Public Service Announcement: This unidentifiable semi-auto handgun came into a shop in Michigan recently, unable to fire.
I wonder why?
After an overnight soak and full disassembly, it was returned to service. The baggie of debris is what had to be scraped away.
A little regular maintenance can work wonders. Also, be sure not to get too crazy with the lube, as it drags lint, dandruff, cat hair, et. al down from the surface into the inner regions of a gun’s action, and can leave you after a while with an unsat condition.
Seattle saw the reappearance of “Building 10,” the common designation of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Star (WAGB-10), as she returned this week to her homeport after an epic 105-day deployment to Antarctica in support of Operation Deep Freeze, the 63rd year for the annual mission to supply McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
As the vessel is 43-years-young and has seen lots of hard service (she rams icebergs on purpose) things did not go as planned along the 11,200-mile sortie.
From the Coast Guard:
During the transit to Antarctica, one of the ship’s electrical systems began to smoke, causing damage to wiring in an electrical switchboard, and one of the ship’s two evaporators used to make drinkable water failed. The electrical switchboard was repaired by the crew, and the ship’s evaporator was repaired after parts were received during a port call in Wellington, New Zealand.
The impact from ice operations ruptured the cutter’s centerline shaft seal, allowing water to flood into the ship. Ice breaking operations ceased so embarked Coast Guard and Navy Divers could enter the water to apply a patch outside the hull so Polar Star’s engineers could repair the seal from inside the ship. The engineers donned dry suits and diver’s gloves to enter the 30-degree water of the still slowly flooding bilge to effect the vital repairs. They used special tools fabricated onboard to fix the leaking shaft seal and resume ice breaking operations.
The Polar Star also experienced ship-wide power outages while breaking ice in McMurdo Sound. Crew members spent nine hours shutting down the ship’s power plant and rebooting the electrical system in order to remedy the outages.
On Feb. 10, the crew spent nearly two hours extinguishing a fire in the ship’s incinerator room while the ship was approximately 650-nautical-miles north of McMurdo Sound, Antarctica. The fire damaged the incinerator and some electrical wiring in the room was damaged by fire fighting water. There were no personnel injuries or damage to equipment outside the space. Repairs to the incinerator are already scheduled for Polar Star’s upcoming inport maintenance period.
And keep in mind that for at least one pay period while underway the crew went without the eagle flying due to the lapse in appropriations.
The good news is, the Coast Guard is seeking to pick up six new polar icebreakers and the FY19 budget actually appropriated $655 million to begin construction of a new “polar security cutter” this year, with another $20 million appropriated for long-lead-time materials to build a second. So they may actually get two out of the planned six when all is said and done.
Hopefully, Polar Star can hold out till then.
Also, did I mention the Russians have 50 icebreakers?
Last June, the U.S. Army tapped first 10 and then a total of 13 companies for what it termed “Sub Compact Weapons.” These guns, “capable of engaging threat personnel with a high volume of lethal and accurate fires at close range with minimal collateral damage,” were to be used by the military’s Personal Security Details, special teams tasked with protecting high-value officers and dignitaries such as the SACEUR and the commander of U.S. Forces Korea– each likely an endangered species in the hours prior to the balloon going up in those regions.
Well, that didn’t work out and the Army trimmed the field a bit in September with a tough series of requirements (a weapon shorter than 15-inches overall when stowed but still ready to fire in such a position, weight less than 5-pounds, etc) and just six companies were able to get in on that. While a small contract, likely to run 350 to 1,000 guns, the bragging rights to replace the long-standard HK MP5 would be huge.
While little details about what models were ultimately submitted for review by the Army, several new SCW-ish guns were in the aisles of the 41st annual SHOT Show in Las Vegas last week, and they are pretty swag.
More in my column at Guns.com.
Below we see snaps from a recent test in which a single C-17A Globemaster was able to carry 5 combat-loaded Polaris MRZR-2 and 6 GD-OTS Flyer 72 lightweight tactical vehicles, along with a light company-sized unit to man them. In short, an airmail fast recon team.
The Pentagon has been trialing the Flyer 72 and MRZR-2 for the past couple years, as the robust light vehicles have a lot of potentials, especially when it comes to raids, SF/expeditionary type gigs and operations in off-road environments.
You know you want one of each…
On the 75th anniversary of the January 1944 launch of USS Missouri (BB 63), the USN commissioned the second (of 3) Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyers on Saturday. Named for Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Michael A. Monsoor, the second Navy SEAL to receive the Medal of Honor in the Global War on Terror, she carries a fine name and is a beautiful ship of some 16,000 tons and 610-feet in length– the same size as a the biggest pre-dreadnought-era battleship of the 1900s, since we are talking battleships.
Of note, she is larger than any American cruiser commissioned after USS Long Beach became active in 1961.
Sadly, her showcase big guns, a pair of stealthy BAE 155 mm/62 (6.1″) Mark 51 Advanced Gun System (AGS) mounts, which were supposed to be capable of firing 10 rounds per minute at ranges of up to 83 nautical miles, are inoperable because the Navy does not have any ammo for them– and isn’t planning on buying any in the foreseeable future. The R&D cost of their unique shells, which was supposed to be amortized across a planned 32-ships, skyrocketed when the program was whittled down to just a trio of hulls (6 mounts), leaving the rounds too expensive to buy, and the AGS cannot fire standard 155mm rounds, which ironically is one of the most common in the world.
This leaves these giant ships armed with 80 deep Mk 54 VLS cells that are capable of fielding the Tomahawk, Standard 2s, and the Evolved SeaSparrow Missile, which is less punch than any other DDG in U.S. service, although with half the complement (147 souls) when compared to a much cheaper Arleigh Burke-class destroyer due to extensive automation.
A third Zumwalt, USS Lyndon B. Johnson (DDG-1002), is set to deliver to 2020.
A few years ago the Navy put together a Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) built around just 250 Marines with a quartet of four CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters. Deployed to Central America in a series of joint exercises and nation-building projects under Southern Command, they spent six months underway.
In recent months, a few additional pages in the same book have been added.
Sailors and Marines assigned to Littoral Combat Group One (LCG-1) just returned to Hawaii after spending six months in the Eastern Pacific– an area that sees few USN deployments. Consisting of just two-three vessels– USS Somerset (LPD 25) and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), along with the occasional support of the oiler USNS Yukon (T-AO 202) — they embarked the 300~ Marine SPMAGTF-Peru augmented by Coast Guard LEDETs, the latter to perform stops on narco subs prone to the region. They conducted ops and exercises with partners in Chile, Ecuador, and Peru.
Air assets on Somerset included at least two CH-53Es, assigned to the “Heavy Haulers” of Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron (HMH) 462 and a couple UH-1Y Hueys assigned to the “Vipers” of Marine Light Attack Helicopter Squadron (HMLA) 169.
Moving past the LSG and SPMAGTF’s, there was the single-vessel Task Force Koa Moana 2018.
Using a company-sized force of Marines embarked aboard USNS GySgt Fred W. Stockham (T-AK-3017), an MSC-manned Shughart-class container & roll-on roll-off support vessel, the 55,000-ton prepositioned supply ship sailed around the Pacific, stopping at a string of islands from Tahiti to Palau, Tinian and Guam, performing joint operations with local governments and French military assets (Tahiti is still a Paris-controlled colony, after all.)
As described by the USNI, “TF Koa Moana included 130 members from the West Coast-based I Marine Expeditionary Force, officials said, plus fly-in detachments of Marines and Navy personnel from Okinawa, Japan, and Guam.”
Sure, they aren’t units capable of forcing a beach against a top-tier enemy, but, besides disaster response, LE support, training, and humanitarian missions, groups such as these–if needed– could probably pull off TRAP recoveries, non-combatant evacuations, and FAST-team style legation reinforcements, which in the end, can help take up the slack from overworked Amphibious Ready Groups and Carrier Task Forces.
Just keep them out of harm’s way in contested areas as this could be a way to get a handful of guys in a lot of trouble, fast.
Two weeks ago there was an absolutely bonkers LE gunfight caught on body cam by Las Vegas Metro during which the officer engages in a running fight with two armed murder suspects in a stolen SUV across city streets. I wrote it up over at Guns.com and the details– some 65 rounds fired by two officers and two subjects with shell casings recovered at five different locations– are the stuff of a Michael Mann movie.
One of the interesting takeaways I noticed: once the primary officer has to perform an emergency reload he fumbles the magazine exchange for a couple seconds by inserting the fresh mag upside down, which he then has to clear, reassess and perform correctly to engage the threat.
This is a good time to point out that you should index your reloads to where they orient naturally when pulled from your spare mag pouch/system. Practice, practice, practice this several hundred times with a clear gun (or with snap caps) and mags in a safe location and revisit that practice regularly. Luckily, he had the seconds to spare.
Sadly, most LE only get paid to recertify for their actual range time each quarter– if that– and most neglect those crucial hours of muscle memory dry firing drills that can help alleviate situations like this.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking the officer, I am sure that the auditory exclusion, adrenaline overload and pucker factor of the situation had his rear end clenched tighter than a cheerio and kudos to him for being able to fix the problem. But you can also take that problem and learn from it.
Also, there is the whole firing through the dashboard thing, which for a handgun is an iffy situation as few pistol rounds can be considered “barrier blind,” but that is another gripe session for later days.
Carry on and be safe!