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.)

Thursday, September 29, 2005

"Enduring Bases" Fiction

Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who cast the only vote against going to war in Afghanistan, has written an opinion piece on her resolution to prevent the U.S. from entering into any permanent basing arrangement with Iraq. Let's see what she has to say:

"The circumstances on the ground, however, tell another story. On March 23, 2004, the Chicago Tribune reported on the construction of 14 “enduring bases” in Iraq. The May 22, 2005, Washington Post described the military’s plan to consolidate military personnel in Iraq into four massive “contingency operating bases.” According to the Congressional Research Service, Emergency Supplemental funds appropriated for military construction in Iraq for fiscal years 2001–2005 total more than $805 million, with the vast majority, more than $597 million, coming in the 2005 fiscal year."

Sounds pretty factual. Do you think she'll bring up PNAC next?

"Anyone familiar with the Project for a New American Century (PNAC) should be skeptical about the administration’s claims that it does not have plans for a permanent military presence in Iraq. PNAC, many of whose founders, including Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, went on to serve in the Bush administration, published a document in 2000 titled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses.” It plainly cites the objective of an increased U.S. military presence in the region as a rationale for invading Iraq: “While the unresolved conflict in Iraq provides the immediate justification [for U.S. military presence], the need for a substantial American force presence in the Gulf transcends the issue of the regime of Saddam Hussein.”

Of course -- a document written in 2000, in a section discussing American troop presence in Saudi Arabia, most assuredly is a secret blueprint for permanently occupying Iraq. Many liberals, including Cindy Sheehan (quoted at Rob's Online Magazine) see something especially sinister about these "permanent" or "enduring" bases. It just so happens that I was involved in some of the planning of these bases (on the coalition side) and here's something our liberal friends don't seem to appreciate: If you don't have what the military calls "enduring bases", you're living in tents, or thin-walled conex box. Mortar fragments can easily penetrate tents. Since our troops are going to be there for a while, they should have housing where they can sleep without getting shredded by incoming mortar rounds. As far as moving from fourteen bases down to four bases -- it seems that it would make sense that as the Iraqi army stands up, our troops can move from a "patrol with the Iraqis" role to a "give us a call if you need us" role, and would be able to reduce our self-defense requirements by going into fewer bases.

The bad thing is that as much as she attempts to prove otherwise, Rep. Lee is probably a very intelligent person, who gets briefed by people who can explain this to her -- and she probably understands all this. She's just playing to her constituency (Berkeley) and telling them what they want to hear. My conclusion: Liberal leaders don't want to explain what's really going on in the world to their followers -- they just want to feed their prejudices that America is always wrong.

Speaking of Cindy Sheehan quotes -- check out what Democrat Ed Koch has to say about some of them.

Going deep...

Isn't This Kinda Overkill?

Check out the headline to this story: "Egypt police shoot dead Sharm bombing suspect". Seems to me like that's just adding insult to injury...

Best of the Web normally highlights headlines like these; this one must have slipped past them today.

Going deep...

I Moved Here From SoCal For This?!?

Idaho earthquake cluster... this is about 65 miles north of where we're at.

Emergency deep!

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Philly Investigation Continues

An article in The Day discusses the continuing investigation into how the collision between USS Philadelphia and M/V Yaso Aysen happened, and who was at "fault". (I hypothesized about this in great detail last week):

"Who's to blame — more importantly, who will pay for the damage to the freighter — could come down to a matter of a few degrees.
"If the M/V Yaso Aysen was within a conical area 135 degrees wide behind the submarine, it was overtaking the Philadelphia, and was at fault.
"But if investigators find the Aysen was forward of that area, under maritime law they were crossing, and the Philadelphia would be held responsible. Under maritime law when two vessels are crossing paths, the ship to the left, or port, must yield to the ship on the right, or starboard.
"The issue is complicated by the fact the Philadelphia maneuvered to avoid the collision, so the angle at which they hit was not the angle of the approach, Navy sources said."

It seems it shouldn't be too hard to reconstruct. They'll have the Philly's deck log, and should have the bearings from the periscope observations, which should allow them to figure out the merchant's course fairly accurately -- after all, they have a really good idea what the CPA was (zero). If they got blade rate at all from sonar, or have good radar data, they will have the merchant's speed, and that will be the last piece of the TMA puzzle in figuring out what Yaso Aysen's course was.

Staying at PD...

Update 2303 28 Sep: Longer-lasting version of the article is here, 2nd article down.

Look Out, Captain Nemo!

Here's an "interesting science news" story that's at least partly submarine related. In "20,000 Leagues Under The Sea", Jules Verne writes about the Nautilus being attacked by a giant squid. It now seems that a Japanese team has succeeded in filming a giant squid moving around underwater. Until now, the only specimens we've seen are those that wash up on the beach or are hauled up by fishing boats. So how'd they do it? Good old fashioned perseverance -- a much better idea than one of the original plans people had to get the footage:

"In 2003, New Zealand marine biologists laid a sex trap.
"They ground up some squid gonads, believing that the scent would drive male giant squids wild as the creatures migrated through New Zealand waters.
"The hope was that a camera would squirt out the pureed genitals and a passing squid, driven into a sexual frenzy, would then mate with the lens -- a project that, some may be relieved to hear, never came to fruition."

Suppose it's better to have it try to mate with the camera rather than a passing submarine. Anyway, here's a potentially interesting fact about giant squids that I remembered from when I was studying for a potential Jeopardy appearance. (I passed the test, but never got called in for the show -- that damn tournament they ran in order to get Ken Jennings some actual competition knocked out about two months of tapings.)

Back to the trivia. Ambergris, valued as a perfume fixative, is produced in the stomachs of sperm whales in order to protect the whale's stomach lining from the undigestible beaks of giant squid. And now you know...

Going deep...

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

I Am Pro-Victory

Jay Tea at Wizbang! has come up with what I think is a great name for those of us who want to see the Global War On Terror end with an unequivocal Coalition victory: "Pro-Victory". Not "pro-war", not "anti-anti-war", it simply indicates the way I feel: This is a war we must win.

For those who'd like to display this sentiment on their blog, Wonder Woman at A North American Patriot has come up with a button that can be added to your sidebar -- I just finished adding mine.

Going deep...

Bookmarked For Later Abuse

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] Found this article at about submarine warfare. I stopped counting the major mistakes at about six. I don't have time to give it the mocking and belittling treatment it so richly deserves right now, but I'll try to come back to it. In the meantime, you can read it yourself and see how many idiocies you can find!

...“The best way to sink a submarine is with another submarine.”
"This is the most common fable, often appearing in popular fiction such as the works of Tom Clancy. However during the First World War, when the undersea threat first became real, it was the destroyer which finally contained the menace. Destroyers were first developed at the turn of the last century to protect battleships from fast torpedo boats, and proved ideal against submersible torpedo craft. During the Second World War, the combination of long-range aircraft and destroyers defeated the more advanced U-boats of Hitler’s Navy.
"Though modern attack subs are armed with superior weapons and better tracking equipment, its principal foes remain aircraft and surface ships. The problem is submarines lack the long-range weapons with which it can sink another sub, depending instead on its torpedoes and the short-range anti-sub rocket. In contrast, surface vessels now regularly deploy aircraft of its own, in the form of helicopters which can range out 100 miles or more.
“A nuclear attack sub is far more capable than conventionally powered boats”
"In terms of speed, diving depth, and range, this is a true statement. Other than diving however, these are all abilities desirable in surface ships and not necessarily in a submarine. Primary tactics for undersea warfare has changed little since the world wars: “hide and seek” followed by “hit and run”. Constantly in naval maneuvers were hear in the media of slow and silent diesel powered vessels besting the large and noisy nuclear subs. This great asset of the modern attack sub, nuclear propulsion, may be its fatal flaw. The large size required to fit noisy turbines make it vulnerable to countermeasures. A conventional sub cruising on electric batteries is still the quietest warship at sea, making it also the deadliest."

Needless to say, he goes on to say we should build diesel subs. Have a start at ripping it apart in the comments, and I'll be back later to see how we're doing.

Update 2306 28 Sep: PigBoatSailor did a better job of ripping apart the article than I ever could, so I'll direct you to his post. The only thing that I might add is that the exercises the author hears about where diesels "beat" the nukes are pretty much designed to give the diesel several advantages that would not be present in a real world situation. (Specifically, NAUs .)

Sub-bloggers On The Road

While we're waiting for Gus Van Horn to get back home from his Rita-induced evacuation, check out WillyShake's report of his trip to the Flight 93 crash site in Pennsylvania. And if you're in the mood for a football-related tear-jerker, head for Willy's most recent post.

Finally, and somewhat off-topic, Froggy Ruminations addresses the British press reports about the crazed killer Navy dolphins that "escaped" during Hurricane Katrina. I think they swam over to attack the Japanese Mafia-controlled Russian weather machine. [Intel Source: Mudville Gazette]

Going deep...

Update 1616 27 Sep: Gus is back home! Plus, I neglected to mention that PigBoatSailor also had the Notre Dame tear-jerker mentioned above. He's also got a good post on Stupid Nuke Tricks.

Update 0039 30 Sep: Finally, definitive word (from normally moonbatty Keith Olbermann, no less) that the Navy had no dolphins in Lousiana.

Are We Winning The War?

To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.

Ecclesiastes 3:1, 8

This question's been asked a lot lately: in last week's Time cover story, and in various national polls. The perception among the left side of chattering classes, and a good portion of the American public, is that the War of Terror is not militarily "winnable". I've blogged on this before, and my thoughts haven't really changed -- the only way we can lose the war is if we as a country lose the political will to fight.

The war is eminently winnable "militarily"; it's the political will that's lacking, and what probably does make the war unwinnable -- absent another attack on the U.S. that forces our leadership to take the actions necessary to "win" the war. The Time article that talks about how "unwinnable" the war is mentions that we lost four killed in the recent assault on Tall'Afar. I hate to sound callous, but those are well within the realm of militarily sustainable losses. What's keeping us from winning the war is our self-imposed restrictions on the use of force in areas with civilian populations. Now, don't get me wrong -- these are a good thing, and I support them. It ties one hand behind our back, especially when fighting an enemy who has no such restrictions. (If you don't believe me, do this thought experiment: Imagine that a media blackout is put in place in Iraq, and no information will ever come out of there about what happens during a specified period of time. Who do you think will end up in a better position militarily when the reporters go back in?) Still, there are some lines in warfare I'd rather not cross; many of the strategies necessary for success, against an Arab opponent with an Arab mindset, are most likely considered war crimes.

The reason the war may not be winnable politically is that there is a substantial portion of the country that doesn't want us to do what we need to in order to win. My good friend Rob says that the anti-war protesters aren't "against the troops" (except maybe the guy with the "Victory to the Iraqi Resistance" poster in the sixth picture down at this site). Here's my response: The nature of this war is that our enemies can't hope to win unless they end our political will to fight. Any evidence that they are doing so does embolden them and help their recruiting -- people will tend to want to fight for the side they think will win. Therefore, those who demonstrate against the war, which is well within their rights, should recognize that they are providing indirect support for the enemy. They may feel that they aren't really pulling a page from the anti-war dogma of the past that you can only properly oppose the U.S. by actively supporting our enemy, but that is the result of their actions. All I'm asking is that they admit that the net effect of what they're doing. They may have decided that the harm being done to the country by continuing the war is worse than the harm that may befall us by pulling out, and that's their right, and I'll accept that as long as they're honest about what they're doing.

Can we win the war? Yes, we can, in the long run. It's my belief that we're in the middle of "a time of war" that Ecclesiastes mentions; no liberals wanting to create a "Department of Peace" can change that. This war with militant Islam will go on for decades. Hopefully, we'll learn from the mistakes we made in Iraq, and do it better on the next battlefield.

Going deep...

DVD Review: "Sons of Provo"

Since there seems to be a dearth of submarine news, I figured I'd fall back on my old standby, movie reviews. (I previously reviewed Stealth and The Brothers Grimm, with fairly negative results.) Unfortunately, I haven't been to any movies lately; I did see a new DVD last week, though, so I'll review that.

Sons of Provo is the latest in a recent string of Mormon-themed comedies. Wait! Don't click away -- I'm serious; Mormons really do make, and watch, comedies. Plus, I'm looking to do an unscientific experiment, and I'll need your help. (More on that later.) Mormon film-making has been fast and furious lately, and the comedies they're putting out are really good. (The best of the bunch, IMHO, is Singles Ward. Although Napoleon Dynamite doesn't deal with Mormon themes explicitly, the producers are Mormon, and there are enough "inside references" where you can see that LDS types were involved.)

Back to Sons of Provo. Did you like This is Spinal Tap? Sons of Provo is in the same genre -- a "mockumentary" of a band that just doesn't get it. In this case, the movie features three Mormon "boy-band" members (Group name: "Everclean") who sing horribly funny songs, and don't understand just how ridiculous the lyrics are. Here are some examples:

"Love Me, But Don't Show Me" (sung to the tune of any Back Street Boys ballad)
"These two weeks together have been the sweetest of my life,
My hearts prayer was answered when you agreed to be my wife.
Your love's like a cancer, girl, cuz I got no resistance,
There's only one answer girl: You got to keep your distance!
"Love me, but don't show me.

I want our wedding night to be right.
Miss me, but don't kiss me.
If we start to makin' out girl,
You won't be wearin' white."

And the equally horrible "Sweet Spirit":
"She, doesn't turn your head when she walks down the hall.
She, may not be the slender beauty fair and tall.
She, has some acne scars that populate her skin.
But she has beauty emanating deeply from within.
"Ooo, sweet spirit, You're so.... nice.

You may not appear it, But your soul's a pearl of great price.
You're such a good person, Sincere and true.
You just keep rehearsin' And one day you might say: "I do." (That would be so nice for you) "

Finally, the unabashedly ridiculous "Spiritchal As Me":
"I like to take notes in Sacrament Meeting
But I'm not just some regular guy.
I've memorized the names of every Prophet and Apostle
And I've never told a lie.
When I'm eating lunch in the school cafeteria I bow my head and pray out loud.
I'm so humble and meek,
And possessing such heavenly qualities makes me proud.
"Maybe, someday, You will see

You could be as Spiritchal as me..."

Trust me, it's hilarious. Now, here's my unscientific test. I think a lot of the jokes in the movie are things that only Mormons would know are funny, whereas others (the deaf/mute vocal music teacher) should give anyone a chuckle. What I'd like is for some non-Mormon reader to rent the film at your local video store (the closer you are to Utah and Idaho, probably the better chance you'll have that it'll be available). Drop me a line and let me know if you thought it was a good flick. I'm betting you will, but I could be wrong, and the scene where the young woman, interviewed leaving the concert because rap music "doesn't come from a very nice place", is only funny to the target audience.

Bottom line: I give Sons of Provo 4 plural wives out of 5.

Update 0217 27 Sep: Apropos of nothing, I noticed when I was checking my referral log that my review of Stealth mentioned above is the #2 result on Yahoo Search for "Jessica Biel's belly button". Sweet...

Monday, September 26, 2005

Blogger Ate My Post...

I spent quite a while working on a post about a Deck Log entry (6th one down) at the Quartermaster web site getting picked up by Soldiers For The Truth, but it disappeared into the ether when I tried to publish it, and I don't feel like going back and re-doing the whole thing.
Instead, here are the archives of Undersea Warfare magazine if you want to search through them while I come up with another idea for a post (that Blogger will probably eat... but I'll remember to save next time).

Going deep...

Saturday, September 24, 2005

The New Russian Diesel

Strategy Page has a short story about the new class of Russian diesel boats coming out. (I posted a little about these new boats earlier.) One little tidbit I hadn't heard before:

"Each crewmember has their own cabin (very small for the junior crew, but still, a big morale boost)."

The boat's only 1,750 tons, so I'm really surprised about this (if it's true, and not just Russian propaganda). The sub's designed for a crew of 41, and I'm not sure it's the best use of space to put up that many bulkheads. On the other hand, we're not buying them, and since the main customers will probably be our potential rivals, I'm for anything that reduces their combat effectiveness.

On the other hand, separate cabins is one sure way to get rid of any "berthing issues" with respect to women on subs.

Going deep...

Update 1023 25 Sep: Speaking of potential rivals buying the Amur-class boats:

"Venezuela intends to consider buying Russian Amur-class submarines, the country's Navy said. Vice Admiral Jose Laguna, the Navy's commander-in-chief, will discuss this issue during his upcoming visit to Russia. "

Friday, September 23, 2005

Idahoan In The News

This one's an instant classic...

"To the rest of the country, Scott Stevens is the Idaho weatherman who blames the Japanese Mafia for Hurricane Katrina. To folks in Pocatello, he's the face of the weather at KPVI News Channel 6.
"The Pocatello native made his final Channel 6 forecast Thursday night, leaving a job he's held for nine years in order to pursue his weather theories on a full-time basis...
"Since Katrina, Stevens has been in newspapers across the country where he was quoted in an Associated Press story as saying the Yakuza Mafia used a Russian-made electromagnetic generator to cause Hurricane Katrina in a bid to avenge the atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima. He was a guest on Coast to Coast, a late night radio show that conducts call-in discussions on everything from bizarre weather patterns to alien abductions. On Wednesday, Stevens was interviewed by Fox News firebrand Bill O'Reilly...
"Although the theories espoused by Stevens - scalar weapons, global dimming - are definitely on the scientific fringe today, there are thousands of Web sites that mention such phenomena.
"The Soviets boasted of their geoengineering capabilities; these impressive accomplishments must be taken at face value simply because we are observing weather events that simply have never occurred before, never!" Stevens wrote on his Web site. "The evidence of these weapons at work found within the clouds overhead is simply unmistakable. These patterns and odd geometric shapes seen in our skies, each and every day, are clear and present evidence that our weather has been stolen from us, only to be used by those whose designs for humanity are rarely in alignment with that of the common man."

What a loon! Anyway, if you'd like a few cheap laughs, his website is here. His piece on chemtrails is especially humorous...

Idaho... not just the home of scalped punk girls anymore...

Update 2237 25 Sep: Eagle 1 has been posting about this guy for awhile...

Overtaking vs. Crossing -- Navigational Thoughts From An Engineer

As we learn more about the collision between the USS Philadelphia and M/V Yaso Aysen, I've been wondering how the "blame-apportionment" will turn out now that the Navy has relieved Captain Oxholm. Based on open source information I trust, it appears that the Yaso Aysen's port side hit the Philly's starboard side while the Philly CO was asleep, about 0200 local. The thing that confuses me is that most reports say the merchant was outbound from Bahrain for the UAE, but the Philly was inbound; this wouldn't support an "overtaking" situation, unless the merchant decided to turn around. I'm wondering if, instead of an overtaking situation, it turns out that it was closer to a "crossing" situation -- the merchant had steamed north out of port, then turned towards the southeast when she got to "clear" (no navigation hazards) water in that direction. In this case, the Yaso Aysen might have been approaching from Philly's quarter, in such a way that both vessels thought they were the "stand-on" vessel. This probably isn't what happened, but hear me out as I think aloud:

The one story that gives Yaso Aysen's port of origin was wrong about everything else, but it could be right about this. It says it got underway from "Asry, Bahrain", which could very well be the Arab Shipbuilding and Repair Yard, located south of the airport at the entrance to the harbor. (You'll need to click twice on that last link to get a map of the shipyard's location.) If, for some reason, they headed north after clearing the harbor, and the sub was coming in from the northeast, the merchant would have had to turn across the sub's path at some point to head towards the southern Gulf. If, in fact, the Yaso Aysen did get underway from Bahrain, it would make a classic "overtaking" situation unlikely in this case.

According to the "Rules of the Road", a vessel is overtaking another if they are coming up on the other vessel at greater than "two points abaft the beam", or within 67.5º of the stern (Rule 13). However, if the vessels aren't in a head-on situation, and one vessel is not running up the other guy's stern, it's a "crossing" situation (Rule 15). This rule states:

"When two power-driven vessels are crossing so as to involve risk of collision, the vessel which has the other on her own starboard side shall keep out of the way and shall, if the circumstances of the case admit, avoid crossing ahead of the other vessel."

If it turns out that this was a crossing situation, the Philly would have been the "give-way vessel" (since the merchant was to her right) and would have been required to maneuver to avoid a collision.

Now, the Philly would have clearly known the exact bearing to the merchant (looking through the scope, as well as on radar if she was using it, as I suspect she was). The crew of the Philly also knew their exact course, and by doing a little mental gym, could have easily determined whether it was a crossing or overtaking scenario. Let's assume for a moment that this was the case, and they determined that it was an overtaking situation, by a few degrees. The CDO makes a determination that the sub is the stand-on vessel, and the boat continues on the same course and speed.

At this point we need to interject some information on "sidelights". All big ships have sidelights, which are visible from directly ahead to "two points abaft the beam"; the Rules of the Road say (Rule 21(b)):

"Sidelights" means a green light on the starboard side and a red light on the port side each showing an unbroken light over an arc of horizon of 112.5 degrees and so fixed as to show the light from right ahead to 22.5 degrees abaft the beam on the respective side."

Likewise, a "stern light" is on the stern (duh!) and covers the area not covered by the sidelights. In theory, the only time you'll see the sternlight and a sidelight is if you are at a relative bearing of exactly 112.5º on either side of the bow from the ship you're observing. (Likewise, the only time you'll see both sidelights is if you're looking directly down the target's bow.)

Back to the real world. A submarine's sidelights are actually visible for more than the specified 112.5º; how much more depends on the specific class. (It's the same with all ships, but subs normally have more of a "sidelight/sternlight overlap" in my experience.) Assume the driver of the merchant sees a green light off his bow. He looks at the radar, and it's a tiny little blip... hardly worth his notice. He could plot the course of the contact, but why bother? He's over 50,000 tons -- the "Law of Gross Tonnage" applies, in the mind of the merchantman. He figures the ship's so small it doesn't even have a sternlight. "He'll get out of the way", the merchant sailor thinks as he goes back to reading his magazine -- probably that really cheesy porn you find in Bahrain. He sees the green light, so to him, "green means go". (That's the way sidelights are designed -- if you see the other guy's green light and no sternlight, you're the stand-on vessel; if you see the red light, you're the give-way vessel.) By the time both ships figure out the other isn't changing course, it's too late.

Bottom line: I could imagine this being a situation where both vessels thought that they were the stand-on vessel. The merchant in this case would be guilty of violation of both Rules 13(c) and 17(b), but it could be enough to convince an Admiralty Court to blame both vessels.

Staying at PD...

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Show Of Hands...

...for the nukes out there: How many of you ever made a "Christmas Tree" in Maneuvering by cutting out the alarms in a triangle shape, with a "trunk" at the bottom, on the temperature monitoring panel?

"Lawyers, Guns, and Money"

I'm listening to "Genius: The Best of Warren Zevon" while catching up on my 'net surfing. (We got a live one over at the latest post on BlameBush! that we're toying with...)
Anyway, "Lawyers, Guns, and Money" comes up, and I started thinking of my time as Iraq Coalition Finance Officer at CENTCOM last year. That was kind of my theme song there; I'd be calling everyone, working these "drug deals" to try to get the coalition troops fed, moved, and housed with promise of payment later, and my co-workers would mention how they expected to see me doing an Ollie North in front of Congress one day.
Since I can't really say anything specific about what I did there, I'll just say that Warren Zevon was way ahead of his time:

"Send lawyers, guns and money,
The shit has hit the fan"

Going deep...

Philadelphia CO Relieved?

Word on the street is that the CO of USS Philadelphia, CDR Steve Oxholm, is being relieved as a result of the collision of his boat with M/V Yaso Aysen northeast of Bahrain two weeks ago. I earlier discussed the collision here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. This action was apparently taken following an Admiral's Mast with CTF 54, RADM John Bird, where Captain Oxholm was found guilty of a violation of UCMJ Art. 110, Hazarding a Vessel. Supposedly Capt. Robert Brennan, Deputy Commander of CSS-2, has taken command of Philly until they can get a new CO assigned.

Two other officers were apparently also re-assigned off the boat as a result of the collision.

Staying at PD...

Update 1337 21 Sep: The AP story is out on the 'net.

Update 0530 22 Sep: The New London Day story is on the 'net (for the next day, unless you register, then you get a week). It not only doesn't say the Philly "slammed" into the freighter (like the AP story), it also points out that the merchant was most likely at fault:

"Aysen apparently ran right up over the back of the submarine, scraping along the starboard side of the hull, the fairwater plane, the rudder and the housing for the towed sonar array, the sources said. At least one blade on the propeller was also damaged.
"Aysen's hull had a 100-foot-long rip just above the waterline. Both ships made it to port under their own power.
"Under international maritime “rules of the road,” any vessel overtaking another must yield the right of way, so legally the Philadelphia might be in the clear, but Navy sources have said even if Philadelphia had the right of way Oxholm is expected to keep his vessel safe.
“The people who command submarines are held to incredibly high standards,” [CSS-2 Commander] Steed acknowledged. Oxholm “has accepted responsibility for his crew's actions in this case, and has done so with a great deal of dignity and professionalism.”

Going deep...

Update 2047 22 Sep: Longer-lasting version of the story from The Day is here, 2nd story down. I'm also hearing rumors that the two other officers reassigned were pretty senior, but don't want to say anything specific until I hear some more...

A Submariner's Dream...

The crew of USS Helena (SSN-725) got a chance to experience the sight that every submariner longs for the most. (Of course, the more jaded among us may claim that a submarine might get this display when they pull into any port they've ever been before, but that just isn't so... you submarine wives have nothing to worry about...)

Update 0517 23 Sep: Here's the story of Helena's homecoming. I'm sure they had a good time, but I'm thinking a port visit set of Yokosuka, Sasebo, Singapore, Guam, and Saipan isn't necessarily the best lineup I've ever seen...

A Site You Can Use

If you're tired of the continual focus in the media on the couple of dozen or so violent acts a day in a country the size of California, and figure that something good must be happening in Iraq (and Afghanistan), check out Good News Central. From their "mission statement":

"Our mission revolves around our Good News from Iraq and Good News from Afghanistan briefings, which cover the extensive and courageous efforts underway by Afghans, Iraqis and their foreign allies to create a better future for themselves - and for us all.
The links above will take you to all of our compiled Iraq & Afghanistan briefings."

Inspired by Chrenkoff's "Good News from..." posts, the site is run by the team from Winds of Change, so you know they'll give you the "straight skinny".

Bookmark the site now -- you'll be glad you did.

Going deep...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

More On The USS Virginia Deployment

Earlier, I mentioned the USS Virginia (SSN-774) had deployed much earlier in their post-commissioning cycle than normal. We now learn more about the "deployment" from Bob Hamilton of The New London Day (who, along with Christopher Drew at the NYT, is a submarine military writer who makes it worth your while to get the annoying free registration required to read their work after a day or so -- a longer lasting version of the article can be found here, second article down). Here's some of what the article has to say:

"Following the official designation, the first of the Virginia-class submarines slipped away from its pier at the Naval Submarine Base Sept. 12 on its initial classified mission, at least 18 months ahead of schedule, and years earlier than the last first-of-a-class submarine in the Navy fleet. It is being billed as a “short” deployment — how much less than the standard six months, and exactly where the Virginia will operate and what it will do, the Navy isn't saying...
"...Virginia's deployment to the U.S. Southern Command less than a year after it was commissioned, he [RADM Mark Kenny, CSG-2] said, is the result of a dire need for submarine surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The idea for an early deployment was broached in April, and quickly developed momentum...
"...Although the officers can't comment on what Virginia might do during its deployment, the Navy is paying increasing attention to drug trafficking in the Southern Command territory, which covers Central America south of Mexico, and all of South America."

So, it looks like the mission the Virginia is doing isn't really a full-blown deployment, but rather one of those "special" missions, one that all you attack submarine guys know what they're doing. The Navy considers any underway where the ship is away from homeport for more than 56 days to be a "deployment" (about a third of the way down in this link); this is different than the 30 day criteria for the crew to receive "Family Separation Allowance" (or, as it's more commonly known, "Lack of P*ssy Pay"). So, expect the Virginia to be gone for two months or so, since they obviously aren't doing the only "real" deployment we do to SOUTHCOM, that being the annual UNITAS run.

One interesting flare-up from this deployment that I expect to see on the moonbattier side of the 'net is discussion of this deployment to Southern Command so soon after whackjob Venezuelan Maximum Leader Hugo Chavez said that he has seen plans for a U.S. invasion of his country. Expect to see hysterical rants from various "anti-war" activists about how the U.S. is sending its "most advanced weapon" to Venezuela. I can hardly wait.

One more quote from the Hamilton article kind of grabbed my attention:

"Rear Adm. Mark W. Kenny, commander of Submarine Group Two in Groton, noted that Virginia's early deployment upholds the tradition of the ship's namesake, the ironclad CSS Virginia, which was commissioned in February 1862 and went to war just a few weeks later."

Now, I know that the Civil War has been over for seven score years, but I still feel uncomfortable with the tendency to count Confederate military operations as part of U.S. military tradition. Yes, CSS Virginia went to war straight out of the yards, but her mission was to sink U.S. warships, which she did very successfully, before USS Monitor arrived.

Anyway, good luck to the crew of USS Virginia, and I hope you bring home one of these.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Nebraska Wins!

No, not the Nebraska Cornhuskers -- although I guess their poorly-played 7-6 outscoring of Pitt was officially a victory, raising them to 3-0 for the season -- but the Culinary Specialists from USS Nebraska (SSBN-739) who were victorious against tough competition last week. [Intel Source: The Sub Report]:

"The kitchen was hot and the race was on as six teams raced against the clock to make the best of their culinary skills in the first-ever Pacific Northwest Navy Iron Chef competition on Wednesday at Naval Base Kitsap-Bremerton.
"Those competing in the event were culinary specialists from the USS Nebraska, USS Columbus, USS John C. Stennis, USS Abraham Lincoln, Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor’s Trident Inn and the Air-Dales from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. And in the end, after the mixing, baking, grilling and not to mention a little determination and anticipation, it was the team from the Nebraska that took home the title of Pacific Northwest Navy Iron Chef.
“It feels really great,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Ross Edwards of the Nebraska, a Bangor-based Trident submarine, who won the competition along with team members Culinary Specialist Seaman Joshua Hiatt and Culinary Specialist 3rd Class Colin Walker. “It was fun doing all of it, but now (winning) makes it all the better.”
"All three team members were presented with the grand prize of a three-day class at the Culinary Institute of America in Greystone, Calif."

Everyone always says that submarine food is the best in the Navy, and it is... as long as you've only been out a week or so. After that, all the fresh fruits and veggies are gone, you're on powdered milk, and the cycle menu starts getting a little stale after the second time around. Plus, if you have an inexperienced Supply Officer ("Chop") who got talked into ordering a pallet-full of rabbit by the Squadron chop, you'll end up with an unhappy crew. I've seen people go back for seconds and thirds of especially unpopular meals and head straight for the trash, because they didn't want to see it recycled for midrats.

Going deep...

Bad Timing By Hollywood

Why, of all days, would six major movie studios choose to announce a big anti-piracy campaign on Talk Like A Pirate Day?
Piracy was occasionally a popular subject on the boats. I used to be a big fan of the concept of turning to piracy (boarding cruise ships and taking the money and valuables from passengers) as a way of paying for expensive repair parts. And all the nukes who were standing bridge phonetalker or throttleman used to love to come to the "Pirating" (Piloting) briefs for underways or landings. Argghhh, matey! Avast, ye scurvy dogs!

Going deep...

Update 0932 20 Sep: Ninme celebrated "Talk Like A Pirate Day" here and here.

New USS Lagarto Photos

NavSource Online has just posted two photos of USS Lagarto (SS-371) from the divers who have been investigating her in her final resting place. The website's been a little balky lately, but you should find them at the bottom of this page.

Cowboy's Final Patrol

Submarine veteran Gary "Cowboy" McLaughlin passed away unexpectedly over the weekend. One of the most diligent contributors to Rontini's Submarine BBS, he will be missed by submariners everywhere. Sailor, rest your oar.

Hand salute... two.

Update 1022 20 Sep: They've got a nice tribute page started over at the USS Sterlet site.

Different Types of Sub-Bloggers

If you head over to Chapomatic, you'll find in-depth essays on vital issues; over at Unconsidered Trifles, you'll find mature discussions on timely political and literary topics.

Here at TSSBP, you'll find jokes like "Why did the gay whale like the submarine?" and single-source rumors about boomers having ORSE prep problems...

I'm only bein' honest...

("...and then the RO let a huge fart rip right in the middle of the FRSU!")

"Peace In Our Time"

I think most people recognize that today's announcement of an "agreement" on nuclear weapons in the Six-Party Talks over North Koreans nukes has all the historical import of Clement Attlee's "scrap of paper", but it's better than spiraling towards war now. (Not that I think the Administration is "appeasing" North Korea, unless "not destroying them immediately" is considered appeasement.) What I'll be interested to see is if the left side of the chattering classes follow the lead of this DU commenter, who seems to think that this is proof that Bu-shitler should have let diplomacy work in Iraq.

To me, this agreement actually shows that if all the "great powers" stick together, they can convince even the most wacko world leaders that they'd better play nice. There's quite a bit of anecdotal evidence that Saddam Hussein actually thought his French, German, and Russian buddies were going to be able to keep the U.S. from invading; maybe if they had stuck with us, we could have gotten rid of the Hussein boys without the invasion.

On the other hand, I don't expect many from the left to say that this shows that Senator Kerry was right in wanting to push bilateral talks instead of the Six-Party Talks.

Current Sub Homeports

From the indispensible Ron Martini, here's a listing of the current Sub Force organizational chart, derived from and accurate as of the publishing date of the latest issue of Undersea Warfare magazine, with links to each ISIC's homepage:


Groton, CT
Seawolf SSN-21
Jacksonville SSN-699
Providence SSN-719
Pittsburgh SSN-720
Springfield SSN-761
Montpelier SSN-765
PCU Texas SSN-775 (being built in Newport News)
PCU Hawaii SSN-776
PCU North Carolina SSN-777 (being built in Newport News)

Memphis SSN-691
Augusta SSN-710
San Juan SSN-751
Alexandria SSN-757
Toledo SSN-769
Virginia SSN-774

Philadelphia SSN-690
Dallas SSN-700
Albuquergue SSN-706

Connecticut SSN-22
Jimmy Carter SSN-23 (The CSP website now has them attached to CSDS-5 in Bangor)
Miami SSN-755
Hartford SSN-768
Annapolis SSN-760

La Maddalena, Italy
Emory Land AS-39

Norfolk, VA
Minn.-St. Paul SSN-708
Norfolk SSN-714
Albany SSN-753
Scranton SSN-756

Hyman Rickover SSN-709
Oklahoma City SSN-723
Newport News SSN-750
Boise SSN-764
Hampton SSN-767

Kings Bay, GA
Florida SSGN-728
Georgia SSGN-729

Rhode Island SSBN-740
Maine SSBN-741
Louisiana SSBN-743

Tennessee SSBN-734
West Virginia SSBN-736
Maryland SSBN-738
Wyoming SSBN-742


Bangor, WA
Columbus SSN-762

Dolphin AGSS-555
Deep Submergence Unit
Arctic Sub Lab
***The three above units are physically based in San Diego

Henry Jackson SSBN-730
Pennsylvania SSBN-735
Kentucky SSBN-737
Nebraska SSBN-739

Ohio SSGN-726
Michigan SSGN-727
Alabama SSBN-731
Alaska SSBN-732
Nevada SSBN-733

San Diego, CA
Salt Lake City SSN-716
Helena SSN-725
Topeka SSN-754
Asheville SSN-758
Jefferson City SSN-759
Arco ARDM-5

City of Corpus Christi SSN-705
San Francisco SSN-711 (has since moved to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard)
Houston SSN-713
Frank Cable AS-40

Pearl Harbor
Los Angeles SSN-688
Bremerton SSN-698
La Jolla SSN-701
Buffalo SSN-715
Charlotte SSN-766
Greeneville SSN-772

Olympia SSN-717
Honolulu SSN-718
Chicago SSN-721
Key West SSN-722
Louisville SSN-724
Columbia SSN-771

Pasadena SSN-752
Santa Fe SSN-763
Tucson SSN-770
Cheyenne SSN-773

Yokosuka, Japan
No attached units

Here's the Adobe file that this list was compiled from; it was found in this article. I'll try to go through all the changes I've seen this summer and update this post with updated info for the affected boats.

Saturday, September 17, 2005

Happy Blogiversary To Me!

This being the first anniversary of me starting this blog, I'm required by fortnights of tradition to write a long, self-absorbed post about "what it all means". When I started this blog a year ago, I really didn't know what to expect. My first post tells what I had hoped to accomplish:

"This blog has a three-fold purpose: 1) To be the one-stop shop in the blogosphere for any submarine-related news item that somehow makes it into the public domain. Don't look here for anything classified, though... just because I post it, doesn't mean that it's true. I'll try to give my best guess about whether or not the referenced article is at all accurate, or (more likely) why the writer doesn't know his ass from his elbow when it comes to submarines.
2) When submarine news is slow (as it normally is) I plan on exposing, mocking, and holding up to ridicule any particularly stupid items that get put out by the chattering classes (pajama-clad or mainstream). Does this mean that my opinion is any better than anyone elses? It depends on how you define "better". If it means "contains at least a little logic and some realistic knowledge of how the world really works" then I hope the answer will be yes.
And finally, this blog will 3) fulfill a promise I made to my sons to start a blog as soon as I got out of the Navy."

Throughout the last year, I've tried to share with those who were interested -- in addition to news and discussions about submarines and submariners -- my views about the world around us, as seen through the lenses of my experience as a submarine officer, and as expressed by my motto, my philosophy of life, and "Bubblehead's Law". (These are: "The stupid shall be punished", "When all else fails, simply revel in the absurdity of it all", and "Never attribute to malice that which can be explained by incompetence", respectively.) OK, so I didn't make up "Bubblehead's Law", and it's really just a restatement of Occam's Razor for human nature, but that doesn't make it any less true. (My philosophy of life, however, I did come up with on my own. If you Google the phrase, and come up with this post, I'm the CENTCOM LCDR they're quoting.) Hopefully, I've been able to help my readers understand my perception of the way the world "really works", especially in the macro-political sense. (Some examples are here and here.)
While I try to devote at least half of my posts to submarining, I've been able to throw in a few posts mocking and belittling those who deserve it, as well as political discussions and posts of general interest. When I started this blog, I had an idea that I thought was so clear-cut and self-evident that everyone who read it would immediately understand why we're at war. This post, that I had thought was going to change the world, can be found here. Since you've most likely never read it, it obviously didn't have the impact I'd hoped for -- such is the life of a newbie blogger.

Here's a look at the last year in numbers and short answers--
Visitors: Over 90,500
Page Views: Over 199,200 (if this goes over 200,000 tomorrow, I'll probably edit this)
Blog Posts: 610
Group Blogs Administered: One (Ultraquiet No More)
Instalanches Received: Two (Here and here). Glenn really is the best blogger out there, and I just wanted to let him know that if the Great Blog War ever gets hot again, I've got his back. (Take that, Frnak J., and your "Alliance of Flea Blogs", too!)
Times I whined about Michelle Malkin not linking to me: Two (here and here)
"Pity links" Michelle gave me in response: One. (The other link I got from her was at least somewhat deserved, IMHO.)
Number of failed attempts to write a "humorous" post: One. I figured that a post about someone becoming near suicidal trying to "live-blog" an event (the NCAA basketball championship game) using Blogger would be a big hit. Instead, I got one comment from someone who recommended a better webhost. I suck at writing "humor".
Spamments removed: Probably coming up on a hundred
Most comments on one post: 122, for what is unarguably my most "popular" story, about asshat Fred Phelps and his family protesting the funeral of Cpl. Carrie French here in Idaho.
First blogger to link to me: bothenook. Thanks, Bo.
First non-submariner to link to me: Ninme. I have no idea why she's not the most popular blogger out there -- she's really good.
Attempts made to cache all my posts about the San Francisco collision in one place, in chronological order: One, over in the May archives of Ultraquiet No More. I've got about a third of them posted now, and I'll eventually finish.

Mostly, this year for me has been about interacting with great people I never would have met otherwise -- other bloggers and, most importantly, my readers. It's been about trying to correct, in a small way, some of the misperceptions that exist in the media about submarines. It's been about honoring the memory of MM2(SS) Joseph Ashley and all other submariners on eternal patrol. And it's been about one man trying to find a way to remain connected to the life that he loved: submarining. Thanks for making this journey with me, and I hope you'll continue sharing this small part of my world.

Thanks for visiting,
Joel Kennedy -- "Bubblehead"

Staying at PD...

Update 1944 17 Sep: Thanks to everyone for their good wishes in the comments, and thanks especially to Ninme and Mudville Gazette for mentioning my blogiversary. Just one small request -- I'm 250 page views away from 200,000, and I figure I have until 11:14 PM MDT until the actual anniversary of my first post to reach this milestone. Keep clicking on those links!
(Update to the update 2332 24 Sep: Thanks also to fellow sub-blogger Gus Van Horn for the mention.)

Update 2359 17 Sep: Well, I didn't quite make it to 200K page views; ended up about 150 short. Still, it's way more than I could have reasonably hoped for when I started blogging. As an additional postscript, I did some actual research, and found that what I called "Bubblehead's Law" above is actually called "Hanlon's Razor". I doesn't matter what it's called, as long as one remembers it when tempted to believe some wild conspiracy theory...

Friday, September 16, 2005

USS Virginia Deploys

Although I can't find it on-line yet, I hear from a reader that USS Virginia has gotten underway on her initial deployment. Coming less than a year after her commissioning, this is a really remarkable feat. From the press release:

"The lead ship in the Navy's newest class of fast-attack submarines, USS Virginia (SSN 774) departed Naval Submarine Base, New London, and began its maiden deployment Monday, Sept 12, 2005.
"Virginia, commissioned Oct. 23, 2004, at Naval Station Norfolk, Va., is homeported at SUBASE and commanded by Cmdr. Todd Cramer."

Get back safely, guys...

Around the Sub-Blogosphere...

Sub-blogger Photios has posted an eyewitness account of SFO's arrival at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.

Rob has reported aboard his new boat, USS Olympia (SSN-717). Head on over and tell him he's dinq!

Lubber's Line discusses the continued attrition of the extralegal Columbian sub force.

From last week, Xopher posts some sub porn.

As always, you can keep abreast of all the goings on of the deep-diving side of blogdom by visiting our group submarine blog, Ultraquiet No More.

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Indian Submarine Fleet To Grow

Winds of Change has a good article, with lots of links, on the growing Indian submarine fleet, and in particular their recent decision to build six French/Spanish-designed Scorpene subs. The current Indian submarine force consists of either imported or indigeniously-produced Type 209 (German) or Kilo Class (Russian) boats; they got rid of their old Foxtrot-class boats a few years ago.
Of special interest is the stated Indian intention of constructing their own nuclear submarine. This would put them in select company, since currently only five countries (U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia, and China) build nuke boats.
If current rumors from Bellona (an anti-nuclear group) are true, India is planning to lease two Akulas to train their crews to run an eventual Indian-built nuke boat. The fact that India has leased a nuclear boat from Russia before lends credence to these reports.

Expect the first generation Indian nuclear boats to be very loud...

Message From The CNO

[Intel Source: Citizen Smash] If you haven't seen it already, check out this P4 message from the CNO about his impressions of the damage caused by Hurricane Katrina, and the Navy's response.

The whole message can be found here. It concludes:

"At NAS New Orleans I came across a bunch of Seabees working feverishly on the wooden platform for what was going to be a temporary dining facility. It was a contract job, but the contractor was having problems rounding up the necessary manpower and resources. The Seabees didn't ask permission, didn't wait for orders. They simply rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
"Hey, they needed help," one said. "And we know how to do this stuff."
"We do, indeed, know how to do this stuff, and we are doing it exceptionally well. Standing amongst them, I was never more proud to call myself an American Sailor."

To see more about what the Navy is doing, check out the Navy's Hurricane Relief Effort page.

Wednesday, September 14, 2005

Lt. (Ret) Perry Writes Again!

My old buddy Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.) has written another article on a submarine mishap for Soldiers For The Truth -- this one on the recent USS Philadelphia collision. I discussed my objections to (Ret.) Lt. Perry's earlier articles on the San Francisco grounding here, here, and here in response to his stories here and here (Edit 2348 14 Sep: One of the articles I complained about now seems to be missing from their website... I guess they thought it was too stupid to retain. Also, the links in my original posts don't work anymore, but I corrected the links to Perry's original articles at the bottom of the comments in a couple of my posts). In many of these posts, I postulated that Lt. Perry (Ret.) was an "asshat". Has he overcome his propensity for sphincter-cranial insertion? I'll answer that question later on in this post.

Let's look at some of what Lt. (Ret.) Perry has to say:

"Perhaps the real question is how a large ship like the 625-foot, 52,000 ton vessel like the Yaso Aysen could get so close to a submarine without any maneuver to prevent collision?
"Maybe it was because it gets awfully dark at sea on some nights and ships are normally almost silent. My suspicion is that Philadelphia was not using her radar in order to make identification as a US submarine more difficult for those that would do her harm. Philadelphia's sonar should have detected the Yaso Aysen and shown a constant bearing, a clear caution to Philadelphia...

"...The one element that will affect CDR Oxholm's future is the Submariner's Professional Ethos, which tells submarine skippers to maneuver early on to avoid collision regardless of the rules of the road. This is because a submarine is always more vulnerable to damage than a surface ship.
"Thus, depending on what the investigating team discovers, CDR Oxholm's superiors might take a dim view of his ship colliding with another. Yet, unless the investigators discover some kind of culpable negligence or an intentional act that flies in the face of prudent seamanship, I believe that CDR Oxholm will ultimately survive."

Perry asks some reasonable questions. I'll provide my response after I get back from running some errands...

Post continued 2243 14 Sep: I'm back, and I've deleted the first spam comment already (so you don't think that Ninme's just blabbering about nothing in her comment, there used to be a spam comment above it.)

Back to Lt. Perry's article -- actually, it's about as good as one could expect from a skimmer. He apparently doesn't understand the concept of "baffles" as it applies to sonar, especially a sonar sphere on the surface. (For non-submariners, "baffles" are the area in back of the boat that sonar just can't see very well, because the boat's in the way. The width of the baffles varies, but you really can't see much about 45 degrees either side of dead astern). Obviously, a ship overtaking you would come out of the baffles, and you wouldn't see it on sonar until it was coming alongside; and if it was on a collision course, you probably wouldn't pick it up at all -- particularly with a ship that long (the propellers and engine room being in the back). He might be thinking we'd pick it up on the towed array, but subs don't have that deployed when they're on the surface.

He also figures the Philly wasn't using their radar, assuming that we wouldn't want a terrorist speedboat with ESM gear advanced enough to identify a BPS-15 radar set to be able to pick it up (/sarcasm). He could be right; I really don't know enough about current Fifth Fleet SOP to say if we do that or not. However, submarines do carry a commercial Furuno radar set that they can mount on the bridge, and almost every boat uses it if it's not broken. (You don't have to click on this link unless you want to see an official Navy document that says submarine training facilities have commercial Furuno radar as standard equipment in their navigation trainers.) If the Furuno is broken, I would assume that most prudent COs would go ahead and use their BPS-15.

Earlier in the article, Perry mentions that "later reports indicate that the Yaso Aysen approached the USS Philadelphia from the submarine's port quarter and overrode the submarine, damaging the screw and rudder, the sailplanes, a periscope and denting Philadelphia's hull." If he's going only based on media reports I can't really fault him for that, but I think the merchant hit the Philly's starboard side. I base that on the damage to the starboard fairwater plane in the second picture in my post below, and no apparent damage to the port plane. (It's hard to see, but I have the high-res version of the pic.)

Finally, he states his belief that Captain Oxholm will "survive" (not get fired). If the Submarine Force follows tradition, the CO will almost certainly be fired, even if he didn't violate any Rules of the Road other than the General Prudential Rule in Rule 17. He might have a point here, but not for the reason he states. I'm starting to think that the Navy might not want to "admit guilt", as it were, by firing the CO when fault for the collision is still to be determined. Since I have confidence that CDR Oxholm is a good CO, that might not be the worst thing for the ship and crew. I also assume that there won't be other COs who figure they can run into other ships without repercussions since one CO didn't get fired...

Conclusion: In his latest article, Lt. Raymond Perry, USN (Ret.) displays ignorance, but not asshattishness.

Staying at PD...

CNO Visits Groton...

...and talks about submarine production rates, appointing submariners to new positions, and (gasp!) women on submarines:

"Mullen seemed rather disarming when dealing with a standing-room-only crowd in Wilkinson Hall at the base for his all hands meeting. When a particularly sensitive topic came up — a young female sailor asked whether women will ever be on submarines — he turned to the men whispering in the back of the room with a raised eyebrow and intoned, “murmur, murmur,” evoking a chuckle from the crowd.
He noted that one of the submarine community's own, Adm. Frank L. “Skip” Bowman, the retired head of Naval Reactors, said a few years ago that he expects women will serve on and command submarines in the not-too-distant future.
Some of the career submariners said it's an answer that all sides can live with, leaving open the possibility to those who support the initiative, and putting opponents on notice that they have some time to figure out how to make it work.
“I think that's out there,” Mullen said.
“Is it going to happen tomorrow?” he added. “I don't think it's going to happen tomorrow.”

Anyway, it's a really good article, so check it out and discuss among yourselves while I'm at work; I might have some more comments later tonight.

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

More News on USS Lagarto

This web site has some good information on the dives that have been done on USS Lagarto (SS-317), which was sunk in May 1945. If you scroll down, there are a couple of pictures (also here and here) taken of the sub recently, as well as a sketch of how she's positioned in her grave.

There's also a good story in The Hawkeye about Lagarto CO CDR Frank Latta:

"Since its discovery, Navy officials and the diving team have had some disagreement over the ship. The Navy considers all sunken U.S. ships gravesites, off–limits to people in general.
"However, the divers who found it would like to document the submarine, which is intact and sitting upright on the ocean floor. According to Karen Duvalle of the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, Wis., the crew was given the OK to photograph the ship from the outside in mid–July, mostly to confirm that the submarine is, in fact, the USS Lagarto.
"Two family members visited the wreckage with the divers, armed with letters, pictures and other mementos Lagarto families have sent them to be read or placed at the site as a goodbye to their loved ones.
"I know Michael is very thrilled to have some closure," said Carol Latta, sister–in–law to Michael Latta, son of Cmdr. Frank Latta. Carol was married to Patrick Latta, another son, who died 12 years ago. "Mike always wanted to go by the last known site and drop a wreath. He was never able to do that. But now he'll have some conclusion before he dies."

As always, the USS Lagarto page at DBF Network is your best source for the latest news on SS-317.

Going deep...

Good Thoughts From Rob

Fellow sub-blogger Rob offers some useful thoughts on how the Democrats can possibly regain their status as one of the two major political parties in the American political landscape. It's fairly long, but worth the read if you, like me, think the country is better off with two (or more) functioning political parties. (Living here in Idaho has taught me that having only one party isn't necessarily the best idea.) Some excerpts from Rob's post:

"...right or wrong people don't see Democrats as a really good alternative. Being a "big tent" party also makes us look like we have no platform. Not a bad thing, being so wide open, but it gives the appearance of lacking focus.
"That and the GOP anti-liberal attack machine that has equated Democrats with liberals, liberals with being un-American and un-Patriotic, and the entire left with being anti-values and anti-Christian. Among other things.
"Now I don't see any "liberal" or Democrat or political lefty as "un-American". We may all have different views, but find me a liberal who seriously says "down with America" and I'll genuinely be surprised. Much of the criticism of Bush/U.S. policy is made out to be anti-American, but criticisim and critical analysis is a much needed commidity in this day and age. I'd ask conservatives to stop demonizing that which they don't agree with. Not that we on the left don't do it from time to time, but no one's perfect and demonizing that which we don't agree with it something we should try to avoid, too..."

Rob goes on to offer six specific suggestions, which all look fairly valid. Some, like "don't be reactive, be pro-active" (go ahead and introduce legislation to enact you policies even if you know they won't pass, to hopefully start a debate), are excellent. I remember hearing Senator Kerry last year talking about his planned "Military Bill of Rights" (it's gone from his web site, but here's the Google cached version). I thought it sounded pretty good, but wondered why, if he thought it was so important, he hadn't bothered to introduce the bill in his previous 19 years as Senator. Voters could see that maybe he was only talking about it as a ploy to get elected.

Regarding his call for Republicans to stop calling "liberals" unpatriotic, I have a problem with that whole meme. Whenever a Democrat is questioned on his stands on national security, liberals will scream, quite shrilly, that people are "questioning their patriotism". Interestingly, it's hard to find any actual quotes where mainstream Republicans actually say words to the effect of "he's not patriotic"; in fact, it mostly seems to be Democrats who "question people's patriotism". (More quotes here; I didn't bother to look up source references for all of them, but they sound reasonable.)

(Although Rob doesn't bring it up, I also have a big problem with people saying that you're "stifling their dissent" and "violating their First Amemdment rights" if you point out that they're idiots for engaging in certain political speech. Those who point out problems with political speech are themselves engaging in protected political speech -- the First Amendment keeps government from restricting speech, not citizens who "stifle" speech by pointing out that it's stupid.)

As far as his contention that there aren't political lefties who are "anti-American", I'll agree that there aren't many who will admit that they are -- it's just a coincidence that essentially every position they take is in favor of our international rivals.

Anyway, Rob has some good points, and I hope the left side of the blogosphere takes notice... but they won't. Democrats today are in such a state of utter collapse and confusion that it'll take getting their butts kicked in several more national elections before they realize they can't continue to nominate people like Gore and Kerry if they hope to make an impact. If the only thing holding the party together is hatred of a lame duck President, they'll remain in serious trouble.

Monday, September 12, 2005

The Truth Revealed At Last...

Courtesy of Frank J. at IMAO, we now have actual proof of the control KKKarl Rove has over all right wing bloggers. (Please note that I'm more of a moderate-right blogger, so I don't get the talking points memos myself... plus, I only get 400 hits a day, so I'm not really big enough.)

Going deep...

Pictures of Philly

Just got these pictures of USS Philadelphia in port in Bahrain after her collision with M/V Yaso Aysen. In this first picture, looking aft from the sail, it's clear that the merchant rode up on Philly's deck:

Here's a picture from the dock looking at the starboard side; note the damage to the fairwater planes:

I expect the Navy will be posting high-res versions of these pics on their website very soon...

Staying at PD...

Update 0923 13 Sep: WillyShake posts some thoughts on the pictures at Unconsidered Trifles. And I'm not sure why the Navy hasn't put the pictures up yet...

It's Football Season!

As September rolls around, everyone at the Bubblehead household gets excited about football season. Pro football causes a little bit of contention -- we've got one serious Carolina Panther fan, two less-involved Dallas Cowboy fans, and one father who likes the Chargers as well as the Panthers. College football doesn't cause as much of a problem -- the boys root for Nebraska, and Subbasket only occasionally mentions how she hopes they lose all their games because of what they did to her wedding.

Break -- New topic. A post by Vigilis at Ultraquiet No More last week got me thinking about communications bandwidth on submarines. When I was on the USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) back in 2000, both subs had SIPRNET (the crypto-keyed military version of the Internet) connectivity when they were up at periscope depth. It made communicating with the boat a lot easier; instead of having to pass everything on the radio or my message, I could get them info over real-time chat. It'd be great; I'd be sitting at my computer, playing Minesweeper working on vital staff paperwork, and the sub would come up on chat. At times I'd have three chat windows open with the boat: the JOOD on his computer in Control, the CO from his stateroom, and a radioman wanting messages they'd missed. It was pretty sweet.

Anyway, back to football (these two topic do eventually tie together). I've seen at least part of every Super Bowl since probably Super Bowl IV, back when I first became aware of the game. (I remember getting a Joe Namath Jets uniform when I was about six, and I'd always be playing football with the neighbor kids -- I'd tie rags around my wrists as "wristbands", and I'd have a towel hanging from the front and back of my pants like the centers used to have (so they and the QB could have clean hands.) Two of the Super Bowls I saw were at sea -- the one in 2000 on the Stennis, and Super Bowl XXVII in 1993 on USS Topeka. We were just finishing our deployment, and had the ORSE team onboard. As soon as the evolutions were done, we surfaced the boat and were able to pick the game off the #2 periscope from a Tijuana station. I only saw a couple of plays (including the famous Leon Lett fumble) but it was enough to keep my streak alive. All because submarines have had the capability to receive high rates of data for a while now. (See, I tied the two disjointed topics together at the end.)

Bottom line: expect to see more football talk here for the next few months, especially if Nebraska keeps winning...

Going deep...

Edited 1614 12 Sep to correct an embarrass embaras stupid typo...

Once Around The 'Net

Some things I saw surfing the 'net this weekend (between football games):

--PigBoatSailor has been very productive this week at The Discomfort of Thought; check out his description of some really "crappy" duty days.

--This is one of the weirdest optical illusions I've ever seen.

--Check out the "Autorantic Virtual Moonbat" over at Damian G's blog (near the bottom of the page.)

--Glenn Reynolds asks a reasonable question.

--M. Simon at Power and Control is celebrating his first blogiversary.

--And lastly, the guys at the Greeneville Underground Newsletter continue being "happy Sailors"... [Bad word warning!]

Going deep...

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Four Year Ago Today...

...I was standing Senior Supervisory Watch on PCU Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) at Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton, CT. We had manned the watches for the first time on the boat the day before, and were just getting ready to start testing the primary systems in the Engine Room. The Captain came into Maneuvering and asked me for the 1MC (general announcing circuit) mike. He had an announcement to make...

Groton was pretty much the only military target between Boston and New York, and we knew by then that the planes had come from Boston. There was a big conference going on in town that day, and the Secretary of the Navy, NR, SubLant, and SubPac were there, as were most other bigwigs that had anything to do with submarines. When the THREATCON was elevated to the highest level in Groton, we wondered how they were going to get so many boats underway so quickly; at least one actually got underway, as I remember, before someone realized that they didn't really want the boats to actually head out to sea (even though that particular THREATCON had boats get underway without further order back then). I stayed on watch on the boat all day; eventually, we decided we weren't going to get any testing done, and I headed home. I had heard that "the towers had collapsed" but it didn't really hit me what that meant; I thought that maybe the top part had fallen off. When I got home, I saw the video of the collapse through the window as I was walking towards the house...

Check out Winds of Change for a roundup of 9/11 anniversary news and posts around the blogosphere. Mudville Gazette looks like they're posting powerful pictures of the attack throughout the day.

I will never forget...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Damage to USS Philadelphia Detailed

Check out the new Bob Hamilton article in The New London Day (do it now, before annoying free registration is required!) discussing the damage USS Philadelphia suffered when being run over by a merchant earlier this week [Edited 1147 13 Sep: Longer lasting copy of the article available here]:

"The collision between the USS Philadelphia and a Turkish merchant ship in the Persian Gulf this week left the two ships entangled, unable to separate for more than an hour, Navy sources said.
"In addition, a preliminary assessment of the damage has shown that it is more extensive than indicated earlier and that some major repairs could be necessary.

"The worst damage includes a rather large hole in the rudder, scoring on at least one propeller blade, damage to a periscope and damage to the fairwater planes, the large fins on the sail of the submarine that help it maintain depth control when it is submerged, the sources said.
"There is a fairly long list of other damage as well, the sources said. The hull has a small dent, the housing for the towed sonar array was crumpled, some sound-absorbing tiles were ripped up and a number of scrapes were left along the length of the ship."

The one that may surprise some people is that a periscope was apparently damaged. I imagine that the scope probably got clipped by the very tip of the merchant's bow, and may have been the first thing actually hit... that'd be a big surprise to anyone manning the 'scope at the time.

Staying at PD...

Friday, September 09, 2005

Replacing Your Fishing Gear For Cheap!

An article in the New London Day (registration required after today; longer lasting version here, 3rd story down) reminded me of the stories we used to hear about fishermen in Groton going and putting their old lobster pots in the middle of the traffic lanes so they could get the Navy to buy them new ones when the subs "hit" them.

"At first Chaplaski thought his net had snagged on the bottom, 1,200 feet below. Then something began pulling the 150-ton steel boat backward, causing it to shake violently.
"Chaplaski raced to the winch to release the brakes on the five-eighths-inch-thick steel wire attached to the net and the twin 1,000-pound “doors” that keep the net open. That prevented the boat from capsizing. He later discovered that one of the wires had been sliced in half.
“It was over in a matter of seconds, but the crew was really shaken,” he said. “It could have been much worse.”
"Chaplaski, who lives on Flanders Road, is convinced that his gear became entangled with one of the two U.S. submarines he had seen about two miles from the Neptune shortly before the incident."

Now, I know it's been done before where a sub has pulled a fishing boat along without knowing they had someone hooked, but I don't think it's ever been done when there was another boat nearby to tell their "partner" where the surface traffic was. I suppose it could always be a first...

Anyway, feel free to discuss your run-ins with fishing boats in the comments this weekend.

Going deep...

Can A Sub Get A Fair Hearing?

As it becomes more obvious that USS Philadelphia was the "stand-on" vessel in an overtaking situation with the Turkish M/V Yaso Aysen in their recent collision, the next question becomes: who will be held legally responsible? It may not be a clear-cut as it might seem, mostly because of the unique light and radar cross-section characteristics of submarines.

The most recent example I could find where a U.S. submarine had been hit by a civilian ship where it was the surface ship's fault was back in 1925, when S-51 was sunk by City of Rome. In that case, U.S courts held that both ships were responsible: City of Rome for not reducing her speed in an unclear situation and not signalling her course change, and S-51 for having improper lights. (Another website that explores the S-51 sinking more thoroughly can be found here.)

COLREGS Inland Rules require that submarines operating on the surface display a flashing yellow (or amber) light -- the requirement is near the bottom of Rule 1. This is because subs appear much smaller than they actually are, both visually (from the positioning of their lights) and on radar, especially from dead ahead or astern. Subs can also hang a "radar reflector" on the bridge which gives a stronger radar return. However, during wartime, I wouldn't be surprised if our boats aren't doing that; additionally, I don't know exactly where the COLREGS demarcation line is for Bahrain, but the collision may very well have occurred on the "International Rules" side of the line, so operation of the Sub ID beacon wouldn't have been "required". The running lights on submarines don't really meet the requirements of the COLREGS; they always told us that submarines had an "exemption" from the rules. This case may tell whether that "exemption" is recognized by international maritime courts.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

"Tolling the Boats" In Seattle

My readers in the Seattle area might be interested in checking out the "Tolling the Boats" ceremony at Kirkland's Marina Park Pavillion at 2 p.m. on Saturday.

"Masoero is organizing a ceremony in Kirkland to honor all 65 lost U.S. Navy submarines and their thousands of crew members who have been lost at sea in the last century.
``To remember all those on eternal patrol,'' Masoero says, veterans from the 1930s to the 1990s will participate in a formal Tolling of the Boats ceremony at 2 p.m. Saturday at Kirkland's Marina Park Pavilion.
"Also included will be a Holland Club Induction Ceremony, to honor nine veterans who qualified as submariners 50 years ago. The club is named for John Holland, designer and namesake of the Navy's first operational submarine, which was commissioned in 1900."

These ceremonies are always very emotional. If you're in the area, you owe it to yourself to attend.