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Monday, October 16, 2017 07:06 AM



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Stuff you won't see in the local fish wrappers"


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Self-Control Empowers Individuals and Organizations (Part 1 of 10)

Guam-based guided-missile submarine makes port call to South Korea

To those who served


U.S. Nuclear Sub In Korea – U.S. Military

Pearl Harbor Shipyard Is Navy's Most Backlogged

‘I now hate my ship’: Surveys reveal disastrous morale on cruiser Shiloh

Unraveling the Thresher's Story

Gen. Keane discusses US counterterrorism efforts in Africa

Self-Control Empowers Individuals and Organizations (Part 1 of 10)

Leadership and management books and articles generally fail to provide a proper prospective on good leadership techniques. These “how-to-do-it” books often omit environmental factors that are significant contributors to good leadership.

To provide balance between “perspective” and “how to-do-it,” I identified ten behaviors that truly help us lead. Interestingly enough, these behaviors not only apply to individuals but also define superb organizations.

These behavioral lessons were hard learned. Not every leadership endeavor I undertook succeeded. My plan is to be straight-forward in providing perspective to each behavior as we to openly examine leadership.

For this, my first installment, I address self-image.

Self-image starts with the ability to look in the mirror and say “I’m okay, and the mistakes I’ve made will be corrected.” But self-image is more than knowing yourself; it is imagining your future. Good self-image has the incredible ability to allow people to make things happen. It can work at any level and can define an individual or team of any size.

As I review my own influence over the years, I’m always taken with how positive individual and organizational self-image enabled good things to occur that previously had not been possible. I watched how a team first imagined and then worked doggedly to realize the permanent stationing of nuclear-powered submarines in Guam. At West Valley Demonstration Project in New York, we saw workers envision and implement the use of railroad gondola cars instead of trucks to efficiently remove nuclear waste from the site. It was impressive to see a force believe they could create an environment to minimize sailor attrition within the Pacific Submarine Force, and then watch them do it.

Strong self-image assists individuals and teams in overcoming fear and building courage. We all experience fear, whether speaking before classmates or on a night patrol behind enemy lines. But the more we face our fears, the easier it is to face them next time. We always are fearful of unknowns, and most people fear the embarrassment of failure or rejection.

A solid self-image is an antidote for fear and a foundation for courage. Performing in a new, strange, or competitive situation requires courage. Courage is the will to do the right thing. Closely associated with courage is the wisdom to know what is right. To make self-image work, the individual or team must think long and hard using the information and experience available to decide the right course of action to make a dream come true.

Some questions to ask include:

· Is it legal, moral, and ethical?

· Is it financially sound?

· Does one have the physical, mental, and financial resources required?

· Is the successful outcome worth the physical and/or financial risk?

· Is the team on board?

Once you have imagined something and you have answered the right questions, you must decide if you are capable. Are you or can you be prepared? With the conviction that your decision is correct and the self-confidence that you can perform the task, comes the courage to follow through. After deciding to move forward, it is time to act, take the leap, start the company, or make something that did not exist.

In the end, if the only things holding you back from of a new venture is fear of failure, embarrassment, rejection, or a temporary financial reversal, go for it! It is better to have tried and failed than not to have tried at all. In trying, one learns valuable lessons, and most people will admire you for trying.

A positive self-image allows an individual or group to grow. It leads to making something that does not exist a reality. Can you image how powerful and influential an individual or team could be if they made one or two things happen that had not previously been considered?

Self-image is a building block of individual or team influence. This behavior creates a warm and vibrant environment in which individuals and teams thrive. It creates an atmosphere where ideas can be exchanged, risk aversion is minimized, and people are encouraged to take advantage of their individual talents. Success, teamwork, and a feeling of fulfillment always follow.

Vice Admiral Konetzni, known as “Big Al, the Sailor’s Pal,” served as the deputy and chief of staff to the Commander, Fleet Forces Command, before retiring from the Navy in 2004. His previous assignments included Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet. In 2016 he retired as vice president and general manager of Oceaneering International Inc.’s Advanced Technologies Marine Services Division. 

Guam-based guided-missile submarine makes port call to South Korea
Kim Gamel, Stars and Stripes, October 13

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan pulls into Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 13, 2017.

SEOUL, South Korea — The USS Michigan arrived in the southern port city of Busan on Friday, the second U.S. submarine in as many weeks to arrive on the divided peninsula.

The Navy said the Ohio-Class guided-missile submarine was making a routine visit during a regularly scheduled deployment to the region.

But the port call comes at a time of escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, which has stepped up the pace of its nuclear weapons program.
President Donald Trump has threatened to “totally destroy” the North if forced to defend the U.S. or its allies.

Washington has agreed to deploy so-called strategic assets in and around South Korea on a more regular basis to provide better deterrence against the North.

South Korea sees that as an important measure of the U.S. commitment to the longstanding alliance between the two allies who fought together in the 1950-53 Korean War.

The 560-foot-long USS Michigan, which weighs more than 18,000 tons when submerged, is armed with tactical missiles and capable of launching strikes and supporting missions by special operation forces, a statement said.

Its homeport is Bremerton, Wash., but the submarine is based in the U.S. Pacific island territory of Guam.

The smaller USS Tucson, which is capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles, made a port call last Saturday at the U.S. base in Chinhae.

The U.S. also has sent Guam-based B-1B bombers over the peninsula twice in recent weeks in a show of force amid speculation the North is preparing to conduct another ballistic-missile test.

The communist state has test-fired dozens of missiles over the past year and a half, most recently on Sept. 15 when it sent a missile over Japan.

It also has conducted six underground nuclear tests since 2006, including its most recent and powerful on Sept. 3.

“The U.S. and [South Korean] navies have always enjoyed a strong relationship,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of Naval Forces Korea.

“Today, our relationship is stronger than it has ever been and our ironclad partnership is further reinforced by this visit from Michigan.”

The deployment of U.S. bombers, submarines and aircraft carriers to the peninsula always infuriates the North, which considers it a sign of aggression and signal of preparations for an invasion.

Experts have warned the uptick in belligerent rhetoric from Trump and posturing by the military could lead to a miscalculation and possibly an open conflict.

About 28,500 U.S. service members are based in South Korea, which remains technically at war with the North after the three-year war ended in an armistice instead of a peace treaty..

To those who served
 Outstanding words from this Medal of Honor Veteran  .  .  .


Regretfully, many people in this country, both young and old, have no idea what this man is talking about.






 Mr. Bruce Rule | September 2017 "The Submarine Review" | Naval Submarine League

 (Imagery added by ed)


Bruce Rule analyzed acoustic detections of the loss of the USS Thresher  (SSN 593), testified before that Court of Inquiry, and subsequently was the lead acoustic  analyst at the Office of Naval Intelligence for 42  years. In  2008, confirmed the USS Scorpion (SSN 589) was lost because the main battery exploded. (1)   In  2009,  established for the first time at any security  level  that the GOLF II  Class Soviet  SSB (K-129) was lost because two R-2l/D4 ballistic missile fired sequentially to fuel-exhaustion within in the pressure-hull, killing the crew and causing enormous structural damage. (2)  




In  2008, Daniel McMillin (1929-2015), an electrical and mechanicaengineer who was part of the AT&T BellLabs "brain  trust" involved in the development and evolution of the Navy's Sound Surveillance System, provided the author with a three minute tape recording of acoustic signals  produced  by  the  loss of the USS Scorpion as detected at a range of 821 nm by a single hydrophone located near the island of Lal'alma in the Canary Archipelago.




Analysis of thatrecording confirmed

the Scorpion  pressure hull  collapsed at a depth of 1530 feet (680  psi) at 18:42:342 on 22 May 1968 while the more pressure depths of resistant torpedo tubes

survived within the wreckage to collapse at  3370, 3750, 3810, 3950, 4510, 

and 4750 feet. (1)   


In 2017, refined analysis of those data  identified for the first time the temporal

 asymmetry of the compression and expansion phases of the acoustic signal 

(bubble pulse) produced by the collapse of a submarine pressure hull.   The duration of the compression phase of  the Scorpion hull-collapse

was 0.037s ((37  milliseconds (ms) or 1/27th of a second)) while  the duration

of the expansion (rebound) phase of thnoise radiating bubble-pulse was about 190 ms.  


Temporal asymmetry exists between the compression and expansion phases 

of the bubble pulse acoustic signal because the duration of thecollapse phase is truncated by the collapse phase pressure wave encountering the compacting

mass of  the hull and internal structures whereas the expansion phase emanates less abruptly when the falling pressure of that expanding wave  and its

momentum are overcome by the ambient pressure at  the collapse depth.   


Extensive imagery  obtained of the Scorpion wreck by the US sub­mersible Trieste confirmed the engine room had  symmetrically "telescoped" 50 feet forward when the cone to cylinder transition junction failed between  the auxiliary machine space and the engine  room. The propeller  shaft with the propeller still  attached was found to have separated from the after section of the hull.  It fell separately to  a depth of 11,100-feet.


Whether  loss  of  the  propeller   shaft  caused  the  loss  of Scorpion   or was the  result  of collapse  of the  pressure hull  at great  depth  has been   a  subject of continuing  debate.  



  As discussed above, analysis confirmed the duration of the collapse phase was  p1/27th of a second  (0.037 seconds), a time within which the telescoping after

  hull sections traveled 50 feet, values that require an average velocity of

  about 900 mph.The velocity of the intruding water ram which produced that

  compressive force was 2000 mph.   


It was this enormous axially-aligned forward vector opposed (primarily)by inertial forces (a body at rest tends to stay at rest) acting on both the shaft and   the propeller, and (secondarily) by the resistance of the water  acting on the effective blade area of the propeller that tore the shaft, with  the propeller still attached from the thrust block an out of the submarine where it fell separately to the bottom to be imaged near the telescoped after hull sections by Trieste.  Imagery also showed the retention separated from the body of the  shaft.  Basically, the after sections of the Scorpion accelerated forward (away from)the propeller and its attached shaft at 900 mph leaving the unsupported shaft  to  sink to the  bottom.

This  assessment  resolves the longstanding  issue:  was  loss  of the  propeller shaft the cause or the  result  of the  loss  of the  USS  Scorpion?  The acoustic  data confirms it was the result of collapse of the pressure-hull. 

An  alternate explanation that the propeller had lost (''thrown") a blade and the resulting rotational imbalance separated the shaft causing blade and the resulting rotational imbalance separated the shaft causing the  loss of Scorpion  is  disproven.


l.  "WHY  THE  USS   SCORPION (SSN   589)  WAS  LOST." Nimble  Books  LLC,   

2.  TI-IE  SUBMARINE  REVIEW,   Spring  2012  (Pages98-105),  "Russian   SSBNs 
A  'Dead  Man'  Launch  Capability?"   


Lots more details of Scorpion here   ^


U.S. Nuclear Sub In Korea – U.S. Military
Lee Chi-dong, Yonhap News Agency, October 10

SEOUL – A U.S. nuclear-powered fast-attack submarine arrived in South Korea last weekend as part of its regional deployment, the U.S. military announced Wednesday.

The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Tucson (SSN 770) made a port call in Jinhae, also known as Chinhae, in the country's southeastern region Saturday, according to the Pacific Command (PACOM).

"With a crew of approximately 150, Tucson can conduct a multitude of missions and maintain proficiencies of the latest capabilities of the submarine fleet," the Hawaii-based command said on its website. "Tucson's crew operates with a high state of readiness and is always prepared to tackle any mission that comes their way."

It quoted Cmdr. Chad Hardt, commanding officer, as highlighting the significance of the alliance.

"The Korean-American relationship is very important, and our visit to Chinhae gives us the opportunity to strengthen the outstanding relationship that exists between the U.S. and the Republic of Korea," he said.

The U.S. sailors have engaged in various activities in South Korea, including culture experience programs, a South Korean defense source said.

PACOM did not elaborate when the Tucson, based in Hawaii, will depart the peninsula.  Read more here

Pearl Harbor Shipyard Is Navy's Most Backlogged (or PSNS is the Best/ed)

William Cole, Honolulu Advertiser, October 9

The Navy's four public shipyards, including Pearl Harbor, whose oldest dry dock was built in 1919, are in poor condition, contributing to inefficiency that is robbing the Navy of ship and submarine time at sea, according to a government report.

"Navy data show that the cost of backlogged restoration and maintenance projects at the shipyards has grown by 41 percent over five years, to a Navy-estimated $4.86 billion, and it will take at least 19 years through fiscal year 2036 to clear," the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in the recent report.

The report also shows that of the four yards, which include Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Virginia, Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Maine and Puget Sound Naval Shipyard and Intermediate Maintenance Facility in Washington state, Pearl Harbor had the lowest maintenance work timeliness.


Pearl Harbor submarine availability projects fiscal year (FY) 2012-16:


USS Olympia FY16 273 days 116 days late

USS Greeneville FY15 181 days 15 days late

USS Tucson FY15 181 days 51 days late

USS Cheyenne FY14 240 days 144 days late

USS Buffalo FY14 326 days 160 days late

USS Texas FY14 619 days 172 days late

USS Columbia FY13 162 days 69 days late

USS Louisville FY13 182 days 135 days late

USS Santa Fe FY12 180 days On time

USS Charlotte FY12 175 days 16 days late

USS Key West FY12 731 days 16 days late

USS Houston FY12 174 days 24 days late

USS Jacksonville FY12 177 days 107 days late

USS City of Corpus Christi FY12 334 days 108 days late

USS Chicago FY12 652 days 118 days late

Source: Pearl Harbor shipyard

Between 2000 and 2016, 14 percent of that work came out on time. Put another way, 49 of 57 maintenance jobs were delayed, according to GAO, resulting in 4,128 lost operational days for nuclear-powered submarines. Submarine maintenance comprises over 90 percent of Pearl Harbor's work.

By comparison, Puget Sound had a 29 percent on-time rating, Portsmouth 34 percent and Norfolk 45 percent.

U.S. commanders, meanwhile, are clamoring for submarine time. Adm. Harry Harris, commander of U.S. Pacific Command on Oahu, in April bemoaned that the Navy is reducing its attack submarine force to 42 from 52 in the coming years.

"From a joint commander perspective, I need more submarines," Harris told the House Armed Services Committee.

To be sure, Pearl Harbor shipyard, which also is an intermediate maintenance facility, is in a unique situation far out in the Pacific, where it is a strategic magnet for unscheduled ship and submarine repairs that throw a monkey wrench into timelines on larger depot- level submarine work. The data provided to GAO reflect the depot work.

Portsmouth, Pearl Harbor's closest competitor, is not in a fleet concentration area and sees less emergency work.

The shipyard is Hawaii's largest industrial employer, with a civilian workforce of nearly 5,200 and 543 Navy personnel.

"This GAO report sheds light on the challenges that have faced Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard for quite some time," U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, a Democrat from Hawaii who is on the House Armed Services Committee, said in an email. "While all of the Navy's shipyards require serious improvements, the challenges facing Pearl Harbor Shipyard are unique.

"Pearl Harbor's civilian workforce is highly skilled and specialized to meet the demands of maintaining the most advanced Navy in the world," Gabbard said. "They have completed repair and maintenance projects under challenging and unique circumstances, such as sequestration, post-9/11 operational demands, the introduction of new Virginia-class submarines, budget uncertainties, and aging infrastructure."

She added that the Pearl Harbor workforce "will continue to overcome the challenges before them, but must have the tools and personnel necessary to do so."

Of the 49 maintenance jobs from 2000 to 2016 that were late, 22, or about 44 percent, were fewer than 16 days late, shipyard officials said. They said contributors to the delays included:

> High submarine usage post-9/11 resulting in increased intermediate-level work that requires greater management attention. The work on deployed or deployable submarines "is the highest priority fleet work," the shipyard said.

> Introduction of the Virginia-class submarine while maintaining older Los Angeles-class subs. Four Virginia-class and about 16 Los Angeles subs are based at Pearl Harbor.

> A changing workforce with significant hiring coupled with an increased attrition rate has reduced worker experience.

> Antiquated and aging infrastructure, increased workload complexity and budget uncertainties.

Shipyard officials also acknowledged it needs to continue to work on its own performance. One problem for a past commander was the annual holiday week shipyard closure, which saw work slack off the week before and continue at a slow pace for a couple of weeks after.

"The Navy continuously works to improve shipyard efficiency," officials from the Pearl Harbor facility said in an email. That includes the use of "learning centers" that provide mentoring and coaching relationships which "cultivate and preserve knowledge, foster a safe-to-learn environment, remove barriers and demonstrate the value of the contributions of all employees," according to the shipyard.

The GAO report, "Naval shipyards: Actions needed to improve poor conditions that affect operations," said that Pearl Harbor shipyard, with $838 million in funding for fiscal 2016, had $1.31 billion in facilities restoration and modernization backlogs. Its four dry docks were built in 1919, 1941, 1942 and 1943.

"Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard faces historic preservation challenges that have complicated its infrastructure planning and capital investment," the GAO said. Eighty percent of its nearly 4 million square feet of facilities is designated as historic. Many facilities are outdated for modern needs.

Since 2008 the Navy has invested more than $500 million at the shipyard for improvements including the 2012 construction of Building 1916, which replaced shipping containers supporting shops around Dry Dock 1, officials said. A new submarine production and training facility was recently completed, and construction is about to begin on a project to relocate the shipyard's welding school with welders and shipfitters.

Naval Sea Systems Command, to which the shipyard reports, initiated in fiscal 2017 a long-range shipyard infrastructure optimization plan for each yard, officials said.

"This plan will identify and define a vision to recapitalize and optimally configure shipyard infrastructure to improve productivity and effectiveness," Pearl Harbor shipyard said.^


‘I now hate my ship’: Surveys reveal disastrous morale on cruiser Shiloh
By: Geoff Ziezulewicz | Navy Times

It’s only a matter of time before something horrible happens,” one shipmate warned.

“Our sailors do not trust the CO,” another noted.

It’s a “floating prison,” one said

“I just pray we never have to shoot down a missile from North Korea,” a distraught sailor lamented, “because then our ineffectiveness will really show.”

These comments come from three command climate surveys taken on the cruiser Shiloh during Capt. Adam M. Aycock’s recently-completed 26-month command. The Japan-based ship is a vital cog in U.S. ballistic missile defense and the 7th Fleet’s West Pacific mission to deter North Korea and counter ascendant Chinese and Russian navies.

'USS Bread and Water': Old and rare punishment loomed over a demoralized crew Sailors aboard the cruiser Shiloh often worried about the commanding officer’s use of an antiquated punishment: Three days in the brig with nothing to eat but bread and water.

These comments are not unique. Each survey runs hundreds of pages, with crew members writing anonymously of dysfunction from the top, suicidal thoughts, exhaustion, despair and concern that the Shiloh was being pushed underway while vital repairs remained incomplete.

Frequently in focus is the commanding officer’s micromanagement and a neutered chiefs mess. Aycock was widely feared among sailors who said minor on-the-job mistakes often led to time in the brig, where they would be fed only bread and water.

The survey reports offer a window into life in the Navy’s 7th Fleet, a Pacific command where leadership has admitted sailors are overworked and often insufficiently trained due to relentless mission pace.

“It feels like a race to see which will break down first,” one sailor wrote, “the ship or it’s [sic] crew.”


While government watchdogs have warned of such issues for years, the Navy’s problems have come back in to the spotlight in the wake of this summer’s at-sea collisions involving the destroyers Fitzgerald and John S. McCain, disasters that killed 17 sailors. The Shiloh belongs to the same chain of command as those two ships, where several top admirals were recently fired.


Despite the Shiloh’s sailor comments suggesting a ship in crisis, and at a time when the Navy stresses CO accountability, Aycock was not fired.


Navy officials declined to discuss survey details, but acknowledged that Aycock’s superiors at Task Force 70 were aware of problems after the first negative survey taken two months into his command.


Aycock’s bosses were tracking the dysfunction and counseling the captain, officials said, yet Aycock remained on the job and rotated out in a standard change-of-command ceremony on Aug. 30. Read on! (and read on to back in 1972, 45 years ago, similar situation /ed) ^


Unraveling the Thresher's Story


In the early 1960s, the Cold War was in an active and dangerous stage. France and the Soviet Union were conducting atmospheric nuclear tests. The Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962) threatened most U.S. cities with Soviet missiles. As a result, construction of ballistic-missile submarines (SSBNs) became the Navy’s top priority, classified “Brickbat 01.” Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, was building SSBNs and SSNs (nuclear-powered attack submarines). The attack boats competed with the missile boats for the same manpower, materials, and resources, and the missile subs usually won. During the Thresher’s construction, the Abraham Lincoln (SSBN-602) was also being built, and during the Thresher’s PSA, the John Adams (SSBN-620) and the Nathaniel Greene (SSBN-636) were under construction. The Thresher, the newest, most advanced attack submarine in the Navy, was commissioned on 3 August 1961, in spite of all the frustrations associated with being a lower priority.


Following delivery, the Thresher exceeded all expectations. During her shakedown, she made it to test depth—the deepest for any sub in the world—more than 40 times. As the first submarine of her class, she was subjected to severe shock tests before returning to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard. The Thresher performed magnificently during these shock trials but was subject to depth restrictions afterward, because the Bureau of Ships advised the shipyard to conduct inspections for any evidence of shock damage. In addition to some alterations, the guidance included inspecting any accessible silver-brazed piping joints.


During the Thresher’s construction, silver-brazed pipe joints were inspected visually and subjected to pressure testing, but no non-destructive test was performed, as ultrasonic testing was in its infancy and not yet in widespread use. Following the shock testing, the Thresher returned to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for a PSA on 11 July 1962. This availability was scheduled to last six months and consume 35,000 man-days. As workers discovered shock damage and other problems, the PSA was extended to nine months and more than 100,000 man-days.


The Thresher was once again competing with other construction for manpower, talent, and attention during the PSA. Even though the Thresher did not enjoy high priority, commanders were anxious to have her join the fleet. They were ecstatic about the potential this submarine demonstrated during her shakedown period.

As the time approached for the Thresher to go to sea, all the normal frustrations associated with completing a complicated ship were in play. The so-called fast cruise, which permits a submarine to exercise and prove readiness independent of the shipyard, was terminated because of problems with both shipyard and crew. A second fast cruise was successful and the submarine was declared ready for sea.


Senior ships superintendent of the Thresher’s PSA, Lieutenant Bob Biederman, was an experienced submarine officer. He shared with me several times his frustration working this submarine availability. He was concerned that in his opinion the crew needed more time for training—an opinion shared by the Thresher’s court of inquiry.


The Thresher got under way on 9 April 1963. Many people wanted to ride the advanced submarine, creating an overcrowding problem. As a result, some people were told no. One naval officer with a bag packed with personal items was turned away as he approached the brow to board the submarine. Franklin James Palmer, an experienced hydraulic expert, had a bad cold and was instructed to stay ashore. At the very last minute, the doctors approved him to make the trial because of his special expertise.


The plan for this sea trial was to check out the submarine and the crew on day one, then rendezvous with the submarine-rescue ship USS Skylark (ASR-20) on day two to monitor the location while the Thresher conducted a deep dive to test depth. This would be the first time since the shock trials that Thresher dove to test depth.


At approximately 0900 on 10 April 1963, the Thresher advised the Skylark, “Experiencing minor difficulties.” Then at 0918, all communications were lost. Some of the Skylark’s crew reported they heard sounds as if a ship were breaking up. The Thresher, the most advanced submarine of the time and the lead ship of the new class of submarines was lost. The entire handpicked crew and all the guests and talented advisers were gone. The worst possible peacetime Navy disaster had occurred.


The Navy convened a court of inquiry with some of the most experienced naval officers of the time. Their report is comprehensive and after many years has been declassified. One of the key findings was that a silver-brazed piping joint in a seawater system exposed to sea pressure most probably had failed in the engine room. The leak would have damaged an electrical panel, resulting in a reactor “scram”—the reactor shutting down automatically. This action meant the submarine was suddenly left without propulsion or electrical power and was operating on batteries alone.


One of the last communications from the Thresher to the Skylark was “attempting to blow”—that is, to expel seawater from her ballast tanks to ascend—but she experienced difficulty. The court conducted some tests on the Tinosa (SSN-606), a sister submarine under construction at Portsmouth. The Thresher had strainers installed in her blow system to protect delicate valves from debris and dirt. The court theorized that the submarine initiated a blow, which the crew must have stopped as they began to ascend. But when the submarine had to reinstate the blow, the strainers collapsed because of moisture in the blow piping, resulting in no or limited airflow. With no propulsion, and unable to expel water from the ballast tanks, the submarine sank to collapse depth.


When the first messages from the Skylark arrived at Portsmouth, I realized how serious the situation was. Once the Navy recognized the submarine was lost with all hands, the situation became chaotic. None of us was prepared for this. Even now, more than 50 years later, rarely a day passes when I do not think of the tragedy.


I have tried over the years to understand the whys and wherefores of this terrible loss. First, the attack submarine Thresher was built at a time when missile submarines were the top priority. As a result, the Thresher did not always get the best shipwrights or the proper attention from the shipyard. For example, the Bureau of Ships advised the yard to inspect all accessible silver-brazed piping joints in systems exposed to seawater pressure and to remove the strainers in the blow system prior to sea trials. (Silver-brazed joints had a history of problems in earlier submarines that were designed to operate at much shallower depths than the Thresher.) The shipyard discontinued inspecting for shock damage and postponed removing the strainers until after the sea trials.


Another contributing cause may have been the absence of the submarine’s most experienced reactor officer, Lieutenant Raymond McCoole. McCoole’s wife experienced a medical problem and the submarine’s commander told McCoole to stay home and take care of her. His assistant had just completed retraining in reactor operation, where the operating rules to safeguard the reactor are emphasized.


The Thresher had an unusual reactor plant configuration in that the main steam stop-valves were designed to close automatically in the event of a reactor scram. We know for certain the reactor did scram as the submarine was approaching test depth because of sounds recorded by the national sound surveillance system (SOSUS). The loss of reactor function and the closing of steam valves deprived the Thresher of normal electric and propulsion power. As a result, air banks two, three, and four automatically closed, and one bled slowly.


A by-the-book reactor restart could take between seven and ten minutes. Overriding the rules and attempting to open the main steam valves manually also would take time because of their location. It took a special decision to ignore the reactor safety operating rules and open these valves.


When the PSA had grown to more than 100,000 man-days and nine months, the shipyard began to make decisions to get the Thresher finished. The shipyard stopped conducting inspections for shock damage, stopped inspecting silver-brazed piping joints, and postponed other items, such as removal of the strainers in the blow system. Although the Thresher was not the highest priority for the shipyard or even perhaps the Navy, the operating forces really wanted this submarine. As a result, Portsmouth Navy Shipyard wanted to finish the Thresher and get on with the other submarines under construction. No one appears to have considered that sending a submarine to sea trials and test depth for the first time following shock trials might put her survival in jeopardy.


Looking back at this truly sad state of affairs, it is clear the Thresher’s crew needed more time to train, and the shipyard should not have stopped inspecting. The technology to inspect silver-brazed joints using ultrasonic testing was available, albeit it its infancy. Such testing might have revealed some of the critical joints that were not safe. Configuring the main steam stop-valves to fail closed during a reactor scram was later proven by actual tests to be unnecessary. In fact, the Thresher’s reactor plant could have sustained dragging steam from a scrammed reactor for more than 20 minutes without any damage to the plant. In retrospect, we—those in charge at the time—sent this submarine to sea too soon. More time may have better prepared her.


What if the Thresher had survived the casualties and returned to the shipyard? All or at least many of the deficiencies might not have been corrected. We probably would have continued building submarines with silver-brazed joints and the reactor plant configuration would not have been changed. The SubSafe program would not have been established, and the Submarine Safety Center might never have been created. The complete review of submarine design would have waited for a future tragedy.


As a result of this loss, submarines today are much improved and safer. The 129 men on the Thresher did not die in vain. We must keep this story and history alive.


Captain Yurso , PE, is Director of Technical Development at QED Systems Inc. Read comments here  ^


Gen. Keane discusses US counterterrorism efforts in Africa
Retired general provides insight after Green Berets are killed in Niger.



USS Washington joins the submarine fleet

By Hugh Lessig•Contact Reporter |


The USS Washington joined the Navy’s submarine force Saturday in a commissioning ceremony punctuated by the ship’s rallying cry, “Fear the Blackfish.”

Under sunny skies at Naval Station Norfolk, the crew heeded ship’s sponsor Elisabeth Mabus, who uttered the time-honored phrase: “Man the ship and bring her life.” The sailors clad in crisp white uniforms ran onto the ship, which was pier side.

Blackfish was the name given to orca, or killer whales, by Native American fisherman. The Washington’s crest features a submarine emblazoned with a stylized Native American paint scheme that depicts the orca — black “fish” being a misnomer; the orca is Washington’s official marine mammal.

Cmdr. Gabriel Cavazos, the ship’s commanding officer, coined the phrase “fear the blackfish” when he took over earlier this year. Addressing the crew Saturday, he belted it out from the podium, and the crew shouted back its response.

Fear the blackfish. Prepared for war.

The ceremony featured speeches by Gov. Terry McAuliffe and lawmakers from Virginia and Washington state. Among those making the cross-country trip was Washington’s Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib, who paid tribute to what is often called the silent service.

“You may be unheard, but that does not mean you are silent to us,” Habib said.  Read All with Video  

"Fear the Blackfish." USS Washington Creates New Traditions As It Joins Submarine Fleet
Brock Vergakis, The Virginia-Pilot, October 6

When Cmdr. Gabriel Cavazos took command of the new Navy submarine Washington during a ceremony in April, he improvised the conclusion of his remarks with a message for U.S. adversaries: "Fear the Blackfish."

"Blackfish" is what Native Americans in the Pacific Northwest call orca whales, commonly known as killer whales. "Blackfish" also is the crew's unofficial nickname for the Washington, which will formally join the fleet and add USS to its name during a commissioning ceremony Saturday at Naval Station Norfolk.

The Navy is a service steeped in tradition, but the crew of each new vessel has the rare opportunity to forge its own. Many of the Washington's still-forming traditions revolve around the use of the term and visual representation of "Blackfish."

When the Washington is underway, sailors who have earned their submarine warfare pins known as "dolphins" wear a version that is all black instead of the typical gold or silver.

"It's a point of pride amongst the crew," Cavazos said.

The phrase "Fear the Blackfish" quickly embraced by the Washington's crew is now a rallying cry aboard the Navy's newest nuclear-powered attack submarine.

Whenever a member of the Washington's leadership triad addresses the crew over a public address system, they end the message with "Fear the Blackfish." The crew responds in unison: "Prepared for war."

The phrase "prepared for war" comes from the Washington's motto, "Preserving Peace, Prepared for War." That motto was derived from a quote by Washington state's namesake, President George Washington, who said, "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace."

"Just knowing that we’re all working together and we all hear what’s going on at the same time, and we all say it at the same time together, gives you that little weird feeling on the back of your neck that we’re growing as a family," said Petty Officer 2nd Class Giovanni Garcia, a Washington torpedoman serving aboard his first submarine.

"It’s a neat experience. You know that you’re building tradition and new things that are going to go on through decades."

The motto appears on the Virginia-class submarine's crest, which prominently displays a submarine surging from the waters of the Puget Sound with a paint scheme that resembles Native American art depictions of an orca.

In the officers' wardroom, where meals are served and meetings held, a Native American depiction of an orca carved on a wooden plaque hangs from a wall. There are other nods to Washington state in the wardroom, including a picture of the Seattle skyline. But whenever Cavazos enters he said he focuses on that wooden plaque and a corkboard near it that holds the "Blackfish" version of the submarine warfare pins for officers who have not yet earned them.

There's no better representation of his crew's philosophy for Cavazos than the Blackfish.

"They’re very fierce predators, and they also look out for one another," he said. "They travel in pods and they certainly maintain the family cohesion, and so that’s one of the things that’s big on board.

"Everyone on this boat is family. Everything just seemed to fit." 

Send the Ponce!

Sitting in the harbor of San Juan, Puerto Rico right now is the USCGC James
(WMSL 754), one of the U.S. Coast Guard’s newest, largest, and most capable cutters. The ship is at anchor, operating as a command and control center for federal response teams dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Maria, which devastated the island on 20 September.

There is no doubt the James is a very useful asset in the region, where communications have been heavily damaged and are only slowly being restored. The systems on the cutter help coordinate government activities on the island and help keep the Federal Emergency Management Agency and officials in Washington apprised of what’s going on.

While the mission is vital, keeping the James at anchor for any extended period is a real waste—the multimission ship is capable of doing so much more. But the need for a floating command center might continue for quite a while.

An alternative is available—another ship already outfitted as a floating command base, able to give multiple agencies and officials the kind of situational awareness and communications facilities they need. The ship can refuel helicopters, support small craft, and provide berthing and feeding facilities for hundreds of passengers. Even better, the ship has nothing else to do—meaning it can stay as long as necessary—and she’s only three steaming days away.

The USS Ponce (AFSB-1)—named for the Puerto Rican city—is an afloat forward staging base, a recently-developed kind of ship intended to support small craft, helicopters, combat teams. and commanders in a forward operating area. She is at Norfolk, Virginia, having just returned on 27 September from a successful five-year mission in the Persian Gulf. The Ponce was converted to a staging base in 2012 from an amphibious landing ship, and has been replaced by a larger, built-for-the-purpose ship. The Proud Lion—the ship’s nickname—now has nothing to do except be decommissioned and scrapped.

But the Ponce could be rapidly refurbished and sent to the Caribbean, where its facilities would be highly useful for weeks and months to come as work continues to help, clean up, and restore Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The Ponce is far more capable in the role than the James , which could be released to go back doing what it is designed to do. The Navy used civilian mariners to operate the Ponce in the Persian Gulf, meaning few military personnel will be needed in the relief role. The aged ship is not without problems—her propulsion machinery is nearly worn out—but that will not be very important if she does not need to travel much.

All the other Navy and Coast Guard ships now assigned to disaster relief have regular jobs to do—they are not available for lengthy commitments without negative impacts on other mission areas. The Ponce can go and stay as long as she’s needed.

The most important attribute for any emergency response is simply to be on the scene. The Navy and the federal government should move with all due speed to cancel the Ponce’s inactivation, restore its capabilities and send her as soon as possible to the Caribbean.

Mr. Cavas was the naval warfare correspondent for Defense News from 2004 to 2017 and is a former managing editor of Navy Times . He has reported on Navy issues across the globe, including aboard USS Ponce in the Fifth Fleet and aboard National Security Cutters. He can be reached at .  ^


U.S. Submarines Are Dying -- Will These 2 Companies Build Our New Nuclear Attack Subs?
Will the United States government heed the Navy’s warning and increase procurement of Virginia-class submarines?
Katie Spence (TMFKSpence) | Aug 16, 2014 at 9:46AM

The U.S. fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines is dying. The good news is the U.S. Navy has a plan to address this problem, and it would directly benefit sub makers General Dynamics (NYSE:GD) and Huntington Ingalls Industries (NYSE:HII). Here's what you need to know.

There are three types of Navy subs: nuclear-powered cruise missile and special operations forces subs (SSGNs), nuclear-powered ballistic missile subs (SSBNs), and nuclear-powered attack subs (SSNs). Of these three types of vessels, it's the SSNs that make up the backbone of the Navy's submarine force, conducting a range of missions, including reconnaissance, surveillance, covert insertion, and covert strikes.

More importantly, at the end of fiscal 2013, there were 54 SSNs in service: 10 Virginia-class subs, three Seawolf-class subs, and 41 Los Angeles-class subs. The problem is the Los Angeles-class subs entered service between 1976 and 1996, which means they are getting old. In fact, the Navy originally had 62 Los Angeles-class subs, but 22 have been retired, the latest being the USS Miami (SSN 755), which was retired earlier this year due to extensive damage caused by a shipyard fire. Moreover, this retirement brings the total of Los Angles-class subs down to 40.

Because it has to phase out the Los Angeles due to age, the Navy has been acquiring between one and two new and improved Virginia-class attack subs each year, with the total planned procurement being 30 Virginia-class subs by fiscal 2019. The reason? In order to meet its mission goals, the Navy says it needs a force of 48 SSNs.

The problem

Unfortunately for the Navy, a Congressional Research Service, or CRS, report issued in June points out one big problem with the above plan. While the existing Virginia-class submarine procurement plan allows the Navy to maintain its goal of 48 SSNs through fiscal 2024, starting in fiscal 2025 the service would see its force fall below 48 SSNs due to older subs being taken out of commission. In fact, by fiscal 2030 the Navy would only have 41 SSNs, and it wouldn't return to its stated goal of 48 vessels until fiscal 2035. Furthermore, the CRS report doesn't take into account the retirement of the USS Miami.

The above is an issue because the Navy states that, on average, day-to-day operations require the deployment of 10 SSNs, and during a peak time of war, an estimated 35 SSNs could be required for deployment within a certain amount of time. While that requirement might appear to be below the anticipated available SSNs in fiscal 2030, each sub can only be deployed for a certain period of time before it must be relieved. That necessitates having a larger force of available submarines.

The Navy weights its options   Read More


Sink the Great Green Fleet


The drive for sustainable energy has spawned a wide variety of wind and solar projects on naval facilities. Without question, these efforts produce energy so bases no longer need to buy from the civilian grid. Whether the savings justify the large upfront investment costs is unclear. (One Norfolk project had a payback period of 448 years, according to a Department of Defense Inspector General audit in 2011.)

“Net zero” bases (energy, water, and waste independence from the civilian infrastructure) is one of those trendy ideas that makes little sense in the real world. Military bases do need the ability to operate services, particularly those supporting vital warfighting functions, for short periods of time if something happens to civilian infrastructure. But making entire bases independent of the broader economy is expensive and unnecessary.

Creating new fuel sources was never necessary, but it is ludicrous now. Fracking and other technologies have skyrocketed U.S. production of oil and natural gas. The U.S. Energy Information Agency expects the United States to produce more crude oil in 2018 (9.9 million barrels per day) than it ever has in its history. The United States is now the largest hydrocarbon producer in the world, surpassing Russia and Saudi Arabia, having increased its production by 50 percent in the last decade. Global oil prices have plummeted, from $140 per barrel to about $50 per barrel.

The Navy and Marine Corps are facing severe budget trade-offs and cannot afford to divert funds to national energy projects. The Navy is trying to build to 355 ships, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost an extra $5 billion per year for construction costs alone. Readiness is unacceptably low and needs a major funding boost.

So, what to do? 

  • Terminate the biofuel initiative. Let the energy market decide whether biofuels are a viable source of future energy.
  • Review all Navy energy production projects, both past and proposed, to determine whether the investment justifies the savings. The cost of photovoltaic cells has been dropping and wind energy has been gaining in the energy market even without subsidies.
  • Continue efforts in operational energy. This is about getting energy to the right place on the battlefield with minimum warfighting risk, not about peacetime cost-effectiveness. An August Proceedings article attempts to defend the Great Green Fleet but mostly focuses on sensible energy efficiencies. (see Commander Daniel Orchard-Hayes’ and Lieutenant Colonel Laura King’s “ Realize the Great Green Fleet ,” August 2017, Proceedings .)
  • Examine the areas where energy efficiency might have real economic benefits. The Navy has research-and-development projects in this area, such as jet engine efficiency. The classic investment, however, is heating and air conditioning systems. Upgrading these systems is not as exciting as building solar farms, but it often has big payoffs because the systems are used heavily but are often old and inefficient.
  • Drop the “Green Fleet” terminology. There’s too much baggage with this term. 

Colonel Cancian is the senior advisor to the International Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. ^


DEVRON 5 Welcomes New Commodore and Establishes New Squadron
MC1 Amanda Gray,

Capt. Robert Gaucher turns over command to Capt. Stephen Mack during a change of command ceremony for Submarine Development Squadron (DEVRON) 5. Photo: US Navy

Commander, Submarine Development Squadron 5 (DEVRON 5), held a combined change of command and squadron establishment ceremony at Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Sept. 26. Capt. Stephen Mack, from Silver Spring, Maryland, relieved Capt. Robert Gaucher, from Pittsfield, Massachusetts, as commodore during the ceremony held at Barb Hall.

In addition to welcoming a new commodore, the Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Squadron (UUVRON) 1 was established, with Cmdr. Scott Smith, from Hartford, South Dakota, becoming its new commanding officer.

It’s very important to note that today is not only a very important day for Capt. Steve Mack and me, but it is a historical day for the Navy, Submarine Force and DEVRON 5,” said Gaucher. “Today we are transitioning our UUV Detachment into the first UUV Squadron. Why is this historical? It’s because in standing up UUVRON 1, it shows our Navy’s commitment to the future of unmanned systems and undersea combat.”

Gaucher assumed command of DEVRON 5 March 23, 2016. During his leadership, Gaucher supported the development and launched the Navy's first Unmanned Undersea Vehicle squadron, oversaw the successful deployments of the Seawolf-class fast attack submarines USS Connecticut (SSN 22) and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), and provided Immediate Superior in Charge-level oversight of all three Seawolf-class submarines during major shipyard maintenance periods.

“I have truly enjoyed this tour and hate to turn over the reins, but if you read Steve Mack’s biography, you’ll see he has an exceptional resume and I know that he’ll do great as commodore,” said Gaucher. “To the team of DEVRON 5, it has been an honor to be your commodore.”

Gaucher’s next assignment will be in Norfolk, Virginia, where he will serve as the Chief of Staff for Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic.

“We have a strong group of devoted leaders in our commanding officers, officers-in-charge, and staff here on the DEVRON 5 team,” said Mack. “I am excited to be here serving with you and will endeavor to do my best every day to mentor, motivate, lead, drive, and work with you best to achieve your full personal and professional potential while we strive to reach our team goals in support of the submarine force and our great nation.”

Mack comes to DEVRON 5 from U.S. Pacific Command, where he served with the current operations division.

DEVRON 5 is charged with multiple submarine warfare mission areas to include submarine rescue operations and the activities of its three Seawolf-Class submarines. DEVRON 5 is responsible for developing and testing new submarine warfare capabilities, including the use of Unmanned Undersea Vehicles.

Mixed Reality for Submarine Applications

By James D. Miller The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab Submarine Warfare Program Area


Recent technology advances in high-resolution displays, motion sensing, and compact computing/micro-processing have changed the way people interact with computing. Immersive environments can now be delivered inexpensively to anyone who owns a smartphone. A small additional cost of a head-mounted display can take that immersive presentation to the next level. This immersive computing technology is referred to as Mixed Reality (MR).


Mixed Reality covers the spectrum of technologies that have been maturing rapidly over the last decade. The continuum of MR spans from the physical (real) world to the fully virtual and includes Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR). MR adds computer-generated objects/environment to varying degrees to enhance a user’s knowledge or understanding and enable interactive behaviors within the MR experience. DoD has long been investing in technologies that enable the range of MR experiences. Initial investment resulted in lab-based prototypes that supported expensive training and held the promise of future operational use. However, this R&D investment is on the verge of bearing real operational fruit with the commercialization of key components, significantly decreasing cost.

Virtual Reality (VR) is a fully immersive synthetic 3D environment where users can explore and interact with simulated entities within that environment. There are key advantages to using VR in military applications. VR experiences are impactful and memorable for the end users, making them excellent training and mission rehearsal/exercise opportunities. VR can take people to places that are difficult to access due to cost or physical travel limitations. Furthermore, VR affords fewer resource constraints than those that real-world exercises may incur. The synthetic worlds provide safety and an analytic environment for testing relationships or procedural interactions. VR has the advantage of providing very high fidelity worlds that are immersive, impactful, cost-effective, accessible, and safe to use.

Technology is continuously enhancing the state-of-the-art; however, there are limitations to reaching the point where VR is mainstream, even in applications for which it is well suited. Not all human senses are fully immersed; tactile feedback is not typically available and is challenging to integrate. For some applications, like damage control response, smell is also critical and not fully integrated into VR applications. Mobility is limited due to the need to be tethered to hardware that can support high-end graphics processing. It is also difficult to fully suspend belief as a user’s hands and body are not natively represented in the VR world. These last two key limiting technologies are currently being tackled and may soon be overcome with programs like Intel’s initiative, Project Alloy. While technology continues to advance, the understanding of its impact on people and effects of use for extended periods of time are not fully tested. One of the biggest challenges to getting the technology deployed is the burden of developing quality 3D content.  Read All

West Point grad condemned for pro-communist photos, messages

By Lukas Mikelionis, Fox News


A U.S. Military Academy graduate and Army infantry officer has been condemned after posing with a sign reading “Communism will win” and posting pro-Colin Kaepernick messages on social media.


The messages and images posted by Second Lt. Spenser Rapone have rocked the military community, prompting officers to open an investigation.


Alumni of West Point shared a photo on Twitter showing Rapone at a gathering wearing a Che Guevara shirt underneath his military uniform.


In another photo, he is seen making a fist with one hand as he holds a cap with a sign inside that reads “Communism will win.” Rapone tweeted the photo Sunday and captioned it with “#VeteransForKaepernick,” in a bid to show solidarity with the NFL’s national anthem protests.


Army officials condemned Rapone and said an investigation was opened Tuesday after his pro-Kaepernick and pro-communist photo drew social media attention, the New York Post reported.


“The U.S. Military Academy strives to develop leaders who internalize the academy’s motto of Duty, Honor, Country, and who live the Army values. Second Lieutenant Rapone’s actions in no way reflect the values of the U.S. Military Academy or the U.S. Army,” an Army statement reads.


Rapone apparently embraced the outrage, sharing the photo of himself wearing a Che Guevara shirt and writing, “In case there was any lingering doubt, hasta la victoria siempre.” The words, known as a Guevara slogan, translate to "Until victory, always!"


Ernesto "Che" Guevara, born in Argentina in 1928, became a key figure in Fidel Castro's Cuban Revolution in 1959. Guevara died in Bolivia in 1967 at age 39.

Rapone’s communist sympathies are no secret, the Post reported. He once posted photos of himself with Karl Marx's “Communist Manifesto” and a photo of One

World Trade Center with him holding a communist red star on the top. Read All ^


Beneath the Waves
Life on a Submarine
All Hands |18 September 2017 By Austin Rooney, Defense Media Activity

Electronics Technician 2nd Class (SS) Joshua Craig pauses for a moment to think about the question, the steady hum of machinery filling in the silence.

"Anything but normal," he says, chuckling.

The question he was answering was simple; what does a normal day onboard a U.S. Navy submarine look like?

The Navy's submarine force is unlike any other community in the military, a small, tight-knit group of approximately 20,000 active-duty and reserve Sailors who spend months at a time sailing deep below the waves. Between their secretive missions and their lack of contact with the outside world, the submarine community is often a mystery to those on the outside.

"Life on a submarine is unique," said Electronics Technician 1st Class (SS) Timothy Palowski, a submariner assigned to the ballistic missile submarine USS Wyoming (SSBN 742). "You live inside a biodome that's built for sinking."

Being hundreds of feet underwater and packed into a small vessel with approximately 150 other people at any given time, submariners say personal space is almost nonexistent. Small berthings are spread out throughout the submarine, with some staggered between missile and torpedo tubes. Some submariners are even forced to "hot-rack" due to lack of space - a practice where multiple Sailors must split time between the same bunk to get sleep.

Working hours onboard are also unique; there is no day or night, only a series of eight-hour rotations: eight hours of standing watch, followed by eight hours of working, maintenance, or studying, followed by eight hours of sleep.

"You have to get used to not seeing the sun; when you're in your rack, that's your night time," said Palowski.

Unfortunately for those underway on submarines, those eight hours for sleep are often hard to come by; submariners run constant drills for fire and flooding which every crewmember must participate in. Since submarines are unable to call in a fire department if one breaks out, every submariner must respond to an emergency and be proficient in that response. Read all and see video

Royal Navy Collision Offers Lessons for U.S. Navy

Just off the coast of Lebanon lies the wreck of the HMS Victoria , once the flagship of the Royal Navy Mediterranean Squadron. The Victoria is one of the only wrecks in the world resting straight up-and-down , bow buried in the mud bottom, twin screws pointing toward the surface 100 meters above, mute testimony to the speed and violence with which she died.

The Victoria was lost during a formation anchoring maneuver in calm seas and perfect weather. Obeying an ambiguous and poorly understood signal, the HMS Camperdown —fitted with a ram designed to inflict crippling damage below the waterline—struck the Victoria in the starboard bow. Despite the Victoria ’s setting what should have been effective flooding boundaries, the ship capsized and plunged in less than ten minutes. Three hundred and fifty eight sailors, including the Fleet Commander, Admiral Sir George Tryon, perished. The Victoria ’s loss—and its impact on the Royal Navy—hold lessons for the U.S. Navy today as it deals with the accidents on board USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) and USS John S. McCain (DDG-56).

When the Victoria tragedy struck in 1893, the Royal Navy was the envy of the world—a force that for decades had ensured freedom of navigation and the safety of British citizens in every time zone. Within its wardrooms, the Royal Navy was experiencing the natural tension found in a peacetime navy: finding the balance between the Nelsonian tradition of operational independence and the modern mechanisms of managing risk in peacetime. This debate expressed itself most dramatically in competing styles of command and control (C2). In an era when C2 at sea meant flag hoists, the Royal Navy had developed a signal book of monumental complexity. Mastering that signal book consumed much of the time available for fleet maneuvers. It also created a standard—excellence in the execution of maneuvers—that required exacting obedience to central control. Reformers believed the signal book was too complex to be executed with speed, especially during major fleet engagements. These reformers tried to push the Royal Navy to a looser, more adaptable style of maneuver that would allow commanders maximum flexibility with minimal signals.

Admiral Tryon was the most notorious champion of the reformers. A gruff and impatient man, he had instituted his own set of codes for the Mediterranean Squadron designed to allow greater independence and agility in maneuver. In the aftermath of the collision, it was natural that the court-martial considering the accident became a referendum on the wisdom of this approach. In the process of finding for the acquittal of the commanding officer of the Victoria , the court placed the burden of the collision on Admiral Tryon as the flag officer in command. The admiral had made the signal that confused his commanders, and the collision between the ships was, to the court, the unfortunate but logical outcome.

This verdict was convenient for the Royal Navy at that moment. The unwritten outcome, however, was to mark any deviation from the standard signal book as imprudent and potentially dangerous. The reformers retreated from the field, causing the Royal Navy to maintain its centralized and inflexible command style. Ironically, the Victoria was arguably a victim of the traditional school. Tryon’s signal was unclear, yet the Camperdown executed and maintained course, steadfastly holding to the signal to the point of collision.

Today, the U.S. Navy faces a similar challenge. Immediate accountability for its losses and addressing the root causes of training, maintenance, and readiness deficiencies demand a rigorous and penetrating look at both individual incidents and the Navy’s overall processes. Such accountability is not only part of our service’s heritage; it is a key element of mission command-style C2. As authority moves down the chain of command, so too does the need for accountability.

The incredibly difficult task for the U.S. Navy at the moment is to address failures in the fundamentals—the safe navigation of its ships—without reinforcing a deeply entrenched risk-adverse culture. The last 25 years of naval power projection from unchallenged sea bases against adversaries incapable of denying the Navy’s robust communication and surveillance architecture have left the fleet unfamiliar with the level of uncertainty it must accept to win conflict at sea. The culture changes essential to high-end combat against a peer navy just now are taking root in the fleet.

Proper acceptance of risk is deliberate and, as Admiral Chester Nimitz would say, “calculated.” It must be based in an accurate understanding of one’s own force—strength, condition, capabilities—and thoughtful acceptance of the risk that a thinking adversary and the fog of war invariably create. The natural instinct of any institution in this environment is to attempt to eliminate risk of all kinds. Navy leaders face the challenge of communicating acceptable and unacceptable risk, encouraging the former and driving out the latter. It is a nuanced dialogue that largely will be lost to those outside the lifelines, but is critical to those inside the lifelines.

Almost 125 years ago, the Royal Navy faced tragedy during routine operations. What it took from that loss was the need for control and obedience that would be woven into its operational culture. A quarter century later, at the battle of Jutland, its commanders would display that obedience in combat, waiting to be guided rather than taking initiative and continuing to execute signals that the speed of battle had clearly made irrelevant. The result was brutal losses among the ships engaged and the survival of the German fleet as a strategic menace to Britain for three more years of war.

The U.S. Navy has an opportunity to reset its fundamentals and emerge either more capable than before or ensure that its zero-defect instincts become the baseline for its operations. Learning the right lessons from our Navy’s Victoria moment will take a nuanced engagement across all levels of command. The alternative will leave us weaker than before.

Captain Rielage serves as Director for Intelligence and Information Operations for the U.S. Pacific Fleet. He has served as 3rd Fleet N2, 7th Fleet Deputy N2, Senior Intelligence Officer for China at the Office of Naval Intelligence, and Director of the Navy Asia Pacific Advisory Group.

For more great Proceedings Today content, click here

(Picture: Wreckage of the HMS Victoria .  Credit: Nurkowanie.) ^


Attorney General Jeff Sessions makes under-the-radar visit to Kitsap
Josh Farley, Published 5:28 p.m. PT Sept. 18, 2017 | Updated 5:28 p.m. PT Sept. 18, 2017

BREMERTON — When Jeff Haag, a longtime North Kitsap School District band teacher, spotted Attorney General Jeff Sessions among Secret Service agents and family at Keyport Fest on Saturday, he did the only thing he felt he could.

"I just went up and started talking to him," Haag said.

Haag and his wife, Kathleen, ended up taking a picture with the former Alabama senator, tapped by President Donald Trump to be the nation's 84th attorney general. Haag found Sessions to be "warm and friendly."

"We steered clear of politics," added Haag. "But we did say we appreciated the tough job he has to do."

Sessions visited Kitsap in part to see family. His son-in-law, Paul Reinhardt, commanded one of the two crews on the ballistic missile submarine USS Alabama since December 2014.

Reinhardt turned over command to his successor Monday morning and is next headed to a posting in Washington, D.C.

Sessions' official schedule was not made available by his office by press time, but he was spotted at several places around Kitsap. One was Bremerton's submarine bar, the Horse & Cow Pub & Grill, which Sessions visited with family Saturday afternoon.


Owners Mike Looby and Larry Timby even got Sessions to join them for a ceremonial shot of the bar's patented "Nuke Waste" drink, the ingredients of which are secret.


"He was a down-to-Earth guy," said Timby, who added the the attorney general and his son-in-law signed a USS Alabama banner in the bar. "It was really awesome he came to visit our little town."

Sessions is the second member of President Donald Trump's cabinet to visit Kitsap County in recent weeks. In early August, Secretary of Defense James Mattis stopped by Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor and visited with the crew of the USS Kentucky ballistic missile submarine based there.

Sessions has endured a rocky start to his tenure heading the Justice Department. In July, President Trump complained that he would not have appointed Sessions had he known the Alabama Republican would recuse himself from involvement in the investigation into possible Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election. Still, Sessions has pressed on with rolling out Trump's immigration enforcement agenda.

It was during Sessions' confirmation hearings that Bremerton City Councilwoman Leslie Daugs, who was visiting Washington D.C., uttered an expletive that led Daugs to be charged with disrupting congress. The charge was later dismissed.

Sessions' travel in the Pacific Northwest continues Tuesday. He's expected to discuss immigration enforcement and so-called sanctuary cities with federal officials in Portland, according to The Oregonian newspaper.

For some locals here in Kitsap County, getting to meet Sessions was an opportunity they won't soon forget.

"It was quite the chance encounter," Haag said. "It's not everyday that you meet the attorney general of the United States."


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