Friday, January 27, 2017

January 26: One day, many meanings

Worimi man Steve Brereton paddles a nawi in Darling Harbour in 2012.

Worimi man Steve Brereton paddles a nawi in Darling Harbour in 2012. Image: Andrew Frolows/ANMM.

On 26 January the museum has often sailed the HMB Endeavour replica in the Tall Ships Race on Sydney Harbour. This year, Endeavour will not be out, but another important vessel linked to the museum will be involved in the 26 January events.

At 7.30am on Thursday at Barangaroo Reserve a bark canoe – or nawi in the Sydney Aboriginal language – will bring ashore a small fire from the Tribal Warrior vessel. The fire will be lit as part of the WugulOra (One Mob) ceremony that will begin Australia Day events in Sydney by 'recognising our shared history'. Previously held at the Opera House, WugulOra will be at the new Barangaroo parkland site for the first time this year.

Dean Kelly paddling a nawi. Image: Andrew Frollows/ANMM.

Dean Kelly paddling a nawi. Image: Andrew Frolows/ANMM.

For many Australians, Australia Day – the 26th of January – has become a day of celebration. But for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, Australia Day has very different meanings. It is not a day for celebration but a day for remembering. The arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 marked the beginning of what many believe was an invasion of their country. January 26 represents a day on which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' way of life was changed forever.

Whether in the most remote region of Western Australia or in the heart of the city of Sydney, most Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people think of 26 January as Invasion Day or Survival Day, or both. As one young boy recently said; 'It's embarrassing. It's like people celebrating the day that your people got slaughtered or invaded and really bad things happened. It's really sad.' Sadness is not something many of us think about Australia Day.

Yet it is also a day to be positive – to remember and recognise the survival of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and their cultures through over two-hundred years of colonisation, warfare, racism and oppression. It is a day to recognise that they have made, and continue to make, valuable contributions to Australian history and society.  As Amy McGuire notes, Aboriginal people had the world's first art galleries, sophisticated mathematics and physics, were the first astronomers, had the world's oldest burial rituals, were the first farmers, the first bakers, and – as we now move to World Heritage Listing for the Budj Bim Cultural Landscape – Aboriginal people had architecture; buildings and other stone and timber arrangements that are older than Stonehenge.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people also had – and continue to build – an amazing diverse array of watercraft, wonderfully suited to the different environments, conditions and waterways around the country.

This tied-bark nawi on display at the museum was made in 2014 by students from Lawrence Hargraves School

This tied-bark nawi on display at the museum was made in 2014 by students from Lawrence Hargrave School. Image: Andrew Frolows/ANMM.

As the recent controversy over the latest Australian Lamb advertisement has highlighted, Australia Day remains a difficult moment. Participation in these events can be part of a growing recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as our First Peoples. But it can also gloss over the years of conflict and warfare conducted in defence of their country and the many massacres of Aboriginal people.

"Terror Nullius" by Gordon Syron. Oil on canvas 1997. ANMM Collection 00031857.

"Terror Nullius" by Gordon Syron. Oil on canvas 1997. ANMM Collection 00031857.

The 26th of January – initially called 'Foundation Day' – was chosen as a day to celebrate in the early 1800s at a time when the First Australians were dismissed as being irrelevant to the 'progress' of a modern Australia. For these reasons, there have been calls to change the date of Australia Day.

It is important that the museum engages with both Australia Day and the histories associated with it. The arrival of European ships on Australian shores from the 1600s, the Endeavour's east coast survey in 1770, the arrival of the First Fleet in 1788 and the settlement of coastal Australia through the 1800s is all very much part of Australia's maritime history. As custodians of the Endeavour replica, the museum has an important role in interpreting not just the history of life on board an 18th century ship, but also the clash of cultures that occurred as the Europeans arrived on Australian shores.

'Terror Nullius' (part II) by Gordon Syron, oil on canvas, 1997. ANMM Collection 00031858.

'Terror Nullius' (part II) by Gordon Syron, oil on canvas, 1997. ANMM Collection 00031858.

Like Australia Day itself, the Endeavour is imbued with many different meanings – from the interpretation of Cook's incredible journeys around the world to the representation of a colonialism that disregarded the original inhabitants of Australia in claiming possession of their lands. Many people see Cook as a great navigator. Many Aboriginal people see him as a pirate or even a thief.

Reg Mombassa presents "Jim Cook" in the style of a 'Wanted' poster, as a law breaker, not the heroic explorer that the viewer is used to seeing. ANMM Collection 00054583. Reproduced courtesy of Reg Mombassa.

Reg Mombassa presents "Jim Cook" in the style of a 'Wanted' poster, as a law breaker, not the heroic explorer that the viewer is used to seeing. ANMM Collection 00054583. Reproduced courtesy of Reg Mombassa.

As a solitary bark canoe edges towards the Barangaroo shore in the early morning of 26 January this year, all these historical connections with the present will be held in the small but symbolic hearth fire on board the vessel. Nawi like this once plied the waterways of Sydney in numbers – to the delight of the early European colonists, who described it as a wonderful night time sight of twinkling firelights dotted across the harbour. As we watch the fireworks over Sydney it may be well to remember this other display of fire that enthralled people in 1788.

Preparing a nawi at the museum for the January 26 WugulOra ceremony. Images: Donna Carstens /ANMM.

— Dr Stephen Gapps, Curator

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POTUS Weighs in on Manning Case While Appeal is Still Pending

Here is CNN coverage of POTUS's early morning tweet paraphrasing Fox News coverage of a Private Manning article, here, that was critical of President Obama for being insufficiently progressive. The tweet reads:

Ungrateful TRAITOR Chelsea Manning, who should never have been released from prison, is now calling President Obama a weak leader. Terrible!

Just in case you were wondering, I have not found anything that specifically prohibits raising UCI at any point in the court-martial process. Any thoughts on UCI over the post-trial process? H/t LM

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One of WW1's bloodiest battle to be marked in Wales and Belgium The centenary of one of the First World War's bloodiest battles will be marked by commemorations in Wales and Belgium

The wreckage of a British tank beside the infamous Menin Road near Ypres, Belgium Credit: PA Wire

Mr Jones, who launched a programme of events on Thursday to mark 100 years since the First World War, said the central focus for this year's commemoration would be the battle of Passchendaele.

More than half a million troops - 325,000 Allied troops and 260,000 Germans - died in the battle, officially known as the Third Battle of Ypres, in the West Flanders region of northern Belgium in 1917.

Among those to fight in the battle that claimed the lives of many Welsh soldiers, was the renowned Welsh language poet, Hedd Wyn, who is buried at the nearby Artillery Wood cemetery, close to Ypres.

Cymru'n Cofio Wales Remembers 1914 - 1918 gives us the opportunity to remember the lives of those who served in the First World War.

The sacrifices the people of Wales made, alongside the rest of the UK and allied forces, should never be forgotten.

Programme 2017 is testament to the outstanding level of collaboration and engagement seen across Wales since 2014. It is important future generations understand how this terrible war shaped modern Wales, and we must learn lessons from the past to take us into a more peaceful future.


The Welsh events will take place alongside other commemorations planned by the UK Government.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Apollo 1 tragedy finally gets its due 50 years on: NASA displays fateful capsule’s hatch

A relic from America's first space tragedy is finally going on display this week, 50 years after a fire on the launchpad killed three astronauts at the start of the Apollo moon program.

The scorched Apollo 1 capsule remains locked away in storage. But NASA is offering visitors at Kennedy Space Center a look at the most symbolic part: the hatch that trapped Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee in their burning spacecraft on Jan. 27, 1967.

A flash fire erupted inside the capsule during a countdown rehearsal, with the astronauts atop the rocket at Cape Canaveral's Launch Complex 34. A cry came from inside: "Got a fire in the cockpit!" White struggled to open the hatch before quickly being overcome by smoke and fumes, along with his two crewmates. It was over for them in seconds.

Investigators determined the most likely cause to be electrical arcing from defective wiring.

With its moon program in jeopardy, NASA completely overhauled the Apollo spacecraft. The redesigned capsule — with a quick-release hatch — carried 24 men to the moon; 12 of them landed and walked on its surface.

For the astronauts' families, Apollo 1 is finally getting its due. The tragedy has long been overshadowed by the 1986 Challenger and 2003 Columbia accidents. Remnants of the lost shuttles have been on display at the visitor complex for 1½ years.

"I'm just so pleased that they finally decided to do something — visibly — to honor the three guys," said Chaffee's widow, Martha. "It's time that they show the three who died in the fire appreciation for the work that they did."

On Friday — the 50th anniversary — the crew's families will help dedicate the new exhibit. For most of them, a private tour Wednesday marks the first time they've seen any of the capsule.

"This is way, way, way long overdue. But we're excited about it," said Scott Grissom, Gus' older son. NASA was embarrassed about the fire "and that's why they pretty much kept it in the closet as long as they have."

Like the rest of America, NASA was in shock and simply did not want to talk about it, said Martha Chaffee. Exhibits at Kennedy and elsewhere would mention the fire but not highlight it.

As the years and decades rolled by, Apollo 1 became a mere footnote in space history. Chaffee's daughter, Sheryl, who retired last month after working at Kennedy for 33 years, recalls having to buy a memorial wreath herself to display at the space center on the 20th anniversary.

The Astronauts Memorial Foundation took over the annual observance that honors all astronauts killed in the line of duty — this year's ceremony is Thursday. But it wasn't until NASA unveiled its tribute to the 14 Challenger and Columbia astronauts in June 2015 that the agency wondered why it hadn't done anything similar for Apollo 1.

"This wasn't our generation … it wasn't on our radar" like the shuttle accidents were, explained Kelvin Manning, associate director of Kennedy Space Center. Determined to make things right, he and others at Kennedy began work on a display.

NASA consulted the two surviving widows and six children, explaining it wanted to honor the three men and their sacrifice, and show how Apollo 1 ultimately paved the way to the moon. Grissom, an original Mercury astronaut, was the second American to fly in space. White was the nation's first spacewalker. Chaffee was the rookie for the flight, a demo in low-Earth orbit.

With the families' blessing, NASA last year pulled the hatch from storage at Langley Research Center in Virginia.

All three layers of the hatch underwent preservation, but were not altered in any way. The white outer hatch is still discolored and pitted, with what looks to be charring in an upper corner. The middle hatch appears darkened. The orange inner hatch is scuffed.

The three sections stand side-by-side.

In the very next display case is the redesigned hatch. It was just one of numerous changes made to the spacecraft, as well as to procedures. No more pure oxygen, high-pressure cabin atmosphere on the ground, for example, and everything fireproofed inside. The exhibit is in the same building that holds one of three remaining Saturn V rockets built for moon shots.

Bonnie Baer, White's daughter, is grateful the entire capsule is not on display, as so many other family members have been urging for decades. "I want them to be remembered for the other things and not necessarily for the accident," she said.

As the 30th anniversary of the fire approached, Betty Grissom, Gus' widow, had pushed to have the capsule put on public display. The request was denied.

"There's a long list of places where really bad things happened to our country, but we display those respectfully and appropriately," Scott Grissom said, citing the Alamo, Gettysburg and the Arizona Memorial at Pearl Harbor.

The retired FedEx pilot said displaying the hatch is a start.

"This is a long overdue step at doing right."

The three astronauts killed 50 years ago in the first U.S. space tragedy represented NASA's finest: the second American to fly in space, the first U.S. spacewalker and the trusted rookie.

They were selected for the first manned mission of the Apollo moon program, meant to orbit the Earth in a shakedown flight. They died in a fire at their launchpad during a countdown rehearsal on Jan. 27, 1967.

A brief look at the men:


Grissom, 40, was the second American in space and perhaps best known for the sinking of his Mercury capsule, the Liberty Bell 7.

The hatch to the capsule prematurely blew off at splashdown on July 21, 1961. Grissom was pulled to safety, but his spacecraft sank.

Next came Gemini. NASA assigned Grissom as commander of the first Gemini flight in 1965, and he good-naturedly picked Molly Brown as the name of the spacecraft after the Broadway musical "The Unsinkable Molly Brown."

He was an Air Force test pilot before becoming an astronaut and his two sons ended up in aviation. Scott retired several years ago as a FedEx pilot, while younger Mark is an air traffic controller in Oklahoma. Their mother, Betty, still lives in Houston.

Scott recalls how his father loved hunting, fishing, skiing and racing boats and cars. "To young boys, all that stuff is golden," he says.


White, 36, made history in 1965 as America's first spacewalker.

NASA chose the most athletic member of its still-new astronaut corps to take this big step. Back during his West Point days, White had excelled at hurdling and almost made the 1952 U.S. Olympic track team. He went on to become an Air Force test pilot.

White was in NASA's second astronaut group. During Gemini 4, he spent 21 minutes out in the vacuum of space. Although it was strenuous, going back inside, he said, was "the saddest moment of my life."

He had two children, Edward White III and Bonnie Baer. His daughter says that for all who knew her father, he truly was "a standout."

"He was just ahead of his time," she says, "because even back then, he used to run and work out."

Their mother, Patricia, who had remarried, died in 1983.


Chaffee, 31, was the baby of the crew, a never-flown-in-space rookie.

Chaffee was just 7 when he took his first plane ride over Lake Michigan with his father, who was a barnstorming pilot. He was chosen for NASA's third astronaut group in 1963.

To this day, his widow, Martha, looks at his picture and thinks to herself, "how lucky I was." She remarried, but later divorced.

Sheryl Chaffee, one of their two children with brother Stephen, retired at the end of December as a real estate property officer following a 33-year career at Kennedy Space Center.

On the way home from her last day at work, she and her husband, also a space center employee, drove past the abandoned launchpad where her father and his crewmates died.

Another rookie astronaut, Donn Eisele, actually was promised Apollo 1, but shoulder surgery sidelined him and the slot fell to Chaffee, a Navy lieutenant commander.

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President Announces Navy Secretary Nominee From a White House News Release

President Announces Navy Secretary Nominee

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2017 — President Donald J. Trump today announced his intention to nominate Philip Bilden as the 76th secretary of the Navy.

If confirmed by the Senate, Bilden will replace Ray Mabus, who was the longest serving Navy secretary since World War I.

The announcement follows the president's nomination of Heather Wilson as Air Force secretary and Vinnie Viola as Army secretary.

"All three of these nominees have my utmost confidence," Defense Secretary James Mattis said in a statement following the announcement. "They will provide strong civilian leadership to strengthen military readiness, gain full value from every taxpayer dollar spent on defense, and support our service members, civilians, and their families. I appreciate the willingness of these three proven leaders to serve our country. They had my full support during the selection process, and they will have my full support during the Senate confirmation process."

Bilden is a business leader, former military intelligence officer and Naval War College cybersecurity leader who served on the board of directors for the United States Naval Academy Foundation and the board of trustees of the Naval War College Foundation.

He was commissioned in 1986 in the Army Reserve as a military intelligence officer and served for 10 years, achieving the rank of captain. Bilden’s family includes four consecutive generations of Navy and Army officers, including his two sons, who presently serve in the Navy.

“As secretary of the Navy, Philip Bilden will apply his terrific judgement and top-notch management skills to the task of rebuilding our unparalleled Navy,” Trump said. “Our number of ships is at the lowest point that it has been in decades. Philip Bilden is the right choice to help us expand and modernize our fleet, including surface ships, submarines and aircraft, and ensure America’s naval supremacy for decades to come. I am proud of the men and women of our armed forces. The people who serve in our military are our American heroes, and we honor their service every day.”

“I am deeply humbled and honored to serve as secretary of the Navy,” Bilden said. “Maintaining the strength, readiness, and capabilities of our maritime force is critical to our national security. If confirmed, I will ensure that our sailors and Marines have the resources they need to defend our interests around the globe and support our allies with commitment and capability.”

Jersey, Channel Islands: A brief history of immigration

This blogpost about Jersey's Worldwide Links and the Island's Parish Church Records was written by Linda Romeril. Linda is Archives and Collections Director at Jersey Heritage and is responsible for the care and promotion of access to the Island's archive and museum collections. Archive collections include records from the Government of Jersey, Public Institutions, the Royal Court, H.E. Lieutenant-Governor, Parishes, Churches, Businesses, Societies and Individuals relating to the Island. Linda has worked at Jersey Archive since 1997.

Jersey Catholic Parish Records

Jersey is the largest of the Channel Islands, which are located in the English Channel just 30 kilometres from the French coast. Jersey is a small Island, just 118 square kilometres; however descendants of the sea faring islanders can be found all around the world.

Jersey men and women, travelled from the Island over the centuries in search of new lives, land to farm and opportunities to bring back trade and goods to their families.

From the 16th Century onwards we know that thousands of Jersey men and women, such as the Mauger, Noel, Amy, Renouf, Le Cornu, Nicolle, Cabot, Hamon, de la Haye, Romeril, de Gruchy and Le Quesne families, left the Island to start new lives in countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand and America. The Jersey Church of England Parish Records from 1540 – 1940 are now available to search online through Ancestry for the first time. Jersey family names are distinctive and unique and therefore allow descendants to link back to their Jersey roots and discover more about their Island ancestors.

Did your Jersey ancestors set sail for new shores? Find out more about when and why the people of Jersey began immigrating around the world.

As early as the 16th century the Jersey fleet was involved in the Newfoundland cod trade, and there were permanent bases in the area in the 1670s, particularly in Conception Bay, Trinity Bay, and Jersey Bay.

The business developed strongly and in the late 18th century there was a significant Jersey presence especially in the Gaspe peninsular. At its peak in the 1830s and 40s it is estimated that as many as 2,500 Jerseymen were working on a fleet of over 100 vessels.

Jersey people also took advantage of trade opportunities in America with Jersey communities in Boston and Salem as early as the 17th century. Trade links continued into the 18th century with a number of merchants and apprentices settling on the east coast of America. During the 19th century, Jersey people emigrated to work in the growing construction industry and to purchase land, with the California Gold Rush of the 1850s also attracting people from the island.

A small number of convicts were transported from Jersey, however the vast majority of those who emigrated to Australia were looking for opportunities to settle and own their own land as a result of an economic downturn in the island in the 1870s and 1880s.

Jersey residents also took advantage of the Australian gold rush of the 1850s and it is estimated that as many as 6,000 people may have left the Channel Islands for Australia between 1852 and 1855. In the 1850s, a number of advertisements for ships leaving for Australia appeared in the local newspapers. These include an advert from Esnouf and Mauger ship owners who wish to let readers know that the brig Charles from Jersey was leaving the island on 2nd April and sailing for Melbourne and the gold regions of Australia. Those who left the island during this period include George Romeril and his wife Ann Pallot, both of whom were in their early 20s and looking to make a new life together.

New Zealand
The economic downturn also led islanders to take up opportunities for land ownership and a new life in New Zealand. In the 1870s and 1880s islanders were given free passage to New Zealand and it is estimated that around 400 people left Jersey to make the long trip across the world.

The Jersey Heritage Archives and Collections online allows you to search more record collections to find out about your ancestors.

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Treacherous Passage: Germany's Secret Plot Reviewed by Charles H. Bogart

Treacherous Passage: 

Germany's Secret Plot against the United States in Mexico During World War I

University of Nebraska Press, 2016

The author has written an excellent book casting light on one segment of the troubling relationship the United States has often had with Mexico. As the year 1917 dawned, most Americans would have overwhelmingly predicted that if the United States went to war that year it would be with Mexico, not Germany. Within the pages of this book Bill Mills fleshes out the story of United States, German, and Mexican relations in 1917—first brought to the attention of the general population in Barbara W. Tuchman's 1958 book The Zimmermann Telegram.

The heart of Bill Mill's book concerns itself with intrigue undertaken by various German nationalists trapped in Mexico to outfit two ships for employment as warships to support attacks on American coastal shipping. The story of the endeavor of these German nationalists to purchase and outfit these two ships is a story of how a series of unconnected random acts can have unexpected outcomes. The prime example of this was how the Mexican warship Morelos went from the pride of the Mexican Navy to sunken warship to a candidate as a German raider. Even more brazen was the plan to convert the motorized schooner Alexander Agassiz into a commerce raider to prey upon the American fishing fleet operating off Southern California.

Suspected German Agents Captured Aboard Alexander Agassiz by U.S. Navy 
Central to the story is how various German nationalist and opportunist Mexicans formed a business alliance to circumnavigate United States wartime probations on the selling and shipping of certain goods to German-controlled companies in Mexico. Part of this alliance later broke off to become an active anti-American force proposing to indirectly and directly attack the United States. As part of this activity a 1,000-man German Army Reservists camp was established at El Claro in Sonora. The plan called for these men to be trained as officers and NCOs and then used as a leadership cadre directing a 45,000-strong Mexican rank and file army that would seize Texas. The invading German/Mexican army would be reinforced within Texas by disgruntled African Americans, locals of Mexican descent, and anti-capitalist agitators. If in hindsight the proposed outcome of this invasion plan seems naive, foolhardy, and divorced from reality, one still never knows how such a failed attack would have impacted American war aims.

A sub-story the author presents in Treacherous Passage concerns the proposed arrival in late 1917 of five German submarines off the west coast of California. These boats were to sail from Germany through the Straits of Magellan to a rendezvous with supply ships purchased by Germans in Mexico. Unfortunately, the author provides no information from German naval archives listing what U-boats were to make the voyage or if there were any boats with this range of operation.

Mixed in with the above story is the tale of American counter-espionage activities against Germany both in Mexico and the United States. As one reads the story of the German anti-American activities in Mexico one is amazed at how amateurishly the Germans conducted their operations. The whole story presented within this book to my mind reads more like an act of deliberate German misinformation to feed to U.S. agents for the purpose of tying down U.S. naval and military forces along the Mexican border and the coast of California, than the operations of a true espionage outfit. The author provides a fascinating look at German/Mexican/American relationships during the period 1914–1917. I would be interested in hearing from others if they believe that proposed 1917 German operations against the United States from Mexico were real or were part of an elaborate deception plan to tie down the U.S. Army on the Mexican border.

Note: This review is being presented concurrently in The Journal of Military Past published by the Council on American Military Past. 


Charles H. Bogart

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French Leave Policy and the Army Mutinies

According the Emmanuelle Cronier, a Marie Curie Fellow at the University of Birmingham, French Army leave policy had a lot to do with the mutinies that followed the failed Nivelle Offensive in April 1917.

A Poilu, Not Very Happy to Be Stuck in a Trench

Back in 1914, when the war was supposed to be over by Christmas, only the wounded  were allowed to spend a few days at home as part of their recuperation. But when the war clearly became a long one, governments had to implement leave policies both for the well-being and sanity of the troops and for morale on the home front.  So, in 1915 the various armies gradually began allowing their soldiers to take a few days leave in the rear, and, if possible, to return home. Transport was a continual problem and major battles like Verdun, where it was often a matter of "all hands on deck," to borrow a naval expression, made taking leave difficult.  

From the start, the Poilus  felt the allocation of leave authorizations was arbitrary and never intended to meet the promised targets.  Political pressure, though, was brought to bear on the Army, and by the end of 1916 French soldiers eventually had the most favorable system of all the combatants — in theory. It promised  a leave of three to ten days, two or three times a year However, the French command did not immediately embrace the new policy since it was hoping to win the war soon with General Nivelle's new strategy to be implemented  in the coming battle on the Chemin des Dames.

On Leave in Paris

As is well known, the attack failed dismally and the troops rebelled. Many of the mutineers later cited the lack of leave opportunities in addition to fatigue and a general lack of confidence in the military leadership as reasons for their disobedience. Pétain is credited with improving the leave system as part of his effort to rebuild the army. Truth be told, he simply enforced the policies that had been put in place just before the Nivelle Offensive.  Also, Pétain believed the mutineers had used the limited leave time they had earlier—especially in Paris—to brew up their rebellion. Consequently, he also established surreptitious monitoring units in trains, at railway stations, and in the capital, to identify any new plotters.

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New Financial Literacy App Preps Sailors for Blended Retirement Choices

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- A new application for mobile devices designed to enhance financial literacy for Sailors is available today and helps provide the latest info on the Blended Retirement System (BRS) that goes into effect in 2018. The app is designed to provide Sailors with anytime, anywhere access to both training and resources that will help them make informed decisions about their financial future, which is especially critical as the military gets ready to begin BRS Jan. 1, 2018. "This is a very important time for Sailors to be aware of their finances and this app covers a wide range of topics that will keep them on top of their money," said Jim Simpson, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations (OPNAV) N170. "Whether they are opting-in to the new retirement system, looking to make smart car-buying choices or planning for their children's future, this gives them one spot to start building that knowledge." Targeted primarily for active duty and reserve service members, the app also serves as a valuable tool for Navy family members. Users will be able to explore issues like managing their credit, building a spending plan, home buying, moving, as well as how to navigate survivor benefits, insurance and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) among many other topics. Outside of the standard financial topics, there is a BRS resources tab that includes infographics, frequently asked questions, as well as training links that will be refreshed as new courses and training materials become available. Once finished, the retirement calculator for BRS will be included as part of the app as well. BRS is effective Jan. 1, 2018 and service members eligible to opt-into BRS will have until the end of 2018 to decide if they want to switch to the new plan. Everyone serving today can stay under the current system, while those with fewer than 12 years of service as of the end of 2017 will have an opportunity to opt-into the new retirement system. New Sailors will automatically be enrolled into the new system as of start of 2018. The U.S. Navy Sea Warrior Program (PMW 240) produced the app and Tracen Technologies Inc., a company that specializes in integrated mobile and web solutions, was the software developer. The Navy Financial Literacy mobile application is available for download from the iTunes and Google Play online stores. To find the free app, search "Navy Financial Literacy" in the app stores or in your Web browser.

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Operation Deep Freeze: Boots on Ice

MCMURDO STATION, Antarctica (NNS) -- After four long days of travel, Sailors from Navy Cargo Handling Battalion (NCHB) 1 arrived safely at the National Science Foundation's McMurdo Station in Antarctica, where they will be participating in Operation Deep Freeze 2017. The annual mission, which NCHB 1 has been participating in for more than 50 years, resupplies the U.S. Antarctic Program's largest base on the most remote continent. NSF manages the Antarctic Program. The Sailors are in high spirits and are glad to be participating in such a unique opportunity. "I'm thrilled to be here," said Chief Boatswain's Mate Mykel Stevens. "I'm one of the lucky few who have been here multiple times, but I'm so glad there are a lot of junior troops here who are getting to experience this rare opportunity." A rare opportunity it is, as cargo handlers are the Navy's only robust and recurrent presence on the Antarctic continent. The rareness of the opportunity is not lost on Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class Ryan Shultz, who said, "I'm just excited to see something that so few people have the opportunity have seeing." Prior to arriving in Antarctica, Sailors received extreme cold weather gear in Christchurch, New Zealand, to prepare for the mission. With the significant time change -- 18 hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time -- coupled with 24 hours of daylight create challenges for acclimatization. "It takes some time to adjust to the unique environment down here," said Lt. David Shayeson, detachment officer in charge. Sailors have been acclimating to the weather and harsh environmental conditions with physical training and team-building activities, allowing Sailors to settle into a routine and prepare for the start of cargo operations. One event included a climate acclimatization team hike, in which Sailors trekked over three miles on the Ridge Line trail overlooking the McMurdo Sound. Along the way, they stopped at memorial markers commemorating the lives of shipmates who lost their lives while working here in 1956 and 1982, in the promotion of scientific endeavors in the last frontier. With shipboard operations starting in a few days, NCHB 1 Sailors have been busy performing driver training, cargo accountability training, and lending assistance to the camp where needed. Additionally, Sailors have leveraged opportunities to listen to NSF's Albert P. Crary Science and Engineering Center lectures, which cover a broad range of scientific research initiatives here. "People are friendly to talk to and have a lot of interesting information to share about this continent," said Lt. Michael Crum, assistant officer in charge. McMurdo's open house program also provided Sailors the opportunity to visit and tour NASA's Ground Control Station and radome, which is a critical component for receiving and disseminating orbital satellite data. NCHB 1 deploys to NSF's McMurdo Station, where less than one percent of the world's population has ever visited, as part of Operation Deep Freeze the military's logistical support component of the U.S. Antarctic Program (USAP), the nation's research program on the southernmost continent.

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World War I: Restoring Poland

(The following guest post is by Ryan Moore, a cartographic specialist in the Geography and Map Division.)

Prior to World War I, Poland was a memory, and its territory was divided among the empires of Germany, Russia and Austro-Hungary; these powers along with France and Great Britain were wrestling for dominance of the continent, as illustrated in this serio-comic map. The Germans dominated the resource rich lands of Silesia, which were found on the then German eastern border and included cities such as Posen. Germany also controlled the Baltic coastline and the important port city of Danzig. Russia exercised jurisdiction over Warsaw and the eastern regions of historic Poland. Austro-Hungary occupied Galicia. The area contained the culturally important city of Lviv (Lemberg) and mines and oil fields found along the Carpathian Mountains. A 1912 Rand McNally map illustrates Europe without Poland.

Figure 1The start of World War I reignited Polish dreams of self-determination. Two years later, in 1916, the Polish cartographer, Eugeniusz Romer (1871-1954), illustrated the rise and fall of his country in this map, pictured left, titled "History." The map was part of his atlas known as the "Geographical and Statistical Atlas of Poland" that later helped shape Poland's independence in the Paris peace negotiations of 1919.

Romer produced his atlas in secret, as the authorities of Austro-Hungary, where he lived, reacted harshly to anything that might foment political unrest. Romer combed the archives of the Austrian government, researching census data and economic reports, which he used to craft 32 map plates replete with tables and textual accompaniment in Polish, French and German. His highly detailed depictions included geography, geology, climate, flora, history, political administration, population, ethnography, religious groups, education, land ownership, farming, natural resources and communication networks. The atlas was hailed as masterpiece.

The Germans and Austrians responded swiftly to stamp out this cartographic declaration of independence, and the publication was banned. Romer was forced into hiding to avoid arrest and prosecution. However, copies of the atlas were smuggled to the United Kingdom and the United States and reached policymakers. Upon the American entrance into the war in 1917, President Woodrow Wilson articulated the idea of a free Poland among the goals outlined in his Fourteen Points.

The defeat of Germany and Austro-Hungary, and the collapse of imperial Russia, ended the main barriers to Poland's independence. Poland's Prime Minister, the celebrated American concert pianist Ignacy Paderewski, along with Romer and other negotiating team members, believed their territory should stretch as far east as Lithuania and should subsume German-held territory in the west and along the Baltic Sea. To the exasperation of the Americans, British and French, the Poles made seemingly conflicting arguments for territory. In the cases of Silesia and the Baltic coast, they argued that the areas had a majority of Polish speakers and therefore should be Polish. Whereas, in the east, in the case of Galicia and modern-day Lithuania, the argued that historic Polish cultural institutions, such as universities and churches, proved that the land should belong to Poland despite Poles being the minority population.

President Wilson and his team were often sympathetic to the Poles; however, Wilson wanted a "scientific" solution and directed his team to draw borders based on the dominant language of the people in a given area, such as in this map found in the Woodrow Wilson papers. Great Britain, on the other hand, was deeply concerned about this approach. They feared Poland would appropriate too much of Germany's important natural resources and industry in the east. Britain wanted Germany left in a position to pay restitution for the war and to avoid a communist uprising, like the one in Russia.Figure 2

The solution was a compromise that was despised by the Poles and the Germans. The port of Danzig, with its majority German population, was placed under the administration of the League of Nations and placed into a binding customs union with Poland. The port was situated in a narrow strip of Polish territory known as the Polish Corrider. The land was dangerously sandwiched between Germany proper in the west and German East Prussia. Romer illustrated the problem in his map "Administration" (1921), pictured right. Angry about the diplomatic settlement in the west, Poland decided that force of arms was the means necessary to achieve its goals in the east. It mobilized an army and appropriated land that included the city of Vilnius and oil fields in eastern Galicia.

In 1919, the Second Polish Republic was born. The country, however, lacked the population and industrial might of its foreboding German and Russian neighbors. It was forced to count on Great Britain and France to provide military assistance. When the hour of need arrived, however, Poland was largely left to fight alone. In 1939, the Nazis overran Poland in weeks, showing the world a new form of warfare called blitzkrieg ("lighting war"). The Nazi's occupation lasted until 1944, when the Soviet army drove them back into Germany. The Soviets stayed in Poland until 1989. Today, Poland is a free republic and member of the NATO alliance. Its current borders are illustrated in this Central Intelligence Agency map.

World War I Centennial, 2017-2018: With the most comprehensive collection of multi-format World War I holdings in the nation, the Library of Congress is a unique resource for primary source materials, education plans, public programs and on-site visitor experiences about The Great War including exhibits, symposia and book talks.  

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Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Maritime Monday for January 23rd, 2017

Vintage Meccano Magazine front cover; Anything Goes England – Meccano was an English monthly hobby magazine published by Meccano Ltd between 1916 and 1963 and aimed at boys of all ages. Meccano is a model construction system created in Liverpool. More
Being moved by barge across Richardson Bay, Tiburon, California, December, 1957. (

Built in 1876, the house is listed on the National Register of Historic Places; now owned by the National Audubon Society. Found on Historical Times.

The crew of the offshore supply ship Malaviya Twenty detained at Great Yarmouth after the company that owns the ship failed to pay their wages. Photograph: Andy Hall for the Observer

UK – For seven months Saigal has been separated from his family in India, effectively imprisoned on a ship moored off the coast of Norfolk. A routine inspection of the offshore supply vessel Malaviya Twenty at Great Yarmouth last June found what unions describe as "modern-day slavery" – 15 Indian crew had not been paid for months while working in the oilfields of the North Sea.

Unwilling to desert the ship without getting paid, its crew have been left abandoned in the Norfolk port.   Keep reading on The Guardian

USCGC Mackinaw (WLBB-30) leading Phillip R. Clarke and Arthur M. Anderson in the St. Marys River / Munuscong Channel; the Munuscong Channel lies between Canada and the United States. The Mackinaw is turning at Johnson Point. Seen from Sailors Encampment, St. Joseph Island, Ontario. (posted by twurdemann)
Map of The Republic of the Gambia – Central Intelligence Agency; CIA World Factbook

On Thursday, troops from Senegal and allied West African nations crossed the border into the Gambia in support of the tiny country's newly elected president, after the current leader refused to cede power. (more on The Guardian)

According to an apocryphal story, British ships created the country's borders by shooting cannonballs off the sides of their ships.  Read on Atlas Obscura

New York Times – A ferry bringing back people who fled Gambia because of its political crisis arrived at the port in Banjul on Saturday. Credit Jerome Delay/Associated Press
Peek Frean Biscuits; Advertisment card showing the enamelled tin for Navy biscuits, c. 1890's
English Russia – Story of a Unique First and Only Soviet Touristic Submarine
Not far from the mouth of the river Tyne, fabulously-coloured nudibranchs and corals can be spotted amongst rusting sunken ships. Photograph: Richard Aspinall

What lies beneath: discovering surprising jewels in the North Sea

Fishermen's Terminal by quietseattle
The Vikings had "a long oral history going back centuries," says Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough. "It's very hard to separate the facts from the fiction."

National Geographic: How Much Viking Lore Is True?

In her new book, Beyond the Northlands: Viking Voyages and the Old Norse Sagas, historian Eleanor Rosamund Barraclough explores the world of the sagas, teasing fact from fiction to show that there was much more to the Norse peoples than rape, pillage, dragons, elves, and trolls.  Keep reading

Gaelic monks settled on empty northern islands—Orkney, Shetland—but it's also possible that they found their way to Iceland, where man-made caves, decorated with crosses, have convinced some archaeologists that there were settlers here before the Vikings.

The First Observations of Sea Ice Came From 8th-Century Irish Monks in Iceland

Black Ball Ferry M/V Coho – Guemes Channel. Pier One, Port of Anacortes. DCI Floating Drydock DD1. (photo by -jon)
CNN Video – Ghostly figures seen only from the ocean floor. Click image to play

This Underwater Art Museum Is An Ocean Lover's Dream

Europe's first underwater museum opens off Spain's Lanzarote island

Sculptures created by British artist Jason deCaires Taylor, underwater off the southern coast of Lanzarote. — "Sculptures are normally seen as static and monumental, while these are always living in the moment," Mr. Taylor said during a recent interview in his seaside studio. "The more texture the pieces have, the more they transform" –Photo by Raphael Minder for The New York Times 
Museo Atlántico will be inaugurated on 10 January as artist Jason deCaires Taylor completes his monumental underwater sculpture work, featuring more than 300 life-size human figures. Read more on The Guardian
Tidy Tackle
Tidy Tackle – Livorno Fishing harbour (photo by Tony Tomlin)

see also: Nest of nets – and – How does that work?

via SurferToday

What the First European to Visit Hawaii Thought About Surfers

Long before the Beach Boys encouraged an entire generation to catch a wave, Pacific Islanders were surfing—and explorer James Cook was one of the first Europeans to see it.

James Cook's voyages to through the Pacific are credited with "helping to guide generations of explorers, as well as with providing the first accurate map of the Pacific," claims His diaries and those of some crew members are still used by historians of the Pacific region, and his influence on Pacific history is felt up and down the coast. One little-known area of history that his crew members documented was surfing.

Keep reading on Smithsonian

Twins – posted by
Eivissa Nova, Ibiza, Balearic Islands, Spain (photo by ibzsierra)
On the Ferry; Museum of Found Photos – posted by VintageSmoke

___monkeysigMaritime Monday Archives

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GAO-17-197, Federal Health Care Center: VA and DOD Need to Develop Better Information to Monitor Operations and Improve Efficiency, January 23, 2017

What GAO Found

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Defense's (DOD) evaluation to determine whether the Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC) should continue operating as an integrated facility or revert to a "joint venture" included conducting both separate and joint reviews. As an integrated facility, the FHCC has a unified governance structure, workforce, and budget. As a joint venture, the departments would continue sharing medical facility space, but would manage their operations with separate governance structures, workforces, and budgets. VA and DOD's joint review team concluded that converting the FHCC to a joint venture was not advisable or achievable because the Navy hospital had been demolished and money to replace it was used to expand the VA facility. In addition, returning the civilian employees from VA's to DOD's personnel system would require complex negotiations that could result in job reclassifications and salary changes. As a result, officials recommended continuing the FHCC as an integrated facility with the implementation of specific recommended improvements with the caveat that no similar integration efforts be undertaken until they "get it right" at the FHCC.

In the report to Congress, VA and DOD outlined 17 recommended improvements for the FHCC but did not include time frames for implementing them. As GAO has previously reported, leading practices for planning call for results-oriented organizations to develop plans that provide tools to assure accountability, such as time frames and interim milestones that could be used to monitor progress, hold staff accountable for achieving desired results, and make mid-course corrections, if needed. Although officials routinely track each improvement through twice monthly meetings, and use a spreadsheet to monitor status and next steps, they have not specified time frames and interim milestones. Without this information, officials cannot ensure that they will implement the recommended improvements in a timely and efficient manner.

The letter that accompanied the report to Congress stated that the FHCC's costs were "very high" and not in keeping with the initial goal of delivering more cost-effective health care. VA and DOD officials told GAO that this statement was based on their contractor's evaluation of the facility, which found that the FHCC was not more cost-effective than a joint venture. Officials told GAO that their contractor's analyses used cost data that ended in fiscal year 2014, and since that time, the FHCC has made improvements they believe would positively impact cost savings. However, officials said that they did not have sufficient time for the contractor to update the analysis after receiving the contractor's report in September 2015, and that one additional year of data would not likely have changed their conclusions or recommendations. According to OMB's capital programming guide, at many key decision points, a cost-effectiveness analysis of operations would be useful to help make decisions. Without an updated cost-effectiveness analysis for the FHCC, officials will not have a baseline from which to measure and track the FHCC's future efficiency, including the effect of the recommended improvements, once implemented.

Why GAO Did This Study

The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2010 (NDAA 2010) authorized VA and DOD to establish a 5-year demonstration to integrate their medical facilities in North Chicago, Ill. The NDAA 2010 also required VA and DOD to submit a report of their evaluation of the demonstration and their recommendation as to whether it should continue operating as a fully integrated facility after 5 years. In July 2016, VA and DOD submitted a report to Congress recommending that the FHCC continue operating as an integrated facility.

The NDAA 2015 included a provision for GAO to assess VA and DOD's evaluation to Congress. In this report, GAO assesses VA and DOD's approach for evaluating the FHCC and making the determination to continue operating it as an integrated facility. To do this, GAO reviewed the report to Congress and relevant supporting documents, and interviewed officials about the evaluation. In analyzing the evaluation, GAO used as criteria its prior work on planning practices, evaluating physical infrastructure, and management consolidation initiatives, as well as the Office of Management and Budget's (OMB) capital programming guide.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that the Secretaries of VA and DOD collaborate to establish time frames and interim milestones for tracking the implementation of the jointly recommended improvements and to conduct a cost-effectiveness analysis for the FHCC. VA and DOD concurred with GAO's recommendations.

For more information, contact Debra A. Draper at (202) 512-7114 or

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