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Saturday, 26 August 2017

India’s Maritime Aspirations: Zone Defence and a Bubble

Written by Periklis Stampoulis *

India’s maritime “destiny” was early cited by K.M. Panikkar, an Indian diplomat and influential scholar: “The vital feature which differentiates the Indian Ocean from the Atlantic or the Pacific is the sub-continent of India, which juts out far into the sea for a thousand miles. It is the geographical position of India that changes the character of the Indian Ocean...”[1].

Talwar class frigates of the Indian Navy in formation
By fulfilling its “destiny”, India bumps into Chinese regional interests. Attempting to expand its own interests, commercial activities and energy goods imports, the “String of Pearls” project, namely the construction of a web of naval infrastructure (ports and bases) throughout the IOR, has been issued. These activities along with the arms sales to IOR states cause fears of Chinese encirclement [2]. Moreover, China has already built and fully operates a military base in Djibouti and according to a U.S. Pentagon report “most likely will seek to establish additional military bases in countries with which it has a longstanding friendly relationship and similar strategic interests [3]”. Already, a naval base/logistics infrastructure has been built in Gwadar, Pakistan, and certain ports in the IOR, such as Hambantota in Sri Lanka [4] and Chittagong along with Sonadia [5] in Bangladesh provide amenities to Chinese Navy ships. Therefore, the best way of countering Chinese descent to the IOR is a strong Indian Navy.

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Saturday, 19 August 2017

Wonsan and Nampo minelayer classes of the Republic of Korea Navy

Written by D-Mitch

RoKS Nampo, world's most advanced minelayer today
Today, some of the most advanced and most capable modern minelayer classes belong to the Republic of Korea Navy (South Korean Navy). This is the Wonsan class and its evolution, the Nampo class, which will be analyzed thoroughly in this article. The first ship in the Nampo class, RoKS Nampo with the pennant number 570, was launched just recently by the Hyundai Heavy Industries (HHI), on 27th of May of 2017. It is not known yet how many ships in the class will follow exactly but at least three more ships are expected. The designation name of the class is Mine Layer Ship (MLS)-II following the previous sole ship and predecessor of the type, MLS-I type, the Wonsan (560), which was delivered to the Republic of Korea Navy in 1998. Initially, South Korea was planning to build three MLS-I ships but due to budget constraints of that time only one vessel was completed. Big, modern, heavily armed, multi-purpose ships, these are definitely the most well equipped minelayers in the world today proving that the minelayer designs have still future.


The two Korean minelayer classes
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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

BOOK REVIEW #2: The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn - The Untold Story of the American Revolution

Welcome to my second book review, The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn - The Untold Story of the American Revolution, by Robert P. Watson.

The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn
The Jersey Prison Ship as moored at
the Wallabout near Long Island, in 1782
This is the shocking and tragic yet largely-unknown story of the notorious HMS Jersey, an old rotting British warship that was used as a floating prison during the American Revolution. A carefully-researched story by Robert P. Watson focusing on the struggles of American prisoners imprisoned aboard that ship, that everyone should read it! Moored off the coast of Brooklyn, in the shallows of Wallabout Bay, until the end of the war, HMS Jersey was a living hell for thousands of Americans. A dreaded prison for American soldiers and sailors who were captured in the battle, crews of captured American privateers, which constituted the main population aboard the ships, and civilians suspected of supporting the colonial cause or refusing to swear an oath to the Crown. These unfortunate souls were incarcerated in the diseased and deadly holds of this large floating coffin whose dark and filthy appearance fitly represented death and despair.
 
Dr. Robert P. Watson, author of the book
Robert P. Watson, is a professor of history at Lynn University and has published over three dozen nonfiction books, two encyclopedia sets, three novels, and hundreds of scholarly journal articles, book chapters, and reference essays on topics in politics and history. His book The Presidents' Wives, Affairs of the State, and America's First Crisis, received the 2014 Gold Medal in History from the Independent Publishers' Association (IPPY). In his new book, which will be published on August 15th, the author explores one of the worst tragedies in American military history; a prison ship that the British believed would frighten patriots into submission. Revealing for the first time hundreds of accounts culled from old newspapers, long-lost diaries, and military reports, historian Robert P. Watson follows the lives and ordeals of the ship's few survivors, to tell the astonishing story of the ghost ship of the Revolutionary War that killed thousands of Americans and yet helped secure victory in the fight for independence. It is worth of mention that the ship's name had become notorious, an object for terror, bringing panic and nausea to those who knew that they were about to be incarcerated aboard that death ship. Others attempted suicide or tried to escape. Those who survived and later on released as well as the few fortunate ones who managed to escape wrote detailed narratives of the experience offering in that way a firsthand telling of the conditions aboard this floating dungeon. Their testimonies inspired the struggle for independence as newspapers everywhere described the horrors onboard the ship sparking a backlash of outrage throughout the colonies.
 
Prisoners aboard HMS Jersey. By Library of Congress
The author recalls and artfully describes the struggles that occurred on this ghost ship where roughly twice the total of American lives lost in combat during the entirety of the war, died in her holds! More than a thousand prisoners at a time were held aboard the HMS Jersey, the most infamous among the prisons ships, that earned the nickname “Hell Afloat” or simply “Hell”, for its inhumane conditions and the obscenely high death rate of its prisoners! Prisoners crammed below deck in a rat-infested ship designed once for 400 sailors, in complete darkness, breathing foul air and listening in the night the groans of the sick and dying while trying to rest with the fear of crazed men in the grip of disease or mental anguish due to the harsh conditions aboard this death ship. The deplorable conditions resulted in about to six to twelve men on average dying every day from diseases such as dysentery, smallpox, yellow fever and typhoid, of exposure to the cold or the suffocating heat, as well as from malnutrition, limited and polluted water and the brutal treatment by the cruel guards. One of the survivor said that no other ship in the British navy ever proved the means of the destruction of so many human beings! 

But this tragedy has largely forgotten. Americans who met martyr’s deaths in defense of their country. Forgotten patriots who did not bend the knee and chose the almost certain death instead of accepting the British offer to serve the Royal Navy after their capture. The vast majority of those brave men were never heard again. Lost without prayers, tears or stones. Wretched souls whose bodies just dumped unceremoniously into shallow, unmarked graves on the Brooklyn shoreline. Robert Watson, through his well-written book, one of the undeniably few books devoted to the subject of the British prison ships, ensures the memory of these American Patriots will never be forgotten.

I highly recommend this book not only to those who love history in general but to anyone who enjoy adventures and certainly to those who pursue to know more about interesting unheard stories and dark details from the United States War of Independence. It is an easy-to-read book as the author provides all the necessary background in order even somebody with limited knowledge about American Revolution, to be able to understand the background of the story. This is undoubtedly a book you won’t be able to put down! The Robert P. Watson’s The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: An Untold Story of the American Revolution is available as a hardback and eBook here.
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