30 June 2005

Children's Wisdom

Recently, the mini-PigBoatSailors have had some gems:

M-PBS V2.0 Mod1 (age 5):

Upon seeing Dad's new toy for the yard: "That doesn't look like a Slip n' Slide.  That looks like a slip and slip!"

Trying to discern why dad has a big bag near the grill:  "What is this?"
PBS: "Wood chips for the grill."
M-PBS 2-1: "How do you eat them?"

M-PBS V2.0 Mod2 (age 3):
M-PBS 2-2 <having a gassy day>: *bwwwaapp!*
PBS <trying to teach manners>: "What do we say when we fart?"
M-PBS 2-2: *raspberry*

Later that same day:
M-PBS 2-2:  *bwwwaapp!*
PBS:  "What do you say after you fart?"
M-PBS 2-2 <proudly>:  "That was me!"

29 June 2005

Not my axe to grind, but...

As I am sure everyone can agree, there are some ideas out there that just seem crazy. One such idea is this one, which proposes that we organize an array of orbital bodies around our home planet to help combat global warming. Now, as an semi-avid amateur astronomer, this idea fills me with horror, as I would not be able to enjoy the night sky with this big structure brightening the night from horizon to horizon. However, there is a bigger issue here, that I am going to attempt to tackle: Global Warming.

Now, I will say straight away that I am not an environmental scientist, nor a specialist of any kind in this field. However, in my undergrad days, during, I believe, this class, taught by the best prof. I have ever encountered (see left), I was given a different view of the issue. One which I seldom see mentioned in the media, or by "green" groups, but I do find in academic settings. So, I will do my best to reproduce, below, the lesson my favorite prof imparted, with help from data I culled from the web.

-First, we must ask ourselves if global warming is actually happenning. To do this, let us not simply look at a small data set (geologically speaking), but at as broad an overview as possible.

This graph, which I grabbed from the University of Leeds, does indeed show that during recent, "modern" history, there has indeed been an upward trend in average global temperature. In fact, the science academies of the G8 nations issued a joint statement, including the National Academy of Sciences, via the Royal Society of the UK, stressing that the "scientific understanding of climate change is now sufficiently clear to justify nations taking prompt action," including, "Acknowledg[ing] that the threat of climate change is clear and increasing."

Ok, so if there is an upward trend in temperatures, can a reason be discerned? Greenhouse gases seem to be a likely suspect. Ozone depletion also looks like a possible cause. In general, though, these causes supposedly all add up to the warming process known as the greenhouse effect. This effect has many in the scientific community worried, enough so for some very dire warnings regarding the results of this warning to be issued, and also some creative solutions, such as the one I mentioned above.

Oh, but wait, I said we should look at as broad a data set as possible, didn't I? Well, the the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report that the science academies used as their primary reference uses data from as far back as 1861, and makes statements regarding global climate ranging as far back as 1000 years ago. Certainly that is a good data set? Let us take a longer view of Earth's temperature history, to be certain:
Wow, that first graph shows that before the mid-to-late 1800's, there was a global event going on known as the Little Ice Age. That's right, we are still just coming out of that. Prior to that, it looks as if there was another temperature shift known as the Medieval Warm Period, and it sure looks like it was just as warm as, if not warmer, than where we are going. Looking even farther back, as the second graph shows, there was another cool era, preceeded by another warm period known as the Holocene Maximum - again, quite a warm spell, during the period of about 7,000 to 5,000 years ago.

Those are quite some variations. Well before the industrial age, too. I wonder what could have caused all those climatic shifts? Perhaps if we look farther back, we will see a pattern, and that might give us a clue:

Wow, stretching the timeline out like that makes it appear that there is indeed a rough pattern. Since nothing in the nature seems to fit a perfectly cyclic pattern, let's assume this does conform to a pattern. If this is so, then there should be an identifiable cause.

Perhaps, just as expanding our scope of observation for time helped us see a possible pattern, expanding our view of the system involved will help us see a cause. After all, Earth is part of a much larger system:
In this system, Earth behaves in predictable, cyclic ways - hence why I first heard about this in a physics class. For a quick summary of how Earth's orbital behavior might affect global climate, look here. But, to give my own summary, Earth's varying inclination towards the sun, its orbital eccentricity, and the movement of its rotational axis - known as precession, all play into how the larger solar system affects Earth's climatic system. Integrating these various effects into a predictable cycle gives something known as Milankovitch cycles. Wow, these predicted cycles fit pretty decently into the known, larger data set. But it doesn't account for everything, including the current warming trend, which, in all fairness, is still such a relatively small event that it would not really show up on such a long-scale cycle.

So are there any "larger system" explinations that might also account for the current warming trend? Well, first, let us determine where our heat is coming from. Ok, that was a little obvious. Does our primary heat source have any known variations? Why yes, it does, and they can give us some additional insight as well:
(Thanks again, NASA)

The number of sunspots produced by the sun give us a good measure of its activity, which directly relates to its thermal output. So we can use the sunspot numbers to track the approximate thermal output of our sun. It appears to track with our known data, too! The dip in sunspot sightings, known as the Maunder Minimum, correlates quite well with that Little Ice Age we discussed before! And since sunspots follow a fairly predictable cycle, and we currently are on an upswing, both per theory and observation, that might account for our current warming trend.

So, we have established that a longer view of Earth's timeline and a larger sytemic view give us some significant, and possibly suprising, insights. So, let's look at where this view points us. One study, J Imbrie, J Z Imbrie (1980). "Modeling the Climatic Response to Orbital Variations". Science 207 (1980/02/29), which takes into account these views, states, "Ignoring anthropogenic and other possible sources of variation acting at frequencies higher than one cycle per 19,000 years, this model predicts that the long-term cooling trend which began some 6,000 years ago will continue for the next 23,000 years."

What?!? So we are actually, potentially headed into a cooling period, and right now are only in a "local" warm period?! Ack. Perhaps this global warming thing is a -GOOD- idea.

In all seriousness, I am not suggesting that CFCs, ozone depletion, burning dirty coal, and the like are a good thing. Pollution does damage, hurts crops, hurts people. The lack of ozone has been linked to cancer (ask folks in South America). However, tying these to global warming to try and prove how bad they are just seems silly. There are plenty of VALID reasons to worry about these things without playing chicken little and crying, "The sky is falling, the sk... errr, the sea is rising, the sea is rising!" Earth, and its climate, is not a steady state system. Temperatures change, climates shift. What we should be worrying about is how to adapt, not how to maintain the climate how it is. We can't. It is a system filled with amazingly huge energies, one which we might cause a slight perturbation in now and then, but one which we will very likely not be able to affect to any great extent.

So, I would caution anyone who take the global warming arguement seriously. It does not consider the entire realm of data or the whole system involved. It is, therefore, in my very humble opinion, BAD SCIENCE. Stay skeptical, and remember, nature is almost always cyclical.

Read the Full Post

28 June 2005

Making the wrong point at the right time

Rep. Simmons of CT is making a bit of a fool of himself while trying to defend the New London Sub Base. Discussion currently being held at Ultraquiet No More


27 June 2005

He started it!

My hate of asshatted academia-weenies grows (not you, Will). The infamous Ward Churchill of the U of Colo now suggests that soldiers should frag their officers. As I am technically still a reservist, can I assume he is threatening me and defend myself? Pleeeeaaaase?

UPDATE (6/30/05):
The Guys as Castle Donovan and the Instapundit have caught this one now. Just note, I had this first! ;-)

While trying to think about it rationally, I also thought, and posted at Arrrggghhh!:
While the call of "treason" might be a bit overboard, it seems Churchill has managed to go and break US Code this time. Specifically Title 18, Part I, Ch 115. Section 2387, "Activities Affecting Armed Forces Generally" seems to fit well, as it states:
Whoever, with intent to interfere with, impair, or influence the loyalty, morale, or discipline of the military or naval forces of the United States:
advises, counsels, urges, or in any manner causes or attempts to cause insubordination, disloyalty, mutiny, or refusal of duty by any member of the military or naval forces of the United States...

Perhaps the "During War" section also, if one can get around the whole 'declaring war' part. Also Section 2385, "Advocating Overthrow of the Government," and Sec 2383, "Rebellion or insurrection" might fit the crime as well. I wonder if anyone will bother to take this up?

My belated book meme

So, quite a while ago, the nook tagged me to do this. What with travel and then training, I have been away from my computer for too long ( I know, excuses excuses). So, with way too much delay, here are my answers:

(1) Number of books you own: So, here is the pathetic answer - yes, we have lived in the new house for about 6 months now. And yes, we are still unpacking. So, I will take a swag. I'd have to say over 300, but far fewer than bo... Hmmm, to give an idea, though - almost every book written by Asimov (almost - a lot of the short story collections are repetitive), lotsa Physics for the masses type books (I majored in it, and feel like I have lost almost all of what I learned...), a bunch of comparative religion books (more the wife than I, but they are still an interesting read, if well written. How else to talk to someone unless you understand where they are coming from?). Almost no political books, as, believe it or not, they tend to annoy the crap outta me. Except for America ;-) However, I am still gathering books, and I have the bad habit of going cheap when I buy one, and getting it paperback. As I often reread books to make sure I didn't miss anything, or to look at it in a different light once I have had a chance to mull, this means I wear a bunch out. I am currently trying to slowly replace my paperbacks with hardcovers...

(2) Last book bought: Tom Clancy's The Bear and the Dragon - I was on travel, I had finished the book I brought with me (see below), and needed a read. The bookstore at the airport was pathetic, and although this one is rather old, and I stopped reading Clancy a long time ago, it was better than anything else I saw. Besides, it touched on my recent misgivings about China, so I have at least be nodding in agreement with some of the assumptions as I read...

(3) Last book I read: Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke - I own almost every one of his, too. More 'hard' science fiction than Asimov, at worst he points out advnaces that we are capable of with known technology, at best, he paints a picture of a more tolerant, humanistic future. This one falls in the center, closer towards the better, with the best quote from the book being, "According to the historians, the first true democracy on Earth was established in ... 2011, in a country called New Zealand." Let's hear it for the Kiwis! Reread whilst on travel.

(4) Five books that mean a lot to me:
1. The Hornblower Series by C. S. Forester - My Grandfather introduced me to his favorite series when I was just starting High School. For that reason alone, I would love any book. But these are a great read. They have excellent action, good historical accuracy (mostly) of the Napoleonic Wars, and excellent technical details regarding sailing old tall ships. The first three, which were written to be the only books of the series originally (Beat to Quarters, Ship of The Line, and Flying Colours) are without a doubt the best, but they are all good. For those of you that do not know, I have been sailing wince I was 6, and racing sailboats since I was, oh, 11, so I loved the detail given to how to sail and fight the old ships. However, what really endeared me to the series was the story of the title character, a flawed, very imperfect man trying to command good men as well as they deserved in trying times. The reason? My Grandpa (a WWII Navy vet) would talk with me about the books as I was reading them, and tell me what he thought of the leadership style, and how he thought it *should* be. He was the main reason I joined the Navy myself, and he was who I had in the back of my mind everytime I put on the uniform, hoping that I lived up to the ideals we had talked about.

2. Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein - I read this in High School as well, way before it was warped into that desecration of a movie (even if it did have a most excellent view of gender integrated units). I never really got into many of his books - not enough "sci" in his sci-fi for me to truly grok him. However, I was intrigued by the idea that only those that had performed some sort of civil service were the only true "citizens" and many others didn't seem to value the ability to vote, but I did not really buy into the idea that only a certain class should be allowed full participation in government. Even so, I did feel even at that time that I owed it to my nation to serve myself, so I was at least gratified some felt that way, I suppose.

3. Red Storm Rising by Tom Clancy - The first Clancy book I ever read, and his best, I think. A great "what-if" about WWIII with USSR vs. NATO. No Jack Ryan here, it is a stand alone book, and helped nudge along my already serious interest in subs. I will not, as some of my colleagues have done, say that this lead me towards the sub fleet. Please, that just seems, well, rather silly to make such a choice based on a book. It did confirm my interest, though.

4. Again, a series rather than a book: The Prydain Chronicles by Lloyd Alexander. I can point to this series as hooking me on reading. I was in 3rd grade when I first read these, and they caught me. Due to these books, I would rarely ever a) be satisfied with a book if it wasn't as detailed as a series could be, and b) be found without a book in my pocket or bag ever again. I went from these books to his Westmark series, and graduated to Tolkien after that (based on a librarian's advice, even though I was still in grade school. Bless her for pointing me towards more challenging books than the school thought I was ready for).

5. How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. Hey, I am Irish-American, and I love history, so what is here for me not to love? Frankly, though, it is an interesting look at medieval times from a not oft-examined view.

Ok, so I mentioned authors and series more than actual books. Mea Culpa, but as I said, I really would rather read a series of books instead of one. I love a multi-plotted, intricate story. Probably why I love Asimov, because even though connecting his "Robot" series and "Foundation" series was tenuous, and the conclusion with Foundation and Earth was a little disappointing, it was a loooong and detailed read, especially when I started over reading the Robot novels once I realized he had gone and tied them into the Foundation series.

Despite my wife's jokes, though, I did *not* list the Reactor Plant Manual as one of my top 5. Whew.


20 June 2005


Taking "Professional Development" classes all week, so I will be a little light here.
And I thought I was done with training when I got out of the Navy...

16 June 2005

Shifting Focus?

This article from Newsday, regarding the hiring of a Washington lobbying firm by the state of CT, coupled with the report concerning the three Admirals addressing members of the HASC that I discussed here, has gotten me thinking about the current New London sub base defense plan. While these actions may have some influence over the BRAC recommendations, especially in the run-up to the July 6th hearings in Boston, it seems as if they are pointed towards a different target: Congress. Has the Navy/New London defense team given up on influencing the actual recommendations, and are now hoping to defeat the BRAC en toto when it comes to Congress? I hope not, and here is why:

1) If New London gets pulled off of the recommendation prior to the final BRAC recommendation, that is the only installation that gets affected. If it goes to Congress, they have to give the up or down to -the entire list-, no partial deletions. Overall, I think the BRAC can and will have some positive affects. While I really do not want to see New London close, for a variety of reasons, I am very conflicted about the possibility of sinking the entire BRAC over our base.

2) If this is how New London gets saved, it means it was not saved because the value of the sub force was proved, nor the value of the SUBASE was proved, but that a combination of politics, economics, oh, and maybe military value, saved it. Anyone who gives a rat's tail about the sub fleet, the Navy, or the military, should take that as a slap in the face. If New London is worth saving, and I think it is, then we need to prove it! Using the criteria that matter, not via politics.

Hopefully, I have simply misread this all.

The Admirals Weigh In

Three of the Sub Force's leading Admirals banded together in New London to talk to members of the House Armed Services Committee and send a message to the BRAC. The Dolphin, the SUBASE's paper put out by its PAO, has the story (who knew they had it together enough to get the paper online? Not me, and I was stationed there...)

My Summary:
Vice Adm. Charles L. Munns, Commander, Naval Submarine Forces (formerly SUBLANT, now he has the whole kit and kaboodle);
Adm. Kirkland H. Donald, NAVSEA(08); and,
Rear Adm. John D. Butler, Program Executive Officer (Submarines) - my old boss!
These three Admirals all broke with the official Navy line to push the importance of the Sub Fleet. Now, one might ask a few things about this, like, "Why didn't they do this before now, and maybe help shape the Navy's position beforehand? Or did they, and since they didn't get what they want are they now just trying to circumvent the problem? Isn't this just submariners trying to protect their little ricebowls?"

My answer to the above questions, and a synopsis of their meetings with the members of the HASC can be read in the 'Full Post' below.

Regarding the reasonable questions that might be raised concerning the ADM's reasons for talking directly to the HASC:

1) "Why didn't they do this before now?": VADM Munns is the sub fleet's -operational- commander. He, more than likely, did not get nearly as much visibility into the BRAC process as the admin side of the Navy did, as this was almost exclusively a Pentagon and support-side excercise. So, paradoxically, his view was probably only minimally considered for a process whose primary goal is supposed to be military value, something he has more insight into regarding subs than anyone in the fleet. As for the other two, see the next question as to why they didn't play into the original Navy recommendation as much as they should have.

2) "Are they just trying to circumvent the problem?": Well, yes, but for good reason. ADM Donald is Naval Reactors. NR has a historically stormy relationship with the CNO going back to Rickover, and while it is not quite as combustible as it was back then, it is not exactly amicable yet. Do you think they asked him what he thought, even if he is the highest ranking submariner? No way, leadership still rankles at the perception that NAVSEA(08) runs the Navy since he has a significant say in its two most valuable assets, Carriers and Subs. VADM Munns is about to lose significant capability -and- his biggest SUBASE, so he is going to do whatever he can. RDML Butler is 'just' a Rear Admiral, and inside the Beltway that doesn't give you much weight. Plus, he is an aquisition and development guy, who reports to the Asst. SecNav for Research, Development, and Acquisition - he doesn't report to the Pentagon, and they don't have much desire to solicit his thoughts on much of anything, often to their loss.

3) "Isn't this just submariners trying to protect their little ricebowls?": Well, to a degree. VADM Munns obviously does not want to lose sub force capability, as that makes his already hard job harder, nearing impossible. However, ADM Donald won't be significantly affected by NLON closing. He will have to relocate his field office, but they will still be employed. On a larger scale, if the sub fleet keeps cutting back, his engineers will have less to do, but they are not truly threatened yet. So it can be deduced that he is doing this because he feels it is his duty to speak up as the Navy's highest ranking submariner - most (08)'s have felt this way. RDML Butler is an ED (Engineering Duty) officer, not a career submariner. Add to that that he is due to retire in a few months. He has nothing left to protect, and nothing to lose by speaking up. He is in the enviable position of being able to be completely honest without having to worry about the consequences.

Now, onto a summary of what was said:
Mostly, the ADMs concentrated on how many subs we need for future tasking. Their points all hit on this central theme from slightly different angles.

VADM Munns, unsuprisingly, discussed how the number of submarines in the fleet was affecting our ability to meet operational tasking, getting right to the core of the BRAC debate, military value. Specifically, the VADM said that currently, "the combatant commanders deployment requests for daily submarine operations is in excess of what can be provided." So, -now-, with 54 boats, we cannot do everything they want us to do. Yet the sub fleet will be cut back further?
ADM Donald focused on preserving the industrial base necessary to build subs - because, even if we cut back the fleet, we still plan on building some, and the need for more -will- come at some time. The ADM revelealed that:

In 1992, the Navy began a series of studies to identify what is required to preserve the nuclear-powered submarine industrial base.
"All three studies supported the conclusion that low-rate production would be the minimum necessary to sustain the industry and that a construction hiatus created excessive risk of permanently losing the ability to produce affordable, quality submarines," said Donald.
He added that low submarine production actually increases program costs, which runs counter to the Navy's commitment to contain those costs.

This last point is, at first blush, hard to comprehend. The more subs we buy, the cheaper they are - yes, it is kinda like going to the Sam's Club. But as the Navy keeps cutting subs from the plan, they keep getting more expensive to build, which in turn makes them a more attractive target for cuts. It is a vicious cycle that the ADM is trying to help break. The ADM had some hard figures to back this claim up, adding, "We would save about $70 million per year on Virginia reactor plant components just in overhead if we were buying two shipsets instead of just one." And for those of you who might think he is just SWAG'ing that number, well, you must not know too much about NR. They save the swags for RADCON.

RDML Butler commented on why each time we cut back on the number of planned boat constructions, the cost from the shipyards goes up:

"We pay the shipyards $18 million per ship just to get
them to reinvest inbuilding more ships," Butler said. "Since 1995, the start
date for a two-per-year Virginia-class submarine build rate has changed seven
times. Eachtime a dates moves...we lose credibility with suppliers whose
business consistslargely of Navy orders"

We are slowly, inexorably, driving shipyards out of the sub building business. There are only 2 left, and they are right on the hairy edge of going out of business. While retraining engineers is doable, recertifying a shipyard as SUBSAFE and nuclear certified is -HARD-. We cannot afford to lose anymore sub builders, and yet, we keep doing our best to kill them.

So, the ADMs made a good case for the sub fleet, and, in so doing, a good case for New London. This focused less on immediate Military Value, which I still think needs to be hammered home, and more on future sub fleet sustainability. It was, however, a series of very good defenses. Here is hoping that someone heard them...

Read the Full Post

15 June 2005

Boomer Sailors

As an avowed attack-boat bubba, I have often been accused of being overly disparaging towards the bubbleheads who went to sea on SSBN's, aka Boomer Fa... Fairi... err, Weenies. So, in the spirit of brotherhood, I present the latest publicity I saw regarding our boomer brothers.

So says the Civvie

Wow, and I thought -I- had trouble adjusting to not wearing a uniform anymore (*grumble* stop swearing so much it scares people in the office *grumble). This guy takes it several steps further.

Everything Old is New Again

A few weeks ago, Vigilis discussed on Ultraquiet no More some other 'Out of the Box' ideas for combatting strategic threats. Just to prove that old combat platforms never go away, they just get changes around a little, I present the Rapid Aerostat Deployment System. Blimps are back, baby, and they are gunning for insurgents!

Connecticut gets cagey

Apparently, back in 1994 (probably as a post-1993 BRAC CYA action), Connecticut struck a deal with the federales concerning clean up standards should the NLON SUBASE be closed. As the CT Attorney General says, the aggreement

means DOD "can't leave it, or sell it or contain it; they have to clean it,"

One might say that the Navy had already planned to clean up the base, right? As the Article states:

The Navy has pledged $23.9 million toward making the base clean enough for industrial uses once it is closed.

However, the aggreement with CT requires the base to be cleaned up to residential, not industrial standards. Now, the CT AG is asking the CT Senators to "subpoena certain documents that prove the U.S. Navy knew it underestimated the cost of closing the Groton base." Ok, that sounds a little batty to me. I think it is much more likely the Navy just forgot that such an agreement existed, not deliberately ignored it. Honestly, they were doing a rather rush job, and how many other bases have ever signed an agreement like that with the Navy? That's right, none, as the agreement "is unique to the sub base." So, I think it is much more likely it was overlooked. Either way, though, things are looking up for NLON, even if this isn't the way I wanted them to save the base.

(H/T to Bubblehead)

14 June 2005

I am back, sort of

Ok, so my travels last week were fun beyond belief.

Currently all caught up in a suprise (to me at least) visit to our fine facility by one of our sponsors, so today and tomorrow I will be babysitting, so blogging will be light.

I swear original content will return shortly, however, until then I will continue to snark at other folks' posts at Ultraquiet No More, such as I did here and here.

07 June 2005

I love being a civilian

Or more appropriately, I love *not* being stationed in D.C.

Just got my travel orders for a trip this week (yeah, off I go Wed-Fri, ugh). The travel office was polite, friendly, and helpful. This is so different from the Navy Yard travel office that I can not ever fully explain. But let's just say I am positive that this travel office will not cancel any travel orders while I am currently -on- travel. Nothing like showing up to the airport for your return flight and finding out your ticket has been cancelled.

And that, friends, is reason #58 I am glad I moved, and that I Hate DC, for it scares me.

Oh yeah, in case you didn't figure it out, I really don't miss the DC Metro

Lessons Learned

Notes to any who might be visiting a Navy base anytime soon:
1) Speeding on base is stupid. Base cops love flexing what little power they have.
2) Passing people on a two lane road while speeding on base is even dumber.
3) Passing a whole -line- of people on a two lane road while speeding on base is almost the height of stupidity.
4) Passing a whole line of people, including a truck that is waving a red flag, with a flashing light, to indicate it is carrying live munitions, on a two lane road while speeding on base IS the height of stupidity.

And no, before you ask, it wasn't me. I was two cars back from the ammo truck, and one car in front of the cop, who very quickly passed me to ruin some idiot's day...

06 June 2005


Is there anything better than relaxing outside in the shade as your kids play in a sprinkler? Anyone? Nope, didn't think so.

Who's the senior service?

We are the senior service. At least, our Secretary is, when Rummy is out of town.... Take that, Army! =)

03 June 2005

LCS Update

Apparently, I was too caught up writing the last post to notice the press release on the keel-laying of the first LCS. I knew it happenned, but this post from Rontini brings up some points I did not know. Such as:

The CNO wants 75-100 of these things?!? And they are going to have to cut back a whole stack of other programs to afford it. Good call, since it is such a proven system. Oh wait, they couldn't even make up their mind what hull shape to use, so they are starting off with 2!

A quote from the article: Clark said the LCS will be a safe ship for sailors, even if it is hit by enemy fire, despite the ship being built to commercial-ship standards instead of military specifications. "Mil spec drove costs up, and didn't make it better for the sailor," Clark said. But building LCSs with lower-cost construction designs will be "good for the taxpayers and good for the sailor," he said. Because the LCSs are to be high-speed, stealthy ships, they are intended to avoid enemy fire in the first place.

Why didn't we think of this before! Just don't.get.hit. Then you will be fine! Great plan. An all aluminum hull. Should stand up well in the littorals, where shore guns can reach...

Another quote: "We will have those discussions" with the two companies on cutting costs of those classes of ships, but not on the LCS, Young said. And Lockheed Martin agrees with that."
So let's cut ships that are much further along for the power-point only ship. Of course Lockheed agrees! They don't get nearly as much money from the VA-class as they stand to gain from the LCS!

Oh, and while it has been suggested to go slow at the beginning of the program, Lockheed "said that wouldn't be necessary, because a great deal will be learned just in construction of the first LCSs." Because, you know, testing a system never reveals anything new! Gah!

I am not sure what the source article is, and have not time to find it, sorry... If anyone wants it, let me know and I will track it down.

US Sub Force Drawdown

Ok, I started this post because of an article I went to via The Sub Report that starts out discussing the proposed closing of New London. While some of Mr. Devenny’s points are a little off (the Pacific via the polar ice cap route argument again), many of them are spot on, and deserve a quick run-down. Specifically, he highlights how the NLON closing is simply a symptom of the general sub force drawdown.

The submarine fleet is a frequent Washington whipping boy, forced to give up more and more of its funding to pay for other Pentagon projects. These funding cuts have begun to seriously limit the future viability of the overall nuclear submarine program, with current expenditures only allowing for the construction of one boat per year. This paltry allowance would serve to cut the total force from the current 54 boat flotilla to a ridiculously insufficient 28 boats over the next two decades.

This, despite the fact that the Pentagon has reported that studies indicate that 45-50 boats at a minimum are needed for future submarine tasking.

Now, why should the sub drawdown be of concern? Devenny goes into detail about China’s buildup, but that is only one piece of the puzzle. Let’s look at the rest of the world’s sub fleets, and what this might portend for the US fleet:

China and Russia: These are still the big boys on the block that we might have to deal with. A really good snapshot of what China is doing can be found here in the June 1st entry. If you bother reading the entry for June 3rd, I will say I disagree with the assessment that “China already faced long odds in a conflict over Taiwan.” Apparently, they have been looking at different war-gaming scenarios than the folks I know and trust. But the long and the short of it is, China is building up, not only will she soon have 8 top-of-the-line Russian Kilo’s, but she is buying any and all Russian hardware she can get her hands on. And she is looking to new, non-traditional sources for new military technology as well.
And lest you think the Russians are simply in the weapons business to sell them for cash to others, let’s remember that she is developing some potentially scary new weapons systems for herself as well.

The Rest of the World: Guess what? The rest of the world loves buying subs, too. It is like a status symbol of a maturing military. And some of these guys have really good fleets, and large, too. Here is a quick, incomplete rundown, derived from Global Security, The Global Defence Review, and a Canadian report detailing their need for a better sub fleet. Too late I started double-checking via Jane’s. Only the latter half of the list has been cross-referenced with their info.
Very basically, the number of countries that have subs is staggering:
Iran (Kilo’s from Russia, getting good at using them, too)
Romania (Kilo)
Poland (Kilo and Foxtrot and 5 five Kobben Class from Norway – quite modern)
India (Lots, including 10 Kilo’s, Scorpenes from France, SSGN Charlie class from Russia, at least 2 Akulas! And she is looking to start building her own SSNs, too. Bringing her sub fleet up towards 20 boats)
Algeria (2 Kilos – plenty to choke the Straits of Gibraltar)
Argentina (2 TR 1700s from Norway, 1 209 from Germany, 1 other ??)
Peru (6 209’s, looking to buy some Kilos. They have operated with US forces, and did very well. Very well.)
Columbia (Ok, their 2 sub fleet is mostly inoperable and a little laughable)
Venezuela (2 209’s, recently updated)
Ecuador (2 209’s, only one operable at the moment; Gal class?)
Indonesia (6 206’s, purchasing 2 Korean made subs , 2 209s, 1 of which was upgraded by Daewoo, yes Daewoo in 2004. Looking to expand to 12 subs total)
Chile (2 209’s, 2 Scorpenes <2>, Oberons?)
Brazil (2 Oberons, 4 209’s, building her own SSK 209-variant (AIP?) as a building block to building her own SSN class, which has already begun)
South Korea (9 209’s, 3 214 AIPs on order, will be home-built with German made parts. Developing her own SSX program. A slew of midget subs)
North Korea (Slew of midget subs)
Turkey (6 209/Type 1400, 6 209/Type 1200, building 4 AIP 209’s, 2 of which are already delivered)
Greece (4 214’s under construction, 1st to be delivered this year, 4 recently modernized 209s, 3 other 209’s to be updated to AIP)
Israel (3 Dolphins, planning on 2 more that will be AIP, 3 Gal class, recently updated and returned to fleet use)
Pakistan (1 new Agosta, 2 more being built All will eventually be AIP, and more planned on being built in Pakistan. 4 Daphne class, currently being refitted, couple of midgets)
Singapore (5 Swedish Sjoormen class, 4 operable, one a spare parts boat)
South Africa (Daphnes – recalled from service. 3 209’s under construction)

It could be said that the Sub fleet is used to doing more with less, as we have always been considered the red-headed stepchild of the regular Navy. Some might even point to WWII as an example of how the sub fleet can make do despite the odds, when submarines sank 55 percent of all Japanese ships lost in the war, more than the U.S. surface navy, its carrier planes, and the Army Air Corps combined. They did it with too-quickly made and poorly tested torpedoes and starting with only 51 boats in the Pacific (319 were eventually in-service). While all this is true, and beyond admirable, we should not ever put what has proven to be one of our most effective services in that position again. And yet, with submarines more prevalent in the world than ever before, and the tasking subs receive more variegated than ever, we are starting a massive drawdown.

Now, I understand that there is a severe budget crunch going on, and asking for more money borders on insane. However, there are developmental programs currently receiving money to accomplish missions that would be better accomplished by spending money to improve the Sub Force we currently have. I will make my first example the Tango Bravo, a submarine project, so that there are no claims of bias. While $21 million isn’t a huge number in terms of big Navy budget, it could still be better spent elsewhere, and only points to more money being poured towards this project in the out-years. Another project is the Power-Point engineered LCS (Littoral Combat Ship, or Little Crappy Ship to some). While this is billed as a multi-mission, inexpensive ship, the truth is it will not be all that multi-mission, and it has serious drawbacks, yet money is being thrown at it because it is new and cool. It is meant to be geared towards Mine Warfare (subs can do it, but more development is needed in ARCI to do it really well, PUMA does it quite well also), ASW (no one does it better than subs), ASUW (again, subs are great at this), and small surface craft warfare (plenty of other platforms can do this). This is a project that has not yet proven itself, yet it has a robust funding line. Redistribute it towards proven platforms. Lastly, the DDX is still on the drawing board, and its value can be seriously questioned. Stealth and land-attack with Tomahawks? Yeah, subs do that really well already. Ok, it will have a cool new gun system. Develop that separately then. Please do not think these are ideas I came up with out of the blue, they have already been bandied about, including by the Congressional Budget Office. Canceling the LCS and DDX could save up to $1.6 billion! Now, what would I like to see that money spent on instead? For starters, we should not be cutting back the VA-class. Here is a boat that incorporates COTS equipment to ensure constant technologic superiority, a design made for the littorals (the Navy’s new battlespace), and the quieting and propulsion improvements of the SEAWOLF. Its lead boat is starting final testing now, but already we are talking about cutting this class back? Additionally, the Navy wants a more integrated battlespace, and the claim is subs do not play well with others, hence surface ships should do the job. Then spend the money on at-depth communications for subs. It is cheaper, and we already have the beginnings of these systems. For example, ACOMMS shows a lot of promise. Yes, it has drawbacks, but it is relatively inexpensive, and put some more money towards it and I bet it will only improve. Lastly, and non-sub related, the ADS (Advanced Deployable System) program should be expanded. It is basically a portable SOSUS array, that, if some effort was put towards it, could communicate real-time with surface and sub forces, for those times when you just can not get a sub there in time, at least you will have a good ASW detection capability.

However, the sub fleet is currently sorely lacking a voice in the inner halls of the Pentagon, so none of these suggestions will probably ever gain steam. I would like to say the sub fleet is at a crossroads, but that sounds far too dramatic. It is probably better described as the beginning of a long, slow downward slope. Yet no one seems to notice just how bad it looks when the sub fleet can not even support the surface guys for training, and they have to look elsewhere. I only hope we can reverse the trend before it bites us.

If you are unfamiliar with any of the aforementioned systems, and would like some clarification, just let me know! And yes, I know Willy, I still owe you my thoughts on the VA-class ;-)

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Gitmo update

Kat over at The Middle Ground has put together an I highly recommend checking it out. She goes into great depth, and bases her conclusions on a lot of legit references. A good, clear look at what we know for sure about Gitmo.

02 June 2005

Sub Blog!

Alrighty! A new Sub-Blog has been organized by Bubblehead Joel of 'The Stupid Shall Be Punished', so I will be posting all my sub-stuff there. I will keep posting BRAC stuff here for now, as well as other random items. Please feel free to click on the post title and visit 'Ultraquiet No More'!

Sub SONAR and the Environment

I am not going to try and make a case that submarines are environmentally friendly. As one of the left-leaning members of my old wardroom once said, “It is hard to feel like an environmentalist when you pump aft bilge to sea.” However, some of the claims aimed at subs by enviro-folks are just downright silly. The NRDC is making noise again about Naval SONAR, and when they talk about it, they include -all- SONAR, including subs.

The NRDC states that, “The Navy's mid-frequency, active sonar systems generate sound of extreme intensity to locate objects in the ocean. Marine mammals have extraordinarily sensitive hearing, and there is no scientific dispute that intense sonar blasts can disturb, injure, and even kill them, according to NRDC.

Actually, they are confused. The SONAR that has been proven to be truly dangerous is Low Freq, such as is used on SURTASS ships. Mid Freq, such as what is used on surface cans and subs, has more mixed results. At the powers subs use it at, well, we have all seen dolphins jumping in front of our bow, I am sure. I have seen them do it while going active for reduced vis. Our power range is not harmful, as we have shown in numerous Environmental Analyses that we are required to conduct prior to any SONAR testing.

The NRDC’s Michael Jasny, a senior policy consultant (so how much does he know about SONAR in particular, I don’t know) states, “Whales exposed to high-intensity sonar have been found bleeding from the eyes and ears, with lesions the size of golf balls in their organ tissue.

Sad, and true – but these were LFA (Low Freq. Active) cases. In general, the Navy sticks to MFA (Mid Freq. Active).

Now, the general thrust of this new push by the NRDC is to get documents from The National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Department of Commerce. They are asking for “thousands of pages of documents.” How well funded is the Fisheries Service? Not well, I am thinking. Have they managed to finish all their documentation, much less collate it all for the NRDC? They are probably rather manpower limited. But no, it is a coverup. *sigh*

"I'm Sorry" is one thing

I will never claim to be a legal or civil rights expert. However, I will say that this article piqued my interest. The long and the short of it is: Two of the companies that eventually got folded into the Wachovia bank owned slaves, back in the days when it was legal to do so. Wachovia, per Chicago, Richmond (VA), Philly, and LA law, issued a formal apology to "all Americans, and especially to African-Americans and people of African descent," for this fact.

So, I am not sure just what good is served by this. Did they track down the descendants of the 691 some slaves that their predecessors owned and apologize, or try to make some kind of reparations? No. Should they have even had to? The bank known as Wachovia has very little resemblence to the Georgia Railroad and the Bank of Charleston. Have they profited from the (legal) sins of their predecessors? Not likely. And yet they had to hire a company to research their history to be in compliance with these laws. Ok, there are some arguements that could be made that this is a small expense for a large company, it might actually generate good PR for them, so the money might not be a total loss for them.

Oh, but wait. The City of Berkeley, Calif., has decided to nullify city contracts with companies that do not "acknowledge past practices that aided slavery." Not just owned slaves, but "aided slavery." What exactly does that mean? How are companies going to determine if they did that?

As a final thought, how many cities force companies to apologize for their part in the Japanese Internment, or for posting NINA ads?

And yet, we don't hate them. . .

. . . like they hate us, at least.

CDR Salamander has a good post regarding how innocent westerners get treated in Muslim countries. Betcha heard all about it on CNN, though, right? Oh no? Newsweek then? Nope, not there either. It does dovetail on something I posted a while ago, though. It will be interesting to see if this gets -ANY- attention, and what, if any, action the Bangladeshi authorities take.