Friday, February 27, 2009

Mystery Questions of the Week - 27 Feb 2009

Here, we see a graduating class of U.S. Navy electricians. About three years later, some of these electricians would certainly participate in World War I.

The superstructure behind the sailors sat atop the hull of a recently decommissioned frigate with 98-years of naval service including the Barbary Coast pirates, the blockade of Mexico and, finally, as a receiving ship for U.S. Marines, brig prisoners in their charge, and naval dispensary medics.

The proud ship's name had been struck from the Navy list the year before this photograph was taken, and she was sold to a private investor with plans to use her as a restaurant for the Panama-Pacific Exposition. Although Exposition authorities granted the restaurant permit, the plan was abandoned. Pig iron and ballast were removed from her hold and valuable hard wood salvaged from her orlop deck knees. On the night of 20 September 1919, the vessel was burned at Hunter's Point mud flats to recover her metal fittings.
Submariners will note that the ship was still in service when the nation's first submarines were commissioned. Crews of submarines were not then called submariners, however. In the early days such men were known as divers.
Questions of the Week:
1 ) - What was the name of the frigate described?
2 ) - If another receiving ship eventually took the place of the 98-year-old vessel, what was the replacement vessel's name?
3) - Unfortunately, none of M.E.'s relatives appeared in the photograph. Did one of yours?
Answers will be provided or verified Monday.
Submarines are always silent and strange.



Thursday, February 26, 2009

Russian Admirals Become Three Stooges on Submarine

You may have recently seen the news Russian admirals suspected of weapons smuggling.

Russia's chief military prosecutor has been reported by the Interfax news agency as saying the investigation would focus on a group suspected of smuggling 30 anti-submarine missiles and 200 aerials bombs to the central Asian republic of Tajikistan.

Tajikistan, however, is a very landlocked country. What were the admirals really about, in that case? In their 1939 16-minute short, the Three Little Sew and Sews, the Stooges are tailors in the Navy who are ensnared by a femme fatale who asks them about submarines. The Stooges eventually board the spy sub, capture the spies and take control. Hillarious special effects ensue.

This does not bode well for the Russian admirals, does it? Will Putin or Ígor Digalo play Shemp?

It seems Tajikistan is a convenient way station to China, which owns the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN).

China has been a top customer for Russian weapons since the 1990s. But Russian authorities have also nabbed some military officers and civilians who they accuse of smuggling weapons and sensitive technologies into China. source .

The Stooges short linked above probably has the first ever photo of a submarine surfacing bow high out of the sea. While it was not a real sub, we have all seen the feat duplicated (almost, that is).

Submarines are always silent and strange.



Wednesday, February 25, 2009

La Grande Tromperie (the great deception): Bumper Subs

Anyone who has driven longer than 5 years has probably heard of insurance scams in which participants intentionally collide with other autos. Rarely in such staged accidents are either skid marks or reliable witnesses found. Perpetrators claim afterwards to have suffered seriously debilitating and difficult to medically verify neck or spinal cord injuries.

Now, consider the domain of strategic nuclear deterrents, specifically submarine carried nuclear-tipped missiles. If submarines are always silent and strange (Juan Caruso), ballistic missile subs are murky to the nth (nuclear) power.

While world navies have little economic incentive to commit insurance fraud, incentives to dupe potential enemies as well as propagandize the public have long existed among nuclear opponents and proponents alike. Whenever a domain is wrapped in secrecy, an environment conducive to deception exists. Unlike road automobile accidents, submerged submarine collisions seem never to involve skid marks or eye witnesses.

Consider the recent collision of HMS Vanguard and SNLE Le Triomphant, for instance. Should we expect one or both commanding officers to be relieved? No, and yes, respectively. Here's why: If either France or the UK were to relieve their captain unilaterally, it would appear an admission of guilt, or at least negligence. More likely, both captains would either be exonerated or mildly censored.

But even submarine accidents are subject to forensic investigations, you may protest. Correct, and the people who repair related hull damage are sworn to almost as much secrecy and prevented from snapping cell-phone pictures as the crews. FOIA does not apply either.

Nevertheless, we read news gems like this: Published Date: 20 February 2009 Submarines 'may have hit each other several times'. - THE British and French submarines that collided in the Atlantic Ocean earlier this month while carrying nuclear missiles may have hit each other several times, it emerged yesterday.

Very well, what else is in doubt? Monday, February 23, 2009 - HMS Vanguard crash inquiry is under way - The accident occurred at slow speed somewhere in the Atlantic at the beginning of this month. Both submarines, which are believed to have been carrying ready-to-launch nuclear weapons, were damaged. Now we know: One or both of the subs may have been transiting at slow speed, and one or both may not have carried some nuclear weapons.

There are advantages to not carrying nuclear weapons aboard, but letting the world believe you do. Credible deterrence is maintained at an economical cost, dangers of accidental detonation are minimized, crew training is still afforded, and loading, offloading and periodic maintenance of warheads is reduced. This is not only economical to the nth power, it is energy saving and green.

If a new world order were at hand, and it will not be while nuclear deterrents are still deployed, the cabal-in-charge would want total nuclear disarmanent for reliable control over the rest of the human race. Again, the collision of the two subs, which may have posed absolutely no risk of nuclear warhead detonations (because none were actually aboard), gives disarmament proponents a current event to hype their cause (anarchy?).

Perhaps you find this scenario farfetched. Well, consider these gems:

A senior Royal Navy source said the potential consequences of such a collision were unthinkable.
Wonder what he meant? - We are not told that or who is February 23, 2009 in the linked article.

U.S. Seeks Successor to Trident Submarine - Feb. 20, 2009 – Secretary of the Navy Donald C. Winter told reporters at a news conference: A wide variety of options are being considered for the Trident’s replacement, Winter said. However, the Navy secretary expressed his belief that the Trident system would be replaced by another undersea-going platform.
“I do fully expect that it is going to be a submarine,” Winter said of the Trident’s successor.

Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, echoed Winter’s belief that the Trident’s replacement “will be a submarine.” [ibid]

Curious, at the very least. As suggested earlier, the vessels may have participated in an ultrasecretive, mutually beneficial, nondeadly ruse of bumper subs. Rebuttal of our theory would require a convincing story. We will have no details from the boards of naval inquiry.

If the two COs are subsequently exonerated, however, an unavoidable appearance of mutual planning arises. These highly trusted men's careers could be sacrificed to prove otherwise, but dismissing the Bumper Sub theory as wild conjecture (it actually is) requires no dismissals. We conclude, therefore that a statement of mild censure will apply to both.
Now, we must all wait patiently to learn if we are correct.
Submarines are always silent and strange.



Friday, February 20, 2009

Now, Syria's Weapons of Mass Destruction

First, the troubling news ...
(17 February 2009 ) - UPDATED: London (19 th February 2009) - Syria Appears to be Developing its Chemical Weapons Capability IHS Jane’s examined satellite imagery

Jane’s Intelligence Review used satellite images from commercial sources gathered between 2005 and 2008 to examine activity at the chemical weapons facility identified as Al Safir in northwest Syria. Imagery from DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-1 satellite and GeoEye’s IKONOS satellite shows that the site contains not only a number of the defining features of a chemical weapons facility, but also that significant levels of construction have taken place at the facility’s production plant and adjacent missile base. This does not suggest that Syria is arming itself for an offensive, but it could have regional security implications given Syria’s tension with its neighbour, Israel.

Christian Le Mière, editor of Jane’s Intelligence Review, concluded:

“Further expansion of Al Safir is likely to antagonise Israel and highlight mutual mistrust, even as peace talks between the two neighbours progress intermittently. Although an Israeli air strike on the facility may not yet be likely, such developments only serve to underline and exacerbate regional tensions.”

Do you like consistency in your world? Here's some (hat tip Galrahn, from Thursday, February 19, 2009):

North Korea is operating a secret underground plant to make nuclear bombs from highly enriched uranium (HEU) despite denying that such a programme exists, a South Korean newspaper said Wednesday.

So, what's the good news? As it turns out, IHS Jane's, which provides critical information, decision-support tools, and related services to customers in the energy, defense, aerospace, construction, electronics, and automotive industries worldwide, is publicly traded (NYSE: IHS). At its close of $41.75 yesterday a share was down about $32 ( ~ 57%) from its 52-week high. No recommendation to buy is being made here.

As a matter of fact, M.E. might not even buy on further weakness, because IHS currently PAYS NO DIVIDEND. So, do you think IHS is going to chance being wrong about the possibility of chemical weapons in Syria when its reputation could be at stake? Neither does M.E.

The good news, then? The U.S. is not a socialist country. We can still choose our own doctors, fire them, if we want, and obtain health care consistent with urgency of need and prevailing medical practices (which are still world class). True, insurance costs are too high, and too many folks are uninsured, but jobs are still available.

Because the U.S. is a capitalist country, we set a very high bar for socialist countries. Here, for example, is another problem we do not have: Iceland's Minimum Salary Lower than Unemployment Benefits. The minimum monthly salary in socialist Iceland is lower than monthly unemployment benefits, approximately ISK 130,000 and 150,000 (USD 1,200 and 1,300), respectively. Iceland has a problem with the imbalance because it has declared itself bankrupt. Now it is in the position of having to borrow to pay some of its growing unemployed more than they would actually earn if they worked.
Socialist states would rejoice if their only source of true competition (U.S. capitalism) were eliminated (converted to the lowest common denominator - socialism). Lowered standards for socialist governments would ensue and poorer prospects and living conditions for subjects.
What would Europe's opinion of America be, if capitalism were abandoned in the U.S.? The U.S. would become an instant hasbeen, a pathetic beginner and a mere footnote to European history.



Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Out of Their Depth

Could It Happen to a U.S. Sub?, they ask.

To the authors' credit, it has, twice.

To the authors discredit, their rescue scenario may apply as seldom as 5% of the time.

Since naval submarines, like their surface counterparts, operate in or transit across very deep waters (rather than at the depths which cause hulls to implode) submarine rescue prospects are an overblown fiction, comforting perhaps for wives and mothers.

The pressure on a submarine's hull increases with depth, by 44.45 pounds per square inch for every 100 feet of additional depth in salt water. Submarine designers define safety margins (150% US, 175% UK, and 200% German) for key depth benchmarks: Test and Crush Depths, which are classified data. Sinking usually means to the bottom. There is more to say, but submariners and ex-submariners do not.



Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The Editor of Jane's Fighting Ships Weighs In

Yesterday M.E. had posited the web's only Container Sub theory to explain the collision of HMS Vanguard (S28) and SNLE Le Triomphant (S 616) earlier this month.

In naval submarine matters a cardinal rule is summarized by Juan Caruso's reminder:
Submarines are always silent and strange.
The reminder has accompanied most of our postings about submarine incidents, operations, and crews for most of the past 4 years. Still, people not directly exposed to the lengths to which the intelligence community will go to keep the business of submarines secret forget that the transparency associated with surface operations and crew cannot be reliably extrapolated to or interpolated within submarines.

Stealth: G = 6.673 x 10-11 N m2/kg2

Do not take M.E.'s word for this. As further evidence of the mystery at hand, consider the opinion of a retired British Royal Navy Commodore and editor of the $880 annual reference Jane's Fighting Ships), Stephen Saunders (source):

"This really shouldn't have happened at all. It's a very serious incident and I find it quite extraordinary."

If Commodore Saunders's spoken words are not convincing enough for you, consider what one of the most colorful submarine drivers had to say. In the documentary gem "Submarines: Sharks of Steel", the late VADM Robert 'Yogi' Kaufman conveys to a class of USNA midshipmen:

"I, for one, first would not talk about any encounters I have had that are classified, and [two] I would like to shoot anybody who would."

VADM Kaufman had once been the XO of the second nuclear submarine to which Vigilis was assigned.

Submarine technology is not to be trivialized. While we understand the circumstances under which Le Triomphant's collision was initially attributed to a container (submerged?), the effort to allay suspicions was nevertheless insulting to the HMS Vanguard. Think of how we might feel if space shuttles such as Challenger had been referred to as containers.

Not only are many of the most technologically advanced (and secretive) systems ever conceived employed on military subs, their names, capabilities and applications are simply not discussed openly, even among all the crew. While explanations may abound, cover stories appear as needed. So, would you really expect a better explanation of the damage to two submarines?

France may rejoin NATO in the near term, but the UK and France may also exit the SSBN game in a few years, helped in part by criticisms of their mutually arranged collision (i.e. the container theory). A still better theory of why the collision occurred involves the U.S. and is less damaging to the reputations of France and the UK. If a bit of supportive evidence materializes, you will read about the latter at Molten Eagle.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

HMS Vanguard, "Container" Sub Theory

Is a submarine a container? Yes and no. Any vessel is a container of sorts. Was the French Defense Minister kind in labeling HMS Vanguard probably a container? No, in naval (military) etiqutte container exceeds rust bucket in degree of insult:

Pendant son retour de patrouille, le SNLE Le Triomphant a heurté, en plongée, un objet immergé (probablement un conteneur). source translated: French defence minister reported that Triomphant (S 616) "collided with an immersed object (probably a container)"

Were the French and UK boomers really involved in a highly embarrassing collision at sea?
Well, M.E. was not there. This TIME CNN account does not obtain for obvious reasons: Did France's Secrecy Cause a Nuclear Submarine Collision? Decidedly not.

If France does not share strategic operating areas with NATO, why would the UK share same with France? They would not. So, how can the aricle conclude France's secrecy was at fault?

“Both the Vanguard and Le Triomphant are among the most silent submarines ever developed,” Bruno Tertrais, a senior researcher at the Paris-based Foundation for Strategic Research, said today in a telephone interview. “The Atlantic is a big place, but coincidences can happen.” ...The British military said the nuclear-powered submarines “came into contact at very low speeds.”
...“This is a nuclear nightmare of the highest order,” Kate Hudson, chairwoman of the London-based Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said in statement on the group’s Web Site. source

What really happened is some very bad press has been generated for extremely costly nuclear missile submarine forces of 2 EU countries, both currently debating whether or not to fund their respective programs into the future. The bad press would likely have been intended to help political opponents of military spending in France and the U.K. kill the funding.

Are there still other possibilities? Yes. If M.E. had to guess at this point, UK equipment failure would be high on the list.

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



Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The Nuclear Power Mystery You Probably Missed Until Now

YouTube below:

November 10th, 2008 - A micro nuclear reactor in your garden?
The plant was made by Los Alamos scientists, the American governmental labs that made the first atomic bomb. The miniature plants will be sealed and their parts are non-detachable and impossible to steal because they will be fixed with concrete and buried underground.

The American government offered the license to Hyperion, a company located in New Mexico. Hyperion executive director John Deal declared that he already received serious offers and will start production in five years time. Deal said he has more than 100 orders.

Think About It:
Global warming. Dependence on foreign oil. Infrastructure vulnerable to natural and manmade catastrophes. Undrinkable water, poverty, disease, social unrest.

These increasingly serious problems can only be solved by finding solutions to the ever-expanding energy crisis.

Invented at the famed Los Alamos National Laboratory, Hyperion small modular power reactors make all the benefits of safe, clean nuclear power available for remote locations. For both industrial and community applications, Hyperion offers reliable energy with no greenhouse gas emissions. Hyperion power is also cheaper than fossil fuels and, when you consider the cost of land and materials, watt to watt, Hyperion’s innovative energy technology is even more affordable than many developing 'alternative' energy technologies

How Much do a certain ex-VP and a bunch of corrupt politicians stand to benefit from crippling the U.S. electric utility infrastructure?