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

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Misleading Sub-related Headline Of The Day

I'll tell you what, I was shocked when I read the headline of this story in The Galveston County Daily News: "USPS Plans New Stamp For USS Texas". I remembered how much of a battle it'd been to get the commemorative stamps issued by the Post Office for the Submarine Centennial in 2000, and thought: "Wow, those Texas politicians have some serious pull". Then I read what the article really meant by "stamp":
The U.S. Postal Service in Galveston issued a special pictorial postmark in tribute to the Sept. 9 commissioning of the USS Texas.
The commissioning of the nuclear submarine is scheduled for 10 a.m. Sept. 9 on Pier 10 in Galveston.
The special stamp, also called a cancellation, depicts a submarine inside the outline of the state of Texas, with a star marking Galveston Island.
It also includes the sub’s name, USS Texas SSN-775, and the date of the commissioning.
For those members of the press who still aren't quite sure of the difference -- This is an example of a cancellation:

And these are examples of stamps:

(Thanks to the NavSource Sub Photo website for the cancellation picture.)

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

More Pictures Of PCU Texas

One of the guys from SubSim.com was onboard PCU Texas for their recent media availability, and generated a really good report with lots of pictures. My favorite was this one of the SCP:

The traditionalist in me wonders what will happen if they ever lose all AC while underway -- and the submarine Engineer in me knows they've probably got a damned good backup system installed just for that possibility. (For all I know, the whole thing's powered off the battery bus -- no reason it can't be DC).

Music Video: "Submarine" (Bad Word Warning!)

[Intel Source: Rontini's BBS] I figured I should get the "Bad Word Warning" in the title of this post, because this video for the song "Submarine" has lots of bad words.

It comes from the web site for the band "7 Seconds Of Love", who are most famous for their classic song "We Like The Moon". Although the band did the song, the video was put together by some of their fans.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

A Conspiracy Theory Even The DUmmies Won't Buy

Check out this explanation of the 2002 Bali bombing from Indonesian Muslim cleric Abu Bakar Bashir:
In an interview tonight on ABC television's Foreign Correspondent, Bashir claims the device that killed most people in the Bali attack was a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) "micro-nuclear" bomb.
"The micro-nuclear bomb that did so much damage was a CIA bomb, not Amrozi's bomb," Bashir told the ABC.
"The Bali bombing was actually masterminded by America. Well, not masterminded, but hijacked. They planned it, but their plan was hijacked by America."
"So the bomb that killed so many Australians, it was an American bomb. It wasn't the bomb made by Amrozi and his friends."
One of the commenters in this DU thread about the article actually picked up on the concept of critical mass, and how that sets a lower limit on the potential yield of a nuclear warhead.

I did mention the article at the blog of Idaho's favorite moonbat, though, so we'll see if he runs with it (like he did with my request that he check out the Jesse MacBeth story earlier this year). And yes, for those who were wondering, that is my picture next to the phrase "easily amused" in the dictionary.

USS Dolphin To Be Decommissioned

As the sub-blogosphere reported back in June, USS Dolphin (AGSS 555) will be decommissioned next month. From a really good article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, here's a picture of the old girl:

Check out the whole article in the U-T; here's an excerpt:
Less than a year after completing a $50 million project to repair and upgrade the San Diego-based research vessel, the Navy will decommission it Sept. 22. It is the country's last diesel-electric sub.
Axing the Dolphin will save the cash-strapped Navy about $18 million annually, said Capt. John Schwering, director of the Navy Range Office in Washington. The Navy's budget this year is $125 billion...
...The Dolphin had other notable firsts: sending the first successful submarine-to-aircraft laser communication and the first sub-to-surface e-mail and making the deepest launch for a torpedo. It has served as the testing platform for numerous sonar systems. As the Navy gradually retired the rest of its diesel-electric fleet, the Dolphin often played the enemy in anti-submarine warfare exercises – an important role because most of the world's navies still field diesel-electric subs.
Pentagon officials say the Dolphin's age and uniqueness caught up with it, making it expensive to operate and maintain. They say it carries obsolete sonar, is too slow and can't be maneuvered well enough to convincingly simulate a modern diesel-electric sub.
The article also has a decent analysis on why the Navy is having to try to cut costs.

As always, the best source for old stories from the Dolphin is from G-man over at the USS Dolphin blog.

Woman On A Submarine!

No, it's not time to perform the quarterly PM of having a discussion on whether or not women should be assigned to submarines -- it's time to look at newly-released pictures of PCU Texas (SSN 775) as she makes her way to Galveston for her commissioning next month. Here's a picture of the Texas' bridge cockpit, which features an example of the title of this post:

If you go here and download the hi-res version, you can get a good look at some of the 21st century stuff the Virginia class boats have on the bridge. (Actually, it looks pretty much like what the 20th century Seawolf-class boats have, except their bridges are bigger. And faster.)

They put out quite a few more pictures from the boat's media availability: here's one of the control room, here's one of the torpedo room, and they have lots of pictures of the outside of the boat: here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Oh, and if you do find yourself being a woman on a submarine, and you have to go to the bridge like the young lady in the picture, remember that you'll be climbing a vertical ladder, with lots of Sailors potentially looking up the ladder from the bottom -- so don't wear a skirt.

Monday, August 28, 2006

♪♪♪ "I Can Change, I Can Change..." ♪♪♪

[Intel Source: Drudge Report] I don't know if this report is accurate or not, but if it is, it shows the absolute brilliance of a group of bored Marines:
Speaking at the Edinburgh International Television Festival, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone said US Marines guarding the former dictator during his trial for genocide were making him watch the movie "repeatedly".

"I have it on pretty good information from the Marines on detail in Iraq that they showed him the movie last year. That's really adding insult to injury. I bet that made him really happy," Stone said.
And speaking of bored Marines, head on over to Ninme's place (or CDR Salamander's) and see what the Marines underway on USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) are doing with their spare time.

An Open E-mail To The Bill Sali Campaign

Update 2117 04 Sept: I did get a response from the Ada County coordinator in the Sali campaign, saying they'd try to get me some answers. I'll keep you posted if I hear anything.

[Local Idaho politics warning!]

As I mentioned a couple of days ago, I've been thinking about writing an E-mail to the campaign of the Republican nominee for the Idaho 1st Congressional District race, Bill Sali, to see if I could get his comments on some of the issues that have come up during the campaign. Too much modern political discourse involves the supporters of opposing candidates snarking at each other from their respective blogs, without anyone trying to find out what the opposing candidate might actually have to say about the issues. Being a Republican who's supporting Democrat Larry Grant in this race, I figure I have a foot on both sides of the divide, so I decided to try to bridge the gap, and give Mr. Sali's campaign a chance to answer some questions. Here's what I came up with to send to his campaign staff:

I'm Joel Kennedy, a mil-blogger (someone who writes a military-themed web log, or online journal) in Meridian. My website, The Stupid Shall Be Punished, gets about 500 visits per day -- making it, as near as I can tell, the 2nd most-visited blog in the Treasure Valley (behind only Clayton Cramer; notably, I get 2 to 3 times the daily visits of your main defender in the Idaho blogosphere, Adam Graham). I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Sali at the Flag Day event at the Capitol building, where he gave a very good speech. He was very heartfelt in thanking me when we talked afterwards for my 21+ years of service in the Submarine Force, and I could tell he was sincere in doing so. While I've been a Republican my whole life, right now, for various reasons, I'm supporting Larry Grant in the 1st District Congressional race. Even so, I'm very interested in fairness, and would like to give the Sali campaign a chance to answer some questions and concerns that have come up among district bloggers. While bloggers (or "online journalists") are not traditional media, I would urge you not to ignore this potential source of getting your message out to the voters. I assure you that any response you provide to my questions will be reproduced without changes in my blog. (A copy of this E-mail has been posted in my blog here -- I'll put your response in the same post.)

Here are the questions that have been brought up:

1) Your website indicates that Mr. Sali intends to focus on "Supporting our troops" (as the last-listed "important issue"), but contains no additional information on how he intends to do so. Can you provide any specifics at all on how he intends to do this? Will he seek increases in the defense budget? Does he support Secretary Rumsfeld's proposal to reduce the number of active-duty troops?

2) Your website also mentions Mr. Sali's support for using the National Guard to defend the border against illegal immigrants. What Rules Of Engagement (ROE) would Mr. Sali expect for this mission? Does Mr. Sali support changes to the Posse Comitatus laws to actually allow the troops to do anything other than build fences, or does he envision that they'll just stand around and watch illegal immigrants cross the border, hoping that they can contact someone with arrest authority on the radio?

(The rest of the E-mail is in the extended entry)

3) Regarding Mr. Sali's recent vote in favor of Governor Risch's property tax reduction / sales tax increase: How does Mr. Sali reconcile his "yes" vote with his previously stated opposition to any tax increases? While it's true that many Idahoans (and all out-of-state vacation homeowners) will see a net reduction in taxes, non-homeowners (I've seen estimates that these make up 25-30% of the electorate) will end up paying more in taxes. Can Mr. Sali provide a clear explanation of his reasoning?

4) On TV last Friday night, a clip of Rep. Sali was shown where he said that those who opposed the Governor's plan (paraphrasing here) "apparently think it's OK for people to lose their houses because they can't pay property taxes". It was fairly obvious to essentially all interested observers that the opponents of the plan favored an alternate plan that would have similarly reduced property taxes for homeowners (along with no increase in the sales tax). Does Rep. Sali actually believe that those who opposed the Governor's plan really want people to lose their houses because they can't pay the property tax, or was he "fudging" the truth in his floor statement? If he does believe that was the case, is that an indication that Mr. Sali didn't really follow the issue? Can we expect him to do better as a Congressman?

5) Regarding the Vice President's recent fundraising visit to Boise, most media observers estimated that there were 150-200 contributors in the room. The Sali campaign put out a statement saying that there were "approximately 200-250" people there. It's been a couple of weeks now, so I'm guessing you've gotten the final numbers of contributors nailed down. How many people were actually there? Did you count Secret Service agents? Will those numbers be confirmed when you submit your next disclosure of campaign contributions? If not, why?

6) Regarding the recent fund-raising breakfast in Post Falls headlined by the Speaker of the House, Rep. Hastert, media observers said the Sali campaign initially stated that there were 120-140 contributors attending, but later issued a press release indicating that there were 150 contributors there. One person reported on the Spokesman-Review website that he estimated there were only 80 contributors in attendance, outside of the Speaker's group and the Sali campaign staff. How many people who paid the $35 to get in were really there? Will these numbers be reflected in your next campaign contribution disclosure? If not, why? And why aren't there any reports about the event on your website? I know if the Speaker of the House came to an event in my honor, I'd write about it.

7) Also regarding the fund-raising breakfast, there were media reports that your campaign had announced that the event was closed to the press in accordance with the Speaker's normal procedures. At a media availability, Rep. Hastert seemed surprised by this report, indicating that his events are normally not closed to the press. Did the Speaker's staff really ask you to close the event to the press, or did you do it because you were afraid of negative publicity from a 2nd consecutive lower-than-expected turnout for a high-profile guest? If they did ask you to do this, can you provide the name of the staffer that made this request? If they didn't, was the decision to close the event due to bad communications among your staff? If that was the case, do(es) the responsible staffer(s) still work for your campaign?

8) Especially with respect to the last three items, I think you can see that a reasonable observer might conclude that the Sali campaign is systematically over-estimating the number of attendees at fund-raising events. If it turns out, from your next campaign finance report, that the number of contributors were in fact lower than you reported, what will be your explanation? Will you blame poor staff work? If so, will you make a commitment that the staffers who made this mistake will not be part of your Congressional staff in D.C. if you're elected?

I look forward to your response to any or all of the questions I raised. As I said earlier, I will publish, without changes, any response you send in my online journal.

Thanks for your time,
Joel Kennedy -- "Bubblehead"

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Iran Test-Fires Sub-Launched Missile

Iran reported today that they've successfully tested a "long-range" missile from a submarine. The report came from a televised announcement that also apparently included a video of a missile exiting the water and hitting a target about half a mile away. I haven't been able to find the video yet, but I'm not sure that they were claiming that the video was of the most recent launch -- if so, it seems the Iranians might have a different definition of "long range" than most others.

The Iranians also claim that the missile can be fired from other surface ships. If so, it sounds like it might be their version of the Harpoon missile; they're apparently calling it the "Thaqeb", or "Jupiter" missile.

Getting a torpedo-tube launched missile to actually work is a fairly significant achievement; if the missile is the equivalent of a Harpoon, it would mean the Iranians are only 30 years behind the West in sub-launched anti-surface missile hardware, as opposed to the more than 60 years that they're behind us in uranium enrichment technology.

Staying at PD...

Update 0025 29 August: It looks now like they're translating "Thaqeb" as "Saturn".

Update 0659 30 August: Strategy Page thinks it might have been Russian-designed Klub-S missile. That kind of makes sense.

Nukes Vs. Diesels Over At 'Phib's Place

CDR Salamander crossed off the milblogger quarterly PM of someone hosting the "U.S. should buy diesel subs rather than nukes" debate, so head on over and join in the fun. My take (copied from the comment I just made over there):
It really depends on what you want the submarine to do. I'd still take a Virginia over 3 SSKs in an open ocean scenario. Additionally, I've got a feeling that it would cost us way more to build the subs that it does for the Germans, since our workers have been trained for the higher quality nuclear work and you wouldn't be able to drop their pay just because you don't need them to do as good of a weld. A lot of our sub-building money goes into SubSafe, and we're not going to drop those requirements just because it's a diesel boat.
Not that while I normally give the Virginia-class boats crap because they're so slow, compared to diesel boats they're like sports cars. Still, the case could be made that diesels could be more cost effective in a defensive ASW role, like we might face in Korea or Taiwan, assuming you forward deployed the SSKs to Guam. Still, that's pretty pricey for a one-mission platform.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Malcolm High School Class Of '81

Today my high school graduating class is having their 25th reunion. (I had 39 people in my graduating class, which I think still might be the 2nd biggest class in school history.) While I couldn't think of a better way to spend my birthday, I wasn't able to make it back to Nebraska, so I'll just dig out my old yearbook and think back to all those great old times. Actually, I really didn't like high school, but like submarining, you tend to forget the bad stuff and concentrate on the good.

Update 1026 26 Aug: Found my yearbook; here's a quick scan I was able to get. I don't know what I'm missing more -- my hair or my lack of a belly.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Bill Sali Will Need To Explain This One

The Republican candidate for Idaho's 1st Congressional District has made a big deal about never voting for a tax increase. In today's special session of the Idaho House, though, he did just that for an estimated 25-30% of Idahoans when he voted for a 20% increase in the sales tax. Granted, this is coupled with a reduction in property taxes, so most people will see a small net decrease in their taxes (the big winners, though, will be vacation homeowners from out of state). Non-homeowners, however, will only see the increase in taxes -- despite some lawmakers who apparently live on other planets thinking that landlords will immediately reduce rents because of their reduced property taxes. I look forward to Mr. Sali explaining how this doesn't violate his "pledge" without sounding like Bill Clinton wondering what the definition of "is" is. I should write him and see what he has to say for himself.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

New Look USSVI Homepage

Here's a web site you'll want to bookmark -- the newly-designed U.S. Submarine Veterans, Inc., home page. They've got lots of good stuff, including links to a bunch of boat pages. It's a great place to start if you're looking for any kind of historical submarine information.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

This Sounds Like A Really Bad Idea

Found this article over at The Sub Report, and at first I thought it was a joke. Maybe I'm too tired, though -- tell me what you think:
Lockheed's Advance Technology Lab in New Jersey is working on a system called T-TIDES (TTWCS-Tool for Interface Design Evaluation with Sensors) that will read the human physiological markers and tip off declines in crew effectiveness...
...T-TIDES will look particularly for signs of sleepiness and stress in the sailors who launch Tomahawks from ships and submarines. The research goes to the assumption that even the most-sophisticated weapons systems require human operators who are at the top of their games.
"A human's physiological markers typically depart from norms during high workload, distraction or drowsiness," Lockheed said in a news release. "As a result, performance may decline, reducing overall effectiveness of the interface."
The system relies on instruments that read vital signs such as brain activity, heart rate, pupil dilation and even the level of oxygen in the bloodstream.
Just what guys on watch need -- being hooked up to a bunch of crap that sounds an alarm or something if they zone out. I'm sorry, but on a boring midwatch, higher brain functions normally drop to zero as the watchteam discusses things like "name all the submarine slang terms that are named after an animal". (Examples: White Rat, Bear Trap, Bull Nuke)

The worst thing is, you just know that NR will buy it for Maneuvering watchstanders if it turns out to work, and then you'd have long detailed procedures about how to hook the machines up. That'd totally be the end of sea stories about guys falling asleep in Maneuvering, like the time I heard about where the EOOW fell asleep, and the CO, XO, and Eng came in and sat at the three panels (with the regular watchstanders kneeling down in front of the EOOW's desk), and then the CO did an RPCP alarm test...

The "Bubbleblogger Brotherhood" Keeps Growing

bothenook found another submarine blogger yesterday, and today I found another one in my comments. Please welcome New Yorker "ex-nuke bubblehead" at Is The Life After Your Boat Gets Scrapped? to the fold. He already has quite a few good stories about his old boat, USS Boston, up in his archives.

Along with Old Gary, who bothenook found last week, welcome to all the newly-found submariners on the 'net! If any of you want to join our team at the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More, just drop me a note.

Hezbollah Propagandists Stealing Submariners Thunder!

Submariners can never get enough of the series of photos of HMAS Torrens getting sunk by a Mk-48 torpedo. Now, it seems that Hezbollah website operators are trying to horn in on our subpr0n. Via Ninme, the Herald Sun blog reports on a posting on an Iranian-run Hezbollah propaganda site showing one of the famous pictures and claiming it was an Israeli warship getting hit by a terrorist missile. The picture is gone from the jihadi site now, but it just goes to show you -- even idiot terrorsts are submarine wannabes.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

What's This Aboot, Eh?

I like our Canadian allies. I really do. Therefore, I link to this story about the difficulties they had during a recent exercise designed to demonstrate their ability to operate in their Arctic regions without comment, and only this brief excerpt:
As part of “Operation Lancaster,” the largest naval operation in the Northwest Passage in a generation, soldiers from the Quebec-based Van Doo regiment were to be deployed from the frigate HMCS Montreal.
They were to set up an observation post on the Borden Peninsula on the south shore of the eastern gate of the passage.
However, getting the soldiers onto a small Zodiac by dangling them from a rope ladder over the side of the ship took hours longer than scheduled.
As well, heavy surf swamped the small boat when it landed on a steep, rocky coastline.
The soldiers were forced to bail out with their helmets and stand waist- and chest-deep in the freezing water to push the craft back out to sea and cut loose ropes that had become entangled in the propeller.
“It was very, very cold,” recalled Capt. Jonathan Hubble.
After climbing up a 20-metre headwall, the soldiers then were forced to set up their post kilometres from where they had planned.
They were moved to the original post by Twin Otter, but the plane’s landing gear got stuck nearly half a metre deep in unexpected mud.
The Twin Otter remains at the observation post and won’t be able to move for weeks until the ground freezes up.
A helicopter finally picked up the soldiers from the peninsula.

Iraq = Gallipoli?

CDR Salamander has a thought-provoking post up discussing grand strategy in the Global War On Terror; I recommend it highly. I recently finished one of the books he mentioned -- Cobra II. While the book tends to focus on what went wrong with Iraq rather than what went right (which, to be honest, is the submariner way of doing things -- anyone who's ever been to a drill debrief can tell you that), I think that it is probably the most accurate of any book I've read in detailing the problems that went into pre-war decision making and planning (based on what I saw when I was a CENTCOM staff weenie). Basically, the idea was good, the people executing the plan did the best they could, but the plan, in hindsight, just didn't work.

This reminds me of another campaign of the last century -- Gallipoli. This campaign gets a bad rap from history, but in actuality it came pretty close to being a great success that could have shortened the war; in addition, an unforeseen benefit was the subsequent liberalization of Turkey under Ataturk. The Gallipoli campaign was born from an Allied desire to look for a better way to break the deadlock on the Western Front that sending men against prepared German positions. Had the invasion been better planned, the Allies could have knocked the Ottoman Empire out of the war fairly easily, freeing up Russian troops to attack the Germans and Austrians, which would have forced the Germans to pull troops out of the Western Front. As it was, the initial invasion wasn't strong enough to destroy the Ottoman resistance, which allowed the Turks time to find a way to fight the Allies on roughly equal terms; for the rest of the campaign, the Allies basically threw brave soldiers into the fray without a real hope of making a strategic difference in the war. Eventually, they realized they needed to pull out and look for another place to fight the war from -- this re-deployment required skill, though, and wouldn't have worked had it been done haphazardly.

Is Iraq the Gallipoli of the GWOT? I don't know. While I'm convinced that we just can't pull out -- or set ourselves up with a "deadline" to withdraw, which will lead to increased attacks against our forces so the terrorists will be able to claim that they "forced" us out -- I'm starting to think that we need to start looking beyond Iraq, and maybe find a better place for our forces to fight the war. CDR Salamander makes a good case about the dangers of the Balkanization of Iraq, but I'm starting to think that might be our best of several bad options. In Gallipoli, the Allied forces lacked the physical ability to overcome their opponents. In Iraq, we as a society lack the moral mindset to allow our troops to do what they need to do to "win" militarily -- I think it's a good thing we're not there yet. We can still win this war without using the tactics of our enemies. A partitioned Iraq won't be the "shining beacon" of democracy we might have hoped for when we went in, but at this point I don't think it turn into that no matter what we do. Sometimes, in a long war, the smart move is to end one unprofitable battle and get ready for the next one.

This doesn't mean that the brave men and women who were lost in that battle gave their lives for nothing; it means that we're doing our best to win the war as a whole, to honor their sacrifice. In WWI, the final victories were won in the easternmost portions of France, where the Allies really hadn't expended much offensive effort after 1914 -- (Verdun was defensive). In the GWOT, the climatic battle may be well be in some other country, or it may be an economic victory, or even us just standing aside and watching our enemies implode. No matter how it happens, though, our inevitable victory will justify the efforts of our dedicated men and women in Iraq. Then, we can hope that some future leader of whatever Iraq becomes will be able to echo the words of Ataturk to veterans from Britain, Australian and New Zealand in 1934, at Gallipoli:
Those heroes that shed their blood
And lost their lives...
You are now lying in the soil of a friendly Country.
Therefore rest in peace.
There is no difference between the Johnnies
And the Mehmets to us where they lie side by side
Here in this country of ours...
You, the mothers,
Who sent their sons front far away countries
Wipe away your tears,
Your sons are now lying in our bosom
And are in peace
After having lost their lives on this land
They have become our sons as well

Monday, August 21, 2006

Submarine Memorials For Every State

The Des Moines Register has a good article today on the successful efforts of submarine veterans in Iowa to get approval for an official monument to USS S-36, one of the 52 U.S. submarines lost during WWII, to be put up on the grounds of the Iowa Capitol. Excerpt:
A state commission has approved a monument featuring a slab of black granite that will remind Iowans of the pivotal role played by the U.S. Navy's submarine force during World War II, as well as the large sacrifice in lives and vessels.
The back of the stone will bear the message that American submarines suffered the highest loss rate among the nation's armed forces during the war: "Of the 16,000 officers and enlisted men that served on submarines during the war, 3,506 (22 percent) were lost. Although only 1.6 percent of the U.S. Navy, the Submarine Force sank 30 percent of the Japanese Imperial Navy and 60 percent of the Japanese Merchant Marine, choking off the Japanese economy. This victory came at a heavy price."...
...The impetus for the project comes from a nationwide effort to have each state establish a memorial for one of the 52 submarines lost during World War II.
The submarine assigned to Iowa was the S-36. While the sub survived an enemy destroyer's attack, its crew had to abandon the vessel after it ran aground on a reef on Jan. 20, 1942.
This nationwide effort for the 52 monuments comes from the U.S. Submarine Veterans of WWII. The list of boats "assigned" to each state (California and New York have two each) can be found here. I'm not sure how many states have gotten as far as Iowa has, but here's a list that seems pretty complete of all submarine memorials listed by state. Check out your state to see what's there.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Vice President Cheney Visit To Boise -- A Success?

Last week, Vice President Cheney made a quick stop in Boise to help the campaign of Bill Sali, the Republican nominee for Congress here in the Idaho 1st Congressional District. Normally, a visit from the Vice President would be a big deal. In this case, though, it appears that more people were inconvenienced by the traffic back-ups caused by the visit than actually got to interact with the Veep.

What interested me the most is that the candidate Mr. Cheney was supporting seems to either have an incompetent staff, or they're trying to hide something. Here's the first paragraph of the press release they put out describing the visit from the Vice President:
We are so grateful for the tremendous support we received for the Vice President's visit yesterday! Approximately 200 to 250 people showed up to welcome Vice President Cheney and show their support for Rep. Sali. We not only added significantly to our war chest, but we had a wonderful time! Thank you to all of you who came to support Bill. I would especially like to thank those of you who purchased photo's and participated in the Roundtable event. Our volunteers were wonderful and I would like to thank them for their hard work and time. We should have pictures on the website in the next few days.
(Emphasis mine.) Now, it would seem to me that when people show up for an event with the Vice President, the Secret Service checks out everyone who's going to be in the room ahead of time. Somebody had to know who was coming to this event -- you don't have someone just show up at the door to get in to see the Vice President. Does the Sali campaign really not know how to keep track of a list that was given to the Secret Service to count how many people were there? Do they honestly expect us to believe that they don't know exactly who was there? Are they trying to counteract the reports that actual attendence was in the 150-200 range, and don't expect people to remember their claim when the actual numbers come out? Maybe this is a team that isn't quite ready to go to Washington. (On the other hand, if they can explain exactly what it is they're talking about that belongs to the photos that people purchased, I'll decide they might be maturing as a potential Congressional staff).

Or, maybe they were just embarrassed that so few people showed up to support their candidate in conservative Idaho even with the VP as a draw. Maybe they're even a little scared. I would be too, with a strong candidate like fiscally conservative, socially moderate Larry Grant running against Mr. Sali.

(For my readers from outside of Idaho -- I think this race is going to be big. If a Democrat can beat a Republican in Idaho, we're possibly looking at a replay of 1994 here, but with the other party winning.)

PCU Texas Commissioning Coming Up

SubSim has an excellent article up on the preparations being made for the upcoming commissioning of PCU Texas (SSN 775). It looks like the Commissioning Committee is putting together quite a show -- it's nice to see a boat getting honored by their namesake. The commissioning ceremony will be in Galveston on Sept. 9th; the boat will arrive on Sept. 4th.

Of the last three boats commissioned immediately prior to the Texas, two of them had really good namesake state support. I was on the commissioning crew of USS Connecticut (SSN 22), and since we were built in the state, it's not surprising that the community went all out to help us have a good party. USS Virginia (SSN 774) went down to Norfolk for her commissioning. And while USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) had great support from President Carter and his family, the effort to establish a commissioning committee in Georgia never really got off the ground, which was too bad. It would have been really easy to do the commissioning in Kings Bay, had there been even a little support from the locals.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Finding WWII Subs Final Resting Places

Earlier this year, the confirmation of the final patrol location of USS Lagarto (SS 371) was big news. This week, we're getting double the excitement.

As I discussed earlier, the family of the last CO of USS Grunion (SS 216) believe they found that sub's resting place on Wednesday; thanks to modern communications, they were able to blog about it right away.

At about the same time, an AP story came out that said that the Russians apparently found USS Wahoo (SS 238) in the La Perouse Strait last month. According to a press release from The Wahoo Project:
The surveys confirm a side scan anomaly, which may possibly be the submarine USS Wahoo. The energy company, aware of the historic and humanitarian operation, selflessly offered its support, which coincided with its own offshore surveys. A sub-sea survey conducted by Russian divers out of Vladivostok, utilizing the Project Group’s information, confirmed the findings as a submarine at the end of July.
This would be a huge find. The CO of the Wahoo, LCDR Dudley "Mush" Morton, is the man who really taught the Submarine Force how to fight. Doing honor to him and his brave crew -- at the place where this amazing sub took her last dive -- will be the best way for the submariners who came after Morton to truly show their thanks to him for showing us the way.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

New Pics Of My "Old" Boat

USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) got her first "de-perm" earlier this week, and the Navy celebrated by releasing three pictures. Here's a chopped-down version of the "artsy" one (the original can be seen here):

They also have a couple of other nice shots, one of the bow and another with a stern view. I remember the Bangor Magnetic Silencing Facility well; that's where I was, on the good ship Topeka, back in 1991 when my youngest child was born.

Steaks On A Plate!

"Get those gosh-darned steaks off this gosh-darned plate!"

I know... I'm easily amused.

Update 0005 17 August: D'oh! I was so proud of myself for coming up with such a clever pun, but then I figured I should check around to see if anyone else had come up with it first. It turns out that there were at least two people as witty as I, but more punctual.

Anyway... Ninme's wondering who's going to go see Snakes On A Plane tomorrow. I'm totally wussing out, because I really don't like movies where scary things jump out at people.

For those who haven't decided if they're going to see it, here's the latest preview:

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Sub-blogger Makes Good

Active duty submarine-blogger Rob is going to be one of the rotating columnists for the "Back Talk" opinion column for Navy Times. Head on over and give him crap for joining the "Mainstream Media"! I can just see his first column now: "Why Sub-bloggers rule, and skimmer bloggers schedule department training at 1930 their first night in a liberty port".

VP Visits Boise

Vice President Cheney visited Boise today for a fund-raiser for embattled GOP Congressional candidate Bill Sali. Earlier today, the formation of a "Republicans for Grant" group was announced to support Sali's moderate opponent, Larry Grant, showing why the national Republicans are having to spend so much time and effort trying to protect the heretofore "safe" Idaho 1st Congressional District. More later...

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Just An Ordinary Watch

Trickish Knave posted a year-old diary entry on Monday from his last WestPac. Make sure you're not drinking anything you don't want coming out your nose when you read the 5th paragraph on the subject of the watchteam conversation.

Update 0051 16 Aug: And in case you haven't read it already, bothenook put up a great post last week with a couple of "leadership" stories that you really should check out. Non-submariners will learn how their grease-buying tax dollars were used back in the day.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Search For The USS Grunion

Via NavSource, I stumbled across a great story -- the children of the last CO of USS Grunion (SS 216) are looking for the eternal patrol location of their father's ship, lost off of Kiska Island in July 1942.

For quite some time, the manner of Grunion's loss had been a mystery. Then, several years ago, a Japanese military buff uncovered and translated some documents that provided a clue to what happened during Grunion's last action. Armed with this new information, LCDR Abele's sons arranged to get the services of a vessel equipped with side-scan sonar to look for the sunken sub northeast of Kiska. They're up there right now; you can check out their progress on their blog.

I wish them all the best.

Update 1747 16 August: They're reporting today that they might have found something...
On our 1000 and 500 meter swaths on our first possible target, X nm north of McArthur Reef, we found a submarine shaped hard target about 320 feet long and 12 meters [39 ft] wide. [the Grunion was 312 ft long with beam of 27 ft] On a low altitude pass the shadow reveals a possible conning tower and periscope. Target is sitting upright on the bottom at the base of the slope in [over 2000 ft] water depth. Considering all the information we have, this is almost certainly the Grunion.
They have pictures, too.

Let's Talk About NAUs

Whenever I want to talk about something where I can't remember if the concept is classified, I Google the term and see what comes up. If it shows up, in context, on a couple of .mil sites, I figure I'm good to go, at least as far as generalities are concerned. Sometimes, though, I hit a grey area.

One of those areas has been NAUs. When I typed in what the term stood for, I only got one .mil hit, and it didn't really say anthing about it. As a result, I've been unable to discuss the concept during threads with skimmers that really could have used it.

That's why I'm happy to have read CDR Scott Waddle's autobiography, "The Right Thing". You may remember that CDR Waddle was the CO on USS Greeneville (SSN 772) when she collided with the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru. Long-time readers may note that I've never been that supportive of CDR Waddle. Today, though, I'm happy that he wrote his book, which was vetted by the Navy for any classified material. Here's what he says on p. 86 of the hardcover version, discussing his boat's participation in an October 1999 exercise:
The exercises were part of the Stennis group's preparations for deployment, so the Greeneville carried a special "noise augmentation unit" to simulate the noises typically created by enemy diesel submarines plying the Arabian Gulf".
There are the words -- a "Noise Augmentation Unit". On can infer from that statement that submarines apparently carry them for exercises, and they make more noise than the submarines do. So, whenever some skimmer says something like "we always kick the submarine's butt in exercises" here's the reason -- our submarines are putting out a lot more noise than we normally do -- it's the only way exercises would have any training value for the ASW forces. If we didn't, the only contact you'd get is a green flare. (By the way, CDR Waddle was correct in saying the Greeneville "carried" the NAU, because it actually wasn't operating. I was on the Stennis as the Battle Group Sub Ops guy, and we kept telling him that his NAU wasn't working, but Waddle wouldn't believe it. We eventually just stopped playing with the Greeneville, because it was a waste of time.)

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Idaho Politics Update

As we're now a little less than three months from the election, I thought I'd compose my thoughts on what we'll be seeing here in Idaho as November draws closer. We've got two real races of potential national interest that have open seats: the race for Governor, and the 1st Congressional District. While Idaho really hasn't been in play for the Democrats since 1994, I think it might change this year. (Disclaimer: I posted a while back about how I was planning on voting for Democrats this year, and nothing's really changed, except that as I learn more about the candidates, I'm realizing that I'm voting for the Democrats as much as, or even more, than voting against the Republicans.)

In the Governor's race, we've got a respected newspaperman, Jerry Brady, representing the Democrats; he ran for the same office in 2002, losing to the incumbent Governor 56-42%. This time, he's coming into the race with better name recognition, and his opponent doesn't seem nearly as formidable. The Republicans nominated current 1st District Congressman "Butch" Otter (or, who as his official House website is currently calling him, "Rep. C. L. "Butch" Otter"), who seems to have something of a tin ear politically, as well as not exactly reflecting the type of "family values" that Republicans are used to. (Kind of off-topic, but I'm curious: Otter's previous 28 year marriage was "annulled" by the Catholic Church -- what's the status of his kids from that marriage? Is it as if the marriage never happened?) I think this election will be closer than many people think; if the Republicans were to lose the Idaho Governor's mansion, I'm thinking that would maybe be the kind of "wake-up call" the national party needs. (Note: I tried to link to Otter's campaign website, but I'm getting a "Server Not Found" when I link to the address I found on the State GOP Candidates page.)

I've blogged about the Congressional race before, and the last three months have seemingly been about fund-raising for the candidates, so there's not much new news. One interesting development, though, has been that it appears that the national Republican leadership is starting to worry about the race. The big-name Republicans only have a certain number of days to travel around and support candidates; that's why it interests me that the GOP has seen fit to send both Vice President Cheney and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert out here to raise funds for the Republican candidate, Bill Sali; they've also made him one of the ten candidates to benefit from a special D.C. fundraiser -- if they weren't worried, there are better places they could be spending the money.

While Democratic candidate Larry Grant has been getting pretty good press, it's been a bit tougher for Mr. Sali and his supporters, and it could get worse. The big event in Idaho this month will be a special legislative session to consider a property tax reform bill that a lot of people don't like. There's more on why it's a bad bill here, but I'm going to be interested to see how Mr. Sali, who's still a State Representative, is going to vote on it. See, the plan includes a 1% increase in the sales tax. Up to now, no matter how many Republicans call Sali an "absolute idiot" or other bad things, no one has questioned his integrity -- he generally stands for what he believes, and doesn't allow politicial expediency to get in his way. That's why I was surprised to see him listed as "undecided" about the bill in an article from today's Idaho Statesman. On his campaign web site, he makes a big deal about never supporting a tax increase. Here's what he said (in case it goes down the memory hole):
In the Legislature, I made a pledge that I would never vote for a tax increase. I am proud to say that I have kept that promise for my entire career. Not only did I vote against the recent 1-cent increase in sales tax that the Legislature imposed on Idaho taxpayers, I led the fight against it!
In my mind, he's moved a long way from "led the fight against it" to "undecided". My guess is that he'll eventually vote "no", but if he doesn't, it might be hard for him to avoid being labelled as a flip-flopper and pledge breaker... and that's the one thing he had going for him.

More as the election gets closer.

Update 0759 15 August: Adam responds to my post, and we talk a little bit in his comments. Adam points out that Mr. Sali voting "yes" on the upcoming bill might not break the letter of his pledge, but the reasoning has a little bit of a "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is" vibe to it -- and we know that Mr. Sali would like to avoid sounding like that. That's why I think he'll vote "no".

Bubblehead (Finally) Answers The Mail

Thanks to everyone who wrote in requesting the lyrics to The Submarine Song; I think I finally responded to everyone who wrote. If I didn't get back to you, please let me know.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

"Next Week... On NCIS"

More information continues to come out on the spying submariner case; today's Virginian-Pilot has a summary of what they learned about the capture and NCIS interrogation of Ariel Weinmann from listening to the tapes of the Article 32 hearing:
Before the plane's arrival, customs had run passengers' names through a database listing outstanding arrest warrants. Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent Allen Brock knew only that the Navy wanted to arrest the 21-year-old petty officer third class on a charge of deserting the submarine Albuquerque last July.
What he found in Weinmann's backpack and pockets led to three charges of espionage against the sailor. The Navy disclosed some of those details for the first time Friday. Weinmann was carrying $4,000 cash, three CD-ROMs, an external computer storage device and a number of memory cards for storing digital images, according to testimony from his preliminary hearing.
Brock testified that he also found Weinmann carrying a piece of paper with the names, Social Security numbers and birth dates of two individuals, as well as a notebook whose handwritten contents aroused his suspicion.
Brock alerted a supervisor, who popped one of the CDs from Weinmann's backpack into a computer. What the customs agents saw is now classified by the government - as is much of the other evidence against the fire control technician.
The rest of the article talks about how the NCIS spent nine days questioning Weinmann. You can expect the hit TV show NCIS to borrow heavily on the concept for an episode this upcoming season. The Richmond Times-Dispatch story on the same subject has more on the information:
On the first day of questioning, he said, Weinmann delivered what appeared to be a rehearsed account meant to justify his actions and possession of secret material.
"He was telling a story about thinking about writing a book," Burke said. "I wasn't believing it."
Burke had Weinmann compose a written statement swearing to that account, he said, but by the end of that first day the story began to change. And as Weinmann continued to change his story, the interrogation stretched out.
I really liked the money quote at the end of that article:
"He seemed to be very confident in himself and feel that he was a very intelligent person," Burke said.
I'm wondering how intelligent he thinks he was to fly back into the U.S. under his own name when he was a deserter. I'm sure he'll have lots of time in Leavenworth to think about how intelligent he is (assuming, of course, he's guilty).

Friday, August 11, 2006

I Like Repeating Numbers... And Confusing Letters

I just wanted to thank the person who stopped from the Tulsa, Oklahoma, area this morning, who was visitor number 222,222 to The Stupid Shall Be Punished.

While I'm on, I'll pass on a Letter to the Editor from The Idaho Statesman this morning (last letter here) that, to be honest, has me wondering. It could be that it's too early in the morning for me to think clearly, but I can't tell if this letter was written tongue-in-cheek, or if it's the dumbest conspiracy theory ever. Help me decide:
Has anyone asked why Kempthorne chose the falcon design for our state quarter? Over the course of time a few curious and "unrelated" events have occurred.
1. President Bush visits Idaho for the first time.
2. President Bush nominates Kempthorne as his choice for the position of the secretary of the interior.
3. Our state quarter is chosen by Kempthorne and later revealed to be a falcon.
Funny how these "unrelated" events seem to suddenly form an interesting conclusion: Kempthorne is building a political career with aspirations for higher office. Running on a platform of species preservation, land management, a solid history of fostering economic growth and promoting conservative social values, Kempthorne now is in a position to network in Washington and make a potential run for the Republican nomination for president.
Kempthorne's choice for our state quarter represents a selfish, politically motivated and undemocratic act that deserves every bit of our condemnation. The governor should have asked newspapers around the state to show the various designs so we Idahoans could contact our government to choose the design we wanted for our state quarter. Shame on you, Kempthorne.
You can see why I'm confused -- it's almost as if it's three separate letters. I'll read it again when I get home from work and see if I can decide which type of letter it is.

Update 0150 14 August: I've read it again, and decided that it's not a case of subtle sarcasm; it's just a bad conspiracy theory.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

More "Israeli Subs In Indian Ocean" Idiocy

Once again, we see people with no perception of maritime distances spouting off a bunch of ridiculous crap. In this case, it's World Net Daily, which yesterday posted a long "analysis" of how Israel is going to get their three Dolphin-class submarines to the Iranian coast -- if fact, it says that they "usually patrol" in the Indian Ocean. While this article at least recognizes that they won't get able to transit the Suez Canal, the article claims that the Israeli subs will be able to refuel in Eritrea, which is just across the Red Sea from Saudi Arabia. (As everyone knows, the HOA is a hotbed of pro-Israel sentiment.) {/sarcasm}

Diesel subs have a range of about 12,ooo miles -- one way. (The Dolphins have an advertised range of 8,000nm at 8 knots, but the article says that the Israeli's are having the fuel tanks "enlarged" -- as if there's just plenty of room on a diesel boat to add a lot of additional fuel capacity.) It's about 12,000 miles from Israel to Iran when circumnavigating Africa. Even assuming the Israel thinks they can refuel in Eritrea, they'd be idiots to send a sub there -- if permission to refuel gets denied, and they're stuck sailing up to Eilat with their tails between their legs -- and with the port of Eilat visible from Jordan, they'd kind of lose any element of surprise. Plus, with a diesel boat doing about 12 kts sustained, it would take 40 days to get to Iran, and another 40 days to get back -- not very efficient when you have only three boats, which would probably have a 45 day max on-station time. (At 8 knots, it's 120 days total transit time.)

Bottom line -- no matter how many idiots you see writing that Israeli subs are getting ready to take out the Iranian nuclear facilities, you can bet the farm that they're blowing smoke out their ass.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

A More Representative Submariner

While the news is full of reporting (and guessing) about an allegedly secret-selling submariner, it's important to remember that he's an outlier -- way more than three standard deviations from the mean. A more representative example of a submariner can be found over at Navy NewsStand -- CS2(SS) Matthew Julian of the USS San Francisco (SSN 711), currently serving as an IA with the Afghanistan Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) Sharana. Here's his story:
As a culinary specialist assigned to the submarine USS San Francisco, Julian didn’t expect the tour to include a rotation in the mountains of Afghanistan as an Individual Augmentee, pulled from his normal job to directly support Operation Enduring Freedom.
But despite being an IA deployed more than eight thousand feet above sea level and half a world away from his boat’s homeport of Bremerton Wash., Julian found that out of sight doesn’t mean out of mind.
Julian was selected for the Command Advancement Program by Cdr. Dave Ogburn, the Commanding Officer of USS San Francisco, and on June 15 was promoted to Culinary Specialist Second-Class.
Learning of his CAP advancement, Julian said, “It is such an honor to be the only submariner CAP-ed in Afghanistan and recognized at such a high level. I am ecstatic about the promotion to Petty Officer Second Class and am grateful for the crew of the USS San Francisco.”
“When we sat down and reviewed his performance onboard, we saw that he was the right choice,” said Ogburn. “He is a Sailor who takes responsibility and takes charge. When I talked with Cdr. Varney in Afghanistan, that confirmed his performance is continuing out there.”
Cdr. Michael Varney, the commanding officer of the Sharana Provincial Reconstruction Team in the Paktika Province of Afghanistan, performed the ceremony and pinned on Julian’s second-class petty-officer crows.
The story has some pictures, too. Here's hoping Petty Officer Julian and all his desert shipmates get home safely.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

More On The AWOL Submariner

The story of the submariner who deserted USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) last year, and has been held in the Norfolk brig since March, is getting curiouser. The Navy released some of the charge sheets today, and they tell a story of... well, stupidity:
The Navy's charges depict Petty Officer 3rd Class Ariel J. Weinmann as a sailor who stole a Navy laptop computer, deserted his ship for more than eight months and traveled the globe, both attempting to give and actually delivering classified defense information to an undisclosed foreign government...
...Arguably the most serious charges are three counts of espionage in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. The first count alleges that in March 2005, in or near Manama, Bahrain, Weinmann did "attempt to communicate, deliver or transmit" classified information relating to national defense to "a representative, officer, agent or employee of a foreign government."
The two subsequent charges allege that months later - after purportedly deserting his Connecticut-based submarine - Weinmann did "communicate, deliver or transmit" information classified as confidential and secret to a representative of a foreign government.
According to the charges, those events occurred in Vienna, Austria, around Oct. 19, 2005, and around March 19, near Mexico City, Mexico. Weinmann was picked up at the Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport days after the incident in Mexico, according to the charges.
Let's face it; the odds that a young kid could successfully travel around the world trying to peddle secrets without running afoul of an American counterintelligence agent are fairly low (as shown by his capture); it'll be interesting to see if he actually delivered whatever secrets he had (since he's an FT, the immediate assumption is some sort of TLAM targeting data) to a foreign agent, or if all of his meetings were with Americans pretending to be foreigners.

So who was the foreign government to which he was trying to sell the stuff? A Saudi paper thinks they know -- you only get one guess who they think it is:
According to the navy, Weinmann was apprehended on March 26 "after it was learned that he had been listed as a deserter by his command." Though initial information released by the navy makes no mention of it, Al-Watan reported that he was returning from an undisclosed "foreign country." American sources close to the Defense Department told Al-Watan that Israel was the country in question.
I suppose it could be Israel, but I doubt it, especially since the Navy is saying he returned from Mexico City when he was arrested -- no doubt the Saudi paper is basing their information on the Sailor's name. Ancestry.com says this about the surname "Weinmann": German and Jewish (Ashkenazic): occupational name for a viticulturalist or wine merchant, Middle High German wīnman, German Weinmann. When he gets to Leavenworth, though, he might as well be named "Pillowbiter" -- traitors don't do very well there, I've heard. So he has that to look forward to as he's thinking about how his money-making plan didn't quite work out like he expected.

Staying at PD...

Update 0627 09 Aug: Now a Virginia TV station is sayinging that Russia is the "country of interest":
According to the charges against him... While still stationed on board the sub... Weinmann tried to sell secret information to a foreign country in Bahrain. That was in march of 2005.
Two months later, investigators say he started copying confidential and secret information on board, possibly putting it on a navy laptop. This happened for two months. Then he and the computer allegedly disappeared.
A month later, investigators say he showed up in Vienna, Austria, giving the information to a person "not entitled" to have it. He was back there again on October 19th, when according to the charges, he did give the information to a foreign government.
His travels apparently continued the following year. In March he allegedly headed to Mexico City, where again the information was given to a foreign government. The navy says in the same month he traveled back to Vienna and destroyed the navy computer. He was arrested at the airport in Dallas, and brought here to the brig at Naval Station Norfolk, where a source says he is talking to investigators, and trying to avoid a potential life sentence.
Navy officials say Weinmann visited Bahrain, Austria and Mexico, but they aren't saying if he was dealing with those governments.
But a source tells us, one of the countries involved is Russia.
This is the first time I've heard that he started trying to sell secrets while still on the boat. The reported timeline would match up with when the Albuquerque was on deployment to the Gulf in early 2005 with the Truman Strike Group. He should have just hung out at the Alcohol Support Unit like everyone else...

Update 1752 09 Aug: Weinmann's father speaks out; not surprisingly, he doesn't know how his darling little boy could have done such a thing:
The father of a Navy petty officer being held in Norfolk on espionage charges said today that his son, Ariel J. Weinmann, deserted the service last summer and lived for months in Vienna, Austria, after becoming disillusioned with the work his submarine was performing.
Austria is one of three places the Navy has said Weinmann tried to or successfully transmitted classified information “to a representative, officer, agent or employee of a foreign government.” He’s also accused of providing information to a foreign government while in Manama, Bahrain, and Mexico City...
...“Don’t get me wrong, this thing is extremely serious. The very best we could wish for is about two years in prison and dishonorable discharge,” Weinmann said. “This whole thing is devastating. It’s beyond comprehension.”
Weinmann said he is worried that his son is “a pawn.” Weinmann said he urged his son through e-mails and international telephone calls to turn himself in after he went missing from the Albuquerque, a Connecticut-based nuclear submarine. But he doubts that Ariel was trying to sell classified information that would damage the U.S.
“It’s entirely possible that somebody got to him and manipulated him, but he was raised with a high sense of morals,” Weinmann said.
“If he changed his attitude, his allegiance, and I’m not saying he did, then somebody got to him, and who got to him? He’s on a dang submarine with 115 people, and he’s on military bases. He couldn’t have that much information. I can’t believe that the Navy is going to give a kid that age - that hasn’t had any experience, any track record - any really, really serious information.”
See, Dad, that's what sets submarines apart from other parts of the Armed Forces; we do give young kids "really serious information" -- and hold them responsible when they don't take care of it (or try to sell it). The father has a point that the kid hasn't been convicted yet; still, what evidence we're seeing is fairly persuasive. The dad should maybe wonder how the kid came up with the money to live in Vienna for several month if he wasn't selling secrets.

Update 2034 09 August: Time.com has a photo of Ariel Weinmann (added to the top of this post), plus some more comments from his father:
Robert Weinmann says he and his wife were startled when Ariel told them in October 2002 that he planned to join the Navy in July after he graduated from high school. Interested in art, classical music and history, Ariel "was very idealistic and spent a lot of time daydreaming about the great things he would do with his life," Weinmann says. After hearing the pitch from a recruiter that he could see the world if he joined the sea service, "Ariel was very focused and excited about the Navy," his father adds.
Ariel Weinmann was trained as a submarine fire control technician, whose job is to help track targets in the vessel's command center, and was then sent to the USS Albuquerque, based in Groton. The nuclear-powered Albuquerque is one of the Navy's fast-attack submarines, armed with torpedoes and cruise missiles. The sub can also creep close to shore to infiltrate special operations commandos or intercept electronic communications on land.
Robert Weinmann says his son did well in submarine training, but after a six-month tour aboard the Albuquerque in waters off Europe and the Middle East "he just got disillusioned" with the Navy and the Bush Administration's foreign policy. Weinmann says his son complained that the submarine's technology was old. (While commissioned in 1983, the Albuquerque is still considered by the Navy to be the most advanced vessel of its kind in the world.) Weinmann says his son also told him he became troubled by the submarine's collecting intelligence on U.S. allies, although he says Ariel never gave specifics.
I'm not sure who in the Navy is saying that the Albuquerque is the "most advanced vessel of its kind in the world", unless "its kind" includes only ships named Albuquerque. Don't get me wrong; there's nothing wrong with the boat, it's just that it's not any better or worse than the other re-fueled 688s. The dad's mention that his son became "disillusioned with Bush Administration's foreign policy" part is almost certain to turn him into a hero of the moonbats, though.

Staying at PD...

Monday, August 07, 2006

North Korea Claims Capture Of U.S. "Submersible"

FOXNews is reporting a strange story from across the Pacific. It seems that our funny friends in North Korea are claiming that an "ultra-small unmanned submersible vessel was captured during a reconnaissance mission in waters off North Korea's eastern city of Hamhung". From the article:
The newspaper report on its Web site, monitored in Seoul, was accompanied by a picture purported to be of the black torpedo-shaped U.S. vessel. There were no further details as to when or how North Korea obtained it.
Last September, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il instructed officials to put the new spy vessel on public display along with the ship Pueblo that the communist regime captured in 1968, the newspaper said.
A spokesman for the U.S. military in South Korea, David Oten, dismissed the report."We have nothing unaccounted for and there is no way for us to verify that this is a U.S. vessel," Oten said.
As near as I can tell (my computer doesn't have the right language installed) this is the web site they're talking about. There's a picture of a "black, torpedo-shaped" object about 3/4 of the way down the page, which is what I assume is what the North Koreans are claiming is the "unmanned submersible vessel" in question:

I know -- weak. I got you all excited for nothing. Hopefully someone will read this who can translate the story in question (maybe Skippy-san?), and we'll find out how what appears to be an exercise torp could be considered an "spy vehicle". If the article turns out not to have an explanation, hopefully it will at least mention "Juche" or "the glorious Army First policy" so we'll be able to get bigger chuckle.

Bell-ringer 1942 07 Aug: At the suggestion of a commenter, I went to Babelfish, and it spit out this translation for the portion of the article of interest, which it said was titled "The spy boat which is exhibited newly":
minimum elder brother underwater unmanned price tag submergence of the U.S. army which from the Hamgyong-Namdo Hamhung southern part offing is arrested while reconnaissance missions accomplishing really it is a. In anti-US joint combative monthly publication of this year phwu blow favor it was exhibited at the time of rightly before and it was Doe. 2005 September Kim Jong Il general to see the unmanned price tag submergence affection which is arrested and to the people widely this in order to open to the public, and, it does.
It looks like I might still need some translation help, but since it looks like it's in Korean, vice Japanese, Skippy-san might not be much help.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

INS Hanit Back Out To Sea

The Jerusalem Post is reporting that the INS Hanit, hit by a C-802 missile off the coast of Lebanon last month, is back out to sea. While the article says that the ship "reassumed its combat role in Lebanon" I think it's more likely that they went out for post-repair sea trials. Still, it's gotta be disappointing for Hezbollah (and the Iranians) that their supposed "wonder weapon" couldn't even knock a frigate out for more than a few weeks.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

A Really Strange Story

The story in the Virginian Pilot (reprinted over at Military.com) about the submarine Sailor from USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) who was caught as a deserter in March and has been held "secretly" since then in the Norfolk brig just does not make sense. Here's an excerpt:
A petty officer has been in the Norfolk Naval Station brig for more than four months facing espionage, desertion and other charges, but the Navy has refused to release details of the case. The case against Fire Control Technician 3rd Class Ariel J. Weinmann is indicative of the secrecy surrounding the Navy military court here, where public affairs and trial court officials have denied access to basic information including the court docket -- a listing of cases to be heard...
...The command's e-mail to The Pilot this week said that Weinmann was arrested at Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport on March 26 after he had been listed as a deserter. Fleet Forces officials refused to release the so-called charge sheet, which would detail the accusations against the Sailor.
Weinmann had been serving aboard the submarine Albuquerque until he deserted in July 2005, according to Brown. Weinmann enlisted in July 2003, he said.
Now, this could just be a story about how the press is unable to get the dockets from the Virginia military courts released, and they're just using this case as an example. (The majority of the article is about why the military court papers should be made available, and has a really inventive excuse from the Navy about why they haven't provided them.)

While they say the Sailor is accused of "espionage", they later admit that the charge sheet hasn't been made available. Still, it's weird to have a run-of-the-mill deserter in the brig for 4 months awaiting trial. The Albuquerque seems to be out right now with the Iwo Jima ESG, but we haven't seen the normal "here's the sub visiting the fun port" stories about them, so maybe they're having a productive deployment. I really hope the kid wasn't planning on going somewhere to talk to someone about what the boat was planning on doing -- since he deserted over a year ago, though, that's fairly unlikely.

Staying at PD...

Navy Promotion News

Word on the street is that the Chief results are out, and all the eligibles are being notified -- the official message still isn't posted on the NPC website, though. I hope all you sub guys out there hear what you wanted to hear!

Also today, the Line LCDR list came out -- you can find it here and here. Congratulations to all the selectees.

Bell-ringer 1245 05 Aug: It looks like the results are posted at a somewhat unofficial site (Navy Times). Thanks to MT1(SS) for pointing it out, and congratulations to all the selectees. For the non-selectees, remember that it's not that you're not good enough, it just wasn't your time yet -- that will still come. (Or, you could go LDO and all the new Chiefs will have to salute you.)

Update 2344 08 Aug: Here's the official select message.

Friday, August 04, 2006

USS Nevada Vs. Tugboat

A submarine news source I've come to trust, the Kitsap Sun, is reporting (registration required for main article, but not for this blog entry) that USS Nevada (SSBN 733) may have "snagged and severed the tow cable of a tug boat while submerged in the Strait of Juan de Fuca late Tuesday or early Wednesday". No injuries were reported, but the Nevada, which apparently returned to port yesterday, reportedly suffered some damage to the "fiberglass portions" of the sail. From the article:
The Nevada’s Gold crew, led by Cmdr. Stan Robertson, was on board at the time of the accident. Each Trident has two crews of about 150 sailors and officers.
The tug, with a six-member crew based in La Conner, was towing two barges loaded with empty containers from Honolulu to Seattle, said Cmdr. Chris Woodley of Coast Guard District 13.
When the sub snapped the line to one of the barges, it drifted away from the tug, said Coast Guard Chief Petty Officer Paul Roszkowski. Another tug later retrieved the barge.
Tow lines, especially the length of the 500-foot lines on the Phyllis Dunlap, commonly dip below the surface of the water, Roszkowski said.
Staying at PD...

Update 2345 08 Aug: From the Military Life blog, here's some more on the accident.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

MCPON On The Boise

Being Idaho's "first and foremost submarine blogger", I feel a special responsibility to post anything I find about the Idaho capital's namesake submarine, USS Boise (SSN 764). So, here's a picture the Navy NewsStand put out today of the new MCPON, Joe Campa, Jr., on the Boise during his first visit to a submarine since taking his new job:

It's a good shot of a 688 Crew's Mess for those who haven't seen one in a while.

Update 0011 05 August: Here's a picture of the MCPON meeting the boat's Chief Quarters in the Wardroom. I guess there wasn't enough room for a photo op in the Goat Locker.

48 Years Ago Today

Nautilus -- 90 North. The day the nuclear submarine truly proved what it could do. (And still one of only two events for which the crew got to wear a distinguishing device on their Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.)

Molten Eagle had more about this historic achievement last year. Since Molten Eagle asked trivia questions, I guess I can too: What is the other "device" (other than oak leaf clusters and bronze stars for repeat awards) that has been authorized for wear on PUC ribbons? Answers in the comments, please.

Update 0014 03 August: Damn, that was quick. Here's the reference for the answer to the trivia question -- see para AP2.1.2.1.3.2. (For those who want to guess themselves, don't read the comments first.)

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

"But My Recruiter Told Me..."

Here's an article about the dangers of believing your recruiter. Excerpt:
She said she has been separated from her husband, Fort Bragg Pfc. Jeremy Domon, for so long that the stress and frustration of not seeing each other has begun to strain their marriage and her psyche. The Domons are 20 years old. Besides, she said, Army and Navy recruiters lied to them when they decided in 2004 to escape Sacramento for the adventures offered by the military. Melissa enlisted in the Navy; Jeremy in the Army.
Melissa Domon said the recruiters promised that they would be stationed as close together as possible. Co-location, they call it. The Domons weren’t even married then, just high school sweethearts in love. After enlistment, Melissa Domon said, the two attended separate training schools in Virginia and were able to see each other every other weekend.
At one point, they took a month’s leave. During another leave, in April 2005, they got married and spent a short honeymoon in a Sacramento hotel before the military separated them again.
Less than a week after their marriage, Jeremy Domon said, he was headed for Korea and she was heading out in the Pacific Ocean and the Red Sea. For five months, they communicated only by e-mail. They didn’t see each other again for a year after he returned from Korea in April. “It’s frustrating,” Jeremy Domon said. “I love my wife. I love her to death.”
But he is now stationed with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, and she is supposed to be on a ship in San Diego. Melissa Domon said the couple applied for co-location as soon as they became husband and wife. At first, she said, the military told her that she had to be on a ship for a year and married for a year before she could be eligible for co-location. Then she was told that it would be impossible to grant co-location to a sailor and a soldier.When that avenue failed, Melissa Domon said, she applied for a transfer and was again refused.
She said she tried yet a different route — a hardship discharge. She gathered letters of support from her husband, her parents and her chaplain. Three times, she said, she turned in her application for a hardship discharge to Navy brass. Three times, she said, she was refused. After about a year of failed attempts, Melissa Domon said, she decided to go AWOL. She said she arrived in Fayetteville last Saturday, called her superiors and told them she would be back before her ship sailed Aug. 7. They told her she would face restriction.
Part of me just kind of sadly chuckles over the poor innocent kids in love who don't understand how the world really works; another part of me, though, wonders if the Army is going to charge the husband with conspiracy in connection with his wife's UA. Of course, she does have one option for getting out of the Navy pretty quickly. (It's not quite the "phrase that pays", but it still seemed to work pretty well the last time I saw it in action.)