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.)

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

USS San Francisco and Chart Discrepancies

(Update with discussion of Chap's excellent latest post at the bottom)

A Navy Times writer has an update on USS San Francisco's surface transit from Guam to Puget Sound. SFO arrived in Pearl for a short liberty call on Friday, and will continue her voyage this week:
"Fortunately, the weather cooperated during San Francisco's 11-day Pacific crossing, said Cmdr. Kevin Brenton, commanding officer.
"It was a very uneventful crossing," Brenton said.
"San Francisco left Guam on Aug. 17, and arrived in Pearl Harbor on the afternoon of Aug. 26.
"The trip from Guam to Puget Sound may be the longest taken on the surface in the history of the Navy's nuclear-powered sub fleet, he said."

That last sentence sounds like it might be right. I know of several boats that have gone from San Diego to Pearl or Puget on the surface (old 594s going for decomm after their submerged ops certifications were pulled) but Guam to Puget might take the cake. It's probably not the most arduous surface transit for a nuke boat, though, due to the Pacific's normally nice August weather. I remember a few years ago USS Seawolf (SSN-21) had to return to Groton on the surface across most of the North Atlantic after they had a problem with their emergency blow system... a couple of my JOs from the Connecticut were riding them for quals, and got more surfaced OOD U/I time than they'd ever bargained for.

Back to the San Francisco -- you may remember that one of the reasons the Sub Force came down so hard on the Nav Team was that they hadn't identified some chart discrepancies; this was enough to fire the CO, and punish the rest of the team. So, you'd assume that since other COs haven't been fired, that this was the first time a Nav team had ever missed chart discrepancies. Think again...

An unclassified COMNAVSUBFOR message came out yesterday that provided an update on the number of chart discrepancies reported as of 01 Aug by fleet units since April. The message said 98 discrepancies had been reported, of which 26 had been closed, and 33 Notice to Mariners had been written. Now, let's assume that at least one of those discrepancies covered an area that was in the water assigned to a submarine at some point after the discrepancy existed, but before it was found. Why haven't that CO and Nav Team been brought up on charges? Obviously, that would be silly, but it still serves to confirm my point that the CO and Navigation Team of the 711 were punished, not because their actions were so different from the fleet norm that it constituted negligence, but because they were unlucky.

Going deep...

Bell-ringer 0528 01 Sep: Chapomatic "throws the bullsh*t flag" on my post over at his place, and I sleepily respond. The points he brings up are all valid, and are all pretty much what I always thought when I was active duty. I'm not sure what made me change my mind; it might have been that I had orders to be XO on USS Hartford (SSN-768), and would have been there the day she ran aground off La Madd if I hadn't gotten med disqual'd, and I deep down wonder if I could have prevented that tragedy. (Notice I'm not saying that punishments weren't appropriate there.) It might have been the actions of the Navy in punishing everyone doing anything "wrong" during the USS Jacksonville's most recent collision, including the EOOW because the throttleman was polishing brightwork on watch -- wrong, yes, but if every EOOW who ever had a throttleman polish something on watch got a career-ending letter of reprimand, there wouldn't be many senior officers in the Force. (As a disclaimer, that CO on Jacksonville was my XO on Topeka, and I liked him a lot. I caught myself a few times saying to fellow submariners, in describing him after the collision, that "He was a good man", as if his goodness was past tense now that he had screwed up.) It might have been any of the other times I saw people punished for "pulling the black marble". I've always felt that intent in doing something wrong was more important than doing something wrong unintentionally, and that if the Sub Force thinks that they need the extra example of career-ending punishments to get people to take the lessons learned from the SFO grounding to heart, they don't understand submariners very well.

Please keep the discussion going in the comments while I'm at work...

Update 2332 01 Sep: Chap has many more thougts over at his place, and I respond. The thing is, I think that everything Chap says is "right", while I also think what I say is "right", even though the two points of view disagree. Maybe you need that kind of mental gym ability to be a submariner...
Anyway, here's part of my response (edited slightly):

"Deep down, I actually agree with a lot of what you’re saying — I’m still a nuke at heart. San Fran wasn’t perfect. There’s no need to get everyone worked up and air all our dirty laundry publicly. We’ve always punished the unlucky before, so it wouldn’t be fair to those who’ve gone before not to punish them now.
"On my first WestPac, we had this one exercise with USS Ranger and her escorts where we were supposed to “attack” them as they did an unrep. It wasn’t on a range, there were no real rules — in hindsight, it was a recipe for disaster, compliance with FXP-1 notwithstanding. We got ahead of them, simulated the attack, radioed them with our "triple Oscar" and our bearing, and went deep. We were heading back up to PD a few minutes later with the CO on the scope, when one of the constant bearing traces on the AVSDU started breaking sharply, and we went back down. I was on Fire Control, and stacked the dots to figure out that we had just been zoufed by a frigate (USS Ford, if I remember right) at about 200 yards. Had we hit the frigate (they were charging down the bearing the “torpedo” had come from) there would have been a lot of damage, maybe even a sinking (or two). Everyone involved in planning and approving the exercise would have been fired, and rightly so. But, because we were 200 yards to the north of where the frigate just happened to go, no one cares. So, because of this piece of luck, or act of God, or whatever, no one was punished. Imagine a parallel universe where everything happened the same up to the point we opened contact after our first attack on course 270 instead of course 280. In this scenario, the DIMUS trace doesn’t break (it truly is a zero bearing rate), there is a collision, and everyone would have been punished because of the poor planning. Identical planning as in the scenario where no one was hurt, but different results because of pure luck. Is this justice? I don’t think so. Is this the way we’ve always done it? Yes. Does this dichotomy promote safer and more effective submarining? Maybe… but I don’t think it does."

Best... On-Line Poll Option... Ever

From the Camden County, Georgia, Tribune & Georgian website comes what I think is the most revealing on-line poll option I've ever seen. It's on the left side of the page of either the main page, or these BRAC-related articles, and asks:

"What do you think about the BRAC commission decision to keep Naval Submarine Base, New London, open and not transfer some of its submarines to Kings Bay?"

Now some of the options are fairly uninspired, such as "We should just be thankful that Kings Bay wasn’t on the list of bases to be closed" and "It’s a terrible shame the BRAC commission allowed emotional politics to keep them from making a sound fiscal decision and closing an antiquated base". The best option for this boomer haven, though, and unfortunately currently running in last place, is this: "We did not need all those attack sub sailors running around here anyway." Absolutely classic. They obviously know that the fast attack tough guys would drink all their beer and date all their daughters... or swim in their toilets and piss in their pools... or whatever else fast boat Sailors do on liberty.

Going deep...

Tuesday, August 30, 2005

New Orleans and "Martial Law"

Now I admit I haven't been watching TV, but I'm a little hesitant to fully believe the reports that New Orleans has been placed under "martial law" (or, as this local TV station says, "marshal law"). I've checked on both the Lousiana Governor's office website and the New Orleans city website and neither of them mention such an announcement. The New Orleans website has a blurb that says a "state of emergency" has been declared, but that's a long way from martial law, under which people are tried by military tribunals.

A lot of people are passing this information on, including Michelle Malkin. From what I'm reading, I'd say the state of emergency is empowering police and National Guard units to enforce a curfew, but I really don't expect we'll see looters being tried by courts martial. Until I see an official announcement, I'll say that these reports are coming from people who don't understand what "martial law" really means.

Staying at PD...

Update 1014 30 Aug: Immediately after I posted this, I found that Donald Sensing has much more, in much greater detail.

Update 1330 30 Aug: A commenter at One Hand Clapping dug up the applicable Louisiana statute dealing with a "state of emergency". In the meantime, the most recent UPI story still says "martial law" was declared. Many of this type of story claim to get their information from "state officials", but it's clear these unnamed officials don't know what they're talking about. Some of the websites that originally announced the "news" are now retracting the claims.

Update 2115 30 Aug: Via Michelle Malkin, we get what appears to be the definitive word on the question of whether or not martial law was declared in Louisiana (short answer -- No):

"The state Attorney General's office on Tuesday sought to clarify reports in some media that "martial law' has been declared in parts of storm-ravaged southeast Louisiana, saying no such term exists in Louisiana law.
"But even though no martial law exists, Gov. Kathleen Blanco's declaration of a state of emergency gives authorities widespread latitude to suspend civil liberties as they try to restore order and bring victims to safety. Under the Louisiana Homeland Security and Emergency Assistance and Disaster Act of 1993, the governor and, in some cases, chief parish officials, have the right to commandeer or utilize any private property if necessary to cope with the emergency..."

Update 2301 31 Aug: It looks like the Mayor of New Orleans announced this evening that the city is under "martial law". I suppose he can call it whatever he wants, and I'll support him, but unless he's planning on having the military conduct the trials, it isn't the martial law I learned about in the various Military Justice courses I took. (Basically, the demarcation line is whether or not civilian courts remain open in the affected area.)

Update 2238 08 Sep: This article in Slate also explains why "martial law" isn't a good description of the current state of emergency in New Orleans.

Cold War ASW

Bored? Got a few hours to kill? I just found (via Rontini's BBS) a 115 page Adobe report on Cold War ASW from the Naval War College that looks fascinating. From the introduction:

"Since the beginning of the twentieth century, submarines have been the weapon of choice for weaker naval powers that wish to contest a dominant power’s control
of the seas or its ability to project power ashore from the sea. This is because submarines have been and are likely to remain the weapon system with the highest leverage in a battle for control of the ocean surface. Hence, antisubmarine warfare (ASW) will always remain the most important element of the U.S. Navy’s core mission—sea control.
"Since the middle of the twentieth century, submarines have also become a weapon of the strong, both because they became a major if not the dominant platform for performing ASW, and because they also became a dominant means of projecting power from the sea, first as a nuclear delivery platform, and now, at the end of the century, as a conventional precision strike platform.
"For the U.S. Navy, maintaining superiority in ASW and maximizing its ability to project power from the sea will require innovative contributions by each of its platform communities in new mission areas, as it did during the Cold War. It is likely that the sources of victory in these future endeavors will be similar to those that gave the Navy a great victory in the Third Battle."

I plan to read it when I get a chance; if you have time now, check it out!

Going deep...

Monday, August 29, 2005

A Small Confession...

As those of you who have read this site for a while know, I have a disturbing obsession: following the antics of the wacky moonbats over at the Democratic Underground discussion boards. I don't know why I delight in the self-inflicted misery of these poor, deluded people; as others have said, it's as if they're the inmates of some insane asylum, looking out from their padded cells at the people on the outside and wondering why they just don't get it. In the same way some people like to watch slow-motion train wrecks, I enjoy reading the unintended self-mocking world within which these sad souls choose to live.

The thing is, there are clearly people who post over there as a joke, and I don't know how many of the most outlandish threads are from people like me who enjoy seeing the reaction they get to holding forth on the latest BushKKKrime (Bush caused the Asian tsunami, the Louisiana National Guard is wrong to try to stop looters; the list goes on). I feel that posting over there would be like messing with a giant sociology experiment, but I wanted to try my hand at writing moonbatty rants. That's why I was so happy when I found BlameBush!. There, I could write the most outlandish comments I could come up with, and other commenters would top them. I was home at last.

Now, for people who feel the same way about feminism that I do about tin-foil-hatters, the beautiful and talented Cassandra has led me to a new website in the BlameBush! mold: (Warning: this website contains bad words!) The "womyn" who run this website are brilliant; there's no other word for it. Check out this passage from their latest entry:

"But I’ve come-across a recent article which confirms my best suspicions: It seems that the Swedish government’s equality office is 90% female! What better way to ensure gender-balance than to entrust it to such a gender-balanced group? This is exactly what us feminists mean whenever we rant about “equality”:
The Swedish government’s unit for coordinating equality policies and distributing funding to equality organisations has come under fire for its own inequality: only 3 out of 28 employees are men.
“It’s not good. A more equal gender balance is important to show that they are serious about these issues,” said Eva Nikell at the Equality Ombudsman’s office, Jämo, to TT.
"Whoa there Eva, back-up for a sec. “Not good”? What’s not good about it?
A department that is 90% female is already gender-balanced!
"Look, when an organization is over 50% male it deserves an hour-long foot-stomping tirade on the sexism inherent in such an institution. But as soon as an organization has a disproportionate surplus of wymin among its staff, then gender-equality is no longer important.
"We demand gender-parity, except for the places which already have a female-majority. That’s when the need for equality vanishes like magic. POOF!
"And to extend the same femi-reasoning: a department which is 100% female would be the most balanced department you could ever find anywhere. It would deserve rapturous applause and acclaim for being so progressive on gender equality. Ahh, it brings a tingling sensation to my thighs just thinking about it."

I bow down before the authors of such incredible satire...

Update 2003 29 Aug: It turns out that is a take-off on a real feminist website, (which is unintentionally funny). Check out the differences between the icons in the top left corner of each site if you get a chance.

Another thing that amuses me about many liberals is their complete inability to appreciate humor. ["Who has time to be funny while the Bushitler/Cheney/Halliburton/Major League Baseball corporate fascists are ruining the world", they'll explain.] For an example, check out this post from someone who doesn't appreciate what is trying to do.

Update 0902 30 Aug: Kind of off topic -- check out this post at CDR Salamander's place for anecdotes of how the academic left really "supports the troops".

USS Bataan Ready To Help Gulf Coast

USS Bataan (LHD-5) is standing by to assist where needed along the Gulf Coast in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, according to Second Fleet HQ:

"The amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) and other U.S. Navy assets are making preparations to provide assistance in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, if needed. Bataan is currently underway in the Gulf of Mexico and standing by to provide assistance as needed in hurricane-affected areas.
"Based in Norfolk, Bataan is underway for previously scheduled operations, and will remain in the vicinity of impacted areas until otherwise directed. If called upon, Bataan brings unique humanitarian capabilities to the scene."

As you might remember, several Navy vessels, including the USS Bonhomme Richard and ESG-5 (home of deserter Pablo Paredes) provided vital assistance in the aftermath of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster.

Occasionally, when a natural disaster hits somewhere where submarines are based, people will suggest using the submarine to generate electricity for the stricken area. I remember hearing about this actually happening once, in Hawaii (I think at Lanai, if I remember the submarine urban legend right). I also remember an idiotic suggestion during the first wave of rolling blackouts in SoCal back in 2000 or so that submarines be used to provide peak-hour supplemental electricity to the power grid; some congressman made an official inquiry, and Naval Reactors had to jump through hoops to explain how stupid it would be. (I can't find any good links, although this one mentions the plan in the comments.) Basically, if you got new heavy duty shore power cables, and defeated the reverse power interlock, a sub could provide enough electricity for maybe 500-1000 homes; not too much, and when you consider the costs of the fuel that would be burned providing it, and the human cost of having all the nukes go into shiftwork in port, it'd be the most expensive electricity in history.

Update 2255 29 Aug: And what was USS Bataan doing in the Gulf of Mexico? (I know I was wondering that myself.) It looks like they were returning from PANAMAX 2005, the multi-national exercise to practice defending the Panama Canal.

"The participating countries for this year’s PANAMAX included host nation Panama, Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Peru and the United States, as well as observers from Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, France, Mexico and Uruguay.
"With each country represented at the closing ceremony, remarks were given by the combined forces' commanders, as well as the combined task group commanders in the Pacific, Caribbean and coastal arenas. Each commander highlighted cooperative achievements, some of which were unprecedented.
“Twenty-four surface units deployed in support of the Panama Canal. [There were] 28 boardings in four days – 18 compliant, eight non-compliant, two opposed,” said Capt. David Costa, Combined Forces Maritime Component commander. “The multinational forces achieved complete Maritime Domain Awareness. Not a vessel got through us without being queried.”
"U.S. Navy ships parcipating in PANAMAX included USS Bataan (LHD 5), USS Thomas S. Gates (CG 51), USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 56), USS Devastator (MCM 9), USS Scout (MCM 6) and HSV Swift (HSV 2). They operated in the Caribbean and Pacific along with ships from Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Panama and Peru."

Update 2113 30 Aug: Eagle1 has more on the Navy (and other military) response.

Update 1056 05 Sep: It looks like USS Bataan was being underused for the last week. I've got a feeling that FEMA could use some Navy liaison-type people.

Update 2231 05 Sep: The Navy responds:

"The multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) completed its seventh day of Hurricane Katrina humanitarian relief efforts in the storm-ravaged Gulf Coast region Sept. 5.
"Four MH-53E Sea Dragon helicopters from Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron (HM) 15, based out of Corpus Christi, Texas, five MH-60 Seahawks from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28, based out of Norfolk, Va., and Bataan’s air department have conducted flight operations almost around the clock to assist in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts...
"... To date, the two squadrons have transported 1,613 displaced people and delivered more than 100,000 pounds of cargo.
"Bataan also provided 8,000 gallons of fresh drinking water to the ravished Gulfport, Miss., area. Sailors filled eight 500-gallon water bladders with the ship’s potable water and HM-15’s MH-53 helicopters transported them from Bataan to shore.
"The ship also demonstrated its sea power when a landing craft unit from Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, based out of Naval Amphibious Base Little Creek, Va., traveled up the Mississippi River to conduct a survey of the river just days after the hurricane ripped through the area. The LCU was gone for three days before returning to the ship’s welldeck."

Now granted, there isn't much to identify how many of the rescues and deliveries were done in the immediate aftermath of the storm, or if they were all done in the last couple of days. My guess is that the truth lies somewhere in the middle of what the Tribune story reports and anything official the Navy puts out.

Update 0052 07 Sep: Here's the official photo gallery of the Navy's response to the crisis.

Update 1001 07 Sep: Power Line Blog has much more on the "controversy" over the utilization of USS Bataan, including quotes from ship's officers. Much more discussion over at The Q and O Blog.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Brit Subs Sharing Parts

Disturbing report from the Sunday Mirror in London today. It seems that the Royal Navy has run low on spare parts for their nuclear subs, and the subsequent need to resort to cannibalization has turned about half their boats into "parts shops" for the other half.

"Cash-strapped Royal Navy bosses cannot afford to replace parts, so submarine captains at HM Naval Base Clyde are having to "borrow" vital equipment from other vessels before going to sea. "This means that only two of Faslane's four nuclear subs are operational at one time - with the others stuck in dry dock.
"It affects our fleet of four Vanguard submarines - HMS Victorious, Vigilant, Vengeance and Vanguard - the "cornerstone" of Britain's nuclear deterrent. The subs, which carry Trident II D5 missiles, also share sonar, air purification and escape equipment.
"Ministry of Defence bosses last night said cannibalisation of subs - called Storob - was a cost-effective way of running the fleet after cutbacks meant pounds 310million was slashed off the Navy's maintenance budget."

The problem with cannibalization is that sensitive equipment, like perscopes, run the risk of breaking each time they're removed or re-installed. That's why the U.S. fleet tries to avoid the practice as much as possible; sometimes you have to do it, but each request has to get pretty high up the chain of command to get approved. Hopefully the Brits will be able to spring some money loose for their subs.

(Intel Source: The Sub Report)

Movie Review: "The Brothers Grimm"

Went and saw "The Brothers Grimm" for my birthday this weekend. As most of the reviews have said, it was visually stunning, with really good set work; it looked just like I've always imagined Germany in the 1800s would look (on the few occasions I've thought about that.) Matt Damon and Heath Ledger did a pretty good job; I had no trouble believing they were brothers, and I understood their motivations. I also understood the motivation of the "final boss" baddie at the end. Everything else about the movie, though, confused me to no end.

Don't get me wrong; I normally like Terry Gilliam's work, and I'm a big Monty Python fan. The problem with the movie is that the story just didn't work; other than the main characters, I didn't understand why anyone else was doing what they were doing. It seemed like they'd get to a point in the script and say, "Well, I don't see any way for the heroes to get out of this; let's have one of the bad guys become a good guy for no apparent reason". I thought that maybe I'd get more out of it by sleeping on it overnight, but it didn't help. The script sucked. My teenage sons weren't even able to suspend disbelief enough to like it.

Don't waste your money on this picture; wait for it to come out on HBO or whatever. Bottom line: like Stealth before it, I give this movie "the finger".

HTML Coding

Because I need a place to keep this available for my use, I'm providing a link to a good basic HTML coding website. This is useful for people who want to dress up their web sites, or even do simple things like putting hyperlinks into their comments.

To make this post somewhat submarine-related, and in a stunning display of inappropriate transition, it looks like Navy NewsStand finally removed the assertion that President Carter hadn't recently been to sea on a sub in the text accompanying all but one of the photos of the Carter's time at sea aboard USS Jimmy Carter. I'll actually take credit for this one, since I wrote them about the error and got a reply that they'd look into it. Hooray for me the truth! [I do notice, however, that they still say that the Carter's embarked "for and overnight tour", despite the fact that I warned them about that particular typo. I guess they didn't want to completely admit all their mistakes.]

Going deep...

Why Was Groton On The BRAC List?

Among many in the military, and especially those who served on major staffs, the tendency has been to blame any poorly-received change that comes down the pike directly on Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld and his minions. There's no doubt that he's trying to transform the military from a Cold War organization to one that is more agile and, in theory, better able to respond to emergencies in the 21st century. The main question is whether he's going too far...

Therefore, many saw Rumsfeld's hand at the tiller when Sub Base New London showed up on the 2005 Base Closure List. Now that the base has been removed from the list, many in Connecticut are looking at why they got put on the list in the first place, and how they can avoid this in the future. An excellent article from The Day (may require free registration tomorrow) focuses blame on one man: former Chief of Naval Operations Vern Clark. Clark, a known skimmer, was originally appointed in 2000, so no one can say that he was Rumsfeld's man from the start. Here's what the article has to say, in part:

"Although the commission did not address it directly, there were also critics of the Pentagon proposal who are convinced that the recommendation was politically motivated — not a “Red State vs. Blue State” payback for Connecticut backing John Kerry over President Bush in the 2004 presidential election, but a clash of the submarine and surface ship communities...
"...In fact, there is some evidence to suggest Clark's office was behind the recommendation. According to the working papers of the internal Navy group that prepared the BRAC recommendations, Groton was under consideration for closure, and the panel sought the counsel of the Fleet Forces Command and Clark's office.
"The next month the group reported that Fleet Forces Command opposed it. Clark's response was not documented, but the proposal advanced, which many took as evidence that he endorsed it.
"The Connecticut congressional delegation, too, seemed to indicate that the submarine force was not getting a fair shake under Clark. Simmons, for instance, once noted that a submarine force structure study ordered by Clark said the Navy could get by with as few as 37 submarines. A Pentagon review done at the same time said the force should go no lower than 45."

Now, the new CNO is also a skimmer, but he's shown that he's willing to break from Clark's agenda, which is a good thing. (Regarding that last link: I've never seen that site before today, and, on first glance, it does seem a little tin-foil-hattish, but I think what they're saying about VADM Sestak is right.) Hopefully ADM Mullen be willing to give the Submarine Force more of a fair shake than his predecessor.

The article in The Day has a lot more really good information -- give it a read.

Going deep...

Saturday, August 27, 2005

How USS Narwhal Rode Out Hugo

With word that two Pascagoula-based frigates sortied in the face of Hurricane Katrina, I'm reminded of the story they told around Charleston about how the boats there survived Hurricane Hugo, especially USS Narwhal (SSN-671). What I heard kind of matches what I found here:

Narwhal sustained minor damage on 22 September 1989 when Hurricane Hugo hit Charleston, South Carolina. The boat was moored with nine double wires and two three-inch ship's lines in preparation for the storm. All but one of the lines parted during the first half of the storm, and the boat drifted into the Cooper River. Tugboats and Narwhal's crew tried unsuccessfully to move the submarine back to the pier before the second half of the storm. As the storm resumed, Narwhal submerged in the river and rode out the remainder of the hurricane with only part of her sail exposed.

From what I understood, all the subs that could got underway, but Narwhal was in the middle of an upkeep and they couldn't get her back together in time. So, when they figured out that the storm was doing so much damage, they basically submerged at the pier and snorkled. If anyone else knows if this is what really happened, please let me know.

Going deep...

The Blogometer / Project Valour-IT

Ever wanted a good round-up of what's going on in the political blogosphere on any given day? If so, check out The Hotline's Blogometer, which kicks ass is very useful in that regard. As evidence that they seek out only the best web sites, consider that they linked to our group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More during the AS-28 saga...

Break... New topic. Have you checked out the Project Valour-IT (Voice-Activated Laptops for OUR Injured Troops) site yet? Why not? The boys at Castle Argghhh!!! have lots more on the subject. (The project also has a blog.) Even Day By Day is getting into the act. All the cool people are checking it out!

On a blog admin personal note, I'd like to point out that I somehow got promoted to "Large Mammal" in the TTLB Ecosystem, even though my number of links dropped by about 20 while I was away. They must have re-indexed. I expect to drop back down fairly rapidly, but I thought I'd mention it while I could. Thanks to everyone who's linked!

Update 0947 28 Aug: Well, that was fast. I probably wasn't cut out to be a Large Mammal anyway...

Friday, August 26, 2005

Bad Things Submariners Do

When I was checking my referral log, I found someone had arrived here from doing a Google search for 'stupid and bubblehead'. Below my entries, I found an interesting page where "Skippy" (not the Far East Cynic, but another one) had come up with a list of bad ideas for submariners to do, and also his explanations of some of them.

Going deep...

"A Landlocked Navy"

I got forwarded a press release from Senator Larry Craig (R-ID) that's so new it's not even on his press release page yet. In it, he talks about two Idaho Navy installations that are (or were) of great importance to submarines -- the Navy Acoustic Research Department at Lake Pend Oreille (pronounced "pond-o-ray") and the Naval Reactors Facility (scroll down) near Arco. Here's what Senator Craig had to say:

Idaho is quite the seafaring state. Yes, it’s safe to say that the history of the United States Navy, and quite possibly the history of our nation would be much different without the contributions of our state. I realize that some of you may wonder what the heck I’m talking about, so let me explain.
Since World War II, Idaho has played an important role in preparing the Navy’s sailors for their roles at sea. In 1942, tasked with waging a war in the farthest reaches of the globe, the War Department recognized the need for a large facility to train more sailors. That year, the Navy built Farragut Naval Training Station on the shores of Lake Pend Oreille. At the time, it was the second largest naval training center in the world.
In the 30 short months it was operational, more than 290,000 sailors from 19 states received basic training at
Farragut. The last class graduated in March, 1945, but that would not be the end of Idaho’s contribution to naval training.
In 1950, the Naval Reactors Facility was established near Arco to support the development of naval nuclear propulsion. Throughout the Cold War, thousands of officers and sailors were trained in the intricacies of the operation and maintenance of nuclear reactors. You may be interested to know that research at the Idaho National Laboratory’s Advanced Test Reactor and Naval Reactors Facility have contributed to the extension of the life of nuclear fuel on Navy vessels, so that some nuclear-powered ships never have to be refueled.
While the Navy has consolidated most of its nuclear research and training programs in South Carolina, Idaho’s involvement in research and development of submarines and warships continues today. Stretching back several decades, the Navy’s Acoustic Research Detachment (ARD) at Bayview, Idaho, has been conducting research and development on Lake Pend Oreille.
Scale models of the most advanced submarines in the world were, and continue to be extensively tested in the quiet, deep waters of the lake. North Idaho residents have known for a long time that Lake Pend Oreille is one of the most beautiful places on earth, and that it is ideal for fishing, boating, kayaking and all sorts of outdoor activities. But the depth (the lake is nearly 1200 feet deep) and the size (more than 40 miles long) of Lake Pend Oreille make it almost perfect for acoustic testing.
Oceans are full of background noise, such as waves, animals, earthquakes and volcanoes, which make it difficult to effectively test just how quiet a ship is. On top of that, salt water takes its toll on things. Testing in Pend Oreille eliminates many of the noise and maintenance problems, and the more controlled conditions allow the Navy to build smaller, quarter-scale and third-scale models, that are much easier and cheaper to operate or modify. Anybody who knows me knows that it warms my heart to see government agencies looking for ways to get the job done right while saving the taxpayers money.
The men and women of the Acoustic Research Detachment have played vital roles in developing the Seawolf-class and Virginia-class submarines, making our subs more silent. Underwater, silence can be the difference between life and death for American submariners.
On August 24, 2005, in Bayview, ARD embarked on a new journey, dedicating the new Sea Jet, a quarter-scale model of a DDX class destroyer. This is the first in the next generation of naval surface ships, which will go faster, farther, and quieter than anything on the waves. It is truly a remarkable craft.
With that, Idaho, the landlocked state more than 300 miles from the Pacific Ocean, will continue to shape the future of the United States Navy, and keep our men and women in uniform on the cutting edge of technology and military hardware. Idahoans should be proud, but not surprised, that Idaho’s Navy is helping to keep America safe and strong.

While the purpose of the press release was to tout the dedication/christening of the Sea Jet, I thought it had some good history in there, and I learned quite a bit. I hadn't known about the Naval Training Center in Farragut, and I certainly didn't know that the Navy has moved most nuclear research to South Carolina along with the training. (That last part is just a touch sarcastic for those who don't know me that well.) Of course, I knew the part about Naval Reactor Facilities very well, having been stationed there twice. In fact, I think I'll drive by there tomorrow when I head back home from taking my daughter back to college in Rexburg (where she had a 4.0 GPA last semester, btw...); Subbasket might agree to go out of the way as a little birthday present for me. As a result of this little trip, sub-blogging will be light this weekend. While I'm gone, please visit Ninme for general news and the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More for the best in submarine news.

(Thanks to Vigilis for pointing me to some of these links.)

Going deep...

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Romania To Reactivate Sub "Fleet"

When I worked at CENTCOM with the liaison officers from our allies in Iraq and Afghanistan, I always enjoyed visiting the Romanian trailer. At the time, Romania was just getting ready to join NATO, and they seemed to take their new responsibilities very seriously. (I also liked the fact that they had their own C-130s, so I didn't have to arrange transport for their troops heading to Iraq.)

The Romanian Army is, well, a post-Warsaw Pact army that's getting much better. Their Navy, on the other hand, has seen better days. That's why I'm excited to see that they're budgeting the money (second story down) to reactive their submarine, the Delfinul:

"The Ministry of National Defence will spend some 50m euros for the reactivation of the only submarine of the Romanian Naval Forces.
"The Minister of National Defence Teodor Atanasiu, attending on Wednesday [24 August] the works of the Summer School of the Liberal Youth, told Rompres that the budget for the next year will include a special chapter for the reactivation of "Delfinul" submarine.
"Atanasiu said that the operation might cost up to 50 million euros. The minister said that the submarine is a redoubtable naval element for the national safety and discourages any possible threats against Romania. The Romanian army cannot afford to give it up as it might support the
newly acquired British frigates "King Carol" and "Queen Mary". [Hyperlink mine] "It is an important weapon for any army in the world and we must not forget that this generation of submarines, that "Delfinul" is part of, is one of the most modern that currently operate in the Black Sea," Atansasiu said.
"Delfinul", part of Kilo class, is built in the former Soviet Union and was bought by the Romanian Naval Forces in 1981. It has a displacement of 2,300 tonnes surfaced and 3,000 tonnes submerged, 72 metres length, and is equipped with a diesel-electric propulsion that propels the ship with 20 knots submerged."

The 50M euros is a substantial portion of the Romanian naval budget (normally about $830M euros). This report, plus the news that Romania is taking the rotating command of the Black Sea Naval Cooperation Task Force, as well as reports of recent exercises with the U.S. Navy, all show that Romania is ready to take their rightful place in naval leadership in the Black Sea. The other big hurdle, of course, will be training the crews of the refurbished boat. I hope that they'll investigate a partnership with the Poles, who have shown significant proficiency in operating their Kilos.

Going deep...

How Groton Was Saved

This Bob Hamilton article explains it all. At the bottom are lots of related articles that cover other aspects of the story. The part that surprised me most is how the committee went against the recommendation of their own staff in voting overwhelmingly to save the base.

Going deep....

Wednesday, August 24, 2005

Navy Destroyers Collide

News reports say the destroyers USS McFaul (DDG-74) and USS Winston Churchill (DDG-81) collided off the coast of Jacksonville Monday; damage was minor, and no one was injured. McFaul was damaged in the forward anchor housing, as this picture shows. (A high res shot is also available.) Damage to the Churchill seems also limited to the bow, on the port side. (Here's the high res shot for that one.) Both ships returned to port in Norfolk today. More later if I read anything else.

Update 0043 07 Oct: Both COs kept their jobs...

BRAC Vote Saves Groton

Late breaking news on The Day website says that the BRAC commission voted to keep Subase NLON open, with 6 of the 9 commissioners voting to remove the base from the list.

"Commissioner Lloyd W. “Fig” Newton made the motion to save the base, calling it “the flagship of the submarine community.”
"Commission Chairman Anthony J. Principi spoke in support of the motion, calling the Groton base “a center of excellence.”
“If we close New London,” he said, “we will never get it back.”
"The vote was 6-1-1 in favor of keeping the base open."

More info as it becomes available. (Of note, an earlier article in The Day was fairly pessimistic, so it looks like the commissioners kept their cards fairly close to their vests.)

Staying at PD...

Update 0929 24 Aug: The crawl across the bottom on the screen on CSPAN says the vote was 7-1-1, which makes more sense. The Day now has a list of the commissioners and how they voted, which confirms the 7 "yes" votes. (They also removed the incorrect section I quoted in the original entry.) Here's a CNN summary of today's votes; the Red River Army Depot was also removed from the list, and NAS Brunswick, Maine, was added.
The actual motion the commissioners voted on is here; it says that DoD "substantially deviated from" four (of eight) Final Selection Criteria and the Force Structure Plan. It looks like the vote on Portsmouth Naval Shipyard is coming up fairly soon.
The Boston Globe has some reaction from Connecticut politicians.

Update 1013 24 Aug: The Noonz Wire has more, as does the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More. Looks like the Portsmouth vote will be after lunch; I expect they'll accept the DoD recommendation to close the shipyard, though.

Update 1249 24 Aug: Man, I suck at predicting what the commission will do. It looks like they decided to keep Portsmouth Naval Shipyard open as well; here's another report from the Boston Globe on PNSY. Haven't heard what the vote was. As far as Groton goes, here's what the commissioners had to say before the vote.

Update 1332 24 Aug: Looks like the vote to save Portsmouth was the same 7-1 tally that spared Groton.

Bushes in Idaho

President Bush is finishing up his visit to Idaho today with a talk to Idaho National Guardsmen and their families in Nampa. A good percentage of the state's Army Guard is deployed in Iraq with the 116th Brigade Combat Team. The local paper has done a fairly good job of sending journalists over there and getting the word out about the good work they're doing.

Going deep...

Update 1259 24 Aug: The President gave a really good speech that focused mostly on the contributions of the National Guard and Reserves to the War on Terror. Significantly, throughtout the speech he called the war what it is: a war. He didn't call it the "Worldwide Argument Versus Extremist Reprobates" (WAVER) or use some other Rumsfeldian catchphrase. Combined with the rejection of the DoD plan to close Groton, it looks like the score today is Common Sense 2, Rumsfeldian-inspired Change for the Sake of Change 0.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Don't Click This...

...if you're where anyone can see you. I made it about 90 seconds before I started crying like a little girl. (I guess ADM Willard's characterization of "emotional submariners", discussed below, might be true.) From the excellent Marine-oriented website "The Few, The Proud,..." this photo montage, with music by the BYU chorus, reminded me of what I miss most about active duty: the brotherhood of men (and women) engaged in a common mission. I dare you to watch it and not be affected by the love these warriors show for each other and the people they're protecting.

Going deep...

"Emotional" Submariners

Over at The New London Day, we find a good article that summarizes the state of things as the BRAC commission finishes up their work ahead of the 08 Sept deadline for sending the list to the President. (The commission may vote on which bases to remove from the list as early as tomorrow.) Representative Simmons, who IMHO hasn't done the best job he could have in defending the base (he's been going a little overboard with the alarmist rhetoric on occasion), called out the new VCNO for some remarks during ADM Willard's recent testimony to the commission:

"In a three-page letter to the chairman of the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission, Simmons, R-2nd District, called the comment by Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Robert F. Willard “astounding and insulting...”
“...The submarine service is made up of people with incredible technical capability, who operate in a hostile environment where cold calculation is a matter of life and death,” Simmons wrote. “To call their opinions ‘emotional' is a slap in the face.
“These are men who have risen to the top of their profession because of their ability, not their emotion, and now that they are retired they are no longer bound to follow the chain of command — they no longer have to say what the Pentagon wants them to say. They can speak honestly and openly, and that's just what they have done.”
In his comments last week, Willard urged the commission to consider the context of the statements being filed in favor of the base. He said many of the retired top Navy brass who wrote in support of keeping the base open were “linked emotionally to New London,” adding that many of them “regard it as home.”

While it's true that all submarine officers have lived in Groton at one time or another, I think that the wide spectrum of submariners defending Groton is evidence that something other than "emotionalism" is involved. While there are a few submariners who would be happy to see Groton go by the wayside, I think most would regret the loss of infrastructure and dislocation a closure would cause. (And we need to be honest: Groton in the summer is better than Kings Bay during the August heat.)

Going deep...

All The Cool Guys Are Sub-Blogging

Just found another new sub-blogger -- this one's on active duty! An MT1 (Missile Technician First Class, an SSBN-only rate) on shore duty in P-Can started a new blog, Four Knots to Nowhere. Stop by and say "hi"... but we should be nice and hold off on the boomer jokes for a couple of days at least...

A Submarine-Related Post

I just realized that the five posts below this one have nothing to do with submarines, so I should put something up that relates to the main purpose of this blog. Check out this article from the CSP website about the Navigator on USS Los Angeles (SSN-688):

"On Aug. 5, 2005, the Hispanic Engineer National Achievement Awards Corporation (HENAAC) announced that Lt. Gabriel Anseeuw of USS Los Angeles (SSN 688) was selected as Luminary Honoree."

Lt. Anseeuw started off his Navy life as an Electrician's Mate back in 1991, and got into Annapolis via the enlisted route. Sounds like a great guy; I'm sure the NavOps Department on the LA is happy to have him.

Going deep...

Government Website Links to Anti-Semitic Crackpots

In my forays into the dark, unintentionally-humorous world of the September 11 forum at Democratic Underground, I found something truly shocking. No, not that Dick Cheney masterminded 9/11 or that TRADOC's General Byrnes was fired because he was about to lead a coup against the neo-cons, but something else. It seems that the U.S. State Department website links to the notorious anti-semitic, tinfoil-hat-wearing website in a page seeking to disprove the conspiracy theory that no plane hit the Pentagon. (They're the first and second links in the third section under "The Pentagon Attack".) As a point of general interest, is so far out that even Democratic Underground bans using it as a source. (They're also big UFO fans.)

Now, I understand why we haven't officially released any pictures of the plane inside the Pentagon -- we don't want to give the jihadis and their supporters images to put on banners. As a result, the only place to find such pictures is on various unofficial websites, most of them just as retarded as Rense. (Of course, if we did release the pictures, the conspiracy theorists would say they were photoshopped.) I know the State Department website, like many others, contains a disclaimer that "Links to other internet sites should not be construed as an endorsement of the views contained therein", but linking to Rense is ridiculous. If the webmasters at DOS wants to have a link to the pictures, they should have a buddy post them on a blog... don't give the nutcases at Rense any modicum of official sanction.

(By the way, if you'd like to read a good debunking of the various 9/11 conspiracy theories, or just want to find out what the theories are without wading in the cesspool that is DU, this Popular Mechanics article is a good place to start.)

Going deep...

Monday, August 22, 2005

Mocking and Belittling... Pat Robertson

When submarine news is slow, I fall back on the secondary purpose of this blog -- mocking and belittling general foolishness. Normally, my barbs are directed at those on the left, because they're usually the ones saying the stupid things. But the stupidest comment I saw today comes from none other than Pat Robertson, who thinks we should look into assassinating Venezualean President Hugo Chavez.
"You know, I don't know about this doctrine of assassination, but if he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it," Robertson said. "It's a whole lot cheaper than starting a war ... and I don't think any oil shipments will stop."

Now, don't get me wrong -- Chavez is an idiot, and has the chance of causing some real problems in Latin America and the Caribbean basin. The thing is, with the notable exception of Cuba, Latin American tinpot dictators tend to get "taken care of" by their own armed forces, usually sooner rather than later. I expect that this will happen with Chavez within a year or two (or earlier if he tries something really stupid.) I don't normally care how the "non-aligned" portion of the world views U.S. motives, since I'm pretty sure I know our underlying motivation: If you don't attack us or our friends, or steal our stuff, we'll pretty much leave you alone. (I understand that it wasn't like that as little as 40 years ago, but we've evolved a little; otherwise, one could claim that France is about to occupy Algeria and Vietnam because they did those things fairly recently.) What we don't need, though, is someone who probably has some influence with certain people in the White House saying stupid things like this... it's just tacky.

Going deep...

Update 1334 24 Aug: It appears that Pat thinks he was misinterpreted:

"I said our special forces could take him out. Take him out could be a number of things including kidnapping," Robertson said on his "The 700 Club" television program.
"There are a number of ways of taking out a dictator from power besides killing him. I was misinterpreted," Robertson added.

Well, Pat, maybe the fact that you said, "If he thinks we're trying to assassinate him, I think that we really ought to go ahead and do it" as part of the same train of thought that got most of us confused. Now that I see what you really meant, though, I guess I should take back what I said earlier -- you're not tacky, you're a full blown loon. If that's the best you can come up with after two days, you're further out of touch with reality than I thought.

Better Revenge Through Strange Web Sites

Ninme caused me to get really confused by posting links to this strange site. In retaliation, I now post links to two classic web "films": "All Your Base Are Belong To Us" and "We Like The Moon". Make sure your sound is turned on...
If the link to "All Your Base..." doesn't work, click here and choose one of the feed sites. That way, no one will set up us the bomb.

President Bush Arrives in Idaho

President Bush arrived in Idaho about an hour ago. I was at the airport picking up my in-laws, and saw Marine One lift off. (My in-laws got delayed from landing by the arrival of Air Force One; I should head over to BlameBush! and post about it.)

Staying at PD...

Update 1558 22 Aug: Here are some pictures.

The "Dead Horse"

In the Navy, a "Dead Horse" is the term used for advance pay that you can get when doing a PCS move; you normally end up spending it on various uncovered costs associated with the move, and now you're paying off something that you're not using anymore.

According to the tribal wisdom of the Dakota Indians, passed on from generation to generation, the following is more true of a dead horse: "When you discover that you are riding a dead horse, the best strategy is to dismount." In Western society today, though, it seems that governments and businesses have discovered new ways of dealing with the dead horse issue:
1) Buying a stronger whip.
2) Changing riders.
3) Appointing a committee to study the horse.
4) Arranging to visit other countries to see how other cultures ride dead horses.
5) Lowering the standards so that dead horses can be included.
6) Reclassifying the dead horse as living impaired.
7) Hiring outside contractors to ride the dead horse.
8) Harnessing several dead horses together to increase speed.
9) Providing additional funding and/or training to increase the dead horse's performance.
10) Doing a productivity study to see if lighter riders would improve the dead horse's performance.
11) Declaring that as the dead horse does not have to be fed, it is less costly, carries lower overhead, and therefore contributes substantially more to the bottom line of the economy than do some other horses.
12) Rewriting the expected performance requirements for all horses.
13) Promoting the dead horse to a supervisory position.

The last one is, of course, just another way of stating The Dilbert Principle.

Going deep...

Another Sub-Blogger Found!

I just stumbled across the blog of another submariner out there on the World Wide Web: OK2B Nought. Stop by and give geezernuke a big welcome!

Update 1251 22 Aug: Another up-and-coming subblogger, G-man, has a good picture of USS Dolphin (AGSS-555) posted at his blog, USS Dolphin.

The Dangers of DHMO

Because I love making fun of people who scream hysterically about the health dangers of various substances in the modern world, one of my favorite websites is the DiHydrogen Monoxide (DHMO) Homepage. In that site's DHMO FAQ, you can learn more about the hazards of this dangerous chemical:

Each year, Dihydrogen Monoxide is a known causative component in many thousands of deaths and is a major contributor to millions upon millions of dollars in damage to property and the environment. Some of the known perils of Dihydrogen Monoxide are:
Death due to accidental inhalation of DHMO, even in small quantities.
Prolonged exposure to solid DHMO causes severe tissue damage.
Excessive ingestion produces a number of unpleasant though not typically life-threatening side-effects.
DHMO is a major component of acid rain.
Gaseous DHMO can cause severe burns.
Contributes to soil erosion.
Leads to corrosion and oxidation of many metals.
Contamination of electrical systems often causes short-circuits.
Exposure decreases effectiveness of automobile brakes.
Found in biopsies of pre-cancerous tumors and lesions.
Often associated with killer cyclones in the U.S. Midwest and elsewhere.
Thermal variations in DHMO are a suspected contributor to the El Nino weather effect.

Read the rest; just don't be drinking soda or milk when you do, because you don't want to get your keyboard or monitor all sticky... plus, both of those substances contain large amounts of DHMO!

Going deep...

Sunday, August 21, 2005


A while back, I came up with the concept of what I call HAHBOW ("Hours Away from Home Because Of Work") as a way to compare the effects of various jobs on quality of life. In my current job, I work half the days for 12 1/2 hour shifts, plus one extra 2 hour meeting every two weeks. I have about a 30 minutes commute each way, so that means I'm away from home because of work about 98 hours every two weeks, or 49 hours a week. Not too bad...

I came up with this metric (of course, I didn't call it that) when I was a junior officer to try to explain to those outside the Navy how many hours we really had to work. At the time, on USS Topeka from '90-'93, I came up with the following weekly average "HAHBOW" numbers:
Topeka was a front line, operational SSN homeported in San Diego. As a result, we probably spent about 40% of our time at sea outside of deployments, and then deployed for six months every two years. As a junior officer, you normally stood duty about every four days; this meant you spent the night on the boat, and were therefore "away from home because of work". Normal workdays in port were about 0700-1600, with a 45 minute commute each way. Therefore, during the two year period:
HAHBOW deployment: 168 hr/week (25% of the time)
HAHBOW local ops: 168 hr/wk (0.4 x 75%=30% of the time)
HAHBOW inport: 80 hr/wk (20 workdays per month, of which 5 were duty days, plus two weekend duty days per month; 15 days x 10.5 hrs, 7 days x 24 hrs equals about 325 hours per month, or about 80 hours per week.)

Doing the math, this works out to 128 hours per week, on average, away from home for an average sea-going JO. (Enlisted nukes had about the same numbers; enlisted coners and more senior officers a little less -- coners were normally one more section duty than nukes). If you took a reasonable amount of leave, figure it worked out to 120 hours/week. That's quite a lot of time; it's a good thing we loved it so much... (ducks to avoid thrown objects)

Found On The Web This Weekend

Here's some stuff I read surfing around this weekend:

Fellow Ultraquiet No More sub-blogger Gus Van Horn provides links to good stuff he found this weekend.

Zoe Brain has some good thoughts, with documentary evidence, of some of the controversy surrounding the Cindy Sheehan media storm. (Of note, most people I talk to about it think that President Bush should meet with her. When they find out that he has met with her already, though, they change their minds.)

Not really found on the web, but read in my local newspaper, is evidence that in Idaho, not all the moonbats are of the black helicopter kind. With President Bush coming to the state tomorrow, the Idaho Statesman asked readers to send in letters to the President for them to publish. They got some doozies:

Lewis B. Smith (third letter down) has clearly been visiting Democratic Underground to come up with some of his 9/11 questions:
"There are creditable challenges of omissions and distortions to the original 9-11 Commission's Report. Among questions are the following: Why were jet fighters, which would have intercepted the hijacked airliners, involved in war games that day? Why were alternate fighters not appointed to safeguard the towers, which were known to be likely targets of terrorists? Why were bomb-sniffing dogs removed from regular duty in the towers several days before 9-11? Why did firefighters report hearing explosions that morning? Why was Building 7 detonated when it was not struck? Why were steel remnants loaded and hauled away before inspections for explosives could be made? Why were stock-market put options made just before 9-11?"

Rhoda Zaph (second letter down) has enough downright wrong information that I wonder at what point are the editors of a Letters to the Editor section required to state that the claims made in the letter are completely fabricated:
"The best thing you could do for Idaho and the United States is resign from office. In the 4 1/2 years that you have been in office, you have demonstrated repeatedly that you are the least intelligent (1.9 GPA, low IQ), most inarticulate (evident every time you speak), most incompetent (failed to read numerous memos from intelligence agencies prior to 9/11 stating a terrorist attack was imminent, raised the national budget to astronomical levels and more than tripled the national debt), have the most questionable past (alcohol use), and are the most dishonest man ever to sit in the Oval Office (altered documents written by the EPA, encouraged the vice president to have secret meetings to establish an energy policy that would create billions of dollars in profit for the oil companies, and lied about reasons to attack Iraq, where almost 1,900 military men and women have died and 13,000 have been injured)."

While it is debatable that "alcohol use" indicates a questionable past, the story of the low IQ and 1.9 GPA have been so thoroughly discredited that I'm surprised they let it slip through.

John Post brings up the "super-secret" PNAC plan for world domination (which he points out is available on their website):
"During the '90s, your brother Jeb, Mr. Cheney, Mr. Rumsfeld and Ms. Rice, among other current members of your administration, wrote a policy paper as members of the Project for a New American Century. Well before 9/11, PNAC advocated removing Saddam and using the military power built up under Reagan to further our national/corporate interests worldwide. The PNAC Web site has all the details."

And finally, from the right, comes Jim Higgins (third letter down) who is concerned about the dangers of immigration:
"Get your head out of the sand and deal with this problem before all of America becomes a third-world country run by the gangs of terrorists migrating across the open borders. One only needs to see the devastation of Southern California to see the writing on the wall — it's called graffiti."

Funny, I didn't see too much devastation when I lived in SoCal last year -- except for when traffic backed up for miles because everyone was slowing down to look at a shoe or something on the side of the interstate.

And for those who clicked on the link above to the story about "Where is Donnelly, Idaho", it's about 90 miles north of Boise. Subbasket graduated from McCall-Donnelly High School, so I guess her area will be famous for the next couple of days.

Going deep...

Simulator Aircraft Tragedies

[Intel source: Chaotic Synaptic Activity]
I spit my milk all over my keyboard reading this post. Click at your own risk, especially if you have any familiarity with Navy Air and Navy simulators. An "Instant Classic"...

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Pic of USS San Francisco Underway

From the Navy NewsStand, here's a picture of USS San Francisco underway from Guam, heading to Bremerton for repairs. She looks like she's riding a little higher in the bow than normal; I suspect the new bow dome is watertight, and most of the equipment that normally goes in there (sonar sphere) is removed.

Going deep...

Bellringer 0004 21 Aug: Looks like I was wrong:
"They removed the entire sonar sphere and partial trunk, then blanked it off. It almost fell off when they started it so they had to prop it up till they could get the right equipment in to remove it safely. Air bank 2 has been removed, N2 bank #2 is removed, and a bunch of frames and lead ballast. Suprisingly, the bow dome is a free flood area with 2 very small vents on top."

Friday, August 19, 2005

News From Today

Here's what I found on my doorstep when I got home from work tonight:

Sonalysts is developing a new PC video game, SCS -- Dangerous Waters. The highly anticipated follow-up to Sub Command will apparently feature a 600 page (!) manual... Now I've gotta go get my PC upgraded so I can play it when it comes out.

President Carter joined the chorus calling for SUBASE New London to be removed from the base closure list. With President Carter being from Georgia, the state that would most benefit from the Groton closure, this is especially significant. Humorous screw-ups in this article on the letter include saying that USS Jimmy Carter cost $3.2 million and the continued assertion that it's the most heavily-armed submarine ever made (obviously thinking that 50 torpedos are more powerful than 24 D-5 Trident missiles).

Robin Burk posts an important story over at Winds of Change. Check it out if you get a chance.

Going deep...

Update 2118 19 Aug: As a bonus, here's a thread from those wacky progressives over at Democratic Underground where they debate whether or not we should have invaded Afghanistan after 9/11. Because these seem to be the type of Democrats who have an inordinate influence in the primary elections, you can see why it's so hard for the Dems to nominate a viable candidate.

USS Kearsarge ESG Attacked by Rockets

The flagship and another amphib of the USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group were attacked by Katyusha rockets in the Jordanian port of Aqaba today. A rocket, apparently fired from a warehouse in Aqaba near the docks where USS Ashland (LSD-48) and USS Kearsarge (LHD-3) were moored. According to a statement from Central Command, the rocket flew over the bow of USS Ashland and hit another warehouse. According to the Jordanian government, the warehouse the rockets were fired from "...had been rented a few days ago by four people of Iraqi and Egyptian descent."
The USS Kearsarge Expeditionary Strike Group carries the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, and consists of the flagship and the amphibious transport dock USS Ponce (LPD 15), the dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), the cruiser USS Normandy (CG 60), the guided-missile destroyer USS Gonzalez (DDG 66), the guided-missile frigate USS Kauffman (FFG 59), and the fast-attack submarine USS Scranton (SSN 756). Apparently only the Kearsarge and Ashland were in port at the time.
Submarines attached to Expeditionary Strike Groups are fairly new; the first deployment I remember of a submarine with these groups (which used to be called Amphibious Ready Groups) was back in 2003, when USS Greeneville (SSN-772) deployed with ESG-1. Later, my old ship USS Connecticut (SSN 22) deployed with ESG-2. Normally, the submarines are only loosely affiliated with the Strike Group, and spend most of their time doing their own thing.
This attack brings to mind the attack on USS Cole in Yemen back in 2000. It makes me think that our improved force protection capabilities are paying off, if the best the jihadis can do is fire a rocket at our ships, and miss at that.

Going deep...

Update 2027 19 Aug: They apparently haven't caught the attackers yet. I think it's important in this case to ensure that the Egyptians, when caught, are returned to their own government for questioning.

Update 2109 19 Aug: Eagle1 has much more on the attack.

Update 1930 22 Aug: Looks like the ringleader has been arrested.

Thursday, August 18, 2005

I Got Nothin'

So, head on over to Ultraquiet No More to congratulate Rob on his new orders (and wonder if our resident progressive submariner will be his new boat's official representative to the namesake city -- sorry, couldn't resist), or check out the best source on the web for submarine pictures.

Going deep...

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

USS San Francisco Headed to Mainland

It looks like USS San Francisco (SSN 711) got underway from Guam, headed for Bremerton. That is going to be one long surface transit... Good luck, guys.

Going deep...

Update 0538 18 Aug: Here's a Navy Times story that talks about SFO's journey. It looks like they'll be stopping in Pearl on the way...

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Russians To Attempt SSBN Missile Launch

It looks like the Russians are giving it another try. Last year, they were embarrassed when planned ICBM launches from an SSBN failed miserably. Now, with President Putin on hand (and taking a lesson from President Bush's playbook, which says that everyone looks better in aviator gear) they're going to try again.

"The flagship of the Northern Fleet, the Pyotr Veliky cruiser, and Russia's sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov, were already plowing the rough waters of the Barents Sea together with a group of smaller warships in preparation for a naval battle simulation planned for Wednesday, a Navy source told Interfax.
"More significantly, two Delphin submarines carrying RSM-54 Sineva ballistic missiles will participate in Wednesday's maneuvers, Kommersant reported. One submarine was to fire a Sineva across the country to hit a range on the Kamchatka Peninsula, while the other would serve as a backup should the first launch fail, the newspaper said.
"A nuclear submarine failed to launch a Sineva during a similar Northern Fleet war game attended by Putin in February 2004. A second Sineva was launched, but it had to be destroyed in flight after it veered off course."

The "Dephin" class boats are known in the West as Delta IVs, and the RSM-54 Sineva is the SS-N-23. As they say in "Ghostbusters": really nasty buggers. I'm always happy to see them fail, as they did last year (despite Russian denials of two of the failures). Last year's attempted launches, interestingly, were from the Delta IV Novomoskovsk (K-407), which some claim is the boat that collided with USS Grayling (SSN-646) in March 1993.

Going deep...

Edited at 1910 16 Aug to add "Missile" to the title to make it less confusing.

Updated 0525 17 Aug: Looks like at least one of the launches was successful.

VP Visits Boise; Teen Girls Featured

The article in today's Idaho Statesman on Vice President Cheney's visit to Boise yesterday went with the "human interest" angle, and featured the reactions from, and pictures of, some of my daughter's friends from high school. My daughter, as you may remember, has gone on to bigger and better things than Mountain View High School, and today we celebrate her 18th birthday. Happy birthday, sweetheart! As an added bonus, she's coming home tomorrow after finishing up her first semester in college, so blogging will probably be somewhat lighter over the next couple of weeks.

Going deep...

"On Eternal Patrol" Website

Eric at The Sub Report brought to my attention a new website seeking to "put faces to names" of American submariners lost at sea. Started by the people at the USS Bowfin Submarine Museum and Park, "On Eternal Patrol" is a work in progress, but has the potential to be the most important submarine site on the web -- a place for all who care about submariners and submarines to go to pay respects to our honored dead.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Weekend Miscellania

1) From an earlier post I did, Zoe Brain mentions in the comments that:

"...I strongly suggest the USN mandate regular doses of a new prophylactic anti-radiation medication for all crew, of SSNs, SSBNs and SSGNs, past and present.
"This drug has been tested by crew of RAN submarines for many years, and has been found most effective. We have had zero cases of radiological illness from service on board RAN boats since they first came into service, in 1915."

Of course, Aussie boats are all non-nuclear, so I'm not surprised that they haven't had radiation illness problems. The anti-radiation medication mentioned ("Beer", for those who don't click links) has been found to have several other benefits for submariners as well -- as long as it's cold. Check it out...
As you know, a calorie is defined as "the energy needed to increase the temperature of 1 gram of water by 1° C". A standard 12 oz beer (or any cold drink) has 355 ml, or about 350 grams (for ease of computation) of liquid, and contains around 250 calories, give or take. Now, if a submariner were to drink a cold beer, it would naturally heat up in his stomach. If the cold beer is at 2° C (about 35F) and heats up to normal body temperature before being eliminated (about 37° C), then the body would use, umm... (35 times 350 -- carry the two---) 12,250 calories just heating up the liquid. Subtract the 250 calories he got from the beer, that would mean he'd burned 12,000 calories just by drinking the beer! Since you lose 1 pound of fat for every 2000 extra calories burned, the submariner just lost six pounds! This would be a great way to get guys within body fat limits when PFA ("Physical Fitness Assessment") season rolls around. (Note: Those who are confused by my calculations, or think I made a mistake with the definition of food calorie vs. heat calorie, will receive my standard response I use at BlameBush! : "Don't repress me with your so-called logic!")

2) The mind is a tricky thing. On Wednesday, I mentioned "old school" video games; for some reason, that got me thinking about Defender. See, I was the neighborhood champion at Defender back before I joined the Navy. (Those of you who never played Defender missed out; it was the first game where you couldn't just win by memorizing a pattern. As I recall, it was even the first side-scrolling game.)
Back to the tricky mind part. Somehow, in thinking about the game, I remembered a song from the darkest, unused portions of my brain that I had made up to sing while playing Defender back in 1981. Set to the tune of "Big Iron" by Marty Robbins, it went something like this:

"The mutants were upon him as the swarmers gathered round,
They thought for sure they had him 'til they heard the fatal sound...
They might have gone on living but they made the fatal slip,
The Defender on the mountain had a smart bomb on his ship.
(Smart bomb on his ship....)"

If I was good, I'd use a smart bomb to finish the level just as I sang the fourth line... very kewl if it worked out. The neighborhood girls who hung out in the video game parlor would be very impressed; I even started dating one, and -- except for her ripping my heart out and stomping all over it, laughing the whole time, making me an emotional wreck and causing me to join the Navy just to leave town -- it all worked out pretty well.

3) It looks like President Bush is coming to Idaho! Coming on the heels of Vice President Cheney's visit here tomorrow, rumors are that President Bush will visit Idaho after speaking at the VFW convention in SLC on Saturday. His rumored destination is McCall, a resort town about 100 miles north of Boise where my in-laws live (and youngest son Pantherfan is now for a short visit). President Clinton flew in there six years ago, for forest fire inspections. Pretty exciting for us backwoods types here in The Gem State (home of the "scalped punker teen girl").

4) Ninme, as always, has lots of great content that I spent quite a while going through; she even got permalinked by one of the bigger blogs, and demonstrates her usual sense of ladylike propriety in announcing it.

5) Oh, and for a real submarine related news item, it looks like the Russians have started the blame game for the rescue of AS-28. Based on what I've read, though, the team responsible for breaking the Russian rescue submersible probably had it coming...

Going deep...

I Am Not Amused...

OK, maybe I am a little bit. Check out this new shirt that's on the market. I admit it's a tiny bit clever: "USS Jimmy Carter -- Starting problems then waiting for the USS Ronald Reagan to solve them." I'm sure the skimmers and airdales will love it: "Hey, a submarine messes up, and a carrier comes in to fix it. High five!"
Anyway, I've stated my opinions on why I believe naming SSN-23 for President Carter was not a bad thing several times before, most recently two weeks ago, so I won't go over them here again. Those who would like to can see my post "In Defense of Jimmy Carter", which has links to most of the rest of my posts. You can dislike the man all you want; I just have *problems* with "humor" that makes light of the crew of the Carter and their professionalism. Yes, I realize that the shirt wasn't meant to do that... it still raises my hackles, though.
CDR Salamander did point out a couple of weeks ago that President Carter still seems to have a little bit of submariner left in him; and, one final thought -- remember that had it not been for the Carter Administration, we probably wouldn't have had eight years of Ronald Reagan. Not bad for one man's legacy to the country...

[Intel source: Ron Martini's BBS]

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Another Submarine Conspiracy

Strategy Page is a wonderful website, but occasionally I find myself disagreeing with aspects of their articles on submarines. Such is the case today as I read "Mystery Subs in the Great White North". Starting with an assertion that "Canada has detected an average of two incursions, by unknown submarines, a month in its Arctic waters" since 1999 (with no reference to the source of this claim), the story really doesn't make much sense. The article wonder who could be sending their submarines to violate Canadian waters, and then discusses the prime suspects:

"Which country they belong to will not be easily ascertained. The United States would move to the head of the list due to proximity (being next door to Canada) and the largest number of nuclear submarine force in the world (55 attack submarines and 14 ballistic missile submarines). American submarines would find the Canadian Arctic to be a good shortcut (a few thousand kilometers) from the bases at Groton and Norfolk in the Atlantic to Pacific bases like Pearl Harbor, Guam, and San Diego. Russia, though, has a considerable force of nuclear submarines (15 nuclear attack submarines, 6 cruise missile submarines, and twelve SSBNs), and the track record of incursions into other countries’ waters, as Sweden can readily attest. The Royal Navy has twelve SSNs (five Swiftsure-class and seven Trafalgar-class) and four SSBNs (four Vanguard-class vessels), and a Royal Navy sub would be going out of its way to reach the Canadian arctic. Barring an accident, the identity (or identities) of Canada’s underwater prowlers will remain a mystery for years – as is typical for the silent service. "

I'm not sure where they got the claim that Canada had detected so many incursions. I found a discussion on the Strategy Page Submarine Discussion Board from June that used the same wording, but couldn't find a news article that said the same thing. Even so, I'm unsure how the Canadians would actually detect a nuclear submarine in the Arctic north that didn't want to be found. From this article on the dispute between Canada and Denmark over sovereignty of Hans Island, just off Greenland:

"Retired Colonel Pierre Leblanc, a former commander of the Northern Area, says Canada may have already lost its claim to the Arctic waters, due reports over the past 30 years of unidentified submarines being spotted in the area.
"There are quite a number of submarine sightings, some by very credible sources such as RCMP officers," Leblanc said.
"The fact that Canada hasn't had the resources to conduct surveillance in the area, and track down these submarines, diminishes the Ottawa's claim to sovereignty."

Um, nuclear submarines don't surface to be seen unless they want to be seen, guys.

The United States frequently conducts "Freedom of Navigation" exercises, in order to demonstrate our commitment to preventing countries from attempting to enforce unreasonable territorial waters claim by saying that no one else sails through those waters. Here is a list of such publicly announced exercises in FY 2004. Notice that we perform these operations off the coasts of both allies and potential enemies. (I had some experience with these exercises when I was on USS Topeka in 1992. When we went into the Arabian (Persian) Gulf, they routed us through the "Western Traffic Separation Scheme" off the Iranian coast as a Freedom of Navigation exercise.) While I have no idea if the U.S. is conducting such exercises in Canadian waters with our submarines, I'd be surprised that, if we did, the Canadians would be able to even notice us; and, if they did, it'd be because we wanted them to, and we'd probably announce it. For those interested, here's a lengthy background piece on Canadian Arctic claims; it includes a short discussion on submarine issues:

"The principal issue that remains, therefore, is that of subsurface transit of the Northwest Passage. That such transits occur appears to be widely accepted, although their extent is a matter of speculation. The position taken by the Government of Canada has been that any submarine transit of Arctic water is undertaken pursuant to bilateral and multilateral defence arrangements and hence is, at least implicitly, with Canadian consent. However, this not only leaves unanswered the question of transit by states with whom no such defence arrangements exist, but also assumes that the United States would not in the future invoke these transits to the detriment of the Canadian claim. Furthermore, and perhaps most importantly, Canada' s argument that these voyages have been consented to assumes that Canada knows of each transit.
"What would the consequences be for Canada of submarine transit of the Northwest Passage without Canada's knowledge or consent? Real doubt would be cast on the credibility of Canada's claim that it is exercising sovereign functions over Arctic waters. Incursions into the land territory of a state without that state's consent are regarded as serious encroachments on sovereignty, and the Arctic sovereignty claim treats the waters of the Northwest Passage as if they were land territory. At the very least, therefore, subsurface transits undertaken without Canada's consent are a serious encroachment on Canada's sovereignty over Arctic waters."

In short, although the Strategy Page article brings up some interesting points, it failed to convince me that there were actual incursions by submarines into Canadian-claimed international waterways that the Canadian government hadn't approved ahead of time.

Going deep...