May 31, 2008

Lawn Grues

 I am no longer really required at my folks house as  my dad is fully able to walk, my mom is off chemo and my grandmother continues to make progress, so this week I began the process of moving back into the trailer in earnest.

I arrived at the trailer Tuesday with a truckload of stuff that included a borrowed weed wacker. One important thing on the to do list being trim the yard...which had been completely untended for a month.

That became the major thrust of the operation. Not only was the grass much higher than I had feared,  the yard was full of  logs, limbs, rocks...umm...boulders...a sink, beer cans, beer bottles,  lengths of reebar, a toilet, bits of iron, various cuts of wood...mostly siding and plywood,  a catchers mitt  concrete slabs and plastic toys.

Oh, and my lawn mower didn't work despite hours of attempted resuscitation.

I did a little bit of work on the trees with a hack saw and left.

I used to have woods on 2 sides...now a landscaping business has moved into the former woods on one side...and some time in the last 2 weeks they cleared out those pesky trees....and presumably saved on disposal fees.

It rained Wednesday and Thursday.

Yesterday I arrived with a lawnmower, weedwacker, chainsaw, pruning shears and a crowbar.

The yard is now presentable.

As of when I'd left, the power had not been reconnected yet, that will come this weekend hopefully, but the water is on.


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May 26, 2008

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May 23, 2008

Damn Gas Prices....

 One of the Brickmuppets' Crack team of Science Babes returns briefly from the beach to review a few things regards that thing that's on everyones mind right now.... GASOLINE ALTERNATIVES.

There is a lot of talk regards Robert Zubrin's plan.
Zubrin is a talented engineer and has an amazing out of the box imagination. His plan is laid out here and there is a typically literate discussion of it going on at Jerry Pournelle's place here.

One big quibble I have is that Zubrin seems dismissive of fears that corn to ethanol processes will lead to food shortages, and indeed it is likely that a lot of the current spike in domestic food prices is due to petrol induced transportation costs.
However, both directly and indirectly, burning food will raise its cost and scarcity. (It's Science!)
Zubrins plan is interesting in other ways. While he is a biofuel advocate, his focus is on methanol. Methanol has a few disadvantages...
It's got poor energy density and it is corrosive, (eating aluminum and rubber) thus it requires  specially designed engines. It is also toxic but given that gasoline is not exactly FDA approved either this at least seems to be a silly gripe. Methanol (like Ethanol) is unsuitable for diesel engines and is generally used in otto cycle engines which exacerbate its poor energy density...One can go ~ half as far on a tank of methanol...assuming you don't have an aluminum engine block in which ones trip is shorter still.

(Much is occasionally made of the fact that Methanol can be refined (via dehydration) into dimethyl  ether which is a diesel fuel with a substantially higher cetane rating which gives it even better energy density in a compression engine than regular diesel. This is actually a superb diesel and jet fuel with spectacular energy density per volume...rather too much in fact as, unlike other such fuels it is highly  flammable, making it a safety hazard for ships and jets.It also is a gas at normal temperatures and pressures which nullifies  its energy density advantage and imposes handling problems. Thus I am very skeptical that CH3OCH3 is the answer to our fuel needs.)

   Note though that methanol has the very large advantage that it can be made from most types of trash as well as the inedible portions of crops....in fact it can be made  from virtually any bio-organic matter.

(This is an good place to remind people that non-edible portions of crops are not technically trash, they are normally recycled into the soil as fertilizer, so alternate fertilization methods are necessary...this is not insurmountable of course, but it is a nontrivial concern)

Methanol is, despite its disadvantages, a vastly better idea than corn based ethanol which is ranked by efficiency on this chart that will...er...spoil the lunch of ethanol fanatics.

Ascending order
Crop kg oil/ha litres oil/ha lbs oil/acre US gal/acre
corn (maize) 145 172 129 18
cashew nut 148 176 132 19
oats 183 217 163 23
lupine 195 232 175 25
kenaf 230 273 205 29
calendula 256 305 229 33
cotton 273 325 244 35
hemp 305 363 272 39
soybean 375 446 335 48
coffee 386 459 345 49
linseed (flax) 402 478 359 51
hazelnuts 405 482 362 51
euphorbia 440 524 393 56
pumpkin seed 449 534 401 57
coriander 450 536 402 57
mustard seed 481 572 430 61
camelina 490 583 438 62
sesame 585 696 522 74
safflower 655 779 585 83
rice 696 828 622 88
tung oil tree 790 940 705 100
sunflowers 800 952 714 102
cocoa (cacao) 863 1026 771 110
peanuts 890 1059 795 113
opium poppy 978 1163 873 124
rapeseed 1000 1190 893 127
olives 1019 1212 910 129
castor beans 1188 1413 1061 151
pecan nuts 1505 1791 1344 191
jojoba 1528 1818 1365 194
jatropha 1590 1892 1420 202
macadamia nuts 1887 2246 1685 240
brazil nuts 2010 2392 1795 255
avocado 2217 2638 1980 282
coconut 2260 2689 2018 287
oil palm 5000 5950 4465 635
note that of all biofuels listed, corn ethanol has the absolute WORST yield of any listed crop...naturally it is the one congress is pursuing with the utmost vigor.

Zubrins other big proposal is to mandate flex fuel vehicles.
 This is a very sensible idea and would mean that any car sold in the US would have to be capable of running on a wide variety of fuels including corrosive ones like methanol. This would allow consumers to buy whatever fuel was cheaper (perhaps seasonally) and solve a lot of the chicken/egg problem with alternative fuels....namely that people won't buy an alternate fuel car if they cant get fuel for it...and gas stations wont install methanol or other alternate fuel pumps if there are no cars to sell the fuel to. The downside to flexfuel vehicles is a slight reduction in efficiency since tolerances are necessarily lower. Also it has been pretty much accepted by now that it is challenging to say the least for any flexfuel otto engine to be made that will run on kerosenes like diesel fuel.

Ignoring, for now,  the potential represented by steam cars, this is bothersome because not only is the diesel cycle extremely efficient but the kerosenes and vegetable oils they have historically run on have very high energy densities.


Now two companies, Scania and Transonic Combustion have gone at this intractable problem  from the opposite direction and produced diesels that will run on alcohols...and unmodified on regular diesel...and on biodiesel! The Transonic development is rather closely guarded at the moment, but there is a bit of info here. Also, there is a good write-up on the Scania design (which is already commercially available)over at Green Car Congress.

Not only that...biodiesel, particularly from algae is an exceedingly promising fuel that need not interfere with crop production in any way. Brickmuppet Blog has ranted on this from time to time but there have recently been a  promising  development or two in this area.

Algael oil is 50 times as productive as the best non-algael  biofuel crops. There are hurdles to be sure, but certain species of algae produce oil as a energy storage medium and it requires very little refining to be used as fuel. The algae needs water, light, fertilizer and a sealed environment to keep competing , less "oily" breeds of algae, out, but its tanks need not be associated with farmland in any way, thus no food crop displacement. With artificial lighting (and assuming a way to mitigate the kerosene smell) the algael farms and pressing/refining rigs can be located in industrial parks or even cities. It is the only crop that can potentially replace petroleum in cars without turning the entire planet into farmland.

There is a very comprehensive overview of Algeal Oil theory here.

Note that with flexfuel vehicles, one need not worry about the need to replace ALL of the oil we consume. A mixture of algael oil, alcohols from trash and even our own domestic oil production would render us energy independent. The competition between the three would likely drive down prices over time as well.

Of course there is no such thing as a free lunch. None of the biofuel proposals will work without electrical input of some sort, either to facilitate fermentation or provide light, ventilation or just press the algae. Thus an external power source is needed. If one is serious about biofuels one is going to need to increase power generation capacity as our grid is already under strain.

If one is serious about biofuels one is likely enthusiastic about reducing pollution. Thus one is going to have to look at relatively non polluting sources of said power.

If one is not living in a fantasy land one needs to dismiss SOLAR and wind except for certain regional/ niche applications...our hydro is about at capacity and geothermal is useful in limited areas.

Thus if one is serious about biofuels one is going to be foursquare for  a crash program to increase our nuclear power infrastructure.

Ultimately, when it comes to alternattive energy, nuclear is the only alternative.

Nuclear is the future.

A rant from last year on THAT topic is here.

Today's 'Science Babe' is actually Emma Sky from the Phoenix Wright games. I believe it is  official artwork despite her summer attire.

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A Bit of Perspective...


Via Malkin :Cartoon via Red Planet

The government is making a lot more off the gas than the gas companies.

Keep that in mind the next time some populist pinhead threatens to nationalize the petroleum industry.

(just sayin'.)

Given the need to transfer to alternate fuels because of well founded concerns about feeding jihadism petro dollars and the need to increase self sufficiency,  gas (or other carbon tax) is not something that I'm in principal opposed to....certainly less than other taxes.

The downside is that (as we are seeing now) gas prices have a sort of pachinko effect through the economy and expensive gas is just obnoxious.

A tax however is IMHO vastly preferable to the sort of byzantine cap and trade system favored by the greens which involve a sort of UN sponsored "indulgence" system and give tremendous power to governing bodies over the means of production....which has been the evil opposite of a good thing historically.

UPDATE:It should also be noted in passing that the price of oil has not risen in absolute terms quite as much as it seems from looking at its dollar price....The Dollar has actually gone down quite a bit in value. This is not to say that more rfineries or production would not help, but the Dollar is a big issue in and of itself.

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May 22, 2008

Cold Wind

Over at Chizumatic, Steven explains why he feels a cold wind blowing. Oddly, this is based on the small number of ads in Protoculture Addicts, which is basically a very professional fanzine, however I fear his chilliness is not unwarranted, as has been suggested more than once .
 There is some interesting discussion in his comments. Go ahead and comment over there.


Update: Colder still (via)


Sad girl in snow is a screen cap from Kanon...obtained via the default source for all sad girl in snow needs.


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Fashion Force

 Richard Fernandez posts an off center but thoughtful piece on what seem to be positive development in Iraqi fashion, based in part on his own experiences growing up in the Phillipines.... The Ray-Ban Theory of History.

One of his readers, a USMC officer replies with his own observations.

Very good reads both.

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May 21, 2008

On the Diplomacy Front

Girl Duo to Represent Japan in 'World Cosplay

Summit'


We can only stand by and hope that Mothera will be appeased...
 

Via Wonderduck...
(who says he is too tired to blog about this...while denying any involvement with vampires.)
UPDATE: I should have known...this innocuous tip from the Duck...it was a trap.

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May 19, 2008

Dr. Who Season 3

 I've watched the DVD set of third season of Dr Who over the last few days. After the stellar first two seasons I had highly anticipated this.

Good points:
About the hottest "companion" ever. Freema Agyeman give a superb performance as Martha Jones, a savvy, and gorgeous med student who joins the Dr. on his trips through time and space. Martha is sharp as a tack, a fast learner and quite level headed.



Daleks...screeching and killing (while screeching).

The cat dude in the traffic jam...and his family.

Several interesting stories with neat ideas, great effects and superb pacing.

Bad points:
Most of those stories were saddled with tedious subplots ripped  from the headlines of...er...ABC afterschool specials.

Not enough Daleks screeching (and killing while screeching).

The 'Docktah' is not just PC, but seems to be channeling Leon Kass at times.

Pig people...which go a long way to cancel out Daleks....

The Doctor comes off as even more of a pompous, callous ass...

...and he keeps pining for Rose (a previous companion).
****************************************************
I did not see "Blink" as it refused to play on my computer.

Very uneven season, most disappointing were the Dalek episodes, (which was a very interesting concept muddled by silly, unnecessary subplots, pig-people and a high pitched squeaky voice) and the season finale, which started off absolutely superb, built fantastically and petered out with a Gainax ending of sorts.

Nevertheless it was, still enjoyable, though it is by far the weakest of the 3 I've seen thus far. I hope this trend doesn't continue.


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Numbers Again

CDR Salamander has an analysis of Australia's decision to buy an off the shelf  Spanish frigate design as opposed to a somewhat more capable American vessel. 

One of the Spanish vessels is seen here visiting Sydney.

The decision cost the Aussies 16 missile tubes...but the loss of tonnage and the use of an already existing design resulted in a large manpower savings and a sufficient cost savings to allow them to buy a fourth destroyer for nearly the same money as 3. Additionally since this is  a design that has been built...the bugs are already largely worked out so the cost overruns are less likely.

According to Eagle 1 the Aussies learned their lesson from the Collins submarine acquisition, in which they got one of the best diesel subs on earth, but could only afford a few and they are expensive to maintain.

The USN is facing challenges in maintaining even a 313 ship navy in part because it buys the absolute best of everything. While it is important to have the top tier vessels like subs and carriers be  top of the line, escorts need to be built in numbers, not just for screening the capital ships, but for escorting civilian convoys and detached duties. As Brickmuppet Blog has pointed out before, the best often is the enemy of good enough.

It should be noted in passing that the Spanish design is one of the AFCOM (Advanced frigate consortium) designs and as such can be built by Bath Iron Works.

Update: In the comments, the mysterious "leesea" points out that CDR Salamander posted the analysis of Joe Katzman of Defense Industry Daily.

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Ummm...What?





Via Wonderduck

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May 18, 2008

Some Beleated Jabberjawing on the "Chamberlain Smear"

Last week I did little but apply my right palm to my face when Obama's bizarre overreaction to an uncharacteristically good Bush speech. In the words of  The Instapundit ...

MEMO TO THE OBAMA CAMPAIGN: When somebody condemns appeasement, it doesn't help things to jump up and yell"Hey! He's talking about ME!"



Tonight I stumbled onto two less succinct but more comprehensive takes on this, which are worthy of linkage simply because of the spectrum of opinion.

The Anchoress likes the POTUS a lot and agrees with him on rather more issues than I do. She has a thoughtful roundup including the full text of the speech here and here.

Galrhan by contrast, strongly dislikes the the President, yet, is also deeply disturbed by Obama's reaction to a substantively correct speech.

Obama must have a guilt complex or something, how else can one explain how he sees this as a personal attack? Note, Hillary didn't react like a crying child, in fact she didn't react at all like Bush was talking about her. Why? Because no one in the world doubts she'll kick their ass, saw off their nuts, and mail them home to mommy. Everyone in the world but his supporters thinks Obama is weak, and it is why all the trash in the world love him. His reaction, and its associated pity party, only reinforces that perception of weakness.


It is not good for the nation to have such a stark contrast in perceived fortitude between the two candidates.



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May 15, 2008

On Hunting, FanGirls and CatBlogging

Hunters...


A fangirl relaxes with a good book.

OK...a book....

                                     


A cat...blogging...
                    

Blogging more than me right now actually.
                              


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May 14, 2008

A Good Treatment for Utter Dispair





Bwahahahahahahaha!!!

Of course she scares me less than Obama, but I still get to laugh.

Shamelessly lifted from  Rand Simberg.


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Oh Dang...I Haven't Ragged on Huckabee in Months

The Anchoress however, has not been so neglectful.

Read the whole thing. In fairness, it concerns some of his more fanatical backers rather than Huckabee himself but it is a reminder (as if one was needed) that the Jackasses don't have a lock on creepy messianic political campaigns in their primaries this cycle...just the successful one.






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Primal Scream

Bad day
Bad week
Bad month
Bad couple of months actually...
I withhold judgment on the year for now.


As hopeless and futile as my life seems right now, I'm not here, here, here, or here.

Perspective is not really a substitute for hope...but it is important.


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May 13, 2008

On the West Virginia Primary

Thoughtful analysis...with a Ghibli perspective.

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May 12, 2008

BEST NEWS STORY....EVAH!!

The United States Coast Guard has rescued the Navy sailing team.




via

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May 11, 2008

Joy in the Near Future

Astro posts on the assembly of his super-dimensional,  wave motion,  Minovsky modulated, paxis enhanced, shizuma powered, media optimized PC.

More importantly, at the end of said post he  reveals  that  Welcome to the NHK volume 4 is not just a forlorn hope to be cruelly dashed...but an actual tangible item available for purchase! He has spoileriffic video to prove it!

Wo0t!!

This black comedy is tasteless, merciless, and sadistically cruel to its target audience. It is also one of the better character shows in recent years.The neurotic ensemble is very well realized and several of the characters are actually quite poignant.

One thing that is remarkable about this series is the dub. I'm more tolerant of dubs than many fans as I often am doing other things while the TV is on, however this, hands down, one is one of the best I have ever heard  for a TV show. Only Black Lagoon had voice acting and direction this good.

As to volume 3, it was excellent and the ending left me really fearful of the possibility that #4 would never ship due to ADV's recent issues.

( Being slow, I did not realize what was up until she tossed the cellphone.)

Anyway, I highly recommend this show. 

Please avail yourself of spoiler tags in the comments.

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What could we buy for 6 NSC's? Comparison shoping...



The second of the Legend class, USCGC WAESCHE WMEC 751 is nearing completion and is naturally under considerable scrutiny regards quality control and design issues learned in BERTHOLF.

The Fiasco that has been the National Security Cutter program has led to some laypeople to propose putting a fork in it.

The response of course is that the ships are still needed, restarting the program would be expensive and would not take into account the hull specific lessons learned with the lead vessel.

If all lessons are learned and this ship is completed without the issues of its predecessor then the Coast Guard will have a very fine ship indeed. EVERYTHING I have hard about these vessels design is that they embody every thing that cuttermen have been asking for for 30 years.

Of course it is expensive, the best costs a lot.

The best can also be the enemy of the good.

These high endurance cutters, if they don't have any cost overruns will cost over 450 million dollars apiece....for offshore patrol vessels.

I recently blundered onto this PDF, which is concerned with the state of the Australian shipbuilding industry. This is interesting because at the bottom there is a list of most of the ships built in Australia in the last few years...and their costs....in US Dollars!

Australia has been building a lot of well regarded low end naval vessels for various countries....lets see what those countries are paying and what they get.

New Zealand has ordered a series of offshore patrol vessels from the Australian firm of Tenix.
 These are actually designed by the Finnish firm of Aker which designed the Healy as well as the new Mackinaw. They are ice strengthened and designed to serve in the horrific conditions of the southern ocean, which is broadly comparable to the Bering Sea in sheer nastiness. A good overview of them is here.

They are slower than the WMEC 750's and they are certainly inferior in some respects, but they cost 45 million. The WMEC 750's cost 450+million (and the Bertholf is breaking 600 mil)..thus being generous and going with the promised rather than demonstrated cost one comes up with.....
10 of these for one NSC...or 60 of these vessels for the cost of the remaining 6 Legends.

The finest ship in the world can only be one place at a time...as the Russians like to say, quantity has a quality all its own.

Going down the scale we find another Tenix design. This time for the Philippine Coast Guard, the  56m San Juan class  provides broadly similar capabilities to the Coast Guards 210' Reliance class. They are slightly smaller, have about half the crew and 6 knots faster. A company brochure on them is here and there is an industry analysis of their construction here.

They are fitted for (but not with) a 25-35mm auto-cannon on the foredeck (a strong point and provision for a magazine are provided) and carry such gold plated items as a decompression chamber for diver mishaps and a rescue/triage compartment for 300 people! At 25 knots they are slower than the USCG would like but unlike the Otago class mentioned above they are developed from a fast attack craft, thus their hulls are likely more amenable to high speed with uprated engines. Of course the Phillipine CG chose these engines for their outstanding fuel efficiency...something that is likely to become more pressing than 3-4 knots speed. No helicopter hangar but they have a pad and at any rate at 183 feet long are close to the USCGs high end patrol boats, of the Cyclone class. (The CG is short of patrol boats btw.)
The low balled cost of one WHEC750 would buy 23 of these vessels. All 6 would provide us with 138 patrol boats...with helicopter decks.

Golly....

This SAR vessel is the break point between the medium endurance cutter and patrol boat. The Australian firm of Austal, which is involved in the LCS contract provides the Royal Australian Navy with a similarly sized patrol boat, the Armidale class. These vessels have no helicopter deck but have a 30mm gun two large rescue/inspection craft, a speed of 26 knots and are designed for patrol in the hellish southern ocean as well as SAR ops in the teeth of Willie Willies. They are very seaworthy for their size and are reportedly highly regarded.

At 14 million apiece 32 could be purchased for the cost of one WHEC750 or 182 could be had for the cost of the rest of the program.

Golly willakers....
Tenix makes a broadly similar steel hulled, ice strengthened  vessel for the Kiwis that is a bit more expensive at 20million a pop.

Due to the size restrictions of many small boat stations, the Coast Guard prefers its patrol boats to be somewhat smaller than this, which is one reason we didn't simply build more of the successful WPC179's.

Helpfully Tenix provides a smaller companion to its 56m Search and Rescue Vessel....The 35 Meter patrol boat is very much more in line with USCG ideas on patrol boats....seen here behind one of her larger half sisters.
30 kts, a 30mm gun and a rescuee/triage area (not included in the PDF) . At 8 million dollars apiece thats 56 per NSC and for the program...336

Jeepers Golly Willakers!!

OK this is getting silly...pier space alone is an issue not to mention 6720 cuttermen if the vessels have a realistic crew of 20 in CG service.

There are lots of designs from around the world including, I'm sure the US, I just found numbers for the Aussie designs.

In an operational area as big as that of the USCG some large cutters are certainly necessary, and a far larger number of small patrol boats is desirable. Also the NSC program is not the alpha and omega of USCG budget.

The point of this above the paygrade rant is to suggest that we could spend the money better than on 8 ships, we plan to run ragged. This is true however fine the ships in question may be.

We could buy scads of cruising and inshore patrol cutters and use the money saved to buy a few icebreakers which we have to buy anyway, or even airships.....which are certainly cool , but I don't have any cost info.

UPDATE:
Spelling, syntax errors fixed.

There are many things that the linked PDF does not cover, including life cycle costs, such as fuel consumption and manning. As stated previously...contractor quality control issues notwithstanding,  the Legend Class is a very impressive design. The purpose of the post is not to bash that design, but rather to ask if that capability is worth the reduction in unit numbers it inevitably entails.

Welcome readers of Unofficial Coast Guard Blog and Information Dissemination . This blog has no format and generally deals with fluff, but, if this interests you, then  you might peruse the category list, particularly weapons n' kit and Maritime Matters ....Thanks for stopping by!

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May 10, 2008

Use What you Have...Or Throw a Fit?

Over at the Unofficial Coast Guard Blog, Peter Stinson is feeling played.

I am respectfully in disagreement.

Here is the deal. The Coast Guard bought a super whammodyne cutter some time ago. Named after the first Commandant of the Coast Guard, it is the largest vessel other than icebreakers the USCG has ever purchased.

It is bigger than a Perry Class frigate, has an innovative stern launch arrangement for its boats. It can conduct helicopter operations in Sea State 6. It brings together all the lessons learned from over 2 centuries of institutional expertise. It is ...on paper...a spectacular vessel.

As you likely guessed from the mention of paper in that sentence...it also has, as they say..."issues".

There have been concerns raised about weather the vessel will meet its planned 30 year service life (It won't unless it gets a structural refit in the next 4-6 years). The vessel costs more than the entire defense budget of Ecuador, and its C4I system is not secure.

This last is possibly the most important and expensive. The communication, command, control, computing and intelligence system needs to be absolutely secure electronically. The Bertholf's leaks like a sieve.

Now the Coast Guard has certified the Cutter as seaworthy and allowed her to be commissioned. The ship passed her trial run and was given a clean bill of health by the Navy and Coast Guard.

They did this despite the fact that the C4I system is insecure and cannot be used for any encrypted messages.

This has some people up in arms, and while their upsettedness over the Bertholf is understandable (this thing has been a fiasco) I think that the anger over this particular bureaucratic maneuver is misplaced.

A few weeks ago Admiral Rosa came and talked to our unit about various Coast Guard issues, inspected the troops and took questions.

Naturally, Deepwater came up.

The Admiral said that the aviation component of the Deepwater Program was proceeding quite well but that there had been many expensive lessons learned on the maritime side.

We were told that the structural issues on Bertholf were rather overblown and would not affect seaworthiness or safety and that the C4I issue was in fact the big problem. The ship will commission though it will take a long time to get the C4I stuff TEMPEST certified. The vessel is still a useful asset and will be capable of doing Search And Rescue and other operations without TEMPEST standards being met.

(TEMPEST is a set of standards for military communications and that is all we will say on that.)

This is jives pretty well with the facts as we know them.....no real sinister cover up going on regards this. Its the most obvious solution to the problem. It is heads and shoulders over David Axe's proposal.

If the Coast Guard were truly responsible stewards of the taxpayer’s money, the service would have rejected the ship, returned it to builder Northrop and electronics maker Lockheed, and demanded a refund. 


While his idea has appeal on a visceral level, the cathartic payoff of such a drama queen temper tantrum does not compensate for the loss of a still useful ship at a time the USCG's assets are stretched thin and at the end of their operational lives.

 Despite the expense and gravity of the procurement debacle, I see no reason to get the vapors over this particular decision. Getting the ship certified for sea duty sans its full C4I suite was, IMHO, the correct thing to do. I assume the ship can even operate with bolt on encrypted radios from, say,  the Army if it comes down to it.

Having a 500 million dollar "Building 750" sitting as a humiliation to the Coast Guard does not save any mariners in distress nor leverage any good out of this situation.

Now lots of people are anxious to see the heads of Admirals roll over this debacle. This is understandable. However, it now seems that most, if not all of the wrongdoing was on the civilian side, in particular a civilian who signed a document waiving the security standards for the contract....which he was not authorized to do, but is a get out of jail free card for the contractor.

The Coast Guard has not had much experience in procurement for the simple reason that we haven't been able to buy a lot. The only recent experience was with the 87's, the buoy tenders and the Healy. All went (er...relatively) smoothly as I understand it in part because the shipyards in question were small, civilian and generally ethically run....certainly in comparison with those who make money off the byzantine DOD procurement system.

The officers who took this job certainly did not cover themselves in glory, but it is unclear that they were incompetent or negligent as opposed to simply being inexperienced and unsupported in these matters. The contractor in question successfully butt-raped the Navy with regards to the LPD 17. Keep in mind that the USN has far more experience in dealing with defense contractors.

In the military, discipline and professional development is not about vengeance, it is about correcting mistakes and preventing their repetition.

Throwing senior officers overboard because they got set up for failure might give David Axe a woody, but it is not good leadership. To the extent that the Commandant is standing by and protecting his officers, many of whom have had long and honorable careers in the service of their country, he is doing exactly what good chiefs do for their enlisted people every day.

The priority now is to learn what went wrong, apply those lessons, see that this doesn't happen again and get the ship and her sister operational.

If there WAS wrongdoing on the part of any USCG officers then there is always a dark place in Leavenworth, but I think the Commandant is doing the proper thing trying to fix the problem rather than hunt for scapegoats.

I'm a third class enlisted and these issues are waaay above my paygrade, but the whole thing at this point seems to be beating a dead horse.

The ship has defective, insecure coms, and I would expect that the repair of the C4I system is going to be along the lines of George Washington's Axe.

However, it is not unseaworthy, it is new, big and capable of doing many things but is of limited use at a pier.

The USCG certified the ship as commissioned so they can use an imperfect asset to save lives and such. In order to do so they used "Yeoman-fu" to bend the pencil so they could ignore the broken radios and yet still accept the ship.

This seems like a reasonable response to a bad situation.

Of all the mistakes and screw ups that have occurred with the construction of this vessel, this pragmatic decision seems to be the last thing one would get upset about.


Posted by: The Brickmuppet at 11:58 PM | No Comments | Add Comment
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