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.)

Thursday, July 30, 2009

College Orientation Open Thread

Sorry for the non-existent posting; I'm off at College Orientation with our middle child. I finally found the Computer Lab, so here's some links to submarine news that's making the rounds:

1) India launched its first indigenously-produced nuclear submarine, making them the 5th 6th country to join the SSN club. Pakistan isn't happy. (Notably, the Pakis say they won't be "entering an arms race", as if they stood a chance in hell of making a working SSN anytime in the next several decades.)

2) Former First Lady Laura Bush will travel to Connecticut to take part in the Change of Command ceremony for USS Texas (SSN 775). Unlike another First Lady who couldn't make time in her schedule to even attend the Commissioning of "her" boat, it looks like Mrs. Bush is putting forth the effort to be a good Sponsor. (All three of the Sponsors of the boats I was on did a pretty good job of being involved outside the two big ceremonies; Elizabeth Dole for USS Topeka and Rosalyn Carter for USS Jimmy Carter are the ones you'll know best.)

3) Commando Subs Sending Drones, Robo-Torpedos into Combat (!!!111!1!{3-2}!1!{[e^iπ]+2}!) : Nothing more needs be said.

4) Not in the news, but interesting to me: I got an E-mail from "Central Navy Portal" telling me that all my content that had linked the site has moved, and asking me to fix my links. I don't think I will, but they were kind enough to let me know all my posts that had the now-bad links:

So yes, I guess the Russians do read this blog -- or at least their 'bots do. (If you do want the new links, just change the "" part of the URL to "" in the links in those posts. The English version of the new Russian Navy website is here.)

Feel free to discuss amongst yourselves...

Bell-ringer 1906 01 Aug: Updated to correct a mistake in how many countries have built nuclear submarines. Also, here's a report about Mrs. Bush in Groton.

Update 1125 02 Aug: Here's a story about how the Indians are using a land-based "prototype" to prove the submarine reactor before installation. Sounds to me like a tried-and-true method of getting it done.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Middie Ops On JFC

Check out this video/photo montage of recent midshipman operations aboard USS Jefferson City (SSN 759):

The poster, "malemonkley", also has up another photo montage from his boat as well as an exposé of what happens "when cranks get bored". He also shot a video of some dolphins riding the bow wave.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

New Family Member For ninme

Seattle über-blogger and friend of Submariners ninme is back up and blogging after getting a new addition to their family. Stop over and give her congratulations!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Dream Shore Duty Job

I noticed on the COMSUBPAC website that one of my old SOAC classmates had just taken what I always considered the best shore duty job in the whole Navy -- CO of the Deep Submergence Unit in San Diego.

I always figured that was the best job because 1) it was in San Diego, 2) it was important, and 3) I always imagined you could go several days without anyone from outside the command hassling you.

What do you think is the best shore duty job?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Virginia-Class Boats Come Home

Yesterday, USS New Hampshire (SSN 778) arrived home to Groton from her maiden deployment, a three-month cruise to Europe. Hopefully they at least got a Sea Service Ribbon out of the deployment. The CO estimated that it was the first deployment for 80% of the crew; I'm guessing that this is fairly common for all the NewCon boats.

Later today, USS Hawaii (SSN 776) arrives in her new homeport of Pearl Harbor, just in time for the state's 50th anniversary of statehood. Here's an analysis of what this means for the area. You can read about the boat's transit on their blog. Expect media availabilities galore for years to come.

Update 1631 24 July: Here's an update on the actual arrival of the Hawaii by William Cole reporter; here's a link to the Governor's proclamation; here are a bunch of pictures. (I put in the bad grammar as a way of abusing reporters who say "USS Whatever submarine" instead of the proper "the submarine USS Whatever". Pet peeve of mine.)

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hull Cracks Found On USS Toledo (SSN 769)

From this Navy Times story:
Crew members last Friday discovered a 21-inch crack in the topside hull, as well as a corresponding one-inch crack in the pressure hull that would have leaked water if the ship was submerged, the spokesman said.
“The submarine was pierside in New London,” said Lt. Patrick Evans, spokesman for Submarine Group 2. “The Navy is conducting additional tests to determine the extent of the crack and the proper procedures to repair it.”
The width and location of the crack were not yet available.
“After a cause is determined, other submarines will conduct similar inspections,” he said.
Because of the one-inch crack in the pressure hull, “water would have entered Toledo if submerged,” Evans said.
More information is in this article, which said the crack was found aft of the sail. It's a good thing the crew was conscientious about noticing this; it would have been scary to find it underway.

Update 0946 25 July: Here's a follow-up from Navy Times, pointing out that the crew almost certainly would have found the leak soon after submerging, so the crew was never really in danger.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

SOYs Advanced To Chief

Congratulations to the Navy's newest Chief Petty Officers -- the Sailors of the Year who were automatically advanced to E-7 on Thursday. Here's the story.

I'm thinking there are three other ways to get advanced through the Petty Officer ranks without getting selected through the competitive exam process: automatic advancement to E-4 for people in certain 6-year enlistment technical fields, STAR re-enlistment that advances a PO3 to PO2, and the Command Advancement Program. I'm wondering if anyone has ever heard of anyone getting the "quadfecta": push-buttoned to E-4, STAR'd to E-5, CAP'd to E-6, and SOY'd to E-7. I'm guessing not, but I bet people have gotten 3 of the 4 fairly frequently.

Friday, July 17, 2009

USS Philadelphia Deploys

Here's a picture from the Submarine Group TWO Facebook page showing USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) departing on her final deployment on Monday:

What are your most vivid memories of leaving on a deployment? Mine are from my first, on USS Topeka (SSN 754) in 1992. We left to great fanfare, then slunk back in the next day to repair the fairing on our radar mast that had come loose after our first trip to PD. The wives phone tree was activated; the initial message, "The boat's pulling in a a few hours, don't bother coming to base", quickly morphed into "Come to the base McDonald's right away for a briefing from the Commodore". Needless to say, there were quite a few concerned wives on the pier.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

New RTC Video

Check out this Navy propaganda video aimed at making the mothers of new recruits confident that their children won't be having a hard time at Recruit Training:

I was impressed to see that Recruits now have bedpans instead of lockers; that would seem to make it more realistic. The small arms training part was also interesting

What are some of your memories of initial accession training? Do you think the change to a less stressful Boot Camp is a problem? (Personally, I loved boot camp, and wasn't stressed out at all; this was in 1983. My CCs were a couple of Filipino EM1s with great senses of humor. The first full day still feels like the longest day of my life. OCS wasn't hard either, but I think that without Boot Camp experience, it would have been a lot tougher.)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Movie Review: "Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince"

I got off work early last night to see the midnight showing of the sixth "Harry Potter" movie. The theaters were absolutely packed; we had something like 8 showings at our cineplex. My sons and their friends showed a highly-refined sense of humor by going in costume -- associated with other movies. Most were Jedis, but others came as Captain Kirk and President Bush with brooms labeled "USS Enterprise" and "Air Force One", respectively. I can really appreciate this highly-developed irony among today's teenagers. I only wish I could have appreciated the movie more.


There were a lot of good things about the movie. They made a smart decision when they decided to aim the movie strictly at people who had seen the previous films and read the books, so they didn't bother explaining things for "newbies"; this gave them more time to tell the story. The performances were generally very good. The young actors are really growing into their craft, and the adults were, as usual, outstanding. The special effects were good, as were the set design and camera work. Overall, the technical portions were great; it was the screenplay adaptation from the book that caused a problem.

At the beginning, they cut out everything about Kreacher and Harry being Sirius Black's heir; I could understand that to a certain extent, since they replaced it with a new scene that helped foreshadow the teen romance aspect of the movie (which was a little overdone, but not exceedingly so -- I have to remember I'm not the target audience, so teenage girls might have liked that part of it). The fatal problem came at the end. Here's the director's "dilemma" - you're making an adventure film, and your source material features a climatic fight scene finvolving well-beloved characters in mortal peril. What would you do? Seems like a no-brainer to me. In this case, however, the director decided to cut it out completely; I can't understand that decision at all. What replaced it was so anti-climatic that it completely killed my enjoyment of the movie, even with the very-well done previous scene of Harry and Dumbledore finding the fake Horcrux. Up until the last sequence, I was prepared to give the film a 4 out of 5. The last 15 minutes, however, were so disappointing that I'm forced to give that part of the move "the finger" quite emphatically, reducing my overall rating to 2 hormonally-overdriven snogging teenagers out of five.

Equal Opportunity Mocking And Belittling

In the past, I've made fun of moron officers who tried to refuse deployment to Iraq based on their dumb idea that the occupation at the time was a "violation of international law" despite the fact that the United Nations had authorized it. Now, I should be fair and make fun of a reserve "officer" who sued to get out of going to Afghanistan because he's a "Birther" (a right-wing cousin of the 9/11 "Truthers" who make themselves look ridiculous by spouting theories that President Obama isn't a citizen of the U.S.):
U.S. Army Maj. Stefan Frederick Cook, the reserve soldier who says he shouldn't have to go to Afghanistan because he believes Barack Obama was never eligible to be president, has had his deployment orders revoked, Army officials said.
Lt. Col. Maria Quon, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Army Human Resources Command-St. Louis, said Cook was no longer expected to report today to MacDill Air Force Base, Fla., for mobilization to active duty, according to a report in the Columbus Ledger-Enquirer of Georgia.
The paper said Cook, as an Individual Mobilization Augmentee, had volunteered for a year's deployment to Afghanistan on May 8 and his orders were issued June 9. Quon told the paper that IMAs who volunteer may ask for a revocation up until their reporting date, but that Cook had not asked for this. Quon also told the paper she could not say why the Army had revoked his orders, citing the Privacy Act.
It's a good thing our Servicepeople in Afghanistan won't have to be working for this idiot; now he should do the "honorable" thing and back up his beliefs by resigning his commission. Otherwise, it would just look like he's a coward.

(For those who might wonder why President Obama doesn't release his "long form" birth certificate, there are a couple of reasons: 1) If he gives into this request, conspiracy theorists will start demanding things like his elementary school report cards, and 2) it makes his opponents look foolish when they keep bringing these things up, which is to his advantage -- it's kind of like the "Truthers" and the Bush Administration.)

Monday, July 13, 2009

Submarine Miscellany

Here are some interesting items sent in recently by readers:

1) A reader recently went to the opening of the USS Dolphin (AGSS 555) exhibit at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, and posted these pictures.

2) Here's a photo of a couple of Russian SSNs (I believe they're Victor III-class boats) being moved on a Dutch transport. The caption says: "A Dutch transport vessel carries two Shchuka class nuclear-powered submarines to a shipyard in the Russian far east. The two vessels have been decommissioned."

3) Electric Boat will be doing the repair work on USS Hartford (SSN 768). They'll be moving to the shipyard soon for an undetermined amount of time. Good luck, guys!

4) Here's a picture a reader sent in of a swim call on USS Sturgeon (SSN 637) in the Caribbean in 1979:

I was only one subs with bow planes, so I never got to dive off the fairwater planes. Looks like fun!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

"Hey, Shipwreck" Update

Big news from the creator of "Hey, Shipwreck", the only space-based submarine video series with its own Wikipedia page. First of all, Episode 2-08 has been released, which features some administrative notes along with a return of the Sailor-to English Translator:

Here's an entry on his website that explains what will be happening. The biggest news is that "Hey, Shipwreck" will be ending with the next episode, and he'll be starting a new video series based on a modern submarine called simply "Tube Daze". It will also "feature two coners standing watch topside trying to stay awake".

For continuities sake, here's a new link to Episode 2-07 about Midshipman Ops, which changed after I posted it back in February.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

USS Seawolf Profile

A reporter for Stars and Stripes was aboard USS Seawolf (SSN 21) for a week and filed some interesting stories. They include a discussion about how pop culture can pass Submariners by during the six month deployments; a feature on NUBs; a story about some interesting personalities you find among Submariners; and two other articles that familiarize non-submariners with submarining here and here. Some good light reading for a Saturday morning.

Update 1535 14 July: Speaking of media availabilities, here's a series of reports from a recent media embark on USS Toledo (SSN 769) I mentioned earlier.

Friday, July 10, 2009

New Detailing Initiative

From this story on the official Navy website:
The latest upgrade to the Navy's detailing system empowers Sailors by allowing them to submit their own job applications when negotiating for permanent change of station (PCS) orders, according to NAVADMIN 200/09, released July 7...
...While this new option allows Sailors to apply for jobs on their own, the career counselor will still retain the option to review and modify requests.
"It does not take the command out of the process because we have to review the applications to make sure Sailors apply to the right jobs for their career path," said Holliday, who verifies applicants at her command meet physical readiness standards, sea-shore flow requirements and other factors.
Before getting started, Sailors must meet Perform to Serve requirements as outlined in NAVADMIN 017/09 and 161/09 and be within their orders negotiation window in order to submit applications. Sailors can access CMS/ID online at A common access card (CAC) and a card reader are required to log in.
What do you bet that the most desirable jobs never make their way onto this online system? As most of us have learned through hard experience, the odds of getting the "good deal" for shore duty are directly proportional to how much of an "in" you have with the detailer. (Same goes for good sea duty, of course.) I noticed it's been awhile since I've discussed the submarine detailing process, so I thought I'd offer one of my experiences before opening it up for comments. When I was finishing my JO sea tour, I figured I wouldn't mind going back to Idaho to be close to my wife's family; I knew I'd have to go to the NPTU there to do this. I mentioned this to the detailer, but he said that NPTU Idaho was shutting down and they weren't sending anyone else there. "But, since you're a prototype volunteer..." he said next, and I knew I was screwed. He said that the advantage of going to NPTU staff is that I would get my choice of homeport for my Department Head tour. Figuring it would be worth spending 2 years in Charleston for the chance to spend 3 more years in San Diego further down the line, I agreed to "accept" the orders. (A quote from my LCC when my class was getting their first orders at NPTU when I was enlisted: "Who cares if you don't like where you're going? Why do you think they call them orders?")

Fast-forward two years: I call the DH detailer at PERS-42, and first thing I mention the "guarantee" I had. First thing he says is, "Did you get it in writing?". No, I tell him, I didn't have to, because it was in the BUPERS magazine and everything. Sorry, he says, if I didn't get it in writing, it doesn't count. I ended up going to NewCon Eng in Groton without any discussion of it with me beforehand, so at SOAC I asked my classmates how many of them had the detailer mention to them where they might be going; the only one who hadn't was going to NewCon with me. And the detailer? Somehow he ended up as OIC of NR-1 for his XO tour. Imagine that.

Then, of course, I got the "bonus" NewCon Eng job as my Post-DH shore tour.

What "good deals" have you gotten from detailers?

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Local Submarine Blogger Interviewed By Boise Weekly

Here's a link to an interview (Bad Word warning!) with me in the Boise Weekly, the local free "alternative" newspaper. I got interviewed last week for their "Citizen" column, where they talk to people who do interesting things. For me, I guess they decided my submarine blog was worth writing about.

Please humor me as I engage in a bit of navel gazing to "revise and extend" my remarks from the published interview:

-- When I said "The Hunt for Red October" was "more accurate than anything that had come out to that point", I was referring to the book, not the movie. I still hold that this is true as far as nuclear submarining goes, obviously there are quite a few movies and books about WWII submarining that are much more accurate, and books have come out since then that are more realistic (mostly written by actual Submariners).

-- I admit I'm a little bit embarrassed by the juxtaposition of me talking about how I joined the LDS Church with my use of a very Bad Word in the next paragraph.

-- I was a little disappointed that the interviewer didn't mention my sons' band, Nuclear Redemption -- Mountain View High School's biggest band -- that I had name-dropped explicitly. Overall, though, he did a pretty good job of condensing a 50 minute talk into something readable.

-- When I talked about Idaho blogosphere site traffic, I was actually talking about Treasure Valley blogs; obviously, Huckleberries Online gets way more traffic than I do up in Northern Idaho. Also, I should have said that Unequivocal Notion has moved most of its content to

-- For me, the neatest thing about the whole experience was actually having someone do a drawing of me; I've never had that before.

Please let me know if you see anything else questionable that I said in the interview, and I'll try to explain myself if I can.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Submarine Supply Shortages

A while back, I posted about the "Great Topeka Food Depression" of 1992. We didn't have a Chop during pre-deployment preps, and the short-timer MSC in charge of ordering the food didn't take into account that we'd have 20 riders aboard -- the type of riders that never miss a meal (you know the type). Our last port visit before our "mission vital to national security" got cancelled, so we weren't able to pick up the stores load we were counting on after the new Chop did an inventory and figured out we were running low on food. First, we ran out of yeast, but the MS's saved the last bit and tried to grow some more. It ended up dying, but that was OK, because by then we'd run out of flour. The sugar ran out soon thereafter. During the last few weeks, we were reduced to a diet of bologna pinwheels and unsweetened jello; we drank water or "diet bug" with meals (bug juice without sugar -- horrible). When we finally pulled into Bahrain, we only had four tubes of bologna and one pathetic bag of mixed veggies left. We had made a list of the riders we were going to eat first if we got extended. Luckily, we never did run out of coffee; otherwise, I'm sure there would have been a mutiny.

Since the last port visit was canx'd, a lot of guys weren't able to pick up the various personal items they had planned to get there. As a result, a black market started up for things like candy and, especially, tobacco. A couple of smart non-smokers had bought a bunch of tobacco in San Diego before the deployment and made a killing. Eventually, that supply ran out too, and I saw the most disgusting thing I'd ever seen before -- the concept of "ABC" smokeless tobacco. ("ABC" stands for "Already Been Chewed".) Luckily, that all seemed to be used by the original owner; I don't think a market ever emerged for that particular commodity.

Do you have any humorous or poignant stories about shortages on submarines?

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Happy Independence Day!

Fireworks in this picture are from the commissioning celebrations for USS North Carolina (SSN 777) last year.

Here's a link to the holiday message from the new SecNav.

Friday, July 03, 2009

MCPON Awards Dolphins In Japan

I just got an E-mail from a Sailor aboard USS Michigan (Blue) (SSGN 727) that says in part:
We are in Yokosuka doing a port call right now and the MCPON came down for lunch yesterday. After the tour it was pre-arranged for him to give one of our new guys his fish. So everyone lines up on the decks like normal and just as he is ready to pin the kid he stops short, tosses the new pair of fish on the table and takes his own off and pins them on this guy. He then had the newly pinned guy pin the new fish on him. You could tell it was totally spur of the moment, I almost wanted to cry... A very cool day to be a Submariner and one I am sure our newly qualified brother will never forget.
There where lots of pics taken by his official photogropher so hopefully they will go up on soon. Just thought your readers would like to know what a class act MCPON West is.
Normally, I don't post stories based on a single E-mail, but this one is so good I couldn't pass it up. (Also, I got some confirmation because I know the MCPON is in Japan, and his Facebook page says to expect that a story about him awarding dolphins to someone on USS Michigan will be posted soon.)

Personally, I got my fish from my CO (He Who Must Not Be Named) while underway. Did any of you guys get your dolphins from someone "cool" or in unusual circumstances?

Update 1013 03 July: Here's the official story from the Navy website. It appears the MCPON also gave his own ESWS pin to a Sailor off the USS John S. McCain (DDG 57). Excerpt:
On board USS Michigan, West also offered his "dolphins" to newly frocked Electronics Technician 3rd Class William Earl Auer.
"My hope is that these young men will remember the day as much as I will and will pass these on through generations of our great Sailors. I'm honored that they will be wearing something that I've worn for years. Wouldn't it be cool in 30 years if someone is still wearing those warfare devices," said West.
Unless one of my sons goes into submarines, I was planning on being buried with my original set of dolphins. Based on what the MCPON did, I'm thinking that instead I'll get buried with one of my other sets and pass the originals down in case some future descendent goes into submarines.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Navy Website Has Boomer Picture!

For the first time in 3 months, the official Navy website had a picture of an SSBN; here it is:

It's a picture of USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) returning to Kings Bay from a patrol. Another picture of the boat returning is here.

Should the Navy do more to publicize the SSBN force? Or should they wait until we need funding for an Ohio-class follow-on?