October 30, 2004

Tao of Soldiering

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:55 pm

I’m just sitting here and not feeling like doing much output. (I did some good stuff this week, I thought, but ah well.)

Instead, I’ll plagiarize. Under the “more” tag, a hit from the always revealing Jason from the idle blog Just Another Soldier. You can subscribe to his email list, and you’ll be glad you did.

In this burst Jason begins to understand the connection between spirituality and the warrior’s life. It’s hyperbole, sure, but there’s truth in there, too. He says things others don’t admit:

I like being a soldier and I love being an infantryman. There are a lot things that truly suck about being in Iraq, but none of it’s really all that bad. This is the most interesting and exciting thing I’ve ever done. War is a horrible thing and I hope that as human culture we can find a way to completely put an end to it, but I have to admit I like combat. I’m not sure how this is possible, but it’s how I feel. When guys discuss when we will be sent home, I get sorta depressed. I don’t want it to end yet. How often do you get to shoot at terrorists? (Don’t try to tell me they’re not all terrorists. The guy who fills the water tanks for our showers had his head cut off last week and his entire family killed. That qualifies as terrorist in my book.) I love this job. Anyone who says you won’t find happiness during combat, doesn’t know how to find happiness. Combat has nothing to do with it.


October 28, 2004

Foolish Blather

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:35 pm

I was emailed this article from the Asia Times entitled “Submarines: Obsolete symbols of national pride” by Eric Koo Peng Kuan. Man, it’s about the stupidest article I’ve seen in a while. I don’t normally indulge, but a fisking is definitely in order.

The submarine – that vessel and its crews romanticized in the films Run Silent, Run Deep and Das Boot (The Boat) – faces the very real danger, a technological depth-charge, of becoming obsolete and totally redundant in modern navies. Probably, it already is obsolete, more a relic of national pride and prestige than an actually effective weapon or weapons platform.

So at least he’s heard of WWII submarine movies. Gosh am I impressed. Ooh, and technological depth charge. Such cleverness. Do you mean a barrel of sodium that is harmless a couple of hundred feet away?

Probably is one of those argument-free placeholders that allows all sorts of foolery. Probably this guy Eric Koo Peng Kuan has terminal acne and malodorous back hair. I know because there is a movie somewhere about it. See? Works for everything.

These U-boats, however, would be virtually useless in the narrow and shallow Taiwan Strait, detected by ships and aircraft with high-technology and then destroyed. And they are virtually useless elsewhere, with scant exceptions.

Well, this certainly is free of anything resembling real world analysis and warfighting experience. “Detected by ships and aircraft with high-technology”? Does he expect someone to rush from a fishing boat, open a box of Acme(tm) High Technology (Buy it! It’s unspecified!) and instantly find all the hidden U-boats? Can we use that same box of Acme(tm) for, oh, I don’t know, snipers? How about which scratch ticket at the liquor store has the $500 prize?

Feh. This oh-so-militarily-educated writer needs to spend a day on a P-3 or a frigate.

And U-boats? When does this guy in Asia expect the Germans to be zipping around Taiwan? Or is his complete knowledge of submarine warfare from Das Boot?

Has he even heard of ISR? Battlespace prep? Any of the other things subs do?

During the Cold War, submarines could also equipped with cruise missiles or ballistic missiles that could be armed with nuclear, chemical or biological warheads in order to enhance their lethality. Submarines thus became mobile launching pads for ballistic missiles at sea. However, surface ships also have missile-launching capabilities, and in fact, have proved to be much more militarily effective and cheaper than submarines.

It’s also cheaper to not put propulsion in a ship and tow it where you want it. But we don’t do that all the time because it would be stupid. Almost as stupid as putting an easily visible Tomahawk shooter near a coast and prealerting who you want to shoot at. Near about as stupid as putting a ballistic nuclear missile in a place at sea where someone else knows where it is and can strike it first with a car bomb from the next pier over.

Oh, wait. I’m just barely getting started, because the stupidity is just FLOWING from this guy’s poison pen.

The invention of radar, however, and subsequently satellite surveillance technology from the United States, meant that the advantages of being submerged were negated totally. Surface ships are easily able to detect submarines if they are equipped with such technology, which is not excessively expensive and is cost-effective.

Easily. Easily. Like, since when, Sailor Boy? I took a thirty eight year old boat’s conn and bested some of the world’s best sub hunters, boyo. Underwater is a trump card and works just fine. What in the world were you thinking when you mentioned radar? You know, like the kind with radio waves? The kind that don’t penetrate water? Or a satellite–with what? That box of Acme(tm)?

Show. me. the. money. Whoops, ain’t none.

Why is this guy even writing in the past tense here? What possible garbage did he dredge up and assume was the Way Things Were? Doesn’t he know the difference between a contractor’s blue sky briefing slide about what Might Could Be given ten years and a lot of money to the contractor and what is?

The ability to travel underwater thus becomes a naval liability, as nautical design meant that submarines might not be heavily armed, nor as heavy, as surface warships. With the invention of depth charges, and then anti-submarine torpedoes, surface warships have become more than a match for submarines simply by having superior firepower, and the option of calling in air support to bomb the menacing submarine.

Heavily Armed: Quick. Name the most heavily armed weapons system on the planet.

Guess? Trident.

Well, then, that Kuan statement was a little wrong, wasn’t it?

As Heavy. Frankly, I’d prefer lighter to heavier with the same capability, but I’ll humor you. Virginia is what, eight thousand tons? What’s the DWT of your country’s flagships, there, Mr. Singapore Sailor Expert?

Depth Charges. Again with the depth charges. Read any Jane’s Fighting Ships past 1963, have you?

The Option Of Calling In Air Support. Sure, if you know where the submarine is. Which you won’t, because Acme(tm) hasn’t made your seas transparent yet despite decades of saying it’s just around the corner. And, what say you the submarine doesn’t ALSO have that option?

Submarines are sometimes used in reconnaissance roles of locating enemy ships, but aircraft and surface ships are better and more effective choices. In the case of the US Navy, with its satellite technology, US submarines have become redundant and unnecessary for this task.

–Aircraft: See EP-3, downed, Hainan Island. Also see behavior, enemy, changed, one each.

–Surface Ships: See exercise, cancelled. Also see USS Liberty, etc, etc.

–Satellite: See low-power line of sight direct communications systems. See also Stalinism, public communications in countries with.

Sounds like our friend has also become redundant and unneccessary, as this article has become auto-fisking. But to belabor the point:

Thus, the only combat role left to the submarine is that of harassing defenseless civilian ships and naval support vessels. However, international maritime laws governing the conduct of naval warfare prohibits hitting certain ships, such as hospital ships, supply ships bearing humanitarian aid, as well as ships from countries neutral in a conflict. The international outrage and diplomatic repercussions of states violating this rule far outweigh the strategic advantages of attacking such surface ships.

See Lusitania, World War One, those little black flags British boats fly when they sink things, and anyone with submarine experience or a history book.

How did this ever get printed?

Maybe because it’s an anti-American newspaper with a loose concept of truth?

I’m getting tired of typing. Here’s the, um, writer:

Eric Koo Peng Kuan is a freelance writer who holds a master’s degree in strategic studies from the Institute of Defense and Strategic Studies (IDSS) in Singapore.

I can’t find any contact information to discuss this egregious pile of steaming scholarship. Argh.

Look, if you just hate subs, there are other ways to do it. You just have to have some basis in reality.

Arguing Against Submarines For The Beginner

  • They’re wicked expensive.
  • They have risk. Bad things can happen on a sub.
  • They don’t sit off a coast and look cool and some people think that means a lot.
  • They don’t carry a lot of airplanes, usually.
  • They’re wicked expensive.
  • The technological base must be extremely robust and able to handle the work, especially if you’re doing the fuel cell thing or the nuclear thing to your engines.
  • You can’t hide and yell at the same time–there are tradeoffs for stealth, communications, and speed.
  • You can’t run forever without an SSN–there is a tradeoff between speed and endurance, and snorkeling removes some stealth.
  • Oh, and did I mention the cost?

Intermediate Anti-Sub Arguments go into things like missions and comparative capabilities. You know, the heavy stuff.

Advanced might even talk about the product cycle of Dreadnaught and how that may be analogous to submarines, but that would take some serious study to avoid being laughed at.

Our friend here with the master’s needs to get out of Blockbuster and go read some books and talk to people who go to sea for a living before he blathers foolishly in some newspaper.

October 27, 2004

Anyone know…

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:26 pm

where the Brisbane, Australia American Legion can quickly get campaign stuff for their U.S. election day party? They need the help quick.

Drop a comment, please, if you know. An old friend of ours has asked us.

NGOs Are Not All Good

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:18 pm

…a conclusion I only recently came to.

Instapundit links to this Foreign Policy article on some aspects of NGOs. Executive summary:

The war against poverty is threatened by friendly fire. A swarm of media-savvy Western activists has descended upon aid agencies, staging protests to block projects that allegedly exploit the developing world. The protests serve professional agitators by keeping their pet causes in the headlines. But they do not always serve the millions of people who live without clean water or electricity.

I remember a Mark Steyn column on the same subject, but can’t find it. Argh.

If you want a good story, ask a CARE or Oxfam person why T-shirts are the first things people put on when distributing food. It’s so they can get the advertising they need to get more funding from donors.

One of my Halifax anticommunist rants was an attempt to convince the local pacifist that food on the ground in a starving country is a weapon and must be treated as if it were being used that way. To paraphrase a certain screaming ex-reverend comedian, why do you think these people are not living where the food is?


Filed under: — Chap @ 11:18 pm

Got nothin’.

I kinda had something back when the connectivity fouled up and the ether ate my post. You woulda liked it; it was great. Really snazzy.

October 26, 2004

Will Ferguson Is A Nice Guy

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:47 pm

…even if he does hate Canadians. But first a story.

And a warning. I’m bored and on the boat and do not want to do the paperwork for a little while. You have been warned–this is llloonnng. Worth every cent you pay me.

My wife left early from Halifax so that I could go to an interminable morning meeting which would have been completely unremarkable and nap-inducing if I had actually remembered to wear my uniform’s belt. Oh, I had noticed that, mind you, before I left the ship, but in the scrum of all the other people who were suddenly also volunteered to go to this meeting asking me questions, I lost my place and blissfully tramped to the meeting au Sansabelt.

Those of you who have worn a uniform can understand the nature of this discomfort. Showing up with a uniform item astray, or in the wrong uniform, is much like what I expect people feel in those dreams when they show up in high school class for the Big Exam in the nude. Except this is real (not the nude part, thankfully–just the discomfort), and it lasts longer.

I was saved by a jacket that covered the offending area–so I sweated through the meeting with the jacket on and hoped nobody noticed. Ah, vanity.

So, after a truly terrible lunch in the Flag Mess, and with my wife flying away from me, I was at loose ends. Since it is an admirable goal to see as much of a place when in a place, I had wanted to experience something Canadian while in Halifax. My shipmates were of absolutely no help, as were the few Canadian sailors I queried. “Something Canadian? Maybe a Keith’s while watching football on TV?”

Uhh, no thanks.

The newspaper saved me. In a tiny little blurb in the back of the local Alternative Newspaper (why are “alternative” newspapers all exactly the same?), it mentioned that this writer guy was Going To Talk About His Book “Beauty Tips From Moose Jaw“, a book about traveling the length of Canada. Since someone writing about traveling the depth of Canada might be a bit impractical, this lecture sounded just right for a Monday evening’s entertainment. So I got directions from the nice young student at the fake Italian deli and went for a stroll.

(On the other hand, that “depth of Canada” thing might be interesting. Think about it: “Day 24. I have dug seventy feet more since Andrew deserted, claiming terminal shovel blisters. The local villagers must be away on holiday, but I did meet some nice earthworms who were visiting from Manitoba. These social pleasantries were not enough, however, to obscure the desperation of our predicament. Not one Tim Horton's in evidence, and the rainwater has come up to wee Rodger's elbows.“)

I brought my digital camera with me on the trip and gaily snapped dark and blurry shots of anything that didn’t move too quickly. I can’t share any of those until I can get back on land, though. For now just imagine a dark blurry lump with some streetlight somewhere. On the walk I came upon some particularly bad Institutional Architecture, connected to the Dalhousie college campus on which I was trespassing. I stopped at a corner with two concrete park benches chained to a trash barrel next to the Nova Scotia Archives. Since the very sight drained the joie de vivre out of anyone walking past, I had to take a photo–

–and was stopped by a nice fellow who asked me if I needed directions. Since the guy didn’t look like a cop I figured I was okay for the moment. I checked my watch–6:42 PM–a very good sign.

“I’m pretty sure I’m near where I need to go. I’m going to the Computer Science auditorium to hear a lecture by a writer–(scrambling for my piece of paper)–Ferguson.”

“That’s me!”

Yes, I had met the famous Will Ferguson, star of stage and CBC, big in Finland. Really, he’s honorarily Finnish, or has his photo up in bookstores and saunas all over Finland or something. I mean it. All the sahti he can drink whenever he goes over to visit. And he was wandering around this campus just like me, an hour and a half before the event. Turns out he wanted to do a dry run before the lecture to make sure he didn’t get lost.

“Well, that’s great! So there will be more than two people there!” He was understandably curious as to why someone who pronounced “out” wrong was going to his lecture. I mean, there’s a toque on the front of his new book and everything. Why this talk?

I told him truthfully, except for the truth part. “I saw the title involved Moose Jaw, and boy, if that isn’t glamorous, what is?”

We talked for a while, nearly getting run over a couple of times, me explaining what the big gray boxes with the numbers were doing in the harbor and why a submariner would be on one of those things, him revealing common history as an expat in Japan and delicately evading further contact. I mean, it really sounded like a good excuse to the novice–“I have to go visit my friend in the hospital right there”–but I’ve heard enough about Canadian medicine. If Ferguson went in that building he’d never be heard from again. So he politely evaded my entertaining presence, but some of us know better.

The time for the talk came near, and the venue was everything you’d expect from a university computer science auditorium. I was beginning to expect a quiz afterward, even. The AV prole fella had a twenty minute solo Experimental Industrial Music solo with the “beserk karaoke” settings on the mike before Will showed up. I would have applauded but the look on the poor guy’s face was “guess I shouldn’t have quit my day job” sad.

You see that? I casually called him Will. Just like that. I am so money.

Will was so entertaining in his talk that the blonde in the back put down her trashy romance novel (“The Great Gatsby”, and she agreed with me when I said she was there for some real literature). After the talk, I went down and bought a few books, including a book with “Why I Hate Canadians” written prominently on the cover, to be used once in the presence of the Canadian liaison officers on board ship. I would have hung around afterward, but a stunning brunette coed from the local 15 watt radio station was standing by with tape recorder in hand, and I am not one to refuse a writer his perks.

Anyhow. Ferguson is the first person I have ever met who went to Japan to teach English and come back and still hold some kind of a “job”. (Some stay in Japan. Most of them wind up in AA, or in politics, or on crack–same thing, really.) He has good books, and you’ve already read the latest Bill Bryson. Dave Barry is on hiatus, so you need something. Try out a Will Ferguson.

Or at least check out his website. His vast army of receptionists will respond to your contact reply immediately, or at least once the booze runs low.

Art Vs. “Art”

Filed under: — Chap @ 10:04 am

I loved Maus. I love Krazy Kat. I love old cartoons.

Then Art Spiegelman puts out a book with beautiful drawing and terrible politics.

This, however, is a perfect response to Spiegelman’s newest book.

October 25, 2004

National Post Articles

Filed under: — Chap @ 11:14 pm

On the way back from a rather spectacular day, many posts to follow when I get the time, I snagged a copy of the National Post because of the front page above-the-fold article. The unpleasant person rightfully called out by Little Green Footballs has been condemned by Canadian Jews and Muslims:

Jewish groups and at least one fellow Muslim leader dismissed the statement [a “clarification”] as half-hearted and insincere. “I found it hilarious,” said Tarek Fatah, co-founder of the Muslim Canadian Congress. “The honourable thing for Mr. Elmasry [head of the Canadian Islamic Congress] to do is to resign his position. But to put a spin on this and deny what he said is embarrassing for all Muslims.”

More, from the subscription required section…

The Swedish sub “deal” is mentioned again, this time with a Chicoutimi spin:

OTTAWA — The U.S. navy, which had hoped to conduct crucial training with Canada’s second-hand subs, has now turned to the Swedes in a highly unusual deal which would see one of that country’s submarines permanently based on America’s west coast.

I think it’s far from being a done deal by any means, and that some reporter is going to be surprised.

Also, a comment about Canadian government reps misunderstanding the military and its technology:

…at the first major hearing into the issue [purchasing the Oberon Upholder-class subs from England now that one has had a casualty] last week, MPs on the committee didn’t appear to understand even the basics of submarine operations.

This tells me that there aren’t any submariners on the staffs or known to the staffs.

A good day for paper articles.

Update: Sim corrects me on the ship class.

Samar, the Battle Thereof, and Sixty Years

Filed under: — Chap @ 1:50 pm

Curt reminds me that this is a day to remember, for those in the U.S. Navy’s surface force, and for those who remember desperate heroism.

It is little remembered amongst the ensigns. Perhaps I do my part to teach them. Curt says

I will preface the rest of the post with this quote from Samuel Eliot Morrison: “In no engagement in its entire history has the United States Navy shown more gallantry, guts and gumption than in those two morning hours between 0730 and 0930 off Samar.”

I concur with Curt–the fighters of objectives Moe, Larry and Curly in Iraq fought with the same cornered, wounded lion’s ferocity as the tiny force of Taffy 03 off Samar at Leyte Gulf.

A map of the battle

Link stolen from

Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944

Battle off Samar, 25 October 1944

Japanese battleship Yamato (foreground) and a heavy cruiser in action during the Battle off Samar.

The cruiser appears to be either Tone or Chikuma.

Photographed from a USS Petrof Bay (CVE-80) plane.


October 24, 2004

I Dig The Hair

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:44 pm

I just discovered a new blog. I love it when that happens.

OzWitch is asking herself if she’s being sane by dyeing her hair bright red. Why not–as long as the hair stays in when you’re done (used to happen with bleach blonde)! She also asks about the women in submarines policies. One of these days I should post on it but the upshot is that there are too many curmudgeons in the USN sub force to deal with it, and we need a hell of a lot more women engineers to make it more than a token onesie-twosie. (Send your girls to college for degrees in Mech E–they’ll get a good job and all the boy geeks they can handle!)

Turns out Lex already knows her. Definitely need to get her and Vader together to talk kid stuff…

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:15 pm

This guy voted too. He just voted a little more emphatically.

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:15 pm

This guy voted too. He just voted a little more emphatically.

Decisions Revealed Through Questions

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:13 pm

Tom also was privy to many, many discussions during the runup to the Iraq invasion. Bob Woodward has a very interesting set of questions he tried to pose to both Presidential candidates.

At the end of last year, during 3 1/2 hours of interviews over two days, I asked President Bush hundreds of detailed questions about his actions and decisions during the 16-month run-up to the war in Iraq. His answers were published in my book “Plan of Attack.” Beginning on June 16, I had discussions and meetings with Sen. John Kerry’s senior foreign policy, communications and political advisers about interviewing the senator to find out how he might have acted on Iraq — to ask him what he would have done at certain key points. Senior Kerry advisers initially seemed positive about such an interview. One aide told me, “The short answer is yes, it’s going to happen.”

In August, I was talking with Kerry’s scheduler about possible dates. On Sept. 1, Kerry began his intense criticism of Bush’s decisions in the Iraq war, saying “I would’ve done almost everything differently.” A few days later, I provided the Kerry campaign with a list of 22 possible questions based entirely on Bush’s actions leading up to the war and how Kerry might have responded in the same situations.

The questions that follow are good thought exercises, and reveal some insight into the types of critical thinking needed for such big decisions.

Oh yeah. I already voted. How about you?

Tom’s European Dilemma

Filed under: — Chap @ 8:09 pm

My friend Tom, about two years ago, was flabbergasted. Normally a quiet, unassuming fellow, he was faced with an American telling him, a British citizen used to the Troubles and terrorist attacks, about terrorism. The American was telling him that things were not what Tom thought they were or should be. What in the world was going on?

One good answer is that of Ralph Peters, who I have mentioned before. Peters has taken one of his previous themes and restated them in today’s New York Post:

October 24, 2004 — EUROPEANS insist that the United States overreacted to 9/11. Conde scendingly, they observe that they’ve been dealing with terror ism successfully for three dec ades, that it can be managed, that life goes on.

They’re wrong.

What Europeans fail to grasp — what they willfully refuse to face — is that the nature of terrorism has changed.

The alphabet-soup terrorists of the past — the IRA, ETA, PLO, RAF and the rest — were essentially political organizations with political goals. No matter how brutal their actions or unrealistic their hopes, their common intent was to change a system of government, either to gain a people’s independence or to force their ideology on society.

Peters is talking about rational versus apocalyptic terrorists. Apocalyptic terrorists seek purification through shedding of blood, if the analogy between the ones now and the ones at the Reformation holds up:

THE new terrorists are vastly more dangerous, more implacable and crueler than the old models. The political terrorists of the 1970s and ’80s used bloodshed to gain their goals. Religious terrorists see mass murder as an end in itself, as a purifying act that cleanses the world of infidels. They don’t place their bombs for political leverage, but to kill as many innocent human beings as possible.

And this makes the successful actions much, much different.

October 23, 2004

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:26 pm

And one more thing. The latest anthrax shot hurt like an (expletive). It still itches.

I hate anthrax.

Double argh.

Filed under: — Chap @ 4:26 pm

And one more thing. The latest anthrax shot hurt like an (expletive). It still itches.

I hate anthrax.

Double argh.


Filed under: — Chap @ 4:24 pm

Wife dropped by Halifax and we’re having too much fun for me to blog right now. I will admit to at least three annoying conversations in a coffee shop with such characters as an idiot who tried to get me to desert due to “the unconstitutional war” (I admire my own ability to avoid starting a fight right there), and an extended rant on why Che Guevara was a Bad Man, Dammit. YES it is all right to say such a thing. ARGH.

Anyhow. Lost among the quaint tourists…

October 21, 2004

Irwin Chusid Has A Website!

Filed under: — Chap @ 6:38 pm

Irwin Chusid is a minor deity of protection and dissemination for those odd little music makers you hear about from your weirder friends from time to time. Raymond Scott? Check. Hal Willner’s Disney, Mingus, and Monk comps? Check. WFMU? Check. Songs in the Key of Z? Ohhyeah check.

You’ve never heard of any of these people. I can tell. I’m used to that look by now, by the way.

Whiners and Winners–Part Deux

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:36 pm

I was reading the SubVets magazine American Submariner today, and Ron Martini of Rontini’s Sub Base had a great article that might apply to comments made earlier this week in the press. Jason van Steenwyk has some observations about supply this week. Martini’s article, posted on this website, might have a lesson to apply.

Martini reminds us that supply is always hard.

I have had the pleasure of reading a new book, hopefully to be published soon, entitled; “Full Fathom Five.” The book is written by the daughter of James Coe, who was the CO of S-39, Skipjack and was lost on the Cisco’s first patrol.

Lt. Cmdr Coe was CO of the USS Skipjack when he wrote his famous “toilet paper” letter to the Mare Island Supply Office. Read it and then the new material follows which the author graciously gave me permission to post.


June 11, 1942

From: Commanding Officer

To: Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, California

Via: Commander Submarines, Southwest Pacific

Subject: Toilet Paper

Reference: (a) USS HOLLAND (5148) USS SKIPJACK req. 70-42 of 30 July 1941.

(b) SO NYMI Canceled invoice No. 272836

Enclosure: (1) Copy of cancelled Invoice

(2) Sample of material requested.

1. This vessel submitted a requisition for 150 rolls of toilet paper on July 30, 1941, to USS HOLLAND. The material was ordered by HOLLAND from the Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, for delivery to USS SKIPJACK.

2. The Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island, on November 26, 1941, cancelled Mare Island Invoice No. 272836 with the stamped notation "Cancelled---cannot identify." This cancelled invoice was received by SKIPJACK on June 10, 1942.

3. During the 11 ¾ months elapsing from the time of ordering the toilet paper and the present date, the SKIPJACK personnel, despite their best efforts to await delivery of subject material, have been unable to wait on numerous occasions, and the situation is now quite acute, especially during depth charge attack by the "back-stabbers."

4. Enclosure (2) is a sample of the desired material provided for the information of the Supply Officer, Navy Yard, Mare Island. The Commanding Officer, USS SKIPJACK cannot help but wonder what is being used in Mare Island in place of this unidentifiable material, once well known to this command.

5. SKIPJACK personnel during this period have become accustomed to use of "ersatz," i.e., the vast amount of incoming non-essential paper work, and in so doing feel that the wish of the Bureau of Ships for the reduction of paper work is being complied with, thus effectively killing two birds with one stone.

6. It is believed by this command that the stamped notation "cannot identify" was possible error, and that this is simply a case of shortage of strategic war material, the SKIPJACK probably being low on the priority list.

7. In order to cooperate in our war effort at a small local sacrifice, the SKIPJACK desires no further action be taken until the end of the current war, which has created a situation aptly described as "war is hell."

J.W. Coe

Click through for the aftershocks of that letter.

My point is that this took place in 1942 and we were fully on a war footing. Supply problems always come up and it takes extra effort and ingeniuity to address them sufficiently.

The magazine also has a great story involving the diesel boat Archerfish, some sailors, a goat, and a rooster. It’s just as you’d expect. Except this time, the editors got the same story from as many players as possible and printed everyone’s version of the sea story. What a great way to figure out what really happened–or at least the common story…

A Buncha Whiners, Part One

Filed under: — Chap @ 5:01 pm

It’s easy to complain in a vacuum.

A buncha people are complaining right now about the “plan to win the peace” in Iraq.

So where were all you guys complaining during the runup to the war? Or for that matter, 1993? If you’re all so all that, why can’t you show how you tried to invent/change/recommend such a plan back then? Or is it because you just found something that looks good to complain about this week, and you have no idea what happened in Germany and Japan in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s?

In any case this oxcart ain’t coming out of the muck until enough shoulders are behind the wheel.

Get in the damn arena with the rest of us or quit crying.

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