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.)

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Russian Submarine Modernization Plans

The Russian CNO said today that they planned on eventually having a submarine fleet with four basic types of subs: an SSBN (the Borey class, already under construction), an SSGN (apparently a follow-on to the Oscar class), an SS (the Lada class), and, although the article doesn't mention it, probably a new class of SSN (maybe they'll start work on Project 885 again?). Expect a lot of talk from the Russians about their plans to modernize their subs during this 100th anniversary year of the Russian sub force, then expect not much to happen in actual nuclear submarine construction -- other that the Boreys. And if they stop working on those as well, no one will be sorry.

Late Addition To SOTU Drinking Games

In addition to any other "drinking game" rules you plan on following for tonight's State of the Union address, here's a late-breaking news item that should cause you to modify the rules:

"Cindy Sheehan said she will be part of the live audience during the president's State of the Union speech to congress Tuesday.
"Bay Area Congresswoman Lynn Woosley gave anti-war activist a gallery pass late Tuesday, just hours before the planned State of the Union speech. Sheehan was in Washington to protest the president during his national address, but then came word she was invited to see the speech live.
"A spokesman for Sheehan says she decided to accept the invitation two hours prior to the speech. The spokesman also said that Sheehan will be respectful and listen to the address because she is a guest of a member of congress."

So, everytime Mother Sheehan is shown while President Bush is discussing military issues, take one drink. If she's shown while the President is honoring our fallen heroes, throw the bottle at the TV...

Update 2231 31 Jan: Looks like she didn't even last until the beginning of the speech. I should have included "pop open the champagne if she gets arrested". And for those of you (like me) who didn't see the speech -- I was at a high school wrestling match -- here's the transcript.

While I Was Playing Flash Games...

...other sub-bloggers were out finding interesting content. Chapomatic found another submariner on the 'net (who has a post about the German U-212 class boats), and also links to a post over at One Hand Clapping discussing how tactics learned in the Battle of the Atlantic might help us win the GWOT (or, more specifically, how the method of learning the new tactics can help).

Also, the Sub Report reminds me that I have to search photos for more than "SSN" over at the Navy NewsStand; a search for "SSGN" gives us four new pictures of USS Ohio (SSGN 726) during a media availability: here, here, here, and here. (And on a completely snarky note, I think the person they have normally writing captions is on leave this week, to wit: "Media were transported to Ohio to see the new capabilities that the submarine now brings to the joint warfighter".)

I did find this picture of a boomer and a Coast Guard helicopter all on my own.

And, on a non-sub topic, Rob reports on a campaign blog for a Democratic Congressional candidate from Minnesota that went off the deep end. I'd love to be able to find stuff like that in Idaho, but the campaign blog for the Democrat here is run by a professional who understands how to run a good blog -- which leaves me going to the Republican campaign websites for my mocking and belittling fixes.

Going deep...

Update 2258 31 Jan: Here's a story from the Tacoma News Tribune about the media underway on USS Ohio that generated the pictures mentioned above.

Monday, January 30, 2006

Bubblehead -- Flash Game Daredevil

Retired Geezer -- read it and weep:

51.453 seconds -- put that on my review! (Actually, I figured out that it's just a pattern game after a while -- down, then up to the upper left corner for 10 seconds, then...)

Update 2344: OK, I gotta admit it -- my son was the one who came up with the pattern. The best I got without his coaching was a little over 22 seconds.

The Bush Corollary

Tomorrow night's State of the Union address will apparently focus on energy policy. That's fine... it's an important issue. I just don't think it's the most important issue facing the country today, and I hope the President will focus a lot of attention on how we plan to prosecute the Global War on Terror. While I know that he won't be able, for political and diplomatic reasons, to speak about certain things, here's what I'd like to see him say about the war:

Tonight, the State of our Union is "divided". Divided between "left" and "right", "limited government" and "big government", or "security" and "privacy". In my opinion, though, the most important divide is between those who believe that we are in the middle of a war, and those who believe we aren't.
There are those who say that "you can't fight a war against a tactic" -- that we should treat it as a "law enforcement" problem. I disagree. This is a war not against a tactic, but against a group of people who continue to seek unrelenting war against the West and all we stand for. As long as one side believes that a war exists, then it does, and no amount of wishing that people wouldn't attack us if we would just be nice to them will change the realities of today's world.
We've made mistakes in the war to date. We failed to understand the Arab mindset when we went into Iraq, and assumed that they would know that we sought only to help them establish a demcracy. We've learned our lessons from that, and the next time we have to fight an Islamic nation -- and we will -- we'll be better prepared to deal with the unknowns. Just as we didn't give up fighting the Japanese in WWII after the tactics we used at Tarawa were found to need improvement, we won't give up now. We must give the Iraqis the best chance possible to salvage a democratic society, but eventually we'll leave... hopefully on good terms with their government. The important thing is that we learn from our mistakes, and do better the next time.
This isn't a war against simply "terror"; it's a war against those who seek to dominate this vital area of the world in order to increase their own power, and destroy Western civilization. We cannot allow these people to succeed -- the stakes are too high. In 1980, President Jimmy Carter stood where I stand tonight, and announced what is known as the "Carter Doctrine". Here's what he said:
'Let our position be absolutely clear: An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.'
This doctrine has been re-affirmed by every President since then. Tonight, I would like to add a small caveat to this statement; henceforth, it shall be the position of the United States that 'any attempt by any force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region through violence will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force.'
Only three words separate our new policy from that outlined by President Carter, and the spirit of the statement remains the same -- we will not allow either an outside force, or those who seek to re-establish the Caliphate, to gain control of the Middle East. We stopped Osama Bin Laden, we stopped Saddam Hussein, and we must have the determination to stop the next would-be tyrant.

You won't hear this tomorrow night... but hopefully our leaders know that this is the direction we, as a nation, need to steer.

Judicial Activism For Submariners

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] Back in February 1998, USS La Jolla (SSN 701) collided with and sank a fishing boat off the coast of South Korea. Since I've seen the reports, I can't comment about what a cluster the whole operation was, but I can discuss the continuing legal efforts by one of the ship's officers at the time to clear his name. From the article:

"A Navy officer faulted in the collision of a U.S. submarine and a South Korean fishing vessel in 1998 has won the right to take his fight to clear his name back to federal court.
"The U.S. Court of Appeals on Friday said a federal judge could not prevent Cmdr. Charles H. Piersall III from trying to void a nonjudicial punishment against him, according to court records...

"...He then went to the Board of Correction for Naval Records, claiming that he had the right to reject the mast’s findings because the proceedings were held on dry land, not aboard the USS La Jolla, said Eugene Fidell, a military law expert who represented Piersall.
"When the correction board rejected Piersall’s claim, he pursued the matter in federal court.
But the judge tossed the suit. The Navy secretary had argued that Piersall lost the right to pursue the matter in federal court when he failed to request a court-martial before the mast, records say.
"The Navy secretary also claimed that civilian courts are prohibited from interfering with the military justice system, but the U.S. Court of Appeals found otherwise and overturned the district court’s ruling."

I'm not really sure that CDR Piersall has much of a leg to stand on, notwithstanding this procedural victory. (As I read it, the Court of Appeals ruling only had to do with plantiff's ability to pursue the case, and not on the merits of the case itself.)

Article 15 of the UCMJ covers administrative, "non-judicial punishment". This is how the military disposes of cases short of court martial. Normally, service members can request court martial (where rules of evidence apply, but the potential punishment is much greater) except in one important case:

"...However, except in the case of a member attached to or embarked in a vessel, punishment may not be imposed upon any member of the armed forces under this article if the member has, before the imposition of such punishment, demanded trial by court-martial in lieu of such punishment."

He didn't demand a trial by court martial, and the Navy wouldn't have had to give him one, due to the portion of Article 15 quoted above. His main argument seems to be that the NJP was held ashore, rather than on his ship. I've always been taught that the caveat was intended to allow a ship's CO to dispose of a case quickly, without a need for lawyers, when the ship was deployed and no lawyers were available. Nowadays, it's really only submarines that would not be able to get the people needed for a court martial onboard within a reasonable amount of time if needed; nevertheless, the caveat still exists. Since the UCMJ doesn't require the mast be held on the ship where the offense was committed, my guess is that the case will be laughed out of course.

On the other hand, if CDR Piersall ends up winning his case, just about every officer who's been taken to Admiral's Mast in the last several years would be able to contest their cases...

Going deep...

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Victory For SPUD-LIB!

Victory! Apparently impressed by the heartfelt plea from the smaller Idaho bloggers, or afraid of the backlash that might be caused by our threat to bring in the heavy artillery, Idaho's Blogmaster Clayton Cramer has agreed to permalink other Idaho blogs:

"...Ordinarily, members of the blogospheric nobility do not deign to pay attention to the blogosphere's rabble, but since there are actually bloggers who envy my pitiful readership, I suppose that it is time to show our magnanimous spirit, and add some Idaho bloggers to our blogroll..."

He's already added three blogs (including TSSBP), and implies that he might add more; other Idaho bloggers who desire this honor should probably E-mail him (make sure you follow his procedures exactly, though). Of course, if your political philosophy is left-of-center, you might have to put up with a permalink that includes some editorial comment... (Scroll down on the left side of his home page for some examples.)

With victory in my our grasp, I hereby close out my participation in the movement that was the Seditiously Proud Union of Deficiently-Linked Idaho Blogs (SPUD-LIB). I'm getting out, not because I don't want to risk saying something that would make Clayton pull my new permalink, but because I truly believe that Clayton Cramer is, quite possibly, the bestest blogger in the whole Mountain West.

Going deep...

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Blog Idaho: Gun Safety ~ Hang Onto the Darn Thing

Blog Idaho: Gun Safety ~ Hang Onto the Darn Thing

Explanation: This is just a test of the "Link This" option that Blogger has... you should click the link, though, 'cause it's hilarious...

SPUD-LIB: An Open Letter To Frank J. And Instapundit

The SPUD-LIB initiative is off to a roaring start, with several Idaho bloggers joining me in standing up to the hegemonistic oppression of Idaho überblogger Clayton Cramer and his defiant non-linkingness. While we know that united we can never be defeated, I've decided to call in some "heavy artillery" to force Clayton to acknowledge the rightness of our cause! To this end, I'm posting this "open letter" to blogospheric celebrities Frank J. of IMAO (who's really smart) and Glenn Reynolds of Instapundit, in the hopes that they can use their influence to help the Seditiously Proud Union of Deficiently-Linked Idaho Blogs:

"Frank J. -- Since before I was blogging, I followed with interest your fight for permalinks from that dastardly villain of blogdom, Glenn Reynolds. The skill and determination you used in fighting for permalinks from bigger bloggers serves as a role model to the small bloggers of Idaho. Your magnificent marshalling of the brave fighters of the Alliance of Free Blogs was a thing of beauty... nay, of such extraordinary grace and precision-guided humor that it will never see an equal. I'm asking you to lend your support to our efforts to demand permalinks for smaller Idaho blogs from the current "top dog" of the Idaho blogworld: Clayton Cramer. Having visited Idaho yourself, I know that you care deeply about the state of blogging in the Gem State. Thanks for your time."

"Glenn Reynolds -- You have always been my favorite blogger. I watched with admiration as you fought off the attacks of malcontent "Frnak J." and his shoddy alliance in their unrighteous demand for undeserved permalinks. To show my allegiance to you, I personally invented the name "Alliance of Flea Blogs" to describe your detractors. Please note that I did this solely because of my support for the rightness of your cause, and not because of those two times you linked to me. Now, though, I ask a favor. While the Alliance was asking for undeserved links, we small Idaho bloggers are most assuredly deserving of links from Idaho blogmaster Clayton Cramer -- we deserve them because we asked really nicely, and never claimed that he blended puppies or murdered hobos.
Seeing as how you permalink Clayton (and no other Idaho bloggers) I perceive that an endorsement from you of our group's goals would go a long way to convincing Cramer to see the light and provide our group the permalinks we so richly deserve. Thanks for your time."

Now we'll sit back and enjoy the show as Clayton sees the kind of blogospheric rhetoric we can bring down...

Secret message to some Idaho bloggers who have expressed doubts about this initiative: It's-ay upposed-say oo-tay ee-bay ah-ay oke-jay, and-ay ot-nay oo-tay ee-bay aken-tay eriously-say.

Update 2154 28 Jan: Here's another example of the important information more people could be getting if Clayton Cramer would link to other Idaho bloggers...

Sad News From Guam

The Pacific Daily News reports that a young Sailor from USS City of Corpus Christi (SSN 705) died in a car accident yesterday morning:

"A 20-year-old Navy sailor became the island's first traffic fatality this year when he lost control of the green Mazda Millennia he was driving near Polaris Point in Piti early yesterday morning.
"The man's name is being withheld until his family is notified, but police spokesman Sgt. Joseph Carbullido confirmed the man was a sailor serving aboard the submarine USS City of Corpus Christi."

All submariners send their thoughts and prayers to the family and shipmates of our brother. Sailor, rest your oar...

Don't Play This Game...

... if you have somewhere to go in the next half hour or so. Via Rontini's BBS, I found this simple-looking Flash game that's incredibly addictive. I barely made it to 20 seconds after several dozen attempts...

Joe Buff Speaks The Truth

Joe Buff has a great rebuttal to the policy wonks at the Center for American Progress, who recommend cancelling the Virginia program in their "Alternate QDR":

"First of all, folks, CAP seems to have mixed up the Virginia-class (up to 30 are planned) with the previous, truncated Seawolf-class (3 were built) -- which is a pretty egregious boo-boo to make in any purported QDR, alternative or otherwise. The Seawolfs were conceived at the height of the Cold War, to maintain undersea superiority against the Kremlin's submarine fleet. The Virginias were conceived of, designed, and entered construction entirely in a post-Cold War environment. They are specifically optimized for littoral warfare -- in shallow waters or near shore."

He gets better from there. Read the whole thing...

Friday, January 27, 2006

Catblogging Time Again!

Unfortunately, we haven't gotten any new pictures of Hercules molesting a blanket in the last couple of weeks, so we'll have to go with a more conventional photo -- Hercules sleeping by our youngest son on the couch:

What a good kitty...

German Submarine Down?

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] I'm not sure how much stock to put in this single-source report that the German Type 206A submarine U-15 is stuck on the seafloor with a crew of 22:

"The German Navy 206A class submarine U-15 has taken the ground in the Eckernfoerde bay, the Baltic Sea, RIA Novosti reports. U-15 got into trouble in obscured conditions, roughly 150 meters to the southern edge of the bay, when getting back to the military base in submerged mode.
"No one of the crew’s 22 sailors has suffered in the accident, according to the preliminary data.

"Emergency services of the German submarine base are getting ready to rescue the vessel.The German Navy has twelve 206-206A class submarines. No longer than 48.6 meters and with displacement of around 500 tons, U-15 is the smallest of all combat submarines, which are in the operational service. Another peculiarity is the capacity to run in the shallow water, just 20 meters would be enough for it."

This report comes from a Russian online paper; it says the reports come from the Russian news agency RIA, but their website doesn't have anything as of 0700 MST.

Anyway, in case the story is true, here's some background info on U-15 from the German Navy website, and here's the website of the International Submarine Escape and Rescue Liaison Office, which would coordinate any international response. The location of the reported bottoming is a bay near Kiel in the Baltic; here's a small map showing the depth contours:

As always, if this turns out to be for real, you can expect the best updates and analysis over at our group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More.

Staying at PD...

Update 1740 27 Jan: Alex at The Noonz Wire has been following the story all day, and reports that the submarine was freed after six hours. From a translation of a German report:

"A German submarine on a training exercise ran aground in the Eckernfoerd Bay. None of the 22-man crew were injured as the U-15 waited to be freed. The incident, in the Baltic Sea, lasted six hours until the submarine was refloated.
"An initial inspection indicated the boat was undamaged. However, divers performed a standard inspection [literally, "examined the averages"] Friday morning.
"The surfaced and moving submarine was near Aschau at dawn, about 150 meters from the shore of the Baltic Sea. The cause of the accident is still unknown. A Navy spokesman said it will be investigated to determine whether human error or a technical defect was involved.The Navy said a submarine of an older design was involved. It is about 50 meters long and displaces 500 tons. The U-15 returned to Eckenfeord Bay in December from a six month anti-terrorist deployment in the Mediterranean."

The "ran aground" part makes a lot more sense than the initial report, which indicated that the sub had been operating in "submerged mode" only 150 meters from shore. I know the Norwegians do it in their deep-water fjords, and the Type 206A's are pretty small, but that would have been pretty ballsy to be submerged so shallow...

"A New Dimension In The Expansion Of Militarism"

Don't really have time to give this article the working over it deserves, but I would be completely derelict in my duties if I didn't share the piece I found (via The Sub Report) about the concerns of a Washington community that's about to be invaded by big bad submarines.

Port Townsend, Washington, is very close to Indian Island, the home of a Naval Magazine that will apparently be used to service (and load) the Tomahawk missiles that will be carried on the two SSGNs that will be homeported out of Bangor.

The local peace groups don't like this plan at all:

“The impending arrival of nuclear-powered submarines in our immediate neighborhood demonstrates a new dimension in the expansion of militarism here,” said Darlene Durfee, Port Townsend Peace Movement president. “Nuclear-powered vessels of unimaginable destructive capability will be right in our midst. With or without nuclear weapons onboard, Trident submarines escalate the risk by their presence. They will be traveling in a relatively narrow bay filled with recreational boaters, ferries and an expanded ferry dock.” (Durfee refers to Washington State Ferries’ plans to enlarge the terminal in Port Townsend, across the bay from Indian Island, and someday have larger ferries on the PT-Keystone route.)
"The group intends to have some members attend the chamber meeting to hear Capt. Kurtz speak, and hopefully get an opportunity for questions. The peace movement wants to make a statement outside the Fort Worden Commons for the noon meeting.
"Durfee would like to have “a large group of people dressed in black or wearing black arm bands standing outside in silence. A substantial number of people standing in silence will be the loudest and most effective form of protest we can offer,” she continued. “It will be a message to the Navy that this is a community that will speak up. We will also have leaflets to explain our position to the business community.”

Here's the website of the "Port Townsend Peace Movement". Aren't they cute? They even have an Earthball! I'm glad they were able to pull themselves away from their "Deepening Meetings" (A "Deeper" look at our Feelings) to engage in such timely dissent. Never mind the fact that Tridents which we can neither confirm nor deny were carrying nuclear weapons have been sailing back and forth within a few miles of Port Townsend for the last 25 years...

Going deep...

The SPUD-LIB Manifesto

It's tough being an Idaho blogger; bloggers from more "culturally relevant" states sometimes shrink from linking to us because of the perceived "backwardness" of Idaho in the great bloggy scheme of things. "What do they use as a web server -- a potato?" they'll chortle as they ruthlessly fail to give us the trackbacks we would otherwise deserve.

I've been thinking about what might be behind this unfair withholding of links, and I've come up with the reason: Clayton Cramer. Clayton, for those scarce few not familiar with his work, is the public face of Idaho blogging to the rest of the world. With permalinks from Instapundit, Michelle Malkin, and Vodkapundit, (and with better than 3x the daily visits I get), he gathers in all the links (and concomitant traffic) that might otherwise go to the smaller Idaho blogs, all while failing to have a little section of permalinks dedicated to his humble Gem State compatriots.

Is this all he does? Ladies and Gentlemen, if only I could tell you that were the case! As the public face of Idaho blogging, I propose that he be held to a higher standard! Sure, he has insightful commentary about important social issues, but does this serve the cause of other Idaho bloggers? Not even close! After in-depth research of the last few weeks of his entries, I have compiled this list of alarming deficiencies in Clayton's blog:

1) Demostrated Unawareness of Cultural References: In this post, Cramer showed that he didn't even know that Jerry Seinfeld had dated a 17 year old girl in real life, as follows:

"Still, I was amazed and amused by how Rowe defends a 33 year old having sex with a 17 year old:
'I don't agree that most people would find a 17-year-old female/33 year-old-male too disturbing. Not meaning to invoke a "reductio-ad-Seinfeldium," but remember Jerry Seinfeld "dated" Shoshana Lonstein when she was 17. It's frightening to think that if they traveled to Oregon, Seinfeld would have been a "child rapist."

"Earth to Jonathan Rowe: Seinfield is not a documentary. (From the episodes that I have seen, I am not even persuaded that Seinfeld is a comedy.)"

Dude, that's weak. If you're going to use an "Earth to…" putdown, you've got to make sure you've got your facts right. While he does correct himself later, this gaffe could leave out-of-state visitors thinking, "Man, those Idaho bloggers aren't very hip. I'll make sure not to visit any others."

2) "Ho-hum" Millionth Hit Post: One sentence. Blog Idaho gave stuff away for his 50,000th visit. I used the term "punished asshat" in my three paragraph post about my 100,000th visit. And not once did he thank the Idaho bloggers who provided him with some of his traffic, without which he might have had to wait several more minutes until he reached the milestone.

3) Paranoia: He claims that "liberal" Idaho bloggers begrudge him his traffic. While I can't find any examples of this (other than this tongue-in-cheek post from me, and I'm assuredly not "liberal"), I don't doubt that it's true. Still, why not at least give the offending blog a quick link? It's a blog tradition!

4) No Pictures of Humorous Animals: I saw neither photos of an ugly dog, nor a blanket-molesting cat, as freely provided by other Idaho-based blogs. Blogs to not live by useful thoughts and information alone, Clayton!

5) Unnecessarily Confusing E-mail Procedure: If you want to write to Cramer, here's his procedure:
"Email me at [address]. Sorry to be so indirect, but all spambots must die! But they haven't died yet! Include the word spamIamnot in your subject line to make sure that my spam blocker lets you through."
Actually, I think I'm buying into his philosophy. So, if you want to write me, you'll have to include the word "greeneggsandham" somewhere in the body of your E-mail, and prior to hitting "send", click your heels together three times while chanting "There's no place like Pocatello."

6) He's Probably A Copycat: Look at his blog -- uninspired title (consisting mostly of his alliterative name), no comments, serious subject matter -- he's clearly copying Michelle Malkin. Sure, so maybe he's been around longer than her… that's no excuse! He's not nearly as attractive as Michelle, so he gets no free pass from me on this matter.

What can we, the small Idaho bloggers, do about this hegemonistic behemoth who even now is sucking up all the Idaho-bound blog traffic? I suggest we unite to "fight the power"! I propose we form an Ida-blogger alliance: the "Seditiously Proud Union of Deficiently-Linked Idaho Blogs" (SPUD-LIB). I hereby invite the writers of Blog Idaho, Red State Rebels, girlfriday, and any other ldaho bloggers** to join me in demanding permalinks from Clayton Cramer. Separate, we've been ignored. Together, we'll probably still be ignored. But at least we'll be trying to improve our lot -- no more must we be consigned to live in "Our Own Private Idaho".

**Actually, I'm not bothering to include 43rd State Blues in this crusade. While I'm sure that they're much too busy alerting the world to the dangers of Chimpy McSmirk using Halliburton to appoint Scalito to monitor the Peak Oil situation to participate in whimsical activities such as this, I can't bring myself to associate with them until they publicly denounce Binkyboy...

Update 2313 27 Jan: Julie over at Red State Rebels in on board with the SPUD-LIB initiative. She speaks truth to power with the best of them, but seems to be rather idealistic, treating blogging as a way to share her interests with the community, rather than as a means of gaining promotions within the TTLB ecosystem. To each his or her own, I guess...

Also, for those interested, here's a history of a previous effort of this type, on a national level. You'll see that these blog-patriots were just as dedicated and serious as I am about this. (Just ignore the part about it being an "exercise in satire"... I think the Link-Withholders hacked their site and put that in there.)

Update 1012 28 January: Tara at The Political Game weighs in with her "support" of SPUD-LIB. She does note that it seems kind of absurd for me to mention the idealism of Julie, above, as well as the apparent incongruity of my demand that 43rd State Blues denounce Binkyboy. I honestly had not realized that, in a post about a "D-list" blogger from Idaho demanding links from a "B-list" blogger from Idaho -- containing complaints that said blogger doesn't post humorous animal pictures -- I would allow absurd statements to slip in. I honestly had no idea. I hope this doesn't distract my Ida-blogger compatriots from our true mission -- links from CC now!

Thursday, January 26, 2006

It's Been Four Years Since The Last One

No, I'm not talking about mid-term elections -- it's time for the newest Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) to come out! While the actual draft won't be out until next month, advance copies have leaked out, so some people are talking about the general thrust of the document. Navy-wise, it looks like the Pentagon is (correctly, in my opinion) planning on continuing a shift of Navy assets to the Pacific. (As I've said before, really the only two places in the world where a naval war that we don't start are likely to happen are Korea and Taiwan.)

Regarding submarines, it looks like the Navy is once again calling for new submarine construction rate to be pushed up to two boats per year -- after the next QDR cycle:

"... it calls for doubling procurement of submarines-from one per year to two-by 2012 and reducing costs to $2 billion per sub. The Navy has long sought to increase submarine production and cut costs, only to see costs soar and production plans postponed."

Excuse me if I don't hold my breath. Looking back, the 1997 QDR called for moving sub construction up to 2 units per year by FY2005. From this 67 page Adobe CRS report (on page 12, for those interested) we learn that the Five Year Defense plan submitted in Feb 2003 pushed the beginning of the "2 boat per year buy" back to FY2007; the one submitted in Feb 2004 pushed that date back to FY2009. Now, in 2006, they're pushing it back to FY2012. You can kind of see where the trend is heading...

I'll discuss the plans more when the actual QDR comes out, but Lubber's Line at Hundreds of Fathoms has much more right now.

Staying at PD...

Because I Worked At CENTCOM...

...I can't comment on the reports that have been coming out about "what happened to Iraq's WMDs", but Ida-blogger extraodinaire Clayton Cramer can:

"The man who served as the no. 2 official in Saddam Hussein's air force says Iraq moved weapons of mass destruction into Syria before the war by loading the weapons into civilian aircraft in which the passenger seats were removed..."

You can also read more over at Michelle Malkin's blog.

Unrelated post-script: That's the second time in two day's I've linked to Clayton. If only there was some way I could get him to notice me...

Well... This Was Unexpected

It seems that the terrorist group Hamas has won an outright majority of the seats in the new Palestinian Parliament:

"The Fatah officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said they expected Hamas to win about 70 seats, which would give the Islamists a majority in the 132-seat parliament. They spoke on condition of anonymity because counting in some districts was continuing."

The last sentence in this article is one of those "duh" statements you've heard so much about:

"A victory by Hamas, which is committed to Israel's destruction, would likely jeopardize future Mideast peace moves."

D'ja think?

Adventures In Poll-Reading

Idaho überblogger Clayton Cramer posts about a monthly tracking poll taken by FoxNews earlier this month; specifically, he looks at the results for questions asking about warrantless wiretapping. These results are as follows:

30. Do you think the president should or should not have the power to authorize the National Security Agency to monitor electronic communications of suspected terrorists without getting warrants, even if one end of the communication is in the United States?
Should Should not (Not sure)
10-11 Jan 06 58% 36 6
Democrats 42% 53 5
Republicans 78% 16 5
Independents 57% 35 8

31. In an effort to identify terrorist activity, do you think the president should or should not have the power to authorize the National Security Agency to do computer searches of large numbers of international phone calls coming in and out of the United States without getting warrants?
Should Should not (Not sure)
10-11 Jan 06 60% 34 7
Democrats 42% 50 8
Republicans 80% 15 5
Independents 59% 34 7

To me, these results aren't very surprising -- by about a 3:2 margin, the public recognizes that the exigencies of war require some common sense in fighting it -- even if it means giving up some "rights" that don't really effect most people anyway. (Not too many people are making overseas calls, and, if you're like me, anyone listening in on my calls would be bored stiff.)

Other polls have shown about the same level of support -- maybe. It really depends on how you ask the question. For example, many on the left have been trumpting the results of a Zogby poll in which 52% of respondents said that Congress should consider impeaching President Bush if it turns out that he wiretapped American citizens without the approval of a judge. Notice the word "consider". So what do the headlines say? "More Americans favor impeaching Bush". If you believe both polls, 6-8% of the public believes that the President should have the power to order warrantless wiretaps, but that President Bush should be impeached for doing so. Hmmm...

Columnist Molly Ivins wrote this weekend about poll results that she thought showed how Americans were totally supportive of anything that's anti-Bush. Excerpt:

What kind of courage does it take, for mercy's sake? The majority of the American people (55 percent) think the war in Iraq is a mistake and that we should get out. The majority (86 percent) of the American people favor raising the minimum wage. The majority of the American people (60 percent) favor repealing President Bush's tax cuts, or at least those that go only to the rich. The majority (77 percent) think we should do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment....

It all depends on how you ask the question. Ivins' doesn't provide the source of these numbers, but you can draw whatever conclusions best fits your needs from almost any poll. For example, the results listed above are what you might expect people to say before they start thinking about it. Would 77% still agree to do "whatever it takes" to protect the environment when informed of the impact this might have on their lives? The numbers will drop when asked about almost any specific plan that involves some additional cost to the person being polled.

Consider this hypothetical poll question: "Would you support legislation that could guarantee to reduce the number of annual traffic accident fatalities in the U.S. by over 90%?" I bet that one would garner a pretty high level of support. Now, suppose this proposed method involved setting a national speed limit of 15 MPH, and requiring that all non-emergency vehicles be fitted with governors to prevent them from going any faster. How much support would this proposal have?

The bottom line: Any political party that goes into an election thinking they don't have to change the way they've been doing business because some polls full of platitudes break their way will continue to lose elections.

Off-topic postscript: You know, that Clayton Cramer seems to be sucking up all the blog-reading traffic coming into Idaho... I should do something about that.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

South African Sub "Malfunction"

The first of the new South African Type-209 subs, doing at-sea quals off Norway prior to a planned transit to South Africa next month, suffered from an unspecified "technical malfunction" yesterday:

"Submarine S101 was conducting sea training in Norwegian waters with a German navy team aboard in preparation for its trip to South Africa when a technical malfunction took place, said Rear Admiral Rusty Higgs on Wednesday.
"Nobody was injured and the S101 - known by its serial number until it is named - was travelling to Kiel in Germany for further information to be gathered.
"At this stage we do not have the picture yet... it's a little bit too early," said Higgs.
"We were told there was a technical malfunction and in the spirit of the people's navy we are keeping people in the picture," he said."

Not much other information -- but if they keep giving out information in the "spirit of the people's navy" we'll hopefully get an update soon.

Staying at PD...

Update 1834 25 Jan: Via The Sub Report, information about S-101's planned trip from Germany to the RSA next month.

I Chose... Wisely

The big news in Idaho yesterday was that Albertsons, the big grocery chain, has agreed to sell themselves. Their corporate headquarters is here in Boise, employing about 2,500 workers, and people are understandably concerned about how many of these jobs will be lost.

A person with whose thoughts I'm intimately familiar just happened to do a few months of temp work there about a year ago (immediately after this person retired from the Navy), and he has agreed to share his thoughts on the business culture that may have led to this "corporate suicide" exclusively with TSSBP:

Before I left the Navy, I knew I needed to study up on what to expect in the civilian business world. I chose to use the various Dilbert books as my primary source; it turns out this was a wise choice in preparing to work at Albertsons. It was as if the whole organization had forgotten that their core competency was to "provide a clean, friendly shopping experience for which people will be willing to pay a little extra", and replaced it with "execute short-sighted business decisions that may or may not save money, but which can be made to look as though they will save money if you use the right assumptions".

It was ridiculous. As a $12/hour temp, I found myself making a lot of decisions that should have been made at the VP level because I was the only one willing to make a decision. The people who worked there were nice enough, but no one was willing to tell the higher-ups that their plans were idiotic. I'd make up spreadsheets with reasonable estimates of costs, and get told that I had to show "more savings". The only way to do this was make the most outrageous assumptions possible -- I'd point out the inherent flaw in this approach, but they'd take my new numbers and run with them. It was like watching a slow-motion trainwreck...

Coincidentally, I also did temp work at Albertson Corporate HQ after I retired from the Navy. When I got offered the job at the really good company I'm at now, I told Albertsons I was leaving, and they rushed to make me an offer for a permanent position. The work would have been a lot easier (less challenging) and the opportunities for advancement at Albertsons were clearly a lot better -- the people I'd be competing against for promotion weren't exactly engineers, if you get my drift. My gut feeling, though, was that I should take the engineering job with the more dynamic company. I'm so glad now that I did... I really wouldn't want to be looking for another job so soon.

So, if anyone out there is about to retire, and wants advice on which job to accept: go with your instincts. It worked for me.

Going deep...

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Caption Contest Results

On Friday, I posted a "caption contest" to see who could come up with the "best" caption for this picture:

Because she's actually read books that discuss something other than the concentrated application of firepower, I asked Ninme to judge the contest. Without further ado, here are the results:

Best Pop Culture Tie-In To a Man In a Torpedo Tube:
No Mr. Bond, I expect you to die.
--lc scotty

Best Job In Making Fun of Michael Moore With a Photo Of a Man In a Torpedo Tube:
US Navy checks that Michael Moore won't be able to sneak on board through a torpedo tube while filming his forthcoming "Rummy and Me".
--Rueful Red

Best Entry Most Obviously By a Californian:
The Ship's espresso-machine is set to a precise 195-degrees Farenheit.

Best Entry By Someone Whose Mother Loves Him:
Lt Brown’s mother was recently quoted as saying “Ever since he was a boy Lou always loved the water. Shoot, I never knew my little slug would turn out to be such a hot runner”.
--lubber's line

Best In Maintaining a Healthy Disdain for Anyone Lower In Rank Than You:
Still in training, the new machiny mate in torpedo division tries to fit the hexy'thingy into the square hole and is dumbfounded when it does not work like his toy at home.Later that night they put a green book entry in for A'division assistance.

Best In Maintaining a Sailor's Reputation:
mumble mumble... and so i said "yeah, and what are you going to do about it?" to the massa cheese. damn, i could be out chasing burkas and lifting veils, but no, i'm polishing teflon.

And (drumroll)... the Funniest Caption For That Photo of a Man In a Torpedo Tube:
"Chief, are you sure I'm supposed to be inside the tube when I'm doing this?.....Chief?....What are you doing to the door, Chief?...CHI___!"

Congratulations to all the winners! As mentioned, you'll all receive, free of charge, the adulation of that portion of the sub-blogging community that reads this website.

I intentionally threw a monkey-wrench into the normal submarine caption contest dynamics by having Ninme judge the results, and I think that messed some entrants up. For instance, I would have picked geezernuke's entry, simply because he mentioned "flatulence". Additionally, I forbade WillyShake from using the most obvious choice, because it probably would have gotten Ninme's vote simply due to the literary nature of "once more into the breech".

For those interested, you can see a video clip of the Sailor pictured, along with some of his shipmates on USS Norfolk, at this link. [Intel Source: The Sub Report]

Monday, January 23, 2006

Idaho Republican On The March!

A while back, I discussed a congressional candidate I'd stumbled across here in Idaho's 1st Congressional district, Democrat Larry Grant; I ended up being fairly impressed with him. In a spirit of bipartisanship, I figured I should look at some of the Republican candidates as well. Links to their web sites can be found on this page (about 2/3 of the way down). Most of them seem to be running on a platform of "lower taxes, limited government, traditional family values, and the Constitutional right to keep and bear arms" or "economic prosperity and lower taxes, individual rights and limited government". The one candidate I found who had specific positions spelled out on several issues had "national defense" listed 19th. I wasn't impressed.

One Republican candidate stands out, and I wanted to find out what makes him tick. Robert Vasquez is a Vietnam veteran who earned two Purple Hearts, which is good. However, he seems to be running pretty much on one issue: illegal immigration. He doesn't like illegal immigration, and he doesn't seem to like free trade too much either. From his web site:

"I believe Idahoans want their 1st District Congressman to fight on their behalf for FAIR trade, not some convoluted “Free Market” trade agreements. I opposed NAFTA, and wrote and expressed that opinion in 1994. I opposed CAFTA, and will oppose the Free Trade of The Americas Act (FTAA). These compacts are not in the best interests of America’s international trade because they weaken our Republic by eliminating America’s national sovereignty. They also contain provisions for foreign workers to enter our labor markets and take your jobs. How does that benefit Idahoans?
"I do not believe that Idahoans can be defended against terrorist attacks as long as our national borders are unprotected. I will join Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo in fighting to have Congress seal the borders, identify all illegal aliens and repatriate them to their countries of origin. I will seek budget cuts in programs like E-MED that pay hospitals to provide medical care to illegal aliens, while many Idahoans live without medical insurance."

Fair enough... I don't agree with him, but it's a marginally defensible position. How has he gone about putting his positions into action thus far? Well, he made national news for trying to have his county declared a "disaster area" because of illegal immigration. He also, as a county commissioner, had his county file racketeering lawsuits against local businesses. Both actions were simply PR stunts that cost his county money with no appreciable results.

He also seems to be running against the concept of a "right" way to write the English language, if his campaign web site is any indication. In this press release, he "fights the power" that says you should use commas to separate a quoted statement from the "soandso said" part of the sentence. On his front page, he boldly challenges the spelling oppressors who think there's only one way to spell a word correctly. In the caption for the picture currently at the top, the website indicates that Vasquez is posing with a "Canyon County resident that had served in Dessert Storm and Dessert Calm, 1991 as a U.S. Army Specialist 4..." [emphasis mine]. Mmmmm, tasty military operations are always my favorites!

Anyway, there's probably not much chance that Vasquez will get the Republican nomination, but I could see him running as a 3rd party candidate in the general election, which could throw the election to the Democrat. Which, to be honest, might not be a bad thing here in Idaho...

Going deep...

PacFleet Clarification Statement Coming...

Austin Powers: Only sailors use condoms, baby.
Vanessa Kensington: Not in the nineties, Austin.
Austin Powers: Well they should, those filthy beggars, they go from port to port.

Interesting article from tomorrow's edition of Australia's Sunday Mail (the article's dated January 24, so that's tomorrow, international dateline be damned) about the visit of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to Brisbane (the picture above is of the Reagan arriving in Brisbane, from the ship's web site). Specifically, the article makes it seem as though the U.S. Navy is expecting their Sailors to visit some brothels when they're in town:

"ADVANCE teams of American military police have scoured Brisbane brothels and adult entertainment venues in the lead-up to the USS Ronald Reagan's arrival. The giant aircraft carrier with about 6000 crew on board cruised into its Brisbane River mooring yesterday, a signal for venues across the city to call all hands on deck for an expected influx of sailors eager to spend up big while on leave.
"Queensland Adult Business Association spokesman Nick Inskip, who owns the Purely Blue brothel at Bowen Hills, said military police had visited venues across Brisbane to scout for any potential problems and provide contact details if there was any trouble.
"Not that Brisbane brothels were expecting any problems with their American visitors.
"I'll have to be honest and tell you that the fellows are fantastic customers, they are so well-mannered," Mr Inskip said."

Some of you might remember a recent post I had about the UCMJ being changed to specifically make pandering (engaging the services of a prostitute) a punishable offense. I imagine that when someone at PacFleet (or Seventh Fleet) remembers that, we can expect a statement to the effect that 'all crew members have been briefed on the new regulations'. Expect these briefings to have no effect.

I always figured that the Australian port visit portion of a deployment should come at the end, rather than the beginning, as Reagan is doing. (She left San Diego on 04 January, and did her ASWEX south of Pearl during the 09-12 January period.) It kinda doesn't leave you much to look forward to at the end of the deployment if you don't have Australia in your sights...

These "advance teams" they send ashore probably aren't as fun as they used to be. During my first deployment, in '92-'93, I talked to the guys off the USS Ranger (CV 61) who had gone ahead to scout out Perth for the Battle Group. They arranged for "receptions" with the locals -- renting hotel ballrooms and everything. They handed out invitations to women they saw on the street; based on the prospective invitee's external physical attributes, she'd either get an invitation to the enlisted reception or the officer reception (there were about 5x the number of invites available for the former). Unfortunately for the enlisted Sailors, only officers got to go on these advance parties. The girls who got invited to the enlisted reception probably had very nice personalities, though...

I went to the officer reception, and I was a very good boy...

Going deep...

Caption Contest Update

Friday, I started my first Caption Contest. We've got 10 excellent entries so far, so we're just about ready for the judging. The talented and literate Ninme has graciously agreed to be the judge, and she's indicated that she'll be available for said chore on Tuesday. Therefore, I'll stop accepting entries at 2300 Monday MST.

In the meantime, here's another photo for you to caption if you'd like:

To make it more interesting, you should try to come up with a caption that doesn't include the words "Clinton" or "Carter"...

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Math Doesn't Quite Work Out In This Sub Story

I'm always happy to see stories about sub COs getting the word out to the public about their boat's capabilities and accomplishment, and always fear that their words will get mis-quoted or confused. Such seems to be the case in this article in The New London Day, (annoying free registration required after tonight) discussing the appearance of USS Virginia's CO at a local meeting of the Naval Submarine League in Groton. Excerpts:

"The Virginia-class boats have a nine-man lockout chamber and can accommodate a Navy SEAL mini-submarine or a dry-deck shelter for special forces vehicles and equipment. In addition, the Virginia-class torpedo room can be reconfigured to accommodate a larger number of special operations troops. The submarine also has four 21-inch torpedo tubes and a dozen vertical-launch systems tubes.
"The boat is undergoing post-construction work, called a “post shakedown availability,” at the Groton shipyard. The Virginia arrived Jan. 12 for the work, which could take up to a year and will involve hundreds of EB shipyard workers.
"Cramer, who took command of the new boat in December 2004, told the sub league chapter that in the 400 or so days since its commissioning, the Virginia has been under way for about 220 days. During its 90-day deployment, it conducted operations in support of the global war on terrorism in the U.S. Southern Command, a territory that covers Central America south of Mexico and all of South America...

"The commander said the Virginia steamed more than 90,000 nautical miles during its initial deployment before returning in November of last year."

I blogged about Virginia's departure on "deployment", and about her return. You can probably see some good-natured "ribbing" of the Virginia in these posts, given the natural, friendly rivalry that exists between Virginia Sailors and veterans of the more capable Seawolf-class boats (such as me). Anyway, these posts indicate (based in large part on information provided from The Day) that Virginia's "90 day" deployment was actually about 73 days (Sept. 12 to Nov. 23). That's probably just a rounding error, though; it is correct to the nearest 45 days. The last bolded statement was what really took me by surprise, though. Even is we assume they were really deployed for 90 days (because that makes the math easier), going 90,000 miles in 90 days works out to 1,000 miles a day, or (assuming 25 hours in a day, in case they went around the world and crossed times zones) about 40 nautical miles per hour, each and every hour. Given that the sub's listed speed is "in excess of 25 knots" I suppose that's possible, but I really don't think so... (Note to readers: Please don't put Virginia's actual top speed in the comments; it would only embarrass the Virginia Sailors when they consider a Seawolf's top speed.)

[Another note to readers who aren't familiar with my trademark smart-assedness: Yes, I recognize that the CO was probably saying that the ship has steamed 90,000 miles in her life to date, which, based on 220 days at sea, works out to just over 400 nm a day, which is reasonable... and pretty impressive. Or, he actually said "9,000 miles", and it's just a typo.]

Going deep...

Military "Spying" In The U.S. -- Be Afraid!

I originally had this as an update to this post, but decided it deserved a post of its very own (with some editing):

This week's Newsweek has a new article out on the TALON program, using scary words to describe it. The frightening sub-header: "The Pentagon has its own domestic spying program. Even its leaders say the outfit may have gone too far."

Reading down in the article, we learn how the "outfit" went "too far":

"But at the same time, they acknowledge that an internal Pentagon review has found that CIFA's database contained some information that may have violated regulations. The department is not allowed to retain information about U.S. citizens for more than 90 days—unless they are "reasonably believed" to have some link to terrorism, criminal wrongdoing or foreign intelligence. There was information that was "improperly stored," says a Pentagon spokesman who was authorized to talk about the program (but not to give his name). "It was an oversight."

Yep, it's 1984, just 22 years late: they didn't delete files after 90 days. While some might think that this is clearly evidence of Bush/Cheney/Rove using either mind-control rays or direct phones calls to the O-3 in charge of deleting files to keep them from doing it, others might recognize that this is more likely an administrative error -- someone didn't update their tickler file. The article also confirms how the military "spied" on the protest groups:

"The presentation... shows that CIFA analysts had access to law-enforcement reports and sensitive military and U.S. intelligence documents... But the organization also gleaned data from "open source Internet monitoring." In other words, they surfed the Web."

Here's how it works: they had local law enforcement forward them any reports they might have had on a group, visited their web site, and then determined if the group might be a threat to attack a recruiter or try to rush the gate at a military base. Not as a "threat" to the "neo-con agenda", but as a threat to attempt to breach base security, or commit assault, or vandalism. They didn't use military spies to try to infiltrate the organizations, or go through their trash. Just as I did, Citizen Smash made many of these same points late last year...

Update 2110 22 Jan: I just realized what "improperly stored" could also mean. The JO in charge of maintaining the database might have made another copy of the spreadsheet somewhere else, as a backup. (Didn't want to accidentally delete the only copy of the TALON database... try explaining that to your boss!) Then, when the main file was updated and purged, the backup copy had been forgotten, but someone searching the various public folders ("public" in a SIPRNET sense, not available to the general public) found it, and went to the press. Maybe even more likely than the "faulty tickler" explanation...

Unless, of course, it was found in the same folder as floor plans for "Room 101"...

In Which I Stay Way The F**k Away From Abortion

Don't want to start any arguments here, but I did see that today is the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, and I realized, upon following a link, that I'd never read the decision itself. I still haven't read the whole thing (220+ pages), but I've read part of it now, particularly the part on the "right to privacy". (I've mentioned before that I have a weird opinion on abortion -- I support it, within reason, but don't think the Constitution includes a mysterious "right to privacy".) Here's part of what the decision said about privacy (section VIII of the main opinion, for those who want to read the whole thing):

"The Constitution does not explicitly mention any right of privacy. In a line of decisions, however, going back perhaps as far as Union Pacific R. Co. v. Botsford, 141 U.S. 250, 251 (1891), the Court has recognized that a right of personal privacy, or a guarantee of certain areas or zones of privacy, does exist under the Constitution. [Lots of precedents go here]
"...This right of privacy, whether it be founded in the Fourteenth Amendment's concept of personal liberty and restrictions upon state action, as we feel it is, or, as the District Court determined, in the Ninth Amendment's reservation of rights to the people, is broad enough to encompass a woman's decision whether or not to terminate her pregnancy..."

Interesting. Just for fun, here's what the 9th and 14th Amendments say:

Ninth: "The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people."

Applicable section of the Fourteenth: "1. All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws."

Yep, just like the opinion says above, the Constitution doesn't mention privacy specifically...

Now That's Some Investigative Reporting!

The whole world, it seems, was following the plight of the whale that swam up that Thames in London. Unfortunately, the whale died, and people are asking what could have caused it to get so confused.

While the CNN report linked above mentions an infected wound behind the whale's left eye, others in the press immediately suspected that old bugaboo, naval sonar. The British newpaper The Independent claims to have conducted an "investigation" which "established" that "secret sonar from naval ships is killing thousands of whales around the world and could have disoriented the two-ton mammal that died last night after becoming stranded in the Thames." Note it's not just any sonar, but "secret" sonar...

So, what methodology did they use in their investigation? How did they determine that this particular whale was disoriented by sonar? Did they check out which naval vessels had been operating in the area? Based on the article, the answer is "no". The article contains a statement that "experts believe that the whale's senses could have been damaged by military sonar." It also has a quote from a Canadian professor:

"We know that beaked whales - the group of species to which the northern bottlenose whale belongs - are particularly sensitive to underwater noise. There has been a lot of seismic activity off northern Scotland and in the North Sea, and I understand that the Royal Navy exercises frequently." (emphasis mine)

So, they "established" that sonar could have caused this whale's death based on a general statement from unnamed experts (the guy at the next desk, perhaps?) and an "understanding" from a Professor thousands of miles away that "the Royal Navy exercises frequently".

You convinced me! (Not)

The rest of the article is make up of random statements about previous groundings, none of which provide the discriminating reader with any confidence that the author has even the slightest clue. Examples included a report of 12 dead whales stranded "as Nato sweep (sic) the area with sonar" and the March 2005 report of dolphins beaching "as US Navy sub trails (huh?) sonar off Florida Keys; 30 die." I blogged about that report earlier; the USS Philadelphia's use of sonar in this case seems very unlikely to have caused the beaching. They also mention the recent beaching death of 120 whales off Tasmania and says that the "Australian Navy admits to using sonar". Yes, they did -- after the first group of whales to beach came ashore, some ships used short-range HF sonar; one other article thought it might be more reasonable to blame "seismic airguns".

And of course it wouldn't have anything to do with this theory...

All this leaves the careful news reader with the feeling that some people will rush to blame sonar every time a dead marine mammal shows up somewhere, without any proof at all; this should serve to make one more skeptical of any future such claims from these sources.

Going deep...

Housekeeping Items

Did some quick housekeeping of the blogroll tonight -- moved Hamilton's Pamphlets out of the "Inactive Submarine Blogs" section (since Alexander's back to posting -- hooray!) and put Villainous Company back under "My Favorites" since Cassandra started posting again.

Haven't had a chance to do much else, since I've been busy reading CDR Salamander's discussion of "Afghanistan's NATO problem". I just wish that I could contribute some of what I learned when working at CENTCOM, but those darned classification issues keep getting in the way. I can tell you, though, that no one in the shop I was working in was sorry to see the Spaniards leave Iraq...

Note to Alexander: I'm sorry your Seahawks are going to get beaten so badly by the Panthers today...

Saturday, January 21, 2006

New SECNAV Goes "Dancin' With The One-Eyed Lady"

The new Secretary of the Navy, Donald Winter, took a tour of USS Hartford (SSN 768) in Groton this week (he also stopped by EB). After getting some instruction on what to look for on the periscope stand, he stepped up to the 'scope to try it out himself... a little tentatively, if you ask me:

Oh, well, I'm sure he'll do better next time...

Yes, This Is Satire

From Broken Newz:

"China has developed a new propulsion system for its Ching Ali class submarine that environmentalists hail as "earth friendly". Fuel for the submarine is composed entirely of powdered (NaHCO3). Leading propulsion scientist, Dr. Irwin Corey, said China has successfully refined this method of propulsion to power their 650-ton submarine at speeds approaching 11 knots. In addition, since the submarine has no need for a conventional propeller it may be totally undetectable by U.S. naval forces.
"Greenpeace International said the submarine, which can carry up to 24 nuclear missiles, shows that China is clearly taking the lead to preserve the eco system of the world's oceans. "Not only is NaHCO3 a non-toxic compound but the crew of this submarine will have virtually no odor when they return home after extended undersea deployments", said a Greenpeace spokesperson."

Read the whole thing...

Friday, January 20, 2006

Bush Uses "Packed Web Site" Strategy

Last month, I discussed the common complaint among those opposed to administration policy that "the military is spying on domestic opposition groups". Here's what I said:

Despite the scary words "military spying" and "domestic spying" being thrown around in articles like this one, this isn't a case of the military sending people out to spy on local peace groups. It's a damn database of information collected from local agencies! Someone looks at the information, decides if the people in the upcoming protest are likely to start throwing Molotov cocktails at the gate guard, and sends out a threat assessment. Base security is then ratcheted up for the day of the protest if needed.

Today, Congressional Democrats held unofficial "hearings" to discuss their concerns about administration spying on Americans. One of the witnesses represented Truth Project Inc. of Palm Beach County, who said that his group and others had been "infiltrated and spied upon". Here's what this article says he used to substantiate his charges:

"Agents rummaged through the trash, snooped into e-mails, packed Web sites and listened in on phone conversations," Hersh charged. "We know that address books and activist meeting lists have disappeared."

Packing their web sites? What, they sent so many people to look at it that it got full? That sounds like a DOS attack to me, but I suppose that "packing" the web site sounds just as good.

OK, I know that this was probably just a bad editing job by the local paper, and he really said "hacked". But honestly... "agents" rummaging through trash? "Activist meeting lists" disappearing? (I guess the "agents" can't afford those fancy spy cameras.) I lose stuff all the time, but I don't go to a bunch of Congressmen and complain that government "agents" took it. And notice how there's no proof given of the "snooped" E-mails or listened-into phone conversations. (Actually, Hersh doesn't seem to mind that the government supposedly did these things to him, since he uses this notoriety in advertising his group's activities at Indymedia Miami.)

Not that this panel would have wanted that sort of thing... they just wanted people who shared their conviction that Bus-hitler is evil, actual facts be damned. [According to this New York Times article (registration required) "Representative Jerrold Nadler, Democrat of New York, even compared the president's powers to those the Nazis used early to cement their power", thus re-proving Godwin's Law.]

It'll be an interesting mid-term election year...

Update 1827 22 Jan: This week's Newsweek has a new article out on the TALON program, using scary words to describe it. The sub-header: "The Pentagon has its own domestic spying program. Even its leaders say the outfit may have gone too far."

Reading down in the article, we learn how the "outfit" went "too far":

"But at the same time, they acknowledge that an internal Pentagon review has found that CIFA's database contained some information that may have violated regulations. The department is not allowed to retain information about U.S. citizens for more than 90 days—unless they are "reasonably believed" to have some link to terrorism, criminal wrongdoing or foreign intelligence. There was information that was "improperly stored," says a Pentagon spokesman who was authorized to talk about the program (but not to give his name). "It was an oversight."

Yep, it's 1984 22 years late: they didn't delete files after 90 days. While some might think that this is clearly evidence of Bush/Cheney/Rove using either mind-control rays or direct phones calls to the O-3 in charge of deleting files to keep them from doing it, others might recognize that this is more likely an administrative error -- someone didn't update their tickler file. The article also confirms how the military "spied" on the protest groups:

"The presentation... shows that CIFA analysts had access to law-enforcement reports and sensitive military and U.S. intelligence documents... But the organization also gleaned data from "open source Internet monitoring." In other words, they surfed the Web."

Yep, they had local law enforcement forward them any reports they might have had on a group, visited their web site, and then determined if the group might be a threat to attack a recruiter or try to rush the gate at a military base. Not a "threat" to the "neo-con agenda", a threat to attempt to breach security or commit assault or vandalism. They didn't use military spies to try to infiltrate the organizations, or go through their trash. Citizen Smash made many of these same points late last year...

Caption Contest

Over at Ultraquiet No More, we're still hosting our version of the Daily News Roundup while TheSubReport is on vacation, and Alex put up a caption contest. Those are always fun, so I'll try one here, from this picture from USS Norfolk (SSN 714), currently in Bahrain:

I think the way this works is that you put your attempt at writing the funniest caption for this picture in the comments, and someone decides which entry is the funniest (I'll probably try to convince Ninme to be a guest judge, and come up with a winner early next week). The person whose caption is selected gets the adulation of an adoring public.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I Admit When I'm Wrong

On Monday, I predicted that the panel in the court martial of RN Captain Robert Tarrant would return a "not guilty" verdict on the two remaining counts of maltreatment of subordinates in "a few minutes". I now freely admit that my prediction was in error.

It took an hour to return the acquittal.

And the guy's still a jerk... a legally exonerated jerk, but a jerk nonetheless. The people who pursued the charges sound like wouldn't be the most fun crowd to go on liberty with, either. All in all, a colossal waste of time for the Brit submarine force.

Going deep...

CNO's "Vision For A 21st Century Navy"

The new CNO, ADM Mike Mullen, wrote an article in this month's Proceedings that was reprinted over at I really liked this part:

"The Navy must be postured to win wars and defend the homeland, to empower our friends, and to help emerging partners who are struggling against the elements of instability -- presence with a purpose.
"Poor and mismanaged economies, the underdeveloped rule of law, systemic corruption, inadequate health systems, ethnic rivalry, and religious hatred all feed frustration, extremism, and terrorism. We must be able to continue to react quickly in times of humanitarian crises and with resolve in times of conflict. We must deter and dissuade potential adversaries in peacetime through persistent forward presence, and respond instantaneously in war by amassing overwhelming and lethal combat power. As we learned in Indonesia, and as we are seeing in the international relief efforts in earthquake-stricken Pakistan today, virtual presence is not the answer. You need to be there to make a difference.
"To be effective in the multitude of missions that await us, the Navy must be capable of assuring access -- at a time and place of our choosing -- throughout the maritime domain. It is not enough that our sailors have the capacity to react instantly to actionable intelligence. They must develop a true understanding of the complex world in which they operate and the cultures with which they interact."

Not much specific about submarines, but it's a pretty good read.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Kewl Skimmer Pics

I know that most of us prefer to see pictures of surface ships with the periscope reticles superimposed over them, but these two recent pictures of skimmers on the Navy Photo page caught my attention even without the "bullseye". First, we have a picture of USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) operating in the North Atlantic fog:

Next, we get a bow view of the new High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) moored in Souda Bay, Crete:

Pretty neat. As mentioned earlier, though, I still prefer to look at skimmers in positions something like this:

And we all hope that our skimmer and airdale "friends" don't get lots of pictures of us like this:

Going deep...

Conventional Warheads On SLBMs?

An article from Bloomberg caught my attention as I was putting together the Daily Sub News report over at Ultraquiet No More. The article talks about a plan to put conventional warheads on some Sub-Launched Ballistic Missiles in place of the nuclear warheads that we can neither confirm nor deny that they currently carry. Excerpts:

"The Pentagon wants to spend up to $500 million through 2011 to replace nuclear warheads with conventional warheads on some submarine-launched ballistic missiles, according to budget documents.
"The purpose is to allow quicker preemptive attacks on deeply buried enemy command centers or stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction. U.S. submarines carry ballistic missiles that fly at supersonic speeds, faster than those launched from land- based silos or airplanes...

"...The fiscal 2007-2011 defense budget plan calls for building as many as 96 conventional warheads for installation on 24 of the Navy's roughly 336 nuclear D5 Trident missiles, according to a 33-page Dec. 20 memo signed by Deputy Defense Secretary Gordon England. Each missile carries up to four warheads...
"...This new strategy ``places the ballistic missile submarine on the front line of U.S. offensive capabilities,'' Arkin said. ``Trident missiles will be able to place a conventional warhead on target in only 12 minutes, far quicker than any other long- range weapon.'' Any strikes would be coordinated by a new joint-service unit that the U.S. Strategic Command set up in November at Offutt Air Force Base, Nebraska."

The article also discusses the important issue of notification of other nuclear-armed countries in the event we fire one of these conventional missiles.

I remember, back when I was a JO, working out how much kinetic energy an incoming ballistic warhead would have. I can't remember the exact number, but it's pretty big. (If you assume a 500kg warhead traveling at Mach 6, it works out to about 1000 MJ -- about 500 lbs of TNT.) Add a decent size warhead made of the right material, and you've got a pretty good ground-penetrating weapon.

One problem with this proposal, of course, is the cost; these would be the most expensively-delivered bombs in history. A Trident D-5 missile costs about $29M, and they're obviously not reusable. On the other hand that's a lot less than the cost of a plane you might lose going against strongly defended targets. And being able to put ordnance on target within a half hour of identifying it could be fairly useful in certain situations...

Plus, it'd be way cool, from a guy perspective, blowing up a Jihadi from thousands of miles away... I'm all for it.

Going deep...

Bell-ringer 2234 18 Jan: Lubber's Line had discussed this concept earlier; and, for the truly interested (or insomnia-afflicted), here's a 27 page Adobe document that covers the issue in much greater depth...

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Sub-Themed TV Episode Tonight

Tonight is the finale of a two-part episode of Commander in Chief on ABC; I discussed the first part last week. I plan on watching tonight's episode to see if they can top their technical -- what is the plural of faux pas anyway? -- "mistakes" of last week (scrubbers being used to convert seawater to oxygen, voice comms over ELF). I'll be back later with a recap -- probably after it airs on the West Coast, but forgetting, like most people, that there are still people west of California who won't have seen it yet.

That is, if the Blogger server holds up -- it's pretty squirrelly tonight. I also have the Desk and the Chair for the new update over at Ultraquiet No More that we're doing to fill in for The Sub Report this week...

Update 2143 17 Jan: Didn't watch the whole thing closely (was trying to remember how to do slope-intercept equations to help with homework) but I saw most of it. Main thing I noticed was both the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and the President talking about Navy "battleships" when "warships" was appropriate -- "Battleships" are a specific class of ship that no one has anymore. I'll have to go back to my Tivo to see if the O2 level graphic they had up showed oxygen percentage at about 6%, like it appeared, or if that was actually time left that the crew had usable breathing air. (If I remember right, you pass out at about 13% [O2].) They might have discussed it last week, but their claim that we couldn't get a DSRV there in more than one day is wrong; our DSRVs are able to get to any airstrip in the world in 24 hours...

Update 2325 17 Jan: Fast-forwarded through it again to see what I missed. The O2 graphic was on a scale of 0-100%, which is meaningless; it indicated about 70%, and had "critical" written above the bar at about 25%. One other humorous thing that I noticed was that when they showed the disposition of the U.S. ships near the rescue area, both the carrier and the supply ship had been driven to within about 5 miles of the North Korean "fleet" -- a highly stupid move in real life. All in all, though, I didn't think it was too bad, considering. I've seen worse (like any episode of JAG that featured submarines).

Underway On Nuclear Power (?)

[Intel Source: Ultraquiet No More, filling in for The Sub Report for the rest of the week]
Today's the 51st anniversary of USS Nautilus' first underway, and her transmission of that famous message, "Underway on nuclear power". Submarining was never the same.

There's an urban legend in the submarine force about this historic underway that I'm suddenly interested in checking. I've never gotten a chance to talk to anyone on board that day, so I can't vouch for the authenticity of it, but here it is: Apparently (so the story goes) when that famous message was sent, the ship was not actually "underway on nuclear power"; it's said that the reactor had somehow scrammed at the pier, and rather than risk getting underway late, they snorkled and re-started the reactor while in the river. It's obviously something that no one would do now, but back in those days... who knows?

Can anyone who was onboard that day confirm or deny this urban legend?

Bell-ringer 2207 17 Jan: Chap found the answer.