Monday, August 28, 2006

USS Dolphin To Be Decommissioned

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

As the sub-blogosphere reported back in June, USS Dolphin (AGSS 555) will be decommissioned next month. From a really good article in the San Diego Union-Tribune, here's a picture of the old girl:

Check out the whole article in the U-T; here's an excerpt:
Less than a year after completing a $50 million project to repair and upgrade the San Diego-based research vessel, the Navy will decommission it Sept. 22. It is the country's last diesel-electric sub.
Axing the Dolphin will save the cash-strapped Navy about $18 million annually, said Capt. John Schwering, director of the Navy Range Office in Washington. The Navy's budget this year is $125 billion...
...The Dolphin had other notable firsts: sending the first successful submarine-to-aircraft laser communication and the first sub-to-surface e-mail and making the deepest launch for a torpedo. It has served as the testing platform for numerous sonar systems. As the Navy gradually retired the rest of its diesel-electric fleet, the Dolphin often played the enemy in anti-submarine warfare exercises – an important role because most of the world's navies still field diesel-electric subs.
Pentagon officials say the Dolphin's age and uniqueness caught up with it, making it expensive to operate and maintain. They say it carries obsolete sonar, is too slow and can't be maneuvered well enough to convincingly simulate a modern diesel-electric sub.
The article also has a decent analysis on why the Navy is having to try to cut costs.

As always, the best source for old stories from the Dolphin is from G-man over at the USS Dolphin blog.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Israel buys nuclear subs

[Crossposted from Unconsidered Trifles] That was the headline in The Scotsman that caught my eye. My first thought: "Wait a minute. What? How can they buy nuclear-powered subs without training their people to operate them?"

I should have known better--i.e. that the media would be inaccurate and misleading. What you learn if you read past the sensational headline (or if you check other news sources) is ... well, further deception--they want to emphasize that these two new subs could/might/possibly/perhaps/theoretically carry nuclear missiles.

What they miss, however, are the significant strategic implications outside of the fact that these boats can shoot nukes. I'm talking about discussions such as this perceptive insight over at Bubblehead's blog.

Don't misunderstand: I'm sure that Israel is quite happy to send the above headline to Iran as a warning to them. But I think the purchase of these two subs was made on other grounds as well.

In a word: flexibility.

Small though it is, this purchase not only updates but nearly doubles Israel's submarine capability--a great asset against an enemy (Iran) that has used its petrodollars to become an increasing threat from the sea. By "threat from the sea" I don't mean an amphibious or naval power per se, but rather another arena where terrorists can make a media splash by hitting or sinking an Israeli ship (a strategy which they themselves know is the best they can hope for).

Looking forward to hearing from (& being corrected by) my fellow sub bloggers.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

The "Bubbleblogger Brotherhood" Keeps Growing

Cross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

bothenook found another submarine blogger yesterday, and today I found another one in my comments. Please welcome New Yorker "ex-nuke bubblehead" at Is The Life After Your Boat Gets Scrapped? to the fold. He already has quite a few good stories about his old boat, USS Boston, up in his archives.

Along with Old Gary, who bothenook found last week, welcome to all the newly-found submariners on the 'net! If any of you want to join our team at the group submarine blog Ultraquiet No More, just drop me a note.

Thursday, August 17, 2006

Nuke DNA and The Mother of All Cat Photos

Some UQNM members apparently aprreciate cats. Since almost all cat-lovers were nukes, or the officer equivalent, attachment to felix domesticus could be the effect of low-level, ionizing radiation in confined spaces during porolonged sensory deprivation. Before and after chromosome comparisons indicate negligible mutations, however.

The Mother of All Cat photos hints at what else may actually have occurred. It can be seen at Old Gary's site, here.

Obviously, cats are not the only aliens that visited these nukes. Have alien abductions ever been documented on nuclear submarines? Never (okay, there was that one British sub, but that was only rumored). Do you know why? Most, but not all of the crew had to pass hours and hours of rigorous medical and psychological screening. Wonder who the exceptions could have been.

There were obviously other affinities to other strange creatures besides cats. One of the docs on the 575 boat was a Chief who kept a monkey (off base). We were very glad he wasn't the cook and he was one good submariner.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

And your new Navy Times columnist is...

...yours truly.  I've been offered a "freelance" position for the "Back Talk" opinion column in Navy Times after submitting a letter to the editor recently (linked here).

Now to come up with an idea for my next project :)

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Monday, August 14, 2006

go, read, commnet

over at lazlong's blog about a pass down log, and the "sh**-storm" that was entered there.
good read.
you guys need to encourage this pup. he's got some great posts so far, but far too few.

Is This Dude Crazy Or What?

... over at Zero Bubble, i've already posted about my intention to re-enlist with the Navy. i'm a prior-service ARNG puke with a laundry list of things that would need to happen just so that i can make my mark on a contract, so it should be a bit of an adventure to say the least.

i hope to post my progress (or set backs) over there with links here on UQNM.

Let the madness begin.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

When Submariners Spy

Bubblehead has been doing an excellent job of keeping tabs on the recent story of an FT caught spying, and as I wrote about HERE, it reminded me of a very similar situation that developed with one of my own guys!

No doubt every warfare community would say something like the following, but I have to say it anyway: it just feels uniquely depressing, exasperating, and infuriating when a submariner betrays his shipmates and his country like this.

I know, I know, why should we be any different than others...still, I want to say that there's something particularly traitorous about a submariner who sells data that his boat may well have risked life and limb to obtain.

I'm thinking more of the sailor from my own boat than the one currently in the news, but the point is still relative, I think.

I'm reminded of the scene (done to perfection, btw, in Branagh's 1989 film!) from Shakespeare's Henry V, when King Henry arrests three noblemen caught in the act of selling secrets to the French--men who were very near and dear to him. He tells them:
... But, O,
What shall I say to thee, Lord Scroop? thou cruel,
Ingrateful, savage and inhuman creature!
Thou that didst bear the key of all my counsels,
That knew'st the very bottom of my soul,
That almost mightst have coin'd me into gold,
Wouldst thou have practised on me for thy use,
May it be possible, that foreign hire
Could out of thee extract one spark of evil
That might annoy my finger? 'tis so strange,
That, though the truth of it stands off as gross
As black and white, my eye will scarcely see it.
... I will weep for thee;
For this revolt of thine, methinks, is like
Another fall of man. (H5: 2.2.729ff)

Thursday, August 10, 2006

recycling old sea stories

i responded to a post on another blog today that got me thinking about some of the old hijinks we used to pull. most of the stories were immortalized on a submarine humor site. so i went, re-read some of my old posts there, and pulled them up for the blog.
so, there are 7 posts
the beaker
communications hijinks
first day
sgt. mike
Caliber D cannon
two lessons in leadership
midrats

Friday, August 04, 2006

How Did They Get the Hull Number Right?


As Bubblehead's recent Nautilus post reminds us, the advent of nuclear submarines was the military's PR equivalent of the Beatles' Yellow Submarine. Nautilus (SSN-571) and Seawolf (SSN-575) appeared on commemorative lunchboxes, the backs of kid's cereal cartons, all manner of magazine stories and other presentations too numerous to mention.

Plastic modelling kit companies competed for exciting models of early nuke boats. Look at the top photo of one found on Ebay.

All subs during the Cold War were constructed with significant design differences according to Admiral Rickover's wisdom. The Seawolf (SSN-575) was so unique that she is still sometimes termed a research or test platform. Sometimes, that was very correct as has been pointed out, for example, by WILLYSHAKE here, and at UQNM, here. Throughout her long service, however, the 575 boat also participated in operations of value to her country: in 1961, and here, for example. Silent service tradition limits the telling of the many more.

Bothenook provided the lower photo in an interesting funny looking submarines posting. Read the whole thing (very short). Here's an excerpt:
...we called her the seaskunk, because of the white painted topside and stripe on the sail.we were painted like that to support DSRV training and qualification trials. we were supposed to be one of the "mother subs" for the dsrv program in the early/mid 70's.

Now, compare the two photos, and ask yourself this...
QUESTION: Ignoring all the glaring errors, (Nautilus-style hull, single shaft, aft torpedo loading, non-step sail and masts) how did the kit company get the hull number and DSRV right?

HINT #1: Seawolf did not look like either photo when commissioned or decommissioned.
HINT #2: DRSVs were certainly developed by the time of the Thresher tragedy (1963).

ANSWER (Highlight with cursor): They got it wrong; Seawolf was not a Regulus boat like Halibut. That's a Regulus pod, not a DSRV.

Since submarines are always silent and strange, that might raise another...
QUESTION: Was this another manufacturer's error, complicit agreement with the DOD, or intentional deception?
ANSWER: As Chap might correctly add, "Some of you guys read too much conspiracy theory stuff."

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

48 Years Ago Today

Nautilus -- 90 North. The day the nuclear submarine truly proved what it could do. (And still one of only two events for which the crew got to wear a distinguishing device on their Presidential Unit Citation ribbon.)

Molten Eagle had more about this historic achievement last year. Since Molten Eagle asked trivia questions, I guess I can too: What is the other "device" (other than oak leaf clusters and bronze stars for repeat awards) that has been authorized for wear on PUC ribbons? Answers in the comments, please.