Friday, December 09, 2016

Just a Snow Bubble

Note:  Vigilis and his content are due to return early next week.  - Juan Caruso

H.Payne's published "Bubble U." cartoon from December 3, 2016, is better viewed here.  

Submarines are always silent and strange

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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thanksgiving Tribute to Submariners - 2016

A Bit of Background

"I was on submarine duty in the Pacific in the year 1943. We were in the area off the cost of the Philippines. I remember having a complete turkey dinner on Thanksgiving. While the turkeys were cooking, the submarine took a dive. We went down too steeply and the turkeys fell out of the oven onto the deck. The cook picked them up and put them back into the oven -- and we ate them, regardless of what may have gotten on them as a result of their fall. That meal was so good!"  - Stanley Collins, US Navy, World War II, Pilgrim Hall Museum, Voices from Front [pdf]

 Submarines are always silent and strange. 

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Monday, November 21, 2016

A Veritable Understatement - Submarine Quotation of the Year [2013]

 Submarine Quotation of the Year [2013]


"They deploy for months at a time often without any public notice.. The wife of a Seawolf sailor described the boat as 'unpredictable'.”  - David Axe, WAR IS BORING, Nov 5, 2013, "An American Submarine Just Slipped Under the Arctic Ice". [a brief, interesting article - M.E.]

Mr. Axe continues...
"How Seawolf got to Norway—and what she might have done en route—offer a rare and tantalizing glimpse into some of the most secretive quarters of the most poorly understood aspects of American naval power."

So far, such generalizations might apply to many U.S. Navy SSNs, past and present.  Of the many deployments the 575 boat made, there was a time when some of the stop-off destinations shared with wives and even the crew were certainly and repetitively fictitious. This merely supports Axe's general point about the silent service's "tradition of secrecy", "The Navy doesn’t like to talk about its submarines. After all, a sub’s biggest advantage is its stealth."

Axe must also be credited with emphasizing that Seawolf and her two sister vessels Connecticut and Jimmy Carter are among the most secretive. He highlights some of Seawolf's notable distinctions:
  •  Her official Website is blocked. 
  •  Seawolf’s exterior has not appeared in publicly released Navy photo since 2009.
  •  In 2007 Seawolf’s 140-man crew earned a Meritorious Unit Commendation—and
  •  in 2009 followed that up with a Navy Unit Commendation
Also, notice the pre-2010, exterior photo of Seawolf  that accompanied Axe's article.  Attentive observers will certainly have a few interesting questions about other curious distinctionsIs this eyeopener what Axe was actually steering his readers toward?


Submarines are always silent and strange.
 

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Answers to Submarine Q.O.T.W. from 14 NOV 2016

Related information, photo(s) and links for questions are found in the original posting.

Q & A: 

"In 1968, A US Nuclear Submarine Went On a Russia Super Secret Spy Mission (And It Never Came Back)" by Kyle Mizokami

1 - An unusually high number of submarines vanished in 1968, including three (3) non-U.S. subs. Identify 3 of the non-U.S. subs sunk in 1968 (by names and navies). ANS: The Israeli submarine Dakar (69 lost); The French submarine Minerve (52 dead); and, The Soviet submarine K-129 (98 lost).

2 - The U.S. sub which sank in 1968 "was in a very poor state of preservation", according to its commanding officer.
- a) Who was the commanding officer?
ANS: Cdr. Francis Atwood Slattery  
- b) Some of its crew had derisively referred to the sub as (fill in blank) USS Scrap Iron.
- c) Name the vessel's major (most restrictive) known defect before its 1968 departure on a secret Russian spy mission.
ANS:  Leaking valves caused the submarine to be restricted to  less than half its nominal test depth. It had “chronic problems” with its hydraulics, its emergency blow system didn’t work and emergency seawater shutoff valves had not yet been decentralized. source
 
3 -  The U.S. Navy’s report on the U.S. sub incident is inconclusive. Several malfunction theories—and at least one conspiracy have arisen to explain the loss of the ship and its ninety-nine crew, but all lack hard evidence. What is the leading conspiracy theory? 
ANS: The leading conspiracy theory is that the Scorpion was somehow caught up in some kind of Cold War skirmish, and that the nearby Soviet flotilla had sunk the sub.
 
4 -  What major fact issue tends to confound the leading conspiracy theory?
ANS: There is scant explanation for how a Soviet task force with only two combatants could manage to kill the relatively advanced USS Scorpion.  
 
5 -  Does it now appear at all likely that there would ever be a conclusive explanation for the loss of the U.S. sub in 1968?
ANS: No. 
 
6 - What has been the convention (minimum average time) for submarine secrets to be divulged by various navies (in Vigilis's opinion)?
ANS:  30 years.

7- How many years have already elapsed since May 1968?
ANS: 48 years
 
8- BONUS QUESTION:  Where is the longest submarine memorial in the U.S. now located?
ANS: The entire length of Route 9 in Saratoga County, NY (a fifty-four-mile stretch) has been named the U.S. Submarine Veterans Memorial Highway.  The county is home to the Naval Nuclear Power Training Unit where American sailors learn how to operate nuclear-powered submarines. The New York state submarine veterans memorial honors the fifty-four submarines lost during war and the Cold War. 

Submarines are always silent and strange.  

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Monday, November 14, 2016

Submarine QOTW - 14 NOV 2016

Background

Vigilis recalls attending a classified debriefing about the loss of the U.S. submarine indicated below:

The Questions of the Week


1 - An unusually high number of submarines vanished in 1968, including three (3) non-U.S. subs. Identify 3 of the non-U.S. subs sunk in 1968 (by names and navies) .

2 - The U.S. sub which sank in 1968 "was in a very poor state of preservation", according to its commanding officer. 
- a) Who was the commanding officer?
- b) Some of its crew had derisively referred to the sub as (fill in blank) USS ____________. 
- c) Name the vessel's major (most restrictive) known defect before its 1968 departure on a secret Russian spy mission.

3 -  The U.S. Navy’s report on the U.S. sub incident is inconclusive. Several malfunction theories—and at least one conspiracy have arisen to explain the loss of the ship and its ninety-nine crew, but all lack hard evidence. What is the leading conspiracy theory?

4 -  What major fact issue tends to confound the leading conspiracy theory?

5 -  Does it now appear at all likely that there wuld ever be a conclusive explanation for the loss of the U.S. sub in 1968?

6 - What has been the convention (minimum average time) for submarine secrets to be divulged by various navies (in Vigilis's opinion)?   ___  years.

7- How many years have already elapsed since May 1968? 

8- BONUS QUESTION:  Where is the longest submarine memorial in the U.S. now located?

ANSWERS:  Friday, 18 NOV 2016.

Submarines are always silent and strange.  

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Sunday, October 16, 2016

China Just Denuclearized a Sub ... Wait! There is More

Background

China's first ballistic missile submarine, Type 092 submarine (Xia-class), was laid down in 1978, launched in 1981 and commissioned by 1983. - Wikipedia

China's Latest Claims


2016-10-16China's first nuclear submarine decommissioned
China's first nuclear-powered submarine has been decommissioned after more than 40 years of military service, according to the naval authorities.

After undergoing a thorough denuclearization process, the submarine was towed to a wharf belonging to the Chinese Navy Museum in Qingdao, a port city in east China's Shandong Province, on Saturday, where it will be a public exhibit.

The submarine's release from military service and the safe, thorough and reliable handling of related nuclear waste, nuclear reactor and other devices showed China's life-cycle maintenance ability, ranging from a nuclear submarine's production, operation, management to disposal, the naval authorities said.  

Coincidences

AUG. 23, 2016 |  North Korea Test-Fires Missile From Submarine
— North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile from a submarine off its eastern coast on Wednesday, demonstrating a significant improvement in its efforts to build a harder-to-detect means to strike American and allied forces, the South Korean military said.

The missile, launched from near Sinpo, a submarine base, flew 310 miles toward Japan, the South Korean military said in a statement. The statement said that the test showed that North Korea was making “progress” after several failed tests of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, or SLBMs.

A DuplicateSub

"A second boat is thought to have been completed in 1982, however this is debatable. There is little information regarding the history of this ship if in fact it actually existed. It is suggested, though not confirmed, that this second Type 092 was lost in an accident in 1985.[6][7][8] "

Worst Case Analysis

 Molten Eagle: If a second Xia-class SSBN ship exists, it could well be the one displayed at the Chinese Navy Museum in Qingdao.   With its denuclearized (propulsion reactor systems) removed, the actual Xia, with its 12 missile tubes and 6 torpedo tubes, and which has undergone numerous refits, including new coating, possible quieting technologies, French-designed sonar, and improved longer ranged JL-1A SLBM missiles, would be the game changing launch platform North Korea has been seeking to get within missile range of every U.S. target.

Whether obtained covertly by North Korea or its ally Iran, Xia could easily be refitted with an AIP propulsion plant to provide greater stealth and much simpler operating and training requirements than any nuclear submarine. Such improvements would offer a significant near-term strike nuclear potential to either of these petulant regimes. Does China twist the truth? Calculate the years of service of the Xia and compare to "40 years in active operation" claimed by China.


Submarines are always silent and strange. 

 

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Monday, October 10, 2016

The really bad smell

Background 
Former submariner Walter Lyon served over 1,200 days at sea (from 2000-2010) as ship’s diver and fire control technician. Lyon was last assigned to the Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Toledo (SSN-769). He now co-publishes Submarine Tough with his buddy Josh Toth.

In early February New London Conneticut's TheDay published Toth's opinion that, “Submariners don’t do a good job of selling how cool their lifestyle is.”  The former submariners see their podcast as a way to bring an understanding of the submarine force to the masses.

Former Groton sailors talk submarines, everything else in podcast 

What happened next ....

Well, rather than doing a good job of selling how cool their lifestyle is, readers (or listeners) got the opposite --- an underbelly of topics that make submarine service seem highly undesirable, at least for thoughtful women or timid "snowflakes".   


Task & Purpose, bills itself as, news and culture site geared toward the next great generation of American veterans . We offer an outlet for well-written analysis and commentary on veterans and greater military affairs."  Task & Purpose published this interview of Walter Lyon on October 7, 2016: Life On A Submarine: Raunchy, Cramped, And Occasionally Smells Like Sh*t

Several topics mentioned in the Lyon interview may be natural turnoffs to some of the women and men in the submarine force's declining recruitment pool.  We can hardly blame Mr. Lyon for simply telling the truth.

Examples:

  • They operate in world where disaster is narrowly averted by the smallest of margins, due in large part to the hard work and diligence of every sailor onboard. It’s a dangerous job in an unforgiving environment.  
  • what it’s like to live in a submerged pressurized container, where to go for a little “private time,” 
  • Every square inch of space is taken up, so sometimes you’ll be sleeping next to a crate of eggs. Sometimes the rack that you’re in is right next to a torpedo. It’s really cramped. What you do is called hot-racking, which is three guys to every two beds and we say “it’s not gay, if you’re under way.”
  • what happens when the sanitation valves aren’t set up correctly --- It ruined pizza night for the sub..  we had pressurized poop go ... into the kitchen. The machinist mates, called A-gangers got the valve line-up wrong in such a way that the poop went through one of the deep sinks and sprayed the entire galley.
  •  submarine warfare qualification takes about a year ... In that year, your sole job is to learn every inch of that submarine from bow to stern and you’re not allowed to smoke cigarettes, you’re not allowed to eat sugary cereal, you’re not allowed to eat dessert, you’re not allowed to watch movies, you’re not allowed to read any content not related to submarines.  
 Submarines are always silent and strange. 

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