Monday, November 23, 2009

Sarah Palin in Richland

Oh how I am excited that Sarah Palin is coming to the Tri-Cities; Richland to be exact! Ever since I heard of this successful woman governor (three years ago now by Dick Morris) I have been excited and praying for her. My heart has lept at every opportunity that she has made in the political realm and I have told everyone I know how amazing this woman is, how she has succeeded beyond my wildest dreams in Alaska as their chief executive, and how thrilled I am to watch her grow and overcome every obstacle thrown her way. Many of my friends don't understand my joy in seeing Sarah Palin overcome all the awful garbage thrown her way: "She's just another politician!" they would say, but I just shake my head in disagreement. Everything I have read about this woman, absolutely everything, points to a "populist" leader, the second in my lifetime (Ronald Reagan being the first). What I love about Sarah Palin is her common sense approach to life and politics, her commitment to her faith, and her numerous successes in the Alaska political arena. I deeply look forward to her coming here to the lower 48 to help us resolve the enormous messes that are being currently made in Washington DC. In my mind, only Sarah Palin can resolve these fundamental crises' that are facing us as a nation. With everything the morons in DC are doing to rip us apart as a country, I believe Sarah Palin will fix these critical problems; from massive overspending and government debt, to "growing" America's energy resources and tax base through lower taxes. I pray for her success, I wish I could help her in any way possible (so I will continue to blog about her in the best way I can). A woman with such strong faith as Sarah Palin has should be commended and supported by all. We love you Sarah! Continue your ride into Washington DC upon a horse of victory and please remember, it' the cause of liberty that people support you, dear lady. Giving people in this country political liberty will be your legacy! Amen.


Please pray for the teenager Rifqa Bary, who feels she is in danger by her parents and the muslim community in Ohio for converting to Christianity. She has asked the government to prevent her father or someone in her former mosque from killing her, a so-called "honor killing". This despicable death threat against a 16-year-old is so vile and evil that no one cannot condemn the muslim community for allowing such hatred and death to occur. When given the opportunity to denounce "honor killings" the muslim community in Ohio where Rifqa is from hasn't spoken a word against this despicable act. No one has stood up to try and protect this poor girl except people in her new church. Please pray that God will protect this poor woman from violence and death, and pray against the muslims of the world: truly a religion of evil. For more details about this story, see HERE.


The Other LCS Aces Sea Trials
November 22, 2009

The second of two American Littoral (coastal) Combat Ship (LCS) designs has successfully completed its trials. The ship, the USS Independence, will be commissioned in January. The U.S. Navy's first 3,000 ton LCS is already in service, and discovering what life is really like for the most radical new ship design in decades. Completed last year at a Lake Michigan shipyard, the USS Freedom is now at its home port, San Diego, and going to sea regularly. The USS Freedom is a more conventional design, looking like any other 3,000 ton warship.

The USS Independence is a little lighter (2,800 tons) than Freedom. The most obvious difference between the two designs is that trimaran design provides a larger, and more stable, flight deck for helicopters, and more interior space. The trimaran design is based on one pioneered since he 1980s by Australian ship builder Austal. This design has been used by several successful fast transports, used with much success in the Pacific since the 1990s. Austal was selected to design the Independence based on the success of their earlier trimaran designs, some of which were used by the U.S. Navy. Next year, the two designs will be put to a lot of tests to see if one is sufficiently superior to the other to justify a single design being used for all 50 LCS ships. There is also the possibility that both ships will prove suitable, in different ways, to get the job done. In this case, each design will get a share of the 50 or so LCS ships built.

In general, there are also several unanswered questions for the LCS, that could only be cleared up by actually taking one to sea. One issue was refueling at sea. Now the U.S. Navy has been doing this for over a century, and has the drill down pretty good. The oiler (fuel ship) and receiving ship move in parallel (30-60 meters apart), at a slow speed (about 25 kilometers an hour) and the oiler shoots over cables that hold a fuel line. The two ships maintain their position and speed by synchronizing the revolutions of their propellers. The LCS has two problems with this drill. First, the LCS doesn't use a propeller (but water jets). No problem, it turns out, as the LCS has a lot more control over speed. After some practice using a computer simulator, the "keeping station" with the oiler problem was solved. Another problem was the flat bottom of the LCS 1 (which makes it capable of entering very shallow littoral waters), makes the vessel roll in rough seas. This proved to be a minor problem. LCS 2, and its trimaran design, has less problems with this. Crews will get lots of practice with at-sea refueling, because the LCS has to do so every 3-4 days when travelling with a task force on the high seas.


Another minor problem is that the LCS is not equipped to take pallets of other supplies from an oiler (which is actually a combined cargo/tanker ship these days). So pallets will have to be delivered by helicopter. The USS Freedom has not yet received its SH-60 helicopter, but having pallets delivered this way is not expected to be a problem.

Another potential problem is the high speed of the LCS, which is the fastest seagoing ship to ever serve with the U.S. fleet. The USS Freedom has gone as fast as 85 kilometers an hour, and it's believed that the power plant can be tweaked to get that a little higher. At such high speeds, it's easier to run into whales. This occasionally happens, especially at night. For larger ships, the result is usually a dead, or badly injured whale, and little damage to the ship. But the smaller LCS, hitting a large whale, while travelling at high speed, could leave the ship damaged (the whale would definitely be dead.) So far, the sailors on the bridge are to keep a sharp lookout for whales when the ship is travelling at high speed.

The LCS has a crew of 40, which is pretty small for a ship this size (which, in the past, would have about four times as many sailors). But the LCS is highly automated. On the Freedom, the captain decided that officers, including himself, would pitch in with maintenance and housekeeping chores. More so than in larger ships, sailors learn to do other jobs on an LCS, and, as a result, work is lot more interesting and less boring. But it can get intense at times, and there are still questions about whether the smaller crew, and all the "smartship" tech can really handle the kind of damage control emergencies that crop up on military ships

Normally, an LCS would have another 35 crew manning its "mission package". The LCS is designed for a variety of interchangeable modules (e.g., air defense, underwater warfare, special operations, surface attack, etc.), which will allow the ships to be quickly reconfigured for various specialized missions. Crews will also be modularized, so that specialized teams can be swapped in to operate specific modules. Thus about 40 percent of the ship is empty, with a large cargo hold into which the mission package gear is inserted (and then removed, along with the package crew, when it is no longer assigned to that ship.) Thus the LCS has two crews when underway, the "ship" crew and the mission package crew. The captain of the ship crew is in charge, and the officer commanding the mission package is simply the officer in charge of the largest equipment system on board. In addition, the core crew of 40 is actually two crews ("blue" and "gold") who take turns running the ship. This makes it possible to keep an LCS at a distant posting for years, by simply flying in a relief crew every six months.

Three years ago, when construction began on LCS 1, it was to displace 2,500 tons, with a full load draft of under ten feet (permitting access to very shallow "green" and even "brown" coastal and riverine waters, where most naval operations have taken place in the past generation. Top speed is expected was to be over 80 kilometers with a range of 6,300 kilometers (at much slower cruising speed). The 378 foot long ship still has the range and top speed it was designed for. Basic endurance is 21 days. Thus the Freedom has to refuel and resupply more frequently than larger ships. When using its max speed a lot, much more fuel is burned, and that 21 day endurance can be reduced to 3-4 days.

Built using "smartship" technologies, which greatly reduce personnel requirements, the basic LCS was expected to require a crew of 40 in basic configuration, but will have billeting for about 75 personnel. The recent sea trials gave the smartship features a workout, which, so far appears to be successful. The successful sea trials were very important, because the LCS project was over budget, behind schedule and, worst of all, an untried new concept.

The two different LCS designs are quite different in appearance. Freedom has a semi-planning monohull, while Independence is a trimaran. LCS 1 (USS Freedom) was laid down by Lockheed Martin in Marinette, Wisconsin, in June of 2005 and was expected to be commissioned in 2007, after months of sea tests in late 2006. That schedule slipped, with the ship not completed until late 2008, and sea trials not starting until January, 2009.

LCS 2 (USS Independence) was laid down by General Dynamics in late 2005. These, and LCS 3 and LCS 4, were to be built by Lockheed and General Dynamics, respectively. These are also essentially prototypes, and serial procurement was expected to begin this year, after initial design flaws had been worked out. That has slipped a year or two. Ultimately, the Navy hoped to have 55 LCSs by 2014-18, at a cost of $90 million each. Congress has capped the price of LCS ships at $460 million, after years of increases, and threats to cancel the project.

There were a lot of problems with the LCS design. The USS Freedom ended up costing $500 million, more than twice what the first ship in the class was supposed to have cost. Next year, the navy will choose which of the designs will serve as the model for all future LCS class vessels. At that point, the winner will build two more ships of their design, and the loser one. All five of these LCS ships will be used heavily to determine what changes in the basic design are required. Then, mass production will commence, to build another 50 ships. The US Navy has ordered a second LCS (Littoral Combat Ship) from Lockheed Martin.

The LCS is armed with a 57mm gun, four 12.7mm machine-guns, and an eleven cell SeaRam system for air and missile defense. The RAM (RIM-116 "Rolling Air Frame") missiles replace Phalanx autocannon. SeaRAM has a longer range (7.5 kilometers) than the Phalanx (two kilometers).

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