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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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Friday, 28 July 2017

Egyptian Navy upgraded - Seeking for security or an indication of strategic aspirations?

Written by Theodore Bazinis*

''A navy is a state’s main instrument of maritime force. What it should do, what doctrine it holds, what ships it deploys, and how it fights are determined by practical political and military choices in relation to national needs. Choices are made according to the state’s goals, perceived threat, maritime opportunity…'' [1] (Baer, 1994)

Some off the most modern additions to the Egyptian Navy, Type 209/1400
submarine, Ezzat class missile boat and Aqquitaine class frigate
Are the recent Egyptian naval procurements in coherence with the above mentioned words? On March 17, the first Gowind Corvette of the Egyptian navy successfully completed the first phase of sea trials and will soon be fully operational. Furthermore on April 19, the second Submarine Type 209/1400 was acquired. During the last five years the Egyptian Navy has materialized procurements which have upgraded its capabilities. What’s the ultimate purpose? Just seeking for Security, reflect of extensive strategic aspirations or political oriented decisions?

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Tuesday, 13 June 2017

FLEETS #17: Spanish Navy, Polish Navy and Irish Naval Service today

This is the sixth article about various countries' navies today; a new Fleets post after a long time. In these articles, I briefly describe a country's naval fleet by reporting the ships in each type/category of warships and by providing a nice image where all the types of warships are illustrated and the units of its class are reported. I include the vessels that will enter in service this year and I have excluded those that are about to be decommissioned. I deliberately excluded many classes of auxiliary ships; those that they have "0" defence capacity and those that have secondary roles such as hydrographic survey ships, tugs, depollution vessels and training ships.



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Tuesday, 6 June 2017

The Irish Naval Service fleet today

Written by D-Mitch

The Force is strong with the Irish Naval Service!
Samuel Beckett crest, a photo by Salvador de la Rubia
The Naval Service (Irish: an tSeirbhís Chabhlaigh) is the maritime component of the Defence Forces of Ireland and is one of the three branches of the Irish Defence Forces. The Naval Service provides the maritime component of the State's Defence capabilities and is the State's principal seagoing agency. The Naval Service operates jointly with the Army and Air Corps. Its base is in Haulbowline, County Cork. The Naval Service is tasked with a variety of roles including defending territorial seas, deterring intrusive or aggressive acts, conducting maritime surveillance, maintaining an armed naval presence, ensuring right of passage, protecting marine assets, countering port blockades; people or arms smuggling, illegal drugs interdiction, and providing the primary diving team in the State. The Service supports Army operations in the littoral and by sea lift, has undertaken supply and reconnaissance missions to overseas peace support operations and participates in foreign visits all over the world in support of Irish Trade and Diplomacy.

The flagship of the Irish Naval Service, LÉ Eithne, in formation with Emer
class (retired) and Roisin class offshore patrol vessels.

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Tuesday, 30 May 2017

FLEETS & INFOGRAPHICS: improvements and updates

During the last months, I finally managed to update and improve the majority of the articles and especially the Infographics that are included almost in every post and the Fleets. I received many comments suggesting me to create Fleet graphs similar to the Royal Navy and Hellenic Navy graphs where all the combat units are depicted one by one and not just the classes. So I finally did that for all the Fleets I have created until now! But I did not stop only there but I did the following (which was not an easy work at all...):
  • The font has been changed in almost every graph and infographic such as the Andrea Doria class, Vittorio Veneto, Horizon class, Aquitaine class, the Karel Doorman class, etc. I still though need to improve the font of the Elli class graphs, the Durand De la Penne graphs and very few others
  • Crests/seals were added or improved on many Fleet graphs and Infographics
  • Ship figures were improved on Fleet graphs
  • The Fleets are now all depicted as of December 2017, thus ships that are about to be decommissioned have not been included while those that are about to enter service this year have been included
  • Many dead links in some articles have been replaced with new ones while new information and photos were added. The information in the articles is updated constantly accordingly to latest news
  • Emblems, flags and others have been changed or improved on graphs and infographics
  • New infographics were added of which some have replaced old ones, such as the Egyptian Navy Aquitaine class, the Italian Navy Bergamini class, the Republic of Singapore Navy improved Formidable class , the Turkish Navy Kilic I/II class and the Turkish Navy Yildz class
The Italian Navy Bergamini class FREMM, old (up) and new (bottom)
More analytically about the Fleets graphs, in the following images you can see the huge improvements were made. Now, it is finally time to proceed with new Analyses and the design of new Fleets such as Spanish Navy, Polish Navy, Irish Navy, Japanese Navy, Indonesian Navy and more. Stay tuned!

The RAN old (2015) and new graph (2017)
The RCN old (2015) and new graph (2017)

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Sunday, 21 May 2017

Malaysian 15 to 5 Armada Transformation Program - Meeting Mahan’s Perspectives while Adjusting to the Fiscal Environment

Written by Theodore Bazinis*

Alfred Thayer Mahan. Source
Royal Malaysian Navy vessels in formation
In his essay “Considerations Guiding the Dispositions of Navies’’, for the British journal National Review (1901), Mahan defined the ways that a nation should deploy and dispose its naval forces in times of peace. Τhe godfather of Sea Power, determined the constitution of the fleet, as a critical factor for naval power. Aiming to cope with a range of threats and challenges and fulfill its nation’s ambitions in maritime domain, a fleet should consist of adequate number of ships and of requisite types. Naval Strategists and Naval Policy Makers are charged to correspond in such a manner so that to achieve an ideal connection between naval procurements (which define the future constitution of the fleet) and ambitions, threats and challenges within a given fiscal context. Mahan determined four elements (abilities) which constitute a balanced fleet: (1) projection of sea power and overcoming a contingent or future enemy, (2) protection of vital sea lanes, (3) scouting and operating toward the coast and (4) exercise naval diplomacy.

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Monday, 17 April 2017

Sa'ar 4.5 (Hetz) class fast attack craft of the Israeli Navy

Written by D-Mitch
 
Sa'r 4.5 class fast attack missile craft (FACM), the powerful
naval protectors of Israel. Photo by Ofek Ron-Carmel
When we talk about Israeli vessels, aircraft or any kind of military platform, we expect a variety of sensors and antennas, of which the majority of them have usually an unknown to the general audience purpose. This is exactly the case for the naval class which is analyzed in this article where its sensors related to electronic countermeasures, are reported mainly based on my experience and also on my judgement according to the producers' product descriptions. I must admit this article was not easy at all; an article which I started writing about a year ago and reached over than 35 pages... It was worth it though as I believe I managed to write the most complete article about the class online. The Israeli naval class which is analyzed in this article is the Sa'ar 4.5 class or else Hetz class of fast attack missile craft (FACM); the backbone of the modern Israeli Navy (Hebrew: חיל הים הישראלי‎‎, Ḥeil HaYam HaYisraeli (English: Sea Corps of Israel); Arabic: البحرية الإسرائيلية‎‎) which is the naval warfare service arm of the Israel Defense Forces. Actually there are two different subclasses that are both named Sa'ar 4.5. The first subclass consists of two boats and was initially called Chochit (Hebrew: חוחית‎‎), but renamed to Aliya (Hebrew: עליה‎‎) and later on were sold to the Mexican Navy which renamed to Huracan class. Two Aliya subclass boats are in service with the Mexican Navy. This class will be analyzed in a future post. The second subclass was initially called Nirit (Hebrew: נירית‎‎) but renamed to Hetz (Hebrew: חץ‎‎). It should be mentioned here that this class was once the most heavily armed and most advanced in the world in the fast attack missile craft type. Today, Sa'ar 4.5 (Hertz), in its regular configuration, shares the first place together with the Egyptian Ezzat class (Ambassador Mk III) the latest addition to the Egyptian Navy, and certainly is one of the best FACM in the world today.

Israel Navy Saar 4.5 class missile boats. Photo: Nir Ben-Yosef (AKA xnir)

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