Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Monday, April 30, 2007

Tenth "Hey, Shipwreck" Out

The tenth episode of "Hey, Shipwreck" has been posted:

Watch it and remember the times you wondered if the duty driver was going to make it to his destination without crashing, and learn what nukes talk about in their spare time.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Surprising Submarine Officer Detailing News!

Shocked... yes, shocked I was to read about the new CO of USS Virginia (SSN 774) in The Day:
Cmdr. Todd W. Cramer turned over the command of the attack submarine USS Virginia to Cmdr. James P. Waters III Friday.
The change of command ceremony for the Virginia (SSN 774) was held at the Naval Submarine Base.
Cramer led Virginia, the first ship of its class, on its first deployment. Waters was previously assigned as the submarine executive officer detailer at Navy Personnel Command in Millington, Tenn.
[Emphasis mine] I'm sure CDR Waters will be an excellent CO of a new, sea-going submarine -- but just once wouldn't you like to see the PXO detailer pick up an old boat going into DMP for his command tour? But, as the detailers always said, I'm sure that there's no relation at all between who you work for on shore duty and the relative desirability of your sea duty orders.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Dead Stick Moves

Navy NewsStand has two good pictures of USS Asheville (SSN 758) heading into the drydock Arco (ARDM 5) in San Diego:

It doesn't appear that Asheville is snorkling in either picture, although I suppose they could have secured the diesel before heading over the drydock sill. On the other hand, they may have done a more manly "battery only" move that my old boat USS Topeka was infamous for in San Diego back in the early '90s. It's a lot easier -- as long as nothing goes wrong. Does anyone know if battery-only deadstick moves are coming back into style?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Adam Makes A Good Point

Here in Western Idaho, many of us find humor in the antics of our Congressman, Bill "Quixote" Sali, and his habit of being on the losing ends of 397-20 votes in the House. Adam Graham, although he doesn't technically live in Mr. Sali's district, has taken up the roll of being Congressman Sali's defender in the Idaho blogosphere.

Adam suggested, in a recent post, that anti-Sali bloggers try to get statements from Mr. Sali's office to explain his otherwise unexplainable votes, and that's a fair point. So, I went to the Congressman's website and sent him an E-mail, thusly:

My submarine-themed blog, The Stupid Shall Be Punished, is the most-viewed blog in Ada County. Congressman Sali's "defender" in the local blogosphere, Adam Graham, yesterday urged those opposing Mr. Sali's votes to contact him for explanations.
Adam makes a fair point, so I'd like to give Mr. Sali a chance to respond on my blog. I'll send him some questions, he or his staff could provide answers, and I'd post them verbatim. Some sample questions: 1) Why haven't you introduced your plan to cut payroll taxes that will save Medicare and Social Security for all generations, as your campaign website said you would? 2) How did you end up voting on Prop. 2? You never did answer that question like you said you would. 3) What is your position on the upcoming Treasure Valley community college funding referendum?
Please let me know, at your convenience, if we'd be able to arrange an E-mail interview.

Very Respectfully,
Joel Kennedy

(I added some hyperlinks to my E-mail above so my readers from out of state could see what the heck I'm talking about.) The Congressman's website auto-promised me a response in two to six weeks. I'll let you know how it turns out. (For new readers, some of my previous posts on Mr. Sali, which provide some background to my questions above, can be found here.)

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Dumbledore Lives!

Ninme found the new trailer for the upcoming Harry Potter movie over on YouTube; here it is:

It looks like this movie could be really good (although I'm disappointed that it seems they'll be flying into London on broomsticks instead of thestrals). With this movie coming out just a few days before we find out that Dumbledore Lives! in the 7th book, my July will be pretty much full. (As you can see, I lead a rather boring life now that I'm not on submarines anymore.)

USS Newport News Returns Home

USS Newport News (SSN 750) returned home from the Arabian Gulf yesterday after her January collision with a Japanese tanker. The Navy Times story on her return indicates that she "transited home submerged but not in an operational capacity". It also says that she's going to be doing the grand tour of East Coast shipyards, going to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for an assessment and then Newport News Shipyard for repairs. I guess Norfolk Naval Shipyard must be full.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

USS Bonefish Fire Anniversary

Chaotic Synaptic Activity has an excellent post on the Bonefish fire and the ships that came to her aid 19 years ago today that's well worth a read.

Submarine Wife Radio On The 'Net

Wendy and Marie from had started doing internet "Talk Radio" broadcasts; you can find the archives here. They've done two shows so far; their next one is this morning at 1000 EDT. Give 'em a listen!

Monday, April 23, 2007

Passing On Tribal Knowledge

A Discovery Channel show on dolphins that I noticed while channel-surfing tonight got me thinking about the lovable critters, and what they mean to submariners. Of course, the Submarine Warfare Insignia for many countries (including the UK) feature dolphins, and while those of the U.S. have dolphinfish, we still call them "dolphins".

This being the Year of the Dolphin, I figured I should pass on some of my experience in interacting with dolphins to today's crop of surface OODs. All submariners know that dolphins like nothing better than playing with submarines. I remember one time seeing a dolphin do a backflip above the water when I was on the 'scope with the TV off, so I was the only one who saw it. My favorite thing to do with dolphins, though, was to give them a good ride on the bow wave. I've seen dolphins change course and make a beeline for my boat from a couple of miles off just to ride the sub's bow wave.

The problem is getting the right speed to make it the best possible experience for our friends. A 2/3 bell is just too slow; the wave isn't big enough, and they'll soon get bored. Likewise, while a Standard bell kicks up a good wave, that's really just too fast for a dolphin to swim for a long period. I've found that the best speed for dolphins is about 12 knots -- they'll ride for a few miles, and never tire of it.

The problem for OODs, of course, is that your track is rarely laid out for 12 knots, and slowing down off the track speed makes the CO and XO concerned and the Nav team pissed off. I found that by getting ahead of track, you could get a good 10-15 minute period of 12 knot dolphin-watching by calling down to the NavSup and telling him you were doing some calculations, and you're afraid we might be getting to the entrance buoy too early. By the time they figured out that your "mental gym" is all messed up, you've given our mammalian brothers just the kind of aerobic workout they need to excel in the "eat or be eaten" world of the ocean.

Bell-ringer 2310 26 Apr: bothenook came up with a great picture of dolphins riding a sub's bow wave:

Sunday, April 22, 2007

It's Time To Save The World

Don't call me a hero. Do you know who the real heroes are? The guys who wake up every morning and go in their normal jobs and get a distress call from the commissioner and take off their glasses and change into capes and fly around fighting crime. Those are the real heroes... I am not a hero. I am a mere defender of the office. You know who's a real hero? Hiro, from Heroes. That's a hero... Also Bono. -- Dwight Schrute, The Office

The Y-chromosome-carrying members of the Bubblehead family have been waiting patiently for the return of the bestest new TV show ever, Heroes, from an unfair and socialist-inspired hiatus. Based on the previews, the last five episodes for this season should kick some serious butt:

All I can say is that they'd better show all five new episodes during five consecutive weeks, or I'm seriously considering writing a very stern post on some fan message board!

Expect posting to be light from 2000-2100 MDT on Monday nights for the next five weeks.

Update 2304 23 Apr: "Future Hiro" totally rules.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

PCU North Carolina (SSN 777) To Be Christened

The Virginia-class submarine North Carolina will be christened at Newport News Shipyard this morning; you can watch the webcast live at this site at 1100 EDT.

More information on the christening is here. I'm especially excited by this ceremony because the mother of one of my old shipmates from USS Topeka is the ship's sponsor.

Staying at PD...

Update 1004 21 Apr: The bottle was broken in fine style; I tried to get a screen capture of it, but I find my computer skillz were lacking as far as converting it to a normal .jpg. All of the Microsoft products I use are so intertwined that they put the on-going video feed into whatever program I tried to paste my "Print Screen" image to -- even MS Paint. Oh, well, there will be pictures coming out soon from the shipyard. When they come out, I assume they'll be posted here; while you're there, check out this picture that shows the dihedrals and WAA panels fairly well for those who haven't seen them before.

For those who missed the live broadcast, the video is supposed to still be available for a year; I'm assuming it will be at the same link.

Update 1820 21 Apr: The archived video is now up at the link above, and they released a couple of pictures, including the obligatory one of the champagne shower:

BZ, Mrs. Bowman -- well done!

Friday, April 20, 2007

24 Footage Of My Old Boat

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] Last year, my first boat USS Topeka was featured on an episode of the TV show 24, where she played a Russian boomer. Those of you who missed it, or who want to see again how VLS tubes play the part of SLBM tubes, can see the submarine scenes on YouTube -- or you can watch it here:

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Museum Submarine Sinks In Rhode Island

Lubber's Line has pictures of the old Juliett-class submarine being displayed in Providence that sank after this week's storm. Rontini's BBS has some "play-by-play" postings written as she was going down, and the museum's official website has a webcam that shows -- well, some empty water.

They should be able to salvage her; hopefully they'll be able to get whatever money and expertise they need to get the sub floating again.

Update 0615 20 Apr: Luckily, it appears the museum has insurance for this sort of thing.

Pictures Of The New Russian Boomer

The Russians launched their new SSBN last week, and apparently have two more in various stages of construction. It appears to be about the same size as an Ohio-class boat -- 580 ft. long, 42' beam. The Russians are claiming that the Yuri Dolgoruky will be ready for sea trials in October of this year; based on the delays they've seen over the last 11 years of construction, I doubt they'll be able to reach that goal -- they're reporting the sub is only 82% complete now.

Anyway, here are some pictures of the new Russian sub that can hold us over until we start getting some periscope shots sometime in the 2010s.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

USS Providence Gets Around

The Norwich Bulletin is reporting that USS Providence (SSN 719) is returning home to Groton today at the conclusion of a far-flung deployment:
Providence participated in a US-Indian Sea Exercise Malabar 06, off the Indian coast of Goa, where the missions helped to strengthen ties between the Canadian, Indian and American forces.
While deployed, Providence also took part in a Japanese Maritime Self defense Force submarine competition that included other Pacific Command Area of Responsibility allies.
I'm thinking that if you went all the way from Groton to Japan and India, you might as well just go ahead and make it an "around the world" deployment; I wonder if that's what they did.

Welcome home, guys.

Monday, April 16, 2007

For All Those Suffering Tonight

[Intel Source: Instapundit]

Update 0746 17 Apr: The shooter has been identified as Cho Seung-Hui, 23, a senior from South Korea who was in the English department at Virginia Tech and lived on campus.

New Space Submarine Video

The 9th episode of "Hey, Shipwreck" is posted, featuring the return of the "Sailor-to-English translator". Also, a space nuke is made to cry. Here it is:

Completely off-topic (and not really worth a post of its own), I wonder why the Tulsa media hasn't been able to come up with any possible reasons for why about 100 residents of their community attacked police officers trying to arrest a murder suspect? I have a feeling that had this happened in a wealthier neighborhood, the press would have been trying to interview local residents to find out why they wanted to attack the police.

Sunday, April 15, 2007

On Conspiracy Theories

Both on this blog and in other places I've been known for mocking and belittling people who go around spouting theories about how "the U.S. government has evil nefarious secret plans to take away all our freedoms / kill Americans / keep secrets for a long time". As usual, Bill Whittle is the best at making the case for logic and common sense much better than anyone else could, and he does it all in one post -- it's a Whittle-sized post, though. Here's an excerpt (discussing the JFK assassination):
What military man could order such a thing? I am also honored to know many people who have served this country in uniform. To a person, I find they would try to save the life of the President, no matter how much they despised him (or her). They love the office. They love the country. That is why they serve.
There's only one kind of person that can believe a group of U.S. military officers would follow such an order: people who don't know any U.S. military officers. What does that say about how they themselves are wired? Colonel, I want you to shoot the President. That order comes direct from the Vice President!
Well, I’ll get on it right away!
It’s ludicrous. It’s absurd. It’s widely believed.
Read the whole thing.

Saturday, April 14, 2007

LantFleet Releases MSP Accident Report

Atlantic Fleet HQ (now called "Fleet Forces Command") has released several hundred megabytes of reports on the tragic loss of two submariners from USS Minneapolis-St. Paul last year. The Navy Times has a new article on what happened during the sub's egress from Plymouth, and has a video of the MSP that day that shows what seas were like.

Reading over the Command Investigation, you can see standard Sub Force hand-wringing and demands for perfection in hindsight alongside what appear to be honest attempts to do the right thing.

I'm just wondering what the investigation would look like if a sub in homeport, say moored at the end of Mike Pier in San Diego, got T-boned some day by a rogue merchant with a jammed rudder. I'm sure they'd say that the CO would have had more than enough information to predict that a merchant that might suffer a rudder jam would be going past the Sub Base, and the CO should have moved his ship to a safer berth. And then they'd fire him, and not do anything to the senior rider.

Update 2143 15 Apr: A sharp-eyed reader noticed that while the initial investigation recommended no action be taken against the senior rider on the MSP, the CSG-8 endorsement disagreed with that recommendation. Good on RADM Fowler.

Friday, April 13, 2007

What The WestPac Boats Are Up To

A reader in Japan sent some photos and stories about what a couple of our boats our on WestPac have been doing lately:

The USS GREENEVILLE (SSN 772) is currently deployed to the Western Pacific in support of the War on Terror. As part of her mission, the GREENEVILLE made a port visit to Chinhae, South Korea, in early April. Following a large multi-nation exercise, the GREENEVILLE enjoyed the tremendous hospitality of the South Korean community.
The South Koreans greeted the GREENEVILLE in tremendous style, with an entourage of several high ranking officers, members of the community, and a band.
The South Korean submarine, LEE JONG MOO, hosted the GREENEVILLE in a number of events. Both the LEE JONG MOO and GREENEVILLE crew members took part in a project at a home for the physically disabled in the Chinhae community.
The South Koreans continue to show unrivaled hospitality – a great reward for a crew hard at work in the Western Pacific Theatre.
Here are the pictures of a wreath presentation to the CO and the boat arriving (this isn't the easiest landing to conn into, btw):

USS Key West is also making friends out on the pointy end of the spear:

The KEY WEST (SSN 722) is currently deployed to the Western Pacific in support of the War on Terror. CDR Tom Ishee and his crew aboard the KEY WEST made a port visit to the relaxing venue of Sasebo, Japan, in early April. This port visit gave the crew and opportunity to enjoy some well earned rest and relaxation – while also participating in community projects.
The wardroom and crew of the KEY WEST manned shovels as they helped to clean-up the grounds of Tenshin Ryo Children’s home. The event allowed for the crew to play with children at the home, which will be remembered for a lifetime for not only the children but the crew themselves.
The KEY WEST also hosted a lunch to community members in which high ranking Japanese Navy Officers and the Vice President of the Sasebo Chamber of Commerce were able to man the scope of the KEY WEST.
Here's a photo of one of the crew with one of the children from the Children's Home:

Thursday, April 12, 2007

Submarine Officer Among Two Idaho Sailors Killed In Iraq

Two Sailors with Idaho ties were killed in separate incidents in Iraq this week. The first death announced was that of EOD2 Curtis Hall of Burley, Idaho, who was killed near Kirkuk with 2 other members of his team.

Soon afterwards, the death of CDR Philip A. Murphy-Sweet, a University of Idaho graduate, was announced. CDR Murphy-Sweet, a Supply Corps officer, had previously served aboard the submarine tender USS Emory S. Land (AS 39); according to one reader, he earned his dolphins while serving aboard USS Dallas (SSN 700) as her Supply Officer in the mid-'90s.

Both of these men are heroes, and will be missed:

Sailors, Rest Your Oars.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Let The Debate Begin

Seeing as how today is the 107th birthday of the Submarine Force, I figured it was time once and for all to settle a debate that's been raging for years: Which is the "official unofficial" game of submariners -- Cribbage or Uckers?

I've always been a cribbage man myself, but it could be because that's what the officers play. While Uckers is more often associated with the Brits, I remember seeing at least as much Uckers being played in Crew's Mess on my boats as cribbage. Cribbage seems to have a larger part in submarine mythology, mostly because of the intensity with which it was played on USS Wahoo.

So what do you think -- what is the game that you most closely associate with submarining? Is it cribbage or Uckers? Or is it something else, like poker?

And Happy Birthday to all U.S. Submariners!

Bell-ringer 0750 11 Apr: Jim C. casts his vote for cribbage. Also, it looks like I forgot about Spades, which is getting some support in the comments.

Update 0055 12 Apr: ninme celebrates the Sub Force's birthday in her own inimitable way.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Details Of MSP Tragedy Announced

USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708) returned home from her last deployment a week ago; this return was especially significant because of the tragic loss of two of her crew outside of Plymouth, England, last December.

Yesterday, The Navy Times obtained a portion of the JAGMAN investigation report on the accident, and posted some of the findings. Excerpts:
Assigned to a small boat handling team, the three were trying to transfer a British harbor pilot off the submarine near a breakwater on the way out of port. At the time of the accident, the team was on the deck and the pilot was in the hatch of the Forward Escape Trunk. Although bad weather approached — in fact prompting their departure from England — it was deemed manageable at the time, according to the JAG Manual Investigation report.
But while the three sailors stood exposed on deck, a strong wave hit the sub hard enough to slam the outer trunk hatch down on the pilot, causing him to bite through his upper lip. The pilot re-opened the hatch but the sub captain, Cmdr. Edwin Ruff, ordered Higgins, Holtz and Sowa below decks. Before they could get through the hatch, a second wave hit, knocking the three sailors into the sea.
The pilot got safely inside the submarine. The three sailors remained outside. They were rocked by heavy swells and struggled to get back aboard, but remained tethered to the submarine by lanyards fastened to a safety rail, according to the report. A shipmate went up to the deck but was also washed overboard before he could clip his lanyard to the rail. A nearby escort boat picked him up.
The sailors were being tossed back and forth across the deck. Sowa survived when a wave washed him onto the deck allowing him to pull himself toward the open hatch. A swimmer tender, Storekeeper Seaman Garrett Degler, grabbed him, cut him free and hoisted him inside, according to the report. Another sailor went out after Higgins and Holtz but he too was washed overboard. He tried to swim back to the ship but was quickly rescued by an escort boat.
With Higgins and Holtz still tethered to the submarine, water from 10 to 15 foot waves was pouring into the submarine, leaving “several inches of standing water” in the mess deck and filling bilges. It took a crew member several tries to shut the hatch, which had been fouled by the Jacob’s ladder. The submarine was maneuvered in heavy seas to keep it clear of the nearby breakwater and provide a lee for the trapped sailors. Higgins and Holtz were eventually recovered by the escorts. They were later pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.
The article goes on to say why the CO and ship's leadership were found to be at fault:
Overall, fault is assigned in the report to leadership for not correctly analyzing available information or anticipating sea conditions in their location. The harbor master, a British civilian with 15 years’ experience guiding ships and submarines in and out of Plymouth, is faulted for giving the crew “poor advice” and not sharing information about “potentially dangerous sea states past the breakwater.”
A lack of crew training in risk management and man-overboard procedures is also cited. After the accident the submarine had to continue on a 14-hour transit to its dive point further out to sea. It could not return to port because of changing tide conditions.
[Emphasis mine] There's no doubt that this was a tragedy, and hopefully lessons were learned Force-wide that will prevent similar accidents. Still, I'd like to see the Submarine Force sometime do a spot check on other submarines when they cite training as a problem, just to see if the boat that had the problem did less significantly less training than the average boat on the cited subject(s). If the results were to come out as I suspect they would, maybe the Sub Force blame-apportioners might decide that "ability to predict all potential hazards as accurately as post-accident investigators with 20/20 hindsight" shouldn't be a requirement to remain as the CO of a submarine.

Monday, April 09, 2007

DiGar -- A Crappy Place To Do A Crew Swap

When the Navy announced they were converting the four oldest Ohio-class SSBNs to Tomahawk-missile carrying SSGNs, a lot of the discussion I heard was whether or not they were going to do overseas crew swaps -- places like Guam, La Maddalena, and Diego Garcia were discussed.

Now, I've never done a crew swap, and I've only done a few PERSTRANS evolutions out of DiGar, but I've heard some stories, and it seems to me that Diego Garcia would be one of the places that submarine crews would least like to swap crews. Nevertheless, it appears that they'll be doing that within a few years, since the Navy just awarded a contract for SSGN Support Facilities in DiGar. While perhaps undesirable from a creature-comfort point of view, there's no doubt that having such a facility makes a lot of military sense -- the Arabian Sea is one of the two areas (along with the Yellow Sea / East China Sea area) that we're most likely to need our SSGNs for the foreseeable future.

A left-leaning British newspaper printed an article about the news that, in addition to some standard anti-U.S. fearmonger, has some surprisingly interesting points. It's worth a read.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Spring Has Sprung In Idaho

It looks like today is tulip-blooming day here in the Boise area; here are some of the ones that bloomed in our garden this morning:

They say that the average last frost day in this area is around May 10th, but with nothing below 37F in the extended forecast, I'm thinking it's time to put the veggies into the ground...

... maybe next week. For now, I'm watching the Masters.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Submarine Razorback Haunted?

Check out this article about the search for ghosts aboard the submarine USS Razorback (SS 394), currently moored as a museum ship in North Little Rock, Arkansas. Excerpts from the article:
"Is the submarine haunted? Perhaps. Or maybe it's just something following us around."
Up on deck, submarine director Greg Stitz says he's never had a close encounter of another worldly kind, but he has heard strange, unexplainable noises.
"There's been times standing on deck and the alarm goes off and then when you go open the hatch and go down in boat it quits, which is a little unnerving," says Stitz.
For the CASPR team, there's no question the alarm is evidence of some sort of life beyond death.
Shillings explains, "If there is no explanation for it at all and it can't physically be set off without touching something or without someone moving past it, then you've got to say well it's unexplained paranormal activity."
And while it's unexplainable for now, Shillings says it may only be a matter of time before a ghost presents itself in image form.
Shillings says she hopes to return with her team to the Razorback and spend the night. She says activity is most likely to happen in the early morning hours.
I'm not sure about supernatural forces aboard the Razorback, but I'm almost positive that the #1 HPAC on my old boat USS Topeka was, if not haunted, at least possessed by unholy demons. That thing made all sorts of strange noises.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

I'm Pretty Sure Aussie Submariners Have Already Done This

Check out this story about an Australian who proposes to live underwater for two whole weeks:
Godson will spend two weeks inside the nine cubic metre box on the bottom of a lake near Albury, on the Victoria and New South Wales state border.
Removing carbon dioxide from the cell's atmosphere and producing oxygen from algae will be the most difficult elements of the experiment, during which Godson will also undergo psychological and physical testing.
"We've got some gas monitors and back-up air supplies to make sure that the air quality stays at a high standard," he said...
... Godson is not the first to carry out such a feat, as similar experiments were carried out by NASA bio-engineers in the 1990s.
Actually, several thousand submariners have also carried out similar experiments through the years. To be fair, though, while I do suppose that Collins-class boats are a little bigger than 9 cubic meters, you've got to fit a lot more people into them.

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

A Short Quip Followed By A Long Groan

A long-time reader (Hi, Mom!) forwarded me an E-mail full of puns today. Here's the nautically-flavored one that got the loudest groan out of me:
A marine biologist developed a race of genetically engineered dolphins that could live forever if they were fed a steady diet of seagulls. One day, his supply of the birds ran out so he had to go out and trap some more. On the way back, he spied two lions asleep on the road. Afraid to wake them, he gingerly stepped over them.

Immediately, he was arrested and charged with transporting gulls across sedate lions for immortal porpoises.
All together now -- Uohh-hhh

A War By Any Other Name...

A while back, I made fun of former SecDef Rumsfeld for his attempt to change the name of the Global War on Terror to something more fuzzy-sounding. Now the Democratic leadership of the HASC is apparently trying to put the term down the memory hole:
A memo for the committee staff, circulated March 27, says the 2008 bill and its accompanying explanatory report that will set defense policy should be specific about military operations and “avoid using colloquialisms.”
The “global war on terror,” a phrase first used by President Bush shortly after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the U.S., should not be used, according to the memo. Also banned is the phrase the “long war,” which military officials began using last year as a way of acknowledging that military operations against terrorist states and organizations would not be wrapped up in a few years.
Committee staff members are told in the memo to use specific references to specific operations instead of the Bush administration’s catch phrases. The memo, written by Staff Director Erin Conaton, provides examples of acceptable phrases, such as “the war in Iraq,” the “war in Afghanistan, “operations in the Horn of Africa” or “ongoing military operations throughout the world.”
“There was no political intent in doing this,” said a Democratic aide who asked not to be identified. “We were just trying to avoid catch phrases.”...
...“This is a philosophical and political question,” said a Republican aide. “Republicans generally believe that by fighting the war on terror in Iraq, we are preventing terrorists from spreading elsewhere and are keeping them engaged so they are not attacking us at home.”
People who try to sugar-coat the fact that we are at war with people who want to kill all of us are only doing a disservice to their followers. Dems can say that the war's over at some point, but it only takes one side to continue a war.

Monday, April 02, 2007

A Sailor's Homecoming

Check out this video of Petty Officer Bill Hawes' reunion with his son after seven months in Iraq:

The hardest part of returning from deployment was to avoid crying on the pier -- big tough Sailors aren't supposed to do that.

HMS Tireless Returns Home

The British submarine HMS Tireless (S-88) has returned home to Plymouth, following an Arctic exercise in which two Sailors were killed. The Royal Navy released a statement from the boat's CO, excerpts of which follow:
I am pleased to say that the crewmember who was injured in the same incident has now been released from hospital and flown back to the UK and I would like to say more about him later.
Firstly this happened under the ice in what is probably the most demanding environment for a submarine and in a compartment above the main sleeping area of the crew and while large numbers were asleep. Within minutes and despite the front end of the submarine being full of smoke, the incident had been contained and within the hour I was able to find and safely conduct a controlled surface through a gap in the ice therefore avoiding any damage to the submarine...
...In particular I would like to mention our crewmember who was injured by the initial blast and thrown to the deck. He recovered himself despite his injuries, placed an emergency breathing mask on his face and in complete darkness and zero visibility, due to the smoke, extinguished the numerous small fires in the compartment and allowed access to the Fire fighting and medical teams. Due to the training received and the whole team effort the incident was contained and HMS Tireless was able to safely return to Devonport.
I look forward to the minor damage being rectified quickly and a return to sea as soon as possible. Secondly this explosion is a unique incident in a submarine of the Royal Navy and it is a testament to the design, construction and maintenance that despite this event and the small fire that ensued, no serious damage was done and the submarine could have dived almost immediately bar the need to deal with our casualties and check that there were no side effects for any of the ship’s company. More significantly I achieved a six-day under ice transit without incident and with complete confidence in my submarine. The Royal Navy has been operating nuclear submarines for over forty years and has an exceptional safety record and the Trafalgar class submarine, of which Tireless is one of seven, and is the safest and most capable submarines in the world.
Welcome home, lads.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

Bubblehead's Seattle Bathroom Review

As a service to my readers, I wanted to provide a report on some of the restrooms I encountered at various tourist spots in Seattle last week.

1) The Seattle - Bremerton Ferry: We took the ferry to Bremerton on Wednesday night, and back to Seattle on Friday morning. I didn't get a chance to see the head on M/V Yakima during the 1st trip, but on M/V Hyak I used the facilities during the return trip. From the CRES "trough-style" urinal to the piping visible in the overhead, this was a "head" in the most nautical sense of the word. I didn't notice any drunks or strange fluids on the ground, but it was fairly early in the morning.

The rest of the ferry was very nice, as ferry's ferries go. It appeared that there was free wireless Internet available. and there were lots of brochures available for the tourists. Unlike the last time I took the ferry, though, there wasn't a free lesbian make-out show in the front seating area.

2) Pike Place Market: This is the famous "fish-flinging" public market just northeast of the ferry terminals. The bathrooms here were scary -- the doors to the stalls were only about 4 1/2 feet tall, meaning anyone could look over them and see what the occupant was doing. I didn't happen to need to use the stalls, but SubBasket reported that the women's restrooms were set up the same way. Being from Idaho, I have no idea why they'd want to do something that would discourage people from enjoying their privacy in out-of-the-way restroom stalls in a public market filled with lots of "progressive" stores, but I guess that's just a big-city thing.

In addition to the restrooms, the market contained a few arts-and-crafts stores amongst a huge number for fresh-cut flower stalls run by older Asian women. They seemed to have enough flowers for sale there to meet the needs of the entire West Coast. Unless Seattleites eat tulips, my guess is that there are lots of flowers left over at the end of the day; I think these are the ones that get shipped to Boise supermarkets. One might expect that one could find bargains at this type of "open-air" market; if so, one would think wrong. Apparently only tourists shop and eat there, and are willing to pay a premium for the atmosphere. It was still lots of fun.

3) Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame / Experience Music Project: Next, we headed for the Space Needle, and found that the prices from the Market extended to the Needle -- they wanted $12/person (military rate) just to take the elevator to the top and look around! We gave that a pass and instead spent our $12 for admission to both of the museums located at the foot of the Needle. The restrooms at both museums were really boring -- no Queen Aliens reaching out of the stalls to eat you at the SF Museum, and no members of Queen hanging out in the last stall at the Music place. The museums themselves were a good way to kill three hours while waiting for our flight, and had some interesting stuff. Basically, they were one of those "if you've been there once, there's no real reason to go back"-type places.

For Seattle overall, I noticed that there seem to be many commonly-held misconceptions about the place. It doesn't actually rain all the time -- we were there for 40 hours before it started raining (about when we started to drive to the airport). It also turns out that there isn't actually a Starbucks on every corner; in fact, I'd say that over 50% of the corners didn't have any sort of coffee shop on them. All-in-all, it's a nice city, and I'm glad that it's only 400 miles from Boise. I'm also glad that it's at least 400 miles away. That's just about the perfect distance.

Post-script: By far, the neatest "guy" thing (other than the submarine stuff) I saw on my trip was the key to my rental car. They gave us a brand new Mazda 6, and the key was spring-loaded and folded into the clicker-thingy. When you pressed the button to get the key out, it flipped out like a switchblade. I'd be willing to pay an extra $100 for a key like that the next time I buy a new car.

Edited 2133 01 April to correct a mis-spelled pluralization.