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, May 29, 2009

FY10 CO/XO Screening Results Posted

Blunoz has again posted the results of the most recent submarine CO/XO screening boards here. Congratulations to all those selected! (Even if some of you are people I only remember as NUB-ly students at NPTU who I figured would never be able to do anything right.) To those who weren't selected, remember it's an honored Submarine Force tradition to complain about how the guys who were picked instead of you molest puppies.

Seeing a guy who relieved me from one of my jobs take command of a boat, and getting an invitation for a change of command where one of my old JO shipmates is finishing up his command tour, makes me realize that my generation is finishing up their time in command. Good luck to the next generation coming up the pipe, and remember that we only complain about the way you're messing up because we care!

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Israeli Submarine Rescues Swimmer

An unnamed Israeli submarine rescued a swimmer who had been swept out to sea by the tide earlier this week:
The submarine crew spotted the man showing signs of weakness after it came to the surface around five nautical miles (nine kilometers) from Haifa port late Tuesday morning.
The crew raised the man aboard and a medic gave him first aid.
I'm assuming the boat was on the surface when they saw him, although it would have been more dramatic for them to surface near a guy who's thinking he's near the end. Has your boat ever saved anyone in danger of the Perils of the Sea? Or did your boats only use your stealth for Evil (like using the periscope to videotape people engaged in "private" activities on the deck of their boat when they thought no one was around, then showing it to the crew on the mess decks)?

I earlier recounted my best sea story about saving someone at sea here. It involves California jet skiers, so you know it's funny.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

You Make The Call!

Check out this story in today's Idaho Statesman:
The girl told police a man made her get into his car as she walked down Chinden Boulevard about 3:40 p.m. Monday.
She said he drove her to a business on the 4200 block of Chinden where he attacked her. Afterward, he told her to break into a nearby business. She was breaking the window to gain entry when witnesses called the police to report a break-in.
The girl described the man as being between 35 and 40, about 5 feet 5 inches tall, with short brown hair with a grayish tint, a red beard and bad teeth.
Now, I'm no policeman, but I'm betting I can guess what was going through their minds as they heard that story. Which do you think is most likely? That someone forced a girl into his car in the middle of the day on a major thoroughfare, assaulted her, then (somehow) "forced" her to break into a business while he stayed at a safe distance away? Or is it more likely that she got caught breaking into the business, and came up with this story of being abducted, abused, and mind-controlled by Danny Bonaduce on the spur of the moment?

I'm betting on the latter...

Friday, May 22, 2009

Movie Reviews: "Terminator Salvation" And "Star Trek"

The summer mega-movie season is off to a good start, with a couple of good sci-fi movies firing the first promising salvoes: "Terminator Salvation" and the re-imagining of "Star Trek", both starring that famous actor Anton Yelchin.

"Terminator Salvation" came out this week, and I must say it exceeded my expectations. I liked how they used realistic weapons for the human forces -- basically things that were available in our arsenals on "Judgment Day" when the machines launched the nukes under their control. Therefore, you see the punishment-absorbing A-10 Thunderbolt as the primary human air weapon, and they even use a submarine (either a Seawolf- or Virginia-class boat, based on the boot in front of the sail) as a "command center". (For some reason, the submarine has extraneous cables or supports connecting the main deck to the sail, which would be a really bad noise source; however, that's something that only us Submariners would worry about.) They did good job getting us up to speed on the characters and their motivations, and the John Connor character wasn't nearly as annoying and whiny as in previous films in the series. The special effects were good, the new machine weapons were interesting, and the action flowed nicely. Sure, you had to suspend disbelief occasionally (Why didn't the machines wait until they had 2 of the new Terminators to unleash their plan? you'll wonder otherwise) but not as much as in the last couple of movies in the franchise. Overall, it was worth my time to see it, and I give it four ugly-but-effective Warthogs out of five.

I was really, really worried that "Star Trek" was going to suffer from the "odd-numbered movie" curse we've seen in the series to date -- luckily, it avoided that fate completely. Sure, it's kitschy, but that's what Star Trek is supposed to be. It was nice seeing Leonard Nimoy as "Spock Prime", and I thought the casting overall was really good. The changes they made -- Spock acting more human (particularly with respect to random kissing) -- were generally OK, the action sequences were great, and they didn't overdo the use of the "mandatory" classic lines. Sure, there were problems -- the black-hole science was particularly bad, but the only thing that really detracted from enjoying the film for me is the continued problem of how StarFleet does promotions. This one was probably the worst of all -- Kirk goes straight from Cadet to Captain. Sure, it was needed to set up the sequel(s), but it was still distracting. Since that was the only bad problem, and the rest of the film kept me thoroughly entertained and they set it up nicely for sequels, I give it four Warp Core Dumps out of five.

Kooky Local Simpleton Confused By Science, Facts

Kooky Local Simpleton Bryan Fischer, who last month made up the "fact" that the U.S. currently has 15 aircraft carriers (we actually have 11 since USS Kitty Hawk got decommed in January, and haven't had 15 since 1993), yesterday weighed in on the cause of the AIDS epidemic. Here's some of what he said (emphasis mine):
A prominent molecular biologist at Cal-Berkeley has argued for years, persuasively in my mind, that the HIV virus is not in fact the cause of AIDS. It is his theory that AIDS is a result of a combination of sexually transmitted infections and intense drug use among homosexuals which work together to gradually weaken a homosexual’s immune system. (Homosexuals frequently use drugs to heighten and prolong their sexual experiences, particularly relying on “poppers,” consisting of amyl nitrates.) In his view, HIV is a “harmless passenger virus,” meaning that even if a cure for it were found, it would not reduce the incidence of AIDS. Magic Johnson may illustrate this. He was famously diagnosed with the HIV virus 18 years ago, but is in the pink of health today...
Note that this unnamed "prominent molecular biologist" (a German, no big surprise) and Fischer aren't alone in their beliefs; other "AIDS Denialists" include the Foo Fighters and former South African President Mbeki. Other than the obvious scientific evidence, KLS Fischer somehow decided that he was "persuasively" convinced despite the fact that AIDS is spread mostly heterosexually in Africa, where people are unlikely to use "poppers", it would seem. However, since Fischer has had problems with science concepts before, I'm not surprised he's come out on the side of this particular cause. (Maybe Magic is healthy because he takes his drugs?) Normally he would make fun of a philosophy where many adherents have died as a result of their foolish beliefs. When it comes to science, however, he just can't help being wrong. What a kook.

USS Hartford Returns Home

Check out this article from The New London Day, including some good pictures, of the return of USS Hartford (SSN 768) to her homeport of Groton. Excerpts:
But “it was a long ride,” said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Chris Yaras of Groton, who met his month-old daughter, Ella, for the first time Thursday.
Many of the crew's families were at the base to welcome the Hartford home. Yaras called it “awesome” to be back.
As the corpsman, Yaras treated the injured crew members after the collision. Most had minor cuts and scrapes, he said.
“It was amazing,” he said. “I went from 'I don't think we're going to make it through this to holy cow, there's no one hurt.' ”...
...In July, the Hartford will go to Electric Boat, which has been awarded a $15.8 million contract to restore it to “full service condition,” according to a Defense Department release on Thursday. The work is expected to be completed by October. The formal investigations into the collision are still in the endorsement phase, with senior leaders providing their input. The crew has been given a month off.
Harkins said he will soon turn over command of the Hartford to Cmdr. Robert Dunn, who was serving on the staff of the commander for the Submarine Force Pacific Fleet.
CDR Dunn was my relief as Eng of USS Connecticut (SSN 22) back in 1999; I'm glad to see the Hartford got an officer of his caliber to lead them through this difficult time. I'm also glad to see the crew is getting a standdown; the writer's description of the standdown as "a month off", however, shows that The Day still hasn't quite found a seasoned replacement for writing about military matters since Robert Hamilton left a few years ago.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Submarine JO Transition Blog

Check out The Cyborg Life by a Submarine JO who's getting out next year; it's really a good read. I like the interviews the best.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Happy Armed Forces Day!

The third Saturday in May is designated as Armed Forces Day. Let's hear it for all the services! In celebration, here's a video taken from the bridge of USS Toledo (SSN 769) during a recent media availability:

More videos from the underway can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Japanese Admiral "Drives" USS Seawolf

Check out this picture of Japanese Fleet Commander Vice Adm. Tohru Izumi sitting at the Ship's Control Panel of USS Seawolf (SSN 21) while the boat was in port this week:

I think it's great; it's always good to see our allies getting a good look at our most capable class of submarine. (Note that the other Japanese admiral in the shot is the head of their submarine forces.) One reader wrote in to say that the picture kind of gave them "the creeps". I can understand that a little; to explain that, I'll have to explain the one prejudice I have against a national group. I'll come right out and say it... I don't feel comfortable around Germans.

As far as our former enemies from WWII go, I've never really had anything against the Japanese; it seemed to me that they accepted the verdict of the war, and they really have been a good ally since then. The Germans, on the other hand, took losing two World Wars before they came to their senses, and even then we were still adversaries with half the country during the Cold War. None of that history should make me feel badly towards this new generation of Germans, I know... it's just a prejudice that I can't justify. Nevertheless, it exists. When I was stationed in Groton in the early 90s, a German U-boat came over for a visit, and I got to help tour them around the Topeka. This was the first time I had met German military personnel, and I just couldn't help but think about what their grandparents had done. Later on during my Topeka JO tour, we met with Japanese submariners who were visiting San Diego, and I didn't have these bad feelings at all towards them. Later, when I was at CENTCOM during 2003-'04, the German officers had no problems with letting us know how smart they were for not getting involved in Iraq; even the French officers were much better, saying they were sorry their government wasn't acting like a good ally.

So what do you think? I recognize that I'm wrong to feel uncomfortable around Germans for what their grandparents did, but I know that the feelings are real nonetheless. Do any of you feel uncomfortable about being around any of our former enemies? (To avoid too much political debate, please don't say you don't like Mexicans because of what Santa Ana did to the Alamo.)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

USS Hawaii Submariner Death Ruled A Suicide

The death of a Submariner assigned to USS Hawaii (SSN 776) last Friday has been ruled a suicide. Excerpts from this article in The New London Day:
Machinist's Mate Third Class John Carlos Rodriguez, who was assigned to the USS Hawaii, died of a gunshot wound to the head, according to the office.
Rodriguez, of Doylestown, Pa., was working early Friday on the pier at the base, said Lt. Patrick Evans, Submarine Group Two public affairs officer.
He was taken to Lawrence & Memorial Hospital in New London around 5 a.m. Friday after the incident. He was pronounced dead at 10:20 a.m., according to the hospital...
...”We grieve with the family,” Rear Adm. Bruce E. Grooms, commander of Submarine Group Two, said Tuesday, calling it an “unfortunate incident.”
”We are investigating what drove this,” Grooms added. “We looked really closely at the climate aboard the submarine, and I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that the boat and the senior leadership are as good as it gets.”
Any loss of a shipmate like this is sad for the Submarine Force, but especially when it happens when the Sailor is at work. Back in 2006, I blogged about how the Submarine Force was studying how to reduce a spike in suicides they'd seen in the 2005-'06 timeframe; I wonder if maybe we need to revisit the lessons learned from then.

(On a Blog Admin note, posting has been light because I switched back to night shift this week, and I'm not as young as I used to be; also, we just got our new computer to replace the one that stopped working last week. Specifically related to this post, any troll should be warned that if you start posting any bizarre theories or ridiculous questions, your comments will be deleted ruthlessly. This isn't the time or place for idiocy.)

Thursday, May 07, 2009

Newest Dolphin Scholars Announced

The Dolphin Scholarship Foundation has announced the 30 newly-selected Dolphin Scholars for 2009, including one that is causing great joy here in the Bubblehead household -- our middle child, Robert. (He missed out on being the 1000th Dolphin Scholar by the vagaries of the alphabet.) If you'd like to see what a Washington State University-bound Dolphin Scholar (and National Merit Scholar) looks like in his natural environment, check out this video:

Actually, his room doesn't normally look like that; the memos strewn around his walls and ceilings are part of the answer his Prom date gave to him. (He had asked her to Prom by giving her a "Jump To Conclusions" mat on which all the answers were some form of "Yes".) I'm still not sure if these complicated date invitation rituals are limited to the LDS community, or if it's spread throughout the rest of society. All I know is I never had to go through any of this back in the early 80s.

Wednesday, May 06, 2009

USS Annapolis Video From The Arctic

Here's a video that the wardroom of USS Annapolis (SSN 760) made for the USNA Submarine Birthday Ball this year while the submarine was in the Arctic for ICEX:

Have you ever participated in making a PSA or "Spirit Spot" on your boat?

Saturday, May 02, 2009

Do Our Dolphins Have Names?

An old shipmate turned me on to this discussion thread from last year over at the forums. It claims that the names of our dolphins on our warfare insignia are "Castor" and "Pollux", the Gemini Twins and patron of Sailors:
I've been trying to figure this one out for a few months now, and am having no luck at all. Here's the story behind it:
About a year ago, a junior guy in my division was at his submarine pin qual board, and was asked, "What are the names of the two dolphins on the warfare pin?" He had no clue, and at the time, neither did I. I mentioned it to my wife, and she (on her own) searched online for 3 hours and actually found the answer. He checked with the board members and they agreed. Several other chiefs on baord concurred as well with the names "Pollux and Castor" (aka the Gemini Twins).
Now, here's my problem. Ever since then, nobody I know seems to know WHERE the two dolphins are ever mentioned as to having names. Some even say it was an "urban legend."
Does anyone out there happen to know this? My guess is some kind of Naval History and Traditions book, but I'm stumped.
The discussion goes on and provides some pretty good history of the Submarine Warfare insignia, as well as a link to all the old "All Hands" magazines. They never did end up determining where to find an actual authoritative source for the claim.

Do any commenters here have any idea if this claim is correct or not?

New NUPOC Video And Blog

The NUPOC (Nuclear Power Officer Candidate) program recruiters an interesting blog, and well as a fairly humorous video up on YouTube:

It's nice to see the Navy embracing the technology of the 21st century.

Friday, May 01, 2009

"Tasmanian Swine Flu"

As the media and Vice President hysterically flog calmly discuss the new Swine Flu "epidemic", us Submariners can think back to the times that horrible diseases swept through our boats. (As all Submariners know, there's no place more conducive to the spread of disease that the close confines of a submarine underway.)

Back on the good ship USS Topeka (SSN 754) during our '92-'93 WestPac/Arabian Gulf deployment, we had a last liberty call in Hobart, Tasmania -- in my opinion, the absolute best liberty port in the world, because the people genuinely liked American Sailors. We picked up a new crew member and headed towards home via the realm of the Golden Shellback. Since we had an ORSE scheduled prior to our return to port, we planned to spend the whole transit working up for the inspection. Unfortunately, the new crew member had brought aboard what we ended up dubbing the "Tasmanian Swine Flu" -- a really virulent form of the dreaded "double-header disease" (the one where you're puking and crapping liquid simultaneously and violently) and it spread through the crew quickly. We were lucky that we never ended up with only one person at a watchstation; it had you down for about three days, and about a third of the crew was off the watchbill with it at any time, but we always had enough people to stay port and starboard. Our CO, "He Who Must Not Be Named", somehow used his powers of Evil to stave off the disease until the deployment was over, at the cost of coming down with a 10 day version of it as soon as we returned to port.

What horrible / humorous epidemics have you experienced on a submarine?