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.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Another Indian Submarine Suffers Mishap

Only 6 months after the tragic explosion and fire aboard INS Sindhurakshak (S63), another Indian Kilo, INS Sindhuratna (S 59) suffered a mishap, this one at sea; the Indian CNO resigned as a result:
The submarine, Sindhuratna, was forced to surface after smoke was detected on board, the government said in a statement. Seven crew members were airlifted from the submarine and admitted to a hospital in Mumbai, where they were in stable condition, said Narendra Vispute, a spokesman for the Indian Navy. Two other crew members were missing, “and all efforts are in progress to locate them,” the statement said.
After the accident, Adm. D. K. Joshi, chief of the Indian naval staff, submitted his resignation, “taking moral responsibility for the accidents and incidents which have taken place during the past few months,” the statement said. The government accepted his resignation and will appoint a new naval chief.
While details are still coming in, it appears that two officers (a LCDR and LT) are still missing and feared dead, and 7 crewmembers were medivac'd off after a fire in the "3rd compartment". (A Kilo has six compartments.) Initial reports indicate a battery casualty and possible fire, with the missing officers being sealed inside when the compartment was isolated. Sindharatna was reported undergoing sea trials following a 6 month refit.

Staying at PD and sending prayers and best wishes for the missing Submariners, their shipmates, and loved ones.

Update 1150 2/27: The missing officers are reported to be dead. More information here. Lieutenant Commander Kapish Muwal and Lieutenant Manoranjan Kumar, rest your oars.

It's been a bad week for submarines in the Indian Ocean. An Australian boat, HMAS Waller (SSG 75) also suffered a fire during post-upkeep sea trials, with four Sailors sent to shore for observation after the fire was put out.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

This Is A Ridiculous Reason To Fire Someone

I'm kinda speechless over this one. From the Navy website:
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Director, Strategic Systems Programs Vice Adm. Terry Benedict relieved Capt. John P. Heatherington, commanding officer of Naval Ordnance Test Unit (NOTU), Cape Canaveral, Fla., of his duties Feb. 18 due to loss of confidence in Heatherington's ability to command and for promoting an unprofessional command climate that was contrary to good order and discipline.
Heatherington was relieved and received non-judicial punishment (NJP) after a thorough command investigation revealed circumstances related to a command-sponsored, off-duty event. He failed to prevent members of his command from wrongfully soliciting items of monetary value and accepting items of value from a company doing business with the Department of Defense. He also wrongfully affiliated the U. S. Navy with businesses that are not representative of the Navy and DoD's high standards.
The mission of NOTU is to support and test sea based weapons systems. The circumstances in question are not related to NOTU's mission. Safety, security and integrity have not been compromised. No impact on NOTU's ability to continue their mission is expected...
...NOTU's senior enlisted leader, Master Chief Petty Officer Eric Spindle, was also relieved of his duties for similar reasons. Command Master Chief(SS) Victor Smith, SSP CMC, has assumed duties as senior enlisted leader for NOTU.
Here's some more background from Navy Times. CAPT Heatherington is the former CO of USS Pasadena (SSN 752), and Master Chief Spindle is an MTCM(SS) well-respected enough to have been on the FY2014 E-9 board. The businesses that were "wrongfully affiliated" with that are "not representative" of the Navy are local strip clubs. The Admiral who did the firing is a known skimmer, who brazenly wears his water wings in his official photo but no Command at Sea pin, because he's an EDO and never held command at sea.

Note that Captain Heatherington and Master Chief Spindle are not accused of actively soliciting the donations from the strip club -- they just knew about it and didn't stop it. Sorry, but to me, unless the Skimmer Admiral had personally crayoned out an order that no units under his command were allowed to solicit strip club donations for a fundraising golf tournament, this is a ridiculous reason to fire anyone. PC culture run amok. Ridiculous. Likewise, the "company doing business with the Navy" solicitation rule is idiotic, and firing someone because their guys broke the rule without malice is stupid.

As with all controversial topics, YMMV, and I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Monday, February 17, 2014

150 Years Ago

Today marks the 150th anniversary of CSS Hunley's sinking of USS Housatonic, the first successful submarine attack in history. Hunley was lost with all hands shortly after the attack, but her raised hull is providing a trove of information to historians. Here's a drawing of the boat from the Navy History webpage:



Speaking of anniversaries, the Navy Cyberspace blog, one of the older milblogs, celebrated their 10th blogiversary yesterday. If you haven't visited in a while, your should stop by and see what Tom's been up to over there.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Controversial Topics

I ended up closing comments on the previous thread because people mentioned names of people who weren't in the news in a negative light, which is one of the very few commenting rules we have here on TSSBP. In addition, there was one commenter who spoofed an active duty Submariner (using the Submariners name as the commenter "name"), which is completely out of bounds. Since I allow anonymous commenting, I can't "ban" anyone from commenting, but if I could, that guy would be gone.

Let's see how we do on some other potentially controversial stories in the news:

1) USS Scranton (SSN 756) tried 8 hour watches to get a 24 hour "day" on the boat. Here's a story about how it went.

2) Do abusive leaders get promoted in the Navy? The answer may shock you! (Yes, I did the click-bait "answer may shock you" intentionally because I think it's funny when websites say that in the lede.) REMEMBER: When telling sea stories about abusive leaders, NO NAMES! Come up with something clever like "He Who Must Not Be Named" (although you can't use that one, because I've already claimed that for one SUBRON 11 boat CO I served under in the early '90s).

3) Iran is claiming they're sending a "fleet" (consisting of a 45 year old destroyer and a "helicopter carrier" that is really an oiler/repair ship that has a single helo landing pad) near the U.S. maritime border. Various commenters claim that the President is somehow weak if he doesn't sink them in international waters because if he doesn't it proves Obama is a Muslim or something. [Seriously, why is it that otherwise reasonable people -- including some Submariners -- seem to lose all perspective and rationality where President Obama is concerned?] Personally, I think the odds of them making it past the equator are fairly low without one of the vessels needing to be taken under tow, but they might surprise us, in which case the 2nd Fleet TF 80 might get some excellent training opportunities.

Bell-ringer 0640 11 Feb: Changed "2nd Fleet" to "TF 80", as I'd forgotten C2F had been disestablished a couple years ago. That's what happens when you've been out of the Navy for too long, you tend to forget things like that.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

USS Seawolf COB Relieved

The Chief of the Boat of USS Seawolf (SSN 21) was relieved today, according to this Navy press release:
The chief of the boat (COB) of the fast attack submarine USS Seawolf (SSN 21) was relieved of his duties Feb. 6 due to unsatisfactory performance while serving as Chief of the Boat.
Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Mark R. Philiposian was removed from his position by Cmdr. Jeff Bierley, Seawolf commanding officer.
Philiposian, who had served as COB since December 2012, has been administratively reassigned to Submarine Development Squadron 5 in Bangor.
An "unsatisfactory performance" relief is fairly uncommon; normally, if a guy doesn't cut it as COB, they'd try to just get him relieved early without making it a "firing". I'm wondering if it has anything to do with a recent change of command. Seawolf had just returned from deployment last month, with CAPT Broderick Berkhout in command. I can't find any new stories about a subsequent change of command (and the squadron boat page still lists CAPT Berkhout as the CO), but there must have been one in the last 16 days, as the link above saying CDR Bierley is the CO is from the official Navy page. It's one of those things that makes one wonder if the new CO just didn't like the COB, or the outgoing CO had passed down that he might want to take that action.

Navy Times has a little more information about who they tried to contact and whatnot, including a statement from the SUBPAC spokesman that the firing was not based on a single incident.

Update 0837 07 Feb: Based on comments, the Change of Command was earlier this week, and was a regularly-scheduled handover. It sounds like both outgoing and incoming COs concurred with the action. Back in the day, it was always understood that a CO got one "free" firing during his tour, but any more than one would get squadron coming in and asking questions. If that's still the "rule", I'm assuming this one won't be charged soley to Captain Bierley.

Update 1615 10 Feb: C'mon, guys, you know the rules -- no mentioning people's names in a negative way whose names are not in the news. Anecdotal stories without names (e.g. "one COB back in the '90s on a SUBRON 8 boat") have just as much impact, and I don't get nasty E-mails from wives and friends. Closing comments and deleting some of the more egregious ones, along with some comments that lack context without the deleted ones.

Tuesday, February 04, 2014

Uh-Oh

Well, it's not just the Air Force that's freaking out the media with an alleged cheating scandal involving the word "nuclear". From Navy Times:
The Navy’s top admiral says the service is investigating alleged cheating among senior sailors on written tests related to training on naval nuclear power reactors...
...The allegations involve alleged cheating on tests related to the nuclear reactors that provide propulsion for Navy submarines and aircraft carriers...
...At this stage of the investigation, approximately a dozen sailors are believed to be involved in the alleged cheating, although the investigation is still active and has not reached final conclusions.
Kind of scary, and potentially more damaging to the Navy than the Memphis scandal back in 2010. I have no idea what group is alleged to have cheated, but certain words in the story ("senior sailors", "submarines and aircraft carriers", "approximately a dozen") would certainly seem to point to an elite periodic school in the D.C. area that gives nuclear training to both submarine and carrier very "senior" Sailors and has fairly small class sizes. I really hope it isn't that school they're talking about, and that instead it's just guys cheating on the PNEO exam -- although I'm not sure how they'd really do that, since studying questions from previous exams is the entire curriculum of Engineer's School.

Update 1510 2/4: Looks like it's not PCO School. This article on CNN.com is unintelligible, but since it mentions "enlistees" and "South Carolina", I'm gonna guess it might be Nuc School or NPTU staff proficiency exams.

Update 0635 2/5: As more information comes out, it looks like it was EWS qualification exams for sea returnee instructors. So it's a bigger deal than if it was the quarterly T-Week CT exams.
Here's a link to the transcript of the press conference the CNO and ADM Richardson had on the subject yesterday, along with the video: