Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Fair Winds And Following Seas

It's been almost 10 years, but it's time for me to say "farewell" to The Stupid Shall Be Punished and hang up my blogger's hat. Basically, I've run out of UNCLAS sea stories. Thanks to all the readers and commenters who have made TSSBP the great place it's been for Submariners to hang out, argue, and tell sea stories over the last decade. I think that communities like this are important, and I hope someone else picks up the baton and runs with it.

I'll probably post again if there's some "lead story in the news" type of submarine story, or if I ever finish the short story I've been thinking about writing for the last 12 years, or if I just need a convenient parking spot for some long-form political essay I feel I need to write, but otherwise I think this will be it. Thanks for reading all my sea stories over the years, and contributing your own.

As all Submariners know, and non-Submariners have such difficulty understanding, the brotherhood of submarining is truly unique. In no other field of endeavor do men have to place such trust in one another at all times to keep one another safe. This creates a bond that years and distance cannot dim. I often feel that I probably have more in common with non-American Submariners than I do with regular people in my hometown. The experiences we share -- the ones we can't share with anyone else outside the fraternity -- are what make us so different. While other military organizations share something similar, we are the only group -- outside of maybe astronauts -- who exist continually surrounded by an environment that can kill us in an instant if someone makes a mistake, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, when out at sea. Submariners must trust their shipmates, and their ships, literally with our lives. We each leave something of ourselves behind on each submarine on which we serve, from which each boat forms it's own soul. Submarines are truly alive with the blood, sweat, and tears of every person who has served on her.

"They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters; These see the works of the Lord, and his wonders in the deep." -- Psalms 107:23-24

Going deep...

Saturday, March 29, 2014

Submarine Force Loses Two, Much Too Soon

Yesterday marked the formal decommissioning of USS Miami (SSN 755), destroyed by an arsonist in 2012.
Past and present crew members, their families and other invited guests attended the event.
"Admiral, the watch is secured," reported Miami's skipper Cmdr. Rolf Spelker to Submarine Group 2 commander Rear Adm. Ken Perry, marking the end of the ship's nearly 24-year journey...
...During more than a dozen deployments over the past two decades, Miami fully employed her capabilities while operating in maritime regions near North America, Europe, Africa and the Middle East.
Miami was America's first nuclear-powered submarine to transit the Suez Canal, an honor earned during her second deployment in 1994.
In the late 1990s, Miami launched Tomahawk cruise missile strikes during Operation Desert Fox in Iraq and Operation Allied Force in Kosovo. She earned the nickname "Big Gun" after becoming the first submarine since World War II to fire ordnance during combat operations in two different theaters.
On a more unexpected and therefore tragic note, CDR Barry R. Rodrigues, former XO of USS Connecticut (SSN 22) and recent CO of USS Wyoming (SSBN 742)(Blue), passed away last Saturday. The family has asked that, in lieu of flowers, In Memoriam donations be made to the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation.

Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

International Submarine Open Thread

While I'm mourning the booting of my beloved Jaywalkshawks from the Tournament, I'll post an open thread for whatever you guys want to talk about, with a couple of international submarine news items:

1) HMS Tireless (S88) was denied permission by the UAE to enter port for a planned port visit/crew swap in Dubai, waiting around for a week before heading off to Goa. Many family members, who had come to visit, were understandably disappointed. No reason was given. Have you ever had family members waiting for you for a port visit that was cancelled?

2) Ukrainian Navy submarine Zaporizhzhia (U-01) was forcefully taken by Russian forces on Saturday and incorporated into the Russian Navy. I know that Eastern Europeans do things differently, but I just can't understand the concept of letting one's ship be taken by an opposing force. I'm sure they had orders from higher authority to not provide any resistance, but still...

Bell-ringer 1500 24 Mar: Corrected a typo caused by my distraught state of mind after Kansas' loss; thanks to the commenter for pointing it out.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

USS Connecticut XO Relieved

From the Navy website:
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- The executive officer of the Bremerton, Wash.-based fast attack submarine USS Connecticut (SSN 22) was relieved of his duties March 8 due to a loss of confidence in his ability to serve as executive officer.
Lt. Cmdr. Brett J. Sterneckert was removed from his position by Rear Adm. Phillip G. Sawyer, Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
An NCIS investigation into the circumstances leading to Lt. Cmdr. Sterneckert's relief is ongoing.
Sterneckert, who had served aboard Connecticut since June 2012, has been administratively reassigned to Submarine Group 9 in Bangor, Wash.
This kind of news always sucks, but especially when it's one of your old boats. I haven't heard any "off the record" stuff on this firing, but it is interesting that LCDR Sterneckert has been on the boat for about 21 months; back in the day, the XO tour length was about 22 months, and I think I remember reading recently that it's down to about 20 months (nominal) now, so this publicly-announced relief happened near the end of his tour. I'm also interested to see the Navy announce that NCIS is involved in "investigating the circumstances". Hopefully McGee and DiNozzo can do a good investigation.

Friday, March 07, 2014

Friday Facepalms

Some news items about submarines (and those who wish they could be Submariners) from around the globe:

1) In which a non-technical British "Defence" Minister attempts to explain to a bunch of non-technical MPs why a FEF in a prototype reactor will result in the early refueling of their boomer fleet. Hilarity ensues.

2) Did you ever complain about the shipyard maintenance availability that seemed to go on and on? Just be glad you're not an Indian Submariner on this boat.

3) In skimmer news, it looks like they want to start a "Top Gun"/"Perisher" type course for skimmer officers. I can imagine the topics now: "How to contact the OPFOR submarine and get them to make more noise so you have a hope of finding them"; "Scheduling wardroom meetings at 1900 while in liberty ports"; "No, we can't just submerge under the heavy seas to make the ship stop rolling".

Thursday, March 06, 2014

The Crimea Crisis

Russia escalated the Crimea crisis today by scuttling an old Kara-class cruiser in a chokepoint outside Novoozerne as the Crimean parliament scheduled a plebiscite to decide if the region would stay in the Ukraine or join Russia. The Ukrainian MoD published a picture of the ex-RFS Ochakov:

Popular Mechanics has an interesting article on the history of scuttling one's own ships to blockade an opposing Navy.

While I'm glad to see the 6th Fleet isn't cancelling the planned Black Sea operations of USS Truxtun (DDG 103), I was disappointed President Obama's statement just a few minutes ago didn't mention any military options NATO could take to protect the alliance's relatively new members in Eastern Europe from further Russian adventurism. (The Crimean seizure seems to be pretty much a fait accompli at this point.) Personally, I'd like to see the President announce the abandonment of the announced defense cuts from his newest budget, resumption on discussions of deployment of an ABM system in Eastern Europe, and specific reminders that the Baltic countries are an integral part of NATO. Don't be afraid to rub the Russians' noses in their failures during the 1990s.

One of the reasons I voted for President Obama's opponents in the last two elections was his lack of foreign policy credentials and his seeming naïveté about the presence of bad guys in the world who, it turns out, will not be nice to their neighbors if only their neighbors are nice to them. His selection of John F'n Kerry as his 2nd term SecState only heightened my concern that he didn't really understand that major power politics still exist in the world. I'm hopeful, though, that he's learning a valuable lesson now and can show a little more gumption in future crises.

Of note, it's interesting that Birther Central seems to be taking Russia's side. Is the anti-Obama crowd really so far gone that they're willing to support anyone who is opposing "Obummer"?

Sunday, March 02, 2014

Good Official Submarine Video

Got a half hour? Here's a good video from The Pentagon Channel that I somehow missed when it first came out. Has some good Virginia-class action shots in the middle third.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Another Indian Submarine Suffers Mishap

Only 6 months after the tragic explosion and fire aboard INS Sindhurakshak (S63), another Indian Kilo, INS Sindhuratna (S 59) suffered a mishap, this one at sea; the Indian CNO resigned as a result:
The submarine, Sindhuratna, was forced to surface after smoke was detected on board, the government said in a statement. Seven crew members were airlifted from the submarine and admitted to a hospital in Mumbai, where they were in stable condition, said Narendra Vispute, a spokesman for the Indian Navy. Two other crew members were missing, “and all efforts are in progress to locate them,” the statement said.
After the accident, Adm. D. K. Joshi, chief of the Indian naval staff, submitted his resignation, “taking moral responsibility for the accidents and incidents which have taken place during the past few months,” the statement said. The government accepted his resignation and will appoint a new naval chief.
While details are still coming in, it appears that two officers (a LCDR and LT) are still missing and feared dead, and 7 crewmembers were medivac'd off after a fire in the "3rd compartment". (A Kilo has six compartments.) Initial reports indicate a battery casualty and possible fire, with the missing officers being sealed inside when the compartment was isolated. Sindharatna was reported undergoing sea trials following a 6 month refit.

Staying at PD and sending prayers and best wishes for the missing Submariners, their shipmates, and loved ones.

Update 1150 2/27: The missing officers are reported to be dead. More information here. Lieutenant Commander Kapish Muwal and Lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar, rest your oars.

It's been a bad week for submarines in the Indian Ocean. An Australian boat, HMAS Waller (SSG 75) also suffered a fire during post-upkeep sea trials, with four Sailors sent to shore for observation after the fire was put out.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This Is A Ridiculous Reason To Fire Someone

I'm kinda speechless over this one. From the Navy website:
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Director, Strategic Systems Programs Vice Adm. Terry Benedict relieved Capt. John P. Heatherington, commanding officer of Naval Ordnance Test Unit (NOTU), Cape Canaveral, Fla., of his duties Feb. 18 due to loss of confidence in Heatherington's ability to command and for promoting an unprofessional command climate that was contrary to good order and discipline.
Heatherington was relieved and received non-judicial punishment (NJP) after a thorough command investigation revealed circumstances related to a command-sponsored, off-duty event. He failed to prevent members of his command from wrongfully soliciting items of monetary value and accepting items of value from a company doing business with the Department of Defense. He also wrongfully affiliated the U. S. Navy with businesses that are not representative of the Navy and DoD's high standards.
The mission of NOTU is to support and test sea based weapons systems. The circumstances in question are not related to NOTU's mission. Safety, security and integrity have not been compromised. No impact on NOTU's ability to continue their mission is expected...
...NOTU's senior enlisted leader, Master Chief Petty Officer Eric Spindle, was also relieved of his duties for similar reasons. Command Master Chief(SS) Victor Smith, SSP CMC, has assumed duties as senior enlisted leader for NOTU.
Here's some more background from Navy Times. CAPT Heatherington is the former CO of USS Pasadena (SSN 752), and Master Chief Spindle is an MTCM(SS) well-respected enough to have been on the FY2014 E-9 board. The businesses that were "wrongfully affiliated" with that are "not representative" of the Navy are local strip clubs. The Admiral who did the firing is a known skimmer, who brazenly wears his water wings in his official photo but no Command at Sea pin, because he's an EDO and never held command at sea.

Note that Captain Heatherington and Master Chief Spindle are not accused of actively soliciting the donations from the strip club -- they just knew about it and didn't stop it. Sorry, but to me, unless the Skimmer Admiral had personally crayoned out an order that no units under his command were allowed to solicit strip club donations for a fundraising golf tournament, this is a ridiculous reason to fire anyone. PC culture run amok. Ridiculous. Likewise, the "company doing business with the Navy" solicitation rule is idiotic, and firing someone because their guys broke the rule without malice is stupid.

As with all controversial topics, YMMV, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, February 17, 2014

150 Years Ago

Today marks the 150th anniversary of CSS Hunley's sinking of USS Housatonic, the first successful submarine attack in history. Hunley was lost with all hands shortly after the attack, but her raised hull is providing a trove of information to historians. Here's a drawing of the boat from the Navy History webpage:

Speaking of anniversaries, the Navy Cyberspace blog, one of the older milblogs, celebrated their 10th blogiversary yesterday. If you haven't visited in a while, your should stop by and see what Tom's been up to over there.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Controversial Topics

I ended up closing comments on the previous thread because people mentioned names of people who weren't in the news in a negative light, which is one of the very few commenting rules we have here on TSSBP. In addition, there was one commenter who spoofed an active duty Submariner (using the Submariners name as the commenter "name"), which is completely out of bounds. Since I allow anonymous commenting, I can't "ban" anyone from commenting, but if I could, that guy would be gone.

Let's see how we do on some other potentially controversial stories in the news:

1) USS Scranton (SSN 756) tried 8 hour watches to get a 24 hour "day" on the boat. Here's a story about how it went.

2) Do abusive leaders get promoted in the Navy? The answer may shock you! (Yes, I did the click-bait "answer may shock you" intentionally because I think it's funny when websites say that in the lede.) REMEMBER: When telling sea stories about abusive leaders, NO NAMES! Come up with something clever like "He Who Must Not Be Named" (although you can't use that one, because I've already claimed that for one SUBRON 11 boat CO I served under in the early '90s).

3) Iran is claiming they're sending a "fleet" (consisting of a 45 year old destroyer and a "helicopter carrier" that is really an oiler/repair ship that has a single helo landing pad) near the U.S. maritime border. Various commenters claim that the President is somehow weak if he doesn't sink them in international waters because if he doesn't it proves Obama is a Muslim or something. [Seriously, why is it that otherwise reasonable people -- including some Submariners -- seem to lose all perspective and rationality where President Obama is concerned?] Personally, I think the odds of them making it past the equator are fairly low without one of the vessels needing to be taken under tow, but they might surprise us, in which case the 2nd Fleet TF 80 might get some excellent training opportunities.

Bell-ringer 0640 11 Feb: Changed "2nd Fleet" to "TF 80", as I'd forgotten C2F had been disestablished a couple years ago. That's what happens when you've been out of the Navy for too long, you tend to forget things like that.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

USS Seawolf COB Relieved

The Chief of the Boat of USS Seawolf (SSN 21) was relieved today, according to this Navy press release:
The chief of the boat (COB) of the fast attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) was relieved of his duties Feb. 6 due to unsatisfactory performance while serving as Chief of the Boat.
Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Mark R. Philiposian was removed from his position by Cmdr. Jeff Bierley, Seawolf commanding officer.
Philiposian, who had served as COB since December 2012, has been administratively reassigned to Submarine Development Squadron 5 in Bangor.
An "unsatisfactory performance" relief is fairly uncommon; normally, if a guy doesn't cut it as COB, they'd try to just get him relieved early without making it a "firing". I'm wondering if it has anything to do with a recent change of command. Seawolf had just returned from deployment last month, with CAPT Broderick Berkhout in command. I can't find any new stories about a subsequent change of command (and the squadron boat page still lists CAPT Berkhout as the CO), but there must have been one in the last 16 days, as the link above saying CDR Bierley is the CO is from the official Navy page. It's one of those things that makes one wonder if the new CO just didn't like the COB, or the outgoing CO had passed down that he might want to take that action.

Navy Times has a little more information about who they tried to contact and whatnot, including a statement from the SUBPAC spokesman that the firing was not based on a single incident.

Update 0837 07 Feb: Based on comments, the Change of Command was earlier this week, and was a regularly-scheduled handover. It sounds like both outgoing and incoming COs concurred with the action. Back in the day, it was always understood that a CO got one "free" firing during his tour, but any more than one would get squadron coming in and asking questions. If that's still the "rule", I'm assuming this one won't be charged soley to Captain Bierley.

Update 1615 10 Feb: C'mon, guys, you know the rules -- no mentioning people's names in a negative way whose names are not in the news. Anecdotal stories without names (e.g. "one COB back in the '90s on a SUBRON 8 boat") have just as much impact, and I don't get nasty E-mails from wives and friends. Closing comments and deleting some of the more egregious ones, along with some comments that lack context without the deleted ones.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014


Well, it's not just the Air Force that's freaking out the media with an alleged cheating scandal involving the word "nuclear". From Navy Times:
The Navy’s top admiral says the service is investigating alleged cheating among senior sailors on written tests related to training on naval nuclear power reactors...
...The allegations involve alleged cheating on tests related to the nuclear reactors that provide propulsion for Navy submarines and aircraft carriers...
...At this stage of the investigation, approximately a dozen sailors are believed to be involved in the alleged cheating, although the investigation is still active and has not reached final conclusions.
Kind of scary, and potentially more damaging to the Navy than the Memphis scandal back in 2010. I have no idea what group is alleged to have cheated, but certain words in the story ("senior sailors", "submarines and aircraft carriers", "approximately a dozen") would certainly seem to point to an elite periodic school in the D.C. area that gives nuclear training to both submarine and carrier very "senior" Sailors and has fairly small class sizes. I really hope it isn't that school they're talking about, and that instead it's just guys cheating on the PNEO exam -- although I'm not sure how they'd really do that, since studying questions from previous exams is the entire curriculum of Engineer's School.

Update 1510 2/4: Looks like it's not PCO School. This article on is unintelligible, but since it mentions "enlistees" and "South Carolina", I'm gonna guess it might be Nuc School or NPTU staff proficiency exams.

Update 0635 2/5: As more information comes out, it looks like it was EWS qualification exams for sea returnee instructors. So it's a bigger deal than if it was the quarterly T-Week CT exams.
Here's a link to the transcript of the press conference the CNO and ADM Richardson had on the subject yesterday, along with the video:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Missile Launches

I was never assigned to a boomer, and got underway on one only once -- as a rider on Alpha Trials for USS Louisiana (SSBN 743). However, a lot of TSSBP readers are boomer guys, so I figure I should have a post for them to tell some of their favorite boomer-centric stories.

The obvious difference between boomers and attack boats is that the SSBNs launch ballistic missiles. Here's a video of a 4 missile salvo:

Of course, some launches don't work exactly as expected:

What are your favorite missile launch stories? For the non-MT/Boomer Weps crowd, what do you think of the new military policy regarding religious exemptions for beards and whatnot?