Quotulatiousness

January 9, 2018

The ongoing financial catastrophe that is the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy

Filed under: Australia, Bureaucracy, Business, Cancon, Military — Tags: , , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

Ted Campbell rounds up recent discussions of the Canadian government’s farcical National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS):

There is a somewhat biased but still very useful look at the successes of the National Shipbuilding Procurement Strategy (NSPS) in the Ottawa Citizen by Howie Smith who is the Past President of the Naval Association of Canada. Mr Smith is a retired Canadian naval officer who has provided consultancy services to several firms pursuing opportunities within the projects of the National Shipbuilding Strategy, which is why his article is somewhat biased. Mr Smith is responding to a recent report by Professor Michael Byers of the University of British Columbia, who is also a biased commentator on defence issues, which said that the NSPS “was flawed from the outset” and “According to Byers, the Liberal government should open-up the non-contractually-binding umbrella agreements with Irving and Seaspan, then cancel and restart the Canadian Surface Combatant and the Joint Support Ship procurement programs with fixed-price competitions involving completely ‘off the shelf’ designs.”

It is important, I believe, to understand why Canada needed something like the NSPS in the first place. The notion came in about the middle of the Harper government’s term in office – in around 2010. I think that two problems confronted the government:

  • The Canadian shipbuilding industry was, once again, “on the ropes;” Davie, Canada’s largest shipyard was in bankruptcy and the other yards were too reliant on government contracts; and
  • Both of the major federal fleets (the Royal Canadian Navy and the Canadian Coast Guard) were approaching “rust out,” again.

The solution to the first problem was to modernize the yards and make them internationally competitive … but that would cost money and private investment money is scarce ~ especially for shipbuilding, plus under the international trade rules to which Canada has agreed direct government subsidies to commercial shipyards are prohibited. The solution to shipyards that are too reliant on government contracts was ~ wait for it ~ another big government contract that would allow them to modernize themselves.

That indirect government subsidy is perfectly legal if the contracts are for navy and coast guard ships because “national security” is a big loophole in international trade law.

Both Professor Byers and Mr Smith have some good points … but neither is 100% correct. The NSPS was and remains a sound idea … the costs, which is the real crux of Professor Byers’ complaint, are not relevant because the defence and coast guard budgets are being (mis)used for industrial development ~ those are not the real costs of warships: they are the real costs of warships PLUS the cost of yard modernization.

The new surface combatant project is, as Mr Smith says, the biggest and costliest peacetime military procurement ever … and the NSPS is working just about a well as any “system” would at bringing it to fruition. At some point in the future a government will have to decide if Canada gets fewer ships than it needs or spends more more money than it wants … or, most likely, both.

That last sentence has always been the most likely outcome: the RCN will get fewer ships than it needs, and those ships will be significantly more expensive per hull than they need to be. The need for modern naval vessels isn’t the top priority … it’s probably not even in the top three priorities as far as the government is concerned (directing money to the “right” recipients, pandering to provincial sensibilities, lots of photo ops, and then maybe the actual needs of the RCN and CCG).

Update: Of course, it’s not like Canada is unique in the problems we have in military procurement … Australia is also struggling in a similar way:

The [Royal Australian] Navy’s program to replace the Collins Class submarines is known as SEA 1000. It involves modification of a French Barracuda Class submarine from nuclear to diesel-electric propulsion, plus other changes specific to Australia.

The 12 new submarines, to be known as Shortfin Barracudas, are intended to begin entering service in the early 2030s with construction extending to 2050. The program is estimated to cost $50 billion and will be the largest and most complex defence acquisition project in Australian history.

[…]

Then there’s the decision to build them in Australia. The Abbott government’s 2016 Defence White Paper only committed to building them in Australia if it could be done without compromising capability, cost or project schedule. That changed because of South Australian politics, and the new submarines could now be more appropriately described as the Xenophon class.

Even if all goes well, the cost of building warships in Australia will be 30 to 40 per cent more than if they were built overseas. However, the plan to build them in Adelaide at the Australian Submarine Corporation, the same group currently building the Air Warfare Destroyer, years late and a billion dollars over budget, adds to a sense of foreboding.

This follows the prize fiasco of the Collins Class submarine project. Their construction by the Australian Submarine Corporation ran years behind schedule, many millions over budget, and finally delivered a platform that the Navy has struggled to even keep operational.

And then there is the question of whether the new submarines will arrive before the Collins Class subs are retired, scheduled for 2026 to 2033. Even if delivery occurs on schedule, the first will not enter service until 2033. At best there will be one new submarine in service and a nine year gap between the retirement of the Collins Class and the introduction into service of the first six of the twelve new submarines.

Given this, the government has apparently committed an additional $15 billion to keep the 30 year old Collins submarines bobbing in the water. It’s like refurbishing a World War 2 German U-Boat for the mid-1990s.

The elements are all there for the submarine replacement program to become the procurement scandal of the century. Our Shortfin Barracudas will probably be the most expensive submarines ever built anywhere in the world.

For a lot less money, we could achieve a far more potent submarine capability. For example, off-the-shelf Japanese Soryu submarines cost only US$540 million. Modified to meet additional Navy requirements, they were quoted as costing A$750 million. If we simply bought twelve of those, the total cost to the taxpayer would be less than A$10 billion.

Equally, the existing nuclear Barracudas only cost $2 billion each, so we could get twelve of those for $24 billion.

For such an important defence capability, the government’s failure to guarantee Australia is protected by submarines is nothing less than gross negligence.

December 28, 2017

How A Cargo Ship Helped Win WW2: The Liberty Ship Story

Filed under: Britain, History, Military, USA, WW2 — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Mustard
Published on 14 Nov 2017

During World War Two, hundreds of cargo ships raced across the Atlantic in an effort to keep Britain supplied. But these ships were being sunk by German U-boats, warships and aircraft. In 1940 alone, over a thousand allied ships were lost on their way to Britain.

The United States, while not yet at war, was playing a vital role in supplying Britain. But with ships being sunk daily, Britain and America desperately needed a way to keep all that material moving across the Atlantic. In response, 18 shipyards across the coastal United States mobilized to build thousands of large cargo ships known as Liberty Ships. They would be built even faster than the enemy could sink them. At one point the shipyards were building one large Liberty Ship every eight hours.

Two revolutionary changes in shipbuilding will make this enormous feat possible. The first is welding and the second is the use of a modular assembly process. By mid 1941, the sheer number Liberties out at sea, along with increasing armed escorts overwhelmed German forces. Advances in anti-submarine technologies also started stamping out the U-boat threat.

Today, there are only three Liberty Ships remaining of the 2,710 built that remind us of their enormous contribution to winning World War Two.

December 6, 2017

The RCN doesn’t need a second supply ship, says Transport Minister Garneau

Filed under: Cancon, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

David Pugliese on the latest military inanity from the federal government:

Pre-completion illustrations of the Resolve Class AOR conversion of MV Asterix

Politicians and unions in Quebec are turning up the heat on the Liberal government, questioning why Davie shipyards in the province isn’t getting any more work from the federal government. Davie converted a commercial container ship into a supply vessel for the Royal Canadian Navy. It was on time and on budget. The ship, the Asterix, goes into service early next year and under the agreement will be leased to the RCN.

Davie is ready to quickly convert another vessel into a supply ship.

But Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has said thanks but no thanks.

Transport Minister, and former navy officer, Marc Garneau said the federal government doesn’t need another supply ship.
” We cannot artificially create a need for something that doesn’t exist,” he told reporters on the weekend.

An artificial need?

Seaspan shipyards in Vancouver and the Department of National Defence don’t project the first Joint Support Ship (being built by Seaspan) arriving until early 2021. But that ship would still have to undergo testing, etc. So, let’s say that the first JSS is ready for operations by the end of 2021.

That means that the RCN will have one supply ship to support its fleets operating on two coasts. How is that going to work?

December 5, 2017

The Halifax explosion of 6 December, 1917

Filed under: Cancon, History, WW1 — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

It’s been called one of the largest man-made non-nuclear explosions and it destroyed large parts of the City of Halifax, when the SS Mont Blanc ran aground and exploded following a collision in the Narrows between Halifax and Dartmouth with the chartered Belgian Relief ship SS Imo. Nearly two thousand people were killed and thousands more injured in the blast.

A view of the Halifax waterfront shortly after the explosion on the morning of 6 December, 1917
Image via Wikimedia.

The Mont Blanc was built in 1899 in Middlesbrough, England, and at the time of the explosion was owned by Cie Generale Transatlantique with a St. Nazaire registration. As far as I’m aware there is only one photo of the ship and it shows the stern of the vessel when she was sailing under a Marseilles registration:

SS Mont Blanc in 1900 in Halifax.
Photo via the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic

Mont Blanc had left New York harbour with a full load of flammable and explosive cargo (including TNT, picric acid, benzol aviation fuel additive, and guncotton) intended for the battlefront in western Europe on the first, and just missed being allowed inside the anti-submarine netting protecting the entrance to the harbour on the evening of the fifth, being forced to wait outside until morning. As soon as the harbour guard allowed passage, the Mont Blanc followed another freighter (believed to be the SS Clara, but identified only as “the green American tramp steamer” in the inquiry) through the barrier and approached the narrows.

As the Mont Blanc made her way up toward the Bedford Basin, the Imo started in the opposite direction headed toward the harbour mouth. The Clara was sailing up the Halifax side of the channel, contrary to harbour rules, so the Imo had to swing over toward the Dartmouth side to avoid the Clara, and then further to the wrong side of the Narrows to avoid the Stella Maris, a tug moving barges around the harbour. In the low visibility, Imo‘s captain and pilot were unaware that another ship was following the Clara so closely and on the correct side of the channel.

According to the accepted “rules of the road”, in this situation the first ship to signal has the right of way and the other ship is expected to defer to the movement of the first ship. Mont Blanc‘s pilot had the ship’s whistle blown once, to indicate their priority, but the Imo replied with two whistles indicating that they did not intend to allow Mont Blanc‘s right of way. At first sighting, the two ships were already within a mile of one another and within the narrowest point of the harbour, which restricted the ability of the Mont Blanc to manouvre. The captain ordered the engines stopped and to steer closer to the Dartmouth side of the channel (with his delicate and explosive cargo, he didn’t want to run the risk of going aground).

Imo was carrying no cargo on this portion of her journey, which meant the propellers were partially out of the water, making the ship much less handy to steer. As the two ships approached, with the ships on approximately parallel courses, the Imo‘s captain ordered the engines to reverse, which caused Imo to swing to starboard (right) and impact the starboard side of the Mont Blanc at 8:45am. The collision did not do fatal structural damage to either ship, but it broke open some of the benzol containers on the deck and the spilled liquid ran down the side of the Mont Blanc, producing a flammable vapour.

The immediate impact of the explosion covered 325 acres, and windows were broken more than 50 miles away.
Image from http://www.halifaxexplosion.org/explosion2.html

As the Imo‘s engines began to pull the ship back, friction between the two hulls ignited the benzol fumes, which then spread the fire up the hull and onto the foredeck, preventing any effective fire-fighting on the part of the Mont Blanc‘s crew. With no hope of preventing an explosion, the crew abandoned ship and rowed away from the stricken Mont Blanc, which carried on across the channel and eventually ran aground on the Halifax side near Pier 6 at the foot of Richmond Street. At 9:04am, the main cargo exploded, ripping the ship apart and sending chunks of the hull out over the buildings at the waterfront, some landing up to 3.5 miles away from the site of the blast.

This photo was taken two days after the explosion, looking across the Narrows toward the wreck of the SS Imo, aground on the Dartmouth shore.
Image via Wikimedia.

The Wikipedia entry tells of the moment of the explosion:

The ship was completely blown apart and a powerful blast wave radiated away from the explosion at more than 1,000 metres (3,300 ft) per second. Temperatures of 5,000 °C (9,030 °F) and pressures of thousands of atmospheres accompanied the moment of detonation at the centre of the explosion. White-hot shards of iron fell down upon Halifax and Dartmouth. Mont Blanc‘s forward 90 mm gun, its barrel melted away, landed approximately 5.6 kilometres (3.5 mi) north of the explosion site near Albro Lake in Dartmouth, while the shank of her anchor, weighing half a ton, landed 3.2 kilometres (2.0 mi) south at Armdale.

A cloud of white smoke rose to over 3,600 metres (11,800 ft). The shock wave from the blast travelled through the earth at nearly 23 times the speed of sound and was felt as far away as Cape Breton (207 kilometres or 129 miles) and Prince Edward Island (180 kilometres or 110 miles). An area of over 160 hectares (400 acres) was completely destroyed by the explosion, while the harbour floor was momentarily exposed by the volume of water that vaporized. A tsunami was formed by water surging in to fill the void; it rose as high as 18 metres (60 ft) above the high-water mark on the Halifax side of the harbour. Imo was carried onto the shore at Dartmouth by the tsunami. The blast killed all but one on the whaler, everyone on the pinnace and 21 of the 26 men on Stella Maris; she ended up on the Dartmouth shore, severely damaged. The captain’s son, First Mate Walter Brannen, who had been thrown into the hold by the blast, survived, as did four others. All but one of the Mont Blanc crew members survived.

Over 1,600 people were killed instantly and 9,000 were injured, more than 300 of whom later died. Every building within a 2.6-kilometre (1.6 mi) radius, over 12,000 in total, was destroyed or badly damaged. Hundreds of people who had been watching the fire from their homes were blinded when the blast wave shattered the windows in front of them. Stoves and lamps overturned by the force of the blast sparked fires throughout Halifax, particularly in the North End, where entire city blocks were caught up in the inferno, trapping residents inside their houses. Firefighter Billy Wells, who was thrown away from the explosion and had his clothes torn from his body, described the devastation survivors faced: “The sight was awful, with people hanging out of windows dead. Some with their heads missing, and some thrown onto the overhead telegraph wires.” He was the only member of the eight-man crew of the fire engine “Patricia” to survive.

Intercolonial Railway dispatcher Vince Coleman is credited with saving some three hundred passengers of an inbound Saint John train, by going back to the telegraph office and ordering the train to stop outside the likely blast zone: “Hold up the train. Ammunition ship afire in harbor making for Pier 6 and will explode. Guess this will be my last message. Good-bye boys.” The train was only slightly damaged and there were no fatalities onboard. Coleman died at his post when the ship exploded.

The earliest rescue efforts were mounted by the crews of British, Canadian, and American naval ships in port, and two US Navy ships that arrived later in the day. Many wounded were brought aboard the ships and treated there: the explosion having taken down all the electric power lines in the area, these were the best-lighted-and-heated places to take the injured until emergency power lines could be set up onshore.

Later in the day, a small fire near the magazine of Wellington Barracks caused a panic about a second explosion which hampered early rescue attempts adjacent to the blast area. Rescue trains were dispatched from many communities in the Maritimes and New England, including a major relief effort from Boston. A severe winter storm struck Halifax the next day, causing further delays in locating and assisting wounded and injured Haligonians. Sixteen inches of snow blocked several railway lines, and caused greater distress among the survivors, and knocking out the telegraph lines that in many cases had only just been re-connected after the blast.

For further reading on the explosion, the rescue efforts, and the aftermath, I can recommend Laura M. Mac Donald’s Curse of the Narrows, which recounts a great many individual stories of the people of Halifax and Dartmouth who lived through the disaster.

Update, 6 December: Rick Tessner sent me a link to this video which does a good job of explaining what happened to cause the explosion.

Sixty Symbols
Published on Dec 4, 2017

Sixty Symbols regular Dr Meghan Gray on an infamous event that occurred in her home town – the Halifax Explosion of December 6, 1917.

MORE DETAILS
Maritime Museum of the Atlantic: https://maritimemuseum.novascotia.ca/…
Nova Scotia archives stuff: https://novascotia.ca/news/smr/2009-1…
CBC: http://newsinteractives.cbc.ca/halifa…

While not a typical video for us, Dr Gray is a Sixty Symbols stalwart and really wanted to share the story of this explosion which is an event of great interest to her home town of Halifax — and an event with a pretty significant science component.

November 21, 2017

QotD: The naval “rule of three”

Filed under: Britain, Military, Quotations — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 01:00

The RN [Royal Navy], and every other seagoing Navy out there operates its ships on a rotational basis. This simple concept can best be described as ‘the rule of three’. Namely, for every ship that is on the front line at sea right now on live operations (e.g. fully stored, fuelled and munitioned and operating under a specific operation), you require a further two ships in the pipeline. The first is the one that’s just come home and gone into refit or lower level readiness. This is because the crew need to take leave, parts need replacing and the ship needs maintenance. The second is the ship that will replace the ship deployed, and this vessel will usually be in some point of the force generation cycle, which involves final bits of maintenance, trials, basic sea training and more advanced sea training and any other targeted work to get her ready to sail. This is a complex process that takes many months to fully prepare a ship to sail.

Over a couple of years life, a ship is programmed by the RN planners (a special breed of people possessed of wisdom, foresight and very little hair left at the end of their tour) to come out of a refit, work up, complete all trials and training, deploy for 9 months, return home and then wind down before going in for the next cycle of refit and repair. This cycle is either repeated, or broken up by the occasional deep multi-year refit to extend her life or fit major new equipment.

In simple terms this means that to keep 5-6 ships deployed, you need a force of roughly 17-18 escorts at any one time. Possessing 19 escort ships does not mean that 19 ships can go to sea on operations. It means you have got the ability to keep 5-6 ships deployed on station indefinitely.

This may sound a technicality, but is actually really important to understand. What distinguishes the RN from a lot of coastal navies is that sustaining this sort of deployment is routine business – the RN accepts that it goes to sea across the globe and plans this as a routine activity. For many navies, an ‘out of area’ deployment is a major investment of time and support and training, and is something that may occur once every 4-5 years, not every day of the year.

Sir Humphrey, “No – the Royal Navy is not a global laughing stock”, Thin Pinstriped Line, 2017-09-15.

November 12, 2017

The Great Ships Ironclads Documentary

Filed under: History, Military, Technology, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

History Of Wars
Published on 6 Sep 2016

With their menacing dark silhouettes belching fire and smoke, the Ironclad warships of the mid 19th century burst onto the naval scene like hulking metal monsters. Combining iron plating, steam propulsion and the biggest and most powerful guns afloat, the Ironclads represented a radical advance over all previous warships.

November 10, 2017

The future of the Royal Marines

Filed under: Britain, Military — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

A few months back, Sir Humphrey took a look at the British Royal Marines and suggested that they need to “re-marinize” to avoid just being light infantry that wear a different cap badge:

HMS Albion conducts amphibious operations with Landing Craft Utility (LCU) during Exercise Grey Heron off the coast of Portsmouth in 2007.
The Albion Class, Landing Platform Dock ships (LPD) primary function is to embark, transport, and deploy and recover (by air and sea) troops and their equipment, vehicles and miscellaneous cargo, forming part of an Amphibious Assault Force.
(Photo via Wikimedia)

The challenge for the Royal Marines [RM] right now is that they look particularly vulnerable targets, with a highly specialised core role that is increasingly unlikely to be used in anger. The RM and the RN [Royal Navy] have long had a slightly odd, and at times, uneasy relationship. It is often forgotten these days that the role of amphibious warfare isn’t something that really took off until WW2, and that the RM have only been leading on it for about 70 years. Until that point they were arguably merely light infantry embarked on ships and the odd landing party.

[…]

The key point where things began to change was arguably OP HERRICK. At this point the Corps transitioned from being an organisation which fought from the sea onto the land, to one that spent many years focusing on being a land based warfighting force. The depth of commitment to HERRICK meant that the Corps lost a lot of its links to the wider RN; speaking to friends who served in the RM, many remark that during the HERRICK years the RM did very little with the RN at sea. This would have been fine for a short operation, but for a multi-year commitment it meant that an entire generation of Officers and NCOs were growing up who excelled at conventional land warfare, but who had lost touch with their maritime roots.

At the same time, there was a growing sense in some parts of the RN that the RM was arguably a money pit that cost the RN a significant amount of time, money and platforms, but which delivered very little for the RN itself. Tellingly, during the worst years of the piracy issues in Somalia, the RN had to rely heavily on RNR ratings to form ships protection teams, not RM in part reportedly because the RM was so focused on Afghanistan. At a time when the RN was taking heavy cuts to ships and other platforms as part of budget reductions to help deliver success in Afghanistan, there was perhaps some resentment that the Corps delivered little, yet absorbed a huge amount of the Naval Service budget. What is the point of having an amphibious fleet, and maritime amphibious helicopter capability, if your amphibious troops are stuck in a cycle of deploying only to a landlocked country?

[…]

In the current security environment that the UK faces, it is hard to see a need for a major amphibious lift capability to conduct opposed operations. This may sound like heresy to say, but if you consider that any major beach landing would be fraught with risk, and require major military support and logistical access to a port and airhead quickly to succeed, it is hard to see the circumstances where the UK and US would want to conduct such an operation. The political circumstances are such, that it is difficult to see the UK willingly wishing to indulge in a full scale amphibious assault against a hostile nation with a brigade sized force anytime in the future.

There are plenty of situations where the ability to transport equipment and people is vital – for instance conducting a NEO [Noncombatant Evacuation Operation], or moving troops and supplies into a friendly country ahead of a wider land conflict. There are also circumstances where an ‘amphibious raid’ capability is equally important – the ability to quickly send a small number of troops ashore via helicopter or fast landing craft to conduct a specific mission, or diversionary raid is extremely useful.

[…]

For the RM, the chance to re-embark at sea and focus on maritime counter piracy and security could be an opportunity to rebrand and reinvent the organisation, giving it a new lease of life. There is a real and pressing need to marinize the RM again, getting them used to being at sea, not permanently working ashore. At the same time it would free up a lot of highly trained infantry soldiers who could train to deliver boarding teams, and maritime counter piracy duties. This is a deeply complex role that requires a lot of training and support to get right, and is only going to grow in importance over the next few years.

Investing in niche roles such as this, or protection of nuclear weapons, and coupling this with a smaller ability to land raiding parties not brigades has the benefit of making the Corps far more valuable to keep in the long term. Right now it is arguably a light infantry brigade which has some other secondary duties tagged on the side. This is fine, but there are plenty of light infantry brigades out there, and probably too many soldiers in the Army as it is. If the RM were to refocus onto being sea going soldiers again, and deliver a small range of capabilities very well, then this makes them far harder to scrap entirely.

September 12, 2017

The River Thames: “London River” – 1941 Educational Documentary – WDTVLIVE42

Filed under: Britain, History, WW2 — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 31 Aug 2017
The River Thames, Key to London’s Importance as a Centre of Commerce and Government

‘At Tilbury, near the mouth of the River Thames, liners from all over the world come into the landing stages, past long lines of barges and battalions of cranes. Higher up-river are the giant London docks, the busiest in the world, where the work of importing and exporting cargo us carried on unceasingly.

Westwards, up-river, are huge warehouses; cranes and smoking funnels line the banks. Approaching the City, ships pass beneath Tower Bridge, close to the imposing Tower of London. Nearby is the world of wharves and dockland offices, and directly linked to the river are London’s famous markets – Billingsgate for fish, Smithfield for meat and Covent Garden for fruit, vegetables and flowers. Here, too, is the world of finance – “the richest square mile in the world” – with the Stock Exchange, the Bank of England, and important banking and business houses known throughout the world. Further up-river is County Hall, magnificent headquarters of the London County Council; and on the left bank is the historic City of Westminster, home of the Empire’s government; lining Whitehall are big Government departments and, nearby, Westminster Abbey; and on the water’s edge, the Houses of Parliament with their elaborate and beautiful architecture. Beyond Westminster the character of the river is changed yet again, and giant Power Stations give way to residential houses, roads to gardens. Beyond Richmond, with its willow-lined banks, are the Tudor chimneys and turrets of Hampton Court; higher still is Windsor and its Castle, the home of the King.

As evening falls there is peace on the river at Windsor, but at the mouth of the Thames activity goes on into the night. There is no sleep for the greatest port in the world.’

(Films of Britain – British Council Film Department Catalogue – 1940)

August 17, 2017

The Most Important Invention You Never Thought About

Filed under: Business, Economics, Technology — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 26 Jul 2017

One entrepreneur’s invention cut world poverty and revolutionized manufacturing. Learn more with Steve Davies: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7QLoeehMw0w&list=PL-erRSWG3IoBe1BsaqgTwYx0nS4nl2m_N&index=2

LEARN MORE:
How to Sabotage Progress (video): During the earliest part of the Industrial Revolution, workers worried about losing their jobs to machinery would throw their shoes into the machines in order to sabotage production. We’re seeing recurrence of sabotage again today, but there’s no more successful saboteur than regulation. Duke University Professor Michael C. Munger explains. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K0nSiwnbv4o

The Box: How the Shipping Container Made the World Smaller and the World Economy Bigger (book): Economist Marc Levinson delves into the history of the shipping container and how the invention changed the world. https://www.amazon.ca/Box-Shipping-Container-Smaller-Economy/dp/0691170819/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&qid=1502034038&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Box:+How+the+Shipping+Container&linkCode=ll1&tag=quotulatiousn-20&linkId=ca8f280248e61c2c42aaae2b3c5f1395

An Awesome Map of World Trade and Shipping (article): Daniel Bier uses UCL Energy Institute’s timelapse of global shipping to illustrate spontaneous order. https://fee.org/articles/an-awesome-map-of-world-trade-and-shipping/

TRANSCRIPT:
For a full transcript please visit: http://www.learnliberty.org/videos/the-most-importa%E2%80%A6er-thought-about/

July 21, 2017

HMS Frigatey McFrigateface gets a new name

Filed under: Britain, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 03:00

At The Register, Gareth Corfield reports that the first Type 26 frigate has been given the name HMS Glasgow:

Type 26 Global Combat Ship – DSEi 2013 2
BAE Systems has unveiled the latest imagery of the Type 26 Global Combat Ship, which shows the maturity of the design and provides an insight into how it will look.
(BAE Systems, via Flickr)

The first of the Royal Navy’s new Type 26 frigates has been named HMS Glasgow, recycling the name for the fourth time in the last 100 years.

“The name Glasgow brings with it a string of battle honours. As one of the world’s most capable anti-submarine frigates, the Type 26 will carry the Royal Navy’s tradition of victory far into the future,” said the First Sea Lord, Admiral Lord Philip Jones, naming the as-yet-unbuilt warship this morning.

All future Type 26s will be named after cities, making them the City class – a step up from when the names were previously used as part of the Town class of yore. Numerous wags on Twitter suggested that the ship would be named HMS Frigatey McFrigateface, in a nod to the Natural Environment Research Council’s epic public naming contest blunder.

“This is great news for the workers on the Clyde: first-in-class builds are always special, but I know from visiting BAE Systems earlier this year that they are raring to go on a world-class project that will showcase their skills and the ‘Clyde built’ brand for a new generation,” Martin Docherty-Hughes, the Scottish Nationalist Party MP for West Dumbartonshire, told The Register.

The Type 26s are the future of British sea power, being intended to replace the venerable old Type 23 frigates that make up the backbone of the Navy’s warfighting fleet. In British service, frigates are broadly equipped to fight other surface warships and as anti-submarine vessels, a particular British speciality.

[…]

Naming warships is an inherently political process. The Royal Navy has, particularly in the latter part of the 20th century, tried to pick names that guarantee it support from the important parts of society – see the Hunt-class mine countermeasure vessels, named after the packs of well-off Hooray Henrys who spend their free time galloping around Blighty’s fields in search of foxes. More recently, a Cold War-era frigate was named HMS London, which worked well until she was flogged off to Romania in 2002, complete with a few crates of unwanted L85A1 rifles. Type 23 frigate HMS Westminster continues flying the flag for the RN near the corridors of power, courtesy of a feature wall in Westminster Tube station.

The name Glasgow was officially bestowed to recognise the shipbuilding heritage of the Clyde area. In reality, it’s more of a sop to try and damp down the fires of Scottish nationalism; apparently, patriotic names are all that now stands between the United Kingdom and its breakup.

July 2, 2017

The US Navy’s WW2 floating drydocks

Filed under: History, Military, Pacific, USA — Tags: , — Nicholas @ 03:00

I’d never heard of these massive mobile drydock facilities before:


USS Iowa (BB-61) in a floating drydock at Manus Island, Admirality Islands, 28 December 1944. (via Wikimedia)

The United States Navy, during World War 2, decided to create a temporary forward base utilizing service stations; these stations meant the United States Navy could operate throughout the huge Pacific Ocean for more sustained amounts of time.

Creating these pretty much meant they could have a major naval base within a short distance of any operation carried out in the area. The base was able to repair; resupply and refit, meaning fewer ships had to make the journey to a facility at a major port, which allowed them to remain in the Pacific for up to a year and beyond.

These stations were officially named Advance Base Sectional Docks (ABSDs) and were put together section by section. Each part was welded to the next once in their correct position.

There were two different sizes of floating docks created, the largest ones were created using ten sections and could lift 10,000 tons each – being 80 feet wide and 256 feet long. Once these sections were welded together, it became a fully assembled dock that was a whopping 133 feet wide, 827 feet long and could lift up to 90,000 tons.

This was more than enough lifting power for any ship within the Fleet.

The post also included this film, showing the USS Idaho being moved into an ABSD at Esperitu Santo in August, 1944:

Published on 7 May 2015

On August 15, 1944 the mighty battleship Idaho arrived at Espiritu Santo in the Pacific and slipped into a floating dry dock so that emergency repairs could be made to the ship’s blisters. This special film — likely made by the crew of the battleship’s observation aircraft — documents the activities as the ship is maneuvered into position. The dry dock shown is likely one of the Large Auxiliary Floating Dry Docks (AFDB), probably AFDB/ABSD-1. This was constructed in sections during 1942 and 1943 at Everett Shipbuilding Co., Everett, WA., by the Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., Eureka, CA., the Pollack-Stockton Shipbuilding Co., Stockton, CA., and Chicago Bridge & Iron Co., Morgan City, LA. During World War II ABSD-1 was assigned to the Asiatic-Pacific Theater and towed to Espiritu Santo in the New Hebrides and assembled for service. Later it was disassembled and towed to Manicani Bay, P.I. and reassembled for service by September 1945.

USS Idaho had been damaged during long days of combat that began with the bombardment of Saipan in June. With the landing assault underway on 15 June, the battleship moved to Guam for bombardment assignments. As the American fleet destroyed Japanese carrier air power in the Battle of the Philippine Sea from 19–21 June, Idaho protected the precious transport area and reserve convoys. After returning to Eniwetok from 28 June to 9 July, the ship began preinvasion bombardment of Guam on 12 July, and continued the devastating shelling until the main assault eight days later. As ground troops battled for the island, Idaho stood offshore providing vital support until anchoring at Eniwetok on 2 August.

After repair, Idaho‘​s mighty guns were needed for the next giant amphibious assault on the way to Japan. She sailed from San Diego on 20 January 1945 to join a battleship group at Pearl Harbor. After rehearsals, she steamed from the Marianas on 14 February for the invasion of Iwo Jima. As Marines stormed ashore on 19 February, Idaho was again blasting enemy positions with her big guns, and fired star shells at night to illuminate the battlefield. She remained off Iwo Jima until 7 March, when she underway for Ulithi and the last of the great Pacific assaults – Okinawa.

At the end of the conflict Idaho made her triumphal entry into Tokyo Bay with occupation troops on 27 August, and was anchored there during the signing of the surrender on board the Missouri on 2 September. Four days later she began the long voyage to the East Coast of the United States, steaming via the Panama Canal to arrive at Norfolk on 16 October. She decommissioned on 3 July 1946 and was placed in reserve until sold for scrap on 24 November 1947 to Lipsett, Incorporated, of New York City.

June 18, 2017

Ottoman Soldiers in Europe – Naval Tactics – Officer PoWs I OUT OF THE TRENCHES

Filed under: Europe, History, Military, WW1 — Tags: , , , — Nicholas @ 05:00

Published on 17 Jun 2017

Signup for your FREE trial to The Great Courses Plus* here: http://ow.ly/UYp930acl8m

Another exciting episode of Out Of The Trenches featuring naval tactics, the treatment of officers as prisoners of war and two questions related to the Ottoman Empire.

*The Great Courses Plus is currently available to watch through a web browser to almost anyone in the world and optimized for the US market. The Great Courses Plus is currently working to both optimize the product globally and accept credit card payments globally.

June 17, 2017

Puerto Rico votes for statehood

Filed under: Government, USA — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 04:00

Andrew Heaton discusses the recent vote by Puerto Ricans to apply for full statehood within the United States and why that might be a good thing for all concerned:

Puerto Rico voted to become a U.S. state this week. Needless to say, we should all be deeply concerned about the island’s engorged debt, destructive fits of socialism, and terrifying chupacabras.

But Puerto Rican statehood also represents a unique opportunity to reform American federalism. Accepting a new state with markedly different problems and programs means acknowledging that states aren’t interchangeable. We should welcome Puerto Rico and, while we’re redefining what constitutes our union, re-examine the power dynamic between Washington and the states.

Puerto Rico is a test case in one-size-fits-all solutions and federal intervention ruining an economy. The island has significantly lower income and productivity than the continental United States, but it is still subjected to a national minimum wage crafted for the mainland. That disparity squeezes entry-level jobs out of the market and ratchets up unemployment rates. The slumping job market is worsened by the fact that federal programs like food stamps, Social Security benefits, education grants, and disability payments aren’t pegged to local cost of living. In a region poorer than America’s poorest state, it’s not surprising that people would opt for generous federal handouts over scrambling for jobs the minimum wage hasn’t yet outlawed. Puerto Rico would benefit from an opt-out clause on the mininum wage — an option that should be available to all states.

Because Puerto Rico is an unincorporated territory and not a state, it’s more vulnerable to federal intervention. The Jones-Shafroth Act exempted Puerto Rican bonds from local, state, and federal taxes. The feds might as well have sprinkled cocaine and cronuts over the bonds. Investors bought dumpsters full of Puerto Rico’s sovereign debt, leading the island to further lurch into exorbitant deficit spending.

Federal trade laws also hobble Puerto Rican prosperity. The Jones Act prohibits foreign ships from moving goods between American ports. That means a foreign flagged vessel can’t stop at Puerto Rico on its way to or from the mainland, but must instead offload and reload goods at another American port so a more expensive U.S. ship can transport them. Peter Schiff explains: “Even though median incomes in Puerto Rico are just over half that of the poorest U.S. state, thanks to the Jones Act, the cost of living is actually higher than the average state.” The Jones Act would be a great issue to bring up when Congress deliberates on Puerto Rican accession. Abolishing it would benefit everyone, most of all Puerto Rico.

June 14, 2017

Canada’s Next Auxiliary Oiler Replenishment Ship – Episode 3

Filed under: Business, Cancon, Military, Technology — Tags: , , , , — Nicholas @ 06:00

Published on Jun 9, 2017

The third episode in a series about the construction and operation of the Royal Canadian Navy’s next naval support ship.

May 20, 2017

Top 10 ugliest Warships (Pre 1930’s)

Filed under: Humour, Military — Tags: , , — Nicholas @ 02:00

Published on 31 Jul 2015

WARNING! Ugly lives here! My Top 10 ugliest warships (Pre 1930’s) This video showcases some of the ugliest warships ever made. From a sunken barn with a gun mounted on top, to a Russian UFO…these ships look better sunk then floating.

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