Thursday, March 29, 2007

CNO: Adding the submarine money, in particular, would be "very destabilizing"

The clash continues between the Navy and many of its Capitol Hill allies. Some senior House lawmakers want to boost ship purchases next year to strengthen the U.S. shipbuilding industry.

Navy officials say industry and military leaders must first stabilize long-range planning and investments in facilities and workforce -- before they can tackle more orders than already planned. (source).

Chief of Naval Operations Michael Mullen said Adding submarine money, in particular, would be "very destabilizing," because it would commit the Navy to additional submarine funding in fiscal 2009 and fiscal 2010.

Strange posturing for the Navy? Not with the major submarine designs currently under development. The Navy must always promise Congress that its submarines will have a life of x - years. That means Congress will not allow the Navy to return beforehand and claim the hulls and reactors are worn out and prohibitively expensive to keep in service. In Rickover's day, the durability promise was 25 years. Extraordinary methods were taken for some early nukes to limp along to fulfill that promise.

Today's submarine durability promise is considerably longer, and DOD budgets are significantly tighter. What are the admirals waiting for?

As part of an announced, four-year DARPA/Navy program known as Tango Bravo (technology breakthroughs), _____ will develop an external weapon-launch system that can stow, communicate with and deliver Advanced Capability torpedoes outside the pressure hull. Space-saving is an acknowledged advantage of stowing torpedoes outboard. Finally, the not so obvious advantage of reduced force size (with U.S. submarines of significantly greater flexibility and endurance) is added stealth. That could be tremendous to forward positioning in areas such as the South China Sea. It will require a radically different playing of today's submarine "shell game." Subs could eventually be deployed much longer (over a year?), rotating smaller crews and provisioning as necessary via a submerged tender (mother sub in each theatre) while SUBMERGED. Yes, it may be more practical for DSRV-type subs to ferry between the mother sub and the patrolling SSN/GN/XN.

The fire control (system) power requirement for the HMS Gotland was 75 kW in 1997, for instance. The related power requirement for the 688I class subs was 550 kW. Why do I bring this up? Check this DARPA initiative out: Future Submarine Power Plants and perhaps a hint will be revealed. DARPA, of course, is the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.

Again, what are the admirals waiting for? Could it be newer, more flexible, less expensive submarine designs? Yes.

Submarines, always silent and strange.



Monday, March 26, 2007

Future Submarine Power Plants: 100- to 1000-kw ?

Intriguing news - Cold Fission, would utilize liquid semiconductors to produce improved nuclear batteries. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office posted a major patent application in November(excerpts):

Tsang, a former U.S. Energy Department researcher, was well aware of the beta cell’s problems. “Shoot a bullet into a block of ice, and the ice will shatter and can’t go back into its original form,” Tsang says. “But if you shoot a bullet into water, the water repairs itself.” So he began experiments replacing solid semiconductors with molten selenium and molten sulfur, both of which become semiconductors in their liquid state and melt at less than 300 °C. Because liquids don’t suffer any structural damage, Tsang’s nuclear battery could run on much more powerful radiation than a beta cell, and therefore generate more electricity.

A liquid nuclear diode could catch energetic alpha and beta particles, gamma rays, and even the new atoms left over from the fission of larger atoms, Tsang says. Fissile fragments could be a particularly good source of energy. In the fission of U-235, for example, the fragments carry 85 percent of the energy released. Because the fragments are heavy, as they plow through the semiconductor they “make a shower of electron-hole pairs along the path,” he says.

Although the prototype is still only 1% efficient, its promise impresses the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).

With submarine power plants in mind, DARPA offered to pay GTI $26.6 million to prove the feasibility of a 100- to 1000-kw sized reactor. Obviously, prototypes can be undersized, but DARPA has been looking for direct (electrical) drive propulsion, smaller, cheaper boats and elimination of excess crew. Curiously, the operating temperature of the nuclear cold fission batteries is not expected to exceed that of a kitchen oven.



Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Bubblehead - Camouflage Update

We can be glad Bubblehead is on our side militarily. He still practices safe-stealth by randomly changing camouflages to protect his true appearance. As a result, the template used for February's One for the Idaho Bubblehead cartoon has become virtually obsolete.

The March cartoon reflects even the lower half of Bubblehead's face hidden in his current blog photo. No doubt the rascal will employ other devious methods to ruin this template, as well. Before anyone asks, the other character is not me, it is a creation. If it resembles Gus Van Horn's blog photo, or anyone else you may know, what a coincidence!

Anyone desiring may copy, print or re-publish these cartoons provided the Molten Eagle authorship is continuously maintained. Bubblehead and an unknown blogger own phantom shares in the Molten Eagle blog, so be careful.
Word just in ... Bubblehead is letting his beard grow.


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Submarines and Freedom of the Press

News regarding U.S. Navy submarines has been managed 95% of the time since at least the late sixties when I qualified. That does not mean there have not been inadvertent, unmanageable slips.

Except for the slips, all this is good for national security and the most economical alternative for taxpayers funding military, black program, high technology.

Were you aware that twenty-five year old machinist Michael Dayton was stationed in Germany? WUPW-TV (Fox Toledo News, Channel 36) reported a local Navy seaman was injured in a submarine explosion in Germany this weekend, where the twenty-five year old machinist was stationed.

The Navy is flying him to a burn center in San Antonio. His mother has been advised that her son is expected to stay in San Antonio for at least two months. Michael was repairing a pump belt. As he was working, a safety valve exploded engulfing him in a "steam fueled blaze" (sic). Flames burned Michael's leg, neck and face. Although he suffered third degree burns, he is expected to make a full recovery. Our prayers are certainly with this young fellow and his family.

As of this writing there has been no statement by public Navy sources. The Sub Report (just checked) has picked up the story. Bravo, Eric!

Now the obvious questions. Was Michael working on one of Germany's AIP subs? Was he working on a U.S. sub in Germany? Was anyone aware of German billets for U.S. submariners?

Over one year ago Molten Eagle advised of AIP to the Rescue. Last April, we speculated about Sweden's HMS Gotland: The Attendant Mysteries. And in November, Molten Eagle advised on the Taiwan AIP submarine issue. The pont? Here is what we said in November:

The DOD sees the big advantages of deploying AIP subs in the U.S. fleet. Unit cost is closer to $100 million than over $2 billion for the latest Virginia class submarines. Operating costs are much lower, as well, without nuclear powerplant operators. While U.S. companies will build these subs, Sweden will not sell upgraded stealth technology to foreign countries, because Sweden will provide AIP and perhaps other key hardware to Electric Boat. The U.S. boats will be between 236 and 256 feet in length, around 3,000 tons displacement and still crewed by 30 sailors (with room for 20 or so SEALs or mission hardware).

Just idle chatter? Then what about this Strategy Page article from March 15, 2007? All comments welcomed, but since submarines are always silent and strange, few substantive comments are expected, only vague explanations to protect the incompetent news handlers. When was the last time one was fired?


Monday, March 19, 2007

Submariner (Male) Conversion Tables: Teaspoons Down!

One of the best things about the web is the availability of handy conversions. There is no adult male who has not been exposed to the myriad uselessness of idiotic conversions only chefs can remember, such as the garlic of all conversions:

Cooking Measurement Equivalent
6 tablespoons = 3/8 cup (wow, that's really useful)

What's missing? From the French:
Among others, chefs call them a pinch, a dash, a drop and a gill. Be careful ... the drop, for instance comes in three varieties (metric, UK, and US)!

What is a pinch? Sailors say a pinch is rump dependent.
Want to get slapped? For larger rumps a pinch is the thumb and three fingers. For a more appreciated pinch, it was a thumb and two fingers. For hippies, it was a thumb and one (that is what chefs use).

Most males are at a permanent deficit for attention to cups other than AB&Cs.

What are male conversions? You can find the most important ones here, courtesy of a woman, Carolyn Smagloski, president of CQ Web Wide LLC!

Whatever you do. don't pass this on to strategic or objective thinkers. You know who you are Van Hornbeam and Chappaquiddickmatic. And many thanks to my talented shipmate at a geezer's corner for a culinary inspiration as a change of pace.


Sunday, March 18, 2007

Can Submarine Commander Fix the Military Academy with the Feminine Gender?

ANNAPOLIS - A career submariner with a history of successful handling of sexual misconduct incidents has been nominated as next superintendant of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Rear Adm. Jeffrey L. Fowler, a 1978 academy graduate, has served in the Middle East as well as under four oceans and commanded a squadron of fast-attack, nuclear-powered subs. Fowler, a North Dakota native, is deputy director of the U.S. 6th Fleet and commands allied submarine forces Mediterranean. He would replace Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt, whose tarnished, four-year term ends in 2007. President Bush nomination must be be confirmed by the fickle Senate, including Sen. John McCain, who has a historical record at odds with submariners.

The Naval Academy has struggled with charges of sexual abuse and harassment since first admitting women in 1976. In 2006, the football team's star quarterback, Lamar S. Owens was accused of raping a female midshipman. Academy Supt. Vice Adm. Rodney P. Rempt recommended that Owens be dismissed despite acquittal on the rape charges.

If someone like Fowler does not straighten out the feminization of the USNA soon, it is likely to default to the training command solely for the supernumerary Judge Advocate General corps.
We have too many lawyers in the military already, in some people's opinion.

"A lot of alumni would like to see an effort to get back to the basics," said alumnus John Howland, who distributes news and manages an alumni blog. "A lot of us see this past few years as being a pretty rough time." Master Chief Petty Officer Evelyn Banks, a senior enlisted adviser to Fowler at a Navy recruiting command, attests to Fowler's capabilities for gender challenges.


Perspective from Vessel Powered by 8 Nuclear Reactors

Submariners will appreciate the perspective reported today by the journalist in an article titled It's a giant ship, but a crowded city. Just to set the record straight, we appreciate the valiant service and vital military needs accomplished by each sailor and marine on formidable vessels like the USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

The reporter, Beaufort Gazette's LORI YOUNT, and a group of about 10 other civilians flew aboard Enterprise on a C-2 Greyhound March 8th. Yount's aircraft routinely caught an arresting cable, deccelerating from over 100 mph to 0 mph in a matter of just a few seconds. In about 25 hours the visitors were catapulted off the Enterprise's flight deck at some 128 mph. This was barely 4 days before the USS San Juan (SSN 751) would be declared communicatively overdue and not very far from her airplane's departure point 45-minutes back to Jacksonville.

What follows are a few excerpts from the civilian reporter's story (linked to above). Bold text emphasis is mine. Remember, everything is relative:

[The flight deck was] 300 feet above the ocean floor. ... [it is] almost 4.5 acres .... [but] Its vastness is lost in the crowding.

I couldn't sleep during the six hours allotted, in part because of the voices over the PA reporting nuclear reactor leaks. We were warned before that they were only drills, ...

most sailors and Marines on the carrier find themselves in a grueling routine of at least a 12-hour work shift followed by a meal, which could mean about 30 minutes standing in line, an hour or so of exercise and squeezing in four to six hours of sleep.

There is no cell phone reception out at sea, and it costs 50 cents a minute to use the phone... Most use e-mail to stay in touch with family and friends, but Internet access can be slow or spotty...

[the sailors and Marines] have to go out in July for six months on deployment -- for the second time in less than a year.

No mention of the San Juan or two other submarines operating with the USS Enterprise Carrier Strike Group was made by the reporter, because the Navy has not issued a statement of findings relative to its thorough review of an event initiated from what would appear to be false indicators, and because: Submarines are always silent and strange.


Thursday, March 15, 2007

Exceptionally Scarce Quotations of the Honest Kind

From July 1, 1850, in Abraham Lincoln's Notes for a Law Lecture: ... if in your own judgment you cannot be an honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. [emphasis added]

If a digest of honest lawyer quotations (excluding Honest Abe's) were interesting and lengthy enough to publish for profit, it would have been published by now. Has anyone seen or googled such a digest lately? Hints:

Your search - "candid lawyer quotations" - did not match any documents.
Your search - "honest lawyer quotations" - did not match any documents.

Of course, lawyers must occasionally tell the truth. Here are 2, very candid admissions from two highly-placed lawyers without political careers.

As an independent voter, I appreciate their unsolicited honesty.



Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Terrorism's Tentacles or Inexperienced Carrier Crew?

This report is disturbing regardless of the incident's root cause. Only as a last ditch resort would the Navy alarm immediate relatives of a submarine's (USS San Juan in this case) crew that is was missing (realtime drills like that are simply not conducted).

Something other than what has been reported happened, however. Communications equipment failure? U.S. nuclear submarines are noted for systems redundancy. Malfunctions that can be anticipated, are also largely preventable and could rarely jeopardize the missions of such stealth platforms manned by expert crews.

Excerpts from SUBLANT's public statement in the Navy newstand:

Losses of communications, followed by the reported sighting of a red flare, are distress indicators.

These indicators, combined with establishing communications with only two of the three submarines operating with the Enterprise CSG, was sufficient information to activate missing submarine procedures.

Although this was a false alarm, ... Procedures demonstrated that the submarine escape and rescue program is able to quickly respond ...

What to expect (in order of declining probability):

We will hear nothing beyond a routine-sounding finding that multiple breakdowns in communications aboard the Enterprise led to false indicators causing activation of missing submarine procedures (immediate search, ISMERLO alert, notification of family, etc.). The USS San Juan will deploy as planned. (Non-judicial punishment against member(s) of Enterprise crew would be suppressed).


We will hear nothing beyond a routine-sounding inquiry finding that intermittent equipment failure led to the false alarm and the USS San Juan is on planned deployment. (This would shed no further light upon whether there had been a replacement of one or more of the San Juan's crew, possibly including a junior officer, or enlisted man, or what the actual root cause of the problem had been, unless one happens to endure secretive handling similar to this guy).


The USS San Juan will be diverted to Portsmouth shipyard for unscheduled equipment upgrades. (This would betray that the San Juan had actually been involved in a collision with one of her operating units.)


A commercial airliner en route to Europe, or a space shuttle (currently not flying) will not be mysteriously downed in the next two years. (This might indicate the successful conclusion of a stealth mission off the U.S. Atlantic coast between USS Enterprise Carrier Strike Group and a submarine threat from a previously undisclosed enemy of the U.S.).

If you believe another significant outcome is missing, feel free to comment at any time.



Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Submariner President Finally Vindicated

During his presidential re-election campaign in 1979 [19], James Earl Carter was mocked for reporting that a swamp rabbit on a farm pond allegedly swam to and attempted to board his small fishing boat. The story appeared on the front page of The Washington Post and was reported on the evening news of all the major television networks.

I well remember the TV commentator referring to President Jimmy Carter's Killer Rabbit encounter. So much personal and Republican ridicule ensued it was as if Carter had reported seeing a UFO. Actually, he had already reported his UFO sighting in 1969 (copy of Carter's UFO report).

Now, there is more evidence of close encounters seemingly of the 5th (whiskey) kind. Here is an amazing one (photo above):
Much to my amazement my colleagues and I spotted this guy swimming for the rocks in Lake Burragorang. Even the locals were surprised to see that kangaroos can swim. August 2006 --Kendall Shaw

President Carter, at last, may be vindicated as the honest, observant fellow he really is. Afterall, he was once a submariner. These submarine fellows, even the crazy nukes, are more observant than most, less likely to spout outlandish stories (their true stories are incredible enough) and next to NASA astronauts, more apt to have bizarre, out of world experiences than ordinary people.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Buried Beneath Moscow's Submarine "Exchange" Visits

It is very important that the United States does not forget that Russia has a navy, Adm. Vladimir Masorin, Russian naval commander-in-chief, said recently. Masorin added that Russia's Navy command had invited the U.S. Navy to exchange submarine visits, but the U.S. had declined.

Submarines are stealth platforms. What will Russia do next, extend invitations for the CIA's undercover spies to visit the Kremlin in another innocent exchange program? Does Russia expect us to forget she has an assortment of customers who are either avowed U.S. enemies or military technology trading partners with them? Participant spies would be subject to all manner of surveillance, identification and tracking techniques that could jeopardize their security later. That much is too obvious.

Masorin called for U.S. signature on a 14-nation agreement to prevent incidents at sea, RIA Novosti reported. The United States has been reluctant to sign, he said. Some incidents at sea have been considered necessary and intended, as Adm. Masorin well knows.

How can Russia be trusted? After the Polonium poisonings in the U.K. and Thallium poisonings of two U.S. tourists in Moscow last month, what reception could elements of the United States Silent Service expect from port visits?

We would now like to sign agreements to ensure submarine navigational safety, Adm. Vladimir Masorin said. Is the Russian admiral making a veiled threat to our submarines (shades of the Cold War)? We can guess that his so-called navigational safety agreement calls for advanced filing of navigation plans prior to entering certain sensitive waters.

Of the agreement's signatories most lack serious submarine espionage capabilities. Can we guess that China and North Korea have signed it?



Thursday, March 01, 2007

Choosing Jingle Updated

Eenie...Meanie…Miney…Moe is a short, English choosing jingle. Known to children throughout the world, the rhyme has countless, regional tongues, variations and more than a few controversies.

A former submariner known as Juan Caruso al Humacao penned a variation that he considers may better reflect original intent.
A recent archeological discovery in Babylon explains the underlying reference to Moe, according to al Humacao:

Eenie...Meanie…Miney…Moe, Catch a prophet by the toe;

Eenie...Meanie…Miney…Moe, If he's peaceful, let him go;

Eenie...Meanie…Miney…Moe, Or, off to Guantánamo!

Apologies to Muslim friends.