There is no need at all to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch out one's hand and say, “Lord, as you will, and as you know, have mercy.” And if the conflict grows fiercer say, “Lord help!” God knows very well what we need and He shows us His mercy.
Abba Macarius

«— Destruction of Serbian Church
—» Obama and Islam

New US Subs Trade Nukes for SEALs

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When I was in “A” school, I really wanted to be on one of these, the best of both worlds of submarine life: the large, spacious living of a Trident submarine with the missions and port calls (we all hoped) of an attack submarine.

The Ohio is the first of a new class of submarine created in a conversion of 1970s vessels by trading nuclear-tipped ICBMs for conventional cruise missiles and a contingent of commandos ready to be launched onto virtually any shore through rejiggered missile tubes – against conventional forces or terrorists.

The sub’s cruise across the Pacific comes as China builds its submarine fleet into the region’s largest as part of the bulking up of its military. The voyage is the Ohio’s first deployment since the makeover, and Hale is in the odd position of showing the ship off.

It’s odd because the sub is all about stealth.

Hale can’t talk about where the ship is going. The back of the ship, where the nuclear power plant is located, is off limits. The leader of the SEAL commando contingent aboard can’t be named and the commandos themselves can’t be photographed in any way that shows their faces.

Read it all: New US Subs Trade Nukes for SEALs

The article mentions that Tridents are larger than attack submarines, but “still cramped.” Harumpf. No one ever hot-racks on a Trident. Ever. And apparently, the main passageway on a Trident is wide enough to allow for the span of a man’s arms. Mind-boggling. I have intentionally avoided the opportunities to “see the other side” that have come my way.

After reading most of this article (asking myself, “Does it have decent information for family and friends, or is it degraded beyond usefulness?”), I went surfing and found this video of the famous Typhoon class submarine, featured most memorably as the Red October in the movie and novel by Tom Clancy, The Hunt for Red October. (The music in the video is Basil Poledouris’ “Hymn to Red October,” from the film score.) Although the fictional submarine is named after the relatively recent revolution, Russia’s actual ships bear names from far deeper in their history — names like Dmitri Donskoi and Yuri Dolgorukiy.

Submariners are the same the world over, it seems, wearing coveralls and “underway sweaters.”

As for the title of the AP article… If only we could “trade nukes for SEALs”! (Submariners and airedales will get the joke.)

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Filed under: — Basil @ 9:43 pm

«— Station the Maneuvering Watch!
—» Joyeux Noël

The Ship is Moored!

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We successfully passed sea trials, with very few deficiencies. Every gave us BZs for a job well done.

Being fully qualified and authorized to wear the dolphins is still elusive. The submarine force instruction directs that a sailor shall qualify in “less than six months, three months of which shall be on an operational submarine (i.e. not in the shipyard).” The scuttlebutt is that all the requests (of which there are many) for waivers were denied. Interestingly, the ship enters a modernization period in the spring, so there won’t be enough operational time to fulfill the requirement. Even with already a month on an operational sub (from riding USS Providence back in May), I would not see three months until summer ’07 sometime. Other non-qualified sailors would be waiting even longer.

Reminds me of the old proverb about what awaits those who ask for God to grant them patience: He rewards them with many circumstances that teach them to be patient.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 1:26 pm

«— Patron of Submariners
—» The Ship is Moored!

Station the Maneuvering Watch!

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Sometime betweeen now and late this week, USS Jacksonville will cast off lines and get underway for the first time in over two and a half years. This would be a bad luck boat, if there ever was one. They say that if you treat your ship right, she’ll treat you right. It’s hard to take any pride in a boat that’s collided with other ships three times. Good thing I don’t believe in luck.

Of your mercy, please remember the unworthy servant of God, Basil, in your prayers when a petition is invoked for those who travel “by land or by sea.” As mentioned earlier, Saint Nicholas is the patron of mariners. Saint Pantaleon is the patron of military men and women.

(Rumor has it that all of us who have passed our boards will be pinned sometime in the next few days, perhaps before or just after getting underway. My chief had me get dolphin patches for my uniform just in case.)

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Filed under: — Basil @ 11:14 am

«— Learn Something New Every Day
—» Station the Maneuvering Watch!

Patron of Submariners

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Saint Nicholas: Discovering the Truth About Santa Claus

Happy Saint Nicholas Day. This site has all kind of resources to show you who St Nicholas was. I love the Western image that’s most prominent on the front page: Bishop Nicholas’ crozier has a ship in its crook. Beautiful.

Saint Nicholas, pray for us, the crew of this thrice ill-fated submarine, that we may be protected from every adversary as we travel below the surface of the sea in the depths that only the Lord and his saints perceive. By the prayers of the Mother of God and the power of the Lord who appeared to you in a vision, manifest your friendship to us as you did of old by appearing to the terrified sailors and saving them from destruction, that like them we may glorify the almighty God who has worked such wonders through you. Intercede for us before the holy and life-giving Trinity, whose name of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, we ever praise and glorify, that we may have health and life in this age and in the age to come, amen.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:51 pm

«— Under Where?
—» Congress Bars Funeral Protesters

Surface! Surface! Surface!

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I’m back. It looks like I’m going to be attending the annual pilgrimage at St. Tikhon’s Monastery this Memorial Day, so try to find me if you’re there. Leave a comment or email me if you want to meet somewhere.

To answer Tabitha’s question on the previous post, “smooth sailing” is a perfectly appropriate blessing for a submariner, especially since the perfectly round hull of a submarine tends to roll (list from side to side) a lot more than a surface ship. Surface ships have keels designed to cut through the surface of the water and stabilized the ship, whereas submarines (since the innovative USS Albacore design) are built to perform better underwater.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 3:08 pm

«— Male activists want to opt-out of unplanned pregnancies
—» Jesus Decoded

New Navy Uniforms Finally Approved by CNO

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CNO Approves New Navy Uniforms

“These are good uniforms, designed to support the modern Sailor,” said Mullen. “Durability, safety, ease of wear and cleaning were all factors that weighed heavily on my mind, as did, quite frankly, the survey data and the opinions of wear testers. This wasn’t a popularity contest by any stretch, but we would have been foolish not to consider the opinions of the men and women who will wear these uniforms.”

The BDU-style working uniform, designed to replace seven different styles of current working uniforms, is made of a near maintenance-free permanent press 50/50 nylon and cotton blend. Worn with a blue cotton t-shirt, it will include an eight-point cover, a black web belt with closed buckle, and black smooth leather boots, with black suede no-shine boots for optional wear while assigned to non-shipboard commands.

“When I walk down the piers, I see a Sailors standing watch as a pier sentry in January and it’s 30 degrees and freezing rain,” Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/AW) Terry Scott said. “You have to ask yourself, does the uniform that we currently issue protect us, and the answer is no.”

The scuttlebutt is that this probably still won’t make it to seabags before the fall of 2007 (FY08).

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:44 am

«— Blogger: 404 – Page not found
—» Serenity Reviewed by Orson Scott Card

Military Warns Combat Bloggers

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Military Warns Combat Bloggers

“The enemy aggressively ‘reads’ our open source and continues to
exploit such information for use against our forces,� he wrote. “Some
soldiers continue to post sensitive information to Internet Web sites
and blogs. … Such OPSEC violations needlessly place lives at risk and
degrade the effectiveness of our operations.�

The thumb-rule given to Sailors in boot camp: “You’re here to defend liberty, not practice it.”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:52 pm

«— Frist’s Flop: Some Implications in the NYT Article
—» Sheehan Backstory

Destroyer Dwarfs Barge

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DDG 71 – 3

Originally uploaded by Kevin Basil.

Destroyers are small ships by comparison to cruisers and carriers, but they can still dwarf smaller vessels like barges and patrol craft. Believe it or not, this is the first surface ship I’ve seen since joining the Navy in February 2004.

My dad was surface navy. He served as a parachute rigger on USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and at the testing facility at China Lake. Then, from 1980 until his retirment in 1992, he served as a chaplain at a series of commands on the east coast and in Okinawa, Japan.

When we were stationed at Charleston, SC, in the mid-80’s, my dad took me aboard one of the destroyers he served aboard (he was technically attached as chaplain for the squadron). This probably marks one of the most important childhood moments that made Navy life attractive to me after being laid off from Lexmark.

Hopefully, I’ll get to tour this baby and report back.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 12:45 pm

«— Portsmouth Area
—» Like “Crocodile” But Not Spelled That Way

Personal Update

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Portsmouth is a wonderful little community. Downtown is full of these great little shops and eateries. I haven’t been into the shops yet, but the eateries are way too expensive. Oh, wait. I have been into a little independent bookseller. Very nice, but small. It was good to talk again to people like the folks I used to work with at Joseph-Beth.

Read the rest of “Personal Update”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 4:52 pm

«— Shedding Tears for Strangers by Frank Schaeffer
—» General Defends Treatment Of Detainees

Fanboys

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fans in window and bedside junkThe powers controlling the HVAC in the barracks have not yet seen fit to kill the heat and resurrect the A/C. It’s been a sweltering pit in my room.

Until today. I augmented Little Boy there, which was admittedly doing little in terms of pulling outside air in. What can I say? Big Boy is a stud. Within an hour, it was cool in the room.

Ah, relief.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 8:42 pm

«— Trent Reznor Awarded Nearly $3 Million – Yahoo! News
—» Fanboys

Shedding Tears for Strangers by Frank Schaeffer

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FrontPage magazine.com :: Shedding Tears for Strangers by Frank Schaeffer

Before my son went to war I never would have shed tears for them. My son humbled me. My son connected me to my country. He taught me that our men and women in uniform are not the “other.”

I have had a similar experience by becoming a serviceman myself.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 5:55 am

«— Explorer Rehabilitated
—» Study Supports Church Practice

A Tale of Two Stories

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“It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.” So begins Charles Dickens’ classic story of two cities. I am rather fascinated by the two opposing stories of Guantanamo Bay detainees that are circulating in the press. There is the obvious “detainees are abused” story, which is the most popular in mainstream media. However, conservative bloggers often scour the internet and find an overlooked story which is very different. The two stories are so different that they cannot both be true. Perhaps both are false; however, if one is true, the other must be false.

Take these two articles published by the Department of Defense news service:

Navy Dentist Stays Busy at Guantanamo Bay Detainee Camp
A human interest feature story highlighting the dental care received by detainees by a U. S. Navy dentist.
Guantanamo Detainees Receiving ‘First-Rate’ Medical Care
“‘It’s not that we like hanging around the bad guys,’ he said. ‘The thing about it is that the job we do for a living is a very humane one, and we just keep that mindset.'”

Add these two examples to other under-reported stories — such as ones relating that interrogators at Guantanamo Bay are hamstrung by policies which restrict them from being any more aggressive than my RDCs were in boot camp, sometimes much less aggressive — and one is hard-pressed to envision exactly how this is being tortuous.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 3:06 pm

«— Learning from Others’ Mistakes
—» Explorer Rehabilitated

USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) Commissioned

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USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23) was commissioned today in a ceremony here in Groton, Connecticut. The new submarine replaces the USS Parche, a special operations submarine which was decommissioned in October of last year. USS Jimmy Carter will be capable, according to the linked article above, of speeds in excess of 45 knots (52 mph). (I can neither confirm nor deny that fact; I merely quote the article. However, official sources usually state speeds in excess of 25 knots [29 mph].) President Carter spoke at the ceremony (which I did not attend) and said in prepared remarks that having a submarine named for him is “the most deeply appreciated and emotional honor I’ve ever had.”

According to several public sources, citing military analysts, the new submarine will be able to wiretap communications cables. Analysts infer this because the Jimmy Carter replaces the Parche, which was formerly used for the task (see Blind Man’s Bluff by Sherry Sontag and Christopher Drew). In any case, the Navy has publically stated that the submarine will perform special operations and reconnaissance missions.

Unfortunately, some rather silly comments have been made by people who misunderstand the naval tradition of naming vessels after people. Specifically, to Fr. John’s preference for service on the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) to service on the Jimmy Carter, I reply, “There are two kinds of ships: Submarines and targets.”

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Filed under: — Basil @ 2:56 pm

«— Online Church
—» Saint Emily

Eucharist 2004

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This Thanksgiving I have some things for which I am truly thankful.

Thanks to the Lord for my girlfriend and her beautiful little girl who serve as a constant reminder that I should pray for “mercy, life, peace, health, salvation and visitation, and pardon and remission of sins” for them and myself. They are indeed the greatest gift God has bestowed upon me this year.

rating patchThis week I was frocked Petty Officer Third Class. Frocking is an advancement prior to one’s actual advancement in paygrade. From the frocking letter I received:

  1. Under reference (a), you are hereby authorized to assume the title and wear the uniform of a Petty Officer Third Class effective immediately.
  2. Your appointment carries with it the obligation that you exercise increased authority and willingly accept greater responsibility. Occupying now a position of greater authority, you must strive with a renewed dedication toward the valued ideal of service with honor.
  3. Under reference (a), you will not be entitled to pay and other monetary allowances of a Petty Officer Third Class until actually advanced to the pay grade for which you have been selected.
  4. Congratulations!

I am thankful for the prayers of my brothers and sisters at St. Athanasius and St. Nicholas parishes.

I am thankful for the lessons I have learned through military service in the world’s strongest and finest Navy, primarily those of obedience and organization.

We give you thanks, Christ God, for all your earthly gifts. Do not deprive us of your heavenly kingdom, but, as you came among your disciples, O savior, granting them your peace, come also among us, and save us.

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Filed under: — Basil @ 6:22 pm

«— On the Dogma of Creation
—» Mutterings for November 21

A Difficult Obedience

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My letter to the monks:

The Entry into the Temple of Our Most Holy Lady, the Theotokos, and Ever-virgin, Mary.
21 November 2004

Br Stavros and all the brothers,

It saddens me greatly to cancel my appointment with you for the Thanksgiving weekend.

The Naval Education and Training Command (under which I am a student) recently instituted a policy whereby students on liberty must be accompanied by at least one “buddy.” This policy responds to the actions of many student Sailors who are usually very young, actions which endanger themselves and others. The buddy program hopes to curb these activities — most of which center around the immoderate use of alcohol —- as well as train sailors in the buddy program policy which they will follow as Sailors in foreign ports.

Unfortunately, I simply do not know any shipmates who would want to spend Thanksgiving weekend at a monastery, even one as wonderful yours. It is truly their loss, but given the policy outlined above, it is also my loss.

This policy does not apply when a sailor is on leave, only on liberty, so I will look for such an opportunity to visit you and the brothers in the future. I was very much looking forward to a retreat, but it is apparently not the right time.

But there is good work to be found in simple obedience.

May the prayers of our Lady, whose entry into the temple we celebrate today, be with all of you. Please continue to remember me in your prayers.

Your unworthy servant,
Basil, a sinner

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Filed under: — Basil @ 3:27 pm