Wednesday, May 31, 2017


Why It's Dumb To Drive Through Water

Photo:Ralph Sanderson Wikipedia Commons

Most journeys can be put off, so consider turning back and heading home rather than ending up with a big garage bill after driving through a flooded area."-Excite Motoring 

 There has been a lot of rain and minor street flooding this Spring on the Gulf and East Coasts. Most people don't think much of driving through water that is only half way up the wheel. But as Scotty Kilmer explains in our first linked video this can be very damaging to the engine. Our second link is to a more detailed reading on the subject offered by Excite Motoring . This isn't exactly navigation or or marine technology, but it is about water. One thing we've noticed dividing our time between Annapolis and New Orleans is that streets often fill with water. Nothing is more embarrassing to a professional mariner than being stymied by a few inches of water. So so what professional mariners do, avoid driving through it, wait it out, postpone that trip in the driving rain.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

5 Things That Will Happen When Aliens Arrive

5 Things That Will Happen When Aliens Arrive

Friday, May 19, 2017


 SPC To Host Maritime Technology Cooperation Center In The Pacific

South Pacific Region, CIA's WORLD FACT BOOK MAPS
  The Pacific Community (SPC) was recently selected by the International Maritime Organization ( IMO, a United Nations affiliated organization) to host the regional Maritime Technology Cooperation Center for the Pacific Region (MITCC-Pacific) . The MTCC-Pacific is operated in collaboration with the Secretariat of the Pacific Regional Environmental Program (SPREP). The EU supported global MTCC Network is focused on "climate mitigation" in the maritime shipping industry". Another group of climate change true believers. But some, in the South Pacific seem more inclined to traditional conservationism than militant environmentalism. 

Normally, we don't have much use for true believers in climate change but in this case we have little objection to any organization focused on reducing the carbon foot print of the ocean transport industry, despite the fact that we don't share their sense of urgency or real belief in man caused "climate change". As experienced sailors we well know that ships built in the last twenty years are at best only a little less polluting in terms of engine and generator exhaust than ships built forty years ago. Overboard discharge is much improved in more modern ships but can still stand improvement without any real danger of killing the economics of the ocean transport industry.  In short, as a general rule, most ships in commercial usage are not nearly as clean operating as readily available and economic technology can make them. Most ship owners aim at "minimum regulatory compliance" in terms of pollution control, be it air or water, and too often fail even at that level. According to their recent press release:
"The MTCC-Pacific will be a regional centre of excellence promoting a low carbon maritime transport that supports the sustainable development goals of Pacific Small Islands Developing States and Least Developed Countries."

 Some of this sounds a lot like the usual tree huger psychobabble we usually oppose, but note the  parallel goal of supporting sustainable development. This sounds an awful lot like the pre -1970s environmental movement called "CONSERVATION". We have always supported CONSERVATION which has always shown respect for the natural environment while allowing a place for mankind within the earthly environment. Admittedly we don't trust the EU generally since we view it as a clueless socialist globalist anti human organization presently hell bent on the rapid Islamification of Christian Europe. The EU's previous record in environmental activity has been far left of allowing space for human economic activity, but socialists don't like human freedom of action or belief in any sphere. 
But in this case the Pacific Island governments seem to have their heads on straight and to us it looks like they are able to take EU money and apply it to their environmental improvement and not kill their local economies. Perhaps the EU elite may learn something.

  The MTCC-Pacific will be located at the South Pacific Community Suva Campus in Fiji. Sailors we are, tree hugers we're not, socialists we're not , but we wish the South Pacific participants well in this endeavor, we do support cleaner ships and shipping and we've long thought that the nations of the South Pacific could teach the EU quite a bit about humane ordering of free societies. We trust that at the first sign that the EU is attempting to use this system to drag down the economies of the 26 nation and territory member SPC which is primarily an economic development engine that the islanders will bring the EU "know- it- alls" up short. Conservation, is not incompatible with development or a clean environment. The islanders know exactly what it is like to live and work in a limited space and having to make a living with limited resources that must be conserved for "sustained yield", another concept so often not in the vocabulary of "environmentalist. 

 Below is a link to a relevant press release, which of course doesn't contain any of our editorial comment or tendency to rant about stinking thinking globalists / socialists. Again we are pleasantly surprised to find our selves supporting at least part of an EU backed initiative far from the borders of the EU. 

Johnas P., Editor

Tuesday, May 16, 2017


Link to Video by Shakaama Politics 


 Italy has literally been at war with the forces of Islam for 14000 years. Of late the nation is plagued by illegal and legal Islamic migration. While Muslims make up about 2% of the modern Italian population they have already begun to demand that Christian symbols such as crosses be removed from public view. Islam has applied for official recognition as a religion under Italian law. Under Italian law a religion may not be certified as a religion and thus receive certain tax breaks and subsidies. No religion may be certified under Italian law that has doctrines in opposition to the Italian constitution. Polygamy, death for apostasy, refusal to recognize certain women's rights, and many other aspects of Islam are deemed in direct opposition to the constitution of Italy. Islam thus is not considered a religion in Italy. This may open the door for Italy to treat Islam as what it truly is an imperial political system focused on global conquest, and a danger to Italian society. There is really nothing new here. Islam has been making war on Italy in various ways including major invasions in the middle ages for 1400 years.

 Here is a link to a highly informative analytic video: Shakaama Politics 

Tuesday, May 9, 2017


Helios Ruehls, Inc Science Report No. 5:




 Ever heard of  "non Newtonian liquid". Personally being a fish I like my liquids simple and predictable like salt water, which I live in and breath, Sea water behaves pretty much in accordance with the known laws of physics. It's molecules behave pretty much as predicted and as a liquid it behaves pretty much as Issac Newton  would expect a self respecting liquid to behave. Really I'm a bit unnerved to even learn that there are "non Newtonian liquids". But now I'm working for Helios Ruehls, Inc a network of eggheads and sailors whose minds are constantly wandering around in Complexity Theory, some where beyond what they call "The Eculidian / Newtonian Line". You wander around in strange territory long enough and eventually you'll step in a puddle of something. 

 That something recently was "non Newtonian liquids" (NNLs) generally and a specific application of  a unique NNL that is proving out to be a potentially highly useful anti ballistic "gravy". I'm calling it "gravy" because it was literally whipped up in a typical kitchen mixer and is about the consistency and of gravy. But this is a gravy that "can stop a speeding bullet", a kind of super gravy. What's more amazing is that it didn't come out of DARPA, or the off beat skunk works of Helios Ruehls, or from any of the usual "beltway bandits" but was "discovered" by an undergraduate young woman, a cadet at the U.S. Air Force Academy, Air Force Academy Cadet First Class Hayley Weir , who we understand is not a physics major. 

 Cadet Weir will graduate this month (May 2017) from the Air Force Academy with a commission as an officer in the U,S, Air Force, a bachelor's degree, and a pending patent from the U.S. patent office for her magic sauce  based "wafers". She invented her ballistic gravy or magic sauce as part of her senior year science project inspired by a child's play substance called "Oobleak",( which first appeared as a fictional green substance in the Dr, Seuss book BARTHOLOMEW AND THE OOBLECK and later the name was applied to a non-Newtonian fluid made of corn starch and water.) , Here is what is unique about a non-Newtonian liquid like Oobleak when it comes to ballistics. Handled gently, it flows like a liquid. Impact it hard and suddenly and the molecules instantly gather together and provide dense resistance to impact. Kneed it gently in your hand and it will flow over your hand like muddy water, but squeeze it hard and you can form a ball with it. What Cadet weir wondered was what would happen if you shot some Oobleak with a bullet. Would it harden at the point of impact and then go back to smooth flowing liquid when the bullet was spent? You raise a young girl on Dr. Seuss and then send her to a college that involves periodic trips to a rifle range and you get these sorts of questions. This is probably a good thing since lots of students at Harvard and Yale were raised on Dr. Seuss, but they'll never see a firing range. 

 So how did Cadet Weir go about proving her theory that a non-Newtonian liquid could form an anti ballistic gravy? I'm over simplifying a bit here, but basically, she mixed some up with a standard kitchen appliance put it in a "baggie" and shot the unrepentant, non Newtonian, miscreant goo right in the bag, POW! The bullet punctured the outer side of the bag but did not penetrate to the other side, All those smart pesky ballistic protesting molecules bunched up instantly on impact and butted heads ( really , really tiny heads) with the bullet. Then of course the Oobleak or whatever it was reverted to its liquid state and escaped the baggie through the hole. 

 So, since Air Force Cadets come with radically different mind sets from the Ivy League types our intrepid Cadet Weir started looking for a better "baggie" and started shooting the unrepentant liquid with larger caliber weapons. Now in the Ivy League what happens in the physics lab usually stays in the physics lab. Military cadet under grads think differently. Cadet Weir sought out some insight, not from the head of the physics department, but from Professor Ryan Burke of the Military and Strategic Studies Department. Was Professor Ryan a closet complexity theoretician ?  No, he was a Marine ( honorably discharged, but we know better than to refer to any Marine veteran as an "Ex Marine", there are non such, the character of U.S. Marines is indelibly marked for eternity , some what like baptism) . The Marine mind is uniquely focused. A Marine's attention is always drawn to better ways of making things that belong to "bad people" go boom, and to ways of avoiding going boom while the bad people owners of the things you want to break resist your sincere efforts to rid the planet of the troublesome. 

 It didn't take too long or too many rounds of ammunition to arrive at the perfect package. First, Cadet Weir's magic gravy is poured into a vacuum sealed plastic bag.  Then the bag of anti ballistic gravy is  flattened into a quarter inch square shape and placed in a Kevlar fabric pouch forming a layered   "wafer". We make it all just sound so easy, but in fact this is not the corn starch Oobleck of your Dr. Seuss child hood. No, Cadet Weir's "magic sauce" has been described as a "viscous black goo", There had to be more to it than corn starch for a patent. 

 Where is all this going in terms of applications? Well the immediate application looks like more flexible infantry body armor able to protect more than the chest and waist area. Besides the always popular idea of protecting certain soft parts in the southern region of the human anatomy , knee and shin pads built into your battle dress uniforms may soon be possible and a variance on the bandanna might soon protect parts of a soldier's face and neck. On the naval and aviation side the thinner lighter layered wafers might be used much like ballistic tiles are now used in protecting certain parts of small patrol boats and air craft.   Could inexpensive ballistic protected orange hunter vests be on the horizon for America's hunters?  One thing is for sure the non Newtonian liquid filled Kevlar wafer will be an important addition to light weight flexible body and vital system armor in the near future. 

 What other wonders will come from non Newtonian liquids, the potential super gravy?  One aspect that this unique case illustrates is that at least non Newtonian liquids are one example of something from the far side of the Eculidian / Newtonian line at the gate of complexity theory that doesn't always require super mathematical tools to enter . The non Newtonian liquid realm was entered by an Air Force Cadet and a Marine Adviser without being armed with advanced complexity theory mathematics, They came, they saw, they mixed stuff, they shot stuff, they thought about what they shot, and then shot it some more, and lo and behold, new seemingly miraculous technology was captured. Now I understand why Helios Ruehls, Inc is composed of a mix of Doctors of Physics, Mathematics, and old sailors and one Army Major. Only such a mix of minds is suited to organize raids beyond the known borders of physics. 

Until the next startling development,

Monday, May 8, 2017



Helios Ruehls, Inc. Science Report NO. 4


Greetings Bipeds!

 Pretty much everyone in Saudi Arabia and Houston knows that the world runs on petroleum. But here at Helios Ruehls, Inc we know a lot of other things that are being done with Petroleum that don't involve burning it as fuel. Petroleum is at the heart of the "Materials Revolution" new composites are being created annually far different from the original petroleum based materials of plastics and fiber glass resins. Parts of the International Space Station are made up of these composites.  We have been encouraging the increased production of petroleum. We are acutely aware of the resulting effects that increased American oil and natural gas production has been having on the American economy of late, However, we know that in the long run, the stuff is too valuable for other purposes to simply burn it as fuel indefinitely. Other sources of energy are coming on line every year. Hi-bred technologies are being introduced to reduce petroleum consumption, particularly as fuel. Here at Helios Ruehls we continue to work on one of the most promising concepts in solar thermal energy, the fractal lens, While the Obama left overs in the DOE and elsewhere continue to be interested only in "solar energy" from one form or another of photo-voltaic cell, progress continues in corporate and university labs on a wide variety of alternative energy solutions. One that appears ready to take off involves a mineral known as Lithium Carbonate . 

 Lithium Carbonate crystals in their natural state are thought to store far more energy than refined gasoline, indeed per unit of measure this mineral dust is thought to be 1,693 times more powerful than refined gasoline. If we had an automotive engine capable of being directly fueled by Lithium Carbonate dust , or more probably Lithium brine, some scientists estimate that such an automobile would get about 42,325 miles per gallon. Such an automobile powered by such a fuel would have to produce some spectacular mileage to gain traction in the market, the cost of such fuel is estimated to be about $50 a gallon. But some automobiles are already running in part on Lithium, specifically Lithium batteries. These are the batteries found in the hi-bred models that run on battery powered electric motors, recharged during operations by a periodically kicking in gasoline engine that runs the vehicle while recharging the battery. Lithium is also the basis for the batteries in most of the presently rare "plug in" hi-breds. Lithium looks to be the great hope for the major component in the yet to be developed ultimate battery.

While a little Lithium may ultimately go a long way, it does appear to be a rare commodity. Presently we know of only two ways it is produced. When dwarf stars collide with certain cosmic rays in a process known as stellar nuclosynthesis a fine powder is formed , Lithium Carbonate. Fortunately the same process is repeated here on earth in a much slower collision but one that generates comparable heat. Along the ever shifting margins of the Earth's crustal plate, as one Teutonic plate over rides the other Lithium  Carbonate is ground out. Here and there over time it sometimes rides hot water plumes , seeps, or geysers to the surface as a brine. In arid climates the brine evaporates and leaves surface deposits of dust like Lithium Carbonate. It is mined by rather traditional surface methods and sold to the ever increasing users.

 There is a lot of hype in the market just now over Lithium, we don't doubt that the Lithium Carbonate has a future place among alternate fuels and certainly a major role to play in battery development. But a few "investment advisers" appear to be making claims about incredible profits to be made in lithium mining stock. You may recall that when we wrote about petroleum related stocks a year or so before the shale oil and tight sands finds started to come into production that we predicted a drop in oil prices and even something of a drop in gas prices at the pump, At that time we suggested ( we'd never "advise" we're not financial advisers) to pass on oil producer stocks, and instead concentrate on oil processing, refining, and transportation stocks. Our reasoning was simply that oil producers are dependent on the price of oil. When oil is in super abundance the price per barrel falls and they have little choice but to step up production to keep up revenues which in turn tends to continue to drive  oil prices down. While the oil producers are struggling, those who transport the oil to the refinery, the refiners and processors still charge about the same. Oil transport and processing revenues remain fairly stable oil as a commodity is always on something of a roller coaster ride, When its not dying fields, or big new discoveries, its often national and international politics driving the unstable petroleum market. Sometimes we wonder why any one would want to be in the oil drilling business, But lithium we think is not going to follow the oil model.

 First, no one knows just how much lithium there is in the world, nor how much we will eventually need. There seems to be more than enough discovered and presently being mined to assure lithium battery production until at least the end of the century. The few mines so far being worked are being worked with traditional surface mining equipment and the mines are located near good quality roads leading to rail and ship connections. No transportation infrastructure particularly designed for lithium transport appears to be evolving at this time. But all sorts of new uses for Lithium Carbonate appear to be being developed in the labs of the world. Some published investment advisers are claiming that certain big automobile manufacturers are planning on making 35% or more of their fleet "lithium powered" in the coming decade. We think that's hype for the planned increase in hi-breds and even plug in hi-breds. We seriously doubt that anyone is directly making that kind of progress on Lithium Carbonate fuel or engines designed to run on it. Even if such a technological development was about to come out of the labs, just as in the early days of the gasoline powered automobile the full marketing potential of such cars will have to await the development of the filling stations, repair technicians and similar supporting personnel and infrastructure.

 We think that if you want to own a piece of the growing lithium industry, direct investment with the miners is about as good as any other bet just now. However, don't expect the returns being hyped in some quarters, and know that the real prospects for a great investment at the moment are rather limited. We are aware of three producers presently.  The leading producer Albemarle Energy (NYSE: ALB ) has both deposits that they are mining and we understand, refining, and distribution capacity. They have been around a while and show the ear marks of an established company that may well fit the definition of a buy and hold stock. Like most established companies with a good performance history and reliable proven management their individual stock price is a bit high at about $109.05 per share the last we checked. That price actually represented a tiny fall from the prior week's trading and might be a bargain. While we view Albemarle as the industry leader and a relatively safe investment (common stocks are not bank deposits, they are only ever worth what you can get for them at any given moment), we think there will be room for solid growth as Lithium Carbonate uses continue to increase. As a buy and hold stock this company could show significant growth over the next decade. In the interest of full disclosure, our internal "endowment fund" runs exclusively on a "buy and hold" basis and we are firmly entrenched in the philosophy that any stock not worth holding for ten years is not worth holding for ten minutes. 

That brings us to another Lithium Carbonate producer; OROCBRE ( Orocobre Ltd. is registered at the Australian Securities Exchange  or ASX, symbol ORE  and on the Toronto Stock Exchange ,TSX as ORL,and is included in the S&P / ASX 300 index. OROCBRE is  newer producer ( stock traded since 2007) whose stock when last we checked was rising in price to about $3.31 a share. The rise has been typically about 15 cents a share for a few weeks now (May 8, 2017)  Far less than Albemarle energy's price per share but rising. Orocobre Limited is a mineral resource company based in Brisbane Australia. The company presently focuses on lithium carbonate and borax operations with major holdings in Argentina. For reasons expressed in previous posts we consider Argentina an unstable nation , so one has to have some reservations about any company heavily invested there.  This company has some interesting partnerships with some typically far thinking Japanese concerns, but we could find no holding outside of Argentina. Argentina is to our maritime based way of thinking a basket case formally aligned with Russia. We would have a lot more confidence in this company if it wasn't so deeply vested in Argentine mineral deposits. If it does run afoul of the Argentine proclivity of nationalizing private property it could well grow into something more on the order of industry leader Albemarle. 

 The company that is drawing the bulk of the hype from certain alleged "market analysts" right now is Lithium X (CVE: LIX) Which in the two weeks we've been tracking it (this was written May 8, 2017) has risen in price from $1.87 to $2.09. A few "analysts" are treating this as the Penny stock of the decade and predicting its eventual rise to over $1,000 per share. This is the kind of stock price increase than can make millionaires out of small investors. But we advise you not to bet the farm on this company. 

 The recent stock price increases could be nothing more than the result of over hyped publicity. The facts behind this company are perhaps less concerning than the less hyped OROCBRE. Lithium X does have control of new massive Lithium Carbonate reserves, but at least half of their holdings are in Argentina. The plus side to both is the proximity of the deposits to transportation and refining infrastructure. So Lithium X appears to have the lithium carbonate deposits , including enough American deposits to assure survival in the event of an Argentine nationalization and they possess these deposits at a time when there is clearly rising demand for the product. The hype that appears to indicate fantastic new inventions poised to emerge from the labs and onto the market appear to be the work product of stock analysts who may be as interested in selling their services and publications as they are in buying stocks. We monitor labs and skunk works, indeed Helios Ruehls,Inc. is a sort of skunk works and we do see growth in the utilization of Lithium Carbonate related technologies but certainly no revolution in the next 36 months as some would have potential investors believe. We think Lithium X should be viewed as a somewhat promising penny stock . If it takes off due to its own merits vice hype we feel it has a potential of eventually going in excess of $100 per share, an impressive return. But it has some latent issues not the least of which is heavy investment in Argentina, and competent competition. We may actually take a small position in this stock for our internal endowment fund, but we understand it to be highly speculative, we will not risk "serious money". We see some potential here but not at all in line with the hyped expectations. 

 So that friends is the story of star dust turned to "gold". The story is really just beginning and the beginning is often a good place to be when a new commodity emerges. Unfortunately no one has an accurate crystal ball. Use caution, star dust is is not always what it seems. And remember Helios Ruehls is a scientific research service, not an investment organization. We are simply sharing with our readers certain insights scientific and commercial that come as a by product of our scientific research. Our stock insights may only be worth what you pay for them, and as always, these insights are a free service. 

Monday, May 1, 2017




 At Helios Ruehls, Inc. We believe that the United States can not back down from stiff opposition to China's "Nine Dashed Line" claim to virtually the entirety of the South and East China Seas.  Their claims, if uncontested would literally encompass most of the internationally recognized territorial sea of the Philippines, as well as the entire Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of the Philippines and other coastal states in the region. Moreover their claim if allowed to stand would eliminate all internationally recognized "international waters" from the region and subject all shipping to passage only with the permission of the Chinese Navy and Coast Guard. We are well aware that the US Navy has technological advantages over the much touted "carrier killer" missiles that China touts, and technological and experiential advantages over the far more numerically superior combined armed fleet of China, which also enjoys a much shorter logistic train. But we also believe the lesson of history, often articulated by various commentators in the U.S.NAVAL INSTITUTE'S PROCEEDINGS ; "Sometimes quantity has a quality all its' own". TO US THE  LESSON OF THE BISMARK IS THAT A BIG BUNCH OF LESS SOPHISTICATED AND CHEAPER SHIPS CAN GANG UP ON THE HIGH TECH FLOATING "DEATH STARS" AND WIPE OUT THE MORE SOPHISTICATED VESSEL. In this paper we look at some lower tech emerging and existing technologies that could help turn change the balance of power in the region. We do not advocate that the United States Navy stop work on the high tech ship anti missile defenses, and surface vessel defensive target acquisition and weapon technology. We rather advocate that the low cost, but novel technologies and technological blends we describe here in be implemented without delay for an immediate improvement in the situation.

The Advantages of our proposed blend of technologies: The blends of technologies that we will examine in this case study give our China Seas allies an advantage in economy and speed of effort in defeating a very specific maritime territorial expansion by an aggressive neighbor. Military leaders want their emerging and disruptive technologies to instantly provide capability, capacity, and availability. To convince the military leader that a technological mix is a game changer, it must be able to change the game, now. We believe that emerging developments that we work with in optical physics, and unique technologies that we routinely observe in the U.S. offshore oil industry could be blended to generate that instant game changer called “disruptive technology”. The particular “disruptive technological blend” that we will describe could turn the balance of power in the China Seas on its ear while avoiding actual warfare.

Just as the Soviet Union eventually conceded the Cold War because they couldn't afford it anymore; the technological blend we will describe herein, could completely destroy China's economic advantage over their maritime neighbors in asserting “effective administration” in the more remote areas of their respective EEZs. . At the moment only China can afford the costs of the civil engineering to fill the South and East China Seas with light houses, fishing support stations, and air craft runways, and patrol craft bases advancing their international legal claim of “effective administration” over what is otherwise parts of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) of China's neighbors. The adoption of our proposed “anti-cabbage patch “ application of technologies in conjunction with the geographic advantage of the rightful owners of the relevant EEZs would move China's position from that of pushing for outright ownership of territory not its' own, by demonstrating “effective administration”, to cooperating in joint licensing of offshore mineral exploration in contested zones and peaceful negotiation with their neighbors over EEZ boundaries. The primary risk and barrier to success in this application is the simple fact that the best available technology for one part of the mix is not out of the lab yet. Mitigating the risk of untimely application due to unavailability of best technology is the existence of “good enough” technology that can yield the sought after advantage while the best available continues development.


China is engaged in a naval war of nerves with neighboring states around the East and South China Seas over the control of several sets of tiny, mostly uninhabited islands 1. The islands are only considered valuable because the seas around them are thought to be rich in oil and natural gas. *2,*3 China claims virtually the entire East and South China Seas as Chinese territorial waters, *the United Nations Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) doesn't recognize closed seas, or generally territorial seas wider than 12 miles off of the coast line of coastal states. *China has little hope of winning the targeted area as their territorial sea in any forum of international law,*9 but their real goal may seem more attainable, an internationally recognized vast expansion of their Exclusive Economic Zone under UNCLOS at the expense of their neighbors. We believe their strategy could be defeated by a particular application of evolving and disruptive technologies.

At a place called Ayungin Shoal the Chinese strategy for conquering the islands they covet within their neighbor's rightful EEZ can be seen at work. At Ayungin Shoal a tiny contingent of Philippine Marines, sometimes as few as eight, keep the flag of the Philippines flying from a grounded wreck, still commissioned as a ship of the Philippine Navy as Chinese “Coast Guard” vessels encircle the wreck and discourage supply and support of the marines. The Marines are often reduced to surviving by catching rain water and fish.*10 Chinese commercial fishermen now organized into a “naval militia” work the waters around the shoal while the Chinese “Coast Guard” keeps Philippine fishermen out of the area. General Zhang Zhoazhong of the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA), “owners” of the Peoples Liberation Army's Navy (PLAN) recently articulated the Chinese Strategy for wrestling uninhabited islands and even militarily occupied islands without direct weapons engagement. The basic strategy is to surround such places with a dense fleet of commercial, law enforcement, and military vessels “as tight as leaves on a cabbage”.*5 Thus we have come to call the Chinese strategy for their China Seas land grab, “The Cabbage Patch Strategy”. General Zhoazhong believes that despite the tenacity of the Philippine Marines at Ayungin Shoal, eventually any and all forces or populations on the islands coveted will be starved out. With forces and populations eliminated China will assert “effective administration” over the targeted islands, a claim with some arguable legitimacy in International law.*5, *7, *9

The big flaw in the cabbage patch strategy is that more kinetic energy than that in a small atom bomb can be applied to the situation without either side firing a shot. The source of the introduction of kinetic energy into the situation is the typhoon. *12 The advantage to the Philippines and other states in contest with China over islands and shoals in their Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs) is geography. China is pursuing the legal argument of “effective administration” over the Islands they have chosen to claim.*6 & *7 This is the same argument that the United States once used to gain control over the “Guano Islands” in the nineteenth century. The UN Charter bans permanent acquisition of territory by conquest, and present International law recognizes “effective settlement” as the most acceptable argument in territorial disputes over outlying, sparsely settled, and remote territories.*7 China's approach is twofold. Using conventional and very expensive and slow civil engineering technology, China is building manned facilities on shoals and islands that were never suitable for human habitation. From these, plus the efforts of their vastly expanded new “Coast Guard” they conduct activities designed to bolster their claims of “effective administration”, and on their larger developments even “effective settlement”.*7 Where they are not building physical facilities they conduct their “Cabbage Patch Strategy”. But certainly their cabbage fleets must evacuate in the face of typhoons which can pretty much be counted on to hit some part of the area every year. Even some of their man made facilities may be wiped out in such circumstances.

The Chinese strategy has been working because their neighbors don't have the economies to physically colonize the islands within their EEZs that are traditionally uninhabitable with appreciable speed.*8 The Philippines and other neighbors beset by the Chinese Cabbage Fleet have a geographical advantage as the typhoons generally pass over them first as they come in from the Pacific and often leaving them clear just as the Chinese mainland is being hit.*8 If only they had the technology to race behind the typhoon and establish man made and manned structures on their rocks and shoals before the Chinese could return. What the Philippines and other Chinese “First Island Chain” neighbors lack is a collection of emerging and disruptive technologies that result in instant civil engineering of durable but low cost off shore structures. We submit that those technologies are evolving, yet available and affordable.


We have a tendency when considering “emerging and disruptive technologies” in a military milieu as coming from the far edges of scientific research and applications. However, sometimes a disruptive technology evolves from arts and crafts. It has been hundreds of years since the profession of “Boat wright” now considered a “skilled trade” or “craft” separated from the “profession” of “naval architect”. Yet the very first “elevating work boats” (“lift boats”) used in the coastal Louisiana oil exploration and production industries originated in the work shop of a “Boat wright”. *11 These vessels capable of efficient self-propulsion are also capable of “jacking up” a set of steel “legs” carried in wells at each corner or two at the bow and one at the stern until the bottom of their barge like hull has completely cleared the water's surface , by anywhere from four to 15 or more feet. The barge like hull can be fitted out in a variety of ways and a variety of superstructures and deck equipment may be fitted. The Louisiana “elevating work boat “ is an authentic COTS (commercial off the shelf) plug and play technology platform. It has been used for well work over, shallow exploratory drilling, well relief' and a variety of other functions in the near coastal “oil patch” of the U.S. Gulf Coast for decades. Yet elevating work boats in terms of other applications are still an “emerging technology”. Used to help defeat China's cabbage patch strategy, they can be part of a disruptive technology package. 

Artist image of an advanced elevating work boat design from BENNETT OFFSHORE

Self-propelled elevating work boats should be the base platform for the rest of the technology package that will confound the Chinese cabbage patch strategy. The best way to integrate the evolving technologies of the offshore “oil patch” into the fleet for eventual or occasional tactical use by the Navy, Coast Guard or Marine Corps we think, is by formation of a Navy/Coast Guard “craft of opportunity unit". Such a unit would study and catalog developments of potential naval utility in the U.S. work boat industry, monitor production lines, and track markets for new and used equipment against the day the need arises. It could be a very small unit led by a naval architect, with a surface warfare specialists as XO, and manned by a few junior officers with marine engineering and surface warfare training and some senior deck , engineering, and ordinance rates. The units main expenses would be a travel and operations budget and office spaces. Acquisition funding for craft of opportunity would have to come from higher command.

Some of the package comes from “craftsman like innovations” by the Gunner's mate rate in collaboration with Army artillery NCOs. In our plan for fleet integration the Navy gunners would already be part of the “craft of opportunity unit”, the army personnel on collaborative loan for a single project. The last part of the disruptive technology package comes from the far end of the scientific spectrum, requiring an understanding of complexity theory and the crossing of the“Newtonian/Euclidean line” *13 in mathematics. This “best available technology” piece would probably come to the craft of opportunity unit via DARPA, through private labs such as our own Helios Ruehls, Inc.

The basic strategy is to mark, equip, weaponize, and securely store a number of these specially prepared elevating work boats ready to deploy immediately after storm passage to shoals and islands targeted or even pre storm patrolled by the Chinese within the normal EEZ of the Philippines or other contesting state. Once on scene the boats elevate, display the markings of the relevant nation's coast guard and signage such as “PRIMARY SEA COAST LIGHT NO--”. You now have a properly marked light house that is also armed.

The U.S. Coast Guard utilized standard marinized 50 cal. Machine guns piggy backed with infantry mortars very successfully from its 82 ft. patrol boats during the Vietnam conflict.*14 On the relatively small deck of an elevating work boat a variety of infantry anti-armor and normally shoulder mounted anti air weapons could prove formidable. When the Chinese return after the storm passes over their mainland they find an established and armed “light house”, every bit as functional as the civil engineered structures that they built over a long period of time and at great expense. They will of course surround the new “light house” with their armed coast guard vessels and make howls of protest and will attempt to block all resupply efforts. The sudden appearance of the new light houses would be the result of new combinations of technologies. Like any vessel of comparable size, the elevating work boats have serious water and fuel capacities, and the hull can store a lot of groceries. However, there is a clear need for greater sustainability. Enter the high tech end of this combination of emerging and disruptive technologies.


Some of the technologies needed to greatly expand the on scene duration of our “new light houses” are “high tech”, and available now, some are on the other side of what we call the NEWTONIAN / ECULIDIAN LINE (NWL). The NWL is an idea we coined to note the dividing line between certain areas of complexity theory where we are starting to evolve the mathematics such as Mandelbrot's Fractal Geometry, *15 and Chaos Theory where for the most part we have no calculus or geometries. Mandelbrot's Fractal Geometry, unknown before 1984, has been the basis for research into the Fractal Lens. The Fractal lens*17 could be the basis for very small but productive solar thermal electrical generators, and desalinization units which could easily fit on a standard elevating work boat. While the Fractal Lens driven electrical generator and desalinization kits would be the ideal, less efficient yet viable alternatives using inverse Fresnel lenses exists as practical designs and existing parts. We need not wait until the first “lab rat” fractal lens is manufactured and tested.

“Jacked up” in light house mode the elevating work boats don't consume much in the way of fuel. With virtually unlimited potable water and electricity the “new light houses” should be able to outlast any cabbage patrol of conventional vessels. That only leaves editable stores. Durable foods are already commercially available and the vessels come with ample below the main deck storage. But there is the emerging agri-technology of hydroponics and good old container gardening. Food stores could be supplemented with these technologies and even a standard “light house” configuration could consist of two elevating work boats one devoted solely to the emerging technologies of factory farming (as has already been proposed *18). Our point here is that emerging and disruptive technologies can be any mix of technologies above or below the NWL line. We can mix analog, digital, optical physics, any other novel technologies or crafts to get the overall military / law fare *16 effect we seek. In the example under examination we seek to turn the Chinese economic advantage in building maritime civil works based on their economy being stronger than their neighbors on its ear. The weak point of the Chinese economic advantage is that it relies on architectural technologies that require long construction periods, long distance maritime and expensive logistic support, their interim tactic while awaiting the funding and opportunity to “settle” all of the economically strategic shoals and islets has been the “cabbage patch fleets”. By using a mix of emerging and disruptive technologies the Philippines and other regional states in competition with China can establish “light houses”, aids to navigation stations, fishing support centers, literally overnight, right after Mother Nature removes the cabbage patch fleets with a typhoon. They can also establish such features anywhere that is unguarded by China.


In the case under examination the basic platform, the elevating work boat is immediately available. In the case of our foreign assistance type mission example, used U.S. work boats could prove sufficient and cost effective. A key element, the fractal lens driven solar thermal electrical generator exists in plans and drawings, but the key element the fractal lens exists in theory only. An actual fractal lens is still awaiting development and lab testing. However, immediately useful performance can be had using solar thermal electrical generators made with inverse Fresnel lenses and some photo-voltaic cells for lower electrical usages. Most any elevating work boat can be outfitted with a helo deck and aerial replenishment has been successful with the marines at Ayungin shoal. Perfection is not necessary to get the counter cabbage patch strategy started. Some of the emerging and disruptive technology on the far side of the NWL line may still be in the lab. But it is likely to emerge before the “good enough” combination of disruptive technological equipment has exhausted its service life. In defeating an enemy using a combination of naval power, and law fare for territorial expansion at their neighbors expense timing is important. Some science on the far side of the NWL line can't be rushed. Yet the desired disruption in aggressor plans can often be had and maintained long enough for the perfect solution to make it out of the lab and into application, by holding the line with a disruptive combination of technologies that are good enough, to cause the desired effect. In the words of Home Depot's advertising gurus the key is this; NEVER STOP IMPROVING.