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Belmont Club

The Perils of the Sea

July 18th, 2014 - 8:32 pm

One of the biggest causes of warship losses is self-immolation. Remember the Maine? It is now believed that the USS Maine might have blown herself up in what was the equivalent of a coal dust explosion that set off her magazines rather than from a Spanish mine.  The evidence is inconclusive.

There is less controversy in the case of the HMS Vanguard, a dreadnought class battleship that blew up in Scapa Flow in 1917. “Just before midnight on 9 July 1917 at Scapa Flow, Vanguard suffered an explosion, probably caused by an unnoticed stokehold fire heating cordite stored against an adjacent bulkhead in one of the two magazines which served the amidships gun turrets ‘P’ and ‘Q’. She sank almost instantly, killing an estimated 804 men; there were only two survivors.”  During World War 2 the Japanese battleship Mutsu sank the same way.  She survived Midway and the battle of the Eastern Solomons and returned to Japan in 1943 where a magazine explosion sank “the ship with the loss of 1,121 of the 1,474 crew and visitors.”

For most of the Second World War the danger of an exploding warship magazine was simply regarded as an occupational risk. Second World War carriers were floating bombs. They carried large quantities of gasoline, munition of all sorts and had wooden flight decks.

But the search for ways to keep warships from blowing themselves up — principally by switching over to ‘insensitive munitions’, explosives that don’t readily explode when heated or blasted — really gathered momentum after the World War 2 when the US nearly lost two supercarriers to munitions accidents. Perhaps the best known incident was the 1967 fire on the USS Forrestal. The Navy had by then introduced bombs with less sensitive explosive fillers. But as the bombing campaign ramped up the Navy began to run out of modern bombs.  So they used old bombs found in a jungle dump from Subic Bay.

The day before the accident (28 July), the Forrestal was resupplied with ordnance from the ammunition ship USS Diamond Head. The load included 16 1000-lb. AN-M65A1 “fat boy” bombs (so nicknamed because of their short, rotund shape), which the Diamond Head had picked up from the Subic Bay Naval Base and were intended for the next day’s second bombing sortie. The batch of AN-M65A1 “fat boys” the Forrestal received were surplus from World War II, having spent roughly three decades exposed to the heat and humidity of the Philippine jungles while improperly stored in open-air Quonset huts …some were stamped with production dates as early as 1935. Most worryingly of all, several bombs were seen to be leaking liquid paraffin phlegmatizing agent from their seams, an unmistakably dangerous sign the bomb’s explosive filler had degenerated with excessive age and exposure to heat and moisture.

According to A-4 Skyhawk pilot Lieutenant Rocky Pratt, the concern and objection induced in the Forrestal’s ordnance handlers was striking, with many afraid to even handle the bombs; one officer wondered out loud if they would even survive the shock of a catapult assisted launch without spontaneously detonating, and others suggested they immediately jettison them into the sea….

Faced with this, but still needing 1000-lb. bombs for the next day’s missions, [Captain John] Beling demanded the Diamond Head take the AN-M65A1s back …

With orders to conduct strike missions over North Vietnam the next day and no replacement bombs available, Captain Beling reluctantly concluded he had no choice but to accept the AN-M65A1 bombs in their current condition. In one concession to the demands of the ordnance handlers, Beling did agree to store all 16 bombs alone on deck in the “bomb farm” area between the starboard rail and the carrier’s island until they were loaded for the next day’s missions; standard procedure would have been to store them in the ship’s magazine with the other bombs (where an accidental detonation could easily have destroyed the entire ship).

Interestingly the ammunition handlers in Subic Bay believed the fat boys were being transferred afloat to be deep-sixed as no sane man would consider using them. These bombs nearly sank the Forrestal the next day. A  Zuni rocket was discharged by an electrical fault into a deck park of attack aircraft loaded with fat boys, one of them piloted by LCDR John McCain, who literally hotfooted it out. The fire ignited nine bombs and Forrestal was saved only by her armored flight deck and damage control heroics.  Heroics is not too strong a word, for it takes someone very crazy or brave to approach a fire where a bomb has just gone off knowing another might detonate at any moment.

The Enterprise was next. In 1969 while sailing near Pearl Harbor “the exhaust heat (about 850°F) from an aircraft engine-starting unit (an MD-3A “Huffer”) was inadvertently directed onto a pod containing four 5-inch ZUNI rockets hanging under the wing of an F-4J aircraft. The heat caused one or more of the warheads to detonate in the pod.” Another chain reaction ensued involving 18 munitions, some of them bombs.

It proved two things to admirals: that carriers are awful hard to sink and that bombs are very dangerous things. The Enterprise accident impelled the Navy to issue a requirement for insensitive fillers. The Viet Cong might not be able to sink a carrier, but bombs like the fat boy could.

The Russians apparently continued to use sensitive explosives, a circumstance which led to the demise of the submarine Kursk. The giant missile sub became a sort of USS Forrestal underwater.

The Kursk submarine disaster occurred during a major Russian naval exercise in the Barents Sea on Saturday, 12 August 2000. The Kursk … was preparing to load a dummy 65-76 “Kit” torpedo … a faulty weld in the casing of the practice torpedo caused high-test peroxide to leak, which caused the kerosene fuel to explode. The initial explosion destroyed the torpedo room, severely damaged the control room, incapacitated or killed the control room crew, and caused the submarine to sink. The fire resulting from this explosion in turn triggered the detonation of between five and seven torpedo warheads [the] explosion took place two minutes and 15 seconds later, and was powerful enough to register on seismographs as far away as Alaska.

The loss of the Maine and the Kursk were separated by over a hundred years. But one thing has not changed since then. Admiral Murphy is still at sea. The tendency for accidents to happen should be remembered always, for not only do wars sometimes start by accident, but so do ships sink. For as long as warships are filled to overheads with things that go BOOM, things will go boom.

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An old friend of mine designs rocket motors for the USN. He has had to make the trip to the DC area to appear before the DoD Explosives Safety Board and present evidence that the motors should be determined to be insensitive. Curiously enough, one of the items the DDESB demands is color pictures when the motors are exposed to fire.

I did a study for NASA a few years back on what can go wrong during pre-launch processing. That study convinced me that I never want to work at a place that makes explosives; the number of mishaps that have occurred at such locations is awe inspiring.

Or one that makes rocket motors, either. One horrific mishap occurred at one of Thiokol's solid motor manufacturing facilities in Utah. They had poured rocket motor propellant to make a MX Missile first stage motor. After it cured they had to remove the mandrel that formed the bore hole. They started to raise the mandrel, then for some reason stopped, lowered it a small amount, and then started to raise it again. The motor ignited and killed everyone in the facility.

But one of the more remarkable disasters occurred not at a place that is dangerous but is designed to be very safe, the Transport Canada test track. Wishing to test a vehicle that used Compressed Natural Gas in order to see what occurred in the event of a crash, they decided to be very safe and fill the CNG tank with high pressure air rather than CNG. But they failed to empty all of the CNG from the tank, then pressurized it up to 3700 PSI with air (not nitrogen, the test procedure specified that either could be used). They then actuated the CNG tank solenoid to bring the tank down to the rated 3600 PSI for the test run. The solenoid worked fine with CNG but was not designed to operate with a high pressure explosive mixture of air and CNG. They had essentially created a Fuel-Air-Mixture bomb and then used the solenoid to detonate it. The explosion killed three of their test personnel. Ironically if they had just used high pressure CNG nothing much would have occurred; numerous accidents show that the CNG vents upward and even if it ignites the fire occurs in a manner that does little or no damage.

18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
The tag line of "Monty Python's Life of Brian" was "Worse things happen at sea."

"switching over to ‘insensitive munitions’, explosives that don’t readily explode when heated or blasted"
That could produce 10 minutes of bilge from Nancy Pelosi on the insensitivity of the Navy.

1. You think of everything that can go wrong.
2. You fire the idiot who calls you paranoid.
3. You train and rehearse and find new things that can go wrong.
4. You accept that things will still go wrong, and lives will be lost.
5. You do your job.

At OCS we went over the long version of the Forestfire film, with point by point breakdowns of "lessons learned." No operation is over until the "lessons learned" are digested so the next crew can learn from your mistakes. My expectation is that over 30 years later every naval officer still watches that film, and watches the Chief get John McCain out of his deathtrap. After that McCain got shot down. If the Navy doesn't use this film for every officer then I would be shocked. Perhaps I am expecting to much. The time may be needed for a Diversity Sensitivity Module.

It is possible for a pilot to shoot himself down with the fine weapons a grateful nation issued him.

In 1983 I was a junior officer assigned to the Combat Systems Department of the USS Belleau Wood (LHA-3) when we had a FAE (Fuel Air Explosive) bomb brought onboard. The bomb was placed alone in a magazine at the bottom of the ship. Every few hours an Aviation Ordnanceman would climb six decks down to the magazine and look at a little window in the casing. One time he came up and said to the Combat Systems Officer "It looks pink." The Boss looked pale, "What do you mean by pink?" "I mean I think it looks kinda pink." All the officers and Chiefs in the Department climbed down to the magazine and took turns looking. Most said nothing, always a wise policy. A few said, "Well maybe you could call it pink." Then the XO and then the CO checked it out. If that thing had blown it would have blown the keel out of the bottom of the ship. The word went out to do nothing, not even scrape rust, that could produce the slightest risk of any spark on that ship. Reporting that problem was the type of message that Commanding Officers just love to put their signature under, not. A special EOD team flew out to take care of the problem.

On my next ship, the USS England (CG-22) from when we honored the promise that there would always be an England in the US Navy, we were the 5th ship in formation going through the Lombok Straights off Borneo, wher it had been raining, when the aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk's wake sucked a teak log that had washed down to sea up from the mud beneath the channel and propelled it like a torpedo to where it hit one of our two propellors. Having just got off watch I was resting in the wardroom when I felt the ship shudder and then heard the most frightening sound. It was a whine as the turbines shut down and the ship became the one thing that a living thing should never be, silent. When the teak log hit the bronze propellor it caused damage that would if the propellor turned create vibrations that would travel up the shaft to the steam turbine. If that happened then the blades within the turbine would crack and the engine could explode. It essentially turned the ships own engines into bombs inside. We made it back to Subic on one shaft at a third bell. I never want to be on a ship with only one shaft. When we reached Cubi where we tied up a C-5, which is a major strategic resource whose assignments are tasked out well in advance, was given emergency orders to fly out a new propellor from stateside. That item was the entire load for the plane. I watched the Diver who inspected the propellor curl his fingers to show the Captain what the damage looked like. When the damaged propellor was removed and placed on the pier it did look just like bent torn and crippled fingers.

Sea duty, I miss it.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
There is no "safe" military or naval operation. Even training. Even sitting in base and in port. Using, or learning to use, weapons, munitions, ships, aircraft, or even dealing with humans in large groups and restricted spaces is not safe. As politically incorrect as it seems to say it, there is a running attrition from non-combat causes in all armed forces. Sometimes it will be sudden, expensive in lives and costs, and very loud. And it is a sad fact that the harder you train, and more realistically you train; the more casualties in training and the fewer [by orders of magnitude] in combat.

I think back to my childhood [1950's when the military was honored]. We were on friendly terms with our neighbors, and their college age daughter who used to babysit me was engaged. Her fiance was doing his two years as a draftee. Being about 5, I idolized him as a soldier. We would talk when he was on leave, and I remember one time when we were alone he told me about another soldier he knew who was killed when they were training with grenades. The friend pulled the pin, and then dropped it in his foxhole. He asked me not to tell her so she would not worry. And this is the first time I have mentioned it.

But nothing is safe. The military operates, not on Murphy's Law; but on O'Toole's Corollary to Murphy's Law. "Murphy was a bleeding optimist." One cannot make anything foolproof, because fools are so f-ing ingenious. And energetic, except where it would be to their benefit to be so. Then they act like Maturin's debauched sloth.

So the Israeli's, who stand on the ramparts defending what is left of Western civilization over the objections of our Governing Class, ARE going to do stupid things, and get hurt. They are going to have to take irrevocable decisions on too little time, information, and rest; and some will zig when they should have zagged or some such. It is the fate of all who take up arms, including our own forces. Look up "Operation Cobra" and the strategic air "support" on the first day of the St. Lo Breakout in France 1944.

You do what you can, with what you have got; and hope and pray that your training and good sense will keep you from doing something stupid and fatal to you and yours.

Lessons that Americans may re-learn soon.

Subotai Bahadur
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18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
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In the occasional class I teach on nuclear reactor safety I accent the "unknown unknowns." Just submitted an article pointing out that the famous accident of Casey Jones was CAUSED by a passively safe brake system on another train.

Wherever there is energy, there will be accidents.
18 weeks ago
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Paleo: Just saw in the paper that there is a campaign to include the 74 missing sailors on the VN Memorial Wall.
18 weeks ago
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There are more ways than explosives to sink a ship. Simply put a junior officer in charge where they are not qualified for the job.

Hits close to home for me. I served for several years on the USS James E. Kyes - DD787 - thru 1967 - the Evans DD-754 was in the same Desron 23 - Kyes was the Destroyer squadron leader. Had the Kyes been hit in a similar manner as the Evans during my service on Kyes I would not be here to type this. When you are young you do not think of such things. I slept well.

The Evans was always considered the 'screw up ship' in the squadron - a long-standing and dubious honor to be sure. The screw-up designation paid off in a bad way early in the morning of June 3rd 1969 when the deck officer misunderstood a radio command from the Australian aircraft carrier Melbourne and turned the wrong way. It was determined that the junior officer was not qualified to stand officer of the watch. I was casually familiar with a couple of the men that died that morning having chatted over a beer at whatever EM club was at hand. Good men died because the Capitan was tired and wanted some sleep.

18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
TomDPerkins: "You think Putin wants a general world war?"

Personally, no I don't. There is no advantage to Russia in that. They already have Europe by the short & curlies through the overwhelming European dependence on imported fossil fuel. And North America has pre-emptively surrendered.

Similarly, there is absolutely no advantage to Russia in shooting down a Malaysian passenger plane. On the other hand, there are advantages to the Ukrainian thug regime which keeps on putting out dubiously sourced "smoking guns". And there are advantages to the Soetero regime, and possibly to the EUnuchs.

Even the guys on "our side" probably don't want a World War, but they are going to have to dig deep to find some way out of the problem they have created for themselves with unrepayable debt and unfulfillable social commitments. That creates a severe risk that the current band of incompetents will over-reach, and let things get out of hand.

This is a time for deep skepticism! Your life may depend on it.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Let us not forget the loss of the IJN Shinano.

Built on the hull of what originally was supposed to be the third Yamato class battleship, the Shinano was the largest displacement aircraft carrier to ever put to see, and no doubt the most heavily armored as well.

Hastily completed - or almost - so it could participate in the defense of the Philliipines, the Shinano set sail with construction crews still aboard, loaded with not only IJN aircraft but the first of the rocket powered "Baka" (Ohka) bombs.

Scarecely out of sight of land, the USS Archerfish put 6 torpedoes into the new ship. But with battleship-type anti-torpedo protection, the Shianao scarcely noticed the impacts.

The Captain reviewed the situation, determined they were in no real danger of sinking, and turned over damage control to an inexperienced junior officer.

The damage control officer noted that the avgas tanks on the ship had been cracked by the torpedo impacts, and with the gasoline fumes rather stifling, decided to air out the ship. He opened hatches and ventilation ports and turned the blowers on high, creating the world's largest FAE.

The day following the sub attack an massive explosion blew out the sides of the IJN Shianpo.

18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Your recount of how the Shinano sank has a few errors. Those 6 torpedoes were the direct cause of the Shinano sinking. That the ship was hastily built with serious design flaws also contributed to the sinking of the Shinano. The Shinano took on an increasingly serious list that eventually sunk her. She did not blow up - at least according to wikipedia.

Nice 'version' however!

17 weeks ago
17 weeks ago Link To Comment
How should he have handled the fumes?
18 weeks ago
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18 weeks ago
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"Senior Western intelligence officials believe they have found evidence that the Russian commander Igor "Strelkov" Girkin oversaw the missile strike Thursday that downed a Malaysian commercial airliner over Ukraine, killing all 289 aboard, U.S. officials tell Fox News.

Girkin, whose nom de guerre means “shooter” in Russian, is the Russian commander who has overseen the uprising of ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine over roughly the past four months.

Girkin is a retired Russian military intelligence officer who purportedly served in the Russian FSB, the country’s internal security unit -- a part of the KGB that was renamed after the Soviet Union fell apart.

U.S. officials think Girkin oversaw the missile strike in part because of social media posts he made shortly after the Malaysian plane went down. And they have an intercepted phone conversation purportedly between a Girkin lieutenant and a handler in the Russian military intelligence service in which the fighter seems to say his team shot down the plane.

Girkin purportedly posted online: “Near (Snizhne) right now was hit an airplane An-26.”

“It is somewhere behind the mine ‘Progress,’ ” Girkin added.

Girkin previously served in Chechnya to put down an uprising against Moscow and led the Russian incursion into Crimea, in eastern Ukraine, earlier this year.

About five weeks ago, Girkin, who is not a Ukrainian, reportedly sought help from Moscow because he said the local ethnic Russians in Ukraine did not want to fight.

Girkin’s apparent involvement would be further evidence that the Russians sent agents provocateurs into eastern Ukraine to start the so-called “separatist movement.” "
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Sorry, I can't resist: Hmm. looks like Girkin is in something of a pickle.
18 weeks ago
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Two important non-combat really bad naval events that haven't been mentioned here are the USS Iowa turret explosion of April, 1989 due to severe maintenance and training deficiencies, and the loss of the USS Thresher in April 1963 to a combination of design errors and weaknesses and operational error. The first killed the #2 turret crew of 47 men and the second the submarine's entire crew (plus shipyard workers) of 129.

Both illustrate a major issue: The tendency of command to minimize and even brush aside complaints from below when acting or demanding action would be politically inexpedient. The poor state of maintenance of the Iowa's turret machinery safety features was known, so was the fact that the Thresher's design both made a reactor 'scram' while submerged an easy mistake AND rendered it unlikely that ballast water could be blown out quickly enough to surface should a scram occur.

Both events have decent Wiki entries and I defy you to read either without cringing at the politically-based denial of extremely dangerous conditions and in the case of the Iowa, the Navy's post-disaster effort to cover up the problems.

It's hard to imagine that we won't have more such trouble in the future as political correctness percolates through the military ranks.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
If you recall, they tried to pin the Iowa turrent accident on a gay sailor having love issues. Things like these are always used to further the political topic de jure.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
I remember the family of the sailor filing a suit against the Navy. I don't recall the result but I remember thinking "scapegoat".
18 weeks ago
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Yep. That's one of the low points of the bottom-scraping 'investigation' of the explosion.

It's hard to fully appreciate the incompetence and deliberate effort to cover up USN screwups, first in allowing the dangerous conditions to persist despite some scary pre-disaster events and then following, by the all out effort to prevent a real understanding of what happened.

The backdrop for it all was navy hatred of battleships. From WW II on, the path to high rank was via command of a carrier and the belief at senior officer levels was that battleships were obsolete and a total waste of money. President Reagan felt otherwise and basically forced reactivation of -- four I think? -- of the more modern mothballed BBs but the navy nickel and dimed the effort from the start.

The effort was doomed by the Iowa explosion. Too bad, in my opinion, because battleships have capabilities that no other class of ship offers: Chiefly that they're close to unsinkable with conventional weapons short of another battleship and able to deliver extremely powerful conventional ordinance perhaps 100 miles inland with good precision at a fraction the per-bang cost of guided missiles without having to risk aircraft and pilots.

You want to reduce a small building to scattered rocks, use a cruise missile. For the same effect on reenforced concrete fortifications, it's tough to beat 9-16" guns.
18 weeks ago
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Battleships and heavy bombers:

In a sane world think what could be built with today's technology to replace the B- 52 and the USS Missouri.
18 weeks ago
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I think one of the cardinal mistakes of current planners is assuming that future wars will be fought with light/mobile forces and that automation will increasingly replace boots on the ground. It's more likely that the face of warfare is becoming more varied and that the nation that turns "We'll probably only have to fight ..." into "We will only have the capability to fight ..." can look for an unpleasant surprise.

An important dimension of that is the steady reduction of our ability to project force overseas. Sooner or later that's going to mean fighting here rather than over there.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Kinda hard to keep things in the closet when it's filled w/high explosives.
18 weeks ago
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S.H.I.T. happens...
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Man, how I'd love to have this job:

The Good Old Days, cont.
Microsporidium infections in AIDS patients can be quantified by counting spores in stool and by small bowel biopsy.
Variations in intensity of infection from patient to patient are great and are similar to those in AIDS-related Cryptosporidium infection.

To quantify intensity of infection in AIDS-related microsporidiosis, 20 patients with known microsporidiosis submitted stools for quantitative spore counts after staining with a calcofluor white stain. Nine patients collected stools for 24 h, for assessment of daily spore excretion, stool-to-stool variation in spore excretion, and patient-to-patient variation in intensity of infection. The number of organisms seen in small bowel biopsy specimens from 7 patients was compared with quantitative fecal spore excretion. Fecal spore concentration in 20 patients ranged from 4.5x105 to 4.4x108 spores/mL of stool.
There was a strong correlation between fecal spore excretion and duodenal biopsy spore counts (r=.82; P<.024).
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Wretchard's citation of the Maine & the Lusitania raises an interesting issue. If we stick to the consensus view (Global Warming rules: concensus is always correct), then the Maine was sunk by an accidental explosion while the Lusitania was deliberately set up to be attacked & sunk. However, in both cases, their sinking was used to drag the US into war -- the Spanish-American War and World War I respectively. In one case, the Political Class took advantage of an unfortunate accident to inflame public opinion. In the other, Wilson & Churchill engineered a disaster to inflame public opinion.

Obviously, there are lots of efforts now to inflame public opinion to support the EU-installed thugs in Ukraine. But is this a Maine-like attempt to take advantage of an unfortunate accident, or a Lusitania-like engineered crisis?

Interestingly, Barry's latest round of sanctions on Russia were imposed unilaterally. (The lad is such a cowboy!). Europeans refused to go along. And now a plane load of dead Europeans is being used to inflame sentiment in Europe against Russia. Definite benefit to Soetero!

Let me be the first to say it does not sound plausible that a US President would engineer the deaths of foreign citizens for his own political advantage. And then I remember those three little words -- Fast and Furious.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Might want to brush up on your WWI history. The Lusitania was sunk in 1915. The United States didn't enter the war until 1917. It wasn't the Lusitania that brought the US into the war but rather the Zimmermann Telegram and the return of unrestricted submarine warfare by the Germans in February 1917 that finally swayed public opinion toward war.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Yes, the full story of many things contains many more details than the headlines. Similarly, the Spanish-American War did not start immediately after the sinking of the Maine. However, the "concensus view" is that both incidents played a significant part in the road to war, especially in terms of the impact on public opinion.

Is that the role designated for MH 17?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
You think Putin wants a general world war?
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
Russia doesn't fare so well in world wars, going by the first two. And it's hard for a mafia state to invoke patriotism.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment
--the continuous state-within-state secret police/national security services have done extremely well by WWs --WW1 gave them birth and Russia, and WW2 gave them an empire and a deeper hold on Russia. Those would be the folks who decide whether or not Russia wants another WW or more likely, just a regional scrape that Kerry can lose a carrier in, and give O an excuse to call USN home for therapy. This'd be 'dollar-kill' --when USN isno longer guaranteeing delivery of oil bought on the open auction market USN has enabled.

As far as patriotism --look into what HAS been going on in Russian media by way of anti-Americanism --the ramp of tempo and tone, and ehe effects now registering. It ain't good, for the thought that the people will provide the sort of drag one might expect, against a big war.

We're easily portrayed as Babylon, with plenty of evidence especially lately with high offialdom's systemic bending of our self-governance exceptionalism into crime and (no) punishment, while at the same time Putin is rehabbing --with growing popular support --the Bolshevik-broken bonds of Motherland and Church.

And y'know, that's the area where faking it is AKA seeking faith --if it looks like a redeeming journey of the soul, it is one, ipso facto, by the example --who can gainsay that acts are acts.
18 weeks ago
18 weeks ago Link To Comment

"KIEV—Ukraine intelligence officials said they knew three days before the downing of Malaysia Airlines 3786.KU -11.11% Flight 17 that rebels in the east of the country possessed sophisticated air-defense systems capable of felling a jetliner at altitudes in excess of where the Boeing BA +1.40% 777 was flying.

The disclosure deepens the mystery of why Ukrainian aviation officials failed to entirely close off the airspace in the Donetsk region, where the jet was flying went it was shot down, killing all 298 people on board.

Three Buk-M1 medium-range antiaircraft systems, also known as the SA-11 Gadfly under the North Atlantic Treaty Organization designation, were known to be in rebel hands as early as July 14, said Vitaly Nayda, the head of the counterintelligence division of Ukraine's security service.

...Ukrainian rebels boasted on social media on June 29 that they gained control of a Buk-M1 system when they overran a Ukrainian armed forces base in the conflict zone in eastern Ukraine, Russian news agency Itar-tass reported. Mr. Nayda said that Ukrainian armed forces made that system nonoperational back in March, around the time when the fighting in the area kicked off. The core of the missile system remains on the base, but there are no warheads to arm it, he said.

"It's about 90% certain that the separatists shot down the aircraft down by accident," said Steven Pifer, director of arms control and nonproliferation at Washington-based think tank the Brookings Institution. Although Ukraine and Russia have Buk antiaircraft systems, "I would think it improbable the system would not have been provided by the Russians," he said."
18 weeks ago
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