Tuesday, May 31, 2016

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence : Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 26 April - 25 May 2016

Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 26 April - 25 May 2016:

Also, not in the report yet, Guyana Pirates:
Police said the cutlass-wielding pirates attacked the Guyanese fishermen at about 11 PM on Friday, May 27, 2016, dumping the five fishermen aboard and carting off their outboard motor. The captain, Seepersaud Persaud, was rescued but one of his fishermen, Hemchand Sukhdeo of Number 55 Village, Corentyne, died and his body was recovered. Feared dead are Dhanpaul Rampaul of No. 67 Village, Corentyne, Dochand “Bucher”, 54, of No. 55 Village, Corentyne; and 26-year old Munesh “Boyo” Churram.
“We are working along with our Surinamese counterparts to see if we can recover bodies,” said the Divisional Commander.
The Divisional Commander said investigators were also working to ascertain whether the detainees were also responsible for a second vessel that was attacked the same night. No one aboard that vessel was injured but the boat’s engine was stolen.

Saturday, May 28, 2016

Friday, May 27, 2016

Friday Fun Films: Russian Ekranoplan Ground Effect Vehicles

Yes, they are in Russian:

You can learn more about GEVs here.

Obviously, they were so highly successful that we all travel in them now . . .

Thursday, May 26, 2016

U.S. Navy: Mark VI Patrol Boats in Arabian Gulf

As reported by Defense News here
"The Mark VI patrol craft can go up to speeds in excess of 35 knots and has a robust communications system, nine weapons platforms, including three remotely operated systems that are two .50-caliber machine guns up top, and a 25mm cannon up front," Weinreb said at a preview of the boat at the 5th Fleet base in Bahrain.
More from Sea Power magazine (June 2016) from the U.S. Navy League:
The MkVI is the Navy’s first true patrol boat, larger than riverine craft, introduced since the mid-1980s. The Navy operated a large number of small riverine craft and Swift boats in Vietnam during the 1960s and early 1970s. It also operated some Norwegian-built Nasty-class patrol boats — similar in design to World War II-era PT boats — in support of special operations
forces in Vietnam and later.
The MkVI is a variant of SAFE Boats’ 780 Archangelclass patrol boat, which has been in service since 2005 and currently serves in the navies of more than a
dozen nations. It has an overall length of 85 feet anda waterline length of 78 feet, and is powered by twin diesel engines driving water jets. The boat is able to
reach speeds of 35 knots and has a range of 600 nautical miles.

The boat features a pilothouse, flying bridge and main-deck cabin. The pilothouse is configured with
shock-mitigating seating with integrated work stations for the crew. The climate-controlled cabin has berthing, galley and head/shower facilities for the crew to
endure extended operations.

The Mark VI is heavily armed for a boat of its size, with two BAE Systems-built remote-controlled Mk38 Mod2 25mm Bushmaster rapid-fire cannons, plus two stabilized small-arms mounts and multiple crew-served weapon mounts.
The Navy is incorporating some upgrades in the MkVI.

“The MkVI PB has incorporated two emerging requirements, an unmanned underwater vehicle launch-and-recovery system and a wideband satellite communications system,” Rozicer said. “Both systems provide the MkVI PB broader capability in the mine countermeasures mission area and communications with other nearby Navy assets.”

An older video:

Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Chinese Artificial Islands: Ecological Disaster

Odd we aren't seeing more outcry against China's total disregard for environmental matter as in VOA's report from January 2016 Marine Biologists: Artificial Islands Devastating South China Sea Ecosystems
Between 2012 and 2015, Chinese fishermen have used large, extended propellers affixed to utility boats to chop the reefs and prepare for the construction of artificial islands.

Fishermen scour the ocean floor for giant clam shells, which are prized as jewelry and luxury items that sell for up to $150,000.

According to Dr. John McManus, a University of Miami marine biologist, while building on the reefs is not new, China’s large-scale construction of a military base and runways is resulting in unprecedented environmental damage.

“Suddenly we have this massive situation where large areas of coral reef are being buried," he said. "In the end it was almost 13 square kilometers — 13 million square meters — that was destroyed, just in terms of being buried under these islands, and this was a huge, huge shock.”

China’s Foreign Ministry has said the artificial islands are to be used for civilian purposes, search and rescue missions, as well as defense.
Well, I guess that makes it all right, then.


Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Food Fight: Pirate Fishing Boats to be Shunned

"Tens of countries sign up to shut pirate fishers out of their ports" reports The Guardian's Emma Bruce:
. . . a momentous new treaty, led by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO), aims
to shut down this convenient network. Known as the Port State Measures Agreement (PSMA), the treaty, which comes into full force on 5 June, requires signatory countries to inspect or stop suspicious fishing vessels from entering their ports. Under the banner of the rule, countries that have signed now hold a legal obligation to, quite literally, leave illegal fishers out in the cold.

Over the past several years, the effort to get the treaty ratified has been quietly ticking away in the background, as countries have been slowly adding their names to the list of signatories. Recently, a spate of newcomers—Gambia, Sudan, Thailand, and Tonga among them—pushed the number above the 25 required to bring the treaty into force. And last week it reached 30 signatories, a total that includes the United States, and the European Union, which counts as one entity.

The PSMA completely changes the focus of enforcement. Whereas in the past, the battle against pirate fishing has been fought predominantly on the waves, requiring huge resources, manpower, and time to track mostly elusive pirate fishers, this new rule turns ports into the first line of defence.
Gee, I wonder what country's fishing fleet is the biggest violator of such fishing laws?

See here. And here:
Some 294 Chinese fishing boats and 2,905 Chinese fishermen have been caught so far this year illegally fishing in Korean territorial waters.

Oh, and this gCaptain report, South Africa Arrests Chinese Squid Poaching Ships:
South Africa’s navy has detained three Chinese ships with around 100 crew on board on suspicion of illegal squid fishing, officials said on Monday.

The ships were spotted on Friday having entered South Africa’s 200 nautical mile economic exclusion zone without permits. When South African officials asked the ships to sail to port they attempted to flee but were eventually captured.

“We cannot tolerate the plundering of our marine resources, which are a source of food security,” Agriculture and Fisheries Minister Senzeni Zokwana said in a statement.

“We are also looking into the sudden influx of these vessels in our waters.”

The three vessels – Fu Yuan Yu 7880, Fu Yang Yu 7881 and Run Da 617 – had a combined total of almost 600 tonnes of squid when the navy escorted them to shore. Inspectors found all three ships had no permits to fish locally.
The Chinese lack respect for other people's property while loudly proclaiming non-existent rights for themselves.

This cannot be allowed to stand or it's back to primitive "red in tooth and claw" lawlessness.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

On Midrats 22 May 2106 - Episode 333: The Battle of Jutland & the Time of the Battleship with Rob Farley

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 22 May 2016 for Episode 333: The Battle of Jutland & the Time of the Battleship with Rob Farley:
We are coming up on the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Jutland.
Stop for a moment, close your eyes, and then tell me what image comes to mind.
HMS Iron Duke

If your image is of a huge mass of steel coming at you out from the mist at 25-knots belching out sun-blocking clouds of coal-smoke and burned black powder and searing fingers of flame pushing tons of armor-piercing explosives, then this is the show for you.

For the full hour this Sunday we will have as our guest a great friend of the show, Robert Farley. We will not only be discussing the Battle of Jutland, but battleships in general in the context of his most recent book titled for clarity, The Battleship Book

Rob teaches defense and security courses at the Patterson School of Diplomacy at the University of Kentucky. He blogs at InformationDissemination and LawyersGunsAndMoney. In addition to The Battleship Book, he is also the author of, Grounded: The Case for Abolishing the United States Air Force.

Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. You can also find the show later at our iTunes page here or at Stitcher.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Quiet Please! "The Thing on the Fourble Board"

A nice bit of horror:

Quiet, Please! was a radio fantasy and horror program created by Wyllis Cooper, also known for creating Lights Out. Ernest Chappell was the show's announcer and lead actor. Quiet, Please debuted June 8, 1947 on the Mutual Broadcasting System, and its last episode was broadcast June 25, 1949, on the ABC. A total of 106 shows were broadcast, with only a very few of them repeats.
Earning relatively little notice during its initial run, Quiet, Please has since been praised as one of the finest efforts of the golden age of American radio drama. Professor Richard J. Hand of the University of Glamorgan, in a detailed critical analysis of the series, argued that Cooper and Chappell "created works of astonishing originality"; he further describes the program as an "extraordinary body of work" which established Cooper "as one of the greatest auteurs of horror radio."

Fourble Board:
a platform at a height of 80 feet or more above the floor of an oil derrick

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Hear the rattle, fear the bite

I always thought rattlesnakes were a North American thing, but perhaps an analogy can be drawn to the Swedish situation vis-a-vis
Russsia, as set out in thsi Aviation Week headline, Russian Aggression Driving Swedish Gripen, Sub Investments:
Sweden’s investment in new Gripen fighters and diesel-electric submarines is being driven forward by increased Russian aggression in the Baltics, the country’s defense minister says.
“We have seen a lot of investments in their [Russian] armed forces, and we have also seen that they are ready to use these capabilities to fulfill their political goals,” Hultqvist told reporters May 17.

“There are more in exercises and intelligence activities on our neighbors. We and the Baltic States feel a level of tension toward Russia.”
...n addition, it will clear the way for the creation of a battle group on the Baltic island of Gotland, with mechanized and armored units. It will be formed in 2018.

“We think it is necessary to have this level of capability for the situation we now have,” Hultqvist says.

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

"Assuming" - a major error in international relations

Interesting reading on how assumptions, even with close allies, can be troublesome - here in the case of Australia and the problems China raises, from the Lowy Institute for International Policy in Sydney:  The problem with American assumptions about Australia. First, a very nice description of what China is possibly doing to the international rule of law:
China's rise is not a threat in and of itself. But if Chinese leaders believe that they are not bound by international laws and norms, or that they can intimidate China's smaller neighbors into waiving their sovereign rights — as recent actions in the South China Sea would suggest — then China's rise could undermine the system that has served to foster an extraordinary run of peace and prosperity in this region for the last 25 years, with devastating consequences for the region, including Australia and the US.
But, the article goes on, it is a mistake for the U.S. to "assume" that this means all Aussies see the same threat level as some Americans do:
American officials frequently err, however, in assuming that the Australian defence community's views reflect a broader consensus in Australian society, or even the backbenches of parliament. As Rory Medcalf and James Brown noted in their Lowy Institute analysis in 2013, very few parliamentarians expressed much interest in defence policy. To the extent more do today, much of it seems to be motivated by rent-seeking in acquisitions. The Lowy Institute Poll last year showed that 77% of Australians see China as 'more of an economic partner to Australia' than 'a military threat.' Despite increased Chinese assertiveness over the previous few months, only 39% of Australians said they saw China as likely to be a military threat to Australia in 20 years, 9% fewer than the year before.

These views are particularly noticeable among elites in Australia's financial centres. The Wall Street Journal's editorial page seemed surprised to find former Prime Minister John Howard, 'sitting high above Sydney's sparkling harbor... [to be] cool when asked about China's maritime aggression in recent years.' But Howard reflects the sanguine view from executives in the office towers of Sydney and Melbourne, and among commercial elites in Australia's other capital cities.

In several corner suites, moreover, there is a concern, not that the Chinese leadership might be undermining the rules-based order, but that the US is recklessly raising tensions with China in a contest for regional primacy. This view holds that Australia's closeness to the US could pull it into a conflict that is not in Australia's interests. Such arguments overrate the risk of conflict between the US and China, and underrate the importance of the rules–based order to Australian prosperity. Some in the Australian defence community discourage their American counterparts from taking these arguments seriously, breezily declaring their proponents to be soft on China. But the Australians making them are not uninfluential.
Recommended reading.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Back to Firing Squads

If society, through its court system says someone deserves to die for their heinous acts, I guess its
time to go back to the firing squad because Pfizer acts to stop its drugs being used in lethal injections:
It has emerged that the largest US pharmaceutical company, Pfizer, recently took steps to prevent its drugs being used in lethal injections.

"We strongly object to the use of any of our products in the lethal injection process for capital punishment," the company said.

It stressed that its products were meant to save the lives of patients.

The move reportedly shuts off the last remaining open market source of drugs used in executions in the US.
Bullets, on the other hand . . .

Probably not unusual.

Probably not cruel.

Just another form of lethal injection delivered at 200 fps.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Groucho Marx in "You Bet Your Life" (1949)

You Bet Your Life:
You Bet Your Life is an American quiz show that aired on both radio and television. The original and best-known version was hosted by Groucho Marx of the Marx Brothers, with announcer and assistant George Fenneman. The show debuted on ABC Radio on October 27, 1947, then moved to CBS Radio debuting October 5, 1949 before making the transition to NBC-TV and NBC Radio on October 4, 1950. Because of its simple format, it was possible to broadcast the show simultaneously on radio and television. June 10, 1960 was the last episode aired in its radio broadcast format.

On Midrats 15 May 2016 Episode 332: August Cole, Co-Author of Ghost Fleet

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 15 May 2016 for Midrats Episode 332: August Cole, Co-Author of Ghost Fleet

The best fiction doesn't just entertain, it informs and causes the reader to think.

Our guest for the full hour this week is August Cole, the co-author with P.W. Singer of one of the best received military fiction novels on the last year, Ghost Fleet: An Novel of the Next World War.

August is an author and analyst specializing in national security issues.

He is a nonresident senior fellow at the Brent Scowcroft Center on International Security at the Atlantic Council where he directs The Art of the Future Project, which explores narrative fiction and visual media for insight into the future of conflict. He is a non-resident fellow at the Modern War Institute at the United States Military Academy (West Point). He is also writer-in-residence at Avascent, an independent strategy and management consulting firm focused on government-oriented industries.

He also edited the Atlantic Council science fiction collection, War Stories From the Future, published in November 2015. The anthology featured his short story ANTFARM about the intersection of swarm-warfare, additive manufacturing and crowd-sourced intelligence.

He is a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal in Washington and an editor and a reporter for MarketWatch.com.
Please join live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. In alternative, you can also get the show on our iTunes page here or on Stitcher

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Screw FONOPS - Let's Play Hardball in the South China Sea

The South China Sea is not now, nor should it ever become, a Chinese "lake."

Allowing China to have its way in the region is not good for international commerce, surrounding nations and the bodes ill for further Chinese expansionism as it asserts some fabricated "historical usage" right to waters that it sailed in "once upon a time." That "once upon a time" ended hundreds of years ago when China, due to internal reasons, abandoned the high seas and ended its exploration of the world.

Now, however, having read Mahan and studied its position in the world, China has decided that its "manifest destiny" lies in invading both international waters and the domestic waters of its neighbors to force them into a world where their adjacent seas are dominated by Chinese warships (including its large, aggressive "Coast Guard") as well as by a militia force of fishing vessels. Why? To create a 'strategic strait'?
"The logical conclusion drawn from China's adding ... islands in the southern part of the South China Sea with military-sized runways, substantial port facilities, radar platforms and space to accommodate military forces is that China's objective is to dominate the waters of the South China Sea at will," Peter Dutton, professor and director of the China Maritime Studies Institute at the U.S. Naval War College, said in a February speech at London's Chatham House.

"Building the islands is therefore, in my view, a significant strategic event," he said. "They leave the potential for the South China Sea to become a Chinese strait, rather than an open component of the global maritime commons."

Tuoi Tre News
The proof of this Chinese approach is daily recounted in news reports of the shouldering or ramming non-Chinese fishing vessels, in the aggressive response of Chinese military forces to military aircraft and ships transiting in what the rest of the world recognizes as "international waters" but which the Chinese are intent on grabbing. See Dangerous rocks in the South China Sea from the Washington Post:
Having made a “rebalancing” toward Asia a pillar of his foreign policy, President Obama may face a fateful test from China in his final months in office. President Xi Jinping already broke a promise he made to Mr. Obama not to militarize islets his regime has been building up in two parts of the South China Sea. Now Beijing appears to be contemplating building a base on a contested shoal just 150 miles from Subic Bay in the Philippines. A failure by the administration to prevent this audacious step could unravel much of what it has done to bolster U.S. influence in the region.
Disputed islands per Inhabit.com (red flags with yellow star = Vietnam; red/blue striped flag = Malaysia; other red/white/blue flag = Philippines; red flag with star in upper left = China)

Chinese development of Scarborough Shoal, a collection of rocks and coral reefs it seized from the Philippines four years ago, would escalate its already-belligerent behavior in the South China Sea in a number of ways. Until now, Beijing’s landfill work and construction of airstrips have occurred on islets it already controlled that are considerably closer to the Chinese mainland. Scarborough Shoal lies about 500 miles from China. A base there could allow Chinese radar and missiles to threaten Manila, as well as Philippine bases where U.S. forces are positioned.

Perhaps most importantly, the Chinese venture would concretize Beijing’s refusal to abide by international law in resolving territorial disputes with its neighbors.
The nations surrounding the South China Sea (SCS) are either arming themselves or inviting allies to "come back" and show a level of possible force.

One response of the United States has been to sail naval vessels into the SCS and conduct "Freedom of Navigation Operations" or "FONOPS."

These SCS FONOPS are discussed in a National Interest article by Zack Cooper and Bonnie S. Glaser, How America Picks Its Next Move in the South China Sea which describes the U.S.'s tiptoeing in and around the Chinese island building and aggression in the SCS. This is certainly a nice, nuanced approach to the situation, sending signals that are meant to warn the Chinese but without raising the stakes too high.

It also isn't working.

Fiery Cross Reef
The Chinese have moved from area to area, building military bases on artificial island after artificial island, with the latest efforts in the Spratly Islands.

As noted in several of the links above, China and the Philippines are awaiting a ruling from from an arbitration panel over the Chinese claims to the SCS - a ruling China has already denounced, despite many good reasons why it shouldn't.

As was discussed during one of the Midrats podcasts, Episode 321: The Year of the Monkey in the South China Sea w/Toshi Yoshihara (starting about 16:21), China views international law as not being binding because, it does not reflect Chinese "traditions." but rather "Western legal traditions" because of differing historical perspectives - China wants to start with "history first" as Dr. Yoshihara expressed it.

History may not be "bunk" but certain "historical events" are completely ignored by the Chinese as the make their claims, including World Wars I and II, and the last 70+ years of free access to the seas granted to the Chinese around the world brought to them courtesy of the Western world, especially by the U.S. and its allies.

When China was building up its large merchant shipping force, who was protecting freedom of the seas?

Hint - it wasn't the Chinese navy.

If any country could have made the SCS into a "lake" it would have been the U.S. following WWII - but which, instead, backed out of the area.

 China, not content with a free sea, is trying to fill what it perceives as a void and is not getting much in the way of push-back.

It's time the international community did something stronger than FONOPS, which are weak tea at best.

Sea Launch  Odyssey company photo
My modest proposal is to send a properly modified self-propelled drilling rig into the area and have it anchor itself at or near one of those SCS rock formations that China claims but which are generally not uncovered by the sea. Man the thing with scientists who ought to be screaming their heads off about the changing of the ecological state of the SCS by the Chinese island building campaign. Fly the UN flag. Support it from the Philippines, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and
Ocean Odyssey before modifications
any other SCS stakeholders.

In short, it is time to quit playing soft games with the Chinese and move to hardball. Time to challenge every encroachment. Time to move to a higher level of activity. Time to increase the signal strength, if signaling is still needed.

Use this "sea base" as the locus of naval exercises involving those stakeholders and Aussies, Japanese, South Koreans and anyone else who chooses to play - except the Chinese.

Oh. and by the way, we need to take a look at Guam's status, too. 51st state. anyone?

Time to re-look at building up Midway? Wake Island?


Saturday, May 07, 2016

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Mother's Day and "The Aldrich Family" (1940)

About The Aldrich Family:
The Aldrich Family, a popular radio teenage situation comedy (July 2, 1939-April 19, 1953), was also presented in films, television and comic books. In the radio series' well-remembered weekly opening exchange, awkward teen Henry's mother called, "Hen-reeeeeeeeeeeee! Hen-ree Al-drich!", and he responded with a breaking adolescent voice, "Com-ing, Mother!"

Friday, May 06, 2016

Gulf of Guinea Piracy/Thuggery Continues: Chevron Platform in Niger Delta Attacked

Chevron Platform in Niger Delta Attacked:
Chevron has confirmed that militants have attacked one of its platforms
Map source
off the Escravos Bar, in the Niger Delta region. Chevron Nigeria Limited, operator of a joint venture with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), said that the attack took place just after 11 PM on Wednesday. The “Okan offshore facility in the Western Niger Delta region was breached by unknown persons," said Chevron in a statement to Reuters. "The facility is currently shut-in and we are assessing the situation, and have deployed resources to respond to a resulting spill."
Local media reports – which could not immediately be confirmed – said that the facility had been attacked with explosives, but differed widely in assessments of the damage.

A spokesman for the Nigerian Navy, Commodore Chris Ezekobe, told PunchNG that the platform was “partially damaged,” and that it was an oil and gas collection point for the area. He said that the Navy had deployed additional vessel assets to protect nearby installations.
All the more reason to be developing U.S. resources.

Friday Fun Films: Diesel Engines

Thursday, May 05, 2016

Gulf of Guinea Sea Kidnappers and Ransom Seekers: A Suggested (Historical) Method of Dealing with Them

In the Times of Marius and Sylla, Rome was in her greatest Strength, yet she was so torn in Pieces by the Factions of those two great Men, that every Thing which concerned the publick Good was altogether neglected, when certain Pyrates broke out from Cicilia, a Country of Asia Minor, situate on the Coast of the Mediterranean, betwixt Syria on the East, from whence it is divided by Mount Tauris, and Armenia Minor on the West. This Beginning was mean and inconsiderable, having but two or three Ships, and a few Men, with which they cruised about the Greek Islands, taking such Ships as were very ill arm’d or weakly defended; however, by the taking of many Prizes, they soon increased in Wealth and Power: The first Action of their’s which made a Noise, was the taking of Julius Cæsar, who was as yet a Youth, and who being obliged to fly from the Cruelties of Sylla, who sought his Life, went into Bithinia, and sojourned a while with Nicomedes, King of that Country; in his Return back by Sea, he was met with, and taken, by some of these Pyrates, near the Island of Pharmacusa: These Pyrates had a barbarous Custom of tying their Prisoners Back to Back and throwing them into the Sea; but, supposing Cæsar to be some Person of a high Rank, because of his purple Robes, and the Number of his Attendants, they thought it would be more for their Profit to preserve him, in hopes of receiving a great Sum for his Ransom; therefore they told him he should have his Liberty, provided he would pay them twenty Talents, which they judg’d to be a very high Demand, in our Money, about three thousand six hundred Pounds Sterling; he smiled, and of his own Accord promised them fifty Talents; they were both pleased, and surpriz’d at his Answer, and consented that several of his Attendants should go by his Direction and raise the Money; and he was left among these Ruffians with no more than 3 Attendants. He pass’d eight and thirty Days, and seemed so little concerned or afraid, that often when he went to sleep, he used to charge them not to make a Noise, threatening, if they disturbed him, to hang them all; he also play’d at Dice with them, and sometimes wrote Verses and Dialogues, which he used to repeat, and also cause them to repeat, and if they did not praise and admire them, he would call them Beasts and Barbarians, telling them he would crucify them. They took all these as the Sallies of a juvenile Humour, and were rather diverted, than displeased at them.
At length his Attendants return’d with his Ransom, which he paid, and was discharged; he sail’d for the Port of Miletum, where, as soon as he was arriv’d, he used all his Art and Industry in fitting out a Squadron of Ships, which he equipp’d and arm’d at his own Charges; and sailing in Quest of the Pyrates, he surpriz’d them as they lay at Anchor among the Islands, and took those who had taken him before, with some others; the Money he found upon them he made Prize of, to reimburse his Charges, and he carry’d the Men to Pergamus or Troy, and there secured them in Prison: In the mean Time, he apply’d himself to Junius, then Governor of Asia, to whom it belonged to judge and determine of the Punishment of these Men; but Junius finding there was no Money to be had, answered Cæsar, that he would think at his Leisure, what was to be done with those Prisoners; Cæsar took his Leave of him, returned back to Pergamus, and commanded that the Prisoners should be brought out and executed, according to Law in that Case provided; which is taken Notice of, in a Chapter at the End of this Book, concerning the Laws in Cases of Pyracy: And thus he gave them that Punishment in Earnest, which he had often threatned them with in Jest. (emphasis added)
Image source and explanation, for which I am thankful, 20? MAKE IT 50!:
Green = Rome;
Red = Rhodes (where Julius Caesar finally arrived to study after his adventures with the pirates);
Blue = Cilicia (Where the pirates came from);
Light Blue = Pergamon (Where the pirates were brought to justice);
Black = Pontus (The nation that fought Rome several years back making Cilicia a great place for piracy!)

Wednesday, May 04, 2016

Sports Headlines I Thought I'd Never See: Improving Cricket Safety

Unaware as I was about a worrisome rash of serious injuries in the sport of cricket (a game whose intricacies still elude me), I was shocked by by The Economist's headline Improving cricket safety: Better cricket helmets are no substitute for good batting technique:
The best way to face this kind of bowling is to watch the ball and sway out of the way. This is a skill that responsible coaches still teach. To this end, Mr Cook and Mr Trott are right to trust in their abilities. But even players of the calibre of the English duo make mistakes, and the sport does not need to lose any more great players to injury. Cricket is at its best when it is combative and aggressive—and when all 13 players leave the field healthy.
You see the real problem, right?

No game can be played safely with 13 players on a side.

Triskaidekaphobia should not be denied.

Besides, I understood only 11 players were on a side. Of course, that's a Wikipedia reference, so ...

UPDATE: Well,of course, "batting" in cricket is done in pairs. 2 (batters) + 11 (fielder, etc) =13 on the field at any given moment. Still, there is that 13 thing.

Fun with Iran or Bold Talk from a Salami: "We will close the Strait of Hormuz to the U.S. if it 'threatens' us"

AP reports on a very conditional threat in Iranian commander threatens to close Strait of Hormuz to US
The deputy commander of Iran's powerful Revolutionary Guard said Iranian forces will
close the strategic Strait of Hormuz to the United States and its allies if they "threaten" the Islamic Republic, Iranian state media reported on Wednesday.

The comments by Gen. Hossein Salami, carried on state television, follow a long history of both rhetoric and confrontation between Iran and the U.S. over the narrow strait, through which nearly a third of all oil traded by sea passes.

The remarks by the acting commander of the Guard also follow those of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who on Monday criticized U.S. activities in the Persian Gulf. It's unclear whether that signals any new Iranian concern over the strait or possible confrontation with the U.S. following its nuclear deal with world powers.

In his remarks, Salami said that "Americans should learn from recent historical truths," likely referring to the January capture of 10 U.S. sailors who entered Iranian waters. The sailors were released less than a day later, though state TV aired footage of the sailors on their knees with their hands on their heads.

"If the Americans and their regional allies want to pass through the Strait of Hormuz and threaten us, we will not allow any entry," Salami said, without elaborating on what he and other leaders would consider a threat.

He added: "Americans cannot make safe any part of the world." (emphasis added)
I dunno there, "Insane" Salami, we're not so threatened by the outside world here in the U.S. that we do all the nasty things you do to your people to keep them in line. I consider that a pretty high level of "safety." In fact, Iran's leadership always reminds me of the Brain:

For those unfamiliar with Hussein "Insane" Salami, he is prone to threatening all sorts of stuff:
Iran vows to hit any country that stages attack:
Iran will target any country where an attack against it is staged, a senior Revolutionary Guard commander warned Sunday, the latest Iranian threat tied to growing tensions over its nuclear program and Western sanctions.

Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy commander of the elite Revolutionary Guard, Iran‘s most powerful military force, did not elaborate. His comments appeared to be a warning to Iran‘s neighbors not to let their territory or airspace be used as a base for an attack.

Iran says it won’t return U.S. drone:
Iran will not return a U.S. surveillance drone captured by its armed forces, a senior commander of the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard said Sunday.

Gen. Hossein Salami, deputy head of the Guard, said in remarks broadcast on state television that the violation of Iran’s airspace by the U.S. drone was a “hostile act” and warned of a “bigger” response. He did not elaborate on what Tehran might do.
Well, now we know, Iran could possibly try to close the Strait of Hormuz. Maybe. Or something.

Ho. Hum.

UPDATE: In retrospect, I should have titled this post "More Baloney from Salami"

Tuesday, May 03, 2016

Sea Piracy,Sea Robbers and the 2015 Oceans Beyond Piracy Report

Oceans Beyond Piracy has issued its 2015 report on State of Maritime Piracy 2015: Assessing the Human and Economic Cost which I commend to your reading. The good news is that the overall trend line of sea piracy is down. However . . .

From the Executive Summary
Western Indian Ocean Region
Despite reduced spending, international efforts in the Indian Ocean continued to suppress major attacks. However, several recent hijackings of regional vessels could signal an increased threat.

Gulf of Guinea

The Gulf of Guinea is the most dangerous region for seafarers with a rise in violence across the year and an increase in kidnap-for-ransom in the fourth quarter of 2015.

Southeast Asia

Cooperative regional measures in Southeast Asia resulted in steep declines in piracy attacks in the second half of 2015.
A couple of quick points - 52% of the Gulf of Guinea )GoG) piracy incidents occur within the territorial water of a state (making them acts of sea robbery and internal crimes to the state where the incident occurred). Ship hijacking is a minor part of a larger scheme of robbery and crew kidnapping in the GoG. In addition, crew members get killed in the GoG, with 23 murders in 2015.

No large commercial vessels have been hijacked in the waters off Somalia, but the smaller "regional" vessels have been taken and crews captured.

Piracy may have fallen off in the second half of 2015 in Southeast Asia waters, but, as you can see from the maps below, the first have must have been busy.

From the excellent work done by the International Maritime Bureau of the ICC, here are two maps of piracy incidents, the first being for 2015 for the area described int the OPB report, the second for the current year to 2 May:


2016 to 2 May

Monday, May 02, 2016

Attacks from the Sea on Cruise Ships, Tankers and Other Things

In researching questions for Captain Bob Hein and our Midrats show Episode 330: Terrorists on the Ocean, I was struck by the number of incidents that ought to act as a warning that terrorist attacks are already being made.

I include 3 Hollywood movies, one based on a real event, the others, well, food for thought.

I'm sure with time I can add many, many more.

Assault on a Queen
A motley crew of treasure hunters plan to rob the cruise-liner RMS Queen Mary, using a recovered WW2 German submarine.

Speed 2
A computer hacker breaks into the computer system of the Seabourn Legend cruise liner and sets it speeding on a collision course into a gigantic oil tanker.

ISIS Rocket Attack on Ship 2015

The Hijacking of the Achille Lauro
The story of the hijacking of the Itallian liner Achille Lauro by four militants of the Palestine Liberation Front, in 1985, who demanded the release of several Palestinians incarcerated in Israeli prisoners. On their hands, lies the fate of several passengers, many Americans included and among them, Jewish American businessman Leon Klinghoffer.

Attack on USS Cole. Midrats show with CO of Cole at time of attack Episode 121: Front Burner: The Attack on the USS COLE

Attack on oil tanker Limburg

Experts: ISIS Poses Terrorist Threat to Cruise Ships in Mediterranean

Maritime Terrorism: Risk and Liability

al Qaeda Planned to Seize Cruise Ships, Execute Passengers

Documents reveal al Qaeda's plans for seizing cruise ships, carnage in Europe

UK Naval Commander Warns that ISIS Could Target Cruise Ships in Mediterranean

A Guerilla War at Sea

Some details on the nuisance rocket attack on US ships in August (2005)

Suez canal terror attack alert (2005) Altering behavior of shipping

Video: Terrorists Launch Rocket Attack at Commercial Ship in Suez Canal 2013

Isis in the Sinai claims Egypt's vessel 'rocket attack and destruction'

A Worst Case Scenario: Guerilla Type War in the Littorals

Bomb caused Philippine ferry fire:
The 10,000 ton Superferry 14 was heading for Bacolod in the central Philippines when it caught fire, on 27 February 2004.

According to officials, 116 of the 900 people onboard are now presumed to have died, although only 63 bodies have been recovered.

The report into the fire has now concluded it was caused by "an explosive device," national police spokesman Superintendent Leopoldo Bataoil said in a statement.

Investigators believe the Superferry was targeted because its owners, WG&A, refused a request for $1m in protection money from Abu Sayyaf in 2003 .

Possible Abu Sayaff at Seat Kidnapping Off Philippines

Attack on Sri Lankan Galle Harbor and Rebel suicide blasts hit Sri Lankan resort

Sri Lanka:Terrorist/Pirate "Sea Tigers" Sunk?

Sri Lankan Navy takes on Tamil Sea Tigers

Mumbai Attack

Hezbollah Attack Using C-802 Missile