The Tragic Wreck of the USS Possama

“Sir, the last communication with the submarine occurred at 0331 on the 5th of this month. May I play the message now?” Lieutenant Matthew Masert acknowledged the Captain’s nod and ran Captain Arnold’s message:

“Alert! We are being surrounded fore, aft, starboard and port by Russian subs. This started when we completed our Kamchatka assignment. Now we’re halfway to …”

Captain Ensano frowned. “That’s it?”

A week later, no further word from the Possama nor had any searches succeeded in discovering any reason for the boat to be missing. Russia denied any activity around the sub at all. The USS Possama became another lost submarine in the Pacific, flags at half-mast.

Captain Arnold laid his cards down with a grin as the other three officers of the Possama fanned their hands out in defeat. The Captain took the last package of chocolate cookies and quietly secured them in his satchel. His comm unit vibrated. He reached for it and held it close to his ear. He replied in a whisper, “We’re ready but do not make any outside communications yet.” He pulled the cookies out slowly and opened them with a shove to the officers as he rose and went forward with care to not pant too loudly. Perhaps this ultra-silence could end soon!

Later that evening, Lt. Masert trotted to the Captain’s quarters and knocked, hoping Ensano hadn’t hit the sack yet. When the door opened, Masert stood at attention and stated, “The USS Possama is now found.”

Captain Ensano clenched his hands before his chest, almost as a prayer. “Is the crew alive?”

“Uh, Sir, the submarine just pulled into Ballast Point, all alive.”

“San Diego? That boat is out of Hawaii! Que Demonios?” His arms fell limply to his side.

“Admiral Musavel wants us to make way to San Diego for an update with no mention of this to anyone.”

Ensano stepped lively on his way forward on his Destroyer USS Kentucky and reached the Control Room. Soon they were in the lane to southern California. He laid on the power as this he did not wish to miss!

The meeting room had past Admorals’ pictures in an array around the walls. Captain Arnold stood at the podium in full dress uniform and greeted his old friend Pablo Ensano, Admiral Musavel and several others not familiar to him. When they all got seated, he began.

Arnold straightened his lips side to side and closed his eyes for a couple seconds, then appeared more relaxed and spoke. “Welcome all. First, I apologize for causing anxiety over our lack of any signals. I have a reason and I believe the ruse was absolutely worth it.

“We took photos and recordings at the Kamchatka mission site. As we left, Russians ganged up around us and tried driving us to the west. We did not want to end up in their custody, so we opened our torpedo hatches and were immediately fired at. We pushed the reactor as high as it would go and sent out a decoy. It worked but we pretended it did not, with us opening some valves to let out bubbles. We settled into a low spot and cut all services. At least one Rusky sub observed us for nearly a week before leaving and thank God for that as the O2 had gone down to beetle crap. We eased on some vital services and searched for any sign of Rusky presence. None! We left as swiftly yet secretly as we could and beelined here.

“They probably kept monitoring south in case we tried to get back to Hawaii, so we came here due west with as much stealth as we could muster. You see, we caught proof of a temporary installation of Ruskies near Alaska, under an extending shelf with buoys floating around above them that were not left by fishermen. I have all the data including cryptic signals being reviewed now.”

Arno stared at the attendees and tapped his right foot. “No comments?”

Ensano stood. “You went back into your days in the country! You played possum!”

Arnold smiled big.

Ah, Playin’ Possum!

Where’s the Nearest Spaceship Repair Shop?

HURRAY! I got my newest book published and available on Amazon! So far just in print, working on the eBook. In short, the Alefinna is a standard biped ET outfit that roams the galaxy looking for customers and sellers for the Galactic Hub. The Hub is the nexus for trade, entertainment, communications and any other activities to share among the solar systems. They invite a strange group aboard to discuss joining, but the strangers instead blast their navigation systems thoroughly with acid. The Alefinna barely land in one piece in the U of L football field.

Cardinal Stadium, Where the Alefinna Spaceship Landed!

From there onward is a study in how different parts of Earth social fabric assess and treat these ‘Galactics’. To complicate things, one of the crew (Dez) had been to Earth before as a surveyor. The idea was to measure the love and light index and the things that make Earthies unique. In the early 1960s US, L&L looked great with the big peace movements. In the 1980s much had changed; all but his love for his 1960s sweetheart. He did not know that liaison resulted in a daughter.

How would NASA respond? Ultraconservative haters? University Astrophysics majors all over the globe? Governments around the world, especially when the Alefinna offer the US high-level technology to build a repair facility for them. Is your mind spinning with widely varied reactions already? Read how our ambassador spins the story at the United Nation meetings.

SNOW GEEK!

After rain, rain, rain and more rain, I got jazzed to not only get some snow but 8 or 10 inches of it! I’ve lived in New York, California, Illinois, Florida and a little Indian Ocean atoll, but have the dearest attachment to my birth state of Kentucky. I love the environmental diversity, the equality of seasons (usually) and the log cabin I built here amidst the woodland and wildlife.

Yet I still love science and the fascinating areas of astrophysics and energy production. I study the climate issues and pick out the constellations on clear nights. I write science fiction with real science issues in them.

These two aspects coalesced on a snowy afternoon, impelling me to etch a Snow Geek in the freezing white fluff. Enjoy your day!

Silly but fun, needed for sanity sometimes!

Kentucky Tornadoes

The news is filled with the disastrous photos, a drone that caught the storm in action, too much; I need no pictures here. There will be more and more horrendous storms like this, the hurricane that hit Labrador in September, another historic disaster. I could go on, but why? Either you believe this is associated with wildly irresponsible carbon usage and are acting to reduce your footprint or you will deny it until a storm obliterates you home.

I still drive a gas car; I can’t afford to get a new electric one. I can barely afford to heat the house since I got fired by a hateful boss last year; the ‘anniversary’ is just before Christmas. I do keep the heat low and wear long johns and a coat with ski pants, but I’ve done this every winter since I built this cabin about 25 years ago to do all I could. My car is a very good mileage Subaru and I only use it to drive to the post office for Old Lady Who bookstore orders once a week and the grocery tacked onto that trip once a month. I make my own bread, yogurt, clothes. I grow my own fruit; the blueberries and apples were great his year.

This is the tornado swarm I watched from the concrete front step when I lived in Lousivlle as a young teen. I was an observer there too, not a victim. How long will that last?

From the local WDRB-TV Website: “This year marks the 40th anniversary of the April 3-4, 1974, tornado outbreak – one of the worst tornado outbreaks to ever affect the U.S. Dubbed the “Super Outbreak”, at least 148 tornadoes struck 13 states from the Gulf Coast to the Great Lakes over a 16-hour period from the afternoon of April 3, 1974 into the early morning hours of April 4, 1974. When it was over, 330 people were dead and 5,484 were injured.”

Day of Infamy

Hello!

I’m writing this on the “Day of Infamy” as December 7th was the day the imperial Japanese made a devastating attack on the US Navy Base of Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. There in the mist of morning, thousands of sailors and others were killed by kamikazes and bombs. Many ships were sunk, including those full staffed. Have you seen the memorial at Pearl Harbor, like the boat that takes visitors to the sunken USS Arizona? As a former US Navy Sailor whose ship anchored at Pearl, I felt so broken hearted for the sailors, their families, my own family losses, and the resulting war that culminated with atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

I have learned over the years that the way to address such an attach is not to kill more of them than they killed of us. True, the US forced Japan to surrender and the Pacific war ended. It was true that our bombing was celebrated in the US, movies portraying related actions heroically. The world feared us and our pride soared. Other countries got atomic weapons. We dug survival bunkers.

When we retaliate, we share the aggressor’s evil and wrong. Yes, we needed to respond. It is not clear how this event was built; had we opportunities to prevent the attack? Many investigative reports say we probably could have avoided the event altogether. Did we let it happen because of our fixation on the war against the Devil Hitler? Did our hubris in finally, belatedly going over to rescue beleaguered Britain and France, our acting as saviors, reveal how our ignoring the threat of Hirohito may have happened?

I am not trying the make the US seem as the secret instigator of all this, nor do I follow any other conspiracy. I am an honorable veteran. I am hoping we will think about these circumstances, how working with Japan earlier, how helping Europe fortify against Hitler earlier, how being aware of the brewing unrest and hate and acting with tolerance and forgiveness early on may have gutted this most horrible of worldwide wars. Can we prevent war when Russia tries to overtake the Ukraine? I think many are attempting to do just that.

Tolerance, peace and forgiveness are components of Love and Light, a subject that makes me think of flowers. I have also been to the Netherlands and Belgium. And have placed flowers at some tombstones erected in the massive international military graveyard near their borders.

New Nukes?

I listen to PBS in the mornings and this morning, I heard an entire show looking into the new nuclear power plants. Are we finally going to admit that nuke power has a strategic place in managing our chaotic climate? As noted in recent posts, I joined the US Navy nuclear machinist program in my teens!

I live in the most beautiful yet most filthy state in the US: Kentucky. The birds, trees, flowers, rivers, the entire state could be a natural haven. Except that for over a hundred years Kentucky has jabbed and stabbed nature with deep coal mines and worse, the open strip mines where gigantic monster bulldozers scrape entire forests and the wildlife away to get to that coal. This is all over the state, not just the eastern Appalachian part.

Where I live in western Ky between Owensboro and Bowling Green there were two strip mines that were much too close; I passed them going to college, the store. One in Hartford, one in Paradise. Remember the song? “Daddy, won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County, down by the Green River where Paradise lay? I’m sorry my son, you’re too late in asking; Mr. Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away.” – John Prine. He gets into gory details, too.

The nuke power we know was based on the US Navy Admiral Rickover’s new submarines that could stay out for months at a time without refueling, submarines that went under the Arctic ice cap. That was revolutionary for our military.

USS Nautilus, 1st Nuke Submarine

I got out and worked at San Onofre, the three-reactor site in San Luis Obispo, California. I worked in the reactor compartments, around the waste, doing repairs, I wrote in the newsletter, planned high radiation jobs. I got an award for my high rad work planning article in the Nuclear News, the industry magazine. I worked in on-site drills for nuke safety with four area hospital emergency rooms.

Waste was the biggest issue. Now the tech is ready to not only make a TMI event impossible but also not add to the hidden piles of high rad waste deep in the Rockies and elsewhere. In my Elise t’Hoot Galactic Adventure series, the colony planet of Tenembras would not have survived without the nuke plant that made the oxygen for them to breathe as the planet was populated with no live ecology. Dissidents were dumped there to die but the nuke plant was integral not only for O2 production but in getting galactic aide as well. Here’s a coffee cup I designed and had made at Zazzle back then:

My Keep-It-Hot Coffee Cup!

Nuke power was dangerous but I worked it anyway. The new tech is not. Let the new tech nuke power team up with the solar, wind, hydro and other accepted power sources that cannot provide the amount of energy the new nukes can. The new nukes need to be part of the future’s energy mix.

Talk About A Bigshot!

The Lieutenant briefed the team and put me in charge. HooYAH! The job entailed performing a solidification of a submarine’s radioactive filtration resin while at sea. It seems the shore solidifiers could not keep up with the drums and drums of the radioactive resin such that warehouses were filling with them and the resins were partially caking up to make pouring it into the solidification drum would be very tough.

They set up the area at the lowest HP deck, worried about a spill?  The method included having the dented resin drum on a holder rack that could tilt it up so it could pour into the new drum that had a stir bar in it. As the resin stirred, concrete powder would be sifted in via a PCV pipe with a steel bar twisted like a screw to move it in evenly.

The first trial! We checked all the parts twice and then once more. Commence! The resin poured in well. The concrete did not. Then the pipe broke, the steel had knotted up. The photo is the actual steel screw that was removed, decontaminated and painted black. Ahhh, the Dixon Auger Eaters!

The Auger Eaters Plaque!
A Closer Look at the Inscription

We soon worked it out, got it done with a metal pipe at a better feed angle, did a few more, reported it and went about our business. About a month later I was called to the Captain’s office with officers all about the place watching.

As I stood at attention, the Captain stood to tell me to expect a ceremony in the morning at 1000 hours. I needed to get a clean and spiffy dress uniform ready as I would be present. Dismissed.

Yikes, where had my bravery run off to? A ceremony? Why tell only me and not everybody? Quit worrying and get the danged uniform ready and the shoes shined! While I busily buffed, the word did come over for all to hear.

The entire crew not on duty stood on the main deck in various formations to suit the equipment that could not be moved. All the officers certainly appeared clean and spiffy. I went to line up with my department. The Master Chief pointed forward and walked me to the center area where two older crewmen stood. They said nothing as a helicopter landed at the pier and an entourage boarded the ship. The Captain greeted them and they all arranged themselves in from of us.

The Entourage Chariot

One guy was called up for 30 years of service or some such, I admit to being more than a bit nervous. The Captain congratulated him and shook his hand. The other guy, the same. Then the Captain stepped back and the visitor fellow with tons of decorations on his uniform took the spot. He called my name. I forced myself not to shame the entire crew! I strode up and saluted perfectly. He saluted back. Being thin and tall, I didn’t mind standing at attention as long as I didn’t lock my knees.

I don’t recall all he said. His talk included hard work, ingenuity, teamwork, professionalism, saving the Navy millions of dollars and such. The solidification process we altered, tested and reported was transmitted across the Navy! His aide approached with a small box. He opened it a removed a medal suspended from a colorfully striped ribbon. Loudly he stated that I had earned the Navy Achievement Medal and the whole ship should be proud of me. Then he whispered, “I can’t reach into your shirt to pin it on. Here, you do it.” I did. The crew and visitors saluted me and I returned the honor. Without collapsing. I smiled at the Secretary of the Navy and got back in line with the 30 year guys. Lesson: I can stand up to anything!

Heartfelt thanks to all the veterans who have serve this wonderful United States of America. None of us are perfect, but when we need to, we shine! That includes many in my family, including my Sailor father who served on a minesweeper he called the Ellie Mae during the Korean Conflict and my Sailor uncle who served at Pearl Harbor and went on leave the day before the Japanese attack that started the Pacific’s WWII.

And, I can’t help it …

Hooray for the US Navy! Anchors aweigh!