Sunday, October 01, 2006

Navy over UConn 41-17

Damn I missed it, got invited by one of my USSVI friends to go see the Navy - UConn game and took the kids apple picking instead.

Oh well dad duty has its own reward - Fresh Apple Pie!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A New Army College Program?

When the U.S. Army airs recruiting commercials they usually say something about earning money for college or getting quality training you can get no where else. This usually requires some level of commitment of service to get that education benefit, fair enough. But Captain Mary Hanna of the Army Reserve seems to be trying a creative way of getting that education benefit without the service obligation.

From the Boston Globe Doctor's call-up by Army is Halted

The US Army paid $184,000 for Mary Hanna to go to Tufts University School of Medicine for four years, and in exchange she agreed to serve four years of active duty and another four in the reserve after becoming a doctor.

But just before Christmas, as she was nearing the end of her anesthesiology residency at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Hanna, 30, of Somerville notified the Army that her religious beliefs were now ``incompatible with military service."

Mary says she rediscovered her religion as a devout Coptic Orthodox Christian and "cannot participate in war in any form.". She is asking to be discharged as a conscientious objector. But the Army is not sending her to Iraq or Afghanistan no she is to be stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas.

Of course the Army Reserve Captain and her lawyer say she's willing to pay back the $184,000 government investment in her education. Not that a qualified anesthesiologist in the Boston healthcare market would have much trouble with paying that back in a couple of years.

What I don't understand is how a doctor who took a Hippocratic oath and knew that joining the Army would mean treating injured soldiers in wartime could all of a sudden find both in opposision to her faith at the very moment she get orders to report for duty. Timing seems odd to me.

I think that Ms Hanna needs to take a lesson from the life of another conscientious objector, Desmond Doss, WWII U.S Army Medic and Congressional Metal of Honor recipcient.

Citation: Private First Class, U.S. Army, Medical Detachment, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division. He was a company aid man when the lst Battalion assaulted a jagged escarpment 400 feet high. As our troops gained the summit, a heavy concentration of artillery, mortar and machinegun fire crashed into them, inflicting approximately 75 casualties and driving the others back. Pfc. Doss refused to seek cover and remained in the fire-swept area with the many stricken, carrying them 1 by 1 to the edge of the escarpment and there lowering them on a rope-supported litter down the face of a cliff to friendly hands. On 2 May, he exposed himself to heavy rifle and mortar fire in rescuing a wounded man 200 yards forward of the lines on the same escarpment; and 2 days later he treated 4 men who had been cut down while assaulting a strongly defended cave, advancing through a shower of grenades to within 8 yards of enemy forces in a cave's mouth, where he dressed his comrades' wounds before making 4 separate trips under fire to evacuate them to safety. On 5 May, he unhesitatingly braved enemy shelling and small arms fire to assist an artillery officer. He applied bandages, moved his patient to a spot that offered protection from small arms fire and, while artillery and mortar shells fell close by, painstakingly administered plasma. Later that day, when an American was severely wounded by fire from a cave, Pfc. Doss crawled to him where he had fallen 25 feet from the enemy position, rendered aid, and carried him 100 yards to safety while continually exposed to enemy fire. On 21 May, in a night attack on high ground near Shuri, he remained in exposed territory while the rest of his company took cover, fearlessly risking the chance that he would be mistaken for an infiltrating Japanese and giving aid to the injured until he was himself seriously wounded in the legs by the explosion of a grenade. Rather than call another aid man from cover, he cared for his own injuries and waited 5 hours before litter bearers reached him and started carrying him to cover. The trio was caught in an enemy tank attack and Pfc. Doss, seeing a more critically wounded man nearby, crawled off the litter; and directed the bearers to give their first attention to the other man. Awaiting the litter bearers' return, he was again struck, this time suffering a compound fracture of 1 arm. With magnificent fortitude he bound a rifle stock to his shattered arm as a splint and then crawled 300 yards over rough terrain to the aid station. Through his outstanding bravery and unflinching determination in the face of desperately dangerous conditions Pfc. Doss saved the lives of many soldiers. His name became a symbol throughout the 77th Infantry Division for outstanding gallantry far above and beyond the call of duty.

Desmond Doss was a devout member of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church and refused to kill or carry a gun. Mr. Doss died earlier this year

Read War Hero Without a Gun to understand the true meaning of a conscientious objector and how religious beliefs can be compatible with military service.

Ms Hanna put whatever political beliefs you have aside and look to your faith and medical oath to fill your obligations. In refusing to serve you are waging war against those who protect your freedom to be a conscientious objector.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Soviet AGIs and DASOs Remembered

A little news film entertainment for us old Boomer weenies.

Yes, the Soviet AGIs were a pain in the butt back then. Station the AGI tracking party, and remember no ship's ball caps topside.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

NIE Intel and motivated Terrorists

Tom Barnett blogs on the recent debate generated by the Washington Post and NYT reporting of now Iraq is making us less safe.

"This analysis is typical intell stuff: obvious, useless, and playing into a do-nothing mind-set that here says, "Do nothing to piss off the terrorists!"

Duh! When we engage the security situation--any security situation--in the Middle East, we piss off (and create more) terrorists. We do it when we're pro-active, like in Iraq. We do it when we're passive, like our military support to Israel. And we do it when we're behind the scenes, like our intell co-op with regimes throughout the region.

So it's never been a question of whether or not we piss off terrorists (who live to be pissed off, and when there's not enough going on, they'll get jacked over a film (e.g., Van Gogh), a book (Rushdie), a speech (Benedict)--whatever)."

Capitan Ed at Captain Quarters also argues that the conclusion reached "makes the classic logical fallacy of confusing correlation with causation" citing how "Islamist radicalism didn't just start expanding in 2003" and concludes by saying "fighting terrorists and upsetting their plans for regional domination will make them mad".

Then the Counterterroism blog notes that "The 1997 NIE, the last one before the 9/11 attacks on global terrorism, mentioned bin Laden in only three sentences as a "terrorist financier" and didn't reference al-Qaeda at all". So much for historical credibility.

This debate won't get political will it?

Saturday, September 23, 2006


“Deployed” in a word that is what I’ve felt like over the last few months and why I’ve been absent from this blog since early July. Deployed also describes the software I’ve been the Project Manager (PM) for during that time as well. Let me explain my analogy to a submarine deployment and work environment.

My experience running a software project and outsourcing the development work to off-shore (India) has been a bit like being at sea, long hours under difficult conditions. Typically I worked a 12 to 18 hour day with, on average, four hours of sleep. On a good day I could go down for six, on a bad day it was about two hours in the rack. Muster for the India developer team was 11:00 pm EST (8:30 IST Bangalore) with a 1 hour conference call. Action items from that call resulted in another one to two hours of work for me and setting the day’s priorities for the developers. Roll out of the rack at 06:30 to be on watch at the client site at 07:30 am.

Each day at my client’s site involved a standard set of work expectations interrupted by a set of disaster drills. The delivered software would either blowup, meltdown or some sort of anomaly would occur to make me wish the previous deployment of the software was my last. The reality was I had a job to do and the client and my boss were dependent on me to drive through the issues and finish.

The primary responsibility I had as the PM was to ensure that the deliverables; specifications, U/I design prototypes and finally the production software were completed on time and on budget. It didn’t happen and went over on time and budget. Although I was impressed by the work ethic of my team in India, they were constantly delinquent “dink” on my project milestones. Walkthroughs of the specifications from the off-shore team required two to five passes before the client would signoff. The business knowledge and quality control of my off-shore team became a major concern. I eventually was standing in as a Business Analyst, QA Engineer and Technical Writer in addition to the PM role I signed on for. Not where I wanted to be on a fixed bid contract that had lost its entire on-site technical staff to another larger project.

Then a real causality happened. Leaving station and heading back to home port one evening I had a head on collision when another driver who decided that with limited visibility he would chance crossing two lanes of city traffic during rush hour. His gamble with a left hand turn in front of a stopped truck resulted in me finding my air bags deployed and not knowing what had just happened.

That coincided with the low point in the project. User Acceptance Testing UAT was ongoing and the level of software bugs was excessive.

Things tuned around when I as able to get my on-site technical team back from the other project. These guys put the extra effort forward to get the project back on track doing midnight calls with me and the developers in India and working extra hours at the client’s site. We identified inefficiencies and errors in the developed code and communicated them back to the off-shore developers.

Working with a team of qualified people started to become fun again. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not down on Indian programmers, two of my best on-site resources were from India. But my first deployment involving off-shore developed software created some hard lessons learned about capabilities and managing a project of this type.

Word to the wise; be prepared for some rough water when you’re deployed to a different ocean.

It’s good to be back. - LL

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Participating in a Tradition

This past week I had the honor to participate in the oldest Fourth of July parade in the country, the 221st Bristol 4th of July parade in Bristol, RI. I volunteered to drive some of my Subvet friends in the parade. Here's a little photo essay of my day with some shipmates.
(Click on each Photo for a larger view)

My vehicle in its dress red white and blues and ready for patrol.

Lead unit for the SUBVETS contingent with its hybrid boat model in tow.

One of the senior WWII Subvets and wife in attendance.
He served aboard the USS Batfish SS-310 during a number of War patrols including the patrol where they pulled a hat trick and sank three Japanese subs in three consecutive days during their sixth war patrol.

RI Senator Jack Reed and Representative Patrick Kennedy were there talking to the assembled veteran groups.

Midshipmen mustering in the hot sun before the parade.

Of course, the Air Force unit is mustering in the shade.

Marine color guard ready for action.

Unknown military unit. By the look of the uniforms possibly from Europe?

Three corner hat types were in abundance.

Marching bands in our staging area were too many to count.

Time for the Subvets to man battle stations.

Preparing to get underway!

I'm at the rudder and staying in the baffles, my elder Subvets taking point in front of our lead vehicle.

Don't give up the ship flag decorating the house above, point taken.

The sign in the photo above reads:
"America Home of the Free and Protected by the Brave"
Many people along the parade route had hand-made signs like the one above others just applauded us and said thank you.

There were only six of us US Submarine Veterans in attendance, one WWII veteran, three Diesel boat veterans, and two cold war Nuke boat veterans. We all had great day celebrating the founding of this great country.

Friday, June 30, 2006

The Science of Invertebrates

Al Gore could be the solution to global warming, WHOI knew!

The inconvenient truth is we humans don't know everything, including atmospheric and oceanic cycles. New findings are made every day that reinforce or refute Al's current enviromental crusade. Mr. Gore seems to think that man is the cause of and can do something about the approximately one degree increase +-.4 degrees in global temperatures over the last century.

BTW, I really don't think Al Gore is a semi-transparent, barrel-shaped marine animal. At least the marine animal part.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

In the Rain - Fly Navy

Every year I take my son to the Rhode Island National Guard Air Show at Quonset Point, RI. Each year we get to stroll through the static displays of aircraft, eat greasy carnival style food and watch aerobatic and demonstration flights. The climax of the air show is either the Navy's Blue Angles or the Air Force Thunderbirds in alternate years. The Air Show was ths past weekend and this year it was the Thunderbirds turn.

Weather is a big factor for the success of the Air Show, light winds and clear skies being ideal. Not so this year though, we had fog, a constant light rain and a low cloud ceiling. At most I expected to see only the small diehard aerobatic planes flying and no jets.

By the time my son and I got there the crowd was mostly aircraft enthusiasts in ponchos hoping for the skies to clear, which didn't happen.

The RI National Guard put on a great show with their C-130Js, Blackhawks and Special Forces demonstrating short takeoffs, landing with combat team insertions.

U.S. Air Force Photo of a Navy F-18

At the end of the day the only thing left was the jets, lot of nice Air Force hardware A-10s, F-16s, etc. but no, weather was too marginal and the ceiling to low at a few hundred feet.

The only jet to venture out and into the heavy soup air was a single U.S. Navy F-18 Hornet and he did a killer low level show. The entire time the F-18 did it low level passes down the runway it was bleeding vapor the air was that thick with water. A good 30% of the time the aircraft was barely visible in the clouds. Twice he came close to if not breaking the sound barrier with the classic sphere of vapor around the leading edge of the wings accompanied by a small BOOM!, way cool!

Where was the Air Force? Back in the hanger.


Saturday, June 24, 2006

Where is Your SSN Floating Off To?

That's the Social Security Number SSN!

Not only does the VA have cyber security problems but now its the Navy who has Sailor's SSNs and personal information floating around the internet.

From a Wired News piece today: Sailors' Data Posted on the Web

WASHINGTON -- The Navy has begun a criminal investigation after Social Security numbers and other personal data for 28,000 sailors and family members were found on a civilian website.

The Navy said Friday the information was in five documents and included people's names, birth dates and Social Security numbers. Navy spokesman Lt. Justin Cole would not identify the website or its owner, but said the information had been removed. He would not provide any details about how the information ended up on the site.

If the warships side of the Navy leaked like the administrative side we'd have a lot of iron resting on the bottom. So who discovered the leak of information on Navy personnel to the internet, the operational Navy of course.

The Naval Criminal Investigative Service is investigating the breach. The initial discovery was made by the Navy Cyber Defense Operations Command, which routinely monitors the internet for such problems.

Who in the government is in charge of cyber security anyway, anyone, anyone? Apparently the federal government is aware that Identity Theft can be a costly and serious problem, imagine if the victim held a security clearance.

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Two Sailors - My Dad and Me

I'm a Navy brat; my birth certificate is from the U.S Naval Hospital Yokosuka, Japan and my father was career Navy enlisted. Even though both my dad and I served in the U.S. Navy we had completely different experiences. You see my father was a Seabee and I was a Submariner. He served 22 years as a CE Construction Electrician and I did six as an ET Electronics Technician. He was in the hot end of the cold war, Korean War and three tours in Vietnam; I was in cold end doing strategic deterrent patrols in the dark reaches of the Atlantic.

Near the end of the Vietnam War my parents separated and my dad retired from the Navy. He later remarried a beautiful lady from the Philippines and they had three daughters. Dad is in his 70s now fully retired from a second 30 year career in civil service and I rarely get to see him.

My childhood memory of my dad is of a man who was tough as nails, a John Wayne in The Fighting Seabees kind of character, as corny as that sounds. In those days dad didn'’t like to repeat himself, he told you to do something once and expected it to be done. If you asked him a question and his answer was no, it had a distinctly military even Marine drill instructor sound to it. "Negative son the geedunk is off limits till after dinner."”

Dad rarely talks about his Navy career and the two wars he served during even though he had a chest full of ribbons, and a sleeve length of gold four year service strips. But while I was in the Navy I did get him to tell me a couple of Seabee sea stories, probably during a one of my visits between duty stations.

Two stories my dad told me was how he was slightly wounded twice in Korea. Once on foot patrol of a reportedly cleared area he had a North Korean soldier jump him from behind and put a bayonet to his throat. He reacted quickly by thrusting his head back and catching his assailant on the bridge of the nose with the back of his helmet. This reaction stunned them long enough for my dad to use his bayonet on and kill the North Korean "“woman"” soldier. It only took a few stitches of a needle and thread from a sewing kit to close the several inch long cut on his throat, he still has the scar to this day.

The other time he was injured was during a mortar attack. He was working on a generator barge when the attack started. He fell to the deck with his hand between the barge and dock. The concussion of one of the mortar rounds pushed the dock and barge together crushing my dad'’s thumb in the process. That injury is also still visible today.

The only Vietnam story my dad told me was this. During the Tet offensive the Vietcong had penetrated the parameter of the air base he was working at. My dad was on the roof of a building with a young Marine who had been in country for only a month or so. One of the Vietcong had managed to get on the building's roof and was approaching my dad and the Marine when my dad'’s 45 jammed. The green Marine froze and didn'’t react, my dad had to take the Marine'’s M-16 and kill the enemy before their position was overrun.

Writing this it's hard to believe my dad did these things; he has mellowed considerably over the years. It's been a while, but I seem to recall at least one Presidential Unit Citation in his ribbons but have never got any stories relating to his awards. No Purple Heart though, he talked his CO out of putting him up for the hand injury because he felt it was his own stupidity that caused it.

My service was not as gritty as my dad'’s, it was technical and tedious. The dangers I faced in the 1980s on SSBNs were less individual and more operational. We were chased by the Soviets a few times but knew that by then it was a game of information gathering and tracking. To go hostile on an operation SSBN meant the unthinkable was happening.

Stealth, being on station and operational readiness was the name of our game and we did it well. The stories I have to tell my son are ones computational calculations of Lat and Long, of pounds per square inch of sea pressure and weapons readiness drills.

You didn'’t make rate in the Seabees as fast as the technical rates did a decade later, both my father and I ended our Navy service as E6s. But in my eyes Dad will always get my respect for his service and his commitment as a Navy man.

Happy Fathers Day.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Damage Control Soccer

What if World Cup Soccer was played in the DC trainer.

Monday, June 05, 2006

Sub watching season in Southern New England

Had this sitting over my desk for years and it always gave me chuckle when it became the post memorial day tourist season here in Southern New England.

If you don't get the joke run down this list and check out items #9 and #11. Number nine is where I live and number 11 is close to where a far amount of HY-80/100 is berthed. -LL

Friday, June 02, 2006

Video - Subs in action

Yaaa Yaa, I know Lubber is doing that video thing again!

This one has been around for a while but I still think it's cool...

Monday, May 29, 2006

Memorial Day 2006 - Remembering Submariners

According to the Department of Veteran Affairs we are losing our WWII veterans at a rate of over 1,000 a day. As with every generation that is tested by conflict the men and women of that generation have much to pass along to those who follow. Today in parades and ceremonies throughout this country these walking pages of history demonstrate a sense of honor, duty and commitment by remembering their follow shipmates and comrades who made the ultimate sacrifice. A sacrifice made in defense of the ideas and principles embodied by their country, The United States Of America.

This Memorial Day may be one of the last in which the U.S Submarine Force has any surviving Congressional Metal of Honor recipients, the remaining hero being Rear Admiral Eugene Bennett Fluckey who is currently struggling with a prolonged illness. The following are the recipients of the Congressional Metal of Honor while serving in the U.S Submarine Service.

WWI – Congressional Metal of Honor recipient
Torpedoman Second Class Henry Breault

WWII - Congressional Metal of Honor recipients
Captain John Cromwell (awarded posthumously)
Commander Sam Dealey (awarded posthumously)
Commander Eugene Fluckey
Commander Howard Gilmore (awarded posthumously)
Commander Richard O'Kane
Commander Lawson P. Ramage
Commander George Street

The above recipients of the Congressional Medal of Honor are representative of the submariner’s heroism and sacrifice. We can document the sacrifice in sheer numbers of boats and men lost, but by the nature of submarine operations we can only speculate on their heroism, much of which is lost in the great ocean depths.

If you wish to get a sense of the commitment the U.S Submarine Force has shown in it’s 100 plus year history I recommend visiting the “On Eternal Patrol” website and browse through the both peacetime and wartime listings of both Lost Boats and Crews.

Much is owed to this a small segment of the military and Navy who remain on eternal patrol.

Monday, May 22, 2006

A Little Blog Maintenance

If anyone really noticed I pulled the last post due to the overhead it took to load. I have a fast broadband connection and it took a painfully long time to load at times. It was a cool wave effect you could add to a picture but not worth the load time.

Updated my links to include The Cook Shack to my submariners blogroll.

Updated my link to Chaotic Synpatic Activity to his new site.

On a personal note I started a new job two weeks ago that requires me to travel a bit. I anticipate my blog and news reading to go down and subsequently posting will probably be about once a week at best. Maybe I can make put more effort into the weekly posts than my recent fascination with web video content.

Best - LL

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Polaris Program - Book Find

A couple of months back my wife after visiting her parents came home with a book her mother thought I would enjoy. The book is titled "Adventure in Partnership The Story of Polaris" and had a limited distribution when produced in the mid 1960s.

The book came from her grandfather "Pa" who worked for Electric Boat in Groton back in the 60s as a QA engineer. I helped clean out Pa's basement in Stonington, CT just before he passed away at age 92 about a year ago. His basement resembled a museum to machining. I wished I talked with him more about his career before he left us.

I thought the book contained many interesting photos inside, below is a letter I found inside and a tiny sample of the 250+ Polaris program photos.

Department of the Navy Letter I found in Pa's book.

Commander and Chief at the time enjoying himself

SSBN SINS ally - Brings back memories for this former NavET

Torpedomen hard at work - so that's why they call it a Torpedo Skid.

This was for Pa, you may not be here to read this, but thanks for your years of hard work that helped make me safe when I rode SSBNs. -LL

Saturday, May 13, 2006

The Evil Empire - Redux

This one is for my friend Ken heading to the 43rd International Submariners Convention starting in Moscow May 22 and ending in St Petersburg May 28.

Be safe comrade...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

It's a MAD MAD Mullah's World

I'm stealing the visual commentary idea from WillyShake at Unconsidered Trifles.

Would you trust the theocratic rulers of Iran with nuclear technology and potentially nuclear weapons?

I wouldn't, no matter how catchy a tune they play for the world!

Monday, May 08, 2006

Video - Bunch of Boomer Yo Yos

Bothenook asked a question recently over at his blog "how did you keep your sanity underway?". In comments I said I enjoyed reading novels, others had different ways of dealing with the boredom of a long patrol.

Apparently if you're on the USS Maine (SSBN-741) patrols can make you go a little yoyo.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Iran’s Strait of Hormuz Submarine Strategy

This week U.S. continues to try to corner Iran at the UN on its nuclear ambitions. Diplomatic maneuvers in the UN may bring about a resolution imposing sanctions and opening the option of military action. At issue is Iran’s continued defiance to end uranium enrichment a key step in acquiring the ability to produce nuclear weapons.

On April 11 Iranian leaders celebrated their successes in uranium enrichment with a ceremony that was oddly reminiscent cold war megalomaniac states antics, video link here. They even produced a soviet style propaganda film on April 12th touting the state’s nuclear projects, video link here.

Then on April 17 Iranian Army Chief of Joint Staff General Abdorrahim Musavi claimed the following on Iranian TV: "We make our submarines ourselves, and we make them in a way that will serve us in battle with the enemy... with America. In other words, these vessels are not the kind about which the other side gets information even before us. We work on equipment that is locally made, and which is compatible with our own tactics and training.” video link here and found on YouTube below:

Indeed Austin Bay speculates on his blog that Iran’s main strategy, if U.S. military action should occur, is to shut down the strategic choke point Strait of Hormuz to shipping. Austin Bay questions possible tactic of an Iranian “submarine bastion” below:

A large torpedo hit below the waterline is a big threat. The US Navy has devoted a lot of thought and training time to countering Iran’s diesel submarines, including submarines operating from “submarine bastions.” A US Navy reader might send me an “official definition” of a sub bastion, but here’s my on-the-fly description. A sub bastion is an undersea area surrounded by mines and sensors, usually located in coastal waters. The sub hides inside the “bastion” — waiting to take a shot (with torpedoes or anti-ship missiles) at ships approaching the bastion or attempting to sweep the mines. A bastion-builder like Iran could site anti- aircraft missiles on land to protect the bastion from anti-submarine warfare aircraft. Yes– a sub inside a bastion is operating in a restricted space, but the sub is “quiet and floating” –making it more difficult to detect. The bastion-builder might even have a few “decoy” subs in the bastion — electronic devices or even ballasted metal tanks that fake a submarine’s operating signatures. The odds are very good that US Navy or Royal Navy anti-submarine hunters will eventually find and kill the sub inside the bastion; but the bastion defense makes the hunt riskier and potentially expensive. Sinking a US Navy capital ship gives Iran a propaganda victory. A slick diesel sub commander operating in a coastal bastion will undoubtedly have several “paths of retreat” to a cove or harbor. The gambit here would be to frustrate coalition sub hunters as long as possible, draw them into the bastion’s minefields, draw surface craft into an anti-ship missile ambush (or aircraft into a SAM ambush) then pull out and live to fight another day.
Just threatening to close the Straits spikes oil prices and raises marine insurance rates — which are diplomatic victories of a sort for Tehran’s mullahs.
When interviewed recently one W. Patrick Lang, formerly the chief Middle East analyst at the Defense Intelligence Agency remarked of possible Iranian attempt to shut down the Strait of Hormuz “Iran might surprise the U.S. by sinking a tanker in the gulf or something and then the U.S. Navy would beat the bejesus out of them, but they could cause a spike in oil prices for a month or two”.

Conventional wisdom appears to be that in a hot conflict the Iranian submarine strategy of area denial would be a shot term propaganda victory at best but more likely a series of failed martyrdom operations. Surface and subsurface ASW operations could be difficult in the short term but given the operational constraints of Iran’s conventional submarines (endurance and range) time and technology would be in the U.S. Navy’s favor.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Urine the Navy Now or Not

I start a new job on Monday and went for an employer drug screening last week. No big deal, but it brought back memories of random drug tests in the Navy. I must have filled a 55 gallon drum with piss during my service. OK maybe closer to 5 gallons but we were still tested a lot back in the 1980’s, at least once a month when not on patrol and sometimes even then if patrol included a rare liberty port call.

The random testing usually went like this. Show up for muster one morning and everyone whose service number ended with some "“randomly selected"” set of numbers would be tested, both Officer and Enlisted. Although, sometimes random meant the whole crew was tested. The ship's Corpsman, some poor JO and an unlucky Chief would get the pee watch. If you were to be tested, but didn'’t have to go, you drank water until you did. Then in a carefully orchestrated dance of paperwork and head calls the deed was done. List your over the counter meds, sample signed and witnessed and off to the lab it went.

Some sailors complained that the tests were inaccurate and you could get "popped on the piss test" by a false positive. I remember lots of rumors like don't eat poppy seed muffins, take certain over the counter meds or attend music venues where you can'’t see the stage due to the smoke. But in reality you were safe if you didn'’t do drugs.

Getting busted meant Captain'’s Mast, loss of at least one pay grade, forfeiture of some remaining pay and of course banned from submarine duty. It was off to skimmer world for the pot head, usually with someone commenting, "“Seaman Jones will be peeling potatoes on an oiler out of Adak in two weeks"”. A second offence on skimmers meant a dishonorable discharge and you could never get a security clearance, work for a defense contractor or the federal government. Although, sometimes the dishonorable could revert to a general discharge if the offending sailor had an otherwise clean record.

I saw some mediocre sailors go the way of urinalysis positives and some good sailors as well. But I could never understand why after working through sub school, pipeline schools, making rate and qualifying in submarines, someone could be so stupid. Literally they pissed all that work away, it made no sense. Maybe it was a cultural leftover from that whole me generation peace love hippy drug culture thing that happened in the late 60s early 70’s I don'’t know.

On the positive side, during my service in the Navy I saw a steady decline in people coming up positive on the urinalysis to the point where it seemed extremely rare. That trend of declining use continued for 20 years from 1981 when testing started until about 2000 when drug use detected through testing started to again increase. I couldn'’t find any recent data so I don'’t know if any increased testing stopped or reversed the increases in drug use reported between 2000 and 2002. I also don't know if the stats were different for the submarine community, I think we were one of the first to be tested routinely.

Marijuana was the problem in 1980s but from the list of news on this site Ecstasy seems to be the big concern today.

Some people say it'’s somewhat degrading to submit to a drug urinalysis test, but so is taking off your shoes and opening your bags for the passenger screening of a commercial flight. After all we all can'’t be privileged U.S. Congressmen.

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Lost Boats Memorial Service 4/29/06

USSVI Rhode Island Base - honors lost submarines of the cold war with memorial service.

This past weekend I participated in a small memorial service for the submarines and crews lost during the cold war. The service was held aboard the Russian Juliett 484 (K-77) submarine museum in Providence RI.

Tolling of the bell was performed for both the USS Thresher (SSN-593) and USS Scorpion (SSN-589) as well as the Soviet submarines K-129, K-8, K-219, K-278 and the Russian submarine Kursk K-141.

Photos of our small tribute to those on eternal patrol.

"I believe it is the duty of every man to act as though the fate of the world depends on them. Surely no one man can do it all. But, one man CAN make a difference.
-- Adm. H.G. Rickover

"Submariners are a special brotherhood, either all come to the surface or no one does. On a submarine, the phrase all for one and one for all is not just a slogan, but reality.
-- VADM Rudolf Golosov of the Russian Navy

United States Submarine Veterans, Inc - Rhode Island Base

Saturday, April 29, 2006

USS Batfish (SS-310) Museum - Boat Photos

Boat photos from the USS Batfish (SS-310) Museum Muskogee, OK
(click on each photo for a larger view)

(All Photos Courtesy Don Bonn - USSVI Rhode Island Base)

Additional Info via external links:
The Offical USS Batfish (SS 310) Website

Naval Historical Center - USS Batfish (SS 310) page

Maritime Quest - USS Batfish (SS 310) page

Wikipeda entry on the USS Batfish (SS 310)

USS Batfish (SS-310) Museum - Walk of Honor

Photos from the Walk of Honor USS Batfish (SS-310) Museum Muskogee, OK
(Click on each photo for a larger view)

Batfish Crew Memorial

Below are photos of the Walk of Honor, each of the 52 U.S. submarines loss in WWII is represented by a plaque.

Lost Boats Plaque

R-12 Plaque from the Walk of Honor
(All Photos courtesy of Don Bonn -USSVI Rhode Island Base)

Additional Info:
External link to the Batfish Memorial Foundation.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Entertainment for Nukes and Computer Geeks

If you're a self-confessed computer geek or a closet one for that matter you'll probably enjoy this video.

Pipe Dream
Always wondered what free electrons do in a submarine reactor compartment after it's buttoned up and goes critical for the first time.

And for the real computer geeks who want a more pure experience go to this link.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

No Thanks, I'll pass on the Submarine Sandwich!

From “Hunger Striker Protests Electric Boat Inspections”.

A 43-year-old Bremerton man is entering the 30th day of a hunger strike today in hopes of prompting his former employer to address his concerns about inspection procedures.

Neil "Toby" Stanley was laid off in March after spending 18 years as an inspector and painter for Electric Boat, the Navy’s primary contractor for building submarines.

What is the former EB inspector’s “beef”? Stanley says "They’re playing a paperwork game of take it from one inspector and give it to another inspector." His apparent complaint is an ethics one in that he accuses the supervisors of allowing or even encouraging inspectors to sign off on “potentially” substandard work.

The article doesn’t detail what type of inspector Neil Stanley was or if he identified any specific work as substandard as part of his complaint. It does say that Mr. Stanley was a painter before becoming an inspector and then sometime after filing the complaint was transferred back to his old job as a painter. I’d be concerned here, if say, his background was as a radiographer, pipe-fitter or even machinist, but a painter. Was he a painting inspector? I’m inclined to believe that EB doesn’t make painters inspectors of SubSafe systems, especially if that inspector goes back to being a painter.

Where is the Union in all of this? This is the kind of stuff they eat up. Groton is unionized Quonset is not; don’t know about EB in Bremerton.

Additionally having been through new construction at EB Groton and part of the Navy’s own inspection process, I saw lots of un-sat and rework orders. The Navy has the ultimate buy off on systems. Don’t know if the standard is the same for conversion work.

Electric Boat’s spokesman Bob Hamilton said that EB investigated Stanley’s ethics complaint twice, once at PSNS and once with an independent inquiry from Electric Boat’s headquarters in Groton, Conn. Both investigations found Mr. Stanley’s complaints without merit.

Not to sound callous here but Mr. Stanley has fallen on lean times lately. EB recently cut some fat at PSNS and Stanley was part of that layoff, having lost seniority with his job changes.

If his complaints are legitimate I hope he succeeds in getting attention on a problem. But, I’m a little skeptical and so far seeing this as some kind of employee verses boss food fight over paperwork and procedures. A hunger strike sounds a little extreme if no one else has come to the table with similar complaints.

The shipyard is a tough place to work full of gritty characters and after being told his complaints have no merit then loosing his job this could also be just a case of sour grapes.

Update 4/27/06: Seattle King5 News “Former worker claims sub inspections were sloppy” (h/t: TheSubReport)

I got an answer to my previous question, Mr. Stanley was a structural steel inspector which makes me take his allegations more serious. Especially if he was involved in any non-destructive testing of welds and steel quality.

Former structural steel inspector Toby Stanley says he doesn't trust the work done on the Ohio, and the work now being done on the U.S.S. Michigan, now in the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. They are receiving the same conversion performed by Electric Boat, a longtime builder of American subs.

It’s hard to tell from the editing of the interview but the following comment sounds like it’s pointed at the work preformed at PSNS in Bremerton, WA more than at Electric Boat in general.

“But submarines are a different animal, we have a different criteria we go by, and different standards that are followed,” Stanley said.

Stanley originally worked for EB in Groton, CT but moved to Bremerton three years ago.

Toby Stanley is committed to his goal of bring this issue forward, commenting: "In spite of themselves, I'm going to make them better shipbuilders."

Mr. Stanley’s hunger strike and the local Seattle media attention appears to have got the Navy’s attention. The Navy now says that Mr. Stanley's case is being overseen by the Supervisor of Shipbuilding in Groton, CT.

If there is something to Stanley's concerns the Navy being the shipbuilder's customer should be motivated to get it right.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Mystery Item

Found this "sucker" in my basement in a pile of old keys during a spring cleaning "drill".

Mystery Item???

Any submariners want to guess what it is?

Friday, April 21, 2006

Antarctica, Chilly Willy and a One Man Submarine

Fellow submariner, blogger and warm climate creature Gus Van Horn has a recent post “Cool Antarctica Stuff” about the movie The March of the Penguins and other cool Antarctica stuff. Reading his post brought back memories of Operation Deep Freeze and a neighbor of mine named William.

Operation Deep Freeze was part of the U.S government's scientific research and exploration effort in Antarctica. The Navy use to support Operation Deep Freeze out of NAS Quonset Point, RI with Seabees, C-130 aircraft and Huey helicopters up until Quonset was closed in 1972. There was even a little museum on base complete with stuffed Penguins, Odd crystal rock formations that looked like eggs and artifacts from early Antarctic expeditions.

William, Willy or Bill was a huey helo mechanic and had the good fortune to make two tours to Operation Deep Freeze and not the other effort at the time in SE Asia. Bill hated the cartoon Chilly Willy, I don’t know if it was the name or if he just had enough of the Antarctic and penguins. Being a smart-ass 13 year old I would on occasion call him Chilly Willy, which would result in my mini-bike not getting fixed when it broke down, Bill being my go to mechanic.

Anyway, if you remember that OLD cartoon Chilly Willy here’s a link to a 1965 episode titled “UNDER SEA DOGS” (10mb .wmv) complete with a one man nuclear submarine.

Submarine Commander Shortsnot kinda looks like one of my old COs….. once downloaded it’s about a 5 ½ min run time, enjoy.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Old Commute... Gone

The old Jamestown bridge over the west passage of Narragansett Bay was finally demolished with 75lbs of explosives. NYT article with link to RI local news video found here.

(Photo Source RI DOT)

Spent a few years driving over the old bridge twice daily on my commute to work and back, then the new bridge shown "still standing" in the last still shot.

The old Jamestown bridge was two very narrow lanes with a open steel grate roadway at the top span. It was not a fun drive in the dead of winter during freezing rain and snow in my overpowered Mustang GT.

Swearing like a Submarine Sailor on Helium

WARNING: Bad language used....

I got a laugh out this video titled "An Encounter with Hypothermia-Induced Tourette Syndrome". Length 7 minutes.

Even marine biologist diving on helium and passing through a thermocline at 320 feet start to talk like submarine sailors.

Iran and Oil as a Weapon

Iran’s recent naval exercises in the Strait of Hormuz was, if not a public relations stunt for the hometown crowd, then a demonstration (however lame) of their ability to disrupt shipping in the Persian Gulf. In as much as this was a clear threat to use “Oil as a Weapon” against the west and an example of more Middle Eastern bravado. The backdrop to all this show of force is the showdown over Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

A country that is the world’s forth largest exporter of oil needing nuclear power with all its development costs and waste disposal issues would be laughable if not for the suspected real intention. Iran has no other purpose in developing a nuclear power program and to enrich uranium than to push itself closer to developing nuclear weapons grade materials. Those who don’t believe that Iran’s nuclear power program is a fa├žade put forward on the road to nuclear weapons need only look to the history of similar state programs in Iraq and North Korea. If the current Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the ruling mullah theocracy get what its wants, that accomplishment could be a disaster waiting to happen. And waiting out the Americans is what they intend:

Ahamdinejad will pursue his provocations. On Monday, he was as candid as ever: "To those who are angry with us, we have one thing to say: be angry until you die of anger!"

His adviser, Hassan Abassi, is rather more eloquent. "The Americans are impatient," he says, "at the first sight of a setback, they run away. We, however, know how to be patient. We have been weaving carpets for thousands of years.

The use of oil as a weapon by either Iran with production shutdown and aggressive actions against tanker traffic or the UN through sanctions and embargo will create shortages and resulting higher prices in the short term. But the world economy is dynamic and as the price point per million BTU of energy rises other technologies are likely to fill the gap.

Over the long term the use of oil as a political weapon will become less and less effective and Middle Eastern countries like Iran may learn a new concept “disruptive technology”. Indeed, disruptive technologies to oil production may be right around the corner.

One example of a technology that has a disruptive potential comes from Professor Alan Goldman and his team Rutgers University “Coal-to-Diesel Breakthrough Could Cut Oil Imports”. Professor Goldman team's breakthrough technology employs a pair of catalytic chemical reactions that operate in tandem, one of which captured the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. This dynamic chemical duo revamps the Fischer-Tropsch (FT) process for generating synthetic diesel fuel from coal to new levels of efficiency. How is this significant?

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, our 286 billion tons of coal in the ground translate into energy reserves 40 times those of oil. Diesel engines provide the power to move 94 percent of all freight in the U.S. and 95 percent of all transit buses and heavy construction machinery, consuming approximately 56 billion gallons of diesel fuel per year.

Another disruptive technology could be the effective tapping of an entirely new and unused carbon fuel source, methane hydrates. From a reprint of the UK Guardian article with the usual global warming spin:

Ray Boswell, who heads the hydrate programme at the US department of energy's national energy technology laboratory, said the US was determined to be the first to mine the resource."Commercially viable production is definitely realistic within a decade. The world is investing in hydrates, and one reason for us to do this is to maintain our leadership position in this emerging technology."

Scientists believe that the vast methane hydrate deposits scattered under the world's seabed and Arctic permafrost are greater than in all of the known reserves of coal, oil and gas put together.

Yet another potential technology is using a Thermal Conversion Process or TCP to convert agricultural wastes into oil by mimicking the earth’s natural geothermal process. The company Changing World Technologies, Inc. (CWT) founded in August 1997 is a pioneer in TCP research. From the CWT website:

Agricultural wastes alone make up approximately 50% of the total yearly waste generation (6 billion tons) in the U.S. With the TCP, the 6 billion tons of agricultural waste could be effectively converted into 4 billion barrels of oil. Realizing this incremental domestic energy production is clearly in our national interest, because it ensures greater national energy independence. At the same time, this production provides a permanent solution to serious environmental problems caused by current waste disposal practices.

As world oil prices exceed $70 dollars a barrel new technologies as well as new investment in oil exploration may reduce or even eliminate any long term economic blackmail that the mad mullahs of Iran may feel they have.

I’m hoping that one if not all these technologies mature and become economically viable, after all Iran without its oil revenue or the potential of nuclear weapons would be nothing more than a land of patient rug producers.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Spring a time for renewal

With Spring and Easter upon us I'm ready for the promise of renewal they both bring.

This past fall and winter has been one of the hardest I can remember, filled with the emotion of loss and death. No single event that we all don't have to deal with from time to time but a string of them that has put great stress on my family. No details here only to say that my kids, ages 4 and 6, have been to as many funerals this past year as I have in the 48 years before.

As evidenced in the previous paragraph I was feeling a bit gloomy so I took the time to feel that sense of spring and renewal and took these recent photos in my yard.

Yes, all is well and spring is here....

If we had no winter, the spring would not be so pleasant: if we did not sometimes taste of adversity, prosperity would not be so welcome.
Anne Bradstreet, 'Meditations Divine and Moral,' 1655