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.)

Friday, June 30, 2006

Scenes From The Life Of Parents Of Teenagers

Overheard in our minivan last night, when we were dropping off our oldest son at the bowling alley, and we saw some of the girls he was meeting standing right where we had to let him out:

Me: "Ha-ha. Those girls are gonna see you getting dropped off by your parents."
Rob: "Big pimpin', yo."

Left me speechless...

I Guess People Do Impersonate Submariners

Last month, I complained that you never hear about people impersonating submariners. Some of the commenters thought that this might be because submariners exude quiet competence, because there are no individual heroes on submarines, or because no one wants to pretend to be someone who wears a "poopy suit". It turns out that we might have all been wrong -- a fellow blogger directed me to a transcript of a caller to the Rush Limbaugh radio show yesterday that has "poser" written all over it.

It's hard to tell sometimes what the caller ("David" from El Paso) is trying to pretend to be, but he says at least twice that he's a "20 year submariner". (The first time he says this, the transcript says he is a "20 years Marines", but listening to the audio, he really said "submarines".) He says he was in submarine "Black Ops", which is a term that real submariners don't use to describe what we do. Here's another tidbit that didn't sound right:

"I am not going to put my men at risk to drag somebody back if I don't have room back in my boat, submarine. I'm not bringing them back. He's staying on the battlefield."

No submarine since the USS Barb has sent their crew ashore to do anything tactical -- we (sometimes) carry SEALs for that. Later on, he talks about "soldier Marines", which to me indicates that he probably wasn't even ever in the military -- sure, he was probably nervous, being on the radio and all, but who makes that mistake?

Most interestingly, the blogger who pointed this story out to me thought the caller sounded like the guy who called in on June 2nd claiming to be in an Air Force officer in Iraq -- it turned out there wasn't anyone by his name in the country, nor did the unit he claimed to be part of even exist. I don't have access to the audio archives; if anyone does, and listens to both calls, let me know if you think they're the same guy...

Thursday, June 29, 2006

I'm Famous!

Not really... but I did get a Letter To The Editor published in The Idaho Statesman. It's the first letter here -- basically it's this post cut down to meet the 200 word limit for a LTTE. Seeing it in print, I realize how limiting the format of a Letter To The Editor really is; because you can't put in hyperlinks, unless someone already knew how Congressman Simpson had said that anyone who was a Larry Grant supporter couldn't be a Republican, they'd have no idea what I was talking about.

While I'm talking about how famous (for Idaho) I am, I really should thank all my loyal readers (Hi, Mom!) who put me over the 200,000 visit mark earlier this week. (For those keeping track, it took me 13 months to get 100,000 visitors, and another 8 1/2 to get up to 200K. At this rate of site traffic increase, I'll be getting over 1 million visitors per second sometime in 2012.) So, thank you all very much for stopping by... I'll do my best to keep coming up with content to keep you informed and/or entertained.

300 U.S. Subs In The Sea Of Japan (!)

I know I shouldn't make fun of random commenters on random blogs, but this one cracked me up. Over at New Hounds (motto: "We watch FOX so you don't have to") they have a report about a FOX anchor interviewing former SecNav John Dalton. The segment was apparently about what kind of threat the North Korean sub fleet poses, and Dalton apparently, and correctly, said that it didn't pose much of a threat at all.

The first commenter to respond to the post had this to say about the U.S. sub fleet:

"And of course, the foxy ones said not one word about OUR fleet of trident submarines based in japan and armed with nuclear enough nukes to take out china and nk. i think i read, and i may be wrong, that the us has 300 subs over there constantly rotating and patroling the sea of japan. what a joke fox is."

Yes, "big johnny", you are, in fact, wrong -- we have no Tridents based in Japan, and we only have about 70 total submarines. You are kind of right, though, that the Tridents we have are armed with "nuclear enough nukes" to take out China and North Korea... and then some. North Korea should remember that if they decide they want to play with the big boys again...

Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Two Potentially Contaminated Engineers

So there I was... underway on USS Seawolf (SSN 21) sometime in late '97. I was the Eng on PCU Connecticut (SSN 22), and they sent me out to watch Seawolf's ORSE work-up so I'd have more experience seeing what a Seawolf could do at sea. I knew what a pain in the ass it is to have riders from other boats onboard, so I tried to make myself as inconspicuous as possible and just followed their Eng around. We were getting ready to run the second drill set of the day, and the Eng got called up to the forward part of the Engine Room to check out some water they found on one of the valves up by the RC bulkhead. I went with him, and sure enough, there was water in the driptray for this valve... then we saw water in another valve driptray, higher up... then we saw the water was coming from the deck above us... then we looked down around our feet, and noticed we (the 21 Eng, the 21 EDMC, and I) were standing in puddles of water.

For those of you who aren't nukes, water coming out of pipes on the forward wall of the Engine Room is rarely a good thing. There are some systems that really do have "contaminated" water, and others that are only "potentially contaminated"; being nukes, we treat them as if they were contaminated until we prove otherwise. (This water was coming from an overflow line from a big, big flask -- you nukes know what I mean.)

Anyway, we were standing around in the water, and slowly it hit us... all of us were potentially contaminated with radioactive water. Being good nukes, we knew we had to call away a spill. (As an aside: Who remembers the immediate actions for a spill? I still do, because of the acronym "SWIMS" -- Smile, Walk away, Ignore It, Make up a story, Stick by your story.) The word gets passed to Maneuvering, and they passed the word to Control, so then the whole ship knew: "Spill in the Engine Room, the Engineer, the EDMC, and the 22 Engineer are potentially contaminated."

Now this surprised the CO, who was sitting in the wardroom. It turns out that the first drill they had planned for the drill set was a spill in the Engine Room, and he wondered what the hell the Eng was doing starting the drill without his permission!

I got frisked out of there right away, and went up to tell the CO what happened. It turned out, of course, that it wasn't a big deal -- there were no "counts" to be found, and they torqued a valve to stop the "leak". And the drill set went off only a few minutes late...

And then there was the time on Connecticut where we had a real leak in the middle of our spill drill... but that's another story (and one I can't tell here without violating some sort of "Restricted Data" rule). All I can say is that the EDMC and I knew there was something wrong when we all of a sudden saw about 10 guys start running away from the spill area at the same time...

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Decommed Russian Sub Sinks

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] An old diesel boat being towed from Petropavlovsk to China sank under tow, it is being reported today. Apparently no one died in the sinking. From MosNews:
The written-off vessel was being towed to China where it would be cut for metal scrap. Passing the Kuriles, the sub gave a lurch and started to sink. The crew decided to return to the port of Petropavlovsk, but could not lead the sub to the shore. The vessel sank with no people aboard.
The Emergencies Ministry said the sub’s tanks must have been badly sealed, so water could leak in.
The sub, which was the property of a private company, had been dismantled several years ago.
The article has a picture of what looks like a Kilo, but I'm not sure if that's supposed to be the boat that sunk, or if it's just a stock picture of a submarine they put in the article. The article also mentions the last sinking of a decommed Russian submarine under tow, when 9 people died in the Barents on K-159 back in 2003.

Staying at PD...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Idaho Democrats -- Against The Mexican War!

Vizzini: He didn't fall? Inconceivable!
Inigo Montoya: You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means.
--The Princess Bride

Ever since I got kicked out of the Republican Party for supporting Democrat Larry Grant for Congress, I've been worried about the Idaho Democratic Party convention that was held this weekend. Mostly, I was worried that my new party would come out of the convention with all sorts of weird ideas that I wouldn't be able to support, especially about the Global War on Terror.

It turns out I didn't need to worry. My observations over the last couple decades have been that both political parties are made up of "regular" people and the "others". (Depending on which party you're talking about, the "others" can be referred to as "moonbats" or "black helicopter whackjobs".) I suspected that, although the moonbattier Idaho Dems make a lot of noise, the adults were actually in charge of the party... it turned out I was right. Here are some excerpts from a report about the convention showing how they dealt with the more radical fringe:
Senate Minority Leader Clint Stennett of Ketchum said the platform means little to Democrats holding office.
"For the people in office and in the Legislature, it has very little impact on our daily lives," Stennett said. "Ultimately, platforms are used by opponents to pick out the left-wing and right-wing points and try to tie them around candidate's necks..."
...Some delegates breathed a sigh of relief after voting to strike from the platform party support for the creation of a federal Department of Peace and Nonviolence.
The statement, suggested by Canyon County delegate Sunny Freeman-Genz, would have committed the state party's support for the creation of a federal-level department to work on peaceful resolution of conflict in both state affairs and at the community level.
The part I was worried about was what they'd say about Iraq. At first, I was somewhat surprised to see that the platform didn't mention Iraq at all, but then I realized what had happened -- the adults in the room had put one over on the "less worldly" delegates. Here's what they ended up putting into the platform under the "Peace" heading:
a. We support those serving in the military and their families, at home and abroad, in wartime and in peace.
b. We reject a foreign policy of unilateral, preemptive war.
That last part is brilliant. It makes the progressives think they've spoken Truth To Power by boldly risking being sent to Guantanamo by opposing the war in Iraq, when actually it means no such thing if you look at it closely. Let's review the history of major wars in the U.S., and see which ones they would have opposed based on this statement:

1) War of 1812: Because we didn't officially ally ourselves with the French, who were fighting the British at the same time, we can call this one unilateral. However, since we went to war in response to specific provocations by the British, it wasn't preemptive.
2) Mexican War: Yep, this one was pretty much unilateral and preemptive. They'll oppose a replay of this one.
3) Civil War: Didn't have to do with foreign policy, and launched in response to the attack on Ft. Sumter. It's safe from Idaho Dems.
4) Spanish-American War: It turns out in retrospect that the Spaniards didn't really sink the USS Maine, so this pretty much was unilateral and preemptive. However, since we didn't know it until decades later (when Admiral Rickover pretty much showed that Maine had been sunk from an internal explosion) the people fighting it didn't think it was preemptive at the time. We'll call this one a toss-up, and won't protest too much if we start hearing some "McKinley lied, people died" chants when Idaho Dems meet.
5) WWI: Definitely not unilateral, and the Germans used unrestricted submarine warfare against us. It's a good war for Idaho Dems.
6) WWII: This war was pretty much unilateral against the Japanese during 1943-1944, and kind of preemptive against Germany, but I think that overall it would pass muster.
7) Korean War: This was approved by the UN Security Council, so it wasn't unilateral.
8) Vietnam War: Again, we thought we'd been attacked in the Gulf of Tonkin, so it wasn't preemptive in our minds; plus, we had our Australian and South Vietnamese allies with us, so not unilateral.
9) Desert Storm: Not unilateral -- lots of allies. Same with Kosovo. And Afghanistan (which was also not preemptive).

10) Iraq: During major combat operations, we fought with our British, Australian, and Polish allies by our side, so it clearly wasn't unilateral. Iraq had been shooting at our airplanes patrolling the no-fly zones, so we were attacked first. This one seems to get a pass from the Idaho Dems, based on what they say they "reject".

Note that if we were to go into Iran, we'd probably have at least our Israeli allies fighting with us, so not even that war would be unilateral. It looks to me that Idaho Dems are just as willing to support an aggressive foreign policy as the Republicans are, at least from what their platform says. Good for them!

I do realize that some of them may not understand the meaning of "unilateral", and say that it really applies to Iraq since we didn't have enough allies. I'd ask them if they supported the apparently "unilateral" American invasion of Normandy during WWII, since there we were pretty much only joined in the landing by the Brits, Poles, Aussies, and Canadians. Maybe they'll say it's unilateral if we don't have Canadians involved.

Unrelated post-script: Vizzini was wrong about the meaning of the word "inconceivable". Hopefully he was also wrong when he named the most famous "classic blunder" as "never get involved in a land war in Asia".


The biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) started today; you can get all of your RIMPAC 2006 news over the next five weeks from the Third Fleet website. I expected that the PacFleet site would have something, but right now all they have are a bunch of environmental impact statements.

In honor of RIMPAC, I stole a really cool picture from Rontini's BBS from an earlier RIMPAC:

This shot appears to show HMAS Waller (SSG 75) in Pearl Harbor during RIMPAC 2000. The ship in back with the big guns is, of course, the ex-USS Missouri (BB 63).

Where Are The FOIA Requests For This One?

There have been lots of unconfirmed reports about the torture that American soldiers PFC Thomas Tucker and PFC Kristian Menchaca endured after being taken prisoner by jihadis in Iraq earlier this month. Now, I don't want to see pictures of what happened to them come out -- for one thing, it would be tough on their families. I do wonder, though, about the double standard being shown by the American media here -- they're more than willing to go to court to get pictures of Iraqi prisoners with panties on their heads released to the public, where they can inflame the passions of the "Arab street", or to get pictures of flag-draped coffins released. Why aren't they trying as hard to get pictures of these two dead American heroes released? Is it because they don't want to inflame the "American street" -- to remind the American public of exactly the kind of animals we're fighting against? (A commenter at Protein Wisdom made pretty much the same point I'm making, so I guess I'm not alone in wondering about this.)

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Good Stuff At IdaBlue's Place

Idaho mil-blogger Alan over at IdaBlue has put up a few pretty good posts recently. He and I represented the Idaho blogosphere at a Flag Day rally on the Capitol steps put on by a group called "Operation Completion". He's already said most of what I was going to say here and here, but in this post he addresses a mini-controversy about the number of attendees at the rally. The organizers are claiming a crowd of about 250, and Alan estimated more like 50, and has quite a few pictures up. I went through the pictures I took, and this one seemed to show the most people:

(You can even see Alan in this picture, taking a picture.) I counted 78 distinct people when I blew the picture up, and there were about 10 people in the organizer's tent to the left of this frame, and a few more to the right. Based on this, I'd say there were about 100 people there. (This was taken about halfway through the rally.)

Alan also discusses Sara's concern (over at F-words) with the "Support The Troops" magnets people have on their cars. Sara seems to think that people displaying the magnets are "unnecessarily polarizing". Alan's much more eloquent in his response than I am -- I was reduced, in Sara's comments, to asking her if she has the same problem with "Visualize Peace" bumper stickers (they actually say "Visualize World Peace", so I didn't even get that right)-- and discusses what "support the troops" really means from the perspective of a soldier who's come home from Iraq.

His most recent post, and the one that I found most interesting, was his response to Ida-blogger Adam's statement that you won't see a left-wing Idaho blogger say that they want to "win" the war. I disagree with Alan's thesis that our current occupation of Iraq isn't part of the "Global War on Terror", and that furthermore you can't really have a war on terror. (I've always considered the "War On Terror" to be shorthand for "War Against Those Who Seek To Re-establish The Caliphate Using Terror As A Tactic", which is really a mouthful.)

I had a really long response typed up that just got eaten when Firefox locked up, so for now I'll just link to this post that links to my previous essays on why I think Iraq is an integral part of the War On Terror. I'll try to put more of my newer thoughts into this post later; for now, I'll only quibble with Alan that he messed up the phases of OIF a little bit -- OIF Phase III included the actual "major combat" portion of the war, vice OIF I as he implied. (The definition of the various phases comes from JP 3-01 as discussed in this 44 page Army War College paper.) Phase IV is the "transition" part, which hopefully we're into now for the Iraq War OPLAN (although we weren't when I left CENTCOM in 2004).

Update 2355 25 June: Actually, I just realized that when Alan referred to "OIF I" through IV he was probably talking about deployment cycles, rather than phases of OPLAN 1003V. I got confused because us staff weenies used regular numbers for deployment cycles, and Roman numerals for OPLAN phases.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Submariners Running For Office

John Clifton, a former boomer FT, was recently nominated for to run for Governor of New York by the Libertarian Party. He's described in the press release announcing the nomination as "a social worker against the welfare state, and a former drug counselor against the war on drugs."

Last year, when he invited Cindy Sheehan to run for Senator against Hillary Clinton, he had this to say about Iraq: "It’s about empire-building, plain and simple. The US-led invasion and occupation of the sovereign nation of Iraq was and remains unconstitutional, is contrary to the non-aggression and non-interventionist position of Libertarians, and to the principles of just war."

Here in Idaho, we have another submariner running for office, and unlike Clifton, has the advantage of not being a loon. John McGimpsey did a boomer JO tour in the late 80s and early 90s out of Holy Loch, then came to Idaho Falls for shore duty at NRF; he apparently liked the area so much, he stayed after he got out in '93. He's running for an Idaho House seat in Idaho Falls as a Democrat, which, if I understand easterIdaho politics at all, is quite a long shot (getting elected as a Democrat from Idaho Falls). Still, he seems like a good guy, and I hope my readers from the IF area will consider voting for him.

Friday, June 23, 2006

Hercules + Blanket = Fireworks

I know it's a little late for Friday Night cat-blogging, but late is still better than never. For those who have missed new pictures of Hercules engaging in his blanket-molesting pasttime, here's a new one I got Wednesday afternoon:

I know true love when I see it...

Thursday, June 22, 2006

TV Show Reviews: "America's Got Talent" and "Master Of Champions"

Summer TV is an interesting genre -- the networks know that there aren't as many people watching, so they have to find something "interesting" to bring audiences in, while still being "inexpensive to produce". The best way to do that is to "copy" other successful shows, without having to pay the money to get big-name stars to appear in the shows.

Based on the success of "American Idol", both NBC and ABC have come up with shows where people display a talent, three judges discuss the talent, and the winners move on to the next round of the competition. I watched both "America's Got Talent" and "Master Of Champions" over the last two nights (yes, I have no life -- SubBasket's off at a Carrie Underwood concert tonight with her mom, and I'm home watching TV and trying to avoid washing the dishes), so here are my reviews:

In "America's Got Talent", people get picked to come up on stage and do their thing, whether it's singing, dancing, finger-snapping, or basically anything. The audience, in a weird twist, appears to be made up of people who tried to get on the show, but got turned away in the auditions. Some of the contestants are OK, but what makes this show horrendously bad are the judges: Brandy (as "Paula Abdul"), David Hasselhoff (as "Randy Jackson"), and some British newspaper guy (as "Simon Cowell"). In a switch from Idol, that they didn't steal at all from The Gong Show, the judges are allowed to hit a button during the performance to indicate that they want the person to stop -- if all three judges hit their button, the contestant has to stop. The problem was that the two American judges were just so excited about almost everyone that I felt I was in danger of saccharine overload. It was really sad. That, plus the spectacle of the whole audience booing a nice old lady who was singing and playing a harp (not too badly, either) made me reach for my remote and click away from the show with "the finger" -- which is what I give this show.

Tonight, I watched "Master Of Champions". Based on the Engrish-sounding title, I figured it'd be based on a Japanese TV show, which it turns out it is. (Skippy-san: Is "World Records" on NTV any good?) That's a good thing in my book, as is having two scandal-plagued athletes (Steve Garvey and Oksana Baiul) as two of the requisite three judges. In the previews, it looked like the show consisted of people doing really strange things, like you'd expect from a Japanese show. I really thought this show would be good. I was wrong. Most of the show was taken up with biographical films of the contestants, so they only had time to do six "stunts" in an hour. Oksana appeared to be really drunk. The host just plain sucked; I think I could have done a better job. It showed enough promise to avoid getting "the finger", but it still only gets a 2 out of 5. They're on warning, though... they'd better have someone getting hit in the crotch by a football in the next episode, or it's off my TIVO "To Do" list!

I just wish someone would come up with a summer TV show that people would really want to watch...

A Really Good Idaho Blog

Northern Idaho seems to have a much better developed blog "community" than the rest of the state. The main reason seems to be a really good Idaho-themed blog they have on the Spokane, WA-based Spokesman Review website called Huckleberries Online. (The huckleberry is the official Idaho State Fruit, for those interested.) The author, Dave Olivera, is a columnist for the paper that hosts his site, and does a really good job of providing lots of interesting content and keeping the discussions going in the comments. Based on the number of comments he gets, I'd say that HBO is the most visited Idaho-themed blog (which drops me to 3rd place now, behind them and Clayton Cramer). If you're interested in things Idaho, you should check it out.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Proposed Military Pay Chart Change

Back in March, I said that I didn't like the proposal being floated by the Defense Advisory Committee on Military Compensation to defer retirement payments until age 60 for future military retirees. (Soldier's Mom also mentioned it over at the MilBlog Ring HQ.) The committee's complete report came out earlier this month (you can download all 182 pages of the report here) and they've got a new bombshell -- changing the military pay chart from one that pays you based on "time in service" to one that uses "time in grade". It doesn't seem like that big a deal for officers (who will normally get promoted within 1 year, plus or minus, of the "standard" promotion flow point) but it could be a really big change for enlisted men and women. Overall, the proposal is revenue-neutral for all the services, but each service's total payroll would change, ranging from +0.78% for the Army, to -0.96% for the Air Force.

The big problem I could see if for servicemen (especially Sailors) in specialities that don't offer a very good promotion percentage to E-7. I've seen Sailors spend 8 years or more as an E-6 before making Chief; looking at the example chart in the report, this Sailor would actually get less money for the first 2 years he was an E-7 than he made as an E-6. While I'm sure they would put in a business rule that would get around that problem, this serviceman probably wouldn't make any more money for the first three years.

Despite this potential problem, my initial reaction is that this proposal is worth considering. The committee, chaired by retired ADM Donald Pilling, had some other recommendations that are discussed here.

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Code Name: SSN 775

PCU Texas (SSN 775) was delivered to the Navy today -- the first submarine delivered by Newport News Shipyard since USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) back in 1996. The boat was delivered following the successful completion of INSURV trials (I discussed the first two sets of sea trials here, here, here, and here), and will now start getting ready for her commissioning in Texas this September.

For me, the thing that really jumped out of the article on the delivery was right at the front:
The Texas, code-named SSN-775, became the first sub accepted by the Navy the local yard since the USS Cheyenne in 1996...
In addition to the grammatical error, the writer -- remember, he's writing about a Navy issue for the Hampton Roads, Viriginia newspaper -- doesn't understand the concept of "hull numbers". "Code-named", my ass. And they wonder why the military laughs at the MSM's coverage of military matters.

The article also discusses the INSURV trial; excerpts are in the extended entry --
After attaining rave reviews by the ship's commander, Navy Capt. John Litherland, on two previous rounds of trials, the Texas also got the clearance from Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey, an independent branch of the Navy based in Norfolk. That approval cleared the way for today's final acceptance.

During two days of sea trials last week, about 18 people - eight surveyors, two senior enlisted personnel and about eight outside specialists - went through various systems on the ship to make the final call on the Texas' fitness for duty. The board surveyors were an unmistakable presence on the ship in their gray coveralls as they checked the ship and equipment.

A survey board spokesman today would not list or give a number or other breakdown of the deficiencies found on the submarine, but deemed them minor and easy to resolve.

"There weren't any show stoppers," said Shawn White, the board's assistant deputy chief of staff for submarines who was out on the trials testing electrical systems. "We did find things here and there, but there were no surprises. It was standard new construction type of things."
I'm sure, like all other new construction submarines, they had the classic INSURV hit "The ship did not have enough bunks for the designated crew size". And Group will demand the ship come up with a plan to fix the deficiency...

Let's Welcome Another Sub-blogger To The Fold

Blogging from the casino-bound traffic speedtrap of Ledyard, Connecticut, I found Sonarman, over at his new blog "Submarines Forever". It looks from his initial post that he got into the Navy about the same time I did. Head on over and welcome him to the sub-blogosphere!

Now This Could Be A Good ASW Weapon

{Intel Source: SubSim] One of the problems with airborne ASW is that the Maritime Patrol Aircraft prosecuting the submarine normally has to fly so low that the sub will detect the plane well before the MPA picks up the sub, so the sub can evade. The Air Force, of all people, are working on a project that could eliminate this problem:
Lockheed Martin is to demonstrate high-altitude, stand-off delivery of a torpedo from a P-3C Orion under a 12-month, $3 million US Navy contract. The navy’s Mk54 lightweight torpedo will be fitted with the company’s LongShot wingkit for the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapons Concept (HAAWC) project.

Currently P-3s have to descend to 500ft (150m) to release the Mk54. The LongShot range extension kit, which includes pop-out wings, GPS navigation and autopilot, will allow the torpedo to be launched at altitudes of around 20,000ft (6,000m), avoiding the need to descend, reducing fatigue on the airframe and increasing survivability.

After release from the aircraft, the LongShot-equipped but otherwise unmodified torpedo will glide to its normal launch altitude, jettison the wingkit, deploy its parachute, enter the water and begin searching for its target. Two demonstration drops are planned for November, says HWAAC programme director Alan Jackson.

The demonstration requirement is for a stand-off range of at least 9km (5nm), but simulations suggest the weapon can achieve a 33-37km range, says Jackson. The wingkit will include a UHF weapon datalink, connected to a laptop in the aircraft, that will allow the crew to retarget the torpedo in flight by sending a new release point and heading.
Here's what the system looks like:

The article goes on to say that Lockheed is investigating a similar system to deploy sonobuoys, which would take care of the "detection" part of the equation -- although I think that a high-altitude radar acquisition of a snorkeling submarine would be the best method of getting a kill on those pesky diesel boats -- or a floating barrel in the water, which is what the P-3s normally pick up on.

Anyway, I think this is a great idea, and one we really need to keep any potential adversaries from getting their hands on.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Thrown Out Of The Idaho Republican Party

[Local Idaho politics warning!]

I've been a Republican my whole life; I've never voted for a Democrat for President. I went door-to-door passing out campaign literature for a Republican Congressional candidate back in Nebraska in 1978. I wasn't active in politics during my 21+ years in the Navy, but always considered myself a Republican. Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson, however, apparently doesn't think that I am one.

What did I do to make him mad? Well, I'm supporting Democrat Larry Grant in the Idaho 1st Congressional District race against Republican Bill Sali. I've blogged before about why I'm upset with the current crop of Congressional Republicans (of whom Mike Simpson is one), and also about why I like Larry Grant over Bill Sali. This isn't a decision I've reached lightly -- I've put a lot of thought and research into it. I'm probably one of the few people who has met and spoken to both Grant and Sali on the campaign trail this year. (I talked to Sali last week after the Flag Day rally at the Capitol that Alan at IdaBlue blogged about recently. He's very personable when you're talking to him one-on-one, and will be a tough campaigner.) Because I'm "leaving the reservation", so to speak, to vote for a fiscally conservative, socially moderate Democrat with a record of real-world business success, Congressman Simpson (and apparently the Party Chairman) don't want me, or others like me, in the Republican Party anymore:
"I've heard some talk about Republicans for Grant," Simpson said. "There is no such thing as a Republican for Grant. They are Democrats."

Party Chairman Kirk Sullivan reiterated the point — and anyone who differed kept quiet at the convention.
I'll be honest -- this upsets me quite a bit. I feel I've done enough for my country to be accepted as a member of either one of the two main political parties, no matter who I happen to vote for in one election. And anyway -- who is Mike Simpson to throw me out of my own party? This is a guy who not only votes for every pork-laden budget bill that comes down the pike, he has the gall to actually defend earmarks as being required by the Constitution. I didn't realize that I had to believe that the Constitution stipulates that budget items be put into bills without a committee vote, frequently during late session conference committee sessions, in order to follow Simpson's brand of Republicanism. (Instapundit mentions today an earmark that needlessly took up a lot of the Submarine Force's time; more info is here.)

In all seriousness, the Republican Party as represented by Mike Simpson and Bill Sali isn't one I recognize. Simpson especially seems interested in the federal government spending more and more money, and both are apparently obsessed with what people are doing in the privacy of their own homes -- I always thought Republicans stood for less government interference. (Simpson has quite a long screed about how he intends to protect us from another glimpse of Janet Jackson's breast.) While Simpson would have us believe that we have to vote for Sali in support of Republican unity, it's clear from Sali's actions that his concept of unity doesn't permit any deviation from his party line.

My feeling is that it's the Idaho Republican Party that left me, not the other way around.

13+ Acres Of Sovereign American Territory

I posted this over at MilBlogs Ring HQ, but the picture looked so good, I decided to cross-post it here --

Seen yesterday in the Philippine Sea:

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63), and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) steaming in formation at the start of Exercise Valiant Shield. A much larger version of this picture is available at the Navy NewsStand. (Air Force guys might also like this picture, since it features a B-2 flying above the fleet.)

The Navy NewsStand is also apparently branching into comedy, as seen from this article on how easily USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) "firmly established herself as an ASW expert" by sinking five simulated hostile submarines [compliantly played by USS Houston (SSN 713) and USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705)] during the "first few days of the exercise". Apparently they used our new super-secret "time travel" weapons system to do this, since the article is dated today, which is the first day of the exercise.

Either that, or it's just a standard Navy surface fleet propaganda piece to make themselves think that they could actually do ASW in a real world environment against capable submarines...

"See The World"

CDR Salamander posts a new Broadside cartoon each Sunday, and the "new" one (originally published in 2002) is about my favorite subject: submarines!

"Periscope liberty" was always nice, especially for the nukes who'd come into Control after realizing they hadn't seen the sun in over a month.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Identity of Missing Soldiers Released

The soldiers missing in Iraq since Friday night haven't yet been found, but the DoD has released their names. The men for whose safe return you'll want to remember in your prayers are: Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, of Houston, Texas, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, of Madras, Ore. Both are from the 502nd Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division. From the latest CENTCOM press release:
In addition to the two Soldiers, one MND-B Soldier was killed when their security team was attacked at a forward check point south of Yusufiyah at approximately 7:55 p.m. Friday.

Contrary to some recent media reports, the Soldiers’ status has not changed and the search continues.

MND-B leaders are using all means at their disposal in an attempt to discover the whereabouts of the Soldiers, to include unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, boats, and dive teams. Despite anti-Iraqi forces’ efforts to disrupt search efforts with harassing attacks, Coalition Forces continue to search undeterred.

“We will never leave a fallen comrade,” said Maj. Gen. James D. Thurman, commanding general, MND-B. “Make no doubt about it, the welfare and status of these two Soldiers is our primary concern.”

The search has expanded out from the immediate Yusufiyah area, employing Soldiers from at least three brigade combat teams, Multi-National Division-West, and other Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces.
Staying at PD...

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Submarine Hawaii Christened

The christening of PCU Hawaii (SSN 776) apparently went off well at Electric Boat Shipyard in Groton today. From the article:

"A Hawaii delegation, including Sen. Daniel K. Inouye and Gov. Linda Lingle, were among the invited guests at the christening ceremonies. Lingle is the submarine's sponsor.
"Most people, when they hear the word Hawaii, they immediately conjure up pictures of beautiful beaches, lovely dancers and moonlit nights," said Inouye, a decorated World War II veteran. "Hawaii is all that and more: Our sons and daughters have participated in every war since we became part of the United States."
"The 377-foot-long Hawaii joins the USS Virginia and USS Texas in the new line of Virginia Class submarines. The sub, built jointly by Electric Boat in Groton and Northrop Grumman Newport News in Virginia, will carry a crew of 132 officers and men. It is expected to be delivered to the Navy early next year. The Navy has not announced the location of the sub's home port.
"The submarine received a traditional Hawaiian blessing by guest Raymond Ganoti, of Oahu. Ganoti chanted and prayed in Hawaiian and English as he anointed the submarine's hull with a ti leaf. After the blessing, Lingle broke the ceremonial champagne bottle across the sub's hull."

I previously discussed the christening here -- there's no word yet if the protesters were able to cause any disruption. (When I was on the Connecticut, a couple of protesters actually got tickets to the event, and stood up and started shouting during the ceremony. They'd apparently gotten their tickets from a "progressive" state legislator.)

I what I think might be a first, EB did a webcast of the ceremony -- it's supposed to be available to view for the next week at this link. I'll have to check it out when I get a chance.

Update 2114 17 Jun: The Sub Report has quite a few more pictures from the ceremony.

Friday, June 16, 2006

MUCs For Everyone!

I was confused a couple of days ago by an AP article that was posted on the WTNH-TV website in Connecticut about the workforce at EB being "commended" for their work on my old ship USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) -- the article said that the boat "holds the record for the fastest construction time", which is clearly a false statement. I figured I'd wait for more information before I wrote about it.

Now I think I've figured out what's going on. According to this article in The Dolphin (the Subase NLON base newspaper), SupShip Groton and PMS 350 (the Seawolf Program part of PEO Submarines) were awarded the Meritorious Unit Commendation "for the work on the Seawolf-Class Submarine Program, with emphasis on the delivery, cost-effectiveness and unique capabilities of the first (sic) Seawolf-class submarine, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23)." (As you know, the Carter was the 3rd Seawolf-class boat; I shouldn't be too hard on the author of the piece, though, since he's an "MC3". What the hell is an "MC3", did you say? I had no idea until I found this message, which says that they're in the process of of combining the "Illustrator Draftsman", Lithographer, Photographer's Mate, and Journalist ratings into something called "Mass Communications Specialist", which is a move that's sure to give us a winning advantage over the terrorists. But I digress...)

The article goes on to explain that the MUC was awarded (for the period Feb 99 - Jan 05) mostly because "(t)he on-time delivery of the USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) and its unique multimission platform in December 2004 represented the fastest pace ever achieved for a new construction nuclear submarine from launching to sea trials and delivery." That sentence explains the cause of my earlier confusion; the AP writer didn't understand the difference between "construction time" and "launching to delivery" time. (Because I like showing pictures of my old boat, here's what she looked like just prior to launch:)

I'll admit that this sounds like quite an achievement. The Meritorious Unit Commendation is supposed to be awarded to a unit that "distinguished itself, under combat or non-combat conditions, by either valorous or meritorious achievement which renders the unit outstanding compared to other units performing similar service, but not sufficient to justify the award of the Navy Unit Commendation. .. To justify this award, the unit must have performed service of a character comparable to that which would merit the award of a Bronze Star Medal, or achievement of like caliber in a non-combat situation, to an individual." (The actual instruction is here for those who are interested).

So did SupShip Groton and PMS 350 distinguish themselves to this degree? Apparently they did, since they got the award. One thing that sticks in my craw a little bit, though, is this sinking feeling that the reason the boat was so quick from launching to delivery is that the Multi-Mission Platform was so late in actually arriving that the ship was much further along in construction than any other at the time of launch. My Engineering Department did one testing program that had never been done prior to launch by any submarine crew (with no problems, I might add). So, it seems to me that this was a rather convenient justification for the MUC that doesn't make sense if you look at it closely.

Not that it affects my retired pay at all, but it would have been nice if they had mentioned the crew as being just a little bit responsible for all the kudos.

Update 2115 17 Jun: Speaking of the Jimmy Carter, she just had a Change of Command last week.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

A Sad, Sad Story

Boise is in the national news tonight, and it's not for something good. A tragic traffic accident during the morning commute led police to a grizzly discovery:

"Nampa police charged Alofa Time with first degree murder late Thursday after officers said he killed and decapitated his estranged wife last night. He is also charged by Boise police with second degree murder for intentionally slamming his pickup truck into a car on Boise's Franklin Road this morning -- hours after he is accused of killing his wife. The traffic accident killed a Boise woman and her 4-year-old daughter. An 8-year-old sister was hospitalized for injuries.
"The estranged wife's severed head was found at the scene of the Boise crash; her body was found in her Nampa home. The head flew out of the truck Time was driving and fell onto the roadway, where it was discovered by investigating officers."

The accused murderer wasn't even hurt badly in the crash where he apparently tried to kill himself, and ended up destroying an innocent family -- now it will take hundreds of thousands of dollars for before the state will be able to end his miserable life. This is the type of case where I'd support assisted suicide...

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

USS Columbus CO Relieved

According to the usually reliable Military Life blog at The Kitsap Sun, the CO of USS Columbus (SSN 762) was relieved of command recently due to concerns about his "ability to establish and maintain appropriate standards of professional conduct, provide the crew a safe, positive, professional environment in which to work, and maintain good order and discipline." (The blog post seems to have the same information as the article on the regular website, which requires a really annoying registration procedure to access.) CDR Charles Marquez, the former 762 CO, was reportedly replaced by Capt. Brian McIlvaine, who was my first XO on USS Connecticut (SSN 22) and later CO of USS Ohio.

My previous posts on the hazing allegations that presumably led to this action can be found here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Update 0636 14 June: More from the Seattle P-I here.

Navy Officer Drawdown: The Game Show

While the Army is having a hard time retaining company grade officers, the Navy is finding itself in the opposite situation -- needing to find creative ways to get rid of excess O-3s and O-4s. As described in this Navy NewsStand story, the Navy earlier this week issued a NAVADMIN detailing how they plan to get rid of officers in "over-manned" communities. These communities include not only most of the Special Duty Officer designators, but also Surface Warfare Officers, pilots, NFOs, and submariners. (Specifically, the designators are: 111X, 112X, 130X, 131X, 132X, 120X, 152X, 161X, 163X, 180X, 310X, 410X, AND 510X. The non-nautical reader can find what these numbers mean here.)

The interesting thing to me is not that the Navy finds itself, seven years after the last drawdown ended, needing to start another drawdown; it's the way that "reality TV" seems to have made its way into Navy personnel programs. The message explains that officers will be given the chance to "bid" on how much money they'd take if they were to get out before the end of the fiscal year. Here's how the message describes the process:

Community managers will review all positive VSP elections to ensure officers meet established eligibility criteria. These positive elections will then be ranked from lowest to highest competitive bid until the target population for the community is reached. This target population will constitute the "successful bidders". Using what is known as a "uniform payment auction methodology", all successful bidders of each community will receive the same VSP payment as determined by the highest accepted bid. For example, if 300 people are sent notification messages (establishing that 100 personnel will be offered a separation payment) and if 275 people elect to participate by submitting a bid, and the lowest competitive bid is $1,000 and the 100th lowest competitive bid submitted is $30,000, then the 100 successful bids (i.e., the 100 individuals who bid $30,000 or less) will each receive the $30,000 bid.

If you find yourself scratching your head after mucking through the Navalese, that just means you read it right -- most officers will end up getting more than what they bid in order to get out. I suppose this eliminates the danger of massive collusion, but it still seems to have a little "game-show/E-Bay" feel that comes across as slightly inappropriate to me.

I guess I'm not surprised that submariners are included; the number of submarines is going down, and we were still bringing in fairly large numbers of new submarine officers at least as late as FY03. The good thing for submariners who might be thinking of getting out is that I'm pretty sure that they can't recoup your Buy-A-Nuke bonus (per Section 7.f.(2).(c) of OPNAVINST 7220.11A) if your "Price Is Right" and you get picked to test the civilian job market. Sign that new contract now!

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

PCU Hawaii To Be Christened Saturday

In what appears to be just about the stealthiest christening in a long time, PCU Hawaii (SSN 776) will probably be christened on Saturday. I really haven't seen anything out about this happy event until today, when a Hawaii paper reported that the submarine will be "blessed":

"Gov. Linda Lingle, the ship's sponsor, and U.S. Sen. Daniel Inouye will represent Hawaii at the blessing. Retired Hawaii Army National Guard Master Sgt. Raymond Ganotise will give the blessing. Also in the audience will be Adm. Gary Roughead, Pacific Fleet commander."

The article doesn't once use the word "christened"; it does, however, have some other useful "information":

"At 7,800 tons the Hawaii also is lighter than a 8,100-ton Seawolf-class submarine. Six Virginia-class submarines are contemplated, but so far only one, the USS Virginia, is in service, with the USS Texas expected to join the fleet next month."

I probably shouldn't be too hard on these reporters who don't normally cover submarines, but if you're going to put information down, why not make it correct? For the record, Seawolf-class boats displace 9,100+ tons (with SSN23 displacing more) and there are at least 10 Virginia class boats planned.

Despite no mention of the upcoming event that I could find on either the Electric Boat or SubGru TWO homepages, I was able to confirm that the upcoming "blessing" is actually a christening -- the protesters are planning on being there, and provided the scheduling information. Here's what the boat they're going to protest looked like when she was rolled out of the big green building at EB:

Who could protest against something so pretty?

Update 2325 14 June: Here's the DoD press release on the christening.

Monday, June 12, 2006

New Class Of South Korean Sub Launched

The Sohn Won-il, the first of the next generation of South Korean submarines, was launched last week. The 1,800 ton boat is of the German Type 214 design, and is the lead sub of what is planned to be a three (or nine)-ship class:

"The 214-Type submarine, 65.3 meters long and 6.3 meters wide, is equipped with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) that helps improve its underwater capability. It can submerge to a depth of up to 400 meters and carry out underwater operations for a maximum two weeks at a time. "The submarine, equipped with eight torpedo tubes and advanced submarine-to-surface missiles, has a maximum dive speed of 20 knots and a seating capacity of 40. It costs around $1 billion. "The Sohn Won-il submarine will be declared operational in the second half of next year after undergoing sea trials, according to the Navy."

The building of an AIP boat puts South Korean in elite company among the sub-building countries of the world, according to this article on the sub's launch:

"Korea has become the first country to launch an AIPS submarine in Northeast Asia. Japan, a submarine powerhouse, is in the middle of building a 3,000-ton class submarine, the 16SS, which is larger than the 214s and equipped with AIPS. It will be ready by around 2008. Elsewhere, Germany, Sweden, Greece, Italy and Russia either have or are developing AIPS subs."

I admit that I was surprised to see Greece on the list; they're not known as a big sub-building country. Sure enough, though, three Type 214s for the Hellenic Navy are scheduled to be built in the German-owned Hellenic Shipyard over the next few years.

For the South Korean Navy, though, they recently announced plans to build six more of the Type 214s, in addition to the three already started. Combined with their nine Changbogo-class Type 209s, they should have a force (planned to reach at 18 boats) that can deal with the North Korean's 97 less capable submarines (only 26 of which are full-sized boats, mostly old Romeos) quite easily.

(I should note that I was quite late in posting about this; Eagle1 beat me by several days.)

Sunday, June 11, 2006

Picture Of My Old Boat

I've been working messing around with the blog's template a little bit, and wanted to see if I could incorporate this picture of my old boat, USS Connecticut (SSN 22). You'll know if I was successful if you see the same picture in the upper left corner of the header.

Update 0013 12 June: Remodel is done for now; please let me know in the comments if the blog doesn't come out right for you now. (For me, it looks fine on Firefox, but a little squirrelly on Internet Explorer -- I had to go down to the "smaller" text size to make it line up right on the top).

Update 2234 12 June: Based on the feedback, I changed the header back to the default until my html "skillz" get a little better; I did leave the "description" part in the more readable color and font, and changed the title from all lowercase to mixed (I found how to do that by accident -- it turns out that if you change "lowercase" to "uowercase" in the template, it comes out with normal capitalization -- who'da thunk it?)

Update 2304 12 June: I think I will change my profile pic, though:

This is me standing DOOW on USS Topeka back in 1992...

US Navy Diving On Lagarto Site

Divers operating from USS Salvor (ASR 52) will be diving on the recently discovered resting place of the WWII submarine USS Lagarto (SS 371) over the next several days. From the Navy NewsStand article:

"The rescue and salvage ship USS Salvor (ARS 52) and divers of Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU) 1 arrived June 11 at the site in the Gulf of Thailand presumed to be the resting place of the WWII–era USS Lagarto (SS 371) and its crew.
"In May 2005, British diver Jamie MacLeod reported finding Lagarto, which was last seen May 3, 1945. On May 8, 2006, MacLeod joined U.S. Pacific Fleet Submarine Force Commander Rear Adm. Jeffrey Cassias and families of crew members who served aboard Lagarto at a memorial service in the crew’s honor hosted by the Wisconsin Maritime Museum in Manitowoc, Wis.
"Over the next several days the divers from Salvor and MDSU-1 will conduct diving operations in an attempt to confirm MacLeod’s discovery, in keeping with a longstanding Navy practice of independently verifying such finds when possible.
"Salvor is in the midst of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series in Southeast Asia and with the agreement of the Royal Thai navy – a CARAT exercise partner – was able to incorporate the Lagarto operation into the Thailand phase."

Much more on the USS Lagarto can be found here.

Update 2031 17 June: It looks like they pretty much confirmed that this was the Lagarto that was found.

Soccer: Antithetical To American Beliefs?

The World Cup soccer tournament is upon us, and the more culturally sophisticated bloggers out there are singing the event's praises. While I'll admit that sometimes soccer can be somewhat amusing, I'm well aware that soccer will never become really "big" in the U.S. -- here's why:

First, let's get rid of one common misperception -- soccer isn't a great terrorist plot to destroy the United States. It is, however, in direct opposition to everything America stands for -- individual excellence, rewarding those who use all their God-given gifts, and fair competition. I'll cover each point individually.

Individual Excellence: Fans of American sports love to see a spectacular game-changing moment, as one athlete breaks from the pack and scores. Frequently, this takes the form of a long pass in football when a receiver gets behind the defense, or a fast break in basketball where an defensive rebound leads to a lob to a player running ahead of the defense. What each of these plays has in common is the sight of an athlete getting past the defenders and getting a pass from his teammate. In soccer, such a move is penalized rather than rewarded -- it's called "offside" (hockey has the same lame rule). Being penalized for trying to get closer to one's individual goal is something we see in socialism, not enlightened capitalism.

Using All Your Talents: American sports emphasize those attributes that make humans better than the animals -- our large brains and our opposable thumbs. Sure, soccer uses the brains part, but only one player on each team is allowed to use their hands -- that's downright un-American! In America, we use our hands to build a better world and catch a football, throw a baseball, or shoot a basketball. In soccer, using your hands if you're not a goalie is (you guessed it) a penalty. This seems like a metaphor for Old World societies, where the feudal lords kept the peasants down by outlawing the use of many of their talents. Carrying the analogy further, I could imagine soccer being invented to provide a form of recreation for all the peasants whose arms had been hacked off by a passing feudal lord, thusly:

Soccer tries to make up for the lack of using the player's hands by overemphasizing the use of our other advantage, the large brain, but they use it incorrectly. The concept of the "header", wherein you intentionally cause your head to strike a hard object, rightly seems to most Americans to be a really dumb idea -- brain damage and whatnot. Americans use a helmet.

Fair Competition: This is the main reason Americans will never embrace soccer. Look at the scores so far this weekend in the World Cup: 1-0, 0-0, 2-1, 1-0. Four games, 8 teams, probably 100 players, and 5 goals scored. Americans like game where anyone can score -- and demand games where at least someone scores occasionally.

I'll probably follow the tournament pretty closely, and watch as many of the games as I can, but don't expect me, or other Americans, to start demanding more televised soccer other than every four years -- unless they change the rules. If they get rid of the "offside" and "handball" rules, and allow real tackling, and have you carry the ball over a goal line rather than kick it into a net, and get some hot cheerleaders, then Americans will embrace the game -- not before.

Update 0222 13 June: Geez, we suck...

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Navy Slang Trivia Quiz

[Intel Source: Rontini's BBS] Here's an amusing little Navy slang multiple-guess quiz that's worth a couple moments of your time. It's aimed mostly at skimmers, but I still got 19 out of 20 (I didn't know what "Med Lights" were.)

Also via Rontini's BBS, Oldsub's Place has a new page of interesting submarine statistics and facts.

Friday, June 09, 2006

A Skimmer "Jody"

"Skimmer, skimmer, don't be blue,
You can be a nanny too..."

A former surface warfare officer is now serving as the nanny (or "manny") for Britney Spears:

"Born in Alexandria, Virginia, Taylor spent most of his childhood in Easton. He started for the Navy lacrosse team in his senior year and had hoped at one time to become a Navy SEAL.
"He is physical, active and fun-loving," his mother said.
"He served on the USS Iwo Jima and at the end of his five-year commitment decided to pursue security jobs, hoping to go to Iraq or Afghanistan as a private contractor. But he ended up doing security work in California..."

Sounds like he's doing a great job -- this should serve as an inspiration to skimmer officers everywhere that there is life after the Navy.

Only In Idaho... Bull Testicles In The News

Eagle, Idaho, is the rich people's town just north of where I live; they've had quite a problem with flooding this year, as well as an election that wasn't run very well. So what is the Mayor of Eagle concerned about? Apparently the biggest problem in Eagle is the advertising for a fire department fund-raiser:

"The Rocky Mountain Oyster Feed is still on for this weekend despite controversy surrounding surrounding an ad for the event that featured a foul-mouthed, poetry-slamming animated bull lamenting the loss of his testicles.
"Eagle Mayor Nancy Merrill threatened to cancel the feed, which is part of this weekend’s Eagle Fun Days. The feed is traditionally a big fundraiser for the Eagle volunteer fire department.
"On Tuesday, Merrill heard about the ad and that it was scheduled to run on local television and radio stations. She says she called the fire department and asked them to pull the ads.
"The ads were pulled from television, but ran on the radio.
"In the ads, the talking bull refers to “my testicles, my balls, my junk.” Rocky Mountain oysters are another name for bull testicles.
“This isn’t something we condone,” said Merrill this morning. “It’s vulgar, raunchy, offensive, all of the above.”
"The Eagle City Council had considered having a special session today to discuss canceling the fundraiser."

Maybe it's because I grew up on a farm, but I love the concept of steers mourning their lost testicles...

Update 2350 09 June: An update on the great Idaho "nut feed" controversy:

"The TV and radio ads bleeped out sections where the talking bull used profanity. But hearing the talking bull discuss his missing testicles was more than some wanted to hear.
"I heard from a couple people who were pretty offended by the ads," said Teri Bath, president of the Eagle Chamber of Commerce, which organizes Eagle Fun Days. "I think they are crude and done in very poor taste."
"Bath said there is a time and a place for humor that she feels is off-color.
"If it were guys sitting around a campfire doing the things that guys do when they're sitting around the camp fire ... that ad would be appropriate," Bath said."

0006 10 June: Victimized Bull looks like he's created a blog specifically for this story -- all the background information is there.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

We Got The Sunuvabitch

Abu Musab Al-Zarqawi is finally dead. Couldn't have happened to a nicer guy. Interestingly, Strategy Page had a post yesterday predicting his imminent "martyrdom". As expected, the folks at Democratic Underground aren't very happy.

The MilBlog Ring HQ will, I'm sure, have the most up-to-date news and analysis throughout the day.

Update 2352 08 June: Head over to Hot Air to check out the Airstrike Video Remix...

Wednesday, June 07, 2006

How Not To Refuse Unlawful Orders

Expect the evening news tomorrow night to be filled with stories of a "brave" Army Lieutenant. The actions he'll be lauded for don't fit the traditional definition of bravery, but you'll see pundits far and wide hailing his actions. Here's what he'll be celebrated for: refusing to deploy with his unit to Iraq.

1st Lt. Ehren K. Watada says, through his lawyer, that he cannot "participate in a war that he cannot justify or support legally and morally". Many of us have probably thought about what we'd do if given what we felt was an illegal order -- we all got training when we first came into the military that we weren't obligated to follow such an order. I always figured I'd explain to the person who gave me the order why I felt it was illegal, and then take it up the chain of command if that was available. If worse came to worse, I'd probably get my Congressman involved. One action I wouldn't take, though, was holding a "coordinated news conference". His parents apparently support his decision; his father is fairly well-known in Hawaiian political circles.

Watada claims that the current war is illegal. Interestingly, he joined the Army in June 2003, after we had invaded Iraq (so the concept that he might have to go there shouldn't have come as a surprise to him); his obligation ends in December of this year. I'm interested to know where he gets the idea that our current occupation of Iraq is illegal; not only has Congress supported the continued action through appropriations, the United Nations Security Council specifically authorized (unanimously) the current coalition military operations in Iraq.

Wizbang and Stop the ACLU have more on the story. As a commenter at Wizbang says, I wonder if he'll refuse to go to Leavenworth, too.

Update 1756 07 June: Michelle Malkin (who was kind enough to send some traffic my way) has much, much more on the story.

Update 2357 08 June: Michelle devoted today's Vent to the story, and once again mentioned this post. I do have one small quibble with her vent, though -- she say that Lieutenant Watada faces a dishonorable discharge, when actually commissioned officers can't get either a dishonorable or bad conduct discharge; the officer equivalent is dismissal.

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Future Submarine Force Numbers

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] There's a very interesting article from January of this year, reprinted at the MOAA website, discussing the future of the submarine force from a "shipbuilding plans" perspective. I don't have time to dissect it completely right now (I have to get into work really early almost every day this week) but hope to do so tonight. The one thing that jumped out at me was the author's opinion that Congress won't authorize any more Virginia-class boat past SSN 783. I think he's wrong, but the rest of the article seems to ring true, so that concerns me.

Here's what he has to say about the options for future SSBNs:

The 313-ship fleet is to retain 14 SSBN until the mid-2020s replacement SSBN(X) will be required to enter production at a one-per-year rate to replace existing "Ohio" class boats. One future option would be to reduce the number to 10, with the oldest four being converted to SSGN configuration. The size would likely be twice that of a SSN-774 and likely accommodate only 17 TRIDENT D-5 (including future conventional warhead versions), but have some provision for cruise missiles and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV), using a hull based on SSN-774 or its replacement. Navy estimates costs at US$3.6Bn, but this will be more likely in the range of US$6.2Bn each.

More later...

Update 0036 07 June: Didn't get around to it tonight. Maybe tomorrow...

Monday, June 05, 2006

Check Out MilBlogs Ring HQ

Not much going on in the way of submarine news lately, but there is always a lot of good discussion on all things military over at the MilBlog Ring HQ.

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Texas Finishes Bravo Trials

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] PCU Texas (SSN 775) reportedly finished Bravo sea trials in 11 days, pulling back into Newport News on Tuesday. According to the article, she'll have INSURV trials in the middle of June, and then get delivered to the Navy on June 20th. She'll get commissioned in Galveston, Texas, on Sept. 9th. Then, she'll head to EB in Groton for 11 months of PSA.

Unless the Navy plans on stationing her in Groton, that plan (to move to Groton for 11 months before either heading back to Norfolk or out to Pearl) just totally blows for the families. Sure, EB won the bid, but having many of the families separated for almost a year doesn't make much sense from the crew morale standpoint.

Submarines Decommissioning Through 2007

The message listing the FY07 ship decommissionings came out a couple weeks ago, and five submarines are on this list. USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716) was on last year's list, and USS Dolphin (AGSS 555), our only non-nuclear submarine, is a new addition to the FY06 list. The three boats going away next year will be USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708), USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709), and USS Honolulu (SSN 718). Since we're not commissioning four Virginia-class boats in the next two years, the number of available SSNs will continue to drop. Since the four LAs being decommed were all commissioned between 1984 and 1985, they all had 11-12 years of hull life left. I'm disappointed the Navy wasn't able to refuel at least some of them to keep them around.

Of interest only to Navy admin geeks, it looks like the decomm messages aren't coming out quarterly anymore; they've switched to semi-annually. This is still better than last year, when they didn't officially have a decomm NAVADMIN; the one I linked to above was cancelled two days later, and I couldn't find any replacement messages that came out. Looks like whichever CNO office was supposed to handle that message (N80) dropped the ball.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Must Be Something In The Idaho Water

The Letters to the Editor section of the Idaho Statesman has been full of wacky letters from all sides of the political spectrum this week; even moreso than earlier this spring. On Tuesday, a writer from Boise (5th letter down) finds a way to blame Washington for everything (emphasis mine):

"I sent an e-mail to the White House asking Bush to resign and take Cheney, Rumsfeld and many of Congress and the U.S. Senate with him. I explained that I was going broke due to failures by all the above. I should have explained that we need to outsource these positions, downsize, cut health care, retirement and pay...
"...When I tell people I sent this e-mail they warn me of government coming to get me. Is that the democracy we're promoting in Iraq? A government of the people who are so afraid of their government they wouldn't send an e-mail? Terrorists may be an improvement over the allies that we have in Washington, D.C. At least terrorists are upfront, our representatives are killing us slowly with lies..."

Fascinating. Not only are politicians making him go broke (High taxes? Mind control rays making him buy things? Failure to enforce drug laws such that he got stoned all the time instead of getting an education? He kinda mentions outsourcing and free trade later, but it's hard to tell what the real reason is.) My favorite part, though, is in the last paragraph. The people he apparently talks to think that people are getting arrested for exercising their First Amendment rights, and he's blaming D.C. politicians because he and his friends believe something that's not true. Maybe the letter is really about the failure of the educational system.

It's not only paranoids who are jumping on the "the paper'll print any drivel I write" bandwagon -- conservatives are joining in too. A writer from Kuna (5th letter down) makes quite an interesting statement:

"...Please, please, please, do yourself a favor next time you vote — tell the illegal liberals to stay in California by not putting them in office..."

Illegal liberals? What the hell does that mean? I know some people here in Idaho don't like people moving here from California (as I did, although I kind of get a pass since I was moving my wife back home) but "illegal"? Idaho's generally conservative, true, but I don't think they've gone so far as to outlaw liberals -- even California ones.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

USS Chicago Returns From Deployment

USS Chicago (SSN 721) returned to Pearl Harbor following a six month WestPac on Tuesday; they had departed on 29 November 05. They got liberty visits to Guam, Japan, Singapore, and Hong Kong... at least Hong Kong was probably pretty interesting. I'm sure they'll get some baby-holding photos up soon on the Navy website (like this one from the CSP website that seems to be of Chicago Sailors returning, but is inexplicably labelled, at least as of Thursday evening, as being of USS La Jolla Sailors departing), but until then, they have this famous picture of Chicago as a placeholder:

Welcome home, guys...

Update 0028 03 June: They fixed the text under the photo of the Chicago Sailor with his family.