Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Reports of Sinking Ship - Possibly a Warship - Following An Explosion Off Somalia

This is a somewhat odd report from VOA Witnesses in Somalia Report Sinking Ship After Explosion
Officials and residents in Somalia's Puntland region say they saw a large ship off the country's coast explode and gradually begin to sink Monday.

Witnesses in the coastal town of Muranyo describe the ship as looking like a warship, although it was not possible to immediately identify the vessel. They say two other ships in the area came to the aid of the sinking ship and rescued its crew.

Black dot is approx location of Alulu
The region is frequently patrolled by the European Union Naval Force Somalia to disrupt piracy and protect vulnerable shipping, including World Food Program vessels.

"The ship sank around sunset on Monday. Then, two warships came. Locals saw them evacuating the crew. No one has contacted us and we had no ability to extend a rescue at nighttime," said Ali Shire Osman, the chairman of the northern Somali port town of Alula.

One witness described the scene to VOA's Somali service: "A huge explosion happened, which sent plumes of smoke mixed with waves of water into the air. It was a deafening blast and then the ship started to gradually sink," said Mohamed Ahmed. "Then two white warships came to the scene and are still there."
The town near where the incident happened is 44 kilometers east of Alula, which has been one of the pirate hubs in Somalia.
The proximity to Yemen may be related.

UPDATE: A possibe explanation from Maritime BulletinShip sank after explosion off Somalia coast – probably RAMA 2?:
// June 27: UK Coast Guard was alerted by Yemeni Coast Guard in the morning June 26, reporting sinking tanker RAMA 2 and lack of capacities to launch SAR. UK CG coordinated SAR, directing to sinking tanker nearby merchant ships. 12 out of 14 crew were rescued by nearby merchant ships, 1 was rescued by UK Navy helicopter, 1 is missing. SAR was hampered by adverse weather. Tanker said to carry some 3,000 tons of fuel on board.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Really? Containership Captain Says Collision with Destroyer "Not his fault"

Well, this Reuters report will get a lot of play, but my "Spidey sense" is pinging - and so I am not taking the captain of the container ship's word as gospel. But you can read it yourself at  Reuters Exclusive: U.S. warship stayed on deadly collision course despite warning - container ship captain . Here are things that make me wonder:
In the first detailed account from one of those directly involved, the cargo ship's captain said the ACX Crystal had signaled with flashing lights after the Fitzgerald "suddenly" steamed on to a course to cross its path. The container ship steered hard to starboard (right) to avoid the warship, but hit the Fitzgerald 10 minutes later at 1:30 a.m., according to a copy of Captain Ronald Advincula's report to Japanese ship owner Dainichi Investment Corporation that was seen by Reuters.
Really? Fitzgerald took the hit on the starboard side, just forward of amdiships. How does a ship in a
U.S. Navy photo by MC1 Peter Burghart/Released
"hard" right turn (in theory turning away from the destroyer) hit the starboard side of the ship it was trying to avoid. It just seems odd unless the Fitzgerald accelerated into the path of the container ship while it was in a turn. And 10 minutes into the turn the collision occurs? I really would have to do a manuevering board to figure out how this is possible. But if the container ship was doing 20 knots, that's 2000 yards every 3 minutes or about 7000 yards (~3.5 nautical miles) in 10 minutes. That's a lot of distance in which a collision could have been avoided.
Another focus of the probes has been the length of time it took the ACX Crystal to report the collision. The JCG says it was first notified at 2:25 a.m., nearly an hour after the accident. In his report, the ACX Crystal's captain said there was "confusion" on his ship's bridge, and that it turned around and returned to the collision site after continuing for 6 nautical miles (11 km).
Really? I can understand 'confusion" and I understand big ships take a while to manuever, but 12,000 yards after a collision in which you were involved you finally come about? What was your speed? In my experience the prudent thing for the container ship to do would have been to start slowing during that alleged 10 minutes after the Fitzgerald instead of continuing at speed.

Was there anyone on the bridge of the container ship at the time of the collision? There seems to be an argument that "Iron Mike" ("auto pilot") was driving the containership. See Freighter Was On Autopilot When It Hit U.S. Destroyer :
Tracking data broadcast from the Crystal as part of the Automatic Identification System (AIS) shows the ship changed course by 90 degrees to the right and slightly reduced its speed between around 1:32 a.m. and 1:34 a.m. After that time, the data shows the ship turned to the left and resumed a northeastern coarse along its original track line.

Private naval analyst Steffan Watkins said the course data indicates the ship was running on autopilot. "The ACX Crystal powered out of the deviation it performed at 1:30, which was likely the impact with the USS Fitzgerald, pushing it off course while trying to free itself from being hung on the bow below the waterline," Watkins told the Free Beacon.

The ship then continued to sail on for another 15 minutes, increasing speed before eventually reducing speed and turning around. "This shows the autopilot was engaged because nobody would power out of an accident with another ship and keep sailing back on course. It’s unthinkable," he added.

Watkins said the fact that the merchant ship hit something and did not radio the coast guard for almost 30 minutes also indicates no one was on the bridge at the time of the collision.

By 2:00 a.m., the freighter had turned around and headed back to the earlier position, according to the tracking data.
I'm sure the many investigations will sort all this out, but an apparently self-serving statement to the media from the capatain of the containership is not surprising at this point - not surprising - just not to be taken at face value without more evidence.

In a similar vein, Mr. Watkin's analysis should not be accepted as writ either without more.

Further, as investigations continue, the Fitzgerald's actions will be examined.

Wait for the final reports.

Southeast Asia Piracy: Pirates hijack Thai oil tanker, Steal Part of Cargo

Malaysia New Straits Times reports Pirates hijack Thai oil tanker, make off with 1.5mil litres of diesel:
A group of armed pirates hijacked a Thai oil tanker in waters off Kuantan and made off
with about 1.5 million litres of diesel fuel on June 23.

Asia News Network reported that the tanker, CP41, was boarded by pirates when it was en route from Singapore to the Songkhla province in southern Thailand.

The hijackers, who were equipped with guns and knives, had captured the captain and crew members during the incident before destroying communications equipment.

The men later proceeded to transfer the fuel into their ship and fled the scene.

The captain and crew members were left unharmed.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) Report 22 May - 21 June 2017 and Piracy Analysis and Warning Weekly (PAWW) Report for 15 - 21 June 2017

Sunday, June 25, 2017

On Midrats 25 June 2017- Episode 390: Summer Solstice Free For All

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 25 June 2017 for Midrats Episode 390: Summer Solstice Free For All
The days are too long and hot to spend all your Sunday outside, to pour some iced tea and join us live for a free for all!

We’re going to cover the maritime and national security breaking news from the USS FITZGERALD to Syria to any other topic that catches our fancy in a mostly random walk plan, so this is the time to ask us a question you’d like us to address, or even roll one of your questions our way.
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can pick the show up later by clicking that link or by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Hopalong Cassidy "Mystery of Skull Valley" (1950)

Hopalong Cassidy or Hop-along Cassidy is a fictional cowboy hero created in 1904 by
the author Clarence E. Mulford, who wrote a series of popular short stories and many novels based on the character.
In his early writings, Mulford portrayed the character as rude, dangerous, and rough-talking. He had a wooden leg which caused him to walk with a little "hop", hence the nickname. From 1935, the character—as played by movie actor William Boyd in films adapted from Mulford's books—was transformed into a clean-cut, sarsaparilla-drinking hero. Sixty-six popular films appeared, only a few of which were loosely based on Mulford's stories.
Big on TV, too.
The series and character were so popular that Hopalong Cassidy was featured on the cover of national magazines such as Look, Life, and Time. Boyd earned millions as Hopalong ($800,000 in 1950 alone), mostly from merchandise licensing and endorsement deals. In 1950, Hopalong Cassidy was featured on the first lunchbox to bear an image, causing sales for Aladdin Industries to jump from 50,000 to 600,000 in one year. In stores, more than 100 companies in 1950 manufactured $70 million of Hopalong Cassidy products, including children's dinnerware, pillows, roller skates, soap, wristwatches, and jackknives

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Shipping Traffic

Traffic at sea? You bet. Here's an image grabbed from MaritimeTraffic of actual ships using their AIS (Automatic Identification System) at sea world-wide:

And one of the area around Japan, with Tokyo in the red oval:

Traffic? You bet.

Potential for confusion? You bet.

Just keep it in mind.

Leadership Lesson of the Day: "Sometimes a fan room is not just a fan room"

A U.S. Navy Petty Officer, Korrie McKinney, relates a story of leadership that ought to be required reading for managers/bosses everywhere in the USNI Blog's ‘Show Me’ Leadership:
Eleven years later, I still use what I call the “Show Me” leadership style. Not only do I use it train my junior sailors; I use it to learn from them as well. This type of leadership builds teamwork, respect, and trust which is the foundation on which to lead a division or an organization.

My leadership training advanced over the years by walking around ships or bases where I have been stationed and asking sailors “What are you doing? What does it do? What is the purpose?” At first the sailors are confused because they have only had supervisors hovering over them to make sure tasks are done correctly. As they begin to explain their task, you can see the moment when they realize that the job assigned to them is important.
BZ, PO McKinney!

Deck plate management at its best.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Degrees of Seriousness

ABC News coverage of shoot down of Syrian fighter/bomber by U.S. Navy F-18:

ABC Breaking News

Good analysis about potential messages and effects begins about 1:24. Did the U.S. draw that "red line" about what behavior it will tolerate? How will Russian leadership (read "Putin") respond? Will this lead to a "tit for tat" response attempt by Syrians (w Russian backing) or will the Russians respond directly?

"Self-defense" of coalition partners would seem to be a pretty reasonable rationale for the action the U.S. took.

But really, this is one of those middle of the meter reading on the "Degrees of Seriousness" meter.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

In Case You Forgot: It's 90 Years After Lindbergh Flew the Atlantic

I missed it by a few weeks.

On May 21, 1927, Charles Lindbergh flew solo across the Atlantic, New York to Paris. Now over 90 years ago. See here:
On May 21, 1927, the aviator Charles A. Lindbergh landed his Spirit of St. Louis near Paris, completing the first solo airplane flight across the Atlantic Ocean.

Lindbergh was just 25 years old when he completed the trip. He learned to fly while serving in the Army and was serving as a United States Mail pilot when the New York hotelier Raymond Orteig announced a $25,000 prize for the first pilot to fly nonstop from New York to Paris, or Paris to New York. Lindbergh received financial support from a group of St. Louis businessmen to build a single-engine plane to make the journey. He tested the plane, called the Spirit of St. Louis, with a record-setting flight from San Diego to New York.
$25, 000 in 1927 is now worth a little over $350, 000.

Today we think nothing of flying across country or across oceans non-stop.

Someone successfully pushed the envelope.

It didn't have to be Lindbergh, but it was.

And the world changed.

Eight year before Lindbergh or 98 years ago, it took a Navy team 3 weeks to fly the Atlantic. See The Forgotten Fliers of 1919:
The flight of NC-4, its lessons and its blazing of the Atlantic airways, are largely
unknown today. Many Americans think Lindbergh made the first crossing; Englishmen applaud Alcock and Brown. At the time, some thought it not "sporting" that the Navy placed ships along the route to aid navigation, and that the flight took so long to accomplish. Still the NC-4 was, and ever shall remain... First Across the Atlantic!

But Lindbergh caught the imagination of the people and the rest is . . . progress.

It still takes brave men and women to accomplish such things. Brave and prepared men and women.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Archie Andrews "Don't Wake Father" (1949)

The show is not about Father's Day, but the advice works.

From the pages of the comic book, Archie Andrews, Veronica, Betty (a topic of much debate - Betty or Veronica - who was - um- better and why?)

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Good News: US shipping terminal reopens after 'dirty bomb' threat

US shipping terminal reopens after 'dirty bomb' threat
A terminal at the Port of Charleston in South Carolina will reopen and the safety zone has
Maersk image of containership
been lifted, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Thursday, after investigating a threat of a "dirty bomb" on a container ship.

It said the "original reporting source of the threat" had been detained for questioning.

Law enforcement agents scanned four containers aboard the Maersk Memphis ship in the Wando Terminal after reports of a "potential threat" on Wednesday, the Coast Guard said.

Maersk Line, the world's biggest container shipping company, said the U.S. Coast Guard had informed it of a threat of a dirty bomb aboard one of its vessels. It said all crew members were safe and ashore.

"Unified Command determines no existing threat to the port. Terminal will reopen and safety zone has been lifted," the U.S. Coast Guard said on Twitter.
Testing response or just a whack job being an idiot?

Fun with Iran: Stupid Transiting Ship Games and China Trade

Iran's low-cost international water harassment of transiting naval vessels continues, as reported by USNI News in Iranian Navy Missile Boat Harasses Three U.S. Navy Ships, Marine Helo in Strait of Hormuz:
Three U.S. Navy ships and a Marine helicopter were harassed during a night transit of the
U.S. Navy photo Houdong-class boats being shipped to Iran
Strait of Hormuz on Tuesday, U.S. 5th Fleet officials told USNI News on Wednesday.

An Iranian Navy Houdong-class guided-missile boat came within 800 yards of a formation of amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD-5), guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG-67) and dry cargo ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE-11) and harassed the formation beginning with shining a spotlight on Cole.

“Shortly thereafter, the Iranian vessel trained a laser on a CH-53E helicopter that accompanied the formation,” U.S. 5th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Bill Urban told USNI News on Wednesday.
“The Iranian vessel then proceeded to turn its spotlight on Bataan, scanning the ship from bow to stern and stern to bow before heading outbound from the formation.”

The encounter was, “unsafe and unprofessional due to the Iranian vessel shining a laser on one of the
formation’s helicopters. Illuminating helicopters with lasers at night is dangerous as it creates a navigational hazard that can impair vision and can be disorienting to pilots using night vision goggles.”
Latest in a series of Iranian tactics to "bother" the U.S.Navy as they enter the Arabian Gulf. Worth noting that these missile boats are part of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Navy, not the IRI Navy or at least they have been. . .

Probably just a bored crew of the Iranian boat looking for a little, albeit safe fun.

More info on the Iranian Navy and the IRGC Navy available from the U.S.Navy's Office of Naval Intelligence here.

On the other hand, the relationship between Iran and China seems to be going swimmingly. Report by Fars News Agency (Iran) China's Flotilla to Berth at Iranian Port
A Chinese naval flotilla will berth in Southern Iran as Tehran and Beijing maintain their
Strait of Hormuz, Bandar Abbas circled in red
determination to enhance naval cooperation, the Iranian Navy announced.

"The Chinese Navy flotilla will comprise two battle cruisers, a support vessel, and a helicopter," the Iranian Navy’s Public Relations Department said.

It said the Chinese flotilla, which had docked at Pakistan's Karachi port for training purposes, will dock at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas later in the day.
In relevant remarks on Tuesday, Chinese Ambassador to Tehran Pang Sen underlined anti-terrorism cooperation with Iran, adding that the two countries have strengthened their military cooperation and exchanges.

"The military exchanges between China and Iran are increasing day by day," Pang told reporters in a press conference in Tehran.

Stressing that Tehran and Beijing permanently hold talks and consultations on the fight against terrorism, he said, "China opposes any type of terrorism and is willing to bolster its cooperation with Iran and other countries (in anti-terrorism campaign) to jointly maintain regional and global peace and stability."

Elsewhere, Pang described China as Iran's largest trade partner in the past 8 years, and said, "The trade ties between the two countries reached $31bln last year."

In relevant remarks in May, Tehran's Ambassador to Beijing Ali Asqar Khaji announced that Iran's exports to China increased considerably in the first four months of 2017 compared to the same period last year.

"The volume of Iran's exports to China has increased considerably in terms of weight in the first four months of 2017 and amounted to 21.12mln tons, setting a record 31 percent boost compared with the same period last year," Khaji said.

Noting that China is the largest importer of Iran's non-oil products, he said the volume of the country's non-oil exports to China has reached 11.59mln tons, showing a 66% increase compared to the previous year.

Iran exports around 40 percent of its petrochemical products and 60-70 percent of the country’s polymer materials to China.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

More UAVS: Mine Detection System

The U.S. Navy's Office of Naval Research reports Navy Tests New Unmanned Mine-Detection System:
During a recent technology demonstration at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Dr.
ONR photo
Rosemarie Oelrich and Dr. Cory Stephanson unveiled a new way to detect buried and submerged mines.

Oelrich, a scientist at Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Carderock’s Combatant Craft Division, and Stephanson, president and chief executive officer of Broadband Discovery Systems (BDS), stared at an Android tablet showing search data from an unmanned aerial drone they had just flown. The device’s screen glowed as a green fluorescent map appeared, splashed with red clusters of varying sizes and shapes.

“See that large cluster?” asked Stephanson. “That’s the dummy mine we buried. The smaller blotches near it are construction rebar we found nearby. The drone detected and localized these items quickly and accurately, which would be extremely valuable in a real combat scenario.”

Oelrich and Stephanson were testing the new Mine Warfare Rapid Assessment Capability (MIW RAC) system. Sponsored by the Office of Naval Research’s (ONR) TechSolutions program, MIW RAC consists of a one-pound quadcopter outfitted with an ultra-sensitive magnetometer sensor system to detect mines and provide real-time search data to a handheld Android device.

“This technology will help Sailors and Marines who are approaching a beachfront to rapidly clear, or at least determine the location of, mines or other hazards that are in their way,” said ONR Command Master Chief Matt Matteson. “It could potentially save a lot of lives.”

MIW RAC is a portable, remote-controlled system that can detect buried or underwater mines during amphibious beach landings. It’s designed to help explosive ordnance disposal teams quickly find mines and dangerous metal obstacles within coastal surf zones and very-shallow-water zones. MIW RAC would provide a new, real-time aerial complement to existing underwater mine-detection capabilities.

“Everyone wants to know where they are going and what they are about to get into,” said Oelrich, who is overseeing the development of MIW RAC. “It helps to have a rapid capability to just fly something in the air and survey an area before you put troops on the ground or bring a vessel ashore.”

While the quadcopter and tablet device are available commercially, the heart of MIW RAC is its proprietary magnetometer sensor suite—which has an extensive detection range and uses complex algorithms to differentiate between various types of objects.

MIW RAC originated in 2015, when the Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) sent a request to ONR’s TechSolutions program for a portable system that could detect potential hazards in surf zones, be easy for warfighters to use and fit diverse platforms. TechSolutions is ONR’s rapid-response science and technology program that develops prototype technologies to address problems voiced by Sailors and Marines, usually within 12-18 months.

With TechSolutions guidance, NECC partnered with NSWC Carderock, Combat Direction Systems Activity Dam Neck and two commercial companies—BDS and Physical Sciences, Inc.—to develop the components of MIW RAC.

“We took our inspiration from a stationary scanning system developed by BDS,” said Oelrich. “It was sensitive enough to not only detect weapons, but identify the hidden location of the object on a person and the angle in which it was oriented—a knife in a front pocket or gun turned sideways, for example.

“We flipped that concept on its head,” she continued. “Instead of a stationary system detecting moving objects, we have a moving system detecting relatively stationary objects.”

Solar-Powered Long Endurance UAVs: Less Weight, More Hang Time

A problem with most UAVs is that they require some logistical support that adds to the burden of users in the field. The U.S. Naval Research Lab is looking at helping to solve some of that support problem with UAVs that are powered by solar as reported in NRL Tests Autonomous ‘Soaring with Solar’ Concept
The Solar Photovoltaic and Autonomous Soaring Base Program and the U.S. Marine
U.S. NRL photo
Corps' Expeditionary Energy Office (E2O) want to improve the ability of unmanned platforms to support a 24-7 information, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) mission. By doing so, the warfighter will greatly benefit because it will reduce the amount of batteries or fuel they must carry into battle, and improve the availability of continuous coverage of ISR assets.

“NRL has twice flown our solar UAV [based on the SBXC sailplane] over 10 hours using a combination of solar photovoltaics and autonomous soaring as part of the ‘solar-soaring’ research program,” said Dr. Dan Edwards, aerospace engineer. “This research is investigating the value of combining autonomous soaring algorithms and solar photovoltaics for capturing energy from the environment to extend flight endurance and mission operations of an aircraft.”

A photovoltaic array, custom built in NRL's Vehicle Research Section and Photovoltaic Section, is integrated into the center wing panel of the PV-SBXC aircraft as a drop-in replacement to the original wing. A power management and distribution system converts the power from the solar arrays into direct current (DC) voltage, which the electric motor can use for propulsion, or recharge a ‘smart battery.’

Additionally, an autonomous soaring software algorithm — that would typically monitor the local vertical winds around the aircraft — commands the aircraft to orbit in any nearby updrafts, very similar to soaring birds. However, the algorithm was disabled for the two solar flights in order to assess the solar-only performance. Passive soaring — meaning no specific maneuvers are attempted to catch thermals — was still allowed, to let the aircraft turn the motor off if altitude increased because of an updraft along the aircraft’s pre-defined flight path. The autonomous soaring software was tested extensively in previous flight demonstrations in late October 2015.
Sounds like a great use of technology.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Jack Benny "Bear Hunting From Maine" (1943)

Jack Benny, the comedian's comedian, master of timing does a WWII show from Bangor, Maine:

Mr.Benny was Navy man joining in 1917 during WWI.

On Midrats 11 June 2017 - Episode 388: On Tactics, with B.A. Friedman

Please join us at 5pm EDT 11 June 2017 for Midrats Episode 388: On Tactics, with B.A. Friedman:
In the Western concept of the military art, there is a food chain. The Political feeds
Strategic; Strategic the Operational; Operational the Tactical.

Among the military chatting classes, there is a lot of pondering and pontificating about strategy and operational concepts – but what about tactics?

If the Tactical level requires, ultimately, a Strategy to help define its purpose – besides logistics, shouldn’t’ the professional also talk tactics?

On this week’s show we’re going to explore that space with returning guest B.A. Friedman, Capt. USMCR, whose latest book from Naval Institute Press, On Tactics, examines the question in great detail.

Simply because of its location in the hierarchy, tactics are not a simple thing. As the author states,
“While the sinews of war may be infinite funds, the sinew of tactical prowess is a common outlook, one that contextualizes and unifies doctrine, history, and experience across a military force.”
Join us live if you can or pick the show up later by clicking here. Or you can pick the show up later by clicking that link or by visiting either our iTunes page or our Stitcher page.

Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Before D-Day and The Day After: Logistics, Logistics, Logistics

Yes, yesterday was the 73rd anniversary of the Allied landings in Normandy. You can read a lot about those landing here:
The Normandy invasion took place in the Bay of the Seine, on the south side of the English Channel between the Cotentin Peninsula and the port of Le Havre. Some fifty-five miles broad and twenty deep, its waters were shallow, had a considerable tidal range, and, when the wind blew from the northward, could be very choppy. The planned landing beaches covered about forty-five miles of the Bay's shoreline. Westernmost was "Utah" Area, stretching eight miles southward along the low-lying southeastern coast of the Cotentin Peninsula. Directly to the east was "Omaha" Area, covering twelve miles of generally hilly terrain. United States forces were assigned to take both of those areas, with important assistance from the navies of Great Britain and other Allies. British and Canadian troops would assault the areas code-named "Gold", "Juno", and "Sword", which ran twenty miles eastward from "Omaha". This sector ended at the mouth of the Orne River, some fifteen miles west of Le Havre, where the German Navy based a group of potentially very dangerous torpedo boats.

The actual landing beaches occupied a fraction of the width of each area, but were
intended to provide sufficient initial footholds to allow rapid reinforcement and expansion inland, with the attacking soldiers joining their flanks to create a continuous beachhead perimeter before the enemy could mount a major counterattack. Each area would be assaulted by approximately one army division, with initial landings being made by much smaller units at 6:30AM in the American areas and about an hour later in the British. Their arrival on the shore was to follow a bombardment by ships' guns and aircraft ordnance, kept relatively brief to maintain as much as possible of the element of surprise. As a result, German shore defenses frequently remained intact, and would prove troublesome to both the landing forces and ships offshore.

To protect the invasion zone's western extremity, and to facilitate the "Utah" landing
force's movement into the Cotentin Peninsula, the U.S. 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions descended by parachute and glider in the small hours of "D-Day", 6 June 1944. Though badly scattered and lacking much of their equipment, these brave paratroopers kept the Germans occupied and helped ensure that the "Utah" Beach assault went relatively easily. The British and Canadian attacks, assisted by an air-dropped division on their eastern flank and a longer naval bombardment, generally also went well.

Not so in the "Omaha" area, where deep beaches backed by steep hills meant that the U.S. troops landing there were exposed to withering fire from enemy small arms, machine guns and artillery. Casualties were very heavy and the assult only succeeded after a day of brutal fighting, with warships coming in close to provide direct gunfire in support of the hard-pressed soldiers.

By nightfall on the sixth of June, the situation was favorable, even on Omaha. Entered the popular culture as THE "D-Day", a name it has retained ever since.
As impressive as the landing were, it is important to remember that the landings would not have been
possible without the huge build up of men, material and machinery that went into Normandy, too. Today we should give pause to honor those in the world of logistics who made these landings and those in North Africa, Italy, and the islands of the Pacific possible.

And by honor I mean thinking about what it took to mine the iron, smelt the metal, design and build ships, aircraft, landing craft, rifles, artillery pieces, tanks, bombs, bullets, drill for and produce and refine the petroleum products that powered the fleets of ships, air forces, tanks, trucks, grow and harvest the grains, raise the cattle and other food for the forces abroad and at home . . . to the often overlooked merchant shipping industry ships and crews who transported all these things to England, Italy, North Africa and throughout the Pacific, thereby sustaining not only the fleets, Marines, armies but also much of the civilian populations of countries like Great Britain.

For more background on U.S. logistics during WWII, you can get a version of the whole story at The Big 'L'--American Logistics in World War II:
A remark by a captured German soldier best summarizes the importance of logistics in the battle for Europe in World War II. As he was marched past one of the many roadside supply dumps that dotted the Normandy landscape in the wake of the invasion, he was heard to remark "I know how you defeated us. You piled up the supplies and then let them fall on us." He was right. The war in Europe was what the Germans called materialschlact, "matériel battle." It was a "matériel battle" on a scale greater than any other conflict in history, a contest pitting the industrial capacities of Germany and the United States against each other. In the end, triumph was the result of the ability, of the United States to mobilize its industrial capacity" to provide the instruments of war for its troops and those of its allies and to deliver them where and when they were needed--to pile them up and let them fall.

Logistics in the European Theater of Operations (ETO) is a massive and complicated subject, one that accounts for thousands of pages in the official histories of the war. Although these events are over a half century past, the fundamental issues that concerned World War II logisticians--how to know what you need and how to get it where you need it when you need it--are the same problems their successors face today. . .
The story of theater logistics in WWII is not a unitary one; rather, it is two distinct stories. The Pacific and European theaters of operation were each unique in their strategic geography and military situation. In the European theater, the basic logistical task was to mass strength in a secure forward base to support operations--both land and air--against a nearby enemy. The United States entered the war after the British had forestalled Hitler's plans for a cross-Channel invasion. Therefore, Great Britain afforded a large, secure staging ground for the buildup of combat power. Moreover, as an advanced industrial nation, Great Britain possessed the ports, rail lines, and other facilities to support a massive influx of material and personnel. This buildup would require large numbers of ships to transit a single, highly vulnerable line of communication, the Atlantic route from the United States to England.

With the notable exception of the Battle of the Atlantic, the war in Europe is largely an Army story. The Army provided the theater commander and virtually the entire theater logistical structure. ...
(Barry Dysart, Chapter VII)

Here's quick summary of what D-Day meant in terms of logistics:

Sustainment of forces in the field is a challenge in any war. D-Day and its aftermath was the creation of a huge number of unsung heroes.

Give them a little thought and a tip of the hat.

Friday, June 02, 2017

On Midrats 4 June 2017 - Episode 387: Looking at the Chinese Navy at 2030, with Patrick Cronin

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 4 June 2017 for Midrats Episode 387: Looking at the Chinese Navy at 2030, with Patrick Cronin

2030 is as close to us today as 2004, only 13 years.

As we look at various ways to maintain a Navy at the level at which we have become accustomed, the People’s Liberation Army Navy of China is building step by step as their economic power and global influence grows.

The world will see a dramatically different PLAN in 2030 relative to now, and as the present global naval superpower, our assumptions and plans need to be ready for it.

Our guest this Sunday to discuss this and more will be Dr. Patrick Cronin, Senior Advisor and Senior Director of the Asia-Pacific Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Previously, he was the Senior Director of the Institute for National Strategic Studies (INSS) at the National Defense University, where he simultaneously oversaw the Center for the Study of Chinese Military Affairs.

As a starting point for the discussion, we will review the major points of CNAS recent publication, Beyond the San Hai: The Challenge of China’s Blue-Water Navy.
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Friday Film: The Naval Aviator (1950)

Thursday, June 01, 2017

"A new era of digital underwater communications" Says NATO

NATO announces "A new era of digital underwater communications" 
Satellites and mobile phones, built on international standards, help the world get
connected. But the communications technology we use on land does not work well underwater. As water covers over 70 per cent of the earth's surface, NATO has sponsored research into establishing the first ever digital underwater communications standard.
CMRE is working to support effective underwater communication networks to allow undersea robots to work together and report back home (see the infographic on Digital Underwater Networked Communications).

"Robots can behave intelligently and act as a team," says João Alves, Principal Scientist and Project Leader at CMRE. “For example, one of the robots could find some interesting feature and call the rest of the team.”

With effective undersea communication, this can all happen in an autonomous way, without requiring direct human intervention. If needed, the operation can be managed by land-based engineers who monitor all the communications from a command and control room ashore. The connection to land is made through gateway buoys on the surface of the water equipped with radio links to local support platforms or satellites.

“This is particularly important for search-and-rescue operations,” says John Potter, a scientist at the CMRE Strategic Development Office. “Autonomous vehicles are relatively inexpensive and of course unmanned, so they can be sent to do dirty, dangerous jobs.”
To be able to communicate with each other, underwater assets need common standards. “In the air we can simply connect our gadgets to any WiFi hotspot without having to worry about the compatibility,” says João Alves. “Until now, there wasn’t anything even remotely similar for the underwater domain.”

As with the industry standard for WiFi communication, an undersea communication standard has to be defined in order to guarantee the interoperability between equipment from different manufacturers.

For the past ten years, CMRE has been working on the development of the first international digital underwater communication protocol, known as JANUS, which is now an approved NATO standard.

“JANUS was a Roman god of openings and gateways,” says John Potter. “That’s why it is called JANUS, because this language opens the portal between two domains, two different operating paradigms, through which they can talk.”

“It is a digital underwater signalling system that can be used to contact underwater devices using a common format; announce the presence of a device to reduce conflicts; and enable a group of underwater devices (that can be underwater robots, submarines, divers or any other equipment operating under the surface) to organise themselves into a network,” adds John Potter.

Adopted globally, JANUS can make military and civilian, NATO and non-NATO devices interoperable, providing them all with a common language with which to communicate and arrange to cooperate.

JANUS has been extensively tested at sea in exercises involving a number of partners (universities, industries and research institutions) covering a range of application scenarios. Close collaboration with NATO Allies has been particularly fruitful in developing JANUS for use in cases that may improve the safety of maritime operations.