Wednesday, August 22, 2018



The Royal Navy heavy cruiser HMS Exeter sinking after the Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942.
The Royal Navy heavy cruiser HMS Exeter sinking after the Battle of the Java Sea, 1 March 1942. Photograph: U.S. Navy Naval History and Heritage Command

During mid August 2018 it was reported by multiple sources that Chinese illegal salvers had removed items and hull plating from 10 British warships lost in action in World War II. The wrecked hulls were designated war graves under international law. The "pirate" salvers reduced some of the hulls to mere debris lines on the sea floor in violation of international law. The hulls had served as tombs for over 1,000 British sailors who lost their lives in part to free China from a horrific occupation by Imperial Japan. Initial reports indicated that six British hulls had been plundered but subsequent investigation indicate a certainty that an additional four hulls were damaged and the count may not be final yet. 

 The ten wrecks were located off of the Malaysian and Indonesian coasts in 1941 and 1942. Among the damaged wrecks were the remains of the HMS PRINCE OF WALES, and HMS REPULSE for which the British had pretty accurate casualty counts. According to British naval sources 835 sailors were entombed in those two hulls alone. The piratical scavengers damaged half of the ship lengths of the two historic vessels and left evidence that they dredged up human remains along with the targeted metal. 

 Another affected wreck of historic reputation is that of the HMS EXETER which earned eternal fame by confronting the German GRAF SPEE in the battle of the River Plate. The HMS EXETER went down off Indonesia in 1942 entombing 54 of her crew. The "Pirate Scavengers" hardly left a trace of her. 

 There is existing evidence that the "illegal salvers" are Chinese in origin and operate out of Chinese ports. The Chinese are actively engaged in disputing the coastal claims of every nation bordering the south China Sea as the Dragon claims it is a virtual Chinese Lake in flagrant disregard of international law. In order to enforce their claim the Dragon has launched the world's largest coast guard nearly 600 ships. But where were they in terms of suppressing Chinese nationals from violating maritime international law? Hey Dragon, did you decide to respect the sovereignty of your under gunned maritime neighbors just this once, and not enter their territorial waters or exclusive economic zones to police your nationals? Or, may be, this was an official act in defiance of international law, where in the Dragon decided to demonstrate that it can do anything it wants within water bottoms it claims, with out justification,  as its own?

 The United Nations International Salvage Convention specifically prohibits disturbing sunken warships by any one other than the military authorities of the nation whose flag the war ship flew. The convention is incorporated into British, Malaysian, and Indonesian  national law. China's membership in the UN Security Council would at least suggest that they would respect the convention. But the evidence indicates other wise.

  This was no small operation conducted by SCUBA divers from small craft. Large barges were involved , some fitted with cranes and drag lines. The house sign and other identifying marks of Chinese shipping giant Fujian Jiada were reported by witnesses as seen on several of the barges, though officials of the company deny involvement. 

 The UK Daily Mail is conducting an investigation and has stated in a recent article that they have information that additional WWII wrecks are targeted. Read More at THE DAILY MAIL the Daily Mail  (

The Dragon's Coast Guard once again proves itself unworthy of the name. Rather than a protector of the near sea, it has time and time again after its recent formation shown itself to be a blunt instrument of the Dragon's illegal maritime territorial grab. Rather than a cooperative force for law and order at sea with its maritime neighbors the Chinese Coast Guard repeatedly shows its self to be a protector of poachers, sea bandits, illegal scavengers, and pirates as long as they are Chinese. The THE DAILY MAIL article is particularly interesting in that their investigative reported implicates Indonesian shore side salvers in the crimes. THE DAILY MAIL has published the theory that WWII ship wrecks being pre- Nuclear age have steel that is free of certain impurities found in steel produced after the nuclear age and thus especially valued in the manufacture of certain precision equipment and medical devices. 

 The Dragon once again proves itself to not be a good citizen when in the maritime commons. It may take a major Dragon hunt to finally get the message across. The owner ship of a major navy / coast guard force does not make the oceans yours. Even Dragons must be respectful in the ocean commons. 




Visitor Center Image. Author: Marcin Floryan CC BY 2.5

  Back in August of 1943 Jolly Old England wasn't a happy place. The nation was locked into a global war and faced constant invasion threats. In August of 1943 England had but one oil field producing 300 barrels a day while the nation's military defense oil habit was over 150,000 barrels a day. The war machine was thirsty. German U boats assured that oil deliveries from the United States, at that moment in time the world's leading producer, were at least periodically disrupted. England needed to suck oil out of their own good earth with a diligence and fervor never experienced before. Who you gonna call? Texas of course! 

 Back in 1943 everyone who ever pumped some petrol into their lorries knew that Texans were oil men. It would be much later before the titans of Houston started moving their headquarters to Switzerland and talking of themselves as global concerns. Back during WW II they were just "aw shucks" humble ( well, as humble as Texans ever get) Texas Wild Catters. So the call went out to Houston's (now Geneva's) Noble Drilling Corporation to form a partnership with Fain-Porter and drill at least one hundred hopefully oil filled holes while working in secret in the famed Sherwood Forest. 

 In the spirit of allied cooperation and war time patriotism it was agreed the holes would be drilled for costs and expenses only. Forty two young drillers and rough necks ( probably draft exempt due to the vital need for oil in the war effort)  volunteered to travel to England , at that time suffering from Nazi bombing efforts and invasion plans;  for the top secret mission. The group traveled to England aboard the liner turned troop ship HMS QUEEN ELIZABETH while 50 Texas drill rigs were loaded aboard cargo ships. Only three of the rigs made it to England, the rest fell victim to Nazi U Boats. The entire drilling crew made it to England " a might short of drilling rigs" as the Texans would observe at the time. So the Texans did what Texans do, they made do with what they had, what they could get locally, or jury rig and they went to work Texas style, 12 hours a day or more, 7 days a week. 

 Within about a year, as contracted, the Texans and their cousins the Okies produced 106 producing wells. The Sherwood Forest oil patch had only yeilded 300 barrels a day before the Texans arrived. The nation was using 150,000 barrels a day in the war effort. Those Texan driven holes yielded up 300,000 barrels a day twice England's consumption for the war effort. In March of 1944 the Oil men of the Sherwood Forest mission headed back to Houston one man short. Texas derrick hand Herman Douhit was killed during the secret operation. He was buried with full military honors in England , the only civilian buried in the American Military Cemetery in Cambridge. 

 The men of Sherwood Forest went back to drilling in Texas and a number of them eventually helped figure how to transfer those drilling skills offshore as the offshore oil industry began off the coasts of Louisiana and Texas a few years after the end of the war. The generation that produced the Sherwood Forest crew and the offshore oil industry were thought capable of working miracles and that was pretty much the truth of it as long as company headquarters remained in Houston and the companies were run by men who sweated oil. Today Nobel is headquartered in Geneva Switzerland. The company was invited to drill in the US High Arctic but through two attempts now they haven't gotten their rigs through the Bering Sea. You gotta wonder how many of the suits in Geneva today were ever hands dirty in the oil patch or were educated at Texas A&M. 

Tuesday, August 21, 2018



 As many of you know from either long term following of the blog or by reading our introduction to the crew (aka production staff of the American Admiralty Books Blog) we as a group are highly interested in science, particularly the nautical arts and sciences but also all hard sciences that have utility in the maritime world. 

 Optical physics has had utility in the maritime world since before the invention of the Quartermaster's Long Glass (telescope). There have been many improvements to the Long Glass over time including the invention of the binoculars giving the conning officer and the look out depth perception when looking at objects at great distances.

File:US Navy 070310-N-9909C-002 Retired Senior Chief Fire Control Technician Hank Wristen, passes the ship's long glass to Chief Warrant Officer Robert McLaughlin.jpg 
The Long Glass is now often used in naval ceremony. Pictured above. NEW ORLEANS (March 10, 2007) – Retired Senior Chief Fire Control Technician Hank Wristen, a prior crew member aboard the WW II heavy cruiser USS New Orleans (CA 32), and the second ship to bear the name, passes the ship's long glass to Chief Warrant Officer Robert McLaughlin. McLaughlin became the first Officer of the Deck aboard the Navy's newest commissioned warship, the amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18) on March 10, 2007.  US Navy Photo # 07310-N-9

The binocular evolved into the "Big Eyes" (really big pedestal mounted binoculars) giving a wider field of view and distance perception exceeding even the later versions of the Long Glass. Laser Range Finders, and target acquisition related devices, are among the more recent contributions to navigational safety and naval combat proficiency to emerge from the labs of the optical physics departments of universities and companies. Optical physics is not alien to the nautical arts and sciences. 

File:US Navy 050419-N-7526R-060 Cryptologic Technician 1st Class Jasen Williams, right, mans the Big Eyes binoculars as Operations Specialist Seaman Stephani Wood stands by, waiting to pass along any instructions as USS Blue Ridge (.jpg
Cryptologic Technician 1st Class Jasen Williams, right, mans the "Big Eyes" binoculars as Operations Specialist Seaman Stephani Wood stands by, waiting to pass along any instructions as USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) gets underway. U.S. Navy Photo # 050419-N-7

 When we were approached by Helios Ruehls Inc. to serve as an experimental forum for their fledgling ventures into popular publishing we saw no conflict, and we perceived an opportunity. 
You may recall that this blog started out with advertising and as an Amazon books thresh hold. Then the Democrats won the governorship in the our state of business origin and banking.  By administrative fiat of dubious legality, the Democrats placed a sales tax upon all Internet purchases by the inhabitants of the state. Amazon immediately stopped offering their thresh hold arrangement within the state of our incorporation. We had to publish notices to our visitors that purchases made over any links we provided generated no revenues for us and that individuals within states having an Internet sales tax had responsibility to report all Internet purchases to their state internal revenue departments at state income tax time and to pay all out standing sales tax if the on line vendor did not collect sales tax. Pretty soon we had no advertisers either. 

 Enter Helios Ruehls,Inc. looking for publishing consultants and a test bed for ideas. At the time the blog continued to exist only as a sort of hobby activity for a couple of staffers. Zero advertising meant zero funding. But as they say in show biz "if you have a hit you have a hit, but if you have an audience you have a career." Thanks to all 600,000 + of you (and growing) the blog seems to have a life of its own , if you will "a career". Helios Ruehls helps us focus more than we would normally on the hard sciences particularly optical physics. While not all of their posts have direct maritime application we hope that we are building some new categories of visitors. The day will come when Helios Ruehls will launch their own unique blog site, but thanks to our partnership not as a completely unknown entity on the Internet. If thanks to liberal progressive socialism (Democratic Party politics) we never recover our vendor status and advertisers the experience of "operating in cooperation" with Helios Reuhls, Inc. has served us well as consultants. We look forward for at least the 2018 -19 period to continuing to bring you news from the world of optical physics and hard sciences via Helios Ruehls, Inc. 

 If you have a technology to sell that relates to the maritime world and would like to test the waters of the Internet drop us a comment in the comment section below with your contact information and we will get back to you. Both AAB and Helios Ruehls are open and happy to consider consulting, research contracts (Helios Ruehls, Inc.) , and assignments involving market testing, skunk works lab projects (Helios Ruehls, Inc. & AAB), and cooperative endeavors of various sorts involving the maritime disciplines and applied physics. 

For the Editorial Board
Johnas Presbyter