Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Submariners As Inner Space "Sailors"

Definition: inner space - the environment existing beneath the surface of the sea; area beneath the surface of the sea.

To appreciate our future, we must appreciate our past and know our present. Note the surprising title ( On Submarine Navigation and Attack ) of Robert Fulton's 1806 manuscript. source and more.

Fulton's cigar-shaped Nautilus was hand-cranked when submerged, and had a kite-like sail for surface propulsion. Nautilus also carried flasks of compressed air so its two-man crew might remain submerged up to five hours.

For submariners who also sail ("red sky in the morning, sailor take warning"), how about this stunning wave cloud over the southern Indian Ocean? source NASA satellite photo, and more meterological enlightenment.



Sunday, July 29, 2007

High-Tension Submarine Drama in the Deep? The Real Scoop

UPDATE (2007-08-02 16:31:38) - Russian mini-submarine safely resurfaces after plunge at North Pole story - very terse

Today (Sunday, July 29th) is the day a three-man mini-sub is due to place a titanium capsule containing a flag and message some 14,000-ft beneath arctic ice. "The Arctic is Russian," expedition leader Chilingarov said before the mission departed last Tuesday. "We are going to be the first to put a flag there, a Russian flag at the bottom of the Arctic Ocean, at the very point of the North Pole."

The nominal purpose of the expedition is to provide new evidence proving the North Pole is an extension of Russia's coastal shelf (Lomonosov Ridge). Russia would thereby perfect earler claims to mineral rights the size of Germany, France and Italy combined - a region estimated to contain 10 billion cubic meters of hydrocarbons, plus diamonds and ores.

Under international law, Russia, the United States, Canada, Norway and Denmark control economic zones within 200 miles of their continental shelves. Russia laid claim to vast swaths of undersea Arctic territory in 2001. But the four other polar countries objected. Danish scientists maintain the Lomonosov Ridge is an extension of Greenland. The Russian expedition hopes to end the controversy with samples of the seabed unique to the motherland.

Since 1) The titanium capsule was probably drop-anchored surrepetiously months ago; and 2) Suitable continental shelf samples were likewise prepared in the past, the dramatic charade is about something else entirely. What? Regaining lost world esteem is more likely.

Dangers would be abundant. The mission has already been delayed due to ship engine failure. The submarine portion of the mission is astoundingly more difficult: The mini-subs must descend almost 3 miles in cold, crushing water and resurface within the ice-free zone cleared by the icebreaker. They must avoid a calamity similar to Russia's AS-28 mini-sub, whose crew nearly died during a much shallower ascent in 2005. And finally, they must also avoid frequent technical difficulties resulting in various unsuccessful rocket launches from Russian submarines over the past 5 years.

While nearby foreign submarines will secretly monitor every step of the whole evolution, strict public silence will certainly be maintained. Would Russia fake a 14,000-ft. dive for such high stakes? We might know it was not faked (early Monday) only if something goes terribly wrong. I sincerely hope nothing does, and wish for the safe return of all crews. Something tells me to expect another problem, however.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Saturday, July 28, 2007

Strange Russian Submarine Photo

You may wish to go to the source for yourself, open the little photo shown in a new window, and click on it for a vast enlargement that facilitates examination.

The figures marked 'A' and 'B' above were superimposed by yours truly to make a point: this realistic-looking submarine photo, which appeared in a recent Bellona article, had been altered.

Identified as A nuclear submarine during dismantling in Severodvinsk, the photo accompanies this news item:

Explosion destroys external hull of nuclear submarine Severodvinsk (at the Northern Russian naval repair yard of Zvezdochka).

Based upon relative heights of the nearby safety-rail stanchions, the human labeled 'B' is 47% taller than figures 'A'. The "B' figure is now tall enough to penetrate another deck.

Hmmm! Something is very wrong in this photo. The hull cross section is a drawing of totally unrevealing detail that appears to have been lifted from architecture in the Star Wars Death Star movie. Compare the foreground detail with the background (immediately forward of the sail). One would expect closer images to appear larger and more detailed. In this photo the opposite is true. Oh well.

Who is the Bellona Foundation? Based in Oslo, Norway, the vintage 1986, direct action environmental protest group, now calls itself the world’s most recognised technology and solution oriented, environmental champions with offices on two continents. Well, Bellona, either you have been had, or you are trying to pull something. Either way, we hope you environmental technology champions exercise more care in proposed solutions than demonstrated in your recent, illustrative photo.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Announcing Molten Eagle's "Honorary Naval Historian" of 2007 Contest

UPDATE: Christopher won the 2007 contest with his complete information:
In the United States, ashes have to be scattered at least 3 miles from shore, and bodies can be given to the sea if the location is at least 600 feet (200 m) deep. Source: Wiki?EPA
Burial at sea of human remains that are not cremated shall take place at least 3 nautical miles from land and in water at least 600 feet deep. Certain areas, including east central Florida, the Dry Tortugas, Florida and west of Pensacola, Florida to the Mississippi River Delta, require water at least 1800 feet deep. Refer to the Code of Federal Regulations at 40 CFR 229.1 for details. All necessary measures shall be taken to ensure that the remains sink to the bottom rapidly and permanently.

Special thanks to reddog who almost won (needed depth) and added correctly that California doesn't allow it at all.

The deadline for the 2007 contest will be Sunday, July 29th at noon PST. The winner will be the first to answer the 2007 question correctly and with valid online documentation.

The question:
What is currently considered minimum depth for burials at sea?

Prize: Addition of your blog name to Molten Eagle's Honorary Naval Historians...

....Winner. ..Years...............Topic......................DoD*
Christopher 2007 ...........burial at sea...................4
Submandave 2005 .............leased submarine Nautilus...5
RM1(SS) (ret) 2006 .............Submarine Pennant ID.......4
MT1(SS) 2006 [UQNM]..........Submarine Pennant ID.......4

Winner will be the first to answer the question correctly with valid documentation.

*DoD - Estimated Degree of Difficulty on a 6-point scale based upon where the answer could be found:

Blue Jacket's Manual = 0
Any Branch library = 1
Bubblehead's Memory = 2
Chapomatic's Home library = 3
Eagle Speak's Online library = 4
Only in the National Archives = 5
Need an application? Print and complete the Burial at Sea Request Form.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Tuesday, July 24, 2007

SSN in Chaguaramas: So What's in Chaguaramas?

When it comes to U.S. submarines, the public rarely sees stranger stuff than this. Yet, on the surface, explanations are quite insignificant. I refer to the photo and eyewitness reporting found here, recently. That certainly seems to be one of our subs in the photo in front of the crane.

On July 22nd, USS Albuquerque (or an SSN that looks like it) with a crew of 12 officers, 98 men and perhaps 17 riders docked in the northwest peninsula of Trinidad, known as the Chaguaramas. The announced purpose of the visit was a liberty call that included plans to paint the Rainbow Rescue Shelter at Belmont.

Originally comprised of Spanish, French and British cocoa, coffee and cotton estates worked by slaves, the peninsula’s harbor was leased to the US Navy in 1940 for a WWII naval base. The facility was officially returned to Trinidad and Tobago in 1963. Today, the area is prized by yachtsman’s, divers, fishermen , sunbathers and golfers. Sailing yachts moor at local marinas to avoid the Caribbean hurricane season.

As far back as 1969, the United States allegedly still had submarine visits to Chaguaramas. The base was used for missile tracking in our Eastern Test Range.

Reports to Congress (Section 2011 reports) are not required to mention JCET programs (training for special forces, including SEALS, related to counter-narcotic or anti-terrorism activities).

Special Forces Group 3/20 and Trinidad and Tobago Coast Guard Special Naval Unit (30) conducted JCET exercises there in 2001. CDR Fraser, CO of USS Underwood (FFG-36) said during last year's visit, It was a great honor to command the first U.S. Navy warship to visit Trinidad in many years. Much could be going on besides the announced liberty call. Regardless of anything else, part of the mission is perhaps anti-terrorism related, and Ariel Weinmann was no longer among the crew.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



What is more interesting is how a serious PhD would even ask the question: "Will China's Deterrent Go To Sea?"

Jeffrey Lewis, Arms Control Wonk, wrote Part One of an article that caught my attention. Dr. Lewis is Director of the Nuclear Strategy and Nonproliferation Initiative at the New America Foundation, a non-profit public policy institute and think tank in Washington, D.C. that promotes innovative political solutions transcending conventional party lines. So far, so good, right?

His web site's four goals are:

To report items of interest that wouldn’t make it into the New York Times,
Place arms control related developments into context and correct lousy reporting,
To explore the foundations of arms control and other cooperative security strategies, and
Finally, to amuse myself and others.
Still great, right?

His primary question is "... whether China will send the submarine on patrols armed with nuclear weapons."
Interesting that an informed adult would even ask such a seemingly foolish question, right? He does not claim to know the answer and doubts anyone really does. Lewis addresses my utmost (still laughing at this) concerns:

The JIN-class submarine is probably much more capable than the XIA SSBN. How capable is a subject for later this week, but at the very least I don’t expect to hear stories about how sailors couldn’t sleep because the submarine made so much noise.

The crux of this wishful thinking:

If China keeps its new land-based mobile missiles say “assembled and in the garage” with its warheads in another location, then maybe China will also keep its ballistic missile submarines in port and away from US ASW platforms looking for a little training. One could imagine a force of one or two submarines that rarely, if ever, patrol.
Note the word maybe was used. Should we hope that Dr. Lewis is right and surrender the U.S. if his theory turns out wrong? His site allows comments; giving this entertaining thinker great benefit of the doubt, my comment was respectfully civil. One of his goals was to amuse - he succeeded there, but I did not see the word frighten or Taiwan anywhere.



Sunday, July 22, 2007

Only 25% Military Submarines? Annual Contest

It is time for Molten Eagle's Honorary Naval Historian for 2007 contest. Past titles have been awarded to Submandave, RM1(SS) (ret), and MT1(SS). Be first to answer either question for the 2007 title:
1. Can you find a link for the Gary Larson submarine cartoon identified below?
2. What is considered to be the minimum depth for at sea burials?

Those in the silent service long enough to have qualified have probably seen a few military publications like the 1960s -70s Fathom and its UK or Aussie counterparts. Today's Fathom seems to be a fleet wide publication dedicated to safety (can we guess why?)

Dedicated military pubs carried submarine cartoons on occasion. Ever see a military submarine cartoon, today? Hmmm! Most submarine cartoons are about commercial/sports vessels. Here, we see only 25% with any military identifiers.

The pun in the lefthand cartoon spoofs German U-boots. The one on the right is not really sub related, but it could be. Gary Larson of Far Side fame has apparently done one submarine cartoon ("The living hell of Jacques Cousteau's cat" as the crazed feline looks out from the window of a submarine.)

The good news is that after a long hiatus, Larson has finally published another Far Side Calendar (2007). Did you know Larson has an insect scientifically named after him? The Strigiphilus garylarsoni is a biting louse of a genus only found on owls. You have to grab these opportunities when they come along, Larson remarked.



Thursday, July 19, 2007

Solution: Submariner Catch as Catch Can Sleep

In certain, unnamed countries... shortages of submariners has not been a problem, especially when some recruits are volunteered for submarine duty.

A shortage of qualified submariners becomes a problem still, however, if those countries both procure and attemp to operate more than one submarine at a time. Then, especially when several foreign aircraft carriers are nearby, qualified submariners not only perform their regular assigned duties, they must attempt to train the eager volunteers with whom they serve.
This means qualified submariners are awakened from their daily 2-hour sleep periods, each time things go awry (hopefully, still at the dock).

Senior leadership takes a compassionate interest in submarine crew welfare. Here, we see one solution invented by a Commander-in Chief, himself.
Apologies to Al-Fred Enewman


Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Bits to Chew, Stew or View 0001

The flavor of today's Russian democracy under Putin ...
(in the old days they would belong to the Komsomol ) .... The Putin Youth get to be punks, terrorizing foreigners and "traitors" with near complete impunity (a few $20 fines for attacking an ambassador), and receive training, free college and professional connections that can give them high-powered careers - a win-win situation, from their point of view.

- From Putin's children, a July 5, 2007 opinion piece by journalist Michael Hammerschlag, who lived in Russia from 1991 to 1994, and returned there in early 2007.

From Lawyer Kickers pro bono a lawyer joke

A student from the University of Washington has sold his soul on eBay for $400. He's a law student, so he probably doesn't need it, but still, that's not very much. Today, Hillary Clinton said, 'Hey, at least I got some furniture and a Senate seat for mine. - verified quotation from Jay Leno

Are you planning to vote for a presidential primary candidate?
Has he/she made any campaign promises that you trust? Ever considered the difference between a campaign promise and the oath of office?
I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States.

A campaign promise, or pledge is unenforceable, like a marriage vow. Unlike a marriage vow, however, a campaign promise is not just between two people, it is between the candidate and 300,000,000 people. Should candidates who have demonstrated through poor judgement, emotional error, or personal weakness the dimunition or dissolution of their marriage vows be trusted with the Oath of Office for President of the United States? Really, why?

Remember TSA Secretary Chertoff's gut feel about islamist terrorism in the homeland? He could be wrong, but Juan Caruso Davenport (Jaycee al-Humacao) thinks he may know what is really going on with Chertoff's mixed ( video ) message. If correct, terrorists still have less than a 5% chance of a successful attack, but no chance of any spectacular attack:

Today, the National Intelligence Estimate confirmed that Al Qaeda remains the most serious threat to the United States. Actually, there is little change in the estimate and no public mention of the myriad countermeasures now arrayed against terrorism. The most potent countermeasure has been infiltration of Al Qaeda cells. Obviously this element is off-limits to public elaboration.

When was the last time that the American public can actually remember the Bush administration finessing a national predicament? Before 911, and it is only a vague memory now. Every Bush victory since then has been tainted by a growing chorus of Bush enemies. One chance remains for a Bush masterstroke of sorts. For full dramatic impact and assurances that the press will keep it adequately in headlines, it is necessary for the administration to stir public fervor in advance - fear, frustration and anger. Those feelings must be stoked until the public mood is near its peak, but not numbed and completely turned off yet.

Such sentiments are exactly what the Bush administration engenders by spoon feeding mixed signals on the terrorist threat in your U.S. homeland. While the DNC expects/ed Osama bin Laden to be captured on the eve of major elections, from September to early November 2008/2004, both bin Laden and al-Zawahiri will be nuetralized between August and October of this year under cover of surge activities. Suddenly, and secretively the final refuge zone for the founders of Al Qaeda will be lifted and penetrated. A precision strike by a coalition of elite forces from three countries will be executed with fantastic and newsworthy tactics, Allah willing.

Brother Juan Caruso D's predictions have often been uncanny. Molten Eagle hopes his gut feeling is on the money again, this time.



Monday, July 16, 2007

"Modern Inventions" - The Submarines

Submarines are certainly not modern inventions. The Turtle , the first submarine used as a naval weapon, was built in 1775. Modern naval submarines feature the highest-tech improvements to an ancient concept (AIP submarines are a case in point). Lubber (50 years old) claims, in one of my favorite sea stories, that he was the Nav-ET who installed Ben Franklin's bioluminescence technology (Codename: Foxfire) on Turtle's compass.

This is not about sea stories, however. Its about the music duo called The Submarines:

Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti wrote the album's songs separately following a split of the professional and/or romantic kind before then reuniting to become The Submarines.

Dragonetti and Hazard make an attractive pair. But that is not so unusual. Listen to their YouTube music videos here and here, or Amazon.com samples here. Their Modern Inventions is one of my favorites.
Vigilis wondered how long it would be before modern performers went retro (updated the ancient music). The acid rock, punk metal thing will be around for as long as DVDs last (estimated another 15 years, and that's it). The Submarines lyrics are definitively retro with a synth-rock sound. I was reminded of the Beach Boys and innovative folk music.

I am guessing that Chapomatic might not enjoy the Submarines, but some of you older guys like Cookie and Doc Mac Donald might appreciate it. The concert poster, shown above in cutaway is currently available on Ebay (no, I don't know the seller).
Good luck to Blake Hazard and John Dragonetti, who are neither silent nor strange.
By the way, Wikipedia's current article about Turtle states: [It]... ascended by pushing water out through a hand pump, similarly to the use of spear sack tanks in modern submarines.
If you qualified on a modern submarine, please tell us geezers what spear sack is. Last time I was on Bothenuke's boat, there was no spear sack. There was a spare air tank or two for HP air. Submarines are always silent and strange.



Thursday, July 12, 2007

The Other Dolphins

Our fellow ex-submariner Lubber's Line who brings us interesting stuff, recently asked these penetrating questions:

1) Submarines have been known to transport Navy SEALS on occasion; could Seal Lions and Dolphins be next?

2) Dolphins have qual cards?

3) After a dolphin gets qualified, do they wear the humans with pride?

In case you have no clue about what he is asking, check out the Pentagon Channel video he posted earlier this week. We are not supposed to know, but the answer to question one is they already have. The answer to question two is suggested by the photo (below), and we are guessing these mammals take significant pride in their human teamwork.

Oddly, the Army and Air Force are involved with the Navy's Marine Mammal program as links here will explain. See what I mean, Lubber really comes up with some interesting stuff!



Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Twilight Zone Cruise on a Submarine

Our nuclear sub was submerged near the Mediteranean Sea, where we had been involved in 6th Fleet exercises for several weeks. We were headed back to homeport. Two of us were in the sonar room, on watch, when the relief supervisor arrived. Within a few minutes, the other relief arrived, yawning. It was just before 0400.

The yawner told the three of us that he was disturbed by a very realistic dream he had just awoken from in which one of our shipmates, on leave in New London, had died. We all liked the young yeoman (victim in the dream), and dismissed it as ridiculously odd and the telling of it in very poor taste. The dreamer said no more and stood his watch. The other three of us told no one, because it was just a crappy dream.

At about 1500 hours that day, our captain advised the crew in uncharacteristically somber tones of a message advising that our shipmate, the yeoman, had died in a mobile home fire the night before. The crew was stunned. The dreamer never uttered an I told you so to us.

The young yeoman had been a smoker and had probably shown about everyone in the crew how he held his cigarette a certain way so that if he fell asleep, the lighted end's heat would burn his palm and awaken him instantly. He told us it had worked every time.

The firemen found his body in the bath tub of the trailer he had just rented in preparation for his impending marriage. The police had to cut his ring off its finger. I later observed the deck gang cleaning the ring before it was turned over to his mother and regretted the grief it would inevitably bring her.

The dreamer was transferred to shore duty before he qualified. Was the dream just a strange coincidence, or a case of the paranormal? Had the dreamer been privy to the message contents long before the CO's announcement to the crew?

I tried to relate the episode to a friend once, but it still sounded like crap, so I dropped it for decades, until now. What made me remember it now? This bit of news just today.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Interesting Insights from Submariners

The following links may be of interest, if you ever qualified in the boats and:

1) Know why the DBF attitude was more than reactor envy during the 1960s The Cavalla-Thresher Incident

2) Are motivated to understand (nice video) why a popularized concept was ever launched The Great Global Warming Swindle....part 5 $ $ $ $ $

3) Have forgotten about these sentinels of both sea and harbor security Marines are Mammals

4) Wondered what state-of-the-art nuclear mothball cannisters look like. Is part of your old sub here? Is Seawolf's first reactor there? Note Seawolf''s (SSN-575) oversized containment cannister. Well, one might guess so.

Hat Tips: 2) Cookie, 3) Lubber, 4) Chapomatic, and 1) the Cavalla Historical Foundation.

By the way, USS Cavalla is berthed in Seawolf Park, Galveston, Texas, "as a memorial to the lost submarine USS Seawolf (SS-197)"

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Monday, July 09, 2007

Submarine Terrorism Plots in Progress?

Consider the nature of two "buyers" that we know about:

North Korea agrees to supply 4 mini-submarines.

Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the Islamist terrorist group and the largest guerrilla movement in the Philippines.
North Korea had already indicated that it would sell one or more mini-submarines to the MILF, but has yet to deliver. North Korea hesitates because U.S. and Philippine intelligence sources discovered the deal. The MILF made a $1 million downpayment and still owes $1.2 million on its mini-sub buy.

Next, consider the al-Qaeda Submarine Threat to oil terminals, including the world’s largest offshore oil export terminal at Ra's Tannūrah (Ras Tanura).

More mundane dive targets were discussed here, recently.

Not mentioned, however, is the use of mini-submarines (obviously ideal) for delivery of suitcase, nuclear bombs to waiting SUVs in North American coastal areas. Or worse, deliveries of lethal biological agents to aquifers or water supplies. Not a threat, you say... well the FBI recently alerted U.S. dive shops toward suspicious divers, bubbleless equipment and underwater vehicles. Draw your own conclusions.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Monday, July 02, 2007

Seawolf Mystery - Not a Blue Torbay, Yet?

In March 2006, we were somewhat perplexed by the peculiar, blueish color of HMS Torbay's Britannic Blue outer hull. In our exploration of naval camouflage history, we read

All submarines in the Med used to be blue. ... It is only in the very dark
waters that we need to have the submarines painted black.
- Terry Goodship, chairman of the Submariners' International Association

Now, it turns out there is a connection (some might even call it an omen) regarding the future hull color of USS SEAWOLF (SSN-21). The Wolf Fish, Anarhichas lupus, is caught commercially and marketed in the north of Britain as Scotch Halibut and Scarborough Woof. The fish is quite edible and known for excellent dinner quality. It is sold beheaded for obvious reasons.

The mature fish displays an unusual blue color. Four submarines of the United States Navy have borne the name USS Seawolf, for this savage-looking, solitary fish. Its strong teeth and projecting tusks give it a savage look.

So, what is the omen? Check out this news from Philadelpia, home of the first U.S. naval shipyard. Well, if you are not going to believe that omen, you will probably shy away from the other omen: Philly will be the site of the nation's first beheading by a terrorist cell.

You see, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer's Philly.com news there is a puzzle: How did the seawolf head end up in a fox den in Pennsylvania's Hunterdon County? [my guess: a fox brought it there after a sport fisherman discarded it along a rural highway.]

Submarines are always silent and strange.