Old Sailors' Almanac


Week 10, 2018

Previous Week   March 05, 2018 - March 11, 2018  Next Week

Battle of Hampton Roads on March 09, 1862

Battle of Hampton Roads on March 09, 1862

Battle of Hampton Roads: The March 9, 1862, battle between the Monitor and the Merrimack (CSS Virginia) during the American Civil War (1861-65) was history’s first duel between ironclad warships. The engagement, known as the Battle of Hampton Roads, was part of a Confederate effort to break the Union blockade of Southern ports, including Norfolk and Richmond, Virginia, that had been imposed at the start of the war. Though the battle itself was inconclusive, it began a new era in naval warfare.

USS Merrimack Rechristened the CSS Virginia

The CSS Virginia was originally the USS Merrimack, a 40-gun frigate launched in 1855. The Merrimack served in the Caribbean and was the flagship of the Pacific fleet in the late 1850s. In early 1860, the ship was decommissioned for extensive repairs at the Gosport Navy Yard in Norfolk, Virginia. The vessel was still there when the Civil War began in April 1861, and Union sailors sank the ship as the yard was evacuated. Six weeks later, a salvage company raised the ship and the Confederates began rebuilding it.

The design of the USS Monitor was so innovative, that when it was launched the ship featured more than 40 different newly patented inventions.

The Confederates covered the ship in heavy armor plating above the waterline and outfitted it with powerful guns. Rechristened the Virginia, it was a formidable vessel when launched in February 1862. On March 8, the Virginia sunk two Union ships and ran one aground off Hampton Roads in southeastern Virginia.

Battle of Hampton Roads: March 9, 1862

The next day, the USS Monitor steamed into the Chesapeake Bay. Designed by Swedish engineer John Ericsson, the vessel had an unusually low profile, rising from the water only 18 inches. The flat iron deck had a 20-foot cylindrical turret rising from the middle of the ship; the turret housed two 11-inch Dahlgren guns. TheMonitor had a draft of less than 11 feet so it could operate in the shallow harbors and rivers of the South. It was commissioned on February 25, 1862, and arrived at Chesapeake Bay just in time to engage the Virginia.

The battle between the Virginia and the Monitor began on the morning of March 9 and continued for four hours. The ships circled one another, jockeying for position as they fired their guns. However, the cannon balls simply deflected off the iron ships. In the early afternoon, the Virginia pulled back to Norfolk. Neither ship was seriously damaged, but the Monitor effectively ended the short reign of terror that the Confederate ironclad had brought to the Union navy.

The Monitor and the Merrimack: Final Days

Both ships met ignominious ends. When the Yankees invaded the James Peninsula two months after the Battle of Hampton Roads, the retreating Confederates scuttled the Virginia. The Monitor went down in bad weather off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, at the end of the year. In 1973, the wreck of the Monitor was discovered at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. Many artifacts from the vessel have since been recovered and are on display at the Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia.

Though they had short lives, the two ironclads ushered in a new era in naval warfare.

History Channel / Wikipedia / Civil War.org / Monitor Center.org / Britannica Encyclopedia / National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration - NOAA.org / Battle of Hampton Roads (YouTube) video

Understanding Military Terminology: Scout of Many Trails (Sea Scout and Boy Scout look at globe with old sailor) ~ Norman Rockwell

Understanding Military Terminology - Military Sealift Command Force

(DOD) Common-user sealift consisting of three subsets: the Naval Fleet Auxiliary Force, common-user ocean transportation, and the special mission support force. See also common-user sealift; Military Sealift Command.

Joint Publications (JP 4-01.2) Sealift Support to Joint Operations

USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) (U.S.Navy.mil)

The Old Salt’s Corner

Carrier Battlegroup (CVBG)

Modern carrier battlegroups (CVBGs) and Amphibious Ready Groups (ARGs) incorporate a diverse mix of platforms to carry out their power projection missions.

The typical breakdown for a current carrier battlegroup includes one carrier (CV or CVN), two cruisers (CGs and/or CGNs), three destroyers (DDs and/or DDGs) or frigates (FFs and/or FFGs) and one auxiliary (AE, AOE, or AOR).

Some battlegroups also include a fast attack submarine (SSN) operating in a support role. The ultimate content of the battlegroup will depend on the specific mission of the Task Force..

Additionally, nuclear powered carriers (CVNs) are often coupled with the most up to date air warfare (AW) and undersea warfare (USW) platforms (surface or subsurface). Nuclear cruisers normally will be attached to nuclear carriers.

The modern carrier battlegroup forms a potent power-projection platform. The embarked carrier air wing employs a diverse mix of offensive and defensive aircraft capable of carrying out intense and sustained combat operations against targets ashore and on the sea.

The assets of the battlegroup itself maintain sophisticated combat systems for conducting local combat actions in defense of the carrier.

“I’m Just Sayin’”

“I’m Just Sayin”

1. “Make peace with your past,

so it doesn’t spoil your present. Your past does not define your future – your actions and beliefs do.

2. “What others think of you is none of your business.

It’s how much you value yourself and how important you think you are.

3. “Time heals almost everything,

give time, time. Pain will be less hurting. Scars make us who we are; they explain our life and why we are the way we are. They challenge us and force us to be stronger.

4. “No one is the reason for your own happiness,

Waste no time and effort searching for peace and contentment and joy in the world outside.

5. “Don’t compare your life with others’,

you have no idea what their journey is all about. If we all threw our problems in a pile and saw everyone else’s, we would grab ours back as fast as we could.

6. “Stop thinking too much,

it’s alright not to know all the answers. Sometime there is no answer, not going to be any answer, never has been an answer. That’s the answer! Just accept it, move on, NEXT!

7. “Smile,

you don’t own all the problems in the world. A smile can brighten the darkest day and make life more beautiful. It is a potential curve to turn a life around and set everything straight.

~ Seven Cardinal Rules In Life.

“Thought for the Day”

“Thought for the Day”

“What lies behind us

and what lies before us

are tiny matters compared to

what lies within us.”

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What I Have Learned”

“What I Have Learned”

“Growth is painful.

Change is painful.

but nothing is as painful

as staying stuck.somewhere

you don’t belong.”

~ Anonymous

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Bizarre News (we couldn’t make up stuff this good – real news story)

Nigel the lonely gannet dies as he lived, surrounded by concrete birds

Nigel the lonely gannet dies as he lived, surrounded by concrete birds

New Zealand conservationists mourn loss of celebrated bird that was lured by replica gannets in the hope of establishing a breeding colony

If there is such a thing as a tragic life for a bird, then the life of Nigel “no mates”, a New Zealand gannet, probably fits that bill.

Nigel lived for years on his own on uninhabited Mana Island off the north of the country, surrounded by concrete replica gannets.

The immobile replicas had been put in place by conservation officers who used the sound of gannet calls broadcast by solar-powered speakers in an attempt to lure a colony to settle on the pest-free scientific reserve.

Nigel was the first gannet in 40 years to make his home on Mana, arriving alone in 2013.

There he remained, alone. That is until just a few weeks ago when he was finally joined by three real life members of his species. However, Nigel failed to befriend them, and then he died.

Department of Conservation ranger Chris Bell found Nigel’s body surrounded by his concrete friends.

“Nigel was very faithful to the colony”, said Bell, who also lives and works alone on the island, 2.5 kilometres off the west coast of the mainland.”

Bell said after Nigel arrived on Mana five years ago he began courting one of the 80 concrete decoys which had been positioned on the eastern cliffs, with painted yellow beaks and black tipped wings.

The gannet was observed carefully constructing a nest for his chosen mate, grooming her chilly, concrete feathers, and chatting to her - one-sided - year after year after year.

Nigel died weeks after three real-life gannets had settled on the island, with conservation staff hoping Nigel may have bonded with the flesh and blood creatures.

But he never showed any interest in the real-life birds, said Bell, instead remaining “aloof”, chattering to his concrete mate while the real-life birds got on with business in a different part of the colony.

“From a conservation point of view, he was a massive asset to have. Because the concrete gannets – they may have fooled Nigel – but they never fooled another gannet. We always considered Nigel increased our chances of getting a colony going, and that seems to be in the end what happened”, said Bell.

“He was an attraction that helped bring in other birds – gannets like to nest where a gannet has nested before. It’s really sad he died, but it wasn’t for nothing.”

Friends of Mana, a volunteer group which works on the island, said they were “devastated” by Nigel’s death.

The Guardian (02/01/2018) video

How Do Tsunamis Work?

Mr. Answer Man Please Tell Us: How Do Tsunamis Work?

Tsunamis have been wreaking havoc on the world's coastlines for centuries. Since 1850 alone, tsunamis have been responsible for taking 420,000 lives and causing billions of dollars in damage. How do these monster waves work?


Tsunamis have nothing to do with the wind-generated waves we're used to seeing, or the tides - they’re a set of ocean waves caused by the rapid displacement of water. Most commonly, this happens when large underwater earthquakes push up the seabed; the larger and shallower the earthquake, the bigger the potential tsunami. Once generated, the waves split: A distant tsunami travels out into the open ocean, while a local tsunami travels toward the nearby coast. The speed of the waves depends on the depth of the water, but typically, waves roll across the ocean at speeds between 400 and 500 mph.

It’s not only the method of generation that differentiates tsunamis from wind-generated waves. On average, wind waves have a crest-to-crest wavelength—the distance over which the wave’s shape repeats—of approximately 330 feet and a height of 6.6 feet. A deep ocean tsunami will have a wavelength of 120 miles and amplitude (the distance from the peak of the wave to its trough) of only about 3.3 feet. This is why tsunamis are difficult to detect in the open ocean.

As a tsunami approaches the shore, the wave compresses: Its speed and wavelength decrease while its amplitude grows enormously. Most waves arrive on-shore not as a huge wave but as a fast-moving tidal bore that floods the shoreline. However, if the trough of the wave arrives before the ridge, or peak, the sea will recede from the shore, exposing normally submerged areas, as the trough builds into a ridge. This can serve as a brief warning that a tsunami is about to occur.

Other causes of tsunamis include underwater landslides and explosions. Another type of wave, called a mega-tsunami, is caused by above-water landslides or glacier calving. The largest recorded mega-tsunami struck in Alaska’s Lituya Bay in 1958; an earthquake triggered a landslide that displaced so much water that the waves created were 470 feet taller than the Empire State Building.


Like earthquakes, tsunamis can’t be predicted - but that doesn’t mean scientists aren’t trying to figure out ways to warn people before the flooding starts. Using a system of buoys called DART (Deep-Ocean Assessment and Reporting of Tsunamis) researchers can monitor ocean wave height in real time. When an earthquake occurs that scientists believe is likely to trigger a tsunami, these strategically placed buoys send reports on sea level change back to tsunami warning centers. There, scientists use that data to create a model of the potential tsunami’s effects and decide whether to issue a warning or make populations evacuate.


Tsunamis are mostly generated by quakes that occur in subduction zones: areas where denser oceanic plates slide underneath lighter continental plates, causing vertical displacement of the seafloor and water column above it. The majority of the world's subduction zones are in the Pacific Ocean bordering Oceania, Asia, North America, and South America. This highly unsettled loop is nicknamed the “ring of fire” for its concentration of geologic upheavals.

Because the Atlantic Ocean has far fewer subduction zones than the Pacific, Atlantic tsunamis are rare, but possible. The most likely cause would be an earthquake creating a submarine landslide that would displace a huge volume of water and trigger the wave.

In 2001, geophysicists Steven N. Ward and Simon Day suggested that an Atlantic mega-tsunami could be generated by a massive landslide off La Palma, the most active volcano in the Canary Islands archipelago. The theory was based on modeling a number of worst-case scenarios, the authors said. Others have argued that the danger is overblown.

Earthweb.eduLive ScienceMental FlossQuoraWikipedia How Tsunamis Work (YouTube) video

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang - U.S. Navy

NAVSPEAK aka U.S. Navy Slang

Rotor Head: Sailor who flies or maintains rotary-winged aircraft (helicopters).

Royal Baby: Originally the fattest man on the ship, chosen as part of Neptune's court during Shellback initiation.

RPOC: Recruit Chief Petty Officer (RCPO or RPOC). A recruit chosen in boot camp to "be in charge" when the Company Commander, or other authority figure, are not present.

R.T.F.M.: “Read The Fucking Manual”, or “Read Those Fine Manuals” if you are talking to your mother.

Just for MARINES - The Few. The Proud.

Just for you MARINE

Terminal Lance: Marine nearing the end of his enlistment at the rank of Lance Corporal and unlikely to get promoted; also a webcomic of the same name. Also referred to as Lance Colonel.

Terp: An interpreter.

The Rock: Okinawa.

Thousand-yard stare: Unfocused gaze of a battle-weary servicemember.

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

Naval Aviation Squadron Nicknames

VFA-34 - “Blue Blasters”
Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, Virginia, U.S. - Established January 1, 1970

Where Did That Saying Come From

Where Did That Saying Come From?

Where Did That Saying Come From? “Show Your True Colors”

Show Your True Colors”  Meaning: To reveal one’s true nature. To show your real character or personality, especially when it is unpleasant.

Origin: Warships used to fly multiple flags to confuse their enemies. However, the rules of warfare stated that a ship had to hoist its true flag before firing and hence, display its country’s true colors.

This idiom originates from the 1700s. When ships went into battle, they had to show their ‘colours’ (the flag of their country). Many ships would show a flag from a different country in order to trick their opponent into thinking they were an ally (friend). Then, when they were close, they would change the flag to their real flag (‘show their true colours’) and attack.

Bloomsbury International

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Science & Technology

Is space the next frontier for archaeology?A taste for the beautiful: How evolution shapes attraction (A new book provides stories of sex and beauty, from the lab and from the field.)Forget the Falcon Heavy’s payload and focus on where the rocket will goLattice of rings protect laser, purify its colorFortresses, farmlands of the Maya emerge from massive LiDAR surveyCounter-Strike co-creator arrested over alleged child sexual exploitationAlexa, print money: Even Bezos stunned by Q4 Amazon income

ARS Technica

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The Strange, Mysterious or Downright Weird

The King (Cobra) Is Dead (and So Is the Python)

The King (Cobra) Is Dead (and So Is the Python)

Judging by the interlocked combatants' bodies, no quarter was given in the final minutes of this deadly struggle.

Captured in a dramatic photo, a grim scene hints at a violent battle to the death between two giant snakes, identified in the caption as a reticulated python (Python reticulatus) and a king cobra (Ophiophagus hannah), both native to Southeast Asia and among the biggest snakes in the world.

Both are formidable serpents. The reticulated python is the longest and heaviest snake on Earth, reaching 23 feet (7 meters) in length and weighing as much as 165 lbs. (75 kilograms), and wielding considerable constricting power. Meanwhile, the king cobra can measure about 18 feet (5.5 m) long and weigh up to 20 lbs. (9 kg), and has a bite that packs enough neurotoxins to fell an Asian elephant. But when these two individuals squared off, neither survived the encounter. [Viper vs. Viper! Never-Before-Seen Combat Recorded]

A tangled tussle

At first glance, it's hard to tell from the image where one snake's body ends and where the other's begins. A closer look helps to separate them - the cobra's jaws are locked onto the neck of the python, while the python's diamond-patterned body is tightly coiled in snug loops around the cobra's neck and upper body. The cobra's lower body extends away from the muscular knot that binds the two snakes.

“And they're both big ones”, And the python appears to be a close match in size to its king cobra opponent.

“King cobras feed almost exclusively on other snakes”,... “whereas reticulated pythons typically eat mammals or birds.”

No escape

“Once attacked, the python may have tried to slither away, but a slow-moving python would have had a tough time evading the much-speedier cobra.”

“Cobras incapacitate their prey with venomous bites, injecting a neurotoxin cocktail that paralyzes respiratory muscles - and they don't necessarily wait until their prey is dead before swallowing it. The cobra's eagerness may have led to its downfall - perhaps it bit the python and then strayed a little too close while waiting for it to succumb.”

“And the python didn't give up without a fight. Its powerful constriction appears to have trapped and killed the cobra, even as the python died from the cobra's venom.”

“All constrictor snakes use the same general strategy for constricting. They squeeze their prey, and each time the prey breathes out, they squeeze more, giving the prey less volume to breath back in. Eventually, the prey suffocates.”

Pythons' deadly squeezing also obstructs the flow of blood in their prey's body, which can kill much more quickly than suffocation.

“In the image, blood is visible on the cobra's maw, perhaps from the python's wound or from an injury to the cobra's mouth that happened during the tussle. How long the struggle may have lasted would have depended on the amount and potency of the venom delivered by the cobra, which is impossible to guess from a photo.”

“But it seems like it worked.”

Live Science (02/02/2018) video

© CEASAR CHOPPY by cartoonist Marty Gavin - archives Ceasar Choppy's Navy! “© CEASAR CHOPPY” by Marty Gavin


“Barracuda” - Heart 1977

“Barracuda” - Heart
Album: Little Queen
Released 1977 video

This was written by Ann and Nancy Wilson together with guitarist Roger Fisher and drummer Michael DeRosier. According to the band, the song is a statement about the record industry in general. It was written at a time when there was friction between the band and their label. Little Queen was the first album Heart released for the CBS-Portrait label. Their old label, Mushroom Records, sued the band and in 1978 released Magazine, an album made up of previously recorded material that Heart did not want released. (Thanks to Sovereign Records for this information.)

The Wilson sisters revealed in various interviews that the song was about Heart's anger towards an ad Mushroom Records placed in trade publications implying that Ann and Nancy were lesbians having an affair (see the full ad and read more about it). The song focuses on Ann's rage towards a promoter who came up to her after a concert in Detroit asking how her “lover” was. She initially thought he was talking about her then-boyfriend - band member Michael Fisher. After the promoter revealed he was talking about her sister Nancy Wilson, Ann became angry and went back to her hotel room to write the song. Nancy put suitably angry music to the words to complete the song comparing the sleazy side of music to a dangerous fish.

This song can be heard in the movies Wag the Dog (1997), Charlie's Angles (2000), Roll Bounce (2005), You Again (2010), The Campaign (2012) and Identity Thief (2013).

TV series to feature the song include The Sopranos, Chuck and My Name Is Earl.

Heart official website / Billboard / All Music / Song Facts / Ultimate Classic Rock / Wikipedia

Image: “Little Queen (album)” by Heart



● Tom Selleck was originally cast in the lead role in this 1981 film; however, due to his commitment to his TV series Magnum PI, he was replaced by Harrison Ford, in what film? “Raiders of the Lost Ark”

● ANTONIO STRADIVARI also called Antonius Stradivarius (1644?-1737) was an Italian violinmaker who developed the proportions of the modern violin and created some of the finest instruments of all time.

● The number 6.022 x 10^23, indicating the number of atoms or molecules in a mole of any substance - is named after Italian chemist & physicist Avogadro.


A Test for People Who Know Everything

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FRUIT STAND” ($400):

“Texas developed the Ruby type of this citrus fruit.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Health.com

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FRUIT STAND” ($800):

“There's a giant type of this lime named for islands.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Wikipedia

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “FRUIT STAND” ($1,000):

“The halawy is a sweet type of this palm fruit.”

Answer for People Who Do Not Know Everything, or Want to Verify Their Answer Encyclopedia Britannica

Answer to Last Week's Test

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “BASEBALL” ($200):

“In San Diego on August 4, 2007, Barry Bonds hit this ball 382 feet to tie the all-time home run record of this man, technically.”

● Answer: Hank Aaron. Baseball Hall of Fame.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “BASEBALL” ($400):

“Here's the ball hit by this Yankee legend who broke a 44-game hitting streak record held by 'Wee Willie' Keeler.”

● Answer: Joe DiMaggio. Baseball Hall of Fame.org

From the Jeopardy Archives Category - “BASEBALL” ($1,000):

“Check out the incredibly rare 1909-11 t206 card of this 'Flying Dutchman'; in 2013, one went at auction for $2.1 million.”

● Answer: Honus Wagner. Baseball Hall of Fame.org

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day

Joke of the Day


One night, God visits a preacher.

The preacher has one question, “What is Heaven like?“

God replies, “HEAVEN is like a city. It has the best of everything. For example:

the French are the chefs,

the Italians are the lovers,

the English are the policeman,

the Germans are the mechanics,

and the Dutch are the politicians.”

The preacher asks, “What is Hell like?“

“Well”, God sighs, “HELL is where:

the French are the mechanics,

the Italians are the politicians,

the English are the chefs,

the Germans are the policemen,

and the Dutch are the lovers.”

Joke of the Day

“An accountant dies and goes to Heaven”

An accountant dies and goes to Heaven. He is met by Saint Peter who goes through the usual questionnaire.

“What sort of accountant are you?” says Saint Peter

“Public Practitioner”, is the reply.


He gives his name.

Saint Peter goes through some files and pulls one out.

“Oh, yes. We've been expecting you. You've reached your allotted span”, says Saint Peter.

“How can that be?” says the accountant. “I'm too young to go. I'm only forty-eight.” “Why do you say that?”

“Well we've been looking at your time sheets and the hours you've charged your clients. By our reckoning you're at least ninety three.”

Joke of the Day

“An engineer dies and goes to Hell”

An engineer died and reported to the pearly gates.

An newly annointed angel, filling in for Saint Peter, checked his dossier and grimly said, “Ah, you're an engineer; you're in the wrong place.”

So the engineer was cast down to the gates of hell and was let in.

Pretty soon, the engineer became gravely dissatisfied with the level of comfort in hell, and began designing and building improvements.

After a while, the underworld had air conditioning, flush toilets, and escalators, and the engineer was becoming a pretty popular guy among the demons.

One day, God called Satan up on the telephone and asked with a sneer, “So, how's it going down there in hell?”

Satan laughed and replied, “Hey, things are going great. We've got air conditioning and flush toilets and escalators, and there's no telling what this engineer is going to come up with next.”

God's face clouded over and he exploded, “What? You've got an engineer? That's a mistake; he should never have gotten down there; send him up here.”

Satan shook his head, “No way. I like having an engineer on the staff, and I'm keeping him.”

God was as mad as he had ever been, “This is not the way things are supposed to work and you know it. Send him back up here or I'll sue.”

Satan laughed uproariously, “Yeah, right. And just where are YOU going to get a lawyer?”