Friday, September 30, 2005

Aussie Submarine Rescue System - Deficient

Cross poster by Lubber's Line at "Hunderds of Fathoms"

The US Navy has it's DSRV the UK Royal Navy uses the LR5 and Russian Navy has the ill fated Priz class but what does the Australian Navy use for submarine rescue?

The Australian Navy uses the Remora (Remotely Operated Rescue Vehicle) system for submarine rescue. The Remora system is a product of Ocean Works International of North Vancouver, BC Canada.
Remora Submarine Rescue System (Source: Australian Navy)

The Weekend Australian is reporting in an article Sub rescue unit 'a risk to lives' that there are significant problems with the Australian Navy's submarine rescue program and equipment. As follows:

The navy's submarine rescue unit is in disarray, with faulty and obsolete equipment and poor training creating "intolerable" risks to sailors stranded under the ocean, according to a damning internal defence report.

A Review of Submarine Escape and Rescue Services documents a litany of frightening shortcomings that raise grave doubts about the navy's ability to rescue sailors from a stricken submarine.

The report, written in February, comes as the navy is seeking new hoses for its six Collins-class submarines to prevent a repeat of the catastrophic onboard flood that almost sank HMAS Dechaineux and its 55 crew in 2003.

The report, obtained by The Weekend Australian under Freedom of Information laws after an appeal to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, concludes that the navy's submarine rescue system suffers from "a significant number of high risks".


Other specific problems cited in the AU Navy's report were a lack of spare parts for critical rescue equipment and a significant risk to the availability of cargo aircraft for Remora systems transport. Additionally training deficiencies may be a problem that could lead to equipment damage and failure.

With the HMAS Dechaineux flooding investigation the Assies have identified their problems and will fix their boats and systems. Therefore, they will continue to be one of the most capable submarine forces in the world.

An expanded version of this post can be found at "Hunderds of Fathoms"

Updates on International Sub Fleets

Singapore:  Looking to add two Vastergotland-class subs to its fleet (unsure if they will be of the Södermanland variant or not – none of which should be confused with the Gotland-class.  Head hurt yet?)

Taiwan:  Balking at the Sub purchase deal with the US.  I can’t say that I blame them – the plan is to purchase German (I believe) designs, and have the US build them for Taiwan.  With all those different potential transactions, the price has skyrocketed.  However, no other country in the world seems likely to build subs for Taiwan, so, even though the US doesn’t currently build diesels, it is America or not at all for Taiwan.

Russia:  Don’t be fooled, the Russian bear isn’t toothless yet.  She has built and (finally) successfully tested a new Ballistic Missile for her sub fleet.  That, coupled with her new boomer class in development, keeps her firmly in the #2 spot for underwater power projection.

(H/T to The Sub Report for some of these articles – can’t remember which – CRS ;-} )

Cross-Posted on The Discomfort of Thought

Thursday, September 29, 2005

We have a Caption Contest Winner, Admrial Turner

The winner of the Acrylic elevator Caption Contest goes to ---- Vigilis ---- with the entry:

Now this is high as we go in daylight, Admiral Turner. At night we buzz AF bases just as you have directed.

The UFO reference fit the visual and tied to former CIA director Admiral Stansfield Turner (I'm guessing) was close to the picture's timeframe.

Vigilis also got me wondering, like all small UFOs could there be a mothership nearby? Perhaps the UFO was really a UUV ;-)

Thanks to all who participated. - LL

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Stupid Nuke Tricks

A recent post by Bubblehead sent me into reverie land about all the stupid things nukes do to pass the weary hours in the engine room.  So, I thought I’d put up some of my favorites, and see if anyone had others they would care to share.  All hearsay, of course, as no one here would actually ever disturb plant operations.

My various ramblings are posted on The Discomfort of Thought, so as not to overrun the blog.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Caption Contest

It's been a while since we have had a caption contest over here at "Ultra Quiet No More" so I present the Acrylic elevator photo as a topic for a creative bubbleheaded commenter to achieve temporary fame.

I thought the photo was interesting and looked a bit odd in an early 1960's kind of way.

Acrylic elevator at the Oceanographic Research Tower
(Source: Naval Ocean System Center - Point Loma)

The acrylic sphere accommodated an operator and one passenger for the descent through the 60-foot water column to the ocean Floor. Dr. William McLean is pictured at right.

Contest Rules?
None, just keep it clean and provide your creative best caption recommendation in the comments section, something submarine related would be good but not necessary.

Losers will have their bubble burst at the end of the contest on Friday. - LL

Less Silent but More Strange

William Arkin's 2005 book Code Names: DECIPHERING U.S. MILITARY PLANS, PROGRAMS AND OPERATIONS IN THE 9/11 WORLD is both curious and educational.
From “Able Ally” to “Zodiac Beauchamp,” this book identifies over 3,000 code names, detailing plans and missions which they signify.

Amazon.com's editorial review says (emphasis added): Polo Step is secret Pentagon code for classified material that is more sensitive than Top Secret. When veteran military-affairs journalist William Arkin first publicly mentioned Polo Step in a 2002 column in the Los Angeles Times, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld was apparently furious and ordered an investigation into the leak. Over 1,000 officials, military personnel, and contractors were ultimately interviewed, and the investigation even had its own code name, Seven Seekers. Such is the zealousness, Arkin writes in his book Code Names, with which secrecy is protected in the 9/11 world.

Arkin supervised a staff who tracked naval nuclear weapons worldwide. Revelation of the United States' routine conveyance of nuclear weapons in violation of numerous bans on nuclear port visits contributed to a Bush administration decision in 1990 to remove tactical nuclear weapons from U.S. ships and submarines, says Code Names.

Kingfish Flip is not a name detailed heavily in Arkin's book.

As part of an announced, four-year DARPA/Navy program known as Tango Bravo (technology breakthroughs), Electric Boat will develop an external weapon-launch system that can stow, communicate with and deliver Advanced Capability torpedoes outside the pressure hull.
Space-saving is an acknowledged advantage of stowing torpedoes outboard.

Kingfish Flip may or may not involve utilizing space-station-type docking technology for the fish to swim to the submarine and stow themselves. Range and refueling requirements are unknown.

Since acccidents happen, some means to assure the torpedoes would neither sink their own sub nor be 'recovered' by an enemy would be necessary. Since the fish could not be armed until intended use, the concept does not appear advantageous for hurried situations. So what might be Kingfish Flip's advantage? For manned submarines, the concept seems too odd.

Drawings here are from Richard Beedall's Navy Matters site.

Arkin is an NBC News military analyst, consultant, and author. He has been a columnist for The Los Angeles Times and Washingtonpost.com (writing the bi-weekly “DOT.MIL” column), a Senior Fellow at the Center for Strategic Education at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS) in Washington, DC, and an Adjunct Professor at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies, U.S. Air Force, Maxwell AFB, Alabama.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

1806 Manuscript Author - Robert Fulton

The answer to the previous Submarine History Quiz was "Robert Fulton" Artist, Engineer and Inventor. Widely credited with the invention of the steamboat Fulton was also a pioneer in study of submarine navigation and warfare.

Thanks to Hallex for providing us with the correct answer for the manuscript author and the name of Napoleon's submarine.

Robert Fulton sculpture by Howard Roberts, located in National Statuary Hall, Capitol Complex.
(Source: Architect of the Capitol)

The bonus question seems to have been easier. Both Lewis E. Moten III and MT1(SS) got the bonus question correct.

The Nautilus - ink and watercolor by Robert Fulton.
(Source: Library of Congress)

The "Nautilus" was designed by Fulton for Napoleon and was successfully tested in France in 1800-1801, when Fulton and three mechanics descended to a depth of 25 feet.

Friday, September 23, 2005

History Quiz: 1806 Manuscript author?

Quiz: The below manuscript is dated 1806, who is the author?

No cheating by searching the (Source: Library of Congress).

Hint: This famous American inventor was commissioned by Napoleon to design a submarine for the French. That submarine was successfully tested to a depth of 25 feet!

Bonus question: What was the name of Napoleon's submarine?

Winner and/or answers on Monday.

Carre Film in Sydney: The Schkval Torpedo Motive for Kursk

From The Sydney Morning Herald (September 24, 2005) comes news
As It Happened: Kursk - A Submarine in Troubled Waters
About the French film (shown January 2005 in France) directed by Jean-Michel Carre:

"The Kursk was participating in a military exercise involving a torpedo, the Schkval, capable, we're told, of travelling underwater at 500kmh. The intention was to impress the Chinese; instead it annoyed the Americans so much that, according to French filmmaker Jean-Michel Carre, the events that followed could have pushed the world into nuclear war.

Carre's film suggests the Kursk was sunk not by a faulty Russian torpedo but a perfectly good US one. He goes further by implying a deal between presidents Putin and Clinton hushed the true story while America reimbursed Moscow through the back door. "

Showing SBS, Saturday 7.30pm

Updated with links here at Molten Eagle

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Video file footage of Russian Submarine Force

Ever want to take a sneak peek at a Russian Submarine underway?

How about the inside of an operational sub complete with Russian sailors looking like "What is he doing with a camera" look on their faces?

I link to some Russian submarine video footage over at "Hundreds of Fathoms" - LL

Philadelphia CO Relieved?

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Word on the street is that the CO of USS Philadelphia, CDR Steve Oxholm, is being relieved as a result of the collision of his boat with M/V Yaso Aysen northeast of Bahrain two weeks ago. I earlier discussed the collision here, here, here, here, here, here, and here. This action was apparently taken following an Admiral's Mast with CTF 54, RADM John Bird, where Captain Oxholm was found guilty of a violation of UCMJ Art. 110, Hazarding a Vessel. Supposedly Capt. Robert Brennan, Deputy Commander of CSS-2, has taken command of Philly until they can get a new CO assigned.

Two other officers were apparently also re-assigned off the boat as a result of the collision.

Staying at PD...

More On The USS Virginia Deployment

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Earlier, I mentioned the USS Virginia (SSN-774) had deployed much earlier in their post-commissioning cycle than normal. We now learn more about the "deployment" from Bob Hamilton of The New London Day (who, along with Christopher Drew at the NYT, is a submarine military writer who makes it worth your while to get the annoying free registration required to read their work after a day or so -- a longer lasting version of the article can be found here, second article down). Here's some of what the article has to say:

"Following the official designation, the first of the Virginia-class submarines slipped away from its pier at the Naval Submarine Base Sept. 12 on its initial classified mission, at least 18 months ahead of schedule, and years earlier than the last first-of-a-class submarine in the Navy fleet. It is being billed as a “short” deployment — how much less than the standard six months, and exactly where the Virginia will operate and what it will do, the Navy isn't saying...
"...Virginia's deployment to the U.S. Southern Command less than a year after it was commissioned, he [RADM Mark Kenny, CSG-2] said, is the result of a dire need for submarine surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. The idea for an early deployment was broached in April, and quickly developed momentum...
"...Although the officers can't comment on what Virginia might do during its deployment, the Navy is paying increasing attention to drug trafficking in the Southern Command territory, which covers Central America south of Mexico, and all of South America."

So, it looks like the mission the Virginia is doing isn't really a full-blown deployment, but rather one of those "special" missions, one that all you attack submarine guys know what they're doing. The Navy considers any underway where the ship is away from homeport for more than 56 days to be a "deployment" (about a third of the way down in this link); this is different than the 30 day criteria for the crew to receive "Family Separation Allowance" (or, as it's more commonly known, "Lack of P*ssy Pay"). So, expect the Virginia to be gone for two months or so, since they obviously aren't doing the only "real" deployment we do to SOUTHCOM, that being the annual UNITAS run.

One interesting flare-up from this deployment that I expect to see on the moonbattier side of the 'net is discussion of this deployment to Southern Command so soon after whackjob Venezuelan Maximum Leader Hugo Chavez said that he has seen plans for a U.S. invasion of his country. Expect to see hysterical rants from various "anti-war" activists about how the U.S. is sending its "most advanced weapon" to Venezuela. I can hardly wait.

One more quote from the Hamilton article kind of grabbed my attention:

"Rear Adm. Mark W. Kenny, commander of Submarine Group Two in Groton, noted that Virginia's early deployment upholds the tradition of the ship's namesake, the ironclad CSS Virginia, which was commissioned in February 1862 and went to war just a few weeks later."
Now, I know that the Civil War has been over for seven score years, but I still feel uncomfortable with the tendency to count Confederate military operations as part of U.S. military tradition. Yes, CSS Virginia went to war straight out of the yards, but her mission was to sink U.S. warships, which she did very successfully, before USS Monitor arrived.

Anyway, good luck to the crew of USS Virginia, and I hope you bring home one of these.

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Now Hear This: Former SECNAV Echoes Vigilis View

Our friend WillyShake (Hat Tip) at Unconsidered Trifles lends impressive weight to what Vigilis has been saying about the damaging effects of too many lawyers now in the military's chain of command...

In addition, WillyShake asked John Lehman about firing ADM. Rickover. "Rickover called him a "piss ant" and hung his picture in his retirement office--next to a picture of Benedict Arnold!" (emphasis mine)

There is more, give it a read.

Monday, September 19, 2005

Trident I (C4) Missile System Retired

Cross posted by Lubber's Line at "Hundreds of Fathoms"

With little to no fan fair the Trident I (C4) missile system has been essentially retired from service.

A ceremony held on Sept. 7, 2005 marked the Change of Command for the USS Alabama SSBN 731, combining of crews and the retirement of the Blue Crew CO Cmdr. Kevin A. Fontes. It also marked the last Trident submarine scheduled for shipyard conversion to the Trident II (D5) missile system.

The USS Alabama Gold Crew was also awarded the Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Afloat Safety Award on Sept. 2 after the completion of the Sub's historic 67th deterrent patrol and the last operational deployment of the Trident I (C4) missile system.

First Test Launch of Trident I (C4) Missile Jan. 18, 1977
(Source: DOD File Photo)

The C4 missile system, at 26 years, was the longest deployed US SLBM entering service in 1979 and being retired this year. The Missile was first back fitted to 12 Poseidon submarines and later the first 8 Tridents. The USS Francis Scott Key (SSBN-657) was the first submarine to successfully launch a C4 missile in July 1979. In October that year, SSBN-657 became the first submarine to go on patrol with the Trident I C-4.

The Trident I C4 missile was developed primarily a weapon of deterrence, adhering to Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara's Mutual Assured Destruction or MAD doctrine. The missile had an estimated range of 4000 nm nearly double it's predecessor but lacked the ability to effectively target hardened enemy ICBM missile silos.

The current Trident II (D5) missile is the culmination of Secretary of Defense James Schlesinger's concept of counterforce as deterrence. Entering service in 1990 the D5 missile could be considered a first strike weapon when measured against the improvement in accuracy and range over it's predecessor the C4. However, under the counterforce as deterrent doctrine the targeting of enemy's strategic weapons systems would only be used an immediate retaliatory response and for a first strike.

It seemed only fitting to post the news on this planned obsolescence of the C4 weapons system. I served on one of the first subs USS Simon Bolivar (SSBN 641) and the very last USS Alabama (SSBN 731) the last to carry that system to sea.

Update: 9/21/05 - 13:00 From a reader of TheSubReport "The conversion of the Alabama to D5 Backfit also marks the end of the SINS based navigation system. This system has been supporting the Strategic Weapons System since the Polaris days, almost 50 years."

Almost 50 years longevity is a remarkable achievement for a system as complex as the SINS -Ships Inertial Navigation System. SINS was created out of the joint Army/Navy JUPITER program then further developed to support the POLARIS program. Although a Regulus guided missile submarine, the USS Halibut (SSGN 587) was the first submarine to carry the Ships Inertial Navigation System (SINS) back in 1960.

Current Sub Homeports

Crossposted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

From the indispensible Ron Martini, here's a listing of the current Sub Force organizational chart, derived from and accurate as of the publishing date of the latest issue of Undersea Warfare magazine, with links to each ISIC's homepage:

COMSUBLANT

Groton, CT
SUBGRU-2
Seawolf SSN-21
Jacksonville SSN-699
Providence SSN-719
Pittsburgh SSN-720
Springfield SSN-761
Montpelier SSN-765
PCU Texas SSN-775 (being built in Newport News)
PCU Hawaii SSN-776
PCU North Carolina SSN-777 (being built in Newport News)

SUBDEVRON-12
Memphis SSN-691
Augusta SSN-710
San Juan SSN-751
Alexandria SSN-757
Toledo SSN-769
Virginia SSN-774

SUBRON-2
Philadelphia SSN-690
Dallas SSN-700
Albuquergue SSN-706
NR-1

SUBRON-4
Connecticut SSN-22
Jimmy Carter SSN-23 (The CSP website now has them attached to CSDS-5 in Bangor)
Miami SSN-755
Hartford SSN-768
Annapolis SSN-760

La Maddalena, Italy
SUBRON-22
Emory Land AS-39

Norfolk, VA
SUBRON-6
Minn.-St. Paul SSN-708
Norfolk SSN-714
Albany SSN-753
Scranton SSN-756

SUBRON-8
Hyman Rickover SSN-709
Oklahoma City SSN-723
Newport News SSN-750
Boise SSN-764
Hampton SSN-767

Kings Bay, GA
SUBGRU-10
Florida SSGN-728
Georgia SSGN-729

SUBRON-16
Rhode Island SSBN-740
Maine SSBN-741
Louisiana SSBN-743

SUBRON-20
Tennessee SSBN-734
West Virginia SSBN-736
Maryland SSBN-738
Wyoming SSBN-742

COMSUBPAC

Bangor, WA
SUBGRU-9
Columbus SSN-762

SUBDEVRON-5
Dolphin AGSS-555
Deep Submergence Unit
Arctic Sub Lab
***The three above units are physically based in San Diego

SUBRON-17
Henry Jackson SSBN-730
Pennsylvania SSBN-735
Kentucky SSBN-737
Nebraska SSBN-739

SUBRON-19
Ohio SSGN-726
Michigan SSGN-727
Alabama SSBN-731
Alaska SSBN-732
Nevada SSBN-733

San Diego, CA
SUBRON-11
Salt Lake City SSN-716
Helena SSN-725
Topeka SSN-754
Asheville SSN-758
Jefferson City SSN-759
Arco ARDM-5

Guam
SUBRON-15
City of Corpus Christi SSN-705
San Francisco SSN-711 (has since moved to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard)
Houston SSN-713
Frank Cable AS-40

Pearl Harbor
SUBRON-1
Los Angeles SSN-688
Bremerton SSN-698
La Jolla SSN-701
Buffalo SSN-715
Charlotte SSN-766
Greeneville SSN-772

SUBRON-3
Olympia SSN-717
Honolulu SSN-718
Chicago SSN-721
Key West SSN-722
Louisville SSN-724
Columbia SSN-771

SUBRON-7
Pasadena SSN-752
Santa Fe SSN-763
Tucson SSN-770
Cheyenne SSN-773

COMSUBGRU-7
Yokosuka, Japan
No attached units

Here's the Adobe file that this list was compiled from; it was found in this article. I'll try to go through all the changes I've seen this summer and update this post with updated info for the affected boats.

Friday, September 16, 2005

It's official...

As of today, I'm a member of the crew of the attack submarine USS OLYMPIA (SSN-717).

I checked in today, though it was a pretty early day (CPO "pinning" and "Aloha Friday"). I was introduced to the CO, XO, and COB, and had a pleasant surprise from the CO. During my introduction meeting with him, he pointed out that my division (RC Division) was a solid, top performing division with outstanding work ethics and good sailors. Contrast that to my last boat (I won't name names...), when my check-in interview with the CO consisted of him telling me my prospective division was a bunch of troublemakers and was the "problem division" of the boat. Not just of the department...the entire boat.

So with that in mind, this tour already looks better than my last.

USS San Francisco at PSNSY

Photios who works at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard on Trident SSGN conversions reports observing USS San Francisco SSN711 arriving in Sinclair Inlet and then to the Shipyard.

Read Photios report on the arrival.

Thanks Photios for the update. - LL

Submarine Rescue Conference

The Asia Pacific Submarine Conference was recently held in Hawaii.  It is “an annual meeting dedicated to swapping information on submarine rescues,” and an AP report on it had some interesting quotes from both the Russians and the Brits, as well as many from Commander Kent Van Horn, the head of the US team sent to help the AS-28.  I posted a full breakdown on The Discomfort of Thought, but had one more point to ask – So, is he related, GVH?

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Cocaine Submarine Force Reduction

Cross posted by Lubber's Line at "Hundreds of Fathoms"

The Columbian cocaine Navy is at it again, this time with a drug cargo UUV (Unmanned Underwater Vehicle). AP World News is reporting "Coast Guard Seizes Cocaine in Pacific" (Hat tip: thesubreport.com) excerpt:

BOGOTA, Colombia -- The U.S. Coast Guard, acting on Colombian intelligence, intercepted a ship towing an unmanned submarine-like vessel that held more than 2 tons of cocaine, Colombia's anti-narcotics police chief said Thursday.

The boat was raided Wednesday off the coast of the Ecuadorean-owned Galapagos Islands, Gen. Alberto Gomez told reporters. The underwater capsule, which was attached by a metal cable, was designed so smugglers could tow it below their boat and escape detection if drug agents searched the ship.

Of course this isn't the first attempt to construct and use a submarine type vessel to smuggle drugs. Just last March Colombia's secret police discovered a nearly complete fiberglass submarine (CBS news) designed to carry cocaine to speed boats offshore.

Then there was the September 2000 discovery of a half-built submarine in a warehouse in Bogota, Remember that one?

Cocaine Submarine Under Construction Sept 2000.

The BBC reported the submarine under construction back in 2000 as being sophisticated and based on a Russian design. It was speculated that the Russian mafia or Russian technicians were involved in its construction.

So here's the tally:
1) The Russian designed large Sub was found in 2000 half way through construction.
2) The fiberglass Sub found in March of this year was nearly complete.
3) And now the drug smugglers have had a nearly successful sea trail of a towed UUV variant.

What's next?

Indian Submarine Fleet To Grow

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Winds of Change has a good article, with lots of links, on the growing Indian submarine fleet, and in particular their recent decision to build six French/Spanish-designed Scorpene subs. The current Indian submarine force consists of either imported or indigeniously-produced Type 209 (German) or Kilo Class (Russian) boats; they got rid of their old Foxtrot-class boats a few years ago.
Of special interest is the stated Indian intention of constructing their own nuclear submarine. This would put them in select company, since currently only five countries (U.S., Great Britain, France, Russia, and China) build nuke boats.
If current rumors from Bellona (an anti-nuclear group) are true, India is planning to lease two Akulas to train their crews to run an eventual Indian-built nuke boat. The fact that India has leased a nuclear boat from Russia before lends credence to these reports.

Expect the first generation Indian nuclear boats to be very loud...

BRAC Update

Via CNN breaking news (hence, no link as of yet) - Pres. Bush has endorsed the BRAC commission's recommendations. Hence, New London and Portsmouth are out of the woods, as it is unlikely Congress will reject the list.

Robert Wise 1914-2005

Veteran film director Robert Wise has passed away at the age of 91.

Why is this relevant at Ultraquiet No More?

Wise, you may remember, directed Run Silent, Run Deep.

That is but one piece of his incredibly diverse and impressive filmography.

Rest in peace, Mr. Wise.

If you had five minutes...

...to meet, shake hands, and ask a question of John Lehman, who served as Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration--authoring the 600-ship Navy as well as more forward-thinking strategies to engage the Soviets--and who, since 2003, has been a member of the 9/11 Commission, what would you say to him?

I ask because I may get that opportunity in a few days and have been racking my brain as to what to say.

Would you like to hear his thoughts on the future role of the submarine force in the War on Terror? Perhaps you'd like to pick his brain on the Chinese sub force and strategies for our boats in the Pacific? Or maybe you're looking back to the past and you want the "inside story" of a famous Cold War sea story such as the Victor III skipper known as the 'Prince of Darkness'?

Please let me know! And thanks in advance!

(Cross-posted HERE at Unconsidered Trifles)

Tuesday, September 13, 2005

Adm. Mullen Favors Increased Sub Build Rate

Speaking at the Submarine Base in New London today the newly appointed Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Michael Mullen had some interesting comments regarding the future of the submarine force. Excerpt from the Boston Globe AP line "Naval chief favors more subs":

"We need to go to two submarines a year," Mullen said after speaking to sailors at the base. "On the other hand, the cost of them has to come down."

Mullen told the submariners that the Navy is changing. He said he wants to increase diversity and step up the Navy's participation in joint operations with other military branches by putting more of his top officers in combat and command assignments.

The Navy is also sending more sailors on missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, he said, noting that ground troops need relief. He said his biggest challenge is developing a Navy for the future.


"My message to you is it's difficult to predict what will happen next," Mullen said.

Mullen is echoing what many in the submarine community have been saying, namely the submarine build rate is too low and the cost is too high. At the original estimated cost of 1.6 billion the current Virginia class submarine was to be a cost saver for the Navy and far cheaper than the 2.8 – 3.0 billion Seawolf class. However, the current Virginia class subs are now costing between 2.4 -2.7 billion a copy. That 2.7 billion accounts for about a quarter of the Navy's yearly shipbuilding budget and for just one submarine. Other shipbuilding programs such as, DDX, LCS, LPD and CVX, to name a few are competing for those same budget dollars.

The CNO doesn't believe that submarine procurement can be stepped up for about seven years. This may be a reflection of the other competing shipbuilding programs and their build rates. It may also be why the Virginia Class will not be as large as originally envisioned with the follow-on Tango Bravo project becoming the new focus.

Taking into account projected defense needs, development cycles and maturity of systems perhaps the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review will clarify just where the Navy is going to put it's shipbuilding money in the years ahead .

Monday, September 12, 2005

Hidden Motorcycle on Submarine?

Remember Lagarto, SS-371? USS Lagarto's sunken wreckage had been found four months ago by a team of deepsea divers -200 feet below sea level, 93 miles from the southeast coast of Thailand.

Now, a suprise disclosure from the hometown newspaper of one of Lagarto's officers on Eternal Patrol since May 24, 1945.

Catch the details here, at Molten Eagle.

Pictures of Philly

Crossposted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Just got these pictures of USS Philadelphia in port in Bahrain after her collision with M/V Yaso Aysen. In this first picture, looking aft from the sail, it's clear that the merchant rode up on Philly's deck:



Here's a picture from the dock looking at the starboard side; note the damage to the fairwater planes:



I expect the Navy will be posting high-res versions of these pics on their website very soon...

Staying at PD...

Saturday, September 10, 2005

Sobering Demonstration of Global Reach

In a few weeks, a document called "Doctrine for Joint Nuclear Operations" (available on a Pentagon Web site) is expected to be signed by Air Force Lt. Gen. Norton A. Schwartz, director of the Joint Staff. Link to article and discussion are available here.

Essentially, this is the formalized and updated preemption strategy first announced by the Bush White House in December 2002, for rules and procedures governing U.S. use of nuclear weapons. We know, MAD worked well during the Cold War, but is now obsolete.

Personally, I expect the doctrine to be applied eventually in the form of a Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (the bunker buster).

There is a current need to underscore the new doctrine soon after it is approved, and to impress the Amalgamated Low - Quotient And Expendable, Deranged Assasins union, of our will to dispatch it with more speed and surprise than previously shown. The current Iraq and Afghanistan wars did not do this, having been launched after much warning, delay and logistical arrangement. U.S. actions in other areas of the world, such as the Phillipines, have been lead ostensibly by local militaries, as well. Would an attention-grabbing surprise, such as a submarine launch of a conventional Tomahawk on another continent give the maniacs pause? I favor Mogadishu. Any Al-Qaeda terror camp or war lord (e.g. Aden Hashi Ayro) would do. Here is some background, so take your pick.

Possible Sub Entanglement

The New London Day reported yesterday (registration required to view now) that a local fisherman is claiming a sub got tangled up in his nets.  Bubblehead points out this used to be a common way to get new fishing gear, and I try and add a few points to the discussion as well.  At least no one is comparing this to the AS-28 yet, although the Day gleefully brought up the Philadelphia when reporting on this incident.  Sigh.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Oh carp, what a duty day!

TINS* - except, well, it is all about the sh!t.  It is a long one, guys, so I left the post at The Discomfort of Thought, so as not to run all the other posts here all the way to the bottom.

Sub Battery changes

Changes upcoming for US sub batteries.  However, from the gouge I heard, we are changing battery types not only because of the stated benefits, but also because GNB had said it was getting out of the business, not the other way around.  Either way, at least we are actually modernizing.

Cross-posted at The Discomfort of Thought

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Philadelphia Likely Not At Fault In Collision

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

A new article on the Philadelphia grounding in The New London Day (registration required after today; longer lasting version of the story here -- Edited 2034 09 Sep) seems to show that my previously discussed "meeting situation" hypothesis was wrong, and provides even more evidence that Philadelphia wasn't to blame. Excerpts:

"Sources said the freighter was coming up behind the submarine about 30 miles off the Bahrain coast and apparently ran right up over the back of the ship, scraping along the starboard side of the hull, the fairwater plane, the rudder and the housing for the towed sonar array.
"The sources said under international maritime “rules of the road,” any vessel overtaking another must automatically yield the right of way, so if the M/V Yaso Aysen is found to have been overtaking the submarine, then legally the Philadelphia would be in the clear, which could mean the Navy is not responsible for legal damages to the freighter.
"But a Navy investigation could still conclude the Philadelphia captain and navigation team should never have let the freighter get close enough to hit it, and the captain and some members of the crew could still face some kind of punishment, the sources said.
"The outcome might also depend on whether the Philadelphia was displaying the proper navigational aids to warn nearby ships that most of its bulk was underwater, and whether the Turkish ship ignored radio warnings. Two retired submarine skippers said freighters are often in a hurry and would occasionally run too close to their ships, which can be dangerous in navigation channels that leave little room for maneuvering."


The article's right in describing the behavior of merchant ships, particularly outside the jurisdiction of the U.S. Coast Guard. Once the Navy releases pictures that show the damage to the sub, this will hopefully convince the AP to stop saying that the submarine "slammed" into the freighter.

Staying at PD...

(Top link fixed 2032 08 Sep; registration now required.)

Tuesday, September 06, 2005

More Info on USS Philadelphia Collision

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Bob Hamilton of The New London Day has some more information on yesterday's collision of USS Philadelphia (SSN-690) with Turkish merchant off the coast of Bahrain (annoying free registration may soon be required):

"The accident occurred about 2 a.m. local time while the Groton-based submarine was on the surface headed for Bahrain for a routine port call. The Turkish ship, the Yaso Aysen, was reportedly headed for the United Arab Emirates to take on cargo.
"Navy sources said the collision is likely to be a career-killer for Cmdr. Steven M. Oxholm, the captain of the Philadelphia, because the large freighter should have been spotted by both radar and crew members on lookout duty...

"A U.S. Coast Guard vessel was dispatched to the Yaso Aysen to offer assistance, but the Aysen was determined to be seaworthy, with only minor damage to its hull above the water line, and it continued on its way. The freighter was built five years ago in Japan, and reportedly there were 20 crewmen on board."

Captain Oxholm has been with the boat for quite a while; he relieved as CO when I was still in Groton. I had worked with him quite a bit when I was Engineer on Connecticut, and I remember him as being very professional. Despite all the good things Philly's done during his tour (including the award of the 2003 Squadron TWO Battle "E") this one "aw sh*t" will likely be enough to cancel out a hundred "attaboys". I do remember that he reached command in a kind of roundabout way... can't remember the details, and it shouldn't lead anyone to think that he wasn't qualified; after all, the boat did great for the 2+ years he's been in command.

While Philly is normally a DDS boat, I'm guessing she didn't have it on during this transit, as evidenced by her July transit through the Suez Canal without it. Depending on where the boat was struck, it might have been worse if the DDS had been installed. (If that last link doesn't work, click here, and go down to the 9th picture.)

Staying at PD...

Anniversary of first successful submarine attack

I can't believe a Canadian is the first to post this, but it's the 229th anniversary of the first successful submarine attack.

On 06 Sept 1776, the Continental Army's American Turtle attacked the RN's flagship HMS Eagle off New York harbour. The first submariner, Sgt Ezra Lee unsuccessfully attempted to attach an explosive charge to the hull of the HMS Eagle.

He was then spotted by the ships company, and detonated his charge in a valiant attempt to scare the pants off the pursuing skimmers. He was successful in that they at least stopped pursuing. Their pants situation is unknown, to this day.

Sgt. Lee's attack was unsuccessful in actually sinking the ship, but it did force the RN to move their fleet. It therefore accomplished the mission of Mahanian Sea Denial, and was a success. More importantly, Sgt. Lee's attack made the skimmers run away, and exposed them to their rightful ridicule. More could not be asked of any man.

Monday, September 05, 2005

Alligator Hunting

Cross-posted by Lubber's Line at "Hundreds of Fathoms"

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration NOAA and the Office of Naval Research ONR have teamed up to search for the civil war submarine USS Alligator. This is the second year for this NOAA-ONR collaborative effort schedule to resume Sept. 9-12 off Cape Hatteras, N.C.
The newsobserver.com has a short article on this current effort.

The USS Alligator (Source: NOAA - Painting by Jim Christley)

The Alligator was so named because of it's low profile and distinctive green color. The 47 foot long sub was lost in April of 1863 while being towed by the USS Sumpter. The Sumpter was to tow the Alligator from Virginia to Charleston S.C. to participate in Union attacks on that Confederate port. The sub sank in a fierce storm somewhere south of Cape Hatteras and Ocracoke Island, N.C. in an area known as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. In a heavy gale and no crew aboard the USS Alligator the captain of the USS Sumpter unable to make headway cut the tow line.

Hunting the Alligator (Source: NOAA)

An initial side-scan sonar search by the NOAA Ship Thomas Jefferson in the spring of 2005 identified several new targets. Additional investigation of these targets will be conducted using marine magnetometer and a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). Operating out of Ocracoke, N.C., a team of marine archaeologists and researchers will work aboard ONR’s 108-ft. “Afloat Lab” (YP-679), deploying a number of these undersea search and survey tools.

The USS Alligator has a distinctive place in history which few are aware. It was the US Navy’s first submarine.

There is some confusion around the first US Navy submarine claim. David Bushnell’s The Turtle used in the revolutionary war in September 1775 was piloted by an Army Sergeant and volunteer and not commissioned by the Continental Navy/Marines. John Holland's Holland VI is many times incorrectly cited as the US Navy's first Submarine even though it came some 26 years after the USS Alligator.

The USS Alligator was an innovation in naval design at the time and included many features and firsts for a submarine:

First submarine ordered and built for the U.S. Navy
First submarine to have a diver’s lockout chamber.
Was deployed to a combat zone.
First submarine to have onboard air compressors for air renewal/diver support.
First submarine commanded by a U.S. Naval officer (who would later achieve Flag rank).
First submarine designed with an air purifying system.
Had an underway test witnessed by a U.S. president (Abraham Lincoln).
First submarine to have electrically-detonated limpet mines.
Underwent an overhaul in a U.S. naval shipyard.


If you're interested in the project to find the USS Alligator and the sub's history, more information can be found at the NOAA website (Link here) specifically devoted to this project.

One Submarine Story


Our friend Bubblehead, pictured memorably here, has a couple of posts at UltraQuiet No More about the recent collision between SSN-690 (Philadephia) and a merchant vessel. He questions International Rules of the Road. That reminds me of this experience, which although it broke up the boredom, killed the career of a truly gifted officer:

Somewhere in the Atlantic ocean. Our CO had given orders to maintain 10 miles CPA (closest point of approach - or, the minimum distance from our submarine) to the nearest vessel. The OOD, of course was aware of these orders and had constant radar and lookout updates of a nearing merchantman. The OOD insisted, however, we had the right of way as a warship!? About 04:35 he sounded our Collision Alarm.

Almost instantly, this became the very first and last time we would ever see our CO run to the bridge in his skivvies (there was humor in this, afterall). Collision was averted by a fast change of course within 300 yards. A week later, the Lt.'s personal luggage was on the pier before the crew even got topside.

The relieved officer was a mathematical genius (accurately performed fire control solutions in his head) as well as a fine, well-liked gentleman. He sometimes seemed to have unexplained difficulty with routine tasks, however, which had proven disasterous on other notable occaisions. I am guessing his boredom factor was unusually low. (Graphic for illustrative purposes only).

Looking forward to more info from Bubblehead on the Philadelphia outcome.

USS Philadephia Collision Info and Thoughts

Crossposted by Bubblehead in Idaho from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Woke up to news this morning of Groton-based submarine USS Philadelphia (SSN-690) collided with the Turkish-flagged merchant M/V Yaso Aysen while transiting on the surface to Bahrain this morning. The Navy statement says there were no injuries on either ship, and Philadelphia is continuing on under her own power. (In collisions with merchants, the submarines normally make out the best, since their hulls are so much stronger than any surface ships hull.)

Chapomatic discusses how the "three kiss" principle applies in this situation.

Expect more coverage as additional information comes out over at our group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More.

Staying at PD...

Update 1036 05 Sep: The progressives at Democratic Underground display their ignorance (with a couple of notable exceptions). No discussion yet as to whether or not Bushitler ordered the collision as a way to distract attention from New Orleans or the new Chief Justice nomination.

The current AP article has a little more background and info:

"The USS Philadelphia was traveling on the surface of the Gulf when it hit the Turkish-flagged M/V Yaso Aysen at around 2:00 a.m. local time, said a statement from the 5th Fleet Headquarters in Bahrain.
"The collision happened about 30 miles northeast of Bahrain, said Breslau...

"Breslau said the Turkish ship, a bulk carrier, suffered minor damage to its hull just above the water line.
"The ship weighed anchor at the site of the crash and a U.S. Coast Guard vessel was sent to offer help, Breslau said. An initial inspection found the cargo vessel to be seaworthy."


While this happened at night in a fairly crowded section of water, I continue to be amazed that U.S. Navy vessels continue to allow ships to get close enough to them in the Arabian (Persian) Gulf, especially when we've heard reports that Al Qaeda hopes to blow up an explosive-laden boat next to a warship. Granted, submarines don't have the best maneuverability, and merchants frequently have few people on the bridge to communicate with, but it really is the warship's responsibility to keep clear if there's a chance the other ship might be trying to collide with you (there's nothing in the Rules of the Road about that... although I admit that the only thing I remember is "... a vessel engaged in mine-laying always has the right of way" or something like that.)

USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) involved in collision

Form the Navy Newsstand: "No Injuries as U.S. Submarine and Merchant Vessel Collide"

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- No Sailors or merchant seamen were injured when a U.S. Navy submarine and a commercial cargo vessel collided in the Persian Gulf Sept. 5.

The collision between USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) and the Turkish-flagged M/V Yaso Aysen occurred at approximately 2:00 a.m. local time while the submarine was conducting surfaced operations as it transited to Bahrain for a scheduled port visit.

The submarine's propulsion plant was unaffected by this event. Philadelphia will continue to Bahrain for inspection of any potential exterior damage.

The incident is under investigation.

Philadelphia is currently on a regularly scheduled deployment to the U.S. Navy Central Command area of responsibility conducting Maritime Security Operations (MSO). MSO set the conditions for security and stability in the maritime environment as well as complement the counter-terrorism and security efforts of regional nations. MSO deny international terrorists use of the maritime environment as a venue for attack or to transport personnel, weapons, or other material.

Aljazeera.net is also reporting the collision "US submarine collides with cargo ship". Obviously the point of view is the US Submarine collided with a Turkish cargo ship and not the other way around.

Here is what the Turkish are reporting about "Turkish Cargo Ship Collides With U.S. Submarine In Gulf"

Sunday, September 04, 2005

High Speed Internet Testing Expected Mid-2006

Richard Scott of Jane's Defense Weekly -Amsterdam reported the Navy is set to begin trials of a new, two-way communications buoy for submarines. Delivery is set for March 2006, according to NSL excerpts found here.

The Recoverable Tethered Optical-Fibre (RTOF) buoyant body, is a high bandwidth, fibre-optic tether paid out with nearly zero tension. In theory, the RTOF surfaces rapidly and will be stationary on the surface while the submarine maintains discrete speed and depth.

RTOF is rapidly recoverable with no telltale wake or plume. The RTOF development team is lead by Ultra Electronics Sonar, which has businesses in North America.

Current payload specifications include UHF SATCOM, internet protocol, GPS, and radar warning device. High speed, secure, 2-way data and comm's yes, but phoning home is doubtful.

Friday, September 02, 2005

Raising the K-159?

Or rather, raising the issue (not the boat) is this article at Bellonna Web News:
Despite promises of Russian Navy brass to lift the K-159 submarine, which sank on August 30th 2003 killing nine of its 10 crew members while being towed for dismantlement, the derelict vessel still remains at the bottom of the Barents sea with 800 kilograms of highly radioactive spent nuclear fuel in its reactors.
Go HERE and ask yourself what circle of Dante's hell would this duty station equate to? [picture scroll is at the bottom of the page.]

These poor bastards ... I mean, the more I think about it, the more ticked-off I get at this whole mess. The way that the Russian navy has treated its submarine sailors over the years is appalling -- worse, it's criminal!

And it doesn't look like that sad fact is going to change anytime soon. [Cross-posted at WillyShake's "Unconsidered Trifles" here.]

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Hurricane Katrina Hotline

I can't believe I neglected to blog this information when it came out!

Please disseminate as widely as possible:

Hurricane Katrina Help Line: 1-877-414-5358

Release Date: 08/30/2005

The Navy is sincerely concerned for our Sailors and their family members in the areas affected by Hurricane Katrina. In light of the communications difficulties created by the hurricane, Navy Personnel Command has set up a 24 hour help line for both Sailors and their family members to call for information regarding their loved ones: 1-877-414-5358.

This line is staffed 24x7 by active duty Navy personnel and will have connectivity with Navy, FEMA and other government agencies. They will try their very best to answer questions regarding the status of Navy family members, but please be aware that communication in the region is still very challenging and in some cases impossible at this point.

Cross-posted from Four Knots to Nowhere.

21st Century SSN-21 ("SEAWOLF CLASS") Dolphins



Commander Steve Jones, USN (Retired) of the award winning, Worldwide Submarine Insignia web site has this to say about the images above (February 19, 2001):

By the letter of the law they are even legal for uniform wear by active duty folks. The old SSN dolphins are illegal because the sub is bow-on. Navy specs call for a starboard angle on the bow sub which this pin qualifies for. And even if your CO or XO tells you they don't want you wearing them, they are pretty cool to own.

For insignia collectors they are cool to own, and I do (but of course, I have Disney pins and the infamous Nigerian submarine insignia, too). For anyone who has never visited Steve's web site, you are missing loads of submarine insignia imagery from around the world, not to mention historical and current fleet information. Steve tends to get upset when silly Ebayers bid ridiculous amounts for items available for a fraction of what they paid. He features his own collections (which you cannot buy) and gives some sound advice on building your own intelligently, and spotting fakes.

Need international contacts? The submarine brotherhood is truly international.

If nothing else, check out Steve's SOME INTERESTING SUBMARINE FACTS AND TRIVIA.
There are probably a few items you never knew.