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 26, 2011

A Bad Way To End A Night On The Town

From the NBC San Diego website:
One sailor was shot by Navy police and another was taken into custody uninjured after they allegedly smashed their vehicle into two Navy police units during a chase on the San Diego Naval Base early Saturday morning...
...Between 1 and 1:30 a.m., the Navy confirmed the two sailors, whose names have not been released, arrived at the Naval Base gate where they were stopped due to a "very strong suspicion" for drunk driving.
The gate guard called Navy dispatch, but instead of waiting for Navy officers to arrive on scene, the sailors sped off, and a small vehicle chase began...
... The two sailors approached another Navy gate, but per Navy security protocol, the gate was shut down. O'Rourke said the sailors then smashed into two police units, and as they attempted to smash into a third, officers fired upon their vehicle...
The injured Sailor is in stable condition. Have you ever had an unfortunate run-in with base Rent-a-Cops or active duty gate guards?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Movie Night!

It's Oscar week, so I figure it's a good time to talk about movies. I saw the remake of "True Grit" last weekend (making a total of 6 of the Best Picture nominees that I saw this year), and thought is was really good -- I decided it was my third favorite Western of all time (behind "Unforgiven" and "The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly"). This got me thinking -- what are my favorite movies in the various categories? Here's what I've come up with so far (in no particular order):

Best Low-brow Comedy: Caddyshack
Best Mid-brow Comedy: Office Space

Which brings us to the subject of "Best Boat Flick". This means different things to everyone, and I'd be surprised if any two boats had the same favorite movie at the same time. What makes a movie a good Boat Flick doesn't make it a movie you'd necessarily watch when you're on the beach. Back on Topeka during my JO tour, the favorite seemed to be "The Cutting Edge". As Eng, I never really had time to watch many underway movies, unfortunately.

So what changes or additions would you make to the list above? And what is your favorite "boat flick"?

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Dockside EMBT Blow

Here's a video of a dockside emergency blow on USS L. Mendel Rivers (SSN 686) conducted in the early '90s:

Every have anything go wrong during a dockside test? I think the Guitarro sinking is probably the worst dockside screw-up I've heard of.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Post-Navy Careers

A reader passed along an E-mail announcing a job opening for the End Of The World Coordinator at SUBASE San Diego (which mentioned that a similar job in Yokosuka for CSG7 would be posted soon), and this got me thinking about post-submarine careers.

On Monday, I got to tour a new hire around at work, and I was happy to find out that he was also a Submariner, having finished his SSBN JO tour and subsequent IA assignment to Afghanistan last year. After the Navy, he went to work for a nuke plant in Georgia that's being built, but wanted to find a job closer to his hometown, so that's how he ended up coming to Idaho.

When I went job-hunting for a post-Navy job, I did it the exact wrong way -- I selected a town first without having any contacts in the area. It worked out OK (I love my job and new town) but I know I could have made a lot more money by finding a job first. By coming to the Boise area, I pretty much locked myself out of a nuclear job -- this was especially true because the only nuclear jobs in Idaho are at the Idaho National Laboratory (currently ran by John Grossenbacher, former COMSUBLANT), and while they might have some positions in Boise, they were going through a management change at the time and had a hiring freeze on. I ended up taking a $12/hr temp job at Albertsons about three weeks after my official retirement date, and didn't get hired to my current job until almost five months after I retired. During that time, I did think seriously about going somewhere else for work and living away from my family, which would have sucked.

What's your story? Did you, or are you planning on, look(ing) at location or career field first when getting a post-Navy job?

Friday, February 11, 2011

Green Flares

This story from Australia reminded me of the old Broadside cartoon for some reason. Excerpts:
A SUBMERGED Collins class submarine and a female sailor had a lucky escape when she accidentally ignited a signal flare.
HMAS Waller was submerged off the WA coast, conducting anti-submarine exercises with the frigate HMAS Toowoomba and the replenishment vessel HMAS Sirius, at 9pm on Wednesday when the accident occurred.
The sailor was loading a green pyrotechnic flare into a tube in the ship's office when it went off, seriously burning her arms. Signal flares are routinely used by submerged submarines to communicate with surface ships.
The flare ignited a small spot fire that was put out by a sailor with a fire extinguisher. The boat went to emergency stations and made a dash to the surface.
No serious damage was suffered by the submarine and the sailor was treated by medics on board.
Have you ever hurt yourself doing something stupid on a submarine?

(For those who have forgotten what various flares meant, here's a reference.)

Do Submarine Officers Enjoy Their Job?

A reader writes in:
I am currently an NCO in the Army but have been thinking about getting out and heading back to college to finish up my degree and do NROTC to become a sub officer (I know that seems odd, but I just have this thing about submarines). I know the pipeline and the schooling recs, but I cannot seem to find anything about the life of an officer and if people actually enjoy it or not, it seems that SWO's are a generally miserable lot; are sub officers in the same situation? Any information you have or advice you are willing to give would be appreciated.
Personally, I enjoyed life as a submarine officer. I thought the closeness of the crew, and the knowledge that you were doing an important job with an outstanding team, made the good significantly outweigh the bad. Additionally, the feeling of being surface OOD in the middle of a clear South Pacific night with no traffic, good water all around, a leisurely PIM, and a quiet lookout -- while rare -- makes it all worthwhile.

That being said, I figured I'd open it up to all of you guys. What advice would you give this young man? (Bonus points to those who can avoid turning this into another DADT/women on submarines thread. We already have dozens of those.)

Bubblehead: First Amendment Defender Or Total Ass?

Hoping to continue my occasional forays into the world of the citizen journalist (my earlier efforts are here and here), I went to my first state legislative hearing yesterday. Originally, I was going to go see the Health Care Bill Nullification hearing, but really, who wants to head downtown at 8 am on their day off? So, since my wife wanted to testify at the Education Reform hearing anyway, I decided to cover that one as a citizen-journalist.

I was off to a bad start when I forgot to bring my camera, but we got there in time to stand in line to sign up to testify. I wasn't planning on testifying, but stood in line to sign up for my son, who had seen some young women he knew already in the committee room and went in to talk to them. Someone came up to the line with a box of papers and passed them out to the people standing in line. After a few minutes, my wife was talking to some of the other people in line, so I started reading the handout. It turned out to be a not-very-clever satire of the handout the committee gave out of guidelines for testifying to the committee. At this point, it got interesting.

A young woman with an official nametag came up to me, said "This is not authorized", and literally ripped the sheet out of my hand. She tried to do the same thing with my wife's written testimony, repeating "This is not authorized". My wife said, "Hey, this is my testimony. You can't have it". The young woman continued moving down the line, ripping papers from people's hands, then found a large pile of the papers on a bench and started collecting them.

At this point, I had my wits back together (this had pretty much just come out of the blue) so I mentioned to the young lady that it seemed like these papers were probably protected by the First Amendment. She collected all the papers and left. We were talking about this weird event when my wife noticed the young lady walking down the hall again. I started speaking a little more loudly about the First Amendment to the people behind me, and she turned around and said "Yes?". I complained, in what I thought was a reasonable tone of voice, that such satire was protected by the First Amendment; she agreed that it was. She also apologized for trying to rip my wife's testimony from her hand. She then almost started crying, complaining that the people at yesterday's hearing had been so rude, and why did she even get assigned to this committee? (She is the Senate Education committee secretary.) It was kind of pathetic. I did make a point of reading her nametag and mentioning that I wanted to get her name right when I reported it on social media and "my popular blog". (As it turned out, I didn't get her name right when I posted it on Facebook; I only saw the last three letters of her first name, and extrapolated incorrectly.)

At this point, I'm thinking this is more funny than anything else -- the young lady's near breakdown about how hard her job was made it much less sinister. What happened next, however, wasn't so funny. After we signed up on the sheet to testify, a Capitol policeman came up to me and asked me to follow him. He brought be outside the door, I offered my ID (my retired military ID; I could see where this was heading). He came off as a real tough guy, saying a lobbyist had reported that I was being "an ass" to the young lady. I told him what happened, and mentioned that the pamphlets were clearly protected by the First Amendment, and no, I didn't appreciate my First Amendment rights being violated. I didn't mention the word "theft", although I'm pretty sure that the law would say that a piece of paper given freely to me was now mine. Even after I mentioned the First Amendment, the Capitol policeman continued to try to intimidate me, to what end I can't figure out -- it was fairly obvious I wasn't going to back down. He ended up saying that maybe "mutual apologies" were in order. Sure, I said, I'd apologize that the young lady was upset that I was defending my First Amendment rights. [During this exchange, I did get a little obnoxious in continually mentioning my 21 years on active duty, and asking him how many years on active duty he had.]

At this point, I immediately posted what happened in Facebook, and got some suggestions. One person suggested I file charges, and offered to help collect witness statements. (He was also at the meeting.) Another suggested I should have broken out lines from this classic clip:

So, what do you think? Was I being a jerk to a poor young lady just trying to do her job? Or, given that the state establishment is very much behind this bill while the majority of the public opposes it, some quite vocally, and that it's unlikely that this young woman would have come up with the idea to steal these pamphlets on her own, should I have stood up even more against what was clearly a violation of my First Amendment rights, let alone my property rights?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

Sticking It To The Man

What would you do? Imagine you find yourself in a situation where you feel that, although you recognize you're not blameless, you feel like you're being made the "fall guy" to protect your higher-ups. Would you go along with it, hoping that by "playing the game" they'll take care of you in the end? Or would you fight back?

Last year, we discussed the story of the former amphib XO who demanded a court martial rather than accept NJP for training and procedural deficiencies that led to the death of a Sailor. (He was acquitted.) Now, we see that CAPT Owen Honors, former CO of USS Enterprise (CVN 65), is saying what everyone already knew -- that lots of senior officers knew about his videos, and didn't complain about them at the time.

It's an interesting dilemma. When one finds themselves the designated "bad guy" in a media firestorm, is it the better part of valor to fall on one's sword and assume that all the good ol' boys will appreciate you doing "the right thing" and make sure you get taken care of during your post-Navy career, or do you name names and go down fighting?

One particular case sticks out to me from the Submarine Force. I won't mention the name of the ship, but there's been one very prominent incident since this blog started where, I'm convinced, 90% or more of the submarines in the fleet would have done the exact same thing as this boat did in terms of pre-incident planning, and many would have suffered the same fate given the same tasking. Would you "take your medicine" and hope they'll take care of you behind the scenes, or come out swinging?

Guest Post: Asbestos’ Role in American Industry, Warfare and Disease

A guest post:

Throughout World War I and II, as well as during other periods of significant growth in the United States, the mineral asbestos was widely used and regarded for its ability to withstand intolerable heat and flame. The U.S. military made great use of asbestos throughout the early and mid-20th Century, as it was a beneficial tool in building naval ships and creating supplies and additional products in American factories. As the years and decades passed, however, it was discovered through medical and scientific research that asbestos is incredibly dangerous.

Mesothelioma is a fatal form of cancer that exists most notably in three forms – pleural (lungs), pericardial (heart) and peritoneal (abdomen) – and the only known cause is asbestos. This disease has generally been a mystery, with reports as far back as Ancient Greece describing strange lung ailments and mesothelioma symptoms that were killing people. However, the past 30 years of medical science have given us a much better understanding of mesothelioma, but we still have progressed very little in early diagnosis and cessation.

More than 25 million living Americans have served in the United States Armed Forces at some point in their lifetimes, including the 2.6 million that are currently enlisted in active duty and the additional 1.6 million in reserves. It is believed that asbestos has been used in the construction and maintenance of approximately 1,046 naval ships, including aircraft carriers, battleships, cruisers, submarines, destroyers, tenders, tugs, auxiliary ships, tankers and oilers, among others. Additionally, more than 300 products that have been used considerably by the U.S. Armed Forces have been identified as containing asbestos.

Asbestos was most commonly used in insulating and fireproofing the ships, with the material notably located in boilers and underwater hatches, as well as the insulation for doors on the ships’ decks. Asbestos was essentially found in nearly every area of a ship that required human presence, which means that men and women in service were consistently exposed to the material. Older ships that experienced standard wear provided an even more dangerous environment for humans, as the breakdown of materials allowed the asbestos to become airborne. As approximately 65% of diagnosed mesothelioma cases are pleural, this was seemingly a common way for a person to become afflicted.

Currently, at least 3,000 new cases of mesothelioma are identified and reported each year, and that number is expected to keep rising well through the close of this decade. Mesothelioma carries a latency period of 20 to 50 years, which makes both diagnosis and prognosis difficult for physicians, as early symptoms like persistent coughing and chest pains can basically mirror those of a common cold. But this latency period also suggests that veterans of both World Wars, as well as the Korean and Vietnam wars, who fell ill late in their lives may have been victims of mesothelioma, too.

The latency period also suggests that the number of new mesothelioma cases will peak around 2020, as asbestos use was rampant through the 1960s and 70s, and enlisted service men and women were consistently exposed to many of these commissioned naval vessels into the 1980s. More than 75% of diagnosed cases of mesothelioma occur in men over the age of 55. While Mesothelioma Life Expectancy varies based on a variety of mitigating general health factors, it is generally less than 5 years.

While the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs recognizes mesothelioma as a service-related illness, veterans are not guaranteed benefits unless they can provide proof that the disease was contracted due to service-related exposure to asbestos or other harmful substances.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Dependents Cruise From Hell

The Indian frigate INS Vindhyagiri (F42) apparently sank at the pier after colliding with a cargo ship while returning to port in Mumbai after a dependents cruise. From Times of India:
The 29-year-old Vindhyagiri and 17-year-old Nordlake collided in Mumbai harbour at around 4.45pm on Sunday, when the warship was returning from 'A Day At Sea' with around 400 navy personnel and their families. An escort had been guiding the Nordlake, a container vessel, through the harbour to reach open sea at the time. It was the fourth major collision in the harbour since March 23, 2010, sparking concerns about the safety of the navigational path.
Later on Sunday, a fire began in the engine room of the 3,000-tonne Vindhyagiri and spread. The warship was taken to the Naval Dockyard and evacuated, while the blaze was brought under control by firefighters of the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai Port Trust and Mumbai fire brigade by 3.45 pm on Monday. Mumbai fire brigade officials said naval personnel underestimated the fire and informed them too late.
Naval officials blamed the Nordlakes crew and said a third ship was also part of the confusion that led to the crash.
Vice-Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin, commander-in-chief of the Western Naval Command, told TOI on Monday, "We have investigated and it is clear that the Nordlakes crew is to blame. Vindhyagiri was returning from the sea with another vessel, MV Sea Eagle, when Nordlake was leaving the harbour. There was immense confusion between the crew of the Nordlake and the Sea Eagle. Finally the crew of the Nordlake panicked and turned the ship, ramming it the engine room and boiler of the Vindhyagiri, which was travelling at low speed. Her fuel tank also ruptured due to the impact.
Bhasin said records of communication between the Nordlake and Sea Eagle show the confusion. "The two ships first wanted to pass to the left of each other. A few minutes later, they decided to pass to the right of each other. Again a decision was taken to pass to the left of each other. As they came closer, the Nordlake crew panicked and turned right. As a result, the ship rammed into the INS Vindhyagiri.
Have you ever had a scary encounter with a merchant?