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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