sea lanes

It’s a big day. Get out there and make your voice heard!

Japanese sailors fence on-board a battleship, c. 1915. After driving the Germans out of their colonies in China and the Pacific, Japan’s direct battlefield participation in the First World War waned, but the Imperial Japanese Navy played an invaluable role in defending Entente sea-lanes and transports in the Pacific and Indian Oceans, while also focusing on gaining concessions in China and the Russian Far East. 

btw if youre curious as to what I was alluding to when I mentioned one side hubristically commissioning victory medals in advance only to end up being utterly destroyed i was talking about the Battle of Cartagena de Indias which is probably one of the most utterly brutal defeats suffered by the British military and definitely one of its worst upset losses.

Like basically the British were hoping (assumed) they were going to gain a foothold in mainland South America, capture one of the most important Spanish ports for the export of gold and be able to gain control over the sea-lanes in the Carribbean. They sent an invasion force of 30,000 which I think might be the largest military force ever assembled in the Americas at the time against a Spanish garrison of 4,000 and the tl;dr is that the British suffered upwards of a 90% casualty rate. Like they literally ran out of sailors to man the ships and even after abandoning a bunch of intact vessels they were still forced to more or less press-gang foot-soldiers into manning the vessels.

And the way they lost is amazing to because it was like literally the most incompetently managed military expedition I’ve ever seen. For example this invasion force of 30,000 that was intended to assault a heavily fortified military port and one engineer for the entire army and he fucking died during the middle of the operation. And since they no longer had the one engineer they brought with them it was decided that during the final desperate assault on Fort San Lazaro wouldnt be done with a siege-battery because no one knew how to build one but rather they would have soldiers just run up to the fort’s walls with ladders and climb up it Lord of the Rings style. They planned to have the assault happen at night to provide some cover of darkness but because the leadership was so utterly incompetant they werent able to begin the attack until 4am ie; right around the fucking break of dawn and thats when they were fucking beginning the attack. So not only were was the attack on Fort San Lorenzo basically lemmings jumping into meat grinder but it turns out the “siege ladders” they brought were ten-feet too short. So imagine being a regular soldier that is carrying a ladder under a hail of gun and cannon fire and bloodshed and you finally reach the walls and push them up only to find out that your ladders were too fucking short and you couldnt scale the walls even if you stood on the top rung.

And back in London people were so self-assure of victory they were already minting medals and singing songs of how valiant Admiral Vernon and General Wentworth had captured the jewel of Spanish South America. 

The Portuguese Empire at its maximum extent.´

In red, territories once part of the Empire.

In blue, sea lanes under Portuguese influence and control.

In pink, claimed territories once part of the Portuguese Empire.

The Portuguese Empire, also known as the Portuguese Overseas, was the 1st Global Empire in History, starting in 1415 with the conquest of Ceuta, over 500 years after Portugal’s foundation in 868. In addition, it was the longest-lived of the modern European colonial empires, spanning nearly six centuries, making it the longest Global Empire in History. 

Portuguese Conquistadors battled their way through Asia, South America, Africa, Arabia, conquering and expanding the Empire in search for wealth, settlement, gold, slaves, trade and spreading of Christianity. Thanks to this, Portugal held dominion over the sea lanes of the Indian and South Atlantic oceans, making its economic, military and political power the rival of any in Europe.

Portuguese domain was present in Africa, Arabia, Brazil, Canada, Greenland and several parts of Asia, including India, Sri Lanka, China, Japan, and others.

“Portuguese were the first Europeans after the Dark Ages to engage in transcultural and transoceanic warfare, equipped with a blend of nautical knowledge, superior technology, incredible courage, very few men, and great swordsmanship that proved very efficient against the curved blades of the Turks and Moors. One must be aware that the Portuguese knew they were always outnumbered, a certainty that led them to employ all their courage and determination in the fights and battles they engaged. 
In many cases, just mentioning the Portuguese would distress an entire army or fleet, knowing the fierceness and bravery of the Portuguese warriors." 

— Rainer Daehnhardt (Professor, Historian, Writer.)

10

Ships from 26 nations across the globe are converging on Joint Base Pearl Harbor Hickam for the start of the U.S. Navy Exercise RIMPAC 2016.

The world’s largest international maritime exercise, RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.

More than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

More pictures and info at source.

Pictures: 

1. USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) passes the USS Arizona Memorial as the Nimitz class aircraft carrier arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

2. USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) 

3. Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181) 

4. Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155)

5. Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigates HMAS Ballarat (FFH 155) and HMAS Warramunga (FFH 152)

6. Royal New Zealand Navy ship HMNZS Te Kaha (F77)

7. Republic of Singapore Navy ship RSS Steadfast (FFG 70)

8. Royal Indonesian Navy ship KRI Diponegoro (365)

9. Armada de Chile ship CNS Almirante Cochrane (FF 05)

10. French Floreal-class frigate FS Prairial (F 731) 

For a while, my friends were often late to class at Gotham U because of people crowding the bike lane. Last week a speeding car went by & Scarecrow stuck his head out and yelled “STOP WALKING IN THE BIKE LANE!” in the most threatening voice. People parted like the Red Sea. Bike lanes have been clear ever since. #onlyinGotham #thanksProfessorCrane

THE MYSTERIOUS SEA

Ferdinand C. Lane (1947)

“SHIPS”

Raising the pin wood mast, they set it in the hollow socket, binding it firm with forestays, and tightening the white sail with twisted ox-hid thongs. The wind swelled out the belly of the sail and round the stern loudly the rippling waves roared. – Homer

 Water is a natural barrier. And yet the first apelike man who floated upon a log embarked on that adventurous quest which has transformed the once impassable seas into the highways of the world.

           Advanced cavemen lashed several logs together. Peruvian Indians make rafts of balsa reeds, while natives of Madras and Manchuria venture into rough waters on makeshifts quite as crude. Abraham Lincoln took his one long voyage down the Mississippi on a raft.

           Ships are only a larger edition of these crude rafts. The first recorded specimen appears upon the wall of an Egyptian tomb more than six thousand years old. With its half-moon hull, its single mast and rowers seated in the waist, it differs little from craft that sail the Nile today.

           The Phoenicians were the first nation, except perhaps the Cretans, to gain supremacy by seamanship. Their long galleys were dependent partly upon sail, but more upon oars, for with the muscles in his shoulders has man conquered the sea. Perhaps these hardy Argonauts never rounded the Cape of Good Hope as Herodotus Hints, but they did explore the sinister African coast beyond the Equator, and braved the boisterous North Atlantic perhaps to the shores of the Baltic. Unfortunately their priceless heritage of sea lore has been lost. The most graphic account of a Phoenician voyage survives in the Book of Jonah, which bequeathed to all seafaring men that personification of bad luck, a sky pilot!

            The Vikings called their longer craft serpent ships, those less pretentious sea dragons. They bore the distinguishing Figurehead, for builders of all ages have adorned their cutwaters with shapes pleasing or frightful, from siren to Medusa. Chinese even now provide their junks with grotesque eyes to “see their way about”.

           Viking ships were of oak and could be dragged ashore. Through undecked and carrying neither chart nor compass, they were better provisioned than Greek galleys, and often transported living cattle for food. Although provided with a mast and sail, the savage sea kings hung their shields along the bulwarks, bent their shoulders to the oar, and ventured out into the Atlantic even in winter. They rounded North Cape, Colonized Iceland and Greenland, and explored Labrador and Nova Scotia five centuries before John Cabot viewed those forbidding coasts. With little shelter from the elements, drench with icy spray, singing songs of blood and pillage, steering by sun or stars or by blind instinct, they issued their ringing challenge to the sea.

          The glorious Age of Sail dawned with the packet of clipper ships of the early 1800s. The East India Company first designed them for passengers. The cabin class, who paid from ninety-five to two hundred and fifty pounds sterling for a long passage from England to India, provided their own furniture and bedding.

           The full-rigged ship was the queen of the seas, a sight beloved by every old salt, as she scudded like a cloud before the wind. Modifications of masts and rigging introduced the whole race of barks and barkentines, brigs and brigantines, and even sloops. Unfortunately square-riggers have gone out of fashion. Only a few still linger as grain carriers from Australia around the Horn. Square yards provided a certain balance, and ships could remain more closely bunched in convoys. But economy and ease of management evolved that more familiar type, the schooner. Her sails could be hoisted from deck and reefed with comparative ease. There was no going aloft to hang like flies on a swaying yardarm in howling gales; hence a smaller crew was required.

           The first schooner seems to have been built by Andrew Robinson, of Gloucester, in 1745. She had two masts, the familiar yachting rig, and was destined to become the model fishing vessel of the future. Schooners with three masts were built to carry freight, and then gradually enlarged until the peak was reached in the seven-masted Thomas W. Lawson that registered 10,000 tons. She too came to rest in Day Jones’s Locker, off the Scilly Islands, in a gale in 1907.

           Disreputable pursuits played no little part in ship design. The first “clipper” seems to have been built for the opium trade of China, where speed above all else was a requisite. Malay craft with rakish three-cornered sails, light of draught and swift, could sail far closer to the wind than the average square-rigger. From converts in Borneo they darted forth like killer whales to prey upon some merchantman becalmed in Makassar Strait. Nor were the white man’s hands less dyed with blood. No ships were of more evil repute than the slavers, which eluded waiting gunboats by superior speed and seamanship, leaving their trail of manacled corpses cast to the sharks.

           The genius of China created the junk, high fore and aft, her sails of bamboo strips. Yet in such ships the great Admiral Cheng Ho, long before Columbus, made voyages that totaled seventy-five thousand miles, to spread throughout the Orient the superior culture of the Ming Emperors.

           Arab art centered in the dhow, with forward-slanting masts and three-cornered sails. One may still observe them, clumsy but seaworthy, in Mombasa, or Ceylon, whence they have voyaged across the Indian Ocean. Moored in harbor, and surrounded by lesser craft, they awaken memories of Sinbad the Sailor and The Arabian Nights.

(The texts are from the aforementioned book and the photos are from the internet… )

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A Gathering of Navies….

The short video above serves as an introduction to the world’s largest international maritime exercise….RIMPAC (Rim of the Pacific) 2016….now gathering from the vast reaches of the Pacific Ocean, and other parts of the world.

Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30th to August 4th….primarily operating in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California naval operating areas.

Ships moored at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam display ceremonial maritime signal pennants and flags from their masts as the international fleet gathers.

RIMPAC provides a unique training opportunity that helps participants foster and sustain the cooperative relationships that are critical to ensuring the safety of sea lanes and security on the world’s oceans.

Every available berth is single, double and triple-occupied at the Pearl Harbor Naval Base over the Independence Day holiday inport phase of RIMPAC 2016.

RIMPAC 2016 is the 25th exercise in the series that began in 1971. RIMPACs are held every even-numbered year.

     Who wouldn’t enjoy a break in Hawaii! (When you get off duty!)

                                           *          *          *          *

I participated in several RIMPACs during my Navy career. Each one was challenging, exciting, unique and a professional joy.

And, when we all gathered in port….what an amazing opportunity to meet your counterparts from a vast array of other nations!

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                                RIMPAC 2016 participating nations

                                                 Australia
                                                 Brunei
                                                 Canada
                                                 Chile
                                                 China
                                                 Colombia
                                                 Denmark
                                                 France
                                                 Germany
                                                 India
                                                 Indonesia
                                                 Italy
                                                 Japan
                                                 Malaysia
                                                 Mexico
                                                 Netherlands
                                                 New Zealand
                                                 Norway
                                                 Peru
                                                 Philippines
                                                 Singapore
                                                 South Korea
                                                 Thailand
                                                 Tonga
                                                 United Kingdom
                                                 United States

The traditional end-of-RIMPAC group photo….this one from RIMPAC 2012

                                      _________________________

>>Top photo: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jeff Troutman, USN