Sunday, November 27, 2005

Thanksgiving Sunday Submerged

Yes, I meant Sunday. Once on a boomer patrol the whole crew was surprised by a 1MC announcement by the XO, “Thanksgiving Day will be celebrated on Sunday instead of the traditional Thursday. Normal weekday routine will be carried out this Thursday.”

I’m not sure if this was the only time a submarine XO exercised such power, but it was the only time I had experienced or even heard of it. The amazing thing about this occurrence is that it seemed normal to experience another way to demand additional performance from the crew. (Thursday was a routine field-day day.)

Can anyone name the boat this occurred on??

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Israel's MAD Dolphins

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

According to news reports the Germans are going ahead with plans to sell Israel two new AIP-equipped Dolphin class SSK submarines. Israel already owns three Dolphin submarines acquired from Germany in a deal made after the first gulf war. These Dolphin subs replaced Israel's German built Gal Class submarines, which entered service in 1977.

The Dolphin class is designed for interdiction, surveillance and special-forces operations with torpedo and cruise missile weapons capabilities.

Dolphin Class Submarine

Specifications
Crew - 30 - 35
Displacement, surfaced - 1,640 tons surfaced , 1,720-1900 [est] submerged
Length - 57.3 m (188ft)
Beam - 6.8 m (22.6ft)
Dived speed - 20 knots
Operating Depth - Deeper than 200m (600 feet)
Cruise Range - 8,000 miles surfaced, 400 miles submerged
Weapons capacity - 16 surface to surface missiles or torpedoes
Sensors - PRS-3 passive ranging sonar, kollmorgen periscopes
Propulsion - three 16v mtu 396 se 84 diesel engines, single screw.

These new Dolphin submarines will be equipped with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system not on Israel's current submarine inventory. This system would significantly increase the subs submerged range and stealth.

It is rumored that Israel in 2002 off Sri Lanka tested a nuclear-capable version of the Popeye Turbo cruise missile from one of it's Dolphin Class submarines. This Submarine Launched Cruise Missile (SLCM) reported range was about 1,500 km, significantly larger then any other SLCM variant carried by Israeli subs.

The rumours concerning Israel's nuclear-capable cruise missiles had stalled these additional sales from Germany in 2003, as did Israeli reluctance over the price. The current deal is reported to be worth EUR 1 billion ($1.17 billion) for the two AIP-equipped SSK Dolphin Class submarines.

The $1.17 billion acquisition of these submarines constitutes a major outlay from the Israeli defense budget which was about $9.1 billion in 2003.

Why should Israel acquire modern SSKs?

One reason is the rise of terrorist organizations using sea piracy as a means of income and economic intimidation. The North Africa region around Somalia has seen recent pirate activity. Additionally the sea has been an avenue for terrorist attacks in Israel.

Three Middle Eastern countries also operate submarines in the region; Egypt, Pakistan and Iran of which Iran's government continues to be openly threatening to Israel.

It's easy to speculate that with Iran's nuclear ambitions, stone walling of UN and EU nuclear inspections and continued support of terrorism, Germany has made a strategic decision here by going forward with the once stalled purchase. By providing Israel a weapons delivery platform that could provide a nuclear second strike capability they could be brokering a Middle East version of the old cold war MAD mutual assured destruction stalemate. This could also be seen as a way of putting pressure on Iran to cooperate with the IAEA.

Israel Map (Source CIA Fact Sheet)

The main Israeli submarine flotilla is based at the Mediterranean seaport of Haifa, but there is a Naval installation in the port of Eilat on the Red Sea. Eilat Naval base with it's Red Sea access would allow Israeli submarines to operate in the volatile Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf areas. The Eilat Naval Base is where the "Karine A" weapon smuggling freighter was taken after it was seized in January 3, 2002 by Israeli special forces.

If the news reports are correct and Israel does have nuclear weapons, it looks as though a sea based nuclear deterrent force is in the making.

Update 12/07: Bubblehead has an update relating to 'Subs In Countries That Start With 'I''.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Waiting, Watching and No Telling (Updated)

How well does the average American read between the lines? Research tells us that the average reading level is at the 7th or 8th grade.

Remember, the question was how well do average Americans read between the lines. If, on average, Americans read at even the 8th grade level, 50% of the surveyed Americans do not read well enough to find a single piece of information in a short publication, nor make low level inferences based on what they read. What about the other 50% (us)?

Reading between the lines requires putting together information, perceiving relationships and making inferences.* Legally, we are not required to do this, and public education gives it little emphasis. Submarines have been called "Always Silent and Always Strange" (by yours truly). Test yourself on ability to read between the lines on the following:
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Baxter's Column, USCS Log, November, 2005
"After further inspection it was discovered that more damage occurred than originally thought." The housing for towed array was 'crumpled'. Some sound absorbing tiles were naturally strewn asunder. The rest of the damage listing is described as 'fairly long'. - Hank Baxter Baxter's Column, USCS Log, November 2005.)

Submarine involved in September collision returns home
"She obviously came 8,000 miles back so she does everything she needs to do and was able to answer the bell and accomplish all tasks, .... the submarine suffered minor damage to the deck, rudder and stern that will require about a week of repair work. Navy officials said they're not sure where they'll send the submarine for final repairs."Capt. Robert J. Brennan, commanderSSN-690

Electric Boat says it will lay off 150
The layoffs will occur early next year, the company said. The Philadelphia, which is based in Groton, returned to the base Wednesday after a five-month deployment marked by a Sept. 5 collision with a Turkish cargo ship in the Persian Gulf. The planned maintenance and repair was not associated with the moderate damage done to the boat in the collision.

EB layoffs are downside of BRAC process
The USS Philadelphia, homeported in Groton, will travel to Portsmouth for its overhaul, and you can be sure that Portsmouth will get more repair contracts.

UPDATE (11/23): KITTERY, Maine --A decision to repair a nuclear submarine at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard instead of at privately owned Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., will save the U.S. Navy $59 million, a Navy spokesman said.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Good luck! As the title says, I will not be giving out any answer. Once Silent Service, always Silent Service.

* inference - a conclusion or logical judgment based upon circumstantial evidence and prior conclusions rather than direct observation.

Subs Return Home: Babies Held, Wives Kissed

At least four boats have returned home in the last month from deployments: USS Philadelphia, USS Memphis, USS Key West, and USS Louisville. As is appropriate, the Navy NewsStand photos focused on what was important to the crew: seeing your family again.

They had pictures of babies being held here and here, and pictures of wives being kissed here and here. For us sub pr0n fans, they had a decent picture of USS Louisville's bridge, and, in a rare action shot, we get to see the traditional lei being deployed on USS Key West. A closer version of the above-linked shot is below:

Have a good time on stand down, guys... you've earned it.

Going deep...

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Bridge Box Follies

[Crossposted at Unconsidered Trifles] A submariner grows to love and hate certain pieces of equipment on board--not true? High on my list of fond machines/systems was the EMBT system, for obvious reasons.

But I hated the bridge box. Hated it. Mind you, I think that this hatred admittedly stemmed from a feeling of vulnerability that actually points to just how important this piece of gear was--it was an absolutely lifeline between little 'ole me up on the bridge and the rest of the boat. Why then did the blessed thing never work, for crying out loud!? You'd think the Navy....ah, forget it.

Perhaps my hatred also stems from the fact that there was quite a long period where I was frequently assigned to be the first OOD to man the bridge upon surfacing and returning to Norfolk. So, me and the old bridgebox spent a lot of time together, you might say--with me often carrying that thing up through the trunk and to the bridge. I have many fond memories of me sweating my butt off while crouched in the escape trunk, in the dark, waiting to pop the hatch and man the bridge--and all this while hugging the bridgebox. Why not, you ask, have your lookout lug that thing up there? Ah, well there you get at my fear and loathing of that blessed machine--a machine that once attacked our XO! Saw it with my own eyes while standing in Control. Out of nowhere that thing fell from the bridge trunk right on top of his head. Leapt right out of an unqualified JO's grasp, it did! No, I wanted to carry that thing up myself so that as soon as we established "No close contacts!" I could rig it and be in business while my lookout fiddled with all the clamshells and the windshield.

...oh, don't get me started on that %#@*^& windshield!!!!!!

Anyway, all of this is prelude to my point or rather question:

Would somebody take a look at this pic of the USS Key West (SSN 722) and tell me what that box is at the CO's and OOD's feet? Is it the bridge box--that doesn't quite look right to me, but if not, what is it? And (my real question) what the hell is it doing up there like that? UNCLAS responses only, of course.

Educate an old submariner who's boat knowledge is being whittled away by grad school and the early stages of Alzheimer's.

Thanks. (Story and Pic courtesy of The Sub Report)

Rogue Trident: A Novel

[Crossposted from Unconsidered Trifles] Fellow submariners will recognize this situation: it's late in a midwatch and (just when you think it will be another uneventful night of staring at dials and logbooks) someone in Maneuvering asks a question out of left field that starts a long, enthusiastic conversation--often with someone chiming-in that "that would make a great novel!"

Well, one former USS Kentucky (SSBN 737) officer had precisely that experience--and acted on it!
Hindinger was passing time by talking with others during a mid-watch in the 1990s aboard USS Kentucky (SSBN 737). He then found himself kicking around the question, how, if a Sailor lost his marbles, could he steal a submarine? The question made for some good fodder during the watch for his shipmates, but Hindinger took the question further and wrote a book based around the discussion.
Now, a decade and 20 re-writes later, John Hindinger has a novel out: Rogue Trident. As a matter of fact, he's already (in two months) finished the sequel to this book!

And how many submariners can relate to this as well:

Following his time on USS Kentucky, Hindinger set about the process of writing the book and initially used it as a way to kill time.

''Writing helped relieve boredom while I was on shore duty,'' said Hindinger. ''I started out writing science fiction and started this book in 1996.''

Good for him! Way to act on those inclinations, work hard, and see a dream come true.

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

USS Philadelphia Returns Home

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

USS Philadelphia (SSN 690), which was involved in a collision with the Turkish M/V Yaso Aysen in the Arabian Gulf in September, returned home to Groton today. On the same day, the Squadron Deputy who had taken over command when the CO was fired turned the boat over to her new, permanent CO. Captain Brennan, the emergency CO, discussed the boat's material condition thusly:

"She obviously came 8,000 miles back so she does everything she needs to do and was able to answer the bell and accomplish all tasks," said Brennan, who commended the crew Wednesday for its performance after the accident. He said the submarine suffered minor damage to the deck, rudder and stern that will require about a week of repair work. Navy officials said they're not sure where they'll send the submarine for final repairs."

I earlier discussed various aspects of the Philly collision (in reverse chronological order) here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.

Welcome home, guys... and here's hoping you don't get screwed out of the I & I you deserve.

Going deep...

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Subs in Fiction

[Crossposted from Unconsidered Trifles] You may recall I'm reading Ted Bell's terrific page-turner, Pirate. Well, I've now finished it.

No spoilers here, but I want to let my fellow sub bloggers know that two subs are mentioned in the novel. The USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) is mentioned in passing--and the news is not good. (Come to think of it, it's a bit of a loose thread that the novel leaves unresolved.)

The Seawolf (SSN 21) plays a crucial role in the novel, though there were a few problems with this. First, for reasons I cannot explain, the boat supposedly makes a high-speed transit on the surface. Second, and more disturbingly, the part that it plays gets, I believe, bested by a couple of lousy F/A-18 Hornets. You read the book yourself and decide if I'm overly sensitive to the reputation of submarines in works of fiction. LOL.

When you add it all up, my hunch is that Ted Bell is more of an aviator nerd than a sub nerd, and that I'm gonna have to set him straight if I ever get the chance to meet him!! LOL.

Regardless, be sure to ask Santa for a copy of Ted Bell's Pirate!

(note: any opinions expressed in this posting are solely my own and may not reflect the opinions of other sub bloggers on this site. lol)

Monday, November 14, 2005

Retired Submariner's Sad Walk

Darrel Johnson had retired from the submarine Navy. No doubt some of the older vets may have encountered or known him during their service. He had been living in east Tacoma since retiring from the Port of Tacoma as an electrician. Johnson was a few weeks shy of 70.

He set out for his daily walk last January, using a cane he needed after his hip replacement. Witnesses said an attacker knocked him to the ground, kicked him in the face, and stomped his head before running away. Johnson lingered in a coma for a week, and died. No motive was ever established, although robbery was alleged and gangs are rife.

A month later, 19-year-old Andrew Brown pleaded guilty to first-degree murder in exchange for dropping the death penalty. Under sentencing guidelines, 30 years was the maximum, allowable sentence.

When the judge sentenced Brown, a woman shouted 30 years in prison is unfair because the victim "wasn't going to live forever." The 20- second courtroom brawl that followed was captured on video. I have not watched it, and do not recommend that anyone should.

CBS calls the brawl strange and offbeat. No, the attitude expressed by the woman was strange and offbeat! I am saddened for Johnson and his entire family, some of whom had forgiven this senseless victimization of an honorable veteran.

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Regulus: The First Nuclear Missile Submarines

Nick Spark, the director of "Regulus" and several other submarine historical movies, contacted me not too long ago and offered to send along a couple of the films from Periscope Film to watch and review. And just two days ago I received "Regulus: The First Nuclear Missile Submarines" and "The Nuclear Pioneers".

"Regulus" was outstanding. Two thumbs up, five stars, a great historical film. I'd read a little and heard a little of the Regulus program, but very little...mainly in reading about the post-Regulus exploits of a couple of the SSN's that had been outfitted to carry the missile (and later were converted for covert operations, the old Regulus hangars used to carry cable tapping gear). I toured the Growler, one of the Regulus diesal boats, now a museum in New York City. But I knew precious little about the program itself.

Turns out (and to you "old timers" who served on these boats, this is old news) that the Regulus missile was a nuke, and the Regulus boats were the great-grandaddies of the Trident SSBN's in service today. From the late '50's through the Cuban missile crisis, the Regulus SSG's and SSGN's were the Navy's nuclear deterrent (along with a handful of surface ships and carriers that handled the missile). Regulus itself was a follow-on to the German V-1 rockets that we captured at the close of WWII.

Regulus had a short life...the second Regulus missile never really made it into production. But it broke ground in submarines carrying missiles, and the boats shown in the film pioneered many of the ideas we now take for granted in the "boomer" and Tomahawk programs of the modern submarine force.

Spark's film was outstanding...highly recommended, excellently made, with extra footage and dozens of photos, interviews with Regulus test personnel and the submarine crews, and a lot of footage that has only recently been declassified. A rare look into the early days of missiles on subs.

(A note to the crew of Ultraquiet...I'd be more than happy to send along both movies for viewing...email me for details.)



Friday, November 11, 2005

A Sub Vet's Story

To my fellow Veterans: thank you for your service. On this Veteran's Day, I'd like to share this story (crossposted at Unconsidered Trifles) about a Sub Vet--a Lieutenant and an English major to boot!--as he had to face Admiral Rickover to enter "his" nuke sub program back in its early days:
“I thought I was a pretty hot pistol, a lieutenant, been on a submarine,” he says. “He was there, looked up at me, said ‘Who the hell are you?’ I gave him my name. ‘What do you want?’ I told him, ‘I want to go on your nuclear sub.’ He had my papers on his desk. ‘What did you do at Harvard?’ I said I majored in English lit and history. ‘You what? You know what you are?’ I said no sir. ‘You are an intellectual bum. Get the hell out of here.’ So I said, ‘OK. I don’t need any of this,’ and I started to leave.”
Let's hear it for us "intellectual bums" here in the Humanities! hoo-RAY! ... LOL

Thursday, November 10, 2005

Are Submariners Superstitious? -As A Group, No.

The first USS Maine was a "Second Class Battleship” designated an Armored Cruiser (ACR-1 ). The next two Maines were battleships BB-10 and the BB-69 (never built).

The third, commissioned USS Maine is the SSBN-741 an Ohio-class, Trident ballistic missile nuclear submarine. This USS Maine played a part in Tom Clancy's techno-thriller The Sum of All Fears. In the book, the Maine is destroyed by a Soviet submarine. Clancy used an author’s gimmick to inject realism, knowing some people were already familiar with the destruction of the first Maine, ACR-1.

In fact, the mast of the ACR-1 is displayed at the Arlington National Cemetery memorial honoring those lost when that ship mysteriously exploded in 1898, in Havana Harbor. The explosion and loss of life lead to the Spanish-American War. In 1976, Admiral Hyman G. Rickover published his research, How the Battleship Maine Was Destroyed. The admiral applied modern science to determine the actual cause of Maine’s explosion. Using documentation from original courts of inquiry, as well as information on the construction and ammunition of Maine, his research concluded that damage caused was inconsistent with an explosion due to an external mine. The most likely cause, was spontaneous combustion of coal in the bunker next to the magazine.

Rickover is historically connected to the Maine disaster through his book, and to the submarine Maine as Father of the Nuclear Submarine Navy.

By necessity and selection, submariners are among the least superstitious and most cerebral of any branch in the armed forces. As Juan Caruso says in the first line of his poem Extreme Creatures, “... (they) Who suffer no attrition upon news their kind are sunk”.

The fact is reinforced too often during war, but sufficiently even in "peace." Ask those assigned to subs named the same as an earlier, sunk one or even earlier sunk two. Ask the nonquals in sub school when Thresher or Scorpion were lost with no convincing explanations forthcoming for months or years. Ask those who have transited the Bermuda Triangle submerged and often, who have slept under tons of thick ice and crushing water. Ask those who heard their ship creak under deep dives, and watch deck plates buckle. Ask those who fought real fires, leaks and vital system failures in near total darkness. You either remember these or get the picture.

We had one crewman need a sedative when a practice, MK 45 dented our superstructure (in a friendly 'attack' exercise) just inches from the rack where he had been sleeping. A nuclear torpedo hit that close and personal was an alarm clock from hell for him. As you might imagine, we found humor and thought what our own reactions would have been.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Word Verification Now Enabled

In an effort to reduce our comment spam, we've enabled the "word verification" feature in the comments. This will require a commenter to type in a series of letters that you can read but automated "spamming" programs can't. Hopefully this won't cause too many problems for our loyal readers.

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Outnumbered AND Compromised?

Not so long ago, I noted with great concern that we are allowing our navy to shrink rapidly, during a time when China is feverishly building up its own. At the time, there was also a strong possibility that we were going to close a submarine base and a naval shipyard, both in New England, costing our nation part of its submarine-building infrastructure. The good news is that both were spared.

The bad news is that China's espionage efforts in America seem to have paid off handsomely in the realm of naval technology in general and in submarine technology in particular. Via Matt Drudge and Four Knots to Nowhere, Bill Gertz reports the devastating news in the Washington Times.

[Read more here. Links relate in more detail topics such as the Chinese capability to invade Taiwan, the scope of its espionage efforts in America, and the projected size of the American Navy.]

-- CAV

Four arrests linked to Chinese spy ring

Well, THIS doesn't look good. (Crossposted from Four Knots to Nowhere)

Four persons arrested in Los Angeles are part of a Chinese intelligence-gathering ring, federal investigators said, and the suspects caused serious compromises for 15 years to major U.S. weapons systems, including submarines and warships.

China covertly obtained the Aegis technology and earlier this year deployed its first Aegis warship, code-named Magic Shield, intelligence officials have said.

The Chinese also obtained sensitive data on U.S. submarines, including classified details related to the new Virginia-class attack submarines.

Officials said based on a preliminary assessment, China now will be able to track U.S. submarines, a compromise that potentially could be devastating if the United States enters a conflict with China in defending Taiwan.


Full article at The Washington Times.

Thursday, November 03, 2005

Two interesting sub sites and a pack of DVD's

I got an email recently from the maker of the film "Regulus: The First Nuclear Missile Submarines", and he passed on these two sites:

The Regulus Missile and Regulus Submarine Website

Periscope Film

(They are both hosted on AOL, but I'll forgive that one :)

He's offered to send along some complimentary DVD's for review (and I'll be more than happy to pass 'em along to the rest of the Ultraquiet crew). They are also available at Amazon.

From his email, here's a short listing of what he's put out:

This year I got diligent about making this a reality, and this past week my partner Doug and I have just launched the third of five planned submarine film DVDs. This new one is called "The Cold War Below" and it features six rare films from the Polaris submarine era. It joins two other DVDs we've already released, "The Nuclear Pioneers" (Nautilus, Triton and Tunny) and "The Silent Service in WWII". (The other titles in the series, to-be-released soon, "Anti-Submarine Warfare" and "The Cutting Edge.")


Sounds historic!

What's in a name?

Oh, I'm glad you guys are posting about sub names, 'cause this (totally random, trivial) thought occurred to me the other day and I forgot to post this question--delete this post if someone's already addressed this...

What do the letters in the submarine designators "SSN" or "SSBN" stand for--specifically, I want to know why the Navy doubles the letters on some occasions and other times does not. I know, of course, that the attributes of the ship (i.e. that it is "nuclear" or carries ballistic or guided missiles) is usually tacked on to the end. That's fine. But why the double letters?

You might say, for example, that "SS" stands for "submersible ship" or "ship, submarine" or whatever ... but hold on a second--that can't be right 'cause the designators "BB" for battleship wouldn't make sense.

And it seems the Navy does NOT always double the letters -- as it does with "DD" or "DDG". The example that leaps to mind is "CVN". Why not "CCVN" (or "CCN" or "CVCVN")?

As I said, these ruminations are admittedly random and trivial--such are the places my mind wanders to when walking to and from campus!!! LOL.

Thanks in advance for any and all explanations!

UPDATE (11/3/05; 2330 EST): Vigilis very resourcefully provided a link to the explanation (see comments below). Thanks, shipmate!

And You Thought You Understood Submarine Naming

Bubblehead, over at The Stupid Will Be Punished broached the subject of Naming conventions for U.S. submarines. Think you already know the scoop? Most of us read a source or two and think its fairly simple. Wrong. Why are multiple sources wrong? They copy from each other and propagate error.

Take the excerpt Bubblehead cited, for instance:
“Many boats (126) never in their commissioned lifetime carried a name only a letter number designation. This practice was carried forth from 1903 to 1920 and included the A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, L, M, N, O, R and S classes." What is wrong with that statement? (I checked, 126 is correct.) The dates are misleading, however. Try 1911 and 1931.

In 1911, all existing and planned submarines were renamed to alpha-numeric names such as A-1, C-1, H-3, through K-4 [ex-Walrus], by order of the Secretary of the Navy, George von Lengerke Meyer. This 'efficient' convention, by the former U.S. Postmaster and efficiency expert, continued until the SS-163 (commissioned V-1, in 1924) was renamed USS Baracuda in 1931. The submarine designated Sea Wolf at its keel laying in early 1911 was H-1 by the time of its commissioning in 1913.

Commissioned October 12, 1900, the first sub was named Holland to honor its designer and builder, as we all know. Later submarines were given some fishy names (Grampus, Salmon, and Porpoise) and were also named for venomous and stinging creatures (Adder, Tarantula, and Viper). Submarines were renamed in 1911, however, and carried alpha- numeric names such as A-1, C-1, H-3, L-7, and the like until 1931, when "fish and denizens of the deep" once more became their name source. In 1931, most of the existing subs were renamed.

Nuclear-powered fleet ballistic missile submarines, commissioned in the early 1960s, bore the names of "famous Americans (men) and others who contributed to the growth of democracy." Although some of these submarines were later reclassified as attack submarines under Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT) agreements, they kept such names as Patrick Henry and Ethan Allen. The newest Trident missile submarines of the Ohio class bear state names. One of these however, Henry M. Jackson, honors a legislator who had a strong share in shaping American defense programs.

Well, we know what happened next with the new Seawolf Class (Seawolf, Connecticut, Carter). Senator Russ Feingold had supported a bill naming one of the modern Seawolf-class nuclear submarines the Manitowoc (Jimmy Carter?).

You can win bets with these two:

Was there ever a sub named AL-1? Yes, the SS-40 (L-1) was theater named AL-1 due to the 'alphabet soup' confusion in WWI with its contemporary, the British submarine L-1. See photo #NH 51156.

Now, what was the name of the submarine whose hull number was SS-105? Its name was S-1.
One reason the Meyer convention was ended was due to this confusion with 'S'
boats. Remember the H-1 (Sea Wolf)? - It was SS-28.

Wednesday, November 02, 2005

What not to say...

Sometimes, I get carried away. You may have noticed a post I made here shortly after I arrived on OLYMPIA got deleted. I did that...it's the first blog post I've ever deleted.

Here's why...there were some, um, things mentioned that were not so good to mention. Nothing classified (I'm a bit more careful than that), but some things that are better left unsaid.

That being said, it actually made for some humor. We were in shiftwork for some testing back aft, and the Engineer came to me (while I'm on phones watching a gauge) saying that he needed to speak to me about something important. I think the look on my face (the "oh my God, did someone die" look) freaked him out, since the next thing he and the Chief said was "no, no, it's nothing bad!"

I was asked about something to do with the content of said post, which at the time I frankly didn't remember (I do a lot of posting, and didn't know which place or what post they were referring to). I got home later that night and did a little searching, and found (and deleted) the post in question.

Of course, I still had to speak to the COB and XO the next day. It had all come up when someone left a printed copy of said post in the XO's mailbox at his house. Odd... It was not really a big deal, in fact he pointed out that it was a good lead in to reminding guys to be careful what they say online. The COB told me much the same thing before I went up to the XO (this after being aboard for about 2 weeks...way to make a splash, eh?). Guess the whole "low to the radar" thing just ain't in my cards.

In the end, it wasn't a bad scene. The COB was actually chuckling a bit about it when I came out of the XO's stateroom (he's since visited here, and apparently even found an old shipmate via Ultraquiet).

But the lesson (a valuable one)...watch what you say. Not all things unclass are fair game.

That being said, part of the post that I should have kept was the part about my impressions of the boat. Oly is a good boat...great crew, pretty good morale, good working environment, and Engineering really seems to have it's act together (I've been in some bad situations, it's nice to walk into a good situation for a change). The boat is old...but in pretty good shape. We're low on "gas", but aside from that could go out and mix it up with the best of 'em.

Interestingly, the Master Chief I worked for on Limited Duty is coming in a few weeks to be my EDMC (Engineering Department Master Chief, formerly called the EDEA, and commonly called the "Bull Nuke" or "Bull"). I have a "reception" planned for him, too...without getting political, let's just say that he and I are on opposite ends of the left-right spectrum, and I plan to leave him some good campaign material in his new rack (we used to go head-to-head arguing over the '04 election...his guy won the election, I still maintain I won the debates, but you know how it goes between an E6 and an E9, right...).

At any rate, let it be a lesson...it doesn't have to be classified to be something that should stay quiet.

Typically Breathless Report Of Sub Non-Event

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

While I defer to drunknsubmrnr as the "blog of record" for all things Canadian submarine-related, I couldn't help but comment on the typical media response to the recent transformer fire on HMCS Windsor.

This story from The Toronto Star (will probably require registration soon; this version might last longer) tries its hardest to find parallels between this non-event and the tragedy on HMCS Chicoutimi last year, without much success. Some excerpts:

"The electrical blaze was isolated to a part of the air-conditioning system and snuffed out quickly. There were no injuries, and the ship has not been called back to port.
"Aspects of the fire and the navy's response to it were eerily similar to the tragedy that killed Lieut. Chris Saunders, 32, in October 2004, aboard the maiden voyage of HMCS Chicoutimi.
"Both blazes were caused by electrical problems. In the case of HMCS Chicoutimi, water flooded in from an open hatch and sloshed over power cables. That created an explosion that blew holes in the deck of the captain's cabin, sending smoke throughout the ship. The cause of Sunday's electrical fire that melted a transformer in the cooling system of HMCS Windsor is under investigation.
"The navy was sharply criticized for its management of the Chicoutimi crisis, particularly because it told the public everything was fine when in fact Chicoutimi was drifting without power in the Irish Sea with a critically injured sailor on board. This week, the navy waited more than 24 hours to notify the public of the blaze aboard HMCS Windsor, and could not be reached to comment on questions such as where Windsor was when the crisis occurred, or how it has affected ship operations."


I'm sorry, but a transformer fire that's quickly extinguished is one of the biggest non-events there is. As to how it affected ship operations, the Canadian Navy stated this explicitly in their news release (released the day before the story above):

"Yesterday morning while operating at sea, the crew of HMCS Windsor was brought to ‘emergency stations’ to react to the melting of a transformer which caused the presence of white smoke and the smell of electrical burning in the forward part of the engine room of the submarine. No injuries were sustained in the incident and the boat remains at sea and fully operational.
"As a result of the smoke, and as part of the standard response to a potential fire, the ship’s two attack teams were rapidly assembled and the submarine returned to safe depth. Once power was isolated to the area by the electrical repair parties, the source of the smoke was found to be a melted transformer within the controller box for the number one chilled water plant. The transformer was removed from the controller box and there was no further damage to any of the surrounding equipment.
"HMCS Windsor remains at sea conducting vital operational training and evaluations that continue to increase the number of current submariner and technical certifications.
"As part of the built-in redundancy for cooling capacity, the submarine has three chilled water plants. The investigation into the cause of the transformer failure is underway however there is no immediate impact on operations as a result of this incident."

I'm sure the reason the Navy waited "over 24 hours to notify the public" was because they were probably debating with themselves: 'Look, if we announce this, the press will blow it completely out of proportion -- what's the point?' Of course, they did the right thing by announcing it -- otherwise, when the boat pulled back in, and some wife heard and called the press, you would have heard about the Navy "covering up" some horrendous fire.

Please don't think I'm minimizing the danger of fire aboard a submarine -- along with flooding, it's about the worst casualty you can have. That's why submariners are trained to put out fires as quickly as possible before they can cause real problems, and it looks like the crew of the Windsor did just that.

On the other hand, I did find this kewl graphic explaining how water came down the hatch on the Chicoutimi, so my visit to The Toronto Star website didn't completely rot my brain.

Staying at PD...

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

"Mission Complete" Update

Comparing this thriller to Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October in an earlier post was accurate, but here are some important distinctions:

+ Audience: While Clancy's novel was written to appeal mainly to 'piss and vinegar' adolescent males, ripe for navy recruiting, Capt. Wigley's Mission Compete appears written for a more refined audience, like the frequenters of this blog. Several topics that have been discussed here at Ultraquiet No More are topical in his plot. Was Wigley reading our blog? If he has, he disagrees with some of the pithier comments presented.

+ Navigation: Three, consecutive pages are devoted to responsibility for selection of and proper usage of the correct chart, including regular comparisons of ocean depths throughout the book. Will this book be required reading at PCO training, which is also mentioned?

+ Weapon: USS Jackfish's CO maintains a .38-cal S&W in his safe.

+ Quotations: A few of our visitors have been inclined, like the 29-year, active service, submarine veteran, to insert quotations into his descriptions for emphasis. Capt. Wigley ('55)uses Churchill and Thucydides.

+ Diesel subs: Unmatched silence at low speeds.

+ Fiction mixed with fact:
The 'Jackfish' (SSN-945) class appears to be a composite of the 688I, the Triton, Sturgeon and maybe, the Akula.

CO lost overboard near Golden Gate bridge.

The ship's lead steward is repeatedly called a "stewart." Clancy had superb editors.

MK 56X nuclear torpedo, Axehandle nuclear MIRV Tomahawks. Well, that's enough. Cannot discuss the plot, but bet you will not be able to put down Mission Complete before you have finished reading it.

What happened to Mutually Assured Destruction?