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.)

Monday, October 31, 2005

Another Canadian Sub Fire

News from Canada tonight about a small electrical fire aboard HMCS Windsor, sister ship to HMCS Chicoutimi, which suffered a serious fire last year. It appears that this fire on the Windsor, which occurred when the boat was submerged, was much less serious and was put out quickly. Without the previous fire aboard Chicoutimi, it likely wouldn't have even made the news.

Due to questions about the safety of the other three ships of the Canadian fleet, HMCS Windsor is currently their only operational boat. I'll be watching to see if Canadian sub-blogger drunknsubmrnr comes up with some more information.

Staying at PD...

People Who Don't Understand The Constitution

Noticed a nice little poll over at AOL which includes the question:

"What choice should Bush make regarding Cheney?"
--Let him go
--Keep him

As of now, 65% of the respondents say "Let him go", by which I assume they mean Bush should fire the Vice President. Only one problem with that scenario, though... since the Vice President is elected by the Electoral College, the President really doesn't have the ability to "fire" the Vice President. Darn that nasty Constitution getting in the way of moonbat dreams again!

Documentary Review: "Kursk: A Submarine In Troubled Waters"

Just finished watching the acclaimed French documentary about the RNS Kursk sinking, and I must say it raised many interesting...

Nah, I can't do it. What a piece of moonbat trash! I've seen documentaries that ignore all evidence to the contrary of their predetermined conclusion, but this one is the worst. Combining primitive graphics with a complete lack of any evidence supporting it's conclusions, Kursk looks like it was made by unskilled 7th graders. From stating at all (not just Russian) nuclear submarines have two crews, to saying that the tarp hut that goes over an escape trunk was "meant to hide the missing distress beacon" (?) on USS Memphis, to saying the Memphis and USS Toledo were "badly damaged", it spewed out a whole stream of not only unsupported statements, but ones that flew in the face of all evidence to the contrary. It spun a tale of American fear that the "Shkval" Russian supercavitating torpedo would be sold to the Chinese leading to the American subs (which were monitoring the exercise from a distance) getting too close to the Kursk to "show American displeasure".

I've discussed earlier some of the fallacies of the documentary, so I won't repeat them here (you can click here and here to see them) except for this synopsis: Mk 48s don't make a small hole in a ship's hull -- it's Mk 50s, not carried by subs, that supposedly do that. The Memphis stopped in the Norwegian port not to get "repaired" from the collision, but to drop off the sonar tapes of the sinking so they could be flown to the U.S. USS Toledo wasn't horribly damaged in 2000; she returned from her deployment as scheduled. And, last but not least, you couldn't keep a secret like this, even in the sub community.

In summary, Kursk: A Submarine In Troubled Waters gets "the finger"... with both hands.

Sub-Themed TV Show Idea

The guys over at Castle Argghhh! put up a great post on possible "real world" storylines for the new Pentagon-based TV show, The E-Ring. Example titles: "The CFC Campaign" and "Lost ID Badge". Read the whole thing.

This got me to thinking about how it would be great to have a new submarine-based TV show. Not a crappy one like SeaQuest DSV, but one that shows the exciting life that today's submariners really lead. I have some ideas for episodes:

"Field Day": We meet the crew of the Navy's newest sub as they interact during the weekly cleaning of the ship. We meet the tough but fair CO, the evil XO, the dashing and very virile Engineer, the crusty old EDMC, the techno-geek Sonar Tech, and "Nuke", a malcontent RO who serves as the narrator. Tensions rise as "Sonar Tech" gets stuck behind the Drain Pump and the nukes threaten to "grease him up" to get him out.

"CMS Destruction": Join in the chuckles as the new JO assigned to the boat gets tired of using the Piranha shredder, and goes on liberty after putting the half-shredded bag of crypto in his rack for the night. Hilarity ensues! Introduces the coners to the audience.

"ORSE Workup": Follows the crew through a week of "Vulcan Death Watches" as they try to prepare for the ORSE. When Nuke comes down with a case of Tasmanian Swine Flu, will the new RO be able to handle the scram drill? ("Vulcan Death Watch" is basically a "4-4-4-6-6" day that messes with everyone's sleep schedule to get all three sections a drill period. It's defined near the bottom of this page of WestPac quotes, which contains some very bad words. Update: I just looked closer at that quote page, and it has some really, really bad quotes. Lots of homosexually-themed conversation between sonar techs. In other words, real life. Don't read it unless you really want to know what STs really talk about. Non-submariners shouldn't read it at all.)

"Midwatch": On tonight's episode, "Nuke" stands midwatch SRO. In a cutting-edge cinematic device, a clock appears in the bottom corner of the screen as we watch an hour of his life in "real time". In the thrilling climax, "Nuke" takes his hourly logs.

I'll see if I can come up with some more later...

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Sub-Blogger Blogiversaries

During the last week, both The Noonz Wire and Gus Van Horn turned one. (Both are contributors over at the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More.) Congratulations, guys!

And, while WillyShake isn't turning one until January, he did put a nice post up on on a hometown honor for USS San Francisco hero MM2(SS) Joseph Ashley.

Below Decks Pictures Of USS Virginia

Vigilis recently demonstrated a lot of faith in me by predicting that I could get interesting pictures from the insides of USS Virginia (SSN 774). I was thinking, "Hey, I've seen pictures of the Virginia CCSM -- they'll probably be easy to find". I guessed wrong...

The Navy seems to be keeping a fairly close hold on pictures of the Virginia's control room -- this is a big change from when USS Seawolf was launched, and they had a nice full-color shot of the Ship's Control Panel out within a couple of months.

Anyway, looking through all my unclas resources, here's the only picture (from this Navy page) that I can tell is actually of the inside of the USS Virginia's control room -- and it's from the very early stages of construction, showing the BQQ-10 stacks and not much else:

Pretty sad. Anyway, the Navy did help me in my quest by releasing some other pictures from inside the USS Virginia (taken last year during Bravo trials, but based on their placement in the photo gallery, I think just released) -- deploying a towed array, a darkened passageway, two NUBs studying in front of a radiation sign, Torpedo Room berthing, the lock-out trunk, a couple of A-gangers with complicated computer screens, and a pic of the new Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment in the lock-out trunk.

I like the picture of the computer-literate A-gangers best...

So, I did provide pictures of the inside of the Virginia -- just not the ones you were probably looking for...

Update 0839 30 Oct: I had figured the pictures of the Virginia I linked to above were new, because 1) when I typed in "ssn" in the Navy photo search, they came up near the top, between two pictures put up between 26-27 October, and 2) I also looked at the USS Virginia page at NavSource, and didn't see them. It turns out that NavSource has a second USS Virginia page that has several other pictures from Bravo trials -- the ones I linked to aren't there, though, leading me to believe that maybe the Navy did just release them. However, NavSource did have a picture of the Virginia SCP, reprinted below, along with this Navy photo of the photonics display:

Update 0905 30 Oct: Hey, I just noticed that this is my 700th post!

Friday, October 28, 2005

Spammenters Have Tiny Penises

Reading the Reuters report of the Iranian "Jerusalem Day" protest in Teheran today, I was struck by the following sentence:

"Basiji men and women, some dressed in camouflage uniforms and others wearing white shrouds symbolizing suicide bombers, proclaimed their loyalty to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei and denounced Israel and the United States, which broke ties with Iran after the 1979 revolution." [emphasis mine]

Lacking a little context there, doyahthink? The reader unfamiliar with history might suppose that we broke ties with Iran because we didn't like their revolution. Others, not from Reuters though, might remember that we had diplomatic relations with them until they invaded our embassy and held our diplomats hostage! Maybe, just maybe, that's the real reason we "broke ties" with Iran.

Oh, and about the title of this post -- some spammenters (automated spamming programs that leave links to worthless websites in blog comments) have gotten "intelligent" programs that actually mention the blogger's name and the title of the post in their comment. I was going to see if I can get one of them to say how much they "enjoyed the post" about their tiny penis. I'll delete them as soon as I see them, but it'll provide me just a little enjoyment...

Going deep...

Update 2213 28 Oct: Ninme has written before about the efforts of the media to "forget" mentioning the Iran Hostage Crisis.

Quick Post

Reaction from the Utah papers on the decommissioning of USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716) can be found here and here.

And, from Japan, comes big news... expect protests in the streets of Yokosuka.

Going deep...

Update 0745 30 Oct: Here's a picture from the Slave Labor Camp's inactivation ceremony.

Bell-ringer 0751 30 Oct: Searching for the post that Skippy-San mentioned in the comments, I noted that he's been very busy lately... but go for the thought-provoking posts, not the pictures of beautiful young women in skimpy clothing...

And the protests ended up being in Hiroshima....

Thursday, October 27, 2005

A Tour Of USS Virginia

Over at Rontini's BBS, a friend of mine from Groton posted an E-mail he had gotten from an old submariner who had just toured USS Virginia (SSN 774) in Kings Bay; Virginia is down there as part of her "deployment". Here's part of what he had to say:

"To say this is a revolutionary vessel would surely be to miss something. Imagine working everyday with a DOS 6.0 computer workstation and then one day be "upgraded" to Windows XP. That would probably be the experience of this old 613 and 648 submariner:
-- There are no "log books" in the traditional sense. Either all watchstanders have PDAs where they take logs, or the data is fed directly into the computer for readout and output. This enables the EOOW, EDO, and others to do have the computer do analysis on the data -- i.e. trends on Tave vs pzr level, etc etc.
-- There are no more diving officer of the watch, chief of the watch, helmsman and planesman watchstanders. These have all been consolidated into two watches -- the Pilot and the co-Pilot. Between the two of these (usually chiefs or a senior first class), they will trim the ship, steer it, dive it, surface it, etc etc. No longer do they rely on gauges and analog readouts.
They have several large digital (probably 19" flat screen and touch screen) graphical displays that allow them to move water from one trim tank to another, type in the ships course and also type in the ships speed and depth. If they need to go "emergency deep", they simply push the "emergency deep" button on the display and the computer will take over and bring the ship to a preplanned depth unless overidden. However, I was thankful to see that the "chicken switches" were still there above the watchstanders and were not simply a touch screen display button :-)
-- Remember when you were afraid to go to the head if the ship was at PD because you were not 100% confident that the san tanks were NOT pressurized and the aux of the watch just forgot to hang out a sign on the head (or you looked for the bubbles in the toilet water before opening the ball valve), well, fear no more! The designers of the Virginia put in two san tanks -- one as the "inner" tank which would flow to the "outer" tank that will be pressurized at the right time in order to be blown overboard.
-- You have probably heard about the periscope. This is something else. I had heard about it and I had been wondering how clear the display in control really was -- I mean I think that it could never be as clear as the naked eye physically looking thru the glass. I remember the periviz!
Well, I am here to say that the display was as clear as a bell -- similar to my HD TV at home -- very high resolution. Since there is no direct hull penetration for the periscope, control is actually aft of the sail. The OOD will sit (or stand) at the periscope station and from there he can operated a little toggle switch which will raise and lower the scope. Since the scope is 360 degrees, he can, if he wants to minimize mast exposure, simply raise the scope for a second, it will take a 360 degree picture, and the scope will be lowered. Then he and the JOOD and other watchstanders can look at the pictures and see what is outside. No more dancing with the one-eyed lady
:-) We all remember, I am sure, going to PD during a fire drill with your EAB on and trying not to get tangled up in your hose as you rotate with the scope. This scope really has alot (and I mean ALOT!) more features that are just awesome that I can't really go into detail on here. Suffice it to say that these features make warfighting on the VIRGINIA something that really will give these guys additional tactical advantages (like we need more? haha) in any engagement with surface ships. I was reading about this month being the 200th year anniversary of the battle of Trafalgar and had read that one of the advantages the Brits had over the French and Spanish combined fleet was that they could reload and fire their cannons every 2 minutes, whereas it took the French/Spanish ships about 5 min to reload and fire. This was a huge tactical advantage in that engagement. I think the scope on the Virginia class gives them an advantage on a similar scale -- just my opinion.
Some other quick items:

-- Separate weapons shipping hatch for loading weapons
-- Escape trunk design much much better -- entry through the side rather than thru the bottom -- more room for seals and others
-- no more hot racking for the crew. Also the crew is generally in several 6 man berthing spaces. -- every watch station has a laptop hooked up to the ships LAN -- Ship has its own "help desk" for computer support issues. -- wardroom looks similar -- except there are RJ 45 jacks above the table that you can plug in your laptop for network access.
-- no more RPM, SOP, SORM paper manuals -- these are all on those laptops I mentioned at each watchstation. -- Paperless (supposedly) work environment.
Anyways... I enjoyed my tour on one of our newest warfighting machines."

The Seawolf class boats have a lot of these improvements, but many of them are unique to the Virginia-class boats. All in all, they're truly a "submarine for the 21st century".

Going deep...

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Greeneville ART Speaks

Many of you enjoyed a website called the "Greeneville Underground Newsletter" that I found a couple months ago, and many of you wondered why the site had "disappeared". (For those who didn't see it, it was basically the traditional "bitch book"/"nuke passdown log" that the malcontent/humorous (pick one based on your prejudices) nukes were keeping online.)

I received a communique from "Anti-Retention Team", who I assume is one of the guys who helped publish the newsletter. I'm assured that he wasn't one of the people who had to sign a Page 13, so no laws are being broken here. Here's the statement:

Thanks and Farewell
The Greeneville Underground Newsletter

Friends, Readers, Weblog Colleagues, and Casual Bystanders:
As you now know or have suspected, the Greeneville Underground Newsletter has ceased publication. The shutdown is semi-voluntary, but fully-permanent. There will be no republication under a different name. Several people have requested information on what happened, and I'll attempt to explain. This may get long, since it's difficult to capture the spirit of what was going on here.
Every boat has at least one "passdown log"/bitch book/pit log/slam book hidden somewhere out of the way in the spaces. Command attitudes vary between absolutely not allowed and "not allowed, nudge nudge, wink wink." On one boat I was on it routinely got swiped and read in the CPO Quarters, then returned unharmed, whenever something particularly creative and funnyshowed up in there.
There are a few arguments that could be made that a passdown log is a good thing. I can think of three.
For one thing, people need to vent now and then. Maybe writing something nasty is better than keeping it to yourself. It's definitely better, in the self-preservation sense, than being a smart-ass to the XO.
For another thing, it can function as an informal suggestion-box. I've known some COs to periodically "take the oak leaves off" and take whatever abuse the blue-shirts can dish out (verbally, of course) in the name of hearing the REAL SCOOP. I admire COs that can do that. Now obviously, you can't run a military organization where any jackass can feel free totell off the Captain any old time he disagrees. The passdown log can, and does, function as the unvarnished opinion on the deckplate. The management can sneak peeks and find out how successfully (or not) they're running the show.
It's not limited to the management, either. I've seen people constantly harassed by the chain of command about quals do nothing, but then get hot once they start being known as a "slug" in the passdown log by their peers.
The previous two are decent reasons, and reasons I hear a lot. They don't really convince me, though. The reason that causes me to "overlook" these books, provided they don't get TOO out of hand with the personal attacks and bickering, is often missed.
People need to have fun. The passdown log is fun - fun to think up stuff to write in, fun to read. It's a break from the dreary "groundhog's day" of being underway. Same reason people get into wrestling matches in ERLL, same reason watchstanders get into water fights, same reason the XOs door goes missing periodically.
I think in management fad/theory, this is called the "fish principle". I haven't read that book yet, though. The premise is this: people will work their asses off for very little in return, as long as it's sort of fun and the time goes by fairly quickly. The leader who can make the workplace full of joking and laughter, even when it's 10pm on a non-duty weekend night, is going to get a lot farther than the slave-driver.
So where am I going with this? Well, this is important background to the Underground Newsletter. When "they" found our passdown log and took it away, with the remark that "you can have one, just not in the engineroom,"well, to quote the CO, "A bored Nuke is a dangerous thing."
But was putting it on the Internet, for the general public to see, a big middle finger to the command? A "Take it away, well, we'll show you" scenario? No. It also wasn't a desire to "show the world what crap we're dealing with" - we didn't think anyone would ever see it but us. It's a big Internet after all, and who's going to search for "Greeneville" that cares in the slightest? (foreshadowing)
No, it started out as a "wouldn't it be funny if..." scenario. Then a proof of concept blog. But then, hey, this turned out to be fun.
So Greeneville's in the shipyard, with morale at the lowest it's been in all the time anyone can remember (including the collision). Those of you who have been in the shipyard know what I mean. Those of you on Hono REALLY know what I mean. Then all of the sudden, something is fun.
I think people initially came to the Underground to bitch and be anti-navy, anti-greeneville, anti-this, anti-that. I think the tone of the site, though, was more about laughing at the ridiculous, telling funny stories - recognizing the humor in the situation, not anger. I think our non-crewvisitors could sense it, too.
The more active participants have mentioned that it came as a shock that the main Underground page became popular, while the Distractions didn't. That's the part we liked best. That, and the prank planning. We were actually moving more in the harmless pranks direction and less toward bitching the longer we went on.
It was fun. There were dozens of readers who didn't post, and everyone liked to talk about it. It made work kind of fun, with people watching out for "good things to post on the Underground". If the XO hits the limiter and starts cussing everyone out, it no longer makes everyone pissed off the rest of the day. It makes everyone smile to themselves wondering if it'll make the Underground and what it will say. In my humble opinion, it did more to IMPROVE morale than any other thing while it lasted.
Ok, so what happened already? Well, that's when the CO and COB made a public relations trip to Greeneville, Tennessee. While they were gone, the SUBPAC Public Affairs Officer decided to Google for any related news stories generated by the trip. Uh-Oh, turns out the Underground was the number one result for Greeneville+Submarine or something. Busted.
We got reported to the Admiral, who chewed out the Commodore, who "notified" the command in what I imagine was a one-way phone call. Also, NCIS was invited to scour the Underground for any classified material or operational security disclosures.While we had been careful (very careful) to keep a handle on the REAL security issues on the site, some participants were less good than others at being undercover. A couple of "our" people (plus a couple of innocent bystanders, oops) were invited to a special meeting with the chain of command where it was suggested that the site be discontinued. These suggestions being documented on Page 13s, if you know what I mean.
Since no actual UCMJ articles had been violated, and no classified information compromised, that was the end of it. I don't think the issue was that we had done anything wrong, but that it would be incredibly easy to embarrass the command publicly. Also that an accidental slip of something classified would be world-wide and unable to take back. I'm guessing, though.
So, being bored nukes, I suppose we COULD restart the site under a different name, about a "fictitious" boat. (we thought of starting the La Jolla Underground Newsletter, heh) We've decided, though, that being published on the Internet was not an essential feature - we can still do all the things we were doing offline, not get into trouble, and keep the command happy.
It's just better that way. We'll find another way to have fun. I'm sure the passdown log will reappear at some point - they always do.So we'd like to thank everyone who said nice things about us, and who made it fun. Because that was the important thing, the fun.

ART (The anti-retention team)
Greeneville Underground Newsletter

I'll put down some of my thoughts on this later tonight...

Update 2335 26 Oct: I feel kind of responsible for the site being taken down, since I'm the one who first "outed" them to the sub-blogosphere at large. Short version: They linked to me, I noticed them in my referrer's logs, and posted about them at Ultraquiet No More. On the other hand, based on the fact that some of the hits I had gotten from them came from the mainland, I think they were kind of an "open secret" anyway.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the malcontent nukes -- they generally worked as hard, or harder, than the quieter guys, and provided a lot more laughs. They kept you on your toes, too; you had to come up with real reasons why some task was important to satisfy them, other than "because I said so".

When I was Eng on Connecticut (which had quite a few malcontents) I made it a point to go through the "bitch book" whenever I had duty... just to get a pulse of what the crew was really thinking. I had an unspoken rule that I wouldn't hold guys responsible for anything they wrote in there -- as long as it didn't violate reactor safety, of course. The crew knew that, and knew that they could get a message to me without "going through channels". Since my EDMC was on the same wavelength, it worked out OK. I think it's a mistake for a boat to cut off this "relief valve" -- nukes being the inventive types they are, they're always going to figure out a way to bitch, and it's better to have something benign, like this blog was, than some of the other options. (That being said, I still have enough "active duty" in me to recognize that CSP really had no option but to shut the thing down once they found out about it -- had it made the press, and it came out that SubPac knew about it and did nothing, people would have lost their jobs.)

Anyway, I'll miss reading about the nukes on the Greeneville, and I hope they come up with another way to express themselves -- within the bounds of the UCMJ, of course.

I've re-enlisted a couple of guys who swore up and down they'd never re-up. It ain't over 'til it's over, guys -- submarining gets in your blood, whether you like it or not. And who knows... maybe when one of them is an EDMC, they'll tell a "no sh*tter" about the time CSP shut down their blog.

Push-Polling, Anyone?

I found an article in The Independent about a poll that Greenpeace had commissioned in the UK regarding the upgrading of their SSBN program (the Brits have essentially all of their nukes on submarines). This is an outstanding example of the "push-poll", where the pollsters ask leading questions designed to get the responses their looking for, and maybe even convince the poll-takers to change their minds. (Example: "If you knew Candidate A had not denied continuing to beat his wife, would that change your mind about who to vote for?")

Anyway, one response really stood out to me, and convinced me that the poll really wasn't on the "up-and-up"; to wit:

"When asked whether they approved of the Government using nuclear weapons against a country we were at war with but had not deployed its nuclear force, 72 per cent of respondents disapproved, a clear rejection of the "first-strike" principle to which the Government is wed. The figure rises to 84 per cent in relation to countries which do not have nuclear weapons. Only in the case of a country which has used nuclear weapons against Britain does a slim majority - 53 per cent - approve, with a significant 37 per cent still disapproving."

Let me get this straight -- 47% of Britons would be against, or are unsure about, retalitating with nuclear weapons against a country that had used nuclear weapons against Britain? As they once said on one of my favorite TV shows: "That does not make sense". I mean, I knew some Brits could be weenies, but... jeez!

Going deep...

Our Finest Hour

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] Two recent articles in Florida newspapers discussed a "tolling the bell" ceremony honoring local submariners lost on Oct. 24, 1944. The first, from the St. Augustine Record (registration required; another copy not requiring registration is here) described that day as "the single worst day in U.S. submarine history"; the other, from the Palatka Daily News, describes that day, when three submarines and 168 submariners were lost, as "...that ignominous [sic] day."

I disagree. While the losses of the USS Shark II, USS Tang, and USS Darter were a cause for mourning, their sacrifices were in no way "ignominious".

The USS Darter was lost while participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history. Darter, in company with her sister ship USS Dace, found and engaged the "Center Force" of the Japanese Fleet. In addition to informing headquarters of the sighting, they combined to sink two Japanese heavy cruisers and damage another. Darter ran aground while moving to engage the enemy again; she contacted Dace, and after all confidential equipment was removed, the entire crew of Darter was rescued.

The circumstances surrounding the loss of USS Shark II are murkier, since there were no survivors. Evidence shows that she had attacked and sunk a ship carrying American prisoners, and was likely engaged in surfaced rescue operations when she was attacked and sunk.

Much more is known about the loss of one of the most famous submarines of WWII, USS Tang. Her commanding officer, CDR (later RADM) Dick O'Kane, is arguably the most successful wartime submarine officer ever, as his record as XO on USS Wahoo and CO of USS Tang attest. Here's the record of the attack in which Tang was lost:

"The following evening Tang found yet another convoy, and O’Kane again attempted to maneuver inside the escort on the surface. However, as Tang closed in this time, she was detected before reaching attack position, and immediately came under 5-inch and 40-millimeter gunfire from the escorts. Undaunted, O’Kane boldly held Tang on the surface and drove into position. When the range closed to 1,000 yards, O’Kane fired six torpedoes: two at a transport, two at a second transport, and two at a tanker. All of Tang’s torpedoes hit with a series of shattering blasts that tossed up clouds of fire and debris. The glare of burning ships, spitting guns, tracer bullets, and exploding shells lit up the night. As O’Kane maneuvered Tang for another target, a destroyer charged the submarine at 30 knots, while two destroyer escorts rushed at Tang from the opposite direction. With the three burning ships directly off the bow, the submarine was boxed in again. Just like the previous night, O’Kane rang full speed ahead and sent Tang charging straight at the attackers. This time, though, he wasn’t bluffing. Closing range, O’Kane fired three fast shots to clear the way. The first struck the tanker; the second hit the transport and stopped it dead in the water; and the third struck the destroyer and brought it down too. With the night sky blazing, Tang dashed through the gap and withdrew temporarily to reload the last two torpedoes.
"When ready, O’Kane moved in to finish the crippled transport. As he gave the order to fire, there was no hint of impending danger. The first torpedo ran straight toward the target, trailing its luminescent wake. The second torpedo, however, broached the surface and began a circular run back towards Tang...
[It hit.]
"...O’Kane and the eight other men on the bridge were hurled into the water. One other officer in the conning tower escaped to join them. During the night, these ten men tried to hang together, but one by one they slipped away. By dawn, only O’Kane and three others were left to be picked up by the Japanese.
"The story was different below decks. Thirty men had survived the blast. They gathered in the forward torpedo room with the intention of getting out through the forward escape trunk. Only five would survive the ascent and subsequent exposure in the water. In all, eight of the crew survived. They served out the remainder of the war in a Japanese prisoner-of-war (POW) camp."

CDR O'Kane was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

What these actions have in common is not "ignominity", but evidence of the bravery, daring, and self-sacrifice of the submariners of WWII. Americans nowadays are repelled by any loss during military conflict, and forget that in WWII we were facing an implacable, well-armed enemy who wanted to win as badly as we did... losses were to be expected, while still being regretted. The loss of one sub, without casualty to the crew, is a good trade for the sinking of 2 heavy cruisers; even if they hadn't sunk the cruisers, the contact report they made was priceless. The crew of USS Shark II was lost trying to save their brothers who had been taken prisoner; the USS Tang helped break the back of the Japanese Empire as much as any other ship in the war. The "worst day in submarine history"? No -- this day, as much as any other, was what showed the world the best side of American submariners. While we honor the sacrifice of the crews, we should continue to thank them for "showing us the way".

Going deep...

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Math Skills Lacking Among Retired Skimmers

Over at Soldiers For The Truth, submarine "expert" Lt. Raymond Perry USN (Ret.) is writing about the USS Philadelphia collision again. (I've opined about the quality of Lt. Perry's expertosity regarding the Philly collision before: here, here, and here.)

This time, he's been doing some research, and seems to recognize that the previous bilgewater he was spouting was completely wrong -- so, he uses the time-honored journalistic tactic of ignoring his previous mis-statements and forging ahead as if nothing's happened. (Something similar happened during his writings on the San Fran grounding -- he accused the Sub Force of covering up the presence of the CSG-7 Admiral, and then never mentioned it again when it turned out he was just pulling crap out of his ass.)

Anyway, on to his new article. It appears that he's done a better job this time of avoiding recto-cranial inversion -- some of his postulations and conclusions are about as good as you might get from a Sub Officer Basic Course graduate with no sea time -- not one of the better graduates, though, maybe one of the Supply Officers. In other words, what you'd expect from someone with a passing familiarity with subs, but no real experience. This is a definite upgrade from his earlier articles.

On the other hand, his attempt to use TMA "rules of thumb" produced some funny results. I had earlier thought that he didn't visit this site, but I was apparently wrong -- he used a photo that essentially only appeared here (actually I know of a couple other blogs that picked it up, but they were some of the smaller ones), although he credited the Mudville Gazette with the pic. (As far as I know it never appeared there, although they do link to me occasionally, and it might have been linked from one of the Dawn Patrols a few days after I posted it.)

Back to the topic at hand. It looks like Raymond (Ret.) Lt. tried his hand at a little "mental gym" in part of his article, thusly:

"Their closing rate was likely about 5 or 6 knots or 300 yards per minute. Sounds slow but remember this means 100 yards in 20 seconds and 53,000 tons ships just don't turn on a dime. Things happen surprisingly fast at these slow speeds when the tonnage is so large. Thus the Yaso Aysen appears to have not recognized the Philadelphia until at less than 300 yards at which point the collision was assured."

Dude, that just sucks. Not sure how it works in the skimmer world, but in the real world we use what's called the "three minute rule", which means that a ship travelling at "x" knots would travel 100 times "x" yards in three minutes. It's not that tough, Perry Lt. (Ret) Raymond. With a closing range rate of 5 or 6 knots, they'd be closing at 500-600 yards in three minutes, which is 166.7-200 yards per minute. Not 300 yards per minute. Does this make USN Perry's conclusions any different? No. It's just... if you're going to use math, why not get it right? Plus, now that I know he reads this blog, it gives me a good chance to yank his chain about what otherwise seems to be a decent article.

And Ray, if you're reading: If you'd like to apologize for questioning Captain Mooney's professionalism (regarding "showboating" for non-existent senior riders), just drop me an E-mail, and I'll print it without comment here -- that way, you won't have to look bad to your regular readers.

Going deep...

Do You Nukes Ever Miss Your Tiny Little Di...?

For all you out-of-the-Navy nukes out there who are missing having that black and grey plastic friend riding on your belts, here's a blast from the past.

Didn't remember the five-sided Allen wrench oolie? Forgot what the accident dosimeter was made of? This page can bring back all those bad nightmares for ELTs who thought they'd had their last monitored TLD read...

Going deep...

Monday, October 24, 2005

Now You Can Rest

A TV station in Detroit is reporting that Rosa Parks died tonight at 92. Only six weeks short of the 50th anniversary of the day she refused to give up her bus seat to a white man, Mrs. Parks served as an inspiration to a generation of Americans. A great spirit has been taken from us, and has gone to her reward...

So Will The Spaniards Try To Arrest These Guys?

There are conflicting reports of the numbers of deaths from the bomb attacks on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad today. As you may remember, the Palestine Hotel is the "reporter's hotel" that was fired on by an American tank in April 2003 as they were taking fire from the location; a Spanish judge recently issued "international arrest warrants" for the tank commander and officers in his chain of command. Anyone wanna bet that the Spaniards will be as interested in seeking "justice" against (non-American) people who clearly targetted the hotel without any military exigency?

Didn't think so...

Non-Sub Related

If the White House is looking for a convenient excuse for withdrawing the Miers nomination, this story will probably provide them the political cover they need:

"Supreme Court nominee Harriet Miers collected more than 10 times the market value for a small slice of family-owned land in a large Superfund pollution cleanup site in Dallas where the state wanted to build a highway off-ramp.
"The windfall came after a judge who received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Miers' law firm appointed a close professional associate of Miers and an outspoken property-rights activist to the three-person panel that determined how much the state should pay.
"The resulting six-figure payout to the Miers family in 2000 was despite the state’s objections to the "excessive” amount and to the process used to set the price. The panel recommended paying nearly $5 a square foot for land that was valued at less than 30 cents a square foot."

I personally don't have a problem with anything I've seen about Miers -- then again, as a South Park Republican, I'm not that militant about abortion. My own personal view about abortion (that I generally support it being available with reasonable restrictions and no government funding, but that there is no inherent Constitutional right to abortion) is screwy enough that it ensures I'll never be elected to public office, even if I lost my mind and decided to run...

Going deep...

Update 1529 24 Oct: Via Best of the Web, here's an article that talks about a possible withdrawal of the Miers nomination. I was upset in reading today's edition of "Best of..." because they used the "pining for the fjords" joke that I was going to use for the story of the dead British parrot...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Boise Mayor To Attend USS Boise COC

As the keeper of "Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog", I would be greatly remiss if I did not mention the upcoming visit of the mayor of Boise, David Bieter, to Norfolk to attend the Change of Command for USS Boise (SSN 764) later this week. The mayor's expenses are being paid for by the "USS Boise Committee", which apparently is what is left of the city's original commissioning committee; they don't seem very active, though, since they don't even have a website, and doing a Google search yields meager results. (The one mention that comes up is a good article from the Idaho Statesman on the one Boise crewmember from Boise, MMC(SS) Eric Lowe.)

This seems like a little downgrade from the Boise's last Change of Command, when the Governor attended. It's still nice to have at least a little support from the namesake, though.

I actually interacted with the Boise Commissioning Committee when I was a JO; they came down to San Diego for a "VIP familiarization" trip, and we gave them an in-and-out ride on the USS Topeka back in the early 90s. Among the committee members was one very old man that I talked to for a while; since I got to Boise, I found out that this man, J. R. Simplot, is actually one of the richest men in the country -- if you've ever eaten potatoes, they probably came from him.

Ex-Greeneville CO In The News

This week's release of the official NTSB report on the collision of USS Greeneville (SSN 772) with the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru in 2001, gave former Greeneville CO Scott Waddle a chance to make the news again. I'll give my opinions on this report later on today...

Update 2245 23 Oct: I updated the links above to make them more relevant (the link to the statement from CDR Waddle now goes to the source article, and the link to "official NTSB report" now goes to the official NTSB report).

Regarding the collision and my opinion of CDR Waddle -- it's clear that the crew of the Greeneville, under the leadership of their then-CO, completely "screwed the pooch" that day in February 2001. Although a lot was made of the presence of "civilians at the controls", that really didn't contribute to the collision. The main problem, IMHO, was a command climate in which the CO didn't encourage a questioning attitude and forceful backup by the crew.

I've never met Scott Waddle, and I only interacted with him once, so this is another one of those "one data point"** conclusions. When I was the Submarine Liaison Officer for the John C. Stennis Battle Group back in 1999, the USS Greeneville was one of the subs playing OPFOR for our JTFEX. We were having a hard time getting any good interactions with the Greeneville after the first week; they had a "device" on board that all submarines participating in exercises carry, without which you really can't have decent contact between our submarines and surface/aviation units. We also had one certain ship that is specially designed to listen for submarines, and can tell immediately if this device is working properly. That ship reported that the device on Greeneville wasn't working, so I relayed that to the sub. CDR Waddle replied back that they had verified that their device was working, so the problem was on our end. I told him a couple more times that this wasn't the case, unless the laws of physics had changed (I was actually more diplomatic than that). He still refused to believe the problem was on his boat, and so we eventually decided that we wouldn't even bother sending forces to look for Greeneville -- it wouldn't be worth it, with the few days left in the exercise. (In his defense, these devices can be tricky; when I was a JO, we had the same problem on Topeka, but every indication we had on board said the device was working. The difference is that we believed what everyone else was saying, and dug a little deeper until we found the problem.)

I figured that was the end of it, until I read an article in Time magazine back in April 2001. (The article is "premium content" now, so unless you have access to that, you'll have to trust me that I copied the following passage correctly -- and you should trust me; after all, I'm a Time subscriber.)

"...Waddle had always seen himself as destined to fight a war and told his men as much. In October 1999, in his first major sortie after taking command of the Greeneville, he took to sea off San Diego to fight a mock battle against the John C. Stennis carrier group. "They were one to two miles away, coming toward us at 18 knots--and we went up to periscope depth. I was taking my guys into the most dangerous peacetime situation. Any one of those ships could have ripped us apart. I told my men, 'We are going to engage these guys. If I go to war, you want to go to war with me, because I will put the enemy on the bottom and we will come home alive.' That's what gained me their confidence." It was typical Waddle--brash, daring, determined to succeed. He did a series of unorthodox maneuvers with the submarine to confound the carrier group. "They couldn't find us. We ran rings around them."

So here he is, in an article about how sorry he is, bragging about his "tactical skill". Of course the Battle Group couldn't find him -- his device wasn't working. We wouldn't have been able to find any American sub in a similar condition. And he probably knew that -- I'm sure that Squadron told him after he pulled back in that his device didn't work. But he still couldn't resist trying to make himself look good. (As a side note: If he really did make a speech like that to the crew, you just know that they were probably smirking and rolling their eyes... saying stuff like that just isn't the submariner's way.)

That's the thing that bugs me about CDR Waddle. I'm glad he took responsibility for what he did -- it was the right thing to do. But, now that he's done so, I really don't see what the point is of seemingly making it his life's work to repeatedly talk about how he continues to take responsibility. He's already said he's sorry. He's visited Japan. He's written his book. He's griped about the Navy. The next step in the coping process is to quietly fade away...

Going deep...

** "One data point" conclusion: If your sample size is one, your correlation will always be 1.0.

Bubblehead Predicts The Future

My prediction for the top story later this week in the Lincoln (NE) Journal-Star:

"Nebraska AD Burned In Effigy"

"University of Nebraska Athletic Director Satan was burned in Effigy last night by a mob of angered football fans. Their anger stemmed from the fact that the Cornhuskers, who had routinely led the nation in rushing offense during the last 25 years, were held to a miserable (-)2 yards of rushing in a ridiculous 41-24 loss to Missouri last Saturday. Fans were understandably outraged that Satan had decreed a shift to the "West Toast" offense after he fired a coach who had the gall to go 58-19 over six years with an option offense.
"Effigy, a small town just south of Lincoln, is where the fans caught up with Satan as he was trying to flee the state."

Best Air-Guitar Song Ever

Driving home from work last night, I came to the realization that Heartbreaker, by Pat Benatar, has got to be the best song ever for air-guitaring to. Next time you hear it, I dare you not to air-guitar.
That is all...

(Grammar note: I know, I dangled the participle, but any other option doesn't seem to work: "the best song to which to air-guitar" just doesn't sound right...)

Saturday, October 22, 2005

"Big Grey Ship..."

So there I was... on the good ship USS Topeka (SSN 754) in December 1992. We were anchored off Phuket, Thailand, at the start of the third day of our port visit. We'd had the harbor to ourselves the first night, but then the next night the cruiser USS Jouett (CG 29) had pulled in, and their crew immediately rioted in the streets of Phuket. I had duty that night, and got all the stories from the crew coming back aboard of the skimmer crew's generally loutish behavior. As a result, their whole crew was stuck back on the ship until they had some "training" on how to behave yourself on liberty.

So, I got relieved, and headed in on the liberty launch. Based on the great reception we'd gotten from the townspeople the first night, I expected more of the same -- it hadn't sunk in yet that the idiots from the cruisers may had "poisoned the well". How could a town whose people had been so friendly, and whose young females had offered to do amazing and imaginative things to us for 500 baht, ever turn against us?

Therefore, I was surprised to be on the receiving end of the "evil eye" from the first shopkeeper I saw -- he was sweeping up the broken glass from his front window from the sidewalk. It slowly dawned on me why he wouldn't be happy to see a Sailor, so I told him I was from the submarine. His face brightened immediately, and he said, "Ah, submarine numbah one." His face then contorted with anger and sadness as he punctuated his next sentence with jabs from his finger pointing towards the harbor. "Big grey ship, NO GOOD!"

Truer words were never spoken...

Friday, October 21, 2005

Sub Linehandling in Crete... Redux

For the second time in a week, the Navy is treating us to photos of a submarine tying up in Souda Bay, Crete. Following the release of last week's picture of the USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) bringing on lines, now we get three (!) pictures of USS San Juan (SSN 751) mooring in the same port. These pictures can be seen here, here, and here.

The USS San Juan (or "San One", as she is sometimes affectionately known) is finishing up a deployment in which she participated in the Shark Hunt 2005 ASW exercise in the Med.

The earlier picture of the Philly sparked quite an interesting discussion on linehandling over at Rontini's BBS, including an explanation of why they aren't using the traditional "monkey's fist" at the end of the heaving line (or "heavie").

Going deep...

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Fish In A Barrel

The Sub Report directed me to a review of the moonbatty French documentary, "Kursk: A Submarine In Troubled Waters", which I discussed earlier this week. As I read the review, from a Hartford, CT, newspaper, my blood pressure started to rise. Here's why:

"French filmmaker Jean-Michel Carré has tried to address some of these questions in Kursk: A Submarine in Troubled Waters . It is a choppy, entirely porous conspiracy theory of a movie that nonetheless is pretty convincing. What seems likely is that the U.S. Navy was involved in the sinking of the boat...
"...So here's the theory. The Russians were testing a new torpedo, the shkval , which could travel an astonishing 300 miles an hour, and they were showing it off to Chinese officials. The Kursk was also carrying nuclear warheads. This annoyed the Americans, who trailed the Kursk with two subs of their own, the Memphis and the Toledo . In the shallow waters, the Toledo and the Kursk collided. As the Toledo limped away after leaving a tear in the hull of the Kursk the Memphis came in to cover, and when it seemed that the Kursk was going to fire a torpedo at the fleeing Toledo , the Memphis fired one of its own: an MK-48, which sent the Kursk to the bottom. Supporting this theory: The Toledo soon took refuge in a Norwegian port under secrecy, for repairs. What also seems hard to refute is the very round puncture hole in the Kursk hull, which was visible when it was raised." {Emphasis mine}

My first thought was to use whatever power I've gained in the blogosphere to rain down holy indignation on this newspaper. How could a paper in Connecticut -- home of the Submarine Capitol of the World, and also home to the two boats slandered -- print such irresponsible trash? Even the most retarded newspaper columnist with a dial-up internet connection could figure out in five minutes that the premise of the film is so completely out to lunch that it's not worth considering.

But then I thought some more... look, it's not the Hartford Courant, it's the Hartford Advocate, which probably has a circulation of about 10. I think it's one of those weekly papers that you pick up for free next to the house rental circulars. The author of the piece appears to write for every single "alternative" free newspaper in the state, so I'm sure he's (she's?) too busy to actually check facts. The author probably wouldn't understand concepts like "the American subs were dropping off sonar tapes to fly to the U.S." or "Mk 48 torpedos don't make neat little holes" so it'd probably be a waste of time.

But, if you don't feel like it'd be a waste of time to let them know how ridiculous they sound, they do invite feedback from readers at the bottom of the article, to: Tell 'em Bubblehead sent ya.

Important Follow-up: In my earlier post on the documentary, I mentioned that I had heard that Blind Man's Bluff co-author Sherry Sontag was apparently listed in the credits of the documentary, and I invited her to disavow any support of the film's conclusions. I got a very nice E-mail from her colleague, and the other co-author of the book, NY Times reporter Christopher Drew, who provided the following information:

"My memory is that both Sherry and I gave an interview several years ago to these French folks, who had said only that they were doing a documentary on the Kursk and on what subs had done during the Cold War. Then, as they were asking questions, it became apparent that they were chasing after some of the most ridiculous theories blaming the Kursk sinking on a collision with a US sub etc.
"I had helped write the most definitive early story in the New York Times debunking all those Russian theories, and we told the French crew that we were certain that there had not been any collision and that the Kursk had sunk because of a malfunction with its own weaponry. They clearly thought that we were just lackies for the US Navy, and we figured by the end of the interview that they would either leave us on the cutting room floor or just use us as the "to be sure" folks saying, "No, the problem was something else," which also would have been fine with us.
"I've been down in New Orleans (my hometown) for the last several weeks covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and I haven't had a chance to talk to Sherry about this. But as far as I know, this is the first we've heard about their documentary since that interview."

Thanks, Chris, for taking time out of your busy schedule to explain this... I feel bad for having fleetingly entertained even a modicum of doubt about Ms. Sontag.

Moonbat update: If you want to see how moonbats really think, check out the lunacy of this conspiracy theorist over at BlameBush...

Thanks to Citizen Smash at the Indepundit for his Morning Quarters.

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Navy Sued Over Sonar Use

The National Resources Defence Council has sued the U.S. Navy over the use of mid-frequency sonar during training exercises, alleging harm to marine mammals.

I've discussed before the problems the Navy has responding to hysterical attacks of this nature -- it's hard to prove a negative. Hopefully, though, the plantiff will have to use more than anecdotal evidence to prove their case (although the case was wisely filed in the area covered by the Ninth Circuit Court, home of the "Pledge of Allegiance" case, where illogical arguments seem to work).

Although I know I have my work cut out for me arguing against such a fine scientific mind as Pierce Brosnan (link is an mp3 file), I'll certainly try. First of all, the Navy could argue that there are several thousand instances of MF sonar each year that don't lead to marine mammal beachings, but the plantiffs could respond that the sonar simply disintegrates its victims in those cases. Likewise, there are cases of marine mammal beaching that occur nowhere near active sonar use -- this is easily countered by accusations that a Halliburton time machine/matter transmitter sends active sonar pulses back in time/across space to destroy cute dolphins.

All in all, what this lawsuit really proves is that the Navy made a big mistake settling an earlier lawsuit about LF sonar use. Now, they'll have to make a jury understand that there's a big difference in a 235 dB sonar noise level vs. 235 dB airborne noise as mentioned in the NRDC press release ("an intensity roughly comparable to a Saturn V rocket at blastoff") -- they're measured from a different reference level. [From the link: "The standard reference pressures used in underwater acoustics and in-air acoustics are not the same. In water, acousticians use a standard reference sound pressure of 1 micropascal (i.e. 10-6 newtons per square metre), abbreviated µPa. In air, acousticians use a higher standard reference sound pressure of 20 µPa. The in-air standard was chosen so that the threshold of hearing for a person with normal hearing would correspond to 0 dB at a frequency of 1000 Hz. Adopting different standards for air and water inevitably leads to a confusing consequence: the same sound pressure that acousticians label 0 decibels in air would be labelled 26 decibels in water."]

Seriously, though, I know that sonar use can cause damage to marine mammals. I also know that the Navy is taking precautions to limit the use of sonar near concentrations of dolphins and whales. The contention by the NRDC that they think they're not affecting the proficiency of our nation's warfighters by seeking to limit peacetime use of active sonar is so completely wrong on the face of it that it's laughable.

However, if you agree with the NRDC, you can express your own opinion by having them send a form letter in your name... to Gordon England, who will be Secretary of the Navy for another, oh, week or so... I expect this will be a very effective means of getting your E-mail address for fund-raising campaigns persuading our public servants to change their evil ways.

Update 1651 24 Oct: The Navy Times reports that the Navy is discussing plans for opening up a sonar training range on the East Coast.

"Oh, Shi..."

From an E-mail I got, regarding the Jimmy Carter's recent bridge trunk washdown:

"They were making a surface run in heavy weather, driving rain. Three people on the bridge, two lookouts and the OOD. Lookout turns aft and sees something beyond the rudder, which he realizes is the propulsor... definitely not normal. Turns forward to inform the OOD and sees a huge wall of water coming in, over his head, about to crest the bow. Everyone hangs on. The ship is basically submerged as this wave washes over the ship and up the sail. One of the guys told his shipmates he was thinking about unclipping his harness to float to the surface and decides to hold off, and the water drains off and they are still afloat."

I've heard reports that there was pretty heavy weather off the southern New England coast last week, and every once in a while you get a "rogue wave" like that. I'm just glad the guy didn't unclip -- the consensus among everyone I've talked to is that the best thing to do is assume that even if the boat makes an inadvertant dive, the rest of the crew will be able to drive her back to the surface, so you should stay clipped in and hold on....

Women On Subs

Looks like it's Chapomatic's turn to host the roundtable this quarter... head on over and join in the fun!

A preview from Chap's post:

"Man The Boats Correctly. If you wish to succeed, like I said before, you cannot just put onesies-twosies on the boat. That will only result in those people being “special” and either appearing to be treated special, or appearing to only be there for politics. This is not only not fair to the boats; it’s unfair to the women who take the risk of doing the job. You need not just junior enlisted but also senior enlisted, you need department-head and junior officers, and you need hard chargers who can deal with every good thing they do being treated as “only because she’s a girl”, getting harassed (sexually or otherwise, remembering that harassment is part of being a bubblehead) until the culture shifts sufficiently, and in the case of more senior folks on the boat a more vertical learning curve. Man more than one boat, but if you only have enough for including one just one, then choose the larger integration on one boat rather than spreading three at a time around the fleet. Don’t put all the women in the “special women place” where you can avoid it because there are officers and enlisted who need their space to complain about the other ranks and not given the impetus to unnecessarily fraternize, and kicking department heads out of their stateroom just isn’t going to win converts automatically."

Sounds like a good start for an interesting discussion.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

USS Philadelphia Homeward Bound

The Navy has released five pictures of USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) pulling into Souda Bay, Crete. To view the thumbnails, you can click here and type in "SSN 690" into the "Photo Search" tab in the upper left. You can also view the individual pics by clicking here, here, here, here, and here. From each image, you can then click on the hi-res versions of the pictures.

It looks like they did a pretty good job on the cosmetic repairs when they were in port in Bahrain after their collision last month; here is what she looked like then:

And here's how she looks now:

It's actually hard to see much damage. There's clearly some visible repair work that's been done to the starboard fairwater plane. I knew that the rudder had taken a beating, so I wanted to see how that looked. I blew up the "after" picture above to focus on the rudder, and here's what I got:

It looks like there's some missing paint, but I really couldn't tell much else. I'm sure they wouldn't have let her get underway, though, if the rudder wasn't fully functional.

Some interesting details can be gleaned from the pictures for non-submariners. In the "after" picture above (and here) you can see submarine linehandling in action on the bow. One sailor is throwing a "heavie" to the pier, another is wrapping the line around the cleat, and the capstan is raised. (As an aside, submarine linehandling is often very comical -- we don't do it too much, and it shows. As often as not, you end up with the "heavies" wrapped around some overhead line, or 5 or 6 Sailors scratching their heads trying to figure out how to double the lines.) Another photo shows the "shifting colors" ceremony -- as the colors are raised on the stick aft of the sail, the flag on the bridge is taken down, while all hands salute. This is done immediately after the ship is "moored" (all four lines on, but not necessarily finished being secured).

If someone smarter than me sees any visible damage remaining (for example in this picture, which shows the towed array housing) let me know.

Russia, Norway Square Off Over Trawler Incident

Following the detention of a Russian fishing trawler ("Elektron") in Norwegian-claimed fishing areas on Saturday, the Russians are sending a Udaloy-class destroyer, RNS Admiral Levchenko, on a mission to "conduct surveillance of Russia's territorial waters to prevent the unauthorized entry of foreign ships". They claim the deployment of the destroyer has nothing to do with the detention of the Elektron, and are allowing diplomatic efforts to work. Ri-ight...

You know, if this does turn into a shooting match (which I doubt), I think I'd make the Norwegians and their Ula-class submarines about a two ship favorite... (mostly because of Norway's superior maritime air arm).

Going deep...

Update 0900 19 Oct: The Russians are running for it... with two Norwegian inspectors onboard, and the Admiral Levchencko providing cover. Since the trawler has reached Russian territorial waters, it looks like the Norwegians lost this round. They did, however, stop another escorting trawler by fouling its prop with a net dropped from the air.

Carter Departs For New Homeport... Twice

(Cross-posted at the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More)

My last boat, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) is on her way to her new homeport in Bangor, Washington. (As usual, read the article quickly, since you'll need to register starting tomorrow.) [Update 2231: Longer lasting version of the article is here.] What makes this departure interesting is that they had to do it twice. According to the article:

“When they were in transit, somewhere in Long Island Sound, they took a nasty wave,” Lt. Mark Jones said. Water poured into the bridge hatch and damaged some computer equipment below, requiring that the submarine return to port, he said.
“It was essential, but an easy-to-fix piece of equipment,” Jones said. “It was an easy switch-out on the computer, and they were back to sea and on their way by Saturday.
"Carter had departed Friday for Bangor, Wash., as part of a planned change of homeport, after being commissioned last February. Bangor, which has increased security measures, has long been the homeport of the spy submarine USS Parche, which was decommissioned last year...

"...It left Groton Friday morning for its trip to Bangor, and was transiting the Sound on the surface until it reached water deep enough for it to dive.
"Two lookouts and the officer of the deck were standing watch at the top of the sail, as required when the ship is on the surface, when a huge wave swamped them, sending hundreds of gallons of water flushing down the bridge hatch at the same time.
"The Navy sources said the bridge was completely submerged by the wave, and that if the lookouts and the officer of the deck had not been clipped in because of the foul weather they could have been washed overboard."

The article goes on to mention that this is very similar to the scenario that caused the fire on HMCS Chicoutimi last year. Of course, taking water down the bridge hatch is a fairly common phenomenon on submarines, so most of the equipment that can be doused is fairly protected. I'm assuming that with the Carter, since she's a unique configuration, they moved some of the equipment around, so probably something that wasn't quite as "hardened" ended up in the path of the water as it bounced out of the "bear trap" (the area beneath the bridge access trunk designed to collect the water that comes down). Note that on Seawolf class boats, the main Control room is not on the top deck, so the bridge is accessed from the deck above Control -- and is a little more forward than other boats, just forward of the Combat System Electronics Space -- which has lots of nice juicy electronics. Also, the "boot" in front of the sail tends to worsen the effect of some waves coming in from certain angles, IMHO. I used to assign myself the surface watches coming in to Groton all the time on Connecticut, and I got plenty wet.

The article also mentions that the boat was in the yard for work on her hydraulic system just prior to her departure. This also doesn't surprise me; as you might guess, the extra 100 foot section has quite a bit of extra hydraulics that isn't present on the first two boats of the class. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that they had to do a little re-design work to make the system as robust as it needed to be.

There are few things more embarassing for a boat than to have to limp back into port after leaving for a long deployment (or, in this case, COHP). On my deployment on the good ship Topeka in 1992, we had something similar happen. Got underway on 03 Aug 1992 with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding such an event, and dived the boat. When we came back up to PD that evening, we started hearing this loud banging noise from the bridge. It turned out that the fairing for our radar mast had come loose on one side, and needed to be replaced. So, we contacted the base, got new orders, turned around, and headed back in. (Luckily, our sister ship USS Pasadena (SSN 752) was in port at the time, so we were able to cannibalize the fairing from her.)

Of more interest was what happened ashore. The squadron called the CO's wife and the ombudsman, letting them know that the boat was coming back in, but it would only be for a few hours, and the wives shouldn't bother to come down to the base. The word went out over the wive's phone tree, and by the time this was passed around, the wives understood that they were all to meet at the McDonald's on base with the Commodore, who was going to brief them on what was going wrong with the ship. Needless to say, there were dozens of anxious wives on the pier when we arrived. The XO eventually relented and let the guys whose wives had come go up and talk to them. We then got back underway that afternoon and rushed to catch up with the Battle Group.

Break... new topic. I mentioned earlier that the word on the street was that the author of this article, Robert Hamilton, was going to be leaving The Day and going to work for EB. Today's paper confirms this. We'll miss your straight-shooting reporting and submarine knowledge, Bob.

Going deep...

Idiotic French Documentary on RNS Kursk

I few months ago, I mentioned the ridiculous documentary that had come out about a crackpot theory that the USS Memphis was responsible for the sinking of the Kursk. The terms "asshat" and "nutjob" were both used in my posts on the subject.

This documentary ("Kursk: A Submarine In Troubled Waters") was so outlandish that even the BBC refused to air it. The Sundance Channel had no such qualms, though, and it premiered there last night. I didn't get a chance to see it, but I'll watch it next week. I'll mock and belittle the film more when I actually see it, but here's a preview of what I'll say: Mk 48s don't make a small hole in a ship's hull -- it's Mk 50s, not carried by subs, that supposedly do that. The Memphis stopped in the Norwegian port not to get "repaired" from the collision, but to drop off the sonar tapes of the sinking so they could be flown to the U.S. And, last but not least, you couldn't keep a secret like this, even in the sub community.

One person from Rontini's BBS did watch it, and noticed one item that really troubles me. He says that Sherry Sontag, one of the co-authors of Blind Man's Bluff, is listed in the credits. She seems like a very smart person, and I would hope that she didn't have anything to do with the film other than to tell the filmmakers to get lost if they contacted her (maybe you have to put someone in the credits if you contact them at all). If this report turns out to be true, I hope that those who read this blog, and know Ms. Sontag, might convince her to publicly dissociate herself from the film's theories. A quick Google search didn't turn up any evidence that she has said anything yet (although of course, if she didn't help with the film, I wouldn't have expected her to say anything).

Submariners Have A Baseball Team

The AA baseball team in Norwich, CT, formerly called the Norwich Navigators, are changing their name to the Connecticut Defenders. The team logo has a black baseball bat that looks like a submarine.

The Navigator's organization was always really good about doing things for the boats, and I assume that it will now get even better. The stadium's about 15 miles north of the Sub Base, so it's a quick trip up for most people in the Groton area. Hopefully they'll do well with their new name. Plus, they're not the Yankee's farm club anymore (they're now affiliated with the Giants) so that's an even better reason to support them.

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Big Red Sub Club

Few boats have a closer relationship with their namesake than the USS Nebraska (SSBN-739). In most cases when a boat is commissioned, the area where the sub is named for will form a "commissioning committee", which helps fund the crew party for the commissioning ceremony. On USS Connecticut (SSN-22) the local committee was very organized, and we ended up getting basically the best crew parties in history -- they commissioned a song for us, we had our own license plate, and even our own GI Joe doll collectible figure. (The two casinos in the area competed to do the most for us... it was pretty sweet.) Of course, being built in the namesake state helped -- our T-shirt and ballcap sales were phenomenal, and we didn't even have to end up spending any of the $50K+ we had in the bank because of the corporate sponsorship of the parties. They had so much money left over that they created a perpetual scholarship for crewmembers and their dependents.

In most cases, when a submarine is commissioned, though, the relationship between the boat and the namesake suffers. Not so much for the USS Nebraska. The commissioning committee morphed into the Big Red Sub Club, and they do a lot for the men on the boat. They visit the boat frequently, and even send them fruitcake every year. It'd be nice if all boats could have a relationship that is as strong...

I'm Gettin' A Raise

Looks like they came out with the announcement for the Retiree Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) for next year, and it'll be big: 4.1%, which is a full percentage point higher than the raise the active duty personnel are getting. (It looks like the big recent jump in gas prices is what caused the disconnect.) I guess I'm still recently enough on active duty that I don't really see how that's fair -- give me a couple years, though, and I'll probably be complaining about those young whippersnappers taking my money, and my parking spot on the base, all those damn tattooed hooligans, with their "rap" music and butt-cracks showing! Back when I was in the service, we didn't have all this fancy stuff...

Hey, I think I'll be pretty good at that. I'm already working on growing out my ear hair...

Going deep...

Must... Not... Mention... Chappaquiddick

Presented without comment -- a story about Senator Kennedy attempting to rescue someone from a watery tragedy:

"U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy attempted to rescue six men who had become trapped by high tide on a jetty off Hyannisport on Sunday.
"The Massachusetts Democrat eventually left the rescue to Hyannis firefighters...
"...Kennedy was walking his two dogs on the shore at 11:15 a.m. when he spotted the men cut off from shore by the rising waters. They had been fishing on a jetty that begins at the tip of the Kennedy compound.
"Tides had risen over the patchy rocks, which made it difficult to walk back to shore. Kennedy and a friend tried to rescue the men using a 13-foot boat but rough waters forced them back."

I will say this for Senator Kennedy -- he has a good last name. It does seem like liberals are having all sorts of problems driving boats lately, though...

Going deep...

Sub Force Commanders Meet At PG School

It appears that all the Submarine Force bigwigs met with the CNO late last month in Monterey at the Naval Post-Graduate School (normally called "NPS", but that stands for Nuclear Power School for us nukes, so we call it "PG school") for a "submarine flag officer's training symposium":

"The specter of a war with China over Taiwan was one of several global security issues that drew U.S. submarine officers from around the world to a top-secret meeting at the Naval Postgraduate School this month.
"The fact that more than two dozen Navy leaders met under the highest security in Monterey puts the Navy school on the front line of a developing Cold War-type scenario in the Pacific. In recent months, military exercises there have been marked by tense diplomacy and saber-rattling between the U.S. and China.
"Under security conditions that one Pentagon insider described as "impenetrable," Chief of Naval Operations Mike Mullen was quietly whisked in and out of town Sept. 28 and Sept. 29 to address the admirals on undisclosed military and security topics, said Mullen's spokesman, Cmdr. John Kirby. He said Mullen, the Navy's top officer, was invited by the admirals. During his quick trip to the Peninsula, Mullen visited Fleet Numerical Laboratories.
"Kirby said he could not comment on whether Mullen discussed China and the Pacific with the submarine commanders, but he said Mullen talked about the future direction of the Navy and "the crucial role of the submarine forces." In 2006, the Navy plans to rapidly develop its anti-submarine warfare technology, according to a report released Friday by Mullen."

I'm glad they're discussing this. While I've said before that I don't think war with China is inevitable, or even likely, it's good to have plans in place to counteract your potential adversary's capabilities, not their probable actions. The water around the Taiwan Straits is a very challenging ASW environment (or so I've heard) so any high-level planning for operations in this potential war zone is a good thing.

The article is fairly good (although a little simplistic -- not sure if the author is not too familiar with subs, or is just writing to an audience who isn't), and it has some decent background information, so it's worth a read.

The same writer also had an article on a topic that Eagle1 normally blogs about: Piracy in the Malacca Straits. I went over to his blog to see if he'd commented about it already, but instead, I found that he'd posted about the same thing I did. Even used the same excerpt from the article as I have above... darn lawyers!

Going deep...

Bell ringer 1024 17 Oct: Eagle1 now has his Malacca Straits piracy post up.

Lottery Dreams

As a submariner, I'm normally a fairly logical guy. That's why I'm so excited about the PowerBall lottery now. Yes, I know that the odds against winning are 1 in 146 million, but... since the payout is more than $146M, it means it's a good investment! Better odds than you'll ever get in Vegas! I'm sure to win! Time to cash in the kid's college funds to buy tickets!

OK, it's not that bad in the Bubblehead household. I recognize that the odds of winning are the same as -- well, this. Take a normal six-sided die, and roll it once. If it's even, you go on; odd, you lost already. Now, roll that same number 10 more times in a row. You have better odds of doing that than winning with a single lottery ticket.

Still, it's worth the $3 or whatever to dream about what you'll do if you win. SubBasket and I decided we'd buy a house in Point Loma... here's what we found. Nice and convenient to the Sub Base, too. Since it has a boat dock, we'd probably have to get a boat, as well...

One thing's for sure... if I win, I'm getting a huge plasma screen TV with an installed GPS unit. Why? Because I'd be rich, dammit!

It's nice to dream...