Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Supreme Court Rules in favor of USN

UPDATE (11/12/08;10:28pm): For some background on this issue, see Hugh Hewitt's interview of Admiral Locklear from last year.

[Crossposted from Unconsidered Trifles] Finally, the Supreme Court reverses all of the environmentalist misdirections and half-truths regarding US Navy sonar:

Nov. 12 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. Supreme Court, ruling that national security trumps environmental rules, lifted restrictions on the Navy's use of sonar during training exercises off the coast of Southern California.

A divided high court rejected arguments by environmentalists that the judge-ordered restrictions were warranted to protect whales and other marine mammals.

The environmental interests ``are plainly outweighed by the Navy's need to conduct realistic training exercises to ensure that it is able to neutralize the threat posed by enemy submarines,'' Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans Day

If you value your freedom...take time to thank a veteran. Today is Veterans Day, a time to remember all who served this great nation.

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Saturday, November 08, 2008

More Information On Russian Submarine Fatalities

Following up on WillyShake's report below:

Russian media sources are reporting that 20 sailors and shipyard workers were killed during "testing" after a "fire extinguishing system unexpectedly went off". From a BBC report on the incident:
Russian Pacific Fleet spokesman Igor Dygalo said both sailors and shipyard workers died in the incident, which occurred during sea trials.
He said the submarine itself had not been damaged and there had been no radiation leaks...
...The submarine, whose name and class have not been revealed, has been ordered to suspend sea trials and return to port in the far eastern Primorye territory, Capt Dygalo said...
...There were 208 people on board at the time, 81 of whom were servicemen.
Twenty-one injured people have been evacuated from the submarine, sources at the fleet said.
Reports say the incident occurred in the nose of the vessel. The nuclear reactor, which is in the stern, was not affected.
The first linked article says that the sub is "now moving to a temporary base. It is being escorted by an anti-submarine ship and a rescue vessel."

The number of civilians on board indicates that the BBC report is correct that this seems to have happened during sea trials. I mentioned late last month that the Akula-II submarine RFS Nerpa, rumored to be heading to India on lease after shakedown, was out on sea trials. As I doubt that the Russians would have enough shipyard resources to have two boats out on sea trials in the Pacific simultaneously, I'd guess that this is the affected boat. This AFP article on the new incident reaches a similar conclusion.

Russian submarines operate with much smaller crews than American boats, so I would imagine that they rely more on automatic fire suppression systems than our boats do. (The Russians have lost at least one submarine to fire relatively recently, so I imagine they have a special interest in designing robust fire extinguishing systems.) Most naval fire suppression systems would probably use either CO2 or a Halon-like chemical, both of which would displace oxygen in the environment. While you have to take everything the Russians say with a grain of salt, I could imagine the fire suppression system emptying its contents into the torpedo room, and the inexperienced crew following their fire procedures and isolating all compartments; this could have resulted in the O2 concentration in the Torpedo Compartment dropping below that required to support life. If so, this is quite a tragic accident. Our thoughts are with the families and shipmates of the fallen mariners.

Update 1006 09 Nov: I'm updating this story over at The Stupid Shall Be Punished.

Russian Sub Incident in the Pacific

[Crossposted from Unconsidered Trifles] The details are still sketchy, but it appears the Russians have yet another fatal sub incident on their hands.

MOSCOW (Reuters) - At least 20 people have died and 21 been injured in an accident on board a Russian nuclear-powered submarine in the Pacific Ocean, a Russian naval spokesman said on Sunday.

Radiation levels on board were normal, he said.

Russia's navy has suffered a string of fatal accidents, including the loss of the Kursk nuclear submarine in the Barents Sea in August 2000. All 118 sailors aboard died.

"More than 20 people were killed on a nuclear submarine in the Pacific Ocean during routine testing as a result of the unsanctioned functioning of the fire extinguishing systems," the navy spokesman, Igor Dygalo, said by telephone.

Dygalo did not give the name of the submarine or specify where it was located. There were 208 people on board at the time of Saturday's accident, some of them from a shipbuilding company, he added.

"The reactor section (of the submarine) is working properly," the spokesman said. "The radiation levels on the ship are normal."

A Russian destroyer, the Admiral Tributs, was providing assistance and taking some of the injured crew from the submarine to port, Dygalo said.

He did not say where the ships were but the Tributs is normally based at Vladivostok, Russia's main Far Eastern naval port, according to Russian media.

President Dmitry Medvedev has been informed about the accident, Russian news agencies reported.

The state-owned RIA news agency quoted a highly placed official in the Pacific Fleet as saying the accident happened in the bow of the submarine.

Be sure to stay tuned here as well as to Bubblehead's blog and The Sub Report for updates and further insights.