Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Submariner in Space?

I was looking at technology news this evening and ran across a piece of local RI interest relating to NASA doing tours of schools nationwide to promote science, technology and math. The NASA representative that spoke to the local RI schools was Navy Cmdr. Stephen Bowen a MA native and the first Submariner to become an Astronaut. The Commander has quite an impressive career so far, here's the link to his bio at NASA. He also appears to be putting his nuke quals to work there as well.

Navy Cmdr. Stephen Bowen (Source: NASA)

USS Parche (SSN 683), USS POGY (SSN 647), USS Augusta (SSN 710) and the Pre-Comm Unit for the Virginia (SSN 774) for a total of 14 years in the Submarine Service before becoming a Mission Specialist at NASA.

I have to say those gold Dolphins do make the NASA uniform look good.

Sunday, May 29, 2005

RI locals stunned by the obvious.

When I heard the news of the possable closing of the New London Sub Base I made the immediate connection to the local RI economy and Electric Boat. Not so with the RI politicians. I seem to recall hearing on the radio that a RI Democrat, sorry I mean still Republican, Senator Lincoln Chaffee as well as other RI politicians were initially saying that the BRAC recommendations were good for RI. Their reasoning at the time was the state would gain about 500 jobs due to realignments from other installations nation wide. I believe they have refined their thinking since that first statement.

Saying RI is a small state is well, an understatement, and much of what happens in CT or MA has a direct impact on this State. Economic impact does not stop at the CT border and many people in southern RI make the 30 to 45 minute commute to work in Groton. Now the premere local business publication The Providence Business News has reported the obvious as well: Groton submarine base closure makes waves in the Ocean state (hat tip: TheSubReport).

The closing of the New London Sub Base would remove one of the incentives the Navy has to award Submarine contracts to Electric Boat. After all where would you keep all the PCU and overhaul crews as well as the Navy's shipyard detachment personnel, a hour plus away in Newport?

Engineering Heavy Weight

When there's no room to maneuver in Maneuvering perhaps Shipshape is the answer!

A Submariner's favorite - Sticky Buns.

They go really well with a tall glass of bulls milk and some powdered eggs about day 60 of patrol, NOT. I did like the sticky buns at breakfast though.

***** Lubber's Comic *****
I'm not much of an artist but I do like to doodle some. So I thought I would add a Sunday comic to my Blog just for fun. Sort of in the above format, an obscure submarine reference or bad pun in a doodle followed by some additional obscure or bad referenced information. Did the same last week. We'll see how it works out.

Friday, May 27, 2005

Sub Base New London Closing Criteria?

Connecticut politicians and advocates for keeping the New London Submarine Base open are going to have a tough time convincing the BRAC Commission not to close the Sub Base. The task ahead for them is not only to address every point the DOD and Navy has made for closure but also to demonstrate the continued value of keeping the installation open. Focusing on politics is not going to make much of a difference to the Navy planners.

Much of what the DOD and Navy has provided to date lacks detailed justification but does fit the broad outline of the Under Secretary Of Defense Jan 2004 memorandum Subject: 2005 Base Closure and Selection Criteria. The following is a list of those Criteria:

Military value

  1. The current and future mission capabilities and the impact on operational readiness of the Defense Department’s total force, including the impact on joint warfighting, training, and readiness.
  2. The availability and condition of land, facilities, and associated airspace (including training areas suitable for maneuver by ground, naval, or air forces throughout diversity of climate and terrain areas and staging areas for the use of the Armed Forces in homeland defense missions) at both existing and potential receiving locations.
  3. The ability to accommodate contingency, mobilization, surge, and future total force requirements at both existing and potential receiving locations to support operations and training.
  4. The cost of operations and the manpower implications.

All of the above criteria speaks to me of consolidation to even larger military multi-branch and multi-discipline installations. The more remote the area, free of congested sea lanes and air space, the better. Additionally the costs associated the local economy such as cost of living, per diem, facility maintenance and heating/AC costs all contribute to the bottom line in cost savings to the military and its personnel.

How do the New London Sub Base supporters counter the consolidation and better local economic climate justifications? One method I’ve seen is to use the simplistic “is it really that much better” argument. Basically the argument says that Norfolk and eastern VA are economically similar and just as congested to eastern CT. Not a very good standpoint to take, sort of like saying my house is just as ugly as yours only smaller. Another point that has been made is to cite history, partially the Pearl Harbor Attack as a reason not concentrate too much of the military to one region or at one base. A fair point to make but when someone is concentrating on the bottom line of a spreadsheet it’s hard to get them away from the dollars mindset.

The real arguments should be attacking the driving forces behind the DOD and Navy’s rational in the base closing recommendation, those being cost saving, projected submarine force structure requirements and military force transformation. Already some of the cost estimates have been put into question such as what a full environmental cleanup of the Sub Base would require. Additionally much of the facilities at the New London Sub Base, such as the Sub School, do not exist elsewhere and would have to be built. Facilities that do exist in Kings Bay or Norfolk would also have to be expanded. Indeed Norfolk may or may not have a current excess of piers and office space due to a reduced fleet size but the Brac Commission is already reviewing other space in VA to accommodate the closing of both New London Sub Base and Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

The Navy’s projected force structure requirements are also being called into question. Essentially a recent Navy study has revised upward the number of operational Submarines it needs from between 37 and 41 to as many as 45 to 50. That’s only 4 boats less than 54 in service today. Numbers wise there are currently 21 subs based out of Groton including 1 PCU, 13 out of Norfolk including 2 PCUs and 8 SSBNs out of Kings Bay, thats relocating nearly half the submarines on the east coast. If Groton represents such excess capacity why are more than half the SUBLANT Fast Attacks based there? At face value excess pier space in Norfolk doesn't look like a very good reason to move over half the boats and supporting facilities south.

Transformation and network centric warfare are the current go to concepts that the DOD is working on. Basing a number of different services and types of units in one place may help facilitate training for those locally based units but doesn't it also defeat the overall purpose of those concepts? Namely being able to take different units that may be based across a wide geographic area and cross multiple disciplines and have them work together seamlessly.

Other considerations

  • The extent and timing of potential costs and savings, including the number of years, beginning with the date of completion of the closure or realignment, for the savings to exceed the costs.
  • The economic impact on existing communities in the vicinity of military installations.
  • The ability of the infrastructure of both the existing and potential receiving communities to support forces, missions, and personnel.
  • The environmental impact, including the impact of costs related to potential environmental restoration, waste management, and environmental compliance activities.

These other considerations are where the politicians seem to focus their attention, mainly the economic impact. This means votes to them because their constituencies demand they defend the status quo. It’s a no brainer to cite the fact that an employer with a multi-million payroll leaving is going to effect the local economy. Placing too much attention to the lower priorities of the selection criteria and not enough to the Navy’s main justifications could prove fatal. The Navy will defend its position by citing the overall saving the closures will provide to the DOD and additionally cite other communities that have recovered after their bases have closed. For example a Navy Times editorial points to a recent GAO report (PDF) as such an economic justifaction.

If you look close though at the above referenced GAO report you’ll find that many communities that had significant naval base closures have not recovered very well. Here are three examples of facilities that had provided submarine support activity at one time.

Charleston Naval Complex, S.C. -BRAC 1993 -EST jobs lost 6,272 -Recovered jobs 2,797 -Recovery 45%
Guam Naval Complex BRAC 1993 EST jobs lost 2,193 -Recovered jobs 552 -Recovery 25 %
Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Calif. 1993 -EST jobs lost 7,567 -Recovered jobs 1,363 -Recovery 18%

What is Going Where? Below is from the Navy’s Analyses and Recommendations VOL IV (PDF) page 65.

Recommendation for Closure
Submarine Base New London, CT

Close Naval Submarine Base New London, CT. Relocate its assigned submarines, Auxiliary Repair Dock 4 (ARDM-4), and Nuclear Research Submarine 1 (NR-1) along with their dedicated personnel, equipment and support to Submarine Base Kings Bay, GA, and Naval Station Norfolk, VA. Relocate the intermediate submarine repair function to Shore Intermediate Repair Activity Norfolk, at Naval Shipyard Norfolk, VA, and Trident Refit Facility Kings Bay, GA. Relocate the Naval Submarine School and Center for Submarine Learning to Submarine Base Kings Bay, GA. Consolidate the Naval Security Group Activity Groton, CT with Naval Security Group Activity Norfolk, VA at Naval Station Norfolk, VA. Consolidate Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory Groton, CT, with Naval Medical Research Center at Walter Reed Army Medical Center Forest Glenn Annex, MD. Relocate Naval Undersea Medical Institute Groton, CT to Naval Air Station Pensacola, FL, and Fort Sam Houston, TX. Consolidate Navy Region Northeast, New London, CT, with Navy Region, Mid-Atlantic, Norfolk, VA.

The existing berthing capacity at surface/subsurface installations exceeds the capacity required to support the Force Structure Plan. The closure of Submarine Base New London materially contributes to the maximum reduction of excess capacity while increasing the average military value of the remaining bases in this functional area. Sufficient capacity and fleet dispersal is maintained with the East Coast submarine fleet homeports of Naval Station Norfolk and Submarine Base Kings Bay, without affecting operational capability. The intermediate submarine repair function is relocated to Shore Intermediate Maintenance Activity Norfolk at Norfolk Naval Shipyard, and the Trident Refit Facility Kings Bay, GA, in support of the relocating submarines. Consolidating the Naval Submarine Medical Research Laboratory.

The Navy spent 1.3 Billion over 10 years to develop the Submarine Base in Kings Bay GA. and now plans a major expansion to save the Navy of $1.6 billion over 20 years. Also you can't spit in the Tidewater area of VA without hitting something with a MILSPEC tag on it. So this all makes sense to me, how about you?

Update 5/27/05 8:30- Former Submariners Bubblehead and PigBoatSalior have been covering the Sub Base New London closing news pretty heavy lately and have some good posts on the subject. You should swing by their Blogs for some additional info.

Wednesday, May 25, 2005

USS Alabama SSBN731 - 20 Years Today

The USS Alabama SSBN 731 is 20 years old today. That's about half way through the expected life of a Trident submarine hull. I found a couple of items from that day to share.

First is the commissioning program book below. It's about 20 pages and includes description of the commissioning of the ship, history of other ships named after the state of Alabama, individual photos of crew members and profiles on the Commissioning Officials and each crews Senior Officers and Enlisted. I've only included the cover and program page.

Commissioning Program Cover

Commissioning Program Agenda (Source: a dusty sea bag in the attic)

The second is this souvenir envelop from that day.

Commissioning Souvenir Envelop (Source: that same sea bag)

The Commissioning of a ship is when it officially becomes a "United States Ship" and can hold the prefix "USS". Until that time it can only be called a Precomm Unit (such as precomm unit Alabama) or by it's hull number (such as the 731 boat).

The inside cover of the commissioning program also has this description.

The Commissioning ceremony marks the acceptance of a ship as a unit of operating forces of the United States Navy. At the moment the commission pennant is broken, USS ALABAMA (SSBN731) becomes the responsibility of the Commanding Officer, who, together with the ship's officers and men, has the duty of making and keeping her ready for any service required by our nation, whether we be at peace or at war.

Before Commissioning the Officers and Crew work hard to put the ship through a series of builder trials and acceptance testing, as shown in this Alpha Trials photo. We did our sea trails in mid winter hence the orange foul whether gear on the bridge.

The Alabama on Alpha Trials (Source: US Navy Photo)

The USS Alabama has served the United States Navy well for the past 20 years and will do so for perhaps another 20.

The Official State and Ship's Motto"AUDEMUS JURA NOSTRA DEFENDERE"

Lubber's Line - USS Alabama (Plankowner)

Sunday, May 22, 2005

Snorkel Mask

Snorkel Mask or Snorkel Mast?

A little sound to bring back some bubblehead memories (wav).

There's a great web site USS Caiman (SS-323) Association where I found a whole series of control room and sonar shack sound bites. I liked this one which may be why STS's prefer passive sonar.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Men of Integrity and Courage

The grounding of the USS San Francisco has been a curiosity to the general public, a failure of procedure and informational systems to the Navy and a true tragedy for the crew of SSN 711 and the family of one brave and dedicated sailor. I’ve watched the 60 Minutes segment, read the reporting of both Christopher Drew of the New York Times, Robert Hamilton of the New London Day and finally read the Navy’s unclassified investigation report. One thing I have always come away with is that the Officers and Crew of the USS San Francisco are men of integrity and courage.

Cmdr. Mooney has done what many a Commanding Officer before him has done and taken full responsibility for what has happened aboard his ship. In doing so the Commander has demonstrated integrity that is rare outside of the military and seems almost non-existent among our captains of industry. A letter of reprimand has essentially dead ended his naval career. But Cmdr. Mooney should know that he has done what few men would or could do, that is, taken on the responsibilities of command of a U.S. Navy nuclear fast attack submarine.

The crew’s actions to save their crippled ship, to tend to their injured shipmates and attempt to save the life of critically injured MM2(SS) Joseph Allen Ashley demonstrated the courage that is only found in dedicated and confident men. Throughout the grounding’s investigation the crew of the USS San Francisco has stuck together and only asked that the truth lead where it may to benefit others who operate in a similar submerged environment. Therefore the crew has shown additional courage in voicing their belief that the grounding’s responsibility must also include those who provide the systems and information that every submarine relies on.

You may think I’m glossing over any failures that caused the grounding but what I wanted to provide here was only my observations on the demonstrated character of the men of the USS San Francisco SSN 711. These observations are why I still proudly say “I once wore the silver dolphins of the US Submarine Service”.

Lubber’s Line
Former NavET ET1(SS)
SSBN 641, SSBN 731

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Cookiecutter Sharks and Submarines

Here's something I never knew.

I was watching a show about sharks with my son recently and a strange little shark was mentioned, the Cookiecutter shark. A small species of deep ocean dogfish the Cookiecutter shark has a bioluminescent underbelly and short, powerful jaws.

This shark also has a reputation for it's distinctive bite.

Bite damage (Source: NOAA)

It is known for biting out small plugs of flesh from large fish and whales as well as damaging undersea cables. But the thing I found interesting is that it has been known to attack nuclear submarine sonar domes. Here's a conversation from an Australian website on the topic.

I have to say the sea is full of some strange creatures, including the ones outside the pressure hull.

Friday, May 13, 2005

Friday the 13th BRAC ATTACK

The BRAC commission has released their recommendations (pdf link)and it came as no surprise New England and it's Submarine community were one of the biggest losers. Topping the hit list is Connecticut with a loss of 8,586 jobs of which 8,460 are at the Submarine Base New London. Second place goes to Maine with a loss of 6,938 jobs of which 4,510 are at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard.

BRAC net totals both Military and Civilian jobs by State.
(Click on Image to enlarge)

So who are the big winners as a result of Sub base NL and PNS closing (Not Realigned)? Georgia has one of the biggest numbers in the plus column with 7,423 of which 3,367 go to the Submarine Base Kings Bay.

The other State where the Sub Base NL and PNS jobs are going is likely to be Virginia with gain of 2,036 to Naval Shipyard Norfolk and 2,807 to Naval Base Norfolk , but Virginia shows a net loss. I found a single line item that throws the numbers off for Virginia (Leased Space -VA Close/Realign -22,925). Thats a lot of "leased space" in VA seeing how all the other states combined have "leased space" totaling -3094 positions. If you take the -22,925 out of the equation Virginia gains 21,351 jobs. I guess the military leases a lot of administrative office space outside of DC. But if that were so why is it that VA has -22,925 lost jobs and MD only -175 attributed to "leased space"?

Let's look at the Brac Commission members and how the States they hail from did.
  • Anthony J. Principi, former secretary of veterans affairs, from CA, chairman. ( -2,018 not bad for a big State)
  • Former Rep. James H. Bilbray of NV. ( 1,059 in the plus side)
  • Former Assistant Defense Secretary Philip Coyle of CA. ( -2,018 can't show any bias there's two from CA)
  • Retired Adm. Harold W. Gehman Jr. of VA. ( - 1,574 or is that +21,351 I'm not sure...)
  • Retired Air Force Brig. Gen. Sue Ellen Turner of TX. ( 6,150 and the boss will probably say OK)
  • Former Rep. James V. Hansen of UT. ( -446 didn't hurt that much)
  • Retired Army Gen. James T. Hill of FL. ( 2,727 another one on the plus side)
  • Samuel Skinner of IL, former chief of staff for President George H.W. Bush. ( -2,698 mostly Naval Station Great Lakes)
  • Retired Air Force Gen. Lloyd Warren Newton of CT. ( -8,586 whatever the Adm. says is OK)
There are the numbers and how I see them.

Some would say the New London Sub Base and Naval Shipyard Portsmouth closures are a good thing such as linked here or here and others a bad thing as linked here or here. But there's something to be said for Yankee toughness and the people in the Northeast who support these installations aren't going to go away.
Then again Norfolk is such a much nicer place that Groton and Kings Bay is a great place to be in August.

By the way, did I say I'm from Rhode Island about half way between where the Navy once had all types of large installations and that Submarine Base in CT they're going to close. I don't really have a dog in this fight just an interested party that lives nearby.

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

SSN 711 grounding position on chart 81023

I've plotted the latitude and Longitude position on Chart 81023 of the USS San Francisco's grounding as reported in the unclassified investigation report.

Chart 81023 plot of SSN 711 grounding
(Click on Image to enlarge)

There are two positions in the report, the ship's deck log position and the RLGN data position. Plotted in Blue for deck log and Red for RLGN recorded positions. Here are the report entries:

290. (U) The QMOW on watch at the time of the grounding, ET2(SS) ****, said he was knocked unconscious for a short time when the ship grounded. According to the ship's Deck Log, the Grounding occurred at 07 44.7' N, 147 11.6' E. A relieving QMOW, ET2(SS) **** , stated that this Deck Log position was taken from the RLGN remote touch screen display that was paused some time after the grounding.

291. (U) Based on a second-by-second analysis of the ship's deceleration recorded in RLGN channel 1 data, the ship grounded at 1142K (and 20 seconds) at 07 45.5' N, 147 12.3' E.

The Chart I used above is 81023 which is a general navigation chart and the one the Navy cites as containing the "discol waters rep". The Discolored Waters Report is 3 nautical miles south of the actual grounding and is from a 1966 Japanese Notice to Mariners that was originally reported in 1963. This data point was not on the E2202 chart used by the Navigation crew and was not noted in the SUBNOTE provided for their transit. Chart E2202 is a bottom contour chart and was considered to have been more accurate due to the greater density of sounding data. I noted chart 81023's poor sounding data in a previous post on this blog. Chart E2202 was up to date and the Navigation crew had all applicable NTM entered.

Although not transferring the "discol waters rep" from Chart 81023 to E2202 was cited as one of the contributing factors to the grounding, it is not a responsibility the Navigation crew shares alone. I'm of the opinion that the originator of the SUBNOTE and the Defense Mapping Agency share equal responsibility for not including on chart E2202 a navigation hazard identified back in 1963.

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

SSN 711 Grounding Report Encl:(137) USNS HESS

I started reading the investigation report on the USS San Francisco grounding and found an interesting reference in the list of ship's procedures, transcripts and report enclosures.

Encl: (137) USNS HESS 1980 Survey Data in vicinity of grounding (S)

The USNS HESS was a T-AGS class ship tasked specifically for deep ocean hydrographic surveys. The kind of survey work these ships do would provide information that could have prevented the grounding if known. The USNS HESS (T-AGS-38) was fitted with a SASS 1 x 1 degree Multibeam Sonar system for this type of survey work.

USNS Hess T-AGS-38
(Source: NavSource.org - Carl R. Friberg Jr.)

The fact that this enclosure is in the list brings a few questions to my mind.
  1. What exactly is "in vicinity of grounding" mean?
  2. Did the area of the grounding get surveyed for a specific purpose and then that information not get transferred?
  3. If the USNS HESS survey data was not applicable why look at it?

The survey work done by the USNS HESS was in 1980, back then SSBNs still made patrols out of Guam. If the seamounts and escarpments "in the vicinity" were surveyed back in 1980 then 25 years is a long time for that data not to make it on operational submarines bottom contour charts.

Then again I could be wrong and they were just out fishing.

Update: 5/11/05 -11:50 Under the section "Chart Cautions and Accuracy" paragraphs 508 thru 511 reference encl:(137) but are remove to provide an unclassified document. What is interesting is the statement in paragraph 507:

NGU report that "None of the depicted track lines [on E2202] appear to have ensonified the feature in question." [encls (43), (232) ]

This statement precedes the USNS HESS hydrographic references in 508 -511.

I'm not trying to create a conspiracy here, just try to point out that hydrographic data comes from a variety of sources, some classified. If there was a failure here then perhaps there needs to be a review of methods used to incorporate clear hazards to navigation and submerged operations onto general navigation and bottom contour charts.

Sunday, May 08, 2005

Tin-foil Central with Satire

Boy, the submarine blogging community is all over this story about a new conspiracy theory relating to the Kursk sinking. Both WillyShake and Bubblehead have posts up on how the reported French "documentary" voices theories that are tin-foil hat material in Texas 10 gal proportions.

In the spirit of tin-foil hats I decided come up with my own theory on the French “documentary” theory. (Read on only if you know what satire is.)

Satire On...

Headline: French source of anti-American propaganda found.

Tin-foil Central (Webmaster –baiter and IP switcher)

The Lubber's Line investigative service (LL-IS) has discovered the source of much of the anti-American propaganda emanating from France. After months of tracing back IP addresses and Internet service providers, LL-IS has discovered that the majority of this material came from the PC pictured above. The IP trackback was difficult and included the UN’s mainframe, a server hosting CBS news email, a PC in Flint Michigan, a server in Damascus Syria and finally the above workstation in a French Pharmaceutical company outside of Paris.

Emmanuel Lo Botomy is the webmaster and above cube occupant. Mr. Lo Botomy works for a French company that manufactures psychotropic drugs for the socialized medicine market.

Emmanuel confessed that he held a grudge against Americans ever sense he was fired from his Euro-Disney job back in 1998. During this reporter’s interview with Mr. Lo Botomy he constantly referred to the two adjacent co-workers as Lilo and Stitch. The one identified as Stitch said Emmanuel had not been well ever since he spilled espresso on his keyboard and a blinding blue flash had followed.

Emmanuel also commented that Stitch's mothership resembles a submarine.

Satire Off…..

Friday, May 06, 2005

Frigate Bird May 6, 1962 23:30 (GMT)

On this date in 1962 the USS Ethan Allen SSBN 608 conducted the only operational test and detonation of a Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile (SLBM). The name of that test was "Frigate Bird".

Frigate Bird Test (Source: US DOE)

The USS Ethan Allen (SSBN-608) launched a Polaris missile in the afternoon of May 6 1962 towards the Christmas Islands in Eastern Micronesia. The warhead went down range approximately 1,100 miles before re-entering the atmosphere 12 to 13 minutes later. The 600-kiloton airburst occurred at 11,000 feet above 4° 50' North, 149° 25' West . The DOE website has a file film download page of the Frigate Bird test.

USS Ethan Allen SSBN 608 (Source: US Navy)

The Frigate Bird test was part of a the largest U.S. Nuclear testing operation ever conducted, Operation Dominic, with 36 atmospheric tests at the Pacific Proving Grounds.

In other news today "U.S. Warns North Korea Against Nuclear Test" in the NYT (Subscription) and "N. Korea nuke test preparations" at CNN website. The successful Frigate Bird test was 43 years ago, the North Koreans shouldn't rattle those sabers too loud I would think.

The Frigate Bird is also known as the Man-O-War Bird.

I also liked this quote:
"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline. It helps if you have some kind of a football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer. " Frank Zappa

Had any good North Korean beer lately?

Update 5/7/05 - 9:30: the above Periscope photo shot is from the USS Carbonero (SS-337) 480 nm ENE of Christmas Island. 14:45: Another update to correct sleepy eyed typos and misspellings.

Wednesday, May 04, 2005

Weakest of Links

I haven’t posted anything in a few days and was looking for something interesting to write about that related to submarines. I didn’t want to follow up on the great sea stories that Bothehook, Bubblehead and WillShake posted lately so I came up with this lame attempt to link current technology breakthroughs to possible applications relating to submarines.

The first one is this story I read about the Portuguese Navy purchasing some new Type-209MOD submarines fitted with the latest fuel cell propulsion equipment. But then I ran across this story about jolting bacteria to make hydrogen from human waste. Hydrogen is the FUEL in fuel cells so could SAN #1 someday become a fuel source? No more blowing sanitary tanks at sea. Brings a whole new meaning to all AHEAD FULL.

Here’s a story from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute about recent discoveries in ocean water layering with “salt fingers” and temperature gradients. Seeing how submarines have been known to take advantage of thermocline effects on sonar to avoid detection, a DEEPER understanding of the ocean’s temperature gradients and salinity could help tactics.

Speaking of detection here’s a story about using Muron Radiography to find nuclear materials even within substantial shielding. Could this new technology be adapted to find Nuclear Submarines as sea? Probably not, but at least we could use the technology to find nuclear wantabe terrorist MORONS with a Muron detector.

I did say they were weak.

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Ghost Nets – silent curtains of death

Ghost nets, another term for lost or abandon commercial fishing gear, are a growing danger to marine life. This is a problem that the NOAA "Ghost Net Project" researchers are trying to address by predicting where drifting ocean debris will accumulate. The debris "convergence zones" as they are called, are caused by prevailing winds and currents. NOAA Magazine has a recent article on the work being done in this field.

Common type Trawler fishing (Source: NOAA)

The NOAA researchers have developed a new method of using Satellites and a NOAA P3 aircraft to locate possible convergence zones. In an operational test this past March NOAA researchers were able to confirm their method on one such convergence zone north of Hawaii. The area they found contained about 2000 separate pieces of debris, including balls of nets up to 10 meters across.

NOAA WP-3D Orion (Source: NOAA)

According to the Hawaii Sea Grant, a federal cleanup of Hawaiian Islands two years prior collected some 100 tons of discarded fishing debris including nets and line. This kind of debris kills tens of thousands of sea birds, dolphins, turtles and fish annually across the Pacific.

(Sea Story)
Submarines can also run into ghost nets as well. I recall an incident that happened on the USS Alabama during Post Shipyard Availability (PSA) in 1985. On returning to New London from some ops at sea I came out of the hatch forward of the sail to find the prefect pattern of a trawler net on the sail and sailplanes. The net was gone and we never knew we ran into it, but it did paint a distinctive pattern.

What about submarines and active fishing gear?

HMS Turbulent (Source: Royal Navy Website)

There have been occasions when a Submarine is accused of getting tangled in a trawler's net. In a recent incident a British Trafalgar class sub the "HMS Turbulent" was cleared of sinking a French trawler. The HMS Turbulent was tied up to the pier when the trawler sank. But, that didn't stop the French lawyers from accusing the British sub of pulling the Trawler to the bottom.

Ghost nets are a serious problem in the marine environment, where as submarine nets, are a different topic.