Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Michigan, Nebraska Capture Battle "E" Honors

BANGOR, Wash. -- For the second straight year, the Ohio-class submarines USS Michigan (SSGN 727) and USS Nebraska (SSBN 739) were honored Jan. 1 by Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet as recipients of the 2011 Battle Efficiency Award, or Battle "E."

Nebraska, a ballistic missile submarine based at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, saw its Blue and Gold crews receive their second consecutive Battle "E" for Submarine Squadron (SUBRON) 17. The Gold Crew of Michigan, a guided-missile submarine also based in Bangor, took the honors for Submarine Squadron 19, one year after Michigan's Blue Crew was honored.

"Through adept leadership and two-crew teamwork unmatched in the SSBN force, Nebraska excelled in her strategic mission and all additional tasking," said Capt. Paul Skarpness, commander of SUBRON 17.

Nebraska returned to Bangor on Dec. 10 after a 45-day strategic deterrent patrol, the boat's fourth patrol of the year. In all, Nebraska spent more than 170 days on patrol in 2011.

"I am very proud of both the Blue and Gold crews' performance over the past year," said Cmdr. Jason Wartell, Blue Crew commanding officer. "To receive the Squadron 17 Battle 'E' for the second consecutive year is a testament to the exceptional leadership of the chiefs and officers, and to the commitment of Nebraska's Sailors to serve our nation with the highest degree of pride and professionalism."

Michigan came back to the Pacific Northwest last summer after more than 14 months deployed to the U.S. Seventh Fleet area of responsibility. The deployment included two operational periods for the Gold Crew under the command of Capt. Phil McLaughlin, who turned over the Gold Crew to Capt. Robert James in November.

"Michigan (Gold) excelled in all areas throughout 2011, with an exceptional performance on their 2011 WestPac deployment and all external inspections," said Capt. Dennis Carpenter, commander of SUBRON 19. "The crew maintained an esprit de corps that allowed them to successfully accomplish challenging tasks and improve their warfighting readiness to the highest possible levels."

The Battle "E" is an award of merit presented to the most proficient submarine crew in each squadron and recognizes sustained superior technical performance and continual combat readiness throughout the year. The awards are presented by the commodore of each squadron to the submarine under their command which has demonstrated the highest level of battle readiness during the evaluation year.
Plan for new Navy wharf at Bangor fires up nuke debate

The Cold War ended in 1991. But you might not know it to look at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor.
The base's eight nuclear submarines typically sail on patrol three times a year for up to 100 days at a stretch, much as they did before the Soviet Union disintegrated.

Three of those submarines might be on alert at any given time, and the entire fleet carries enough nuclear warheads on its Trident missiles to obliterate every major city in Russia and China.
Now the Navy wants a $715 million second munitions wharf to accommodate upgrade work on the missiles. The Pentagon is scheduled to issue its final environmental-impact statement early this year, one of the last major hurdles before the four-year construction can begin in July.

The Navy says expanding wharf capacity to load and unload weapons at Bangor is critical to defense readiness. But critics are trying to block it, calling it a costly, unneeded project for a bygone era.
The United States and Russia last year began a new round of whittling down their nuclear arsenals. Last week, the Obama administration released a much-awaited strategic shift in defense priorities, calling for, among other things, both fewer nuclear weapons as well as less reliance on them for national security.

And diminished federal budgets have even top Pentagon officials mulling the possibility that the U.S. eventually may drop one leg of its sea-land-air nuclear stance.

For Tom Rogers, of Poulsbo, those are more than enough reasons to scrap plans for the second weapons-handling wharf.

Rogers, a retired Navy captain turned anti-nuclear activist, was one of five dozen people who showed up at a public hearing in April at North Kitsap High School. The meeting was to discuss environmental consequences of building the 152,000-square-foot wharf on Hood Canal. But most of the attendees who spoke instead questioned why one needed to be built at all.

"Why are we doing this? We're spending a whole lot of taxpayer money on a Cold War relic," Rogers said in an interview. "All we are doing is making defense contractors rich."

Rogers, 65, served three decades on attack submarines at Naval Base San Diego. He believes the massive American nuclear stockpile makes little difference to such unstable nuclear states as North Korea or possible would-be player Iran. And it encourages potential enemies such as Russia or China to keep up their own inventory.

"We're not deterring anyone with those weapons right now," Rogers said. "This is ridiculous spending."

Navy: wharf "critical"

The Navy, however, argues the existing 1970s-era munitions wharf is simply inadequate. Over many years, the military will be upgrading the Trident II D5 missiles to extend their service through 2042.
The Navy estimates it would need 400 days of wharf access a year to remove and reinstall electronics components and perform other work. That's twice the number of days the existing wharf is currently available due to maintenance work and pile replacements.

Six other Trident submarines are based in the Atlantic in Kings Bay, Ga. Of the total fleet of 14 submarines, 12 are operational at a time.

In March, Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, testified in Congress that a second munitions wharf in the Pacific is "critical to nuclear weapons surety and our national security."
Roughead said the Navy has budgeted $715 million for the wharf. The fiscal 2012 military construction spending bill includes $78 million as the first installment.

Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the Navy made "a very strong case" to justify the project.

Dicks said that compared with their predecessor Trident I C4 missiles, the newer missiles are more complex and handling them takes longer.

"I looked at this [wharf] very carefully. And I'm aware about the concerns about the necessity," he said. "I think this is a worthy project."

Dicks added the project will create sorely needed jobs. Kitsap County officials, who generally favor the project, also cited the new paychecks from the construction and related mitigation work.

According to the Navy's estimates, the wharf is expected to create 4,370 direct jobs and 1,970 indirect jobs. The Navy plans to use workers hired through local union halls.

Dicks contends the second wharf is warranted even though the number of submarines at Bangor likely will shrink in the future. The Navy is looking to replace the current fleet starting in 2029 with a new class of submarines. The Navy wants a dozen, at an estimated total cost of $100 billion. Some defense experts expect only 10 may get built, split between Pacific and Atlantic homeports.

Still, Dicks believes submarine-launched ballistic missiles have the "most secure" role in the nation's nuclear armament. He said it would make sense for the Pentagon to cut nuclear spending by reducing the number of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles first.

Future unclear for subs

Michael Krepon, a security expert who blogs at armscontrolwonk.com, questioned how the second wharf would fit into a downsized nuclear — and fiscal — world.
"In times of great budgetary stringency, this appropriations ought to raise eyebrows," said Krepon, who was an aide to both Dicks and to his predecessor in the 6th Congressional District, Rep. Floyd Hicks.

The Navy has talked about the need for a second and even a third wharf at Bangor for more than 30 years.

Hans Kristensen, a nuclear expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said the Trident missiles are the "crown jewels" of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Yet Kristensen said it's possible that in 15 years, Bangor may have only five or six submarines.

"The real driver is, 'How many subs are going to be operating at the base in the future?' " Kristensen said. "This has to be taken into consideration."

According to inspection numbers under the New START Treaty with Russia, the United States as of Sept. 1 had 1,790 nuclear warheads deployed. The Russian Federation had 1,566. The treaty limits deployed warheads to 1,550 by 2018.

Each Trident submarine typically carries 20 missiles, each with four or five warheads. The new-generation subs would have 16 missile launchers.

But the size and purpose of future American nuclear forces is very much under debate. Kristensen believes the results of the strategic review announced by President Obama, who has pledged to end "Cold War thinking," could fundamentally reshape the role of nuclear weapons in the nation's defense.
Meanwhile, the federal budget deficit has given new impetus to re-examine the nation's nuclear spending. The Pentagon is facing a possible budget cut of $1 trillion over the next decade, or roughly 15 percent.

In October, 65 House Democrats, including Rep. Jim McDermott, of Seattle, sent a letter to the now-defunct congressional "supercommittee" on deficit reduction calling for cuts to an "outdated radioactive relic."

"Cut Minuteman missiles. Do not cut Medicare and Medicaid," they wrote. "Cut nuclear-armed B-52 and B-2 bombers. Do not cut Social Security."

Rogers, the retired submarine officer, contends that fears of a dangerous world and ignorance keep many citizens from asking hard questions about the Trident submarines. But if they did, Rogers said, there would be no second wharf.

"The American people could certainly stop it," he said. "Because it's stupid."
IRAN  - Fantasies of a Delusional Leadership

Sanctions vain; victories ahead: Leader
The Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei says Western sanctions against the country have proven futile, adding there are more victories on the horizon for the Iranian nation.
Western officials have repeatedly announced that the objective of anti-Iran sanctions is to wear out the Iranian nation and force the authorities of the Islamic Republic to reconsider their political calculations, Ayatollah Khamenei said on Monday.

“But they are mistaken and will never achieve this goal.”

“The Iranian nation has chosen this victorious path with insight and has made great sacrifices and forfeited the blood of its loved ones to tread this path,” the Leader added.

Referring to the upcoming parliamentary elections, Ayatollah Khamenei said the vote is a manifestation of people's presence in the political decision making process.

Ayatollah Khamenei said Iran's parliamentary election is also important for other Islamic Nations and that is why the US and its allies are trying to disappoint the Muslim world by disrupting the vote.
The Leader said hegemonic powers and their pawns have been making efforts to reduce the participation of Iranians in the elections, but the mass turnout of the nation will disappoint the enemy.
Ayatollah Khamenei also warned of the scourge threatening the elections.

 Iran to use new hardware in next drills

Commander of Iran's Ground Forces Brigadier General Ahmad Reza Pourdastan has announced the country's plans to deploy the most advanced military equipment in the country's upcoming maneuvers.
Pourdastan said on Tuesday that the major drills will be launched in eastern Iran in the second half of February.

“In this maneuver, the latest combat equipment and systems of the Ground Forces as well as the modern tactics in ground operations will be evaluated,” the commander added.

The development comes after the Ground Forces of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) successfully concluded their military drills codenamed Shohaday-e Vahdat (Martyrs of Unity) in eastern Iran on Monday.

Among the major objectives of the maneuver were bolstering security along Iran's eastern border areas, promoting the defense and combat capabilities of the IRGC's Ground Forces as well as transferring to young officers the experiences gained during the eight-year war imposed by Iraq on Iran.

The first phase of the exercises started in the vicinity of Khaf city in Khorasan Razavi Province on Saturday, days after Iranian naval forces staged the 10-day massive Velayat 90 exercise near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.

The Velayat 90 naval drill, launched on December 24, 2011, included four stages, namely the preparedness, the expansion of forces, the tactical, and the power phase, which were carried out successfully with the surface and subsurface vessel units and aviation units penetrating to the targeted depths.

Iran maintains that the maneuvers are defensive in nature and intend to convey a message of peace and friendship to regional countries. It has also extended a public invitation to regional states to conduct joint naval drills with Iranian forces.


 Iran urges Turkey to scrap NATO system

Russia and Iran have expressed their opposition to the US-led NATO missile plan in Turkey.

A member of Iran's Assembly of Experts Hassan Rohani has censured Turkey for harboring a NATO missile system on its soil, calling on the Ankara government to scrap the planned system.

In a meeting with Turkey's Ambassador to Tehran Umit Yardim on Tuesday Rohani said because the US Secretary of State has stated Iran is the target of the missile system we did not expect the Turkish government and officials, who are among our good friends, to accept the deployment of the NATO missiles on their soil.

Rohani, who is also the Director of Iran's Expediency Council's Center for Strategic Research, called on Turkey to prepare the grounds for restoring complete confidence in the existing all-out ties between Ankara and Tehran.

The Turkish ambassador, for his part, said the system would pose no threat to any country, including neighboring states.

Yardim asserted that although the system has been deployed by NATO, it is under the surveillance and control of Turkey.

On September 2, 2011, Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal announced the country's decision to host a missile shield developed by the United States for NATO, on its territory.
A military facility in the village of Kurecik, 700 kilometers from the Iranian border, has been picked as the site for the missile system.

Both Russia and Iran have expressed their opposition to the US-led missile plan.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has said that the missile system is not against any country; however, commentators believe Turkey faces no missile threat from its neighbors, and did not need to accept the system.

 'US, Israel losing Mideast backyards'

A senior Iranian commander says Washington seeks to evade the growing challenges it faces in the Middle East, as the US and the Israeli regime continue to lose their puppets in the region.

“In their failure to avert developments in the strategic Middle East region as well as the downfall of dictators in countries that served as the backyard of the White House and the Zionist regime (Israel), the Americans have sought to find ways for forward escaping,” said Deputy Head of Iran's Armed Forces Joint Chiefs of Staff Brigadier General Massoud Jazayeri on Tuesday.

The Iranian commander argued that the wave of awakening in the Arab world as well as the expansion of anti-capitalism movements across the US have compelled Washington to portray an exaggerated image of an external enemy, specifically the Muslim world and the Iranian nation, and invest in propaganda projects such as the promotion of Iranophobia and Islamophobia in efforts to divert the world attention away from issues gripping the US.

He referred to the campaign by the US and the Israeli lobby to garner the support of their European allies to mount pressures on Iran by imposing sanctions, especially ahead of Iran's parliamentary elections on March 2, 2012, reiterating that enemy objectives against Iran will never materialize.
The United States, the Israeli regime and some of their allies have accused Iran of pursuing military objectives in its nuclear program and have used the pretext to push the UN Security Council to impose four rounds of sanctions against Tehran.

Meanwhile, the United States and the European Union have also adopted unilateral measures against the Islamic Republic in an attempt to prevent Western investments in Iran's energy sector.

On December 31, President Obama signed into law fresh economic sanctions against Iran's Central Bank in an apparent bid to punish foreign companies and banks that do business with the Iranian financial institution.

Jazayeri also pointed to the West's psychological projections to derail the world public opinion from the fact that the Western powers and their liberal democratic systems are on the brink of collapse.
The commander argued that such publicity campaigns come as the West itself is facing disintegration, and as Iran and other Islamic movements are establishing the future discourse in the contemporary world.

IRGC to repel even idea of bullying Iran

Commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps Mohammad-Ali Jafari says the IRGC is ready to counter even the thought of threatening Iran that crosses the enemy's mind.

During the opening of the IRGC military drill, codenamed Shohaday-e Vahdat (Martyrs of Unity), in eastern Iran on Monday, Jafari stressed the readiness of Iranian forces “to counter any act of aggression and threat.”

He added that the drills will help prepare for an unbalanced war and aims to prevent the enemy from advancing in the country.

The commander said the maneuvers also seek to counter the technological superiority the enemy relies on through IRGC tactics and new ideas.

The first phase of the drill began in the vicinity of Khaf city in Khorasan Razavi Province on Saturday, days after Iranian naval forces staged the massive 10-day Velayat 90 maneuvers near the strategic Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf.

Spokesman of the Shohaday-e Vahdat drill General Hamid Sarkheili said on Monday that bolstering security along Iran's eastern border areas, promoting defensive and combat capabilities of the IRGC Ground Forces and passing on the experiences gained during the eight-year war imposed by Iraq on Iran to young officers are among the main objectives of the maneuver.

He added that the capabilities and innovations of the Ground Forces in tactical aspects will be displayed during the main phase of the drill.

'Iran, influential naval power'

Deputy Commander of the Iranian Army Brigadier General Abdul-Rahim Mousavi says the Islamic Republic has developed into a regional and global naval power in view of its major breakthroughs.

The senior Iranian military commander on Monday praised the massive 10-day Velayat-90 naval drill, conducted in an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden, as a demonstration of Iran's naval might and capability in the international waters.

He stated that Iran's naval forces are closely monitoring all moves by extra-regional powers in the region as they spotted a helicopter and a US aircraft carrier during Velayat-90 naval exercises.

He said the Iranian Navy's surveillance of foreign military moves during the massive ten-day naval drill was in compliance with international conventions relating to high seas and in line with the country's doctrine of national defense.

Brigadier General Mousavi emphasized that outsiders and foreign forces deployed to the Middle East follow their evil policies in the region and exploit any available opportunity to reach their goals.

He also condemned attempts to incite Iranophobia in regional states, stressing that Iran is interested in the promotion of global peace and tranquility as well as friendship among all world nations.

The top Iranian commander reiterated that the country only resists against expansionist policies of a few bullying powers.

On January 2, Iran wrapped up Velayat-90 naval drill, which was launched on December 24, 2011.

The defensive drill had four stages, namely the preparedness, the expansion of forces, the
tactical, and the power phase, which were carried out successfully with the surface and subsurface vessel units and aviation units penetrating to the targeted depths.

The naval drill took place in line with a recent directive by Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei, instructing Iranian armed forces to maintain total readiness to defend the nation against any potential threats.

Iran maintains that the maneuvers were defensive in nature and intended to convey a message of peace and friendship to the countries of the region. The Islamic Republic has also extended a public invitation to regional states to conduct joint naval drills with Iranian forces.

 'Iran has upper hand over US in Hormuz'

A researcher says the highly propagated US naval supremacy counts for little in the Strait of Hormuz as the geography of the Persian Gulf region and Iran's naval might will jeopardize American interests there.

“Primacy does not mean invincibility. US naval forces in the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf are nonetheless vulnerable,” Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya wrote in an article on Global Research.
He explained the narrow geography of the Persian Gulf, and Iran's advanced missile and torpedo arsenal “would make short work of US naval assets in the waters of the Persian Gulf where US vessels are constricted.”

The sociologist and award-winning author added that even Iran's small patrol boats are capable of inflicting mortal damage on the US warships. “These Iranian patrol boats can easily launch a barrage of missiles that could significantly damage and effectively sink large US warships. Iranian small patrol boats are also hardly detectable and hard to target.”

Iran's Navy successfully test-fired a new long-range coast-to-sea missile called Qader (Capable) and a state of the art surface-to-surface Nour (Light) missile on the last day of its recent naval maneuvers in the strategic Strait of Hormuz.

With its range of 200 kilometers, the Qader missile has highly destructive power and can destroy targets, including frigates, warships as well as enemy coastal targets.

Nour, a 120 kilometer anti-ship cruise missile, is designed to sink a target of 10,000 tons and above.
Nazemroaya further reasoned even Pentagon's own war simulations have shown that a war in the Persian Gulf with Iran “would spell disaster for the United States and its military.”

He cited the example the Millennium Challenge 2002 (MC02) US drill in the Persian Gulf, which was conducted from July 24 to August 15, 2002 and took almost two years to prepare.

The political analyst argued that although the drill was “officially” presented as a simulation of a war against Iraq under the rule of President Saddam Hussein, “in actuality these war games pertained to Iran.”

“In Millennium Challenge 2002's war scenario, Iran would react to US aggression by launching a massive barrage of missiles that would overwhelm the US and destroy sixteen US naval vessels - an aircraft carrier, ten cruisers, and five amphibious ships. It is estimated that if this had happened in real war theater context, more than 20,000 US servicemen would have been killed in the first day following the attack.”

Nazemroaya said Iran's patrol boats would then overwhelm the remainder of the Pentagon's naval forces in the Persian Gulf, “which would result in the damaging and sinking of most of the US Fifth Fleet and the defeat of the United States.”

“The entire world knows the importance of the Strait of Hormuz and Washington and its allies are very well aware that the Iranians can militarily close it for a significant period of time,” he asserted.
Last week, Iran wrapped up a massive 10-day Velayat 90 naval exercise, covering an area stretching from the east of the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf to the Gulf of Aden.

Some of the objectives of the Velayat 90 maneuvers were to expand the presence of Iranian armed forces in international waters and prepare against piracy, terrorism or induced disruption to regional trade.

During the maneuvers Iran's Navy Commander Rear Admiral Habibollah Sayyari said the country's naval forces can readily block the strategic Strait of Hormuz if need be.
“Closing the Strait of Hormuz is very easy for Iranian naval forces,” Sayyari said, adding that, “Iran enjoys full control over the strategic water way.”

Sayyari's comment came one day after Iran's Vice-President Mohammad Reza Rahimi warned that not a drop of oil would be allowed to pass through the Strait of Hormuz if sanctions are placed against Iran's oil exports.

“Amongst other things, Velayat 90 should be understood as a signal that Tehran is ready to operate outside of the Persian Gulf and can even strike or block the pipelines trying to bypass the Strait of Hormuz,” Nazemroaya concluded.
‘US builds hospitals in Georgia, readies for war with Iran’
The United States is sponsoring the construction of facilities in Georgia on the threshold of a military conflict in Iran, a member of Georgian opposition movement Public Assembly, Elizbar Javelidze has stated.

According to the academician, that explains why President Mikhail Saakashvili is roaming the republic opening new hospitals in its regions.

 “These are 20-bed hospitals…It’s an American project. A big war between the US and Iran is beginning in the Persian Gulf. $5 billion was allocated for the construction of these 20-bed military hospitals,” Javelidze said in an interview with Georgian paper Kviris Kronika (News of the Week), as cited by Newsgeorgia website.

The opposition member stated that the construction is mainly paid from the American pocket.
In addition, airports are being briskly built in Georgia and there are talks of constructing a port for underwater vessels in Kulevi on the eastern Black Sea coast in Georgia.
Javelidze believes that it is all linked to the deployment of US military bases on the Georgian soil. Lazika – one of Saakashvili’s mega-projects, a new city that will be built from a scratch – will be “an American military town”. According to the politician, “a secret airdrome” has already been erected in the town of Marneuli, southern Georgia.

The opposition member wondered who would protect Georgia in case if Iran fires its missiles against US military facilities on the territory of the Caucasian state.

All in all, about 30 new hospitals and medical centers were opened in the former Soviet republic in December last year. The plan is to build over a hundred more.

As for Lazika, the Georgian president announced his ambitious idea to build a second-largest city in Georgia, its western economic and trade center, at the end of 2011. According to the plan – which was slammed by his opponents and many analysts – Saakashvili’s dream-town will become home to at least half a million people within a decade
Iran has taken no action to close Strait of Hormuz: US
 (AFP) – 2 hours ago 
WASHINGTON — The US military has detected no signs that Iran is preparing to close the strategic Strait of Hormuz despite tough rhetoric from Tehran, the Pentagon said Monday.

"We would have some knowledge of an intent to actively impede maritime traffic to the Strait of Hormuz. We don't see any active steps being taken by the Iranians to close the strait," press secretary George Little told reporters.

He called for a lowering of tensions after sharp language from Iran, which has warned it might prevent US warships from transiting the strait or shut the oil route if the West imposes stricter sanctions.
"We really do want to ratchet down the tensions surrounding the Strait of Hormuz. This is an important waterway for the region and for Iran itself," Little said.

The European Union has threatened a total ban on oil purchases from Iran over its nuclear program, which the West believes masks a drive to develop atomic weapons.

In response, Iran has threatened to close the vital Strait of Hormuz at the entrance to the Gulf -- through which 20 percent of the world's tanker-carried oil flows -- if its crude exports are blocked.
Iran's statements have helped send oil prices soaring in recent days.

Analysts say it is unlikely the Islamic Republic would make good on the threat as the country would face US-led military retaliation and severe economic consequences.

US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the military's top officer, General Martin Dempsey, reiterated Sunday that Washington would not tolerate any attempt to shut the strait.

Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, acknowledged Iran could close the narrow waterway "for a period of time."

"We've described that as an intolerable act. And it's not just intolerable for us, it's intolerable to the world. But we would take action and reopen the straits," he said.
January 10th - On This Date

1916 E24 Submarine HMS E24 completed
1944 Sanguine Submarine HMS Sanguine laid down
1924 L24 Sunk in collision with HMS Resolution off Portland
1942 HMS Thrasher HMS Thrasher torpedoes and sinks the Italian merchant Fedora about 35 nautical miles north-east of Cape Dukato, Greece.
1943 HMS Tribune HMS Tribune torpedoes and damages the French merchant Dalny 15 nautical miles from San Remo, Italy.
1945 HMS Strongbow HMS Strongbow sinks a Japanese sailing vessel with gunfire south of the Malakka Strait.
1963 HMS Dreadnought Britains first nuclear sub made her first dive in Ramsden Dock, Barrow.

Monday, 9 January 2012

January 9th - On This Date

1943 Sceptre Submarine HMS Sceptre launched
1945 Totem Submarine HMS Totem completed
1806 Vice Admiral Lord Nelson Vice Admiral Lord Nelson was buried at St Paul's Cathedral
1940 HMS Starfish Lost
On 5 January 1940 HMS Starfish (Lt. T.A. Turner, RN) sailed from Blyth. On 9 January 1940 she attacked a German minesweeper off the German North Sea coast in the Heligoland Bight. However this attack failed because, due to drill error, the torpedoes remained stuck in the tubes!

She returned for second attack but the hydroplanes jammed and the CO decided to bottom for the remainder of day to carry out repairs in about 27 metres of water. The German minesweeper M-7 located her & dropped 2 DCs which did no damage, but @ 1050 hrs one of the electricians asked for permission to restart one of the Sperry motors to prevent the gyro from wandering, it was granted and, no sooner the motor started, 4 DCs rained on top of the boat, fairly close aboard, causing widespread damage.

At 1440 another DC attack was carried out, 20 of these falling fairly close to the hull, shearing rivets & starting plates which began leaking. by 1800 hrs the situation inside was serious, the engine room crankcases and starboard main motor bearings were flooded, the torpedo trenches & bilges were full, water was pouring through the starboard engine clutch and lapping the starboard main motor casing.

Starfish laid on the bottom until the CO, having formed the opinion the enemy was not likely to leave the vicinity in the near future, at 1820 hrs gave the order to surface. In order to accomplish this, the sub was forced to drop the ballast keel, barely making it due to loss of HP air and water in the hull, coming up at a 45° angle. She sank very shortly after with no loss among the crew, which was picked up by the waiting ships and taken as POWs.
1943 HMS Umbra HMS Umbra torpedoes and sinks the Italian merchant Emilio Morandi about 35 nautical miles east-north-east of Sousse, Tunisia.
1944 HMS Sibyl HMS Sibyl sinks a sailing vessel with gunfire off Baba Burnu, Turkey.
1945 HMS Porpoise On or around this date HMS Porpoise lays mines off Penang.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Submarine History - Part 1

HOLLAND found sponsorship with the Fenians, a group of Irish revolutionaries, looking for a way to harass the British Navy. He built a small prototype submarine, "Holland No. 1" to test out his theories – including the use of a gasoline engine. The trial was successful enough to encourage building a larger, more warlike, boat.

Anglican Reverend GEORGE W. GARRETT tested the steam-powered "Resurgam:" steam for a boiler for surface operations, steam stored in pressurized tanks for submerged operations. The boat passed initial trials, but sank while under tow (rediscovered in 1996). Out of funds but not undeterred, Garrett took his ideas to a wealthy Swedish arms manufacturer, THORSTEN NORDENFELDT. See below.

HOLLAND launched the "Fenian Ram" – 31 feet long, armed with a ram bow and an air-power cannon. Tests continued for two years, to depths of sixty feet for as long as one hour. Surface and submerged speeds were about the same, 9 knots.
However, the Fenians became increasingly frustrated with Holland's delays, and, faced with some internal legal squabbles, stole their own boat and hid it in a shed in New Haven, CT, where it remained for thirty-five years. Holland had nothing more to do with the Fenians; the boat was eventually donated to the city of Patterson, where it is now on display in West Side Park.

HOLLAND and several investors formed the Nautilus Submarine Boat Company, hoping to sell a submarine to the French, then at war in Indochina. The company prototype, dubbed the "Zalinski Boat" after one of the investors, was launched in 1885. Too heavy for the launching ways, the boat smashed into some pilings and was badly damaged. Repaired, she made some token trial runs but the French war had ended and the company went bankrupt.

French designer CLAUDE GOUBET built a battery-operated submarine, too awkward and unstable to be successful. He followed up in 1889 with "Goubet II" – also small, electric, and not effective.

American JOSIAH H. L. TUCK demonstrated "Peacemaker" – powered by a chemical (fireless) boiler; 1500 pounds of caustic soda provided five hours endurance. Tuck's inventing days ended when relatives – noting that he had squandered most of a significant fortune – had him committed to an asylum for the insane.

"Nordenfeldt I" – 64 feet, armed with one external torpedo tube – was launched. Powered by steam on the surface -- and "accumulated" steam while submerged. (See "Resurgam.") It took as long as twelve hours to generate enough steam for submerged operations and about thirty minutes to dive. Once underwater, sudden changes in speed or direction triggered – in the words of a U. S. Navy intelligence report – "dangerous and eccentric movements."

However, good public relations overcame bad design: Nordenfeldt always demonstrated his boats before a stellar crowd of crowned heads, and Nordenfeldt's submarines were regarded as the world standard.

The Greek Navy took delivery of "Nordenfeldt I" in 1886, and seems to have done nothing with it. Bitter rival Turkish Navy ordered two of the larger "Nordenfeldt II" boats – 100 feet with two torpedo tubes. When a torpedo was fired on a test dive, the first boat tipped backwards and sank, stern first, to the bottom. The second Turkish boat was left unfinished.

The U. S. Navy announced an open competition for a submarine torpedo boat, with a $2 million incentive. The specifications were based on presumed Nordenfeldt-level capabilities and presumed a steam-powerplant of 1000 horsepower.
Bidders included Nordenfeldt, Tuck, and Holland. Holland's design won, but because of contracting complications, the award was withdrawn.
The competition was re-opened a year later, Holland was again the winner – but a new Secretary of the Navy diverted the $2 million to surface ships. Nordenfeldt lost interest in submarines; Tuck went into the asylum; Holland got a job as a draftsman, earning $4 a day.

GUSTAVE ZEDE built "Gymnote" for the French Navy – a 60-foot, battery-powered boat capable of 8 knots on the surface but limited by the lack of any method for recharging the batteries while at sea. Her naval service was largely limited to experimentation.

Spaniard ISAAC PERAL's "Peral" successfully fired three Whitehead torpedoes while on trials, but internal politics kept the Spanish Navy from pursuing the project.

 With a new Administration in office, the U. S. Congress appropriated $200,000 for an "experimental submarine" and the Navy announced a new competition. There were three bidders: Holland, GEORGE C. BAKER, and SIMON LAKE.
Holland and Lake submitted proposals; the politically well- connected Baker actually had a submarine, which he was demonstrating on Lake Michigan. A novel feature: a clutch between the steam engine and an electric motor allowed the motor to function as a dynamo, to recharge the batteries for submerged running. A troubling feature: a pair of amidships-mounted propellers that swivelled up or forward, through a clumsy period of transition.

When Holland's design once again won the competition, Baker complained to his friends in Washington. The whole business seems to have been put on "hold."
January 8th - On This Date

1915 E44 Submarine HMS E44 laid down
1932 Sturgeon Submarine HMS Sturgeon launched
1944 HMS Sibyl HMS Sibyl sinks the Greek sailing vessel Taxiachos with gunfire off Cape Baba, Turkey.
1944 HMS Unruly HMS Unruly sinks a sailing vessel with gunfire off Cape Doro, Andros Island, Greece.

ABC Greenlights Shawn Ryan's The Last Resort'

Back in August, "The Shield" creator Shawn Ryan struck a deal with ABC to develop "The Last Resort," a high concept drama about the crew of a U.S. nuclear submarine who end up creating the smallest nuclear power nation in the world. And now ABC has committed to the next step in the process.

According to Deadline; a pilot for "The Last Resort" has been officially ordered by ABC; with Martin Campbell attached to direct. Campbell is best known for directing the James Bond reboot, "Casino Royale," in addition to other popular films like "Golden Eye," "The Mask of Zorro" and "No Escape" as well as the "Green Lantern" feature that debuted last summer.

"The Last Resort" reportedly takes place in the near future with the crew of the submarine refusing their orders to fire their nuclear payload, turning them into hunted fugitives until they take over a NATO listening outpost on an island and announce to the world that they are the newest nuclear nation. The weekly series will revolve around the crew's attempt to form a new society while dealing with the natives on the island, the nation they left behind and even the seeds of dissent from within the crew itself.

This project marks Ryan's first broadcast TV series since "The Chicago Code" was canceled last year. Previously, Ryan worked on "Nash Bridges," "Lie To Me" and "Angel" before making his name on "The Shield" as a writer, creator and an executive producer. Ryan also executive produced "Terriers," a well respected P.I. drama that ran for a single season on FX.

Earlier this week, ABC also greenlit the pilot for Roland Emmerich's currently untitled project that is set against the 2O12 Presidential campaign and rumored to have a supernatural or metaphysical aspect that is yet to be revealed. The unconventional nature of the two projects may indicate that ABC is attempting to try out some new concepts after the early success of "Once Upon A Time;" which is currently ABC's highest rated new drama.

Saturday, 7 January 2012

USS Cod repair sparks memories of old Cleveland Diesel Engine plants in World War II

A little memory motor sputtered to life in Jim Jaworski when he heard recent news that the vintage World War II engines of the USS Cod Memorial submarine in Cleveland are being refurbished.

The sub's twin 1,600hp engines were made by General Motors' Cleveland Diesel Engine division where Jaworski's father, uncle and about 5,000 other Northeast Ohioans worked during the 1940s.
Though Cleveland Diesel may not be as renown as the old Cleveland Bomber Plant (now the International Exposition Center) where about 15,000 workers made B-29 bombers, its contributions were just as vital to the war effort.

Some 70 percent of the U.S. Navy's submarine engines came from the Cleveland Diesel Engine plants on West 106th Street and Clinton Road, which also produced engines for 48 types of Navy ships.
Jaworski, 70, of Berea, said the firm originated with Cleveland auto manufacturer Alexander Winton, who switched from cars in the early 1900s to diesel engine production for maritime vessels and locomotives. GM bought the company in 1938.

Jaworski's uncle, Leo Vosniak, started working at the plant as a machinist in 1939.

"That's why I smoke a pipe and became a mechanic, because my uncle did," said Jaworski, seated in his Berea Motor Works shop, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling parts bins, assorted engines, and classic cars, primarily Rolls Royces.

His father, Nick Jaworski, was foreman in an area of the plant that produced engine fuel injectors. But Jaworski said most of the stories he heard about the factory came from his uncle.

Jim Jaworski.JPGView full sizeCourtesy of Jim JaworskiJim Jaworski's uncle, Leo Vosniak, is shown working at Cleveland Diesel Engine which produced 70 percent of the engines for U.S. Navy submarines during World War II.

There was the tale of how these massive, two-story-high engines initially had bronze flywheels -- until one blew through the side of an engine on a ship, through the ship's side and then through both sides of an adjoining ship. The bronze flywheels were promptly replaced with cast iron versions, Jaworski said.

Engines produced at the plant were tested at a slant, reflecting real-world usage aboard ships commonly tilted by waves. Jaworski said that when it was discovered that engine studs could snap when subs were depth-charged, the studs were re-machined to allow for that stress.

The importance of their work was not lost on Cleveland Diesel employees, according to Jaworski.
"Lives depended on them," he said. "So whatever they sent out to sea had to be as right as it could be."
He noted that his uncle once said that before the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, parts ordered from suppliers might take weeks to arrive. "He said that after the war broke out, they'd order something and it'd get there still hot off the lathe," Jaworski added.

After the war, production and employment at the plants fell with decreased demand. But Cleveland Diesel continued making engines for Navy ships, including stainless steel versions during the Korean War which wouldn't trigger magnetic mines.

As the Navy converted to nuclear-powered submarines, there was less need for diesel engines, and GM closed the Cleveland plant in 1962.

Looking back on its World War II heyday, Jaworski said Cleveland Diesel might not have gotten its due historic recognition because of the secrecy that workers were sworn to uphold. "They couldn't talk about their work," he said.

But as far as he's concerned, those bygone home-front factory workers are his heroes of the war.
"They had to come up with new ideas and develop stuff that nobody had ever done before," he said. "The work that they did was really technically challenging in terms of the design and machining process.

"It's really a wonderful story."
New US defense plans shore up submarine production

Norwich, Conn. —

Electric Boat in Groton will benefit from the reshaping of the nation’s military, which will place a larger emphasis on Asia and emerging tactics that require a powerful undersea warfare presence, federal lawmakers said Thursday.

“We’re going to be fighting wars in different ways than we have. But we in Connecticut produce weaponry that fits that new kind of warfare,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., said in an interview with The Bulletin’s editorial board. “I will fight relentlessly and resourcefully for those defense products made in Connecticut.”

Blumenthal’s comments came hours after President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta issued a 16-page strategic plan called “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” aimed at shaping the nation’s military over the next decade.

Blumenthal and U.S. Rep. Joe Courtney, D-2nd District, expressed confidence that the report’s focus on the Pacific and endorsement of strategies, including electronic and cyber warfare, bodes well for EB.

‘Versatile and effective’

“Submarines are versatile and effective, and the vital role their unique capabilities will play in a changing defense landscape was reaffirmed again by today’s report,” Courtney said in a press release. “It ... emphasizes for a leaner, more agile force.”

Thursday’s news follows the announcement late last month of a $191.3 million EB contract for continued engineering, technical services and other work on a missile compartment for two vessels.
In a separate statement issued later in the day, Blumenthal said he’s confident the country’s defense plan means Virginia-class submarines will continue to be built in Eastern Connecticut.

EB President John P. Casey shares that hope.

“We remain confident the capabilities brought to bear by our products satisfy many of the strategic priorities outlined by the secretary today, and we will closely follow details that emerge as the budget process unfolds,” he said in a statement to the Blog.
Blumenthal, a member of the Senate’s Committee on Armed Services, also called for priority-based funding in the defense budget.

“The smart cuts can be made with significant savings. But we have a difficult road ahead, there’s no question. The challenges would be difficult even if there were no Republican or Democratic parties, because the challenge really is to meet those defense needs within very restrained and limited resources,” he said. “In making those cuts, there will have to be give and take.”

EB in October won $91.2 million on top of an earlier contract for modification to develop and update design drawings and evaluate new technology for Virginia-class submarines.

Steady stream of work

Tony Sheridan, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of Eastern Connecticut, said the possibility of two new submarines being built annually is “good news.”

“Two submarines allows for a steady stream of work. It’s supporting a sizable enough workforce that can be productive without the constant layoffs and re-hires,” Sheridan said. “The ripple effect of putting together a submarine is very, very broad. And it’s marvelous because of the fact that so much of this work cannot be exported.”

Maureen Murray, of Colchester, was happy to hear of the prospects.
“I’m not for war, but if the jobs to support them have to exist, I’d like them to exist in my backyard,” she said. “You can’t even get a support job around here right now.

Russia to Upgrade Oscars

Oscar Shifts From Quality To Quantity

January 7, 2012: Russia is planning to rebuild its Oscar II class nuclear submarines to carry a wide variety of missiles. Currently, each Oscar II carries 24 large anti-ship missiles. But by rebuilding the missile launchers (which are outside the pressure hull) to carry more, but smaller missiles, each Oscar II can carry up to 72 missiles. This makes it easier to overcome the anti-missiles of enemy surface ships. What is lost in range and warhead size will be made up with better target detection and countermeasures technology. 
  Russia has eight Type 949A SSGNs (nuclear powered cruise missile submarine). Known in the West as the Oscar II class, these boats began entering service just as the Cold War ended (three were in commission when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991). Construction continued on six more, and by 1997, eight were in service. Seven Oscar IIs remain in service, as the Kursk was lost in 2000, to a well-publicized accident. The Oscar's were designed as "carrier destroyers," with long range cruise missiles that could, in theory, take out an American aircraft carrier. 
The Oscar II class boats have a surface displacement of 14,000 tons. They have eight torpedo tubes (four 650mm/25.6 inch, four 533mm/21 inch), and 24 SS-N-19/P-700/Shipwreck/Granit missiles. These anti-ship missiles have a range of 550 kilometers, a speed of 1600 kilometers an hour, and a 750 kg (1,650 pound) high-explosive warhead (or a nuclear warhead of 350 or 500 kilotons as an option). The Oscar's crew of 107 contains 48 officers. That's because of the high degree of automation, and the need to offer officers pay and accommodations to attract the technical talent required to keep these boats going. The United States and Russia are no longer at each other's throats, especially on the high seas. The Oscar's are expensive to operate, and were scheduled for retirement over the next decade, as their nuclear reactors were due for refueling. The decision to refurbish the Oscar IIs indicates that the navy believes it won't get money for replacement boats.
The P-700 missile is an older, and bulkier, design. New launching tubes would allow it to fire more of the Yakhont (also known as Oniks, P-800 or 3M55). This is a 8.9 meter (27.6 foot) long, three ton missile with a 300 kg (660 pound) warhead. Early ship launched versions had a range of 120 kilometers, but the more recent models have a range similar to the Harpoon. The big advantage of the Yakhont is its high speed (about 2,500 kilometers an hour). This makes it more difficult to defend against.
The 546 kg (1,200 pound) Harpoon is 4.6 meters (15 feet) long, has a 222 kg (487 pound) warhead and a range of 220 kilometers. It approaches the target low, at about 860 kilometers an hour. GPS gets the missile to the general vicinity of the target, then radar takes over to identify and hit the target. The Harpoon has successful combat experience going back two decades. Most corvettes and many frigates are small enough to be destroyed by one Harpoon. Yakhont does more damage because of the high speed, and greater weight. Yakhont was originally deployed as a "carrier killer". Both missiles cost about the same ($1.2 million each).
January 7th - On This Date

1909 C31 Submarine HMS C31 laid down
1915 E36 Submarine HMS E36 laid down
1995 Victorious Submarine HMS Victorious completed
1940 HMS Undine HMS Undine was on her fourth war patrol in January 1940 when her asdic failed due to a leak. At 0940 on 7th January, Undine sighted what was thought to be three trawlers 20 miles west of Heligoland; but were in fact German minesweepers. Undine unsuccessfully attacked the leading vessel; minutes later there was a large explosion followed by others as the minesweepers opened fire. Undine was at 50 feet and proceeding blind due to the loss of asdic. After 5 minutes of no further attacks Undine raised her periscope as she did so an explosion shook the submarine, blowing her upwards and rendering the hydroplanes useless. Without the use of the hydroplanes escape would have been impossible and the order to abandon ship was give. Whilst the crew entered the water, to be picked up by the minesweepers, demolition charges were set and the submarine scuttled.
1940 HMS Seahorse HMS Seahorse sunk

On 26th December 1939 HMS Seahorse sailed from Rosyth for patrol off the east coast of Denmark. Four days later she shifted position to the entrance of the Elbe. She did not return on her due date of 9th January 1940. It was first thought that she had been mined but German records, examined after the war, suggested she was the victim of the German First Minesweeper Flotilla which reported a sustained depth charge attack on an unidentified submarine on 7th January 1940. Thanks to the research of Mr Bob Coppock of the RN Historical Branch, it is now accepted that Seahorse was mined while moving between Zones E and B in the Heligoland Bight. The wreck has been discovered off the Danish coast.
1941 Rover HMS Rover attacks the Italian merchant Edda with four torpedoes about 15 nautical miles west-north-west of Tobruk, Libya. All torpedoes missed and Rover was damaged by depth charges from the Italian torpedo boats Clio und Castore.
1960 Polaris Launch of first fully-guided flight of Polaris missile at Cape Canaveral (flew 900 miles)

Friday, 6 January 2012

Strait of Homruz powder keg: US-Israel to meet Great Prophet?

With tensions around the Strait of Hormuz sky-high, Iranian plans to conduct the country's "greatest naval war games” could coincide with joint US-Israeli exercises in the Persian Gulf. With both sides taking positions, could a real battle be looming?

Hopefully the massive exercises will remain just that. But with three armies on the playing board, one spark could be enough to ignite an all-out war.

Iran, which recently held a 10-day naval exercise near the Strait of Hormuz to demonstrate its military prowess, is now planning new, ‘massive’ naval drills codenamed The Great Prophet.

The drills will be carried out by the country’s elite Revolutionary Guard, which has its own air, naval and ground forces separate from those of the regular military.

On Thursday, the semiofficial Fars news agency quoted the Iranian Revolutionary Guard's naval commander, Admiral Ali Fadavi, as saying the next round of war games would be "different" from previous ones, AP reports.

However, on the same day, an Israeli military spokesman speaking under condition of anonymity said his country was gearing up for the largest joint missile defense exercise ever held with the United States.

The drill, called "Austere Challenge 12," is scheduled to take place in the upcoming weeks. Its primary purpose is to test multiple Israeli and US air defense systems, especially the “Arrow” system, which the country specifically developed with help from the US to intercept Iranian missiles.
Perhaps more alarmingly to the Iranian leadership, thousands of US troops will be deployed to Israel in support of the drill.

While the Israeli military claims the latest exercises are unconnected with recent events, Martin Van Creveld, a military historian at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said the drill would be used to gain leverage over Iran.

"Defending against an attack is not something that you improvise from today to tomorrow. It's something you have to prepare, you have to rehearse… This, among other things, is an exercise to show Iran, the people in Tehran, that Israel and the United States are ready to counterattack," AP cites him as saying.

Tensions in the region have soared since the Islamic Republic threatened to block the Strait of Hormuz – through which one sixth of the world’s oil passes – in response to Western plans to ban oil imports from Iran.

And following Washington's decision Saturday to approve sanctions targeting the country’s oil Industry over Tehran’s alleged secret nuclear weapons program, the game of brinkmanship being played by all sides could push the entire region over the edge.