14 October 2005


Usually we would hear from ND coaches past and present at this time. But from what I understand, they are together at the place below...

The Navy Cracks Down

Well, my days of checking sublogs and posting during my lunch break are over.  When I attempted to access the hotmail account that I use to administer The Discomfort of Thought I found it blocked via NMCI.  The reasoning is laid out below:




And from the NMCI user acknowledgement form:
I am aware authorized purposes may include limited personal use when permitted by Commanding Officers (also known as Local IA authority), within the limitations set forth in DoD 5500.7R, Joint Ethics Regulation.

To ensure the integrity, safety, and security of Navy IT resources, and to comply with applicable regulations when using government – provided IT services or systems, I will NOT:

a.      Use commercial web based email (e.g. Hotmail, Yahoo!, Google, etc.) for official business.
b.      Access commercial web based email (e.g. Hotmail, Yahoo!, Google, etc.) for personal use without prior written approval from the Navy Operational DAA.

i.      Download files not needed for official use unless specifically authorized by my IAM.  If in doubt, I will first consult with my IAM.

l.      Engage in spamming, unauthorized chatting, unauthorized file sharing, gambling, wagering, hacking, or posting of personal home pages.

And from DoD 5500.7-R:
2-301    Use of Federal Government  Resources
a.      Communication Systems.  See GSA regulation 41 C.F.R. Subpart 201 21.6 (reference (h)) on use of Federal Government telephone systems.  Federal Government communication systems and equipment (including Government owned telephones, facsimile machines, electronic mail,  internet systems, and commercial systems when use is paid for by the Federal Government) shall be for official use and authorized purposes only.

And finally, from the aforementioned GSA regulation, which really only applies to phone calls, but whose guidance is being assumed to include all IT resources:

201-21.601   Authorized use of long distance telephone services.
(d)  Procedures.  Official business calls may include emergency calls and other calls the agency determines are necessary in the interest of the Government.  FIRMR Bulletin C-13 provides examples of calls that may be considered necessary in the interest of the Government.

         (1)  Telephone calls may properly be authorized when they:
              (i)  Do not adversely affect the performance of official duties by the employee or the employee's organization;

              (ii)  Are of reasonable duration and frequency; and
              (iii)  Could not reasonably have been made at another time; or
              (iv)  Are provided for in a collective bargaining agreement that is consistent with these regulations.

Now, the unions had negotiated to allow workers to use their computers for non-government business during their lunch breaks, so we had been directed not to sign the user acknowledgement form until it was more clear.  However, Navy IT appears to have assumed that webmail does not fall under the collective bargaining agreement.  Additionally, the Blogger toolbar has disappeared from Word (the way I normally post - spell check is a must for me).  The Blogspot domain is not yet blocked, but I cannot imagine that it will remain so.  As most of my posting is a lunchtime affair, as when I am home I play with my kids as much as possible, I am afraid my posting density will decrease.  However, I have a long post worked up that follows CDR Salamander's and Chap's posts on growing a modern Navy, so I will try and post that tonight.  As the Navy has clearly decided to crack down, however, I will make this my last post from work.  Besides, emailing my post in (as I am now), could also be construed as not in accordance with instruction.  So, as I like my job, I am going to fail safe.

Not shocking...

... that this is who I ended up (pointed to by John at Castle Argghhh!!!):

statler jpeg
You are Statler or Waldorf.
You have a high opinion of yourself, as do others.
But only because you are in the balcony seats.

Those two old guys in the box.
Heckling, complaining, being cantankerous

"Get off the stage, you bum!"

"The Art of Insult" and "How To
Insult Art"

Their pacemakers.

What Muppet are you?
brought to you by Quizilla

07 October 2005


Two heroes of note for your pre-weekend review:

The first, a submariner who won his countries highest award.  Nope, not the CMH.  I am referring to the VC, and the submariner is James Joseph Magennis.  A diver on a Brit midget sub, the XE.3, he swam out from the sub to attach limpet mines to the Japanese cruiser Takao.  When the mines did not deploy correctly, which prevented the sub from exiting, Magennis immediately volunteered to swim back out, and work on the explosives with a wrench until they were freed.  He had big, huge brass ones.  Oct 8th is the anniversary of his death, and 6 years ago this day he finally got his due and had a statue commemorating his deeds dedicated.

The second should be slightly better known, due to the fact that he had a movie made after him.  On Oct 8, 1918, Sgt (then Cpl) Alvin York led a group of seven soldiers against a German machine-gun nest, eventually killing 25 and capturing 132.  Again, big brass ones.

Logic, people!

I have made this point before, but I will reiterate and expand a little, because of an article The Sub Report has linked to.

Submarine SONAR has proven itself to be fairly innocuous when it comes to danger to biologics.  Add to that the knowledge that the higher the frequency of sound, the less distance it can travel with any power, and since it was a SEAL exercise they are concerned about, it is almost certain that HF SONAR was being used, as opposed to MF SONAR.  Oh, and since humans are similarly susceptible to damage from ensonified water as dolphins, do they really think we would bang out harmful sound with our own people in the water too?



Credibility (n.) - The quality, capability, or power to elicit belief.

Doubtful (adj.) - Subject to or causing doubt.

Doubt (n.) - A point about which one is uncertain or skeptical.

Soooooo, “doubtful credibility”? That is clear. Oh wait, I think I found the definition for that one, too:

Doublespeak (n.) - Any language that pretends to communicate but actually does not.

Thanks for that, DHS.

06 October 2005

Compare and Contrast, the return!

Time for another compare and contrast:

First:  Two US destroyers collide – and their CO’s are…?
Second:  US submarine and merchant collide, and its CO is…?

As a note, the Philadelphia article is the first one I have seen that gives some clue as to what was going on in the bridge of the Yasa Aysen – and it seems pretty clear that the merchant was in fact overtaking the sub.

Off again, off again...

*sigh*  Back to DC Monday and Tuesday.  Nothing like traveling on a holiday.

I think it's cool

One of the most puzzling emissions scientists observe in our universe has been Gamma Ray Bursts (GRBs). They are short duration, extremely high intensity discrete periods of gamma radiation. They are the most energetic emissions ever detected, “equivalent to that which would be produced by converting the entire mass of a star 1.3 times the mass of our Sun completely into gamma radiation.” Their source has been disputed since they were first discovered. Until now, apparently.

Some history: GRBs have been observed since the 1960’s. In 1991, NASA launched the Compton Gamma Ray Observatory, and one of its multiple missions was to collect data about these phenomena. It successfully determined that GRBs were not simply coming from our galaxy, but from all points in the sky. So, these GRBs were potentially traveling from other galaxies far distant, and still imparting massive amounts of energy. There were many guesses about what could produce such enormous amounts of energy, from extremely large supernovas to black hole activity. As it turns out, it is a mix of these two hypothesis. Longer duration (> 2 sec) GRBs were shown to emanate from hypernovas. And today, NASA announced that it had determined that the still-mysterious shorter duration GRBs have been shown to be produced by a neutron star being sucked into a black hole, or a neutron star colliding with another neutron star – both phenomena produce short duration GRBs. The fact that they were even able to observe in some fashion these events just gets me all atwitter. Very cool.

Oh, and add extra geek points if you hummed a Muppets tune every time I said ‘phenomena

Old Sailors...

… apparently hit senility at flank speed. Take, for example, this bubba who created his own “submarine room.” (H/T The Sub Report)

Yeah, right, with ”portals”, a large mermaid mural, and with walls … textured silver gray, I call bad memory – seeing the past through the hazy veil of distance makes one forget, apparently.

I have a few suggestions:
Loose the windows; install harsh fluorescent lights in random places.
Get an air freshener that smells like a fart in an oilcan.
Make the room airtight, and occasionally dump excess CO2 into it, and mutter to yourself about the broken scrubber.
Ensure all the seating doubles as a storage bench, and is as ergonomically incorrect as possible.

Any other ideas, friends? I know there is a whole list floating around out there about how to make a submariner feel at home when on land. I am looking for new, original additions. Anyone?

05 October 2005

Bioluminescence = Kewl

Can you remember the designation of the little microbes that cause a ship’s wake to glow?  I know Lubber’s Line over at Hundreds of Fathoms can tell you it is dinoflagellate.  I know, because he beat me to detailing the phenomena of “milky sea”, and new findings regarding it reported here.  Who knew there was a whole website devoted to bioluminescence?  He did.

04 October 2005

Proposed ASW Road Forward

This post got started because of CDR Salamander’s rant about out lack of true ASW training or assets to train with. While he looks at the broad spectrum of problems with our current ASW philosophy, I would like to focus on one particular aspect he touched on. That is, our lack of a true, realistic adversary for ASW training. I have touched on this before (towards the bottom), mostly because of this news regarding the US Navy leasing a Swedish diesel to assist in ASW training.

Nuclear fire will probably rain down on me from above for saying this, but:
We Need a Conventional Submarine Squadron!
(Continues in Full Post)

Before the diehard nukes out there give me a thorough lashing and take away my dolphins, take a look at the flame war conducted over at Bubblehead’s. I ardently believe that nuke boats are the best fit for the needs of our wide-ranging Navy. I do not propose using diesels to take the place of any SSN’s. However, we need an OPFOR squadron, to play the red force for training. The flyboys have figured this out, but the sub fleet is stubbornly set on maintaining a nuclear-only fleet.

Why do we need diesels, one might ask? SSN’s are plenty quiet, and can play our OPFOR quite well, can’t they? Not really. Here’s why:
First: Nuke subs have different capabilities and strengths than diesels. Do you think a nuke skipper is going to seriously consider coming up to PD and snorkeling of his own volition, just because that is what an SS would do? No way, he might get whacked by a skimmer if he did so, and he would never live that down. This results in overly scripted exercises that either: a) Never give the skimmers a decent chance to play with the sub, or b) Never give the sub enough initiative to truly challenge the skimmers. Two very different problems, same end result: Almost no training value to be had.
Second: Nuke subs are loath to disclose their sound profiles. Due to this, they are often augmented when playing with anyone other than other US SSNs (and often when playing against other US subs, too). So, again, not a realistic target, and they present very little training value to those they train with.
Third: There simply aren’t enough SSNs to provide training for other subs, much less skimmers and flyboys too. That is why we had to go and use someone else’s sub to do the job! That cannot be cheap, and it is only a temporary fix. Building new SSNs is a nonstarter, check the Congressional budget. However, we are planning on building diesels for Taiwan, based off German technology (good extensive timeline via the link. Long read, but worth it, IMHO). The cost, however, at $412B $12.3B, yes BILLION, for 8 subs is ridiculous still pretty steep. The VA-class weighs in at about $2B a copy, so $50B $1.54B for a diesel looks like scalping questionable. However, if we manage to iron all this out and produce something for Taiwan, there is no reason, after letting Taiwan defray the initial startup costs, why we cannot build a few more for our own use.

To those who think that this is a waste of money and sailors, manning subs simply for training, rather than pointing to dedicated aviation aggressor squadrons, I will point back to some US sub force history. The sub force used to have a small, 2-boat squadron of training subs, known first as the T-1 class, then as the Mackerel class, consisting of the Mackerel and the Marlin. Both were in service for about 20 years (although the Mackerel, while “in-service” was not commissioned until 1971 - ?), and it wasn’t until 1973, at the height of Rickover’s nuke-only power, that they were decommissioned. However, the sub fleet found them quite useful for ASW training, midshipman and JO training, and SONAR training for over 20 years. That should say something.

So, in summary:
Do I think our ASW training program is where it needs to be? Not by a long shot.
Do I think we have the assets to make the necessary improvements? Not at our current sub force tasking level.
Do I think we should purchase/build a diesel or two? Yes, if we can make it affordable to do so. Otherwise we are stuck leasing subs from allies instead of being self-reliant.

UPDATE (10/5/05 0210): Fixed basic math error. Thanks Bubblehead.

Read the Full Post

Morbid Thoughts

Rewriting the last will last night, figured it was time, haven’t done so since my last deployment. During this exercise, I became absorbed in morbid thoughts. Go figure, considering the subject of my labors. One of the first and foremost on my mind was the disposal of my remains.

I have always been a fan of cremation – I would rather those left behind think of me as wandering some attractive part of the world, instead of coming to mourn at some carbon-copy plot surrounded by similar holes in the ground. Being who I am, I had always been attracted to the ashes at sea, bit, as well, despite the fact that I am now residing about as far from the ocean as one can. As I talked it over with the wife, though, I had to make perfectly clear that I do not ever, EVER want to be buried at sea, Navy style. Especially via a submarine. Why, you might ask? Well let me tell you…

(In the Full Post)

I have been involved in two burials at sea, both times as the OOD, both conducted off the coast of New England. Both were similar in some respects, however, it is the differences that are worth noting, and what convinced me that having Mrs. PBS toss me in the ocean herself was preferable to having the Navy do it for her.

The first burial I will cover only briefly. It is what you would expect from a burial at sea. The XO and COB worked their way up to the bridge, in their choker whites, carrying the metal container with dead-dude #1’s cremains, the leading TM was already in the sail with an M-16 and some blanks, and the yeoman trailing behind them with the digital camera. The XO read some passages while the COB dumped the ashes overboard, with the TM firing away and the yeoman snapping pics. As I said, as you’d expect. After all was said and done, the (now empty, but still creepy) container, pics of the event, and casings from the rounds fired in dead-dude #1’s honor were all shipped off to the widow. Of course, despite turning into the wind before the ceremony, everyone still got dead-dude all over themselves due to the swirling winds up on the bridge. Ick.

The second burial was, ah, somewhat different. I found out that we would be performing said ceremony mere moments before watch. I quickly turned to my lookout and asked him if he had his ballcap and balaclava (required gear if you sail out of Groton), and if so, bring them with him to watch. He was confused, as it was late spring/early summer and not that cold, but went to get them. About half an hour into the watch, the call came up from Control that the XO was on his way up. I told the lookout to make room, expecting, of course, the same gaggle of people that had been here last time. But no, just the XO this time, in his poopy suit. I shot him a confused look, and he replied, smiling, “Nope, just me this time.” He clambered up into the flying bridge and told me to turn the ship into the wind. At this point I quickly explained why I had the lookout bring up his hat and balaclava, as it is no fun trying to wash dead-dude out of your hair, and much less fun trying to spit dead-dude out of your mouth. Then, from inside his poopy suit, the XO produced a ziplock bag. Once into the wind, he dumped poor dead-dude #2 overboard. Nice. Of course, this time, not only did dead-dude bits end up all over the bridge, but also all down the side of the sail. As we were headed into port, and it would not do to have a big light grey streak down our side, we actually resubmerged to rinse the last bit of dead-dude off our sail.
After watch, I asked the XO how we were going to assemble the package for the family of dead-dude #2. That is when he happily showed me pictures of the ceremony for d-d #1, and spent casings left over from d-d #1.

So yup, scatter me at sea, dear. Just don’t let the Navy do it. *sigh*

Read the Full Post

03 October 2005

Comparison Time

Time for a little compare and contrast.
Our subjects:
1)  Soldiers for the Truth Article that Bubblehead is already mocking
2)  Summary from The Strategy Page on the same subject (USS Philadelphia collision)

One is a fact-based, clean and clear summary.  The other delves into ridiculous speculation and absurd misunderstandings of submarine operations.  Can you figure out which is which?

As a note, I am no great fan of the Strategy Page.  They have some good points made there, and some asinine ones.  This happens to be one of the good ones.

Mon Dieu!

Say it isn’t so, the French conducting shady business deals?!

This time, it looks like they may (or may not have) bribed Indian officials [warning, lots of popups] to give favorable consideration to their offer to supply the Indian Navy with Scorpene submarines.  I really cannot see the Indians backing away from the deal, whether this is true or not – it is the direction they want to head, culminating, eventually, in their own, domestically built nuclear powered submarine.

Cheer, Cheer...

Did you see that catch? Did you see that game? Ahhh, always nice to beat up on our cross-state rivals. Especially after they hurt us consistently, recently, after a long period of ND dominance. The shillelagh is back where it belongs.
(BTW, you gotta wonder about the belt ;-} )

I can feel the pain of Bubblehead, though. I love exciting, close games when they aren’t ND. I still remember the days when the Irish felt entitled, with some justification, to be considered in the title hunt every year. Close wins are often a sad statement.

And how about Joe Pa? He is 5-0, and still not ranked where he should be. I love to see Penn State doing better, if for no other reason than they were the other team in some of my fondest ND football memories.

Nickname, people, NICKNAME!

You may or may not have heard of 2003 UB313.  It is a trans-Neptunian object, approximately twice the size of Pluto, but three times as far away from the Sun.  Recently, it was discovered to have an orbiting body, as well.  Now, I could comment on what constitutes a planet and a moon, as both these things will now be debated much more hotly.  However, I will leave that for some other time.  What I would like to note is that there is a formal procedure for naming objects in the Solar system, and, frankly, the media happily reporting the whimsical nicknames the research teams gave to these objects is annoying.  Yes, so our intrepid physics geeks had a thing for attractive chicks in bustiers.  That does not mean that the names “Xena” and “Gabrielle” will be the final names of these objects.  Geez, anything to try and make astronomy interesting.        

Oh, and BTW, Xena is not the name that was submitted for its formal name, either.  *sigh*