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

Monday, August 30, 2010

XO Of Indian Submarine Lost At Sea

From Indian Express:
A Lieutenant Commander with the Indian Navy drowned in an accident involving submarine INS Shankush, about 60 nautical miles off the coast of Mumbai on Monday.
Lt Cdr Firdaus D Mogal, Executive Officer on board the HDW-built Shishumar Class submarine, was leading a team of five officers and sailors attempting to rescue a member of the maintenance crew who had fallen overboard, when he too was swept off the casing around 8.30 am.
INS Shankush was on deployment preparing for an exercise when the submarine developed a snag, causing crew members to come out and attempt repairs, said a statement issued by the Navy. “The sea outside was very, very choppy,” said a Navy spokesperson. A wave swept across the submarine and the maintenance crew was thrown into the water.
Lt Commander Mogal, commissioned in 1998, led a team that tried to recover all the sailors who had fallen overboard...
More information can be found here. Sailor, Rest Your Oar.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Chilean Miners -- Can Submariners Help?

NASA has been called in to help the team supporting the 33 Chilean miners trapped far underground, since it looks like they might be down there for up to four months. While there's no doubt that NASA would have some expertise in that area, I'm thinking that the U.S. Submarine Force might be even more helpful. After all, boomer patrols are about that long, in conditions about as cramped. While I don't suggest they have the miners run drills to help pass the time, I'm sure that Submariners can provide some good suggestions.

What were your favorite activities to help pass the time when you were on patrol?

Russian Boats Wanting To Play At Varsity Level

Here's a story from The Daily Telegraph about how a front-line Russian SSN has reportedly been trying to track a British boomer over the last few months. Excerpts:
A specially upgraded Russian Akula class submarine has been caught trying to record the acoustic signature made by the Vanguard submarines that carry Trident nuclear missiles, according to senior Navy officers.
British submariners have also reported that they are experiencing the highest number of "contacts" with Russian submarines since 1987...
...The Daily Telegraph has learnt that, within the past six months, a Russian Akula entered the North Atlantic and attempted to track a Vanguard. The incident has remained secret until now.
It is understood that the Russians stood off Faslane, where the British nuclear force is based, and waited for a Trident-carrying boat to come out for its three-month patrol to provide the Continuous At Sea Deterrent.
I know the reaction from most Submariners is "Oh, how cute! The Russkie-pusskies want to come play. Aren't they grown up!" And, of course, if they were trying that crap off of our waters, we could afford to make fun of them as we fold, spindle, and mutilate their acoustic signature while getting a lot of training for our forces. The thing is, the Russians are actually playing with someone who is right about at their level -- a British defense (or "defence") establishment that has thrown away whatever power-projection capabilities they may have over the last several years, and now can't even drive off an unfriendly SSN right off their coast. Hopefully, the Brits have swallowed their pride and are getting some help from their Big Brothers across the ocean.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Navy Week Boise

Boise is having its first ever Navy Week from August 20-29 in conjunction with the Western Idaho Fair. Here's a web page with a lot of links, and here's a picture of Idaho Governor "Butch" Otter officially declaring the beginning of Navy Week.

Unfortunately, I won't be around to participate much, since it's that time of year again when parents take their kids off to college. Expect light posting, so feel free to discuss pretty much anything you want in the comments. Meanwhile, here's a picture of USS Boise (SSN 764) getting supplies from a helicopter from back in 2005:

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Another Theory On The Loss Of USS Scorpion

Back in May, we discussed some of the theories about what caused the loss of USS Scorpion (SSN 589) in 1968. Several readers have sent me E-mail about a theory that's making the rounds of the Submarine Community that focuses on a straight hydrogen explosion in the battery being the proximate cause of the boat's loss. I'm trying to get permission to post the whole thing, so hopefully I'll have it up as an update to this post soon. In the meantime, here's a post from Strategy Page from last month that discusses the problems of ship maintenance during times of budget pressures.

Update 0945 19 August: Having gotten permission from the author, here's what has been going around:

[Begin quoted material]
6 August 2010

From: B. Rule, [address redacted]
To: VADM David J. Dorsett, Director of Naval Intelligence, Office of Naval Intelligence,
4251 Suitland Road, Washington, DC 20395-5720

Subj: Why the USS SCORPION (SSN-589) Was Lost on 22 May 1968

Ref: (a) Originator’s ltr of 14 Mar 2009
RELATED TO THE USS SCORPION (SSN-589) (U)" of 29 June 1970,
prepared for presentation to the CNO SCORPION Technical Advisory Group by
the Structural Analysis Group: Peter Palermo, CAPT Harry Jackson, Robert
Price, et al.
(c) Originator’s ltr of 28 Oct 2009

Encl: (1) Enclosure (1) to Originator’s ltr of 14 March 2009


The USS SCORPION was lost because hydrogen produced by the 65-ton, 126-cell TLX-53-A main storage battery exploded in two-stages one-half second apart at 18:20:44Z on 22 May 1968. These events, which did not breach the pressure-hull, prevented the crew from maintaining depth-control. As discussed by reference (a), the SCORPION pressure-hull collapsed at 18:42:34Z at a depth of 1530-feet. Noted times are actual event times on board SCORPION.

This assessment is NOT the generic attribution of the loss of a submarine to a battery-explosion advanced as a default explanation in the absence of any more likely construct. This assessment is based on (1), the results of examination and microscopic, spectrographic and X-ray diffraction analyses of recovered SCORPION battery material that confirm an explosion occurred, and (2), the July 2008 reanalysis of the SCORPION “precursor” acoustic signals that identified these signals as explosions contained within the SCORPION pressure-hull. Collectively, these findings indicate battery explosions were the initiating events responsible for the loss of SCORPION on 22 May 1968.


Section 7.1.3, page 7.2 of reference (b) states: (quote) ....the general battery damage is violent. The high velocity intrusion of pieces of the flash arrestor into both inside and outside surfaces of the retrieved plastisol cover attest to violence in the battery well. The damage to the terminal battery post coupled with the violent tearing of the plastisol covers indicates the possibility of a battery explosion. While it is possible that this damage could have been an after-effect of hull implosion, the SAG (Structural Analysis Group) feels that the intrusion of particles into the plastisol cover would have been much less severe had water been in the battery well at the time. (end quote)

Section 5.3.6, page 5.17 of reference (b) states: (quote) The battery installed in SCORPION was a TLX-53-A, manufactured by Gould-National Battery, Inc. Battery cell debris is in evidence over the entire debris field. Table 5-2, page 5.38 provides a list of the battery debris identified by the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard analysis team. (end quote) Comment: Table 5-2 notes damage from heat and melting. The presence of melting eliminates the possibility that such damage occurred as a result of pressure-hull collapse (implosion) because analysis of acoustic data discussed by Section IV of reference (c), confirms SCORPION was fully-flooded within 0.112-seconds of pressure-hull and bulkhead collapse; hence, the melting damage (and the battery explosion) had to have occurred within the still-intact SCORPION pressure-hull.

In consonance with this conclusion, Section 5.3.6, page 5.17 of reference (b) also states: (quote) the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard Analysis Group reports that the available evidence indicates the battery probably exploded at some time before flooding of the battery well occurred. Review of Figure 5-13 indicates that the threads on the terminal posts were sheared off and there are no cover seal nuts remaining. This indicates that an explosion took place on the inside of the cells. The covers were completely blown off. Had the pressure been applied on the outside of the covers, the cover support flange on the terminal posts would have held pieces of the covers and it is expected that the cover seal nuts would have remained in place in at least some instances. ( end quote)

Further, Section 5.3.6c, page 5.18 of reference (b) states: (quote) The (battery cover) sample from SCORPION had been violently, but locally, torn, particularly at the location of the bus connection bolts and nuts. The deformation in this region appears to have started on the inside, or battery side of the cover. (end quote)

And finally, Section 5.3.6e, page 5.18 of reference (b) states: (quote) Some 20 equally small (nearly sub-visible) fragments of material were imbedded at high velocity in both the inside and outside of the sample. The trajectories of the fragments were essentially random, ranging from grazing to vertical incidence. Microscopic, spectrographic and X-ray diffraction analyses reveal that these fragments are identical in composition and structure to the alumina flasharrestors used on the batteries in SCORPION. (end quote)


Enclosure (1) to reference (a), forwarded as enclosure (1) to this
letter, provides detailed discussions of four independent lines of
evidence that, collectively, established, for the first time, that the
two precursor acoustic events that occurred at 18:20:44Z, 21-minutes and
50-seconds before hull-collapse, were explosions from then unidentified
sources that werecontained within the SCORPION pressure-hull. The
energy yield of theseexplosive events, now assessed to have been
battery-associated, is estimated tohave been no more than about 20-lbs
of TNT each.

The July 2008 identification of the precursor acoustic events as
explosions contained within the SCORPION pressure-hull strongly supports
the battery explosion conclusion advanced by reference (b), i.e., the
acoustic data identifies the actual explosive events previously assumed
by the authors of reference (b), the SAG Report, to have occurred based
on the observed damage to a recovered battery component discussed above.


Collectively, the above information indicates the two acoustic events
thatoccurred 0.5-seconds apart at 18:20:44Z were produced by explosions
associated with the SCORPION TLX-53-A battery, and were the initiating
events responsible for the loss of SCORPION on 22 May 1968. Additional
information will be provided as developed.

B. Rule
Copy to (w/ encl):

[End quoted material]
It's an interesting theory, with some evidence to back it up. Personally, I still go with the "TDU flooding caused a battery explosion" theory, based on no real data other than it makes sense that some evolution performed at PD could have been the cause -- why would the battery blow up then instead of any other time?

Mr. Rule also suggests that people interested in exploring further should look at his "1 star" reviews of SCORPION DOWN and RED NOVEMBER.

USSVI Charitable Foundation

A guest post from "Trim Pump" about the United States Submarine Veterans, Inc. Charitable Foundation:
USSVI has a Charitable Foundation (501(3)c) and if you give a donation and make it payable to USSV Charitable Foundation you can take a tax write-off. The Foundation is made up of: Scholarship, Memorial (help fund memorial projects), Brotherhood (help submariners in harms way), Library (support USSVI National Library at No. Little Rock), and Building Funds. The Building Fund was established at San Diego Convention from a motion by Senior Vice Commander and unanimously approved. It hopefully would become a fund that would draw some large donors and the hope or plan is to finance the building of or to buy a building to house our Library and a museum and possibly the National Office which is currently located in Silverdale, WA. The fund contains a paltry $450. Not something seen as been supported by the E-Board obviously. Yet a "poll" was taken on the National USSVI Web site ( and people seem to be in favor of a National Submarine Memorial in Washington, D.C. This, in spite of, a National Memorial on both coasts and 20+ Memorial/Museum submarines on display around the country. Yet no movement on the Building Fund.
[Links added by Bubblehead] I normally don't write much about USSVI, but they do some good work and are a great organization. I note that the Charitable Foundation also has web pages for General Fund and Museum (Boat) Fund, but they don't have a web page for Building Funds. What do you think about the issues raised by Trim Pump?

Saturday, August 14, 2010

USS Henry M. Jackson (Gold) CO Relieved

Comments in the post below this one have indicated something might be going on with USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730). For those wondering, here's what has been released so far; excerpt:
A medical condition has forced a change of commanding officers on the USS Henry M. Jackson gold crew. The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine is homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
On Wednesday, Cmdr. James Bilotta was relieved of action for a disqualifying medical condition... He had only been in charge of the gold crew since March 15.
That's all there is so far. As always, please don't speculate on anything operational that isn't already out in the public domain.

Update 0552 16 August: Although some of the comments could lead one to believe that HMJ is currently undergoing a RIM (Rectally-Inserted Microscope) Job from Squadron for some reason, at this point we really don't know what's going on -- nothing's been put out officially in the public domain. However, as one of the commenters points out, I'm guessing there are few boats that could survive such a close inspection unscathed. This has been one of my complaints about the Submarine Force's response to problems for quite some time. Everyone wants to know what the "root cause" of the problem is, and the easiest way to "find" that is to figure out everything the boat's been doing wrong. Ever since I've been able to comment about since things (starting with the San Francisco grounding), I've pointed out that this tends to focus attention on the individual boat to the exclusion of a possible systemic problem (such as, "There are too many requirements for any submarine crew to meet them all, but in trying to meet all of them, submarine crews tend to spend less effort on those requirements that are really important"). Big Sub Force sees a problem on a boat, finds they weren't following all the requirements, and says to themselves "Well, there's the problem; this particular boat wasn't following the requirements". They delude themselves into thinking that other boats are following all the requirements because various inspections say they are -- the problem is that everyone knows what the inspection teams (TRE, ORSE) are looking for, so those requirements are met. It's only during a post-incident witchhunt that the other "problems" are found. If the Submarine Force wants to find out the true state of procedural compliance, I recommend they go down to their best boat, without warning, and give them the same kind of "help" they give to a boat that just had a problem. I suspect they'll find that there are certain things that all the boats aren't doing -- not just the "problem" boats -- and maybe they can use that to get rid of some of the administrative requirements that offer nothing but time-suck to boats and their crews who are just trying to do their job and keep the surface/dive ratio equal to 1. [/rant]

Update 0938 19 Aug: From the sounds of it, any RIM-jobbing of HMJ that may or may not be going on would be completely appropriate. That is all.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

DADT Discharge Characterization

From a story in The Florida Times-Union about a Submariner from USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) being discharged for homosexuality:
The proceedings against Seaman Jarod McIntosh, a 21-year-old culinary specialist assigned to the gold crew of the USS Wyoming, began in April when he brought his camera phone along with him to work.
Photographic equipment is prohibited aboard the boat, where McIntosh had been assigned for almost three years, although it is not generally considered a major offense.
“They deemed bringing the cell phone down to the boat was not grounds for separation,” McIntosh said in a YouTube video he posted about the situation, “but being gay was.”
When the boat’s duty officer found the phone, it was confiscated and turned over to security agents who checked for classified information, McIntosh said. “I thought everything would be fine and it’d just go away,” McIntosh said.
The search didn’t turn up any classified information, but it did find pictures of his boyfriend — “some very personal pictures I would have rathered no one saw, but especially my boss, basically,” the sailor said.
Two weeks later the boat’s captain... told McIntosh he would be receiving an other-than-honorable discharge, the sailor said in the video.
[Emphasis mine] They also say the characterization of his discharge will "limit his benefits" in the video accompanying this story. As the man says, "That does not make sense". While the Navy spokesman says, correctly, that the Navy can't release any information on the characterization of an individual Sailor's discharge, here's what the instruction says:
WHEN during the current term of service, the member attempted, solicited, or committed a homosexual act with aggravating circumstances as follows:
· by using force, coercion, or intimidation;
· with a person under age 16;
· with a subordinate in circumstances that violate customary naval superior-subordinate relationships;
· openly in public view;
· for compensation;
· aboard a naval vessel or aircraft; or
· in another location subject to naval control, under aggravating circumstances that adversely impact good order and discipline; or morale-comparable to the impact created by such activity aboard a vessel or aircraft
THEN (the) separation type can be OTH per MILPERSMAN 1910-300

WHEN processing by reason of statement (see Note) or homosexual acts or marriage do not meet criteria for OTH consideration cited above
THEN the separation type may be GEN or Honorable (HON) per MILPERSMAN 1910-300
While I don't know if one of the aggravating circumstances existed, this seems like one of those times when the person being separated can basically say whatever he wants, and the Navy isn't allowed to respond. Based on my (admittedly limited) experience, everyone I knew discharged under DADT received a General or Honorable Discharge. Personally, I'll believe that he's really not getting an Other Than Honorable discharge unless and until he releases the discharge paperwork.

Update 1534 13 Aug: The story from The Florida Union-Tribune has been changed since I posted the excerpt; one of the changes is that they had the wrong name for the CO (the name they originally wrote hasn't been the CO of that crew for some time). I replaced that incorrect name with an ellipses, but left the original excerpt in place otherwise. You can click the top link above to see the updated article. The current CO mentioned in the article is CDR Diego Hernandez.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

FY11 Chief Results Out

From Goatlocker, here's what is purported to be NAVADMIN 269/10, the FY11 Active-Duty Navy E7 Selection Board Results. I'll post a link to the "official" message when it's released.

Congratulations to all the new Chief selectees, especially those who wear dolphins. May your ass not get sore when you have to move all the olives into martini glasses not using your hands, feet, or mouth. (Actually, they don't do that anymore, but I'm sure you'll still have a memorable next few weeks.)

Update 1458 11 Aug: Here's a link to the "official" version of the message.

Update 1643 11 Aug: Speaking of NAVADMINs, here's NAVADMIN 268/10 that came out yesterday; it institutes a new requirement for all Sailors assigned to warfare-qualifying commands to earn the applicable warfare designation with 30 months, or face the consequences. It won't make any difference to people assigned to submarines, but it seems to make it a requirement for any Submariner assigned to a tender for over 30 months to earn water wings. I don't think there's any requirement that they have to continue to wear them after they leave the skimmer, however, so I guess it won't be that bad.

A Shocking Experience

When I was at work earlier this week (yes, it's already my weekend -- I love "retired" life) some guys came around asking if my group had a megger; they weren't really sure what one was (we normally deal with digital voltages), but had heard that our group might have one. It turns out we did, and as I was explaining how they worked, I talked about some of the uses of a megger on a submarine. (Some of those uses were actually in accordance with the approved Maintenance Requirement.)

This got me thinking about some of the electrical "pranks" that are often played on submarines. I'll be honest -- I was never comfortable working around electricity on the boat (probably due to an unfortunate incident when I was growing up on the farm and accidentally peed across an electric fence -- yes, the shock can travel up a stream of urine). From back in my days of ET "A" school where people were always getting tossed capacitors that had been charged on a 9V battery to the classic "hook a megger up to something metal, then hide and let 'er rip when some unsuspecting NUB touches it" prank on the boat, I knew that Submariners had to have a healthy respect for high voltages, as well as those who may try to hurt them with same for laughs.

My favorite "electrical prank" was discussed here. Anybody have any good stories about electricity and the Submariners who used (or misused) it?

Friday, August 06, 2010

Happy Friday!

Not much going on the the world of Submarines (except for a revision to the equation used in the stationary bike option for the PRT), so here's a video of the song "Shop Vac" by geek troubador Jonathan Coulton that's either a modern fable of suburban ennui or a warning about the dangers of having sex with workshop appliances:

Have a great weekend!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Destroyer Collides With Small Boat Off Point Loma

According to this article in Navy Times, USS Shoup (DDG 86) collided with a 21 foot small craft about 56nm northwest of Point Loma late Sunday, causing minor damage to both vessels. Excerpts:
Shoup was participating in an at-sea training exercise with the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group in the Southern California Operating Area, a large offshore training and weapons range.
Along with a rescue team from Shoup, the Coast Guard patrol cutter Petrel responded to the scene to assist.
Normally, I'm the first one to give the benefit of the doubt to a Navy crew when a collision happens, but this looks completely ridiculous. It's as if they completely forgot the lessons learned from the USS Cole (DDG 67) attack. Unless there are some really good mitigating circumstances, heads should roll from this incident.