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Hungry for the true history of Diego Garcia and the Chagos Archipelago? Forget the CIA World Fact Book, Wikipedia, and all those political movies and websites. This is the real deal!
42 Flags Over Diego Garcia.
Brought to you by the PPDRDG Ministry of Propaganda, which reminds you to PAY ATTENTION!
Try to decipher what is fact, and what is opinion, as sometimes the two are not the same.
There will be a test!
Do you know any more historical facts about our favorite island? If you do, send them to me, and I'll get them on the list!
|BEFORE PERMANENT SETTLEMENT|
|Late Cretaceous, 65 million years before the present.||The molten core of the earth begins to push up to form the Laccadives, Maldives, and Chagos archipelagos, including the mountain that will eventually become Diego Garcia.|
the Rama Era -
|Hanuman, leader of the Vanaras (talking apes) journeys 800 miles south of India to a place he called Lanka, which is approximately the location of Diego Garcia. Or maybe not.|
|c. 200 A.D.||The great Austronesian diaspora is in full swing. Folks from what is today Indonesia & surrounding areas set out on epic sea voyages in outrigger canoes along the Equatorian Counter Current, settling the Pacific Islands, eventually colonizing islands as far away as Hawaii, New Zealand, and Easter Island. They also traveled the South Equatorial Current of the Indian Ocean, which flows from east to west between the equator and 10 degrees south, reaching Madagascar around this time. Chances are they passed near Diego Garcia (at 7 degrees south), perhaps even landing, but did not establish permanent settlements.|
|1413||Cheng Ho, the Great Eunuch of the Ming Dynasty's Imperial Palace, sails close by. Or maybe not.|
|1502||Clusters of islands, which possibly represent the Chagos Archipelago, appear on Alberto Catino's world map. This is the first time Diego is shown or mentioned anywhere in the world. Or maybe not.|
|1504||The Italian Ludovico de Varthema discovers Diego Garcia during his trip from Berbera, Somalia to the Indian port of Diu in Gujarat. Or maybe not.|
Pedro Mascarenhas, a Portuguese Captain, is detached from the 'Armada de India', of Dom Garcia de Noronha, and sent to India with dispatches by the shortest and fastest route. He sails through the Chagos Archepelago, discovers and names Diego Garcia. Or maybe not.
Spanish explorers discover and name Diego Garcia. Or maybe not.
|June 19, 1605||Sir Edward Michelbourne, a British East India Company "Gentleman Adventurer", i.e., pirate, is on his way home from a two year voyage pirating Dutch traders in the East Indies in command of the TIGRE, sights the "Ile of Diego Graciosa" but cannot find a place to anchor. He described it as being ten or twelve leagues long and being covered with coconut trees, with fish and birds abundant.|
|1666||J. Jansson of Amsterdam publishes a map of the Indian Ocean, titled "Erythraei Sive Rubri Maris Periplus ab Arriano Descriptus nunc verio ab Abrah. Ortelio ex eodem Delineatus" which shows some islands about where Diego Garcia lies today.|
|1719||The British ship STRANGER sails close by, but remains a stranger.|
|1740||Jacques Nicolas Bellin publishes a detailed map in Paris that shows the islands of the Southwest Indian Ocean, including Diego Garcia.|
|1742||The French ships ELISABETH and CHARLES survey the Chagos region.|
|July 15, 1755||Yet another British ship, the HMS MARY, visits Diego Garcia.|
|Late 1700s||The name Diego Garcia becomes standard on maps of the time. Names on earlier maps include Deo Gratia (1537), Isle de Diego Graciosa (1641), Don Garzia, and Chagos Island.|
|1763||British ships SPEAKER and PITT visit Diego, and make the first map of the island. The crew, however, fails to name one single island feature for Parliamentary Speaker Pitt.|
|1769||French Navy Lieutenant La Fontaine, visits Diego Garcia as surveyor for M. le Chevalier Grenier. This expedition consists of two ships, L'HEURE DU BERGER and VERT GALLAND.|
|1770||L'HEURE DU BERGER, captained this time by la Fontaine, returns and enters the lagoon through Barton Pass (an exceedingly treacherous passage). He later writes, 'A large number of vessels could anchor here in safety. The island has a great many coconut trees and is covered with jungle. Many of the trees, such as the "bios blanc" make good firewood. Fish, turtles, seabirds and wild fowl are around, but there is very little fresh water. It is possible to dig a well into the coral of which the island is mainly formed, but the water so obtained is brackish, and could in all probability cause sickness.'|
|1771||French Navy Captain du Roslan arrives at Diego Garcia, after plotting the postion of other Chagos islands, thus establishing Diego's relative location for the first time (everything was relative in those days).|
|1772||The British ship SWIFT captained by Thomas Neale enters the lagoon at Diego. For several years the British in Bombay had been dispatching ships to explore the Chagos Archepelago, but the SWIFT was the first to find any of the islands since 1768.|
|1774||The British ship DRAKE visits, under the command of Captain Adam Sheriff, maps the lagoon entrance, and left sheep, goats and pigs to populate the island (no sailors apparently being particularly interested) as provisions for future generations of maroons.|
|1776 - 1784||The British and French stop exploring the Indian Ocean, being busy with their Navies in the Americas for the period.|
|1785||Some 'straggling Frenchmen' build a dozen or so huts on the island.|
|April 27, 1786||
|Early May 1786||Lieutenant Archibald Blair of the East Indian Company surveys the island and produces the first reliable map of the island. He also names Eclipse (future site of Downtown Diego Garcia) and Observatory Points, which were previously called 'the two teats', no doubt by the staggling, sex-starved Frenchmen.|
|May 30, 1786||The East India Company ship ATLAS wrecks on the oceanside of Diego, stranding James Horsburgh and the rest of the crew on the east arm of the island at the Point which now bears his name. Horsburgh later writes, 'The charts on board were very erroneous in the delineation of the Chagos Islands and Banks, and the commander, trusting too much to dead reckoning, was steering with confidence to make the non-existent Adu or Candu for a new departure, being their longitude nearby, by account, and bound for Ceylon; but, unfortunately a cloud over Diego Garcia prevented the helmsman from discerning it, (the officer of the watch being asleep), till we were on the reef close to the shore. The masts, rudder, and everything above the deck went with the first surge; the second lifted the vessel over the outer rocks and threw her in towards the beach". Horsburgh published numerous charts and papers during his long life, but the great work by which his name still lives is the celebrated ‘Directory’ or rather "Directions for Sailing to and from the East Indies, China, New Holland, Cape of Good Hope, and the interjacent Ports, compiled chiefly from original Journals and Observations made during 21 years' experience in navigating those Seas," The survivors of the ATLAS joined Price's colony, and would have eaten the sheep, goats and pigs left for their use by the DRAKE in 1774, except the straggling Frenchmen had already done so.|
|October 1786||The British experiment in growing food plants on Diego is a failure, especially considering that they have an extra 250 mouths to feed from the ATLAS, and they pack up and sail away, having learned, as thousands of others have since, that a 6 month tour of duty on Diego is long enough.|
|Late 1786||The French arrive in the MINERVE to chase the British off, but the British had already gone. The French leave a 'stone of ownership' on the island proclaiming that it really, after all, belonged to France. Then they sail away, there being no food on the island to speak of.|
|April 30, 1787||Alexander Dalrymple, Hydrographer of the East India Company, writes to Lord Mulgrave to summarize and pontificate on the visits of British Ships to Diego Garcia. Basically, he wanted to try again. As with other proposals by Dalrymple, who was eternally whining that Captain Cook (instead of Dalrymple) had been chosen to search for (and find) Australia in 1770, his suggestions were ignored. Except by Lord Cornwallis, now in charge of British India, and who previously had lost the American Colonies by underestimating his enemy. Oh, and by overestimating the staying power of the French Fleet (read your history of Yorktown for details).|
|1789||Lord Cornwallis sends out Lieutenant Morrsom of the Royal Navy to survey the island and determine its suitability as a staging base for fleets en route to India. Morrsom concludes that it is, but Cornwallis gets interested in other things, and the British forget about Diego Garcia for a decade or two.|
|THE OIL ISLANDS|
|Late 1780s||The French in Mauritius start marooning their Lepers on Diego Garcia. The lepers ate sea turtles, primarily, since turtle meat was believed to cure the disease. It didn't.|
|1792||A British merchant ship stops by, and sends two crew members ashore to talk with the inhabitants. They reported that the island was populated by '8 or 10' lepers. The captain of the ship refuses to allow the crewmembers back aboard, and sails away, leaving them marooned with the lepers.|
|1793||A British Ship, HAMPSHIRE, wrecks attempting to enter the lagoon through Barton Pass (still an exceedingly treacherous passage).|
|1801||Hearing that there were lepers getting fat on DG, the HMS VICTOR puts in to reprovision with water and the lepers' turtles. She then sailed to the Seychelles and sank the French Corvette Fleche, which had just marooned some banished Frenchmen on those islands.|
|April 26, 1809||The captain-general of Maurituis, a certain De Caen, gives M. Blevec and M. Chepe a 'concession' to exploit the eastern part of the atoll as a coconut oil factory.|
|1809||De Caen changes his mind, and forbids processing coconut oil on Diego Garcia, out of a fear that the British would come and steal it. He orders coconuts to be sent to Mauritius for processing.|
|December 3, 1810||
|1812||A severe earthquake on the island shakes the coconut crabs right out of the trees.|
|May 30, 1814||The Treaty of Paris was signed between France and her enemies Great Britain, Russia, Austria, and Prussia, following the (first) abdication of Napoleon. France was forced to return to the borders of 1792. England was granted the French colonies of Tobago, St. Lucia, and Mauritius (and thus it's "lesser dependencies" including Diego Garcia).|
|April 8 -
November 26, 1819
The Dutch warship ADMIRAL EVERTZEN, seeking shelter to make repairs to the leaking ship, sinks in the waters off Diego Garcia after the crew were rescued by the U.S. merchant ship PICKERING. The officers and crew are marooned there until taken back to Mauritius by the PICKERING in two trips which left Diego Garcia on April 22 and June 17, 1819.
Courtesy of Hans van Rijn, March 2012.
of Schout bij Nacht (Rear Admiral) A.A. Buyskes and
March 19, 1819: Sailed west-bound after departing from Anjer in the Sunda Strait (being between the southeastern tip of the island of Sumatra and the northwestern tip of the island of Java). She was accompanied by the Frigat MARIA REISBERGEN and Z.M. (Zijner Majesteits) PRINS HENDRIK.
April 8: After taking on lots of water and continuous pumping for two weeks, Diego Garcia is sighted. The American Brig PICKERING anchored in the lagoon sets sail for rescue operations. The EVERTZEN fails in an effort to sail into the lagoon of DG, and in the evening, the women and sick people are taken on board PICKERING, after its cargo of coconuts is thrown overboard. (The PICKERING was at Diego Garcia to buy coconuts to feed to cattle that they intended to purchase on Madagascar and then sell at the islands of Mauritius or Reunion. This was to occupy the time of that part of the ships crew which was not sealing in the Southern Ocean. Those old Yankees never let an opportunity to turn a profit slip by!)
April 9: Admiral Buyskes decides to leave the EVERTZEN ship against Ver Huell's advice. In a sloop, Ver Huell chases PICKERING, which has set sail for DG, to consult with Buyskes about saving the EVERTZEN. By this time, many of the EVERTZEN's sailors are drunk after finding the stocks of 'Brandewijn' (Brandy). Buyskes rules again that EVERTZEN can not be saved, so the PICKERING sails back to her to take the remaining crew on board. One petty officer is left behind due to being asleep/drunk in the hold. After finding himself alone on board, he fired a canon and the PICKERING returns once again to the EVERTZEN to rescue the drunken sailor. The PICKERING spends the night at sea out of sight of DG, and sees the EVERTZEN catch fire and sink, probably West of DG in deep water.
April 10: PICKERING sails back to DG and anchors in the lagoon.
April 11: PICKERING sails to Pointe de l'Est in the southern lagoon and drops anchor in front of the plantation then run by a French planter, Mr. Joubert. Ver Huell and Buyskes and the crew stay with Mr. Joubert, and Staatsraad ('Councillor') Mr. Elout, one of the VIP passengers on EVERTZEN, moves to Mini Mini.
April 22: 139 of the EVERTZEN's passengers and crew board PICKERING for the journey to Mauritius. Among them are Admiral Buyskes, Councillor Elout, Javanese Prince Radeen Nagoro, Mr. Doef, who is Chief of the Desima Settlement in Japan, and his wife (who is pregnant and unfortunately dies during the passage on April 27). Ver Heull and the other officers and crew stay in DG.
May 9: PICKERING arrives in Port Louis on Mauritius.
May 22: PICKERING departs from Port Louis to pick up the remaining crew of the EVERTZEN on DG.
June 24: PICKERING arrives back in Port Louis with the last 198 of the passengers and crew from EVERTZEN after a fast crossing of just 7 days from DG. Three sailors had died while on DG.
July 9: The Dutch merchant ship VREEDE VAN DORDRECHT leaves from Port Louis for Holland with some of the officers and passengers from EVERTZEN.
July 23: Ver Huell and the rest of the crew from EVERTZEN embark on a small English sailing vessel call a ‘Pink’ named CADMUS.
July 30: CADMUS sails from Port Louis.
Sept 9: CADMUS arrives at St. Helena in the South Atlantic (where Napoleon is interned at the time).
Sept 12 (or 17 according to Ver Huell): CADMUS leaves from St. Helena.
Nov 26 (or 25 according to Ver Huell): At 8:30 CADMUS anchors in the roadstead of Hellevoetsluys, delivering the last of the EVERTZEN’s crew and passengers.
|1824||The British Governor of Mauritius, Lowry Cole, appoints the first British official to the island. He is a Frenchman named Le Camus, and must have found the assignment very existential. His duties were: Restore peace between the lepers and slaves (who had been at war with each other for several years); Act as pilot for any vessel entering Diego Garcia, except for slavers, which were to be denied access; Stop ships from dumping ballast in the main channels; Build a hospital for the lepers on Middle Island; and, Report any lawlessness by visiting ships' crews. Le Camus actually did a pretty good job, although he never builds the hospital.|
|1824||Two brothers, W. and C. T. Horat, arrive and produce the first completely accurate map of Diego for the Mauritius Colonial Government. They were accompanied by Mr. D. Werner, who writes a report giving information necessary for the navigation of ships entering the lagoon. Werner reports that the island is divided into four plantations: Laportaire's, M. Cayeux's, Cayeux's brother's, and Bleved and Patee's. Werner also points out that the island was of no further use for a leper colony, because they had eaten all the turtles.|
|1829||Le Camus asks to be paid for the five years he spent on Diego as a colonial official. The Governor of Mauritius is shocked by this outrageous request, and refuses. Le Camus sues.|
|1831||Le Camus' suit is settled when
the Governor takes Laportaire's concession of 2,590
acres and gives it to Le Camus. There is nothing
recorded about Laportaire's response to the
confiscation, but I'll bet he was P!$$ed off.
|August 1834||England abolishes slavery. Ex-slaves are 'apprenticed' to their former masters for six years before being set completely free in 1840. Thus ended the 41-year history of slavery on Diego Garcia.|
|1835||The lepers from Diego Garcia and a few of the other occupied islands in the Chagos are taken by ship to Ile Curieuse in the Seychelles to be put with other lepers in a real colony with people there to look after them medically, etc. According to inexact information, the black lepers were notably peaceful (and why not, until the previous year they were slaves, and were still indentured, and therefore "knew their place"). On the other hand, the white lepers caused a lot of trouble on the ship. Two of the lepers from DG didn't want to be transfered, and escaped in a canoe, and apparently made it to Danger Island in the Chagos, where the transporting ship couldn't 'rescue' them because there was no anchorage. This is apparently the first account of people not wanting the leave Diego Garcia.|
|August 21, 1838||The first colonial official to visit the island since Le Camus, Charles Anderson, is sent to Diego aboard the LAVERET to tell the slaves that they were freed four years earlier. He reports that there were three plantations, one at East Point, one at Minni Minni, and one at Point Marianne. He also reported that things really weren't all that pleasant for the former slaves, but that crime was nearly non-existant, a condition he attributes to the impossibility of obtaining booze on the island. Perhaps this was why he left after just two days on the island.|
|1840||As a result of Anderson's report, donkeys are brought ashore because British law forbade using humans - i.e., the newly freed slaves - for work that could be done by beasts of burden. The descendants of those donkeys remain on the island to this day.|
|1849||From Steve Forsberg's
thesis: "An article on the Chagos Islands
appeared in The United Service Journal and Naval and
Military Magazine. It took a very dim view
toward the progress of the islands, whose proprietors
“do not themselves reside in these Islands, but live
in opulence where they like, deputing the management
of the affairs of the Chagos to a number of
registrars, or overseers.” The article
does not paint a very nice picture of life on the
islands, but allowances have to be made for the
British sensibilities of the authors. There is dismay
that the laborers “resemble the tribes of Africa, from
whom they took their origin” and that “No idea of a
Supreme Being appears to exist in the Chagos
Archipelago.” After all, the article points out,
the proprietors are of “French descent.
"Most of the islanders lived on huts set on posts 3 feet above the ground, the space below “being invariably occupied by pigs,” which abound and produced a “stench.” Sheep and cows were also to be found on the island, and poultry was “exceedingly plentiful.” There were turtles, both green and hawksbill, and the laborers were rewarded with “a piece of blue cloth worth seven or eight shillings” if they found a particularly fine example. It was noted that by this time seals and walrus were almost entirely gone from the island...
"Dogs were raised on the island and their sale resulted in “considerable revenue.” The article notes a “valuable breed of pointers” being raised. The article is not too clear about when it was referring to Diego Garcia in particular or another of the Chagos Chain. It described an island called “Home of Dogs,” however, that could be one of the small islets in the mouth of Diego Garcia’s lagoon. A large number of dogs were raised there, tended only by “one Negro - generally a leper.” The dogs were reportedly fond of human attention, and at low tides some would swim across to “neighboring islands.” "
|June 20, 1859||The next set of colonial officials to visit, Lt. Berkley and Mr. Caldwell, arrive and take a census. They reported a population of 338 (258 men, 39 women, and 41 children) and 350 donkeys. Working together the various species produced 25,500 gallons of coconut oil that year.|
|1859||Bishop Vincent, the leader of the Anglican Church in Mauritius, arrives to convert the heathen and the Catholics to the Church of England. He noted that the island had a large population of "Malabars" from the Indian subcontinent. The bishop decides not to stay, but encourages other missionaries to try. None heed the call for at least the next 14 years.|
|1860||The Meteorological Society recommended to the Governor for the establishment of a central observatory for hourly or two-hourly observations day and night together with a number of subsidiary observations at Rodrigues, St. Brandon, Agalega, Diego Garcia and Seychelles|
|November 14, 1864||Charles Farquharson, arrives aboard the RAPID to represent the Governor of Mauritius, and take another census. He reports the population of the island was 378 (267 men, 45 women, and 46 children), of whom 20 are Europeans.|
|1864||The Main House and several other of the main buildings at the plantation at East Point are constructed.|
|1866||James Spurs, 'an enlighened, despotic but benevolent man', becomes manager of the plantation at East Point a position he holds until 1883. He establishes very strict regulations concerning alcohol consumption, and forbids killing sea birds, sea turtles, or coconut crabs.|
|October 1875||An outbreak of cholera hits the plantation at Point Marianne, but there are no deaths. Patients are treated in the hospital there, which is made from the deck house of the ship SHANNON, which had wrecked there several years before.|
|1875||E. Parkenham Brooks, the first colonial official to visit since 1859, fined the Manager of the East Point Plantation, James Spurs, for imprisoning three 'labourers' without sufficient cause. He also fined an under-manager at Point Marianne for striking a labourer.|
|1875||Janvier, a 'Malagash' (someone from Madigascar) Voodoo Witch Doctor, is charged with killing a woman giving birth to twins, and the twins, and is sent to Mauritius for trial, where he is found not guilty.|
|1875||A Roman Catholic Priest visits the island, and then leaves it to the heathens. Or perhaps he recognized the prior claim made on the islanders' souls by the Anglicans.|
|Late 1880s||From Steven Forsberg: This one is about when "divers were REAL men." In the late 1880s it seems that famed British diver Alexander Lambert worked on Diego Garcia. Lambert was a legend in his time, among other things he was the first to use "rebreathing" gear. The following is part of a short newspaper 'filler' article that was published in the U.S. circa 1890, it describes a routine day at work for the legendary Lambert: "I can give you one of Lambert's; he once had a thrilling- fight with one at the bottom of the Indian ocean. He had been sent to the island of Diego Garcia to fbr copper sheets on a coal bunk that had been fouled by a steamer, and was annoyed during his operations by the same shark for nearly a week. "The monster was temporarily scared away, however, every time, Lambert opened the escape valve in his helmet and allowed some air to rush out. One day Lambert signaled to his I attendants for a big sheath knife and a looped rope. "Having these, Lambert used his bare hand an a bait and waited until the shark commenced to turn on its back, when he stabbed it repeatedly, passed the noose around its body and signaled for it to be drawn up. The diver brought home the shark's back- as a trophy."Read more about Lambert.|
|August 27, 1883||Inhabitants are shocked to hear loud booming noises. The noise is from the explosion of the volcano Krakatoa near Java, over 1,000 miles to the east. When the sonic wave reaches Rodrigues island, 800 miles west of Diego, the Police Chief reports hearing 'heavy gunfire to the east.'|
|October 29, 1883||The Orient Steamer LUSITANIA puts in for coal. However, so many of the laborers of the Orient Company were absent and refused to do extra work even with pay. James Spurs had to hire colliers from the rival Lund and Company.|
|1883||The plantations of the islands in the Chagos Archipelago combine into one company called the 'Societe Huiliere de Diego et Peros'. The effect on Diego Garcia was to close the estate headquarters at Minni Minni and combine that plantation with the one at East Point. Point Marianne remained as a separate community headed by a sub-manager.|
|1883||Laborers at the East Point Plantation, armed with knives and clubs, stage an insurrection, which is put down by the M. LeConte by brandishing his revolver. LeComte blames the 45 men working for Lund and Company for the troubles, since they are "without any women".|
|1883||A.H.S. Lucas, one of the trailblazers of phycology, spends two days paddling around the lagoon observing the seaweeds during coaling of the SS CUZCO. He gets so engrossed, that the ship's manager and Lucas' wife have to paddle out and haul him back to the ship just in time to sail away to Australia. Fluent in English, French, and German, Lucas later taught himself to read Russian, primarily to understand some papers about lizards written in that language. A life-long scientist and teacher, he authored the seminal 2-volume work "The Seaweeds of South Australia."|
|1883||A ship carrying 500 Japanese Moslem pilgrims destined for Mecca (the Haj pilgrimage) stops off at Eclipse Point, where they get out and wander around for a while.|
|February 16, 1884||
The steamer NATAL belonging to Lund and Company bound from England to Australia, anchors at East Point with 90 passengers on board, 8 of whom are suffering from measles. A child died the next day from that disease, but Mr. LeConte refused to allow it to be buried ashore for fear that the disease would spread on the island. The NATAL left the next day and threw the body overboard outside the lagoon.
|1884||Captain Raymond, of the sailing ship WINDSOR CASTLE, which had arrived with 1,334 tons of coal for Lund and Company, gets drunk, lands at East Point with 16 armed men, takes pot shots at what he thought was Spur's house (which was unoccupied), nails the Union Jack on a nearby palm tree, and claims the (already British) island for Great Britain. He sobers up two days later, and sails away. No one else in the history of Diego Garcia ever got quite that drunk. Except maybe one or two people once or twice.|
|1884||Another Roman Catholic Priest visits the island, and leaves.|
|1885||HMS RAMBLER under the command of the Honorable F.C.P. Vereker, carries out a detailed survey of the lagoon. Rambler Bay, on the northeast side of the lagoon is named for this ship. This is the first thorough hydrographic survey of the northern lagoon, and along with Moresby's more general survey of the southern lagoon, remains the basis of the charts today.|
|1885||A Mr. Butler is appointed Constable Sergeant, and arrives with six Constables to establish law and order, primarily to prevent a recurrance of Captain Raymondesque shennannigans.|
|July 13, 1886||
Admiral Sir Frederick Richards
stops at Minni Minni to coal up his fleet, comprised
of HMS BACCHANTE (pictured here), TURQUOISE,
REINDEER, and MARINER, en route to
Zanzibar to stop the Arab Trade in African
Slaves. (This was NOT the same HMS
REINDEER that was captured by the USS
WASP in 1814.)
|1886||Louis Fidele is imprisoned for practicing witchcraft in the cemetary at East Point. This witchcraft was intended to ensure that the ghosts would not rise up to haunt the living, which was a very real fear of the workers on the island.|
|1886||The Naturalist G.C. Bourne spends four months on the island studying geology and the bird and plant life. Bourne later teaches as Oxford, and lectures on his discoveries.|
|July 4, 1887||Thomas Marsh in the HMS MARINER returns to DG after a 4-day speed run down from Trincomalee, India. The MARINER took on 74 tons of coal at DG and left that afternoon for Mauritius.|
|1888||The coaling stations on the island close, their rowdy employees depart, and steamships stop stopping. No longer needed to police the wild crowds of imported Somalis, Indians and Chinese manning the stations, Mister Butler and his Constables are withdrawn, and no other police force was set up for the next 85 years. The island is left to the workers and European overseers of the plantations.|
|1895||The first church is built at the East Point Plantation. The settlements at Minni Minni, East Island and Middle Island were abandoned.|
The Deutsche Tiefsee (German deep sea) Expedition, aboard the VILDIVIA carries out a survey of the marine fauna of the surrounding wates and the lagoon. Here is a chart of their route through the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is in the middle of the picture.
|1901||1,500 coconut trees are blown over during a typhoon.|
|1903||The process of drying coconut meat to make copra is introduced, and the production of oil for export ceases. Instead the copra is shipped to Mauritius for processing into oil.|
|July 7-13, 1905||The Percy Sladen Trust Expedition, led by J. Stanley Gardiner, studies the island's geomorphology, and the marine and land plants and animals. The Expedition was investigating the biological relationships between the Seychelles, Mascarenes and Chagos groups and tried to find evidence for former land connections between the islands. The discoveries of this expedition established that the granitic Seychelles islands are continental fragments of Gondwana, isolated from India and Madagascar 65 million years ago while the other islands are volcanic in origin, and that the Seychelles had an 'archaic' fauna, while the Mascarenes, Amirantes, Aldabra and Chagos Island groups have similar 'immigrant' taxa that traveled to the islands on the predominant marine currents.|
|1908||Doctor Powell arrives as head of a medical mission. He finds, literally, shitty sanitation conditions regarding latrines, and that safe water supply practices are ignored by 'both labor and management' and that they better clean up their act. He also proposes that the islanders be forbidden to take wine away from the village shop, and that they be required to drink it in the bar. He blames much of the island's crime and disease on the quality of the wine. "Only coarse wine is given, and then comes the rub, a fight and the knife".|
|October 9, 1914||
From “The Emden”
by Kapitanleutnant Helmuth von Mücke, 1917.
As there was not a merchantman of the enemy now abroad, our Commander, as has been related, decided to give the “Emden” a much needed overhauling, especially to clean the bottom of the ship. So we steered a southerly course, which took us out of the Bay of Bengal, and, one fine morning, our anchor rattled down into the sea for the first time in many a long day. We were in the harbor of Diego Garcia, a small island belonging to England, and situated in the extreme southern part of the Indian Ocean.
Hardly had we
anchored when the English flag was joyfully run
up on shore. A boat with an old Englishman in it
put off from the island and came toward us. With
his face beaming with the pleasure of seeing
some one from the outside world, he came on
board, bringing with him gifts of fresh eggs,
vegetables, etc. He gave eager expression to the
delight it afforded him to have the opportunity,
after many years, once more to greet some of his
German cousins, so dear to his heart, and so
highly esteemed. He assured us that he was
always so glad to see the Germans, especially
those that came in their fine war ships. He had
not seen one of them since 1889, when the two
frigates, the "Bismarck" and the "Marie," had
run into the harbor. That was a long time ago,
he remarked, but for this very reason it made
him all the happier to see us now, and he hoped
it would not be long before another German ship
would anchor at Diego Garcia.
At first we were
somewhat surprised at this greeting, although by
this time we had become accustomed to all kinds of
English eccentricities. But soon we learned from
our guest that Diego Garcia receives a mail only
twice a year, by way of Mauritius, and so the
people on the little island as yet knew nothing of
the war. We surely were not disposed to acquaint
them with the horrors of existing conditions. Why
should we? And, moreover, it might so happen that
we would come again before many days had passed.
However, when our
guest came on board the “Emden” and, looking about
him, saw the condition of this German man-of-war,
he opened his eyes wide in astonishment. Instead
of the usual white deck, shining with cleanliness,
he beheld an ill-looking, oil-stained flooring,
blackened by coal dust, and furrowed with deep
scratches. He saw that the color of the engine
skylight was more nearly black than gray, that the
railing was not only broken, but entirely missing
in places, that only small patches of linoleum
were still to be seen here and there, that thickly
plaited matting was hung about the guns as a
protection against splintering, that there were
many spots on the walls indicating that something
was gone that had either stood or hung there, and
that in the officers' mess there was a remarkable
scarcity of furniture. When he beheld all this, he
was blank with astonishment, and wanted to know
what it all meant. We tried to reassure him,
however, by telling him that we were on a cruise
around the world, that this made it desirable for
us to dispense with everything that was not
absolutely necessary, and that we had to use every
available place for coal. In addition, we treated
him so generously with whiskey, that presently he
gave up thinking at all. He did not seem to find
this a very difficult thing to do. With an effort,
he managed to ask us to do him a favor, which was
that we should repair his motor boat for him, that
he had not been able to use for the past half
year. This we promised to do, and we kept our
word. We made the most of the time we spent in
this quiet and remote harbor to put our ship in as
good condition as possible, to give her a thorough
cleaning, and especially to scrape the bottom, and
give it a fresh coat of paint. The latter could,
of course, be only imperfectly accomplished, and
was managed by letting water enough into one side
of the ship to give it a slanting position. Men in
small boats then cleaned and painted as much of
the bottom as had been raised out of the water in
While we lay in the harbor, we found diversion in a novel sort of hunting. Looking down from the deck one day, we saw two objects floating in the water close by the ship. At first sight we took them to be bundles of dirty rags that had been thrown overboard. Suddenly, however, we saw that the objects moved, and were silvery white on the under side. Upon closer inspection they tumed out to be two enormous rays. I estimated their size to be from four to five square meters. They had great wide, shiny yellow mouths, which they opened to catch the small fish they were chasing.
Rifles were quickly brought out, and we tried to get a shot at the creatures. To do this, we had to wait for the propitious moment when they raised their backs somewhat out of the water. One of our shots, fired at just the right moment, hit one of the fish squarely on the back. Tossing and splashing, it made a leap from twenty to thirty centimeters high out of the water, all the while flapping violently with its broad fins, causing a commotion in the water resembling that produced by the beating of the wings of a large bird.
Much to our disappointment, we failed to secure the fish however.
Naturally, some of the time we passed in the harbor was devoted to fishing. Everywhere out of the side windows dangled fish lines, and the efforts of the fishermen brought rich reward. The queerest specimens were pulled up. Fish of every color were there, — red, green, and blue ones; broad fish, and narrow, pointed ones; some with eyes on their upper side, while others had them underneath, and still others were provided with long spines. They were all landed on deck, but were not allowed to be eaten until the ship's doctor had examined them and pronounced them fit for food, as we were aware that certain kinds of fish are poisonous.
We saw sea snakes also. But, to our regret, we failed to catch any. They were about two meters long, and light green in color. The creatures had a peculiar way of leaping upward out of the water, all the while whipping vigorously back and forth with their tails, assuming an almost vertical position as they moved rapidly along on the surface of the water.
This idyl of southern seas could, unfortunately, be of but short duration. Soon the "Emden" was on her way to new fields of action...
|October 12, 1914||Eight hours after the EMDEN
steamed off to her destiny (to be blown to bits at
Cocos), the British Auxilliary Cruiser HMS EMPRESS
OF RUSSIA and her mate the HMS HAMPSHIRE
arrive to tell the plantation manager that World War
One had started two months before, and to be on the
lookout for the EMDEN.
-- The Last Gentleman-of-War: The Raider Exploits of the Cruiser Emden by R. K. Lochner, p. 132., Naval Institute Press, 1988.
The HMAS HUON, HMAS SWAN, HMAS TORRENS, HMAS PARRAMATTA, HMAS WARREGO, and HMAS YARRA stop briefly during their search of the Chagos Archipelago for survivors of two British vessels, JUMNA and WORDSWORTH, which had disappeared without trace early in 1917. Nothing was found and the destroyers, ‘River’ Class Torpedo Boat Destroyers built for the Royal Australian Navy during the period 1909-16, continued their voyage, arriving at Port Said on 9 August 1917.
|1926||From Steve Forsberg's thesis: "One note of excitement would be the assignment of a new manager in the mid 1920s. Soon there were complaints that “labourers are being roughly handled and ill treated by the new manager Mr. Edouard D’Argent” and that the islanders were living in a state of fear. In May 1926, Mr. Henry Bigara died shortly after a person named Fidelia had committed suicide. Police sergeant LeMeme quickly figured out that an islander variously called Besage or Catawon had murdered Bigara at the instigation of the manager D’Argent. They were both sent to Mauritius to stand trial for the death of Bigara (Fidelia’s death could not be pinned on them). Catawon was quickly convicted but the jury hung on D’Argent’s guilt. He had many friends in Mauritius and the local press supported him. In addition there were rumors of jury tampering. A second trial convicted D’Argent, however, and he was sentenced to spend the rest of his life in “penal servitude” on Mauritius. He died shortly thereafter."|
|1932||The Chapel at East Point is constructed, the previous one (built in 1895) having been crushed by a falling palm tree.|
|November, 1933||Father Dussercle, a Roman Catholic Priest, arrives aboard the 380-ton barque DIEGO, determined to stamp out Anglican Protestantism and paganism. He was especially offended by the continuing practice of witchcraft in the cemetaries, especially 'orgies, lascivious dancing, immoral getups, and revolting acts committed on the corpses.'|
|May 24, 1939||The HMS LIVERPOOL'S made a call at East Point, and the crew was allowed liberty ashore; when recalled in the evening two marines, Billy Bishop and Dennis Turnbull, were missing. They hid in the jungle for some days, eventually being discovered by some plantation workers, and turned over to the plantation manager. Some weeks later, HMS MANCHESTER arrived at Diego Garcia, and the two men gave themselves up. Just in time for WWII.|
|June 1939||A Consolitated PBY-2 Flying Boat, call sign GUBA-2, piloed by Captain P.G. Taylor, carried out an air mail route survey flight from Australia across the Indian Ocean calling at Cocos Islands, Diego Garcia, and Seychelles arriving at Mombasa on 21 June 1939. It then returned to California, whence it had departed a year or so earlier. World War II intervened before this service could be inagurated.|
|WORLD WAR II ON DIEGO GARCIA|
|September 1, 1939||Germany invades Poland, beginning World War II.|
|May 1940||The British set up a Convoy Route dubbed "X.C." from the Chagos through the Maldives to Colombo, Ceylon. The route is used throughout World War II.|
|March 1941||RAFA ANNE (Royal Air Force Association ship) arrives from Seletar in the Maldives with 'sectionalised huttery', an Air Ministry Works Department officer and coolies to set up an RAF seaplane outpost. RAFA ANNE, a.k.a. RAFA TUNG SONG was a twin screw steamer of 178 feet length, with carrying capacity of 350 tons. On charter from Singapore Straits Steamship Company, she was still crewed by the civilian crew, with a small detachment of RAF personnel aboard.|
|July 7, 1941||Squadron Leader Jardine flies Catalina W8417 from Diego Garcia to check for enemy shipping at Suvadiva (Huvadhu) and Addu Atolls, then over flew Male, and checked progress of RAF buildings on Dhoonidhoo Island (north of Male) thence to Koggala, Ceylon.|
|February 14, 1942||HMAS WOLLONGONG, a 650-ton minesweeper, departs Freemantle Australia to join the "Eastern Fleet" at Diego Garcia.|
The RMs were relieved by by the X Mauritian Battery, who were in turn relieved by the 12th Indian Coast Battery of the Indian Army in September 1942. Their quarters were at a village called "Noroit" on the northwest corner of the island - approximately where the GPS Site is today.
Forsberg provides this alternative regarding the guns: "The guns themselves were 6" Mark VII guns, one (piece 1264) manufactured by Vickers and the other (piece 1417) by the Royal Gun Factory. The former was installed on cradle 798 and pedestal 1067, while the later was installed on cradle 1067 and pedestal 798, the cradle/pedestal sets apparently getting switched during installation. The guns had a range of approximately 14,000 yards with a nominal muzzle velocity of 2,500 feet per second. There were 99 feet and a 276.5 degree bearing from gun number one to number two. A 2-meter Barr & Stroud F.T.29 rangefinder (number 22119) was used on a Type M.T. 1454 modified mount (number 2219). A Vickers clock and naval Dumaresq were used for fire control." Forsberg also states the guns were mounted in December 1941. His references certainly appear to be more accurate than mine!
According to a book due out in April 2006 by Robert Swarbrick, this RM unit was "Detachment 350" and also served on Addu.
Other war-time construction included telephone lines and a road from Canon Point to Point Marianne to the East Point Plantation. The road ran along the lagoon shore-line, and included concrete bridges over the barachois at the South end of the lagoon.
|July 26, 1942||
|November 17, 1942||
This victory causes the Imperial Japanese Navy to abandon commerce raiding with surface ships in the Indian Ocean.
|January 27, 1943||HMAS TAMWORTH, sister ship to the WOLLONGONG I, sailed from Fremantle, escorting the tanker SS ATHELDUKE to Diego Garcia. From Diego Garcia she proceeded to Colombo to join the British Eastern Fleet, with which she was to serve for some two years on Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf convoy escort duty.|
|April 1943||The British set up a Convoy Route dubbed "C.X." from Colombo through the Maldives to the Chagos. It is the reciprocal of X.C. set up in May 1940.|
|September 20, 1943||
|September 30, 1943||Wreckage from the Liberty Ship SS SAMUEL HEINTZELMAN 0651 washes ashore at Minni Minni. The HEINTZELMAN had been sunk by the German Submarine U-511 about 200 miles east of Diego (at 9S-81E) on July 9. She was carrying 5,644 tons of ammunition and blew up after being struck by a single torpedo with the loss of all 69 crewmen and six passengers.|
|April 4, 1944||
|June 29, 1944||Here's
the Catalinas were on Diego Garcia. The Imperial
Japanese Navy submarine I-8 sinks the 6,942-ton
Eastern and Australia Line's freighter NELLORE
about 200 miles ESE of Diego at 07-51S, 75-20E.
There were 209 passengers and crew on board, and 79 are
lost and the I-8 took 1 crewmember and 10 passengers
prisoner. A week later, the frigate HMS LOSSIE
rescues 112 crewmen and lands them at Addu Atoll. On
17 July, two crewmen are picked up by an RAF "Catalina"
and landed at Ceylon. On 27 July, almost 2500 miles from
the site of the NELLORE's sinking and a month
later, ten crewmen land at Sambavany,
Madagascar. On July 2, the I-8
torpedoes the 7,176-ton American "Liberty" ship JEAN
NICOLET. The I-8 surfaces, shells
the lifeboats, and takes 99 survivors aboard, where
Captain (Commander, posthumously Rear Admiral) Ariizumi
has them searched, bound and questioned. He has
the NICOLET's master, radio operator and a
civilian passenger taken below. Then, in a three-hour
massacre, most of the survivors are beaten, stabbed, or
shot. Some are made to run a gauntlet of crewmen with
knives and pipes. When the I-8's radar picks up
an aircraft, Ariizumi submerges and leaves the bound
Americans on deck to drown, but some of the survivors,
return to the sinking NICOLET and launch rafts.
On 4 July, the Indian Navy trawler HOXA rescues
just 23 survivors. Of the three Americans taken below on
the I-8, only the passenger survives internment as a
POW. This isn't the first time Ariizumi killed
prisoners. On 26 March 1944, Ariizumi had his crew
massacre the crew of the 5,787-ton armed Dutch merchant
TJISALAK near the Maldives. He had the crew
kill them on the I-8's deck with swords and by
clubbing them with wrenches, and ordered machine-gunners
to fire on any survivors who leap overboard. Of the 102
men and one nurse on the TJISALAK only five men
survive. They eventually reach a lifeboat and are later
picked up by the American "Liberty" ship JAMES A.
The I-8 was also famous for making a trip to Brest France in 1943. She was subsequently sunk during a surface engagement with the USS MORRISON (DD-560) off Okinawa at 25-29N, 128-35E, with the loss of 130 of her crew (there was one survivor who was wounded and blown overboard during the engagement).
Ariizumi was promoted and reassigned in late 1944. The Japanese claim he shot himself after Japan's surrender, but his body was never seen be the allies.
13 former I-8 crewmen are tried for war crimes in 1946, several recieving sentences, the maximum of which was 7 years. Just doesn't seem like enough to me.
|September 15, 1944||A Seaplane Tender and two PBY Catalinas break their moorings and are blown ashore at East Point during a typhoon. One of the Catalinas, K for Katie, Pilot Officer James Park, Commander, remains on the beach to this day.|
|An epidemic of dengue fever strikes the island. Most of the RAF personnel came down with the disease, and several islanders died of it.|
|September 1945||Following the Surrender of Japan on September 2, 1945, the RAF Seaplane Base at East Point is closed, and the airmen and the soldiers manning the guns at Eclipse Point start going home. It would be another seven years before aircraft were seen in the skies over Diego.|
|October 1945||The RAF Meterological Station is turned over to the colonial government of Mauritius, and is operated continuously until 1800 hours, August 2, 1972.|
|A VERY BRIEF
|1946||Royal Marine Captain J. Alan Thompson, a Scotsman, publishes the first of three semi-autobiographical, but mostly fictional, accounts of life on the island during World War II, "Only the Sun Remembers". He published the others in 1949 and 1956.|
|1951||MV SIR JULES replaces the SS ZAMBEZIA on the Mauritius to Diego Garcia cargo route.|
|August 13, 1952||Tony Freeborn pilots his Shackelton from 205 Squadron at RAF Gan over Diego Garcia to photograph possible seaplane mooring sites from a proposed survey crew (which arrives in November). Tony's aircraft is the first aircraft to be seen in the skies of Diego Garcia since WWII.|
|September 4, 1952||Bernard Moitessiere, sailing solo in the Siamese Junk MARIE-TH'RESE, runs aground on the reef at Diego Garcia. He waded ashore and was surprised to discover French speaking inhabitants. Six weeks after the wreck, he was given a ride to Mauritius on board a British Corvette. Here's what Bernard wrote about sailing in the southern seas: "I have no desire to return to Europe with all its false gods. They eat your liver out and suck your marrow and brutalize you. I am going where you can tie up a boat where you want and the sun is free, and so is the air you breathe and the sea where you swim and you can roast yourself on a coral reef...." My kind of Frenchman.|
|October 13, 1952||
|November 1, 1952||An RAF survey crew arrives in a Sunderland flying boat and surveys Eclipse Point (the northwest tip) for a possible 6,000 foot airstrip.|
|1955||The Cattle Egret is introduced to Diego from the Seychelles in an attempt to control the fly and insect population of the island. It quickly becomes a common sight and by 2001 it is a major pest on the airfield.|
|October 1955||Sir Robert Scott, Governor of Mauritus, visits aboard the HMS KILLISPORT. When he goes home, he starts writing the book "Limuria: The Lesser Dependencies of Mauritius" about the place. He noted that chickens were so numerous that the going rate for a broiler was three English cigarettes.|
|1957||A collecting expedition from Yale University's Peabody Museum visits with James E. Morrow, a student of Daniel Merriman's interested in billfishes, as the ichthyologist. Morrow worked as the unofficial curator of fishes at the Peabody from 1949 until 1960.|
|1959||A.J.E. Orian visits Diego Garcia and publishes his report on the coconut industry there in the Review of Mauritian Agriculture.|
|1962||The Chagos Agalega
Company of the Seychells buys all the coconut
plantations in the islands from the previous owners, the
Societe Huiliere de Diego et Peros (a Mauritian company
financed by a French firm based in Paris). Chagos
Agalega stands for the Chagos archipelago (of which
Diego Garcia is the largest island) and Agalega Island,
which is part of the island nation of the
Seychells. The Mauritian company name means "Oil
Can Company of Diego and Peros" (Peros Banhos being
another of the lagoons in the Chagos).
|July 1964||From Forsberg: "A US Navy survey team, led by Commander Harry Hart of the office of the Chief of Naval Operations, flew from the U.S. to England where it picked up more members, including British representatives. Ultimately, it flew to Gan in the Maldive islands and transferred to the HMS DAMPIER for the final leg to Diego Garcia. It might be significant that one of the members of the survey team was Mr. Vance Vaughn, who was from the U.S. Navy Communications Annex at Nebraska Avenue in Washington, D.C. Nebraska Avenue was the headquarters of Naval Security Group, the arm of the navy tasked with signals intelligence. More overtly, the team included two enlisted men who were tasked with setting up a radio unit for tests. Master Chief Electronics Technician Richard M. Young and Radioman Chief M. J. Meriji used a 25-watt skid-mounted generator to power their radio, and a 20-foot dipole antenna to transmit. Using the call sign WOLF WOMAN they tested the islands “hearability” by contacting various other radio stations, particularly ships at sea."|
|November 8, 1965||
|December 30, 1966||Great Britain and the United States execute an "exchange of notes" making the island available for the defense needs of both countries for the next 50 years, with an option for 20 more.|
|February 8, 1967||BIOT Ordinance No 1, the Compulsory Acquisition of Land for Public Purposes Ordinance, was made. It empowered the Commissioner to acquire land compulsorily for a public purpose, notably and explicitly the defence purposes of the UK or Commonwealth or other foreign countries in agreement with the UK.|
|March 22, 1967||The Commissioner made the BIOT Ordinance No 2, the Acquisition of Land for Public Purposes (Private Treaty)Ordinance, enabling him to acquire land by agreement for the same public purposes.|
|April 3, 1967||Acting under the provisions of BIOT Ordinance No 2, The British Government buys ALL the plantations throughout the Chagos archipelago for 660,000 pounds from The Chagos Agalega Company.|
|June - July 1967||HMS VIDAL , a Royal Navy
Survey Ship, under the command of Captain C.R.K. Roe,
conducts a thorough hydrographic survey of the lagoon
and surrounding ocean. A 9-man team of US Navy
SEABEES from NMCB-40 was aboard and took up residence at
the current site of "Downtown", having been picked up by
the VIDAL at RAF Gan in the Maldives
after being flown there in USAF C-141s. This team
conducted a thorough engineering study of the island to
determine its suitability for a base under the Code Name
PROJECT REST STOP. Also aboard the VIDAL
are Prof David Stoddart and Dr John Taylor, who
spend a month studying Diego Garcia's environment and in
1971 publish "The Geography and Ecology of Diego Garcia
and the Chargos Archipelago." There were also two
scientists from the British Royal Society.
|August 13, 1968||The British Commissioner for the BIOT issues a regulation forbidding the killing of Green Sea Turtles, or the possession or sale of any turtle or turtle product.|
|1968||Jean Cole publishes her non-fiction account of her family's 11,700 mile journey from Mombassa to New Zealand with a stop at Diego Garcia.|
|1968||The MV NORDVAER from Port Victoria, Seychelles assumes the cargo and supply run to the new Colony of the British Indian Ocean Territory, replacing the MV SIR JULES from Mauritius.|
|1968-1970||American geodesists and technicians, led by Kirby Crawford, operates a satellite triangulation station, with living quarters, just east of the East Point plantation for the US Department of Defense and the US Coast and Geodetic Survey. The team photographs balloon satellites along with stars in the background at night with a large astronomic camera. They also observe a precise astronomic position by conventional survey methods and establish a precise triangulation network throughout the island. This was the first program to accurately measure the size and shape of the earth, which they found is not exactly round. But it isn't exactly flat either.|
|January 23, 1971||
|March 9, 1971||
|March 12, 1971||The USS VERNON COUNTY beaches and begins offloading the men and construction equipment that will be used to build the US Navy base on Diego Garcia.|
|March 24, 1971||The SEABEES begin construction of a US Naval Communications Station.|
Soviet Surveillance Ship "DURIYA" is sighted 10 miles
out from Eclipse Point. The same ship is spotted
on 24 June, and again on 30 June. This ship or one
like her was spotted routinely through October
1971. Many thanks to Dan Urish, Island Commander,
for the drawing and information.
||The Royal Navy sends jet
fighters from the Aircraft Carrier HMS EAGLE over the atoll while enroute
from Capetown to Singapore. The fighters make
several low, high speed passes over Reindeer Station, so
fast that no one on the island can positively identify
the nationality, generating years of reports of Russian
MiGs spying on the SEABEES (the Russians had no aircraft
carriers or aerial refueling capability to get MiGs to
DG from their nearest base in Berbera, Somalia, even if
they wanted to). An hour later, a British
Helicopter from the EAGLE becomes the first aircraft to
land at the still-under-construction US base with a note
from Admiral David Williams to the Island Commander (Dan
Urish) and a bottle of Scotch. An American liaison
officer aboard the helo takes a bag of mail back to the
EAGLE for posting on their arrival in Singapore.
|July 28, 1971||The first runway on
the island is completed, all 3,500 feet of it, four days
ahead of schedule. The first C-130 to land carries
the SEABEES who built it back to Bangkok for 10 days of
drunken promiscuity. Many thanks to Commander Dan
Urish, NMCB-40 and First Island Commander for these
||Soviet Destroyer #405 is sighted
12 miles west of Eclipse Point in company with the
Surveillance Ship "DURIYA". Soviet Ships were seen
in the vicinity of Diego Garcia regularly from June -
October, 1971. Drawing generously donated by Dan
Navy submarine HMS ORPHEUS stops in for a one day
visit to see how the SEABEES are getting along.
She was commanded by LCDR Tim Sloan of
Portsmouth. Many thanks to Commander Urish for
|October 15, 1971||The last of the plantation workers (commonly refered to as the Ilois) and their families are shipped out on the ISLE OF FARQUHAR, ending 178 years of continuous civilian habitation.|
|1971||Killing the dogs. According to testimony the UK High Court in 2003, the Governor of the Seychelles ordered the killing of about 800 stray and abandoned dogs, which had taken over the east side of Diego Garcia as the population of Ilois shrank. According to the then-manager of the Plantation on Diego Garcia, they were shot, poisoned, and gassed using vehicle exhaust. Apparently, U.S. Navy personnel carried out the killings.|
|Oct. - Nov. 1971||The CHAGOS DETACHMENT of NMCB-71 and the whole of NMCB-1 arrives to begin large scale construction of the antenna fields and the runway, which was lengthened to 6,000 feet.|
|1971||The U.S. Naval Weather Service Environmental Detachment (NWSED) is established in 1971, assuming meteorological responsibilities from the Mauritius Meteorological Service under the provision that weather data from Diego Garcia be made available to their country.|
|November 19, 1971
One, Cdr. Phillip Oliver, Jr., Commanding, formally
relieves NMCB 40, Cdr. Dan Urish, Commanding.
|December 18, 1971
P. J. Canter, Royal Navy, arrives on Diego Garcia as
the very first "BRIT REP" (representative of the
British Indian Ocean Territory Commissioner). He
stays two years!
|December 30, 1971
Charles S. Cummings, NMCB-One, died at the U.S. Army
Hospital at Camp Zama, Japan, as a result of being
scalded by live steam when a Desalination Plant Boiler
exploded on December 28.
|1971||David Stoddart, and J. Taylor publish the seminal collection of articles on Diego Garcia's geography and ecology in the Smithsonian Institute's Atoll Research Bulletin, volume 149. "The Geography and Ecology of Diego Garcia and The Chagos Archepelago" includes articles on many subjects including history, climatology, geography, wildlife, reef studies, etc. To understand Diego Garcia as it was just before the US military arrived, and evaluate the changes since, you MUST read this book. For a copy in .pdf format, go to the University of Hawaii's web site, scroll down to "No. 149" and download it. It's huge - 21.7mb, but it's absolutely worth it if you care at all about serious science and history.|
|July 1972||NMCB-62 arrives to continue construction activities.|
|August 2, 1972||
The Meterorolgical Station near the East Point Plantation closes, with it's weather observation duties assumed by the USN.
|December 25, 1972||The first jet aircraft to land on the island, a C-141 Starlifter, carries in Bob Hope and his USO tour.|
|1972||ABHAN Daniel Vaughan, from Virginia, builds and uses the first surf board (a long board) on the island|
|1973||The British government gives the now-independent government of Mauritius 650,000 pounds to resettle the black Ilois. The Hindu-majority Mauritian government promptly makes the money disappear for several years and the Ilois (who later change their name to 'Chagossians') are ghetto-ized into the worst slums of Port Louis.|
|March 20, 1973||
|October 1, 1977||US Naval Support Facility, Diego Garcia, is commissioned.|
|April 12-16, 1979||The USS ELLIOT (DD 967) makes port call at Diego, then rendevouz with the USS RANGER and TF 77.4 for operations in the Gulf of Aden.|
|May 17, 1979||Flying from the USS CONSTELLATION, VA-146 performs a 24-airplane fly-by of Diego Garcia. The squadron is equipped with A-6E Corsairs.|
|July 12, 1979||
|September 25, 1979||
|1979||The SEABEES of NMCB-5 are awared the Navy Expeditionary Medal for their efforts to build the base at DG.|
|July 1, 1980||The first SR-71 to land at Diego, #962, arrived from Kadena AB, Okinawa with Pilot Bob Crowder and RSO Don Emmons at the controls. The 4,000+ mile flight took 4.5 hours. SR-71 operations are supported by Detachment 8, 4300d Strategic Reconnaisance Wing.|
|1980||The US Navy establishes the Near Term Prepositioned Force (NTPF) to hold a Marine Corps brigade worth of equipment on shipboard. This is the first of many floatillas of pre-positioned supply ships that ride at anchor in the lagoon. The ships in the first floatilla include USNS MERCURY (formerly SS ILLINOIS), USNS METEOR (formerly SS LIPSCOMB LYKES), USNS JUPITER, USNS MISPILLION, SS AMERICAN COURIER, SS AMERICAN CHAMPION, and USNS SEALIFT PACIFIC (formerly SS ZAPATA PATRIOT). The ships sailed from Wilminton, Delaware to their new home in July 1980.|
|October 1980||The Guided Missile Cruiser USS TRUXTON, CGN-35, which was the 4th USN nuclear powered surface ship, visits DG during a cruise of the Indian Ocean lasting 110 days. DG was the ONLY port of call for the TRUXTON during that cruize.|
|June 1981||KC-135s from the 161st Air Refueling Group, Arizona National Guard, complete the first National Guard tanker deployment to Diego Garcia.|
|January 14, 1981||
|July 1982||The US Navy awards a contract to the Houston-based firms of Raymond International Builders, Inc., Brown and Root, Inc., and the Middlesex, England firm of Mowlem International Ltd. (RBRM) to construct facilities for the US Navy and US Air Force over the next five years, consisting of 128 projects at a cost of more than $400,000,000.|
|March 26, 1982||Civilization returns to Diego Garcia. Barbara Shuping, the first U.S. Navy woman assigned to the island, arrives ending 11 years of male domination of the island.|
|July 1982||The last full SEABEE Battalion to serve on the island, NMCB-62, departs.|
|1982||Not having learned its lesson, the British government gives the government of Hindu-majority Mauritius 4,000,000 pounds for the black Ilois. Again, the Ilois never see the money.|
|1982||A US Navy transport squadron, VRC-50, flying S-3s, sets up a permanent detachment on Diego Garcia to fly supplies to Aircraft Carriers in the Indian Ocean.|
|1982||A CH-46 with about 9 people plus the crew looses one of its engines and crashes into the USS MILWAUKEE in the lagoon and sinks. One of the passengers was pulled down with the aircraft, the rest survived.|
|September 1983||The last SEABEE Detachment (from NMCB-62) departs. In 12 years, the SEABEES had completed 220 projects for the US Navy and US Air Force valued at $200,000,000 - the largest peacetime Naval construction project in history.|
|November 30, 1983||At 21:46 local time, an earthquake measuring 7.6 on the Richter Scale hit Diego Garcia. It lasted 142 seconds. Most island residents are drunk and learn of the event the next morning.|
|November 2, 1985||
|1985-ish||The new pier and runway are completed. Here's a description of these facilities: "Major components of the project include a 2,000-foot, deep draft wharf to accommodate all classes of Navy vessels, a small-boat basin for support craft with five concrete pile-supported piers, a boat repair facility including a 450-ton boat lift, and a transfer system. Shoreline stabilization consists of a 1,500-foot, 1.5-ton stone breakwater, sheet pile bulkhead, shoreline revetment, a 50-acre landfill for airfield extension, complete utility system, back land ancillary facilities, dredging, and navigational aids and markers. The project required the complete dredging of a new boat basin and ship channel. The dredged material was used to create a 100-acre landfill upon which the back land facilities were built. The back land facilities included administration and maintenance buildings, complete fueling and POL facilities, and all other required utilities and port infrastructure. As part of the overall design and construction for the waterfront facilities, M&N designed 600,000-square foot Portland Cement concrete runway and parking apron for C-5A, C-130, and C-141 aircraft" (from Moffant and Nichol's website). That area was later designation the "SAC Ramp" and used by bombers and tankers, rather than airlift aircraft.|
|December 16, 1985||
|1985||Simon Winchester publishes "The Sun Never Sets: Travels to the Remaining Outposts of the British Empire" (New York, Prentice Hall, 1985). Pages 27-60 are about BIOT and Diego Garcia.|
|October 27, 1986||The USS MISSOURI (BB-63) makes a port call at Diego Garcia. The crew was met with truckloads of "letters to any sailor" sent through Operation Dear Abby.|
|1986||COMPSRON TWO finishes fleshing out. It now has five new ships dedicated to the USMC's Marine Expeditionary Brigade, and 12 other ships dedicated to the US Army (including the SS AUSTRAL LIGHTNING, SS AUSTRAL RAINBOW, SS GREEN VALLEY, SS GREEN HARBOR, and MV AMERICAN CORMORANT) and US Air Force (including the SS LETICIA LYKES).|
|June 1987||USS CONSTELLATION
(CV-64) and her battle group anchor in the lagoon
and conduct air operations while at anchor. This
was the first time a west-coast ported carrier had
performed such operations. The reason she was
there was that it was the end of the fiscal quarter and
the Navy had run out of money to keep the battle group
at sea on GONZO STATION in the Arabian Sea, and since it
costs 1/2 as much to anchor ships as to sail them, it
was purely a money saving operation.
|December 4-7, 1987||The Battleship USS IOWA (BB-61) makes a port call at Diego Garcia en route to the Persian Gulf. She ties up at the dock with the USS LONG BEACH, the first nuclear powered guided missile cruiser.|
|1987||The construction projects contracted to RBRM end, completing the major constuction activities on the island.|
|1987||The Ground Electro Optical Data Sensing System (GEODSS) site is commissioned on the south end of the island. The site can track an object the size of a basketball 25,000 miles up and determine it's altitude to within six feet.|
|1988||J.M.W. Topp publishes an annotated check list of the flora of Diego Garcia, British Ocean Territory in the Atoll Research Bulletin 313. John Topp was the Brit Rep on DG, and quite the naturalist.|
|August 24, 1989||USS RANGER (CV-61) makes a Port Call at DG.|
|October 30, 1989||32 miles south of DGAR, An FA-18 Hornet from the USS MIDWAY (CV-41) 'mistakenly' drops a 500-pound bomb on the USS REEVES (CG-24). Five REEVES sailors are injured.|
|ENDLESS WAR FROM PARADISE|
|August 2, 1990||The Republic of Iraq invades the State of Kuwait.|
|August 7, 1990||The first three ships of Marine Prepositioned Ship Squadron TWO depart Diego Garcia and reach Saudi Arabia on August 15. The remaining two ships of MPS Squadron TWO departed shortly thereafter. They carried everything required for 16,500 men of the 7th Marine Expeditionary Brigade, who flew in and married up with their equipment. The 7the MEB was combat ready by August 25 - the first heavy combat unit ready for action during OPERATION DESERT STORM. This was the first use of the MPS in an actual crisis.|
|September 1990||A typhoon hits Diego Garcia and demolishes the Tent City being set up for U.S. Air Force bomber crews and support personnel during OPERATION DESERT STORM.|
|December 3, 1990||HMAS BRISBANE refuels at Diego Garcia en route to the Persian Gulf.|
|January 17, 1991||B-52Gs take off on bombing missions over Iraq on the first night of OPERATION DESERT STORM.|
|February 3, 1991||B-52G, tail number 59-2593, from 42nd Bomb Wing, Loring AFB, under command of the 4300d Bomb Wing (Provisional), experiences a catastrophic electrical system failure while returning from a bombing mission. At least five of its eight engines flame out, and the aircraft crashes into the Indian Ocean 2-3 miles north of the island. The aircrew ejects at a low altitude (between 1,000 and 200 feet above the water), and although three crewmembers eject safely, three others, Captain Jeffry J. Olson, First Lieutenant Jorge I. Arteaga, and First Lieutenant Eric D. Heeden, are killed on impact or drowned.|
|October 1991||A 200 nautical-mile Fisheries Conservation and Management Zone (FCMZ) is declared around the BIOT, including Diego Garcia to ensure sustainable management of the fisheries within this zone. Target species are tuna (yellowfin, bigeye and skipjack) and billfish (marlin and swordfish). The largest fleets operating in the region at the time and fishing out the entire area are French and Spanish purse seiners and Taiwanese and Japanese longliners. You knew it would have something to do with the French.|
|October 1994||A team from NCTS Pensacola arrives on DG and installs the hardward necessary to connect the island to the Internet. There are initially only 80 accounts, and no one has a clue how to use it.|
|1994||Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia wins the American Petroleum Institute's "Best Bulk Storage Facility in the Navy" award. The award is given by the Commander Naval Supply Systems Command to the activity that makes the most significant contributions to Navy fuel operations and the fleet support mission during the preceding calendar year.|
|October 28-30, 1995||The Research Vessel R/V KNORR lays over at Diego Garcia. The KNORR is nearing the end of a year's worth of sampling the carbon dioxide levels and currents throughout the Indian Ocean - a project for the Oakridge National Laboratory.|
|1996||Larry Grisham and his band "The Beat Daddys" perform on the island.|
|September 3, 1996||The crew of DUKE 01, from the 2nd Bomb Wing based at Diego Garcia, flies the first combat mission of a B-52H aircraft in OPERATION DESERT STRIKE against targets in Iraq. For this accomplishment, they receive the Mackay Trophy for the "most meritorious flight of the year". The Mackay Trophy is on permanent display at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.|
|1998||The warmest 'El Nino' weather pattern of record occurs, raising ocean temperatures around the island 3-5 degrees. Ninety percent of the coral reef dies.|
|June 22, 1998||The Navy Support Facility wins the "Silver Pineapple" Award for the 2nd best employee training program in the Navy.|
|December 1998||The 2nd Air Expeditionary Group conducts the OPERATION DESERT FOX bombing campaign against Iraq from Diego Garcia. The Group is composed of B-52Hs from Barksdale AFB, Louisiana, and Minot AFB, North Dakota, and KC-10s from McGuire AFB, New Jersey.|
|1999||The Pink Trumpet Tree, Tabebuia heterophylla, is identified as 'invasive' on DGAR by Whistler and Steele. So?|
|1999||Scientific Research expedition to Diego Garcia and the other atolls in the Chagos by Charles Sheppard (world-renowned reef scientist and editor of the essential scientific work about DG "The Ecology of the Chagos Archipelago" published in 1999) and John Topp (former Brit Rep and botanist).|
|July 17, 2000||Sir Sidney Kentridge, British Trial Lawyer, brings suit against the British Government in London's High Court on behalf of the islanders removed in the early 1970s claiming the removal was illegal. The hearing lasts five days.|
|November 3, 2000||London's High Court rules that the removal of the islanders in the early 1970s was illegal.|
|August 2, 2001||Rear Admiral Robert C. Chaplin, the commander of U.S. Naval Forces Japan, which commands the Naval base at Diego Garcia, issues regulations prohibiting the wear of flip-flops, tank tops, halter tops, oversized shirts, tank tops and jogging suits, with exceptions for swimming or sports. Just exactly what everyone on Diego Garcia wears off-duty. Sadly, Admiral Chaplin was to learn that there are more important things to worry about just a month and seven days later.|
|August 8, 2001||The British government designates the lagoon and east arm of the atoll as a 'Ramsar Site' (conservation of wetlands), because it is 'a particularly good example of a relatively unpolluted coral reef system in a near-natural state, of special value for maintaining the genetic and ecological diversity of the region, especially its marine life. It provides habitat for marine flora and fauna at critical stages of their biological cycles, including the threatened Hawksbill and Green Turtles, and regularly supports 20,000 or more waterbirds, including Greater frigate, Red-footed boobies, brown and lesser noddies, amongst others.'|
|September 11, 2001||ITC Gregg Harold Smallwood, USN, who served on Diego Garcia in 1995-1996, is killed when terrorists deliberately crash a hijacked 100-ton airliner into his office in the Pentagon in Washington D.C.|
|September 14, 2001||Three days after the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington D.C., the first of eight B-1Bs from the 34th Bomb Squadron (Mountain Home AFB Idaho) and the 37th Bomb Squadron (Ellsworth AFB South Dakota) and 10 B-52Hs (from Barksdale AFB Louisiana) arrive on Diego Garcia. The 28th Air Expeditionary Wing is formed, commanded by Colonel Edward A. Rice, Jr., who is promoted to Brigadier General shortly thereafter. Among aircraft deployed is B-52H 60-0001, "Memphis Belle IV".|
|September 21, 2001||COMNAVFORJAPAN (RADM Chaplin again) issues detailed security guidance concerning the release of public information about OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. This includes review of web sites to remove installation photographs, ship locations, etc. The Commander of Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, Captain Mike Lucarelli, contacts the webmaster of this site to request that be done, and I complied until the campaign in Afghanistan was complete.|
|October 7, 2001||B-52s and B-1s take off on bombing mission over Afghanistan on the first night of OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. For the next 76 days, four B-1 and five B-52 sorties are flown each day, dropping over 11,500 bombs. This equated to 10% of the 6,500 sorties flown during the war, but 65% of the bombs dropped.|
|October 8, 2001||A flight of three B-2s, led by Major Melvin Deaile, lands on Diego after completing the longest bombing mission in history - 44 hours - from Whiteman AFB in Missouri to targets in Afghanistan followed by a recovery at Diego. Each aircraft dropped 16 2,000-pound GPS guided bombs on Taliban positions. Upon reaching Diego the crews left the engines running, and prepositioned crews took over and flew the airplanes home to Missouri, a 30 hour flight. From October 8 - 11, a total of 12 B-2 missions are flown. Major Deaile was flying "SPIRIT OF AMERICA" on that first mission, and in July 2002 he was named Air Force Exceptional Pilot of the Year by the Chief of Staff for his exploit.|
|October 21-23, 2001||The Deputy Commander for Operations of USAF's Air Combat Command, Major General 'Howie' Chandler, visits the island. He arrives and departs piloting B-52H 60-0060, a 41-year old bomber, named "IRON BUTTERFLY".|
|October 22, 2001||The US Navy (in it's role as enforcer of US/UK agreements on the island) informs the US Air Force that it must ship home at least one member of any 'families' deployed with the 28th AEW. The US/UK agreement prohibits married couples to be simultaneously assigned to Diego Garcia. At the time there was 'at least' one such couple fighting the war together, with others en route. This decision ensures the long standing policy that love between husband and wife will not be tolerated on Dodge, and only adulterous sex is conducted on the island.|
|November 9, 2001||The Japanese government agrees to provide fuel and food to Diego Garcia by sea lift, in support of the war on terrorism.|
|November 13, 2001||
|Novermber 27 & 28,
|The Rock and Roll band "America" performs for the sailors and airmen on Diego Garcia. They are presented with an American Flag that was flown on a combat mission over Afghanistan on November 15. On December 13, the band presents the flag to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio, where it is on display.|
|November 2001||Troop 7, C Company, 40 Commando, Royal Marines, lounges about Diego Garcia before entering combat in Afghanistan.|
|December 12, 2001||ICECUBE 44, a B-1B named "LIVE FREE OR DIE", takes off from Diego and experiences massive electrical and flight control failure. The four crewmen eject from the crippled aircraft, and are rescued by the USS RUSSELL.|
|December 20, 2001||Michael Tigar, American Trial Lawyer, brings suit in the US District Court in Washington D.C. by Olivier Bancoult, 290 Cassis Road, Port Louis, Mauritius; Terese Mein, Hermitage, Victoria, Mahe, Seychelles; Marie Isabelle France-Charlot, 5 Rue Koenig, Roche-Bois, Port Louis, Mauritius; The Chagos Refugee Group, (same address as Bancoult); and The Chagos Social Committee, (same address as Terese Mein), on their own behalf, and on behalf of its their members and others so situated, against Robert S. Mcnamara, 700 New Hampshire Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20037; Donald H. Rumsfeld, 1000 Defense Pentagon, Washington, DC 20301-1000; Admiral Thomas Moorer, 9707 Old Georgetown Rd., Bethesda, MD 20814; Melvin R. Laird, 16667 Bobcat Court, Fort Myers, FL 33908; James R. Schlesinger; 3601 26th Street N., Arlington, VA 22207; George T. Churchill, 6400 Olmi Landrith Drive, Alexandria, VA 22307; Admiral James L. Holloway, III, 1694 Epping Farms Lane, Annapolis, MD 21410; Eric D. Newsom, 11425 Great Meadow Dr., Reston, VA 20191-3607; The United States of America, c/o United States Attorney General John Ashcroft, 950 Pennsylvania Ave., N.W., Washington, DC 20530; Halliburton Corporation, 3600 Lincoln Plaza, 500 North Akard, Dallas, TX 75201; and De Chazal Du Mee, 1819 H. Street, N.W. Suite 600, Washington, DC 20006 for "Forced Relocation, Torture, Racial Discrimination, Cruel, Inhuman, Degrading Treatment, Genocide, Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress, Negligence, and Trespass". Case 01-2619. The plaintiffs are descendants of the workers on the islands removed in 1972, and ask for a lot of stuff, but the bottom line is that they want at least $2,000,000 per person, and claim there are 5,000 islanders (this means $10,000,000,000.00 - ten billion dollars). The suit is expected to take years, or even decades, to conclude.|
|2001||US Navy P-3 Squadron VP-40 deploys from Whidby Island NAS, Washington, to Diego Garcia for OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM. Not one Al Qaida submarine gets through their patrols.|
|2001||Dr. Charles Sheppard leads another biological expedition to Deigo and the rest of the islands.|
|October 18, 2002||The US Secretary of the Navy awards Naval Support Facility the Meritorious Unit Citation for the period September 11 2001 - May 31 2002 for exemplary service during OPERATION ENDURING FREEDOM.|
||Two portable climate-controlled shelters for B-2
bombers are erected on the parking apron by American
|December 2, 2002||An earthquake measuring 4.6 on the Richter Scale shakes up the island at 12:21 a.m. As usual, island residents are mostly passed out drunk that time of night, and miss the excitement.|
|December 11, 2002||The Spanish Navy boarded the unflagged North Korean freighter SO SAN 650 miles east of the Horn of Africa. On board the ship were 15 Scud missiles and warheads en route to Yemen from North Korea. The missiles and warheads, along with a quantity of chemicals, were found hidden under a cargo of cement, and the ship was handed over to the US Navy, which reportedly escorted the SO SAN to Diego Garcia.|
|December 24, 2002||American comedian Drew Cary arrives for a USO show for the troops on the island, Bob Hope being unable to attend this year.|
|February 8, 2003||The hospital ship USNS COMFORT T-AH 20, docked at Diego Garcia to allow her crew liberty. She previously had been anchored in the lagoon since February 3. She sailed from Diego on February 27 and arrived in the Persian Gulf on March 4 and stayed for the duration of the major combat opertions during OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM, departing the Gulf on May 10.|
|March 21, 2003||At least 3 B-2 Bombers launch from Diego Garcia to bomb Baghdad during OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM. B-2s operating from DG include 98-21071 SPIRIT OF MISSISSIPPI, 98-90129 SPIRIT OF GEORGIA, 99-31085 SPIRIT OF FLORIDA, and 99-31087 SPIRIT OF PENNSYLVANIA.|
|April 1, 2003||USAF Captain Jennifer Wilson of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron lands her B-2 Bomber on Diego Garcia after becoming the first female B-2 crewmember to fly a combat mission.|
||Two additional B-2 shelters are constructed
following the completion of suitable concrete
|May - Sept. 2003||Captain Fatty Goodlander (the "Salt Stained Sea Gypsy" - noted yachtsman and author) and his wife Carolyn drop the anchor of the 38 foot yacht WILD CARD at Beddam Island in the Chagos, revel in the pristine, uninhabited (not by choice) environment, live off the land and sea, and bitch about the bombers flying overhead on their way to Iraq. I guess it's nice to afford a boat and have no responsibilities for the problems of the world. Is Goodlander a French name?|
|September 5, 2003||The US Navy's Public Works Department asks PPDRDG citizens to report any sightings of the Variable Agana Lizard seen at a distance of more than 500 meters of the Beach House. The lizard reportedly eats insects, and spread of the lizard may result in the wholesale decimation of biting flies, stinging beetles, mosquitos, and other valuable six-legged species.|
|September 7, 2003||The US Navy formally opens the new $9 million Aircraft Intermediate Maintenance facility. The project took two years to build.|
|HMS TRIUMPH, a fast-attack sub, pulls a port call at DG.|
|September 2003||B-1Bs replace B-52s in the 40th AEW to continue the war on terroism.|
|October 9, 2003||The British High Court of Justice, Queen's Bench Division, rules that the Chagossians had been compensated adequately for their expulsion in 1971, and denied additional compensation. The Court ruled that the resettlement assistance they have been given over a number of years, amounting to £14.5m ($25m) in today's terms, had settled those claims.|
|December 2003||The Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) deactivates it's C-130 detachment, which has been at Diego since 2001.|
|February 9, 2004||Pete Davis and Todd Johnson from the Cecil H. and Ida M. Green Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics (part of Scripps Institute at University of California at San Diego) completed installation of the 40th IDA (Interntional Deployment of Accelerometers) in the IRIS Global Seismographic Network. This imcluded construction of a concrete "seismic vault" near the GEODSS site. The seismic sensors rest on a central pier, which is directly attached to the coral that underlies the vault so that the instruments can best record the shaking caused as seismic waves travel through the earth. The first earthquake recorded by the instruments was an Mw = 6.7 quake that occurred 6000 km away in Indonesia.|
|March 20, 2004||
|May 2004||According to the leftist British Newspaper "The Guardian", the US is holding "rendition" prisoners on Diego Garcia. According to a Jan 11, 2007 story, the British government "has always denied allowing the Americans to use British soil for torture and abuse, but ... denials are difficult to square with the words of US army general Barry McCaffrey, who had recently retired from running Southcom, the military command that oversees Guantánamo. He was asked in May 2004 where the thousands of ghost prisoners were being held. 'You know, Bagram Air Field, Diego Garcia, Guantánamo, 16 camps throughout Iraq,' he replied.|
|July 7, 2004||Member of Parliament Tom Brake (Liberal Democrat) claims the BIOT could be being used to interrogate terror suspects in a US facility known as "Camp Justice". US Air Force personnel, force to live in the tent city that comprises Camp Justice, hope that MP Brake's attention will get the place shut down soon, "so we can live in trailers or something," a resident who requested his name be withheld has said. "Its torture here!"|
|July 22, 2004||Based on a feasibility study carried out in 2002 that found that life on the outer islands would be "precarious" and would need "costly" support from the government, which it is not prepared to give, the British Goverment issues Orders in Council which state that Chagossians may not permanently return to the Chagos. The liberal (red/green) press claims the US pressured the Blair government to issue the orders.|
|September 28, 2004||Two sailors from Gloucestershire England were rescued from their sinking yacht, LATITUDE, 1,056 miles west of Cocos Island. Robert Jones, 45, and Terence Dwight, 57, were on a trip to bring a new 30-foot yacht back to the UK when trouble hit the first leg of the journey between Darwin and Mauritius. They activated the emergency beacons when their yacht lost its rudder in heavy seas and started taking in water. A US Navy P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft based at Diego Garcia flew overhead until the men were picked up in 11-foot seas by the Panamanian-registered container ship MSC Maria. The yacht was abandoned after the rescue.|
|December 21, 2004||The United States District Court in Washington D.C., dismisses the lawsuit filed on December 20, 2001 (3 years before).|
|December 26, 2004||Official US Navy Dec 26, 2004 Tsunami News Release: Diego Garcia Personnel Safe, Facilities Intact Following Tsunami. Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory – Navy personnel on board Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean are safe following the earthquake and subsequent tsunami that had devastating effects on Southeast Asia. Facilities and operations were not affected. Favorable ocean topography minimized the tsunami’s impact on the atoll. Diego Garcia is part of the Chagos Archipelago, situated on the southernmost part of the Chagos-Laccadive Ridge. To the east lies the Chagos Trench, a 400 mile long, underwater canyon that ranges in depth from less than 1,00 meters below the surface to depths that plunge to over 5,000 meters. It is one of the deepest regions of the Indian Ocean. Diego Garcia is located to the west of Chagos Trench, which runs north and south. The depth of the Chagos Trench and grade to the shores does not allow for tsunamis to build before passing the atoll. The result of the earthquake was seen as a tidal surge estimated at six feet.|
|January 10, 2005
||TrasAtlantic Lines MV BAFFIN STRAIGHT begins a monthly
cargo resupply transit between Singapore and Diego
Garcia. She is chartered to carry 250 containers
each way, containing more than 200,000 tons of cargo to
DG each year. The charter is for $12,550 per day
of operation (essentially every day). The route
had previously been serviced by Sealift Inc.'s MV SAGAMORE.
|May 29, 2005||Bancoult and his US Lawyers appeal the 21 Dec 04 dismissal of the lawsuit filed in Dec 01 to the US Court of Appeals.|
|September 30, 2005||The shore activity US Naval Security Group Detachment (NAVSECGRU DET) Diego Garcia, is disestablished (shut down) by the Chief of Naval Operations as part of the Navy's plan to divest NAVSECGRU of remote, legacy intelligence missions. The CNO directed that essential operations at DG would be continued with contractor support after the disestablishment. See OPNAV NOTICE 5450, 6 September 2005.|
|Winter, 2005||Bruce P. Bookout, the contractor site manager for the USAF GEODSS facility, publishes an article critical of DoD and the Royal Navy for causing increased light polution affecting his site since 2001. The article, in the International Dark Skies Association, Newsletter No. 64, also claims this light distrubs migrating birds and nesting seal turtles.|
|February 21, 2006||Dr. Charles Sheppard "bumps into" a large hammerhead shark in 20m of water off the north shore of Diego Garcia. Dr. Sheppard is in the Chagos on another major biological survey of the archepelago.|
|March 13, 2006||Fast Food arrives with the opening of "Mean Gene's Burgers". So much for Diego Burger.|
|March 24, 2006||The island newspaper "The Tropical Times" publishes the results of a study stating that regular exercise improves your sex life. The USN and USAF had been pushing for better physical fitness for all assigned personnel for a long time. It should be noted that ANY sexual contact with ANY body else on the island is a court-martial offense. It was not reported how many male personnel are admitted to the clinic with 3rd degree friction burns on both hands.|
|March 2006||The US Air Force loads 3,500 M-117 bombs on a merchant ship under contract to the US Navy for return to the United States, to make room for new bombs in the weapons storage facility.|
|April 10, 2006||
|April 21, 2006||The US Court of Appeals, D.C. Circuit, dismisses the lawsuit filed by Bancoult in Dec 01.|
|May 5, 2006||SEABEES from NMCB 4 complete the reconstruction of the Marina, which was started by NMCB 74 in 2005. This new Marina replaces the old trailer and is located next to the DGYC.|
|May 12, 2006||The British High Court (Lord Justice Hooper and Mr Justice Cresswell) in London, in its 2nd review of the Chagossian question, reverses the Jul 04 "Orders in Council" of the government, and states that the Chagossians may return to the Chagos, except Diego Garcia. After the hearing, Olivier Bancoult, the leader of the Chagossians, delivered a letter to No 10 calling on the Prime Minister to honour the decision of the court and allow his people to go home.|
|May 13, 2006||
|June 6, 2006||
Tom Lawson finally sells a Diego Garcia "Thong" from his Cafe Press "Diego Garcia Store"! Please note, I don't get any revenue from this site or referrals to Tom's store, so, come on folks! Buy more thongs (with a clean conscience)!
|July 23, 2006||Colonel Scott Vander Hamm, 40AEW Commander, renames "CAMP JUSTICE", the tent city in which USAF personnel have lived since 2001. Following a 2-month re-naming contest, in which 140 suggestions were submitted by camp residents, none were considered satisfactory, and Colonel Vander Hamm and his senior staff chose "THUNDER COVE", which they copied from the Hulk Hogan TV Show of the same name.|
|July 28, 2006||The
USN completes a "WAVE Personnel Alerting System" to
announce items of urgent interest to personnel.
This is the first system constructed since the British
"Provisions Alarm" in WWII. Here is the real
wording (and pretty close formatting) of the WWII
equivalent of "Giant Voice". Many thanks to
Steve Forsberg for providing this. No doubt the 21st
Century USN system is much more complicated...
PROVISIONAL ALARM SCHEME
1. In the event of an impending enemy attack the alarm will be sounded by a series of short “buzzes” on the electric horns installed in the vicinity of the Old Signal Stores and the Qm stores.
2. The alarm when sounded will be taken up by all who hear it and passed on by means of short blasts on their whistles.
3. On the sounding of the alarm, battle posns will be manned in accordance with D.G., O.O.No.1 of date.
4. There will be daily practice consisting of one long “buzz”. This is for the purpose of ensuring that the horn is in good working condition. There will be no change in the normal routine on the sounding of the practice alarm.
|August 16, 2006||According to the August
25, 2006, issue of "The Air Force Times", the USAF ended
deployment of bombers supporting OPERATION ENDURING
FREEDOM at Diego Garcia on August 16, moving the
remaining B-1 operations to Al Udeid Air Base,
Qatar. The change puts the bombers "thousands" of
miles closer to Afghanistan, reducing flight times and
aerial tanker support, thus saving $132 million
annually. A "small caretaker group" of
Airmen remains on the island to maintain facilities in a
state of readiness for future deployments.
The bomber deployments began on September 14, 2001, three days after the attacks of 9-11. Bomber operations from Diego Garcia lasted four years and 11 months, one year and three months longer than the U.S. was in WWII. As late as August 14, 2006, the USAF was reporting Diego Garcia based sorties dropping ordnance on enemy positions in Afghanistan.
|BACK TO THE OLD GRIND|
|August 25, 2006||According to this week's edition of "The Tropical Times", the Naval Support Facility opens all Rest Rooms (toilets/heads/latrines, etc.) to "All Hands", ending 35 years of separate Officer and Enlisted rest room facilities.|
|October 13, 2006||The Big Iron Trading Company ship MV IRON BUTTERFLY makes the first of three trips to Diego Garcia to salvage ten million pounds of scrap metal left over from the US and allied military use of the island. British environmental regulations require removal of all such waste products from the island. Previously the waste material was shipped to Ft. Lewis in Washington State, all costs paid for by the government. Big Iron paid $115,000.00 to salvage the scrap.|
|January 16, 2007||The U.S. Supreme Court turned down the appeal of the Chagossians to receive compensation from the US governement. This was the lawsuit filed by Michael Tigar on behalf of Bancoult et al in December 2001 in which it was claimed that the US had committed genocide on the Chagossians.|
|January 24, 2007||Commander Naval Forces Japan, Rear Admiral James Kelly, Presented The DG Galley Team With The Captain Edward F. Naye Four-Star Award In Recognition Of Their Achievements. The Four-Star Award Represents A Step-Up From Last Year, When The Galley Received Three Stars. This was the galley's first Four-Star Accreditation.|
|February 2007||The British Chief of Police, Royal Police Officer (ROPO) 1 receives delivery of a new RADAR gun and warns all vehicle drivers to begin obeying the speed limits on island roads, or they will receive a traffic citation, to be adjudicated by the BRIT REP (who is also the island's Justice of the Peace) with fines payable to the court.|
|February 21, 2007||
The LOS ANGELES-Class submarine USS BOISE made a port call at DG. Typically, this class of submarine carries 134 crew members.
|February22, 2007||Air Vice-Marshall Andrew Walton visited the island. Walton is the Deputy Chief of Joint Operations of the Permanent Joint Headquarters for the United Kingdom (DCJOPJHUK?). He did not arrive on the USS BOISE.|
|April 20, 2007||According to the USAF, moving bomber operations from Diego Garcia on Aug. 16, 2006 has saved $362,000 a day. The officers who proposed the move were awarded the Air Force Productivity Excellence Award. They are Col. Dale Parsons of the 717th Test Squadron at Arnold Air Force Base, Tenn., Lt. Col. Mark Lane from the 609th Combat Plans Squadron at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., and Maj. John A. Dunlap, with the 340th Weapons Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, LA. They figured out that 14-hour round trip missions from DG to Iraq or Afghanistan were "inefficient". Together, they created a plan to relocate the B-1s and KC-135s to Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar and other air fields in the Persian Gulf region. Lt. Gen. Roger A. Brady, Air Force deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, presented plaques to the winners. [Editor's observations: 1) Parsons, Lane and Dunlap are probably the most popular guys in the AF, having moved a thousand people from paradise to the world's most awful desert. 2) Why did it take almost 5 years to 'discover' this 'efficiency', and why was it that deployed field graders, instead of the Air Staff, figured it out?|
|May 18, 2007||The war from Diego Garcia is definitely over - the base newspaper is filled with peacetime propaganda and bureaucratic minutia. The big news is that 1) The Naval Support Facility Executive Officer reminds island residents that swimming and snorkeling on the ocean side is in violation of DGREGCOORDINST 1710.17C, paragraph 9.g., a lawful order, and 2) The bus schedule to the Plantation is reduced from Saturday and Sunday to just Sunday, due to a lack of participants.|
|May 23, 2007||The British High Court ruled in favor of the Chagossians' appeal to return to the Chagos. This is the highest court in the UK. The government could appeal to the House of Lords, which functions in the UK as a supreme court.|
|July 1, 2007||The British Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London increases fines for various driving offenses on Diego Garcia, under the Road Traffic Ordinance, basically doubling the fines. Driving through a STOP sign will now cost the offender $400.00. It's not enough that they go through your bags when you arrive. Now they go through your wallet before you can leave! Traffic laws in the BIOT are identical (as are the fines) to those in London.|
|July 22, 2007||
On the left, the cover of the NSF weekly newspaper "The Tropical Times".
A Tropical Storm, nicknamed "Typhoon Charlie" by the METOC weathermen, hits Diego Garcia. Winds exceeded 60 knots, and 10.69 inches of rain fell (twice the July average of 5.8 inches for the whole month), flooding low-lying areas, including the Point Marianne Cemetary. The storm blew down many Ironwood trees (Casuarinas equisitefolia), some of which blocked the primary road "DG 1". These trees have a shallow root system on DG because there is no top-soil. No one was injured during the storm.
|July 25, 2007||The British government appeals to the House of Lords for permission to challenge the High Court ruling of May 23, 2007.|
|September 4, 2007||
display.asp?story_id=31629. Don't forget to check out the video link as well.
|November 6, 2007||
The French Return after 193 years! The FS NIVOSE, a "frégate de surveillance" (light monitoring frigate) of the French Marine Nationale (Navy) makes a port call at Diego Garcia.
|November 2007||The House of Lords agree to hear the UK Government's appeal of the May 23, 2007 High Court ruling concerning the return of the Chagossians to the Chagos Archipelago, provided the UK Government pays all court costs. The Government agrees to do so.|
|November 27, 2007||For the first time "in years" the Allies conduct an aerial survey of Diego Garcia using a helicopter from the HMAS ANZAC. The survey was conducted at the request of British Forces to assess storm damage from earlier in the year.|
|February 19, 2008||British Foreign Minister David Milibrand disclosed in Parliament that two flights, each carrying a single terrorist suspect, had landed at Diego Garcia previously. CIA Director General Michael Hayden issued a statement claiming that the US government discovered the information and then brought it to the attention of the UK, and said that the US was in the wrong to use DG as a stopover on "rendetion" flights.|
|March 2008||Chagossian stone masons are allowed to fix up the graveyards in Peros Banos and Salomon islands in the NW Chagos. They are supported from the BIOT fisheries vessel PACIFIC MARLIN. A Greenpeace sailboat, the MUSICHANA of the "People's Navy" arrives at Ille du Coin (in Perhos Banos) on March 2, and finds the graveyard cleared of undergrowth and some headstones repaired, and a concrete cross erected. They report "the houses and everything else is in total ruin and it is impossible to walk anywhere - through the site of the old village and down to the graveyard for example (or anywhere come to that) - you have to go along the beach. The mosquitos are pretty agressive too, and the coconut crabs are just downright frightening." On March 3, the entire operation moved to Ille Boddam in Salomon atoll, and they find the yachties have kept some trackways to the old village clear, but that the village is "all tumbled down and overgrown."|
|March 8-24, 2008||The MUSICHANA with Greenpeace human rights activists and Quakers Jon Castle (official Captain of the MUSICHANA) and Pete Bouquet aboard, is intercepted by the BIOT police inside the "3-mile limit" at Diego Garcia on March 8. They refused to leave, and were escorted to the Small Boat Basin, and subsequently arrested. On March 13, the local magistrate (the Brit Rep), fined Castle 3,000 pounds and gave him a 6 month suspended sentence. Refusing to pay the fine charged, the MUSICHANA is confiscated, and Castle and Bouquet are deported to Singapore on March 22, and eventually return to the UK (on March 24) where they intend to file an appeal.|
|April 2008||Chagossians again visit Diego Garcia, as well as Perhos Banos and Salomon islands in the NW Chagos.|
||The UK sets up the world's
largest Marine Protected Area, consisting of the Chagos
Archipelago and adjacent seas - an area about the size
of France. Diego Garcia and it's territorial
waters (out to 3 nautical miles) is physically located
inside the MPA, but is not part of the MPA.
|January 26, 2011||
LONDON: At 3:30 p.m., Allen Vincatassin was sworn
in as the President of the first Provisional Government
of Diego Garcia and the Chagos Islands, in exile, in a
special ceremony in the presence of the Mayor of
Crawley, the Mayoress, politicians, Laura Moffatt
(former MP for Crawley), Council representatives, local
& national organisations, and members of the
community, after winning a ballot of support which was
conducted by the Electoral Reform Services in December
2010 in Crawley. Mr Selmour Cherry was elected as Vice
April 29, 2011
Windsor and Kate Middleton get married in
London. The Brit Party and associated
Anglophyles of Diego Garcia celebrate by getting
totally wasted at the Brit Club. The band "7
DEGREES SOUTH" provides musical entertainment.
||In a press release
announcing the Change of Command for Marine
Prepositioning Squadron Two, Military Sealift Command
listed the composition of MPS 2 as:
USNS SGT WILLIAM R. BUTTON (Flagship)
USNS SGT MATEJ KOCAK
USNS GYSGT FRED W. STOCKHAM
MV SSG EDWARD A. CARTER, JR.
MV CAPT STEVEN L. BENNETT
MV LTC U.D. PAGE
The outgoing Commander is CAPT Wesley Brown. Incoming is CAPT Charles "Gene" Emmert.
The last domesticated cat on the island passes away. From a July 5 communication from a current member of Detachment 1, 21 Space Operations Squadron (the GPS site), which had sheltered the cat from capture and euthenasia for "about 20 years": "We have not seen her for four days now, and the last time we saw her she could barely walk and couldn't even hold her head up. We are pretty sure she wandered off into the woods and passed away.... )o
Unofficial reports are that there are "several" feral cats remaining on the atoll, but they live such a distance from each other that they apparently are unable to mate, as no kittens have been observed for "several years".
7 September 2012
Diego Garcia experienced a 5.2 magnitude earthquake centered just 36 miles northwest of the atoll. The entire DG Yacht Club membership boarded the day sailors, and declared an Earthquake Party. Here is the recipe of the "DG Tremor Cocktail" specially concocted for this earthshaking event:
one yourself and celebrate with their
A Greenpeace inflatable pulls up
along side an illegal Sri Lankan fishing boat,
IMUL-A-0352KLT, 24th October 2012, Chagos, Indian
Ocean. Greenpeace found two illegal Sri Lankan
fishing boats inside the Chagos marine reserve on
Wednesday and has called on the UK government to
enforce protection of this Indian Ocean reserve
from pirate fishing. The Greenpeace flagship
Rainbow Warrior is currently transiting from
Mauritius to the Maldives as part of its Indian
Ocean expedition and found in total three fishing
boats deep within the Chagos marine protected
area, established by the UK government in
2010. Many thank to Paul Hilton at
Greenpeace for use of the photo and
Licay, of Santa Clara, CA, an employee of G4S Parsons
Pacific LLC, was killed by a 10-foot bull shark in
knee-deep water, resulting in the first recorded death
by shark in the waters of Diego Garcia. Fernando
had waded out into the water to take a photo of his
friends lined up on the shore, when the shark bit him
twice and severed an artery. Despite attempts to
save him, he died quickly from blood loss. Despite
newspaper reports claiming the shark disappeared after
the attack, it cruised up and down the beach for
hours. The British, who own the archipelago,
refused to permit US personnel shooting the shark,
saying some sort of bullshit about how the killing was
"just nature's way".
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