Custom Search

Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Update on the Collision in the Gulf

The Captain of the USS Newport News has been removed from duty after the sub collided with a Japanese tanker in the Gulf. The following is a press release from the 5th Fleet Public Affairs Office:

BAHRAIN - Rear Adm. Douglas J. McAneny, Commander, Combined Task Force 54, completed administrative personnel actions involving select members of the USS Newport News (SSN 750) crew, Monday, Jan. 29, to include relieving Cmdr. Matthew A. Weingart of command due to a lack of confidence in his ability to command. Capt. Norman B. Moore has temporarily assumed command of the Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine.

Following a collision between Newport News and M/V Mogamigawa, Jan. 8, the submarine transited to Bahrain where it is currently undergoing a damage inspection and assessment, to be followed by temporary repairs. The submarine will return to the United States once temporary repairs are complete; at which time permanent repairs will be conducted. Legal and Safety Mishap investigations are in progress.

As a general rule Captains of submarines and any ships in the Navy are held responsible for any "mishaps" that might occur. I thought that it was interesting that the Admiral had a "lack of confidence in his ability to command." It makes me wonder if during the invesitgation if other things came to light about his Leadership abilities. I am not saying that the CO is incompetent, it was just an interesting choice of words.

Monday, January 29, 2007

USS Perch Discovered in 190 feet of Water

The USS Perch (SS 176) was discovered in about 190 feet of water in the Java Sea 60 years or so after the sub sunk in WWII. There has not been an official announcement from the Navy as of yet, but as you can see in the picture above there is little room for doubt that this is the boat. What is so special about the Perch from other subs that sunk in WWII? Well, read this and see that the Perch was not like most of the subs whose final hours are unknown but it is known that the sub was scuttled by the crew:

After a week of close contact with the enemy, obtaining information, Perch headed south searching for targets. In a night attack on a large merchantman off the eastern coast of Sulawesi (Celebes), Perch was hit in the superstructure, forward of the pressure hull of the conning tower, by a high explosive projectile which blew away the bridge deck, punctured the antenna trunk and temporarily put her radio out of commission. Efforts of her crew made repairs on deck at night in waters heavily patrolled by the enemy, and Perch headed for the Java Sea.

On the evening of 1 March 1942, Perch surfaced thirty miles (55 km) northwest of Soerabaja, Java, Netherlands East Indies, and started in for an attack on the enemy convoy that was landing troops to the west of Soerabaja. Two enemy destroyers attacked and drove her down with a string of depth charges which caused her to bottom at 135 feet (41 m). Several more depth charge attacks caused extensive damage, putting the starboard motors out of commission and causing extensive flooding throughout the boat. After repairs, Perch surfaced at two o'clock in the morning only to be again driven down by the enemy destroyers. The loss of oil, and air from damaged ballast tanks, convinced the enemy that Perch was breaking up and they went on to look for other kills, allowing Perch to surface.

With the submarine's decks awash and only one engine in commission, the crew made all possible repairs. During the early morning of 3 March, a test dive was made with almost fatal results. Expert handling and good luck enabled her to surface from that dive, only to find herself under the guns of two Japanese cruisers and three destroyers. As shells straddled the boat, the commanding officer ordered "abandon ship." With all hull openings open, Perch made her last dive. She was struck from the Naval Vessel Register 24 June 1942.

The entire crew was captured by a Japanese destroyer. Of the fifty-four men and five officers, only six, who died of malnutrition in Japanese prisoner-of-war camps, were unable to return to the United States after V-J Day.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Emergency Blow!

If you have ever wondered what an Emergency Blow/Surface looks like or have wondered if it looks the way it does on tv, check out the short clip below. The sub in the video is a Fast Attack, Los Angeles Class, submarine. I was able to experience this maneuver several times while on the USS Louisiana. It is a pretty cool feeling and a fun experience. If you ever get invited on a "Tiger Cruise" for a submarine, go. They usually do one of these for the guests and family and it is a lot of fun!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Weapons 101 - Part II

Well, here is the next in my series on Weapons. The Navy recently successfully tested a Rail gun. For those of you who aren't familiar with how a rail gun works, here is a short definition from Wikipedia:
A railgun is a form of gun that converts electrical energy (rather than the more conventional chemical energy from an explosive propellant) into projectile kinetic energy. It is not to be confused with a coilgun (Gauss gun).
Not only is this very cool technology, but it is safer,cheaper and will make warships firing from the sea more effective. With conventional type guns Navy ships can only fire about 15 miles, not including Tomahawk missiles which can go further. These rail guns can fire the equivalent of a Ford Taurus about 200 miles at a speed of around 380 mph! The rail gun projectiles do not even require an explosive to detonate upon impact. The force behind them is so great they can do plenty of damage without a warhead, even bring down buildings. I look forward to seeing improvements on the prototype and watching them in action against certain "enemy combatants".

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Big Zoof! Who knew?

I was waiting to see what the US Navy would say about the story involving a US submarine, USS Newport News, colliding with a Japanese tanker before I threw in my 2 cents. Well, here is the Navy's response according to the Virginia Pilot:
The submarine Newport News was submerged and leaving the Persian Gulf when a mammoth Japanese oil tanker passed overhead at a high speed, creating a sucking effect that made the sub rise and hit the ship, the Navy said Tuesday.

That is the preliminary finding of Monday's collision between the Norfolk-based submarine and the Mogamigawa, a 1,100-foot-long merchant ship displacing 300,000 tons.
Both were southbound, crossing the busy and narrow Strait of Hormuz while heading into the Arabian Sea.

"As the ship passed over the sub, it ended up sucking the submarine into it," said Lt. Cmdr. Chris Loundermon, a spokesman for Submarine Force in Norfolk.
"It is a principle called the venturi effect," he said.

You can read about the Venturi effect here. Basically when the large supertanker zoofed (submarine slang for a surface ship passing directly over a submarged submarine), the size and speed of the tanker caused a drop in pressure in the water above the sub and caused it to be forced toward the surface. The explanation is certainly possible, although this is the first time I have ever heard of it happening. There have been other instances of subs being forced to the surface through other circumstances, but as there are no references on the internet that I can find, you will just have to take my word for it! I am not sure how this will affect the CO and crew of the Newport News yet, but if the explanation is accepted, they may be ok. Most people do not understand the dynamics of operating a submarine and the forces that can potentially act on it, so it may be a tough sell to the general public. The sub is on its way to port for inspection so we may be seeing some pictures of the damage in the near future. I will keep an eye out for them.

Submarine slang word of the day: Zoof

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Weapons 101 - Part I

I have mentioned a couple of the weapons (on submarines in particular) available to the US Navy in previous posts. I decided I would post a few of the other weapons systems out there that are pretty amazing. I am starting with the Phalanx - Close-in Weapons System (referred to in the fleet as CIWS, pronounced C-Wiz). These are used on surface ships as a last chance weapon against anti-ship missiles and small targets that have gotten a little too close (including small boats, helicopters and mines).

They detect and track their targets and can spew out 4,500 rounds (20mm) per minute (that's 75 rounds per second for you mathematically challenged out there)! That can definitely tear something to pieces in a matter of seconds. Here are the General Characteristics from the official Navy Fact File:

Primary Function: Anti-ship missile defense.
Contractor: Raytheon Systems Company (formerly Hughes Missile Systems Company and purchased from General Dynamics Pomona Division in 1992)
Date Deployed: 1980 (aboard USS Coral Sea)Block 1: 1988 (aboard USS Wisconsin)Block 1B: 1999 (aboard USS Underwood)
Weight: 12,500 pounds (5,625 kg) - Later models: 13,600 pounds (6,120 kg).
Range: Classified.
Type Fire: 3,000 rounds per minute - Later models: 4,500 rounds/min (starting 1988 production, Pneumatic Gun Drive).
Magazine Capacity: 989 rounds - Later models: 1,550 rounds.
Caliber: 20mm.
Ammunition: Armor Piercing Discarding Sabot, depleted uranium sub-caliber penetrator. Penetrator changed to tungsten 1988. Block 1B will incorporate the new Enhanced Lethality Cartridge with heavier penetrator.
Type: M-61A1 Gatling Gun.

Now, see it in action:

Monday, January 01, 2007

The Best of the Best

45 years ago today, SEAL Teams ONE (Pacific Fleet) and TWO (Atlantic Fleet) were comissioned to "conduct unconventional warfare, counter-guerilla warfare and clandestine operations in both blue and brown water environments." In May of 1961, President Kennedy, addressed Congress in order to established Special Warfare Teams in the US Navy. In December, Congress approved them and the rest is history. SEALs have played significant roles in major conflicts throughout the world. The problem is that the public really does not hear that much about their involvement because of the secrecy surrounding their operations. Here is a little about what they do from the official Navy SEAL website:

Special Operations is characterized by the use of small units with unique ability to conduct military actions that are beyond the capability of conventional military forces. SEALs are superbly trained in all environments, and are the master's of maritime Special Operations. SEALs are required to utilize a combination of specialized training, equipment, and tactics in completion of Special Operation missions worldwide.
A tactical force with strategic impact, NSW mission areas include unconventional warfare, direct action, combating terrorism, special reconnaissance, foreign internal defense, information warfare, security assistance, counter-drug operations, personnel recovery and hydrographic reconnaissance. Although NSW personnel comprise less than one percent of U.S. Navy personnel, they offer big dividends on a small investment. SEALs' proven ability to operate across the spectrum of conflict and in operations other than war in a controlled manner, and their ability to provide real time intelligence and eyes on target, offer decision makers immediate and virtually unlimited options in the face of rapidly changing crises around the world.
The most important trait that distinguishes Navy SEALs from all other military forces is that SEALs are maritime special forces, as they strike from and return to the sea. SEALs (Sea, Air, Land) take their name from the elements in and from which they operate. Their stealth and clandestine methods of operation allow them to conduct multiple missions against targets that larger forces cannot approach undetected.