Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Pacific Vortex: Edsel and more

pg 21

"Probably the price of a well-used Edsel."
The Edsel was an automobile manufactured by the Ford Motor Company during the 1958, 1959, and 1960 model years. The Edsel never gained popularity with contemporary American car buyers and sold poorly. Consequently, the Ford Motor Company lost millions of dollars on the Edsel's development, manufacture, and marketing. The name "Edsel" has since become synonymous with failure.

"What did Lord Nelson have to talk about?"
Dirk Pitt is talking to the daughter of an Admiral, who is expressing her disdain of her father by calling him "Lord Nelson."
Horatio Nelson, 1st Viscount Nelson, 1st Duke of Bronté, KB (29 September 1758 – 21 October 1805) was a flag officer famous for his service in the Royal Navy, particularly during the Napoleonic Wars. He was noted for his inspirational leadership and superb grasp of strategy and unconventional tactics, which resulted in a number of decisive naval victories. He was wounded several times in combat, losing one arm and the sight in one eye. Of his several victories, the best known and most notable was the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, during which he was shot and killed.

Nelson was born into a moderately prosperous Norfolk family and joined the navy through the influence of his uncle, Maurice Suckling. He rose rapidly through the ranks and served with leading naval commanders of the period before obtaining his own command in 1778. He developed a reputation in the service through his personal valour and firm grasp of tactics but suffered periods of illness and unemployment after the end of the American War of Independence. The outbreak of the French Revolutionary Wars allowed Nelson to return to service, where he was particularly active in the Mediterranean. He fought in several minor engagements off Toulon and was important in the capture of Corsica and subsequent diplomatic duties with the Italian states. In 1797, he distinguished himself while in command of HMS Captain at the Battle of Cape St Vincent.

Shortly after the battle, Nelson took part in the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, where his attack was defeated and he was badly wounded, losing his right arm, and was forced to return to England to recuperate. The following year, he won a decisive victory over the French at the Battle of the Nile and remained in the Mediterranean to support the Kingdom of Naples against a French invasion. In 1801, he was dispatched to the Baltic and won another victory, this time over the Danes at the Battle of Copenhagen. He subsequently commanded the blockade of the French and Spanish fleets at Toulon and, after their escape, chased them to the West Indies and back but failed to bring them to battle.

After a brief return to England, he took over the Cádiz blockade in 1805. On 21 October 1805, the Franco-Spanish fleet came out of port, and Nelson's fleet engaged them at the Battle of Trafalgar. The battle was Britain's greatest naval victory, but during the action Nelson was fatally wounded by a French sniper. His body was brought back to England where he was accorded a state funeral.

Nelson's death at Trafalgar secured his position as one of Britain's most heroic figures; numerous monuments, including Nelson's Column in Trafalgar Square, London, have been created in his memory and his legacy remains highly influential.

"A Brandy Alexander for the lady."
Brandy Alexander is a sweet, brandy-based cocktail consisting of cognac and crème de cacao that became popular during the early 20th century.

It was supposedly created at the time of the wedding of Princess Mary and Viscount Lascelles, in London, in 1922. Although commonly thought to be named after the drama critic/celebrity Alexander Woollcott, the drink is believed to have been named after the tsar, Alexander II of Russia.

"Dad was a will-o-the-wisp."
A will-o'-the-wisp or ignis fatuus ("foolish fire"), also called a "will-o'-wisp", "jack-o'-lantern" (or "jack-o'-the-lantern"), "hinkypunk", "corpse candle", "ghost-light", "spook-light", "fairy light", "friar's lantern", "hobby lantern", "ghost orb", or simply "wisp", is a ghostly light or lights sometimes seen at night or twilight over bogs, swamps, and marshes. It resembles a flickering lamp and is sometimes said to recede if approached. Much traditional, non-scientific belief surrounds the phenomenon, giving rise to the wide variety of names.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Spartan Gold: Bordeau wine and more

pg 33

Once they were seated they took a few minutes to peruse the wine list, settling on a Bordeaux from the French region of Barsac.
A Bordeaux wine is any wine produced in the Bordeaux region of France. Average vintages produce over 700 million bottles of Bordeaux wine, ranging from large quantities of everyday table wine, to some of the most expensive and prestigious wines in the world. 89% of wine produced in Bordeaux is red (called "claret" in Britain), with notable sweet white wines such as Chateau d'Yquem, dry whites, rosé and sparkling wines (Crémant de Bordeaux) all making up the remainder. Bordeaux wine is made by more than 8,500 producers or châteaux. There are 60 appellations of Bordeaux wine.

Barsac is a commune on the left bank of the Garonne river in the Gironde department in southwestern France.

The town gives its name to a wine making appellation, Barsac AOC, that produces sweet white wines.

The town and its vineyards are separated from the area of Sauternes to the south by the Ciron river, whose cooling effect is of key importance in encouraging the annual action of the Botrytis fungus on the Sémillon grapes. The area is marginally flatter than its neighbor and its wines are considered to be marginally lighter. The area is however permitted to use the Sauternes appellation.

Producers from the area include the First Growths Château Climens, and Château Coutet.

After finishing her degree at Georgetown
Georgetown University is a private, Jesuit, research university whose main campus is in the Georgetown neighborhood of Washington, D.C. Founded in 1789, it is the oldest Catholic university in the United States. Georgetown administers 180 academic programs in four undergraduate and three graduate and professional schools, and the programs in international affairs and law are particularly selective and well regarded. In addition to its main campus, renowned for the neo-Romanesque Healy Hall, Georgetown operates a law center on Capitol Hill, as well as auxiliary campuses in Italy, Turkey, and Qatar.

Georgetown's founding by John Carroll realized efforts dating from 1634 to establish a Roman Catholic college in the province of Maryland. Georgetown expanded into a branched university after the American Civil War during the presidency of Patrick Francis Healy, who was born a slave by law. Georgetown celebrates its religious heritage, which includes Jesuit involvement since 1805, but the university has always been governed independently of church authorities and of the Society of Jesus.

The university has around 7,000 undergraduate and over 8,000 post-graduate students from a wide variety of religious, ethnic, and geographic backgrounds. Georgetown's main campus is home to dozens of student groups, including the oldest student theater group and the largest student-run business in the United States.

Georgetown's most notable alumni have served in leadership positions in government in the United States and abroad; among them are former U.S. President Bill Clinton, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, and the heads of state or government of more than a dozen countries.

She went to work for the Library of Congress's Special Collections Directorate.
The Library of Congress is the research library of the United States Congress, de facto national library of the United States, and the oldest federal cultural institution in the United States. Located in three buildings in Washington, D.C., it is the largest library in the world by shelf space and number of books. The head of the Library is the Librarian of Congress, currently James H. Billington.

The Library of Congress was built for Congress in 1800, and was housed in the United States Capitol for most of the 19th century. After much of the original collection had been destroyed during the War of 1812, Thomas Jefferson sold 6,487 books, his entire personal collection, to the library in 1815. After a period of decline during the mid-19th century the Library of Congress began to grow rapidly in both size and importance after the American Civil War, culminating in the construction of a separate library building and the transference of all copyright deposit holdings to the Library. During the rapid expansion of the 20th century the Library of Congress assumed a preeminent public role, becoming a "library of last resort" and expanding its mission for the benefit of scholars and the American people.

The Library's primary mission is researching inquiries made by members of Congress through the Congressional Research Service. Although it is open to the public, only Members of Congress, Supreme Court justices and other high-ranking government officials may check out books. As the de facto national library, the Library of Congress promotejavascript:void(0)s literacy and American literature through projects such as the American Folklife Center, American Memory, Center for the Book and Poet Laureate.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Pacific Vortex: the Thresher, the Bluefin, the Scorpion

pg 19

"Most mysteries have a way of eventually getting solved. The Thresher, the Bluefin, the Scorpion - the Navy never gave up until everyone was found."

The Thresher
The second USS Thresher (SSN-593) was the lead ship of her class of nuclear-powered attack submarines in the United States Navy. Her loss at sea during deep-diving tests in 1963 is often considered a watershed event in the implementation of the rigorous submarine safety program SUBSAFE.

The contract to build Thresher was awarded to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on 15 January 1958, and her keel was laid on 28 May 1958. She was launched on 9 July 1960, was sponsored by Mrs. Frederick B. Warder (wife of the famous Pacific War skipper), and was commissioned on 3 August 1961, Commander Dean L. Axene commanding

Early career
Thresher conducted lengthy sea trials in the western Atlantic and Caribbean Sea areas in 1961–1962. These tests provided a thorough evaluation of her many new and complex technological features and weapons. She took part in Nuclear Submarine Exercise (NUSUBEX) 3–61 off the northeastern coast of the United States from 18–24 September 1961.

On 18 October, Thresher headed south along the East Coast. While in port at San Juan, Puerto Rico on 2 November 1961, her reactor was shut down and the diesel generator was used to carry the "hotel" electrical loads. Several hours later the generator broke down, and the electrical load was then carried by the battery. The generator could not be quickly repaired, so the captain ordered the reactor restarted. However, the battery charge was depleted before the reactor went critical. With no electrical power for ventilation, temperatures in the machinery spaces reached 60 °C (140 °F), and the boat was partially evacuated. Cavalla arrived the next morning and provided power from her diesels, enabling Thresher to restart her reactor.

Thresher conducted further trials and fired test torpedoes before returning to Portsmouth on 29 November. The boat remained in port through the end of the year, and spent the first two months of 1962 evaluating her sonar and Submarine Rocket (SUBROC) systems. In March, the submarine participated in NUSUBEX 2–62 (an exercise designed to improve the tactical capabilities of nuclear submarines) and in antisubmarine warfare training with Task Group ALPHA.

Off Charleston, SC, Thresher undertook operations observed by the Naval Antisubmarine Warfare Council before she returned briefly to New England waters, after which she proceeded to Florida for more SUBROC tests. However, while moored at Port Canaveral, Florida, the submarine was accidentally struck by a tug which damaged one of her ballast tanks. After repairs at Groton, Connecticut, by the Electric Boat Company, Thresher went south for more tests and trials off Key West, Florida, then returned northward and remained in dockyard for refurbishment through the early spring of 1963.

On 9 April 1963, after the completion of this work, Thresher, now commanded by Lieutenant Commander John Wesley Harvey, began post-overhaul trials. Accompanied by the submarine rescue ship Skylark, she sailed to an area some 190 nmi (220 mi; 350 km) east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, and on the morning of 10 April started deep-diving tests. As Thresher neared her test depth, Skylark received garbled communications over underwater telephone indicating "... minor difficulties, have positive up-angle, attempting to blow." When Skylark received no further communication, surface observers gradually realized Thresher had sunk. Publicly it took some days to announce that all 129 officers, crewmen, and military and civilian technicians aboard were presumed dead.

After an extensive underwater search using the bathyscaphe Trieste, oceanographic ship Mizar and other ships, Thresher's remains were located on the sea floor, some 8,400 ft (2,600 m) below the surface, in six major sections. The majority of the debris had spread over an area of about 134,000 m2 (160,000 sq yd). The major sections were the sail, sonar dome, bow section, engineering spaces section, operations spaces section, and the stern planes.

Deep sea photography, recovered artifacts, and an evaluation of her design and operational history permitted a Court of Inquiry to conclude Thresher had probably suffered the failure of a joint in a salt water piping system, which relied heavily on silver brazing instead of welding; earlier tests using ultrasound equipment found potential problems with about 14% of the tested brazed joints, most of which were determined not to pose a risk significant enough to require a repair. High-pressure water spraying from a broken pipe joint may have shorted out one of the many electrical panels, which in turn caused a shutdown ("scram") of the reactor, with a subsequent loss of propulsion. The inability to blow the ballast tanks was later attributed to excessive moisture in the ship's high-pressure air flasks, which froze and plugged the flasks' flowpaths while passing through the valves.

This was later simulated in dock-side tests on Thresher's sister ship, Tinosa. During a test to simulate blowing ballast at or near test depth, ice formed on strainers installed in valves; the flow of air lasted only a few seconds. Air driers were later retrofitted to the high pressure air compressors, beginning with Tinosa, to permit the emergency blow system to operate properly.

Unlike diesel submarines, nuclear submarines rely on speed and deck angle rather than deballasting to surface; they are "driven" at an angle towards the surface. Ballast tanks were almost never blown at depth, and to do so could cause the ship to rocket to the surface out of control. Normal procedure was to drive the ship to periscope depth, raise the periscope to verify the area was clear, then blow the tanks and surface the ship.

At the time, reactor-plant operating procedures precluded a rapid reactor restart following a scram, or even the ability to use steam remaining in the secondary system to "drive" the ship to the surface. After a scram, standard procedure was to isolate the main steam system, cutting off the flow of steam to the turbines providing propulsion and electricity. This was done to prevent an over-rapid cool-down of the reactor.

Thresher's Reactor Control Officer, Lieutenant Raymond McCoole, was not at his station in the maneuvering room, or indeed on the ship, during the fatal dive. McCoole was at home caring for his wife who had been injured in a household accident—he had been all but ordered ashore by a sympathetic Commander Harvey. McCoole's trainee, Jim Henry, fresh from nuclear power school, probably followed standard operating procedures and gave the order to isolate the steam system after the scram, even though Thresher was at or slightly below her maximum depth and was taking on water.

Once closed, the large steam system isolation valves could not be reopened quickly. Reflecting on the situation in later life, McCoole was sure he would have delayed shutting the valves, thus allowing the ship to "answer bells" and drive herself to the surface, despite the flooding in the engineering spaces. Admiral Rickover later changed the procedure, allowing steam to be withdrawn from the secondary system in limited quantities for several minutes following a scram.

In a dockside simulation of flooding in the engine room, held before Thresher sailed, it took the watch in charge 20 minutes to isolate a simulated leak in the auxiliary seawater system. At test depth, taking on water, and with the reactor shut down, Thresher would not have had 20 minutes to recover. Even after isolating a short-circuit in the reactor controls it would have taken nearly 10 minutes to restart the plant.

Thresher likely imploded at a depth of 1,300–2,000 ft (400–610 m).

The Navy has periodically monitored the environmental conditions of the site since the sinking and has reported the results in an annual public report on environmental monitoring for U.S. Naval nuclear-powered ships. These reports provide specifics on the environmental sampling of sediment, water, and marine life which were taken to ascertain whether Thresher's nuclear reactor has had a significant effect on the deep ocean environment. The reports also explain the methodology for conducting deep sea monitoring from both surface vessels and submersibles. The monitoring data confirms that there has been no significant effect on the environment. Nuclear fuel in the submarine remains intact.

According to newly declassified information, the Navy sent Commander (Dr.) Robert Ballard, the oceanographer credited for the successful search for the wreck of RMS Titanic, on a secret mission to map and collect visual data on both Thresher and Scorpion wrecks.

The Navy used Ballard's search for Titanic as a screen to hide the mission. Ballard approached the Navy in 1982 for funding to find Titanic with his new deep-diving robot submersible. The Navy saw the opportunity and granted him the money on the condition he first inspect the two submarine wrecks. Ballard's robotic survey discovered that Thresher had sunk so deep it imploded, turning into thousands of pieces. The only recoverable piece was a foot of marled pipe.

His 1985 search for Scorpion, which was thought to be a victim of a Soviet attack, revealed such a large debris field that it looked "as though it had been put through a shredding machine." Once the two wrecks had been visited, and the radioactive threat from both was established as small, Ballard was able to search for Titanic. Due to dwindling funds, he had just 12 days to do so, but he used the same debris-field search techniques he had used for the two subs, which worked, and Titanic was found.

U.S. submarine classes are generally known by the hull number of the lead ship of the class–for instance, Los Angeles-class boats are called "688s" because the hull number of USS Los Angeles was SSN-688. The Thresher-class boats should thus be called "593s", but since Thresher's sinking they have been referred to as "594s" (Permit class).

The Bluefin
There has never been a sub named the Bluefin

USS Scorpion
USS Scorpion (SSN-589) was a Skipjack-class nuclear submarine of the United States Navy, and the sixth ship of the U.S. Navy to carry that name. Scorpion was declared lost on 5 June 1968 with 99 crew members dying in the incident. The USS Scorpion is one of two nuclear submarines the U.S. Navy has lost, the other being USS Thresher (SSN-593), which sank on 10 April 1963 off the coast of New England.

Service historyScorpion's keel was laid down on 20 August 1958 by the Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics Corporation in Groton, Connecticut. She was launched on 19 December 1959, sponsored by Mrs. Elizabeth S. Morrison (daughter of the last commander of the World War II-era USS Scorpion, which had been lost with all hands in 1944), and commissioned on 29 July 1960, Commander Norman B. Bessac in command.

[edit] 1960–1967Assigned to Submarine Squadron 6, Division 62, Scorpion departed New London, Connecticut, on 24 August for a two-month deployment in European waters. During that period, she participated in exercises with units of the 6th Fleet and of other NATO navies. After returning to New England in late October, she trained along the eastern seaboard until May 1961, then crossed the Atlantic again for operations which took her into the summer. On 9 August 1961, she returned to New London, and, a month later, shifted to Norfolk, Virginia. In 1962, she earned the Navy Unit Commendation.

With Norfolk her home port for the remainder of her career, Scorpion specialized in the development of nuclear submarine warfare tactics. Varying her role from hunter to hunted, she participated in exercises which ranged along the Atlantic coast and in the Bermuda and Puerto Rico operating areas; then, from June 1963 – May 1964, she interrupted her operations for an overhaul at Charleston, South Carolina. Resuming duty off the eastern seaboard in late spring, she again interrupted that duty from 4 August-8 October to make a transatlantic patrol. In the spring of 1965, she conducted a similar patrol in European waters.

During the late winter and early spring of 1966, and again in the autumn, she was deployed for special operations. Following the completion of those assignments, her commanding officer received the Navy Commendation Medal for outstanding leadership, foresight, and professional skill. Other Scorpion officers and crewmen were cited for meritorious achievement. Scorpion is reputed to have entered an inland Russian sea during a "Northern Run" in 1966 where it successfully filmed a Soviet missile launch through its periscope before being forced to use its high speed to flee Soviet Navy ships. Scorpion had a reputation for excellence and as a fast attack submarine it was a plum assignment for officers seeking to move up in a Navy in which submarine officers were gaining increasing clout.

[edit] OverhaulOn 1 February 1967, Scorpion entered the Norfolk Naval Shipyard for another extended overhaul. However, instead of the much-needed complete overhaul, she received only emergency repairs to get her back on duty as soon as possible. Operational pressures and complex and unforeseen problems created by the Submarine Safety Program (SUBSAFE) that was initiated after the 1963 loss of Thresher, meant that submarine overhauls went from nine months in length to 36 months. Intensive vetting of submarine component quality required by the SUBSAFE program coupled with various improvements and intensified structural inspections–particularly hull welding inspections using ultrasonic testing–were issues that reduced the availability of critical parts such as seawater piping. Cold War pressures prompted U.S. Submarine Fleet Atlantic (SUBLANT) officers to hunt for ways to reduce overhaul durations. The cost of that last overhaul was nearly one-seventh of those given other nuclear submarines at the same time. This was the result of concerns about the "high percentage of time offline" of nuclear attack submarines which was estimated to be at about 40% of total available duty time.

As Scorpion's original "full overhaul" was whittled down in scope, it was decided it would not receive long-overdue SUBSAFE work. Scorpion would not receive a new, central valve control system; in the event of an emergency, her crew would have to scramble around the engine room to find and manually operate large valves. Crucially, Scorpion would not receive a fix for the same emergency system that did not work on Thresher, the submarine whose loss was the reason for the existence of the SUBSAFE program. On that ship a pipe leak at depth prompted an emergency shutdown of the submarine's nuclear reactor; powerless, Thresher could still have surfaced if the Emergency Main Ballast Tank blow system worked. It did not. (Later, dockside tests on Thresher's sister ship Tinosa proved that the EMBT system did not work at test depth; moisture in the high-pressure air flasks froze in in-line strainers as the ballast tanks were blown.) Following a dispute between Charleston Naval Ship Yard, which claimed the EMBT system worked as-is, and SUBLANT, which claimed it did not, the EMBT was "tagged out" or listed as unusable. The aforementioned problems with overhaul duration, that saw Scorpion selected for a reduced experimental overhaul program, also caused all SUBSAFE work to be delayed as well during 1967.

The reduced overhaul concept Scorpion went through had been approved by the Chief of Naval Operations on 17 June 1966. On 20 July, the CNO also allowed deferral of the SUBSAFE extensions, which had otherwise been deemed essential since 1963.

During Scorpion's last six months of operational life, at least two sailors, Electrician's Mate Second Class Daniel Rogers and Radioman Chief Daniel Pettey, struggled to be released from duty aboard Scorpion due to the bad morale problems they witnessed. Rogers sought disqualification from submarine duty–which was then allowed–while Pettey attempted to transfer to the U.S. Army only to be released from Scorpion while in the Mediterranean just months before it was lost.

In late October 1967, Scorpion started refresher training and weapons system acceptance tests, and was given a new Commanding Officer, Francis Slattery. Following type training out of Norfolk, Virginia, she got underway on 15 February 1968 for a Mediterranean Sea deployment. She operated with the 6th Fleet into May and then headed west for home. Scorpion suffered several mechanical malfunctions including a chronic problem with Freon leakage from refrigeration systems. An electrical fire occurred in an escape trunk when a water leak shorted out a shore power connection.

Upon departing the Mediterranean on 16 May, two men departed Scorpion at Rota, Spain. One man left due to a family emergency, while the other, PO1 Joseph Underwood departed for health reasons. Scorpion was then detailed to observe Soviet naval activities in the Atlantic in the vicinity of the Azores. With this completed, Scorpion prepared to head back to Naval Base Norfolk.

For an unusually long period of time, beginning shortly before midnight on 20 May and ending after midnight 21 May, Scorpion was attempting to send radio traffic to Naval Station Rota in Spain but was only able to reach a Navy communications station in Nea Makri, Greece, which forwarded Scorpion's messages to SUBLANT. Six days later, she was reported overdue at Norfolk. Navy personnel suspected possible failure and launched a search.

The search
A public search was initiated, but without immediate success and on 5 June, Scorpion and her crew were declared "presumed lost." Her name was struck from the Naval Vessel Register on 30 June. Some recent reports now indicate that a large and secret search was launched three days before Scorpion was expected back from patrol; this combined with other declassified information led many to speculate the US Navy knew of the Scorpion's destruction before the public search was launched.

The public search continued with a team of mathematical consultants led by Dr. John Craven, the Chief Scientist of the U.S. Navy's Special Projects Division. They employed the methods of Bayesian search theory, initially developed during the search for a hydrogen bomb lost off the coast of Palomares, Spain in January 1966 in the Palomares B-52 crash.

At the end of October, the Navy's oceanographic research ship, Mizar, located sections of the hull of Scorpion in more than 3,000 m (9,800 ft) of water about 740 km (400 nmi; 460 mi) southwest of the Azores. This was after the Navy had released sound tapes from its underwater "SOSUS" listening system which contained the sounds of the destruction of Scorpion. Subsequently, the Court of Inquiry was reconvened, and other vessels, including the bathyscaphe Trieste II, were dispatched to the scene, collecting many pictures and other data.

Although Dr. Craven received much credit for locating the wreckage of Scorpion, Gordon Hamilton—an acoustics expert who pioneered the use of hydroacoustics to pinpoint Polaris missile splashdown locations—was instrumental not only in acquiring the acoustic signals that were used in locating the vessel, but also in analyzing those signals to provide a compact "search box" wherein the wreck of Scorpion was finally located.

Hamilton had established a listening station in the Canary Islands, which obtained a clear signal of what some scientists believe was the noise of the vessel's pressure hull imploding as she passed below crush depth. A little-known Naval Research Laboratory scientist named Chester "Buck" Buchanan, using a towed camera sled of his own design aboard Mizar, finally located Scorpion after nearly six months of searching. The towed camera sled, which was fabricated by J.L. "Jac" Hamm of Naval Research Laboratory's Engineering Services Division, is currently housed in the U.S. Navy Museum, Washington Navy Yard, Washington, DC. (Buchanan had located the wrecked hull of Thresher in 1964 using this same technique.)

It would appear that the bow of Scorpion skidded upon impact with the globigerina ooze on the seafloor, digging a sizable trench which created a significant hazard for the Trieste II crews attempting to maneuver close to acquire photographs and assess the wreckage with their own eyes. Much of the operations compartment had disappeared, and most of the debris field was identified as coming from the operations compartment. The sail had been dislodged as the hull of the operations compartment upon which it perched disintegrated, and was lying on its port side. One of Scorpion's running lights was locked in the open position as if it had been on the surface at the time of the mishap, although it may have been left in the open position during the vessel's recent nighttime stop at Rota. One Trieste II pilot who dived on Scorpion said the shock of the implosion may have knocked the light into the open position.

The aft section appeared to have skidded sideways on impact, since it was less hydrodynamically efficient than the bullet-shaped torpedo room, which investigators believed would have developed a greater downward velocity. The aft section of the engine room had telescoped forward into the larger-diameter hull section.

Observed damage
The secondary Navy investigation–using extensive photographic, video and eyewitness inspections of the wreckage in 1969–offered the opinion that Scorpion's hull was smashed by implosion forces as it sank below crush depth. The Structural Analysis Group, which included Naval Ships Systems Command's Submarine Structures director Peter Palermo, plainly saw that the torpedo room was intact, though it had been pinched from the operations compartment by massive hydrostatic pressure. The operations compartment itself was largely obliterated by sea pressure and the engine room had telescoped 50 ft (15 m) forward into the hull by collapse pressure, when the cone-to-cylinder transition junction failed between the auxiliary machine space and the engine room.

The only damage to the torpedo room compartment appeared to be a hatch missing from the forward escape trunk; Palermo pointed out that this would have occurred when water pressure entered the torpedo room at the moment of implosion. He also pointed out that the aft escape trunk hatch was sprung open and appeared twisted, though it was still on its hinges. This conclusion was drawn by Palermo eighteen years after Scorpion was lost, when he reviewed new and extremely clear images taken by Jason Junior and Alvin as part of a Navy-Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution survey of Scorpion's wreck site.

Palermo could not rule out sabotage or collision as "plausible" causes of destruction. Palermo writes that the position of the masts and other evidence possibly indicate Scorpion was near the surface "just prior to sinking." Palermo admits that a precursor signal that occurred some 22 minutes prior to the acoustic train left by the sinking "could have been the results of an internal explosion." He further states that "some of the remaining 14 acoustic events do have some of the characteristics of explosions", though he qualifies this by writing that such characteristics "may" also be attributed to other sources.

Acoustic evidence
An extensive, year-long analysis of Gordon Hamilton's hydroacoustic signals of the submarine's demise was conducted by Robert Price, Ermine (Meri) Christian and Peter Sherman of the Naval Ordnance Laboratory. All three physicists were experts on undersea explosions, their sound signatures and destructive effects. Price was also an open critic of Dr. Craven. Their opinion, presented to the Navy as part of the Phase II investigation, was that the death noises likely occurred at 2,000 ft (610 m) when the hull failed.

Fragments then continued in a freefall for another 9,000 ft (2,700 m). This appears to differ with conclusions drawn by Dr. Craven and Hamilton, who pursued an independent set of experiments as part of the same Phase II probe, demonstrating that alternate interpretations of the hydroacoustic signals were possibly based on the submarine's depth at the time it was stricken and other operational conditions. Though the Structural Analysis Group (SAG) findings argue an explosive event is unlikely, and are highly dismissive of Craven and Hamilton's tests, they failed to present information that ruled out an explosive event.

The 1970 Naval Ordnance "Letter", the intensive acoustics study of Scorpion destruction sounds by Price and Christian, was a supporting study within the SAG report. In its Conclusions and Recommendations section, the NOL acoustic study states:

The first SCORPION acoustic event was not caused by a large explosion, either internal or external to the hull. The probable depth of occurrence...and the spectral characteristics of the signal support this. In fact, it is unlikely that any of the Scorpion acoustic events were caused by explosions.

The Naval Ordnance Laboratory based much of its findings on an extensive acoustic analysis of the torpedoing and sinking of Sterlet in the Pacific in early 1969, seeking to compare its acoustic signals to those generated by Scorpion.

Price, a critic of Craven and Hamilton's analysis of the sounds emitted by Scorpion, found the Navy's scheduled sinking of Sterlet fortuitous. Nonetheless, Sterlet was a small World War II-era diesel-electric submarine of a vastly different design and construction from Scorpion with regard to its pressure hull and other characteristics. Its sinking resulted in three identifiable acoustic signals as compared to Scorpion's 15, something Price could not adequately explain. The mathematical calculations Price used to arrive at his analysis–and dispute some of Craven and Hamilton's conclusions–remain unknown to the public.

When completed, the NOL acoustics study of Sterlet and Scorpion sinking sounds provided a highly debated explanation as to how Scorpion may have reached its crush depth by anecdotally referring to the uncontrolled and nearly fatal dive of the diesel submarine Chopper in January 1969:

Piecing together all the information (or suggestions) we can glean from the analysis of the hydroacoustic data, the photographs of the wreckage of SCORPION and THRESHER, and the results of the STERLET acoustic measurements, we believe the sequence of occurrences outlined below is a plausible description of what might have happened when Scorpion sank. 6.1 (Redacted) SOME UNKNOWN INCIDENT OR CHAIN OF INCIDENTS CAUSED THE SCORPION TO SINK OUT OF CONTROL. The February 1969 USS Chopper (SS-342) mishap is an example of loss of electrical power in a submarine. It was followed by corrective action, initiation of which was delayed almost to the fatal limit by a combination of failures. Fortunately the plunge of the ship towards the bottom was halted (redacted) just before the hull reached collapse depth and the ship was able to surface, though not under control and with some damage caused by excessive pressure.

In the same May, 2003 N77 letter excerpted above, however, the following statement appears to dismiss the NOL theory, and again unequivocally point the finger toward an explosion forward:

The Navy has extensively investigated the loss of Scorpion through the initial court of inquiry and the 1970 and 1987 reviews by the Structural Analysis Group. Nothing in those investigations caused the Navy to change its conclusion that an unexplained catastrophic event occurred.

At the time of her sinking, there were 99 crewmen aboard Scorpion. The boat contained a treasure-trove of highly sophisticated spy gear and spy manuals, two nuclear-tipped torpedoes, and a nuclear propulsion system. The best available evidence indicates that Scorpion sank in the Atlantic Ocean on 22 May 1968 at approximately 1844Z while in transit across the Atlantic Ocean from Gibraltar to her home port at Norfolk, Virginia.

Several hypotheses about the cause of the loss have been advanced. Some have suggested that hostile action by a Soviet submarine caused Scorpion's loss. Shortly after her sinking, the Navy assembled a Court of Inquiry to investigate the incident and to publish a report about the likely causes for the sinking. The court was presided over by Vice Admiral Bernard Austin who presided over the inquiry into the loss of Thresher. The panel's conclusions, first printed in 1968, were largely classified.

At the time, the Navy quoted frequently from a portion of the 1968 report that said no one is likely ever to "conclusively" determine the cause of the loss. The Clinton Administration declassified most of this report in 1993, and it was then that the public first learned that the panel considered that a possible cause of the malfunction was one of Scorpion's own torpedoes. (The panel qualified its opinion saying the evidence it had available could not lead to a conclusive finding about the cause of her sinking.) However, the Court of Inquiry did not reconvene after the 1969 Phase II investigation, and did not take testimony from a group of submarine designers, engineers and physicists who spent nearly a year evaluating the data.

Present location
Today, the wreck of Scorpion is reported to be resting on a sandy seabed at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean in approximately 3,000 m (9,800 ft) of water. The site is reported to be approximately 400 nmi (740 km) southwest of the Azores Islands, on the eastern edge of the Sargasso Sea. The U.S. Navy has acknowledged that it periodically visits the site to conduct testing for the release of nuclear materials from the nuclear reactor or the two nuclear weapons aboard her, and to determine whether the wreckage has been disturbed. The Navy has not released any information about the status of the wreckage, except for a few photographs taken of the wreckage in 1968, and again in 1985 by deep water submersibles.

The Navy has also released information about the nuclear testing performed in and around the Scorpion site. The Navy reports no significant release of nuclear material from the sub. The 1985 photos were taken by a team of oceanographers working for the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. The circumstances of the Woods Hole mission show the high level of secrecy the Navy attaches to Scorpion; at the time the photographs were taken, the Navy and Woods Hole both maintained that the Woods Hole team was searching for the wreckage of the sunken ocean liner, Titanic. It was only after newspapers learned and reported that the Woods Hole team was also searching for Scorpion that the Navy admitted as much, and released some of the photographs taken during the expedition.

Environmental monitoring
The U.S. Navy has periodically monitored the environmental conditions of the site since the sinking and has reported the results in an annual public report on environmental monitoring for U.S. nuclear-powered ships and boats. The reports provide specifics on the environmental sampling of sediment, water, and marine life that is done to ascertain whether the submarine has significantly affected the deep-ocean environment. The reports also explain the methodology for conducting this deep sea monitoring from both surface vessels and submersibles. The monitoring data confirm that there has been no significant effect on the environment. The nuclear fuel aboard the submarine remains intact and no uranium in excess of levels expected from the fallout from past atmospheric testing of nuclear weapons has been detected by the Navy's inspections.

In addition, Scorpion carried two nuclear-tipped Mark 45 anti-submarine torpedoes (ASTOR) when she was lost. The warheads of these torpedoes are part of the environmental concern. The most likely scenario is that the plutonium and uranium cores of these weapons corroded to a heavy, insoluble material soon after the sinking, and they remain at or close to their original location inside the torpedo room of the boat. If the corroded materials were released outside the submarine, their large specific gravity and insolubility would cause them to settle down into the sediment.

Theories about the loss
The cause of her loss, to date, has not been fully confirmed by the USN and various possibilities have been raised.

Accidental activation of torpedo
The US Navy's Court of Inquiry listed as one possibility the inadvertent activation of a battery-powered Mark 37 torpedo. This acoustic homing torpedo, in a fully ready condition and without a propeller guard, is believed by some to have started running within the tube. Released from the tube, the torpedo then somehow became fully armed and successfully engaged its nearest target—Scorpion herself. This is considered highly unlikely due to the fact that Scorpion would have maintained the ability to destroy the weapon before it reengaged. Although much has been made of claims by Dr. Craven that the SOSUS network tracked the submarine moving back onto its original course, which would be consistent with performing a 180° turn in an attempt to activate a torpedo's safety systems, Gordon Hamilton has said that the acoustical data is too garbled to reveal any such details.

Another problem with the torpedo theory is that numerous safeguards are in place that would enable the torpedomen to disable the warhead if it were launched and its anti-circular run switch also failed, allowing it to strike its mother ship without detonating, in which case the weapon would thud harmlessly off the hull. Few torpedomen familiar with the Mark 37 have expressed confidence in the self-destruction-by-torpedo theory.

In Silent Steel, Fountain reveals he does not believe Scorpion was sunk by her own torpedo, and during the Court of Inquiry, physicists and engineers who carried out the simulations demanded by Dr. Craven testified that the massively complex simulations, using the crude computing power of the day, were of little value since they were so speculative. This testimony brought a rebuke from the court's members who were sufficiently persuaded by Craven's theories to list them foremost above all others. What has become apparent is that many investigators, even according to a Navy history of the investigation, were upset by Craven's devotion to his hot-running torpedo theory.

Explosion of torpedo
A later theory was that a torpedo may have exploded in the tube, caused by an uncontrollable fire in the torpedo room. The book Blind Man's Bluff documents findings and investigation by Dr. John Craven, who surmised that a likely cause could have been the overheating of a faulty battery. (Dr. Craven later stated in the book Silent Steel that he was misquoted.) The Mark 46 silver-zinc battery used in the Mark 37 torpedo had a tendency to overheat, and in extreme cases could cause a fire that was strong enough to cause a low-order detonation of the warhead. If such a detonation had occurred, it might have opened the boat's large torpedo-loading hatch and caused Scorpion to flood and sink. However, while Mark 46 batteries have been known to generate so much heat that the torpedo casings blistered, none is known to have damaged a boat or caused an explosion.

Dr. John Craven mentions that he did not work on the Mark 37 torpedo's propulsion system and only became aware of the possibility of a battery explosion twenty years after the loss of Scorpion. In his book The Silent War, he recounts running a simulation with former Scorpion Executive officer Lieutenant Commander Robert Fountain, Jr. commanding the simulator. Fountain was told he was headed home at 18 knots (33 km/h) at a depth of his choice, then there was an alarm of "hot running torpedo". Fountain responded with "right full rudder", a quick turn that would activate a safety device and keep the torpedo from arming.

Then an explosion in the torpedo room was introduced into the simulation. Fountain ordered emergency procedures to surface the boat, stated Dr. Craven, "but instead she continued to plummet, reaching collapse depth and imploding in ninety seconds—one second shy of the acoustic record of the actual event."

Craven, who was the Chief Scientist of the Navy's Special Projects Office, which had management responsibility for the design, development, construction, operational test and evaluation and maintenance of the UGM-27 Polaris Fleet Missile System–at the time of Scorpion's sinking the most technically advanced military system ever deployed–had long believed Scorpion was struck by her own torpedo, but revised his views during the mid-1990s when engineers testing Mark 46 batteries at Keyport, Washington, said the batteries leaked electrolyte and sometimes burned while outside of their casings during lifetime shock, heat and cold testing. Although the battery manufacturer was accused of building bad batteries, it was later able to successfully prove its batteries were no more prone to failure than those made by other manufacturers. In fact, the batteries suspected of being unreliable were manufactured too late to have been installed in Scorpion's torpedoes.

Malfunction of trash disposal unit
During the 1968 inquiry, Vice Admiral Arnold F. Shade testified that he believed that a malfunction of the trash disposal unit (TDU) was the trigger for the disaster. Shade theorized that the sub was flooded when the TDU was operated at periscope depth and that other subsequent failures of material or personnel while dealing with the TDU-induced flooding led to the sub's demise.

US Navy conclusions
The results of the U.S. Navy's various investigations into the loss of Scorpion are inconclusive. While the Court of Inquiry never endorsed Dr. Craven's torpedo theory regarding the loss of Scorpion, its Findings of Facts released in 1993 carried Craven's torpedo theory at the head of a list of possible causes of Scorpion's loss.

The Navy failed to inform the public that both the U.S. Submarine Force Atlantic and the Commander-in-Chief U.S. Atlantic Fleet opposed Craven's torpedo theory as unfounded and also failed to disclose that a second technical investigation into the loss of Scorpion completed in 1970 actually repudiated claims that a torpedo detonation played a role in the loss of the submarine.

Despite the second technical investigation, the Navy continues to attach strong credence to Craven's view that an explosion destroyed her, as is evidenced by this excerpt from a May 2003 letter from the Navy's Submarine Warfare Division (N77), specifically written by Admiral P.F. Sullivan on behalf of Vice Admiral John J. Grossenbacher (Commander Naval Submarine Forces), the Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Reactors, and others in the US Navy regarding its view of alternative sinking theories:
The first cataclysmic event was of such magnitude that the only possible conclusion is that a cataclysmic event (explosion) occurred resulting in uncontrolled flooding (most likely the forward compartments).

Some erroneously claim Grossenbacher's (and Sullivan's) determination is drawn solely from the inconclusive Findings of Fact, generated by the US Navy's Court of Inquiry into Scorpion sinking. This is untrue, as their letter explicitly mentions their review of a secondary study by the Structural Analysis Group in 1970, and a later report by Dr. Robert Ballard, whose investigative team visited the Scorpion wreck in 1985 using the search for Titanic as a cover since the visit was part of a recently declassified mission to visit Scorpion as well as Thresher, another nuclear sub which was lost off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

"We have a saying in the Navy about ships lost out here:

"Those who lie deep in the Atlantic Sea
Are recalled by shrines, wreaths and poetry.
But those who lie in the Pacific Sea
Lie forgotten for all eternity."
I've been unable to find any reference to this saying outside Clive Cussler's book!

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Spartan Gold: Donna Karan dress and more

pg 31

Remi was running late as usual, having decided at the last minute her black Donna Karan dress was going to be a bit much...
Donna Karan (born October 2, 1948) is an American fashion designer and the creator of the Donna Karan New York and DKNY clothing labels.

...over hidden loudspeakers came the faint strains of Celtic folk musics.
Celtic (Keltic) music is a term utilised by artists, record companies, music stores and music magazines to describe a broad grouping of musical genres that evolved out of the folk musical traditions of the Celtic people of Western Europe. As such there is no real body of music which can be accurately described as Celtic, but the term has stuck and may refer to both orally-transmitted traditional music and recorded popular music. Celtic music saw a revival in the 1980s with the emergence of the Irish group Clannad, who became innovators in the genre by blending their heritage of harmony and melody with the design science of the hi-tech studio.

...just in time to see Remi coming down the stairs in a pair of cream Ralph Lauren trousers.
Ralph Lauren pronounced LAU-ren (born October 14, 1939) is an American fashion designer and business executive; best known for his Polo Ralph Lauren clothing brand.

In 1970, Ralph Lauren won the COTY Award for his menswear line. Around that same time he released a line of women's suits that were tailored in a classic men's style, which was when the first Polo emblem was seen. It was on the cuff of the women's suit. Ralph Lauren released Polo's famous short sleeve mesh shirt with the Polo logo in 1972. It came out in 24 colors and soon became a classic.[12] He also gained recognition for his design after he was contracted to provide clothing styles for the movie The Great Gatsby.

In 1984, he transformed the Rhinelander Mansion, former home of the photographer Edgar de Evia and Robert Denning, into the flagship store for Polo Ralph Lauren. This same year de Evia photographed the cover feature story for House & Garden on the Lauren home Round Hill in Jamaica, which had formerly been the home of Babe and Bill Paley. On June 11, 1997, Polo Ralph Lauren became a public company, traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol RL.

By 2007 Ralph Lauren had over 35 boutiques in the United States. There were 23 locations that carried Ralph Lauren Purple Label, including Atlanta, Beverly Hills, Boston, Charlotte, Washington, DC, Chicago, Costa Mesa, Dallas, Denver, Honolulu

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Spartan Gold: the wedding celebration of Cyaxeres and more

pg 28

He used the full force of his wealth and influence to assemble a collection of Persian artifacts, from the drinking cup used at the wedding celebration of Cyaxares to a stone dais used for Zoroastrian rituals during the Sassanid Dynasty to the jewel-encrusted gerron shield carried by Xerxes himself at Thermopylae.
Cyaxares, Cyaxares the Great or Hvakhshathra (625–585 BC), the son of King Phraortes, was the first king of Media. According to Herodotus, Cyaxares, grandson of Deioces, had a far greater military reputation than his father or grandfather, therefore he is often being described as the first official Median King.

He was born in the Median capital of Ecbatana, his father Phraortes was killed in a battle against the Assyrians, led by Ashurbanipal, the king of Neo-Assyria. After his fall the Scythians took over. In his early age Cyaxares was seeking for revenge. He killed the Scythian leaders and proclaimed himself as King of Medes. After throwing of the Scythians, he prepared for war against Assyria.[6] Cyaxares reorganized and modernized the Median Army, then joined with King Nabopolassar of Babylonia. This alliance was formalized through the marriage of Cyaxares daughter, Amytis with Nabopolassar's son, Nebuchadnezzar II, the king who constructed the Hanging Gardens of Babylon as a present for his Median wife to help with her homesickness for the mountainous country of her birth. These allies overthrew the Assyrian Empire and destroyed Nineveh in 612 BC.

Zoroastrianism (or Mazdaism) is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra, in Avestan) and was formerly among the world's largest religions. It was probably founded some time before the 6th century BCE in Greater Iran.

In Zoroastrianism, the Creator Ahura Mazda is all good, and no evil originates from Him. Thus, in Zoroastrianism good and evil have distinct sources, with evil (druj) trying to destroy the creation of Mazda (asha), and good trying to sustain it. Mazda is not immanent in the world, and His creation is represented by the Amesha Spentas and the host of other Yazatas, through whom the works of God are evident to humanity, and through whom worship of Mazda is ultimately directed. The most important texts of the religion are those of the Avesta, of which a significant portion has been lost, and mostly only the liturgies of which have survived. The lost portions are known of only through references and brief quotations in the later works, primarily from the 9th to 11th centuries.

In some form, it served as the national or state religion of a significant portion of the Iranian people for many centuries. The religion first dwindled when the Achaemenid Empire was invaded by Alexander III of Macedon, after which it collapsed and disintegrated and it was further gradually marginalized by Islam from the 7th century onwards with the decline of the Sassanid Empire. The political power of the pre-Islamic Iranian dynasties lent Zoroastrianism immense prestige in ancient times, and some of its leading doctrines were adopted by other religious systems. It has no major theological divisions (the only significant schism is based on calendar differences), but it is not uniform. Modern-era influences have a significant impact on individual and local beliefs, practices, values and vocabulary, sometimes complementing tradition and enriching it, but sometimes also displacing tradition entirely

The Sassanid Empire (also spelled Sasanid Empire, Sassanian Empire, or Sasanian Empire), known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran, was the last pre-Islamic Persian Empire, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 to 651. The Sassanid Empire, which succeeded the Parthian Empire, was recognized as one of the two main powers in Western Asia and Europe, alongside the Roman Empire and its successor, the Byzantine Empire, for a period of more than 400 years.

Thermopylae [Therm-ip-o-lee] ("hot gateways") is a location in Greece where a narrow coastal passage existed in antiquity. It derives its name from its hot sulphur springs. "Hot gates" is also "the place of hot springs and cavernous entrances to Hades".

Thermopylae is primarily known for the battle that took place there between the Greek forces including the 300 Spartans and the Persian forces, spawning the famous epitaph beginning with "Go tell the Spartans". It is also the locality of the city Anthela, where the first Amphictyony is mentioned.

The former Russian Spetsnaz was smart, ruthless and relentless.
Spetsnaz, Specnaz is an umbrella term for any special forces in Russian, literally "force of special purpose". These Russian special forces can specifically refer to any elite or special purpose units under subordination of the Federal Security Service (FSB) or Internal Troops of Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, and the units controlled by the military intelligence service GRU.

Currently, the term is used as well to describe any special purpose units or task forces of other ministries (even the Emergency Situations Ministry special rescue unit). Foreign special forces are also commonly referred to as Spetsnaz on Russian television, for example "American Spetsnaz." Spetsnaz specialists have trained the Republican Guard of Syria, Iraq and Iran and they have been involved in training other special forces units across the world.

Internal troop units of the Cheka were originally raised for internal use against counter-revolutionaries and other internal enemies; the most acclaimed is the Vityaz (MVD). Today they carry the same role as gendarmerie or National Guard units in other countries.

Spetsnaz carry out reconnaissance and "social warfare" missions in "peacetime" as well as in war. The primary function of Spetsnaz troops in wartime was infiltration/insertion behind enemy lines (either in uniform or civilian clothing), usually well before hostilities were scheduled to begin and, once in place, to commit acts of sabotage (such as the destruction of vital NATO communications logistics centers) and the assassination of key government leaders and military officers. According to Vladimir Rezun, a GRU defector who used the pseudonym "Viktor Suvorov", there were 20 Spetsnaz brigades plus 41 separate companies. Thus, the total strength of Spetsnaz forces was around 30,000 troops at the time. Currently, their numbers are around 15,000.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Spartan Gold: the Pasdaran, or Guardians of the Revolution and more

pg 26

The man Bondark met turned out to be a colonel in the elite Iranian paramilitary organization known as the Pasdaran, or the Guardians of the Revolution.
The Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution, often called Revolutionary Guards, is a branch of Iran's military, founded after the Iranian revolution. Whereas the regular military (artesh) defends Iran's borders and maintains internal order, according to the Iranian constitution, the Revolutionary Guard (pasdaran) is intended to protect the country's Islamic system. In fact, according to some outside observers, it is intended to prevent internal dissident and military uprisings.

The IRGC has roughly 125,000 military personnel including ground, air and naval forces. It also controls the paramilitary Basij militia which has about 90,000 active personnel, and in recent years has developed into a "multibillion-dollar business empire," and is reportedly the "third-wealthiest organization in Iran" after the National Iranian Oil Company and the Imam Reza Endowment.

Since its origin as an ideologically driven militia, the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution has taken an ever more assertive role in virtually every aspect of Iranian society. Its expanded social, political, military, and economic role under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's administration — especially during the 2009 presidential election and post-election suppression of protest — has led many analysts to argue that its political power has surpassed even that of the Shiite clerical system.

The Chief Commander of the Guardians is Mohammad Ali Jafari, who was preceded by Yahya Rahim Safavi.

In fact, Bondaruk was told, Xerxes I, Xerxes the Great, who haad invaded Greece and crushed the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae.
Xerxes I of Persia, also known as Xerxes the Great, was the fifth king of kings of the Achaemenid Empire.

Thermopylae and Athens
The Battle of Thermopylae, a small force of Greek warriors led by King Leonidas of Sparta resisted the much larger Persian forces, but were ultimately defeated. According to Herodotus, the Persians broke the Spartan phalanx after a Greek man called Ephialtes betrayed his country by telling the Persians of another pass around the mountains. After Thermopylae, Athens was captured and the Athenians and Spartans were driven back to their last line of defense at the Isthmus of Corinth and in the Saronic Gulf.

What happened next is a matter of some controversy. According to Herodotus, upon encountering the deserted city, in an uncharacteristic fit of rage particularly for Persian kings, Xerxes had Athens burned. He almost immediately regretted this action and ordered it rebuilt the very next day. However, Persian scholars dispute this view as pan-Hellenic propaganda, arguing that Sparta, not Athens, was Xerxes' main foe in his Greek campaigns, and that Xerxes would have had nothing to gain by destroying a major center of trade and commerce like Athens once he had already captured it.

At that time, anti-Persian sentiment was high among many mainland Greeks, and the rumor that Xerxes had destroyed the city was a popular one, though it is equally likely the fire was started by accident as the Athenians were frantically fleeing the scene in pandemonium, or that it was an act of "scorched earth" warfare to deprive Xerxes' army of the spoils of the city.

At Artemisium, large storms had destroyed ships from the Greek side and so the battle stopped prematurely as the Greeks received news of the defeat at Thermopylae and retreated. Xerxes was induced by the message of Themistocles (against the advice of Artemisia of Halicarnassus) to attack the Greek fleet under unfavourable conditions, rather than sending a part of his ships to the Peloponnesus and awaiting the dissolution of the Greek armies. The Battle of Salamis (September 29, 482 BC) was won by the Greek fleet, after which Xerxes set up a winter camp in Thessaly.

Due to unrest in Babylon, Xerxes was forced to send his army home to prevent a revolt, leaving behind an army in Greece under Mardonius, who was defeated the following year at Plataea. The Greeks also attacked and burned the remaining Persian fleet anchored at Mycale. This cut off the Persians from the supplies they needed to sustain their massive army, and they had no choice but to retreat. Their withdrawal roused the Greek city-states of Asia.

Bondaruk...Ukrainian Krasnaya Mafia, or Red Mafia
The Russian Mafia is a name applied to organized crime syndicates in Russia and Ukraine. The mafia in various countries take the name of the country, as for example the Ukrainian mafia.

Bratva is a name designating a range of organized crime syndicates originating in the former Soviet Union, Russia and the CIS. Since the 1991 fall of the Soviet Union, these groups have amassed considerable worldwide power and influence. They are active in virtually every part of Russian society.

Russian criminals are internationally active in illegal oil trade, human trafficking, drug trafficking, smuggling of weapons and nuclear material and money laundering. In December 2009, Timur Lakhonin, the head of the Russian National Central Bureau of Interpol, stated: "Certainly, there is crime involving our former compatriots abroad, but there is no data suggesting that an organized structure of criminal groups comprising former Russians exists abroad."

Russian Mafia gangs are typically called "bratvas", "bratva" meaning "brotherhood" in Russian.

* The Solntsevskaya bratva, or Solntsevskaya brotherhood (Russian: Солнцевская братва, the Solntsevo District gang)
* The Izmaylovskaya gang (Russian: Измайловская группировка, from Izmaylovo District) was considered one of the country's most important and oldest Russian Mafia groups in Moscow and also had a presence in Tel Aviv, Berlin, Paris, Toronto, Miami and New York City.

It was founded during the 1980s under the leadership of Oleg Ivanov (Олег Иванов) and was estimated to consist of about 200 active members (according to other data of 300–500 people). In principle, the organization was divided into two separate bodies—Izmailovskaya and Gol'yanovskaya (Гольяновская), which utilized quasi-military ranks and strict internal discipline. It was involved extensively in murder-for-hire, extortions, and infiltration of legitimate businesses.
* The Tambov Gang (Тамбовская банда) of Saint Petersburg.
* The Potato Bag Gang, a manifestation of the Odessa Mafia, was a gang of con artists from Odessa that operated in New York City's Soviet emigre community in the Brighton Beach area of New York City in the mid-1970s.
* The Orekhovskaya gang (Russian: Oреховскaя группировкa) was a criminal organization based in Moscow active between the late 80's and early 90's

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pacific Vortex: Old Royal Hawaiian hotel and more

pg 18.

Pitt hunched over the bar of the old Royal Hawaiian Hotel, staring vacantly at his drink.
Royal Hawaiian Hotel, also known as the Pink Palace of the Pacific, is a hotel located at 2259 Kalākaua Avenue in Honolulu, Hawaii, on the island of Oahu. One of the first hotels established in Waikiki, the Royal Hawaiian Hotel is considered one of the flagship hotels in Hawaii tourism. It opened its doors to guests on 1 February 1927 with a black tie gala attended by over 1,200 guests. The hotel quickly became an icon of Hawaii's glory days. It was the Hawaii residence or Western White House of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and boasts the bar that invented the Shirley Temple cocktail (as does Chasen's restaurant).

The Royal Hawaiian closed on 1 June 2008 for a complete renovation. The property reopened on 20 January 2009 as a member of The Luxury Collection Resort division of Starwood Hotel.

He could not remember driving through the twisted traffic flow of Nimitz Highway.
Route 92 is a major east–west highway on the island of Oahu which begins at exit 15 off Interstate H-1 in Honolulu and ends 0.6 miles (0.97 km) east of the Ala Wai Canal crossing in Waikiki. The western portion, west of Richards Street, is also known as the Nimitz Highway (named after Pacific Fleet Admiral during World War II, Chester Nimitz). And the eastern portion, east of Richards Street, is also known as the Ala Moana Boulevard.

The route was constructed in the 1940s during World War II to serve military facilities and the local airport. There were plans in the 1960s to extend the road east of the Ala Moana Shopping Center toward Interstate H-1 once again, but those plans were dropped by the late 1970s.

Vintage Aloha shirt, 1960s
Like Pitt, he was dressed casually in slacks and a flowered Aloha shirt.
The Aloha shirt commonly referred to as a Hawaiian shirt is a style of dress shirt originating in Hawaii. It is currently the premier textile export of the Hawaii manufacturing industry. The shirts are printed, mostly short-sleeved, and collared. They usually have buttons, sometimes as a complete button-down shirt, and sometimes just down to the chest (pullover). Aloha shirts usually have a left chest pocket sewn in, often with attention to ensure the printed pattern remains continuous. Aloha shirts may be worn by men or women; women's aloha shirts usually have a lower-cut, v-neck style. The lower hem is straight, as the shirts are not meant to be tucked in.

Aloha shirts exported to the mainland United States and elsewhere are called Hawaiian shirts and often brilliantly colored with floral patterns or generic Polynesian motifs and are worn as casual, informal wear.

Traditional men's aloha shirts manufactured for local Hawaiian residents are usually adorned with traditional Hawaiian quilt designs, tapa designs, and simple floral patterns in more muted colors. Contemporary aloha shirts may have prints that do not feature any traditional Hawaiian quilt or floral designs and instead may have such elements as automobiles, drinks, sports team logos, or other elements arranged in the same pattern as a traditional aloha shirt.

Aloha shirts manufactured for local wear are considered formal wear in business and government, and thus are regarded as equivalent to a shirt, coat, and tie (generally impractical in the warmer climate of Hawaii) in all but the most formal of settings.

Malahini (newcomers) and tourists (visitors) often wear designs of many bright colors while Kamaaina (or those who have been living in the islands for a long time) seem to prefer less busy patterns. These shirts often are printed on the interior, resulting in the muted color on the exterior, and are called "reverse print". For those not familiar, it may appear to be a defect in manufacturing as the shirt appears to be sewn together inside-out.

The related concept of "Aloha Attire" stems from the Aloha shirt. Semi-formal functions such as weddings, birthday parties, and dinners are often designated as "Aloha Attire", meaning that men wear Aloha shirts and women wear muumuu or other tropical prints. Because Hawaii tends to be more casual, it is rarely appropriate to attend such functions in full evening wear like on the mainland; instead, Aloha Attire is seen as the happy medium between excessive formality and casual wear. "Aloha Friday," a now-common tradition of celebrating the end of the workweek by wearing more casual attire on Fridays, initially grew out of an effort to promote aloha shirts. Although not uncommon to see professional women participating in Aloha Friday, it is more common to see men dressing this way.

Cinana swirled the ice around in his Rum Collins
The Tom Collins is a type of Collins cocktail made from gin, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water. First memorialized in writing in 1876 by "the father of American mixology" Jerry Thomas, this "Gin and Sparkling Lemonade" drink typically is served in a Collins glass over ice.

In 1874, people in New York, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere in the United States would start a conversation with "Have you seen Tom Collins?" After the listener predictably reacts by explaining that they did not know a Tom Collins, the speaker would assert that Tom Collins was talking about the listener to others and that Tom Collins was "just around the corner", "in a [local] bar," or somewhere else near. The conversation about the nonexistent Tom Collins was a proven "hoax of exposure".

In The Great Tom Collins hoax of 1874, as it became known, the speaker would encourage the listener to act foolishly by reacting to patent nonsense that the hoaxer deliberately presents as reality. In particular, the speaker desired the listener to become agitated at the idea of someone talking about them to others such that the listener would rush off to find the purportedly nearby Tom Collins.

Similar to The New York Zoo hoax of 1874, several newspapers propagated the very successful practical joke by printing stories containing false sightings of Tom Collins. The 1874 hoax quickly gained such notoriety that several 1874 music hall songs memorialized the event (copies of which now are in the U.S. Library of Congress).

The first recipe
"The father of American mixology," Jerry Thomas

The recipe for the Tom Collins first appeared in the 1876 edition of Jerry Thomas' The Bartender's Guide.

Since New York based Thomas would have known about the wide spread hoax and the contents of the 1876 published book were developed during or right after The Great Tom Collins hoax of 1874, the hoax event is the most plausible source of the name for the Tom Collins cocktail. Classified under the heading "Collins" with similarly named whisky and brandy drinks, Jerry Thomas' Tom Collins Gin instructed:

Jerry Thomas' Tom Collins Gin (1876)
(Use large bar-glass.)
Take 5 or 6 dashes of gum syrup.
Juice of a small lemon.
1 large wine-glass of gin.
2 or 3 lumps of ice;
Shake up well and strain into a large bar-glass. Fill up the glass with plain soda water and drink while it is lively

This was distinguished from the Gin Fizz cocktail in that the 3 dashes of lemon juice in the Gin Fizz was "fizzed" with carbonated water to essentially form a 'Gin and Sodawater' whereas the considerably more "juice of a small lemon" in the Tom Collins essentially formed a 'Gin and Sparkling Lemonade' when sweetened with the gum syrup.

The type of gin used by Thomas was not specified in his 1876 book, but likely was Holland gin rather than English London Dry Gin since Jerry Thomas' Gin Fizz (1862) called for Holland gin and Hollands Gin (Jenever) was imported into the United States at that time at a ratio of approximately 6 liters to every liter of English London Dry Gin

By 1878, the Tom Collins was being served in the bar rooms of New York City and elsewhere. Identified as 'a favorite drink in demand everywhere' in the 1878 edition of The Modern Bartender's Guide by O. H. Byron, both Tom Collins gin and whiskey and Tom Collins brandy were considered fancy drinks.

In 1891, the emulsifying sweetener, gum syrup, was replaced in the recipe by sugar and the use of Old Tom gin, a lightly sweetened Gin popular in 18th-century England. In the 1891 book, The Flowing Bowl: When and what to Drink, author William Schmidt listed the Tom Collins as including:

Tom Collins Gin (1891)
The juice of half a lemon in a large glass,
a bar-spoonful of sugar,
a drink of Tom gin; mix this well;
2 lumps of ice,
a bottle of plain soda.
Mix well and serve.

One turn of the century recipe subsequently replaced the lemon juice with lime juice.

Other "Collins" Drinks
There are several other cocktails made in the same fashion and with the same ingredients as the Tom Collins, with the exception of the base liquor (gin in a Tom Collins).

* Brandy Collins — with brandy (cognac, armagnac or similar)
* Juan or José Collins - with tequila
* Jack Collins — with applejack
* Jake Collins — with gin and 2oz pineapple juice, topped up with soda water and a cherry.
* John Collins — with bourbon or rye whisky
* Michael Collins — with Irish whiskey, named for the Irish leader Michael Collins
* Ron Collins — with rum (popular with tourists in Cuba), based on the Spanish word ron for "rum"
* Sandy Collins or Jock Collins — with Scotch whisky
* Vodka Collins or Comrade Collins — with vodka
* Phil Collins — with 7-Up or Sprite.
* Jallu Collins - with Jaloviina. Enjoyed among mainly Finnishmen.
* Grand Orange Collins - with Grand Marnier, orange juice, lemon juice, Simple Syrup and club soda
* Russell Collins - with Jägermeister
* Sherron Collins - with large splash Orange Juice
* Harry Collins - with Whisky, ginger beer and lime juice instead of lemon.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Pacific Vortex: hard rise on the planes and more

pg 14

"I then ordered all ballast blown and hard rise on the planes."
A ballast tank is a compartment within a boat, ship or other floating structure that holds water.

In submarines ballast tanks are used to allow the vessel to submerge, water being taken in to alter the vessel's buoyancy and allow the submarine to dive. When the submarine surfaces, water is blown out from the tanks using compressed air, and the vessel becomes positively buoyant again, allowing it to rise to the surface. A submarine may have several types of ballast tank: the main ballast tanks, which are the main tanks used for diving and surfacing, and trimming tanks, which are used to adjust the submarine's attitude (its 'trim') both on the surface and when underwater.

The stern planes, located near the propeller and normally horizontal, serve the same purpose as the trim tanks, controlling the trim, and are commonly used, while other control surfaces may not be present on many submarines. The fairwater planes on the sail and/or bow planes on the main body, both also horizontal, are closer to the centre of gravity, and are used to control depth with less effect on the trim.

When a submarine performs an emergency surfacing, all depth and trim methods are used simultaneously, together with propelling the boat upwards. Such surfacing is very quick, so the sub may even partially jump out of the water, potentially damaging submarine systems.

"I have ordered the men to resign the game."
A reference to the game of chess. When a player feels defeated, he will tip over his king and resign - or quit.

During WWII, eight men from the sunken submarine Tang swam 180 feet to the surface.
USS Tang (SS-306) was a Balao-class submarine of World War II. She was built and launched in 1943.

In her short career, the Tang sank 33 ships displacing 116,454 tons. Her commanding officer, Lieutenant Commander Richard H. O'Kane, received the Medal of Honor for her last two engagements (October 23, 1944 and October 24, 1944). Tang was sunk during the last engagement by a circular run of her final torpedo.

The ship sank in 180 feet of water. Several of the crew managed to reach the surface, and some of them survived to be captured by the Japanese. These were the first American submariners to escape a sunken submarine using a Momsen lung.

Of the 13 men who escaped, only nine reached the surface, and of these, five were able to swim until rescued. (Four had escaped the sub before it had even begun to sink). A total of 74 men were lost. Those who escaped the submarine were greeted in the morning with the bow of the transport sticking straight out of the water.

The nine survivors, including O'Kane, were picked up the next morning by a Japanese destroyer. The nine captives were retained by the Japanese in prison camps until the end of the war.

Our position is 32⁰ 43' 15" N- 161⁰ 18' 22" W
Latitude and longitude are often measured in degrees, minutes and seconds. The Eiffel Tower has a latitude of 48° 51′ 29″ N-- that is, 48 degrees plus 51 minutes plus 29 seconds. Or they may be measured entirely in degrees, e.g. 48.85806° N.

Latitude runs vertically - north to south. Longitude runs korizontally, east to west.

Dupree's final position for the Starbuck to travel the required distance, even at flank speed.
Flank speed is a nautical term referring to a ship's true maximum speed, beyond the speed that can be reached by traveling at full speed. Usually, flank speed is reserved for situations in which a ship finds itself in imminent danger, such as coming under attack by aircraft. Flank speed is very fuel-inefficient and often unsustainable because of engine overheating issues.

For example, the most economic speed of the Littoral combat ship is 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) providing a range of 4,300 nautical miles (8,000 km; 4,900 mi), and endurance of 215 hours. This ship has a flank speed of 50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph) but can only travel 1,500 nautical miles (2,800 km; 1,700 mi) at flank speed, exhausting its fuel in 30 hours. Thus, its "flank speed" consumes fuel over seven times faster than most economic.

Other speeds include one-third, two-thirds, standard, and full. One-third and two-thirds are the respective fractions of standard speed. Full is greater than standard, but not as great as flank. Emergency may not be any faster than flank, but indicates the ship should be brought up to maximum speed in the shortest possible time.

(One must speed up in order to "outflank" an opponent - the origin of the term.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Spartan Gold: the Cold War and more

pg 24

However, the Cold War had other plans for Bondaruk and his family.
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World – the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies – and the powers of the Western world, the United States and its allies.

Although the chief military forces never engaged in a major battle with each other, they expressed the conflict through military coalitions, strategic conventional force deployments, extensive aid to states deemed vulnerable, proxy wars, espionage, propaganda, conventional and nuclear arms races, appeals to neutral nations, rivalry at sports events, and technological competitions such as the Space Race.

After the success of their temporary wartime alliance against Nazi Germany, the USSR and the US saw each other as profound enemies of their basic ways of life. The Soviet Union created the Eastern Bloc with the eastern European countries it occupied, annexing some and maintaining others as satellite states, some of which were later consolidated as the Warsaw Pact (1955–1991). The US financed the recovery of western Europe and forged NATO, a military alliance using containment of communism as a main strategy (Truman Doctrine). Some countries aligned with NATO and the Warsaw Pact, and others formed the Non-Aligned Movement.

The US funded the Marshall Plan to effectuate a more rapid post-War recovery of Europe, while the Soviet Union refused to allow participation by Eastern Bloc members. Elsewhere, in Latin America and Southeast Asia, the USSR assisted and helped foster communist revolutions, opposed by several Western countries and their regional allies; some they attempted to roll back, with mixed results. Moscow supported the pro-communist revolt in Cuba, led by Fidel Castro, and in 1962 sent in nuclear missiles. That was intolerable to the Americans, who forced their removal in the Cuban Missile Crisis, as full-scale nuclear war threatened.

The Cold War featured cycles of relative calm and of high tension. The most tense involved the Berlin Blockade (1948–1949), the Korean War (1950–1953), the Berlin Crisis of 1961, the Vietnam War (1959–1975), the Cuban Missile Crisis (1962), the Soviet war in Afghanistan (1979–1989), and the Able Archer 83 NATO exercises in November 1983. Both sides sought détente to relieve political tensions and deter direct military attack, which would probably guarantee their mutual assured destruction with nuclear weapons.

In the 1980s, under the Reagan Doctrine, the United States increased diplomatic, military, and economic pressures on the Soviet Union, at a time when the nation was already suffering economic stagnation. In the late 1980s, Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev introduced the liberalizing reforms of perestroika ("reconstruction", "reorganization", 1987) and glasnost ("openness", ca. 1985). The Cold War ended after the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, leaving the United States as the dominant military power at that time.

The Cold War and its events have had a significant impact on the world today, and it is often referred to in popular culture, especially films and novels about spies.

With the Iranian Revolution of 1979 and thedeposition of theShah, the Soviet Union began to pour more troops into the border area north or Iran.
The Iranian Revolution (also known as the Islamic Revolution or 1979 Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy (Pahlavi dynasty) under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the revolution.

Demonstrations against the Shah commenced in October 1977, developing into a campaign of civil resistance that was partly secular and partly religious, and intensified in January 1978.

Between August and December 1978 strikes and demonstrations paralyzed the country. The Shah left Iran for exile in mid-January 1979, and in the resulting power vacuum two weeks later Ayatollah Khomeini returned to Tehran to a greeting by several million Iranians.

The royal regime collapsed shortly after on February 11 when guerrillas and rebel troops overwhelmed troops loyal to the Shah in armed street fighting. Iran voted by national referendum to become an Islamic Republic on April 1, 1979, and to approve a new theocratic constitution whereby Khomeini became Supreme Leader of the country, in December 1979.

The revolution was unusual for the surprise it created throughout the world: it lacked many of the customary causes of revolution (defeat at war, a financial crisis, peasant rebellion, or disgruntled military); produced profound change at great speed; was massively popular; which was heavily protected by a lavishly financed army and security services; and replaced a modernising monarchy with a theocracy based on Guardianship of the Islamic Jurists (or velayat-e faqih). Its outcome – an Islamic Republic "under the guidance of an extraordinary religious scholar from Qom" – was, as one scholar put it, "clearly an occurrence that had to be explained".

Bondaruk had heard stories about Turkmen resistance fighters...
The Turkmen are a Turkic people located primarily in the Central Asian states of Turkmenistan, Afghanistan, and northeastern Iran. They speak the Turkmen language, which is classified as a part of the Western Oghuz branch of the Turkic languages family together with Turkish, Azerbaijani, Qashqai, Gagauz and Salar.

Turkmen in Iran and Afghanistan
Turkmen in Iran and Afghanistan remain very conservative in comparison to their brethren in Turkmenistan. Islam plays a much more prominent role in Iran and Afghanistan where Turkmen follow many traditional Islamic practices that many Turkmen in Turkmenistan have abandoned as a result of decades of Soviet rule. In addition, many Turkmen in Iran and Afghanistan have remained at least semi-nomadic and traditionally work in agriculture/animal husbandry and the production of carpets

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pacific Vortex: Naval Appropriations Committee and more

pg 10

This is indeed Dirk Pitt...whose father happens to be Senator George Pitt of California, Chairman of the Naval Appropriations Committee.
This committee should more appropriately have been called a Subcommittee.

When first constituted, the Committee on Appropriations in the Senate had 13 sub-committees:

Diplomatic and consular
District of Columbia
Military Academy
Post Office
Sundry Civil

Now - there is only a Military Subcommittee - not one devoted solely to Naval Appropriations.

"Okay, Pitt, it's your quarter."
When Pacific Vortex was first published, in 1982, there were still public telephone booths, and a phone call cost a quarter. Today, in 2011, if you can find a public phone, that works, a call would cost you 50 cents.

"Shortly thereafter, with the seabed only 10 fathoms beneath our keel..."
10 fathoms = 60 feet.

A fathom (abbreviation: ftm) is a unit of length in the imperial and the U.S. customary systems, used especially for measuring the depth of water.

There are 2 yards (6 feet) in an imperial or U.S. fathom.

Originally based on the distance between the fingertips of a man's outstretched arms, the size of a fathom has varied slightly depending on whether it was defined as a thousandth of an (Admiralty) nautical mile or as a multiple of the imperial yard. Formerly, the term was used for any of several units of length varying around 5–5+1⁄2 feet (1.5–1.7 m).

The name derives from the Old English word fæðm meaning embracing arms or a pair of outstretched arms. In Middle English it was fathme. A cable length, based on the length of a ship's cable, has been variously reckoned as equal to 100 or 120 fathoms. At one time, a quarter meant a fourth of a fathom.

In 1959 the United States, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, South Africa, and the United Kingdom defined the length of the international yard to be exactly 0.9144 metre. With the adoption of the metric SI system the use of fathoms declined.

Water depthMost modern nautical charts indicate depth in metres. However, the U.S. Hydrographic Office uses feet and fathoms. A nautical chart will always explicitly indicate the units of depth used.

To measure the depth of shallow waters, boatmen used a sounding line containing fathom points, some marked and others in between, called deeps, unmarked but estimated by the user. Water near the coast and not too deep to be fathomed by a hand sounding line was referred to as in soundings or on soundings. The area offshore beyond the 100 fathom line, too deep to be fathomed by a hand sounding line, was referred to as offsoundings or out of soundings. A deep-sea lead, the heaviest of sounding leads, was used in water exceeding 100 fathoms in depth.

This technique has been superseded by sonic depth finders for measuring mechanically the depth of water beneath a ship, one version of which is the Fathometer (trademark). The record made by such a device is a fathogram. A fathom line or fathom curve, a usually sinuous line on a nautical chart, joins all points having the same depth of water, thereby indicating the contour of the ocean floor

It is customary, when burying the dead, to inter the corpse at a fathom's depth, or "six feet under". A burial at sea (where the body is weighted to force it to the bottom) requires a minimum of six fathoms of water. This is the origin of the phrase "to deep six" as meaning to discard, or dispose of.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pacific Vortex: 101st Salvage Fleet and more

pg 7
He would have passed it but for a small, neatly stenciled sign that read HEADQUARTERS, 101ST SALVAGE FLEET.
This is a fictional Naval branch...which will show up again in future Dirk Pitt adventures.

"Either you go back to your quarters and sleep it off, or I'll call Shore Patrol."
Shore patrol are service members that are provided to aid in security for the U.S. Navy, United States Coast Guard, United States Marine Corps, and the British Royal Navy while on shore. They are often temporarily assigned personnel who are untrained in law enforcement and may be armed only with a baton[1, if at all, and whose primary function is to make certain that sailors on liberty do not become too rowdy. They will also provide assistance for sailors in relations with civil courts and police.

Shore Patrol members are usually naval ratings temporarily posted to SP duties.

He was dressed in white from collar to shoes and trimmed in gold braid beginning at the arms and working up to the rank boards on the shoulders.

Admiral is the rank, or part of the name of the ranks, of the highest naval officers. It is usually considered a full admiral (equivalent to full general) and above vice admiral and below admiral of the fleet (or fleet admiral). It is usually abbreviated to "Adm" or "ADM". Where relevant, admiral has a NATO code of OF-9, and is a four-star rank.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Spartan Gold: Crimean peninsula and more

pg 23

Night had fallen over the Crimean Peninsula
Crimea (Cry-me-uh), or the Autonomous Republic of Crimea, is a sub-national unit, an autonomous republic, of Ukraine. It is located on the northern coast of the Black Sea, occupying a peninsula of the same name.

The territory of Crimea was conquered and controlled many times throughout its history. The Cimmerians, Greeks, Scythians, Goths, Huns, Bulgars, Khazars, the state of Kievan Rus', Byzantine Greeks, Kipchaks, Ottoman Turks, Golden Horde Tatars and the Mongols all controlled Crimea in its early history. In the 13th century, it was partly controlled by the Venetians and by the Genovese; they were followed by the Crimean Khanate and the Ottoman Empire in the 15th to 18th centuries, the Russian Empire in the 18th to 20th centuries, Germany during World War II and the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic and later the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic, within the Soviet Union in the rest of the 20th century.

Crimea is now an autonomous parliamentary republic which is governed by the Constitution of Crimea in accordance with the laws of Ukraine. The capital and administrative seat of the republic's government is the city of Simferopol, located in the center of the peninsula. Crimea's area is 26,200 square kilometres (10,100 sq mi) and its population was 1,973,185 as of 2007.

Crimean Tatars, an ethnic minority who now make up about 13% of the population, formed in Crimea in the late Middle Ages, after the Crimean Khanate had come into existence. The Crimean Tatars were forcibly expelled to Central Asia by Joseph Stalin's government. After the fall of the Soviet Union, some Crimean Tatars began to return to the region. A majority of the population is Crimean Russians, and the Russian language has official status in the autonomous republic.

God help those foolish enough to be caught afloat in the midst of a Black Sea storm.
The Black Sea is an inland sea bounded by Europe, Anatolia and the Caucasus and is ultimately connected to the Atlantic Ocean via the Mediterranean and Aegean Seas and various straits. The Bosphorus strait connects it to the Sea of Marmara, and the strait of the Dardanelles connects that sea to the Aegean Sea region of the Mediterranean. These waters separate eastern Europe and western Asia. The Black Sea also connects to the Sea of Azov by the Strait of Kerch.

The Black Sea has an area of 436,400 km2 (168,500 sq mi) (not including the Sea of Azov), a maximum depth of 2,212 m (7,257 ft), and a volume of 547,000 km3 (131,200 cu mi). The Black Sea forms in an east-west trending elliptical depression which lies between Abkhazia, Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania, Russia, Turkey, and Ukraine. It is constrained by the Pontic Mountains to the south, the Caucasus Mountains to the east and features a wide shelf to the northwest. The longest east-west extent is about 1,175 km.

Important cities along the coast include Batumi, Burgas, Constanța, Giresun, Hopa, Istanbul, Kerch, Kherson, Mangalia, Năvodari, Novorossiysk, Odessa, Ordu, Poti, Rize, Samsun, Sevastopol, Sochi, Sukhumi, Trabzon, Varna, Yalta and Zonguldak.

The Black Sea has a positive water balance; that is, a net outflow of water 300 km3 per year through the Bosphorus and the Dardanelles into the Aegean Sea. Mediterranean water flows into the Black Sea as part of a two-way hydrological exchange. The Black Sea outflow is cooler and less saline, and therefore floats over the warm, more saline Mediterranean inflow, leading to a significant anoxic layer well below the surface waters. The Black Sea also receives river water from large Eurasian fluvial systems to the north of the Sea, of which the Don, Dnieper and Danube are the most significant.

In the past, the water level has varied significantly. Due to these variations in the water level in the basin the surrounding shelf and associated aprons have sometimes been land. At certain critical water levels it is possible for connections with surrounding water bodies to become established. It is through the most active of these connective routes, the Turkish Straits, that the Black Sea joins the world ocean. When this hydrological link is not present, the Black Sea is a lake, operating independently of the global ocean system. Currently the Black Sea water level is relatively high, thus water is being exchanged with the Mediterranean. The Turkish Straits connect the Black and Aegean Seas and comprise the Bosphorus, the Sea of Marmara and the Dardanelles.

Short-term climatic variation in the Black Sea region is significantly influenced by the operation of the North Atlantic Oscillation, which is a term used to describe the climatic mechanisms resulting from the interaction between the north Atlantic and mid-latitude air masses.

While the exact mechanisms causing the North Atlantic Oscillation remain unclear, it is thought the climate conditions established in western Europe mediate the heat and precipitation fluxes reaching Central Europe and Eurasia, regulating the formation of winter cyclones, which are largely responsible for regional precipitation inputs and influence Mediterranean Sea Surface Temperatures (SST's). The relative strength of these systems also limits the amount of cold air arriving from northern regions during winter.

Other influencing factors include the regional topography, as depressions and storms systems arriving from the Mediterranean are funneled through the low land around the Bosphorus, Pontic and Caucasus mountain ranges acting as wave guides, limiting the speed and paths of cyclones passing through the region

Bondaruk had been born in 1960 in a village south of Ashgabat, Turkmenistan, high in the Kopet Dag Mountains.

Ashgabat (also Ashkhabad in transliteration from Russian (literally, Persian meaning: "City of Love") or formerly Poltoratsk between 1919–1927) is the capital and largest city of Turkmenistan, a country in Central Asia. It has a population of 695,300 (2001 census estimate), 2009 estimates around 1 million people in Ashgabat, and is situated between the Kara Kum desert and the Kopet Dag mountain range. Ashgabat has a primarily Turkmen population, with ethnic minorities of Russians, Armenians, and Azeris. It is 250 km from the second largest city in Iran, Mashhad.

The Kopet Dag, Kopet Dagh, or Koppeh Dagh, also known as the Turkmen-Khorasan Mountain Range is a mountain range on the frontier between Turkmenistan and Iran, extending about 650 km (404 mi) along the border, east of the Caspian Sea. The highest peak of the range in Turkmenistan is southwest of the capital Ashgabat and stands at 2,940 m (9,646 ft). The highest Iranian summit is 3,191 m (10,466 ft).

This mountain range has a ski resort officially open by the former president of Turkmenistan Saparmurat Niyazov. Despite the lack of snow in the Kopet Dag mountains, Niyazov was determined to build a major resort there.