Monday, May 19, 2014

U.S. SSNs: Excellent S.W.O.T. Analysis


U.S. Navy submarines have been the world's preeminent submarine force since WWII.

S.W.O.T. Analysis is commonly the paramount planning vehicle used to evaluate the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats involved in major business ventures. Neglect at your civilization's peril the structured S.W.O.T. methodology's rigorous and advantageous application to military strategy. Critical parallels are intensely identical.  Submarines, even in the same class must not be identical, however.

Five Reasons Virginia-Class Subs Are The Face Of Future Warfare

The article linked in the above subheading should be elucidating only to average pedestrians without an insider's knowledge of the U.S.submarine force.  In fact, it is probably the most succinct and penetrating expose that I have ever read in the mainstream (well, in the business press, anyway). 

If the word “submarine” makes you think of undersea warfare and protecting surface ships, then you only have the Old Testament part of the story.  Modern attack subs do a whole lot more, like covertly collecting intelligence that can’t be obtained any other way, precisely striking distant land targets, delivering special operators ashore on secret missions, and the like.  The Navy has good reason not to talk about such missions in public, but because the Virginia program runs silent and runs deep in popular culture, most people don’t realize that it is more than just a very big and successful weapons program — it may be the face of future warfare.  
Four of the five "Reasons" Virginia class subs are expected to be "The Face of Future Warefare" have been advertised since before SSN-774 was launched almost eleven years ago.  In review, the four no-surprises are:
  • Stealth 
  • Endurance 
  • Versatility
  • Evolution
(read more about each reason in the link above)

Now, to be clear, the fifth reason should hardly be any real surprise to qualified U.S. submariners.  It is, in fact, just business as usual for our attack (SSN) submarine fleet:
(from July 15, 2011) "Question #4: Which of the USS Ohio (SSGN-726) class subs, if any, also has a bunker buster (MOP) capability? What, you thought all submarines of a class were identical and their capabilities accurately disclosed publicly by Wikipedia?" 
The Leverage Revealed
"When you combine the stealth, endurance and versatility of the Virginia class, the result is a genuinely unique combat system providing potentially decisive warfighting leverage against even the most capable adversaries.  It can deny the Chinese or Russian navies access to the sea, destroy targets deep in the Eurasian or African interiors without warning, and intercept the most sensitive communications of dictators and terrorists.  It can even potentially blunt nuclear attacks on the American homeland by destroying the sea-going strategic forces of other nations.  This is a form of leverage no other nation will be able to claim in future conflicts, due mainly to the fact that only America plans to field such a large and capable fleet of attack subs."
The Block V contract, scheduled to commence in 2019, will triple the capacity of each boat to attack targets ashore, further contributing to Virginia’s technological evolution. Leverage will proceed from the possible presence of any of the by then 40 stealth Virginia class boats, each of unique capabilities and unknown inabilities.


In other words, a potential enemy who even begins to imagine he may have detected a Virginia, will still not know for certain what capabilities he may actually have to confront.  Therefore, he must assume the worst case, and guess that he would even know what that might be!

Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Sad Underwater Truth Leaks Out Slowly


Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has been missing since 8 March 2014.  On 9 March 2014, Chinese news media received an open letter claiming to be from the leader of a Martyrs Brigade, a previously unknown group, claiming the loss of flight MH370 was retaliation for the Chinese government's response to the knife attacks at Kunming railway station a week before, and part of the separatist campaign in Xinjiang province's Uyghur regions.

Underwater locator beacons (ULBs)  are devices attached to aviation flight recorders such as MH370's cockpit voice and flight data recorders (black boxes) and are triggered by water immersion; Most ULBs emit 10 millisecond pulses once per second at the ultrasonic frequency of 37.5 kHz ± 1kHz.

The prime minister of Australia had been “very confident” that signals off Perth were coming from the black box. Sadly it now appears to have been a dead end that will take more weeks or months and millions of dollars to check out completely. – May 7, 2014.

Belated Truths

  • MH370: Black box 'pings' may actually have come from satellite tracking devices tagged to marine animals
Archaeologist William Meacham wrote: "For several decades, pingers with frequencies of 30 to 50kHz have been commonly used to track large, deep ocean animals."  source
  • The detected signal frequency (33.3khz) was NOT within the manufacturer's specs of 37.5 +/- 1 for the black box pinger.  [ibid]
  • As listed here, pingers are regularly used in real-time tracking of whales, sharks, sea turtles, tuna, seals, swordfish, etc., as well as for driving predatory fish away from fishing nets.  Moreover, scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution used a pinger with the same specifications as MH370’s in their study of baleen whalessource
Submarines are always silent and strange,

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Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Officer Quote of the Past Four Decades and a Real X File


M.E. is a submarine blog. The naval genre was not Vigilis's first choice, but his mentor, Joel Kennedy, a retired submarine officer and author of The Stupid Shall Be Punished soon persuaded him to place his political blogs elsewhere (mostly).  

The problem with submariners, as anyone who ever qualified may admit reluctantly, is that there is probably not a more opinionated audience on Earth than one comprised of U.S. submarine veterans.  

For good reasons (like mission success, vessel and crew survival, etc.) we were all taught to know the most important things to know about anything boat related.  Naturally, this universal attitude eventually becomes our personal outlook ---in other areas, as well.  Submariners like to be in control for habitual reasons, if nothing more. 

President Jimmy Carter was criticized during his single term (by members of his own political party - Democrats) of micromanaging.  As an ex-submariner and control freak, Carter was probably guilty as charged. He was the only peacetime president, for example, who gave the nation gasoline rationing with long waiting lines based on odd/even licence tag numbers.

Jeff Mellinger, the last enlisted ranked serviceman to be drafted, retired from active duty in 2011.  
During his1968 presidential election, Richard Nixon had campaigned on a promise to end the draft. By early 1973,  no further draft orders would be issued.  

There were thousands of hard-working volunteer draftees in the submarine service. They became valuable crewmen. Due o the universal draft, their backgrounds were varied and often stellar. Some had more education than junior officers. Two U.S. nuclear subs were lost during this period with all hands. Some of our shipmates died. The SUBSAFE program was an afterthought during our era. Most of its beneficiaries have served since. Today's volunteer submariners are of the same sturdy metal, knowing full well that in war or peace, we will lose another sub, perhaps with all hands, someday again. 

Attentive readers will note that the forty-year recruit quality comparison (in the following quotation) begins after the draft ended. An obvious question then, is just who's interim service has not been up to current quality? 

Quote Covering the last Four Decades 

“It’s not that we have a zero defect mentality, because we don’t, but it is true that the quality of military recruits right now is the highest it’s been in 40 years.” - Nathan Christensen, Navy public affairs officer for the Defense Department to the Kansas City Star. source: The Washington Times

A Real X File

Lake Monster Commission Needs More Time
The 13-person truth commission set up by the district council of Fljótsdalshérað municipality in East Iceland in August 2012 to evaluate whether the infamous lake monster Lagarfljótsormurinn (Lagarfljót worm) is the phenomenon filmed by Hjörtur Kjerúlf, farmer at Hrafnkelsstaðir, has requested more time to complete the task, reports.  May 14, 2014 source
 Five million people have already viewed Hjörtur’s 30-second YouTube video
Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Ghadir subsunk Updates

 Epitaph for the ten

May 6th THREAT (from Iran's naval chief)
TEHRAN, Iran - Iran will target American aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf should a war between the two countries ever break out, Adm. Ali Fadavi, naval chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guard warned Tuesday as the country completes work on a large-scale mock-up of a U.S. carrier.

May 6th RESPONSE (from U.S. Pentagon spokesman)

Col. Steve Warren said "imagery" of the "mock-up" within the last 30 days showed it was listing at about 30 degrees.
"We are wholly unconcerned about the Iranians mockup of an American ship," Warren said, joking with a reporter: "My guess is you could sink the mock-up in 50 seconds."
 Col. Warren wouldn't even go so far as to refer to the Iranian mock-up as a "vessel."

May 6th RESPONSE (from ISRAEL's Jerusalem-based military intelligence website)
nThe Iranians drew a tight veil of secrecy over the accident, curtailing the search for the estimated 10 crewmen to avoid drawing the notice of US or other intelligence agencies in the region.
"Chinese and Russian teams secretly enlisted to help search for the sunken mini-submarine, quickly abandoned it saying that none of the crew could have survived. It was up to Iran to decide, they said, whether to continue the search at the risk of exposing its plans for sinking US carriers in a war contingency. So long as the sub stayed on the bottom, its stealth technology would make it hard for Western intelligence to locate it."
Submarines are always silent and strange.

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Friday, May 02, 2014

Skimmer Captain Speaks Truth to Submariners

Do you think some U.S. submarine accidents may have been caused by pretending days are only 18 hours in length?  Back to 24-hour days. Duh!

Translated [my bold & underlined]
On board a submarine, "sleep is a luxury and stay[ing] awake is an honor." Yet respecting the circadian rhythm reduces crew fatigue, improving operational alertness and efficiency to reduce accidents.

More depth and background may be found in in A Sea Change in Standing Watch, (subscription required)
Proceedings Magazine - January 2013 Vol. 139/1/1,319 by Captain John Cordle, U.S. Navy, with Dr. Nita Shattuck.

Le Figaro (untranslated original text)
A bord d'un sous-marin, «dormir est un luxe et rester éveillé est un honneur», déplore le Capitaine John Cordle dans son article. Pourtant, respecter le rythme circadien pour diminuer l'état de fatigue de l'équipage permettrait d'améliorer leur vigilance et leur efficacité lors des opérations mais réduirait aussi les accidents. -  Capitaine John Cordle,  Le Figaro, 30/04/2014, Sous-marins : des conditions de vie extrêmes, . 

Should not a U.S. submarine force O-6 (or above) officer have made a similarly candid and published admission by now?  Admission of what, you may ask? Some of these accidents:

2001 USS Greeneville (SSN-772)
2002 USS Oklahoma City (SSN-723)
2003 USS Hartford (SSN-768) grounding (#1)
2005 USS San Francisco (SSN-711) with seamountain
2005 USS Philadelphia (SSN-690)
2007 USS Newport News (SSN-750)
2009 USS Hartford with USS New Orleans (#2)
2012 USS Montpelier (SSN-765)

Submarines are always silent and strange.


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