A reminder that international trade depends on safe, protected sea lanes and diplomatic stability.
Chinese navy ships arrive at Pearl Harbor for rare visit
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — Three Chinese ships carrying hundreds of sailors arrived in Hawaii on Friday to join a search-and-rescue exercise with the U.S. Navy during a rare visit intended to foster familiarity.
The guided missile destroyer Qingdao, a frigate and a supply ship were welcomed with performances by lion dancers and a children’s hula group. The ships carrying 680 officers and sailors will participate in the exercise on Monday with the USS Lake Erie in waters off Waikiki and Diamond Head.
The exercise is an important way for the two navies to share information about operations so they don’t misinterpret movements and potentially start a conflict, said Brad Glosserman, executive director of Pacific Forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“There are lots of places where our vessels could end up in proximity, and we want to make very sure that when that happens we have the best possible understanding of what the other side is doing and why,” he said.
The visit comes as Beijing continues to be wary about Washington’s strategic “rebalance” toward Asia, in which the Navy is basing a majority of its ships in the Pacific and the U.S. is boosting ties with longtime allies such as Australia and Japan.
China sees the moves as an effort to counter its expanding military and contain its growing economic and political influence.
Chinese ships last visited the U.S. in 2006, when the Qingdao and the Hongzehu stopped in Pearl Harbor and San Diego for communications drills and search and rescue exercises off those coasts. The two nations last held a joint drill in 2012 during an anti-piracy exercise off Somalia.
China’s military has said the drills build on a June commitment by President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping to strengthen ties.
The Navy said the visit is part of its ongoing effort to develop relationships with foreign navies to build trust, encourage cooperation, enhance transparency and avoid miscalculation.
Rear Adm. Rick Williams, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, said the two navies are showing their commitment to a stable world by working together and sharing aloha for the next several days.
“We are linked with you together in history, and we will be linked together in the future,” Williams said about China.
Rear Adm. Wei Gang, chief of staff, North Sea Fleet and head of the delegation, said there’s been steady progress in U.S.-China relations in recent years.
“This time, I, together with all the officers and the men of the task group, entrusted by our Chinese government and the people, sailed all the way across the broad Pacific and brought here to our American friends the friendly feelings of the Chinese people and the People’s Liberation Army,” Wei said through an interpreter.
During the drills, sailors will practice turning ships at sea, conduct searches and rescues, and send small boats back and forth between ships, Williams said. U.S. and Chinese helicopters will also work together.
Socializing is a major part of the visit. During the weekend, sailors will play basketball and soccer, attend two receptions, and visit the USS Arizona Memorial and the now-decommissioned World War II-era battleship Missouri.
70-years ago today…
The bloody U-boat war dragged on:
U-199 (Kptlt. Hans-Werner Kraus), a Type IXD U-boat on its first war patrol, was sunk by a US Navy Martin PBM Mariner aircraft from VP-74 in the South Atlantic east of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. There are 12 survivors from the crew of 61 and these are picked up by USS Barnegat (AVP-10).
HMAS Nizam (Cdr. C. H. Brooks, RAN commanding) picked up 6 survivors from the British merchant ‘Cornish City’ that had been torpedoed and sunk on 29th July.
In the Pacific:
USS Pogy (Lt. Cdr. George Herrick Wales, USN commanding), a Gato-class submarine on her second war patrol, torpedoed and sank the Japanese aircraft transport Mogamigawa Maru (7469 GRT) northwest of Truk.
USS Saury (Lt. Cdr. A. H. Dropp, USN commanding), a Sargo-class submarine on her seventh war patrol, was rammed by a Japanese escort in the Philippine Sea and, sustaining damage, was forced to return to Pearl Harbor.
HMCS St. Catherines (K 325), a River-class frigate built at Yarrows Ltd in Esquimalt, British Columbia was commissioned into the Royal Canadian Navy, Lt. Cdr. Herbert Coates Reynard Davis, RCNR commanding.
Commander-in-Chief remarks construed as “unlawful command influence.”
You think having a Harvard-educated law professor in the White House…
Obama’s remarks delay 2 military sex assault trials
By William Cole
The Honolulu Star-Advertiser
Published: July 22, 2013
Two sexual assault courts-martial for Navy men at Pearl Harbor are now postponed because of a comment made by President Barack Obama.
The trial issues — related to a statement by Obama, the commander in chief, that sexual assault perpetrators should be dishonorably discharged — potentially amount to “unlawful command influence” and are part of a spate of military cases nationwide in which the defense is being raised.
The fear is that court-martial boards, aware of such statements from superiors, would be swayed to give the defendant less than a fair trial and that the public would view any convictions and discharges as the boards merely following orders.
In one of the Hawaii cases, Petty Officer 2nd Class Ernest Johnson, a crew member on the destroyer USS Russell, was scheduled to go on trial June 17 on charges that he sexually assaulted another male sailor who was asleep or intoxicated, according to court records. The alleged assault happened Sept. 9.
Obama’s comment came May 7, the day the Pentagon reported that the estimated number of military personnel victimized by sexual assault had surged by about 35 percent over the past two years.
In answer to a reporter’s question, Obama said: “I have no tolerance for this. I expect consequences. So I don’t just want more speeches or awareness programs or training but folks look the other way. If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged. Period.”
Three days later Johnson’s defense counsel sought to dismiss all charges due to “unlawful command influence.”
Cmdr. Marcus Fulton, a Navy judge at Pearl Harbor, refused to dismiss the case but concluded there was apparent unlawful command influence by the president. As a remedy, he removed from possible consideration bad-conduct and dishonorable discharges in the event of a conviction.
The government prosecution appealed the decision to the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals, which halted Johnson’s impending trial.
Fulton issued a similar finding — and a similar stay in proceedings — in a sexual assault case involving Seaman Javier Fuentes Jr., a member of Patrol Squadron 47 at Kaneohe Bay, according to the appeals court.
Fuentes was accused of assaulting a woman on Maui on June 30, 2012, who “was incapable of consenting to the sexual act due to impairment by an intoxicant,” according to a Navy charging document.
In the wake of high-ranking military commanders’ stern words about sexual assaults in the military, defense attorneys have seized on those statements to claim unlawful command influence.
More than 60 Marine Corps defendants used the defense after Gen. James Amos, the commandant, made a comment in 2012 that he was “very, very disappointed” when court-martial boards don’t expel those found guilty of sexual assault. And Obama’s
May 7 utterance now has been cited in more than a dozen cases, according to news reports.
In the Johnson case, Fulton found that a member of the public “would not hear the president’s statement to be a simple admonition to hold members accountable.”
The public “would draw the connection between the ‘dishonorable discharge’ required by the president” and a punitive discharge approved by a military court.
“The strain on the system created by asking a convening authority to disregard this statement in this environment would be too much to sustain public confidence,” Fulton said.
Johnson’s counsel sought to show influence by other senior military leaders’ comments about sexual assault, but Fulton ruled those out.
Unlawful command influence, or improper interference with the court-martial process, is forbidden under Article 37 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Fulton added that appellate courts have called it “the mortal enemy of military justice.”
Fulton admitted it is not entirely clear that Article 37 applies to the president as the commander in chief.
The prosecution, in seeking to reverse Fulton’s ruling, said Obama is “not subject to” the military justice code, but also noted that the issue is “decidedly not settled.”
Lawyers for Johnson have requested oral arguments before the Navy-Marine Corps Court of Criminal Appeals at the Washington Navy Yard in Washington D.C.
The government prosecution, wanting to return the case back to the trial court as soon as possible, wants a decision without oral arguments.
Eugene Fidell, who teaches military justice at Yale Law School, said it may take a while for the issue to percolate up to the highest court of the military, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces.
“I really would be very surprised if the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces were to give the president a free pass — because careless comments by the president can have a serious adverse effect on public confidence in the administration of justice under the UCMJ,” Fidell said.
Fidell said he wonders what legal advice, if any, Obama, a former law professor, was given about unlawful command influence.
“I think he’s learned a valuable and painful lesson,” Fidell said.
The following reports the results of every Special and General Court-Martial convened within the United States Navy from January through June 2013. The cases are separated by the Navy Region in which they were tried.
Fair warning… you’re about to spend 10-hours not talking to your family.
Episode 1: All Hands
Episode 2: Controlled Chaos
Episode 3: Super Secrets
Episode 4: Squared Away
Episode 5: Show of Force
Episode 6: Groundhog Day
Episode 7: Rites of Passage
Episode 8: True Believers
Episode 9: Get Home-itis
Episode 10: Full Circle