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Just How Good Are U.S. Naval Skippers in the Straits of Hormuz? Apparently, Not Very

5:08 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

The damaged U.S.S. Porter

The Damaged U.S.S. Porter (Photo: U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. Fifth Fleet / Flickr)

The U.S.S. Porter, DDG-78, an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, on duty in the vicinity of the Straits of Hormuz, collided with a Japanese tanker last night:

The Bahrain-based U.S. Fifth Fleet said the Panamanian-flagged, Japanese-owned bulk oil tanker M/V Otowasan collided with the USS Porter, a guided-missile destroyer, in the early hours of Sunday.

The navy vessel remained able to operate under its own power after the collision, which was not combat-related, the statement added without elaborating on how the accident happened. An investigation was underway.

Photographs released by the U.S. Navy showed a large dent, several meters (yards) high, in the starboard side of the USS Porter just in front of the ship’s superstructure and above the waterline. Personnel hung over the side inspecting the damage.

As noted by blogger, NaCly Dog, at XBRADTC:

Did they have a copy of COLREGs on the bridge?
Ref for the non-OOD qualified: Section II (for vessels in sight of one another)

15. Crossing situations
When two power-driven vessels are crossing, the vessel which has the other on the starboard side must give way and avoid crossing ahead of her. The saying is “If to starboard red appear, ’tis your duty to keep clear”.

108,000 shaft horsepower, controllable pitch propellers, International traffic separation scheme, and CIC to back you up, and you let a tanker French-kiss your starboard side right in front of the bridge?

This is the most volatile shipping congestion point in the world.  Busy as it is, there is no excuse for a collision like this.  Ensuing confusion, combined with some random unknown involving Iranian naval units, might have launched an awful error.  Awful errors have happened before:

Iran Air Flight 655 was a civilian jet airliner shot down by U.S. missiles on 3 July 1988 as it flew over theStrait of Hormuz at the end of the Iran–Iraq War. The aircraft, an Airbus A300B2-203 operated by Iran Air, was flying from Bandar AbbasIran to DubaiUnited Arab Emirates. While flying in Iranian airspace over Iran’s territorial waters in the Persian Gulf on its usual flight path, it was destroyed by the United States Navyguided missile cruiser USS Vincennes (CG-49). All 290 onboard including 66 children and 16 crew perished.  The incident is ranked ninth among the deadliest disasters in aviation history. It was the highest death toll of any aviation incident in the Indian Ocean and the highest death toll of any incident involving an Airbus A300 anywhere in the world.   The Vincennes had entered Iranian territorial waters after one of its helicopters drew warning fire from Iranian speedboats operating within Iranian territorial limits.

We need the highest level of competence in the Gulf and the Straits.


The Emerging “Dolphin Gap” Amidst False Flags Waving in the Real Fog of War

11:53 pm in Uncategorized by EdwardTeller

Dolphin Attack!

I. Don’t tell the GOP presidential primary candidates, but they’re missing an issue far more substantive than 99% of what they argue about in their debates and campaign ads:  The emerging Dolphin Gap in the Straits of Hormuz (hat tip to Harry Law):

The US:

“We’ve got dolphins,” said retired Adm. Tim Keating in a Wednesday interview with NPR. Keating commanded the U.S. 5th Fleet in Bahrain during the run-up to the Iraq war. He sounded uncomfortable with elaborating on the Navy’s use of the lovable mammals but said in a situation like the standoff in Hormuz, Navy-trained dolphins would come in handy:

KEATING: They are astounding in their ability to detect underwater objects.

NPR’s TOM BOWMAN: Dolphins were sent to the Persian Gulf as part of the American invasion force in Iraq.

KEATING: I’d rather not talk about whether we used them or not. They were present in theater.

BOWMAN: But you can’t say whether you used them or not.

KEATING: I’d rather not.

The Russians:

It sounds like the plot from a stupid B-movie, but it’s true: A marine mammal trainer and former Soviet militiaman just sold four “killer” dolphins and a white beluga whale to Iran.

According to a BBC report, the dolphins and whale were trained by the Soviet navy to attack “enemy frogmen with harpoons attached to their backs” and carry out “kamikaze strikes” against enemy ships. The animals learned to distinguish between Soviet and foreign submarines by the sounds of their propellers and were taught to carry mines to the hulls of enemy vessels to blow them (and themselves) up.

If the Iranians have four dolphins and Belugas, they might have plans for 400.  They may be less than two months from this, let alone two years, as has been said of their ability to create a nuclear weapon for at least the past 20 years.

When the GOP candidates get wind of this, they might challenge Obama about letting the “Dolphin Gap” get out of hand, as John F. Kennedy used the fictitious “Missile Gap” to close in on Richard M. Nixon in the 1960 White House contest.

To quickly close the gap before the election, the GOP could try to force Obama to immediately draft all the Cook Inlet Belugas in Alaska.  This would eliminate a thorn in the side of hyper developers who hope to soon extract very large amounts of coal, mined from pristine upper Inlet lands, out of the Inlet, and to the Orient.  Currently, Cook Inlet Belugas are listed by NOAA as endangered.  By drafting all of them for the cause, they would no longer be endangered.  At least in Cook Inlet, that is.

II. On a more serious note, this past week has seen many signs that a real shooting war between Iran and the United States Navy could start at any minute, perhaps by intent, perhaps by mistake.  I wrote a diary at MyFiredoglake on aspects of how dangerous this is on Friday. Since then, all indications are that both the Israelis and Americans are almost in free fall, as they appear to be frantically reassessing ramifications of what could only be best termed as a shaky alliance.

No statements issued by Israeli or American government officials regarding last week’s Tehran scientist assassination should be given any more credence than should have been given to Eisenhower’s May 5, 1960 statement, regarding a U-2 shot down over the USSR, that “there was absolutely no deliberate attempt to violate Soviet airspace and never has been.”

Today’s back-and-forth on who has cancelled or rescheduled the upcoming anti-missile defense exercises that would have allowed Israelis unprecedented access inside of US and NATO command structures is just one of many examples so far this year that there are perhaps major rebellions going on within both the American and Israeli military and defense establishments about how to chart these crazy waters.

Not just the Straits of Hormuz.

Sometimes I feel we’d be better off if the Dolphins and Belugas ran world affairs, rather than humans.