Good Company

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

Saturday is Heinlein Quote Day #14

From Starship Troopers:
" . . . War is not violence and killing, pure and simple; war is controlled violence, for a purpose. The purpose of war is to support your government's decisions by force. The purpose is never to kill the enemy just to be killing him...but to make him do what you want to do. Not killing...but controlled and purposeful violence. But it's not your business or mine to decide the purpose of the control. It's never a soldier's business to decide when or where or how—or why—he fights; that belongs to the statesmen and the generals. The statesmen decide why and how much; the generals take it from there and tell us where and when and how. We supply the violence; other people—'older and wiser heads,' as they say—supply the control. Which is as it should be."

Which is a nice paraphrase of Clausewtiz

"War therefore is an act of violence to compel our opponent to fulfill our will"

"We see, therefore, that War is not merely a political act, but also a real political instrument, a continuation of political commerce, a carrying out of the same by other means. All beyond this which is strictly peculiar to War relates merely to the peculiar nature of the means which it uses. That the tendencies and views of policy shall not be incompatible with these means, the Art of War in general and the Commander in each particular case may demand, and this claim is truly not a trifling one. But however powerfully this may react on political views in particular cases, still it must always be regarded as only a modification of them; for the political view is the object, War is the means, and the means must always include the object in our conception. "
The last part is usually offered up as, "War is a mere continuation of policy by other means."

Friday, June 27, 2014

On Midrats 29 June 2014 - Episode 234: "Asking the right questions to build the right leaders"

Please join us at 5pm (U.S. EDT) on Sunday, 29 June 2014 for Midrats Episode 234: "Asking the right questions to build the right leaders":
Is the profession of arms, as the Navy believes it is, primarily a technical job for officers - or is it something else?

To create the cadre of leaders one needs, do you train them as empty vessels that one only needs to fill up with what you want or an empty checklist to complete - or do you train them by helping them bring out their ability to lead and make decisions through informed critical thinking?

Our guest for the full hour to discuss this and more will be Major Matt Cavanaugh, USA. Matt is currently assigned as an Assistant Professor in military strategy at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Prior to this assignment, Matt was a Strategic Planner at the Pentagon, after service with the with Second Squadron, Third Armored Cavalry Regiment with multiple deployments to Iraq from Fallujah, Ramadi, and Tal’Afar.

Matt earned his Master’s in Strategic Studies at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand and is currently at work on a PhD dissertation on generalship at the University of Reading (UK). He is a Fellow at the Center for the Study of Civil Military Operations, has been published with several peer-reviewed military and academic journals, and is the Editor at, a site dedicated to the study of the use of force. Matt has represented the United States in an official capacity in ten countries, including: Iraq, Kuwait, Norway, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Latvia, and Great Britain.
Matt is the author of the blog essays Ten Questions West Point Does Not Ask Cadets - But Should, Another Ten Questions West Point Does Not Ask Cadets - But Should, and What Cadets Should Study - and Why Military History is Not Enough.

Join us live at 5pm (U.S. EDT) on Sunday, 29 June 2014 or pick up the show later by clicking here.

Friday Fun Film: Operation Deep Freeze (1957)

Exploring Antarctica . . . the logistics force supporting the effort:
Operation Deep Freeze was a massive scientific expedition to Antarctica which began in 1955.

Some of us remember when the U.S. Navy had ice breakers. And AOGs and YOGs.

I wonder what the environmental impact statement would look like today . . .

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Should there be a "cost-benefit analysis of fighting maritime piracy? The Government Accountability Office says it might be a good idea in its report "MARITIME SECURITY Ongoing U.S. Counterpiracy Efforts Would Benefit From Agency Assessments"

If you are looking for humor of a sort, you might look at the following table:

I would suggest that the difference in the "Pirate response to armed security teams" between the Horn of Africa and Gulf of Guinea has a great deal to do with the variation in the quality of the private security teams between the two areas. So ... just sayin'  - there are many kinds of "cost effectiveness."
Hat tip to USNI News.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Lightning Safety Awareness Week: June 22-28, 2014

Summer begins - people are outdoors more and so it's time for Lightning Safety Awareness Week: June 22-28, 2014:
Summer is the peak season for one of the nation's deadliest weather phenomena--lightning. Though lightning strikes peak in summer, people are struck year round. In the United States, an average of 51 people are killed each year by lightning, and hundreds more are severely injured.
Of course, in 2012, 34,000 people died in car wrecks, so 51 is, relatively speaking, not a big number.

On the other hand, as the logic goes, it matters a lot to those 51 and their loved ones.

The main thing is to be safe - so far in 2014, 7 people have been killed by lightning:

What lessons can be learned from these deaths? If it is thundering and there is lightning about, it is a really, really good idea to get inside and away from lakes, trees, roof tops and open places. As The National Weather Service says,
That's Leon the Lion (lions roar, you see, so ...)

So, where are the high risk areas?

You can draw your own conclusions about where the danger lurks.

NWS also has a good web page on how lightning can get at you here (those images on the right and below came from there). Explanations at that link.

So far as I have been able to
research things, no one has ever been killed while taking a shower in a building or while in a bath tub inside or talking on a wired phone. Your research may vary and I look forward to seeing it.

However, the NWS offers these shelter safety tips here that warn against using a corded phone or showering, so what do I know?

The point is - get under cover. Be safe.

You don't want to be a statistic.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

People Smugglers: US Coast Guard Rescues and Repatriates Migrants from Haiti

Poor and desperate people who are taken advantage of by thugs. So, the U.S. Coast Guard has to spring into action - a sad response to a failed country's mess. Reported by the Coast Guard News as "Smugglers force migrants into the sea in attempt to avoid interdiction":
The Coast Guard repatriated 43 Haitian migrants Wednesday from two separate interdictions in the Mona Passage, including a pair of migrants who had to be rescued after they were forced into the water by smugglers attempting to avoid interdiction at sea.

The Coast Guard Cutter Confidence repatriated the migrants to Haiti Wednesday.

On Friday a group of 19 migrants was detected by a Coast Guard aircraft west of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. Coast Guard Sector San Juan diverted the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo to interdict the migrant vessel and informed federal law enforcement partner agencies.

Upon the cutter Key Largo’s arrival on scene, the smugglers, in an attempt to flee the area and avoid interdiction, allegedly threatened the migrants onboard and forced two Haitians, including a minor, overboard without life jackets. The crew of the Key Largo rescued the two Haitians and continued to pursue the suspect vessel.

During the pursuit, a patrolling U.S. Customs and Border Protection Office of Air and Marine Operations aircraft was able to maintain surveillance of the fleeing vessel until it was relieved by a Coast Guard HC-144 Maritime Patrol aircraft deployed to Puerto Rico from Coast Guard Air Station Miami.

The suspected smugglers were later apprehended by Dominican Republic law enforcement authorities.

“This incident demonstrates just how ruthless smugglers are. They have no regard for human life and are only seeking to profit from this illicit activity,” said Lt. Daniel E. Stepler, Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo commanding officer.

The other 24 Haitian migrants were interdicted four days earlier by Coast Guard Cutter Drummond approximately 13 miles west of Mona Island. Two suspected smugglers were apprehended and turned over to law enforcement authorities in Puerto Rico for further investigation.
Hanging from a yardarm might be a good idea for those smugglers. Attempted murder charges at least.

How bad is the problem? "Coast Guard Repatriates 56 Migrants to Cap Haitien, Haiti and Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba":
The Coast Guard repatriated 25 Haitian migrants to Cap Haitien, Haiti, and 31 Cuban migrants to Bahia de Cabañas, Cuba, Tuesday.

These repatriations are a result of five separate attempts to illegally migrate to the United States.

On June 9, 2014, the Coast Guard Cutter Drummond interdicted 25 Haitian migrants on a yola vessel west of Mona Island, Puerto Rico. The migrants were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutter Tahoma and then to the Coast Guard Cutter Confidence for repatriation to Haiti.
The following Friday, three separate interdictions totaling 31 migrants took place in the Florida Straits. The crews of Coast Guard Station Key West, Florida, Coast Guard Station Marathon, Florida, the Coast Guard Cutter Sawfish and Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo interdicted the migrants and safely removed them from their unseaworthy vessels.

All the migrants interdicted were transferred to the Coast Guard Cutters Knight Island and Confidence for repatriation.

“The Coast Guard and our partner agencies continue to diligently patrol the waters around the United States to deter illegal migrant activity,” said Capt. Mark Fedor, chief of response enforcement. “Our main concern is the safety of life at sea. When migrants put their lives in the hands of smugglers, or take to the sea aboard unseaworthy vessels, they put their lives at grave risk.”

Once aboard a Coast Guard cutter all migrants receive food, water, shelter, and basic medical attention.
Crewmembers from the Coast Guard Cutter Key Largo rescue a Haitian migrant from the water west of Mona Island, Puerto Rico, Friday. U.S. Coast Guard photo.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Maritime Crime Threat: People Smugglers at Sea

There ought to be a special level of hell for the people who engage in the sea smuggling of people for profit. Ruthless hardly covers it.

See here:
Smuggling of Migrants is a crime involving the procurement for financial or other material benefit of illegal entry of a person into a State of which that person is not a national or resident. Migrant smuggling affects almost every country in the world. It undermines the integrity of countries and communities, and costs thousands of people their lives every year.

Reuters report: "Overloaded boat sinks off Malaysia, 34 Indonesians missing, three dead":
An overloaded boat carrying suspected illegal Indonesian immigrants sank as it left Malaysia's west coast early on Wednesday, and at least three passengers drowned and 34 were missing.

The boat, whose passengers included women and children, sank at the mouth of a river shortly after midnight as it left Malaysia's Carey Island, likely bound for Indonesia's Sumatra island, officials and witnesses said.

Police said the boat lacked safety equipment such as life jackets, but that rescuers were still holding out hope of finding more survivors. The boat went down in shallow water close to shore.

"It is likely that survivors could have swum ashore and went into hiding since they have no legal documents here," said Mohammed Hambali Yaakup, head of operations in the area for the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA).

Hambali said he could not confirm reports that a people-smuggling gang had been involved with the boat. All 60 survivors have been arrested under immigration laws, he said.
This problem is not limited to Asia - as noted in this BBC report, "On Italy's immigration front line":
Record numbers of immigrants have been arriving in the country this year. Arriving from the south, from Africa. Since the start of 2013 some 10,000 have landed every month, a growing number of them picked up by the Italian navy.

When 366 people died off the Italian island of Lampedusa last October, as the boat carrying them sank, Italy decided to deploy its maritime forces to prevent more deaths. They called the operation "Mare Nostrum" - Our Sea.

It's taking a toll on the country's finances, and on its immigration centres, which are filling up at an alarming rate.

It's also putting pressure on other European countries to share the burden, but there's increasing political pressure within many of those countries to limit immigration.
Few countries could handle 10,000 new immigrants per month, especially those arriving without any useful skills or funds to set themselves up in a new location.

Too bad the home countries of these migrants are such hellholes that any escape, even in the hands of hardened criminals, seem like the best of all the bad choices available. Since it seems that so many women and children are involved, it seems even worse.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Midrats 22 June 14 - Episode 233: "Global Combat Fleet Development With Eric Wertheim"

Please join us today on Midrats at 5pm Eastern (U.S. EDT) for Episode 233: Global Combat Fleet Development With Eric Wertheim:
From the USA, Europe, Russia, to the South China Sea, nations continue to signal where their priories are by what type of fleet they are building.

What capabilities are they expanding, and what capabilities are they letting drift away?

To discuss this and more for the full hour will be returning guest Eric Wertheim.

Eric is a defense consultant, columnist and author specializing in naval and maritime issues. He was named to the helm of the internationally acknowledged, one volume Naval Institute reference Combat Fleets of the World in 2002.
Join us live at 5pm or pick the show up later by clicking here.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Saturday is Heinlein Quote Day #13

From Robert Heinlein's Rocket Ship Galileo
“There is a world of difference, under the laws of free men, between an unprovoked attack and striking back in your own defense. If a footpad assaults you in a dark alley, you don’t have to get a court order to fight back.”
Good time to remember that.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Friday Fun Film: War with Iraq (Desert Storm Portion)

The war in the Middle East:

An over-reaching dictator. Twelve years later he was fixed and the Iraqis given a chance.

The Navy was there. The Navy is still there.

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Strategy: Naval War College: Current Strategy Forum 2014 (in part)

From the DVIDS site, videos of the 2014 Current Strategy Forum held at the Naval War College:

The videos are posted here

As noted on the DVIDS site:
This year marks the 65th annual Current Strategy Forum (CSF) at the U.S. Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island. The first CSF was held on May 9, 1949 under the title “Round Table Talks.” This event offers an opportunity for the nation’s public servants, scholars, and senior military officers to join the College faculty and students to discuss the future strategy of the United States.

Yes, any word you misspell will always be in the post title.

UPDATED to put in link directly to DVIDS page.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

South China Sea Pirates? Another small tanker goes missing in the SCS

 According to the Norwegian Maritime Authority, there is another Missing vessel in the South China Sea
1. IFC received information from Company that they have lost communication with their Indonesia Flag Product Tanker "ARSENAL" at the South China Sea.
The details are as follows:2. Vessel details:Name: ARSENAL (Product Tanker)IMO: 7620964Flag: IndonesiaType: Product TankerCompany: Global Marine TransportLPOC: Eastern OPLNPOC: VietnamLast Known Position; 01 31N 104 29E (020 HBL 12nm) at 17 0745H Jun 14.
3. Incident details: Company lost communication with the Product Tank since 17 0745H Jun 14. Product Tanker "ARSENAL" is manned by 12 Indonesia. "ARSENAL" is carrying "MOGAS" as her cargo. ARENSAL accompanied by a tug named Pawai.
Hat tip to Lars H. Bergqvist

All images from here.

UPDATE: See New Threat to Small Tankers in SE Asia from The Maritime Executive.

South China Sea Pirates: Another Tanker Robbed of Cargo Fuel

Ai Maru with Malaysian MMEA vessel alongside
Reported in the New Sabah Times:
The Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) has confirmed that pirates seized about 700,000 litres of diesel worth RM1.4 million from an oil tanker, ‘MT Ai Maru’ on Saturday night, about 31 nautical miles off Timur Tanjung Sedili, Johor.

MMEA deputy director general (Operations), Datuk Mohd Puzi Ab Kahar said the agency was investigating whether it was an “inside job” ....
Mohd Puzi said the tanker was located at 3.20 am yesterday and an inspection found that the crew and captain were unharmed.

“According to the crew, the pirates pumped out the fuel in three hours into another ship which they could not identify.

“The captain claimed the crew were confined in a room while he was ordered by the pirates who were armed with machetes and pistols to steer the ship. He could not ascertain the nationality of the culprits who later fled towards the nearby islands such as Pulau Andalas in Indonesia or Pulau Aur,” he said.
These pirates are good. Too good to be anything other than a well-organized gang.

Circled area is vicinity of hijacking
Must be good money in it.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Where does ISIS get its logistical support?

There is this, "The Economist explains: What ISIS, an al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria, really wants"
ISIS originated as an al-Qaeda offshoot in Iraq. Composed of fundamentalist Sunni Muslims, the group targeted the Iraqi government and American forces in Iraq, as well as Shia Muslims and Christians (both of whom it considers heretics) and killed civilians of all faiths in indiscriminate attacks. It expanded into Syria when that country's uprising turned into a war between President Bashar Assad (who is backed by Iran's Shia leadership) and the rebels he had tried to crush. One of the best-equipped and funded militias on the ground—although its sources of cash are murky—ISIS took control of the eastern rebel-held city of Raqqa in 2012 and expanded along the border with Turkey. Foreign fighters flocked to Syria to join it.

As ISIS’s name suggests, the interests of the group and its current leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi go beyond Syria. Its members believe that the world's Muslims should live under one Islamic state ruled by sharia law.
Murky? In this day and age? Others sites have been less reluctant to point fingers. See CFR's Backgrounder "Islamic State in Iraq and Greater Syria":
Supporters in the region, including those based in Jordan, Syria, and Saudi Arabia, are believed to have provided the bulk of past funding. Iran has also financed AQI, crossing sectarian lines, as Tehran saw an opportunity to challenge the U.S. military presence in the region, according to the U.S. Treasury and documents confiscated in 2006 from Iranian Revolutionary Guards operatives in northern Iraq. In early 2014, Iran offered to join the United States in offering aid to the Iraqi government to counter al-Qaeda gains in Anbar province.

The bulk of ISIS's financing, experts say, comes from sources such as smuggling, extortion, and other crime. ISIS has relied in recent years on funding and manpower from internal recruits. Even prior to ISIS's takeover of Mosul, Iraq's second-largest city, in June 2014, the group extorted taxes from businesses small and large, netting upwards of $8 million a month, according to some estimates.
The Old Caliphate
Of course, now there are reports of an ISIS bank heist of over $400 million in Mosul, which ought to pay for a lot of those "out of area volunteers" and their AK-47s.

Cutting off the ISIS supply chain might have been easier before they apparently captured so much equipment from those elements of the Iraqi Army that decided to beat feet in the face of the enemy.

Ah, Sunni v. Shiite and a turf war over an oil rich country. Might want to dust off those books on the 30 years war when the Catholics vs. Protestant dust-up morphed into the battle for dominance of Europe. Of course, that was 500 400 years ago (1618- 1648) (updated).

This will get even uglier. Not much middle ground in the sectarian/clan battlefield.

Good stuff at The Long War Journal. Go see.

UPDATE: ISIS has big money for a gang of thugs, see How an arrest in Iraq revealed Isis's $2bn jihadist network (hat tip to War on the Rocks).

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Father's Day

Korea 1952, Dad on the flight line at Kunsan, the B-26s he flew in the background:

Some wag wrote on the back of the photo, "Some guy who stands in front of things to have his picture taken." I guess the rules on flight line smoking were different then.

At the time of the photo he was a 35 year old AF Reservist, recalled for Korea. In WWII he flew in B-17s with 35 combat missions after first serving in the horse cavalry near San Diego. During the Korean War he flew over 150 combat missions.

After Korea, he remained on active duty, finally retiring from the USAF in 1972 after a great deal of time in SAC.

He was once described a "big man built low to the ground."

A gentleman and great father.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Saturday is Heinlein Quote Day #12

“A managed democracy is a wonderful thing... for the managers... and its greatest strength is a 'free press' when 'free' is defined as 'responsible' and the managers define what is 'irresponsible'.”
― Robert A. Heinlein,The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress

See here from 20130:
If these bills—support for which the White House reaffirmed in its DOJ report—pass without change, Congress effectively will create two tiers of journalists: the institutional press licensed by the government, and everyone else. That’s a pretty flimsy shield if what we are really trying to protect is the free flow of information.
One way to silence your critics is to define away their right to criticize. "Managing" the news, as it were.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Friday Fun Film: "Why Calibrate?"

Nothing says good training like a cartoon. Especially a poor man's cartoon like this one, which has its moments:

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Preventing House Fires - Cooking Hazards

A couple of weeks ago, the Red Cross Disaster Assistance team I belong to were having our monthly lunch meeting and discussing the scenarios under which the team had been called out. There were the occasional floodings, lightning strikes and other oddities, but kitchen fires were the main events of call out. Drilling down a bit, it seems the most common kitchen fire we responded to involved the cooking of bacon on the stove when the cook "forgot" about the frying pan and left the kitchen unattended.

It seems this is not all that uncommon. Some startling statistics:
In 2011, cooking was involved in an estimated 156,300 home structure fires that were reported to U.S. fire departments. These fires caused 470 deaths, 5,390 injuries and $1.0 billion in direct property damage. Cooking caused 43% of reported home fires, 16% of home fire deaths, 38% of home fire injuries, and 12% of the direct property damage in home fires in 2011.
Based on 2007-2011 annual averages:

- Unattended cooking was by far the leading contributing factor in these fires.
- Two-thirds (67%) of home cooking fires started with the ignition of food or other cooking materials.
- Clothing was the item first ignited in less than 1% of these fires, but these incidents accounted for 15% of the cooking fire deaths.
- Ranges accounted for the largest share (57%) of home cooking fire incidents. Ovens accounted for 16%.
- More than half (55%) of reported non-fatal home cooking fire injuries occurred when the victims tried to fight the fire themselves.
- Frying poses the greatest risk of fire.
- Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires.
I suspect that Thanksgiving stat is because of the rise of deep fat frying turkeys. More about that in a minute. In the meantime, here's nice graphic from the National Fire Protection Association

Well, let's suppose you've got a nice little grease fire going on the stove, what do you do? Here are some tips from the Rocky Mountain Fire Department:
You only have a few moments to either put out a grease fire or escape the house.
Here's How:

1. DO NOT USE WATER ON A GREASE FIRE! (see Tips) Start evacuating everyone from the building. Fires spread extremely fast and can overwhelm victims in minutes. Treat burns only after evacuating the building.
2. Turn off the Burner! The fire might go out with this simple step.
3. Call 911. There's no reason to wait, Rocky Mountain Fire will be there to assist even if you manage to get the fire out.
4. The easiest way to smother a grease fire is to cover it with a pan lid. Be careful with glass lids; they can break from the extreme heat of open flame.
5. Grease fires can also be smothered with baking soda, but it takes a lot of baking soda to do the trick. Unless the baking soda is easily accessible, it's usually easier to quickly find a lid.
6. A dry chemical fire extinguisher will also work, but it will contaminate your kitchen and food. Class K fire extinguishers are available to put out grease and other kitchen fires, but they are usually only found in commercial kitchens.
7. A newly developed fire extinguishing spray is now available. Highly effective on common household fires including grease fires. Dispensed from a common aerosol spray can.


- DO NOT PUT WATER ON A GREASE FIRE! This can not be stressed enough. Pouring water on burning grease or oil will not extinguish the fire. It will only cause the burning oil to splash, spreading the grease fire around.
- DO NOT TRY TO CARRY THE FIRE OUTSIDE! Trying to carry a pot or pan full of burning oil will just slosh and splash the grease fire.
- Treat burns only after the fire is contained or the building is completely evacuated. Call 911 if a serious burn is experienced.
- If clothes are caught on fire; STOP, DROP, and ROLL to extinguish them.
Why not put water on a grease fire? As everyone knows who has attended any kind of fire fighting school:

Don't use flour or sugar to try to extinguish a fire!

And, if you are going to deep fat fry turkeys, well, be very, very careful:

Probably not a good thing to do after having a "few" beers.

Pay attention to your cooking. 156,000 homes and 400+ lives lost to preventable fires is a disaster.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

South China Sea Piracy: Fuel Thefts at Sea

Hijacking tankers to steal their cargo at sea is one of the newer games in pirate town. We've seen it off Nigeria in the Gulf of Guinea and there have been a couple of instances in the waters near Pulau Batam, Indonesia or in the Strait of Malacca (see here). A couple of weeks ago there was another incident off Pulau Batam. as reported by the ICC Commercial Crime Services International Maritime Bureau here. Maps are from the IMB Live Piracy Map or here.
© Geir Vinnes
The Regional Cooperation Agreement on Combating Piracy and Armed Robbery against Ships in Asia (ReCAAP) provides more detail in its Incident Update (Orapin 4) (pdf):
The shipping company informed the ReCAAP Focal Point (Thailand) who in turn reported to the ReCAAP ISC that at or about 0200 hrs (local time) on 28 May 14, 10 pirates armed with guns and knives boarded the tanker from a speed boat at a location which was about 19 nm off Indonesia in the South China Sea (exact location was not mentioned). The pirates painted the ship name from ORAPIN 4 to RAPI, and destroyed the communication equipment onboard, with intention to mask the identity of the tanker and cut off all communications while at sea. The pirates tied the crew and proceeded to the bridge to control the tanker. Another tanker came alongside and approximately 3,700 metric tonnes of ADF was siphoned from Orapin 4.
As previously noted, this type of hijack and siphon requires a remarkable degree of logistical planning and indicates to me that a well-organized crime syndicate is involved.

The area around Singapore has been active in 2014, though most of the activity has been sneak thieves getting aboard ships a taking anything not welded to the deck that can be easily snatched and taken to a small boat. Those red flags mark the two tanker jacks this year in this area:

Monday, June 09, 2014

Future of the U.S. Navy: Bigger Role for Its Military Sealift Command?

A glimpse into possible future steps of the U.S. Navy in Steven Beardsley's Stars and Stripes article, "With Navy strained, Sealift Command crews eye greater military role"
. . . Navy has handed over . . . much of its workload to the Military Sealift Command over the past 65 years, freeing up sailors to man destroyers, aircraft carriers and other warships.
“I see the ‘M’ in military Sealift Command growing,” Rear Adm. T.K. Shannon, commander of MSC, said in a recent interview. “And when I say the ‘M,’ I don’t mean doubling the number of active-duty naval officers on our staff. I see the type of work we are involved in growing in that military element.”
USNS Spearhead (JHSV-1) U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Phil Beaufort
The nature of recent U.S. operations has also played to MSC’s strengths. While international law prohibits auxiliary from participating in conflict with state forces, and MSC ships aren’t designed for warfare, the Pentagon has tapped civilian-crewed vessels for missions related to counterterrorism or piracy. The USNS GySgt. Fred W. Stockham, a roll-on, roll-off pre-positioning vessel, has anchored off the Philippines as part of a special operations task force. The USNS Lewis and Clark held captured Somali pirates on board in 2009.
As the article notes, there are lots of issues that may need to be resolved as this process expands.

Read the whole thing.

We had a discussion regarding a "MSC/USN dual crewed" ship with Captain Jon Rogers on "Midrats Episode 222:

Current Military Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Midrats on BlogTalkRadio

Hat tip to Lee.

Saturday, June 07, 2014

Beaches of Red- Amphibious Operations in WWII

As we honor those men who, during WWII, landed in Europe and in the islands of the Pacific, it is also proper to note the contributions of the logistics team behind them.

Now, Navy Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Joshua Sheppard and All Hands offer such a note in "a five part documentary series highlighting the development of the Landing Craft Vehicle Personnel (LCVP) and its use in amphibious operations in WWII."

Saturday is Heinlein Quote Day #11

From Beyond This Horizon
An armed citizen, willing to fight, is the foundation of civil freedom.

Thursday, June 05, 2014

The Allied Invasion of France - D-Day 4 June - 25 June 1944

Just to remind some of you - Europe was not  invaded first by the Allies on June 6, 1944. The amphibious invasion of the European mainland began in September 1943 when the Allies landed at Salerno and two other sites and began the long slug-fest up the Italian peninsula.

It is clear, however, that the "main event" of the Allied re-taking of Europe was the Normandy invasion, for which preparations had been on-going for years. The build-up of personnel, supplies, landing craft, aircraft and other logistical concerns took up much of the time:
Although planning for the operation began in the summer of 1942, the powerful offensive capability of German ground forces in Western Europe, the need to contain the U-boat threat to the Atlantic convoy routes, the strategic decision to divert troops and amphibious craft to the Mediterranean, and the ensuing difficulties of building up offensive forces in Britain, all combined to prevent an invasion of France in the following year. By late 1943, however, detailed planning for the invasion had taken place and significant forces and material had been gathered in Britain.

The naval component of the operation, code named Operation NEPTUNE, comprised large numbers of warships, auxiliaries and landing craft. In all, Britain, Canada, and the United States, as well as the navies-in-exile of France, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Greece, supplied 1,213 warships for the invasion. Their main task was to provide shore bombardment firepower for the troops going ashore, to guard the transports, and to conduct minesweeping and antisubmarine patrols on the flanks of the invasion corridor. The same navies also provided 4,126 amphibious craft, including a variety specialized landing craft, such as LSTs (Landing Ship, Tank), LCIs (Landing Craft, Infantry), and LCTs (Landing Craft, Tank [Rocket]). More than 3,500 of these landing craft were actually used during the Normandy Invasion. These amphibious craft would provide the crucial troop-carrying capacity to land the thousands of men, vehicles, and artillery along the 50-mile wide target area in the Bay of the Seine.

The initial assault from landing ships and craft was on a five-division front between the Orne River and the Cotentin Peninsula. The region was divided into five landing beaches, code named (from west to east) Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. The first two beaches were assigned to the largely American-manned Western Task Force and the other three were the responsibility of the British-dominated Eastern Task Force. Although the Allies faced impressive German defenses, which were heavily fortified with concrete, wire, and other outworks, they knew from experience that an initial lodgment was impossible to prevent. The overall battle itself, however, would be decided by the ability of the Allies to reinforce their initially-weak beachhead by sea as compared to the easier movement of German reinforcements by land. The Allies believed they would have the advantage in such a race since they enjoyed superior concentration of force on the beaches--provided by the guns of the mobile warships--and virtually dominated the air over northern France.
USS Tide (AM-125) sinking after hitting a mine
Under the time constraints of such an invasion, a good deal of activity was undertaken well before the main invasion force sailed - the invasion channels had to swept for sea mines as set out Operation Neptune: The Minesweeping Operation 5 June- 6 June 1944 by David Verghese. In order for those minesweepers to be in place to do their job, they had to set sail well in advance of the invasion date -and before the first army troops set foot on the beach, they had been preceded by Landing Craft Obstruction Clearance Units and U. S. Naval Combat Demolition Units and U.S. Army Demolition Units, a force of "frogmen" tasked with clearing underwater obstructions near the beaches:
Naval Demolition Men Blowing Up Obstacles
Mitchell Jamieson
The Assault NCDUs and Army Demolition Units (collectively called Gap Assault Teams) touched down on OMAHA beaches at 0633 - 0635, with a single exception. All were to the left of their assigned beaches, starting with Team No. 1 on DOG WHITE, 700 yards east of their intended landing on DOG GREEN. Others were as much as 1500 yards east of their assigned landings, though still within the OMAHA beaches. The error is variously attributed to haze over the shoreline, absence or failure of guiding craft, and shore currents.

The type and intensity of the fire that met them is by now well known.

Many Boat Teams arrived ahead of the Assault infantry, others simultaneously with them, and a few after them as planned. Two tanks and a tank dozer were assigned with each Army Demolition unit. Some of these arrived successfully and did yeoman service in drawing fire away from the Demolition personnel, and returning fire, and later (especially D-day afternoon low tide) in dozing out the obstacles. (Of the rest, some were lost with their LCTs, some were landed late in the day, and some, landed successfully, were knocked out traversing the beach from their landing-point to their assigned Gap Area).

Almost all units proceeded at once to lay charges; and they were ready to fire in a maximum of 20 minutes. ***

Six complete gaps, through all bands of obstacles, were blown during the assault low-tide, most of them by H plus 30 minutes. Three partial gaps, through either the seaward or the landward bands, were also blown at this time.

Four additional clear gaps were made as the tide receded that afternoon, and the three partial gaps were completed; meanwhile some of the morning gaps were being widened leftwards, as planned, so that there were at least 13 gaps averaging about 70 yards each that afternoon.

More than that, some slower but essential craft had to get underway before the rest of force, as noted at D-DAY Landing Craft:
For many of the craft that were stood off the Normandy beaches that summer morning, the journey across the English Channel had been long and arduous. Many of the first wave LCT ( Landing Craft, Tank ) had set out during the early morning of June 5th, laden with troops and tanks.
Included in this group were the vessels transporting the demolition units.

The Normandy invasion was a challenge of enormous complexity and a fantastic logistics effort.

The Battle of Midway 4 to 7 June 1942

Dive Bombing Japanese Carriers
Griffith Baily Coale
Excellent source of information at the Naval History and Heritage Command's site The Battle of Midway:
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.

Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Disaster Prep Wednesday: Getting Out

Untimely evacuation (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
Sometimes the best of all disaster preparations is getting out the way of the hazard. Or, as puts it, "Evacuating Yourself and Your Family":
Prepare now in the event of an evacuation.
The amount of time you have to leave will depend on the hazard. If the event is a weather condition, such as a hurricane, you might have a day or two to get ready. However, many disasters allow no time for people to gather even the most basic necessities, which is why planning ahead is essential.

Plan how you will assemble your family and supplies and anticipate where you will go for different situations. Choose several destinations in different directions so you have options in an emergency and know the evacuation routes to get to those destinations.
You know, planning ahead is always a good idea.

Naturally, the government provides guidelines (click on them to enlarge them):

You might note the reference in the guidelines to a Family Emergency Plan which if you hit the preceding link, you will learn more about.

However, guidelines don't answer the biggest question, "When it the best time to get out?" There are folks who study such things, as seen at Evacuation modelling: finding the best time (and way) to get going where there is some research from Australia’s Information Communications Technology (ICT) Research Centre of Excellence (NICTA):
When to evacuate – and how – spells the difference between life and death. As we know, typhoons can cause widespread flooding of surrounding areas, and don’t just affect what lies in the path of the storm. Planning an evacuation is a game against nature.

Typhoon Haiyan (and similar events around the world) indicate that people do not play this game well … but computers do.
Planning an evacuation is an extremely challenging task, with calculating the best procedure akin to finding a needle in a haystack. There is an astronomic number of possible evacuation plans to consider, even for a small city.

Although few plans are safe, the number and complexity of decisions quickly becomes overwhelming – especially as rising water or traffic accidents block roads – but computers can dramatically help emergency services design evacuation plans which people can actually follow.
Okay, they discuss algorithms and how to use massive amounts of data to help authorities try to control/assist citizens in evacuations:
Our algorithms have led to fundamental insights about evacuations and human behaviour. Letting every individual decide when, where and how to evacuate can have disastrous consequences.

In the Hawkesbury Nepean flood scenario, if everyone leaves at a reasonable time and goes to the closest evacuation shelter, more than 60% of the population will not reach safety and will end up trapped by major traffic jams.

It is not surprising that independent decisions by 70,000 individuals do not lead to an effective evacuation – but our algorithms evacuate every single person.

Even better, if as many as half of the population does not follow the plan exactly but leaves at the time it is instructed to, 97% of evacuees will reach safety.

Equally interesting is the fact that most existing evacuation algorithms are too optimistic: they delay the evacuation too much and, as a result, a substantial portion of the population cannot be evacuated.

After the 2005 Hurricane Katrina, the US recognised the need to go beyond situational awareness and to adapt for disaster management the optimisation algorithms used in airlines, logistic systems, and supply chains.
Houston Texas Evacuation Disaster During Hurricane Rita
Photo Credit Ed Edahl, FEMA

The "Hawkesbury Nepean flood scenario" is referenced in the article. If you want an U.S. example, you might recall the traffic jams that developed on the roads out of Houston preceding Hurricane Rita, as set out this 2005 Houston Chronicle article:
Sixteen hours to San Antonio and Dallas. Eleven hours to Austin. With over a million people trying to flee vulnerable parts of the Houston area, Hurricane Rita will be a nightmare even if Galveston doesn't take a direct hit. .

Trying to leave Houston on I-10, Ella Corder drove 15 hours to go just 13 miles today. Noticing cars out of gas littering the freeway, she turned off her air-conditioner to save fuel, but the 52-year-old heart patient worried the heat and exhaustion were taking a toll on her.
Yes, I can see a planner sitting down with a computer and coming up with a disaster evacuation plan that moves people from the most threatened areas out first, followed by the next most threatened tier, and so on. If most people comply, great! But . . .

Well, let's suppose you want to be a little more proactive - which will probably screw up the algorithms - and head out on your own at the time of your choosing. You might need some route planning assistance. USA Evacuation Routes may be useful for your planning. For example, if you were anxious to leave the District of Columbia for some reason, you can find assistance in routing here.

Not every state has evacuation routes, but there is some good stuff out there. Here's map of the New York City region, suggesting areas that ought to be evacuated in case of a hurricane:

The main thing is to have a plan that includes a "trigger point" that, when reached, will set you on the way to some safe spot far away from the disaster.

Plan for money, food, shelter, water, fuel and all the rest. It is better to be pessimistic in your planning - if the "big thing" turns out to be a "little thing" it is good practice for that "worst case scenario" which may show up next.

Remembering the Battle of Midway 4- 7 June 1942

In the background of the build-up to the remembrances of the Normandy landings on 6 June 1944, it is good to take time to recall the an earlier, very important fight in the Pacific, as the Naval War College did with its Battle of Midway Commemoration featuring one of the authors of Shattered Sword: The Untold Story of the Battle of Midway, Jonathon Parshall.

Navy Live at DVIDS has the video at Battle of Midway Commemoration.

Art from the Navy Art Collection.