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.)

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Busy Weekend Day

Sorry for the light posting; I was busy today with going to breakfast with the candidates after this morning's Grant-Sali radio debate, watching three sessions of the General Conference of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and watching the end of Nebraska's closer-than-it-should-have-been OT win over my alma mater, Kansas. I'll try to post more tomorrow.

Friday, September 29, 2006

An Excellent Boat Page

Because of this interesting exchange over at Rontini's BBS, I took a closer look at the outstanding USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN 633) boat page that Don Murphy runs. It's an excellent resource for anyone interested in life aboard one of the "41 For Freedom" boats. I especially liked the voluminous pictures from the virtual "tours" of upper, middle, and lower levels forward. All in all, the site is a great place to spend an hour or so.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Do Ya Think?

I just posted this over at MilBlog Ring HQ:

Secretary Rumsfeld has apparently made a startling admission:
"Well, I think that anyone who looks at it with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight has to say that there was not an anticipation that the level of insurgency would be anything approximating what it is," Rumsfeld told CNN...
Actually, I seem to remember Gen. Shinseki anticipated what was needed pretty well. I admit, I'm not a big Rumsfeld fan; as a CENTCOM staff weenie in 2003-'04, I didn't work directly with the Secretary, but I worked with people whose bosses got taskers directly from the SecDef in meetings, and none of them liked him very much either.

The Submarine Force had a similar personality in Admiral Rickover; quite a few people hold that while he was indispensible in the '50s and '60s, but had outlived his usefulness by the '70s. Likewise, I think history will judge that Rumsfeld was the right man for Afghanistan, but the wrong one for Iraq. (Of course, I recently finished reading Cobra II and Fiasco, so those books might have warped my fragile little mind.)

Standing by for incoming...

Any thoughts from my readers on this?

Bell-ringer 0011 29 Sep: SubSunk's post that he references in his comment is here.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

An Oldie But A Goodie

I've linked to this list before, but I've never posted the whole thing. Especially for the disgruntled nukes out there, click on the "Read more!" extended entry link to find the "100 Reasons Why McDonald's Is Better Than Submarines":

1) No McORSE
2) If you have to take a piss, you can go take a piss. No questions asked.
3) You'll never have to go port and starboard on the fryer.
4) Better pay.
5) The f**king sun.
6) Air.
7) The boxes of food at McDonald's aren't stamped "Rejected by Hardee's" or "Not fit for human consumption".
8) The ability to call in sick.
9) The ability to quit.
10) McDonald's doesn't get their uniforms from the same company as the state penitentary.
11) McDonald's doesn't deploy.
12) They have actual janitors.
13) No McDrills.
14) The grill breaks, you CALL someone to fix it.
15) At least your boss accepts that he's a clown.
16) No McResin Discharge.
17) No all night hydro on the fryer.
18) One word: overtime.
19) Every day is slider day!
20) At McDonald's, you will never, EVER, worry about being put in prison for ten years because you told your wife what the secret sauce is.
21) They pay you for training.
22) You'll never die a horrible, excruciating death from the crush depth implosion of a McDonald's.
23) No steam piping.
24) No time at McDonald's will you hear your boss give a thirty minute dissertation over the P.A. on the importance of being at the register 15 minutes early.
25) They won't ask you about Taco Bell operations on the advancement test.
26) You get to leave work EVERY day at the end.
27) McDonald's will eventually fire the really stupid employees.
28) two words: Happy Meals.
29) McDonald's doesn't look like a big black turd.
30) Grimace don't do Vulcan Death Watches.
31) McDonald's has a slide out back.
32) To do something at McDonald's, you look at the color coded chart, not OP umpty-squat, chapter whatever, reference 3, ACN B, rev 17.
33) If McDonald's catches fire, you LEAVE.
34) No McSmall Valve Maintenance.
35) No McCOB.
36) Leaving McDonald's in an emergency doesn't require a steinke hood and a lot of praying.
37) The coffee's better.
38) Someone else makes the water.
39) You don't have to live there to work there.
40) The only cones come from the ice cream machine.
41) McDonald's doesn't go into drydock. (again and again)
42) ALL the tests are multiple choice.
43) Their TV commercials are a lot cooler.
44) Three words: Sea Foam Green.
45) Stock in McDonald's is worth something. The Nav is a part of an operation that is 6 trillion dollars in the hole.
46) Special sauce isn't "hand made".
47) No McBilges to clean.
48) Opening for business doesn't require a full day of preparations and everyone to show up for a brief at 0230.
49) Three words: Stupid ass hats.
50) Personnel inspection requirements are written on the door. (No shirt, no shoes, no service)
51) At McDonald's, dislocating your shoulder is not considered getting the good deal.
52) McDonald's never had an accident that cause a person to be stuck to the ceiling impaled on a french fry. (ie. No Mc-SL1)
53) Because you deserve a break today.
54) Even the little Hamburglar is cooler than a goat.
55) Mayor McCheese doesn't wield a righteous thumb of indignation.
56) You can choose which McDonald's you want to work at.
57) If you want to buy your boss a beer, that's okay.
58) If you want to tell your boss to f**k off and just die f**king die, that's okay too.
59) There is no Uniform Code of McDonald's Justice to deal with.
60) The news comes from USA Today, not Ric Crawford, GS-12.
61) No one will rack you out at 2 in the morning to start the grill.
62) Chances of you getting called back after you get off work are pretty damn slim.
63) Putting the pickle on the hamburger doesn't require an QA-34 and a signature to be used against you in a court of law, should they want you.
64) The only guy in a silly yellow suit is Ronald.
65) How many McDonald's were sunk in W.W.II?
66) Fixing the register doesn't require a rubber room and a rope man.
67) Nothing on the menu contains the phrases, "Horse cock" or "baboon ass".
68) At McDonald's, the riders would have to leave at closing time.
69) $2.99 is a meal price, not a daily wage at McDonald's.
70) You don't have to go single register operations if someone spills a Coke.
71) McDonald's doesn't require a 24 hour Shutdown Register Operator and McRoving Watch.
72) McDonald's doesn't call your house at 5:30 in the morning blaring some god-awful atiquated song about a bugler just to wake you up.
73) No McRadcon.
74) At McDonald's, your boss will never make you drive him around for two and a half months so he can spy on Wendy's.
75) You will never be locked in for 24 hours pretending to operate everything. (ie no McFastcruise)
75.5) You don't have to come in to work at 7:00 only to wait around for an hour waiting for your boss to tell you things you already know.
76) At McDonald's you will never hear, "Shake machine troubleshooting team, and all off watch drinkmakers, lay aft."
77) No McGMT.
78) At McDonald's you don't have to route a 1250 for a new stack of cups.
79) If you burn a hamburger they won't take away half a month's pay for two months and restrict you to the playground.
80) Knowledge of the material of construction and variable operating characteristics of the grill are not prerequisites for operation.
81) You don't have to take apart the shake machine once a quarter just because.
82) You don't have to share your bed with two coworkers.
83) You don't have to shave off your goatee when the district manager comes.
84) At McDonald's, when the toilet clogs, you don't rig pressurized air to the shitter.
85) You don't have to shut everything off and call in the last shift to start the grill.
86) Early in the morning, you don't cycle the drink machine on and off just for practice.
87) You scrub the floors because it's dirty, not because it's Wednesday.
88) There is almost always plenty of parking. If not, drive through.
89) Don't like what you got? Take it back.
90) You don't have to take a turbidity prior to putting a new catsup dispenser on service.
91) Failure of the warming oven door to open is not a panic causing event. It will also not preclude you from starting another fryer or pulling the fries out of the vat due to interlock.
92) No Mc-HPACs.
93) No one hates it so bad they refer to it simply as "The Mac".
94) No 16 hour days at McDonald's prototype making burgers in the middle of the desert for no one.
95) If you wipe up a catsup spill at McDonald's, you don't have to let it dry before you throw it away.
96) They won't secure one of the register operators to keep track of the people going into Burger King.
97) You don't have to have permission from the Manager, Assistant Manager, and Register Operator before going into the freezer.
98) At McDonald's, the toilet paper stays in the bathroom, not on the dinner table.
99) You don't have to completely undress to pinch a loaf.
100) ALL of the articles of the Constitution apply to you at McDonald's.

A Note From The Front

In case you didn't read it last week, head right on over to Castle Argghhh!!! and check out the E-mail from a Marine in Iraq. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

DUmb Conspiracy Theory Of The Day

You can always be assured of finding a good conspiracy theory when you head over to Democratic Underground, but I thought this one was a cut above the average. Sometimes I think people posts these things just to get commenters to appear foolish by agreeing with the posts, but this one passes the "too strange to be made up" smell test. Excerpt:
Recently, I began to notice that emails from some of my more activist friends began to have some additional information in the message header.
Doing some investigation, I found that DHS requires that emails from approved computers include this information as a means to verify the accuracy and source of the message. So what were these people doing what I thought was corresponding from an approved computer? Were they agent provocateurs of the New World Order?
...My conclusion is that someone is using this to track accounts of interest in order to create a social network analysis tool for their databases. Proof my friends that we are being spied on, even if all we are is politically active and have nothing to do with terrorism. It also proves that Fearless Leader's proposals to create laws allowing him to spy on terrorists is nothing more than a sham.
The responses are pretty funny; it's only at the very end that someone with a clue points out what DomainKeys really do (and no, it's not used to track Progressives). The rest of the responses are an excellent study for anyone interested in the paranoia sweeping a good portion of the country in recent years.

Unless, of course, all the posters are non-moonbats with a weird sense of humor pretending to be moonbats...

Update 0643 27 Sep: Actually, this one's even better. (Chap even discusses it over at MilBlog Ring HQ.) The guy's even got an (unsigned) DD-214.

The Launch Of Freedom

PCU Freedom (LCS 1) was christened and launched today in Marinette, Wisconsin, today; as you can see from this photo, she made quite a splash:

Freedom is the first of a planned run of up to 60 Littoral Combat Ships; the second hull, Independence, is being built to quite a different design. I haven't been following this class of ship very closely, but CDR Salamander has; he doesn't seem to like them very much.

From my perspective, a small 3,000 ton ship seems like it's not really big enough to either give out or take any real punishment, so hopefully it'll just be involved in "presence" missions where it won't have to really fight. It'll probably look pretty through a periscope, though.

Monday, September 25, 2006

The Worst Possible...

When we moved into our house here in Meridian, it was almost out "in the country"; probably half of the section we're in was still cornfield, including a 20 acre plot about 100 yards away. In the two years since then, however, the farmers have all sold out to the developers, and everything's being replaced by new houses -- except the 20 acre plot, which is turning into a strip mall. At first, we were hoping for useful stores -- video rental, good restaurant, etc. Unfortunately, the first store that's going up is an auto parts shop; sure, it's useful, but only on rare occasions.
Since we're resigned to not having lots of good stores going there, SubBasket and I have been entertaining ourselves by trying to come up with a list of the worst possible establishments to open up, in terms of lowering our property value. So far we've come up with ideas like "tattoo parlor", "biker bar", and "dirty book store".
This got me thinking back to an old game we used to play on the boat: come up with the worst possible Familygram. For those young pups who don't remember what it was like before shipboard E-mail, "Familygrams" were the way submarine Sailors used to get news about what was going on at home. As I remember it, when the boat left on deployment, each Sailor's significant other got six forms; she could put up to 40 words on each, and bring them down to the Squadron office, where they'd be put on the broadcast.
I can't remember exactly what we came up with for the most bad news you could fit into 40 words, but I know it involved the car crashing into the house and burning both to the ground, kids all sick/arrested/prostituting themselves, and wife running off with some shipyard worker. Does anyone else remember coming up with something especially horrifying?

One Sub Decomms, Another To Move

G-man, an old Dolphin Sailor, has quite a few posts on the last week's "retirement" of USS Dolphin (AGSS 555). And from today's Pacific Daily News, it looks like we have official word from the Navy that USS Buffalo (SSN 715) will be heading to Guam next spring to bring that base back up to three SSNs.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Day On The Future Of Submarines

The New London Day has a series of articles on the future of the Submarine Force in the Sunday paper -- read it today, though, because you'll have to register to see them tomorrow. The articles include a case for Force growth, an overview of current threats, a discussion of EB's role, a call for submariners to be "louder", and one saying that subs are worth the money it costs to build them. The one I found most interesting on first reading was this one discussing the future Force numbers for various construction scenarios, including this excerpt:
The Navy projects that the SSN force will drop below 48 boats, a level the Navy has identified as necessary, in 2020 and remain below that number through 2033, a period of 14 years. In 2028 and 2029, when the force is projected to bottom out at 40 boats, it will be lacking one boat out of every six that the Navy has stated are required. The bottom will occur just as the Navy's four converted Trident cruise missile submarines (SSGNs) are scheduled to leave service, so the SSGNs will not be available to compensate for the reduced number of SSNs when the force bottoms out, and in the years after that.
I'll look over the articles again when I'm more awake and see what other interesting tidbits they might have; of course, you're invited to bring up any salient points in the comments.

Bell-ringer 0627 25 Sep: SonarMan has more over at his place.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

To Tom Lehman: A Humble Suggestion

As I turned on the TV this morning to see how the Ryder Cup was going, I knew deep in my heart what I was going to see: Euro-weenies beating up on Americans. It was as I feared. How is it that the American team, with the three best players in the world, consistently gets beat by a bunch of Europeans who have to take tea breaks all the time?

The more I thought about it, the more I realized -- Europeans are just better at this "team" thing than Americans are. Then, the solution hit me -- each team Captain is allowed to pick two players to round out the team, in addition to the top ten guys in the standings. The American captain, Tom Lehman, chose a couple of golfers to fill out the team -- despite the fact that the team already had 10 golfers. What he needed to choose were people who knew about team play already -- NFL linebackers. Just imagine how well the Americans would do if Sergio Garcia knew that Ray Lewis was a threat to tackle him every time he stepped into the tee box or lined up for a putt? Would Colin Montgomerie be as likely to hole a chip shot if he knew Brian Urlacher was about to jack him up? I think not...

This year's Cup is probably already a lost cause; we need to start preparing for 2008, when we can show the world what America does best by showing Euro-golfers that "pain" is more than just getting hit in the crotch by an errant shot.

Update 1056 24 Sep: Jeez, we suck.

A Milestone In Rexburg, Idaho

Long-time readers of this blog have probably picked up that I'm infinitely proud of my daughter, "Sweetness", who's a sophomore at Brigham Young University - Idaho. She took part in a very spiritual experience on Thursday, and I wanted to share it with you.

She goes to college in the small town of Rexburg, Idaho, on the other side of the state from where we are. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is building a temple in Rexburg, just up the street from Sweetness' dorm, so she's been able to watch it being constructed. One of the highlights when a temple is going up is the raising of the statue of Moroni to the top -- this is what she, and many others, braved the wet and the cold to see on Thursday. She took a picture of the statue as it was being maneuvered into postion:

Here's a closer view of the statue being fastened into place:

"Sweetness" reported to her Mom that the crowd spontaneously started singing as the statue was going up, and that the Spirit was strongly felt by all. News reports of the statue raising can be seen here and here.

USS Dallas In Souda Bay

Navy NewsStand has some pictures out of the visit of USS Dallas (SSN 700) to Souda Bay, Crete: here, here, here, here, and here. The thing that makes Dallas stand out among U.S. submarines is her Dry Deck Shelter:

The thing is huge! I don't even want to guess what hydrodynamic effect that thing has on Dallas' top speed. More information on the DDS can be found here, and some articles on the Swimmer (or SEAL) Delivery Vehicle that goes inside are here and here.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Wow, Those Democrats Must Have Superpowers

I've never liked ridiculous hyperbole on the campaign trail, and I think I like it even less when it's my President who's using it. Check out what President Bush said in Tampa yesterday:
"If they get control of the House of Representatives, they'll raise your taxes. It'll hurt our economy. And that's why we're not going to let them get control of the House of Representatives," Bush said.
There are arguments to be made for not wanting the Democrats to take control of the House, but this one stretches the bounds of credibility. Unless the President thinks the Dems are going to take over not only the House, but also the Senate, I don't think a bill to raise taxes would pass both houses. Additionally, I assume President Bush would veto such a measure, which means that he either thinks that the Dems are going to get 2/3 of each chamber so they can override his veto, or it means he was blowing smoke. (Granted, he probably means that they won't vote to extend the tax cuts that expire in 2010, but there's another election in between now and then, so he still isn't making any real sense.)

I'd like to think that I could hold the President to a higher standard than that.

Update 0010 23 September: The President's having a tough week -- a story comes out that seems to show him acting as I hoped (and thought) he should have been in the aftermath of 9/11 -- getting Pakistan to understand that we were serious about the "with us or against us" concept -- and he denies that it happened. I think he's getting bad political advice.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Now It's Just Getting Ridiculous

Coming quickly on the heels of Time magazine's non-story of the impending minesweeper deployment, The Nation has uncovered another shocking piece to the puzzle of our "impending" attack on Iran -- The Eisenhower Strike Group is about to deploy! Here's an excerpt of what they say:
As reports circulate of a sharp debate within the White House over possible US military action against Iran and its nuclear enrichment facilities, The Nation has learned that the Bush Administration and the Pentagon have issued orders for a major "strike group" of ships, including the nuclear aircraft carrier Eisenhower as well as a cruiser, destroyer, frigate, submarine escort and supply ship, to head for the Persian Gulf, just off Iran's western coast. This information follows a report in the current issue of Time magazine, both online and in print, that a group of ships capable of mining harbors has received orders to be ready to sail for the Persian Gulf by October 1...
...According to Lieut. Mike Kafka, a spokesman at the headquarters of the Second Fleet, based in Norfolk, Virginia, the Eisenhower Strike Group, bristling with Tomahawk cruise missiles, has received recent orders to depart the United States in a little over a week. Other official sources in the public affairs office of the Navy Department at the Pentagon confirm that this powerful armada is scheduled to arrive off the coast of Iran on or around October 21.
The Eisenhower had been in port at the Naval Station Norfolk for several years for refurbishing and refueling of its nuclear reactor; it had not been scheduled to depart for a new duty station until at least a month later, and possibly not till next spring. Family members, before the orders, had moved into the area and had until then expected to be with their sailor-spouses and parents in Virginia for some time yet. First word of the early dispatch of the "Ike Strike" group to the Persian Gulf region came from several angry officers on the ships involved, who contacted antiwar critics like retired Air Force Col. Sam Gardiner and complained that they were being sent to attack Iran without any order from the Congress...
...One solid indication that the dispatch of the Eisenhower is part of a force buildup would be if the carrier Enterprise--currently in the Arabian Sea, where it has been launching bombing runs against the Taliban in Afghanistan, and which is at the end of its normal six-month sea tour--is kept on station instead of sent back to the United States. Arguing against simple rotation of tours is the fact that the Eisenhower's refurbishing and its dispatch were rushed forward by at least a month. A report from the Enterprise on the Navy's official website referred to its ongoing role in the Afghanistan fighting, and gave no indication of plans to head back to port. The Navy itself has no comment on the ship's future orders.
Emphasis mine. All this is fascinating if true, but here's the kicker -- the Eisenhower ESG completed their JTFEX at the end of July, so an October deployment would be right on time (or maybe even a little later than normal) for a regular deployment cycle. They most assuredly wouldn't do a JTFEX in the summer if they weren't supposed to deploy until "next spring". The writer from The Nation is just making stuff up. This whole meme that's spreading through the lefty media reminds me of the great "Summer Pulse" scare of 2004 when people were tracking carrier deployments as proof of an impended U.S. attack on Iran just before the 2004 elections.

These people seriously need to get another angle to play -- this one's getting old.

Pictures Of Lost Submarines

Some pictures came out recently of what may be two of history's most famous submarines in their final resting places. Most importantly, the Russian team that found what may be the wreck of USS Wahoo (SS 238) -- which I blogged about last month -- released some pictures that can be viewed here. Here's one of the pictures, of the rudder, stern planes, and props:

In the other piece of submarine photo news, underwater pictures of the Royal Navy's Holland V can be seen here -- divers just recently finished cleaning all the nets and other flotsam that had collected over the hull since she sank under tow back in 1912. (The article says that this boat is the RN's first submarine, but I always thought their actual first submarine sank a year later, and was raised in the 1980s -- it's now on display at the Royal Navy Submarine Museum.)

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

A Thai Coup

One night in Bangkok
The PM was in New York
He should have stayed home.

Bell-ringer 0015 23 Sep: My old shipmate Paul, whose thoughts on Thailand I trust, has this to say in the comments:
Apparently Taksin knew or strongly suspected this, because his whole family was out of the country. The Thai general in charge has close ties to the royal family, and is widely respected by the people. Very quickly, the Thai king endorsed the military takeover as necessary.

Time Magazine: Scare-Mongers?

I haven't gotten my copy of Time magazine yet this week, but it looks like they're going back into the "write about stuff to try to scare people" mode. Their cover story this week is about "What War With Iran Would Look Like" -- there's a synopsis here, which contains these excerpts:
The first message was routine enough: a "Prepare to Deploy Order" sent through Naval communications channels to a submarine, an Aegis-class cruiser, two minesweepers and two minehunters.
The orders didn't actually command the ships out of port; they just said be ready to move by October 1.
A deployment of minesweepers to the east coast of Iran would seem to suggest that a much discussed, but until now largely theoretical, prospect has become real: that the U.S. may be preparing for war with Iran.
Whoa, scary! The article goes on to couple this "news" with a report that the CNO apparently ordered an updating of plans for the potential blockading of Iranian ports; this prompted an apparent denial from DoD that anything strange was happening, according to The Army Times (which still was able to get in a quote from a Democratic congressman about how scary the Administration is).

I don't know if the CNO ordered a routine review of war plans or not, so let's concentrate on the first item in the article: the "prepare to deploy" part. Interestingly, it mentions "two minesweepers and two minehunters" -- I wasn't sure there was that much of a difference between the two existing classes of Mine Countermeasures ships, but let's assume for the sake of argument the Time meant "Osprey-class MHC" for minesweeper and "Avenger-class MCM" for minehunters (although it could be vice versa). Time makes it seem like a big deal that we're sending minesweepers (or hunters) to the Gulf, without bring up one salient point: we already have 4 of them stationed there! Yes, that's right; we already have 2 Osprey-class MHCs (USS Cardinal and USS Raven) and two Avenger-class ships (USS Ardent and USS Dextrous) forward-deployed out of Bahrain.

OK, so we already have four minehunters there -- it still sounds scary to be doubling our force, you might say. It might be, if it wasn't for the fact that the two Osprey-class ships currently in Bahrain are being decommissioned in Dec. '06 and being transferred to Egypt. So, it looks like rather than doubling the force, we're just replacing the ones that are already there but leaving. Since all the Osprey-class ships are to be decommissioned by the end of 2008, I wouldn't be surprised if the two "minesweepers" that got prepare to deploy orders were the Cardinal and Raven, who are going to "deploy" to their new owners in Egypt -- which means we'd still just have four minesweepers in the Gulf.

And what about the cruiser and the submarine that were mentioned? Well, it turns out that Navy ships, especially since 9/11, do "surge deployments" all the time -- this search of Navy NewsStand returns almost 300 hits for surge deployments, including ones for USS Memphis, USS Columbia, and USS Louisville from this year.

Bottom line: This just isn't a big deal, no matter how much Time wants us to believe it is.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Avast, Ye Scurvy Dogs!

"Submarines are underhand. Unfair. And damned un-English. The crews of all submarines captured should be treated as pirates and hanged.” - Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson, RN, 1901

Today is "Talk Like A Pirate Day". Since submariners have traditionally been seen as the spiritual successors to pirates among the world's navies, it's only right that we should honor our somewhat piratical past. To that end, here's a picture of HMS Conqueror (S-48) flying the Jolly Roger on her homecoming from the Falklands War and her sinking of the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano (the ex-USS Phoenix):

Dave Barry has more on the importance of this day. Read it or prepare to walk the plank!

Monday, September 18, 2006

A Job Title To End All Job Titles

From this Flag Officer Assignment announcement found at the Navy NewsStand:
Rear Adm. (lower half) Mark I. Fox is being assigned as deputy to the deputy chief of staff for political, military and economic business, Multi-National Forces Iraq. Fox is currently serving as deputy assistant to the president and director, White House Military Office, Washington, D.C.
"Deputy to the Deputy"? As an Flag Officer? I'm sure RADM Fox is a fine officer, but c'mon... this should serve as a wake-up call to everyone who sees it that the Navy just has too many Admirals. Maybe NAVPERS can come up with a "Drawdown Game" for Flags -- but of course they won't. One of the most jealously-guarded items within each service, and for each community within the services, is the number of General and Flag Officer billets they get -- no one wants to give up a slot, because that would mean they'd be perceived as becoming less important. The Navy has well over 200 Flag Officers for a force of 282 deployable battle force ships -- most of which are commanded by O-5s. The Army has 25 General Officers for each division -- or about 1 per battalion/regiment, which are also commanded by O-5s. At least the Air Force is looking at cutting their numbers of Generals -- although I doubt it will actually happen, for the aforementioned reason.

And don't even get me started on the number of O-6s with no apparent function other than to keep people below them in the chain of command from working efficiently...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Another Year Older, Another Year Snarkier

Today marks my 2nd anniversary as a blogger here at TSSBP. Here's my blogiversary post from last year -- much as one doesn't take as many pictures of your 2nd child as the first, I'm sure I won't write as much as I did last year to mark the occasion. (The link above has the obligatory link to my first ever post.)

Statistics-wise, I got a little over 150,000 visits this year, and just over 310K page views. I wrote 744 new posts this year -- this kind of surprised me; I had expected the number would have gone down from the 610 I did the previous year. In addition to continuing to contribute to the submarine group blog Ultraquiet No More, I joined the gang over at MilBlogs Ring HQ for some group mil-blogging -- it was there that I helped expose the Jesse MacBeth fraud. Here at my home blog, I tried some more humor writing, to mixed reactions, when I authored the SPUD-LIB Manifesto -- an ultimately successful crusade to get permalinks from Idaho überblogger Clayton Cramer.

I appreciate everyone who's kept reading me as I "evolve" as a blogger -- I hope to be able to provide even better content over the next 12 months.

-- Joel Kennedy -- "Bubblehead"

Saturday, September 16, 2006

A Cornucopia Of Submarine Links

Eric at The Sub Report has done it again -- directed the 'net-using denizens of the deep to a great repository of submarine information and links. His find for today: COBLINKS.

COBLINKS takes over where Rontini's Links page left off by providing what appears to be the most up-to-date and complete links to all things submarine. He's got a list of submarine bloggers that's almost as long as mine, for example. (I note, however, that he doesn't have my old friend RM1(SS), blogging as The Old Coot, listed -- as for me, I just re-found his blog today, and have to get it added to my blogroll.)

Anyway, COBLINKS has somewhere between a cubic butt-ton and a metric sh*tload of good links, so if you have some free time, it'd be a great place to explore.

Sub-blogger WillyShake Hits The Big Time

Congrats to WillyShake for getting mentioned by NRO's The Corner yesterday for his post on the Pope's speech -- a speech that Muslims found offensive for some reason (going so far as to fire-bomb churches, apparently because they're upset that their religion was mentioned as being founded in violence). As is appropriate whenever a sub-blogger gets linked by a "mainstream" site, he (WillyShake, not the Pope) mentioned our group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More in an update to the post welcoming the new readers. BZ, Willy! (It would have been even cooler if Benedict XVI had mentioned UQNM, though.)

Regarding the over-reaction to the Pontiff's speech, Ninme has much more (as would be expected). I personally was impressed that the Pope stood his ground and didn't issue an apology, only an "I'm sorry you misunderstood me" statement that will, I'm sure, cause even more protests.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Football's Really Starting Up

With seven college football games tomorrow featuring match-ups between Top 25 teams, it looks like the season is really getting into full swing. The game that most interests me is, of course, the Nebraska - Southern Cal game, which kicks off at 1800 MDT tomorrow in Los Angeles. Those who have been reading my blog for a while know that I wasn't happy when the new Nebraska Athletic Director, Satan, dictated a shift from an exciting option attack to the pass-centric "West Toast" offense three seasons ago. While I'm still patiently waiting for Satan to get run out of Lincoln on a really uncomfortable rail, I still hope the team does well -- a Nebraska fan's loyalties are too strong for even a psychotically evil AD to destroy.

As it turns out, Nebraska's been doing pretty well so far this year, with dominating wins over La Tech and Extreme Northwest Nicholls State Teachers College for the Criminally Incontinent. Tomorrow's game against USC should be another story, unfortunately. While I'd like to see Nebraska win, I think we're about a year (and home field advantage) away from challenging the Trojans. Bottom line: This year, I'm just hoping we can beat the 18 1/2 point spread.

Next year, though, the game's in Lincoln, so I've got that to look forward to.

Update 2150 16 Sep: NU beat the spread! Woo-hoo! Just wait 'til next year, Trojan fans, and we'll have a chance of beating you for real.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

What People Overseas Think Of Americans -- A Personal Anecdote

As part of the coverage of the 5th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, there were a lot of words written about how the rest of the world hates Americans. In response, I'd like to offer a personal experience that shows that there are still parts of the world where America is admired.

So there I was -- on a TAD trip to Warsaw, Poland, back when I was at CENTCOM in early 2004. I had finished up work for the day, so the U.S. Army major I was working with and I went to do a little shopping for the home folk after changing into civvies. We walked into a department store, and split up after a while to look for stuff. I had a question, so I went up to the clerk and gave her my best "Dzien dobry"; in response, she said, "I can speak English". I was a little disappointed, because I'd been working hard on the five or six Polish phrases I'd learned from the liaison officers in Tampa, so I asked her how she knew I wasn't Polish. She explained: "I knew you were an American when I saw you walk into the store, and you were talking with a black man as an equal."

So, there are still some places outside the U.S. where people know that being an American is something special.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Russian Nuclear-Armed SSNs?

I'll comment more on this later, but this article from the Eurasia Daily Monitor is quite interesting. Excerpt:
Then came the real sensation: Putin asked how many Russian nuclear subs were at sea. Ivanov reported: "Today, there are eight nuclear-powered submarines at sea on combat patrols. Five of them are strategic and three are multipurpose, but each of them has nuclear arms aboard" (Interfax, September 10). Ivanov made the statement and then repeated it once again unequivocally, as broadcast the same day by Russian government’s Rossiya television channel: "The subs have different tasks -- some are armed with ICBMs, others are multipurpose -- but each of them has nuclear weapons aboard." Ivanov's statement is highly significant, because under existing agreements it is illegal for Russia to deploy non-strategic nuclear weapons on board attack (multipurpose) subs.
On September 27, 1991, U.S. President George H.W. Bush announced drastic cuts in non-strategic (tactical) nuclear weapons and invited the Soviet Union to follow his lead. Ten days later Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev agreed to do the same. In January 1992, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Russian President Boris Yeltsin officially committed Russia to continue tactical nuclear disarmament.
The non-strategic arms limitation agreements required the total destruction of all nuclear artillery shells, tactical land-based missile warheads, and nuclear land mines. They also mandated the partial destruction of anti-missile and anti-aircraft defense missile warheads, non-strategic naval nuclear weapons, and Air Force and Naval Air Force bombs. All the nuclear weapons left after the partial destruction and, in particular, all non-strategic naval weapons were to be detached from delivery systems, taken off ships and subs, and placed in centralized storage facilities away from naval and other military bases. The only exceptions were Air Force tactical bombs that were allowed to be deployed at storage facilities near air bases (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Nuclear Status Report,
...The tactical nuclear limitation agreements are not a formal treaty, and no compliance verification mechanism ever existed. Despite statements to the contrary, questions about Russian compliance with non-strategic nuclear disarmament have been raised. Unlike U.S. naval-based, long-range cruise missiles, their Russian (Soviet) equivalents -- the Granat and Granit -- were not designed or ever tested to carry conventional warheads. Still Russian attack subs continued to deploy these missiles at sea, which did not make sense if only their nuclear tips continued to be in place despite official pledges.
However, now the time for speculation is over. Ivanov’s statement, made in front of reporters and President Putin reveals unequivocally that Russian attack subs are being deployed "on combat patrols" against NATO ships with battle-ready non-strategic nukes onboard. Russia is clearly cheating now and may have been cheating on its signed tactical nuclear arms control promises all along.
More later...

Update 0021 15 Sep: Back in 1991 or '92, I remember they had us change the standard response we were supposed to give if anyone asked us about the presence of nuclear weapons aboard non-SSBNs. To the original, "I can neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons aboard any U.S. Naval vessel", they added something like, "However, it is the policy of the U.S. government not to deploy nuclear weapons aboard attack submarines or surface ships". So, while we can't confirm or deny, I can say that I personally never saw a nuclear weapon, and I was stationed only on attack submarines and an aircraft carrier.

If the Russians are cheating on this agreement, my initial thought was that it'd be stupid on their part -- but, the Russian Navy was never known for being run by the brightest group of Admirals. Then I thought some more; the only real mission the Russian submarine force has nowadays is protecting whatever SSBNs they can get out on patrol, so I suppose they'd be willing to risk having us put nukes back on our SSNs (a minimal tactical advantage, if any) in order to have a weapon that's really their only chance to kill one of our SSNs going after their boomers. I have no idea why they'd want to publicize it, however.

I never did really understand the Russians...

A Submariner's Account Of 9/11/01

PigBoatSailor returned to blogging to put up an excellent account up of his 9/11 experiences on a boat in Groton. It's much more interesting than my recollections I posted last year.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Importance Of Using Good English

Idaho 1st District Congressional candidate Bill Sali today stated that he supports a bill making English the official language of the United States. Unfortunately, he didn't seem to have many specifics about the bill nailed down. Apparently as a method of demonstrating how embarrassing it would be for someone who doesn't speak or write English well, his new video page features a couple good examples of bad English: "The VB's support of Bill Sali is important" (VB = volleyball, maybe?) and "The globabl implications of this election". Maybe his webmaster was subconsciously thinking about the Tower of Babel, where God decreed that man should speak different languages.

The fact that the bill in question was referred to sub-committee in April 2005, and is still sitting there in September 2006 (the same fate as the previous bill on this subject introduced in 2003) I'm sure in no way indicates that this is yet another example of Mr. Sali grandstanding about a proposal that has no chance in hell of succeeding.

Update 2355 14 Sep: It looks like they fixed the typos on the campaign website. I wonder if they're reading my site?

Canadians Want To Send A Sub To The Arctic

[Intel Source: SubSim] The Commander of the Canadian Joint Task Force Atlantic says he wants to send one of Canada's submarines on a "sovereignty patrol" of the country's Arctic regions. As I've mentioned before, Canadians are apparently upset that American submarines might be passing through Canadian territorial waters when sailing through the Arctic Ocean. They're concerned about some of the potential problems of operating up north, though:
"One of the things that I will want to be able to exercise, practise, validate, is how well I can communicate and control the submarine in what is an area where you have very difficult and, in some cases, sketchy communications architectures. Satellite coverage is as bad there is it is anywhere on earth.
"So pushing the submarine up into those types of operations allows us to figure out where the envelopes are. . . . I would hope to get to the stage where I can do that sooner rather than later."
In March, then-rear admiral Dan McNeil said it would be "almost impossible" for diesel-electric subs to operate in the Arctic archipelago, noting depth charts of the area are more than a century old and currents in the narrowest passages move along at up to 17 kilometres per hour.
Out of date depth charts? Seems like all they'd have to do is ask the U.S. Navy for updated ones, and I'm sure we'd be glad to provide them.

(Emergency Deep! to avoid the counterfire of various Canadians...)

Submarine Decommissioning Schedule Changes

Back in June, I blogged about the (late-arriving) FY-07 Ship Decommissioning Message. Now, the Navy's put out an updated message. This Navy Times article discusses all of the changes; here's what effects the Submarine Force:
• Attack submarine H.G. Rickover will be deactivated March 1, 2007 instead of Sept. 30, 2007.
• Attack submarine Minneapolis-St. Paul’s deactivation date was fine-tuned from Sept. 30, 2007 to Sept. 27, 2007.
• Attack submarine Honolulu’s deactivation was moved up a year from Sept. 30, 2007, to Nov. 1 of this year. Her bow will be used to replaced the bow of San Francisco, which was destroyed in a collision with an underwater mountain in January 2005...
• The deep-diving research submarine Dolphin, the Navy’s last diesel-powered sub, will remain on the ledgers until Dec. 8, 2006, rather than Oct. 1, 2006. It will be sunk in a fleet training exercise. The Navy spent $60 million bringing Dolphin back to service after a fire in May 2002. Dolphin just recently rejoined the fleet.

Ships whose schedules did not change:
• Attack submarine Salt Lake City deactivates Nov. 3.
The only big "surprise" I could see was moving HGR's decomm up seven months. Anyone else notice any surprises?

Monday, September 11, 2006

Never Forget

Never forget how you felt that day... and the resolution you felt to see it through to the end. No matter if you believe we're on the right track now towards winning the war or not, know that we, as a nation, must come together to be victorious. They started it... we'll say when it's finished.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Those Wacky Iranians!

It turns out that the video the Iranians put out of the test of their "home-built" sub-launched missile I discussed last month may have been not exactly what they said it was. According to a report from the LA Times (which requires registration, so I'm linking to the San Francisco Chronicle version):
U.S. military intelligence has determined that a video released by the Iranian government purporting to show a test of a new submarine missile is bogus, three Pentagon officials confirmed.
The Iranians released the video Aug. 27, one of a series of steps the Tehran government has taken in recent months to display its military potency in the midst of a confrontation with the United States and other Western nations over its nuclear ambitions...
...But U.S. intelligence officers analyzed the plume of smoke from the missile and determined it matched a video of an earlier Chinese test.
"It's the identical launch," a Pentagon official said. "The plume, everything, is the same."
U.S. officials have been unable to confirm whether any test took place during the Iranian exercise. They say they are certain, however, that the video of the purported test is not of an Iranian sub in the Persian Gulf.
The article goes on to discuss why the U.S. military doesn't want to officially announce that the video is a fake. The explanation the story provides ("The officials asked that their names not be used because the Defense Department had decided not to publicize the discovery of the bogus test. Taking on the role of superpower tattletale could exacerbate already tense relations, or potentially provoke more, real tests.") doesn't really pass the smell test to me. As much as I hate to agree (somewhat) with someone from Democratic Underground, I think it'd be more likely that we wouldn't want to publicize it because a bigger Iranian "threat" means it's easier for the Navy to get money from Congress. Not that that's a bad thing...

The video itself appears to be this one. I'll have to take the experts word for it that they have a Chinese video that looks the same.

On a kind-of-related topic, submariners will get a kick out of this interview with Admiral Sajjad Kouchaki, commander of the Regular Iranian Navy, given on Iranian TV just before the recent exercises. I'll provide the statement of interest without comment:
Our tactics are completely different from the enemy's conventional tactics. This means that our submarines can easily get near the enemy. Even our enemies know full well that one of our submarines passed under one of their [vessels], without their noticing. We came close to their anchored vessels, and we even filmed their anchor chain. We followed them through a periscope at a depth of one kilometer, without their noticing. All these methods and tactics are non-classical and non-conventional, constituting unbalanced warfare.
(Must... resist... urge... to comment...)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

PCU Texas Being Commissioned Today

PCU Texas (SSN 775) will officially join the fleet as a commissioned warship today at 100o CDT in Galveston. A live webcast of the commissioning ceremony is going to be offered at this link. It should be a lot of fun!

Update 2314 10 Sept: By all accounts, the ceremony was a big success! Commenter SubSunk provides this report:
It was a pretty large turnout and a pretty decent ceremony. I couldn't hear well where I was standing, but the webcast is a great touch. Apparently the speeches were well recieved, the crew was extremely polite to all, and the dignitaries were well liked by the locals.
All in all, a good performance by the crew, the commissioning committee, and the supporting commands who assisted. Well done, all. Mrs. Bush was particularly popular, and was very gracious to the entire crew and the dignitaries and their families. We are very lucky to have such a lady representing the country, and the state of Texas.
Those who missed the ceremony can still view the webcast here. (It's about 90 minutes long.) For me, the most boring part of the ceremony is always the gun salute -- for some reason, at commissioning ceremonies, they always use only one gun, so it seems to take forever, and those rendering salutes look kind of silly holding it for so long. (For USS Connecticut's commissioning, I had the "traditional" Engineer's role of being in charge of the formation of crew members who didn't do anything else for the ceremony, so I was one of those who got to salute the whole time.)

The Sub Report has lots of links to coverage of the event, including these pictures. (The Navy's pictures can be found here.)

SubSunk's comments about the First Lady caused me to think back to the last time we had the First Lady serve as a sponsor of a submarine. Hillary Clinton (now Senator Clinton) served as the sponsor of USS Columbia (SSN 771). Like Mrs. Bush, she attended the ship's christening (2nd picture down here). However, when it came time to commission the boat, she couldn't find time in her schedule to attend.

And as petty as it might sound, that is the #1 reason I could never vote for her to be President.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

An Anniversary I Missed

While I was celebrating my own 21st wedding anniversary today, I missed quite a significant anniversary for the Submarine Force. Luckily, SubSunk over at Blackfive didn't miss it, and he tells the story of Turtle's attack on HMS Eagle in New York Harbor 230 years ago today.

Deadly Fire On Russian Victor-III

There are several reports out this morning about two Russian submariners being killed aboard the Victor-III boat Daniil Moskovsky (St. Daniel of Moscow), hull number K-414. Reports say the fire that killed the Sailors was in the "electrical equipment" section of the engine room. From one of the articles:
"Our initial information is that the fire broke out in a power distribution panel in compartment No.6," said a spokesman for Russia's Northern Fleet.
"The crew did everything within their power to put out the fire. Two people suffered smoke inhalation from the thick smoke. They were evacuated from the submarine but it was not possible to save their lives."
This article says that the boat has already been towed back to Vidyayevo, which strikes me as pretty fast. Some other articles say the boat was anchored when the fire occurred. I think I'll wait for all the misleading initial reports to get sorted out before I try to figure out if the Russians are lying or not about this.

Of course, Reuters automatically came out with a list of other submarine accidents to compare this one against.

Staying at PD...

Update 2316 07 Sep: Bad news all around for Russian submariners today -- here's an article about a failed SSBN missile test.

Update 2353 07 Sep: Vigilis has much more on the K-414 fire.

Update 0644 08 Sep: Here's an excerpt of a translation of a follow-up Russian article:
A fire in one of the cells of St. Daniel of Moscow broke when the submarine was yet up-top, running from Vidyaevo naval base to the Barents Sea. When fighting the fire, two members of the crew, warrant officer Rafim Shibanov, 35, and contract sailor Igor Etyuev, 28, were heavily intoxicated by the carbon monoxide and evacuated to the vessel, which was nearby to back up the submarine in distress. But the physicians failed to save the sailors.
There is no threat of the nuclear contamination, the Navy assured. The breakdown wasn’t significant, said North Fleet Briefer Vladimir Navrotsky. "The fire broke in the electrical control unit, all systems were well-coordinated and the nuclear reactor was shut off.”
Nevertheless, the chiefs are unable to explain how the carbon monoxide could have killed the sailors despite that they were well equipped by special breathing apparatus. A sailor used a breathing apparatus, it is known now, but the oxygen ended in 10 minutes instead of the required 15 minutes.
It's looking like the Russian version of the story is iterating towards saying the boat was surfaced when the fire broke out, and there were already tugboats nearby. Normally non-Western diesel boats will surface and anchor at night, but I'm not sure why a nuclear boat would do that; maybe the Russians are getting a little dumb as they lose proficiency. In this case, though, it was probably lucky that they were surfaced -- submerged submarines fill up with smoke really, really fast when you have a major fire.

Bill Sali And The Underpants Gnomes

It's after Labor Day now, so the Idaho 1st Congressional District race is heating up. Until now, it's been really hard to do any analysis of the proposed policies of the Republican candidate for this office, Bill Sali, because his website was surprisingly free of any actual information concerning what he would specifically do if he's elected. This week, though, his campaign has put four "press release"-type items on the site, so we'll get a chance to see if he's planning on offering anything other than generalities. (I have a chance to look over these items because I'm still waiting for his campaign's response to the E-mail I sent them last month looking for specific information.)

The biggest proposal Mr. Sali came up with has to do with cutting the payroll tax; he initially floated this at a Labor Day picnic here in Meridian (two reports on this picnic can be found here and here). I was amazed at what he said the result of this cut would be; first, though, I should provide a little background information:

Back in the second season of South Park, one of the funnier episodes was called "Gnomes"; it features a group of gnomes (duh!) with an stunning business plan, to wit:

1. Collect underpants
2. ????????
3. Profit!

Back to Mr. Sali's plan to cut the payroll tax -- here's what his press release says:
“Cutting payroll taxes will stimulate the economy and will provide real and immediate relief to the working Americans,” Sali told a crowd gathered at a Meridian park for a Labor Day picnic sponsored by the Sali campaign. Representative Sali noted that his plan will also protect Medicare and Social Security for every generation.
[Emphasis mine] Wow! That's pretty impressive. Let's look at this in terms of the gnome's business plan:

1. Cut payroll tax
2. ????????
3. Protect Medicare and Social Security for every generation!

I'm not quite sure that this works from a macroeconomic point of view. At some point in my lifetime, Social Security is going to reach a crisis point, as Rep. Bob Beauprez (R-CO) points out in this speech. By 2040, there will be only two workers for each beneficiary; the worker/beneficiary ration will start dropping quickly in 2008, when the first baby boomers start turning 62. It doesn't make any sense to anyone, except maybe Mr. Sali, how we can lower payroll taxes, have fewer people paying in for more beneficiaries, and not cut benefits or raise the retirement age. And seriously -- while cutting the payroll tax might result in short-term economic stimulus, does Mr. Sali really think that it would be enough to "protect Medicare and Social Security for every generation"? I'd need to see some numbers on that claim. (And c'mon -- if payroll tax cuts, obviously a popular item, were really going to be able to fix everything, don't you think President Bush would have proposed them? Or does Mr. Sali think he's smarter than President Bush and Vice President Cheney on this matter? Or is it more likely that they've done the math and realize it's an unreasonable proposal?)

This demonstrates a problem that Mr. Sali's opponent, Larry Grant, will have in this race. Larry is a successful businessman, and seems unable to say something completely ridiculous just because he thinks it would make a good sound bite. Another of Mr. Sali's press releases says that Larry has "vowed to raise" payroll taxes, and he provides a link to Larry's answers to a questionnaire at Project Vote Smart. (Interestingly, Mr. Sali has himself so far refused to fill out the same survey -- as I said, he apparently doesn't want anyone to know any specifics about his ideas.) I read Larry's responses as indicating actions he would take to save Social Security in its present form for the long term -- he's not calling for an immediate increase in payroll taxes. He's a smart guy, he's looked at the math, and he knows that if we don't increase the amount of money going into the system, or raise the retirement age, increased life expectancy and the declining birth rate of the last 40 years will result in insolvency unless action is taken -- action that doesn't involve just cutting payroll taxes.

At the end of the press release about payroll tax cuts, Mr. Sali says that “My opponent’s positions clearly demonstrate he is no moderate. He is a liberal.” I find this very interesting -- none other than Howard Dean had a similar proposal to Mr. Sali's in the last presidential campaign. If Mr. Sali agrees with Gov. Dean, then where does that put him on the liberal/conservative scale? (Yes, I know that's not a fair comparison, but I think it shows that Mr. Sali's seemingly simplistic view of what is liberal and what is moderate isn't really accurate.)

I'm looking forward to any more specific proposals Mr. Sali comes up with -- like exactly what government spending he plans to cut that would allow him to balance the budget without raising taxes, remembering that non-defense discretionary spending makes up only about $600B (a little under 25%) of the budget -- or does he plan on cutting defense spending as well? The current budget deficit is on the order of $300B; will he cut non-defense discretionary spending in half? Does he realize that that would be politically impossible? Once again, his sound bites don't match up to any version of reality with which I'm familiar.

Update 2307 07 Sep: Larry Grant himself responds to Mr. Sali's "challenge" on payroll taxes much more eloquently than I did -- which explains why he's the one running for Congress. And since I'm updating, it gives me a chance to post a picture of the Underpants Gnomes for those who don't know what they look like:

It just occurred to me -- it would be fairly easy for some devious person with Photoshop "skillz" to replace Tweek's face with a picture of Mr. Sali...

Update 0013 08 Sep: If Mr. Sali gets elected, I'm probably going to get in really big trouble for this:

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wikipedia Entry On Submarine Warfare Insignia

The "dolphins" entry at Wikipedia has some interesting reading while you're waiting for me to provide new content.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

News From Around The Submarine World

Of course, you could just go over to The Sub Report and find this, but in case you haven't yet, here are a couple items of interest:

-- Justin Cline reports on a fire this weekend at NPTU Charleston that doesn't seem to have made any newspapers.

-- PCU Texas (SSN 775) arrived in Galveston for her commissioning this upcoming Saturday. It looks like the town is giving the event the attention it deserves, which is nice. Here's a nice photo of the arrival:

The Iranian Nuclear Program Explained

Check out the MEMRI transcript of an interview with Iranian Nuclear Chief Mohammad Sa'idi as he explains the peaceful uses for his country's reactor program:
Interviewer: "You just said that in some cases, heavy water can even be used for drinking."
Mohammad Sa'idi: "Yes."
Interviewer: "Could you elaborate on this?"
Mohammad Sa'idi: "One of the products of heavy water is depleted deuterium. As you know, in an environment with depleted deuterium, the reception of cancer cells and of the AIDS viruses is disrupted. Since this reception is disrupted, the cells are gradually expelled from the body. Obviously, one glass of depleted deuterium will not expel or cure the cancer or eliminate the AIDS. We are talking about a certain period of time. In many countries that deal with these diseases, patients use this kind of water instead of regular water, and consume it daily in order to heal their diseases.
"In other words, the issue of heavy water has to do with matters of life and death, in many cases. One of the reasons that led us to produce heavy water was to use it for agricultural... medical purposes, and especially for industrial purposes in our country."
[Emphasis mine] Wow... "depleted deuterium". I guess that proves to everyone who says that Islamic science hasn't created anything new since algebra over 1,000 year ago is wrong. What exactly is "depleted deuterium", though? A quick Google search shows that, in addition to articles about this interview, some hits describing it as water from which the deuterium has been removed... in other words, water. (Natural water has about 0.015% of its hydrogen in the form of deuterium -- normal hydrogen with a neutron in the nucleus. "Depleted deuterium" would be, apparently, that water with less than 0.0015% deuterium -- chemically indistinguishable from normal water.)

In Sa'idi's defense, he apparently believes that "many countries" use this treatment, so it could be a matter of ignorance on his part rather than malice. The part later in the interview, though, he's flat out lying about something that he should know about:
You may ask why we pursued a heavy-water research reactor, rather than a light-water reactor. This is a [legitimate] question, which deserves an answer. [It is] because this involves simpler technology. The heavy-water research reactors have slightly simpler technology. In what way are they simpler? Light-water research reactors require fuel that is 20% enriched...
In actuality, light water reactors only require uranium enrichment up to about 3.5%, so his claim that they need to go to 20% is complete crap, and evidence that they're trying to hide the reasons for their plans for enriching uranium more highly than needed if they're not planning on making nuclear weapons.

Which, of course, everyone who's not completely brain dead already knows.

Note: The American Thinker and the Infidel Blogger's Alliance, among others, cover the "depleted deuterium" story from different angles.

Monday, September 04, 2006

What I Did Last Night

Last night after dinner, the boys did their standard race to the computer, but this one resulted in a little more contact than normal -- DeepDiver's foot ended up driving quite forcefully into one of the kitchen cabinets. Everyone knows that stubbing your toe is very painful, but this was a little more than the average stubbing. Those who are a little squeamish probably won't want to read the rest of the story (below the fold), which has a picture of DeepDiver's toe pointing a non-normal direction.
We got him, with some difficulty, into the van, and headed off to the Emergency Room. As we got about three blocks away, the boys decided that we really needed photographic evidence of the injury, so we turned around to head back home for the camera. Here's an example of one of the pictures:

We got to the hospital a little after 2000, and after they numbed the toe, they took an x-ray and determined that he had a "green-stick fracture"; they straightened the toe (bending it around a pen, which struck me as decidedly low-tech), taped his third toe to the fourth toe, and told us to keep the toe taped for 4-6 weeks. Luckily, he'll still be able to play football. And since I'm a totally proud Dad, here are the two boys in their football uniforms (Robert is on the left, DeepDiver on the right):

Sunday, September 03, 2006

We'll Miss Him, By Crikey

"Crocodile Hunter" Steve Irwin, dead of an apparent stingray barb to the chest at age 44.

For those who were wondering how a stingray barb could kill someone, here's a picture of one that was removed from a turtle.

USS Seawolf In Yokosuka

I was very interested to see the reports that USS Seawolf (SSN 21) had recently visited Yokosuka, Japan -- she isn't expected to transfer to the Pacific until next summer. How did she get from Groton to Yokosuka, I wondered? I figured the Navy would have publicized it if she had made her first trip through the Panama Canal. Then I remembered there's another route...

The Legend Of The Midnight EOOW

I just got back today from taking my daughter back to college, which means I drove through the part of Idaho I lived in when I was stationed at the Naval Reactors Facility at what is now known as the Idaho National Laboratory. As I was driving down I-15 between Blackfoot and Pocatello, and wondering how many times I'd ridden down that road before, I started thinking about my experiences at "The Site". Specifically, I started thinking about The Midnight EOOW.

The Midnight EOOW wasn't just one person -- it was a good portion of the officer students that were going through "prototype" training in Idaho. What made Idaho different from the other prototype sites was the distance you had to travel to get back to where you were living -- unless you lived in Blackfoot (which no one did) it was at least 75 minutes on the bus each way. On top of the 12 hour days that students did, students were frequently expected to put in extra time -- the dreaded "plus fours". When you did that, it didn't make sense to ride the bus home, so they provided a bunkroom for students to sleep in. There was a separate bunkroom for officers; someone not familiar with the Nuclear Navy might think this was just because officers are always supposed to sleep in quarters away from enlisted men -- the "9 man" bunkroom on LA-class boats is proof that this isn't a requirement. The real reason they provided a separate officer bunkroom was so the enlisted guys wouldn't laugh at The Midnight EOOW.

What made someone a "Midnight EOOW"? Well, as the officer students started standing watch in Maneuvering, it was a pretty intense learning experience. You had to stand some number of training watches prior to a "Final Evaluated Watch", which was a make-or-break casualty period in which the student was evaluated by a board of two instructors and a Naval Reactors guy. The process was so intense that the young Ensigns would literally spend each night dreaming of standing watch in Maneuvering. Those with a tendency to talk in their sleep would start screaming out orders in the bunkroom, much to the amusement (and annoyance) of everyone else in there. These were the Midnight EOOWs -- some say that, as you're driving down the highway past the now decommissioned NRF, you can still hear their cries on a cold, windless night: "Very Well, Electrical Operator!"

Saturday, September 02, 2006

In Boulder, They Can Hear The Laughter All The Way From Lincoln And Boise

Montana State 19, Colorado 10.