Tuesday, January 31, 2006

My first Meme - The Fours

I've never participated in a meme before but I thought I'd give it a try after I saw a couple of the UltraQuietNoMore crew Gus and Alex do it. So here's my shot.

Four Jobs I've Had in My Life

Navigation Electronic Tech
Software Programmer
Computer Systems Administrator

Four Movies I Could Watch Over and Over, and Have

Top Gun
The Hunt for Red October
The African Queen
Classic Mel Brooks Comedies (Blazing Saddles, Young Frankenstein, etc)

Four Places I Have Lived

Navy Brat (Yokosuka Japan, Port Hueneme CA, Keflavik Iceland ,Nantucket MA) all before age 10
Charleston, SC
Bangor, WA
Wakefield, RI - Now

Four TV Shows I Love to Watch

Sienfeld - last show I watched on a regular basis
The History Channel
Jay Leno and the Tonight Show - on occasion

Four Places I Have Been on Vacation

Key West, FL
Montego Bay, Jamaica
Toronto, Canada

Four Websites I Visit Daily

Google News
The Sub Report
WSJ - Opinion Journal
Wired News

Four Favorite Foods

Italian any style
Traditional New England Seafood (Cod, Flounder, Tuna Steak, Lobster, Clams, Chowder)
Chinese takeout
Stick to your ribs southern cooking (Buttermilk Biscuits, Chicken and dumplings, black eyed peas)

Four Favorite Beers

Corona Extra (with lime of course)
Sam Adams Ale
New Amsterdam Ale

Four Places I Would Rather Be Right Now

Dublin Ireland
Bridgetown Barbados
The Island of Bora Bora

Four Cars I Have Owned

1976 Ford Ranchro
1984 Ford Escort Diesel - 50+ mpg wish I had it now
1987 Mustang 5.0 GT Black with T-Roof
2001 Ford F-150 4X4 Supercrew

Four People I Tag With This Meme
Like Alex and Gus I prefer not to tag anyone. Hope I did this meme thing right!

Monday, January 30, 2006

Giant Octopus Attacks ROV

Giant Pacific octopus weighing about 100 pounds attacks a SubOceanic Sciences Canada ROV off the west coast of Vancouver Island.

Google Video

Taiwanese Submarine Video

Google Video

Strange what you can find on the web.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Enlisted Naval Aviator - Pilot Program

The US Navy has started a test program to place applicants from the enlisted ranks into aircraft cockpits as pilots and naval flight officers. It's a Pilot program in both senses of the word, only 30 sailors will be selected for the program and commissioned as Chief Warrant Officers (CWO) Naval Aviators.

The primary intent is to create flying specialists unencumbered by the traditional career paths of the unrestricted line (URL) community. A secondly goal of the program would be to provide another avenue of opportunity for the enlisted community.

P-3 (Source: US Navy)

There are some restrictions to the program, CWO's will be limited to the Patrol (VP), Electronic Attack (VQ(P) and VQ(T)) and the HSC and HSL helicopter working aviation communities, no Topgun fighter slots. Enlisted Sailors from the Nuclear, Naval Special Warfare(SEAL/SWCC), Naval Special Operations (EOD/Diver) and the Master-at-Arms communities are not eligible.

Helo Transfer (Source: US Navy)

The program is open to enlisted grades E-5 through E-7 who if selected would have to be commissioned before their 27th birthday, have obtained at least an Associate degree, are physically fit and pass the Standard Aviation Battery test.

Once the CWO's receive their wings they are obligated to 8 years of service for pilots or 6 for naval flight officers.

It has been sixty five years since the Navy had an enlisted to pilot program with the last enlisted naval aviator retiring Jan 31, 1981.

If you're not a submarine nuke maybe you can get your wings as well as dolphins. Applications are due to Navy Personnel Command (PERS-432M) no later than March 31.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

The QDR and China's Submarines

The Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) is due out on Feb 6 and it looks from initial press reports (here and here) the Pentagon has decided move more Navy assets to the western Pacific.

Jan. 25 (Bloomberg) -- The Pentagon has directed the Navy to assume a ``greater presence'' in the western Pacific by adding at least one aircraft carrier and five nuclear submarines over the next decade, according to a draft of the Pentagon's review of strategy and forces.

The increase will put half the Navy's aircraft carriers and 60 percent of its submarine fleet in the Pacific and is largely driven by the Pentagon's concern over China's increased military might, according to a congressional defense analyst.

But QDR recommendations also look to increase submarine production, also reported in (Bloomberg):

As part of the increased presence, the review recommends that the Pentagon in 2012 increase production of the General Dynamics Corp.-Northrop Grumman Corp. Virginia-class attack submarine to two annually from the current rate of one a year.

I read (here) that China's military buildup is hollow when it comes to submarine capabilities. However, if the QDR recommended submarine production increases are true then the Pentagon sees a challenge coming over the procurement horizon.

The Chinese in the meantime have started to take delivery on the approximately $3.4 Billion worth of Russian built Sovremenny-class missile destroyers and eight Kilo-class submarines ordered in 2002. Both a brand new Kilo diesel-electric submarine and a Sovremenny missile destroyer were delivered in December.

Of course the best anti-submarine platform is another submarine, but in the interim I guess one of these will fill the gap until 688i's and Virginia's can make their way to Pearl, Guam and points west.

Update 01/26/06 10:00 : DOD 1/25/06 press release - QDR Dominated by Uncertain, Unpredictable World

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Docent Duty

  • A lecturer or tour guide in a museum.
Back last spring I posted an entry called Volunteer for the Soviet Submarine Service!!! where I solicited help in restoring an old cold war adversary the K-77 in Providence, RI. I haven't blogged any about my experience at the Juliett, affectionately known as the "Rusty Rusky", but I thought it was about time I added some thoughts and observations.

Juliett 484 (K-77) Museum dock Providence, RI

What I'm interested in describing is my impromptu enlistment as docent and submarine artifact, the people I've meet and the friends I've made while volunteering during the spring and summer.

First is the Rhode Island Base of the USSVI Submarine veterans organization. After visiting the Juliett museum last year I found this group of brothers of the phin and joined their organization. I feel like a n.u.b. being the only T-hull sailor amongst men with experience going back to WWII but I'm also honored to be a part of such fine group of people. Our January meeting is coming up tomorrow and it's on the Juliett. Should be like being in the shipyard again, meeting in a construction trailer while it's cold as a witch's tit outside. All before going down to the boat to talk about repairs and maintenance.

During the spring and summer I put in a small part of my weekends volunteering on the Juliett. That's when I met Ric Hedman, the manager of the Juliett museum during the summer season. Ric is a submariner, past USSVI base Commander of Seattle base and author of the best collection of 1900 to 1940 submarine photos on the web Through The Looking Glass. Ric also helped restore the Foxtrot Class Russian boat now a museum in San Diego. He taught me a lot about the way the Russians designed and built their boats.

I volunteered to get my hands dirty and learn what I could about the Russian sub. It's been a kick to have free run on something that was so mysterious when I was on active duty twenty five years ago. Even though Ric wanted to get things cleaned and fixed on the "Rusty Rusky" he always emphasized that it was a museum and most customers were looking to tour a submarine despite the lineage, hence my enlistment as occasional docent.

Most of the time I would be working on board when someone on a tour, guided or self guided, would stop by and start asking me questions. The usual tourist questions about the sub, how big, how deep, how fast, at sea how long, crew complement, weapons, etc. But occasionally the first question would be "What boats were you on?" - Alert One, Alert One another bubblehead or submarine enthusiast is on board - this pushbutton's bilge therapy session is done for at lease an hour! Don't get me wrong I found these to be the most enjoyable conversations.

There's a rundown of the people that fit the submarine enthusiast category:

Former enlisted sailors from a variety of 41 for freedom Boomers, 637 and 688 Fast Attacks. A-Gangers, NavETs and Sonar Techs always looking at the little details and shaking their heads in disbeilef at the way the Russians did things.

A former Officer who was an XO on a T-AG ship and worked on the SOSUS system back in the 70's. For some reason he was interested in the sonar shack and the sub's propulsion system.

Yardbird on loan to EB from NNS looking for the reduction gears (his bailiwick). Sad to say the Juliett has a direct drive system, although he wasn't disappointed and was bringing back a co-worker the next day.

A former mustang Navigator who served on two Boomers and started as a NavET.

A military family of a former Sub driver dad, F-14 Tomcat driver son and two DOD employed daughters.

A family of boat sailors, father was a retired A-Ganger, son number 2 was attending sub school and son number one was a Sonar Tech (SS) who had recently returned from the Russian AS-28 mini-sub rescue on the Kamchatka peninsula. Would have been interesting to have had a longer conversation with him about his Kamchatka adventure. All I remember him relating to me was he got some souvenirs and saw an Akula putting to sea.

Now for a couple of non-military tourist observations:

One interesting group was three of the crew from the schooner Amistad, sailing ship of the movie fame. They were interested in the historical aspects of the Juliett, where it had served, how it was acquired, etc. All but one old salt, he was busy reading all the Russian equipment labels. Turns out he was Bulgarian and I think the Engineer of the Amistad. I now know where the Kingston valve actuators are in the engine room.

I saw a number of young American men bringing Russian girls on dates to the "Rusty Rusky", what is up with that? Most of those Russian girls look fairly disinterested in the sub. I'm thinking if the tables were turned these guys would be thinking WTF if she dragged him off to a Russian beauty parlor filled with 1960's vintage American manufactured hair dryers.

I agree with what Ric the museum manager said to me once or twice, that having someone who had been there adds color and depth to the visitors experience. Since early November I've taken a break from being a Soviet Navy weekend warrior but plan on going back soon.

The Docent thing will be happening soon down the coast at the U.S. Navy Submarine Museum at the New London Sub Base as well. Currently all parts the Navy's Submarine Museum are self guided.

USS Nautilus (SSN 571) Museum dock Submarine Base New London, CT

People who have been to the U.S. Navy Submarine Museum before coming to the Russian Juliett have commented that the quality of the Museum was excellent but it lacked the personal touch the docents gave the Juliett. This from last weeks New London Day article "U.S. Navy Submarine Museum To Do The Docent Thing"(registration now required view):

One of the most noticeable things about walking through the
U.S. Navy Submarine Force Museum is a layout designed to invite a
self-navigated tour of submarine history.

Which is fine — until visitors have a question.

And then the realization sets in that, outside of the employees in the
museum store, there really isn't anybody around to supply any answers.
It's a concern that retired Capt. Mike Reigal, the museum's executive
director, hopes to remedy with the implementation of a volunteer docent

“It puts a real human face on the museum,” Reigal said. “There are times
one can walk into the museum and not see anybody, except for other
visitors. It kind of depersonalizes the whole thing.”

The Groton base of the U.S. Submarine Veterans has about 20 members volunteering for this new docent program. Looks like an opportunity to defect or maybe become a double agent?
нет, камрад!

Friday, January 13, 2006

What's with the Enlisted Uniforms?

Been diving deep into the Lubber's Line archives to find this one.

Pushbutton NavETs at Damn Neck, VA circa 1981

Which one of these NEC 3322 NavETs in training is Lubber's Line?

Hint: I'm NOT the E3 or E7 on the end - their port side your starboard.
Please no comments about short, long or crooked gig lines, the wife could read this.

P.S. If I had joined for the uniform I would have volunteered for the Marines and not Submarines. Blame the sea cadet look on Z-Gram numbers 34 or 87 in the linked list.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Snap Rolls Above Sea Level

Love a good plane ride? Take a Magic Carpet ride on an Navy F-18

Courtesy Google Video

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Omer5 Human Powered Sub - Video

Human Powered Submarines at the 8th International Submarine Races.

World Record Set on July 1, 2005 at the Naval Surface Warfare Center's Carderock Division David Taylor Model Basin in Bethesda, Maryland.
ABSOLUTE SPEED -- "Omer 5," Ecole de Technologie Superieure, University of Quebec, Montreal, Canada, 7.061 knots

Second place went to "Wasub," Technical University of Delft, Netherlands, 6.903 knots.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Yardbird War

The draw down of submarine construction and repair work and the Brac decision to keep Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) open has created an interesting fight between shipyards. The not hiring and maybe firing of shipyard workers or (Yardbirds), from Seacoastonline.com Yard banned from hiring more workers excerpt:

PORTSMOUTH - The Navy has placed a hiring freeze on Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, according to shipyard union president Paul O'Connor.

O'Connor said the freeze was put into effect last month after lawmakers from Connecticut had a "knee-jerk" reaction to the news that Portsmouth would receive a $59 million contract that was originally scheduled to go to the privately owned Electric Boat in Groton, Conn.

The contract in question is for the scheduled overhaul of the USS Philadelphia (SSN-690).

Electric Boat (EB) had announced the layoff of 150 workers and PNS the need for 330 more workers just prior to the Philadelphia's overhaul work being shifted to PNS. Subsequently EB in the beginning of December announced that as many as 2,400 jobs could be cut in 2006 due to the loss of repair work and the Navy's procurement of only one Virginia Class submarine per year in the foreseeable future.

Add to the above, the fight that has been churning over the ASDS program and you just hit the equivalent of a east coast shipbuilders trifecta including the Navy PNS yard, Electric Boat and a smaller Northrop Grumman contract.

The yardbirds are fighting over the crumbs (overhaul work and not new construction) compared to the cold war shipyard boom times. I still feel that the capacity and experience offered by PNS is still a valuable asset to our national defense. However, when you build one type product for only one customer the lean times can kill the complacent. Look for any other shifts in contracts relating to submarine overhaul and repair to meet with lots of resistance that probably wouldn't have been there 20 years ago.

Update 01/10/06 20:00 - Looks like EB is now getting a slice of Northrop Grumman's work on the USS Texas - Electric Boat Wins $85 Million Contract for Sub Work (hat tip: TheSubReport). Could this be to quite the noise generated from the above stated contacts or just that they're doing good work now a days as Bubblehead has cited recently?

Friday, January 06, 2006

Unauthorized Absence from Blogosphere

I've turned myself in, been UA from the blog for 17 days.

A Weaponette was checking up on me and I was afraid the Snipes and 'O' Gangers were next. I'm not a "Admin Warfare Specialist" so hopefully I filled out the proper paperwork below and can get back to blog duty soon.

Unauthorized Absence (click on form for a larger version)

The reason for the absence is not that I "float tested" my PC or anything. Just been going through a change of command at work (Corporate Merger) and decommissioning of my office (Layoff). Not to worry though, I was asked to "ship over" to the new command but decided to go TAD (Contracting) instead. I guess there's too many "strikers" left and they need this former NavET to keep her in the channel.

OK, that was my Navy slang attempt to sound like a "Sea lawyer": an argumentative, cantankerous or know-it-all former sailor.

Thanks for checking up on me and I'll be back posting soon. - LL