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, May 15, 2008

Controlling The Flow Of Information

I was watching the post-game show after a basketball game the other night, and seeing Magic Johnson reminded me of how surprised all of us were when we heard, while underway on USS Topeka in 1991, about how he'd been infected with HIV. Submariners won't be surprised to learn that a fairly good portion of the crew didn't believe the news until they had it confirmed when we pulled into port.

I'm not sure if they still do it (since most boats have Internet access at PD) but the only way submariners on station used to get news about the outside world was through whatever news and sports the radiomen at the transmitting stations happened to put on the broadcast. If your RMs happened to download it and print it out, you'd have some idea of what was going on in the outside world. If, however, your RMs were feeling mischievous, you'd end up with fake news that they'd attach to the regular news reports. This had happened enough that most of the Lakers fans on Topeka were convinced the RMs from the Boston area were just trying to spin them up.

While the RMs were the only ones who could really mess with fake News and Sports, other people could mess with things like regular messages. We were on station on Topeka the next year when the results of the Lieutenant promotion board came out. Since we were busy, all the unimportant traffic was being screened off our broadcast, but the SubGru we were working for sent a short message with the names of all of us who had been selected. It was an easy matter to reprint the message with the name of the one officer who was asleep deleted, and leave it on the wardroom table for him to see when he woke up. Hilarity ensued!

What's your favorite fake news/messing with messages from your time at sea?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

E-Mail at pd. I assume there is a set of rules. ie a limit on how many how long and priority, like the baby is here.

I would hope that the boat doesn't allow outbound traffic.

5/15/2008 10:17 AM

Blogger Rick said...

It was easier for us skimmer pukes. During PACEX-89, there were a lot of my SWOS classmates scattered throughout the formation. The volume of "unofficial" flashing light traffic was unbelievable. Things like: "Dude, first beer in Olongapo is on me!"

Getting called to the signal bridge on Enterprise was a bit awkward for the nukes.

5/15/2008 11:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I left the sub force a few years ago. There was no limit on email, or if there was, it was a high enough limit that nobody ever encountered it to the best of my knowledge. I think it was routed through squadron and incoming and outgoing email was screened for the usual (no operational information, no "bad news"). Outgoing email is allowed. I was not an RM, so I am not speaking with complete authority on this, but I believe the ship had to transmit in order to receive and send email. If you were involved in a mission, the email (both incoming and outgoing)would be stored in a qeue until the ships operations allowed them to be safely transmitted. Basically, it was a much improved family gram, no limit on the number of family grams and no decisions about how you would divide your limited number of grams among family members. It was great for weekly ops because you could have frequent communication with people at home. I also thought it was much better for deployments, at least when you were not on mission. In fact, I was able to negotiate a set of orders with my detailer quite easily while I was on a WESTPAC. That would have been almost impossible to do back in the days of playing phone tag with your detailer during brief in-port visits. It's a great morale boost for the crew.


5/15/2008 12:13 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Persian Gulf 1986 on a Spruance class destroyer. We had a particular RM who loved Taco Bell food. Well another RM decided to play a joke on his buddy.

This RM was getting in the DOD news traffic and paused the teletype long enough to insert his own story about Taco Bell.

Basically it said something to the effect that: All 7000 Taco Bell stores nationwide remain closed while the FDA investigates the allegations that Taco Bell has been using cat food in their hamburger. He wrote it up so well that everyone thought is was for real, including the XO. When the XO found out otherwise, the RM and his Senior Chief were on the carpet in the XO's stateroom pretty quick being read the riot act about how if Pepsi Inc. (which owned Taco Bell) found out about this, they could sue big time.

Don't know if that RM1 ever made CPO or not.

5/15/2008 12:39 PM

Anonymous Anon E. Moose said...

During a WestPac we decided to run a NCAA tourney bracket.

The RMs colluded and rigged the entire tourney, with amazing upsets, realistic scores, everything. It held up until one RM had a perfect bracket going with some pretty gutsy upset pics.

5/15/2008 1:33 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone remember playing check poker witht the number on your paycheck? You know when they were 80 column punch cards with the notch at the top corner.

Heard about the filipino who won it a whole bunch of times? Turns out his brother worked in disbursing and his check numbers were always out of sequence with ours.

5/15/2008 2:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1969 August-September. On Polaris patrol out of the Loch in the Norwegian Sea gyre. Neil Armstrong had just landed on the moon. In with the press we copied were occasional mention of finding life on the moon. Moon worms.Being studied in government labs. Various scientific reports of the nature of these creatures, likely life cycle, etc. Last press mention as we came off patrol: "Has been determined that these moon worms have a single purpose: to catch gullible submariners."

Perpetrator was the Engineer, in cahoots with the XO and a radioman. Engineer went on to command NAUTILUS and two stars.

Crew fell for it ... hook, line, & sinker. JOHN MARSHALL BLUE.

5/15/2008 3:30 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Classic FamilyGram that got through the Pecksniffs at CSL: "Curly and the twins miss you." Really happened, circa 1970.

5/15/2008 3:33 PM

Anonymous l-t said...

Believe it or not, they got me while I was on SHORE DUTY. That's right, gullible LT, right?

I have several friends at CSL, one who is "influential" on the watch floor. Apparently they got together and rigged a message that wasn't sent to my command out here in Bangor listing all of the officers to report to their next boat for DH duty. I wasn't a year in, and there was my name in the middle of the list of guys leaving SOAC to head back to sea. They sent this fakie to a friend of mine serving in DC, who sent it to a guy stand watch on the CSP watch floor, and he forwarded it to me saying, "Dude, I thought you were punching out?" Three navy commands and a joint force all colluding against me.

Rat bastards, all of them. Here's a beer to ya!

5/15/2008 3:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Long story short, an officer formerly on the boat was now in a position to originate some of the routine traffic to the boat. Allegedly established a "code phrase" to warn us if a surprise ORSE was coming. I think you can see where this one is going.

We did a lot of drilling and killing the end of that run. Didn't happen.

5/15/2008 7:20 PM

Blogger Lou said...

Best FlailEx ever: We were working up for our TRE , and the Blue crew's new XO got confused and sent out to us "Good luck on ORSE."

5/15/2008 7:43 PM

Blogger Free The Nucs said...

When we got a newsgram saying the ground war in Iraq was over just 15 days after it started, we thought for sure it was fake. All we got to see first hand was the post-game wrap up when we returned to port.

5/15/2008 7:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Was on Drum in the San Diego waterfront early to mid 90's...
Were pulling into port from Westpac while OJ was being chased in the white Bronco... Rm's were scrambling to keep up the news... I only served on two boats out of SD and all of our news was taped to the bulkhead prior to entering crews mess at least on the 637 boat.. I'll never forget it...Best part of the story is the glove didn't fit so he walked..

5/16/2008 1:20 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Best Familygram seen on the boomer broadcast: "Red river flowing, no need to worry"

5/16/2008 7:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Back in the day, one of the submarine squadron commanders in the Groton area was universally detested. While riding one of "his" boats during an inpsection, he reportedly complained that he wasn't going to make flag because he didn't have any friends in Washington, which was partly true (he didn't have any friends, period). Still at sea later that week, a message appeared on the boards telling him to call his detailer about taking orders as the Commandant of Midshipmen at the Naval Academy--an almost surefire promotion gig. It seems the message turned out to be a fake, but that gag was still being talked about months later, especially when he retired as an O-6.

5/16/2008 7:39 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Radioman here to explain email. All incoming and outgoing email passed through a program that is in Radio that scans all messages for key words and tricky phrases. All email that is flagged goes to the COB and CO to determine if that email can be sent and/or received. This is how it was done on my boat and there are exact or very similar procedures on other boats.

5/16/2008 9:34 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While on the Drum (78-81) I used to type up "bunk news" on the yellow teletype paper we used in Radio. I made up a story once about a riot breaking out having to do with disco and some of the crew actually believed it. I made it look like we dropped sync at times so sometimes the stories were incomplete, on purpose...never had a problem with command and it was posted on the ML Ops Bulletin Board.


5/16/2008 11:56 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I remember hearing a story once of a shore tour guy sending an prank ALNAV out...can anyone provide the details

5/16/2008 3:14 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

One patrol we received about twice as many submarine movement messages as were actually sent. All of the fakes were sizable extensions. It got so bad that no one could keep track of when we were really going home. We ended up getting extended the night before we were supposed to pull in. No one believed it until the next morning.

5/16/2008 7:18 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll try and be polite on this, but had a EM trying to get his wife in the family way just before a long U/W. as the HM I ordered some tests but didn't get the results. I emailed the squadron HM for the results and he sent out the results for me. I was able with the assistance of the RM to change the email to say his boys were not as athletic as he thought. This of course caused much grief on his part and joy for us. That is until his email to his wife was almost sent off. Luckily it was caught and held. My wife let his wife in on the joke so more fun was had on RTP.

5/16/2008 7:34 PM

Anonymous Mike said...

O4 Board came out. We are on specop. Squadron sends congrats to eng and nav for making O4 while leaving me, Weps off. CO calls me up to tell me I didn't make it. Weeks later we pull in. Not another peep came over about the board. I am with forward line handlers, Squadron CO comes across brow to me and apologizes for his fubar comms staff for not having my name on list. I really had a lot of respect for that guy, before and that incident really cemented that feeling.

5/18/2008 4:32 AM

Anonymous Rich said...

As a former RM (SS), force converted to an ET, currently serving in the desert. I can personally vouch for a story of our COB, as being indited on charges of fraud and racketeering and in collusion with a ambling ring, and could not be found (we were on westpac) This was too funny because the COB was a Vegas high Roller.

Also when we got our 3rd extension on station, the CO laughed and said that I had pulled a good joke, to which I replied, "Sir, I could never joke about this to YOU!" and then had to go to great lengths to prove it was an authentic message.

After the COB thing the XO was very adament that news and sports was not tampered with. It was OH SO Tempting at times thoug.

5/18/2008 1:40 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

re Prank Alnav:

It was 90/91ish, and called the "Babe Alnav"

Post tailhook, there was still some sexual harasment tension. One lt would call civilian girls "Babe" and officers lt, cdr, etc. One Lt was upset that she wasn't called "Babe." So the shore guy wrote an Alnav officially designating her a "Babe," gave a lot of details, guidance, etc.

Used correctly, the WWMCS terminal can route a draft message to the printer with appropriate headers os that it looks like a delivered message. Used incorrectly, the draft message gets routed thru autodin.

His prank message was routed thru autodin.

Everything was fine till DC called to ask what was going on. That is when it was discovered the terminal was used incorrectly.

Those commands that ignored the original alnav got a chance to check it out got another chance to look at it when our hapless Lt had to send an Alnav CANX.

For a while, it was posted in Bethesda Naval Hospital.

5/19/2008 5:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Re: "Babe ALNAV"
An hour or two after the ALNAV and the CANCEL REF A, my Ops boss appeared to tell me that he was extremely upset with the whole business--"XO, this just isn't right!"--and hand me a message to release.

I was thinking how to calm him when he went on, "Darnit, if LT C******** C**** can be a designated babe, I can be a designated hunk." And his draft, designating himself as such, was absolutely hilarious.

Will have to see if I can dig those two messages out of the archives...

Bill the Shoe

5/19/2008 9:49 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Apologies to all, but I was a rider.

Our ct/rm mafia on the specop ran out of useful things to do, and found that news can be fun. This was in the 80's on LA class boat not to be named.

In any event, we found out where the most gullible crew members were from and then destroyed small towns adjacent to their homes with tornadoes. NOBODY killed, but towns leveled. XO was in on it, thought it was funny. NO harm done.

Until we pranked the skipper by accident. XO was supposed to tell him joke. During a 4 day period we had a SEAL team capture Arafat, take him to England and Lady Thatcher personally interrogated him. CO was livid we didn't get the tasking. Had msg ready to go to the boys with stars.

WE had to come clean. Strangely, nobody talked to us for a week after our confession. Fortunately kept stripes.

Never did that again.

5/20/2008 12:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is a another "RM was getting in the DOD news traffic and paused the teletype long enough to insert his own story" story. This time it was about the Green Bay Packers.

One of the TMs on my boat (SSN 751) was a die hard Green Bay fan. His heart sank and he was depressed for two weeks until someone let him in on the gag.

A story was inserted indicating that the Green Bay Packers were no more. The city could no longer afford the team and no buyer came forward.

5/28/2008 8:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CSL was testing a new system on my boat when they caught the two Virginia sniper shooters. We were WATCHING Foxnews live when they did.

A few years prior, we thought they were lying when they printed out Princess Diana dead. Another hard to believe story underway:
Dale Earnhadt winning the Daytona 500..we were on med patrol.

6/02/2008 6:42 AM


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