Tyranny of Distance…

There are a lot of news reports about the hijacking that took place off Somalia the other day. This was the first time in years they took an American crewed ship, and the crew has managed to get the ship back (Good on them!!!).

One of the questions being raised is why it took so long… First, the total area they are trying to patrol is over 1,000,000 square miles (roughly an area 5 times the size of the USA!), with a Combined Task Force (CTF) total of less than 10 ships, not all of which are US Navy… Since we don’t have enough aircraft to fly the patrols anymore, the ships have to rely on notification from higher for directions/locations to go to. Even if they go balls to the wall, they are pretty much limited to 20+ kts transit speed, so it takes them roughly 20 hours to go 350 miles (which is about where the closest unit was).

I’m not going to go into detail, but numerous things are in the works at “many” levels… Just an FYI, years ago we did a study of how many assets would really be required to cover the OPAREA. It was in excess of 50 ships and 30 aircraft- Figure the odds…

On a brighter note, I’m heading back tomorrow! Five days, 30 hours of meetings, after meeting meetings, pre-meeting meetings, and I’m about meetinged out… We did get a good dinner at the Club last night (I have a requirement of one good meal a trip).

The down side, well I finally slept in till 0500 this morning, so I’m almost acclimatized… dammit…

And one to leave you with… This is a pic taken from the bridge of an oil tanker crossing the Pacific. Now this tanker is almost 1000 feet long, and normally has about 30 feet of freeboard (distance from the deck to the waterline)… THIS is what happens when you get caught in the fringes of a typhoon… Oh yeah, you are looking at the bow, that’s the forward mast (yellow and black) sticking up in the distance.
You can go HERE and read about Halsey’s Typhoon in 1944, which did more damage to the Navy in WWII than any SINGLE Battle!!! Even today, that typhoon is part of routine briefs to Navy CO’s and ship’s crews.

Y’all have a good weekend!


Tyranny of Distance… — 12 Comments

  1. Heck of an image, that.
    The thought going through my mind..
    Perhaps a sailor had make his peace with God and himself before leaving port, because the death is easy on the deep water.

    WV: Faculate (What I would be doing as I watched those waves trying to rip the hatches off my ship).

  2. I can not fathom how waves can overtake one of those huge ships. It almost seems impossible until you realize that to the sea that humongous ship is but a speck of dust. Scary. I’ll stay a landlubber!

  3. What an amazing photograph. I’m not sure I’d of had the stomach to stand still long enough to take the picture.

  4. Heh! That’s why I chose the Air Force rather than the Navy.
    (Well, the nine month waiting list for Navy OCS also had something to do with it.)

  5. Awesome photo,have to agree with KLR,someone had steely nerves.My Dad and a couple of Uncles knew guys that were in that 44 typhoon,they had some unreal stories,scarey as hell.Thanks for putting some perspective on the enormity of the Somalia pirate mess.Can’t help but wonder if the ships that use those waters,had some armed mercenary types on board,that they could deter these hoodlums in a skiff with a outboard motor,just seems like that would be more cost effective for all involved?

  6. Carteach0- Pretty much…

    Elm- When you go to sea, especially at night standing on the bridge wing, you realize just how small and insignificant we really are…

    KLR- It’s actually worse when you get back to shore! You look like a drunk stumbling down the street, because the earth isn’t moving! Worst part is taking the first shower after a cruise, it can really screw with the inner ear for some reason.

    Crucis- point!

    Diller- There is a lot of commentary about arming, but a lot of the companies don’t want to be hauled in front of the Hague if one of the security people kills someone. They would rather take the chance of getting through…

  7. Great post!

    The sea is huge place to defend, now that we have a nutless weasel in White House this will happen more often.

    Great picture. When I was in 7th grade I did a book report on typhoon Halsey. It is a fascinating story.

  8. That is one scary wave, yet really beautiful at the same time.

    Safe travels.

  9. Wonderful post…………….. Thank you for defining the distance and size that the ships have to cover. I dont think people realized the size, the scale and the time it takes to get to these ships that have been hijacked.

    I am mot a seaman………….. All though i know semen!!!! LOL………… My question is, why aren’t they arming these ships???? I would think it would make sense.

  10. ADM- Trust me it is MORE than just a history report to the folks in C7F… They LIVE with it on a daily basis!

    RT- Yes it is…

    CPD- A lot of the companies don’t want to be hauled in front of the Hague if one of the security people kills someone. They would rather take the chance of getting through… HAving said that, there is a move afoot to put “security” teams on the boats, but there are significant issues with Maritime Law and insurance rates when/if they do!

  11. Waves like that are one of the main reasons why I fear the sea. Just when I start thinking about the small ship I’ll have one day…