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A Kitsap-based sub just tested one of the most powerful weapons on the planet — twice

CPO Standards

Undersea Adventures of Victor Vescovo


Defense department awards $89 million contract for Bangor pier for Seawolf submarines


A Kitsap-based sub just tested one of the most powerful weapons on the planet — twice

Josh Farley, KitsapPublished 2:16 p.m. PT Feb. 20, 2020 | Updated 2:21 p.m. PT Feb. 20, 2020


SAN DIEGO — Gazing out toward the Pacific's horizon, David Ellingson watched on Feb. 12 as a missile suddenly popped like a cork above the waterline. Before it could fall, its rockets fired, propelling it upward.


In a matter of minutes, the missile disappeared into the atmosphere, with only a trail of smoke in its wake.


It's the third time Ellingson, a retired engineer who worked in the country's ballistic missile programs over a 42-year career, has watched a test of one of the world's most powerful weapons launch from a submarine hidden below the waves. 


"It's always an incredible sight," said Ellingson, who is president of the Bremerton-Olympic Peninsula Council of the Navy League. "It couldn't have gone better." 


The submarine responsible for launching the unarmed test missile, the USS Maine, recently completed a $371 million overhaul at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard. Testing the weaponry is its culmination of a modernization that extends the boat's life 20 years. 


The Maine is among 14 submarines whose mission is to provide a stealthy nuclear strike when the nation's leaders demand it. Its punishing payload can contain warheads with the explosive energy of 100 and 475 kilotons. By comparison, the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, at the end of World War II had the energy of 15 kilotons. 


More: Bangor subs to get new kind of nuclear weapon


'Execute our enduring mission'

Over a little more than three decades, the Maine and its Ohio-class sisters have launched tests of the missile known as the Trident II 178 times. 


And it fired not just one missile this month off the coast of San Diego, but two. Following the launch on Feb. 12, a second took place Feb. 16. The missiles, which achieve a height five times higher than the International Space Station, are believed to have touched down thousands of miles away near Wake Island, according to Hans M. Kristensen, director of the nuclear information project at the Federation of American Scientists, a Washington D.C.-based think tank.  


The nation's ballistic missile-carrying submarines are known as the sea leg of the country's "strategic nuclear deterrent triad," to also include the Air Force's land-fired missiles and nuclear-capable bombers. But the sea leg is known as the most survivable because submarines are hidden under the waves. About 70% of the nation's deployed nuclear weapons lie with subs and Bangor is home to the country's largest stockpile.


"I couldn’t be more proud of the way they executed both of the test launches," said Rear Adm. Doug Perry, commander of the submarine group that includes the Maine. "And I’m excited to get USS Maine back to executing our enduring mission, providing the nation with the most reliable and survivable strategic deterrent the world has ever known." ^



CPO Standards
Contributed by: Mike McCaffrey, Admiral (retired USN)

(Can't verify author/ed)

Never forget this, a Chief can become an Officer, but an Officer can never become a Chief. Chiefs have their standards!

Recollections of a Whitehat.

"One thing we weren't aware of at the time, but became evident as life wore on, was that we learned true leadership from the finest examples any lad was ever given, Chief Petty Officers. They were crusty old bastards who had done it all and had been forged into men who had been time tested over more years than a lot of us had time on the planet. The ones I remember wore hydraulic oil stained hats with scratched and dinged-up insignia, faded shirts, some with a Bull Durham tag dangling out of their right-hand pocket or a pipe and tobacco reloads in a worn leather pouch in their hip pockets, and a Zippo that had been everywhere. Some of them came with tattoos on their forearms that would force them to keep their cuffs buttoned at a Methodist picnic.

Most of them were as tough as a boarding house steak. A quality required to survive the life they lived. They were, and always will be, a breed apart from all other residents of Mother Earth. They took eighteen year old idiots and hammered the stupid bastards into sailors.

You knew instinctively it had to be hell on earth to have been born a Chief's kid. God should have given all sons born to Chiefs a return option.

A Chief didn't have to command respect. He got it because there was nothing else you could give them. They were God's designated hitters on earth.

We had Chiefs with fully loaded Submarine Combat Patrol Pins, and combat air crew wings in my day...hard-core bastards who remembered lost mates, and still cursed the cause of their loss...and they were expert at choosing descriptive adjectives and nouns, none of which their mothers would have endorsed.

At the rare times you saw a Chief topside in dress canvas, you saw rows of hard-earned, worn and faded ribbons over his pocket. "Hey Chief, what's that one and that one?" "Oh hell kid, I can't remember. There was a war on. They gave them to us to keep track of the campaigns." "We didn't get a lot of news out where we were. To be honest, we just took their word for it. Hell son, you couldn't pronounce most of the names of the places we went. They're all depth charge survival geedunk." "Listen kid, ribbons don't make you a Sailor." We knew who the heroes were, and in the final analysis that's all that matters.

Many nights, we sat in the after mess deck wrapping ourselves around cups of coffee and listening to their stories. They were light-hearted stories about warm beer shared with their running mates in corrugated metal sheds at resupply depots where the only furniture was a few packing crates and a couple of Coleman lamps. Standing in line at a Honolulu cathouse or spending three hours soaking in a tub in Freemantle, smoking cigars, and getting loaded. It was our history. And we dreamed of being just like them because they were our heroes. When they accepted you as their shipmate, it was the highest honor you would ever receive in your life. At least it was clearly that for me. They were not men given to the prerogatives of their position.

You would find them with their sleeves rolled up, shoulder-to-shoulder with you in a stores loading party. "Hey Chief, no need for you to be out here tossin' crates in the rain, we can get all this crap aboard."

"Son, the term 'All hands' means all hands."

"Yeah Chief, but you're no damn kid anymore, you old coot."

"Horsefly, when I'm eighty-five parked in the stove up old bastards' home, I'll still be able to kick your worthless butt from here to fifty feet past the screw guards along with six of your closest friends." And he probably wasn't bullshitting.

They trained us. Not only us, but hundreds more just like us. If it wasn't for Chief Petty Officers, there wouldn't be any U.S. Navy. There wasn't any fairy godmother who lived in a hollow tree in the enchanted forest who could wave her magic wand and create a Chief Petty Officer.

They were born as hot-sacking seamen, and matured like good whiskey in steel hulls over many years. Nothing a nineteen year-old jay-bird could cook up was original to these old saltwater owls. They had seen E-3 jerks come and go for so many years; they could read you like a book. "Son, I know what you are thinking. Just one word of advice. DON'T. It won't be worth it."

"Aye, Chief."

Chiefs aren't the kind of guys you thank. Monkeys at the zoo don't spend a lot of time thanking the guy who makes them do tricks for peanuts.

Appreciation of what they did, and who they were, comes with long distance retrospect. No young lad takes time to recognize the worth of his leadership. That comes later when you have experienced poor leadership or let's say, when you have the maturity to recognize what leaders should be, you find that Chiefs are the standard by which you measure all others.

They had no Academy rings to get scratched up. They butchered the King's English. They had become educated at the other end of an anchor chain from Copenhagen to Singapore . They had given their entire lives to the U.S. Navy. In the progression of the nobility of employment, Chief Petty Officer heads the list. So, when we ultimately get our final duty station assignments and we get to wherever the big Chief of Naval Operations in the sky assigns us, if we are lucky, Marines will be guarding the streets, and there will be an old Chief in an oil-stained hat and a cigar stub clenched in his teeth standing at the brow to assign us our bunks and tell us where to stow our gear... and we will all be young again, and the damn coffee will float a rock.

Life fixes it so that by the time a stupid kid grows old enough and smart enough to recognize who he should have thanked along the way, he no longer can. If I could, I would thank my old Chiefs. If you only knew what you succeeded in pounding in this thick skull, you would be amazed. So, thanks you old casehardened unsalvageable son-of-a-bitches. Save me a rack in the berthing compartment."

Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain.



Published on Aug 10, 2014 | Richard Wilson

Learn what life was like on a nuclear submarine back in the cold war 1970's from one who lived it - from secret missions to the Russians to smoking pot.







Defense department awards $89 million contract for Bangor pier for Seawolf submarines
osh Farley, Kitsap Published 4:08 p.m. PT Feb. 13, 2020


BANGOR — The Pentagon has awarded an $89.3 million contract to a Seattle construction company to extend an existing pier that will bring together an elite class of submarines on one dock.

Manson Construction of Seattle won the contract among five bidders earlier this month, the Defense Department reported. Work on the project, on the southern end of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor's coastline with Hood Canal, is expected to begin this year and wrap up in July 2022.

Other structures, including a fixed crane capable of lifting at least 25 tons, will also be built.

Spending bills passed by Congress and signed by President Trump in December contained the final $48 million in funding needed for the pier extension, located off Wahoo Road and just north of Carlson Spit on the Bangor base. The total cost of the project was funded over multiple bills.

The Navy said in the environmental review for the project that a single home for the three boats will curtail frequent transits through the challenging tides of Rich Passage and bring them together at Bangor, an epicenter of submarine training and administration. It would also potentially create space for Los Angeles and Virginia-class submarines at Bangor, though none are based there now.

"The pier will increase our overall flexibility and efficiency by freeing up limited pier space and resources in Bremerton while allowing us to group all three fast-attack submarines in Bangor," said Capt. Richard Rhinehart, commander of Naval Base Kitsap. "The timing of this award is important as it allows the construction to occur within windows that minimize the potential impact on our environment."

The Seawolf-class was developed during the Cold War and is known for being the quietest, fastest, deepest-diving and most capable submarine the country has ever built. Plans to build a fleet of them died with the Soviet Union's demise; the three that remain, built for $3 billion or so each, came to Kitsap in the early 2000s. The Seawolf-class is a part of the Navy's Submarine Squadron Five.

Bangor is also home to eight of the country's 14 Trident ballistic-missile submarines. In the environmental review, some residents expressed concern that the Seawolf pier construction and completion would require more openings of the Hood Canal Bridge.

The work is different than another dock project, just north of the Seawolf pier, that would add an $89 million pier and maintenance facility for vessels that guard the base's Ohio-class Trident ballistic missile submarines as they transit local waters. That project was among 127 others around the military whose total $3.6 billion in funding was diverted to build some 175 miles of President Donald Trump's border wall — though the diversion is being challenged in court.

The extension project is being administered by Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC), the Navy's public works arm.

“We at Naval Facilities Engineering Command are excited to have awarded this project and look forward to the upcoming construction supporting fleet readiness at Naval Base Kitsap," said NAVFAC Northwest Commanding Officer Capt. Chad Brooks. "As we execute this important project we will continue to serve as good stewards of the local environment.” 



In April 1945, with the Soviet army closing in from the East and an Anglo-American army closing in from the West, it seemed that Nazi Germany's fate was a foregone conclusion.

Within weeks, Berlin had been captured by Soviet forces, Adolf Hitler had committed suicide and, on May 7, Germany surrendered unconditionally.

The outcome of the European war, however, could have turned out very differently had Hitler been able to stage the last-ditch defense he had planned in the Bavarian Alps.

Termed the "National Redoubt," or Alpine Fortress, it was centered on Hitler's retreat in Berchtesgaden, the Berghof. It consisted of a system of defensive works in the rugged Bavarian Alps. At its center was a command complex of 200,000 square feet hollowed out in the mountain beneath Hitler's chalet. The complex was surrounded by an additional 50 buildings and was intended as an alternative headquarters for the German government to carry on the war effort if Berlin fell.

The command complex was connected by tunnels to the nearby town of Berchtesgaden and was also connected to the German rail network.

The existence of the National Redoubt was known to the Allies. The effort had been organized by Heinrich Himmler beginning in November 1943. Most of the leading Nazis had homes around Berchtesgaden.

Nazi air chief Herman Goering, for example, was captured in the area after the end of the war. Additionally, a number of trains filled with loot pillaged by the Nazis from occupied Europe were also discovered in the vicinity.

With Germany's industrial heartland occupied by U.S. and British forces, and with Berlin in the hands of Soviet forces, what would have been the point of needlessly continuing a war that Germany could not possibly win?

Hitler had longed believed that the alliance between the U.S. and Great Britain, on the one hand, and the Soviet Union on the other would ultimately fail. He was certain that the two sides would eventually find themselves in conflict over the control of Europe.

When the Allied coalition eventually collapsed, Hitler reasoned, each side would seek Nazi Germany as an ally to bolster their forces against the other party, giving the Nazis a way out from what seemed to be certain doom.

Hitler was right, both about the eventual collapse of the wartime Allied coalition and about the eventual rehabilitation of Germany, though his timing was off by about a decade. Anglo-American cooperation with the Soviet Union eventually gave way to a Cold War, beginning in 1948, that would last for a half century.

Moreover, alarmed by the strength of Soviet forces in Eastern Europe, the U.S. in 1955 successfully pushed for the inclusion of the Federal Republic of West Germany into the NATO alliance and to the creation of a half-million-strong German army.

The possibility that the defeat of Nazi Germany would trigger a new round of fighting between the Soviet Union and Anglo-American forces was an eventuality that was considered by both the Anglo-American allies and the Soviet Union.

Documents released after the collapse of the Soviet Union confirmed that Joseph Stalin had considered ordering Soviet forces to continue to push west all the way to the English Channel after the fall of Berlin -- a decision that would have brought them into conflict with U.S. and British forces.

Ultimately, Stalin demurred, believing that the rapid withdrawal of U.S. forces from Europe and the chaos precipitated by the war would allow Soviet forces to roll over the rest of Europe with little, if any, opposition.

British Prime Minister Winston Churchill also was concerned that Soviet forces would continue to advance westward following the collapse of Nazi resistance. In the spring of 1945, he ordered the Joint Planning Staff of the British Armed Forces to develop a contingency plan in the event of a surprise attack by Soviet forces in Germany. Termed Operation Unthinkable, the original plan called for repulsing the Soviet attack and then a counterattack with the objective of pushing Soviet forces back to the Vistula River.

The plan was later modified to envision a British defense of Western Europe in the event that U.S. troops were withdrawn and the Soviets mounted an invasion toward the North Sea and the Atlantic coast of France.

The British plans for Operation Unthinkable were not declassified and released until 1988. It's likely that Stalin had some knowledge of the British plans for Operation Unthinkable, as it is believed that some of the details were leaked to the Soviets by Soviet agent Guy Burgess and other members of the notorious Cambridge Five spy ring.

Some awareness of the British plans may explain why, in June 1945, Soviet Army commander Marshal Georgy Zhukov ordered Soviet troops in Poland and East Germany to regroup and adopt defensive positions.

At the heart of both Hitler's and Churchill's plans was the German Army Group C. The army group was tasked with the defense of northern Italy and occupied a region stretching from northern Italy to western Austria and southeastern Germany.

Numbering an estimated 1.3 million men, most of whom were being held in reserve, Hitler envisioned that Army Group C would provide the manpower for the defense of the National Redoubt in the Bavarian Alps.

The role of the National Redoubt and its feasibility in prolonging the war has been hotly debated. Some historians, most notably Stephen Ambrose, have dismissed the National Redoubt as a myth created by German intelligence and doubted it would have made a difference.

Nonetheless, starting in February 1945, the Allies began receiving reports that German military, government and Nazi party officials and their staff had begun relocating to the region around Berchtesgaden. That same month, the SS evacuated scientists and engineers engaged with the V-2 rocket program at the Peenemunde Army Research Center to the National Redoubt.

Himmler believed that the Nazis could hold out in the National Redoubt for five years and that, from this secure location in the Bavarian Alps, they could direct a counterinsurgency campaign against the Allies by 200,000 Nazi sympathizers.

U.S. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, supreme commander of the Allied Expeditionary Force in Europe, took reports of the German strategy to hold out in the National Redoubt seriously enough to bolster Allied strength on the southeastern front to allow for a quick thrust across Bavaria and into Austria in order to cut off German troops from reinforcing the redoubt.

Concerns about the existence of a National Redoubt also influenced Eisenhower's decision to forgo advancing into Germany on a narrow front in order to seize Berlin first, as U.S. Gen. George S. Patton and British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery had advocated, in favor of a broad advance across Germany and a thrust to the southeast across Bavaria and western Austria.

Churchill's Operation Unthinkable also relied on Army Group C, envisioning their recruitment into an Anglo-American army tasked with rolling back Soviet forces and later into a British army resisting a Soviet thrust across Western Europe.

Which brings us to Operation Sunrise. In February 1945, Waffen SS Gen. Karl Wolff sent a message to the Allies, through Swiss intelligence, that he was prepared to negotiate the surrender of Army Group C. Between February and May 1945, Wolff met with OSS agent Allen Dulles to discuss the surrender terms.

As part of the negotiations, Dulles agreed to shield Wolff from potential prosecution for war crimes. The Allies believed that Wolff had been complicit in the murder of East European Jews. Evidence that emerged later implicated him in the murder of up to 300,000 civilians, most of them East European Jews, but he was never charged with any crimes.

Wolff refused to meet with Dulles if Soviet representatives were also present. The U.S. did not inform the Soviets of the negotiations until March 16. The disclosure triggered a heated exchange of letters between U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and Stalin, and Soviet claims that the U.S. was negotiating a separate peace with Nazi Germany.

In turn, it has been rumored that Wolff, who had not been authorized to conduct negotiations with the Allies, informed Berlin that he was discussing an agreement to provide safe passage to Adolf Hitler and other leading Nazis, and a possible anti-Soviet military alliance between Anglo-American forces and Nazi Germany.

It's not clear whether any of this is true. It may have been the work of Soviet propagandists trying to create a story that the Allies had considered or even begun negotiating a separate peace with the Nazis.

It also created the basis for a later Soviet claim that Hitler had escaped with Allied assistance from Berlin. Had Wolff really told his superiors that he was negotiating a military alliance with the U.S. and Great Britain, it's hard to imagine that Berlin would not have sent someone more senior to conduct the negotiations.

In any case, an instrument of surrender was signed on April 29, 1945, effective May 2. With the surrender of Army Group C, any possibility of holding out in the National Redoubt ended. The next day -- April 30, 1945 -- Hitler committed suicide, although the exact date of his death is still debated. On May 7, Karl Donitz signed the instrument of unconditional surrender on behalf of the German government.

After the war, Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden was bulldozed by the German government. The ruins were planted with trees, and any trace of its existence was eliminated lest the site become a shrine to the dead Nazi leader. The tunnels and command post drilled into the mountain were sealed off. Some tunnels beneath Berchtesgaden, however, have been reopened and are accessible to visitors.

It remains unclear to this day whether the Nazis' National Redoubt strategy would have succeeded in prolonging the war until the collapse of the Anglo-American-Soviet coalition. With the surrender of Army Group C, however, it was no longer a viable option. Within days of that surrender, Hitler was dead and the Nazi government had also surrendered.

The war in Europe was over, although not quite in the way the Nazis had imagined it would end.

-- The opinions expressed in this op-ed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of If you would like to submit your own commentary, please send your article to for consideration.



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