After nearly getting sunk a couple weeks back, the USS Russell‘s Destroyermen blog is back in action with this post from Commander Chris van Avery, as he ponders his ship’s approach (link broken) to the Middle East war zone:
Ahead lay sandstorms, the pounding, merciless sun and it’s evil twin, saturating humidity. Then there’s the sea. Banished are the bright, clear blues blanketed with puffy white clouds and punctuated with brilliant, glorious sunsets. Soon the sea will muddy and darken to greens and browns dotted by sea snakes, the occasional dead farm animal jettisoned by passing ships and small, fast, threatening boats. Surrounding it all are desolate shores of rock and sand that harbor some who have no love of us, our Country or the things we swear to defend.
The sky will change, too. The clouds will give way to black plumes from gas and oil platforms and potentially deadly aircraft, and great tongues of orange flame mark the night horizon. I remember well my first visit to the region and our arrival at “The Ditch”, it’s mouth flanked with glowing fire. I thought I had sailed to the Gates of Hell itself.
Finally, our business itself will change. No longer will the course of our day be mostly under our control and limited to drilling and training. We’ll become a workhorse, contracted out to labor for this or that. Hours will blend into days and days into weeks and everyone will lose count of how many ships we’ve queried and boarded, how many hours we’ve spent defending the carrier while it conducts its deadly business, and how many times a boat or aircraft came close enough to make the hair stand up on the back of necks.
Update #1: Okay, so now the link to van Avery’s post isn’t working. Not sure why, although commenter springboard suspects that the above post somehow violated operational security. Stay tuned …
This post has been pulled (link broken — ed.), and an explanation will follow. Don’t worry, we haven’t been shut down. We’re just working out the details of a new editorial process that I think will help with the consistency of the product. It’s all part of that “Rules Which Must Be Followed” thing.
Update #3: Several days after the initial publication of van Avery’s eloquent rumination on “approaching war,” all related blog posts have disappeared. The Destroyermen blog is still being updated, but it seems van Avery prefers to forget that he ever wrote about the “muddy” seas and “desolate shores” of the Persian Gulf. Fortunately, I have preserved a portion of his post here … along with his early, and unfulfilled, promise to explain why the post was yanked. We await an explanation.
Update #4: Van Avery writes in on Tuesday:
After reviewing the PA guidelines for our new AOR, the post didn’t fit. Every fleet commander puts out their own guidance and we have to adapt as we move from region to region.
What about the post “didn’t fit”? I’ve asked the good commander. Stand by.
Update #5: Van Avery sent me an email Wednesday morning:
There’s no need to be “distressed” … As I’ve noted before, the Navy’s current policies are almost completely silent with respect to this new medium, so we’re picking our way through the fog and trying to maintain a safe speed. I’ll also note again that many in the Navy have seen the potential of the medium and are working hard to find a way to adapt the policies and procedures to make it work. In the mean time, we’ve got a “learner’s permit” to continue.
As for that particular post, the general rule is we “don’t discuss current or future operations” – even in a speculative manner. With a number of ongoing conflicts in the region, I’m sure you understand why we do that. We currently have the latitude to review and release our own posts and we intend to jealously guard that authority. No one from outside the ship objected to the post, but we don’t want to give anyone a reason to issue a cease and desist order.
So, for the near term at least, we’ll continue to focus on the “life of a Sailor” stuff and steer clear of posts touching on current or future operations.