Tuesday, February 28, 2006

February Photos in RI

A short Coastal Southern Rhode Island photo essay to give my new digital camera a test run.

I found that only working people are on the water at the end of February. Temp was hovering around 30F with a NW wind at 15 knots and a clear blue sky. Made for some clean shots without over indulgent tourists from NY, NJ, Boston and Providence clogging the view in oversexed stinkpots and plastic blow boats. (Click on each photo for larger view)

Trawlers docked in the port of Galilee RI.

Converted this shot to B/W - thought it was a nice effect with the rigging.

Beavertail Light with frozen groundwater coming from the cliff.

Solitary Trawler working inshore.

Tug and Tow off Point Judith RI heading south in Block Island Sound.

Lobster boats in upper Galilee harbor.

The R/V Endeavor docked at the URI Narragansett Bay Campus.

Stern shot of the Research Vessel R/V Endeavor.

Some people love looking at city skylines and others fields of corn but give me a broad blue horizon and a ship designed to work at sea any day.

Happy Anniversity - The Sub Report

Happy Annniversity to TheSubReport.

Congrats on a 4.0 job in your first year of service. - LL

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Channel Surf - Recommendations Sunday 2/26

Couple of recommendations for TV watching tonight Sunday 2/26.

At 20:00 EST, that's 8:00 pm to Junior Officers, National Geographic Channel presents Explorer: “Super Sub” (Hat tip - thesubreport.com) Also airs: 2/26 -11pm, 2/27 - 3pm

There is a submarine - part sub killer, part terrorist hunter and part spy - that is so unparalleled in its capability to impact world events that the Navy has kept it a secret. Until now. Join NGC as Explorer travels the globe to classified facilities, foreign navies, and top secret labs to bring viewers the story of the newest and most advanced member of the U.S. nuclear-powered submarine force - the USS Texas. Get an unprecedented look at the future of naval warfare: Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs).

At 21:00 EST, again that's 9:00 pm, The History Channel presents "Titanic's Final Moments - missing pieces" . History Channel preview video available here.

In August 2005, John Chatterton and Richie Kohler, hosts of Deep Sea Detectives, led an expedition to the wreck of RMS Titanic. Diving two and a half miles down in Russian submersibles, they searched outside the known debris field for new evidence. On their final dive they made an extraordinary find: two large intact sections of the bottom hull of the Titanic in pristine condition with the red bottom paint still on them.

For four months, a team of historians, marine architects, and engineers has been conducting a forensic analysis of this find. All agree that it's the most significant new discovery since the wreck was located in 1985. Analysis is ongoing, but preliminary indications are that these bottom sections will change our understanding of how the ship broke apart, and rewrite the story of the final moments of the Titanic.

I meet Richie Kohler one of the show's hosts about a month ago while he was promoting the book "Shadow Divers" about the discovery and identification of a lost WWII German U-Boat. Richie discussed this season's premier episode of "Deep Sea Detectives" about the Titanic. Because of the wreck's depth he made two excursions on the Russian MIR deep diving submersible for the show. As the brief description above indicates he felt the analysis of what they found may become controversial.

Check you local listing to confirm airing dates and times.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Shark Roundup

I don't have much right now so here is a short Photo essay of sharks.

A collection of US Navy steel Sharks.

USS Shark SS-8 (Source: US Navy, Naval Historical Center)
1903 -1922 decommissioned and later sunk as target.

USS Shark SS-174 (Source: US Navy, Naval Historical Center)
1936-1942 Lost with all hands off Menado, Celebes, on 11 February 1942.

USS Shark SS-314 (Source: US Navy)
1943 -1944 Lost with all hands October 1944 in the Luzon Strait.

USS Shark SSN-591 (Source: US Navy)
1960-1990 decommissioned and scrapped.

Fake sharks digital and rubber

Fake shark photo from Internet (Source: National Geographic)

Holy Sardine Batman!

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

China - IFF?

IFF = Identification Friend or Foe

When I think of China, I end up falling into one of two mindsets. On the one hand, I tend think of both the ancient and modern Chinese civilizations their contributions to the worlds of art, science and trade. I also see China’s current economic growth as a sign of prosperity for the Chinese people, a change from an isolationist past and possibly a catalyst to a more democratic government. Then I think of the other China, the one of Tiananmen Square oppression, political executions, millions dead in purges and a history of confrontation and friction with its immediate neighbors. Like most communist nations China has a terrible history when it comes to human rights.

The recent disclosure of an underground submarine facility at the Jianggezhuang Submarine Base in China had me pondering my two China paradox. What exactly is China a political friend or foe, an economic competitor or trading partner? For those who discuss such things there is debate and disagreement on China’s exact relationship with the United States. This is the case even within the Bush administration.

One school of thought is that direct armed conflict with China is impossible. The logic here is that economic interdependence and globalization makes direct conflict too costly for either party and therefore the most serious problems will be resolved through dialog. This theory is called commercial liberalism (pdf).

Thomas P.M. Barnett author of the book “The Pentagon’s New Map” wrote an article for Esquire titled “The Chinese Are Our Friends” last November that comes close to the commercial liberalism position. But Mr. Barnett’s chief and continuing complaint seems to be with what he calls “proponents of Big War“ the Navy and Air Force leadership that advocate large and expensive weapon systems. He implies that this “Big War” crowd is self motivated and is using inflated China threat claims to justify big ticket weapons procurement. From October 2001 to June 2003 Thomas Barnett served as Assistant for Strategic Futures in the Office of Force Transformations, Office of the Secretary of Defense.

The opposing opinion comes directly from the recently released Pentagon's 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) which states that China has the "greatest potential" to overtake the present U.S. supremacy unless the United States acts to counter that by developing new capabilities of its own. (Listen to the NPR report with a brief summary on the QDR from Feb 9 here.) The QDR cites expanding Chinese military capabilities and modernization, recommending the positioning of six aircraft carriers and 60% of the attack submarines in the Pacific. From the QDR on China:

Chinese military modernization has accelerated since the mid-to-late 1990s in response to central leadership demands to develop military options against Taiwan scenarios. The pace and scope of China’s military build-up already puts regional military balances at risk. China is likely to continue making large investments in high-end, asymmetric military capabilities, emphasizing electronic and cyber-warfare; counter-space operations; ballistic and cruise missiles; advanced integrated air defense systems; next generation torpedoes; advanced submarines; strategic nuclear strike from modern, sophisticated land and sea-based systems; and theater unmanned aerial vehicles for employment by the Chinese military and for global export. These capabilities, the vast distances of the Asian theater, China’s continental depth, and the challenge of en route and in-theater U.S. basing place a premium on forces capable of sustained operations at great distances into denied areas.

Is the Pentagon overstating a China’s threat? I’m of the opinion that they maybe overstating China’s current capabilities, particularly when it comes to SSBN submarines, but they are also trying to read the tea leaves by evaluating trends within the Peoples Liberation Army and Navy (PLAN). Planning for the "what ifs" is what the Pentagon does, so they're asking themselves what is the PLAN’s long term plan? China may not be able to challenge the U.S. military today but we would be foolish to let a still communist and oppressive government do so tomorrow. The QDR recommends the right force restructuring, hopefully the PLAN will continue to stumble in their modernization plans.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Top Gun II - Brokeback Squadron

Who knew?

And they make jokes about submariners! Geees....

Sorry, it may be a little adolescent but I thought it was funny.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Didn't we hear this before?

The news.telegraph.co.uk has two news articles up "10,000 would die' in A-plant attack on Iran" and "US prepares military blitz against Iran's nuclear sites". Those headlines sound almost like they could have been written before the Iraq war in 2003. Just substitute Iraq for Iran and WMD for Nuclear and you get the idea. The hand wringing has started in the European press over possible American preemptive plans (the Bush doctrine) over the Iranian nuclear weapon aspirations.

The first news report quotes a study done by the Oxford Research Group titled "Consequences of a War (pdf link)" which was written in October of 2002 by Professor Paul Rogers is Professor of Peace Studies at the University of Bradford, about .... (insert drum roll).... you guessed it "Iraq" and then rehashed for a possible conflict with "Iran". Here are some excerpt for the telegraph Iran news piece and the 2002 Iraq paper:

Expanded confrontation.
(The Telegraph - on the 2006 Iran report)The attack would result in "a protracted military confrontation" involving Israel, Lebanon and some Gulf states.

(Oxford Research Group - on Iraq in 2002 ) In such circumstances, and given that Hezbollah militia in Southern Lebanon have recently received some thousands of short-range missiles from Iran via Damascus, Israel might suddenly find its northern cities under attack and would respond with forceful counteraction against militias and Syrian forces in Lebanon.

It's all about oil.
(The Telegraph - on the 2006 Iran report) Iran could still retaliate with suicide speedboats, possibly leading to crippling rises in the price of oil.

(Oxford Research Group - on Iraq in 2002 )Attacks against oil tankers and other aspects of the oil and gas supply chain may be mounted, possibly using surrogate paramilitaries, with the hope of affecting the price of oil.

The rise of anti-American hostility
(The Telegraph - on the 2006 Iran report) Prof Rogers, professor of peace studies at Bradford University, says that American military action would also have a unifying effect on the rule of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and exacerbate anti-American hostility in the Islamic world.

(Oxford Research Group - on Iraq in 2002 )Taken with the current and very widespread perception in the region of Israel as a client state armed largely by the United States, and of Saudi Arabia controlled by an excessively wasteful and wealthy neo-feudal elite, a further increase in the anti-American mood in the region and consequent support for oppositional paramilitaries such as al-Qaida is likely to be the longer term consequences of an enforced regime change and possibly even a military occupation of Iraq.

The Telegraph ends the article by trying to credit the Oxford Research Group with predicting the Iraq insugency by saying "In a similar briefing before the invasion of Iraq in 2003, the Oxford group predicted that Saddam Hussein's regime could easily be overwhelmed but that the country would become a hotbed of insurgency." (emphasis added). But the actual report in 2002 was a little more ambiguous:

(Oxford Research Group - on Iraq in 2002 )It is also possible that a paramilitary movement could develop from within Iraq. While there is abundant evidence of the unpopularity of the Saddam Hussein regime, it is certainly possible that internal opposition to US occupation and the subsequent installing of a client regime would result in an evolving insurgency. Internal opposition to the current regime does not equate with the future acceptance of foreign occupation.

So here we are again with a rerun of the old predictions (wider regional conflict, oil crisis, and greater anti-American feelings) without a single printed word on any of the positive results (no regional war, free elections and constitution in Iraq, a greater movement toward freedom across the broader middle east, the lives of millions changed for the better without fear and intimidation from their government) with the overthrow of Saddam. Obviously the Islamofacists who use religion to obtain power and control followers are threatened with recent changes in Iraq and are lashing back with terror tactics.

The Iranian terror state is also threatened with internal descent and the external rising demand of democracy. Iran, like the old Soviet Union, can be put down internal descent for a time with police state tactics, and like Iraq before stall, intimidate and deceive the IAEA and UN over it's nuclear weapons program. However, what the European press needs to understand is that nuclear weapons in the hands of a government that sees terrorism and the killing of innocents as a political tool is likely to use it once they have it. All the hand wringing over American military contingency plans including, the use of Trident SSBNs armed with conventional warheads as stated in the news.telegraph's second news piece, isn't going to change that.

Time is running out and the Iranian terror state knows it, they will become more belligerent just as Saddam did before them.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Crazy Ivan not just for submarines

If you thought the Crazy Ivan maneuver was just something that only the old Soviet Subs did check out this video link. Truly impressive super manoeuvrable airshow - recommend watching in full screen.

My guess a Sukhoi Su-37 Super Flanker or earlier variant. The maneuvers demonstrated are called "Kulbit", "Bell" and "Cobra". I would have to say whoever tried them first had to be a little crazy and may have been named Ivan.