writing off the $22.9m it is owed for construction loans. A hearing on Superferry's request is set for July 1.
Reported here that the ferries headed from Hawaii to Alabama about March 30.

The Feds assert they will repossess the ferries, as set out here:
The U.S. Maritime Administration says that it plans to repossess and sell a pair of fast ferries built at Austal USA for Hawaii Superferry Inc.

Hawaii Superferry owes $136.8 million to the agency — commonly known as MARAD — which guaranteed the loans used to buy the ferries. It has another $22.9 million outstanding on a pair of loans from Austal.

MARAD reported this week that it plans to take possession of the ferries, now docked at Atlantic Marine in Mobile, as soon as it receives approval from bankruptcy court in Delaware. Hawaii Superferry Inc. filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in that state May 30.

The ferry vessels were purchased in 2004 for a combined price of $190 million, according to Austal, which now puts their value at about $87 million each, or $174 million together.

Austal Ltd., the Australian parent company of the Mobile shipyard, said Tuesday that it is writing off about $11 million, after taxes, for the 2008-09 fiscal year related to its ferry loans.

Talks among MARAD, Austal and Hawaii Superferry broke down last week, Austal officials said.

Maritime analysts had expected the ferry vessels to be retrofitted by Austal and chartered directly to the military. Jay Korman of The Avascent Group, a Washington, D.C., consulting firm that tracks defense programs, said Tuesday that MARAD is opting to sell the vessels rather than charter them directly, in order to recoup at least some of the costs for taxpayers.

Austal Ltd. President Bob Browning said he was disappointed that MARAD decided to seize the ferries without involving Austal in a project to prepare them for military use.

MARAD made the ferry loans under its Title XI program, which is supposed to support U.S. shipyards by reducing their reliance on military work.

Browning said that Austal approved lending $23 million to the ferry venture in part because the deal would help raise the profile of Austal's U.S. shipyard, which at the time had been operating in Mobile for only a few years. Although it succeeded in doing that — the Mobile shipyard in November won a potential $1.6 billion contract to build up to 10 high-speed fast ferries for the military — Browning said the company's lending days are over.
I'm a little disappointed that the Navy isn't picking up on these ships for conversion for use in projects like Africa Station, and other situations where high speed Ro-Ro assets might be useful. See the comments here.

Some, apparently seeing military conspiracy to keep Hawaii in the Union, report a military role for these ferries has always been in the background. See here and here from whence comes this old pdf:


Length overall 106.5 metres
Length (waterline) 92.4 metres
Beam (moulded) 23.8 metres
Depth (moulded) 9.4 metres
Hull draft (maximum) 3.65 metres
With mezzanine decks raised 4.6 & 4.7 metres (outboard and centre)
With mezzanine decks raised 2.6 metres below/2.2 metres above

passengers 866
Vehicles 282 cars
or 28 trucks and 65 cars
Maximum deadweight 800 tonnes
Maximum axle loads Centre lane (dual axle) 15.0 tonnes
(single axle) 12.0 tonnes
side lanes (dual axle load) 12.0 tonnes
(single axle load) 9.0 tonnes
Mezzanine lanes 1.0 tonne
Crew as per usCG requirements
Fuel 215,000 litres

Main engines 4 x Mtu 20V 8000 M70
Gearboxes 4 x ZF 53000 - 2
Waterjets 4 x KaMeWa 125 s11

PERFORMANCE (with ride Control fitted)
speed (90% MCR) 40.0 knots

Thuggery 101 by Victor Davis Hanson on National Review Online

Thuggery 101 by Victor Davis Hanson on National Review Online

Logistics: Testing Navy's Improved Logistics Over the Shore

All the supplies in the world don't do any good if you can't get them to the people who need them. Even when there no port to work with, the Navy has an improved solution to an old problem: Sailors Use Improved Navy Lighterage System:
Sailors assigned to Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 2 had the opportunity to test the Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS) during the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) exercise June 15-21.

The JLOTS exercise was a test of the military's ability to move equipment and sustainment supplies to specific areas without the benefit of a fixed port facility.

The exercise increased interoperability and improved military readiness by alleviating situational sustainment issues.

INLS played a large role in the JLOTS mission by acting as a floating pier, or causeway system, which is comprised of powered and non-powered floating platforms.

INLS is used to transfer cargo from ship to shore areas where port facilities may be damaged, or nonexistent.

"The INLS is fairly new to ACB 2; we acquired the system only two years ago," said Master Chief Operations Specialist John Fedor, assigned to ACB 2. "It is vastly improved from the old Navy Lighterage (NL) systems; it is a lot safer, more maneuverable, allows the crew to get out of the weather, provides better visibility for the craftmasters and the overall system is a vast improvement of the previous system."
A comprehensive look at the new INLS here:
The INLS is made up of pontoon sections a.k.a. platforms. Different mixes of pontoon sections are used to make up different assemblies. The Causeway Ferry is used as a lighter for vehicles and large cargo from ship to shore, and has a top speed of 12 knots compared to 4.5 knots for its predecessor. There are 12 modules for 4 ferries, in a 4×3 arrangement where each ferry assembly comes with a Power section (with engine and controls), an Intermediate section, and a Beach section (with ramp). It takes less than 2 hours to assemble the causeway ferry at sea.

A different set of INLS sections can be assembled to make up a Roll-on/Roll-off Discharge Facility (RRDF): 1 docking module, up to 7 combination modules that can be fitted together in various ways, and 1 docking module. Warping tugs, also carried on MPF ships, work to push the RRDF the modules into place, and moving the completed discharge facility into position. Once complete, the 240×72 foot assembly becomes a floating transfer dock onto which Maritime Prepositioning Ships and others lower their ramps. It takes 18 – 24 hours to assemble the RRDF discharge facility, depending on waves and wind. The tactical vehicles and other rolling stock can roll down the ships’ ramps onto the RRDF, then onto waiting lighterage such as barge ferries or LCU landing craft.

RRDF also has obvious potential uses under the Navy’s proposed Seabasing doctrine, which would allow offloading, housing, and transfer of supplies for operations on land from floating platforms that could act as mobile bases. Since these sea-bases could be deployed in international waters, or near areas without convenient ports nearby, they would sharply expand the US military’s ability to project power from the sea. The INLS does not yet have a defined seabasing role, but recent exercises have begun to explore this capability.
Top photo caption:
An improved Navy lighterage system operates supporting the Joint Logistics Over-the-Shore (JLOTS) exercises. INLS, a sea state three-capable causeway system, is a floating pier that comprises powered and non-powered floating platforms assembled from interchangeable modules. JLOTS is a joint operation that consists of loading and unloading of ships without fixed port facilities, in friendly or non-defended territories. (U.S. Navy Photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class John Stratton/Released)
Middle photo caption:
CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (July 3, 2008) Seabees assigned Amphibious Construction Battalion (ACB) 1 offload a structural piece of an elevated causeway system onto Improved Navy Lighterage System (INLS) Causeway Ferry 1 during Joint Logistics Over-The-Shore (JLOTS) 2008. Navy and Army engineering units will construct a life support area, conduct force protection operations, execute an in-stream offload of shipping from a sea echelon area, employ an offshore petroleum discharge system, and retrograde and safely redeploy allocated forces. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brian Morales (Released)
Lowest photo caption:
HSV-2 Swift utilizes the Improved Navy Lighterage System and its own Roll-on/Roll-off capabilities for West Africa Training Cruise 08 in conjunction with Africa Partnership Station.
UPDATE: Jan 15, 2010: And, of course, you can fery stuff ashore using LCAC's:
The Landing Craft Air Cushion (LCAC) is a high-speed, over-the-beach fully amphibious landing craft, capable of carrying a 60-75 ton payload. It is used to transport the weapons systems, equipment, cargo and personnel of the assault elements of the Marine Air-Ground Task Force from ship to shore and across the beach. LCAC can carry heavy payloads, such as an M-1 tank, at high speeds. The LCAC payload capability and speed combine to significantly increase the ability of the Marine Ground Element to reach the shore. Air cushion technology allows this vehicle to reach more than 70 percent of the world's coastline, while only about 15 percent of that coastline is accessible by conventional landing craft.
Or by lots of helicopter trips, but you need secure landing areas in either case. H-60 helicopters, apparently to be supported on the aircrafter carrrier Vinson, can carry a little over 4 tons in a sling under the aircraft.

Barges and ships with cranes can lighter off shore.

One of the key problems is water - and a couple of barges with desalination equipment and a pipeline to shore would be helpful. Or a water carrying variation using tankers...

The bad part is - it all takes time to put together.

Somali Pirates: Yemeni Navy reportedly deters pirate attack

A press release from Gulf of Aden Group Transits:

Pirate attack on chemical tanker foiled by Yemen Navy escort vessel.

Gulf of Aden Group Transits Ltd. (GoAGT) provides armed escort patrol boats via the Yemen Navy for merchant vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden piracy hotspot.

At 2000UTC on 24 June 2009, approximately 50 miles south west of Aden, a GoAGT sourced Yemen Navy 37.5m Fast Patrol Boat fired warning shots from its Bofor guns on a suspected pirate skiff approaching an escorted chemical tanker at speed. The skiff had no lights visible and ignored repeated requests to turn away.

The suspect skiff retreated immediately upon engagement and was soon lost from radar.

Nick Davis, spokesperson for GoAGT commented:

“Once again the Yemen Navy has demonstrated a forthright and positive approach to protecting commercial vessels from acts of piracy. We are immensely impressed by their consistent and unquestionable commitment to protecting vessels as they passage along the Yemen coastline.”

Somali Pirates: Raising Insurance Rates

As exotic as it may seem to a landlocked teenager in Nebraska, merchant shipping is a business, just like the corner gas station or the local insurance agency.

And, just like those businesses, when cost go up, those increased costs are passed along to the customer. In this case, we're talking an increase in insurance rates to be charged to shipping companies because the Somali pirates have raised the costs of doing sea business in the sea lanes off Somalia, as set forth
The cost of insuring shipping against piracy has increased 20-fold because of attacks on shipping off Somalia and Nigeria. Insurance broker Marsh said attacks on vessels doubled in the first quarter of the year, triggering massive insurance claims and the huge rise in premiums. Marcus Baker, head of marine insurance at the broker in London, said ships that had been paying a premium of 0.05% of the value of their goods a year ago were now being charged as much as 0.1%. Experts told Bloomberg that owners of tankers and container ships were also spending as much as $40,000 (£24,000) per passage on security guards. Baker said: "Piracy is a pretty challenging piece of risk to underwrite."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Logistics: Seapower gets it

The Navy League's excellent magazine, Seapower, July 2009 issue has a special section on "Logistics & Operations Support."

You can download it free at the link.

Interesting article on logistical support for Afghanistan operations.

Somali Pirates destroy Seychelles ship

The good news is, as noted yesterday, the crew was released, the bad news is Pirates destroy Seychelles ship:
Pirates torched a Seychelles vessel off the coast of Somalia after releasing its seven crew members for a ransom, two members of the pirate group said on Wednesday.

The Indian Ocean Explorer, a maritime research ship from the Seychelles islands, was captured by Somali pirates between March 28 and 31 in the Indian Ocean.

The seven crew members were released without the ship and they returned home on Tuesday.

"We set fire to it three nights ago," said Abdullahi Qaaray, a member of the pirate group who acted as an interpreter during the ransom negotiations.

"We had asked the owners for a million dollars but in the end he paid us only $450 000," he told AFP by phone from a village near Haradhere.

"We said we would burn the ship because he was refusing to pay all the ransom. And the owner told us that we could sink it or burn it... We used some fuel and set it on fire, the ship is sunk now, you cannot even see it anymore."

Qaaray insisted that destroying the ship was not a condition set by the owner for the payment of the ransom but only a decision made by the pirates to ensure the valuable marine exploration vessel could not be recovered.

Liberalnomics: O's Dumbination

When you buy electricity from your local power company, the amount you pay is not just for raw electric power. You pay your share of the overhead operational cost of the power provider, including: the salaries of workers, their benefits, the offices, legal fees, the vehicles, the computers, the software, the pens and pencils and screwdrivers. Oh, yes, for the cost of that power plant and the fuel it uses and so forth. Among the many things you pay for are all the taxes paid by your energy provider - federal, state and local. Oh, and lobbyists to state and federal governments. In addition, in many states, power companies are local monopolies so the state has a commission to set a reasonable profit for the power company.

How is your share of the overhead and profit charged to you? Simple. The power company more or less estimates the amount of energy units it will provide to its customers and takes all those expenses it has and divides the expenses by the units and comes out with a cost per unit. When you use a unit of electricity, the power company bills you for cost per unit. They use their profit to pay back investor you provided money to build those power plants, or as a cushion against increases in fuel fees.

But, make no mistake, in using your air conditioner or stove, the power company is providing its product for a fee that covers its expenses plus a little.

In theory, every other company you deal with is doing the same thing. Whatever price they place on goods or services includes all the company expenses and a little profit. Of course, if you are buying electricity, you usually deal directly with the power supplier, with "no middleman mark ups!" When you buy a radish in a grocery store, each and every entity in the logistics train that got that radish on the shelf (grower, shipper, supplier, grocery store) adds in the cost of his overhead (and a little profit) along the way. And every single one of those entities is including taxes it will pay to federal, state and local governments as part of the price it charges for that radish, including income, social security, unemployment, etc plus property taxes on the radish fields, taxes on trucks, and all those other taxes "built into" the system.

How does the system deal with a tax increase? It adds it into the price charged for the radish, that's how.

Now, suppose you add a "new tax" on electric companies that use coal burning power plants to generate electricity. The electric supplier will add that "new tax" into its business model and pass along the costs to its customers. Who, in the case of a radish, will include the grower, the shipper, the supplier, the grocery store and, yes, the customer of the grocery store - you. And, in addition to paying a chunk of that tax on every single item you buy, whether radish or computer, you will also pay a chunk of the "new tax" as part of your monthly electric bill.

Do you understand? Ultimately 100% of the cost of a tax increase on the utilities will be paid by you, the consumer because the businesses just pass that cost on to you.

Now, with that context, here's Power Line - He Thinks You're Stupid:
In his press conference today, President Obama talked about the cap-and-trade energy tax that the Democrats are trying to ram through Congress. Obama's nose grew a couple of inches as he uttered this howler:

At a time of great fiscal challenges, this legislation is paid for by the polluters who currently emit the dangerous carbon emissions that contaminate the water we drink and pollute the air we breathe.

The idea that the energy tax will come to rest with "polluters"--that is to say, power companies, manufacturers, agribusinesses, and so on--is absurd. The cost will be passed on to consumers, as Obama himself admitted during a moment of candor during the campaign, when he said that electricity costs would "skyrocket" under his cap-and-trade proposal.

Obama isn't dumb enough to believe that the many billions of dollars in costs that his proposal will impose on energy companies, etc., will somehow disappear thereafter. But he thinks you are.
If he had been honest, he would have said:
At a time of great fiscal challenges, this legislation is going to be paid for by you, the American people, as a new tax.
Enjoy your radishes, you evil "polluter."

UPDATE: To be fair, let me point out that, assuming that our water is contaminated, our air polluted, and so on, wouldn't this be the time to have an honest debate about how much the American people are willing to pay for what level of de-contamination, de-pollution, etc? As it is we seem to be willing to be driven to more and more extreme and expensive measures arising from the ever increasing ability of scientists to detect levels of "contamination" in parts per billion or less. How much is "good enough?"

TANSTAAFL. How much are you will to give up for a total absence of pollution?

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Coast Guard Auxiliary celebrates 70th anniversary

The Coast Guard Auxiliary celebrates 70th anniversary:
"The Coast Guard Auxiliary is the finest all-volunteer organization in our nation," said Adm. Thad Allen, Commandant of the Coast Guard. "It is an integral part of our Coast Guard. We simply could not meet the challenges we face or conduct the missions we do on a day-to-day basis without their selfless devotion to duty."

For the past decade, Coast Guard Auxiliary efforts have accounted for more than 3,100 lives saved, assistance to more than 91,000 boaters in distress, the prevention of the loss of more than $437 million in property and the education of more than 1.6 million boaters through boating safety courses, in addition to the many other services the Auxiliary provides. Coast Guard Auxiliarists accomplished these feats by volunteering more than 36 million hours of their time.

The Coast Guard Auxiliary was founded June 23, 1939, when Congress authorized legislation that established a volunteer civilian component of the Coast Guard to promote boating safety and to facilitate operations of the Coast Guard. Auxiliary members initially conducted safety and security patrols and helped enforce provisions of the 1940 Federal Boating and Espionage Acts. In 1996, the Auxiliary’s role was expanded to allow members to assist in any Coast Guard mission, with the exceptions of law enforcement and military operations.
An earlier salute to the CG Aux Sunday Ship History: The Coast Guard Auxiliary :
In any given year, Auxiliary members work an untold number of hours, as they largely administer their own organization. In 1998, their assistance to the public resulted in 445 lives being saved, 12,760 persons being assisted, and a total value of $36.4 million dollars in volunteer services being provided on specific missions.
You can join, too, by visiting here:
Applicants must be U.S. citizens, at least 17 years old, and pass a basic background check. There are no upper age limits or height/weight standards, although for operational activities, you must be physically able to perform certain tasks. There are no minimum service hours – you can serve as little or as much as you want.

You do not have to own a boat or participate in water-based operations to join the Auxiliary.
Here's one lesson in how to help in times of need (in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina):
Auxiliarist Mike Howell’s 53-foot facility, Mañana, docked at CG Station New Orleans. Mañana served as a temporary command center after the station had been damaged during Hurricane Katrina. From his vessel, Howell, a Vietnam combat veteran, was able to provide power, communications, potable water, and rest facilities for the station and crews. August-September 2005. Coast Guard Auxiliary Press Corps.
Your neighbors, your friends.

Thank them for their service.

Somali Pirates: Ship releases and one dead captive

Somali pirates have been releasing ships and crew lately, but the most recent release is the most disturbing because one of the crew of a Dutch ship just released was "found" shot to death. As set out in
Somali pirates free Dutch ship, one dead:
Somali pirates have released a Dutch ship they had hijacked last month in the Gulf of Aden and one crew member was found dead aboard the boat, the Dutch defence ministry told AFP.

"The pirates let the ship, in which a crew member was found dead, leave," ministry spokesman Marcel Pullen said. "He was shot dead."

The victim had died the day of the MV Marathon's capture on May 7, he added.

Another crew member suffered a bullet wound, Pullen said.

The MV Marathon was being escorted to a "safe port" by the Dutch frigate De Zeven Provincien, the spokesman said, refusing to reveal the location.
There have been several recent Somali pirate apologists, asserting that the pirates have been driven to piracy by first and second world exploitation of Somali waters.

I have no doubt that these same useful idiots will attempt to explain away this death and the deaths and torture of captured crews in some way. Let me state clearly that the planned or reckless killing of unarmed merchant sailors is murder. Randomly spraying ships on the high seas with automatic weapons fire and rocket propelled grenades is not "coast guarding" or whatever "make nice" words others might attempt to apply to it. It is cold blooded indifference to the lives of other humans. Murder.

Other releases of ships and crews:
Crew of Seychelle yacht Indian Ocean Explorer released as set out here:
Pirates in Somalia said on Monday they had freed the seven crew members from Seychelles yacht Indian Ocean Explorer.

Pirates seized the oceanographic research cruiser at the end of March near the Seychelles' island of Assumption, the second vessel flying the Indian Ocean nation's flag to be hijacked.

"We have released the Seychelles crew, they flew this morning," pirate Hassan told Reuters by phone from Haradheere.
The crew of the recent released Nigerian tug boat report they were caught "between life and death":
Graham Egbegi, captain of the ship, MV Yenagoa Ocean, hijacked on August 5, 2008 by Somali pirates, yesterday said he and nine others aboard the ship lived daily for 10 months between life and death in the camp of the pirates.
Egbedi, David Akpoguma, Namo Musa, Usman Ochoche Agida, Lucky Edoja, John Nkanu, Effiong Joseph, Emma Okon Timothy, Okuns Kalikio and Bassey Etim were hijacked while sailing back home to Nigeria via the Indian Ocean route with their newly purchased vessel. Their hijackers, Somali pirates gave them an option of $1 million ransom fee or face summary execution.
The crew, who arrived the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport, Abuja at about 12.30 p.m. aboard Ethiopian Airline to the embrace of the Minister of Defence, Shettima Mustafa, some security personnel and officials of Ministry of Defence, said they had what he called a traumatic experience in Somalia. They were set free by the pirates on June 5 after a $43,000 ransom was paid to their captors.
“It was traumatic to wake up daily to face bazookas, rocket launchers and other high caliber weapons pointing at you,” adding “each morning we felt it would be our last,” he said.
$43,000 dollars?

Somalia: Pirate Winds and Waves

All wind and wave maps from Weatheronline.co.uk. Click on them to enlarge.

Winds and waves picking up for most of the waters off Somalia, making small boat operations difficult. However, there are areas of the Gulf of Aden, undoubtedly well known to local fishermen, offering lower wave action, especially in the lee of islands or near the Bab-el-Mandeb entrance/exit from the Red Sea.

The number of pirate attacks is down as the monsoon winds have finally arrived, but mariners should still keep an eye out for pirates. The Somali pirates have proven very adept in changing their modus operandi and may have some new tricks for us.
Wind scale:

Somali Pirates: Details on NATO Ship Defense

As Somali pirates try to attack ships in the Gulf of Aden, Portuguese and Turkish frigates work together to defend shipping :
(NU) Corte Real foils pirate attack. A Portuguese frigate foiled a pirate attack on a container vessel in the Gulf of Aden on Monday (22 June) and captured eight pirates after firing shots at their boat, the armed forces command said. The eight were freed after consultation with the Portuguese government, in line with the procedure for warships serving under NATO command, but their weapons were confiscated, a military statement said. The CORTE REAL, operating with NATO forces in the region, was escorting a Pakistani merchant ship, the Bolan, when it received a distress call from the Singapore-flagged MAERSK PHOENIX, the Portuguese news agency Lusa reported. A Lusa correspondent on the CORTE REAL said the frigate sped to rescue the container ship, which was some four nautical miles away and opened fire at a pirate boat. Several shots were fired across the boat's bows before the pirates surrendered, the report added. A boarding party of Portuguese marines confiscated four assault rifles, a grenade-launcher, grenades and explosives. A Turkish warship, the GAZIANTEP, also went to the scene and took over the escort of the BOLAN and MAERSK PHOENIX, Lusa said. (News24, 22 Jun 09)

Monday, June 22, 2009

Fred Fry's Maritime Monday 167

Fred Fry's Maritime Monday 167 covering the waterfront and all the ships at sea.

This week: photos from a Dutch and Belgium Towing Company.

Ship P0rn.

And more!

Somali Pirates: New Attacks in the Gulf of Aden

Forward by friend of the blog Bryan:
22.06.2009: 0550 UTC: 13:36.82N-050:22.65E: GULF OF ADEN.





Full NATO Shipping Center report here.

UPDATE: Map is my rough guess.

Monday Reading

Galhran sees some escalation towards North Korea as being possible.

Joshua Stanton at One Free Korea notes Not that we should care, but it’s still “illegal” to search North Korean ships on the high seas. I'm still confused about whether we are at war with North Korea since it unilaterally renounced the Armistice. In which case, Mr. Stanton may be wrong. I think the law of war allows you do board enemy ships. I'm sure, however, that I have the international political situation wrong. Just because someone says they are at war with us apparently doesn't mean we are at war with them. Or something. I look for enlightenment.

Blogger Mike Burleson at New Wars asks some questions about big deck carriers for the Royal Navy and gets some interesting comments, too here.

Worth Watching: As gCaptain noted here, last night was Somali Pirate Takedown - The Real Story on the Discovery Channel, soon to be moving over the Military Channel. It's a dramatization of the Maersk Alabama Somali pirate misadventure. The crew of the Alabama comes off well as desperate men caught in a bad situation and doing their best to fight back. Since one of the sponsors was the U.S. Navy, the Navy role is helping to conclude the at sea portion of the matter was highlighted, with some new footage of the frigate Halyburton shouldering the life boat containing the Alabama's captain and the pirates away from the Somali coast and a Navy helicopter doing the same thing using its rotor wash. For some the highlight will be the SEAL team. It'll be re-shown Tuesday at 9pm EDT (2100) and Wednesday at 12am (midnight) on the Military Channel.

CDR Salamander urges you to read about a Marine General who doesn't want the U.S. military to become too reliant on high tech gizmos to solve problems of war here. There are a lot of low tech fighters out there right now giving us fits.

Jane has some doubts about al Qaeda claims that it doesn't support a North- South bifurcation of Yemen here. Big doubts.

Solving Mexico's Drug Gang Problem

Scary piece about Mexico's descent into an unsafe, wobbly near narco state from CBS News - Mexico: The War Next Door.

You want to cut the legs out from drug gangs in Mexico or Afghanistan? The simplest (and probably simplistic) solution: Take the high profits out.

Legalize the stuff and put a smallish import and sales tax on it to fund rehab centers and funerals.

Drug thuggery is driven by drug demand and the biggest demander nation is the U.S.*

Of course, then the drug thugs will have to find other work.

*One article from The American Journal of Economics and Sociology asserts that legalizing drugs will do everything but cure the common cold:
The legalization of drugs would prevent our civil liberties from being threatened any further, it would reduce crime rates, reverse the potency effect, improve the quality of life in the inner cities, prevent the spread of disease, save the taxpayer money, and generally benefit both individuals and the community as a whole. Our arguments are based on a basic appreciation of the benefits provided by voluntary exchange and the role markets play in coordinating human activities. Legalizing drugs would eliminate many inconsistencies, guarantee freedoms, and increase the effectiveness of the government's anti-drug beliefs. The present war on drugs has not and will not produce a decisive victory. We advocate a new approach to this important social problem.

Drug dealers are a thing of the past. Violent crimes and theft are greatly reduced. Drug-related shoot-outs are unheard of. The streets of America begin to "clean up." Communities pull themselves together. Youths and adults once involved in crime rings are forced to seek legitimate work. Deaths due to infected intravenous needles and poisonous street drugs are eliminated. Taxpayers are no longer forced to pay $10,000,000,000 to fund drug-related law enforcement. The $80,000,000,000 claimed by organized crime and drug rings will now go to honest workers . . .
Suggesting legalization has made for some odd bedfellows: Tom Tancredo and Nicholas Kristof.

Any war you've been fighting as long as we've been fighting the drug war ought to get a very close look.

An Insurance Company Report on Pirates

Allianz Global Corporate & Specialty on sea piracy:
  1. Currently many vessels are insured for piracy as part of their standard ‘hull and machinery’ insurance policies, which are not specifically designed to address security-related risks such as piracy. This means that some ship-owners are paying for piracy coverage when they do not need it because they are not sailing through piracy zones. So-called ‘war’ insurance provides special cover for ships exposed to piracy risks on a ‘per transit’ basis, meaning that it can be specifically underwritten to handle various exposures besides damage to the vessel and therefore can be priced more flexibly.

    “There are a lot of shipping companies out there that are paying for piracy cover that do not need it as part of their hull and machinery policies,” explains Dr. Sven Gerhard, Global Hull and Liabilities Product Leader at AGCS. “Conversely, there are a lot of vessels that are exposed to high levels of piracy risk because of the routes they travel that – under current underwriting – cannot arrange more flexible, individually suited piracy coverage because it could be part of their general hull and machinery policies.”

  2. § Most of the attention today is on the rise of piracy off the coast of Somalia and around the Gulf of Aden. 102 pirate attacks were reported here in the first quarter of 2009, compared to 53 in 2008. Somalia and the Gulf of Aden accounted for 61 of the total – up from 6 in 2008. Somalia is suffering from nearly 20 years of violent civil war, and its people live on an average of less than $2 a day. The causes of piracy there are so complex that the current problem is likely to continue for some time, and it is critical that ships passing through the region are well prepared and properly insured.
  3. § The region is ideal for piracy because the Gulf of Aden is the gateway to the Suez Canal, and some 20,000 tankers, freighters and merchant ships pass through it every year. Pirates are now ranging farther and farther out to sea, attacking ships off the coast of neighboring countries such as Yemen, and their impact on global shipping is growing.
  4. § The waters off Nigeria have also shown an increase in recent years, especially in the region off Lagos and the Bonny River, with 40 reported attacks in 2008 (Source: ICC – International Maritime Bureau). It is one of a few regions which are in danger of becoming a larger piracy hotspot.
  5. § Piracy has generally shown a declining trend in other areas such as Southeast Asia, often due to a concentrated international response.
  6. § The identification of pirates is often difficult, due to their use of small motor skiffs, which are hard to see on radar and can be mistaken for fishing craft. Therefore, reported data on piracy may be less than in reality.
  7. § What works to reduce piracy in one region may not work in others. An international patrol effort has done a great deal to reduce attacks in the Malacca Straits. In the Indian Ocean off Somalia, however, the area of water is simply too vast to police, so military patrols only help a little and may even escalate violence. Therefore, a solution to the current wave of piracy will need a more integrated military, political and economic effort.
  8. § The paper calls for a larger international effort to tackle the root causes of the current wave of piracy off the coast of Somalia and around the Gulf of Aden: poverty and violence on the mainland.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Sunday Ship History: Books

Some, perhaps belated, Father's Day book recommendations related to nautical matters:

Samuel Eliot Morison,The Two-Ocean War: A shortened version of his longer 15 volume History of United States Naval Operations in World War II and WWII naval history for people who don't much like history. Morison did not mince words about most events and he clearly did not have much use for a few admirals. Most of the time he was there in person.

U. S. Grant, The Autobiography of General Ulysses S Grant: Memoirs of the Civil War by Ulysses S Grant: Mark Twain played a
hand in publishing what may be one of the great tales of all time - Grant was broke, working for poverty wages, when he was called to lead some other volunteers in the early days of the Civil War - and, well, the rest of the story is well known. Naval connection? Grant used amphibious operations in his war to control the rivers that were the great highways of the time. He also used Union gunboats as floating artillery in support of shore operations . . .

Barbara W. Tuchman, The Zimmermann Telegram: Among other things, a great introduction to international political scheming. If you thought the code breakers of WWII saved the U.S. bacon at Midway, you need to read about how Royal Navy code breakers uncovered a WWI plot by Germany, which was planning to return to unrestricted submarine warfare, to forge an alliance with Mexico in which Mexico might get Texas, New Mexico and Arizona back and to arrange for Japan to join forces against the U.S. so the U.S. would be distracted and unable to support the Allies.

Barbara W. Tuchman, The Guns of August: WWI, again, when the German battle cruiser Goeben, the subject of a chapter in the book, changed history. The author noted: "No other single exploit of the war cast so long a shadow upon the world as the voyage accomplished by their commander during the next seven days."

Rick Atkinson, An Army at Dawn: About the American introduction of troops into North Africa and lays out the steep learning curve required by the Army-Navy team in working on amphibious operations. I think it is safe to say that without those lessons, the eventual landings in Normandy would not have gone as smoothly as they did - and we all know that part of the Normandy landings at Omaha Beach weren't all that smooth. Out of the fire of North Africa came a core of battle-hardened troops and generals like Patton and Bradley; admirals like Kent Hewitt. Eisenhower learned how to command a coalition in which none of the "allies" seem to have liked each other.

Francis Parkman, Montcalm and Wolfe: Recounts the English victory on the banks of the Saint Lawrence River that decided the future of North America as an
English territory (until the American revolution, 17 years later). Lakes, rivers and access to the sea meant everything and a daring amphibious landing decided the fate of Quebec City and of Canada. George Washington got much of his military training during the French and Indian War (Seven Years War). Parkman has fallen out of favor with many historians but some also consider him the first great American historian.

Happy Father's Day!