Ravi Shankar‪ – "Raga Ahir Bhairav"‬

RIP. It would be hard to overstate Ravi Shankar's influence on introducing world music… to the world. He was an excellent musician, a true master, and also a good composer. I'm fond of his work with Phillip Glass, he did the music for early films of the great Indian filmmaker, Satyajit Ray, and Beatles fans are well aware of Shankar's influence on George Harrison. Still, for all the fusion

How to Read for Writers, by Vonnegut

A new book is out of Kurt Vonnegut's letters, and Slate has been running some selections. His advice to a friend slotted to teach at the Iowa Writers' Workshop is interesting (and gossipy), but I really enjoyed his term paper assignment. Apparently, Vonnegut "wrote his course assignments in the form of letters, as a way of speaking personally to each member of the class."

November 30, 1965

Dave Brubeck Quartet – "Blue Rondo à la Turk"

RIP. I have several Brubeck albums, and the man had a great run, performing 'til he was 88. This tune is one of his most famous, and also one of his best.

Why We Can't Have Nice Things

Political battles do not occur in a vacuum, and the current scrum features several highly familiar elements. If you've been following the "austerity bomb" / "austerity crisis" news (better terms than "the fiscal cliff"), one of many striking features is the colossal bad faith of the Republicans. Steve Benen devised the nifty chart shown above breaking down how lopsided the current "deal" is.

The Post-Election "What Republicans Should Do" Rant

Post-election analyses about what the Republican Party should change have been pretty popular recently, and it's been fun to see sharp bloggers poke holes in the most blind, hubristic or otherwise ridiculous "advice." Personally, while I'm happy to work with decent people who self-identify as conservative or Republican, that type of person is faaaar from the norm in the conservative base or

Bad Crippie!

From CNN:
A former U.S. Navy submarine warfare specialist has been arrested and charged with trying to give classified information about how to track U.S. submarines to people he thought were representatives of the Russian Federation - but who were actually FBI undercover agents, according to federal authorities.
Robert Patrick Hoffman II of Virginia Beach, Virginia, was arrested Thursday morning on an attempted espionage charge...
...According to the indictment, on October 21 Hoffman tried to hand over national defense information to people he thought were representatives of the Russian government, including classified information "that revealed and pertained to methods to track U.S. submarines, including the technology and procedures required."...
...Hoffman, 39, is described as a 20-year veteran of the U.S. Navy who was trained in cryptology and reached the rank of petty officer first class. He retired from active duty in November 2011. According to his biography released by the military, he served as a submarine warfare specialist.
A picture of the goofball, identifying him as a former CT, along with a copy of the indictment is here.

A lot of times in treason cases like this, the prosecutors end up having to bargain away the death penalty in order to get the traitor's help in determining what he had previously given to the foreign country. In this case, since there's no evidence so far that the doofus was ever successful in passing along his information, prosecutors are under no such impediment. Also, since the guy's retired, he's still subject to the UCMJ. I say just run the case through a court martial and fast-track his appeals so we can carry out the sentence expeditiously -- despite the CNN article saying the maximum penalty is life, I'm sure the military could find a UCMJ article (like Article 106a) that carries the death penalty. Does the military still use firing squads?

Submarine Officers Earn Their Dolphins!

I was excited to see the Navy website front-page an article about submarine officers earning their fish; no matter why they decided to do a story about it now, it's good to see young Sailors becoming Submariners get some positive press. Excerpt:
Three Sailors assigned to USS Maine (SSBN 741) and USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) became the first female unrestricted line officers to qualify in submarines Dec. 5.
Lt. j.g. Marquette Leveque, a native of Fort Collins, Colo., assigned to the Gold Crew of Wyoming, and Lt. j.g. Amber Cowan and Lt. j.g. Jennifer Noonan of Maine's Blue Crew received their submarine "dolphins" during separate ceremonies at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., and Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash.
In order to receive their dolphins, Leveque, Cowan and Noonan were required to qualify as Officer of the Deck and Engineering Officer of the Watch, perform damage control functions, and demonstrate satisfactory qualities of leadership.
Cowan, a native of Colorado Springs, Colo., and Noonan, who hails from Boston, joined two other Blue Crew officers - Lt. j.g. James Barclay and Lt. j.g. John Schaeffer - in receiving their dolphins. Cowan was pinned by her husband, Naval Flight Officer Lt. Adam Cowan. Noonan chose a former Maine shipmate and mentor, Lt. Jason Brethauer, to pin her dolphins. Schaeffer decided to have Lt. Joe Westfall, a current shipmate from the Blue Crew, conduct his pinning. The Commanding officer of Maine's Blue Crew, Cmdr. William Johnson, pinned Barclay.
They even included a picture of the pinning:

Because us old crusty retired types like nothing better than to tell new Submariners how it was back in the day, here's some unsolicited advice from one of your new brothers:

1) The sea is a cruel mistress (or swain, as the case may be), who doesn't care if you went to the White House as a non-qual; all she cares about is that you respect her.

2) The rules of Submarining are written in blood. By earning your fish, you've proven that you have achieved the absolute minimum level of competence required to be trusted with the boat. There are still lots of rules for you to learn; don't ever think you know everything there is to know about how to safely and effectively operate a submarine. Violations of the rules can kill you -- or, even worse, those who work with you and trust you. Don't ever abuse the trust your Captain has shown by signing his name on your qual card.

3) IMHO, the most effective Submariners are those who know, deep down, that they really are the best at what they do. Sure, you should show humility and good humor around your shipmates (lest no one want to work with you), but, in your most base essence, you should believe that you really are the best at what you do. And you have to be able to back it up.

4) Always respect the boat and the crew. While the reactor may be the submarine's heart and the CO the boat's brain, the soul of a ship is made up of the blood, sweat, and tears of every man and woman who serves or has served on her. Never forget that your boat is alive, and if you love her, she may love you back.

5) Congratulations and welcome to the Brother- and Sisterhood of the 'Phin. You've worked hard, and are now a member of one of the most elite groups of warriors in the world. In time, you may find you have more in common with Submariners from other countries than you do with some American civilians. Enjoy your accomplishment. Watch a movie every now and again. And get hot -- you're dink on Command Quals.

Origin of Political Correctness

How the Left creates and maintains the Narrative, from the Marxist Frankfurt School to the takeover of academia and the development of Critical Theory, all in a handy, engaging discussion from Bill Whittle:

Link to YouTube

Read all about the hideous Frankfurt School here. Note it became affiliated with Columbia University in 1935, and the infection of higher education in the US was complete. Here is just one example of how art, music, and all "studies" programs at universities have been corrupted or created with malice aforethought by these Marxist thinkers:
Philosophy of modern music Adorno, a trained musician, wrote The Philosophy of Modern Music (1949), in which he, in essence, polemicizes against beauty itself ― because it has become part of the ideology of advanced capitalist society and the false consciousness that contributes to social domination. It hence contributes to the present sustainability of capitalism by rendering it "aesthetically pleasing" and "agreeable". Only avant-garde art and music may preserve the truth by capturing the reality of human suffering. Hence: "[...]Musical language is polarized according to its extreme; towards gestures of shock resembling bodily convulsions on the one hand, and on the other towards a crystalline standstill of a human being whom anxiety causes to freeze in her tracks [...] Modern music sees absolute oblivion as its goal. It is the surviving message of despair from the shipwrecked." This view of modern art as producing truth only through the negation of traditional aesthetic form and traditional norms of beauty because they have become ideological is characteristic of Adorno and of the Frankfurt School generally.
The higher education bubble can't burst soon enough!

Things Retired Submariners Do With Their Kids

As we do most years, my family and I set up a gaudy, neighborhood-property-value-destroying Christmas display at our house:

This year I went with the rare-yet-tasteless "triple lawn Santa" theme, and topped it off with intentionally-unsynchronized lights sets along the roof over the garage. Someone once asked me if there was any limit to how inartful I would sink; I decided that while I would go with the "gutted reindeer hanging from a tree" display if my wife would let me, I would draw the line at Santa on a cross.

Meanwhile, over in Britain, a retired submarine CO's E-mail to his kids expressing his disappointment with them has gone viral. Personally, I'm very proud of my children -- my daughter with a great job, one son who's graduating from college next month, and another who returns from a two year mission for our Church next week -- and I couldn't personally imagine going off on my kids the way Crews did, I would imagine there are people who are disappointed with their family.

If given a choice between spending the holidays with your entire extended family or spending them deployed on the boat, which would you choose?

Dido – "Thank You"

A repeat, because it works so well for Thanksgiving. (Plus, I'm currently reading The Aeneid.)

Meditation, Compassion and PTSD

Yesterday, NPR ran a good (and moving) story on the use of meditation to help veterans cope with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which afflicts roughly one in four veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. (Given a less cheery recent post on PTSD, and the spirit of the day, this seemed especially appropriate.)

The Vietnam vets talk first. Some say they'd never even heard of PTSD

USS Delaware Chosen For Submarine Name

From the DoD today:
Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today that the next Virginia-class attack submarine will be named the USS Delaware. Dr. Jill Biden will sponsor the USS Delaware. A longtime Delaware educator and military mom, Dr. Biden started Joining Forces with First Lady Michelle Obama to encourage all Americans to recognize, honor and support military families.
Mabus named the future USS Delaware in honor of the first state in the Union. The name honors the great contributions and support Delaware has given the military through the years and pays homage to the state’s more than two centuries of naval heritage.
“I chose the name Delaware to honor the long-standing relationship between the Navy and our nation’s first state,” said Mabus. “It has been too long since there has been a USS Delaware in the fleet and this submarine will remind future deployed service members and state residents of their strong ties and many shared values for decades to come.”
Although not mentioned in the article, I assume this name will be attached to SSN 791, the last Block III boat, scheduled for commissioning sometime around 2018.

Drinking On Base

Back in the day, we'd hold "JO Retention Team" meetings at The Dive on SUBASE Groton. I wonder if boats are still doing those, and if they will be able to have them in the future following the upcoming review of on-base drinking ordered by the base commander (one of my old COs) in response to an incident reported in The Day:
Capt. Marc W. Denno, the base commander, said the incident did not set a good example for junior sailors.
"That's probably why Command Master Chief Vatter decided it was in the best interest of everyone that he retire," he said. "We dealt with this quickly, at the appropriate level, and the effect was minimized."
According to a heavily redacted copy of the investigation, obtained by The Day through the Freedom of Information Act, Vatter drank seven or eight beers at a poker night May 18 at the Chief Petty Officers Club on the base. He and his wife then took a cab to the Wicked Pissa, the Gales Ferry bar formerly known as Legends Rock Bar.
While the names in the report were blanked out, witnesses told investigators that Vatter and his wife got into an argument and the couple began yelling and swearing at each other.
I've always thought it's better to drink on base than off if we're looking to control alcohol-related incidents -- keep the more inexperienced drinkers within walking distance of their racks. What do you think?

School of Seven Bells – "Night"

The band solicited fan videos for this song, and this one was the winner. More information here.

Food Banks – November 2012

With Thanksgiving fast approaching, this is a good time for those with the means to donate to their local food banks, or for those in need to get assistance. In my area, the Los Angeles food banks make a little go a long way. (A few years back, I started making an annual donation about this time of year.) The Feeding America site has a useful national food bank locator. Best wishes to all

Armistice Day 11/11/12

(Click on the comic strip for a larger view.)

In 1959, Pogo creator Walt Kelly wrote:The eleventh day of the eleventh month has always seemed to me to be special. Even if the reason for it fell apart as the years went on, it was a symbol of something close to the high part of the heart. Perhaps a life that stretches through two or three wars takes its first war rather seriously, but I still

Only the Faithless Suffer

In past years for Armistice Day, we've looked at how denying loss can tragically lead to more loss. We've examined how eagerly a blind rage can be embraced. This year, I wanted to look at willful blindness. (It turns out that the Beltway establishment and the Religious Right are quite similar in that regard.)

The Morality of Drone Strikes

First, let's consider Joe Klein and his remarks in

First World War Poetry (11/11/12)

The Guardian has a video of Sean Bean and Gemma Arterton reciting Wilfred Owen poems, with Sophie Okonedo doing the honors for Rupert Brooke. Head over for all four poems; here's one:

In previous years, we've looked at the war poetry of Wilfred Owen and Siegfried Sassoon, and contrasting visions in "The Poetry of War." Rupert Brooke makes an appearance in "Demonizing the Enemy," as does Owen

Some News Items

Here are some items of interest:

1) Submarine arsonist Casey Fury pled guilty and faces a recommended 15 to 19 year sentence. Although I would have loved to see them go for life, I'm really hoping they put him on the hook for the $450 million in damage after he gets out, such that the maximum allowed portion of his post-prison income goes to restitution.

2) A Russian Sierra II attack submarine (or "Seirra 2", according to ABC) has been detected off the East Coast, and is now heading home. It's a good sign of US-Russian cooperation when they send their boats to us for our submarines to get their training in. Thanks, Vlad! I'm just hoping that boats returning from deployment don't get delayed from coming home to join in the fun.

3) USS Boise (SSN 764), named after the capital of Idaho, celebrated the 20th anniversary of her commissioning this week, and returned from deployment yesterday, the day after the anniversary. I note with interest that she deployed on May 2nd, and returned from deployment on November 8th. I guess LANTFLT is adding 6 days to normal deployments nowadays. Here's an article with a video, and a picture:

4) The Iranians fired, unsuccessfully, on a U.S. drone over the Arabian Gulf. Having spent a deployment on a carrier in the Gulf and becoming very familiar with the Iranian claims of territorial waters vs. what we recognize (the Iranians claim some "straight baseline" water more than 12 miles from their shore that we correctly state is not in accordance with international law), I have no doubt that 1) our drone was over international waters as we recognize them, and 2) the  drone was over waters the Iranians wrongly claim. When we were seizing Iraqi tankers back in 2000, we'd board them in those "grey" area waters, since the Iranians gave the tanker skippers charts showing how they could stay in Iranian waters, and they included the portions that we didn't recognize. I'm glad to see we're continuing to defend the international standard in determining territorial water, and hope we don't back down from the mullahs.

5) On a personal note, I just remembered I posted this right after the election 4 years ago. Now cancer-free for 44 months. Thanks to all the readers who supported me back in the day and throughout the process.

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings – "This Land Is Your Land"

Sharon Jones & the Dap-Kings do Woody Guthrie? Just about the best pick possible for this week. (We ran with some other classics back in 2008.)


President Barack Obama fist-bumps custodian Lawrence Lipscomb in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building following the opening session of the White House Forum on Jobs and Economic Growth. December 3, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza).

Lance Mannion posted this one over at his place. It's from this gallery. It's an old photo, but appropriate for the occasion. A little

Fighting Voter Suppression

Without fail, one of the major parties has worked to expand the vote and the other has worked to suppress it. It's an important difference, especially because the voter suppression efforts of conservatives/Republicans have been in such glaring bad faith. I've seen multiple blogs post the infamous Paul Weyrich video from 1980 I linked earlier:

The New York Times delivers a scathing editorial

Voting 2012 (CA Ballot Measures and More)

The Election Protection site has a wealth of information on voting rights. Unfortunately, as usual, conservatives are trying to suppress the vote, and some Republican governors, legislatures and secretaries of state are really outdoing themselves – the *#&%@! scumbags. If you're challenged, or witness a problem, you can call 1-866-OUR-VOTE (or use their smartphone app if you've downloaded it).

Voting and Political Activism

This being a presidential election year, it's time for the left-leaning blogosphere to have another fierce debate over whether to support Obama and the Democrats or vote for a third party. Self-described liberals, progressives, Democrats, independents, Greens, libertarians and others have weighed in (including actual socialists, not the people denounced as such on Fox News). Most blog readers

Changes At The Top

Today, ADM Kirkland Donald was relieved by ADM John Richardson as the head of Naval Reactors. Also there's an election this upcoming Tuesday between the current Commander-in-Chief and an opponent who wants to significantly increase defense spending, including increasing submarine procurement to 3 Virginia-class boats a year.


Update 1220 04 November: For those who don't want to discuss national or NR politics, here are a couple of links you might like: A Cold War story about a Northern Run by HMS Conqueror (S 48), and both the official Navy story and an NBC News story about the CO and XO, along with the CHENG and OPS, of USS Vandegrift (FFG 48) getting relieved in response to a drunken port call to Vladivostok a few months ago. ("Party on, Ivan!" "Party on, Joseph!") I just like any story about the Eng getting to have fun on a port visit.

Bob Dylan – "Not Dark Yet"

I saw Bob Dylan last week at the Hollywood Bowl. Mark Knopfler, who opened, delivered a fantastic, celtic-flavored set (I'll have to pick up his latest album). Dylan's voice, alas, was pretty much shot. It was never conventionally pretty, but it could quite expressive. Some of the arrangements were great, though, including a pretty one of "Desolation Row." (The set list was mostly old

PCU Minnesota (SSN 783) Christening On Saturday

PCU Minnesota (SSN 783) will be christened on Saturday at Newport News by Mrs. Ellen Roughead,a native Minnesotan, and wife of the former CNO Gary Roughead. Word on the street is that the next day the boat will be rolled to the drydock and then floated a few days after that -- unless the incoming SNOWMAGEDDONPOLYNOREASTER ("You're all gonna die!!1!!1!(3-2)!!1!" -- The Media) interferes with those plans. Alpha and Bravo trials are tentatively scheduled for April and commissioning will take place early August of 2013, most likely in Norfolk.

The boat's Commissioning Committee has an active website here. You should be able to watch the christening ceremony here at 1000 EDT on 27 October; they should keep it in the archives for a while if you miss the live showing. In the meantime, please enjoy the boat's cool logo:

Have you ever done an official ceremony in crappy weather?

Russian Boomer Delayed Again

Remember back in 2006 when the Russian CNO said their first Borey-class SSBN, Yurii Dolgorukii, would be joining the fleet "in the very near future"? Or in 2011, when they said the boat would be put into service with the Pacific Fleet that year? Well, it turns out the Russians are continuing to have technical issues, and they're now claiming they'll get the commissioning done next year. I won't hold my breath.

Still, it's sad that all the NUCs waiting to be awarded to American PacFleet SSNs when the Dolgorukii finally does get out on patrol will be delayed yet again.

Should we LOL @ n00bs, or still be scared of the Russians for some reason?

A Reader Shares His Memories

A reader sends in his memories of serving on submarines:

“The Stupid Shall Be Punished!” Yeah I heard that from MMCM/SS Tommy Connell back when he was the Unfiltered Camel Smoking, 2-3 pack a watch COB on the 617B out of Holy Loch in the early 80’s, he was my first COB and the man did make an impression. During off crew he was also famous for saying during the weekly all hands “One if you will die this off-crew.” And he was right, someone either died in an accident or came damn near close to it but lived. Interesting times which seemed to happen so long ago but also seems like yesterday.
Every once in a while I catch a whiff of boat or what reminds me of the boat smell, a few years ago I found my old A2 jacket I wore on the boat, yeah the green one and the one I stole and kept for my personal use. It was brand new and the guy responsible for the inventory on the boat was my running mate so we all know how that works. Anyway I pulled it out of the box and it still had that smell. Not as strong as it used to be but that smell alone just brought back a flood of memories both good and bad.
I was Boomer Sailor more specifically a SWS Nav ET a SINS Tech and I was never going to a fast attack unless I got another NEC. In Sub School our entire class was SWS, everything we were taught was boomer-centric, all the instructors were SWS and we were either going to be Nav ET’s, FTB’s or MT’s, we would find out that after the Sub School Survivors all went to Dam Neck together for A school. But we were segregated for a reason, every day we were reminded what we volunteered for…Submarines and Nuclear Weapons. We were the ones who were going to be trained to launch those missiles no matter what. Think about it…. who in there right thinking mind would give 19 and 20 year olds the knowledge and skills necessary to destroy the world? Pretty nuts if one thinks about it but it was and still is necessary.
SWS ‘A’ school was nothing but math and electronics for 26 weeks and LOTS of drinking, partying and being reminded daily that we were going to be nuking the world! It was also drilled into our heads we were the cream of the crop, better then the nukes, which IMHO still believe to this day. That is when people started dropping out of the SWS program out of my original A Schools class we lost 50% most were sent back to redo a week or 2 a fair number were sent to easier A schools after failing to many weeks but unless they were a total fuck up they stayed in the submarine community.
‘C’ School was across the street from ‘A’ School at Dam Neck, only lost 2 out of a class of 10 and the party did not stop either. The guys I went to sub school with were all in C school classes together but after about 16 weeks of C school guys started heading off to the fleet. Being a SINS Tech my C school was the longest out of all the SWS classes, when I left Dam Neck only the guys in my class were left from my Sub School days that was by now over a year later.
I end up on the USS Alexander Hamilton, SSBN 617, Blue Grew. The COB was MMCM/SS Tommy Connell, not the biggest fan of NAV ETs and us SWS types but he did not pick on us, he pretty much left us alone as did most of the crew. A couple guys I was in Sub School and A school with were already on the boat too. We were special, we did not stand topside or below decks watches, we sat on our ass in the NavCenter in port. Most times actually working but still lots of time sitting on our ass. Well let me take that back we did sometimes stand top side and below decks but it was not often when it happened and it usually was only for a day or 2 at most. As for special, yes we were, all our guidance for the SWS Weapons System came from SSPO, they trumped all, even SEA08, Naval Reactors. The boat revolved around the Weapons Systems and the Nukes hated us for it too. They had to keep the NavCenter nice and cold, they had to keep the power on and chilled water flowing, their drills could not disturb the SWS Weapons System else they got their asses reamed. So I can understand the fair about of resentment some have for us SWS types, I almost think of us as our own little sub community of the larger submarine community.
I don’t have any good sea stories of Tommy Lee, I do know he was one of the best people I ever served with but I did not realize it at the time. He did sign off on the DC portion of my Qual Card, most were too terrified to have him do it too and yes it took a few hours to get the signature Still to this day I can name the location of every piece of DC gear on the boat. Even today I remember Tommy Lee on his hands and knees during field day scraping gunk out of the corners on the deck. The man never asked anyone to do something he would not do himself; he earned more respect for doing that then anything else he did. To this day that is how I operate with people who work for/with me.
Thinking back over the years Tommy Lee Connell made one of the biggest impressions upon me….” The Stupid Shall Be Punished” is a truism and applies to everything one does. Another thing he used to say was that ‘the people you served with on the boats are the best people you will ever work with in your life.’ That is also true. From time to time I get to work with people who wear dolphins some I know some I do not but without exception they are always the best people to work with. Another truism I learned in life was told to me by a Retired RMCS/SS, Fast Boat Sailor…”You Wear Dolphins, You can do Anything!” and that is also 100% true.

Civil Both-Side Bipartisans

I've got more in-depth pieces on some of the following material in development (and these are familiar themes here), but the election's fast approaching, so here's a roundup of the shorter versions.

Honesty over Civility, Accuracy over Politeness

If you caught the first three debates (the first two presidential and the sole vice presidential), you may be aware of the participants stretching the

USS Montpelier Collision

The Navy got an unwanted present on its 237th birthday when USS Montpelier (SSN 765) and USS San Jacinto (CG 56) collided off the East Coast today:
NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- There were no injuries as a U.S. Navy submarine and an Aegis cruiser collided off the coast of the Eastern United States earlier this afternoon.
The collision between USS Montpelier (SSN 765) and USS San Jacinto (CG 56) occurred at approximately 3:30 p.m. Eastern Daylight time.
No personnel aboard either vessel were injured.
Overall damage to both ships is being evaluated. The propulsion plant of the submarine was unaffected by this collision. Both ships are currently operating under their own power.
The incident is currently under investigation.
Both the submarine and the ship were conducting routine training at the time of the accident.
Montpelier returned from deployment in February, while San Jacinto is assigned to Carrier Strike Group TEN with USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75), which is in a deployment workup cycle. Here's some more information from the ABC News website:
The Navy official says that at approximately 3:30 p.m. the bridge watch aboard the San Jacinto saw the submarine Montpelier rise to periscope depth about 100 to 200 yards ahead of them. The bridge ordered an “all back,” but still collided with the sub.
According to the official, the initial assessment of damage is that there was a complete depressurization of the sonar dome aboard the San Jacinto. Located below the water line of surface warships, sonar domes provide the bulbous shape to the bows of warships.
After the collision the official said the submarine surfaced and communications were established between all the ships on the scene.
Will update as more information becomes available. Staying at PD...

Update 2130 14 Oct: The Navy reports that both ships are pierside and being evaluated. In this picture of Montpelier, it appears that the upper section of her rudder is missing.

I've always thought that there was no more dangerous peacetime evolution (other than some ORSE prep drill sets) than fleet ASW exercises away from an instrumented range. During Topeka's 1992 deployment, we did an opposed UNREP against the Ranger Battle Group. After one simulated attack, we moved ahead of the group to get in position for a follow-up green-flaring. As we were coming to PD with the CO ("He Who Must Not Be Named") on the 'scope, the Weps watching the ASVDU, and me on Pri-MATE, the dots were stacking in such a way that it looked like a contact was coming closer and closer, and we started getting near-field effect on the sonar displays. The WEPS recommended we abort the PD trip, and the CO ordered emergency deep. When the contact (probably USS Rentz) passed astern and came back on the other side, the CPA calculated out to about 50 yards.

In this case, we don't know if the cruiser was operating a quieting system (some have questioned if discussion of such a hypothetical system skirts the bounds of confidentiality, but we'll assume the commenters are referring to the possibility of a system such as the one described in this open-source Wikipedia article), who was on the 'scope, and what the sea state was. I'm used to the CO or Command Duty Officer (when stationed) always being on the 'scope during a Battle Stations scenario for ASWEXs, but Montpelier might not have that requirement. Another thing to consider is that Montpelier, having recently returned from deployment, is probably on one of her first FLEETEX support missions after likely losing a lot of key players from the deployment to transfer, and is training up new Fire Control and Sonar teams. Alternately, they might have just been coming up for normal comms during a break in the exercise schedule, and, as one commenter suggested, didn't have a good track on the San Jacinto, having either missed a 180 turn or putting one in that didn't exist. (For a quiet target, a zero-bearing rate, decreasing range sonar track looks a lot like a >20K yard contact.) I've been in situations when the seas were high enough coming to PD that I didn't get a good look at one sector until my 3rd or 4th sweep after the optics break the surface -- and who knows, if they had a UI or two on the ship's control party, maybe they had a hard time keeping the 'scope optics out of the water. However, this is unlikely since it was reported that a lookout on the cruiser saw the submarine. I'd be more likely to guess a possible sail broach, with the OOD more concerned about yelling at the Dive to get the ship back down than completing his safety sweep. We really won't be able to have an informed discussion on potential lessons learned until we do know those things -- but, as usual, that shouldn't stop us from holding forth, since that's what us Submariners do.

And for non-Submariners visiting here and wondering, no, Montpelier is not yet one of the submarines with female crew members.

Staying at PD...

Update 1635 16 Oct: The heads of the crawl up their assholes with a microscope investigation boards have been named:
Vice Adm. Michelle Howard, deputy commander of USFF, appointed Rear Adm. Ann Phillips, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 2, as the investigating officer to lead a command investigation into the collision of USS Montpelier (SSN 765) and USS San Jacinto (CG 56).
The investigation is administrative in nature and will look into the cause of the collision and determine any fault, neglect, or responsibility. Additionally, the investigation will identify any shortfalls in procedures and make recommendations for corrective action.
USFF has also directed a Safety Investigation Board (SIB), which will be led by Rear Adm. Joseph Tofalo, commander of Submarine Group (SUBGRU) 10. The SIB will identify hazards and causal factors for the collision, and make recommendations to prevent future mishaps.
I'm guessing they'll find that people on the submarine were doing a lot of things that happen on every single submarine in the world (like the Throttleman cleaning around his watchstation instead of standing straight and monitoring his panel 100% of the time) that will prove that Montpelier was grossly deficient but there are no Force-wide issues, as Montpelier was an outlier. [/sarcasm]

The Good Kind Of VIP Tour

From Navy News:
Retired U.S. Army colonel, Vietnam War veteran and Medal of Honor recipient, Jack Howard Jacobs, and a group of distinguished guests who are in Hawaii for the National Medal of Honor Convention, visited the Virginia-class submarine USS North Carolina (SSN 777) for a tour Oct. 5 at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.
"It's was an absolute honor to be able to show a true American hero around the boat, and talk to him about what the submarine force does and how we contribute to our country's missions." said Cmdr. Richard G. Rinehart, USS North Carolina commanding officer. "The crew came together. They understood the importance of this opportunity to show this group around, and they enjoyed the chance to show them a little about the submarine force and what we do."
During the tour, the crew of North Carolina explained the difference between Virginia-class submarines and other submarines, submerging and surfacing systems, and basic day-to-day operations on board.
"Coming aboard a ship with the capability of the North Carolina is awe inspiring to me," said Jacobs. "It's hard to believe that only 150 Sailors can control this kind of firepower, and the projection of power around the globe. We are all very lucky to have the North Carolina on our side."
Who is the coolest person you've ever toured around the boat?

Banned Books Week 2012

It's Banned Books Week again, September 30th to October 6th. You're encouraged to read a banned or challenged book, make a video celebrating a favorite one, or blog about it. The Twitter hatchtag is #BannedBooksWeek. (If you choose to write a post celebrating Banned Books Week or intellectual freedom, feel free to link your post in the comments or e-mail me, and I'll link your post in an

"Last Resort" Airs, Hilarity Ensues

I know we had a thread on this fairly recently, but now that the first episode of the new submarine-themed comedy "Last Resort" has aired, there seems to be a lot of interest in what actual Submariners thought of it, so I'll start a new post. Personally, I could overlook the concept that in the future there would be a sub-launched Tomahawk that functions as a non-nuclear depth charge (despite that being almost the most ineffective weapons system imaginable -- I suppose a Tomahawk that crashes into the water without a warhead would be slightly less effective), and the idea that a submarine could identify the stealthy American submarine that fired said Tomahawk from hundreds of miles away, and the horribly simplistic depiction of test depth flooding, and the OOD announcing "Venting forward, venting aft" on the 1MC when submerging (without looking through the 'scope -- I'll give them some advanced non-penetrating periscope on a boomer in the future), but I don't know if I can forgive the "happy dance party" when crossing the equator.

So what were your "favorite" submarine elements of the first episode?

Update 1307 28 Sep: Crap, I forgot my blogiversary again; I marked 8 years of TSSBP earlier this month. Thanks to all the readers and commenters!

Update 1020 30 Sep: And while we're on the subject of inaccurate portrayals of Submariners, it appears the Navy is guilty of turning a Submariner into a SWO for recruiting propaganda. (LT Carter did his JO tour on USS Minneapolis-St. Paul (SSN 708).

Update 1315 30 Sep: Almost forgot about the impossible shot made with the missile. Since you see the missile pass over D.C. (at an altitude way too low for it to make another 200 miles on a ballistic trajectory), and see it explode 200 miles to the east, it's clear they intended the viewer to believe the missile was shot from the western IO across the Pacific, over the U.S. west coast, and past D.C. -- a distance of about 12,000 nm. This is well beyond the published max range of a D-5 missile; even the 7,000 nm range from the western IO to D.C. by the shortest path is right on the hairy edge.

The Belle Brigade – "Belt of Orion"

With the vocal blend on those harmonies, you might guess that the singers are related, and you'd be right. The core of The Belle Brigade is Barbara and Ethan Gruska, who come from a musical family (their grandfather is composer John Williams). Here's a live version.

Talk Like a Pirate Day 2012

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, I thought I'd use the English-to-Pirate translator on an scurvy dog bent on pillaging Americans, Mitt Romney. Here's some of his recent scurrilous remarks, rendered into pirate via one of the English-to-pirate translators:

There be forty-seven percent o' t' people who will vote for t' president no matter what. All starboard, thar be forty-seven percent who be

Random Stuff

Here's some submarine/Navy-related stuff in the news:

1) Here's a follow-up story from the Associated Press with more details about the submarine CO who faked his own death to try to dump his mistress. The question remains: Is this a more salacious story than the Australian officer who repeatedly spanked a junior female sailor?

2) The LANTFLT winner of the 2012 Stockdale Award is USS Boise (SSN 764) Commanding Officer CDR Brian Sittlow. w00t! This comes a year after the Boise won the Battenberg Cup.

3) Here's a story of an ET1(SS) from USS Missouri (SSN 780) who was re-enlisted at Foxwoods by an Elvis impersonator. What's your favorite "non-traditional" re-enlistment story?

4) In some sad news, the United States Submarine Veterans of WWII national organization officially disbanded following their convention in Norfolk. The youngest member is 86, the oldest 102. The Submarine community will have lost the best of us when the last of these heroes finally departs on Eternal Patrol.

Update 1615 25 Sep: Q. When is a diesel submarine louder than any Western nuke boat? A. When it's an Iranian Kilo-class boat that just got out of an overhaul in an Iranian shipyard in which they fabricated the repair parts in Iran!

Also, two submarines were recently announced as the winners of the CY 2011 Marjorie Sterrett Battleship Award for superior performance in intra-type battle efficiency: USS Newport News (SSN 750) from LANTFLT, and USS Hampton (SSN 767) over in the Pacific.

Newport News is on a similar roll to Boise, with their CO earning the Darby Award from the Submarine League back in July.

C&L Fundraiser 2012

Crooks and Liars, one of the coolest big blogs, is holding a donation drive. I imagine most readers here are familiar with Crooks and Liars, but if not, it's a great place to catch up on political video clips. I periodically guest post over at C&L as part of the Mike's Blog Roundup crew, and C&L is really unique among bigger blogs in consciously, deliberately trying to spread the love and link

RIP Buck

I was shocked and saddened to learn that a former co-blogger, Buck, had died. (He was relatively young; it was due to natural causes; I'm omitting other details for privacy's sake.) Buck was very good with computers, and that's how he earned his living. He also did all the web design over at Blue Herald, which he revamped several times (the site's mostly dormant now, and has one of his simpler

"Last Resort" First Episode

For those who are interested, here is the full first episode of the upcoming ABC series "Last Resort" about boomer Sailors:

If anyone gets all the way through it, let us know what you think in the comments. One frequent commenter who's watched it E-mailed that he thought it wasn't as bad as it could have been. The opening scene where the OOD makes all the announcements the COW is supposed to when submerging doesn't give me much hope...

Never Forget

My faith teaches me that I'm supposed to forgive those who hurt me. This is something I'm having real problems with in this case.


Kurt Eichenwald has a piece in The New York Times titled "The Deafness Before the Storm" that adds details to what's known about 9/11:On Aug. 6, 2001, President George W. Bush received a classified review of the threats posed by Osama bin Laden and his terrorist network, Al Qaeda. That morning’s “presidential daily brief” — the top-secret document prepared by America’s intelligence agencies —

Navy Weddings

While there's some interesting submarine news out this week (my old boat Topeka returning home from deployment after a really crappy trifecta -- Yoko/Singapore/Guam -- of port visits, and the Navy signing some initial documents for the Ohio replacement that indicate the first one will go on patrol in 2031), I wanted to post today about weddings; mine was 27 years ago today:

As you can see, we didn't have a Navy wedding. I met my wife when I was going to school at NPTU Idaho; it was the old "a small group of guys going to Idaho realizing that all the Sailors live in IF and all the college girls are in Pocatello, so we should live in Pocatello" story. We decided to get married just before I transferred, and pulled the trigger fairly soon after I got to my next command (NROTC Unit at the University of Kansas, where I was assigned for NECP). Since we had the wedding up in my hometown, there was no Navy presence there, so it was strictly a civilian affair. That being said, I wish we could have done a Navy wedding, since I've always really enjoyed the traditions.

Do you have any good "Navy wedding" stories?

Update 1208 07 Sep: Also, the FY13 Major Command Assignments list is out, but I'm not seeing it anywhere else on the 'net, so I won't post it here until it's out in the open elsewhere. I was interested to see that the SSGN commands are considered a "major command". SUBRONs 1, 4, 5, 16, and 17 are getting new Commodores.

Family Of The Year – "Hero"

This is a local L.A. band. I've had this song stuck in my head for the past week, so I decided to learn it (the chords are pretty easy). You can also hear the studio version or this stripped down one.

Happy Labor Day 2012

Happy Labor Day, brought to us by the labor movement, the same folks who brought us the weekend. I wrote more about this last year. Erik Loomis at Lawyers, Guns & Money has been running a fantastic ongoing series, This Day in Labor History. Jon Perr has another one of his superb posts on economic/fiscal matters, "15 Things the GOP Doesn't Want You to Know About Taxes and the Debt." Meanwhile,

Friday Video

As we head into the long weekend, here's a video the Navy put out last month about USS Maine (SSBN 741):

A couple videos with more in-depth information about Maine put out at the same time are here and here.

Meanwhile, the Russians are reporting that they'll put one of their new Borey-class boomers in each ocean. That means NUC opportunities for both east and west coast American SSNs (as well as spare-part cannibalization nightmares for the Russkie supply officers). w00t!

Have a great Labor Day weekend, everyone!

Update 1405 31 August: While you're at it over the long weekend, you can have fun reading the ill-informed captions that go with the excellent photos in this Business Insider story about Virginia-class boats.

While I've Been Off-Line...

Sorry for the non-existent posting over the last many days; I was visiting my folks back in the land of the dial-up Internet connection. Here are some submarine-related items that have been in the news since then:

1) The Navy announced a schedule for the rebuilding of USS Miami (SSN 755) following the shipyard fire.

2) DARPA has an "unmanned submarine hunter" program. It won't work until we get computers that think like humans since there are so many extraneous submarine-like noises in the ocean that it'll lock on to something other than a submarine, but it's still pretty cool from a geek perspective.

3) PCU North Dakota (SSN 784) released their official ship's crest. I've seen worse. Not so much with the ship's motto "Strength from the Soil", which sucks just about as much ass as any boat's motto I've ever heard. It's especially disturbing that they chose that when they had the much better option "Reapers of the Deep" alongside it on their crest. I'm guessing the PTB decided the latter was too "warlike", so they had to adopt the pussified version as the official motto; I'm glad they kept the better version visible on the coat of arms.

4) Here's an interesting report from a Guardian reporter about his ride on HMS Triumph (S 93).

5) And here's the long-form trailer for the upcoming new ABC series "Last Resort", apparently about a boomer that declares themselves an independent nation after getting genocidal orders from the evil U.S. military establishment. I'm not guessing it'll have a lot in the way of an accurate depiction of submarine life, but I'm sure we'll learn a lot about how evil either the CIA or conservatives in the U.S. military/government are (or maybe even the evil military/industrial complex, along with oil companies).

Grizzly Bear – "Two Weeks"

Not Everything You Read On The Internet Is True

I'm really hesitant to post this drivel purporting to be a "news" report that a Russian Akula spent a month in the Gulf of Mexico without being detected, but I've gotten enough requests that I figure I'll throw it out there. All I ask is that those discussing how either idiotic or manipulative (depending on if you think he really believes it, or if you think he knows it's not true and also knows that those who know the truth are constrained by confidentiality from saying so) the writer, Bill Gertz, is, not reveal anything classified about why his imaginary tale couldn't really happen -- I know it's tough, but please try. Like with all the uninformed conjecture about the Chinese submarine that surfaced near USS Kitty Hawk back in 2006, this is unfortunately one of those cases where someone with an agenda is allowed to run roughshod over the facts and those who know how the real world works aren't allowed to contradict them.

For those non-submariners having a hard time reading between the lines of what I'm saying, I'll make it a little clearer: Obviously, it's possible that a Russian SSN could travel to the Gulf of Mexico and cruise around for a month in international waters during peacetime, even though that has no real military value, as we have no real naval bases with things like major combatants in the Gulf, and what do you expect the U.S. to do to stop them from transiting international waters, fire at them and start a war? -- it's the "undetected" part that strains credibility to the point of humor.

Wow. Just Wow.

A week ago, USS Pittsburgh (SSN 720) had a change of command, with CDR Michael Ward relieving CDR Michael Savageaux for what I'm sure he hoped would be a successful command tour with a band playing at the end.
Unfortunately, life doesn't work out that way, as he was relieved of duty due to "lack of confidence in Ward's ability to command" just one week after putting on his sheriff's badge. What, you may ask, would cause this quick turnaround in his Commodore's opinion of this young CO? This news article provides some clues:
Navy Cmdr. Michael P. Ward II, who a 23-year-old Chesapeake, Va., woman said had an affair with her, has been relieved of his duties as the commanding officer of the USS Pittsburgh, just one week after he was put in command.
The woman said she met Ward, 43, on a dating website in October 2011. She said he told her he worked in "special ops." She said Ward, who is married with children, told her he was separated. She said he impregnated her and, in an effort to end the relationship, faked his death in an email in July...
...The woman said Ward sent her emails using the name Tony Moore. On July 6, she received an email from his address purporting to be from a man named Bob who worked with Ward.
"He asked me to contact you if this ever happened," the email says. "I am extremely sorry to tell you that he is gone. We tried everything we could to save him. I cannot say more. I am sorry it has to be this way."
The email goes on to say, "He loved you very much," and that Bob had something Ward wanted to give to the woman.
The woman said on July 9, she drove with her family members to Ward's house in Burke, Va., to pay her respects and learned from the new owner that Ward was alive and had moved to Connecticut to take command of a submarine.
Have you ever heard of a CO story to top this one?

But Paul Ryan Seems Like Such a Nice Fellow

The big political news today is, of course, Mitt Romney naming Paul Ryan as his running mate. It's hard to keep up with all the coverage on Vice Presidential candidate Ryan, but Balloon Juice has been blogging up a storm today, providing some excellent links. Ezra Klein and Nate Silver provide good background on what it means, Charles Pierce weighs in, and Paul Krugman briefly left his vacation

Rate The Port Visits, Get An Award!

Not much submarine news lately (as indicated by the length of time that's passed since my last post), so I dug around and found a couple of items:

1) USS Louisville (SSN 724) returned from WestPac yesterday; here's photographic proof:

Excerpt from the story:
During the deployment, 26 Sailors qualified in submarines and are now entitled to wear the submarine warfare insignia, also referred to as "Dolphins", after completing a rigorous qualification process that included in-depth understanding of submarine construction and operations, and practical assessments of the Sailor's ability to combat a wide range of casualties that could be encountered while onboard the submarine. A majority of the crew also completed advanced qualifications, including Engineering Watch Supervisor, Diving Officer of the Watch and Chief of the Watch. These qualifications provide greater watch bill flexibility and help ensure that Louisville's performance will remain strong.
"We left on WESTPAC with a fairly junior crew but, they worked hard to keep the ship clean and stowed, and rapidly became qualified for senior watch stations," said Master Chief Fire Control Technician (SS) Joseph Bransfield, Louisville Chief of the Boat.
Despite steaming over 40,000 nautical miles in support of the nation's defense, the crew enjoyed several memorable port visits which included Sasebo and Yokosuka, Japan; Sepangar, Malaysia and Subic Bay, Philippines.
I'd rate that as an above average set of port visits compared to a lot of boats recently. What was your best -- or worst -- combined set of port calls during a full deployment?

2) Here's a story from The Dolphin about the SOAC Director getting an award, the Naval Submarine League’s 2012 Rear Admiral Frederick B. Warder Award for Outstanding Achievement. Pretty cool. The only named award I ever got was the "Military Order of the World Wars" Outstanding Recruit award, given to a graduating recruit every week at Great Lakes back in 1983. (I also earned several Engineer's "Yellow Stickies" when I was a JO.) Did you ever earn a cool award?

Warren Zevon – "Werewolves of London"

This is one of my favorite Zevon songs. It's appropriate due to the London Olympics, and also because this recent NPR story (which received plenty of letters). Here's a live version.

Both Sides Do It: Partisanship Redux

I find I keep on returning to themes explored in a piece from last year, "Partisanship, Policy and Bullshit." Among other things, it contended that Beltway pundits tend to obtusely conflate different types of "partisanship," and explored why there's such a preponderance of bullshit in our national political discourse. Here's a partial recap and riff on that piece, focusing mostly on an

Blogiversary VII: Seven Posts in May

Blogging is not writing. It's just graffiti with punctuation.– Contagion A few days ago, this blog turned seven. It's been another year with little time to write and plenty of backlogged major-posts-in-the-works that would, uh, knock your socks off if you were only the type to wear socks, you hippie. Still, thanks to everyone who's stopped by for my occasional (mostly long-form) blogging. (At

The Four Types of Conservatives

Most conservative political figures break down into one of four broad groups. They are Reckless Addicts, Proud Zealots, Stealthy Extremists and Sober Adults. Needless to say, they do not exist in equal numbers. The first three categories can overlap, but in individual conservatives, one flavor tends to dominate.I'll be primarily discussing congressional conservatives (mostly Republicans, plus

Aussie Boat Sinks Target, Has "Minor Flood"

Looks like HMAS Farncomb (SSG 74) had a little more excitement during a RIMPAC 2012 SINKEX than they were expecting:
Sailors aboard a Collins-class submarine forced to return to base for repairs during a multinational exercise near Hawaii last week would have been profoundly disappointed, a former senior submariner says.
It is the second time in just over a year a Collins-class submarine has had to withdraw from a major international exercise because of mechanical issues.
The former commander of the Australian Navy Submarine Group, Steve Davies, said the officers and crew of HMAS Farncomb would have been riding high after successfully sinking a decommissioned United States warship with a Mk 48 torpedo during RIMPAC 2012.
HMAS Farncomb experienced ''a minor flood'' shortly after the firing exercise while snorkelling to recharge its batteries.
One of the hoses in the submarine's weight compensation system split, spraying water into a machinery space.
Emergency measures were invoked with the ship withdrawing from the exercise and returning to Pearl Harbour for repairs.
What's your best "minor flood" or SINKEX story?

Even though they were forced back into port, they did get credit for a successful SINKEX:

Civilian Shipyard Worker Charged With Setting USS Miami Fire

Breaking news from Kittery:
Investigators now say the fire that extensively damaged a Navy submarine at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard was intentionally set. Casey James Fury, 24 of Portsmouth, has been charged with setting that fire, and another smaller fire on the sub.
Naval investigators say Fury was working as a painter and sandblaster aboard the USS Miami. They say he confessed to setting the May 23 fire that caused 400 million dollars damage to the sub.
Court documents show that Fury told investigators he suffers from anxiety and takes medication for it. He said the day of the fire, he was working in the torpedo room when his anxiety started getting "really bad". He went to a state room for a cigarette break, saw a bag of rags on the bunk and set them on fire.
If guilty, throw the book at him. While many shipyard workers are very dedicated, there were always a lot of dodgy characters working as painter/cleaners in the shipyard, but this is the worst example I've seen. What are some of your memories of some sketchy sand crabs you've worked with?

Bell-ringer 1050 23 July: Here's an article with much more information from Seacoast Online, which has been providing the best reporting since the story started. It looks like they zero'd in on Fury after a 2nd fire was started in the shipyard on June 16th. Here's a copy of the criminal complaint filed by the NCIS Agent in charge.

Boomer Force Earns MUC

Everyone assigned to an SSBN or SSBN support role from July 2007 to January 2011 was awarded a Meritorious Unit Commendation today. From the COMSUBFOR blog, here's the award citation:
For meritorious service from 16 July 2007 to 28 January 2011. Commander, Task Force 134 and Commander, Task Force 144 (CTF134/144) excelled in support of United States Strategic Command’s flawless execution of its global mission of strategic deterrence. The Task Forces provided an essential leg to our nation’s strategic triad and were a key element of our deterrent mission. The deterrence mission executed by Task Force 134 and 144 during this period underpinned Department of Defense strategy and provided the backbone and foundation for our political leadership in execution of national security policy. Providing credibility to the deterrent force, Commander Task Force 134 and 144 demonstrated high standards in day-to-day operations, in exercises, in training, and every time they went to sea. By their truly distinctive achievements, unrelenting perseverance, and unfailing devotion to duty, the officers, enlisted personnel, and civilian employees of Commander Task Force 134 and Commander, Task Force 144 reflected credit upon themselves and upheld the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.
The MUC as a unit award is generally considered to be comparable to a Bronze Star for individuals. Apparently, the boomer force has done as much for our nation's defense as Sub School and SUPSHIP Groton did earlier.

I don't think I'll hold my breath for the attack submarine force to be similarly rewarded. Even though I'm always happy to see Submariners get more chest candy, I can't help having the feeling that this is just more evidence of the "everyone gets a trophy!" mentality that's been sneaking into the Navy over the last couple of decades.

Best Coast – "No One Like You"

Not to be confused with "No One Likes You"...

Woody Guthrie at 100

(Woody Guthrie Foundation and Archives)Woody Guthrie would have been 100 yesterday. He was a prolific songwriter and writer, a champion of the underdog, and traveled across most of America. His life was cut tragically short by Huntington's disease at the age of 55. The list of musicians he's influenced is very long, and there have been several tribute concerts and memorial events this year. (

Responsible Use Of The Submarine Song

Over the years, I've sent the lyrics to "The Submarine Song" to literally hundreds of Submariners, and while I don't know for sure that The Submarine Song contributed to the firing of the COB of USS Annapolis back in April, based on the new description of the events leading up to the firing by the Michael Melia reporter, it sure sounds like it might have played a part. Excerpts:
The sailor from the USS Annapolis, Senior Chief Sonar Technician Gregory Cordray, had been drinking inside a club on the U.S. base when he was involved in an altercation with a group of apparently British sailors on March 12. On the bus to a hotel, he also caused a commotion by starting a sing-along and using profanity, according to the command investigation. The investigation report, obtained by The Associated Press through a Freedom of Information Act request, concluded that Cordray violated the commanding officer's orders to avoid intoxication while off-duty in Bahrain, as well as during a January port visit to Toulon, France...
...According to the investigation, Cordray had been drinking beer inside the chief petty officers' club for nearly seven hours before leaving for the hotel, when he encountered the apparently British sailors attempting to board the bus designated for Annapolis sailors. Several people tried to quiet Cordray as they secured the door to the bus.
Because no one wants to see a Submariner lose their job, I feel bad about saying earlier: "It's only fun singing The Submarine Song until someone gets hurt... and then it's hilarious, if the hurt person is a skimmer."

Have you ever gotten into a "tussle" with non-Submariners (especially non-American non-Submariners) in a foreign port?

Bad Boys Race Our Young Girls...

Some people are claiming this picture came from an old ET 3&2 Rate Training Manual:

Can anyone confirm? If it didn't come from there, it should have. What are your favorite memories of official Navy training publications (or -- and I hesitate to bring this up for obvious reasons -- "A" School mnemonics you still remember)?

Traffic – "The Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys"

New Naval Reactors Admiral Nominated

From the Senate webpage, we see this piece of intel:
Jul 11, 12 PN1807 Navy: The following named officer for appointment to the grade of Admiral in the United States Navy while assigned to a position of importance and responsibility under title 10, U.S.C., section 601 and title 42, U.S.C., section 7158: Vice Adm. John M. Richardson, to be Admiral
The 42 U.S.C. Section 7158 portion confirms that this nomination is to head Naval Reactors. Personally, I think it's a great choice. VADM Richardson has done an excellent job looking for ways to move the Force into the 21st century while heading SUBFOR, and I expect he'll continue the good work of his predecessors at NR.

skippy's 10th blogiversary

(Allegedly not an actual likeness.)It's the 10th anniversary of skippy the bush kangaroo contributing to blogtopia (and yes, he coined that phrase). Head over to give your regards. When thinking of skippy, three things come to mind:1. Persistence: He's been at this for 10 years, which is a very long time in independent political blogging. He and his co-bloggers (especially Cookie Jill) post

IG Report On USS Memphis Cheating Scandal

To the surprise of no one, the Navy IG found that the cheating scandal on USS Memphis (SSN 691) was not evidence of a Force-wide issue. Excerpt:
U.S. Navy investigators have dismissed allegations that pervasive cheating tainted training exams administered to enlisted sailors and officers in the submarine force, according to documents obtained Thursday by The Associated Press. The inspector general for the Atlantic submarine force opened an investigation following a complaint that originated in Groton, Conn., the home port of an attack submarine that was hit by a cheating scandal in 2010. In a letter sent to U.S. Fleet Forces Command in December, the commander for the Atlantic submarine force said the claims were unsubstantiated. It said previous episodes mentioned in the complaint were investigated and dealt with individually.
Is anyone surprised that the Navy didn't find evidence of pervasive cheating on the boats?

Of Monsters and Men – "King and Lionheart"

Here's a live version by this band from Iceland.

How I Became a Rape Victim

The blog HerbsandHags has a very honest, insightful, powerful and disturbing post up called "How I Became a Rape Victim." Her blog warns, "Some of my posts deal with rape and that means that bits of this blog may be triggering." Most of the post is about her struggle to acknowledge what actually happened to her, despite all the pressures for her to believe otherwise. Her follow-up posts

Coming Forth On The Fifth

I hope everyone had a great celebration of the 236th anniversary of our Nation's Independence yesterday; it looks like San Diego took the cake for the most intense show:

Did anyone in San Diego see the big boom? How were the shows in the submarine ports last night?

Independence Day 2012

Happy Independence Day! I might have a more serious post up later (social engagements permitting), but I often post some combination of these for the 4th, because they're hard to beat.Here's Jimi:Here's Marvin:Here are the Muppets:And finally, here's Pete Seeger with Bruce Springsteen, singing Woody Guthrie's most famous song:Have a good Independence Day!

Andrew Sarris (1928–2012)

Film critic/scholar Andrew Sarris died recently, and there's been a bevy of good pieces on him. I didn't read his reviews regularly, but occasionally I caught them, and I did read several of his seminal essays when I was in college. Film can still sometimes be derided as childish, and writing about film seen as a scam. It was exciting to see Sarris and others take the medium seriously and write

Failing Well Enhances Character Development

Guest post from CDR Scott D. Waddle, USN (Ret.), originally posted on the TSSBP Facebook page, reposted here with his permission:

Life isn’t fair. There will always be someone who is smarter, stronger and better than you. Your best effort will sometimes fall short and never be good enough no matter how hard you try. It seems the only equalizer in life is death. Even in death the path some follow to get there doesn’t seem fair. So why even try if failure is certain? The resilience of the human spirit is what makes us unique and separates us from the rest of the creatures on earth. When faced with failure we basically have three choices: withdraw and quit, waffle and do nothing, or try and figure out what went wrong, learn from it and try again until we succeed. Learning to fail well provides an opportunity to push beyond barriers once thought to be impenetrable and a chance to develop ones character.
I envy toddlers (children ages one to four) and ankle biters (think pre K). When kids play and begin to socialize with their peers, they have an uncanny ability to embrace setbacks, cast them aside and try again with greater vigor and determination until they achieve success. They are fearless and know no boundaries or limits. The fear of failing does not register with them.
 Playing is a vital part of a child’s life and an opportunity for them to socialize experiment and try new things. As children mature and they become more self aware, the consequences of their failures and how they deal with setbacks shapes their behavior and character.
 When I graduated from the Naval Academy in 1981 I was unable follow in the footsteps of my dad, an Air Force pilot, because I didn’t have 20/20 uncorrected vision. I chose the submarine service instead and embarked on what would be an incredible twenty year journey. Getting to command was not easy. Competition was fierce and opportunity for failure was high. Success was primarily achieved by balancing risk versus the gain. If you were too cavalier or risk averse the chances of getting to command became more difficult.
 Early in my command of the GREENEVILLE, during one of my weekly meetings with my squadron commander, I learned some of my fellow commanding officers were experiencing high turnover and attrition. The same problem existed on my boat which I attributed to command climate. In my boat’s case it was a matter of stopping the verbal abuse and hostility that existed on board. As the Captain when I demonstrated that I cared for the professional development of my crew, their personal and family well being I won their confidence and trust. The hostility ceased and the crew worked as a team. In the end my crew would be the best recruiters, pulling talent from across the globe.
 Some of my crew members were disenchanted and simply hated their job. My challenge was to help them understand the importance of their contribution to the boat’s operations, the team and mission success. Often it wasn’t easy trying to convince an 18 year old, who was scrubbing out urinals and toilets, doing some other crewmember’s laundry or peeling potatoes how their efforts were contributing to protecting our nation from the bad guys. I worked hard at it and in the end was successful.
 Other captains were giving up on sailors and kicking them out of the Navy at an alarming rate. When I shared with them my success stories they responded, “Too much effort. It’s easier to give them the boot.” Disappointed with the response I asked my squadron commander and his boss Rear Admiral Al Konetzni the Commander Submarine Pacific to transfer the hard case sailors from other boats to my command. Over a two year period 29 careers were salvaged. Those that had suffered defeat and chronic failure blossomed and succeeded on the GREENEVILLE. My crew and I embraced these sailors and found the right fit for them onboard. We knew each person was of value but they needed encouragement and guidance to succeed. Once they learned how to fail well, success for them just took a little more effort on their part. While working with these sailors I would learn that for a sailor to respect their leaders they had to first respect themselves.
 Leadership success aside; in command, the rules were simple. Don’t run your ship aground. Don’t hit anything. Don’t kill anybody (unless it is the enemy) and keep the core covered (think reactor safety). I violated two of the rules on 9 February 2001 and on 1 October 2001 was invited to leave the Navy.
 At age 41 on February 9th 2001 while in command of the submarine USS GREENEVILLE (SSN 772), an improved LOS ANGELES Class Fast Attack Submarine operating off the coast of my home port Pearl Harbor, I experienced a life changing event. That Friday afternoon with civilian visitors on board I ordered an emergency surface maneuver that caused my submarine to collide with a Japanese fisheries training vessel the Ehime Maru killing nine civilians. The accident took the lives of four seventeen year old students, two instructors and three crew members.
 After two years in command I was comfortable and confident in my ability to lead my crew. We had achieved unprecedented success up until the day of our collision. After the accident, the two week long Court of Inquiry would document the details that contributed to the cause of the accident. I was found guilty of dereliction of duty and intentionally hazarding my vessel. The actions I took that day I thought at the time were prudent. I was wrong. That’s usually the case with hindsight being 20/20.
 The accident had a dramatic impact on my life, my crew and the family members who lost loved ones. My personal failure caused significant emotional and physical stress. Despite the strong desire to preserve my personal and professional reputation, by trying to place blame elsewhere, I chose to keep my integrity and character intact. I took responsibility for my actions and the actions of my crew.
 I ended up losing the job I loved the most because of arrogance and the belief that accidents happened to other ships and not to us. My crew was extremely talented. We backed each other up. I thought we were better than those that had bitten the big bullet. Unfortunately that arrogance exists today in commands across the military and in board rooms around the globe. The challenge is to recognize the flaw and ferret it out. Nothing in my training provided me with a formal procedure or instruction as to what to do if I “fell on my sword”. All I had to go by were leadership classes at the Academy. In the operational fleet there were incident and mishap reports as well as case studies that documented collisions, groundings, equipment damage, personnel injury and loss of life. In the fleet most of the resources were part of a continuing training program that required periodic review. Learning how to balance the risk was a skill acquired through personal failure and observing others fail. I learned early in my career that it was less painful to learn from someone else’s mistakes. One of my old captains used to say, “If the heat’s on you it ain’t on me. Remember Waddle to keep the spot light off you and on the other guy.”
 Had I not learned to “fail well” early in life the choices I made following the incident most likely would have been different. Thoughts of placing blame elsewhere and trying to dodge the bullet were instinctive but I pushed the thoughts aside. The reason I chose to take the moral high ground was simple. It was the right thing to do. In command accountability and responsibility is absolute. The same holds true in the corporate arena. It is sad that most leaders that experience failure of this magnitude do not fail well. They spend their efforts covering their rear end.
 Some of the role models I had growing up were my parents, teachers, coaches, clergy, bosses and scout masters. Each offered encouragement when I failed and sometimes provided a reality check when my goals were too lofty or unrealistic. As I matured success was measured in small incremental steps. The failures served to humble me and teach me humility as well as perseverance. Over time I would learn what my strengths and weaknesses were. Dealing with weakness is tough but a necessity. I learned to shore up areas that warranted work and supplement my weakness by recruiting those who were strong in areas where I was not and openly acknowledging my weakness. The process built trust and respect with those I worked with. Eleven years later I still reflect on what could have happened or would have happened if only the accident not occurred. Most of us have had our “There by the grace of GOD go I moments.” You might call them something else. In my post Navy career I am a public speaker, executive coach and consultant. The audiences I speak before and customers are leaders who have experienced success in the past but for the first time in their lives are facing failure. The challenge for most of them is they have not learned how to fail well. My job is to help people get back on track and move forward.
 I challenge you to look in the mirror and candidly determine if you fail well. If you do not fail well find a mentor and learn how to. If you do fail well help others learn the skill. Your character development will only suffer if you chose the easy path by waffling, doing nothing or giving up.
 Many successful leaders have learned to fail well. A few of them are Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, Walt Disney, Bill Gates, Sir James Dyson and Steve Jobs. Take a few minutes and search for Steve Jobs’ 2005 Stanford commencement speech. You won’t be disappointed. At some point, you will fail. Don’t give up. Fail well!

Submarine News Items And The "Great Qual Card Of Life"

Here are a few stories about submarines and Submariners in the news:

1) Iran says they're starting design work on a nuclear submarine they could build themselves. I think that's a great idea, and they should spend a significant portion of their defense budget for the next several years making a noisy version of a November-class submarine.

2) The cause of the firing of the COB (or "top enlisted officer" according to the AP) on USS Florida (SSGN 728)(Gold) has been revealed following an FOIA request, according to this Navy Times article.

3) The first female submarine officer to get her dolphins got lots of attention from the national media and an article on the Navy website. I'm always glad to see articles highlighting positive achievements from Submariners (one of which LT Christianson now is, beyond any doubt), and I hope the Navy chooses to continue to publish stories about newly-qualified Submariners -- regardless of gender.

Speaking of finishing up one's qual card, I always enjoyed my first Engineer's concept of the "Great Qual Card of Life", as in "Sure, you messed up, but that's just another sig in the Great Qual Card of Life". I've got some decent prac facs signed off (Become a Father, Visit Another Continent, Take a Crazy Cab Ride in Korea), but I still have some left that I'd like to finish off before I head off to the Final Qual Board in the Sky. What signature in the Great Qual Card of Life are you most glad you got signed off?

Electric Guest – "Troubleman"

This one's been running through my head for the past couple of weeks. Here's a live version from their KCRW session. (It's good, but I prefer the stronger harmonies on the studio version.)

Discussion Items

While I'm off doing politics stuff, here are a couple of items for people to discuss if they feel like it.

1) The CRS updated their white paper on the Ohio Replacement (SSBN[X]) program.  While they won't do it (because the Navy's manufacturing partners would lose out on lots of R&D money, and Congress wouldn't allow that), I think we already have a perfect option for the next SSBN -- base it on the Seawolf hull. It already has an almost Ohio-diameter hull, we've proven we can put a module in the middle of one, and it's plenty quiet. The main problem would be that our SSBNs would be faster then our Virginia-class SSNs, and I can't see the Navy going for that.

2) The CNO came out with a new program with standards for selecting COs as a CYA reaction to all the recent problems. From the letter, it appears that not much will change for the Submarine Force, unless the ridiculous Department Head 360 Review the skimmers are going to pilot gets adopted fleet-wide. If so, we'll get a bunch of Engineers getting the opportunity to talk to a "certified counselor", probably about their "feelings". Normally, I'd worry that the pussification of the CO pool could put us at risk in a wartime scenario, but I think our technical superiority will remain in place for the next 20 years or so that will allow us to overcome that; by that time, the pendulum should have swung enough that society will understand once again that sometimes you need a man with a tattoo on his dick to do the dirty work of commanding a warship at sea. (Sometimes, that man might even be a woman, as long as she knows what's needed to kill the enemy and sink his ships. Because, in the final analysis, that's our job, not "talking it out" with "certified counselors".)

The Aristocrats

I read a great deal of fantastic stuff on the internet tubes I rarely get around to linking, apart from my Mike's Blog Roundup stints at Crooks and Liars. (Limited blogging time, alas.) Without slighting the many other excellent pieces I've read so far this year, this post by Jonathan Schwarz at A Tiny Revolution is absolute fucking perfection, and wins the internets for the day, the week, and

Elton John – "Rocket Man"

One of John/Taupin's best songs, and supposedly partially inspired by a Ray Bradbury short story.

USS Wyoming And An Osprey

From the Submarine Group TEN Facebook page, this is just completely cool:

From the caption: "A V-22 Osprey from Air Force Special Operations Command performs a proof of concept for personnel evactuation from the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming (SSBN 742) June 6. Wyoming is currently at sea performing routine operations."

Have you ever been part of a "proof of concept" operation? Closest I did was being on the target of the first attempted OPEVAL of the Mk 50 torpedo, where "The Kennedy Maneuver" gained fame as a successful evasion technique against the weapon; I'm convinced (based on no real evidence) that this failure led to the cancellation of the program and replacement by the Mk 54.

Fun With RadCon!

For some reason, I started thinking about RadCon as I was driving home from work last night to start my weekend. What Nuke (Nuc? What is the right spelling anyway?) doesn't smile when they remember things like:

1) An ELT showing you his open hand and saying "1500", clapping his hands together and saying "750", then brushing his hands on his shirt and saying "Less than".
2) SWIMS: "Smile, Walk away, Ignore it, Make up a story, Stick by your story"
3) The abuse the ELT would take when "walking the dog" in the forward compartment.
4) The sheer panic of a young SDO touring topside after dinner and seeing the recently-qualified duty ELT being held by a rope and harness over the side by some NUB while doing the periodic swipe of the "special" spot and being absolutely covered with the seaweed that was growing around said "special" hull spot, and wondering how in the hell he's going to deal with the potentially-contaminated seaweed all over the potentially-contaminated ELT.

What RadCon stories make you grin uncontrollably when you think about them? Here's my favorite.