Friday, January 31, 2014

Latest News Deepens Mystery: Loss of Chinese AIP Sub in 2003

Some Experiment  (color emphasis mine)
January 31, 2014
In April 2003, the Chinese Navy decided to put a large group of its best submarine talent on the same boat as part of an experiment to synergize its naval elite. The result? Within hours of leaving port, the Type 035 Ming III class submarine sank with all hands lost. The Diplomat, January 31, 2014 China’s Deceptively Weak (and Dangerous) Military, Ian Easton

"The most startling thing about this episode is that [the government] issued a public report. The capacity of the submarine was for 57 men, including 10 officers. The exact cause of the explosion is unclear, but the submarine most likely did not sink."  - Evan Medeiros, China specialist, RAND Corporation.

Type-035AIP (updated Ming III class)

Naval chief was among victims of No 361 submarine disaster
07 May, 2003 - South China Morning Post
Reports confirm the boat was carrying senior staff in addition to regular crew A senior captain from China's Naval Academy in Qingdao and navy technicians were among the 70 people killed in the Ming Class submarine accident.  The Ming Class submarines carry a crew of 55.

 The Wen Wei Po newspaper quoted senior military sources as saying Senior Captain Cheng Fuming, vice-commander of a naval detachment, was the highest-ranking officer on board submarine No 361, along with observers from the nation's submarine academy.

The report did not fully explain what the 15 extra military personnel were doing on the submarine, other than stating that some of them were trainers from the academy. There has been speculation that they were observing an exercise or testing experimental equipment.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

Labels: , , , ,


Thursday, January 30, 2014

Being Fair to India's Navy

Molten Eagle's last post, Ominous Portents for "Infant" India with Nuclear Subs, sought to place India's male literacy rate in a proper context with its advanced nuclear submarine (naval) ambitions. It was pointed out, for example, that India's male literacy rate was below Swaziland's (82.6%).

As rightfully pointed out by an Australian reader, however, Ominous Portents might offend Indian people, particularly in comparison with naval accidents and deaths of other major navies.  "For example if one looked at submarine accidents worldwide since 2000 you would see highly literate Chinese and Russian subs being lost with all hands." 

Fairness and accuracy are always important objectives of Molten Eagle.  The U.S. Navy's own checkered submarine accident record could be a prime example for comparisons if not for the thoroughness of boards of inquiry and some highly sophisticated investigations like this one.

Readers may find the following postscript interesting and more to the point of India's inadequate literacy.

Opening remarks about Indian professionals in 'Ominous Portents' should salve India's national pride. Having worked with high-performance Indian people myself I can also attest they are among the world's most industrious people.

I do not think I am wrong in pointing out what I see as a looming shortcoming in their national defense ambitions for which many of us continue to hold great hopes.

It is the quality of their "get well" plans that matters most. Russia's major problem has not been know-how; until recently it has been $$$$. China's problem has been neither discipline nor $$$$, it has been inexperience.

Mistakes with nuclear vessels (propulsion and armaments) can be compounded ten-fold. India's navy is still learning to crawl, finding "heavy siltation", "unskilled labourers", and the "tide suddenly receded" at the root of  some of its recent naval accidents.

Readers here may find actual opinions of Indian naval officers helpful, too. What ails the Indian Navy's blue water aspirations?  Annotated excerpts follow [color emphasis mine]:

Consider this incident, not so much for its obvious humor, but for the absence of discilpine it evidences:
"Last week of December, 2013: A shell from the Coast Guard ship Sangram landed inside the premises of the Indian Navy in Mumbai when the ship was clearing its gun upon its return into the harbour."
Finally, quoting from the same link, there is an indigenous suggestion to underscore the importance of Indian literacy:
"It is high time that people realise the need to adhere to laid down procedures." - Vice Admiral (retd) RP Suthan, former Vice Chief of the Naval Staff

Submarines are always silent and strange.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Ominous Portents for "Infant" India with Nuclear Subs

Choose any learned profession and among its top tier of admired practitioners will be some from the subcontinent we know as India (population ~ 1.2 billion est. 2011).  This is quite a stellar achievement for a country whose male literacy rate is less than The Republic of Congo's (89.6%), Zambia's (86.8%), Botswana's (84.6%), Cambodia's (82.8%), and Swaziland's (82.6%), although India's male literacy is  barely above Egypt's (81.7%) and well above neighboring Pakistan's 70%.

When it comes to managing nuclear submarines could the educated admirals and elites be overreaching?  How well does India's Navy manage its non-nuclear or decommissioned naval assets? Read on...

January 10, 2008  MEIndian Submarine Collision opens Pandora's Box of Intrigue One of India's Kilo-based diesel submarines, INS Sindhughosh scraped under a large merchant ship in the Arabian Sea about 114 nautical miles from Mumbai on Monday. Fortunately, no casualties were reported...

August 15, 2013   Indian navy reels after submarine disaster in Mumbai
New Delhi (CNN) -- The Indian navy suffered its worst peacetime disaster this week when an explosion and fire sank a submarine with 18 sailors on board in a Mumbai dockyard. ...Navy officials, meanwhile, are trying to figure out what went wrong on the INS Sindhurakshak, a submarine that had only recently returned from an extensive refitting in Russia.  ..."The accident is all the more painful because the navy had recently achieved two major successes in the form of its first nuclear submarine, INS Arihant, and the aircraft carrier, INS Vikrant," he said.

August 22, 2013 - Inside China: China ridicules Indian navy
“Paper tiger” was the term used by the Communist Party-run newspaper, the Global Times, to describe the Indian navy, which has been locked in a fierce buildup race with the Chinese navy. The newspaper challenged India’s claim that the INS Vikrant is “indigenous,” calling it a “brand of 10,000 nations” because the ship is said to have used French blueprints, Russian air wings and U.S.-made engines. “[The submarine’s explosion] seems to have provided a footnote to India’s real naval prowess,” the Global Times reported Monday in language that clearly gloated about the mishap.

Jan 26, 2014 - New DelhiIndian Navy removes captains of two frontline ships INS Talwar, INS Betwa  The Indian Navy has removed the captains of two frontline warships INS Talwar and INS Betwa, Captain Gopal Suri and Captain Deepak Bisht respectively from their positions.  A newspaper report said, both the captains have been stripped of their positions for serious lapses that led to accidents under their command.

Jan 28, 2014  - THE HINDU   Chennai - Toll in Chennai submarine mishap climbs to two
The toll in the mishap at the decommissioned submarine INS Vagli docked at the port here rose to two on Tuesday as another person succumbed to anoxia, police said.  Bhavani Shankar (47), owner of the contracting firm who tried to rescue his employee, Mahendran (36) from a manhole-like structure inside INS Vagli succumbed to the adverse impact in absence of oxygen, police said. Mahendran (36), who had gone inside the submarine on Monday, fainted in absence of oxygen and later died.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


Answers to Submarine QOTW 25 JAN 2014

Background information and photos presented when the Questions of the Week (Q.O.T.W.) answered below were originally posted may be found here:  25 JAN 2014.


 1.  The Cross Hall Galley has a slogan printed on a wall; what is that slogan?  ANS: "Through these lines pass the best fed sailors in the Navy."
2.  According to a Culinary Specialist First Class there, from where are all its cooks drawn?  ANS:  Culinary Specialist First Class Jose Rosarivas, a New London native, said, "All our guys come from submarines, where they're used to cooking for an entire crew.
3.  About celebrity chef Robert Irvine:

  • a)  how long was his navy service?  ANS: about ten tears.
  • b)  in which navy did did Irvine serve?  ANS:  Brittain's Royal Navy
  • c)  what navy career had he wanted and why did the navy make him a cook?  ANS:  A cook. (see answer to 4(c) below.
4.  About the article's accompanying video ( the Norwich Bulletin reposts articles like this one daily so not only do such links expire daily the video may be removed at any time).  As of 12:34 PM 27 JAN the video is still found here.
  • a)  what made Chef Irvine uncomfortable?  ANS:  He was the only one eating (in the galley) on film.
  • b)  for what did Chef Irvine apologize?  ANS: Use of the word 'retarded'.  He never apologized for using the F-word twice.
  • c)  what did Chef Irvine say that unintentionally slights navy cooks? ANS: "I was a dummy, because in England you take maths and english tests to join the navy, 5 being the lowest 1 being the highest...  I got 5, 5  ...the recruiter said, you're in the navy, but you can only be a cook."
  • d)  your best guess as to who the lady in low-cut blouse and oversized gold dolphin cap is ? ANS: His wife, Gail Kim. (see 2008 photo below)
  5.    In what year was Groton's naval facility first saved from government closure? ANS: The Navy Yard was spared permanent closure in 1912 by an impassioned plea from local Congressman Edwin W. Higgins of Norwich, who was worried about the loss of Federal spending in the region.

 Submarines are always silent and strange.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , ,


Saturday, January 25, 2014

Submarine Questions of the Week: 25 JAN 2014 NOT 2013


This week's questions focus on a recent episode at Naval Submarine Base New London. Fortunately, the amateurish video seems to have received scant public or culinary attention beyond Sub Base and the Norwich Bulletin's several online articles. Consequently, the accompanying video seems to have generated little lasting harm.  This is fortunate because the impromptu video includes at least 4 obviously 'politically incorrect' statements by Chef Irvine.   
GROTON - Celebrity chef Robert Irvine, the Food Network star who gained fame for his ability to cook and serve large amounts of food quickly, spent some time today with another group of culinary experts who're used to preparing meals in high-pressure situations: Naval cooks.
Irvine, star of "Restaurant: Impossible," toured the Cross Hall Galley, the Naval Submarine Base's main cafeteria, a military kitchen that serves 2,000 meals a day to hungry sailors. source

 Questions of the Week:

1.  The Cross Hall Galley has a slogan printed on a wall; what is that slogan?
2.  According to a Culinary Specialist First Class there, from where are all its cooks drawn?  
3.  About celebrity chef Robert Irvine:
  • a)  how long was his navy service?
  • b)  in which navy did did Irvine serve?  
  • c)  what navy career had he wanted and why did the navy make him a cook?  
4.  About the article's accompanying video ( the Norwich Bulletin reposts articles like this one daily so not only do such links expire daily the video may be removed at any time).  As of 12:34 PM 27 JAN the video was still found here.
  • a)  what made Chef Irvine uncomfortable?
  • b)  for what did Chef Irvine apologize?
  • c)  what did Chef Irvine say that unintentionally slights navy cooks?
  • d)  your best guess as to who the lady in low-cut blouse and oversized gold dolphin cap is (photo below)?

5.  In what year was Groton's naval facility first saved from government closure?

Answers:  by Tuesday, 28 JAN 2013.

Submarines are always silent and strange.

Labels: , , , , ,


Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Personal Experience: SUBSCREEN

Some Background
Psychological fitness screening of  volunteers for U.S. submarine duty has been a significant topic at Molten Eagle since 2006.  Later psychological issues queried whether NASA had adequately screened its female astronauts before a very major embarassment with regard to Capt. Lisa Nowak (2007).  Of course, implications of that question also bore directly upon the political decision to admit women into submarine crews. A three-part series in 2009 began with A Bloody Nose, Sexual Harassment and a Deserter (after only 110 days) - Part 1,  Part 2, and Part 3.

An earlier series (2008) had been based on psychological officers actually on submarines - Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Then, ten days ago, a new book, The Killing Depths, came to Molten Eagle's attention.  A plot review on Evilcyclist's Blog rekindled Molten Eagle's question of pyschological screening adequacy for enlisted sub crews. In response, Vigilis read The Killing Depths without finding a concrete answer. However, the psychopathic killer in Depths was highly skilled in both submarining and disguising his true nature. 

A Qualified Submariner's Personal Experience
In my first days at Groton before Submarine School (BESS), during the huge nuclear sub buildup of the Cold War, I would meet many other volunteers who would become casual acquaintances, liberty pals, future friends, or, mostly, remained total strangers. Often such meetings would occur in various waiting lines for medical/dental testing or meals.

These hundreds of fellow volunteers (mostly draftees) seemed to have little in common beyond individual accomplishments of  significant work experience and/or post high school education.  All seemed physically fit and their general demeanor was cheerful, courteous, and honorable, with one unmistakable exception. 

He was shorter in stature, with a personality that made nearly everyone around him very uncomfortable.  He was needlessly loud, quick-tempered, inordinately critical, and he displayed open hostility and inappropriate aggression toward authority. Some of us felt his personality disorder might have been due to a Napoleonic complex , but how would we really know?

Personally, I just hoped he would never be assigned to the same sub as me...  after all, how far could someone like him be trusted?  Weeks later, when day-long classes had barely begun, cuts were made without notice. Two guys from my class, people who had made little lasting impressions, simply disappeared. Not only were they missing from future school activities, we would never see them again. We knew they would become skimmers.

However many people were cut the result was not obvious in our lunch lines. And, although we would never discuss it among ourselves, the little misfit was also gone.

At that point, my confidence and pride in the U.S. Submarine Force received an immense boost for its wisdom and competence.  Of course, there would later be Subscreen, too.  - Vigilis

Submarines are always silent and strange. 

Labels: , , , , , ,


Monday, January 20, 2014

Next Blockbuster Submarine Movie: "THE KILLING DEPTHS"

Vigilis promised to review Martin Roy Hill's  submarine novel THE KILLING DEPTHS after reading the thriller. After reading Hill's pageturner, however, he realized the  best way to review it without spoiling the thrills and action was by simple comparison with another outstanding submarine novel, the late Tom Clancy's The Hunt for Red October:

What's to Like

  • Action in KILLING DEPTHS, which includes an active NCIS homicide investigation on the U.S. sub, differs entirely from Red October. Interesting updates and enhancements (since 1984) also include:
  • female SSN crewmembers
  • female accomodation in space commonly occupied by 4 of 12 VLTs;  (most boats in service as of 2011 have a 12-tube VLS) Hmmm!
  • slot buoy comms
  • CAPTOR (encapsulated torpedoes) intelligent, deep-water, anti-submarine mines anchored to the ocean floor. 
  • Helo transport of key civilian character to USS Encinitas was fairly humorous.
  • plot keeps reader guessing for a long time.
  • CO is a black.
  • Engineering officer is a woman.

What's not to Like 

  • Use of single ping sonar (common element of both novels) although barely more credible in DEPTHS as  El-Wazir, the enemy sub captain in THE KILLING DEPTHS,  uses his ping from desperation in a deadly kill or be killed action.
  • Editing is generally appropriate, but in some rare instances appears to have relied more on computerized text-editng than human skill. Annoying instances were "Condition Dog Zebra", which has an urban definition unlike the navy's Condition "ZEBRA", oddly scattered use of present tense verbs instead of appending an "ed", and a single use of "fairweather" that should have been "fairwater". [Red October was published by the Naval Institute Press. Unlike Clancy, Hill did not sell his to USNI for $5,000.]
  • Rather than answering the political question of how psychological screening of U.S. submarine volunteers could have deteriorated to the point of allowing a psychopath on board, the author simply asks the same question I had before reading the book. -Vigilis
Submarines are always silent and strange.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,