Monthly Archives: May 2011

Media coverage of USS George HW Bush

Well its been a hectic couple of days here in Portsmouth, with 6,000+ US Sailors in town. I’ve collected some of the media coverage for you all, whether you be families stateside or just general ship nerds such as myself!

BBC News – USS George HW Bush anchors off Portsmouth (inc video)

BBC News – USS George HW Bush aircraft carrier crew in Portsmouth

Portsmouth News – It’s party time as 6,000 US sailors descend on the city

Portsmouth News – US invasion of the city begins

War on Terror News

And I’ve found some youtube clips from people who managed to get out on the boat trips. As you can see, it was a rough one!

The guys and girls from the Bush have made a lot of friends in Portsmouth, its been a great PR exercise for the US Navy. There’s been no hint of trouble, and all of the shop and barworkers are amazed at being called ‘sir’ and ‘maam’ all the time! Me and Sarah had a couple of drinks at Tiger Tiger at Gunwharf Quays, and one of the sailors showed us a new cocktail – black vodka, monster and coke – looks foul but tastes pretty good!

Oh, and lets not forget the Spaniards – they’ve been walking around in full uniform, including bobbles on hats and Hornblower style boat cloaks!

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USS George HW Bush in the Solent

Unfortunately due to time and weather I haven’t been able to get out to have a look at the Bush close up, but here are some pics taken from Stokes Bay, about a mile away:

If anybody – partricularly anyone stateside with folks on the Bush – would like any larger hi-res pics, please let me know.

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SPS Almirante don Juan de Bourbon

The Truxtun was followed by the Almirante Juan de Bourbon, an Alvaro de Bazan class frigate of the Spanish navy. Note how she looks like a sleeker, stealthier Burke – both were built on the same Aegis system, but the Bazans are newer.

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USS Truxtun

The USS Truxtun entering Portsmouth earlier this morning. She’s an Arleigh Burke class destroyer of the US Navy here for the weekend after exercise Saxon warrior with the USS George HW Bush carrier group.

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USS Bush arrives in the Solent tomorrow

Stokes Bay, England (Apr. 6, 2005) - The Nimit...

A Nimitz Class Carrier in the Solent (Image via Wikipedia)

After a long wait, the USS George HW Bush arrives in the Solent early tomorrow morning.

At 7am she will begin moving from the Nab Tower area towards Spithead. She will arrive at Charlie Anchorage off Stokes Bay at 0830.

Her escorts meanwhile – the US Destroyer USS Truxtun and the Spanish Frigate SPS Almirante don Juan de Borbon – begin sailing from the Nab to Outer Spit Boy at 0745. They should pass the Round Tower at around 0845 and 0900 respectively. The Truxtun will be mooring at Middle Slip Jetty and will be visible from the Gosport Waterfront, while the Borbon will be on North Corner Jetty – visible from up the Harbour, including on top of Portsdown Hill for those with decent lenses.

Meanwhile HMS Westminster and HMS Dauntless, who have been on exercise with the US and Spanish ships, will be arriving at about 0915 and 1015 respectively.

Later in the day the supply ship RFA Fort Austin will be leaving for a refit on Birkenhead. She will be leaving under tow, and should pass the Round Tower at about 1345.

Wondering where all these places are? Click here.

All in all a very busy day in Pompey, and an excellent time to go on a harbour tour, as we have all three Type 45’s in, a US Arleigh Burke, and a Spanish Alvaro de Bazan.

If anyone stateside is worried about security of the US ships, I’ll quote this from the Queens Harbour Master of Portsmouth:

  1. NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN by the Queen’s Harbour Master Portsmouth that between 27 and 31 May 2011 a nuclear powered military warship will conduct a formal visit to Portsmouth. During this period, the nuclear vessel will be anchored at “C Anchorage” in the Central Solent.
  2. Mariners are advised that the nuclear vessel is deemed to be “a vessel constrained by her draught” as defined under the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS Rule 3(f) and 18) and is to be considered a vessel which can safely navigate only within a narrow channel or fairway (COLREGS Rule 9) at all times when underway within the Dockyard Port of Portsmouth.
  3. Mariners are further advised that LNTM 07/11 (Dormant Exclusion Zone for Underway Warships) will be activated for the entry and departure of the nuclear vessel. In summary all vessels except those involved in the escort are to remain 250 metres clear of the nuclear vessel whilst it is underway. VTS Southampton, acting with QHM’s authority, will direct commercial traffic to keep outside this zone. Warning broadcasts will be made on VHF Channels 11, 12 and 16 as appropriate and the escort vessels will show blue flashing lights.
  4. Whilst at anchor there will be a 250 metre Exclusion Zone in place around the nuclear vessel, which will be enforced by Ministry of Defence Police. Only vessels authorised by QHM will be allowed to enter this zone.
  5. For the duration of the visit, miscellaneous service craft will be berthed alongside the nuclear vessel and mariners passing C Anchorage should amend their passage plans to ensure they avoid the restricted area. Vessels navigating in the vicinity are to maintain a listening watch on VHF and are to be aware of the effects of their wake and are to reduce speed accordingly.

And here’s some coverage in the local press:

The Yank’s are coming!

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Chitral Charlie by N.S. Nash

Since studying the Operation Market Garden from an early age, I have had a keen interest in military incompetence. Arguably, one of the most well-known military disasters was that of Arnhem. Whether Boy Browning was culpable has been debated ever since. On the other hand, modern historians nowadays accept that Arthur Percival could not have done much more than he did to save Singapore from surrender.

Yet perhaps the greatest military disaster to befall the British Empire was that of Kut. During the Great War British and Indian troops advanced in Mesopotamia – modern Iraq – against the Ottoman Turk. In command was Major-General Charles Townshend. Townshend had joined the British Army in the late Victorian period. It is interesting that he chose a military career, as he had a very keen interest in the theatre and performing arts, and liked moving in those circles.

It is probably surprising that Townshend managed to reach the rank of Major-General at all. He spent large periods on leave gallivanting around Europe and North America, and swapped cap-badges for a hobby. But perhaps worst of all, he had a nasty habit of alienating his superiors, and even officers who supported him soon grew tired of his obsessive letter writing. He was constantly hassling commanders for a better posting, or bemoaning his supposed ill-fortune.

So why did the Army not simply cut him off at a lower rank? Firstly, Townshend did serve in the Sudan under Kitchener, and on the North West Frontier in India. He was awarded a total of NINE mentions in despatches. Secondly, patronage still counted for much in the British Armed forces, and ability and potential were not always the final arbiter of a career.

Regulars will by now be fed up of reading my opinion of military biographies – ie, that they are mostly hopelessly inadequate. Yet this attempt by ‘Tank’ Nash is very fair. It bears no baggage, recognises Townshend’s service but also calls his indiscretions and weaknesses very accurately.

Townshend at first advanced into Iraq, pushing the Turk’s onto the back foot. Drunk on victory, he decided to stand at Kut, and await reinforcements. The reinforcements never arrived, and eventually, after a bloody siege, Townshend and his men were captured. Many of them died brutally, yet Townshend spent the rest of the war in luxury in Constantinople. Not only did he show little concern over his men, but when he returned home he could not understand why he came in for such criticism. Incredibly, he felt that he could act as an envoy to the Turks, and could not comprehend that the Army was keen to get shot of him as soon as possible.

Townshend has many similarities with Browning. Both had shown bravery early in the careers, but then spent time away from active soldiering, and hence were rusty when war came. And worst of all, both careers were driven by ambition and patronage rather than ability. And lost battles were the result.

Chitral Charlie is published by Pen and Sword

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HMS Protector

The Royal Navy’s new ice patrol ship HMS Protector entering a blustery Portsmouth today.

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