Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Math Doesn't Quite Work Out In This Sub Story

I'm always happy to see stories about sub COs getting the word out to the public about their boat's capabilities and accomplishment, and always fear that their words will get mis-quoted or confused. Such seems to be the case in this article in The New London Day, (annoying free registration required after tonight) discussing the appearance of USS Virginia's CO at a local meeting of the Naval Submarine League in Groton. Excerpts:

"The Virginia-class boats have a nine-man lockout chamber and can accommodate a Navy SEAL mini-submarine or a dry-deck shelter for special forces vehicles and equipment. In addition, the Virginia-class torpedo room can be reconfigured to accommodate a larger number of special operations troops. The submarine also has four 21-inch torpedo tubes and a dozen vertical-launch systems tubes.
"The boat is undergoing post-construction work, called a “post shakedown availability,” at the Groton shipyard. The Virginia arrived Jan. 12 for the work, which could take up to a year and will involve hundreds of EB shipyard workers.
"Cramer, who took command of the new boat in December 2004, told the sub league chapter that in the 400 or so days since its commissioning, the Virginia has been under way for about 220 days. During its 90-day deployment, it conducted operations in support of the global war on terrorism in the U.S. Southern Command, a territory that covers Central America south of Mexico and all of South America...

"The commander said the Virginia steamed more than 90,000 nautical miles during its initial deployment before returning in November of last year."

I blogged about Virginia's departure on "deployment", and about her return. You can probably see some good-natured "ribbing" of the Virginia in these posts, given the natural, friendly rivalry that exists between Virginia Sailors and veterans of the more capable Seawolf-class boats (such as me). Anyway, these posts indicate (based in large part on information provided from The Day) that Virginia's "90 day" deployment was actually about 73 days (Sept. 12 to Nov. 23). That's probably just a rounding error, though; it is correct to the nearest 45 days. The last bolded statement was what really took me by surprise, though. Even is we assume they were really deployed for 90 days (because that makes the math easier), going 90,000 miles in 90 days works out to 1,000 miles a day, or (assuming 25 hours in a day, in case they went around the world and crossed times zones) about 40 nautical miles per hour, each and every hour. Given that the sub's listed speed is "in excess of 25 knots" I suppose that's possible, but I really don't think so... (Note to readers: Please don't put Virginia's actual top speed in the comments; it would only embarrass the Virginia Sailors when they consider a Seawolf's top speed.)

[Another note to readers who aren't familiar with my trademark smart-assedness: Yes, I recognize that the CO was probably saying that the ship has steamed 90,000 miles in her life to date, which, based on 220 days at sea, works out to just over 400 nm a day, which is reasonable... and pretty impressive. Or, he actually said "9,000 miles", and it's just a typo.]

Going deep...


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