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, June 30, 2005

HMS Gotland Arrives in San Diego

The Swedish submarine HMS Gotland has been re-united with her crew in San Diego. Of note to those who think the US Navy needs to invest in small diesel submarines, and somehow thinks they'll still be able to respond quickly to distant threats:

“We have been waiting for this day,” said Lt. Cmdr. Jan Westas, commanding officer of Gotland, which was shipped on a container ship from Sweden while the crew traveled separately. “We have all missed Gotland. Everyone is motivated, ready and eager to go to sea and get back to work.”

Nonetheless, this should be a great training aid for the fleet, while freeing up local sub crews from the drudgery of playing "diesel-boat OPFOR". As soon as the crew gets Gotland recovered from the transit, they should be ready to support the fall cycle of exercises.

"Before beginning the yearlong training here, Gotland’s crew has to complete a lot of work to make the boat ready for sea.
“This is the first time Gotland has been in the Pacific, which is very different from the Baltic Ocean,” Westas said. Gotland was built for operating in the waters around Scandinavia, which has less salt content. “Now that we are in the Pacific, we will have to re-ballast Gotland for the Pacific.”

One last quote from the article didn't really make sense, so I think the JO2 writing the story may have messed it up; anyone who's working with the Swedes can correct me if I'm wrong, though:
"The 30-person male and female crew is comprised of 19 officers and 11 conscripts."

Nineteen officers? On a 30 person crew? And no enlisted volunteers? I'm wondering if the JO2 somehow committed the common media error of lumping in the Petty Officers with the commissioned "officers"...

Going deep...

SubFest Returns to Groton

For the first time since July 2001, Subase New London will be lowering the threatcon level enough to hold SubFest. Looks like it's scaled back quite a bit, though; I remember back in 1998 they had Spin Doctors, 98 Degrees and Sixpence None The Richer. OK, so they're not the biggest names in music, but it's still better than the "circus clowns, trapeze artists, the Performing Poodles of Paris, and Liberty the Horse" that they have this year.
To be honest, I never really liked SubFest -- having all the civilians crowd onto the base made for a real pain in the ass weekend, especially if you had duty. I know it was supposed to promote good relations between the Sailors and townies, but I would have much preferred to have the Sailor's families actually be able to see the musical groups.
I know... I'm an elitist boob...

Going deep...

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Inmates Running the Asylum in Olympia

It looks like the good citizens of Olympia, Washington, are taking it on themselves to protect their fair town from the unspeakable danger that is... (dum - dum - DUMMM)... Nuclear Power! In a brave action that is sure to provide an unstoppable shield to any terrorist dirty bomb or wayward Russian, Chinese, or North Korean missile, the Olympia City Council is considering declaring their hamlet a "nuclear-free zone". Do this mean they won't allow any atomic nuclei inside their city? (I bet if you asked the councilpersons, they'd probably say "yes". They would probably also sign a petition against Dihydrogen Monoxide.)
Lest you think that this is a purely symbolic action, they're also putting their significant economic muscle behind the initiative:

"The resolution said Olympia should stop buying goods and services from companies directly linked to manufacture of nuclear weapons. City official Mary Lou Berg said that includes Chrysler, which builds police cars, and Motorola, which makes Nextel phones used by up to 400 city employees."

Woah, that's harsh, dudes! Sounds like an economic boycott. But I admire you for standing up for your principles, even if you might have to go without some products. I'm sure the next paragraph will be just as hard hitting!

"The city would seek new suppliers. If none were found, the city could continue doing business, but would send the firm a letter encouraging a policy change."

I can just imagine the capitalist money-grubbers shaking in their boots... "We got a LETTER from the Olympia City Council. We're doooomed!"

OK, so it's fun to make fun of such amusing caricatures of hippy do-gooders who somehow got elected to office, but why should this submariner really care? Here's why--

Last year, the USS Olympia (SSN-717) was planning a port visit to their namesake city. You can read what happened in the bottom two articles on this moonbatty website, but the short story is, the Olympia City Council voted to oppose the planned visit; the visit was cancelled. Let's see what they thought about the concept of economic boycotts back then:

"As you know, on Tuesday the city council voted 4:3 to hold a public hearing next Tuesday on a resolution opposing the USS Olympia in ourport. Here's what we learned tonight.
The Navy has withdrawn its plan: the USS Olympia will NOT be coming to Olympia.
"However, we now have a major community crisis. Apparently someone spread the news of the last council meeting and the planned public hearing. The city council has since been innundated with email from around the country and across the world, and the situation has been broadcast via Seattle TV networks and radio. City councilmembers have been contacted by all the major news organizations for interviews. One councilmember has received more than 400 emails to his home email address. Of those, local email has been 50:50 for and against, but non-local email has beenextremely hostile, many ostensibly from pro-war retired military. In other words, the pro-war faction has been moblized.
"Those councilmembers who voted to hold a public hearing have been intimidated, harassed and threatened, to the point that some are concerned for the safety of their families. The city has been threatened with an economic boycott, which many councilmembers are apparently taking very seriously.
So, THE PUBLIC HEARING FOR NEXT TUESDAY IS STLL ON. The purpose of the hearing is to accept public comment on a resolution opposing submarines carrying nuclear reactors and weapons of mass destruction in the Port of Olympia. It is critical that as many people as possible show up for this hearing.
"We can expect pro-war elements to be out in force, as well as major media. If we don't turn out in large numbers, the city councilmembers who supported this resolution will be left hanging out to dry, ie, to experience very serious political and personal backlash as a result of representing a large segment of the community--us--and it's hard to imagine they'd take that risk again in the future. We can't let that happen. Declaring Olympia a nuclear free zone and getting the Army out of our port are next (more on this later)."

Tacitus blogged about this last May, and it looks like not much has changed there. I'm interested to see if the idealists on the city council will take the logical final step and outlaw nuclear medicine and smoke detectors from this charming city in an effort to eliminate all the dangers of nuclear power to their citizenry...

Ninme, what the heck is going on up there?

Update 1109 29 June: Not really worth its (its'? it's? I should have paid attention in school) own entry, but this is hilarious. (We're not really big Patriot fans in the Bubblehead household... spent too much time living in Groton.)

Update 1232 29 June: Ninme provides some context. The phrase "mentally retarded chihuahua" is used.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

America Supports the Troops

In his speech tonight, President Bush encouraged people to visit the "America Supports You" website to learn how to more actively support the troops. Here's the link to this site:

My God! We Dropped Bombs On People Who Were Shooting At Us!

Looks like this week's talking point for those opposed to the opening of the Iraqi front of the Global War on Terror has to do with increased Allied retaliatory bombing in the No-Fly zones in 2002 and early 2003. Michael Moore has any entry up, and my good friend Rob is also talking about it. (Actually, he's posted about it a couple of times.)

It's interesting to me that the apparent new interest in this bombing campaign was brought about by an article in the London Sunday Times, as part of their coverage of the Downing Street Minutes (DSM). This article "revealed" that Allied air forces had ramped up their retaliatory bombing of the Iraqi military targets in retaliation for no-fly zone violations. This is apparently a believable source, as opposed to U.S. General Tommy Franks, commander of CENTCOM during the major combat operations of Afghanistan and Iraq. General Franks, in his 2004 autobiography, described a meeting in the White House Situation Room in August 2002 in which he said: "We've flown over four thousand sorties over Iraq since January... Iraqi air defenses have targeted our aircraft or violated the no-fly zones fifty-two times... We want to continue to use response options to degrade the Iraqi Integrated Air Defense System. If it ever comes to war, we'll want their IADS as weak as possible." (p. 388, "American Soldier", Gen. Tommy Franks, 2004.)

And the left wonders why some on the right dismiss the "DSM" as "old news"?

Yes, I'll admit that it seems that CENTCOM did this as part of a plan to make any subsequent invasion easier, if and when it was ordered. It needs to be pointed out, though, that each bombing raid was done in response to an Iraqi violation of the no-fly zones. Had Iraq quit violating the rules that were imposed on them as a consequence of their earlier failure to fulfill the terms of the cease-fire that they had signed, we wouldn't have been bombing them. The fact is that we did raise the level of retaliation (instead of bombing only the gun that shot at us, we bombed the HQ that controlled that gun), but we never said that we'd only retaliate in kind. As the victors of the 1991 war, we had the right to impose those conditions on Iraq, as confirmed by the UNSC resolutions confirming the cease fire and subsequent to that. (In fairness, this point is debatable, as shown in this BBC article.) We even warned the air defense troops that we'd retaliate if they fired on us. I also happen to know that the leadership of Congress (both parties) were briefed after every raid. OK, we didn't spell it out in detail to the public... after all, apparently maintaining military secrecy is not allowed in a "free" society. (/sarcasm)

If those opposed to the Iraq war consider that any bombing we did prior to the October 2002 Congressional resolution to be illegal, I can provide a personal witness that this bombing did indeed take place. As I commented on one of Rob's posts:

"I was on the Carrier Group SEVEN staff aboard USS John C. Stennis during their 2000 deployment, and can report that we dropped several bombs on Iraq. Does this help in your investigation? None of them were napalm, though..."

I didn't mention who the President was in 2000 in my comments, but figured that was pretty self-evident...
Rob also wonders if these raids happened outside of the no-fly zones. To be honest, since the southern no-fly zone extended up to within 20mi of downtown Baghdad, we really didn't need to go beyond it. The only time I know of recently that we went beyond that line, prior to October 2002, was during Operation Desert Fox... in 1998.

As far as any suggestion that we used napalm on any of these retaliatory bombing raids -- as one of Rob's commenter's suggested -- this shows a complete ignorance of the mandatory legal review that goes on for any planned operation, as well as how the world works in general (the Iraqi's would have pasted it all over the news at the time, which they didn't...)

Going deep...

Let's See Big Navy Wiggle Out of This One

When the Submarine Force decided to "privatize" submarine repair efforts, they frequently cited "evidence" that showed that one shipyard worker could do as much work as three Sailors. In some cases that's true -- there was this one hydraulics guy at EB who could fix things faster than any thirty Sailors. One the other hand, I really didn't see the EB painter/cleaners setting any land-speed records (unless it was for getting off the boat for a break or at the end of shift).
Anyway, it looks like Sen. Dodd has called them on it. In this article from The New London Day (another copy found here, third article down), Sen. Dodd says:

"Now the Navy contends that it can save money by having sailors replace the EB workers at shipyards in Norfolk, Va., and Kings Bay, Ga., if the Naval Submarine Base is closed, said U.S. Sen. Christopher J. Dodd, D-Conn., at a meeting Monday with local business leaders.
“The Navy found that one Electric Boat worker can do as much work as three sailors — that was the rationale for giving EB the contract in the first place,” Dodd said. “If the work is transferred to Kings Bay, it is going to cost the country more money, not less.”
"The Navy has said that the average EB employee working at the base has almost a quarter-century of experience and so is more productive than sailors who often are learning on the job. In addition, the Navy has said EB employees don't have all the military duties of a sailor, which can take up a large portion of the work week.
"Dodd questioned the Navy's estimate that can eliminate 1,500 military positions, about one in four of the jobs in Groton, if it consolidates operations down South, “a claim that has never been adequately explained by the Defense Department.”

You can twist statistics any way you like, but if you have some smart people looking at it, it becomes tough to explain yourself. Or maybe it's just that Norfolk- and Kings Bay-based Sailors work harder than Groton-based Sailors -- let's see if that flies.

Going deep...

Monday, June 27, 2005

Conqueror vs. Belgrano

Looks like the beginning of a fascinating series of extracts from the upcoming book "The Official History of the Falklands Campaign, Volumes I and II" being printed in the Times Online. Here's a description of the sinking of the Argentine light cruiser General Belgrano (ex-USS Phoenix) by HMS Conqueror:

"Captain Chris Wreford-Brown on Conqueror had begun May 2 expecting to be following the Belgrano into the exclusion zone. He had been surprised by its change in course and remained uncertain as to which direction his quarry was intending to move for some time as it skirted the exclusion zone, perhaps aware of its vulnerability should it stray inside, and stayed some 18 miles to the south but still moving east. When Conqueror returned to periscope depth at 1400 GMT to receive and transmit signals, it reported on the change of direction to the west. Conqueror, however, had been suffering for some time with communication problems as a result of a damaged wireless mast (the crew had thought it might be necessary to withdraw to get the mast changed). Initially all Wreford-Brown understood was that the rules of engagement had changed: exactly how was unclear. He was aware of an order cancelling a previous order to attack (the original from Woodward — which he had not received) and that there appeared to be a new order to attack. Conqueror remained at depth until his instructions were clear. Now he was “absolutely certain”.
"By the next transmission, at 1710, they were understood and this was reported back along with an intention to attack. Wreford-Brown chose the old Mk8 torpedo, in service since 1932, because as an impact weapon it had a better chance of penetrating the cruiser’s armour and anti-torpedo bilges. At 18.57 Conqueror attacked at a range of 1,400 yards. Two hits were observed, although three explosions were heard. By 19.30 the initial report of the attack had been transmitted. This gave the cruiser's position, course and speed when attacked, adding “successfully attacked Belgrano. Two hits with Mark Eights. Evaded to east”. The evasion was necessary because within a few minutes they were being attacked in turn with depth charges. From 20.52 to 21.03 more depth charges were heard.
"On board the Belgrano some 200 men had been killed by the initial explosion, with fire spreading because doors and hatches had been left open. Another 850 took to life rafts as the cruiser began to sink. It sent out no signal of its own asking for help. The harsh weather and heavy sea conditions battered the crippled vessel and reduced the chances for survival of the crew as they abandoned ship. It took a day before the first survivors were picked up. In all 321 men of the Belgrano lost their lives.
"Militarily this had exactly the effect required: the Argentine Navy did not venture out again. Politically it caused Britain damage, for the scale of the attack appeared disproportionate and the circumstances suggested that Britain was not following its own rules. After the war this led to claims that the attack had been ordered by the Prime Minister to make sure that there was no peace settlement. In fact the diplomatic fallout from the attack led the British to take peace initiatives much more seriously than before. The conspiracy theories were always wide of the mark. The Belgrano was sunk not because the British Government was confident in an inevitable military victory but because there was a serious risk of defeat."

As I've mentioned before, this is the only known case of a nuclear submarine sinking an opposing vessel during wartime.

Monkey-related PERSTRANS Sea Story

So there I was... standing Officer of the Deck on USS Topeka (SSN-754) the day after we finished a port visit in Phukett, Thailand, just before Christmas 1992. Seems the off-duty portion of the crew was hanging out in Crew's Mess, swapping liberty stories. Someone mentioned all the monkeys that the various vendors had to draw attention to their wares, and one of the Nuke electricians said something along the lines of, "Yeah, and they had really sharp teeth." The Doc was listening in on this shoot-the-shit, and grabbed the guy, verified that he had been bitten by a monkey, and went to see the CO. About five minutes later I get a buzz on the conn: "Make preps to come to PD and establish comms with SubGroup Seven."
You see, our Doc had warned us during the pre-liberty briefings to avoid the wildlife, since rabies was a problem in Thailand. Next thing we knew, we got new water to head towards Diego Garcia; the USS Ranger, the flagship of our Battle Group (which was heading towards Australia after supporting our initial landing in Somalia during Operation Restore Hope) was the nearest source of rabies vaccine; they flew an S-3 to DiGar to deliver the vaccine.
We did the PERSTRANS, dropping off our potentially rabid nuke, along with one other crew member. (He had joined the boat in Bahrain about a month earlier, and apparently decided that submarine life wasn't for him; he had chosen to use the excuse that got a guy out of the Navy faster than anything else... you military guys out there all know what I mean...)
Anyway, it looked like we were down one throttleman for our upcoming end of deployment ORSE. I remember talking with my watch section about the potential pros and cons of having a rabid member of the Maneuvering watch team. On the plus side, some casualties would become non-events: "These throttles aren't stuck!" he'd shout, as he used his superhuman strength to overcome whatever resistance to throttle motion the drill monitor at the Aux SPCP could provide. On the other hand, I could just imagine the kind of comments we'd get: "Training value was lost when an obviously rabid throttleman became enraged when the ELT brought a bottle of water into Maneuvering. Additionally, the same rabid throttleman attempted to bite the Board members, contrary to Paragraph B.2 of the ORSE Precepts Letter."
Our lesson learned from the whole situation: Don't let Thai monkeys bite you -- unless you want to spend a month at home in San Diego with your family while your shipmates are out doing an ORSE workup.
(Epilogue: The guy ended up rejoining us in Pearl, and rode us for the last week of the deployment; we used him as a drill monitor. We kicked ass on the ORSE.)

Going deep...

Sunday, June 26, 2005

Must... Not... Laugh...

This is so wrong... on so many levels...

Might Want To Ease Up on the Hyperbole

Rep. Rob Simmons, Congressman from the Groton area, is going a little over the top in his attempts to defend SUBASE New London. Here's what an article in the Stamford Advocate reports:

"Calling it another potential Pearl Harbor, U.S. Rep. Rob Simmons said moving submarines from Groton to the Norfolk, Va.. submarine base would invite a terrorist attack.
"Do we want to create a bigger target for terrorists? Do we want another Pearl Harbor," said Simmons, who just returned from a fact-finding trip to the Norfolk base...
"...Simmons said Saturday that a shift of manpower and boats to an already congested Norfolk base could create "a massive Pearl Harbor" and make Virginia a target for terrorists."

OK... I agree that there's a case to be made for dispersing our forces, but honestly -- do you think there's some terrorist out there who's thinking "Well, I wasn't going to attack Norfolk and its' five aircraft carriers (actually six if you consider the one always being built in Newport News), but since they've doubled the number of submarines, that'll make it a target worth going after!"
We all know submarines are important, but this is a little bit much...

Going deep...

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Confessions of an "Instalanche"-ee

I'd been following blogs for a couple of years before I started my own. I think I started reading blogs after seeing a short newsmagazine blurb on Glenn Reynolds, the "Instapundit". I checked out the site, and liked what I saw. Eventually, I started visiting some of the sites on Instapundit's blogroll, and found more that I liked; especially USS Clueless, the amazing effort of Steven Den Beste, and the work of Bill at INDC Journal. Finally, I decided that someone might be interested in what I might have to say, so I resolved to start a blog of my own.
First, I had to come up with a topic. One dark, cold, wet area of the blogosphere that looked like it wasn't completely crowded, and that I knew something about, was "submarines", so I chose that. I looked at some of the bigger bloggers "Advice to Bloggers" entries, like this one, this one, and even this one. All the while, I was dreaming that someday, somehow, my efforts would come to the attention of "The Blog-father", and I'd get an visit from Instapundit.

Needless to say, my efforts weren't too successful. "Submarines" is a fairly narrow field of interest, and for some reason, no one outside of the submarine community paid much attention to what I wrote. Still, I held on to the dream. Even after I started getting a lot more traffic in January (and even a non-submariner to link to me... Thanks, Ninme!) I couldn't get the time of day from the "big boys" of the blogosphere. Why weren't they interested in submarines? (Answer: Submarine minutiae, as fascinating as it is to submariners, isn't really of great import in the great bloggy scheme of things. Still, we have cool actors playing us in movies, so that counts for something.)
Then, last week, blogfame came knocking on my door. These reprehensible, foul, evil asshats from Topeka came to Idaho to protest at the funeral of Cpl. Carrie French, an Idaho National Guardsman killed in Iraq. I went to the funeral, got some pictures, and posted my report.
Suddenly, my visit numbers started going up.

"'Twas the day after Sunday, and all through my site,
Not a visitor was active, not getting a bite;
My posts had been writ with the greatest of care,
In the hopes that some comments would fill up dead air;

"My referrers log empty, most bloggers would scoff,
My visions of blogofame seemed quite far off;
No trolls came to visit, leaving posts in ALL CAPS,
So I settled my head for a sorrowful nap;

"But now my Sitemeter spun faster and faster,
I clicked "referred by", thinking 'who's the spam blaster';
When what to my bloodshot, wet eyes should be seen,
but "" that was filling the screen;

"Much faster than spambots the linkers they came,
I shouted and yelled as I called out
their names:
Billy, oh Steven, oh Cut On the Bias,
Daimnation, Yay Chrenkoff, Atlas Shrugs, and the Argghhh!!! guys,
From the depths of all blogdom and blogrolls so small,
link away, link away, link away all!'"

Well, my "Instalanche" is now over; my link from Professor Reynolds has moved off his front page. Those of you who aren't bloggers might not understand some of the emotions a blogger goes through when he gets a visit from the biggest, bestest blog on the planet; especially when the post that gets linked has nothing to do with the main topic of your blog. Here are some of the thoughts I had this week:

"Sure, Instapundit visits, but what about Michelle Malkin? She never links, she never E-mails..."
"This is really screwing with my Sitemeter graphs. I mean, with the few hundred visits a day I was getting, you can't even see them now with the 12,000 hits skewing the y-axis."
"Dammit, why doesn't Instapundit show up on my TTLB Ecosystem report?"
"At the rate my link is going down Instapundit's page, it'll be gone before my Blogshares listing gets reindexed. Why doesn't Glenn go on vacation?"
"Well, I planned to have a nice post for my 50,000th visitor, but I figured I had a week; now, I blew through 50 and 60K in one day."
"If the Great Blog War ever re-ignites, I'm definitely on Instapundit's side. Take that, Frnak J., and your 'Alliance of Free Blogs', too!"

(The above is writ somewhat ironical; I hope I'm not really that shallow...)

Anyway, thanks to everyone who linked to help spread the word of the vicious hate that is represented by Fred Phelps and his ilk, and to honor the bravery of Cpl. Carrie French. And if you're reading this because you found my blog via one of the fine blogs who linked me within the last week: Welcome -- I'm glad you're here.

Going deep...

bothenook's Blogiversary

It's been one year since bothenook started up "A Geezer's Corner"; head on over and wish him a "Happy Blogiversary" when you get a chance!

Guam Sub Officer Shooting Follow-Up

(Intel Source: The Sub Report) Earlier this month, we read about the strange case of a JO on USS Helena (SSN-725) reporting that he'd been shot by an assailant onboard the Naval Base in Guam. It now appears that the young officer has admitted that he shot himself:

"In his written statement he had admitted to wanting to do harm to himself," said Navy spokeswoman Lt. Arwen Chisholm.
"The unidentified officer, a lieutenant junior grade from the visiting submarine USS Helena, was doing rounds on Polaris Point on June 5 when the shooting occurred. That prompted a five-hour lock-down of the entire Navy installation on Guam in a search for the intruder. The officer had told investigators that he'd been shot at and then had fired back, but that the suspect fled the scene...

"...Navy officials have not charged the officer with any wrongdoing and have released the officer back to his command on the USS Helena, but the investigation is ongoing.
"The situation is still under investigation because he did falsify information, so they're going to have to investigate why he did it..."
"The officer may face charges such as falsifying information, conduct unbecoming of an officer and having a non-Navy-issued weapon on a submarine..."

Although he's been released back to his command, you can be sure that they just won't fly him out to Helena's next liberty port. Hopefully he'll be heading back to San Diego, where Squadron 11 can get him the help he needs.

Going deep...

Friday, June 24, 2005

Sub Town Newspapers Spin, You Decide

The New London Day says that Representatives Hunter and Bartlett, HASC bigwigs, are making noises like they'd prefer to see SUBASE NLON off the base closure list:

"The announcements this week by committee Chairman Duncan Hunter, R-Calif., and Roscoe Bartlett, R-Md., chairman of the Projection Forces Subcommittee, which oversees the Navy fleet, are expected to carry considerable weight with the Defense Base Closure and Realignment Commission not only because Hunter and Bartlett are defense experts, but also because they don't represent the district where the base is located and have no personal interest in saving it.
Bartlett, who conducted a hearing June 13 at the base on submarine force levels, has said he believes the Navy needs more submarines than it is projecting. The Pentagon's recommendation to close Groton is apparently based on a fleet of 40-45 boats, down from 54 today.
“It's premature to say precisely how and in what manner Congressman Bartlett” will intervene, said his spokeswoman, Lisa Wright. “But he believes that a 40-submarine fleet is woefully inadequate, and that Groton will be needed to support the submarine fleet that will be needed to meet the Navy's mission requirements.”
"Hunter sent a letter to Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld weeks before the base-closure list was announced May 13, urging him not to close the Groton base and break up the synergy that exists among the base, which operates submarines; Electric Boat, which designs, builds and repairs them; and the nearby Naval Undersea Warfare Center, which works on advanced submarine technologies."

Meanwhile, The Camden County Tribune, in SE Georgia, is flogging the "working papers" put out by the Pentagon in support of their claim that it makes financial sense to move Sub School and a few attack boats down to Kings Bay:

"In order for Kings Bay to accommodate the six fast attack submarines and submarine school if Naval Submarine Base, New London, is closed, it will have to build or expand its current facilities at a cost of $238.5 million.
"The total one-time cost of closing New London and relocating its commands to Kings Bay and Naval Shipyard Norfolk, among other bases, comes to $679.6 million.

"This is projected to generate an annual savings of $192.78 million, and the total cost would be paid back within three years, stated the analysis.
"Under the Pentagon's recommendation, which must be approved by Congress, Kings Bay would receive six submarines and 1,216 personnel in 2008. An additional 27 officers and enlisted men would come over the following two years and in 2011, the submarine school would open, bringing with it 1,945 personnel."

Unfortunately for the Georgians, the Connecticutters (?) seem to have been effectively raising questions about the numbers the Pentagon used in coming up with the base closing recommendation. The Georgians are going to have to come up with better than this if they want to compete in the public opinion forum.

Advantage: Groton

Update 0048 25 June: Since TTLB says I'm posting about the Kelo decision, I should put something up. I was living in the New London area when most of the arguments were starting, and my thoughts were that eminent domain shouldn't be used for economic development matters. If someone is willing to sell, fine; otherwise, move the project somewhere else. Besides, downtown New London is really beyond revitalizing.
For more coherent thoughts, go to Ninme.

Update 1203 25 June: I checked over at Democratic Underground to see how they were reacting to the fact that the "liberal" judges were the ones who in the majority in the Kelo case; they're really confused. (Think back to the androids in the Star Trek episode where the Enterprise crew confused them with illogical statements.) Example: "I'm very against this. I would think it would be conservatives standing up for what ever the corporations want. I'm confused. I didn't think the supreme court had any liberal judges . I thought it was loaded with conservatives."
More of DUers sniping at each other can be enjoyed here.

The Further Adventures of a Blanket-Molesting Cat

It's Friday night again, and as my contribution to the honored tradition of Friday night catblogging, it's time for more photographic proof of how fleas have eaten my oldest cat's brain. When we last saw Hercules, he was molesting a blanket:

Let's look in on him again, to see if he's modified his behavior in any way:

Nope, pretty much the same...

Trip Report

Just got back from taking the daughter to college, and offer the following brief vignettes for your perusal:

"Scenes from an Italian Restaurant"

Stopped off first in Pocatello, which is where SubBasket and I first met -- she was a student at Idaho State University, and I was attending nuke power training out in the desert. Showed our daughter the house I was living in at the time with three other drunken Sailors... I have no idea how we lived in a house that small; also have no idea why the neighbors never called the cops on us. Went to a restaurant that is reputed by everyone in SubBasket's family to have the best Italian salad dressing in the world. It was really good, but it looked to me like they've decided to give up on normal restaurant activities like "cleaning the restrooms" and are just getting by on their salad dressing reputation. (For those who are wondering, Idaho Falls and Pocatello really haven't changed in the last 20 years...)

On the Availability of Various Consumer Goods in Areas of Low Population Density

Spent the night in Idaho Falls, then got up early to drive the last 25 miles to Rexburg, Idaho. (Those with really, really long memories may remember that this was the town that was decimated when the Teton Dam burst back in 1976.) We wanted to get gas at some point along the way, and I figured that there'd be plently of gas stations between Idaho Falls (a town of about 50,000) and Rexburg. I thought wrong. Apparently, people in this part of Idaho use potatoes to fuel their cars. Anyway, we finally found a gas station in the middle of nowhere, near what I think was E. Bugsplat, Idaho (pop: inbred). I got some gas, and SubBasket went in to get something to drink. She came back out and said, and I quote, "I was disappointed with the selection of bottled water here." You can take the girl out of California...

(SubBasket would like to point out that at this gas station I was so distracted that I forgot to close the cover to the gas cap; I forgot again this morning, but in both cases noticed it before we pulled back out onto the road.)

On Campus Political Diversity

At the "Info Fair" for new students, I was surprised to see a sign advertising a debate between "College Republicans" and "College Democrats" at the BYU-I College Republican's booth. I asked if they had any actual organized Democrats at the school, and they said, "Not yet, but we're trying to find some so they can organize and we can have debates". BYU-Idaho is a little different than most schools...

I Am The World's Greatest Undiscovered "Air Backup Singer"...

SubBasket was snoozing on the way home, and "Time" by Hootie and the Blowfish came on. I didn't want to wake her up, but I couldn't resist "singing" along with this classic track for backup singers. (Sample backup singer lyrics: "Time.... time..... time.... time..... time.... time.... time..... time.... Aaahhhh-aaahhhhh".) So, I'm mouthing the words, and SubBasket wakes up and asks me if I'd lost my mind. No... I was just perfecting my craft; you air guitarists may get all the press, but "air backup singing" is where it's at.

On the Wisdom of Mothers

As we were leaving our precious daughter this morning, it was pretty emotional. SubBasket had this to say to her as we left: "No matter how far away I am from you, I'll be right behind you. The voice you hear whispering in your ear will be mine."
Submariners, as a general rule, have amazing wives...

Going deep...

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Worst... Feeling... Ever...

I've always said that having a daughter is the father's punishment for ever having been a teenage boy. Even when your daughter never causes you any problems (like ours), you just know that there are guys out there -- none of whom are good enough for her, btw -- who will try to take her away from you...
Blogging will be non-existent the next couple of days as I take my precious oldest child off to college. I know we raised her right, and I know I can't keep her home forever; but dammit, I sure want to...
While I'm gone, please check out the wonderful blogs to the right, and especially keep an eye on our new submarine group blog, Ultraquiet No More, for the latest happenings and sea stories from the world of submarines.

Going deep...

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Submarine Science Missile Launch Successful

I was actually kind of worried about this. A Russian Delta-III launched the international "solar sail" in a "converted ICBM" earlier today. I mean, the experiment is pretty neat, and there are worse things the Russian SSBNs could be launching -- I was honestly concerned for the safety of the crew. Anytime you have to launch a "converted" anything you know you're possibly in for a bad time...

Update 2212 21 June: Looks like although the launch was safely accomplished, the solar sail didn't communicate after it was supposed to reach orbit. CBC reports that:

"After 83 seconds, the engine of the booster rocket stopped working and the spacecraft did not enter orbit," the official said on condition of anonymity. He added that a search was underway for the solar sail and the Volna booster rocket and an investigation would study what went wrong.
"Lidia Avdeyeva, a spokeswoman for the Lavochkin institute involved in the project, told The Associated Press she could not confirm the information but said that if the engine had failed then the vehicle would have fallen back to Earth."

Update 2239 21 June: CDR Salamander has more, plus a periscope ID quiz! (It's already been answered in his comments, so don't look there until you've got your own answer.) Maybe he'll do Mental Gym next... (Contact bears 140. Closing range rate is 900 yards per minute. You are on course 180, speed 10. Bearing rate zero. Determine contact course and speed...)

Lots of Submarine News Today...

...and me without time to do much in the way of commenting this morning. (We're preparing to take our oldest off to college tomorrow, so we're all rushing around, with Mom and Dad trying to find things through the haze of tears.) Check out Rontini's daily SONAR brief; you'll find new information on the Tango Bravo (the next generation submarine), an article on how the Navy is using our ASW "expertise" to track merchant ships, and a couple of articles on our plans to use the Swedish submarine HMS Gotland to help train our forces to work against quiet diesel boats. One quick snarky comment on the Tango Bravo article: It says that "EB was awarded... $6.3 million to look at shaftless propulsion, which most experts expect will use electric motors instead of a mechanical turbine and propeller system."

Do ya think? (Actually, I know a little bit about this initiative, so I won't be able to comment that much. I will be able to tell you to ignore people who think it'll be just like the "Red October"'s "caterpillar drive".)

Going deep...

Monday, June 20, 2005

The Times, They Are A'Changin...

(Intel source: Rontini's BBS) Check out this photo of "Officers and crew of the Swedish Navy submarine HMS Gotland (A 19) tour(ing)... the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Hartford (SSN 768). Check out the young Sailor to the right of the three waiting to go down the WSH. Notice anything? I'll wait until you get back...

Did you see it? OK, it looks like she's a midshipman, so probably not a regular member of the crew. That doesn't really make a difference, though; Sweden is one of the three countries (Norway and Australia are the others) I know of who have removed gender restrictions on submarine service.

Please note that now that I'm no longer on active duty, I really don't have a stake in the "gender integration in submarines" debate, so I can say that I think it would be a pain in the ass, but we'd end up working it out if it was forced on us.

Emergency deep! (To avoid objects being thrown by the active duty submariners)

PC Dictionary: "Unilateral"

(Intel Source: Ninme) Chrenkoff reminds us again of the "unilateral" nature of our involvement in Iraq. Having personally worked with liaison officers of all the countries shown while I was at the CENTCOM Coalition Coordination Center, I can say that the dedicated men and women from all over the globe are in Iraq for one purpose: not to steal oil, but to help the Iraqi people move towards democracy...

[And for those who think that only the "major combat" portion of the war was "unilateral", consider that the countries that fought in Iraq mirrors pretty closely the make-up of the nationalities that landed in Normandy on D-Day: U.S., UK, Australia, and Poland; only Canada and France are missing among the biggest participants of the D-Day landings.]

Going deep...

"Give Me Liberty or Give Me..."

...a new meme, courtesy of Skippy-San. As I'm busy trying to get SubBasket excited about the concept of an "Instalanche" (she's concerned that I'll spend all morning blogging and won't get my vacation lawn-work done) I find that I've been tasked to do a meme about port visits that Yankee Sailor originated. This one's about liberty ports, and I've actually been dreading something like this. You see, although I've been coming off as a big, tough, world-travelling fast attack Sailor (which is mostly true) my two Engineer tours were mostly in the shipyard, so I got a total of two(!) port visits between those two boats. Also, all (OK, both) of my regular deployments took pretty much the same route, so my numbers here will be a little light.

Number of ports I've visited: 21. Here, I'm defining a "visit" as a place where we actually tied up (or anchored out) and went ashore; lurking off-shore and looking at it through a periscope doesn't count...

Most recent port I've visited: Warsaw, Poland. I'm gonna take Yankee Sailor's caveat here and include a TDY I did at a non-Navy command; otherwise, the answer is Pearl Harbor, which is kind of boring. Went there three times when I was TAD to CENTCOM, trying to figure out how to work the money arrangements for the Polish-led division in Iraq. Seeing and talking with people who were really sticking their necks out for the U.S. while trying to grow out of 65 years of Nazi and Communist domination was inspiring to the extreme. (Plus, the young women of Warsaw were quite a treat for the eyes...)

Port I Never Want to See Again: Mina Sulman, Bahrain. First time I went there was back in '92 for a three week mid-deployment upkeep on the good ship Topeka; this was the first port visit of a submarine in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf. The people were unfriendly, the cab drivers openly charged 10-50x more for Americans, it was hot, the club on base played "Achy-Breaky Heart" every third song... in short, I couldn't wait to get back to sea. One night we were driving to the base XOs house for a party out in town; our Navigator got us lost, and we ended up driving through a part of Manama where the local mosque had a sign out front that said, in English, "We live for Saddam, we will die for Saddam". I ended up going back for 4 days on USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) when I was the Submarine Liaison Officer for the BG staff on their 2000 deployment. I volunteered to stand duty a lot. There worst thing is that there's this "Tree of Life" where local tradition holds that if you don't go visit it when you're in Bahrain, you will be doomed to return until you've seen it. I never saw it...

Three Ports that were the Most Memorable:

1) Hobart, Tasmania: I talked to quite a few sub Sailors in my time, and every time I ran into someone who'd been to Hobart, they agreed that it was the best liberty port in the world. The people are friendly, the beer's great, and you got to see Tasmanian Devils in the roadside petting zoos.

2) Chinhae, South Korea: Not really a good port, but it was memorable for me in that it was the first time I'd gotten off base in a foreign (non-U.S/Canadian) port. It was my 29th birthday; we started out at the only English-speaking bar in town (the "Green House" -- don't Google it, some really disgusting sites show up). Drank so-ju there (our STSCS tried to stick his tongue down my throat), then got in a cab for some reason and went to a hotel bar about 10 miles to the northwest. Ate these dried minnows I found in my pocket. Did a John Travolta-type dance in the middle of a circle of 300 grinning and clapping Koreans. Got in at the end of a six Sailor bunny hop, and then felt another set of hands on my shoulders; turned my head, and saw a grinning Korean guy had joined us. Had a really bad headache the next morning.

3) Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: Really, really tall buildings. Had dinner in a rotating restaurant about 1,000 feet in the air. Saw an economy that seemed to be based entirely on selling pirated software and entertainment products.

Going deep...

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day SWAG

I have the best kids. For Father's Day, I got two books:

"Rising Tide: The Untold Stories of the Russian Submarines that Fought the Cold War"


"Chicken Soup for the Father & Daughter Soul"

Looks like I'll have enough reading to keep me busy for the four weeks until this comes out!

Saturday, June 18, 2005

WWII Submarines in Verse

I've linked Sid Harrison's submarine page before, but it's always worth going back. Today, I was struck again by the beautiful simplicity of the words of Bob Harrison's poem, "Toll the Bell". An excerpt:

"Toll the bell, you submariners, for your brethren of the deep
Who went to sea so long ago and still their constant vigil keep.
Tell the nation who they are and where they lie beneath the sea,
Keep the faith with those brave comrades who patrol eternally...
"...Toll the bell for Shark and Grunion, gallant warriors of the sea,
Toll the bell for brave Pompano, Grenadier, and Tullibee.
Sing your praises for the Thresher, Grayling and the Amberjack,
And for all the men who perished, mothers’ sons who won’t come back..."

For some reason, this reminded me of a WWII submarine poem that the men of USS Trigger used to recite:

By Constantine Guiness, MOMM 1/C, USN

I'm the galloping ghost of the Japanese coast
You don't hear of me and my crew.
But just ask any man off the coast of Japan
If he knows of the Trigger Maru.

I look sleek and slender alongside my tender
With others like me at my side,
But we'll tell you a story of battle and glory,
As enemy waters we ride.

I've been stuck on a rock, felt the depth charge's shock,
Been north to a place called Attu,
and I've sunk me two freighters atop the equator
Hot work, but the sea was cold blue.

I've cruised close inshore and carried the war
to the Empire Island Honshu,
While they wire Yokahama I could see Fujiyama,
So I stayed, to admire the view.

When we rigged to run silently, deeply I dived,
And within me the heat was terrific.
My men pouring sweat, silent and yet
Cursed me and the whole damned Pacific.

Then destroyers came sounding and depth charges pounding
My submarine crew took the test.
Far in that far off land there are no friends on hand,
To answer a call of distress.

I was blasted and shaken (some damage I've taken),
my hull bleeds and pipe lines do, too
I've come in from out there for machinery repair,
And a rest for me and my crew.

I got by on cool nerve and in silence I served,
Though I took some hard knocks in return,
One propeller shaft sprung and my battery's done,
But the enemy ships I saw burn.

I'm the galloping ghost of the Japanese coast,
You don't hear of me and my crew.
But just ask any man off the coast of Japan,
If he knows of the Trigger Maru.

USS Trigger was lost with all hands during her twelfth patrol, on March 26, 1945. Toll the bell...

[Edited to correct the name of the owner of the website mentioned in the link at the top.]

Submarines and the GWOT

A lot of people may wonder what submarines can do to help fight and win the Global War on Terror. Rear Admiral Mark Kenny, Commander Submarine Group TWO, talked about this very topic in a speech to the Groton chapter of the Naval Submarine League, as reported in The New London Day (read it quick before you have to pay for it!). [Update 1424 20 June: A longer-lasting version of the article is found at the top of this Rontini post.] Excerpts:

"Kenny said that while he couldn't go into detail, between one-quarter and one-third of the operating days submarines spend at sea are spent on such tasks as gathering intelligence and working with Special Forces, directly supporting the war on terror...
"...Previously, most of the missions for East Coast submarines were in the North Atlantic — meaning intelligence missions aimed at the former Soviet Union — or in the Mediterranean.
"But for more than a year, most of the Atlantic force has been covering missions in the Middle East, and last year two submarines, the Groton-based USS Alexandria and the Norfolk, Va.-based USS Oklahoma City, deployed over the North Pole to conduct classified missions in the Far East.
"Two more Atlantic-based submarines will deploy to the Pacific this year, Kenny said, leading to a brisk operational tempo."

There are any number of missions that submarines can do to support intelligence gathering in a world-wide war against an enemy looking for any way to strike back at the U.S. For instance, there's... well, can't talk about that. Also, there's... nope, can't talk about that either. And let's not forget... actually, forget I said anything. You'll just have to take RADM Kenny's word for it.

I know I do...

Friday, June 17, 2005

"Ye Shall Know Them By Their Fruit (Salad)"

bothenook has found another sub-blogger, Submarine Sailor; Bradley is assigned to the USS Providence (SSN-719). Via his blog, I found a kewl web site that lets you generate a graphic of your Navy ribbons (less the repeat stars and such) and shows you the order of precedence if you're not sure. The ribbon rack someone in the military wears (also called a "fruit salad") is a pretty good way of seeing at a glance where someone's been and what they've done. For instance, if you see a guy with dolphins and a Navy Expeditionary Medal, you can be pretty sure he's been on a "mission vital to national security". If you see a shore-duty LT with only one NAM and no NCMs, you can bet he was on a boomer. Things like that...

Going deep...

British Boat Nuclear Woes

The British attack sub fleet looks like it's continuing to have problems related to their primary coolant systems. Via Lubber's Line (both his home blog and our new group submarine blog, Ultraquiet No More), this article from Times Online details how two boats, HMS Tireless and HMS Torbay, had been pierside in Portsmouth since September:

"Two of the Royal Navy’s nuclear-powered submarines have been banned from operating at sea because of safety concerns.
"One of the submarines ordered to stay in port is HMS Tireless, the Trafalgar-class boat which had to spend a year in a Gibraltar dockyard five years ago after a leak from a cracked pipe in the nuclear reactor’s primary coolant circuit. The second submarine is HMS Torbay, also a Trafalgar-class boat, which completed a £240 million refit only last November. The last time that there were safety concerns about the Navy’s fleet of 12 nuclear-powered submarines — after minute cracks were found in the piping on board HMS Tireless in 2000 — all the boats were ordered back to port for safety checks. Several of the submarines, including HMS Tireless, had to have their coolant circuit pipes replaced.
"Royal Navy sources said that detection equipment was now much more sophisticated and was capable of spotting the minutest of cracks, “scars” or faults in materials that may have been there for years. Since safety for all nuclear boats was paramount, they said, it had been decided to stop them operating at sea until further checks had been carried out...

"... HMS Tireless is now undergoing a previously programmed maintenance and upgrade period and is not expected to leave Devonport until the end of this year. Navy sources said that HMS Torbay has now passed safety checks but that there is, as yet, no date for it to resume operations. "

As the article mentions, the small primary coolant leak on HMS Tireless in Gibraltar caused not only a political row that continues to this day, but also brought a lot of unwanted attention to the British submarine nuclear program. (I discussed the most recent example of the continuing bitterness back in February.) The Brits based a lot of their nuclear safety philosophy on the American model; Adm. Rickover required this when we licensed our nuclear plant design to the Brits for their earlier generation of submarines. So, this may be just another example of good old nuke power caution, or it may be an indication that the Brits need to seriously consider doing a complete primary system changeout on some of their boats; this option, though, would probably cost over a billion pounds, and I'm not sure that the political climate over in the U.K. would support that kind of outlay right now.

Going deep...

Thursday, June 16, 2005

A "Royal" Cluster...

It's been three years since the last one, so it's time for another "Sorbet Royal" submarine rescue exercise! Honestly, these things are a really good idea (countries from all over the world going through submarine rescue procedures) but man... are they ever a pain in the ass. This year, for the first time, we've got Russia, the Ukraine, and Israel (!) joining in the NATO exercise; expect even more fireworks (although they probably won't make the open press too much).

Anyway, here's the Sorbet Royal home page, if you'd like to learn more. These things are normally held every three years (although the 1999 one was postponed for a year due to an earthquake in Turkey) which means that there's no one left on any command staff from the previous one. In the Pacific, they have them every two years, under the moniker "Pacific Reach".

Anyone with amusing submarine rescue exercise stories is invited to start filling the comments...
Going deep...

Update 1629 18 June: Here's more on the Israeli participation in the exercise.

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

Windows on a Submarine?

It looks like CSS Hunley might have had them... or at least "skylights" that would let light in when the boat was on the surface, then be closed off when the boat submerged.

You can find much more on the Hunley restoration efforts at the "Friends of the Hunley" website.

"The Friend of my Enemy..." also my enemy. OK, that's not the way the old saying goes, but it's still true. The asshats coming to protest today at the funeral of Cpl. Carrie French say that God killed her, and will continue killing American soldiers. Since those who killed her also think that God is on their side, it seems to me that the protesters share beliefs and goals with the terrorists in Iraq.
Now, I won't treat these enemies of America the same way I'd treat our terrorist enemies; these people are too wacko to take seriously... at least for now. I'm off to join whatever counterprotest there is at the funeral site today, and hope to have pictures and a report later. (Rumors on the street are that we might have some visitors from Mountain Home AFB.) I've never been to a demonstration, so I'm not sure what I'm supposed to do; normally, I'd mock and belittle them (or as my liberal friends might say, "stifle their dissent") but I don't think that would necessarily be appropriate at a hero's funeral.

Going deep to reposition to the west...

Back at PD, 1419 15 Jun: Just got back from the funeral site. Fred Phelps and what I guess were his family were there in all their "glory"; let's see what these self-described "Christians" have to say, shall we? (Update 1727 16 June, re-update 1221 20 June: Better versions of the pictures below can be found at Ninme's place, here and here.)

Not very nice, is it? These asshats were out to protest against the funeral of CPL Carrie French in her hometown of Caldwell, Idaho. I headed out there to show my support for CPL French, her family, and fellow Soldiers; here's what I saw...

I arrived about 1230; Fred Phelps and his family were already set up at a corner across from the grounds of Albertson's College, a private university in Caldwell. The Caldwell Police Dept. was handling the event in a very professional manner; a Caldwell Police Captain I was talking to said that they wanted to ensure the safety of the protesters (since they seem to complain a lot that they're in danger of being bombed). Here's how they provided for their safety:

He did say that the Phelps clan complained a little bit that they weren't very visible from the front of the auditorium, but hey... their safety was what counted.

I went over to take some pictures of the asshats, and get a closer look at them. I can report that they appeared to be mono-gastric, bi-pedal, and carbon-based; other than that, I really couldn't see even a glint of humanity in their eyes. As I left, one of them shouted at me, "Make sure lots of people see those pictures." I didn't respond.

At 1245, some fire trucks arrived, and parked in their pre-designated spots. I asked the Police Captain if this was pre-planned; he said that "it just worked out that way". Here's the view of the protesters that the family would now have to endure as they entered the auditorium after the fire trucks arrived.

The French family had apparently said that they didn't want an organized counter-demonstration, but some people felt the need to come out and silently show their support for the family. (All in all, there were probably fifteen civilians, including four off-duty Boise policemen, standing a silent vigil.) Here's one such young lady:

At 1252, the blue-shirted protester, probably Phelps' son, shouted at a carload of soldiers turning into the parking lot, "Watch out for IEDs!" After this, he started shouting "French is in Hell" to everyone who passed. On two occasions, he shouted this to young women who appeared to be the right age to be Carrie's classmates. Their mothers had to restrain them; I talked to one who walked by afterwards, tears streaming down her face as she sobbed "Those bastards", and I told her that I'd do my best to tell the world what horrible people these are. The other young woman so accosted just yelled "F*ck you!" back at the protesters; the protesters just laughed.

They were doing a lot of laughing. The old man had about four signs (including "Thank God for 9/11", "Thank God for IEDs", "Fag Troops" and "U.S.A. Sin = 9/11") that he held up in turn; the "son" had an "America is Doomed" sign, and the wife? daughter? had "God Hates Fags" and "Fags Doom Nations". She also talked on the cell phone a lot:

Finally, it was 1300, and time for them to go. The loud-mouth dipshit "son" took a quick filmclip of the area, they got into their van, and they drove off.

I got to thinking about what kind of country allows people like this to flaunt their unpopular opinions while being protected by the police. The answer, I decided, is only a country that is strong in our democratic beliefs and sense of our own destiny would continue to allow this. Here, at a funeral honoring a hero who had given her life so that people halfway around the world could be free, we saw those charged with protecting the weakest of us, the police, firefighters, and Soldiers, protecting people dedicated to tearing down everything they hold dear. And these people had the strength of character to ignore the asshats trying to ruin this solemn occasion, and concentrate instead on the good of this country: the part of the country that produces heroes like CPL Carrie French. America is not doomed, Phelps "family"... it is your mindless, attention-grubbing hate that's headed for the dustbin of history...

Going deep...

Update 1618: Ninme's got better resolution posts of some of my photos...

Update 1636 15 June: Fellow Ida-blogger BinkyBoy seems to be questioning my manhood in this post; he seems brave after the fact, but beforehand, he didn't seem so -- eager to fight, shall we say. In case he changes his post from before the funeral, here's what he said this morning...

"There are still a lot of soldiers from Mountain Home going to stop Phelps, which is definately something that we don't want to be in the middle of."

Update 1627 16 June: Thanks to everyone who's stopped by and left their thoughts. Ft. Boise has a report from when Phelps' and his crew last came to Boise; I think this helps explain why the local papers are pretty much ignoring their stunt. Here's what the Idaho Statesman had to say about the funeral itself.

Update 1502 17 June: Ma Deuce Gunner was there for the first part of Cpl. French's last journey, and has some thoughts on the matter...

Update 0921 20 June: Welcome to the readers of all the great blogs who've sent traffic this way, including Instapundit! If you'd like to read more about submarines (the main topic of this blog), feel free to look around, or check out the submarine group blog at Ultraquiet No More.

"Moscow Doesn't Believe In..."

...putting aside enough money to keep their SSBNs repaired, according to this article from Bellona:

"The sea trials of K-114 Tula submarine were scheduled for spring but delays with delivery of the new sonar system led to another postponement. Meanwhile the commander of the submarine prolonged the sponsorship agreement of city Tula for the submarine’s crew. The mayor of Tula promised to send working and sport clothes to the submariners as well as a minibus. In exchange, every year Tula submarine receives conscripts from the sister-city. The submarine commander also promised to invite representatives from Tula when the submarine is back in operation after the overhaul in October 2005. The upgrade of K-114 will allow the submarine to operate 10 years more. The project 667 Tula, Delta-IV, was built at the Sevmash plant in 1987 K-114 sub is one of the last Soviet built subs. Sevmash built it in 1987. Tula got its name in 1995 together with the sponsorship from the city of Tula.
"The biggest difficulties are with K-117 Bryansk, which is underfinanced and could be hardly finished even in 2007. K-18 Karelia, where president Putin drank seawater and became a submariner, also lacks financing. No repair works at all were carried out at the presidential Delta-IV."

This is good news; the Delta-IV's are fairly capable boats, and I'd much rather have them rusting alongside the pier rather than on patrol. Some other boats that I'm happy to see gone are these:

"Total eight nuclear submarines of 671RTM (Victor-III) project will be tugged from the Northern fleet bases to the Zvezdochka shipyard for scrapping in July and August, Interfax reported. Three subs located in the Ura Bay, two – in Zapadnaya Litsa, and three – in Vidyaevo. "The dismantling works will be sponsored by Canada, which promised to allocate $18m for this purpose. This Canadian initiative is the part of the one billion Canadian dollars obligation in the frames of the Global Partnership program adopted in 2002 at the G8 summit. The dismantling of the first multipurpose submarine sponsored by Canada, has been already completed. Scrapping of another two submarines is under way. Canada pledged to allocate $100m to finance dismantling of 12 multipurpose submarines at the Zvezdochka shipyard."

Intel Source: NOSI

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Even the Most Elementary Fact Checking... too much for some crowds. In my normal lurking over at Democratic Underground, I came across a story of a "Sailor" who reports that he's going to Captain's Mast for his political activities in opposition to the war. There are plenty of people offering him support, and he gives a little more information throughout the post. However, one little piece of information he drops makes me think that he might not be quite "on the level"...

"I am charged with the following: Article 88—Contempt toward officials-Posting Anti-Bush Flyers around base/Spreading hate and discontent for President/Administration..."

Interesting... later, he mentions that he's only 20, and talks about wanting to avoid a Dishonorable Discharge, so it would seem that he's enlisted. (Officers get "dismissed", not the dreaded Duck Dinner.) This makes it impossible for him to be charged under Art. 88, which only applies to commissioned officers. Is it possible that this poster is, I don't know... making it all up?

A quick Google search confirms this in about 5 seconds... but I guess the DUers, who are soooo much smarter than us Red State idiots, don't quite know how to do this...

Going deep...

Groton Base Saving Itself?

I've been against the use of the "environmental cleanup costs" card for saving Subase New London (believing that they can make a better case using proposed future force structure numbers) but I think that they may have found something that could tip the BRAC commission into voting to retain the base. It appears that the State of Connecticut signed an agreement with the Federal government back in 1994 that would dramatically increase the potential decontamination costs; basically, it seems to say the government would have to restore the base to make it fit for residential areas, vice the lower "industrial" standard. Excerpt:

"The Navy has pledged $23.9 million toward making the base clean enough for industrial uses once it is closed. But Blumenthal said the 1994 agreement reached between the state, the Navy and Environmental Protection Agency requires the cleanup meet strict radiation standards that apply equally to industrial and residential areas. Many sites will be required to meet the residential standard for all contamination. And Blumenthal believes Connecticut has the ability to go to court and enforce that agreement. The U.S. Navy said it was reviewing the 1994 agreement and could not comment on Blumenthal's assertions."

Looks like someone in Connecticut's been doing their homework...

"I Don't Agree With What You Say..."

"...but I'll defend to the death your right to say it". These noble words are frequently used by those of us who believe in the supreme importance of the First Amendment, and are frequently put into action by members of the U.S. Military. I've always subscribed to this axiom, but I think I'm willing to make an exception for this group.

(Update 1840 05 July: Welcome, Iowahawk readers. I think Iowahawk might have been wanting to link to this post that has actual pictures of asshat Fred Phelps and his "protest" at Cpl. French's funeral... or maybe not. He, after all, is the genius of satire, and I'm just a lowly submarine blogger. We now return you to my original post.)

Fred Phelps and his group of asshats from Westboro Baptist Church in Topeka, Kansas (I won't link their hate-infested site, but you can find it at the top of this Google page if you want to see their idiocy for yourself) are coming to S.E. Idaho tomorrow to protest at the funeral of Idaho National Guard Cpl. Carrie French, killed a week ago in Iraq by an IED. Now, I'm sure there may be some protestors there demonstrating against the war, but this group isn't like that. As you can see in their announcement of their protest, titled "Thank God for IEDs" they intend to say that God killed Carrie French, along with all American military personnel in Iraq, because God hates the U.S., and in retaliation for someone "bombing" their church building.
I've contacted the veterans I know here in Idaho, but I don't know if there's anything planned (the Phelps group doesn't announce their plans very much in advance) and don't even know if the family wants to draw attention to these nutjobs by having a counter-demonstration. If they do, though, I'll try to be there...
Thanks to John from Castle Argghhh!!!, via Grpyhmon, for bringing this to my attention... he's got some thoughts on the matter as well...

Update 1842 14 June: Via Michelle Malkin, I found a left-leaning website whose owner is trying to set up a meet-up location to coordinate anyone who wants to counterprotest. I'm not sure if it will work out, but if we could have Kos-linking Democrats standing arm in arm with military bloggers to mock and belittle the asshats from Topeka, maybe that will convince some of these nutjobs that they're fighting the wrong fight. OK, actually it won't (these Phelps followers seem to be complete jerks) but it might be fun, and might convince some people that not all people in Idaho are black-helicopter conspiracy theorists...

Update 2010 14 June: Still nothing from the local paper, but here's an article from the Seattle P-I that has more background on Phelps' past activities in Boise.

Monday, June 13, 2005

Oh.... My..... Gawd.....

Whoever came up with this idea should be publicly identified so they can get the mocking and belittling they so richly deserve...

"Are you a soldier who loves to sing? Do you sing in your car, the shower? Do you dream of singing on stage in front of a live audience? Well it’s time to stop dreaming and start doing. Log on to for details on the first Military Idol competition to see if you have what it takes to be number one.
"Thirty-six Army installations will be hosting Military Idol starting this August. This multi-week competition will combine the popularity of the TV show American Idol with the talents of our military performers, and is sure to be a win-win situation for all involved. The top “Idol” at each installation will advance to compete in the national Army-wide competition for bragging rights as the Army’s top “Military Idol” and a chance to win $1,000..."

"Military Idol"?!? The only "win-win" I can see coming from this is the abuse that both Sailors and Airmen will be able to give Soldiers over the lameness of Army MWR. I'll be interested to see if the Army boys from Castle Argghhh! have anything to say...

Going deep...

VADM Munns vs. Navy Brass?

For those not glued to the all-Michael news outlets (all media, basically) Newsday has a report on the congressional hearings held today in Groton. The big news for me is VADM Munns, ComNavSubFor, seemingly contradicting earlier policy statements from Big Navy on future submarine numbers:

"The Navy's top submarine commander warned Monday against reducing the size of the nation's sub fleet, saying there are already more missions than submarines to complete them. "Testifying before a House Armed Service subcommittee, Vice Adm. Charles L. Munns said current shipbuilding projections, which suggest a sub force 25 to 40 percent smaller that today's fleet, put the nation at risk."
..."Munns said the current fleet size should be maintained, an opinion the Navy doesn't share, according to its most recent shipbuilding projections. Those projections, submitted to Congress, predict a fleet of 41 to 45 submarines. President Bush and congressional leaders expect to build one Virginia-class submarine a year until 2011. Navy officials said this shipbuilding plan won't keep up with the decommissioning of Los Angeles-class submarines.
"No one is comfortable with that," Munns said. "That's not a risk that anyone thinks we should take."

Should be interesting to see how this turns out. My personal opinion is that they'll stay at the 1 boat per year buy rate until about 2010, and then "project" two a year after that; it means absolutely nothing (they've been projecting 2 or more per year four years out for the last 6 years) but it'll put Congress on record as supporting a bigger sub fleet in general.

Oh, and for the Jackson verdict: he'll be acquitted on everything except for maybe the alcohol charges; after all, he's a celebrity in California, and there's no videotape of him committing the crime.

Going deep...

Update 1120 14 June: Here's a good report on the hearings from The New London Day. Excerpts:

"In response to questions from subcommittee members, Munns made the point several times that the fleet needs at least 54 submarines. At one point, when he discussed the most-needed future capabilities, he listed as the No. 2 priority the ability to “connect” submarines to the rest of the fleet with better communications, and No. 3 to expand the use of off-board and autonomous sensors and weapons.
"His top priority? “A sufficient number of hulls,” he said.
"Members seemed surprised when he responded negatively to a question from Simmons, the vice chairman, as to whether he had “signed off” on the official Navy plan for 37 boats.
“No one is comfortable with that,” Munns said. “It's more risk than any of us think we can take.” "Simmons questioned whether the study has any credibility if the admiral in charge of keeping submarines ready to deploy has not endorsed it. “I'd like to know that our senior submariners are involved in that decision,” he said. “I think it's absolutely a requirement.”

Submarine Force Heroes -- Yesterday and Today

The passing last week of Slade Cutter, CO of USS Seahorse credited with sinking 23 enemy vessels during WWII and four-time Navy Cross awardee, got me thinking about submarine heroes of yesteryear and today. The list of American submariners who gained immortality with their feats of bravery and daring -- Dudley "Mush" Morton, John Cromwell, and Howard Gilmore, to name but a few -- fill the hearts of submariners everywhere with pride to be part of a brotherhood with them. While today's submariners don't usually have the opportunity to be recognized for their bravey, the actions of the crew of USS San Francisco during her recent grounding show that men who go under the sea today are cut from the same cloth. Nevertheless, the larger than life exploits of the submarine heroes of WWII are what stir my imagination the most.
Slade Cutter was one such hero. A football hero at the Naval Academy, his war patrols on Seahorse were legendary, as his four Navy Crosses testify. Check out this account of Seahore's fourth patrol:

Seahorse's fourth war patrol took her to the Marianas, specifically to prevent the Japanese from reinforcing Guam and Saipan. She departed Pearl Harbor on 16 March 1944, and near Guam on 8 April came across a Japanese supply convoy. Cutter gained firing position and torpedoed the converted submarine tender Aratama Maru (6,784 tons) and the freighter Kizugawa Maru (1,915 tons). Subsequently, Aratama Maru drifted ashore on Guam and was abandoned as a total loss. Meanwhile Kizugawa Maru was towed to Guam for repairs but was so damaged by subsequent aircraft attacks that she was given up and scuttled in June. Seahorse moved on, and the very next day found a 15-20 ship convoy that had already been attacked by Trigger as it neared Saipan. Cutter attacked with two torpedoes and nailed the 4,667-ton Mimasaka Maru, leaving her dead in the water. In two attempts to deliver the coup de grace, both immediately and after nightfall, Seahorse was driven away by the escorts, but nonetheless, Mimasaka Maru sank just after midnight anyway. Patrolling submerged on lifeguard duty in support of carrier air strikes on Saipan, Seahorse next sighted the Japanese submarine I-174 on the surface on 20 April and fired two torpedoes from 1,800 yards. Inadvertently losing depth control and leaving periscope depth, Cutter heard a loud detonation, and it was later confirmed that I-174 (1,420 tons) had indeed become his latest victim. Then, only a week later, Seahorse found another convoy 45 miles west of Saipan and sank Akigawa Maru (5,244 tons) with three hits out of four torpedoes. Cutter took Seahorse to Milne Bay, New Guinea, to refuel on 3 May, and they ended another extraordinary patrol at Brisbane, Australia, on the 11th.

While Cutter may not have shown the flair of some of the more flambouyant COs, his superb technique and concern for his crew make him, for me, the prototype of a successful wartime CO. His passing reduces the pool of surviving WWI COs to a mere handful; the most famous, of course, and my personal hero, is Eugene Fluckey, who lives in Annapolis (where Cutter lived before he passed away). Fluckey's account of his wartime service of CO of USS Barb, as recounted in his book "Thunder Below", is must-reading for any submarine enthusiast. In fifteen months in command, he earned four Navy Crosses and the Congressional Medal of Honor, but always said that, when it came to awards, he was most proud that no man under his command ever received a Purple Heart. In recounting the circumstances of his award of the CMH, he stated that he didn't think he deserved the award, because he "wouldn't have taken the Barb into Namkwam if (he) had thought we didn't have at least a 50-50 chance of coming out alive". The story of his landing of part of his crew on the Japanese mainland to blow up a train with the Barb's own scuttling charges is worth the price of the book alone.
Another of the old-time heroes that I always admired was George Street. His bravery as CO of USS Tirante is legendary, but what I remember most is seeing him occasionally at the Submarine Force Museum in Groton; he stayed active in Navy and submarine activities in the Northeast until the end of his life. My EDEA (later EDMC, but that's another story) on USS Connecticut told me how, when he was COB of the Nautilus museum, Captain Street would occasionally drive down from Massachusetts and spend the day at the museum, sharing stories with visitors and staff. My Master Chief said that sometimes, when he closed up the building for the night, he'd find Captain Street asleep in his car in the parking lot. (After all, he was in his 80s.) On such occasions, he'd grab two Sailors from the duty section, get the command sedan, and have one of them drive Captain Street back home to Massachusetts while the other followed to bring that Sailor back -- the current generation of submariners paying respect to the generation that showed us the way...

Going deep...

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Non-Sub Blogs Look at Groton BRAC Issues

(Intel Source: Ninme) The Politburo Diktat, one of my regular stops in my tours around the blogosphere, has an entry up on the economics and politics that are possibly behind the proposed closing of Subase New London. Stephen's conclusion:

"So, is Blue State Connecticut getting whacked, in favor of Red States Virginia and Georgia? This article suggests not. While a Google search turns of plenty of suspicions, personally, I don't think these moves are politically motivated. But it still hurts to see your home state and such an historic place take a hit."

Staying at PD...

Satellite Photos of Groton

This guy seems to be kind of a nutjob, but he has some cool satellite photos up of Subase New London and Electric Boat. Just watch out for all the plutonium at EB!

(We Just Found A) Yellow Submarine

The BBC reports on local Scottish fishermen who found a Royal Navy mine-hunting mini-sub drifting in the waters of the Mull of Oa. The article details what happened when the men contacted the Navy about their find:

"Mr Hastie, who is a member of the local coastguard, contacted his colleagues at Clyde Coastguard to explain what had been found.
"They passed the details on to the Faslane Naval Base, but were initially told that no submarines were missing.
"The navy later admitted that one of its vessels was missing.

"However, Mr Hastie said the navy had not been in touch with either of the two men to thank them for what they had done.
"You would think they would have phoned up and thanked us because it is quite an expensive piece of kit to leave lying about. "

Some information on these mini-subs (Remote Controlled Mine Disposal Vehicles, or RCMDVs)can be found here.

Oh! The Humanity!

Time magazine brings forth another fearless example of their willingness to overcome the "stifling of dissent" within the U.S. by printing evidence of American torture of poor tourists who just happened to be travelling in Afghanistan in late 2001. In this shocking article, which Time happily admits is based on still-classified Secret document they happened to get their hands on, reveals that the brutal Americans...

Forced the poor innocent to listen to Christina Aguilera music!

Dripped water on his head to wake him up!

Only gave him four hours of sleep after twelve hours interrogation sessions!

Only allowed him a 24 hour break and had only two doctors care for him when he became dehyrated!

All because this poor unfortunate tried to enter the U.S. in August 2001, allegedly to help fly civilian aircraft into various buildings.

I'll try to find my copy of Time from 1943 when they revealed, based on secret documents, that President Roosevelt had decided immediately after the U.S. was attacked in December 1941 to concentrate their efforts on a country that hadn't attacked us, was shown in hindsight to not have a viable means of striking the U.S. directly (except with pesky submarines), all the while not telling the country that he had decided on this "Germany First" policy; in some cases even claiming that he would fight the Japanese with all his might. Also, he consulted with the British Prime Minister in making this decision! And, claimed that he still believed that peace was his goal while ordering U.S. warships to behave aggressively towards German submarines! I'll also find the articles where they reported on alleged American atrocities in Sicily...

(For those who don't know me that well, the above entry was writ ironical... and pissed off. Dammit, we're at war! You don't have to cheerlead for our side, but don't help our enemies!)

Update 1807 12June: My good friend Rob looks at this report from the left; not surprisingly, he chooses different excerpts than I did; and he doesn't go off on a rant about the Downing Street Memos like I did... (although the rest of his blog has been pretty heavy on that subject lately...)