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No Deadliest Catch 10th Season: Returns as Somali Spin-Off

International Maritime Satire Week Warning: The following is a piece of fiction intended to elicit insight through the use of satire and written by those who do not make a living being funny – so it’s not serious and very well might not be funny. See the rest of our IntMarSatWeek offerings here

 

DeadliestSILVER SPRING, MD—After a series of logistical challenges filming Deadliest Catch in the South China Sea, the Discovery Channel announced a new spin-off series set off the Somali coast to replace the show for 2014 in what would have been the show’s 10th season.

Sources say that Bill Goodwyn, Discovery’s President of Domestic Distribution and Enterprises labeled the most recent season of Deadliest Catch a “goddamn shipwreck” after the series filmed the 9th season in the South China Sea. Despite Discovery’s vision, Deadliest Catch faced a series of hurdles including clashes with Japanese nationalists near the Senkaku Islands, and most recently, the loss of an aerial camera drone in China’s Air Defense Identification Zone or ADIZ.

Discovery hopes to rejuvenate the successful ten-year-old franchise with a new spin-off series set in Somalia. Tentatively titled “Deadliest Catch: Somali Waters,” renowned producer Todd Stanley is attached to serve as the showrunner for this new series, slated to air in early 2014. Richard Phillips and Abduwali Muse are also named as associate producers.

After announcing the series on Twitter, Stanley explained “Look, there’s been a lot of maritime activity off the coast of Somalia for years and frankly the clan dynamics stimulate an enormous amount of competition between Somali fishermen—wait till you see the Habar Gidirs take on the Mijurtinis. While the piracy business hasn’t been the cash cow for these guys it once was, with our backing you’ll see some of these guys go out for two or three weeks and come back with a load of Yellowfin Tuna, a dry-bulk carrier, or even a handful of Indian hostages.” Officials at the Discovery quickly pointed out that the show abides by all Somali laws and maritime regulations.

Members of the Digil Coast Guard on patrol
Members of the Digil Coast Guard on patrol

Bilal Eggeh, an elder affiliated with the Saleban clan, expressed his excitement for the show: “This will not only be a great opportunity for the Saleban to glorify their ancestors against the Duduble filth, but will also provide better programming than Al Shabab behadings and Duck Dynasty.” An Al Shabab spokesperson rejected these comments on Twitter and explained that his organization serves as the main maritime law enforcement organization in Kismayo, a coastal town, and that Nielson ratings show the beheadings do well in the coveted 18-34 demographic.

Stanley intends to replicate the filming and production methodology utilized in the Deadliest Catch. Three separate camera crews will follow nominal “fishing” motherships piloted by the Eidagalla, Ajuran, and Ogadeni clans. Additional crews will follow the USS Farragut, on patrol in the Recommended Transit Corridor; the Puntland Maritime Police Force, conducting shore-based operations; and the local coast guard operated by the Digil clan. An additional crew will cover mundane business affairs in the cities of Eyl and Kismayo. Thom Beers will also narrate segments of the series—a staple of the Deadliest Catch franchise.

Despite Discovery’s optimism, the show already faces opposition. The move to the South China Sea triggered a wave of controversy from loyal fans, with one fan claiming that “It sounds un-American.” Captain Brad Cooper of the USS Gettysburg (CG-64) said “At first I thought this was b******t – we finally had this Somali piracy thing mostly licked and now they’re helping get some of these guys back up and running? But anytime I can tell my kids I got to fight pirates they actually know what I’m talking about, unlike forward naval presence ops.’” Khaled Hiyani, a member of Hizbul Islam, issued a statement condemning the show and labeling the producers as infidels. Roelf van Heerden, a South African security consultant with Sterling Corporate Services, briefly said, “These guys are idiots.”

Yet, Discovery remains determined in the spin-off to experiment with the successful formula that other reality shows have used.

Deadliest Catch: Somali Waters is scheduled to premiere on April 15 at 9:00 EST on Discovery.

Innovation Files: eCART – Correspondence Tracker

Within the U.S. Navy, routing up correspondence seems fairly straightforward, but in the execution there always seems to be issues that make it anything but.   In some commands, dozens of pieces of correspondence are routed per day, and in even the best commands, an occasional piece of correspondence tends to either get lost or misplaced.  Conversely, if leaders aren’t accountable, correspondence may be held onto for longer than standard policy, contributing to a negative climate.  Either way, it seems like locating correspondence is always a hot topic.  One thing I’ve noticed, when managing an administrative department at sea, is that most of the e-mails, questions, and drop-ins we received were related to the tracking of correspondence.

There is no standard issued software to administer the routing of correspondence at sea, so we decided to create one with support from other members of the administrative department and the CMC.  The software, called eCART (Electronic Correspondence and Routing Tracker), is used to track all correspondence that goes up through the ship’s office to the XO and/or CO.
eCART_1
Correspondence is still placed in a traditional folder with a routing slip, however, leaders now input the correspondence name into the eCART program for tracking.  When it’s hand carried to the next person that it’s going up to, the user clicks a button in eCART to mark it as being “routed” to that next position in the chop chain.  The program then automatically sends them an e-mail informing them they now have custody of that certain piece of correspondence.  For ease of use, the e-mail contains a link that takes them to the eCART program, where they themselves can continue routing the correspondence up the chain.

When a user is routing up correspondence via eCART, they can add comments electronically.  These comments, as well as the full chain of custody with dates and times, are seen both up and down the chop chain to increase transparency in the process.  When there are new comments to be read, there will be an asterisk preceding the subject that alerts the user.  The interface is very straightforward and is broken into two tabs – “My box” and “My Correspondence”.
eCART_2
“My box” displays all the pieces of correspondence that the user’s position has custody of.  “My Correspondence” displays all the originating correspondence from that user whose routing is still in progress or marked as completed/returned.  For personnel that wear more than one hat, they could switch back and forth between their positions in the program by selecting their role in a drop-down box (ie: OPS may be the Safety Officer, and STRIKE may be the Legal-O).  This allows any number of authorized users (even a whole office) to control one box and all receive e-mail notifications.  It also allows another authorized user to fill into a position as “acting”.  Thus, the routing process can still function when someone goes on leave or TAD.  Since having several users control a box could create a problem with accountability, the program always logs the specific person that takes any action.

eCART_3
Included is a complete administrator interface, which allows designated managers to add, modify, and deactivate users and positions.  There is also an option that allows the user to skip all e-mail routing notifications, which may be useful for VIP positions like the XO and CO that receive many pieces of correspondence.   However, for the XO and CO, who may not want to be bothered to use the program themselves, it is more likely for designated authorized users, such as members of the ship’s office, to go in and record a change every time correspondence is transferred in or out of their boxes.

The program is built entirely on Microsoft Access.  One Access file (acting as the database) is put onto a hidden directory on the ship’s shared drive or exchange server.  A second Access file containing the user interface on top of 850 lines of VBA scripting acts as the client and is also put on the shared drive or exchange server as read-only and distributed to users.  The client calls and communicates with the Access database on the network, which allows it to serve as a de facto software and database package, supporting up to 50 users accessing it simultaneously.  The database file can easily be saved, backed up, and even transferred between LANs by simply compressing it into a zip file.  The program calls and interacts with Outlook e-mail through an appropriate reference, and automatically detects the Windows’ user and alias information, so it automatically logs in the appropriate user when opening the program.

eCART is a finished product that can be deployed at any command, but is specifically intended for commands at-sea.  Initially, it may be hard for all leaders in a command to adopt this new process, but with proper training, and even the implementation of policies such as one that rejects any correspondence not logged in eCART, it can easily become second nature.

Zachary Howitt is a proud American, Naval Officer, and Tech Entrepreneur. He is a designated operations analysis subspecialist and has served in two warships forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. His opinions and views expressed in this post are his alone and are presented in his personal capacity. They do not necessarily represent the views of U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy, or any command.

Flashpoint: South Pacific – Vanuatu and New Caledonia

Islands

Who knew that France is still involved in a conflict over South Pacific maritime boundaries? Tell the French that their opponent in the conflict is Vanuatu and many will answer “What’s a Vanuatu?”

Few French even know that France claims one of the biggest aggregate maritime territories in the world. Indeed, due to its numerous overseas departments and territories, France possesses the second largest exclusive economic zone (EEZ) in the world, covering 11,035,000 km², just behind that of the United States, with 11,351,000km².

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese Prime Minister, even said in June 2013, that “France is a big maritime power,” and that France and Japan should collaborate for security issues in the Asia-Pacific region. Following up this sentiment, during Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida’s visit to Paris, the two nations agreed to closer military ties.

Funny enough, France is never mentioned in Australia’s Defence White Paper 2013. And yet Spain is, despite lacking any territory in the South Pacific. France on the other hand retains French Polynesia, Wallis and Futuna, and New Caledonia, a territory with an EEZ as big as South Africa’s.

One of New Caledonia’s neighbors, Vanuatu, then known as the New Hebrides, was a Franco-British Condominium (a territory with shared sovereignty) from 1906 to 1980. Nowhere else on earth were two colonial powers sharing an island. (Well, they of course first competed for it, before deciding to rule it jointly.)

While the former colony maintained formal relations with France after gaining independence, two little inhabited rocky islands known as Matthew and Hunter became the cause of a maritime boundary issue between the two nations.

In 1976, prior to Vanuatu’s/New Hebrides’ independence, France annexed Matthew and Hunter islands to New Caledonia rather than keep them in the New Hebrides condominium.
The Vanuatu government of the time rejected French sovereignty over the islands and planted the Vanuatu flag on Hunter Island in 1993 but a French patrol vessel prevented the party from reaching Matthew Island. France nowadays maintains a naval presence and an automated weather station on Matthew.

In 2009, the Vanuatu Prime Minister and the independence movement of New Caledonia, the FLNKS, signed a document – with no legal value – recognizing the Vanuatu sovereignty over Matthew and Hunter islands. This gesture is all the more surprising given that France has always stated that the two islands belong to the territory of New Caledonia, and that Vanuatu’s economy is largely supported by French development aid, as well as aid from Iceland, Australia, Japan, New Zealand, and others.

But in Vanuatu, the legends associated with these southern islands demonstrate the importance of these two islands in the Ni-Vanuatu (Vanuatu people) tradition. Matthew is known as the “House of the Gods” where the spirits of the dead go rest. Ni-Vanuatu speak of traveling regularly from the islands of the Vanuatu archipelago to Hunter and Matthew, singing and dancing when they were on one or the other of the two islands in dispute today. On the other hand, there is no known legend of these islands in New Caledonia.

Vanuatu claims that the two islands are part of its archipelago based on its offered geological and cartographic evidence. Those two islets are even being fought for before the UN under terms of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS)

The dispute spilled has also unsettled relations with neighbors. In 1982, for example, Fiji and New Caledonia signed an agreement on mutual recognition of their maritime boundaries, in which Fiji recognized French ownership of the Matthew and Hunter Islands. The action upset Vanuatu, which demanded that Fiji recognize Ni-Vanuatu sovereignty over the islands, stating that failure to do so would be a blow to peace in the region, but Fiji did not revoke its signature.
Oh, I almost forgot: Hunter Island is also unofficially claimed by the micronation Republic of Lostisland, which undertook an expedition to the island in July 2012. Lostisland is an international project generally classified as a micronation, with citizens from all over the world aiming to achieve the independence and sovereignty of the Hunter Island. But the likelihood of it impacting New Caledonian or Ni-Vanuatu claims is nil.

For all the fuss, the Matthew and Hunter Islands are two little volcanic islets that look pretty boring from above. See for yourself:

Nor are they big – Matthew is 0.1km² and Hunter 0.4km². So why are they so important for France? Is it because they are a sanctuary for the terns and playground for the studies of meteorologists and ornithologists? Of course not. France dreams of extending its sovereign rights over an additional 2,000,000km².

But it is serious business – at stake are the exploration and exploitation of hydrocarbons and rare metals, as well fishery resources. The exact resource contents of these areas will have to be determined by further scientific studies. It is clearly a bet for the future.

To take advantage of these potential riches, France filed extension requests for fourteen geographical areas with the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf of the United Nations in 2009. A special French interdepartmental program (steering committee composed of seven departments) called Extraplac was created in 2002 to prepare for all potential expansion areas, without studying fisheries or mineral resources. Extraplac could also present common issues with other coastal states sharing the same continental shelf.

But the extension of the continental shelf would involve substantial financial resources to ensure the protection and control of the newly acquired areas, but the deep cut in the finances of the Ministry of Defense does not make this possible at the moment.
A final problem exists. Article 121 of UNCLOS states that “rocks which cannot sustain human habitation or economic life of their own, have no exclusive economic zone or continental shelf.” However, the story of the inhabited Clipperton islet in the North Pacific with its 431,015 km² big EEZ shows that France, like many, has a broad interpretation of the ability to sustain economic life.

At the same time, Article 47 of UNCLOS states that an archipelagic State may draw straight baselines “joining the outermost points of the outermost islands and drying reefs of the archipelago provided that within such baselines are included the main islands.” As such a state, if Vanuatu can also claim Matthew and Hunter islands as part of its territory and archipelago, it would be able to draw its baseline to the islands and thereby extend its EEZ from the islands without concern for Article 121.

It’s important to note that the Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf is charged with making recommendations to states, based on scientific evidence, on demarcating continental shelves (thereby conferring rights) when these shelves exceed the standard 200nm EEZ. However, it is up to the states themselves to enact the recommendations and settle the territorial claims.

Pretty interesting stuff happens in the South Pacific, huh?

Alix is a writer, researcher, and correspondent on the Asia-Pacific region for Marine Renewable Energy LTD. She previously served as a maritime policy advisor to the New Zealand Consul General in New Caledonia and as the French Navy’s Deputy Bureau Chief for State Action at Sea, New Caledonia Maritime Zone.

CIMSEC’s San Diego Jan Meet-Up

1535581_10100595204103015_1555322923_nSan Diego CIMSECians rejoice! Our San Diego Chapter will be having its first informal meet-up (no-host happy hour). No formal agenda, just bring yourself and a desire to chat with maritime folk on the issues that concern you. Eric Hahn is organizing the outing and can be reached at sandiego@cimsec.org for more details.

Where: The Fish Market, 750 North Harbor Drive (by the USS Midway: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zIJGW4d6Azao.kX5JVKNV3uy4)

When: Wed, Jan 22nd 6:30pm-9:00pm

RSVP: sandiego@cimsec.org. All are welcome.