FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 8th through 13th 2017

US Navy Ships Delivering Food and Water to Irma Victims

Positioned off the coast of Florida, helicopters from USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) are now delivering food and water to Florida as part of the Hurricane Irma relief effort.  As part of the ongoing recovery in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Navy and Coast Guard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) and USS New York (LPD 21) are expected to join the relief effort Tuesday.  As part of the ongoing recovery in the wake of Hurricane Irma, Navy and Coast Guard helicopters and ships are continuing to evacuate people and shuttle food, water, and supplies to the U.S. Virgin Islands and south Florida.  Near Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands, Military Sealift Command’s dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS William McLean (T-AKE 12) started providing supplies to the USS Wasp (LHD-1), USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) and USS Oak Hill (LSD-51), along with 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Federal Emergency Management Agency staff, which started providing humanitarian aid and medical airlifts Friday. William McLean pumped 620,000 gallons of diesel fuel, 40,000 gallons of jet fuel, and delivered 40 pallets of supplies to Navy units, according to the Navy.  USNS Wright (T-AVB 3), aviation logistics support ship, is expected to leave Philadelphia Tuesday to support relief efforts in near the Virgin Islands. Wright is assigned to the Military Sealift Command Prepositioning Program and carries aviation maintenance equipment to support U.S. Marine Corps fixed and rotary wing aircraft.


Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day September 8th through 13th 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 23rd through 27th 2017

Friends of FOD

OK I got busy and haven’t published in more than a few days.  What can I say?  Maybe I’m suffering from Solar Eclipse Overload Syndrome.  Our thoughts and prayers go out to the many folks who have lost their homes and personal possessions as a result of Hurricane Harvey.


US Navy 7th  Fleet Relieved

Following a collision between the Seventh Fleet destroyer USS John S. McCain with the merchant ship Alnic MC in the the Strait of Malacca in the South China Sea, which left 10 navy sailors missing and five sailors injured on August 21, 2017, off the coast of Singapore it was confirmed the commander of the United States Seventh Fleet has been relieved of command.  Vice Admiral Joseph P. Aucoin (below right) was relieved of his command on 23 August 2017 due to “loss of confidence in his ability to command.”  He was just weeks away from retirement.  The Wall Street Journal first reported the planned move Tuesday.  RADM  Phillip G. Sawyer has now assumed command of Seventh Fleet.  While I was a bit glib in earlier editions of FOD regarding the need for a band, etc. it is unfortunate to see the careers of fine officers ended in such a manner.  That being said, the Navy reposes special trust and responsibility for the safety and well-being of the ship and those who sail within her and thus commanding officers are held to the highest standards of accountability.  The U.S. Navy announced on 24 August 2017 that it would be suspending search-and-rescue efforts to focus on recovery efforts of the missing sailors.  Divers have recovered the bodies of all 10 sailors missing.   The Navy previously identified eight crew members who were missing as Charles Nathan Findley, Abraham Lopez, Kevin Sayer Bushell, Jacob Daniel Drake, Timothy Thomas Eckels Jr., Corey George Ingram, John Henry Hoagland III and Logan Stephen Palmer.  The bodies of Kenneth Aaron Smith and Dustin Louis Doyon were previously recovered.  There has been at least a rumor out there McCain may have suffered a steering causality or a loss of steering control shortly before the accident, but that doesn’t add much to the discussion at this point.  My experience aboard aircraft carriers was that after-steering (the manual backup steering control room) and all other steering backup systems were always fully manned during a transit of the Strait of Malacca.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day August 23rd through 27th 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 19 through 21 August 2017

A Great Solar Eclipse

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-class destroyer (below left) suffered “significant damage” to the hull after it was involved in a collision at sea with the Liberian-flagged Alnic MC (below right) off the coast of Malaysia east of the Strait of MalaccaTen 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.”

120212-N-AT895-703 WASHINGTON (Feb. 12, 2012) Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson, the 31st CNO. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Nathan Laird/Released to archive)

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.

  Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day 19 through 21 August 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 18 and 19, 2017

A lot of details today.

The Killing of Bill O’Reilly

In a statement released by 21st  Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News today, they said, “After a thorough and careful review of the allegations, the Company and Bill O’Reilly have agreed that Bill O’Reilly will not be returning to the Fox News Channel.”  Gee, I thought it was going to take a few more weeks before he’d be dismissed.  In any case his departure follows reporting by the New York Times disclosing that the influential and incendiary political commentator had settled multiple sexual harassment complaints against him over the years for a total of $13 million.  So The Killing of Bill O’Reilly was due to his own behavior – it was a suicide.

Continue reading “FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day April 18 and 19, 2017”

FOD Fireball’s Observations of the Day February 10 and 11, 2017

China buildup also in the Paracel Islands

China is continuing to expand construction activities in yet another set of islands in the South China Sea.  Beijing has undertaken substantial upgrades to its military infrastructure in the Paracel islands, with the construction of harbors, helipads and a full-fledged helicopter base on several islands in the chain.  This is in addition to those facilities being constructed on the Spratly Islands.  The latter having been the subject of recent public comment by the Trump administration. The interests of the nations contesting these island groups include retaining or acquiring the rights to fishing areas; the exploration and potential exploitation of crude oil and natural gas under the waters of various parts of the South China Sea, and the strategic control of important shipping lanes. Free access to the shipping lanes for all countries is of strategic importance to the US.  The Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative (CSIC), has been following China’s activities for some time.  CSIS is one of the very finest American think tank organizations based in Washington, D.C.  It was founded in 1962 and continues to be sponsored by Georgetown University . The center conducts policy studies and strategic analyses of political, economic and security issues throughout the world, with a specific focus on issues concerning international relations, trade, technology, finance, energy and geostrategy.  The current Chinese actions follows closely emulate the Imperial Japanese Navy (IJN) strategy in WW II.  That scheme centered on the Japanese strategic initiative predicated on offensively extending their outer defensive perimeter in the south and central Pacific.  The US counter offensive resulted in the Guadalcanal Campaign mentioned in more than one edition of FOD in recent days.  This could become a greater issue for the new presidential administration.


Did you see that lunar eclipse last night?

Last night, stargazers were be able to view a penumbral lunar eclipse, a stunning full moon, and a comet flyby. If you were fortunate to have a view, you had a most unusual Friday night.  Lunar eclipses  occur only  during a full moon, but penumbral lunar eclipses are still pretty special, albeit more subtle. These sorts of eclipses occur when the Moon enters the outer region of Earth’s shadow, called the penumbra. Observers, like me down here in AZ (where it’s warm) were able to notice an unusual dark shade toward the top of the moon when it reaches mid-eclipse.  Since this was the region closest to the Earth’s full shadow, called the umbra. Since penumbral eclipses are more subtle than partial eclipses, you had to look more carefully to see this slightly darker shade.  Every year, two to five lunar eclipses occur, and one in every three will be penumbral. However, this was be the only penumbral lunar eclipse of 2017.


‘Pre’ Ball and Convair 880

10 February 1960: Delta Air Lines’ Chief Pilot, Captain Thomas Prioleau “Pre” Ball, (below) made the delivery flight of Delta’s first jet airliner, Ship 902, a Convair 880 named Delta Queen, FAA registration N8802E, from San Diego, California, to Miami, Florida, setting a United States National Record for Speed Over a Commercial Airline Route. The elapsed time was 3 hours, 31 minutes, 54 seconds, averaging 641.77 miles per hour (1,032.83 kilometers per hour) over 2,266 miles (3,647 kilometers).  The Convair 880 was fast with a top speed was 880 feet per second (600 miles per hour, or 966 kilometers per hour), faster than its Boeing 707 or Douglas DC-8 rivals.  Four of the U.S. National Speed Records set by Pre Ball remain current. In addition to the record set with the Convair 880 on 10 February, on 6 November 1948, Ball flew a Delta Air Lines Douglas DC-6 from Los Angeles, California, to Charleston, South Carolina, in 6 hours, 24 minutes, 32 seconds, at an average speed of 344.19 miles per hour (553.92 kilometers per hour). On 18 March 1954, he flew a Douglas DC-7 from Los Angeles to Jacksonville, Florida, in 05:29:33, averaging 392.25 miles per hour (631.27 kilometers per hour). Finally, on 24 February 1962, Captain Ball flew a Douglas DC-8 from Miami, Florida, to Atlanta, Georgia, in 01:28:11, for an average of 406.1 miles per hour (653.56 kilometers per hour).  The Convair was built by the Convair division of General Dynamics.  It was powered by General Electric CJ-805-3 turbojets, a civilian version of the J79 which powered the F-104 StarfighterF-4 Phantom and Convair B-58 Hustler.  The airliner never became widely used and the production line shut down after only three years. The 880’s five-abreast seating made it unattractive to airlines, while Boeing was able to out-compete it with the Boeing 720, which could be sold much more cheaply as it was a minimal modification of the existing 707. In addition, the General Electric engines had a higher specific fuel consumption than the Boeing’s Pratt & Whitney JT3Cs.  Elvis Presley had a Convair 880 that he named after his daughter, Lisa Marie.  A modified version of the basic 880 was the “-M” version.   The -M incorporated four leading edge slats per wing, Krueger leading edge flaps between the fuselage and inboard engines, power-boosted rudder, added engine thrust, increased fuel capacity, stronger landing gear, greater adjustment to seating pitch and a simpler over-head compartment arrangement.  One 880-M was purchased by the FAA from Convair and for eighteen years was used to train FAA flight examiners.  The United States Navy acquired that 880-M in 1980 modifying it as an in-flight tanker. I tanked off of it when it came out to NAWCWPNS Pt Mugu once.  It was damaged beyond the reasonable-cost-to-repair in a cargo hold explosive decompression test at NAS Pawtuxet River, Maryland in 1995. Most of the remaining Convairs were scrapped by 2000.


Yalta Conference Ends – Big Wins for Stalin

On February 11, 1945, a week of intensive bargaining by the leaders of the three major Allied powers ended in Yalta, a Soviet resort town on the Black Sea.  The  Yalta Conference was held from February 4 to 11, 1945, was the World War II meeting of the heads of government of the United States, the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union, represented by President Franklin D. RooseveltPrime Minister Winston Churchill and Premier Joseph Stalin, respectively, for the purpose of discussing Europe’s post-war reorganization. The conference convened in the Livadia Palace near Yalta in

CrimeaUSSR.  It’s often said Stalin insisted on the venue as he was supposedly afraid to fly, but the more likely reason was that Stalin would not leave the USSR for fear of a coup d’état.  The meeting was intended mainly to discuss the re-establishment of the nations of war-torn Europe. Within a few years, with the Cold War dividing the continent, Yalta became a subject of intense controversy. To a degree, it has remained controversial.  Each leader had an agenda for the Yalta Conference: Roosevelt wanted Soviet support in the U.S. Pacific War against Japan, specifically for the planned invasion of Japan (Operation August Storm), as well as Soviet participation in the UN; Churchill pressed for free elections and democratic governments in Eastern and Central Europe (specifically Poland); and Stalin demanded a Soviet sphere of political influence in Eastern and Central Europe, an essential aspect of the USSR‘s national security strategy. Significant was the fact FDR was near death and British influence was minimal in that they were broke. Yalta was the second of three wartime conferences among the Big Three. It had been preceded by the Tehran Conference in 1943, and was followed by the Potsdam Conference in July 1945, which was attended by Stalin, Churchill (who was replaced halfway through by the newly elected British Prime Minister Clement Attlee) and Harry S. Truman, Roosevelt’s successor. The Yalta conference was a crucial turning point in the Cold War and gave significant advantages to the Soviet Union..


President-Elect Lincoln goes to Washington

On February 11th in 1861, President-elect Abraham Lincoln leaves home in Springfield, Illinois, and embarks on his journey to Washington, D.C.  On a cold, rainy morning, Lincoln boarded a two-car private train loaded with his family’s belongings, which he himself had packed and bound. His wife, Mary Lincoln, was in St. Louis on a shopping trip, and joined him later in Indiana. It was a somber occasion. Lincoln was leaving his home and heading into the jaws of a national crisis. Since his election, seven Southern states had seceded from the Union. Lincoln knew that his actions upon entering office would likely lead to civil war. He spoke to a crowd before departing: “Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have passed from a young man to an old man. Here my children have been born, and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when, or whether ever, I may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being… I cannot succeed. With that assistance, I cannot fail… To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend me, I bid you an affectionate farewell.”  A bystander reported that the president-elect’s “breast heaved with emotion and he could scarcely command his feelings.” Indeed, Lincoln’s words were prophetic—a funeral train carried him back to Springfield just over four years later.


The Channel Dash embarrasses England and the RAF

The Channel Dash or Unternehmen Zerberus (Operation Cerberus) was a German naval operation during World War II..  Kriegsmarine (German navy) squadron consisting of both Scharnhorst-class battleships and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen along with escorts, ran a British blockade

from Brest in

Brittany, where they had been a latent threat to British trans-Atlantic convoys. At Brest and La Pallice, the ships had been attacked by Royal Air Force (RAF) Bomber Command and by RAF Coastal Command torpedo-bombers from March 1941, which inflicted periodic damage to the ships, reducing their seaworthiness. In late 1941, Adolf Hitler ordered Oberkommando der Marine (OKM Navy high-command), to plan an operation to return the ships to German bases, to counter a possible British invasion of Norway.

Schlachtschiff Scharnhorst

The short route up the English Channel was preferred to a detour around the British Isles, to benefit from surprise and from air cover by the Luftwaffe.  The British attempted to exploit decrypted messages from German radio messages coded with the Enigma machine.  However on 11 February 1942, the Kriegsmarine ships left Brest at 9:14 p.m. and escaped detection for more than twelve hours, approaching the Strait of Dover without discovery.  (Prinz Eugen below) The RAF, the Fleet Air Arm, Navy and coastal artillery operations were costly failures but Scharnhorst and

Gneisenau hit mines in the North Sea and were damaged (Scharnhorst being put out of action for a year). By 13 February, the ships had reached German ports and Winston Churchill ordered an inquiry into the debacle.  The London Times denounced the British fiasco.


Wickenburg Gold Rush Days – Great Small Town Traditions

We escaped Seattle to come to the warm sunny weather around Phoenix yesterday.  And today we rediscovered some great small town traditions in Wickenburg, AZ.  They put it all together, a multi-day rodeo, car show, wild-west show performers and a great parade.  It’s their sixty-ninth Gold Rush Days here.  It was lots of good fun and in a venue where the parade participants know those watching the parade.  They pass out candy to the kids from every float.  This year there were 146 horses in the parade.  I counted them.  Find a small town that’s having a parade and join the fun!