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Friday, 30 September 2016

BOOK REVIEW #1: Gary Slaughter's Sea Stories - A Memoir of a Naval Officer (1956-1967)


Welcome to my first book review, Gary Slaughter’s Sea Stories - A Memoir of a Naval Officer (1956-1967)

Gary Slaughter's Sea Stories
When I got in my hands on the Sea Stories (released on Sep 4, 2016), my first thought was that this book was mainly about the Cuban Missile Crisis and the role of a former US naval officer before and after this dramatic event. But it wasn’t about that. More precisely, it was not only about that. The book was much more entertaining and interesting than I had in my mind based on the brief description on the book, the information available on author’s website or events that were highlighting this true episode. This is just one story emphasized in the book, one of the 60 (!) vignettes comprising the 298-page Sea Stories; motivational, uplifting stories and life lessons. Furthermore, stories that show new insights into everyday life on the Cold War front line and the life of a US Navy officer in the ‘60s.

But who is Gary Slaughter? Gary Slaughter served for eleven years in the US Navy as a midshipman (officer cadet) and naval officer. Following his distinguishing Navy service, he became an expert on managing corporate information technology. He traveled extensively, lecturing and consulting to clients in the United States and abroad. In 2002, he put his career on hold and began to write the Cottonwood series, five award-winning novels, depicting life in the US during World War II. During his naval career, he served aboard two of the three destroyers that surfaced soviet submarines during the Cuban Missile Crisis. The most significant moment during his naval career was his role in dissuading the Captain of a Soviet Foxtrot class submarine (B-59), from unleashing his T-5 nuclear torpedo which most certainly would have triggered a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and USA and their allies. This incident was the closest that the Soviet Union and the United States ever came to having an exchange of nuclear weapons. However, the event was classified as Top Secret under the terms of an agreement between Premier Khrushchev and President Kennedy that ended the crisis. Α dramatic story that was kept secret until 2002; thanks to the few men whose lips remained sealed for 40 years! The event was finally declassified when his story was revealed in Peter Huchthausen's 2002 book, October Fury. Since then, four documentary filmmakers sought Gary Slaughter's participation in developing a film to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis. He selected Bedlam Productions, whose movie, The King's Speech, won the 2010 Best Picture Academy Award. Fittingly, the Bedlam documentary was entitled The Man Who Saved the World. He was also interviewed and filmed for the BBC documentary, The Silent War.

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Thursday, 22 September 2016

The major surface combatants of the most powerful European Navies in 2030

Written by D-Mitch

In this article, I will describe briefly the future developments in the major surface combatant fleet of the five most powerful in Europe, the five navies that historically maintain and develop a strong naval fleet of very advanced warships. But what do we mean when we talk about surface combatant? According to the Office of Naval Research of the United States Navy, "..surface combatants (or surface ships or surface vessels) are a subset of naval warships which are designed for warfare on the surface of the water, with their own weapons. They are generally ships built to fight other ships, submarines or aircraft, and can carry out several other missions including counter-narcotics operations and maritime interdiction. Their primary purpose is to engage space, air, surface, and submerged targets with weapons deployed from the ship itself, rather than by manned carried craft.". The term is primarily used to mean any modern vessel type that is not a submarine; although a "surface ship" may range in size from a small cutter to a large cruiser, the largest surface combatant today in any Navy. 

Three major surface combatants of US
Navy in formation: the destroyer USS 
Buck
 (DD-761), battleship USS Wisconsin
(BB-64), and heavy cruiser USS Saint Paul
(CA-73) off the Korean coast in 1952.
The (once) major surface combatant
classes of the US Navy. By Jeff Head
Notice that I refer to the major surface combatants that includes the largest surface combatants, battleships and battlecruisers (outdated types of warships), cruisers (only few in the world), destroyers, frigates, and corvettes. Corvettes, if any (see below, Navies in 2016), that have downgraded to offshore patrol vessels or their equipment is limited (sensors and/or armament), therefore are suitable only for low-intensity conflicts, are excluded from the graph. This applies for the classes Minerva, Floreal, D'Estienne d'Orves and Descubierta. Non-surface combatants such as the attack and ballistic missile submarines are excluded. The same stands for the fast attack craft or gunboats. Of course those types of ships and boats can boost dramatically the capabilities of a naval force or even to discourage absolutely any naval battle if one of the naval opponent  have a ballistic missile submarine in its inventory.  This may sounds unfair for some traditional naval forces such as the Hellenic Navy or the Dutch Navy. The former has in its inventory 13 frigates but without any declared replacement plan for the future, 17 fast attack craft and 11 submarines of which the five (5) are some of the most advance in Europe. The latter has four (4) very modern anti-aircraft warfare frigates (equipped with 40-cell VLS), four (4) modern submarines but only two general purpose frigates. But as I mentioned in the introduction, this article focuses only on the front line surface combatants of the most powerful navies in the region and those Navies that have announced an ambitious shipbuilding program.

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Friday, 2 September 2016

The STIDD Diver Propulsion Devices (DPD) of the Turkish Navy

Written by D-Mitch

Two U.S. Marines of the MSPF operating a Diver Propulsion
Device (DPD). Photo: United States Marine Corps
In a recent a article by e-amyna titled The YUNUS Project for the defence of the Turkish  naval bases (in Greek language), the author analyzes the effectiveness of the YUNUS Project to defend the main naval bases and harbors of Turkey against surface and sub-surface threats. In the discussion that followed the article and in regard to the Greek Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs), a reader (kostaspgn) posted a nice video about the Sualtı Taarruz Grup Komutanlığı, the Turkish Underwater Offence Group Command, known also as SAT, which is the special operation unit of the Turkish Navy, based in the Foça Naval Base near İzmir, on the Aegean coast of Turkey and Istanbul. The missions of the Su Altı Taarruz (SAT) include the acquisition of military intelligence, special reconnaissance, direct action, counter-terrorism and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS) operations. They are trained and organized in a similar way to the U.S. Navy Seals who have close training relationships with them. In that video, for just two seconds, from 2:23 till 2:25, two SF divers use a STIDD Diver Propulsion Device (DPD) (many thanks to my friend, blogger and expert in the field of mini-subs, H.I. Sutton, for the recognition of the vehicle and of course kostaspgn who spotted first the device!). I should mention here that this article does not include any actual photo of the Turkish DPD, but I find useful to publish this article about the capabilities of this device as a follow-up from the Greek SDVs article. Therefore, I may say that the title is not the most accurate one. Some screenshots are following before the complete video.

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