Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Update: About that Chinese aircraft carrier docking in Mexico

No quite so far-fetched any longer, you think?

"What would the U.S. do if/when China attempts to park an aircraft carrier and/or missile firing submarines in the only deep water port in Baja California, Ensenada?" - M.E.  March, 2009

Significant Chinese Navy expansions since 2009 (other than China's new ballistic missile and attack subs)... 

"The more new oilers, the farther China will be able to send its new capital ships. Without underway replenishment, most naval vessels can travel only a few thousand miles; with fuel top-offs, they can circle the globe." David Axe, Wired Magazine, This Simple Ship Could Let the Chinese Navy Circle the Globe, January, 2013.

September 25, 2012 - China's first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, has entered service.

August 30, 2012 "Given underway replenishment vessels’ relative similarity to commercial ships and China’s large commercial shipbuilding capacity, Beijing is fully capable of surging production of these at any time. As such, its replenishment vessel construction rate will be a particularly revealing barometer of the PLAN’s future expeditionary intentions." Dr. Andrew S. Erickson, Associate Professor, Strategic Research Department, U.S. Naval War College, The Diplomat, China’s Real Blue Water Navy 

 July 31, 2012  -  China's Peoples Liberation Army Navy guided missile destroyer Qingdao and a patrol boat have ventured to the far off Black Sea for the first time in history.

Submarines are always silent and strange.


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Federal Healthcare Managers Will Close Many Regional Hospitals After 2020

"Members of Congress participate in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program along with about 8 million federal workers, retirees and their dependents. They are subject to the same rules and receive the same coverage. Compared with health plans offered by private employers, the FEHBP offers more choices — in fact, "the widest selection of health plans in the country," according to the Office of Personnel Management." - AARP

On average, FEHB Program enrollees with self only coverage will pay $2.75 more per bi-weekly pay period, and enrollees with family coverage will pay $6.39 more. Premiums for Health Maintenance Organizations will increase an average of 5.3 percent, while Fee-for-Service plans will see an average increase of 3.0 percent. ... Established in 1960, the FEHB Program is the largest employer-sponsored health benefits program in the United States. In 2013, employees, retirees, and their families will have 230 health plan choices. The government provides a weighted average contribution of 72 percent of premiums with a cap of no more than 75 percent of total premium cost. - 2013  OPM

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), commonly called Obamacare is a U.S. statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Note the evident absence of unflattering VA hospital news stories (below) between then and now.

Question, which will be managed with better federal oversight, the medical plans available to federal employees above, or benefits available to veterans at hospitals that will be models for hospitals under 'socialized medicine' (ObamaCare) for the rest of us?  ObamaCare takes full effect in 2014, but politicians will, as usual, delay cost cutting until inevitably required (around 2020). Not long afterwards, ObamaCare administrators will call for the closing of redundant regional hospitals to contain rising hospitalization costs. What will naturally follow for patients is rationing imposed by greater distances (and transportation costs) for treatment.

HINT: Closure of large regional hospitals will not be the only threat to patient care. Some VA hospitals will absorb or replace them.  What difference does management make? Let history inform your judgement, and  decide for yourself:

Jan 14, 2013 - Feds Warned Against Risk Seen in Buffalo VA - (AP)
Federal authorities warned against the infection risks of using insulin pens on more than one patient, and officials on Monday asked why a Buffalo veterans hospital may have used the pens on many patients, causing an HIV scare. More than 700 patients admitted to the Veterans Affairs Western New York Healthcare System over a two-year period may have been exposed to HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, officials said following a review that found that multi-dose pens intended for use by a single patient may have been used on more than one person.

Aug 24, 2009 - 1,200 veterans wrongly told they got fatal disease - (AP)
At least 1,200 veterans across the country have been mistakenly told by the Veterans Administration that they suffer from a fatal neurological disease. One of the leaders of a Gulf War veterans group says panicked veterans from Alabama, Florida, Kansas, North Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming have contacted the group about the error.

Aug. 18, 2009 - 6 more cases of botched cancer treatment at Pa. VA - (AP)
The errors happened in a common surgical procedure to treat prostate cancer. That brings the total to 98 veterans who were given incorrect radiation doses over a six-year period at the hospital.The program had treated 114 cancer patients before it was halted when the problem surfaced in 2008.

June 16, 2009 - Report: VA Facilities Improperly Sterilized Colonoscopy Equipment - (Washington Post)
The Veterans Affairs inspector general report(pdf) follows revelations that VA hospitals in Florida, Georgia and Tennessee possibly exposed 10,320 veterans to hepatitis B, hepatitis C or HIV by not properly cleaning equipment. As of today, 13 of those veterans have tested positive for hepatitis B, 34 for hepatitis C and six for HIV, according to the VA.
Submarines are always silent and strange.


Friday, January 11, 2013

Hormuz Strait Choke Point Opportunity


Strait of Hormuz Collision Hazard to U.S. Submarines (color emphasis added)
Due to accidents, the number of submarines in the force able to report as fully prepared is steadily dropping in number. This marks the third nuclear attack submarine put out of action due to damage in an accident; USS Miami (SSN 755), USS Montpelier (SSN 765), and now USS Jacksonville (SSN 699); all in the last 10 months. Submarine Collision  in the Arabian Gulf, Jan 11, 2013, Galrahn
There have also been three prior collisions of US subs in the Arab Gulf since 2004:

5 SEP 2005 - USS Philadelphia traveling on surface in the Gulf collides with M/V Yaso Aysen

8 JAN 2007 - USS Newport News transiting submerged in the Straits of Hormuz collides with Mogamigawa.

20 MAR 2009 - USS Hartford at periscope depth collided with USS New Orleans in the Strait of Hormuz

Strategic choke point: At least 2 million barrels of oil products is shipped daily through the narrow strait separating Oman.  07/16/12 - Iran restarts threats over closing Strait of Hormuz

Hidden opportunity

Any effort by Iran to mine the choke point or key ports and routes would be detected and staunched before completion could be successfulAlternatively, with permission from the Sultanate of Oman, a long-standing military and political ally of the U.S., Navy SeaBees (Construction Battalion or 'CB' ) might just cut a short canal (below) across narrow spots in the Musandam peninsula. How long to dynamite and dredge? A matter of  weeks.


Submarines are always silent and strange.