Monthly Archives: September 2014


Liberty Ship SS Jeremiah O’Brien Spills Fuel Into San Francisco Bay at Fisherman’s Wharf


SS Jeremiah O'Brien at San Francisco's pier 45. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

SS Jeremiah O’Brien at San Francisco’s pier 45. Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Coast Guard and California Department of Fish and Wildlife personnel continued Sunday to respond to a fuel oil spill from the SS Jeremiah O’Brien near Pier 45 at Fishman’s Wharf in the San Francisco Bay Saturday.

The U.S. Coast Guard was alerted Saturday morning that an undetermined amount of fuel oil was discharged into the water from the World War II-era Liberty Ship. First responders reported a 100-by-150-yard sheen in the vicinity of the vessel at Pier 45.

The SS Jeremiah O’Brien immediately contracted an Oil Spill Response Organization and as of Sunday over 6,000 feet of boom was deployed around the vessel and other at-risk or environmentally sensitive areas. Meanwhile cleanup crews used vacuum trucks and skimming vessels as part of the recovery efforts.

The Coast Guard reports that the source of the spill has been secured. A initial statement from the Coast Guard said that the spill reportedly occurred during an internal transfer of product onboard the SS Jeremiah O’Brien, but the incident is still under investigation.

An overflight of the area Sunday found no visible signs pollution, but the Coast Guard said a response team located a light sheen around the docks within Hyde Street Harbor.

The Coast Guard said Sunday that it federalized the pollution incident and assumed control of the clean up and containment processes to ensure maximum resources are utilized to accelerate the containment and cleanup effort. The oil spill response is being overseen by a Federal On-scene Coordinator’s Representative.

“The Coast Guard is committed to safeguarding the marine environment and has taken quick action to intervene and minimize the effects of the fuel spill caused by the SS Jeremiah O’Brien,” said Capt. Michael Day, Sector San Francisco deputy commander. “Our crews will work diligently alongside our partner agencies to ensure the fuel is cleaned from the water in an efficient and expeditious manner.”

The SS Jeremiah O’Brien is one of two remaining fully functional Liberty ships built and launched during World War II. The ship now serves as a tourist attraction at San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf.

A visit from a cousin.

Cousin Christine is down visiting us ‘southern’ folk. Crikey she’s been one of those folk to avoid of late and now she’s turned up to ‘visit’ and staying at the towers for the foreseeable. All very disagreeable. It wasn’t always like that though. When we were all ‘ickle’ and lived nearby each other in Gravesend, we got along wonderfully. The best of mates regardless of gender or age. Aaahhh, waves of happy nostalgia are washing over allatsea as he writes.
Then little by little and one by one we started to grow up and apart. This is normal. Yours truly wandered off to be a sailor, bother allatsea also wandered off to be sailor (albeit with that part time lot in the Andrew) and Christine it seems, wandered off and took a profession that, erm, shall we say, catered for sailors. Catering for sailors as in hanging round the docks and keeping them ‘company’. Very often for quite ‘short times’ they say. Well, see no evil and speak no evil, each to his own and, frankly, thank god there are ladies like Christine.
Faversham Creek from the quay. Off the tourist route and worth a visit.

Faversham Creek from the quay, Christine’s first dalliance with a sailor was here. It lasted three minutes.

That said, as the years went by, Christine honed her skills and being a bonny looking if foul mouthed kind of bird, ‘moved up the ladder’. A comfortable home, a doting if rather errant chap in tow and a move North followed. And there it might have stayed, a gentle and happy life for her and her bloke. Then as this shite thing called life is wont to do when you think all is swimming along nicely, it all went tits up. Her chap became ill with cancer and died pretty much soon after he was diagnosed. Christine, for all her apparent hardness and resolve took it all rather badly and turned to drink and cheap thrills. Dalliances with terminal arseholes, neer do wells, general scum, even at one point, going with a trade unionist (the shame, the shame) brought her to poverty and homelessness. With no children to offer her a place to stay she took to visiting her long lost cousins. At the towers, we were (readers, our family was large, there are dozens of cousins) about half way along the visiting list, hence our recent ‘arrival’. Reports from previous ‘recipients’ of her visitations have not been glowing in their praise or enthusiastic of the experience. We at the towers were reather hoping that we’d get ‘left’ off the list. No such luck.
So, she’s here. All long legs, prominent tum, a wobbly chest and endless tales of woe. It can put a chap off his breakfast there’s no doubt about that. And his lunch.
What to do folks, what to do?

The Devils’ Alliance review: Compelling account of Stalin and Hitler’s ‘pact of pure evil’

        The Devils’ Alliance: Hitler’s Pact With Stalin, 1939-41                                

HISTORIAN Roger Moorehouse’s detailed and well-written account of Hitler and Stalin’s plans to divide Poland which affected 50 million people

 Adolf Hitler (left) and Joseph Stalin agreed to help each other take over Poland [GETTY]

A snaking line of black ink dissects a map of pre-war Poland. It doesn’t look like much more than a scribble – but its drawing brought horror and destruction to millions of innocent people.

That thin line neatly carved up Poland between the Nazis and the Soviets wiping the country off the map.

Signed with a flourish by Russian dictator Stalin and Hitler’s henchman Ribbentrop in September 1939, the map was part of the negotiations that led to The Devils’ Alliance. And it illustrates graphically the way the two bloody dictators came together in a pact of pure evil.

While the Nazis brought their sickening ethnic cleansing to areas under the jackboot, Stalin’s terrifying NKVD embarked on an equally brutal and bloody political purge based on class and ideology as it “cleansed” supposed anti-Soviet elements.

A famous cartoon of the time by Low called Rendezvous shows Stalin and Hitler meeting amid the war-torn ruins of Poland.

Bowing deeply and doffing their caps to one another they exchange pleasantries. “The scum of the earth, I believe?” says Hitler as Stalin replies, “The bloody assassin of the workers, I presume?”

The two tyrants never met in the flesh, though Stalin did drink to his fellow monster’s health as the ink dried on the pact.

The alliance, which included economic co-operation that helped oil the wheels of Hitler’s war on the west, was to last less than two years and its seven short paragraphs contain barely 280 words.But as historian Roger Moorhouse reveals in this superbly detailed and well-written work, it was to have a profound affect on the 20th century and beyond. Indeed, as the author points out some of the survivors of Stalin’s Gulag and their descendents are still there today – exiled by the events that swiftly followed the signing of the document.

Today’s map of eastern and central Europe is largely the product of the boundaries hastily drawn up by the Nazi foreign minister Ribbentrop and his Soviet counterpart Molotov – lines on a map that consigned the peoples of the Baltic states to subjugation for two generations.

The Devil’s Alliance by Roger Moorhouse is published by Bodley Head with an RRP of £25  [PH]
However, this is no dry account of the past. Moorhouse, an expert in modern German history uses first-hand and eyewitness testimony to tell a compelling story.From Moscow and Berlin’s corridors of power to the tormented villages of Poland, he brings the events to life with a powerful narrative.

Moorhouse is a man on a mission: to shine a light on the dirty, dark secrets of an act that he believes has been overlooked and hidden in the shadows for too long.

In particular he believes the sins of Stalin have been airbrushed from history to fit in with the postwar narrative that the pact was a defensive act, necessary to buy the Soviet’s time before the inevitable conflict with Germany.

It is frankly scandalous that this grim chapter does not find a place in the western narrative of the Second World War,” he says.

“Six decades after Stalin’s death, and over 20 years since the demise of the Soviet Union, it is high time that this changed.”

Millions were deported from their homes and huge numbers suffering persecution, torture and death – including the 22,000 Polish army officers and officials murdered in the Katyn massacres of 1940.

Add to that the pact facilitated Hitler’s war and ushered in the brutal Nazi occupation of Western Poland with all its cruelties and injustices – including the grim ghettos that were the first steps towards the Holocaust.

Moorhouse believes that at a “rough estimate” the pact’s consequences directly affected 50 million people.

While the dictators and their henchmen drew lines on the map Europe bled. And in some parts of the continent those wounds have still not healed.