The sky was filled with color this morning, and one of them was blue, and for the first time in weeks the pavement wasn’t wet when Koko and I went walking. I love the rain, but it’s nice to let things dry out a bit, although for how long it's uncertain, as the clouds have reappeared.
Visited the Kauai Costco with a friend yesterday — my first time in that store — and the best part were the samples, as I was hungry when I went in. I can see why people shop there, because the prices are definitely lower. But I was appalled at the quantities of plastic packaging used to hold bulk items together, and couldn’t help but wonder how much electricity it’s sucking down to keep it so cold and bright.
The strife at KKCR that I’ve been writing about for weeks is finally being dragged into the cold, bright spotlight of commercial radio and print media. Jimmy Torio hosted disgruntled KKCR programmers on his KQNG radio show yesterday morning, and today The Garden Island picked up the story.
It’s good to see the issue getting broader coverage. However, I was surprised to read KKCR staff member Donna Lewis discussing as yet unproven details of programmer Ka`iulani Huff’s suspension — even as the station manager, who was on vacation while all the action was going down, is attempting to schedule a meeting with Ka`iulani to discuss the issue.
Donna also delivered a little slap to Ka`iu with her comment that the station is seeking a “responsible Hawaiian DJ” to host the “Songs of Sovereignty” show that Ka`iu founded. If volunteer programmers are required to act professionally, certainly paid staff should be held to the same standards. It doesn’t seem to me that Donna should be making digs at programmers or discussing personnel issues in emails and print, especially when they’re still unresolved.
I also found it ironic that Donna, who in locking the gate and calling police to keep out suspended programmers also prevented the general public from accessing its own community radio station, was quoted as saying: “We prefer the open-door policy and look forward to resolving the security issues so we can return to our normal routine of serving our amazing community.”
If the station management prefers the “open door policy,” it shouldn’t be locking gates, period. Because in reality, there are no “security issues” at the station, just the management’s fear.
Fear of America's newest "enemy," China, is pushing the Navy to develop a new type of vessel known as Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), as I reported in my first "Lifting the Veil" post.
As I noted in part two, the Sea Fighter, formerly known as the X-Craft, is part of that initiative, and it has been endorsed by both Hawaii Superferry investor John Lehman and Rep. Duncan Hunter of San Diego, the former Chairman and now Ranking Republican on the House Armed Services Committee.
Hunter's support is not surprising, given that San Diego-based Titan Corp. built the prototype catamaran warship under an exclusive $59.9 million contract from the Navy's Office of Naval Research, with 40 percent of the construction done in San Diego and the rest in Washington state. What’s more surprising is that the Navy never asked for, and didn’t want, such a vessel.
According to an article in the San Diego County newspaper North County Times, “Hunter said sacred cows in both Congress and the Navy had to be slaughtered to develop the Sea Fighter.
By finding funds outside the normal defense appropriations process, and by ignoring special interests such as traditional ship builders and Navy officials who ‘want to keep building big slow ships,’ Hunter said he, [Rep. Darrell] Issa [R-Vista] and Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham, R-Escondido, helped military and private industry visionaries ‘conspire to beat the bureaucracy. This is the wave of the future.’"
What exactly is the Sea Fighter?
Specifically, it’s a boxy, 262-foot-long aluminum catamaran with a maximum speed of 50 knots, or about 57 miles per hour. It drafts just 11 feet of water and can be operated by a crew of 26 officers and sailors.
According to the website globalsecurity.org: "The structure of the vessel is all aluminum with propulsion by waterjets driven by gas turbines for high speed operation and diesel engines for lower speed loitering. Sea Fighter is powered by a combined diesel or gas turbine (CODOG) engine plant outfitted with two MTU 595 diesel engines and two General Electric LM2500 gas turbines. The diesels will primarily power the ship during long-range cruising speeds, while the gas turbines will enable the sea fighter to travel at least 50 knots in calm seas and more than 40 knots in sea state four."
“The vessel has been designed for simplicity of construction and operation,” the website states. “Sea Fighter is the first vessel that the Navy has designed specifically as a ‘sea frame,’ decoupling hull, mechanical and electrical (HM&E) systems from the mission packages and allowing for a true ‘plug and fight’ mission module capability. Access to the main payload deck is via a large lift down from the flight deck or over folding ramps at the stern.”
And just where does it fit into the military’s plans?
As globalsecurity.org notes: “The X-Craft was designed to demonstrate to the US and other navies the versatility of a very high speed, high payload capability vessel which can cross oceans quickly, and operate in shallow coastal waters on missions which include mine counter measures and antisubmarine warfare.”
“Sea Fighter will conduct exercises in support of risk reduction for the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) as an ‘LCS surrogate.’ Following the exercises, Sea Fighter may be upgraded with weapons and additional electronic equipment. Ultimately, Sea Fighter may be commissioned as an operational Navy ship,” the website states.
According to the North County Times article: “The Sea Fighter's deck provides a platform for two helicopters, such as the Army's Black Hawk or the Navy's Sea Hawk. It also has a launch pad for an unmanned aerial vehicle and space below decks for launching and recovering the inflatable combat boats used by special operations forces such as the Navy's SEALs.”
When the Sea Fighter was launched in the summer of 2005, the North County Times reported that “Rear Admiral Jay Cohen, who heads the Office of Naval Research, said the Navy and Coast Guard team assigned to the ship will ‘run the pants off it’ to both weed out problems and find ways to make improvements to apply to the Navy's next class of coastal combat ships.”
In tomorrow’s post, I’ll delve into what happened to the Sea Fighter, and where it now stands.