Josiah Tattnall was the Flag Officer of the United States East Indian Squadron in 1859. By that time he served his country since April of 1812, starting at the bottom of the officer corps as a midshipman, age seventeen. On 21 June 1859 he observed Royal Navy steamboats attacking the Taku Forts at the mouth of the Pei-Ho River, Imperial China. They were there to force one of their scandalous treaties onto the Chinese. He had orders to remain neutral and not to get involved. To make a long story short, the Brits lost that fight badly being under murderous crossfire from both sides of the river and at point blank range. They would lose six of their vessels but not before Tattnall became decidedly less than neutral. He could not bear the sight and so he started towing reserve Royal Navy sailors to the stricken ships, saying, “I’ll tow your reserves into action. Blood is thicker than water!” After that, he tried again, this time with a small barge, towards the a heavily damaged Royal Navy ship. One US sailor died on the way as the Chinese hit the barge which was eventually sunk. Once on the Royal Navy ship, Tattnall offered his services to the British Commander. As legend has it, at one stage he saw US Navy sailors manning a British gun (the British crew was very much wiped out already), returning fire on the Chinese forts. “What do you think you are doing,” he asked, “Don’t you know we are neutrals?” The answer, “Began you pardon, sir, they were very short handed at the bow gun, sir, so we gave ’em a help for fellowship’s sake.”
Today, 22 July 2019, we had the US Secretary of State, the infamous West Point Cadet / war mongrel, Mike Pompeo, stating that the British flagged vessel taken by Iran in the Gulf of Hurmuz a few days ago, was essentially Britain’s problem: “The responsibility in the first instance falls to the United Kingdom to take care of their ships. This isn’t because of US sanctions, this is because of the theocracy of the leadership in Iran, the revolutionary zeal to conduct terror around the world, for now four decades, continues. We don’t want war with Iran, we want them to behave like a normal nation. I think they understand that.”
This must go through as the very worst betrayal of a friend claiming a “special relationship” (the myth which you can read about in Code Name July 27, the forthcoming GMJ Novel). The UK vessel was taken in revenge because the UK grabbed an Iranian vessel, Grace 1, close to Gibraltar on behalf of the Americans. Yes, they can deny as much as they please, we know what happened. Spanish newspaper, El Pais, citing official sources: “The Grace 1, which flies a Panamanian flag, had been under surveillance by US satellites since April, when it was anchored off Iran. The supertanker, full to the brim with crude oil, was too big for the Suez Canal, and so it sailed around the Cape of Good Hope before heading for the Mediterranean. According to the US intelligence services, it was headed for the Syrian oil refinery of Banias. Washington advised Madrid of the arrival of the supertanker 48 hours ahead of time, and the Spanish navy followed its passage through the Strait of Gibraltar. It was expected to cross via international waters, as many Iranian vessels do without being stopped.” So now we know that the US was behind the snatch, unlawful as it was and is under international law. US National Security Adviser, the dual Israeli/US citizen: “Excellent news: UK has detained the supertanker Grace 1 laden with Iranian oil bound for Syria in violation of EU sanctions. America & our allies will continue to prevent regimes in Tehran & Damascus from profiting off this illicit trade.”
So the Royal Navy Marines grabbed the Grace 1 on behalf of the US. Now a UK flagged ship is taken by the Iranians and will be kept as long as Grace 1 is not released. Now what? Britain stands alone, betrayed by the USA. I doubt if any country will give more than lip service to assist. This is not 1940 where Britain was not alone, by the way, what about the dozens of Commonwealth Nations that contributed enormously? No one expected the UK to be abandoned like this by their Master that they served so well. It is shocking. Mind, it is not totally unexpected. In history, the US has a reputation of running away and leaving those that stood by them. In Vietnam the CIA left all its files, thousands died in concentration camps. Time will tell if this is one of them. But perhaps it should be acknowledged that the “Special Relationship” is over. Tattnall, as a matter of interest, joined the Confederate Navy during the Civil War and died some years after that war ended. I wonder what he would say about recent events...