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

Friday, October 31, 2008

Which Presidential Candidate Would Be Better For The Submarine Force?

By this time, most people have decided who they're going to support for President on Tuesday. There are probably very few people who vote on the single issue of "Which candidate would be better for the Submarine Force and Submariners in general", but just in case there are some, I figured I'd list what I see as the advantages and disadvantages of each.

Sen. McCain is the first career Navy officer to gain a major party nomination for President, so we can assume that he'll know more about how the Navy really works, including submarines. Of course, he was an airdale, so we don't know if his support for the Navy goes beyond supporting Naval aviation. I would think that he would have a special place in his heart for submarines, though, because his father commanded two submarines -- USS Gunnel (SS 253) and USS Dentuda (SS 355) -- during WWII, taking both on combat patrols. Sen. McCain has submarining in his blood. Plus, we know he supports Navy nuclear power. As someone who understands the military, he'll be more likely to let submarines do what they're capable of doing in support of the Global War on Terror.

Sen. Obama, on the other hand, hasn't really said anything about submarines -- other than refusing to comment about whether he thinks submarines should have been included in the recently announced arms sale to Taiwan. As a general rule, Democrats have been better during the Naughties about trying to get the SSN build rate increased to 2 submarines per year -- not because they love what submarines do, but because they're mostly built and maintained in states with strongly Democratic congressional delegations. I expect that Sen. Obama would, as President, be eager to show (at least during his first term) that he's not really anti-military, so he'll look for some areas where he can increase defense spending while helping his congressional allies, and submarines are a good place to start. Democrats have also made a big deal out of supporting veterans with increased money, because that's another way they can show "support" for the military without actually having to support what the people at the end of the spear are really doing; this would make life easier for those of us who get veteran's benefits.

As far as how Sen. Obama would react upon learning about what submarines really do, I worry that he'll have the same knee-jerk reaction shown by the newly-elected President Clinton after the 1993 collision between USS Grayling (SSN 646) and RFS Novomoskovsk (K 407). I'm afraid Sen. Obama, who has likely never had a briefing on what submarines are doing in the real world, will get all lawyer-y and peacenik-y and unilaterally remove some of our capabilities from the board once he finds out about them.

Overall, I think that Sen. McCain would be better from the point of view of the U.S. Submarine Force; as I said, though, I think there are very few people who are casting their vote based on this. I look forward to hearing your ideas on who you think would be the better President for the Sub Force -- hopefully without resorting to personal name-calling. After all, when it's all said and done, we really are all on the same side.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Bill Sali: Right And Wrong

Congressman Bill Sali continues to make news as he blunders towards the vote on Tuesday. First of all, I wanted to say that I agree with Congressman Sali that the Idaho Democratic Party was way out of bounds in failing to black out his and his wife's SSNs when they sent out a mailer about years-old delinquent bills. Idaho Democratic Party Chairman Jim Hansen should apologize to Congressman and Mrs. Sali.

That being said, Congressman Sali should apologize for a very misleading ad that takes a Walt Minnick answer on a questionaire from 1996 where he said he supported no changes in income tax levels and makes the claim that this means he supports higher taxes on the middle class now; in fact, Minnick supports a middle class tax cut.

And while he's at it, Mr. Sali should apologize for his staff's horrendous spelling. Check out this post on Sali's blog: remember, young Sali staffer, who almost certainly supports making English the "official" language: it's "Devastating Consequences", not "Devistating Consiquences". Also, the post is completely misleading anyway, because actually Walt Minnick doesn't support breaching the dams. That's probably why you didn't link to anything in the post; you didn't want people to know you were taking everything out of context.

Update 1558 30 October: I left a comment over at the blog post with the bad spelling; I knew they wouldn't post it, but I liked the young man who wrote the post when a met him a couple of weeks back, so I wanted to let him know so he could correct the spelling -- assuming that he'd so the right thing by the unspoken rules of the blogosphere and acknowledge a correction after it'd been brought to his attention. Well, the spellings were corrected, but no acknowledgement of the error was made. Just so people don't think I was making stuff up, here's a screenshot of the original post before editing:

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Autumn Colors Are Pretty

The young maple tree in front of our house is looking especially beautiful this fall:

Oh, yeah... we also have our tacky Halloween yard inflatables up. Bubblehead: Driving down neighboring property values during the late year holiday seasons since 2004.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Russian Akula-II On Sea Trials, Bound For India?

A Russian SSN originally laid down in 1991 is out on sea trials in the Sea of Japan, according to Russian media reports. Interestingly, it looks like the attack sub might be headed for India:
Indian media have reported on various occasions that the construction of the submarine was partially financed by the Indian government. India has reportedly paid $650 million for a 10-year lease of the 12,000-ton submarine.
According to Indian defense sources, Nerpa is expected to join the Indian navy under the designation INS Chakra in the second half of 2009.
The submarine will not be equipped with long-range cruise missiles due to international restrictions on missile technology proliferation, but India may later opt to fit it with domestically designed long-range nuclear-capable missiles.
However, a spokesman for the Amur shipyard earlier said that Nerpa differed considerably from the previous Akula-class submarines.
"Our Nerpa is fitted with more sophisticated navigation, sonar, and hydraulic systems," he said.
Russian state officials have categorically denied reports of a possible lease of a nuclear submarine to India.
Asked in late September to comment on media reports on alleged plans to export nuclear submarines, in particular to India, Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov said: "The press discusses lots of things. We do not export nuclear submarines."
India previously leased a Charlie I class nuclear submarine from the Soviet Union from 1988 to 1991.
I tend to believe Indian sources more than the Russian Defense Minister, so it's likely the sub is headed to India. This is especially interesting considering the recent report about the current troubles being faced by India's diesel submarine fleet. This brings up a good question for debate: is it better for a non-superpower to go for a smaller nuclear submarine fleet, or put their money into more diesel boats? My guess is that either is a good option for navies of limited means, but trying to go for both ends up with both the nuclear and non-nuclear sides of the sub fleet short-changed. Brazil also seems to be trying to "go nuclear" while still looking to increase her diesel fleet; of course, they have oil money to help in the funding. In all cases, I expect that any "third world" country that goes the nuclear route will have to rely on their supplier for specialized nuclear submarine maintenance requirements; this will continue to give the big powers significant input into how said SSNs are used -- if they don't like what they're going to do with it, they'll threaten to withhold support.

Political Desperation Is Funny

Now that all the "big" newspapers here in western Idaho have finished their endorsements in the race for the 1st District Congressional seat, I find myself amused to watch Bill Sali's attempt to get at least something out of the newspaper endorsement process -- considering he got no newspaper endorsements at all. He's reduced to picking selected quotes out of the Idaho Press-Tribune's non-endorsement of either candidate; not surprisingly, he doesn't include a link to the article in question, since it contains some interesting statements about Congressman Sali:
This editorial board tends to see eye-to-eye with Sali’s positions on matters of public policy. His desire for limited government and heavily controlled federal spending rings well in the western Treasure Valley. And as we made clear two years ago, a candidate with his views could easily win an endorsement in our conservative area.
On the other hand, his combative nature, personal conduct and character remain concerns even with nearly two years of service under his belt.
His ethically debatable decision to employ a full-time congressional office staffer as his campaign spokesman, his attempt to get third-party or independent candidates to step out of the U.S. Senate race, and his sloppy campaign finance filings are all reasons to think twice before casting a Sali vote.
Maybe his staff just doesn't know how to put hyperlinks into an article on a web page. Even this post that tells readers to "click here" twice somehow doesn't include actual links.

I guess that's why most voters here in the 1st District are leaning towards voting for Walt Minnick in 8 days.


Friday, October 24, 2008

PCU New Hampshire Commissioning Tomorrow

PCU New Hampshire (SSN 778) will officially put on the "USS" tag with her commissioning Saturday at Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. Some logistics information is here for those planning to attend; for those who can't make it, you'll be able to view a simulcast here starting at 1000 EDT tomorrow (opens your media player).

As with all ceremonies of this nature, the crew has to practice. Here's a photo of the "manning the rails" walk-through:

Other photos of the lead-up to the ceremony can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Update 0900 26 October: The New London Day has a report on the commissioning that includes a photo gallery and a discussion of Virginia-class submarine construction timelines. They mention that this is the first year since 1996 that two SSNs were commissioned in the same year. [As you remember, USS North Carolina (SSN 777) was commissioned in May.]

Update 1332 28 October: Here's the Navy website report on the commissioning, with its own photo gallery and a link to a short video report on the commissioning ceremony.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

New Walt Minnick YouTube Ad Features Local Retired Submarine Officer

Check this out:

Anyone other than me think their voice sounds a lot different when you hear it on a recording than it does when you hear yourself speaking?

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Submarine Action Picture

Good "action" shots of submarines are fairly rare; usually, the best you'll see is a submarine pulling into port -- like this photo of PCU New Hampshire (SSN 778) pulling into PNSY ahead of her commissioning this weekend.

That's why I like this shot of USS Hampton (SSN 767), taken last week as she submerged following her departure on WestPac:

Looks like a good dive; the front two sets of MBT vents are already underwater. Do any of you have any stories about diving evolutions that didn't work out so well?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

New "Hey, Shipwreck" Episode

Is it a good deal or a bad deal to pull duty the day you get back from deployment? And what's the best combination of junk food and drink to use to stay awake through the midwatch? Ponder those questions and more as you check out the long-awaited third episode of the 2nd season of "Hey, Shipwreck":

For those wondering why it's been taking so long between episodes this season, series creator Pat Hrabe explains why in his blog.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Absurdity In Poster Form

Like all guys, I really like Demotivational Posters with funny pictures and sayings highlighting some absurdity of the human condition. (Many examples can be found here.) This one is my current favorite:

A reader sent in a new one making the rounds that reminds me of the carrier deployment I did in 2000 when we were on the great circle route from San Diego to Japan that takes you a couple hundred miles south of the Aleutians:

On that deployment with the Stennis Battle Group, I remember the carrier shuddering from the waves crashing against the bow, and just imagined how the guys on the frigate accompanying us were doing. The submarine that was transiting with us sent a message to the Admiral in command of the battle group that the waters were nice and calm at 400 ft, and wondered if he wanted to transfer his flag...

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Bill Sali Tells Untruths About Idaho's Military Heritage

In a profile of Congressman Bill Sali in the Idaho Statesman today I was surprised to read this little tidbit:
Sali was born in Portsmouth, Ohio, where his father, Gregory, a nuclear physicist, was working on nuclear defense projects. The Salis soon moved to Windsor Locks, Conn., where his father worked on the first nuclear submarine prototype.
Concerned the Soviets were stealing his designs, the Canadian immigrant decided to give up his trade and start over in Idaho in 1962, when the future congressman was 8, Sali said. Even though his father spoke German as a child, he learned English, one of the reasons Sali wants to make English the official language of the nation.
I would have to assume that the reporter who wrote the story didn't make up the part about Windsor Locks having the "first" nuclear submarine prototype, so one could reasonably assume that he heard that from Mr. Sali. Unless his father was commuting from Connecticut to Idaho Falls, there's no way he could have worked on the "first" submarine prototype, since that is right here in Idaho -- the S1W land-based prototype for the USS Nautilus (SSN 571), which reached criticality before Bill Sali was born (and therefore before his family moved from Ohio to Connecticut). The only prototype in Windsor Falls, CT, was the S1C reactor for the electric-drive USS Tullibee (SSN 597).

I'm sure Bill Sali "remembers" his father telling him he worked at the first submarine prototype, and I know people are eager to believe everything their father tells them. After a while, though, people need to look for actual facts, and it seems like a Congressman from Idaho should be aware that the first land-based submarine prototype is in this great state. Of course, most Congressman are probably a lot more interested in at least trying to understand the military than Bill Sali apparently is. Since Sali's opponent, Walt Minnick, actually served in the military, western Idahoans have a chance to actually elect a Congressman next month who does know the military and its culture.

Update 0821 20 October: The error's been corrected in the online version of the story.

Friday, October 17, 2008

USS Ohio Visits Yokosuka

USS Ohio (SSGN 726) pulled into Yokosuka yesterday for a port visit, just over a year after she left Bangor on her maiden SSGN deployment. Here's a picture of her piloting into Yoko:

Anyone know if the officer Sanctuary is still open at the base?

Earlier this month, the crew of USS Ohio did a burial at sea in the Philippine Sea (here and here). Here's some more information on the Dry Deck Shelters you see aft of her sail, and Galrahn had some comments on her capabilities when she deployed last year.

Based on the fact that the Ohio is quite a ways from the Arabian Sea, it looks like we won't be attacking Iran before the election. I know all the conspiracy theorists out there will be bummed...

Messin' With Drill Monitors

I had this great idea for a post about the never-ending battle between Drill Monitors and watchstanders aboard submarines. Whenever I come up with an idea for a post, I do a quick search of my blog to see if I've already done it (my memory's not quite what it used to be, and, to be honest, I've just about run out of humorous sea stories that aren't classified); in this case, I already had written this post, back in 2005. It's still a good concept, though, so I'm reposting most of it:

-- On the last planned drill before ORSE on the good ship Topeka, we decided to get back at the drill monitors. We got ahold of a drill radio, set it to "VOX", and stuck it on a running HPAC. They ended up securing from the drill because none of the monitors could talk to each other. A win for the little guys! The EDEA was not amused...

-- I was hanging around in the wardroom with another JO, waiting for some forward drills to start. We had a couple of the rotating flashing lights that we use for fire simulation in the pantry for some reason, so my buddy puts them on the wardroom table and turns them on; we think it looks like the top of a police car (it seemed really funny at the time). Suddenly, we hear over the wardroom 4MC white rat: "Fire in the wardroom", and we had to run up to control to get them to secure from the "drill". The XO was not amused...

-- Back aft during a fire drill from hell, we had a huge cluster of people gathered in ERML. Not many EAB connections there, so there were about five guys in a row buddy-clipped onto this one fairly new guy. (For those not familiar with EABS, here's a picture of some being worn. They're "Emergency Air Breathing" masks that you hook up to connections that run fresh breathing air under pressure throughout the ship -- a necessity in case of a fire. When you're wearing one correctly, the only way you breathe is if you're plugged in; you hold your breath going from plug to plug. Each hose has a "buddy-clip" that someone else can plug into near the regulator.)
Anyway, this new guy decided to head up into upper level (this is on an LA-class boat) and doesn't realize he's got all these people plugged into him. He unplugs, starts to head up the ladder, and gets tugged back by the person connected to him. He realizes what's happening, and goes to plug back in, but a new arrival has taken the EAB plug he just abandoned. He looks around for a buddy-clip, and sees one; plugs in, tries to take a deep breath, and... you guessed it. He had plugged into the last guy in the row of people plugged into him. (It's a phenomenon known as "recircing your breathing air"). I laughed my ass off. The five victims were not amused...

-- One day, as Engineer, I found in my inbox a proposed drill guide from the off-going duty section. Apparently they had a shoot-the-sh*t in Maneuvering about spontaneous combustion, and one of them came up with an idea for the ultimate "Screaming Alpha" fire drill. The drill guide was in the correct format, and was titled "Fire in the Reactor Operator". It had possible alternate courses of action like "If desired, the fire may spread to the Throttleman". I pretended not to be amused...

-- Standing EOOW, I had the following 2JV exchange with an off-watch EM:
"Request permission to run a drill in Engine Room Middle Level"
"What kind of drill?"
"An electrical drill"
"Report to Maneuvering"

Thirty seconds later, he ''Christmas-dinner''ed, a power drill in hand...

Let's hear some of your favorite drill memories...

Submariners Taking Over Royal Navy

With the promotion of Admiral Mark Stanhope to First Sea Lord and Vice Admiral Trevor Soar to Stanhope's previous position of CinC Fleet, Submariners will have completed their takeover of the top spots in the Royal Navy as of next July.

We're expecting great things from the Royal Navy.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Bubblehead The (Politicial) Journalist

Fresh on the heels of my widely-praised first foray into citizen-journalism (when I covered the opening of the Locust Grove overpass over I-84 last year), I decided to expand my horizons and join the monolithic and impersonal MSM in covering a local political event. Here's a timeline of what happened next:

- 2300, 15 October: I noticed a post over at submariner Dale's blog that said that the Veterans for Sali (who I blogged about last week) would be having a press conference in Garden City at 1000 the next day. I checked out the link to the videos the Sali campaign had posted about the group, and found a questionable statement about 40 seconds into one of them:

For those who didn't watch it, 14-year Army veteran Mark says that he "served eight years of the time under Bill Clinton without one pay raise...". Since I distinctly remember getting annual raises during the Clinton years, along with fogeys (longevity pay increases) every two years, my keen journalistic insights convinced me that this statement was demonstrably untrue. I also knew that the Sali camp loves joking around with people from the opposing campaign, so I knew they wouldn't mind a little good-natured ribbing by me of some of their supporters. So as to be well-rested for my new role as a Political Journalist, I went to bed about midnight.

- 0900, 16 October: "Hey, are you going to sleep the whole day?" I hear from my wife. Oops! (In my defense, I'm just coming off of night shift where I sleep only 3-4 hours a day during the work week, and I needed an equalizer.) A quick shower and a review of directions to the press conference, and I'm out the door. Forgot to bring any paper to write stuff down on, but I have a keyboard on my phone, so I'm covered.

- 1000, 16 October: I arrived at the site of the press conference -- Pastry Perfection on Glenwood Street. Undistracted by the really good smell, I looked around for my fellow journalists; Unfortunately, I was the first one there, so I had no idea what to do. Some of the members of the Veterans for Sali group came up to check me out; I was in my "Retired Navy" hat, so they thought I might be one of them. No, I told them, I'm a Citizen-Journalist in the Noble Traditions of the Pamphleteers of the American Revolution. (It sounds a lot better than "blogger".) They seemed confused, but welcomed me anyway. I stood around until the rest of the press arrived: Ysabel Bilbao from Channel 7, and Lincoln Graves from Channel 6 were to be my peers today! (Actually, they were both way more professional and personable than me, in addition to being a lot more attractive. Neither looks like they've ever had a pimple in their life; I, on the other hand, look like some sort of toad. Not that I was intimidated -- I can Speak Truth to Power since I wasn't a pawn of the Corporate Media like they were!)

The camera got set up, and the co-chair of Veterans for Sali, retired Major General Ben Doty, made some remarks, followed by Ada County Republican Chair Marcel Bujarkski. Everyone sat down and the TV reporter went to talk to some of the members, but the Press wasn't done yet! I raised my hand, and began my hard-hitting journalism. I told General Doty about the video mentioned above (he is in it, and was there during the filming), and asked him if it's true that the military got no raises during the Clinton Administration. He admitted that this isn't the case; another Veteran says that it was only the Republican Congress that made Clinton give out raises. I mentioned that we always got a raise of at least 2.2% during the 90s, even before the Republicans took over Congress in 1994. I then asked about all the Veterans listed on the website who were said to be "Retired", when clearly many of them weren't. General Doty once again admitted that there were several who weren't technically "retired".

As a Citizen Journalist, I know that "attack journalism" is an important part of the game, so I asked General Doty if he personally was going to vote for Bill Sali. (By the Investigative Journalistic technique of typing his name plus "boise, idaho" into Google, I figured out that he lived a couple of blocks outside of the 1st Congressional District; the district line essentially divides the Boise/Meridian metroplex in half.) Here's a transcript of what I remember happened next:

BH: "General Doty, will you personally vote for Bill Sali?"
GD: "I've already voted."
BH: "But did you vote for Bill Sali?"
GD: (voice rising, understandably, since I'm being a jerk) "I don't have to say who I voted for!"
BH: "Fair enough, since I know you live in the 2nd District. Show of hands, please -- how many people here actually live in the 1st District?"
(Several hands went up; one person says, "I used to live in the First District.")

As this is going on, one of the reporters was trying to get a mic back onto someone so they could pick up the exchange, but it ended before they were successful. After that, I sat down and talked to some of the Veterans while the camera crews got some crowd shots. Some said that what we got in the Clinton years weren't really "pay raises" since they were already required by law. Others said that anyone who had finished up their enlistment should be considered "retired".

The Sali campaign had a representative there, Noah Wall. He handled the unexpected intrusion of a Citizen Journalist well, and even gave me a copy of the press release. Afterwards, he made an official statement to the effect of: "The statements made by Veterans in the video in question were unscripted, and are their own opinions and not necessarily those of the Sali campaign. Also, any errors on the website (with respect to the "Retired" status of the members of Veterans for Sali) will be corrected as soon as possible."

Since I know that journalists traditionally print portions of press releases to get them up to their required word count, here's part of what the Veterans for Sali press release says:

A far-left group called “Patriot Majority West,” has launched misleading and dishonest attack-ad against Idaho Congressman Bill Sali. Patriot Majority West is attempting to deceive Idaho’s veterans and their families by blaming Sali for voting against flawed legislation.
“Bill Sali would never vote against our veterans – he voted against flawed legislation which would have in fact caused great harm to our troops,” said Major General Ben Doty (ret.).
Doty added, “this group calls itself the Patriot Majority but is criticizing Sali, a man who has always sided with us. They are trying to discredit an effective ally of those who have served our country.”
Matt Salisbury, Sali’s opponent in the primary is a member of Veterans for Sali. When asked about the attack-ad he responded in saying, “Bill Sali has been a firm supporter of our veterans. In Congress he has made the right votes and always made sure America’s heroes have received the help they need.”
The rest of the press release can be found here. Interestingly, the Minnick campaign put out a press release today where they point out that Salisbury was correct in questioning Sali's failure to vote for funding into research for traumatic brain injuries for servicepeople and veterans, so I guess Sali didn't always "make the right votes".

- 1045, 16 October: The intrepid Citizen Journalist leaves the press conference and drives south, following the Congressional District dividing line. He needs to pick up bananas and milk at Costco.

Update 2043 16 October: I just realized that I have a typo on "Political" in the title of this post; I guess that's why I'm only an amateur journalist. Some people have already linked to this post, however, so I can't change it without breaking their links. Feel free to give me crap in the comments.

"New" Submarine Blogger

I just found out that Tom at is a retired Submariner; as such, he's been added to my blogroll on the right, alongside many other fine bloggers, submarine and otherwise. Check out Tom's blog if you get a chance; here are some of his posts that mention submarines.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

It's Campaign Finance Report Time!

It's that time of year again... time for the next-to-last FEC filings before the election! OK, I know that, in most parts of the country, even thinking about this would put people to sleep. Here in Idaho's 1st Congressional District, though, it's a source of endless amusement as people ask, "Will Congressman Bill Sali's crack staff be able to file a complete, accurate, and timely report even one time before their jobs go away?"

Sali's opponent, Walt Minnick, is one of those people with a competent staff -- not much drama there; he got his report in yesterday. Congressman Bill Sali, though, has significant problems with following campaign "rules" and whatnot. His July 2008 report was 10 days late; the filing deadline for the October report is tonight at midnight. His report isn't in yet; the big question here is if he'll get the report that's due 10/15 accurately submitted before the next report is due on October 23rd.

Update 1548 15 Oct: I've gotta say I'm impressed; the Sali campaign turned their report in on time, with hours to spare. Now we'll have to see how it rates for "accuracy". Two minutes of searching found one error -- a minor typo where the "Rely on Your Beliefs Fund" is called the "Rely of Your Beliefs Fund". I picked it up because it doesn't make any sense, grammatically, the way the Sali campaign typed it. (And I don't even support making English the official language!) I'm sure you've heard of the Fund -- it's one that took contributions from a Jack Abramoff client at his request a while back.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Topic For Debate

Resolved: While I will give soon-to-be President Obama the respect due to the office as Commander-in-Chief after his inauguration, I reserve the right to disagree with certain of his policies without being considered a "racist".


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Submariners Are Famous!

We're so famous, we got mentioned in today's Pearls Before Swine, an excellent comic strip that runs in my daily paper. (Of course, it took an alert reader to turn me on to the strip, because I didn't make it to reading the funnies yet.) Here it is:

For those who are wondering what a different type of "controlled sub stance" might look like, here's a good video of it (bad word warning!) that I posted last year.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Not Sure If This Is Scary Or Amusing...

Check out this website for the "Idaho Citizens' Constitutional Militia"; it seems to be some guy trying to start up a black helicopter-opposing "militia" next year. Here are some excerpts from the site:
The Militia is in nature a purely defensive force and will take no aggressive action or recklessly plunge Idaho into war, but if events similar to Ruby Ridge should ever again occur in Idaho, our resolve to respond with force in kind cannot be doubted. We are the Army of the Lord, visiting His wrath on all those who would aggress the people of Idaho. By the grace of God, the ICCM will be a catalyst for peace by our commitment to oppose tyranny in all forms.
The ICCM may not be disarmed at any time, as the existance and maintenance of a fully armed militia is authorized by the Constitution and U.S. Code. The militia is therefore fully authorized to meet any attempt to disarm them with forceful resistance. All government agencies beware that the moment you attempt to disarm the Militia, you will be considered, and treated as, a lawless and illicit element.
The website goes on to say that the Militia is opposed to "hateful ideologies, racism, anti-zionism, or ideologies that seek to overthrow the government or use explosives or terrorist tactics to further a political objective", so that's something. On the other hand, it seems that they aren't interested in having any Muslims or Wiccans joining up.

So far the "Commanding Officer" is still looking for things like an XO, 1st Sergeant, and Lawyer, so it appears to just be in the planning stages right now. Maybe this commenter from over at "Free In Idaho" will be joining up.

Seriously, though, with the political divisions we're seeing in our country, I'm afraid this sort of thing is on the upswing. A lot of people I really respect believe that the government is going too far, and believe that a person is within their rights to violently oppose law officers coming onto their property to serve warrants. (Needless to say, I strongly disagree with this philosophy.) I just hope Idaho won't again become a gathering-place for those willing to put that belief into action.

A Submariner's Video "Scrapbook"

Submariner "herrwest" put up a nice 6 1/2 7 1/2 minute video that's a compilation of his career in submarines, with both still pictures and short video clips:

I think this kind of 21st-century scrapbook is a great way to personalize your career for family and friends. Has anyone else done something like this they'd be willing to share?

Update 1228 12 Oct: The video was lengthened slightly and re-posted with a new URL; the new link is included above.

Update 0808 13 Oct: The video was lengthened slightly again and re-posted (again) with a new URL; I updated the video link so it should still be watchable, but I'm not gonna chase it around anymore if he changes it again. What you'll hopefully get from this post is that making a video of your career could be a fun activity.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Not All Missile Launches Go As Planned

An oldie but a goodie...

I think this video is from back in 1989. While we've now had over 120 consecutive successful test launches of Trident D-5 missiles, we tend to forget that these are highly complex machines where things can go badly wrong if they're not designed and maintained almost flawlessly -- as the Russians have relearned with their new Bulava missile.

Do any of you have any stories of missile launches that didn't work out as planned?

"Veterans For Sali" Group Seems To Underscore Bill Sali's Failure To Understand The Military

My Congressman, Bill Sali, recently announced the formation of a group called "Veterans For Sali", as a counterweight to the fact that his opponent, Walt Minnick, is an actual veteran himself. I'm all for Veterans speaking out in favor of the candidate of their choice, and I'm glad whenever I see a politically-active Veteran. What I find discouraging about this announcement, however, is that the press release listing the members of the new group once again displays Bill Sali and his staff's complete obliviousness to military culture.

In almost all cases, the press release (mirrored over at Right Mind, run by submariner Dale up in Northern Idaho) lists the members as "Retired". In common military usage, when you say someone is "Retired", it means that they're drawing either a retainer or retired pay, usually after completing at least 20 years of active service (or less during drawdowns), or are medically retired due to injury. It seemed surprising to me that such a large majority of the Sali supporters should have been "Retired", vice the equally honorable title "Veteran", that I checked into a few of them. One, Idaho Speaker of the House Lawerence Denney, is listed here as serving only 2 years in the Army -- granted, he may have been medically retired. Another, Jesse Dollemore, is only about 33 years old. If they're not actually "Retired" in the most commonly-used sense of the word, that doesn't make their endorsement any less important. It does, however, call into question the suitability of Bill Sali to continue serving in the U.S. Congress when he doesn't understand this important distinction in terminology.

Update 1230 10 Oct: I E-mailed Congressman Sali's spokesman to see if he wanted to comment, and also placed a call to General Doty, one of the group's co-chairs (who, like a lot of Bill Sali's most outspoken supporters, doesn't seem to actually live in the 1st District); I'll let you know if they respond. I also noticed that Commssioner Fred Tilman, listed as "Retired" on the list, actually served for three years in the Army. Once again, he may have been medically retired, but I'm thinking that it's fairly unlikely that two prominent Idaho politicians would have the same story.

Update 1456 10 Oct: I got a call back from General Doty and we had a very pleasant conversation. As I expected, he had not seen the actual list of the members of the group (he's been out enjoying Idaho's great outdoors), because otherwise I'm sure he would have caught the discrepancy. He did confirm that many of the group's members are, in fact, not retired, but served honorably as Veterans without having enough Time In Service to officially "Retire". Therefore, it appears to be simply a case of the Sali staff once again demonstrating their ineptitude.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

Supreme Court Hears Navy Sonar Case

The Supreme Court today heard oral arguments on the case pitting environmental activists against the Navy with respect to active sonar use and its effect on marine mammals. As usual, it looks like Justice Kennedy will be the deciding vote.

As I've mentioned before, the environmental activists are doing their cause a great disservice by lying in court filings about the effects of active sonar. They were able to fool the anti-military 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, but hopefully will get put in their place by the Supremes.

Monday, October 06, 2008

"Safety Harness? We Don't Need No Stinkin' Safety Harness!"

A reader sent in a link to this picture that was posted over on the discussion boards, titled "Officer Boat Quals":

It appears to have been taken from the old U.S. Navy submarine USS R-14 (later SS-91), which served from 1919-1945, it looks like she has not insubstantial way on when this picture was taken. Obviously, safety is more of a concern nowadays. I'll be honest, I've always been in favor of taking all the reasonable safety precautions you need to when doing potentially dangerous evolutions. I know a lot of Submariners get frustrated with the safety rules, but I always supported them -- even the fire watches.

What do you think? Is safety overdone in today's Submarine Force, or is it at the right level, or do we need to think about it even more?

Saturday, October 04, 2008

Submarine And Navy Miscellany

A quick link-heavy roundup of items of interest to Submariners I haven't found time to write about more fully:

1) RADM Douglas McAneny, the new COMSUBPAC, announced that the Navy has confirmed that the submarine recently found on the seabed near Kiska is in fact USS Grunion (SS 216).

2) A Russian commentator discussed the future of Russia's submarine fleet. Still no word on when their new boomer, RFS Yuri Dolgorukii, will head out on sea trials.

3) Vigilis at Molten Eagle remembers the book "Spy Sub" and offers a related quiz. Eric at Decks Awash has more related videos.

4) The Navy puts more teeth into the PRP Program, following their rollout of the PTU to help Sailors pass the PFT part of the PFA! Now, if you're a fat boy, you can't get picked for IA duty. (Expect longer lines on the mess decks.) Once again, we learn that the way to beat Al Qaeda isn't to be smarter than they are; it's looking better in uniform than they do that will win us the Global War on Terror.

5) Midshipmen on assignment at the Air Force Academy use stealth to spy on the Falcons.

6) Check out retired Submariner Steve's new blog at Navy Blue Cougar.

7) And finally, from the "D'oh! Why didn't we think of that!" file, we see that the new generation of Submariners are a lot smarter than us old guys. Remember when changing out the anchor light involved a couple of EMs or IC-men in a rickety boat who were in real danger of falling into the harbor? As these Submariners on USS Newport News (SSN 750) show, there's actually an easier way of performing that PM:

Another picture of the evolution can be found here. And if anyone out there knows that we've actually been doing it that way for a long time, I'll feel really bad for the Submariners on my old boats.

Update 1258 04 Oct: Oh, I almost forgot...

8) The last DSRV has been replaced; we now have the SRDRS and SRCFS.

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Haiku Live-Blogging The VP Debate

Lots of other bloggers will be live-blogging tonight's Vice Presidential Debate (including Boise's own Kevin Richert), and Fred Fry is even thinking about drunk-blogging it, but only here at TSSBP will you see Interweb history being made: the first ever live-blogging of a Vice Presidential Debate conducted entirely by haiku (seasonal reference-optional division). Here's an example of what you'll see exclusively at The Stupid Shall Be Punished if you come back after 1900 MDT:

"Senator Biden
Will win unless he teabags
Governor Palin"

(The particular circumstances of this debate -- having both participants with honorific plus last name being exactly five syllables, as indicated above -- makes this an easier event to haiku live-blog than most. Still, since this is the first time it's being done in the history of the universe, I don't mind having a lower degree of difficulty.)

I'll see you back here at 7 p.m. MDT.

Update 02 Oct 1858:
"Palin and Biden
Standing on a new red stage
Not kissing in tree."

"Senator Biden:
Bush econ worse than Hoover!
Hyperbole reigns."

"Biden's plan is clear
Attack McCain, not Palin
Not sure it will work."

"Senator Palin:
'Darn right!' She's very folksy.
Advantage, Palin."

"Biden whines to Gwen.
He has facts, but sounds whiny;
Talk to the people!"

"Governor Palin:
'Taxes not Patriotic!'
Is tax evasion?"

"The Bridge To Nowhere!
Biden mentions it before
Palin gets a chance."

"Senator Biden:
Calls some unpatriotic
Seems Dems do that more."

"Domestic questions
getting really boring, Gwen
On to better stuff!"

"Hey, did you notice?
Governor Palin sure does
Look like Tina Fey"

"Governor Palin:
Admits climate change real
Just not human-caused."

"On to better stuff:
Gay civil union rights, wow...
Palin is mainstream!"

"On to Iraq surge;
Palin somehow makes 'surge' have
many syllables."

"Re: Gwen Ifill book --
Now can't ask 'gotcha' question
Advantage: Palin"

"Senator Biden:
McCain voted against troops. (?)
Not believable."

"Senator Biden:
'Country north of Israel'...
Can't name Lebanon?"

"Governor Palin:
'Nuclear Weaponry' bad.
Never used phrase before."

"Palin has name gaffe:
'McClellan' vice 'McKiernan'
Biden whiffs on call."

"Gwen: 'Heartbeat away'...
Biden mentions Bush Doctrine.
What will Palin say?"

" 'Say it ain't so, Joe',
'Gosh darn it'; folksy meter
Pegs high for Palin."

"Governor Palin:
Now knows what a VP does --
Gets Senate gavel!"

"Biden: Cheney most
Dangerous VP ever!
But Burr treasonous."

"Biden chokes up, but
recovers with dignity
His "snowflake" moment?"

"Final question now;
Whose closing statement will have
Memorable quote?"

"Governor Palin:
Always proud American!
Quotes Reagan, good call."

"Senator Biden:
When knocked down, get up, thanks God;
No knockout blow lands."

"Final impressions --
Palin beats expectations,
Which were very low."

Update 2136 02 Oct: Getting away from the haiku form, here are some conclusions I reached about tonight's debate. While Governor Palin definitely exceeded expectations that had been about as low as anything I've ever seen, we really won't know until next week who "won" the debate. The people who really decide -- the American people -- won't really come up with a consensus until they talk about it at work tomorrow, and then talk about what SNL said about it when they get back to work on Monday. Gwen Ifill, because of the flap over her "pro-Obama" book that's coming out, wasn't able to ask any "gotcha" questions of Gov. Palin, and the controversy may have kept her from asking questions like "Do you support a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage" that would have differentiated Gov. Palin and Sen. Biden on that issue.

Here's an analogy I've been using regarding Sen. McCain's pick of Gov. Palin for the VP slot -- it involves poker. Sen. McCain is an experienced politician, and he knew he was on his way to losing the election as we approached the convention. He knew he needed a pick who would "stir things up"; who would bring the conservative wing of the GOP back home and get the public's attention. Gov. Palin was really the only choice who fit that bill. Sen. McCain assumed that, as someone who won election as Governor, that she'd be a quick study in learning what she needed to answer questions from the national media. It's like Sen McCain was sitting at the poker table with the short stack, and went all in with an inside straight draw. He got no help on the turn (the first media interviews) and tonight was the river card. Maybe he didn't get the card he needed, but he certainly paired his high card; whether or not that is enough to win the hand remains to be seen. My guess is that it's not, and in 33 days people will be voting for the top of the ticket, like they always have, and Sen. Obama will win that one. Still, it was worth a try for Sen. McCain, and Gov. Palin did about the best she could tonight.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Submarine Hall Of Fame

Having never been to Submarine Learning Facility Norfolk (and having only pulled into Norfolk once, for two days), I never knew there was a "U.S. Navy Submarine Hall of Fame". Apparently, though, there is, as this post over at Rontini's Submarine BBS attests:
When a ship is inducted a shadow box is created and displayed in Alcorn Auditorium with a one page history below it. This Auditorium is at the Submarine Learning Facility Norfolk Virginia and is in continually use by today's submarine crews so that they can see a visual display of their heritage. The past inductees have been the following:

USS Norfolk: First Navy Ship to have all Tomahawks land on target

USS Narwhal: 25 years of special operations

USS Nautilus: First Nuclear Submarine

USS Irex: First Fleet Snorkel Submarine

USS Triton: First to circumnavigate the world submerged

USS Grenadier: Forcing a Soviet Zulu to the surface and proving the USSR was conducting deterrent patrols

USS Albacore: First in modern hydro-dynamic design

USS Skate: First to surface at the Geographic Pole

USS Growler: First in Regulus program

USS Parche: Super Secret Squirrel Sub and Most decorated ship in the Navy

It is that time again to nominate another submarine. The criteria for this award is a submarine that made engineering or tactical advances post WWII...
The post goes on to say that nominations for this year's inductee are due by October 17th, and has the E-mail address for Paul Rice of USSVI, who's coordinating the whole shebang.

So which boat not on the list above do you think should be inducted? Should it be USS Connecticut (SSN 22), who set an Alpha Trials speed record (under the expert supervision of her plank-owning Engineer, who spent the middle half of the full-power submerged run in his rack) that will stand for as long as they're still making Virginia-class boats? Should it be your old boat, who became the first submarine in history to make a nuclear repair using EB Green, curable resin, and the DCA's skivvies? Make your nominations (humorous or otherwise) in the comments.