Friday, March 31, 2006

Iran - The Nuclear Football Keeps Moving Down Field

Iran update - earlier in the month I said about the Iran situation "its only going to get ugly from here...", well it's not looking any better and this roundup sounds familiar.

First the US through the UN tries to pressure Iran to stop its uranium enrichment program (e.g. Atomic bomb program) and actually gets Russia and China to sign on. From Time Mag:

But in the end, it took U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice personally working the phones, and ceding a little ground, to seal the deal — which gave Iran 30 days to suspend its uranium enrichment activities or face as yet unspecified consequences.

Iranian reaction is as predictable as ever "Iran refuses to suspend U-enrichment: Official" excerpt:

LONDON, March 31 (IranMania) - Iran refused to suspend uranium enrichment and said a UN Security Council deadline to abandon the process was "a bad move," ratcheting up the stakes in the standoff over its nuclear program, AFP reported.

Of course the U.N. Atomic Energy chief Mohammed ElBaradei is still talking about how countries should use "Restraint in Response to Iran". From the LaTimes:

ElBaradei, speaking in Doha, emphasized that Iran is not "an imminent threat" and urged countries to "lower the pitch" in their effort to stop Iran's nuclear work.

ElBaradei appears to be concerned again about the rhetoric that comes from the West. But, we all know that creative rhetoric and dreamy corollaries such as "The Mother of All Battles" and "The Last Helicopter" are reserved for Middle Eastern despots and terrorists.

In other news, the "U.S. Military is to Test a Huge 700 Ton Conventional Bomb" in the desert of Nevada. Washington Post:

"This is the largest single explosive we could imagine doing," said James A. Tegnelia, director of the Pentagon's Defense Threat Reduction Agency, which is conducting the test.

The test is aimed at determining how well a massive conventional bomb would perform against fortified underground targets -- such as military headquarters, biological or chemical weapons stockpiles, and long-range missiles -- that the Pentagon says are proliferating among potential adversaries around the world.

Now I wonder which "potential adversaries" the Pentagon is specifically thinking about?

Iran has invested too much money, time and effort to just roll over on this. Besides another nuclear weapon would go a long way in curing that Middle Eastern "inferiority complex" that has people dancing in the streets each time a terrorist murders innocents, as if that is some kind of great victory.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Video 1982 - One of Our Submarines is Missing

Remember when MTV had no commercials and only played music videos?
From that time 1982: Thomas Dolby - One of Our Submarines is Missing

One of our Submarines
written by Thomas Dolby
recorded and mixed August 1982

One of our submarines is missing tonight
Seems she ran aground on manoeuvres
One of our submarines

A hungry heart
To regulate their breathing
One more night
The Winter Boys are freezing in their spam tin
The Baltic moon
Along the Northern seaboard
And down below
The Winter Boys are waiting for the storm

Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Shallow water - chanel and tide

And I can trace my history
Down one generation to my home
In one of our submarines
One of our submarines

The red light flicker, sonar weak
Air valves hissing open
Half her pressure blown away
Flounder in the ocean
See the Winter Boys
Drinking heavy water from a stone

Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Shallow water - channel and tide
Bye-bye empire, empire bye-bye
Tired illusion drown in the night

And I can trace my history
Down one generation to my home
In one of our submarines
One of our submarines
One of our submarines

One of our submarines is missing tonight
Seems she ran aground on manoeuvres
One of our submarines

I remember watching MTV during that time and hearing the song but I never saw the music video. Maybe it's because I was at sea most of the time in the early 1980s on "One of Our Submarines".

A Lesson in Supporting the Troops

All those who claim they "support the troops" but not the Global War on Terror, the Iraq War or just the violence of war in general need to take a lesson from Desmond T. Doss, Sr., the only conscientious objector to win the Congressional Medal of Honor during World War II.

He was a company aid man when the 1st 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

Mr. Doss died Thursday morning 3/23/2006 in Piedmont, Ala. at the age of 87, a hero to his faith, conscientious and Country.

EB Green Tape – the stuff of urban legends

I recently read piece in Wired titled “Worlds Greatest Tool: Duct Tape” and it got me to thinking about the “EB Green” variety.

EB Green is found throughout the Navy and rumored to originate from the Electric Boat shipyard, hence the name. If you’re a US Submariner (current or former) you probably heard stories about and experienced the unbelievable strength of “EB Green” duct tape. This stuff is not your Home Depot run of the mill duct tape; I swear when applied properly its just short of epoxy backed Kevlar.

The one famous EB Green story, and possibly a submariner version of an urban legend, is how it survived a trip to test depth. The story goes that an un-named submarine went to sea from the shipyard on builder's trials. During the at sea period the submarine made at least one excursion to test depth. Upon the sub’s return to the shipyard, and a trip into the dry dock, it was discovered that a small area on the pressure hull had some EB Green tape on it. The patch of tape had been over painted and not noticed during construction. The tape was removed so that the hull could be properly painted and a hole was discovered that went “all the way through the pressure hull” to the submarine interior. The EB Green tape had saved the submarine from a certain flooding causality.

I don’t know if this story is true but I've heard it at least a couple of times while on subs and you can find it repeated on the internet here; the 3rd , 10th and 15th entries here and also here.

Like with common duct tape sailors and shipyard workers have found a thousand and one uses for EB Green tape. When I was a shipyard worker I saw it used to repair everything from a leaky air hose in the machine shop to a co-workers noisy car muffler. In the Navy, well let’s just say sailors can get creative while at sea.

Other than EB Greening non-quals to the overhead any other submariners have an EB Green story they’d like to share (anonymous entries welcome) in the comments section?

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Video - Tomcat tribute

I'm going to miss seeing F-14s pulling G's over NAS where-ever.

Lifted the video link off of Neptunus Lex's post "Shameless self-promotion".

Now it's off to the boneyard for the F-14s

A great and successful aircraft.

Updated at 18:15 to correct bonehead typos.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Great New England Hurricane of 2006,7,8...?

I've lived in Southern New England for most of my life and the Great Hurricane of 1938 is a historical fact not to be taken lightly, but it seems that ever couple of years someone says this is the year it's going to happen again.

Hurricane (Source: NASA)

On the heals of the year of Katrina, is taking their turn at predicting the next great New England hurricane and saying it could become the greatest natural disaster in U.S History. From the linked AccuWeather:

"The Northeast is staring down the barrel of a gun," said Joe Bastardi, Chief Forecaster of the Hurricane Center. "The Northeast coast is long overdue for a powerful hurricane, and with the weather patterns and hydrology we're seeing in the oceans, the likelihood of a major hurricane making landfall in the Northeast is not a question of if but when." Hurricane Center research meteorologists have identified weather cycles that indicate which U.S. coastal areas are most susceptible to landfalls. "If you examine past weather cycles that have occurred in the Atlantic, you will see patterns of storms," added Ken Reeves, Expert Senior Meteorologist and Director of Forecasting Operations at "Determination of where we are in the cycle has enabled meteorologists to accurately predict hurricane activity in Florida in 2004 and along the Gulf Coast last year. There are indications that the Northeast will experience a hurricane larger and more powerful than anything that region has seen in a long time."

Watching the first video report link at the bottom of the AccuWeather page seems to sensationalize this story. The Meteorologist reports that the hurricane barrier in Providence will save the city but backup any storm surge in the bay compounding problems for communities south. I find it amazingly stupid that he missed the Seekonk River only a few hundred yards east of the Hurricane barrier. That is where a large portion of the blocked storm surge would be going.

He also claims that in a replay of the 1938 hurricane low laying Long Island NY would be decimated and Newport RI would be spared similar destruction because of the elevation. Granted the Newport Mansions are built on ocean front granite bluffs south of the city, but the city itself is built around a natural harbor and could receive substantial flooding.

Additionally a graphic shown in the video implies flooding miles inland. Hardly, a major portion of the land around Narragansett Bay rises up to between 50 and 100 feet in less than a quarter mile from shore. The major problems would occur in the small harbor towns and in southern RI along Block Island sound where the topography is predominantly sandy beaches, tidal ponds and salt marshes, same areas decimated in 1938.

A lot of over development has occurred along the coast and a major hurricane would be costly, but Providence (formally known as the city of seven hills in colonal times) is not New Orleans and Rhode Island is not a flat coastal plain like Florida. Informing people they need to be prepared for the possibility of a big weather event, especially a hurricane, is important. I just don't like it when inaccurate information is added to sell a prediction.

AccuWeather needs to add topography to their list of Meteorologist study topics.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Odd Ball Cap - Story

Have you ever saved something, forgot about it, and then found it years later. Such is the provenance of the item pictured below, with one odd twist; the ship's name doesn't match the current hull number.

(Click on Photo to see a current USS Rhode Island ball cap)

Story of the Ball Cap's origin:
In the summer of 1982 I was home in Rhode Island on leave from my first submarine home ported in Charleston SC/King Bay GA. (Off crew was in Charleston, boat refit and deployed from Kings Bay). Home for me was North Kingstown, RI and the New England village of Wickford.

While at home on leave I was invited by a neighbor to crew for a day of sailing on Narragansett Bay. The sailboat was a 35' sloop, so two could handle it with no problem. The winds were typical for a summer on Narragansett Bay about 1o knots or less in the morning increasing to 15+ in the afternoon if a good sea breeze kicked in from the southwest.

Around noon time somewhere about a half mile off Quonset Point near Hope island I spotted this ball cap floating in the water. Grabbing a boat hook I quickly fished the above hat out of the bay. Having been a machinist at Electric Boat's Quonset Point facility before joining the Navy I knew that some yardbird working on the waterfront probably lost the hat and it ended up in the bay. At the end of the day I rinsed the seawater out of the ball cap, dried it out and put it away in the stuff I had stored at home, then forgot about it.

From some reason that hat has followed me from closet to storage, seabag to foot locker and cellar to attic.

So what's so odd about that ball cap?
First it is not an official US Navy ships ball cap, it was produced and sold to local Electric Boat shipyard workers taking pride in producing a Trident submarine named after their state.
Second the name and hull number were actually correct at the time. On Jan 19, 1981 the keel was laid for the SSBN 730 hull and it was at that time designated to become the USS Rhode Island.

It was not until the after death of Senator Henry "Scoop" Jackson on Sept. 1, 1983 while in office that the intended SSBN 730 naming was changed from USS Rhode Island to USS Henry M. Jackson. The announcement of this change was made by then President Ronald Reagan on Sept. 9, 1983.

The Democrat from the state of Washington was a strong advocate of the Trident Submarine program and a leading member of the Senate Armed Services committee.

Believing in a strong national defense, supporter of human rights and advocate for free market economies many of Senator Jackson's former Assistants went on to become key figures in the Reagan and George W. Bush administrations. These Assistants include Richard Pearl, Paul Wolfowitz and Douglas Feith.

The USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730) is the only Trident submarine not named in honor of a state. The USS Henry M. Jackson was commissioned on Oct. 6, 1984.

Ten Trident hulls and a little less than ten years later on July 9, 1994 the SSBN 740 hull was commissioned as the USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740).

The USS Henry M. Jackson is home ported in Bangor WA. and the USS Rhode Island out of Kings Bay GA.

Another odd bit of trivia, long serving Rhode Island Senator John Chafee who died in 1999 while in office also had a Navy ship named after him, the USS Chafee (DDG-90). Senator John Chafee served as Secretary of the Navy from 1969 to 1972.

I've never worn that ball cap and don't know if many still exist but I'll still hang on to if not for any other reason than I think it's a bit odd.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Cassini finds evidence of Liquid Water on Enceladus

NASA may not be gushing about recent evidence that Saturn's moon Enceladus may have liquid water erupting like geysers but they should certainly be excited. This could is the first evidence of liquid water near the surface of a planet's moon.

Cassini spacecraft Photo of Moon Enceladus
(Source: NASA/JPL)

From NASA'S press release: NASA's Cassini Discovers Potential Liquid Water on Enceladus

"We realize that this is a radical conclusion -- that we may have evidence for liquid water within a body so small and so cold," said Dr. Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. "However, if we are right, we have significantly broadened the diversity of solar system environments where we might possibly have conditions suitable for living organisms."

High-resolution Cassini images show icy jets and towering plumes ejecting large quantities of particles at high speed. Scientists examined several models to explain the process. They ruled out the idea that the particles are produced by or blown off the moon's surface by vapor created when warm water ice converts to a gas. Instead, scientists have found evidence for a much more exciting possibility -- the jets might be erupting from near-surface pockets of liquid water above 0 degrees Celsius (32 degrees Fahrenheit), like cold versions of the Old Faithful geyser in Yellowstone.

An interesting Cassini image and description of the Enceladus geyser's plumes can be found here.

Additionally an audio podcast is available here from NASA describing the evidence and how surprised the Scientists were with this find.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Video - Iran's (Whale) Nahang 1

MEMRI TV has the video clip up of Iran's Nahang 1 submarine. If it isn't on the Home page here then go to the search page here and search for clip# 1065.

There isn't much information to be found about this new domestically produced mini-sub other than it looks different than the previous one Bubblehead had photos of here.

Looks a bit like a fat propane cylinder with a sail on it, but that's just me. Do you think anyone in the Iranian Navy calls them "pig" boats? Probably not...

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Hotter than the Interior of the Sun

When I read this the science geek came out in me and I had to post it.
Record Set for Hottest Temperature on Earth: 3.6 Billion Degrees in Lab

The Sun (Source: NASA)

Scientists at Sandia National laboratories produced superheated gas exceeding temperatures of 2 billion degrees Kelvin. That's 3.6 billion degrees Fahrenheit hotter than the interior of the Sun, the hottest temperature ever produced by man. This was achieved with a device called the Z machine, the largest X-ray generator in the world.

The interesting part of this achievement for me is that project Scientists did not expect the resulting temperature and repeated the experiment several times to confirm what they had done. This non-nuclear experiment also resulted in another unexpected result, energy output was greater what was put in.

Sandia researchers still aren't sure how the machine achieved the new record. Part of it is probably due to the replacement of the tungsten steel wires with slightly thicker steel wires, which allow the plasma ions to travel faster and thus achieve higher temperatures.

One thing that puzzles scientists is that the high temperature was achieved after the plasma's ions should have been losing energy and cooling. Also, when the high temperature was achieved, the Z machine was releasing more energy than was originally put in, something that usually occurs only in nuclear reactions.

Some hot basic science producing some cool results.

Iran - its only going to get ugly from here...

The lead Iranian nuclear negotiator Hassan Rowhani has let it slip that they were fooling the Europeans and stalling for time in order to finish a nuclear fuel processing facility in Isfahan.

Mr. Rowhani addressed the Supreme Council of Cultural Revolution and told his audience: "When we were negotiating with the Europeans in Tehran we were still installing some of the equipment at the Isfahan site … In reality, by creating a tame situation, we could finish Isfahan."

Of course the reason for the deception and lies by the Iranians is to continue “peaceful nuclear work” and it is the west that is conducting a broad disinformation campaign against Iran.

Meanwhile back in Tehran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has called on the United Nations nuclear agency to compensate Iran for its suspension of nuclear activities in 2003. In addition Iran warned that if the issue of it’s nuclear program should go to the UN Security council, it would begin large-scale enrichment of uranium.

Apparently Mahmoud and Hassan need to talk on whether their nuclear enrichment program ever really stopped!

Also ABC News is reporting today that the most deadly armor piercing IEDs found in Iraq are, get this, made in Iran.

"I think the evidence is strong that the Iranian government is making these IEDs, and the Iranian government is sending them across the border and they are killing U.S. troops once they get there," says Richard Clarke, former White House counterterrorism chief and an ABC News consultant. "I think it's very hard to escape the conclusion that, in all probability, the Iranian government is knowingly killing U.S. troops."

I feel something is going to break shortly, the rhetoric is increasing from the US Administration and even some of the Europeans are out of character and requesting Iran halt “all nuclear research activities”.

If it comes to the UN Security council Russia and China may opposed any imposition of sanctions on Iran. Russia is deeply involved in the Iran’s nuclear power program and China has recently made large oil purchasing agreements with Tehran. Therefore, the US may need to create an outside coalition to keep the pressure on Iran.

What does the Iranian Revolutionary Guards commanders think of all the speculation of possible US military action if things continue to degrade? Not much, according to them we’re only bluffing.

Deception and belligerence from a Middle Eastern state and purveyor of terrorism, where have we seen that before?

Update on belligerence 3/8/06 - 18:30 est : Iran today threatened the United States with "harm and pain" . A developing story at the Drudge Report is that Iran already has enough enriched uranium gas to produce 10 nuclear weapons .

And the UN's IAEA chief ElBaradei is urging Western and Iranian leaders to "lower the rhetoric".

Monday, March 06, 2006

It 's been one year

It has been one year since I started the Lubber’s Line “Hundreds of Fathoms” blog and I guess it’s a tradition to create a post recapping the year, bragging where appropriate and evaluating the blog’s evolution.

To shipmates, friends and comment contributors.
First I would like to thank all those who stopped by for an occasional read and/or to contribute comments. Your input and conversation has been much appreciated even if I didn’t respond to all your comments. Everyone has something to contribute and I’ve enjoyed this adventure in blogging thus far.

To my fellow submarine bloggers in my blogroll, “you guys are killing my content!!” just kidding. I do spend more time reading your content than writing mine but that’s only because I enjoy your posts just as much as writing something of my own.

Hat tip to the ones that got me initially interested in doing a blog, Bubblehead at The Stupid Shall be Punished and Bothenook at A Geezer’s Corner. I’m back to six hours or less of sleep in a twenty four period because of you two. Now all I need is someone to wake me up with a 10,000 candle flashlight and tell me I’m late for watch, geeees…. Wait, my six year old son kind of does that already, so I guess I'm all set.

I’ve read that most blogs are abandoned after two to three months so after a year I’m doing ok. Thanks to those who have linked this blog and kept me going; Alex Nooze –The Nooze Wire, Chap -Chapomatic, MM1(SS) -Four Knots to Nowhere, Gus -Gus Van Horn, Vigilis -Molten Eagle, Photios -Photios, PigBoatSailor -The Discomfort of Thought, WillyShake -Unconsidered Trifles and anyone else I've missed.

Additionally other Bloggers that linked here:
The Mudville Gazette – on Milblogging with open sourced info
Outside the Beltway – on Chinese spying
CDR Salamander – on the XO door going missing
EagleSpeak – on the USS San Francisco and Nav charts

I also contribute to these primarily News Sites and get links back as well:
TheSubReport – thanks to Eric
UltraQuiteNoMore – thanks to Joel

Favorite Posts
Life can be too serious so I’ve tried to add a bit of humor to my posting now and then, therefore two of my favorite posts are “Does Santa Wear Dolphins?” and “Coryphaenidae qualified kleptomania”.

On a more serious tone what I feel are some of my better posts were “China IFF?”, “Between Two Worlds Surface/Submerged”, “Milblogging With Open Source Information”, “An Un-Conventionally Armed SSBN”, “Alvin (DSV-2) to Start Last Refit”, “Trident I (C4) Missile System Retired”, “Submarines True Systems of Transformation” and a progression of posts attempting to analyze the USS San Francisco grounding on Jan 08 2005.

Lessons learned
As far as I can tell I haven’t made any major “Oh Sh*t!!! I shouldn’t have done that” kind of postings but then again I haven’t tried to be controversial and stuck to mostly facts with only a little commentary.

I have broken a number of blog rules regarding getting and keeping readers. I post infrequently (not daily) and at different times. Responding to comments can sometimes take me a day if at all. I chose a topic with a limited audience. I provide little commentary to get readers juiced, sticking to flat news. Finally I haven’t participated in any of those “open posts” or carnival of …. type of cross-postings and I haven’t done any serious commenting over at the Big Boys to get noticed. All this means is that the site averages about 40 hits a day or about 14,750 to date. I would like to generate more traffic but hey it’s not a business just a hobby.

Evolution of the blog
As far as content I think it’s been fairly consistent on the topics of military, submarines and the sea; but as I said a lot of what I post has limited appeal. Therefore I think I’m going to include more stuff outside of what I have posted in the past, much like my fellow submarine bloggers do.

That’s the goal for year two, refine what I currently post and increase the range of topics I cover, we’ll see how I do. - LL

Saturday, March 04, 2006

Sub Culture - Contrast as Video

Demonstrators at the Faslane Submarine base in 2005.

5 minutes at outside the Faslane submarine base Scotland.

And somewhere in the North Atlantic on a US Trident Submarine...

45 seconds on the surface in the cold North Atlantic.

Lubber's take:
When we were young our parents protected us from the dangers of the world and gave us the freedom to be idealistic and carefree. Some of us grow up with our adult responsibilities and plot a course to follow. Others drift without a rudder in a sea of popular causes enjoying their own chaotic music.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Pentagon mulling 'stealth sharks' to patrol the seas

Now this is an odd coincidence I just did a post of U.S. Navy Submarines named "Shark" and then I read this link Pentagon mulling 'stealth sharks' to patrol the seas: New Scientist from The Drudge Report. An excerpt:

"The Pentagon hopes to exploit sharks' natural ability to glide quietly through the water, sense delicate electrical gradients and follow chemical trails," says the report, carried in next Saturday's New Scientist.

"By remotely guiding the sharks' movements they hope to transform the animals into stealth spies, perhaps capable of following vessels without being spotted."

The unusual project is being funded by the Pentagon's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which pioneered the Internet as a platform for robust communications.

In my previous post I made fun of the fish kind of shark, now it appears my biting humor has failed me. As Vigilis at the Molten Eagle blog would say "Submarines are always silent and strange".