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

Monday, April 10, 2006

Disaster in the Deep / Disaster in the Deep
“Experiencing minor difficulty.” It was 9:13 on the morning of April 10, 1963—43 years ago today—when Captain John W. Harvey relayed this message from his submarine, the USS Thresher.

The Thresher at sea in July 1961.(Naval Historical Center)

"We sometimes forget that the Cold War had costs that are both painful and difficult to reckon."

Thursday, April 06, 2006

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Secret Iranian Navy Training Film

With the current revelations about Iranian Navy’s secret weapons programs including stealth technology, underwater missiles and flying boats I have been scouring the internet for additional information on the Iranian Navy. In my search I have discovered a secret Iranian Navy training film.

Many have discounted the potential threat posed by Iranian Navy. I was only able to obtain a few seconds to the opening sequence of the training film but this may well prove the seriousness of the threat.

The film implies a particular contempt for the U.S. Navy’s senior officers and indeed collaboration with an Asian partner for weapons, intel and provisions.

The link to this film is provided HERE.
(Warning there is graphic violence perpetrated on a junior officer near the end of the film)

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Iranian divers – more bravado from IRINN TV

Iranian divers blowing up an unfinished oil platform, deployed from an underpowered overloaded boat dingy and a 1960’s Russian built helicopter, I’m scared, NOT.

MERI TV has a video, search the link to clip #1095 of Iranian TV showing divers training in mine planting. Is that laughing I hear coming from Coronado, CA.

Couple of observations after watching the video, I’m guessing the reason the divers are sweating so much in the helo is because they're wearing full wet suits in a region known for it’s warm temps and I swear I saw the rubber zodiac driver almost flip that sucker over once.

Where is “The Incredible Mr. Limpet” when you need him? Sorry that was very cartoonish of me, but I couldn’t help.

Monday, April 03, 2006

Iran Posturing with New Missile?

Is Iran posturing with its current war-game “Holy Prophet”?

MilBloggers EagleSpeak and Bubblehead have some information up (here and here) on the recent test of an Iranian underwater missile “publicly” revealed during the current Iranian “Holy Prophet” naval exercises. Additionally Vigilis has a timely posting on his site about the proliferation of the Russian developed Shkval supercavitating rocket torpedoes. Underwater missile or rocket torpedo, guidance is the critical issue in the development of these weapons. The video of the missile launch, found here, is from a test platform “barge” and not an operational submarine.

But why is Iran so public with the tests of a new weapons system? The recent tests and the revealing of the domestically developed Nahang 1 mini-submarine on Iranian television were obviously intentional. Iranian Television is monitored by western news services and within minutes if not hours anything newsworthy will be broadcast internationally. The broader Iranian “Holy Prophet” naval exercise is also being packaged for domestic and international news.

With the current backdrop of international efforts to restrain Iran’s not so public nuclear ambitions, is Iran now telegraphing previous threats to close down the Strait of Hormuz and use oil as an economic weapon against the Western powers? Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki says Iran is not, but if that is the case why practice doing just that and right now with a new UN deadline to stop their uranium enrichment efforts. The primary audience may be the Iranian public “lots of lookie how tough and superior we are” but there is also an attempt here to intimidate their neighbors while giving the Western naval powers pause.

The concern here is not so much these new weapons unproven capabilities as it is a strategy of implementing any new capability with an old low tech approach and old threats. This could be troubling if not for the U.S. Navy then at least to the big fat supertankers that have to navigate the narrow Strait of Hormuz choke-point. The Iranian Navy and Revolutionary Guard has hundreds of small fast lightly armed attack boats, who are trained in low tech guerrilla operations against American warships such as hit and run or swarm attacks. The bombing of the USS Cole in October of 2000 used a low tech small boat approach. If that low tech technique is coupled with the demonstrated underwater missile or a large number of the mini-submarines it could become a “killing ants with a hammer” type of problem for the U.S. Navy. Sure you can kill a lot of ants and easily but occasionally one might get through and do some damage.

A 200+ mph torpedo fired from a small craft or mini-submarine leaves very little time to react, especially for any large slow moving target navigating in restricted waters. Hopefully the new missile’s accuracy and operational range have been compromised by its speed.