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.)

Sunday, February 06, 2005

Damn, This Guy Won't Quit!

Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.) of Soldiers For The Truth is at it again. Earlier, I discussed the quality of his reporting on the USS San Francisco grounding, and not only found it to be wanting, but determined that Perry was approaching asshattedness. (Asshat: someone who wears their own ass as a hat.)

In his latest article posted at sftt.org, titled "The 'Navigator's Paradox' "Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.) has not only crossed that line, but tripped over it and fallen flat on his face. Here are some excerpts:

"An article by Christopher Drew in The New York Times last week contained one intriguing piece of information: An attached chart depicted the probable location of the submarine farther west than the optimum track of a fast transit from its home port in Guam to its planned destination in Brisbane, Australia.

"If confirmed, another question arises: Was this position determined by the presence of a senior officer onboard for some reason? Was he to be disembarked on one of the islands of the Federated States of Micronesia for a return flight to his home base, while the San Francisco then continued on toward its planned liberty port of Brisbane?

"Who was this officer? A close review of the numerous Navy press releases and other communications concerning the San Francisco revealed the names of many officers who would be reasonably associated with the San Francisco, but the presence of one officer has gone completely unmentioned: Commander, Submarine Group Seven.

"More questions emerge: Why the silence? Was he on board? Did he drive the thinking of the San Francisco’s skipper and navigator? Did they cut a few corners in order to deliver him to a planned flight home? Did these dedicated officers unwittingly attribute to their charts an inappropriate accuracy that allowed them to deliver on a tight schedule?"


The officer Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.) is accusing of being on board, with no real evidence, is RADM David Gove, Commander, Submarine Group SEVEN. (On the CSG7 webpage, click on "The Admiral" for Rear Admiral Gove's biography.) Perry continues to intimate that a "senior officer" may have been on board, although he no longer attributes this to "reliable sources". As I stated earlier, my "frequently drunken sources" say that this was not the case. Perry really is a one-trick pony-- he's convinced himself that submarines only have problems because there are senior officers on board. Maybe the reason that RADM Gove is not making a lot of noise in the press is that he is the first Flag Officer in the San Francisco's chain of command, and as such will likely be the Court Martial convening authority. Maybe he's just trying to maintain some public perception of impartiality. Do you think that might be a more reasonable explanation?

Here's the next piece of proof that Perry's sphincter muscle is wrapped tightly around his forehead; the new article claims that the position of the submarine is "west of the optimum track for a fast transit to Brisbane". It wonders if this senior officer was to be disembarked on one of the Micronesian islands to return home (hopefully one with an airport). Well, Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.), I think you're kind of reaching there. Why not get the free trip to Australia while you're on the boat? I won't go too much into it, but submarines do travel on a track given to them by a higher authority; it's part of something called "waterspace management". This seems to be Perry's train of thought: San Francisco was further west than they should have been! They'd be wasting fuel! Well, Lt. Perry, unlike the ships you're familiar with, submarines don't need to refuel but once every 20 years or so, and San Fran's got a pretty full tank. Maybe for Lt. Perry's next article, he'll find out that Sub Group 7 is the waterspace management authority for the Western Pacific (they are) and figure that the track assigned to San Francisco was approved by people working for RADM Gove (it was). This will be more proof of a great Govian conspiracy! He was probably in the pay of the Chinese! The San Francisco grounding was a plot to distract the people from problems in Iraq!

I'll probably edit this later with more hyperlinks and examples of Perry's fuzzy thinking. When I do, though, I doubt that it will change my final assessment: Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.), you, sir, are an asshat when it comes to writing about submarines.

Update: WillyShake at Unconsidered Trifles has a suggestion to help me avoid the "bad word" controversy brewing in the comments. (To ensure there's no confusion: SubBasket is my wife, and her comment was meant to be humorous - except for the new basket part. I'm just glad she didn't see what I had to say about the Democratic Underground DUmmies in this post.)

Update 2136 06 Feb: Edited to correct misspelling, punctuation, add a sentence to the update above to make it funnier, and amend one sentence to make my point clearer. I was just about to amend the portion on waterspace management issues to more clearly dismantle Perry's mistaken assumptions, but realized that I might be approaching the bounds of security classification issues if I did. (Since Perry seems to operate in the world of make-believe, he doesn't have this concern.) Also, I figured out something else that bothered me about the article. In the earlier, more sleep-inducing part of the article that discussed navigation techniques (which reached conclusions that were, in my opinion, just plain wrong), Perry's whole tone seems to be along the lines of, "They aren't doing navigation the exact same way I learned to do it 20+ years ago! Because I learned to do it a certain way, any other way is wrong, despite any technological advances." So, in addition to being an asshat, he seems to be something of a Luddite. I'm surprised he didn't complain that the San Francisco crew didn't know how to use a sextant.
Anyway, since sftt.org still has a link to me, I figure he may see this (and I'm also thinking about writing him). I renew my invitation to Perry to provide me with any additional information he has to back up his conclusions, including any additional information he has on the supposed presence of RADM Gove on board the San Francisco, and I'll publish it without editing. I'll still rip the hell out of anything that smells foolish, though. Remember, Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.), sometimes good people, like the Captain and crew of the San Francisco, can follow all the rules and still have bad things happen to them. It's called "life", and it's not some grand conspiracy (theological implications notwithstanding)...

37 Comments:

Blogger Subbasket said...

So I thought to myself I should let this simple bubblehead know that certain words are not nice to say when you know that our wonderful teenagers are reading this blog and that they are not allow to use these simple words. I am not a happy camper about these words and you know when the mother is an unhappy camper the rest of the house will be an unhappy household.LOL:-) So even if your opinion on this small minded person is true better words could have been used which means that this will cost you another Longaberger basket.LOL

2/06/2005 8:27 AM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

Oh, oh, I'm in trouble... in other parts of the house, I'm now hearing that my indiscretion will possibly cost me TWO Longaberger baskets!

2/06/2005 8:40 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am glad to see you commented on LT Perry's idiotic article. I cannot put into words my complete rage at his complete lack of understanding of submarine navigation and his use of his "journalistic," license to make gross and incorrect assumptions. I do believe ASSHAT is the most accurate descriptor you could use (although some other, more descriptive terms do come to mind) without being grossly offensive. To the writer who does not want her teenagers reading "bad words," then maybe she needs to take responsibility for what her children are reading and censor them more closely. Back to the matter at hand. Plenty of ships (skimmers, aircraft carriers, and submarines) have run aground and had collisions WITHOUT any senior officer onboard (to wit, my first boat JEFFERSON CITY in '94). To attempt to make this incident, in which one of our fellow submarine brothers lost his life, a lynchpin in the Hackworth crusade against the Pentagon is ludicrous. I see it as LT Perry attempting to justify his existence rather than trying to get anything good out of the incident. As former NAV, I can state that we went out of our way to employ classical navigation techniques while still incorporating modern tools such as GPS and ESGN. You realize that ESGN only gives you an estimated position, that you need to verify your fix information, and that you train on Bowditch. God, Perry makes me sick.

2/06/2005 11:00 AM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

The previous commenter makes some really good points. The thing that bugs me a lot about Perry is that I don't recall seeing in any of his articles any admiration at the professionalism and seamanship required to get their ship home. It seems to be all about the vendetta SFFT has against the military hierarchy, rather than actual concern for the truth. Regarding the earlier poster: the specific teenagers she was talking about were not only hers, but also mine (they're the same two kids; our other kid doesn't read my blog); when she reads your comment, it'll probably cost me another basket (grin).

2/06/2005 11:08 AM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok! Now I am really insulted!!! This Ret LT has no clue what he is talking about! I am guessing at his back ground that he was not a submarine officer. The level of ingorance from this man is astounding! His article definatly proves that he is not well informed and will cling to any kind of information (no matter how false it may be) that drops into his lap. Can we send somebody to remove his head from his rear! It is obviously so tight it is cutting off the blood flow to his head!

alright. I am done ranting. Man that guy ticks me off.

You are right Bubblehead, CSG-7 is the SubOpAuth (submarine operation authority) for the 7th fleet AOR (area of resposibilty) and that would put the Admiral directly within the chain of command for the unit. So common sense would say any comments from the command would be harmful to the investigation.

Lets all hope this guy gets a clue.

2/06/2005 11:11 AM

 
Blogger Andy said...

Another good post.

Was the bad word @55hat? If so, try replacing it with 'jerk'. Or even better, pick a few from the thesarus for the word 'jerk'. A good one from that link is: 'schmuck'.

Keep up the good work, i enjoy reading your blog.

2/06/2005 12:02 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What really upsets me is that the general public,with little or no knowledge of sub ops,may believe this guy's daydreams. Hard to believe he is actually ex-Navy.
Maybe we should establish a "John Walker Turncoat Trophy"and award him the first one.

2/06/2005 12:33 PM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

I'd like to think that I should give Perry the benefit of the doubt; the organization he works for has a specific agenda (prove every bad thing that happens is the result of the actions of uncaring or dangerous senior officers) and he has to make his story fit the pre-conceptions. But still, to keep harping on the "senior officer was on board" questions when every piece of information indicates otherwise indicates to me more of a "conspiracies are everywhere" mindset that I really find distasteful in someone identifying themselves as a military officer.

2/06/2005 9:34 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is an email I sent the good LT.

You Sir and I use that term lightly sound like a ex target officer. I suggest that you do better research and remove this obvious chip that is attached to your shoulder for this alleged Senior Officer. Is this distinguished gentleman an old CO who saw you for who you are and helped you retire at the high rank of LT? Please stop trying to make a conspiracy were there is none. You are helping to give SFTT a bad name among us vets.

Henry Summers
Ex MM1/SS (eight proud years on fast boats)

nuff said
Henry

2/06/2005 9:45 PM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

Henry, I like your style...

2/06/2005 10:00 PM

 
Blogger Eagle1 said...

Hey, I'm a former surface navigator (and have even sailed in the ocean and everything) and it's my perception that your assessment of the retired LT is perfectly apt. Guessing about the presence or absence of a senior officer who may or may not have had anything to do with anything is beyond belief. It was my duty as navigator to ensure the safe navigation of my ship regardless of who was or who wasn't embarked. Anything less would have been unprofessional. It's been my experience that for all their other faults (like enjoying not seeing sunlight for weeks at a time) submariners are a pretty professional lot. A Board of Inquiry will, I assume, make a determination about how this event happened. LT Perry, as you correctly observed, has it firmly up and locked.

2/06/2005 10:20 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The “Reporter’s Paradox”

Devoid of any real information or experience in the environment that he is reporting on, the “Reporter” reverts back to his college creative writing class techniques. Thereby, he fills his article with strange and unsubstantiated theories. How is it that he can just raise questions and pose theories without any real facts on the incident to report?

I don’t get his ‘Navigator’s Paradox’ and find it laughable, as if the addition of a sextant sun site and the color of gull poop on the bridge would have prevented the grounding. He also says that in times of old, ships gave “uncharted dangers a reasonably wide berth” just doesn’t pass the logic test. To me if it’s “uncharted” how do know there’s a danger or what that danger is? Most charts I looked at while on subs in the 80’s had sounding numbers on them, although the numbers were spaced widely apart in remote areas. I don’t recall any large “Uncharted” areas. (Disclaimer – I spent my time in the Atlantic.)

The other theory is of a senior officer rider influencing the CO or Navigator on ships operations. He takes another big leap into speculation with no proof, as if the standard for advancement is to put your boat in danger to kiss butt. I would speculate it is the exact opposite.

Here are a few facts and speculations I’d to add from my recent readings:
1)Its reported the San Fran was on the surface to prep for a shell back ceremony just before the move to depth for flank. Perfect time for a GPS fix.

2)They RLGN’s are accurate as hell and also provide inputs for weps. A GPS fix would confirm RLGN positioning. At grounding their velocity went from flank to 4 knots in 4 seconds and the RLGN’s stayed up, remarkable.

3)Soundings taken before the grounding were consistent with the chart and they were moving into deeper water.

4)All depth gages read the same before moving to flank depth.

5)Charts were up to date.

6)Conclusion – positioning was accurate and there was no reason to expect danger on their projected track.

Another Disclamer- I can’t vouch for the accuracy of the above list because it comes from Blog posts and email but at least I don’t call myself a “reporter”.

2/06/2005 10:34 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Joel,
Thanks for the kind words. I believe you and I share a past command. I was on the Topeka from Late Nov.86 to Aug.90 "M" Div.

Henry Summers

2/06/2005 11:27 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does SFTT write everything with an agenda? Yes.
Does the LT write sentational copy to preach to converted (and those he is trying to convert)? Yes.
And a position 350 south of guam is well SOUTH of the optimum track from Apra harbor to Brisbane, not west.
Also, I strongly doubt that the collision had anything to due with 'showboating', not after the lessons learned from the Waddle affair.
BUT...
He does a few points in both his articles.
1) You know that at AAFLK they would have no warning of a seamount because the fathometer would not work unless actively manned (futher explanation is of course, classified.) If they were near any shoal water (using the sub definition, which has changed slightly since you retired, but not too much) they should not have been going flank.
2) All the C&G training you went to as a officer had a common theme: that the art of navigation was sometimes lost due to a misplaced faith in the machines (true, there were more problems because people did not believe their indications) Nonetheless, it is true that you can get a false sense of security of reading 2 decimals of longtitude on the inertial navigation system, when it can be a mile off and still considered adequate.

There is more to this story than is making the news; and it probably won't make any more headlines because it is only of interest to us in the sub force.

2/07/2005 12:10 AM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

I think the final allocation of blame will be determined in a large part on the investigating officer's judgment on whether or not they should have been doing a flank bell in sporadically charted water. If they do decide he shouldn't have been running that fast, that'll change the way a lot of boats are operating -- and end up with the Force operating more predictably (if you can't run flank as much to catch up, you can't go slow as much, so more time at moderate speed, therefore more predictable operating patterns).

2/07/2005 12:40 PM

 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, I went to SFTT and read Perry's entry. As an ex target driver and LT, USN (ret.) myself, I have to agree that Perry is off the deep end. I would be interested in seeing what Perry's designator was. A retired LT is probably a former LDO (as I was.) That said, I have known LDOs that were outstanding, or deadweights, or somewhere in-between. Aside from 6x10s, most don't have any ship driving experience. That said, I do know of one collision at sea involving a submarine that was caused by the Sub's personnel trusting their navigation equipment, which was working perfectly, but had been incorrectly adjusted during maintenance. I am not about to second-guess this, or any other accident at sea. The investigation will get to the bottem of the matter, and we will learn something from it. As for the skipper, although I can sympathize with his position, everyone who has been a CO knows that some days you get the bear, some days the bear gets you -- whether or not you yourself are at fault. Sometimes the only difference between a good command tour and a career killer is just luck. Although the SF running aground may have just been bad luck, you gotta figure that they used up one hell of a lot of good luck by surviving. The real news is that we didn't have another Scorpion.

2/08/2005 8:44 PM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

All excellent points. If Perry wants to use his "bully pulpit" to make real suggestions for improving safety, more power to him. It's using his writing abilities on a popular web site read by quite a few military people (based on the referrals I get from their link to me with a navy.mil ISP) to question the COs competence to do his job due to the presence of a fictitious "senior rider" that bugs me.

2/08/2005 11:49 PM

 
Blogger Bubblehead said...

It looks like sftt.org has changed the URL of the article, and this post is too old for Blogger to let me edit it, so here's the updated link to Perry's article.

9/14/2005 11:43 PM

 
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