Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Answers to Mystery Questions 1, 3 and 4

Last Friday, we posed 6 mystery questions (4 plus 2 easy bonus questions). We only promised to answer #1 today, but Port Tack Start and Sonarman did so well in their attempt, we are going to answer all but the really tough #2. Why is #2 so tough? Perhaps you can tell all of us.

1- What was the name of the last built U.S. warship to have teakwood decking when first commissioned?

ANSWER: USS Long Beach (CGN 9) - formerly CGN 160, formerly CLGN 160. USS Long Beach was commissioned September 9, 1961.

She was the first American cruiser since the end of World War II to built entirely new from the keel up, and, when completed, boasted the highest bridge in the world. She was also the last warship to be fitted with teakwood decks. Accordingly, of warships built subsequently by the U.S. none had teakwood topside or bridge decking.

2- When was the last submarine fitted with teakwood topside decks commissioned and what was its hull number?

ANSWER: As of 2 Oct 2008, this question has been redefined to specify teakwood topside decking, fore and/or aft. (this item is intentionally blank -, no one has yet determined a correct answer, but we are closing in slowly). But see UPDATE below for a very interesting wrinkle from Sonarman ...

UPDATE: 2 Oct 2008: Have received independent confirmation from SonarMan that the sub with the record for the longest service lifetime of any nuclear submarine (USS Kamehameha) — nearly 37 years - also had a small teakwood deck within a "doghouse" structure in its sail for OODs and lookouts. Since the USS Kamehameha (SSBN/SSN-642) was commissioned in December 1965, it seems destined to be the last submarine with any type of teakwood decking. Great find, Sonarman!

3- What was the name of the ship in the upper photo? BONUS: and what was its hull number?

ANSWER: The mystery sub is the USS Triton (SSRN/SSN-586), commissioned: 10 November 1959. Obviously from the photo, it did not have a teakwood, topside deck. (notes: USS Bonefish and USS Blueback were commissioned 1958 and 1959, respectively. No photographic evidence or sepcor has been forthcoming to indicate these rounded hull boats had wooden topside decking. Ditto USS Kamehameha not commissioned until 1965, about 4 years after the USS Long Beach).

4- What was the name of the ship in the lower photo? BONUS: and what is its hull number?

ANSWER: The mystery sub in the second photo is the ex-USS NAUTILUS (SSN-571), which was commissioned 30 September 1954. The photo is of the museum exhibit.

BONUS QUESTION ANSWERS: Hull numbers of Triton and Nautilus are SSRN/SSN-586 and SSN-571, respectively.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Monday, September 29, 2008

Submarine News Updates

Michael A. Gentile Memorial...

Submariners past and present will want to visit the Memory Book for Michael A. Gentile, late of the USS Nebraska (SSBN 739).

TSR editor and fellow blogger Eric Ryle has sponsored the initial year of this distinctive and fitting tribute allowing the entire Submarine Community, regardless of nationality, to pay their respects.

Please take a moment to share your final respects to the fine, young submariner.


Has the deadline for Taiwan's U.S. $11 billion weapons deal , including diesel-powered submarine just passed?

The Pentagon was expected to notify the U.S. Congress of its intention to sell the arms to Taiwan by the end of its current session last Friday. Taiwan has expressed worries that if the U.S. missed the deadline ... However, an unnamed presidential official noted in a Central News Agency report that the session of Congress had been extended to deal with the current financial crisis, and therefore the arms deal could still be approved.

Reported by Taiwan News and update to More AIP Intrigue: True Story. The U.S. State Department notified the Taiwanese media late on Friday that government departments were still reviewing the deal, and that once it was approved, Congress would be immediately notified.

Stay tuned.


Navy pumps $9M into Hamilton Sundstrand sub oxygen system deal

Hamilton Sundstrand Corp. reports it has landed a $9.2 million deal from the U.S. Navy for services related to oxygen-making systems aboard Navy submarines. Under the contract, Windsor Locks, Conn.-based Hamilton Sundstrand will support three systems related to making oxygen for submarines:
an oxygen generating plant gas management system, an electrolytic chlorine generator and a central atmospheric monitoring system. The systems are intended to be installed on SSN-21, SSN-774, SSN-688 and SSN-726 class submarines.

For older submariners, ECGs (Electrolytic Chlorine Generators) shown above, produce chlorine on demand in seawater to prevent fouling of shipboard heat exchangers. Believe it or not!



Friday, September 26, 2008

Mystery Questions of the Week

Almost everyone imagines falsely that he/she was born well after the last U.S. Navy warship fitted with teakwood decks was commissioned.

Changing the problem slightly to coexistence with a commissioned U.S. warship fitted with teakwood decking makes almost all of you sailors who retired in the last decade of the 20th century the mystery warship's contemporaries.

Also, did you ever realize that not all flat-decked subs (warships) had teak decking? Contrast the examples in the accompanying photos.

MYSTERY QUESTIONS - UPDATE - #1 has been reworded with my apologies:
Some explanatory notes:
a- fitted applies to original teakwood construction, whether or not refitted later with other material.
b- museum and exhibition vessels (e.g. USS Constitution), even if still afloat, are not eligible answers to the first question.

1- What was the name of the last built U.S. warship to have teakwood decking when first commissioned? (Original wording was ambiguous: What was the name of the last U.S. warship ever fitted with teakwood decking? Early reader responses reflected this unintended interpretation: What was the last teak decked vessel to be decommissioned by the Navy. The intent of this question should have been what was the last U.S. warship to be built with teakwood decking).

2- When was the last submarine fitted with teakwood decks commissioned and what was its hull number?

3- What was the name of the ship in the upper photo? BONUS: and what was its hull number?

4- What was the name of the ship in the lower photo? BONUS: and what is its hull number?

ANSWERS: 1 - Wednesday. My guess is that more time will be required for the other answers. Good luck!



Thursday, September 25, 2008

The Most Common Category of Submarine Injuries Was ...

Long-term space mission planning entails predictions of required medical support for astronauts.

As usual, submariners provide a convenient, data-rich resource for estimating astronaut medical needs. Both space and undersea environments are unusually isolated, confined and potentially deadly.

Rates of accidents and injuries during U.S. Navy submarine deployments had not been evaluated since the WW2 era. Obviously, applicability to space programs was lacking.

Modern Studies:

Updated studies were certainly needed and some were conducted between 1 January 1997 and 30 September 2000. Studies included U.S. Navy officers and enlisted men deployed on up to 240 submarine patrols. A total of 1389 officers and 11,952 enlisted crew members served aboard participating submarines for 215,086 and 1,955,521 person-days at sea, respectively, during the study period. [M.E. was not involved in these studies, many of you probably were.]

Partial Results:

The most common category of injuries was open wounds, followed by sprains and strains, contusions, superficial injuries, burns, and others. Rates of accidents and injuries decreased with increasing age and duration of military service. Among submariners working in supply departments, the rates were more than two times those of crewmembers working in other departments.

Partial Conclusions:

Rates of accidents and injuries were very low; however, focused safety training could reduce rates among younger and less experienced crew members as well as among those working in particular areas of the submarine. - Accidents and injuries among U.S. Navy crewmembers during extended submarine patrols, 1997 to 1999, Department of Preventive Medicine and Biometrics, Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Bethesda, MD 20814, USA. Mil Med. 2001 Jun;166(6):534-40
Safety experts often state that every accident is preventable. The statement sometimes applies from a wider perspective only (looking downward). Preventative factors apply when hazards can be perceived or expected. There is little chance an individual struck by a meteor fragment in a Walmart parking lot, for instance, could have perceived, expected, or guarded against such a hazard. Yet, from a lookdown toward Earth perspective a warning may have been possible.

Disclosure: M. E. was once a safety professional who attained a high degree of success and personal recognition for continuous safety improvements at an industrial installation with significant chemical, laser, plasma, and radiation hazards in addition to most types of cutting, grinding and allied machinery. The most valuable area of experience toward my success in management of several hundred workers' safety was my service in Navy nuclear submarines. In my safety management capacity, I also provided requested advice to a space related facility located across the continent. Do I miss the work? No, extremely stressful. I do miss the grateful people.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Open SSBN /SSGN Question Raised by USS Nebraska (SSBN-739) Tragedy

The following comment was made on Bubblehead's TSSBP Tragedy Onboard USS Nebraska posting:

Parent said...
Our son was one of the initial medical providers for this sailor and he said that he and the other providers managed to keep this sailor conscious for over 4 1/2 hours, but ran out of time just as the helicopter arrived. Obviously, they are all very traumatized for what they experienced. The only consolation is that doctors have told them that it was remarkable that they managed to keep him alive for over an hour with those severe injuries. ... [emphasis added]

No doubt whatever that the injuries were severe and the onboard medical response top notch in the circumstances.

When I read the comment, however, it dawned on me that a submarine medical officer may not have been among the onboard first responders. Regardless, the trauma was severe and there could be no guarantees a sailor's life might be saved.

There is an incapacity to replace major blood loss. Reading between the lines, I am almost certain that inability to replace blood was contributory to the brave submarine sailor's death.

Thinking back, our chief corpsman had once volunteered that he was trained and prepared to amputate a leg in any emergency. That would obviously entail suturing arteries, but (and I never thought about this at the time, because he had brought the subject up seemingly out of the blue) how would he have compensated for blood loss?

Until this day, I took Doc at his word. Wish I had cared enough to ask him about that one little detail.

Never reluctant to ask questions, I will ask this one now:

Do SSGNs and SSBNs have assigned submarine medical officers (MDs) who make patrols with the crew. SSBNs did in my day, and into the 1980's at least. With all of the cut backs and emphasis on I.T. solutions nowadays, one has to wonder if the submarine force eliminated onboard MDs. Probably justified, because serious submarine accidents have been rare and health is almost a non-issue.

Depending upon necessity, even some SSN crews included medical officers in the past. Mine had had at least two before my day, but all were gone years before my service.

Our hearts certainly go out to the family and friends of a fine, young USS Nebraska sailor who, while already making a truly remarkable sacrifice for his country, wound up paying a terrible price.



Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Notes on the Nebraska Fatality

UPDATE: M.E. normally needs not correct postings for subsequent news. Why? Because experience and knowledge usually equip us to get things right the first time. What then is the purpose of this update, you ask?

We originally stated (see below) expect a head to roll or a career to be marred silently, and we stick by our initial assessment. If a comment left at The Stupid Shall Be Punished by one cheezstake proves accurate, a safety best practice would certainly appear not to have been followed in this USS Nebraska tragedy. Cheezstake alleged (9/23/2008 3:22 PM):

If I remember correctly, on the 727G, if the emphasis for field day was shaft alley, we had a PO1 on the phones back there to alert all of ram movements. The field day norm was to keep course and depth steady for the field day duration with only slight changes as required.


If Cheeztake's above recollection is accurate, the tragedy was not only preventable, its circumstances had been anticipated by earlier submarine commands. That would make it is a fairly damning omission during peacetime conditions. Still, circumstances need not be so clearcut. Alternative safety precautions may have been in place. Some of the crew would know by now whether this were true. Non-crew may never ever learn such particulars.


Remember, the officers and crew are all good men, and like the rest of us subject to a 2% human error problem. We are not in a legitimate position of judgement, but we are certainly in a position of well-placed trust in our submarine force and its brave men. M.E. hopes facts and circumstances vindicate USS Nebraska's command structure. Our prayers go out to our brother, all his shipmates, and his family!


Was a [first, there was] 'no damage' statement necessary because, as a Trident sub, USS Nebraska (SSBN-739) is a component of our stategic arsenal? Does this imply the sub's return to port did not abort a critical mission? The answers are apparently yes, and yes.

'There was no damage to the submarine,' Lt. Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokes-man for Submarine Force Pacific, said Monday evening. 'None of the other crew members were injured. The crew was brought into port to address the needs of the crew because of this tragedy' and to help in the investigations into the incident, Benham said. - The Navy Times

The tragic news was already out - an unidentified submariner's death resulted from an underway accident. SSBNs are the relatively spacious U.S. boats. Moreover, slackening of rules and regulations by any member of a boomer crew is historically rare under ordinary circumstances. No one has to explain why.

This tragedy will be very difficult for the Navy (yes, it obviously rises beyond the Submarine Force's control) to explain unless there was a malfunction of some kind and contributory negligence. Otherwise, expect a head to roll or a career to be marred silently, I suspect.

Readers need only contrast the handling of this submarine tragedy with the December 2006, loss of lives from the USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN-708). In that episode, overboard accidents resulted in two deaths and the failure of two additional sailors to journey the Atlantic with the sub which unlike, USS Nebraska, continued on its voyage:

Four crew were washed overboard by heavy waves on December 29, 2006 in Plymouth Sound, England as the surfaced sub departed HMNB Devonport following a port call. This resulted in the deaths of Senior Chief Petty Officer Thomas Higgins (Chief of the Boat) and Sonar Technician (Submarines) 2nd Class Michael Holtz. After the preliminary investigation, the Commanding Officer received a punitive letter of reprimand and was relieved of his command.

Our hearts certainly go out to the family and friends of a fine, young USS Nebraska sailor who, while already making a truly remarkable sacrifice for his country, wound up paying a terrible price.

USS Nebraska (SSBN-739) Motto: Defensor Pacis (Defender of Peace)


Related Reading
Big Red:
The Three-Month Voyage of a Trident Nuclear Submarine by Douglas C. Waller. April, 2002



Monday, September 22, 2008

Navy Decides to Fish and Cut Bait


This phrase Fish or cut bait is an American colloquialism.

To cut bait means to stop fishing. It appears to have been introduced to the public consciousness, and may well have been coined by, US Judge Levi Hubbell. It came up in 1853, in a legal dispute over land ownership between US Attorney General Caleb Cushing and a William Hungerford.

The Hood Canal is spanned by the Hood Canal Bridge (above), one of the world's longest at 6,521 feet, and the only permanent floating bridge constructed over saltwater.
More significantly, the Hood Canal separates the Kitsap Peninsula and the Olympic Peninsula. The U.S. Navy's Naval Base Kitsap, Bangor Annex, is located on the eastern shore of Hood Canal. The canal contains several bays, the largest of which is Dabob. Most of Dabob Bay is a Naval Restricted Area, used by the submarines stationed at Bangor. Older sub sailors should note that Naval Station Bremerton was combined in 2004 with the submarine base at nearby Bangor and called Naval Station Kitsap. .......................................................................................................................
The Navy planning to test unmanned undersea vehicles in the Hood Canal. "Our purpose is to test the vehicles. We are testing the Navy's technology," said Diane Jennings, Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Keyport public affairs officer. ...........................................................................
Navy shows off unmanned submarine-detecting craft. The Navy demonstrated a new remote controlled boat (surface craft) that can hunt enemy submarines with no risk.
The stated purpose is to detect hostile submarines by sending the unmanned boats, equipped with sonar, to probe the nooks and crannies where subs might be hiding to ambush a Navy ship or a merchant vessel.
The first of the two boats, developed and stuffed with sonar-detection gear, cost $197 million.
...Each aluminum-hulled boat is 39 feet long, weighs 17,000 pounds and can carry up to 5,000 pounds of intelligence-gathering technology while traveling up to 35
knots in rough waters. ...If all goes as planned, the first will be deployed in 2011, possibly to the Persian Gulf, where the Iranian navy says its submarines, lurking undetected, could close the Strait of Hormuz, through which tankers carrying much of the world's oil supply travel.
Got that? - Detection gear valued at $197 Million. That's more than the reward currently offered for Bin Laden, by the way. Does the navy hope someone comes after the technology so they can blow them out of the water? Very tempting to terror types, and M.E. hopes just as deceptive with patrolling helicopters, etc.



Thursday, September 18, 2008

Israelis Call It the "Nautilus" Ray Gun

For years M.E. has predicted some nuclear subs would become platforms for high-energy laser weapons. While I cannot yet tell you laser weapons have been installed on subs, some significant obstacles have been overcome for several years now.
That would make the FEL [Free Electron Laser] as strong as any laser ever built
-- including the so-called Nautilus ray gun, which knocked artillery shells and mortars out of the sky earlier this decade. ...These days, some lasers use use garnet crystals as their gain media. Others, huge vats of toxic chemicals. But a FEL doesn't use any gain medium at all to generate its beam. ... And that lets the FEL fire along many different wavelengths -- and for a long, long time. ... The Navy is interested in the FEL because most other lasers lose strength as they move through — and get absorbed by — the atmosphere. That's especially in moist environments; above the sea, for instance. But the FEL can pick particular slices of the spectrum where the absorption won't be nearly as bad.
source [emphasis added]

Since tremendous power plants leverage the advantage of nuclear subs, the marriage with lasers is certainly coming. Consider the missions of subs (besides espionage). Targets of stealth opportunity range from high speed, but nowhere near the speed of light, missiles to bombers and satellites. - No problem. You will see a far less practical chemical-powered MTHEL [Mobile Tactical High Energy Laser] blast 46 Katyusha rockets, artillery shells and mortars out of the sky. In some of the tests 3 live mortar rounds and the Katyusha are simultaneously in flight:

MTHEL laser

Wiki has more about FELs. Nuclear subs would make good platforms. If not ours, whose?

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Wednesday, September 17, 2008

First Notions of Female Submariners Comedic and Medical

UPDATE: Even older popularization (still comedic) of females on subs:

Operation Petticoat...(1959)

On 24th August 79 A.D. An eruption from Mount Vesuvius destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum killing over 2,000 inhabitants. Volcanic ash has preserved the bodies and buildings of those who perished for today's tourists.

What first imparted the notion of female submariners? For many it dates back to another August 24th event, this one the 1966 release of the sci-fi movie Fantastic Voyage with starring female Raquel Welch.

The talented editor of the widely acclaimed The Sub Report recently posted a YouTube on Decks Awash!. It features one of Lucille Ball's funniest shows, Lucy And The Submarine (1966). It was not only funny, but cleverly conceived, too.

Was the Lucy episode actually the first popularization of a female on a submarine? The release date turned out to be September 19, 1966, less than a month after Fantastic Vogage's release.

Could there be an even earlier film release with this theme? If anyone finds one, please share it.


Women on submarines (Australian source)

In 1995 the Royal Norwegian Navy became the first navy in the world to appoint a female submarine captain.[4] In 1998, the The Royal Ausralian Navy (RAN)became the second nation to allow women to serve on combat submarines.Canada and Spain followed in permitting women to serve on military submarines. [5] The usual reasons for barring women that are given are: lack of privacy, and hot bunking or hot racking, as due to lack of space this is a common practice on submarines where three sailors share two bunks on a rotating basis. The US Navy, which permits women to serve on almost every other ship in the fleet, only allows three exceptions for women being on board military submarines. ... The US Navy argues it would cost $300,000 per bunk to permit women to serve on sub-marines versus $4,000 per bunk to allow women to serve on aircraft carriers.
Intentionally omitted from above?

Women on submarines (Phyllis Schlafly Speaks):
Women of childbearing age should not be exposed to heavy metals and radiation. In the U.S. industrial world OSHA is clear on these points. What would possibly make the U.S. Navy an exception to protection of the human fetus.



Tuesday, September 16, 2008

CSI: Apra Caruso Update

As all submariners know by now, a mystery submarine intruded Japan's Bungo Strait earlier this week. Caruso provides his take.
In the WW2 movie Run Silent, Run Deep a U.S. sub in Japan's Bungo Strait is identified in one of Tokyo Rose's broadcasts. She goes on to name the C.O. and members of his crew. Watch the 7.3/10 star (IMDB) flick to learn how.



Monday, September 15, 2008

Odd Submarine Beer Mystery

Someone's submarine violated Japan's territorial waters recently.

Japan says it was neither theirs nor a U.S. sub.

Was it China again? Singapore? North Korea?

Canadian and Australian sailors may have tired of Molsons and Fosters brews and headed to Japan for a change of pace.

German sailors could be stocking up for Oktoberfest!

This has as much to do with beer as anything we are ever likely to learn from official sources.

What is really odd is why Japan has called attention to the odd intrusion. Something may be brewing. M.E. expects a larger news story to be reported soon from another part of Asia. Of course, we could always be totally wrong.

By the way, remember when an allegedly undetected Chinese sub surfaced amidst a USS Kitty Hawk exercise a while ago? If a Chinese sub could really do that, why would anyone be surprised when Japan's MSDF's Aegis destroyer Atago spotted a mast in the Bungo Strait? If someone were attempting to secretly test your defenses, wouldn't you be concerned?

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Sunday, September 14, 2008

Submariners, Could This Be You?

Among submariners, an unusually talented and fit group willing to endure extreme difficulties in dedication to making tough jobs seem easy are more than a few explorers with hopes of high adventure. How well do you fit this latter description?

Need to know more? (Hat Tip bookofjoe) From WIRED MAGAZINE Going to Space? First Stop: Eight Months of Grueling Training in Russia's Star City

One cannot merely purchase a ticket to the ISS. First, even wealthy adventurers must spend up to eight months at Russia's cosmonaut training facility,Star City (Zvyozdny Gorodok). There, candidates live in cramped dorms (like a submarine) in what's called the Prophylactory Building. A submarine in port for fast cruise can be called a prophylactory building.

There are a million ways I can screw up and kill everyone, says Richard Garriott, space tourist of video game fame. That's why he's getting remedial cosmonaut training.

How many times have submariners heard how many ways there are to sink a sub? Submariners are familiar with personal privations, and are well adept at coping.

WARNING: Chow will defintely not be up to submarine standards, which is well, because you would waste some of it proving you can endure vomit comets and centrifuges.

Everybody knows you can go to space if you are a perfect physical specimen and incredibly smart, Charles Simonyi, former chief architect of Microsoft says.

If a submariner, must you pay $30 million plus for passage on Russia's space flights, or, are you already considered too crazy to be allowed aboard the spacecraft? Hint: Hugo Chavez is paying much more than the $3o Million for Venezuela's subs, but he won't be making a trip either. Hmmm.



Thursday, September 11, 2008

Updating Submarine Retention and Recruiting in a Job That Females Now Do

Two years ago, Australia was having problems crewing submarines despite a policy of recruiting volunteer seamen and women (from within the Royal Australian Navy). So, it began a new program:

The navy has such a shortage of engineers and marine and electronic technicians to crew its submarines, it has been forced for the first time to recruit straight off the street. Sydney Morning Herald Mar 27, 2006

Molten Eagle explained the actual root cause of the Aussie recruiting problem in Curious: Aussie Admiral Pushes Nuclear Sub Fleet:

Underlying psychology (of Australia's potential male recruits): Why volunteer for a job that females now do? Answer: The young males do not volunteer; glamour has been compromised. For married submariners, moreover, the divorce rate among submariners is huge - about 80 per cent, the Aussies report.

This has now come to pass: September 11, 2008 - The Australian, Another navy sub forced to dry-dock because of crew shortages - 'THE Royal Australian Navy is set to move the fourth of its six Collins-class submarines into dry dock because of crew shortages, undermining Kevin Rudd's plans for a massive upgrade in naval resources to counter a military build-up inAsia.'

Young, red-blooded, male reality has caught up with RAN political expedience. As to retention of male submariners, competition from the mining sector is (remember this?) not unique to Australia. Once open, the Pandora box of female service is not only problematic on subs, its hard to get closed again.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Submarine Response to Pyotr Velikiy (Peter the Great)

These stories caught Juan's attention: Russia to send nuclear warship to Caribbean.

Perhaps because submarine launched autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) are available to the fleets in increasing numbers (such as, 154). The fully equipped AUVs sell for as little as US $100,000 and can perform data-gathering missions for six months. An unstealthy surface ship would cost more than $30,000 a day. Nuclear subs? More costly and best saved for hairy cat and mouse stuff. More here and here.
Submarines are always silent and strange.



Monday, September 08, 2008

Thought Experiment: White House "Red Phone" Call

February 9, 2008 - Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-NY, began airing a new campaign ad aimed at her political opponent for party nomination:


Muslim prayers, or Salat, can be offered in ten minutes, but sometimes take longer. Assuming only 10 minutes duration, the following prayer times have been annotated with major events corresponding to the timeline for September 11, 2001, (or as we call it 9-11):

o3:00 AM none

Muslim prayer times Washington, D.C. (today):

5:13 - 5:23 none

6:45 - 6:55 Atta and al-Omari arrived at Boston's Logan Airport at 6:45.

1:05 - 1:15 President Bush put military on high alert (Threat Condition Delta) at 1:04 and in accordance with related security planning headed to the nation's Strategic Command bunker at Offutt Air Force Base.

4:40 - 4:50 President Bush has been en route back to Washington, D.C. from Offutt Air Force Base on Air Force One since 4:36.

7:25 - 7:35 none

8:56 - 9:06 At 9:00 President Bush meets with his full National Security Council.

Thought Experiment:

Was there ever on 9-11 a 3 AM Red phone call to the President of the U.S.? No

If the President of the U.S. had been a devout Muslim, how many obvious conflicts would there have been in the president's reaction to the events of 9-11 and his timeouts for Salah (prayer)? Two, they are highlighted above.

If the 9-11 plotters had been able to rely on a devout Muslim's president's daily timeouts for prayers, could they have used it to their advantage? Without doubt.

Would having a Muslim U.S. president be a good idea? With that in mind, should we be worried about a U.S. President converting to Islam (a simple, private process) after taking office?

A Muslim P.O.T.U.S. might think it would be a swell idea to issue an Executive Order streamlining immigration into the U.S. of Muslims from Europe, particularly the U.K. and France. Such a move would be popular in Europe, popular with Muslim countries, and popular with many of the 1.7 million registered U.S. Muslims (as of 2004 election) 90% of whom actually cast ballots, unlike other American voters.

Would such an immigration stance guarantee a second term or prevent someone from having it? Perhaps an incumbent would wait for a final term in office. Something those of us who prefer the U.S. Constitution over Sharia law will now have to consider.



Answers to Submarine Questions of the Week

This Master Chief answered all questions including the bonus question accurately. Not a submariner, his identity is provided below.
Answers to Last Friday's Submarine Questions of the Week are found in the naval commemorative cover above, which documented the event described. One reader responded and with total accuracy.
1. Name the Italian president who visited subject U.S. submarine.
2. Name the submarine the Italian president visited.
3. Name the Naval station where the Italian VIP visit took place.
The answer to the Bonus Question (#4 below) is widely documented, but my favorite example is taken from a full-page National Distillers Products Corporation advertisement of the era, excerpted below, which mislabeled the commissioning ceremony as a 'launching' photograph.
4. What technology made subject U.S. submarine the first of its type?

Congratulations go to retired Master Chief Tom Goering for even getting the Bonus Answer correct - and Tom was one of our carrier sailors, not a submariner!

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Friday, September 05, 2008

Submarine Question of the Week

Last July, Salvatore Todaro (S 526), the first Type U212A submarine, made the first Italian submarine visit to the U.S. since World War II. Before leaving the U.S., the Todaro will participate in New York City's Columbus Day celebrations.

Italian submarine YouTube

An Italian president (post WWII) once visited a first of its kind U.S. submarine at one of the same U.S. Naval Stations in Todaro's U.S. itenarary. A commenorative naval cover with several clues obscured, including the submarine's crest, is shown above.
Questions of the Week:
1. Name the Italian president who visited subject U.S. submarine.
2. Name the submarine the Italian president visited.
3. Name the Naval station where the Italian VIP visit took place.
Bonus Question:
4. What technology made subject U.S. submarine the first of its type?
Answers will appear Monday. Have a great weekend.
Submarines are always silent and strange.



Thursday, September 04, 2008

Submarine Visit Cartoon

UPDATED: Shown in the US Navy photo is USS Holland (SS-1) with visiting USNA midshipmen. The Holland was commissioned in 1900. Today, female middies often make submarine middie cruises.

Of the 4 nominees on the major party's tickets (Biden, McCain, Obama, Palin) which, if any has ever been on or visited a U.S. submarine?

If you know, please share the details (who, which, when, and where) with the rest of us.

The answer, which M.E. confesses not knowing, should surprise submariners no matter what it is.

Juan Caruso promises a cartoon dedicated to the first of you with a verifiable answer.



Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Editors Deservedly Zinged in Latest Submarine Error

In a main passageway of the SSN-575 boat was a brushed aluminum placard listing all of her commanding officers from earliest to latest. I served (sometimes briefly) under four of these COs and met the boat's commissioning C.O. at a ship's reunion afterward.

James Earl Carter's name appeared nowhere on the placard. Carter (Annapolis '47), a submarine officer, had run for Georgia's governor by that time. Everyone in the crew and most on the SubBase Groton knew of Carter's submarine service and early connection to a particular nuclear boat. After Carter became U.S. President, his connection to USS Seawolf was both embellished;

He rises quickly in the Navy, becoming senior officer of a nuclear submarine. ... After six years in the service, Lieutenant Carter earned one of the most coveted posts in the Navy: senior officer of the USS Seawolf, on the vanguard of America's nuclear defense program. PBS American Experience - The Presidents - JIMMY CARTER - NAVAL CAREER .

And clarified:

Detached from Pomfret on 1 February 1951, Carter was assigned as Engineering Officer for the precommissioning detail for USS K-1 (SSK 1). K-1,the first postwar submarine built, was under construction by Electric BoatDivision, General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, Connecticut. After K-1'scommissioning on 10 November 1951, Carter served as Executive Officer,Engineering Officer, and Electronics Repair Officer. During this tour he also qualified for command of a submarine. ... Carter was preparing to become the engineering officer for the nuclear power plant to be placed in USS Seawolf (SSN575), one of the first submarines to operate on atomic power. He assisted insetting up training for the enlisted men who would serve on Seawolf. ... After his father's death in 1953, Carter resigned from the Navy to return to Georgia to manage the family interests. DEPARTMENT OF THE NAVY -- NAVAL HISTORICAL CENTER; Lieutenant James EarleCarter, Jr., USN.

So, fellow submariners, now you better appreciate the details behind the point a retired Captain made recently in an article the editor gave the misleading title: Carter didn’t qualify for nuke submarines;
While President Carter was a competent and qualified submarine officer, he never commanded a diesel submarine, attended nuclear power school or completed nuclear PCO training, therefore he was never 'qualified to command a nuclear submarine.'
To which one Michael Fain replied ... the ZINGER:

Actually, it is technically wrong to say Carter never commanded a nuclear submarine. As C-in-C he commanded all of our subs.
Bravo! That certainly included Seawolf. By the way, after reading the Naval Historical Center's text above and examining the photos, have you detected any error? Confused? That is because ... Submarines are always silent and strange.



Monday, September 01, 2008

Brazil's Nuclear Submarine and Journalistic Fictions

You have probably seen this curious AP headline...

Brazil spending $160M on nuclear propelled sub


Brazil will spend US$160 million by the end of next year on the development of a nuclear-propelled submarine to protect the oil reserves found recently off its coast, the defense minister said Friday. The vessel — which officials hope to be complete by 2020 — would be the first nuclear-propelled submarine in Latin America. Brazil does not have nuclear weapons.The submarine is the highlight of the Brazil's new defense plan — to be made public on Sept. 7. [color emphasis added].

Did the murky headline make you wonder ... how one nuclear submarine protects an offshore oil field? Or, more importantly, why it would even take a nuclear sub to protect an oil field that does not move? What happens to the second largest oil field discovery in twenty years, for instance, when the nuke sub returns to port to replenish, or worse enters drydock for overhaul? Well, Brazil has 5 modern conventional subs, too, and is expected to add several Scorpene class subs in the near future. Why nuclear subs then? Yes, that's right, Brazil has planned to build several nuclear subs since 1979.

The first of Brazil's 209 class subs was constructed by Germany's HDW, while the others were built at Arsenal de Marinha do Rio de Janeiro (AMRJ). AMRJ launched a fifth boat, the improved Tupi class Tikuna, on March 9, 2005. Brazil planned to begin constructing a new class of five diesel submarines [Scorpene's? ]. These would use the same hulls as eventual nuclear subs to expedite hull testing before installing nuclear reactors on the second and third of the class.

Nuclear subs come with massive technology transfers, in this case from France, that will eventually permit developing and constructing a submarine reactor entirely from Brazilian technology. Brazil's defense minister, Nelson Jobim, ridiculed the idea that Brazil's uranium enrichment program would ever be used to make a nuclear bomb. 'That's total nonsense,' he said, last November.

Brazil's strategic affairs minister said this week that Brazil is planning a 'significant increase' in defense spending. Roberto Mangabeira Unger told reporters Brazil wants to create a rapid deployment force and build a state-of-the-art weapons industry - one that would become an active exporter of arms. [color emphasis added]

The Economist noted Brazil's latest oil discovery could offset the regional influence of President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela. A Financial Times editorial suggested U.S. President George Bush—and his successor—should enhance ties with Brazil by reducing tariffs on its ethanol exports.

There is an even more obvious element to Brazil's rationale, of course. The Second-Largest Oil Field Discovered in the Past 20 Years - What better time would there ever be to justify an immense increase in defense spending than when a productive, natural resource
is discovered?

Some U.S. government reports have raised suspicions that Brazil's Triple Border region with Argentina and Paraguay is a haven for radical Islamic revenues.

Brazil’s Petrobras and Mexico’s Pemex also formed a strategic alliance last year. While Petrobras is a leading expert in deep and ultra-deepwater oil drilling— a technology Mexico lacks— Pemex is expert at deepwater gas exploration.

In any case, the AP seems to have misinformed us about the real purposes for building Brazil's nuclear submarine, as well as plans for building more.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Answers to Submarine Questions of the Week

Answers to last Friday's Questions of the Week:

1. What error of fact has the author clearly made in the above paragraph? (NavyCS got this one right)
Ans.: Contrary to the author's description appearing in the excerpt, USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) is not nuclear-powered, but is propelled by 8 conventional steam boilers.
2. Did the Kitty Hawk make the proposed deployment, and if so, which U.S. submarine accompanied Kitty Hawk?
Ans.: Yes, Kitty Hawk did deploy - On 18 November, 1979, USS Midway (CV-41) arrived in the northern part of the Arabian Sea in connection with the continuing hostage crisis in Iran. Midway was joined on 21 November by USS Kitty Hawk, and both carriers, along with their escorts were joined by the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) carrier group on 22 January 1980. Kitty Hawk returned to San Diego in late February 1980.
Ans.: [WARNING: Wikipedia article does not reference a source for this information, which implies a leak of classified subject matter, shoddy substantiation, or bogus fact] In September 1979, USS Pintado (SSN-672) deployed to the Indian Ocean and supported Carrier Battle Groups Alpha and Bravo during the early weeks of the Iranian hostage crisis. The Pintado also returned to San Diego in February 1980.

Bonus Question:
3. What is the title of the book? Ans.: The Siege of Mecca: The 1979 Uprising at Islam's Holiest Shrine, by Yaroslav Trofimov; Random House, New York, November 1, 2007.
Submarines are always silent and strange.