Captain Phillips and Some Other Stuff

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By Michael Shrimpton

ScreenHunter_2434 Nov. 09 18.47 

A couple of weeks back I promised a review of this fine movie, starring Tom Hanks, which I saw last week at our local Odeon, but firstly allow me to deal with some of the comments on last week’s article.  I still cannot log on directly, for some odd technical reason, so I stopped posting comments some time ago.
In any event highlighting some of the more intelligent postings in the next article gives them greater coverage.  I would draw folks’ attention to Jim Dean’s comments about posting.  There will usually be a delay, for entirely understandable reasons.  VT are good enough to e-mail posts to commentators in advance, but I don’t think I have ever sought to block one.  If a post breaches VT guidelines the boys will knock it back and rightly so.  They are far more qualified to interpret the guidelines than myself, over here in lil’ ol’ England.
SSTV

Much lunar hoaxery focuses on the photos/TV imagery, taking frankly very bad points.  Since many people believe entirely in good faith that Americans never walked on the moon it is worth explaining why the arguments against do not stack up.  I believe in engaging in debate – if bad points are not taken apart they will just get repeated, ad infinitum.
Martin Mahoney rightly takes me to task for loose use of language when I said that the TV broadcasts from the lunar surface were ‘converted’ into standard US transmissions.  As he points out, they were rebroadcast, i.e. a TV camera at NASA was pointed at a 10” screen showing the lunar transmission, which was Slow Scan TV (SSTV).  This partly explains the poor quality.
As the required bandwidth was only 8.75% of NTSC standard transmissions, the little ‘umbrella-sized’ antenna got the job done.
The correct link for Robert A Braeunig’s site is: www.braeunig.us/space.  You will see a link to the moon hoax page on the left.  I gather it was corrupted when it went up on the site.
The Lunar Surface Photo
My IT skills aren’t up to the fine job of editing done by Jim Dean and the boys, and I don’t actually select the photos.  That said, last week’s photo of the lunar surface was just what I would have chosen!  I am not sure who took it or when, but it looks real enough to me.  There are at least six Lunar Module lower stages up there – when the Lunar Modules blasted off the redundant landing platform was left on the surface.
Pace Lynn’s comment from Annapolis (always good to hear from Annapolis!) I think the photo VT put up of Nigel Davenport was indeed that of the great man.  I don’t think Sir Alan Bates was in Mary Queen of Scots.  However Lynn was clearly paying attention!!
When we return to the Moon we should bring one of the landing stages back and put it on display at the Smithsonian.  I am sure the Science Museum in London would like one too.  My old friend Sir Patrick Moore, the astronomer, (we once shared a platform together, in 1999 as I recall – he was warning even then that the planet was about to enter a long cooling phase and we were in for some severe winters) would have approved.  He fronted the BBC’s coverage of Apollo XI and helped NASA out with lunar mapping.  Sadly, he passed last December.
Skorzeny and the Brotherhood
Great point!  As ‘Dieter the Hun’ points out there is now evidence in the public domain that the late SS-Standartanführer Otto Skorzeny, a man so evil he supported the creation of the EEC, worked with the Muslim Brotherhood after the war.  Of course he did!  He was in charge of the DVD’s Sabotage Section, which also does terrorism.  The Egyptian General Staff understand this, one reason why Morsi is in the dock, where he belongs.
I can reassure Dieter over Dresden.  The German casualty claims were vastly exaggerated, on the orders of their chief spin-doctor, Goebbels.  Frederick Taylor (Dresden, which the BBC asked me to review when it was published) gives the most authoritative published analysis, and concludes that about 25,000 community partners died in the three great Allied raids in February 1945.
I think even that figure is too high, with respect.  In Spyhunter I go for about 18,000.  Very few refugees would have hung around once the target-markers started coming down.  Frankly, I thought the 60th anniversary celebration of the raids was a bit mooted.  If, God forbid, we’re still in the EU by February 2015 I predict that the 70th anniversary celebration will be a bit wilder.  Hopefully there will be fireworks displays.  The surviving aircrew, some of whom I have been privileged to meet through Bomber Command Association, will be treated like the heroes they are, God Bless them.
If that sounds a bit tough to American ears I should explain that here in Britain we are being ground under the EU jackboot and are a bit fed up with it, just as we were a bit fed up with the Nazis by 1945.  That is why we unloaded over 5 kilotons of high explosives and incendiaries on Dresden and broke some of their china.  Britain and Germany are moving slowly towards war and we’ll need better statesmanship than is on display at the moment to avoid it.  Of course GCHQ are paying close attention to the ‘Hun’s’ communications, not least since Operation Vulcan and the planned nuclear attack on the London Olympics last year.  Germany is my country’s principal enemy – and your’s, not least given the close Sino-German alliance, which recalls the Axis Pact.
Apollo XX
Quite how you would hide a Saturn 5 launch is a little unclear, especially at night, but there is a fascinating comment from Tyrone Parsons about a hitherto unpublicized ‘Apollo XX’ mission.  This might explain why there has been an official reluctance to dish out photos of the lunar surface!
I have an open mind about follow-on covert Apollo missions.  A lot of space missions are military and classified – most Shuttle astronauts will tell you there are missions they can’t talk about.  The covert German space program, which I think was directed by Kurt Tank, working with von Braun, is also of interest.  You guys gave von Braun the order of the boot after CIA confirmed he was still working for the ‘Krauts’ and had planned the sabotage of Apollo 1, something a nice lady CIA officer confirmed to me on my most recent trip to the States, although I am not sure she meant to!  She later did a little backtracking, probably after a phone call to Langley asking “so who’s this guy Shrimpton?”).
Captain Phillips
You must see this movie.  Directed by Paul Greengrass, it features a truly outstanding performance from Tom Hanks.  Far more factually accurate than most Hollywood offerings, it really engages the audience.  You see the product of fine intelligence work, in which a friend of mine participated, when the US Navy tells the pirates on the radio that the Good Guys know who they are.  I was trying to set up something similar with SOCA in the UK before the Nairobi Westgate terror attack, partly based on my knowledge of how that intel was gathered.  SOCA however just do not understand HUMINT, any more than Thames Valley Police.
You feel like cheering when the USS Bainbridge (DDG-96, Arleigh Burke class – fine ship) rolls up, although of course the boys on the Maersk Alabama really needed her when the pirates attacked.  This was not the fault of the Bainbridge’s skipper.  Policy, including the Obama Administration’s small navy policy, dictates that merchant ships are not normally given close naval escort.  This ignores the lesson we learnt at such tremendous cost in 1917 and you guys in ’42.  There is no substitute for naval escort through a warzone.  Air and sea patrols are not enough.
The same goes for hoses.  Trying to beat off pirates with water is hopeless.  What the boys needed was firepower, not waterpower.  A Browning 50-cal would have done nicely, although some old-fashioned 20-mil Oerlikons would have been even better.  There are still a few around.  We brought lots of ancient naval guns out of storage in ’39, hell we even put old breech-loading 6 inchers on our Armed Merchant Cruisers.  They still got sunk, but at least they got a few potshots off at ‘Jerry’ before they went down (and yes, Tovey did blow the Bismarck out of the water – she was actually finished off by torpedoes from dear old HMS Dorsetshire).  You won’t find a bunch of Somali pirates rolling up in the Scharnhorst.
All officers on merchant ships should be permitted to carry sidearms for the duration of the War on Terror.  Captain Phillips really needed a Big Sig.  He did the best he could, trying to reason with the pirates who stormed his bridge, but experience shows that it is much easier to reason with pirates after you have shot them.
The movie has a sad ending in one sense, in that the surviving pirate is not hanged and ends up serving a soft sentence in a cushy federal penitentiary somewhere.  Piracy is a crime jure gentium.  Pirates should be executed, nicely, as a matter of course.  This does not mean hanging them from yardarms – even Mike Mullen, when CNO (seriously good people) thought I was calling for pirates to be hanged from yardarms when I made the point at a maritime conference.  Admiral Mullen by the way started his distinguished naval career on USS Collett (DD-730), the first US warship I ever set foot on, as a young lad, when she was visiting Brisbane on an R & R, having done good work off Vietnam.  Mike might even have been on board her.
For the record, I am totally opposed to hanging pirates from yardarms.  It might damage the antennae.
Next Week
As the 50th anniversary of President Kennedy’s disgraceful assassination by the DVD is coming up I thought I would start a series of articles on the topic.  The classic movie will be Midway, which will not be showing in a theater near you.

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