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IRONY: NATO warship breaks down, Russia’s ridiculed Kuznetsov powers on

After weeks of stories of the Admiral Kuznetsov’s engine problems, it is the engines of one of Britain’s top of the line Type 45 destroyers which have broken down, causing the ship to be towed back to port.

Alexander Mercouris

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As Russia’s fleet has deployed to the eastern Mediterranean the well-known engine problems of its aircraft carrier the Admiral Kuznetsov have received an inordinate amount of attention.

I have previously discussed the reasons for these problems.  Briefly, the Admiral Kuznetsov when it was built in the 1980s was not only by an order of magnitude the biggest warship the Soviet/Russian navy had ever commissioned, but at 60,000 tons it was more than twice as heavy as the USSR’s/Russia’s next largest warships – the missile battlecruisers of the Kirov class – which use a combination of nuclear reactors and gas turbines.

The Russians had not previously had to develop engines – whether nuclear or conventional – for warship as large and heavy ship, and the arrangement they came up with involving a complicated arrangement of steam turbines and turbo-pressurised boilers is unreliable and comes under strain in heavy seas. 

The follow on ship to Kuznetsov and her intended sister Varyag was to be the planned aircraft carrier Ulyanovsk (which was never finished), which would have had a more suitable engine mix of four nuclear reactors.  Note however that this would still have been twice as many nuclear reactors as the two much more powerful Westinghouse nuclear reactors used by the much bigger and heavier US Nimitz class carriers – a further sign of the USSR’s/Russia’s lack of fully suitable and sufficiently powerful engines, whether nuclear or conventional, for warships of this size.

As I have also previously said, the Russians are aware of the problems with the Kuznetsov’s engines, and they would almost certainly have fixed them had the Kuznetsov not been commissioned at a time of extreme political and economic crisis in Russia in the mid 1990s.  As it is, the Kuznetsov is due to undertake a comprehensive refit after 2018 during which the present unreliable engines are due to be replaced.

The over-emphasis on the problems of the Kuznetsov’s engines – which are not affecting the carrier’s conduct of its current mission in Syria – has however given the impression that its engine problems are somehow unique.  This is very far from being the case as I was reminded when I was  reading the British House of Commons’ Defence Committee report on the state of Britain’s Royal Navy, which was published four days ago.

The most advanced warships of the Royal Navy are its Type 45 Daring class destroyers, described by some as the most advanced naval destroyers in the world.  Since 2009 when the first entered service with the Royal Navy they have been plagued by engine reliability problems.  Here is house the Defence Committee report describes them

“75. The Type 45 destroyer is the most modern ship in the British Fleet and a key part of its innovative design was its propulsion system. However, shortly after its introduction into service, the propulsion system developed serious problems. Between the launch of the first of class (HMS Daring) in February 2006 and the final Type 45 launch (HMS Duncan) in October 2010, approximately 50 design changes were necessary. Despite that remedial work the Type 45s continue to suffer from reliability issues including major power failures.  There have been improvements and the current failure rates are now one-third of those experienced in 2010.  However, as Sir Mark Stanhope noted, there remains a “risk inherent” in using the Type 45.”

However perhaps the most extraordinary revelation is that the engines do not work properly in warm waters such as those of the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.  Here is what the Defence Committee report has to say about that:

“84. A second issue with the engine was a loss of reliability when the Type 45s operated in areas with high ambient air and sea temperature. When we questioned Tomas Leahy, Rolls Royce, on how this came to be, he told us that the engine “met the specification for the Type 45 class [set by the MoD] and that the system met that specification”.  However, he added:

“Are the conditions experienced in the Gulf in line with that specification? No, they are not. The equipment is having to operate in far more arduous conditions than were initially required by that specification.”

Given that the Royal Navy has undertaken significant operations in the Gulf for decades, this appears to be a startling error.

85. John Hudson, BAES, said that industry had highlighted to the MoD that there would be an upper limit for environmental temperatures and they had sought to produce a design that would have “graceful (sic) degradation beyond those temperatures”.  In other words, the engine would have the ability to carry on and operate, albeit sub-optimally, which would result in “a bit of drop-off” in terms of top speed.  However, that was not the outcome. Admiral Jones acknowledged that a key failing in the specification was that the WR-21 was unable to operate effectively in hot temperatures and that, instead of a “graceful degradation”, the engines were “degrading catastrophically”.

86. It is astonishing that the specification for the Type 45 did not include the requirement for the ships to operate at full capacity—and for sustained periods—in hot regions such as the Gulf. The UK’s enduring presence in the Gulf should have made it a key requirement for the engines. The fact that it was not was an inexcusable failing and one which must not be repeated in the Type 26 and GPFF programmes. Failure to guarantee this would put the personnel and ships of the Royal Navy in danger, with potentially dangerous consequences.”

(bold highlighting in the original)

In light of all this it comes as no surprise that there are now reports that instead of the Admiral Kuznetsov having to be towed into combat by its accompanying tug, it is HMS Duncan, one of the Britain’s Type 45 destroyers which were shadowing the Kuznetsov, which recently broke down and which has had to be towed back to port by a tug.   Needless to say the Western media,which has been awash with stories about the Admiral Kuznetsov’s engine problems, has given minimal coverage to this incident.

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Trump Has Gifted “No More Wars” Policy Position To Bernie Sanders (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 148.

Alex Christoforou

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RT CrossTalk host Peter Lavelle and The Duran’s Alex Christoforou discuss how US President Donald Tump appears to have ceded his popular 2016 ‘no more wars’ campaign message and policy position to Bernie Sanders and any other US 2020 candidate willing to grad onto a non-interventionist approach to the upcoming Democrat primaries.

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“Is Bernie Stealing Trump’s ‘No More Wars’ Issue?” by Patrick J. Buchanan…


The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016.

“The president has said that he does not want to see this country involved in endless wars… I agree with that,” Bernie Sanders told the Fox News audience at Monday’s town hall meeting in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.

Then turning and staring straight into the camera, Bernie added:

“Mr. President, tonight you have the opportunity to do something extraordinary: Sign that resolution. Saudi Arabia should not be determining the military or foreign policy of this country.”

Sanders was talking about a War Powers Act resolution that would have ended U.S. involvement in the five-year civil war in Yemen that has created one of the great humanitarian crises of our time, with thousands of dead children amidst an epidemic of cholera and a famine.

Supported by a united Democratic Party on the Hill, and an anti-interventionist faction of the GOP led by Sens. Rand Paul and Mike Lee of Utah, the War Powers resolution had passed both houses of Congress.

But 24 hours after Sanders urged him to sign it, Trump, heeding the hawks in his Cabinet and National Security Council, vetoed S.J.Res.7, calling it a “dangerous attempt to weaken my constitutional authorities.”

With sufficient Republican votes in both houses to sustain Trump’s veto, that should be the end of the matter.

It is not: Trump may have just ceded the peace issue in 2020 to the Democrats. If Sanders emerges as the nominee, we will have an election with a Democrat running on the “no-more-wars” theme Trump touted in 2016. And Trump will be left defending the bombing of Yemeni rebels and civilians by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Does Trump really want to go into 2020 as a war party president?

Does he want to go into 2020 with Democrats denouncing “Trump’s endless wars” in the Middle East? Because that is where he is headed.

In 2008, John McCain, leading hawk in the Senate, was routed by a left-wing first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, who had won his nomination by defeating the more hawkish Hillary Clinton, who had voted to authorize the war in Iraq.

In 2012, the Republican nominee Mitt Romney, who was far more hawkish than Obama on Russia, lost.

Yet, in 2016, Trump ran as a different kind of Republican, an opponent of the Iraq War and an anti-interventionist who wanted to get along with Russia’s Vladimir Putin and get out of these Middle East wars.

Looking closely at the front-running candidates for the Democratic nomination of 2020 — Joe Biden, Sanders, Kamala Harris, Beto O’Rourke, Pete Buttigieg, Elizabeth Warren, Cory Booker — not one appears to be as hawkish as Trump has become.

Trump pulled us out of the nuclear deal with Iran negotiated by Secretary of State John Kerry and reimposed severe sanctions.

He declared Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps a terrorist organization, to which Iran has responded by declaring U.S. Central Command a terrorist organization. Ominously, the IRGC and its trained Shiite militias in Iraq are in close proximity to U.S. troops.

Trump has recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, moved the U.S. Embassy there, closed the consulate that dealt with Palestinian affairs, cut off aid to the Palestinians, recognized Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights seized from Syria in 1967, and gone silent on Bibi Netanyahu’s threat to annex Jewish settlements on the West Bank.

Sanders, however, though he stands by Israel, is supporting a two-state solution and castigating the “right-wing” Netanyahu regime.

Trump has talked of pulling all U.S. troops out of Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the troops are still there.

Though Trump came into office promising to get along with the Russians, he sent Javelin anti-tank missiles to Ukraine and announced a pullout from Ronald Reagan’s 1987 INF treaty that outlawed all land-based intermediate-range nuclear missiles.

When Putin provocatively sent 100 Russian troops to Caracas — ostensibly to repair the S-400 anti-aircraft and anti-missile system that was damaged in recent blackouts — Trump, drawing a red line, ordered the Russians to “get out.”

Biden is expected to announce next week. If the stands he takes on Russia, China, Israel and the Middle East are more hawkish than the rest of the field, he will be challenged by the left wing of his party, and by Sanders, who voted “no” on the Iraq War that Biden supported.

The center of gravity of U.S. politics is shifting toward the Trump position of 2016. And the anti-interventionist wing of the GOP is growing.

And when added to the anti-interventionist and anti-war wing of the Democratic Party on the Hill, together, they are able, as on the Yemen War Powers resolution, to produce a new bipartisan majority.

Prediction: By the primaries of 2020, foreign policy will be front and center, and the Democratic Party will have captured the “no-more-wars” political high ground that Candidate Donald Trump occupied in 2016.

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Over 200 killed, hundreds injured in series of blasts at Sri Lankan hotels & churches

A series of bombings hit churches and hotels across Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, killing more than 200 people.

RT

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Via RT…


A series of eight explosions rocked Catholic churches and luxury hotels in Sri Lanka as Christians began Easter Sunday celebrations, with over 200 killed and hundreds injured, media reported, citing police.

The blasts started at around 8:45am local time at St. Anthony’s Church in Colombo and St. Sebastian’s Church in Negombo, a Catholic-majority town outside of the capital. The Zion Church in Batticaloa on the eastern coast was also targeted. At around the same time, the Shangri-La, Cinnamon Grand and Kingsbury five-star hotels were also hit, police confirmed.

Two more explosions happened later in the day, targeting two more locations in Colombo. All attacks appear to have been coordinated.

At least 207 people were killed, Reuters reported, citing police. More than 450 were injured in the attacks.

Alleged footage of the aftermath, shared on social media, showed chaos and large-scale destruction inside at least one of the churches.

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Mike Pompeo reveals true motto of CIA: ‘We lied, we cheated, we stole’ (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 147.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at a Texas A&M University speech, and subsequent interview, with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo.

The former CIA Director admitted, ‘as an aside’ to the question asked, that the Intelligence agency he headed up before being appointed as the top US Diplomat had a motto “we lied, we cheated, we stole”…which, according to Pompeo, contained entire CIA training courses based on ‘lying, cheating and stealing.’

Pompeo finally speaks some truth.

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