Wednesday, June 25, 2008

End of an era…

I put my notice in at Intel, and June 30 will be my last day there. It has been a long, rough 6 ½ months of working full time as a Project Engineer for RK Mechanical and full time at Intel completing all of their site water chemistry control scope. The opportunity to do both was an absolute blessing, and an answer to prayer. When I took the Intel job, I had been involved with Nemo’s construction and initial operations, without an income, for nine months. Our personal finances were hit hard by Ethan breaking his leg (without health insurance) and by having an empty rental house while the housing market was in a slump. The Intel job allowed us to cover the payments and utilities on the empty rental house for ten months, and to pay off over $15,000 in debt that we accumulated while we had no income. It was very beneficial, but very hard for our whole family. I have four days left and then I will have my nights back again. It will be a good thing for us.

Gotta run,

Friday, June 20, 2008

DMV is a horrible thing...

Tracy and I recently leased a new vehicle through the business. I went to the DMV today to get permanent license plates. I follow politics pretty closely, and I find it unbelievable that some people want national health care. If you want to know what government run medical services would be like, go spend an hour or two at the DMV. Renew your drivers license, get new plates, etc... After leaving the DMV, decide if that is how you want your next doctor visit to go...

I am very much against government run medical care. You must be insane if you are for it.

I have at least one reader!

From time to time, I get an email or a comment from someone who reads this blog. I do it more for myself, but if it helps someone out there, then that is also a good thing. You sometimes have to wade through my non-coffee related thoughts and pro-military posts to get to the coffee shop knowledge (or lack of), but I'm happy to know that people are gaining useful information here.

I received an anonymous reply from my last post that answered questions posed by a reader, as shown below:

"Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions - if there's any more nuggets of wisdom you can think of that we should know about, we're out here reading you!"

The biggest nugget of wisdom I can offer is to buy a 12 pack of legal pads (or if you are like me, get a bunch of graph paper) and start drawing shop layouts. 1200 sq ft is good for a small shop, 1600 for a medium shop, and 2000+ for a large shop. You can see our layouts as they progressed and changed back at the start of my blog in late 2006. Working on your layout will help you plan everything you need. Someone else could write pages and pages of advice, but nothing will help you to open your own shop than to plan it yourself. In fact, I believe the process of designing your own shop will give you a better understanding of what is involved, and will help you to avoid problems later. A quick answer from a blog is no substitute for investing your own time and thoughts into a shop design. You will learn so very much from the experience, and I believe it is invaluable knowledge gained.

Tracy and I just returned from California last night. I will be posting photos soon of our quick vacation to Disneyland!


Thursday, June 12, 2008

Shocked, Appalled, Disgusted, and Saddened...

I know that most people just go about their lives, going to work, watching TV, playing X Box, raising their kids, etc, etc, etc...
Something happened today that should have every single person in the United States of America outraged, and yet, I am afraid that it will go by unnoticed by most.

Today, the Supreme Court handed down a ruling that gives military war prisoners in Guantanamo Bay detention the rights of American citizenship. That's right, prisoners of war were awarded rights and privileges in America as if they were citizens. The Supreme Court's decision today is bordering on treason.

We are at war against an enemy that intends to do harm to Western Civilization in general, and the United States specifically. We have captured and detained operatives of the enemy, and they are being held in Guantanamo Bay. This is necessary for the security of our nation, and for the safety of our people. Every war in history has included holding prisoners of war. There is no way around it, other than to kill them all and take no prisoners.

For our appointed officials to hand down a decision to undermine the war effort is unacceptable. For our president to claim that he will accept the decision and abide by it, while in disagreement, is unacceptable. Where has the leadership of our great nation gone? I read about what is going on in our government, in our military, about current events in our country everyday. I no longer recognize the United States of America. I don't know where we are headed, but I see decisions being made that are not consistent with the Constitution, that are not consistent with the intent of the founding fathers, and I believe are doing great harm to our nation.

Most people don't notice, and probably don't care. As long as their TV works and they can make it to their kid's soccer game, then they are happy. If you care about where our country is headed, I would suggest you pay attention to what our courts are deciding, what is going on in our government, and how it will affect your lives.

'We the People' need to start looking out for ourselves, because our elected and appointed officials are failing us. By no means am I a conspiracy nut, even though this post might sound like it is headed in that direction. If you haven't heard about today's decision by the Supreme Court, I would suggest that you do a little research and develop your own thoughts about it. If average Americans remain disconnected from the decisions being made by our government, we will all be in trouble in the not so distant future.

"The lights are on but nobody's home" is a phrase that has always referred to crazy people. Unfortunately, it seems to be applying more and more to our population. I challenge you to learn about current events and make a decision about what you believe. Let your congressmen/senators know what you think. I'm pretty sure they won't care, but at least more people will be informed...

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

US Navy Nuclear Power Program

This is what I did in the Navy. I was an Electronic's Technician and Reactor Operator in the nuclear field. It included 2 1/2 years of school, followed by nearly 4 years on an operational submarine (USS Memphis SSN-691), followed by nearly 4 years at the Nuclear Prototype in Upstate New York (Knolls Atomic Power Laboratories) as an instructor, followed by a couple of years on the USS Toledo SSN-769 as part of the new construction crew (while the submarine was being built, tested, and commissioned). I left the Navy at almost 12 years with a medical discharge due to six knee surgeries and an ankle reconstruction.

Here are some commentaries I found about the Navy's Nuclear Program:

Naval Nuclear Power School is a nuclear engineering school operated by the U.S. Navy to train enlisted sailors, officers, and KAPL and Bettis civilians for shipboard nuclear power plant operation and maintenance on surface ships and submarines in today's nuclear navy. Due to its depth and fast pace, it is regarded as one of the most difficult academic programs in the world rivaling nuclear programs at such universities as Harvard and MIT.

Enlisted personnel must have already graduated from the class A school pertaining to their rating assignment as a Machinist's Mate (MM), Electrician's Mate (EM), or Electronics Technician (ET) before commencing their training at the Naval Nuclear Power School. Sailors in the Navy Nuclear Program ("Nukes") make up only 3% of the sailors in the navy.

While the rigorous training program differs slightly in terms of content for the officers and enlisted ratings, the following topics are provided to all program attendees:

Nuclear Physics
Electrical theory and equipment
Reactor plant technology
Thermodynamics aka Heat Transfer & Fluid Flow
Materials engineering and metallurgy
Health physics
Reactor principles
The principal difference between the enlisted course and the officer course is the more extensive post-Calculus mathematical examination of reactor dynamics studied by the officers.

The nuclear program is widely acknowledged as having the most demanding occupational field academic program in the U.S. military today. The school operates at a very fast pace and stringent academic standards are required for all subjects. Students typically spend 45 hours a week in the classroom, and study anywhere from an additional 10 to 50 hours per week, giving the average student around a 65 hour work week. Students cannot study nor do homework outside of the classroom, as the material is classified. A security badge must be used to access study materials.

Prospective enrollees in the Nuclear Power Program must pass a demanding exam in the sciences and may be disqualified for minor infractions. The pre-entry requirements for integrity and consistency in the personal and professional life for this vital field is a very large concern to the military.

Failed tests and sometimes even wrong answers on tests require an interview with subject department heads to review students as well as the teacher's notes to verify the materials were taught and recorded by the student, and in the student's study logs. They may then be given remedial homework. Failing scores in the school can result in charges of "dereliction of duty" under the Uniform Code of Military Justice, depending on whether or not the student was determined to be lacking effort, or lacking the ability to complete the program.

Many colleges and universities award several years of college credit to graduates of Naval Nuclear Power School for the unclassified portions of the curriculum. Because large parts of the curriculum are classified, the amount of college credit awarded does not accurately reflect the depth of the coursework. The American College of Education recommends an average of 60-80 semester-hours of college credit for completion of the entire Naval Nuclear Power Training Command curriculum, which comprises both Nuclear Field "A" School and Naval Nuclear Power School (the acual amount is based on the specific training pipeline completed - MM, EM, or ET). Sailors with one to two years of college credit may easily find themselves only a few classes away from a bachelors degree upon completion of the training pipeline, though NNPTC in and of itself is not a degree-granting institution. Several universities do offer degrees in Nuclear, Mechanical, Electrical, and Electronics Engineering/Engineering Technology, and a number of them grant the full ACE-recommended credits to NNPTC graduates. Further, under the Navy's SOCNAV college program, the residency requirements at these civilian institutions are reduced to only 10-25%, allowing a student to take as little as 12 units of coursework through the degree-granting institution (typically 4 courses) to complete their bachelors degree. Further, naval nuclear engineers are some of the most sought after professionals many times being seen as more valuable than competitors from ivy-league schools. Nucs have gone on with no other schooling to teach classes such as nuclear physics, reactor design, and related courses at the top universities in America, including Harvard, Yale, MIT, and other top tier universities. Naval Nuclear Experience is many times seen as an equal to a PhD in the related field due to the hands on work experience with running nuclear reactors as opposed to computer simulations.

Graduates of Nuclear Power School go on to Nuclear Prototype Units for six additional months of hands-on experience and training at operating Nuclear propulsion plants. Upon separation, many sailors choose to work at civilian nuclear power plants or teaching nuclear field related classes at the university level. Naval Nuclear Power School is the only Nuclear Power School which provides hands on experience working with Nuclear Reactors.

It is interesting to note that both submarines that I served on were the only two US submarines present when the Soviet submarine Kursk was sank, losing both the submarine and the entire crew of 118. No one will come out and confirm, but there is a great deal of information available that would indicate it is likely that the Memphis and/or Toledo played a direct role in the sinking of the Kursk.

USS Memphis (SSN-691), a Los Angeles-class submarine, was the sixth ship of the United States Navy to be named for Memphis, Tennessee. The contract to build her was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia on 4 February 1971 and her keel was laid down on 23 June 1973. She was launched on 3 April 1976 sponsored by Mrs. Cathy Beard, and commissioned on 17 December 1977, with Commander G. Dennis Hicks in command.
In March 1981, USS Memphis completed an around-the-world cruise via the Panama Canal, including operations with both the Sixth and Seventh Fleets.
Memphis was redesignated an experimental submarine during 1989 to test composite hull structures, unmanned underwater vehicles, advanced sonars, hull friction reduction, and other advanced technologies for the LA and Seawolf classes, but remains combat-capable.
During a mid-1990s refit, Memphis received numerous modifications, which added about 50 tons to her displacement, most of it aft.
-a glass-reinforced plastic (GRP) turtleback abaft the sail to accommodate remotely operated vehicles
-a towing winch and drum for experimental towed sonar arrays
-4.27 m-high by 1.37 m-wide vertical surfaces at the ends of the stern stabilizers to accommodate sonar transducer arrays
-a 54 mm towed array dispenser in the port fin leading to the new winch abaft the sail
-supports for the stern stabilizers
-new hydraulic systems
-a fiber-optic databus
-58 standardized equipment racks to accommodate electronic test gear
In January 1994 Memphis entered Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for Refueling and Complex Overhaul (RCOH) and modifications to support her research and development role. Upon completion of the shipyard availability she was assigned to Submarine Development Squadron TWELVE in Groton, Connecticut.
Memphis has tested a composite material propeller shaft of about half normal weight and, in 1998, the Lockheed Martin Undersea Systems Universal Gravity Module (UGM) passive bottom profiler navigational system.
On 3 May 2005, Memphis deployed conducting two polar transits, returning to New London on 3 November 2005.
Memphis won the coveted Battenberg Cup in 2005.
On 6 May 2006, Memphis deployed against Iraqi insurgency, returning to New London, Connecticut, on 7 August.
On 27 June 2007, Memphis returned to Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Maine, for a Pre-Inactivation Restricted Availability. She returned to Groton on 8 May 2008.
Involvement with the sinking of the Kursk
For more details on this topic, see Russian submarine Kursk explosion.
The USS Memphis was present at the Russian war games during which the Russian submarine, Kursk sank, resulting in the loss of the submarine and 118 sailors and officers on board. It has been suggested by conspiracy theorists that the USS Memphis may have been responsible for the sinking.

USS Toledo (SSN-769)
USS Toledo (SSN-769), a Los Angeles-class submarine, was the third ship of the United States Navy to be named for Toledo, Ohio. The contract to build her was awarded to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company in Newport News, Virginia on 10 June 1988 and her keel was laid down on 6 May 1991. She was launched on 28 August 1993 sponsored by Mrs. Sabra Smith, and commissioned on 24 February 1995, with Commander Jack Loye III in command. The submarine was a cover story of the April 6, 1998 issue US News & World Report.

The USS Toledo returned to the Naval Submarine Base New London in mid-April 2003 after having taken part in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
On 7 December 2004, Toledo returned to Groton, Connecticut, after a six-month deployment in the Persian Gulf with the John F. Kennedy carrier strike group that included port calls in Crete, Dubai, and Bahrain. Her route home from Bahrain was unusual, rounding the Cape of Good Hope rather than using the Suez Canal. Once back in the North Atlantic, she was diverted for a classified drug interdiction mission with the Joint Interagency Task Force–South in the Caribbean Sea.
On 31 January 2006, "Toledo" again departed for a six-month deployment to CENTCOM. Port calls included Augusta Bay, IT,Dubai, the British island territory of Diego Garcia and La Maddalena. The ship returned from this deployment on 31 July 2006 and a change of command ceremony took place on 10 August 2006 where CDR Goldman relieved CDR Schnieder.
Northrop Grumman Corporation has been awarded a contract from the U.S. Navy for maintenance work, known as a depot modernization period, on the nuclear-powered submarine USS Toledo (SSN 769). The initial planning contract is valued at approximately $34.7 million. The total estimated value, including the actual execution, is valued at approximately $175 million. The ship is scheduled to arrive in mid-November 2006 to Newport News, VA for a performance period lasting approximately 13 months, 10 of which will include dry dock work. Planning work will begin immediately. This is a competitive award under a Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) multiple award contract.
Due to delays in modernizing the ship, the availability has been extended until fall of 2008. The Toledo is expected to return to Groton, CT upon completion of sea trials after the shipyard period.
Kursk conspiracy theory
Conspiracy theorists claim that the Russian submarine, Kursk which sunk in Barents Strait of the Barents Sea was accidentally crashed into by the USS Toledo and possibly torpedoed by the USS Memphis which were claimed to be spying on Kursk which was conducting weapon practice in the region. Conspiracy theorists support their thesis by the two circular holes on Kursk's wreck (claimed to be the proof Kursk being torpedoed by a submarine) and USS Toledo's being sent to Norway for repairs on 15th of August, 3 days after the incident.
Although there were officially declared Norwegian and American submarines in the region USS Toledo wasn't among them and it is quite peculiar for a nuclear submarine like USS Toledo to be sent for repairs three days after the incident took place. Nuclear submarines are known for their endurance and durability. Despite what theorists believe, the Russian government's stated official cause for the Russian submarine Kursk explosion was due to a torpedo detonation.

Information regarding the sinking of the Kursk:
The Sinking Of The Russian Sub Kursk!



On August 14, 2000, Russian authorities announced that one of their newest cruise missile submarines, the Kursk, had sunk with all hands. The Kursk is a cruise missile submarine, called the type 949a "Antey" class by the Russians, code named the Oscar II by NATO. It is not a ballistic missile submarine, but is intended to attack and destroy an aircraft carrier battle group using torpedos and short range sea skimming cruise missiles.

The Kursk, sailing out from Severomorsk.

Almost immediatly, Russian naval authorities reported that sonar used to locate Kursk as it lay on the bottom showed not one, but two submarines lying on the sea floor. While the Russians worked on the Kursk itself, the second unknown submarine slowly moved off.

CBS news then broke the story that the United States had three ships in the vicinity observing the naval exercise that Kursk was taking part in, possibly a test of a new ultra-high speed torpedo. Two of the three ships were submarines, later determined to be USS Memphis and USS Toledo, type 688 Los Angeles class fast attack submarines which are often used for covert intelligence gathering.

USS Memphis, reported by Norway to be undergoing repairs at a Norwegian naval yard.

USS Toledo, reported by Scottish media to have also been in the area of the Kursk sinking, followed by a visit to Faslane.

The third ship was USNS Loyal, a Victorious Class Surveillence Towed Array Sensor Ship, or SURTASS, also used as an intelligence gatherng platform.

A Victorius Class SURTASS ship, similar to USNS Loyal, also in the area of the Kursk sinking.

This was immediatly followed by an announcement from the Pentagon that one of the two submarines which had been spying on the Kursk was late in establishing radio contact. A few days later, the Pentagon reported that the submarine had finally checked in, and it was at this time that the United States government took the official position that the Kursk had sunk because of a torpedo explosion. The Russians, however, while agreeing that there was one or more torpedo explosions on Kursk, insisted that the explosions were the result of a collision involving a foreign submarine.

Water is an excellent conductor of sound energy, as any sonar operator will tell you, and so it came as little surprise that the events surrounding the sinking of the Kursk had registered not only on the sensors of the two American subs and SURTASS but on seismographs located hundreds of miles away.

Almost at once, data from Norway was made public.

The above is the first seismic trace from Norway showing the main explosion from what appears to be a torpedo warhead, and preceding it by two minutes, another smaller event. Although labled as an explosion, the waveform is not that of an explosive event but a long grinding sound.

More recently, Norwegian seismologists have released more data from their seismographs. Note that the first event is no longer described as an explosion.

The issue became even more contentious when the Russians announced that an actual physical piece of the mystery submarine had been located close to the wreckage of Kursk. Not yet brought to the surface, the piece is described as the "fairwater" from the top of a submarine's sail.

The Russians then announced that they had identified the submarine that had collided with Kursk, then lay on the bottom before slowly moving away, as USS Memphis. Radio amatuers had reported overhearing a US Navy submarine asking for emergancy permission to enter a Norwegain port, and the Norwegian embassy in Moscow informed the Russians that USS Memphis had required emergancy repairs of an unspecified nature. This report was later retracted with the excuse that the Norwegian embassy in Moscow does not employ people who speak fluent Russian, and that the word for "food" had been confused with the word for "repair". The Norwegians then reversed their story again, admitting that USS Memphis was undergoing repairs and that Norwegian journalists had actually seen the damage. Russia officially requested a report on the damage to USS Memphis from the Norwegian government.

Diagram based on the reports of Norwegian divers assisting the Russians.

Detail from the above diagram based on the reports of Norwegian divers assisting the Russians. Note that in addition to the obvious blow out from the torpedo room, a gash runs up across the top of the hull into the sail. Inside the sail was an escape pod which could have carried the entire Kursk crew to safety, but it was disabled by the damage to the sail.

Diagram of the interior of the Kursk, showing how many bulkheads had to be penetrated by the gash across the upper hull and into the sail.


As a counter to the Russian claims of a collision, a story has appeared in a German newspaper and then been picked up by a British newspaper claiming that the Russian cruiser Peter The Great was using rocket propelled torpedos (equivilent to the ASROC) and that one of these sank the Kursk.

Source: Independent News (UK) EXCERPTED
Published: September 15 2000 Author: Patrick Cockburn

A misdirected missile from a Russian cruiser caused the disaster of the
Kursk nuclear powered submarine during a training exercise, says a
member of a Russian parliamentary team investigating the disaster.

Sergei Zhikov, a deputy and a former submariner, said yesterday that the Kursk and the Peter the Great, a Russian cruiser, were on an exercise in the Barents Sea in which "the cruiser acted as an enemy aircraft carrier and the submarine was expected to attack it". He said the Peter the Great fired five anti-submarine missiles at the Kursk but only four could be found afterwards. "It looks like the submarine was hit by the missing [anti-submarine] missile," Mr Zhikov told the Interfax newsagency.The Kursk then tried to rise to the surface in an emergency but had hit the bottom of the Peter the Great. The cause of the sinking of the Kursk and the death of its 118 crew is an episode that President Vladimir Putin wants to put behind him. The Kremlin now says that nobody survived the initial explosion and that tapping sounds from inside the hull, which the Russian navy said showed that some sailors were alive 48 hours after the disaster, were made by automatic machinery. The claim by Mr Zhikov is similar to a report in the Berliner Zeitung newspaper last week, which said that an investigation by the Russian Federal Security Service had concluded that the Kursk had been sunk by a Granit missile fired by the Peter the Great. It said that the Granit had travelled 12 miles underwater before exploding close to the Kursk. Russian officers have hotly denied that the Kursk could have been sunk by one of their own ships, but have been unable to explain exactly what happened. The Pentagon said that there were two explosions in the vicinity of the Kursk at 7.28am and 7.30am on 12 August. The second was 45 to 50 times bigger than the first, suggesting that one or more of the Kursk's own torpedoes had exploded. That appears to be confirmed by the extent of the damage to the forward part of the submarine, but the cause of the first explosion is still unknown.


But this story is a hoax. The use of such a weapon would have left a clear and unequivocal trace on the sonar records of the two 688 subs and SURTASS boat the US had spying on the exercise. More to the point, the Russians, like every other nation, have special training weapons which do not carry live warheads. In the case of torpedos, both for the Russian and US, the training torpedos are designed only to get to within a certain distance of the target then surface to be recovered. Training torpedos do NOT actually hit their targets.

Finally note that the story claims that the torpedo fired by Peter The Great supposedly traveled 12 miles underwater to reach Kursk, then it claims Kursk struck Peter The Great while trying to do an emergancy surface after being hit. How is Kursk supposed to have gone from being 12 miles away from Peter the Great to being right underneath it in just a few seconds?

Excerpts from Various Articles
Debris found near Kursk linked to British and US submarines

Source: Guardian
Published: Tuesday September 5, 2000 Author: Ian Traynor in Moscow

Special report: Russia's stricken submarine

Russian salvage teams at the scene of the Kursk submarine disaster have
found an object resembling part of the conning tower of a British or
American nuclear submarine, a senior Russian officer said yesterday.
Reiterating the Russian navy line that the most likely explanation for the
sudden sinking of the Kursk on August 12 was a collision with a foreign
vessel, Colonel General Valery Manilov, the deputy chief of the general
staff, told a press conference in Moscow that the object was lying at the
bottom of the Barents sea, off the coast of Murmansk, and was being guarded
by Russian warships.

The Russian top brass continued to believe that the likeliest cause of the
Kursk disaster was a collision with "an other large underwater object", Gen
Manilov declared.




From a Russian magazine report.
.......The American nuclear submarine SSN 691 Memphis, Los-Angeles class, is currently located at the Norwegian port in Bergen. A representative of the Norwegian embassy in Moscow told the Russian RIA "Novosti" news agency that the 'Memphis' entered the Norwegian port "for repairs." Initially the Norwegian embassy refused to say when the American submarine requested entry to and entered the Norwegian base. Shortly after publishing this information, RIA "Novosti" was contacted by another representative of the Norwegian embassy, Ule Hopestad, who said that his colleague, who gave the initial interview to the news agency, provided "incorrect information" due to his "problems with the Russian language. According to Ule Hopestad, the 'Memphis' entered the Norwegian port in Bergen on August 18 not for repairs but to replenish its supplies of food and to allow its crew to rest. Norwegian officials say that 'Memphis' was scheduled to arrive to Bergen almost two months in advance.

According to the Russian Defense Minister, Igor Sergeyev, Russian experts are studying satellite photos of the area where "Kursk" sank. 'Memphis' was detected by satellites when it surfaced and was traveling at a very low speed away from the general area of the "Kursk" accident toward Norway. Later the American submarine accelerated to around 8-9 knots (16-17 km/h) and proceeded along the Norwegian coast toward Bergen (roughly 1,900 km from the site of the "Kursk" accident along the Norwegian coastline). The submarine was generally identified as a Los-Angeles class and later was determined to be the SSN 691 'Memphis'. The unidentified foreign submarine was initially detected by the Russian nuclear cruiser "Peter the Great" after it intercepted a NATO radio distress signal originated by the submarine, requesting emergency entry to one of Norwegian naval bases.

Representatives of the Norwegian embassy in Moscow told RIA "Novosti" that the American submarine was seen by Norwegian journalists. However, attempts on the part of the Russian news agency to locate these journalists have failed.....

This snapshot was made by the Russian intelligence satellite on August 19, 2000 from the altitude of 40 thousand meters. This is the Norwegian naval base Haakonsvern, arranged on the coast of a Grimstad-fiord in a province Hordalan, in nine kilometers to the southwest from Bergen. Geographical coordinates of base are 60-20-20 N, 5-13-53 E, ? = +20?. Naval base Haakonsvern is used by the small and medium ships - up to frigate class, but not for for submarines.

On the August, 19 the nuclear submarine of the Los Angeles class has come into Haakonsvern and moored in the piers close to the frigate of Oslo class. A submarine moored in the piers, instead of dock, because the docks in Haakonsvern, we have to repeat, are not assigned for submarines, especially nuclear. We presume that the name of this boat is Memphis or Toledo. Both of them are of Los Angeles class submarines. The submarines of this class are of 109,7 meters length, 10,1 meters high and 9,9 meters width. Displacement is of 6000 tons.

The boat coming for the repair had considerable damages in the bow, and that was captured by the means of optical-electronic reconnaissance. The thick rubber-ceramic skin of the submarine was torn off, as a peel from a banana. Obviously the steel inner hall was also damaged.

The boat has been repaired for 8 days. On the August, 27 in second half of day she left the base and has departed to the coast of Britain. The boat doubled the British islands in the east, entered Southampton on the southern coast of England and became on repair in closed dock.


The following is a brief review of all available facts relevant to the accident aboard "Kursk":

"Kursk" is the flagship submarine of Russia's Northern Fleet. It sailed for the first time in 1994 and entered active service in 1995. It is one of the newest Russian submarines and an important element of Russia's national defense.

The submarine's standard crew is 107 men. "Kursk" sank with 118 men aboard. Apparently, the 11 "extra" crew were various Navy officials present onboard to observe training exercises. The complete list of the sub's standard crew was published by the Russian press.

The submarine sank in shallow waters approximately 135 km from the shore. Currently, "Kursk" is resting at the depth of only 108 meters, at a 25-deg nose-down pitch and a 60-deg roll to the right. The sub is located in the middle of an extremely strong localized underwater current.

The rescue buoy was not released. The escape capsule was not used.

The submarine has a large hole along the right side in the forward sections. Scratch marks extend to the fin, which also has some impact damage. The fin never touched the seabed.

Large pieces of the sub's hull are scattered across the seabed.

The submarine left a relatively long trail on the seabed.

All the external masts and the periscope were extended. These systems are extended only when the sub is surfaced, surfacing, or traveling at the periscope depth of about 10 meters. Before the sub dives all masts are retracted inside the hull. This is done even during an rapid emergency dive.

At least five of the nine and perhaps all of the sub's compartments are believed to be flooded. Norwegian divers confirmed that the entire submarine is flooded.

The official Russian government commission concluded that the sub sank because of a powerful explosion onboard. The cause of the explosion is believed to be a collision with an unidentified massive external body with approximate displacement of 7,000-8,000 metric tons traveling at over 6 knots (faster than "Kursk") at the depth of 20-25 meters. The impact was at a 20-30-degree angle between the velocity vectors of "Kursk" and the unidentified external object.

Russian media reports indicate that the external object, which hit "Kursk" was attempting to steer away to the left and down from the Russian submarine in the last moments before the collision.

At the time of the accident, Russian heavy nuclear cruiser "Peter the Great" detected a powerful hydro acoustic compression wave, which may indicate an underwater explosion. The signal's location was calculated, which later allowed to locate "Kursk."

"Peter the Great" also detected green-and-white rescue buoys, which later disappeared. The Russian Navy uses only red-and-white rescue buoys. Green-and-white ones are used by the US, UK, and Norwegian navies.

After locating "Kursk", the cruiser detected a second large object on the bottom of the sea, which was identified as a foreign submarine. Two NATO "Orion" naval reconnaissance aircraft were detected by "Peter the Great" in the area shortly after the accident.

According to unnamed Russian Navy officials quoted by the Russian press, a coded NATO radio communication was intercepted after the explosion aboard "Kursk" was detected. The radio message, addressed to the Norwegian Navy, originated from a NATO submarine, and requested an emergency entry to one of the Norwegian naval bases for a five-day stay.

Russian reconnaissance satellites detected a surfaced Los Angeles class submarine moving toward Norwegian coast at a very low speed. According to unnamed Russian Navy officials, the submarine was later identified as possibly being the SSN 691 Memphis.

The United States government and military officials confirmed that two of their submarines and a reconnaissance vessel, the "Loyal", were observing Russian naval exercises. Americans denied that any of their submarines were involved in the accident with "Kursk."

Vladimir Putin had a lengthy conversation with Bill Clinton about "Kursk," after which he gave the "go ahead" for the Russian Navy to seek foreign help. Putin ordered Russian Navy officials to travel to the NATO headquarter in Brussels and to evaluate NATO's ability to assist with the rescue operation. Russia has officially accepted help offers from the UK and Norway.

On August 17 the head of the CIA, George Tennet, secretly arrived to Moscow from Sofia, Bulgaria. Shortly after Russian journalists became aware of the visit. Bulgarian officials made no secret of the matter and confirmed that the head of the CIA went to Moscow. When confronted by the journalists, Russian officials stated that the unusual visit was related to the situation in Yugoslavia, and not to the accident aboard "Kursk." On the same day Russian reconnaissance satellites confirmed that a US Los Angeles class submarine entered a naval base in Norway.

On May 11, the Russian Military News Agency (AVN) reported that in July-August of 2000 the Northern Fleet will be conducted a training rescue operation. As a part of the operation, one of the Northern Fleet's nuclear submarines was supposed to lay on the seabed at the depth of about 100 meters. The rescue vessel to perform the training rescue mission was identified as "Rudnitsky."

"Mikhail Rudnitsky" rescue vessel was among the first ships to arrive at the site of the accident.

Norway and the United States confirmed that the Los Angeles class submarine SSN 691 Memphis entered a Norwegian naval base for repairs on August 17-18. Americans refused to say when the 'Memphis' requested entry to the base or whether these were planned repairs or an emergency situation.

Russian Federation has officially requested a technical report from Norway detailing the nature of repairs carried out on Memphis.

The head of the Russian parliamentary national security committee, Dmitry Rogozin, said that an international group of experts will investigate a possibility of a collision between "Kursk" and a foreign submarine. Russian Foreign Minister, Igor Ivanov, confirmed this information.

The crash site of "Kursk" is being heavily guarded by several surface vessels and attack submarines of the Northern Fleet. Two research vessels equipped with advances hydro-acoustic systems are mapping the seabed and underwater currents in the area of the accident.

Some Russian regional administration officials from Murmansk area stated that there were two civilian torpedo experts from a military research organization aboard "Kursk" supervising a test-launch of an experimental torpedo that uses liquid propellant.


A Brief History Of US/Russian submarine collisions
Here's a short list of known collisions.

1961 USS Swordfish (SSN-579) is on a spy mission in Soviet waters when a Soviet sub surfaces underneath it.

196? A US sub, possibly USS Skipjack, on a spy mission in Soviet waters, collides with a destroyer. Finally made public in a New York Times article in 1975.

July 1965. USS Medregal rams a Greek freighter.

March 1966. USS Barbel rams a freighter near North Vietnam.

December 1967. USS George C. Marshall (SSBN-654) is grazed by a Russian sub.

October 9, 1968. This appears to be the historical precedent for the Kursk sinking. A Russian sub operating normally collided with an unknown sub in the Barents sea, leaving a sizable hole in the Russian sub. Russian intelligence notes the arrival of a damaged sub in a Norwegian port a few days later.

November 1969. USS Gato's sail hits the hull of a soviet sub.

March 14, 1970. USS Sturgeon bashes her sonar dome against a Russian sub's sail.

June 1970. USS Tautog is rammed by Black Lila. It is erroneously assumed at the time that Black Lila sank.

March 1971. An unnamed US sub operating 12 miles off of the Soviet coast collides with a Russian sub. Reported in the New York Times in 1975.

Mid-1971. USS Dace hits a Russian sub in the Mediterranean.

Late 1971 or early 1972. USS Puffer is trailing a Soviet sub when the Soviet sub unexpectedly dives, bumping into Puffer.

March 1974. USS Pintado rams a Soviet missile boat while on a spy mission in Soviet waters near Petropavlovsk. Reported in the San Diego Evening Tribune in 1975.

November 3rd, 1974. USS James Madison hits an unknown Russian Victor class attack sub in the North Sea. Reported by columnist Jack Anderson.

1981. HMS Sceptre is trailing a Russian sub and rear-ends it.

October 1986. USS Augusta, while testing a new computer sonar system to make detecting enemy subs easier, rams a Soviet sub. The Augusta claims they rammed a Delta class. Others report it was a Yankee missile boat that subsequently sank.

December 24, 1986. HMS Splendid and a Soviet sub were trying to dodge out of each other's way when they collided. HMS Splendid's towed sonar array became tangled in the other sub and was lost.

February 11, 1992. USS Baton Rouge hits a Soviet sub near Murmansk. For the first time, and in response to Yeltsin's demands, the US Navy publicly acknowledges the collision.

March 20, 1993. USS Grayling with a Russian sub in the Barent's Sea.


Collisions between US surface ships and Russian submarines
The above list does NOT include the numerous times that US surface ships have been involved in collisions with Russian submarines.

Click for full size image

The above photo is of a Russian Echo II submarine wallowing with its sail awash following a collision with USS Voge on August 28, 1976. The photo and descrpition is from Jane's Defense.

The above photo is an overhead photo, also from Jane's Defense, of a Russian Echo II submarine running on the surface.

Click for full size image

The above photo is a close up on the sail of the Echo II submarine.


Click for full size image.

Photo of submarines in dry dock.



NEW! MOre excerpts from news reports.
Russian vice-premier: US government concealed Kursk/US sub collision due to US election..

Chaos keeps secrets of Kursk on hold

AMONG those keenest to see the United States election result declared are Russian leaders, with a deputy prime minister saying he then expects the US to come clean about involvement in the sinking of the submarine Kursk.

The Russian vice-premier, Ilia Klebanov, said divers searching the submarine, which went down with all hands in the summer, had found new evidence that it collided with a foreign submarine.

But Mr Klebanov told the Russian media that the US government had been concealing that fact over fears that it would upset the election campaign.

"It was concealed because the United States was preparing for elections. In several days further there will be more information. It was clear it was another submarine - 80 per cent [sure] it was American."

Mr Klebanov is the most senior figure to echo the navy?s insistence that a foreign sub, rather than incompetence, was the reason the Kursk blew up.


Chris Stephen In St Petersburg

Saturday, 11th November 2000 The Scotsman


MOSCOW, Nov 8 (AFP) - Russia has "serious" proof that the Kursk nuclear submarine sank after colliding with another submarine, Interfax cited a top minister leading an investigation into the disaster as saying Wednesday.

Deputy Prime Minister Ilya Klebanov said after a government meeting on the accident that investigators had collected "serious video proof" that the Kursk went down after smashing into another submarine.



Russia claims part of foreign sub found near Kursk

MOSCOW, Aug. 21 (UPI) -- Russian military sources are claiming that a
fragment of railing from a foreign submarine's conning tower was found
Monday on the seabed 1,100 feet away from the wreck of the sunken submarine
Kursk, the official Itar-Tass and Interfax news agencies reported Monday.



The Dossier of the Kursk Murderer Foreign Affairs News Keywords: RUSSIA, KURSK Source: Russia Today Published: August 21, 2000 Posted on 08/21/2000 20:59:43 PDT by Sawdring


On Saturday night, commanders of the Russian Navy confirmed officially that there is not anyone alive on board of Kursk submarine, that sank to the bottom of the Barents Sea a week before. In fact, they have known this since Wednesday ? Segodnya wrote, - but have feared to admit this.

One of the possible versions of the shipwreck is as follows. On the night of August 12, according to the plan of military exercise, Kursk was to carry out a night torpedo attack on a training military target from the periscope depth. At the depth of 25 meters, when the submarine was going up, it hit a large underwater object, which was moving at much higher speed at the same depth or a little higher. The moving object has been identified as "foreign nuclear multi-purpose submarine".

The two submarines were aware about the presence of each other, but could have had problems with hydro-acoustic signals at that very moment, because they were both near the surface of water. According to the preliminary observations, the two submarines collided at the angle of 20 to 30 degrees. The dynamic blow was the equivalent of a 100 to 150 kilogram trotil explosion and was registered by Norwegian seismologists. The blow hit a place on Kursk where its two largest modules were connected ? the first torpedo module and the second command module. The combat alarm was sounded at Kursk before the explosion and the crew was at its posts, according to combat schedules. This means that around forty crew members who were in the first and in the second modules died immediately.

In the meantime, the killer submarine continued its destruction of Kursk. Moving very tightly to Kursk, it must have opened its light shell up to the sixth module, and the strong shell ? up to the fourth module. It operated like a can opener with its right horizontal stabilizer on the side of Kursk.

The situation at Kursk was desperate, as the water flooded the first module in no time, drowning the power supply. The submarine became de-energized and its nuclear engine was turned off by its protection system. The

submarine started to fall on the sea bottom at a 45 degree trim by the bow.

The killer-submarine must have had large injuries as well. There could be parts of its light shell on board the Kursk and on the sea bottom. Still, its energy system continued to operate, and this enabled the crew to liquidate the leak and to move away from the catastrophe zone, hiding in the hydro-acoustic shades of Russian ships.

Monday, August 21, Segodnya.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Things To Do

Tracy and I are moving our bedroom from the upstairs MBR to the downstairs MBR. The kids wanted to all sleep in the same room, barracks style, so I am making loft beds for them. Each of their beds will have their dresser and built in shelves underneath. We moved their game room from downstairs to one of the bedrooms upstairs, and the third bedroom up there will be a spare bedroom for guests.

Anyway, we had a lot of stuff to move from the downstairs MBR, which had been an office/craft room/storage room. While moving things, Tracy found one of my journals from when I was on submarines in the Navy. In one of them, I had written a list of things I wanted to do when we returned from a six month deployment. I remember making that list! I thought I would make a quick list again of some things I would like to do...

1. Go hiking and mountain biking in Moab, Utah.
2. Photographic tour of Italy, including Rome, Venice, and Florence.
3. Spend a few days hanging out in Chicago, New York, San Francisco, and Montreal.
4. Go sailing on Hobie Cats again.
5. Be able to run with the speed and agility that I had when I was in my early 20's (before six knee surgeries and an ankle reconstruction).
6. Climb to the top of Mount Vesuvius outside of Pompeii, Italy with Tracy and the kids.
7. See my three boys grow up to be men of strong character.
8. Learn to make pottery on a potter's wheel.
9. Go on a real honeymoon with Tracy for one of our anniversary dates coming up...
10. Have a motorcycle again, and hit 150 mph (to beat my previous record of about 140mph) ...this is counter-productive to #7, and I won't risk it...

It would be fun to go on and on, but I have some things to get done. If I run across that Navy list, I will post it here.

Take care,

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Cash or Credit?

Josh, our 10 year old, has been working at Nemo's with Tracy this summer. He has always helped out on Saturdays by working the cash register. He also has made himself drinks at the espresso bar (decaf). Over the last couple of weeks, though, he has gotten really excited about learning to run the bar, making drinks for customers. He is doing a really great job. We have several regulars who specifically ask to have Josh make their drinks. Tracy has been paying him about $10 a day when he works with her for a couple of hours... Things have 'clicked' in Josh's mind as far as hard work equals a $$ reward!
We do have quite a few Health Department employees come in the shop, as the Health Dept building is just a block away. One of them told Tracy that Josh could not work behind the counter. Tracy explained that he is our son, and we don't have a problem with it, provided he stays focused and does a good job. They said children could not work in this capacity, so Tracy asked what county regulation prohibits it. She said if it is in writing as a policy, then we would abide by it. The Health Dept called a little while later and said it turns out there are no written regulations prohibiting it. They asked us to utilize the Health Dept policy manual to train Josh, and to especially teach him safe food handling regulations, which we will do...

I took Josh to a sporting goods store today to get him some cleats for baseball, and to get him and Jonah some baseball uniform pants. Josh saw some Heelies (shoes with wheels, which I despise!) and wanted to get them. I told him that if he wants them, he would have to save his money and get them later. He pleaded with me to loan him the money so that he could get them right away. When I told him no, he got really frustrated with me. I explained to him that he needs to get in the habit of saving for things he wants, instead of buying them on credit. It is not good to owe money for things you want... He didn't take much interest in my reasoning. I told him that he may be frustrated about not getting the Heelies today, but that he would be thankful later (as an adult) if I help him to develop good financial habits now. He said he would rather just 'Thank me' today for getting the Heelies, instead of thanking me later as an adult! Well, I stuck to my guns and told him to save his money and buy them when he has cash. We are not going to do advances on allowance, or on payments for working at Nemo's. He finally accepted the fact that I was not going to change my mind. I know he does not see the value in this lesson now, but I fully intend to teach all three of our kids good financial habits now so that they have the foundation to be financially responsible as adults. It took me a lot of decades to see the value of it... I wish I had been more responsible starting in my 20's instead of in my late 30's or early 40's...

Josh was disappointed today, but he certainly will thank me when he is 30.
Cash, cash, cash, cash, cash... No credit.


Nemo's Coffee reviewed by nationally acclaimed author

A local author (known nation-wide) recently visited us and she wrote a review...
Here is what she had to say about us:

Nemo's Coffee - Guest Review

20,000 leagues of coffee


by Donita K. Paul, author of The Dragon Keeper Chronicles

Retail coffee? What is that? Entire shops dedicated to a quick cup of zooped-up caffeine or de-zooped coffee. Incorporated in places to indulge have multiplied like a virus. Thank heavens for an alternative—a place with competitive prices, and a non-manufactured, cookie-cut atmosphere.

Nemo’s Coffee is managed and owned by Tracy Anderson who has been in coffee for fifteen years! I wanted to backtrack in the conversation and ask how someone can be in coffee, but our chat barreled along and I never found out. Her coffee shop is the in place for the savvy folks of the neighborhood.

Her husband, a retired Navy officer, spent some time on submarines and taught about nuclear submarines when he wasn’t submerged in the ocean. Captain Nemo in 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea inspired the name of their shop. Their three young sons may identify more with a lost Nemo fish. All in all, it seemed like a fun name to label a family enterprise.

Walking into Nemo’s Coffee feels like stepping into a home, a home with friendly hostesses and the owner ready to tempt your palate with delicious entrees. Deep couches, clean tables, and plenty of elbow room—my kind of place. There’s no rushed, hoity-toity feeling here. Although the clientèle are here for lunch, somehow the room doesn’t exude the ambiance of the corporate coffee dens.

At Nemo’s, all the cups are different — different colors, shapes, and sizes. The chairs and tables are varied in size, shape, and even height. Seems to me like someone visited used furniture shops, then refinished and polished up some real gems.

You can go in to this almost hidden coffee shop, find a corner you love and just be. Did I mention that the strip mall Nemo’s calls home is over forty years old? You can order to go, but why leave? This is a place where you can settle in, take out your laptop, and work.

Enjoy a sandwich made by the owner. Sip on a good cup of java. Instead of substitutes, she uses naturally flavored syrups in her coffee, and real fruit in her smoothies. Organic espresso? How cool is that!

Because Mrs. Anderson is a part of the community (she’s a third generation native, and her husband is fourth generation—an extreme rarity in Colorado), she has a great deal of involvement in Colorado Springs. Local artists and children hang pictures on her walls, local musicians come to play in the background. She donates the profits of special biscotti to the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation. Writers groups meet here. The Anderson children hang out. Her photographer husband runs his business from there and contributes stunning pictures to the décor.

On the wall now are huge, colorful paintings by local artist, Nikki Connon. Heirloom, a back home type band that plays alternative instruments like a washboard, and standards in some circles like a banjo, are playing one evening this week.

This little coffee shop is close to the Olympic Training Center, Printer’s Parkway, an old, old (maybe even historic) golf course, and Memorial Park. Nemo’s is definitely in a part of older Colorado Springs. The location is ideal for a meeting place.

A different cup of coffee. A different type of shop. A perfect place for someone who likes different, and I do!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Anonymous Commenter's Questions

I received the following comments on the blog today:

So how is the coffee shop going? My fiancee is starting one soon and your blog has been VERY helpful to us! We would like to know what your buildout cost was, and what your utilities are (not in $ but in kilowatts.)

We'd also love a synopsis of your experience - the amount of time each phase took - the amount of time you expected each phase to take - whether you would do it again, knowing what you know now - what you would have done differently - different equipment you would have purchased, if any. Thanks!

I don't have time to go back and research different Phases in detail, but here are some basic, high level answers:

1. Yes, we would do it all over again. It is very rewarding (personal growth, not financially, yet) and educational...

2. My buildout cost will not be helpful to you, unfortunately. I am a Construction Manager by trade, and I am an experienced woodworker. My friend Ryan is a General Contractor and he was looking for some projects to do to get his name out there (translates to FREE, except I bought him a new Canon DSLR)... Ryan and I (and his small crew) did all of the demo work, framed all walls, installed all of the flooring, did all of the concrete work, built the cabinets, book cases, retail shelves, pastry case, completed all of the painting, built the stock room shelves, etc. We hired out the plumbing, electrical, drywall and ceiling grid, and countertops.

Prior to this project, Tracy and I were looking at building a new commercial building and having a 1600 sq ft coffee shop there. The rough quote for design/build on the coffee shop fit and finish was $150,000. I have not broken construction costs out from our total start up budget, but we did 2000 square feet for approximately $65,000 (just guessing- this is for construction only, not equipment). A quick comparison would be $94 per square foot on the design/build, and our project was $33 per square foot. Keep in mind, though, we built a very nice shop. Most shops are not nearly as nice (custom wood work using Padauk and Maple, tile and hardwood flooring throughout, recessed lighting and custom fixtures instead of flourescent, etc, etc). The $94 per square foot was not for high end stuff like we did.

3. We bought some used equipment and some new equipment. I had a blog post previously about the pros and cons of going new or used. Overall, I recommend used. Go back through my blog and find that post. I think it will be very helpful.

4. Our utilities are about $450/month in the Winter, and about $675/month in the summer with AC running. I'd have to look at the electric bills to determine KW usage.

5. Expect everything to take longer than expected. If you have to go through Regional Building Department, there will be delays. They may also require you to have formal architect stamped plans and engineer stamps on your plumbing and electrical, etc... We spent $5700 or so on an architect, several thousand on mechanical and electrical engineering, $500 or so for energy loss calculations for mechanical systems, etc. The city required us to have a grease trap, and that was an enormous fight. They asked for a $45,000 system, including a subgrade interceptor under the parking lot outside. After months of fighting and hiring professionals (engineers) to illustrate our side, we ended up calling a truce and met in the middle of what was actually needed. The final deal was that we had to put in a trap that cost $2000 instead of $350 (the cheaper version is what we actually needed by engineer's calculations), that we have to document weekly inspections and cleanings of the grease trap, and that we are prohibited from ever installing a garbage disposal or dishwasher/sanitizer. They are very serious about the documentation, which I have to keep up to date in case of surprise inspections by the Wastewater division of CS Utilities. This grease trap deal was a nightmare and cost us a couple extra thousand dollars by the time you count installation, concrete work, steel grating over the top of it, cost of the unit, etc. You will surely have one or more rediculous items to contend with, and if you don't comply, you don't get to open your shop...

6. Contractors don't care about you or your schedule. You are a one time customer. If they have other customers that give them frequent work, they will drop you like a bad case of stomach flu in order to keep their consistent customers happy. You can scream, complain, beg, plead, threaten to sue, etc and nothing will have an effect. They will work on your shop when and if it is convenient for them. You can get around this by having a formal contract, with schedule included, and a clause for liquidated damages if they are late. However, you will owe them more money if anything outside of their control holds them up! Yes, if another contractor gets in their way, damages their work, etc they will charge you for liquidated damages as well. A savvy contractor will figure out how to double their price with change orders if you have a contract like this. You don't want to go that route unless you are a Construction Manager by trade and can keep things on track, and control EVERYTHING. If not, you are better off putting up with their lack of attention to your project and having some construction delays...

Monday, June 2, 2008

My Near Death Experience (well, one of them)

In 1988, I was on the USS Memphis (SSN-691). I was a Reactor Operator in the nuclear program, but I was also the ship’s Dive Division Leading Petty Officer. Most Squadron Eight submarine divers did not get a chance to dive, other than security swims in port and occasional proficiency dives. Our commanding officer saw things differently. He believed in utilizing all of his resources, all the time. If he believed there was a need to put divers in the water, in we went. As a result, I completed dive operations all over the world, including in the Arctic Circle off the Northern coast of Russia (USSR at the time, deep in the Cold War), the Bermuda Triangle, Andros Island in the Bahamas, St. Croix in the Virgin Islands, Bergen Norway, Naples Italy, Palau Sardinia, Toulon France, Plymouth England, Puerto Rico, Ft Lauderdale, Charleston, Norfolk, Annapolis Maryland, Groton Connecticut, as well as other locations I’m sure…

During a six month Mediterranean Run, we stopped at La Madelena, Sardinia for a six week refit. It was arranged for us divers to spend a few days completing routine dives with the submarine tender divers (real Navy divers, who dive day in and day out, as opposed to having dive responsibilities as a collateral duty, like me).
Up to this point, I had made numerous dives, some in very dangerous conditions. I had never been scared to complete a dive, although I did swim through a pack of open water barracuda (about 2 ½ to 4 feet long) 90 miles off the coast of Panama City, Florida, ran into a few sharks in the Bahamas and in open water in the Atlantic, and did a night dive in St Croix in shark infested waters (what you know is out there that you can’t see is more nerve racking than just confronting it face to face). There were also dives that were dangerous due to the scope of work and surrounding hazards. Not once, though, was I ever nervous or afraid to complete a dive. The first morning that Erin Wining and I were assigned to the tender divers, we were told that we would be completing a bottom survey out in the bay in La Mad. The bottom depth was 138 feet, and visibility was relatively poor, at about 10 feet. It was an overcast day, and the seas were a little choppy, but not bad. It was decided that me and one of the tender divers would do the bottom survey. For the first time ever, I was really uptight about completing a dive. I was not scared, but I was really uneasy. It was a feeling I had not experienced before, and I wasn’t sure why I felt that way. I did not discuss it with anyone. It really wouldn’t go over well with a bunch of divers to say you didn’t feel good about the upcoming dive. That would have brought on an onslaught of ridicule. “Regular” Navy Divers did not seem to have much regard for submarine Scuba Divers as it is. The depth of 138 feet did not bother me, as I had completed dives to 180 feet on scuba in the Bermuda Triangle, and to 120 feet off the coast of Panama City, Florida. I knew how my body reacted at those depths, and I had never experienced nitrogen narcosis. I was in amazing physical condition at that time in my life.

The tender divers had dropped a buoy the day before, so our plan was to descend to the bottom by following the buoy anchor line. We would then attach a rope to the buoy anchor with knots at 10’ increments. You pull the search rope taught to the first knot and do a complete 360 degree circle, searching the bottom as you go. You then let out more search rope, to the second knot, and do another search circle at 20 feet in diameter. You continue until complete, and then move the anchor buoy to a new location if doing a larger area.

Me and a tender diver checked our equipment and got ready for the dive. We were in wetsuits, double scuba tanks, and typical dive gear consisting of buoyancy compensators, US Diver regulator, depth gauge, mask, fins, and a very large dive knife. We did not use a tending line back to the surface, as we had a buoy anchor line to follow to the bottom. Following the same line back to the surface would bring us back to the dive barge. We both entered the water and started our descent. We descended at approximately one foot per second, so the total descent time was just over two minutes. At the bottom, the water was a greenish/brownish/yellowish murky color, with about ten foot visibility. Our dive plan was to not exceed a depth of 130 feet, and we were to swim at 130’ while viewing the bottom, which varied between 135 and 138 feet. The bottom was just brown, murky, silt with a flat contour, with the exception of an occasional large rock outcropping on the bottom. We quickly attached our search rope and stretched it taught to the first knot at 10’. To this point, I felt fine, and had not experienced any nitrogen narcosis or other effects. The feelings of foreboding while preparing for the dive had been forgotten. Once I was in the routine of donning my gear, and getting into the water, I forgot all about the uneasy feelings I had experienced.
The Dive Master had specifically stated that we were not to exceed 130’ for our bottom depth. As we began to swim our first search circle, I held my depth gauge in one hand to keep an eye on it. As we swam, I veered off course and struck the bottom. I checked my depth gauge and it read 135 feet. I returned to 130’ and continued to swim in the search circle and again veered off course towards the bottom, and struck the bottom. I stood up vertical and immediately felt dizzy, and everything went black from my peripheral vision. It was like looking into a black tunnel. The blackness closed from the outside in, and I realized that I was struggling to maintain consciousness. I have accomplished many difficult feats in my lifetime, but it took every bit of my concentration, and every ounce of effort I could muster to maintain a sense of consciousness. What was left of my vision, which I was holding onto by a thin thread, was blurry. I don’t know how much time had passed, but I noticed the tender diver come into view (I could only see directly in front of me, like a thin tunnel; everything else had gone black). I realized I was in serious trouble and I gave him the emergency signal: I flashed him a triple four (hold up four fingers three times in a row). This signal means you are in trouble and you need assistance getting to the surface. He made an ‘OK’ sign with his fingers and motioned for me to follow him. He took off for the surface, and expected me to follow him. My vision was still badly impaired, I was dizzy and disoriented, and I was starting to feel nauseous. I started swimming in the direction the tender diver had gone, but I could no longer tell which way was up, down, or sideways. I could barely make out his shape, disappearing rapidly in the limited visibility. I followed him as quickly as I could, but it didn’t take long before he was out of sight. I found myself in a murky environment nearly 130 feet underwater, on the very edge of consciousness, with tunnel vision, and feeling very disoriented and confused.
I was trying to think of how to get out of this situation, but nothing made sense to me. When looking around, I could see a bright spot, but I couldn’t remember what that meant (it was where the sun was shining on the surface, and that is where I wanted to go, but I couldn’t figure it out). I remembered that my exhaled bubbles would go up, and I decided to follow them. I did a fairly reasonable job of following my bubbles, but I was still on the verge of losing consciousness, very confused, and I was having a hard time swimming in any given direction. Through the haze of my thoughts, I remembered that I had a depth gauge. I started watching it in order to determine which way was up. The last depth I remember seeing on the gauge was 85’.

The next thing I knew, someone was shaking me by the shoulders. I opened my eyes and felt the burn of salt water. I realized that my dive mask was full of water. I pulled my mask out and exhaled through my nose and got rid of most of the water in my mask. Much better… I was feeling very nauseous, very confused, and I couldn’t figure out why it was so hard to move my legs. I looked down and saw that my legs were partially buried in the silt on the bottom. I was still trying to kick my legs to swim, but I was essentially partially buried. The other diver in front of me was screaming at me underwater, but I could not understand what he was saying. My head was absolutely pounding, and things started to go black again. I heard air flowing in a burst, and felt myself being propelled through the water. The tender diver had admitted air into my buoyancy compensator to bring me to the surface. Once again, I was barely conscious, but I remember him admitting air into my vest, and then releasing it as we neared the surface to keep our ascent controlled. We finally broke the surface, and I was still dazed and confused. I heard people yelling my name, but I couldn’t figure out where it was coming from. After a minute or two, my head started to clear a little, and I realized the people yelling at me were the crew on the dive barge behind me. I turned around and slowly swam back to the dive barge. Within minutes of being topside, all of my symptoms were gone, except for the worst headache I had ever had. My head was pounding and pounding. I could feel every heartbeat in my head like a sledge hammer blow. The Master Diver was asking me questions, and I was trying my hardest to understand him and answer. My ability to think clearly came back to me, as my headache slowly subsided. I realized that I had come very close to dying that day, and I will never forget the look on the Master Diver’s face as he was talking to me. I’m sure the look on my face was that of a man who had just had a near-death experience. The look on the Master Diver’s face was the look of a man whose 25+ year career had almost gone down in flames.

Careful research of the symptoms I had experienced indicated that I had suffered from hypercapnia. That is an elevated level of carbon dioxide in your bloodstream. Here is a definition and symptoms from a medical reference:

Hypercapnia is generally caused by hypoventilation, lung disease, or diminished consciousness. It may also be caused by exposure to environments containing abnormally high concentrations of carbon dioxide (usually due to volcanic or geothermal causes), or by rebreathing exhaled carbon dioxide.

Symptoms of early hypercapnia, where arterial carbon dioxide pressure, PaCO2, is elevated but not extremely so, include flushed skin, full pulse, extrasystoles (The symptoms of extrasystoles are familiar to anyone who has ever been startled and felt his or her heart had "skipped a beat." The extrasystole sometimes presents itself as one or two extra heartbeats. On other occasions, there will be a beat followed by a long silence, then a couple of quick beats. Some people experience a feeling of giddiness, shortness of breath, and weakness, with momentary feelings of blacking out. These symptoms, if they are prolonged (particularly if they are associated with loss of consciousness), usually indicate that a sustained arrhythmia is occurring, an experience that should be reported to a doctor), muscle twitches, hand flaps, reduced neural activity, and possibly a raised blood pressure. In severe hypercapnia (generally PaCO2 greater than 100 hPa or 75 mmHg), symptomatology progresses to disorientation, panic, hyperventilation, convulsions, unconsciousness, and eventually death.

Laboratory Values
Hypercapnia is generally defined as a blood gas carbon dioxide level over 45 mmHg. Since carbon dioxide is in equilibrium with bicarbonate in the blood, hypercapnia can also result in a high serum bicarbonate (HCO3-) concentration. Normal bicarbonate concentrations vary from 22 to 28 milligrams per deciliter.

Following this event, I learned that the tender diver received my emergency signal, but violated dive procedures by leaving me to my own devices. This signal requires you to assist the other diver, and maintain eye contact with the other diver all the way to the surface. He motioned for me to follow, and then he ascended all the way to the surface without noticing that I was no longer behind him. It took him a little over two minutes to ascend, during which time I was struggling to get to the surface. I made it to 85 feet before I lost consciousness and sank back to the bottom. Unfortunately, I was still attempting to swim subconsciously, and I swam away from our dive site while sinking back to the bottom. Once he informed the Master Diver of what had transpired, and the fact that I had not surfaced, they all knew they had a very serious situation on their hands. The Master Diver sent the tender diver back down for me immediately. It took him a couple more minutes to descend to the bottom, and another five minutes to find me approximately 150 feet from our intended bottom search location and buoy anchor. He then helped me to clear my mask, inflated my buoyancy compensator, and brought me to the surface. For some reason, he then left me in the water to my own devices again, although my mind was so foggy I did not recall where I was, and I could not figure out who was calling my name!

Unfortunately, I do not remember the names of any of the tender divers. My thoughts of my dive partner that day are bitter sweet. If he had followed proper procedures, he would have brought me to the surface at the onset of my symptoms and avoided most of the dangerous aspect of this dive. He failed to follow basic Navy Dive Protocol by abandoning me. But…. He did return to the bottom, find me, and get me to the surface, thus saving my life.

By all common logic, I should have been dead long before he returned to the bottom to find me. I am actually lucky that he was even able to find me. The visibility was poor, and I could have been in any direction, any distance away from our intended dive site. The fact that he found me, 140’ outside of his visible range is amazing. For me to be unconscious 138’ underwater for eight to ten minutes, on scuba, with a standard regulator in my mouth and survive is unheard of. You could propose this situation to any professional diver and ask them the chances of surviving and the answer would be 0%, across the board. There is not a professional diver on Earth who would evaluate this set of circumstances and predict a survival.

So why am I still here, among the living? The only reason is that I did not lose the regulator out of my mouth, even when unconscious for approximately ten minutes. The fact that my face mask was full of water makes this even more of a mystery. I don’t know if I hit the bottom face first, knocking my mask askew and allowing it to fill with water. I may have tried to pull it off in a subconscious effort. Who knows?? If I had tried to breath through my nose for even one breath, I have no doubt it would have caused me to choke and cough, expelling the regulator from my mouth. I would have surely drowned in that case. The fact that the regulator did not fall out of my mouth when I was unconscious is miraculous in itself. I AM A DEAD MAN WALKING.

I recently read the book called Lone Survivor by Marcus Luttrell. I have spoken about him and his experience in Afghanistan previously in my blog. I won’t go into those details again now, but he described in his book how he felt God’s presence on that fateful day. There is no reason for him to have survived, but he is absolutely sure God was with him. I believe the same occurred for me that day in the Mediterranean. I believe I survived the ‘unsurvivable’ through divine intervention.

Everyone has to confront the following question at some point in their lives:

“Does God exist?”

Basically, you get three options.
1. No, I don’t believe God exists.
2. Yes, I believe God exists, but I’m not going to follow Him.
3. Yes, I believe in God, and I give my life over to Him.

Technically, there is a fourth possibility, and that is for the undecided. I don’t really see that as a true fourth option, but more of a situation where someone is in a holding pattern until they choose one of the three options above.

I have always felt like I had a special purpose in life. I could never put my finger on it, but I always felt as if I were meant to do something beyond just living, doing my job, having kids, paying the bills, etc. I honestly believe I survived that day because God had something planned for me, and I had not yet accomplished whatever it was. I’m not sure what it is about a near-death experience, but it causes one to think about these things. The result of my experience is that I absolutely believe that God exists, and I absolutely believe that He is in control, and has a plan for each of us.
Once you believe in God, you can have varying amounts of faith in Him, in the bible, and in the knowledge that a spiritual realm exists. Surviving a dive that should have killed me is the single biggest event in my life that defines my faith in God. We are all exposed to the thought that God might exist through Sunday School, family or friends who believe, the bible, movies, books, television, and our own innate curiosity.
There is nothing like surviving certain death to create a solid faith in God. That is where my faith comes from, and it grows as I have additional life experiences.

Even if you have never had a potentially deadly experience, you still have to choose one of the three options above regarding God. Which one do you choose?