BIg Eyes

Sunday, July 25, 2021

On Midrats 25 July 2021- Episode 598: Maritime Melee!


Please join us at 5pm (EDT) on 25 July 2021 for Midrats Episode 598: Maritime Melee!

Tired of hearing "DELTA" related to COVID, when in a good and just world when you heard that word it would be used to talk about old Russian Soviet Era SSBN or 2-seater all weather F-18s?

Well, we're not sure we'll cover either of those topics on today's episode or that we'll totally ignore COVID's impact in the natsec arena, but it's a melee - so you never know what will come up in the maritime national security conversation.

We do have a few topics to get the conversation started; the CNO admits what everyone knew about FORD for over a decade, the RAF is making the reasoning behind "strategic homeporting" sexy again, the Olympics.

Remember, with the melee format, if you have a chance to catch the you can join in the chat room or call in with the topic of your choice and make the show your own.

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

Friday, July 16, 2021

On Midrats 18 July 2021 - Episode 597: Ukraine & the Eastern Black Sea with CAPT Chris Rawley, USNR


Please join us at 5pm EDT 18 July 2021 for Midrats Episode 597: Ukraine & the Eastern Black Sea with CAPT Chris Rawley, USNR

If it is early summer in the Black Sea, it is time for the annual Ukrainian hosted international exercise Sea Breeze.

Why is this exercise important, who came along, and what does it tell us about the state of the Ukrainian Navy, maritime security in the contested eastern Black Sea, and some interesting responses from the Russians.

Recently returning from the exercise and joining us for the full hour will be returning guest, Captain Chris Rawley, USNR.

CAPT Rawley is the Reserve Chief of Staff for US. Naval Forces Europe and Africa. Over his 29 year career, he has deployed to the Persian Gulf, Western Pacific, Iraq, Afghanistan, and across Africa.

In his civilian career, Chris is the founder and CEO of Harvest Returns, a platform for investing in agriculture.

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: HMS Defender, USS Laboon and HMNLS Evertsen take station for close proximity sailing as a Russian warship watches from afar (rear of picture) whilst on maritime operations in the Black Sea. Photo by Dan Rosenbaum, HMS Defender

Friday Film: U.S. Navy Air Combat " Fundamental Fixed Gunnery Approaches " (1943)

Sunday, July 11, 2021

On Midrats 11 July 2021 Episode 596: Mid-Summer SITREP


Please join us at 5pm on 11 July 2021 for Midrats Episode 596: Mid-Summer SITREP

Sal and EagleOne are back after July 4th with a full plate of catching up to do on the waterfront from ghosting Afghanistan, Japan & Taiwan's awkward natsec flirting, the INDOPACCOM J2 isn't all that happy with what he's discovered west of Wake, and the ever popular question, how many years is a 30-yr CG good for.

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



Friday, July 09, 2021

The U.S. African Slave Trade Patrol 1820 -1861 and the Royal Navy West Africa Squadron Anti-Slavery Patrols


Anti-slavery Operations of the US Navy

Long illegal, the infamous slave trade was declared by Congress in 1819 to be piracy, and as such, punishable by death. The Navy's African Slave Trade Patrol was established to search for and bring to justice the dealers in human misery. Never exceeding a few ships in number, the Patrol, which from time to time included USS Constitution, USS Constellation, USS Saratoga and USS Yorktown, relentlessly plied the waters off West Africa, South America, and the Cuban coast, a principle area for slave disembarkation. By the start of the Civil War more than 100 suspected slavers had been captured.

Britain attempted to stop slavery by legislation in 1807, and enacted stronger measures in 1827, declaring that participation in the slave trade was piracy and punishable by death; slavery was made illegal in the British Empire in 1833.


Interesting note on where slaves were landed from historian Henry Lois Gates, Jr.:

In the 360 years between 1500 and the end of the slave trade in the 1860s, at least 12 million Africans were forcibly taken to the Americas - then known as the "New World" to European settlers. This largest forced migration in human history relocated some 50 ethnic and linguistic groups.

Only a small portion of the enslaved - less than half a million - were sent to North America. The majority went to South America and the Caribbean. In the mid-1600s, Africans outnumbered Europeans in nascent cities such as Mexico City, Havana and Lima.

The Foote booklet referenced in the second video (at 1:06:18) can be found at African Squadron: Ashburton Treaty: Consular Letters

The American Flag has become deeply involved in the slave traffic. Of this as you are aware, from the reports of our officers on the African and Brazil stations and from our diplomatic agents in Rio de Janeiro, there is abundant evidence in the Navy and State Departments. To correct this abuse, and with the design more effectually to suppress the slave trade, Senator Clayton, at the last session, introduced a bill denying consular sea-letters to American Vessels when sold abroad, provided such vessels were bound to the coast of Africa. This wise and beneficent measure was adopted, the bill passing the Senate unanimously. It is greatly to be deplored that the same bill was not immediately taken up and passed by the House of Representatives.

It may be well here to remark in reference to sea-letters, that on the sale of an American vessel in a foreign port to an American citizen, the register of the vessel, which is her proof of nationality, cannot be transferred with the vessel itself; but a sea-letter, which is merely a transcript of the register and bill of sale with the consular seal appended, is given by the Consul as a substitute for said register for the purpose of nationalizing the vessel.

The greatest abuse of our flag has arisen from the facility with which these consular sea-letters have been obtained. More than two-thirds of the slavers on the African coast claiming American nationality, as may be found in documentary evidence, have been provided with this sea-letter. Or in other words, American vessels when sold abroad, have had their nationality perpetuated by this consular sea-letter for the express purpose of being employed in the African slave trade. And surely, when the evil arising from the issuing of this document becomes as well understood in the House, as it has been in the Senate, it may be supposed, that the bill, denying said sea-letters to African bound vessels, will also be passed unanimously by that body.

Friday Film: "Flying Sense" (1944)

Tuesday, July 06, 2021

Crimes Against Shipping in 2021 to Date

The ICC's International Maritime Bureau provides an invaluable source of locating the "hot spots" of criminal and other activity affecting shipping at its IMB Piracy & Armed Robbery Map 2021, from which these screenshots are taken:

Overview - the key at the top pertains to all images below.


Southeast Asia


Singapore Strait


Africa/Middle East


Gulf of Guinea Region


Americas and Caribbean


If you are interested in reading the reports which generate these maps the IMB's Live Piracy & Armed Robbery Report 2021 maintains a running log of all such events.

The IMB is to be commended for its excellent work in this area, amd reminds that piracy and sea robbery and other threats to shipping are an on-going problem.

Thursday, July 01, 2021

Donald Rumsfeld: “ ‘Well done, good and faithful servant!"

Excellent piece by his former speechwriter here:

Rumsfeld was one of the last of the old-school public servants, who was kind to people in small, quiet ways; who helped a loved one cope with crippling drug addiction while simultaneously managing a war; who was friends with people ranging from the Kennedys to the Cheneys to Sammy Davis, Jr. and could put politics and policies aside to value them as people.

Mr. Rumsfeld was kind enough to join us on Midrats in April 2011.

In this time of demanding instant gratification, it's worth remembering one of his "Rumsfeld Rules"

Strategy doesn’t begin at one point and end at another. It involves planning and evaluation, requiring trade-offs and decisions along the way. It takes work, thought, and time.

His website can be found here.