Thursday, May 03, 2007

Submarine Media Flubs: When Will Journalists Qualify?

With no concession for rank or rate all permanently assigned submariners must qualify on their boats. The reasons are obvious. Submarines are particularly hazardous in non-intuitive ways. Crews are not supernumerary. In fact, random individuals must be prepared to substitute for casualty victims. Mission and, obviously, survival, depend upon it. The stakes have always been extreme.

Journalists, however, with the occasional exception of premium financial types rarely have even minimal qualifications for some of the news they report. There is an underlying assumption that critical errors will be caught and corrected by others and reported in timely fashion to original recipients. Sometimes the stakes can be very serious, as in health, public safety, governmental, and political matters. Why political? Think of the current war. How high are the stakes and dire the potential consequences if we elect the wrong senator (six year term), wrong congressman (2 year term), or wrong president (up to 8 years in 2 terms)?

Vigilis has long maintained that journalists possess qualifications in the matters they report, or disclaim their qualification in their report. My proposal is long overdue, and in my opinion, should be a no-brainer.

Twice since May 1st, submariners have noted journalistic errors in submarine stories referring to atmosphere (see color coded references below). The stakes are not considered high, because the audience is either expert or aloof. Do you agree?

Hat tip Old Gary: "It’s always funny to see how people mis-understand how the old diesel submarines operated. .... I suppose it's only funny to those of us who have served on submarines."
The journalist said...
These submarines were powered by diesel fuel on the surface, but had to rely on battery power when they submerged because of the fumes. source

Hat tip Amos the Hairy: "An easy mistake for civilians to make, but these are reporters who already have important opinions about CO2, not the least of which are their equally suspect opinions on climate change."

The journalist said...
The other important step when it comes to oxygen is to make sure potentially toxic carbon monoxide is removed from the submarine atmosphere. That’s accomplished by what is known as a “CO2 scrubber”. It contains a chemical compound which filters the carbon dioxide from the air and diffuses into waste which is pumped overboard. source

----------------------------------N O T E S ------------------------------------
Of course carbon monoxide is both flammable and poisonous to humans. Only 1% of the CO inhaled by sub crews is expelled as CO2 (99% is still CO).

USS Seawolf (SSN 575) on 6 Oct. 1958, completed a record-breaking 60-day submerged run, traveling a distance of more than 13,000 miles submerged with completely sealed atmosphere.
Air samples taken aboard the SEAWOLF during period 3-26 November, 1958 detected the following gross samples on which no preliminary separation of constituents was made: carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, water vapor, Freon-12, methane, methyl alcohol, acetylene and nitrous oxide. Each contaminant was measured quantitatively and found to be well below permissible limits.

The science was assistive to the nation's nascent space program as well as future submarine missions.



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