Monday, December 5, 2016

Pollution, Pollution

First, read this.

The Navy was quite serious about all that: If a ship pumped oil into the inland waters of the U.S., the chief engineer could expect to pay a honking steep fine. They also were sensitive about doing it near other countries.

So anyway, there was a DDG in port in Miami or Port Everglades. There was water in the bilges that had an oily sheen on the water. The ship arranged for a tanker truck and began to pump out the bilges. It was a slow process.

One of the boiler chief petty officers got impatient. So around 0300 or so, he lit off the bilge eductor pump and pumped the bilges over the side. Then he had the other pump secured and the hoses stowed.

The Chief Engineer came down into the spaces just after Quarters. He saw that the bilges were dry. Now, this particular CHENG wasn't a dummy. He knew about what the level of the bilges was and how fast the pump to the truck was working. He knew that there was no way in hell that the bilges should be dry, for the pump had quite a bit of head and it wasn't at all efficient.

So he went looking for answers. He got them. He next went looking for the chief with blood in his eye. He pulled the chief into the Oil Lab, ordered everyone else to leave the space, shut the door and asked the "what the fuck" question. The chief shrugged it off and pointed out that the bilges had to be pumped before lighting fires and that the pump to the truck wasn't going to get it done. The Engineer asked if the chief had noticed that there was a motherfucking Coast Guard station on the other side of the harbor, if the chief was aware that the fines for intentionally discharging oily waste into an inland waterway were between $25,000 and $50,000 and that as the ship's engineer, that the Engineer would be dinged for that whether or not he had given orders for it or even had known about it. (Supposedly nearly every third word was either "fuck" or a variant thereof, so the question took a little longer to ask.)

The boiler technician chief said that he hadn't thought about that.

The Engineer then looked straight at him and said something along the lines of that he (Engineer) wouldn't have to pay it, because if it came to that, he was going to shoot the chief and "they can't make you pay no fines while you're in prison."

The destroyer left port the next morning. The Coast Guard never found out. And the boiler chief petty officer was real careful not to piss off the Engineer.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Cloud-Based 1052

It does sort of resemble a Knox-class frigate:

Friday, October 21, 2016

The Russian Navy Needs to Have a Propulsion Examining Board

As an old steam engineer, let me say this: There is no excuse for an oil-fired warship in good condition to send up black smoke, especially in this quantity.


Shit, coal-fired ships often didn't smoke that badly.

The smoke suggests to me that either the plant design or the snipes of the Admiral Kuznetsov suck. Proper naval boilers have economizers; the hot flue gasses from the boiler fires pass over the economizer tubes to pre-heat the feedwater prior to it being fed into the boiler. The fuel savings of economizers are significant, something like 10%, but that level of efficiency can't be achieved if the economizer tubes and their vanes are covered with soot.

Even if the ship was "blowing tubes" (using steam to blow the soot from boiler tubes), for that much soot to be blown off indicates that the plant is running too rich a mixture. There should be no smoke visible from a properly-fired naval boiler.

This article may overstate things, but I am prepared to believe that the Kuznetsov is a piece of shit.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Morning Watch at OCS

This is from something I've been noodling at:

Officer Candidate School maintained a quarterdeck watch at King Hall, its barracks building. There was a Officer of the Day, who was usually one of the company officers.[1] The OOD had a little bedroom just off the quarterdeck. It was the job of the Messenger of the Watch on the forenoon watch to find the OOD around 1115 or so, salute, hold the salute, hand the OOD the muster and sick reports and say: “Good morning, Sir. The Officer of the Deck sends his respects and reports the approach of the hour of twelve. All personnel are present or accounted for. Request permission to strike eight bells on time, Sir.” Then one dropped the salute.

When it was my turn, I was deathly afraid of screwing up my lines, so I rehearsed them, a lot. My turn was on a Saturday morning. The OOD, as it turned out, was badly hung-over. I barely said “Good morning”, when he moaned and said “permission granted.” I was having none of that, for I had worked hard to get the lines down and I was determined to say them.

I did. The OOD sat on the edge of the bed, with his head in his hands. When I finished, he moaned again and said something that sounded like “strike the fucking bells, damn you.”
___________________________________________
[1] Each company had a post-sea tour lieutenant as its company officer.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Shlepping the Marines Ashore

In the late 1960s, the Navy and the Marine Corps were facing up to the reality that the techniques for moving troops and heavy cargo ashore for amphibious assaults had not radically changed since World War II. The LCM-8s, designed during the Vietnam War, were faster and heavier than the Higgins Boats, but in concept, they were the same as the WW2 LCMs and LCUs.

The Naval Sea Systems Command began three design projects. The NAVSEA project manager was Jim Schuler. The designs were named after his sons, Jim, Joe and Jeff. The Joe boat would carry about 120 tons of cargo ashore, the Jeff boat would carry sixty tons and the Jim boat would carry thirty tons. The numbers for the two larger boats were derived from the weight of a M-60 tank-- the Joe boat could ferry two ashore, the Jeff boat, one. Only the Jeff boat got to the part of cutting metal. Two prototypes were ordered and tested, the Jeff-A was built by Aerojet General and the Jeff-B, built by Bell Aerospace. Soon into the project, the names were written in all-caps, possibly so everyone would forget that the boats were named after children. The JEFF-A had four steerable jet nozzles. The JEFF-B had two steerable nozzles forward and two ducted fans with rudders (sort of like an airboat on steroids) aft. This is a crappy photo of the two flying in formation. I didn't want to chance taking it out of its frame:

To say that both contractors had problems with their boats would be an understatement. But for the most part, it was understood at the time that the JEFF boats were a significant step and, by the late `70s, they were both running. A hangar and a beaching ramp were built at the Panama City, FL naval station. The JEFF boats were based there and did extensive testing.

The project engineers largely thought that the JEFF-A was the better of the two boats. The Navy disagreed. The JEFF-B's progeny were designated the LCAC (Landing Craft Air Cushion). The award was given to Textron (corporate parent of Bell) in 1984. Over 90 LCACs were built.

I don't know what happened to the JEFF-A. Supposedly, it went to Alaska for tests in Prudhoe Bay after the Navy chose the winning boat. But after that, I heard nothing about it.

The LCAC is beginning to reach the end of its service life. Last I heard, the Navy will just buy more of them.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Bye-Bye to Aquaflage!

It is now officially going away.

It was a stupid uniform when it was proposed and remains so.

The Navy calls aquaflage "NWU Type I", a failed uniform that only served to enrich the companies that made it. Aquaflage was a uniform that should have only been worn by mall cops.

The CONUS shore pukes will wear "NWU Type III", a camouflage uniform for people who don't need it. The Navy, it seems, has some form of uniform envy.


NWU Type II is a desert tan-ish camo, for those who are where they need to wear it.


The Navy's Uniform Board seems to be in a quandry as to what should replace aquaflage for those aboard ships. Might I humbly suggest this concept: Wash khakis for chiefs and officers, dungaree trousers and blue chambray shirts for E-1-E-6. To make them different from the old ones, the dungarees should have regular front pockets.

There is no earthly reason for camo uniforms in the naval service at CONUS bases and on ships. Ships are industrial environments. Maybe there's a desire among some of the drain-bramaged denizens of Fort Fumble that "our sailors should dress like warriors". My suggestion would be to wear the same sort of uniforms that naval warriors wore the last time that we, well, actually fought a war at sea:


Or quietly fought a cold struggle for control of the seas:



The Navy should reclaim its heritage as a fucking sea service (like it did when it went back to crackerjacks), ditch their fetish with looking like soldiers and leave that sort of emotional immaturity to the Air Force.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Lube Oil

Most of the rotating equipment in engineering, from the reduction gears to small pumps, was lubricated with a light oil known as 2190TEP. It was a fairly light-looking oil.

Oil samples were supposed to be taken daily. Sample jars were kept in three-tiered racks that sort of looked like this two-tiered one:


If my memory serves me, the top rack was for a sample of the oil that was put into the machinery on the last oil change. The next bottle down was the oil sample for that day, which was marked with a china marker (date, time and initials of the sample-puller). The third bottle was for the previous day's sample. The rack was kept in public view within the machinery space, where everyone could see it. One could then see that the samples were being pulled properly and whether or not there was any contamination of the samples.

Keeping the sample racks current was a sign of how squared-away the engineers were. It was amazing how many ships weren't. I know of one case where the engineer of a really new Spruance sent his senior engineers for tours of an Adams-class DDG in order to see how to do things properly.

If you were one of the squadron's lackeys, noticing that the sampling wasn't being done properly was an indicator that maybe the engineering department deserved closer scrutiny. Which was a version of the "500 yard rule" (if the ship didn't look good from 500 yards away, there were problems).

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"There Seems to Be Something Wrong With Our Bloody Ships Today"

That quote comes from VADM David Beatty, the Commander of the First Battlecruiser Squadron, at the Battle of Jutland, fought 100 years ago today.

There were 250 ships in both fleets, making the battle probably the largest surface gunfight up to that time.

The Germans wanted to trap the Royal Navy between a picket line of submarines and the German guns, as well as break out of their base at Wilhelmshaven. The British wanted to engage in a decisive battle, a la Trafalgar.

Neither side got what they wanted. There's been much discussion, since then, about the crappiness of British communications (an insistence on using flags with the smoke from the ships and the guns) and the crappiness of British gun shells and powder, compared to that of the Germans. Armor plating was more aimed at stopping flat-shooting projectiles, not the plunging fire of longer ranges (one reason why two of Beatty's battlecruisers blew up).

The British had a German code book and were able to get their ships in place before the Germans established a submarine picket. Despite greater losses, the Royal Navy turned back the Kriegsmarine. The Germans realized that in any subsequent fight, it was likely that the Germans would run out of ships first.

So, barring some local operations and actions against the Russian Navy in the Baltic, the German fleet acted as a fleet-in-being for the rest of the war.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A Hard Way to Make a Living

I commend to you a post by the late Neptunus Rex about life as a Landing Signal Officer.

In the early `80s, the Navy had a shortage of people who wanted to fly their airplanes. They asked people in other naval warfare communities to switch over to Naval Air. Their promise was something along the lines of "you can give us a try and, iffn you don't like it, you can go back to your old job with no career penalty".

So there was this young LT or 'JG, just off his first sea tour. He took them up on it.

Four years later, he's spotted on the D&S piers[1] in Norfolk by one of his classmates from Baby SWOS. The conversation went something like this:

"Hey, good to see you! Where're you stationed?"
"I'm Ops on USS Sumdood." (It was a FFG.)
"No kidding! I thought you became a Brown Shoe. What happened?"
"Too many night traps in an A-7."

Of all of the ways to get killed in the Cold War Navy, probably the best way was to fly airplanes on and off carriers.
_______________________
[1] "Destroyers and Submarines"-- where ships that weren't oilers or carriers were berthed.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Uniform Disasters- Aquaflage is Going Away

After six years in the fleet and some controversy, the blue-and-gray cammies could be headed for Davy Jones' seabag.
I called it seven years ago, before that stupid uniform ever hit the Fleet.

Why the fuck the Navy doesn't stop reinventing the goddamn wheel and go back to what worked for decades (washed khakis for E-7s and above, dungarees and blue shirts for junior enlisted) is beyond my comprehension. Probably because some well-connected people in the uniform-making trade won't make much money from it would be my guess.

The fucking Navy uniform selection process is about as useful as a soup sandwich.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

PMS Check

Some years back, I wrote about the Planned Maintenance Subsystem, known as "PMS". I mentioned, briefly, about PMS spot checks, in which the officers were required to audit the conduct of PMS checks.

So there was this one ship where the XO got the idea to put some meat into the spot checks. He had a list of the various work centers. Each week, he would assign the spot checks for some work centers to other division officers: The Communications Officer would have to go do a spot check in the forward fireroom, the Boiler Officer would have to do one on deck, the First Lieutenant would have to do one in Repair 3 and so on. It was a way of making really sure that the checks were being done, since while the Gunnery Officer might have an interest in not making his men look too bad, the Auxiliaries Officer would have no such compulsion.

Now, this is no shit: I was in the Weapons Department. The XO told me that I had to do a spot check in the Operations Department, more specifically, a spot check in ET02, a work center crewed by the Electronics Technicians. Cool, I thought. Since my own division had its share of electronics, I figured that this would be a piece of cake: Watch some guy hook up a test set and check the calibration of something or other. I could sit there, cup of coffee in hand, and watch ET2 Twidget do his thing.

Ah, no.

The check that I drew was to check the TACAN antenna. The TACAN antenna was mounted at the top of the highest mast that the ship had.[1] A "man aloft" chit had to be run on both our ship and the neighboring ones to ensure that nobody turned on any radars or radios.[2] Once that was done, the two ETs doing the check carefully inventoried their gear, we donned climbing harnesses and then up the mast we went. Maybe 110 feet above the upper deck that we'd hit if we fell and 150 feet or so above the water.

Not that it mattered much, for if anyone fell, we weren't landing in the water or on the pier. We'd quite literally hit the deck. The end result from falling a hundred or so feet onto a solid metal deck would have had the same results as falling five times as far, at least to the person doing the falling.

This is probably where I should say that I don't like being on a ladder. At least any higher than the fourth rung. We were one hell of a lot higher.

I don't remember much about the check itself. But the view was pretty spectacular. I wished I had thought to bring my camera. But with my luck, I'd have dropped the damn lens cap on some poor squid.

I did see one person walking by the ship that I had beefed with from time to time. The things that you see when you don't have a wrench handy.

The ETs did their work, I observed and we all came down in good order.
_____________________________________________
[1] There was one antenna that was higher up, but never you mind about that one.
[2] This PMS check could only be performed pierside.

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Imaginative Ensigns

So there was a ship in the Med, a Garcia-class FF. Its SPS-10 surface search radar was out of commission (before the navy began installing LN-66 radars on ships). That meant that the Officer of the Deck had to eyeball the closest point of approach (CPA) for surface contacts. He wasn't terribly comfortable with that and he was probably a bit annoyed that the guys in CIC basically got to do nothing all watch.

So he came up with the idea of using the gunfire radar to ping the range of contacts. A sailor from 2nd Division was installed up in the director. He would train the radar on a visual contact and get the range. With the range input from the radar and the bearing information from the lookouts (or maybe from the radar, as well), CIC could then compute things such as the course and speed of the contact and the CPA for each contact.

That worked well. Until it didn't.

It stopped being a good idea when one of the surface contacts was a Soviet AGI.

Under the 1972 Prevention of Incidents at Sea Treaty between the USA and the USSR, one of the things that was prohibited was "simulating attacks" on the other party's ships. For all the gibbering by the various politicians of how the Russians never honor agreements, the Soviet navy was pretty goddamn scrupulous about honoring that one. Officers of ships deploying overseas were exhorted to have a firm understanding of the provisions of the treaty, because the Russians did.

The Soviets took a dim view of "painting" their ships with fire-control radar; they viewed that as a simulated attack. The Soviet ship's captain (or someone who spoke English) got on the "Bridge-to-Bridge" radio circuit and complained about the alleged treaty violation. Then he reported the incident. A few days later, the frigate's captain had to do a "rug dance" by radio teletype message, about why his command was so cavalier about obeying the provisions of the treaty.

And you know the direction that shit flows.

The OOD was "counseled" to run all of his future "good ideas" by the Senior Watch Officer or the XO for approval before implementing them.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Why USN ASUW Warheads Are Tiny

I got into a post on that on my other blog.

I'm posting a link to it here, in case anyone is interested.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Wardroom Smartassery

So there was this ship's captain. He was a first-gen American, both his parents had been brought over from Scotland as children. He was very much into Scottish culture and he loved to hold forth about Scottish history and whatnot during meals. And since, as the Captain, he was also the Mess President, it's not as though anyone could shut him up.

One time, he was telling everyone about a long-running feud between the Campbell and the MacDonald clans. After some years (so the story went), the local priests prevailed upon the clan leaders to get together, break bread and try to settle the feud. As the story went, they had dinner and then the Campbells rose up and slaughtered the MacDonalds.

There was a moment of silence around the wardroom table, until one young officer said: "And to this day, you can't buy Campbell's soup at McDonald's!"

The silence became a stunned one. Until the Captain chuckled and said that he'd never thought it it that way.