American Elephants


The HMS Bounty Is Back in the News! by The Elephant's Child

The tall ship HMS Bounty, is a replica of the famous ship sent by the Royal Navy on a botanical mission. It was sent to the South Pacific to acquire breadfruit plants and transport them to the British West Indies. The mission was never completed. Anger and bad relationships between the ship’s commander, Lieutenant William Bligh and his acting Sailing Master, Fletcher Christian, led to one of the world’s most famous mutinies. Fletcher Christian and about half the crew seized the vessel on October 28, 1789.

On December 23, 1787, the Bounty sailed from Spithead for Tahiti. The crew spent an entire month trying to round Cape Horn, but the weather prevented it. Bligh proceeded East, and rounded the Cape of Good Hope, and crossed the Indian Ocean. Bounty reached Tahiti on October 26, 1788 after ten months at sea. Bligh and the crew spent five months in  Tahiti. Many of the crew formed relations with young women, had themselves tattooed in native fashion. They set sail with their cargo of breadfruit on 4 April 1789.

Some 1300 miles west of Tahiti, near Tonga, mutiny broke out. The ship was taken bloodlessly, and apparently without any struggle except by Bligh himself. Of the 42 men on the ship, 22 joined Christian in mutiny, 18 remained loyal to Bligh and two were passive.

The mutineers ordered Bligh, two midshipmen, the surgeon’s mate, and the ship’s clerk into the ship’s boat, along with a few of the seamen. They sailed 30 nautical miles to Tofua in search of supplies, but were forced to flee when they found the natives hostile and one man was killed.  Bligh then set out for the Dutch port of Coupang, 3,500 nautical miles from Tofua, one of the great feats of navigation and seamanship.  He safely arrived there 47 days later, having lost no men during the voyage.

The Mutineers returned to Tahiti, where they set the loyalists and sixteen of the mutineers ashore. Fletcher Christian, eight other crewmen, six Tahitian men and eleven women, one with a baby set sail in the Bounty. They passed through the Fiji Islands, and the Cook Islands trying to find a safe place. On 15 January 1790 they rediscovered Pitcairn Island, which had been misplaced on admiralty maps. To prevent discovery and anyone’s escape, the ship was burned in what is now called Bounty Bay.

The stories were admirably told by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall in a trilogy : Mutiny on the Bounty, Men Against the Sea, and Pitcairn’s Island. They were originally published in the 1930s, and in many other versions ever since. Amazon has a selection of all different printings.I loved the books when I was a kid.

Movies have been made of Mutiny on the Bounty with Clark Gable and Charles Laughton, (1935),  with Marlon Brando and Trevor Howard (1962), and a 1984 movie called The Bounty with Mel Gibson and Anthony Hopkins —who goes somewhat mad. There was an earlier one with Errol Flynn, and one even earlier than that from Australia which is long lost. It’s a great sea story, based on real history, and always popular. Captain Bligh is portrayed as cruel, totally mad, a master navigator and a firm but harsh captain. Books have been written about Bligh’s accomplishments, the aftermath for Pitcairn Islanders, the rediscovery of Pitcairn. That one voyage has proved to be fodder for a multitude of stories.

Which brings us back to today. The HMS Bounty, which I believe is the replica built for the 1962 movie, was caught up in Hurricane Sandy off Cape Hatteras today. They lost steerage, and were taking on water. The Coast Guard performed a heroic rescue, and picked up 14 of the 16 crew members, all in survival suits. Two were missing, but the Coast Guard continued to search.

The sea is relatively warm, around 70° and one was known to be wearing a survival suit, though they didn’t know if the other missing man had one. It’s not known if the Bounty is still afloat.  It is 223 years and one day since the original Mutiny took place.

ADDENDUM: The Coast Guard has suspended their search for the Captain of the Bounty. The missing crew member was found, unresponsive, and died at the hospital. The ship has gone down.



Honor by The Elephant's Child
October 29, 2012, 7:47 pm
Filed under: Freedom, Heartwarming, Military, The United States | Tags: , ,

Hurricane Sandy is causing a lot of misery. Wind is no longer the biggest problem, but storm surge and high tides and great quantities of rain. The Old Guard doesn’t let a little weather interfere with duty.

(from Ace of Spades)

ADDENDUM: This picture I have learned, is not from this storm, but from an earlier storm in September. But it is a particularly fine photo by photographer Karin Markert, and especially representative of the commitment of the Tomb Sentinels.



Incompetence, Indifference, or Just Plain Cowardice? by The Elephant's Child

President Obama fired back today at critics who have accused his administration of orchestrating a cover-up over the September 11 attacks in Libya, on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” in an interview that aired Monday. The president said:

I do take offense with some suggestion that in any way, we haven’t tried to make sure that the American people knew as the information was coming in what we believed.

If we find out there was a big breakdown, and somebody didn’t do their job, they’ll be held accountable.

Ultimately, as commander-in-chief, I’m responsible, and I don’t shy away from that responsibility. My number one responsibility is to go after the folks who did this, and we’re going to make sure we get them.

Your responsibility, as commander-in-chief, Mr. President, was to protect sovereign American territory, our ambassador, and the other people in that consulate.

The correct response was to send in a rapid response team to rescue the inhabitants of the consulate and the annex, eliminate the attackers, and secure the premises and whatever materials are contained at the two locations that should not fall into other hands. No, you didn’t need the consent of the Libyan government, the U.N. or anybody else. As you keep reminding us, but do not demonstrate, you are responsible and you are the commander-in-chief.

The most notable thing so far in your four years, Mr. President, is that you do shy away from responsibility of any kind. Whatever it is, it’s always someone else’s fault. You’re very big on promising “investigations” which usually linger on until everyone gets bored and new events take over the front pages, and no one is responsible and no one gets fired. (See Fast and Furious)

You take responsibility when what you did is popular. You can’t stop taking responsibility for killing bin-Laden, though that “gutsy call” took nearly a year and constant assurances that it was Osama and he was there. If you take responsibility for that, you have to take responsibility for the doctor who helped to prove that it was indeed bin-Laden and is sentenced to years in prison for his help. And you have to take responsibility for endangering the lives of members of SEAL Team Six and their families— which is real.

As I understand the timeline of events, you watched, in the situation room, events in real time as they evolved for at least seven of the nine-hour battle. You didn’t just do nothing, you actively prevented anyone else from doing anything — purely for political purposes. Instead of following the story, you went off to Las Vegas to raise money.

You turned down constant calls for help, and you actively prevented those in the AC-130 gunships overhead from firing, even when Glen Doherty was painting the mortars that eventually killed both of these brave SEALS..

General Carter Ham, commander of U.S. Africa Command, got the same emails begging for help received by the White House, and put a rapid response team together and notified the Pentagon it was ready to go. He was ordered to stay put. “His response was to screw it, he was going to help anyhow,” writes Jim Robbins at the Washington Times. “Within 30 seconds to a minute after making the move to respond, his second in command apprehended General Ham and told him that he was now relieved of his command.” He was officially replaced by General Rodriguez.

According to various reports, one of Ambassador Stevens main missions in Libya was to facilitate the transfer of much of Gadaffi’s military equipment, including the deadly SA-7 —portable SAMs—to Islamists and other al-Qaeda-affiliated groups fighting the Assad Regime in Syria. Stevens routinely used our Benghazi mission to coordinate the Turkish, Saudi Arabian and Qatari governments’ support for insurgencies throughout the Middle East. Stevens, according to Egyptian security sources played a central role in recruiting Islamic jihadists to fight the Assad regime in Syria. There were two warehouses in the compound.

Tyrone Woods and Glen Doherty fought for something like seven hours to rescue the consulate staff, and killed 60 of the attackers before they were killed themselves by mortar fire.

This whole incident has me sick with shame, anger and disgust.  This is the worst thing ever done by any president of the United States. Lots of presidents have had to order men into battle, order them on missions from which they might not return, commit them to battle in a war that seemed never to end. But they did it for necessary reasons for the security of the whole nation.

This president kept honorable Americans from going to the aid of other honorable American in dire need — because he was afraid it might make him look bad right before the election. That is craven, cowardly and sick-making.

The president may have initiated one of the biggest cover-ups in history, or demonstrated enormous incompetence, but with a hurricane hitting the East Coast, he wants you to know that he’s right there on top of everything. He’s been to the National Response Coordination Center at FEMA headquarters in Washington DC, he’s been to the Federal Emergency Management Agency to be briefed and talked seriously on his telephone, and urged people to get some extra cash from the ATM, and pick up a solar or hand-crank charger for your cell phone. And get some emergency supplies like water, nonperishable food, batteries.




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