Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Ronald Reagan - Dúnedain of the Week

No, not that Reagan - this Ronald Reagan, as in CVN-76.

Hell of a job, boys. Well done.


  1. Thanks for the link, Jim.

    I've seen many helicopter pick-ups as described in the story. Each time, they put my heart in my throat.

    Go Navy!

  2. Yep. I can't tell you how many times I've had the bridge during flight quarters - and it's a nerve wracking process, especially when the winds are shifting. I've had it twice for emergency flight quarters (chip light! the Oh Shit factor running about 9.5). For a cruise liner skipper to pull it off, under direction of the H60 pilots who are at the same time dropping the basket - yeah, that's some major awesome.

  3. For a cruise liner skipper to pull it off...

    No shit, huh? Impressive as hell.

  4. OK, allow me to display my ignerunz.

    I would have thought that all the skill here would be with the chopper pilot. I'd think that the captain of any large vessel, (in reasonable conditions), should be able to hold a course and speed dictated to him by the pilot. Anything else, such as pitching and rolling would be out of his control, wouldn't it? What other factors is the captain dealing with?

    Standing by for my edumacation, sirs.

  5. It is a very cool story. And that little girl will think of the Navy with affection and pride from here on out...

    And gee, the choice between a state of the art Navy shipboard hospital, and a Mexican hospital? Gee, let me think about that. Tough choice. ;)

  6. Nathan, I'm hoping Jim can provide better insight. I was never a bridge officer - my flight quarters station was on the "flying bridge," providing voice communications to the pilot.

    I do know that whenever my ship would perform flight operations (seldom, as we had no flight deck, and the maneuver described in the article was the only thing we could do) we always had our "A" team on the bridge, including a Master Helmsman, or a Master Helmsman in Training with a Master Helmsman standing by to take over in case a problem arose.

    Our DC (Damage Control) teams were always on hot-standby, with one of our firefighters in a heat-proof silver suit ready to pull the pilot and crew out of the wreckage if there was an accident. As a related matter, that firefighter was a woman on my ship. And I had no doubt that she could of done it. But I digress.

    My station as the communication operator was on the very top level of the ship, right above the regular bridge. It was high enough that we could almost look the pilot in the eye as he hovered above our deck. Scary.

  7. Nathan, the Navy (and to a even larger extent, the Coast Guard) makes landing a helo on a moving vessel look fairly routine - and it is anything but. It's absolutely one of the most dangerous operations going.

    There are thousands of factors that can go wrong, and the consequences of even a single mistake are almost always fatal.

    Major factors are wind and lift. The hotter the conditions, the less lift and power the helo has - which can drastically impact the operational envelope. This operation took place off Baja, my old stomping grounds, and the conditions there can reduce the lift of the helo by hundreds of pounds (hot air is thinner and provides much less lift for the rotors, which reduces what the bird can do, especially in an emergency). The next factor is wind, especially in a basket lift. At sea winds shift radically all the time, I've seen the wind shift completely around the compass in just minutes. Also in this type of operation there is more than one type of wind to be concerned about. There are three types, true wind, i.e. the actual wind direction. Apparent wind, i.e. the wind in relation to the helo. and Relative wind, i.e. the wind in relation to the moving ship, determined by the ship speed and direction through the true wind. All three of these can be calculated, and are on a continuous basis by the bridge team. All interact on a continuous and complex basis, bridge teams are trained to make this calculations in real time without computers (machines can fail at critical moments, people are more reliable, and faster in this case). However, there are things you can't calculate, such as the wind turbulence over the ship's superstructure, sudden down or up drafts, thermal pockets and etc. Then there's pitch and roll of the vessel itself. A large vessel like a cruiser or a liner might move up and down twenty or more feet at bow and stern, imagine hovering over the ship's stern, altitude based on instruments that measure distance from sea level and have the stern suddenly rise towards you at high velocity. Helos like the H60 have radar altimeters, but those are turned off during a lift, because the energy emissions do bad things to the human beings below - so the pilots have to eyeball it. Additionally, on ships equipped to operate aircraft, there are special indicators on the flight deck, lights that guide the pilot and tell him what the ship is doing - none those are present on a cruise liner. There are also no 'crash and smash teams' in the event of an emergency on the flight deck.

    Then there's the basket, wind, ship and aircraft movement can set it to swinging at high speed, easily fouling the bird or killing the occupant (I've seen it happen).

    The H60 is a big bird, heavy and in this case, full of highly explosive avgas (they'd have to have extra tanks, this was a long distance pick up). The weight of the fuel also reduces the bird's performance and lift.

    The Navy helo made this pick up without ship support. The pilot had to make all the wind calculations, eyeball the altitude, the instrumentals, the operation of the bird (which is highly complex), and manage a basket life of an untrained, critically ill, teenaged civilian who could have easily panicked. This was an incredibly hazardous operation. At the same time they were doing all this, they were on the radio giving direction to the ship (usually they get direction from the ship), and having to avoid superstructure hazards and shifting winds.

    But, it's all in a day's work. This is what the Navy does every damned day. I never had a routine day at sea. It's always this way.

  8. Something else, usually distance to object and collision avoidance is measured very precisely by radar. During flight operations, all those radars are turn off, both on the bird and on the ship. At close range Radar can fry people and electronics. So this entire operation was without electronic sensors, strictly by the MK 1 Mod 0 eyeball. Above a ship completely untrained in doing such.

    Very scary.

  9. Jeri, yep. The hospital suite on a carrier is damned awesome. And Navy flight surgeons are the best there are (other Navy doctors may leave something to be desired, your mileage may very).

  10. OK, so I understood a lot of this before your post, (how much the deck is moving, etc.). I hadn't put together how many wind variables exist or the fact that they'd have to do everything by eye. However, having said that, I'm now even more convinced that no matter how competent the captain of the ship, the awesome skills were all in the chopper.

    Am I wrong?

  11. No, you're not wrong Nathan. The pilots showed significant skill - but that's what we pay them for :)

    However, just a point here: Ship's captains are a strong willed lot (goes with the territory). Civilian ship master DO NOT like taking orders from the Navy. They tend to do what they think is correct (again, goes with the territory) and they are NOT used to this type of operation. We often stayed as far from civilian ships as possible, they tended to change direction without signaling or signal one thing and then do something else (and to be fair, so did the Carrier, more often than not).

    For the ship's master to follow direction from the helo says good things about him.

    Point of clarification: The Navy calls a helicopter a 'Helo' (pronounced heeelow), the Coast Guard calls them 'planes' (because they claim that the rotors are actually wings you see.) 'Chopper' is the old army designation for the H-1 Huey, single rotor, made a chop chop chop sound as it went through the air.

  12. "the Coast Guard calls them 'planes' (because they claim that the rotors are actually wings you see."

    Well I knew that they are referred to as "rotary wing aircraft", but calling them 'planes is...a little nuts. :-) (Don't tell them I said so.)

  13. Thanks for the refresher, Jim. It's been *cough, cough* years since I've been directly involved in a air ops.

    And that pilot is the bomb.

  14. I kind of like "bird" myself.

    I once watched my boss get a helicopter ride from the bow of our research vessel to the offshore tower we were visiting, via standing on the edge of a basket dangling underneath. The navy was doing a bunch of maintenance to the tower at the time, and there was no other way to reach our equipment. It hadn't occurred to me that there was anything dangerous about any of it - it looked very smooth and routine.

  15. Well, considering the last couple of years and the fact that Reagan is in work ups for deployment - the chief pilot is probably a combat vet.

    Pulling this off with an H-60B is a pretty good feat. For those of you not familiar with Navy helos, the H-60B Seahawk (based on the Army Blackhawk) is designed as a OTHT (over the horizon targeting) asset and an anti-submarine attack craft. Loaded with combat equipment that limits it's utility in a lift situation. Of course, pretty much all Navy birds have some Search and Rescue capability, but we usually use a CH-46 in situations like this (the big twin rotor egg-beaters), but that would probably been too cumbersome for this job, and it doesn't have the range (if the distance numbers in the article can be trusted).

    The coast guard uses a similar bird, the H-60 Jayhawk, which is specially modified for this type of lift. More often though they use the very nimble H-65 French-built Delfin (commonly called Tuperwolf for the large amount of plastic composites that make up the airframe). They train specifically for this, and have special sensors and instruments that Navy H-60B's don't. Both of their birds are a hell of a lot lighter too, which makes a tremendous difference in performance.

    (Cruiser bridge officers are required to memorize flight parameters and characteristics of all possible helos that can land on their decks - and I rarely forget anything. And these days I don't often get a chance to lecture about it, so I'll probably keep going on about it. Run away, run away!).

  16. it looked very smooth and routine.

    Which is exactly how it's supposed to look - right up until something goes pear shaped...

  17. I'll try to remember the name of the book, but there's one I read a while back that was either autobiography or mostly-so about a guy who went into the service (Marines or Army). The first third of the book deals almost exclusively with his training in piloting a helicopter. It really gave me a feeling for how complicated those machines are...not to mention that all of the forces at work are pretty much trying to tear the thing apart.

    Since then, I've flown in civilian helicopters a few times and I always ask where the pilot got his training. The one time I got a guy who had trained as a civilian was the only time I turned down the ride.

    BTW, the distances in the story struck me a little odd too. If I remember correctly, the article stated that the two ships had closed 450 miles in the time this operation took. Is that feasible?

    Also, post away on more details. I'm fascinated by all that shit. (Jule bought me The Encyclopedia of Modeern Warplanes a few years ago. She calls it my fantasy shopping catalog.

  18. Something I should mention: I, myself, once suffered a burst appendix onboard a ship at sea. Not my best day.

    Sea Story or as we used to say, this is a no-shitter: I was assigned to the Ticonderoga and we had just pulled out of Naples, Italy. I woke up sick as a dog, but figured it was just food poisoning (Naples. Italy. Food on a stick. Lots of shitty Italian beer. See, it would follow and it wouldn't have been the first time either). I rolled out of the top rack, and my appendix burst. If you don't know what that feels like, well it's a lot like getting shot in the stomach. A couple shipmates hauled me down to sickbay. No doctor, he was on emergency leave. No senior corpsman. Just two junior corpsmen, one of who had once performed an appendectomy 'on a corpse' in school. Hmmm, not good. Helo was busted, no way off. Captain turned the ship around and high tailed it back into port while I was going septic and into shock with peritonitis - and the corpsmen were feverishly reading through the manual on how to do an emergency appendectomy. Oh yeah.

    We got back into Naples and they tossed me over the side before the lines were let out. Ambulance ride through streets of Naples (dodging completely fucking insane Italian drivers, me puking blood on the medtech and driver and equipment - basically everywhere except the little bowl thing. Fun fun fun).

    2AM they got me into the surgical ward. Because I had a Top Secret SCI clearance, they couldn't put me under without a debriefing officer present in case I babbled while unconscious (I don't know what they expected I'd say other than THIS FUCKING HURTS!). While they were sobering up the surgeon and finding a cleared officer they cut all my clothes off, strapped me naked to a gurney, covered me with a sheet, and plugged me into a morphine and ringers lactate drip. The officer shows up, the nurse hands him the IV bags and goes off to prep surgery or something. The officer starts telling me that it's going to be OK, because if I die I'll get to be with Jeebus. Yeah, wonderful, big fucking comfort. Just what I wanted to hear.

    Ever had Ringer's. Makes you have to piss, seriously. I decided I was going to take a leak before surgery. It became very important to me (morphine may have been affecting my judgement, or not). I unstrapped and get up to look for the head - with LT and the IV bags following my buck naked ass down the halls, looking in doors. LT screaming at me the whole way.

    Finally found the head (it's hard to concentrate on your business when you're naked and have a LT standing the length of an IV tube behind you, trust me on this).

    Mean time, the nurse discovered I'm not where they left me. Lights, alarms, people scurrying about. I came out of the head and ran into one of the cutest little redheaded corpsmen (female, shut up) I've yet met. Collapsed unconscious at her feet.

    Woke up two weeks later in intensive care.

    Good times, good times.

  19. According to the article at the time of the emergency call, the ships were 550 miles apart. Way too far for an H-60 even with drop tanks.

    Standard procedure is to turn the ships towards each other and close at top speed. Cruise liners can move at a fairly good clip, but a carrier is just about the fasted vessels on the sea when she wants to be. Something about two nuke reactors driving 4 screw, big fucking screws). They probably wouldn't have launched until they were within 150 miles or so, and the carrier would have continued to close. According to the article, the return flight was about 50 miles. Which would be about right time and distance wise.

  20. Nathan, details, well let's see.

    If you really want to do something fun - do an in-flight refueling from the flight deck of a cruiser.

    Way it works is the helo flies at eye level behind the ship at a distance of, oh, about ten feet from the flight deck - ten feet horizontally, not vertically, they're actually hovering above the stern gun mount and missile launcher. And not actually hovering either, as they are actually chasing the ship in this position, because the ship is moving at pretty good speed. The purple shirts (the flight deck fuel guys) hook up a grounding strap and a fuel line using a long pole and start pumping JP4 (avgas). One spark, one mistake, one stray gust and bad shit starts to happen very, very quickly. Also, it is pretty damned easy to lose somebody over the side, usually one of the purple shirts.

    On the bridge you're maintaining course and speed very precisely, keeping an eye on the winds, waves, and that goddamned little sailboat that suddenly decides to tack across your bow. This is usually when the humpback whales surface directly ahead...

    This is just a little bit safer than actually landing. Really. Which will tell you what landing is really like. We used to do it 4-5 times a day, for seven months, in the Gulf.

    And I miss it, I do.

    And if you really want to see something amazing, watch an unrep sometime. This is when we refuel the ship from a tanker. The ships are no more than 120ft apart, moving at high speed. Two to four refueling rigs slung inbetween, pulling the ship's together along with the venturi effect (the suction effect of large volumes of non-compressible water moving at high speed between the ships, because it is being forced between the ships and can't compress it moves faster, much faster than the water on the other side of the ships, increasing drag on that side and pulling the ships together). If the ship's collide, BOOM! CRUNCH! Screaming, yelling, fire, dogs and cats living together. We used to do that at least once a week too.

    Having the con during such operations is a real test of your seamanship. I was very good it, in fact, I (the grubby Warrant) was assigned to train the academy pukes how to do it. Yep, I'm a little proud of that.

  21. More details.

    Lift on a helo is provided by the rotor, this you know. What you may not realize though is how this actually works. If the helo is hovering in still air, then both sides of the rotor provide the same lift. But when the helo begins to move in any direction, forward for example, the lift becomes unbalanced. Here's why, one side of the rotor is moving against the airstream and one side is moving with the airstream. Since the rotor blades are really lifting airfoils, this means the forward moving side has more air moving over it than the opposite side - which means that it achieves much higher lift on one side. If the rotor angle of attack is fixed, the helo will flip over. So the blade must increase angle of attack when moving with the airstream, and decrease angle of attack when moving into the airstream.

    Now, when landing or taking off from a ship, vice on land, the ship is moving, into the wind usually, which means the helo is not hovering - it's actually flying over the ship in full forward motion. Things can become very tricky if the wind shifts because this alters the lifting properties of the rotor without warning. Also as the helo approaches from behind, at speed and into the full wind - it will move into the ship's wind shadow and turbulence from the ship's superstructure. This can have serious consequences.

    Now, do this in a storm, at night, with raging seas.

    Which is why navy helos have very rugged landing gear.

    One more thing: helo pilots usually refer to their craft as a 'loose collection of parts moving roughly in the same direction.'

  22. *has settled in with popcorn*

    That appendectomy story reminds me of my grandfather. He's known to be quite cantankerous when it comes to hospitals and surgery. One time (it would've been somewhere in his 80s) they thought they had him properly sedated in advance of some surgery - but then without warning he suddenly jumped up out of the cot and ran off down the hall. Trailing whatever was stuck into him of course, along with whatever staff was holding up all the stuff stuck into him. Must've been quite a sight seeing them all running down the hall.

    Nowadays they know to tie him down very securely. ;)

  23. Nathan - Ah Ha! I see you've incurred the wrath of Sergeant E yet again.

    Just read through the Bourne post on the Whatever. Apparently you know jack shit about movie making or Hollywood. Bawhahahahahaha!

    Dude, how do you do your job?
    It appears to me that an era has ended. I used to love the Whatever, lately though it seams that the asstards have come flocking in. (don't believe me? check out the number of idiots agreeing and supporting Sarge today - instead of slapping him for acting like an arrogant ass).

    I love the fact the majority of those who posted regarding The Bourne Ultimatum have never actually, uh, seen the movie. My personal favorite: the comment that lamented that 'these movies always end with the guy killing everybody, just once I'd like to see instead of the big macho fight/death ending they slap the cuffs on them.' Um, yeah, for the record - that would be how Bourne actually ends. Oh, sorry if that was a spoiler - it's not a big one, you guys are smart enough to see it coming in the movie.

    What amazes me, is that lack of seeing the film doesn't seem to keep them from having an opinion about it though. We used to have a higher class of commenters over there. Sigh.

  24. Me next! Me next!

    Sea Story, no shit.

    My ship was doing an unrep. My station during this operation was as the Combat Watch Officer, mostly because all the junior officers needed to work the bridge, or aft-steering, and radar doesn't really matter when your ship is so close to the one alongside you. So a senior enlisted person in combat was the norm on my ship.

    Well, we're doing our thing, cruising along, and...we lose steering. Okay, we have a plan for this. Go to aft-steering. Which was also on the fritz. The ships are moving toward one another due to the venturi effect (explained upthread). Our Captain tries to raise the shipmaster of the tanker (many of the refueling ships are USNS ships - not Navy ships of the line (USS) but Naval Service ships (USNS) commanded by civilian masters), and guess what? Ship to ship comms are out, too. Captain has our ship prepare for collision, and grabs a bullhorn. He uses the bullhorn to tell the shipmaster we've lost our steering (the signalman were conveying the same message using semaphore), and to execute an emergency break-away. The USNS turned away sharply, and their stern missed our bow by about 6 feet. Hair-raising, to say the least.

    The next time we did an unrep, our Boatswain's Mate of the Watch switched the Captain's break-away song (a song played over the ship's loadspeakers when you seperate from the fueling ship), which was "God Bless the USA" with "The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald." Much hilarity ensued.

    Ah, memories...

  25. Ah, you've posted so much since my last visit. Do I just have to sit here all day?

    First of all, I can't believe your appendix story isn't the first thing you thought of when you read about the girl on the cruise ship. We are amused.

    When you describe refueling the helicopter in flight, my only thought is "Who the fuck was the first person to think they could do that...and then tried?" (I think the same thing about Lobsters. They're great, but who the fuck looked at one of those and said, "I bet that tastes good"...and probably ate it raw.

    Sarge isn't bothering me and I didn't take his comment very seriously. What I took from his comment was, "Not all movies are good." Fucking, Duh! Not worth responding to. (And if I pointed out that I regularly sit in rooms full of Producers and Directors, he'd just post pictures of a tank again. Don't know what that would prove, but he'd do it.)

    No worries. I'm sure as soon as Scalzi finishes his book things will improve over there back to what we're used to.

  26. Ah, loss of steering, in accordance with the EOSS:

    - Check for positive control in the pilot house, 5 left, 5 right.
    - Computer/Manual to OVERRIDE
    - Check for positive control in the pilot house, 5 left, 5 right.
    - Shift Cables
    - Check for positive control in the pilot house, 5 left, 5 right.
    - Shift Steering Units
    - Check for positive control in the pilot house, 5 left, 5 right.
    - Shift control to after-steering Main ACS
    - Check for positive control in ACS
    - Shift ACS control to manual and steer by trick wheels
    - Check for positive control at the trick wheels.
    - No control at the trick wheels. Sound the collision alarm and the danger signal. Bend over, put your head between your legs, and kiss your ass goodbye.

    I will remember that procedure until the day I die. And yes, I've had to execute it.

  27. "Who the fuck was the first person to think they could do that...and then tried?"

    Strangely enough, I think we all had the same thought - every time.

  28. Nathan, I hope you're right. I'd hate for the Whatever to turn into the Sarge Show. I'd have to duck out. At least on the comment threads...

  29. OK, Just went back over there and took another look at what HWITEO had to say.

    Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner and In the Heat of the Night challenged many Americans’ core sensibilities. Dead Man Walking just challenged America’s patience with one-sided sentimentality about scumbags.


    I would hazard the guess that while both Guess Who's Coming To Dinner and In the Heat of the Night are both excellent pics, they changed not one single mind when they were released. They were much loved by people who already thought that way.

    And since HWITEO opines that Dead Man Walking just challenged America’s patience with one-sided sentimentality about scumbags, I suspect if he'd been an adult in the 1960's he'd probably have just called them "Damned N****R-Lover movies".


    Jim, thanks for the venting space.

  30. Oh by all means, Nathan.

    The guy, and some of the others, are harshing my mellow.

    Whatever just isn't as fun, or as intelligent, as it used to be.

    And I just can't stand arrogant pricks. Sarge just can't seem to resist being an expert on everything. My personal highwater mark was the comment about female sailors on the Cole yesterday on the Gay/Mil Thread at the 'e'. That seriously pissed me off. I knew some of those folks, and every single one of them performed heroically that day. To insinuate the the female Sailor were somehow to blame really chapped my ass. In capable of performing Damage Control my fuzzy ass.

    I typed two responses, and deleted them both without posting because, well, crazies and fools arguing and etc.

  31. Man, I really need to proof read before posting.

    For some reason this comment dialog box is hard for me to read. Apologies for the crappy typing. Need to slow down.

  32. Yeah, I think Scalzi must just be too busy with writing deadlines to do any proper reading and modding. He probably wouldn't've let that DADT thread go where it did either, had he been around to pay attention.

    At least, I'm hoping that's what it is, and that it'll all be better in January. Meanwhile I just try to remember how much more fun everything was last summer before the site explosion.

    Oh well. We can always just hang out here. :)

  33. But, Jim and Janiece, you forgot to mention why these maneuvers are done at Half to Flank speed (I forget all the positions, I think I got those right, hey, I'm an airhead, my brother is the one for the boats).

    But yeah, good on the crew of the Ronald Reagan. Might soften the view of some in San Diego.

  34. Argh! Couldn't stop myself. I think I used more restraint there than I did here, though.

  35. I don't know that it's gotten to point that he would step in on the whatever. It's nothing that I can put a finger on, Sarge isn't trolling, he's just an ass. It's a vague feeling of, uh, bitterness, back biting, and just plain nastiness. Several folks seem to have the manners of myspace denizens or like those nasty little punks who routinely post in the comments on IMDB. It seems to me that there are less adults around, more punk kids with disdainful attitudes towards the rest of us. Really starting to turn me off. Another example, some of the comments the other day when John posted about Athena's Super Sleeper Bed idea seemed - I don't know - a bit over the line. Some comments gave me a serious yuck factor. Maybe it's just me, I don't know, I just don't like a lot of people over there anymore. Seems the folks I really did like don't post nearly as much. Again, hopefully it's just a passing thing.

    The esqu, well Scalzi has made a point of not looking over our shoulders - doesn't mean he wouldn't step in if the trolls come out from under the bridge and start eating people, but I think he tries to leave it alone as much as possible.

  36. Steve, standard throttle positions are, back 2/3, back 1/3, stop, ahead 1/3, ahead 2/3, ahead full, ahead flank, and depending on the ship flank 2 and flank 3. Ships like mine are variable pitch, i.e. the shafts always rotated in one direction (port clockwise, starboad CW, we changed the pitch of the screws and the shaft rpms to change speed or direction. Additionally my ship had independent control of the shafts and screws, so we could run one forward thrust and one reverse thrust at the same time. Used with the huge rudders we could turn the ship within it's own length.

    Unreps are always done at 13 knots (just under full ahead for us), because over the years we've figured that to be the best speed to balance the venturi effect against maximum steerage and reaction time.

    Flight quarters speeds vary depending on wind and a number of other factors.

  37. Oops, mistyped. 13 knots for us was just under ahead 2/3, NOT ahead full.

  38. Nathan, well he did like Three Kings, cause you know it was so accurate and all.

    I'm getting a pretty clear idea of just what kind of Marine ole' Sarge actually was - and why he's not active duty any longer.

    And I can't wait to see what his comeback to your post was. Nice post by the way, well said.

  39. Heh, the RV Savannah does around 11 knots at best, and that's if the wind and waves are cooperating.

    I think it would've been worthwhile to see you post a response about the women of the Cole, not so much to argue with the Sarge, but for the edification of everyone else reading along.

  40. soften the view in San Diego.

    Steve, my experience in San Diego is that most people love and admire the Navy. There's a few jerkoffs, but for the most part I rarely met anybody who didn't go out of their way to thank us and help when they could. I can't think of a single business that doesn't give a military discount. And citizens often line the shore at Point Loma when the Fleet heads out for war, or when they come home.

    Sure, some of it is self serving - especially the businesses - but that's OK, I found San Diego a hell of a nice town with regards to how they treated us.

    Norfolk on the other hand - well, it's gotten better in recent years. But not nearly as good as San Dog.

  41. This comment has been removed by the author.

  42. MWT, well Savannah was originally a Navy TACTASS ship so speed wasn't a requirement.

    If she ended up in the shit, her only response was to open the scuttling valves and pull the ripcord on the destruct packages. Duty on a TACTASS ship was having your ass seriously hanging out in the breeze. Can't fight, can't run, can't abandon ship. No thanks.

  43. Hey, why did you delete your post, Nathan? Didn't want anybody to see you blushing, eh?

    snarky heh heh heh.

  44. Nah.

    I posted "what Janiece said"

    shoulda been "what mwt said"

    delete was easiest.


  45. And this thread has been way too much staying on topic.

    Can't have that now, can we?

    I think this is hysterical:


  46. *scratches head and looks blank*

    Hmmm. I'm not sure if you're insulting the good ship Savannah here or if there really is a TACTASS class with a ship named Savannah in it.

    But no, our Savannah was custom-built to be a science vessel from the get-go. ;) If it has any kind of combat role, it would probably be playing the part of damsel in distress. (It has such an endearing blue hull!)

  47. MWT, my mistake. For some reason I thought I recalled RV Savannah as a former Navy TACTASS sold to the NSF and refit for research. That's what happened to most of them.

  48. Holy friggin' crap, Nathan, that's, that's, that's (I'm stuttering with admiration) brilliant.

    My God is that brilliant. What a terrific gag. I'd love to pull this on somebody, but my wife would kill me for spending $200 bucks on a prank.

    I am in total awe of this idea.

  49. Janiece, Tania, Michelle, Anne,

    Please avert your eyes.



  50. Ah! As I understand it, ships that get converted from Navy vessels also tend to get a name change at the same time - so even if it was, you wouldn't likely know based on its current name.

    Also, now I'm curious what a TACTASS actually is. :)

    Nice link, Nathan! I've begun passing it around to spread joy around (my little corner of) the world.

  51. Avert my eyes? What?!

    I get back from a birthday party for a one-year old and them I'm told not to look?!


    Wish I had something to add, except my only related story is that my Dad's cousin and best friend when he was a child died of appendicitis.

    Not a very good story.

    As far as that prank--I'm actually planning on doing something similar over the years for my cousin's twins (now three months old): my goal is to send them yearly gifts from "The Birthday Elephant" (very long story) but have them sent from all over the US, so they can't figure out who the Birthday Elephant actually is.

  52. Nathan, dude, I know which side my bread is buttered on. We don't cross the Mrs.

    Michelle, the best way to jazz up a story like that? Blame it on Republicans, i.e. The boy was fine, just fine, until he went quail hunting with Dick Vadar - then Bang! burst appendix. Yeah Right. Fucking Cheney.

    See? Like that.

  53. MWT, hulls are tracked in the national SeaLink database and federal registry. Name changes can almost always be traced by to original. Some ships have been renamed a dozen times.

    TACTASS: TACtical Towed Acoustic Sonar System. These were the 'tail' ships of the cold war. Often called 'trawlers' wink wink. They hunted Soviet subs. Long gone now.

  54. Well, the problem is he died during the Truman administration, so I don't think Darth Cheney was even around then. And I'm pretty sure Eisenhower wasn't to blame.

    Plus? My grandmother is a Republican. So things like that don't go over so well. (I can't wait till local elections roll around and she gets to see what the WV Republican party is like.)

  55. Hey, they lie about history, I lie about history.

  56. Man, I don't look at a thread over here for 12 hours and it explodes!

    FWIW, I agree on commenters on Whatever and the 'e' -- just not FUN anymore. My discretionary time is limited, and I'd rather spend it where it's entertaining... like blog hopping around y'alls sites. :)


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