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    Wednesday, July 30, 2008

    Thanks to Cookie and his men!

    Cookie, of CookShack fame, has succeeded in opening the Gregory J Harris Military Courtesy Room at the Syracuse Airport. He has all the details over here. While you're there, send them a couple of bucks.

    Monday, July 28, 2008

    Could we salvage another sub for a museum?

    Remember my post about museum ships? Looks like the Irish want one of their own,

    " For 63 years the Nazi U-boat U778 has lain intact in Irish waters, but if a Northern Ireland politician gets his way it will soon be raised and turned into a tourist attraction as part of efforts to commemorate the city of Londonderry's crucial role in the Battle of the Atlantic."

    More here...

    Kilo replacement continues to struggle

    The Russian's follow-up to the Kilo class, the Lada, has been undergoing sea trials for over two years now, with no firm delivery dates yet.

    Ladas are:
    • Intended for ASUW and ASW (we'll see about that) as well as naval reconnaissance.
    • Significantly quieter than Kilos using anechoic tiles and a skewed propeller. Interior machinery is sound silenced.
    • Equipped with a towed array.
    • Armed, like the Kilos, with six 533mm torpedo tubes, with 18 torpedoes and/or missiles carried.
    • They displace 1,750 tons surfaced and are 220 feet long with a crew of 38.
    • Capable of submerged cruise at a top speed of about 24 knots with a max operating depth around 800 feet.
    • Capable of a max range of 6,000 miles (snorkeling) or about 300 miles submerged on batteries.
    • Going to have an electronic periscope with night vision capability and a laser range finder.
    • Designed to accept an AIP (air independent propulsion) system, but are not fitted with one as of yet.
    • Married with a less complex version, the Amur, being offered for export.
    Read a little more here

    Sunday, July 27, 2008

    Russian Submarine Museum Ship finally raised

    So, the Navy and Army were finally able to raise the Russian museum ship, late of the Soviet Navy, a restaurant, and a Providence, RI museum. The museum says it will not reopen this display.

    Friday, July 25, 2008

    Scorpion, revisited

    Vigilis has a couple of interesting posts (here, and here) on the Scorpion (SSN-589) loss. I confess a particular interest in Scorpion and Thresher (SSN-593) details, since I worked part-time for the office (actually, it was a one man show) which was responsible for declassifying information about radiation from the reactor and Scorpion's two nuclear weapons. In fact, I posted on this back in May, around the anniversary of her loss, when these stories routinely appear.

    The Thresher story is well known, and all submariners know the sweeping changes the loss of that vessel brought to the submarine force, both procedurally in maintenance, and in operations.

    The Scorpion story still remains a mystery, because the pieces have had to be recreated from only the evidence, with no eyewitness (or semi-eyewitness) accounts to guide us.

    Vigilis points to former Houston Chronicle writer Stephen Johnson's account in Silent Steel and other information detailed by Johnson to attempt to lay to rest the theory that Scorpion was sunk by a Soviet torpedo attack. I think Johnson is right to attempt to lay the enemy attack idea to rest. It's a ludicrous thought, for many reasons, detailed in Johnson's Sinking the Myths. While Johnson lays out a case that there was no torpedo explosion, I believe his arguments using the sonar data are more compelling than the debris field. The Board of Inquiry, perhaps swayed by John Craven, felt that the Mark 37 torpedo batteries and the test sets used with the torpedoes were capable of setting off a hot running torpedo, and had, in fact, done this on other submarines. Johnson, and others who don't believe this theory are quick to say that it would be easy to shut down a hot running torpedo. In fact, even with the more modern Mk48 torpedo, a hot running torpedo required quick action by the ship's control party and the torpedo room. My own submarine experience says to me the danger was real and this wasn't a "routine" event, this was that one time occurrence that we all dreaded. I think the fact that the operations compartment was obliterated points to that compartment as the point of explosion.

    We have the Board of Inquiry findings conveniently transcribed for us, here. There are some who disagree with the BOI and their ability to discount the bubble pulse problems with the torpedo detonation. However, the Navy has never really wavered from this theory, that a catastrophic event, likely a torpedo explosion, external to the pressure hull, caused her loss.

    Unfortunately, we'll never know.

    Full Post

    Media Bias, need we say any more on this subject!

    Again, Drudge links us over to another study on media bias, this time, based on contributions from individuals and self-reporting of their employers.

    There are a couple of interesting tidbits, beyond the conclusion that the media supported with their pocketbook, Democrats by a 100:1 ratio.

    Interesting among these are that at Fox, that hotbed of Right-Wing nuts, Dems received $40.7k while Republicans got $0. With that almost $40.7k of donations, Fox was third, trailing NBC ($105k), CBS ($45.5k), and Time ($41k). However, each of those organizations also had employees donate to the GOP (albeit the total was $8.2k).

    I invite all to read my previous post on the Harvard study proving talk radio was less biased than the mainstream media.

    Obamamessiah lampooned

    The London Times (h/t Drudge) has a little fun at the Obamamessiah's expense today. Read this for a good laugh (unfortunately, some people probably think this is true)....

    Monday, July 21, 2008

    Barack and Smoking

    I am on vacation with my family this week, and one of my nephews said something like "Barack Obama smokes," in a decidely derisive way.

    Now, I don't really care where YOU fall on the smoking spectrum (since this blog is about MY opinions), but, I see smoking as one of those last bastions of freedom that have been under assault now for half a century by do-gooders who have decided they know everything that is well and good and, by God, if we would just submit to their will, this would be such a wonderful, perfect, utopia.

    So, what does this have to do with Obama, and what does the fact that Obama is somewhat of a closet smoker, tell us about Obama, and, what do I wish it told me about him?

    Smokers fall into two categories. Those that openly and somewhat proudly smoke, and those that are closet smokers. Usually the latter are addicts who know they are endangering their health, but, they just are addicted and when times of stress come along (or alcohol), they find a compelling need to just light up. However, these people at other times are agonizing over quitting and keep telling themselves and others they are going to quit, yet, they never can work up the will to go completely cold turkey. In their minds, they know that when the going gets tough, they'll resort to their old familiar crutch, and clutch a cigarette for the comfort it gives them. In other words, they are human. Nothing wrong with them, except, for my purposes, I'd prefer they just relent to the reality of the situation - they aren't heavy smokers, they probably aren't putting themselves under much risk, like some who want a stiff drink, or who need other outlets in times of stress, they just find the cigarette somehow comforting - and admit it, they're smokers, they have no intent of quitting completely, and they reserve the right to light up when they damn well please.

    The other category of smokers is much easier to deal with. They're the addicts who already don't give a crap what you think about it. I like this group. They recognize their addiction (they may deny it, but usually their denial includes an "I enjoy smoking" statement), and they aren't stopping, health risks, and the banishment to the outdoors be damned. They're kind of becoming the rugged outdoorsmen of the 21st century, as they congregate in undesirable areas of the corporate campus, or sneak outside during a smoke free meal, or have to watch ball games from the 20x5 foot section on the outside of the stadium (where does one smoke a victory cigar these days?).

    Where does this leave Obama?

    Like many on the Left, Obama knows what his constituency wants - and it does not want him smoking. Smokers are either grungy artists, disinterested politically, or they are part of the great unwashed, bitter, gun-owning far Right. The first group holds an appeal for the Left (but they don't vote) and the second group gets their disdain. Obama belongs in neither, and while I would hope that would scare the Left, unfortunately, even in smoking, he manages to pander to them, acknowledging all the time the health risks and pledging to quit, because, let's face it, it is what they want him to do.

    So, if Obama would say, "Hey, I enjoy a cigarette in my times of stress. I like the 5 minute break to think, and watch the wisps of smoke emanate from my lips as I ponder an important decision," I might even vote for him.

    But, he's not going to say that.

    Wednesday, July 16, 2008

    Hawaii Trip

    With a massive hat tip to Blunoz, who provided lots of guidance on what to do in Hawaii, let me bring everyone up to date on my wife and I's recent vacation to Hawaii. Since we only had really 4 full days and 2 half days, we stayed on Oahu, especially since she had never been there before.

    Since we were using Skymiles for this trip, that kind of defined when we could come and go, so, we left Atlanta on a Friday morning, connected via Newark on Continental, and arrived Friday evening around 6pm. I have to give Continental credit, both flights were on-time and the personal DVD players on their 767 to HNL was much appreciated on the 11hr flight.

    We wanted to stay at the Hale-Koa, but since it was a last-minute planned event, we settled for one of their partner hotels, the Aqua Palms and Spa, just a block away, across from the Hilton Hawaiian Village. The Aqua Palms and Spa is very highly rated on TripAdvisor, and I recommend it. They have great rates for military, rooms are plenty big, and the staff is friendly. It's not a resort, ok?

    So, since we arrived at our hotel around 7pm, we unpacked, listened to the fireworks show at the Hilton (blocked from our view by the new tower going up at the Hilton), then meandered to the Hale-Koa for a late dinner.

    Read more after the jump...

    On Saturday, we were up early and decided to hike up Diamond Head. It's touristy, but, you must do this when you go to Hawaii, and get the postcard shot (as seen in this post). Go early.

    The rest of Saturday was spent at the Hale-Koa pool, then dinner again there (there was quite a bit of drinking by the pool that day). We headed off for an early bedtime thinking we might try to make the sunrise over at Makaapu'u Point the next morning. Well, we actually did get up about 5am for the 5:45 sunrise, and would have made it early,but I got lost, so we were about 5-10 minutes late, arriving at the overlook before the blowhole overlook.

    Unfortunately, this was where we experienced the one rotten event of our vacation. As we played on the rocks at this overlook, some jerk(s), seeing that we had left my wife's purse and our beach towels in the car, decided to break into it and take the $5 cash, the $15 worth of towels a few credit cards (those I didn't have), and her ID's. They really didn't get anything of much value, but, having your stuff stolen by a-holes is just a downer. Needless to say, after filing a report with the Honolulu PD, that day was shot!

    More to come later!

    Tuesday, July 15, 2008

    New submarine names announced;

    The next two Virginia class submarines have their names. They will be the USS Minnesota, and the USS North Dakota. Congrats to the Senators and Congressmen from those staes who arm-twisted the Navy to get this great honor.

    As I was writing this, I realized that there is a currently commissioned ship for every state I have lived in except South Carolina and Massachusetts. Of course, for the bubbleheads out there, most of our (old guys) training pipeline is covered by the USS Florida (SSGN-728), USS Connecticut (SSN-22), and USS New York (LPD-21).

    Most of our home ports are covered by the USS Virginia (SSN-774), USS Hawaii (SSN-776), USS Georgia (SSGN-729), USS California (SSN-781), and the aforementioned USS Connecticut. Of states with submarines home ported there currently, only Washington is lacking a current ship. We need a USS South Carolina to cover all us old guys who were stationed in Charleston, and the current nuke school and prototype kids, and we need a USS Idaho for all you nerds who went to prototype out there (and to make Bubblehead happy).

    So, I have Georgia, North Carolina, Virginia, Connecticut, and Florida and need South Carolina and Massachusetts.

    How about the rest of you?

    Sleeping in airports

    My post on sleeping in airports has started some kind of trend! Now, the International Herald-Tribune has written an article about sleeping in airports, featuring the website sleepinginairports.com, and, a tent made specifically for the airport sleeper. Go figure!

    Sunday, July 13, 2008

    A Rotten Travel Night

    I have had some rotten travel experiences, but tonight is shaping up to be one of the more frustrating ones. As many may know a major storm system is forcing its way across the East Coast today, and this morning, it severely impacted Atlanta (my destination) and tonight it is killing the Northeastern states. As I sit here, my 8:10 flight to Atlanta from Newport News is now delayed to 11:02pm as we await the aircraft to leave Laguardia for PHF. Since it's not off the ground there yet, at 10:21pm, I'd say our chances of making it out of here by 11 are nil.

    Anyway, since it is highly unlikely I will hit Atlanta before the trains stop running (my car is parked in a remote MARTA lot 35 miles from the airport), and I am too cheap to pay $60 for a hotel room, ask my wife to spend 1.5hrs and $30 in gas to come get me, or to pay $50 for a cab ride to my car, I decided to look into sleeping at the Atlanta airport and taking the train at 5am when they start up again (by now, it's looking like I'll only have to kill 4 hrs til then, and hey, I've already been sitting on my butt here for 7 hours, what's 4 more!). So, if you're ever in this same predicament and are lucky enough to have Internet access, check out this web site, Sleeping in Airports. It's chock full of great hints and tips about how to make yourself comfy at an airport and provides lists of the best airports to crash in. Plus, now I know about a whole subculture of people who are too cheap to stay in hotels, and actually use airports as their vacation spots.

    Another great site for tracking flight status is Flightstats.com, which I recommend to use to find out early on whether your flight is hosed or not.

    See how this night ended after the jump...

    Well, the LGA-PHF flight landed about 11pm in Newport News and we had about the quickest turn around I have seen and were in the air to ATL by 11:40. Since I was arguing with my wife not to come get me at 2am at the Atlanta airport, we kind of departed on a sour note. I knew she didn't want to, but she felt compelled to. Personally, I could have slept the 3 or 4 hrs I needed to before the trains resumed at 5am, except....when we landed in Atlanta, you would have thought is was 5pm on Thanksgiving Eve with all the people in the airport, waiting to catch flights still, and in line to get their travel plans completed the next day. My plane was turning around and going back to PHF, the normal 12:15 arrival not due in there until 2:11 by the sign, but since we landed at 1:25, that was unlikely. Can you imagine, arriving in Newport News at about 3am??? Funny.

    Actually, now surveying the airport, there are lots of places for sleeping. A lot of people were taking advantage of the floors alongside the moving walkways between concourses, where it was less crowded, and there were plenty of plugs for laptops. They looked pretty comfy down there. In the concourse, no way. The place was crowded, people were mad, and there was going to be no sleeping there! Had my wife not decided to come get me, I would have headed over to the international terminal to attempt to find some comfy places. Much less crowded, usually, over there.

    So, despite getting hom eat 3:30, it was ok. Anytime you can return home from a trip safely, it's a successful one. 4 hrs of sleep and back to work!

    Leaving the Union, Alaska-style

    Over on Ripley's Porch, there are thoughts of what might happen if Alaska wised up and left the union. It's an interesting thought experiment, and probably nothing more. However, I'd like to see not just Alaska, but a few other states decide to leave the current union, and start their own....


    Another remote controlled submarine by kids...

    What is the deal with all the remote control submarines today? Now, a high school in Palos Verdes has won a competition designing a remote controlled submarine. As a parent of teenager, I like this quote from one of the kids, " “It’s something to do after school. It keeps you away from the parents." I wish my kids would spend their time away from us designing remote controlled submarines.

    No More...

    Just say Nyet to Barack

    Doc MacDonald has a good post today about Barack Obama and his latest pandering to the Hispanic lobby. If you haven't heard it by now, Barack has suggested that we need to be more like the Europeans in our second language capabilities. Actually, Barack wants us to learn Spanish, not French, or German, or Italian, or anything that would actually serve us well in most of Europe (guess I should add Arabic there!).

    See the video of Barack's comments here, to see for yourself

    Anyway, some of my thoughts are:
    1. Barack fared very poorly with Hispanic voters in the D primaries, so as with all the other classes of voters he dissed during the primary season (gun owners, the military, anti-terrorists, churchgoers), he must start pandering to those groups now - and this is just another example. It doesn't help him that McCain actually polls fairly well (for a nominal Republican) among Hispanics.
    2. In his comments, he says, "When Europeans come here, they all know English." To which I say - don't we already speak English? Isn't the fact that those sophisticated Europeans are learning English evidence enough that English is the language of the free world?
    3. He also makes a statement that we should not be "worried" about immigrants learning English, because "they'll learn English." To which I reply - Barack, if we make it easy for immigrants from Mexico and Central America to NOT learn English, then they will not hasten to learn English, and we will not have rapid assimilation, and we will see the balkanization of the United States, as we already are.
    4. I don't know what Barack learned about cultural assimilation in all that fancy college education he received, but he obviously doesn't understand that a common language is vital to a culture's and a nation's survival. We can not have "E Pluribus Unum" with every ethnic group doing business in their own language. It is for this reason that we MUST make English the official language of this country for business, and the government can press that issue by requiring all government forms and business transactions to be conducted in English. No more duplicate forms in Spanish. If businesses want to appeal to Hispanics by doing it, so be it - that's a business decision, driven by the profit motive, but official, government communications should be in English only.
    5. I have no problem if we decide as a country that we need to bring in 2M or 5M or 10M immigrants a year, the bulk of them from Mexico, if that is what we need in our labor pool. But, let's do it under some sense of order and seek rapid assimilation, and the fastest way to do that is to push hard for them to learn our language.
    6. Incidentally, the Barack campaign seems proud of the fact that their videos feature Spanish captioning.
    No more...

    Saturday, July 12, 2008

    Italians come to Mayport to play in JTFEX

    The Italians are here to provide some services to us on the East Coast (JTFEX, some submarine exercises), while RIMPAC proceeds out West. The Salvatore Todaro pulled in to Mayport this week. It's the Italians first visit to US waters since WW2. Wonder what happened to them then?

    Here's a nice video of the Italian's new submarine after the jump...

    Unmanned submarine makes trans-Atlantic trip...

    There really is a Yellow Submarine, and it is unmanned, remote controlled, and heading for Spain. This device, built by Rutgers University and sponsored by NOAA. It uses ocean currents to make forward progress and is basically a moving BT.

    Sunday, July 6, 2008

    Georgia Senate Race - Jim Martin on Environment

    Jim Martin is a democrat running for the Georgia U.S. Senate seat held by Saxby Chambliss. From his commercials and web site, he seems to be running a traditional Anti-Bush, left-wing candidacy, which is probably why the Atlanta Journal-Constitution has endorsed him.

    Anyway, you can see his view on energy policy here (pretty much standard Dem fare), and if my reply is not approved, you can read it here:

    "Can you provide some comparison statistics for how many windmills and what would have to happen to replace the energy produced by a single coal powered plant with wind-energy? What will this do to the aesthetics on the Georgia coastline?

    You mention NOTHING about nuclear power in this piece, which is the greenest, most efficient way to bring power to homes, and minimize greenhouse gases. What is your policy on this technology? If you are confident that we can replace power from fossil fuels with renewables, are you now also confident that we can generate power from nuclear efficiently, and safely?

    You claim in a recent commercial that oil companies are "gouging" Americans and that you will end this? Where is your evidence that price gouging is even occuring by oil companies? When state and local governments take over $0.45 from each gallon of gas, while oil companies may take $0.30, who is doing the gouging? What abotu producers, largely located in nations generally unfriendly to us? I find it disconcerting that an industry that provides (already) good, high-paying jobs is demonized, while our "friends" in the Middle East, Venezuela, and elsewhere, get a pass from you. Meanwhile, you tout biofuels, who's increased production is leading to massively higher food costs, famine, and actually even more greenhouse gases, as some kind of wonderful green nirvana.

    Mr. Martin- you have the opportunity, particularly as a Democrat in Georgia, to carve a niche for yourself that differs from the standard Pelosi-Reid party line. It's a shame that you won't take the chance to prove that you have your own brain."


    Indians hard at work

    The Indians look to finally be getting some of the military hardware they have been trying to buy from the Russians. First, it appears the deal to get an Akula SSN is going through, and perhaps the Indians can take delivery as soon as 2009.

    While it looks to take a little longer still (2012), the deal for the Adm Gorshkov aircraft carrier (nominally) appears to at least be back in negotiations, with the Indians being asked to shell out an additional $2B to get it completed. While the Indians talk of purchasing the USS Kitty Hawk didn't get them a lower price on the Gorshkov, perhaps it motivated the Russians to at least get moving.

    Tuesday, July 1, 2008

    Hope in Baghdad

    You have to go to the BBC to get a decent report on the fact that hope is returning to the streets of Baghdad, thanks to the Coalition finally exercising a winning counterinsurgency strategy.

    Oh, the audacity of those Iraqis. Now, if only Obama can return hope to America, the world will be a far, far better place...