Mankins and Fletcher of O.B.’s electro-reggae duo Trans_Conduit go back to war with their song “Black Line.”
Based in Ocean Beach, electronic reggae band Trans_Conduit is fronted by Osprey Recording studio and label owner Kevin Mankins, alongside Cape May Sound operator Ed Fletcher (Cubensis, Electric Waste Band).
An experience from Mankins’s service in the U.S. Navy from 2002 through 2011 inspired a new single, “Black Line,” named for the geographical boundary near the Persian Gulf coastline that his ship patrolled as part of the ongoing effort to keep nuclear materials out of Iran.
“A lot of people have made a great deal of effort per the current and former president’s request to keep uranium out of the hands of the Ayatollah, the religious dictator of Iran,” he says, “in order to prevent the nation from getting nuclear arms, or weapons of mass destruction.”
Iran’s controversial ballistic missile tests last month happened to coincide with the single’s release. Recalling his own nautical confrontation while patrolling the Black Line aboard the U.S.S. Port Royal in January 2008, he says, “After radar picked up an unusual group of small contacts that had yet to be identified, I was called to take my post as the mount captain with two other gunners…I was the first to spot the boats with my binoculars. The IRGCN [Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy] came from the horizon right at us.”
The Port Royal immediately transmitted a message identifying the ship as a U.S.S. Coalition warship transiting in accordance with international law, intending no harm.
“They came at us anyway. At this point, they were right in front of us, and I was able to identify their weapons and report them. They began to surround us. Two vessels cut in front of us and dropped large Styrofoam packages in the water. Immediately after, we heard over the radio a voice say, ‘We come at you, we blow you up.’” Mankins’s superiors denied his radio requests to “cover down,” or point weapons at IRGCN vessels.“We were even playing prerecorded messages in their own language over the loudspeakers. We swerved around the packages. I asked permission to fire a pencil flare, but once again I was denied by my chain of command. I followed orders, and to this day I am thankful. One, that there were no bombs, and two, that the situation did not escalate. Otherwise, the world would be a very different place.”