Friday, August 18, 2017

Time Short to Save Battleship USS Texas

Time Short to Save Battleship USS 

For several years now, we have followed the progressive decline of the battleship USS Texas, commissioned in 1914. She is the only remaining World War I-era dreadnought battleship and is one of only seven remaining ships and the only remaining capital ship to have served in both World Wars. The USS Texas, now berthed in the salty waters of the Houston Ship Channel, continues to be losing a battle with time and corrosion. 

As reported by the Houston Chronicle: “We pump about 300,000 gallons of water a day out of the Battleship Texas,” said Bruce Bramlett, executive director of the Battleship Texas Foundation. “There are places on the ship where the hull is so thin you can poke your finger through it. So we’re constantly pumping water out and patching holes and the water is constantly seeping back in.”

The hope is to dry-berth the ship, to stabilize her structure and stop further corrosion. The project is estimated to cost $40 or $50 million, which is only somewhat higher than the estimated $30 million cost to scrap the ship. The ship is owned by the State of Texas which has already spent $68 million on the historic ship over the years.

In June, leaks aboard the ship caused the ship to list 8 degrees causing concerns that that battleship might capsize. Additional pumps stabilized the leaking and the list was corrected.

USS Fitzgerald Officers to Be Relieved of Command

USS fitzgerald collision
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) returns to Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka following a collision with a merchant vessel while operating southwest of Yokosuka, Japan, June 17, 2017. U.S. Navy Photo

ReutersBy Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON, Aug 17 (Reuters) – About a dozen U.S. sailors are expected to face punishment for a collision in June between the USS Fitzgerald and a Philippines cargo ship, including the warship's commanding officer and other senior leaders of the ship, the Navy said on Thursday.

he Finest Hours: The True Story of the Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias
Related Book: The Finest Hours: The True Story of the Most Daring Sea Rescue by Michael J. Tougias

Admiral Bill Moran, deputy chief of naval operations, told reporters the ship's commanding officer, executive officer and master chief petty officer would be removed from the vessel because "we've lost trust and confidence in their ability to lead."

Moran said that in total close to a dozen sailors would face administrative punishment and left open the possibility for further action.

Multiple U.S. and Japanese investigations are under way into how the USS Fitzgerald, a guided missile destroyer, and the much larger ACX Crystal container ship collided in clear weather south of Tokyo Bay in the early hours of June 17.

The Navy also released a report that provided new details of the crash and its aftermath.

You can view the 41-page 'line of duty investigation supplement' report here.

Note: The report reviews the crew's damage control activities, the nature and extent of injuries to the crew and efforts to provide medical care to the critically injured, along with details regarding assistance provided by other vessels, diving activities and the ship's return to port in Yokosuka. It is seperate from ongoing investigations into the collision between Fitzgerald and ACX Crystal.

The collision tore a gash below the Fitzgerald's waterline, killing seven sailors in what was the greatest loss of life on a U.S. Navy vessel since the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen's Aden harbor in 2000.

The report said the collision at 1:30 am local time sent water pouring into the U.S. warship.

"Water on deck," sailors in a berthing started yelling. "Get out," they shouted as mattresses, furniture and even an exercise bicycle began to float.

Within 60 seconds, the berthing was completely flooded. More than two dozen of the 35 sailors in it escaped. The last sailor to be rescued was in the bathroom at the time of the collision.

"Lockers were floating past him… at one point he was pinned between the lockers and the ceiling of Berthing 2, but was able to reach for a pipe in the ceiling to pull himself free," the report said.

Two sailors stayed at the foot of the ladder in the compartment to help others escape.

"The choices made by these two sailors likely saved the lives of at least two of their shipmates," the report says.

The commanding officer was trapped in his cabin, and five sailors used a sledgehammer to break through the door.

"Even after the door was open, there was a large amount of debris and furniture against the door, preventing anyone from entering or exiting easily," the report said.

The sailors tied themselves together with a belt and rescued the commanding officer, who by this point was hanging from the side of the ship. (Reporting by Idrees Ali; Editing by Yara Bayoumy and James Dalgleish)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2017.

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

U.S. Navy Turns Civilian-Operated USNS Lewis B. Puller Into Commissioned Warship

The Military Sealift Command expeditionary mobile base USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3) departs Naval Station Norfolk to begin its first operational deployment, July 10, 2017.  U.S. Navy Photo. 

The U.S. Navy will officially redesignate the civilian-manned expeditionary mobile base USNS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) into a commissioned warship on Thursday as the Navy looks to fill its growing demand for more diverse and capable warships around the globe.

The USNS Lewis B. Puller will officially transition to the USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) during a commissioning ceremony today at the Khalifa bin Salman Port in Al Hidd, Bahrain.

The Navy says the redesignation of the ship will allow the Navy greater operational flexibility and support in order to meet potential threats in the 5th Fleet area of operations.

"The commissioning will give combatant commanders greater operational flexibility on how they employ Lewis B. Puller in accordance with the laws of armed conflict," the Navy said in a statement.

The future Lewis B. Puller, an afloat forward staging base-variant of the mobile landing platform, was delivered to the Navy in June 2015 and has since been operated by Military Sealift Command, the civilian-manned sealift and ocean transport agency of the U.S. government.

Lewis B. Puller will serve as the first ship built specifically for the purpose of serving as an afloat expeditionary sea base. It will be replacing Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce.

USS Lewis B. Puller will be commanded by Navy Capt. Adan G. Cruz and crewed by Navy Sailors and civilian mariners. The civilian mariners will be led by the ship's Master, Captain Jonathon Olmsted.

President Trump has called for the expansion of the U.S. Navy's active fleet to 350 surface ships and submarines from the 275 at the end of FY 2016. However, it is unlikely that Trump will be able to hit his expansion promises based on the administration's proposed fiscal 2018 budget. 

The 784-foot Lewis B. Puller is designed to support air mine countermeasures and special warfare missions, and is capable of executing additional missions including counter-piracy, maritime security, and humanitarian and disaster relief.

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Recommended: Guilt Trip: Versailles, Avant-Garde & Kitsch by Roger Kimball

Ever and anon into the hearts of men sounds the enchanting whisper: "Ye shall be as gods." But humanity-worship is so profoundly inadequate to the true aspiration of man...that it must end almost fatally in some form or other of individual or collective self-worship, and indeed it ends not infrequently in devil-worship pure and simple.

—Étienne Mantoux

What a vast difference there is between the barbarism that precedes culture and the barbarism that follows it.

—Christian Friedrich Hebbel

"Les Demoiselles d'Avignon",  Pablo Picasso, 1907

In Europe's Last Summer, his brilliant book about the origins of the Great War, the historian David Fromkin dilates on the seductive beauties of the summer of 1914. It was, he notes, the most gorgeous in living memory. That serene balminess seemed an objective correlative of the rock-solid political and social stability that Europe had enjoyed for decades. To be sure, percipient observers discerned troubling clouds on the horizon. As far back as the 1890s, Otto von Bismarck predicted that "One day the great European War will come out of some damned foolish thing in the Balkans." And his anxiety was later echoed by many statesmen who regarded the extraordinary arms race in Russia and Germany and the Balkanization of the teetering Ottoman Empire with trepidation. In 1912, Helmuth von Moltke, then chief of staff of the German Army, opined that war was "inevitable," and "the sooner the better." A world war, he admitted, "will annihilate the civilization of almost the whole of Europe for decades to come," but Germany would eventually have to confront an ever-strengthening Russia. Better now, when Russia was still fledgling and Germany was taut with Prussian vigor.

On the other side, there were plenty of soothing voices to point out that the world's increasing economic interdependence rendered any serious conflict "impossible"—that was the reassuring word one heard repeatedly. There had been no war among the Great Powers for nearly half a century, ergo the status quo would persist for decades, maybe forever. There would always be honey then for tea.

War was "inevitable." War was "impossible." Between the horns of that dilemma the world trod the mournfully contingent path of the actual.

When war did finally break out, it was greeted in many quarters as a lark, a holiday, a deliverance from the tedious routines of everyday life. Yes, there were some cautionary voices. "If war breaks out," warned Sir Edward Grey, the British Foreign Secretary, at the end of July 1914, "it will be the greatest catastrophe that the world has ever seen." On 3 August, when the German armies were swarming towards France and the "Rape of Belgium" was about to begin, he somberly predicted that "The lamps are going out all over Europe. We shall not see them lit again in our life-time."

But in early August, Grey's was a minority perspective. "We'll just pop over to France next week and be home by Christmas." That was the popular refrain. In Germany, the mood was triumphalist. Even a moralist like Thomas Mann welcomed the war as "a purification, a liberation, an enormous hope. The victory of Germany will be...a victory of soul over numbers." "The German soul," Mann wrote, "is opposed to the pacifist ideal of civilization, for is not peace an element of civil corruption?" What contempt Mann had for the "nation of shopkeepers" across the channel.

Then in September came the first battle of the Marne. Its unprecedented slaughter exacted half a million casualties in a week. It is accounted a great victory for the Allies. But although it halted the German advance, it also paved the way for four years of that butchery by attrition that was trench warfare in the age of total war.

It is often said that the primary existential or spiritual effect of the war was disillusionment. Barbara Tuchman, for example, notes in one of her classic studies of the Great War that the war had many results but that the dominant one was "disillusion." She quotes D. H. Lawrence, who observed that "All the great words were cancelled out for that generation." Honor, Nobility, Valor, Patriotism, Sacrifice, Beauty: Who could still take such abstractions seriously after the wholesale slaughter of the war?

Protest at German Reichstag over the Versailles Treaty

But it's worth interjecting two points. First, it is sometimes said that the Great War, because of its body count, the tactics of its generals, the as-it-turned-out false promise that it was "a war to end all wars," was therefore meaningless. I submit that, on the contrary, it was instinct with significance. As David Fromkin put it at the end of Europe's Last Summer, "it was fought to decide the essential questions in international politics: who would achieve mastery in Europe, and therefore in the world, and under the banners of what faith."

Second, on the matter of culture, it is worth noting that most of the primary innovations in form and sensibility that we associate with that spirit of disillusionment predated the war. Picasso painted Les Demoiselles d'Avignon in 1907, ushering in decades of ugliness and assaults on the human form. We haven't recovered yet. Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto, with its gleeful "smear of madness" and its giddy "war-is-beautiful" apotheosis of speed, technology, and violence, appeared in 1909. "We want no part of it, the past," he shouted, giving voice to an entire movement that was sick and tired of bourgeois stability. Stravinsky's primitivist extravaganza, Le Sacre du Printemps—he had thought of calling it "The Victim"—was first performed in Paris to Diaghilev's carefully staged pseudo-riots in 1913.

There was a fair amount of posturing involved all around. Recalling Roger Fry's exhibition of some post-Impressionist paintings at the Grosvenor Gallery, Virginia Woolf famously said that "On or about December 1910, human character changed." That made the punters sit up and take notice. Was it true? It would be impolite to ask.

If there was a shift in artistic sensibility because of the war, I suspect that it had more to do with mood, with the quantum of braggadocio involved, than any formal innovation. Picasso, Marinetti, and early Stravinsky were brash gatecrashers. After the war the brashness evaporated, the energy turned rancid. "These fragments I have shored against my ruins," T. S. Eliot wrote at the end of The Waste Land, a poem whose title and suspended splinters of a shattered civilization seemed to epitomize the somber flirtation with nihilism, impotence, and polysyllabic despair that the Great War left in its wake.

Such signposts, I think, are pretty familiar. The sniggering, anti-art hijinks of Dada, the progenitor of so many bad things, belong here, as do the strenuous reactions and attempted recuperations of high modernism. What I'd like to do is step back and place the cultural consequences of the war in a broader context. This is where the promised theme of misplaced guilt, highlighted in my title, comes in.

One of the most famous books to emerge in the immediate aftermath of the war was John Maynard Keynes's Economic Consequences of the Peace. It was an instant bestseller. By 1924, it had been translated into 11 languages. (It is somehow appropriate that the other great bestseller that year was Lytton Strachey's Eminent Victorians: the spirit of Bloomsbury was riding high that year.) Keynes, the brilliant Bloomsbury economist whom the commentator David Frum percipiently called "the Nietzsche of economics," had been at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919 as a representative of the British Treasury. He quit in disgust because he thought the terms of the proposed peace treaty were too harsh. General Jan Christiaan Smuts, the South African delegate to the conference, convinced him to write up his objections. The Economic Consequences of the Peace,which might just as well have been called "Don't Let's Be Beastly to the Germans,"was the result. The book is not a novel. But it occupies a place in the hinterland between fact and fiction—of moralistic melodrama, say, what the public relations people might call a "docudrama": not true, exactly, but close enough to be described as "based on a true story."

This is not, I know, the usual opinion about this book. On the contrary, The Economic Consequences of the Peace, along with its 1922 sequel A Revision of the Treaty, is widely regarded as a prophetic work of genius. Keynes's searing moral indictment of greed and cruelty among the Allies, even more than his gloomy economic and political prognostications, sounded a gratifying note of moral superiority that was eagerly embraced by simpatico elites. They thrilled to the book's knowingness, its sarcasm, its literary polish no less than to its message. Indeed, The Economic Consequences of the Peace is a classic in the library of liberal hand-wringing. As such, its contentions are proposed not as arguments, but as taken-for-granted, inarguable truths about the world, in this case the historical realities of the post-war settlement and the succeeding political and economic situation.

Think about it. The one thing that everyone knows about the Treaty of Versailles is that, because of the overly harsh terms the Allies imposed upon Germany, it led directly to Hitler and World War II. An article in The Economist in 1999 epitomized this bit of folklore: The "final crime" of the Great War, the article proclaimed, was the Treaty of Versailles, which "would ensure a second world war."

As usual, Mark Twain came closer to the truth. It's not so much the things you don't know that get you into trouble, Twain wrote, as the things you do know that ain't so.

In fact, as the historian Andrew Roberts argues in his History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900, there are good reasons for believing that the Treaty of Versailles ought to have been a good deal harsher than it was. Had it divided Germany into two parts, as happened after World War II, or perhaps returned it to its 1870 status of several independent principalities, or even had the Allies merely enforced its original terms, the world would probably have been spared Hitler and the horror of Nazism. There might well have been "no via dolorosa of Rhineland-Anschluss-Sudetenland-Danzig for Europe to walk between 1936 and 1939."

Roberts cites for support a neglected masterpiece in the history of polemic, Étienne Mantoux's book The Carthaginian Peace, or the Economic Consequences of Mr. Keynes.

Let me introduce you to Monsieur Mantoux. Born in 1913, he was a brilliant French economist. His experience with England started early. His father was a diplomat, and young Mantoux crossed the Channel six times with his family before war broke out in 1914. As a young man, he studied at the London School of Economics as well as in Paris. He joined the French Air Force in 1939 after Hitler invaded Poland. After the fall of France in 1940, Mantoux was unable to make his way to England and so went to Lyon to finish his dissertation. In 1941, he managed to travel on a Rockefeller Fellowship to Princeton's Institute for Advanced Study, where he wrote, in lapidary English, The Carthaginian Peace. In 1943, he returned to France, rejected the offer of an administrative post, and took up a position flying under General Leclerc. In April 1945, a scant week before Germany's surrender, he was killed in action outside a Bavarian village. He was 32.

The "Carthaginian Peace" of Mantoux's title—what was that? Keynes several times charges that the Allies, and especially the French prime minister Georges Clemenceau, wanted to impose a "Carthaginian Peace" upon the defeated powers, in particular upon Germany. What did Keynes mean? History provides two possibilities. There was the final Carthaginian peace at the end of the Third Punic War in 146 B.C. This was the fruit of Cato the Elder's repeated injunction "Carthago delenda est," "Carthage must be destroyed." The Romans burned the rival city to the ground, killed or sold into slavery the entire population, and, legend has it, salted the fields. Only one bona fide Carthaginian monument from the once glittering city has come down to us, and that, appropriately enough, is a tomb.

That doesn't sound like the Treaty of Versailles, does it? Perhaps Keynes remembered the other "Carthaginian Peace," the peace treaty that followed the battle of Zama in 202 B.C. in which Scipio defeated Hannibal. The Romans appropriated most of Carthage's vessels of war, her overseas possessions, and exacted an indemnity of 4,000 talents.

Maybe that is the sort of thing that Keynes had in mind. As far as I know, he never said. But he did charge that the Treaty of Versailles sought "to weaken and destroy Germany in every possible way" and that it was "one of the most outrageous acts of a cruel victor in civilized history." Those who sign it, he said, "will sign the death sentence of many millions of German men, women, and children." The Germans, he claimed, would never be able to afford the reparations exacted by the treaty. And as for all the provisions about the Rhineland and other territories, Keynes sniffed that the "perils of the future" lay not in "frontiers or sovereignties" but in "food, coal, and transport." As an aside, I might mention that Adolf Hitler, for one, would have been surprised to hear that.

Let's linger over that word "reparations." Can anyone hear the word straight any longer? Keynes's book took the word out of normal circulation and invested it with an aura of malignancy and unreality that persists to this day. But Germany started the war, which was fought almost entirely on foreign soil, and, along with the other Central Powers, it inflicted horrendous property damage and killed millions. As the historian Sally Marks points out, "France's ten richest industrial departments were only horrific ruins, over 1,000 square miles now a desert." German industry was intact. Why shouldn't Germany pay? Keynes claimed that the Allies sought to revenge themselves upon the Germans. But restitution is not revenge (even if it happens to be mistaken policy). It is merely justice.

Keynes predicted that if the treaty were put into effect, Europe would be threatened with "a long, silent process of semi-starvation, and of a gradual, steady lowering of the standard of living." It is true that certain aspects of the treaty—regarding reparations, for example—were only haphazardly imposed. (Germany began reneging on its reparation payments within a year or two and stopped paying altogether in 1932.) But it was the territorial settlement of the Treaty, in which Germany lost more than 13 percent of its territory, that Keynes said would sharply "diminish the production of useful commodities" and lead to the starvation of those "millions of German men, women, and children." In fact, ten years later, Europe's production and standard of living were well above the pre-war level. Keynes predicted that the iron and steel output of Germany would diminish, but by 1927 it was producing nearly 30 percent more iron and 38 percent more steel than the record year of 1913. It was the same story with other commodities. Keynes initially warned that Germany could not afford to spend more than 20 billion gold marks in reparations per year (in 1913, $1 equaled about 4.1 gold marks). Hitler, by his own reckoning, spent seven times that much every year from 1933 to 1939 in rearming Germany.

And by the way, if you want to see what a genuinely harsh peace treaty looks like, you need only contemplate how Germany planned to treat the Allies if it had won—Britain, for example, was to be "squeezed to the uttermost farthing"—or turn to the Treaty of Brest–Litovsk that Germany imposed upon the Bolsheviks in 1918. Russia agreed to default on its financial commitments to the Allies. It ceded the Baltic States to Germany, other territory to the Ottoman Empire, and recognized the independence of Ukraine. Russia also agreed to pay 6 billion German gold marks in reparations. Hostilities did end, but on terms that one might almost describe as Carthaginian.

Throughout The Economic Consequences of the Peace, Keynes was careful to don his economist's hat to supplement the moralist's mantle. Dilating on the wickedness of reparations, for example, he embroiders his discussion with various technicalities about the difficulties of transnational currency flows. But after 1939, the Germans found that wholesale expropriation, enslavement, and extermination more than overcame these little difficulties in extracting wealth from conquered peoples. The idea that France had anything to fear from Germany in the future, Keynes said in A Revision of the Treaty, was "a delusion." It would, he explained, be "many years" before Germany once again cast her eyes Westward. Germany's future "lies in the East." Any fears, he wrote in Economic Consequences, of "a new Napoleonic domination, rising...from the ashes of cosmopolitan militarism" were but "the anticipations of the timid." Whew! Everyone can relax. It was almost as reassuring as the Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1928, that "General Treaty for the Renunciation of War as an Instrument of National Policy," which was signed by 50 countries, including Germany, Italy, and Japan. It was a monument to idealism, perhaps, but lacked the homely wisdom of Catherine the Great's observation that human skin is more ticklish than paper.

In another work, Keynes famously wrote that "Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influence, are usually the slaves of some defunct economist." Pondering what he wrote about the Treaty of Versailles, I believe I begin to understand what Baron Keynes meant. Perhaps this is the place to note how close Keynes was to the German parties of the treaty. As Niall Ferguson points out in The Pity of War, Keynes was deeply attached to Carl Melchior, Max Warburg's righthand man at the Hamburg Bank of M. M. Warburg & Co. He read parts of a draft of Economic Consequences to Melchior and Warburg, and apparently profited from their response. "Thanks to Dr. Melchior's clear explanation," the German Foreign Office official Kurt von Lersner recalled, "Herr trying to find common ground with us." How nice. Posterity has not, Ferguson notes, appreciated "the extent to which Keynes was manipulated by his German friends" or "the extent to which he erred in his analysis of the consequences of the peace."

Continue reading the complete article in  the September 2014 New Criterion, here:

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Deceased Fitzgerald Sailors Posthumously Advanced

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy announced Wednesday that the seven Sailors who died aboard USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), were posthumously advanced to their next rank. - Gunner's Mate Seaman Apprentice Dakota Kyle Rigsby, 19, from Palmyra, Virginia, was posthumously advanced to Gunner's Mate Seaman. - Yeoman 3rd Class (frocked) Shingo Alexander Douglass, 25, from San Diego was posthumously permanently advanced to Petty Officer 3rd class. - Sonar Technician 3rd Class (frocked) Ngoc T Truong Huynh, 25, from Oakville, Connecticut, was posthumously permanently advanced to Petty Officer 3rd class. - Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Noe Hernandez, 26, from Weslaco, Texas, was posthumously advanced to Petty Officer 1st class. - Fire Controlman 2nd Class Carlos Victor Ganzon Sibayan, 23, from Chula Vista, California, was posthumously advanced to Petty Officer 1st class. - Personnel Specialist 1st Class (frocked) Xavier Alec Martin, 24, from Halethorpe, Maryland, was posthumously permanently advanced to Petty Officer 1st class. - Fire Controlman 1st Class Gary Leo Rehm Jr., 37, from Elyria, Ohio, was posthumously advanced to Chief Petty Officer. The remains of these seven Sailors were located June 18, in flooded berthing compartments, after divers gained access to the spaces that were damaged when the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer Fitzgerald was involved in a collision with the Philippine-flagged merchant vessel ACX Crystal.

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

7th Fleet Announces USS Fitzgerald Accountability Determinations

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The commanding officer, executive officer and command master chief of the guided-missile destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62) were relieved of their duties by Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, Commander, Seventh Fleet, on August 18. Additionally, a number of officer and enlisted watch standers were held accountable. The determinations were made following a thorough review of the facts and circumstances leading up to the June 17 collision between Fitzgerald and the merchant vessel ACX Crystal. The collision was avoidable and both ships demonstrated poor seamanship. Within Fitzgerald, flawed watch stander teamwork and inadequate leadership contributed to the collision that claimed the lives of seven Fitzgerald Sailors, injured three more, and damaged both ships. With absolute accountability for the safe navigation of Fitzgerald, Cmdr. Bryce Benson was relieved due to a loss of confidence in his ability to lead. He had previously been temporarily relieved of his duties due to medical reasons from injuries sustained during the collision. Cmdr. Benson is being reassigned to Naval District Washington at the Washington Navy Yard, where he will have access to medical facilities in the area. Inadequate leadership by the executive officer, Cmdr. Sean Babbitt, and command master chief, Master Chief Petty Officer Brice Baldwin, contributed to the lack of watch stander preparedness and readiness that was evident in the events leading up to the collision. Several junior officers were relieved of their duties due to poor seamanship and flawed teamwork as bridge and combat information center watch standers. Additional administrative actions were taken against members of both watch teams. Cmdr. Garret Miller will assume command from Fitzgerald's acting commanding officer, Cmdr. John "Jack" Fay sometime mid-to-late-August. It was also evident from this review that the entire Fitzgerald crew demonstrated real toughness that night. Following the collision these Sailors responded with urgency, determination and creativity to save their ship. Their rigorous damage control efforts and dauntless fighting in the immediate wake of the accident prevented further loss of life.

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Bergdahl goes judge-alone

After so many motions, writ-petitions, and breathless claims that Army Sergeant Bergdahl can't get a fair trial by court-martial on the charges of desertion with the intent to shirk important service and avoid hazardous duty in violation of Article 85(a)(2) and misbehavior before the enemy in violation of Article 99 for leaving his combat outpost in Patika Province, Afghanistan (leading to his capture by the Taliban and captivity for nearly five years), Bergdahl has elected to be tried by a court-martial composed of a military judge alone:

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

Navy to Commission USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3)

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy will commission the Expeditionary Sea Base USS Lewis B. Puller (ESB 3) during a 5 p.m. AST ceremony Thursday, Aug. 17, at Khalifa bin Salman Port in Al Hidd, Bahrain. The future Lewis B. Puller - currently USNS Lewis B. Puller (T-ESB 3 )- is the second ship to bear the name of Lt. Gen. Lewis Burwell "Chesty" Puller, a distinguished combat veteran of World War II and the Korean War. Puller is the only Marine to have been awarded the Navy Cross on five separate occasions and is the most decorated individual in the history of the USMC. The first Lewis B. Puller (FFG 23), an Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate, served from 1982-1998, and was then transferred to the Egyptian Navy and renamed Toushka (F.906). Vice Adm. Kevin M. Donegan, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet, will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Lt. Gen. William D. Beydler, commander, Marine Forces Central Command, will also speak. Marine Brig. Gen. Frank Donovan, commander of Naval Amphibious Forces, Task Force 51/5th Marine Expeditionary Unit (TF 51/5), will read a letter of dedication from Mrs. Martha P. Downs, Puller's daughter and the ship's sponsor. "The name Gen. Lewis "Chesty" B. Puller is synonymous with heroism and service," said the Honorable Richard V. Spencer, Secretary of the Navy. "His example lives not just in every Marine but in every service member who faithfully serves our nation. Today's commissioning of USS Lewis B. Puller continues that legacy, and I know those who will serve on this ship will serve our nation with the same dedication as Chesty Puller." As the latest warship to join the U.S. Navy, Lewis B. Puller will be commanded by Navy Capt. Adan G. Cruz and crewed by Navy Sailors and civilian mariners. The civilian mariners will be led by the ship's Master, Captain Jonathon Olmsted. The commissioning will give combatant commanders greater operational flexibility on how they employ Lewis B. Puller in accordance with the laws of armed conflict. Lewis B. Puller will be replacing Afloat Forward Staging Base (Interim) USS Ponce. As an AFSB(I), Ponce was able to stage people and equipment in support of multiple maritime missions in the 5th Fleet area of operations. Lewis B. Puller will serve as the first ship built specifically for the purpose of serving as an afloat expeditionary sea base. As the security environment has become faster paced, more complex and increasingly competitive, the Navy has a growing need to station more diverse and capable warships around the globe. Redesignating USNS Lewis B. Puller as a commissioned warship will allow the Navy greater operational flexibility and provide critical support to TF 51/5's joint forces at sea, from the sea and ashore to meet potential threats in the 5th Fleet area of operations. Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342.

Additional information on the Expeditionary Sea Base is available online at

Additional information about Lewis B. Puller can be found online at

Original Page:

Sent from my iPad

IG Inspection of the VA Regional Office Phoenix, Arizona

In early 2017, OIG evaluated the Phoenix VARO to see how VSC staff processed disability claims, timely and accurately processed proposed rating reductions, input claim information, and responded to special controlled correspondence. Staff didn't consistently process one of the two types of disability claims. OIG reviewed 30 veterans’ TBI claims and found staff accurately processed 29 of 30 claims. OIG reviewed 30 SMC benefits claims and found that RVSRs incorrectly processed 3 of 30 claims due to a lack of effective oversight. Overall, VSC staff correctly processed 56 of the 60 disability claims OIG reviewed; however, the errors resulted in 73 improper payments to 3 veterans totaling approximately $44,700. OIG reviewed 30 rating reductions cases and found that staff delayed or incorrectly processed 11 cases—resulting in approximately $15,500 in overpayments and $2,400 in underpayments. This was due to prioritization of other workloads. OIG reviewed 30 newly established claims and found staff didn't correctly input claim and claimant information into the electronic systems for 15 claims due to ineffective operational oversight. OIG reviewed 30 special controlled correspondences, finding inaccuracies in 11 cases because of a lack of training and outdated local guidance. Specifically, in nine of the cases, congressional liaisons didn’t upload all of the required documents, such as privacy consent documents, congressional inquiries, or final responses to the veterans’ electronic claims folders. Therefore, VBA management and staff would not be able to review issues pertaining to timeliness and accuracy of these documents in the veterans’ electronic claims folders. OIG recommended the Phoenix VARO Director implement plans to improve oversight of SMC decisions; place higher priority on rating reductions; ensure data entered at the time of claims establishment are accurate; and provide training for special controlled correspondence processing. The Director concurred with our recommendations and the planned corrective actions are responsive.

The Council of National Defense: Now a Little Known or Appreciated World War I Federal Agency

The Council of National Defense: Now a Little Known or Appreciated World War I Federal Agency

Today’s post is written by Dr. Greg Bradsher, Senior Archivist at the National Archives at College Park.

Among the wonderful sources at the National Archives for the study of World War I are the records of the Council of National Defense (Record Group 62). This Council touched the lives of every American, whether they realized it or not. The records, contained within one thousand boxes, provide a wealth of information about gearing up for war and about the home front during the war, particularly efforts for the mobilization of industries, resources, and the people of the United States for the effective conduct of the war.

The Council of National Defense was established by section 2 of the Army Appropriation Act of August 29, 1916 (39 Stat. 649), to coordinate industries and resources for the national security and welfare. The Council was to investigate and make recommendations regarding the availability, production, and increase of war supplies and transportation. It was the first of the large emergency Government agencies of World War I and became, in turn, the parent organization of most of the other special war agencies. The Council and an Advisory Commission, to be nominated later, were headed by a Chairman, and the administrative duties were exercised by a Director and a secretary.

The Council consisted of six Cabinet members: the Secretaries of Agriculture— David F. Houston, 1916-20, and Edwin T. Meredith, 1920-21; Commerce— William C. Redfield, 1916-19, and Joshua W. Alexander, 1919-21; the Interior— Franklin K. Lane, 1916-20, and John Barton Payne, 1920-21; Labor— William B. Wilson, 1916-21; the Navy— Josephus Daniels, 1916-21; and War— Newton Baker, 1916-21.  Secretary of War Baker was Chairman of the Council.

The Council had its first meeting on December 6, 1916.[1] The Council nominated to the President for appointment to an Advisory Commission seven persons, “each of whom shall have special knowledge of some industry, public utility, or the development of some natural resource, or be otherwise specifically qualified.” The Advisory Commission was to advise and assist the Council in the execution of its functions and to create relations that would render possible the immediate concentration and utilization of the resources of the Nation. The seven members of the Advisory Commission, appointed by the President on October 11, 1916, were Bernard Baruch, financier; Howard E. Coffin, vice president of the Hudson Motor Co.; Hollis Godfrey, president of the Drexel Institute; Samuel Gompers, president of the American Federation of Labor; Franklin H. Martin, secretary-general of the American College of Surgeons; Julius Rosenwald, president of Sears, Roebuck & Co.; and Daniel Willard, president of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. The Advisory Commission had its first meeting on December 6, 1916, and Godfrey served as Chairman of the Advisory Commission until March 3, 1917, when he was replaced by Willard.

Walter S. Gifford, chief statistician of the American Telephone & Telegraph Co., served as temporary Director from December 7, 1916, to March 3, 1917, becoming permanent Director on the latter date. Gifford was succeeded in October 1918 by Grosvenor B. Clarkson, who was followed by Herbert N. Shenton in March 1920 and by Emmons K. Ellsworth who served from November 1920 until June 1921. Baruch served as secretary pro tempore of the Council and the Advisory Commission for the first two meetings on December 6 and 7, 1916, until he was succeeded by D. Dana Bartlett on December 16, 1916, who served as temporary secretary until Clarkson became permanent secretary on March 3, 1917. Upon Clarkson’s appointment as Director, in October 1918, the position of secretary was abolished and the Director assumed its duties. Gifford, Clarkson, and Advisory Commission member Coffin had served together in 1916 as secretary, assistant to the Chairman, and Chairman, respectively, of the U.S. Naval Consulting Board’s Committee on Production, Organization, Manufacturing, and Standardization. This body, which was better known as the Committee on Initial Preparedness, not only served as a model for the Council of National Defense but, on the Committee’s termination during the winter of 1916-17, provided many of its personnel to committees created by the Council and Advisory Commission.


Council of National Defense and Advisory Commission. Seated left to right, Secy. David F. Houston, (Agriculture) Secy. Josephus Daniels (Navy) Secy. Newton d. Baker, (War) Secy. Franklin K. Lane (Interior) Secy. Wm. B. Wilson (Labor), Standing: Grosvenor B. Clarkson, Secy, Julius Rosenwald, Bernard N. Baruch, Daniel Willard, Dr. F.H. Martin, Dr. Hollis Godfrey, Howard E. Coffin and W. S. Gifford, Director. (NAID 26432759)

After the Council and Advisory Commission had held several meetings, including joint sessions, during December 1916 and one in January 1917, the Advisory Commission decided in February to organize its work into seven committees, each to be headed by a member of the Commission as follows: Baruch— raw materials, metals, and minerals; Coffin— munitions, manufacturing, and industrial relations; Godfrey— engineering and education; Gompers— labor; Martin— medicine and sanitation; Rosenwald— supplies; and Willard— transportation and communications. These committees, in turn, established subcommittees in their fields. The Council in conjunction with the Advisory Commission also established subordinate units, most notably the Munitions Standards Board in February 1917, the General Munitions Board in April 1917, the Woman’s Committee (headed by Anna Howard Shaw and Ida M. Tarbell)[2] in May 1917, and the War Industries Board in July 1917.

When it appeared the United States would soon enter the war, the creation of these subordinate bodies by the Council and Advisory Commission and the creation of emergency units by governmental agencies resulted in much overlapping of responsibility and duplication of effort. In an attempt to stop the overlapping and duplication and to keep the executive agencies that were engaged in national defense in closer touch with one another, the Council established the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee on March 29, 1917, and its first meeting was held on the same day. The new Committee was composed of one representative from each of the 10 executive departments, a representative of the National Research Council, and the assistant to the Director of the Council of National Defense and the Advisory Commission, who was in charge of cooperation with the States. The Chairman of the Council acted as Chairman of the Committee. The Committee met twice a week until November 2, 1917, when it was adjourned, subject to the recall of the Chairman. It was never recalled.

The exigencies of wartime economic mobilization demanded not only cooperation among Federal agencies, which the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee could suggest but was powerless to enforce, but also direct coordination of the war effort, which the Council, Commission, and Committee lacked the power to provide. Council members were too involved in coordinating the activities of their executive departments and Advisory Commission members were too involved in their committee activities to provide direct coordination. Because the Committee was not empowered to act as a coordinating body, the Council, on November 27, 1917, created the Joint Weekly Conference “to coordinate all the war activities of the Government.” The Conference was composed of all Council members and Chairman of the War Industries Board Daniel Willard (later Baruch), Chairman of the U.S. Shipping Board Edward N. Hurley, Food Administrator Herbert Hoover, Fuel Administrator Harry A. Garfield, and the Director of the Council and the Advisory Commission Walter Gifford. They met twice weekly from December 3, 1917, to April 15, 1918.

By the spring of 1918, the President’s War Cabinet (the Chairmen of the War Trade Board, the War Industries Board, and the U.S. Shipping Board; the Fuel Administrator; the Food Administrator; and Director General of Railroads) had assumed most of the coordinating functions of the Joint Weekly Conference, the Council, and the Advisory Commission. The War Industries Board had been created by the Council on July 28, 1917, to “act as a clearing house for the war industry needs of the Government, [to] determine the most effective ways of meeting them and the best means and methods of increasing production.” Subordinate bodies of the Council and Advisory Commission whose work related to the duties of the War Industries Board were directed to cooperate with it. Many of these bodies eventually were absorbed by the Board, particularly after Baruch became its Chairman in March 1918. At Baruch’s insistence, the President made the Board a more effective coordinating and policymaking body, and on May 28, 1918, it was made an independent agency.

The growth of the War Industries Board and the adjustment and expansion of the regular executive agencies to meet wartime conditions lessened the authority and responsibility of the Council and Advisory Commission. This, in turn, reduced the number and scope of their subordinate organizations. The Council, nevertheless, remained a vital organization, coordinating the work of approximately 164,000 State and local defense councils and 18,000 State and local women’s committees. Another important area in which the Council became concerned and involved, as early as May 1918, was the planning for reconstruction of the economy and postwar adjustment. In June 1918 the President designated the Council “as the agency to coordinate studies of reconstruction problems and to suggest methods of procedure in connection therewith.”

Originally established during peacetime and expecting to continue after the war, the Council envisioned itself as the proper agency for centralizing, preserving, and studying the industrial and economic records accumulated by the Federal Government during the war. It created the Interdepartmental Defense Board on October 27, 1919, to review the administration of the Government’s war program in order to make recommendations for future emergencies, to study the duties and role of the Council, and to prepare a plan of reorganization of the Council. The Interdepartmental Board, as it was called, was composed of one representative from each of the six executive departments represented on the Council plus the Director of the Council and the Advisory Commission, who served as Chairman. Representatives included: Agriculture—Leon M. Estabrook; Commerce— Samuel W. Stratton; Interior— Van H. Manning and later Frederick G. Cottrell; Labor— Royal Meeker and later Ethelbert Stewart; Navy— Rear Adm. William S. Smith; and War— Maj. Gen. George W. Burr and later Maj. Gen. William M. Wright.  The Interdepartmental Board’s first meeting was held November 10, 1918; its last, October 29, 1920.

Despite opposing arguments presented by the Interdepartmental Defense Board and the Council, the task of developing plans for industrial mobilization, which consisted of industry converting from civilian production to war production, was taken from the Council by section 5a of the National Defense Act of 1920 (41 Stat. 764) and given to the Assistant Secretary of War. He established, in 1921, the Planning Branch of the War Department to implement the task. The Council ceased functioning on June 30, 1921, because no appropriations were granted to it for the next fiscal year. The Council continued, however, to have a statutory existence, and in May 1940, facing another threat of war, the President revived the Council and appointed a new Advisory Commission. By doing this, he used the Council as the means to institute defense activities and create new agencies deemed necessary for the defense program without offering additional legislation. On January 7, 1941, an administrative order of the President (6 F.R. 192) provided that the activities and agencies of the Advisory Commission, which had absorbed the functions of the Council, should thenceforth be coordinated through the Office for Emergency Management, which was established within the Executive Office of the President. The last meeting of the Advisory Commission was on October 22, 1941.

The World War I era records of the Council of National Defense and the Advisory Commission, including those of the subordinate committees were transferred to the Planning Branch of the War Department by an Executive order of April 21, 1921. In 1933 the records were transferred to the Army Industrial College and from there to the National Archives in 1937. [3] The records produced in 1940 and 1941 were absorbed mostly by agencies that assumed the functions of the committees created by the 1940 Advisory Commission. Many of these records have since been accessioned by the National Archives, including the Advisory Commission records, which form part of the Records of the Office for Emergency Management, Record Group 214.


[1] National Archives Microfilm Publication M1069 (one roll) contains the indexes to the minutes and the minutes of the meetings of the Council of National Defense, 1916-21; the Advisory Commission of the Council of National Defense, 1916-18; the Interdepartmental Advisory Committee, 1917; the Joint Weekly Conference, 1917-18; and, the Interdepartmental Defense Board, 1919-20.

[2] National Archives Microfilm Publication M1074 (one roll) contains the minutes of meetings of the Committee on Women’s Defense Work of the Council of National Defense, May 2, 1917-February 12, 1919, and copies of the weekly and monthly reports submitted by that Committee to the Council, May 12, 1917-October 15, 1918.

[3] Wayne Grover, who became the third Archivist of the United States, as a young archivist, arranged and described the records of the Council of National Defense and the War Industries Board. His descriptions were published by the National Archives as its first two Preliminary Inventories. See Greg Bradsher, “Wayne Grover: Shaping the National Archives,” Prologue, vol. 41, No. 4 (Winter 2009).

Images in this post are from the folder: Council of National Defense (NAID 26417715) in the series: American Unofficial Collection of World War I Photographs, 1917-1918; Record Group 165: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs, 1860-1952.

Thursday, August 17, 2017

A Few Good Men, Too Many Chemicals By Robert O'Dowd

The book is available from Amazon now. See: Please tell others about the book. The information may help veterans and their dependents file VA compensation claims and save lives for those at risk for toxic exposures and serious medical conditions. The water contamination at Camp Lejeune has been published on the internet and discussed in Congressional hearings. El Toro is a totally difference story. The base was closed in July 1999. The 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing moved to Miramar. No effort was made by the Navy or the Marine Corps or the Defense Department or any federal government agency to alert El Toro veterans, dependents and civilian workers to risk of toxic exposure to a lengthy lists of contaminants in the soil and groundwater. There is no presumptive disability for El Toro veterans. Veterans will have to wage a battle with the VA to win compensation. Unfortunately, those fighting this battle have to wage it one veteran at a time. None of us are healthy. The fight becomes even more difficult with those of us with cancers and weakened immune systems. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your spouse and children.  

Looking to the Sky: Solar Eclipse 2017 August 16, 2017 by Kristi Finefield

Looking to the Sky: Solar Eclipse 2017

“Thousands of residents stood with necks craned and peered wide-eyed through smudged glass as the moon sped between the sun and earth, gradually shutting off the bright morning light. From President Coolidge to the urchins with bundles of papers under their arms, the city marvelled at the awesome but magnificent sight.”  - The Washington Post, Jan. 25, 1925.

If you take away the obvious differences (Coolidge is President, paperboys on the streets), I imagine a similar scene taking place during our upcoming solar eclipse on August 21. As in 1925, Washington, D.C. is outside the “path of totality” but will still be able to witness a partial eclipse, with the moon covering about 80% of the sun. (In 1925, it was 95% covered.)  I expect many will step outside, myself included, and turn their eyes to the sky to witness the phenomenon firsthand. (I plan to wear specially made glasses, rather than relying on “smudged glass,” as mentioned in the article.)

President and Mrs. Coolidge both stood on the White House lawn on a freezing day in January 1925 to view the partial eclipse during as it began, as seen below. They watched in the cold for a short while, and after the President returned to work, he used his darkened glass plate (which was likely a developed photographic glass plate) to view the eclipse at its peak from inside the White House.

Pres. & Mrs. Coolidge viewing eclipse of sun, 1/24/25. Photo by National Photo Company, [19]25 January 24. //

Pres. & Mrs. Coolidge viewing eclipse of sun, 1/24/25. Photo by National Photo Company, [19]25 January 24. //

Other prominent Washington, D.C. officials took the time to view the 1925 eclipse, such as Postmaster General Harry New and Gen. John A. LeJeune, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps. Most relied on a piece of darkened glass for viewing, as depicted in these photos.

The wheels of the great government machine and of private business marked time today while thousands of employees and the departmental heads viewed the eclipse. Postmaster General New snapped as he was watching the eclipse with the aid of a photographic plate. Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1925 January. ttp://

The wheels of the great government machine and of private business marked time today while thousands of employees and the departmental heads viewed the eclipse. Postmaster General New snapped as he was watching the eclipse with the aid of a photographic plate. Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1925 January. ttp://

General John A. LeJeune, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, viewing the eclipse in front of the Navy Department at Washington. Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1925 January. //

General John A. LeJeune, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, viewing the eclipse in front of the Navy Department at Washington. Photo by Harris & Ewing, 1925 January. //

Not satisfied with a casual look with the naked eye, astronomers at the U.S. Naval Observatory lined up with their telescopes to get a better view of the 1925 eclipse:

Astronomers at Naval Observatory viewing eclipse of sun, 1/24/25. Photo by National Photo Company, [19]25 January 24. //

Astronomers at Naval Observatory viewing eclipse of sun, 1/24/25. Photo by National Photo Company, [19]25 January 24. //

And of course, many are not content to simply watch a solar eclipse, but endeavor to capture and document the event. The eclipse on January 24, 1925 was photographed and filmed from the dirigible U.S.S. Los Angeles by a team formed by the U.S. Naval Observatory and the U.S. Bureau of Standards. Some members of the team posed with one of the specially designed cameras destined for the airship in the photo below.

Scientists of Naval Observation with special camera to photograph eclipse of sun, 1/7/25. Photo by National Photo Company, [19]25 January 7. //

Scientists of Naval Observation with special camera to photograph eclipse of sun, 1/7/25. Photo by National Photo Company, [19]25 January 7. //

Flown into Washington, D.C. in order to be christened by President Coolidge in November 1924, the U.S.S. Los Angeles took a tour over the nation’s capital a few months before its eclipse expedition. In the photo below, the airship is above the National Mall, with the U.S. Capitol in the background.

ZR-3 Los Angeles. Photo by National Photo Company, [1924 Nov.] //

ZR-3 Los Angeles. Photo by National Photo Company, [1924 Nov.] //

Capturing natural phenomena through a camera lens was nothing new, however. The usefulness of photography in their work was recognized by scientists almost immediately after its invention. By the 1850s, photographers began documenting eclipses for scientific study. A volume of photos in the Prints and Photographs Division’s collections systematically shows the incremental phases of the solar eclipse of May 26, 1854. An example of one of the photos is featured below on the left. For comparison, on the right is a photo taken in New York during the January 1925 eclipse.

[Photograph of the solar eclipse of May 26, 1854, taken at West Point, no. 16] from Bartlett's photographs of solar eclipse of May 26, 1854, taken at West Point. //

[Photograph of the solar eclipse of May 26, 1854, taken at West Point, no. 16] from Bartlett’s photographs of solar eclipse of May 26, 1854, taken at West Point. //

 Diamond ring of the solar eclipse - Jan. 24, 1925. Photo by Frederick W. Goetz, copyrighted 1925 July 13. //

Diamond ring of the solar eclipse – Jan. 24, 1925. Photo by Frederick W. Goetz, copyrighted 1925 July 13. //

Celestial events such as solar eclipses are studied and documented by scientists and armchair astronomers. Witnessing the totality is an event which drives people to travel thousands of miles. Photographers study methods for capturing images of the moon blocking the sun. But even if you aren’t going to such lengths, all you really have to do on August 21 to see something remarkable is take a few minutes, and look to the sky – with proper eye protection, of course!

Learn More:

Naval Search Engine

Total Pageviews

Find-A-Grave Link

Search 62.2 million cemetery records at by entering a surname and clicking search: