Welcome to another issue of SEA STATE!

As the holidays approach, we remember our fellow Sailors and Marines deployed around the world. If you are able, consider sending a friend on deployment a care package or a cheery holiday note. You may also want to donate time or funds to a charity that helps veterans during the holiday season. Wherever you may be, we at SEA STATE wish you good health and good spirits. We’ll see you in 2022!



“Russia lays out demands for a sweeping new security deal with NATO” (New York Times): SEA STATE has previously covered Russia’s military build up on Ukraine’s borders, and Russian forces have only strengthened since. Yesterday, Russian officials announced their initial requests as they enter into discussions with the U.S. and NATO regarding European security and the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. The requests are mostly directed at the U.S. and NATO, not Ukraine itself, but include an explicit commitment from NATO that it will not offer membership to Ukraine. Many experts on Russia see the demands as non-starters which increase the probability that Russia is in fact positioning itself for a further invasion.

  • Two weeks ago, President Biden and President Putin had a bilateral video call to discuss the situation in Ukraine and European security more broadly. They were unable to reach a definitive solution on the crisis, and Biden told Putin that they could either reach a diplomatic solution or Russia would face a new range of sanctions and political repercussions, including exclusion from SWIFT, the international payment system. Sanctions have done little to deter Russia’s behavior in the past, and it appears Putin is standing firm now.

  • The U.S. and NATO have both said military involvement in an expanded conflict is off the table. However, they have determined that an expansion of the conflict would necessitate an increased presence in NATO’s East European member states because the “strategic depth” offered by Ukraine would be lost. An expanded conflict will likely dominate the attention of NATO and U.S. EUCOM and may increase operational tempo for affiliated units. Of course, the Biden administration or the U.S.’ allies may later determine that military intervention IS necessary, and this decision will depend on the diplomatic and military progression of the conflict.

  • There are a lot of moving parts to consider with respect to the situation in Ukraine. No one is certain what Putin’s next move is; there is a good chance he has not made a decision yet, either. Some commentators have raised concerns about China seeing a “soft American response” to Russia’s behavior in Ukraine as a green light to invade Taiwan. The likelihood of this situation is disputed, but China may very well watch and learn from the crisis. Another consideration is how NATO’s easternmost members will respond to a further-deteriorated security situation on their borders–will it increase their investment into the Alliance or cause them to look elsewhere for security guarantees?


“Biden Awards Medals of Honor for Bravery in Iraq and Afghanistan” (NYT): President Biden awarded the Medal of Honor to three Army soldiers on Thursday. Master Sergeant Earl Plumlee was present at the ceremony, while the other two awards were given posthumously to Sergeant First Class Alwyn Cashe and Sergeant First Class Christopher Celiz. Sergeant First Class Cashe, who rescued seven soldiers from a burning vehicle while he himself was ablaze, is the first African American to receive the Medal of Honor since the Vietnam War. All three men put themselves in harm’s way to save others, and junior officers of all services can honor their sacrifices by knowing their names and reading their stories.

“US Navy fires laser weapon in Mideast amid drone boat threat” (AP News): USS Portland tested a laser weapon against a floating target, demonstrating another advancement in the use of the weapon system since it shot down a test drone in May 2020. The exercise shows the progress that is being made to counter both naval and aviation drones, which can be laden with explosives and used to attack a variety of targets. As the threat from adversaries using drones continues to increase, JOs can expect technologies like this to continue to appear throughout the fleet.

“Coast Guard Cutter Undergoing Repairs Catches Fire at Port Tampa Bay” (Tampa Bay Times): While conducting repairs in dry dock at the Port of Tampa Bay, the USCGC BENJAMIN DAILEY caught fire on December 10. Early reports state that the 154 foot Fast Response Cutter homeported in Pascagoula, MS was severely damaged and may be beyond repair, however it is important to note that no one was injured during the fire. The fire will likely cost either hundreds of thousands of dollars to repair or millions of dollars to replace and will also decrease the already tight cutter coverage in the Gulf of Mexico.

OPINION: “Troubled CBP Gets $3.7 Billion Infrastructure Boost While Coast Guard Gets Peanuts” (Forbes): As the service often forgotten until disaster strikes or a rescue goes viral, the Coast Guard struggles budget wise from year to year in comparison to its fellow Department of Homeland Security agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. This opinion piece particularly highlights the funding (or lack thereof) for improvements at Coast Guard Base Kodiak, located on Kodiak Island in the Gulf of Alaska. Coast Guard funding is important for the junior officer to consider, as bases in Alaska will continue to grow in importance as the Arctic becomes more of an area of tension.

DISCUSSION QUESTION: As the holiday season can be a tough and difficult time, how can you as a leader in the sea services better support your folks and peers?

Send your response to!


“99% of ocean plastic is missing” - Unexplainable

You’ve probably heard of the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, or maybe even seen it or other ocean plastic at sea. But what may surprise you is that scientists cannot account for 99% of the plastic that humans have discarded into the ocean. Unexplainable host Noam Hassenfeld and oceanographer Erik Van Sebille discuss why so much plastic is unaccounted for and the impact it has on efforts to clean up our oceans. As Van Sebille describes, “the ocean is absolutely crucial to everyone’s well being. You do not need to live near the ocean to get the benefits it provides…half of the oxygen you breathe is produced by the algae in the ocean.” But because scientists do not yet understand where all of the plastic we’ve produced ends up, efforts to address ocean plastic are significantly hampered. Hassenfeld summarizes the problem by saying “we don’t know where the dark plastic is, and partially because of that we don’t know just how bad all of this plastic might be.” This episode will provide listeners with interesting context surrounding the ocean plastic problem, and a much greater respect for what we don’t know about plastic and our oceans.


“Ninety percent of all mental errors are in your head.”

— Yogi Berra

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We’ll see you next week.


This issue of SEA STATE was written and edited by Sarah Claudy, Emma Quinn, Jacob Marx, Madison Sargeant, Christian Hoffman, Julie Stabile, and Nate Bermel

SEA STATE is not affiliated with the U.S. Navy, Marine Corps, or the Department of Defense. All views expressed or shared in this newsletter are the authors’ own and not necessarily endorsed by the U.S. government or any military entity.

Copyright (C) 2021 Sea State News. All rights reserved.

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