Notes from around the Human Experience…
THIS IS DEFINITELY A VIOLATION OF REGULATIONS: What in theeee hell is going on here? For the second time in two months a United States Navy ship has been rammed by a civilian vessel. This time it was the USS John McCain (DDG-56) colliding with a Liberian-flagged chemical tanker off the coast of Singapore Monday morning.
Ten sailors are missing and five more are injured. This follows the ramming of the USS Fitzgerald by a civilian ship in June where seven sailors died. This is sad because the only reason ships collide at sea is when sailors aren’t doing what they should be doing.
Dry, Technical Matter: Singapore is a city-state located at the southern tip of Malaysia, which it was a part of until it gained independence in 1965. It is just north Indonesia, and a bit north of the equator. Its port is frequently visited by US Navy ships and the McCain was heading there after some routine ops in the western Pacific.
Back On Message: Why the McCain and the Alnic MC were in the same place at the same time Monday morning wasn’t immediately clear, and the Navy is opening their usual investigation into the matter. The cause of Fitzgerald collision is still under investigation, too, and if you expect either investigation to show the crew of either ship was acting in accordance with Navy regulations you are high. They weren’t.
Now Hear This: This should not be happening. We have significant street cred in this matter, having stood many a watch on the bridge of a US Navy ship and we know from experience it is supremely difficult for a Navy bridge properly staffed by trained sailors standing a proper watch to collide with another ship. Contacts would be visible from miles off with binoculars and even farther off via radar and sonar.
People were not paying attention. People were not following standard procedures. All it would have taken was one pimply faced seaman apprentice with some binoculars and common sense to make a visual sweep of the area and say “Uh, officer of the deck, there’s a ship over there…” or a radar operator or sonar operator noticing a contact getting a little too close.
Uh, Gaylon, You’re Equivocating. Could You Tell Us What You Really Mean? Thank You In Advance: The only reason a ship runs into another ship is that the crew – led by the commanding officer – is screwing up. Maybe the ship’s spades tournament was going on or something. But either watch stations weren’t being manned or, if they were, no one was doing their job properly.
The Bottom Line: Whatever culpability the Alnic MC might have is of no consequence, either. A ship must be proactive in avoiding collisions. The Alnic MC could have been doing figure eights at flank speed and any US Navy ship should have been able to avoid her.
ON THIS DATE! ON THIS DATE! Slave Nat Turner leads a slave revolt in southern Virginia on this date in 1831. Turner was also a minister and believed he had been chosen by God to lead the rebellion. The rebellion was ended by whites two days later.
The death toll was high. Turner and his slaves killed between 55 and 65 whites and afterward Virginia executed 56 blacks and Virginia whites did their part, too, killing 120 blacks just for funsies.
Talk About Your Speedy Trial: Turner himself never left the area and eluded capture until October 30. He was tried and convicted on November 5 and executed on November 11.
Great Moments In Lincoln/Douglas Debates: Abraham Lincoln, then a lawyer, and United States Senator Stephen Douglas hold the first of their seven debates in their race for the US Senate in Ottawa, Illinois on this date in 1858.
Is This Dry, Technical Matter?: US senators were elected by state legislatures back then, so Lincoln and Douglas were actually vying for control of the Illinois General Assembly.
I ‘ll Pack A Lunch: You had to have endurance to attend debates back then. The format called for the first speaker – Douglas and Lincoln alternated this honor – to talk for an hour, then the second candidate to talk for an hour-and-a-half with the first candidate getting another 30 minutes. Though Douglas would win the election, Lincoln edited and then published his speeches from the debates which, along with the intense media coverage the debates garnered, played no small part in his being nominated for president by the Republicans in 1860.
Well, OK, One More Item, Then It’s Bedtime: The Mona Lisa, one of our species seminal paintings, is stolen from the Louvre, a Paris art museum, on this date in 1911.
The thief got a couple of breaks. First, the theft wasn’t discovered until the following day, the genius head of security thought the painting had been removed so it could be photographed, which led to a delay of a few more hours before the theft was reported to the police.
Who never did solve the crime. The thief, a Louvre employee who hid in a broom closet and walked out with the painting after closing, only gave himself away when he got bored hiding the painting in his apartment and tried to sell it to an Italian art gallery couple of years later.
Quotebook: What lots and lots I could tell you of this journey….but oh what a price to pay – to forfeit the sight of your dear face. – Robert Falcon Scott, final letter to wife, written from Antarctica, 1912
Answer To The Last Trivia Question: On the Origin of Species was published in 1859.
Today’s Stumper: When did United States Senators start being elected by popular vote, instead of by their respective state legislatures? – Answer next time!