Monday, January 25, 2010

Uniform Disasters, the Sequel

(Original post)

It seems that Service Dress Khaki is going forward.

I would expect that Service Khaki, which is the office-puke analogue to the soon-to-be-abolished Working Khaki, is not long for this world.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Troll Under the Bridge

If you read my original post about screamer COs, it seems that things have changed:
The commanding officer of the Yokosuka, Japan-based cruiser Cowpens was relieved of duty Wednesday after being punished for “cruelty and maltreatment” during her time in charge, the Navy announced. In an unusual move, she is being permitted to continue on to an assignment in the Pentagon.

Capt. Holly Graf was brought before an admiral’s mast with Rear Adm. Kevin Donegan, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 5, after an inspector general’s investigation found problems with her “temperament and demeanor vis-a-vis her subordinates,” said Cmdr. Jeff Davis, a spokesman for 7th Fleet.
Back in the day, it would have taken something close to actions akin to a wartime atrocity for a CO to have been fired for making life difficult for his subordinates.

More to the point of the current issue, allowing a fired ship's captain to continue onto the next duty station is pretty frakking rare. I saw a few folk relieved for cause, from division officers to commanding officers, and all of them were stashed into no-load jobs while the Navy determined what to do with them. Captain Graf has to have one hell of a rabbi watching out over her, or she has some really special skill set that they need in Ft. Fumble. I'm not assuming that she is getting special treatment because of her gender, but if she is, that would really piss me off. I agree with the writers of the USNI blog, this needs to be explained and fast.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010


I've written before about the peculiar dry status of Navy ships. This post is about the use of alcohol away from the ships.

Decades ago, it was considered almost an indicator of how good a time a sailor or naval officer had ashore if he came back to the ship knee-knocking,puke-stained drunk.A certain amount of rowdiness was expected from drunken sailors (officers, even if drunk, were expected to maintain some decorum). "He got blasted like a real sailor" was one way to put it. I saw sailors come back so drunk that they were lashed, face-down, into Stokes litters, which were then secured into the overhead near the Quarterdeck, so that the Petty Officer and Messenger of the Watch could keep an eye on them.

The sailor who was the Duty Corpsman in a liberty port could pretty much expect to get no sleep. If the ship was anchored out (using boats to send liberty parties to and from the beach), it would not be unusual to have at least one clown break a limb during a port visit from falling down the accommodation ladder from the main deck to the boat.

Things started to change in the latter half of the 1970s. Drunken sailors ashore in foreign ports-of-call were creating incidents that the State Department was getting tired of having to smooth over. In some ports, the local cops took a very dim view of drunken shenanigans and some sailors would up being extended guests of the local criminal justice systems.

The word went out: Crack down. Ships who had reportable incidents would end up having liberty for sailors and shore leave for officers curtailed. No ship captain wanted to be told by the group commander or the fleet commander that the entire ship was on "cinderella liberty" (everyone had to be back aboard by midnight).

The next crackdown was on drunken driving. But first, a little bit of a discourse on procedure:

Whenever there was a serious accident or death, two parallel investigations were commenced. One was a safety investigation to find out what happened and what could be learned from it. The other was a "JAGMAN" investigation, usually conducted by a line officer and conducted in accordance with the Manual of the Judge Advocate General (hence the name). JAGMAN investigations were more concerned with fixing responsibility so that appropriate disciplinary action could be taken.[1]

The two investigators (or teams) did not talk to each other, though both often reported the results of their investigation to the same convening authority. Theoretically, not cooperating with the safety investigation was a chargeable offense, there was no right to remain silent. (One did have rights when interviewed for the JAGMAN investigation.) In the event of an accident, there were three findings that determined benefits: In the line of duty; not in the line of duty and not due to one's own misconduct; and not in the line of duty, due to one's own misconduct.

The fixes were these: First, it was decreed that any Commanding Officer, Executive Officer or Command Master Chief who was charged with DWI would be immediately relieved of their jobs. That effectively meant the end of one's career.

The second "fix" was if someone was injured or killed in a drunk driving accident because that person had been drinking, a finding of "not in the line of duty, due to one's own misconduct" was to be entered. The impact of that was that the Navy could go after the injured sailor to recover the costs of treating him. If the sailor was killed while driving drunk then the finding would mean no survivor's pension from the Navy.

There were also moves to de-emphasize the serving of liquor at Navy clubs, but I don't know how effective those were. Alcohol was a serious profit center for the clubs and no doubt the clubs fought back.

But regardless, the day of heavy intoxication being accepted was drawing to a close.

[1] The investigation of a death in which criminal charges would be brought was normally performed by local law enforcement or the Naval Investigative Service (when they could be freed up from their usual duties of investigating the break-ins of ship's stores or busting druggies and gays).

Water, Water, Everywhere
Nor Any Drop to Drink

(Followup to this post from November)

This is a diagram that I found on the Intertubes of a multi-stage distillation unit. The principle is the same for Navy ones.

Seawater comes in (though I don't recall chemicals being added). Note that the incoming seawater is fed through coils of piping inside each of the chambers. The water that had flashed to steam condenses on the outside of the coils and then drips into the collection pans. In so doing, the seawater coming into the distillation unit pick up a little bit of heat. Each successive stage of the unit is at a lower internal pressure, which means steam condenses at a lower temperature, which is also why the seawater/cooling water lines run opposite to the flow of the brine in the condenser.

After picking up some heat in the condensation coils, the seawater coming in is heated to near-boiling. The steam ejector, shown on the upper right corner, is used to draw a partial vacuum in each chamber. As I described in the earlier post, the hot seawater is pumped into the first stage, where some of it flashes to steam. The steam condenses, the condensate is collected, and the now-slightly-briny water goes to the second stage and the third stage. Each successive stage has more of a vacuum, the brine boils at lower and lower temperatures and more fresh water is made.

The output of the ejector is contaminated somewhat with salt, so the steam waste is not recovered. The brine exiting the distillation unit is pumped overboard.