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.)

Thursday, September 30, 2004

Drudge Report Submarine Mention

Well, since the Drudge Report has a story linked about submarines, I figure I'd better comment on it, in order to fulfill the commitment I made in my first post. This article discusses Israel's reaction to the proposed Taiwanese diesel submarine project I discussed below. While the article says that Israel would possibly benefit from the US beginning diesel submarine production (since they could buy the subs with US military aid) my feeling is that the Israeli's would be just as happy continuing to buy the German subs (especially if they could get the Type 212) if we would help pay for it. This new information doesn't change my gut feeling, which is that all this talk about a US company entering the diesel submarine business is a lot of hot snorkel mast exhaust...

Also, welcome to all the visitors I've been getting from Ron Martini's Submarine Bulletin Board. For all my "other" readers (Hi, Mom!) Ron's BBS is THE Internet gathering place for bubbleheads young and old...

Important Submarine Sports Update!

The flag football team of PCU Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) is in first place in the SUBASE New London Intramural League! This follows on the heels of their incredible victory in the Intramural Softball League, the first time in my memory that a "boat team" had won the title.
Disclaimer: I admit I'm biased towards the Jimmy Carter team, since that was my last boat. While I admit I'm disappointed that they changed the team nickname from "Buffalos" (the nickname of the sports teams at Plains High School -- no link, the high school doesn't exist anymore, and it took talking to several people at the Carter Center to confirm that bit of trivia), I guess I can't argue with the results...

Wednesday, September 29, 2004

US To Build Eight Subs for Taiwan (Not!)

This article from the Washington Times discusses a plan for eight diesel submarines to be built for Taiwan by Ingalls Shipbuilding. Near the bottom of the article, one person predicts that this will never happen. I agree. Building submarines is nothing at all like building surface ships; the tolerances involved are orders of magnitude more restrictive. In order to retool Ingalls, and send down the experts from Newport News Shipyard that would be needed to oversee the effort, the costs of the boats would probably exceed the entire $18B budget Taiwan has for military modernization, even if they are diesel. But wait, you may say... can't we just build the subs to lesser specifications? That'll sure go over well in Taiwan... (Proposed headline in Taipei Times: "Greedy US Shipbuilders Put Taiwanese Submariners at Risk".)

Monday, September 27, 2004

These Statistics Do Not Make Sense!

Because we've been spending all our time moving boxes around as we unpack all our stuff and paint the new house, I haven't been as diligent about reading my newsmagazines as I should. I finally got around to reading the September 20, 2004 issue of Time; in it, I found an interview with John Kerry. One of his answers just jumped right out at me as not making any sense at all. The article is available on the Time website archives (entire article only available to those with premium access; link is to preview only). The entire article is available here, but I'm not sure how long it will last.
In response to a question about how he would go about winning the war of ideas in the Middle East, Senator Kerry offered some good suggestions, although I guess I'm not nuanced enough to see how they really differ from what President Bush has been trying to do. (Ann Althouse critiqued the Senator's response to the question here.) Senator Kerry then throws out this statistic: "You have almost 60% of the populations of Egypt and Saudi Arabia under 30, and 50% under 18."
This does not make sense. Fifty percent of the populations in one 18 year large cohort, and less than 10% in the next older 12 year group? What do they think this is, France in 1936? Think about it... for this to be true, you'd need to have to have 5 times more 0-17 year olds than 18-29. Can this be possible? Well, statisically speaking, the 0-17 year old group encompasses 6 more years than the 18-29s, so that would be a factor of 1.5. Also, there is more mortality each year, and I imagine quite a bit of emigration. But even assuming about 10% excess mortality by the older group (a very liberal assumption), that still means we have about 3 times more people born each year in the last 18 years than in the previous 12 years. (Math check: 5 divided by 1.5 equals 3.3; 3.3 times 0.9 is approximately 3. Checks!)
Once again, this does not make sense. Has the birth rate gone up in the Middle East? Yes. By that much? Don't think so... let's do a little research, shall we? (I'm not a professional journalist, of course, so my results probably won't be up to the fact-checking standards of Time magazine.)
Wait! A quick Google search under Saudi Arabia age demographics leads us to, which seems to have some fairly reliable sources. It has an age pyramid for Saudi Arabia, which, for 2003, seems to show about 13 million Saudis under age 20 and about 3.5 million between 20 and 29. This, rather than being 5 times as high, is actually just under 4 times as high. For Egypt, the age pyramid for 2003 shows similar numbers; about 31.3 million under age 20, and about 13 million ages 20-29; this is only a multiple of 2.5.
Now, without even having to add up the rest of the numbers, I can see the statistic is wrong. Not that it takes away from Senator Kerry's point, however... (I think that these countries do have about 60% of the population under 25). But, if you're running for President, and you're going to use statistics, why not use the right ones?
Conclusion: Senator Kerry threw out a statistic that doesn't stand even the slightest scrutiny, and neither the interviewer or the editors apparently gave it a second thought. I wonder if they would have been so glib if President Bush had made a similar mistake?

Wednesday, September 22, 2004

Cat Blogging

(This post is written by Bubblehead's son YellowNess). We have just gotten a new addition to the Bubblehead family. Meet Panther Babaganoush! She's about three months old, and loves to run around and chase her tail. We chose this cat because she's a monogastric, carbon-based, mammalian quadriped. We rescued her from exposure to Dihydrogen Monoxide (DMHO).
Picture to follow when Bubblehead figures out how to post the dang thing...

Update 15Oct04: I'm pretty sure I figured out how to do this... click here for the picture!

Tuesday, September 21, 2004

Russian Sub Visits France

This article from The Moscow News discusses the visit of a Russian Akula II submarine, the Vepr, to Brest, France. It states the visit is the first foreign port visit by a Russian nuclear sub. I suppose this might be true, to a point. A Soviet Charlie I nuclear submarine was leased to India from 1988 to 1991 and operated as INS Charka with a Soviet crew under an Indian captain, obviously entering Indian ports at that time. However, since that was a Soviet sub, vice Russian, I suppose the article could still be accurate. I can't find any evidence to support this, but I would be very surprised if Soviet nuclear subs didn't visit Cam Ran Bay (spelling varies) in Vietnam during the 80's. Again, though, these would have been Soviet, vice Russian, boats.
I wouldn't read too much into this with regard to French cooperation with the Russians at U.S. expense. Russia, as a member of the Partnership for Peace, routinely conducts naval operations with NATO members. (OK, maybe not routinely, but whenever they can afford it.) I'm just happy for the crew that their submarine was able to make it all the way from home port near Murmansk to the Atlantic...

Going deep...

Update: A French source for the same story. This one mentions a safe navigation treaty that will be signed in conjunction with the exercise as well.

Monday, September 20, 2004

Naming of Submarines

Recently, the Department of the Navy released the selection of the name for the fifth Virginia class submarine. The new boat will be christened USS New Hampshire (SSN 778). This is in line with the previously stated policy of naming the Virginia-class boats after states. (The first four are Virginia, Texas, Hawaii, and North Carolina.) Although states are always politically popular names, I expect that eventually we'll see political expediency cause the Navy to throw in an exception. Ever since they stopped the tradition of naming submarines for fish, submarine names have been all over the map. Today, we have 18 Ohio-class submarines, all named for states with the exception of the USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730). The Los Angeles-class attack submarines are mostly named for cities, with once again one notable exception (USS Hyman G. Rickover, SSN 709). The worst example of screwing around with ship names and tradition is, of course, the Seawolf class. Don't get me wrong, these are great boats -- I served on two of them. However, not only did they name them after a fish, a state (USS Connecticut), and a President (PCU Jimmy Carter), they also threw out a century of tradition and started the hull numbers over at SSN-21. This was the original program name, and stood for "submarine for the 21st century". Thankfully, they went back to the original sequence of numbers for the Virginia class; I only wish they could have left 3 numbers vacant after USS Cheyenne (SSN 773) for some future tradition-minded Secretary of the Navy to rectify the mistake...

Going deep....

Saturday, September 18, 2004

Stupid Analogies

No earth-shaking submarine news today, so I went searching for examples of stupidity to mock and belittle. Didn't take much searching, it turns out. In the Letters to the Editor section of my local newspaper, the Idaho Statesman, I found this gem. (Last letter, titled "Bush is misguided".)

Excerpt: "If George W. Bush had been president on Dec. 7, 1941, he would have declared war on a country like Spain rather than on Germany and Japan. Despite the fact that it was Japan that had attacked the United States, Bush would have argued that Spain was the real threat to world security."

Of course, we know that President Roosevelt actually did concentrate the majority of our resources to defeat Germany, which, as we know, had nothing to do with the "so-called sneak attack" on Pearl Harbor, never used WMDs in WWII (despite using them in a previous war), and had probably been wronged in the grossly unfair Versailles peace treaties following WWI by the imperialistic Western powers. Also, since we had been an ally of Italy in WWI, we shouldn't have been able to go to war with them. (Note: The previous two sentences were "writ ironical"; since I'm a new blogger, I figure I may have to specify this so I don't appear to be part of the lunatic fringe on either side of the political spectrum.)
A better analogy to the Coalition's attack on Iraq, of course, is to compare it to what probably would have happened if the Western powers had confronted Germany following the remilitarization of the Rhineland in 1936. President Bush's resolve in taking this politically risky action will be the subject of a later post.

Friday, September 17, 2004

Trident Submarines Transferring from Georgia

Here's an article from the Seattle Post-Intelligencer that actually seems fairly accurate. Of the 18 Ohio-Class (commonly called "Trident") submarines, four are going to be converted to Tomahawk missile carrying boats. Since the four being converted (USS Ohio, USS Michigan, USS Georgia, and USS Florida) were all stationed at Naval Submarine Base Bangor, several of the remaining SSBNs (ballistic missile submarines) were going to have to move there from Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Georgia, in order to even up the numbers.

Obligatory First Post

Welcome to my blog! As tradition requires, I plan on rambling on a while, then posting, then looking at my page, then realizing I've spelled something wrong, then spending the rest of the night figuring out how to change it.
Who am I? I'm a recently retired submarine officer who finally feels free of the (mostly self-imposed) restrictions regarding public speech by military officers. I've been lurking on the blogosphere for about a year and a half, and like about 3 million others, feel the need to share my thoughts with whoever visits (hopefully, at least my family... Hi, Mom!).
Why does this blog exist? This blog has a three-fold purpose: 1) To be the one-stop shop in the blogosphere for any submarine-related news item that somehow makes it into the public domain. Don't look here for anything classified, though... just because I post it, doesn't mean that it's true. I'll try to give my best guess about whether or not the referenced article is at all accurate, or (more likely) why the writer doesn't know his ass from his elbow when it comes to submarines. 2) When submarine news is slow (as it normally is) I plan on exposing, mocking, and holding up to ridicule any particularly stupid items that get put out by the chattering classes (pajama-clad or mainstream). Does this mean that my opinion is any better than anyone elses? It depends on how you define "better". If it means "contains at least a little logic and some realistic knowledge of how the world really works" then I hope the answer will be yes.
And finally, this blog will 3) fulfill a promise I made to my sons to start a blog as soon as I got out of the Navy. They think that Frank J. is really cool, and hopefully this will make them think that I am too.
What's up with the title? The phrase "The Stupid Shall Be Punished" is a common one in the submarine world. Basically, it means that people who do or say stupid things can expect to get called on it. To me, this also seems to epitomize the spirit of the blogosphere, which I humbly join with this post...

Going deep...