Saturday, June 28, 2014

Update: A Shipwrecked Beer Reborn — Åland Brewery Recreates 170-year-old beer

vrakolIn 2010, we posted about a shipwreck in the Baltic, off the Åland Islands of Sweden, in which 30 bottles of champagne and 5 bottles of beer were found intact in the wreckage.  In 2011, two bottles of the champagne were sold at auction for 54,000 euros ($78,400.)  Now,  a Swedish micro-brewer, Stallhagen, has recreated the beer based on an analysis conducted by the Technical Research Centre of Finland (VTT) of the original beer in the shipwreck.  Wild yeast from the original brew was been used the in the new beer which is dubbed Stallhagen Historic Beer 1842.  Don’t look for it in your local stores. It is being produced in a limited run and will be for sale only on Viking Line cruise ships.

Åland brewery revives 170-year-old beer

“It’s a Belgian wild-yeast beer. The micro-organisms in the beer found in the wreck have been used in the production,” says Mats Ekholm, the master brewer at Stallhagen.

The historic beer has been produced at the beer laboratory of the University of Leuven in Belgium because wild yeasts must be processed in a strictly controlled environment due to their propensity to spread. No modern cultivated yeasts were available at the time of the production of the original brew.

The beer tastes fresh and fruity, says Ekholm, and lacks the hoppy notes of contemporary beers almost entirely. “It’s similar to wine,” he describes.

A limited edition of 2,000 numbered bottles of Stallhagen Historic Beer 1842 will be made available aboard Viking Line cruise ships this week for a price of 113.50 euros per bottle. “The beer has been bottled in hand-blown glass bottles resembling the bottles retrieved from the wreck,” says Kristiina Kurki-Suonio, the director of marketing at Stallhagen.

Thanks to Irwin Bryan for contributing to this post.

The post Update: A Shipwrecked Beer Reborn — Åland Brewery Recreates 170-year-old beer appeared first on Old Salt Blog.

TAPS-LtCol Tom Richards USMC - Navy Cross recipient who outed military fakers dies


Retired Marine Lt. Col. Tom Richards received the Navy Cross, but he was most proud of the Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal that he received as an enlisted Marine, said his wife, Diane Richards.

“The Good Conduct Medal was something about which he was extremely proud because, I think, in his mind, it represented all the values and the ideals of a Marine,” she said.

Tom died on June 18 of cancer. He spent much of his life after the Marine Corps working with the Legion of Valor, an organization for recipients of the Medal of Honor and service crosses. He also worked tirelessly to uncover people who falsely claimed to have received military awards.

He felt fakers disrespected those who actually served their country — both living and dead, Diane said.

“Tom was a very honest, straightforward and truthful man — a man of high integrity,” she said. “The concept of misrepresenting one’s self would be a violation of his values.”

Tom found his calling in life when he enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1967, Diane said. Although he didn’t necessarily agree with the political reasons for the Vietnam War, Tom still felt obliged to serve his country.

“When he got into the Marine Corps, that just struck him and it lighted the path for the rest of his life,” she said. “He was devoted and dedicated to the values of the Marine Corps, the camaraderie of the Marine Corps — certainly the history of the Marine Corps.”

In addition to being an infantryman, Tom was also a renaissance man with a passion for military history, Diane said. He went on to earn a bachelor’s and master’s degree in history and a Master of Business Administration.

“Tom was a lifelong learner,” she said. “He constantly read on a variety of topics to continuously improve himself.”

One June 5, 1969, Tom was a corporal with 2nd Battalion, 9th Marines in Vietnam when his platoon was attacked by a much larger number of enemy fighters. During the battle, he repeatedly risked his life by running through enemy fire to get ammunition for a machine gun. Although wounded by grenade shrapnel, he refused to be evacuated.

At a key point in the fight, Tom manned a machine gun to hold the enemy at bay long enough for his fellow Marines to repulse the attack. He was credited with killing eight enemy soldiers and preventing his unit’s defensive perimeter from collapsing. His bravery earned him the military’s second highest honor.

Tom was later selected for Officer Candidate School. He retired from the Marine Corps in 1995.

Later in life, Tom became an advocate for valor award recipients — and an adversary to those who lied about receiving military decorations. In 2009, he talked to Marine Corps Times about how he had discovered about 40 members of the Marine Corps Association Directory were listed as recipients of awards they had not earned, including the Medal of Honor.

At the time, the association’s directory listed about 80,000 members.

“It just occurred to me: What if there are people in here who are claiming fraudulent Medals of Honor and service crosses?” he told Marine Corps Times for the 2009 story.

Doug Sterner, curator of the Military Times Hall of Valor, became close friends with Tom. The two worked together for years to out military fakers.

“Anything that had to do with the service crosses, Tom was on top of,” Sterner said. “The guy was unbelievable. He was a workhorse.”

After Tom moved to Virginia, he and Sterner would meet at a pub in Alexandria.

“I have a lot of good memories of just sitting there, visiting with him in Murphy’s Pub,” Sterner said. “Of course, in later years, Tom looked so much like Bill O’Reilly that we had a lot of people there sitting there drinking with us in Murphy’s Pub that thought they were drinking with Bill O’Reilly.”

Bringing the “Banner” to Light

(The following is an article written by Mark Hartsell, editor of the Library of Congress staff newsletter, The Gazette, in honor of the Star Spangled Banner, which celebrates its 200th anniversary this year. To commemorate the anniversary, the Library is hosting a concert featuring baritone Thomas Hampson on July 3.)

Francis Scott Key watches the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814. Prints and Photographs Division.

Francis Scott Key watches the bombardment of Fort McHenry in 1814. Prints and Photographs Division.

The story of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” for many decades, seemed as murky as the smoky haze over Fort McHenry on the morning two centuries ago when Francis Scott Key wrote the lyrics that still inspire a nation.

No one knew for sure who wrote the music. No one fully understood the circumstances of the tune’s creation (but, no, it wasn’t a bawdy English drinking song). No one fully understood how Key’s words became connected to the music or how they were disseminated.

Much of what is known about “The Star-Spangled Banner” now – at the anthem’s 200th anniversary – is known because of research conducted by Music Division librarians or with Library of Congress collections. For more than a century, the Library has served as the principal research center for the national anthem.

“We’ve been collecting, documenting, researching and making available this information since 1909,” Music Division librarian Loras Schissel said. “The piece has been printed and reprinted from 1814 to the Civil War. All the different versions that occurred during that period are here through collecting, purchasing, gift or copyright deposits.”

By Dawn’s Early Light

Key, detained aboard a British warship, watched British ships bombard Fort McHenry in Baltimore Harbor in September 1814. The assault failed, and at dawn on the 14th, Key saw the U.S. flag still there, streaming over the fort’s ramparts. Inspired, he composed the lyrics to what 117 years later became the national anthem.

Key wrote with a particular tune in mind: “To Anacreon in Heaven,” a piece composed as the official song for an 18th-century London club of amateur musicians and, later, widely adapted for other uses.

Key’s lyrics – set to the “Anacreon” melody and soon titled “The Star-Spangled Banner” – over the decades became one of America’s most popular patriotic songs. In 1931, Congress declared the song the official anthem of the United States.

First edition of "The Anacreontic Song." Music Division.

First edition of “The Anacreontic Song.” Music Division.

Library collections contain hundreds of pieces related to the “The Star-Spangled Banner,” collectively tracing its evolution from London music club anthem to national anthem of a growing, powerful country an ocean away. The Library holds, for example, the first printed lyrics of “To Anacreon in Heaven”; the first printed sheet music of that song; Key’s own copy of “Anacreon”; the first printing of Key’s lyrics, circulated in Baltimore just days after the battle; the first printed sheet music setting Key’s lyrics to the “Anacreon” tune and bearing the title “The Star-Spangled Banner”; and the lyrics handwritten by Key years later.

“Taken together, we have the whole story,” Music Division librarian Raymond White said.

An Uncertain History

That story, however, remained murky long after Key’s work became one of America’s most popular patriotic songs. Little was known about the London music club, the Anacreontic Society. The identity of the composer of “To Anacreon in Heaven” was unclear; the song frequently, it turned out, was attributed to the wrong composer. It wasn’t clear how Key became familiar with the tune or how his lyrics were spread.

Much of the scholarly work of locating, comparing and evaluating – often contradictory – information about the song was done by researchers using Library resources or by Music Division librarians examining numerous editions of music and lyrics, newspaper reports and other documents.

“What it comes down to is looking at printed sources, which are not unique but extraordinarily rare,” White said. “The story of this thing plays itself out in these printed sources.”

Composer and bandleader John Philip Sousa, conducting research at the Library, in the late 19th century produced the first serious study of the piece. (Sousa also gave “The Star-Spangled Banner” its first official status: On his recommendation, the Navy required the piece to be played each morning as the flag was raised.)

Over the next nine decades, Music Division librarians expanded on Sousa’s work and ultimately wrote the anthem’s definitive story.

A Watershed Report

The first printed edition combining the words and music of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Music Division.

The first printed edition combining the words and music of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Music Division.

Oscar Sonneck – Music Division chief from 1902 to 1917 – was perhaps America’s first great musicologist. He wrote a bibliography of American secular music, devised the music-classification system still used by many of the world’s libraries and – determined to make the Library one of the world’s great music repositories – began collecting important material.

“He is, perhaps, the most important music librarian in the world,” Schissel said. “His ideas still are standard.”

In 1909, Librarian of Congress Herbert Putnam asked Sonneck to produce a report on America’s most important patriotic songs: “Yankee Doodle,” “Hail, Columbia,” “America the Beautiful” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

Sonneck’s work helped establish, among other things, how Key’s lyrics became connected to the “Anacreon” music, when and how the first editions were printed, and that Key was thinking of “Anacreon” when he wrote the lyrics.

Sonneck also helped resolve the lingering mystery of the “Anacreon” composer. Samuel Arnold, among others, had been prominently suggested as its creator. Sonneck, however, sifted the evidence and concluded that an obscure London church organist, John Stafford Smith, likely was the composer.

Later, Sonneck played a key role in establishing a definitive version of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” At the request of President Woodrow Wilson, Sonneck headed a committee charged with creating a “standard” version that could be taught and performed consistently. (The original manuscript is in the Library collections.)

“That’s the big step toward 1931,” Schissel said. “Wilson’s saying, ‘When it’s appropriate to play a national anthem, I’d like it to be ‘The Star-Spangled Banner.’ That’s another push toward anthemhood.”

Putting it all Together

Music Division librarian Richard Hill carried on Sonneck’s work in later decades, establishing proof of the basic conjectural things Sonneck and Sousa had come up with and adding detail about the Anacreontic Society and Smith.

“He put it all together: This was printed at this time. This edition came out then. The Anacreontic song was first published at this point,” Schissel said. “And, among other things: Who was John Stafford Smith? He was a murky figure in this operation.”

Hill died relatively young, in 1961, leaving his work unfinished.

Music Division librarian William Lichtenwanger took Sonneck’s and Hill’s research, added his own and in 1977 produced the work now considered the anthem’s definitive history: “The Music of The Star-Spangled Banner: From Ludgate Hill to Capitol Hill.”

“It basically should be a three-name book: Sonneck, Hill and Lichtenwanger,” Schissel said. “We’re always looking for new information, we’re always looking for new editions, we’re always adding to our knowledge. But that book still is cited. It’s always used.”

A Look Back: MOL Comfort Incident Photos

On June 17, 2013, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines’ 2008-built MOL Comfort began suffering from severe hogging and broke in two while underway from Singapore to Jeddah with a load of 7,041 TEUs. The crew escaped in life rafts and were picked up by another merchant vessel. The stern section was never recovered and sank some 10 days later. The bow section was towed most of the way towards the Arabian Gulf, but eventually burst into flames and sank. Here is a collection of photos of the incident.

MOL Comfort on June 17, 2013.

FULL COVERAGE: MOL Comfort Incident

MOL Comfort breaks in two

MOL Comfort breaks in half, June 17, 2013.

Both fore and aft sections set adrift in the Indian Ocean. Image credit: MRCC

Image credit: MRCC

Bow section picture after breaking apart July 17. Image credit: MRCC Mumbai

Fullbore Friday

An encore FbF today, and one of my favorites.


Training. Drills. PMS. PQS. Attention to detail.

Do you do just the minimum, or do you ask for extra time to get it better and better? Do you train and inspect hard? How many times have you gone through different scenarios with your crew?

Do all your watch standers know how critical their position and responsibility is? From the OOD to the YN3 on the 50cal.; do they appreciate that they are as important as the Commanding Officer? 

Discipline. Discipline and obedience in the time of stress, strain, and unimaginable threat to life an honor. Have you and your crew's training been built to refine and demonstrate those qualities? How do you address shortcomings? Are your Chiefs and First Class focused, demanding, masters of their team and duties?
As the Sydney approached the starboard beam of the larger Kormoran, the cruiser used a daytime searchlight to flash the signal “NNJ,” the maritime code ordering the merchant ship to identify herself. After a delay, the Kormoran ran up the signal flags of the Dutch vessel Straat Malaaka, although their location ahead of the freighter’s single large funnel purposefully made it difficult for the Sydney’s spotters to read. The warship requested the freighter to re-position the flags, and as German crew slowly complied, the distance between the two ships, still sailing due west, shrank to a mile.

“Where bound” came the second signal flashed by the Sydney. “Batavia” was the reply from the Kormoran, indicating the capital of the Dutch colony of Java lying over a thousand miles to the north.

Aboard the German raider, Detmers and the bridge staff watched the exchange of signals anxiously and urged the enemy cruiser to sail away and leave them alone. Their fear rose when they saw the Sydney’s crew prepare to launch the spotter plane from the amidships catapult. The plane, once airborne, would easily spot the hundreds of naval mines strewn about the Kormoran’s high deck, giving away its identity as a raider. But the launch crew apparently received new orders and returned the plane to its storage position.

According to the recollections of Heinz Messerschmidt, a 26-year-old lieutenant commander aboard the Kormoran at the time, Detmers turned to his officers and reassured them again, “Ah, it's tea time on board. They'll probably just ask us where we are going and what cargo and then let us go on.”

By luck and guile the Kormoran had survived for almost a year by preying on isolated Allied merchant ships. But this was its first encounter with a warship brandishing guns of equal firepower. Still playing on its disguise as a helpless merchantman, the Kormoran’s radio operator began broadcasting the alert signal “QQQQ” meaning “suspicious ship sighted.” The anxious signal likely confused the Sydney, whose radio operator would have received the transmission, as did a wireless station 150-miles away in the Australian coastal town of Geraldton.

As the parley continued, the distance between the two ships shrank to less than a mile. Lookouts on the Sydney scanned the freighter for suspicious markings or signs of weapons.

But carefully concealed behind special screens and tarps on the Kormoran’s decks was an arsenal of naval guns, torpedo tubes, and anti-tank guns, all manned, loaded, and trained on the unaware cruiser. Later investigations would attempt to determine why Captain Burnett approached so closely to the Kormoran, or if he was lured into false sense of security.

Although both ships possessed guns of similar caliber, the Sydney’s fire control system and experienced turret crews only would be an advantage at longer ranges. Whether by inexperience or trickery, the Sydney’s vulnerable position would soon turn perilous. Over an hour after the cruiser first sighted the freighter on the horizon and gave chase, Burnett ordered the Sydney to flash the signal “1K”–one half of the secret Allied call sign for the Straat Maalaka—across the short gap between the ships. The actual Dutch freighter of that name had a codebook with the corresponding two-letter response. The Kormoran did not. Detmers realized that the time for hiding was over. He ordered the Dutch flag taken down and the German naval ensign run up the mast as the camouflage screens fell away to reveal the line of gun barrels trained on the Sydney. The Kormoran’s 5.9-inch guns fired first, while the rapid-fire anti-tank and machine guns opened up on the officers visible on the cruiser’s bridge. It was shortly after half past five in the afternoon.

The first two 5.9-inch salvos from the Kormoran missed the Sydney, according to reports from the German gunners. But the third volley crashed into the bridge and gun director tower, crippling the cruiser’s ability to return accurate fire just seconds into the battle.

Meanwhile, the raider’s anti-tank and machine guns raked the Sydney’s bridge, presumably killing or wounding many of the officers standing there. Other guns sprayed the exposed portside 4-inch gun mounts and torpedo tubes, preventing their crews from manning them. According to German witnesses, the gap between the two ships was between 1,000 and 1,500 yards—a distance more appropriate for the muzzle-loading cannons of Trafalgar than the rapid-fire guns and high explosive shells of the Second World War.

The Sydney’s first response was a salvo of 6-inch rounds that passed over the now exposed raider. However, the next shells from the Kormoran smashed into the cruiser’s forward “A” and “B” turrets and put them out of action. Another German shell exploded the spotter plane amidships, spilling burning aviation fuel over the decks and black smoke billowing into the sky. Sydney’s “X” and “Y” turrets located in the rear of the ship continued to fire under local control for a few more minutes, but only the crew of “X” achieved hits, sending three rounds into the high-sided freighter. One shell struck amidships, and another punched into the engine room. But the third shell tore through the raider’s funnel, severing the oil warming lines and sending burning fluids cascading down into the motor room to ignite a major fire.

At about this time the Kormoran reportedly launched two torpedoes; at least one struck the Sydney between the mangled “A” and “B” turrets tearing a huge gash in the bow and igniting even more fires. Locked together like two wavering boxers, the warships exchanged constant blows that crippled them both within a few minutes. A storm of shells swept across the water as impacting rounds blossomed into fireballs and pillars of smoke from burning fuel climbed into the evening sky.

Fifteen minutes after firing began, the stricken Sydney made a sudden turn to port, passing close behind the Kormoran and allowing the raider’s rear guns to engage the previously sheltered starboard side of the cruiser. But the Sydney’s turn also permitted her crew to launch a spread of four torpedoes at the raider, all of which missed.

By this time the fires in the Kormoran’s engine room had spread to destroy the machinery, causing the freighter to stop in the water. The Sydney limped slowly away to the south still under fire, down severely at the bow and burning ferociously. Around six o’clock the now immobile Kormoran loosed a final torpedo from an underwater tube at the fleeing Sydney that apparently missed. The 5.9-inch guns on the raider continued to engage the cruiser for another half hour as the range increased and darkness fell. The Germans’ last view of the Sydney came a few hours after sunset—a burning glow on the distant southern horizon that slowly flickered and faded away.

Detmers soon realized that the Kormoran’s uncontrollable fires threatened the hundreds of volatile mines stored on the deck. He ordered his crew to set scuttling charges and abandon ship. Without panicking, the German crew launched lifeboats and watched as the charges detonated along the ship’s keel shortly after midnight, sinking the Kormoran on her 352nd continuous day at sea.

Of the raiders crew of 397 officers and men, 317 survivors reached the Australian coast over the next few days. And in an outcome that has fueled controversy ever since, neither the Sydney, nor her crew of 645 officers and men, were ever seen again.
That is why we have standards. That is why we have qualifications. That is why we should demand excellence and discipline. Are your standards and expectation focused for the same reasons as Fregattenkapitän (Commander) Theodor Detmers? An epic story.

BZ to ewok40k for pointing out that KORMORAN has been found, and as Matt tells us, the SYDNEY has been found as well. 

Stirling leads Armed Forces Day celebrations across UK


Armed Forces Day launchRepresentatives from the services will join veterans and pipe bands in Stirling for Armed Forces Day

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Armed Forces Day celebrations across the country are set to be led from Stirling.

Hundreds of veterans, serving personnel and cadets are to join the Princess Royal and other dignitaries for the day of military demonstrations and events.

A huge parade of services personnel - young and old - is to kick off the proceedings, marching from Stirling Castle to the events grounds nearby.

A Red Arrows display is among a packed timetable of entertainment on show.

Representatives of the Army, Navy and Air Force are all taking part in the event, which is the centrepiece of celebrations going on all over the country.

A group of veterans on motorcycles will lead the 1000-strong parade from the castle at 11:30.

They will head through the Old Town and be joined by cadets and serving personnel at the Albert Halls, before making their way to the events ground at the Royal Parklands.

Tanks and military vehicles will be on display throughout the day, with demonstrations by Sea King, Apache and Puma helicopters.

Plane enthusiasts will get to see the Lancaster, Spitfire and Hurricane in flight, along with more modern Typhoon and Tornado jets, and a demonstration by the Red Arrows stunt team is scheduled to close the event.

Red ArrowsA display by the Red Arrows is among the entertainment on show at Armed Forces Day

Other displays include Royal Marines fast-roping from helicopters, pipe bands, a parachute display by the Army's Red Devils, an artillery gun salute and troops staging a ground assault complete with casualty evacuations.

Organisers estimate the event will earn about £1m for the local economy, while boosting Stirling's reputation as a tourist destination.

'Time to shine'

Armed Forces Day is part of Stirling's "Big Weekend", which includes the Bannockburn Live battle re-enactment weekend, the Pipefest pipe band competition, and a night of open-air performances, entertainment and street art at Stirling's Big Night Out.

VisitScotland chairman Mike Cantlay said thousands of people were expected to attend the events.

He said: "The teams for Pipefest, Armed Forces Day and Bannockburn Live are working hard to ensure Stirling's Big Weekend is one to remember.

"Never before has this stunning city hosted as many tourists from all over the world and it really is Stirling's time to shine, showcasing the attractions, landscapes and history of this amazing area."

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The End of MIRVs for U.S. ICBMs

The United States last week finished removing the last MIRV (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle) from its Minuteman 3 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs); these missiles will now each carry a single warhead. The move was the fulfillment of a promise the Obama administration made in its 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which stated that it would “enhance the stability of the nuclear balance by reducing the incentives for either side to strike first.” 

A Minuteman 3 bus with 3 MIRVed warheads.  Photo: Department of Defense.

A Minuteman 3 bus with 3 MIRVed warheads. Photo: Department of Defense.

It is also another step toward compliance with the New START treaty, under the terms of which the United States and Russia will each reduce the number of their deployed strategic warheads to 1,550 by 2018 (Russia is already below this number, the U.S. is still working on it).

MIRVs were a cold war invention made possible by advances in nuclear weapons design that allowed development of warheads small enough that several could fit on one missile. Missiles are expensive, and MIRVs were a way to maximize the damage that a single missile could cause. They were quickly adopted by the United States and Soviet Union for both ICBMs and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

The United States first tested MIRVs in 1968, and first deployed them in 1970 on the Minuteman 3, which can carry up to 3 warheads. The U.S. Peacekeeper missile, the last of which was decommissioned in 2005, could carry up to 10 warheads. U.S. SLBMs still carry MIRVs, although the number of warheads loaded onto one missile is being reduced. Russia is more dependent on MIRVs than the United States, using them on both ICBMs and SLBMs, and a new version of the Russian SS-27 ICBM is reportedly able to carry up to four warheads.

One major problem with MIRVed ICBMs is that just one incoming nuclear warhead could destroy all the warheads on the MIRVed ICBM. This creates a “use them or lose them” scenario—an incentive to strike first in a time of crisis. Otherwise, a first strike attack that destroyed a country’s MIRVed missiles would disproportionately damage that country’s ability to retaliate. (Since SLBMs are generally considered to be invulnerable to attack, they do not create the same concern.)

Completing the transition to single warheads for U.S. ICBMs is a milestone worth acknowledging, but there is still more to be done to bring the U.S. nuclear posture into alignment with the current international security situation. The United States still has about 450 de-MIRVed Minuteman 3 ICBMs, most of which are kept on high alert, ready to launch in minutes. Like MIRVs, this alert status is a relic of a different time, designed to respond to a different threat.  And—also like MIRVs—it is dangerous. Maintaining U.S. weapons on high alert increases the chance that one or more of these missiles will be launched by accident, without authorization, or in response to a false warning of attack. It also encourages Russia to keep its missiles on high alert.

De-MIRVing ICBMs is a step in the right direction, but there is more that the United States must do to reduce the risks of nuclear use.  Taking these missiles off high alert would be a significant next step toward this goal.

Drone glitch, bad judgment led to crash

A malfunctioning target drone, combined with judgment errors aboard the Navy cruiser Chancellorsville and at a Ventura County control center, led to the Nov. 13 accident that injured two sailors and breached the warship's hull.

newly unclassified Navy report on the incident recommends administrative action against the ship's then-skipper, Capt. Andrew Hesser, and three key crew members for allowing a BQM-74 target drone to crash into the side of their ship without putting up an effective defense.

The repairs cost the Navy an estimated $30 million and took the ship out of service for a time. The drone's impact caused a fire in the breached space and in a portion of the electrical system. The report describes the sailors' injuries as minor.

The San Diego-based Chancellorsville was off the coast of Southern California in the middle of qualification trials for an upgrade to its Aegis-radar weapons system when the accident happened.

photo
Northrop Grumman BQM-74E target drone — Northrop Grumman photo

The drone was mimicking an incoming missile or similar kind of threat to the ship.

A Navy spokesman wouldn't say what kind of administrative action was taken against Hesser. Administrative actions can include a letter of caution or a formal counseling from a senior officer. They are not necessarily career enders.

Hesser served out his regular term aboard the Chancellorsville and is now working in a staff position at the Coronado-based Naval Surface Forces command.

Pacific Fleet commander Adm. Harry Harris had stern words for both the ship's skipper and the crew controlling the drone from Ventura's Point Mugu naval base.

“In the naval profession, we expect and trust our commanding officers to execute their duties with the utmost attention to detail, and we hold them accountable when they fail,” Harris wrote in the report.

“Likewise, we must set the conditions for success with our supporting actions. In this case, the personnel and systems designed to support and execute this complex test of Chancellorsville's combat system failed. Multiple indicators of control system anomalies were discounted or ignored. The control team failed to present a safe target profile to Chancellorsville and in so doing, put the ship at risk.”

U-T San Diego received a redacted copy of the formerly secret report after filing a Freedom of Information Act request.

A breakdown of the missteps:

• The target drone's control system failed, causing it to ignore the “turn away” command given by the Point Mugu control room.

• The operator of the ship's Close-In Weapons System – a warship's last line of defense against incoming missiles – received a “recommend fire” alert at his console, and reported it verbally. The ship's air warfare coordinator – one of three people on the ship with the authority to engage weapons – heard but did not act on the alert.

• The Point Mugu control room did not immediately call "rogue drone" when the drone failed to turn away a little more than 2 nautical miles from the ship. Sailors relied upon this "rogue drone" call. Not hearing the call, they did nothing to protect the ship, the report said.

• The team at Point Mugu knew the drone control system had failed or showed glitches several times that day, but they didn't stop the exercise or even tell the ship. “I question this control team's ability to continue to adequately service Pacific Fleet ships,” Harris said in his comments.

• The ship's combat systems coordinator changed the protocol for automatically activating the Chancellorsville's surface missile tracking system – without telling the skipper. The crew expected the missile system to track the drone and “were distracted attempting to conduct manual (tracking) while the drone continued inbound.”

The Battle for Iran, 1953: Re-Release of CIA Internal History Spotlights New Details about anti-Mosaddeq Coup


The Foreword to The Battle for Iran lists sources used, including the "enthusiastic cooperation" of the Near East operations staff. It reconfirms that CIA officials destroyed the "great bulk" of internal correspondence about the coup in 1962. The author of the 1954 history (name excised) was Donald Wilber. The identity of the author of this report is unknown.

Washington, DC, June 27, 2014 During early planning for the 1953 Iran coup, U.S. Ambassador Loy Henderson warned not only that the Shah would not support the United States' chosen replacement for Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq but that the Army would not play its hoped-for leading role without the Shah's active cooperation, according to a newly released version of an internal CIA history of the operation posted today by the National Security Archive.

The Archive, based at The George Washington University, obtained the latest release of this history —The Battle for Iran, written in the mid-1970s — in response to a Mandatory Declassification Review request.

The document goes on to say that members of the CIA's station in Tehran and certain officials at agency headquarters sided with Henderson against some of the assumptions of American coup planners, who were working under "closely held" conditions in Washington during Spring and Summer 1953.

Mainly through interviews with coup participants, scholars have known generally that disagreements existed (and eventually Henderson went along with Mosaddeq's overthrow), but freshly declassified portions of the document posted today provide a few more specifics about the nature of the differences and who held to which views. (An earlier internal CIA account downplayed Henderson's dissenting views, choosing to emphasize that he was "always thoroughly cooperative" and "absorbed in a search for constructive suggestions.")[1]


A tank patrols a neighborhood in Tehran, soon after August 19, 1953. (National Security Archive collections)

The document also offers the most explicit declassified CIA references to-date to British participation in the operation. London's role — undoubtedly the worst-kept secret in Britain's relationship with Iran over the past 60 years — has never been formally acknowledged by either British or U.S. authorities. However, in this latest CIA release at least two references are tantamount to an official admission of the fact (see below).

Furthermore, the CIA study concludes that the British "misjudged their adversaries badly" in several respects, and that their actions effectively forced the Mosaddeq government to adopt untenable policies. London's rash approach also risked a war with the Soviets, according to the author (see below).

The Battle for Iran is one of three agency histories of the coup that are known to exist. Although heavily excised, it contains a number of interesting details as well as insights into U.S. thinking both in the 1950s and two decades later. It also contains evidence to support the conclusion that the participation of both outside intelligence agencies and Iranians themselves (from the Shah to Mosaddeq to his political opposition to the clerics, the military and finally members of the general population) contributed to the eventual outcome:[2]

  • The document's author does not view the coup as an undiluted success, noting that it left considerable "debris" in its wake (p. 71)
  • The history implies American coup plotters worked directly with certain Iranian clerics on the timing of the critical August 19 demonstration, noting "the mullahs wanted to hold it on Friday, 21 August, which was a religious festival day" but that this might be too late to stave off rumored plans by the authorities to hang a number of arrested officers on August 20 (p. 62). The previous and subsequent sections are excised, so it is not possible to tell how extensive the cooperation was or who the religious leaders were.
  • The document gives a less belittling portrait of the deposed prime minister than many Western accounts from the 1950s. It mentions his "often bizarre behavior" but concludes "most of his actions, even his most emotional and apparently irrational ones, were probably well calculated" (p. B-2).
  • The history repeats several of the generally negative characteristics of the Shah that many other U.S. and British accounts have noted. The author writes that "his indecision and susceptibility to bad advice were notorious," and he describes the monarch as a "mistrusting but gullible ruler" (pp. 47-48)
  • Fazlollah Zahedi, the general picked by the U.S. to replace Mosaddeq, had a "career balance sheet" with "nearly as many minuses as pluses" (p.32), according to the author. The document also highlights some of the personal and political conflicts between Zahedi and the Shah.
  • Contradicting published accounts that Mosaddeq was pinned down in his home on August 19, and that he was forced to escape over a garden wall, this version asserts, without sourcing, that the ousted prime minister "was not even in his house" but had gone next door and "taken temporary refuge" with none other than the head of the U.S. aid program Point Four - William Warne (p. 70). (The Wilber history speculates that Mosaddeq "had probably already left" his house by early afternoon [p. 70].)
  • The New York Times and other accounts "grossly exaggerated" the number of casualties during the coup, according to the history, which disparages Times reporter Kennett Love's descriptions of events, including his use of the phrase "torn to pieces" to describe the fates of Foreign Minister Hossein Fatemi and Col. Ezatollah Momtaz, who led the defense of the prime minister's residence on August 19. (Love put the number of dead at over 300. By comparison, a British report in early September 1953, without attribution, gave an estimate of over 50 dead and 300 wounded.[3])

Shortly after the overthrow, Shaban Jafari, celebrated wrestler and political enforcer, leads a pro-Pahlavi procession through Tehran. Propped up in the backseat of the crowded Cadillac is a large portrait of the Shah. (National Security Archive collections)

The CIA had first reviewed The Battle for Iran for release in 1981, but riddled it with exceptionally heavy excisions. A re-review occurred in 2011, and again in 2013 as the result of a National Security Archive request, leading to release of the version posted today. (The posting includes all three versions.) As a rough approximation, about 40 of the 150 pages include some amount of newly released material, sometimes the better part of a page, at other times only a few words. Most of the released text is in Sections III, IV and V, with about two-and-a-half pages newly available in Appendix D. Unaccountably, Appendix E, a chronology of events, has been withheld in its entirety.

The remaining excisions are too extensive to allow a thorough evaluation of the document, but some additional, preliminary comments are possible.

The earliest of the CIA's three internal histories of the 1953 coup was a 1954 "Clandestine Services History" prepared by coup operative Donald Wilber. The Battle for Iran was produced some two decades later, followed by "Zendebad, Shah!": The Central Intelligence Agency and the Fall of Iranian Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadeq in June 1998. BothBattle and Zendebad were written by historians at the CIA. The agency has released portions of the latter two documents, albeit with heavy excisions. Only one sentence of Wilber's account has been officially declassified (see Archive posting) — although in 2000 The New York Times posted virtually the entire document on its Web site after an unnamed former official leaked it to reporter James Risen.

It is important to note that this version of The Battle for Iran is a draft. Each page bears the stamp "Administrative — Working Paper," and typed and handwritten edits are visible throughout. There is nothing in the public record to indicate whether a final version ever appeared and, if so, what happened to it.

Another important point, and a difference between this and the earlier Wilber report — other than the amount of time that passed between their writing — is that the author of this document was a member of CIA's History Staff, not a direct participant in the operation. The current author therefore theoretically would have had less of a stake in portraying the coup in a positive light (one of the criticisms of skeptics of the Wilber history). Beyond that, it is unclear why the agency would have commissioned another internal history on the subject — much less seek a third account 20 years later.[4]

The Battle for Iran consists of five sections and six appendices. The 150-page document begins with a short introduction then 24 pages of background on Iran's history, population, economics, politics and government (reminiscent of the content of CIA's current "World Factbook"), more than half of which covers the Cold War period. After this section the agency, without identification or explanation, has inserted two pages of a handwritten outline of what may be the actual coup plan.

The third section is entitled "Covert Action" and over the course of 45 pages discusses the operation's various stages, including planning, involving the Shah, putting the operation into play, the failure of the first attempt, and the recovery that finally produced success. A 9-page description of the aftermath follows, then the main body of the document ends with a one-and-a-half-page assessment of the coup's long-term effects. Again, much of this remains classified, despite the wide public availability of corroborating material originating from other CIA sources.

Finally, seven appendices cover topics ranging from a history of the Anglo-Iranian oil dispute, to biographic information about key participants, to a set of talking points used with the Shah (heavily excised), to details about operational plans (entirely excised), and the trial of Mosaddeq.

The document's overall perspective is interesting. On the one hand it accepts as given the standard precepts about the Cold War — primarily the threat of Soviet aggression, including the perception that Mosaddeq seriously intended to move closer to the Soviets. It also makes dubious assertions about the Iranian character — for example, "their tendency to be talkative was notorious" (p. 54) — that are of a piece with many Westerners' attitudes in the 1950s. On the other hand, 20 years after the fact, the author does not fall entirely in line with Eisenhower administration caricatures of Mosaddeq, pronouncing him "neither a madman nor an emotional bundle of senility" (p. 26; see also p. B-2).

The matter of identifying Britain's role in the coup has become something of a poor joke. While the deletion of several passages in the text is clearly aimed at concealing the British role, at least two declassified references spotlight the issue. The first characterizes the operation as an "official admission by both the United States and United Kingdom that normal, rational methods of international communication and commerce had failed." The second notes that a few weeks before the operation a State Department office insisted that, if a coup were to go forward, London would have to provide a "firm commitment" to be "flexible" on any future oil settlement with "the new government." Shortly thereafter, the British cabled their acceptance of the conditions (pp. 39-40).

In this connection, the State Department is reportedly close to publishing its long-awaited retrospective volume on the coup as part of its Foreign Relations of the United States series, which will apparently include much valuable new information. However, it seems unlikely Britain's role will be discussed.

As mentioned above, the author freely criticizes the British approach. London's main misjudgment was to assume that the loss of revenue from the oil crisis would "bring the Iranians to their knees." Instead, it "merely forced them to take the risky steps that increasingly endangered their country's future" (p. 27). Moreover, if the British had "sent in the paratroops and warships," as earlier envisioned, it was "almost certain" the Soviet Union would have invaded, making the "danger of a third world war" seem "very real" (p. 27-28).

As noted, the history does not see the overthrow as an unqualified good. It may have removed Mosaddeq and restored the Shah but "it left behind a good deal of debris [words excised] to clean up, plus not a few complications." (The next half page of detail is excised.) (p. 71) The coup changed Iranian history, but it "did not, as Churchill hoped, enable the West to turn things around in the Middle East" (p. 79).

The author's characterization of the Shah may raise some eyebrows. He was "by no means a dedicated Western ally" even though he served Western interests by being staunchly anti-Soviet. His reforms brought important changes, according to the author, and the White Revolution is credited with having "solidified the foundations of the throne that seemed so shaky and insecure in the violent days of 1952 and 1953." At the same time, the history acknowledges the obvious, that "the Shah has a monopoly of political power ... although parliamentary elections and procedures may furnish the window-dressing of democratic government" (p. 79-80).

In one particular respect, the document is a reflection of its time. Written in the mid or possibly late 1970s, it comes in the wake of the revelations of widespread CIA misconduct by journalists such as Seymour Hersh and official investigations, notably the Church and Pike congressional committees and the Rockefeller Commission on CIA abuses. This was the era when the agency was publicly pilloried as a "rogue elephant" operating without presidential authority or accountability.

That is the background for the opening comments in Part III, which have a distinctly defensive tone. "The many chroniclers of Central Intelligence Agency misdeeds ... have long placed the August 1953 coup ... near the top of their list of infamous Agency acts ... The point that the majority of these accounts miss is a key one: the military coup that overthrew Mosadeq and his National Front cabinet was carried out under CIA direction as an act of U.S. foreign policy, conceived and approved at the highest levels of government" (p. 26).

 


THE DOCUMENT: The Battle for Iran, CIA History Staff, ca. mid-1970s

For purposes of comparison, this posting includes all three releases of the document — each of which has very different excisions.  Each version has been broken into segments for ease of viewing.

The Battle for Iran, 2014 release

A: Sections I and II (with attached handwritten outline of plans)

B: Section III, IV, and V

C: Appendixes

 

The Battle for Iran, 2011 release

A: Sections I and II

B: Section III

C: Appendixes

 

The Battle for Iran, 1981 release

A: Sections I and II

B: Appendixes

 


NOTES

[1] Mark Gasiorowski of Tulane University has done the most extensive interviewing of former operatives. The leaked history is: Donald N. Wilber, CIA Clandestine Services History,Overthrow of Premier Mossadeq of Iran: November 1952 - August 1953 March 1954, especially p. 18. When Wilber wrote this document, Henderson was still an active diplomat, and in fact still posted to Iran, necessitating some significant diplomacy on this point on Wilber's part. (See Archive EBB No. 435.)

[2] This is the conclusion of the editors of the volume Mohammad Mosaddeq and the 1953 Coup in Iran, edited by Mark J. Gasiorowski and Malcolm Byrne (Syracuse University Press, 2004). In recent years a handful of analyses, downplaying or dismissing altogether the evidence in certain American and British sources, have claimed neither the CIA nor British intelligence contributed meaningfully to Mosaddeq's actual overthrow.

[3] "Persia: Political Review of the recent Crisis," origin unknown but likely Foreign Office or British Embassy in Washington, September 2, 1953. SeeForeign Relations of the United States, Vol. X, "Iran, 1951-1954," p. 786. Love evidently did not make up the phrase thatBattle's author called "a favorite" of his. This same British document reports that pro-Shah forces announced from the radio station at 2:30 p.m. on August 19 that Fatemi had been "torn to pieces" (p. 785).

[4] An attempt in June 2014 to contact a member of the CIA History Staff familiar with the background of the 1998 history received no response.

 

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