Friday, September 14, 2007

Maine Maritime Academy Enrollment at All Time High!

I have been so busy lately with graduate school and my job that I have had almost no time to work on the site or the blog! I appreciate all the people that consistenly check my page and hope that my inactivity will scare you away!

Okay- so I don't want to talk about the same old same old this time around. You know, safety, pay, schedules, geo-politics... Nope. I would like to talk about my old stomping grounds- Yes that is right. I am a Mainiac. I am not from Maine, but I sure as hell went to the best Maritime school in the world. That is right- I said it- Maine Maritime is the best school in the country (if you want to work on a ship, that is).

Since I have been in the industry I have run across a lot of different officers- both deck and engine- and I can say without a doubt that the Maine Maritime grads were always the hardest workers. Maybe it is the cold, the isolation, the endless chipping of paint on the TS State of Maine-- Hell I had a Casual (California) Maritime cadet on my ship a few years back that said they did not have to do Maintenance on their training ship! The kid could hardly figure out which end of the needle-gun to stick on the deck!

Yes, I would have to say that I am very biased. I wasn't much of a fan of Maine Maritime when I left- I was actually dying to get away (Most of my friends could say the same). But there was something about the place that taught me how to put in a good hard days work. They taught me how to get along with my shipmates and instilled some pride in me that I might not have had otherwise. I still haven't managed to donate any money to the school yet- and I have heard rumblings from some old-timers that my class has been the worst about donating money in the history of the school. HA! (we already paid to work for them- what else do they want?)

But, the last time I went back to my old school I was happy to see the place getting a face-lift. The dorms were being renewed- new furniture- a fresh coat of paint- they even did some landscaping.

I almost didn't recognize the place.

So I was pretty happy to read an article in the Ellsworth American (a local paper, with a corresponding web-page) that said MMA was at an all-time high for new enrollments. I think that the renovations may have something to do with the increase in the student population. Well, I hope that with all the fluff on the outside that Maine Maritime will continue to pump out the rough and tumble stock of cadets (Officers) that aren't afraid to get thier hands dirty.

And hey- if any of you new kids read this and want to write about your experiences- I would love to hear it. You can submit something here- or if you would like to you could email me at webmaster (at) I am looking for some young blood to write for us part time- and YES we will pay for article submissions (upon approval). so if there are any cadets out there with some writing ability and a nose for the news- send me a resume and a short article.

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Awesome Weapons:: Pentagon holds off on using ray gun to keep order

Pentagon holds off on using ray gun to keep order::Perception of civilian torture feared

Here is the link to this AP article from the Gazette

WASHINGTON - Saddam Hussein had been gone a few weeks, and U.S. forces in Fallujah, west of Baghdad, were being called unwelcome invaders. One of the first big anti-U.S. protests of the war escalated into shootouts that left 18 Iraqis dead and 78 wounded. It would be a familiar scene in Iraq’s next few years: Crowds gather, insurgents mingle with civilians. Troops open fire, and innocents die. All the while, according to internal military correspondence obtained by The Associated Press, U.S. commanders were telling Washington that many civilian casualties could be avoided by using a nonlethal weapon developed during the past decade. Military leaders, including one at Air Force Space Command in Colorado Springs, repeatedly and urgently requested — and were denied — the device, which uses energy beams instead of bullets and lets troops break up crowds without firing a shot. It’s a ray gun that neither kills nor maims, but the Pentagon has refused to deploy it out of concern the weapon might be seen as a torture device. Perched on a Humvee or flatbed truck, the Active Denial System gives people hit by the invisible beam the sense their skin is on fire. They move out of the way quickly and without injury. On April 30, 2003, two days after the first Fallujah incident, Gene McCall, then the top scientist at Air Force Space Command, typed a two-sentence e-mail to Gen. Richard Myers, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman. “I am convinced that the tragedy at Fallujah would not have occurred if an Active Denial System had been there,” McCall told Myers, according to the e-mail obtained by AP. The system should become “an immediate priority,” McCall said. Myers referred McCall’s message to his staff, according to the e-mail chain. McCall, who retired from government in November 2003, is convinced the system would have saved lives in Iraq.
A few months after McCall’s message, in August 2003, Richard Natonski, a Marine Corps brigadier general who had just returned from Iraq, filed an “urgent” request with officials in Washington for the energybeam device. The device would minimize what Natonski described as the “CNN Effect” — the instantaneous relay of images depicting U.S. troops as aggressors.
A year later, Natonski, by then promoted to major general, again asked for the system, saying a compact and mobile version was “urgently needed,” particularly in urban settings. Natonski, now a three-star general, is the Marine Corps’ deputy commandant for plans, policies and operations. He did not respond to an interview request. In October 2004, the commander of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force “enthusiastically” endorsed Natonski’s request. Lt. Gen. James Amos said it was “critical” for Marines in Iraq to have the system. Senior officers in Iraq have continued to make the case. One December 2006 request noted that as U.S. forces are drawn down, the nonlethal weapon “will provide excellent means for economy of force.” The main reason the tool has been missing in action is public perception. With memories of the Abu Ghraib prison scandal still fresh, the Pentagon is reluctant to give troops a space-age device that could be misconstrued as a torture machine. “We want to just make sure that all the conditions are right, so when it is able to be deployed the system performs as predicted — that there isn’t any negative fallout,” said Col. Kirk Hymes, head of the Defense Department’s Joint Non-Lethal Weapons Directorate.

Now- for all of the people who think that carry weapons on the ship is a bad idea- this sort of weapon could be the answer in the future- a non-lethal but extremely painful ray that could deter boarding terrorists and pirates. I think that science will be able to develop small scale versions of this technology within the next 5 years if the pentagon will ever approve of its use. A trial by fire in Iraq could send us into an era of non-lethal combat-- This could help keep our forces overseas out of trouble and it could also be essential in protecting ships.

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