Archive for the 'Navy' Category

Marine critters that keep us safe (?)

Some of the nation’s most sophisticated military submarines are based in the chilly waters of Puget Sound, an inlet of islands, peninsulas and harbors that is worryingly vulnerable to terrorist attack from a furtive diver or brazen suicide swimmer.

But the Navy’s plan to use a squadron of highly trained dolphins and sea lions to patrol and protect the submarine fleet is running into opposition from those who fear the glacier-fed waters of the sound are too frigid for warm-water dolphins.

Full story, via Navagear

The ghost fleet of Suisun Bay

The USS Iowa is part of a fleet of over 50 ships that have been moored (and slowly disintegrating) for decades in Suisun Bay.  Photo: Telstar Logistics

SUISUN CITY (CBS13) ― More than seventy ships that once served our country are now just rusting away, polluting Northern California waterways. Everyone agrees that’s a problem, but is the plan to dismantle them dead in the water?

Even if it isn’t it’s costing taxpayers five million dollars a year to moor them there. Who’s accountable for the ghost fleet of Suisun Bay, and what are they doing about the problem?

They’re grey giants, an important part of our nation’s naval history, critical to the country’s defense as far back as World War Two. Now, more than 50 are considered obsolete and named on a list of vessels to be dismantled and sold for scrap.

Some of them have been rusting away for decades. This storage fleet was established just after World War II and is now managed by the National Maritime Administration, also called MARAD.

MARAD’s on the hot seat because the water around these ships is polluted with toxic metals like lead, zinc and copper. A 2007 environmental study found close to 20 tons of the toxins. Experts believe much of it comes from paint flaking off the fleet and say it’s spreading.

“Even down in channels in Alameda and San Francisco,” says Saul Bloom of Arc Ecology, an environmental group studying the fleet. He says the pollutants are even “up in the Delta, that’s how serious the problem is.”

Wooden Ships and Iron Men

and Plenty of Booze

On 23 August 1779, the USS Constitution set sail from Boston loaded with 475 officers and men, 48,600 gallons of water, 74,000 cannon shot, 11,500 pounds of black powder and 79,400 gallons of rum. Her mission: to destroy and harass English shipping.

On 6 October, she made Jamaica, took on 826 pounds of flour and 68,300 gallons of rum. Three weeks later the Constitution reached the Azores, where she provisioned with 550 pounds of beef and 6,300 gallons of Portuguese wine.

On 18 November, the ship set sail for England where her crew captured and scuttled 12 English merchant vessels and took aboard their rum.

But the Constitution had run out of shot. Nevertheless, she made her way unarmed up the Firth of Clyde for a night raid. Here her landing party captured a whiskey distillery, transferred 40,000 gallons aboard and headed for home.

On 20 February 1780, the Constitution arrived in Boston with no cannon shot, no food, no powder, no rum, no whiskey. Just 48,600 gallons of water.


German Coast guard trainee

Royal Navy sinks even lower

Ahoy, Billionaires: The Royal Navy Is at Your Service

PORTSMOUTH, England — In 1805, British Vice Admiral Horatio Nelson set sail from this seaside town to engage Napoleon Bonaparte’s fleet off the Spanish coast. The Englishman’s victory at Cape Trafalgar established Britannia as ruler of the waves.

Today, the navy that sank Napoleon has a new gig: tending the yachts of the rich and famous.
The Royal Navy and contractors have teamed up to train yachting crews. With the rise in production of yachts, the navy has embraced the sector, teaching everything from napkin folding to fire fighting. WSJ’s Stacy Meichtry reports.

In recent months, a Royal Navy contractor has started training butlers, skippers and stewards who ferry billionaires in their pearly white pleasure boats to exclusive vacation spots. One of its first clients is the captain of Ecstasea, the 285-foot vessel of Russian oil magnate Roman Abramovich.

A descendant of Lord Nelson’s isn’t amused. “I don’t expect anyone thought of such a thing in 1805,” says Anna Tribe, the naval hero’s 78-year-old great-great-great-granddaughter. If drill instructors divulge too many trade secrets, Ms. Tribe warns, the Royal Navy risks “Mr. Abramovich and his compatriots very suddenly coming to war with us.”

But Stephen Mackay, the retired Royal Navy commander who is running the program, says he’s fighting a more immediate threat to Britain’s national security: the Royal Navy’s need for cash.

 story at The Wall Street Journal

US Navy Mermaid cartoon caption contest

What’s the caption? Send us your ideas by midnight Tuesday – the winner gets free stuff!

Love the blog!  Many thanks for doing it.  Although I’m an east coaster, I even like reading about the west coast events.  Kudos!
My oldest son is in the Navy, so I follow Navy Times.  Their cartoonist recently put up a caption contest for a cartoon with a mermaid.  Well, merman more like it.  You might never use it, but I thought you’d get a chuckle out of seeing it.
Very best regards,

Thanks Buck, for the kind words and the find!  Readers can click the pic or the link to see the caption entries posted to date.

UPDATE (2/1/08):  Winning caption

Obviously Milton and Frank interpreted the order to “go drag the river” in different ways.

Winning caption by Lucy Hayes

Not so Illustrious


Are the US and UK navies becoming wimpified?  Judge for yourself.

  1. Faulty fridge sends warship back to base 
    One of Britain’s biggest warships was forced to retreat back to base Wednesday — by fears about a fridge.  The aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious sailed out Wednesday from Portsmouth on the southern English coast, the home of the fleet, to join multi-national operations in the Indian Ocean.   But “Lusty” had to turn back because a refrigeration unit used to store meat was in danger of breaking down.  “The sensible thing is for her to come in and get that fixed before she goes off again,” said Royal Navy spokesman Anton Hanney.  “It wouldn’t be prudent for her to go off with the chance of the unit breaking down while she was in warmer climates and then engineers would have to be flown out to her to fix it.” [full story]
  2. Herndon Climb, other USNA rituals changing

    To reduce the possibility of injuries during the annual rite of climbing the Herndon Monument, the Naval Academy may limit the number of freshmen allowed to participate in scaling the grease-covered obelisk.

    The Herndon Climb is but one of the academy’s spring festivities that is being reviewed, and some will be curtailed or even eliminated.     “Similar to how our Navy looks at all traditions in the fleet, we are evaluating the Herndon Monument Climb to ensure the event remains a valid part of our heritage but it is conducted with professionalism, respect, and most important, safety in mind,” academy spokesman Cmdr. Ed Austin said yesterday.  [story, history,  photos, YouTube]

To me, this all seems bizarre.  Wasn’t it bad enough when the stopped the tot? I can’t believe that today’s naval men are so delicate that they can’t live without ice cream, or that the US Navy has such a fear of lawsuits from the plebe’s mommys if one of their precious snowflakes stubs a toe.  If they wanted ‘safety’ they should have gone into accounting.


Dynamic SEAL extraction

Because nothing is more irritating than an impacted seal.

One of a kind


Honors:  the only ship of her class, Bilgemunky‘s ‘old stomping ground’, and the site of the infamous Navy Numa Numa. 

The supercarrier, USS Enterprise (CVN-65), formerly CVA(N)-65, is the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and the eighth U.S. Naval vessel to bear the name. Like her predecessor of World War II fame, she is nicknamed the “Big E”. At 1,123 feet (342.3 m), she is the longest naval vessel in the world, though her 93,500 tons displacement places her as the second heaviest naval vessel, surpassed only by the Nimitz-class. She is also the only aircraft carrier to house more than two nuclear reactors. Enterprise’s eight-reactor propulsion design was rather conservative, with each A2W reactor taking the place of one boiler. Unlike other carriers, the Enterprise was designed from a cruiser hull and she is the only carrier to be fitted with four rudders compared to the standard two. These unique design features are rumored to have made her slightly faster than other carriers in the fleet.

Enterprise was intended to be the first of a class of six, but construction costs ballooned and the remaining vessels were never laid down resulting in her being the only ship of her class. USS America (CV-66) was ordered as a conventional Kitty Hawk-class. CVN-67, with a new reactor design, was reordered during construction as the conventionally-powered USS John F. Kennedy. Series production of nuclear carriers finally commenced with USS Nimitz [CVN-68], the first of 10 Nimitz-class supercarriers. Because of her expense, Enterprise was launched without weapon systems (she was originally intended to receive two twin Terrier missile launchers); a later retrofit added three Phalanx mounts and two NATO Sea Sparrow missile launchers. In the 2000s her armament was refitted again, gaining two RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile launchers while dispensing with the forward-most Phalanx mount.

Enterprise is currently homeported at Norfolk, Virginia. As one of the oldest carriers in the fleet, she is scheduled for decommissioning in 2013-2015. Her intended replacement is the USS Gerald R. Ford [CVN-78].

General Characteristics

Displacement: approx. 93,500 tons full load
Length: 1,123 ft (342.3 m)
Beam: 132.8 ft (40.5 m)
Draft: 39 ft (11.9 m)
Propulsion: 8 x A2W reactor, 4 x steam turbine, 4 shafts, 280,000 shp (210 MW)
Speed: 30+ knots (56+ km/h, 34+ mph)
Range: Essentially unlimited
Complement: Ship’s company: 3,000 (2,700 Sailors, 150 Chiefs, 150 Officers)
Air wing: 1,800 (250 Pilots, and 1,550 Support personnel)
Armament: 2 Sea Sparrow launchers,
2 × 20 mm Phalanx CIWS mounts,
2 RAM launchers
Armor: 8 inch (20 cm) aluminum belt (equivalent to 4 inch rolled homogeneous steel armour)
Aircraft carried: approx. 66:
Forty three F/A-18 Hornets;
Four EA-6B Prowlers;
Four E-2C Hawkeyes;
Six S-3 Vikings;
Five SH-60 Seahawks)
Though can hold up to 90 aircraft

USN kicking pirate booty

somalia_pirates_wx109.jpg A U.S. Navy destroyer helped sailors who retook control of their vessel Tuesday in a deadly battle with pirates after the North Korean-flagged ship was hijacked in the piracy-plagued waters off Somalia, the American military said.  The Navy also confirmed that other American warships sank two pirate skiffs late Sunday after answering a distress call from a hijacked Japanese chemical tanker and said U.S. ships were still monitoring that vessel.

In Tuesday’s incident, a helicopter flew from the destroyer USS James E. Williams to investigate a phoned-in tip of a hijacked ship and demanded by radio that the pirates give up their weapons, the military said in a statement.

The crew of the Dai Hong Dan then overwhelmed the hijackers, leaving two pirates dead, according to preliminary reports, and five captured, the military said.

Three seriously injured crew members were taken aboard the Williams, the statement said. The captured pirates remained on the Dai Hong Dan, which the crew was returning to the port of Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital.

Full story

See also this good post on contemporary piracy at tugster.  I haven’t blogged some of the recent pirates-in-Somalia stories, because there are no pictures!

The Battle of Trafalgar, EU-PC version



(Politically Correct version of events for the 21st Century)

(from the Interweb)

“Order the signal, Hardy.”

“Aye, aye sir.”

“Hold on. That’s not what I dictated to the signal officer. What’s the meaning of this?”

“Sorry sir?”

“England expects every person to do his duty, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, religious persuasion or disability. What gobbledygook is this?”

“Admiralty policy, I’m afraid, sir. We’re an equal opportunities employer now. We had the devil’s own job getting ‘England’ past the censors, lest it be considered racist.”

“Gadzooks, Hardy. Hand me my pipe and tobacco.”

“Sorry sir. All naval vessels have been designated smoke-free working environments.”

“In that case, break open the rum ration. Let us splice the mainbrace to steel the men before battle.”

“The rum ration has been abolished, Admiral. Its part of the Government’s policy on binge drinking.”

“Good heavens, Hardy. I suppose we’d better get on with it. Full speed ahead.”

“I think you’ll find that there’s a 4 knot speed limit in this stretch of water.”

“Damn it man! We are on the eve of the greatest sea battle in history. We must advance with all dispatch. Report from the crow’s nest, please.”

“That won’t be possible, sir.”


“Health and safety have closed the crow’s nest, sir. No harness. And they said that rope ladder doesn’t meet regulations. They won’t let anyone up there until a proper scaffolding can be erected.”

“Then get me the ship’s carpenter without delay, Hardy.”

“He’s busy knocking up a wheelchair access to the fo’c’sle Admiral.”

“Wheelchair access? I’ve never heard anything so absurd.”

“Health and safety again, sir. We have to provide a barrier-free environment for the differently abled.”

“Differently abled? I’ve only one arm and one eye and I refuse even to hear mention of the word. I didn’t rise to the rank of admiral by playing the disability card.”

“Actually, sir, you did. The Royal Navy is under-represented in the areas of visual impairment and limb deficiency.”

“Whatever next? Give me full sail. The salt spray beckons.”

“A couple of problems there too, sir. Health and safety won’t let the crew up the rigging without crash helmets. And they don’t want anyone breathing in too much salt – haven’t you seen the adverts?”

I’ve never heard such infamy. Break out the cannon and tell the men to stand by to engage the enemy.”

“The men are a bit worried about shooting at anyone, Admiral.”

“What? This is mutiny.”

“It’s not that, sir. It’s just that they’re afraid of being charged with murder if they actually kill anyone. There’s a couple of legal aid lawyers on board, watching everyone like hawks.”

“Then how are we to sink the Frenchies and the Spanish?”

“Actually, sir, we’re not.”

“We’re not?”

“No, sir. The Frenchies and the Spanish are our European partners now. According to the Common Fisheries Policy, we shouldn’t even be in this stretch of water. We could get hit with a claim for compensation.”

“But you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil.”

“I wouldn’t let the ship’s diversity co-coordinator hear you saying that sir. You’ll be up on disciplinary.”

“You must consider every man an enemy who speaks ill of your King.” With our impending performance of the Nelson Mass to celebrate the’the Battle’next year,

“Not any more, sir. We must be inclusive in this multicultural age. Now put on your Kevlar vest; it’s the rules.”

“Don’t tell me – health and safety . Whatever happened to rum, sodomy and the lash?”

As I explained, sir, rum is off the menu. And there’s a ban on corporal punishment.”

“What about sodomy?”

“I believe it’s to be encouraged, sir.”

“In that case, kiss me, Hardy.”

Killer Robo-RIBs

robo_boat.jpg Navy Plots Unmanned, Heavily Armed Fleet

The Navy has just released its “Master Plan” for robotic ships — “unmanned surface vessels,” in sailor-speak.The idea is to produce a whole bunch of these USVs, to help fight “the Global War on Terror, Irregular Warfare, and conventional campaigns.”  And to give guns to as many of these sea-bots as possible.

The Navy wants to develop four main classes of USVs.  Three of them would be armed.

The three-meter long “X-Class” machines would be for “low-end” snooping and reconnaissance; like a robotic jet ski, with a camera attached. 

The “Harbor Class” would be based on the Navy’s seven meter long rigid-hulled inflatable boats, or RIBs.  These unmanned Zodiacs would be used for dropping mine countermeasures, and fending off boat-borne bad guys with a mix of “lethal and non-lethal armament.”

The “Snorkeler Class” is a stealthy, seven-meter submersible that would stay in the water for up to a day at a time, tow ing mine- and sub-finding-gear — and maybe even carrying a torpedo or two. 

Lastly, there’s the “Fleet Class,” capable of staying in the water for 48 hours straight, and reaching speeds of up to 35 knots.  The eleven-meter long USV would be used to do everything from carrying commandos to shore, jamming enemy communications, neutralizing mines, and delivering a “Harbor Class” drone.  Naturally, it would carry its own guns and torpedoes, too, so it could conduct ‘high end’ surface warfare missions.”

from Wired defense blog, via Neatorama

Blue Angles: mind the headstay!


Fishermen and pleasure boats got a treat after a member of the US Navy Blue Angels aerial aerobatic team made a high-speed pass right in front of them.

The manoeuvre sent a huge water vapour cloud radiating from the F-18 fighter during an air show in the San Francisco Bay area yesterday.


The Blue Angels’ mission is to enhance Navy and Marine Corps recruiting efforts and to represent the naval service to the US and foreign nations.

The team is stationed at Forrest Sherman Field, Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida during the show season and are due to fly 66 shows in the United States during the 2007 season.


Since its inception in 1946, the Blue Angels have performed for more than 427 million fans.


Navy Numa Numa

The mission of the Navy is to maintain, train and equip combat-ready naval forces capable of winning wars, deterring aggression and maintaining freedom of the seas.

   —  US Navy Mission Statement

… and perfect some sweet moves!

Thanks to Dark Roasted Blend.

Building the Drone Hive — Followup on HMS Daring

uxv.jpgBritish-based BAE Systems is proposing a sea-going mother ship for unmanned vehicles (UXV) of various types. A BAE news release sent out a few days ago describes the new warship as “the UXV Combatant, designed to operate in a future battle space dominated by land, sea and air unmanned vehicles. Using a proven naval hull form to launch, operate and recover large numbers of small unmanned vehicles for extended periods, the UXV plays the role of mother ship — a permanent base and control centre for the futuristic unmanned land, sea and air vehicles…”

An artist’s concept of the 8,000-tonne warship shows a low-observable (stealth) design with two large island structures amidships, recessed missile launchers forward, and a large flight deck area aft for operating Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). The ship’s hull and combat systems will be a development of the Type 45 destroyer.

The first Type 45 destroyer — HMS Daring — is now on sea trials. The Royal Navy plans to procure eight of these ships, which have a full-load displacement of some 7,350 tonnes and are 500 feet in length. The gun/missile-armed ship has helicopter facilities.

The UXV support ship, apparently based on an enlarged Type 45 design, will have a lower hangar deck for storing and maintaining UAVs, while the two flight decks will have a variable ski-jump ramp to accelerate the launch of heavily loaded UAVs.

[Never Sea Land’s post on HMS Daring]

[full story at  via]