So The American Fleet Had to Contend With A Line Of Fire
It was soon time to load the Drum with LNG and pass all equipment to the army. The Drum was a monster and overhung on all four sides the largest trailer that a Kenworth truck could pull. Just before noon a fleet of army trucks arrived to take over the convoy headed by the Kenworth truck and its deadly load of gas and the Kenworth was trailed by a host of other Kenworths and assorted vehicles carrying the VAM Tubing and the igniters (formerly known as arc welding sets). Right on the stroke of 1 pm the Leading army vehicles and its deadly convoy moved, at a walking pace, past the main Mess Hall were the majority of Sirte Employees were enjoying a break and having camel meat as a main course.
There was a valve on the top radius of the Drum which served to ensure that the drum was not over-pressured but this valve had a very low, atmospheric pressure almost, so the warming LNG gas was turning from liquid to gas as the Drum took heat from the desert Sun in spite of the insulation placed all over it. The gas could be seen billowing out from the drum. There was basically an armed bomb passing the Mess Hall.
It was in the evening when the Mess Hall was, again, full of Sirte employees that the Kenworth Truck reappeared on its own, without the army and its trailing convoy, travelling back to its point of origin in the LNG Plant. The word was the driver had convinced the army that the truck was unsafe to drive. For those who have driven on the Tripoli to Benghazi Road his view will be very understandable.
Gaddafi was not amused and many Senior Libyan staff were running about clucking but without going forward. However, someone put forward the idea of sacrificing an old Nitrogen Carrier trailer, not redundant but, to save heads rolling, a worthwhile sacrifice
The solution to use the old Nitrogen trailer was carried unanimously by the morning joint meeting of the operators and maintenance personnel and soon the Nitrogen Carrier trailer joined the convoy and the whole convoy disappeared into the desert for trials never to be seen again, to be heard of again, to be spoken of again, by any of those Libyans involved, except maybe my old boss who always knew the outcome would not be pleasant news to Gaddafi.
It has to be remembered that the Libyans lived under a system of local “committees” in which each area of their lives was snooped on and reported upon. Depending on the level of threat, of the views and actions by individuals to Gaddafi, the reports were acted upon. Accordingly, each Libyan lived in a sense of fear. It beggars belief that the Libyan Oil and Gas industries generated huge profits that the people did not see. Tremendous amounts of the money , which should have gone to improve the Libyans standard of living, was spent, by Gaddafi, on armaments. I have witnessed hundreds of new , but mothballed, Russian built jet fighters lined up at Benghazi Airport. However, Gaddafi was so paranoid that he would not have Libyans trained the fly the jets as he feared they would turn on him. He hired, instead, Pakistani pilots who he paid handsomely. He also had hundreds of tracked tanks which I witness on the road to Chad.
Gaddafi spent a lot of the Libyan peoples money on projects which he hoped would raise his own profile. I flew regularly from Tripoli to Benghazi and reverse, across the 500 miles of desert. On one such flight the plane flew over, at about an altitude of 8,000 metres, a major construction in the desert. From that altitude the construction appeared to be a rectangle, of dimensions twice that of a football field. The rectangular shaped perimeter had what appeared to be a concrete surface twice as wide as a road. From each corner of the rectangle there was a concrete surface of similar dimension which lead to a large concrete circular pad at the centre of the rectangle. The overall impression was that it was a rocket launch pad. Another potential threat to the American Fleet and Gaddafi’s enemies. ( END )