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.)

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Happy Halloween!

As I've demonstrated before, I really like kitschy, gaudy, really tasteless holiday lawn art. This year I added to my Halloween collection by getting an 8' inflatable haunted pirate ship. Here's my house all ready for Halloween:

If you're in SW Meridian tomorrow night, feel free to stop by! Also, anyone who has any suggestions on how to anchor my inflatable Santa onto my wood shake roof, I'd love to hear from you by Thanksgiving.

Update 1740 31 Oct: Here's our pumpkin:

I like "Cannibalistic Pumpkin" even better than the "Puking Pumpkin" we did last year.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Submarine Surfacing Through Ice

Have you ever actually seen a submarine surfacing through the ice? If not, check out this video:

While the title of the video says it's a U.S. submarine, it's actually HMS Tireless from earlier this year; the video shown above looks like it was pulled from this longer video. No matter who it is, it's still pretty cool.

Red State Vs. Blue State

As the national political scene heats up entering 2008, expect a repeat of the "Blue Staters are smarter than Red Staters" rhetoric we heard in 2004. If you're arguing with someone online, and they try to tell you that Blue States are "smarter", just show them this picture:

For those interested in what might have happened if the BoSox fan on the ground had actually ignited her stream of WD-40 while the other fan was still in the area, check out this page.

USS Connecticut In Subic Bay

Here's a picture of the crew of my old boat USS Connecticut (SSN 22) doing a stores load in Subic Bay, Philippines:

You can do a lot of things with this picture. You can go to the hi-res version and check out all the ways a Seawolf-class submarine sail is different from the other boats, you can reminisce about your favorite stores loads (including your favorite boxes to "float test", like the rabbit or brussels sprouts), or just share your best stories of liberty in Subic Bay. (For any family members reading this, I'd like to point out in advance that I never visited Subic Bay, so I never participated in any of the described debauchery.)

Monday, October 29, 2007

Stopping Piracy The Old-Fashioned Way

Having a nominal Somali government that invites us inside the 12 nm limit seems to be a good way to stop piracy in the Horn of Africa, but sometimes it just takes the old American standby, "concentrated application of superior firepower".
A U.S. Navy warship fired on and sank two skiffs used by pirates Sunday to hijack a merchant vessel off the coast of Somalia, U.S. officials said Monday.
The USS Porter responded to a distress call from the merchant vessel carrying benzene, the officials said. Sunday's shooting took place in international waters, they said...
...The officials said that when the Porter fired on the skiffs tied up to the merchant vessel, it was not known the ship was filled with highly flammable benzene.
It's a good thing the gunners on the Porter shot accurately -- those coastal gas carriers in that part of the world don't have very thick hulls. It would have been somewhat embarrassing to have to announce that we had accidentally destroyed the merchant in order to save it...

...on the other hand, I really like the concept of pirates and terrorists being lit up by a CWIS in surface mode.

Update 2204 29 Oct: It turns out the skiffs destroyed by the Porter were empty, since the pirates had already taken over the ship. USS Arleigh Burke (DDG 51) is now in pursuit inside Somali waters. Hopefully we'll get a good ending to this story.

Update 1001 30 Oct: Reports are sketchy, but it appears that the crew of the merchant, which may be North Korean, have regained control of their vessel from the pirates. No word yet on the pirates' fate.

Update 1424 30 Oct: Now I'm all confused. It now appears that there are two merchants, one of which freed themselves from the pirates (killing some), and another that is being chased by a destroyer.

Update 1605 30 Oct: Here's a Navy photo of one of the burning skiffs, sunk by 25mm fire.

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Why I Love College Football

Check out this video (hopefully it hasn't been pulled yet) of the last play of the game between NCAA Div. III teams Trinity University and Millsap College:

Fifteen laterals, seven different players carried the ball, all in one play lasting over 45 seconds, with no penalties -- amazing.

Outraged Canadians Are Funny

The story out today that a U.S. promotional video, produced by Disney and designed to be used to convince people to visit America, includes a shot of the Canadian part of Niagara Falls is sure to elicit lots of complaints from our neighbors north of the border. Whether it's protests at submarine trips through the Northwest Passage or wondering why people don't like their traditional baby seal hunts, Canadians are quick to take offense at what they feel are any American slights. These protests frequently take the form of "We're not Americans, OK, buddy! This is aboot our national sovereignty! Americans don't even know we're a different country!"

Here's the deal -- essentially all Americans do recognize that our Canadian allies are from a different country. It's only because they spin up so easily -- and so amusingly -- that you hear Americans tell a Canadian, "But, I thought Canada was part of Maine (or Minnesota, or Montana, depending on where they are)," or ask them if they have a moose in their outhouse.

I know you're probably saying to yourself, "Sure, Bubblehead, we all agree that outraged Canadians are funny, but aren't tin-foil hatters even funnier?" The answer is, of course, yes. Check out how this conspiracy theorist (scroll down a bit) ties together two Navy stories from this month into a conspiracy theory to make any 9/11 Truther salivate:
Kremlin reports are stating today that the United States War Leaders are in a ‘state of panic’ over the unraveling of their abortive attempt to attack Iran with a nuclear missile launched from the Middle Eastern Nation of Qatar during the visit of President Putin.
The Americans plan, according to these reports, was for the Russian President to be killed during the nuclear missile strike on Iran, throwing the Kremlin ‘off guard’ and unable to respond to the combined US-Israeli assault upon the Iranian Nation...
... Russian Military Intelligence reports are stating that after the aborted US nuclear missile launch against Iran, the 3-person crew of the Patriot Missile Battery in Qatar were ‘moved’ to the giant US Naval Support Activity base in Bahrain, and which after their ‘interrogation’ 2 of the US Soldiers, Genesia Mattril Gresham and Anamarie Sannicolas Camacho, were immediately killed and the third US Soldier involved, Clarence Jackson, was shot through the brain and was not expected to survive.
[US Military reports, however, on the deaths of the Patriot Missile Crew, state that Clarence Jackson shot his fellow soldiers before turning his weapon on himself.]
These reports go on to state that after US Military investigators determined that the nuclear material used in the aborted strike against Iran came from one of their own Los Angeles Class Nuclear Submarines it was ordered back to its port in San Diego whereupon its commander was placed under arrest with several members of his crew also being charged.
US reports on this incident, and as we can read as reported by the CNN News Service, state: "The commander of the nuclear-powered submarine USS Hampton has been relieved of his command amid an inquiry into misconduct by crew members...
I wish I could make up stuff this good...

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Movie Reviews: "Dan In Real Life" And "Across The Universe"

Yesterday was Day 3 of my "only work one of the next 10 days" stretch that my shiftwork schedule and a couple strategically-taken days of vacation has afforded me. I decided to make yesterday my "movie day", and went to two movies I've been wanting to see. I ended up liking one of them.

For the afternoon matinee, I saw "Across The Universe", the Beatles / hippie musical that's gotten some really good reviews. It started off pretty good -- seeing "I Wanna Hold Your Hand" sung as a dirge of longing for unrequited lesbian cheerleader love was quite an interesting take on the song, and the movie moved along nicely in introducing the characters. Then Bono showed up as a Ken Kesey-like character who sang "I Am The Walrus" and spiked the punch with LSD, and the movie quickly went downhill -- it's like the director and everyone else started taking acid so they could "connect" with the characters, and by the end of the movie I was really bored; not even seeing everyone involved desperately trying to show how the hippie lifestyle was so amazing fall flat on their face in the attempt interested me. The movie is basically "Hair" with better music but a more ridiculous storyline. I give it 2 unnecessary acid montages out of five, and don't recommend it to any teenage sons looking for a good date movie. (Absent the really good music, this movie would have gotten "the finger".)

A couple hours later, I was back at the theater to see the new Steve Carell movie "Dan In Real Life". I liked Carell on The Daily Show, and love him in "The Office", but I haven't really been that impressed by his movies to date. I was really afraid, from watching the previews, that this was going to be one of those "comic actor trying to prove he can be a dramatic actor" movies, but I was surprised. Not because Carell doesn't prove that he's actually a good actor (he is) but because the movie actually succeeded in being heart-warming and funny at the same time. I really cared about the characters, and found myself wanting to give advice to the screen. If you're a parent of teenagers, you'll see lots of things in this movie with which you can identify. While teenage fans of Steve Carell might not like it as much, I highly recommend it to parents. I give it 4 over-protective Dads out of five.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

USS Hampton CO Relieved

For the 4th time this year, an attack submarine CO has been relieved of command early -- but this one wasn't unexpected. From the AP wire report:
The commanding officer of the nuclear-powered submarine USS Hampton was relieved of his duty Thursday because of a loss of confidence in his leadership, the Navy said.
Cmdr. Michael B. Portland was relieved of duty after a U.S. Navy investigation found the ship failed to do daily safety checks on its nuclear reactor for a month and falsified records to cover up the omission...
...Portland's dismissal as commander is effective immediately. Myrick said Portland will be temporarily assigned to squadron duty and the Hampton will not conduct operations until the Navy can confirm the operational standards have been met. Myrick said at no time was the submarine conducting unsafe operations.
"He has not been charged with any offense nor has he received non-judicial punishment," Myrick said...
...Portland is the fourth commanding officer of a submarine to be relieved of duty this year. The other three, who were relieved for various unrelated actions, were: Cmdr. Edwin Ruff of the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul, Cmdr. Matthew Weingart of the USS Newport News and Cmdr. William Schwalm of the USS Helena.
[Links above are to my posts on the firings of those COs.] Navy Times has more on the "no band" relief (as opposed to one with a Navy band and nice uniforms, like this one), which includes the information that the new CO, CDR William Houston, had been already slated to relieve CDR Portland next month. (The AP article says that CDR Houston had previously been assigned as a "special assistant to the Director of the Naval Reactors", which probably means "Line Locker".)

So, with the CO, along the original ELTs who messed up, now off the boat, it'll be interesting to see if any intermediate levels of the boat's chain of command suffer any blowback.

Update 0858 26 Oct: From my referrer's log, a couple of other interesting sites are discussing this as well. Fark apparently has way more submariners posting there than I had realized, and head over to Corrente to see what happens when nukes invade a fairly popular blog run by liberals who try to address a technical submarine issue. (Sample quote about the attack submarine Hampton by a "progressive" at Corrente about why the incident happened: "Word got through the grapevine that a strike on Iran was in the works, and so they tried to scuttle the Boomer surreptitiously rather than be forced to murder hundreds of thousands of innocent people.")

By the way, if you head over to Corrente, please don't try to educate them about the chemical that "keeps the reactor shut down" and how it clearly doesn't apply in this case. The poster's husband was apparently a coner, and tried to remember something about nuke chemistry, but only succeeded in making himself look foolish.

Can We All Get Along?

In recent days in the Idaho political blogosphere, there's been a discussion about civility in politics -- specifically, if a reporter gets an interview with a controversial Congressman, is he not "doing his job" if he treats said Congressman respectfully? Two viewpoints on this can be found from the reporter and the critics at the highlighted links. My personal opinion is that we need more civility in politics -- something that's been lacking recently, both in Idaho and on the national stage. Now, I've been guilty of mocking and belittling Congressman Sali, but that doesn't mean that I won't treat him respectfully when I have the occasion to interact with him personally. It just doesn't do anyone any good to cut off lines of communication.

To that end, I had a nice discussion over hot chocolate and smoothies with Congressman Bill Sali's Communications Director, Wayne Hoffman, yesterday afternoon. Here's a picture:

Mr. Hoffman had E-mailed me to find out why a lifelong Republican like myself isn't supporting his boss, and why I now consider myself a Democrat when it comes to state politics. We courteously exchanged views for about an hour, and while neither of us changed the other's mind, it was a good chance for both of us to better understand where the other camp is coming from. (As an added bonus, I was able to put in a pitch for Mr. Hoffman's boss to support increased submarine funding.) Wayne pointed out that he recently interacted with Mr. Sali's opponent for both the 2006 and 2008 elections, Larry Grant, and because both behaved with civility and decorum, it was a positive experience. As a result of this personal interaction, I'm sure I'll be more likely to get an answer when I look for a quote from Mr. Sali on whatever "gotcha" (or real) questions I come up with as the campaign heats up. Hopefully Mr. Grant's supporters will realize, as the election gets closer, that bomb-throwing and name-calling aren't going to get the residents of this district to replace Mr. Sali -- it'll be reasoned discourse that convinces them that having a moderate voice in the majority party in the House will do the most good for the state.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Now That's A Long Deployment!

Welcome home to the lads of HMS Sceptre (S 104), who returned today to their homeport of Faslane following a 9 ( ! ) month deployment that took her to Australia and South Africa as well as the Arabian Gulf. Here's a picture of her arrival back home:

While it appears that a good part of the crew only did 2/3 of the deployment, many of them did the whole nine months. A deployment that long is an impressive feat for any class submarine, let alone one that's almost 30 years old. That certainly was the dog's bollocks, chaps!

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

The Great American Nuke Novel

A new reader pointed out a "book" written by a nuke on USS Olympia and stored on Oregon State University's server. I haven't read the whole thing, but it's a no-crap book, 200 pages in total, with chapters and everything. (It looks like it has 12 full chapters, plus 8 more that are waiting to be fleshed out.) Especially useful are the appendices, with discussions of nuclear power and submarine movies, along with a really good glossary. An excerpt:
Then I got to the Oly, SRB in hand, and they said
"You have just made the worst mistake
That a young sailor can"
And, on my first underway, I knew they were right
It's a really, really sh**ty job
And there's just no end in sight
Last thing I remember
I was running for the brow
"I think I've had enough of this
And I want to go home now"
"Relax" said the topside "we all need to relieve"
"You're the newest NUB on board, and you can never
-Hotel 717, from the EM Log
It could be worth a read; the first six chapters are the author's experience in the nuke pipeline (including a stint in Idaho), so all nukes can appreciate that part. Hopefully the book will get fleshed out and get a publisher -- I'd buy it.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Two Sailors Dead, One Wounded In Bahrain Shootings

No word yet on the circumstances or the possibility of this being an act of terrorism, but two U.S. Sailors were killed and another wounded in a shooting at NSA Bahrain today. Here's the initial press release from NAVCENT:
NAVAL SUPPORT ACTIVITY BAHRAIN – Two Sailors were fatally shot and one critically wounded aboard U. S. Naval Support Activity Bahrain at approximately 5 a.m. Oct. 22. The shootings took place in the on-base barracks.
Two Sailors were pronounced dead at the scene and the third was taken to a local hospital for treatment. The incident is currently under investigation.
Officials closed the base temporarily and reopened it shortly after 6 a.m.
The names of the Sailors are being withheld pending notification of next of kin.
The fact that the base was opened back up so quickly would tend to indicate that it wasn't a terrorist attack, but isn't definitive.

Staying at PD...

Update 0853 22 Oct: An updated press release from NAVCENT makes it clear that the incident wasn't terror related, an d reports that the two dead females Sailors were apparently shot by the wounded Sailor, who then failed in a suicide attempt. Although the Navy release doesn't specify the gender of the shooter, this CNN update says that the shooter was male.

Update 1034 26 Oct: Here's the DoD press release announcing the names of the fallen Sailors, along with stories about them here and here. This Gulf News story says the alleged killer is a 20 year old Sailor named Clarence Jackon (no rate given), and says he is not expected to regain consciousness. Apparently Jackson had a previous "casual" relationship with one of the slain Sailors. Very tragic...

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Re: USS Hampton -- Someone Talked

All the stuff we've been talking around in the thread below this one is pretty much out in the open now in this Navy Times article. Excerpt:
According to one source with knowledge of the investigation, the central problem involves how often sailors analyzed the chemical and radiological properties of the submarine’s reactor, which is typically checked daily.
During preparations for the boat’s Operational Reactor Safeguard Examination, which is typically conducted as a nuclear submarine ends its deployment, officials discovered that the sailors hadn’t checked the water in at least a month, and their division officer, the chemistry/radiological controls assistant, knew it, the source said.
They also learned that the logs had been forged — or “radioed,” in submarine parlance — later to cover up the lapse and make it look as though the sailors had been keeping up with required checks all along...
...Referring to the chemical levels, another former submarine commander added: “It’s not that it’s dangerous at the instant. Blowing off the chem sample that day isn’t what’s dangerous, but the operational philosophy adopted by people who would do that, if applied to the other aspects of operating the nuclear propulsion plant watch stations or other aspects of the submarine, could be dangerous. That’s what’s scary. Besides, why the hell wouldn’t you check the chem levels? First, that’s the ELT and the CRA’s job. Second, it takes about an hour and a half each day to do it. Third, you’re on a submarine, so it’s not like you’re going to get away with doing nothing on your free time.”
The Navy had to expect that the story would get out sooner or later -- too many people are just flabbergasted at what supposedly happened. (I should point out at this time that I don't absolutely know if what was described here is what actually happened -- I've only heard rumors, and I was certainly not one of the sources quoted, even though the story does link back here.) If this is what happened, though, I think it's important to realize that this is almost certainly an isolated instance. In any division, you'd only need one guy with integrity to nip a problem like this in the bud. The odds of having 5 or 6 guys all deciding to throw away everything we do as submariners are fairly low -- before this, I would have said the odds were infinitesimally small.

So, has there ever been a time that you were the "one switch" in the chain that kept something really bad from happening? One of those "I did good, but I sure can't put this in my fitrep/eval" type of moments? I had a few (found five or six Weapons guys lowering a guy in a safety harness headfirst into a VLS tube with a couple feet of water at the bottom so he could retrieve a dropped tool, for one) but nothing like what any of these RL Div guys on the Hampton could have done. The whole situation just breaks my heart.

Update 0911 22 Oct: And here's where it gets bad -- the story migrates out from a publication that is aimed at and at least talks to people who "speak the language" and into the the general media. Distortion and hyperbole follow. Here are some excerpts from the AP story that's on the wires this morning (for added fun, count the factual errors and misrepresentations in the story!):
In the case of the Hampton, it appears from a preliminary investigation that sailors in Submarine Squadron 11 had skipped the required analysis of the chemical and radiological properties of the submarine's reactor for more than a month, even though a daily check is required...
...Other members of the squadron discovered the lapse during a routine examination required as part of the redundancy built into the system so that problems are caught, he said. The examination was done as the submarine was nearing the end of a West Pacific deployment, which was completed Sept. 17...
...A nuclear powered fast attack submarine, Hampton is the most advanced nuclear attack submarine in the world, carrying a torpedo, cruise missile, and mine-laying arsenal, according to information on its Web site...
...The reported problems with procedures and record keeping in the Navy squadron comes just after the Air Force disciplined some 70 airmen in the B-52 incident...
I'm not sure how they got from the Navy Times article that squadron members were the ones who blew off the chemistry analyses -- unless the AP writer normally covers the Air Force and doesn't understand the difference between a "squadron" and a "ship". And of course they'd try to link it to the recent Air Force nuclear weapons problems, which, let's face it, were much, much, much worse than the Hampton problem in the whole scheme of things.

Update 1142 22 Oct: Well, the story hit the front page, so now the solid contents of the san tanks are really going to get blown into the ventilation system's rotating machinery.

Friday, October 19, 2007

USS Hampton Investigation Coverage

The news of the investigation into what happened to USS Hampton (SSN 767) that caused them to get their keys taken away continues to spread -- and not in a good way. I discussed earlier my thoughts on what may have happened, and intimated that the "word on the street" was that it was pretty bad. Now, a Hampton Roads TV station is wondering whether the "Submarine Life" video that was posted on YouTube last month was behind the investigation -- and they even linked to my post that introduced the video to the submarine blogosphere. Excerpt:
The submarine is under investigation. The Navy has already disciplined one officer and five enlisted sailors, but the Navy isn't exactly telling us why. All it's saying is that a recent routine review "fell short of high Navy standards." It may be an issue with maintenance problems on the ship as they were wrapping up their deployment, but again, the Navy isn't saying.
There are also some who theorizing that a music video that recently posted on YouTube entitled, "What is submarine life exactly?" may be part of the controversy. It was made by a Hampton crew member on the recent deployment and it's fun pictures of the crew joking around together. The worst thing we saw on the video was someone giving the middle finger and slapping someone on the butt. But several blog sites on the internet are wondering whether this music video has something to do with the investigation.
Submarines are very serious about their security. When NewsChannel 3 photographers are on board the subs, the Navy is extremely particular about what we can take video of. But again, the Navy won't say if that video has anything to do with the trouble the sub is in. Again, they'll only say it's "issues" that they're looking into. We'll keep you posted.
I sure hope they're not thinking that TSSBP was one of the "blog sites" wondering whether the video had something to do with the investigation; some commenters here did -- and it was a reasonable supposition -- but I've heard from "the street" that the video definitely wasn't the reason for the initial investigation. Now, I suppose it's possible that, as the investigation expands to the "crawl up their buttholes and look for every possible thing they've ever done wrong" phase, the video might get mentioned -- but it sure wasn't the original problem. Another division apparently getting confused and thinking that because their workcenter name was one letter off from the people who work behind Control, they should do what the other division's name has become submarine slang for -- that was supposedly the thing that Squadron found on the inspection workup. (You submariners can figure out what that means; everyone else can just keep wondering, 'cause we're not gonna tell you.)

Update 2352 19 Oct: Via Vigilis at Molten Eagle, here's an update from the Virginia TV station, with some questions the Navy agreed to answer. Included is a confirmation that the video isn't part of the investigation... for now.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Congressman Bill Sali Answering Questions Live!

Congressman Bill Sali will be taking questions live at 2 pm PDT over at Huckleberries Online. I'm hoping my questions get answered, since in the past he's always tended to ignore my rather impertinent queries. Congressman Sali seems fairly unsophisticated when it comes to the Internet, so it'll be interesting to see how he does. I'm assuming some staffer will be typing his answers for him, so he might end up seeming halfway normal -- but his staffers are probably as nutty as he is. It'll be interesting to see how it turns out.

Update 1008 19 Oct: The transcript of the interview is posted here. One of my questions (with the snark diplomatically excised) was asked, about who Congressman Sali is supporting in other races; as expected, he dodged the question. The interviewer says they may post answers to questions that didn't get asked later; I'm interested to see if my question on if a conservative Republican supports the Democratic initiative to increase the Virginia-class SSN buy rate to 2 submarines per year gets answered.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

{ *Dr. Evil } One... Mill-i-yun... Pageviews { */ Dr. Evil}

Thanks to all my loyal readers and people doing Google searches for "Punished Sailors", I passed a significant milestone in any blogger's career earlier today -- 1,000,000 page views! This comes on the heels of my Sitemeter passing 500,000 visits on Monday, so it's a big week here at TSSBP. Thanks to everyone who's stopped by over the last 3 years.

On this auspicious occasion, I reflected on what blogging really means. Is it a way for ordinary citizens to participate in the national debate on various topics of interest? Is it the essence of 21st century participatory democracy? Is it the fulfillment of Andy Warhol's prediction about 15 minutes of fame for everyone? Or is it a way for guys to share fart jokes and give us another way -- like how cool our cars were back in the 70s -- to compete with each other. Being that I'm a guy, I'm going with the last one.

So how do we celebrate this shared achievement? I say we do it in a guy way! IdaBlue, an Iraq War veteran with the Idaho Army National Guard, has a poll up asking readers which Idaho blog they think is best (it's on the right side of his home page underneath the mug shots of Sen. Larry Craig). The poll ends today. Currently, MountainGoat Report is in the lead (with 6 votes), as well she should be -- she provides great commentary on important political issues from a progressive standpoint. On the other hand, she was a Marine when she was on active duty. Can we let a Marine beat a submariner? I say no! Interesting content and superb design shouldn't win out over in-depth discussions on "how much can you sleep"! Head on over to IdaBlue's and vote for "The Stupid Shall Be Punished" right away!
We now return you to your regularly-scheduled snark and sea stories.
Update 0946 19 Oct: Thanks for everyone's votes! The poll is down now, but I won with 33 of 48 votes cast. While this doesn't prove anything other than that my readers are the bestest darned readers in the world, I still appreciate the support.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

New Chinese Boomers

Recently, some pictures of two new Chinese Jin-class SSBNs showed up on Google Earth; now, we have a low-angle shot showing the sails of both, with the 12 missile tube hatches open on the near submarine:

Personally, I'm not surprised the Chinese Navy didn't take a lot of effort to hide these ships; after all, a deterrent only works if people know you have something to deter them with. Some more discussion on the "public unveiling" of these ships can be found here and here.

As I've said previously, I'm not that worried about the near-term threat from China. The Chinese leadership is nothing if not survivors, and they know the best way for them not to survive is to risk nuclear war with the United States. Still, the existence of these boats serves the purpose of giving us another reason to maintain undersea superiority -- in both the tactical and strategic senses -- over the rest of the world. As long as we stay a couple of generations ahead of the Chinese in quieting technology, these two boats will just be Navy Crosses waiting to happen if push ever does come to shove.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Get Thee Hence, Satan!

Today, October 15, 2007, is a day which will live in famy (the opposite of infamy) for the denizens of 'Husker Nation. Our long national nightmare is over; Satan has been fired as Nebraska's Athletic Director.

Long-time readers will know that I've been warning for some time that Satan had assumed human form and was serving as the AD at the University of Nebraska. His plan, which was obvious to me from the beginning, was to destroy all that was good and holy in one state -- Nebraska -- as the beginning of his part of the Apocalypse. He did this by firing a coach who had gone 58-19 over the previous six years, and bringing in a foreigner who would run the "Wet Toast offense" rather than the power option attack that had served the 'Huskers so well over the previous decades. This year, Satan tried to finish the job by making the school's beloved Blackshirt defense into a bunch of non-tackling dummies -- probably by putting something in their food -- and that was his downfall. The state rose up, and Satan was overthrown. O Happy Day! Now, it is our fervent hope that the state's Messiah, Dr. Tom Osborne, will come out of retirement to take the AD job (at least on an interim basis -- after all, he is 70 years old), and use it to do what is right -- get rid of the carpetbaggers currently occupying the coach's offices and bring back a true 'Husker hero to be the next head coach: Turner Gill.

So let it be written, so let it be done.

Update 0129 17 Oct: Hallelujah! Dr. Tom has answered our prayers, and agreed to serve as Nebraska's interim AD. It's like manna from heaven, except it's in the form of footballs.

Update 1944 17 Oct: Here's the most recent picture of Satan, supposedly taken on "O" Street in Lincoln earlier today:

Sunday, October 14, 2007

PCU New Hampshire Update

A reporter from a New Hampshire newspaper went down to Groton and wrote a fairly good story on the status of the fifth Virginia-class submarine, PCU New Hampshire (SSN 778). Excerpts:
That official commissioning and christening of the New Hampshire will take place over the course of the next year. Meanwhile, the ship is already "manned up," with a pre-commissioning captain and crew overseeing the installation of the many systems that will make the New Hampshire the most sophisticated sub in the Navy fleet...
...Chase is a 24 year-old graduate of Farmington High School (Class of '01). He enlisted six days after graduation and was stationed aboard the USS Philadelphia off the coast of Bahrain -- he's a nuclear reactor operator -- when he heard that the USS New Hampshire was in the works.
"I filed my '1306' the next day," he smiled, with "1306" being the Navy's "request for transfer" paperwork. "If there was going to be a 'New Hampshire,' I wanted to be first on board."
"In the Navy, there are boats and there are targets. Surface ships are targets. We're on a boat," he grinned -- a boyish grin that should get him carded in bars until he's 50. "Really though, it's about the independence. On a submarine, once you're gone, you're gone. You get the chance to do the job that Joe Citizen is paying you to do, and you do it to the best of your ability."
Speaking of the Virginia-class boats, we're still waiting on a name for SSN 780. Senator Tester from Montana recently made a case for his state to be the namesake, pointing out that Montana is the only one of the 50 states never to have had a ship named for it.

Bell-ringer 1147 14 Oct: RM1(SS) (Ret) points out that Sen. Tester may have been using some of that well-known political "truth-stretching" when he wrote to SecNav that Montana has never really had a ship named for it. Here's part of the Senator's letter from the link above:
Montana twice has come close to having a Navy ship named for it, but these did not work out. The Armored Cruiser 13 was christened the USS Montana in 1906, but had its named changed to the USS Missoula shortly afterwards...
Compare and contrast with the official Navy history of ships named Montana:
The first Montana (ACR‑13), was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding Co., Newport News, Va., 29 April 1905; launched 15 December 1906; sponsored by Miss Minnie Conrad; and commissioned at the Norfolk Navy Yard 21 July 1908, Capt. Alfred Reynolds in command...
...Following her arrival at Puget Sound Navy Yard, Seattle, Wash., Montana remained there from 16 August 1919 through her decommissioning 2 February 1921. On 7 June 1920 Montana was renamed Missoula for a city of Montana and classified CA‑13 on 7 June 1920...
So, we see that, in the Senator's mind (or at least that of his staff) "shortly" means 12 years, or 96% of the ship's total commissioned lifetime. Just for that misleading statement, the new submarine should be named "California", and all the peaceniks who are offended by that should be required to move to Montana and become Sen. Tester's constituents.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

News And Notes From Meridian, Idaho

Being that I actually live in this town where almost nothing happens (except new houses being built -- the city's population has gone from 35K to over 60K since 2000), I figured I should post about what little does happen. (Please note that I'm happy that nothing really happens here -- I like it that way.)

1) I went to the homecoming game last night at Mountain View High School (MV beat Boise HS 40-7), and saw... streakers! Three of 'em. Right in the middle of the introductions of Homecoming royalty. Looked to be about 17- or 18-year old boys. One of them fell on his butt (it was raining) and lost his sock. The PA announcer said something like, "Pay no attention to those idiots." I laughed my fool head off.

2) We have a election coming up for mayor, featuring the incumbent, Tammy de Weerd, against a challenger, James Holtzclaw. The current Mayor has a really big forehead that looks kinda frightening, and the challenger is a 10 year Air Force veteran whose website bio says that "(w)hile serving in the Air Force, I earned a medal for Outstanding Service, as well as a degree in Science". Huh? What kind of medal? Was it a Good Conduct Medal? If so, why only one? And where do you get a "degree in Science"? I'm not sure who I'm gonna vote for, since the current Mayor seems only interested in granting building permits to everyone with a bank loan, and the challenger doesn't come right out and say he's going to stop further new home construction. (As you can guess, I'm one of those people who thinks that I'm the last person who should be allowed to move into a growing city; in my defense, I bought an existing house.) The incumbent is going to win anyway, so I'll probably end up voting for the other guy just to let the Mayor know I'm not happy with what's going on. I could go to meetings, I know, but there's this really good TV show on and... you get the picture.

3) There are two other fairly well-known (for Idaho) bloggers that I've found who write from Meridian, over at Free in Idaho and at the website of Marv Hagedorn, one of my state representatives -- he's also a retired Navy officer. (Also, I think at least some of the posters over at girlfriday live here.) If anyone knows any other Meridian bloggers, I'd sure like to hear about them.

4) I've got two inflatables up in my yard already for Halloween, including an 8 ft. tall haunted pirate ship. I love gaudy holiday lawn art.

Friday, October 12, 2007

USS Hampton In New Home Port

I just realized I hadn't mentioned USS Hampton's recent move to her new homeport. She arrived in San Diego back on September 18th at the end of a seven month deployment, so her crew should just be getting off post-deployment stand-down now.

I really hope there isn't any bad news coming out about the Hampton or her crew in the very near future.

Staying at PD...

Update 2119 12 Oct: Well, there was bad news for the Hampton. From Navy Times:
The fast attack submarine Hampton, which completed an overseas deployment last month, is under investigation for unspecified reasons, Navy officials said Friday afternoon.
“During a routine review ... conduct of procedures, although found to be safe, fell short of high Navy standards,” Submarine Squadron 11 officials said in a release, provided by spokeswoman Lt. Alli Myrick.
Capt. Chip Jaenichen, squadron commander, ordered an investigation under the Judge Advocate General’s Manual, or JAGMan, after some “issues” surfaced while the submarine and squadron were preparing for a normal end-of-deployment examination, Myrick said...
...Already, one officer and several enlisted sailors have received disciplinary action, Myrick said. No details were available late Friday...
...Hampton will remain in port and not conduct operations until the investigation is completed “and the Navy’s high standards are met” as a precautionary measure, officials said.
“Right now, it’s not leaving the pier, it’s not getting underway,” Myrick said. The submarine also had completed a standdown.
Sounds to me like they got their "keys taken away" by the normal organization that does that sort of thing. Word on the street is that it's pretty ugly.

Staying at PD...

Navy SEAL To Receive Medal Of Honor

Cross-posted from Milblog Ring HQ:

As Blackfive mentioned at his place, Navy SEAL LT Michael Murphy, who fell in battle in Afghanistan in June 2005, will be inducted into the Pentagon's Hall of Heroes later this month, after his father accepts the Medal of Honor in his behalf. From Navy NewsStand:
Murphy was the officer-in-charge of the SEAL element, which was tasked with locating a high- level Taliban militia leader to provide intelligence for a follow-on mission to capture or destroy the local leadership and disrupt enemy activity. However local Taliban sympathizers discovered the SEAL unit and immediately revealed their position to Taliban fighters. The element was besieged on a mountaintop by scores of enemy fighters. The firefight that ensued pushed the element farther into enemy territory and left all four SEALs wounded.
The SEALs fought the enemy fearlessly despite being at a tactical disadvantage and outnumbered more than four to one. Understanding the gravity of the situation and his responsibility to his men, Murphy, already wounded, deliberately and unhesitatingly moved from cover into the open where he took and returned fire while transmitting a call for help for his beleaguered teammates. Shot through the back while radioing for help, Murphy completed his transmission while returning fire. The call ultimately led to the rescue of one severely wounded team member, Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Marcus Luttrell, and the recovery of the remains of Murphy and Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class (SEAL) Danny Dietz and Sonar Technician 2nd Class (SEAL) Matthew Axelson.
As near as I can tell, LT Murphy will be the first Sailor so honored since the Vietnam War.

The selfless heroism displayed by LT Murphy and his men is a reminder of why all of us know that the military is such a unique calling.

Update 0903 12 Oct: Subvet has more on LT Murphy.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Sen. Larry Craig And "In The Navy"

[Intel Source: Words & Deeds] I suppose it was only a matter of time before I found a connection between Idaho's famous Senator with the "wide stance" and the Navy -- this video (from that uses claymation Village People to spoof the Senator's toe-tapping extracurricular activity:

Idaho is so proud...

The "Equalizer"

Back on the boat, every once in a great while your schedule would work out such that you had two or even three watches in a row off, with no drills or training you had to get up for. Since a lot of at-sea submarining involved being able to function effectively with little sleep, it was always nice to take advantage of these times to recharge your body just like a very long charge would do for the ship's battery. Like with the battery charge, we used to call this type of power-nap an "equalizer".

Some people had a gift for being able to do an equalizer right -- 12 or more hours of continuous sleep. I was never able to make it that long in one shot, but I would be able to sometimes get 12 or 13 hours of sleep in a 24 hour period (like I did yesterday, shifting from night shift back to a normal sleep schedule -- 13 hours sleep in a 21 hour period). How about my commenters -- were you a "rack hound", or were you able to resist the "call of the rack"? ("Joel, come sleep in me," my rack used to whisper softly...)

Official Navy Web Site Re-Designed

Amid no fanfare, the Navy rolled out a completely re-designed official web site within the last couple of days. Being that it's the 21st century, it's not surprising that the website features an increased reliance on video on the front page. It's also not surprising that a curmudgeony old retiree like me doesn't like the redesign.

The main problem is that they've gotten rid of the good old Navy NewsStand, where I used to do my photo searches with just a couple of clicks. While you can still get new stories (like the new CNO's Navy Birthday message to the fleet) from the main page, it's now harder to search for photos. To find recent photos with thumbnails, I had to click on the "View Local Pages" link on the main page, and then select "Photos" from a pull-down menu to get my regular search. I'm like, "C'mon, I'm an old man! I shouldn't be expected to have to use a pull-down menu to get my submarine photos; it's not like I'm some YouTube-watching MySpacer who's been doing this stuff since infancy!"

Still, I expect that I'll eventually get used to the new style of the home page. I guess it all depends how the old retired Admirals react before we see if they go back to the old template.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

When Moonbat Conspiracy Theories Collide

It's funny watching various tin-foil hatters (on both sides of the political spectrum) when their conspiracy theories run up against inconsistencies that even the most convoluted scenarios (involving both Freemasons and joooooos) won't be able to explain. Today's news that the person or persons who leaked the September UBL video to the press was responsible for making Al Qaeda aware of security holes they had is one such event.

Over at Democratic Underground, quite a few of the posters had been saying that bin Laden actually works for the CIA (these are the "Bush did 9/11" types) and the CIA had made the video to distract the "sheeple" from the Bush administration's attempts to find out which books you've checked out from the library. Today's news, which seems bad for the administration, caused a rift between those who thought the story showed more Bush incompetence/evilosity (the video was leaked to distract us from whatever bad news was happening that day) and those who thought the story was put out to make people even more sure that UBL really exists. The underlying absurdity amuses me to no end.

Oh, and as far as the person or persons who leaked the video? I think they should be sent to a Federal "pound you in the a**" prison for a long, long time. Even if it was someone from the White House.

Monday, October 08, 2007

Hey, Shipwreck: The Season Finale

At last... the long-awaited 15th episode of the classic space submarine video series from Tube Daze:

If the Alien Cyborg Assassins don't scare you too much, be sure to watch after the credits for a preview of a new feature possibly coming in 2008. (I say "possibly", because considering Pat's current job, if he pulls this one off, he has a much bigger set of cojones than I do. Based on what he's done so far, I'm pretty sure that's the case already.)

Off topic: Sorry for the light blogging; I'm working nights this "week", and I'm not as young as I used to be as far as being really energetic outside of the 12 hour night shift. Expect blogging to be better, and whining to be less, by Wednesday. Or possibly Thursday.

Friday, October 05, 2007

Submariners At Play

Over on YouTube, it looks like someone from USS Hampton (SSN 767) posted a fun music video of the crew interacting in normal submariner ways during a recent deployment:

How do you know it's from a deployment? Check out their facial hair in some of the shots. In any event , it's a lot of fun, and I really hope the act of me posting it doesn't make it disappear like another funny submarine video I stumbled across recently.

Update 1349 10 October: Updated links to video.

VADM Grossenbacher Inducted Into Idaho Hall Of Fame

From Huckleberries Online, I learned that former ComSubLant and current head of the Idaho National Laboratory John Grossenbacher is being inducted into the Idaho Hall of Fame. I met VADM Grossenbacher a couple times when he came to tour the Jimmy Carter back when I was the Eng; he was always very helpful and friendly. Congratulations on your induction into the Hall, Admiral!

(As a side note, Senator Larry "Wide Stance" Craig is being inducted at the same time; I expect most of the news coverage to focus on that little tidbit. Anyone who'd like to join the discussion on whether it's appropriate to induct Sen. Craig at this time can join the gang at HBO here.)

Anti-Submarine Protesters Can Be Funny

The visit of USS Springfield (SSN 761) to Halifax is causing the ever-vigilant Canadian anti-war protesters to get some press coverage:
"Is this really what we want our harbour to be used for?" Tamara Lorincz of the Halifax Peace Coalition said Tuesday.
"There’s risks to the citizens of Halifax, there’s risks to the navy personnel and it’s expensive. We shouldn’t be spending our precious tax dollars on welcoming effectively nuclear weapons from other countries into our harbour. We shouldn’t be part of this."...
..."Why are they here?" Ms. Lorincz said. "Are they making their way to the Middle East, to the Gulf? You’re hearing the war drums beating for Iran."...
...Halifax and Esquimalt, B.C., are bound by international agreements to accept nuclear-powered warships belonging to some of Canada’s closest allies, including the United States, Britain and France. Nanoose, B.C., is the only other Canadian port where they can tie up.
Historically, Halifax played host to about six nuclear-powered vessels a year, Sub-Lt. Blondin said Tuesday.
"There’s been quite a reduction over the years," he said.
As the article mentions, U.S. subs visit Halifax and Victoria, B.C., fairly frequently; it's a good way to get a "foreign" port call when you're out doing ops during the Inter-Deployment Training Cycle (or whatever they're calling the time between deployments now). One of the things that make the visits interesting is the presence of the charmingly determined yet completely misinformed Canadian anti-nuclear activists. I never pulled into Halifax, but I did pull into Victoria a couple of times, and we were always met by the Raging Grannies, who sang funny songs. Like most hopelessly earnest protesters, they think they're making a statement, but they don't ever get anything actually changed (except they make life a little more difficult for people providing security at various places). They're kind of like the anti-war people in Congress here in the U.S.

Speaking of ineffective protesters, check out this anti-submarine protester in Scotland who had to get rescued by the very people he was protesting about:
The man, who was wearing a wetsuit, was one of four Scandinavian activists who tried to swim into the base. Three were stopped before they got inside the boundary.
A further four members of their group tried to enter the base by walking along the shoreline. They were arrested by armed military police as they entered its grounds.
The rescue was only launched after the other activists reported their missing colleague.
A spokesman for the MoD said: "Earlier this morning a group of swimmers were spotted and removed from the water outside Coulport naval base by police launch.
"In a separate incident, a concerned protester phoned into Coulport inquiring as to the whereabouts of another protester who was also believed to be in the water.
"An RAF search and rescue operation was conducted and he was found, removed from the water and taken to hospital for treatment for possible post- immersion shock.
"This individual is now in the custody of police."
I'm sure he'll try to claim that the warmongers tortured him while he was in custody. Interestingly, the article goes on to say that his compatriots mentioned that he'd gotten a long way into the base; it also said they hadn't spoken to him yet. It doesn't say how they knew how far he'd gotten without having spoken to him.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

The 2007 Weblog Awards

The 2007 Weblog Awards

Nominations are open for the 2007 Weblog Awards; they're a little earlier this year than normal. Last year, I had a lot of fun in my run as a finalist in the "Best of the Top 2501-3500" category, and my close 2nd place finish was due to a lot of help from my readers.

As usual, if you want to nominate someone, you can add a comment to the appropriate category (for example, the "Best of the Top 5001-6750 Blogs" category) with the name, URL, and feed of your favorite blog, thusly:
The Stupid Shall Be Punished
Obviously, you'll want to put in the information for your selected blog (including your own), and not just copy-and-paste to nominate me all willy-nilly.

A new feature allows you to "vote up" an already nominated blog by clicking on the "Vote Up" green circley plus sign in the lower right hand corner of the nominating comment. It's a little tricky, so you might want to practice with this one.

Nominations close October 15th, so get your favorite blogs nominated today!

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Idaho Politics: Words That Come Back To Bite You

The current national story about Idaho politics is the continuing Senate tenure of Sen. Larry Craig (he of the Wide Stance). As you may remember, he said at the beginning of last month that he intended to resign from the Senate by September 30th; it turns out, he meant pretty much the same thing we do when we say we intend to mow the lawn at halftime when our wives go out shopping -- it was a way to get rid of the pressure for a short period.

While many people are calling on Craig to honor his "commitment" to resign, I'm pulling for him to stay in the Senate as long as possible. Let's face it -- anyone Gov. Otter appoints will probably vote the same way that Sen. Craig would have, and will be in about the same position to influence policy (given his lack of seniority). What Sen. Craig provides that a Sen. Risch couldn't is much needed humor -- and let's face it, that's something in short supply in politics nowadays. (Note that I expect him to resign at the end of the week after the Minnesota judge officially laughs at his request to vacate his guilty plea -- but I can still dream.)

To me, the more interesting statement made recently came from Bryan Fischer, the state's unofficial nag when it comes to morality. Discussing the possibility of a Giuliani nomination for President, he basically threatens not to support the Republican ticket if that happens. Some of the things he says are the type of thing that it will be hard to back away from if Rudy is nominated:
Many will argue that pro-family conservatives should vote for Giuliani just to keep Sen. Clinton from occupying the highest office in the land.
But the issue comes down to this: how much value do we place on the life of a baby in the womb? If we truly believe that abortion is the killing of an innocent human being, it is difficult to imagine we could find a way to support a candidate who wants to protect that gruesome practice.
Imagine for the moment that you are living in Germany in the early 1940s, and there is a candidate who wants your vote. You like everything about this candidate, every position he takes, except for one thing: he is determined to protect the practice of gassing Jews.
There is simply no way a citizen with a functioning human conscience could permit himself to vote for such a candidate, no matter how appealing he might be on other matters.
While there's absolutely no chance that anything Fischer does will result in Idaho's electoral votes going to anyone but the Republican nominee in 2008, it'll be interesting to see if he sticks to his guns if Giuliani gets nominated. My guess is he won't -- and since his web site doesn't allow comments, he'll forget he ever said anything.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Submarine V. Sailboat

A reader let me know about this blog post from last month, which claims to have a photo of a Spanish submarine sailing very close to a sailboat taking part in a regatta. Excerpt and photo:
It's not a joke. It took place on Friday afternoon, during the 4th leg of the Vuelta España a Vela (Spain Sailing Tour), from Cartagena to Alicante. While the fleet was approaching Alicante, a submarine suddenly surfaced in front of Endesa-Ceuta. The yacht managed to avoid a head on collision but the extent of damages suffered is not clear. Unfortunately, the photo is fuzzy but the photographer, like the rest of the participants, was caught by surprise. Obviously, nobody was expecting to see a submarine surface in front of them...
As a commenter in the original post points out, it's obvious that the submarine didn't just "surface in front of them"... the bridge is rigged, and they've even got their flag up. Those of us who've ever gone in and out of San Diego (and other ports, I'm sure) know that sailboaters will try to get real close to the submarines to take a picture or whatever. Whenever we left port, it was as likely as not that we'd have to sound the danger signal at some idiot sailboater. Once we even hit one -- reported his dumb ass to the Coast Guard too.

Of course, there was the time back in 1992 that the aircraft carrier steamed out of the fog right into the middle of the America's Cup challenger race off San Diego...