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, April 29, 2011

Favorite Submarine Class

RDML Bruner, COMSUBGRU Ten, posted a "Welcome Home" message to USS Florida (SSGN 728) on the Submarine Group TEN blog, thusly:
USS FLORIDA – SSGN 728, returns home from deployment today. She’s been gone for over 14 months, worked for three different Combatant Commanders, and successfully completed every mission assigned. It is amazing to think about the conversion of FLORIDA from a strategic deterrent to a Special Operations and Guided-missile submarine – a tremendous adaptation to the changing strategic environment. Her success, which culminated in her superb support to operation ODYSSEY DAWN, certainly validates the decision made almost ten years ago to convert the first four OHIO class submarines rather than decommission them.
But as good a ship as FLORIDA is – it’s her crew (both Blue and Gold crews) and their families that deserve our thanks. I will be on the pier to greet them later today and would ask you to come too – to welcome them back too as you run into FLORIDA’s crew members and families. BZ to them for a superb deployment – and Welcome Home!!!
This was interesting, but I was more excited about the poll on the left side of the page. It asked for your favorite submarine class, and right now both Ohio (SSBN) and Ohio (SSGN) are ahead of the three active classes of Fast Attack boats. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, since this is a boomer group running the poll; that being said, I don't know if us SSN guys can let this challenge pass unanswered. Let's all head over to the Group TEN blog and vote for your favorite active submarine class. Personally, I voted for the fastest, most heavily-armed (from a conventional sense) and overall bestest submarine class ever built -- the "Sea Wolf" (sic) class. Your mileage may vary.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

SECNAV On CO Firings

Here's a good article on Secretary Mabus' thoughts about the spate of CO firings over the last few years; basically, he seems to be saying that there's not a problem, and the problem definitely isn't the fault of the Navy senior leadership. Excerpts:
Mabus said the service hasn't initiated any investigations into the rate of disciplinary firings among its commanders and won't add any additional professional military education or programs to address the problems that led to the career-ending errors.
"I think we're doing something about it because we're the ones who go in, and we're the ones who relieve them, and we're the ones who publicize it," Mabus explained. "We do it so there will be some lessons learned."
He believes relieving commanders in swift and visible ways serve as cautionary tales for those who remain in leadership roles.
While you're digesting that, you still have until 1900 EDT today to vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished as Best U.S. Military Veteran Blog.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

News And Notes, And A Bleg

Some items of interest around the submarine world:

1) The lost bell of USS Triton (SS 201) has been found, and will be put in the Triton Barracks at Great Lakes.

2) USS La Jolla (SSN 701) is making the first ever visit of a U.S. nuclear submarine to Goa, India. Here's a picture:

3) I'm hearing that Submarine Department Head screening for YG05 will actually be putting a fairly large number of officers in the "not cleared" category. Has JO retention been up because of the recession? According to this description of the new "two-look" screening process, that's the case. What I'm hearing is that something like 80 officers might not screen.

4) Remember to vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished for Best U.S. Military Veteran Blog at the 5th Annual MilBloggies. Don't let the Skimmer-Friend win!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Vote For TSSBP!

Voting for the 5th Annual MilBloggies is now open! The Stupid Shall Be Punished was nominated in the "Best U.S. Military Veteran Blog" category, along with a number of outstanding milblogs:

As you go through most of these blogs, you see that they generally post several insightful articles a day -- as opposed to my style, which seems to be posting two or three times a week and letting the commenters run free. You'll also see that a few of them have offered tasteful, humble requests for your vote. However, I'm a submariner, so I'm going the "make it personal" route -- that's the way I roll.

I don't expect to win this thing, but I'd really like to beat Neptunux Lex. Not only is he the only other Navy-centric guy on the list, he's also an Airdale who has been know to serve on ships with thousands of Skimmers. We're not going to let a Skimmer-Friend beat us Submariners, are we?

It looks like you can only vote once from each computer, but please feel free to encourage your friends, kids, and kid's friends with computer skillz to vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished. You'll be glad you did. Voting ends Thursday, 28 April, at 1900 EDT.

Update 1020 30 Apr: Congratulations to Neptunus Lex and all the other winners!

Update 2023 02 May: I got a badge for being a finalist!

Super Secret Tube Daze Video

Here's a link to a Tube Daze episode commissioned by the crew of USS Alabama for a recent underway. See it now before it gets pulled from YouTube. Bad word warning!

Friday, April 22, 2011

The Russians Are(n't) Coming!

The Bristol Bay Times reports that an unexpected PERSTRANS from a submarine in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, caused the locals to start the rumor there was a Russian submarine with an engineering casualty in the harbor. Excerpts:
Lt. Ed Early with the U.S. Navy's Submarine Group 9 based in Washington state confirmed that is wasn't a Russian sub, but couldn't say any more since the military's policy is not to comment on submarine operations. It is supposedly a U.S. Navy Los Angeles class submarine dropping off scientists who had spent the past few months in the Arctic.
A quick look at the picture shows what seems to be a fillet (or what we used to call a "boot") in front of the sail, so it's unlikely to be a Los Angeles-class boat. If the boat really was dropping of scientists from a mission in the Arctic, it's more probably that this was actually my old boat USS Connecticut (SSN 22) returning from ICEX 2011. As far as an American submarine being rumored to be a Russian boat pulling into a U.S. port, I admit I was once fooled.

What's the most obscure port you've ever pulled into?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

New Navy Submarine Video

Here's a new "informational" video from the U.S. Navy about submarines:

My favorite part is when they correctly say that "the Seawolf class is exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors". Especially the "fast" part.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

2011 MILbloggies

Nominations are open for the 5th Annual MILbloggies! You can nominate your favorite blog in various categories here. And find links to some of the most popular military blogs here.

Update 1801 22 Apr: The list of finalists is here. TSSBP is a finalist in the "U.S. Military Veteran" category; thanks to "Ears" and "Ross" for nominating us. Voting with start Monday, April 25.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Submarine Currency

From a reader:
I am a current JO who just came back from my first underway. One thing that I observed is that energy drinks have become the new "currency" on board. Need a hair cut or some paperwork by the end of the day? A 5 Hour Energy, Monster, or Red Bull will help get the job done quickly. In addition, the value of these items increased as the patrol wore on. I would be interested to hear from the group regarding how things used to get done (cigarettes, coffee, hard candy...)
What was the most popular "underway currency" on your boat? My favorite was using actual currency to try to pay the last mess bill of the patrol to the Chop. "No, Joel, for the last time, I will not take 500 yen, 20000 won, 5 dinari, 1000 baht, and 10 Australian dollars for your mess bill. American dollars only!"

Happy 111th Birthday, Submariners!

I'll be wearing my dolphins to work today in honor of the 111th Birthday of the U.S. Submarine Force. Happy Birthday, Submariners!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Shooting on HMS Astute

Breaking news from the BBC:
One person has been killed and another is in a life-threatening condition after a shooting on board the nuclear submarine HMS Astute.
A man was arrested after police were called at 1212 BST to Southampton docks where the vessel has been berthed since Wednesday as part of a five-day visit.
The BBC's Jonathan Beale understands that a crew member shot two of his crew mates before being overpowered.
Since initial reports are often wrong, I'm not going to draw any conclusions yet. Prayers going out to all involved.

More information from this article in the Telegraph. It seems a little more sensationalistic (bringing up the "servicepeople who have served in Afghanistan are very likely to go crazy" canard in the 5th paragraph) so I'm less inclined to believe it, but it claims that an officer is dead, and the shooting happened when the off-going topside watch shot his relief and accompanying officer when an argument broke out during watch relief.

Staying at PD...

Update 1124 08 Apr: Here's an update from the Guardian. They confirm that the person arrested was a Sailor, and that the city's mayor was onboard at the time of the shooting.

Update 0927 09 Apr: More information from this follow-up article in the Telegraph and this one from the Daily Mail. The suspect is a 22 year old Able Seaman. The dead officer is identified as Lt-Cdr Ian Molyneux. Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Thursday, April 07, 2011

"Locks Keep Honest People Honest"

So there I was... back on my JO tour on the good ship Topeka, getting ready to get underway for some exercise, probably support for a JTFEX or something. In any event, I had been part of the team that had got the boat regenerated for carrying "special" weapons back when we did that sort of thing. As a result, we had one of the "special" safes -- you know, one of the two-lock ones where you aren't allowed to even write down the combination anywhere. I was one of the guys who had one of the combinations, and we had just changed it the week before.

Anyway, we had to inventory the "cookies" or whatever it was we called them at the time before getting underway that afternoon, and wouldn't you know it -- the lock I was responsible for wouldn't open. The CO ("He Who Must Not Be Named") was understandably perturbed, and told us to "get that #$%#&$@ safe open; I don't care how you do it". We called up the tender to send over the locksmith, but he wasn't going to get there for several hours. So, being industrious young officers and gentlemen, we took to cracking the safe. Despite having no training, we got it open within a couple of hours; I think it was supposed to be rated for either 6 or 12 hours. The locksmith showed up a couple hours later and put in new locks, and we were good to go.

As it turns out, it was probably my fault the lock didn't open. The CO had accused me and my partner of forgetting the combination, which was untrue; we had used one of the two most common submarine methods of remembering combinations you can't write down. The first and, I think, most common way back in the early '90s was to convert an easily remembered six-letter phrase to the telephone keypad equivalent, and use that as a safe combination. (38-25-63 was fairly common; this translated to "F&ck Me".) We had used the other method -- using the level/frame/item designation from the brass placard of a nearby piece of electrical equipment. This is where we went wrong. Since a submarine is fairly narrow, the last number is normally fairly low, as there are only a limited number of pieces of equipment that can fit on each level and frame. (The first number has the same problem, with only 3 levels on an SSN.) It was the last number that got us; as we were reading the lock instructions when trying to open it, we found a prohibition against making the last number between 01-05; since this was one of the locks that you rotate back to zero before opening, last numbers this low didn't give the lock enough time to always engage the opening mechanism. It worked when we tested it after setting the combination, but apparently not thereafter. (I never did tell HWMNBN exactly what we'd done wrong.) After that, we always added a certain number to the placard code we used.

Have you ever had a problem with a lost key or combination on the boat?

Wednesday, April 06, 2011

Brit Submarines Return To Port

HMS Triumph (S93) returned home from firing missiles at Libya in the inimitable British fashion:

Meanwhile, HMS Vengeance (S31) returned home from a training run in much less triumphant fashion, accompanied by press reports that she had lost propulsion:
An MoD spokesman said: "Vengeance has suffered a mechanical defect resulting in a reduction in propulsion. She is returning to Faslane under her own power. She is still at sea."
He added that the incident is "not nuclear related".
The spokesman said he was unable to confirm reports by a newspaper that the submarine's propulsion unit had become fouled by sea debris.
How would you rather return to homeport? To public acclaim after a successful war patrol? Or to public ridicule doing 3 knots on the outboard? (OK, that question is kind of rhetorical. My memory of slinking back home is here.)

Update 1520 08 Apr: Here are pictures of the return of USS Providence (SSN 719) to Groton after her successful war patrol. Nary a broom in sight...

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Weekend Links

Here's are a few links people sent this week. I really do try to respond to my mail, but especially on my "long weeks" at work (four days instead of three) I don't get as much time to get back to people, particularly when it's nice enough to golf during my days off. Here's what I got:

1) An article about how USS Ronald Reagan reacted to running through the plume of radioactive contamination from the Japanese reactors. The Reagan's young Rad Health Officer is quoted extensively; I expect he took some crap from the nucs on board after the article came out.

2) What seems to be a pretty decent technical discussion about what went on inside the Fukushima Daiichu reactors. I'm not familiar enough with this design to say if it's accurate or not.

3) An inside look at the newest generation of drug-running submersibles.

4) USS Memphis (SSN 691) was decommissioned on Friday. She just returned from her final deployment last month. Pictures from the decommissioning ceremony can be found here.

5) After starting with a snowman on the opening par 3, I got 6 straight bogeys and finished with 2 double bogeys on my first round of golf of the year. Considering I hadn't hit a golf ball since November, I felt pretty good about it.

Idealism Meets Reality

The young Congressman from our district, Rep. Raul Labrador, ran on a very idealistic platform that essentially boiled down to "America was a much better place in the 19th century, and we should return to that" -- basically, straight Tea Party doctrine. (My posts from the campaign are here, here, and here.) As the underdog, Rep. Labrador apparently felt he needed to tap into Tea Party anger to get the Republican nomination, so he was the only major candidate to fill out the Tea Party Boise questionnaire. This document asked the candidates to "commit" or "pledge" to do several things, many of which were clearly delusional. Among the things that Candidate Labrador pledged to do was to "Vote "NO" on any bill that has not been read and understood by you and published on the web for at least 7 days prior to the vote". [Emphasis mine]

Fast forward to April Fool's Day. The Republican-controlled House had instituted a rule that non-emergency bills had to be online for three calendar days prior to a vote, so there have been plenty of bills that didn't meet the 7 day pledge of Rep. Labrador. On 4/1, the House voted on the "Government Shutdown Prevention Act of 2011", which had been introduced on March 30th (not even past the 72 Hour window promised by Rep. Boehner in 2010). The bill's frankly humorous purpose was to say that a bill previously passed by the House, and not passed by the Senate, was to be "hereby enacted into law" unless the Senate met their April 6th ultimatum; even Fox News agrees that the bill is foolish. Nevertheless, Rep. Labrador violated his own pledge by voting "YES" on the bill, despite the fact that it hadn't been on the web for at least seven days. (The "Defund NPR" bill had the same 72 Hour problem; Rep. Labrador was out of town, and didn't vote for that bill.)

Expect any defense of this violation of the pledge to center on the "emergency" nature of the bill; this would just tend to show that Congressman Labrador, whom I personally like, has bought into the Washington culture that voting for symbolic bills that have zero chance of becoming law is an "emergency". I don't have a problem with a politician recognizing, after he assumes office, that the reality of the world doesn't match his idealistic beliefs as a candidate; I just don't want them to blow smoke up my butt for their reasons for facing up to reality. I'll be interested to see if Rep. Labrador explains this to his Tea Party supporters before he renews his "pledges" in 2012.