Gun Fire

Saturday, June 12, 2021

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: CBS Mystery Theater "Ninety Lives"

On Midrats 13 June 2021 - Episode 594: Small Island in Great Power Competition, with Alexander Gray

Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 13 June 2021 for Midrats Episode 594: Small Island in Great Power Competition, with Alexander Gray

China is interested in a lot more than just the first or second island chain. In the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean, the islands of Melanesia, Micronesia, and Polynesia are critical to the sea lines of communication for the economic powerhouses on both sides.

From the Age of Discovery to today, their importance rises to the top of any power who wished to influence the area.

To look at this area of returning importance with us for the full hour will be Alexander B. Gray.

The starting point for our conversation will be the issues he raised in two recent articles: How the US Can Protect the Sovereignty of the Smallest Pacific Island in The Diplomat, and Why a crisis in the Pacific islands matters for Washington and Beijing in The Hill.

Alex is a Senior Fellow in National Security Affairs at the American Foreign Policy Council, served as Director for Oceania & Indo-Pacific Security at the White House National Security Council from 2018-2019.

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.

Monday, June 07, 2021

If True, It's a Mistake: "It May Be the End of the Line for the Navy's Hypervelocity Projectile"

Reported at by Hope Hodge Seck It May Be the End of the Line for the Navy's Hypervelocity Projectile

The hypervelocity projectile, however, seemed to gain its own momentum after officials realized it could be paired not only with the railgun, but also with existing ship deck guns to provide high-speed, low-cost firepower.

The projectile's most recent public outing came in 2018, when the guided-missile destroyer Dewey fired 20 of the rounds from an Mk 45 deck gun during the massive Rim of the Pacific exercise.

"You can get 15 rounds a minute for an air defense mission, as well as a surface-to-surface mission," Bryan Clark, then of the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, told USNI News in 2019. "That adds significant missile defense capacity when you think that each of those might be replacing a [Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile] or a [Rolling Airframe Missile]. They're a lot less expensive."

The story also noted that the gun-launched guided projectile, or GLGP, was being considered as a round for ground-based Army and Marine Corps 155mm howitzers.

But while GLGP might be less expensive than some missile systems, which can cost $1 million to $2 million per round, it was still far from cheap. A 2020 Congressional Research Service report noted that each of the rounds cost about $85,000 in 2018 dollars.

And despite the promise GLGP seemed to hold for a range of multi-service uses, the CRS report noted that fielding to ships would involve integrating the round with existing combat systems, and additional tests and war-gaming. After five years in development, these follow-on steps have yet to take place.

So, for $1,000,000, you could buy 11 of these rounds (@$90,000 each) and 22 for $2 million? And you can keep them in the ammo locker and reload at sea?

More here.

Way back in 2014, RADM Klunder, then Chief of Naval Research, spoke of the "rail gun" ammo cost here:

"This {the projectile} costs right here about $25,000," Klunder said.

Both the cost and size -- it weighs 23 pounds -- mean they can be bought and stored aboard ships by the hundreds.

"Someone may be sending a multimillion-dollar missile at us, and I'm going to take it out with a $25,000 projectile round," Klunder said. "I'll take that trade every single day."

Well, according to Ms. Seck's report, killing this projectile will save "$5.9 million." Wonder what the cost in ships and sailors might be?

See the 2018 CRS Report, Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress. here (emphasis added)

This report provides background information and issues for Congress on three new ship-based weapons being developed by the Navy—solid state lasers (SSLs), the electromagnetic railgun (EMRG),1and the gun-launched guided projectile (GLGP), also known as the hypervelocity projectile (HVP)—that could substantially improve the ability of Navy surface ships to defend themselves against surface craft, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), and eventually anti-ship cruise missiles (ASCMs).

Any one of these three new weapons, if successfully developed and deployed, might be regarded as a “game changer” for defending Navy surface ships against enemy missiles and UAVs. If two or three of them are successfully developed and deployed, the result might be considered not just a game changer, but a revolution. Rarely has the Navy had so many potential new types of surface-ship air-defense weapons simultaneously available for development and potential deployment.

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 5 May - 2 June 2021

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

Saturday, June 05, 2021

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: D-Day - The Allies Invade France (1944)

On Midrats 6 June 2021- Episode 593: More Patrol Craft, Not Fewer with LCDR Jordan Bradford, USN

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 6 June 2021 for Midrats Episode 593: More Patrol Craft, Not Fewer with LCDR Jordan Bradford, USN

In a sharp departure from the ideas that brought them to the fleet, the Navy, "...appears poised to sunset the MK VI and Cyclone-class patrol craft programs in rapid succession, with no replacements on the horizon."

Why are these small craft in our Navy today, what missions are they doing, and what risk are we accepting if we let this capability go? What follow on craft could even do the job better?

To discuss these and related issues will be LCDR Jordan Bradford, USN.

The starting point
for our conversation will be his article from the May 2021 Proceedings, "The MK-VI id Dead - Long Live the MK VII."

Lieutenant Commander Bradford is the commanding officer of USS Typhoon (PC-5). He is a 2009 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy and has formerly served as strike officer on board the USS Vicksburg (CG-69), navigator on board the De Wert (FFG-45), and combat systems and operations officer on board the Detroit (LCS-7). His opinions are his own and do not reflect any endorsement by the Navy, the Department of Defense, or the United States government.

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, June 03, 2021

Battle of Midway 3 - 7 June 1942

Good summary of the Battle of Midway from Naval History and Heritage Command

On 3 June, in the preliminary moves of the Battle of Midway, American land-based aircraft from Midway located and attacked Japanese transports about 600 miles west of Midway Island. U.S. Army Air Forces Boeing B-17 Flying Fortresses inflicted no damage, however, and four Consolidated PBY Catalina patrol bombers were sent out from Midway for a night attack on the approaching landing forces. As part of the overall Japanese plan, planes from light carriers Ryujo and Junyo bombed Dutch Harbor.

Just after midnight on 4 June, Admiral Nimitz, based on patrol plane reports, advised Task Forces 16 and 17 of the course and speed of the Japanese "main body," also noting their distance of 574 miles from Midway. Shortly after dawn, a patrol plane spotted two Japanese carriers and their escorts, reporting "Many planes heading Midway from 320 degrees distant 150 miles!"

The first engagement on 4 June, however, took place when the four night-flying PBYs attacked the Japanese transports northwest of Midway, with one PBY torpedoing a fleet tanker. Later that morning, at roughly 0630, Japanese carrier aircraft bombed Midway installations. Although defending U.S. Marine Corps fighters suffered disastrous losses, the Japanese only inflicted slight damage to the island’s facilities on Midway.

Over the next two hours, Japanese fighter aircraft on combat air patrol (CAP) and antiaircraft fire from the Japanese fleet annihilated the repeated attacks by Midway-based Marine Corps scout bombers and Navy torpedo bombers. Army Air Forces heavy bombers and torpedo-carrying medium bombers likewise bombed the Japanese carrier force without success, although without losses to themselves.

Between 0930 and 1030, Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo bombers from the three American carriers attacked the Japanese carriers. Although nearly wiped out by the defending Japanese fighters and antiaircraft fire, they drew off enemy aircraft, leaving the skies open for dive bombers from Enterprise and Yorktown. Douglas SBD Dauntlesses from Enterprise bombed and fatally damaged carriers Kaga and Akagi, while SBDs from Yorktown bombed and wrecked carrier Soryu.

Great history, great battle.

Wednesday, June 02, 2021

Future Wars - Complexity and the Price of Complacency

I tweeted yesterday about a interview by Kevin D. Wlliamson at National Review Dispatches from the Future Front. The interview is well worth reading for gems like this:

When President Biden said in his first phone call with President Putin that Ukrainian sovereignty is a priority for the United States, I thought: “All right! That’s a hell of a policy statement!” Of course, we have no strategy that underpins it, and you can’t have a strategy for

the Black Sea region if you haven’t figured out a strategy for how you’re going to deal with Russia. And now there’s a feeling that we’re going down the same path of thinking we can deal with these guys, negotiate with them — forget it, that’s not who they are and have been for hundreds of years. I don’t know why we allow ourselves to continue to be surprised.

Last night I was re-reading Tom Clancy's Red Storm Rising and this morning I started reading Future War and the Defence of Europe by John R. Allen, Frederick Ben Hodges, and Julian Lindley-French Ben Hodges is the author interviewed by Mr. Williamson

Both books posit war with Russia, though the Clancy book refers to the Soviet Union, and Future War is more global, involving fighting Russia and China and more. Both challenge the complacency of the U.S. and the Europeans with respect to Russia and China -  there seems to be be a belief negotiations will work, or that the U.S. will somehow pull Europe's bacon out of the fire, or that they will be "eaten last" - the newer book, being much more up to date on the current state of affairs, of course, including the shortfalls of the U.S. merchant fleet, U.S. Navy combatant warships, and more.

As a review here puts it:

Future War and the Defence of Europe offers a major new analysis of how peace and security can be maintained in Europe: a continent that has suffered two cataclysmic conflicts since 1914. Taking as its starting point the COVID-19 pandemic and way it will inevitably accelerate some key global dynamics already in play, the book goes on to weave history, strategy, policy, and technology into a compelling analytical narrative. *** Europeans should be under no illusion: unless they do far more for their own defence, and very differently, all that they now take for granted could be lost in the maze of hybrid war, cyber war, and hyper war they must face.

I highly recommend this book, which is available for a reasonable price in its Kindle form at Amazon.

Saturday, May 29, 2021

Saturday IS Old Radio Day: The Big Story- "The 13th Key" (1947)

True news articles brought to radio with a little dramatic flair. Perhaps not quite as dramatic as the Weekly World News and certainly more real.

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Planet Man "Orbit the Moon" and "Cosmic Communicator"

From the 1950 The Planet Man is described by Old Radio World:

..."The Planet Man" is the golly-gee-whillikers saga of Dantro, an intergalactic troubleshooter for an organization known as the League of Planets - "the law enforcement body for peace and justice in the celestial world."

Each episode last about 12 minutes.

Orbit the Moon

Cosmic Communicator

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Intermittent Posting

Posting may be even more irregular than usual over the next few weeks.

Nothing wrong, just involved in something else for a short period.

Thanks you for your patience.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar "The Chesapeake Fraud Matter" (1955)

Saturday Video: The Strategic Importance of Pipelines

What with the cyber attack on the Colonial Pipeline, see here:

A major oil pipeline that carries more than 100 million gallons of fuel from Houston to Linden, N.J., each day is shut down after the company that owns it was hit with a cyberattack.

Colonial Pipeline, which says it delivers about 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supply, shut down its entire pipeline network and some of its IT systems Friday.

It seems like a good idea to look at how pipelines serve as a strategic asset>

Not the first time this has been discussed at Eaglespeak - Sunday Ship History: Big Inch and Little Big Inch from about 14 years ago:

As the U-boats struck, supplies to the refineries dwindled, leading to a crisis of supply:
Tankers continued to be the number one target of the U-boats, and shortfalls in oil and oil product deliveries were beginning to seriously worry the oil industry. Oil companies were afraid they would be unable to deliver enough heating and fuel oil for the northeastern states.

In my view, the investigation and prosecution of whoever hacked Colonial needs to be pursued as a national security issue, a major cyber crime at least, and, if a foreign country is found to be involved, something akin to an act of war. If the latter case is true, serious sanctions need to be imposed. As far as Colonial goes, it's good they spotted the glitch, but their cyber game needs to be much better. Let this be a lesson to all our utilities.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Strategic Sealift - Issues that Won't Go Away

First up is a very short piece from Defense News which touches on the topic of who ought to pay for some Sealift ships - an argument has been made the the end user - the U.S. Army - might be a good source of funding. See here:

With bills piling up for the U.S. Navy, between manning and training a growing fleet and recapitalizing ballistic missile submarines, an influential Republican lawmaker is wondering if it is time for the nation’s ground force to chip in for its own transportation.

During a hearing before the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Va., asked Defense Secretary Mark Esper if the Army should shoulder the financial burden of recapitalizing the aging sealift fleet. In the event of a significant conflict, about 90 percent of the Army’s equipment would be transported by sea. But the sealift fleet charged with performing that mission is woefully unprepared.

“You stated that of the strategic necessities for our nation, that B-21 [next-generation bomber] was responsibility of the Air Force,” Wittman said, referring to an exclusive interview Esper gave to Defense News. “The Columbia-class [submarine] was the responsibility of the Navy.

“Since surge sealift capacity is the ability for the Army to get to the fight, should it not be the Army’s responsibility to fund surge sealift capacity?”

The following touches on the David Larter article linked above.

Of interest are discussions of the need for more ships in the national sealift fleet, especially tankers, as set out in this 2020 piece here:

Buzby, former commander of the Navy’s Military Sealift Command, agreed.

“We need more ships,” he said, adding that a strong case may be made for adding upwards of 50 more vessels.

The maritime administrator also called attention to a shortage of civilian mariners that threatens the nation’s ability to successfully executive a sustained sealift operation. Partly with that in mind, he said the country would benefit from an increase in commercial vessels rather than reserve-status ships (since the vessels themselves would have greater readiness and in turn would facilitate larger numbers of trained crews).

Kaskin advocated expansion of the U.S. Maritime Security Program and also supported an administration proposal to create a similar structure for tankers. He said only a half-dozen American-flag internationally-trading tankers are available for use by the military, and three of those are already leased by the Navy for current operations.

“The requirement that U.S. Transportation Command has shown – and earlier studies have shown – is that we need more than 78 tankers,” he said. “Adding 10 is not going to be sufficient. So, what we really need to do is find ways of utilizing the tankers that we have in the domestic fleet – the Jones Act [ships] – to be able to support wartime operations.”

Here's a 2018 panel discussing Strategic Sealift, featuring Sal Mercogliano as moderator. Actual taking begins around the 4:30 point, so skip ahead. Toward the end, there's another mention of the need for tankers.

As you may gather, the main issue in maintaining a fleet that can do what is demanded of it is money. Money which should be spent wisely with an keen eye on national strategic needs.

Saturday, May 01, 2021

On Midrats 2 May 2021 - Episode 591: May Day Midrats Melee!

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 2 May for Midrats Episode 591: May Day Midrats Melee!

OK, it is the day after May Day ... but that's close enough for government work.

As the entire maritime world this week decided to pick up on some Midrats favorites - poaching the Army's budget and making the Taiwanese porcupine a bit more imposing - could there be a better time for another Sal & Eagle One green range?

Open topic, open chat room, open phones.

We'll cover the waterfront and invite you to come on board for a broad ranging discussion of national and maritime security issues.

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.

Saturday Is Old Radio Day: A Case for Dr. Morelle "Alarm Call" (1957) BBC

As set out here:

Classic detective series with Harley Street psychiatrist Dr Morelle, who uses psychology, criminology and dogged persistence to solve crimes.

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

65 Years of Containers - repost of "50 Years of Containers" from 2006

A simple idea that changed the world as reported here:
They are simple steel boxes, 20 or 40 feet long and 81/2 feet high, with a pair of doors at one end and a wooden floor - truck trailers without wheels. Who would have thought such an ordinary creation would change the world? The cargo container has done just that, transforming the global economy in ways comparable to the telephone and the jet plane by making the world a little smaller. By dramatically increasing the efficiency of, and reducing the cost of, cargo transportation, the container has expanded markets for both U.S. and international goods. Now, it's commonplace to find Japanese televisions, Chinese clothing, Swedish furniture and German beer on American store shelves. The box altered the future of nations when manufacturing operations, chasing lower labor costs, sprouted throughout Asia, particularly in China. *** Malcom McLean, the owner of a North Carolina trucking company, launched the world on the path toward containerization and ultimately globalized the global economy. He didn't invent cargo boxes, but he did refit the first ship to carry containers . A variety of interchangeable metal cargo boxes had been tinkered with by various companies - mainly railroads - since at least the late 19th century, according to Levinson, a former editor at The Economist magazine. McLean overcame the financial and regulatory hurdles that caused others to stumble in their attempts to establish a useful container service. He was determined to make containers succeed, believing that growing highway congestion, plus road taxes and tolls, threatened the future of his successful trucking business, according to "The Box That Changed the World," written by Arthur Donovan and Joseph Bonney. McLean bought a shipping line and grew it into what became known as Sea-Land Service, which now exists as parts of the Danish shipping giant Maersk Line and the smaller U.S. carrier Horizon Lines. *** With containers, cargo could be packed once at the factory and unloaded once at the final destination. Along the way, that box might be carried by trucks, trains or ships. With the more efficient containers, labor costs plummeted because fewer workers were needed on the docks, on ships, in warehouses and on the railroads. Theft and damage also declined because the cargo was securely locked in the box. The cost of shipping goods worldwide now accounts for 1 percent or less of retail prices, according to "The Box That Changed the World." For example, it costs roughly 34 cents to ship a pair of shoes that sells for $45 in an American store from an Asian factory. And it costs about $12.50 to import a television that costs $2,500.
UPDATE: Of course container allow for some interesting "cargo".

Friday, April 23, 2021

On Midrats 25 April 2021- Episode 590: The Lessons of Service Squadron TEN, with Ryan Hilger

Please join us at 5pm EDT on 25 April 2021 for Midrats Episode 590: The Lessons of Service Squadron TEN, with Ryan Hilger

Home is thousands of miles away on the other side of the great Pacific Ocean. A deadly and relentless enemy is challenging ships and sailors for every island, cove, sea and shipping lane.

There is no time – or yard space – for damaged ships for travel home for repairs or resupply. Large shore facilities and ports anywhere near the fight are either under enemy control, or too dangerous and damaged to be useful.

How can the US Navy fight and win under these circumstances? We know the answer. We’ve been here before.

How can the war games of a century ago, and the war they helped win less than two decades later, help us today as we face another rising power in the Western Pacific?

For the full hour this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern to discuss this and related questions, will be Lieutenant Command Ryan Hilger, USN. We will use as a starting point for our conversation his recent article over at CIMSEC, Service Squadron TEN and the Great Western Naval Base.

Ryan is a Navy Engineering Duty Officer stationed in Melbourne, Florida. He has served on USS Maine (Gold) and USS Springfield as Chief Engineer. He holds a masters degree in Mechanical Engineering from the Naval Postgraduate School.

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.

Photo explained here

Friday Film: "Supply - Lifeblood of Seapower" (1959)

Thursday, April 22, 2021

Bringing Back Duelling

Charles C.W. Cooke at National Review has a little fun with current events in his In Defense of Teenage Knife Fighting

Is there any tradition that the radicals won’t ruin? As the brilliant Bree Newsome pointed out on Twitter, “Teenagers have been having fights including fights involving knives for eons.” And now people are calling the cops on them? I ask: Is this a self-governing country or not? When Newsome says, “We do not need police to address these situations by showing up to the scene & using a weapon,” she may be expressing a view that is unfashionable these days. But she’s right.

Disappointingly, my colleague Phil Klein has felt compelled to join the critics. In a post published yesterday, Phil asked in a sarcastic tone whether the police should “somehow treat teenage knife fights as they would harmless roughhousing and simply ignore it.” My answer to this is: Yes, that’s exactly what they should do — yes, even if they are explicitly called to the scene. I don’t know where Phil grew up, but where I spent my childhood, Fridays were idyllic: We’d play some football, try a little Super Mario Bros, have a quick knife fight, and then fire up some frozen pizza before bed. And now law enforcement is getting involved? This is political correctness gone mad.

Wile Mr. Cooke was being funny, it does remind me of the fact that once upon a time in our world, single combat was a method of settling differences, without law enforcement being involved. As set out in this PBS article, The History of Dueling in America

...By 1804, dueling had become an American fixture. And for another thirty years or more, its popularity would continue to grow.

Like many early American customs, dueling was imported. Starting in the Middle Ages, European nobles had defended their honor in man-to-man battles. An early version of dueling was known as "judicial combat," so called because God allegedly judged the man in the right and let him win. In an era known for its bloody encounters, judicial combats probably prevented men from killing in the heat of passion. Still, numerous authorities, including heads of state and the Catholic Church, banned dueling -- with little effect.

In 1777, a group of Irishmen codified dueling practices in a document called the Code Duello. The Code contained 26 specific rules outlining all aspects of the duel, from the time of day during which challenges could be received to the number of shots or wounds required for satisfaction of honor. An Americanized version of the Code, written by South Carolina Governor John Lyde Wilson, appeared in 1838. Prior to that, Americans made do with European rules.

In a typical duel, each party acted through a second. The seconds' duty, above all, was to try to reconcile the parties without violence. An offended party sent a challenge through his second. If the recipient apologized, the matter usually ended. If he elected to fight, the recipient chose the weapons and the time and place of the encounter. Up until combat began, apologies could be given and the duel stopped. After combat began, it could be stopped at any point after honor had been satisfied.

Edward Doty and Edward Lester, of the Massachusetts colony, fought the first recorded American duel in 1621, just a year after the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth. Armed with swords, both men sustained minor wounds. A unique aspect of this duel was that Doty and Leicester were servants. For the most part, only gentlemen dueled.


In America, duels were fought by men from all walks of life. But many of America's most important citizens defended their honor on the dueling grounds. Button Gwinnet, who had signed the Declaration of Independence, was shot down by General Lachlan McIntosh in a duel. Commodore Stephen Decatur of the United States Navy, an experienced duelist, died at the hands of another commodore, James Barron. And Abraham Lincoln narrowly averted a battle with swords by apologizing to an Illinois state official he had ridiculed in a local newspaper.

Well, we may need to bring back duelliing. And forget that part about "only gentlemen duelled" - it should be open to all regardless of gender, creed, race, sexual identity, and national origin.

In fact, we ought to shame all those who seek to settle differences by "drive by" shootings by declaring them to be cowardly scum and point out that if they were brave enough nothing should prevent them from dropping a gauntlet on their foe and seeking redress on the duelling grounds. While I don't know what drove the young woman in Columbus to attempt to knife fight, it would have been better had she declared her concerns and challenged her opponents to a duel, with a choice of weapons.

It seems to me that such duels, properly seconded and attended by medical personnel, would greatly simplify policing and reduce the threat to innocent parties.

Just a thought.

Monday, April 19, 2021

BBC Report on Russia's Direction

BBC report

Love it or hate it, preserving the INSURV process is important

USNI News reportsHouse Lawmakers Introduce Bill to Save Navy’s INSURV Reports

House Armed Services readiness subcommittee chairman Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) and Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) – the vice ranking member of HASC and the ranking member of the HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee – have written the Naval Readiness Act to continue the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) reports.

If passed, the bill would “make permanent” the INSURV report, according to the text, and mandate both a classified report for lawmakers and an unclassified report for the public. The legislation would also require the Navy to brief lawmakers on the report’s findings.


“INSURV gives us a snapshot of the material condition of our fleet, and a thorough one at that. It’s not the most popular program on the deck-plate; from the most junior enlisted to the most senior officer, it is a dreaded inspection, but a necessary one. It ensures that every submarine that submerges, surfaces; every warship that deploys, returns home,” Wittman said in a news release.


While the reports have long caused headaches for the Navy, as inspections leading to sub-par results have reflected poorly on the service and its ships, HASC lawmakers have told USNI News the assessments are essential for understanding the state of the service’s ships.

“I think that the transparency is really important, and I also think that the report should not be classified,” Rep. Elaine Luria (D-Va.), a former Navy nuclear-qualified surface warfare officer who is now the vice chair of HASC, told USNI News last month. “I think that the taxpayers need to understand how the Navy’s being maintained, how their tax dollars are being used and what the readiness of our Navy is for our national defense.”

Photo from the INSURV website:

Chief Warrant Officer 4 Greg Fenske and a member of the Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) team inspect parts from an ordnance jettison locker aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68). The ship is undergoing INSURV in preparation for an upcoming deployment. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Colby S. Comery/Released)

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 17 March - 14 April 2021

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

Sunday, April 18, 2021

On Midrats 18 April 2021 - Episode 589: Mid-April Melee

Please join us at 5pm on 18 April 2021 for Midrats Episode 589: Mid-April Melee

Sometimes, Midrats is like a VLS cell; you don't know what you have until ... wait ... bad analogy... but you get the concept.

Today for the full hour, come join us for a classic Midrats melee ... we take on all topics as they come in to range. I'm sure we'll cover the latest Black Sea happenings, interesting justifications for more DDG in Rota, and WESTPAC always makes and appearance.

Join us live if you can an roll in with your preferred topic in the chat room or call the switchboard number right here on the showpage.

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, April 15, 2021

If we are going to withdraw from Afghanistan, let's open up our shores to those who supported us there

Most of you reading this are too young to remember the way we left Vietnam and what happened afterwards. Here's some reminders:

If you think that horror show was bad, recall the brutality of the Taliban and think what it means for those people who have struggled along with the US, NATO, and others to do something different with Afghanistan.

I urge that, along with the planned withdrawal of US forces, and NATO forces, and other forces, that there is a plan to allow all those who allied themselves with those forces and agencies to remove themselves safely from harm's way.

There have been enough victims of this long affair and we owe our Afghan allies safe passage to safer places than that of that of Taliban controlled areas.

Sunday, April 11, 2021

On Midrats 11 April 2021 - Episode 588: The Supply Chains that Bind Us, with Ross Kennedy

Please join us at 5pm EDT for Midrats Episode 588: The Supply Chains that Bind Us, with Ross Kennedy

Our comfortable, modern life exists on a delicate fabric of global transportation, laws, and lines of communication supported by assumptions of stability, peace, and professional competance.

Over the last twelve months, from COVID-19 to EVER GIVEN in the Suez, the delicate nature off the global system of trade that allows affordable technogy, food, and the full spectrum of consumer goods has broken in to the open for everyone to see.

Is the global system of trade as delicate as it seems? Where are its weakest points, and how robust is it to various disruptions?

Our guest for the full hour to discuss this and related topis will be Ross Kennedy.

Ross is a U.S.-based logistics and supply chain expert with more than fifteen years in international transportation, procurement, and analysis. His unique blend of operations, sales, and strategic planning allows him to provide creative, agile solutions for his public- and private-sector clientele.

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.

Screenshot from Marine Traffic

Thursday, April 08, 2021

Ship and Aircraft Laser Systems - Now, Now, Now, Please!

Interesting stuff from Lockheed Martin Harnessing the Power of Lasers

Our technology today is ready to defend against small rockets, artillery shells and mortars, small unmanned aerial vehicles, small attack boats and lightweight ground vehicles that are approximately a mile way. As fiber laser power levels increase, our systems will be able to disable larger threats and do so across greater distances. When operated in conjunction with kinetic energy systems, these systems can serve as a force multiplier.

Coming soon to an Arleigh Burke destroyer, Lockheed Martin’s HELIOS Laser Weapon System Takes Step Toward Ship Integration

Later this year, the Navy plans to install a production high-energy solid-state laser system on board a West Coast Arleigh Burke–class guided-missile destroyer (DDG). The system, now called the High-Energy Laser with Integrated Optical Dazzler and Surveillance (HELIOS) unit, was developed as increment 1 of the Surface Navy Laser Weapon System program.

Vice Admiral Ron Boxall says the funding is already in place for HELIOS installation on board a Flight IIA ship.

Lockheed Martin’s Integrated Warfare Sensor Systems developed the HELIOS under a $150 million contract awarded in January 2018 for one system for ship installation and a second for land-based testing. The award includes options for 14 more.

Joe Ottaviano, the company’s business development director, says the system went through critical design review and factory qualification testing last year. It was delivered to a Navy test site in December. He says it already has been integrated with the Aegis combat system in various configurations for the different destroyer flights.

For years, the Navy has researched lasers and other directed-energy weapons (such as microwave and particle-beam systems) to advance ship defense against surface craft, aircraft, antiship missiles, and unmanned vehicles. A laser, drawing power from the ship service power system, has an “endless magazine” that Ottaviano says “never runs out of bullets.”

The Navy wants a 60-kilowatt (kW) shipboard solid-state laser that could be increased up to 150 kW. Subsequent increments will ramp up power even further. The Navy’s Fiscal Year 2021 budget request says the system “provides a low cost-per-shot capability” for antisurface warfare; to destroy unmanned aerial systems and fast inshore attack craft; and for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, thanks to its integrated optics.

The development is part of the Navy’s Laser Family of Systems program, which includes two other initiatives: the solid-state laser technology maturation (SSL-TM) program, an Office of Naval Research (ONR) effort, and an optical dazzling interdictor known as ODIN.

More on the SSL-TM program here:

And on submarines:

The Navy Is Arming Attack Submarines With High Energy Lasers

The development is part of the Navy’s Laser Family of Systems program, which includes two other initiatives: the solid-state laser technology maturation (SSL-TM) program, an Office of Naval Research (ONR) effort, and an optical dazzling interdictor known as ODIN.

The U.S. Navy's Virginia Class attack submarines are formidable weapons platforms. They carry advanced-capability (ADCAP) torpedoes and Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. But apparently this is not enough. They are to be the first subs in the world armed with a powerful laser as well.

Documents suggest that the High Energy Laser (HEL) could be incredibly powerful, around 300 kilowatts. And eventually be up to 500 kilowatts. The power will come from the submarine’s nuclear reactor which has a capacity of 30 megawatts. And there are indications that it may already have been tested using a towed power generator instead.

***It is unclear why the Navy wants to fit a laser to submarines. One of the possible uses will be as a last ditch defense against aircraft such as drones and anti-submarine helicopters.***

Much more Report on Navy Laser, Railgun and Gun-Launched Guided Projectiles

Friday, April 02, 2021

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

Once Again, Chokepoints, SLOCs, the Importance of Navies

First off, what is a "chokepoint?" There is very nice definition by John Daly here:

Ever since men first put to sea, conflicts have swirled around narrow maritime passages known as choke points. A subset of the broader category of Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs), maritime choke points act as funnels drawing in shipping from surrounding seas. As critical pressure points in naval struggles for "command of the sea," every navy seeks to secure them while denying their use to the enemy.

Oh, those "Sea Lines of Communication?" Back in 2011, I tried to clarify:

Back in the beginning days of this blog, I had a couple of posts about "sea lanes" and their importance. For example, from 2005, there was a post cleverly titled "Sea Lanes". I wrote then:

I keep posting about sea lanes. What are these things? Sea lanes are trade routes - almost like highways in the sea, where due to geography, ocean going vessels follow certain paths to avoid islands, shallows and other impediments to their travel. They are also generally the most efficient routes to get from Point A to Point B - as close to straight line travel as a ship can accomplish given the number of obstacles in its path.
Since then, there have been hundreds of posts here in which I refer to either "sea lanes" or "sea lines of communication" (see, e.g. Sea Lines of Communication (SLOCs)). There can be a difference between the two terms, since SLOC can have a military meaning that I have generally ignored here.

However, what is important to know about sea lanes or SLOCs is that they exist and that they are a major reason that nations interested in international commerce have navies - to keep the sea lanes open. In discussing maritime security, keeping sea lanes open is a major topic.

We hear a lot about how many things travel by sea. From crude oil to grain to large screen TVs to cars and much more, cheaper shipping has allowed the entire world to benefit from global product distribution (see here and here). Where do these products travel? Sea lanes. An excellent example of these sea lanes is shown on this Naval War College slide (which I have borrowed without shame):

There it is, a picture of world commerce. Those are not war ships wending their way across oceans, those are merchant ships moving the goods that make the world go. You might note that there are places where the traffic converges to pass through narrow areas. These are referred to as "chokepoints", "Chokepoints are narrow channels along widely used global sea routes . . ."

Large ships sail on rigid schedules, carrying parts from Japan to the U.S. or to Europe in such a reliable manner that warehouse costs are reduced by planning for "just in time" deliveries of products.

So, when there is a disruption in the smooth flow of goods, say from the recent earthquake in Japan, there are ripple effects that impact more than the Japanese part manufacturers.

A similar effect is caused by things that interfere with sea lanes. These might be something like a catastrophe that strikes a chokepoint like a closure of the Suez Canal.

Over 16 years ago,  I first discussed the importance of "chokepoints" on this blog.  During that period, we have seen the effects of pirates and nations interdicting ships headed to and from key chokepoints leading to and from the Indian Ocean, in the Straits of Malacca and Hormuz. 

After the recent ship grounding in the Suez Canal which is, after all,  both a very long "chokepoint" and a SLOC, some people seem to have finally taken note that there is a world-wide system of movement of trade goods and vital energy cargo that takes place on the oceans and seas of the world. 

If they had been paying attention, they could have referred to the U.S. Energy Information Agency and its World Oil Transit Chokepoints Analysis Brief from whence comes the below illustration:


All estimates in million barrels per day. Includes crude oil and petroleum liquids. Based on 2016 data.
Source: U.S. Energy Information Administration

In 1996, the U.S. National Defense University published Chokepoints: Maritime Economic Concerns in Southeast Asia which I have added below. While the data contained therein is no longer valid, and probably hugely understated given the growth of the economies of the countries of Asia, the concerns expressed are not outdated, and, like the data, probably understated.

Strategic Chokepoints of So... by lawofsea

How do we keep these vital SLOCs and chokepoints open? We have navies and coast guards that patrol the seas to thwart pirates and sea robbers. We worry about the effects of local rebel or national forces who occupy territory adjacent to chokepoints who might do damage to ships as they transit them, as we see with the Houti rebels in Yemen or the forces of countries like Iran. Remember the attempted attack on a U.S. Navy destroyer in 2016?

U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Peter J. Carney 

A U.S. Navy guided missile destroyer was targeted on Sunday in a failed missile attack from territory in Yemen controlled by Iran-aligned Houthi rebels, a U.S. military spokesman told Reuters, saying neither of the two missiles hit the ship.


The attempted strike on the USS Mason, which was first reported by Reuters, came just a week after a United Arab Emirates vessel came under attack from Houthis and suggests growing risks to the U.S. military from Yemen’s conflict.


Last week’s attack on the UAE vessel also took place around the Bab al-Mandab strait, in what the UAE branded an “act of terrorism.”

In 2013, more than 3.4 million barrels of oil passed through the 20 km (12 mile)-wide Bab al-Mandab each day, the U.S. Energy Information Administration says.

It was unclear what actions the U.S. military might take, but Davis stressed a commitment to defend freedom of navigation and protect U.S. forces.

"Defend fredom of navigation." Exactly. And which is why we need a large and strong Navy.

Monday, March 29, 2021

U.S. Navy Office of Naval Intelligence Worldwide Threat to Shipping (WTS) for 24 February to 24 March 2021

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

Not mentioned, probably because it occurred after ONI closed its report, is a reported missile attack in the Arabian Sea, reported here:

A cargo ship owned by an Israeli company was damaged by a missile in the Arabian Sea on Thursday in what was suspected to be an Iranian attack, an Israeli security official said.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the ship was on its way from Tanzania to India and was able to continue its voyage after the attack.

The official did not provide further details.

According to Israel’s Ynet news website, the ship sailing under a Liberian flag did not sustain serious damage and Channel 12 news reported the ship is owned by XT Management, based in the port city of Haifa.

Dryad Global has more info and pictures here.

Saturday, March 27, 2021

On Midrats 28 March 2021 - Episode 586: Focus DOD, Focus – with Thomas Spoehr

Please join us at 5pm on 28 March 2021 EDT for Midrats Episode 586: Focus DOD, Focus – with Thomas Spoehr:

Can a military organization suffer from attention deficit disorder? There are very few moments in time – the mid-1990s was a rare one – where a nation’s national security apparatus has the luxury and white space to get distracted and complacent. 2021 is not one of those times.

With a new leadership team in place in DOD, are we sure they are focused on the important challenges of China, North Korea, Iran, and Russia?

What are the top distractions that those concerned with the proper stewardship of our nation’s defense need to make sure don’t entice away time, money, and effort?

With his recent article, Don’t Let the Department of Defense Become the Department of Distraction, as a starting point for our conversation, our guest this Sunday from 5-6pm Eastern will be Thomas Spoehr, Lieutenant General, USA (Ret.).

Thomas is the director of The Heritage Foundation's Center for National Defense where he is responsible for supervising research on matters involving U.S. national defense. He is an expert on national defense policy and strategy, and has testified before the U.S. Congress on defense strategy, budgets and equipment modernization. His articles and commentary have been published widely in both civilian and military media and he is often called upon to provide expert commentary and analysis.

He earned a bachelor’s degree in Biology from the College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA, a Masters of Arts in Public Administration from Webster University in St. Louis, MO, and a Master of Arts in Strategic Studies from the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle, PA.

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, March 24, 2021

"Well, Yes It Was Wrong to Fire You, Colonel. Good Luck Getting Your Reputation Back."

A sad tale that never should have happened, Navy board, former commandant agree: Marine colonel should not have been fired

On Feb. 22 the Board of Correction of Naval Records issued its decision, that all adverse paperwork related to Mann’s relief be removed from his official record.

“The Board noted that Petitioner’s relief was due to a loss of trust and confidence in his ability to command and lead Marines, but that the (Command Investigation) contained no information that Petitioner knew about the inappropriate actions of his subordinates that led to the sergeant’s Request Mast, or that he contributed to a climate that would have accepted that conduct,” the board wrote.

“In fact, the (Command Investigation) reveals that (Mann) took actions to correct the problems with the climate in the command and when he learned of his subordinate’s actions, he reversed their poor decisions,” the board wrote.

The board specifically addressed McMillian’s reasoning that commanders are responsible for all that their unit does and fails to do, noting, “that there are limits to what is reasonable.”

The board found that Mann was held to an “unreasonable level of accountability.”

Interesting. It's like common sense prevailed over knee jerk reaction. Hope it's a trend for the future.

Tuesday, March 23, 2021