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

Saturday, January 31, 2009

USS Nebraska Command Investigation Into The Tragic Death Of Petty Officer Gentile

Submariners worldwide mourned the tragic loss of MM3(SS) Michael Gentile during a field day accident aboard USS Nebraska (SSBN 739)(Blue) last September. Beebs over at beebsblog has obtained a heavily-redacted copy of the Command Investigation into the tragedy; you can read it -- along with the endorsements -- here, here, and here. (Click on each .jpg to make it readable.)

The bottom line from the investigation is found on page 9: "MM3 Gentile was a hard-working and respected member of the command. The EMT efforts were heroic and inspiring, prolonging the life of MM3 Gentile. The crew united to expeditiously surface and conduct a safe helicopter transfer while treating a wounded shipmate. The death of MM3 Gentile is recommended to be deemed 'In the line of duty and not due to his own misconduct.' "

Hopefully this tragedy will prevent this from happening to someone else. Submarining is a dangerous business, and the inviolable safety rules are written in blood. It's important that all Submariners remember that, and keep in mind Petty Officer Gentile and his tragic fate in everything we do.

Update 0539 03 Feb: Closing comments.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Kings Bay May Get An Admiral

A Department of Defense report spurred by the Air Force's recent problems with nuclear weapons security found that, while the Navy is doing a good job, we should split the "Trident Command" established in 2006 and have a separate Admiral and staff in both Bangor and Kings Bay for the Tridents on each coast. Excerpts from this article:
"That will have big implications for Camden County," McNeill said. "That means 15 or more people on the admiral's staff, and splitting the squadrons will bring more staff. We'll see the community more enmeshed with the Navy.
The report also notes that the Trident Training Facility is at 50 percent of its manning level, reduced from 340 instructors and staff to 150. The report recommends reversing the personnel decision because the cuts limited submarine crews' ability to build high-performance teams in skills including navigation, sonar and communications.
"Submarine commanders were uniformly concerned that the Trident Training Facility was near a tipping point in this regard," the report states.
Investigators also objected to the "manpower drain" resulting from Individual Augmentation assignments in which Navy personnel are used to supplement armed forces in Iraq, Afghanistan and the global war on terrorism. It has taken away instructors, the report said, but does not affect nuclear weapons security forces.
Additionally, investigators pointed to a lack of intelligence personnel at Kings Bay and noted "commanding officers at Kings Bay said they had to resort to open-source information as substitute for classified intelligence information of mission importance."
A wise old CO once told me that every decision of this type is based one how the Submarine Force uses the Flag positions they have, and whether or not they can possibly take a Flag position away from some other part of the Navy. The original decision was obviously based on opening up another Admiral slot at the Pentagon; the question now is whether the Sub Force will have to give up the D.C. spot they got, or if they'll take a spot from the skimmers or airdales. The worst possible option, of course, would be for Big Navy to create another Admiral slot -- Lord knows we have enough Flag Officers around.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Sali To Challenge Minnick In 2010

Yes! Just as Idaho politics were in danger of getting boring, beaten former Congressman Bill Sali has filed his statement of candidacy for the the seat he was voted out of in November. Hopefully he'll win the Republican primary and continue to provide amusement for all Idahoans with his blatant idiocy while losing badly to new Congressman Walt Minnick.

Maybe Bill Sali Fan will have to come out of retirement...

The Character Of A Submariner

Here's a story that made the local media that I first looked at as a "this is so sad" type of thing -- a man stops on the Interstate to help a crash victim, and gets hit by another car driving down the road. Today, this story became more personal to me when I found out the injured Good Samaritan is a Submariner. Excerpts from the story:

Police say a 46-year old Pendleton-area man sustained critical injuries Monday afternoon when he was struck by an automobile while assisting at a crash scene on Interstate 84 near the John Day River.
Oregon State Police Sergeant Pat Shortt says Monday afternoon at 3:23 PM, a white 2006 Ford Focus driven by 47-year old Juana Fortier of Portland, was eastbound on Interstate 84 near milepost 116 when it hit a spot of black ice, slid off of the south side of the freeway and overturned.
Shortt says that despite sustaining minor injuries, Fortier was able to exit her vehicle. Another eastbound motorist, 46-year old Nels Hadden of Pendleton, stopped to help Fortier.
"At approximately 3:43 p.m. Hadden was standing on the shoulder of the freeway when an eastbound blue 2001 Volkswagen Beetle driven by 18-year old Elizabeth Murray of Pendleton, lost control and slid off the south side of the freeway striking Hadden."

A former shipmate of Mr. Hadden reported this to me:
He is really in bad shape....his wife has been providing updates...I can pass them on if you like. At this point...I think he will make it...but he will never be the same.
I think this is newsworthy because it reflects on the character of a submariner. Someone who is willing to help anyone rough weather...when he could have just driven on with his own business...and in this case he paid a tough price. Nels was an enlisted Sonarman, just a regular guy. He was a hard worker who would give you the shirt off his back, I stood a lot of watches with him as his sonar supervisor.
Here's the Oregon State Police accident report. Please keep Nels Hadden and his family in your prayers. I'll pass on any additional information as it comes available.

Update 0740 05 Feb: Updates on Mr. Hadden's condition can be found here and here. Nel's old shipmate provided the following update on what people can do to help:
There are a few things that anyone can do to help. The number one thing would be prayer and just goodwill to Nels, his wife Betsy and the rest of the family. The second would be to spread the word to let people know about his sacrifice.

The doctors estimate that Nels has received at least 50 units of blood. He made a one-man assault on the platelet supply at the American Red Cross. You can help by donating blood at your local Red Cross or traveling blood drive.

There are also some financial needs as well. You can to go into any US Bank and tell the teller you would like to donate to the Nels W. Hadden Beneficiary Donation Account. If you have any difficulty with them finding the account, let them know the account was established on 1/30/09. The account has been set up to accept wire transfers.

Also, if you would like to send the family a card, (flowers aren't allowed in ICU and there isn't any room in the waiting room) you can mail them to:

Legacy Emanuel Hospital
Nels Hadden
WWICU Room 13
2801 N. Gantenbein
Portland, Oregon, 97227
I really like the idea of going down and donating blood -- that helps everyone.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Officer / Enlisted Divide In The Sub Force, Or Lack Of Same

Neptunus Lex has a really good post about his sorrow for once "pulling rank" on an enlisted Sailor over what was meant as a good-natured insult. This got me thinking about officer - enlisted relations in the Navy as a whole, and specifically in the Submarine Force.

When I was on the Carrier Group SEVEN staff aboard USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) from '99-'01, I compared the divide between officers and enlisted personnel on the carrier with what I knew from submarines. There are areas of the carrier (marked by blue tile) where it's expected that enlisted Sailors simply not go unless they're on official business. Obviously, a submarine is too small to set aside big "no-go" areas, although I guess it was frowned on to have a lot of blueshirts standing around shooting the sh*t in the CO/XO or WRSR passageways. My stateroom-mate on the carrier, an O-4 aviator, used to have the annoying habit of grabbing his collar and showing his oak leaf to a Sailor he was trying to get to follow his orders. That's something I thought you'd never get away with on a sub -- even if you wanted to. (I also noticed that the carrier frequently had O-4s performing tasks that you'd see E-6s doing on a sub, especially in Radio.) My impression was that the carrier -- and, from what I heard, the surface community as well -- had a big formalized divide between O-gangers and enlisted Sailors that just didn't exist in the Sub Force. Sure, I worked for officers who treated enlisted Sailors like crap, but these people also treated officers like crap; they were just dicks in general.

So what do you think -- are there generally respectful (and healthy) relations between officers and enlisted in the Sub Force, or am I just wearing rose-colored glasses? Do the close working quarters and technical expertise of submariners inherently preclude ridiculous separations between various ranks? Or does it just depend on the boat you're on?

Monday, January 26, 2009

Why Does The Media Always Play Up Military Affiliations Of People Who Get Arrested?

Have you ever noticed that whenever someone who has even the slightest connection to the military gets arrested, the press always plays up the military angle? You might see a story about a guy who was in the Navy for a year, got booted out, and has been working in town doing other jobs for years; when he gets arrested, the headline will inevitably be "Former Sailor (or just Sailor) Arrested on Charges". As an example, check out this story from yesterday's New London Day:
A Waterbury man carrying a Navy identification card and a “U.S. Navy Police Officer” badge was among five arrests made in a prostitution sting in Meriden Wednesday...
...The police department's incident report said that Granitto, who was a bouncer at a club at 2041 N. Broad St. in Meriden, was found in possession of “a loaded .45 caliber handgun and a United States Navy Police Officer badge and Identification card from the Groton Subbase.” He was released after posting a $25,000 bond...
...Lt. Patrick Evans, public affairs officer for the Commander of Submarine Group 2, said Saturday night that the Naval Submarine Base will not be able to confirm whether Granitto is employed there until Monday.
Notice that there's nothing in the story about the other four people arrested. Why do you suppose that is?

Sunday, January 25, 2009

SUBASE NLON Beneficiary Of Government Spending

Check out this article from The New London Day on all the recent and planned infrastucture improvements at Submarine Base New London in Groton. Excerpts:
Last week at the submarine base, construction workers were putting the finishing touches on a new building for storage and maintenance of cranes. The $4 million project has kept them busy for the past seven months. The lead contractor, Mortenson Construction, hired local subcontractors from Mystic, Waterford and East Lyme...
...Work on a new $9.3 million building for the Submarine Learning Center and a new $11.9 million waterfront operations center will soon get under way. Two more contracts, for a $46 million pier and an $11 million indoor firing range to replace the current outdoor range, will be awarded later this year...
... About 35 older, excess buildings, totaling 400,000 square feet, will be torn down as part of an $11 million demolition project that finishes early next year. Two barracks could be taken down as early as next month.
Smaller infrastructure improvements are going on throughout the base, and a new submarine escape trainer, a $13 million project, is almost complete.
Millions more could be spent on the base this year if funding for military construction is included in the new administration's stimulus plan, aimed at bolstering the U.S. economy...
...There have been preliminary discussions between Capt. Mark S. Ginda, the base commander, and Defense Department officials about whether any of the base's projects, proposed for future years, could start earlier.
Additional piers, a renovated fitness center and new weapons handling and storage areas top Ginda's wish list, but it is too early in the congressional debate about the package to say whether any of those projects will come to fruition ahead of schedule.
Wider piers are being built so Virginia-class submarines can fit on both sides and cranes and trucks can work on one submarine without interfering with operations on the other side of the pier...
What do you think? Assuming that some sort of infrastucture improvement stimulus bill will pass this winter, is this a better use of taxpayer dollars than road and bridge improvements?

Friday, January 23, 2009

PCU New Mexico Launched

PCU New Mexico (SSN 779), which was christened last month, was launched on Sunday, marking another milestone in her construction. Here's the first picture released of her in the water:

Note that she's still pretty light, in that part of her propulsor is visible above the waterline. Here's a "before" picture of her being rolled out prior to the launch. Other pictures of the boat and the various ceremonies they've held to date are available here. She's supposed to be commissioned around August -- can't wait to welcome the new boat to the fleet!

Getting Around In Seattle

I flew to Seattle and back yesterday with my wonderful wife to get my last test before I have cancer surgery in the middle of February. The good news is that the tumor responded well to the radiation, and there's no reason to believe the surgery won't be successful. The bad news is I found I was a n00b when it came to the best way to get around in Seattle.

I figured that a cab from the airport to the hospital wouldn't be too bad; it's about 12 miles. I'd heard from a resident that King County had a decent bus system (albeit with a colorful ridership), so I figured that Seattle taxis would have low mileage rates to compete with public transportation. Turns out I was wrong -- or I haven't ridden a taxi in so long that I had no idea how expensive they've gotten. Our cab from the airport, plus all others I saw downtown, cost $2.50/mile ( ! ). That's $41 for a ride from the airport to downtown at 6:45 am that took about 20 minutes.

Not wanting to pay that much again, we looked into the Metro bus system for getting back to the airport. Turns out we could board the 194 bus about 6 blocks from the hospital at the "Downtown Transit Tunnel", and we got to the airport in about an hour total (including walking and waiting for the bus) for $1.50 each. Plus, I saw not one person with purple hair, and only one gentleman carrying all his belongings on the bus (consisting mostly of a large number of macaroni and cheese boxes). Thanks to the King County taxpayers for subsidizing my transportation while I visited your fair city! (We ended up switching our return flight from one leaving at 8:15 pm to the 2:55 pm one that stopped in Spokane, so we ended up being out of Boise for just over 12 hours.)

Are cabs that expensive now in all major cities in the U.S.? And which city do you think has the best public transportation? (I still vote D.C.)

(If you liked my review of Seattle transportation options, please check out my earlier review of Seattle restrooms from back in 2007.)

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Stand And Deliver!

With yesterday's inauguration of President Obama, I've probably lost out on one of my favorite past-times -- going over to Democratic Underground and seeing the worst sufferers of BDS (Bush Derangement Syndrome, i.e. "Bush is to blame for every bad thing that has happened in the last 8 to 28 years") hold forth. I figured that seeing former President Bush fail to declare martial law, attack Iran, issue pardons to everybody in his administration, put all progressives in Halliburton-built concentration camps, or "cause" another terror attack on U.S. soil, would make them realize that maybe, just maybe, President Bush isn't evil and bent on destroying the U.S., but rather is a man who honestly wanted what was best for the country, even if his ideas didn't work out that well. Not surprisingly, they didn't come to that conclusion -- the consensus seemed to be that he wanted to do all those things, but brave progressives, in "revealing" his nefarious plans, made it so he couldn't do them. It's perfect circular logic!

Now we'll see if their ideological counterparts on the right will come out and show similar reasoning. Here's the chance for all strongly anti-Obama people to make predictions of what horrible things they think President Obama will do. (Let's limit it to the next 2 years, since the American people will get a chance to reduce his majority in Congress in 2010 if they don't like what he's doing.) Will he take away any guns currently owned by anyone who reads this post? Will he mandate taxpayer-funded abortions on the White House lawn? Surrender to Iran? Personally, I think that we won't see anything really, really controversial happen in the next 2 years. We won't see the Freedom of Choice Act pass, or see the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act. I think we'll pretty much see a fairly liberal administration led by another man who truly believes he's acting in the best interests of his country, some of whose ideas won't work out too well -- President Barack Obama. May God bless the President of the United States of America, and his country and all the residents thereof.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Meet The New Boss...

...same as the old boss. Like most Navy folks, I've been waiting around to see who President-elect Obama is going to nominate to be the new Secretary of the Navy -- I've been predicting someone who's GLBTTQ, as a way of making some sort of political statement. This story from the Navy Times, however, reveals who Obama's first SecNav will be -- Donald Winter. He's agreed to stay on the job for up to 2 months until his replacement is named. I guess the incoming Administration thinks he's been doing an OK job. [The article also discusses why he thinks it's OK to have a 3 year gap between decommissioning USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and commissioning the Gerald Ford.]

What scuttlebutt have you heard about who's going to be the next SecNav?

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Two New "Hey, Shipwreck" Videos

Normally I'm pretty good at checking out the TubeDaze website to see if there are any new "Hey, Shipwreck" videos, but Pat snuck two (!) of them by me in the last couple of weeks. From the 2nd season, here's the 5th episode:

And here's the sixth:

The last one's about Twilight. You can easily check out old episodes of the space-based submarine videos by going to the TubeDaze Channel at YouTube.

The Goal Of Our Founding Fathers Soon To Become A Reality

No, it's not the election of a black man to the Presidency, it's something deeper and more visceral than that. Finally, we're going to be able to fulfill the dream our Founding Fathers cherished the most, but never believed would come true. First, some background...

Check out this story from Britain about retired "Defence" chiefs who favor giving up the UK's independent nuclear deterrent:
Three retired senior military chiefs made an unlikely appeal Friday for Britain to scrap its 20 billion-pound ($30 billion) nuclear missile program, claiming it is unnecessary and no longer independent of the United States.
Field Marshal Dwin Bramall, a former head of Britain's armed forces, and two colleagues wrote in a letter to The Times of London newspaper published Friday that the Trident nuclear submarine system is an expensive Cold War tool that no longer serves a strategic military purpose.
"Nuclear weapons have shown themselves to be completely useless as a deterrent to the threats and scale of violence we currently face or are likely to face, particularly international terrorism," the men wrote in their letter...
...Lockheed Martin Corp., the largest defense contractor in the U.S., and Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., based in Pasadena, California, own two thirds of AWE Management Ltd. — which makes and maintains warheads for Britain's nuclear missiles.
"It is unthinkable that, because of the catastrophic consequences for guilty and innocent alike, these weapons would ever be launched, or seriously threatened, without the backing and support of the United States," the ex-military officials wrote in their letter.
The Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament said that Bramall, Ramsbotham and Beach had brought into question the government's entire justification for replacing the nuclear fleet.
"This statement debunks the myth that nuclear weapons are necessary for our security. These generals are no pacifists — they are purely practical about Britain's needs and have concluded that we are better off without them," the campaign's director Kate Hudson said.
In 1776, our Founding Fathers declared independence from the British Empire, but always felt bad about leaving the people of Britain without the freedom we enjoyed. At the time, Great Britain was just too strong for us to liberate their people. Even through the beginning of WWII, we didn't have the military strength to free the people of the British Isles. By 1944, however, we basically occupied most of southwestern England, but Roosevelt (and later Truman) got cold feet when it came to fulfilling America's true Manifest Destiny. Now, however, we are so much stronger than Britain that the only thing that keeps us from carrying out our Founder's dream are the 4 Trident-armed submarines that the UK keeps in their arsenal. When they go away... all we'll need to do is send a penny postcard to 10 Downing Street, and the Empire of George III will be ours free at last.

Expect this to be the main plot of "National Treasure III: What's On Page 47?" when it comes out sometime in the 'Teens (the decade after the 'Naughties).

Update 1042 17 Jan: I just realized that when the Brits do give up their nuclear deterrent, we're going to have to move fast; the French have been the enemies of Britain a lot longer than we have. (Remember who killed St. Jean D'Arc.) The peace-loving French haven't been maintaining their force de'frappe for nothing...

Thursday, January 15, 2009

The Submariner's New Blog

Submarine junior officer "Spinnaker" started up a new blog over at "Don't Call Me Sir". Looks like it'll be a great addition to your submarine bookmarks!

Watching The Super Bowl Underway

I've seen three Super Bowls underway -- on USS Topeka (SSN 754) in early '92 and '93, and on USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) in 2000. On the submarine, we surfaced, and the RMs were able to tune the Type 18 'scope to pick up the station in Tijuana as we were steaming off the coast of San Diego; on the carrier, we normally got the Armed Forces network by satellite.

Navy Times is reporting that the military now has a better way now of getting live TV out to remote locations. Excerpts:
On Super Bowl Sunday, about 300,000 deployed troops nearest to civilization — or what passes for it — will be able to easily tune in to the American Forces Radio and Television Service to watch the NBC broadcast of the big game.
But thanks to modern technology, as many as 50,000 service members deployed to the most remote and rugged locations — think the mountains of Afghanistan, or a submerged submarine — also will be able to catch the big game.
The remote-areas feed comes courtesy of the same Raytheon system that carries classified big-bandwidth operational and intelligence data and, to some locations, distance-learning classes. Raytheon has partnered with the Air Force, which manages daily operations of the Global Broadcast Service, to carry the Super Bowl on its fast-growing third satellite channel that provides morale services, such as 24-hour access to CNN.
And before you ask: The game broadcast won’t interfere with the transmission of vital live unmanned aerial vehicle imagery or any other intelligence data on the GBS.
“It’s a multi-channel broadcast,” said Guy DuBois, vice president of operational technologies and solutions for Raytheon’s intelligence and information systems directorate. “So we will use whatever channel is available without disturbing the operations mission.”
For the old timers out there -- when was the first time you watched live TV when you were underway?

Aussie Sub CO In Deep Kimchi

The CO of the Collins-class submarine HMAS Farncomb (SSG 74) is in hot water today after some interesting comments in an Australian men's magazine. Excerpts:
A British-born navy submarine commander is in deep water among women's groups after suggesting that female sailors would help recruitment if they posed in bikinis.
Politicians and feminists have joined in condemning 37-year-old Commander Tom Phillips, who joined the Australian navy in 1990 as a Seaman Officer.
Appointed to the 'hunter-killer' submarine HMAS Farncomb last year, Commander Phillips went even further by suggesting that the submariner's equivalent of the notorious 'mile high club' for people having sex on a plane was the 'going down club.'
Commander Phillips made his remarks in an interview in a raunchy men's magazine, Ralph, and navy officials are now scrambling to defend him by insisting his remarks were totally tongue in cheek and not meant to be taken seriously.
A preview of the interview in question is here. Dave Barry put out a great book a few years ago talking about the difference between men and guys; it looks to me like this CO definitely falls on the "guy" side of the divide. I've always like the "guy"-type submarine COs better, so I'm hoping that this guy is able to ride the storm out.

At the risk of having the comment thread get totally out of control, are any of you members of this hypothetical "going down" club, or have you heard stories of someone who is? Let's limit any possible discussion of the best locations for initiation into the club to duty day / dependent cruise types of situations. (Hypothetically, for an officer, I imagine that a Stateroom during a duty day when you're singled up and your wife comes down for dinner would be the most likely place for this to happen.)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Sub School Earns MUC

For those of you who served on the staff of the Navy Submarine School in Groton between July 2005 and June 2007 -- Congratulations! You just earned a MUC. From an article in The New London Day:
Vice Adm. Mark E. Ferguson, chief of naval personnel and deputy chief of naval operations, presented the commendation to Capt. Daniel Forney, Naval Submarine School commanding officer, on Jan. 9.
The commendation for meritorious service, from July 2005 to June 2007, states that, “Naval Submarine School consistently demonstrated unparalleled success by instilling advanced submarine technologies, procedures, and dynamic initiatives in the provision of team and self-paced learning to more than 4,000 students enrolled in more than 200 courses and team trainers.”
The Meritorious Unit Commendation is awarded to a unit that "...distinguished itself, under combat or non-combat conditions, by either valorous or meritorious achievement which renders the unit outstanding compared to other units performing similar service, but not sufficient to justify the award of the Navy Unit Commendation. .. To justify this award, the unit must have performed service of a character comparable to that which would merit the award of a Bronze Star Medal, or achievement of like caliber in a non-combat situation, to an individual."

I've written about this before, and I'm wondering what some of the new commenters think about the practice of awarding MUCs to shore stations. The two components of my fruit salad of ribbons of which I'm most proud are the Battle "E" and MUC I got from USS Topeka (SSN 754) during my JO tour -- they're the ones that I felt I had to go "above and beyond" my normal job to help earn. I'm not sure I would have felt that way had I gotten one for shore duty. That being said, I'm sure Sub School did a good job during that 2 year period, so congratulations to all the awardees.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Massive w00tness!

The polls are now closed, and it looks like TSSBP won the "Best Up And Coming Blog" category in the 2008 Weblog Awards. The organizers will be checking the voting logs tomorrow to make sure there wasn't any skullduggery, and expect to announce official results on Thursday. I ended up winning by 515 votes, with 29.2% of the total votes cast in the category. Thanks to everyone who voted for me!

(I also won some movie tickets tonight from a local radio station, so it looks like I'm on a roll. I should buy a lottery ticket tomorrow.)

Update 1750 15 Jan: It's official!

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Navy NUPOC Recruiting Video

Check out this video from the Navy on the Nuclear Propulsion Officer Candidate (NUPOC) program:

I've always thought NUPOC was one of the better programs the Navy has -- students join around their junior year of college, get a $15,000 "selection bonus" and $2,990 to $5,000 a month for up to 30 months (up from $1,000 back in the '80s), and go to OCS after they graduate. I didn't find any recent numbers, but I know that about 10 years ago about 30% of nuclear officers came in via the NUPOC route. I really don't know of a program that pays better for going to college -- plus you have a really good job waiting for you when you graduate.

So what do you think is the best deal -- NECP/STA-21, Naval Academy, NROTC, or NUPOC? And which program provides the best officers? (Being somewhat prejudiced, I vote STA-21/NECP.)

Totally Unrelated Plea For Votes: Remember to vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished for "Best Up And Coming Blog" in the 2008 Weblog Awards. Click here to vote until 2200Z Tuesday. You can vote every 24 hours from every computer to which you have access. As of Sunday night, I have about a 400 vote lead, so let's keep the momentum going. Thanks again for all your support!

Best Up And Coming Blog

Update 2114 12 Jan: An E-mail from the National Director of the NUPOC program provided some good numbers on accession percentage, and offered some interesting insights. Excerpts:

"...I will say confidently that NUPOC is the best deal available for any officer program in all of DOD, not just the nuclear Navy (with possible exception of some of the medical programs). In all honesty, one of the problems we have when we present the program at schools is that students think it's "too good to be true" and there must be some catch. Of course, the majority of college students are either ineligible or will not even consider military service, but for those who fit the profile it's the best deal out there.
"To answer a question from your post, we get about 1/3 of our sub and surface nuke officers from USNA, about 1/3 from NROTC, and 1/3 from NUPOC. NROTC and NUPOC also provide staff engineers to work at NR, and NUPOC provides all officers for the NPS instructor program.
"Most of our awareness comes from student presentations, career fairs, local advertising, and word of mouth, but we are launching a new initiative that my interest you and your fellow bloggers: A naval nuclear propulsion micro website and facebook fan page. The site will be up at the end of February..."

I'll be really interested to check out those new web sites when they come on line.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bored This Weekend?

If you've finished watching the commissioning of the USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77) on C-SPAN and the football games aren't on yet, why not head over to the 2008 Weblog Awards and vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished in the "Best Up And Coming Blog" category? Thanks to some key endorsements during the last couple of days, we've moved into the lead, with a 242 vote advantage over the next closest competitor. This is the 2nd closest margin among all the Technorati-based categories, so it should be an exciting next few days. You can vote from every computer to which you have access every 24 hours, so get your kids to vote too! Voting continues until 2200Z on Tuesday, January 13th. Thanks for all your support!

Update 2157 11 Jan: While you're voting for me, remember to vote for A. E. Brain in the "Best Austalia or New Zealand Blog" category; she's currently in 3rd place. Zoe frequently has some really good submarine-related posts over at her place; plus, she's one of the most remarkable people I know.

Friday, January 09, 2009

Not An April Fools Joke!

From the official Navy website:
The Secretary of the Navy, Donald C. Winter announced Jan. 8 that the next Virginia-class attack submarine will be named in honor of recently retired U.S Sen. John Warner of Virginia. Warner retired Jan. 3, 2009 after 30 years of service in the U.S. Senate.
"Senator Warner has served his country for over 63 years and has been an unwavering advocate of the men and women of our nation's armed forces. It gives me great pleasure to be able to honor him in this manner and I thank him for his support and mentorship," said Winter.
This will be the SSN 785 (expected delivery April 2015), breaking the string of 11 Virginia-class boats named after states; it wasn't until the 23rd Los Angeles-class boat that they screwed up the convention, while the 5th Ohio-class submarine had a naming anomaly; the Sturgeon-class had 31 fish-named boats until they brought in the politicians. My thoughts on the concept of screwing around with submarine naming within classes are well known. While I know that Sen. Warner served our country with honor, wouldn't a destroyer, which are named after people anyway, have been more appropriate? On the other hand, sometimes you can get humorous nicknames for boats named after people, like the "Bouncing Billy" Bates.

What do you think? Should we just give up and go with my suggestion from last April? Or is this worth a fight?

Thursday, January 08, 2009

Coming Up On The Weekend Push!

Remember, you can (and should) vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished every 24 hours, from every computer to which you have access, for "Best Up And Coming Blog" on the 2008 Weblog Awards. We haven't been able to close the ~50 vote gap by which Savage Politics is ahead of me for the lead, but thanks to all your dedicated voting I'm about 100 votes clear of 3rd place. (I currently have 576 votes - thanks much!) Looks like it'll be an exciting race through the weekend until voting ends on Monday.

If you're having a hard time deciding who to vote for, please consider these endorsements I picked up from 4 random people I ran across:

"Bubblehead is getting no special snuggling unless he wins this thing!" -- SubBasket

"Ewww, Mom... Gross!" -- Adult Daughter

"Vote for Cancer Guy!" -- Sean Kennedy, noted film critic

"You want an endorsement, old man? How 'bout you put some gas in my truck, and then we'll talk endorsements." -- Robert Kennedy, standardized test expert

Click here to vote!

Update 0726 09 Jan: Thanks to some timely endorsements from CDR Salamander, Chapomatic, Galrahn, and Ace of Spades HQ, among others, we've surged into the lead, about 40 votes ahead of Savage Politics. Thanks to all for the great support! Remember, we still need to keep voting through Monday to hold onto our gains.

Gays In The Military

With the new Congress and a new Administration coming into office this month, the next two years mark the most likely time for a change to Congress' "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy towards gays in the military. I'm torn on the issue myself; like most people, I served with shipmates who were gay, and had no problem with it. (I also served with people who weren't really gay, but decided they wanted to get out really quick and chose to use "the phrase that pays".) That being said, I understand that there are people who would have real problems living in close quarters with homosexuals.

Were Congress to repeal DADT, I would support a clause that gives everyone else in the military a option to get out with whatever type of discharge would normally deserve if they feel they can't accept the change, without financial penalty; after all, they joined the military understanding that they wouldn't have to serve with those who were openly gay. This way, you wouldn't be making someone serve "against their will" with those whose sexuality they abhor. After the grace period ends, however, they'd need to toe the line and follow orders.

What do you think? Will DADT be repealed before 2011? Should it be?

SUBFOR Names Junior Officers Of The Year

SUBFOR today announced the results of the Junior Officer of the Year competition. Selectees will be honored in D.C. at a later date; hopefully they won't have to combine their "good deal" trip to Washington with their Engineer's Exam at NR. BZ to all those selected, and to those who didn't get picked this year, remember -- it's Submarine Force tradition that the winner has to buy drinks for all other JOs on the waterfront. At least you can tell the winners that that's the tradition.

Naming The Crew's Mess

The Las Cruces Sun-News has an interesting article about the naming of the Crew's Mess on PCU New Mexico (SSN 779), which will be floated for the first time next week. Excerpts:
Master Chief [redacted], chief of boat for the USS New Mexico, said crew members had developed a list of three potential names, including the two restaurants and a name they'd generated themselves, Santa Fe Trail Cafe. They settled on La Posta after a vote.
"When asked why they voted for La Posta, the thought was that La Posta was smaller, and its atmosphere was more in line with a submarine crew's ... galley when compared to its competitor that was on a much larger scale," he wrote in an e-mail. "Both restaurants have been wonderful and very supportive to crew and the command intends to keep strong ties to both businesses."
I've always enjoyed seeing the names of the various boats' Crew's Messes; as I've said before, I think the personalization of the Crew's Mess is an important part of developing and maintaining crew esprit de corps. The crew of the New Mexico seems to be taking the naming of spaces to a whole new level, however:
"Having a name for your living area helps promote personal pride and improves sailor sense of ownership," he wrote. "Usually these areas would include the crew's mess, the wardroom and crew living spaces."
In addition to the mess, five other areas of the vessel will be named after Medal of Honor recipients from New Mexico, [redacted] said. The rooms will be marked with brass plaques.
Have you seen any other boats do something like that? Did you have a "Charles Jones Sonar Shack" or a "Jim Johnson WRSR #3"?

Monday, January 05, 2009

Do It For The Children

If you feel so inclined, please vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished as the "Best Up and Coming Blog" in the 2008 Weblog Awards by following these simple steps:

1) Click on this link

2) Click the circle to the left of "The Stupid Shall Be Punished"

3) Check out the other categories, and vote for your other favorite blogs (including A Blog For All in the Best Small Blog category and Argghhh! in the Best Midsize Blog poll)

4) Repeat every 24 hours through January 13th

Thank you very much. My kids will appreciate it, and you'll know you've made an old submariner happy.

Update 0931 06 Jan: Thanks to everyone's hard work, I've moved into 2nd place, but I'm still 50 votes behind Savage Politics (rumors are that they're working with ACORN). Vote for me!

Update 0535 07 Jan: This is turning into a really good three blog race. As of now, I'm in 2nd place, with 301 votes; I'm 37 votes behind Savage Politics, but 34 votes ahead of McClatchy Watch. (Rumors that both of these blogs are fronts for the International Communist Conspiracy should be completely discounted, IMHO.) Today's my "Friday" at work, so tomorrow I should return with more actual blog content, rather than just this pathetic bleg for votes.

BZ To The Battle "E" Winners!

Congratulations to all the 2008 Battle "E" winners in SUBPAC, listed below:

CSS 1: USS Los Angeles (SSN 688)
CSS 3: USS Chicago (SSN 721)
CSDS 5: USS Connecticut (SSN 22)
CSS 7: USS Columbus (SSN 762)
CSS 11: USS Topeka (SSN 754)
CSS 15: USS Buffalo (SSN 715)
CSS 17: USS Pennslyvania (Blue and Gold) (SSBN 735)
CSS 19: USS Ohio (Blue and Gold) (SSGN 726)
Submarine Tender: USS Frank Cable (AS 40)
Drydock: Arco (ARDM 5)
Special Category: Swamp Fox (TWR 821)

My old boats did well; USS Topeka earned her 2nd consecutive award, and USS Connecticut took over the CSDS-5 flag from my other old boat, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), who had to be satisfied with the Engineering "E" this year.

I'll post the SUBLANT winners as soon as I find the list.

Bell-ringer 0928 06 Jan: Blunoz has the SUBLANT (actually SUBFOR, but I'm Old School) results over at his place.

Update 0755 08 Jan: Here's the official SUBFOR announcement. Winners from LANTFLT are:

CSS 2: USS Providence (SSN 719)
CSS 4: USS Virginia (SSN 774)
CSS 6: USS Montpelier (SSN 765)
CSS 8: USS Oklahoma City (SSN 723)
CSDS 12: USS Alexandria (SSN 757)
CSS 16: USS Florida (SSGN 728)
CSS 20: USS Maryland (SSBN 738)
Special Category: NR-1

Los Angeles, Topeka, Frank Cable, Arco and Florida are repeat winners.

New Russian Boomer Misses Sea Trials Deadline

As expected, sea trials for the new Russian Borei-class SSBN were pushed back until this year. Check out this article from Strategy Page discussing the problems the Russians have been having with their boomer program, particularly the substandard performance of their new Bulava missile. While it's likely the new submarine will get to sea sometime this year, I'd predict it'll be closer to this fall when it finally submerges.

Another Election Already?!?

Yes, it's that time of year again -- time to vote for your favorite blogs at the Weblog Awards. For the third year in a row, TSSBP is in the running; this year, it's in the "Best Up and Coming Blog" category. Voting starts sometime today; I'll have more information when it does. As always, you can vote for your favorite blogs every 24 hours, so vote early and vote often!

Update 1855 05 Jan: Voting is now open; click here to go to the voting page, and please vote for The Stupid Shall Be Punished. I'm currently in 3rd place, but I'm getting my butt kicked by Savage Politics and McClatchy Watch. I need your help!

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Back To Work!

Now that I'm done with radiation and chemo, I'm heading back to work this morning for the first time in a few weeks; I'll work up until my surgery, which should be in 4-8 weeks. For some reason, I'm really, really excited to go fill out my TPS reports.

While I'm at work, check out this "Op-Ed" piece submitted by an enterprising Navy Nuclear Power Officer recruiter to his local newspaper about the benefits of a career as a Navy officer in the nuclear power field. It makes me want to sign up!

(Interesting note for those who get here by Googling "recovery from chemo" or "side effects of chemo" -- both times I had chemotherapy for a tumor of the G-E Junction [one bag of Cisplatin followed by one bag of 5FU pumped in over 96 hours] I ended up "violently ejecting" the contents of my stomach 102 hours after the 5FU finished up. I know it's only two data points on one test subject, but it's interesting to me that it happened both times within a +/- 1 hour period after completion of treatment. In both cases, I felt immeasurably better immediately after the "purge" of the sloughed-off dead cells.)