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.)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Changes To Rope 'N Choke!

NAVADMIN 247/09 came out last week with some changes to the Navy Physical Readiness Program (PRP). It has some substantive changes, such as "Sailors Who Get Three PFA Failures Within A Four Year Period Will Not Be Able To PCS, Re-Enlist, Or Extend" and "Progress Waivers Are Also No Longer Authorized", but here's the part that interested me the most:
"Individuals failing a scale weight test shall be taped three times, with an average computed to determine actual body composition. If there is more than an inch difference in the three measurements, a fourth measurement will be taken by a different measurer."
Yes, we've done it! Now we'll truly be able to win the war against Al Qaeda! In the past few years, the Navy has done a good job realizing that way to win the War On Terror isn't to be smarter than the terrorists, it's to look better than they do in uniform. Unfortunately, it turns out that, unbeknownst to our Leaders until now, some Sailors have been getting around being out of standards by making friends with the guy who does the rope 'n choke! (The "thumb under the tape during the neck measurement" trick is one that I know has never been done, nor is the "pull the tape really tight around the gut such that the flab completely covers the numbers and you have to lift it out of the way to see the result" maneuver.) By putting a stop to this insidious practice now, we're sure to find Osama Bin Laden before the next PFA cycle is over! (Luckily, there's absolutely no chance that Sailors still won't make friends with the guy who does the measurements, and if they do he certainly won't be smart enough to remember his results from one try to the next and write the numbers down such that all of them are within an inch.)

I'm just glad we have such smart Permanent Shore Duty non-command-served O-5s and non-CMC-served E-9s in D. C. and Millington who can come up with such amazing new initiatives! They truly are in touch with the needs of the fleet. My tax dollars are well spent.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

COMSUBPAC Meets Legend

From the COMSUBPAC Facebook page, I found a picture of RADM McAneny meeting a legend -- a god, if you will -- University of Nebraska Athletic Director Tom Osborne:

RADM McAneny was in Nebraska as part of Omaha Navy Week 2009; the SUBPAC website has more pictures. (RADM McAneny graduated from Nebraska, so I know he's aware of what a truly superior human being Dr. Tom really is.)

Speaking of photos I found via Facebook, check out this photo of USS Georgia (SSGN 729) submerging after a recent port visit to Naples from the COMSUBGRU TEN Facebook page:

Great action shot! The picture can also be found on the regular Navy website here; other recent pictures of the Georgia's Med deployment can be found here, here, here, and here.

Where The Boats Are

Apparently in conjunction with the visit of USS Bremerton (SSN 698) to Bremerton, a writer for the Kitsap Sun wrote up a comparison of where some submarines are based to the location after which they're named. He points out that USS Hawaii (SSN 776) is now in Pearl, but USS Connecticut (SSN 22) is no longer in Groton, having moved to Bremerton.

The article also has what looks like a pretty up-to-date list of where all current submarines are based, for those who want to catch up on such things.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Submarine Group TEN Has A Blog

Submarine Group TEN in Kings Bay has been running a blog for a little over a month; here's the link. Most of the posts have been by RADM (or is it RDML now?) Bruner. Looks like it's time to put your bookmarkin' fingers to use.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Tea Party Boise Town Hall Meeting

The big news in the Idaho political blogosphere this week was that my Congressman, Democrat Walt Minnick, was going to attend a Town Hall Meeting on health care put together by Tea Party Boise. Many progressive bloggers (here, here, and here) didn't like the idea of a Democrat even going to such an event, feeling it would give the "Tea-baggers" some sort of public acceptance. I thought it might be interesting to see what would happen, so I went last night. There were about 300 people there. Idaho Senator Crapo joined the festivities for a few minutes via telephone.

Democrats will be happy to learn that Congressman Minnick did not engage in any bashing of President Obama personally, and in fact defended him in front of a crowd that clearly didn't want to hear such things. While Walt clearly isn't in favor of the current health care bills being supported by the Democratic Party leadership, and prefers to use the market to solve the problems, he did say he sees the need for health care reform, particularly in the case of people with pre-existing conditions currently unable to get affordable insurance.

Tea Partiers will be interested to know that the moderator and the crowd itself kept themselves pretty much in line as far as screaming and yelling. There was lots of loud applause and some fairly lusty booing at some points, but whenever someone tried tried to speak out of turn (they drew random numbers, and only those people could come to the microphone and ask questions / make comments) the crowd shushed them quite effectively. (An example was when Walt was explaining how President Obama is President of the whole country, and someone yelled out "What about his birth certificate.") Lots of Tea Partiers had what I considered some radical ideas and some fuzzy thinking -- one suggested that the whole concept of insurance was the cause of all the country's ills, and that if there was no insurance people would be a lot more personally responsible. There was lots of cheering for the concept of putting people in jail who tried to use the emergency room and not pay, but they also complained about the high cost of incarcerating people and wanted frequent use of the death penalty. Combining the two, it seemed the only logical solution to their conundrum was to execute poor people who couldn't afford to pay their hospital bills. They were, in general, big into personal responsibility. I assumed that their philosophy is that, as people end up close to starving because of no government aid of any kind, and these people start invading their homes to try to feed their families, they'd just shoot them down and everything would work out.

I was beginning to get disappointed that I wasn't going to see any fireworks when the meeting ended, and then it happened -- the "Truthers" ("Israel did it" sub-division) showed up. One was kind enough to pose for a picture:

To the Tea Partiers credit, their "security" did keep the Truthers away from Congressman Minnick, and were discussing among themselves how to get them out of the room. However, it seemed they were not as small of a minority opinion among the crowd as the organizers might want us to believe, because one of my son's Facebook friends was live-posting the event, and he overheard people discussing "controlled demolition" of the Trade Centers before the forum started.

A couple of MSM reports of the meeting can be found here and here. Overall, I thought is was a good exercise in American democracy -- people without a chance in hell of their worldview coming to fruition were able to vent their spleens to their elected representatives, and even learn a few things (like the questioner who thought that President Obama could sign a Health Care bill that passed the House but failed in the Senate). As Walt said in explaining why he came to the meeting, these people help pay his salary, so he should listen to them. I applaud Walt for going into the lion's den, and hope others will do the same.

Update 1059 23 Aug: Alan from IdaBlue was also there, and posted his report.

Update 1834 23 Aug: Jill Kuraitis of New West Boise has the best account of the evening I've seen so far. Bill H. from Free In Idaho has an excellent report from the right side of the Idaho political blogosphere. (I actually got a chance to meet Bill and his lovely wife after the event.)

Saturday, August 22, 2009

SWFPAC CO Relieved For Cause

The Commanding Officer of Strategic Weapons Facility Pacific at Naval Base Kitsap has been fired, according to this story in The Kitsap Sun. Excerpts:
Capt. Timothy J. Block, the commanding officer of Bangor’s nuclear weapons facility, has been relieved of duty, according to a Navy spokesman.
Rear Adm. Stephen E. Johnson, the Navy’s director of strategic systems programs, removed Block on Friday because of “a loss of confidence in his ability to continue to lead,” said Cmdr. J.A. “Cappy” Surette, a spokesman at the Pentagon...
...Surette said there was no “specific issue or incident” that led to Block’s removal and that public safety was not jeopardized at the facility, which assembles, stores and places nuclear weapons on submarines...
...Block was about a year into his three-year tour. He has been reassigned and his next duty station has not been determined, Surette said.
While we don't want to speculate without any facts, we can all be happy that public safety wasn't jeopardized.

Washington State University National Merit Scholarship -- Lies, All LIES!!

We just got home from trying to drop off our middle child at Washington State University to start college. Rob is a National Merit Scholarship finalist, and had been repeatedly told by people in the WSU Scholarship and Financial Aid Offices that the National Merit Scholarship at Washington State University, in conjunction with the Western Undergraduate Exchange, covers full out-of-state tuition. They lied through their teeth, repeatedly and systematically.

We got up there, moved Rob into the dorm, bought books, then decided to drop by the Financial Aid office to make sure that they had updated his award, which they had repeatedly assured us, as late as Monday, would have the whole National Merit Scholarship that would cover all his out-of-state tuition. Rob had chosen WSU because he liked the campus and the idea of going to a Pac 10 university, despite the fact that several other universities were offering not only full tuition, but additional stipends or free room and board. When we got there Friday afternoon, however, they finally 'fessed up that they'd been lying the whole time; the "Cougar Academic Award" they included as part of the National Merit Scholarship was, in fact, the WUE award, so he'd still have to pay over $7,000 per semester in tuition. So he withdrew from the school, and now we have to try to find him a new college with school starting Monday for most institutions. Worst of all, since he already "used" his National Merit Scholarship with Washington State University, he probably won't be able to use it anywhere else now; all his hard work during high school is down the drain. (Could we have done better due diligence? Sure. In hindsight, we should have assumed they were lying to us and demanded to see the offer in writing.)

To the Washington State University administrators and staff who lied repeatedly to this fine young man, whose dreams are now in tatters, I say: I hope you're happy with yourself. Oh, and one other thing -- Go Huskies!

Update 1044 24 Aug: Robert was admitted to Boise State University this morning. While he won't be able to call himself a "National Merit Scholar", they gave him pretty much the same scholarship they give to other National Merit Finalists who attend. We're very thankful to BSU.

Update 1350 24 Aug: We got a phone call from President Floyd of WSU in response to an E-mail I sent him. He profusely apologized on behalf of his institution; I was completely convinced of his sincerity and obvious desire to make sure the problem doesn't happen again to anyone else. A very impressive man.

Update 1937 28 Aug: A Spokane TV station got ahold of the story from a website that posts items of interest about WSU, so they called their affiliated station here in Boise, who followed up with a story about the "snafu". Here's a link to the KTVB text story; the video is here. They sent the feed to Spokane, and KREM has their story here; their video, with more of a WSU focus, is here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Boise Submariner Passes

Yesterday in our local paper I saw the obituary of Robert Asin, who passed away at age 83 93. Here's the section that describes his time in the service:
At the start of WWII he enlisted in the Navy and because of his experience, he was sent to Texas A&M for an advanced electronics degree, finishing a three year curriculum in six months. He volunteered for submarine service and was assigned to the USS Skipjack. He was Chief Petty Officer in charge of the ship's radar systems. His time was spent in the Pacific where he was on numerous war patrols. He proudly served his country until his discharge in 1945.
This story of his service was impressive, but here's the part of his life story that touched me the most:
Bob is survived by his wife of 69 years, Doris...
If only all of us could be so lucky. Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Update 1027 20 Aug: Corrected a typo in Bob's age.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Soul Of A Submarine

Check out this photo from last month's arrival of USS Hawaii (SSN 776) to her new homeport of Pearl Harbor, in which a Kahuna bestows a blessing on the boat:

I think any ceremony seeking favor for a ship is a good thing. As all mariners know (but might not want to admit), all major ships do have "souls" -- made up of the toil, blood, sweat, and yes, even tears, of everyone who has ever worked and sailed on her. Ceremonies from the times of antiquity to now have emphasized the important role religion plays in protection from the perils of the sea. I hope that we always remember this part of our heritage.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Boat Teams Top The Standings!

I always loved playing for the boat softball team. I was a serviceable pitcher and decent catcher, and had this hitch in my swing (dropped my right hand under the left when I swung) that made me send all low-and-outside pitches blooping over the 1st baseman's head; I generally hit over .600 (and slugged about five points higher). Granted, this wasn't a real sport; really, can any athletic activity where you know a bunch of out-of-shape 30 year olds will almost always beat (and beat badly) a team of 19 year olds be called a "sport"?

That's why I was interested in seeing the current softball standings for the SUBASE NLON Intramural Softball League. I was disappointed to note that there were only two boat teams listed, but happy that they held down the top two spots in their division. Congratulations to the Providence and Missouri! I know it's tough for a boat to put together a team that can show up for enough games, what with weekly ops and duty sections. Still, I think it's a great team-building activity, and I think more boats should do whatever it takes to compete in the base league. When I was in the yards on the Connecticut and Jimmy Carter, we had really good teams -- made the playoffs every year. On one occasion, I was able to convince the CO to let me send 10 guys off the boat during pre-Alpha Trials Fast Cruise to play in an important playoff game; of course, we had to forfeit the next one when we were actually out on Sea Trials.

What are some of your favorite memories of boat sports teams?

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Anniversary Of Loss Of RNS Kursk

Tomorrow is the 9th anniversary of the loss of the Russian submarine RNS Kursk (K 141). I plan on observing a moment of silence for my brothers of the 'fin who were lost that day.
And when at length her course is run,
Her work for home and country done,
Of all the souls that in her sailed
Let not one life in thee have failed;
But hear from heaven our sailor's cry,
And grant eternal life on high!

Saturday, August 08, 2009

Spotlight On USS Pittsburgh CO

Here's an article from his hometown newspaper about the new CO of USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720), CDR Michael Savageaux, along with a video interview:

Friday, August 07, 2009

"Hey, Shipwreck" Episode 2-09

Here's the last episode for the space-based submariners of "Hey, Shipwreck":

I predict we'll see the rapid spread of the phrase "Khakipants" through the Force.

Here's a repost of the link where the creator, Pat Hrabe, explains what will be happening next. Can't wait to see what he comes up with!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Submariners And Wisdom Teeth

My middle kid just got all four wisdom teeth pulled this afternoon; this got me thinking back to when I got two of mine pulled at the Naval Dental Clinic in Charleston. I had kept all my wisdom teeth intact through all the pre-submarine screening and my first sea tour, but then ran into a Navy dentist who wanted to pull as many submariner's wisdom teeth as he could. I didn't want to lose any, so he decided he'd only pull the two that were partially impacted.

I had them pulled on the day before the "four-off" started because I was the only qualified Shift Engineer on my shift and couldn't miss any work. (This situation persisted for 11 months.) A few days after the teeth were pulled, I noticed some pus coming from one of the wounds. I went into the Weapons Station Clinic, where they took an x-ray and noted that there was still a piece of tooth in there. I came in before the last night of swings to have it removed; it turns out they had to do essentially the same procedure as pulling the tooth! He gave me a prescription for pain meds and I said, "I can't take these; I'm working in 2 hours." He said, "Good luck with that".

I lasted about halfway through the shift before I had to pop one. I went back to Maneuvering at the MTS to tell the EOOW to "ignore me if I give any stupid orders". Luckily, it was a quiet night, and I didn't get too stoned. (I did check the bottle to see if it said I couldn't operate nuclear reactors, but it only mentioned "heavy machinery".)

Did any of you Submariners get through your whole career with all your wisdom teeth intact? Are the Navy dentists still militant about pulling the wisdom teeth of Submariners as a preventative measure? Do any of you have any good Navy dentist stories?

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Russian Subs Off East Coast Of U.S.

This article in the New York Times says that there have been two Russian Akula-class submarines hanging off the East Coast in international waters this summer. Excerpts:
According to Defense Department officials, one of the Russian submarines remained in international waters on Tuesday about 200 miles off the coast of the United States. The location of the second remained unclear. One senior official said the second submarine traveled south in recent days toward Cuba, while another senior official with access to reports on the surveillance mission said it had sailed away in a northerly direction.
The Pentagon and intelligence officials spoke anonymously to describe the effort to track the Russian submarines, which has not been publicly announced...
...One of the submarines is the newer Akula II, officials said, which is quieter than the older variant and the most advanced in the Russian fleet. The Akula is capable of carrying torpedoes for attacking other submarines and surface vessels as well as missiles for striking targets on land and at sea...
...The official said the Navy was able to track the submarines as they made their way through international waters off the American coastline. This can be done from aircraft, ships, underwater sensors or other submarines.
In case the NYT article goes behind a firewall, here's another article with pretty much the same information. And here's an article where a Russian general is trying to sound all blustery.

Personally, I think it's great that the Russians are bringing such an excellent training opportunity so close to our shores. We have to be careful that we don't waste it; I'm hoping we have most of our ASW assets in the area practicing their craft on the visitors (who, let's face it, probably have their hands full just keeping their boats on station without too many things breaking). Since the Russians have indicated a willingness to return to playing at the varsity level with this deployment, I say we don't disappoint them; we need to remind them how the game is played. If a surface ship gets an indication that the sub is close to them at PD, I say they kick it up to a flank bell and head straight down the bearing of the contact. No kneeling on the ball... let's run up the score. The lesson learned from this opportunity is not "how could the Navy let the Russians get so close to our shores" -- what do you expect us to do, blow them out of the water for sailing in international waters? The lesson learned should be, "There are still submarine threats out there, so now is not the time to cut back on our ASW assets, the most formidable of which are our own submarines".

In discussing this topic, please avoid anything classified, including any other possible times Russian subs may or may not have come close to the U.S. in the last 10 years or so.

Update 1722 05 Aug: Here's a CNN story on the Russian deployment; check out this line:
The Akula-class nuclear-powered submarines, which are normally equipped with surface-loaded cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles, have stayed in international waters, the source said.
What the hell is a "surface-loaded cruise missile"? Idiot journalists...

Update 1044 06 Aug: Since I'm getting visits by people looking for information on "surface-loaded cruise missiles", I suppose I should explain what the reporter really meant (since they haven't corrected it yet). It seems that what most likely happened is that the reporter Googled for info on Akula-class submarines, and saw they carried "SLCMs". The reporter then asked their source what an "SLCM" was, and the source didn't know, so he/she made up something, instead of the correct "submarine-launched cruise missile". The reporter then printed what they were told without verifying it.

Update 1044 12 Aug: Now even the Canadian media has picked up the phrase "surface-loaded cruise missiles".

Submarine Escape Trainer Pictures

Some pictures of the new Submarine Escape Trainer in Groton can be found in this topic post over at Nuke Warriors.

Personally, I never went through the ascent part of the training; I just did the pool trainer they used to have where you "ascend" about 3 feet. Have any of you done the full-blown thing?

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Congratulations To The New Chief Selectees!

The CPO list came out for this year, and, as usual, Submariners were well represented.

About this time of year, I get several requests for the words to the "Submarine Song" from people who find me via Google searches. Unfortunately, the volume of E-mail precludes me from answering everyone, so here's a YouTube clip of some Submariners singing it at a wedding reception ( ! ) for those who want to learn the words. The alternate last line is "We're submariners, who the f**k are you".

"Birthers" Get More And More Unhinged

"Birthers", including formerly relevant Idaho blogger Clayton Cramer, were orgasmic this week when nutcase lawyer Orly Taitz produced a forged Kenyan "Birth Certificate" for President Obama. Cramer went so far as to say he would "need some serious proof that it isn't a forgery".

Hey, Clayton, will this proof do? Finding the document on which the forgery is based seems like some pretty serious proof to me. Seriously, if you want to find what you're looking for in Africa, I suggest you respond to some E-mails from some helpful Nigerian public servants. Here's a clue to tell is something is forged or not in the computer age: if you really, really want to find a document that is unlikely to exist, and it just conveniently falls into your lap from an anonymous source, there's a good chance it's forged.

(Yes, I realize I'm tilting at windmills, and the "Birthers" will be just as undissuaded from their beliefs as the 9/11 "Truthers" by any actual facts. Still, it's fun to mock and belittle them as they continue to marginalize themselves with their stubborn refusal to understand how the world really works. Do they honestly believe that Hillary Clinton wouldn't have used this angle if it had any chance of working?)

Update 1520 06 Aug: Birther Clayton Cramer has another post up on the "Kenyan Birth Certificate"; of course, he doesn't address the proof of forgery provided above, but he repeats the Birther claim the President Obama has spent "a million dollars" defending himself from the Birthers. Of course, he provides no link to that claim, because there is absolutely no proof that President Obama has spent even a small fraction of that amount defending himself against the frivolous lawsuits. I challenge Cramer to come up with any proof other than "other Birthers said so" to back up this new claim of his.

Update 0905 07 Aug: Now even WorldNetDaily is admitting that the "Kenyan Birth Certificate" is a fraud. Interestingly, when they were first flogging the story, they claimed that they had been "able to obtain other birth certificates from Kenya for purposes of comparison, and the form of the documents appear to be identical". It now appears that they were lying when they said that, since they now admit the form is not at all the same.