Iranian Tanker Reportedly Hit by Missiles Off Saudi Coast, Iran Media Reports

By Parisa Hafezi and Sylvia Westall DUBAI, Oct 11 (Reuters) – An Iranian-owned oil tanker was struck, probably by missiles, in the Red Sea off Saudi Arabia’s coast on Friday, Iranian media said, an incident that if confirmed will stoke tension in a region rattled by attacks on tankers and oil sites since May.

The Sabiti was hit in the morning about 60 miles (96 km) from the Saudi port of Jeddah, Iranian media reported. The National Iranian Tanker Company (NITC) said the ship was damaged but now heading to the Gulf, denying reports it was set ablaze.

The incident, which has yet to be independently confirmed, is the latest involving oil tankers in the Red Sea and Gulf area, and is likely to ratchet up tensions between Tehran and Riyadh, long-time regional foes fighting a proxy war in Yemen, which lies at the southern end of the Red Sea.

The reports offered sometimes diverging accounts. Iranian state-run television, citing the national oil company, said it was hit by missiles while denying a report they came from Saudi Arabia.

NITC said in statement on its website that “the blasts were probably caused by missile strikes” and it was investigating the source, adding two tanks were damaged but the crew was safe.

Iran’s Foreign Ministry said the ship was hit twice, without saying what struck it. State television broadcast images from the Sabiti’s deck saying they were taken after the attack but showing no visible damage. The ship’s hull was not in view.

The Red Sea is a major global shipping route for oil and other trade, linking the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal. Crude prices jumped briefly on the news and industry sources said it could drive up already high shipping costs.

There was no claim of responsibility for Friday’s reported incident, which follows attacks on tankers in the Gulf in May and June, as well as strikes on Saudi oil sites in September.

The United States, embroiled in a dispute with Tehran over its nuclear plans, blamed Iran for the attacks. Tehran has denied having a role in any of them.

Saudi Arabia had no immediate comment on Friday’s reports. The U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, which operates in the region, said it was aware of the reports but had no further information.

Brian Hook, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran, in a briefing said Washington has seen the reports but offered no comment.

Refinitiv ship tracking information indicated the Sabiti, a Suezmax class tanker, was in the Red Sea and heading south under its own power, bound for Larak, off Iran’s southern Gulf coast.

The data put the vessel’s draft, or how deeply it sits in the water, at 53%, indicating it is not fully loaded.

The ship’s Automatic Identification System (AIS), which gives its position, appeared to have been off for two months until transmissions resumed on Oct. 11, shortly after the incident. Refinitiv data showed the ship was off Iran’s Gulf coast in mid-August after passing through the Suez Canal in late July and early August.

Tracking service Marine Traffic said on Twitter that, based on its information, including a NASA picture of the area and AIS data, “we do not see any smoke, fire, spills or tugboats. Instead, we see a tanker cruising home at a healthy speed.”

Tensions between Iran and the United States have been running high since President Donald Trump withdrew from a deal between world powers and Iran that aimed to rein in Tehran’s nuclear ambitions. U.S. sanctions have slashed Iranian oil exports.

Russia said it was too early to assign blame for the tanker explosion. China, the top buyer of Iranian oil, said it hoped all parties would work to uphold peace and stability in the region.

Iran’s ISNA news agency had earlier cited a source saying the Iranian tanker was struck in a “terrorist” attack.

Oil prices climbed as much as 2% after the reports, with benchmark Brent and U.S. West Texas Intermediate crude futures both rising more than $1 a barrel. Brent was trading around $60 a barrel on Friday.

Crude prices had eased after spiking above $70 in response to the Sept. 14 attacks on Saudi oil sites, which shut down 5.7 million barrels per day (bpd) of production, about half of Saudi output and roughly 5% of global supply. Output has since been restored.

Saudi Arabian dollar bonds slipped to multi-week lows on Friday, as investors fretted about the risk of further tension in the Gulf.

Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi group claimed responsibility for the Saudi attacks in September, but a U.S. official said they originated from southwestern Iran.

Industry sources said Friday’s incident off the Saudi coast could drive up shipping costs, which have already surged.

“War risk insurance premiums for the Red Sea will now likely go up significantly, as will likely the freight (rates),” said Ashok Sharma, managing director of shipbroker BRS Baxi in Singapore.

Tanker rates have soared to multi-year highs in recent weeks after U.S. sanctions on units of Chinese shipping giant COSCO and after the Saudi attacks.

Disruption to shipping through Red Sea would affect oil passing through the Suez Canal or SUMED crude pipeline, which has capacity for 2.34 million bpd and which runs parallel to the canal. It is used by tankers that cannot navigate the waterway.

(Reporting by Parisa Hafezi and Sylvia Westall; Additional reporting by Catherine Cadell in Beijing, Anton Kolodyazhnyy in Moscow, Roslan Khasawneh in Singapore and Humeyra Pamuk in Washington; Writing by Parisa Hafezi and Edmund Blair; Editing by Mike Collett-White, Alex Richardson and Grant McCool)

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2019.

An undated picture shows the Iranian-owned Sabiti oil tanker sailing in Red Sea. National Iranian Oil Tanker Company via WANA (West Asia News Agency) via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY

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Who’s the Pirate — Blackbeard or the State of North Carolina? Supreme Court Will Decide

I found this story below interesting from “Old Salt Blog”

Edward Teach, better known as the pirate Blackbeard, terrorized the Caribbean and the North American East Coast in the early 18th century. Now a documentary filmmaker is claiming that the State of North Carolina is engaging in modern-day digital piracy. On Monday, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the case brought by filmmaker, Frederick Allen, against state officials in North Carolina who he accuses of unlawfully pirating his footage of the wrecked pirate ship, the Queen Anne’s Revenge, which went down in 1718.

As reported by the LA Times: The case began with the discovery of the wreckage of Blackbeard’s flagship, which sank in November 1718 and was found by a private research group in 1996.

The discoverers hired Frederick Allen and his Nautilus Productions to film the wreckage and the salvage operation. His videos were copyrighted, but in 2013, North Carolina’s Department of Natural and Cultural Resources began posting the videos online.

Allen and the state entered into a settlement that paid Nautilus $15,000, but according to the videographer, the state violated the agreement by converting his works into “public record” materials that were free to all. Allen sued the state for copyright infringement and won before a federal judge.

But the 4th Circuit Court based in Virginia ruled last year that the state and its officials were immune from such claims. The Supreme Court announced Monday it had voted to hear the case of Allen vs. Cooper in the term that begins in the fall.

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Ancient Seafarers, Stonehenge and the Megaliths

Posted on April 30, 2019 by Rick Spilman
For centuries, ancient megalithic monuments, such as Stonehenge, existing all across Europe, have been abiding mysteries. Who built them, how and why?

A new study by Bettina Schulz Paulsson of the University of Gothenburg, Sweden may have at least one of the answers. Who built the monuments? She concludes that sailors spread the practice of building megalith monuments.

Her analysis suggests that megalith building started from a single source, in northwest France over a period of 200-300 years around 4500 BC. The tradition then spread through Europe spanning 2,000 years along the sea routes of the Mediterranean and Atlantic coasts, concentrated in coastal regions. The megaliths appear to have spread by societies which developed sophisticated sea-faring technology, far earlier than previously thought.

New Scientist quotes Schulz Paulsson, “They were moving over the seaway, taking long-distance journeys along the coasts.” This fits with other research she has carried out on megalithic art in Brittany, which shows engravings of many boats, some large enough for a crew of 12. The previous view was that large boats capable of traveling long distance were only developed in the Bronze Age, some 2000 years later.

Where did these ancient seafarers originally come from? One other recent study analyzed DNA from Neolithic Britons from around the time of the construction of Stonehenge and concluded that they traveled by sea via the Mediterranean from Anatolia around 4,000 BC.

Thanks to Roberta Weisbrod for contributing to this post.

Ancient mariners connection to Stonehenge

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USS Clamagore Saga turns into a lawsuit

I have seen this sub and toured it in person and was amazed at the cramped quarters USS_Clamagore_Submarineour Navy personnel had to work in while this sub was in service. Four engines sit in the middle of the sub with a very narrow center walkway to get around them. I could only imagine the smell of the engines, the heat they gave off and the noise of those monsters. I had a new idea of what it was like to be underwater with such cramped quarters! If you are in the area this and the aircraft carrier moored by it are the two best naval experiences I have ever witnessed. USS Clamagore in Charleston

Recently, we caught wind of the planned sinking of the USS Clagamore as an artificial reef. The 1945 built Balao-class submarine has been an exhibit at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum in Charleston, SC since 1981, but the museum says that the submarine has become too costly to maintain. While the submarine may be expensive to maintain, sinking it as a reef is not cheap, either. Funding of $2.7 million has been set aside to strip the submarine Clamagore of all environmental pollutants.
Now, a group of retired submariners is suing the museum to stop the reefing of the historic submarine, arguing that the museum lacks the authority to sink the sub and that they have a less costly proposal to save it.
As reported by USNI News: The all-volunteer USS Clamagore SS-343 Restoration and Maintenance Association say, according to a 1979 agreement transferring Clamagore to the state, the sub can’t be sunk without approval from the Secretary of the Navy. Plus, the volunteers are arguing in court they have a better plan to preserve the sub.
For a fraction of the price it will cost to sink Clamagore, the volunteers say they can bring the boat to a nearby drydock, have its hull repaired, according to their lawsuit filed earlier this week in a Charleston County, S.C., court.
“Detyens Shipyards, Inc. has estimated it will only cost $300,000 to transport the submarine to North Charleston, dry dock it, clean, repair and preserve the complete hull,” the volunteers’ lawsuit states.
Their goal is to move Clamagore for display ashore near the H.L. Hunley museum housing the Confederate submarine in North Charleston, S.C., according to the group’s website.
Clamagore was originally a Balao-class submarine, launched from Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., during the closing days of World War II. In 1948 the sub underwent a greater underwater propulsion program, or GUPPY, upgrade. At first, Clamagore was a GUPPY II and then a GUPPY III when a 15-foot section was added to accommodate new technology, according to U.S. Naval History and Heritage Command. For most of its service, Clamagore nicknamed the “Gray Ghost of the Florida Coast” operated in the Atlantic and Caribbean

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SS Warimoo, Where are you?

Here is a wonderful sea story which appears to be more or less true. RMS Warrimoo was an Australian/New Zealand passenger ship, launched in 1892. The ship is best remembered for crossing the intersection of the international dateline and the equator at precisely the turn of the century from 1899 to 1900. Here is how the story is usually told:
The passenger steamer SS Warrimoo was quietly knifing its way through the waters of the mid-Pacific on its way from Vancouver to Australia. The navigator had just finished working out a star fix and brought the master, Captain John Phillips, the result. The Warrimoo’s position was latitude 0 degrees x 31 minutes north and longitude 179 degrees x 30 minutes west.
The date was 30 December 1899. Know what this means? First Mate Payton broke in, we’re only a few miles from the intersection of the Equator and the International Date Line.
Captain Phillips was prankish enough to take full advantage of the opportunity for achieving the navigational freak of a lifetime. He called his navigators to the bridge to check and double check the ship’s position. He changed course slightly so as to bear directly on his mark. Then he adjusted the engine speed. The calm weather and clear night worked in his favor. At midnight the Warrimoo lay on the Equator at exactly the point where it crossed the International Date Line!
The consequences of this bizarre position were many. The forward part of the ship was in the Southern Hemisphere and the middle of summer. The stern was in the Northern Hemisphere and in the middle of winter. The date in the aft part of the ship was 31 December 1899. Forward it was 1 January 1900.
This ship was therefore not only in two different days, two different months, two different seasons and two different years but in two different centuries-all at the same time.
This is a great sea story, but did it happen? It looks like it may have, or at least came close to happening.
According to the Company of Master Mariners of Australia website, Captain J (John) D. S. Phillips was Master of 3326 tons R.M.S. WARRIMOO of the Canadian – Australian Lines in at least 1899 and 1900; he is listed as Master when the (Sydney) Evening News of October 17, 1900, reported RMS WARRIMOO as arriving Sydney on October 16 1900 from Vancouver via Honolulu and Brisbane with 32 passengers on board (all named except 3 children, a maid and 3 steerage passengers). She was also reported at Brisbane on April 28 and July 23, 1900, but the Master was not named on those occasions.
So, it appears that RMS Warrimoo was in the right ocean at more or less about the right time.
The only aspect of the story that is odd is the initial date and coordinates given on most versions of the story, which is December 30, and roughly 30 minutes of latitude and longitude from the intersection of the equator and the dateline. That put the ship slightly over 40 nautical miles away from the critical crossing point.
Based on the fact that the position was taken based on a starsight, that would make the time in the early evening, the day before New Year’s Eve. So, with a speed of around 14.5 knots, the ship would arrive at the crossing almost a day early.
On the other hand, if the date was really the 31st and not the 30th, the ship would have arrived either on time or late, depending on how long it took the Mate to reduce his star sights and so on.
The other wrinkle is that even if everything happened exactly as described, the accuracy of celestial navigation using a sextant and a chronometer is at best a mile, and in practice is often two or three miles, so there is a good chance that the 347′ long ship was a few thousand feet off, all other things being equal.
Regardless of what literally occurred the story about the RMS Warrimoo on the equator and dateline on exactly midnight 1900 is a wonderful sea story, worth retelling.
Happy New Year to all, wherever you be on the briny globe.
Thanks to Alan Rice and Old Salt Blog for contributing to this post.



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Happy Thanksgiving!



Happy Holidays to all. My wife and I own an Auto body Repair Shop along with a few other business’s and just wanted to say that we are very blessed in many ways. We hope you and your families have a safe and enjoyable holiday this year!




Mayflower II replica of the ship video.

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Vandals Apprehended

A month after the WWI era submarine USS Ling was vandalized and flooded, two suspects have been apprehended related to at least some of the vandalism. The complaints filed against them by the Hackensack Police may, however, raise more questions than answers.

In mid August, vandals broke into the USS Ling, a Balao-class submarine, which has been a museum ship in the Hackensack River since 1973. The vandals stole four bronze plaques, valued at $10,000, which were dedicated to the sailors lost in the 52 United States submarines during World War II. The vandals also cut through locks to open hatches on the 312-foot long, 2,500-ton submarine, flooding the inner hull of the vessel.

Now the Hackensack Police have signed complaints against Jon Stevens and Laura Palmese, of Connecticut, for burglary and theft in connection with the submarine break-in. The police suggest that the pair parked at the Heritage Diner across from the submarine, swam the Hackensack River, and climbed aboard the USS Ling, where they allegedly stole a lantern and a Medical Corps lieutenant shoulder lapel.

According to the police, the submarine had already been flooded when the pair climbed aboard. Stevens and Palmese were not charged with the submarine’s flooding or the theft of the four memorial plaques. reports that Stevens and Palmese were described as urban explorers, people who explore abandoned buildings and other places and sometimes catalog what they find by Hackensack Police Capt. Peter Busciglio. “They are part of some group that goes around looking at abandoned places.”

When Hackensack Police spoke to Stevens, he confessed to the break-in, Busciglio said.

The details of the arrests have raised questions. Leslie Altschuler, vice president of the Submarine Memorial Association, which maintains the Ling, commented, “I’m kind of surprised that anybody that swam out there is still alive. For anybody to have stolen anything after it was flooded they would have had to be swimming underwater inside the boat. It just doesn’t make sense to me.”

Busciglio said that additional charges for more people are forthcoming.

Thanks to Walter Scott for contributing to this post.

USS Ling

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HMS Queen Elizabeth Goes Out For Sea Trials

One Big Carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth

The UK Royal Navy’s newest Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, is set to carry out jet trials using F-35B Lightning II fighter aircraft.

The 65,000t navy vessel has sailed from its home port of Portsmouth in the UK to travel to the US, where two ‘orange wired’ F-35B test aircraft will land on board the aircraft carrier for the first time.

As part of the F-35B flight trials, HMS Queen Elizabeth will embark the short take-off / vertical landing (STOVL) variants of the fast jet from the Integrated Test Force (ITF) based out of Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, US.

UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson said: “HMS Queen Elizabeth is a true statement of our national power, and the whole country can be proud to see this magnificent symbol of our engineering prowess and international ambition leaving port to sail onto the world stage.

“Three F-35B Lightning II developmental test pilots from the UK and one from the US will be assigned to conduct the test flights.”
“Her voyage to America not only shows her global reach, but strengthens our special relationship with the US forces who we have worked hand-in-hand with on this iconic programme.”

During the 11-week at-sea trial period, the two test aircraft are expected to carry out a total of 500 take-offs and landings. They will be supported by nearly 200 staff members, including pilots, engineers, maintainers and data analysts.

Using the specially equipped fighter jets and sensors on board the aircraft carrier, the initial or developmental trials will be conducted to assess the operating parameters of the aircraft and the vessel under a wide range of test conditions.

Three F-35B Lightning II developmental test pilots from the UK and one from the US will be assigned to conduct the test flights.

Furthermore, operational testing of the UK’s F-35B fighter jets is slated to be carried out on board the HMS Queen Elizabeth next year.

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China Hacks the Sea Dragon — Secret Plans of Anti-Ship Missile

The Washington Post has reported that Chinese government hackers have broken into the computers of a Navy contractor, stealing more than 600 GB of highly sensitive data related to undersea warfare — including secret plans to develop a supersonic anti-ship missile for use on U.S. submarines by 2020. The stolen data includes, “signals and sensor data, submarine radio room information relating to cryptographic systems, and the Navy submarine development unit’s electronic warfare library.”  The data also includes plans to the Sea Dragon.

What is the Sea Dragon? It is apparently some sort of top-secret supersonic submarine-launched anti-ship missile, (not to be confused with the Navy MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopter.) Beyond that, little is known publically. The Washington Post reports, that the Defense Department, citing classification levels, has released little information about Sea Dragon other than to say that it will introduce a “disruptive offensive capability” by “integrating an existing weapon system with an existing Navy platform.” The Pentagon has requested or used more than $300 million for the project since late 2015 and has said it plans to start underwater testing by September.

The data hacked with the Sea Dragon plans is also considered potentially damaging. The Drive reports: The loss of the Navy’s current electronic warfare library is especially troubling as that type of information is considered among the most sensitive data the Pentagon gathers and is critical to countering enemy defensive networks and allowing U.S. assets to survive in contested territory. This theft paired with information on sensor data that potentially collects that information is especially damning as the enemy can figure out not just what the Navy knows, but exactly how they have come to know it.

How could the Chinese get their hands on such sensitive information? They are said to have hacked the computers of a Navy contractor. The Chinese stole highly sensitive data from the contractor’s unclassified network, raising serious questions about how the Navy handles secret information.

This is not the first time that Chinese hackers have made off with secret information and plans. In the past they have stolen designs for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter; the advanced Patriot PAC-3 missile system; the Army anti-ballistic missile system known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense; and the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships.


Courtesy of Old Salt Blog

My opinion is that they are as close to an enemy as you can get with out firing a shot. Problem is we are making them rich by buying their junk! Make America great again!

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Not Just the LCS — EPF, Expeditionary Fast Transport Ships Deficient, As Well

The Littoral Combat Ships (LCS) are not the only small new Navy ships with serious operating deficiencies. Recently, the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General released a report on the shortcomings of a new class of fast, shallow draft, transport ship, the Expeditionary Fast Transport (EPF), ordered by the Navy. In addition to being over budget, the aluminum catamaran vessels are slower and have less range than designed. They also cannot transfer vessels at sea in waves much larger than a ripple. Also, the ships have cybersecurity flaws which could potentially allow hackers to disable or take control of the ship’s systems.
The Navy ordered 12 EPF ships from Austal USA, the shipyard which is also building the Independence Class LCS. So far eight of the EPF have been delivered with four more under construction. The EFT ships were inspired by the design of the two Hawaiian “Superferries.” The ferries were not a commercial success, getting embroiled in legal and environmental concerns. One of the ferries was taken over by the US Navy and is now operating as the USNS Guam, while the second ferry is operating in scheduled service between Portland, Maine and Yarmouth, Nova Scotia. The EPF ships are said to share 70 percent in common with the Hawaii Superferries, both built by Austal USA.
So, what problems do the ferries have? In 2014, the USNS Spearhead, the first of the EPF class, suffered serious bow damage when crossing the Atlantic. The broad flat underside of the aluminum catamaran hull cost over a half a million dollars to repair. The rest of the EPF ships were retrofitted with stronger bow structure at a cost ranging from $300,000 to $1.2 million a ship.
In the Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force (COMOPTEVFOR) report issued April 24, 2018, it is clear that there are other serious problems with the ships, as well. The EPF are designed to carry 1.2 million pounds, 600 short tons, of cargo a distance of 1,200 nautical miles at a speed of 35 knots. With that cargo load, however, the ships were found to be able to operate for 858 nautical miles at an average speed of 31 knots.
The ships were also supposed to be able to transfer vehicles at sea using a stern ramp in waves of up to 1.25 meters high. In operation, the ships could only do ship-to-ship transfers in waves of .3 meters.
And then there is cybersecurity. The report comments: Cybersecurity vulnerabilities could potentially lead
to hackers disabling or taking control of systems, preventing the EPF vessel from accomplishing its missions. According to a DoD Cybersecurity Instruction, if cybersecurity risk management is not adequately addressed during the initiation, development, and acquisition phases of the system development life cycle, these tasks will be undertaken later in the life cycle and will be more costly and time consuming to implement.
What is to be done? The report addresses that directly, saying, “Navy officials may have to spend additional money to achieve the required performance capabilities for EPF vessels that were already provided to the fleet and for future EPF vessels that are still in production.”
The $2 billion project is currently $77 million over budget, with apparently more red ink to come.
Thanks to Roberta Weisbrod for contributing to this post.

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