Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Confession Is Good for the Soul...

Discussion...
(Source)
It is?

All kidding aside, another title for this post could have been "Things I Suck At" but it would have to be part 1 of 1026, so yeah, I picked a different title, I simply don't have time to go into all of the things I suck at. For instance...

The Missus Herself: We should take up golf.

Your Humble Scribe: Uh, no thanks. I already have a number of sports I suck at, I don't need to add another.

The list of sports I suck at is a very long one. Some I only semi-suck at, in other words I was seldom the last guy picked when choosing up sides in grade school. (Seldom as in it did happen occasionally.) Some people sucked at every athletic endeavor known to mankind, most of them grew up to be multi-millionaires or better. They sucked at sports so they studied.

Anyhoo, the point of all this is that I am not very good with discussions. There are times that I wish to throttle the people I'm discussing things with, it's not that they're wrong, it's just that they tend to be smug about being right. (What's worse are the smug ones who are absolutely wrong, but are still smug about it. They tend to be politicians.)

So the topic of the Zumwalt-class of ships came up over at koobecaF t'other day. A buddy of mine had a link to a nearly year old article regarding some of the problems the class has had. Well, okay, mostly the gun system. As usually happens, a number of folks began to chime in with their thoughts/opinions/arguments - mostly against the class.

So yeah, I work for a defense contractor, won't say which one, and have been involved with the Zumwalt class for a number of years. Too many years probably. It's been an on and off sort of thing. The Navy is like a kid with a paper route (or so it seems to me, having been there and done that as well, I only semi-sucked at that), they don't always have the money they need to pay for stuff. In the early days of this project that meant that the work would stop, often for months at a time, then pick back up again.

When the work stops one of two things happen, I mean if you don't have work on a project you need to find those people other work, or you have to let them go. (Those being the two things I mentioned.) Now unless the timing is perfect, those sent to work on other projects don't automatically come back to Zumwalt when the money spigot is turned back on. Nope, the bosses on that other project don't want to let those folks go until their project is done.

So unless the return of Zumwalt coincides with other projects being done (or their money getting turned off - hey, it's what happens when contractors "miscalculate" and/or Congress doesn't pass a budget) then you have to find new people to work Zumwalt. Often people fresh out of college or people with zero experience on a military project. So in some ways you have to start from scratch. All of which adds to the cost of a project and the time it takes to complete it.

So I've been at this Zumwalt thing for a while, I've seen many stupid decisions made (by us, by other contractors, by the government, and yes, even by the Navy). I've also seen some brilliant work go into this thing. Yes, it's big, it's expensive and yes, probably could have been done better. But it is what it is. A lot of money has been spent on this thing.

Point being, do we just say "fire truck it" and drop everything, realizing that a lot of money has already been spent and just say "Oh well, that didn't work." Or do we suck it up, spend a bit more (that bit having a quite a few zeroes after it) and get those three ships finished and useful?

After all, we've already spent a lot of money on the LCS program (the gift that keeps on giving precisely nothing) a "ship" which can't do anything and probably never will. Zumwalt, at the very least, has a useful radar and sonar system and the capability to carry a whole bunch of missiles. Something LCS is incapable of.

I vote for finish it, learn the right lessons and move on. Some of the Zumwalt technology is pretty slick, far more complex and interesting than some dumb ass writing articles for UPI will ever understand. A lot of the stuff is also classified and not something well known even inside the Navy. If you don't work Zumwalt, you don't know, and if you do know and aren't in the Zumwalt world, someone has committed a serious security violation.

But I shied away from further discussion over on koobecaF as I really do suck at discussions and don't want to piss anybody off (especially friends) over a "tilting at windmills" scenario. In other words, some of us know things, some of us don't. I am actually required by law to keep it that way.

So if my departure from that discussion seems odd, well, I like my job and really, really want to keep it. So I have to stop talking.


In other news...

I've added The Gormogons to the blogroll, been reading them for a while, figured I'd share. It's what I do. (Okay, I suck at sharing, but you probably knew that.)

At any rate this recent post of theirs I found very educational, it's about taverns, bars, saloons, beer halls, and the like. Good stuff.

I had no ideer...

And for what it's worth, I suck at drinking.




48 comments:

  1. funding floats the Navy. funding is dependent on politicians. and, politicians are a hateful bunch who can lie without moving their lips.
    Often as not, the Navy couldn't help themselves. If you do not take it to sea with you, you won't have it when you need it. The Navy doesn't care for those standing out in front of one's peers. Makes you vulnerable to criticism. better to hide in the herd. spread the blame. Still can't find the jackass who thought the F-111B was a good thing. I recall Adm. Crowe had choice words. Can you imagine the balls Adm. Rickover had to stand up and call bullshit like he did when the idea of cheapened submarine maintenance programs surfaced?

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    1. If I recall correctly, the F-111B was driven by SoD McNamara, his syncophants, and General Dynamics (once they had the contract). My Dad was in aviation working for the FAA as an engineer and a pilot in the Air National Guard. I remeber him grosing abot it. He would complain about them trying to put everything into that plane including the kitchen sink.

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    2. Cap'n - Rickover clanked when he walked.

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    3. Bill - Anything Bobby Strange touched was tainted.

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    4. That would be SOB McNamara. TIFIFY.

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    5. In Dragon's Jaw by Barrett Tillman and Stephen Coonts, there's a great line describing McNamara, "self-made bastard."

      I see an acronym requiring inclusion on the Acronym Page. I'm on it.

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  2. OldAFSarg, I can understand your situation. I worked on the F-35. I often stare at dicussions on the aircraft and have to juast not hold my thoughts.

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    1. Hard to refrain from crushing a few skulls, innit?

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  3. Hey AFSarge;

    The Zumwalt is held up as an example of government waste and efficiency. Not as bad as the LCS mind you. I get the "when you are dealing with new technology, things can go sideways.." I remember for an Army example, the Bradley, it was pilloried in congress as a symbol of waste and government porkbarrel. Ad during the first Gulf War, the Bradley killed more Tanks than the M1 did. All the naysayers shut up at that point. The F111 was a brainchild of the MacNamara and his Wiz kids trying to standardize an airplane for all the services and the end result, it did poorly for all of them. Certain things you can standardize like Rifles and shoes...Airplanes not so much. All the services have specific mission requirements and different environment of operation.

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    1. As soon as they scaled back from 32 to three, they should have built just the one. Who knows, maybe it will actually work someday?

      Here's me, not holding my breath.

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    2. Well, in the Aardvark's defense, once it, like the F-14, got the engines it needed, and strengthened wings, it did excel. Just... not as intended. There are holes in the USAF's capability that the F-111 (really should have been given a bomber designation or fighter-bomber des) could do up to the end of it's career. Just the shaky early years it kinda sucked like... an aardvark.

      As to Zummie, it should have been a proof of concept ship first, then gone either into production or program ended. We need to quit funding production of X-craft. That's what X-craft are for, proof of concept, trying new stuff, making mistakes, before we step into the deep end.

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    3. Indeed. The Navy keeps trying to be "transformational" when it doesn't really know what that means. Nor how expensive that can be.

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    4. An echo here. What the AF did in the case of the F-III, strictly by accident, was stumble upon the development of the ABSOLUTE best long-range, low-level supersonic AllWx nuke delivery aircraft in history (which is why the Russians are still flying their copy of it--no fools they.) PS The ECM version was also a jewel needlessly thrown away as well..

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    5. Had a choice in 1974 when selecting a career field in the USAF: F-4s or F-111s. The 'Vark was in two places, Lakenheath in the UK or Plattsburgh AFB in NY. Whereas the F-4 was damned near world-wide at the time. Guess which one I picked?

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  4. I have no issue with a technology demonstrator and understand there will be many teething pains with one. But why build 2 more essentially incomplete (mostly, currently useless) ships at such great expense?

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    1. Who knows why they went the two more, at least one of those two is well-named (Michael Monsoor). The final one is not.

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  5. Re: Suckage. I'm right there with you. I was never tall enough, fast enough, or strong enough to really excel in any sport. In retrospect, that was not all bad, as I was able to participate in just about anything because I wasn't too tall, too fat, too whatever. I didn't really get my teeth into marksmanship until my late 20's.

    I can have one 12oz beer on an empty stomach, get a buzz, take a nap, wake up stone cold sober, and do it all in sixty minutes. Do I suck at drinking? Dunno, never got that far. Again, probably not a bad thing.

    Re: Golf. Over on another blog, that topic came up (read the comments too)--

    http://www.norcalblogs.com/postscripts/2019/11/03/golf-rules-change-2020-note/#comments

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    1. I spent one summer as a caddie, decided to stay away from golf forever.

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  6. I have only had specific knowledge of issues that were newsworthy for a short period of time on a few occasions. It amazed me how incorrectly these issues were reported by snot nosed journalists who asked five questions and became experts. Their reporting of said issues became Gospel...no where near accurate...often opposite of accurate, but Gospel none-the-less. I have since been skeptical of accuracy in media reporting of even high impact stories.

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  7. I seriously sucked at any sports until I was growed up. Who knew skull-bashing would bring out my inner athelete? And I loved, up till the end, being able to outlast and outfight young 'fit' people. Like at practice, I didn't consider myself truly warmed up until I was beginning to get winded, maybe about 30-40 bouts in. Most younguns would armor down after 10 or so. And then, after single bout fighting was done, I was always into team melees...

    My theory in fighting was eventually even the best will get tired and fall to my level. It surprised me when the best started to stop fighting me as I was too exhausting to kill, especially if they took my knees (there's an art to fighting on your knees, involving shoving your shield into their sword armpit and following their body's motion while blocking with your sword and waiting for the standing fool to open up (usually when he's stepping back...))

    As to discussions, is it discussion once you've told someone the same thing three times or more, or is it futility. Still think they should have used regular 155mm guns on the... (see what I did there?)

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    1. The 155 was the original concept. Until (I'm sure) someone mentioned that a pair of 155s didn't really provide much in the way of Naval Gun Fire Support, which was the point to begin with. Two 155s does not replace nine 16-inch guns. So they went to missiles...

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  8. I was thinking about successful weapons systems and the BUFF sprang to mind.
    Browning's heavy machine gun will probably still be serving the military in 2023 when it celebrates its hundredth birthday.
    What other weapons and/or weapons systems have had long service lives?
    What changed in the world of procurement to make getting a modern weapons system from the drawing board (OMG, drawing board, I might just as well say rotary phone or telegram!) to successful service?

    Discussion. My father had a marked inability to tolerate the stupid. It seems to be a dominate genetic trait, and the best I have been able to do is moderate my reaction to stupidity.

    A thought provoking post.


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    1. Earlier weapons systems were relatively simple compared to the modern environment. Rifles, pistols, machine guns all operate on fairly old principles.

      Adding automation into the mix (to enable a smaller crew size in the Zumwalt's case) makes things a lot more complex. Computer systems, communications systems, networks, and the like make the design effort tougher (especially when everybody and his/her brother/sister get a say in the "requirements"), the testing effort much more complex, and then letting the crew run it all add up to long lead times, long test periods, and lots and lots of cash expended.

      I am barely able to tolerate stupid, you should see the scars from biting my tongue to keep from speaking in some meetings, not always a successful effort.

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  9. I, still after 55 years, don't want to talk about the air search radar we had after FRAM.
    On paper it was fantastic.

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    1. ...furthermore, I sucked at drinking, or the results.
      I'm better at not drinking.
      I was barely adequate at some sports.

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    2. Skip the 1st - Ah, it always works on paper. It's when the design hits the fleet that things stop working.

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    3. Skip the 2nd - Sometimes being barely adequate is enough. There are lots of people who aren't even at that level!

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    4. It's important to know one's limitations.
      At least I can still spell and occasionally write a complete sentence, if necessary.

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  10. I sucked before I learned to drink. I think mom got sick when I was six months old and I went to cows milk....

    That Zumwalt is strange deal. As has been said, one offs for education and experimentation, fine. but tripling down on expensive and barely usable is Uncle Sugar's forte nowadays...

    Thank you for the education on how the .gov funds and defunds and refunds programs. That explains why development is such a messy, long process.

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    1. Throw in a bunch of corporate suits and you've got a real fiasco on your hands!

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  11. Chris, Bocce, yes bocce. It's a simple game, but not a simple game.

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    1. I've heard that before, a very subtle game. I am positive that I would suck at it. 😉

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    2. Dave/

      Next time you're in NYC try a basement neighborhood Italian Restaurant on 351 E. 62nd St called Il Vagabondo. Has a 100 yr-old BOCCE-BALL Court on the left side mixed hard by tables--quirky int + court will knock.you.out! (Plus food's great as well.)

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    3. VX. Thanks for the tip. Believe it or not, there's a place like that (only 50 years old) in Santa Cruz. Our league plays there in the rainy season. Bocce's Cellar. Fun place. The courts are both dirt and one has to use the first few frames to remember that the ball can actually come back at you in some cases, depending on where someone has set the pallino.

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    4. That's kinda awesome that you're in a bocce league.

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  12. The only two sports I didn't suck at were bowling and ice skating. Always got D's in Phys Ed until senior year when the jocks I tutored talked the instructors into giving me a C so I could make the Honor Roll senior year.

    I, too, have worked for two Big Aerospace Contractors, and a couple of small ones. Yep, seen a lot of decisions made that didn't make any sense, and was programed-shuffled numerous times in my career.

    I could tell you more, but I enjoy my freedom!

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  13. I remember when the mediatainment industry was harping on about $400 toilet seats in the E-2 Hawkeye. Truckfiring sdrater! Same dumbclucks who would breathlessly announce another stupendous lifesaving rescue by the mud ducks on live tee-vee with a USN Sea King hovering onto the helo pad in the background.

    Regarding destroyers and the destroyer mission, is it too late to buy the lee kum kee class back from Taiwan? I know, being a richard is one of the many things I don't suck at. ;-)

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    1. Hahaha!

      Do you mean the old Kidd-class destroyers we sold them? At least we're still building Arleigh-Burkes hand over fist.

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    2. Yes! Those them! I guess they're the Kee Lung class. Dunno where Lee Kum Kee came from...

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kidd-class_destroyer#Kee_Lung-class_destroyers

      And of course they are old now. I keep forgetting it's 2019. But still!

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    3. Don't feel bad, I still think that the F-15 and F-16 are new aircraft. And yeah, 2019. How did that happen?

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    4. HEY! Baton Rouge has a Kidd-class DD (in point of fact the USS KIDD) parked right in the MISS R. downtown by the Miss R. bridge. Now with just a little re-fit....... :)

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    5. Be a lot cheaper than building a current destroyer.

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  14. We seem to have had similar childhoods. I was never the last to be picked but usually the second to last or third to last.

    When the kids who each team is just dying to have are all picked and they’re all debating who tales the rest you know you’re in that group.

    I’ve played golf on and off for 50 years lately off for the last 15. If you don’t play it at least twice a week you’ll never get better.

    120 for 18 holes isn’t very good. So I just keep a sense of humor about it and have some exercise.

    I don’t know of any recent big military project that didn’t go over budget.

    . When finally perfected they are generally the best in the world. The F 35 seems like a bottomless pit but if it is extremely successful all that will be forgotten.

    From what I have read its main advantage is stealth. If found in a close dog fight with a conventional fighter it is not all that good from what I understand so it Has to hit the enemy in a greater distance.

    Least that’s what I know from the New York Times which never lies

    I know even less about the Zumwalt class. If they abandon it it will have more to do with politics than common sense so unless it is perceived that the problems are insurmountable

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    1. I've heard things about the F-35 that give me hope. Ditto for Zumwalt. As for the LCS, crickets...

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Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)