Salute The Quarterdeck

There is  slightly complex sequence of behaviour required to board an American warship in harbour. This involves proceeding up the gangway but not stepping aboard until you have saluted the quarterdeck flag and the person controlling the ship’s end of the gangway. You ask permission to board and do not step on until it is given. The rank of the person at the entry point is not relevant…if they are the authorised controller of this entry they represent the captain of the ship who has final say on who boards.

If you are doing this at sea the formalities are truncated, and if you are swinging aboard on a rope while firing a pistol at the crew you hardly have to pause at all…

Similar formalities probably attend entry to ereryone else’s ships, and army and air force bases…in the case of some you are issued security clearances after documents are inspected and these clearances are retrieved as you leave. Mind you, the army tank museum has a policy that if you can carry it out, it’s yours…

I should like to see the establishment of similar rituals in civilian life with regard to who comes in and why. Too often we open the door to relatives and in-laws without a bye-your-leave and they never buy and they just don’t leave…for hours at a time…I am not sure whether there is actually a quarterdeck in the average family home…perhaps the lounge room…but maybe we could do as Japanese homemakers do and deliberately incorporate a family altar or place of beauty in the front room, and the visitors could salute this as a promise that they will behave.

In return, I would be willing to accord them all courtesies…while having them closely escorted by armed Marines.


Piracy On The High Seas

I love pirates. From Johny Depp as Jack Sparrow to Errol Flynn as Captain Blood they have swashed buckles and shivered timbers from Tortuga to Tahiti. Even Aardman had wonderful pirates as animated characters.

I’m even more impressed with the ones off the Horn of Africa who try to zoom aboard passing merchant ships and rob the crews. And I just loooove the way the US, Britain, France, and the Russians treat them – from opening up on their tin can boats with autocannon to boarding them and blowing them up with satchel charges.

I note that the Iranian floating terrorists are now entering the game and stepping up the pace with ship captures and mines.

Please, let us return to the days of the Caribbean and the Royal Navy sinking pirates on sight. And Wapping Stairs, please. In chains.

Rules of engagement for countering pirates: There’s one, open fire.

PS: Let the air squadrons play too. If they can’t get a Warthog that far out from the coast, surely someone has a spare gun pack in the stores they could clap onto a Hornet.

Pirates are ALWAYS freie Vögel…whether they have a mullah or a mad king at their back. And eventually you get to storm their pirate nest and burn it to the ground. It took care of Port Royal and Cartagena…and Bandar-e Abbas is no different.

The Insult To The Intelligence

My own fault.

I knew as I poked the iPad screen that I was doing the wrong thing. But I had a half hour to spare while the rest of the family got ready to go out ( My dad once got to read War And Peace while waiting for my mother to get ready…) so I looked at a video that purported to explain the Philadelphia Experiment. A supposed experiment to make a destroyer disappear in Philadelphia Navy Yard.

It was eery, and ooey, and it was only when I noticed that the video footage seemed to be of French naval workshops and German torpedo boat destroyers that I realised that it was a melange of merde. I had read a suitably vague and corny paperback about the subject years ago – and got nothing out of it – but I didn’t realise that YouTube allowed people to make such rubbish in such spectacular form.

I always hesitate to use the term ” Fake News ” as my cousin, Donald Trump, seems to have gotten himself into a lot of hot water by using it so often. And this Philadelphia nonsense is not news anyway – not if it has spawned cheap paperback novels. My cousin, Barack Obama, once visited Philadelphia.  I think he called on my other cousin George Wallace…for political advice.

He could have asked me. But I don’t want to insult your intelligence with that…

For the record: The heading image is not an American destroyer in Philadelphia Navy Yard.

The New Submarine Has Been Named

Some time in the next few years we are going to get new submarines for the Royal Australian Navy. We’ve been floating and sinking the COLLINS class boats for several decades – and the O Class British boats before them. The COLLINS were a Swedish design that has sometimes proved problematical.

The new ones are derived from a French design as we still wish to deal with undersea craft on a non-nuclear basis. American and British designs are generally nuclear. So, of course are Russian, Chinese, and other French designs but Australia is more modest in her desires. She would like to torpedo anything the Indonesians can sail and that’s about it.

Well, they needed a new name for the new boats. One to start with and a number of others to follow. Canberra has decided on HMAS ATTACK…and despite some people thinking it a lame name, I like it. It opens the way for a whole slew of related names for the next boats to follow:

a. If it is to be themed on the letter ” A “. then you can look forward to ADVANCE, AUDACITY, ANGER, ADMIRAL, and lots of others martial choices.

b. If it is to be based upon the idea of attack, You can also include HMAS DEFEND, PROTECT, SHIELD, etc.

The COLLINS class boats were named after naval heroes, but in a lot of cases the general public had no idea who the heroes being honoured actually were. Not that this makes them any less worthy of notice, but that notice never seems to have been generated, and an attachment to the submarines on the part of the public and press did not develop. Public relations – particularly for things that the public pay for – is an important feature of modern life.

And That’s Why They Make Swivel Guns

Look it up: swivel gun. Google should have a few pictures from maritime museums. Try to imagine the fun you could have with your own.

And it’s not just the owners of merchant ships passing the east coast of Africa who might appreciate a brace of ’em. Local boat owners who get sick of other people crowding them out in the marinas…or who are afflicted with saboteurs attacking their vessels while docked. Indeed, the Rottnest ferry would probably benefit as well.

The whalers and fishermen who are pestered by the Sea Shepherd gangsters would also appreciate the devices…after all the maritime nuisances do have a skull and crossbones as a symbol and I think that makes them fair and traditional game for a charge of canister over the taffrail.

For myself, as I do not own a boat, I would settle for just the one…mounted on the driver’s side door of my Suzuki Swift with a friction primer and the lanyard led inside through the window. I would use it in our local shopping centre car park for the drivers who loom up and menace you when you are trying to carefully back in or out. I would not be too mean…perhaps load it with Jaffas instead of grapeshot.

If it’s good enough for Johnny Depp and Geoffry Rush, it’s good enough for me.

Am I A Clubman? – Part Five

The last question that you need to ask yourself is the first question you should ask. If you don’t know the answer you can call a friend. If you haven’t got any friends, you have your answer already.

Some people are born clubmen or clubwomen. They are loud, make friends easily, are unruffled, take hearty exercise, eat breakfast, produce bowel movements every day ( frequently at the same time…), and are kind to animals. They can stand for office, scrutiny, the flag, or any other thing that the club needs. They are extroverts. indefatigable, ineffable, and impossible to have anything to do with. You’re soaking in one now…

Other folks are born to be recluses – hermits – loners – individuals  – eccentrics – etc. They are generally distinguishable by the simplest senses – silent to the hearing, invisible to the eye, clammy to the touch, and slightly odorous. No-one has as yet tasted one, and no-one is about to start…

And there’s a lot of people in between. Most of us have aspects of each of these types within if we would only see and admit to them. And most of us can choose a club or organisation to suit our real personality. It might not be a fashionable or distinguished society we move in, but if we find genuine correspondence in a group – that is the one we should join. Here’s a few checkpoints for you when trying to match yourself to others:

a. DO I ENJOY LOUD NOISE? If yes, take up shooting. If no, take up reading. Read about shooting if need be.

b. Do I enjoy working with my hands? If yes, carpentry, model making, and any number of crafting clubs are ready for you. If no, run out on a field and hit a ball somewhere with something.

c. Do I enjoy thinking? Yes? Literary and intellectual clubs, political parties, business clubs call. No? Singing and drinking, eating and dancing are for you, and there are people who will help you do it.

d. Am I artistic? Yes? Go to the art store, spend a week’s wage, take the resultant small paper bag to an art society, and ask for help. No? Gardening’s for you – Nature will make what you cannot, and you can eat some of it.

e. Am I an opinionated smart-arse who wants to best everyone in argument? Yes? Become a member of a debating team or get your own secret identity as a troll on internet forums. No? Have you thought of joining a religious order? Or the Asian version…a religious suggestion?

f. Do I love sports? If the answer is yes, join a sports club. If the answer is no, get a competent surgeon to tear your cruciate ligament for you. The cost of the year’s membership to the sporting club or the operation will be about the same and the hospital is quieter than the club rooms.

The Little World – The Ships Of ’83

rocky-bay010You must forgive me for the quality of the photos in this column – they were taken in pre-digital days and scanned in.

Rocky Bay Village is a sheltered home here in Perth for people living with disabilities. One year it held a model show to help raise funds. The Naval Wargames Society – of which I was the chief proponent – contributed a table of cased models to the other displays. Fortunately I took some records of it.

sealed-086These form some of the few records I have of that year – it was a difficult one with family bereavement – and this was a singular happy point in the year. It also lets me see possessions that have long since been sold away*.

The models themselves are, for the most part, whitemetal castings in 1:1200 and 1:1250 scale. They were sourced from Alnavco in the USA and Degen and other dealers in Europe. A few were found as old stock here in Perth. As luck would have it there have been more plastic kits and diecast releases in the ensuing decades in our local shops, but I am long away from this hobby.

sealed-099At the time, the ships seemed to be like jewels. We used them as counters for board-type naval wargames using the entire area of our patio. The patio is brick paved and the pattern of the bricks allowed for easy measurement of movement. But that was the only easy thing about it – the rules of miniature games were so complex and the time scale so long that you rarely ever finished any game – even if it was stretched over several weeks’ meetings. I think correspondence chess would have been faster.

sealed-100Never mind – I had the boxes you see constructed by a local cabinet firm, lined them with blue paper, and then made miniature harbours in them. The perspex top on the cabinet was perfect as it kept the dust away.

*  Eventually, after 6 years or so, I tired of the collecting and was ready to move on to another hobby. Fortunately here in Perth there was a chap who made a hobby of being a broker for other people and we negotiated a fair price. I often hope that whoever got some of the detailed models that I painted was able to appreciate them for what they were. At least they were unlikely to be damaged like flying model airplanes.

But that’s another Little World story.