Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Ship History: Mine Strike! - USS Warrington (DD-843)

After Korea, before the mines of the Arabian Gulf hit Samuel B. Roberts, Princeton and Tripoli, one ship* of the United States Navy took a couple a mine hits and, through heroic effort her crew, was brought into port afloat and with no loss of life. Perhaps because the incident was deemed one of "friendly fire" (the ship was either in the wrong place or the mines were not where they were supposed to be), less is heard of the saving of USS Warrington (DD-843) in July, 1972.

Warrington was an East Coast destroyer, a FRAM Gearing-Class, completed shortly before the end of WWII. Brought through the Panama Canal to help with Naval Gunfire Support off Vietnam, following the Easter Invasion by the North Vietnamese down the South Vietnamese coast. On July 17, 1972, Warrington had been on the gun line in the morning.

As part of Operation Pocket Money, much of the navigable water of inshore North Vietnam had been mined by aerial mining:
By the end of the year Navy and Marine Corps bombers had dropped more than eight thousand mines in North Vietnamese coastal waters and three thousand in inland waterways
As you might imagine, some mines may not have ended up exactly where intended.

Warrington may have stumbled upon a couple of such outlier mines:
USS Warrington was irreparably damaged when it detonated what was believed to be
After the mine hit
mislaid mines 20 miles (32 km) north of Đồng Hới on 17 July 1973. (ND E1: Wrong date by a year Wikipedia!)
There were a small number of injuries to the crew, resulting in the award of 5 Purple Hearts.

Flooding, bent equipment, loss of power. Damage control parties. Restoration of enough steam power to get the ship moving offshore. Well-trained crew saves the ship - just enough.

Assistance from other ships, fleet tug arrives, tows the ship to Subic Bay. In Subic, at the ammo piers, she is brought alongside USS Pyro (AE-24) where the Pyro crew feed them warm food and help off-load Warrington's munitions.

Warrington then heads to the drydock and the decision is made that she is not worth repairing. She is sold to Taiwan and her parts cannibalized.

Sure, no one died - but the crew of Warrington deserves a great deal of credit. And, after all these years, a little praise for a job well done.

Photos from the various sites linked herein. They are worth a visit.

*There is an indication here that USS King (DLG-10) also had a mine strike during the Vietnam War, but a time line of the King's operations makes no reference to a "mine strike" although it is reported here that she had a boiler casualty in 1969, well before the mining operation. Neither is there a report, of USS John King (DDG-3) ever hitting a mine during the 1972-3 time frame. Dr. Truver has far more expertise in such matters than I do, but I know for a certainty about Warrington.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Gulf of Guinea Pirates: Regional Center Promised to Fight GOG Pirates

Shades of the Southeast Asia Regional Counter-Piracy Center (ReCAAP), news
headlined :
GOG Area Reported Pirate Attacks (IMB)
"African states join forces to tackle piracy"
West and central African nations have agreed to create a regional centre for co-ordinating the fight against a sharp rise in piracy in the Gulf of Guinea that is jeopardising the shipping of commodities in the region.

The Gulf of Guinea, which includes Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast, is a major source of oil and cocoa and increasingly metals for world markets.

Pirate attacks in the region, mainly carried out by armed Nigerian gangs, have almost doubled from last year, jacking up insurance costs.

The main purpose of the new centre, to be based in Cameroon, will be intelligence gathering and research, according to an agreement signed at a summit of regional leaders in the Cameroonian capital Yaounde.
The regional ops center has worked well in the Strait of Malacca area.

Let's see how it goes in the GOG.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

I feel like I've heard something like this before - "In Brazil, Road Bandits Force Switch to Sea Shipping"

Seems like that time when Somalia's roads became too dangerous for aid trucks and the aid was diverted to the sea shipping (and you know what happened after that . . .), except now it's in South America where BusinessWeek reports "In Brazil, Road Bandits Force Switch to Sea Shipping":
Companies . . . are braving port bottlenecks and longer shipping times to avoid Brazil’s highway network, where gangs armed with machine guns and rifles regularly steal goods, from copper to food, either by bribing drivers, using force, or even kidnapping family members of trucking staff. Almost 1 billion reais ($468 million) of cargo was stolen last year . . .
Does it feel as if civilization is slipping backwards?

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Fishing Boat Slavery

MarineLink on the under-reported story of "shanghaied" fishing boat crews and a threat by the U.S. to do something:
Forced labor abuses play out on Thai-owned fishing trawlers each day. And the victims — typically destitute men from Myanmar or Cambodia lured by coyotes full of false promises — continue to wash ashore with accounts of torture and casual homicide, reports Global Post.
Though carried out on lawless seas, these crimes risk entangling supermarkets in America, where one in six pounds of seafood is imported from Thailand.
If you think slavery is a thing of the past, you have your head in the sand. You might note that until about 100 years ago (well after slavery was outlawed), the U.S. had similar practices for some of its merchant ships.

This sort of abuse goes right along with human trafficking scum who prey upon refugees and the sort of pirates who would attack refugees at sea - as was the case with the Vietnamese "boat people" back in the 1970s.

U.S. Department of State site on "Trafficking in Persons 2013 Report":
The TVPA* defines “severe forms of trafficking in persons” as:
the recruitment, harboring, transportation, provision, or obtaining of a person for labor or services, through the use of force, fraud, or coercion for the purpose of subjection to involuntary servitude, peonage, debt bondage, or slavery.
This Report documents male forced labor victims who have been identified in a variety of countries and sectors: Central Asian men exploited in forced labor in Russia; West African boys forced to beg for corrupt religious teachers in Koranic schools; boys in forced labor in illegal drug production and transportation in the United Kingdom and Mexico. In South Asia, entire families are enslaved in debt bondage in agriculture, brick kilns, rice mills, and stone quarries. In South America and Africa, male victims of trafficking are exploited in agriculture, constructiohttp://www.state.gov/j/tip/rls/tiprpt/2013/210551.htmn, mining and logging, among other industries. The forced labor of men and boys from Burma, and Cambodia on Asian fishing vessels has been the topic of increased press coverage over the last year.
More here:
A report released by an international organization in January 2011 noted prevalent forced labor conditions, including debt bondage, among Cambodian and Burmese individuals recruited—some forcefully or through fraud—for work in the Thai fishing industry. According to the report, Burmese, Cambodian, and Thai men were trafficked onto Thai fishing boats that traveled throughout Southeast Asia and beyond, where they remained at sea for up to several years, not paid, forced to work 18 to 20 hours per day for seven days a week, and threatened and physically beaten. Similarly, an earlier UN survey found that 29 of 49 (58 percent) surveyed migrant fishermen trafficked aboard Thai fishing boats had reported witnessing a fellow fishermen killed by boat captains in instances when they were too weak or sick to work. As fishing is an unregulated industry region-wide, fishermen typically did not have written employment contracts with their employers. Men from Thailand, Burma, and Cambodia were forced to work on Thai-flagged fishing boats in Thai and international waters and were rescued from countries including Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, and Timor-Leste. During the year, more than 150 Cambodian and Burmese victims were rescued from Thai fishing vessels in countries around the world, though this represented only a fraction of the total number of Southeast Asian men believed to be trafficked onto fishing boats. In early 2013, an organization that assists victims in Cambodia assessed this form of trafficking was rising. Cambodian and Burmese workers are increasingly unwilling to work in the Thai fishing industry due to dangerous work conditions and isolation, which makes them more vulnerable to exploitation; the Government of Thailand announced plans during the year to import Bangladeshi workers to fill the labor shortage this has caused. During the year, there were reports that some Rohingya asylum seekers from Burma were smuggled into Thailand en route to Malaysia and ultimately sold into forced labor, allegedly with the assistance of Thai civilian and military officials.
While I am innately suspicious of reports from many "international organizations," the allegations of this section seem to be supported by more than one source. An older report:
Growing evidence drawn from the testimonies of escaped fishermen affirms that DSFI trafficking victims routinely spend a year or more at sea on fishing vessels that operate in the far reaches of the South China Sea and Indian Ocean, beyond the territorial jurisdiction of Thailand. Boats rarely return to port to offload their catch, leaving little scope for regulatory oversight or inspection by Thai authorities. While working conditions vary from vessel to vessel, research conducted by the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Mirror Foundation, and other organizations suggests that a significant percentage of the men and boys trafficked to Thai ships are subject to round-the-clock working hours, cramped quarters, poor nutrition, low wages, debt bondage, physical abuse and intimidation, and other hardships that amount to virtual enslavement. Some trafficking victims reportedly meet violent deaths if they become too ill to work or demand to be released. For example, a 2009 United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking study reported that half the members of a group of Cambodian DSFI trafficking victims surveyed had personally witnessed the execution of fellow crew members.
And an NPR report, "Confined To A Thai Fishing Boat, For Three Years" with its follow-on here.

Another of many reasons to support local aquaculture for food fish. Or to demand that the seafood company whose products you buy certify that its crews are all at sea (or wherever) voluntarily.

Why the Kidnapped cover? You may recall the hero was taken by force on a ship to be sold into "servitude."

*TVPA= Trafficking and Violence Protection Act

Gulf of Guinea Pirates: African Anti-Piracy Meeting

Reported as "West, Central Africa leaders meet over piracy" by Africa Review:
West and Central African leaders on Monday started a two-day summit in Yaoundé, Cameroon, on maritime security and combating piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.

The heads of state and government will deliberate on new proposals and a joint action plan to tackle piracy and maritime criminality in the region.
At the close of the summit, it is expected that the member countries will be provided with “appropriate means” to combat the phenomenon, sources said.
An estimated 996 pirate attacks have been recorded since 2012 on ocean-going fuel cargo vessels in the region and products transferred to pirate ships, according to the International Maritime Bureau (IMB).

The source said oil products from pirated ships are sold on the lucrative black market. The pirates are not primarily focused on seeking ransoms to release ships.

The IMB statement said that West Africa has overtaken Somalia in the reported number of both ships and seafarers attacked.
Getting together is a start to defeating the pirates.

GOG 2012 Attacks reported to the IMB
A flavor of GOG piracy from the ONI World Wide Threat to Shipping Report of 20 June 13 (images nearby are from the IMB Live Piracy Map site):
1. (U) GUINEA: On 19 June, an anchored general cargo ship was boarded at 09:14 N 013:57 W, approximately 25nm southwest of Conakry. Five pirates, armed with machine guns, boarded a general cargo ship at anchor. They threatened the crew, stole ship's cash, crew personal belongings,then escaped. All crew were reported safe. (IMB)

2. (U) TOGO: On 13 June, the anchored French-flagged chemical tanker ADOUR was hijacked at 05:41 N- 001:18 E, approximately 25 nm south of Lome. An unknown number of pirates boarded and hijacked the ship. 14 of the 15 crew members were released, one crew member was taken hostage, to ensure the pirates safe passage back to Nigeria and to potentially ransom for money. On 17 June, the vessel was released and the captive crew member was rescued unharmed, by local authorities. (TW, LSS, VesselTracker.com)

3. (U) NIGERIA: On 13 June, the Singapore-flagged underway offshore supply vessel MDPL CONTINENTAL ONE was boarded and personnel kidnapped at 04:02 N-008:02 E, approximately 7 nm southwest of the OFON Oil Field. Two fiberglass speed-boats, each with 2 outboards engines, each carrying 14 gunmen in wearing casual t-shirts and no masks, launched an attack. The pirates were armed with AK47’s. After stealing personal items and belongings, four expat crew were kidnapped (Polish (Chief Engineer) and three Indians (Captain, Chief Officer, and Bosun). (TW, OCL, SAA, Fleetmon.com, AP)

4. (U) NIGERIA: On 04 June, the Saint Vincent and Grenadines-flagged underway tug-offshore supply ship BOURBON ARETHUSE was boarded at 04:14 N-007:45 E, at the Usari Field. Pirates boarded the ship while on standby duties. Seeing the pirates, the crew raised the alarm, retreated into the citadel, alerted other vessels, and the shore based office by VHF and waited until the pirates had left. On investigation it was found that ships and crew belongings werestolen. All crew safe. (IMB, IMO, OCL, SAA)

5. (U) NIGERIA: On 04 June, the Vanuatu-flagged underway offshore supply ship C VIKING was attacked in the vicinity of 04:14 N- 007:45 E, at the Usari Field. No further reporting at thistime. (TW, SAA, AP)

6. (U) NIGERIA: On 03 June, the Marshall Islands-flagged underway chemical tanker BLUEGREEN TIGRE was fired upon at 04:42 N–008:1 9 E approximately 2.5 nm north of James Town, in the Calabar River. Ten armed robbers in two speed boats approached and fired upon the chemical tanker underway with pilot on board. Master raised alarm, mustered all crew, and reported the incident to the Nigerian Authorities. The armed robbers aborted the attack and moved away when the Nigerian Marine Police arrived on the scene. All crew are safe, but the ship sustained minor damage due to the firing. (IMB, IMO, OCL)

7. (U) NIGERIA: On 03 June, the Singapore-flagged chemical tanker RHINO was fired upon at 06:16 N–003:20 E, at the Lagos Anchorage. While at anchor, an unknown number of robbers attempted to board the vessel through the hawse pipe, via chain locker, and exchanged gunshots with the Nigerian naval personnel onboard. The general alarm was activated and the crew mustered at the designated muster station. The robbers' boat eventually left after 20 minutes. There was no injury to the crew or items stolen. (IMO , OCL)

8. (U) NIGERIA: On 24 May, the Nigeria-flagged underway chemical tanker MATRIX I was boarded and personnel kidnapped approximately 40 nm off the coast of Bayelsa state. Around seven to eight pirates armed with guns, in a boat, fired at and boarded the tanker underway. They stole ship’s and crew's belongings, kidnapped five crew members and escaped. The kidnapped crew was released safely on 07 June. (OCL, LL, Reuters, AP, IMO, IMB)

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Midrats 6-23 -13 5pm Eastern U.S. -Episode 181: Summer Solstice Melee

Episode 181: Summer Solstice Melee 06/23 by Midrats | Blog Talk Radio:
Here is your chance; its the end of 2QCY13 and you haven't heard the topic you wanted on Midrats yet?

There is a question you would like to hear the hosts grapple with about maritime and national security issues?

Or, are you just interested in discussing the latest developments in unmanned systems, pacific pivot, budget battles, Russian relations, China intentions, and more?

On, above, and under the sea - we'll cover it today for a full hour free for all. The phone lines will be open and we'll also take questions directly from the chat room.

Come join us.
Join us live at 5 pm or download the show later by clicking here

Image: Russian made “Bastion” mobile shore-based missile complex (MSMC) with “Yakhont” unified supersonic homing anti-ship missile (ASM) from here. Components of this system have reportedly been provided to Syria, along with other weapons.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Friday Fun: Old School Films

How do you learn to do things for yourself? One of those films they used to show us back in the old days (yes, with - gasp- a projector) when a teacher took ill and there was no ready substitute.

You can read Emerson's Self-Reliance here.

And, of course, some guy writing a counter-essay for the NY Times critical of Emerson at The Foul Reign of Emerson’s ‘Self-Reliance’. Some fun stuff in the comments section.

*Yes, I fixed the typo in the post header.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Old news - Navy to add more "Coastal Patrol" ships to Arabian Gulf - Where are those Littoral Combat Ships? The World Wonders

Some older (May 10, 2013) news from the U.S. Navy:
Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) will forward deploy five
USS Tempest - U.S. Navy photo by PH2 Danny Ewing Jr.
patrol coastal (PC) ships to U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), Manama, Bahrain, May 14.

USS Tempest (PC 2), USS Squall (PC 7) and USS Thunderbolt (PC 12) are scheduled to arrive this summer. Two additional ships are expected to transfer next year. Commander, Patrol Coastal Squadron ONE (PCRON 1) along with a PC maintenance support team will also permanently move.

Five PCs have provided dedicated coastal patrol capability to the Commander, U.S. Fifth Fleet (C5F) area of operation (AOR) since 2006. The PCs currently stationed in Bahrain are manned with unaccompanied, rotational crews. The forward deployment resulted in the decision to shift from 6-month rotational crews to permanent crews stationed in Bahrain allowing families to accompany their Sailors to Bahrain. The shift alleviates the significant strain placed on the crews and their families while ensuring capacity and capability.

A total of ten PCs will be permanently stationed in Bahrain by the spring of 2014. Three PCs will remain stationed in the continental U.S.

PCs provide the U.S. Navy with a fast, reliable platform that can respond to emergent requirements in a shallow water environment. The primary mission of these ships is coastal patrol and interdiction surveillance, an important aspect of littoral operations outlined in the Navy's maritime strategy.
These small ships are about 20 years old and have never been favorites of the "Big Navy" which even foisted some of them off on the Coasties until their worth seemed to gain some appreciation.

Brought back from the brink of retirement, Danger Room notes that these little ships get a "fix up" for deployment:
Under a crash program valued at $4 million, the Cyclones — five of which are permanently stationed in Bahrain — are getting a new laser targeting system for their twin 25-millimeter cannons. The Mk-38 laser kit gives the “high-precision accuracy against surface and air targets such as small boats and unmanned aerial system,” according to contractor BAE Systems.

Well, why belatedly note this move? It struck me as a nice counter-piece to this bit of fluff about one of the expensive "Littoral Combat Ships" out gathering experience in Southeast Asia USS Freedom Brings Littoral Combat Ship Capabilities To CARAT Malaysia :
The littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) accomplished several firsts
USS Freedom - U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Jay C. Pugh
to participate in exercise Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) with the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), June 15.

Freedom was the first U.S. Navy ship assigned to Commander Task Group (CTG) 73.1 to pull straight into Kuantan's shallow pier.

"Being pierside at Kuantan Naval Base gave us the chance to make an instant impression, and show regional navies what this ship can do and how we can contribute to mutual interests at sea," said Cmdr. Timothy Wilke, commanding officer.
Fast, agile and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surfaces warfare, mine countermeasures or anti-submarine warfare. Freedom deployed to Southeast Asia with the surface warfare mission package.

During the at sea phase, additional events that will highlight Freedom's capabilities include an inbound fast attack craft drill; a search and rescue exercise with Freedom's MH-60R helicopter; and a visit, board, search and seizure drill with Freedom's embarked surface warfare mission package boarding team.
You might note that the LCS can land helicopters whereas the Cyclone-class PCs cannot. One would think that might be nice-to-have feature out there in the Arabian Gulf - but perhaps it is felt that there is enough air support in the vicinity that the PCs don't need to bring their own.

While I am aware that the LCS mission is part of a learning curve, it seems to me that if the Navy wants to practice the LCS's intended missions, playing with the small boys in a more realistic environment ought to send an LCS to share the fun in the Arabian Gulf - perhaps simply providing helicopters coverage for the PC crowd if nothing else. Then the CO of the LCS will have a chance to make a "instant impression" in some way other than mooring to a pier.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The "Evolving" Littoral Combat Ship Saga

A very special, stealthy LCS
Torn from the pages of the Aviation Week NavWeek blog "Return Of LCS Past" with this delightful

look at a GAO report on the "evolving" LCS saga - and what seems to amount to "reverse capability creep":
Particularly galling to some in Congress is the report’s Table 5 – “Evolution of Navy Statements About Littoral Combat Ship Capability,” which chronicles the changing narrative of the ship’s concepts and capabilities.

What the table shows, Congressional sources say, is how the Navy has changed its tune throughout the program – so much so, that it may be difficult to trust what service officials have to say now, especially in light of some of the unknowns highlighted in the other tables detailing potential factors that could affect LCS costs and operations.

Here’s the gist of the GAO report Table 5:

My version of the LCS with the amazing "jaws of death." Very scary.
Part of the much cheaper Iranian LCB force*
Concept: LCS’s capability against adversaries

Early (2004-2008): Primarily developed for use in major combat operations. Will gain initial entry and provide assured access—or ability to enter contested spaces—and be employable and sustainable throughout the battlespace regardless of anti-access or area-denial environments.

Current (2011-2012): Current LCS weapon systems are under-performing and offer little chance of survival in a combat scenario. Not to be employed outside a benign, low-threat environment unless escorted by a multi-mission combatant providing credible anti-air, anti-surface, and anti-submarine protection.

Concept: How LCS will deploy

Early (2004-2008): Will be a self-sufficient combatant.

Current (2011-2012): Lacks the ability to operate independently in combat. Will have to be well protected by multi-mission combatants. Multiple LCSs will likely have to operate in a coordinated strike attack group fashion for mutual support.

Concept: How mission packages swaps will be utilized

Early (2004-2008): Mission packages will be quickly swapped out in an expeditionary theater in a matter of days.

Current (2011-2012): Though a mission package can be swapped within 72 hours if all the equipment and personnel are in theater, swapping out mission packages overseas presents manning and potentially expensive logistical challenges. An LCS executing a package swap could be unavailable for between 12-29 days, and it may take 30-60 days or more for equipment and personnel to arrive in theater.
Somebody has some 'splaining to do.

*LCB? Littoral Combat Boat, of course.

Monday, June 17, 2013

China: All Your (East and Southeast Asia) Seas Belong to the PRC

Defense News Reports "General Says Chinese Patrols In Asian Seas 'Legitimate' ":
“Why are Chinese warships patrolling in East China Sea and South China Sea? I think we are all clear about this,” Qi told the annual Shangri-La Dialogue security conference in Singapore.

“Our attitude on East China Sea and South China Sea is that they are in our Chinese sovereignty. We are very clear about that,” he said through an interpreter.

“So the Chinese warships and the patrolling activities are totally legitimate and uncontroversial.”
I guess they are "uncontroversial" to him and to his friends - in the PRC.

I can only believe the Philippines, Japan and a few other concerned residents of the area feel differently.

Hat tip: USNI News Room.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Things I have been waiting for: "Obama sex assault comments 'unlawful command influence'"

A recognition that the Commander in Chief is stacking the deck against fair trials. From Stars and Stripes: Judge: Obama sex assault comments 'unlawful command influence':
Two defendants in military sexual assault cases cannot be punitively discharged, if found guilty, because of “unlawful command influence” derived from comments made by President Barack Obama, a judge ruled in a Hawaii military court this week.

Navy Judge Cmdr. Marcus Fulton ruled during pretrial hearings in two sexual assault cases — U.S. vs. Johnson and U.S. vs. Fuentes — that comments made by Obama as commander in chief would unduly influence any potential sentencing, according to a court documents obtained by Stars and Stripes.
President Obama needs to learn to show some speech discipline.

BZ to Commander Fulton for having the guts to issue such a ruling.

Undue command influence is pernicious and this president has shown a repeated failure to restrain himself from commenting on things best left to the judiciary. However, he seems to have a never-ending need to pander to various interest groups.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Littoral Combat Space Holder - I Mean "Combat Ship" Goes to War . . . for continued funding

CDR Salamander does the Full Monty of exposing the "The LCS Full Court Press".

Think continued funding and all will be as clear as The Emperor's New Clothes.

Well, as for me, I enjoy a fast ship as much as the next old SWO, but I think we ought to have some truth in advertising.

The single most valuable and powerful weapon system currently available to the LCS is . . . the MH-60 helicopter.

It seems to me then, the most powerful LCS is not the high speed little launch platform in the foreground of the picture below, but that big, slow thing next to it, which could hold a whole lot more MH-60's (with different mission packages) and other things like Marine Sea Cobras (which reminds me - why doesn't the Navy have it own Sea Cobras?).

I mean, if you want high speed and the ability to operate in the shallow waters of the world, those helicopter things work pretty well. And they don't cost $300 million each.

And if you want to go fast and look scary in shallow water, there is a school of thought that says you ought to explore this old technology:

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Teaching Disaster Realities

A statistic from 5 Ways to Educate People About the Realities of Disaster Recovery caught my
A 2010 American Red Cross survey found that an alarming 75 percent of 1,058 respondents expected help to arrive within an hour if they posted a request on a social media site.
I have occasionally volunteered to give presentations on disaster preparation. One part of the standard spiel talks about how many days a family should be prepared to wait for help. The standard speech refers to "3 days" not 1 hour. However, as the article linked above notes, the practicality of major disaster relief logistics is that 5 to 7 days is a far more realistic time period (depending on the scope of the disaster, of course).

I use the 5 to 7 day period and back it up with tales of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy.

Oh, and failing to evacuate elderly citizens from highrise retirement communities when a storm is expected is a form of malpractice. See here.

Plan accordingly.

Hurricane season is upon us.

Midrats Sunday 6 June 13 -5pm (Eastern U.S.) -Episode 179: "CIMCEC and the Marketplace of Ideas"

Join us Sunday at 5pm for Midrats "Episode 179: CIMCEC and the Marketplace of Ideas":
In the best Western tradition, it is generally accepted that more ideas, and more discussion is better in working towards the best solution to any challenge - especially national security challenges.

One of the newer additions to the discussion are the writers at the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC)

Since they joined the conversation in force in 2012, what is their view of the state of vigorous debate in the maritime security arena? What do they see as the major issues no only on maintaining a healthy culture of "Creative Friction Without Confict" - and what do they see as the major subjects that naval thinkers need to concentrate on?

Our guest for the full hour will be Lieutenant Scott Cheney-Peters, USNR. Scott is a Surface Warfare Officer in the Navy Reserve and government civilian on the OPNAV staff at the Pentagon.

Scott is the former editor of Surface Warfare magazine and served aboard USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS Oak Hill (LSD-51).

In 2012 Scott founded the CIMSEC, a non-profit think tank/website/group focused on maritime security issues.

Scott is a graduate of Georgetown University and the U.S. Naval War College.
Join us live or pick the show up later by clicking here

Saturday, June 08, 2013

Somali Pirates: Indian Dhow Saved by EU NAVFOR

EU NAVFOR reports "Indian Sailors Safe After EU NAVFOR Forces Pirates To Abandon Attack on Cargo Vessel":
Fourteen Indian sailors are now safe, after pirates, who took control of their cargo vessel . . .  (5 June 2013) in the Gulf of Aden, abandoned the attack hours later after EU Naval Force warship HSwMS Carlskrona, together with NATO counter piracy Dutch warship HNLMS Van Speijk, closed in.

This type of cargo vessel, known as a dhow, has been used in the past by pirates as a ‘mother ship’, to enable them to sail far out to sea to attack passing merchant ships.

 HSwMS Carlskrona
The master of the Indian dhow had sent out an alert yesterday morning, saying that it was under attack from 12 armed pirates. Upon hearing the alert, Royal Swedish Navy warship, HSwMS Carlskrona, which has been part of the EU’s counter piracy mission, Operation Atalanta, since 6 April, closed the scene and as darkness fell, maintained a constant watch on the vessel.

HNLMS Van Speijk
As the Swedish helicopter from HSwMS Carlskrona overflew the scene, the pirates, now under increasing pressure from the military forces, forced the master to close the Somali coast so they could abandon the vessel in the dead of night.

Shortly afterwards, it was with a great sense of relief, that the Indian master was able to report to the EU Naval Force that all the pirates had left his ship and that none of his crew were injured.

Friday, June 07, 2013

Pirates release Pakistani crew kidnapped two weeks ago off Nigeria

Reuters reports "Pirates release Pakistani crew kidnapped off Nigeria":
Pirates have released five Pakistani crew they kidnapped from an oil tanker off the Nigerian
coast two weeks ago, security sources said on Thursday.

Increasing piracy in the Gulf of Guinea region, which includes Africa's No. 1 oil producer Nigeria and is a significant source of cocoa and metals for world markets, is jacking up costs for shipping firms operating there.

Armed pirates attacked the Nigerian-flagged MT Matrix and abducted the five Pakistani crew on May 25 about 40 nautical miles off the coast of the oil-producing Bayelsa state, a stretch of water frequently plagued by armed gangs.

The two security sources said the men, who worked for an oil servicing company, were released unharmed.

There were two attacks in the Gulf of Guinea in April in which foreigners were kidnapped and released a few weeks later. Security sources believe ransoms were paid - an increasingly lucrative business for criminal gangs who used to take more interest in simply stealing the oil on board the tankers. (emphasis added)
What you pay for you will most assuredly get more of . . .

Thursday, June 06, 2013

1944 - Invasion of Normandy, Rome Liberated; 1942 Cleaning Up After the Midway Battle

Nice 1944 Normandy invasion overview at the Naval History and Heritage Command's Invasion of Normandy. Was it only a couple of years before that the U.S. was pushed into the war?

Rome was "liberated":
The people of Rome have crowded onto the streets to welcome the victorious Allied troops.

The first American soldiers, members of the 5th Army, reached the centre of Rome late last night after encountering dogged resistance from German forces on the outskirts of the city.

Early this morning it was announced the German troops had been ordered to withdraw.

Rome is the first of the three Axis powers' capitals to be taken and its recapture will be seen as a significant victory for the Allies and the American commanding officer who led the final
Anzio Landing - Italian Campaign 22 Jan 1944
offensive, Lieutenant General Mark Clark.
When we speak of the "allies return to Europe" we need to remind people that the Italian campaign was a hard fought struggle up the spine of Italy - a part of Europe - which began in September 1943.

A couple of years earlier, the U.S. Navy was working to clean up the results of the Battle of Midway. From Combat Narratives: Battle of Midway:June 3-6, 1942:
The morning of the 6th dawned clear, with a few light cumulus clouds. The sea was smooth and visibility excellent. A light wind from the southwest enabled our carriers to launch and recover with a minimum of deviation from the course the Task Force was to follow most of the day.

At 0502 the Enterprise launched a search group of 18 scout-bombers, each carrying one 500-pound bomb. These were to search to a distance of 200 miles to the west between 180° and 360°. At 0645 one of these planes found an enemy force on course 270°, position latitude 29°33' north, longitude 174°30' east. This force was reported to consist of one battleship and five destroyers, but by a voice error "BB" was misunderstood as "CV", and it was at first reported to Admiral Spruance that the enemy force contained a carrier.

At about 0730 another plane reported by message drop a contact with two heavy cruisers and two destroyers, course 215°, speed 15, at latitude 28°55' N., longitude 175°10' E. This placed the second group about 50 miles southeast of the first. Our Task Force took as its target the group to the north which was not only closer but contained, as it was thought, a battleship. The southern group was left for attack by long-range planes from Midway.

At Midway the patrol planes took off as usual by 0430 on the morning of the 6th, searching the sector 220° to 330° to a distance of 600 miles. Visibility and coverage were excellent, but apparently the first information received at Midway was at 1030 when CINCPAC relayed to the island the contacts reported by the Enterprise scouts.

Several additional B-17's had been sent to Midway on the 5th and 6th, so that 26 were now available. This entire group was dispatched at 1145 to attack the enemy ships at the southern contact. Despite the excellent visibility, none of these planes found the enemy force. At 1640, a flight of 6 B-17's flying at more than 10,000 feet sighted a vessel about 25 miles east of the expected target. Identification of the type was difficult from that height. The first element of 3 planes dropped 4 bombs each, which seemed to hit the target, for it disappeared in 15 seconds.There was no attack signal and the second element did not attack except that the leader's two wingmen by mistake dropped bombs which fell wide of the now submerged target. Some pilots thought they had sunk a cruiser in 15 seconds.

Actually the "ship" was the submarine Grayling, which crash dived when the first bombs fell near her bow. Fortunately, she was not damaged. This was the only attack of the day by Midway planes.

Meanwhile, our Task Force had had considerably greater success. At 0757, soon after receipt of the second contact report, the Hornet began launching an attack group of 26 scout bombers. Eight fighters were sent too as a precaution against possible air opposition. This group found the enemy force without difficulty. To pilots it appeared to consist of a battleship, a heavy cruiser and three destroyers. Our planes attacked at 0950. The results were:

Two 1,000 pound hits.
One 500 pound hit.
Two 1,000 pound misses within 50 feet.
on "battleship."
Two 1,000 pound hits on heavy cruiser.
One 500 pound hit on stern of a destroyer, which sank.

Since there was no air opposition our fighters occupied themselves by strafing the destroyers, probably causing very heavy casualties. One bombing plane was shot down by antiaircraft fire during the attack, but the rest returned safely to the carrier by 1045. At once they were refueled and rearmed in preparation for a second attack.

This Hornet attack was followed by one from the Enterprise. Between 1045 and 1115 this carrier put into the air scout bombers with one 1,000-pound bomb each, and 12 fighters for strafing. Soon after these planes were in the air they were instructed by radio to search for a battleship believed to be about 40 miles ahead of the group. They were told further that three torpedo planes were being sent to join them. The force maneuvered to await the torpedo planes, but contact with them was never made, and the torpedo planes did not take part in the attack. At 1200 the attack group passed at high altitude a force consisting of two heavy cruisers and two destroyers.Some planes attacked almost at once, but most of the group continued about 30 miles farther in search of the battleship reported to be ahead of the group. In spite of the excellent visibility no ship was sighted, and our planes returned to attack the main group.

The planes which had first begun the attack had taken as their target the heavy cruiser to the east, probably the Mikuma. During this attack the vessels turned to starboard and so were heading north as our other planes approached. These planes came out of the sun from 21,000 feet and dove steeply on the target. Most took the heavy cruiser, but a few chose the "light" cruiser. Antiaircraft fire was heavy, but diminished after the first bomb hit. Altogether, five direct hits were made on the heavy cruiser, with two near hits. Admiral Nimitz writes as follows: "From the stories of survivors of Mikuma it appears that the first planes at 1140 hit and disabled the Mikuma and the last ones about 1300 finished her off when a bomb amidships detonated her torpedoes. The Enterprise group reported one CA as 'dead in the water, burning furiously with heavy explosions,' shattered and abandoned. If they had waited a few minutes their account would have been different. She keeled over and sank very soon after the last hit."
After the Enterprise group returned, the Hornet launched its second attack group of the day - and the last of the battle, as it turned out. This group of 24 scout bombers armed with 1,000-pound bombs took off at 1330 to attack the enemy force now 110 miles away on bearing 264° from the Hornet. At 1645 this group found and attacked an enemy force which pilots described as consisting of four ships, a heavy cruiser, probably of the Kinugasa class, a second cruiser about which there was uncertainty as to whether it was heavy or light, and two destroyers.

As you read through the narrative and its footnotes, the value of the airfield at Midway and the sea plane base there comes through strongly. Also remember that the U.S. aircraft carrier Yorktown and destroyer Hammann were torpedoed by a Japanese submarine on 6 June and both sank, Hammann immediately and Yorktown later:
Once the abandoned Yorktown's crewmen were safely recovered, her escorts departed, leaving behind the destroyer Hughes to keep watch. Early the next day, 5 June, a seaplane from the Japanese cruiser Chikuma spotted the drifting carrier. In mid-morning, Hughes discovered two injured men who had been left behind, rescued them and examined the ship. Later, the tug Vireo came on the scene and took Yorktown under tow, while working parties jettisoned boats and an anchor. However, the old tug could do little more than keep the big ship headed into the wind.

Several other destroyers arrived early on 6 June, carrying a salvage party of Yorktown crewmen. Boarding the carrier at daybreak, the men set to work pushing guns, aircraft and other removable weights over the side, counterflooding to reduce the list and performing the
many other tasks involved in saving their ship. USS Hammann lay alongside to provide power, water and other assistance, while other destroyers patrolled nearby to protect Yorktown from intruders.

By mid-afternoon, prompted by the previous day's seaplane report, the Japanese submarine I-168 crept undetected into the area. Taking a submerged attack position, she fired four torpedoes, hitting Hammann and Yorktown amidships on their starboard sides. The destroyer went down in a few minutes. Many of her crew killed or badly injured in the water when her depth charges exploded as she sank. Vireo cut the towline, and the salvage party were taken off the now even-more-greviously wounded carrier. But she continued to float, and plans were made to restart work the next morning.

Lots of reasons to remember 6 June.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Battle of Midway: Marines, The Army Air Corps and Their Unsinkable Aircraft Carrier

This is the day in history is which we note that U.S. forces dealt the Imperial Japanese Navy a stunning
loss - sinking four aircraft carriers and, as the saying goes, "altering the course of the war."

It became the "Miracle at Midway."

On the other hand, calling it a miracle tends to make it sound like the Americans caught a lucky break when the wind shifted or something - it tends to neglect the preparations made to defend Midway and the sound battle plan that Admiral Nimitz and his staff developed - a pretty good description of which you can find here:
Nimitz’s strategy was direct and to the point; the Japanese’ involved operations that were to divert American strength from the main battle. Nimitz’s knowledge of the Japanese intentions and deployment of forces, however, meant that he had no need to employ diversions to keep the enemy guessing. Nimitz knew where the enemy was to be and employed what forces he had to be there to meet him; he had faith in his commanders: Fletcher, victor of Coral Sea, enjoyed his confidence, and Spruance had come highly recommended by Vice Admiral William F. Halsey, Jr., his commander during the early eastern Pacific raids. When Lt.Col. Harold F. Shannon,. USMC, commanding the USMC garrison at Midway, declared he would hold Midway, Nimitz sent him what reinforcements he could, and provided them to Comdr. Cyril T. Simard, who commanded the overall defense forces at Midway. Popular legend has made much of the Japanese having four carriers and the U.S. Navy three. Midway itself proved to be the equalizer, serving as base for long-ranged aircraft that could not be taken to sea – four-engined heavy bombers (B-17) and flying boats in sufficient quantity for reconnaissance and attack. Nimitz gave Midway “all the strengthening it could take,” exigencies of war dictating the numbers and types of planes employed.
Nimitz clearly possessed tremendous faith in his subordinates, who were nevertheless guided by very clear instructions. His principle of calculated risk is, perhaps, his most brilliant contribution to the battle, in that it precisely and economically conveyed his intentions to his task force commanders. There was no doubt about what they were supposed to do, how they were supposed to do it, and what level of risk was acceptable. Nimitz’s operations plan for the defense of Midway is a model for effective macro-management, spelling out essential tasks in general terms, with a minimum of detail-specific requirements. Nimitz’s plan for the Battle of Midway avoided long-range micro-management and allowed the commanders on the battlefield to make key operational and tactical decisions.
Although Naval War College analysts believed that plans needed to be formed in light of enemy capabilities and not intentions, something for which they castigated Yamamoto, Admiral Nimitz’s battle planning benefited enormously from having a very good notion of enemy intentions derived from excellent radio-intelligence. Such precise and economic employment of forces could not have occurred unless he possessed the ability to gather strategic intelligence on the enemy. Indeed, one can argue that the battle would never have taken place at all had Japanese intentions been cloaked in mystery.

Nimitz’s active preparations for the Battle of Midway indeed provided a momentous reception for the enemy, and once he had issued his operations orders, he entrusted the fighting of the battle to subordinates. Knowing your enemy is coming is one thing, but meeting him on the battlefield and defeating him, is altogether another. In the actions of 4-6 June 1942, those subordinates, from flag officer to fighter pilot, more than justified his faith in them. They had written, Nimitz declared afterward, “a glorious page in our history.”

When hoisting glass to the heroes of Midway, give a thought to the American's "fourth carrier" - the one with the mostly obsolete flying force - the Midway Atoll itself. A good description of the efforts of the Midway defenders is set out in USMC Operations in World War II: Decision at Midway:
The VMF fliers under Major Floyd B. Parks sighted the Zero-escorted Val dive bombers at 0616 about 30 miles out from Midway, and Captain John F. Carey, leading one of Parks' divisions in an F4F-3, launched the attack from 17,000 feet. The Marine fliers were hopelessly outnumbered, and they found that the Zero fighters could "fly rings around
them." they had time for only one pass at the bombers, and then had to turn their attention to the swarm of Zeros, from one to five of which got on the tail of each Marine fighter. Only three of the original 12 Marine pilots survived this brawl, and although the damage they inflicted on the enemy has never been assessed, it is believed that they splashed a number of the bombers and some of the Zeros. Other Zeros were led into the Midway antiaircraft fire.

Meanwhile another group of 13 Midway fighters under Captain Kirk Armistead came in for an attack against the enemy air formation. Again the damage inflicted upon the enemy was undetermined, but fewer Marine pilots were lost. For better or for worse, however, the fighter defense of Midway had been expended, and the problem now passed to the antiaircraft guns on the atoll.

The first Japanese formation attacked at about 0630 from 14,000 feet. Antiaircraft fire knocked down two of these horizontal bombers before they could unload, but 22 came on through to drop their bombs. And just as these initial explosions rocked the two islands, 18 planes of the enemy's second wave came over for their strike. Since each of these Japanese formations had left the carriers with 36 planes, it is possible that the Marine fliers scored some kills.
Nagumo's mistake was a natural one for a commander who believed himself to be unopposed on a "field" of battle of his own choice. Lieutenant Joichi Tomonaga, the flight officer who had commanded the first attack wave against Midway, radioed during his return fight that "There is need for a second attack wave." Meanwhile, with Nagumo still ignorant of the U.S. fleet's presence in the vicinity, six American TBFs and four B-26s from Midway came in to attack his ships. This convinced the Japanese admiral that Tomonaga was right, and he sent below to hangar spaces the 93 planes he had kept spotted for strikes against possible surface opposition. These planes were to be re-armed with bombs for the second strike. Then Nagumo called in the returning planes to arm them for the new attack on the atoll. While his men were involved in this work on the flight deck and in hangar spaces, Nagumo got the belated word from a Tone search plane that U.S. ships, including at least one carrier, were in the area. This caused another change of mind, and the admiral ordered the planes' ordnance changed again, from bombs back to torpedoes with which to attack the surface ships. But this decision was just tardy enough to allow Spruance to catch him with his planes down, and with torpedoes and bombs strewn in great confusion about the hangar deck.38

Meanwhile, as Nagumo vacillated, Admiral Nimitz's orders for Captain Simard to "go all out for the carriers," while Marine antiaircraft batteries worried about Midway, were under execution. VMSB-241, like the fighter squadron, had divided into two striking units, the first composed of 16 SBD-2s led by Major Lofton Henderson, and the second of 11 SB2U-3s commanded by Major Benjamin W. Norris. Hendersons' group climbed to 9,000 feet to locate the enemy carriers, which were then undergoing the attack from the TBFs and the B-26s. Fliers of this group sighted the Japanese ships at 0744, but as the SBDs spiralled down they were set upon by swarms of Nakajima 97s and Zeros flying air cover, which were soon reinforced by more fighters from the carriers below. Henderson and several other were shot down (only eight of these planes got back to Midway) and the strike scored no hits although some were claimed.
Next came an attack by 15 B-17s led by Lieutenant Colonel Walter C. Sweeney, USA, but again claims of hits were optimistic. And as these Flying Fortresses pulled away, Major Norris came in with his 11 Vindicators which had taken off with Henderson. Beset by the Zeros, Norris turned to the nearest target at hand, and the Marines crowded their ancient planes into a standard glide run almost on top of the Japanese battleship Haruna--previously claimed as an Army B-17's victim off Luzon. Some of the fliers also went after the Kirishima, which was nearby, but neither attack managed any hits. Three Marines were shot down, and the group was credited with splashing two enemy fighters, plus two probables.40

By 1100 all surviving Marine aircraft had made their way back to he atoll where all hands grimly assessed the battle's damage and prepared for subsequent action. Of the VMF-221 fighters which had gone in against the attacking Japanese planes, only 10 returned, and of this number only two were in shape to leave the ground again. Thirteen F2A-3s and two F4Fs were missing, along with the eight craft lost from the Henderson group and the three shot away from the Norris force. Slick black smoke from oil fires billowed up from the islands, and ruptured fuel lines left more than two-thirds of the aviation fuel temporarily unavailable. Gasoline had to be sent to the field from Sand Island, and hand-pumped from drums. The Marine ground defense force had sustained 24 casualties, and four ordnance-men of VMF-221 had been lost to a direct bomb hit.

At 1700 a burning enemy carrier was reported 200 miles northwest of Midway, and Major Norris prepared VMSB-241's six operational SBD-2s and five SB2U-3s for a night attack. The planes took off at 1900, but could not find the carrier. Major Norris failed to return from this mission, although the other pilots managed to home by the light of oil fires and the antiaircraft searchlights which were turned up as beacons.41 Meanwhile, the Battle of Midway had been decided at sea in a fight of carrier aircraft.
The Marines and Army Air Corps on Midway did their share - flying from their "unsinkable" aircraft carrier.

A salute to all the brave men we should honor today.

Monday, June 03, 2013

Battle of Midway 4 June - 7 June 1942

Was it the "turning point" in war with Japan over dominance in the Pacific? As set out in Battle of Midway:
The Battle of Midway, fought over and near the tiny U.S. mid-Pacific base at Midway atoll, represents the strategic high water mark of Japan's Pacific Ocean war. Prior to this action, Japan possessed general naval superiority over the United States and could usually choose where and when to attack. After Midway, the two opposing fleets were essentially equals, and the United States soon took the offensive.
Why Midway? A tiny little atoll out in the middle of a great big ocean and - in the days before satellites - a key base for long range patrols essential for detecting threats approaching the Hawaiian Islands.

From Midway's airstrips, B-17 drop bombs at Japanese carriers
Further, as noted here:
Midway was a vital "sentry for Hawaii", and a serious assault on it would almost certainly produce a major naval battle, a battle that the Japanese confidently expected to win. That victory would eliminate the U.S. Pacific fleet as an important threat, perhaps leading to the negotiated peace that was Japan's Pacific War "exit strategy".
As the 71st anniversary of Midway begins, it is a good time to reflect on the importance of the Pacific to the United States, both strategically and economically.

More to follow.

Related: In the mail from the U.S. Naval Institute Press, The Battle of Midway: The Naval Institute's Guide to the U.S. Navy's Greatest Victory edited by Thomas C. Hone.

It was a great victory as we'll discuss here over the next few days . . . but the "greatest?"

Let the debate begin.

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Midrats Sunday, 2 June 13: Episode 178: USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS: Operation PRAYING MANTIS (5pm Eastern U.S.)

Join us for Midrats on Sunday, 2 June 13 at 5pm Eastern U.S.for Episode 178: USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS: Operation PRAYING MANTIS:
Narrow seas, unseen mines, punitive expeditions, and "come as you are" ASUW on the sea and in the air.

Yes, it has been a quarter-century, but little has changed since the USS SAMUEL B. ROBERTS (FFG-58) struck a mine, and in retribution, the US Navy launched Operation PRAYING MANTIS.

The tactical and operational aspects of each, as well as combat leadership, remain constant even while the tools may have changed a bit.

To discuss this an more, our guest for the full hour will be BRAD PENIST0N, author of No Higher Honor: Saving the USS Samuel B. Roberts in the Persian Gulf, recently released by the Naval Institute Press in paperback and on Kindle.
Join us live or listen later by clicking here.