Thursday, April 13, 2017

Somali Forces Clash with Pirates, Free Indian Crew

Indian cargo dhow Al Kausar
File photo shows the Indian cargo dhow Al Kausar

ReutersBy Abdi Sheikh

MOGADISHU, April 12 (Reuters) – Somali security forces clashed with pirates early on Wednesday and freed nine seamen kidnapped on an Indian cargo ship this month, officials said.

The pirates seized the dhow Al Kausar off Somalia's coast, part of a surge of attacks after years without a reported incident.

The kidnappers took the crew onshore in central Galmudug state on Monday and clashed with troops two days later, the territory's minister for ports and sea transport, Burhan Warsame, said.

"We rescued the nine crew and they are healthy and safe," he added.

Hirsi Yusuf Barre, mayor of Galkayo town in the area, said the security forces attacked the gang after it tried to move the hostages into an area controlled by the militant group al Shabaab overnight.

"We sent forces to every corner and blocked all roads," the mayor said.

Isha Thaim, a member of the family in India that owns the cargo dhow, confirmed the reports of the crew being freed, adding they had not had any food for about three days.

"They will be shortly served with food by authorities. The crew will be taken to the port and after all formalities they will be taken to the vessel," Thaim told Reuters by phone from Gujarat.

Somali pirate attacks peaked with 237 in 2012 but then declined steeply after ship owners improved security measures and international naval forces stepped up patrols.

But this month has seen a new wave of attacks, with two ships captured and a third rescued by Indian and Chinese forces after the crew radioed for help and locked themselves in a safe room.

The Al Kausar pirates had said they were trying to force authorities to free some of their comrades imprisoned in India. (Additional reporting by Nidhi Verma in India; Writing by Duncan Miriri; Editing by Alison Williams)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

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For LCS; Patch, Bridge, Build

With the April 6, 2017 Congressional Research Service report, Navy Littoral Combat Ship on the street, it is time to do another LCS post.

Let's start on page 20 of the report and then wander from there. This summary that is always good to review;

The analytical foundation for an acquisition program can be strengthened by performing three formal, rigorous analyses prior to the start of the program: – an analysis to identify capability gaps and mission needs; – an analysis to compare potential general approaches for filling those capability gaps or mission needs, so as to identify the best or most promising approach; – an analysis to refine the approach selected as the best or most promising. …

As discussed in CRS reports covering the LCS program going back a decade, the Navy, prior to announcing the establishment of the LCS program on November 2001, performed the first and third studies listed above, but it did not perform the second.

Knowing this, when we restructured the program to move to FF/FFG from LCS, what did we learn?

The Navy's restructured plan for the frigate design may have a weakness in its analytical foundation due to two formal, rigorous analyses that do not appear to have been conducted prior to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel's announcement on February 24, 2014, of the effort to restructure the program. Specifically, neither the Office of the Secretary of Defense nor the Navy has presented – a formal, rigorous analysis to identify capability gaps and/or mission needs that was done prior to the Secretary of Defense Hagel's February 24, 2014, announcement, or

– a formal, rigorous analysis that identified "a capable and lethal small surface combatant, generally consistent with the capabilities of a frigate" as not simply one way, but rather the best or most promising way, to fill those capability gaps or mission needs that was done prior to the February 24, 2014, announcement.

Well, there you go.

In a way, I'm OK with this. The program has been intellectually loosey-goosey from the start through downselect to restructuring, so why change now? The important thing is to get to the end game; Sal's endgame is that we build what we have the best that we can to in order to build the fleet until we can get a better design displacing water. Use LCS as an object lesson, and get ready for the challenges mid-century.

Good_idea_fairyThe design team at Sow's Ear Naval Shipyards are busy throwing around different ideas for the SILK PURSE class of FF/FFG conversion of flagship of the Tiffany Navy the last few months. The latest update on some of the ideas being thrown around can be found in Chris Cavas's article from the 10th.

In general, the ideas are sound – try as one can to put some more teeth and tactical utility in to a sub-optimal ship. We are a few more iterations of the back and forth between the engineers and the good idea fairies, but hopefully we will have some discipline to have a firm timetable to make a decision and start cutting steel/aluminum.

The acting SECNAV has the longest acceptable timetable;

Both builders of the littoral combat ship — Lockheed Martin and Austal USA — have developed frigate variants of their LCS designs in anticipation of the Navy issuing a formal request for proposals, which had been expected in the fall. The switch from an FF to an FFG design would likely involve significant redesign of each company's frigate proposal, which could push back the RFP.

"I don't want to get pinned down on a date" to issue the RFP, Stackley said. "Obviously we want to get through the requirements first. But we want to get it out this fiscal year," which ends Sept. 30.

For reasons familiar to everyone following the LCS saga with us for the last decade+, we really have no option right now. The right call was to shift from LCS to FF/FFG, but for the long term answer to what our navy needs, one question has yet to be answered: what will replace the two classes of LCS in production now?

My bias is sooner more than later, and I think the best plan out there right now is within a half standard deviation of the proposal in February's CSBA report, Restoring American Seapower: A New Fleet Architecture for the United States Navy .

Here's the operative paragraph;

Small surface combatants. …

In the proposed architecture, the LCS/FF program would be truncated as soon as the design of a new FFG is ready to build. This would ideally be in FY19, but may be FY20 or FY21. The 4000- to 5000-ton FFG would be designed with the endurance to accompany the Maneuver Force or for convoy escort; an active and passive EW suite; an ASW suite including a VDS sonar and passive towed array; and a 16- to 32-cell VLS magazine with ESSM for medium range area air defense, long-range surface-to-surface missiles, and a standoff ASW weapon capable of quickly putting a submarine on the defensive more than 50 nm away.

Patrol vessels.

The proposed fleet architecture includes a new class of 600- to 700-ton patrol vessels patterned on fast missile craft such as the Egyptian Ambassador-class or Swedish Visby-class ships. They have an endurance of about 2 weeks and carry four to eight SUW/strike missiles. Patrol vessels would have sufficient air defense capacity to protect them against enemy attacks until they expend their offensive weapons. For peacetime operations, the patrol vessels would conduct maritime security operations using embarked small boats and CUSVs.

Sold. Sooner more than later. This is a good plan. There are others, but this is first among quasi-equals.

Our navy would be well served by such a plan.

UPDATE: Don't hate me because I am beautiful.

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North Korea preparing for nuclear test, satellite images suggest

North Korea appears to be preparing to conduct a nuclear test in a show of defiance towards Donald Trump, who has not ruled out military action to pressure the regime into abandoning its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

The US-based monitoring group 38 North said on Thursday that the satellite images from the North's Punggye-ri site showed it was "primed and ready" for would be the country's sixth nuclear test since 2006.

"Commercial satellite imagery of North Korea's Punggye-ri nuclear test site from April 12 shows continued activity around the North Portal, new activity in the Main Administrative Area, and a few personnel around the site's Command Center," 38 North said on its website.

"In the courtyards of the main administrative area are approximately 11 probable tarp-covered pallets of equipment or supplies, a formation of personnel, and several individuals walking about," the site added.

South Korean officials, however, played down speculation that a nuclear test was imminent. "There has been no unusual activity so far," Roh Jae-chun, a spokesman for the country's Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters, according to Yonhap news agency.

The possibility that North Korea's leader, Kim Jong-un, will again defy international opinion has strengthened since Pyongyang conducted a series of missile tests earlier this year, as it attempts to perfect a nuclear capability capable of striking the US mainland.

On Thursday, foreign journalists in North Korea said they had been told to prepare for a "big and important event", although it is unlikely that they would be shown around a facility as sensitive as a nuclear test site or missile base.

About 200 reporters, including those from Japan and the US, are in Pyongyang as the country prepares to mark the 105th birth anniversary of the birth of its founder, Kim Il-sung, on Saturday.

Some experts believe the regime is planning to conduct a missile launch or nuclear test to coincide with the anniversary, a hugely significant date in the North Korean calendar known locally as the Day of the Sun.

Journalists said that they had been woken before dawn and told to prepare for the trip, but were not given details of their destination. Previous events open to the foreign media have tended to be low-key, including a pop concert to mark the end of a ruling Korean Workers' party congress.

Their visit coincides with a significant rise in tensions after the US sent an aircraft carrier strike group towards the Korean peninsula in a move many believe is designed to warn the regime off conducting missile or nuclear tests.

The USS Carl Vinson and its strike group are currently sailing north from Singapore, and are reportedly planning to conduct drills with Japanese self-defence force vessels en route to the waters off the Korean peninsula.

"We are sending an armada. Very powerful," Trump said on Wednesday. "We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier." Japan's Nikkei business paper said on Thursday that the US had sent a "sniffer" plane to Japan to monitor any nuclear tests.

The aircraft, which has been used before to monitor North Korean rocket launches, has arrived on the southern Japanese island of Okinawa, the paper said, citing a Japanese self-defence force official.

A nuclear detonation would be the biggest test yet of Trump's more aggressive stance towards North Korea, coming soon after he warned that the US was prepared to address North Korea's nuclear threat without help from China, the North's biggest ally and economic partner.

Earlier this week Trump tweeted: "North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them! U.S.A."

In a phone conversation with Trump on Wednesday, China's president, Xi Jinping, repeated calls for a peaceful resolution to the nuclear issue.

"China remains committed to the goal of denuclearising the (Korean) peninsula, safeguarding peace and stability on the peninsula, and advocates resolving problems through peaceful means," the Chinese state broadcaster CCTV quoted Xi as saying.

Trump said on Twitter that he and Xi had enjoyed a "very good" conversation about the "menace of North Korea", and later praised China's decision to send coal ships back to the North as part of UN sanctions against the regime.

An editorial in the Global Times, a tabloid linked to the Chinese communist party, warned that the recent US airstrike on a Syrian airfield lent greater weight to Trump's warnings that Washington would respond to any North Korean provocation with or without Beijing's help.

"The Korean peninsula has never been so close to a military clash since the North conducted its first nuclear test in 2006," it said, adding that Pyongyang "should avoid making mistakes at this time".

The China Daily, however, adopted a more cautious tone. "The truth is that although the prospect of war may seem real, no party really wants a war," the newspaper said. "Many sources indicate Washington is increasing the pressure in the hope that Pyongyang will change course without a shot being fired. Otherwise, it would not have insisted that Beijing could and should help rein in Pyongyang."

The newspaper called on North Korea to refrain from conducting missile or nuclear tests at the weekend, and urged the US and South Korea to suspend joint military drills that Pyongyang regards as a dress rehearsal for an invasion.

Coupled with recent missile launches, a nuclear test could offer experts a better idea of how far North Korea is from being able to mount a miniaturised nuclear warhead on an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

On Thursday, Australia's defence industry minister, Christopher Pyne, said North Korea was developing a nuclear-armed missile capable of reaching Australia and the United States "within two years".

Pyne made the claim after the acting US ambassador to Australia, James Carouso, said in an interview with the Australian that there was "extreme concern" that North Korea will be able to strike the west coast of the US and Australia with nuclear missiles within that timeframe.

The source of Carouso's claim wasn't clear, but many experts believe it will take North Korea several years to perfect an ICBM capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

Additional reporting by Tom Phillips in Beijing

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“Money is temporary but sorrow continues for 200 years,” say citizens against new base construction in Henoko

Citizens are trying to prevent construction vehicles from entering and exiting Camp Schwab at 11:40 a.m. on April 10, in Henoko, Nago.

April 10, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On the morning of April 10, the Okinawa Defense Bureau (ODB) conducted maritime work towards construction of a new U.S. base in Henoko, Nago, which is part of the plan to move the U.S. Marine Corp Air Station Futenma in Ginowan.

In front of the gate of Camp Schwab, about 50 people staged a sit-in protest to block materials for the construction from being brought into the base.

One of them held a placard reading: "Money is temporary but sorrow continues for 200 years," while another holding a newspaper article on the U.S. missile attacks against Syria protested in English: "Why does the United States destroy other countries?"

At 9:00 a.m., the riot police forcibly removed sit-in protesters as vehicles carrying construction materials arrived at Camp Schwab.

About 30 vehicles, including dump trucks carrying crushed stones and sediments and concrete mixer trucks, entered the base.

At 11 a.m., the scene was chaotic for a while with protestors gathering in front of the gate to block the construction vehicles and U.S. military vehicles.

At sea, as of 10:00 a.m., work on spreading floats towards Sedake beach was confirmed to have taken place. Following this work, the ODB will likely install pollution prevention membranes.

(English translation by T&CT)

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Report submitted to UN requesting return of Ryukyuan remains

April 7, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

On April 6, the Association of Comprehensive Studies for Independence of the Lew Chewans (ACSILs) disclosed that they had submitted to the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights a report requesting that Japanese researchers return the remains of the Ryukyuans they brought out of Mumujana grave in Nakijin Village. The ACSILs claims that the researchers infringed on "the right to conduct traditional rituals" of Indigenous Peoples.

The ACSILs also requested a return of original documents of the Amity Treaties created by the Ryukyu Kingdom with the United States, France, and the Netherlands from 1854 to 1859. These documents have been in the possession of the Japanese government. The ACSILs aims to have the issue judged at the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of the Japanese government by the UN Human Rights Council in November.

The report is dated March 22. Referring to the annexation of the Ryukyus, known as "the Ryukyu Disposal" in 1879, the report pointed out that the Ryukyu islands have been "the subject of discrimination, exploitation, and control." The ACSILs describe the Ryukyu independence movement as "the movement to restore the sovereignty of the Ryukyu peoples' nation" and urge the Japanese government "to start demilitarization and decolonization."

Regarding the taking of Ryukyuan remains, the report claims that it is in violation of Article 12 of the Declaration of the UN on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (the right to conduct traditional ceremonies). The report called for a full investigation by the government and the return of remains.

As for the original treaty documents being kept by the Japanese government, the ACSILs claims it violates the UN Declaration and Liberty Rules, and requests they be immediately returned to Okinawa prefecture.

In addition to that, the report stressed that riot police officials called Okinawan citizens protesting US military helipad construction in the Northern Training Area "barbarians". The report is published online at ACSILs website.

The Okinawa International Human Rights Study Group also submitted four reports to UPR on March 30.

(English translation by T&CT and Megumi Chibana)  

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114 noise complaints filed to US military in Higashi

March 23, 2017 Ryukyu Shimpo

At the Higashi village representative council's regular meeting, it was announced that noise complaints filed against US military aircrafts went up to 114 cases between April 1, 2016 to March 14, 2017. This is twice the number of complaints in the previous year. Higashi village mayor, Morihisa Iju, revealed the figures in response to an inquiry from Shinji Isa during the meeting.

According to the village, there were 68 noise complaints filed regarding the MV-22 Osprey, and 46 complaints were raised for other types of US military aircrafts. That is double the number of complaints made in each category in 2015. The complaints were mainly made in the Takae district where a helicopter landing area is located. Mayor Iju said, "the helipad is relatively close to residential areas. I will demand the key parties ensure the living environment for villagers is not changed drastically."

(English translation by T&CT and Sayaka Sakuma) 

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This Week in Military Justice – April 9, 2017

This week at SCOTUS: I'm not aware of any military justice developments at the Supreme Court, where I'm tracking three cases:

This week at CAAF: The next scheduled oral arguments at CAAF are on April 25, 2017.

This week at the ACCA: The Army CCA's website shows no scheduled oral arguments. However, I'm aware of one oral argument scheduled for Wednesday, April 12, 2017, at 10 a.m.:

United States v. Kelly, No. 20150725

I. Whether the military judge improperly instructed the members on the offense of abusive sexual contact by omitting the standard instructions on the prosecution's burden and shifting the burden to the defense to prove appellant's innocence.

II. Whether the military judge improperly instructed the members on the offense of sexual assault by omitting the standard instructions on the prosecution's burden and shifting the burden to the defense to prove appellant's innocence.

[III]. Whether the defense request for a mistrial should have been granted.

[IV]. Whether it was ineffective assistance of counsel for defense counsel to waive the causal challenge of the senior member by failing to use the defense peremptory challenge.

Disclosure: I represent the appellant in my civilian capacity. 

This week at the AFCCA: The next scheduled oral argument at the Air Force CCA is on April 18, 2017.

This week at the CGCCA: The Coast Guard CCA's oral argument schedule shows no scheduled oral arguments.

This week at the NMCCA: The next scheduled oral argument at the Navy-Marine Corps CCA is on May 2, 2017.

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Chief of Naval Operations Tours Newest Oceanographic Survey Ship

MOSS POINT, Miss. (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. John Richardson toured the Navy's newest oceanographic survey ship, USNS Maury (T-AGS 66), April 8 to gain a better understanding of the oceanographic information the ship provides to the Department of Defense. The CNO is the senior military officer of the Department of the Navy and is responsible for the command, utilization of resources and operating efficiency of the Navy. "Naval forces require information about the physical environment to operate safely and effectively," said Rear Adm. Tim Gallaudet, oceanographer of the Navy and commander of the Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command. "Our oceanographic survey ships are key contributors of this information that ensures the U.S. Navy maintains advantage against our competitors." The importance of the information about the ocean environment collected by oceanographic survey ships like USNS Maury was recognized by Richardson last month when he established Task Force Ocean. Gallaudet and Chief of Naval Research, Rear Adm. David Hahn co-chair an executive steering committee for Task Force Ocean comprised of senior leadership representatives from U.S. Fleet Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet, the U.S. Naval Academy and Naval Postgraduate School. The task force will develop a five-year roadmap designed to accelerate ocean science that supports the Navy's mission. Richardson was interested in how USNS Maury will enhance the work of Task Force Ocean by helping us learn more about the ocean, including hydrographic surveys of uncharted regions and advancing our understanding of how the ocean water column, sea surface and seafloor advance underwater acoustic system performance. "Advancing the capabilities that USNS Maury and her crew represent is the reason we've stood up Task Force Ocean," Richardson said. During the tour provided by Gallaudet and crew members of the USNS Maury, Richardson was able to gain first-hand insight into how the ship's crew performs acoustic, biological, physical and geophysical surveys. The ship is the first of a new class of survey vessels better equipped to support unmanned systems survey operations, and includes a moon pool used for launch and recovery of the systems. Richardson was particularly interested in Naval Oceanography's innovation in advancing oceanography - for platforms and sensors, as well as the moon pool and the array of unmanned systems used (including unmanned underwater vehicles, autonomous underwater vehicles, drifting buoys, profiling floats and moored GPS buoys). Richardson's tour included the moon pool bay, and static displays of unmanned systems and data processing systems. He also visited the bridge, staterooms and a lifeboat. Richardson concluded the visit by presenting a plaque to the ship's master and thanking the crew for hosting him on the weekend. The Office of the Oceanographer of the Navy is the CNO's resource, requirements and policy adviser for the Navy's oceanography program. The oceanographer also serves as the Navy's senior policy adviser for issues related to national ocean policy, governance and interagency ocean activities. Commander, Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command directs and oversees more than 2,500 globally-distributed military and civilian personnel who collect, process and exploit environmental information to assist Fleet and Joint Commanders in all warfare areas to make better decisions faster than the adversary.

For more information about Task Force Ocean, click HERE

For more information, visit,, or

For more news from Naval Meteorology and Oceanography Command, visit

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Cook and Banks: Charting the rumoured great southern land


The Australian National Maritime Museum and Royal Botanical Gardens Sydney will offering a joint video conference for year 3 and 4 students History and Science.

Cook and Banks: Charting the rumoured great Southern Land is a free video conference which will outline Cook and Banks voyage on the HMB Endeavour. It will be presented by our curator Kieran Hosty and Mary Bell from Royal Botantical Gardens Sydney.

The video conference will investigate the story behind Cook and Banks' voyage to the rumoured great Southern Land and include topics such as:

  • The reason behind the momentous voyage.
  • The voyage and conditions on board the HMB Endeavour.
  • Cook's role as a cartographer and navigator.
  • Banks' scientific contribution to the voyage and how his legacy began the Royal Botanic Gardens' Herbarium collection.
  • Learn how scientists classify plants and try your hand at botanic illustration.
  • The enduring outcome of the voyage and how it changed Australian history.
  • What happened the HMB Endeavour?

We will be offering six sessions of the Cook and Banks virtual excursion. The sessions will be offered on DART connections 3rd and 4th May at 10.00am, 11.30am and 2.00pm

— Anne Doran, Education Officer. 

Find out more about our education programs on our website.

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Pic of the Week: Echoes of the Great War

Visitors tour the "Echoes of the Great War" exhibition during a reception prior to the grand opening, March 28, 2017. Photo by Shawn Miller.
A member of the U.S. Army Band tours "Echoes of the Great War." Photo by Shawn Miller.
The Library of Congress opened a major new exhibition, "Echoes of the Great War: American Experiences of World War I," on April 4.
The exhibition examines the upheaval of world war as Americans confronted it both at home and abroad. It considers the debates and struggles that surrounded U.S. engagement; explores U.S. military and home-front mobilization and the immensity of industrialized warfare; and touches on the war's effects as an international peace settlement was negotiated, national borders were redrawn, and soldiers returned to reintegrate into American society.
The exhibition will be on view in the Southwest Gallery of the Library's Thomas Jefferson Building through January 2019. To view the related online exhibition, click here.

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GAO-17-239, Nuclear Security: DOE Could Improve Aspects of Nuclear Security Reporting, April 11, 2017

What GAO Found

The Department of Energy's (DOE) and the National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) annual reports for 2014 and 2015 on the security of nuclear facilities holding special nuclear material did not fully meet the definition of quality information under the federal internal control standards. These standards define quality information as appropriate, current, complete, accurate, accessible, and provided on a timely basis. GAO found that, in general, while the reports were based on current information and were accessible to Congress, they did not fully meet quality information standards because the reports:

  • did not always contain complete information on the assessments used to support the agencies' certifications that sites are secure and
  • were not provided to Congress in a timely manner.

For example, DOE's 2015 annual security report did not mention whether an important assessment was conducted at two of its four sites or include information regarding the date or outcome of the assessment at three of its four sites. NNSA's 2015 annual security report noted its sites conducted these assessments; however, it did not provide information regarding the date or outcome at one site. Without complete information on the assessments used to determine each site's overall security assessment, it was not always possible to determine the basis for the site security certification solely using the information contained in the reports. In addition, GAO found that DOE's and NNSA's annual 2014 and 2015 security reports were issued several months late. DOE officials told GAO the delay was partly due to the lengthy internal review process. DOE and NNSA stated that they would promptly report any serious security issues to Congress using means other than the annual security reports. When the reports are issued late, however, Congress may not routinely receive timely notice of issues so that it can take actions to improve sites' security.

GAO's review of the annual security status reports and interviews with agency officials indicated that DOE and NNSA share significant challenges that could affect their ability to maintain physical security at sites and certify them as secure. For example, security infrastructure, such as fences, alarms, and sensors, at many DOE and NNSA facilities is outdated and requires extensive maintenance to ensure proper functioning. NNSA is developing a physical security infrastructure plan to be issued in spring 2017, but DOE has not fully developed plans or estimated costs to address its needs. Additionally, DOE has not fully implemented a June 2011 order, which could result in some nuclear materials requiring additional security. GAO found that even though the order called for implementation plans within 6 months of its issuance, one DOE site, with the approval of the Deputy Secretary of Energy, will not have an implementation plan until 2018. Based on GAO's review and the comments of agency officials, neither the 2014 and 2015 security reports provided comprehensive risk and potential vulnerability information to Congress nor had these issues been communicated through other means.

Why GAO Did This Study

DOE and NNSA operate sites with facilities holding special nuclear material that can be used to make nuclear weapons. The National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 requires the Secretary of Energy to submit to congressional committees a report detailing the status of security at sites holding key quantities of special nuclear material, along with a certification that the sites meet DOE's security standards and requirements by December 1 of each year. The law requires DOE's reports to include a similar report from NNSA. A report accompanying the legislation included a provision for GAO to evaluate these efforts. This report examines (1) the extent to which these DOE and NNSA reports meet the definition of quality information under federal internal control standards, and (2) any significant physical security challenges at sites that the reports or agency officials identified and the extent to which the agencies have addressed them. GAO reviewed the 2014 and 2015 reports and interviewed agency officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that DOE include more complete information in the reports, better align the review process and mandated deadlines, plan for infrastructure needs, and inform Congress of the reason for delays in implementing its June 2011 order and any identified vulnerabilities. DOE raised concerns with the first recommendation, generally agreed with the second and the third, and stated it had already implemented the fourth. In response, GAO modified the first recommendation and will assess DOE's implementation of the fourth.

For more information, contact Shelby S. Oakley at (202) 512-3841 or

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British Cavalry Help Capture Monchy-le-Preux – 11 April 1917

By Stephen Barker @ Oxford University's World War I Centenary Website

Monchy-le-Preux was one of the keys to the northern end of the Hindenburg Line, giving the Germans ideal observation over any advance from the British trenches in front of Arras five miles away. Third Army's commander, General Sir Edmund Allenby, ordered the capture of the village and surrounding high ground, as objectives for the first day of the offensive—9 April. In the eventuality that VI Corps infantry broke through the "Green Line" just east of Monchy, Allenby ordered the Cavalry Corps, in conjunction with the infantry, to exploit the gains further, a distance of eight miles in total toward Cambrai.  However, he made it clear that the cavalry was not to be used unless the infantry achieved their first day objectives.

This is important, reflecting Sir Douglas Haig's order that cavalry be ready to deliver significant advances, yet also be handled carefully. Seemingly contradictory—any such unprecedented breakthrough would inevitably lead to heavy casualties—it also revealed the fundamental tension between those senior officers who believed that a comprehensive "breakthrough" with cavalry was yet possible and those who subscribed to a "bite and hold" doctrine. Yet Haig had recognized the limitations of the use of cavalry early in 1916, when a revision of the existing prewar policy was undertaken. This stressed the value of close cooperation between cavalry and other arms, its ability to perform attacking and defensive duties and to operate in both mounted and dismounted roles.

British Cavalry and a Mark I Tank During the Arras Battle. Image Is Author's Own.

Cavalry was viewed increasingly as one of several mobile elements, including tanks, armored cars, aeroplanes, and bicycle-mounted troops, working with the infantry. If a breakthrough of the enemy line was not possible, horsemen were expected to use their mobility and dismounted firepower to enable the infantry to establish and broaden gaps at critical times in the battle. They were to be capable of an effectual dismounted role, sophisticated fire, and movement tactics, including the taking and holding of ground using speed and mobility.

In the context of trench warfare, the first day at Arras was a success, with ground up to a depth of three-and-a-half miles taken, but the gains fell short of Monchy-le-Preux. Its capture was planned again for the morning of 11 April, when four regiments from 3rd Cavalry Division supported the infantry attack. 3rd Dragoon Guards reached the Monchy-La Bergère road south of the village. Here they dismounted and took up firing positions with their Hotchkiss machine guns, joining up a defensive line between 111 and 112 Infantry Brigades. They endured heavy artillery fire and were strafed by low-flying aircraft, fighting as infantry to repel potential counterattacks.

North of the village, Essex Yeomanry and 10th Hussars, supported by the Royal Horse Guards, galloped eastward, looking to exploit any breakthrough. Meeting machine gun fire, they veered into its streets, as ordered, and then ventured out once more to escape shelling this time, only to be driven back. The arrival of the cavalry in the village enabled the struggling infantry to establish a defensive firing line. By deepening shell holes, deploying machine guns, and establishing two dressing stations, the dismounted cavalry stiffened the infantry's resolve. They provided rapid reinforcements, leadership, and organizational proficiency at a crucial time, before the arrival of tanks and infantry secured the village.  Six hundred cavalrymen were casualties, and many more horses died. The animals were tethered in the open, as their riders took cover, while attempts to take them to the rear during a box barrage only increased the killing.

Monchy Has Two Memorials to Infantry Units That Helped Capture the Village in 1917:The Newfoundland Regiment on the Left and the 37th Division on the Right.

No Mention Is Given to the Cavalry Units Discussed in This Article

Today, the apparent folly of employing horses during the Great War belies that fact that cavalry were the only mobile force capable of exploiting any breakthrough in the trench stalemate. For Allied commanders searching for ways to return to "open warfare" and to liberate French soil, there was no alternative—fast, dependable tanks were not yet available. Yet at Arras, although the possibility of a decisive breakthrough was planned for, so too was it acknowledged by GHQ that the task of the mounted arm had changed.

Source:   'War Horse' at Monchy-le-Preux – 11 April 1917 (  

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Heroes or Traitors Reviewed by James M. Gallen

Heroes or Traitors: Experiences of Southern Irish Soldiers Returning from 
The Great War, 1919–1939

by Paul Taylor

Liverpool University Press, 2015

The guns are silent, the grand review is concluded, the politicians are creating the new world order, and the soldiers return home. Things are different. They are not the same men who marched away. While war has changed them, it has also changed the homes to which they returned seeking to pick up life where they left off. Among none of the nations that were on the winning side during the Great War was the change as profound as it was in Ireland. In 1914 they answered the call in a part of the United Kingdom, but in 1919 they returned to a country seething with rebellion and soon to be one of the new nations to be born out of the cataclysm. How were they to be viewed? As heroes who fought bravely for the kingdom of which their island had been a part for 800 years and that small nations might be free, or as traitors who enabled the imperial power to maintain its grip on their homeland? Those are the start of the questions that author Paul Taylor wants to answer.
The Irish Peace Tower at Messines, Ypres Salient
On 7 June 1917 the Mostly Northern Manned 36th Division Went Over the Top Side-by-Side with the 16th Division Recruited Mostly from Southern Ireland in the Battle of Messines
Taylor begins with an introduction that seeks to untangle the web of myth and history that is, inevitably, written by the victors. As President Mary McAleese noted in a 1985 commemoration, "Those whom we commemorate here were doubly tragic. They fell victim to a war against oppression in Europe. Their memory fell victim to a war for independence in Ireland." (p.4) Taylor shows that Ireland was not as united as Republican tradition would have us believe, nor were the Irish who flocked to the colors as loyal to king and country as some would suppose. Nationalism was stronger in the west, with its dairy industry serving the domestic market, and Unionism more prevalent in the east, where farmers depended on the export market in England. The author then moves on to examine several facets of the relationships between the returning Irish soldiers and their neighbors. His method relies heavily on statistical analysis and interviews of participants. He examines records of violence and intimidation against ex-servicemen and asks whether they were targeted because of their past service. He cites many examples of men killed or driven into exile by irregulars. Yet men of military experience were of value to both sides in the War of Independence (1919–1921) and the subsequent Civil War (1922–1923). Some offered their skills to the freedom fighters or the Pro-Treaty or Anti-Treaty forces, while others were threatened or executed for suspected espionage. Watch the names carefully; you might find a relative, as I probably did. Britain, like other belligerents, provided benefits to some of its veterans, including pensions and housing. This placed the Crown in the unusual position of providing pensions and owning houses in a land from which it drew soldiers but which was no longer a member of its country. The expectations of the veterans, the generosity of the Crown and the attitude of the Irish government all contributed to a muddled state of affairs. A few got pensions, and a limited amount of housing was constructed which, while benefiting Ireland economically, was an irritant to its government. When a veteran died should his widow be allowed to stay, or should she be moved out to provide housing for another veteran? Different answers were proposed to that question. In the final part of the book the author considers the rivalries within society: between those who fought for the Crown in the Great War and later either joined the rebellion, supported the government, or tried to stay out completely, and those who claimed veterans' preferences for having served in various Irish military or para-military units and claimed abstinence from the Great War as a virtue. Heroes or traitors resonated with my interests in Irish and Great War history. At times I found the author to be more statistical and anecdotal in his presentation than I am used to, but overall this is an excellent read for anyone interested in the lingering echoes of the Great War and its wake.

James M. Gallen

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A Forgotten Wartime Musical Favorite: I Am Coming Back to Kansas

Contributed by James Patton
When I have time to dream about you,
Pleasant mem'ries I'll recall,
For I've lived in many places,
But you're dearest of them all.
I can see the rolling prairies
And can breathe the fragrant air,
And Kansas-land shall be my home
When I get thro' over there. Chorus:

I am coming back to Kansas,

Tho' I am so far away,
There is no place so grand,
It's the fairy land, Of the whole world, I say.
But when duty calls I'll follow,
Follow all the way;
Glad to fight for Uncle Sam with all my might,
But I'll come back some day.

Click Here to Play Music

The same old moon I see a-shining,

And he makes me think of you,
For he heard that lass in Kansas
As she promised to be true.
So while birds are sweetly singing
And the sunflow'rs fringe the way,
And wedding bells have rung for us,
I'll be there to always stay. Chorus:

I am coming back to Kansas,

Tho' I am so far away,
There is no place so grand,
It's the fairy land, Of the whole world, I say.
But when duty calls I'll follow,
Follow all the way;
Glad to fight for Uncle Sam with all my might,
But I'll come back some day. "I Am Coming Back to Kansas" was composed and published on 31 August 1918 by Nellie Blanche Smirl (24/11/1889–3/11/1986),also Mrs. Clarence G. Smirl, a 28-year-old homemaker with a six-year- old daughter named Mildred, who lived in the small central Kansas city of Ellsworth in the county of the same name.

There is no record of any other music published by Nellie Blanche during her long life. Although all census records available describe her as a housewife, in 1940 she stated that she had income of $200 per year, which was not small change in an era when the minimum wage was 30 cents an hour. Her obituary in the Wichita Eagle described her as a "retired teacher." She has an entry in the Social Security Death Index, so at some point in time after 1935 she registered, presumably because she got a job. Another detail from her obituary is that she parented a niece and a nephew, the children of a sister.

Nellie Blanche may have been motivated to write her work to honor the service of her brother-in-law, Harry L. Smirl (1893–1978), who survived the war and died in Los Angeles.

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At Arras: The Short Life of the Iron Duke

This week we will be featuring several articles on the the Centennial of the Battle of Arras.  We begin with a well-known photo from the battle.

This classic photo from the Imperial War Museum shows British Mark II Tank  #781,  aka the "Iron Duke," rolling through the city of Arras 100 years ago tomorrow, 10 April 1917 on its way to the battlefield.  Originally assigned to Tank Battalion C, the Iron Duke was temporarily  ditched for some reason prior to the start of of the Battle of Arras. Possibly this is why it was still in the city when the battle was raging just to the east. It was returned to action eventually but was destroyed by enemy fire on 20 April near the present day site of Feuchy Chapel Commonwealth Cemetery.  There is no record of its commander,  2Lt Street, or any of the crew killed or wounded that day.

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Centennial News: U.S. Commemoration Big Success in Kansas City

After streaming the entire Centennial Commemoration of the U.S. Entry into World War I held 6 April in Kansas City, I really regret being unable to attend in person. The program was wonderful in content and epic in scale.  My congratulations to the WWI Commission, the National WWI Museum and Memorial, the Pritzker Museum, and all the other organizations, participants, and volunteers who pulled this off. Helping make the day especially dramatic was the wonderful weather provided courtesy of Kansas City mayor Sly James, who took credit for it during his talk. (I, of course, believe we should take His Honor at his word.)

Below are some images that I hope capture the ceremony with a few of my own impressions. However, you can view the entire event on either YouTube, or at the Commission's site

Next week I will be publishing another article on the local and regional commemoration held on 6 April 2017.  If you have photos and some descriptions of your event please send them to me:
The Venue at Dawn, 6 April 2017
The Big Screens Would Prove to Be Very Effective in Showing Footage from the War (Extremely Well Done by the War) and Views of the Speakers and Performers
Doughboys of the 1st Division Supported the Event
The View from the Audience
Congressman Emanuel Cleaver of Missouri at the Podium

Congressman Cleaver and All His Fellow Elected Officials Were on Message, Well Informed About the War, and Often Moving and Inspiring
A Young Doughboy Views the Event

WWI Commission Chairman Col. Robert Dalessandro Strongly Made the Case for
a National World War One Memorial in Washington, DC
Flyover by France's Patrouille de France, Later a USAF B-2 Bomber Flew Over the Crowd

Family Members of Notable WWI Veterans (L-R) George Patton, Noble Sissle,
Alvin York, and John J. Pershing
Helen Patton (the General's Granddaughter Here at the Podium) Provided My Personal Favorite Moment of the Event When She Sang Lt. Hunter Wickersham's Poem,
 "The Raindrops on My Old Tin Hat" for the crowd.
The Closing Salute, Fittingly,  Was Fired by a Battery from the 129th Field Artillery,
Which Was Capt. Harry Truman's Unit in the Great War

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America's Road to War: The First Big Decisions

By Professor Michael McCarthy,  Marshall University

The day after President Wilson signed the war resolution the United States found itself unmindful of and ill-prepared for the degree of involvement which its participation would require. Fundamental strategic questions—such as whether to send an army to Europe, and if so when and where to deploy it to support national goals—remained unanswered until after the Congress granted Wilson's request for a declaration of war on Imperial Germany.

The decision for war itself answered only the first half of a two-part question. The nation now had to decide how to fight. The thought of committing an army to the Continent was revolting to some American politicians. Three strategic decisions had to be made very quickly: The Nature of American Participation in the War,  How to Raise an Army, and Where to Fight.

What to Do?

Both Great  Britain and France had ideas on this and quickly dispatched military missions to the States. On 27 April France's visiting Field Marshal Joffre met with Secretary of War Newton Baker, Army Chief of Staff Hugh Scott and Assistant Chief of Staff, General Tasker Bliss.  The Frenchman repeated his appeal for "men, men, men" and requested that an American division be sent to Europe at once. His suggestion would not receive an endorsement. General Bliss stated their position that to immediately dispatch an untrained force would result in the butchering of untrained American recruits. The military's position was clear: the immediate dispatch of an expeditionary force to Europe would not, in their opinion, be in the best interest of the American war effort. 

Just such an expeditionary force, however, departed in June 1917 under the command of General John J. Pershing. The British and French missions seem to have persuaded Wilson, and during the resident's four o'clock private meeting with the French field marshal on 2 May he had "allowed General Joffre to take it for granted that such a force would be sent just as soon as we could send it." In his 65-minute audience with Wilson, the French commander successfully elicited what the American military planners had opposed so passionately ever since war had appeared likely.

How to Raise the Expeditionary Force?
Immediately after America entered the war, the problem of raising manpower was addressed at the urging of Army chief of staff Hugh Scott. Conscription would be needed. The president gave his assent, and Army provost marshal Enoch Crowder drew up a bill that met with intense but narrowly based opposition. On 18 May, Mr. Wilson signed the Selective Service Act which, after some expansion in 1918, would draft 2.7 million recruits to supplement the enlistments in the regular services and National Guard.

What to Do With the Expeditionary Force?

The decision to send an immediate expeditionary force to France did not complete American strategic planning. While the United States had committed itself to a military role, the exact nature of the nation's involvement remained to be shrouded in fog as dense as that which surrounded General Pershing* and his staff as they departed New York Harbor for Europe in late May 1917. 

Of immediate concern was the speed with which American troops would follow the First Division across the Atlantic: would the bulk of the American army remain in North America to complete its training or would the United States begin shipping more soldiers immediately? In addition, during the few months after the initial expeditionary force was dispatched to France, some prominent Americans—even Wilson himself—questioned the wisdom of fighting on the Western Front. Almost three years of relentless fighting there had left the terrain scarred with trenches and graves, yet had yielded little gain for either side. An alternative was sought. Western Front early in their war planning. Baker himself recalled years after the war that "General Pershing, General Scott, General Bliss and I had agreed that the war would have to be won on the Western Front at the time General Pershing started overseas. At one of our conferences before he left we discussed some of the sideshows and decided that they were all useless..."In spite of the sound, strategic rationale for this decision, the General Staff would be forced to explain its reasoning repeatedly throughout the remainder of the year.  

A total of 4,734,991 Americans would serve in the armed forces in the First World War. This would have supported an expeditionary force of 80 of these extra-large divisions in Europe. However, with the help of the AEF, with only half of the planned divisions in theater, the war was brought to a decisive conclusion on the Western Front faster than anyone had dreamt possible in 1917.  Those  planners, however, would have been shocked to hear that American troops would also be deployed to Italy,  Northern Russia,and Siberia as well before all the guns became silent.

*The decision to select General Pershing will be discussed in later postings on Roads to the Great War.

Professor McCarthy's article first appeared in slightly different form in the May 2007 issue of Over the Top magazine.

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Centennial Anniversary of WWI Battle of Vimy Ridge

As the largest dominion in the British Empire, Canada entered the war when Britain declared war on Germany and her allies on August 4, 1914. Over the course of the next four years, Canada raised more than 600,000 men and women for service with the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF).

vimy ridge1

The CEF was a citizen army. A large majority volunteered their services, others were conscripted in 1917-1918, and of all those in the CEF, only a small number had any real military experience before joining the colours.

The reputation of the CEF as a fearless and tenacious fighting force was earned in a number of significant battles, including 2nd Ypres (April 1915) the Somme (September-November 1916), Vimy Ridge (April 1917), Passchendaele (October-November 1917), Amiens (August 1918), and the last 100 days of the war (August-November 1918).

Vimy Ridge, April 9-12, 1917

The Canadian assault on Vimy Ridge was one objective in a much larger offensive known as the Battle of Arras. The ridge, with a commanding view of the surrounding countryside, had been held by the enemy since 1915 and repeated attempts by both British and French troops had been repulsed at great cost.

The Canadians arrived on the Vimy front in early 1917 and ambitious plans were soon laid down for a Canadian attempt to dislodge the Germans from the ridge. It marked the first time that all four divisions of the Canadian Corps were brought together in one offensive action.

Following a massive artillery bombardment of German positions for 2 weeks, the Canadians attacked the ridge on the morning of April 9 and over the course of the next four days, they pushed the Germans off the ridge, captured more than 4,000 enemy soldiers, and secured the heights. As a result of their actions, four Canadians were awarded the Victoria Cross, the Empire's highest honour for bravery.

Where others had failed, the Canadians succeeded. It was an incredible victory. Taking the ridge came with a terrible human cost. The Canadians suffered more than 10,000 casualties, including 3,598 killed and 7,004 wounded. Most of the casualties were sustained on the first day of fighting, making April 9, 1917 one of the bloodiest days in Canadian military history.

The Vimy Memorial

In the early 1920s, Vimy Ridge was chosen as the location for Canada's national war memorial. It took fifteen years to erect the memorial on Hill 145 where some of the toughest fighting for the ridge had taken place.

The memorial is Canada's national war memorial to celebrate the country's contribution to WWI and the Allied victory, and also commemorates all those who died in France during the war—11,285 in number—with no known grave. Their names are inscribed on the monument's base as a perpetual memorial to these soldiers.

Since the memorial was unveiled in July 1936, it has become an iconic symbol of Canada's greatest victory in the war and a rallying point of remembrance and recognition of the sacrifice made by an entire generation of Canadians.

Do you have a Vimy hero?  Search our database of those Killed in Action at Vimy Ridge.

Search our entire collection of Canadian World War I-related records which includes:

WWI CEF Personnel Files, 1914-1918

Complete service records consisting of 20-30 page s are available for all those men and women who served in the CEF to the letter "M." The files are being digitized by Library and Archives Canada (LAC) in alphabetical order and should be completed in 2018.


Soldiers of the First World War, 1914-1918

This collection includes the sign up/attestation papers for all men and women who volunteered to serve with the CEF as well as those who were drafted in 1917-1918. The document includes personal information, a physical description, the soldier's service number and the unit he first joined. Officers, including nurses, do not have service numbers.


Military Honours and Awards Citation Cards, 1900-1961

This collection contains all First World War honours and awards for bravery and gallantry, including the Victoria Cross, Distinguished Service Order, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Military Cross, the Military Medal, foreign awards to Canadians, and more.  In most cases, detailed citations are included.


War Graves Registers (Circumstances of Casualty), 1914-1948

Approximately 60,000 Canadians died in the First World War from all causes. The records in this database document, where possible, the circumstances that led to the casualty, including those who died on the Western Front (France and Belgium), in the United Kingdom, at sea and at home in Canada during the war and until the 1940s if death was attributable to war service. Cemetery information is included. Those who died with no known grave, about 20,000 in number, are commemorated on either the Vimy Memorial in France or the Menin Gate in Ypres, Belgium.


Commonwealth War Graves Registers, 1914-1919

These records document, if known, the death and burial location of soldiers who were killed in action or died of wounds during the war and any subsequent exhumation after the war when the cemeteries in France and Belgium were established. You may find their next of kin's address many years after the event.grave registers

grave registers2

Glenn Wright is a family historian and genealogist with a special interest in Canadian military history and research; he is the author Canadians at War, 1914-1919: A Research Guide to World War One Service Records (Global Genealogy, 2010).

To download the Battle of WWI Vimy Ridge research guide, visit this link.

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Monday, April 10, 2017

Volunteers, Boston and The Great War - Lecture Series

Maritime Monday for April 10th, 2017: Bungo Straits

Grateful Dead Cover Art: Capitol Theatre, Passaic, NJ; April 25, 1977 (released on April 16, 2016) illustration: Tony Millionaire
When you're stuck in the anchorage, but you really want a fresh slice, what do you do? Call for delivery! Thank you HMS Liberty! — at Statue of Liberty National Monument. (via Mary A Whalen)
Merchant Marines on board ship in the 1950; before the age of containers. (Museum of Found Photos)


Travellers intending to embark on the Atlantic voyage are reminded that a state of war exists between Germany and her allies and Great Britain and her allies; that the zone of war includes the waters adjacent to the British Isles; that, in accordance with formal notice given by the Imperial German Government, vessels flying the flag of Great Britain, or any of her allies, are liable to destruction in those waters and that travellers sailing in the war zone on the ships of Great Britain or her allies do so at their own risk. Imperial German Embassy

Washington, D.C. 22 April 1915

RMS Lusitania was a British ocean liner, holder of the Blue Riband and briefly the world's biggest ship. She was launched by the Cunard Line in 1906, at a time of fierce competition for the North Atlantic trade.
Panorama: Lusitania at the end of the first leg of her maiden voyage, New York City, September 1907 (Original file 2,637 × 667 pixels)

While many British passenger ships had been called into duty for the war effort, RMS Lusitania (1906) remained on her traditional route, ferrying passengers between Liverpool and New York City. She departed Pier 54 in New York on 1 May, 1915 on her return trip to Liverpool with 1,959 people aboard.

As the liner steamed across the ocean, the British Admiralty had been tracking the movements of U-20, commanded by Kapitänleutnant Walther Schwieger, through wireless intercepts and radio direction finding. The submarine left Borkum on 30 April, heading north west across the North Sea. On 2 May she had reached Peterhead and proceeded around the north of Scotland and Ireland, and then along the western and southern coasts of Ireland, to enter the Irish Sea from the south.

"…U-boats active in southern part of Irish Channel. Last heard of twenty miles south of Coningbeg Light Vessel…" (more photos)

At 22:30 on 5 May, the Royal Navy sent an uncoded warning to all ships warning of sub activity in the area. At midnight, an addition was made to the regular nightly warnings, "Submarine off Fastnet". Captain Turner of Lusitania was given a warning message twice on the evening of 6 May, and took what he felt were prudent precautions. He closed watertight doors, posted double lookouts, ordered a black-out, and had the lifeboats swung out on their davits so that they could be launched quickly if necessary.

U-20 was low on fuel and had only three torpedoes left. On the morning of 7 May visibility was poor and Schwieger decided to head for home. Lusitania had reached a point 120 miles (190 km) west south west of Fastnet Rock (off the southern tip of Ireland). By 06:00, heavy fog had arrived and extra lookouts were posted. U-20 surfaced again at 12:45; conditions were sunny and clear. The captain was summoned to the conning tower and shown what appeared to be a large steamer on the horizon.

from the log of U-20: "Torpedo hits starboard side right behind the bridge. An unusually heavy detonation takes place with a very strong explosive cloud. The explosion of the torpedo must have been followed by a second one [boiler or coal or powder?]… The ship stops immediately and heels over to starboard very quickly, immersing simultaneously at the bow… the name Lusitania becomes visible in golden letters." +

At 13:25 the submarine submerged to periscope depth of 11 metres and set a course to intercept the liner at her maximum submerged speed of 9 knots. When the ships had closed to 2 miles (3.2 km) Lusitania turned onto a near ideal course to bring her into position for an attack. At 14:10 with the target at 700m range, the sub's captain ordered torpedoes away. The U-20's torpedo officer, Raimund Weisbach, viewed the destruction through the vessel's periscope and felt the explosion was unusually severe. Within six minutes, Lusitania's forecastle began to submerge.

Absolute pandemonium erupted on deck. Walther Schwieger, captain of the U-20, watched through the periscope for about fifteen minutes before ordering it be lowered and heading back out to sea. Keep Reading

Lifebelt from the RMS Lusitania, torpedoed without warning and sunk by the German Submarine U20 on 7th May 1915, with the loss of 1198 lives. -Imperial War Museum: Click image to see the online collection
Victims of the Lusitania sinking are buried in a mass grave outside Queenstown. Remember the Lusitania! on George Knight Ghost Stories

The sinking helped shift public opinion in the United States against Germany, and was a factor in the United States' declaration of war nearly two years later. +

A recruiting poster urging Irishmen to 'Avenge the Lusitania'. (Library of Congress)

This Week in History: The USA Enters World War One

BBC World Service – It was on April 6th 1917 that America declared war on Germany, tipping the balance in favour of Britain and France and their Allies.

National Geographic: This 1918 map depicts the deadly toll taken by German U-boats during the war. Each red dot represents a sunken ship

How Maps Became Deadly Innovations in WWI

1917-1920 The Battleship in Union Square

Uboat 155 exhibited in London after the end of the war
Run Silent, Run Deep was a 1958 American black-and-white war film starring Clark Gable, Burt Lancaster, and Don Rickles, who died this week at the age of 90.

In 1976, Don Rickles starred in an American situation comedy named CPO Sharkey, (as US Navy Chief Petty Officer Otto Sharkey,) an abrasive, sharp-tongued veteran in charge of a company of new recruits on a San Diego naval base. Rickles (who in real-life served in the Navy during World War II*) is famous for his jokes about various ethnicities, and the program provided him with a vehicle for his politically incorrect humor. Sharkey, however, was really a nice guy beneath his harsh exterior and often went to extreme measures to help his recruits with their problems.  more

*After graduating from Newtown High School, Rickles enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served during World War II on the motor torpedo boat tender USS Cyrene (AGP-13) as a seaman first class. He was honorably discharged in 1946. wikipedia

Comedian Don Rickles, Merciless 'Merchant Of Venom,' Dies At 90

The exterior lights of Pre-Commissioning Unit Gerald R. Ford (CVN 78) illuminate during sunset. Flight deck lights help illuminate the ship and remain on throughout the night until morning colors is called. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jason Pastrick) via retrowar
Mr. Hirst hired a film crew to shoot divers on a pretend rescue mission off Zanzibar documenting sculptures being pulled from the sea, including "Children of a Dead King" – Photograph by Christoph Gerigk / NY Times

Damien Hirst Is Back With an Underwater Fantasy

Starting Sunday 9 April, 2017, Palazzo Grassi and Punta della Dogana in Venice present "Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable", a new project by British artist Damien Hirst that will run across both venues. (Palazzo Grassi website)

Treasures from the Wreck of the Unbelievable runs from April 9th till December 3rd, 2017 – CNN Style

The show is widely seen as Mr. Hirst's attempt, at 51, to (revitalize) his career, which has suffered since 2008 when both the financial and art markets crashed. Tapping into the age-old romance of shipwrecks, he and his patron are embarking on a giant artistic and financial gamble. "Treasures" cost Mr. Hirst millions of dollars to produce.

Called "Treasures From the Wreck of the Unbelievable," it is an underwater fantasy, with hundreds of objects fashioned to look as though they were antiquities dredged up from the bottom of the sea.  Keep reading

also: Damien Hirst's New Venice Show Is an 'Unbelievable' Journey to the Depths of Bling

Today the 'Quilles en l'air' are standing once again in almost the exact spot as their original positions. They can be rented out from 323 Euros to 756 Euros per week depending on the size and come fully equipped with modern comforts.

Postcards from a Seaside Village of Upturned Boat Homes

In the early 1900's, boats in this small French fishing village were constantly getting stranded on the beach. Instead of going to waste, the impoverished fishermen transformed these boats into roofs for low cost, makeshift houses. It was known as the Quartier des Quilles en l'Air; the neighbourhood of "keels in the air".  full story

Local fishermen of Équihen-Plage have lived under scavenged boat hulls here for over a century and today, many of these upturned vessels now serve as a unique holiday accommodation for travellers (this could be you) visiting the French coast
Tug O'Rourke Tide on a "Beef Jerky" day; posted to Tug Boating by Jim Taylor
click image to see full size

Tug O'Rourke Tide on a "Beef Jerky" day; posted to Tug Boating by Jim Taylorsee full size

One commenter asked, "Whoa! What did the inclinometer read I wonder?"

Jim Taylor: "Clinometer broke when the coffee mug hit it"

My office window. The first time I saw Casco Bay (Maine, USA) was in 1976. I drove my 1976 KAWASAKI KZ900 up Munjoy Hill. I didn't know the ocean was there. I had to stop my bike and get off it to take in the view. I told myself… I'm gonna work on Casco Bay… I am gonna be the boss. I want my ashes in CASCO BAY. Photo by Mark Bickford (via facebook)

Visible in the distance is Spring Point Ledge Light; a sparkplug lighthouse in South Portland, Maine that marks a dangerous obstruction on the west side of the main shipping channel into Portland Harbor. The lighthouse was constructed by the government in 1897 after seven steamship companies stated that many of their vessels had run aground on the ledge. The total cost of the tower ended up being $45,000 due to problems with storms and poor quality cement. It was electrified in 1934, and in 1951, a 900-foot breakwater made from 50,000 short tons (45,000 t) of granite was constructed in order to connect the lighthouse to the mainland. More Photos

The Portuguese explorer Estêvão Gomes mapped the Maine coast in 1525 and named the bay "Bahía de Cascos." Casco Bay is also home to abandoned military fortifications dating from the War of 1812 through World War II. During World War II, Casco Bay served as an anchorage for US Navy ships. Since Casco Bay was the nearest American anchorage to the Atlantic Lend-Lease convoy routes to Britain prior to US entry into World War II, Admiral King ordered a large pool of destroyers to be stationed there for convoy escort duty in August 1941.

Walter Cronkite stated that, in his opinion, the bay offered some of the best sailing in the world.  (source)

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