Thursday, March 26, 2009

Update: Dispatched To Eternal Patrol By The Chaos of Battle



In the 1990 film The Hunt for Red October based on Tom Clancy's 1984 thriller, future U.S. Senator Fred Dalton Thompson (R-TN) played Rear Admiral Joshua Painter aboard aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. One of the greatest lines of the entire movie is when Admiral Painter says,






This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we will be lucky to live through it.




The line expresses with perfection the fate of the submarine USS SEAWOLF (SS-197) on her 15th war patrol, during the invasion of Morotai. Known as Submarine Raider of the Pacific, her crews had served their country proudly from the very first days of the war in the Pacific. Her missions had been expensive for the enemy, daring for her crew and distinctive for her bold commanding officers, including "Fearless Freddie" Warder, who penetrated over 40 miles into a heavily protected harbor to engage the enemy. On her thirteenth patrol, a successful Top Secret photographic reconnaissance of Peleliu (Palau), she rescued two downed aviators during air raids. On her fourteenth patrol, SEAWOLF delivered cargo to guerrilla activities in the Philippines. More about the SS-197 can be found here, at our original posting.




Auction UPDATE:




Check out this ebay auction, Buy It Now price $5,500. No bids, and 1 offer so far.




Assuming authenticity, the christening box for the champagne bottle used by sponsor, Mrs. E.C. Kalbfus, on August 15, 1939, in Seawolf's christening-launching ceremony. The box was apparently presented to Mrs. Kalbfus as a ceremony keepsake.


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Until we spotted the auction we had never realized such christening boxes even existed. Here is another, for a minesweeper launched in 1943, priced at a mere $100.


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We will see if the Seawolf box sells as listed, and let you know. If not, we will try to see if it gets relisted at a lower price. We are connected neither with these ebay items nor their auctions.


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Submarines are always silent and strange.
















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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Prediction in Perspective


The prediction had been:

July 04, 2005 - [H]ere is the prediction based upon current ability and future need to use: STSLN (small tactical submarine launched nukes) from America's Arsenal of Democracy.



For that, Vigilis received an immediate dose of technically accurate and mildly abrasive criticism.


On 27 September 1991, President Bush announced initiatives affecting the entire US nuclear weapons arsenal. The United States removed all tactical nuclear weapons, including nuclear cruise missiles, from its surface ships and attack submarines. The nuclear equiped UGM-109A TLAM-N Tomahawk was withdrawn from service in 1992, though conventional versions remain operational.
Our prediction stood.


Now, we know our former Cold War adversary still gets the advantages of small, tactical nukes.



The International Herald Tribune writes that Russia in 2006 signaled it no longer intended to abide by the 1991 decision when then-Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov said that Russian submarines were carrying tactical nuclear weapons on patrol. ...


With advances in the range and sophistication of tactical nuclear arms, Russian military leaders say low-yield nuclear warheads attached to cruise missiles fired from attack submarines make more sense than loading powerful bombs onto bigger strategic submarines, United Press International (UPI) reported with reference to RIA-Novosti.


A suitcase-sized (approximately 1 KT) nuke would be very deniable as well as destabilizing. M.E. is opposed to unilateral disarmament of the West. If our SOF found a terror cell with a suitcase nuke, appropriate hygiene might include making them an example of ineptitude with a symmetrical strike from a (Russian or US) sub.

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Submarines are always silent and strange.


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Monday, March 23, 2009

Navy's Operation RESUS - Great Intentions - Topic May Crawl with Ethics Concerns


On new year's day we summarized the status of a medical development of particular significance to submariners and astronauts (resuscitation of operational casualties with severe blood loss without availability of blood transfusions). Today's news updated the unfortunate status of Hemopure product (clinical holds) and final attempts to get the product approved:


At the end of 2008, Biopure received another body blow, this time from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, which refused to allow the U.S. Naval Medical Research Center to conduct a clinical trial of Biopure’s Hemopure product. The U.S. Navy had filed for a clinical trial for the resuscitation of operational casualties with severe hemorrhagic shock without availability of blood transfusions.


Biopure develops pharmaceuticals, called oxygen therapeutics, that are intravenously administered to deliver oxygen to the body’s tissues. Hemopure is approved for sale in South Africa for the treatment of surgical patients who are acutely anemic.


Biopure’s veterinary product Oxyglobin is the only oxygen therapeutic approved for marketing by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission for the treatment of anemia in dogs.


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Monday, 23 March 2009 - An Alternative ...

British scientists to create 'synthetic' blood

Human embryos will be used to make an unlimited supply for infection-free transfusions

In Britain, the project was held up because of the difficulty of finding funding for "translational" research that attempts to take scientific studies in the laboratory into the earliest stages of commercial development. This problem has now been overcome.
Submarines are always silent and strange.





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Friday, March 20, 2009

Lessons Not Learned (Submarine + LPD)


Flashback to January 27, 2002, about 40 nautical miles off the coast of Oman:



While transferring personnel from USS GREENEVILLE to USS OGDEN(LPD 5), the hull of OGDEN and GREENEVILLE's stern plate came into contact which resulted in a rupture to one of OGDEN's fuel tanks. The 5-by-18-inch long rupture was below the waterline at the back on the right side. Both ships continued to operate safely and GREENEVILLE headed toward Diego Garcia for an underwater assessment. Source

No one is saying a calamity has been repeated, even if the above source is to be believed.


Curiously, neither the Ogden's nor the Greenville's CO was relieved of duty after the incident.

In other words, whatever hazardous transfer evolution occurred was too important not to condone, despite the hazard to both vessels. Hmmm.


The obvious questions:


If USS Hartford was not involved in another transfer evolution with an LPD (USS New Orleans), why did it allow itself to be overrun by the LPD? Subs usually want to maintain minimum distance to surface vessels.


How do we know the LPD overran the sub? How else would a collision of the two rupture the LPD's centerline fuel tank(s)?


Considering that the Navy may have conducted a secretive transfer operation in the relatively narrow and highly surveilled Strait of Hormuz, what deception(s) of the enemy was involved?


We will not attempt to answer these questions, and do not expect you to answer them, either.

Have fun thinking about the possibilities, however, unless you are the enemy, in which case you should stay up all night and stew with NECESSARY worry and anticipation.


Submarine are always silent and strange.



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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Interim Follow-Up on EU Bumper Sub Fiasco

Mar 19, 2009 - Reuters UK - Doubts raised over nuclear submarine plan


Prime Minister Gordon Brown said on Tuesday Britain was prepared to include its nuclear arsenal, the smallest of the five recognised nuclear weapons states, in multilateral arms control talks.

He said Britain had already cut its nuclear arsenal by half since 1997 to fewer than 160 warheads and could consider reducing them further as part of multilateral talks.




Now, the farfetched possibility M.E. mentioned over 30 days ago has gained another shred of plausibility:



What really happened is some very bad press has been generated for extremely costly nuclear missile submarine forces of 2 EU countries, both currently debating whether or not to fund their respective programs into the future. The bad press would likely have been intended to help political opponents of military spending in France and the U.K. kill the funding. Are there still other possibilities? Yes. If M.E. had to guess at this point, UK equipment failure would be high on the list.



Consider mutual agreement between France and the UK to conduct a low speed collision. Beyond the pale? In the current financial crisis, think of the money each country would save by abandoning boomer subs.



Now, standy for the verdicts on the French and British COs involved. M.E. predicted:

...both captains will either be exonerated or mildly censored.



Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Who Has the Bear Watch?





Fourteen months ago (before the global financial meltdown) we posed a thought experiment in Rock-Paper-Scissors = U.S. Strategy:








What would the U.S. do if/when China attempts to park an aircraft carrier and/or missile firing submarines in the only deep water port in Baja California, Ensenada?


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Here's the answer we gave:





It is already being done with dollars, EU currency and secret diplomatic arrangements that may not be shared publicly during your lifetime. China is now heavily dependent on the U.S. as a trading partner. Forget the familiar propaganda about China dumping the large share of U.S. debt that it has bought. Dumping means selling, of course. Who are the willing buyers? If the U.S. buys back debt at current rates, the size of the transaction itself would instantly lower dollar value in runaway episodes (too large to be done all at once, evenin 5 years). In effect, China would be agreeing to be paid cents on
the dollar (in addition to invalidating lucrative trade arrangements). China is
enjoying its U.S. trading partnership and has no intention of upsetting its apple cart.



Have we been correct so far on China?


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Has a Russian Bear bomber overflown Venezuelan woods?

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Interesting Revelation


Yesterday, Galrahn advised us of a probable truth: Mabus for SecNav.




What most did not realize is at least curious:






Century 2, Quatrain 62 -



Mabus will soon die, then will come, A horrible undoing of people and animals, At once one will see vengeance, One hundred powers, thirst, famine, when the comet will pass. - Michel de Nostredame source



Academic sources maintain that associations between world events and Nostradamus's quatrains are largely misinterpretations (sometimes deliberate) so as to render them useless evidence of predictive power. Moreover, none of the sources listed offers any evidence that anyone has ever interpreted any of Nostradamus's quatrains specifically enough to allow a clear identification of any event in advance.[2]
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Fortunately, as often stated, submariners are not superstitious.
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Submarines are always silent and strange.


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Monday, March 16, 2009

'Big Picture' Updates - Out of Sight, Out of Mind


* Acquired from the Navy through the Freedom of Information Act by FAS nuclear expert Hans Kristensen:


While the total number of patrols has dropped significantly from a high in 1967, the pace of operations for each submarine has remained comparable. Each submarine is on patrol for 70-90 percent of the year, compared to 50-70 percent during the Cold War. source


Observation... only 14 SSBNs now versus 41 then .... something key is missing to make these utilization percentages work.
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* Acquired from regional technology journal:
The company will design and test high-electron laser, free-electron laser, and other high-energy systems that could be used to destroy weapons of mass destruction and vehicles carrying them. source

Observation... no platforms are mentioned. Can we infer naval vessels, submarine lasers, perhaps? As Steve Jobs said, "We are just as proud of things we leave out."

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* Acquired from nytimes.com: Monday, March 16, 2009 -Flawed Science Advice for Obama?

Does being spectacularly wrong about a major issue in your field of expertise hurt your chances of becoming the presidential science advisor? ...Dr. Holdren, now a physicist at Harvard, was one of the experts in natural resources whom Paul Ehrlich enlisted in his famous bet against the economist Julian Simon during the “energy crisis” of the 1980s. ...In 1980 Dr. Holdren helped select five metals — chrome, copper, nickel, tin and tungsten — and joined Dr. Ehrlich and Dr. Harte in betting $1,000 that those metals would be more expensive ten years later. They turned out to be wrong on all five metals, and had to pay up when the bet came due in 1990.
Obsevation... apparently, scientific advice presupposes support for assumptions on topics like the global warming agenda. Dr. Holdren’s resistance to dissenting views was also on display earlier this year in an article asserting that climate skeptics are dangerous.
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Acquired here: A Green Method of Nuclear Waste Disposal

The container for the waste is called a Submarine Transport Vehicle (STV) and is similar to a nuclear submarine that uses the seabed as a transit medium, not a dumping ground.
Dean S. Engelhardt, a nuclear design engineer has a patent on an invention that he claims will completely eliminate nuclear waste from our environment by sending it to the center of the earth. .. The ultimate goal of this concept is not getting the waste to the earth’s core, but to subject it to the increasing pressures of the descent for the first million years or so. Engelhardt quotes the the recently deceased Dr. James Warf, one of the original nuclear scientists on the Manhattan project, as saying that this is the only concept he’s seen that will eliminate nuclear waste.
Observation... this has been an obvious solution for decades. Why? Because the cons are neither obvious nor illuminated by popular media. This article was positive, and dismissive of a very important caveat in satating the improbable: Gravity eliminates the chance that the waste can return to the surface in a volcano.
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Submarines are always silent and strange.




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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Getting to the Bottom of It




According to press accounts, the Impeccable was conducting surveys off Hainan that are probably intended to assist U.S. Navy in detecting and tracking China's fast-growing submarine fleet.
Also enlightening. Only time or tide will tell.


Submarines are always silent and strange.


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Monday, March 09, 2009

ANSWERS - Mystery Questions of the Week for 3-6-2009


ANSWERS (Kudos to Rick for getting several answers correct):
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1 ) - What U.S. submarine was this (name and hull number)? This was the former USS Shark (hull # SS-08), redesignated as the A-7 in 1911.
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2 ) - In what body of water were these scenes recorded? The post cards scenes were recorded in Manila Bay, Phillipine Islands. A-7, based at at Cavite with her sister ships conducted torpedo trials, diving operations, patrols and other trials in Manila Bay.
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3 ) - During WW1 what happened to a CO of this submarine? In the early era of submarining, gasoline engines provided propulsive power. Lt. (j.g.) Arnold Marcus assumed command of the A-7 in the Spring of 1917. The boat's gasoline engine had been recently overhauled. Engine fumes ignited causing explosion and fire during A-7's patrol in Manila Bay. Marcus and his men battled the blaze. The last man to emerge from the crippled submarine, Marcus sent distress signals to the monitor Monadnock. He then took the helm in an attempt to beach the ship.
Marcus refused medical treatment until after all of his men had been treated (six would later die) and he had to be ordered to leave his post. The gallant Marcus died the next day 25 July 1917, of the effects of the explosion and fire that had ravaged his command. The Navy recognized this young officer's selfless heroism in naming a ship, Marcus (Destroyer No. 321), in his honor. source
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4 ) - Considering the fates of later submarines with this name, are submariners superstitious?
As a lot U.S. submariners are decidedly not superstitious. For instance, USS Shark (SS-314) was sunk Oct 44 during its 3rd WW2 patrol by depth charge off South Formosa (all men lost). Earlier, Feb 42, USS Shark (SS-174) had been sunk on its 2nd war patrol (all men lost). more
Contrary Submariner Superstition Comment: Lieutenant Igor Vasilenko, an officer from the Irkutsk submarine, committed suicide when the Irkutsk arrived in the Zvezda plant on November 26. He shot himself in his cabin on board the submarine. Superstitious seamen said that the Kursk's damnation haunts every submarine of the Antei class. THE KURSK'S DAMNATION - Yury Golotyuk, Vremya Novostei, November 30, 2001.
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Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Friday, March 06, 2009

Mystery Questions of the Week for 3-6-2009

Most of us could quickly find humor in these period German post cards (M.E. has hidden the sub's identification and location). Undoubetdly, however, these were sailors of uncommon courage.

The upper card was sent to a young lady in 1913, with the following handwritten description:
This is a Torpedo boat. Other words a Submarine (name). This little ship will dive under water and go many miles and come up again and shoot a torpedo and blow up the incoming ships. - (illegible), USMC

Mystery Questions:
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1 ) - What U.S. submarine was this (name and hull number)?
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2 ) - In what body of water were these scenes recorded?
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3 ) - During WW1 what happened to a CO of this submarine?
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4 ) - Considering the fates of later submarines with this name, are submariners superstitious?
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Answers Monday.
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Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Thursday, March 05, 2009

A Rare and Fatal Disease


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Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Replacing Virginia Class Subs ... High Speed Train or Transmission Lines?

3/5/2009 UPDATE: Congressional delegation thinks subs are safe in budget - Virginia class has been free of delays, overruns as defense cuts loom (TheDay.com)
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The preceeding update certainly had to be expected; what happens next, may not be:
3/4/2009 UPDATE: - U.S. professor recommends Gotland-class submarine (Defpro.news)
In the February issue of the respected Armed Forces Journal, Professor Mikan Vego of the US Naval War College proposes that the US Navy complement its force of nuclear submarines with a number of conventional submarines. ... Compared with other conventional submarines of similar capabilities, the Gotland class comes with an attractive price tag, notes Professor Vego. According to him, a Gotland-class submarine costs almost 30 percent less than other comparable submarines.



From The Boston Globe 3 March 2009 -

Penny-pincher at the Pentagon - excerpts [highlights added]:


THE BEST measure of President Obama's commitment to reducing the deficit by cutting defense spending is his appointment of Harvard's Ashton Carter as the Pentagon official in charge of buying weapons.
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When it comes to stimulating the economy, however, a costly ship or plane that will rarely if ever fire a shot cannot hold a candle to a high-speed train or a new high-voltage transmission line for renewable energy.
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Obama would not have picked Carter without the approval of Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who has already informed Congress that he plans to take a hard look at weapons systems that are a throwback to the Cold War era and ill-suited to the security threats of this century. The Gates rogues' gallery includes ... the Navy's Virginia-class attack submarine that General Dynamics and Northrop Grumman are building.
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Obama will get a fight on submarine cutbacks, not only from industry, but from members of Congress fearing further job losses in their districts. Congressional objections could be easily bought off by routing high speed train tracks or high-voltage transmission lines for renewable energy into those districts.
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Does anyone recall what the Japanese taught the U.S. at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941?
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Submarines are always silent and strange.








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Monday, March 02, 2009

Admirals Carefully Stepping Over the Obvious. Aussie Subs Must Revive Elite Team Spirit


The Strategy Page makes a good assessment of morale problems vexing Australia's submarine service in Automation Kills Submariner Spirit (reading the full article is recommended). There are shortages of both officers and sailors with technical skills. Here are some of what has been reported with Molten Eagle's comments:


. The sailors felt unappreciated and overworked. M.E.: All submariners are relatively overworked, but it goes with the elite team they volunteered to join. Very few feel unappreciated, however.


. Many found the work boring, and felt they spent too much time at sea. ...Crews have been away from home for up to six months at a time. M.E.: How many sailors in most navies do not feel this way? This has been a normal sentiment for U.S. sailors since nuclear propulsion has been available. How long are CVANs away from home?


. Labor-saving automation reduced crew size in Collins class boats to 45, but resulted in a higher workload for the submarine sailors. This is a major reason for the morale problem.

M.E.: British and U.S. boats are not nearly highly automated? Wrong! Excess sailors are assigned to U.S. and British boats to reduce fatigue? Wrong, again! Automation requires technical operators. Technical people tend to disdain non-technical (dirty work) requirements. This is usually not a problem in highly motivated teams, however. Obviously, team spirit and motivation are lacking. Retention is not an individual problem as much as it may be a unit affliction.


. Half of them were getting out of the navy as soon as their current enlistments were up. M.E.: This is not surprising when there is a major morale problem, but did the admiral's psychologists pinpoint the recruiting and retention problems? We bet they did, but no one wants to talk about it:


If morale is to be restored, the service must be promoted as a legitimate occupation of young, red-blooded males. Although improved pay is certainly a necessary ingredient, it will no longer be sufficient. It seems a well-intentioned admiral had seen fit to prove females make great submariners (he thought females would alleviate the retention and recruitment problem).

Years later, we can now see the admiral's plan has not worked out well. The Australian submarine service was a male fraternity with a proud legacy and identity. Becoming a member had been prestigious. The male prestige has been squandered. How many female members do exclusive fraternities admit?

To get around the problem now will require rebuilding team prestige. A major PR campaign will be required, as opposed to this ad hoc attempt, because the Australian public must also be convinced that for qualified, red-blooded youth nothing can beat the travel, thrill, and adventure opportunities of submarining. At the very least, some exotic ports of call, enviable opportunities and the allure of attractive women (in R&R ports) is going to be required in those promos.

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Submarines are always silent and strange









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Sunday, March 01, 2009

ANSWERS: Mystery Questions of the Week - 27 Feb 2009



Questions of the Week from Friday:
1 ) - What was the name of the frigate described?
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2 ) - If another receiving ship eventually took the place of the 98-year-old vessel, what was the replacement vessel's name?
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3 ) - Unfortunately, none of M.E.'s relatives appeared in the photograph. Did one of yours?
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Answers:
1 ) - The frigate was named the USS Independence.

2 ) - Another receiving ship eventually did replace the USS Independence at Navy Yard Mare Island. It was the all-steel, bark-rigged training ship USS Intrepid in 1914. She decommissioned 15 October 1921.
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3 ) - Did anyone's relative appear in Friday's photograph? The only one we can feel fairly sure appears in the photo may have been one of our fellow submariner's.
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Submarines are always silent and strange.





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