Monday, July 31, 2006

Submarine Mystery: No Photo Available

No Photo Available

The deepest a fish has ever been found in an ocean was in the Puerto Rico Trench at a depth of 27,460 feet (5.2 miles). The fish that currently holds this record is a species of cuskeel (family Ophidiidae) designated as Abyssobrotula galatheae ["Abby Gals"], about which scientists apparently know very little other than the detailed classification here. The species was classified by Nielsen in 1977. Almost 30 years have elapsed, now.

The government's NOAA site cannot seem to agree on the depth at which it was found. Look under Abyssopelagic Zone here where the zone is defined as between 13,100 feet and 19,700 feet. Not 27,000 feet, is it?. The latter depth is only found in the Mariana Trench (an entirely different ocean).

Why is no photo available? Why does Wikipedia have no article on this species? "Some of you guys read too much conspiracy theory stuff." - Chapomatic

I agree with Chap, by the way and admit that his quote was used out of context (exactly as he appears to have applied it, originally).

All of these inconsistencies (errors or conspiracies) kind of shake your faith in the accuracy of even government sites on the WWW, don't they? Hmmm!


Saturday, July 29, 2006

Secondhand Smokeless Pollution

Some, particularly activist residents of Blue states with names that start with a big 'C', were very happy to learn about this:

On June 27th of this year, the CDC released The Health Consequences of Involuntary Exposure to Tobacco Smoke: A Report of the Surgeon General.

Well folks, you may want to hold your breath a little longer. Now you have this to be concerned about: China's Growing Pollution Reaches U.S. (read full article here) Some excerpts:

Dan Jaffe, an atmospheric scientist at the University of Washington, said he has detected ozone, carbon monoxide, mercury and particulate matter from Asia at monitoring sites on Mount Bachelor in Oregon and Cheeka Peak in Washington state.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that on certain days nearly 25 percent of the particulate matter in the skies above Los Angeles can be traced to China. Some experts predict China could one day account for a third of all California's air pollution.

"We're going to see increased particulate pollution from the expansion of China for the foreseeable future," said Cliff, a research engineer at the University of California, Davis.

"Whine and wring your effete hands, fear mongers, but not around the necks of U.S. taxpayers!" - H. Emett Vattenberg, Shelby, NC


Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Remote Encounter of the Fourth Kind: King Tut's

Egyptian Museum, Cairo, 1996 -
Italian mineralogist Vincenzo de Michele noted this unusual, yellowish-green gem featured in one of Tutankhamun's necklaces (pectorals). Testing disclosed that this jewel was glass older than the earliest Egyptian civilisation.

BBC NEWS 2006 -
Working with Egyptian geologist Aly Barakat, they traced its origins to unexplained chunks of glass found scattered in the sand in a remote region of the Sahara Desert. But the glass is itself a scientific enigma. How did it get to be there and who or what made it?
The BBC Horizon programme has reported an extraordinary new theory linking Tutankhamun's gem with a meteor.

Austrian astrochemist Christian Koeberl had established that the glass had been formed at a temperature so hot that there could be only one known cause: a meteorite impacting with Earth. And yet there were no signs of a suitable impact crater, even in satellite images.

Project Gutenberg Etext of Trinity [Atomic Test] Site -
Immediately after the test a Sherman M-4 tank, equipped with its own air supply, and lined with two inches of lead went out to explore the site. The lead lining added 12 tons to the tank's weight, but was necessary to protect its occupants from the radiation levels at groundzero. The tank's passengers found that the 100-foot steel tower had virtually disappeared, with only the metal and concrete stumps of itsfour legs remaining. Surrounding ground zero was a crater almost 2,400 feet across and about ten feet deep in places. Desert sand around the tower had been fused by the intense heat of the blast intoa jade colored glass. This atomic glass was given the name Atomsite,but the name was later changed to Trinitite. (my emphasis).

Wikipedia Trinity test -
Trinitite is composed primarily of silica melted by atomic blast. Usually light green in color, in rare cases it may be beige or red. It is mildly radioactive. Samples were gathered and sold as novelties until the early 1950s. Most of the material was finally bulldozed and buried by the Army. It is now illegal to take traces from the site. Samples obtained earlier can be found for sale on the internet.

The Trinity site bomb detonation created a layer of glass on the sand much smaller than the area of glass in the Egyptian desert. Whatever happened in Egypt must have been much more powerful than a small atomic bomb.


Tuesday, July 25, 2006

CHINA's Stealth Fighter

The first mock up photo of China's "5th generation" stealth fighter jet has been published (Hat/Tip Teflon).

Excerpts from
According to the reports of the Jane's Defence Weekly, China has already launched its next generation stealthy fighter aircraft programme, and Shenyang Aircraft Industry Co. (SAC) has been selected to head research and development of a new fighter for the PLA Air Force (PLAAF). ...Images of the concepts show a twin-engine aircraft sharing some design traits with Lockheed Martin's stealthy F/A-22 "Raptor" multirole fighter such as the internal carriage of its weapons.

See the large photo at FreeRepublic link above.


Submarine Onboard Degaussing: HMS Gotland

Recent commentary on another blog revealed some submariners were apparently unaware of onboard degaussing technology. I had only been reminded of it while writing this, so there was a chance others might benefit from an update, too:

Background from Naval Historical Center
Degaussing is a process in which a system of electrical cables are installed around the circumference of ship's hull, running from bow to stern on both sides. A measured electrical current is passed through these cables to cancel out the ship's magnetic field. Degaussing equipment was installed in the hull of Navy ships and could be turned on whenever the ship was in waters that might contain magnetic mines, usually shallow waters in combat areas. It could be said that degaussing, correctly done, makes a ship "invisible" to the sensors of magnetic mines.

History from Wikipedia:
The original method of degaussing was wiping, which simply dragged a large electrical cable along the side of the ship with about 2000 amps flowing through it. This induced the proper field into the ship in the form of a slight bias. It was originally thought that the pounding of the sea and the ship's engines would slowly randomize this field, but in testing this was found not to be a real problem. A more serious problem was later realized: as a ship travels through the Earth's magnetic field it will slowly pick up that field, counteracting the effects of the degaussing. From then on captains were instructed to change direction as often as possible to avoid this problem. Nevertheless the bias did wear off eventually, and ships had to be degaussed on a schedule.

A more permanent solution was found in the form of electromagnets built into the ships in the form of a coil, known simply as coiling. In addition to being able continually to bias the ship, coiling also allowed the bias field to be reversed in the southern hemisphere, where the mines were set to detect "S-pole down" fields. British ships, notably cruisers and battleships, were well protected by about 1943. Smaller ships continued to use wiping through the war. (emphasis added) Says:
There are several different types of degaussing systems in the fleet today. The basic differences between them can be characterized as to what type of power supply they use, and what type of control circuitry they use.

Yet, most of us Cold War submariners went through secretive degaussing ranges at some point(s).

Open source documents now reveal that an AIP submarine, HMS Gotland, utilizes onboard degaussing technology that is 95% effective. Moreover, the technology is being used routinely not only for submarines but for surface combatants at least since the Gotland's installation, perhaps earlier.


Sunday, July 23, 2006

Congratulations to the Crew of the USS Memphis (SSN-691)

For only the second time in this award's 100-year history, a submarine crew has won a prestigious, Atlantic Fleet award. USS Memphis won the 2005 Battenburg Cup Award in June, it was recently announced. USS Miami (SSN 755), then attached to Submarine Squadron 4, won the award in 1999. (more, Notes 1, 2 & 3 below)

The massive, silver-plated cup is engraved: To the enlisted men of the North Atlantic Fleet from their British cousins of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron. In grateful remembrance of the many kindnesses, tokens of good fellowship and wonderful entertainments that were given to them in cordial friendship by their comrades across the sea. The three-foot high cup displays the crossed ensigns of the US Navy and Royal Navy.

The oldest trophy in continuous, American naval history is the Battenberg Cup [ NAVSURF LANT ] N82/, originally a rowing competition award between enlisted men of the US and Royal navies. In May 1906, Rear Admiral Prince Louis Battenberg, R.N, commander of England's second Cruiser Division, donated the massive trophy to the U.S. Navy. Although his name appears nowhere on the trophy, it almost immediately became known as the Battenberg Cup. [During World War I the British Admiral renounced his German title and anglicized his name to Mountbatten].

The cup survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941 aboard the sunk USS West Virginia, the last ship to have won the cup by that time. The battlewagon retained custody of the Battenburg Cup until decommissioning in 1947, after which the cup was displayed in the Navy Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. Post-war competition resumed in 1978 under more stringent, less athletic, administrative and command criteria. (more, Note 4)

The cup is now only presented to the Battle Efficiency "E" winner selected as best all-around ship of the Fleet based on crew achievements. These include Atlantic Fleet Sportsmanship Award, TYCOM Sailor of the Year Award, Golden Anchor Award, Captain Edward F. Ney Award, command excellence awards, and performance considerations such as operations, arduous commitments and other performance factors. Memphis alone operated in every ocean last year, said her CO, Cmdr. Bill Merz . (more, Note 5).

Notes (Submarines are always silent and strange):
1) - SSN-755 Miami's award is not listed here, however, and the Memphis's award is listed there for 2006 although awarded for 2005.

2) - A three-foot bronze Iron Man trophy #1 (athlete standing on the World and raising a laurel crown) was awarded by COMSERVPAC on a system of points figured on the basis of participation and standings of athletic teams of ships of the Fleet.

3) - In 1950, USS Sea Fox (SS 402) won the Iron Man #1 and technically remains its defending champion, as the trophy was withdrawn from competition with the outbreak of the Korean conflict. For the time being, the Number One Iron Man is at COMSERVPAC headquarters at Pearl.

4) - USS Holland (AS-32) won the trophy in 1978 and, as reported in Eric Ryle's interview with Capt. Lawrence S. Wigley, author of the sub thriller Mission Complete, it was presented by Fleet Admiral Mount Batten to Wigley at the time.

5) - Think Memphis (SSN-691) is a new boat? She was launched over 30 years ago (more than 7 years before USS Honolulu SSN 718, yet Honolulu will be deactivated and her forward compartment will replace that of USS San Francisco (SSN-711), which was badly damaged when she struck an underwater seamount in 2005. Here is why.

6) - Here is the Toledo (SSN-769). She's scheduled for 10 months in the Newport News drydock. Sounds to some like a new hull section for whatever purpose we might learn in a year or so.


Saturday, July 22, 2006

Until August 8th, Microsoft Users Must Watch Out For This...

What is the worst thing that could effect your computer from a security standpoint?

Imbedded keylogging software, of course. What it does:
It surreptitiously captures your every keystroke, including passwords, codes and the most secretive data that you ever type. Highly useful in espionage— as a means of obtaining passwords or encryption keys, it allows bypassing of security measures for fraudulent purposes, as well. It covertly transmits the pirated keystrokes to the villain(s) who set you up.

Keyloggers are neither new nor rare to the internet. This one is particularly sinister for a couple of reasons:

1- It resides as a booby trap to a PowerPoint presentation someone can e-mail to you as well as in the name of the PowerPoint presentation.

2- It first appeared after Microsoft's July security patch issuance. Earliest fix? -August 8th.

Chinese characters are used in the subject line of the poisonous e-mail. Yet another reason for Bill Gates to hasten his exit. Never a dull moment. Thanks, Bill.


Friday, July 21, 2006

Symbolism 101

In June, the Marine Corps successfully flew two non-stop, coast-to-coast flights with a pair of MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft. The Marine Corps is conducting the long-distance flights to develop tactics, techniques and procedures for long-range, over-water movements of MV-22s, in preparation for the first combat deployment in 2007.

"Unlike conventional rotary wing aircraft, which must be transported into overseas theaters of operation aboard amphibious ships or heavy lift transport planes, the V-22 can self-deploy thousands of miles over water to get itself to the fight," said Col. Bill Taylor, V-22 Osprey joint program manager.

The CV-22, the Air Force’s version of the Osprey, will carry avionics equipment for missions by 2017 that will read like something from a thrilling spy novel.

Imagine the utility of this novel aircraft in the forbidding hills of Afghanistan. Tough on Taliban insurgents, although as with all new hardware, the intervening months will be used to overcome an issue or two.


Monday, July 17, 2006

Submarine News Between the Lines: Strange; Very Strange

Molten Eagle first noted a very curious submarine story back on April 7th: Taiwan Stiffs US Navy. At the time, we speculated on the report that: [the Navy's] "resistance to diesel submarine exports has been tacitly accepted by Pentagon and other administration officials" shows something very interesting (vastly different from public perception) could be going on regarding State strategy towards China. Perhaps some major, diplomatic inroad will be announced. Perhaps China's currency will soon begin to imitate other countries in its degree of float.

China's currency float has improved slightly, but that news is overshadowed by this development:
the Pentagon just approved a two-phase plan for Taiwan to buy eight diesel submarines. Something very big is definitely afoot in China's backyard, in Taiwan and the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

What it could mean now...

Connecticut Representative Rob Simmons (his district just happens to include General Dynamics Electric Boat shipyard which builds submarines for the U.S. Navy) happens to have been a Chinese-speaking former intelligence officer who served in Taiwan back in the 1970s (before Washington extended diplomatic recognition to Beijing). Has Simmon's really been this effective in lobbying the Pentagon? Unlikely, but it makes a great cover for a more covert plot (read on).

Taiwan's Nationalist Party, known as the KMT or Kuomintang, had repeatedly blocked Taiwan's President Chen's efforts to appropriate $12 billion since 2001, when Bush a administration arms deal (coincidentally for eight diesel-electric submarines) was first offered. The KMT feared the deal would provoke Beijing. Perhaps the KMT has relented now, in 2006? Even more unlikely.

On April 21st, in
Tracking The Gotland: The Attendant Mysteries Molten Eagle noted that Sweden will/(has) learn/(learned) the detection weaknesses of its Gotland class subs from joint-US exercises. The mystery is when will Sweden sell detection upgrades? We then speculated as follows:

The DOD sees the big advantages to deploying AIP subs in the U.S. fleet. Unit cost is closer to $100 million than over $2 billion for the latest Virginias. Operating costs are much lower, as well, without nuclear power. 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).

Finally, in awkward, multilateral political situations the United States already has demonstrated a clear precedent (revealed only once) for covertly contracting submarine construction (e.g. Electric Boat to a Canadian shipbuilder Vickers to get round US neutrality laws in 1915 ).

This time, will it be Taiwan? The U.S. would get a fleet of advanced AIP diesel boats forward based and flagged in Taiwan. Very, very strategic.


Monday, July 10, 2006

Archimedes Death Ray

Since its creation in 1958, DARPA’s mission has involved identifying valuable innovations for our military leaders, assessing underlying feasibilities, and fostering those with the most promise. One could say DARPA is the Cold War equivalent to the Manhattan Project.

DARPA's ATO is tasked with identifying, by late this year, which concepts to prototype for scale-up during 2008, and initial sea trials in 2009. An obvious reason new submarine construction has been minimized until 2012, is to avoid wasting dollars on yesterday's designs instead of tomorrow's. Very good thinking.

We have known that the Navy and DARPA want smaller, cheaper subs. Smaller means cheaper to operate (fewer submariners) , not just to build. The drivers for current Tango Bravo (Technology Barrier) breakthrough targets resulted from the Navy-DARPA (Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) study completed in 2004. The study focused on key factors constraining hull size, mechanical and electrical systems involved in Virginia Class submarine design for an improved attack submarine with capabilities comparable to the Virginia boats at roughly half the vessel size and cost.

Using similar analytical methodology a year after the DARPA's study, MIT's class of 2009 confirmed a feasibility estimate responsive to whether or not a "burning glass" (depicted in fresco above), constructed under Archimedes's direction in 212 B.C. , set nearby enemy warships ablaze using solar energy. The event was recorded in ancient Greek and Roman annals from the siege of Syracuse. RESULT: ...our mathematical feasibility estimate was confirmed by the experiment and that the myth is at least possible.

Does anyone think nuclear powered submarines are not an ideal platform for offensive laser weapons? If such were ever deployed, would most of us even know about it? If you knew about it, could you or Joe Buff tell whomever? Submarines are always silent and strange. Yet, perhaps not as strange as the 2 millennia it has taken to confirm what Archimedes knew.


Sunday, July 09, 2006

Satisfying Submariner Yearnings: "Hours of Undersea Fun!"

Well, even the military's youthful retirement age may be too old for the target group (ages 6 months and up), of a toy advertised as Hours of Underseas Fun. You can see the Water Wonder Mat here. (H/T Bookofjoe)

For the slightly older crowd, however, Bubblehead (who recently changed his profile photo to highlight only a right ear) thinks this R/C toy is more appropriate.

Of course, submarine simulations have been around over 20 years now. Check them out here. Never noticed a half-naked blonde cutie like this one playing "Sea Devil", though, and yes, I've been to The Horse & Cow (and still have their old business card).

Then there are submarine books. Have you ever read two about the same, real events that agreed totally? That's because submarines have always been silent and strange. When the silence is broken, things get even stranger. For instance, is the talker doing his own or his nation's bidding in contradicting the original story? Normally, only Admirals are accorded that duty or privelege.

Still, I am a sucker for realistic submarine novels and historical submarine articles. What is your favorite?


Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Submariner Solution: Space Shuttle External Tank Foam Binder

The Space Shuttle's External Tank (ET) contains both liquid hydrogen fuel and liquid oxygen oxidizer under pressure for the space shuttle main engines (SSME) during ascent. The ET is jettisoned 18 seconds after SSME shut down, and re-enters Earth's atmosphere to break up over the Indian or Pacific Oceans. Unlike Solid Rocket Boosters, External Tanks are never reused.

Since 1998, NASA started using, for International Space Station flights, a so-called "Super Lightweight Tank" (SLWT), which minimizes ET weight using new construction techniques.

The ET thermal protection system uses sprayed-on, foam insulation. Despite crew fatalities (Challenger), NASA still has not found a method of preventing foam fragments from breaking off in flight and damaging Shuttle ablative tiles.

A prolific thinker, Lubber's Line may have found a solution for NASA at only $9,000.00 a roll.
Whether or not EB Green withstands frictional heating at Mach 3 is an open question at this point. Additional weight? An estimated 2700 feet of 12-inch tape would weigh an extra 2.5 tons.