Monday, October 31, 2011

U-Boat vs Monomoys, 1943

Doesn't the premise of that sound a little like SWOs vs aliens (aka Battleship, the movie)?  But step back a moment and check out the image above.  Who hasn't seen this famous picture?  Official Caption: "COAST GUARD CUTTER SINKS SUB: Coast Guardsmen on the deck of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter SPENCER watch the explosion of a depth charge which blasted a Nazi U-Boat's hope of breaking into the center of a large convoy.  The depth charge tossed from the 327-foot cutter blew the submarine to the surface, where it was engaged by Coast Guardsmen.  Ships of the convoy may be seen in the background."
 Date: 17 April 1943
 Photo No.: 1517
 Photographer: Jack January

What a great shot, depicting some of the very valuable service rendered by the USCG in WWII.  But in the same series of photos, taken by the same photographer from the same ship, we have another spectacular shot.  Click for a high-res view.
  Official Caption: "OFF TO RESCUE THEIR BEATEN FOES: A pulling boat leaves the side of a Coast Guard combat cutter to rescue Nazi seamen struggling in the mid-Atlantic after their U-Boat had been blasted to the bottom by the cutter's depth charges. Two Coast Guard cutters brought 41 German survivors to a Scottish port."
 Date: 17 April 1943
 Photo No.: 1516
 Photographer: Jack January
 Description: The men in this pulling boat were in fact a trained boarding team led by LCDR John B. Oren (standing in the stern and wearing the OD helmet) and LT Ross Bullard (directly to Oren's left).  With the assistance of the Royal Navy they had practiced boarding a submarine at sea in order to capture an Enigma coding machine and related intelligence material.  They were forced to take a pulling lifeboat when the Spencer's motor lifeboat was damaged by friendly fire.

Check out more, including photos of the Monomoy alongside the U-boat, here.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some interesting commentary...

I'm a huge fan of Google Books, and here's another example of why:

By Arthur B. Casmdy, Esq,. Member. (Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers)

By way of preface, the author refers to the New England dory, the New Bedford whaleboat, the Ranger boat for naval survey use in Central America, the racing cutter or barge, and the light steam or uaptha launch in common use on the coasts, as examples of highly successful craft for special uses. Navy boats have also been designed for their special purpose.

Requirements include: Strength to stand hard usage in rough water; stability under sail or oars: great carrying capacity, and weight as light as is consistent with necessary strength. Steam cutters must not only carry their own loads, but be capable of towing other heavily loaded boats. Aboard war vessels stowage space is limited, and the number of boats which can be carried also limited, so that the boats provided may be on occasions very heavily loaded with men, equipments and provisions—as in abandoning ship. Landing parties mean heavy loads, a probable pull through surf, and much banging upon the shore. In 1870 navy boats were classified according to size, but not form, and Chief Constructor Philip Hichborn has completed the standardization. In carrying out this scheme the best existing boats were selected and studied, also opinions invited from navigating officers who held different opinions about the rig. About 75 per cent favored the sliding gunter, and the others preferred the standing lug. The list of boats classified includes: Steam cutters, launches, cutters, barges, whaleboats, gig whaleboats and dinghies. Essential qualities of design for naval boats are: Safety, weight, comfort, and speed, in order. The author comments on each requirement, and gives much practical information concerning materials and methods of construction. In the matter of speed for steam cutters only a moderate rate is sought. In rough waters this ranges from eight knots for 40 ft. cutters to six knots for 28 ft. cutters. There are about a thousand boats in use in the Navy, and the average life is ten years.

Oh no he di-int. Isss ON!

Like Donkey Kong - from the Washington Post:  FIGHTIN' WORDS
The deputy ambassador at the British Embassy recently boasted about the British burning of the White House during the War of 1812, calling the sacking of Washington a “great British victory.”

Philip Barton, in an apparent attempt at humor, referred to the attack on the U.S. capital as he welcomed British boxer Amir “King” Khan to Washington this month to promote a Dec. 10 championship match with D.C. prizefighter Lamont “Havoc” Peterson.

“Amir, you may have ceded the home advantage to Lamont,” Mr. Barton said at a reception at the British Embassy, “but you - and he - should know this: There are a lot of us Brits here in Washington.

“We have had some notable victories here over the years. We even managed to burn down the White House in 1814!

“So, rest assured, come 10 December, you’ll have your share of local support. All of us are looking forward to another great British victory.”

Oh yeah.  So hit 'em back, yo!  ...or not.
The U.S. ambassador to the Philippines created an uproar over his claims that 40 percent of male visitors to the South Asian nation come for illegal sex.

Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. made the comment at a forum in late September and then scrambled to apologize after realizing he got his facts wrong.

“I should not have used the 40 percent statistic without the ability to back it up. I regret any harm that I may have caused,” he said in a text message to reporters in Manila this month.

He expressed “deep regret” for his remarks and promised that the United States will continue to work with the “strong and dedicated partner of the Filipino people in combating the global scourges of human trafficking and sexual tourism,” an embassy official told reporters.

Mr. Thomas sent his apology to Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario, and a government spokesman called the matter closed.
Wait.  You mean the Brit ambassador lashed out, and then we went and embarassed ourselves?  And in the end we didn't even address any of the percieved wrongs?  Wow - it's like the War of 1812 all over again there on Embassy Row in Washington.

200 years of progress in microcosm.  Awesome.


Color me confused

Last night's working session proved particularly productive.  With Monomoy No. 3 in the shop, we removed two complete floors, 8 and 17, and began cleaning up the planking interior faces for laying in new material this Saturday.  We're now down to the absolute bones of the boat - digging around deeper than a TSA agent screening a guy with frazzled wires hanging out of his pocket.  And in the process we're learning even more about the boat's construction and history.  No, we didn't find any dates scrawled between her planking, but it might as well have been.

As we began unscrewing and prying up the spongy old floors and poking around for other symptoms of dry rot, we broke out the trusty heat guns and started scraping back layers of paint.  And in the myriad colors bursting out under the scrapers, we were actually able to find some interesting tidbits that might help us validate the little we know of her documented past.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Back to work

All summer, the Dockyard has been fairly well neglected - not much serious work going on as our boat programs came to a screeching halt - due largely to seƱor management (he's Uraguayan)devoting most energy to Hornet.  It didn't help that Monomoys 2 and 3 were outside, and the mosquitoes were quite bad this year.  Or that seam reefing is possibly worse than breaking rocks when it comes to hard labor.  But now the Monomoys have been shifted, and No. 3 is all set up so nicely - indoors I might add - and ready for volunteers in armchairs around the Hampton Roads area to start coming back out.

So I'm calling you all back in!  Over the last several weeks we've been horrible about keeping up the Wednesday night working sessions, but I'm trying to get that started again tonight.  1900 (7 pm)- Dockyard - get it.  We'll be getting started on planing down the framing stock, pulling out a few of the floors to be replaced, and getting out clamping devices ready for the actual work.

There is one thing missing in all of this - a budget.  The funds available for Dockyard work are scarce, and in 2011 were largely allocated for large materials.  That means we haven't purchased much in the way of tools and consumables that we'll need for moving forward.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Up to no good

Last weekend we bit into the last big "power shuffle" project at the Dockyard - flipping Monomoy No. 2 completely upside down, securing her in that position and then moving her to her 'parking spot' behind the Framing Bay.  No. 3 is resting comfortably inside the Framing Bay, preparing for her big re-framing - but before that happens we have some work to do - which I'm hoping we can knock out this week.

First, we have to complete No. 2's move.  Just like moving No. 3, this involves winches, rollers, sledges, mallets, a big can of lard, a young priest, an old priest, a corn-fed harvest mouse, whips, chains, whistles, yo-yo's, a circus midget - Wait, are you crying?  I'm so sorry.

It's not an exact quote, but I'm sure some will figure it out.  After more than a year of having almost no readers who get my movie quotes - suddenly I have some connoseurs out there.  Hat tip, movie lovers.  But I digest.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Up to Richmond for the Navy's Birthday

Yesterday I had the incredible privilege to be guest speaker at the Richmond Council Navy League's annual Navy Birthday Luncheon.  Hosted at Willow Oaks Country Club in Richmond, the festivities included a number of Sailors from USS Carter Hall LSD-50, USS Normandy CG-60 and Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Richmond.  I felt truly fortunate to be able to address such distinguished company.

Of course, I was quite nervous - this was my first major speaking engagement.  True, I've been in board rooms and conferences pushing the Hornet Project, and I've even written a few published book reviews, but this was my first 'general audience' presentation.  Of course, my slides failed to load, the projector had an issue - everything on my end that could go wrong did.  But the leadership of the Richmond Council were so incredibly gracious and welcoming that it more than made up for my technical issues.

The presentation initially focused on the early Navy and its first iteration during the Revolutionary War - but pointed out that it was only a temporary measure; the ships were sold off or destroyed after the war and the Sailors disbanded.  Later, the permanent Navy built to fight Barbary pirates was severely cut back, largely in response to criticism that it was cheaper to buy off the pirates than to fight them.  The first realization of the peace and wartime benefits of a permanent naval force were brought out during the War of 1812, a bitter struggle fought in the midst of a tremendous recession with high unemployment, sharp political divides - much the same conditions we face today.  That led to a quick discussion about Hornet, and the need to connect to the heritage - not just the history - of the Navy.

I'll publish more a bit later, but for now, back to the grind.  But thanks again, Richmond Council, for the tremendous honor, a great event, and even better company!


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Remember USS COLE

Today marks the 11th anniversary of the attack on USS COLE.  The photo above was taken just over a month before the bombing.  The following is a list of the officers and crew killed in the attack:

Chief Petty Officer Richard Costelow, Morrisville, Pennsylvania.

Signalman Seaman Recruit Cheron Luis Gunn, Rex, Georgia.

Seaman James Rodrick McDaniels, Norfolk, Virginia.

Seaman Recruit Lakiba Nicole Palmer, San Diego, California.

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Timothy Lamont Saunders, Ringgold, Virginia.

Ensign Andrew Triplett, Macon, Mississippi.

Seaman Apprentice Craig Bryan Wibberley, Williamsport, Maryland.

Hull Maintenance Technician 3rd Class, Kenneth Eugene Clodfelter, Mechanicsville, Virginia.

Mess Management Specialist Seaman Lakeina Monique Francis, Woodleaf, North Carolina.

Information Systems Technician Seaman Timothy Lee Gauna, Rice, Texas

Engineman 2nd Class Mark Ian Nieto, Fond du Lac, Wisconsin.

Electronics Warfare Technician 3rd Class Ronald Scott Owens, Vero Beach, Florida.

Engineman Fireman Joshua Langdon Parlett, Churchville, Maryland.

Fireman Apprentice Patrick Howard Roy, Cornwall on Hudson, New York.

Electronics Warfare Technician 2nd Class Kevin Shawn Rux, Portland, North Dakota.

Mess Management Specialist 3rd Class Ronchester Mananga Santiago, Kingsville, Texas

Fireman Gary Graham Swenchonis Jr., Rockport, Texas

Rest in peace, all.

USS COLE continues today, her motto 'Determined Warrior', carrying out her nation's work.


A Navy Birthday Party - complete with costumed entertainment!

Navy Marks its 236th Birthday PORTSMOUTH - Chris Grimes adjusted his tall black top hat and picked up a shiny silver bone saw from the display table in front of him.

"This is my capital saw, for arms and legs," he explained. "And this smaller one is my metacarpal saw, for fingers and toes."

A doctor who was looking on - a real physician - grimaced.
"And the patients were awake for this?" he asked.
Grimes nodded. "Unless they'd passed out from shock."

The doctor shook his head. "A lot's changed," he said as he picked up an old, rigid metal catheter, probably used in the early 1800s.

Grimes was one of a handful of volunteer re-enactors who set up historical displays at Portsmouth Naval Medical Center on Tuesday as part of a celebration marking the 236th birthday of the U.S. Navy. The exhibits were supposed to be arranged outdoors at Hospital Point in front of the medical center's oldest building - the Navy's first hospital. Bad weather forced plans to change, so Grimes and the others instead set up inside, in patient waiting areas just down the hall from the hospital's modern-day operating rooms.
"Kind of a neat juxtaposition," one passerby remarked.

The Navy hosts a birthday celebration in Hampton Roads every year. Last year, it was held at Oceana Naval Air Station, and the year before aboard the battleship Wisconsin.

This year, organizers decided on a theme of Navy medicine, so Portsmouth Naval Medical Center, founded in 1830, seemed like a fitting venue. In addition to the historical exhibits, this year's celebration included a formal evening ceremony. In a speech before a room full of officers and dignitaries, including Gov. Bob McDonnell, Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., the head of Fleet Forces Command, said the re-enactors and their displays served as a reminder of just how much the Navy and Navy medicine have evolved.

Grimes, who's been posing for years as a 19th century Navy surgeon's mate, said he agrees - but only to an extent.

He pointed out a number of drugs on his display table that are still administered today, and then remarked that many of his tools are still in use as well; they've just been refined a bit.
"Actually," he said, "it's amazing how much is the same."


Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Monomoy Musical Chairs

This weekend, the Dockyard crew turned out to do a little shuffling of Monomoys 2 and 3.  Both boats are moving into winter quarters of sorts - so they'll be protected without constant attention (as last year, when we had to brush snow off of tents regularly).

Monomoy No. 3 is now in the Framing Bay - a move of some 88 feet over soft and uneven ground, four turns and a slide sideways - all while stabilized (the keel is carefully aligned and the hull shape preserved in a cradle).  Overall the whole assembly weighs about two tons, and we moved it the only way possible - slowly.  Now, I know what you're thinking - don't hurt yourself.  Yes, yes.  All possible safety measures were adopted - such as "the scamper" - a means of semi-rolling and crawling quickly away from a boat that is about to fall on you, or "the worry" - where you chant "no, no, no, no" with increasing quickness in a verbal effort to stop the boat from moving.  But I digest.

All in all, the techniques for moving something this heavy yet so fragile are relatively simple.  Just take the whole thing like a box of chocolates - and assume you never know what you're going to get until you get there.  Adopt, adapt and improve, sort of thing.  Or maybe we should just name No. 3 "Jenny".

Friday, October 7, 2011

On Steve Jobs

A little off topic this morning?  Maybe.  And I certainly don't want to jump on any bandwagons - I'm far too busy trying to drive a small one.  But as a guy who has never bought a mac or anything with an "i" in front of it, I'm oddly moved by the passing of a guy who is described as a "visionary" and "innovator".  This is a guy who made a real difference doing what he loved, and I've always been inspired by people like him.  And Steve himself was very quick to often point out - it wasn't about the money.  In his own words, “Being the richest man in the cemetery doesn’t matter to me … Going to bed at night saying we’ve done something wonderful… that’s what matters to me.”

Now I'm sure a few regular readers have just realized my connection to all of this - Hornet.  There are a few quotes of his that I think are also pretty pertinent:

"you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life."

"It's really hard to design products by focus groups. A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them."

"Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?"

So I'm taking some time today to think about Steve and his vision - between everything else that is tugging at me from every angle and all the things I'm pulling my own hair out over.  The chance to take a moment out and dig deep into an idea is a tremendous luxury we can all afford.


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Printing costs WHAT?

So we're finally at the point where we're starting to print new Hornet Project overviews and summaries.  The overview is just that- a short overview, while the summary is much more in depth.  The overview is 8 pages front and back with lots of pictures while the summary is about three times the length with far fewer images.  The team has spent weeks hammering these things together, fine tuning text and tweaking formats.  Now, with our proud little bundles of awesomeness ready to print, we've just recieved our cost estimates and every jaw just hit the floor.

For a single printing of the overview, our printer wants $17 each.  Now that's low quantity - things would get much cheaper with greater quantity, but OUCH.  I'm not even going to tell you what printing the summary costs.  And while I'm sure everyone out there is thinking "you're publishing for a multi-million dollar project, what is a few hundred for printing?" its always been our focus on the bottom line that keeps our productivity up and our donors happy.  Splurge? Yeah right.

Overall, we'll be keeping costs down by putting the materials online for YOU to download and print for yourself if you like.  But we still need hard copies for prospective donors, and for now, that's my biggest headache.


Tonight's working session at the Dockyard has been cancelled.  Working session this Saturday from 11 am to 4 pm.


Monday, October 3, 2011

A productive start to the week

The Hornet team is making a round of presentations this week to key influencers.  Our new promotional material is rolling out and we wanted to have a chance to put it out to a select group before it made it available to the public.  The first of these just wrapped up, having gone quite well.  To be honest, I'm a little excited that things went so smoothly, despite a few not-so-well-placed comments and reassurances that I didn't need to make.

No, I won't say who it was with.  But I will say that it was rather close to home, which made things all the more shaky for me.  For some reason I always feel more comfortable presenting to total strangers - and the meetings seem to run better.  I know I'm definately more astute in conversation when I know the person I'm talking to isn't looking right through me.  A good rule of thumb to follow - that I need to start paying more attention to - is when you get what you want shut up.  Oh well, live and learn.

But here I am going on about my own uneasiness and what you're really looking for is what's going on now.  The long and short of it is, things are moving in a positive direction, and we continue to make progress.  More will follow as things solidify, so stay posted.