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, December 31, 2006

Going To The Bowl Game

Everyone with a Y chromosome in the Bubblehead family is off to watch the world-famous MPC Computers Bowl here in Boise tonight. Because my sons appreciate absurdity as much as I do, we're going dressed as Nebraska fans to a game between Nevada and Miami, Fla.

While 26,000 tickets have been sold to the game (the stadium holds just over 30K) I'm not sure how many people will actually be there -- I think most of the tickets were sold to Boise St. season ticket holders as part of their initial ticket purchase, before BSU went undefeated and got a bid to the Fiesta Bowl. If there aren't many people there, we probably have a good shot at getting on TV. Look for the idiots holding up the Nebraska flag.

Update 1428 01 Jan 07: The game was a lot of fun; the stadium was about 3/4 full, and we were 16 rows up from the field, so we weren't able to attract any TV attention I could see. As for the game itself, it proved once again that you should never go for 2 before the 4th quarter; Nevada scored early in the 2nd quarter to go up 8-7 (they scored on a safety earlier) and missed the two-point conversion try that would have put them up by 3. They ended up losing 21-20 -- that extra point would have been very useful at the end.

As far as today's Nebraska-Auburn game, it was the 2nd game in a row the "Wet Toast" offense that Nebraska Athletic Director Satan forced on the 'Huskers failed to score in the 2nd half. The good thing is that we're heading in the right direction; in our loss to Oklahoma in our last game, we passed 50 times and scored 7 points. Today, we passed 26 times and scored 14 points. I see a trend here -- maybe if we'd passed 13 times we'd have scored 28 points; 6 passes = 56 points. (The math kind of breaks down after that.) Still, I bet we didn't pass anywhere near 26 times the last time we played Auburn (a 41-7 win in 1982). Satan sucks.

Update 2308 01 Jan: Well, the BSU-Oklahoma game was exciting, to say the least. After OU tied the score at 28 with a 2-point conversion with about 1 1/2 minutes left, and then took the lead on an interception return for a TD with just over a minute left, I figured that BSU had suffered a hard-fought loss. But then a hook-and-ladder on 4th and 18 in the closing seconds tied it, and a 2 point conversion on a Statue of Liberty play (after a 4th down halfback pass for a TD) won the game for Boise St. 43-42. Of course, since I've spent the last month explaining to all the BSU fans I know how Boise St. didn't stand a chance to win, I expect much (well deserved) abuse at work tomorrow.

Fallen MSP Sailors Named

According to the BBC, the Navy has released the names of the two Submariners who were tragically lost off the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul on Friday:
The dead men were named as Senior Chief Thomas Higgins, 45, of Paducah, Kentucky, and Petty Officer 2nd Class Michael Holtz, 30, of Lakewood, Ohio.
The US Navy said in a statement on Sunday that the cause of the accident remained under investigation.
Sailors, Rest Your Oars...

Update 0650 31 Dec: According to the CSG-2 web page, ETCS(SS) Thomas Higgins was the MSP's Chief of the Boat. This makes the incident even more tragic -- now the crew will have to cope with the sense of loss they feel without a man who I'm sure was a mentor to all.

Update 0818 31 Dec: Here's the Navy NewsStand article, confirming what the BBC story said.

Update 1421 01 Jan 07: Here's a story from the Norfolk paper that gives some personal background on the two fallen Submariners, including the information that Petty Officer Holtz was a Sonar Tech. (Unfortunately, you'll have to work your way around the portions of the story that demonstrate the reporter's unfamiliarity with the military -- I'm assuming their regular military reporter is on vacation.)

Friday, December 29, 2006

Sometimes We Forget How Dangerous Submarining Really Is

Sixth Fleet HQ has announced the death of two submariners from the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708), who were washed overboard with two other shipmates during a port egress today from Plymouth, England. From a CNN article on the accident:
Authorities received a request for help just before 1 p.m. near the large concrete breakwater barrier that protects Plymouth harbor. The British coast guard dispatched a search and rescue helicopter and a lifeboat to the scene, but police had already plucked the sailors from the water.
Sean Brooks, a coast guard officer, said that rescuers initially only saw two sailors tied to the vessel's hull with ropes.
"Because of the violent weather, they were frequently plunged below the waves," he said. "It then transpired that there were already two other guys in the water."...
...Servello, the Navy spokesman, said the submarine had just completed a weeklong layover in Plymouth and was heading out to sea for routine duties.
Winds gusts reached 47 mph and there were light rains, Britain's Meteorological Office said.
Provan, the police spokesman, said the submarine continued on its journey, but would be returning to Plymouth harbor on Saturday, once the weather and tides become more favorable.
Minneapolis-St. Paul is currently about midway through a routine deployment; she left at the beginning of October, nominally as part of the Eisenhower CSG:

Working topside in rough weather is one of the most dangerous things submariners do, and one of the things we practice least frequently. From the sounds of it, all Sailors involved were wearing their safety harnesses; from the early reports, it sounds like they may have been rigging topside for dive (as PigBoatSailor suggests over at Ultraquiet No More). I've seen cases before where, in order to more easily reach cleats and vent covers a good distance from the safety harness track on the towed array fairing, Sailors working topside have disconnected from their deck traveller and hooked onto a buddy who was attached to the safety track. (I have no idea if that was the case this time.) Right now, our thoughts are with the families and shipmates of the fallen Sailors.

The Sub Report has many more stories on this tragedy, including this report from a Norfolk-area newspaper.

Staying at PD...

Update 0640 31 Dec: The names of the Sailors who gave their lives have been released.

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Mk 48 Torpedo Pr0n

We've all seen the photos of HMAS Torrens (DE 53) being "blowed up" by a Mk 48 torpedo fired by HMAS Farncomb (SSG 74), but have you ever seen the video of the shot? I hadn't ever remembered finding it before in the public domain, but I have now; here it is:

Totally sweet...

Wednesday, December 27, 2006


Item: The earthquake off Taiwan damaged several submarine telecommunications cables, severely disrupting Internet service for much of Asia.

Item: When I checked my G-mail account tonight, I had about 2/3 less spam than I normally get while I'm at work.


Submarine 2006 Year In Review Photos

Eric from The Sub Report put together a great video presentation of the "Year in Pictures" for the Submarine Force. It's posted over at our group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More. I'll still be here when you get back.

Update 2202 27 Dec: Now that you're back, check out this tribute to fallen USS San Francisco hero MM2(SS) Joseph Ashley by Ohio Sen. Mark DeWine, posted at Rontini's BBS by Petty Officer Ashley's father. (Because I don't know how long Rontini is keeping old posts in his archive now, here's the link to the Congressional Record that has Sen. DeWine's tribute.)

And while you're at Rontini's, check out this kinda sad thread with pictures of submarines awaiting "disposition" up in Washington (and some in the Ukraine, which aren't as sad). Here's one of the pictures of the American boats:

The poster at Rontini's says that some of them appear to be old boomers with the missile compartments removed and the hulls welded back together. (They're the ones with the raised areas around the sail that abruptly stop.)

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

President Ford Passes

President Gerald R. Ford passed away today, according to CNN and early news accounts. He was the 4th of five consecutive Presidents with a naval background; during WWII, he served on the light carrier USS Monterey (CVL-26).

Sailor, rest your oar.

Update 2227 26 Dec: Here are some more pictures from President Ford's naval service. I think more than any other, this quote from his library's home page shows why Gerald Ford was the right man to be President in the tumultuous mid-'70s, and why he was the epitome of a "public servant":
I have not sought this enormous responsibility, but I will not shirk it. Those who nominated and confirmed me as Vice President were my friends and are my friends. They were of both parties, elected by all the people and acting under the Constitution in their name. It is only fitting then that I should pledge to them and to you that I will be the President of all the people.
Update 0810 27 Dec: Michelle Malkin has a very good round-up of links on President Ford. On the other side of the 'sphere, the DUers were all proud of themselves last night for how respectful they were being. This morning, not so much. (And for those who were wondering after reading that last link -- no, President Ford did not pardon Dick Cheney or Donald Rumsfeld, despite "matcom" 's claim to the contrary.)

Update 2210 27 Dec: Here's the Navy NewsStand story on President Ford's death.

USS Louisville TLAM Launch Video

It looks like someone took some video of the crew of the USS Louisville (SSN 724) during their Tomahawk launches for OIF and put it up as a music video on YouTube; it's pretty good:

Off topic (but not really worthy of a full post), I got a good Christmas present from my readers -- a visitor from EagleSpeak yesterday afternoon was this blog's 300,000th visitor. For future submarine blog historians, it took me 13 months to get 100,000 visitors, 8 1/2 months more to get up to 200,000, and 6 additional months to get up to 300,000. Thanks to everyone who stops by.

Monday, December 25, 2006

Merry Christmas

From my family to yours...

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Santa's On His Way!

Check out NORAD Tracks Santa to see where he's at now! (I'm excited because he normally visits a submarine on his trip around the world.)

Update 1803 24 Dec: Here's a direct link to the video of Santa's visit to a boomer off the Azores. If that link doesn't work for you, you can reach it through this link and going to the "Atlantic Ocean, Azores" section.

Submarine Blogger In The News

Eric from The Sub Report got written up (in a good way) in the Florida Today for his outstanding web site. Excerpts:
A knack for news and Internet research, as well as a background in the Navy, prompted a local man to design a Web site for anyone interested in submarine news from around the world.
A former missile technician and missile-test launch supervisor, Eric Ryle was in the Navy until 1998...
...“The submarine community is small so there’s a real brotherhood,” Ryle said. “I saw there were a lot of military bloggers, but not a lot of submarine bloggers, so I started a Drudge-like web site where I have links to submarine news. The news comes mainly from the United States, but I’m also able to find links from foreign sites.”
Ryle adds between five and 30 posts a day, depending on what he can find. While a large majority of the news are from home, he often finds news from Russia, Japan, England, Australia, Germany and Spain.
It's a pretty good article, notwithstanding the omission of the websites name or URL. Congratulations, Eric!

Saturday, December 23, 2006

USS Boise At The North Pole

Today's Idaho Statesman had a picture of the CO of USS Boise (SSN 764) showing support for the Boise State Broncos recently at the North Pole. It was provided by the chairman of the USS Boise Committee, who was kind enough to send me a copy. Here it is:

As you can tell, this picture wasn't taken during the summer.

At this point, I should address a question that some readers have been asking -- how do I think Boise St. is going to do in the Fiesta Bowl against Oklahoma? As someone who comes from Big XII country, I agree with this Oklahoma coach's analysis:

"If you look over the long haul, teams like (Boise State) maybe couldn't last week in and week out against the top teams," said offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson, who spent nine years at Miami (Ohio). "But in a one-shot deal, they're plenty fast, plenty strong, physical enough to contend with any team in the country."
If I had to guess, I'd say that Oklahoma would beat Boise St. 9 out of 10 times -- especially with RB Adrian Peterson returning to the lineup. Boise State has a lot of heart, and have done their best in the "big games" this season. That being said, I think it's most likely going to end up like the last time the Broncos took on a top team from a top conference -- last year, when Georgia beat BSU by 5 touchdowns. This game will probably be a little closer, though -- something like OU 45, BSU 24 (with BSU scoring a couple of TDs late). On the other hand, if BSU can get off to a good start and get up 10 or 14 points in the 1st quarter, they can make a game of it.
I just think they won't.

Friday, December 22, 2006

More On The "Carrier Surge"

I posted earlier this week on the media reports of an incipent "naval build-up" in the Persian Gulf, and dismissed them as a standard MSM failure to understand normal naval deployment patterns. Based on reports that came out today from the New York Times and Navy Times, though, it looks like my initial reaction was wrong -- this might be the real thing. (Please note that by "real thing" I mean that we're probably going to plus-up the Allied naval force in the Fifth Fleet AOR over at least the short term; it most emphatically does not mean that we're about to attack Iran, despite the recent brayings of various moonbats. Leaving aside the political unlikelihood of successfully opening a new front in the War on Terror without Congressional authorization, there hasn't been any indication of other military precursors you'd see if we were about to attack someone new.)

What made me change my mind? Well, here's an excerpt from the Navy Times article:
The Bremerton, Wash.-based Stennis, Carrier Air Wing 9 and the rest of the strike group have completed pre-deployment training and were scheduled to deploy in late January, officials said. A Pentagon source said the deployment could be moved up several weeks.
If the group deploys early, it could be in the gulf within several weeks, allowing it to overlap there for as many as two months with the Norfolk, Va.-based Dwight D. Eisenhower CSG, which deployed Oct. 3 on a seven-month cruise. It entered the gulf Dec. 11, according to the 5th Fleet...
...A 5th Fleet spokesman confirmed that a “request for forces,” or RFF, has been sent to the Pentagon by U.S. Central Command.
“I’m aware that they’ve put out an RFF requesting strategic military assets to be moved to this region,” said Cmdr. Kevin Aandahl. He said additional ground forces had also been requested. He declined to comment on specific units.
People with staff experience will recognize the specific "code words" within the article that indicate that the sources for the story actually have a clue as to what's going on. For this reason, I've concluded that the Navy is trying to get the word out to the Iranians that we're about to move some more naval forces into the region -- probably just to remind them that we can.

I haven't been in the Gulf on an aircraft carrier (or any other ship, for that matter) since 2000, so things may have changed, but here's my quasi-knowledgable take on what's probably going to happen:

Trying to get a Carrier Strike Group underway early around the holidays is problematic at best. After a JTFEX, there are specific things that need to be done as far as maintenance and stores-loading that would be very expensive to make happen quicker. Coupled with having people out on holiday leave across the country (and knowing the morale problems that would be caused by cancelling the 2nd Holiday Leave period for anything short of an expanded war), my guess is that getting the Stennis Strike Group underway before the 2nd week in January would be fairly unlikely. When I was on the Stennis for their 2000 deployment, we left San Diego about January 7th, and did exercises and port visits in South Korea, Hong Kong, and Malaysia before getting to the 5th Fleet AOR at the end of February. If they were serious about getting to the Gulf and cut out any port calls, they could probably make it to the Pakistani coast (the easternmost part of the AOR) in about 4 weeks -- remember, it's a 10,000 nm voyage from Seattle to Karachi, which is 28 days at 15 knots. (I use this voyage calculator to come up with maritime distances, btw.) For those who think the nuclear-powered carrier could arrive sooner, yes, that's true -- but remember her escorts are conventionally-powered, and have to refuel a lot more frequently if they go much faster than that. So, unless they extend the Eisenhower or send a surge carrier to the AOR, the two month overlap they discuss in the article looks fairly realistic. Of course, to maintain that level of naval presence in the Gulf beyond the spring would require a complete reshuffling of the fleet-wide deployment schedule, which we normally do only when there's a hot war.

In summary, if we end up with four carriers in the AOR at the same time and the new Congressional leadership starts making noises about "dealing with" Tehran, then I'll start listening to the "we're about to bomb Iran" crowd -- not before.

Update 0136 22 Dec: Oh, and which submarine is assigned to the JCSSG, and might end up pulling the short straw? It looks like it's the USS Key West (SSN 722). Also of interest to submariners, the destroyer USS O'Kane (DDG 77), named for RADM Dick O'Kane, is also assigned to the Strike Group.

Update 0959 24 Dec: The "progressive" "press" is now claiming that the Stennis has already left. Apparently we're covering this up by use of holographic projections, since a reader in Bremerton confirmed yesterday afternoon that the Stennis was still sitting in port.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

A New Search Engine

[Intel Source: Instapundit] Is Ms. Dewey the search engine of the future? I'm not sure -- there are a few interesting specific responses the actress playing Ms. Dewey gives to search requests, but I ran into repeats of the "stock" answers after only a few searches. Still, it's more fun than just typing stuff into Google...

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Who Is The Oldest Submarine Veteran?

The Sub Report linked to an article today on Floyd Matthews, a 103-year-old submariner in Florida; there's also a quick video clip of the interview with him located here. From the article:
Once he got his sea legs on a cruiser and battleship, Matthews had enough of the surface and volunteered for a different kind of duty in 1923.
His graduation from submarine school later that year would enter him into a brotherhood of fellow submariners. Today, he is thought to be the second-oldest submariner in the U.S., Rubin said.
His time as a submariner would also involve him in landmark submarine escape experiments under the direction of Lt. Cmdr. Charles "Swede" Momsen, inventor of the Momsen lung, an underwater breathing device used in rescue operations.
Another Momsen invention, the "diving bell," saved the crew of the USS Squalus in May 1939, when their sub sank in 240 feet of water off Portsmouth, N.H. Matthews supported the rescue effort using the watertight chamber to bring trapped sailors to the surface.
Here's an article from the USSVI archives on Floyd's 100th birthday. Unforunately, none of the articles I found listed the subs on which Floyd served. I did a quick Google search, but wasn't able to find out who is the oldest U.S. submariner still alive. (The USSVI website has an article about a submariner, Capt. Arthur "Speed" Graubart, who had been their oldest member when he passed on in 2003.) Does anyone know if there's really a submariner out there older than Floyd Matthews?

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

There They Go Again

Once again, we see the national news media all googly-eyed over an upcoming "naval build-up in the Persian Gulf aimed at Iran" -- just like they were back in September. This new alarmism is based on a CBS News report last night (video here) claiming that we're going up to two aircraft carriers in the Gulf region next year. From the tone of the report, you'd think this is unprecedented -- except it happens about four times a year. That's because we keep one aircraft carrier in the Fifth Fleet AOR, and have "relief on station". Since there's half a world of transit time involved, a carrier can spend just a little over half of a six month deployment hanging around the Gulf (LANTFLT carriers can spend a little more time). It's like at the beginning of November when the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) relieved USS Enterprise (CVN 65) -- for a brief moment, there were two carriers in the AOR. The same thing will happen again when another carrier, likely the USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), which just did its JTFEX in November, deploys. There's normally a 1-2 month break between the end of JTFEX and deployment. If they deploy early in January, they'd arrive in the Gulf sometime in February -- exactly when they need to for the Eisenhower to be able to make it home in time! Of course, like they did before, don't expect the alarmists to acknowledge when the Eisenhower leaves. It wouldn't mesh with their preconceptions.

Update 2141 20 Dec: The Military Life blog at The Kitsap Sun picked up on the story as well; Over there, Elaine found an article at that makes a little more sense if one looks at it with the right perspective. From the article:
Pentagon officials are reviewing a request by the top U.S. commander for the Middle East for an additional aircraft carrier and escort vessels in the Persian Gulf area, three defense officials said.
The request by U.S. Central Command commander General John Abizaid is in the early review stages by the Joint Staff and Joint Forces Command that oversees the deployment and readiness of U.S. forces, the officials said. The request would then be forwarded to Defense Secretary Robert Gates, the officials said.
Abizaid's request wasn't aimed at any one country, said the three officials familiar with the request, who asked not to be identified. Instead, they said, Abizaid wants to boost U.S. presence in a region that's seen increased rhetoric and war exercises by Iran, heightened tensions between Somalia and Ethiopia and increased violence in Afghanistan.
The article goes on to discuss the Eisenhower and Stennis in terms of this deployment cycle, but reading between the lines, it looks like this might be a more long-term thing. This looks like CENTCOM might be looking for, rather than a one-time plus-up of the naval forces, an increase in the standing Fifth Fleet resource base. Without getting into too much detail, geographical area commanders put in requests for certain naval assets to the Joint Chiefs, and they get assigned a coverage level based on the yearly ship-years they'll have on station for each type. For example, based on the pattern we've been seeing where one carrier leaves as soon as its replacement arrives, it currently appears that Fifth Fleet has an assigned level of 1.0 aircraft carriers -- meaning that there will normally be one carrier on station at all times in the AOR. A level of 0.5 would mean you'd have six months of coverage every year, while 1.5 would mean you'd have one ship of that type on station half the year, and two for the other half (not necessarily consecutively). So, reading between the lines, I'd say this initiative from CENTCOM is a request to make the 1.0 number something bigger. These requests take a while to filter through the system (if you don't take away a resource from another area, such as PACOM, then it wreaks havoc with maintenance schedules), so it shouldn't cause any change in the short term schedule for either the Eisenhower or the Stennis.

Update 0130 22 Dec: I changed my mind; it looks like this probably will change the Stennis' schedule a little bit.

Naming The Next Aircraft Carrier

There's an interesting article in The Virginian-Pilot about the upcoming naming of CVN 78. This is an especially important decision because this carrier will be the lead ship of the post-Nimitz class of carriers; hence, the ship's name will be the class name as well. It seems that Senators Warner and Levin amended the 2007 Defense Authorization Bill to "direct" the Navy to name the carrier for President Gerald Ford (see Sect. 1013 on this page to see the wording of the amendment, in the SA 4211 section) -- although this was apparently changed to "encourage" before final passage. It seems that there's an organization who is extremely opposed to this; they want the CVN 78 to be USS America. Some excerpts from the top-linked article:
An 1819 act of Congress gives the s ecretary of the Navy responsibility for choosing ship names, a prerogative he still exercises, according to the Naval Historical Center's Web site.
Sens. John Warner, R-Va., and Carl Levin, D-Mich., amended the 2007 defense bill to encourage the Navy to name the next carrier after Ford, who served in the Navy during World War II and grew up in Michigan.
"At least we were able to get the wording changed in the amendment from being a mandate to a recommendation," Waite said.
Warner is the outgoing chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Levin is the incoming chairman.
The article goes on to talk a little about the recent naming of submarines:
Efforts to sway the Navy secretary to name a ship after a city, a hero or a famous person are not new, said Defense Department spokesman Kevin Wensing. When residents of New Mexico asked that a ship be named for their state, more than 20,000 signed petitions, he said.
"We said, OK, enough, we get it," Wensing said. In December 2004, then-Navy Secretary Gordon England named the sixth ship of the Virginia-class of nuclear-powered submarines the New Mexico.
Wensing would not disclose other names being suggested for CVN 78.
He did say, however, that the ship-naming process is so varied that it doesn't always follow any reason. For example, the three submarines in the Seawolf class are named Seawolf, Connecticut and Jimmy Carter, Wensing said.
"So they are named after a seawolf, whatever that is, a state and a former president. Go figure."
Ignoring for a moment the apparent fact that a DoD spokesman doesn't know that a seawolf is a fish, I find myself agreeing with the traditionalists. While I admire President Ford (one of the five consecutive Navy veteran Presidents we had between 1961 and 1980), I'm not sure if an entire class of carriers should be named after him. On the other hand, "America" doesn't have the most distinguished lineage of U.S. Navy ship names -- it's not bad, it's just not the best. If they do change Congress' mind and allow the SecNav to name the ship America, they'll hopefully continue naming the class for famous ships in American history. If they do, the 2nd ship of the class will absolutely have to carry what is arguably the most storied name in the U.S. Navy, that will otherwise go unused after about 2015: USS Enterprise. To lose that name from the fleet would be criminal. (Note: This topic was also covered at WizBang! back in June.)

Monday, December 18, 2006

It's An Honor Just To Be Nominated

The results are final for the 2006 Weblog Awards, and there was no change in the results in the highly prestigious "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs" category -- meaning, I finished a very respectable 2nd place. I really can't let this opportunity go by without thanking everyone who helped me do so well -- and also made the whole week a lot of fun.

First and foremost, I wanted to thank everyone who voted for me so diligently and so often. Special thanks goes to Eric at The Sub Report Blog and Alan at IdaBlue who took it on themselves to come up with posts for the "U-Boating of Bubblehead" meme. Thanks also to everyone who "endorsed" my campaign: Ninme, Blackfive, Adam's Blog, Red State Rebels, Noonz Wire,, EagleSpeak, BurstBlog, Huckleberries Online (Idaho's biggest blog) and several others I probably missed. Thanks also to my fellow nominees, who showed amazingly good humor about their portrayals in my "completely impartial Voters Guide". Last but not least, many thanks to my campaign manager, without whose help I'm sure I wouldn't have done as well as I did in the vital teenage on-line strategy gaming community. (That's actually the one good thing about me losing; there may have been some rash words implying that I might come up with a PlayStation 3 for Christmas if I won, and I really don't have any leads on one that costs less than an arm and a leg.)

While it's fresh in my mind, here are some lessons learned I came up with that might help anyone who wants to try to win one of these awards next year -- especially someone looking for an excuse to get to Las Vegas, since that's where they're going to be presenting the 2007 Weblog Awards there next November.

1) Don't be afraid to nominate yourself; I did. On the other hand, it probably didn't hurt that two other people also nominated me. Ask you friends to help you out.

2) The Denizens of Castle Argghhh!!! pointed out that I got more votes than all but two of the blogs up for the Best MilBlog award, even though that's a much more popular category. The lesson learned here is that unless your blog is really, really good (like the nominees for Best MilBlog, and unlike TSSBP), try to avoid the "theme" categories, and go for the Ecosystem ones. There's less chance of fratricide there (two blogs from the same blogging community going against each other), although we did see that with CDR Salamander and EagleSpeak in the 3501-5000 category).

3) The folks at Wizbang who run the awards do check for cheating; while it's possible to clear the cookies and whatnot that they use to prevent you from voting more than every 24 hours from the same computer, they still seem to be able to figure that out eventually. Since they say they don't necessarily disqualify excessive votes from the same IP address, they must use something peculiar to each computer, like Flash serial number. Therefore, if you have a kid in high school with access to lots of Internet-connected computers, you shouldn't be afraid to get him (or her) to have their buddies vote for you in their computer apps class. My campaign manager will have to remember that for next year.

4) At least in the lower Ecosystem categories, total votes seemed to be pretty much proportional to daily site visits -- you just didn't see the several dozen hit/day blogs beating the several hundred hit/day ones. While endorsements from the big bloggers are nice, I didn't notice a big spike even after a huge event like Blackfive's endorsement of me. Basically, pin a reminder to the top of your page, and your regular readers will vote. Everything else is gravy. (On the other hand, if your company lets you send a mass E-mail to every employee, that wouldn't hurt either -- which is how I suspect mAss Backwards probably got his big vote surges the last two afternoons.)

5) Most importantly, have fun. Interact with your fellow nominees. Question their ancestry. Accuse them of pulchritude. Anything for a laugh.

6) Always remember to prepare for next year. A good way to start is getting all your friends to permalink anyone who beat you last year, so they'll move up in the Ecosystem and out of your category. I hope to see mAss Backwards on every submarine blogger's blogroll soon.

Eagle1 On Radar Picket Submarines

Eagle1 has a good piece on the history of radar picket ships; there's quite a bit about the submarine version towards the bottom of his post. One of his resources is this excellent article from an old Undersea Warfare magazine. An example of one of the post-war radar picket conversion submarines is USS Tigrone (SSR 419):

You can find more on the Tigrone here.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

The Staffer's Lament

[Stolen from CDR Salamander] This Broadside cartoon, better than any single item I've ever seen, describes the frustrations of being an officer on a major staff:

You can get the same feeling of futility from the Staffer's Hard Sayings Log, but it takes a lot longer to read. I remember being at CENTCOM sometimes and wondering why I was stuck doing such stupid stuff -- after all, I'd been the Engineer on two Seawolf-class submarines! Then, I realized that I basically had control over the administration of $540 million in coalition support funds and no real procedures in place to tell me what to do with them, so I could pretty much make it up as I went along, and I'd feel better. Then one of my Marine bosses would scream "Stay in your lane!" for the tenth time that day at some poor staffer, and I'd feel worse again. Then I'd get sent on another TAD trip to Warsaw...

Saturday, December 16, 2006

WWII Lost Subs On Google Earth

If you haven't downloaded Google Earth yet (you can get it free here) here's another reason to do so. A reader let me know that a submariner in the Google Earth community, Chief_Sparky, has loaded the location of the 52 U.S. submarines on Eternal Patrol from WWII into the database. Here's what Sparky says about what he did:

The 52 Placemarks contained in this tour represent the best the United States Navy had to offer in defense of the USA during WWII. Positions of the sinkings are as accurate as possible, but some error is inevitable. Many of the locations were determined after the war by piecing together various Japanese ship, aircraft & station records.
Each Placemark contains photos and information about each boat, along with a crew list of those lost. I hope I've done my Brothers of the Dolphin the justice and honor that they deserve.
Here's a screenshot I took of northern Japan for an altitude of about 1000nm; you can see the resting places of 8 boats in this picture (marked with an arrow that I added):

The positions mark the presumed final resting place of, from left to right (or south to north in this picture, where west is on top): USS Scamp, USS Bonesfish, USS Golet, USS Albacore, USS Pickerel, USS Runner, USS Wahoo, and USS Pompano. You can read more about each boat over at the CSP "Lost WWII Subs" site.

To see some of the yellow-and-white "i" placemarks representing the lost boats, I found you had to drop down to a fairly "low" altitude (something like 200nm is the lowest I found). You also need to make sure "Geographic Web" is selected on the left menu.

Overall, it's a fascinating way to spend an evening, and it gives one a better idea of the immensity of the battle our submariners fought in WWII.

Friday, December 15, 2006

I'm A Cultural Neanderthal

I admit it -- I'm not evolving into a 21st century man very gracefully. Most of my wife's family went to see The Pursuit of Happyness tonight; I stayed home and baby-sat a nephew who was too young to go. I'd seen enough previews of the movie to know that it featured an Oscar-worthy performance in a story of an underdog who overcomes tremendous odds in a heart-tugging display of wit, determination, and frequent emotionally-charged scenes...

Sorry, I started snoozing just typing that description. Note to Hollywood: if you want to get my demographic (geeky middle-aged men) into the theaters, you should replace "frequent emotionally-charged scenes" with "explosives" -- if they did that, I'd totally be there.

In other movie news, my oldest son (who just got his drivers license yesterday) saw Eragon tonight, and pronounced it "really stupid".

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Somebody Set Up Us The Vote!

(This post will be pinned to the top until voting is closed.)

This is a bleg -- begging from a blogger. I need your vote. Please vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished in the "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs" category of the 2006 Weblog Awards. You can vote every 24 hours, so please, vote early and often. If you need help deciding who to vote for, I've prepared a handy Voters Guide. Just click on the logo below to go to the voting site:

The 2006 Weblog Awards

Thank you for your support of The Stupid Shall Be Punished.

Current status (as of 2312 15 Dec): Voting has ended -- thanks to everyone who voted so diligently! While the results won't be "official" until probably Monday, it looks like we finished 2nd, with 1,121 votes -- 188 votes behind the winner, mAss Backwards. Of note, our total was almost 750 votes more than the winner got in this category last year. It also appears that we got more votes than the winners of all but the top two "Ecosystem" categories.

I'll try to come out with a "lessons learned" document on Monday.

If You Look In The Dictionary Under "Ship's Sponsor"...

...there should be a picture of the sponsor of the USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709), CDR Eleonore Rickover. The Rickover was retired today after 22 years of service, and as always, Mrs. Rickover was there.

She married Admiral Rickover after the death of his first wife, Ruth, in 1972, and sponsored the Rickover when she was commissioned in 1984. Throughout the ship's history, she made herself a welcome part of the ship's life. She rode the boat for family cruises, welcomed them home from deployments, and -- from what I've heard -- sent personal notes to the officers and crew whenever they reached personal milestones. She also attended changes of command, as seen here:

She truly is a special woman, and one who seemingly understands and cherishes the great honor that is bestowed on those chosen to sponsor a ship of the United States Navy. Hopefully, the men of the Hyman G. Rickover realize what a national treasure they had in having her as their ship's sponsor.

Update 2359 15 Dec: Here's the Navy NewsStand report of the inactivation ceremony... or was it a deactivation ceremony? The story uses both words, so I'm still not sure what it's officially called.

Submarine Christmas Photoshopping Contest

Just a reminder -- entries for The Sub Report's Submarine Christmas Photoshop Contest are due by 2359 tonight (Thursday the 14th). Here's the page with the entries that have come in so far. It's a great chance to have some fun and maybe win a prize.

You don't need any fancy software to do a good photoshop; I just use the Microsoft Picture It! that came with my computer, and if you don't have that, Eric has a link to some freeware. For example, I just put together this admittedly lame "Christmas Tree on the RPCP" entry in about five minutes:

For good results, you might want to spend a little more time than I did. It's fun for the whole family!

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Re-Post: Naval Reactors -- Gestapo Or Soul-less Automatons?

I was reading a story about how RADM McAneny was relieving RADM Bird as SubGru SEVEN, and I thought I remembered writing something about Doug McAneny before. I did some searching, and came across this story I wrote last May that really tickled my funny bone. Here it is again (with some updated links), in the hopes that it can generate some more NR horror stories in the comments:

So there I was... I was stationed at NPTU Charleston on MTS 626 as a Shift Engineer as my post-JO shore tour. There were about seven Naval Reactors guys in the local office; as a general rule, they were all jerks. (I'll probably get the guys in Groton that I worked with in trouble, but they generally weren't jerks; based on my other dealings with NR, though, I think they were an anomaly.) They expected phone calls about any problem, and the Shift Engineer could get in a lot of trouble by not keeping them informed. When we were on midshift, I'd occasionally have something come up that I knew I didn't have to inform them about right away, but that they'd be pissed if I didn't call them sometime during the night. I used to wait until about 4:15am to call them; I figured at that point it'd be harder for them to get back to sleep.

Anyway, one day I'm on day shift, and were preparing for a really complex test during a maintenance period. The youngest NR guy (a really weasely little sh*t) comes into my "office" with a complaint that "your ETs don't have all references present at the worksite for RC Div maintenance". (For those not familiar with Navy Nuclear Power, this is probably the most frequently violated rule out there; each procedure normally lists about 8 references, which were big-ass, really heavy books, and often they were only listed for some dumb comment like "don't piss on live electrical wires" or something asinine like that.) Anyway, this NR guy is sitting on my desk as he tells me this, and it was a pretty stressful time, so I guess I kind of snapped at him. "I appreciate the comment, but in the future I'd appreciate it if you could inform me if you're starting a monitor watch, and I'd also appreciate it if you didn't sit on my desk." Well, he gets all huffy, and says he wasn't going to make it an official comment, but now he would, so I had to get out the sheet and write it up. (One thing that NR guys do is that they never write down their own deficiency comments; they make the duty officer do it. That way, if they make a mistake, they can claim the duty officer wrote it down wrong.)

Back to the story. OK, I could accept that he would make the comment "official" in retaliation for me talking back to him, but then he goes up and... tells his boss! Next thing I know, the phone's ringing, and it's the head of the local office, yelling at me that the guy I talked back to was "the Admiral's official representative" and asking if I would "tell the Admiral to get off your desk." I'm pretty exercised at this point, so I say something to the effect of "No, but I don't think the Admiral would sit on my desk." He hangs up, and five minutes later my bosses boss is down there telling me not to piss off Naval Reactors anymore.

A couple months go by. The thing about NR reps is that most of the field reps are active duty military, but they don't ever wear their uniforms; they're normally Lieutenants or below, so most people they hassle outrank them, but that doesn't count in the NR world. Anyway, this kid whose chops I busted was an E-6, and he was having a really hard time passing the CPO exam, which he needed to do to become eligible for the Limited Duty Officer board. (NR guys get commissioned that way; essentially all of them that "make the board" get selected.) NR told him that since he didn't pass the exam, they were sending him back to the fleet as an ET1, which was his normal rate. By this time, I already had my orders to be Engineer on Connecticut (SSN 22) and he decided that going to the shipyard would be the best job for him. (I always thought they should have one boat set aside for ex-NR guys; kinda like the section of prison where they put the ex-cops.) He figured the detailer will give him whatever he asked for. So, he comes up to me and says, "It looks like I'll be working for you next; I guess I won't be able to sit on your desk... heh, heh". I said something non-commital, but what I was really thinking was... "Oh, yes, Petty Officer Xxxxx; you come work for me, and I'll be sending you into the bilge, but it won't be for a zone inspection".

Anyway, he ended up going to a boomer in King's Bay (and later passed the CPO exam, so I heard NR took him back) and I reported to the Connecticut. The first thing my new CO says to me is, "I heard you like to tell NR guys to get off your table. Please don't piss them off here." I imagine it's probably an urban legend in Charleston by now; some story about how a Shift Engineer punched the NR guy or something.

In conclusion: What are Naval Reactors guys anyway? If you want an organization to design the best and safest military reactors in the world where price isn't an object, they're your guys. As far as the local reps who move into NR from the Fleet, in order to spy on their old shipmates, I kind of pity them; maybe they didn't have any friends on the boat. So, I guess I'd have to generally classify them as "socially inept traitors with a serious Napoleon complex". Not all of them, but enough of them to make the generalization valid. I'm sure they perform a vital role, but right now I can't figure out what it is...

Going deep...

Update 0932 24 May: I suppose in the interests of fairness I should link to some remarks from ADM "Skip" Bowman, who was recently relieved as NAVSEA 08; I really admired him. He talks about what is good about Naval Reactors.

Speaking Of Voting...

ESPN Classic is doing a show that's trying to pick the greatest college football team of all time. Nebraska had 3 of the top 8 ('71, '83, '95) and two of the Final Four ('71 and '95 -- '95 played '83 in the quarterfinals). Here's hoping Nebraska gets both of the championship "game" spots -- as they should.

Update: It ended up as I predicted -- the '95 'Huskers beat the '71 edition. It was hilarious watching ESPN "expert" Kirk Herbstreit get all teed off that two Nebraska teams were in the finals -- he kept yelling about how they couldn't pass, and doubted they played anyone. I yelled back at the screen that the '95 'Huskers beat the teams that ended up #2, #5, #7, and #9, and the '71 team beat the teams that ended up #2, #3, and #4. Plus, with the '95 team averaging almost 400 yards per game rushing, they didn't really need to pass, now did they?

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

LA in L.A.

The USS Los Angeles (SSN 688) is having an unusual pre-deployment workup. After completing the first-ever open ocean ESCAPEX from a nuclear submarine off the coast of Alaska, the Pearl Harbor-based sub sailed down the West Coast for her first-ever visit to her namesake city. She's seen here passing what looks like Angel's Gate Light in San Pedro Harbor:

More photos from the visit can be seen here. From the looks of it, they had must have had a quiet visit -- I checked out the websites of all the usual suspects, and didn't notice any calls for protest, so hopefully the crew had a good time.

Bell-ringer 0017 14 Dec: Commenters here, as well as "Sailor 777" at Rontini's new BBS say that the LA has visited Los Angeles before, particularly in 1978. It looks like it's the Navy that's putting out the bad information, and I was guilty of white-ratting it. I should have known better, based on the Navy NewsStand's previous track record when it comes to certain aspects of submarine history.

Monday, December 11, 2006

The "U-Boating" Of Bubblehead

It appears that forces aligned with Bruce at mAss Backwards are conspiring to "U-Boat" this humble submarine blogger, all because I've essentially tied him for first place in the prestigious "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs" category of the 2006 Weblog Awards. First, a blogger called "IdaBlue" accused me of beardedness, and then came up with a clearly outrageous story about a medal I received for pulchritrude above and beyond the call, as mentioned in my completely impartial Voters Guide. Hmm... the blogger's name is "IdaBlue", and Massachusetts is a "blue" state. Coincidence? I think not.

Even worse, my good friend Eric of The Sub Report has apparently joined forces with mAss Backwards, first posting wholly unconfirmed rumors of a "Free Beer for Votes" scheme at Subase New London, and then advertising a new book by disgruntled people opposed to my candidacy. I assure you, the dyspepsia this has caused has been seared... Seared!... into my memory.

And now mAss Backwards has apparently turned off comments on his blog. His brazen attempt to Stifle my Dissent and suppress my right to Speak Truth to Power is unprecedented in Weblog Awards history. I assure you my campaign manager will have a strong reaction to Bruce's heinous attempt to re-write history tomorrow or Wednesday -- because it's past his bedtime tonight.

Update 2351 11 Dec: Bruce's comments are back on. What do you suppose he was hiding?

Update 2118 12 Dec: My campaign manager DeepDiver reveals Bruce's evil plan! Plus, more mAss Backwards-inspired "lies" from The Sub Report.

Update 2314 12 Dec: I suppose I should mention some of the other blogs I've been voting for --
Best Humor Blog: BlameBush!
Best of the Top 250 Blogs: Castle Argghhh!!!
Best of the Top 1001-1750: Soldier's Angel
Best of the Top 3501-5000: CDR Salamander (sorry, EagleSpeak, but 'Phib's got a better shot at winning)
Best of the Top 5001-6750: The Bodie Specter
Best Blog: Michelle Malkin (Don't get me wrong, I still like Instapundit; it's just that Michelle's been linking to me a lot more than Glenn has lately.)

Update 2348 14 Dec: Despite all the embarrassing "facts" he's "uncovered" about me, Eric from The Sub Report still decided to endorse me. Now, I can't lose!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Submarine Wardroom Dinner Pranks

Mealtime aboard a submarine was always one of the highlights of any day underway. Some would skip the meal and get a quick half hour of sleep; others would line up several minutes early. (On USS Topeka, our Supply Officer boycotted eating in the WR to avoid the constant criticism of the food by the CO, "He Who Must Not Be Named".) Eating with the Captain in the wardroom was, on many boats, about the closest you would get on a submarine to "regular Navy" traditions.

For those who haven't seen one, an SSN wardroom table is a pretty small space to serve 10 (or 11) men. Here's a picture of the one on USS Providence (SSN 719):

In addition to experiencing tradition, it was also a good place for good-natured pranks. Because the wardroom table was so small, there wasn't room to put down anything other than what was laid out at the beginning of the meal (condiment servers, pitchers, etc.). As a result, serving dishes would be passed around at the beginning of the meal (the Captain got first dibs). The game would be to try to get someone with a serving dish in each hand -- once someone got in that situation, no one would take either one from him until he admitted how stupid he looked.

My favorite prank was played by the mess attendents on USS Connecticut (SSN 22) on one of our JOs. The first day, they got him with the old "cellophane wrap on top of the drinking glass" trick, which is mildly amusing. What made it a classic was the next day, when the JO made a big deal of checking his glass for cellophane; instead, they'd put the cellophane on his soup spoon, so when he went for his first bite -- the spoon came up empty! (It was hilarious if you saw it, trust me.)

Does anyone else have any favorite "dinner pranks" from their submarine days?

Another Active Duty Submarine Blogger Found

If you get a chance, head on over to Kevin Basil's place and tell him congratulations on passing his submarine qualification board. He's stationed on USS Jacksonville (SSN 699), which apparently is just getting set to leave the shipyard after a long, arduous ERO.

Saturday, December 09, 2006

No New Content Here!

Have you ever noticed that politicians don't want to say anything controversial during election season? It always torqued me off, but now I'm starting to understand where they're coming from. That's why, during the heart of the vote-whining campaign that is the 2006 Weblog Awards (please vote for me! click here to go to the voting page! vote every 24 hours!), I hesitate to post anything that might upset the voters. Because of that, and because December is normally a good time to post "end of year" reviews, here's links to some of the "Best of Bubblehead" non-submarine posts from the past 12 months:

Dec. '05: This is why I don't cook much.

Jan. '06: One of the things that sets me apart from the other "2501-3500" finalists is my willingness to "go to bat" for the smaller bloggers, as seen in the saga of my wildly successful "SPUD-LIB" initiative:
The SPUD-LIB Manifesto
SPUD-LIB: An Open Letter to Frank J. and Instapundit
Victory For SPUD-LIB!

Feb. '06: Hercules, The Blanket-Molesting Cat. The title says it all.

Mar '06: For March Madness -- A Call For Restraint

Apr '06: A compilation of my "serious essays" on the GWOT -- What I Believe

May '06: An analysis of the surprising result of the Nebraska Republican Governor primary result: Satan Flexes His Political Muscles
(In May, I also wrote one of my most-linked non-submarine posts of the year: Why The Republicans Are Losing My Vote.)

June '06: On the definition of "unilateral": Idaho Democrats -- Against The Mexican War!

July '06: Part of my continuing series of posts mocking and belittling bad science from the moonbat crowd: Depleted Uranium -- Worthy Of Exclamation Points!

Aug '06: More GWOT strategy thinking: Iraq = Gallipoli?

Sep '06: Because this guy got elected, I'm almost sure to get my taxes audited: Bill Sali And The Underpants Gnomes

Oct '06: Mostly election-related this month, but I did call out one celebrity: You Owe Me, Ken Jennings!

Nov '06: I have a "picture": Zamboni In The Boise Burger King Drive-Thru -- A Guy's Perspective

Before the end of the year, I'll try to come up with a list of my favorite submarine posts.

Discovery Mission Has A Navy Feel

The space shuttle Discovery lifted off tonight for a trip to the ISS -- I watched it live while waiting for the Heisman results to be announced. I hadn't heard before I saw the coverage that there are three Navy officers aboard this flight: CAPT Robert L. Curbeam Jr., CDR William A. Oefelein, and CDR Sunita L. Williams. CDR Williams will be transferring to the ISS for a six month tour of duty there.

I've always thought submariners would do good in space -- we're used to living in a high-tech vessel that operates essentially independently of outside support for long periods, and which can kill you if you operate them incorrectly. So far, we haven't had a chance to prove it, but we might be able to soon. Waiting for his ride is submariner CDR Stephen Bowen, a Mission Specialist. I knew him slightly -- he was XO of PCU Virginia when I was Eng on PCU Jimmy Carter, and we shared the same crew support building in the shipyard. I'm sure he'll do us proud when he gets into space.

One thing's for sure -- those dolphins make even a NASA uniform look good:

Friday, December 08, 2006

A Ditty From Long Ago

Completely unbidden, this old song came into my head when I drove past the Golden Arches on my way home from work today:

"McDonalds is your kind of place,
They feed you rattlesnakes,
They throw them in your face,
They have no potty place."

I remember my friends singing that back in the early 70s. I would have figured that it was a nationwide song, but a quick Google search showed that if it was, it hasn't been recorded. The closest one I found was here, in that while one version mentions throwing food in your face, it says they "steal your parking place", which in my mind isn't nearly as absurd as having no potty place.

Submarine Posts On Other Blogs

The Sub Report Blog is hosting a "Submarine Christmas Photoshop Contest" that looks like it'll be a lot of fun. Entries are due by the 14th.

Ninme has a report on the current kerfuffle in Great Britain about whether or not to keep an independent nuclear deterrent. While I think it's important for our British allies to maintain an adequate defense, part of me wonders if the Founding Fathers aren't sitting back and saying, "Yes, soon Great Britain will be completely defenseless, and will be ours for the taking. The final act of the American Revolution will soon play out."

Also, both USS La Jolla (SSN 701) and USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) (picture here) returned home from deployment recently -- just in time for Christmas!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Completely Impartial Voters Guide To The "Best Of The Top 2501-3500 Blogs"

Just because I'm a finalist for the prestigious "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs" category for the 2006 Weblog Awards doesn't mean I've lost my sense of fair play. To that end, I've put together this completely impartial "Voters Guide" so you'll be able to cast your vote for the blog in this category that's truly the "best".

What is meant by "the best"? Some might say that the best blog is one that has lots of interesting content, well-considered opinions, and engaging discourse. Sure, that's one definition, and if one accepts that, then the other finalists probably have "better" blogs than mine. But remember, this is America. In American elections, "best" equals "loudest", and I can assure you that no other finalist in the "BotT2501-3500B" category will be as loud, obnoxious, or snarky as I.

With that being said, on to the Voters Guide (updated 09 Dec):

The finalists are (in completely random order):

1) Bubblehead -- The Stupid Shall Be Punished: This self-styled "Idaho's first and foremost submarine blogger" has been mocking and belittling those who deserve it for over two years. Before that, he was in the Navy; here's a picture of him:

I can't say what he was getting the medal for; let's just say that the underwater Alien Command Ships won't be bothering Earth for quite a while, if you get my drift.

2) The Random Yak: A finalist two years running, Random Yak is an appropriate nom de blog, given his general hairiness -- as this picture supposedly of Random Yak working off a "bender" attests:

It's said that yaks live in the mountains of Pakistan -- just like Osama Bin Laden.

3) Bruce at mAss Backwards: He's from Massachusetts, but there's no reason to just assume that he likes high taxes and goes to gay weddings every weekend. He apparently has some sort of high-tech job, as this blurry photo said to be of Bruce shows:

4) Viking Spirit: Not much is known of this young blogger, although it's rumored that he was also may have been in the military, as this grainy photo shows:

5) Jack's Shack at Random Thoughts: Jack's Shack is best known for wanting Santa Claus to die; also known as "The Cousin of The Grinch". The reason is unknown; however, this photo purported to show an earlier episode from Jack's life that may explain this disturbing obsession:

I'm sure it will be easy to explain to your children how you voted for this guy.

6) Amanda from Imago Dei: No picture of Amanda could be found; however, we did find a picture of her favorite singing group wearing some of her gear:

Coming soon -- information on the other four finalists:
The Colossus of Rhodey: A Delaware group blog.
Cobb: Clearly a ringer. He's way too good of a blogger to be this far down the ecosystem chain.
Jeff the Baptist: Another Delawarian. (Delawarite?) What's up with that?
Libby at The Impolitic: Apparently the only liberal in the group.

Update 1310 09 Dec: I haven't gotten much information about Cobb or Jeff the Baptist, but I did put together some quick items about the other two finalists.

7) The Colossus of Rhodey: One of the two group blogs in the competition, the CoR consists of Rhodey, Felix, Rube, Gooch, JakeM, and HippieMomie. Apparently bloggers are big celebrities in Delaware (State Motto: "We get all our money from charging people outrageous tolls to drive 10 miles on I-95"), as shown by this blurry photo of the Rhodians with a fan:

My guess it that this appearance caused some contention, since HippieMomie's picture wasn't included with the rest of the group up on the wall.

8) Libby at The Impolitic: A self-styled progressive, Libby nonetheless seems to find time to hang out with famous conservative offspring; she's reportedly seen here with one of the Bush twins:

Dixie Chicks: "Creative Integrity"

I saw the Grammy Award nominations came out today, and it looks like they've sunk to a new low, with Justin Freakin' Timberlake getting a nomination for Album of the Year(!) for his "SexyHairyBack" album (or whatever it's called). What interested me most, though, was seeing the Dixie Chicks nominated for both Song and Record of the Year for "Not Ready To Make Nice". This one wasn't a surprise; after all, the Chicks have been lionized by the media for their "courage" for releasing this song of non-repentance. Here's my question -- how many of you think they would have gotten nominated by the music establishment if they'd released the same song, with the same music and production values, and the same lyrical meter, only it was called "I'm Ready To Make Nice" and was an apology to their fans for offending them?

I didn't think so...

Weblog Awards 2006: Voting Now Open

Voting has opened in many categories for this year's Weblog Awards, including for the highly-coveted "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs" category. You can vote once every 24 hours, so vote early and often. Click on the logo below to go to the voting page!

The 2006 Weblog Awards

Coming soon: A completely impartial "Voters Guide" for the 2501-3500 category.

Update: The Voters Guide is here.

Sixty-Five Years Ago Today...

Eagle1 remembers Pearl Harbor in pictures. For me, the picture that says the most about the meaning of that day is a more recent one -- one that shows the symbol of the war starting for America alongside the symbol of the war's end: USS Arizona (BB 39) and USS Missouri (BB 63).

"Rest easy, sleep well my brothers.
Know the line has held, your job is done.
Rest easy, sleep well . . . "

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Escape From L.A.

I was kind of surprised to learn that the Sub Force hadn't conducted an actual open ocean ESCAPEX from a submarine at sea in over 30 years -- until last Saturday, that is. Navy NewsStand has an interesting story of the escape exercise the USS Los Angeles (SSN 688) did up in Alaska:

Seven personnel practiced locking out from the attack submarine USS Los Angeles (SSN 688) and ascending to the surface wearing special suits that are designed to enable a free ascent from a stricken submarine Dec. 2 during ESCAPEX at the Navy’s Southeast Alaska Acoustic Measurement Facility in Ketchikan, Alaska...
...The MK10 Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment, or SEIE, allows survivors to escape a disabled submarine at depths down to 600 feet, at a rate of eight or more men per hour. It is designed to enable a free ascent from a stricken submarine and provides protection for the submariner on reaching the surface until rescued. The assembly is comprised of a submarine escape and immersion suit, an inner thermal liner and a gas inflated single seat life raft, all contained in an outer protective stowage compartment.
For the exercise, Los Angeles embarked six U.S. Navy divers, as well as a British diver from the Royal Navy. The submarine submerged to 130 feet, where each of the seven divers donned the SEIE suits, entered the escape trunk, and ascended.
Chief Navy Diver (DSW/SW) Sean Daoust, a submarine escape instructor at the Naval Submarine School in Groton, Conn., was the first to ascend. Daoust said he was honored to be the first to escape from a U.S. nuclear-powered submarine, and couldn’t wait to return to his students with his firsthand knowledge...
...After Daoust, there were three tandem escapes. Los Angeles crew member Fire Control Technician 2nd Class (SS) Gary Halsey was one of the Sailors given the chance to participate in a tandem escape. While thrilled at the experience, Halsey also said it was reassuring to know that the escape system works.
Pictures from the exercise are here and here. The last one shows FT2(SS) Halsey reaching the surface while wearing his Submarine Escape and Immersion Equipment, pictured below:

It looks a lot more useful than the old Steinke hoods (pictured here). I admit that I'm one of those who thought that escape training was kind of a waste of time, and useful only for making our womenfolk feel better. (Plus, I was part of the generation of submariners that never got to go through an Escape Tower; all we had was the escape trainer in a pool. In a couple years, though, they're going to have a brand-new one in Groton.)

Here's what concerned me -- you know how everyone knew about the "golden needle" the Doc would have to use on you before you ascended? What if only the Engine Room was unflooded, and the Doc wasn't back there? Would you trust some MMC(SS) with anything sharp anywhere near your eardrum right before getting into the Escape Trunk? I certainly wouldn't. I always figured that if I ended up in that situation, I'd stay with the boat until the DSRV arrived.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Weblog Awards 2006: The Finalists Are Announced

The announcement of finalists just came out for the 2006 Weblog Awards, and it looks like some of my favorite blogs made the list: BlameBush!, CDR Salamander, EagleSpeak, and... me!

I can assure you that I'll run a dignified campaign -- something you won't be able to expect from my competition for the coveted "Best of the Top 2501-3500 Blogs" category (most of whom are probably jihadi sympathizers).

The 2006 Weblog Awards

The Guy's An Idiot!

I always figured that former submariner Ariel Weinmann had to be a few clowns short of a circus, but reading this article about his testimony at his court-martial today convinced me he's dumb enough that he'll be continually fooled by the "would you be willing to hide my pickle?" trick at Leavenworth for most of the rest of his life. Excerpts:
After fleeing the Navy in summer 2005, Weinmann first thought he would try to get asylum in Austria by exchanging classified biographical information and weapons systems manuals. After dropping that plan, he approached the embassy and offered a three-ring binder of secret military data, he told the court.
The embassy was identified in court only as belonging to “Country X.” A Pentagon source who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed that the country was Russia.
“This was just a cold approach on your part? You just rang the bell?” asked the military judge, Capt. Daniel O’Toole.
“Yes, sir,” Weinmann answered.
He rented an apartment in Vienna with a German citizen, who was not fully identified, and was planning to trade the classified information, including the biographies of unidentified military employees, for expedited asylum, he admitted.
The information, which Weinmann downloaded from the military’s Secret Internet Protocol Network before leaving the sub, contained nicknames and childhood pets which “could tip people off that they were in contact with American intelligence,” he said...
...But the German citizen “laughed at me” after seeing the information in August 2005, he said.
“That’s why I didn’t do anything further,” Weinmann said.
That October, he buzzed the foreign embassy in Vienna and met with “a member of the state department of Country X,” Weinmann said. In a reception room, Weinmann handed over the binder full of secrets. He did not say what, if anything, he received in return.
Asked the purpose, he said, “I had reason to believe it would aid Country X.”
He said he had previously made friends with people from “Country X” and decided that was where he wanted to live.
Unfortunately, their are a lot of kids out there who don't have any idea about how the world works -- most of them are seen at "Kucinich for President" rallies and other such places. Very few of them have the discipline needed to get their dolphins. Luckily, though, whenever someone is convicted at a court-martial like this, they also get their submarine qualifications removed and aren't allowed to wear their dolphins anymore. This guys will have a lot of time to think about it while he's biting his pillow over the next several decades.

Update 1750 06 Dec: Twelve years?!? Twelve freakin' years?!? And the possibility of parole in four? Either the Navy didn't have as strong a case against him as they let on, or someone screwed up on some legal technicality, or maybe someone just decided that he really is just a poor naïve goober who didn't really understand what he was doing. I guess I should wait to hear what really happened, but for now, I find myself hoping the prosecutors get really bad fitreps for screwin' the pooch on this one.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Two Trapped Underwater In Australian Submarine Rescue Vehicle

Update 2236 04 Dec: The men have been rescued.

Breaking news from Australia:
THE Australian navy is standing by to help rescue two people aboard a civilian submarine rescue craft stranded on the ocean floor off the West Australian coast.
An Australian Submarine Rescue Vehicle (ASRV) ran into difficulty about midnight when the winching system failed as it was being recovered during certification trials.
The Australian Defence Force says the two personnel aboard the vessel, called the Remora, were in no danger.
The Remora, operated by the civilian diving contractor Caldive, was lowered, in accordance with safety procedures, to the sea bed and was currently sitting in 130 metres of water.
The two people aboard remain connected to the mother ship, Motor Vessel Seahorse Standard, by a secondary cable which gives them power and allows them to communicate with the vessel.
It may be able to be used for lifting the Remora in an emergency.
The Australian Defence Force (ADF) says the frigate HMAS ANZAC, navy clearance divers and medical personnel were standing by to help Caldive if needed.
"The current weather conditions preclude a controlled recovery of the ASRV at this time, but an emergency option remains available if required," ADF said in a statement.
Caldive is currently developing a rescue plan with help from the Royal Australian Navy...
...But it was taking part in a navy submarine escape exercise in the Western Australian exercise areas at the time of the incident.
Here's a picture of the Remora:

Caldive appears to be a subsidiary of Helix. For now, it looks like the situation is well in hand.

Staying at PD...

Update 2210 04 Dec: It looks like the Remora and M/V Seahorse Standard are frequently used for sea trials and submarine rescue exercises. There are many pictures of the Remora here and here, one of which shows her on her support ship.

The last coastal warning for the Seahorse Standard was from 21 Nov, which said:


The Sunday Times has this article discussing the capabilities of the Remora.

Here's the ISMERLO (International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office) homepage, which might have some updates if any international forces are needed.

Update 2236 04 Dec: The men have been rescued:

TWO man are safe and unhurt after their submarine rescue craft because stranded on the ocean floor off the West Australian coast.
The Australian Submarine Rescue Vehicle (ASRV) was carrying out certification training 40km north of Rottnest Island when one of the two cables in its winching system failed overnight.
The craft was lowered 130 metres to the sea floor as a safety measure while a rescue plan was worked out.
Commander of the Submarine Force Elements Group, Commodore Richard Shalders, said the men were rescued at 12.50pm (WDT), after the pod was lifted to 15 metres below the surface.
"The two divers were brought out of the pod, assisted by some divers from the surface, at about 15 metres below the surface,'' he said.
"They were given assistance with scuba tanks from below the water.''
The men were uninjured but receiving medical attention on HMAS ANZAC, he said.
This has been a test of the submarine blogger "Breaking Submarine News Response" service. Had this been an actual submarine-related story that took more than an hour or so to happily resolve, this blog, as well as the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More, would have been your most reliable sources to explain what the media was trying to say. We now return you to your normally-scheduled submarine blonde joke:

"How do you flood a submarine full of blondes?"

"Knock on the door."

Update 2220 06 Dec: As some commenters have mentioned, the Remora ended up parting her cable and going to the bottom after the crew was rescued. Here's a story about plans to recover the mini-sub.