Thursday, January 30, 2020

High Cost of Gulf of Guinea Piracy and Related Corruption

Pointed out here:
In 2018, the United Nations (UN) Security Council disclosed that Nigeria was losing
approximately $1.5 billion a month due to piracy, armed robbery at sea, smuggling and fuel supply fraud. According to the IMB’s Piracy Reporting Centre figures, the GoG accounted for 29 incidents in the first quarter of 2018, more than 40% of the global total. Of the 114 seafarers captured worldwide that year, all but one was within Nigerian waters, the report also noted. “The absence of an effective maritime governance system, in particular, hampers freedom of movement in the region, disrupts trade and economic growth, and facilitates environmental crimes,” Ambassador Michele J. Sison, the United States’ Deputy Representative to the UN, said at the time. She identified ineffective governance structures, weak rule of law, precarious legal frameworks and inadequate naval, coast guard, and maritime law enforcement as reasons for the challenge.

Last September, the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral Ibok Ekwe Ibas, confirmed that Nigeria loses billions of dollars annually to this menace. He also said: “The maritime domain has been under threat by piracy, sea robbery, illicit trafficking, illegal unreported and unregulated fishing and marine pollution. Now we have emerging security threats within the Nigerian maritime domain that stem largely from non-military causes such as socio-economic agitations and a large army of unemployed and under-employed youths in the coastal communities, whose activities manifest through attacks on shipping.”

It is therefore no surprise that the IMB has characterised Nigerian waters as “one of the most dangerous shipping routes in the world.” Between October 2019 and last week, there were eleven recorded attacks on the Nigerian waters and this may not even reflect the complete picture. On 23rd September 2019, a 244-metre product tanker, named ELKA ATHINA, carrying the flag of Greece was attacked in the Lagos area. Pirates actually boarded the vessel in a cargo-stealing attempt. Similarly, on 5th October 2019, a 182-metre produce tanker named UACC MIDIF, carrying the flag of Marshall Islands, was attacked by pirates in another cargo-stealing attempt. In a more daring attack on 6th October 2019, eight-armed men in two wooden boats attacked a 195-metre vessel named USMA around the Lagos port.

On 3rd December 2019, a vessel named NAVE CONSTELLATION, carrying the flag of Hong Kong was attacked at Bonny, Rivers State by pirates who hijacked the 330-metre crude oil tanker and kidnapped the 19 crew members. On 15th December 2019, a 140-metre product tanker named DUKE, was attacked. No fewer than 20 crew members were abducted. A week later, on 24th December 2019, an attempt was made on a 274-metre long vessel named ISTANBUL. Carrying the flag of Malta, the vessel reportedly conducted evasive maneuverers causing the attack to fail. Another failed attempt was made four days later on 28th December 2019 on an LNG tanker carrying a Bermuda flag. The 288-metre long LNG tanker named KNG LOKOJA was attacked at a location described as ‘joint regime of Nigeria and Sao Tome’.

The attempted hijack on 30th December 2019 at the same location of VINALINES MIGHTY and in Bonny, a 200 metre bulk carrier named DROGBA, carrying the flag of Singapore, were foiled because security personnel on board the two vessels fought back. But in one of the most violent attacks on the second day of this year, four crew members were kidnapped and four armed guards killed on an 84-metre vessel named AMBIKA, carrying the Nigerian flag. Another 155-metre vessel named MSC GRACE, carrying a Panama flag was also attacked on 21st January 2020 by armed pirates. The attack was foiled by 13 armed personnel on a speed boat who opened fire.

Incidentally, six of the vessels involved in these attacks were classified as “suspicious” which means they could have in fact been carrying stolen crude. Yet, the loss to our economy and the danger this poses to our national security are enormous. When I sought the opinion of the Group Managing Director of the Nigeria National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Mr Mele Kyari, on the implications of heightened piracy in the GoG, he minced no words: “It means increase in the premium on risk cover, delays in accepting Nigerian crude oil cargoes in the international market, adverse impact on the market pricing of Nigerian crude related to cargo delivery uncertainty and overall adverse impact on the revenues to the federation account.”

I understand Kyari’s point. The Lloyds market association of the United Kingdom has classified GoG as a war risk area resulting in insurance costs estimated to be triple that of other areas in the world. Vessels are now compelled to insure their crew and mobilize their own armed security guards to accompany every voyage. The same high cost of insurance applies for ships and cargoes. These costs are quite naturally transferred to consumers. A report by ‘Oceans Beyond Piracy’ that analysed the cost of this crime estimated that between 50 and 60 seafarers were kidnapped in the last quarter of last year in Nigeria alone and about N600 million was paid as ransom to secure their freedom.

The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Director General, Dr Dakuku Peterside, who expressed his concerns about the growing challenge said Nigeria has to do more. “We must pay greater attention to the Gulf of Guinea not only because our economy depends on it but also because of its implications for our national security given the quantum of illicit arms that flow through the region,” Peterside told me on Tuesday. He added that the Nigerian Navy has, at various times, “embarked on special operations to tackle piracy and criminality on waterways and the cost of these special operations is enormous. NIMASA is spending USD195 million to buy more assets plus logistics in terms of retraining of our military forces to fight piracy. These are funds that would have been applied to social services.”

The other costs of piracy and criminality on our waterways include stifling of regional trade and food price inflation since deep sea fishing has almost been taken over completely by the Chinese whose vessels are heavily fortified, security wise. Just recently, two key London based shipping associations were about to issue a statement warning their vessels not to venture into Nigerian waters but for the intervention of NIMASA under the Deep Blue project. But I understand that the international shipping community is watching to see what the Nigerian authorities will do to tackle the menace before taking a final decision that could deeply hurt our economy.
Well, so far the answer has been not enough has been done by Nigeria which would seem to have the money and the population to develop a useful coast guard and navy.

But there's more. As reported by The Manila Times West African ‘pirates’ are revolutionary rebels, says freed Filipino seafarers:
ABDUCTORS, who spread fear and terror in West African waters and are responsible for the rising cases of kidnapping in Nigeria, Cameroon, Benin, among others, are mostly ex-militant members of a group who steal crude oil from tanker ships and sell it to buyers on the black market.

In an exclusive interview by The Manila Times, the two freed Filipino seafarers said most of their abductors were former high-ranking officials of the Nigerian military who broke away from the government.
“We learned that the abductors are former high ranking officials of the Nigerian military.They alienated themselves from the government and turned to kidnap for ransom schemes,” said “Chris,” a deck rating who flew back safely to the Philippines last January 24 after their release on January 21 at the Port Harcourt, Nigeria.

They said the groups target ships and abduct its crew in exchange for a big amount of money to sustain its operations.

“Most of them were addicts and maybe involved also in drug trafficking, aside from kidnapping. I saw one of them smoking bricks of marijuana for several days in the camp where we were held for 22 days, which they called ‘No Man’s Land,’ according to “John,” a native of Iloilo province.

They claimed that these rebels are targeting ship owners and pressuring them to directly buy fuel products from them, which they smuggle somewhere in Nigeria, and not to acquire from the government.

“That was part of their rebellious act, to paralyze the operation of the oil-rich production of Nigeria and buy fuel products directly from them,” the seafarers said.
Well, that doesn't sound good. If true, the prospects for the Nigeria, already troubled by
corruption don't look good:
Corruption is the single greatest obstacle preventing Nigeria from achieving its enormous potential. It drains billions of dollars a year from the country’s economy, stymies development, and weakens the social contract between the government and its people. Nigerians view their country as one of the world’s most corrupt and struggle daily to cope with the effects.
  • Corruption is rife across the country’s economic sectors: petroleum, trade, industrial, agricultural, infrastructure, power sector, banking, and environmental. Together, these forms of corruption erase billions of dollars from Nigeria’s bottom line and prevent it from realizing its great human and economic potential.

  • In Nigeria’s security sectors, defense sector and police corruption are destabilizing and compounding security challenges in conflict hotspots like the Lake Chad Basin, the Middle Belt, and the Niger Delta. Corruption in the judiciary and within anticorruption agencies undermines the country’s already anemic accountability mechanisms, thereby fueling corruption across the spectrum.
It certainly has created some dangerous waters - and increased costs of sea-going trade in the area both in lives and dollars.

Pay attention to that part about the "rebels" using attacks to "pressure" them into buying hijacked oil. There's a lot at play here.

You might also note the reference to the Chinese fishing fleet and its effect on food prices in the area. This was previously discussed in Gulf of Guinea Piracy and Illegal Fishing: Expensive Crimes for the Neighborhood:
The document titled, “Fisheries Crime Activities in West Africa Coastal Region,” showed that Nigeria spends about $800 million (N324 billion) to import fish to bridge the supply gap.

According to the document, Nigeria in 2018 imported fish worth $71 million, $56 million, $43 million and $174 million from Iceland, Russia, Norway and Netherlands respectively.

The document also showed that West Africa remains a global hotspot for illegal fishing with estimated losses of $2.9 billion.

The document further revealed that over 450 Chinese vessels fish illegally in Nigeria and the coast of West Africa, adding that, “a survey carried out by the West Africa Task Force showed that over 37 per cent of all fish caught in West Africa are caught illegally with China, Taiwan, Russia, South Korea, Spain, France and Thailand being the main countries responsible.

For the Navy from DARPA: The Angler Program

Hmmm. Which military service would be most interested in the features of this project highlighted below?

DARPA announces DARPA’s Angler Program Awards Contracts to Advance Autonomous Underwater Systems
DARPA has awarded six contracts for work on the Angler program, which aims to
DARPA artist conception
pioneer the next generation of autonomous underwater robotic systems capable of physical intervention in the deep ocean environment. This class of future unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) must overcome reliance on GPS and human intervention to support infrastructure establishment, maintenance, and resilience over the vastness of the ocean. The Angler program seeks to merge breakthroughs in terrestrial and space robotics, as well as underwater sensing, to develop autonomous robotic solutions capable of navigating and surveying ocean depths, and physically manipulating human-made objects of interest.
The Angler program envisions numerous benefits, including:

  • Establishing functionality for long-duration mission navigation and autonomy deprived of GPS and surface-based communication;
  • Providing a first-of-its-kind long-distance undersea manipulation platform capable of fully autonomous operation; and
  • Advancing perception systems to enable grasping underwater objects in degraded undersea environments.

The program is targeting three phases of development, culminating with a fully integrated prototype completing an underwater mission in a dynamic, open ocean environment.
Why, yes, the U.S. Navy, of course! Lots of missions covered in that list of benefits, aren't there?

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Gremlins Program Completes First Flight Test for X-61A Vehicle

DARPA reports Gremlins Program Completes First Flight Test for X-61A Vehicle
DARPA's Gremlins program has completed the first flight test of its X-61A vehicle. The
test in late November at the U.S. Army’s Dugway Proving Ground in Utah included one captive-carry mission aboard a C-130A and an airborne launch and free flight lasting just over an hour-and-a-half.

The goal for this third phase of the Gremlins program is completion of a full-scale technology demonstration series featuring the air recovery of multiple, low-cost, reusable unmanned aerial systems (UASs), or “Gremlins.” Safety, reliability, and affordability are the key objectives for the system, which would launch groups of UASs from multiple types of military aircraft while out of range from adversary defenses. Once Gremlins complete their mission, the transport aircraft would retrieve them in the air and carry them home, where ground crews would prepare them for their next use within 24 hours.

The team met all objectives of the test in November, including gathering data on operation and performance, air and ground-based command and control systems, and flight termination. A parachute anomaly occurred in a recovery sequence that is specific to the test series and not part of the operational plan. The incident resulted in the loss of the test vehicle, one of five in the program. Four vehicles remain operational and available for the test series, which will continue in 2020.

"The vehicle performed well, giving us confidence we are on the right path and can expect success in our follow-on efforts," said Scott Wierzbanowski, the program manager for Gremlins in DARPA's Tactical Technology Office. "We got a closer look at vehicle performance for launch, rate capture, engine start, and transition to free flight. We had simulated the performance on the ground, and have now fully tested them in the air. We also demonstrated a variety of vehicle maneuvers that helped validate our aerodynamic data."
What is the Gremlin Program?

Now do a ship launched version. Perhaps from an unmanned surface vessel or (gasp!) a submersible/semi-submersible.

Sunday, January 26, 2020

On Midrats 26 January 2020 - Episode 525: Watching the Surface Force with David Larter

Please join us at 5pm EST on 26 January 2020 for Midrats Episode 525: Watching the Surface Force with David LarterMidrats
Put on your black leather jacket, get your SM-6 plush toy, pour a glass of your finest Chianti in honor of the epic Fincantieri after party, and join us this Sunday to discuss the latest news about the USN surface force.

Using his reporting earlier this month from the Surface Navy Association Symposium as a starting off point, our guest for the full hour will be David Larter, Naval Warfare Reporter for Defense News. He's a graduate of the University of Richmond and a former Operations Specialist Second Class, still DNQ in his ESWS qual.

From new uniform items to future unmanned system, we will be talking about it.

If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

A Little Too Real

Some of you may know that I have a couple of MG cars in my garage.

I am supposed to be working on them, though life keeps intruding on that work.

The other day I ran across a reference to the "Visible V-8" - a model kit from Revell designed, I suppose, to elucidate the mysteries of one form of internal combustion engine to future mechanics and auto hobbyists.

Well, I thought, perhaps there's similar kit for the 4 cylinder engines like those in the MGs - wouldn't that be fun for the grandchildren?

And, lo, there are such kits-

So I bought one. Somewhere on the box, it states "For ages 8 and up" or "8+" - which I certainly am.

Shortly after its arrival, I began to put the thing together. Plastic parts, small screws, big drawings. No problemo, I figured.

After a short while, I began to see this engine assembly was a little too authentic. Too much like real engine work.

First, every dropped tool or part or little tiny screw inevitably rolled to the most difficult place in which to see it and then to retrieve it. "Huh," I said to myself, "just like when working on a real car."

Second, if I viewed the diagrammed instructions one way, that way was almost always the wrong way and required some disassembly to get it back to the right way. Thereupon, the rule of dropped things came into play again - for the very same parts, pieces, and tools that had rolled off in the first go round. Again, this is not uncommon in my hobby car work. So not uncommon that it has a Murphy's Law sort of thing "Whatever tool or part you need for the next step is the one that you just dropped so that it can't be reached without taking some other component of the car off to get to it." And the tech drawings for the MGs - well, they aren't any less confusing than the ones for the kit and, if a part can be put in backwards, that will be the first install of that part.

Third, if I was 8 or 9 years old, I would not have all those great "sailor words" to use in instances such as those described above.

Eventually, I got the thing assembled. And it runs, with pistons and valves and camshaft and spark plugs that light up. Sadly, though, it appears, just as in a real car, I may need to adjust the timing.

And my dog was so upset with my language that he left the room.

So, the kit and process were a little too real.

Might as well work on the real cars.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 12 December 2019 to 15 January 2020 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 9 - 15 January 2020

Monday, January 20, 2020

Interesting: China Testing Unmanned "Mini-Destroyer"

The Martime Executine reports China's Unmanned "Mini-Destroyer" Out on Sea Trials

The PLA Navy's well-armed unmanned surface vessel has conducted its first sea trials, according to Chinese trade outlet Ordnance Industry Science Technology.

The 50-foot-long vessel, dubbed JARI, is designed for remote-control or autonomous operation, like many projects developed by western navies and defense contractors. However, it may be unique in possessing all of the core capabilities of a surface combatant (at a small scale).

Its developers say that JARI has a phased-array radar, a sonar suite, a deck gun, two close-range air defense missiles, two vertical-launch silos for small anti-air / anti-ship missiles and two torpedo launch tubes. Given its equipment, Chinese state outlet Global Times has described it in ambitious terms as a combat-ready "mini Aegis-class destroyer."
Hmmm. That's a lot of technology and stuff in a small boat.

Sunday, January 19, 2020

On Midrats 19 January 2020 - Episode 524: Mid-January Melee

Please join us at 5pm EST on 19 Jan 2020 for Midrats Episode 524: Mid-January Melee
Open mic and open topic for this week's Midrats as we cover the maritime spectrum from Chinese fisherman and their "strange" catches, to new carriers, to 1.001 things you can do with a DDG-1000.

We'll be live as always and are taking questions and topic requests ... so come join us!
If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Finally! Crazy Ideas Aren't So Crazy After All, It Seems

About 18 million years ago - no, it was more recent than that - around December 2008, I believe, I put a post on the USNI blog about a cheaper way to spread lethality in the fleet, Psst.Psst. Wanna Distribute Your Lethality on the Cheap?. All along I expressed these thoughts:
  1. Take $250 million dollars and put it aside;
  2. Of that $250 million, use $100 million to buy or lease 50 to 100 offshore crew
    boats as currently used in the offshore oil industry (many of them are reaching the end of their expected useful life in the industry - you might be able to pick up some bargains).
  3. Invest $50 million in refurbishing the boats and in getting weapons for their decks. Turn them into "navalized" vessels. Make 22 knots the minimum acceptable speed.
  4. Do not try to make these low cost littoral combat ships into battleships for all conditions. Talk to the LCDRs who will be squadron commanders and the LTs who will be the commanding officers about what they would need to provide a presence, fight in a low threat environment against modestly armed pirates and the like, support occasional missions ashore and interdict drug smuggler semi-submersibles. Give them what they need in terms of state of the art comms using COTS (heck, load put a communication van on board if so that no time is wasted trying to rewire the little ships more than needed). Put in some comfortable berthing suited for the sea states in which these things (I call them Special Purpose Vessels or SPVs) will operate.
  5. Under no cirmcumstance should the total U.S. Navy investment in any single SPV exceed $2 million, excluding the cost of adding weapons systems (adding a M-1 Abrams, for example) and the personnel costs.
  6. Make the project a 12 month "emergency" - and kill the bureacracy that would ordinarily take on this job - find a hard charging Captain, make him or her report directly to SecNav and tell them what the mission and the budget will be. Then get out of the way except for monthly status reports.
  7. Find a group of O-3s who are ready for command and who can think for themselves and train the heck out of them by letting them go to sea in the type of ships that you are acquiring, let them learn from the masters of current offshore supply and crew vessels. Find some O-4s who can take hold of the idea of being a squadron commander of a 5 ship squadron and train them in mission like that being conducted by the Africa station.
  8. Borrow some Army Rangers or fleet Marines and train them in the ship boardings, small boat ops, shipboard firefighting and ship defense. Treat them like the Marines of old. Stress people skills appropriate for counterterrorism work.
  9. Lease some ships to be used as "tenders" for the SPVs - small container ships on which the containers can be shops, supply warehouses, refrigerator units, etc. Bladders for fuel. Use the Arapaho concept to set up a flight deck for helo ops.
  10. Be generous with UAV assets - use the small "not recoverable" types.
  11. Don't limit the small boat assets to RHIBs. Experiment with M-ships, small go-fasts captured from drug dealers, whatever. The idea is to have boats that can operate in one sea state worse than the pirates, drug smugglers, etc.
  12. Use the MIUW van concept for adding some sonar capability. TIS/VIS is a necessity.
Start with a couple of squadrons, tell your O-6 that you want them ready in 6 months for operational testing. Unleash the budget dollars. For op testing, send one squadron off to the coast of Somalia for anti-pirate work. Send the other off Iraq. Put those expensive great big cruisers and destroyers currently in the area to work doing blue water stuff.

Paint Coast Guard like stripe on the hull of the SPVs - but make it Navy blue. If the Coasties want to join in, give them a boat and paint the stripe orange. Make the SPVs highly visible. Nothing deters crime like a visible cop on the beat. (edited the quote because, Army Rangers? What was I thinking? That's Marine work, that is.)

Well, times goes by, technologies improve, but basic concepts endure - and now we have David Larter writing about "5 things you should know about the US Navy’s plans for autonomous missile boats" , which mentioned prototyping for those "autonomous missile boats" in this way:
1. What exactly is the Navy buying in 2020? The Navy, spearheaded by Capt. Pete Small of the Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants, plans to buy two commercial fast-supply vessels, or FSV, which are used by the oil and gas industry to support offshore infrastructure. Those boats will be added to two similar boats procured by the Office of the Secretary of Defense’s Strategic Capabilities Office for its Ghost Fleet Overlord program.

Ghost Fleet Overlord converted two FSVs into unmanned surface vessels and demonstrated “autonomy system integration; demonstration of navigational autonomy; and hull, mechanical and electrical system reliability upgrades,” according to an October news release from Small’s office.
Wait, what? Here's a look at what the PEO Unmanned and Small Combatants is converting:
DoD photo

Looks sorta like that vessel at the top of this post, which was from 2008.

But here's my favorite quote from the Larter piece:
Essentially the Navy is looking for a cheaper way to increase the number of vertical launch tubes in the fleet without, as Chief of Naval Operations Michael Gilday put it last year, wrapping a $2 billion destroyer hull around 96 missile tubes.
To which I say, "Finally!" and "Faster, please!"

I had other thoughts at CIMSEC about operations with "drone mother ships" at CHEAPER CORVETTES: COOP AND STUFT LIKE THAT:
If the answer to the Navy’s future is robotics, then Admiral Greenert’s July 2012 U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings piece, “Payloads Over Platforms, Charting a New Course” opens up a whole new world of possibilities for using existing small ship platforms as “trucks” to deliver large numbers of modern weapons platforms to areas of interest.

As former Under Secretary of the Navy Bob Work emphasized during his recent appearance on MIDRATS, the Littoral Combat Ship is such a truck–a vehicle for delivering unmanned weapons system.

This post is meant to take that concept and cheapen it.

It occurs to me that we need to take the thinking that developed the WWII escort aircraft carrier (CVE) and model it down to a ship that is a “drone” carrier (and by “drone” I mean unmanned vessels of any type- surface, subsurface and aerial) – like the LCS only in the smaller economy version.

After all, if the real weapons systems toted by the LCS are its drones, then virtually any vessel capable of lowering said drones into the water or into the air and hosting their command and control system can be a “drone carrier,” too. Such a ship becomes a “mother ship” for the drones.

Are drone carriers are really “war ships?” Remember, “payload over platform.”

Suppose we take a hull like an offshore oil platform supply “boats” outfitted with a “surface warfare module” (yes, like that designed for the LCS) and four davits designed to lower four USVs into the water.

If the USVs are outfitted with torpedoes or missiles like those discussed here, and if you deploy them in the face of a threat, you now have a ship with capable weapons systems out there.
Unmanned is good, unmanned means humans are less at risk, and operations are less complex without crew sustainment issues on USVs.

Oh, that Aerostat vessel? If you are going to operate without GIS/Satellites, might be tool to use to coordinate your USV missile boats, just saying.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Fibber McGee and Molly "Merchant Marines" (1945)

On Midrats 12 January 2020 - Episode 523: Stress Tested a Sealift Surge? How'd it go?

Please join us at 5pm EST on 12 Jan 2020 for Midrats Episode 523: Stress Tested a Sealift Surge? How'd it go?
We just stress tested our Strategic Sealift. We'll discuss what we can learn from it this Sunday with returning guest, Salvatore Mercogliano.

Sal sailed with MSC from 1989 to 1992, and worked MSC HQ as Operations Officer for the Afloat Prepositioning Force 1992-1996.

He has a BS Marine Transportation from SUNY Maritime College, a MA Maritime History and Nautical Archaeology from East Carolina University, and received his Ph.D. in Military and Naval History from University of Alabama.

He's taught at East Carolina University, Methodist University, UNC-Chapel Hill, & the U.S. Military Academy.

Currently an adjunct professor at the US Merchant Marine Academy and an Associate Professor of History at Campbell University in Buies Creek, NC.

Recently published “We Built Her to Bring Them Over There: The Cruiser and Transport Force in the Great War,” in the Winter 2017-18 issue of Sea History; author of Fourth Arm of Defense: Sealift and Maritime Logistics in the Vietnam War, published by the Naval History and Heritage Command in 2017, and 2nd Prize winner in the 2015 US Naval Institute Naval History Contest with Semper Sealift: The U.S. Marine Corps, Merchant Marine, and Maritime Prepositioning.
If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Friday Film: Malta Convoy - The Ohio

Holding on to Malta was vital for Allied forces in the Mediterranean during WWII, this film tells the story of the extraordinary efforts made to resupply the beleaguered island.

Thursday, January 09, 2020

The President Says, "AMF" Middle East

Way back in the day, leaving unpleasant things like the Vietnam War, a common military parting shot was "AMF" (you can look up it meaning all by yourselves).

In this interesting piece by Roger Kimball in Spectator USA, Mr. Kimball puts it more a more refined manner:
On the world stage, Iran is a bit player, especially now that the United States does not need Middle Eastern oil. Really, Iran is an exotic curiosity, a country with a magnificent past that has been captive of an insane theocratic ideology for the past 40 years. Iran is not the staging ground of World War III, just a brutal and pathetic backwater.
The third take away concerns Donald Trump and his legacy. In acting decisively in response to the sighting of Soleimani and his henchman, in acting with caution and deliberation in response to Iran’s calculatedly feeble response, President Trump has showed both that you attack the United States or its people at your peril and that America is getting out of the nation-building neocon regime-change business.

The elimination of Soleimani was not a prelude to deeper US involvement in the Middle East. It was a farewell letter. Always admitting the fickleness of contingency, it nonetheless looks as though Donald Trump will go down as the man who catalyzed the United States economy, who brought unemployment down to historic lows, who goosed real wages, especially at the lower levels, who made important inroads against the stultifying miasma of the the regulatory state while also resuscitating the US military, curbing illegal immigration, and — just now — extricating the United States from foreign involvements that help no one but our enemies.
So, Middle East, it's not us, it's you, so enjoy yourselves in your regional squabbles, but if you mess with us again, it will be like that Toby Keith song:

Next time we won't be coming back to pick up the pieces.

We have more important matters to attend to.


Monday, January 06, 2020

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 28 November 2019 - 31 December 2019 and HORN OF AFRICA/GULF OF GUINEA/SOUTHEAST ASIA Weekly Piracy Update for 25 to 31 December 2019

Issues involving crimes against merchant shipping, merchant sailors, and other illicit activity at sea continue. Why?  It's the same reputed answer Willie Sutton gave to the question as to why he robbed banks, "Because that's where the money is." Given the low capture and punishment rates, it is, except for the hazards of any operation at sea, relatively low risk.

Saturday, January 04, 2020

On Midrats 5 January 2020 - Episode 522: 10th Anniversary Show: Decade Review and Looking Forward

Please join us at 5pm EST on 5 January 2020 for Midrats Episode 522: 10th Anniversary Show: Decade Review and Looking Forward

Happy New Year to everyone and you know what 2020 means? It means that Midrats is having its 10th Anniversary.

Come join us this Sunday as we look back at the previous decade and do our best to see what is coming over the horizon for the next.

Who knows, we might have a surprise guest or two.
If you can't catch the show live and you use Apple Podcasts, you can pick up the episode and others and add Midrats to your podcast list simply by clicking the button at the main show page - or you can just click here. Or on Spreaker. The show also is reportedly on Spotify.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day - X Minus One "Universe" (1955)