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, November 30, 2005

It Once Was Lost, But Now Is Found

Army exchange students at the Naval Academy apparently made off with the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy (given each year to the winner of the round-robin in football between the three major service academies) on Monday night. Luckily, the trophy was found earlier tonight in a storage locker.

Looks like the Navy exchange students at West Point have a pretty tough act to follow...

USS Dolphin Returning To Sea

I was gonna do a post about USS Dolphin (AGSS 555), the U.S.'s only commissioned diesel submarine, getting ready to return to sea after her flooding casualty in 2002, but MT1(SS) beat me to it.

Going deep...

You Want Submarine Sea Stories?

Then head on over to the After Battery, scroll about a quarter of the way down, and start clickin' and scrollin'. More than enough sea stories from the diesel boat days there to keep anyone busy for quite a while...

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

"There Shall Be Unsubstantiated Rumors..."

"...and rumors of unsubstantiated rumors." Unlike reputable sites, (like the unofficial-official news source for the sub-blogosphere, The Sub Report), this web site doesn't have any scruples when it comes to printing unsubstantiated rumors about submarines.

A reader sent in a link to a livejournal entry from someone saying she was the girlfriend of a Sailor in Groton. Part of the entry (paraphrased) said:

While they were down training last week, (boyfriend's name) sub had an accident and I'm wondering if anyone knows anything. I know the basics and (he) said it's mostly under wraps but there are still guys in ICU and he's still under the doctor's supervision.

I'm not printing the link, because I really don't want any well-meaning girlfriends getting a "talking to". (And don't try Googling-- it doesn't seem to be indexed yet.) From her previous entries, I'm guessing her boyfriend might still be in Sub School (based on when the boyfriend went into the Navy), but he might have gotten to a boat already if he went straight there from BESS. On the other hand, it could be that it was a trainer accident at Sub School rather than on a boat. I normally wouldn't say anything, but some of the comments to the post made me think that there might have been something that happened...

Anybody hear anything about this? Or should I delete this entry? Let me know either way...

"Fisking" A "Captain"

Over at Democratic Underground, they're very excited about a letter that appeared in the European and Mideast edition of Stars & Stripes yesterday. This letter, allegedly from a Capt. Jeff Pirozzi (no service or unit given, only that he's in Camp Taqaddum, Iraq), is quite a piece of work. Some excerpts:

"Weapons of mass destruction? I’m still looking for them, and if you find any give me a call so we can justify our presence in Iraq. We started the war based on a lie, and we’ll finish it based on a lie. I say this because I am currently serving with a logistics headquarters in the Anbar province, between the cities of Fallujah and Ramadi. I am not fooled by the constant fabrication of “democracy” and “freedom” touted by our leadership at home and overseas.
"This deception is furthered by our armed forces’ belief that we can just enter ancient Mesopotamia and tell the locals about the benefits of a legislative assembly. While our European ancestors were hanging from trees, these ancient people were writing algebra and solving quadratic equations. Now we feel compelled to strong-arm them into accepting the spoils of capitalism and “laissez-faire” society. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy watching Britney Spears on MTV and driving to McDonald’s, but do you honestly believe that Sunnis, Shias and Kurds want our Western ideas of entertainment and freedom imposed on them? Think again."

Interesting. Let's have a closer look at his "fact-filled" diatribe, shall we? OK, his description of the "logistics headquarters" he serves at as being between Fallujah and Ramadi agrees with this web page. This also provides us with a clue to his branch of service; Anbar province is a Marine area, and the web page linked above says there's a Marine Logistics Group (the 2d MLG) at Camp Taqaddum. Based on that, and the way he abbreviates "Captain", I would guess he's in the Marines; the Army uses CPT. He could also be in the Air Force, since they abbreviate Captain the same way.

Let's look at the "fact" he presents to demonstrate the superiority of Iraqi culture over Western: "While our European ancestors were hanging from trees, these ancient people were writing algebra and solving quadratic equations." Could be a good point, except that algebra was invented in 820 A.D., several hundred years after the height of Greek and Roman culture -- a little bit past the "hanging from trees" period. Quadratic equations? Sorry, discovered by an Italian (Lodovico Ferrari) about 1545 A.D. Not too good on the research there, "Captain".

It'll be interesting to see what happens as people start to try to figure out who this Captain is, and if he really exists (or if Stars & Stripes got taken for a ride)... There's at least one mil-blogger at Camp Taqaddum; we'll see if they have anything to say.

Staying at PD...

Update 0111 29 Nov: I looked half-heartedly through the ALNAV Marine Captain promotion messages for the last several years, and didn't see his name, so he might not be a Marine; or, as I stated, he might not really exist.

Update 2250 29 Nov: In response to one of the comments, I don't think the writer of this letter, if they really are a military officer in Iraq, should be punished. People in the military have a right to express their opinions (within limits); I just think it's bad form, especially when anyone who's even semi-informed would realize that this could become a big deal politically.

I also realized that I had left some of the stranger statements in the letter un-Fisked. I was surprised that such a progressive person would imply that Americans have "European" ancestors; not very inclusive to a society whose citizens have ancestors from six continents, not just the one he mentions.

Later on, though, he gets to the heart of his argument -- why we're really in Iraq. Any guesses? Here's what he says: "...our ultimate goal in 2003 was the security of Israel and the lucrative oil fields in northern and southern Iraq." Of course! It was the jooooos! And, while he doesn't mention it specifically, we're probably stealing all the oil to give it to the jooooos...

Update 2318 01 Dec: Four other officers (three in Iraq, one in Afghanistan) respond to Capt. Pirozzi. None of them liked his letter too much. Wonder if DU will have much to say about those letters...

USS Virginia Returns

USS Virginia (SSN 774) returned home to Groton last week following her arduous "deployment in support of the Global War On Terrorism".

She started her "deployment" back on Sep. 12, and got back home on Nov. 23, making it an 11 week deployment in all. Based on reports I kept getting, it seems she was pretty much operating out of P-Can and Kings Bay quite a bit of the time. Don't get me wrong -- I'm sure this deployment was way cooler than what my old boat, USS Connecticut (SSN 22), did during her first long underway from Groton. (By cooler, I don't mean temperature-wise, since Connecticut went up to the Arctic. I mean in a "we got a lot of publicity for cruising around the Caribbean for 2 months" kind of way.) It probably just took longer for Virginia to get back because she's reportedly not quite as fast as a Seawolf.

Anyway, I'm sure she and her crew did a great job, but I will offer them one piece of advice: next time, don't bother with those things that appear to be some sort of two-sided-stickie-tape-held-up numbers on the sail -- they look kinda tacky.

Going deep...

Monday, November 28, 2005

Geekiest Joke Of The Day

A quantum physicist is stopped on the highway by a police officer, who asks "Do you know how fast you were going, sir?"
The physicist responds, "No, but I know exactly where I am!".

Today's geeky joke was brought to you by the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle.

Going deep...

Time Wasting Geography Game

Over at Rontini's BBS, I found a fun little U.S. geography game where you put the states in the correct location on a map. When I did it the first time, I thought, "Man, I'm good" -- got all of them "perfect", and finished in just under 5 minutes. The next time I played, though, they started me out with Missouri; since there are no rivers to guide you, that one's a little tougher. (I was also off a little with Nevada with no surrounding states to work off).

Anyway, if you're bored, or want to show off your knowledge gained from all your cross-country trips, you should check out the game.

Honoring The Crew Of HMCS Chicoutimi

I was pleased to see the Canadian Navy honoring the bravery and skill of the crew of the submarine HMCS Chicoutimi. The crew was presented the Canadian Forces Unit Commendation as a result of their actions during and after the tragic fire over a year ago.

I guess I shouldn't still be amazed at the different responses of the Canadian and American Sub Forces to accidents that befell their vessels. While the Sub Force did honor individual heroes from the USS San Francisco grounding (including HM1(SS) James Akin), no unit award was even considered, as far as I know. I would challenge anyone to come up with a recent example of a crew doing better, in a more stressful situation, than the effort shown by the crew of the San Francisco in bringing their damaged ship home.

Going deep...

Sunday, November 27, 2005

"Phased Withdrawal"... A New Plan?

My good friend Rob has a post up about the current discussion over a "phased withdrawal" from Iraq. Part of Rob's post:

"Seriously, it looks like the campaign to get out of Iraq is now going to start spinning at the White House. All of a sudden the Iraqi forces will be proclaimed "ready" and we'll finally start pulling out. Not necessarily because it's the right thing, but because it's the politically right thing...
"...Murtha had a plan...something Bush has been lacking since invading and overthrowing Saddam Hussein. Was it a good plan? Maybe...maybe not.
"I personally have decided on what I think is a good plan:
1. Set an end date. Say, 1 January 2007. By that date we will be out of Iraq.
2. Start turning over the bulk of missions to the Iraqi security forces. From now on the major offensives belong to them.
3. Start reducing troop levels immediately following the upcoming Iraqi elections."

I responded thusly to his post in the comments (with minimal editing for clarity):

"Amazingly, the overriding OPLAN I saw at CENTCOM in 2003, which they're still following (as far as I know, with modifications of dates) also envisioned a phased withdrawal. Since no one but the wackiest moonbats has ever said we planned to be there forever ("14 permanent bases!") I'm not sure how the Administration is changing their plan. Just because they didn't announce the timing several months in advance isn't evidence of them changing their minds."

[Note on classification: While this website seems to be claiming that even the existence of OPLAN 1003V, the Iraq War operational plan, is some big secret, it's not really. The website says that "(i)ts existence was revealed in late September 2004, by a classified Pentagon document leaked to the London Evening Standard newspaper"; apparently unknown to the people at the "Center for Media and Democracy", its existence was also "revealed" earlier by Gen. Tommy Franks in his biography, "American Soldier", which was published in August 2004 (pp. 385 and 417 for those who have the hardcover edition). I don't think that saying it included a plan for eventual withdrawal is that big a secret.]

The big problem with "setting a date" well in advance is it gives the enemy a better opportunity to plan. We want to avoid what happened when Israel pulled out of Lebanon in 2000; Hizbullah was able to ramp up their attacks, and then claim that they "forced" the occupiers out, winning propaganda points on the "Arab street". From the linked article:

"Even as they quit their bases, the Israelis are coming under ferocious mortar, missile and artillery bombardment by Hezbollah, or Party of God, the militant Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim guerrillas who have outlasted the Israeli army and disheartened the Israeli public by inflicting a steady toll of casualties on Israeli troops.
"While Israel officially portrays its pullout as the end of a tragedy and a reasoned strategic shift, Hezbollah says it is determined to demonstrate that the Israelis are fleeing Lebanese territory under fire and are suffering a humiliating military defeat."

We've never planned on staying in Iraq forever; "as the Iraqi Army stands up, we'll stand down" has always been the plan. Anyone "in the know" (i.e. Congressmen and Senators) who says otherwise is looking to score cheap political points.

Going deep...

Update 2226 28 Nov: Via Instapundit, a link-filled article at QandO that shows that the "new" plan being proposed by the Democrats looks a lot like what's been the Administration's plan all along.

Movie Review: "Rent"

OK, so I went and saw "Rent" this weekend. I'm man enough to admit it, and confident enough in my masculinity to not care what my fellow submariners think about it. Besides, I got to nap while SubBasket and daughter (home from college for the weekend) went and saw "Pride and Prejudice", and I knew I couldn't get out of two chick flicks in a row.

Plus, I've always enjoyed musicals, and I like seeing how they go about the difficult task of converting a stage musical to film. Overall, I think they did a pretty good job with this one. The music isn't up to the standards of "Les Mis" or "Chess", but it was pretty good. The storyline, though, is something that might take some getting used to. A movie that focuses on eight Lower East Side bohemians in 1990 (four of them AIDS-afflicted) is a film for which one might think America would not be ready.

I disagree. It's obvious to me that the U.S. is not only more accepting of what was previously considered "sexual deviancy", but actually embracing it. Exhibit #1 is this documentary I'm always seeing on TV late at night when I can't sleep and I'm channel surfing around in the Comedy Central/Spike TV area of the clicker. This documentary, sometimes showing on two or three channels at once, is a celebration of young college girls exploring their sexuality, unafraid of showing off their assets to the camera. It also focuses on their tentative explorations into the forbidden pleasures of Sapphic love, and shows what seem to be fraternity boys (clearly a conservative demographic) cheering these young ladies on as they open themselves up to the "undiscovered country" of same-sex kissing and cuddling. I'm not sure what this documentary is called, but I think PBS put it out, because they keep interrupting the "action" to encourage you to buy a tape of the show. Still, it shows that Middle America might be ready for the frank discussions of sexuality and general weirdness of "Rent".

This was obviously the Illuminati's plan, because it's clear to me that Ashcroft and his gang of cultural Nazis must have written the script. Here are eight talented young people, so full of promise, who have basically thrown their lives away for the transitory pleasures of cheap sex and heroin. The movie serves as a warning to those who might seek to emulate this lifestyle, a message that could only come from the "No Fun Allowed" Religious Right. Which is too bad, because where the movie isn't trying to preach, it seems like it tries to establish "street cred" by showing an accurate portrayal of this idyllic life, as we see the freedom-loving denizens of the neighborhood spontaneously bursting into well-choreographed song. I want to live in a place like that...

Anyway, if you like musicals, and aren't totally grossed out by two guys kissing (a lot) you could spend a worse two hours than by seeing "Rent". I'd give it three disturbingly-attractive transvestites out of five.

And does anyone know what that documentary I mentioned is called? I think it's "Girls Gone..." something.

Going deep...

Saturday, November 26, 2005

"The Truth"

Many years ago, the comic Bloom County had a Sunday strip where Binkley decided it was his mission to go around the neighborhood and tell his friends uncomfortable truths:

"It was on a Sunday morning much like this one that Binkley awoke with the truth. It had presented itself in a short dream involving talking coffee pots and a shimmering image of Bob Barker’s Head on Bette Midler’s body. Its credibility thus firmly established, our hero, freshly burdened with an awesome clarity of vision, realized what he must do . . .
Binkley: I must enlighten the masses!
Binkley: The truth, Steve, is that "Knight Rider" is actually a children’s program.
Steve: Can’t be! Can’t *@#!* be!!
Binkley: The truth, Lola, is that for the most part "The Monkees" never played their own instruments.
Lola: No!!
Binkley: The truth, Opus, is that you look more like a puffin than a penguin.
Opus: Aaigh!
Binkley: The truth, Dad, is that the likelihood of the American Military ever handing "Star Wars" technology over to the Communists is about that of Reagan handing Nancy over to Bruce Springsteen’s roadies.
Mr. Binkley: My God . . .
His mission complete, the cosmic whistle-blower retires to the autumn clover . . . burdened with the knowledge that while he has made the world a smidgen smarter, he has by no means made it happier. This, he muses, he must think hard upon.
Opus: The truth, Binkley, is that you look like a carrot."

Many people feel like you don't do anything useful by making people confront the possible foolishness of their most deeply-held beliefs. I normally subscribe to this school of thought, except where conspiracy theorists are concerned. These deluded people have withdrawn from any hope of useful participation in our democracy by their lack of understanding of how the world really works. I'm concerned for them, and want to help bring them back to becoming functioning members of society. While I recognize that my readership probably doesn't include a lot of conspiracy theorists, I figure that if I can help just one regain his or her grip on reality, I'll have done my job. That being said, here goes:

The Truth, French documentarian Jean-Michel Carré and his foolish supporters, is that the U.S. subs in the area had nothing to do with the sinking of RNS Kursk. In your amateurish film, you claimed that USS Memphis had sunk Kursk with a torpedo after she collided with USS Toledo. When submarines go out on deployment, they get a certain number of torpedos. When they come back, these torpedos get unloaded, by lots of people. Any one of these people would know if a torpedo was missing; and no, you can't just load one in the middle of the ocean, or in a Norwegian port, without lots of yard workers noticing. Speaking of yard workers, if Toledo was really badly damaged, they would have had to go somewhere for repairs, and people would know about it. Word about this sort of thing would get around the Sub Force. It didn't. And here's another tidbit for those who don't believe me to chew on: This happened when Bill Clinton was President, and Al Gore was Vice President. Don't you think that someone in the military, who moonbats all know support Republicans, would have figured out that publicizing the untruth of American denials of involvement might have hurt Gore in the 2000 election? So why didn't they do it?

The Truth, BYU Professor Steven Jones, is that explosives did not bring down the three buildings at the WTC complex on 9/11. Just think of how many people would have had to be involved to pull this off. It's more than a 2 person job to wire three huge buildings with explosives, and not be noticed. It's a truism that the chances of a secret getting out goes up with the square of the people who know said secret; that's probably pretty accurate. I have some experience in seeing what goes into keeping secrets, and here's what I've figured out: If something happens that needs to get out to the public, someone will have second thoughts, or a change of heart, and get the story out. So why don't all secrets get released? Usually, it's because no one really gives a crap, so the risk of prison time just isn't worth it. Several years ago, one of the topics of conversation that would come up late at night on any submarine was the rumor that USS Tautog had collided with, and sunk, a Soviet submarine in the late 60s or early 70s. While it seems like people would care about that, when the story finally made it out into the news, nobody really cared. (It helped, of course, that the Soviet boat, Black Lila, didn't actually sink.) The point is, lots of people knew about it, and any one of them could have gone to the press (like someone eventually did).

The Truth, Paul Hellyer and various other Roswell fanatics, is that there is no secret program to cover up evidence of recent visits by extraterrestrials. No matter how efficient any secret organization trying to hide things like these might be, eventually they need to replace their personnel. Where would they get the replacements? Do they raise them in camps and indoctrinate them from birth? No, they'd probably go to the organization that has the most people who know how to (kinda) keep secrets -- the military. People going to such an organization would be missed by their friends. Eventually, enough people would figure out that something was wrong, and rumors would start. I come from an organization that would be expected to provide people for such an enterprise, and we don't. And this is something big enough that people would go to the press, or get the word out to their buddies. It hasn't happened.

As I've said before, Hanlon's Razor and Occam's Razor generally apply: Most bad things that happen in the world are because of stupidity rather than conspiracy, and the simplest explanation is usually the best. I ask my readers to try to pass this brief message on to the conspiracy theorists in your social circle; you'll be glad you did. (Actually, you won't, because it'll just get them going off on a rant if they're a true believer. It's kinda fun, though, to hear them carry on.)

Post-script: I had thought that maybe I was the first blogger to use this particular literary device, but a quick Google search shows that at least one person did it before me. I don't feel too bad, though, since that person is the incomparable Steven den Beste. While I wasn't original in the strictest sense, I will claim that I at least came up with the format independently.

Restore The Order

I'm a conservative, which generally means I get uncomfortable when the established order is overturned. For me, the main constant when I was growing up was that the Nebraska football would always dominate every conference opponent that wasn't Oklahoma. This especially included Colorado.

Lately, though, the established order has been overturned. After NU won 18 consecutive games against CU during my formative years, Colorado won a few games in the late 80s and early 90s, but then we turned around and won 9 straight. During the last four years, though, it's like the world has turned upside down: Colorado had beaten us three of those four years.

I didn't expect much out of today's game. Nebraska was a 16 point underdog on the road, and wasn't really playing for anything other than maybe a "better" bowl game. Colorado, on the other hand, needed the win to clinch the Big 12 North title. I figured that our "West Toast offense" would find a way to throw enough interceptions that we'd lose easily.

Shows you what I know. The Boys in Red showed that they have the heart, character, and skill to lay a traditional beat-down on the Buffalos, winning 30-3 in a game that wasn't really that close. Outgaining the Buffs 497-212 was the way it should be -- and tonight I don't even mind that 392 of the yards were through the air. The best thing I saw, though, was the players showing off the "Restore The Order" T-shirts the coaching staff had given them when the game was done. This shows me that the new coaching staff is maybe starting to realize that Nebraska tradition means something.

Another thing that was the same was the behavior of the Colorado crowd:

"With just more than 10 minutes left in the game, Sections 115 and 116 of the CU student section were asked to leave the stadium after continually throwing bottles, tennis balls, and even golf balls, onto the field.
“They probably felt the same frustration that all of us felt today and they just had some things they could throw,” said Colorado coach Gary Barnett. “They’re just a microcosm of what we were feeling inside as well and we just couldn’t do anything about it.”

The University of Colorado, previously best know for whackjob professor Ward Churchill and rioting over not being able to drink underage, now gets national attention for having idiotic fans. Good for them!

And for those who were wondering: Yes, I still thing NU Athletic Director Satan should be fired. Had we not scrapped the option for a passing offense, we probably would have won 51-3.

Going deep...

Friday, November 25, 2005

Canadian Moonbats Are Funny

[Intel Source: The Drudge Report] Every once in a while, you get a former high government official who goes off the deep end: Pierre Salinger about TWA Flight 800, former US Department of Labor chief economist Morgan Reynolds about 9/11, and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark about pretty much everything.

But for some reason, it seems funnier when a former Canadian Minister of Defense loses his marbles:

"On September 25, 2005, in a startling speech at the University of Toronto that caught the attention of mainstream newspapers and magazines, Paul Hellyer, Canada’s Defence Minister from 1963-67 under Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Prime Minister Lester Pearson, publicly stated: "UFOs, are as real as the airplanes that fly over your head."
"Mr. Hellyer went on to say, "I'm so concerned about what the consequences might be of starting an intergalactic war, that I just think I had to say something."
"Hellyer revealed, "The secrecy involved in all matters pertaining to the Roswell incident was unparalled. The classification was, from the outset, above top secret, so the vast majority of U.S. officials and politicians, let alone a mere allied minister of defence, were never in-the-loop."
"Hellyer warned, "The United States military are preparing weapons which could be used against the aliens, and they could get us into an intergalactic war without us ever having any warning. He stated, "The Bush administration has finally agreed to let the military build a forward base on the moon, which will put them in a better position to keep track of the goings and comings of the visitors from space, and to shoot at them, if they so decide."

I love that logic: "I never saw anything official about it, so it must have happened". I also like how the "moon base" gets brought up; clearly, a base on the moon, with solid ground blocking your field of observation, would be much more efficient than satellites at one of the LaGrange points... (/sarcasm)

It probably won't surprise those familiar with Canadian politics in the 60s and 70s that Paul Hellyer also served as Deputy Prime Minister under Pierre Trudeau. (Trudeau, while a charismatic and important leader, will probably, when the history of the age is written, be best remembered for responding to the concerns of 60s student activists by marrying a hippie.)

Anyway, I'm sure there are those who have valid reasons for believing that intelligent aliens have visited Earth recently, and the government is covering it up. I also know that there is intelligent life in the universe. That being said, I know as much as I know anything that the government is not covering up evidence of a landing of aliens in Roswell; you just can't keep a secret like that. I'll discuss more about why that is in a later post. [Update 0200 26 Nov: The promised post is here.]

For now, just revel in the amusement provided us by our friends to the north... they sure know all aboot saying silly things, eh?

Emergency deep! (To avoid counterfire from my good friends who happen to be Canadians...)

Update 0828 26 Nov: Instapundit has much more on the alien threat.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Thanksgiving Message From The CNO

The Chief of Naval Operations, ADM Michael Mullen, released a Thanksgiving message to the Sailors. An excerpt:

"Around the globe and in all manner of ways, you are standing a vigilant watch. You help ensure peace and stability in places that have historically known neither. Giving hope to those in need and pause to those who threaten freedom, you make sure - every single day - that the fight remains on the enemy's doorstep. In places such as Indonesia, Pakistan, and even our own Gulf Coast, lives torn asunder by natural disaster are, by your hands, being restored and renewed. The people you have helped are grateful, Americans everywhere are grateful, and I am grateful for your service.
"That service, of course, can and does demand the highest of sacrifices. We should be especially mindful this year of those families who will have one less chair at the table, as well as those who have no chair at all, much less a home in which to celebrate it. Theirs will be a particularly poignant holiday, and I ask you to keep them in your thoughts and prayers."

And, from the Bubblehead family, Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

Going deep...

My Brain Is Full...

...of all sorts of worthless crap. Most submariners have pretty good memories -- but our heads get so full of things like casualty immediate actions and qual trivia that we have to get rid of stuff like birthdays of anyone outside of our immediate family in order to make room for it. For me, it seems even worse; my brain is so inundated with worthless trivia that it's a wonder I can remember where I parked my truck.

Today is Thanksgiving, so naturally my thoughts turn to Christmas; inevitably, I start thinking about Christmas carols. And not the normal Christmas carols, either -- that'd be fairly useful. No, instead I remember these parody Christmas carols that came out in Mad magazine back in late 1976. One example:

Sam and Roz Are Comin' To Town (to the tune of Santa Claus Is Comin' To Town)

You'd better give up,
On Christmas this year;
You haven't a chance
With relatives here;
Sam and Roz are coming to town

They're bringing their kids,
To add to your fun;
They're staying 10 days
You thought it was one;
Sam and Roz are coming to town

They'll monopolize your bathroom,

They'll destroy your solitude;
They will eat you out of house and home,
Then complain about the food.

Oh, there's only one way,
To save your Noel,
Just give them the house
And take a hotel.
Sam and Roz are coming to town.

Now, I haven't seen that magazine, or read those words, in almost 30 years, but I remember them perfectly. I figured that there must be other people so afflicted, so I went searching on the web to see if these poor souls had tried to exorcise their demons by putting the lyrics on-line. Lo and behold, I found someone who had put the lyrics up. I wasn't the only one! Interestingly, it's also on an official government web page for Prince Edward Island, with one line changed.

I tried some of the other songs I knew. "It Hangs Down From Our Chandelier" was another one I remembered word for word; therefore, I was able to know that this is essentially what was in Mad, and this version isn't. The "right" version:

"It hangs down from our chandelier;
We have no idea what it does.
Its shape is weird and
It drips with goo,
And lets off a high-sounding buzz.

It grows a couple of feet each day,
And wiggles with kind of a twitch.
We keep it 'cause it's a present from
A visiting uncle who's rich!"

(I remembered the last two lines as: "The only reason we keep it's 'cause, it's from a vis'ting uncle who's rich".)

"We Three Clods From Omaha Are": Found it on this message board.

"Oh, Little BankAmericard": Found here. This one kind of dates the songs; for those who don't remember BankAmericard, it became Visa about when this song came out.

"Wrap Your Gift With Fingers Agile": Same site; this one was at least rumored to have come from Mad magazine.

These examples I found were all either professionally collated sites, or people who remembered onesies-twosies. I was worried that I was the only one afflicted with having to remember them all, until I found this post in a message board (12th post down). I wasn't alone! Somehow, that made me feel better.

Now, if I could only get the litany out of my head that starts: "Feed station, Maneuvering, take manual-electric control of the port and starboard feed reg..."

Anybody seen my truck?

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Sub-Bloggers Garner Mad Props

Great post over at about Submarine bloggers. Although it doesn't mention Chapomatic, it's still a fairly complete listing of the submarine-themed blogs out there (although the blogroll at Ultraquiet No More has a few more that aren't listed).

And while you're over at MilBlogging, take a few minutes to vote for your favorite blogs for the "MilBloggies 2005" awards. Remember, though -- there's only one "p" in "Stupid"...

Going deep...

Bell-ringer 2117 22 Nov: JP at already expanded the list. Pretty impressive...

42 Years Ago Today...

From President Kennedy's Inaugural Address:

"And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.
"My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man."

I was 3 months old when President Kennedy was martyred, so I don't remember anything about it. I do remember five years later, though, going into my parent's room to find my Mom crying on the bed over the similar fate suffered by his brother. Not because she loved his politics, but rather because of the snuffing out too early of the promise that these brothers showed, and the ideal of public service that they represented.

I remember back in 1999, when JFK Jr. was lost. There were people complaining that Navy assets were being used to search for his plane, wondering if a normal citizen would get the same attention. At the time, I wished the Navy would have said: "No, but we'd do the same for any namesake son of a martyred Commander in Chief. So f**k off." It's probably a good thing I wasn't a Navy spokesman back then...

Sailor, rest your oar...

USS Scranton At The Pole

Obviously, USS Scranton (SSN 756) isn't at the North Pole; she's currently hosting Good Morning America off Norfolk. But, apparently because of the increased interest in the boat, the Navy decided to re-release some pictures of Scranton and her visit to the Arctic (or "Artic", as the text accompanying all four photos says) back in 2001. These pics can be found here, here, here, and here.

Going deep...

Update 1958 22 Nov: More from the Good Morning America segments on the USS Scranton can be found here.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Moving In Or Moving Out?

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] The story accompanying this picture at Yahoo News says that the continued presence of U.S. subs in La Maddalena, Italy, was discussed today at a meeting between the U.S. SecDef and the Italian Defense Minister:

"Italian Defense Minister Antonio Martino said after a meeting in Washington, Tuesday, Nov. 22, 2005, with Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, that the United States was withdrawing its submarines from La Maddalena. The move is part of a general reshuffling of U.S. military forces and resources throughout Europe, and the timing of the move will be decided later."

I'm surprised I haven't seen anything else on this. Maybe Rumsfeld was giving into the intrepid protestors who demonstrated earlier this month against a hallucination that the U.S. was going to base a sub there; or, maybe we're giving in to the Sardinian regional president, who wanted our boats to leave. More than likely, if the tender really does move out (since there's no reason for the USS Emory S. Land (AS-39) to stay there if boats aren't pulling in), we'll see whining about the loss of money and jobs, like we saw in Rosie Roads.

Going deep...

Update 2104 22 Nov: Via The Sub Report, here's more on the eventual removal of U.S. forces from Sardinia.

On an unrelated note, while looking for backup information, I came across a Google hit for the Commander's bio on the SubGru 8 website. Here's what I found... it's not too impressive. When you move your mouse over the SubGru 8 logo, you can see it will try to send you to the C: drive of someone's computer. Anyway, here's Rear Admiral Mauney's bio on the Navy website. (He was my Squadron CO when my old boat USS Connecticut was commissioned.)

Venezuelans Sub Shopping

Just a quick link to a Strategy Page article on Venezuela's Maximum Leader Hugo Chavez looking at new Russian submarines. As far as Strategy Page articles go, it isn't too bad.

As I've mentioned before, I'm not that worried about Chavez, since tinpot Latin American dictators tend to get "taken care of" by their own army officers. Maybe he's looking at the submarines as a way to eventually escape to Cuba.

Going deep...

Monday, November 21, 2005

GMA On USS Scranton

As previously mentioned by The Sub Report, Good Morning America will be broadcasting from Norfolk tomorrow, and news anchor Robin Roberts will be reporting from, and spending the night on, USS Scranton (SSN 756) on Wednesday:

"The Navy and the show’s producers announced that Roberts will go to sea on Wednesday aboard the Norfolk-based submarine Scranton and report live while the submarine is under way. She’ll spend a night aboard the Scranton.
"On Tuesday, Roberts is scheduled to visit the Submarine Learning Facility at the naval station, where submariners sharpen their skills in everything from firefighting to navigation."

Guess the XO gets to find somewhere else to sleep that night...

Update 2221 22 Nov: From ABC News, a report on the first day of the GMA visit to Norfolk. Not surprisingly, the topic of women on subs was addressed, and VADM Munns had the answer:

"Many countries allow women to serve on submarines, but the U.S. forces, only men can serve.
"For the submarine service we deploy for six months, the countries you talked about deploy for two weeks," Munns said. "The living space on a submarine is [the size of] a three-bedroom house, with 140 people in that space. It is a matter of privacy."

The article also said that USS Scranton is "just larger than a football field" but that's a little misleading; LA class boats are 362' long, or 2 feet longer than goalpost to goalpost, but are significantly narrower (only 11 yards across).

Why Hunting Season And Christmas Don't Mix

"Big Game" hunting is a big deal here in Idaho. I finally figured out why they stop deer hunting season in November, though -- they don't want Dancer or Prancer to end up like this:

It's the red lights forming the "gut pile" that really sells this one. I'm not sure if Retired Geezer over at Blog Idaho had posted this already or not, but it looks like this might have been his work.

Update 2245 22 Nov: Speaking of deer, here's a page that made me chortle and guffaw when I first read it a few years ago. Bad word warning! (There's even more to this site; here's the home page, with links to other info about "The Deer Game".)

"The Love Bo-oat"

The cover story on this week's Navy Times talks about the hanky-panky that was uncovered on the new destroyer USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93); 13 Sailors have apparently been accused of fraternization, adultery, and other unauthorized exchange of bodily fluids. For those who can't get to the Navy Times story, some articles with basic information can be found here, here and here. The cases about which we are able to read the most involve officer/enlisted fraternization; in the most recently-tried case, the officer involved had recently married the petty officer in question.

Two of the stories disagree about how the Navy had managed to work around an spousal immunity from testifying in the case of the newly-married couple -- this one says that "[Chappell's] wife, Yarbrough -- who had been convicted at a special court-martial Aug. 2 for two specifications of unauthorized absence, disrespect to a superior petty officer and two instances of fraternization -- agreed to testify against him as part of her plea agreement."; the other, more believably, says: "As part of the pre-trial agreement, her confinement was limited to 90 days, and Yarbrough agreed to testify against the other party in the earlier fraternization case". (She was accused of two counts of fraternization, with both her new husband and a supervisor at a previous command.)

When I was on the USS John C. Stennis, I was always amused at the various orders the command would give "outlawing" sexual intimacy between crew members. Let's be honest, threat of punishment is not going to overcome 18 year old hormones, in many cases. There were a few people sent home from the Stennis because of inability to keep their zippers zipped, but as a percentage of the crew, the number of people caught was fairly low.

On submarines, we don't really have this specific problem, due to lack of one gender aboard. Of course, there's the odd case where guys can't keep their hands off some other Sailor's wife, but all in all, the problem is not nearly as bad in the Sub Force... yet.

Going deep...

Update 0058 22 Nov: And because it always makes Sailors giggle to hear this: "Penetration, however slight, shall be sufficient to complete the offense."

Update 0715 22 Nov: CDR Salamander has much, much more, including a discussion of possible racial undertones in the punishment.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

USS Ohio On Sea Trials?

Word on the street is that USS Ohio (SSGN 726) might be out on the sea trials mentioned in this Navy Times story. Contributing to this information, Photios had mentioned that he was going out on Ohio's sea trials soon, and now he reports that "business takes (him) away".

Good luck to everyone on board...

Report That Al-Zarqawi "Blowed Up"

Normally, I don't get too excited about rumors from the Middle East about this and such a person dying, but this one sounds almost believable enough that I don't feel completely embarrassed about passing it on:

"The Elaph Arab media website reported on Sunday that Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the head of the al-Qaida in Iraq terror group, may have been killed in Iraq on Sunday afternoon when eight terrorists blew themselves up in the northern Iraqi city of Mosul.
"The unconfirmed report claimed that the explosions occurred while coalition forces surrounded the house in which al-Zarqawi was hiding. American and Iraqi forces are looking into the report."

Maybe he was depressed after his family denounced him.

Staying at PD...

Update 1721 20 Nov: Travelling White House press spokesmen call the report "highly unlikely and not credible", but no outright denials yet. The Washington Post mentions that the military is "examining the dead" at the bottom of this story.
And, of course, over at DU, most either don't believe al-Zarqawi ever existed, or that this news has been made up by Bushitler because 1) he's travelling in China, 2) Rep. Murtha made a speech, or 3) to distract the American sheeple from his low poll numbers.

Update 2111 21 Nov: Dammit!

Subs Return Home: Babies Held, Wives Kissed

At least four boats have returned home in the last month from deployments: USS Philadelphia, USS Memphis, USS Key West, and USS Louisville. As is appropriate, the Navy NewsStand photos focused on what was important to the crew: seeing your family again.

They had pictures of babies being held here and here, and pictures of wives being kissed here and here. For us sub pr0n fans, they had a decent picture of USS Louisville's bridge, and, in a rare action shot, we get to see the traditional lei being deployed on USS Key West. A closer version of the above-linked shot is below:

Have a good time on stand down, guys... you've earned it.

Going deep...

Update 0524 21 Nov: Another boat, USS San Juan (SSN 751) returned home yesterday, and for today only (unless you do the annoying free registration), you can read about it at The Day, and see their pictures of both a baby being held and a wife being hugged.

Supporting The Troops And Stifling Of Dissent

Many people opposing the war in Iraq on principle have been saying that they and most of their compatriots "support the troops" by wanting to bring them home. That's probably true. Others, though, aren't quite as good at supporting the troops. Via Chaotic Synaptic Activity, check out the E-mail from a college professor to one of his students who was trying to bring in an OIF veteran to speak on campus:

Dear Rebecca:
I am asking my students to boycott your event. I am also going to ask others to boycott it. Your literature and signs in the entrance lobby look like fascist propaganda and is extremely offensive. Your main poster "Communism killed 100,000,000" is not only untrue, but ignores the fact that CAPITALISM has killed many more and the evidence for that can be seen in the daily news papers. The U.S. government can fly to dominate the people of Iraq in 12 hours, yet it took them five days to assist the people devastated by huricane Katrina. Racism and profits were key to their priorities. Exxon, by the way, made $9 Billion in profits this last quarter--their highest proft margin ever. Thanks to the students of WCCC and other poor and working class people who are recruited to fight and die for EXXON and other corporations who earning megaprofits from their imperialist plunders. If you want to count the number of deaths based on political systems, you can begin with the more than a million children who have died in Iraq from U.S.-imposed sanctions and war. Or the million African American people who died from lack of access to healthcare in the US over the last 10 years.
I will continue to expose your right-wing, anti-people politics until groups like your won't dare show their face on a college campus. Real freedom will come when soldiers in Iraq turn their guns on their superiors and fight for just causes and for people's needs--such freedom fighters can be counted throughout American history and they certainly will be counted again.
Prof. John Daly

Hey, isn't this one of those examples of trying to "stifle someone's dissent", or does that only apply if the person being stifled by a perceived authority figure is a progressive?

(And because I don't have a copy of the original E-mail, and can't verify that the copy of it on the YAF website wasn't the source of the error, I won't make a big deal about a college English professor mis-spelling "hurricane". Or the 3rd sentence below the mis-spelling that doesn't quite seem to follow the traditional "subject/verb" structure.)

Unrelated blog admin note: Because it's really not worth a separate post, I just wanted to brag about how I got my 250,000th page view this morning. Thanks to the person from the Littleton, Massachusetts area who visited about 0642 EST this morning, and viewed six pages over 14 minutes and 33 seconds.

Oh, and make sure to vote for the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More (and me!) for the 2005 MilBloggie Awards... we're tied for 2nd and 3rd place, respectively, in our categories.

Going deep...

Update 1057 20 Nov: On another unrelated blog admin note, I should thank everyone who's linked to me, enabling me to hold on to Large Mammal status in the TTLB ecosystem for over a week now. I'm humbled and honored... and, of course, now that I've mentioned it, I'm sure I'll drop back down when they re-index tonight.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

OK, We All Have Typos...

...but sometimes I might expect fewer of them from junior high English teachers, as does this poster over at Martini's BBS. In case they correct or replace it quickly, here's the last two lines of the current web assignment for their students:

"Music is the prefered medium, but not required. Spelling is do Friday." [Emphasis mine]

Going deep...

Update 1919 21 Nov: This is too classic. Those who click on the link above (and here, for your convenience) will notice that they updated the assignment, so the part I quoted above is now gone. The new assignment: "Finsh Projects!!!"

We Didn't Invade Iraq To Pick Cherries

An informative (and long) post over at The Mudville Gazette on the history of the Iraq War from 1990-2003 got me thinking about why we find ourselves occupying Iraq. The Mudville Gazette post has most of the source documents, so I'll just write my thoughts without the usual number of links.

When we stopped the "Gulf War" ground offensive after 100 hours, it's clear that the first Bush administration assumed that Saddam would be overthrown from within; after all, he had basically said that God would decide who would win the war, and then he lost... in the Western experience, such a leader would be replaced. Not for the first time, we didn't understand the Arab mindset. They don't really believe all the slogans they shout. (Actually, some of them do, but they remove themselves from the political discussion by becoming suicide bombers in a kind of Darwinian self-unselection.) Arab governments rule by fear and ruthlessness; the political opposition in Arab countries expects to be tortured -- it's just their way of doing things.

We ended up with a situation where Saddam wasn't replaced after having initiated, and lost, a war of aggression. (I can't think of a non-Arab example of this happening in the last 150 years.) Clearly, he deserved to be removed for his crimes, but we didn't do it when we had the chance. There followed a decade of petty brinksmanship from Saddam, with frequent spankings by the U.S. and Brits that would make him settle down for a while.

After 9/11, it seems like the new Administration decided that they had the political backing to finally give Saddam his just desserts. Not from a "finish Daddy's job" or "grab their oil" point of view, but from a "this guy is going to realize he's going to die before becoming the next Nebuchadnezzar; who knows what he'll do when he starts to feel his own mortality". I think they realized that there was a good chance that he'd do something unbelievably stupid in order to ensure his "place in history", especially if he wasn't sure his sons would inherit his office. As a result, they decided to take him out while they could.

How to convince the American public, and the rest of the world, to go along with it? Well, WMDs seemed to offer the easiest road... everyone "knew" that he had them, and it'd provide convenient cover to the more progressive element who knew, deep down, that it was the right thing to do, but couldn't justify a pre-emptive attack to their more liberal constituencies. (Most of the politicians who voted for the war, but are now complaining about it, knew that the war wasn't about WMDs, and anyone who thinks they did should consider if they want someone so naïve representing them.)

A current complaint is that the Administration "cherry-picked" intelligence to bolster their claims of an active Iraqi WMD program. I guess I'm not sure that a group attempting to gain support for their position is required to present both sides of the argument. [As far as why we were so sure the Iraqi's still had more than the small amounts of chemical weapons we found, I pretty sure it was because: 1) They admitted they had them in the mid-90s, 2) We made the assumption they were telling the truth, 3) We saw no evidence that they destroyed them after this time, and 4) They sure acted like they had something to hide. It looks like the assumption we made in step 2) was incorrect -- another example of us not understanding the Arab mindset that to show weakness (admitting destroying the weapons) was more dangerous than the hardships caused by continued UN sanctions.]

Back to the "cherry-picking" argument. Full and complete disclosure of both sides of the argument by the Administration hasn't really been required before -- it seems like presenting the "con" side is the job of the political opponents of a given action.

I can imagine how they would have liked to see the Declaration of Independence: "The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States... For imposing Taxes on us without our Consent... but, to be honest, he was just trying to recoup the costs of defending us during the French and Indian War, so he's kind of got a point there."

Or FDR's request for a declaration of war against Germany: "The forces endeavoring to enslave the entire world now are moving toward this hemisphere. Never before has there been a greater challenge to life, liberty and civilization. Delay invites great danger. Rapid and united effort by all of the peoples of the world who are determined to remain free will insure a world victory of the forces of justice and of righteousness over the forces of savagery and of barbarism... Now, I admit that Germany hasn't actually attacked us, and I have been in secret talks with the British Prime Minister on how to run this war against Germany many months before I requested this, and I plan on fighting Germany first even though they didn't attack us at Pearl Harbor..."

In summary: The administration, for right or wrong, decided that we should remove Saddam Hussein and his Baathist thugs from power in Iraq. (I agree with this decision.) As I've mentioned before, essentially all the political decision-makers knew why we were doing it, and decided, either because of political calculation or because they really thought it was the right thing to do, to go along with it. Now that we've let it get a little bit out of control they are looking for a politically-expedient way out. I was hoping that, so soon after 9/11, it wouldn't have returned to "politics as usual" in D.C... but it appears that it has.

Disclaimer: None of the ideas I mention above came from any classified material I read... it's just what I think.

Bell-ringer 2016 19 Nov: Rob blogs on-line journals about this topic twice in a row: here and here. For the record, I've never denied that we sold Iraq dual-use techology, including chemical weapons precursors, when they were fighting Iran in the 80s, and I know we didn't protest too much about their use of chemical weapons against our Iranian adversaries then. Still, the fact that we "aided" them 20 years ago shouldn't preclude us from fighting them later (a couple of commenters at the Mudville Gazette post brought that argument up as well, so Rob isn't alone). Historically, of course, there's no precedent for this; otherwise, in a recent example, we couldn't have fought our WWI allies Japan and Italy in WWII.

Next Week's Chain E-mail

Over at Sgt. Hook's place, there's an E-mail putatively from a 101st Airborne Soldier in Iraq. Since it's fairly new, we (the blogosphere) haven't had a chance to verify the writer is who he says he is (and these things have a tendency to get debunked occasionally) but the sentiments are pretty good. No matter the provenance of the thoughts, they're worth a read.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Movie Review: "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"

Just got back from the midnight showing of "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire"; the audience was excited, the movie was beautiful, and I ended up somewhat disappointed.

The first two movies seemed to mostly be the "setup" -- you were being introduced to the characters, and there was a sense of a "stand back, I'm going to do magic" feeling to them. The third movie, Prisoner of Azkaban, was, and remains, the best of the series. This one, I felt, was kind of a step backwards.

The book on which the movie is based is very good -- and very long. I had heard that the initial plans were to make it into two movies; release one at Thanksgiving, and the next four weeks later. That would have been the right move. Even at 2 1/2 hours, this movie leaves out so much that anyone who had not read the book would be hopelessly lost -- and those who did read the book will be disappointed with what was left out. Not to put in too many spoilers, but the maze scene in particular was lacking much of what made it such an exciting read.

Don't get me wrong -- if you're a Harry Potter fan, the movie is worth seeing. The actor who plays 'Mad-Eye' Moony stands out in particular, and Dame Maggie Smith has an expanded roll, which can't be bad. Just don't go in expecting to feel the movie will add anything to the book experience, like POA did. I can only hope that they'll get Prisoner of Azkaban director Alfonso Cuarón back for the sixth movie (David Yates has already been announced as the director of the next movie, due in 2007).

More later, perhaps, after I've had time to digest it (and get some sleep... the alarm goes off in two hours).

Bell-ringer 2013 19 Nov: Ninme has her review up; she liked the movie, didn't like this particular movie-going experience so much.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

"They Say It's Your Blogiversary!"

Head on over to Ninme's place and congratulate her on her first Blogiversary! As I've mentioned several times, she's probably got the best newslinking blog on the web...

...and then head over to and vote for Ultraquiet No More for Best Navy Blog if you haven't already. (We're currently tied for second place...)

Nuke Power Training Command From Google Maps

SubBasket was playing around with Google Maps tonight, looking for satellite images of our old houses. She found the one we lived in at the Naval Weapons Station in Goose Creek, SC, and I thought I'd see what images they had of the various Nuclear Power training commands located there.

Here's what I found of the NPTU -- you can see (not too clearly) the two Moored Training Ships on the right:

And I'm pretty sure this is the new Nuke School (at least that big complex wasn't there when I was last there in '93):

Anyone out there with more recent Charleston experience who can confirm or deny the validity of that last picture? (This page has a front view that kind of matches up.) And what are all the silver buildings to the left? Barracks?

Of interest, it looks like there is no official Nuke School NIPR site. In looking around for something, I did find this article that kind of talks about Nuke School, and this probably unintentionally humorous "myths" page about submarining from the Naval Academy site. Where else can you find a page that tackles the common misperceptions that "You have to be a super-geek to be a submariner" and "Nuclear Power School is incredibly hard", addressed to students of a "university" where the average SAT score is 1300? And check out the last myth ("Nuclear powered warships are banned from all the cool ports") where they infer that Okinawa and Bahrain are desirable places to go on liberty.

Going deep...

Update 0647 17 Nov: For completeness (and in response to a reader's request), I should add this link to info on NPTU Ballston Spa (on the West Milton KAPL site), the other "prototype" site -- there's not much else on the 'Net, and I was never stationed there, so I don't have any personal experiences. That pretty much covers all the places where the military operates land-based reactors; unless, of course, you subscribe to this moonbat's theory...

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

MilBlogger Central

Via The Military Outpost, I found what looks like will be a great new site: It's self-proclaimed mission is to "help visitors to quickly and easily find milblogs from all over the world" and it looks like they're off to a good start, with over 600 milblogs already listed.

As part of their kick-off, they're sponsoring the "2005 MilBloggies" awards. In order to vote, you have to register with the site, but everyone has a throwaway E-mail address they can use for those sorts of things. Then, once you're logged on, adding a blog to your favorites will cast a vote for that blog. For example, in the U.S. Navy category, you could add "Ultraquiet No More" to your favorites, and they'd get a vote! Then, you could, conceivably, head over to the Veterans category and add, say, "The Stupid Shall Be Punished" to your favorites. It's really easy! You can vote for as many different blogs as you want, but I've heard that if you vote for non-submariners in the Navy category, it'll mess up your hard drive or something... (Yes, I recognize that SMASH will run away with the Navy category, so it's really just a drive for second place that could get Ultraquiet No More some of the attention it deserves.)

Going deep...

USS Philadelphia Returns Home

USS Philadelphia (SSN 690), which was involved in a collision with the Turkish M/V Yaso Aysen in the Arabian Gulf in September, returned home to Groton today. On the same day, the Squadron Deputy who had taken over command when the CO was fired turned the boat over to her new, permanent CO. Captain Brennan, the emergency CO, discussed the boat's material condition thusly:

"She obviously came 8,000 miles back so she does everything she needs to do and was able to answer the bell and accomplish all tasks," said Brennan, who commended the crew Wednesday for its performance after the accident. He said the submarine suffered minor damage to the deck, rudder and stern that will require about a week of repair work. Navy officials said they're not sure where they'll send the submarine for final repairs."

I earlier discussed various aspects of the Philly collision (in reverse chronological order) here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Welcome home, guys... and here's hoping you don't get screwed out of the I & I you deserve.

Going deep...

Update 0635 17 Nov: Here's the article on the homecoming from The New London Day (will require registration after today). Excerpt:

"The Philadelphia's interim commanding officer, Capt. Robert Brennan, said the Sept. 5 collision with the freighter in Bahrain was a “tough day for the ship” but added that the crew performed flawlessly on the 8,000-mile journey back to Groton.
“They're all professionals,” he said. “They were never nervous. The crew's morale was really high.”
"Brennan said the damage to the sub was modest and didn't jeopardize the crew's safety or affect its ability to conduct some operations during its deployment. The sub had left the Groton base on June 10."
[Emphasis mine]

I'm wondering if they ended up having to the whole return trip on the surface. My initial guess would be "no", but then again I don't know exactly how bad the damage was.

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

ComSubFor Must Have A "Six Sigma Black Belt" On Staff

Over at the SubLant web page, I found a description of the "Undersea Enterprise" initiative (Adobe Acrobat document). Here's only one of the exciting highlights of what I'm sure will make us an Industry Leader in undersea warfare:

"Structure: CSF’s effects based management structure consists of a USE Flag Panel, and supporting policy and action teams. CSF leverages the USE Flag Panel, as supported by cross-functional teams (CFT), to increase the productivity of delivering warfare capacity to meet operational demand. The USE Flag Panel, by setting strategy and approving and monitoring metrics linked to personal accountability, uses CFTs to provide the integration of enterprise activities to meet USE objectives."

Doesn't that sound like it's straight out of Dilbert? Maybe one of the active duty guys who read this can enlighten me, but it looks at first glance to be one of those complete wastes of time that will quietly fade away whenever we have the next change at the top of CSF.

Maybe I'm being a little bit cynical. After all, they do have Measures Of Performance:

"• Operational Availability – “Around the World; Around the Clock” - Submarines and undersea surveillance assets deployed for sustained battle space preparation and deterrence
• Improved Commanding Officer Decision-Making – CO’s making optimal decisions under the demands and complexity of the undersea environment
• Submarine Expertise - Experienced people integrated throughout the Joint war fighting, military technology and defense/government management communities
• Culture/Standards/Conduct – “Pride Runs Deep” – Assimilating new crew members into the submarine culture, while maintaining high standards and conduct
• Future Capabilities – Forecasting and meeting tomorrow’s requirements for undersea superiority"

Plus, they have some sort of Venn diagram!

I was wrong... this diagram is sure to establish new paradigms and win the war. With Six Sigma, everything is possible!

Now I'm even more sure I retired at the right time...

Drawbacks Of Immediacy In Media

Here, in its entirety, is a Letter To The Editor from The Idaho Statesman yesterday (last letter at link):

"Was Jesus a clone of God? Well, that would explain almost everything that happened. To those of you who say that technology simply wasn't there, check out the great pyramid. We still don't know how that happened."

See, it used to be that when you were stoned, you didn't have the manual dexterity, or ambition, to address an envelope and put a stamp on it. Nowadays, even the most out-of-it stoner can fill out the on-line Letter To The Editor form after a couple of bowls of that sweet Idaho ditchweed...

Sorry to harsh your mellow, dude, but that's the way it is. And yes, every atom in your fingernail is another solar system...

Carter's Welcome To Her New Home

Found an article in a Washington paper about the arrival of my old boat, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), in her new home of Bangor, Washington.

While I'm normally not too excited about boats making a big deal out of a 25 day underway (and I was especially unexcited about the Carter flying a broom coming back from Alpha trials) in this case I'll make an exception -- many of the families had moved to Bangor over the summer, so they hadn't seen their Sailors in quite a while, and an interfleet transfer of what is basically a new class of submarine is a pretty big deal; lots of chances for stuff to break.

"Capt. Robert Kelso, commander of the Jimmy Carter, also was pleased with the trip from Connecticut. “The ship worked very well through the long trip,” he said. “It only took 25 days, but it has been the equivalent of a deployment for us.”

Welcome to your new home, guys... I look forward to not being able to read about what you're doing to earn the PUCs that are coming your way.

Going deep...

Update 1920 15 Nov: Via The Sub Report, here's the official Navy report on Carter's arrival.

Monday, November 14, 2005

Classic Sub Force "Feel Good" Story

Found this old story that more than anything shows the differences between boomers and fast attacks while trying to play it down. It's a few years old, but still offer some good insights:

"...(LTJG) Kevin (Moller) got to see how the 'other half' of the Submarine Force lives, and we benefited enormously from his superb tactical skills. My junior officers gained a new respect for their boomer counterparts...
"...This "SSN SPECOP ride" initiative is the brainchild of Rear Admiral George Voelker, Commander, Submarine Group Nine. "So far we've had three JO's take advantage of this program, and all have enjoyed great success," Admiral Voelker said. "This program is not meant to diminish the importance of our vital strategic mission, but simply to give our JO's the opportunity to gain more experience across a wider breadth of submarine operations. My hope is that it will give them a better basis upon which to make career decisions. I'm real proud of our three officers who have participated thus far." And Admiral Voelker is backing his program with full TAD funding. "I will pay to fly officers anywhere in the world - the Mediterranean, Japan, the Persian Gulf, …you name it. The key is finding a SSN whose schedule can support us." Admiral Voelker also stressed that the program is "purely voluntary" and will continue as long as the results continue to be as positive as they have been to date.

Interestingly, I don't remember any "Guys on operational SSNs to SSBNs" program...

Seriously, though, although I never served on SSBNs, I had several friends who did, and officers can do very well moving between both types of subs. The Navy tries to get officers to have both SSN and boomer experience in their first three tours, but often aren't too successful; for example, I had orders to a fast boat for XO, so I never would have served on a boomer (although it's not unheard of an officer having his first SSBN tour be his CO tour).

Update 2146 14 Nov: I just noticed that the author of the article is a LCDR Kevin Mooney...

Retirees Like Free Stuff

Just got back from the local Golden Corral restaurant, which gives free meals to veterans each year on the Monday after Veteran's Day. The parking lot was completely full, so we ended up parking across the street. There were about 100 people waiting outside when we got there, and 100 more when we left. (They did bring out cookies and coffee for the people waiting.) One TV station sent out a camera crew -- DeepDiver maneuvered himself to get in range of the shot with a well-timed trip to the dessert bar. Had a great time seeing all the veterans from the Boise area (didn't see any easily identifiable submariners, though). Saw one guy with the "WWII/Korea/Vietnam" hat... there's someone who's seen it all.

Going deep...

Making Fun Of Idaho... not something I would do, since I'm now a resident of this fine state, and plan on living here for a while. gus van horn, on the other hand, has found someone who has no problem making fun of Idaho (bad word warning!).

Going deep...

Sunday, November 13, 2005

U.S. Navy vs. HOA Pirates

The Commissar at The Politburo Diktat asks where the Navy is in dealing with the Somali pirate threat. In the comments, CDR Salamander and Eagle1 bring some sanity to the discussion, and later some submariners weigh in. Add your own thoughts!

And while you're there, check out the rest of The Commissar's blog... it's quite good.

Bell-ringer 2053 13 Nov: Chapomatic adds much more over at his own blog.

Bell-ringer 2110 14 Nov: Updated the first link to match the updated URL. Thanks to The Commissar for stopping by my humble blog to let me know! Also see Eagle1's post for more official-type info on the extent of the HOA piracy problem.

"The Strength Of Ten Grinches... Plus Two"

Looks like Christmas is coming early this year. I saw someone in the neighborhood putting up lights yesterday; I was thinking that this is too early -- the Halloween lights are just barely down. Then, I was channel surfing, and saw that TNT was showing "The Grinch That Stole Christmas" (the real one).

That's still one of my favorite shows. I have the thing basically memorized (having read the book to the kids literally hundreds of times over the years... it was one of their biggest requests). I still love the first appearance of "little Cindy Lou Who, who was not more than two". I feel an unashamed joy when they come to one of my favorite lines. And I still get the shivers when the Who's start singing:

"Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Welcome Christmas,
Come this way!

Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Welcome Christmas,
Christmas Day.

Welcome, Welcome
Fah who rah-moose
Welcome, Welcome
Dah who dah-moose
Christmas day is in our grasp
So long as we have hands to clasp

Fah who for-aze!
Dah who dor-aze!
Welcome Christmas
While we stand
Heart to heart
And hand in hand..."

Only 43 days until Christmas!

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Finally! A 'Husker Win

Nebraska was able to pull out an exciting 27-25 win over Kansas State at home to raise their record to 6-4 and become bowl-eligible; in the process, they avoided the ignominity of a second consecutive losing season (after going without a losing season for 43 years prior to last year).

The game wasn't very pretty, though -- NU gave up two (!) safeties in the 3rd quarter, and would have ended up losing if KSU had just made their extra points (they missed all three attempts).

While this will probably save Nebraska Athletic Director Satan's job for the year, I'm glad to see some influential Nebraskans calling for him to be held accountable. ("Influential" means "former football players" in Nebraskaland.) Scott Frost was the QB for NU in '96-'97; you might remember his throwing the "Immaculate Deflection" (film clip here) that allowed NU to beat Missouri in 1997. (I have a little bit of a local connection with him; Scott's dad, Larry Frost, was the best athlete ever to come out of my hometown of Malcolm, Nebraska.) Anyway, Scott has this to say about Satan and the direction he's taken the program:

"Steve Pedersen brought that on himself when he was so cavalier in making these tough decisions. Right or wrong, hero or villain, he took a big risk and painted himself into a tight corner. Time will tell how everyone is viewed in the history of our program.
"I know I am not the only one who feels this way about all of these issues. Most of the guys that I played with are more vocal than I am about many of these things. It isn’t just former players either... I love Nebraska football. I love the state of Nebraska. I long for the days when the characteristics of the team we put on the field on Saturdays exemplified the characteristics of the hard working people of our state. We used to have the Taj Mahal of college football programs. Now it feels like someone took 40 tons of dynamite to our proud and noble masterpiece and built a three bedroom ranch in its place. I’m not saying all of these things to be malicious or overly critical of anyone, but when it comes to a state institution, people have the right to be judgmental. I just want to share my opinions with all of the Husker fans out there who care as much about the program as I do. "

Go Big Red. I can only hope it will get better, but I don't think it will until we fire the AD and hire former coach Frank Solich in his place. Maybe Nebraska's new governor (after he wins next year's election in a 60 point rout, matching the usual results of the football games he coached) will be able to convince the Chancellor to do just that.

Post-script: In the excerpt from Scott's blog post, notice how he spelled Satan's "human" name wrong. I'm pretty sure this was intentional -- it's said that if you spell his name correctly, he might be able to steal your soul.

Update 1821 12 Nov: Satan speaks.

Update 2305 12 Nov: And for those who think NU football isn't really more important to the locals than any other school's fans... please note the 1000+ comments on the "open thread" for today's game in the local newpaper's football blog (actually one of three football blogs there).