Carrier on Fire

Everyone pretty much knows of the fire aboard USS Forrestal.

And most know of the fire aboard USS Enterprise.

And lots even know of the fire aboard USS Oriskany.

But I’ll admit, I didn’t know about the fire on board Constellation before she was even commissioned.

Carriers are tough ships. But they’re also virtual playgrounds for fire. Lots of fuel, explosives, and other flammable materiel in a warren of compartments. You’re thinking to yourself, well, they’re made of steel, how hard can it be to put out a fire? Virtually everything aboard a ship besides the steel will burn, given enough heat and oxygen. Furniture, bedding, clothing, paint, mattresses, paper, wire conduits, insulation, everything.

And fighting a fire shipboard is awful. The same compartmentalization that keeps a ship afloat with flooding means that smoke and heat have no place to escape. Thousands of tons of water have to be used to not just knock down flames, but thoroughly drench and cool anything that might flash back to flame.  Getting cut off from a viable escape route is very easy, and running out of air can happen almost instantaneously.

One small error aboard Constellation lead to a fire that killed 50 shipyard workers.

Safety first.

Thanks to gCaptain. You might wanna click that link to learn the tale of the USNS Harlan Sanders.

Graveyard of Peaches: How Tennessee Will Win Its War Against Georgia | Danger Room |

The War Between the States ended almost 150 years ago, but the Georgia state senate is making threatening noises against its neighbor. It should think twice. Occupying Iraq and Afghanistan is a cakewalk compared to the hellscape that southeast Tennessee poses for an invading army.

Last week, the Georgia state senate voted to sue the state of Tennessee in order to claim a sliver of land that would grant Georgia access to the Tennessee River. Georgia, readers must understand, has mismanaged its own water resources to the point where it now struggles to supply enough water for the residents of Atlanta (and its sprawling suburbs and exurbs) to fill their above-ground pools and wash the TruckNutz on their mini-vans. Dangerously, the state is actually seeking to redraw a border that has kept the peace for over 200 years, and all over a crucial resource — a resource belonging, rightfully, to the Tennessee of my ancestors.

I have nothing against (most parts of) Georgia. Growing up, though, my mother would drive my sister and me south on I-75, ostensibly to watch a Braves game or visit our cousins, but really to show us the horrors of life beyond the green mountains and valleys of our native southeast Tennessee, where much of my family remains. Other parts of Georgia are lovely: I had the good fortune to be stationed in Savannah for several years while serving in the U.S. Army. But the greater Atlanta area is a horrible twisted mess of concrete overpasses and far-flung skyscrapers. Once south of Cartersville, it’s easy to understand why William Tecumseh Sherman thought it wisest to just burn the whole place down and start over.

via Graveyard of Peaches: How Tennessee Will Win Its War Against Georgia | Danger Room |

Andrew might just have had his tongue just a bit in cheek here. After all, it was published on April Fools Day.

On the other hand, it is a pretty apt metaphor for the responses our enemies in Iraq and Afghanistan have used. And having had a couple of Tennesseans working for me, yes, they are a fractious bunch.

Oh, That Religion of Peace. Islamic Convert Son Kills Father at Easter Service


It makes for a less than happy family Easter in Ashtabula.   And scant coverage in national news outlets.  Eventually the tragedy will likely be blamed on the handgun, and not the shooter, his motives, nor the interpretation of religion which considers patricide “the will of Allah”.

And what would the official statement be without some ludicrous soft-soaping?

Stell said Reshad Riddle has offered no motive for the shooting.

“Witnesses at the scene said the shooter entered church and made some references to Allah, but we are not sure if that was a motive or if there was a family problem, Stell said. “We have no motive confirmed with family members. There is no indication that the father and son had a bad relationship. Everyone thinks this was very surprising.”

No motive?  I might suggest that Stell needs to get his money back from his online detective course.  But then, similar words were used when another Islamic radical killed 13 and wounded 38 while screaming “Allahu Akbar!” time and again.

Investigators on Friday bore down on the possible motives of Maj. Nidal M. Hasan, the alleged Fort Hood gunman, to determine whether his actions were driven by stress related to his upcoming deployment to Afghanistan or to an Islamist political ideology.

Here’s a question to ponder, and to answer honestly:  Would ever such equivocation be heard if a gunman had yelled racial slurs while shooting a black man or woman?   Perhaps we should be “bearing down on the possible motives” for why local, state, and federal officials almost never tell us the truth about incidents involving Islamic radicals inside our borders.   Instead of telling us how Veterans and people who believe in God and the Second Amendment are potential terrorists.  Not bloody likely, however.

Just a thought.

Inspiration from space

Some astronauts have a gift for being able to share what it’s like in space. Alan Bean painted moonscapes from his Apollo experiences. Jerry Linenger shared letters to his son while stationed aboard the Mir. Don Pettit had his Saturday Science videos. Now, we have ISS commander Chris Hadfield, who has really excelled at social media, tweeting pics from space like this:

moon rise

chatting with another spaceship captain

and inspiring kids on Reddit’s Ask Me Anything. Zen Pencils turned Hadfield’s words into an awesome cartoon.


Kudos and thanks to Australian artist Gavin Aung Than for capturing that inspiration perfectly.

April Fool’s

Okay, so I’m gullible. Not to the point of looking up “gullible” in the dictionary to see if my picture is there, but enough that when I was a wee lass, my dad convinced me on one April 1st that the telephone company was going to clean out the lines. Yes, I held the phone over the garbage can at 4:00 so the dust wouldn’t go all over the place. He had me convinced that it would help because our lines were staticky. Duh.

The one I fell for today was at work. There is a services group that runs the gift shop, the vending machines, and the gym. They usually send out notices for gift shop sales, group buys of Honey Baked Ham at Easter, turkey at Thanksgiving, and nuts at Christmas, so it’s not uncommon to get an email from them every week or two. Today they sent out a notice for a new dating service called “Every Couple Has Its Moment”, with full geek explanation of coupling forces and moments of inertia for non-nerds, set up like eHarmony but with questions like:

  • Do you consider “repairing it” a victory and “replacing it” a failure?” (Yes.)
  • Did you name your pet after a scientist? (I know co-workers who have.  Calling a cat Schrodinger is funny, I don’t care who you are.)
  • Does all your stationery have grid lines? (Yes.)
  • Have you ever assumed a “horse” is a “sphere” to make the math easier?  (Seriously, in one college class, I did assume a spherical chicken.)

Yeah, I fell for it.  Apparently someone at work did not find it as clever as I did, because there was soon a followup email apologizing for the joke.  I then clicked the link for the dating service, which said, “April Fool’s!”

So what’s the best April Fool’s joke you’ve fallen for or pulled on someone?


1 April 1945: Love Day


Today is the 68th anniversary of L-Day, known as “Love Day” to the half a million Allied soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines whose mission was the conquest of the island of Okinawa.    An armada of 1,300 ships included 40 CVs, CVLs, and CVEs, and close to 400 amphibious vessels carrying 187,000 troops, thousands of trucks, artillery tubes, mortars, tanks, amtraks, and many thousands of tons of ammunition and all classes of supply to sustain the landing force of the XXIV Corps and the Marine III Amphibious Corps in the fighting ashore.


The Japanese, to the surprise and immense relief of the invasion force, barely contested the beaches.  Almost every unit came ashore without opposition, as the first night saw more than 60,000 ashore.   The Japanese 32nd Army’s 100,000 defenders and the locally recruited militia of Okinawan men would instead meet their American enemy inland, in expertly-prepared and defended positions on key terrain.   But all of that, the massive kikusui of the kamikaze aircraft, the drenching rains that turned the island into a reprise of the horrors of the Western Front in the Great War, the savage fighting for Naha and the Shuri line, the Half-Moon, Sugar Loaf, the sacrifice of the Yamato battle squadron in Operation Ten-Gō, the massed suicides of civilians, was yet to come.   On this day, casualties were negligible, and a lodgment established.   The question became not if, but when, Okinawa would fall.

Military working cat program underway at ‘The Old Guard’ | Article | The United States Army

JOINT BASE MYER-HENDERSON HALL, Va. (April 1, 2013) — The 3d U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard), is doing its part to cut down on military spending with the implementation of a new cutting edge program which will use military working cats to work alongside military police.

Currently, U.S. Army Military Police, or MPs, most often use German Shepherd and Belgian Malinois dogs for narcotics detection, tracking criminals and for taking down criminals, thus reducing the risk of injury to MPs.

via Military working cat program underway at ‘The Old Guard’ | Article | The United States Army.