<![CDATA[Floods in Pakistan are a growing problem for the governments not only in Islamabad but in the US as well. The demand for helicopters to ferry supplies and rescue workers is being shouted from those suffering on the ground, and the radicals are certainly adding fuel to the fire by spreading the idea "they can use the helicopters to attack us but not save us?" Needless to say, it's getting some traction. The US dispatched 6 desperately needed helicopters from combat operations in Afghanistan, but with the arrival of the USS Peleliu those six will return to be replaced by 19 USMC helos (eventhough, in an unrelated incident, the captain of the Peleliu was relieved of command last weekend).
Last year the disaster was in Haiti, and before then we had earthquakes and tsunamis all of which required a significant deployment of US combat capabilities in a humanitarian effort. Sometimes these come at a cost, such as when our aircraft carriers were working with the Indonesian tsunami and we had to offload all the combat aircraft (carrier pilots need to land on a carrier every 21 days to maintain proficiency, which was nearly impossible with all the relief operations ongoing on the deck and the refusals of local governments for military aircraft to operate in their airspace).
While the military does a wonderful job assisting in humanitarian efforts, it’s sometimes like calling the fire department to rescue a cat from a tree. Is the military the most efficient resource we can send to a humanitarian crisis? Is there a better suited federal agency or group that could provide necessary assistance?
Perhaps it is time for the Peace Corps to develop a Navy.
Taking a few amphibious assault vessels out of the reserve fleets and turning them over to the Peace Corps might be an interesting approach. Staffed with Peace Corps volunteers, professional (contract) pilots, and merchant mariners, we could develop a small fleet of emergency assistance vessels that would patrol the worlds oceans providing medical assistance to impoverished lands and responding to natural disasters with their own fleet of specially suited rescue and logistics helicopters. Without the ‘US Military’ label that goes on some operations, countries might be more willing to accept assistance. Take the Chinese earthquake in Sichaun in 2008. Existing Chinese military units were vastly overstretched, but national pride prevented initial requests for international assistance. Had an amphibious ‘rescue’ vessel been offshore or in Hong Kong the response from the US could have been non-militaristic and immediate.
Of course given the budget deficits and the fact that humanitarian dollars flowing to the Pentagon help to offset some of the operational expenses of the forces, I don’t foresee this happening anytime soon. C’est la vie.]]>
<![CDATA[So a few months back I was walking through Baltimore and came across what you see in the photo below. Although I was never in the Navy and have been known to make some mistakes, I was pretty certain that what I was looking at was a warship, a fact confirmed after I walked to the bow and saw the large deck gun that you can see in the second photo below.
Now the reason I mention all this is because what was obvious to me and my 3 year old son, namely that this was a warship, is apparently beyond the capabilities of a Somali pirate, a few of whom decided to launch a raid on the HNLMS Tromp, a Dutch frigate on anti-piracy patrols off of Somalia.
Why are there so many idiots around the world.
[caption id="attachment_2926" align="alignleft" width="512" caption="This is not a cargo vessel"][/caption]
[caption id="attachment_2927" align="alignleft" width="512" caption="This is not a cargo vessel from this view either."][/caption]]]>
<![CDATA[[caption id="attachment_2720" align="alignright" width="300" caption="USCG Cutters off the coast of Haiti"][/caption]
I put together a list of Navy vessels being sent to Haiti. Quite an armada.
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)
USS Bataan (LHD 5)
USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43)
USS Carter Hall (LSD 50)
USS Underwood (FFG 36)
USNS Comfort (T-AH-20)
USS Higgins (DDG-76)
USS Normany (CG-60)
[caption id="attachment_2721" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Damage to the ports in Haiti"][/caption]
Looking out over the Bay tonight was quite pretty as we had some clear skies and a rather large moon rising. But then I noticed this really bright light about 9:00 PM that wasn’t usually there (the other side of the Bay is rather desolate–I can often count the number of lights I see pretty easily)
This was a bit different. It blazed brightly and flickered a bit, kind of like a fire. The odd thing was it was about 40 feet up in the air, and I also saw another flickering light down below (fire truck?).
Unfortunately distortion over the water prevents me from seeing clearly just what is going on over there. The Naval Research Lab has a large tower over there for radar research. I hope that’s not what I saw on fire (maybe they were doing laser tests or something).
UPDATE: Went and got the bigger binoculars out of the basement and…still no idea. It might not be a fire but some really powerful light, being distorted in shape and intensity due to the water vapor over the Bay tonight. It’s still going on after 40 minutes and that tower really doesn’t have the much fuel (it’s not that big). Guess I’ll just have to wait and see…
We’ll check the Eastern Shore papers tomorrow and see what’s what.
<![CDATA[gin: 5px; border: 1px solid black;" src="https://www.penguinsix.com/images/sub.jpg" alt="" width="400" />Ok, I know it sounds odd, but I swear I just saw 1/2 of a Submarine go past the house on top of a barge.
I went to the AIS site and the barge is the:
UPDATE: It might be the front bit that goes in below the waterline in front of a ship:
Couple interesting vessels today. The first was a destroyer leaving Annapolis and making its way back toward Norfolk. Turns out it was the USS Cole, famous from the attack in Yemen a few years back. It was in Annapolis for the homecoming game (which Navy lost miserably to Pitt).
The second is the Gazela Primerio, a barquentine heading toward Baltimore for the annual clipper race which will be in a few days.
After the Cole was attacked it was ferried back to the US for repairs.
The Ukranian freighter loaded with T-72 tanks has been surrounded by a number of US and other naval vessels off the coast of Somalia. The pirates have responded by lowering their demand from $35 million to $20 million for the cargo, that some say is destined to be delivered to Kenya.
That’s a load of crap.
These T-72s are going to the Sudan despite an international ban on arms sales to that rogue country. Kenya does not use Russian made tanks, and it is pretty clear to many they are just the middlemen for this lucrative deal to the Sudanese government. It’s clear we need to act, and we have the opportunity to do so.
We should sink the ship.
Give the crew a chance to jump overboard, and maybe the pirates as well, but I don’t think anyone would shed a tear if this cargo went to the bottom of the sea. It would send a great message to pirates and to suppliers of the Sudanese regime that the embargo on their country has teeth.
File this in the ‘not good’ category. A boatload of 30 T-72 tanks was intercepted off the coast of Somalia but the Somali pirates, who will likely be adding these weapons. Just what Africa needs more of–tanks and ammunition.
Hopefully they’ll be dumb enough to put one of the tanks on a small boat and try to attack someone with it.