French Stench

I have a finely cultivated sense of smell. It sometimes works for me, like in a bakery or it can trip me up, like when I deployed on an aircraft carrier and sniffed jet fuel all day long. In England, they are suffering from the French stench. Apparently, the stink has spread:

French StenchA cloud of harmless gas smelling of sweat and rotten eggs leaked from a chemicals factory in northwest France and drifted across the English Channel as far as London on Tuesday.

The leak occurred on Monday morning at a Lubrizol France plant near Rouen, 120 km (75 miles) northwest of Paris, and winds blew the invisible gas cloud south over northern France on Monday night and then up into England on Tuesday.

The fire brigade in the county of Kent, southeast of London, warned residents to keep their doors and windows closed due to the gas, which may make some people feel nauseous, and police said they had reports of an acrid smell in the capital.

It was due to start an operation on Tuesday evening to stop the fumes, a process that could take hours or days, Pierre-Henry Maccioni, head of the Seine-Maritime regional government, said.

“It’s not so much a leak as a product that has decomposed, which smells very bad and which is escaping,” the firm’s internal operations director, Pierre-Jean Payrouse, told RTL radio.

“An investigation is under way but our priority is to deal with the problem.”

London tabloids, quick to seize on historical animosity between the British and French, went to town with the whiff. A Daily Mail headline lambasted a “French stench” while an article in the Sun cited a “mystery pong” that was “blamed on France”.

French FlagMeanwhile, authorities in France and Britain assured affected residents the gas was not a health threat.

The Paris police department issued a statement saying the gas posed no health risk but warned that it smelled like a mixture of “sweat, garlic and rotten eggs”.

Is not mystery pong when you’re unfamiliar with your opponent in table tennis?

Spending Money on Carriers

This question is asked at a forum:

Is it worth spending so much on huge aircraft carriers? These ships are highly vulnerable to ballistic missile attack, and the loss of a carrier would pt thousands of sailor’s lives at risk.
When the era of unmanned, autonomous warships arrives, fleet carriers will be sitting ducks.

Will there be unmanned autonomous warships in the near-future? I highly doubt it. While unmanned airborne platforms are fairly standard, I would be surprised to see a warship-sized vessel that is unmanned. There is simply too much thought involved in running a large ship, one that seems beyond near-future computing systems. Humans are still needed in the loop. . .

My Biggest Mistake While Deployed on an Aircraft Carrier

Life on an aircraft carrier is busy. Sometimes I would charge around, looking to speak to this person or get to this space. Only, I had no clue how to get there. I was lost until I figured out the lay of the land.

Since I am adventorous, I like to find my way around. It was a goal to visit most spaces on the ship, but for obvious reasons, this was not possible. At lunch, I even once asked the nukes, the folks working on the reactor, if I could see it. It being the Reactor.

I was met with amused glares. No, they said. And the gave me two good reasons why not. The first was INSURV. And anyone in the Navy knows this is a big deal. (INSURV is a major inspection.)

Okay, I replied.

One week into my tour, I needed to get across the ship And I was on a level I was not used to traveling on. Bear in mind, I am usually crouching over part-the-ways too. So what I am about to share is an honest, although bone-headed, mistake.

I hang a left through a door I have never been through. It is quiet and peaceful in the space. And I smell something nice. Like trees. Remember, this is an aircraft carrier and the common smells are either food or jet fuel.

It is a berthing area and a remarkably clean one. Not only are there no running shoes on the top of the wall lockers, like the other berthing areas I have clomped through, the place gleams.

Then it hits me, it is a FEMALE berthing area. I turn around and hightail it out. I do not check the door to make sure, I do not collect 200 dollars. . .

NCAA Basketball on the USS Carl Vinson: What Are the Sailors Saying?

San Diego is supposed to host the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic aboard the USS Carl Vinson this Friday, the 11th of November, at 4 p.m. PT (11/11/11.) The NCAA basketball game features North Carolina and Michigan State and will be played outside, on the flight deck. President Obama is even rumored to be attending. One tiny problemo: rain.

From the weather experts over at the Military Times:

The first college basketball game to ever be played on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier will happen on Friday.

Well, maybe not.

MSU Camouflage Uniform in Army colors

A storm could hit San Diego on game day, which would force the Quicken Loans Carrier Classic to be played in the Carl Vinson’s hangar deck. says there’s a 50 percent chance of rain on Friday, and they’re also saying that the high temperature will be 62 degrees.

Making things even worse for the players, there’s also supposed to be 10mph winds that could gust to significantly higher speeds.

Surely this can’t be a surprise to those who scheduled this game. November weather in San Diego is as unpredictable as a Sailor on liberty in Thailand. (Or perhaps a Sailor on Thai liberty is highly predictable?)

San Diego’s Quicken Loans Carrier Classic, USS Carl Vinson

So the back-up site is the hangar deck. Of course, the’ll have to clear out any flying machines present, those big brids that soar through the sky, flown by Sailors with Wings of Gold. Moving indoors will cut the seating in half. Being the Navy and all, we are planning contingencies and getting the alternative space ready:

Hangar Deck, USS Carl Vinson, Bad Weather Site

One of the seniors playing for the MSU Spartans has a brother in the Marine Corps. And Corps bro is going to watch hoops bro throw down:

A special reunion will take place onboard the USS Carl Vinson at Friday’s NCAA Carrier Classic basketball game when a local Marine will watch his brother play.

After finishing training in North Carolina, Marine 2nd Lt. Thomas Thornton – who was commissioned last summer – has arrived at Camp Pendleton for his assignment and also just in time for a big game.

Michigan State Uniform, Carrier Classic, USS Vinson

As for the uniform, it looks to be a special edition. Nevermind that the Spartans’ camouflage looks like the Army’s. About the baggy threads, the MSU coach has this to say:

”I think the uniforms are pretty cool,” Spartans head coach Tom Izzo said in a Monday release on

“They definitely put the spotlight on our military and that’s what this is for.”

No player names will appear on the back of the jerseys, instead being replaced by “U.S.A.” above uniform numbers.

But the big question remains: what do the local Sailors think? Months prior, it seemed an impossibility. When I raised the issue, people first assumed I was joking. Now that it is happening in mere days, weather is the main concern. And the hangar is a big step-down from the outside option.

Don’t pray for rain. Pray for temperate weather. If it is played on the flight deck, the first half will be in the waning daylight and the second will be in the dark, under the night lights. Go Navy! Beat the weather! (And Army. . .)