Friends of FOD – How did you observe the solar eclipse? All the best photos are on the internet, but I enjoyed seeing the solar eclipse in Boise, ID, thanks to Friends of FOD Roger and Glorie. Thanks to both of you! And I also got to do some fishing on the Boise River. Notice I said fishing and not catching. But a good time was had by all. Good stories appreciated.
Another Collision At Sea
USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) an Arleigh Burke-classdestroyer (below left) suffered “significant damage” to the hull after it was involved in a collision at sea with the Liberian-flaggedAlnic MC (below right) off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of Malacca. Ten sailors were missing and five were injured following the collision, which happened at 5:24 a.m. Singapore time (5:24 p.m. ET Sunday), according to the Navy’s latest update issued around nine-and-a-half hours later. And the search continues as of August 21st. After the collision the ship, which sustained damage to her port side aft, was able to return to port under her own power. According to United States Navy press release, the breach “resulted in flooding to nearby compartments, including crew berthing, machinery, and communications rooms. Initial casualty reports indicate ten sailors missing and five sailors injured. Admiral John M. Richardson, the Chief of Naval Operations (below left) has ordered an “operational pause” or safety stand down for a day to “include,
but not be limited to, looking at operational tempo, trends in personnel, materiel, maintenance and equipment.”
The Strait of Malacca is one of the most heavily transited bodies of water in the world, with more than 80,000 vessels moving through it annually, roughly one third of all oceanic transits. US Naval vessels usually have their best bridge team on duty for the transit. I noted in the 11 through 15 August edition of FOD that a military band is standard for that all important change of command. I would venture to say the yet unannounced, change of command for the McCain and perhaps even Commander of Destroyer Squadron 15 will not need a band. As you’ll recall, the destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) was involved in the June 17 with the Philippine-flagged merchant ship ACX Crystal, a container ship, off the coast of Japan resulted in the death of seven sailors. Fitzgerald’s commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief have been relieved of their duties aboard Fitzgerald. I’m thinking the commanding officer of Destroyer Squadron 15, CAPT Jeffrey A. Bennett II might be looking for another job.
I hope all my readers had an enjoyable long weekend and that you all had the opportunity to take in a local fireworks display. Nothing says the Fourth of July like a good fireworks display. A rather shortened edition today, as I’m departing on a driving trip to CA to work on that ’31 Chevy Five Window Coupe. Maybe I’ll be inspired by some on the road stories along the way.
North Korea Successfully Tests First ICBM
According to the South China Morning Post, North Korea on Tuesday said it had successfully tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, catching military experts off-guard and ratcheting up pressure on its Asian neighbors to take a harder line against the hermit nation. China, Pyongyang’s main ally, issued a joint statement with Russia that calls for a halt to missile tests in exchange for the US and South Korea suspending their large-scale military exercises. While that’s not likely to happen, it does show China is committed to continuing support of North Korea and at the present time is unwilling to use the one negotiating point available to China – control of the oil supply flowing into North Korea from China. And in fact the US Army and the South Korean military held their own missile exercise in territorial waters adjacent to South Korea. The US Pacific Command said in a statement, “The launches were in direct response to North Korea’s destabilizing and unlawful actions.” Based on the missile’s similarity to China’s own ICBMs with a range of more than 6,000km, he estimated it could strike Alaska, but the lower 48 states as well as Hawaii would be out of range. China’s foreign ministry said it opposed the test and called for restraint by Pyongyang, as well as calm from all sides. “China urges the DPRK to refrain from acts that violate UN Security Council resolutions so as to create necessary conditions for resuming dialogue and negotiation,” ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said, using the North Korea’s official name. One Chinese foreign affairs expert said North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might have intended the test as a reminder to China and the US of Pyongyang’s presence ahead of Xi and Trump’s meeting in Hamburg. Kim might also be trying to sow tension between Beijing and Washington over how to contain the North’s weapons programme, according to Sun Xingjie, a professor at Jilin University. Disagreement between the two sides could see the US move closer to Japan and South Korea, which in turn would push China towards North Korea, he said. Trump has grown increasingly impatient over the deadlock in resolving the nuclear crisis, and blamed China. He discussed the issue with Xi by phone on Monday, but both sides failed to announce any progress beyond reiterating their commitment to a denuclearized Korean peninsula. Trump took to Twitter after the launch, writing: “Hard to believe that South Korea and Japan will put up with this much longer. Perhaps China will put a heavy move on North Korea and end this nonsense once and for all!” Twitter is not a substitute for diplomatic negotiation however.
Former FBI Director James Comey will testify before the Senate Intelligence Committee next week, the committee announced Thursday. He will testify first in an open session on Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 8, and a closed session will follow. Selective leaks will follow the closed session. During his testimony, Comey is expected to say President Trump pressured him to end the FBI‘s investigation into ties between Trump’s campaign associates and Russia, it was reported by the Washington Examiner and others last Wednesday. Comey’s testimony is highly-anticipated, as he led the investigation into Russia’s meddling in the 2016 election before Trump fired him last month. Comey (left) was dismissed by President Donald Trump on May 9, 2017, days after Comey reportedly requested increased resources from the DOJ for the FBI’s investigation into Russia’s interference in the presidential election, a report which was later denied by the DOJ. Following Comey’s firing, several news reports revealed details of various interactions the former Director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation had with the president. During one such interaction occurring days after his inauguration, Trump reportedly asked Comey to pledge his loyalty to him. Gee, I thought that loyalty oath thing died with Medieval kings. Comey declined, but promised to always be honest with the president. In another conversation, Trump reportedly asked Comey to end the FBI’s investigation into former national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was fired in February. Comey recorded his interactions with Trump in memos while working at the FBI, and the details of those memos — including his conversations with Trump — are expected to be discussed during his testimony before the Senate Intelligence Committee. The details of Comey’s memos have caused concern among lawmakers on Capitol Hill, particularly Democrats, who are questioning whether Trump attempted to obstruct the Russia probe. After Comey was fired, the Justice Department appointed former FBI Director Robert Mueller to serve as special counsel and oversee the probe. Though some lawmakers were initially concerned that Mueller’s appointment would prevent Comey from testifying privately, Comey and Mueller met privately to discuss how Comey could testify and avoid “legal entanglements.”
A special congratulation goes out the future leaders of our armed services and our nation. Today, as I’m drafting this, May 26, 2017, the senior classes of the US Naval Academy, the US Military Academy and the US Air Force Academy are receiving their degrees and their commissions as officers in their respective services. Thank you for your dedication and your efforts to date. Your work has just begun and more than ever we value and appreciate your leadership.
Memorial Day Weekend
As we observe and enjoy the unofficial beginning of summer (I thought it would never get here), let us take a moment to remember all those who gave their last full measure in defense of our nation this Memorial Day. The holiday, which is currently observed every year on the last Monday of May, originated as Decoration Day after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. By the 20th century, competing Union and Confederate holiday traditions, celebrated on different days, had merged, and Memorial Day eventually extended to honor all Americans who died while in the military service. Memorial Day is not to be confused with Veterans Day; Memorial Day is a day of remembering the men and women who died while serving, while Veterans Day celebrates the service of all U.S. military veterans. The preferred name for the holiday gradually changed from “Decoration Day” to “Memorial Day,” which was first used in 1882. Memorial Day did not become the more common name until after World War II, and was not declared the official name by Federal law until 1967. On June 28, 1968, Congress passed the Uniform Monday Holiday Act, which moved four holidays, including Memorial Day, from their traditional dates to a specified Monday in order to create a convenient three-day weekend. The change moved Memorial Day from its traditional May 30 date to the last Monday in May. The law took effect at the federal level in 1971. After some initial confusion and unwillingness to comply, all 50 states adopted Congress’ change of date within a few years.
So I got busy over the last few days and didn’t get an edition out in a timely fashion. Being retired is hard work sometimes.
Philippines and Philippine Leader Rodrigo Duterte in the News
It’s in the news over the weekend last where President Trump has called Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte and expressed Washington’s commitment to their treaty alliance and his interest in developing “a warm, working relationship,” according to a Filipino officials comments to Military Times. Trump’s chief of staff, Reince Priebus, said the friendlier ties are needed even with concerns about Duterte’s human rights record, which includes extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and users as part of the government’s drug war. Priebus cited the military threat of North Korea. But in a more interesting development, Chinese Navy ships will visit the Philippines for the first time since 2010. Three vessels – the guided missile destroyer Changchun, the guided missile frigate Jingzhou, and the supply ship Chaohu – will dock at Davao City in Mindanao from Sunday until Tuesday. The port stop comes after Russian navy vessels arrived in Manila last week for joint exercises as part of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s attempts to lower Manila’s dependence on its traditional ally the United States and expand ties with other regional powers. No word of any intended port visits to Subic Bay or Olongapo! Ties between China and the Philippines have warmed quickly since Duterte promised to put aside their territorial disputes over the South China Sea and pursue stronger business links. Follow the $. The Chinese port visit will coincide with Sunday’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit in Manila. As holder of the bloc’s rotating chairmanship, the Philippines was expected to adopt a softer-than-usual line on South China Sea disputes and exclude references to militarization or island building in the area, Reuters reported, citing a draft of the chairman’s statement. An interesting development, particularly as Dutente said he didn’t know whether he’d have time to visit the US as per Trump’s invite.