Sunday, July 31, 2005

War Shot Loaded - The Next Torpedo Shoot?

Cross-posted excerpt from 2 posts at Molten Eagle:

Al-Qaeda has been strengthening in the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia and Eritrea) since January and one of the London bombers is from Somalia. According to Eagle1’s daily updates over at EagleSpeak, piracy is growing around the world, much of it off Somalia’s shores.

Eagle1 also reports that shipping companies have begun to use private security to combat pirates in the Malacca Strait (located between Malaysia and Indonesia). It seems the Strait is so dangerous, Lloyd’s classifies it as a war zone. Five companies including three British and an American security firm serve the area. The price of each cargo protection run starts at $50,000. Alex Duperouzel, managing director of Background Asia Risk Solutions, the first naval security firm in Singapore, told the Sunday Herald: If you are attacked by pirates on the ocean, it can be hours before help arrives, and an attack might be over in 20 minutes. We can protect a ship, or do whatever it takes to recover a ship or crew. Duperouzel has been operating for about a year, and says pirates are already well armed, often better than the security firms, who are prohibited from using heavy machine guns.

Molten Eagle suspects that use of private security escorts offers legal avenues for naval special ops units of unnamed countries to attack pirates of larger vessels under the guise of rendering assistance or training to the private security outfits. A few Mk-37 torpedoes (newer types would be much too costly) could sink all of the larger pirates ships. Several countries still stock Mk-37s.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

Submarine Souvenirs, 'Liberated' Artifacts and Sea Stories

How long has it been since you took a look at some of those old items you mave have saved since you or your even grandpa was a kid? Most likely many are gone now, right? Have you seen the vintage kid's lunchbox from the 60's, or perhaps a 70's vintage desk model SUB RESCUE VEHICLE (sold for $307)?

For model collectors you could buy a submarine to assemble yourself, or this one that features a realistic, table-top display. (Note: Always be VERY careful before buying anything on line, look at seller's feedback score, and read thoroughly. I have no auctions at eBay and know none of the sellers in these examples, which I believe have/will expire soon, anyway.).

An old chief, who had his stuff together, liked to talk about stuff getting "liberated". He had many sea stories to back that up, and some of the more shocking ones involved brig time!

Who forgot to pay the bill, comrade?

Lubber, perhaps the Russians are going to need those nuke plants--floating or otherwise--after all:
Belomorsk navy base on the White Sea near Severodvinsk is to pay $629,000 electricity bill. Severodvinsk is the centre of Russian nuclear submarine shipbuilding. Similar situation is at the other Northern Fleet bases. The navy officials hope the electricity providers will not switch off the electricity at the navy sites.
Somebody call the Kremlin and give Puty-Poot Putin the number to LowerMyBillsDotCom.

Friday, July 29, 2005

Russian Nuclear Barges???

Crossposted by Lubber's Line at "Hunderds of Fathoms".

The TimesOnline in the UK is reporting in this piece “Safety fear overruled for Putin's floating reactors” that the Russians are planning to build floating nuclear power plants. The intent is to provide electricity to remote northern ports that are inaccessible by road. An excerpt:

Each floating plant will house a 70 megawatt reactor similar to that on a nuclear submarine, or icebreaker, and big enough to power a city of 200,000 people. They will probably be assembled in St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, before being towed to their destinations around the coast.

The far eastern regions of Kamchatka and Chukotka — governed by the oil tycoon Roman Abramovich — have already signed up for one each and other regions are expected to follow. Each plant is designed to last 40 years and will cost about $200 million (£115 million).

China signed a $86.5 million deal this week to build the boat for the first one, while Russia will construct the reactor block. Russia also plans to export plants to China, Thailand, Indonesia, the Middle East and even Canada.

The TimesOnline article brings up some valid concerns especially when it comes to the Russians. The first concern being the poor environmental record the Russians have with nuclear power. (Although using the Kursk for an example of this doesn't quite fit the theme of the piece) I posted similar environmental concerns on a different nutty Russian proposal regarding Nuclear Submarine disposal back in April.

The second problem is related to the first in that they claim the reactor will be 9/11 style terrorist attack hardened and therefore safe from an environmental disaster. A hardened reactor for just $200 Million a pop, that doesn’t sound right. But then they intend to put floating reactors up for sale to the MIDDLE EAST!!! So I guess the real strategy is, don’t fly planes into our reactors and we’ll just sell you one of your own. How do you say "proliferation risk" in russian?

Portable nuclear power plants moved by ship/barge is an interesting concept if it didn't come from government that is broke, corrupt and sliding back to authorianism. Any thoughts from the maneuvering watchstanders?

Thursday, July 28, 2005

ok, i'm really sorry that this isn't specifically submarine

related. but this had to have been designed by a submariner. had to be...

please forgive me my transgressions, but i just couldn't pass this up without sharing with like minded warped humans (that would be most submariners i've met or known!)

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

General Turner Tours Subase New London

BRAC commissioner Brigadier General Sue Ellen Turner, USAF (Ret.) toured the subase yesterday. No piece on the visit has been posted at The Day yet as I write this, but you can bet they'll have excellent coverage as usual.

In the meantime, check out the video package on the visit that aired last night on WTNH, a local UPN affiliate. No direct link to the video is available, but you should find it on the list of video segments listed on the homepage.

Interesting little piece. Markowicz was at a roadside support rally organized around the visit and had some good comments. He is encouraged by the fact that five of the nine commissioners have now visited the base.

The reporter also noted that Turner's visit ran longer than originally scheduled. This too, could possibly be seen as a positive sign.

I'm sure that The Day will have much, much more on the visit later this morning.

Update: Here's the New London Day's coverage.

sub sailor in deep kimchee

i am crossposting this from geezer's corner. some guys just don't have enough brains to be dangerous, and then there are guys like this, who are so dangerous because they have brains. anyway, on to the post:

you may have heard of the sailor in guam who was shot in the shoulder a while back. the navy is now pressing charges against him. seems he shot himself with a 25 caliber pistol, then tossed it into the drink at the end of the pier. you can read about the charges at The Stars and Stripes.

now i just have a couple of questions.
  • WTF was he doing with a pistol on the boat? have they changed the rules that much? i don't think so. imagine being out to sea with someone as unstable as this dude. unstable enough to shoot himself. and he HAD A PISTOL with him while underway. holy shit batman.
  • he tossed the pistol into the water, 30 feet deep according to the above article. i can remember when the topside watch dropped a full magazine of ammo for the topside .45, and the divers were down there and up in no time, magazine in hand. perhaps this young sailor dude hasn't spent much time alongside the pier. if he had, he'd know they can find ANYTHING tossed over the side. especially in guam, where the water isn't as grungy, and the bottom is sand, not bay mud.
  • it brings to mind the countless things that "accidently" found their way over the side, into the mare island channel. some of the things i specifically remember:
    • welding rods. these were cool, because if you threw them hard enough, they'd slice through the water like a laser, leaving a fine trail of bubbles behind. get the right angle on the toss, and they would zip 20 or 30 feet, just below the surface. maybe you had to be there
    • about a hundred million white navy coffee cups with the blue stripes. hell, i can remember the topside watches would just blast the cup against the off hull collection tank barge, just so they didn't have to carry the empties back down to crews mess at the end of the watch
    • a CO2 fire extinguisher, with the handle taped down, on the 4th of July one year. having duty on a holiday sucks. but it really sucks when directly across the river from the pier is 10000 people gathered to bbq, drink beer, have fun, and watch the fireworks. having the fireworks pop directly overhead was cool, but no beer made it no fun. so what's a bunch of bored sailors to do? make their own fireworks. you should see the way the water bubbles as the CO2 charge blasts out
  • and finally, did this dude think the navy wouldn't go apeshit that one of their sailors was SHOT, on the PIER, on the BASE? did he think they'd take his word for it, and just let the matter drop after sending him home? i am not sure what universe this kid is living in, but it has very few intersections with the real world.

Predictions: China War and World's 97-lb. Weakling

Excerpts from full post at Molten Eagle

America's submarines were so effective in WWII, that after the war when their full effects became known many experts believed Japan may have eventually surrendered due to severed supply lines alone.

Later on, the Cold War depended heavily upon America's submarines. The stealth, chess game was deliberately costly and helped undo the soviet union. The Cold War was won economically.

In an era of China's economic ascendancy, LA Times guest columnist, Max "Untersee" Boot, suggests in China's stealth war on the U.S. that we are already at war with China (although, I think economic competition better describes what is being waged). Says Boot, China's spending has been increasing rapidly, and it is investing in the kind of systems — especially missiles and submarines — needed to challenge U.S. naval power in the Pacific. Boot, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations is concerned with how we respond to what may or may not be indirect aggression by a major trading partner (Beijiing). Worth the very short read, but to understand the full competitive game America faces, I highly recommend CAN AMERICANS COMPETE? Is America the World's 97-lb. Weakling? by FORTUNE's Geoffrey Colvin.

Colvin's article is captivating. Huge upsets are probably in store for individual workers, and likewise new opportunities. You will need to read it for yourself. To my knowledge, no one has made the following associations or predictions previously.

Prediction 1- Economists differ over the impact of Thursday's yuan revaluation on the United States and China. When China's currency is allowed to float fully against the US dollar, China will encounter the tough decision between military and domestic spending (guns or rice). Domestic spending will be the big winner, in my opinion. Score one for the U.S.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Did you ever talk s*it to the COB?

When I was a (not so young) NUB on my first boat, (which at the time was a construction area in Newport News), I had a COB like no other. An electrican's mate, but not a nuke, EMCM(SS) had come up on diesal boats, having set foot on his first nuke as an EMCS and new COB. We were his fifth boat (FIFTH!!), and "Papa" was my first experience for a COB.

I can honestly say that after 14 years, none has yet lived up to him.

He didn't fit the stereotype of the grungy EM of diesal boat lore; he looked like a disgtinguished Ivy League graduate turned CEO of a Fortune 500 company. He was pretty old when he took the COB job on USTAFISH, having come from some big staff/fleet CMC post...he said he wanted one more boat before he hung it up (rumor was he may have turned down MCPON for us). He also broke the standard stereotype (at least the one I had, growing up with a Navy dad, grandfather, and in a Navy town) of a Chief...EMCM never yelled or even raised his voice (save for quarters on the peir, to be heard over the racket of shipyard noise), didn't get red-faced with veins popping, hardly ever got angry or even annoyed. See, he didn't need to.

He had a talent, a gift, for simply keeping the guys in line by making it known to you when you screwed up that you had disappointed him. Trust feld about as high as a grease mark on the deck when you disappointed him. We all knew what he expected, and it simply happened. The skipper, ENG, XO, or our chiefs may put out something that generated bitching to the moon and back, but when COB spoke, things happened. Rarely if ever did you hear grumbling, bitching and moaning, or "screw the COB".

And, unlike many "leaders", he always met the standards he set. If he expected the crew to be on time for muster at 0730, you can set your watch on him being there at 0700. If he expected even the young guys to pass the PRT, you can be assured he not only passed, he exceeded the standards for the youngster's age group (that damn old man could RUN!). Uniform always top shape, always a sharp haircut and fresh shave (even underway), his office in the building and later his rack on the boat were impeccable. And it wasn't a "see what I do" was just who he was.

He went above and beyond in looking out for the crew, too. He once took in a young A-ganger for an entire weekend when he and his wife had a major dispute. He left the hospital where his own daughter was giving birth to his grandchild to visit a sailor in the emergency room who'd been in an accident that same night. When I had surgery and needed a ride back to the barracks (from a nearby Air Force hospital), and was single with no one to drive my truck back (and my fellow nukes in shiftwork), he grabbed the YNC and picked me up...and drove my truck back for me (I was still woozy from the anestetic).

When a sailor was locked out of his room in the barracks one night, and the barracks staff refused to let him in (he ended up sleeping in the laundry), COB called the barracks LCPO the next morning and "explained" how he expected the sailors on his boat to be treated in the future. His words to the sailor..."you should have called me, I don't care that it was 0200". He then published his home phone number and pager number in the POD for the rest of his tour with us, so we would know to call if we needed help.

But to my shit-talking story. Did I mention COB was a DBF sailor? Well, I joined the Navy in 1991, and got to the boat after nuke training in 1993. At 22 in boot camp, and nearly 25 when I reported in, I wasn't a really young NUB by comparison (most NUB nukes were 19-21, NUB coners were 18-20). I knew COB was, well, getting up there, and younger guys always do some good-natured harassing of the "old guys" (at 36, I'm getting it now!).

Well, I was getting a checkout in a group with the COB, one of those sigs that is a COB only item, and since the mood was fairly light I decided to poke a bit of fun at the COB. Something about relative ages when fish were earned and whatnot, I don't quite remember how it went, but I jokingly said something about someone his age getting dolphins before all of us were born. His response was something along the lines of "well, I bet I did, you bunch of kids!"...and since I was nearing 26 I advised him to watch it, as I wasn't as young as he might think.

Well, he reached in a drawer in his desk and pulled out some papers...handing them over, I could see it resembled a qual card, but was in a plastic bag and yellowed with age. Turns out it was his own submarine qual card, with his name and rank (EMFN). And the date that proved it all...a date in November of 1968 when he earned the right to put "SS" behind that EMFN. After all of us got a good look, he said to me "OK, 'old timer', when were you born?".

The answer...December 28, 1968.

Once again, the COB was right...he had earned his fish before any of us in the room had been born...even the "old NUB"! By then he'd been qualified for over 25 years, nearly 26.

Moral of the story...there are just some COBs you will never get the better of, and be careful how you make your wagers :)

Monday, July 25, 2005

Sub School Honors San Francisco Sailor

Cross-posted by Bubblehead in Idaho from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

Submarine School in Groton has unveiled a memorial to MM2(SS) Joseph Ashley, who gave his life during the San Francisco grounding in January. From this excellent article in The New London Day (registration required) we see again the bonds that connect submariners and their families:

"(MMCS(SS) Hedman, Sub School Auxiliaryman Instructor) contacted the Ashleys through the Web site to ask if they could provide some items for a shadow box at Sub School.
“It was difficult to part with Joey's personal stuff, but when he told me what they wanted it for, I decided to go ahead and send it,” said Daniel Ashley. “People have been so gracious since this happened. So many people have felt that they had to do something in his memory. That's where we get the strength we needed to get through this.”
"The ribbons and submariners' dolphins in the shadow box are copies of what the young sailor wore, because the family kept the originals, but they provided a flag, one of more than 200 that were planted on their front lawn by family friends in the days after the accident, as well as pictures, and the uniform their son wore as a 3rdClass petty officer.
“Everything they sent us, we used,” Hedman said. He brought everything in a cardboard box down to Roland Morgan in the school's carpentry shop, who put in his own time to craft a beautiful wood and glass case that could be displayed in the space that was available.
"What better way to remember him, Hedman asked, than a shadow box in the entryway of the Naval Submarine School building where all auxiliarymen train, to keep him ever in the memory of the community he represented?
"Daniel Ashley said he hopes the shadow box serves another purpose, as well.
“What better place to put something like that to remind them that things can happen, that they have to be on their toes — that everyone has to be very serious about how dangerous submarine duty can be,” he said."

Nothing more needs be said...

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Coryphaenidae Qualified Kleptomania

Crossposted by Lubber's Line at "Hundreds of Fathoms"

Coryphaenidae qualified kleptomania or dolphin fish qualified thievery.

Submarine enlisted crewmembers have been known to from time to time procure a certain luxury item from the Executive Officer without his prior knowledge. Said item affords the XO a level of needed privacy while underway. The selection and gratuitous theft of this item seems to be a bit of a tradition in the Submarine Service.

All you Submariners out there know exactly what I’m writing about it’s……. “Who took the XO’s door!!!!”

Where the F*^*#$% is my door?!!!!!

In the past and present, I've had a number of shipmates and friends relate theirs and others stories of XO stateroom doors that have gone missing. Here’s a few presented purely for their entertainment value (Active duty, please this is not a meant to be a how to guide).

My story:
I was a on my first patrol on the Simon Bolivar SSBN641 and we had been underway for about a month. Off watch and studying my ships Quals I had found the upper level electronic room forward of sonar a quiet place to read ship systems manuals. After about a half hour of study I was suddenly interrupted by a QM2(SS) standing in the passageway with the XO’s door. He proceeded to quickly slide the door behind a large sonar equipment cabinet just inside the electronics room door, put his finger to his lips and went Sssssss and left.

Not 10 to 15 minutes later I’m interrupted a second time, this time it’s the Chief of the Boat COB. He looks at me and says, “The XO’s pissed and wants his door back, I know someone in NAV division took it, do you know who and where it is.” I said “No COB, don’t know a thing, just been sitting here studying my Quals.” If it was a snake it would have bit him, but he didn’t see it and went on with the search.

I little while later I went to the control room and found the watch section discussing the missing door, a busy QM2(SS) was the only one not participating in the conversation. The door was found a few days later just before Halfway Night.

Ric Hedman manager of Juliett 484 had this story for me today:

As Ric tells it on the USS Flasher SSN613 the XO's stateroom door went AWOL during the maneuvering watch while heading out on patrol. The XO stationed a someone outside his stateroom to verify that anyone entering the passageway had to either have the CO or his permission to be there. Ric being a Stewards MateTN(SS) was the only one who had a blanket permission. This went on for the entire patrol and no door. Finally at the end of patrol and, of course during the maneuvering watch, the XO's door was retrieved from the freezer, frozen solid, and returned its proper location. The ice that accumulated in the XO's door promptly melted ruining the fine wool carpets that were donated and installed in the boat during construction. The XO was not pleased.

Stories from others I found searching the internet:

From the USS Memphis guestbook.
"I remember stealing the XO's door and hiding it in ERUL outboard the Port Main Engine. After the Wardroom poker game broke up the XO went up to his state room (sp?) then got on the 1MC and ordred field day until his door was found and returned. That was a great night. Soaking Ens. Grosicki and the Engineer between the MSW Pumps was very satisfying too. Looking back, I can say the time I spent on MEMPHIS was a great time of my life.
Sincerely, "Spit"MM1(SS) Scott Benson"

From the USS Spinax newsletter page. or Submarine humor page
"On board the Robert E. Lee SSBN601B, the crew stole the XO"s door. The next day's POD said there were to be no movies until it was returned. For privacy the XO, E.O. Warren hung a blanket over the opening.
By the 3rd day he had gotten into the habit of walking thru the blanket instead of moving it. On the 5th day we replaced the door. Re-hanging the blanket over it, and then settled back to watch the fun.
Suddenly the XO came running down the passageway enroute to his stateroom and thru the blanket/curtain, coming up very short upon meeting the door. Nose bleeding and demanding an answer, the CO came to his rescue.

After surveying the damage the CO, R.W.Aldinger, marched to control, grasped the 1MC and announced, "This is the Captain. The XO's door has been found. MOVIE CALL!"
W.S. Wantland QMC(SS) USS Hawkbill SSN 666"

Sea stories on
"From LCDR(Ret) John Arnold
On Halibut, after our 2nd back-to-back Ivy Bells mission, my 4 Chiefs were bored and up to mischief on our return to CONUS. They stole the CO's stateroom door. The CO had the XO's door transfered to his stateroom & told the XO he didn't care if they ever found the door. Needless to say the XO was ticked. Each watch section had a search/recovery team looking in vain for the elusive door. To add insult to injury, the spook Chiefs re installed the (missing for 10 days) door on the XO's stateroom. All of this accomplished without discovery or even a clue as to who pulled off this great TF. It wasn't until our mission debrief at NSA that we revealed the Mystery to the skipper-Chuck Larsen. I've heard that other ships have tried this but the door has always been found and many times the culprit is caught in the act of removing the door. These guys were a cleaver team aside from providing NSA with hundreds of the finest broadband tapes that they had ever received! "

SSBN622 homestead Sea Stories webpage
"I was stationed on the Monroe from 1979 to 1983. The XO at the time had a thing about DYNO labels being around the boat. The officers aboard got together and put labels all over his stateroom. He didn't know who did it but he blamed the nukes on board and made them do an extra field day. Then a A-Gang member stole his stateroom door and hid it. One thing to remember is that we were underway and we couldn't compact it. The XO went for three days searching for the door and couldn't find it until he made some A-Ganger act as a door until the door showed up. The XO apologized to the nukes and we allowed him to bring us bug juice for a couple of shifts.
Robert Crowe

A couple of good ones from a forum

"one halfway night the XO's door showed up, with the ENG taped to it. Carried by 2 MM1's. Now that was a halfway night."

and this

"I got an old door from salvage one time and cut it into a jig saw puzzle. Took the XO's door at halfway night and put the pieces on his rack. He really freeked. We hid his real door under the deck plates in the crew's library, you know how many screws there are in those deck plates? (Lafayette Class 616) Takes hours..."

And finally this about not taking the door

"There was one time the door did not disappear. The XO at the time had a thing about flickering fluorescent light bulbs and was constantly combing the boat for 'em. Pissed E Div off to no end.Anyway, the XO comes back from halfway night festivities to find his door still there, he's shocked and amazed. He opens the door to his stateroom and flicks on the lights. Every bulb had been replaced with the flickering lights he made E div change out."

If anyone has their own story of an UNHINGED XO door or otherwise just add to the Comments section. Anonymous comments accepted at this same post on "Hundreds of Fathoms" and I won't tell the COB.

Friday, July 22, 2005

Iran’s Kilo Class Will Launch Cruise Missiles

Via one of my favorite lawyers, EagleSpeak, comes a report from Strategy Page that Russia will upgrade Iran’s three Kilo class subs (bought in 1992-94) to launch SS-NX-27 Club-S cruise missiles. The Club-S has three versions, one for ship attacks, another for land based targets and a homing torpedo version for anti-submarine use. All versions weigh in at about a ton and are the same size as a 21 inch (533mm) torpedo. The anti-ship and land attack versions have a range of 220 and 300 kilometers respectively. The anti-sub version has a range of 50 kilometers. In addition to wiring the Iranian Kilos for the new missiles, there will be other upgrades and additions to equipment.

Russia sells new Kilos for about $200 million each (cheap). Kilos displace only 2,300 tons (surface) and are armed with 18 torpedoes (6 tubes). Crew complement is 57 comrades (although NAVET and QM could be combined). Very quiet, Kilos travel at least 700 kilometers down and very quietly at five kilometers an hour. Missiles (range of 300 kilometers) are launched underwater from torpedo tubes. The combination of quietness and cruise missiles is considered potentially dangerous to American carriers. As you may recall, 53 have been built so far, with most exported to Poland, Romania, Algeria, India, Iran and China.

UPDATE Jul 27, 2005: AP: Iran Achieves Solid Fuel Technology. The production of solid fuel makes missiles more durable, dramatically increasing their accuracy in reaching targets. Missiles using liquid fuel are short-lived.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Commissioners BRAC off from Pearl Harbor

The Pentagon had not included Pearl Harbor, with its multifunctional repair and maintenance facility, on the closure list because of its strategic location in the Pacific and its capability to dock nuclear-powered aircraft carriers.
Pearl Harbor was one of the largest military installations the commission considered for the BRAC list. But the nine-member commissioner voted 5-4 yesterday to save it.

The insider word was all about location and fleet concentration.

Our CO made it clear...there's another BRAC round a few years down the road, and the efficiency numbers need to make a big change if the previously "safe" yard in Pearl wants to continue to feel safe. A compelling argument in favor of BRACing Pearl was that the facility could be much more efficiently run by a civilian entity (i.e., Newport News)...and the local civilian workers here would likely get jobs, but the often cushy and generally ultra-secure government jobs would be gone.

Hopefully the BRAC scare will scare some efficiency and trim some major "fat" here.

India's Nuke Sub Program Gaining Steam

According to this story:
By the end of this decade, India should have a fully-operational nuclear submarine of its own. The Advanced Technology Vessel (ATV) project to build a nuclear-powered, guided-missile attack submarine is now on track after years of technical glitches and design problems.
Pretty soon they'll be dealing with moonbats just like this! Hooray for progress!

... Actually, I have no beef whatsoever with those who pray for peace, but I find their targeted sites a little misguided. So, LOL, I guess I should pray that they receive guidance.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

Admiral DeMars Speaks Out

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

Retired Admiral Bruce Demars, head of Naval Reactors through most of the 90s, has sent a powerful letter to the Base Realignment And Closure commission. ADM DeMars doesn't pull any punches:

"Dear Chairman Principi,
"I am writing in comment on the recommendation to close Submarine Base New London. I believe this is unthoughtful. The submarine force level study used to support the recommendation is not defendable and no consideration was given to the impact on the cost of building submarines at Electric Boat.
"This naval administration has indicated that we have the wrong Navy - they prefer smaller, swifter surface ships rather than aircraft carriers and submarines. While not subjecting the matter to open discussion, they have taken many actions to advance this premise. The recommendation to close the Submarine Base is the most unthoughtful of the lot.
"The attack submarine force level has undergone some 14 studies in the past 12 years. The current Navy study came up with the lowest number. It had essentially no submariner input, no input from the Fleet Commanders and inadequate peer review. This contrasts with the Office of the Secretary of Defense (PA&E) study of one year earlier. This study included submariner input, Fleet Commander input and was properly peer reviewed. It reached a number some 20% higher. I have some experience with such studies. The Navy study does not meet professional standards and is not defendable.
"Another matter in which I have some experience is the cost of submarines. The Navy has been pressing Electric Boat to reduce the cost of new construction submarines. Some progress has been made. In the 90s, I encouraged Electric Boat to take over the maintenance activities at the Submarine Base. It has worked well and reduced overhead at Electric Boat some $50M per year. If the Submarine Base closes, this advantage is lost and the cost of new construction submarines will rise. I have trouble believing the Navy considered this long term impact on the industrial base.
"Other less quantifiable issues revolve around synergies. The Submarine Force is small with only some 30,000 submariners in the Navy. Driven by the exigencies of the platform they have always been a compact organization with relatively low overhead. Support groups reside near the waterfront to better reflect the realities of the boats. This closure would scatter these groups, removing some from direct contact with the watefront.
"The Submarine Force is important to the defense of our national interests. It has the only truly stealthy platforms in our armed services and is the heart of our strategic nuclear deterrent. It has adapted to the changing nature of naval warfare for over 100 years. It is a rare asset and sets our Navy apart. The closure of the Submarine Base will not mean the end of the Submarine Force but it will start many years of unnecessary chum. The recommendation to close the Submarine Base is not well founded and should be overturned."

I love the comments directed to "this naval administration". And who is the most visible representative of this group? Why, none other that ADM Vern Clark, who's retiring on Friday. Some speculate that ADM Clark's upcoming retirement may make the current submarine force leadership more outspoken in their statements in support of Subase New London. From an excellent article in today's New London Day:

"...The surge in support for the submarine base has spurred considerable speculation about what has caused the “Silent Service” to suddenly become so outspoken, Navy sources said.
One of the most common explanations: the Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Vernon Clark, will retire on Friday and turn the reins over to
Adm. Mike Mullen. [hyperlink mine]
"Clark has long been seen as supporting serious cutbacks to the submarine force, possibly to fewer than 40, from 54 today, despite a series of Defense Department and external studies calling for a larger undersea fleet.
"If Groton is closed, the Navy can probably only justify a fleet of 15 to 18 submarines on the East Coast, and a fleet of perhaps 40 service-wide based on the balance it expects to maintain between the Pacific and Atlantic, based on the berths it will have, the sources said.
"The sources said if the senior submariners see Mullen as more sympathetic to their cause, it would explain the sudden tendency to more candid comments..."

Lots of good stuff in this article, so read the whole thing. (At this point, I'd normally put a snarky comment in about The New London Day's registration requirements, but it appears that they've been doing the right thing and exempting a lot of their articles about Subase and the BRAC from their draconian policies. BZ, Day!)

In other Navy personnel news, I read that ADM Giambastiani, the submariner currently commanding JFCOM (the joint command formerly known as US Atlantic Command) was confirmed by the Senate to become Vice Chief of the Joint Staff. More submariners in positions of power can only be a good thing... as long as they don't get too high up; I know how some of my readers feel about the one who was U.S. President, and we know the other submariner who became head of his country wasn't a very nice guy.

Going deep...

Monday, July 18, 2005

Class Struggle

Crossposted by LL at "Hunderds of Fathoms".

When it comes to funding new classes of ships the US Navy is in a difficult position these days. Greater per unit procurement costs, budget constraints, mission requirements and the need to maintain a shipbuilding industrial base are all factors that must be taken into account when embarking on creating a new class of ship. In many cases the design and development of a new class of ship has a lead time of a decade or more of engineering work before construction starts. During that time technology advances and even operational requirements can change.

Here's a couple of examples of how a ship's design, development and construction process can go poorly or pretty well.

The Navy's newest class of amphibious ships is getting bad reviews by Navy inspectors in recent months. The USS San Antonio is a $1.2 billion helicopter and troop carrier schedule to join the fleet this fall.

USS San Antonio LPD17 (Source: US Navy)

The article titled "Problems on new ship a bad sign, analyst warns" states:

The ''poor construction and craftsmanship'' Navy inspectors say they found last month aboard a new amphibious ship could be an ominous sign for the service and the U.S. shipbuilding industry as they embark on a host of other ship programs, a veteran naval analyst warned Wednesday.

Additionally there's this statement:

Inspectors said they found such deficiencies as hazardous wiring, uninstalled ventilation and a crash-prone engineering control system. Though the Navy expects to take possession of the ship in August, the inspectors said the San Antonio is not ready for its crew to come aboard.

That's troubling, the ship is not ready for the crew to come aboard? I know what they really mean is become operational, she's already manned, but the Navy has a problem here and it sounds like another poorly run program and problems with the Shipbuilder.

Joseph F. Yurso a former commander of the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine is quoted in the above article as saying "A nuclear-powered submarine or aircraft carrier receiving its first exam from the Board of Inspection and Survey generally gets fairly high marks". But then goes on to argue that amphibious ships always seem to be at the end of a food chain. What I can't understand is the price tag, $1.2 Billion for a conventionally powered (diesel) ship that looks like a big sub tender, how is that the end of the food chain?

But Mr. Yurso brings up a good point, at least in recent history, that new class submarine programs seem to have the good record. In contrast take the progress of the new Virginia Class SSN as reported in The New London Day back in June:

The Groton-based USS Virginia could deploy later this year, more than a year ahead of what would be a typical schedule, becoming the first nuclear submarine to go on an official mission before a year of testing and a year of repair, top Navy officials said this week.

Virginia Class Submarine (Source: US Navy)

A few of my fellow bubbleheads have commented on the USS Virginia's program success back then, such as here and here as well as comparing the Virginia class to the DDX program here or the LCS program here.

This former EB yardbird and Submariner may be a little bias but I think the submarines are money well spent in comparison to some of the Navy's new surface ship classes.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

My Shuttle Memory

I have only had one encounter with the Space Shuttle (besides a trip to Kennedy Space Center), but it has left a mark on me that will last forever.

Our boat was pulled in to P-Can (Port Canaveral Weapons Station) to do a pers-trans. Because we were still on mod-alert we weren't allowed to take on lines. It was 8:00 AM and colors began to play on shore. The pilot that would be guiding us out of the harbor was in the bridge with us, and he mentioned that the shuttle was due to land any minute over at Cape Canaveral and if we heard a "double sonic-boom" then we should look for the shuttle.

As the Captain stood in the flying bridge, saluting colors, and the Star Spangled Banner played over the speakers I hear a "Boom Boom" and look up to see the shuttle directly overhead.

It was by far and away the most patriotic moment of my life, and one of my favorite memories from the boat.

Posted by Bubblehead Wyoming

Friday, July 15, 2005

What was the process? #3

Pennants, ensigns, jacks... were dutifully replaced when they wore and tore. On subs' this had been the Quartermasters' duty. Who performs this little chore now? When, where and how are the 'colors' disposed?

Thursday, July 14, 2005

De-mythologizing "Dirty Bombs"

As I've blogged at this crossposting, I'm glad to hear that someone--a former Navy Nuke as a matter of fact--is putting out the gouge on the radiological "dirty bomb" threat.
"Although radiological weapons—‘dirty bombs'—are not likely to be very dangerous, most people don't know this and they would panic after an attack. This reaction and the potential harm it can cause is very seductive to terrorist groups," Karam says. "However, through education and proper preparation we can reduce the risks and minimize the effects of a potential attack."
(hat tip: Eric at The Sub Report)

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Previous Shuttle Launches – A Submariner’s Perspective

Cross posted by LL at "Hundreds of Fathoms"

One of the rare treats this former SSBN boomer sailor experienced was to watch a Space Shuttle launch from the pier at PCAN (Port Canaveral). In 1985-86 the USS Alabama SSBN 731 had just finished our post construction and shipyard evolutions. We had done all our workups, shakedowns, DASOs and were ready to go on patrol. During one of our last AUTEC visits we did a port call at PCAN, one of the few places where an 16,764 surface tons 38’ draft Trident submarine can go.

What I got to witness was, what I seem to recall, the last Shuttle launch before the Challenger disaster. STS-61C Shuttle launch #24 occurred at 6:55 am on January 12, 1986. Our Commanding Officer had us all go topside to the pier for our morning muster. After the division heads and COB had reported to the CO that all was present and accounted for (liberty in Cocoa Beach can be a little distracting) the crew waited silently.

Shuttle Launch (Source: NASA)

The calm of that cool January morning changed dramatically when the dim light of dawn became much brighter and the morning quiet was interrupted with the characteristic low frequency rumble of the Shuttle Columbia's engines and boosters lighting off. What an awesome event to experience, you could feel the sound in our bones. But within minutes all was back to normal, the only evidence being a slowly dissipating contrail path of the Shuttle’s trajectory. The Columbia had a successful 6 day mission landing at Edwards Air Force base on January 18 1986.

STS61C Launch (Source: NASA)

About a month later, with the experience of watching a Space Shuttle launch fresh in my mind , I was on the Alabama doing a submerged transit through the Straits of Florida. We were on our way to the west coast and the Bangor Submarine Base WA via a goodwill PR visit to our namesake state and the City of Mobile when we got the news. I had just hit the rack when the CO comes on the 1MC with the news of the Challenger’s explosion. The obligatory moment of silence somehow didn’t seem adequate. Years later the Shuttle Columbia, that I watched liftoff in 1986, was also lost on its 2003 STS-107 mission deorbit.

I may be projecting here but I think submariners feel a distant kinship to astronauts. We both operate some of the most complex machines built by mankind. We work in inhospitable environments where a mistake can cost you and your shipmates their lives. In a recent generation both have lost some of their finest Challenger and Columbia; Thresher and Scorpion.

Throughout these tragedies, our country has risen to the greater challenge. We have found men and women willing to take the risks in the vacuum of space or the pressure of the deep ocean.

Apollo 11 Launch 1969 (Source: NASA)

Today 7/13/05 NASA is ready for the challenge again and return to flight. I would love to be at PCAN again to watch this next Shuttle launch. In any case I'll be watching on TV and wishing the crew of the Shuttle Discovery and mission STS-114 gods speed and a successful mission.

Monday, July 11, 2005

"Request to Run a Drill in ERML"

Cross-posted by Bubblehead in Idaho from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

I was talking to someone at work last night about engineering drills on submarines, and this made me think back to some of my favorite drill memories. (Most of my bad memories involve NNPI, so I couldn't write about them even if I wanted to for some reason.) Here are some of my favorites:

-- On the last planned drill before ORSE on the good ship Topeka, we decided to get back at the drill monitors. We got ahold of a drill radio, set it to "VOX", and stuck it on a running HPAC. They ended up securing from the drill because none of the monitors could talk to each other. A win for the little guys! The EDEA was not amused...

--I was hanging around in the wardroom with another JO, waiting for some forward drills to start. We had a couple of the rotating flashing lights that we use for fire simulation in the pantry for some reason, so my buddy puts them on the wardroom table and turns them on; we think it looks like the top of a police car (it seemed really funny at the time). Suddenly, we hear over the wardroom 4MC white rat: "Fire in the wardroom", and we had to run up to control to get them to secure from the "drill". The XO was not amused...

--Back aft during a fire drill from hell, we had a huge cluster of people gathered in ERML. Not many EAB connections there, so there were about five guys in a row buddy-clipped onto this one fairly new guy. (For those not familiar with EABS, here's a picture of one being worn. They're "Emergency Air Breathing" masks that you hook up to connections that run fresh breathing air under pressure throughout the ship -- a necessity in case of a fire. When you're wearing one correctly, the only way you breath is if you're plugged in; you hold your breath going from plug to plug. Each hose has a "buddy-clip" that someone else can plug into near the regulator.)
Anyway, this new guy decided to head up into upper level (this is on an LA-class boat) and doesn't realize he's got all these people plugged into him. He unplugs, starts to head up the ladder, and gets tugged back by the person connected to him. He realizes what's happening, and goes to plug back in, but a new arrival has taken the EAB plug he just abandoned. He looks around for a buddy-clip, and sees one; plugs in, tries to take a deep breath, and... you guessed it. He had plugged into the last guy in the row of people plugged into him. (It's a phenomenon known as "recircing your breathing air"). I laughed my ass off. The five victims were not amused...

--One day, as Engineer, I found in my inbox a proposed drill guide from the off-going duty section. Apparently they had a shoot-the-sh*t in Maneuvering about spontaneous combustion, and one of them came up with an idea for the ultimate "Screaming Alpha" fire drill. The drill guide was in the correct format, and was titled "Fire in the Reactor Operator". It had possible alternate courses of action like "If desired, the fire may spread to the Throttleman". I pretended not to be amused...

--About the title of this post -- standing EOOW, I had the following 2JV exchange with an off-watch EM:
"Request permission to run a drill in Engine Room Middle Level"
"What kind of drill?"
"An electrical drill"
"Report to Maneuvering"

Thirty seconds later, he ''Christmas-dinner''ed, a power drill in hand...

Let's hear some of your favorite drill memories...

Going deep....

Sunday, July 10, 2005

BRAC This!

I had the privelege of attending a briefing at Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard last week where we were addressed by Sen. Dan Inouye (D-HI) on the issue of BRAC and the Pearl Shipyard. He pointed out several facts of BRAC that I wasn't aware of:

1. The issue is that BRAC asked SecDef only to explain why the DoD chose Portsmouth over Pearl for closure (they did not add Pearl to BRAC).
2. Once the Secretary answers, there will be a hearing on the BRAC list.
3. It takes a vote of 7 of 9 BRAC members to add a facility to the list.
4. There is a large issue of capability in the decision; both are nuclear capable, however Pearl is a) in a fleet concentration area (with three full sub squadrons), b) in a prime strategic location in the Pacific (central to both West Coast vessels and those in Guam/Japan, as well as in Hawaii), c) Pearl is also surface ship capable/carrier capable (I don't believe Portsmouth is carrier capable, could be wrong), and d) the efficiency comparison used was a first-time DMP (for Pearl) compared to one in a long string of comparable DMP's (for Portsmouth).

The Chicago DMP was the first Pearl had done in years, and the first to include a major nuclear work pacakage (previous ones at Pearl had done very little in the back end of the boat). Chicago's included a complete reactor I&C upgrade to microprocessor (with Pearl being the first yard to use multipin connectors in the upgrade, previous installs at other yards used conventional wiring setups), a changeout of four reactor coolant pumps, and other major "aft" work including shaft changeout. The DMP from Portsmouth for comparison did not include RCP changeout, shaft work, or the multipin connectors (a skill that had to be learned from the ground up at Pearl...I was on shore duty in the shop that did them during Chicago's DMP, and it was new ground for our crew). Add to that some lengthy delays that were beyond yard control (material issues, mainly) and it ran long. By comparison, the Portsmouth DMP (don't know what boat) was not a "first timer" like Pearl's, and ran much shorter.

It doesn't seem likely to Sen. Inouye (or me) that Pearl will get added to BRAC. It's possible, but the Senator felt the issues of location and fleet concentration argued heavily in Pearl's favor. If New London does indeed close, Portsmouth becomes rather remote in terms of being near the Navy it serves, and even if New London stays it's still the least in terms of being near a lot of the fleet. Norfolk, Puget, and Pearl are all in rather heavily fleet populated areas, and the amount of voyage repair work Pearl does alone argues well for it's continued existence.

I can say that the efficiency issue has already been a wakeup call to Pearl. Efficiency is something the yard has struggled with, and I believe it's largely due to a complacent "federal worker" attitude, one of excess security. The notion that Pearl could possibly face BRAC left many here really thinking about the future...and both Sen. Inouye and our CO, CAPT Frank Camelio, stressed the efficiency issue as being the main one that sparked BRAC's inquiry to SecDef. Hopefully it will have the effect of "trimming the fat" and getting folks to put forth more effort at being efficient.

On a personal note, I normally wouldn't put too much concern into a BRAC issue for shipyards...but I have a stake in this one. Not only am I stationed at it (for the second time), but I am looking there for employment when I retire, as I plan to stay in Hawaii (contingent on a good job, preferably federal).

At any rate, I believe Pearl is fairly safe...but we'll see in the coming weeks!

Saturday, July 09, 2005

SOSUS vigilance from the Cold War to Terrorism

Cross posted by LL at "Hundreds of Fathoms"

The Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) was a critical component of the US Navy’s intelligence capabilities during the Cold War. The function of SOSUS during that time was to identify and track the estimated 700 submarines produced by the Soviets. The SOSUS system used the unique propulsion plant acoustic signature produced by a Submarine for its identification and tracking.

First Atlantic SOSUS Stations (Graphic: US Navy Undersea Warfare Magazine)

Since the close of the Cold War the national security role of the SOSUS system has diminished and it has been utilized for more marine environment research applications. But the national security role of SOSUS may be expanded again, this time in response to the terrorist threat and our vulnerability to an attack via a merchant ship. According to this recent Sea Power Magazine article:

The Navy and other U.S. government agencies intend to identify and track the world’s 121,000 merchant vessels with the same persistence and precision that characterized the Navy’s location, identification and tracking of Soviet submarines during the Cold War era.

Container Ship (Source: NOAA)

SOSUS will become part of a larger integrated data collection system to track and provide real time identification of merchant ships. Additional components of this intelligence data collection system would include space-based surveillance, an existing maritime Automatic Identification System (AIS) and newly developed Advanced Deployable Systems (ADS).

SOSUS will be expanded and upgraded so that acoustic surveillance of ports and littoral areas can be included. These littoral areas have high ambient noise levels that make it difficult to conduct acoustic surveillance.

A comprehensive system to track merchant shipping is one method that could help prevent a large scale sea-based terrorism event. In this link "Terror at Sea the Maritime Threat" author Ophir Falk documents how terrorist groups such as Al Qalda not only have been a threat to shipping but may turn to using vessels carrying hazardous materials as terrorist weapons. For example from the article:

The recent appointment of Saud Hamid al-Utaibi as new al-Qaida commander in Saudi Arabia-largely thanks to his expertise in marine terror-has caused many security experts to raise the threat level to maritime security. Hamid al-Utaibi's experience includes an active role in blowing up the USS Cole in October 2000 and in attacking the French Limburg tanker two years later-both rammed by exploding speedboats in Yemeni waters. Subsequent to the appointment, the United States warned a number of Mediterranean states that maritime attacks involving chemical agents might be imminent.

Of additional concern is what could be called "the poor man's missile platform". States that sponsor terrorist activities such as Iran have recently experimented with outfitting merchant vessels with Scud missiles. It was also widely reported in 2003 that Al Qaeda may also have a navy of sorts consisting of fishing boats and cargo vessels.

The integration of all this data from so many sources seems like a monumental task, but a task worth doing. I can see additional benefits as well as increasing port security, such as providing information for use in the Proliferation Security Initiative, help in locating lost or missing ships in emergencies as well as knowing where all the good targets are if things ever get hot. But I wonder how a operational conversation would be if SOSUS starts tracking all the merchant ship traffic. Will the sonar operator's report be "Duty Officer I hold Sierra 119,991 leaving Doha, Qatar course 045, speed 12 knots, range... ah hell what do I care we're in Virginia" ?

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

A Wife's Viewpoint

Over the last few days my wife has been posting on her blog about her experience while I was making patrols onboard the USS Tennessee. I have found it a very interesting read (even though I have heard it all before)and thought some of you might think so as well.

Stop by her site for more info: Mommy Matters.

USS LAGARTO (SS-371) Website

I’ve begun development of a website for the USS LAGARTO (SS-371) on behalf of surviving crew members and the Wisconsin Maritime Museum. There’s been some serious interest in the LAGARTO lately because it was found off the coast of Thailand earlier this year, and the impact of this find has affected a number of people.

Although I have other websites going on right now, this one is pretty significant and means a great deal to me because of what it means for surviving family members of the LAGARTO’s crew.

I hope that you’ll stop by the site at and check it out. And if you have information or opinions you’d like to add, please feel free to drop me a line. I plan on expanding the scope of the site to include as much as possible about the LAGARTO. Hopefully what I do with it can honor not only the LAGARTO, but all the boats and sailors on Eternal Patrol.

Listening to the BRAC hearing

Have CSPAN-2 on in the other room, and suffice to say that John Markowicz is the CT delegation's secret weapon. He is meticulously deconstructing the rationale for closing New London, and exposing all the areas where the inherent military advantages of the subase were undervalued--deliberately, it seems--to justify the recommendation for closure.

If the commissioners are indeed reasonable, believe that military value is paramount, and are not beholden to the bean-counters, Markowicz's arguments alone should be enough to pull New London off the list.

At lunchtime, I'll watch more, but the short version goes like this:

Markowicz is excellent.

Update: Before I had to turn off BRAC coverage in favor of this, Markowicz was highlighting the berthing facilities at New London and comparing them to what the SSN facilities at Norfolk and Kings Bay would look like. Suffice to say that I didn't know what "nesting" was before I saw this part of the presentation, but from a common sense standpoint, the arrangement that would be forced upon boats at those two facilities is ridiculous. Norfolk would require large expenditures on pier construction and still that would not be enough to eliminate the need for nesting. New London, as a port facility for submarines, strikes me as being state of the art compared to the "solutions" provided by redistributing assets to Norfolk and Kings Bay.

Update II: I had hoped to watch my TiVOed BRAC coverage this evening and weigh in, but I had to go to my parents' house for my dad's birthday, and when I got home I saw something that is going to take up the rest of my blogging time tonight. Hopefully, I'll be able to watch some BRAC tomorrow night and post then.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Quadrennial Defense Review - Key to New London Sub Base Defense

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

Connecticut officials will meet with the BRAC commission in Boston today on the fate of the New London Submarine Base. Among the chief arguments against its closing will be the still unconfirmed size of the future submarine force. The sub force numbers quoted by various Navy sources have ranged from as low as 30 to as high as the current 54 submarines putting into question what that final number will be. An AP report in Newsday puts it this way:

The Pentagon's four-year review of the nation's military strategy, called the Quadrennial Defense Review, could be the final word on the subject and is expected to be released late this year. By then, however, Groton's fate likely will be sealed.

Simmons, a Republican whose district includes Groton, said closing the facility based on uncertain projections of the fleet's size would amount to the BRAC commission writing military policy.

Part of their argument may well be to wait until the Quadrennial Defense Review provides definitive numbers on submarine force size requirements and settles the differences between the Pentagon planners and the submarine force fleet commanders.

Additional points will be made about the sub base, synergy, and military value with other facilities and contractors. It will be argued that the Navy did not take into context the New London Sub base vicinity to nearby Submarine contractor Electric Boat and Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., which develops submarine technology. Maintaining an industrial base and shipbuilding capacity has been of continuing concern to the Navy.

CT State commissioners will also discuss community, economic, and environmental issues.

So now all the BRAC twitter is doing the hula... local papers have gone all ga-ga over the news that BRAC is questioning closing the Portsmouth shipyard. They suggest closing Pearl Harbor NSY instead:

The federal Base Realignment and Closure Commission wants to close Pearl Naval Shipyard — the state’s largest industrial employer — putting nearly 4,200 civilian workers on the unemployment rolls and jeopardizing the more than $1 billion it pumps into Hawaii’s economy annually.

Well, that's not entirely accurate...they don't "want to close" PHNSY, they are questioning Sec. of Defense Rumsfeld's reasoning in picking Portsmouth to close over Pearl.

The commission wants Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld or his staff to attend a public hearing July 18 in Washington, D.C. to explain why the shipyard was not included in the original base-closure list.

The linked article may not fully bear that out (the characterization I make in saying it's actually a question to the Pentagon vice a desire to close PHNSY)...but I have "inside information". Our Shipyard Commander, CAPT Frank Camelio, has not only testified before BRAC, he gets the "official updates", and he's send out damage control emails yard-wide to ease the panic this has caused.

It's irresponsible reporting, to say the least. First off, many here agree that closing PHNSY simply won't happen, and here's the reasoning:

1. We are both nuclear sub maintenance capable and surface ship maintenance capable.
2. We are capable of (and in fact gearing up for our third) nuclear sub refueling.
3. We are the only significant repair facility this side of Puget Sound, Washington. In fact, to drydock the San Francisco in Guam they had to recertify a drydock that was basically in mothballs there.

Does anyone seriously think that the Navy wants to give up a shipyard in the prime stragtegic location that Pearl Harbor is, with the capability we have, over differences in efficiency? Sure, Portsmouth is more efficient by the numbers, but start adding up the costs of PCS'ing all those sailors to Puget, Norfolk, or Portsmouth for DMP's/Refuelings/Inactivations (we do those too). And the travel costs for gas turbine ships (that often sacrifice operations and even chunks of deployments for the cost of gas)...sending them all to the mainland would be plain silly.

Some argue material/parts shipping cost...the above likely would offset it, and we could save a lot of the rest of the cost by using our own USNS fleet vice commercial solutions like Matson (think they aren't gouging us? HA!)

In the long run, however, if they do put PHNSY on the BRAC list, and it does close, my money is going into Newport News Shipbuilding stock...they are already looking into getting the facility, they've been eyeing it for months/years. There will be a shipyard here, no doubt...and while I fully believe it will be PHNSY, I'm sure if BRAC chopped it that Newport News would be in here in a heartbeat. It would, however, cost the Navy in the long run.

Pay me now, or pay me later...lesson here is that Pearl needs to turn up the efficiency and get LEAN.

Sinking the Fleet

That's the title of the op/ed piece by Vice Adm. (ret.) Albert H. Konetzni Jr. in today's New York Post. Go read it here.

An excerpt:

That closure will also reduce our strategic flexibility: East Coast submarines deploy to the Pacific via the North Pole. New London is perfectly geographically situated to continue this practice as well as to support operations in the Mediterranean and the Persian Gulf.

What is particularly troubling about the drive to close these critical facilities is the sudden shift in the analysis behind the U.S. military's approach to the structure of our armed forces, and its relationship to the budget.

Our submarine force has been the subject of 14 studies in the last 12 years. These studies are time-consuming, but for the most part they are appropriate and welcome — we should be ready to justify the billions of dollars that the taxpayers spend on submarines; if we can't, the money should be taken away.

Repeatedly, the submarine force has been able to show a solid case — both in real world "peacetime" operations and in speculative wartime usage — that provides a firm basis for the American taxpayer to be comfortable that that money is not being wasted.

But more recent studies are different: The pragmatic and balanced approach favored in the past — one that understood the need to maintain a force ready for war — seems to have been replaced by a "reverse-engineered" analysis that starts with a fixed dollar amount, then finds and attempts to design a force structure that fits the budget.

Good stuff. Read the whole thing.

People like Konetzni and John Markowicz have made far stronger arguments for keeping the subase at New London open and maintaining a strong submarine force than the politicians who will be doing most of the presenting before the commissioners. I hope the pols have been listening to what those men have been saying.

Konetzni testified before the BRAC today. Markowicz will testify tomorrow as part of the Connecticut delegation appearing before the BRAC.

Caption Contest 3.0 Winner

Following a career culminating in a COB tour, retired MCMM(SS) John Smith found his new career in law enforcement was just missing something...
Rob is this week's winner! I wonder what could inspire such creativity? Must be something in his Hawaiian environment......

Picture of New Russian Diesel Boat

Cross posted by Bubblehead in Idaho from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

At the Second International Naval Show in St. Petersberg, Russia, the Admiralty Shipyards put their newest submarine, the “Sankt-Petersburg” Project 677 “Lada”, on display. This article has a picture of the boat (seems to a much bigger topside free-flood area than the Kilo-class boats). Nice looking sub, though. The article does mention how the Russians lost out of their bid to provide these subs (actually the export version, Project 1650 "Amur") to the Indian Navy, which decided to buy the French/Spanish-designed Scorpenes. (This picture of a Scorpene came from this good page of submarine photos.)
The other news that came out of the article is this info on the Iranian submarines:

"Moreover, Kommersant found out that Rosoboronexport is negotiating with Iran about repair and modernization of Iranian submarines. Iran has three submarines of Project 877EKM that were supplied by Russia in 1992 (Russian name of the sub B-219, Iranian—901 Tareq), in June 1993 (B-224, 902 Noor) and in November 1996 (B-175, 903 Yunes). It was expected that all the major components that already exceeded their life expectancy will be replaced. Also, the new anti-ship missile complex Club-S with the target distance of 200 km will be installed on these subs. The refurbishing of each sub would be done under the contract which costs anywhere from $80 to $90 million. Originally it was expected that the refurbishing will be done in Zvezdochka Co (Severo-Dvinsk) but Admiralty Shipyards are also fighting for the contract."

(Regarding the information above: I've always seen the second Iranian sub be called "Nuh"; however, it appears that "Noor" is more commonly used. Whatever the sub's name is, it's a Navy Cross waiting to happen...)
Information on the Club-S missile can be found here, and another article that focuses on the Iranian submarine upkeep deal is here. Of note, the seven new Kilos the Chinese are buying will come with the Club-S, and at least some of the Indian Kilos apparently already have them. Hopefully our new defense cooperation agreement with the Indians will allow us access to some operational data on this missile.

Going deep...

Something Got Lost In Translation

Cross posted by Bubblehead from Idaho from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

I came across this "interesting" article in "The Journal of Turkish Weekly", titled "Turkey to Get Two Tomahawk-Lauching Submarines". This, I thought, was big news... until I read the article. See if you can spot the mistake:

"Two destroyers able to launch Tomahawks missiles are coming to Turkey from the US in the next two years. The first of the two Spruance-class submarines will be transferred to Turkey next year, with the other arriving the following year.
"Apart from the Tomahawk system, there are Asroc, Harpoon and Seasparrow missile systems also on the ships, the USS Cushing and the USS O'Bannon.
"Turkey is set to procure from the U.S. two destroyer submarines within the next two years, each equipped with a Tomahawk missile system, giving them the ability to hit hidden targets on land from sea.
"The U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee has reported that it approved the donation and sale of the 26-year-old destroyers. The last word on the transfer of the two submarines, one to be donated while the other is sold, belongs to U.S. President George W. Bush. The first of the two Spruance-class submarines will be transferred to Turkey next year, with the other arriving the following year. The subs, the USS Cushing and the USS O'Bannon, each weighs 8,000 tons. The cost of their maintenance is $30 million annually. Both ships are equipped with advanced weapons systems."

The only thing I can figure is that the Turkish words for "submarine" and "warship" are similar, and the author, trying not to use the word "destroyer" too frequently, put in "warship" instead, resulting in the mistranslation. Either that, or the Turks are going to be very surprised when Cushing and O'Bannon show up...

(While looking for the Turkish translations, I found that Bablefish doesn't translate to and from Turkish, and the Turkish word for ship is "fulk". I also found this good page of submarine links.)

For real submarine news, please go to The Sub Report...

What's Next After Our 1-4-2-1 Defense? Small, Tactical, Sub-Launched Nukes

Cross-posted from Molten Eagle.

The New York Times today reports in Pentagon Weighs Strategy Change to Deter Terror that senior Pentagon planners are challenging our old strategy requiring U.S. military readiness to fight two wars at once. Concern that troop and weapons concentrations in Iraq and Afghanistan is limiting Pentagon ability to deal with other potential needs, was underscored by Gen. Richard B. Myers, JCS chairman, in a classified risk assessment to Congress this spring.The Pentagon's sweeping study, called Quadrennial Defense Review, is due to be completed early next year.

The 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review is unique in four ways. It will be the first QDR undertaken: during wartime; by an experienced Secretary of Defense who led one previously; in a post GWOT environment; and when power wielded by China is seen as cause for concern by planners, legislators, and policymakers.

"Whether anybody believed we could actually fight two wars at once is open to debate," one senior military officer said. "But having it in the strategy raised enough uncertainty in the minds of our opponents that it served as a deterrent. Do we want to lose that? We don't want to give any adversary the confidence that they could take advantage of us while we're engaged in one major combat operation."

"The current military strategy is known by a numerical label, 1-4-2-1, with the first number representing the defense of American territory. That is followed by numbers representing the ability to deter hostilities in four critical areas of the world, and to swiftly defeat two adversaries in near-simultaneous major combat operations The final number stands for a requirement that the military retain the capability, at the same time, to decisively defeat one of those two adversaries, which would include capturing a capital and toppling a government."

Shifting longterm emphasis toward combatting counterterrorism focuses more heavily on civilian capabilities with huge military impact. Emphasizing a single war plus a better counterterrorism effort dictates lighter, more agile Special Ops units and employment of more language, intelligence and covert communications specialists.

That said, here is the prediction based upon current ability and future need to use STSLN (small tactical submarine launched nukes) from America's Arsenal of Democracy. Advantages of submarines: stealth, deterrence, payload, command and control, weapons safekeeping. Advantage of aircraft: non-stationary targeting.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Born on the Fourth of July

Captain Edward F. Steffanides (he went by "Steve") was born on July 4, 1908 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

After attending Boys Technical High School in Milwaukee, he entered the US Naval Academy.
While there, he lettered in both football and crew, and graduated with the class of 1931.

His first duty station was aboard the USS ARIZONA (BB-39) from June 1931 to March 1932.

In 1932, he resigned his commission and reverted to the US Naval Reserve. From '32 to '38, he worked on Wall Street as a bond trader and salesman.

In 1938, he returned to active duty, serving on the USS COLORADO (BB 45) during the period between December 1938 and March 1941

In June of 1941, Steve graduated from the United States Submarine School at New London, CT.

He served on the USS CACHALOT (SS 170) from July 1941 to April 1943. CACHALOT was undergoing overhaul at the Pearl Harbor Navy Yard on December 7, 1941, and fired upon enemy aircraft with her machine guns during the Japanese attack. While serving on CACHALOT, Steve took part in 3 war patrols.

In May 1943 he joined the USS S-13 (SS 118) as CO and served on her for a year.

In June 1944, he was assigned to the USS TUNA (SS 203), where he served as PCO & CO and took part in 3 war patrols. During TUNA's 13th and final war partol, she performed reconnaissance off the NW coast of Borneo. On March 3, 1945, TUNA landed a party of Allied Intelligence Bureau personnel and 4,000 lbs. of equipment in Labuk Bay, Borneo. For this, E.F. Steffanides was awarded the Commendation Ribbon with "V" device. His service on TUNA ended in August 1945.

He then worked on the SUBRON 4 staff, serving there until February 1947, when he joined the USS CLAMAGORE (SS 343) as her second CO.

He continued serving in various roles between February 1948 and June 1956. At that time he was assigned to his last command, USS VEGA (AF 59).

In 1961, Capt. E. F. Steffanides retired from the US Navy.

He passed away on December 23, 2003.

He was my grandfather.

Sadly, I never got to know him the way I should have, but I'm pretty damn sure he'd approve of the company I'm keeping here on this blog. I wish I could relay stories of his to you, but alas I don't know them. I am fortunate enough to be entrusted with his personal effects, which include the files that provided me with the information you see above. "Grandpa Steve," as I called him, is the main reason I became interested in submarines.

And while I don't know nearly as much about this old submariner as I wish I did, I rest comfortably in the knowledge that one day I'll be in the same place he is, and we can sit back, relax, and have a nice long conversation to get caught up. I won't be able to share the stories I hear then, but I'll be glad to finally know them.

So on this July 4th, which would have been his 97th birthday, I thought I'd share the history that I do know.

I'm glad I'm able to pay tribute among others who appreciate men like him.


Updated: Corrected a typo re: his graduation year from submarine school. I had typed 1951, when in fact he graduated in 1941. Thanks to the NoonzWife for pointing this out.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Humor so stealthy it must have been classified

With apologies to Bubblehead and the JC's present crew. Here is some special, humor from Wizbang in February that has surfaced so stealthily it must have been classified until now.
Some excerpts:

Headline - Navy to Commission *Attack* Submarine Jimmy Carter
Now there is a misnomer if ever there was one. -- Unless, of course, it was named after the attack rabbit.

Borrowing from a commenter on the Rott, "with all that inflation, will it be able to dive?"

What's next, the John Kerry Veterans Adminstration Building? A new model deep sea diving suit called the Kennedy for the Navy?

Maybe they should name a submarine after Ted Kennedy, he's experienced at sinking things

I suppose it is the first of it's kind in the Malaise class sub.

World’s First Nookyular Sub

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Coming Back in the News...

Cross-posted from Molten Eagle.

For the record, she returned to New London the following November and operated along the eastern seaboard until decommissioned at Submarine Base, New London. Your guessing is welcomed to demonstrate your submarine subject matter expertise, but guesses will not be confirmed right/wrong until this news actually breaks. Hint: If you can guess her hull number, you may also be able to guess the origin of a news story coming more than 28 years after decommissioning.

Guesses so far:

1. July 4th, Bubblehead, ASR-16
2. July 8th, Anonymous, USS SALMON ?

Molten Thought is Helping the Armed Forces Relief Trust

I apologize for going off-submarine-topic here, but it's for a worthy cause.

Molten Thought is four hours away from completing the first-ever "Rear Echelon" Blogathon in support the Armed Forces Relief Trust .

Head over there right away, as the blogging is impossibly fast & furious, and no topic is too arcane.

Make sure you click on their Tip Jar in support of the troops before you leave.

Well, what the heck are you waiting for!?!?!?!

UPDATE: Final Blogathon Stats (corrected...for the better)

UPDATE II: The Blogathon Tip Jar is still up at Molten Thought. The Blogathon may be over, but you can still help the Armed Forces Relief Trust. Make a donation if you can.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Caption Contest v3.0

Place your entries in the comments section. I'll announce a winner on Tuesday.

Happy 4th of July, everybody!

"I Found It On E-Bay"

Cross-posted by Bubblehead from Idaho from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:

A reader sends a link to one of the more interesting auctions I've seen in a while on E-Bay.

Videospection 921 HRTV High Resolution Still Picture Periscope Camera From McDonnell Douglas Corp.
~ ORIGINAL PRICE: $32,648.00 ~
Manufactured in May, 1998. This U.S. Military Submarine camera is in excellent cosmetic condition. Uses a 31-pin connector. Taken from a working system. We do not have means to test the item, therefore it is sold as-is. Best offers will be considered.
Weight: Approx. .88 lb.
Measurements: Approx. 4" x 2.5" Diameter
Videospection cameras are used in a broad range of mission-critical applications such as deep ocean & N.A.S.A. space mission photography.

Not quite sure what I'd do with it, but it'd be pretty cool to have. I'll have to talk to SubBasket about this one... (she, of course, will say the money would be better spent on baskets...)

As I look through E-Bay, I notice there's lots of cool stuff from my old boat USS Connecticut. (Not so much from Topeka or Jimmy Carter.) Still, the model I have of her is much cooler than this one...

In total, it looks like there are over 2,500 "submarine" items up for auction -- and the Eagle just sh*t today! Better polish up my E-Bay "sniping" skillz...