Wednesday, September 11, 2013


Elsewhere I read a bit on where the US Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security are having some problems with their polar ice breaking fleet. This was an interesting article that came out in June. I had forgotten that they laid up the Polar Star and ran the Polar Sea to death until its engines failed.  Polar Star gets back to work. She started work-ups back in June of this year after being layed up 7 years. It's interesting to see how all these brand new bodies will replace the men and women spoken of by the USCG in this article where they speak about a highly trained and experienced crew. If they get into trouble, the Coast Guard doesn't have any ship to send to rescue them.

The size of the icepack has been changing ever since the world cooled down several billion years ago. I initially thought that what we saw in reading about the decline in our icebreaker fleet was due to the cool-aid drinking the government is so known for these days on Global Warming. It may have started that way here but I think what happened was the Coast Guard found that a well crafted plan to lease icebreakers for little money, found out that being at the tender mercies of people that have the only ships in the world to perform your essential missions, turns into an even more hideously expensive proposition than planners ever thought. I'm willing to bet that the cost of leasing a big ice breaker just to resupply McMurdo Station and get tanker loads of fuel into small towns in Alaska cost more each year than the annual operating cost of the old USCG ice breaker fleet with no sign of easing up.

The second link gives someone's anticipated replacement cost for a heavy icebreaker. It runs $925 million for each. I think we all know the price will have at least doubled by the time that ship is delivered. In previous days, the big time budgeteers knew that when they were invariably hauled into court by the shipyards and forced to cough up billions for "unexpected" cost-overruns, they could rob Peter to pay Paul. I don't believe that money is there anymore. It's a newer system in place now of universal skint. There's not the money anymore that it can be moved from one pot to another to make up shortfalls of billions.

I used to have an amusing book by a man named Hadley. He was a tanker, of sorts, in World War II and it was his job to command the Army's only Talking Tank. Yes he got laughed at but then everybody noticed something. When the tank with the giant loudspeaker pulled up to edge of battle and well within it, and announced that surrender was an easy option and everybody would be well-treated, the number of enemy who surrendered promptly was enormous. It seems that the voice of reason needs a little amplification on the battlefield. It saved a lot of lives.

One day the talking tank broke down and the general ordered his men to repair it pronto. The engineers dragged it to the tank repair depot and told the LT there to fix it pronto. When asked what it's priority was the LT was told, "the highest priority. It is the general's command that the talking tank return to battle asap!" The LT called the sergeant and passed on the order and he lead the talking tank to a tree where a young private was working on welding up a jeep. He was the only welder at the depot. He was ordered to fix the tank as his highest priority since it was the general's order. He looked at Hadley and the sergeant and said, "I'm working now on fixing the general's jeep. Which one has priority?

I wish the guy I loaned the book to would return it some day. It's been about 10 years.


Anne Bonney said...

I like the story, but I'm sure you know that the word "loan" is just a euphemism for "gift" when it comes to books.

HMS Defiant said...

Speaking of that, I'm heading back with a grand total of one book; signed by the author no less. It fell on me yesterday.