Saturday, March 31, 2007
Then again, they do have a nutty sense of what is funny.
From the 1960 movie (bad German accents and all), "Sink the Bismarck!" the Battle of the Denmark Strait. Got to love the Bismarck.
I don't know about you, but I can't get enough of the opening scene as they load the "Big Ones."
From fact to fiction, here is Part 1 and Part 2 with real footage and survivors of the battle.
On a sidenote, some people like their games - like them a lot.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
Navy Rear Adm. Anthony L. Winns has been nominated for appointment to the grade of vice admiral and assignment as inspector general, Department of the Navy, Washington, D.C. Winns is currently serving as vice director for operations, J3, Joint Staff, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.
This just feels so wrong in so many ways. I find this very uncomfortable to read.
"Everyone knows he's conservative and has come out strongly for the things that the pro-family movement stands for," Dobson said of Thompson. "[But] I don't think he's a Christian; at least that's my impression," Dobson added...while Dobson didn't believe Thompson to be a member of a non-Christian faith, Dobson nevertheless "has never known Thompson to be a committed Christian—someone who talks openly about his faith."I would have trouble finding a more narrow minded definition of Christian outside a cult fringe-group. WAAAAAAAYYYYYY over the shark. Just speaking as one Evangelical - Dr. Dobson has no influence over who I vote for, and he never has.
"We use that word—Christian—to refer to people who are evangelical Christians," Schneeberger added. "Dr. Dobson wasn't expressing a personal opinion about his reaction to a Thompson candidacy; he was trying to 'read the tea leaves' about such a possibility."
Hat tip Drudge.
Wednesday, March 28, 2007
That is all fine, heck I have a CCW, but there are rules that should be followed. Webb has a CCW for VA, but not DC or MD. Besides the Senator's strange deer-in-the-headlights response to his aide picking up the wrong bag (that is what I think happened) - there is this quote. Let's parse, shall we?
“I have never carried a gun in the Capitol complex and I did not give the weapon to Phillip Thompson, and that’s all that I think I’ll say,” Webb told reporters.---OK, have you carried a gun in your person or in your car while in DC? Have you carried it in other locations in DC besides the Capitol complex?
---Define "..gave.." in the context you mean it. Are you saying that it was stolen? Are you saying that you did not give him that gun, in that bag, at that time, at that location? Why do you think he had it with him?
---"..all that I think I'll say.." What else is there to say? You seem to hold the President to a standard of disclosure about things many orders of magnitude greater than your aide picking up the wrong bag - where else is there that you won't say? Why?
A profile in something. Not impressive.
To be clear about something - I know Sen. Webb is a 2nd Am. supporter. As a gun nut myself, I appreciate that very much. That being said, he is a member of a Party whose leaders want to take away his right to a CCW and is responsible for his aide now facing a felony charge. Wouldn't this now be a good chance for the Junior Senator from VA to join Sen. Stevens (R-AK) in repealing the DC gun ban?
Now that would be a profile in courage - political courage for a Democrat. Senator Webb is not a coward. I wish he would turn this event into something positive.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
When on Spring Break, I never went anywhere with more than 4-5 people. I preferred to go with 1 or 2 others. I never spent more than 3 nights in any one place - same town is fine, but don't repeat the same bars over and over - "friends" you make on Spring Break are like fish, after three days they, well, stink.
The last is the most important. Lie. Yes, I know "Lie, cheat or steal..." yadda, yadda, yadda - but this is in a different context. In both college with my non-Navy friends, and in the Navy on liberty - I went by another name when conducting diplomatic intercourse with third country nationals on four continents. I went to a different college while in college. In the Navy, I was a business man. I was never Phibian Salamander from College or LT Salamander from the USS Neverdock.
No - I would pick an alternative reality for me. Hey, I wouldn't see these people again - and I/we avoided this.
The Naval Academy said Tuesday it is investigating allegations of lewd behavior and heavy drinking by a group of midshipmen on a spring break Caribbean cruise.Ungh. You can't get away from being a Midshipman when you take it with you there Shippy!
The investigation began after a woman on the Carnival Cruise Lines ship Glory complained in an e-mail to the academy that a group of eight to 10 male midshipmen were acting in a "lewd" manner, The (Baltimore) Sun reported Tuesday.
One passenger wrote that she and other women were groped, and that some of the midshipmen offered alcohol to teenage girls on the cruise.
"I was 'felt up' by one of the very drunk men and I was given the misfortune of watching them grab and disrespect every woman they could get close to as well as seeing them offer underage (15 and 17 year old) girls at our table alcohol," the woman wrote.
In a March 18 posting on cruisecritics.com, another passenger described "a group of boys from the Naval academy" who were "being very loose with their hands when talking with the ladies."
Remember; you are pre-Med from Perdue, Pepperdine, or Penn State. Rinse, repeat.
And WHO in their right mind gets underway when on Spring Break? Plenty of time for that later. Then again, these are Annapolis types - they probably picked a Disney Cruise.
Hat tip LargeBill.
We knew this stuff was coming years ago. If you have not yet, read Stolen Valor.
This wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t so easy to find out the truth – actually before publication they did know the truth – but they went through the with the story anyway. After all, why would the NYT let the truth get in the way of their cover shot.
The whole story here, the oops here. The usual subject love this stuff.
Editors' Note: March 25, 2007, Sunday The cover article in The Times Magazine on March 18 reported on women who served in Iraq, the sexual abuse that some of them endured and the struggle for all of them to reclaim their prewar lives. One of the servicewomen, Amorita Randall, a former naval construction worker, told The Times that she was in combat in Iraq in 2004 and that in one incident an explosive device blew up a Humvee she was riding in, killing the driver and leaving her with a brain injury. She also said she was raped twice while she was in the Navy.
On March 6, three days before the article went to press, a Times researcher contacted the Navy to confirm Ms. Randall's account. There was preliminary back and forth but no detailed reply until hours before the deadline. At that time, a Navy spokesman confirmed to the researcher that Ms. Randall had won a Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal with Marine Corps insignia, which was designated for those who served in a combat area, including Iraq, or in direct support of troops deployed in one. But the spokesman said there was no report of the Humvee incident or a record of Ms. Randall's having suffered an injury in Iraq. The spokesman also said that Ms. Randall's commander, who served in Iraq, remembered her but said that her unit was never involved in combat while it was in Iraq. Both of these statements from the Navy were included in the article. The article also reported that the Navy had no record of a sexual-assault report involving Ms. Randall.
After The Times researcher spoke with the Navy, the reporter called Ms. Randall to ask about the discrepancies. She stood by her account.
On March 12, three days after the article had gone to press, the Navy called The Times to say that it had found that Ms. Randall had never received imminent-danger pay or a combat-zone tax exemption, indicating that she was never in Iraq. Only part of her unit was sent there; Ms. Randall served with another part of it in Guam. The Navy also said that Ms. Randall was given the medal with the insignia because of a clerical error.
Based on the information that came to light after the article was printed, it is now clear that Ms. Randall did not serve in Iraq, but may have become convinced she did. Since the article appeared, Ms. Randall herself has questioned another member of her unit, who told Ms. Randall that she was not deployed to Iraq. If The Times had learned these facts before publication, it would not have included Ms. Randall in the article.
Over the last few months I've reviewed the Navy's Diversity websites, read "Implementing Diversity" from the CNO's Reading list, listened to Flag Officers talk about Diversity, and reviewed the Community Briefs from PERS-41. From all of this I think that the Navy is incorrectly communicating and implementing our Diversity Strategy, and should change course.
The Navy's Diversity Strategy is being communicated in a way that is unclear. From looking at the NPC Diversity site (https://www.npc.navy.mil/CommandSupport/Diversity/) , one would think that the purpose of our diversity program is to give awards to sailors of various minority groups, and celebrate minority holidays. This is completely missing the point of what a true diversity program is, and the real reason we need to focus on Diversity.
I think Diversity is important to the U.S. Navy because it will help us be more effective as a team. We will recognize people's strengths and use them to our advantage, and I don't mean simply their race or gender. We will "cast a wider net" for talent in America among groups that are currently under-represented. The idea behind this is that there are talented individuals, who either by their desire or the design of our recruiting/retention system, are not in the Navy right now. We want talent, so we need to modify how we recruit/retain in order to have a force that is representative of our recruiting pool - the American public. We want people of all backgrounds - gender, race, ethnicity, mental abilities, education, family status, work experience, religion, language, and communication style.
The Navy's problem is that we have confused diversity and affirmative action, and the sole focus of our diversity program is on minorities. As Loden calls it, we are "Marginalizing the Mainstream". Nowhere on the NPC Diversity site does it mention an award, holiday, press release, or other recognition of someone in the Navy who is a white male. The push for Diversity in our Navy has started on the wrong foot, and we need to get back to the eloquent definition on the top of the Diversity website that is not reflected in the rest of it. My intent is not to harp on a single website; I have listened to lip service from Flag Officers who end an otherwise interesting brief with stale, hollow comments such as "and our Diversity is the foundation of our entire plan" Without specifics on Diversity or a frank discussion, hollow Navy Newstand releases and Flag Officer comments about Diversity do nothing to extend these ideas to the Fleet.
Specifically, the PERS-41 SWO Senior Community Brief and Junior Officer Community Brief communicate the exact wrong message about Diversity. In these briefs, statistics are shown regarding Diversity personnel numbers, percentages of "Diverse" officers who have taken SWOCP, and other data to show retention comparisons for these "Diverse" officers. My question to PERS-41 is what is the definition of "Diverse"? Our community is communicating the wrong message about Diversity - that you are only diverse if you are not Caucasian, and that promotion rates are our metric for success in achieving diversity. They are decreasing the true meaning of Diversity by narrowing it down to a numbers game for promotions and assignments that has the tone of affirmative action. White male officers should feel threatened if this is how we are measuring success - less promotions for them and more for minorities. These metrics are fundamentally flawed, and aren't helping us as a Navy.
My intent is not to complain without solutions, so I offer the following suggestions to the Navy, SURFOR, and PERS-41 staff who are leading us in this new effort to create a culture that appreciates Diversity
1) Define the fundamental objective of the Navy's Diversity Program, and why it will help us accomplish our mission. It will need to be clearer than the documents put out thus far, and use language that sailors can understand and take onboard. Flowery language from PhD's can be a starting point, but the goal is to have us buy into the program.
2) Communicate this idea to the Fleet. Let people know your reasoning and justify your answers. I now believe that the intent of this program is not merely political correctness, but many others may not. Convince them.
3) Stop all attempts to put metrics to this program too early. I know MOE's are important, but the first step is change people's minds, and convince them that diversity is important. As the current metric you show promotion rates for minorities/females compared to white males, it makes the effort sound as an "us versus them". There is no metric for a PERS-41 brief that can show people have adopted the mindset that a diverse force is a good thing, other than polls which probably won't be too accurate.
4) Focus your efforts on recruiting a cross-section of America. Add recruiters to minority areas, and even pull them away from areas that are majority dense. We are a peacetime Navy that is doing okay with recruiting numbers lately. Shift your resources in recruiting so that the Diversity concept has room to grow.
5) Remember that Diversity is not 2 dimensional - it's not only race and gender. There are many more characteristics of people that make them different, and valuable to the team. The diversity books on the CNO's Reading List explain this, yet it is not reflected in our strategy.
Diversity is a topic that I am very interested in, and have a lot to learn about. I think our action-oriented Navy is moving too fast, and in the wrong direction with Diversity. As we move forward with the order to implement a Diversity Strategy, we need to start with the "why" before the "how".
Monday, March 26, 2007
The capture last week of fifteen Royal Navy personnel by Iran was clearly premeditated and, legally, could be interpretated as an act of war. We should not be in any doubt as to why this has happened. Iran thinks we are weak. They have seen us promise sanctions on many occasions during the protacted negotiations with them over their nuclear programme and fail to act on as many occasions. They see British troops withdrawing from Basra even though their work is far from finished. Tehran has calculated that Britain does not have the stomach to stand up to Iran. What is clear is that Britain and the west still have options at the moment. Tehran is a conventional power. Once it becomes a nuclear power that range of options becomes a lot narrower.My timeline is to the right of many - but I give the diplomats 1-month.
I know where I would go from there - but I am keeping it to myself for my reasons.
It would be fun though. Who wouldn't fight to hear, "Heinlein, returning!"
Hat tip Byron.
Hey, the house we have right now we have owned for over a decade and won't be selling it anytime soon. Glad. This bit from Financial Sense tells the story real well.
There are people out there that still want '04/'05 prices for their house and wonder why it has been on the market for so long. Rent it, or give it a '02 price. Otherwise, that nut will keep hitting you day after day.
I am going to get right to the point. Housing, especially in California, is dead money for many years to come. Game over. It’s that simple.
In March 2005, I stated that anyone buying a house in Orange County should have a 10-year horizon and be comfortable with having lost paper wealth during that period of time. Virtually every investment boom/bubble has the same characteristics: The perception that easy money can be made with little risk is reinforced by the media and “cocktail chatter” which serves to suck in the public (the “dumb money”). Those that believe they are very smart want to display their intelligence by sharing with others how well their investments are doing. Those not in the game feel like they are stupid and not keeping up with their neighbors who are on the path to the American Dream. Other characteristics of an investment mania are a lot of borrowing, fraud at the tail end of the boom, questionable quality supply of whatever is in high demand, and then a crash.
Prior to the housing boom, the most recent financial bubble was the dot com/telecom craze of 1995-2000. Let’s compare the two:
DOT COM & TELECOM
Public Participation: Enormous numbers of day traders.
Borrowing: Huge margin debt and massive corporate spending on technology.
Fraud: Illegal IPO allocation, fraudulent accounting, and now back dating of stock options. Just think of Enron and Worldcom.
Questionable Supply: Junk companies going public in which most of them failed.
Crash: NASDAQ dropped 80%
Public Participation: Large numbers of condo flippers and investor/speculators.
Borrowing: Extraordinary amount of mortgage lending much of which is highly risky given the repayment terms and interest rate risk.
Fraud: Widespread appraisal fraud and false information provided on loan applications encouraged by shady mortgage brokers. Massive accounting irregularities by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
Questionable Supply: Massive numbers of condo conversions of basic apartments and a large amount of new condo construction.
Crash: Housing prices are falling rapidly in areas that have experienced great appreciation, inventory is exploding, and new home sales have dropped 25% from its peak.
Supply and demand are out of balance. Second home buyers and speculators are no longer buying. In many cases they are selling. Inventory of new and existing homes for sale is at a record level and it is taking longer and longer to sell homes.
Almost all are in the old Confederacy, Border States, or the Mountain West. One of the problems with the NE and Rust Belt economies is the cost of doing business - and getting power in depth. Want the South and West to keep growing at your expense - keep your power infrastructure old, expensive and uncompetitive.
Hey Bubblehead - a few are heading your way.
Saturday, March 24, 2007
This is what happens when you refuse to believe that your culture is better than others, and you are afraid of being called names. This also validated a Salamander maxim: never trust a woman with a 1st generation hyphenated name.
A German judge has stirred a storm of protest by citing the Koran in turning down a German Muslim woman’s request for a speedy divorce on the ground that her husband beat her.Could the Judge be afraid for her life?
In a ruling that underlines the tension between Muslim customs and European laws, the judge, Christa Datz-Winter, noted that the couple came from a Moroccan cultural milieu, in which it is common for husbands to beat their wives. The Koran, she wrote in her decision, sanctions such physical abuse.
In a statement defending her ruling, Judge Datz-Winter noted that she had ordered the man to move out and put a restraining order on him. But she also cited the verse in the Koran that speaks of a husband’s prerogatives in disciplining his wife. And she suggested that the wife’s Western lifestyle would give her husband grounds to claim his honor had been compromised.
Judge Datz-Winter herself narrowly avoided injury 10 years ago in a case involving a man and woman whose relationship had come apart. When the man shot up her courtroom, the judge escaped by diving under her desk.You think?
German papers have suggested that that ordeal may have affected her judgment in this case, which the spokesman denied.
The sad part here is that women of Muslim extraction are going to suffer.
For some, the greatest damage done by this episode is to other Muslim women suffering from domestic abuse. Many are already afraid of going to court against their spouses. There have been a string of so-called honor killings here, in which Turkish Muslim men have murdered women.One day there will be a split in the Left where those whose primary concern are the equal rights of women will come and join us on the right. Western Civilization is the home of women's rights. Only the right is making an effort to defend the West. Come home, you might be shocked that many of us on the right share 80% of the values you do. 80% is good enough for friends.
“For Muslim men, this is like putting oil on a fire, that a German judge thinks it is O.K. for them to hit their wives,” said Michaela Sulaika Kaiser, the head of a group that counsels Muslim women.
And from our buddy Ragnar; if you are Canadian you get this.
"This is a warning to Tarek Fatah and Farzana Hassan and to all the members of your Munafiq (Apostate) organization. Wa Allah al-Azeem (In the name of God who is great), I swear… on all 99 names of Allah, if you do not cease from your campaign of smearing Islam...Wa Allahi, Wa Allahi, Wa Allahi, (by God, by God, by God), I will slaughter all of you."Finally, to round out your Multi-Cultural moment - I give you via LGF a cartoon from Germany about the Judge's decision that you would never see in a U.S. newspaper.
Oh, it’s a custom from the old country?! Why didn’t you say so!
Now all you old Cold Warriors will say, "Hey, those look like Romeos.." Well, that is what a Ming is; by a fashion - though these have a more "modern" paint job. Click the image for higher res.
My thoughts? Mmmmmm, the thing on the sail looks like something ESM or COM related. Don't think it is radar due to the obvious dead spot - and I think the flow noise would take out anything acoustic.
The long tube like addition on the side, I would put my money on something related to an acoustic thingy-bob. For ref in their older paint jobs and configurations, here are some Mings to look at, and here.
Friday, March 23, 2007
That being said - the things people will trade for domestic politics is a shock to see. This time, the WaPo and I are on the same page.
The Democrats claim to have a mandate from voters to reverse the Bush administration's policy in Iraq. Yet the leadership is ready to piece together the votes necessary to force a fateful turn in the war by using tactics usually dedicated to highway bills or the Army Corps of Engineers budget. The legislation pays more heed to a handful of peanut farmers than to the 24 million Iraqis who are living through a maelstrom initiated by the United States, the outcome of which could shape the future of the Middle East for decades.Hat tip PowerLine.
Me, I like reading Mohammed and Omar's reports to start with. Looking at things on Eastern Standard Time - Rich Lowry makes some very good points.
WHEN President Bush announced a surge of troops into Baghdad in January, Democrats pounded him for the folly of putting U.S. troops in the "middle of a civil war." Two months later, the question is, What happens to a civil war if only one side shows up to fight it?There is the background - here is the reason.
The Shia militias that had become the main driver of violence in Baghdad are ducking and covering. Militia leader Muqtada al-Sadr is in hiding, perhaps in Iran. His fighters aren't resisting U.S. troops who have begun conducting patrols in his stronghold of Sadr City. According to Gen. Dave Petraeus, 700 members of Sadr's Mahdi Army have been detained in recent months.
The other side of the Iraqi civil war - the car-bombing Sunni terrorists - hasn't stood down, of course. But these are the people that Democrats express a notional interest in fighting.
So the Democrats profess to want to fight terrorists in Iraq, and al Qaeda in Iraq is making Baghdad its focus. It would stand to reason, then, that the Democrats wouldn't want to undermine our effort to control Baghdad. Our counterinsurgency mission there is a counterterrorism mission. It aims to squeeze out terrorists, neighborhood by neighborhood.
Nonetheless, Democrats in the House and Senate are attempting to force our troops from Baghdad, exactly as al Qaeda in Iraq wants. There is an essential symmetry to the goals of Sunni militants and Democrats here at home with regard to the disposition of our forces - the fewer, the farther away from Baghdad, the better (needless to say, for vastly different reasons). In reporting on al Qaeda in Iraq's strategy, The New York Times notes, "American forces, instead of withdrawing from the capital as the Sunni insurgents had hoped, prepared plans to reinforce their troops there." Over the strenuous objections of Democrats.
Each side of the domestic debate concerning the Iraq War tends to get stuck in its own self-reinforcing narratives. For Bush and supporters of the war, it was a narrative of success. Negative developments were chalked up as the inevitable difficulties of any war, amplified by the liberal media. Bush broke out of that narrative to order the change of strategy that is the surge.I'll accept the faults of my narrative, as defined here. Do you?
For Democrats, it is the narrative of defeat. Even as the civil war has de-escalated somewhat in Iraq -weakening the force of the Democrats' favorite "middle of a civil war" sound bite - and even as the surge has elevated the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq - the enemy that Democrats say they want to defeat - Democratic opposition to the surge has only intensified. Will they oppose it even more if it continues to work?
The Vagasil Award.
She said she was humiliated and nearly driven out of military service, and 11 Investigates soon found many women claiming they suffered sexual discrimination in the Texas Air National Guard.Go here for the video and background story. You have to watch the video.
she said the instructors didn’t appreciate women asking questions.
“Saying perhaps I’m a very intelligent individual, but I might lack common sense,” she said.
So they decided to teach her a very public lesson.
“It was the most embarrassing thing I’d ever been through in my entire life,” Staff Sgt. Harrison said.
What happened? It’s called the Vagisil award, a crown presented to her in front of her peers and leaders of the entire camp. It had a Vagisil label and military fatigues pasted on it.
It’s a crown a group of instructors forced the young woman to wear along with other things.
“A plastic garbage bag around my neck as if it was cape,” she said.
We have young graduates of self-esteem education; a retired Col. who is a major "E! Fashion Emergency" - and one ingredient that makes any story fun - Rep. S.J. Lee (D-TX).
What has everyone's panties in a wad?
11 News has discovered the guard’s investigation of the incident may just add insult to injury, overseen by a commanding general of the air guard.Where were the Texans when we needed them after Tailhook? I haven't been able to look at a Rhino since.
It concludes Staff Sgt. Harrison “was not publicly humiliated during the presentation of the Vagisil Queen Award.”
Hat tip Sid.
This one goes out to Eagle1 for a great snag. Civilians for Fullbore?
Hey, you go out in your bug-smasher VFR at under a hundred knots against a U-boat.
About the middle of May, 1942, "Doc" Rinker and his observer, Tom Manning, spotted a Nazi submarine stuck in the sand in shallow water just offshore from Cape Canaveral, Florida. "Doc" frantically radioed our West Palm Beach base to contact any military base that had a bomber with bombs, and dispatch it immediately. West Palm Beach, a Ferry Command base, didn't have any bombers with bombs. "Ike" Vermillya, our West Palm Beach base commander, got on the phone and called Banana River Naval Air Station and Tampa. Neither had a plane with bombs available at the time. The United States was truly caught short and unprepared. Most armed military aircraft were in Europe and Africa, fighting the Nazi Axis, or in the Pacific fighting the Japanese.Because they were civilians - if they were shot down engaging a U-boat and captured, they would be considered guerrillas (AKA unlawful combatants) and could - rightfully - be shot on sight. They knew that.
A bomber with depth charges was finally located at the Jacksonville Naval Air Station and dispatched to Cape Canaveral. But several hours had elapsed since the Nazi sub had been located, and by the time the Navy bomber arrived, the sub had freed itself from the sand in the shallow water and had disappeared in to the deep sea.
Everyone was furious to think that the trapped enemy "water snake" had escaped simply because of a lack of fire-power.
Ike Vermillya personally knew General "Hap" Arnold, National Commander of the U.S. Army Air Forces. "Ike" immediately phoned "Hap" and told him the sad story. To say "Hap" was also furious is to put it mildly. "Hap" yelled, "Ike, start gettin' those little Civil Air Patrol planes armed with bombs, even if you have to throw th' damned bombs outa 'th' WINDOWS!"
National C.A.P. headquarters was immediately faced with a dilemma.
"How th' hell are we gonna' hang bombs on small three- and four-place civilian planes with fragile airframes?"
Some Civil Aeronautics Administration airworthiness inspechttp://www2.blogger.com/img/gl.link.giftors were contacted and figured out how bomb racks could be installed under the bellies of the planes, and how much stress the frames of different types of planes could take.
Little three-place Stinson Voyagers with 90 horsepower engines were each to be fitted to carry one 100pound demolition bomb. My Rearwin was to be similarly fitted. Four-place Fairchilds were to be fitted to carry two 100- pound bombs, and Stinson Reliants were selected to carry one approximately 100- pound depth-charge each, but the bottom fin of the depth-charge would have to be sawed off to clear the runway on take-offs and landings.
Two lengths of bailin' wire were attached to the bombs and depth-charges. The wires came up through the floor, and yellow and red handgrips were attached. I the observer pulled a RED handle, the arming pin was pulled; and when the YELLOW handle was pulled, the bomb or charge would be dropped.
Thursday, March 22, 2007
George P. Bush, the son of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush and nephew of President Bush, has been selected as one of 15 prospective ensigns for the Navy Reserves intelligence unit.
Lt. Cmdr. Bill Schroeder of the Navy Reserve Intelligence Command in Fort Worth said Wednesday that once Bush and the other members of the Class of 2007 are sworn in later this year they will go through a two-week officer indoctrination school, a year of Navy basic intelligence training and be assigned to Navy reserve intelligence units close to their homes.
Sometimes when you find yourself in a huge mess, like we do with LCS, you need to go back to where you started. From back when it was still called a Streetfighter, read this.
While it’s anyone's guess as to what a Streetfighter might look like, Mahnken says a platform like the Visby, a Swedish Navy corvette, is promising. Delivered by Kockums AB (whose parent is Germany’s Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft) in June 2000, the Visby is the first of six 73 m corvettes that incorporate the latest stealth technology. The vessel’s lightweight hull, which is made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic, has large, flat angled surfaces, which results in a very favorable reflection of radar waves. Additionally, air defense systems and other types of sensors are concealed behind specially designed hatches within the hull, further minimizing the vessel's radar signature. A highly adaptable, the Visby Class can fill many roles that would otherwise require the procurement of several mission-specific platforms. It can be outfitted for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), Anti-Surface Warfare (AsuW), mine countermeasures and patrol.And cost? We are already pushing $400 billion+ without Mission Modules. Remember where we were?
Propulsion for the Visby is supplied by four gas turbines, rated at 16,000 kW total at high speed operation, and two diesel engines, rated at 2,600 kW total, for low speed operation. The engines are connected to two gearboxes that drive a pair of waterjets. Top speed is in excess of 35 knots.
Each LCS hull must cost no more than $220 million, in 2005 dollars. The “objective cost,” the price the Navy wishes for, is $150 million.Let's take a deep breath. Where did we go wrong? First, the 45+ knot requirement made the cost spike and required a lot of engineering work that costs lots of money and tradeoffs in other areas. 35 knots is more than fine. Then we forgot multi-mission and went modular. We went from a "nice to have but not must have" CEC (Combined Engagement Capability" into the fuzzy "distributed and networked." Then we went from onboard to offboard weapons. It all cascaded from there.
So, that is where we started. Why the Visby now? Well for starters, it is there and available - heck they even have a Visby+ in the works if you want a larger ship.
The cost is right ($180-250 million depending on what source you access).
I sure like the engineering plant.
Vericor Power Systems announced that the first Swedish Navy Visby-class stealth corvette was recently launched powered by four TF50A marine aeroderivative gas turbines in a Combined Diesel Or Gas (CODOG) turbine configuration.The Visby as it may not be quite what we want - but the Visby+ as described may be. That PDF is nice as it gives you a solid overview (with pictures) of the Visby's constuction. Composites are a big part. Personally, I like things any HT can repair, but the pluses may outweight the minuses. For reference and review, I recommend this lecture from U.C. Davis.
Vericor Power Systems provided the TF50A propulsion packages that are used as the main propulsion system along with two MTU 16V 2000 N90 diesel engines. Honeywell Engines and Systems in Phoenix, Ariz., manufactured the TF50A gas turbines.
Before I forget about it - another thing that we keep overlooking WRT the LCS - let's just be honest here in the family. We need new "Destroyer Tenders" to do this right. I was reminded of that, and other "issues" on this guy's post. Worth a read as well.
Sometimes you can't let the perfect be the enemy of the good. To paraphrase General Patton; a many good ships on station now are better than a few perfect that may or may not be on station in 10 years - or even perfect.
The Visby could use RAM or such, but unlike the Legoland LCS concept, the Visby comes to the fight with everything else she needs.
* Bofors 57 mm/70 SAK Mk3Review the Visby in more detail here and here, and then tell me if you have a better idea inside the LCS concept (NB: I like Frigates better - but lets stick with the LCS/Corvette concept).
* 8 × RBS15 Mk2 AShM
* 4 × 400 mm tubes for Type 43/45 torpedoes
* ASW mortars
* mines (as needed)
Another thought; imagine if we had bought a production run of 6 Visby. Forward deploy them to, I don't know, Japan. Validate the concept. Know what works - then if you want, build a flight of new construction design if the Visby does not fit the bill. If we did that in ~2000 - right now those ships would be on station in the Northwest Pacific or even the Persian/Arabian Gulf. We used to do things that way.
Heck, we could have gone cheap and built the Skjold. Anyway, we should get moving - some people are already using our PPT paintjobs.
The Iraqi Navy, that is.
The Iraqi Navy will soon add 21 vessels to its fleet, putting it another step closer to being operationally independent, officials said during a Baghdad news conference Sunday.Ok, different scale than an Army...but give credit where credit is due.
With a contract on the verge of completion, the Iraqi Navy is the first of the Iraq’s forces to use the Ministry of Defense’s procurement process with Iraqi money in purchasing major capital programs from foreign governments and commercial ventures.
“The Iraqi Navy has come a long way since the end of the hostilities,” United States Navy Capt. Michael Zamesnik, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command liaison officer to Multi-National Force-Iraq, said “They were an organization that had been ravaged by the effects of the war, and they are making great strides to rebuild themselves.”
Zamesnik said that the Iraqi Navy force was making positive steps and continuing to grow in the areas of equipment, training, manning and procurement. Iraqi naval installations are going under massive modernization efforts to build roads, utilities and barracks in addition to the reconstruction of piers to support the incoming vessels, he said. By 2010, 15 patrol boats, four patrol ships, and two off-shore support vessels will be added to the current fleet of fast attack boats and Predator-class ships.
I like this quote.
“Any navy in the world would be proud to have an acquisition program that increases capability by that amount within such a short time scale,” Marshall said.Ahem.
Hey, they have Marines as well, it seems.
The performance of the Iraqi Navy and Marines is “actually very good,” British Navy Capt. Tony Radakin, commander of the Naval Transition Team at Umm Qasr Naval Base said.
Radakin attributed the recent decrease in piracy and oil smuggling in area waterways to current navy efforts. He also said that the heightened visibility of the navy has created safe waterways for the major commercial ports, which led to quadrupled increases in port revenues.
According to Globalsecurity.org, the Iraqi Navy is currently designed for coastal water protection, stopping the smuggling of people, oil and weapons, and to protect the countries oil platforms.
“The Iraqi Navy is a story of success,” Zamesnik said. “They’ve done a very solid job of rebuilding. I know it will continue, along with Coalition assistance.”
Do African immigrants make the smartest Americans? The question may sound outlandish, but if you were judging bystatistics alone, you could find plenty of evidence to back it up.Yes, yes and yes. Race does, and should not, have anything to do with it. Someone needs to staple this the head of your nearest Diversity Bully.
In a side-by-side comparison of 2000 census data by sociologist John R. Logan at the Mumford Center, State University of New York at Albany, black immigrants from Africa average the highest educational attainment of any population group in the country, including whites and Asians.
For example, 43.8 percent of African immigrants had achieved a college degree, compared to 42.5 of Asian Americans, 28.9 percent for immigrants from Europe, Russia and Canada, and 23.1 percent of the U.S. population as a whole.
Walter Benn Michaels, a professor of English at the University of Illinois at Chicago, writes in his book "The Trouble With Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality," the original intent of affirmative action morphed back in the 1970s from reparations for slavery into the promotion of a broader virtue: "diversity." Since then, it no longer seems to matter how many of your college's black students had slavery in their families. It only matters that they are black.
But I also think we need to revisit the meaning of "diversity." Unlike our current system of feel-good game-playing, we need to focus on the deeper question of how education can be improved and opportunities opened up to those who were left behind by the civil rights revolution.
We tend to look too often at every aspect of diversity except economic class. Yet, the dream of upward mobility is an essential part of how we Americans like to think of ourselves.
It's also why a lot more people are trying to get into this country than trying to get out.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
Joe Sestak (D-PA) is facing an intense attack of sorts by the Philly Jews to back down from his commitment to speak at a CAIR dinner.Yes? More, oh Ceasar!
It boggles the mind as to how hateful these synagogue attendees are towards CAIR, just because CAIR ( /Muslims) don’t support Israel’s state-terrorism.CAIR represents Muslims like the German-American Bund represented Eisenhower, Nimitz, and Spaatz.
What started it all was former RADM Sestak's (hey, someone has to remind him he isn't a VADM) foray into a large gathering of my new tribe.
Q:Why do you conflate Muslim constituents with CAIR. You are making it harder for Muslim moderates.Good for those who voted for you, R & D, or just the Democrat Party? There is a good deal more here.
A: Asks what conflate means. When he speaks to CAIR he will say as he always does that Israel is a staunch ally and Hamas is wrong. CAIR, like the organizations of many new immigrants, is trying to break in to politics, into the Democratic Party. Two Muslims who volunteered for him at the 69th street station told him not to go to the event or they were afraid he would not be reelected in two years.
And what was said as well? Mmmmm, this isn't how I remember it.
He said that he would have stayed in the Navy longer but got into the political race because of his daughter’s health.That is worth an investigation or two by his hometown newspaper (Washington DC area).
On a second note; PowerLine has this gem.
Sestak also said CAIR was a “legitimate organization” and singled out their “good work” in fighting racial profiling.Nice.
I'm just asking - Skippy is the SME here.
Kelly George, a U.S. Air Force second lieutenant and deputy chief of Public Affairs at Little Rock AFB, Ark., competed in Hollywood, Calif., March 19 in the preliminary rounds of the Miss USA contest. The Miss USA contest will air live on NBC March 23 at 8 p.m. CST. Kelly George was selected as Miss Arkansas USA Oct. 28.Hi res here LBG.
Hat tip John at MilBlogs.
The U.S. Government Accountability Office on Thursday recommended that the Pentagon limit production of costly F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to 24 annually in the near-term until the jet's capabilities have been demonstrated in flight testing.Smart move by the GAO. We are talking LMT.
Lockheed Martin Corp. is the prime contractor for the supersonic, radar-evading jet being developed by the United States and eight international partners.
"We are recommending that the Secretary of Defense limit annual production quantities to no more than 24 aircraft per year, the current manufacturing capacity, until each variant's basic flying qualities have been demonstrated in flight testing now scheduled in the 2010 time frame," the report said.
That being said, I believe the F-35 is a much more mature program than LCS - in a variety of ways. There will be the expected cost over-runs and problems - but I think this program will be inside "norms," however, the report does give me pause.
You can read the full report here. This is the money quote.
Accurately predicting JSF costs and schedule and ensuring sufficient funding will likely be key challenges facing the program in the future. JSF continues to pursue a risky acquisition strategy that concurrently develops and produces aircraft. While some concurrency may be beneficial to efficiently transition from development to production, the degree of overlap is significant on this program. Any changes in design and manufacturing that require modifications to delivered aircraft or to tooling and manufacturing processes would result in increased costs and delays in getting capabilities to the warfighter.While we are talking about the F-35, can I vent again? Did you know the USN and USMC versions (F-35B/C) do NOT have an internal gun? At least the USAF remembers the lessons of Vietnam and the F-4. Heck, the Boys in Blue only have to have a short term memory for that. The 20mm cannon on our fighters is proving, again, to be critical in counterinsurgency, CAS, and minimal collateral damage strikes. Read all about it.
Catch up on your Fred reading here.
Like my old RMCS said the the RMs (I miss that rate) before going on liberty in Souda Bay in the 90s (almost) "Now; go get your Fred on!"
Hat tip IFF.
But has a single commander ever made much of a difference in almost instantly turning around an entire theater?Big boots General. Big boots.
...in almost every war, on occasion a single general can so radically change the pulse of the battlefield that a political victory becomes possible where once the public thought it was utterly improbable.
Tuesday, March 20, 2007
As earlier mentioned in the comments section, my mother is in the hospital. The doctor says that right now they're just making her comfortable. She's sedated, with painkillers among other things. Lungs collapsed so right now we just want to make sure she has dignity and is not in pain. The doctor says she has a couple days left. I want to thank all her readers for reading this blog, her friends for supporting her who made up "Team Cathy." Through you all, I learned what a true friend was. I'm at her bedside now, holding her hand. I tell her she has 292 comments on the latest blog post..her last but she just squeezes my hand. She was very happy with this blog. In honor of her, if you can...support the American Lung Cancer Society and or adopt stray dogs and cats from the pound. Those were her causes. Thank you all so much. Will keep everyone posted.Cathy and I are about the same age. She will leave us too soon. Way too soon. Godspeed to Cathy, her daughter and all that know her.
I do not like modern art - especially ugly public modern art - but for this I will make an exception.
Friends and fans of the Dutch filmmaker found dead with a note pinned to his chest with a knife unveiled a memorial sculpture Sunday that depicts him screaming near the spot where he was murdered by an Islamic extremist.
Mayor Job Cohen and a Dutch comedian praised the controversial Theo Van Gogh and his work as the sculpture by Jeroen Henneman was revealed to hundreds of people gathered at a park in eastern Amsterdam.
Titled "The Scream," the memorial took the form of a series of profiles of Van Gogh in stainless steel-coated ceramics, showing the film maker gradually opening his mouth into a scream.
“Immigration is probably a more powerful issue here than almost anyplace that I’ve been,” Mr. McCain said after a stop in Cedar Falls.This is a "Doh!" moment for a Republican who want the nom in '08.
As he left Iowa, Mr. McCain said he was reconsidering his views on how the immigration law might be changed. He said he was open to legislation that would require people who came to the United States illegally to return home before applying for citizenship, a measure proposed by Representative Mike Pence, Republican of Indiana. Mr. McCain has previously favored legislation that would allow most illegal immigrants to become citizens without leaving the country.
On Saturday morning in Des Moines, Mr. Brownback stood for 30 minutes at a breakfast with Republicans as question after question — without exception — was directed at an immigration system that Iowans denounced as failing. “These people are stealing from us,” said Larry Smith, a factory owner from Truro and a member of the central committee of the state Republican Party.
Finally, Mr. Brownback, with a slight smile, inquired, “Any other topics that people want to talk about?”
“What are you going to do with illegal immigrants who come here and become criminals?” demanded Jodi Wohlenhaus, a Republican homemaker who lives outside Des Moines.
Mr. McCain, for example, appeared to distance himself from Senator Edward M. Kennedy, the Massachusetts Democrat with whom he formed an alliance last year on an immigration bill that stalled in Congress.You think? Could it be that most of them remember that in '65 Kennedy was responsible for the bucket-of-FOD system we have now? Do you?
“What I’ve tried to point out is we couldn’t pass the legislation,” Mr. McCain said. “So we have to change the legislation so it can pass. And I’ve been working with Senator Kennedy, but we’ve also been working with additional senators, additional House members.”
Mr. McCain focused instead on the proposal by Mr. Pence, a conservative. “Pence has this touchback proposal,” Mr. McCain said at a news conference. “I said hey, let’s consider that if that’s a way we can get some stuff.”
Mr. McCain’s aides said his identification with Mr. Kennedy accounted for much of his political problem on the issue with conservatives.
Like my Grandfather might have said...Yowza!
Models display creations from the St Even collection during the Fabulosos 80's fashion week in Medellin March 15, 2007. Picture taken March 15, 2007. REUTERS/Fredy Amariles (COLOMBIA)I will sponsor her green card. Again, this is one area where America is, sadly, behind Latin America. Yes, I will take our immigrants over Europe's from North Africa any day!
Mike, eat your heart out.
Like his peers, he too is a product of a sycophantic culture and a promotion system that rewards unconditional obedience to whatever the boss wants.Col. Douglas Macgregor, USA (Ret.). He writes for the Straus Military Reform Project at the Center for Defense Information in Washington D.C.
Monday, March 19, 2007
The headline speaker for the German-American Bund...errr...damblit I did it again....I mean C.A.I.R.
Freshman Rep. Joe Sestak (D-Pa.) has ignited a controversy after agreeing to be the keynote speaker at an April 7 banquet and fundraiser hosted by the Council on American-Islamic Relations Philadelphia chapter.Shame. Show you know how to handle a rookie mistake and withdrawal from the "banquet." If not, sobeit. The election is in under 20 months.
CAIR is the largest Muslim civil rights group in the country, with 30 chapters nationwide. Jewish organizations and conservative groups have criticized CAIR for not labeling Hamas and Hezbollah as terrorist organizations, and for not speaking out specifically against suicide bombings against Israelis.
Sestak’s acceptance of the invitation has particularly enraged members of the Philadelphia Jewish community, who bombarded him with critical questions at a forum last week. Most of the questions during the two-hour meeting dealt with the CAIR fundraiser.
According to Rabbi Lisa Malik, whose synagogue co-sponsored the forum, the event nearly was canceled after word of Sestak’s appearance at CAIR’s function leaked out. When the congressman did speak, he had to field a barrage of tough questions from the audience at the Jewish Community Center in Havertown, PA. Protesters gathered outside.
“I don’t think he came across looking that good. A lot of his answers came across as very wishy-washy,” said Malik. “He had the opportunity to become a hero. I was hoping after hearing everyone’s complaints, he would cancel his appearance at the CAIR function or at least reconsider it.”
He is, as is his nature though, letting his ego dig his hole deeper.
One of the featured speakers at the event is Muslim activist Rafael Narbaez, who has made a number of controversial comments about Israel in the past. During a July 2006 speech at a Detroit mosque, Narbaez said the Zionists have “the same racist ideology that the Nazis of Germany had.”"Truth to power?" Huh? "...has not seen...?" Huh? I don't know, maybe check here, here, here, here and here for starters.
The brouhaha began two weeks ago when Sestak’s outreach coordinator, Adeeba Al-Zaman, booked the congressman for an event his aides presented as a banquet. But CAIR’s Philadelphia chapter put out fliers billing the congressman as the featured speaker at a fundraiser. Al-Zaman is the former director of communications for CAIR’s Philadelphia chapter.
Upon receiving complaints, Sestak insisted that he wouldn’t speak unless he was the only speaker and was disassociated from the fundraising portion of the event. CAIR responded by advertising Sestak’s speech as part of a “banquet” while other featured speakers and entertainment would be listed under the fundraiser. Despite the changes, attendees still need to pay $50 to attend the banquet and hear Sestak speak.
Sestak said he would not cancel because more than 200 of his constituents would be in the audience. He also said he would criticize CAIR in his speech, and tell them they need to more explicitly condemn terrorism.
“The easiest thing to do was to cancel, but I don’t think it’s the right thing to do,” Sestak said. “The best way forward is to take advantage of this to speak, and to speak truth to power. And to speak directly and candidly of what I believe.”
Sestak said he will reiterate his “strong support for Israel” and criticize the terrorist groups in his speech. He added that he hasn’t seen any instance where CAIR has specifically singled out Hamas and Hezbollah for criticism.
At this point, anything but walking away is CYA. Period.
Hat tip LGF.
Good luck Admiral, the Fleet is counting on you. Very important institution, very important billet, a lot of work to do to make this what it is; a service academy that exists to produce Navy Officers. Period.
A quote from General George S. Patton comes to mind.
Do your duty as you see it, and damn the consequences.
Then there is the Gore zinc mine. Mr. Gore has personally earned $570,000 in zinc royalties from a mine his father bought in 1973 from Armand Hammer, the business executive famous for his close friendship with the Soviet Union and for pleading guilty to making illegal campaign contributions during Watergate. One the same day Al Gore Sr. bought the 88-acre parcel from Hammer for $160,000, he sold the land and subsurface mining rights to his then 25-year-old son for $140,000. The mineral rights were then leased back to Hammer's Occidental Petroleum and the royalty payments put in the names of Al Gore Jr. and his wife, Tipper.Harumph. Checkbook in the Balance; perhaps?
It will be a low cost, highly flexible, fully networked ship.Oops.
However - this is not just a cheerleader publication. You will find in here some very pointed questions that demand answers. From what we have seen about LCS in the last month, these questions are being asked - or, as the case may be - we have reached the point in the program that you simply cannot hide and "Happy Talk" things anymore.
Like I said, this a good read - and if you are not familiar with the ideas behind the LCS concept of operations - it is a good primer - not that I agree with all of its conjecture. On top of it all, Ymarsakar was on to something with the Lego comment.
Simply put, modularity means the creation of interchangeable components or parts of a complex system linked together to perform desired tasks or missions through a set of common standards and interfaces. The popular image is of the children’s toy known as Legos, a set of blocks and components of different shapes and sizes that the builder can link together by means of a common interface to make complex objects.You can't make this stuff up.
I mentioned the pointed questions. Having read them a few times I have come to the conclusion that this is a very damning article - but it is written in a way to be nice and political. What is your take? Here are the points I found that just blow a hole in the program; questions many have been asking for years.
However, in order to realize the true value of modularity, the Navy must fund future spirals even as it is deploying the first ships and modules based on current designs and technology.(NB: hundreds of millions more per hull)
LCS modularity also embraces new approaches to unit support and logistics. To most effectively exploit a flexible configuration, LCSs must be capable of rapid exchange of mission modules. Such an exchange must be conducted forward, requiring in turn, the forward positioning both of additional modules and module specialists. Arrangements will have to be made to allow for forward deployment and storage of mission modules. It is possible that sea basing of support services and additional modules will prove an effective means of supporting rapid mission evolution. Consideration is being given also to underway exchange of mission modules. Because of the reduced manning, additional capabilities to conduct forward maintenance probably will be required.(Read: big tail) Manning and training presents another challenge for the LCS program.
It is important also to recognize that the traditional approach to acquiring ships and sizing the Fleet is no longer sustainable. The results have been skyrocketing costs, a declining force structure, inadequate recapitalization and lengthy technology refresh rates. New approaches are required. Lessons learned from the LCS program, together with those acquired on the DDG 1000 should be applied widely in the Fleet. Indeed, if the LCS program proves itself, modularity should become the template for the design of future classes of warships. There is no reason why larger vessels cannot be constructed employing the basic principles of modularity demonstrated in LCS.
• The Naval Research Advisory Committee report on science and technology for modular systems concluded that the process of implementing modular systems required that a taxonomy of modularity be defined and that, in particular, the Navy needs to develop a systems analysis capability for complex, interactive capabilities. It is not clear whether sufficient capability is resident in both the Navy and the private sector.
• A singular benchmark for LCS success is the design and integration of mission modules. The program must be able to demonstrate that a modular open architecture can be created. It must establish the standard interfaces that will create a baseline for development of follow-on systems to be deployed in subsequent spirals.
• Second only to modularity is connectivity. Not only must the modules perform as intended — once integrated with the sea frame — but they must also connect with other ships of the LCS squadron, with off-board sensors, with the rest of the Fleet and with joint and combined forces.
• In the medium and long term, the LCS program will only be successful operationally and in terms of impact on acquisition and sustainment, if exacting configuration control is maintained.
• In addition to demonstrating the feasibility of modularity, the utility of both sea frame designs and the operational value of LCS, the Navy also needs to adapt its manning and training procedures and systems to reflect the LCS’s many unique features.
• The Navy will have to reorganize or modify its support activities to meet the unique characteristics of the LCS. The traditional approach to fleet sustainment will not be adequate for an LCS squadron. First, there will be the need to forward base sets of different mission modules and associated mission crews. Because of the small size of the LCS crew, additional maintenance requirements will fall on intermediate facilities.
• Finally, how the LCS will be employed is subject to some uncertainty. Advocates expect that once it is deployed, the LCS will help to promote the development by the Navy of a CONOPS for distributed, networked forces. The program is intended to allow the Flight 0 LCS to be deployed with the Fleet, in part, as a learning exercise.
Because of the reduced crew size, each individual member of the crew will be filling an essential billet. The loss of even a few crew people could significantly degrade ship operations. In addition, the LCS goal of being able to rapidly swap out modules in response to changes in missions will require rapid change out of mission personnel and the equally swift recertification of both ship and crew for the new mission. (what rapid turnaround?)
Finally, a basic element of the LCS program is rapid technology refresh through a program of measured spirals. However, the Navy has not funded future spirals. This is a mistake. Funding needs to be provided to ensure that improvements can be made to mission modules and more advanced technology inserted.
Sid has a good suggestion. It might also be good to go back to 2002 and look at "The 4 questions."
In order to stimulate thinking, participants at the March 2002 workshop were asked four questions that examined the reasons the littoral combat ship program sprang to life.I still like #3.
Question 1. Is the littoral combat ship a mission/capabilities focused frigate or corvettesized ship optimized for littoral environments?
Question 2. Is the littoral combat ship a very small displacement, advanced technology vessel?
Question 3. Is the littoral combat ship an answer looking for a question?
Question 4. Is the littoral combat ship a set of access capabilities that can be addressed by several types of surface ships/vessels, or by platforms other than ships?