Thursday, January 29, 2009

The Crikey news: The "going down club"

Just as some of us had suspected:

This British-born Australian submarine officer and a gentleman, was not only allowed to do the interview by his command, he had been assigned to do it.

His answers were forthright, sincere and scientifically correct. To America's mainstream sailors that makes CDR Phillips discreet, as well as red-blooded. Australia's deputy chief of Navy said the offending comments made to freelance journalist John Bastik were a response to a "flippant question and the commanding officer's response was not intended to be serious."

Unfortunately, Commander Phillips fielded a couple of tricky RALPH questions about "booze, birds and biff" in a rather tactless manner, mentioning a Navy "down under club" and agreeing with RALPH’s suggestion that female sailors wearing bikinis might boost recruitment. By the time The Daily Telegraph got onto the story it’d morphed into a SUB-STANDARD S-X GAFFE eagerly picked up by other media outlets.
Ralph Magazine's Bastik had asked CDR Phillips: If female sailors all had to be hot and had to wear bikinis, would that help, recruitment?

CDR Phillips replied: It would certainly get the right demographic of young men in. I'm not sure how feasible it is.

Asked what having sex on a submarine was known as, CDR Phillips replied: I call it the going down club - then added that he was 'not aware of any sex on board.
More power to the RAN and our salute to CDR Phillips!



Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Putin May Use Some Charm to Resolve India's Submarine Order

Confusing Lease, So far ...

November 9, 2008 - Twenty die on Russian submarine - The BBC -

At least 20 people have died in an accident on a Russian nuclear submarine when a fire extinguishing system was activated by mistake. ... The Nerpa is due to be leased to the Indian navy, and Indian naval personnel were due to travel to Vladivostok earlier this month to train on board the submarine ahead of its transfer, according to the website Indian Defence.


January 22, 2009 - Delivery of Russian nuclear submarine postponed indefinitely
Agency reports indicate that Russia may have indefinitely postponed delivery of the Schucka-B (NATO: Akula-II) class nuclear submarine to India as sea trials of this advanced attack sub are still incomplete. The Information Company Private Limited .

January 23, 2009 - No delay in acquiring Russian nuke sub: Indian Navy
The Indian Navy said on Friday there was "no delay" in its acquisition of a Russian nuclear-powered submarine though technical glitches could push the delivery back. The Hindu .
January 27, 2009 - Sailors Refuse To Board Cursed Boat
The Russian Akula II SSN (nuclear attack submarine) that was supposed to be delivered to India this year, is being delayed by difficulty in completing its sea trials.
Vladimir Putin, the current Prime Minister of Russia, chairman of United Russia and Chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Union of Russia and Belarus may have the charm to overcome frightened sailors' objections to boarding the cursed submarine...

Molten Eagle remains almost 100% certain U.S. submariners are not subject to superstition.
Submarines are always silent and strange.



Tuesday, January 27, 2009

UPDATE: Further Evidence that the Draft is VERY BROKEN

In 2006 Molten Eagle brought you this Why Our Politicians Cower from the Draft: It is VERY BROKEN

So strongly do we feel about this problem that we went to extra lengths (print and radio) to get the word out to the sleeping public. Most people told us we were wrong, although experienced corporate folk in Human Resources tended to agree with us. Now, 3 years later, something very interesting has just happened. We finally have solid evidence of the danger foreseen. The story was buried and the explanation was even more obscure:

U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock ruled Monday that a separate law that bans employment at federal executive agencies for men who fail to register is an unconstitutional bill of attainder, an obscure Constitutional provision that prohibits the legislative branch from punishing people without a judicial trial.

Associated PressTuesday, January 27, 2009 - Draft requirement for fed jobs challenged

BOSTON — Henry Tucker had worked for the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. for 17 years when he was told he was going to lose his job — because he hadn’t registered for the military draft when he was 18.

The Military Selective Service Act requires men between 18 and 26 to register. Another law bans employment at executive agencies for men who fail to register. U.S. District Judge Douglas Woodlock made the ruling Monday in a lawsuit filed by four men fired from their jobs or who lost job offers with federal agencies because they failed to register. They seek reinstatement to their jobs and back pay. Woodlock found that law violates a Constitutional provision that prohibits the legislative branch from punishing people without a trial.

A U.S. Department of Justice spokesman had no comment.


No wonder USDoJ had no comment. The real reason? Women are not required to register for the draft. How then, can a man be denied employment in a job for a qualification not required of women? ANSWER: He cannot; that is today considered automatically Unconstitutional and violates EEOC laws.

Well then, why did the judge make his decision based upon bill of attainder, when all he had to say was Tucker's job loss was Unconstitutional because it did not apply equally? Hopefully, M.E. readers can answer that for themselves.

We would have big problems in store for the military if anyone tries to implement the draft until the underlying gender issue is resolved equitably.

PREDICTION: Judge Woodlock's ruling WILL NOT BE APPEALED, much less overturned. Touching this issue is too hot and non-PC anywhere in the country, today.



Monday, January 26, 2009

CDR Salamander's Submarine Event Horizon

Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines event horizon as the surface of a black hole: the boundary of a black hole beyond which nothing can escape from within it.

More colloquially, an event horizon is the distance beyond which our senses and intelligence leave us blind to whatever actually occurs.

Two prime examples appear in today's blogs.


Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi boldly defended a move to add birth control funding to the new economic "stimulus" package, claiming "contraception will reduce costs to the states and to the federal government." ... The revelation came during an exchange Sunday morning on ABC's THIS WEEK.

Pelosi's event horizon: What is Speaker Pelosi's position on illegal Mexican immigration? How much has illegal immigration already cost her home state, California, for instance? Is Speaker Pelosi obtuse, or just hypocritical?

Finally, CDR Salamnder gives his readers A strange alignment... , in which the venerable naval blogger finds himself 'in perfect alignment with him [William S. Lind]: ... the sourcing and education of our officers.'

Lind writes (excerpted for brevity; go to Salamanders for the full paragraphs and link to Lind's underlying book):

All skippers of U.S. Navy submarines, our capital ships, must be nuclear engineers. This is in strong contrast to Britain’s Royal Navy, whose submarine commanders have nuclear engineers working for them where they belong, in the engine room. The other influential community in the U.S. Navy’s officer corps, the aviators, are also primarily technicians, people whose main skill is flying high-performance aircraft.

The major problem with Lind's and CDR Salamander's proposition is quite unlike Speaker Pelosi's hypocrisy or obtuseness. M.E. might even agree with the notion of non-engineering COs for subs, if the timing were better. The timing seems particularly dangerous for the U.S. Submarine Force, at this juncture, however.

CDR Salamander's event horizon: If the announced demise of DADT were to usher in TOTAL (Tolerance of Open Trolling and All Life Styles), submarine recruitment might suffer particularly. Plummeting re-enlistment could justify (at least in the current administration) assignment of females to subs, which, as has already been the case in Australia, may reduce recruitment still further.
Add to problem recruiting a shift to non-engineer sub COs and the premier submarine service in the world might become something less, as Juan Caruso has depicted in his latest cartoon.

NOTE: Don't forget to enter the related Sitting Parlor caption contest. Creative types can have a 'field day' with it.
Submarines are always silent and strange.



Sunday, January 25, 2009

Almost Never ESP

Some things remain extremely difficult to find. Among them are women like this.

We have already explained how such hypothesized females might be valuable in submarines. Especially, if they also had a related extrasensory perception skill, such as remote viewing.

Such women have remained extremely difficult to locate, however.

Some of you, no doubt, believe strongly in ESP. Go right ahead. Some things are tough to explain without it. Speaking of tough to explain, here are IMDB's Best-rated psychic movies.

What would you call Juan's prediction that a submarine will save an unlucky soul whose plane ditches in the ocean this year? Probably preposterous. Lifeguard duty is no longer assigned to nuclear submarines, for obvious reasons. Still, if there is an opportunity to save a VIP, and no other shipping is close enough, an order could be given. In 1944, the situation was different for diesel boats assigned lifeguarding for WW2 airmen bombing Japan. Over 500 fliers were rescued, including a future U.S. president, who recently parachuted on his birthday.

Finally, for old Starsky and Hutch fans, here's a related episode to watch from your PC.

NOTE: Don't forget to enter the related Sitting Parlor caption contest. Creative types can have a 'field day' with it.

Submarines are always silent and strange.


Friday, January 23, 2009

Answers (Oscar I of a kind sub)... Mystery Questions of the Week

Mystery Q & As from Sunday, January 18, 2009

1. What is most striking to other submariners?
....The volume of unused space on this military sub.
2. The occupants are seated; in what activity, if any, do they appear engaged?
....Propaganda: Rest and relaxation in this photograph. Another reason these guys are seated is to convey a false sense of exceptional headroom. Above photo indicates a conservative estimate of the actual headroom. The guy to right of 'A' appears to be even taller.
3. Why were rocking chairs provided?
....Propaganda: Rocking chairs connote a relatively serene environment usually associated with the elderly or convalescense, and they are fallaciously depicted as suitable for submarine use, because rockers automatically adjust to angles and dangles when appropriately turned.
4. Can you name at least 5 aesthetically pleasing design considerations?
.....Ambient lighting, green carpeting, the presence of botanicals, scenic mural, hidden mechanical clutter (piping, ducting, cabling, electric panels, etc.), non-recessed (music perhaps) speakers.
5. What personal safety article is not shown?
....Readers will recall this belt device, later determined to be for emergency breathing.
6. What purpose does the space serve (best answer)?
.....Propaganda (see #2, #3, and #7): Casual viewers would guess the space serves as an incentive for excellent performance, or therapy for the fatigues of long voyages. SSN sailors know this would be hokum. Think of the recruiting implications for various countries who did or did not provide such therapeutic environments.
7. What could be an alternative use of this space?
....Special Projects (ad hoc) area, provision storage for extended voyages, berthing for extra 'riders', triage area, emergency surgery suite, etc.
8. Are the four guys qualified or dinqs, or would that not matter?
....Does not matter: The guys are definitely 'volunteers', but probably for the photo shoot.
NOTE: Don't forget to enter the related Sitting Parlor caption contest.
Submarines are always silent and strange. No two are ever quite alike.



Thursday, January 22, 2009

Stealth Submarine Progress Report

Remember this Juan Caruso cartoon, which appeared in Islamic Republic's Latest "Smart" Submarine last August?

At the time the report did not elaborate on its size and technical specifics and did not say whether the submarine had been tested. Five months later, Iran claims a technical university student has now produced a design. Testing? Well, we expect Juan will prove correct:

Life still imitates art. News Agency: Iran buids [sic] new submarine

Iranian technical university student Hassan Sharifzadeh drafted a new reconnaissance submarine that can avoid radar detection, the Iranian Fars news agency said. No crew will man the submarine which will be controlled remotely. The submarine can reach a depth of up to 8 meters and carry 8 kilograms of explosives to place near enemy positions. A SIM card connects the controller to the submarine.

The submarine also makes photos and videos and sends the data to the control center, Sharifzadeh said. [ed. We guess in the VERIZON network]

Why is this important? Because weapons programs are not without hazards, Israel has not yet attacked Iran's nuclear industry, and that may only be because an accident is a better counter.

Submarines are always silent and strange.


Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Submarine "Sitting Parlor" Contest

Here's a chance for talented individuals to inject humor into a photo with indisputable potential.
(Disregard the relative sizes and shapes of caption balloons) What does #1 say, and what does #2 say?


Monday, January 19, 2009

Hail to the Chief

In honor of Tuesday's (January 20th) inauguration of P.E. Barack Hussein Obama II, 44th President of the United States, M.E. links you to 14 seconds of music performed by the U.S. Navy band.

Go here to listen to or download Ruffles and flourishes with Hail to the Chief (MP3).

Fitting lyrics, written by Albert Gamse, were set to James Sanderson's music, but have rarely been sung:

Hail to the Chief we have chosen for the nation,
Hail to the Chief! We salute him, one and all.
Hail to the Chief, as we pledge cooperation
In proud fulfillment of a great, noble call.
Yours is the aim to make this grand country grander,
This you will do, that's our strong, firm belief.
Hail to the one we selected as commander,
Hail to the President! Hail to the Chief!
As we have said before, we must be indebted to the service of every president as Commander-in-Chief, alone.
At this time, Obama seems a capable, decent sort and gets our total loyalty.
Our next posting will be Wednesday. Thanks for stopping by!



Sunday, January 18, 2009

Mystery Questions of the Week

The submarine photo above, found on, was identified by its contributor with the Oscar I class (Project 949 Granit). There were few Oscar I subs (from 1978-1997). Remember, this is not from a boomer. The nominal crew size for Oscars was only 107.

Oscars were the largest guided missile submarines in service until the advent of Ohio class SSGNs in October 2007. Soviet Typhoon class, ballistic missile submarines (displacing 26,000 T) of 1980s vintage remain the largest submarines ever built.

This week's mystery questions involve the photo, not the submarine. Answers (yours, if better than mine) are expected by Friday.
Mystery Questions
1. What about the photo is most striking to other submariners?
2. The occupants are seated; in what activity, if any, do they appear engaged?
3. Why were rocking chairs provided (did your subs have even one rocking chair)?
4. Aesthetically pleasing design considerations are apparent; can you name at least 5?
5. What personal safety article found on other Soviet/Russian subs is not shown?
6. What purpose for the space seems most apparent (one answer only)?
7. Assuming the space is not purpose dedicated, what could be an alternative use?
8. Are the four guys qualified or dinqs, or would that not matter?
Submarines are always silent and strange. No two are ever quite alike.



Friday, January 16, 2009

Ongoing Cover-Up: Conclusion to Bloody Nose, Sexual Harassment and a Deserter - Part 3

Background from Parts 1 and 2 can be found here.

Remember headlines like this one?

Dec 10, 2008 -CAPE CANAVERAL – ORLANDO SENTINEL : NASA has become a transition problem for Obama -- Here are some excerpts

NASA administrator Mike Griffin is not cooperating with President-elect Barack Obama’s transition team, is obstructing its efforts to get information and has told its leader that she is “not qualified” to judge his rocket program, the Orlando Sentinel has learned.

In a heated 40-minute conversation last week with Lori Garver, a former NASA associate administrator who heads the space transition team, a red-faced Griffin demanded to speak directly to Obama, according to witnesses. In addition, Griffin is scripting NASA employees and civilian contractors on what they can tell the transition team and has warned aerospace executives not to criticize the agency’s moon program, sources said.

...transition-team interviews have been monitored by NASA officials “taking copious notes,” according to congressional and space-community sources. Employees who met with the team were told to tell their managers about the interview.The tensions are due to the fact that NASA’s human space flight program is facing its biggest crossroads since the end of the Apollo era in the 1970s. The space shuttle is scheduled to be retired in 2010, and the next-generation Constellation rockets won’t fly before 2015.

NASA’s Chief of Strategic Communications, denied that Griffin is trying to keep information from the team, or that he is seeking a meeting with Obama.
What is at the core of the policy differences? All manner of problems have been inferred from space aliens to absence of engineering expertise (Garver is not one), but Lori Garver may be a gender-obsessed feminist:

Member, Board of Directors, Women in Aerospace, 2001-2004
Member, Board of Advisors, Women of Washington, 1998 – 2000
Member, Board of Directors, Women in Aerospace, 1989-1994
President, Women in Aerospace, 1993

Will Garver endorse continuing expensive delays for cautious research relative to a politically incorrect topic? Probably not so much, we believe. The topic, which has befuddled NASA and ESA since 1997, are major Behavior and Performance Working Group concerns relative to gender during space exploration.

One might think Garver has no choice but to continue prelimary, psychological studies in gender problems. To non-strategic thinkers more delays may sound consistent with budgetary constraints (do we still have those?), but it will certainly retard space science, space industry employment, and allow potential adversaries imperilling leads in space.

Despite NASA's cover story (the space shuttle is scheduled to be retired in 2010, and the next-generation Constellation rockets won’t fly before 2015), M.E. believes requisite gender studies are really what will not be complete before 2015. Here is something NBC News space analyst James Oberg reported that tends to support our opinion:

The medical stresses will grow more severe as NASA moves through a string of complex missions on the international space station, through the twilight years of the space shuttle era, and onward to a new era that will take humans beyond low Earth orbit. Human weaknesses that may have been tolerable before now may, at some point, reach a breaking point. To forestall such disasters, a fuller appreciation of the history of medical screening is needed. source [color added]

Notice how the timeline for medical stresses is tied together with space shuttle retirement? If so, you probably picked up on the convenient, politically correct euphemism for future gender

problems (confidentiality required by H.I.P.A.A.'s Privacy Rule, of course).

Unless politicians allow realities of gender (differences) in various space assignments, submarines included, the magnitude of tragedies we are about to see will be devastating. Meantime, Hollywood will have a field day with politically correct depictions of what never really happened.

Politicians of the anthropogenic climate change stripe would probably be more comfortable promoting chemically nuetering males through drinking water than admiting to gender differences, however.

Submarines are always silent and strange. Rarely, however, relevant information is leaked through the space program, we have said before.



Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Bloody Nose, Sexual Harassment and a Deserter (after _?_ days) - Part 2

Implications are being swept under the carpet...
Continuation from background in Monday's Part 1 ...


THERE ARE PLENTY of technical problems on the way to Mars: how to avoid excess radiation, maintain food supplies, and generally not die. But the real hazard between here and there is going nuts. That's why this spring, six participants in the European Space Agency and Russia's Institute for Biomedical Problems's Mars500 program are going to lock themselves in a series of metal tubes in a facility in Moscow for 520 days, rougly the time it should take to travel 100 million miles to Mars, spend 30 days there, and return. ... A similar experiment by the Institute for Biomedical Problems in 1999 ended in a bloody nose, sexual harassment and a deserter-after only 110 days.

Readers will note the type of notorious, 1999 experiment (Sphinx-99) had been recommended in 1997 by a NASA TASK Force in Final Report on Countermeasures [APPENDIX F-3, recommendations of the Behavior and Performance Working Group (BPWG), BPWG's eleven General recommendations, found on page F-10]:

Research on gender with respect to behavior and performance on space missions needs to be assessed with respect to space crews, ground crews, families. [color emphasis added]

As a result of the ensuing sexual assault, attempted murder, and battery there was Crimes in Space: A criminological and criminal justice approach to criminal acts in outer space, by Dr. Julian Hermida, Assistant Professor of Law, Algoma University, Canada. Here are some excerpts:

Both the United States and Russia have conducted a series of experiments in space and on earth aimed at testing human responses to isolation conditions in outer space[23]. One of the most notorious examples is the experience conducted by the Russian Institute of Biomedical Problems in 1998 and 1999[24]. In this experience, seven male astronauts of Russian and Japanese nationalities and a female Canadian astronaut –Judith Lapierre- spent 110 days aboard a replica of the Mir space station. Astronauts conducted several scientific experiments for different agencies and the Institute of Biomedical Problems analyzed the astronauts’ adaptability to a space-like environment[25].

The experiment attracted international attention as several crimes were committed in the station. Two Russian astronauts committed battery, assault and attempted murder and one of them –the Russian commander- also sexually assaulted and harassed Judith Lapierre[26]. Russian officials tried to minimize these incidents but the Canadian reaction against the sexual assault virtually derived in a diplomatic conflict[27].

At several occasions during the 110-day experiment, Judith Lapierre reported that she feared she would be sexually attacked
[28]. However, Russian authorities did nothing to protect her, in part because they were interested in studying human reaction, including criminal and deviant behavior, to isolation in outer space[29].

What we were not told: The Russians miscreants had been in the modules for six months (> 180 days), not just 110 days. Furthermore, Russian space psychologists alleged Dr. Judith Lapierre exhibited hysteria and depression during the experiment. The Russians also suggested that she had unintentionally provoked the Russian misbehavior. Under pressure from the Canadian Space Agency, however, the Russians backed off on their charges. more.

In late 2007, a 14-day 'quickie' experiment inside the Mars-500 facility was conducted. The all- Russian crew included 5 men and 1 woman (Marina Petrovna Tugusheva). What conclusion was drawn from a mere 14 days isolation? Here:

The female presence in the crew did not prove disruptive as all knew that they had to behave professionally. Women in future crews are now a possibility – previously they [women] were not to be included. [color emphasis added]

2009 105-day mission precursor (delayed from 2008)

E-mail (40-minute simulated delays) with family and friends will be allowed (and monitored), but there will be no Internet access. 'Free access to information may produce catastrophic results,' says Larisa Chevelyova, the program psychologist. Again, Russian woman Tugusheva, Marina Petrovna/Тугушева Марина Петровна (1983). Biologist, Researcher IMBP, is the only woman in the crew.

MARS-500 will be a ground-based experiment simulating manned flight to Mars at the Institute of Biomedical Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences. The experiment is slated to last between 520 and 700 days. Crew selection / training is now progress. YouTube:

Submarines are always silent and strange. Things are about to get stranger.



Monday, January 12, 2009

A Bloody Nose, Sexual Harassment and a Deserter (after only 110 days) - Part 1

Submarines are always silent and strange. Rarely, however, relevant information is leaked through the space program, we have said before.

This time it was not NASA's space program, but the European Space Program seemed to take seriously recommendation #8 of a 1997 NASA study we had highlighted here:
8. Research on gender with respect to behavior and performance on space missions needs to be assessed with respect to space crews, ground crews,

WHAT HAPPENED in 1999 (from Monkeys in a Can):
A 110-day experiment in isolation that was carried out in a mock space station in Moscow in 1999 showed how things can badly go wrong. One module housed four Russian men; the other, three international test subjects, from Austria, Canada and Japan. Reports within the space community say that during a New Year’s celebration two of the Russian men engaged in a 10-minute fist-fight that left blood on the walls before they were restrained by the other men. The mission commander hauled the only female, Judith Lapierre, a Canadian, out of sight of the experiment’s cameras and twice gave her a French kiss that she fought in vain to resist. The Japanese participant was so traumatised by this episode that he quit the experiment altogether. The Canadian and Austrian, a male scientist, continued with the mission — but insisted on having locks fitted to their module door. [color emphasis added]
More here.
Submarines are always silent and strange. Rarely, however, relevant information is leaked through the space program.



Sunday, January 11, 2009

Mystery Question of the Week - Class: Answer

Mystery Question of the Week
Below is a photo from a submarine's 'head'. Although the sink appears hastily scrubbed, the watercloset is in need of obvious attention (vertigris), peeling paint, etc.

From what submarine class was the above photo taken?


Rick, your solitary guess was certainly very commendable. The submarine photo is of a Russkie Foxtrot, however: INSIDE THE SOVIET SUBMARINE FOXTROT B-461 - photo by Johan M.
The Russian Navy retired its last Foxtrots between 1995 and 2000[1], although some may still be in service with other nations.

No one participating in the White House discussions nor anyone else in the U.S. government knew that each of the four Soviet submarines in the area had a nuclear torpedo on board... source


During the missile crisis, U.S. naval officers did not know about Soviet palns for a submarine base (at Mariel Bay. Cuba) or that the Foxtrot submarines were nuclear armed. source

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Friday, January 09, 2009

Mystery Question of the Week - Class

Not the mystery question: Remember the Royal Swedish Navy's AIP submarine HMS Gotland? Here is an interesting video of Gotland class sister ship, HMS Halland. Inside we see and hear both male and female descendants of vikings in a weapon launch.

Mystery Question of the Week

Below is a photo from a submarine's 'head'. Although the sink appears hastily scrubbed, the watercloset is in need of obvious attention (vertigris), peeling paint, etc.

From what submarine class was the photo taken?

Answer Monday.

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Thursday, January 08, 2009

Noting Integrity

The second USS Thresher, (SSN-593), was the lead ship of her class (later known as the 'Permit' SSN-594 class) of nuclear-powered attack submarines. Thresher was lost in 1963, in what every U.S. submariner knows was the triggering event for the Navy's SUBSAFE program.

Thresher had been commissioned 3 August 1961, Commander Dean L. Axene in command. We have traced CDR Axene's and USS Thresher's whereabouts on Sept. 16, 1961, below. More importantly, however, we can easily trace his whereabouts for the thirty years from June 1944, when he graduated from the USNA, until July 1974, when he retired from the Navy.

Rear Admiral Dean Lane Axene, 85, of Azalea Trace, Pensacola, FL, passed away on Friday, Dec. 19, 2008. Eric Ryle's Decks Awash! has Rear Admiral Axene's obit here. U.S. Naval Academy ('44). Retired thirty years later. This is how it used to be --- candidates actually dedicated to military careers attended service academies and taxpayers received the full worth of such costly educations.

Too few midshipman have been like Axene these days. We certainly mourn the loss and maintain our gratitude and respect for those like Axene and his successor (USNA '46).



Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Squared Away

During our initial SSN orientation someone undoubtedly informed us who the barber was. It did not take long to realize submarine barbers were nuc' machinists mates with clipper custody, but no practice, desire or patience for cutting hair aside from rare preparations for doc's brain surgery or a half-moustache removal prank.

Chiefs were usually balding or flat-topped due to their own, careful efforts, and the wardroom had a handy steward or two.

In fact, SSNs were one of two places NEVER to get your haircut voluntarily. We revelled in our shaggy, pirate cuts between ports. It set us apart from the boomers, sub tenders and large skimmers.

SHs work in surface only environments, including ship's stores or barber shops.

Here's what one guy (MSGT Glenn) said:

We had shipboard barbers in the Navy. I was on large surface ships so seldom that I only know of a barber shop aboard a Submarine Tender. The Subamarine I was on had no barbers nor did the dive team I was on. The base usually had a barber shop but whether that was run by sailors or civilians I couldn't say.

Boomer sailors may not have been so lucky (would you really want a haircut in the ship's head?):

... to the Starboard side is one of the main crew's head (bathroom) which contained showers, sinks and a stall or two. The brushed stainless steel finish assisted with cleaning. Frequently, the head was the centerpiece of such activities as haircut day. Unlike surface ships, submarines do not embark a "trained" barber. Check out the rest of this neat page from USS Casimir Pulaski (SSBN-633) Lower Level Tour.

Hard as I try, I still cannot recall who our designated barber was (because no one really did it). Not part of qualifications. Would have made a decent oolie, though.
What stories can you remember?
Submarines are always silent and strange.



Thursday, January 01, 2009

Of course you've heard of "Operation Restore Effective Survival in Shock" (Op RESUS)

UPDATE: Monday, March 23, 2009 -
Navy to try again to get Hemopure trial OKd source

News of a blood substitute has potential benefits for submariners, especially when the Navy has been involved in the related clinical trials. This updates M.E.'s More Submarine Medical Matters from 2006, as well as from USS Nebraska Tragedy, from September last:

December 31, 2008 - FDA blocks Naval trial of Hemopure - The Food and Drug Administration blocked the US Naval Medical Research Center from launching a clinical trial to see whether Biopure's product, Hemopure, could successfully be used to treat casualties when traditional blood transfusions are unavailable,Biopure said late Tuesday.

December 11, 2008 - US Navy to Trial Hemopure Stabilized Hemoglobin - U.S. Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC) has submitted to the FDA a revised investigational new drug application to begin a clinical trial of Hemopure® [hemoglobin glutamer - 250 (bovine)], a stabilized hemoglobin, for pre-hospital battlefield treatment of trauma patients. The study is entitled Operation Restore Effective Survival in Shock (Op RESUS).

According to Wikipedia article (WARNING: does not cite any references or sources) Hemopure's ® blood substitute allegedly possesses these advantageous properties:

Stability (36 months) at room temperature
Compatibility with all blood types
Ultra-purity assuring inactivation of potential contaminants, infectious agents (e.g. viruses, and bacteria) and TSE agents.

In June 2008, the NMRC had submitted and subsequently withdrew an Op RESUS protocol for Phase 2 clinical trials of Hemopure for casualties when blood transfusion is not available. The latest trial hypothesized that for such casualties Hemopure would improve survival, be relatively safe and well tolerated, in comparison with standard fluid. Had the trial been permitted to proceed, subjects would have signed advanced informed consents. The revised Op RESUS protocol addressed some of the issues raised by the FDA on the initial filing.

Hemopure(R) HBOC-201 is approved for sale in South Africa for the treatment of surgical patients (non-trauma) who are acutely anemic. The US FDA, however, refused the Op RESUS trial for three reasons: the safety of the trial’s subjects, a protocol deficient in meeting stated objectives and brochure content. Biopure's related veterinary product HBOC-301, is the only oxygen therapeutic approved for marketing by both the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission, and is indicated for the treatment of anemia in dogs.

Suitable blood substitutes have been pusued by pharmaceutical companies since the Viet Nam war. The medical goals are worthwhile although the quarry has been elusive.

If the National Naval Medical Center (NNMC), also known as the Bethesda Naval Hospital, is unfamiliar to you, naval history may not be your accute interest:

When NNMC was dedicated in 1942, its mission was providing medical care to military personnel only. Because Franklin D. Roosevelt had paralysis of his lower extremeties, the medical center provided precedent setting care necessary for his official office.

On May 22, 1949, Secretary of Defense James V. Forrestal alledgedly committed suicide there by jumping from a sixteenth floor window.

An autopsy of U.S. President John F. Kennedy was performed at Bethesda Naval Hospital during the evening of November 22, 1963. The manner in which the autopsy was conducted and photographic analysis of it have become the subject of controversy.

On July 13, 1985, Reagan underwent surgery to remove polyps from his colon. In a letter transferring power to then vice president George H. W. Bush, Reagan deliberately invoked the Acting President clause of the 25th Amendment. [1]

Submarines are always silent and strange.