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, May 31, 2005

"History In The Making..."

It looks like "Deep Throat", Woodward's source for the Watergate stories, has outed himself. W. Mark Felt, a senior FBI official in the early 70s, is claiming that he was the source for most of Bob Woodward investigative journalism during that time. Lots of people have suspected it for some time, but up 'til now Woodward has always said that the source wanted to wait until after he was dead for his identity to be revealed.
Over at Democratic Underground, of course, they think the timing of the news was designed to distract from any mistakes President Bush makes at his press conference today. The tin foil must be on extra tight over there today...

Going Deep...

Update 1019 31 May: Here an advance copy of the Vanity Fair article (9 page .pdf file).

Monday, May 30, 2005

Chinese Submarine Fire

An AFX report in Forbes says that a Chinese Ming-class submarine caught fire, apparently while submerged, while operating in the South China Sea. It sounds like they were in the middle of ASW exercises, as there were several Chinese surface ships in the area.
This is the second recent incident involving the Chinese Ming-class diesel boats (basically indigenously-produced Romeos); the earlier, and much worse, accident occurred just over two years ago, when Submarine #361 suffered a loss of her entire crew while conducting at sea; many articles say it was likely due to a diesel piping casualty, but I think it was more likely a carbon monoxide or other poisonous gas issue (an more general analysis is located here).

Staying at PD...

"The Enemy's Gate is Down"

Via Chapomatic, take the time to read this most excellent essay from Orson Scott Card on the nature of the war we're fighting... you'll be glad you did. Excerpt:

"Muslims in Muslim countries can dish it out, but they can't take it. They had no problem expelling all the Jews from their countries in an ethnic cleansing every bit as vicious as anything the Spaniards did in 1492. They desecrated Torahs left and right. Nowadays they blow up babies and call it a heroic act, because they were Jewish babies.
"But let somebody start a rumor that somebody dunked a Quran in the toilet, and they go insane and riot and kill people."

This being Orson Scott Card, he includes some stuff on Mormons, but that's not the reason I linked it. He points out that Islam has produced great leaders in the past, but what passes for Islamic leadership now has gone in a direction that protects their own interests at the expense of societal development (check out these poll results from the "Arab Street").

Here's my theory on the whole thing: Yes, Islam was once a vibrant religion, and created a "modern" society out of desert nomads in a single generation. But honestly -- can anyone come up with anything useful that Islamic society has produced in the last 500 years? (Algebra was before that.) They didn't even invent suicide bombing... (not that that's useful, although I do have to give them credit for coming up with the concept of using suicide bombers against undefended inanimate objects). James Michener, in "The Source", said that the Arab armies couldn't win a war (in this case, the Israeli War of Independence) because of the nature of their society -- if a supply column leaves Cairo headed to the front, supplies would never reach the troops; it'd be sold off to the commander's relatives before it even reached the Suez. A religion that teaches that everything that happens is because of God's will eliminates the needs for its' followers to even try anymore -- "hey, I didn't invent this new item because God didn't want me to". "If God had wanted me to show up for work, I would have." "I can base a large part of my economy on selling pirated software because God would stop me if it was wrong"... (I'm thinking Malaysia here). Now, I'm not saying that all Muslims are like this, but there are enough that it forms a critical mass that changes the nature of society, and we have seen the results. America hasn't quite reached the point where it has the stomach to fight the type of war that you need to against an enemy like this (I can just imagine them laughing their asses off: "We cut off our prisoner's heads and put it on the Internet, and they respond by apologizing for pulling frat stunts on our guys. What a bunch of wimps!") I don't know what it would take for America to realize that it'll require the same kind of national will (in a different type of war, obviously) to defeat this enemy as it did for the last fanatically-religious enemy with no concern for personal survival that we fought... Imperial Japan. Now, the Japanese are among our strongest allies. I hope that in sixty years we'll be able to say the same thing about Islamists... but I don't think we will...

Going deep...

Memorial Day Thoughts

On Memorial Day, submariner's thoughts always turn to those of us still on eternal patrol -- the crews of the diesel boats lost during peacetime accidents, the 52 boats lost fighting for freedom during WWII, the USS Thresher, and the USS Scorpion...
On this Memorial Day, my thoughts also turn to MM2(SS) Joseph Ashley of the USS San Franciso, and his extended family (in Ohio, Guam, and elsewhere). I am thankful today for the professionalism and skill of the crew of the San Francisco that we don't have another entire crew to mourn... that they didn't, as one of the crewmen said, "go three section with Thresher and Scorpion"... (As Captain Mooney said yesterday at a Memorial Day celebration in San Francisco, "There is no greater honor than to say that I am a USS San Francisco sailor.")
I mourn, and celebrate, men like CDR Howard Gilmore of USS Growler, who gave the order "Take her down" so that his shipmates could survive to fight another day... Captain John Cromwell, who rode the USS Sculpin to the bottom to save others he didn't even know... and LCDR Dudley "Mush" Morton, who taught the Submarine Force to fight as CO of USS Wahoo.
About halfway between SUBASE New London and Electric Boat shipyard in Groton is the National Submarine Memorial. Whenever I drove between the two places, I always saluted the men and boats honored there; their sacrifice provided the glue that binds submariners together.

In today's New London Day is a good article on how the proposed closing of the base in Groton might change the town. Here's what it says about the activities there today:

"The service today at Groton's National Submarine Memorial will be another occasion to remember the many submarines and their crew who never returned to any port. The memorial is dedicated by the U.S. Submarine Veterans of World War II “to our shipmates on eternal patrol.”
“They stand in the unbroken line of patriots who dared to die so that freedom might live,” the inscription on the monument reads. “Their final resting places are known only to the Almighty. Their family, friends, living shipmates and future generations should know they will always be remembered.
“Walk softly, walk softly stranger. You stand on hallowed ground.”

Even if the base does go away, I'm sure there will still be people of honor who will continue to care for the monument. I'm thinking that those seeking to save the base should emphasize that the home of this Memorial shouldn't be without modern day submarines to honor and protect those who gave all so that we could continue to enjoy the freedoms we have today.

Going deep...

Sunday, May 29, 2005

The Dolphin Code

In between Engineer tours, I was the Submarine Liaision Officer for Carrier Group SEVEN, which was then the Battle Group staff for the John C. Stennis Battle Group. As such, I rode the Stennis for the Battle Group's 2000 deployment. We had two submarines (USS Asheville and USS Jefferson City) along with us, and my job, in addition to handling their waterspace management, was to do most of the communicating with the boats.
Since the first ASW exercises were run, submarine officers have been onboard the surface ships involved in order to provide a level of expertise on the various special rules that exist when working with submarines. Sometimes the submarine might want to pass a message to the submariner on the surface ship that he doesn't want the skimmers to see. To solve this problem, the Royal Navy and/or Canadian Navy invented the Dolphin Code. (The code I'm used to only had 80 options, so it's apparently grown in the last five years.)
The code is clearly British/Commonwealth in origin, but Americans still use it. I passed probably 5 messages back and forth with "my" boats using this code during my deployment; didn't really have to, since I could just send E-mails to the subs, but it was still kind of fun. Here are some of the more interesting code phrases:

4. My battery is:
A. 100%, I will simulate a Nuclear Submarine if you wish.
B. 75%, I will simulate a Nuclear Submarine for a short time if you wish.
C. 50%, I will not simulate a Nuclear Submarine, regardless of your wish.
D. 25%, I wish to simulate a Conventional Submarine, and will hot-pipe if you wish.
E. DEAD, I hot-pipe now, regardless of your wish.

13. I must temporarily withdraw from the exercise because of difficulties with:
A. Technical systems which are to difficult to explain.
B. Battery/motors/generators, I no go right.
C. Sonar, I no hear right.
D. Ingress of water, I no float right.
E. Fire/smoke, I no breathe right.
F. Personnel, I no lead right.

14. Please accept my apologies for failing to make the assigned rendezvous. My reason is as follows:
A. The navigator is a Newfoundlander.
B. I was doing something else at the time and didn't think you'd miss me.
C. I erroneously assumed that you would be where you said you would be.
D. My navigational equipment has not been updated since the Boer War.

A. Your helicopter frightened me.
B. Your helicopter didn t frighten me.
C. I frightened your helicopter.
D. I wasn't aware you had a helicopter airborne.

A. Thank you for your valuable assistance.
B. Had assistance been rendered, I would have been thankful.
C. No, thank you, I do not require assistance.
D. Please do not render assistance, I need your help likea hole in the head.

Going deep...

Bell-ringer 1022 30 May: Edited to fix the Dolphin Code link (I used the one on the site, but Dragonspeed points out that it's also available here).

Beautiful New London

I remember seeing something about this earlier this week (Ninme commented about it somewhere, but right now I'm too lazy to go find it), but when I saw that The Sub Report had linked to an article about New London, CT, being the "most favorable city in the country based on an analysis of living costs and average pay" in the country. For those of us who've been there, obviously it seemed like something was out of place; I mean, New London might not be an armpit along the lines of say, Pawtucket or Olongapo, but it's still pretty crappy. Then I saw this disclaimer in the article:

"The analysis did not consider quality-of-life issues such as school systems, weather, infrastructure and culture."

That explains it...

"Hey, I Resemble(d) That Remark..."

Lubber's Line puts up a new Sunday comic, which struck a little bit close to home here (as a former "portly" Eng). However, I saw that he made the submarine a boomer, so I knew he wasn't talking about me...

Idahoans in the News

There's one Idahoan who's wondering what to do with the rest of his or her life... and no, unfortunately, it wasn't anyone in the Bubblehead family. Of course, they don't get the whole $220 million, but I think that I could live pretty well on even $100M...

Going deep...

Update 1700 29 May: Looks like the winning ticket was bought in Boise...

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Mocking and Belittling... Oliver Stone

Wacko conspiracy theorist and director Oliver Stone was apparently arrested on drug and DUI charges last night. Whaddaya bet we hear from the moonbats over at DU that this is more stifling of dissent, and that the Bushitler junta framed him? Nothing yet, but we'll see how this thread develops...

Tango Bravo News

Sorry for the light posting, but it's been a fairly eventful week (daughter's graduation, new lawn, car shopping, etc). But, tonight's my last night of work for the week, so expect more in the next few days, including a potentially big announcement that could radically alter the sub-blogosphere.
In submarine news, the Navy is finally spending some money on next generation submarine studies. The program, designated Tango Bravo, envisions what is probably the most radical re-thinking of submarine design since the advent of nuclear power. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out...

Going deep...

Friday, May 27, 2005

Some Guys Have All The Luck...

While I'm off making Boise safe from microscopic particles, WillyShake is livin' the good life in NYC, watching the Fleet arrive for Fleet Week, and then visiting a couple of the ships. He took pictures! Also in the Northeast, Lubber's Line has a good post on the SUBASE NLON issue. No original content here, though, until I find the time to finish the homework that CDR Salamander gave me.

Update 2129 29 May: Still working on the homework; it looks like Skippy-san got his done. Even better, he did some research on what "meme" means...

Actually, I think I'll do my homework now.

Number of films I own on DVD/Video: I personally don't buy many, but Subbasket loves to, so we own well over 200, mostly on DVD (we got our first DVD player with my Nuke Bonus in 1997, so we were fairly early adopters). I personally have bought about five over the last five years.

The last film I bought: Last one to come into our home is "Phantom of the Opera"; the last one I personally bought is "Office Space" (see below).

The last film I watched: When I got this assignment, it would have been "Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith". This afternoon, though, I sat down and watched "Hotel Rwanda" on PPV; if you haven't seen it, please do -- it's one of the most powerful films I've ever seen.

Five films that I watch a lot or that mean a lot to me (in no particular order): This won't be a list of great films, just films that stop my channel surfing in its' tracks when I come across them:

1) "Glory": Probably my all-time favorite war movie. Seeing men willingly marching into a hopeless battle not only for their fellow soldiers, but also for a greater cause, is a theme that never fails to affect me at the deepest levels of who I am.

2) "Caddyshack": Not quite as good as "Glory", obviously, but still one of the best comedies ever made. In order to be a guy, you have to basically have the script memorized; saying "What movie's that from?" to one of the famous quotes gets you immediately identified as a loser. Made the list by a whisker over "Risky Business", which I like not only because the lead character is named Joel, but also because it provided the basis for a lot of my sexual fantasies in my formative years...

3) "South Park: Bigger, Longer, and Uncut": Not only the best movie musical since "The Sound of Music", but also just damned funny. Parker and Stone took on the MPAA head-on and made them blink. The film deserved an NC-17 rating, but they shamed the ratings board to get out of it.

4) "Office Space": The "Caddyshack" of the Naughties. ("Naughties", btw, is what we'll be calling this decade in 10 years or so. You heard it here first.) If you don't know the lines, don't bother hanging out with the other guys at the water cooler. THE movie for those who like merry squirrels.

And because I need one submarine movie on the list, and don't want to list "Das Boot" like everyone else --

5) "The Enemy Below": 1957 movie with Robert Mitchum as a U.S. destroyer captain and real-life concentration camp survivor Curt Jurgens as a U-boat CO. Very realistic, and a gripping tale to boot.

Going deep...

Update 1650 30 May: I had thought that Ninme was appreciative of the wit I showed in coming up with my choices, but it turns out she was making fun of me. So, in the time-honored Internet tradition, I get to retaliate... I tag Ninme to do this meme next!

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Subase NLON Drawdown Plan

The Sub Report has essentially everything of interest today in the submarine world available in one place, so I won't try to copy what you can find there. I was interested to read the new article by Bob Hamilton of the New London Day that details the Navy's timeline for pulling out of Groton:

"According to a 124-page report released by the Navy, 1,471 military and civilian workers would leave in 2008, when a squadron of attack submarines would move to the base in Kings Bay, Ga. Another 1,600 employees would leave in 2010, when two squadrons of submarines would transfer to Norfolk, Va., and 4,678 would be transferred right before the base closes in 2011, when the Naval Submarine School would move to Kings Bay."

The story also answers a question I had since the announcement, as far as what will happen to the Submarine Force Museum and the Nautilus:

"The only good news for base supporters is that the Navy would leave behind five officers, 34 enlisted people and 15 civilians to run the Historic Ship Nautilus and the Submarine Force Library and Museum, which would stay, as would the Navy Supervisor of Shipbuilding office at Electric Boat."

It also looks like the Navy might not have had someone take a critical look at the money part to see that it all made sense:

"Markowicz said many details in the report are confusing. One listing puts the cost of new military construction for sub school students in Kings Bay at $286 million, but the “total cost” at just $51 million.
“I have no idea what the difference is between the two numbers, or the methodology they used to come up with those figures, based on what was released,” Markowicz said."

My take: It looks like someone in Groton is getting their ducks in a row; hopefully they won't be drowned out by the "environmental cleanup extortionists".

Staying at PD...

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Connecticut Counterattack (Continued)

No, this isn't the start of alliterative post titles... but it looks like things might be going SUBASE NLON's way. Senator Lieberman has a decent editorial in the New York Post (annoying registration required; a full version is found about halfway down yesterday's Ron Martini's Daily SONAR briefing, which also includes three articles about the new Naval Academy commandant, who I worked with when he commanded USS Asheville), but the biggest news comes from an article by Bob Hamilton in The New London Day. Excerpts:

"The Pentagon has finished a study of military requirements that concludes the Navy needs at least 45 to 50 submarines, not the 37 to 43 that the Navy found in an internal study, Navy sources said Tuesday.
"The Connecticut congressional delegation said the new study, which is classified, could help overturn a Navy recommendation to close the Naval Submarine Base in Groton.
“If these numbers are true, they would be more dots that –– when connected –– add up to a rationale for not closing sub base New London,” said U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn. “Our nation needs more submarines and not less, and these numbers –– if true –– would seem to indicate that the Navy's arguments are based upon shaky assumptions, and that is highly significant.”...

"...“And we were concerned that the earlier study was a Navy study, and may not have looked at all the requirements of the warfighting commanders and all the agencies outside the Department of Defense,” Downey said. “We have suspected all along that a complete analysis, taking into account all the requirements, would reflect a higher number.”

This is the type of argument the Connecticutters (Connecticutlians? Connecticites? Geez, I lived there over six years and I have no idea...) need to be making. Raising the planned future submarine numbers from 37-43 to 45-50 could be the justification the BRAC Commission needs to remove SUBASE NLON from the closure list. I'll be interested to see what, if any, public comments the commissioners make when they visit Groton next week.

Staying at PD...

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Hail To Thee, Our Alma Mater...

Congratulations of the Class of 2005 at Mountain View High School in Meridian, Idaho on their graduation tonight! Blogging will be light as Subbasket and I put a party together for one very special graduate...
In the meantime, check out CDR Salamander's reaction to this article on political correctness running amok in naval history celebrations, as well as a couple of articles on Connecticut's counterattack on the BRAC.
Excerpts from the last linked article:

"Members of the local save-the-submarine-base group hope to line Route 12 with supporters on June 1, when members of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission visit.
"The Subase Realignment Coalition was told that the commission chairman, Anthony J. Principi, and as many as three other membes of the commission will visit the base. Among those mentioned as a visitor is retired Air Force Gen. Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton, a vice president at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft and the only commission member from the Northeast.
"The visit is a prelude to a full public hearing on July 6 in Boston on the Pentagon recommendation to close the Naval Submarine Base in Groton and to make other changes at military bases in the Northeast.
“I hope we get 5,000 people out there, and from all over the state, not just southeastern Connecticut,” said Norbert V. “Bud” Fay, a Groton businessman and member of the coalition. “They'll have one message for the commission — Don't close our base.”

Knowing Groton, I think the only way they're going to get the thousands of people to line the Rte. 12 is if EB gives its workers the time off...

Update 0853 25 May: Thanks to all for the good wishes for my daughter. The graduation went well last night (they had it in Boise State University's big arena). It appears that Idaho's ACLU is not very active, or at least very careful about picking their fights (although the fact that their web site is an AOL members page might indicate the former); not only was there student-led prayer, but the choir for this public school sang "Battle Hymn of the Republic", including the verse:
"In the beauty of the lilies Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free;
While God is marching on."

Yes, they even used "die" instead of the more common (nowadays) "live". I don't think I would have seen this if we were still in California...

Completely off-topic, I remember a rather humorous version of "Battle Hymn" from Mad Magazine back in 1976, which was skewering Bicentennial marketing. Can't remember the whole thing, and it's not on Google anywhere, but I do remember part of one verse:

"... we've a plastic Patrick Henry doll that shouts and raves and rants;
when you wind it up he screams for war and also wets his pants..."

I think that might have been a little bit anti-military, but as a 12 year old I didn't really know that...

Monday, May 23, 2005

Naval Reactors... Gestapo or Soulless Automons?

(I admit that the title of this post is a little over-the-top, but I really just wanted to see if I could snag the #1 Google listing for "Naval Reactors Gestapo"; that should bring me in a few hits. Update -- As I was checking it to add the link, though, I found I already had the #1 result. We'll see how long it takes this one to take it away, simply as a check on the Google algorithm...)

So there I was... I was stationed at NPTU Charleston on MTS 626 as a Shift Engineer as my post-JO shore tour. There were about seven Naval Reactors guys in the local office; as a general rule, they were all jerks. (I'll probably get the guys in Groton that I worked with in trouble, but they generally weren't jerks; based on my other dealings with NR, though, I think they were an anomaly.) They expected phone calls about any problem, and the Shift Engineer could get in a lot of trouble by not keeping them informed. When we were on midshift, I'd occasionally have something come up that I knew I didn't have to inform them about right away, but that they'd be pissed if I didn't call them sometime during the night. I used to wait until about 4:15am to call them; I figured at that point it'd be harder for them to get back to sleep.

Anyway, one day I'm on day shift, and were preparing for a really complex test during a maintenance period. The youngest NR guy (a really weasely little sh*t) comes into my "office" with a complaint that "your ETs don't have all references present at the worksite for RC Div maintenance". (For those not familiar with Navy Nuclear Power, this is probably the most frequently violated rule out there; each procedure normally lists about 8 references, which were big-ass, really heavy books, and often they were only listed for some dumb comment like "don't piss on live electrical wires" or something asinine like that.) Anyway, this NR guy is sitting on my desk as he tells me this, and it was a pretty stressful time, so I guess I kind of snapped at him. "I appreciate the comment, but in the future I'd appreciate it if you could inform me if you're starting a monitor watch, and I'd also appreciate it if you didn't sit on my desk." Well, he gets all huffy, and says he wasn't going to make it an official comment, but now he would, so I had to get out the sheet and write it up. (One thing that NR guys do is that they never write down their own deficiency comments; they make the duty officer do it. That way, if they make a mistake, they can claim the duty officer wrote it down wrong.)

Back to the story. OK, I could accept that he would make the comment "official" in retaliation for me talking back to him, but then he goes up and... tells his boss! Next thing I know, the phone's ringing, and it's the head of the local office, yelling at me that the guy I talked back to was "the Admiral's official representative" and asking if I would "tell the Admiral to get off your desk." I'm pretty exercised at this point, so I say something to the effect of "No, but I don't think the Admiral would sit on my desk." He hangs up, and five minutes later my bosses boss is down there telling me not to piss off Naval Reactors anymore.

A couple months go by. The thing about NR reps is that most of the field reps are active duty military, but they don't ever wear their uniforms; they're normally Lieutenants or below, so most people they hassle outrank them, but that doesn't count in the NR world. Anyway, this kid whose chops I busted was an E-6, and he was having a really hard time passing the CPO exam, which he needed to do to become eligible for the Limited Duty Officer board. (NR guys get commissioned that way; essentially all of them that "make the board" get selected.) NR told him that since he didn't pass the exam, they were sending him back to the fleet as an ET1, which was his normal rate. By this time, I already had my orders to be Engineer on Connecticut (SSN 22) and he decided that going to the shipyard would be the best job for him. (I always thought they should have one boat set aside for ex-NR guys; kinda like the section of prison where they put the ex-cops.) He figured the detailer will give him whatever he asked for. So, he comes up to me and says, "It looks like I'll be working for you next; I guess I won't be able to sit on your desk... heh, heh". I said something non-commital, but what I was really thinking was... "Oh, yes, Petty Officer Xxxxx; you come work for me, and I'll be sending you into the bilge, but it won't be for a zone inspection".

Anyway, he ended up going to a boomer in King's Bay (and later passed the CPO exam, so I heard NR took him back) and I reported to the Connecticut. The first thing my new CO says to me is, "I heard you like to tell NR guys to get off your table. Please don't piss them off here." I imagine it's probably an urban legend in Charleston by now; some story about how a Shift Engineer punched the NR guy or something.

In conclusion: What are Naval Reactors guys anyway? If you want an organization to design the best and safest military reactors in the world where price isn't an object, they're your guys. As far as the local reps who move into NR from the Fleet, in order to spy on their old shipmates, I kind of pity them; maybe they didn't have any friends on the boat. So, I guess I'd have to generally classify them as "socially inept traitors with a serious Napoleon complex". Not all of them, but enough of them to make the generalization valid. I'm sure they perform a vital role, but right now I can't figure out what it is...

Going deep...

Update 0932 24 May: I suppose in the interests of fairness I should link to some remarks from ADM "Skip" Bowman, who was recently relieved as NAVSEA 08; I really admired him. He talks about what is good about Naval Reactors.

Update for Google-philes, 0848 25 May: It took two days for this article to get picked up by Google; since it's from the same website as the previous #1 result, though, they just made it a sub-entry. I did, however, steal the #1 spot from bothenook for "naval reactors gestapo" in quotes... Sorry, bo!

NY Post Editorial: Closing Subase Bad..

This editorial from the New York Post (linked from Yahoo News because they don't have the registration requirement) looks like the paper got ahold of the Connecticut anti-BRAC team's talking points and put them out. (This seems to make writing stories easier; no critical thinking is required by the author.) Here's probably the weakest argument they've been making:

"It has the best ready access to deep water and the critical polar ice cap route to the Pacific Ocean, giving it unrivaled "surge capacity" — the ability to quickly move personnel, vehicles and weapons around the globe."

OK, I'll admit that Groton is slightly closer to the Arctic than Norfolk is; maybe 200-300 miles (remember, we're talking great circle routes here) in a 10,000 mile trip to the Yellow Sea. I love the part about "best ready access to deep water"... everyone who's done those damn 9 hour surface transits out of Groton, dodging all the lobster pots, and then running into the fishing fleet at the 100 fathom curve -- or the 18 hour transits in heavy weather -- will tell you that they shouldn't be using that as a selling point. Anyway, if we're concerned about how quickly our boats can get to Taiwan or Korea, why don't we just station them on the West Coast? Methinks the "Sub Base Strike Force" will have to come up with some better arguments to convince the BRAC commission to take Groton off the list...

Staying at PD...

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Sub-Blogosphere News Roundup

Frequent commenter and submariner Xopher has a new blog up over at Snapshot Tube 2.

Vigilis over at Molten Eagle says his blog will now cover submarine issues pretty much exclusively, but he gives a link for those who enjoyed his thoughts on lawyers. (He doesn't like them.)

Active duty submariner JC appears to have started a blog, with the catchy title of MailBuoy, but doesn't have any content yet. I'm bookmarking him to check later to see what he comes up with.

Oh, yeah... PigBoatSailor (obviously a submariner) also has a new blog up at The Discomfort of Thought.

Lubber's Line shows previously unsuspected artistic talent!

On a personal note, I should go over 90,000 page views sometime tomorrow, along with 36,000 visits... thanks again for everyone who's sent a link my way!

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Connecticut Counterattacks BRAC

The New London Day has had the best coverage of the continuing efforts by various groups in Connecticut to save the Submarine Base in Groton; I'm hoping that they might relax their "registration required after one day" policy to let more cybervisitors read their coverage. While Governor Rell is focusing on the "we don't want to lose our jobs and all the federal money" angle that frankly sounds a little whiny, Senators Lieberman and Dodd seem to be going more for a "why do we need such a steep reduction in overall submarine numbers" that I think is more likely to sway BRAC commission members. (Yes, I know "BRAC commission" is like "ORSE exam" or "CAT team", but it sounds better.) [Update: Yes, I also know that the "C" in "BRAC" doesn't stand for "Commission", which renders my whole little comment irrelevant. I don't think it's fair to edit my stupid mistakes out, though, so I'll keep it in.] Excerpts from Bob Hamilton's latest article:

"U.S. Sens. Christopher J. Dodd and Joseph I. Lieberman, both D-Conn., fired off a letter to Navy Secretary Gordon R. England on Friday requesting “the justification for this force level,” which was apparently approved in March, two months before the release of the list of bases to be closed...
"...Critics of the closure plan are questioning the 192-page Navy document's outlining of how Navy officials arrived at the conclusion that Groton should be closed, in particular the section where it says it revised the force-structure plan that it delivered to Congress in March 2004, which was supposed to guide the BRAC deliberations.
"The report says it is reducing the number of aircraft carriers from 12 to 11, an 8 percent drop, and the number of battle-force ships — cruisers, destroyers, frigates, submarines and other warships — from 378 in 2004 to between 341 and 370, which would be a cut of 2 percent to 11 percent.
"The only element of the battle-force ships that was broken out separately was submarines, which it noted have been reduced by 21 percent."

Of course, they're also going with the "the base is so old and polluted that we'll force you to spend any projected savings in cleaning it up before we take it back" argument that approaches whininess as well. [Money passage on Sen. Dodd: "He also asserted that the environmental cleanup at the vacated New England base would be enormous, saying that Navy officials who calculated the cost at $29 million were 'living in Disneyland.'"]

Hopefully this whole exercise will result in a national debate on the important role submarines play in our defense and why we shouldn't cut their numbers, but I predict it'll just degenerate into a "mean neo-cons want to take money from blue states" sh*t-slinging match.

Staying at PD...

Update 1345 21 May: CDR Salamander has a most excellent summary of this thoughts on the Navy side of BRAC.

Friday, May 20, 2005

"Stay on Target..."

Several bloggers, including my good friend WillyShake, have discussed George Lucas' recent comments in Cannes that he sees parallels in the rise of the Empire in his movies with the current American political scene. I had thought that these concerns were a little overblown --but when I saw the movie last night, I found that there were indeed a number of potentially explosive political themes that made me wonder if maybe they weren't right after all!
[WARNING: The following comments may contain spoilers for the movie Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith. So, if you aren't aware that one of the major, whiny characters is going to turn into Darth Vader, you might want to skip this post.]

Lucas seems to be implying that abortions should be used to solve all the galaxy's problems. When Padme finds out she's pregnant, she never even discusses ridding her body of the parasitic fetal matter; this despite the fact that an abortion would calm Anakin's fears that she will die in childbirth (which serves as a springboard for his switch to the Dark Side). Also, in this galaxy, we see that working mothers are apparently discriminated against; Padme fears she'll lose her job if her pregnancy is revealed. Also, this "Republic" apparently doesn't provide pre-natal medical care for women without documented marriages; they can build amazing replacements for light-sabered-off limbs, but she can't even get an ultrasound to determine that she's carrying twins!

Lucas also reminds us that the military is always looking to launch coups against progressive leaders. The Chancellor, who talks during the entire movie about how much he wants peace, finds himself under attack by his own military leadership! It's clear to me that Lucas' agenda is to warn against the military leadership ("Jedi Council" being a not-very-well disguised stand-in for the "Joint Chiefs of Staff") gaining too much power. (Yoda even looks a little like Rumsfeld!) [Update: I just noticed that "Jedi Council" and "Joint Chiefs" are both abbreviated "JC"... even more incontrovertible evidence of Lucasian linkage!] The progressive leader, who has had his religion vilified in the press as "The Dark Side" by the military oligarchs that are the Jedi, is able to overcome the military coup leaders by standing up for himself -- a lesson I'm sure Lucas is trying to pass on to today's progressive Democratic leadership.

There are many other plot points in the movie that could be interpreted as support of progressive politics (adoption being used to rip families apart, clones eliminating would-be military dictators, the dangers of heterosexual marriage, etc.) but I think we all can see through Lucas' thinly-disguised attempts to change the political beliefs of all innocent movie goers.

I urge all right-thinking Americans to show their displeasure with Lucas and his attempt to brainwash the movie-going public by only going and seeing the movie like four or five times, instead of the seven or eight you were probably planning on. I, for one, aren't planning on seeing again until Monday...

Update 2332 22 May: Skippy-San posts his thoughts on the movie.

The Canadian Sub Force...

...did not need this, especially so soon after this... I'm wondering if they were being especially conservative, and planned to return to port in the event of any electrical casualty. If so, I'm wondering if maybe making a big announcement about returning to sea before getting the mission successfully completed was such a good idea...

Going deep...

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Groton Sub Media Blitz

A couple of articles indicate that Groton-based boats will be coming to a TV near you soon. In what sounds like a fun visit for the crew, the cast of Discovery Channel's "American Chopper" show visited USS Albuquerque.
"Because there is such a large "American Chopper" fan base on Albuquerque, many crewmembers were excited for the opportunity to meet the Teutuls as they came aboard the submarine."
"I watch the show as much as I can when we're in port and I think it's great that they're coming aboard," said Yeoman 2nd Class William Shelton. "We were in the crew's mess (May 11) watching the show when we found out and we just couldn't believe it."
This episode will probably air in August.

In another visit that most submariners will describe as a pain in the ass, but end up being happy about, a network team from the NBC Today Show visited USS San Juan earlier this month. The article doesn't say when the segment might air, but it's interesting to me that the story only has the usual cast of characters (CO and COB) saying how great it was having them on board...

Going deep... (Movie Call)

60 Minutes Story on SFO Grounding

I'd like to be able to provide some strong opinions on last night's 60 Minutes piece on the San Francisco grounding, but... since I just got home from work, I haven't exactly seen it yet. (Note that a complete state of ignorance on the subject at hand normally doesn't keep me from providing an opinion, but in this case I thought I'd hold off.) I did Tivo it though, so as long as my sons didn't cancel the recording to record their fifth episode of X-Play for the day, I should be able to see it soon.
In the meantime, Ron Martini's Submarine BBS has quite a few posts on the story, including this one that looks to be the longest thread. They also have a post with instructions for downloading the story from this link (23 MB, 12 minutes, Windows Media Player format).
Also, here's a CBS story that's probably based on the 60 Minutes piece.

Staying at PD...

Update 0927 19 May: Just finished watching the piece, and I thought it was quite good, given the limitations of the format and the target audience. The thing that jumped out at me as being "wrong" was that one of the pictures they showed is from a series of photos that most sub-bloggers have avoided showing because... well, just because. Anyway, since I assume the Navy vetted the final cut, and they included that shot, I no longer feel any hesitation in linking to this drydock photo (which I think is the one they used).
Captain Mooney, as expected, continued to display the courage and honesty he used to inspire the crew to their heroic actions in returning their damaged ship safely home. The part the affected me the most, though, was seeing the emotion in Senior Chief Hager's face as he discussed MM2(SS) Joseph Ashley, and the love in his parent's eyes as they looked at the video tribute to him at the Navy Memorial. As much as I've been harping on what I consider to the Submarine Force's unwillingness to publically recognize some of the forcewide lessons learned from this tragedy, this story made me remember that the true story of the San Francisco's travails is the bonds of brotherhood and, yes, love, that holds a submarine crew, and their families, together. It's something that can only be understood by those who have been lucky enough to be part of such a brotherhood, and I am proud to consider Captain Kevin Mooney, Senior Chief Danny Hager, Petty Officer Joseph Ashley, and the rest of the crew of the San Francisco as my brothers... Brothers of the 'Phin.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Forced Acronyms...

WillyShake has a post up about the research into a regional replacement for the SOSUS array, awkwardly named PLUSNET (for "persistent littoral undersea surveillance network".) In addition to agreeing with the comment left by PigBoatSailor (who just started his own blog, "The Discomfort of Thought", and is off to a fast start with posts like this), I'd have to wonder what kind of crack the "submarine warfare experts" referenced by the authors of the article were smoking when they provided the information that led to this lead:

"Submarine warfare experts predict that by 2010, as many as 1,000 stealthy diesel submarines launched from ports not necessarily friendly to the United States will be plying troubled waters from the entrance to the Persian Gulf to the Taiwan Straits. "

One thousand modern diesel submarines by 2010? Unless they're defining "stealthy" as "any diesel submarine, including mini-subs, whether it can actually submerge (at least more than once) or not", my guess is that they have some stock in the Northern European submarine makers that they're trying to talk up so they can unload it. (I don't have any current unclassified numbers that I can put out, but a quick search for world submarine inventories came up with this list from the late 90s, when there were about 500 diesel boats in the world [Intel Source: Sid Hill]. Many of these are obsolete Whiskey and Romeo variants, so I wouldn't exactly classify them as "stealthy".) Assuming that enough have been added in the intervening eight years to say there are currently 500 decent diesel boats in the world, I haven't heard of any plans to build an additional 500 in the next 5 years. (Note how I didn't jump on them for implying that all 1,000 would be concentrated in the Eastern hemisphere, although I could have...)

Anyway, here's the BAA (basically a request for proposals) for PLUSNET that got put out last year. It describes the proposed project thusly:

"The Office of Naval Research (ONR 32) seeks white papers describing innovative technology concepts that will form the foundation for future (circa 2015) naval systems for clandestine undersea surveillance to provide the location of submarines in far- forward and/or contested waters.
"Concepts should emphasize mobile and/or fixed, multiple mode sensing nodes, networked to provide an adaptive and/or relocatable sensing grid. Concepts should include technologies and approaches which will result in low false alarms, reduced manning, provide tracking with effective attack criteria for existing or emerging weapons, and be operable from ambiguous warning through neutralization of the threat. Successful concepts will incorporate environmental information to optimize deployment and sensing. Concepts should include technologies that are rapidly deployable (within days) and remain survivable to countermeasures for their operational life. It is anticipated that this period will extend from four to six months. These novel concepts must support the future naval undersea warfare directions of Sea Power 21 and Naval Power 21 and should be operable and effective from near the enemy shore to the vicinity of the Sea Base or Strike Group, including shallow and deep water.
"ONR highly encourages teaming of academia, industry, and government laboratories with a view toward speeding the transition of new science and technology into fielded systems. Priority will be given for concept development proposals addressing a complete undersea surveillance system.

"Priority will be given to concepts of sufficient maturity such that significant aspects can be demonstrable during fiscal years 2006 and 2007.
"The technological concepts sought in this offering may lead to further development of a prototype surveillance system demonstrable during FY08-10 using higher category funds."

Staring into my crystal ball, I see... no deployment of anything like a finished system until 2020 at the earliest... probably 2030 or so...

Going deep...

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

While I Was Out...

Around the sub-blogosphere while I was out on liberty...

Chapomatic has an initial reaction to the announcement that Groton was on the BRAC list, and a follow-up post.

Zero Bubble is really, really against the proposed base closures in the Northeast...

drunknsubmrnr reports on the return of the Canadian Submarine Force to sea.

And finally, bothenook gets a little bit literary, eliciting a response from the only sub-blogger qualified to respond to posts that reference Shakespeare, WillyShake. Willy also asks for help from ELTs, and reads way too much into the new "Star Wars" movie. Dude, the movie has lightsaber fights and things that blow up in kewl ways -- nuttin' else really matters... Anyway, no one who isn't a political junkie will give a rat's ass about the cultural commentary; it's kind of like when a lot of people thought "Born in the U.S.A" was a patriotic song...

Going deep...

The Crew's Story

A lengthy article in the New York Times tells the story of the San Francisco grounding from the crew's point of view (registration probably required soon). While some of us have our own opinions of Christopher Drew, in this case I think he did a good job of bringing to the forefront the bravery and professionalism of the crew in their response to the casualty, and balancing the navigational mistakes made on board with other, more systemic, Force-wide issues. Some excerpts:

"To avoid detection, submarines travel silent and largely blind, relying heavily on charts, and their interpreters, to navigate the undersea landscape. The meeting of this submarine and that mountain beneath the Pacific was in many ways a stroke of hauntingly rare bad luck: everyone relied on the one chart, from a panoply of them, that lacked even a hint of the looming danger. But the submarine's fate was also the result of a confluence of simple shipboard errors.
"The Navy has placed the blame on the captain and the crew, and Commander Mooney says, "I accept full responsibility." He acknowledges several critical mistakes, including going too fast, taking insufficient depth soundings and failing to cross-check the route with other charts...

"The goal of the routings was to ensure that no other Navy ship would cross the submarine's path, and they laid out a wide track to follow. But some officers had come to view these navigational guides as suggesting a measure of safety. And as the San Francisco left here on Friday, Jan. 7, the team plotting the precise route within that track focused on a single set of charts that, Navy officials agree, usually gave the most detailed view of the seabed.
"Since submarines generally do not use active sonar, with its telltale pings, a good picture can be critical in avoiding mountain ranges rising from the seabed. Relying on charts, though, has always been somewhat hit or miss. Only 10 percent of the oceans have been charted by Navy survey ships. Many charts only include obstacles spotted by warships, commercial vessels or even 18th-century explorers like Captain Cook..."

Sure, there are some problems with the article (seeming to think "Corpsman" is rank like "Petty Officer" or "Commander", a reference to a "smoking room" when he obviously meant "smoking area"), but they really don't detract from the overall excellence of the piece. I highly recommend reading the whole article (five pages).

Staying at PD...

Update 2119 17 May: Although not listed on their website, 60 Minutes Wednesday is apparently still going to be broadcasting their piece on the SFO grounding tomorrow night.

Update 2237 17 May: Still catching up from my trip... from almost a week ago, Lubber's Line has the location of the San Francisco grounding plotted on a chart he ordered that shows the location of the "discolored water" along with SFO's position at the time of the grounding. I was interested to see the relative paucity of soundings in that specific area of the grounding, compared with the area just to the east (which includes two shallow spots).

Update 0728 18 May: More extended excerpts that should last a couple of weeks, and don't require registration.

Latest BRAC News

Just got back home from my trip to Nebraska, so I'm getting caught up. Google News has links to all the latest news on the potential closing of SUBASE New London and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

Staying at PD...

Friday, May 13, 2005

Plan of the Week(end)

Sub-blogging will be light for the next few days; I'm off to the land of the dial-up Internet connection (Malcolm, Nebraska) for a memorial service for my grandfather. In the meantime, feel free to use the comments to discuss the latest base closing news, including:
Where will Sub School be going?
Will Subase New London even be on the list that goes to the President?
If it is, will that be the straw that sinks the whole list?
If the base closes, what'll happen to the Sub Force Museum (and the Nautilus)?
Was the complete incompetence of the Subase NLON Housing Office part of a plan to make Sailors want to see Groton closed?

Going deep...

This is Really, Really Bad...

From Martini's BBS:

On the evening of the Royal wedding, Camilla was becoming somewhat uncomfortable in her regal attire: Unfortunately, the shoes she had worn that day were a bit too small and, by the time the festivities wereover, Camilla was in agony.
When Camilla and Charles withdrew to their bridal suite, the only thing she could think of was getting her ill- fitting shoes off.
The rest of the Royal Family crowded round the door to the bedroom and they heard roughly what they expected, grunts, straining noises and the occasional muffled scream.
Eventually they heard Charles say, "God, that was tight." "There," whispered the Queen. "I told you Camilla was a virgin."
Then, to their surprise, they heard Charles say, "Right. Now for the other one."
This was followed by even more grunting and straining and at last Charles exclaimed, "My God! That was even tighter!"
"That's my boy," said the Duke. "Once a sailor, always a sailor!"

Going deep...

BRAC Targets Groton, Portsmouth

The Pentagon just announced their recommended list of base closings for the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process, and it includes Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, as expected, and Subase New London, which was a bit of a surprise to many. (I had actually heard about it a couple of weeks ago from a fairly credible source, but was of course unable to share. The same source said that Sub School would probably move down south, to King's Bay or Charleston; I haven't seen anything official on that.) The official DOD website for BRAC is located here.
Even though Groton is on the list, this isn't by any means a slam dunk. They were on the list before, in 1993, and survived. A quick summary of reactions from Connecticut (not surprisingly, uniformly negative) can be found in this article.

I'm just glad I sold my house there in 2003...

Staying at PD...

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Mocking and Belittling... Idiotic Idahoans

This one is great... a couple gets a $37 cashiers check from a bank, crudely forges it so that it appears to be for $317,000, drops it off at the title company, and promptly moves into "their" new house. It took only until the next morning for the police to come to their door and arrest them for grand theft (along with forgery and a federal probation violation). As a Boise police detective said, "I don't really have a clue how they thought they could get away with it... It's just totally odd. I guess they thought they were smooth talkers and could get away with it."

Going deep...

USS Drum to Vallejo as Museum Boat?

This article from the Vallejo Times Herald says that a local group is working to raise funds to get the decommissioned submarine USS Drum (SSN-677) transferred back to Mare Island, where it was the last submarine built there, as a museum piece. One item caught my attention:

"With the Drum, Vallejo would be unique since no other city would be able to boast possession of a nuclear-powered submarine, Stephens said. Interest among military buffs, school children, former Mare Island workers, and others would be high."

This will probably surprise the city of Newport, Kentucky, which is much closer to having the ex-USS Narwhal (SSN-671) on display.

As a side note, I think Drum had the best submarine motto of all time: "Unbeatable".

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Mocking and Belittling... Vikings RB Onterrio Smith

This is just wrong on so many levels...

"A search of a bag Smith was carrying April 21 turned up several vials of dried urine and a device called "The Original Whizzinator," which includes a fake penis, bladder and athletic supporter."

Here's the web site for The Original Whizzinator.

Emergency deep...

Polish Submarine "Kondor" Loses Power

(Intel source: The Sub Report) BBC News reports that the ORP Kondor, Poland's newest submarine, developed engine problems on her way to a port visit in Scotland, but that they had made repairs and were expected to arrive later tonight.

Staying at PD...

San Francisco Sailors Speak

Expect this, from KUAM, to be the first of many articles in which submariners of the San Francisco will be able to talk to the press openly. Excerpt:

"...Cornelius continued to explain, "I can assure you that my fiends and coworkers that are part of navigation would have never have done anything intentional to bring the ship into any harm, let alone let so many people were injured and Joseph was killed in the ordeal. We're all friends and they would never do that so it's just unfortunate the turn of events. There's a lot of lessons learned a lot of good practices that are coming out in the Navy's training programs to reevaluate how we do business undersea underway."
"But one important life lesson Cornelius has learned is the brotherhood that is shared between he and his fellow submariners. "Submarines are always known to be a tight-knit group that they're always there for each other," he added. "But it couldn't be more shown enough underway when that day people were uninjured people were ripping off there clothes to bandage their friends and then pulling together to get that ship to get back to their homeport to get back to their family and friends. It's absolutely amazing - absolutely amazing."

Nothing more needs be said...

Update 1714 11 May: Here's another article with interviews with more San Fran Sailors from Pacific News Daily.

Strategy Page on Submarines

James Dunnigan at Strategy Page has a short new article out on the San Francisco grounding that I liked a lot better than his last one.

Also, Willyshake has a discussion on Strategy Page's recent article comparing Oscars and Ohios.

Going deep...

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

New Iranian Submarine? Not Quite...

Various American news outlets are now printing without editing or question a an AP report, datelined Tehran, on a "new" Iranian submarine that the Iranians announced they will be building. Excerpt:

"Iran on Tuesday officially launched production of its first locally built submarine, a craft that can fire missiles and torpedoes at the same time, state-run television reported.
"Defense Ministry spokesman Mohammad Imani was quoted as saying "the enemy would not be able to detect the submarine." He did not elaborate.
"One submarine has apparently already been built and was shown on television Tuesday, cruising at sea level. The Defense Ministry has commissioned an unspecified number of the craft that's been dubbed "Ghadir." Ghadir is a site in the Arabian Peninsula holy to Shiite Muslims, the overwhelming majority of Iran's 69 million people.
"The submarine is capable of operating in the Persian Gulf and Oman sea waters, according to the report, which did not specify the range of its projectiles."

Wow, this sounds bad... the Iranians building their own submarine, which could augment their fleet of three Russian-built Kilo class boats? Well, it turns out that it's not quite so bad; these are actually mini-subs, probably based on ones that Iran apparently bought from North Korea and/or Pakistan in the last 20 years. Here's an interesting excerpt I was able to find on the 'net:

"One foreign military attaché in Tehran said the vessels appeared to be well-engineered but he doubted they had much ballistic capability and were most likely to be used for ferrying troops."

Where do we think that quote came from? From a hard-charging Western journalist eager to find the truth? Nope, it comes straight from the Tehran Times; all the N. American papers are happy to print the non-informative AP story. Anyway, I'm wondering if the submarine they showed on TV today might have been this one...

Update 1234 11 May: Lawhawk has more thoughts... as does Chapomatic, in an untitled (and therefore unlinkable) thread.

Update 1651 11 May: Chapomatic has another post, this one with a nice long title so his html-challenged friends can more easily link to it.

Update 1108 12 May: Chap has even more! Also, welcome, Winds of Change readers.

Better Current USS San Francisco Photos

The Navy finally has the new photos of the San Francisco up on their website, here and here. Also, word on the streets is that 60 Minutes Wednesday will be airing a story on the San Fran grounding on May 18th.

Diving Into the Grounding Report (Part 2)

I finally got a chance to go through the USS San Francisco grounding Investigation Report a little closer, and I was surprised by some of the things I read (or, more specifically, didn’t read). It looks like the Navy learned the lesson from problems from posting IRs on line that they had in Iraq with the Italian agent shooting IR, so I wasn’t able to read what they had under the blacked out portions, but “reading between the lines”, it looks like a lot more was blacked out than just names (which is understandable).

Some of the more interesting things I saw included:

In Admiral Greenert’s endorsement, he states in paragraph 1.B of Encl. (1), that, “Chart 81023 contains a “discolored water” site (surrounded by a “danger line”) 2.5 nautical miles (NM) south of USS San Francisco’s intended track and 2.0 – 2.8 NM from the grounding location. The light blue coloring of this “discolored water” feature reflects a navigation hazard at 20 meters (66 feet) depth or less, leading one to conclude that a larger navigation hazard exists in deeper water, particularly at 525 feet.” I personally think that this is a little disingenuous; the light blue coloring to me would not represent a hazard known to be less than 20 meters deep, but rather a default color used when they aren’t sure of the depth. I can’t remember exactly, but I know that there are several other potential hazards listed on these charts which may also have this default “light blue color”; such hazards include possible shipwreck sites, unexploded ordnance, and the like. No sub that I know of routes themselves around the “unexploded ordnance” marks on the charts, so I’m imagining a scenario where a boat happened to be passing by a 60 year old bomb that exploded as they were passing, causing damage. Would the Sub Force then do the same thing to that ship as they are to the navigation team of the San Francisco? My guess would be “yes”. Later, he states, in para. 4.B, that “Generally speaking, “Echo series” bottom contour charts are considered the most complete and accurate charts for submerged navigation.” Again, I can’t remember for sure, but I’m pretty sure that Echo series charts (like the one San Fran was using) do show “discolored water” on them fairly frequently, so it’s not as if it’s known that you have to transfer discolored water from other charts to your Echo series chart. Sometimes the Navy finds things that are not necessarily correct on other, non-classified charts, and as long as they’re not an additional danger those charts don’t show, I don’t think the Navy goes out of their way to correct the commercial charts. Not that the San Fran shouldn’t have transferred the information, but I don’t know that many other boats would have limited their transit speed because of this information.

Throughout the document, but particularly in para. 4 on page 107, it refers to the “CO’s own Standing Orders” as if the ship, and by extension the CO, were violating requirements that the CO came up with on his own. In actuality, the CO’s Standing Orders are put out by the Sub Force; COs are free to add additional items, but I think all the items that the ship violated were those imposed by higher authority. (If I remember right, part of the TRE checklist is to ensure the CO’s Standing Orders haven’t deleted anything from the Force-wide product.) Not that this makes the violation any less real, it’s just that the tone of the report (“The CO’s own Standing Orders specifically point out the danger of reliance on a single item for safe navigation”) seems weighted towards making the ship seem more culpable.

I was interested in some things that were not blanked out with respect to external inspections on the ship, and some that seemingly remained blacked out. On page 78, para. 414, it discusses the ship’s last Tactical Readiness Examination (TRE), and mentions that the ship was evaluated as Below Average in Open Ocean Navigation. Normally, I would expect a squadron to take advantage of a subsequent Navigation Evaluation to determine if corrective actions had been taken for such a grade. On pages 79-80, the report mentions a Nav Eval, but all the comments there are blacked out, as is the overall evaluation. I wonder why the TRE area grade is considered to now be unclassified, but not the overall grade on the Nav Eval? Maybe they just don’t want to put out as unclassified things that are the opinion of just one person. Well, it turns out that that’s not true, because we see, in paragraphs 420 and 421, comments from a CDR (probably a Squadron Deputy) doing the ship’s POMCERT workup that aren’t too flattering. OK, we know that TRE grades were declassified, and since a POMCERT is basically a TRE, then I’m sure that San Fran’s POMCERT grade is included in the report as well. Nope – para. 417 on page 80 has the final grade on the POMCERT, as well as Navigation area grade, blanked out. I’m not quite sure how classification issues may come into this (TRE grades OK to publish, but not POMCERT grades) but I’m thinking it might be possible that the ship, in it’s last formal evaluation before the grounding, did better, which might call into question the abilities of the examining team(?)

Lastly, a comment from Eagle1's post on this issue is interesting (Eagle1 has added a couple of good updates to his original post, so if you haven't seen it in the last couple of days, it's worth going back to):

"(T)here were no factors beyond the ship's control which caused , or dramatically affected, circumstances that led to the grounding." Read para 74 on page 121 - looks like the Admiral did not read his own report."

Eagle1 posts the referenced part of the report:
"74.(U) The omission of the reported navigation hazard on the E2202 directly contributed to the grounding in that it is reasonable to assume that had the feature been added to the E2202, it would have influenced the CSG-7 SUBNOTE generation process and provided the SAN FRANCISCO's navigation team another opportunity to identify the navigation hazard near their track. (references omitted)"

Overall, the report does go into many problems outside the ship, including the numerous violations of CTF 74 SOP by the SubGru Seven Operations Department. Hopefully the proposed corrective actions included within this report will go a long way towards preventing a similar tragedy, but I can’t help but feel that this unclassified release of the report was edited to make the San Fran navigation team seem like an anomaly, rather than representative of the state of navigation throughout the fleet in January 2005. Reading the report would make it seem to a layman that there were a host of things wrong with the ship, but I bet that had a team gone down to any attack boat and done the same kind of review, they would have found a similar number of deficiencies. My belief, which is unchanged after reading the report, is that the San Francisco did no worse in responding to the situation they were placed in than would a majority of the boats of the Force, and I continue to ask: Is pulling the black marble a criminal offense?

Staying at PD...

Monday, May 09, 2005

Reaction to 711 Report from MM2(SS) Ashley's Father

The AP story that's been making the rounds of all the newspapers and web sites has a couple of quotes from the father of MM2(SS) Joseph Ashley, the submariner who died in the San Francisco grounding. The article on is typical:

"Ashley's father, Dan, received the report Friday and said he was not surprised with its findings. He expressed concern about the vessel's "sub notes," which are created by senior Navy commanders to chart the vessel's course and sent to crews before they embark on a mission.
Had Navy officials corrected those notes, "the accident would've never happened and my son would still be alive," said Ashley, who served in the Navy for eight years."

I was interested to read some further comments from Mr. Ashley in his local newpaper, the Akron Beacon-Journal. (May require registration) Here are some excerpts:

"The father of a Summit County sailor killed in a January submarine accident believes there are more to blame for his son's death than those who have been disciplined so far.
"Dan Ashley's reaction came following the release this weekend of a 124-page Navy report that concludes the accident that killed Manchester High School graduate Joseph Ashley could have been avoided...
"...Dan Ashley, a resident of New Franklin who works for Babcock & Wilcox in Barberton, said Sunday that guilt should be shared by those who wrote haphazard ``subnotes'' -- papers he described as the map provided to the submarine for its journey in the Pacific.
"Ashley, 53, said he and his family have forgiven Cmdr. Kevin Mooney and the other six who apologized for their roles in the accident...
"...Ashley said the release of the report over Mother's Day weekend was extremely difficult for his wife Vicki and their family.
``Today is a bad day,'' Ashley said Sunday."

These thoughts of a grieving father who obviously doesn't want anyone else to suffer the pain that he and his family are feeling are quite understandable. I'm not sure if he wants those he feels are also responsible to be punished, or just accept guilt. I personally don't want to see anyone else punished, but I'd like it if the Navy would perhaps let people know that the actions of the San Francisco navigation team were not completely out of line with normal fleet practices, and let people know that needed force-wide changes, if any, are being made.

Diving Into the Grounding Report

Eagle1 has done a good job of starting to look over the official declassified report on the San Francisco grounding. I'm hoping to look at it a little more closely tonight, and hope to have something useful to add to Eagle1's remarks. (One small little nit-pick; I think the chart that Eagle1 provided has the grounding location about 160nm south of the actual location).

Staying at PD...

Staff Officer Quotes 6

In honor of President Bush's visit to Tbilisi:

“From the Russian point of view, the US being in Georgia is like the teenage boy who shows up to take your daughter out on a date. No matter what he says, you know what he’s got on his mind…”

And, just because I think it's funny:

"When it comes to getting ahead in today's Air Force, it's not ass-kissing that makes the difference…it’s the tongue action that really separates the men from the boys."
Lt Col (EUCOM)

Sunday, May 08, 2005

"Don't Repress Me With Your So-Called 'Logic'"

I was going to have a nice snarky post about the wacko French "documentarians" and nutjob British engineer who have the "Memphis and/or Toledo sank the Kursk" story back in the news, but WillyShake beat me to it, and I really can't improve on what he says. I did dig up a tin-foil hat website (WARNING: this guy is really a couple cans short of a six-pack) that has some on the pictures the moonbats used in coming up with their "theory". The easiest way to dismiss the theory is to remember that many of the people were selling it by saying, "The fact that the Memphis came into port is proof that they had a collision, since nuclear submarines never pull into port when they're on deployment." Alternately, we can remember that French nutjobs were behind the "Flight 77 never hit the Pentagon, but instead Bush planted a bomb there" theory.

Going deep... (unless this story has legs...)

PacFleet Investigation Report for San Francisco

Got nothing to do this Mother's Day? CPF has issued the USS San Francisco grounding investigation report, coming in at 124 pages (link takes you to a page where you can download the report in 20 page sections.) Names are blacked out, and probably some other stuff. One of the interesting things is that you can see how they have to go through and administratively declassify secret documents. Happy reading!

Saturday, May 07, 2005

New Pic of the San Francisco

(Intel Source: The Sub Report) Pacific Daily News has a story and new picture of USS San Francisco in drydock. Excerpts from the story:

"The Navy reports that a new large steel dome -- about 20 feet high and 20 feet long -- was installed in place of the damaged one.
"The Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard is overseeing the overall process, which involves personnel from Pearl Harbor, the Guam Shipyard and other local contractors.
"The release also states repair and damage assessment have been completed. The temporary repairs to the bow provide enough support for the submarine to move on its own power to another shipyard, where more extensive capabilities are available.
"However, a decision has yet to be made as to when the submarine will make its voyage, where it will go and what its final disposition will be. Also, no decision has been made on the next course of action for the submarine's crew."

Interestingly, the press released mentioned in the story hasn't been posted on the Naval Forces Marianas web site as of 2000 MDT. Here's the new picture:

Staying at PD...

Around the Sub-Blogosphere

Molten Eagle found a story about some Reactor Department problems aboard USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76).

Lubber's Line has several good new posts up, including one about the only armed SSBN missile test.

Alexander... you still around, dude? It's been a month... Steve? Almost as much time since your last post. We miss you guys, and hope to be reading more great stuff from you again soon.

WillyShake gets enough damned traffic from a bunch of Higher Beings without needing me to link to him to tell you he has a most excellent blog...

I don't think I remember mentioning that we have a new Canadian subblogger over at Seven tubes and still smokin'...

What the heck?!? Just visit all of the fine bloggers I have listed to the right... you'll be glad you did...

Going deep...

NYT Writer In Guam

New York Times writer Christopher Drew, famous as the co-author of Blind Man's Bluff, is in Guam doing interviews related to the USS San Francisco grounding. While I'll be interested to see if the Navy makes any San Francisco crewmen available to talk to him, it looks like his first article is actually fairly balanced. (Expect to have registration required soon.) Some excerpts:

"In a report to be released here on Sunday, the Navy pins most of the blame on the top officers of the submarine. But investigators also have found that deficiencies in navigation charts and in giving the submarine its routing helped set the stage for the accident, Navy officials said.
The submarine, the San Francisco, was traveling at top speed and at a depth of more than 500 feet when it smashed into the mountain on Jan. 8...

"Yet it turns out that neither the submarine's crew nor the officers onshore who set its basic routing studied those charts. Investigators found that they relied instead on the one chart that did not show the danger zone, which gave them all the impression that the submarine's track was clear...
"The submarine's captain and six other crew members were relieved of duty after the accident. Under Navy rules, they had the primary responsibility for keeping the vessel safe.
Navy officials said the crew should have cross-checked all the charts for the area and taken more frequent depth soundings. The accident occurred amid the Caroline Islands, just north of the Equator. And given how much is known about other undersea mountains in that area, the submarine should have been going much slower than 33 knots, officials say...

"The investigation also found that the route that the San Francisco was given through the Caroline Islands had never been used before - and that the officer who created it sent it to the submarine only two days before it left Guam, rather than three to five days in advance, as required under Navy rules. According to another recent Navy report, submarines had made 10 successful transits through the Caroline Islands over the five years before the accident. But the office that plans the routes in that area - a part of the Navy's Seventh Fleet, based in Japan - did not have a system to keep track of past routings. Navy officials said that office was supposed to produce routes that were navigationally feasible, and that the San Francisco's officers mistakenly assumed that their track had been tested before. But the officials said it was still up to the submarine's crew to spot the discrepancies in the charts and be more cautious."...

A couple points stood out for me: For one, I don't think that all seven personnel punished were relieved of their duties; the junior enlisted weren't, to the best of my knowledge, they were only busted. Also, it surprises me that "officials" would mention a speed of anything other than "in excess of 25 knots" for the "top speed" of the San Francisco.

In saying that the sub should have been going much slower than the speed listed, the Navy is tacitly acknowledging to those who understand submarine routing that the only way the San Fran could have avoided this was to request a modification to their track or speed of advance; with as narrow as the track was, and with the reported "discolored water" being three miles from the actual location of the seamount, they would have had to be shallow and slow for a pretty good chunk of the transit, which would have made it difficult to keep up with their assigned PIM speed. (PIM = "position of intended movement", "position and intended movement", or "points of intended movement"; the PIM speed is the average speed you're supposed to make good on your transit of a given area.) Once again, those with 20/20 hindsight have no problem questioning the actions of those who didn't have this benefit.

On the plus side, I was happy to see that the Navy is starting to acknowledge that there may have been more systemic problems; it appears, though, that they're still stopping short of acknowledging that many other crews would have done the same thing if put in the same situation. I'm also wondering if anyone will ask the Sub Force brass if, since they consider the actions of the San Fran navigation team to be so egregious, what precautions did they take to ensure subs of the Force were not making these mistakes in advance of the grounding? Did they present scenarios for Tactical Readiness Exams that tested a boat's ability to pick the right chart for a badly charted area? Did they have open ocean navigation scenarios where there was a bad sounding, and see if the boat requested a modification to their movement orders? Gee, this second-guessing game is fun!

In other San Francisco news, KUAM reports that repairs have been made to San Francisco's bow, but they don't have any new pictures. (Update 2004 07 May: A new picture is posted two entries up.) Also, I've heard that 60 Minutes is part of the same press junket that brought Christopher Drew to the island and is doing interviews for an upcoming story.

Staying at PD...

Update 2346 07 May: Here's the AP wire story on the release of the official Navy report on the San Francisco grounding.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

A Series of Non-Retractions

Considering that Col. David Hackworth passed on yesterday, I won't use my usual hyperbole in discussing the new San Francisco article by Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.). Here's an excerpt:

"There are those who would dismiss the grounding as a pure "act of God" with the San Francisco's commander and crew having zero responsibility to foresee or avoid the seamount. Precise and worldwide cartography is expensive, so the mapmakers can produce and update charts only as they are able.
"The profession of the sea has built in cautions and methods whereby navigators are enjoined to do certain things that ensure safety. When passing near hazards or making landfall on an unknown coast, these procedures will tend to keep the ship safe. Only in the last decade have navigators begun to shrink this margin of safety to just a few miles instead of the ship, rather than the tens of miles once used.
"There are procedures for ships that note errors on charts to send messages to the mapmakers advising them of errors or conflicts so that the cartographers can improve them. Two as-yet unanswered questions from the mishap on Jan. 8 are: How many submarines have transited this part of The Carolines archipelago and noted erroneous soundings? And did any of them file a message with the mapmakers as required?
"In moving three submarines to a new homeport in Guam, did the Pacific Submarine Force Commander ask his Staff Oceanographer to review charts near Guam and update those that needed updating?"

While it looks like he may have finally gotten some real information, I note that he still neglects to retract his previous accusations that RADM Gove was riding the San Francisco when she grounded, and until he does, I won't retract my previous characterization of Perry as an asshat.

Going deep...

HMCS Chicoutimi Findings Released

The official investigation report from the Board of Inquiry into the HMCS Chicoutimi fire officially cleared the Captain and crew of all criminal wrong-doing. The explanation that Vice Adm. Bruce MacLean, Canadian CNO, gave as was as to "why" was interesting:

"It was a unique event, an isolated event... It was not (foreseen), but it did create a significant vulvernability that we had to deal with."

Kind of like running into an uncharted seamount, maybe?

Highlights from the BOI report include:

-Fire was the result of sea water splashing on high-voltage cables.
-No one to blame for death of Lieut. Chris Saunders.
-Submarine was safe and ready to proceed to sea at the time of the accident.
-Submarine emergency breathing system, masks and oxygen hoses to be updated.
-Navy to develop better firefighting training.

I join the rest of the world-wide submarine community in extending my continued condolences to the family and shipmates of Lt. Chris Saunders, and hope that this report gives them some degree of closure.