30 September 2005

The Coaches on ND vs. Purdue

And now, a word with our past coaches concerning the upcoming Purdue game!

Holtz:  Oooh, this is going to be a tough game.  Purdue is coming off of a tough double overtime loss.  They are under-rated and angry.  Our only hope is that they do not stuff our run and that we can get good passing down the middle.  But they will be tough, and they are primed for us.  Always strong against us recently, yes they are.  Of course, I was 11-0 against Purdue, but that was then…

Davie:  D@m^1t!!  Why did I hire their loser head coach as my Offensive coordinator?  He could never win at Purdue, why did I think he could win with ND?  F#&k!  I was only 3-2 against them, and I had their whole playbook sitting in the skybox!  Dang they are good.

Willingham:  Hmph.  It will be a good, clean game.  I am just honored to have played such a respectable team.  I am less honored to have gotten whupped on by them 2 out of the 3 times I played them.  Hopefully they will do what my Huskies couldn’t.  Oh, I mean, I hope it is a good game all around.


Hmm, a little bitterness from some of our coaches there.  Here’s hoping for a good game!  7:45 Eastern time on ESPN.

Updates on International Sub Fleets

Singapore:  Looking to add two Vastergotland-class subs to its fleet (unsure if they will be of the Södermanland variant or not – none of which should be confused with the Gotland-class.  Head hurt yet?)

Taiwan:  Balking at the Sub purchase deal with the US.  I can’t say that I blame them – the plan is to purchase German (I believe) designs, and have the US build them for Taiwan.  With all those different potential transactions, the price has skyrocketed.  However, no other country in the world seems likely to build subs for Taiwan, so, even though the US doesn’t currently build diesels, it is America or not at all for Taiwan.

Russia:  Don’t be fooled, the Russian bear isn’t toothless yet.  She has built and (finally) successfully tested a new Ballistic Missile for her sub fleet.  That, coupled with her new boomer class in development, keeps her firmly in the #2 spot for underwater power projection.

29 September 2005


No, Batman, noooooooooooooooooo!
(WARNING:  Do not read the above pages if you are drinking anything, for the sake of your monitor and keyboard)

28 September 2005

Breaking Down Ignorant Submarine Claims

Bubblehead has pointed me towards a ridiculous critique of the US Navy’s submarine plans. I break it down in the Full Post. Careful, it is long.

The Navy's Fish Story
(Alternately titled The Great Submarine Hoax on another site he posted it to.)

His story is in italics. My breakdown follows it piece by piece.

-In two world wars of the last Century, the submarine has received the reputation of a fearsome weapon of war. During these global conflicts, the undersea boats almost changed the outcome until adequate countermeasures were developed to overcome the threat.

History Lesson: Subs did more than *almost* change the outcome of WWI and WWII. Ever hear of the Lusitania? The US entering WWI certainly changed the outcome.
As for WWII, how about Churchill’s quote that, “The only thing that ever frightened me during the war was the U-Boat peril."
On the allied side, how about ADM Nimitz? “When I assumed command of the Pacific Fleet on 31 December 1941 our submarines were already operating against the enemy, the only units of the Fleet that could come to grips with the Japanese for months to come. It was to the Submarine force that I looked to carry the load until our great industrial activity could produce the weapons we so sorely needed to carry the war to the enemy. It is to the everlasting honor and glory of our submarine personnel that they never failed us in our days of great peril."
Or, if you’d like hard numbers, submarines accounted for 4.9 million tons (60%) of Japanese Merchant Marine losses during WWII. Additionally, U.S. submarines sank 700,000 tons of naval ships (about 30% of the total lost) including 8 aircraft carriers, 1 battleship and 11 cruisers, all from a force that only comprised 1.6% of the Navy (info from here, an easily found site with lots of good facts).

-Though modern attack subs are armed with superior weapons and better tracking equipment, its principal foes remain aircraft and surface ships. The problem is submarines lack the long-range weapons with which it can sink another sub, depending instead on its torpedoes and the short-range anti-sub rocket. In contrast, surface vessels now regularly deploy aircraft of its own, in the form of helicopters which can range out 100 miles or more.

It is too bad there isn’t an engagement in recent history with modern equipment that can provide examples here. Oh wait, there is. Let’s review the Falklands War, shall we?
I will not delve into the sinking of the General Belgrano. The significance of this should be obvious. Instead, let’s look at what the small, obsolete Argentine subs accomplished. At first glance, it appears to be “not much.” However, let’s look a little more closely. Yes, the Brits sank the Sante Fe. However, she was an old Guppy class sub, essentially WWII technology, that the US had unloaded on Argentina. Yet, she still managed to freeze the British fleet at least temporarily:
On 23 April submarine alarm was raised among the British and all operations were stopped, whilst the "Tidespring" headed back to sea in order to avoid to be attacked.

The following day the old sub was damaged to the point of abandonment, while on the surface. That left the Argentines with two subs, one another old Guppy, and a type 209, a more modern diesel, but still, not state of the art. And yet, the Argentinean sub threat was still significant:
One Argentine submarine, the SAN LUIS, operated in the main areas of the British task force during a 36-day patrol. Because the fire-control panel for its main torpedo malfunctioned, the SAN LUIS fired all of its torpedoes on
incorrect bearings. Very obviously, Britain's ineffective ASW operations could have led to major, even prohibitive, setbacks for the task force.

And yet, with only one real submerged threat, and an entire task force at their disposal, the Brits still could not rid themselves of the SAN LUIS:
Once the Argentine fleet returned to port, the surface ships had only to contend with submarine and air threats to the task force. They fired on many suspected submarine contacts but scored no hits.

In fact, their amphibious landings were carried out under threat because of this failure:
Woodward's carrier group succeeded in achieving only two of its three objectives. It did impose a reasonably effective blockade and did eliminate the threat of Argentina's naval forces. But in failing to eliminate the submarine threat and to gain air superiority, the carrier group failed to create the conditions necessary for a successful amphibious landing.

It was, in fact, luck and lack of Argentine funding of their sub program that kept the Brits from large losses from the SAN LUIS:
British anti-submarine warfare (ASW) systems failed to defeat the Argentine submarine threat. Probably only a faulty torpedo-firing mechanism on the SAN LUIS denied the Argentines the opportunity to inflict serious damage to British shipping.

So, surface ships with longer range aircraft can be shown to be not that effective against even older submarines. Other submarines, however, while they do have less range than an aircraft, do not suffer from many of their drawbacks. The primary difference is due to the biggest drawback of aircraft and surface ships when conducting ASW. These platforms cannot reliably and quickly place sensors in the same depth stratum as an opposing submarine. In the complicated ocean environment, this can make one essentially blind due to the bending of sound through different ocean layers. Additionally, surface ships and aircraft do not have a quick way of judging the ocean environment, while subs have buoys that do this, and more importantly, they can measure it themselves with their organic sensors. In this way, they know exactly what kind of environment they are in, and how to position their sensors to best take advantage of the ocean layers. As opposing submarines have the same range drawbacks as prosecuting submarines, they will often position themselves near chokepoints to ensure close contact with surface contacts. Knowing this, the prosecuting submarine can be positioned in the same area, thus obviating the range drawback on which the author has hinged his argument.

-In terms of speed, diving depth, and range, this is a true statement. Other than diving however, these are all abilities desirable in surface ships and not necessarily in a submarine. Primary tactics for undersea warfare has changed little since the world wars: “hide and seek” followed by “hit and run”.

“Hit and Run,” and yet, speed and range are not important? When I am running from an attack, I would like to be in the fastest platform possible, with the best range.

-Constantly in naval maneuvers were hear in the media of slow and silent diesel powered vessels besting the large and noisy nuclear subs. This great asset of the modern attack sub, nuclear propulsion, may be its fatal flaw. The large size required to fit noisy turbines make it vulnerable to countermeasures. A conventional sub cruising on electric batteries is still the quietest warship at sea, making it also the deadliest.

And you trust the media accounts. How cute. I will grant that diesels are quiet. However, what makes you think that 1) nuclear subs are noisy, and 2) it is the nuclear plant that causes this? Additionally, saying that a sub’s large size makes it vulnerable to countermeasures is just nonsensical. There are many effective ways for a nuclear powered boat to prosecute a diesel, some which take advantage of speed, despite your belief that speed is not important, some which take advantage of an SSN’s endurance, and some of which are straight head-to-head. And yes, an SSN can and has prevailed head-to-head against diesels. In realistic maneuvers, this happens far more often than the converse.

-So what can a submarine do? Naval leaders often fail to promote the attack boats’ greatest advantage, the sinking of surface ships. During the war with Japan in the Pacific, submarines sank more enemy vessels than all other US weapons combined, including destroyers and aircraft. In the one true naval conflict of the Cold War, off the Falklands Islands, the submarine again confirmed this ability. After the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano was sunk by the British nuclear sub HMS Conqueror, the entire enemy fleet including its lone aircraft carrier, fled to port never to venture forth again. Throughout the Cold War, submariners often boasted of sailing undetected under the mighty aircraft carrier task forces of the US Fleet.

Ahhh, you did get to the Falklands. In the most superficial way, but at least you mentioned it. However, to answer your question more thoroughly, submarines can:
-Conduct long-term, close-in ISR.
-Insert SOCOM forces in the most covert way available.
-Conduct devastating land attack with as little warning as the US government cares to give the unlucky target country.
-Conduct covert mine operations, rendering any port in the world effectively useless.
-Maritime Intercept cueing.
Oh, and of course:
-Conduct ASW operations in any and all environments
-Conduct SUW attacks against any ship in the ocean.

-Armed with long range supersonic cruise missiles, the submarine now poses a threat which lawmakers in Washington claim “there is no defense”.

Ahhh, you brought up land attack. But again, in only a superficial, and in this case, factually incorrect way. First, the factual error: The Tomahawk missile, the submarine’s choice of weapon for land attack, is not supersonic. A simple web search could have revealed this. As for the doubting tone you take with the claim that there is no defense against this method of attack, let us again review history. In the Persian Gulf War, Clinton’s Iraq strikes, the 1998 strikes in Afghanistan and the Sudan, and Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom tomahawks have been used. How many have been stopped by their targets? None. Out of over 1200 fired, and there have been no major problems with weapon effectiveness. I would say that the Washington claim is fairly well justified.

-With some 400 diesel subs estimated in the world, and modern nuclear craft approaching $3 billion each, it is doubtful the handful which can be afforded will be much of a deterrent against possible aggressors. Hopefully the Navy will admit the submarine’s proper role in naval warfare and build smaller, less expensive vessels which can be produced in the numbers needed.

The handful currently stands at over 70 submarines. Whether that number will be reduced remains to be seen. However, with the advent of the SSGN, one submarine will now carry enough firepower to completely devastate the infrastructure of a country, so smaller numbers are not really a good measure. Additionally, Virginia, Seawolf, and yes, the now-venerable 688’s all still have the capability to render another country’s surface and subsurface forces ineffectual, even if there are fewer of them at the scene of hostilities as compared to their opposition. One must keep in mind the combat effectiveness in these cases. As for building smaller, less expensive subs, I will agree they have their place. However, long range power projection is not one of them, and that is the arena in which the US Navy plays. Without a friendly port or submarine tender, diesels are severely handicapped away from their home shores. Nuclear powered submarines have no such restriction. This is why the US Navy does, and will continue to, build these ships rather than conventionally powered submarines.

As a note about the author:
Mike Burleson is a regular columnist with Sea Classics magazine and an advocate of Military Reform. He resides in historic Charleston, SC.
If one bothers to look him up via Google, you will find that he describes himself thusly:
A high school graduate, I am presently working for the Charleston County Library as an Assistant Librarian. I have a life long interest in history, and the military. I have my own website dedicated to my home of Charleston SC and to naval history, I belong to several online clubs dedicated to history and war, and I write for my own group, Military Reform Now! at yahoogroups.com.
So his qualifications for writing this article, and his breadth of experience in these matters is, well, sparse to say the least. I haven’t bothered wasting my time reading any of his other material, but if you want to check him out, he does have his own blog, as well. I will not link to it here, look it up if you are interested. I do not feel like directing any more traffic his way.

Read the Full Post

27 September 2005

Stupid Nuke Tricks

A recent post by Bubblehead sent me into reverie land about all the stupid things nukes do to pass the weary hours in the engine room. So, I thought I’d put up some of my favorites, and see if anyone had others they would care to share. All hearsay, of course, as no one here would actually ever disturb plant operations.

My stroll down memory lane focused mostly on materiel pranks and stunts, like the tree of lights mentioned in the linked post. People doing things to other people, well, there are a lot of those kinds of stories. What about what we did to the -boat-? (And no, I am not referring to the San Juan, destroying equipment kind of acts).

Alarm light patterns were always a favorite of mine. Getting one half of the 2TM panel blinking out of phase with the other was always brain-aggravating (taking some to test, some to cutout)

Another fun one was using a laser-pointer to illuminate the 2TM light on the new microprocessor RPCP. It was an LED light, and the only one that did not set off an audible alarm, so if you hit it with the laser pointer just right, it looked like there was a 2TM alarm. Of course, if you do it with an RO who is standing his very first underway watch, you might very well end up with a closed surge line, but then, that is just knowing your watchstanders…

As one of Bubblehead’s commenters made mention of, writing on the back of label plates was a common pastime. Various label plates had various things behind them – such as SNOB dates, recording holidays spent underway, or, for our old boat, under the poly covering for the EOOW’s desk, the dates and one-line descriptions for each incident in the yards, and who got disqualified for them ;-) If you didn’t get DQ’d at least once by uptight NRRO monitors, you obviously weren't standing enough duty.

All the little hidey-holes behind panels were also a source of much amusement. Often reading material (strictly verboten) was stashed there, often of a risqué nature. This was also a fairly poorly-kept secret. So much so that when one of the squadron deputies was riding us (had to keep his sea-pay, don’t you know), he wandered back to Maneuvering, to our surprise, chatted up the EOOW for a few minutes, then turned, opened one of the more obviously available panels, took out the Penthouse, winked to the watchstanders, and went back forward. The most inventive place that we put this diversionary material, though, was the reactor compartment. Taped in such a location that you would see it only if you were doing a thorough bilge inspection, it was often how EDO’s caught under-instructions doing an incomplete closeout-
At the Decon station:
EDO: “So, what color was her hair?”
U/I: “Huh, whose?”
EDO: “Get back in there and do a proper close-out inspection!” [The answer: Brunette]
Of note: Our various Engineers over the years either never noticed, or never mentioned our training tool.

However, the coup de grace of material shenanigans had to be the disgruntled E-Div'er who, in a fit of anger directed at the entire goat locker, re-wired their MJ phone so that station 16 (answer) was the only station that operated as it was supposed to. However, if they tried to whoop Crew’s Mess, they got Maneuvering, if they tried to whoop the Wardroom, they got the aft of Control, and, worst of all, if they tried to whoop the BCP, they got the CO’s stateroom. It took them well over a week to figure that one out.

Ahhh, nukes. And the folks here wonder why I take such glee in carrying out similar attacks. It was in my training ;-)

Mocking: British Healthcare

The stupid, overly-sensitive restriction for today.

26 September 2005

Navy infected with LCS!

I knew the designation for the test bed for LCS-related technologies (HSV-2) made me uncomfortable for some reason.  Now I know why.

Venezuela's Submarine Ambitions

Venezuela is poised to upgrade her SSK fleet.  She is looking at German type 212/214’s, Scorpenes, or the new Russian Amurs.  All of these boats are very capable, and Venezuela seems to be planning on not only upgrading, but expanding from 2 to 3 boats.  I would post more, but Joel scooped me.

Funnies to Start the Week

- This one just seems wrong…

- Boy, I am glad I won’t be continuing with my Naval career.  Who really wants people bidding on their old underthings, honestly?  At least it isn’t his underway sock…

- Why does this never happen to me when I am on vacation?  I could bet I know how I’d react.

- The lesson here?  Don’t piss off the baby!

- Or the surfer!    

Sat. Recap and a Tear Jerker

It was a solid offensive performance, a spotty defensive performance, but a good game overall.  Coach Willingham obviously knew what our defensive weakness was (our secondary) and did his best to exploit it.  Coach Weis had some startling play calling that yielded surprising results, not the least of which was this call, for a reason I had not heard of until this morning.  It is nice to see that college sports can still be uplifting.

24 September 2005

The Coaches' Breakdown

@ Washington, 3:30 on ABC!

Once again, it is time to ask our past and present coaches what they think of ND's chances:

Holtz: Oooh it is gonna be tough. The Huskie have a good running attack. Their run defense is strong. They are coming off a big win, we are coming off a big loss. They could catch us flat. Oooooh. And of course, their coach knows almost all our starters and exactly what they ar capable of. They could suprise us. Of course, in my day, I beat them twice, in '95 and '96, and I didn't have much of a team by then. But those could have been flukes!

Davie: D@m^!t! I never got a chance to play them! I could have beaten them and not had so many losing seasons! Maybe. Of course, there is a 42% chance I just would have blown it. I was only 35-25 at ND. &*c#!!

Willingham: Revenge! REVENGE! Oh, ah, I mean, I am sure it will be a good, clean game on both sides of the ball. Yeah.

Weis: As we prepare...

22 September 2005

Odd Dolphin Death

Another sad and hard to explain dolphin death.  Of course, subs will get the blame – perhaps this time it will be, “Submarine SONAR stunned Flipper, allowing this tragedy to occur!”

19 September 2005

Interesting little test - apparently answering almost nothing strongly makes you liberal. Well, I suppose if you think about it...
Anyway, I can not recall who sent me this, so forgive me if I slight you, but here is a political leaning test, which I took just because none of my views are held en toto by either party. Apparently, however, I lean:


Apparently, this thinks I am a democrat. Not sure I agree there - I disagree with too many of their stances. However, given the options up there... Hmm, almost a centrist. I'll go with that, yeah.

Let's hear it for...

Who says all of Europe is anti-US?

Glad to see someone breaking down the stuff that spews out of Indymedia.  I just don’t have the energy for it anymore, glad the United Irelander does.

What is it with...

...Illinios Republican politicians named Ryan?

First it was a Senate candidate with a sexy wife.

Now it is not-so-sexy Governor.

And yes, I really just wanted to post a picture of Jeri Ryan. Yum.

Monday links

Quick links of note:

Hey, time has discovered this amazing thing, MilBlogs!  Wow, to get unbiased news from the front, you can actually… oh, wait, we knew that.  Where have they been?  Oh yeah, hiding in the green zone.  At least MaDeuce, Thunder6, Boots in Baghdad, etc. all get shout outs.

You know, I gave up my beloved truck, and now drive a fuel-efficient car because I have a long-ish commute.  My wife drives a mini-van because, well, we have a bunch of kids.  But at least we aren’t stupid enough to try and make a political statement about the cars we drive.  Hee.  

So, headed down south this week, through the weekend.  The wifey isn’t too happy, and I can not be sure what my connectivity will be.  So, tomorrow will be my last guaranteed posting day for about a week.  I better make it a good one…

17 September 2005

Next - Michigan State!

UPDATE (9/19):
Well, an exciting game, if not the outcome I wanted.  Notre Dame’s offense is exciting again, and that is a nice change.  Now if we only had a defense.  Ah well, when you are coached by an offensive coordinator, these things take time.  Makes the old coaches’ predictions look prescient, though:

Tomorrow is game day!  So, today is press day – but today, we get a special treat.  We get to hear what  not only our current coach, but also what recent ND coaches think of the ND’s chances against Michigan State as well:

Lou Holtz:  Oooh, it is going to be a tough game.  Michigan State is a really good team, underrated.  They are the second ranked offense in division I-A, they average 592 yards a game.  We haven’t beaten them at home since 1993, and that was the last time we were actually good.  Even I lost to them my first year.  Tough team, tough team.  Of course, I beat them 8 years in a row after that…

Bob Davie: F&%$!  I never beat that F&*ing team!  At home, away.  I don’t think I could have beaten them if we tied up their coach and half their defensive line!  G&* D*^#it!  But at least I still got my contract renewed.

Tyrone Willingham:  Well, respectfully, I did manage to beat them my first year of coaching.  It was a darn good year.  Of course, I lost to them the following year.  And even though I only had one losing season, barely, instead of two like someone I could name *cough* Davie *cough*, I never got my contract renewed.  In fact, I am the only coach at ND to ever get fired before my contract was up.  I am just saying.

Coach Weis:

Weeeelllll, ok, that wasn’t quite what we expected.  Hmmm, well, it’ll be a tough game, either way.  Now, time to get the grill ready and start soaking some bratwurst in beer!

UPDATE: Moved to the top for game day!    

16 September 2005

Terrorism can show up anywhere

For those of you who are not watching outside-US news sources, there has been another outbreak of violence, which led to a school being firebombed, policemen being fired upon, and injuries like this being sustained by the most innocent:

Where are these atrocious acts of violence being committed, you might ask? The Middle East, breakaway bits of Russia? Nope, in the UK.

Violence in Northern Ireland has re-erupted in the past week, and everyone’s favorite Euro-terrorism whipping-boy, the IRA, has *nothing to do with it*. The Loyalists, Oragenmen, prots, whatever you wish to call them, started the riots when their deliberately provocative march through Catholic neighborhoods was rerouted. So, of course, shooting at policemen and setting Ulster on fire seems like the appropriate response. But, not to worry, the cooler heads of the loyalists will prevail by, ahh, asking to re-run the march, and then, to help in the long-term calming, by holding a similar march on Christmas. In fact, two more marches aren’t enough, so, how about an Orangemen-organized protest, too? But at least they are apologizing for the current rioting, by saying things like, “I'm not condemning anything at this moment in time.” Because, this list requires no apologies:
-50 police injured
-Petrol bombs thrown
-Blast bombs thrown
-Pipe bombs thrown
-Shots fired at police

Thankfully, the nationalists are letting the authorities handle this, despite more than ample provocation. But keep in mind, the nationalists, who have stuck by their promise to remain peaceful, are the bad guys here.

Asia Pacific Submarine Conference

As Bubblehead pointed out in the aftermath of the AS-28 crisis, all submariners are brothers when it comes to fighting the sea, which is why we train together to aid a downed sub, no matter the nationality of the crew. From the Moscow Times (or Earlybird, if you are behind .mil firewalls):

Submarine rescue specialists said that well-cultivated working relationships made possible the international effort to save a Russian mini-sub and its seven-man crew last month.

Let’s hear it for Sorbet Royal! Now that the rescue is completed, one of the best practices of the Navy comes into play – stepping back and learning from what happened. And again, this was done with all, not just our allies.

50 rescue experts from 15 countries shared lessons from the early August mission to release a Russian mini-sub that had gotten caught in fishing net cables.

As we may or may not remember, the Brits got their first, and freed the sub. The US apparently had some logistical problems, although they were still pretty speedy, considering.

Commander Kent Van Horn, the head of the 30-person U.S. crew sent to help, said he was studying ways to cut down on the time his team spent unloading equipment from its transport plane so it could reach accident sites more quickly.

Van Horn recounted how his crew gave the British some equipment at the airport on Kamchatka when they realized the British team would be able to get to the mini-sub first.

"It wasn't a competition between us," Van Horn said. "All that comes from the regular interaction with each other."

Training together might breed some competition during practice, but it also makes everyone work well together when the s%!t hits the fan.

On the “good news” front, or “duuuuh” front, depending on how jaded you are:

Russian Captain First Rank Anatoly Suvalov said his nation needed to strengthen its relations with other countries for submarine rescues.

But he also gave witness to the value the already existing cooperation has brought:

He added that personal ties among the Russian, British and American teams helped save his compatriots aboard the Priz.

The Brits added that the submarine brotherhood, as I said, extends to all bubbleheads:

"One might imagine that before very long the [Submarine Escape and Rescue] working group is opened up to North Korea and Iran. They operate submarines. If one was to sink, we'd offer to help them."

The best summary for these kinds of multinational meetings, though, are those that show results.

Overall, participants praised the global cooperation that saved the lives of the seven men aboard the AS-28 vessel called the Priz.

And in the end, that is all that mattered.

SubPac story on the same conference.

Those Crazy Kiwis


(h/t Dave Barry via PunditDrome)

14 September 2005

Bring it...

Abu Musab al-Zarqawi has apparently released yet another tape (bet it never cracks the Top 40) declaring that “Crusaders and Shiites share a common goal to wage war against Sunnis.

So, what, attacking hospitals, driving bombs through crowds of kids isn’t war?  If they plan on more forward action, bring it.  The more guys they hang out there to try and attack, the more tend to die.  This just will just speed up the extermination.

Although, I do love how they try and appear like good Muslims when they say, “they will be killed and his house will demolished or burnt - after evacuating all women and children – as a punishment.”  Because, you know, they have shown such consideration for kids before (see above).

The last bit, though, “the scandal of God’s enemy, (US President George W.) Bush in failing to deal with (Hurricane) Katrina,” sounds like something else I heard recently…

CNO in Groton

I am embarrassed to admit it, but, I completely missed the article concerning the CNO’s visit to Groton.  However, Bubblehead and Lubber’s Line both have posted their takes on it.  Check them out – he ranges over a wide variety of subjects, from women on submarines to ship construction rates.

13 September 2005


Greetings Castle Donovan visitors!

If you are looking for the post the Armorer referred to, it is here.

If you are looking for more TINS’s, here is one I posted on Ultraquiet No More, the submariners’ group blog.  Strange how many of my stories deal with the same subject.  We bubbleheads are a disturbing lot.

Chastity and the Priesthood

Archbishop O’Brien, the Archbishop for all military ministries, and the head of a Vatican directed evaluation of all U.S. seminaries, stated to the Catholic Register, yesterday that most gay candidates for the priesthood struggle to remain celibate and that the church must "stay on the safe side" by restricting their enrollment.

For info on the Catholic Church’s previous teachings on this subject, and whether or not this conflicts with the Church’s ministry, click on “Read the Full Post!” below.

In Aug, the Archbishop O’Brien says:
The American prelate overseeing a sweeping Vatican evaluation of every seminary in the United States said yesterday that most gay candidates for the priesthood struggle to remain celibate and that the church must "stay on the safe side" by restricting their enrollment.

O'Brien, who leads the Archdiocese for the Military Services in Washington, said that "there are some priests ... with same-sex attractions and they've done very well" remaining celibate.
"But generally speaking, in my experience, the pressures are strong in an all-male atmosphere," he said. "And if there have been past failings, the church really must stay on the safe side. ... The same-sex attractions have gotten us into some legal problems."
O'Brien had told the National Catholic Register, an independent newsweekly, that "anyone who has engaged in homosexual activity, or has strong homosexual inclinations, would be best not to apply to a seminary and not to be accepted into a seminary," even if they had been celibate for a decade or more. O'Brien told The Associated Press that the church is not "hounding" gays out of the priesthood but wants to enroll seminarians who can maintain their vows of celibacy. The church considers gay relationships "intrinsically disordered."

The debate over gays in the priesthood reached a crisis point last year when a study that the U.S. bishops commissioned from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice found that most of the alleged abuse victims since 1950 were adolescent boys.

The exact number of gay seminarians is not known. Estimates vary dramatically from one-quarter to more than half of all American priest candidates. However, several Catholic leaders say the gay presence is so large that heterosexual seminarians feel alienated and that many have dropped out over the years. Yet, even these leaders concede there is no easy way to enforce a ban on gay priest candidates, since many do not discover they are homosexual until after they enroll and others may hide their sexual orientation from seminary administrators.

So, what was Church doctrine regarding gays prior to this? You might be surprised, it has been largely misunderstood. However, the Church laid out its position on pastoral care to homosexuals in a letter from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to the Bishops of the Catholic Church, in 1986. Such letters are considered to be an explanation of Church doctrine, and are considered the Church’s formal stance on the subject of the letter. This particular letter was written by Cardinal Ratzinger, then the prefect of the Congregation, now known as Pope Benedict XVI.
This letter, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (Epistula de pastorali personarum homosexualium cura), October 1st, 1986), states in part:

Christians who are homosexual are called, as all of us are, to a chaste life. As they dedicate their lives to understanding the nature of God's personal call to them, they will be able to celebrate the Sacrament of Penance more faithfully and receive the Lord's grace so freely offered there in order to convert their lives more fully to his Way.

Today, the Church provides a badly needed context for the care of the human person when she refuses to consider the person as a "heterosexual" or a "homosexual" and insists that every person has a fundamental Identity: the creature of God, and by grace, his child and heir to eternal life.

It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs. It reveals a kind of disregard for others which endangers the most fundamental principles of a healthy society. The intrinsic dignity of each person must always be respected in word, in action and in law.

So, the Church does not consider a person “hetero” or “homo”. It merely regards the acts, and calls on all persons to be chaste. To help explain this wording, I referenced the Catholic apostolate called COURAGE. It “ministers to those with same-sex attractions and their loved ones” and has “been endorsed by the Pontifical Council for the Family,” and its website is published with Ecclesiastical permission. So, we can consider it to be a reliable and truthful explanation of Church doctrine.

First, people with homosexual attractions (even though the Church will not call anyone homosexual or heterosexual, I will, with no disrespect intended, call them “gay” from here on out for ease of reading) are called to lead a chaste life. So, what does the Church –mean- by Chastity?

Chastity is "the use of the sexual function has its true meaning and moral rightness only in true marriage"

So, Chastity is having sex only in the context of a marriage. And since the Church does not recognize marriage between any but a man and a woman, in order to be Chaste, gays must abstain. To expand on this, I turn back to the website:

First of all, no one is condemned or excluded by Catholic teaching or policy for homosexuality. And secondly, the Church is not singling out any one type of sexual sin. The Church says adultery, polygamy, and any other form of sexual activity outside the marriage of a man and a woman are all harmful and wrong.

So, all forms of “illicit” sex are right out, not just gay sex. And it is gay sex that is the sin, not being gay itself. Again, to the website:

The Church says it's not a sin to have such feelings, but it is an objective disorder, a problem.

The Church says it is a disorder because:
The same-sex feelings do not lead to strengthening the union between a man and woman nor to the procreation of a child therefore they are considered objectively disordered but not sinful in and of themselves.

So, it is basically down to the old adage of hate the sin, love the sinner. As the Congregation letter stated:
"It is deplorable that homosexual persons have been and are the object of violent malice in speech or in action. Such treatment deserves condemnation from the Church's pastors wherever it occurs."

The website expands on this:
Some people despise those who struggle with homosexual attractions. The Church condemns any expressions of that attitude, for instance: anti-gay or anti-lesbian jokes, verbal and physical attack, social exclusion, rejection of friends or family members, avoidance of the topic of homosexuality, and so on. That behavior is all very wrong. It's what the Church calls "a sin against charity." People with homosexual struggles face many challenges. They need love and encouragement, not mistreatment.

Since gays, in order to remain in communion with the Church, are required to be chaste, many see the priesthood as a natural avenue for pursuing their faith. After all, one of the biggest challenges of the priesthood is Chastity and Celibacy, which a gay person would have to practice anyway. Hence the perception is, many of our priests might be gay.

So, my questions are these:
First: Chastity is required of all who would enter the priesthood. This means no sex outside of marriage, be it fornication, adultery, or homosexual sex. Or masturbation, for that matter. All means of breaking this Chastity mentioned above are considered a grave problem, and makes one unsuitable for the priesthood. So why is the Archbishop focusing only on one? Why is he not suggesting we forbid those who had sex outside of marriage, period, from entering the seminary? Or those who simply had a struggle to remain chaste? To do otherwise would seem to violate notion that the Church condemns the exclusion of those who experience homosexual attraction, as indicated in the Pope’s own writings and stated explicitly by a Church-endorsed group.

Second: Why is the investigation into the child molestation problem focusing on possible gay priests? Is there some evidence that the majority of the offenders were gay? Because that does not jibe with evidence from other sources – most child molesters are, other than sickos, not gay. The research referenced through the link above has “failed to find a connection between homosexuality and child molestation.” Studies indicate that a “molester was a gay or lesbian adult in … fewer than 1%” of cases.

This seems to me to be simply a way to blame the Church’s problems on a sector of society it already marginalizes. It instead needs to focus on the real roots of the problem – how pedophiles do not get identified prior to beginning to minister to the Church, and how to remove them promptly once they are identified. Do not use this tragedy to push a separate agenda – it is disingenuous, and not befitting an institution of God.
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What is newsworthy?

Why does the MSM treat Islam like a spoiled child?  No, wait, do not get riled and call me a bigot yet.  Just hear me out for a moment.

When the Israelis build a wall to stop Muslim terrorists from crossing the border, it is heavy-handed and provocative.  When a Muslim country builds one, well, it is laudable, for they are trying to stop terrorism.

When the Israelis knock down buildings as they leave Gaza, it is sour grapes.  When they knock down the homes of terrorists, it causes international furor.  But when the Palestinians burn synagogues, they are simply celebrating.

Israel constantly faces criticism (not necessarily undeserved) for their treatment of the minority Muslims within their borders.  Yet the largest Muslim nation in the world allows militant to close places of worship of minorities within its border, and not a peep is heard in the MSM.

Frankly, it looks to me as if the MSM minimizes tales of discrimination or repression by Muslims.  Why?  Are they afraid it might cloud the issue, and we might forget that they are often portrayed as rightfully upset with all things western?  Do they think Muslims will not respond well to further criticism?  Frankly, if they acted that way towards my sector of society, I would be offended.  Don’t try and cover up for me because you think I can not handle criticism.

At what point do stories like these, and one I mentioned earlier, become newsworthy?

12 September 2005

Project Prometheus

Back when NASA still looked upwards in the hope of future exploration, rather than simply maintaining a useless space station and an aging fleet of space-taxis, errr, shuttles, it teamed with Naval Reactors in an effort to jointly develop power systems for long-term space exploration missions.  This effort was called Project Prometheus, and it involved using nuclear power for missions destined for outside the solar system.  It was a large, lofty goal, but that kind of ambition is what we should expect out of our only agency dedicated to exploring.  Who better to team with that Nuclear Reactors, the engineers who have been running the most successful and safe nuclear power program in the world?  Such a collaboration on such a project should have been uplifting.

Instead, it is apparently on its way to being cancelled.

And so, NASA will continue making itself irrelevant and uninspiring, and I will be glad I did not pursue the job I dreamed of in this program.  *sigh*  Audentes Fortunas Juvat indeed…

CAPT Heffron's Final Points

CAPT Heffron, the program manager for the VA-class acquisition office, just retired.  Upon his retirement, he gave an interview to the Daily Press.  Much of it concerned the business side of Navy acquisitions, if that interests you.  However, he made some great general points that I thought bore repeating.  So here they are:

Why we cannot stop building subs, and then simply start back up when the need arises:
Q:  What is Newport News' biggest performance issue?
A:  I'd say the biggest problem they've had is just the fact of their hiatus from submarine shipbuilding. Texas is the first submarine that they're delivering since the Cheyenne (completed in 1996). They've lost a lot of not only trade talent, but also management talent at the shipyards, so they've had to reconstitute both the trade base and that management base.

Thank goodness we didn’t close Groton, because EB stated they would draw down if we did:
Q: What about Electric Boat's performance? How have they done?
A: Remember that aside from construction, there was a design piece to this effort. We were very pleased with the quality of the (Electric Boat) design

The reasons we still need subs, in a nutshell:
This ship was designed with our eyes wide open that the Cold War was over…  But what's different is the capability inside the ship, operating in a littoral (coastal) environment in a stealthy way. We can deploy an entire team of Seals, all the individuals and also their supplies, you can get them off the ship quickly, they do their thing, and come back … If you want to shoot your guided missile from a surface ship or an airplane, people are going to know you're there. And unmanned aerial vehicles don't have the ability today to stay on station for months at a time. A submarine can be on station covertly for months at a time. Also UAVs aren't necessarily covert: If someone knows you're flying a UAV up there and looking for you, they can be looking for and curtail their work while the UAV is up there.

And the problem with convincing people of that:
It's a hard story to tell sometimes, because when you look at a submarine from the outside, one black tube looks like another black tube.

Thank you for the service, CAPT.  Fair Winds.

11 September 2005


10 September 2005

Well Enough...

Another away game, another ranked opponent loses to the Rising Irish :-)

As Coach Weis said, "The Defense played great, Special Teams played great, the Offense played well enough..." I'll take it. Now start working offensive magic, Coach, it's why we hired you ;-)

Why Guam?

For those of us who would rather stand watch in the bridge during a nor’easter (trust me, it is a blast!) than bake in the sun in the middle of the Pacific, the idea of getting stationed in Guam in terrifying.  But at least the Navy lays out pretty well why we need to be basing subs out there…

The Religion of Peace?

*Sigh* Religion of peace? Anyone? Anyone?

Just a thought – what kind of international outrage would there be if we tried to force Muslims from their lands? Or if the Israelis tried to do that? Oh wait, that happened, and there was outrage. But for Christians? Nothing.

Particularly appalling: “the torture and murder of two Christian girls in 2003 after they were deemed prostitutes. A post mortem examination reportedly proved they were virgins.

(h/t Captain’s Quarters – a better breakdown than I give, I am sure)

UPDATE: Ninme links to another article that gives more backstory and many more details.

09 September 2005

Possible Sub Entanglement

A new article in the NL Day details a possible, ahh, “interaction” between a fisherman and a sub. Bubblehead makes some fair points, the most important of which is, “I know it's been done before where a sub has pulled a fishing boat along without knowing they had someone hooked, but I don't think it's ever been done when there was another boat nearby to tell their "partner" where the surface traffic was.” There are, however, a few points I would like to make as well.

First, the fishing boat captain, Alan, claims, “his vessel suddenly came to a dead stop 95 miles southeast of the Town Dock.” That means here:

Alan “thought his net had snagged on the bottom,” a safe assumption – it happens. Then, his boat started to “shake violently.” This has convinced Alan “that his gear became entangled with one of the two U.S. submarines he had seen about two miles from the Neptune [his boat] shortly before the incident.

So let’s think about this. Two subs, in pretty open ocean, one on the surface, one at PD. If one of the subs was on the surface near him, guarantee the other sub, at PD, wasn’t all that close. That whole not bumping into another sub thing comes into play. Add to that the PAO of the SUBASE stated that “the submarines did not sustain any damage that prevented it from continuing its operations in the area. If a submarine had become entangled in the steel wire, it likely would have scraped or damaged its hull.

Alan goes on to state that, “he hailed the submarine over an international distress channel to determine whether the submarine had encountered his gear. Someone aboard the submarine told him it had not.” He also said “he tried to raise the other submarine on the radio but that it would not answer him. He said he heard the two submarines talking back and forth to each other on another channel.

Let’s think about that one, too. The other boat is at PD. She has limited bridge to bridge radio capabilities – so she talks to the other sub to clear up the situation. Duh, they speak the same language; of course he is going to talk to the other sub to get a surface picture. Nope, not being sneaky. Just can’t spare the attention for the fisherman who has no idea how to be formal and convey info clearly on the bridge to bridge.

Al “questioned why a submarine would be unfamiliar with the type of gear used by his boat and why it would fail to give it a wide berth.” Hmm, good point. Actually, with another boat on the surface, able to talk via Gertrude to the submerged boat, it is pretty much a guarantee that the submerged boat did steer clear. Thanks for making my point for me, Al.

Now, another fisherman states, “With all the sophisticated equipment these submarines have, it's hard to imagine they don't know there's a fishing boat above them, especially with all the noise it makes.” Ok, if a fisherman is underway, we might hear him, depending on the SVP. However, if he is drifting, nets out, as they are wont to do, what exactly do they think we are going to hear? Sheesh.

But nooooo, the Navy, and subs in particular, will only deceive, even though –they- know exactly what happened. Oh, and for good measure, they throw in the Philly collision, without bothering to mention that the Philly was most likely not at fault. Just to try and cast the fleet in a poor light. Nice to see that certain parts of CT are right back to Navy hating now that the BRAC threat has passed.

08 September 2005

Oh Carp, what a duty day!

It has been a while since I had a good long post, so I thought I’d make it interesting:

TINS* - And yet, it is all about, err, -it-:

It is a long one, so click on ‘Full Story’ to read it.

Before I launch into my tale, an explanation for non-submariners is in order. Submarines are often referred to as self-contained. This is not entirely true. While they do make their own power, and they do not need to go ashore for water and air, they have to interact with the ocean for many essentials. Water we distill from the ocean, obviously, and air we produce via electrolysis of water. We also discharge, among other things, air contaminates (carbon dioxide, hydrogen, ex…) and, ahhh, human waste. How we discharge this waste is the backbone of my story. At sea, there are two main ways of emptying our “sanitary” tanks (think sewage system). We can pump them to sea, which, while slow, can be done at any depth due to the strength of the pump, or we can use pressurized air to “blow” them to sea, which is much quicker, but is much more dependant on the backpressure of the sea due to depth, and noisier. In port it is much the same, except we have a hose connected to the boat that leads to some kind of sewage collection – the type of collection varies depending on the port.

So, on with my story.

This story arc takes place on my last few months on the good old USS Ustafish. I had been on board for three years, I was the longest qualified duty officer on board, and I knew my job cold. Duty should have been smooth sailing for me, right? That is what I thought. Foolish mortal. What really happened was the biggest string of bad luck and bad duty days that our boat had seen in years.

It was less than a month before our boat was set to deploy. Our sea/shore rotation was insane, and so, any time we were in port the CO tried to cut everyone loose. However, it also meant our in-port watchstanding was a little rusty. When we took the duty, we quickly realized that the duty section we had just relieved had left us with nearly full sanitary tanks. Apparently, they just didn’t want to bother with getting rid of the stuff. My Duty Chief (our A-Gang LPO) and I quickly realized that we would have to secure the heads until the sanitary tanks were emptied. Therefore, getting the tanks done was a priority. So, to expedite things, my section leader and duty chief requested that we blow tanks instead of pump them. We normally pumped in port, because it was easier, but, we had blown sans in port before, and, frankly, we wanted our heads back, so I gave the go-ahead. Now, in Groton, the san tanks are connected by hose to base sewage piping that runs underneath the piers. Spaced along that piping are relief valves, to prevent any gas accumulation from overpressurizing the pipes and bursting them. However, if you shoot pressurized waste into this sewage system at a sufficiently high pressure, sewage will reach the relief valves and cause them to lift open. One can tell this is happening when the manhole over the lifting relief valve is lifted 6-8 feet in the air by a geyser of poop. I know this, because, in his haste to empty our tanks, our intrepid on-coming belowdecks watch had, instead of slowly throttling air to the san tanks to blow them dry, and thrown the air valve full open, immediately pressurizing the san tanks to a much higher pressure than the sewage system could handle. In his defense, the operating procedure did indeed say to throttle the air “at sea” to 5 psi over sea pressure, to reduce noise, and didn’t say a thing about throttling in port. However, that did not make the environmental office any happier, nor most of my duty section, which had to assist in the cleanup.

Skip to four days later. I am back on duty (yup, four section, senior guy privileges) with the same duty section. After lunch, we decide we are going to be a responsible duty section, and empty our san tanks so that the next day’s duty section doesn’t inherit full tanks like we did last time. However, this time, we are going to pump – no lifting manhole covers for us this time, thankyouverymuch! So, very carefully, and with much deliberation, we line up to pump sans to the pier. We start pumping, and everything seems to be going along just fine. Then, right as we are finishing up the tanks, the pier guard calls down to the boat on his radio that the manhole cover is rattling ominously. We quickly secure our lineup – the tanks were mostly empty anyway, and do a quick review. We did everything right, but we don’t know why the manhole rattled – but the good news is it did not jump into the air, so no cleanup. Skip to a few hours later. My section leader, an MM1, is talking to his counterpart on the Seawolf, who was on the other side of the pier from us, while they are at the smoke pad. He quickly comes down to the wardroom to tell me what he had heard. It seems that Building 21 had lined up to blow sans, as we had done 4 days previously, but, unlike us, and due in no small part to the dire warnings from squadron to all boats not to repeat our mishap, they (correctly) only slightly pressurized their san tanks. However, when they commenced blowing, they saw their discharge pressure shoot up, and, assuming their valve lineup to be incorrect (why else would pressure shoot up so quickly?) they quickly secured their lineup to figure out what went wrong. What they didn’t realize was that while they were attempting to blow their tanks, our sanitary pump was faithfully chugging away, pumping our san tank to the same sewage line they were connected to – they were seeing our pressure – it was this combined pressure that made the manhole cover rattle. What the also failed to appreciate was that in shouting at their rather junior sailor to secure his lineup, they caused him to panic, and he screwed up his lineup while shutting down. Really screwed it up. To the point that their tanks overflowed. What confused the Seawolf A-ganger was how the blasted watchstander had managed to overflow the tanks. You guessed it – their screwed up lineup had allowed us, unknowingly, to pump our san tanks to theirs. Yup, we overflowed their san tanks. Ooops. Bad for them, funny for us.

Skip to three days later (so much for seniority) – a little over a week and a half before we deploy, and I was stressed, and not just because it was a duty day. I had been acting Navigator for a while, as our Nav had gotten fired, and I was his only JO. Trying to get the department ready for what was sure to be a longer than 6 month deployment was starting to wear thin. The good news was our new, official Navigator was due to report any day now. The bad news was I was on duty when I really needed to be doing other things – like the full crypto inventory that was due. Ah well. Well, a few hours after lunch, it was again apparent that we were going to have to deal with our san tanks. After my previous two duty days, I was not going to take this lightly. I briefed the entire duty section, walked through the entire OP, and the Duty Chief and I stationed extra watchstanders at key gauges and valves to ensure we did not screw this up. We lined up to pump sans, the section leader double-checked the lineup, the duty chief walked the hose, and with that, I gave permission to pump. Again, everything started off just fine. Then, however, my radiomen screwed me. Anxious to keep me out of trouble, one of my radiomen (who was a gauge watch, and therefore on sound powered phones), called up to the topside watch thusly: “Topside, Machinery Room, check the pier valve open.” He was worried that, if the pier valve was shut, we would simply overpressurize the san hose and pop it like a balloon, and he realized suddenly that he had heard us check the inboard line-up, but not the outboard line-up (we had, he just didn’t know it). The topside watch answered: “Aye.” Those of you in the know are probably screaming, “Ack! No verbatim repeatback!” And you would be right to do so. Our nubly little topside then pointed to an even nublier sectionmate, and, because topside was tied to the phones, told him to “open the pier valve,” not check it open. When the nubly electronics tech told the topside watch he did not know -how- to open the pier valve, the topside watch said, “It is simple – if the valve handle is pointing 90 degrees off the pipe, it is shut. Just turn the handle until it is in line with the pipe. And hurry, they are already pumping!” What the topside watch didn’t know was that the san pier connections had handles that came off rather easily, so they had a valve indicator that you were supposed to use instead of the valve handle. If our nub had known this, he might have noticed it indicated the valve was open when he went to it. But he didn’t know this – but he did notice that the valve was 90 degrees off the pipe, so he dutifully turned it inline with the pipe – shutting the pier valve. According to the topside watch, the hose quickly swelled up like a balloon. Then, well – have you ever turned on the water to your hose outside without holding on to the hose? Imagine a 4 inch diameter hose flopping around like that. While spewing poop. Oh, did I mention that at that very moment, who should be walking across the brow but our newly-reporting Navigator. My relief. To add to it all, the topside watch, after we had managed to secure the san pump, stuck his head out of his shack (where he had jumped when he saw the hose begin to swell), and helpfully exclaimed to a drenched-in-you-know-what Navigator, “Welcome to the boat, Nav!”

Skip to about a week later (short underway intervening) – I am back on duty, our first day back in port, and just a few short days before we deploy. The Chief of the Watch coming in to port, on his very first qualified watch, had not thought to pump sans, so there we were, again, having to pump sans. And yes, by now, I had a reputation. So, again we had the full duty section brief. Again the lineup was second checked. This time the duty chief stayed topside to ensure no one touched the lineup (he was no fool, though, and stayed in the topside watch’s shack). Now, a bit more explanation. The hose that connected our sanitary system to the pier fitted directly onto the pier valve, but it required a brass fitting to attach to our hull opening. Public works provides that fitting. All it is is an adapter to allow the hose to fit onto our hull penetration. Usually. Public works did have one oddball fitting, that had an internal valve in it. They were not supposed to issue it, as no one was used to it. You guessed it, they gave it to us. The only way to check it was to be lowered down via safety harness – the only time this was done was when it is first attached in port – it is then left in place. Well, the mechanic who attached it in port did not notice the valve on it – why would he, we never had one there before? We learned an interesting fact, however. Our san pump can produce enough pressure to shatter brass. Of course, the downside to gaining this practical knowledge is that in order to learn it, you must then deal with the resultant poop geyser shooting up and out the side of your boat. Oh, did I mention the Seawolf was one pier over, having her change of command? That meant that the Commodore, the Group Admiral, and many others were on a platform that faced the Seawolf, and just behind her, us? What I have not mentioned up until now was that it was standard operating procedure to call the squadron engineer anytime an accident like this happened (he and I talked a lot). Knowing full well that he was at the change of command, I called his cell. Before I even said a word, this is what I heard, “Yes, I know which boat this is. Yes, I know what happened. As a matter of fact, everyone knows what happened, including the admiral. We will have the fact finding in one hour. Is this LT PBS?” Me: “Yes sir.” SQUENG: “Figures. [click]”

Ahhh, but then came deployment. Certainly this string of bad luck won’t follow me on deployment, right? Our first port call was Rota, Spain. As I was relatively senior, I got the day we pulled in as duty day – the Senior Watch Officer trusted me (ha!) to get everything set up right for the port call, and that way I spent the least amount of time in port on duty. Suffice it to say that I did -not- screw up the sans, but that submariners and machine guns do not mix. That is the subject of a whole different post, though. But we had no problem with sans! The streak was broken! This was, of course, aided by the fact that in Rota, you simply pump your sans into the bay alongside your boat. Ewwww, the fishies like eating brown trout!

Back to sea we went, and, many weeks later, we pulled into La Maddalena, alongside the sub tender stationed there. Again, I had duty the day we pulled in, for the same reasons as above. This time, however, we would pump sans to the tender’s sanitary tanks, and they would pump them to shore at their convenience. We, the oncoming duty section, were warned by the squadron liaison officer that every ship in the past year had screwed this up the first time they did it. He asked, nay he begged us to be the first to not screw this up. No problem, I thought, we have screwed up sans every possible way, and we now know how to prevent that. We will not screw this up. Ha. So, the time comes for the inevitable pumping. Again, a full duty section brief, especially since this was a new environment. Everyone got hand-held radios this time, as our sound powered phones would not reach the tender, and you had better believe that we were going to station someone at the valve on the tender and be in communication with him. So, pumping commenced. Again, things were going along just fine. It was about that time that a group of senior Caribineri came for a tour of the boat. For those of you who do not know, the Caribineri are like a mix of the police, FBI, and military police for us. And, in my experience, they are none too friendly to visiting American sailors. So, the onus was on me to make sure their tour went flawlessly, to try and butter them up and keep them out of our hair while we were in port. They came down the brow in expensive looking suits and imperial expressions on their faces. And only one of them spoke English. Poorly. I, of course, spoke zero Italian. So I began showing them around topside, pointing out the periscopes and antennae, answering questions about the capstan and line-handling, when, suddenly, it began to rain. Except it wasn’t rain. It seems that the duty section sailor on the tender decided to lean over the railing to get a better look at the Caribineri, and while he was doing so, a tender sailor, seeing the hull valve that we were discharging to in a position he had never seen it before, decided to close it. Let’s review that statement. He closed the valve. Unilaterally. Without talking to the guy with the radio standing next to the valve. Without requesting permission from his engineering watchstanders. He.just.closed.it. So once again, the san hose swelled like a balloon. This time, however, instead of imitating a garden hose gone amuck, it split down its seam, sprinkling you-know-what topside. Where the Caribineri were. Luckily they had their backs to the san hose. I quickly ushered them below decks. When they asked me what had been spraying topside, I explained that we were moving the periscope, and as I had just told them, we had a garden hose topside to lubricate the ‘scopes, as they were normally seawater lubricated. The English-speaking one sniffed his suit coat, and asked, “Are you sure this is seawater?” I assured him it was, and then hastily turned the tour over to my Duty Chief, as I could no longer keep a straight face. And I smelled like san tank. The best part of that was the tender defended its crewmember, and actually said he was taking laudable initiative in correcting what he thought was an out-of-spec condition. They did not change their tune until we threatened to weld the valve open so it wouldn’t happen again. Sheesh.

Thankfully, blessedly, my string of bad duty days ended there. Primarily because I did not have another one – we went back to sea, and by the time I was up in the rotation again, it was time for me to transfer to shore duty. Trust me, the Eng was not entirely displeased to see me go…
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Sub Battery changes

Big changes for US sub batteries.  However, from the gouge I heard, we are changing battery types not only because of the stated benefits, but also because GNB had said it was getting out of the business, not the other way around.  Either way, at least we are actually modernizing.

06 September 2005

Ick, and he still likes ND?

In honor of Coach Weis' first victory at ND, I bring you this quote from ESPN:
Weis understands the mentality of Notre Dame followers, mostly because he was one. He lived at Flanner Hall, was a regular in the student section, and earned his bachelor's degree in speech and drama in 1978. So, of course, he took the degree and became ... an assistant coach at Boonton High School in his native New Jersey.
Flanner? Flanner? And he doesn't hate ND for sticking him in the 'dorm' so dreadful that they turned it into administration offices? Good on him. Those that understand this loathing of Flanner simply know, those that don't (like my sibs, who went to ND after Flanner was no longer a dorm) will never know just how bad it was...

02 September 2005

Interesting Factoid

Well, crude prices are back down. Now let's see if price at the pump follows suit...


So, as I endured the pain of filling up my gas tank (I drive 70+ miles a day, can't really wait for prices to drop), I thought to myself, as I often have, "Why has gas gone up more than $1.30 in two months? Sheesh, I'd like to see what the crude price trends were and compare it to pump prices - it has to be B.S." Now, believe it or not, I have about a year's worth of data on pump prices - I track my car's fuel effeciency to verify performance. I am a geek. So all I had left to do was get a year's worth of crude prices, and compare, right?

Or, I could take the easy route, and check AAA's fuel price site.

So, here is that comparison, from their site:

As you can see, the National Average tracks pretty closely with crude prices - but when crude spikes, pump prices spike higher, stay high longer, and when crude drops, pump prices take longer to fall off, and do not fall off as much. Economics or swindling? I'll let you draw your own conclusions, as I am not an economist. However, I will say that at least the pump prices bears a resemblance to the crude prices - I didn't give gas companies even that much credit.