National Geographic : 1998 Jun
Remember the Maine? Concerning the cause of the explosion, why didn't survivors report any vertical uplifting of the ship? A mine exploding underneath would have lifted it. If there had been an external explosion, why wasn't there a large fish kill? Why wasn't debris from the mine recovered? And is it reasonable to believe such an act could be concealed for a century? WILLIAM G. POHNAN, JR. Streamwood, Illinois As one of the authors of Appendix A of Admiral Rickover's book on the Maine, I wish to point out a critical piece of evidence, largely ignored. The fact that a portion of the outer bottom (Section 1) fold ed inward is considered by some to be evidence of a mine explosion. But it is generally agreed that the internal explosion that destroyed the Maine began in the six-inch reserve magazine. The inner bottom plating and framing under that magazine were ex tremely damaged, and some of that damaged struc ture was found within the fold of Section 1,proof that the framing was damaged before Section 1 folded inward. The explosion had to start within the ship. ROBERT S. PRICE Burtonsville, Maryland Australia by Bike, Part Two As a geologist I worked on oil and gas field projects on the northwest shelf of Australia for over four years. Roff Smith writes about "the billion cubic feet of natural gas under the Timor Sea." The billion should read trillion. In fact, the entire shelf from Darwin to offshore Karratha holds reserves in the tens of trillions of cubic feet of gas; it is liquefied and shipped to Asia for electrical-power generation. PETE CHIMNEY Livermore, California Like so many of my fellow Australians, most of whom live in crowded coastal cities sipping cappuc cinos, I have had little experience in the outback. I've been to Belgium and Boston more times than I've been bush. Smith's remarkable journey almost inspires me to do the same. IZZY PERKO Sydney, New South Wales Letters for FORUM should be sent to National Geographic Magazine, Box 98198, Washington, D.C .20090-8198, or by fax to 202-828-5460, or via the Internet to ngsforum@ nationalgeographic.com.Include name, address, and day time telephone. Letters may be edited for clarity and space.