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.)

Saturday, February 27, 2010

COMSUBPAC Tsunami Warning

From SUBPAC's Facebook page:
A tsunami is expected to arrive in the Hawaiian islands area at 11 a.m. local time. Personnel in low-lying areas should head for higher ground with supplies to last for a couple of days. Please be careful and cooperate fully with civil authorities and first responders.
Personnel with cable access to Joint Base TV Channel 2 should tune in for base information.
- Should you evacuate, carry your disaster kit and ensure you have enough supply for 3-5 days. Once in a safe area, do not return to the hazard zone until a competent local official has issued an “all clear.”
- Avoid coastal areas and never go to the beach to watch a tsunami.
- Personnel at commands in Navy Region Hawaii should maintain contact with their chain of command regarding work status or potential evacuations.
- Please be patient and follow all directions of Security and Fire Department personnel as they work through potential recovery efforts.
Please keep in mind that a tsunami event is not typically a single wave, but rather a series of waves. In this instance, there may be as many as 8-12 waves in succession.
Everyone in Hawaii, and throughout the Pacific Rim, please stay safe. Also hoping the Chilean Submariners are safe; their homeport is Talcuhuano, very near the epicenter of the earthquake.

Indian Submariner Dies In Battery Explosion

One Indian Submariner died and two were injured in an in-port battery explosion aboard INS Sindhurakshak (S63). The Russian-built Kilo-class submarine was in the eastern Indian port of Visakhapatnam when the fire and subsequent explosion happened on Friday night. Officials are blaming a "defective battery" for the death of Leading Electrical Technician Kump Dand.

Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Name Change For Department Of The Navy?

A bill (H.R. 24) to change the name of the Department of the Navy to the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps has 370 co-sponsors in the house, and will be debated in April. With that number of sponsors, the bill is likely to pass the House, as it has as an amendment in previous Congresses. When it does pass, action will move to the Senate, under S.504. The Senate is where the idea has died in the past. With all the Senate has on their plate, I'm guessing they won't get to it until possibly a lame-duck session after the November elections.

What do you think? Is this a long overdue change, or an unnecessary administrative exercise that flies in the face of tradition?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Idaho First Congressional District Election Update

Well, it's getting into the election season, so you can expect more political posting here at TSSBP. I'm not a big fan of bloggers spending a lot of time discussing races in which they can't vote, so I'll be sticking mostly to the Congressional race here in Idaho's 1st District.

I went to a "Meet and Greet" for Rep. Raul Labrador last night, intent on asking him if he was a "Birther" -- he seems to be running to the right side of his main opponent, Vaughn Ward, in the race for the Republican nomination for Idaho's 1st Congressional District. Since recent polls show that up to 71% of people who "strongly identify" with the Tea Party Movement seem to be Birthers, I wondered if the candidate would pander to the more extreme end of the electorate. His campaign had picked up that I would be there, so he was ready for me; when he realized who I was when we were talking before the formal portion of the event, he asked me, "Why would you think that I would be a Birther?" I told him about the poll, and he responded with a completely common sense answer -- he figured that if there was anything to the allegation that President Obama wasn't a natural-born citizen, then Sen. McCain's campaign would have figured that out, I responded "Or Sen. Clinton's campaign", and he agreed. Thus, I'm happy to report that Rep. Labrador is not -- in any way, shape, or form -- a Birther.

There were about 25 people there for the event, including three State Representatives (in addition to Rep. Labrador). I was impressed by his talk, and especially how he handled himself during the question and answer session. I gave him another "trap" question, asking if, since the Idaho Republican Platform calls for abolishing the Federal Reserve and "returning" to a Gold and Silver standard for money, he would support such legislation in Congress. He punted, but in an interesting way. Rather than putting out a bunch of meaningless platitudes, he said he needed to research the issue more. When my sons asked him about the war, he said he supported President Obama's surge in Afghanistan, and that in Iraq we should stabilize the government and then withdraw U.S. forces. When pressed for more detail, he was once again honest. He said he didn't know a lot about military strategy, and would have to study it more; later, he privately told me that he would likely defer to the military experts. I found that quite refreshing.

When asked what he thought he could do as a freshman Congressman, he seemed very realistic. He figured that the Republicans would put him, an Puerto Rico-born immigration lawyer, out in the forefront of the immigration debate. He called for an effective "Guest Worker" program, which I figure won't endear him to the more rightward elements of the party, but showed that he's his own man on the issue. (He also expressed an interest in putting the National Guard on the border.) On the deficit, he called for a balanced budget (which I liked), but the one number he used didn't quite pass the smell test. He said that if we just returned to 2007 budget outlays we'd have a $169 billion budget surplus. Since federal expenditures were $2.78 trillion in 2007, and projected revenues in 2011 are only $2.57 trillion, I'm not sure how his math works out.

[The Labrador campaign "revised and extended" his remarks on the budget as follows: "As Raul has been studying the problems within the budget that have brought us to this point, it obvious that government spending must be cut... One idea that caught Raul's attention was proposed by Sen. George LeMieux from Florida. In this article, you can find the numbers Raul cited last night. As we have been researching this solution in greater detail, we too discovered that the numbers Sen. LeMieux cited do not seem to correspond with recently released revenue projections. That being said, the principle behind the plan remains sound: rolling the budget back to levels from several years ago would be a balanced short-term approach to resolving the budget crisis. Deep cuts into any one agency would not be necessary as the load would be distributed upon all areas of the federal government. It is also important to note that an approach like this does not call for a return to 1986 or 1966 spending levels to balance the budget, which would not only be undoubtedly painful but would also be difficult to implement. Reverting back to spending limits seen in the years between 2004-2007 is a sensible way to ensure that government effectively serves the people in the here and now while also restoring its soundness in the future."]

Overall, I liked Rep. Labrador, and if he does happen to win the Republican nomination and the subsequent general election against Walt Minnick, I don't think I'd be embarrassed by my Congressman like I was from 2007-2008. There won't be a "Raul Labrador Fan" this year.

I haven't really checked out Vaughn Ward yet, but he seems to be a boilerplate conservative with establishment backing. It looks like any humor and absurdity in this race will have to be provided by new candidate Michael Chadwick; based on his "Policy Statements", he appears to be an extreme Paulite and the most likely heir to our district's Salian tradition of foot-in-mouth idiocy. (Of course, there's still time for Bill Sali himself to get back in the race; I can only hope. Sali winning the nomination would pretty much ensure Walt Minnick's re-election.)

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Women On Submarines -- It's Pretty Much Official

Based on this CNN report, it looks like women on submarines in the U.S. Navy is a done deal. Excerpt:
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has notified Congress of plans to allow women to serve aboard submarines, a Defense Department official said Tuesday.
Letters of intent were sent Monday to Congress, which has requested briefings on the matter, said the official, who asked not to be identified. There will be no vote on the matter in Congress...
...A phased approach is being considered under which officers -- who already have separate living quarters -- would be the first to go co-ed, followed by crews, with the women bunking together, the official said. Crew space would have to be modified prior to that happening, the official added.
The submarines expected to carry women initially would be the larger ones -- nuclear-power, missile-carrying submarines known as SSBN and SSGN, the official said.
Had to happen someday. My major concern is not how it will work on the boat, but how the media attention will cause more work for already overtasked Submariners. There will probably be the same proportion of whiny female Submariners as there are male; the big difference will be that the whiny females will get a lot of press, resulting in more and more useless training and potentially causing a mission-degrading CYA mentality among the leadership. I would hope the Submarine Force bigwigs will be able to keep it in perspective when the first inevitable problems happen, but I doubt they will.

Update 1712 23 Feb: Here's the official DoD announcement.

Update 1017 26 Feb: Here's a paper from a retired ETCS(SS/SW) opposing the lifting of the ban. And here's a report from on the issue.

Update 1542 01 Mar: Closing comments. It looks like we've found the limit of the Blogger comment function; the stated number of comments keeps going up, but none are showing up since the 26th. For those concerned that I've been deleting your comments, I haven't been; it just looks like we've exceeded the allowable content.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Midwatch BS Sessions

Back when I was Eng, I always had to go along with the idea that the best use of your time on the midwatch was for watchsection training -- everyone remembers the EOOW or DOOW monotonously reading from procedures to his captive audience. From the safe distance of retirement, however, I can admit that I always hated that. I much preferred the free-wheeling discussions that would often break out -- whether it was debating about religion and the nature of life, or coming up with "name all things on the boat that have nicknames that are animals", like "white rat". There was something about being in the middle of the ocean, under several hundred feet of water, that seemed to be conducive to deep conversation.

What were your favorite midwatch discussion topics?

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Gratuitous Pic Of My Old Boat

Because it's always nice to see one of my old boats out on the tip of the spear, here's a picture of USS Connecticut (SSN 22) pulling into Yokosuka earlier this week:

Air Force Guy Raises The Bar For Engagements

Check out this video of an Air Force 2LT who made a short film to propose to his girlfriend, and had it shown in the previews of a movie to which he took her. Quite imaginative and almost too cute.

Nuclear Power School Instructor Recruiting Video

Couldn't pass up posting this recruiting video from the Navy to try to get college students to become Nuke School Instructors, although I don't necessarily recommend watching the whole thing -- it's incredibly boring.

I for one am thankful for the Navy program whereby they make people officers and tell them their job is to put on an officer uniform and teach for four years without ever going to sea; this way, sea-going Sailors don't have to worry about having to fill a whole bunch of really cushy shore duty slots. I'm also thankful that young Sailors can learn that, although "Direct Input Limited Duty Officer" makes for a fun acronym, these Direct Input Officers aren't really Limited Duty Officers. (Actually, I don't even know if they call them Direct Input Officers anymore.) And I won't even go into how many enlisted Sailors first enjoyed the illicit thrill of having sex with an officer with these teachers, because I'm sure that's no longer a "problem" like it was back in the day.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

VADM J. Guy Reynolds

VADM J. Guy Reynolds, Naval Submarine League President and former COMSUBPAC, has been feeling a little under the weather lately, so his wife put up a CaringBridge page to let old shipmates check in with him. There are currently 22 pages of comments in his Guestbook from his old friends, including many of the giants of the Submarine Force from back in the day. Please take the time to wish VADM Reynolds the best if you're so inclined.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Submarine Olympics

Expect light posting for the next couple of weeks while the Olympics are on; we're big Olympics fans here in the Bubblehead household. (Plus, tomorrow I'll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of when my wife and I met, when I was a student at NPTU Idaho and she was a student at Idaho State.)

What were your favorite "Submarine Olympics" events? The 25m Slide Down The Long Passageway During Angles 'n Dangles? The Midrats Vent Cover Eating Finals? Did you have any personal favorites?

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

USS Louisville DV Embark

Here's a video from the SUBPAC PAO about a recent Distinguished Visitor embark on USS Louisville (SSN 724):

I support bringing CEOs like this on board the boat for tours like this (especially since it involved a BSP on both ends, meaning the crew didn't have to get underway just for the dog-n-pony show) -- hopefully the CEOs will hire Submariners when they come looking for a job.

We Get Letters

I got an E-mail from a young man a few days ago that I just got around to answering. Here's what he said:
I am considering the NUPOC program and I have been doing a lot of research about it. There are a few questions I have. How much did you enjoy your time while you were in? Was going out to sea exciting or boring? What percentage of your time in were you at sea? Would you recommend the program based on your experience?
How would you answer this young person?

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Weekend Reading

Check out this report on the Submarine Race in the Pacific, posted at The Heritage Foundation. (Disclaimer: A post from here is listed in the footnotes! I don't think I've ever been a footnote before.)

Changing CO/XO Tour Paradigm?

Word on the street is that the Submarine Force Flag Officers are going to be discussing (at an upcoming "Clambake") the desirability of changing the current model whereby a submarine officer serves as XO on a boat for less than 2 years, then goes to shore duty, thence to PCO training and then a 2-3 year CO tour on a different boat. They're looking at the SWO/Airdale model, where a guy goes through PCO training, then shows up as XO, does that for 18 months, then relieves the CO and stays in command for another 18 months. The theory is, I suppose, that this could help reduce the number of Class "A" mishaps.

What do you think? Assuming NR buys off, do you think this model could work in the Sub Force? Or should we stick with what we have, or go off in some other direction?

A Call For Civility

As anyone who follows the news has seen, we've seen an uptick in incivility in the political discourse over the last several years in this country. Lately, though, it seems to have gotten even worse -- now you've got U.S. Senators calling political opponents "Tea Baggers" (I wonder if they'd mind if their opponents started calling progressives "Rim-Jobbers" because of their new focus on jobs), and you've got a former Congressman wanting to bring back voting literacy tests because he thinks there are too many "multicultural" people voting. Nothing pisses me off more than people who try to take citizenship and voting rights away from American citizens.

No real suggestion on how to stop this trend here -- just a rant.

Thursday, February 04, 2010

Duty Van Breakdowns

A reader sent in a picture of the Pasadena's duty van broken down on the side of the road yesterday outside of West Loch:

My best story involving a duty van was previously recounted here. Do you have any good stories about trying to get out to (or back from) liberty?

Monday, February 01, 2010

USS Flier Found

SUBPAC announced today that the final resting place of USS Flier (SS 250) has been located and verified. Flier was sunk by a mine in the Philippines in August 1944; eight of 86 crew members survived the sinking to be rescued later that month. Hopefully this news can provide comfort to the families of the Submariners lost on this boat.

An Official SUBVETS Tartan?

(Intel Source: Chapomatic) Having never been to Holy Loch, I was not aware that there was an official "Polaris Tartan", but it turns out there is one. Not only that, a SUBVETS chapter is proposing that this be designated as the "Official Organizational Tartan" for USSVI.

Does this mean there's going to be an upswell in the number of Submarine veterans wearing kilts?