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.)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

"Burn A Flick"

IMHO, two of the most important things affecting crew morale happened in Crew's Mess. Everyone knows that the quality of food is a very important indicator of crew happiness, but I always thought that how a submarine handled movies was an excellent indicator of how "together" they were. I would imagine that, with portable electronic devices available to the crew that allows them to watch movies or play games in their rack, this would be less important nowadays, but back in the day, it was very meaningful.

How a boat chose which movie to watch said a lot about them, but what happened after the movie was chosen was most telling. I believe that the most successful boats would do a rotation -- usually by division -- with breaks in the schedule when someone earned their fish, wherein the newest Submariner would choose. The most important part, however, would be how the crew reacted if an unpopular movie was selected. The best and most cohesive crews would respect their shipmate enough to sit through the movie; if the movie was a stinker, they'd give the picker the appropriate level of abuse, but they'd at least give the guy a chance. How did your boat handle movie time?

(Also, re: movies, I liked the midwatch game wherein people would have to choose which from a group of two movies they liked best, or disliked least. You could learn a lot about someone that way. My personal favorite for dividing the world, back in the day, was the "Body Double" vs. "Body Heat" question.)

Friday, July 19, 2013

Spring 2013 Undersea Warfare Magazine Out

The long-awaited Spring 2013 issue of Undersea Warfare magazine is posted. Several good articles on the submarine forces of our Pacific allies.

Update 1555 19 July: Also in the news today, RADM Breckenridge defends SSBN force level requirements, and Reuters has a story about what my old boat USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) may or may not be doing in the wake of recent interest in the NSA.

Update 0940 20 July: Some boats are experimenting with 8 hour watches. What do you think of the idea? Personally, back in my coffee-drinking days, I only had a 6 hour bladder, so I would have definitely needed a short relief to get through 8 hours.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

First Nuclear CO Passes

VADM Eugene Wilkinson, the first CO of USS Nautilus (SSN 751 571), passed away late last week. From the message:
1. It is with sincere sadness that I report the passing of Vice Admiral Eugene P. "Dennis" Wilkinson, USN(Ret) on 11 July 2013. VADM Wilkinson graduated from San Diego State University in 1938 and was commissioned in 1940. His 34 years of honorable service was highlighted by his pioneering of nuclear power and culminated in his appointment as the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Submarine Warfare. Vice Admiral Wilkinson served in two surface ships and ten submarines, including eight war patrols in USS DARTER (SS 227) and command of three diesel submarines, most notably, he served as the first commanding officer of both the first nuclear powered submarine, USS NAUTILUS (SSN 571), and the first nuclear powered cruiser USS LONG BEACH (CGN 9).
2. VADM Wilkinson was instrumental in the early development of Navy nuclear propulsion. In the late 1940s, he served in a variety of nuclear billets at the Oak Ridge and Argonne National Laboratories and the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. At 1100 on 17 January 1955, then-Captain Wilkinson signaled "Underway on Nuclear Power" from NAUTILUS, marking the United States Navy's entry into the nuclear power age. His leadership of NAUTILUS and LONG BEACH were critical to charting the course for today's Navy and fundamentally changed the way we fight from the sea.
3. Following his retirement in 1974, Vice Admiral Wilkinson continued to advance nuclear power by serving as the first president and CEO of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations.
Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Update 1230 16 July: If anyone who served under Admiral Wilkinson at any time would like to share some memories of him as a leader, a reporter for the Navy Times is looking to do some quick phone interviews. Drop me an E-mail at joel(dot)bubblehead(at)gmail(dot)com and I'll put you in touch with her.

Update 1555 16 July: Updated to correct the Nautilus' hull number based on a comment.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Watchstanders Gone Wild

While I'm perusing the CIMSEC website on Maritime Security put together by a bunch of JOs, I figured I'd repost a post I put out in 2009 to get inputs from any new readers:

Anyone remember this blurb from The Hunt For Red October?
"The engineers went about their duties calmly. The noise in the engine room spaces rose noticeably as the systems began to put out more power, and the technicians kept track of this by continuously monitoring the banks of instruments under their hands. The routine was quiet and exact. There was no extraneous conversation, no distraction. Compared to a submarine's reactor spaces, a hospital operating room was a den of libertines."
Discuss. Remember, though, that we have some wives reading, so you should avoid stories that go something like "the throttleman fell asleep so the RO put his junk in the throttleman's ear"... unless they're really, really funny.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

USS Boise Sailor Reportedly Lost

Media reports (nothing official I could find on any Navy websites) indicate that a Sailor onboard USS Boise (SSN 764) fell overboard around noon today at Norfolk Naval Station; his body was reportedly recovered by divers. Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Staying at PD...

Update 1420 07 July: While the name of the lost Submariner has been put out by some people on social media, I don't intend to post his name until the Navy makes the official announcement, and would ask TSSBP commenters to do the same.

Update 1445 08 July: From the Navy website:
The body of a Sailor assigned to USS Boise (SSN 764) was recovered in Norfolk, July 6, during a Navy-led search for the crew member who fell overboard while the submarine was moored to a Naval Station Norfolk pier.
Sonar Technician Submarine Seaman Rolando Acosta, 21, of Plainview, Texas was found dead after falling overboard around noon while standing duty. An investigation is ongoing.
The Navy notified Acosta's family and conveyed its condolences for their loss.
"Seaman Acosta was a hardworking and highly valued shipmate," said Boise Commanding Officer Cmdr. Scott Luers. "His presence will be missed by USS Boise and throughout the submarine force. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family."
Acosta reported to Boise last December. The Norfolk-based submarine was Acosta's first assignment after enlisting in the Navy in January 2012. He attended Navy Submarine School in Groton from March to November last year.
Update 1205 10 July: SN Acosta's funeral will be held in his hometown of Plainview, TX, on Monday.

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Happy Independence Day!

Happy Independence Day! It's a great day to celebrate the birth of our great country!

Growing up, the 4th was always one of my favorite holidays. My dad was really big into fireworks, and like most teenage boys, I liked blowing stuff up. After I joined the Navy, I enjoyed the festivities the base would offer, and usually tried to pull duty on the holiday. In San Diego in the early '90s, B-List Hollywood celebrities would come down to the base, and we once had Khrystyne Haje eat dinner in our Wardroom on Topeka. As we moved towards the end of the decade, however, it seemed that, at least in Groton, the focus seemed to move from "honoring those who serve" to "an excuse to get civilians on base" -- the holiday became more about providing bodies for extra duty for traffic direction and trying to "sell" the military to a bunch of mullet-wearing civilians. This scaled back after 9/11, of course, but I'm worried it might degenerate into that again. For now, it looks like some bases aren't doing much at all.

What was your favorite way to celebrate the 4th on active duty? Did you like hanging out on base, or did you use the holiday as a chance to get away from the base?