March 02, 2008

Thinking Of You

I saw this over at Wizbang, and it's appearing elsewhere as well. Here's a snippet to explain:

Historically, spring is a time of heavy fighting in this region [of Afghanistan] as the terrorists and insurgents emerge from their caves after the harsh winter temperatures and snows. Let's show these Soldiers how much support they have from home to help them through the spring and the remainder of this long and dangerous deployment.

Our paratroopers are in the fight of their lives and they need to hear that America loves them.

Please send an email of support to

Or you can mail cards to:

Leta Carruth
P O Box 100
Cordova, TN 38088

It only takes a minute to say thank you.

Posted by Ted at 10:22 AM | Comments (38) | TrackBack

June 21, 2007

News From Iraq: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

If you aren't reading Michael Yon, you should be. He's been embedded in Iraq for quite some time now and writing about what he sees.

About the current big operation going on:

The enemy in Baqubah is as good as any in Iraq, and better than most. Thats saying a lot. But our guys have been systematically trapping them, and have foiled some big traps set for our guys. I dont want to say much more about that, but our guys are seriously outsmarting them. Big fights are ahead and we will take serious losses probably, but al Qaeda, unless they find a way to escape, are about to be slaughtered. Nobody is dropping leaflets asking them to surrender. Our guys want to kill them, and thats the plan.

A positive indicator on the 19th and the 20th is that most local people apparently are happy that al Qaeda is being trapped and killed. Civilians are pointing out IEDs and enemy fighters, so thats not working so well for al Qaeda.

Unvarnished truth about civilian casualties, access to information and the daily lives of coalition troops in Iraq. From the point, not from inside the Green Zone.

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March 09, 2007

Dredging Up A Little History

The Llama Butchers note that today is the anniversary of the battle between the Monitor and the Virginia (aka Merrimac). That rang a bell, faintly, and I recalled a post I made way back on the history of ironclads in the US Navy. There were more of them than you realize.

Posted by Ted at 10:50 AM | Comments (0)

February 28, 2007

You Can't Hit What You Can't See

At least, that's what they used to say, now you can't even hit what you can see.

"I can't see the [expletive deleted] thing," said RAAF Squadron Leader Stephen Chappell, exchange F-15 pilot in the 65th Aggressor Squadron. "It won't let me put a weapons system on it, even when I can see it visually through the canopy. [Flying against the F-22] annoys the hell out of me."

Your tax dollars at work, and apparently delivering what was promised.

Thanks to QandO for the pointer.

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November 25, 2006


US Navy Ceremonial Guard Drill Team (YouTube video).

Thanks to Murdoc for this wonderful pointer.

Posted by Ted at 09:52 AM | Comments (1)

August 08, 2006

Silent Thunder

The company that is acting as general contractor for our kitchen remodeling project is also doing this memorial.

Posted by Ted at 05:27 AM | Comments (0)

June 19, 2006

Finding Fathers

Nancy Kenney was 2 years old when she last saw her father. He never returned from his final mission aboard the submarine USS Lagarto during WWII. The boat was lost with all hands in the Gulf of Thailand in May, 1945. The wreckage was rediscovered only last year.

Navy divers on Friday completed a six-day survey of the wreckage site. They took photos and video of the 311-foot, 9-inch submarine for further analysis by naval archeologists.

The divers found twin 5-inch gun mounts on the forward and rear parts of the ship - a feature believed to be unique to the Lagarto.

They also saw the word "Manitowoc" displayed on the submarine's propeller, providing a connection to the Manitowoc, Wis., shipyard that built the Lagarto in the 1940s.

Eighty-six sailors died when the Lagarto sank in May 1945. The Japanese minelayer Hatsutaka reported dropping depth charges and sinking a U.S. sub in the area, though it was never known what ship it destroyed.

Ms. Kenney is relieved and at peace, because after 60 years she now knows where her father rests.

The Navy considers the sea to be a proper final resting place for "our people who are killed in action," according to a Navy spokesman. The wreck will not be disturbed.

That's one heck of a Father's Day present.

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May 29, 2006


My thanks go out today to every man and woman who has ever worn the uniform.

My grandfather served in WWI.

My great uncle served in WWII. This is the citation from his Medal of Honor:


Rank and organization: Sergeant, U.S. Army, Company M, 329th Infantry, 83d Infantry Division. Place and date: Birgel, Germany, 14 December 1944. Entered service at: Glidden, Iowa. Birth: Willey, Iowa. G.O. No.: 77, 10 September 1945. Citation: He was leader of a machinegun squad defending an approach to the village of Birgel, Germany, on 14 December 1944, when an enemy tank, supported by 20 infantrymen, counterattacked. He held his fire until the Germans were within 100 yards and then raked the foot soldiers beside the tank killing several of them. The enemy armor continued to press forward and, at the pointblank range of 30 yards, fired a high-velocity shell into the American emplacement, wounding the entire squad. Sgt. Neppel, blown 10 yards from his gun, had 1 leg severed below the knee and suffered other wounds. Despite his injuries and the danger from the onrushing tank and infantry, he dragged himself back to his position on his elbows, remounted his gun and killed the remaining enemy riflemen. Stripped of its infantry protection, the tank was forced to withdraw. By his superb courage and indomitable fighting spirit, Sgt. Neppel inflicted heavy casualties on the enemy and broke a determined counterattack.

He passed away in 1987. He was named "Handicapped Iowan of the Year" in 1970, and in 1989 the VA honored him by naming a wing of the Iowa City VA Hospital for him. A VFW post in Carroll, Iowa continues to award to scholarships each year in his name to the children of veterans.

My Dad was in the Air Force during the Korean conflict. He wasn't in-theater, and was medically retired after a devastating illness.

On my wife's side of the family, I know that Liz's Dad was a Marine, and at least two of her uncles served in Vietnam and made the Air Force their career.

Our son served a tour in the US Navy on the submarine USS Philadelphia. That boat is specially equipped to deliver special forces, and although he can't and won't say, I believe that they were directly involved in the initial stages of the Iraq invasion.

Finally, I'll include Shaun. Shaun has served two tours in Iraq with the US Army, and is the son of a friend that I served with during my Air Force days in Germany.

Thank you all.

Previous memorial posts on Rocket Jones can be found here and here.

Posted by Ted at 12:05 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

April 05, 2006

Oooooooooo, I'm scared

Those goofy Iranians.

First they test fire their best missile. Then they claim they've got a sooper-dooper torpedo that acts just like the one they bought from the Russians (those same Russians who quit using it because it tends to malfunction in an entertainingly cataclismic manner). So what do they roll out next?

The Stealth Heliboat. Or something like that.

Or something like this!

Posted by Ted at 11:24 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 24, 2006

Girls with Guns

More pictures of women in the military than you can empty a magazine at. Safe for work, but definitely not boring.

Thanks to the Jawa Report for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 06:05 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 18, 2006


Uncle Sam does, and he's had it for half a century now.

Happy 50th Birthday to the B52 Stratofortress
. One seriously bad mofo.

Thanks to Transterrestrial Musings for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 07:22 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 29, 2005

Tuskegee Airmen Vets Visit Namesake Unit in Iraq

This is awe-inspiring.

More than 60 years after the formation of a pioneering group of black pilots known as the Tuskegee Airmen, three of its aging members visited their former unit in Balad, a city just north of Baghdad.

"This is the new Air Force, this is the Air Force that represents America, all of it. It is not an organization of African American pilots trying to break the segregation system - they have done it," Lt. Col. Lee Archer, 85, said Friday in a telephone interview from Balad, where the 332 Expeditionary Air Wing is based.

Col. Archer is America's first black Ace from World War II.

Archer, of New York City, said the new unit "reflects the entire image of America. In that dining room was everything that makes America what it is: black, white, Asian, Pacific islanders, people from different parts of Europe. This is what America is."

He was one of three original Tuskegee Airmen in Balad. Archer was accompanied by retired Tech. Sgt. George Watson Sr., 85, from New Jersey and Master Sgt. James A. Shepherd, 81, from Maine. The visit was arranged by Air Force officials to link the legacy of the Tuskegee Airmen with a new generation.

Of the many things that the United States military does well, possibly the most underappreciated by the civilian world is how it quietly emphasizes the historical significance of the various units to it's warriors. You can bet that this reminder of the 332nd's beginnings has boosted morale even higher and subtly pointed out that the men and women in that unit have a mighty big legacy to live up to. By all accounts, they are.

Read more about the Tuskegee Airmen here.

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September 09, 2005

Naval Gazing

I've written before about the US Navy's new destroyer, known as DD(X). It's slated to replace the Arleigh Burke class of destroyers, which had replaced the WWII era Spruance class. As you can see, the US doesn't churn out lots of new ship designs.

But the DD(X) is more than a mere upgrade, it's a massive leap forward in technology and capability. Incorporating stealth technology, it's designed for littoral as well as deep water combat.

DD(X) is designed to be the quietest surface ship in the fleet. The ship will be quieter even than the Los Angeles class submarines.

It's sneaky.

DD(X) will employ a first of its kind Peripheral Vertical Launch System (PVLS). Missiles are typically stored in clusters at the center of a ship. PVLS, by moving those clusters to the hull, will provide the ship with something reminiscent of the reactive armor fitted to the M1A2 Abrams main battle tank. The PVLS concept has already been successfully tested, and will make this ship significantly less vulnerable to sea-skimming missiles.

It's harder to hurt.

Each 155mm gun will fire a Long Range Land Attack Projectile (LRLAP). The LRLAP has already been successfully tested to 83 nautical miles. Though it only carries 24 lbs of high explosives, the Advanced Gun System (AGS) is fully automated and holds a magazine of 300 rounds. With a rate of fire of 10 rounds a minute, the AGS should be able to provide the volume fire capability the Navy so desperately needs, and with GPS-guidance the LRLAP will be extremely accurate.

It can hit targets at long range. But how accurate can it really be at those ranges?

Tests have shown the guns accurate to within two meters at a range of 68 nautical miles.

Make sure you let the gunner know which corner of that executive desk you want to hit.

But wait, the DD(X) only has two guns, and each gun only firing once every 6 seconds, that's not much of a heavy punch.

...each gun will be capable of putting up to eight rounds on a target simultaneously. To achieve this effect, shells will be fired in rapid succession at different trajectories.

Lob one, aim lower, lob one, aim lower, lob one, aim lower, and so on. And they all hit the target at the same time. Sixteen booms. Isn't that four batteries of artillery?

The gun magazines can also be reloaded at sea and while the gun is firing. Oh, and those shells cost 1/20th of what a cruise missile costs.

The crew is half the size of the current DDG class, which will also offer up significant savings over the life of each vessel. The first two are scheduled to be active by 2012. These look to be sweet additions to the fleet, plus, future improvements are already being accounted for.

The Navy hopes to fit these ships with an electromagnetic rail gun by 2020. The rail gun would be capable of firing a guided projectile up to 267 nautical miles, which would put all of North Korea into range from either coast of that peninsula (or, to take another theoretical example, allow the Navy to bombard Paris from the English Channel).

DD(X), coming soon to a shore near you.

Thanks to Robert the Llama Butcher for the pointer. He's got more links at his place too.

Posted by Ted at 12:11 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

September 06, 2005

Submarine, Cargo Vessel collide

The submarine USS Philadelphia (the boat my son served on) was cruising on the surface at about 2am (local) when they hit a Turkish cargo ship in the gulf off the coast of Bahrain. Damage to both was described as superficial and there were no injuries.

But there's a Captain who's gonna lose his ass.

Posted by Ted at 05:58 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 19, 2005

US Warship targeted by missile

The headlines I'm seeing are rather misleading. The "missile" being talked about is the Russian-designed Katyusha rocket.


It's not insignificant, but as weapons go it's not very large either. They are unguided, medium-range weapons (~12 miles), perfect for harrassment and interdiction fire (the Russians load them onto truck-mounted launchers and fire them in salvos of five to twenty or more.

They can be purchased on the black market for about a thousand dollars each.

They can carry chemical weapons.

To see the threat that these rockets pose to Isreal, here's a map that clearly shows the areas that are in range of Katyusha's fired from within the Palestinian areas.

It must be borne in mind that Hezbollah has acquired its own strategic deterrent capability against Israel by means of long-range Katyusha rockets which can hit targets from the northern border area of Israel almost down to Haifa Bay. -- Ha'aretz, 26 May, 14 July 2000

Cheap and simple weapons can be incredibly cost effective when their proper use is understood.

Posted by Ted at 06:14 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

August 02, 2005

Underwater Warfare

Murdoc provides a pointer to an interesting article about littoral combat (shallow water or close inshore) and the ability of the US submarine fleet to do so. The author makes some good points about the current situation happening between China and Taiwan.

Without giving away too much, "battlespace dominance" against an identified threat such as China invading Taiwan begins long before any shooting ever starts, by the key task for SSNs of "waterspace preparation." This involves missions of the types listed above, into extremely shallow waters for prolonged periods, to study in great detail hydrography, map seabed wrecks, measure local acoustic propagation characteristics (which includes background noise from sources such as oil drilling/pumping platforms, coastal industrial activity, even heavy freight train movements!), also to quantify water transparency, find spots likely to make good enemy minefield locations before mines are ever laid, and using all these different parameters note possible ideal lurking places for enemy diesel subs before those subs have a chance to deploy. Signals intercept antennas are raised for long periods while at periscope depth to monitor and map enemy coastal defense sites, learn the location and organizational structure of various hostile units and headquarters, quantify characteristics of radars so that they can be most effectively spoofed and jammed in time of war, and so on.

All prudent and sensible actions to take when preparing for conflict, but not things that the average person would consider. Which is exactly why we have a military, so that professionals can think about things like this and make sure that they get done before the shit hits the fan.

It's a good read. Recommended.

PS. I knew there was some talk of unmanned underwater vehicles, but I had no idea that things were as advanced as is briefly mentioned in the article. Wow.

Posted by Ted at 11:52 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 23, 2005

Google is your friend (part whatever)

I was commenting on a post below and suggested a google of "RATO packs". Being the curious george sort, I went ahead and took my own advice and lo and behold, lookie what I found:

(caption from 3rd photo down on the page)

Prowler just lifting off from STO launch using RATO pack with AeroTech™ M2500 motor and Aero Pack RA98 retainer.

The M2500 of which they speak is a popular Level 3 certification motor. That's right, we hobbty rocketeers get to play with military-grade propellants, or maybe it's the military that gets to play with consumer-grade rocketry motors.

Posted by Ted at 09:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

July 16, 2005

Typical, in so many ways

From QandO:

During a routine patrol in Baghdad June 2, Army Pfc. Stephen Tschiderer, a medic, was shot in the chest by an enemy sniper, hiding in a van just 75 yards away. The incident was filmed by the insurgents.

Tschiderer, with E Troop, 101st "Saber" Cavalry Division, attached to 3rd Battalion, 156th Infantry Regiment, 256th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, was knocked to the ground from the impact, but he popped right back up, took cover and located the enemy's position.

After tracking down the now-wounded sniper with a team from B Company, 4th Battalion, 1st Iraqi Army Brigade, Tschiderer secured the terrorist with a pair of handcuffs and gave medical aid to the terrorist who'd tried to kill him just minutes before.

They've got a link to the video too.

Posted by Ted at 10:33 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

June 23, 2005

Military Bling

From Dale Franks at Q & O, a very nice presentation of military insignia, selectable by branch of service.

Posted by Ted at 04:33 AM | Comments (0)

June 15, 2005

Big Ugly Flying Fu... Fellow

Murdoc has the scoop on the latest electronic upgrade to the venerable B52 Stratofortress. In my opinion, the BUFF is easily the best military bomber of all time, and arguably the most successful aircraft of any type.

I spent many an hour walking in circles around one of these beasties in North Dakota.

Posted by Ted at 11:44 AM | Comments (0)

June 13, 2005

Fallen Heroes Memorial

Recently at Mookie's high school, they held a ceremony to dedicate a new memorial. Gar-Field High School has lost two alumni in Iraq, and another school in our county, Hylton High, lost two more, including one last week. I've heard that there is another one or two from other schools, but I don't have any solid information about that.

The write-up was in the local paper, but because I'm not confident that their links will last for any length of time, I've reprinted almost the entire article in the extended entry (click below on "light this candle...").

One interesting note. I've heard that while setting up this memorial, a search was made for similar things done at other schools. Apparently, their research turned up the fact that no school has dedicated a permanent Memorial to the military since midway through the Vietnam War. This was attributed to the fact that wartime memorials fell out of favor at that time because of the general anti-war and anti-military feelings of the public. Take that with a grain of salt, because although I thought it interesting enough to mention, it's all second-and-third-hand information.

In any case, I'm very proud of the school for doing this. Mookie and Robyn were at the dedication, and they said it was a moving and emotional event. Pictures of the memorial will be posted in the next day or two (assuming Rachael gets a few moments between classes).

Gar-Field honors fallen graduates

Amanda Stewart
Potomac News
Friday, June 3, 2005

It was a time for community, shared memories and some tears.
Students, parents, teachers and other members of the community gathered Thursday at Gar-Field Senior High School in Woodbridge for the dedication of the school's new Fallen Heroes Memorial.

The memorial honors the three Gar-Field graduates who died while serving in the military: class of 2002 graduates Brian Medina and David Ruhren, who died in Iraq, and class of 1968 graduate Richard Yates, who died in Vietnam.

The dedication ceremony was a time for teachers, students, family members and others touched by the lives of the soldiers to remember them.

"Though separated by several decades, each in their own way answered the call of their country and gave the ultimate sacrifice," said Bill Willis, physics teacher and chair of the Gar-Field Memorial Committee.

The memorial contains three plaques bearing soldiers' names and pictures under the words "Honoring Through Remembrance."

"The greatest reward for teachers is to make a difference in a student's life," Willis said. "This memorial is our way of thanking our students for making a difference in our lives."

Yates was killed in action in South Vietnam in 1969. Willis spoke on Yates's behalf at the ceremony.

Yates was eager to do his part and serve his country in the Vietnam War, Willis said.

"Even though it's been 35 years, it's never too late to say thank you," he said.

Brian Medina was killed in action in Fallujah in November.

His father, Greg Medina, spoke on his behalf at the ceremony.

Like many other soldiers, Medina was proud to enter the Marine Corps after graduation, Greg Medina said. Medina looked forward to going to Iraq and serving his country there, his father said.

David Ruhren was killed in a mess hall tent bombing in Mosul in December.

His mother, Sonja Ruhren, wrote a letter to him which Willis read at the ceremony.

Ruhren was also proud to join the Army after graduation. Sonja Ruhren recalled the special relationship she had with her son and the plans he had for his future, she said in her letter.

The ceremony ended with the unveiling of the memorial which will remain on display in the school.

At the ceremony's closing, the Junior ROTC folded a flag that was flown over the American Embassy in Iraq in honor of Medina and Ruhren and placed it at the memorial.

The school's choir and band also performed.

In his closing remarks, Willis stressed the importance of remembering not only the soldiers who lost their lives in combat, but also those who continue to serve the country today.

"We should never forget those who serve at this moment, in distant places," Willis said.

Yates, the young man who was killed in Vietnam, was a crewmember on a medivac helicopter. After loading wounded onto his aircraft, he jumped back out to gather their personal gear and was shot in the back while climbing back inside. He died during the flight back to the medical facility.

Posted by Ted at 05:04 AM | Comments (1)

May 27, 2005

Possible Motive

Iraqi forces have announced that they'll be establishing a cordon around Bagdhad before conducting security sweeps. Like a lot of folks, my first reaction was to question why would you announce something like that?

Thinking about it, I wouldn't be surprised if they're hoping that the terrorists (screw that misapplied "insurgent" label) make some conspicuous movements in response. Right now, a lot of Iraqi citizens are sick and tired of the bad guys inflicting civilian casualties. There might be some very directed action taking place thanks to tips provided by the locals.

Posted by Ted at 07:53 PM | Comments (1)

May 13, 2005

Ouch, if this is correct (updated)

The Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) list has reportedly been leaked, and there are some surprises.

Fort Belvoir, Virginia is on the list.

Grand Forks AFB, North Dakota is on the list.

Redstone Arsenal, Alabama is on the list.

Belvoir is local to where I live, and I spent five winters in Grand Forks (you can read the stories here). Redstone is steeped in history in regards to American space programs.

Like I said, if the leaked list is accurate... ouch.

UPDATE: The list as originally linked to above is not very accurate. For instance, Redstone Arsenal is indeed on the final list, but not for closure. It will actually be growing as personnel from other organizations are transferred there.

Likewise, Grand Forks is not closing, but will lose over 2,600 personnel in realignment.

My third example, Fort Belvoir will actually gain 11,000+ people.

Exit polls and leaked reports, you just can't trust 'em. Here's the official list (.pdf format).

Thanks to Wizbang for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 06:12 AM | Comments (3)

March 21, 2005

WWII Japanese Submarine Discovered

This isn't some little mini-sub either.

The submarine is from the I-400 Sensuikan Toku class of subs, the largest built before the nuclear ballistic missile submarines of the 1960s.

They were 400 feet long and nearly 40 feet high and could carry a crew of 144. The submarines were designed to carry three "fold-up" bombers that could be assembled for flight within minutes.

The story says that the wreckage was discovered near Pearl Harbor, and also mentions that two of the type were deliberately scuttled near Pearl after the war because the Russians were demanding access to them for study. What isn't clear is whether this is one of the deliberately sunk boats or an actual war casualty.

An I-400 and I-401 were captured at sea a week after the Japanese surrendered in 1945. Their mission — which was never completed — reportedly was to use the aircraft to drop rats and insects infected with bubonic plague, cholera, typhus and other diseases on U.S. cities.

When the bacteriological bombs could not be prepared in time, the mission was reportedly changed to bomb the Panama Canal.

More here.

Posted by Ted at 05:57 AM | Comments (3)

March 14, 2005

Testing to destruction

The decommisioned aircraft carrier USS America will be the target of an extensive series of attacks in tests to see just how much damage our modern carriers can absorb.

Murdoc has details and links.

Posted by Ted at 04:34 AM | Comments (1)

February 13, 2005

Twelve feet deep

The ship is a catamaran that weighs one thousand tons, is almost as long as a football field, and can carry two helicopters. It's also able to operate in water as shallow as twelve feet.

That's the new Sea Fighter, which is a small-scale concept ship being tested right now. Techniques and technologies learned from Sea Fighter will be applied to the Navy's next-generation Littoral Combat Ship. The US Coast Guard is participating in the test program as well, because Sea Fighter might just become their new standard coastal patrol craft.

Murdoc Online has pictures and links.

Posted by Ted at 08:35 AM | Comments (0)

February 10, 2005

Serving at the convenience of Uncle Sam

A common misconception among those who've never served in the military is that when you sign a contract to enlist, that the time to be served is stated in that contract. It's not. What you sign up for is the minimum time you promise to serve, and that the length of service ends only when the military says you can go.

This isn't a secret and it isn't hidden in the fine print. It's made plain and clear right up front before you sign on the line. I have no sympathy for those bozo's who sued the Government because their term of service was extended.

Eight soldiers either serving in Iraq or en route to Iraq, asked a judge to order the Army to release them from service immediately.

Instead, U.S. District Judge Royce C. Lamberth for the District of Columbia said the enlistment contract does notify those who sign up that the government could extend their terms of service.

Got that exactly right. Yes, it can be a hardship, but if it happens, there's no way you can claim that you weren't warned about the possibility.

Thanks to California Yankee for the pointer. He's got a link to the whole article.

Posted by Ted at 07:46 PM | Comments (1)

January 31, 2005

USS San Francisco and her valiant crew

If you've been visiting Rocket Jones for a while you already know that my son is home after serving in the US Navy. You also know that he was a crewman on an attack sub, the USS Philadelphia.

That boat is the sister ship to the USS San Francisco, which just had the high-speed run-in with an uncharted underwater mountain. The crew performed bravely and heroically and managed to save their boat. That scenario was my worst nightmare as a parent, and I'm thankful that the accident wasn't worse.

A.E. Brain has been keeping up with this, with pictures and news, both before and after. Plenty of links too. Please, follow those links and be horrified at the damage sustained and be amazed at the ability of the crew to maintain and make it home again.

The training and professionalism of the US military is second to none, although we tend to hear most often of the Army and Marines. The tsunami-relief efforts of our carrier groups got some attention lately, but the actions of the crew on board the San Francisco demonstrates that the Navy, like the other branches of our armed forces, are second to none.

Posted by Ted at 12:01 PM | Comments (4)

January 13, 2005

If you're going to bump into something...

Last week it was reported that the attack sub USS San Fransisco was returning to harbor after a mishap while underway. One sailor was dead and more than twenty were injured, some seriously.

Interested Participant has links to updated information, and it looks like the initial reports were understated.

The USS San Francisco hit an uncharted undersea mountain "incredibly hard" and, contrary to a previously reported 23, about 60 crew members were injured. The submarine was traveling at high speed when it hit, sustaining significant bow damage which caused flooding in the sonar dome and ballast tanks.

New reports indicate the collision slowed the boat from a speed of 30 knots to about 4 knots almost instantly. I can't even imagine how the crew felt as they fought to save their boat.

Posted by Ted at 05:43 AM | Comments (0)

January 08, 2005

Silent Service 1

This was posted back in July of 2003 at my old Blogspot site and inexplicably never made it over during the migration to Munu. I'll repost it here and now pretty much as it originally appeared.

We got a phone call from our son yesterday. He’s in Greece, doing the Med tour with his boat (submarines are referred to as ‘boats’, all other commissioned vessels are ‘ships’), loving Navy life and doing great. [Our son is out of the Navy now, but still doing fine - RJ]

Last night I started randomly googling around with the word ‘submarine’ and got to wondering about the method the US uses to name our subs. Here’s a little bit about what I found.

Before WWII, all US subs were basically numbered by type, so you had the O-25, the R-14, and the S-12. Militarily efficient, but not very inspiring.

In WWII, US submarines were named after fish and marine creatures. So we had cool scary names like the Barracuda, Stingray, and SeaDragon. We also had some less-than-fearsome names like the USS Plunger, Tuna, and Cod. We had a lot of submarines in WWII, and I guess we ran out of good names.

Since then, the Fast Attack boats have been named according to evolving custom, starting with the same fish and marine creatures, then moving on to Presidents, Admirals, and important Americans, for awhile cities and towns, and most recently to States (which used to be what we named Battleships for).

For the ‘boomers’ (missile boats), the evolution was from Presidents, to Distinguished Americans, and now States of the Union. There was a time when you knew a ship’s function by it’s name; the Iowa and Texas were battleships, the Helena and Indianapolis were cruisers. It's not that cut and dried anymore.

While poking around, I saw among the USN Ballistic Missile Submarine force the Lafayette (SSBN 616), Tecumseh (SSBN 628), Von Steuben (SSBN 632), Casimir Pulaski (SSBN 633), Simon Bolivar (SSBN 641), and the Mariano G. Vallejo (SSBN 658). There is also a Fast Attack boat named the Kamehameha (SSN 642). Not all of these boats are still in service since the average lifespan of US submarines appears to be around 30 years.

The names may be familiar, in a vague sort of way. But what did they do that was important enough for us to name ships (er, boats) after them? Click on the names for more complete biographies.

The Marquis de Lafayette was a French soldier and statesman who played an important part in the American Revolutionary War.

One of the great leaders of the American Indian tribes. A member of the Shawnee, he worked to unite the Indian nations against the encroaching white man.

Von Steuben
Friedrich Wilhelm Augustus von Steuben was a Prussian soldier who came to America to help in the war against Britain. He was instrumental in turning Washington’s ragtag band of revolutionaries into an army, introducing techniques of training that are still used today.

Casimir Pulaski

Polish officer who is known as the Father of American Cavalry, he helped organize and train troops for General Washington. He trained the father of Robert E. Lee in cavalry tactics.

Simon Bolivar
This one has me a little stumped. Basically his claim to fame – as far as the US Navy is concerned – is that he traveled through the US soon after the war of independence, which may have inspired him to liberate South America. He is sometimes called the ‘George Washington of South America’. I’ll keep looking for the tie-in, unless ‘prominent Americans’ extends to the whole of the Americas (USS Carmen Miranda anyone?).

Mariano G. Vellejo
Born in Mexico, he considered himself a Californian above all else. He played an important part in the development of the California territory and it’s eventual inclusion into the United States.

A dynasty of Hawaiian monarchs. I always thought it was just one King.

I’ll be looking up some of the other, less well-known historical figures later and I’ll link to their biographies as well.

Related posts made the migration and can be found here and here and here and here. Interesting stuff if you like submarines or US Naval history, if I do say so myself.

Posted by Ted at 09:49 AM | Comments (0)

November 08, 2004

Don't Supersize My Indiscriminate Slaughter, Thank You

The US Air Force is bringing a new smart bomb into play in Iraq, and it's the smallest one yet. Designed especially for urban warfare, the emphasis on maximum accuracy and effect with minimal collateral damage (that's mil-speak for civilian casualties) has produced a new bomb that's half the size of the smallest currently available. Another bomb, again reducing the size by half is near readiness as well.

The US doesn't get enough credit for the care it takes to avoid unecessary casualties during warfare.

Thanks to Transterrestrial Musings for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 05:19 AM | Comments (0)

October 24, 2004

"Man our ship and bring her to life"

"We cannot ever blink. We cannot ever flinch. We cannot yield." -- Senator John Warner, Virginia.

The latest and greatest in US submarine technology was commisioned today in Norfolk, Virginia. The USS Virginia is a fast attack submarine unlike any other before.

The 377-foot-long sub is the first to be built without a periscope, using a high-resolution digital camera instead. That meant the control room, which always had to be directly below the periscope, could be moved to a larger space in the sub's lower deck.

The Virginia also can launch unmanned undersea vehicles. Other improvements include a new computerized autopilot designed to reduce stress on the crew and a reconfigurable torpedo room that can hold extra beds for special operations forces.

With the ability to get close in shallow coastal waters, the Virginia class is designed to be versatile enough to deliver special forces for anti-terrorism operations as well as performing traditional open ocean missions.

Senator John Warner from Virginia, a former Secretary of the Navy, made specific mention of that mission in his keynote address:

"This ship will very definitely play a role in that war on terror."

The second ship of the class, the USS Texas, was commisioned in July at Newport News. Eight additional boats of the class are on order, and current plans call for a total of thirty.

Update: Rob straightened me out on the local Warner situation.

Senator JOHN Warner is a Republican, former SECNAV and married & divorced Elizabeth Taylor.

Governor MARK Warner is a Democrat, was never SECNAV and never married
Liz Taylor.

John, not Mark.

Thanks Rob, I always get 'em confused.

Posted by Ted at 12:52 AM | Comments (1)

July 26, 2004

Missile Shield begins quietly

I didn't see a lot of hoopla over this, which is probably intentional. Last week, the first interceptor missile of our National Missile Shield was installed at Fort Greely in Alaska.

I believe in defense, and I certainly recognize the inherent difficulties in performing the mission that these interceptors have. All complex systems have growing pains, and the calls for perfection before deployment are silly and miss a key function that is already in effect: deterrence. The shield doesn't have to work all that well in reality (although if anyone can make it happen, it's the US), because as long as the other guy thinks it might, then that's a plus for our side right there. The best deterrence is never used. If it is, then it failed in its primary mission.

The footprint of these sites in the wilderness is amazingly small, and the complaining and dire warnings come from the enviros who were also wrong about the mass extinctions that would be caused by the pipeline. These are the same folks who wouldn't let Californians clear brush out of wooded areas. Mother Nature said thanks for the ready-made tinder and kindling, didn't she? They also complain about potential disaster when an accident occurs at one of these silo's. How often do you hear about missile accidents in the US? I can think of two in the last 40 years, which is a damn good percentage. Neither of those accidents resulted in widespread environmental damage.

Now it seems that Canada's military is thinking that maybe they should get under the umbrella. From an editorial in the Montreal Gazette:

Few Canadians know that the NORAD deputy commander in chief at the Colorado headquarters, by treaty agreement, is a Canadian. This is not tokenism: we do have a presence and a say in the design and administration of the defence of North America. We shall be no better off, and arguably worse off, if we relinquish our role just because continental defence is evolving as time goes by.

And in Europe, the Czechs and Poles are enthusiatically embracing the shield.
As well as radar sites, the Poles say they want to host a missile interceptor site. Such a site in Poland would be the first outside America and the only one in Europe.

In the Czech Republic, too, the proposed radar site, extending to 100 square kilometres, could be declared extra-territorial and a sovereign US base.

Japan already wants in, as does South Korea, England and Australia.

If they're needed for real, then I hope they work well. I fervently hope that we never have to find out how well they work, and to those who say we're escalating tensions by defending ourselves, well, I believe in self-defense, whereas you believe in trusting to the altruism of others. You're living in dreamland, because we already know that the world is full of bad guys who would love nothing more than to sucker-punch the US.

As for the argument that we should be worried more about rental trucks/container ships/boxcars/your-scary-potentiality-here, my answer is yes and no. We should be worried about those things, but that doesn't mean we should ignore the historic threats. There are many countries out there who possess missiles capable of hitting North America. There are more countries who are close to obtaining that ability. We made the mistake of being too focused on the "big" threats and watched 3000 people die. Let's not make the same mistake and focus too much on the unconventional threats, because ignoring the "big" threats is just as big a mistake.

China has been whining about the shield for quite a while now. Good. If they're forced to expend resources on ways to limit it's impact on their military, then those are resources that they can't use somewhere else on weapons of their choice. We've taken that much initiative away from them and they're reacting to us instead of the other way around.

It's a little thing, but yeah, we are a bit safer for that one missile in Alaska.

Posted by Ted at 06:17 AM | Comments (2)

July 22, 2004

Ignore the headline and understand the article

Bigger Breasts Offered as Perk to Soldiers.

Key quote:

"the surgeons have to have someone to practice on."

And that's the bottom line. Military surgeons have to deal with wounds and situations that most civilian doctors rarely or never see (other than maybe urban ER staff). The cosmetic side of the procedures is something you don't normally think about. A friend of mine in Germany went into the hospital with a hot appendix. That night, the surgeon on duty was a plastic surgeon, and since it was a slow night he took the extra time to do whatever they do to reduce the scar left behind. You almost couldn't tell that a cut had been made. It was beautifully done, and some day those same skills could be used to reduce the visual impact of a healed shrapnel wound.

It's frivolous in the same way that running around shooting blanks at each other in simulated combat situations is frivolous.

Posted by Ted at 09:44 AM | Comments (1)

April 23, 2004

Fallen Hero

Excerpted from here.

Pat Tillman, who walked away from his professional football career to join the Army Rangers, was killed in Afghanistan, U.S. officials said Friday.

Tillman played four seasons with the National Football League's Arizona Cardinals before enlisting in the Army in May 2002. The safety turned down a three-year, $3.6 million deal from Arizona.

His brother, Kevin, a former minor league baseball prospect in the Cleveland Indians' organization, also joined the Rangers and served in the Middle East.

My condolences to the Tillman family, and my gratitude for their sons' service and sacrifice.

Update: Eric has a much more comprehensive post about this, including links to many background stories.

Posted by Ted at 11:47 AM | Comments (2)

March 01, 2004

Air Force Blue

Someone asked in the comments here if I ever felt 'unloved' by the other branches of the service since I was Air Force. There are definite rivalries going on, but for the most part there's also a lot of respect once you get past the lowest ranks.

Of course, there were jokes...

"Lancer 1 to Tower, time check please."

"Tower to Lancer 1, branch of service please."

"Lancer 1 to Tower, repeat last. Over."

"Tower to Lancer 1, branch of service please."

"Lancer 1 to Tower, what difference does that make? Over.

"Tower to Lancer 1, if you're Navy, then it's 1500 hours. If you're Air Force, it's 3 o'clock, and if you're Army, then the big hand is on the three and the little hand is on the 12."

I once ticked off a retired Marine when I told him that if God had intended Marines to fly, he would have made them smart enough to join the Air Force.

Actually, the Air Force enlisted do believe they're at the top of the military food chain. Think about it. In the Army, the officers say "There's the enemy, go get him." In the Navy, it's "There's the enemy, let's go get him." But in the Air Force the enlisted ready the aircraft, help strap the officer in, then salute and say "Go get 'em, Sir."

Aim high.

Posted by Ted at 08:14 AM | Comments (3)

February 11, 2004

Airshow related - Flugtag 88

Back in September I wrote a little bit about the Flugtag airshow disaster at Ramstein AB, Germany, and since then I've had the privilege of giving my personal thanks to two of the men who were on the scene and helping out under overwhelming circumstances.

Please follow that link and check out the comments. Regular people doing extraordinary things because it's what needs to be done.

About the Google Bait from yesterday: I get the occasional hit from someone searching on 'Flugtag', which is how those two gentlemen found Rocket Jones, so by putting up a couple organization designations and places from my Air Force days, maybe someone I knew back when will stumble across the site and say hi.

Posted by Ted at 07:10 AM | Comments (1)

January 30, 2004


Over at Murdoc Online, he has a nice comprehensive article (with pictures) about the proposed replacement for the current US Military M16 combat rifle and M4 carbine.

If I'm very very good, maybe Santa would bring me one.

Thanks to Spoons for the pointer.

Posted by Ted at 06:28 AM | Comments (0)

January 26, 2004

Honoring Fallen Comrades

McQ of QandO posted this article (same title, I used theirs) about the return of the fallen from Iraq.

At various times I've seen some folks make a point of slamming President Bush or the media for not making a big deal out of this. They attempt to make this a political issue, or try to paint it as uncaring or unfeeling in some way. They have the right to their opinion, but I think they're absolutely wrong about it.

Don't think for a second that our military sons and daughters make their final homecoming under shameful secrecy.

Posted by Ted at 06:50 PM | Comments (1)

January 13, 2004

Project Pluto

Back in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, the military started looking towards the 'next' weapon. Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles (ICBM) were all well and good, but everyone was feverishly working on anti-missile systems and the first country to perfect them would render much of their opponents’ nuclear inventory obsolete at a stroke. Project Pluto was conceived as a hedge against that possibility, but has been nearly forgotten over the years and achieved near-mythical status.

So what exactly was Pluto? Simply put, Pluto was an atomic robotic aircraft, designed to fly faster than the Soviet defenses could react, dropping bombs and missiles at targets along the way as it went about its mission. Pluto would be powered by a ramjet, and fly just above treetop level at Mach 3+ (~2500mph).

From a Department of Energy document:

The principle behind the ramjet was relatively simple: air was drawn in at the front of the vehicle under ram (under great force) pressure, heated to make it expand, and then exhausted out the back, providing thrust.

The notion of using a nuclear reactor to heat the air was fundamentally new. Unlike commercial reactors, which are surrounded by concrete, the Pluto reactor had to be small and compact enough to fly, but durable enough to survive a 7,000 mile trip to a potential target.

The name of this experimental RamJet was Tory II-C, and a working model was actually built and successfully run for a few seconds in 1961.

This .pdf document contains a picture of the Tory II-C test engine, which was mounted on a railroad flatcar. The technician working on the engine gives an idea of the scale of the engine, and just how large Pluto would've been.

This site is a nice look at various types of ramjets and how they work.

From the Sci.Space.History newsgroup:

Much of Pluto's rationale was lost when effective ABM systems failed to appear. The concept always had problems with attack routing -- many of the approach routes to the Soviet Union are over friendly or neutral territory -- and with detectability -- it might be hard to catch, but it would be awfully easy to track, since a *less* stealthy aircraft is difficult to imagine. The deathblow was the problem of how to safely test an ultra-high-speed necessarily-unmanned aircraft with global range and a tendency to kill everything under its flight path. Sure, you can run the tests over the Pacific, but what happens when one has a navigation failure? And for that matter, assuming everything works and your test is a success, what do you *do* with the thing at the end of the test? It's intensely radioactive and has no landing gear...

There was also some debate about whether Pluto actually needed warheads. Once again from Sci.Space.History:

The reason why folks wondered whether the thing needed a warhead was the radiation emitted by the engine itself (a completely unshielded half-gigawatt reactor) plus the shockwave generated by a fairly large aircraft doing Mach 3 at treetop height.

Sometimes you have to wonder how we ever survived to see 2000.

You can find more historical context in this paper titled The Decay of the Atomic-Powered Aircraft Program. The paper "examines the technical and socio-political aspects of the United States Air Force's Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion (ANP) program and associated programs, including the reasons the ANP program was undertaken, and the reasons it was canceled after a decade of work."

Posted by Ted at 07:56 AM | Comments (3)

January 05, 2004

Saying Thanks

Blackfive points the way to this guestbook. I urge each and every one of you to go there and show your support to the troops coming home after sacrificing so much for the rest of us.

Posted by Ted at 02:23 PM | Comments (0)

December 30, 2003

Late Christmas Present

We heard from our son last night, first time since October. He called from Italy, and they're scheduled to start heading for home in the next few weeks. Still no definite word about when they'll arrive, but they're all doing ok.

He was surprised that I knew as much as I did about the USS Hartford, because they didn't know it had been reported so widely, and he filled me in on some details about what happened to cause the accident. It wasn't really an accident, it was stupidity. Like most accidents.

He also said that they weren't held over because of the Hartford, but they were out 'doing their mission'. I think in April we'll be heading up to Connecticut to see him. And get another crack at the submarine museum in Groton.

Posted by Ted at 06:56 AM | Comments (0)

December 24, 2003

Toss a little prayer in for all these guys too

Don't forget all the military folks in your prayers, because you don't need someone shooting at you to make it a dangerous job. Last month the submarine USS Hartford had an accident while conducting training off the coast of Italy. Nobody was hurt, and the boat returned to the US under her own power. Damage turned out to be more extensive than initially thought.

I prattle on now and then about the Navy submarine fleet because it interests me, and because my son is serving on the Hartford's sister ship USS Philadelphia, also somewhere in the Mediteranian at this time.

Thanks to Phillip for this pointer.

Posted by Ted at 10:15 AM | Comments (2)

December 14, 2003

YES !!!!!!!

Saddam Hussein captured.

Posted by Ted at 09:18 AM | Comments (0)

November 26, 2003


US ballistic missile submarines make up the third leg of our nuclear triad, along with our land-based missiles and long range bomber forces. The subs are nicknamed boomers, and go out for months at a time, sitting quietly in their assigned areas - just in case.

When it's time to fire a missile from underwater, a complex sequence of actions happens. One of the first things is that a 'gas generator' is set off in order to near-instantaneously create a large bubble that the missile 'rides' to the surface. Once the missile breaks the surface the motor fires and lifts the missile into the air, where it's guidance system takes over. This happens in split-seconds.

Just in case the motor misfires, the submarine leans off of vertical by a few degrees, so that a malfunctioning missile doesn't fall back and hit the submarine.


The crew that test fired this missile didn't wet themselves until later, when they saw this launch photograph.

Posted by Ted at 06:20 AM | Comments (0)

November 21, 2003

Silent Service Stuff

We got the family newsletter from my son's boat today, the USS Philadelphia, and it confirmed what we suspected: their sea duty has been extended for a good bit. TJ called from Greece a few weeks ago and cancelled Christmas plans, and now it looks like the earliest they'll return to port is February 2004.

This is pure speculation, but I wonder if they're not having to cover for the USS Hartford, which is returning to Norfolk, Virginia for repairs.

Posted by Ted at 08:47 PM | Comments (0)

October 26, 2003

Futuristic fighting

Remember the old science fiction stories about death rays and laser beams flashing across the battlefield, and targets exploding instantly when they get touched by one?

Welcome to that day, coming to you within a decade.

The new American Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) being developed will be fitted with a 100-kilowatt laser cannon which will be powered by the jet engines of the aircraft.

For more information on the JSF, check out this page or this site. The 'official' page is here, but doesn't give a lot of information. After a lot of analysis of the competing design proposals, the Lockheed-Martin design won - it's the one with twin tails and not a candidate for fugliest aircraft ever designed.

Posted by Ted at 02:09 PM | Comments (3)

October 01, 2003

Sinking of the Kursk

On August 12, 2000, the Russian submarine Kursk suffered a catastrophic emergency during a training exercise which quickly caused the boat to sink with all hands lost.

According to the Russian Naval Museum, there were two distinct explosions heard aboard the Kursk. Some maintain that a third explosion was detected as well. These explosions were verified by two US submarines and a British submarine which were shadowing the Russian fleet. Further corroboration came from US and a Norwegian Intelligence gathering ships in the area, as well as units of the Russian fleet involved in the exercise.

there were many theories about what happened aboard the Kursk, some downright silly. Among the plausible ones put forth:

Collision with unknown surface or submersible ship.
Hitting a mine (modern or World War II times).
Foreign torpedo hit as a result of fatal error of foreign submarine.
Explosion during trial a "secret torpedo" or other newest Russian weapon.
Mass debilitation of crew by a decompression sickness at the moment of transition from "whale jump" to emergency diving. In result the submarine went out of control, was stuck against the seabed, there was weapons explosion later.
Hit by "secret, latest" weapon of NATO.

Some crew members survived the original explosions, but it's almost certain that they knew nothing of what had actually happened since they were trapped in the aft engineering spaces, far from the source of the explosions. These crewmen all died before the badly bungled rescue efforts could get underway.

It is now generally accepted that there was an accident with a new type of torpedo on board. This torpedo used a combination of liquid fuels for propulsion which were volatile and somewhat unstable. This same type of fuel had been tested and rejected by the Royal Navy as being too dangerous for use aboard submarines.

Many people fail to realize just how large these modern submarines are. Our first thought is often of old war movies and the U-boat. The Kursk was a new boat, being commissioned in 1995. Her crew had just recieved an award for performance and readiness. On her last cruise, she carried 118 men.

The extended entry contains a picture that will help you gauge her actual size.


Posted by Ted at 05:52 AM | Comments (1)

September 16, 2003

This can only be good news

Oops, I fogot. It's a quagmire.

Posted by Ted at 10:43 AM | Comments (1)

September 05, 2003

US Navy History

The naming of ships after living persons is a recent habit of the U.S. Navy. So far, there have been 6 instances. These are listed in order of commission date.

Carl Vinson (CVN70)
The Carl Vinson is an aircraft carrier. The man Carl Vinson's service in the House of Representatives exceeds that of anyone elected to the Congress of the United States since it first convened in 1798. During his unparalleled tenure of fifty plus years, he also completed a record breaking twenty-nine years as Chairman of the House Naval Affairs and Armed Services Committee. In that position, Congressman Vinson forged and moved through Congress the landmark Vinson-Trammel Act which provided authority for the eventual construction of ninety-two major warships, the birth of the two ocean Navy. From Capitol Hill, he also guided the establishment of a separate air academy and the launching of the Navy's first nuclear powered submarine.

Arleigh Burke (DDG51)
The Burke class of guided missile AEGIS destroyers are the first U.S. Navy ships designed to incorporate stealth technology. They are named for Arleigh Albert Burke, the grandson of a Swedish immigrant, who was born on a farm in Colorado on 19 October 1901. Deciding early that farming fitted neither his talents nor desires, he sought and received a congressional appointment to the US Naval Academy. He entered the Naval Academy in June 1919 and graduated on 7 June 1923. His first assignment was aboard the USS Arizona, after which he held many posts and commands, becoming a specialist in destroyer tactics. He continued to rise through the ranks until appointed Chief of Naval Operations on 17 August 1955, a post he held until 25 July 1961, when he retired. He remains the longest serving Chief of Naval Operations in the history of the U.S. Navy.

Hyman G. Rickover (SSN709)
I've already covered him here.

Ronald Reagan (CVN76)
Fortieth President of the United States. Slayer of Soviet Unions and chopper of wood. Advocate of a strong military and strong America.

Bob Hope (T-AKR300)
This is a “Roll on – Roll off” cargo supply ship, where shipping containers are loaded via truck instead of by cranes. Named for the famous comedian who made countless morale-raising visits to American military personnel.

Jimmy Carter (SSN23)
Thirty-ninth President of the United States. Served as an officer in the US Navy for seven years, including tours of submarine duty. This submarine is still under construction.

Posted by Ted at 08:12 AM | Comments (0)

September 01, 2003

Dear Santa

I want to ride on this for my Christmas present.

In other news, there is no truth to the rumor that France has developed a 'smart' military ID containing a microchip and voice synthesizer that will allow troops to surrender in fifteen different languages at the touch of a button.

Posted by Ted at 03:07 PM | Comments (1)

August 30, 2003

Another Russian Sub Accident

A Russian nuclear-powered submarine sank in the Barents Sea on Saturday morning as it was being towed to a scrapyard, killing at least two of the 10 sailors on board, the Defense Ministry said.

The two nuclear reactors of the 40-year-old K-159 was shut down at the time of the sinking at about 4 a.m. about 3 1/2 miles northwest of Kildin Island, the ministry said. No weapons were aboard.

One sailor was rescued, but seven more are missing and presumed dead.

The K-159, a November-class attack submarine, was decommissioned on July 16, 1989. It was being towed on four pontoons from its base in the town of Gremikha to a plant in Polarnye where workers were to unload the nuclear fuel and scrap the vessel.

The pontoons were torn off by the fierce storm, and the submarine sank in 560 feet of water, the ministry said.

More information about the November class can be found here.

The sheer numbers mentioned in this next bit astound me.

Russia has decommissioned about 189 nuclear-powered submarines over the past 15 years. However, officials say 126 of those are still are at docks with nuclear fuel in their reactors, prompting international concern about leaks and the possibility of nuclear materials being transferred to other nations or terrorists.

It will cost $3.9 billion to scrap all the subs, Russian officials say. Yet last year, the Russian government budgeted just $70 million for improving nuclear safety in the country as a whole.


Update: Random Nuclear Strikes (how can you not love a name like that) also talks about this story, and the comments are especially good.

Posted by Ted at 10:20 AM | Comments (0)

August 28, 2003

Military Wisdom

"Aim towards the Enemy." -Instruction printed on US Rocket Launcher

"When the pin is pulled, Mr. Grenade is not our friend. -U.S. Marine Corps

"Cluster bombing from B-52s is very, very accurate. The bombs are guaranteed to always hit the ground." -U.S.A.F.Ammo Troop

"If the enemy is in range, so are you." -Infantry Journal

"A slipping gear could let your M203 grenade launcher fire when you least expect it. That would make you quite unpopular in what's left of your unit." -Army's magazine of preventive maintenance.

"It is generally inadvisable to eject directly over the area you just bombed." -U.S. Air Force Manual

"Try to look unimportant; they may be low on ammo." -Infantry Journal

"Tracers work both ways." -U.S. Army Ordnance

"Five-second fuses only last three seconds." -Infantry Journal

"Bravery is being the only one who knows you're afraid." --David Hackworth

"If your attack is going too well, you're walking into an ambush." - Infantry Journal

"No combat-ready unit has ever passed inspection." -Joe Gay

"Any ship can be a minesweeper... once." -Anon

"Never tell the Platoon Sergeant you have nothing to do." -Unknown Marine Recruit

"Don't draw fire; it irritates the people around you." -Your Buddies

"If you see a bomb technician running, try to keep up with him." - U.S.A.F. Ammo Troop

And to prove this last point, check out this story titled

"Can You Outrun a Nuclear Missile?
Yes, But Only If You Don't Obey The Guard's Orders to Stop!

Posted by Ted at 10:59 AM | Comments (0)

August 22, 2003

Bonus Silent Service

According to submariners, there are only two kinds of ships: Submarines, and targets. To understand the frightening power of modern submarines and torpedos, check out the video and picture slide show on this page.

From the page:

"The torpedo warhead contains explosive power equivalent to approximately 1200 pounds (544 kg ) of TNT. This explosive power is maximised when the warhead detonates below the keel of the target ship, as opposed to striking it directly. When the detonation occurs below the keel, the resulting pressure wave of the explosion 'lifts' the ship and can break its keel in the process. As the ship 'settles' it is then seemingly hit by a second detonation as the explosion itself rips through the area of the blast. This combined effect often breaks smaller targets in half and can severely disable larger vessels."

Note that the 'smaller target' in the video is 372 feet long and weighed 2,750 tons!

"MK-48 and MK-48 ADCAP torpedoes can operate with or without wire guidance and use active and/or passive homing. When launched they execute programmed target search, acquisition and attack procedures. Both can conduct multiple reattacks if they miss the target."

They have a range of 5 miles and can strike a target when launched from a submerged position beyond the horizon.

Posted by Ted at 04:36 PM | Comments (0)

Silent Service Stuff - 3

Continuing the series, a look at some of the historical figures whose names have been proudly carried by US Navy submarines. Part 1 is here, and part 2 here. In this section, I present to you the Henry M. Jackson (SSBN 730), Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709), William H. Bates (SSN 680), L. Mendel Rivers (SSN 686), Richard B. Russell (SSN 687), Ethan Allen (SSN 608), and George C. Marshall (SSN 654).

Henry M. Jackson
Senator Jackson served as a member of both the Joint Committee on Atomic Energy and the Armed Services Committee for many years and was the ranking Democratic member of the Armed Services Committee at his death. He was an expert on nuclear weapons and strategic issues and a member of the Select Committee on Intelligence.

Hyman G. Rickover
Admiral known as the "Father of the Nuclear Navy." Led development of the U.S.S. Nautilus, the world's first nuclear submarine.

William H. Bates
William H. Bates of Massachusetts was devoted to the vital importance of the nation's seapower. He served in the U. S. Navy for ten years, resigning his commission as Lieutenant Commander after being elected to Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the death of his father, George J. Bates. Congressman Bates served as representative from Massachusetts' sixth district from 1950 until his death in June 1969, becoming the senior Republican member of the House Armed Services Committee and the second ranking House member of the Joint Atomic Energy Committee. He was a vigorous advocate and effective supporter of the development of nuclear power for Naval vessels.

L. Mendel Rivers
Mr. L. Mendel Rivers served in the U.S. House of Representatives for 30 years. As chairman of the House Armed Services Committee in the 89th, 90th and 91st Congresses, he maintained an abiding commitment to America's defense posture.

Richard B. Russell
In Washington he became known as a supporter of a strong military, agriculture, and, unfortunately, segregation. He was appointed to the Senate Appropriations Committee, which he chaired for years.

Ethan Allen
A notable victory of the Green Mountain Boys under Ethan Allen, occurred on the morning of May 10, 1775, when they silently invaded the British held Fort Ticonderoga and demanded its surrender "In the name of the great Jehovah and the Continental Congress". The captured cannon and mortars were transported across the snow covered mountains of New England and their installation on the heights over Boston Harbor enabled Washington to force the British to leave that important seaport.

George C. Marshall
America's foremost soldier during World War II, served as chief of staff from 1939 to 1945, building and directing the largest army in history. As a diplomat, he acted as secretary of state from 1947 to 1949, formulating the Marshall Plan, an unprecedented program of economic and military aid to foreign nations.

Posted by Ted at 02:38 PM | Comments (0)
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