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, July 30, 2006

I Really Shouldn't Laugh At This Video...

... but I can't help myself -- I just have to assume that the people who filmed it wouldn't have posted it if the kids actually got hurt.

I found this courtesy of Myron at Rontini's BBS, although he doesn't seem to have it posted on his home blog yet.

Update 0610 01 Aug: It looks like they took the video down once it went all viral... my guess is the people who made it were taking some abuse for potentially hurting their kids.

Update 2359 17 Aug: Here's the link to another copy at Google Video.

A Quandary...

So I found this great picture of dolphin (or "Marine Mammal System") operations during the recently completed RIMPAC 2006 exercises, and I don't know what to do with it, blog-wise. First, here's the picture:

So what do I do with something this great? Should I hold a caption contest? ("I, for one, welcome our new dolphin overlords.") Or, should I head over to the various "progressive" conspiracy-theory boards with proof that armed Navy dolphins actually did escape during Hurricane Katrina? [According to the text provided with the photo above, the pictured dolphin's name is "Katrina", which is clearly enough proof, corporate-owned media attempts to lie to the "sheeple" notwithstanding.] Or, should I just use it to illustrate my potential review of "Miami Vice", which I saw last night? ("One of the better police action films I've seen in a while -- I'd give it 4 gut-shot white supremicist drug dealers out of 5, with a talking dolphin bonus for having actors who are way cooler than the original TV guys.")

I'll have to think about it...

It's Navy Day -- In Russia

The Russian Navy, and especially their submarine arm, hasn't had much to cheer about lately -- most recently, the radioactive spill they had during a submarine nuclear defueling that was in the news to help them look incompetent. Still, that isn't stopping them from celebrating Russian Navy Day today by talking up the future of their submarine fleet:
A next-generation submarine will enter service with the Russian Northern Fleet in the foreseeable future, the country's naval commander says.
The submarine "is expected to join the Northern Fleet a little later than we would like it to be the case, but in the very near future," Adm. Vladimir Masorin said. He said construction of the submarine was nearing completion, Novosti reported Saturday. He said Wednesday sea trials of a new nuclear missile submarine were scheduled for 2007.
The Yury Dolgoruky, a Borey-class nuclear missile submarine, is being built at the Sevmash plant in the northern Arkhangelsk Region, Novosti said. It will be equipped with the Bulava ballistic missile, which is adapted from the Topol-M (SS-27).
President Vladimir Putin said in March a fourth-generation submarine armed with Bulava missiles would form the core of an entire fleet of modern submarines.
He said Russia's submarine fleet was a major instrument of Russia's defense policy.
The "a little later" the Russian CNO is talking about is a 1 year delay from a schedule announced 15 months ago -- not exactly evidence of good planning on the part of the Russians. I expect that the first Borey-class boat will actually make it to the fleet sometime before 2010, but I'm not so sure about any of the two reported follow-ups actually hitting the water in the foreseeable future.

Maybe the delay is because the Russian shipyard workers have been suffering from "heat exhaustion", just like people in other industries...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Submarines And Group Pictures

You know how they always take "group photos" of all the ships that participate in an exercise or group deployment? And you know how the submarines are always tucked safely away from the middle of the action? Have you ever wondered why that was? Well, I'll tell you...

Consider the "graduation photo" for the recently completed RIMPAC 2006 multi-national exercises. Here's the best shot of all 30+ ships. Can you see the submarines? (Hint: I think there are six of them):

Couldn't see them? Here's a link to the hi-res version of the picture; blow it up, and look to the far left and right; you should be able to see three submarines in each outboard column.

For the group photos, sticking the submarine off to the side is a common tactic; another is sticking the subs up front, as seen in these pics:

[The top image is from RIMPAC 2000, the bottom one is of USS Birmingham (SSN 695) with the Nimitz Battle Group in the IO in summer '93.]

So why do the Battle Group Ops guys stick the subs away from the center of the group? The reason is simple -- submarine guys do NOT know how to do "station keeping" (staying in formation when steaming on the surface), nor do we want to learn. That's something skimmers do -- submariners have too much on our minds to practice something we only have to do during dumb photo ops. Just stick the sub up front, tell it to maintain a constant course and speed, and let the surface ships guide off the sub -- that's the smart way to do it.

Actually, there is one photo I found where the sub is smack dab in the middle of things; it's a shot from this page of the Lincoln battle group with an unidentified SSN:

You can see from the wake that the submarine is a little bit wobbly. I didn't ever read about a collision from this incident, so I guess it worked out OK, but the guy who wrote the OPORD for this photo shoot should have been written up for hazarding a vessel just on general principles.

Update 0035 28 July: I suppose I should mention that they do have a couple of RIMPAC photos up at Navy NewsStand where you can actually see the submarines: this one of USS Chicago (SSN 721) and USS Columbia (SSN 771), and this one of USS Key West (SSN 722). I note that the text that goes along with the picture of the Key West says that it's "sailing in formation" even though there are no other ships in sight -- as it should be. (I also note that the text describing all the group pictures says there were 28 ships and submarines in the formation, whereas I counted at least 31 -- my best guess was 33 -- in the picture at the top of this post; maybe some of the Russian "trawlers" that were inevitably watching the exercise joined the parade of ships unbeknownst to the PacFleet Journalists Mass Communications Specialists...)

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

A Submarine Photoshopping Contest

Eric over at The Sub Report blog has put together a contest for people who have mad skillz with Photoshop -- inspired by the shot of the Russian Typhoon near the beach that went around the sub-blogosphere a while ago, he's looking for people to submit their best "shot" of a submarine near the shore. Here's what's been submitted so far; if I had the skillz, I'd try to put something together that looked like the Asheville's crest -- I always thought it looked like their motto should be "We run aground"; here's what I mean:

Don't get me wrong -- I have the highest respect for the Asheville and her crew. It's just a really lame logo...

Update 0026 27 July: For proof that my Photoshopping skillz totally blow, take a gander at what I ended up submitting:

Update 0614 01 Aug: The results of the contest are posted!

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

♪♪♪ "And Here We Have Idaho..." ♪♪♪

News and notes from Idaho over the last couple of days:

1) The design for the Idaho state quarter that will come out next year was announced. As with most state quarters, most people don't seem to like the design; the current on-line poll at The Idaho Statesman is running 69.5% "don't like". Personally, I like the peregrine falcon, although I admit it's not the first thing that comes to one's mind when they think of Idaho. With respect to the announcement, I was especially impressed with how they were able to keep the public guessing about what the winning design would be; the finalists included "the Sawtooth mountains, a peregrine falcon and a farm scene", along with a stylized version of the state's name and script with the first two lines of the state song (excerpted in the title of this post). The fact that they scheduled the announcement to occur at the World Center for Birds of Prey didn't give anyone a clue as to which design was chosen, I'm sure. Anyway, here's what the quarter will look like:

As the Director of the Idaho Commission on Fine Arts said, "... at least it's not a potato".

2) The TV show "COPS" is coming to Boise. While southeastern Idaho might not strike most people as a hotbed of crime, I'm sure there will be plenty of guys with no shirts and visible ass-crack who they'll find to haul away in front of the cameras. Hopefully, it won't end up being like the scene in the classic Mormon comedy movie "The Singles Ward" where they imagined what "COPS" in Salt Lake City would look like: "Put down the casserole, and step away from the mini-van".

And, last but certainly not least...

3) The Rolling Stones are coming! In the penultimate show of this U.S. leg of their tour, the Stones will be performing on November 14th in the 11,000 seat Idaho Center in Nampa, just up I-84 from here. Now if only there was some way to let SubBasket know that I really want tickets to the show for my birthday...

Update -- Julie at Red State Rebels beat me to the post for both the state quarter and Rolling Stones news... but she didn't put musical notes in her titles, so I've got that going for me.

Update 0706 26 July: Edited to correct grammar and one embarrassing spelling error.

Truly A Man Of Honor

Master Chief Carl Brashear, the African-American Navy diver who was the inspiration for the movie "Men of Honor", passed away Tuesday at age 75. He truly lived life to the fullest, and is an example to all those who strive to excel in spite of everything seemingly arrayed against them.

Sailor, Rest Your Oar...

Update 2246 26 July: From the CNO's statement on the passing of Master Chief Brashear:
... It would be easy in remembering his incredible life to focus on one aspect or another - his humble, yet proud, beginnings in rural Kentucky; the discrimination he suffered at the hands of racist superiors and colleagues; the list of all the “firsts” he accomplished in the dangerous world of Navy diving; the raw, physical courage he exhibited in overcoming what would be for many a debilitating injury.
But focusing only on such things would be shortsighted. For in doing so we obscure from history and from our heritage the real greatness of the man. We must - as he always did - look at the whole, not at the parts.
Carl Brashear wasn’t just a trailblazing African-American. He wasn’t just a superb and skilled diver. He was a good husband and father...a patriot...a leader. He was a friend who friends cherished, and a Sailor who Sailors admired. He represented in his poise and in his character something larger and more dignified than the trappings of military rank and position, no matter how hard-earned they proved to be.
Put simply, Carl Brashear was the very best of men. He was living proof that, in a world which can at times be unfair and uncompromising, persistence and sheer determination trumps all...

Get Out The Quote Book

It looks like it's "female midshipmen cruise" time on USS Alaska (SSBN 732) -- pictures are here, here, and here. This time of year always seems to be the best for putting inadvertent (and otherwise) double entendres into the quote book for some reason...

Submarine Conspiracy Theories In The "News"

An alert reader sent in an article from the "Northeast Intelligence Network" that offers a new "explanation" of how the C-802 missile was able to hit INS Ahi Hanit last week. The theory? Well, I'll let it speak for itself for now:
What has not been widely reported, however, is that an Iranian submarine, which I believe to be a Russian-made SSK Kilo-class electric-diesel boat, was nearby at the time. Did this Iranian sub provide some form of terminal guidance to the C-802 missile? It’s possible. That the sub was in the area of combat operations prior to the execution of the battle plan also speaks to the detailed preparations made by Iran. There are no reports that I am aware of which reported this sub transiting north-bound through the Suez Canal. The lack of this information in open-sources means that the Iranian sub had quite a long voyage around the African continent to arrive on station prior to hostilities. My theory is that upon reaching the Strait of Gibraltar the Iranian sub performed a maneuver that is known as “degaussing.” It parked itself directly underneath an eastbound commercial freighter and made the run through the strait completely under electrical power. It then continued along a 100 fathom line along the North African coast to the area of Tunisia and on to the eastern Mediterranean Sea.
Just about 48 hours ago I learned of the first open-source report on the detection of this submarine. The CBN report stated that a U.S. Air Force RC-135V/W "Rivet Joint" reconnaissance aircraft detected the Iranian submarine with its very sensitive Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) sensor array. The CBN report then commented on the full-extent of the electronic surveillance capabilities of the “Rivet Joint” aircraft by noting its sensors had also detected Iranian ballistic missile activities and shipments of these missiles to Lebanon.
Fascinating! I guess all of us submariners who spent time in the degaussing pens were wasting our time when we could have done our "degaussing" in the open ocean. Seriously, though, this just plain isn't possible -- I seriously doubt the Iranian subs are in any material condition to make this transit, let alone do so much of it submerged. I was also interested in the author's mention of an "open source" report from CBN -- I have to assume he's referring to the Christian Broadcasting Network, and not the news organization in the Philippines. I did a search at the CBN website, and didn't find any matches to back up his "story" -- sorry, guy. The guy is right, though, that if someone wants to send a ship from south Asia to the Med without the Israelis finding out, they would have to avoid the Suez Canal.

Last year, I did an "analysis" on a theory that HMCS Chicoutimi had been hit by a Russian "scalar weapon" that caused the fire to break out. After I wrote about that, the author of that particular theory (and many others like it) was kind enough to put me on his mailing list. Recently, he sent out his "behind the scenes" version of what was really going on when the Ecuadorian Navy arrested the operators of a mini-sub carrying Russian tourists to the Galapagos Islands. Without further comment, here's his theory:
Recently a group of eco-tourists were arrested en route to the Galapagos Islands. Of immediate concern was the fact that they were carrying a submarine with them. The mixed Russian English nationalities attracted attention to this author as well. The Ecuadorian Navy arrested the ships, the sub and the men.
The submarine was a mini-sub operated by Silvercrest Submarines of the UK. Their website revealed that they are underwater specialists. They have research subs, tourist subs, ROV's, etc. They can travel anywhere in the world. However, there tourist sub was not on the crane of the mother ship the Cebaco Bay. In fact the sub dangling on the end of the cable was remarkably alike the ComSub which is a two man sub. However, there were 24 Russian tourists paying for an eco-adventure in the Galapagos Islands. Fitting 24 men in a two man sub would probably be the adventure of a lifetime.
I smell a covert ops extraordinaire. In the Indian Ocean tsunami there is has been a strong opinion that the tsunami bomb developed in WWII was used in a deep trench. USS San Francisco came to the service later with severe bow damage. Was it involved in black-ops? Remember Exposed revealed that Glomar Explorer was refitted and sent out to sea for oceanographic research. That ship was a specially fitted CIA ship make to retrieve a Russian sub lost in the Pacific. In early 2004 the commander of the Gibraltar naval base Commodore David White died in his swimming pool. Shortly thereafter HMS Sceptre returned to port with damage. Gibraltar is the nearest base to the Canary Islands where another piece of real estate is extremely vulnerable to a blast created tsunami that could take out the whole east coast of North and South America.
The Galapagos Islands are no different. They are situated on a major fault line. There are six active volcanoes on the island of Isabella. There is a caldera that is vulnerable to collapse that could precipitate another tsunami.
Silvercrest Submarines used Panama Yacht Tours to acquire the mother ship Cebaco Bay. She was fitted out to do the ultimate in deep sea fishing – the reeling in of the big fish. Panama Yacht Tours have an uninhabited island named Cebaco Bay as well. Eight British citizens were in control of the mother ship and sub. The Russians were on another ship called the Constellation. They fled and were arrested in Panama. I speculate any evidence was deposited into the sea as they fled. They have a great cover story. Hardly anyone knows about the research and development of the tsunami bomb. Hardly anyone could speculate that such weapons could be used, but in the days of extreme covert wars such weapons are dreams of the forces competing for global control.
In a related coincidence the head of the Russian Navy Admiral Vladimir Masorin was involved in a plane crash in the Crimea while en route to Black Sea Fleet manoeuvres involving the rescue of a sunken submarine. There were 24 Russians involved in this eco-manoeuvre remember.
So as a result of actions by the Ecuadorian Navy, this summer's tsunami season has been cancelled. The 'rogue' elements of the intelligence agencies are best kept on a tight leash. Exposed is that leash. However, that was no protection because a volcano has erupted in Ecuador today as I finally got to writing this. Maybe covert actions were completed and these guys were the diversionary mission. Saturday the Tungurahua volcano erupted near Quito causing thousands to flee. It's not nice to screw with the intelligence agencies especially if they possess scalar weapons.
As I said, no further comment is necessary -- the theory speaks for itself.

Monday, July 24, 2006

Retired Skimmer Admiral Misusing Uniform?

CDR Salamander seems to be "stifling the dissent" of a recent DCNO. Joe Sestak, who was "administratively reassigned" as one of the first acts of the new CNO because of "poor command climate" and later retired, is running for Congress. The 'Phib noticed there were a few things not quite kosher about Sestak giving stump speeches in uniform, and brings them to our attention.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Anti-Israel Protest In Berlin -- Now With Blood Libel!

Normally, the Germans are fairly sensitive when it comes to anti-Jewish protests -- unless, apparently, the protesters are Muslim. Check out this Reuters report about anti-Israel protests in Berlin yesterday. An excerpt:
Several thousand people in Berlin protested against Israel's bombing campaign in Lebanon on Friday, joining angry protests across the Middle East this week.
"Israel drinks the blood of our children," said one of the posters carried by a demonstrator draped in a Lebanese flag in the German capital...
...The rally took place at Adenauerplatz, a square in western Berlin. Hundreds of police in riot gear cordoned off the demonstration. They frisked people who wanted to enter. There were no visible clashes between demonstrators and police...
...Among the demonstrators were families, with mothers wearing head scarves and children carrying flags. One woman carried a small child clutching an Israeli flag with a red circle around the star of David and a red line through it.
Berlin has a large Muslim community. There are more than 3 million Muslims in Germany, most of them of Turkish origin.
I was fairly surprised that they let the "Israel drinks the blood of our children" sign go, considering how much that sounds like the old Muslim (and Christian) slander that "Jews use the blood of non-Jewish children for Purim pastries" and other blood libel stories. Maybe the Germans are getting a little too tolerant of anti-Jewish demonstrations...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Bubblehead -- Moon Bat Daredevil

Posting may be light this weekend; my daughter's coming home from college for the long weekend, and I'm engaged in a snarkfest over at "progressive" Idaho site 43rd State Blues with a 9/11 conspiracy theorist who posts there frequently. I'll try to put something up, though...

Thursday, July 20, 2006

In Defense Of Submarine CPOs

Rob found a very interesting letter from a retired aviation Master Chief in this week's Navy Times that he discusses over at the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More. The whole thing is posted there; here's a brief snippet to whet your appetite:
I think that the nuclear Navy has a certain endemic problem with its chief petty officers in that they have no real chiefs’ mess from which to glean knowledge and leadership. The gold and blue crews are just that, and there is no goat locker where a chief can go to ask assistance from his fellow chiefs. The [chief of the boat] is not a mess president, he is a leading chief with the responsibility of caring for all ranks and rates onboard the vessel. He wears many hats, but not the one that is most important to the command structure — that of the president of the chiefs mess. Why? Because they do not have a CPO mess. There is no room, and most nuclear Navy types believe they can get leadership from a book. Case in point [is] the outgoing master chief petty officer of the Navy...
... I do not believe that a nuclear Navy submariner chief should be allowed to participate in the command master chief program until he has done at least one tour onboard a large surface combatant and is exposed to a real chief’s mess and understands his position in that mess. Leadership is a trait honed in the chief’s mess, and no book can give you the knowledge that a seasoned master chief can from his experiences alone.
Needless to say, I disagree with the Master Chief. I did one deployment on an aircraft carrier, so I'm not the world's biggest expert on the matter, but I'd put the leadership abilities of submarine CPOs against any others in the Navy. From what I saw, one doesn't demonstrate leadership by hanging out in the Goat Locker and talking about it while eating; you learn by doing. Drinking coffee in the Chief's Mess all day is all well and good for carrier guys, I suppose, but I'd take a submarine Chief who spends his time on the deckplates any day, and learns from a COB who's also out with the troops.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

What Was This Guy Thinking?

Huckleberries Online already mentioned this, but I couldn't let it pass without posting it myself. From today's Idaho Statesman:
Leonard Hugh Fuller asked agents at the Eastport border crossing July 9 if he could store his gun there while he went on vacation in Canada, according to court records.
He showed the officers a badge and credentials and they agreed to hold his 9mm Beretta until he returned, the records showed.
Border agents then checked with the U.S. State Department, which had never heard of the "United States Special Response Department Anti-Terrorism Unit" — the agency Fuller reportedly said was his employer. Fuller was arrested when he returned July 12 and asked for his weapon back.
Fuller, 55, was booked for investigation of producing fraudulent identity documents, a federal felony punishable by a maximum 15 years and $250,000 in fines.
Dude, seriously, you're supposed to use your fake identity as a super-secret government agent to pick up girls, not to get free gun storage. I mean... "Special Response Department Anti-Terrorism Unit"? Government agency names are stupid, but not that stupid. If you're going to make up a spy agency name, at least give it a good acronym.

"Goat On The Boat"

Over at Rontini's BBS I found a most excellent sea story from the DBF crowd that you should check out (the original source material is here). Sample quote:
Duke told us to get the goat out of the engine room and off the boat. We tried to convince Duke that he should let us keep the goat as a mascot. Duke presented sound reasons for getting rid of the goat to each of our arguments, except for one. When he tried to reason with us by asking "What about the smell?" One of the troops shot right back "The goat will get used to the smell, we all did."
Here's a picture from the story:

No matter what humorous stuff us nuclear boat guys do, there' s no way we could ever match the stories the diesel boat Sailors can come up with...

(The story and photo above come from the USS Archerfish (SS 311) Pages, which is one of the better boat pages out there.)

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Compare And Contrast

A quote from Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert yesterday caught my eye:

“When missiles are launched at our residents and our towns, our answer will be war waged at full strength, with all determination, courage and sacrifice.”

For some reason, this reminded me of the famous quote from French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau in March 1918:

"My home policy: I wage war; my foreign policy: I wage war. All the time I wage war."

Clemenceau actually did wage total war, and went on to win (with quite a bit of help). I wonder if the Israelis will be able to do the same -- and if they do, if they'll have the same problem France did 20-some-odd years afterwards.

My guesses: No, Israel won't wage war "at full strength", and nothing will get solved in this current crisis except that some terrorists who deserve to die will die, as will some innocents who don't deserve to (as happens in any conflict). Maybe Israel should force a "final" (for a generation) showdown with the Syrians and Iranians... but they won't.

I honestly don't know what they should do. I don't offer any solutions... I just raise issues.

(Break -- New topic: I was thinking about the WWI quote because I just finished reading "A World Undone: The Story of the Great War 1914-1918". I've read quite a few WWI books, and this one is the best high-level coverage of the War I've seen.)

Monday, July 17, 2006

Submarine News Links 17 July 2006

With The Sub Report on break until Thursday (although the guest bloggers are doing a bang-up job keeping things updated at The Sub Report Blog) I figured I'd try my hand at doing some Sub Report-style linkage. Here goes today's effort:

Sailor Accused Of Arson Is Given Bond

Nuclear Propulsion Systems Improving

Second Sailor Convicted Of Hazing Charges (annoying registration required)
"A military jury convicted a second USS Columbus sailor of hazing and assault Friday at a special courtmartial. "Petty Officer 1st Class Alvin Franklin, 25, also was found guilty of aggravated assault for pouring isopropyl alcohol on a shipmate’s uniform shirt and setting it on fire. The all-male jury of four chief petty officers and a chief warrant officer — none of them submariners — cleared Franklin of two other counts of assault and of threatening to kill Cool. "But like another Columbus sailor convicted of hazing last week, Franklin will be allowed to stay in the Navy, despite a request from prosecutors that both men receive bad conduct discharges. With credit for time served, Franklin will spend 10 more days in the brig at Bangor submarine base. He also will forfeit two-thirds of his pay for two months and be demoted to third class petty officer."

More What You'd Call 'Recommendations' Than Actual Orders?

Possible Step Forward On Taiwan Submarine Deal

Eric always includes a picture, too, so here's a new picture of my old boat USS Topeka (SSN 754) being shown off to impressed schoolchildren in San Diego:

Sunday, July 16, 2006

Iranian Involvement In Missile Attack On Israeli Ship

Contrary to initial reports, it now appears almost certain that the Israeli Eilat-class Saar-5 missile corvette was hit by a C-802 missile, rather that a guided drone. The ship, reportedly the INS Hanit, lost four sailors in the attack. According to this report from YNet:
Brigadier-General Noam Page of the Navy said in a press conference Saturday that the Navy was unaware that a missile threat existed in the sector, and that the boat's crew had acted accordingly.
Missile boats are equipped with a missile interception system capable of automatically intercepting any missile or aircraft approaching it. However, as the boat was operating in an area where a large number of IDF planes were present, the Navy had refrained from activating the system.
Navy sources said that had they known the Hizbullah was in possession of missiles of the type used against the boat Saturday, the missile interception system would have been turned on.
This seems to be a fairly significant failure on the part of Israeli intelligence. In what strikes me as an attempt to deflect blame for this failure, the Israelis are now claiming that Iranian Revolutionary Guards forces actually fired the missile from Lebanon:
Israeli officials charged that elite Iranian troops operating in Lebanon were involved in the Hezbollah offensive, and were responsible for firing an Iranian-made, radar-guided C802 missile - not the unmanned bomb-laden drone originally reported - that struck the warship on Friday, killing four sailors.
"There are Iranian officers belonging to the Iranian Revolutionary Guard among Hezbollah and they operated the missile," said Israeli Vice Prime Minister and elder statesman Shimon Peres.
While there's no doubt that the missile was probably supplied by the Iranians, and there's also no question that the Iranian Revolutionary Guards are, in general, a few feathers short of a duck (and therefore wouldn't see the problem with actively engaging in combat with Israel and potentially being caught doing so), I see no reason why the Hezbollah terrorists couldn't be taught how to fire the missile -- especially with the reports that they shot two missiles at the Hanit, but the other missed and hit an Egyptian merchant further downrange.

My take on the whole episode: Based on reports I've seen of the damage to the ship, my guess is that the warhead didn't explode, and that all the damage was done by the missile's fuel cooking off when it hit (the kinetic energy of the missile would also contribute some damage.) The Israelis, normally the epitome of good planning, screwed the pooch on this one by underestimating their adversary -- the Israelis who commented on this news article seem to mostly agree. Expect some people to be held responsible for the failure both in the Israeli Navy and intelligence services. However, don't expect the Israelis to engage in a big public self-flagellation about it; they'll make the necessary changes and get back to business.

Eagle1 has much more on the story here.

Update 2016 16 July: CDR Salamander has more over at Milblogs Ring HQ.

Update 1145 22 July: Here's a report on the initial "lessons learned" evaluation by the IDF. It says the missile did explode above the ship, which would imply a proximity fuse -- that's almost scarier than if it had hit the ship directly.

Friday, July 14, 2006

"Hey, Guys, Can I Come In?"

For your viewing pleasure -- a neat picture from NavSource of what appears to be a ship's diver on a 637 checking the aft escape hatch while the ship takes a wave over the deck:

IMHO, ship's divers don't get near enough extra pay for what they do...

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Submarines, Religion And Politics -- Brit Style

We've heard a lot of people saying that people shouldn't bring their religious views into the political arena -- mostly from the left side of the body politic, complaining about the influence that conservative religious voters have on the outcome of elections. I've read people saying the same thing over in Europe. Interestingly, I haven't heard any complaints from the left about the most recent example of religious leaders in Britain attempting to inject God into politics:
A group of bishops have warned Prime Minister Tony Blair that the possession of Trident nuclear weapons is "evil" and "profoundly anti-God".
In a letter published in The Independent, the 20 bishops said Trident was "evil" and that "possession and use are profoundly anti-God acts."...
..."Nuclear weapons are a direct denial of the Christian concept of peace and reconciliation, which are social and economic as well as physical and spiritual."
Great Britain is in the middle of a debate about how to replace their aging force of Vanguard-class SSBNs, which will reach end of hull life in 2024. Since both the leadership of Labour and the Conservative opposition support the concept of a new class of submarines (as well as the more basic question of whether or not Britain should even maintain a nuclear deterrent force), I expect that's the direction they'll go; this being British politics, however, you can expect a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth by the left during the continued debate.

Depleted Uranium -- Worthy Of Exclamations Points!

The Letters to the Editor section of the Idaho Statesman continue to provide an endless source of amusement. Take the letter (at the bottom of this link) in Tuesday's paper from one of the more prolific LTTE writers (he's got an anti-Bush letter in there once a month, which is the maximum allowed; in fact, he's got so much to say about President Bush that he wrote a 109 page book about it). Here's the letter in its entirety:
Madeleine Albright believes U.S. and U.N. sanctions against Iraq to try to oust Saddam Hussein justified the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children!
Similar attitudes toward civilian deaths in Iraq exist today; they're obscured behind the term "collateral damage." This is in spite of the fact we have no legal or moral right to be in Iraq killing anyone. Iraq was as blameless on 9/11 as Canada or Mexico!
We've committed an aggressive criminal war, like those we condemned under Hitler. Our enduring bases and embassy in Iraq reveal intentions to control oil and expand our empire. Few of our 295 million citizens approve these actions.
Our crimes include using depleted uranium munitions (DU) with a half-life of 4.4 billion years! When DU ammunition explodes, it creates radioactive gas containing microscopic particles that litter the countryside and alter peoples' DNA. A ton of DU dispersed on the battlefield releases many Hiroshima bombs' worth of radiation. The U.S. has used approximately 4,600 tons since 1991! Over 89 percent of service persons in Iraq in 1991 are on medical disability; they also beget deformed babies.
Our government is contaminating the Earth with radiation from DU munitions. Become informed; help change this behavior.
[Emphasis mine] You can tell that what he has to say is important, because he uses four (!) exclamation points! I've wondered before whether or not the Idaho Statesman has any policy on requiring the use of actual facts in reader's letters, or if you're just allowed to make stuff up, and they'll print it. Apparently it's the latter. The writer is correct that Uranium-238 has a half life of over 4 billion years (actually it's about 4.46 billion years), but he says it as if that's a bad thing. What this means is that the odds of an atom of Uranium-238 that gets in your body actually decaying anytime in the next 50 years is essentially zero (it's something to the minus 7th power, if I did my calculation right). Sure, if you get a speck of it in your lungs a few atoms will probably decay during your lifetime, but the dose you get from that is miniscule compared to what you get from the sun every year. (For those interested, this article about the evils of Depleted Uranium goes into excruciating detail about the U-238 decay chain, without ever mentioning the long U-238 half life.) For those not familiar with how half lives work, if you see a half life of over a million years, you can consider the substance essentially not radioactive for all intents and purposes.

I love his claim that a ton of DU releases many Hiroshima bombs of radiation. I've never seen that one before... it's brilliant! As long as the reader doesn't know anything about science, they'll read that and say, "Oh, Depleted Uranium is really bad". The more saavy readers will, of course, realize that this radiation is released over the next 22+ billion years, and the Earth will be a charred, lifeless body circling a white dwarf star before a lot of the uranium emits even one radioactive particle.

So, both of those statements were actually true, if a little misleading. How about the last highlighted statement, that "89% of service persons in Iraq in 1991 are on medical disability"? This one is flat out wrong. A lot of "progressive" websites (like the one linked above) mention that huge numbers of Gulf War Era veterans are receiving medical disability. What they don't mention is that anyone who's been in the military during the last 15 years is a "Gulf War Era Veteran"; they take the number of people who have been given a disability rating since 1991, and divide that by the number of troops in Iraq in 1991 (697,000, of whom about 609K have left the military, and thus became eligible for disability ratings). Since I personally know that there are people who have received disability ratings since 1991 who weren't in Iraq, the assumption the writer makes is just plain mistaken, and his stated number is equally wrong. (As of 2001, the actual rate of disability determinations for veterans who were in Iraq during 1991 was about 26%, with many of these being for knee injuries.)

I am impressed, though, that he waited until the third paragraph to mention Hitler. Most progressive letter writers don't have that kind of self-discipline.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

New Undersea Warfare Magazine Out!

Only three weeks after summer began, the Spring 2006 issue of Undersea Warfare magazine has been posted. It looks like there are quite a few good articles, but the one on Communications at Speed and Depth looks most interesting at first glance. Happy reading!

Why We Continue To Fight

For those who'd like to read about what the Indian people are saying after today's horrific terrorist attacks, this page has some enlightening comments.

And, for those who want to see it, The Jawa Report has the video of the mutilated bodies of the two American soldiers tortured and murdered in Iraq a couple of weeks ago (you'll have to scroll down a bit if you want to see the video; Warning -- it's very disturbing). Those who think that putting panties on someone's head is "torture" should really be the ones to go look at the video and see if they can see a difference. And no, I'm not interested in hoping we capture those responsible and ensuring they have a fair trial. For those who still don't understand it, we are at war; there are other ways to handle situations like this during wartime; these ways aren't pretty, but they get the point across, and maybe convince our enemies that it's not worth continuing the fight. [Intel Source for last link: CDR Salamander] I recognize that right now we don't have the national will to do this sort of thing anymore, but maybe if more people start to understand the true nature of our enemy, the jihadis will learn to fear the reaction of the "Amerian street" in the way we're always told to be sensitive to the concerns of the "Arab street".

For an alternate opinion on the video, John from Castle Argghhh!!! gives his reasons why we shouldn't watch it.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Things I Should Have Updated Earlier

I assume that most of my visitors also visit The Sub Report to keep up-to-date with the latest submarine news, so I sometimes find myself not updating my earlier blog posts when the issue I was screeching about gets resolved or becomes OBE. But, since some of you might not head over there on a daily basis, I figure I should make some stories current.

** Last Wednesday, I wrote about how a California judge had issued an injunction against the use of sonar during RIMPAC. Later last week, the Navy reached an agreement with the National Resources Defense Council to do a lot of things they were probably planning on doing anyway, so the surface ships can start ensonifying the water looking for subs, which will be plodding along right where they're supposed to be so the surface ships can find them.

** The first court-martial of a Sailor accused in the USS Columbus hazing incidents was found guilty (of 3 of 7 counts, from what I can tell) and busted to ET2, along with losing some pay and liberty. The Kitsap Sun's Military Life blog seems to be the best source for information on this story. The thing that jumped out at me was that the jury for the court martial didn't have any submariners on it; I guess Navy Region Northwest must be the convening authority -- which, I found out after a little research, they are. From the article on the court martial in The Kitsap Sun (really annoying registration required) the public learns way too much about the culture on Columbus that led to the charges:
Though the panel did not find Garza guilty of setting the jacket alight, members did find him guilty of hitting Cool in the groin. Prosecutors had argued that on one occasion, Garza punched Cool so hard as he was walking by that Cool fell to the ground.
A medical corpsman assigned to the Columbus had testified that Cool came to him in February complaining of groin pain and impotence, though no bruising or swelling was visible.
On cross-examination, Chief Petty Officer Michael Sexton said Cool eventually mentioned participating in ball-tapping — roughhousing that involved sailors hitting one another in the groin.
"He did say: ‘Me and my shipmates play this ball-tapping game,’" Sexton testified.
Garza’s defense attorney, Lt. Ben Robertson, argued in his final statement that Cool was a willing participant in ball-tapping and other horseplay in a division that was like "a big locker room."
I personally spent way too much time in the shipyard, but I never heard of divisions playing roshambo to pass the time. As demonstrated by everything getting this far, it looks like there was something way out of the ordinary going on there.

** I'm eventually going to post my trip report for my visit to Bangor, as soon as I get motivated enough to download the pictures from my camera.

Monday, July 10, 2006

Idaho National Guardsman Sets A Record

Now this is impressive:
Every six minutes and 20 seconds for just under 21 hours, Air National Guard Capt. Dan Schilling parachuted 486 feet from the rusted steel of Twin Falls' Perrine Bridge into the depths of the Snake River Gorge.
With a 60-ton crane lifting him from the gorge floor and a team of sleepless parachute packers outfitting him for each jump, Schilling jumped 201 times between 8:10 p.m. Friday and just after 6 p.m. Saturday.
His effort set a new world record for the most BASE jumps in 24 hours. BASE is an acronym for the buildings, antennae, spans and earth used as a platform for daredevils in this extreme sport.
Schilling, who commands the Oregon-based 125th Special Tactics Squadron, took on this challenge to raise $20,000 for the Special Operations Warrior Foundation, an organization that awards full college scholarships to the children of special operations soldiers who have died in battle.
Schilling, a veteran of Somalia in 1993, described the weekend BASE-jumping feat as his "most daunting challenge". The Special Operations Warrior Foundation's website is here for those who'd like to see who he was raising money for. Some pictures of the Captain in action, like the one below, can be found here.

Bell-ringer 2356 11 July 2006: Alan, who really is an Idaho National Guardsman, points out that Captain Shilling commands an Oregon Air Guard unit. (I should have figured that out myself when I went to the Idaho Air National Guard homepage last night to look for biographical information, and found that the number of the unit was one off.) Oh, well, he still did it in Idaho, so at least I got that part of the story right.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Twenty Years Ago Yesterday...

ADM Hyman Rickover passed away 20 years ago yesterday, on July 8, 1986. Love him or hate him, no one can deny that he was one of a kind. While he may have been more trouble than he was worth the last few years of his Naval career, I don't think anyone else possessed the drive and determination needed to get the nuclear submarine from concept to launch as quickly as he did (authorized by Congress July 1951, USS Nautilus commissioned September 1954). For that, he deserves the thanks of a grateful nation.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Back In Town

Blogging's been light the last few days because we went up to Bangor to see a guy I did my JO tour with on Topeka take command of USS Maine's Blue crew. I should have a trip report up soon.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Engage The Caterpillar Drive

According to this article in The New London Day (annoying registration required after today), Electric Boat won a $20 milllion contract from DARPA to research "shaftless propulsion" for submarines:
"The 18-month contract was awarded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. Electric Boat, one of two defense contractors to compete for the award, will lead a team of smaller companies and academic institutions that will work on the technology that allows a submarine to operate without a propulsion shaft that penetrates its hull.
“This (shaftless propulsion) has a really good shot at being the future of propulsion (for submarines),” said Robert A. Hamilton, the shipyard's spokesman. “We're certainly hopeful.”
Submarines now use a direct-line propulsion shaft to a large propeller.
“This would allow us to put propulsors anywhere on the ship,” Hamilton said. “It allows more options for us in terms of a ship's configuration,” he added.
The EB press release is here. I've always heard rumors that this stuff was possible; it'll be interesting to see what they can come up with. Getting rid of the whole shaft system would really revolutionize submarine design.

Kewl RC Submarine Toy

I found the coolest toy at WalMart this weekend -- it was one of those impulse purchases where I went through the "see - recognize - decide to buy - grab" cycle in about three seconds. What was it that made me so excited? Here it is:

The main selling point for me, of course, was that it was named after my old boat USS Connecticut (SSN 22). They also had one named after the Seawolf -- the two subs operate on different frequencies, so you can have them fight each other in the pool, I guess. (If played correctly, Connecticut should always kick Seawolf's butt, being a newer submarine and all.) They also had a USS Chicago RC sub, but it had the wrong hull number on it (I think it was 665, but it might be wrong; I've also read about a USS Dallas.)

As you can see by the photo below of the toy compared to my going-away gift from the Connecticut, it's not an accurate reproduction, but if it actually can dive and maneuver in the water like they say it can, it's still about the coolest $20 toy I've ever seen.

Unfortunately, I don't have a pool at my house, but there are other uses for something this sweet. For example, I think it'd make an excellent gag gift for an old fast attack shipmate who's taking command of an Ohio-class boat -- you could tell him that he'll still be able to practice driving while the other crew has his sub.

And for those Connecticut guys who were wondering -- yes, I think this toy is even cooler than the USS Connecticut G.I. Joe:

Worms -- Beware!

I got a call at work from SubBasket today: "Congratulations, Dad, we have new babies". I was startled for only a second, then I realized what she was talking about -- the robin's eggs we had seen in a nest in the oak tree in our front yard had hatched! When Mom was off getting some food for the youngsters, I snuck up and snapped this picture:

They look pretty hungry; I think they're going to keep the momma robin busy for the next several weeks. (She seems to be a pretty good provider, though; a little while later, we saw her sitting by the nest with a big fat worm hanging out of her bill.) So far we've only seen two babies, but we knew from previous recon missions that there were three eggs. I'll keep you posted on their progress.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Speak TRUTH To Power! (By Not Eating)

As many of you have probably heard, many progressive celebrities are joining Peace Mother Sheehan in a "Rolling Fast" wherein each celebrity fasts for one day, then "hands off" to another celebrity. This display of iron self-control and willpower among a group noted for eating disorders is sure to cause President Bush to abandon his evil plans of killing off all Iraqis so Ken Lay can live unmolested in Ramadi while they bury the corpse of some guy who had plastic surgery to look like him.

This is all well and good, but it seems somewhat elitist to only have the beautiful people get attention for fasting. That's why I'm excited that Liberal Larry at BlameBush! has democratized the process, and is offering netizens of the blogosphere the opportunity to join in. He's divided July 12th into 144 ten minute periods, and is asking people to sign up to fast during their alloted time to show support for starving celebrities. I'm already signed up, and asked for my period to be scheduled during the evening commute, so everyone will be able to see me fast as I'm driving home. I just hope I don't get off work early that day, though... I'd hate to have to push dinner back a few minutes. Of course, if I get off really early, I could have dinner just before my designated fasting time, which could work out OK...

Active Sonar Use For RIMPAC Denied

A District Court judge for the Central California District Court on Monday issued a temporary injunction against the use of active sonar during RIMPAC 2006 off the coast of Hawaii. This order, at least temporarily, overrides the national security exemption that was issued last week to allow ships to use active sonar during the exercise despite possible damage to marine mammals. Until this is resolved, the warships involved will be reduced to using passive sonar (a.k.a. a "different type of sonar", according to today's AP article on the flap).

I expect the Navy to argue that this injunction could cause irreparable harm to the participant's ability to practice anti-submarine warfare, and will present evidence that these exercises, which only happen every two years, present a unique training opportunity. Since the lawsuit was filed in the Central California district court (as opposed to the Hawaii District Court -- maybe the plantiffs did a little court-shopping, no?) I'm not sure how eager the courts would be to overturn the injunction. Eagle1 would probably have a better idea of what might happen next.

Staying at PD...

Update 0051 06 July: The Navy's press release is here.

Update 0818 06 July: The Navy yesterday asked the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to block the order; given the history of the Ninth Circuit, though, I'm not too optimistic.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Happy 4th Of July!

In honor of our nation's 230th birthday, I present you with a neat picture and a word of caution. First, the picture, of the Submarine Centennial monument at the Naval Academy:

Lastly, the friendly caution: "He who has a fifth on the 4th will likely not go forth on the 5th." Be safe, everyone.

Bell-ringer 0611 05 July: SonarMan has a report from SubFest at Subase NLON, which traditionally occurs right around the 4th.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Plankowner's Plaques

I found this article about the parents of two Sailors from my last boat, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) and it got me thinking. Here's what the article says:
Diane Grieves and John and Maureen Zabatta became good friends after their sons, currently serving aboard the USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), made the connection that their parents are Villages residents.
“It’s a small world,” John Zabatta said. His son, Daniel Zabatta, machinist mate 1, is second in command under Keith Grieves, machinist mate chief and the son of Diane Grieves. Both sailors are serving in the torpedo division of the fast-attack submarine stationed in Bremerton, Wash...
...“One of the things that is interesting is, both of our sons are plank owners, which means that they get their names posted in the boat forever,” John added.
It's nice of the shipyards to make up the plaques that have the names of all the plankowners -- I think they did three for the Connecticut, one for officers, another for Chiefs, and the main one with the whole commissioning crew. Still, it's a little too much to expect that the follow-on crews will be really excited about having a plaque taking up prime bulkhead space honoring guys that no one has even heard of.

In what I think it a common practice nowadays, in the boats that I've been on, the last person named on the plaque who remains onboard gets to take it with them when they leave. This usually means that some junior guy who reported about a week before commissioning, and didn't really know the initial manning crew at all, gets the plaque. Still, that's probably better than having it sit in the boats storage room at squadron for 30 years.

I got on Topeka about a year after she was commissioned, so there were still a couple of plankowners aboard when I left -- they were angling to stay on board as long as possible to get the plaque. On Connecticut, I was the last of the initial manning officers to get relieved, but there were still 3 or 4 "late arriving" guys whose names were on the plaque that prevented me from making off with the wardroom plaque. Hopefully whoever did take it treats it with respect.

Sunday, July 02, 2006

2006 -- Halfway Done

Today at 1 p.m. (or at noon, if you're in an area that doesn't have Daylight Savings Time), 2006 will be half over. Hopefully everyone is still making good progress on their New Year's resolutions. (I had resolved this year to "get more grey hair" so I'm doing pretty good with mine.)

I figured this would be a good time to check up on how my "Predictions for 2006" were doing. They were:

1) Somewhere, a submarine will make national news. It won't be for something good.

2) Despite the hopes of moonbats everywhere, President Bush and Vice President Cheney will not be impeached.

3) Despite the dire warnings of the German press, the U.S. will not invade Iran.

4) The Democrats will gain a few seats in the 2006 mid-term elections, which will be the most expensive and nasty mid-term elections ever. Despite the fact that the party in power essentially always loses congressional seats in the 6th year of an administration, the MSM will portray it as a referendum on Iraq.

5) With all the documents being leaked, among those that won't be leaked will be the initial OPLAN for Operation Iraqi Freedom, since it would show that the current timetable for the drawing down of the occupation is essentially following the original plan.

6) Britney Spears and Kevin Federline will have marriage problems.

There aren't any that have been proven wrong yet, and all of them could still be true. The USS Columbus hazing issue hasn't really reached the national level yet, which is a good thing. Everything else is still on track (especially #6, based on the recent Matt Lauer interview that Britney gave, where Kevin was nowhere to be seen). I'm standing by all of them -- we'll check back in six months.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Movie Review: Superman Returns

SubBasket, DeepDiver, and I saw "Superman Returns" on Friday night, and had three quite different reactions. SubBasket, a [redacted] year old wife and mother, thought it was really good. DeepDiver, a 14 year old boy, thought is was pretty good. And I thought it was probably one of the worst movies I've seen in a long time.

Please note that I didn't dislike it because they weren't "pro-American" enough. It just wasn't a good movie -- I wasn't inspired to care about the characters, I was bored during the long breaks between action sequences, there was hardly any humor, and it didn't have nearly enough explosions. I'm willing to suspend disbelief when I see a superhero movie, but this one went way out into left field. For example, Superman's ability to fly has always been due, I've assumed, to his incredibly strong leg muscles. Here, he just has an innate ability to hover -- what's up with that? This new Superman has a little too much of a weird "stalker" quality about him that I'm sure makes him more "vulnerable" for that portion of the movie-going public who look for hidden sensitivity in brooding, dangerous men. I just want them to beat up bad guys while engaging in witty repartee.

I admit that I might be wrong about this movie -- girlfriday liked it, but she's a known person of gender. I'm going to split my rating up into two parts: as a movie to take your (female) date to, I'll give it a 3 out of 5. As a guy movie, I'll give it a 2 -- two middle fingers, boldly extended.

(Disclaimer: I was in a slightly bad mood going into the movie because the theater's ticket office didn't have their credit card system working, so I had to use the ATM in the lobby to get cash to pay for the tickets, and I had to pay a $1.50 service charge there plus whatever my bank's going to charge me for using an off-network ATM, and on top of that the theater wouldn't even comp me any snacks when I complained to the manager about the extra charge in hopes of getting free stuff. Plus, I had to wait in the ATM line behind a couple who didn't know how to use the ATM, so we missed the showing in the digital theater. Of course, the movie probably would have only sucked in more vivid color with the digital projector.)

Update 1539 01 July: Michelle Malkin didn't like the movie much, either.