July 31, 2009

We can begin to fix this...starting NOW

There is a proposal to name the upcoming carrier CVN79 the USS Barry Goldwater.

Now I'm a Goldwater Republican and as our statesmen go Senator (and General) Goldwater is a better choice than most, but....no.
We need to end this now.
 One of the most irritating and downright offensive military developments in the last few decades has been the habit of naming United States capital ships after politicians. This is reminiscent of the former Soviet Union and corrupt third world nations. With the possible exception of George Washington himself, we really do not need to be naming our fighting ships after elected officials. Frankly, I'd find an alpha numeric system preferable to this.

 Carriers, were initially to be given names of famous battles and previous Naval vessels with especially distinguished careers. With this in mind there is a counter proposal for the naming of CVN 79 and it is an august name indeed....

ENTERPRISE

Few ships have been as pivotal to world history as the Enterprise of 1775 as that vessels actions on Lake Champlain may well have changed the course of the Revolutionary War. The seventh ship to bear that name was, for several months during the Pacific War, the ONLY allied carrier in the Pacific. Holding the line against nigh impossible odds, the "Big E" won 20 out of a possible 21 battle stars and was absolutely pivotal in winning that terrible war. The eighth ship graced with that name is still in service. The first nuclear carrier in the world, her record of movements reads like the history of the US Navy after 1961. Now approaching her 50th year, Enterprise the oldest ship in the fleet by a wide margin, and is due to retire before CVN79 is commissioned. There are few more appropriate names for a US Navy warship.

To wit:

Whereas the namesake ENTERPRISE has been proudly borne by two combat aircraft carriers of the United States Navy; Whereas the first USS ENTERPRISE (CV-6) (seventh ship to bear this name) and her embarked airwing and crew gallantly fought in every major battle in the Pacific during World War Two, including the signatory battle at Midway when vastly outnumbered by the ships and planes of the Imperial Japanese Navy’s Combined Fleet, ENTERPRISE, with YORKTOWN and HORNET struck a mortal blow, sinking four enemy aircraft carriers and turning the tide of the war in the Pacific; Whereas the same ENTERPRISE concluded that war as the most decorated warship in the United States Navy with 20 battle stars, a Presidential Unit Citation, a British Admiralty Pennant, Navy Unit Commendation, Philippine Presidential Unit Citation, and Task Force 16 Citation among many other accolades; Whereas the second United States Navy aircraft carrier to be named ENTERPRISE (CVAN/CVN-65) was the first such ship of her class in the world to be nuclear powered; Whereas that ENTERPRISE, the eighth ship to bear that name in the United States Navy is concluding a half-century of service to this nation and has honorably served in every theater of operations from leading the naval quarantine off Cuba in 1962 to conducting the first strikes following the terrorist attack on the United States on September 11th, 2001; Be It Resolved That the next nuclear aircraft carrier to be constructed (CVN-79) should bear the name USS ENTERPRISE in recognition and honor of the fighting men and women of the United States navy who have sailed in her namesakes through the centuries. We The Undersigned: Call upon the Congress of the United States to remand H. CON. RES. 83 and replace it with a resolution supporting the naming of CVN-79 or the next nuclear aircraft carrier to be constructed, the USS ENTERPRISE. Call upon the Secretary of the Navy to support this petition of the tax-paying people of these United States and name the next nuclear aircraft carrier to be constructed the USS ENTERPRISE


Steeljaw Scribe has got the ball rolling on this, you can keep it rolling by signing here.




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July 20, 2009

40 Years



40 years ago our parents and grandparents did this.
Then they gave up.
Let us not betray our children's birthright the way ours was.





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July 19, 2009

Chocolate Cornets are Best if not Consumed in Raspberry Heaven

 Some months ago I finished watching the last of the Lucky Star TV series. Due to life issues, a review has been languishing in draft form for just about as long. Rather more recently, I watched the entirety of Azu Manga Daioh, having previously only seen the first half. Both of the shows are quite similar on the face of it:
Both are based on 4 panel comic strips.
Both follow a group of girls through the three years of Japanese highschool.
Both have fairly dry humor, similar in tone to Shulz's Peanuts.
Both have likely been reviewed in depth by every blog that features any anime reviews on this side of Antarctica save this one.

However, I found the tone and rewatchability of the shows quite different.


more...

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Truck Troubles

I was very proud of the assembly that held the clutch cable in in the Pickup of Peril. It consisted of several wood blocks bound by plastic twisty ties. This was due to the fact that....well, it's an '84 Isuzu diesel PUP ....which was banned by an act of Congress...and they just don't MAKE a lot of the parts for those anymore.

Alas, there is a reason that Isuzu uses a different method of fastening clutch cables in their production vehicles.
The whole thing fell apart...
...in the Downtown Tunnel
...as I shifted.

Fortunately, I was able to finesse the thing into gear by precisely choosing the correct speed to shift. My cunning plan worked for 30 miles, until, just short of the auto shop, I encountered a stoplight. Hilarity, profanity and much perspiration ensued.

To top off the day, while transferring the contents of the vehicle, I dropped my watermelon, which exploded most spectacularly.

 So I'm now alternating between pedestrianism and driving the big 12mpg van my folks never use...'cause...well...it gets12mpg....This state of affairs wil persist untill the old truck can be repaired....enough for me to insert the non standard bits. There is welding involved, in part because the auto shop expressed considerable disapproval at the unique ability the driver of my truck has to view the road directly below said truck from inside the cab. This will probably be a week.

Yes the pickup of peril is perilous, un-airconditioned and has, shall we say, "unconventional fastenings" in places...

.... but it is paid for and it gets 44mpg.

So neener neener neener!

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Head for the Hills

...The Chinese have weaponized Jackalopes.

More pics but few details of this unexpected development at China Defense Blog.

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July 14, 2009

A Fashionably Late Debutante

Although there have been cost overruns and delays, the second of the competing designs for the Litorral Combat Ship has started sea trials.

Over at Information Dissemination, Galrhan provides the world with the first pics of the sea trials of LCS-2, which will be named USS Independence.



It appears that Austal and General Dynamics have successfully weaponized 'bad ass'

Good grief that thing is maneuverable!

One of the reasons this ship has hit so many time and budget snags may be that it was designed by Aussies, who are the world leaders in the trimaran hull form it uses and aluminum-smithing. I have heard that there was a very steep learning curve for the US Yard in these areas. This is a riskier design and it pushes US shipbuilding to the limit, but I strongly suspect this design will be more stable at all speeds and most sea-states than the Locheed Martin designed LCS1. It ought to have more room for growth and be more fuel efficient too, all other things being equal (which they may well not be).

As always there is a highly informed and interesting discussion in the comments of this post over at Information Dissemination. If this sort of thing interests you, then you should be stopping by there every day.

UPDATE: Gahlran  has a bunch of gorgeous high res pictures of the trials.

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July 13, 2009

The Natural Preadator of the Submarine

January 29 2009 was a dark day for the US Navy.

On that date the last active squadron of S-3 Vikings, once one of the USN's  primary antisubmarine aircraft was retired. It does not currently have a replacement, which is a cause for some concern. This happens as the main surface ASW platform, the Oliver Hazard Perry class frigates are nearing the end of their useful lives. As the last of those go, the helicopters that operated off their decks go away. The Destroyers with helicopter assets are not very numerous and in any event as they are effectively combination battleships and anti air pickets..... and ABM platforms....are likely to be stretched thin with their other duties. This unhappy state of affairs coincides with an explosion of the number and effectiveness of diesel boats in the  worlds submarine forces.


Worse still, is the fact that the USN is saddled with a broken procurement system. Ships and even planes can now take years if not DECADES to reach operational capacity. This will take years to fix. Thus any replacement aircraft that are to be acquired quickly and cheaply must be more or less off the shelf, preferably Commercial off the shelf...unfortunately there just is no carrier capable aircraft sitting on a shelf right now.

Topping off this perfect storm of grief is the current financial crisis which is only going to get worse in the near term and the horrific debt the US has incured in the last few months that threatens to bankrupt us...thus any replacement MUST be relatively cheap.


It would be unwise to postpone such a program.
The Second World War experiences of the US and Britain in the Atlantic and Japan in the Pacific demonstrated the price a nation can face when antisubmarine warfare is put on the back burner. Japan did not survive. Its ASW was an afterthought and the island nation was cut off from supplies of both food and industrial materials. Its navy instead put a huge ammount of their maritime industrial bandwidth into building comparitively small numbers of huge, expensive ships that were designed to be qualitatively superior to their foes....and which now litter the Pacific seafloor.


The US and the UK did beat the submarine menace in no small part because at the UK's urging the United States built over 100 escort carriers thanks to its massive industrial capacity...a capacity that has deteriorated. Now to a large extent such capacity exists only in....China.

That is, therefore, a lesson that is non-applicable in the short term.

There was one other interesting and generally unsung weapon that was unique to the USN in WW2. It may fit the requirements of cheap, off the shelf and effective airborne antisubmarine assets.

Dirigibles like the K class airship were astonishingly effective.

USS K-2 gets ready to kick DasBooty



Equipped with sonabuoys, radar, magnetic anomaly detectors, depth charges, and bombs, these little ships became one of the U-Boat commanders worst nightmares. They were actually much smaller than was thought necessary but they still had an endurance of a day and a half at ~60 kts and could hover to boot. There utility can be measured by the fact that not a single merchant vessel escorted by a U-Boat was lost to enemy action during the war.
After the war airships of improved types served as antisubmarine craft, and, increasingly, in the airborne early warning role. In the early 1960's, as part of a larger overall policy of making bad descisions, Robert MacNamera oversaw the dismantling of the Navy airship program. A few years later, it was discovered that hovering and being able to dunk sonars were very useful ASW traits and helicopters were pressed into service as ASW platforms.

Now the lack of any naval blimps today might make one think that there is no way to get this off the shelf. That is not necessarily the case.

The Viking, the plane we want to replace has a payload of about 4,000 pounds of ordinance.


The Zeppelin NT, a rigid airship has a useful payload of about 4100 pounds, so we are in the ballpark. Note though that sensors, like a good radar and a magnetic anomaly detection boom will eat into this, not to mention crew quarters.

 The Sentinel 1000 was originally designed with the Navy in mind. It has a payload of 6,000 pounds which allows a bit more leeway in installing sensors.


Endurance of most off the shelf designs  would be low, between 12 hours and two days , but they would have far more loiter time than a helicopter or even the Viking they replace. They could replenish at sea vertically like a helicopter to extend their range.  Larger airships could be developed incrementally with lessons learned and applied in small construction batches. All of these are smaller than the frontline airships the Navy was operating in the 1950's, so in a few years we could incrementally build up at least to that capability.

Airships are not perfect. Because of their large sail area they have difficulty handling typhoons, or hurricanes  and they tend to react badly to nuclear ordinance...

Yes, we nuked a blimp...because...well, we just HAD to know.
Click here for supahsize

...but as a quick and dirty solution to ASW aircraft they do seem to have some promise.

This post would not be complete without a brief mention of Aereons, hybrid airships and other developments of the airship concept that promise far greater performance...and have been promising since the early sixties....but have gotten no results. Military Airships is a very comprehensive site dedicated to these craft and Darrell Campbell is quite an ardent and eloquent proponent of their capabilities. His arguments are valid up to a point, namely that the hybrid airship he advocates have vastly greater potential than regular blimps. Specifically these designs combine a lifting body airframe and modern materials to greatly increase performance. However, while the tech is not unsound, it only works on very large ships and, more importantly it is, not mature technology. It will require considerable integration efforts as well as trial and error. These take time and money that we don't have. Rather than letting the best be the enemy of the good, it seems prudent to me to go with what we have and develop the ideal capability through trial and error.

There are many promising technologies that might aid us in hunting submarines, USV swarms, or small craft with dipping sonars using sprint and drift tactics for instance. But the good old blimp is here now, has a proven track record and might be had rather economically. It certainly warrants a look.


more...

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July 11, 2009

Suddenly...Good News.

The biopsy results came back yesterday.
My mother will not require any more surgery as they were clear.




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July 09, 2009

Quick Updates on Status

Mom had her surgery today.
Surprisingly, she is home already. A decision was made at the last minute to scale this back to be a an exploratory surgery for another round of biopsies so this was not the huge surgery that we feared. OTOH it will probably be the first of several.
She started throwing up a bit ago, so I've called into work and am standing by. However, other than that she seems to be doing very good.



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July 05, 2009


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