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Thursday, December 31, 2020

New Year's Eve Thoughts

End of the year thanks to all those in uniform, whether military, police, firefighters, EMTs. Been a tough year and you all have done as well as you could have under the conditions you have faced.

Thanks to Red Cross workers (both volunteer and staff), doctors. nurses, dentists, medical lab techs, pharmacy employees, pharmacy company scientists. The front line is everywhere now.

Thanks to those who grew the crops and raised the poultry, beef, pigs, and other meats. Thanks to those who provide the fish and shrimp.

Thanks to the truck drivers, river towboat crews, dock workers, refinery workers, oil and gas field hands. Thanks to the power company workers who have kept our lights on. To the coal miners, gas collectors and suppliers, who have kept our heat on, thanks. You all delivered the goods.

Thanks to the grocery workers at the local stores who have kept the shelves stocked, cleaned the carts, checked us out.

Thanks to the distillers who switched to producing the alcohol we use for hand sanitation and to the hundreds of individuals and companies who turned out masks of all types.

Thanks to the sports associations, college and professional, who have found a way to provide entertainment despite the hurdles.

Thanks to the clergy who have kept the faith and found creative ways to minister to their flocks.

Thanks to my neighbors who have taken the time to check on one another and who have shown the quiet strength of Americans.

None of us wanted 2020 to be like, well, 2020. But thanks to all of you who have refused to be beaten down.

Final words from Tennyson:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

We are not now that strength which in old days

Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;

One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will

To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Arctic Operations: We Really, Really Need the Right Equipment and an Arctic Port

The U.S. Chief of Naval Operations has a nice tweet regarding the "Arctic region" here.

However, as noted in the March 2020 Seapower here:

Unlike the South China Sea and other contested areas, the U.S. Navy does not have the capability to conduct freedom-of-the-seas operations in the icebound waters of the Arctic, a key Pentagon official conceded.

With only one heavy and one medium icebreaker and no Navy ships with hulls hardened against ice, “We do have limitations in the Arctic right now,” James H. Anderson, assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans and capabilities, told a readiness subcommittee of the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 3 during a hearing on U.S. military readiness in the Arctic.

***

In addition to a deficit of ice-hardened hulls, Sullivan said the U.S. lacks a strategic port on — or even near — the Arctic Ocean that could handle repairs or refueling of large Navy or even U.S. Coast Guard vessels.

“Russia has close to a dozen or two dozen ports,” he said, noting the closest viable port at Anchorage or Dutch Harbor, Alaska, was 1,000 nautical miles or more from Arctic waters. In addition to ports and military bases, Russian President Vladimir Putin has 54 icebreakers, Sullivan said. “He’s got all the cards.”

The dearth of ice capable ships is not this CNO's fault, but goes back years and years.

For example, here are a couple of posts I put up in 2007 and 2008, reproduced in their entirety:

From 2007

Reported here. Assuming that the ice caps are melting away and there is an ice free passage across the North Pole, then...

When the commander of the U.S. Coast Guard thinks of future trouble spots, his focus is increasingly to the north — the vast waters around a melting polar ice cap.

Once almost totally inaccessible to shipping and oil drilling, the region poses new opportunities for economic activity, as well as new challenges for those who patrol its frigid seas.

"If you go into a life raft 20 miles off the coast of North Carolina, chances are you are going to see the Coast Guard in a few hours," Adm. Thad Allen says. "If you go into life rafts at the edge of the Arctic ice cap, there are questions about when you should expect help to arrive."



The Arctic is still relatively empty but stands to become more crowded in coming years as several countries stake their claim to its rich oil and gas reserves. The increased maritime traffic has made the Arctic a more significant focus for the Coast Guard in the past six months, Allen says.

"We're like the cop on the beat up there," he says. That beat is massive — about half of the USA's 90,000 total miles of coastline is in Alaska.

***

Ice in the Arctic sea has decreased by nearly 20% over the past two decades, and "it would not be beyond the realm of possibility to have an ice-free route across the top of Russia sometime in the next five or 10 years," Allen says.

Such a route would shave up to 5,000 miles — a week's sailing time — off the journey between the North Atlantic and the North Pacific, he says, attracting ships that otherwise would have transited the Panama or Suez canals. Allen says there has also been heavier traffic in the Bering Sea between Alaska and Russia. He says it could become an international waterway similar to the English Channel or the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia.

The reduction in ice sparks competing claims among the eight nations that border the Arctic: the United States, Russia, Canada, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland and Denmark (which controls Greenland).

Russia claims 460,000 square miles of the Arctic as an extension of its continental shelf under a 1982 treaty that set guidelines for dividing undersea resources.

See earlier post on the on-going land grab effort here.

From 2008

From the Heritage Foundation The New Cold War: Reviving the U.S. Presence in the Arctic:

As an Arctic nation, the United States has signif­icant geopolitical and geo-economic interests in the High North. The U.S. should not only have a place at the table, but also seek a leadership role in navi­gating the nascent challenges and opportunities, such as disputes over the Outer Continental Shelf, the navigation of Arctic sea-lanes, and commercial development of natural resources and fisheries.

To play this role and to vindicate its interests, the U.S. needs to continue swiftly mapping the Arctic, build a modern U.S. icebreaker fleet, and work with its Arctic partners in bilateral and multilateral ven­ues. The U.S. needs to revitalize its Arctic policy and commit the necessary resources to sustain America's leadership role in the High North.

Read the whole thing. Check earlier posts on this topic by clicking on labels below, especially "arctic", "polar sea routes."

Fault finding will get us nowhere, the need is to look to our allies who operate in these waters and see if, among the hull types we need they have some ice-hardened ships whose designs we can obtain. Now.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Quote of the Week



From Sir John Cowperthwaite

... in the long run, the aggregate of the decisions of individual businessmen, exercising individual judgment in a free economy, even if often mistaken, is likely to do less harm than the centralized decisions of a Government; and certainly the harm is likely to be counteracted faster.

More about Sir John:

He arrived in Hong Kong in 1945 and was assigned to the Department of Supplies, Trade and Industry.[2] He was asked to find ways in which the government could boost post-war economic outlook but found the economy was recovering swiftly without any government intervention.[3] He took the lesson to heart and positive non-interventionism became the focus of his economic policy as Financial Secretary.[3] Cowperthwaite built on the economic policies of his predecessors, Arthur Clark and Geoffrey Follows, promoting free trade, low taxation, budget surpluses, limited state intervention in the economy, a distrust of industrial planning, and sound money.[2] It was a policy mix that drew more on Adam Smith and Gladstone than on Keynes and Attlee. However, Cowperthwaite was a pragmatic civil servant rather than a theoretician and he based his policies on his experience, empirical data and what he believed would work in practice.[4] He refused to compile GDP statistics arguing that such data was not useful to managing an economy and would lead to officials meddling in the economy.[5] He was once asked what the key thing that poor countries could do to improve their growth. He replied: “They should abolish the office of national statistics.”[6] According to Catherine R. Schenk, Cowperthwaite's policies helped it to develop from one of the poorest places on earth to one of the wealthiest and most prosperous: "Low taxes, lax employment laws, absence of government debt, and free trade are all pillars of the Hong Kong experience of economic development."[7] The Economic Freedom of the World 2015 Report ranks Hong Kong as both the freest economy in the world, a distinction it has held since this index began ranking countries in 1975, and among the most prosperous.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 26 November to 23 December 2020

U.S. Navy Office of Naval I... by lawofsea

Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Sunday, December 20, 2020

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #22 "Kirmit The Hermit"


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


On Midrats 20 December 2020 - Episode 572: 2020 Year End Summary



Please join us at 5pm on 20 December 2020 for Midrats Episode 572: 2020 Year End Summary

2020 has been a year … that is an understatement. From the maritime and national security perspective what were the bold-faced items that changed the outlook the most. While COVID-19 absorbed much of everyone’s time, the world kept turning and history kept moving.

Using our ever-popular melee format – open topic, open chat room and open phones for Midrats’ end of the year review.

We’ll be live and hope you’ll join us this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern.

DON’T MISS IT!

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.



Thursday, December 17, 2020

Wednesday, December 16, 2020

Monday, December 14, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #17 "The Wall Of Doors"


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 12 November to 10 December 2020

U.S. Navy Office of Naval I... by lawofsea

Another Tanker Attacked in Saudi Red Sea Port

ABC News report "External source" causes oil tanker blast off Saudi Arabia :

An oil tanker off Saudi Arabia's port city of Jiddah suffered an explosion early Monday after being hit by “an external source,” a shipping company said, suggesting another vessel has come under attack off the kingdom amid its yearslong war in Yemen.

The attack on the Singapore-flagged BW Rhine, which had been contracted by the trading arm of the kingdom's massive Saudi Arabian Oil Co., marks the fourth assault targeting Saudi energy infrastructure in a month.

It also apparently shut down Jiddah port, the most important shipping point for the kingdom, which later said a bomb-laden boat like the remote-controlled ones used by Yemen's Houthi rebels caused the explosion.

Photo from Shipspotting.com

Sunday, December 13, 2020

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #15 "O'Gigraf The Lion"


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


On Midrats 13 December 2020 - Episode 571: Naval Primacy is America's Best Strategy, with Jerry Hendrix


Please join us at 5pm EST on 13 December 2020 for Midrats Episode 571: Naval Primacy is America's Best Strategy, with Jerry Hendrix

When trying to get a grasp on the best way to secure the nation's security and interests, why should Americans look to the sea?

Do American's assume or take for granted what three-quarters of a century of American dominance of the high seas gifted them?

Is this assumption in danger?

Where do we stand and what steps need to be taken to secure what every American living assumes is their birthright?

To discuss this and related issues the Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be one of our favorite guests, Dr. Jerry Hendrix, CAPT USN (Ret.), and author of the upcoming book, To Provide and Maintain a Navy: Why Naval Primacy is America's First, Best Strategy.

Since retirement, Jerry has remain engaged in the full breadth of national security issues while at The Telemus Group and Center for a New American Security.

When on Active duty, his staff assignments include tours with the CNO’s Executive Panel, the Office of the Undersecretary of Defense for Policy, and the OSD Office of Net Assessment.

His final active duty tour was the Director of Naval History.

He has a BA in Political Science from Purdue University, Masters Degrees from the Naval Postgraduate School (National Security Affairs) and Harvard University (History) and received his doctorate from King’s College, London (War Studies).

He has twice been named the Samuel Eliot Morison Scholar by the Navy Historical Center in Washington, DC, and was also the Center’s 2005 Rear Admiral John D. Hays Fellow. He also held the Marine Corps’ General Lemuel C. Shepherd, Jr. Fellowship. He authored the book Theodore Roosevelt’s Naval Diplomacy and received a number of awards, including the United States Naval Institute’s Author of the Year and the Navy League’s Alfred T. Mahan Award for Literary Achievement.

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.



Friday, December 11, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #14 "Jonathan Wakes Up From The Witch's Spell"


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


Friday Film: Grampaw Pettibone Gripes (1945)

About Grampaw Pettibone:

In 1943, Lt. Robert Osborn, in collaboration with Commander Seth Warner, created the “sage of safety” character for a column in the BUAER News Letter produced by the Bureau of Aeronautics to address the increasing aircraft mishap rate. Osborn’s illustrations commingled with Warner’s narrative accounts of aircraft accidents. Following a description of a mishap, the old curmudgeon aviator railed at young fliers for making stupid mistakes. More than one aviator caught in a pinch in the sky has suddenly remembered a timely pearl of wisdom from Gramps that helped the flier avoid a costly- and perhaps fatal-error.

Osborn is also the creator of more than 2,000 of the famed “Dilbert the Pilot” and “Spoiler the Mechanic” posters. These safety gems were liberally displayed in hangars and aboard ships during WW II and into the 1950s. In addition, he produced “Sense” pamphlets, which gave WW II fliers common sense safety rules on aviation subjects, such as “Flight Deck Sense.”

Thursday, December 10, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #13 "Crossing the Frozen River"


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


Testing An Autonomous Jet Squadron

Good analysis here:

Boeing has announced that it has successfully carried out flight tests using five high-performance pilotless jet aircraft. The aircraft operated as a team without any intervention required from humans. Testing was conducted at the Queensland Flight Test Range in Cloncurry, Australia. It demonstrated the aircraft’s ability to use onboard command and control along with data sharing capabilities, allowing collaboration amongst the squadron.

Hat tip: Instapundit

Suffice it to say, a handful of semi-autonomous loyal wingmen fighting alongside each piloted jet would be a great force multiplier. UAV wingmen could act as scouts, missile trucks, “attritable” ground strike bombers, or even as kamikazes against antiaircraft missiles targeted at the piloted aircraft.

More here:

Loyal Wingman is a new unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) being developed by Boeing Australia in collaboration with the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF).

The advanced unmanned system will be able to fly alongside the existing manned aircraft and will use artificial intelligence (AI) to conduct teaming missions. It is capable of performing surveillance, reconnaissance, and early warning missions.

Wednesday, December 09, 2020

Tuesday, December 08, 2020

Monday, December 07, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #10 "Jonathan In The Witch's Dream Cave"


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


Pearl Harbor Day


Great history lesson here:

World War II came to the United States of America on Sunday morning, 7 December 1941, with a massive surprise attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy. "Like a thunderclap from a clear sky," Japanese carrier attack planes (in both torpedo and high-level bombing roles) and bombers, supported by fighters, numbering 353 aircraft from six aircraft carriers, attacked the U.S. Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor in two waves, as well as nearby naval and military airfields and bases. The enemy sank five battleships and damaged three; and sank a gunnery training ship and three destroyers, damaged a heavy cruiser, three light cruisers, two destroyers, two seaplane tenders, two repair ships and a destroyer tender. Navy, Army, and Marine Corps facilities suffered varying degrees of damage, while 188 Navy, Marine Corps, and U.S. Army Air Force planes were destroyed. Casualties amounted to: killed or missing: Navy, 2,008; Marine Corps, 109; Army, 218; civilian, 68; and wounded: Navy, 710; Marine Corps, 69; Army, 364; civilian, 35. Japanese losses amounted to fewer than 100 men and 29 planes.

Sailors, Marines, and Soldiers fought back with extraordinary courage, often at the sacrifice of their own lives. Those without weapons to fight took great risk to save wounded comrades and to save their ships. Pilots took off to engage Japanese aircraft despite the overwhelming odds. Countless acts of valor went unrecorded, as many witnesses died in the attack.

About that photo:
USS Arizona (BB-39) ablaze, immediately following the explosion of her forward magazines, 7 December 1941. Frame clipped from a color motion picture taken from onboard USS Solace (AH-5

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 5 November to 2 December 2020

U.S. Navy Office of Naval I... by lawofsea

Saturday, December 05, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #8 "Whiskery Bill The Squirrel "


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


On Midrats 6 December 2020 - Episode 570: From Fleet to the NSC, with Mark Vandroff


Please join us at 5pm EST on 6 December 2020 for Midrats Episode 570: From Fleet to the NSC, with Mark Vandroff

Midrats regulars and all sound thinking navalists rejoiced earlier this year when one of our favorites were offered the honor to serve once again - in this case one of our favorite guests and all around great guy, Mark R. Vandroff, Captain, USN (Ret.)

Mark found himself back in the mix with his appointment as Deputy Assistant to the President, Senior Director, Defense Policy and Strategy at the National Security Council.

Just in time for the holiday season, Mark will come visit us for the full hour to talk about his experience so far at the NSC, the NSC in general, and other related topics that may come up in the process.

A 1989 graduate of the United States Naval Academy, Mark was the 10th Major Program Manager for the Arleigh Burke Class Destroyer program and the 37th Commanding Officer of NSWC Carderock. Immediately before coming to the White House, he was the Vice President of Maritime Programs at Zenetex, LLC. He holds a Master’s of Science in Applied Physics from the Johns Hopkins University and is a frequent contributor to the Naval Institute’s “Proceedings” and online publications such as Strategy Bridge and CIMSEC. The programs he led have been the recipient of some of Department of Defense’s highest awards for acquisition excellence, including the 2011 Secretary of the Navy’s Competition Excellence Award and the 2012 David Packard Award. Mark was recognized by the American Society of Naval Engineers with 2018 Gold Medal award for excellence in naval engineering.

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.

Thursday, December 03, 2020

Wednesday, December 02, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #5 "The Merry-Go-Round River"


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


Fun with China: Sanctions Against the China National Offshore Oil Corporation

Sometimes, strategy includes economic "warfare," as China well knows from its actions againts those countries that dare to criticize it - like Australia. However, China itself is subject to such strategies, which the Trump administration has been using with some effect. What follows is a look at one such move.

World Oil Report links a Bloomberg report U.S. sanctions China’s CNOOC on drilling in disputed South China Sea:

China’s third-biggest oil company faces a U.S. blacklist, which could spur major outflows from its Hong Kong-listed unit, after years of involvement in offshore drilling in disputed South China Sea waters.

China National Offshore Oil Corp., the nation’s main deepwater explorer, is among four companies to be added to a list of firms owned or controlled by the Chinese military, Reuters reported. The move comes as the Trump administration plans several new hard-line moves against Beijing in the final weeks of its term.

***

CNOOC is the smallest of China’s so-called big three state-owned oil majors after China National Petroleum Corp. and China Petrochemical Corp., also known as Sinopec. CNOOC’s operations in the South China Sea have run into controversy because China claims drilling rights in waters far from its borders, and within 200 miles of countries like Vietnam and the Philippines.

***

U.S. investors held 16.5% of the shares in CNOOC’s Hong Kong-listed unit as of Friday, creating potential for major outflows if they’re forced to divest, according to Henik Fung, an analyst with Bloomberg Intelligence. President Donald Trump signed an order this month barring American investments in Chinese firms owned or controlled by the military. The unit, Cnooc Ltd., fell 14% on Monday.

CNOOC also owns U.S. oil and gas fields, partners with companies like Exxon Mobil Corp. on international projects, and uses American technology and equipment. Any disruption along those lines would have a “huge impact” on the company, said Sengyick Tee, an analyst at SIA Energy in Beijing.

***

CNOOC has been at the center of territorial disputes in the South China Sea since 2012, when it invited foreign drillers to explore blocks off Vietnam that Hanoi’s leaders had already awarded to companies including Exxon Mobil and OAO Gazprom. In 2014, the countries traded accusations that each other’s boats had rammed vessels, including around a CNOOC oil rig near the Paracel Islands.

About those disputes, a report from 2014 by the Peterson Institute for International Economics (PIIE) CNOOC's Offshore Energy Aspirations in the South China Sea:

However, since 2012, CNOOC’s attempts to move production further into the South China Sea have been at the center of territorial-related tensions between China and Vietnam. In 2012, CNOOC offered a series of nine oil exploration blocks to outside investors, which conflict with Vietnam’s territorial claims in the South China Sea (shown in orange below).



 

Now, with the possibility of a different administration in Washington, you can guess that the Chinese will not be idly sitting by to see whether this strategy of punishing China for its abuses of international law and its internal humanitarian abuses will continue. You can bet they'll be lobbbying hard to have these sorts of sanctions eliminated.

China as Bully: Harassing the Other Nations Along the South China Sea




Excellent read from the LA Times'Shashank Bengali and Vo Kieu Bao UyenSunken boats. Stolen gear. Fishermen are prey as China conquers a strategic sea:

Unfazed by rising global criticism, China's navy, coast guard and paramilitary fleet has rammed fishing boats, harassed oil exploration vessels, held combat drills and shadowed U.S. naval patrols. The escalating show of force has overwhelmed smaller Southeast Asian states that also claim parts of the sea, one of the world's busiest fishing and trade corridors and a repository of untapped oil and natural gas.

Beijing's maritime expansionism illustrates not only the Chinese Communist Party's growing military might, but also its willingness to defy neighbors and international laws to fulfill President Xi Jinping's sweeping visions of power.

In its strategic quest to dominate the waterway separating the Asian mainland from the island of Borneo and the Philippine archipelago, China has built military outposts on disputed islands and reefs that, according to Xi, "are Chinese territory since ancient times ... left to us by our ancestors." The network of bases, harbors and landing strips deep in international waters has created a buffer for China's southern coastline, further encircled Taiwan and challenged the Pentagon's ability to move ships into Asia.

"It appears that China is rapidly developing the capabilities to exclude other navies from the South China Sea," Bill Hayton, an author and associate fellow at the Chatham House think tank, told a congressional commission in September.

Read the whole thing.

Anyone who asserts China is a benign power is dangerously wrong. Its leadership will push and push and push because they know that no major power wants to go to war to fight for Vietnamese fishermen or the other hundreds of harassing events that occur daily in the South China Sea.

Like the fable of boiling frogs by turning up the heat incrementally, China's way is to slowly rachet thing up until they have reached their goal, each click of the rachet designed to not be enought too provoke war, but eventully gaining China's dominance in the region.

See also Oriana Skylar Mastro's Beijing’s line on the South China Sea: “Nothing to see here” about China's bold face lying:

China’s strategy in responding to concerns about its intentions in the South China Sea is to claim that none of the activities, statements or behaviours that concern other countries are actually happening.

China claims it has not militarised the South China Sea, but that the United States “is the real pusher of militarisation” in these waters. Its leaders often argue that China is a peace-loving country only interested in defending itself. As the China’s General Wei Fenghe stated at the Shangri-La Dialogue in 2018, “China has never provoked a war or conflict, nor has it ever invaded another country or taken an inch of land from others. In the future, no matter how strong it becomes, China shall never threaten anyone.”

China has similarly brushed off concerns of other claimants, such as Vietnam, about its intensifying military exercises in the South China Sea and largely ignored Australia’s assertion at the United Nations that China’s claims have no legal backing.

So apparently it is all one big misunderstanding.

The rest of the piece destroys that "misunderstanding" allegation quite thoroughly.

Tuesday, December 01, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #4 "In The Valley Of The Three Dwarfs"


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


Not Too Surprised - "Navy will scrap fire-ravaged Bonhomme Richard"


Navy Times report by Geoff Ziezulewicz here:

The U.S. Navy will not repair the amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, which burned for more than four days this summer in San Diego.

In the end, resurrecting the devastated large-deck amphib would have been too costly, Rear Adm. Eric Ver Hage, commander of the Navy Regional Maintenance Center, told reporters Monday.

Use the money that repairs would have cost to build more frigates.

U.S.Navy photo by MC2 Austin Haist

Monday, November 30, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #3 "Jonathan Meets Gorgonzola The Horse"


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


Proxy Wars: Iran Sends a Message to the Saudis and Threatens World Oil Supplies Again




Nice coverage and assessment of an attack on an oil tanker at Ship Attacked in Saudi Arabian Red Sea:

An oil tanker came under attack while at a Saudi Arabian terminal in the Red Sea about 125 miles north of the country’s border with Yemen, according to the vessel’s owner.

The Agrari, a so-called Aframax-class vessel able to haul about 700,000 barrels of oil, was holed about 1 meter above the waterline in the incident, a statement distributed on behalf of the carrier’s owner said. The incident took place as the ship was preparing to leave a berth at the Shuqaiq facility, having finished unloading its cargo, it said.

***

“There’s definitely an uptick of attacks from the Yemen side of the border onto Saudi Arabia to try and attempt to send a signal that it’s not just in the Strait of Hormuz and in the Persian Gulf that Iran has the ability to undermine Saudi oil interests and naval activities,” said Ayham Kamel, head of Middle East and North Africa at Eurasia Group, which advises clients on political risk.

More information from the International Business Times here:

The blast on the Maltese-flagged Agrari tanker follows a string of attacks by the Iran-linked rebels on Saudi oil infrastructure, highlighting the growing perils of a five-year military campaign led by the kingdom in Yemen.

The tanker was "attacked by an unknown source" while it was preparing to depart from the Red Sea port of Shuqaiq, its Greece-based operator TMS Tankers said, adding that no injuries were reported.

"The Agrari was struck about one meter above the waterline and has suffered a breach," TMS Tankers said in a statement.

"It has been confirmed that the crew are safe and there have been no injuries. No pollution has been reported."

***

But Wednesday's incident comes as the Iran-backed rebels step up attacks on neighbouring Saudi Arabia in retaliation for the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen.

On Monday, the Huthi rebels said they struck a plant operated by energy giant Saudi Aramco in the western city of Jeddah with a Quds-2 missile.

The strike, which underscores the vulnerability of Saudi Arabia's infrastructure and the rebel's advancing arsenal, tore a hole in the roof of an oil tank, triggering an explosion and fire.

Earlier this month, a fire broke out at a Saudi oil terminal off the southern province of Jizan after two explosives-laden boats launched by the rebels were intercepted by the coalition, according to the kingdom's energy ministry.

On Tuesday, the coalition said it had destroyed five naval mines planted by the Huthis in the southern Red Sea, saying such tactics posed a "serious threat to maritime security".

Saudi Arabia has repeatedly accused Iran of supplying sophisticated weapons to the Huthis, a charge Tehran denies.

Saudi Arabia is stuck in a military quagmire in Yemen, which has been locked in conflict since Huthi rebels took control of the capital Sanaa in 2014 and went on to seize much of the north.

The Saudi-led coalition intervened the following year to support the internationally recognised government, but the conflict that has shown no signs of abating.

Plugging My Brother's Book, The Last Western


If you are looking for a short, interesting book, I recommend my brother Rone Tempest's The Last Western:
Award-winning journalist and investigative reporter Rone Tempest presents the gripping true crime story of a Puerto Rico-born undercover officer gunned down by a white Wyoming lawman in 1978 — and the notorious frontier trial that followed. Of all the possible explanations for why lawman Ed Cantrell shot and killed his deputy Michael Rosa in the parking lot of the Silver Dollar saloon, the least likely was the one that prevailed at trial—that a deranged Rosa went for his gun and Cantrell outdrew him in self-defense.

Sunday, November 29, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #2 "Jonathan Promises To Find Santa Claus"


Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


Update: Had a bad link, now fixed.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Christmastime Old Radio Shows: Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon #1 "Santa Claus Is Kidnapped By The Squeebublians"

About

Jonathan Thomas and His Christmas on the Moon is a daily children’s series that ran between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1938.


I'll be running this show in order from now until the shows end - 26 shows.

Thursday, November 26, 2020

Giving Thanks

My many blessings include my wife of almost 50 years. 4 great children and their loved ones, 3 grandchildren, and the family, mentors, and friends who have helped me along the way. And the people I have had the pleasure to work with over the years, from the sailors who taught me so much to the Red Cross volunteers of today.

Thanks to and for them all.

As Dennis Prager notes here, "If You're Not Grateful You're Not Happy"

So be grateful for what you have, for the chance to grow, improve, and love.

It's a much better way to live.

Be happy in your Thanksgiving!

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Burns and Allen - "Thanksgiving" (1940)


Somewhat oddly, it starts with an ad for Spam.



By the way, Spam has not gone out of style and is a favored treat for long distance hikers.

For Thanksgiving, though, turkey and pumpkin pie  . . .

On Midrats 22 November 2020- Episode 568: The Problem with Proconsuls; the Combatant Commanders


Please join us at 5pm EST for Midrats Episode 568: The Problem with Proconsuls; the Combatant Commanders

34 years after Goldwater-Nichols and the rise of the Combatant Commanders (COCOMS), is our national security structures more in line with what we need in the 21 Century, or the Roman Empire’s Proconsuls?

What are these mini-Pentagons supposed to bring to the national security of the United States, and what are they actually delivering?

What do they do right, and where are they off phase?

Our returning guest for the full hour to discuss this an more will be Mackenzie Eaglen. We will use her recent article, Putting Combatant Commanders on a Demand Signal Diet at War on the Rocks as a starting point for our conversation.

Mackenzie is a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, where she works on defense strategy, defense budgets, and military readiness. She has also served as a staff member on the 2018 National Defense Strategy Commission, the 2014 National Defense Panel, and the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel. Prior to joining the American Enterprise Institute, she worked on defense issues in the House of Representatives, in the Senate, and at the Pentagon in the Office of the Secretary of Defense and on the Joint Staff.

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.



Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Navy Ship Manning: "{M}an the fleet to the requirements or reduce the requirements"


Excellent discussion of the U.S. Navy's shipboard manning issues by a former Fleet Master Chief of Fleet Forces Command at the USNI Blog Manning Still Matters: A Fleet Perspective:

To those leaders making these decisions, or who are unaware of them but could influence them, I would ask, “Would you feel safe boarding a civilian airline whose maintenance department was routinely and chronically undermanned this way?” and “Would you feel comfortable letting your family?” Even though leaders and budgeters save costs in the MPN account, there are personal costs that result from reductions in their sailor’s sleep, fitness, personal time, or cognitive performance. Manning shortfalls contribute to crew fatigue and reduced crew endurance, increasing the chance of mistakes and increasing their risk tolerance to a point of ethical dilemma and decisions to cut corners with maintenance and other administrative requirements to self-manage the workload.

This is a "read the whole thing piece." Master Chief Kingsbury points out the issues caused by the efforts to save personnel dollars -

  • Overwork on some ratings at sea
  • Impact on morale and retention
  • Impact of fatigue 
  • Poor effects of "fill vice fit" manning - i.e. there's a reason the manning document calls for a certain number of quartermasters, for example. 
  • Stress Dangers of cross decking as short term fills for shortages in certain rates

Giving the fleet billets is one thing, but in a highly technical environment requiring specialized people, giving them the right billets with the knowledge, skills, and abilities to meet the job requirement is another. And, the sailor working 80 hours suffers the same effects regardless of where their unit is in the OFRP. Once any ship falls to a certain level of fit, they could be displayed as yellow or red to more accurately reflect the level of risk, so force manning managers could decide where to accept risk. To this end, leverage the new type commander human factors engineers, fleet safety officers, and naval safety center to analyze and articulate the risk to mission and force. Then, communicate to OPNAV N1 in terms of operational risk and challenge them to take actions to mitigate it, such as increasing recruiting goals, retention incentives, or adjusting distribution policies.

From the Navy's Core Values Charter

“COMMITMENT” The day-to-day duty of every man and woman in the Department of the Navy is to join together as a team to improve the quality of our work, our people and ourselves. I will:

    • Foster respect up and down the chain of command. 
    • Care for the personal and spiritual well-being of my people. 
    • Show respect toward all people without regard to race, religion or gender. 
    • Always strive for positive change and personal improvement. 
    • Exhibit the highest degree of moral character, professional excellence, quality, and competence in all that I do. (emphasis added)

The "well-being" of our people ought to be the driving factor in ship manning. This has to include that the right people are put in the right positions with the right training and tools to do their jobs so that any ship - all ships- go to sea with the confidence that the men and women who serve therein are ready to take on the heavy burdens going to sea and, potentially, into harm's way involve.

Admiral Nimitz said, "Leadership consists of picking good men and helping them do their best." When we put our men and women into a fleet where they are hamstrung by manning shortfalls, we are not exercising good leadership.

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Sarah Mead

Saturday, November 14, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Our Miss Brooks "Thanksgiving Weekend" (1949)




On Midrats 15 November 2020- Episode 567: Carriers: Workhorse & Warhorse with Megan Eckstein & Sam LaGrone



Please join us on 15 November 2020 for Midrats Episode 567: Carriers: Workhorse & Warhorse with Megan Eckstein & Sam LaGrone

Fewer carriers are deploying more even as repeated warning lights have been going off that we are expending in peace what we will need in war when it comes to personnel and materiel in carrier aviation.

How did we get here, where are we, and where are we going?

Using her article, No Margin Left: Overworked Carrier Force Struggles to Maintain Deployments After Decades of Overuse, as a starting point and diving it to some of the additional insights she gained while writing it, Megan Eckstein from USNINews will be joining us along with Sam LaGrone.

Megan Eckstein is the deputy editor for USNI News. She previously covered Congress and the Pentagon for Defense Daily, and the surface navy and amphibious operations as an associate editor for Inside the Navy. She began her career covering the military at the Frederick (Md.) News-Post, where she wrote about personnel and family issues, military medical research, local reserve and National Guard units and more. Eckstein is a 2009 graduate of University of Maryland College Park.

Sam LaGrone is the editor of USNI News. He has covered legislation, acquisition and operations for the Sea Services since 2009 and spent time underway with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the Canadian Navy.

If you use Apple Podcasts, and miss the show live, you can pick up this episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by going to here. Or on Spreaker. Or on Spotify.

(U.S. Navy Photo by MC3 Anthony Collier)

Friday, November 13, 2020

Italian Navy Thwarts Potential Gulf of Guinea Pirate Attack








November 7, 2020 action in the GOG Report
Italian frigate Martinengo assistance to M/V Torm Alexandra was concluded yesterday at 2030. A #BrigataMarinaSanMarco team released by helicopter, cleared the vessel allowing crew to regain possession and keep navigating safely

Video here.

All happened in international waters.

Photos and video from the Italian Navy.

By the way, what nice looking frigate.