Sunday, October 30, 2005

More Virginia Class Design and Concept Info

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

I can't help but add to what Bubblehead and Vigilis have posted on the USS Virginia (SSN 774) here and here .

The below photo of the Virginia during construction has three holes circled where a new fiber optic Lightweight Wide Aperture Array (LWAA) is to go.

USS Virginia (Source: US Navy - NRL)

The system is the first fiber optic surveillance grade acoustic sensor system on an operational platform. Information can be found on the system's development from 1980's to production in 2000 at the Office of Naval Research, Naval Research Laboratory Review 2004 - "Development of the Fiber Optic Wide Aperture Array: From Initial Development to Production". Six sonar arrays three per side composed of Lasers and Fiber Optics translates to high bandwidth, I would think.

For a taste of how some of the consoles may function and integrate with other systems, I found this article from Undersea Warfare Magazine Fall of 2000 on the USS Virginia's Onboard Team Trainer Master Controller (OBTT MC).

OBTT Prototype (Source: US Navy)

The onboard simulation system will be capable of supporting a whole host of contacts including up to:

• 10 Medium Frequency Active (MFA) and Passive Sonar Contacts.
• 20 High Frequency Active (HFA) Sonar Contacts.
• 20 Tactical Weapon Simulator (TWS) Contacts.
• 35 Imaging Contacts (Visual/Infrared).
• 128 ESM Contacts.
• 10 Radar Contacts, and
• 8 stored harbor models for ingress and egress training.

The system will also interface with the ships Communication suite simulating Over-the-Horizon/Global Command and Control System-Maritime (OTH/GCCS-M) communications.

The system uses of Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) components to conduct onboard and at-sea simulated engagements comparable to those of a shore-based team trainer.

Conceptual info Video Links:

I did find some cool broadband streaming video over at the Lockheed Martin video gallery covering some of the concepts incorporated or proposed for the Virginia class submarine.

The first concept is leveraging Commercial-off-the-Shelf (COTS) components to increase adaptability and processing power. Link "Always the Leader"(5.53 MB .WMV)

Next is the idea of optimizing for a time sensitive target strike through a system called "Transformational Tactical Targeting". Key component of the concept is the GCCS-M mentioned above. Link "T3" (9.57 MB .WMV)

Finally the "Sea Talon" Submarine launched UUV for littoral areas. Link "Sea Talon" (9.19 MB .WMV)

Although none of video is of the interior of a Virginia class sub they do provide a look into some of the concepts incorporated in that class of submarine. I also have to say Lockheed Martin has a slick marketing department, lots of cool stock submarine footage and a forceful narration to put their concepts and products forward.

USS Virginia Pictures

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Vigilis recently demonstrated a lot of faith in me by predicting that I could get interesting pictures from the insides of USS Virginia (SSN 774). I was thinking, "Hey, I've seen pictures of the Virginia CCSM -- they'll probably be easy to find". I guessed wrong...

The Navy seems to be keeping a fairly close hold on pictures of the Virginia's control room -- this is a big change from when USS Seawolf was launched, and they had a nice full-color shot of the Ship's Control Panel out within a couple of months.


Anyway, looking through all my unclas resources, here's the only picture (from this Navy page) that I can tell is actually of the inside of the USS Virginia's control room -- and it's from the very early stages of construction, showing the BQQ-10 stacks and not much else:


Pretty sad. Anyway, the Navy did help me in my quest by releasing some other pictures from inside the USS Virginia (taken last year during Bravo trials, but based on their placement in the photo gallery, I think just released) -- deploying a towed array, a darkened passageway, two NUBs studying in front of a radiation sign, Torpedo Room berthing, the lock-out trunk, a couple of A-gangers with complicated computer screens, and a pic of the new Submarine Escape Immersion Equipment in the lock-out trunk.

I like the picture of the computer-literate A-gangers best...


So, I did provide pictures of the inside of the Virginia -- just not the ones you were probably looking for...

Update 0839 30 Oct: I had figured the pictures of the Virginia I linked to above were new, because 1) when I typed in "ssn" in the Navy photo search, they came up near the top, between two pictures put up between 26-27 October, and 2) I also looked at the USS Virginia page at NavSource, and didn't see them. It turns out that NavSource has a second USS Virginia page that has several other pictures from Bravo trials -- the ones I linked to aren't there, though, leading me to believe that maybe the Navy did just release them. However, NavSource did have a picture of the Virginia SCP, reprinted below, along with this Navy photo of the photonics display:

Wednesday, October 26, 2005

The Greeneville ART Speaks

Many of you enjoyed a website called the "Greeneville Underground Newsletter" that I found a couple months ago, and many of you wondered why the site had "disappeared". (For those who didn't see it, it was basically the traditional "bitch book"/"nuke passdown log" that the malcontent/humorous (pick one based on your prejudices) nukes were keeping online.)

I received a communique from "Anti-Retention Team", who I assume is one of the guys who helped publish the newsletter. I'm assured that he wasn't one of the people who had to sign a Page 13, so no laws are being broken here. Here's the statement:

Thanks and Farewell
The Greeneville Underground Newsletter

Friends, Readers, Weblog Colleagues, and Casual Bystanders:
As you now know or have suspected, the Greeneville Underground Newsletter has ceased publication. The shutdown is semi-voluntary, but fully-permanent. There will be no republication under a different name. Several people have requested information on what happened, and I'll attempt to explain. This may get long, since it's difficult to capture the spirit of what was going on here.
Every boat has at least one "passdown log"/bitch book/pit log/slam book hidden somewhere out of the way in the spaces. Command attitudes vary between absolutely not allowed and "not allowed, nudge nudge, wink wink." On one boat I was on it routinely got swiped and read in the CPO Quarters, then returned unharmed, whenever something particularly creative and funnyshowed up in there.
There are a few arguments that could be made that a passdown log is a good thing. I can think of three.
For one thing, people need to vent now and then. Maybe writing something nasty is better than keeping it to yourself. It's definitely better, in the self-preservation sense, than being a smart-ass to the XO.
For another thing, it can function as an informal suggestion-box. I've known some COs to periodically "take the oak leaves off" and take whatever abuse the blue-shirts can dish out (verbally, of course) in the name of hearing the REAL SCOOP. I admire COs that can do that. Now obviously, you can't run a military organization where any jackass can feel free totell off the Captain any old time he disagrees. The passdown log can, and does, function as the unvarnished opinion on the deckplate. The management can sneak peeks and find out how successfully (or not) they're running the show.
It's not limited to the management, either. I've seen people constantly harassed by the chain of command about quals do nothing, but then get hot once they start being known as a "slug" in the passdown log by their peers.
The previous two are decent reasons, and reasons I hear a lot. They don't really convince me, though. The reason that causes me to "overlook" these books, provided they don't get TOO out of hand with the personal attacks and bickering, is often missed.
People need to have fun. The passdown log is fun - fun to think up stuff to write in, fun to read. It's a break from the dreary "groundhog's day" of being underway. Same reason people get into wrestling matches in ERLL, same reason watchstanders get into water fights, same reason the XOs door goes missing periodically.
I think in management fad/theory, this is called the "fish principle". I haven't read that book yet, though. The premise is this: people will work their asses off for very little in return, as long as it's sort of fun and the time goes by fairly quickly. The leader who can make the workplace full of joking and laughter, even when it's 10pm on a non-duty weekend night, is going to get a lot farther than the slave-driver.
So where am I going with this? Well, this is important background to the Underground Newsletter. When "they" found our passdown log and took it away, with the remark that "you can have one, just not in the engineroom,"well, to quote the CO, "A bored Nuke is a dangerous thing."
But was putting it on the Internet, for the general public to see, a big middle finger to the command? A "Take it away, well, we'll show you" scenario? No. It also wasn't a desire to "show the world what crap we're dealing with" - we didn't think anyone would ever see it but us. It's a big Internet after all, and who's going to search for "Greeneville" that cares in the slightest? (foreshadowing)
No, it started out as a "wouldn't it be funny if..." scenario. Then a proof of concept blog. But then, hey, this turned out to be fun.
So Greeneville's in the shipyard, with morale at the lowest it's been in all the time anyone can remember (including the collision). Those of you who have been in the shipyard know what I mean. Those of you on Hono REALLY know what I mean. Then all of the sudden, something is fun.
I think people initially came to the Underground to bitch and be anti-navy, anti-greeneville, anti-this, anti-that. I think the tone of the site, though, was more about laughing at the ridiculous, telling funny stories - recognizing the humor in the situation, not anger. I think our non-crewvisitors could sense it, too.
The more active participants have mentioned that it came as a shock that the main Underground page became popular, while the Distractions didn't. That's the part we liked best. That, and the prank planning. We were actually moving more in the harmless pranks direction and less toward bitching the longer we went on.
It was fun. There were dozens of readers who didn't post, and everyone liked to talk about it. It made work kind of fun, with people watching out for "good things to post on the Underground". If the XO hits the limiter and starts cussing everyone out, it no longer makes everyone pissed off the rest of the day. It makes everyone smile to themselves wondering if it'll make the Underground and what it will say. In my humble opinion, it did more to IMPROVE morale than any other thing while it lasted.
Ok, so what happened already? Well, that's when the CO and COB made a public relations trip to Greeneville, Tennessee. While they were gone, the SUBPAC Public Affairs Officer decided to Google for any related news stories generated by the trip. Uh-Oh, turns out the Underground was the number one result for Greeneville+Submarine or something. Busted.
We got reported to the Admiral, who chewed out the Commodore, who "notified" the command in what I imagine was a one-way phone call. Also, NCIS was invited to scour the Underground for any classified material or operational security disclosures.While we had been careful (very careful) to keep a handle on the REAL security issues on the site, some participants were less good than others at being undercover. A couple of "our" people (plus a couple of innocent bystanders, oops) were invited to a special meeting with the chain of command where it was suggested that the site be discontinued. These suggestions being documented on Page 13s, if you know what I mean.
Since no actual UCMJ articles had been violated, and no classified information compromised, that was the end of it. I don't think the issue was that we had done anything wrong, but that it would be incredibly easy to embarrass the command publicly. Also that an accidental slip of something classified would be world-wide and unable to take back. I'm guessing, though.
So, being bored nukes, I suppose we COULD restart the site under a different name, about a "fictitious" boat. (we thought of starting the La Jolla Underground Newsletter, heh) We've decided, though, that being published on the Internet was not an essential feature - we can still do all the things we were doing offline, not get into trouble, and keep the command happy.
It's just better that way. We'll find another way to have fun. I'm sure the passdown log will reappear at some point - they always do.So we'd like to thank everyone who said nice things about us, and who made it fun. Because that was the important thing, the fun.

ART (The anti-retention team)
Greeneville Underground Newsletter

I feel kind of responsible for the site being taken down, since I'm the one who first "outed" them to the sub-blogosphere at large. Short version: They linked to me, I noticed them in my referrer's logs, and posted about them here. On the other hand, based on the fact that some of the hits I had gotten from them came from the mainland, I think they were kind of an "open secret" anyway.

I've always had a soft spot in my heart for the malcontent nukes -- they generally worked as hard, or harder, than the quieter guys, and provided a lot more laughs. They kept you on your toes, too; you had to come up with real reasons why some task was important to satisfy them, other than "because I said so".

When I was Eng on Connecticut (which had quite a few malcontents) I made it a point to go through the "bitch book" whenever I had duty... just to get a pulse of what the crew was really thinking. I had an unspoken rule that I wouldn't hold guys responsible for anything they wrote in there -- as long as it didn't violate reactor safety, of course. The crew knew that, and knew that they could get a message to me without "going through channels". Since my EDMC was on the same wavelength, it worked out OK. I think it's a mistake for a boat to cut off this "relief valve" -- nukes being the inventive types they are, they're always going to figure out a way to bitch, and it's better to have something benign, like this blog was, than some of the other options. (That being said, I still have enough "active duty" in me to recognize that CSP really had no option but to shut the thing down once they found out about it -- had it made the press, and it came out that SubPac knew about it and did nothing, people would have lost their jobs.)

Anyway, I'll miss reading about the nukes on the Greeneville, and I hope they come up with another way to express themselves -- within the bounds of the UCMJ, of course.

I've re-enlisted a couple of guys who swore up and down they'd never re-up. It ain't over 'til it's over, guys -- submarining gets in your blood, whether you like it or not. And who knows... maybe when one of them is an EDMC, they'll tell a "no sh*tter" about the time CSP shut down their blog.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Our Finest Hour

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

[Intel Source: The Sub Report] Two recent articles in Florida newspapers discussed a "tolling the bell" ceremony honoring local submariners lost on Oct. 24, 1944. The first, from the St. Augustine Record (registration required; another copy not requiring registration is here) described that day as "the single worst day in U.S. submarine history"; the other, from the Palatka Daily News, describes that day, when three submarines and 168 submariners were lost, as "...that ignominous [sic] day."

I disagree. While the losses of the USS Shark II, USS Tang, and USS Darter were a cause for mourning, their sacrifices were in no way "ignominious".

The USS Darter was lost while participating in the Battle of Leyte Gulf, the largest naval battle in history. Darter, in company with her sister ship USS Dace, found and engaged the "Center Force" of the Japanese Fleet. In addition to informing headquarters of the sighting, they combined to sink two Japanese heavy cruisers and damage another. Darter ran aground while moving to engage the enemy again; she contacted Dace, and after all confidential equipment was removed, the entire crew of Darter was rescued.

The circumstances surrounding the loss of USS Shark II are murkier, since there were no survivors. Evidence shows that she had attacked and sunk a ship carrying American prisoners, and was likely engaged in surfaced rescue operations when she was attacked and sunk.

Much more is known about the loss of one of the most famous submarines of WWII, USS Tang. Her commanding officer, CDR (later RADM) Dick O'Kane, is arguably the most successful wartime submarine officer ever, as his record as XO on USS Wahoo and CO of USS Tang attest. Here's the record of the attack in which Tang was lost:

"The following evening Tang found yet another convoy, and O’Kane again attempted to maneuver inside the escort on the surface. However, as Tang closed in this time, she was detected before reaching attack position, and immediately came under 5-inch and 40-millimeter gunfire from the escorts. Undaunted, O’Kane boldly held Tang on the surface and drove into position. When the range closed to 1,000 yards, O’Kane fired six torpedoes: two at a transport, two at a second transport, and two at a tanker. All of Tang’s torpedoes hit with a series of shattering blasts that tossed up clouds of fire and debris. The glare of burning ships, spitting guns, tracer bullets, and exploding shells lit up the night. As O’Kane maneuvered Tang for another target, a destroyer charged the submarine at 30 knots, while two destroyer escorts rushed at Tang from the opposite direction. With the three burning ships directly off the bow, the submarine was boxed in again. Just like the previous night, O’Kane rang full speed ahead and sent Tang charging straight at the attackers. This time, though, he wasn’t bluffing. Closing range, O’Kane fired three fast shots to clear the way. The first struck the tanker; the second hit the transport and stopped it dead in the water; and the third struck the destroyer and brought it down too. With the night sky blazing, Tang dashed through the gap and withdrew temporarily to reload the last two torpedoes.
"When ready, O’Kane moved in to finish the crippled transport. As he gave the order to fire, there was no hint of impending danger. The first torpedo ran straight toward the target, trailing its luminescent wake. The second torpedo, however, broached the surface and began a circular run back towards Tang...
[It hit.]
"...O’Kane and the eight other men on the bridge were hurled into the water. One other officer in the conning tower escaped to join them. During the night, these ten men tried to hang together, but one by one they slipped away. By dawn, only O’Kane and three others were left to be picked up by the Japanese.
"The story was different below decks. Thirty men had survived the blast. They gathered in the forward torpedo room with the intention of getting out through the forward escape trunk. Only five would survive the ascent and subsequent exposure in the water. In all, eight of the crew survived. They served out the remainder of the war in a Japanese prisoner-of-war (POW) camp."


CDR O'Kane was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions.

What these actions have in common is not "ignominity", but evidence of the bravery, daring, and self-sacrifice of the submariners of WWII. Americans nowadays are repelled by any loss during military conflict, and forget that in WWII we were facing an implacable, well-armed enemy who wanted to win as badly as we did... losses were to be expected, while still being regretted. The loss of one sub, without casualty to the crew, is a good trade for the sinking of 2 heavy cruisers; even if they hadn't sunk the cruisers, the contact report they made was priceless. The crew of USS Shark II was lost trying to save their brothers who had been taken prisoner; the USS Tang helped break the back of the Japanese Empire as much as any other ship in the war. The "worst day in submarine history"? No -- this day, as much as any other, was what showed the world the best side of American submariners. While we honor the sacrifice of the crews, we should continue to thank them for "showing us the way".

Going deep...

Sunday, October 23, 2005

Ex-Greeneville CO In The News

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished, with a few edits:

This week's release of the official NTSB report on the collision of USS Greeneville (SSN 772) with the Japanese fishing vessel Ehime Maru in 2001, gave former Greeneville CO Scott Waddle a chance to make the news again.

Regarding the collision and my opinion of CDR Waddle -- it's clear that the crew of the Greeneville, under the leadership of their then-CO, completely "screwed the pooch" that day in February 2001. Although a lot was made of the presence of "civilians at the controls", that really didn't contribute to the collision. The main problem, IMHO, was a command climate in which the CO didn't encourage a questioning attitude and forceful backup by the crew.

I've never met Scott Waddle, and I only interacted with him once, so this is another one of those "one data point"* conclusions. When I was the Submarine Liaison Officer for the John C. Stennis Battle Group back in 1999, the USS Greeneville was one of the subs playing OPFOR for our JTFEX. We were having a hard time getting any good interactions with the Greeneville after the first week; they had a "device" on board that all submarine participating in exercises carry, without which you really can't have decent contact between our submarines and surface/aviation units. We also had one certain ship that is specially designed to listen for submarines, and can tell immediately if this device is working properly. That ship reported that the device on Greeneville wasn't working, so I relayed that to the sub. CDR Waddle replied back that they had verified that their device was working, so the problem was on our end. I told him a couple more times that this wasn't the case, unless the laws of physics had changed (I was actually more diplomatic than that). He still refused to believe the problem was on his boat, and so we eventually decided that we wouldn't even bother sending forces to look for Greeneville -- it wouldn't be worth it, with the few days left in the exercise. (In his defense, these devices can be tricky; when I was a JO, we had the same problem on Topeka, but every indication we had on board said the device was working. The difference is that we believed what everyone else was saying, and dug a little deeper until we found the problem.)

I figured that was the end of it, until I read an article in Time magazine back in April 2001. (The article is "premium content" now, so unless you have access to that, you'll have to trust me that I copied the following passage correctly -- and you should trust me; after all, I'm a Time subscriber.)

"...Waddle had always seen himself as destined to fight a war and told his men as much. In October 1999, in his first major sortie after taking command of the Greeneville, he took to sea off San Diego to fight a mock battle against the John C. Stennis carrier group. "They were one to two miles away, coming toward us at 18 knots--and we went up to periscope depth. I was taking my guys into the most dangerous peacetime situation. Any one of those ships could have ripped us apart. I told my men, 'We are going to engage these guys. If I go to war, you want to go to war with me, because I will put the enemy on the bottom and we will come home alive.' That's what gained me their confidence." It was typical Waddle--brash, daring, determined to succeed. He did a series of unorthodox maneuvers with the submarine to confound the carrier group. "They couldn't find us. We ran rings around them."

So here he is, in an article about how sorry he is, bragging about his "tactical skill". Of course the Battle Group couldn't find him -- his device wasn't working. We wouldn't have been able to find any American sub in a similar condition. And he probably knew that -- I'm sure that Squadron told him after he pulled back in that his device didn't work. But he still couldn't resist trying to make himself look good. (As a side note: If he really did make a speech like that to the crew, you just know that they were probably smirking and rolling their eyes... saying stuff like that just isn't the submariner's way.)

That's the thing that bugs me about CDR Waddle. I'm glad he took responsibility for what he did -- it was the right thing to do. But, now that he's done so, I really don't see what the point is of seemingly making it his life's work to repeatedly talk about how he continues to take responsibility. He's already said he's sorry. He's visited Japan. He's written his book. He's griped about the Navy. The next step in the coping process is to quietly fade away...

Going deep...

*"One data point" conclusion: If your sample size is one, your correlation will always be 1.0.

Submarine Thriller "Mission Complete" Will Not Rival Tom Clancy's Red October

posted originally and title adapted from Molten Eagle here:

Captain Wigley (USN retired), a USNA graduate, spent twenty-nine years on active duty involved directly or mostly with sophisticated nuclear submarines. Better schooled in military and political science than Tom Clancy he also posesses the operational experience and insider's knowledge of submarine details necessary to write a convincing thriller.

His first novel, Mission Complete, revolves around the terrorist takeover of a U.S. nuclear attack submarine. USS Tigerfish has been pirated at anchor off Piraeus. The submarine is still operated by its American crew who are brutaly tortured by communist guards. The commanding officer of the USS Jackfish (SSN945), attends a highly classified conference where it is revealed that an ultimatum was delivered to the President of the United States from a terrorist group demanding ransom money and disarmament of the U.S. strategic (nuclear weapons) arsenal. If the ultimatum is not met in 5 days (Christmas Eve), the terrorist will launch the Tigerfishes nuclear cruise missiles, annihilating Norfolk, Washington, New York, and Groton, Connecticuit.

Will Wigley's book be as successful as Tom Clancy's benchmark, The Hunt For Red October? Both involve attention to technical and operational details concerning military intelligence activities, one of the most secretive operational branches of the military, and technologies beyond the grasp of even average Americans. A best seller, Red October and its sequel books made Clancy wealthy. The USA box office performance of the film is in the all-time top 300 records (at #220). You will see from what follows that Clancy holds a 3-point lead over Wigley before the possibility of a cinematic production or sub-sim games are even considered:

Both involve the Cold War era - Mission Complete terrorists have soviet communist connections (versus outright* Islamic) SCORE: Clancy 1 ; Wigley 0.

Tom Clancy was an early, and to many, surprising defender of Islam after the WTC terror attacks, when he was one of the first experts interviewed on CNN on the day of 9/11.
SCORE: Clancy 0; Wigley 0. (Clancy went counterculture, Wigley seems to have wimped out of current events, although the hull number of Jackfish SSN-945 seems futuristic).

Realism: Red October was inspired by real events; On November 8, 1975, the Soviet Navy frigate Storozhevoy mutinied, which at the time the West believed was an attempt to defect from Latvia to Gotland. The mutiny was led by the ship's political officer, Captain Valery Sablin. Since the mutiny was unsuccessful; Sablin was captured, court-martialed and executed.
SCORE: Clancy 1; Wigley 0.

Triteness: The USS Tigerfish and USS Jackfish, unlike the USS Dallas in Clancy's story, are not the names of real or even former U.S. submarines. The fact that the name has been used in two Cold War era books (Ice Station Zebra and O God of Battles is an indication that rather than helping Wigley as it did Clancy, the USN may actually be restricting Wigley's story to trite fictionality. SCORE: Clancy 1; Wigley 0.

Conclusion (Disclaimer- Amazon reviews are not yet available; conjecture only):
Mission Complete may be an exciting read, but it is too early to know. Clancy wins, hands down. Why? The U.S. military assisted Clancy's success chiefly for submariner recruiting purposes. For the time being, there seem to be a few too many U.S. submarines and therefore, one of the toughest military volunteers to recruit and train (submariners) may soon be surplused. One needs only recall the attempted BRAC closing of the Groton submarine base, drastically reduced contracts for new submarine construction, and the declining numbers of subs in future fleets to believe the de-emphasis on submarines. Will and should the DOD's minimalist, fiscal thinking endure until quick recovery is impossible? Hopefully, the Pentagon will not worsen the mistakes of Pearl Harbor.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

USS Philadelphia Homeward Bound

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

The Navy has released five pictures of USS Philadelphia (SSN 690) pulling into Souda Bay, Crete. To view the thumbnails, you can click here and type in "SSN 690" into the "Photo Search" tab in the upper left. You can also view the individual pics by clicking here, here, here, here, and here. From each image, you can then click on the hi-res versions of the pictures.

It looks like they did a pretty good job on the cosmetic repairs when they were in port in Bahrain after their collision last month; here is what she looked like then:



And here's how she looks now:



It's actually hard to see much damage. There's clearly some visible repair work that's been done to the starboard fairwater plane. I knew that the rudder had taken a beating, so I wanted to see how that looked. I blew up the "after" picture above to focus on the rudder, and here's what I got:



It looks like there's some missing paint, but I really couldn't tell much else. I'm sure they wouldn't have let her get underway, though, if the rudder wasn't fully functional.

Some interesting details can be gleaned from the pictures for non-submariners. In the "after" picture above (and here) you can see submarine linehandling in action on the bow. One sailor is throwing a "heavie" to the pier, another is wrapping the line around the cleat, and the capstan is raised. (As an aside, submarine linehandling is often very comical -- we don't do it too much, and it shows. As often as not, you end up with the "heavies" wrapped around some overhead line, or 5 or 6 Sailors scratching their heads trying to figure out how to double the lines.) Another photo shows the "shifting colors" ceremony -- as the colors are raised on the stick aft of the sail, the flag on the bridge is taken down, while all hands salute. This is done immediately after the ship is "moored" (all four lines on, but not necessarily finished being secured).

If someone smarter than me sees any visible damage remaining (for example in this picture, which shows the towed array housing) let me know.

UK Could Extend Vanguard SSBN Lifespan.

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

The US has already planed to extend the Ohio Class Trident SSBN lifespan from 30 to 42 years. The UK could be taking the US lead and may extend it's Vanguard Class Trident SSBN to a similar length.

From The Herald in the UK "Trident fleet faces stretched lifespan to help curb defence costs"
(Hat tip: NOSI - Naval Open Source Intelligence)

BRITAIN is to try to stretch the operational lifespan of its four Trident missile submarines until at least 2035 to maintain its nuclear deterrent at minimal cost and risk, according to naval sources.

Tony Blair and John Reid, defence secretary, have both insisted recently that no decisions have been taken, but sources say they have already scrapped alternative plans for aircraft or submarine-launched cruise missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.

They have also rejected building a new generation of submarines despite the fact that replacing ageing intercontinental missiles, installing new reactor cores, and redesigning the existing British warheads could cost more than the original £12.2bn paid for the Trident system in the 1990s.

Royal Navy Vanguard SSBN

The lead UK boat is the HMS Vanguard commissioned in 1993. If the lifespan of this class is extended to 2035 this would put it in the same timeframe for replacement as the US Tridents. The last US Trident commissioned was the USS Louisiana SSBN 743 on 9/06/1997.

As of this date, there is no large-scale design or production program in place by either country to replace thier Trident Submarines. The development of a SSBN-X Follow-on to the Trident should start in the next 10 years. This is in order to replace the first of the Tridents to be decommissioned in approximately 2029.

Carter Departs For New Homeport... Twice

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

My last boat, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) is on her way to her new homeport in Bangor, Washington. (As usual, read the article quickly, since you'll need to register starting tomorrow.) [Update 2231: Longer lasting version of the article is here.] What makes this departure interesting is that they had to do it twice. According to the article:

“When they were in transit, somewhere in Long Island Sound, they took a nasty wave,” Lt. Mark Jones said. Water poured into the bridge hatch and damaged some computer equipment below, requiring that the submarine return to port, he said.
“It was essential, but an easy-to-fix piece of equipment,” Jones said. “It was an easy switch-out on the computer, and they were back to sea and on their way by Saturday.
"Carter had departed Friday for Bangor, Wash., as part of a planned change of homeport, after being commissioned last February. Bangor, which has increased security measures, has long been the homeport of the spy submarine USS Parche, which was decommissioned last year...

"...It left Groton Friday morning for its trip to Bangor, and was transiting the Sound on the surface until it reached water deep enough for it to dive.
"Two lookouts and the officer of the deck were standing watch at the top of the sail, as required when the ship is on the surface, when a huge wave swamped them, sending hundreds of gallons of water flushing down the bridge hatch at the same time.
"The Navy sources said the bridge was completely submerged by the wave, and that if the lookouts and the officer of the deck had not been clipped in because of the foul weather they could have been washed overboard."


The article goes on to mention that this is very similar to the scenario that caused the fire on HMCS Chicoutimi last year. Of course, taking water down the bridge hatch is a fairly common phenomenon on submarines, so most of the equipment that can be doused is fairly protected. I'm assuming that with the Carter, since she's a unique configuration, they moved some of the equipment around, so probably something that wasn't quite as "hardened" ended up in the path of the water as it bounces out of the "bear trap" (the area beneath the bridge access trunk designed to collect the water that comes down). Note that on Seawolf class boats, the main Control room is not on the top deck, so the bridge is access from the deck above Control -- and is a little more forward than other boats, just forward of the Combat System Electronics Space -- which has lots of nice juicy electronics. Also, the "boot" in front of the sail tends to worsen the effect of some waves coming in from certain angles, IMHO. I used to assign myself the surface watches coming in to Groton all the time on Connecticut, and I got plenty wet.

The article also mentions that the boat was in the yard for work on her hydraulic system just prior to her departure. This also doesn't surprise me; as you might guess, the extra 100 foot section has quite a bit of extra hydraulics that isn't present on the first two boats of the class. I wouldn't be shocked to learn that they had to do a little re-design work to make the system as robust as it needed to be.

There are few things more embarassing for a boat than to have to limp back into port after leaving for a long deployment (or, in this case, COHP). On my deployment on the good ship Topeka in 1992, we had something similar happen. Got underway on 03 Aug 1992 with all the pomp and circumstance surrounding such an event, and dived the boat. When we came back up to PD that evening, we started hearing this loud banging noise from the bridge. It turned out that the fairing for our radar mast had come loose on one side, and needed to be replaced. So, we contacted the base, got new orders, turned around, and headed back in. (Luckily, our sister ship USS Pasadena (SSN 752) was in port at the time, so we were able to cannibalize the fairing from her.)

Of more interest was what happened ashore. The squadron called the CO's wife and the ombudsman, letting them know that the boat was coming back in, but it would only be for a few hours, and the wives shouldn't bother to come down to the base. The word went out over the wive's phone tree, and by the time this was passed around, the wives understood that they were all to meet at the McDonald's on base with the Commodore, who was going to brief them on what was going wrong with the ship. Needless to say, there were dozens of anxious wives on the pier when we arrived. The XO eventually relented and let the guys whose wives had come go up and talk to them. We then got back underway that afternoon and rushed to catch up with the Battle Group.

Break... new topic. I mentioned earlier that the word on the street was that the author of this article, Robert Hamilton, was going to be leaving The Day and going to work for EB. Today's paper confirms this. We'll miss your straight-shooting reporting and submarine knowledge, Bob.

Going deep...

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Most Successful Submarine Class

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

The week after next, USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716) will be decommissioned in San Diego after just 21 years of commissioned service. This will drop the number of Los Angeles Class submarines remaining in the fleet to under 50.

This got me to thinking... is the Los Angeles Class the most successful submarine class of all time? Their combined years of service is greater than that of any class of nuclear boats, and they had the enviable distinction of never having had a boat lost... despite some close calls.

On the other hand, the Sturgeon class boats were probably more responsible for the actual "fighting" in the most intense periods of the Cold War, and none of them were lost either. While the LA's were clearly a "more capable" boat, I know a lot of guys who would rather sneak around in someone else's backyard in a 637 than anything else.

For myself, though, I'm going to cheat and combine two similar classes of boats into one to make it the "most successful sub class ever". The Gato/Balao class boats of WWII bore the brunt of the fighting in the Pacific war, sinking about 50% of the total Japanese shipping lost during the war and establishing a tradition for success that kept the U.S. in the forefront of undersea warfare to this day. Twenty-eight boats of these classes were lost in the fight. If success is measured in putting ordnance on target, these submarines, and the submariners who drove them, will likely never be surpassed.

Going deep...

Saturday, October 15, 2005

Alvin (DSV-2) to Start Last Refit

Cross posted by Lubber's Line at "Hunderds of Fathoms".

The Deep Submergence Vehicle (DSV) Alvin is scheduled to start a 6 month refit at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in mid October. This 40 year old sub may be undergoing it's last refit with the new deeper diving $21.6 million Alvin II scheduled to be built and delivered by 2008.

Alvin routinely undergoes a refit about every 3 years where it is completely disassembled down to the (1.9 in.) thick titanium personnel sphere. The DSV recently returned on 10/13 to Woods Hole, MA aboard it's support vessel R/V Atlantis from the Pacific.

Alvin Submerged (Source: NOAA)

If your interested to learn more about Alvin's 40 year history I have additional information over on my site at this post. - LL

Friday, October 14, 2005

In The Chaos of Battle

In the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October based on Tom Clancy's 1984 submarine thriller, future U.S. Senator Fred Dalton Thompson (TN) plays Rear Admiral Joshua Painter aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. One of the greatest lines of the entire movie is when Admiral Painter says, "This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we will be lucky to live through it."

The line expresses with perfection the likely fate of the submarine USS SEAWOLF (SS-197) on her 15th war patrol, during the invasion of Morotai.

The Navy admits SEAWOLF (her location then unknown) was probably sunk by units of her own navy. It was Tuesday, October 3, 1944. SEAWOLF and NARWHAL (SS-167) exchanged 'SJ' radar recognition signals at 0756. Two planes1 from USS MIDWAY (CVE-63), responding to the torpedoing and sinking of USS Shelton (DE-407) by Japanese IJN submarine (RO-41) eighteen miles away, bombed an unidentified submarine around 11 AM. The planes dropped a dye marker at the sub's last location. Soon, USS Rowell (DE-403) , arrived and saturated the area (which was within a designated submarine safe passage lane) with its depth charges.

In the ensuing chaos, faint (probably morse code) signals detected from below were interpreted as enemy attempts to jam Rowell's sound gear. The lethal attack continued until a large air bubble, oil slick and some floating debris were spotted. Later, the Navy realized SEAWOLF2 was overdue, and all 79 lives aboard had been lost.

SEAWOLF, known as Submarine Raider of the Pacific, and her crews had served their country proudly from the very first days of the war in the Pacific. Her missions had been expensive for the enemy, daring for her crew and distinctive for her bold commanding officers, including "Fearless Freddie" Warder3, who penetrated over 40 miles into a heavily protected harbor to engage the enemy. During her first fourteen patrols, SEAWOLF had sunk 27 enemy ships, and damaged 13. She had received the Navy Unit Commendation for her fourth patrol. On her thirteenth patrol, a Top Secret photographic reconnaissance of Peleliu Is. (Palau), she rescued two downed aviators during air raids. On her fourteenth patrol, SEAWOLF delivered cargo to guerrilla activities in the Philippines.

Notes: -1- Another sub, USS STINGRAY (SS-186) had also been attacked by planes from the Midway in the designated safety lane that day, but was luckier and survived the war. -2- Albert Bontier, unlucky new captain of SEAWOLF when she sank, had been assigned to command the aging sub after having been relieved of duty for running RAZORBACK aground off New London. SEAWOLF was en route to Samar with 17 U.S. Army agents and tons of "supplies" aboard when sunk. -3- As commander of the Atlantic submarine force, Rear Admiral Frederick B. Warder's flagship was SEAWOLF's nuclear namesake, SSN 575.

Originally posted at Molten Eagle here.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

Would You Like Cheese on Your Slider?

Our friends in the Great White North are missing something -- 1 ton of cheese.

Read Link - Submerged cheese vanished in fjord.

I suspect the French, after all it was in Quebec and the French do have submarines.

Oh, for the non-quals a slider is a hamburger.

Submarine Launch Helps Russia and EU Space Vehicle Tests Defy PETA (not dolphins)

No dolphins in this Molten Eagle scenario, but could it be a chimpanzee? Whatever the animal, it is not a dolphin. You may want to read some more background at Lubber's Line "Russian Submarine Launched Spacecraft - failures", if you have not read the story before.

If the CO ordered his crew never to discuss something with PETA (and he would probably not have to issue such an order to members of the Silent Service ), the 1957 debate over a dog's suffering would not happen again. Amazing, considering it is the Borisoglebsk's captain in 2005 and there is now a PETA chapter in Moscow.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Who was Josef Papp?

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

Josef Papp was a Hungarian-Canadian engineer who in 1966 claimed to have built the worlds fastest submarine with a speed of over 300 MPH.

Papp claimed to have built a unique jet propulsion and engine system that drove his home built submarine at such a high speed that it was enveloped in a bubble of air or supercavitation. He even wrote a book about the submarine's design, construction and sea trial titled "The Fastest Submarine".

The Fastest Submarine?

Papp's story is so fantastic that has been placed in the realm of hoaxes and frauds.

On August 11, 1966, after being missing for a few days from his home in Canada, Joseph Papp was picked up from a life raft by a fishing boat off Brest, France. Bruised, bloodied and dressed in a flight helmet and goggles Papp claims to have just bailed out of his high-speed experimental submarine. When questioned further Papp explains that he had traveled in his sub across the Atlantic solo and in just 13 hours. According to Papp, the submarine had become unstable during the voyage and after he bailed out it sank never to be found.

With no real evidence of his fantastic feat and two round trip plane tickets to France found in his pocket, Papp was quickly dismissed as a prankster.

Josef Papp who died in 1989, was described as an extremely paranoid, very unstable, selfish, and unpredictable man. But this odd man's life has other interesting controversies besides his submarine adventure. Papp was an inventor holding three US patents: "Method and Means for Generating Explosive Forces", "Method and Means of Converting Atomic Energy into Utilizable Kinetic Energy" and "Inert Gas Fuel, Fuel Preparation Apparatus and System for Extracting Useful Work from the Fuel". Joseph Papp's Noble Gas Engine is another fraud that may or may not be a fraud.

Just goes to show you, anyone interested in submarines and atomic energy may not have both oars in the water, but then again they may. Yet another unsolvable controversy ;-)

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Blogger Rides A Brit SSN

[Intel Source: Chapomatic, via Neptunus Lex] Freelance British journalist Blackrat recently took a ride aboard HMS Trenchant, and blogs about it. Lots of good pictures! One thing I couldn't figure out, though: What system of measurement are they using on the rudder markings? They're too big to be centimeters -- I'm guessing decimeters; it looks like there are about 20 of them in about six feet, which is about right. Anyone know for sure?

Going deep...

Where Is the NAV-ET? UK Nav Officer Avoiding Wrecks

Here is a link to an interesting post with a photo of HMS Trenchant's (S91) Navigation Officer, Lt. Gareth Jenkins, plotting a course on a chart with 200 plus wrecks in the shallow waters of the continental shelf. Hmm, we used to do that on our own SSNs. Nice work RN.

Trenchant is one of the Trafalgar class nuclear subs, the UK's most advanced until introduction of the Astute class (originally known as Batch 2 Trafalgar) with a modified front hull.

Should the US press RN navigators into service aboard SSNs? British captains once boarded American ships and pressed American sailors into service, claiming merchant seamen were deserters from the Royal Navy. France and Britain were at war, but British captains "impressed" 6,200 American sailors. HMS Shannon engaged USS Chesapeake and killed or fatally wounded most of Chesapeake's officers, including Capt. Lawrence (whose dying words were "Don't give up the ship"). On June 19, 1812 the United States declared war on Britain to defend the principle of "free trade and sailor's rights."

The Sea Is Full Of Danger...

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Over at Rontini's BBS, a poster put up a one of the classics from the SubmarineSailor.com humor page that I thought was a perfect ice-breaker for a lazy October Sunday morning:

THE TEN MOST DANGEROUS THINGS ON A SUBMARINE

10. An A-ganger who can actually read.
9. A mechanic with anything electrical.
8. The 3" launcher and anything that goes in it.
7. The COB ('nuff said).
6. Any time a LT says, "I was just thinking..."
5. An Ensign who says, "Based on my experience....."
4. Any of the unenlightened group known as non-quals.
3. A Sonar Supe who says, "Trust me, it's biologics."
2. A skinny MS
1. Anybody saying, "Hey, watch this s*** !"

The list is a little outdated (MS's are now "Culinary Specialists" and the new boats have bigger launchers). To this list, I would add "An officer with a tool" -- this was always the thing that scared me the most. Anyway, feel free to add your own in the comments, or submit your favorite adjective used to describe the aforementioned non-quals (e.g. "air-breathing", "rack-taking", "scrubber loading", etc.).

Going deep...

Update 0945 09 Oct: Here's another great quote from the humor page:

OOD, at PD in sea state 1: "Dive, Mark your depth! Belay that, I'll get it off the rudder!"

It reminded me of the smart-ass litany I used to use on any "wandering helmsman":

Me: "Helm, mark your head."
Helm: "Ship's head is xxx."
Me; "Helm, mark ordered course."
Helm: "Ordered course is yyy." (where yyy ≠ xxx by quite a bit)
Me: "Helm... mind your helm."

Friday, October 07, 2005

Russian Submarines - Photos and Command Report

Photos
The Russian website NewsTeam.ru has a Photo Report up titled "Submarines-Russian underwater shield" with 25 photos of various Russian Submarines. Click on the link in the title or go to individual links below.

Project 941 Typhoon SSBN

Links list Russian ID then NATO ID and general classification

Project 641 Foxtrot SS

Project 667 Yankee SSBN Project 667 BDRM Delta IV SSBN

Project 671 Victor SSN

Project 941 Typhoon SSBN

Project 949A Oscar II SSGN

Project 971 Akula SSN

Command
The Russian Navy still has a large submarine force with variety of capabilities, but just as many of their subs are rusting away so is the command structure, as noted in this St Petersburg Times story "Submarine Vets Call For Release of Report". Russian submarine veterans are becoming increasing more vocal about command problems as detailed in the unreleased report of the Komsomolets disaster. News report excerpt:

Boris Muratov, a retired 1st rank submarine captain and an expert who investigated the causes of the Komsomolets sinking said the scenarios of all the Russian submarine disasters are very similar.
“Captains’ decisions should be driven by logic, not fear, and only stable, independent-thinking officers should qualify for the job,” Muratov said.

Yevgeny Chernov a decorated Soviet veteran, retired submariner and a former vice-admiral concurred.

“Officers from naval headquarters set tasks incompetently, and the humble captains go on performing them, regardless of the resources available to them,” Chernov said. “Many leaders simply don’t fit their jobs and can’t cope with the responsibilities their posts involve.”


The old Soviet Navy had a significant number of submarine accidents and the Russian Navy continues to have it's share of problems. The difference now being, that submarine veterans can speak out about those problems without ending up in a Siberian salt mine.

Thursday, October 06, 2005

Compare and Contrast

First:  Two US destroyers collide – and their CO’s are…?
Second:  US submarine and merchant collide, and its CO is…?

As a note, the Philadelphia article is the first one I have seen that gives some clue as to what was going on in the bridge of the Yasa Aysen – and it seems pretty clear that the merchant was in fact overtaking the sub.

Cross-Posted at The Discomfort of Thought

Ship to Shore

(Crossposted from "Unconsidered Trifles") I'm curious to hear the stories that my fellow submariners--particularly those who served on LA Class boats--have about their patron city. Prompting my curiosity is this story about the USS AUGUSTA (SSN 710):

Outgoing USS Augusta Capt. Mike Haumer said his crew contacted the city during his tenure, but the connections never grew beyond that.

"A few times we tried and made some overtures with city officials. We had some discussions, but we never got together, unfortunately," Haumer said.

New ships often have close communications with their namesake cities, but Haumer said relations between older ships and their sponsoring communities often grow weaker over time.

"It kind of depends on the city, and not so much the leadership of the city, but more the Navy League of that city," the ship captain said. "If the Navy League is very active pushing the local leadership to be active, they're more active."

I really have to agree with that last statement. It was very gratifying for me when my CO asked me to go to Albany, NY as his representative at the celebration of the 100th Anniversary of the Albany Association (note: website plays sound/music!!).

The members of this society were great patriots who absolutely rolled out the red carpet for the Chief of the Boat, several crew members, and myself. I can't say that Albany was all that impressive per se, but its people were without a doubt beautiful.

I felt especially privileged to hear the sea stories of the veterans who served aboard the then cruiser (CA 123) Albany.

Incidentally, the above story about the USS Augusta recalls this 1986 incident:
While on patrol in 1986, the new submarine was involved in what was suspected to be a collision with Soviet Union submarine. The incident was hushed up by the Navy, but repairs were said at the time to cost $2.7 million.
Anybody got the UNCLAS details on that one?

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Latest Sub Thriller Book

from Molten Eagle post:

About Red Star Rogue: "The Untold Story of a Soviet Submarines Nuclear Strike Attempt on the U.S."
"One of the great secrets of the Cold War, hidden for decades, is revealed at last." by Kenneth Sewell and Clint Richmond

Monday, October 03, 2005

Prehistoric Nuke Training Stories

As promised I've documented a few recollections about NPT at SubBase NLON over on my blog Ok2b Nought in response to Bubbleheads lead on Old Nuke Training facilities.

Now He's Just Making Stuff Up

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Noted as a sphincter-brimmed writer for Soldiers For The Truth, Lt. Raymond Perry USN (Ret.) is apparently that website's "expert" on submarine matters. I've previously discussed the accuracy of his writing, and I've had a good time doing so. It's apparent that he doesn't read my comments, though, because he continues to put out ridiculous commentary that has no real basis in reality.

His most recent article starts out pretty well, mostly because he seems to have lifted it straight from Bob Hamilton's article in The New London Day on the possibility that the USS Philadelphia and M/V Yaso Aysen were involved in a "crossing" vs. "overtaking" scenario in their recent collision. [I had discussed this a few days earlier, and some of my thoughts seem to be echoed in the article as well -- good for you, Lt. Perry (Ret)!]

Later on, though, he gets into the part of the article where he has to provide his own thoughts, and here's where it starts to go downhill:

"Cdr Oxholm and his Officer of the Deck were obligated by the Submarine Force Ethos to turn away 10,000 yards earlier, regardless of the Rules of the Road. He did not and has paid the price.
"Commanding Officers have a document called Standing Orders that interpret law and regulation and give personal direction to Officer's of the Deck. It is surprising how few COs will say simple and direct things like "Don't have a collision" in Standing Orders. In my observation, the best COs always had simple things up front in their orders, like: "what ever else you are doing don't have a collision."
"Officers of the Deck solve many problems and cope with many things during their watch. Sometimes they may allow the wrong thing to be at the top of their "to do list." Such direct and simple guidance by their CO goes a long way to make sure the priorities of the Officer of the Deck are kept right."


Well, I can't say that he's an asshat here -- that would imply that his head was up his ass, and that can't be, because he had to have some room to put his hand up there so he could pull that number out of it. Submarines have to maneuver when they get within 10,000 yards of a surface contact? Where the hell did he come up with that? Now, without getting too much into the classified nature of the COs Standing Orders, I can say that they do mention a couple of range numbers, none of which are that high, and the highest number is the range at which you should inform the CO; the number for maneuvering is much lower. If a sub had to maneuver off the track of any ship that got within 10Kyds, they'd never be able to make it back into port.

Regarding the CO's Standing Orders: I've discussed them before in the context of the San Francisco grounding, and I agree that they aren't the most perfect document. I've also mentioned that they're a Sub Force-generated document, and the CO doesn't really have much latitude in personalizing them. That being said, Lt. (Ret) Perry's complaint that they don't "...say simple and direct things like 'Don't have a collision'... " is pretty much the most retarded thing I've ever read. I really don't think that the OOD (who was a Department Head) came down from the bridge after the collision and thougt, "Man, if only the CO's Standing Orders had reminded me not to have a collision, I would have been OK". I can just imagine the Standing Orders (Ret) Lt. Perry would like to see:
1) Remember to breathe
2) Gravity tends to cause objects to fall
3) Ships stay afloat because of buoyancy
4) You haven't forgotten to breathe, have you?

If I had seen a statement like "Don't have a collision" in a set of standing orders, I would have laughed my ass off, and figured that the person writing them was a skimmer or something. Wait, Perry, Lt. (Ret) was a skimmer himself... ah, I get it now.

Anyway, I've come to the conclusion that (Ret) Perry, Lt., is turning into some sort of a humor writer, and I think that it's great that Soldiers For The Truth is able to provide such chuckles during a time of war. Thanks for making us laugh... it's more important now than ever.

Staying at PD...

Saturday, October 01, 2005

Female Submarine Crew Advisability

The female crew controversy was instigated by a former administration which prided itself on reducing military might in general and eliminating all-male institutions in particular. Interested persons will find a biased sampling of opinions from a variety of sources here at Molten Eagle. I believe submariners of the Cold War era will find the opinions particularly interesting.

Due to length and inclusion of a photo, I did not cross post in this blog to save bandwidth. Rob (Olympia), Bubblehead (Richter 3.2), and Chapomatic are forewarned that their sensibilities may be violated because the forbidden 'L' word was also used (once).