Survivors of the USS Pueblo File Lawsuit Against North Korea

It took 50 years, but crew members of the USS Pueblo that were held hostage and tortured by North Korea back in 1968 have filed a lawsuit against the Kim regime:

The Pueblo crew are led away after being captured by North Korean forces in international waters on January 23, 1968.

Survivors of the USS Pueblo are suing North Korea, 50 years after the American spy ship was seized off the Korean Peninsula and its crew held hostage and tortured for 11 months.

More than 100 crew members and relatives have joined a lawsuit, filed this month in a federal court under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act, which allows victims to sue state sponsors of terrorism for torture, hostage-taking, personal injury or death.
North Korea will almost certainly not respond to the lawsuit, and plaintiffs are unlikely to be able to recover funds directly from Pyongyang, but if successful they will be eligible for relief from a US government fund set up to support victims of terrorism.
US President Donald Trump named North Korea a state sponsor of terrorism in November, after it was removed from the list in 2008 by President George W Bush, re-opening the window to litigation against Pyongyang under the 1976 Act.
“Our clients are seeking to hold North Korea accountable for the unspeakable acts committed against the crew of the USS Pueblo more than 50 years ago and the impact it has had on them and their families since then,” the plaintiffs’ lawyers said in a statement.  [CNN]
You can read more at the link.

Picture of the Day: Outgoing US Naval Commander In Korea Receives Medal

Outgoing U.S. naval commander awarded S. Korean medal

Adm. Um Hyun-seong (R), South Korea’s chief of naval operations, poses for a photo with Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, the outgoing commander of the U.S. Naval Forces Korea, after giving Cooper a medal at a ceremony in Seoul on Jan. 9, 2018, in this photo released by the Navy. Cooper was given the Cheonsu Medal, the third-highest honor in the five-tier Order of National Security Merit, in recognition of his contribution to the alliance between the two countries. (Yonhap)

How Sailor Hid for A Week on the USS Shiloh Without Being Caught

The Navy Times has an interesting read about the Navy’s 2017 Hide and Seek champion on the USS Shiloh:

Peter Mims was a troubled sailor who wanted out of the Navy.

He had financial problems, his marriage had fallen apart and his chain of command was riding him about qualifications. He’d sought mental health counseling, but was not treated when he needed it most.

Before he disappeared from the cruiser Shiloh on June 8, Mims was known for making crazy-yet-sincere claims. Shipmates recalled him saying he had been to space, and that he could shoot fireballs out of his hands.

After he went missing and sparked a massive, 5,500 square-mile man overboard search across the Philippine Sea, the ship’s crew continued a hopeful and fruitless search for him inside the claustrophobic catacombs of the ship’s engineering spaces.

A week after he disappeared — and after his family was notified of his presumed death — a search crew found him hiding in an escape passage leading out of a sweltering engine room.

He was covered in urine and feces, and had a camelback, a multi-tool, Peeps candy and an empty peanut butter jar with him.

Mims could have been apprehended prior to his discovery when another sailor spotted him in the middle of the night, days earlier. But that sailor just went back to sleep instead of sounding the alarm.

The details behind the curious case of Peter Mims involve a struggling sailor and a crew having to scour the dark, filthy parts of a ship where most shipmates never go.  [Navy Times]

You can read the whole thing at the link, but this guy clearly had some mental issues going on that probably wasn’t helped by the highly publicized bad command climate on the USS Shiloh.

Naval Commander Claims Woman Meant Yes When She Said No to His Advances

I find it amazing that this guy was given a command of any unit considering this outrageous behavior with a subordinate officer:

Neuhart testified Tuesday and Wednesday that they discussed having sex at her house before they left the hotel. He said he “waffled” about it because he is married, with five children, and because he was her superior officer — a violation of military fraternization rules.

Tag said the hotel video showed Kristin repeatedly pushing Neuhart away, including keeping her arms up between her body and his as they kissed. Neuhart testified that he recalled “her resting her arms on his chest” in a tender way.

He also said he asked Kristin if she wanted a “safe word,” which he understood would mean that she was feeling safe as their flirting led to sex. Neuhart said she told him “no,” which he took as the safe word she had chosen. He said that in the context of their time together, “no” meant “yes.”

After letting Neuhart into her house, where they kissed and hugged, she ordered him out. He went around to the back door and set up his cellphone to record on video his repeated efforts to get inside again. Neuhart testified that he did so to have proof that, if they had sex, it was consensual.

When the video was shown to jurors, Neuhart is shown loudly knocking on the door and tugging on the handles while Kristin yelled at him to stop and go away. But, she eventually let him in and could be heard crying and screaming for him to stop.

A neighbor who heard her called 911. As San Diego police arrived, Neuhart ran out the back and into a canyon, with his still-recording cellphone in his pocket. He fell — fracturing his leg. Officer caught him and arrested him.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but anyone who has sat through US military sexual assault training knows that no means no when it is said.

Naval Pilots Punished for Drawing Obscene Image Over Central Washington

Here is the punishment the two aviators who drew the Arby’s hat over Central Washington received:

Two U.S. Navy aviators responsible for skydrawing a phallic symbol over Okanogan County on Nov. 16 have received administrative punishment, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The unnamed pilot, along with his unnamed backseat aviator, were given six months probation, according to the newspaper, and must present a series of “Change the Culture” briefs to fellow crews and students. Both airmen were based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington.

Both are members of the “Zappers” Electronic Attack Squadron 130 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The pilot was identified as a male lieutenant, according to the Union-Tribune, and used a EA-18G Growler’s contrails to draw the obscene image during a routine training course.

Neither aviator was arrested or charged with a crime under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, the Navy told the newspaper, but still face separate investigations from their Virginia-based Carrier Air Wing 3, which could lead to further punishment.  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link, but what else is there to investigate?  They clearly did something stupid, but trying to go after them with criminal charges seems pretty extreme to me.

Is North Korea Part of a Grind Down Strategy Against US Military Implemented By China?

The “grind down” strategy by China against the US Navy appears to be working judging by recent incidents:

In regard to China, in particular, neither the Obama nor the Trump administrations has shifted forces to the Pacific in sufficient enough numbers or capability, said James R. Holmes, professor of strategy at the US Naval War College.
“China has come to this commonsense realization, and understands that it can grind down adversary sea services just by being active in its ‘near seas,’ mainly the China seas,” said Holmes. “Imposing a swift ‘optempo’ on your opponent, meaning keeping him on the go all the time, wearies him over time. And while that hasn’t been a direct cause of this year’s mishaps, it does contribute to crew fatigue, cut down on training time, and thus exacerbate the factors our navy cited in its recent collision reports.”
In response, the Navy has two options, said Holmes. “We can build up our navy to a level where it can do all of these things without wearing out crews and hardware, or we can ‘pivot’ or ‘re-balance’ more of our forces to the Pacific theater.”
Holmes points out that while large, the 7th Fleet represents only a part of the US Navy. “If we can no longer overpower opponents in both the Atlantic and Pacific, then we need to make some hard choices about where to apply the bulk of our effort — and accept that that means accepting risk in the other theater.”  [CNN]
You can read the rest at the link, but that is why I have always thought the Chinese want to keep a certain level of provocations active with North Korea.  They want enough provocations to continue to strain US military resources, but they don’t want a serious enough provocation that would warrant a US attack.

Japanese Tugboat Loses Power and Collides with USS Benfold

Not being in the Navy I don’t know how common fender benders like this are, but it is pretty clear that any Navy ship that receives a scratch will lead to national headlines due to the two recent deadly ship accidents:

The USS Benfold and Republic of Singapore Navy?s RSS Endurance sail together during Exercise Pacific Griffin 2017, off the coast of Guam, August 28, 2017.

A U.S. warship collided with a Japanese commercial tug boat in Japan’s Sagami Bay on Saturday, marking the fifth time this year that a ship in the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet in the Pacific has been involved in a crash.

The Japanese tug boat lost propulsion and drifted into the USS Benfold during a towing exercise. The U.S. guided-missile destroyer sustained minimal damage, and there were no reported injuries on either vessel, according to a press release from the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.

The USS Benfold, which is awaiting a full damage assessment, remains at sea under its own power. The incident will be investigated, the 7th Fleet said.  [Good Morning America]

You can read more at the link as well as over at the Stars & Stripes.

Three US Aircraft Carriers Conduct Joint Drills in Show of Force Against North Korea

The long advertised joint drills involving three US aircraft carriers is currently taking place:

Three U.S. aircraft carriers steam in formation in the East Sea, leading South Korean and U.S. warships during the allies’ joint naval exercise on Nov. 12, 2017, in this photo provided by South Korea’s Navy. (Yonhap)

The Reagan, the flag ship of the 7th Fleet’s Carrier Strike Group 5, was conducting a combined exercise with two other supercarriers — the USS Nimitz and the USS Theodore Roosevelt — in the Korea Theater of Operations (KTO) and was also joined by South Korea’s naval ships.

“There’s an advantage to operate together, in that combined three carriers really create a tremendous amount of combat power very flexible and create a lot of options for our national leadership,” Rear Adm. Marc Dalton, commander of the Reagan strike unit, said in an interview at the ship’s “flag bridge,” which commands a view of the whole flight deck.

He would not reveal the exact location of the carrier.

According to an informed source, it was transiting the waters 50 nautical miles, or 92 kilometers, south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de-facto inter-Korean sea border, and 40 nautical miles north of Ulleung Island.

It’s unusual for the Japan-based carrier to sail so close to the NLL. It’s unprecedented for the South’s Navy to train with three U.S. flattops at the same time.

The last time three U.S. carriers were mobilized for joint drills in the Western Pacific was in 2007 near Guam.

The current training is apparently a warning message to the North’s Kim Jong-un regime and a way to put pressure on it. [Yonhap]

You can read the rest at the link, but this is a tremendous amount of fire power sitting such a short distance from North Korea.  Hopefully a strong message was sent to the Kim regime.

US Navy Rescues Two Women Off the Coast of Japan After Being Stranded for Months

I am glad these two women are okay, but here is a power tip for anyone thinking of going on a very long trip on a sailboat, learn how to sail it and bring a personal locator beacon:

The Navy has rescued two women lost in the Pacific for months after their small boat’s engine failed and they were blown off course during a voyage from Hawaii to Tahiti.

The Sasebo, Japan-based amphibious ship USS Ashland rescued Jennifer Appel and Tasha Fuiava, both of Honolulu, along with their dogs Zeus and Valentine after their adrift sailboat was spotted Wednesday about 900 miles southeast of Japan.

“Thank god we’ve been rescued,” was Appel’s first thought when she saw the American sailors approaching her stricken craft in a small boat launched from the Ashland Thursday morning.

“They saved our lives,” she said, according to a Navy statement about the rescue. “The pride and smiles we had when we saw [the Navy] on the horizon was pure relief.”  [Stars & Stripes]

You can read more at the link.