29 April 2008

Hot for Words

Marina was on the factor. She seems to be smitten with Bill, and he with she. Wonder why.

25 April 2008

Saluting the US WWII sub force on ANZAC Day

From the NZ Herald:
On Anzac Day thoughts turn to those who gave their lives during various
wars over the last century. But there is one group which has never been given
recognition for what they achieved in World War II and that is the United States
submariners, 3505 of whom lost their lives, including 374 officers.
When one
analyses what they achieved there is no doubt they did more than any other group
to defeat the Japanese and save Australia and New Zealand from being

VCJCS speaks about new SSBN

Global Security Newswire has a strange lede on a story about Navy plans to replace retiring Trident SSBNs. The initial thrust of the article is about whether to mix load (strategic and conventional missile on same ship) or to build two different ships (SSBN and SSGN like we now have). This has been debated before in congress with OSD's proposed Conventional Trident Modification that hasn't really gotten off the drawing board.

But midway through the article the theme shifts to discussing plans to replace the Tridents twenty years from now.

Each of the submarine replacements would cost roughly $7 billion, measured
in 2009 dollars, senior analyst Eric Labs of the Congressional Budget Office
said in House testimony last month.

The service has not offered its own cost estimate for the program, saying a price tag is nearly impossible to pin down before additional design details have been determined. However, this is a departure from past practice in which the Navy has offered early estimates for other future ships, naval affairs specialist Ronald O’Rourke of the Congressional Research Service testified alongside Labs.

Given the competition for resources in the defense budget and an already costly long-term shipbuilding budget, it could be that the Navy “just didn’t want to scare the bejesus out of us” with a huge price tag, one congressional staffer said this week.

Probably a good call there.

There is a positive sign from the hill, however:
To date, there has been little debate about whether a new submarine should be
developed and built, according to experts.

“I have seen no indications that anyone would oppose this next-generation SSBN,” one congressional staffer said this week. Instead, the source said, discussion has been focused on one question: “When are we going to get started?”

15 April 2008

Victor Davis Hanson on the Obama gaff

From Works and Days:
What is really tragic is that successful African-Americans, who have had it far rougher than the Obamas—a Condoleeza Rice, Colin Power, Clarence Thomas, Tiger Woods—excel in American society and really do transcend race. And yet white elite leftish America senses that such talents don’t need liberals’ permission and ratification, and so don’t do anything for their own left-wing guilt.
As usual, the whole post is great. Obama is our European candidate (not Manchurian like HRC). And the Orwellian speak analysis of the two versions of the Obama Pennsylvania quote.

11 April 2008

Michael Yon - 'Let's Surge Some More'

Final paragraph:
Over the past 15 months, we have proved that we can win this war. We stand now at the moment of truth. Victory – and a democracy in the Arab world – is within our grasp. But it could yet slip away if our leaders remain transfixed by the war we almost lost, rather than focusing on the war we are winning today.
Read the whole thing.

10 April 2008

45th Anniversary Of The Loss Of USS Thresher

Rear Admiral Thomas Eccles, NAVSEA 07

Forty-five years ago today, on April 10, 1963, while engaged in a deep test dive, USS THRESHER (SSN 593) was lost at sea with 129 Officers and men on board. Based on the findings of a Court of Inquiry and the Joint Congressional Committee on Atomic Energy hearings into the loss, it was concluded that a flooding casualty in the engine room, resulting from a piping failure in one of the seawater systems, was the most probable cause of the loss.

From this tragic event, the Submarine Safety (SUBSAFE) Program was established on December 20, 1963 to ensure implementation of recommendations resulting from findings of the THRESHER Court of Inquiry and THRESHER Design Appraisal Board. Today, the technical and administrative requirements of the SUBSAFE Program continue to evolve, and the most current are contained in the Submarine Safety Requirements Manual, NAVSEA 0924-062-0010 Revision C.

Simply stated, the purpose of the SUBSAFE Program is to provide maximum reasonable assurance that seawater is kept out of the submarine and that the submarine and crew can recover if there is a seawater casualty.

Our challenge today, 45 years after the loss of USS THRESHER, is to maintain the standards established by the SUBSAFE Program and to avoid ignorance, arrogance, and complacency.
The culture of the SUBSAFE Program needs to be continually reinforced at all levels of our community. The rigorous compliance with SUBSAFE requirements and attention to detail begin with design and extend through every aspect of construction, maintenance, and operations. The ability of our submarines to continue to operate successfully and return home depends on the vigilance and integrity of each one of us who works in this community. The ability of USS NEWPORT NEWS (SSN 750) and USS SAN FRANCISCO (SSN 711) to survive collisions at sea and to return home is testimony to the success of the SUBSAFE Program and the training of the personnel who operate our ships.

Recent findings regarding weld wire problems at a new construction shipyard with a long-standing successful submarine construction history demonstrate the need to be forever vigilant, particularly on well-established programs. We must continually re-examine our established practices and processes to ensure that we are doing the right things the right way. Every aspect of everything that we do needs to be approached with an attitude of “trust but verify.”

Our outstanding submarine safety record since THRESHER is a direct result of rigorous compliance with the technical and administrative requirements of the SUBSAFE Program. This success has not gone unnoticed. The Columbia Accident Investigation Board used the SUBSAFE Program as a model of an organization that successfully operates a high-risk program.
We must continue to maintain our vigilance, intensity, and integrity in all matters involving the SUBSAFE Program. The supreme sacrifice of those lost with USS THRESHER can best be remembered by never letting it happen again.


USS THRESHER (SSN 593)...Let us pause today to remember.

07 April 2008

Terry Lee - geek humor on Youtube

Unlikely support for submarine construction

Wired.com blogs seem to be supporting the recent push by Congress to increase submarine production to two per year.
Then why subs at all? Because, despite the best efforts of naval technologists over the past 100 years, submarines are still by far the most powerful seaborne weapons ever developed. Nothing's better for winning a full-scale sea war. Need proof? See here and here. Forget $5-billion DDG-1000 battleships . Submarines rule the waves.

For once, there's good news. Nearly every other aspect of Pentagon weapons-buying might be spinning out of control and piling on cost, but submarines construction is actually going remarkably well. Our brand-new, super-powerful Virginia-class attack boats are on-time, on-budget (around $2 billion per copy) and getting cheaper.
Couldn't have said it better. Nice to see the general public onboard.

03 April 2008

What the frack?

Better study up before tomorrow night.

02 April 2008

Secret programs through patches

An amateur military historian has written a book about black programs that has an interesting approach. He did a good bit of social engineering to acquire the unit patches from these test squadrons and skunkworks type programs. Then tried to interpret them and tie them to budget program elements. The NYT has a profile, with a gallery of patches.

I think he's off base where he alludes to this secret language embedded in the pictorial elements in the patches. More likely, the individuals came from the same slightly geeky, well read, middle class upbringing.