Archive for 11/02/2011

Andrew F. Krepinevich –

The world’s vast undersea energy infrastructure—oil and gas platforms, wellheads, pipelines and pumps—is now vulnerable to attack by cheap submarines and unmanned vehicles.

Nearly 60 years ago the classic television documentary series “Victory at Sea” first recounted the U.S. Navy’s exploits during World War II.

Several episodes highlighted the Battle of the Atlantic against German submarines that were waging guerrilla war at sea.

Their objective: destroy allied cargo ships providing an economic lifeline from America to Britain. The German submarines pursued a form of warfare known as commerce raiding, attacking the enemy’s economic assets at sea.

The U.S., British and Canadian navies won the Battle of the Atlantic, thanks to their use of convoys and exploitation of advances in antisubmarine warfare technology and tactics—but only after suffering horrendous losses in blood and treasure.

At war’s end, the United States emerged as far and away the world’s predominant naval power.

Since then the U.S. commitment to providing unfettered access to the world’s seas to all nations has enabled an era of economic globalization and growth.

Memories of a time when access to the seas was not guaranteed have faded. Yet much has changed in the past 60 years.

Two developments in particular suggest a growing need for the United States and other peaceful nations to begin thinking anew about how to defend their maritime commerce, albeit under very different circumstances.

Full story…

Douglas Jordan –

Mike Golubovich loves a good mystery.

As a beach enforcement specialist for St. Johns County’s environmental division, Golubovich finds a lot of things washed up on the 42 miles of beach under his jurisdiction while doing routine beach checks and cleanups.

One item, found just after the nor’easter blew through the area earlier this month, piqued his interest immediately: a barnacle-encrusted underwater camera case.

“You never know what you’re going to find out there,” Golubovich said, holding the plastic case in his hands like it was buried treasure.

“Naturally, this was intriguing.”

The first question was whether there was a camera inside. After prying the salty case open with a screwdriver, he found that there was.

“It’s an older model point and shoot digital camera,” he said. “What encouraged me about it was the fact that it was completely dry.

So, the next step was to see if there were any images on it.” The batteries were dead, so he put in new ones and the camera fired right up, he said.

He found 153 photos on the camera’s storage drive.

Full story…

Space Travel –

NASA evacuated a crew of astronauts Wednesday from an underwater lab off the coast of Florida where they were training for a trip to an asteroid, due to the approach of Hurricane Rina.

The NASA Extreme Environment Mission Operations team ended practice drills after five days of what was supposed to be a 13-day mission, the US space agency said.

“Despite the length, we accomplished a significant amount of research,” said NEEMO Project Manager Bill Todd.

“We’re already learning lessons from working in this environment.” NASA announced earlier that the crew was heading back to the surface.

“Hurricane Rina just a little too close for comfort,” the US space agency said in a message on the microblogging site Twitter.

The crew includes Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi, Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques, commander Shannon Walker of NASA, and Steve Squyres, an expert on planetary exploration at Cornell University in New York.

They were almost midway through their mission at the Aquarius Underwater Laboratory, the only undersea lab of its kind in the world located three miles (4.5 kilometers) off the coast of Key Largo, Florida.

Full story…