Your Olde Shipmates

Part of being in the Navy, at a very popular vacation spot, is that you are bound to run into old shipmates. Sure enough, day two, I spied a familiar face in the local coffee shop. Looking haggard.

Hey, how are you? How are things? I asked him. Just got into town.

Good. I leave in two days for DC. Done with my tour.

Ah, too bad. How was your last deployment?


I can tell.


(Laughing) Sorry…

It was disappointing that he was not going to be in town. Smart guys like him are invaluable to turn to even if he was stationed on a different ship. I wished him good luck in DC. That did not seem to me like a fair exchange, Japan for the Pentagram.

Later in the day, while returning to the humble confines of the Navy Lodge, I saw another guy I knew. I forgot where I knew him, only that I did not like him. A fact of life is that I (you) can’t get along with everyone.

He grinned at me, as if he expected me to say hello. I just walked by him and went to my room. I hate playing fake. Why catch up with someone when you have nothing positive to say? Anyway, as I opened my door, I remembered. He had a very college way about him, with not a military bone in his body. And I did not agree with him on anything. Ah well, hopefully he is not on my new ship…

The Navy Issues Cost Effective Headgear

Chief Fire Controlman Brent Russell, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer Fitzgerald, practices the art of origami with students from the Inouzawa Elementary School during a community service project in Shimoda, Japan, on Friday. Fitzgerald is in Shimoda to participate in the 74th annual Black Ship Festival commemorating the 1854 landing of Commodore Matthew Perry and the subsequent opening of the Port of Shimoda to the western world.
Chief Fire Controlman Brent Russell, assigned to the guided-missile destroyer Fitzgerald, practices the art of origami with students from the Inouzawa Elementary School during a community service project in Shimoda, Japan, on Friday. Fitzgerald is in Shimoda to participate in the 74th annual Black Ship Festival commemorating the 1854 landing of Commodore Matthew Perry and the subsequent opening of the Port of Shimoda to the western world.

Is Asia the Europe of World War I?

Political matters are certainly tense these days in Asia, what with China’s squabbles with Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines among others. But is it fair to compare the region to Europe pre-WWI?

Despite no one wanting to see conflict in Asia, the ranks of doomsayers and worrywarts seem to grow by the day. The specter haunting the continent is that of China’s geo-political rise. Governments near and far are watching warily as the budding nondemocratic superpower asserts itself on the international stage, tacitly challenging a Pax Americana that has existed since 1945. Some countries are already locked in combustible disputes with Beijing: the region’s waters have been roiled in recent years by standoffs over barren islands to China’s south and east; Chinese relations with Vietnam, Japan and the Philippines all soured as a result.

The climate of tensions is thick enough to have drawn comparisons to a perilous moment a century ago. In separateopinion pieces this week, two former Asian foreign ministers likened Asia now to pre–World War I Europe, then strung together by a tangle of imperial enmities and alliances. The South China Sea — a pivotal, strategic body of water that China considers its “internal lake,” much to the ire of its neighbors — is, like the Balkans a hundred years ago, the supposed tinderbox that could spark a larger regional conflagration, if not a full-fledged war.

Local militaries are not just standing by. Look at what Manilla is doing:

Military officials looking at a model of a FA-50 fighter jet. Manila will soon finalise a US$443 million deal to buy 12 of the jets.
Military officials looking at a model of a FA-50 fighter jet. Manila will soon finalise a US$443 million deal to buy 12 of the jets.

And the article states the Philippines may soon acquire F-16s as well.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wherever you might be, whoever you might be with, whatever you might be eating, please have a Happy Thanksgiving:

Family members of sailors assigned to the aircraft carrier George Washington greet the ship as it returns to Fleet Activities, Yokosuka, Japan, on Tuesday.

And to our enemies: You, too, have a nice Thanksgiving. Hopefully, you will be able to give thanks for your fondest wish soon. . .

Birthing Aboard an Aircraft Carrier

Alternate Title: Berthing Aboard an Aircraft Carrier

Relatively speaking, an aircraft carrier is a roomy naval vessel. There are no hot racks (where a bed, a rack, is rotated on shifts, usually found in the submarine community.) And each Sailor gets a certain amount of personal space, depending on rank.

During my recent seagoing jaunt, me and my team first ended up in the Chief’s overflow berthing. We had a retired Master Chief with us and we did not argue with the assignment. It was just us in there, so I did not feel out of place, being an Officer in the Enlisted berthing and all.

Here is a picture of nearly an exact match to our space. These “pirates” look far more jovial than how we appeared. From a community relations event on the old USS Kitty Hawk (affectionately called the Shhhh-itty Hawk):

Students from Ikego Elementary School, Japan, experience first-hand what it is like to live in ship’s berthing during a tour aboard the conventionally powered aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk.

After two weeks, I had the opportunity to switch berthing. I spent all of an hour thinking it over.

I clunked my gear over to Officer Country and my new two-man stateroom. I had a little more space to stretch out and as I packed my clothes in my wall-locker, I wondered when I would meet my roommate. He still did not know he was losing his cozy one-man room. So smart was he, that he did not even put his name on the door.

I returned to the stateroom from working around 2100. I showered and hit the rack, thinking that perhaps the room was unoccupied. After all, there was some shoes and books, but maybe that officer did not make the cruise?

2200 flicked by and the stateroom door opened. I lay still as a mummy. The light glared on. Should I say hi? I had better.

I parted the blue curtain and greeted my new roommate. Howdy!

Aiieeee! he yelled, almost fouling the weather deck.

Sorry, man. Sorry. I did not want to scare you.

We chatted, him more cautious than me. In the old tradition of the Navy, I determined that I was the senior lieutenant, but I graciously allowed him to keep the bottom rack. Not only did I shave a year off his life, but I also pulled rank. Pretty obnoxious, eh?

I had my reasons on wanting to keep the top rack. First and foremost, it was right below the flight deck. And the sensation of having jets launch above your head is initially frightening and then exciting and then just boring. In that order. The whole room shook in a certain sequence, over and over with each launch. I filmed a movie of it, but my cell phone could not handle the loud noise. Go watch this YouTube video of an F-18 catapult. And then imagine lying right underneath it.

Our stateroom had one of four major smells: jet fuel (no surprise), hamburgers (we were near the wardroom), glue (no idea), or air freshener.

Every fifteen minutes, we were spritzed with one of those automatic air sprays. Country meadows, I think, was the flavor. And if I closed my eyes, I could hear the Von Trapps frolicking down a country hillside and chatting in their Germanic lilt. I if I listened really carefully, I could hear Julie Andrews singing. Wait, that was a jet trap and the sound of the number three wire dragging back across the deck after being grabbed by the tailhook. Not Von Trapp. My mistake.

Note: The Shore Patrol, after reading this post, requested that I turn in my man card. Who in their right mind compares a jet trap to a Von Trapp?

USS Denver’s shore patrol of Sailors and Marines, in Acapulco, Mexico, ca 1913.

Navy Shower or Hollywood Shower?

Ask anyone in the Navy what a Hollywood shower is. (Hint: a Hollywood shower is the exact opposite of a Navy shower.) Let’s review the two: 

navy shower (also known as a “sea shower”, “military shower” or “staggered shower”) is a method of showering that allows for significant conservation of water and energy by turning off water during the “middle” portion. An initial thirty seconds or so are used to get wet, followed by soap and lather, which is then rinsed off in a minute or less. The total time for the water being on is typically under two minutes.

Navy showers originated on naval ships, where supplies of fresh water were often scarce. Using this method, crew members were able to stay clean, while conserving their limited water supply. The idea has been adopted by many people who wish to conserve water and the energy needed to heat the water, for both environmental and economic reasons. Maritime cruisers often take navy showers when they are not in a port with easy access to fresh water. A ten-minute shower takes as much as 230 litres (60 U.S. gallons) of water, while a navy shower usually takes as little as 11 litres (3 U.S. gallons); one person can save 56,000 litres (15,000 U.S. gallons) per year.

The United States Navy phrase Hollywood shower contrasts with navy shower, and refers to long lavish showers without limits on water usage.

So it follows, that when a ship returns from deployment, Sailors are itching for baths:

A resident snow monkey bathing with her infant at Yudanaka’s snow monkey park, near Nagano, Japan. Although heavily photographed the monkeys appear fairly wild and have adopted a daily ritual of bathing in the hot springs.

Errrrr-rah Marine, Cobra Blood!

Navy OCS, Pensacola Florida, ’05- We are standing in formation. Our drill instructor is talking to us in his usual low growl. Since I am tall, I’m in the back. And I can see everyone in front of me. Not that I look anywhere, but dead ahead. I ain’t dumb.

A supply officer candidate in the first row turns ever so slightly to watch a garbage truck pass. Big mistake. Our DI is all over him. Oh, so you like that truck?

No, Sir!

I think you do, Crazy. Tell him you like his truck.

I like your truck, the candidate says in a loud voice.

You had better yell there, Candidate. 


That’s right. Now all you, get in the grass and push. 

Into the crabgrass we run and crank out pushups. The grass’s rough, but after you get accustomed to pushups, and we are accustomed, they click by like clockwork. I even smile. To myself. While thinking: I like your truck!

Why, you might ask, would our DI be so concerned about eyeing a truck? Because it shows lack of focus. And focus is often required for survival in hairy situations:

Uncle Sam wants you — to drink snake blood, eat bugs and slaughter chickens.

A U.S. Marine drinks cobra blood Monday during a jungle survival program as part of Cobra Gold 2012, a combined military exercise at a navy base in Sattahip, Thailand.

U.S. Marines participating in jungle survival courses in Thailand are captured in a series of startling photos drinking cobra blood, noshing on native insects and beheading at least one live chicken as part of an annual training exercise with allies in Asia.

Some 13,000 soldiers from 20 different countries participated in Cobra Gold.

Known as Exercise Cobra Gold, the event brings together some 13,000 soldiers from more than 20 nations, including the U.S., Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and South Korea.

Get some. Cobra Blood.

Eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini, Two Mercedes, and a 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS: All Wrecked

This has got to hurt the pocketbooks and tear ducts of some car enthusiasts:

An outing of luxury sportscar enthusiasts in Japan ended in an expensive freeway pileup — smashing a stunning eight Ferraris, a Lamborghini and two Mercedes likely worth more than $1 million together.

Crashed Ferrraris, Lamborghini, & Mercedes, Chugoku Expressway in Shimonoseki, Japan

But that was not the only sob story involving expensive red cars crashing. Ready your hankies yet again (or if you are in the body shop business, get the dent puller, tig welder, and patience ready.)

Ndamukong Suh lied about the Portand car accident in his 1970 Chevy Chevelle SS

Whose car is that? Remember Ndamukong Suh?

Just after the accident happened at approximately 1 a.m. Saturday, Suh told Portland police that he was passing a taxi cab when he lost control of his 1970 Chevy Coupe and crashed into a tree. He told police that nobody in the car was injured, and no tickets or citations were given.

But two people in the car have since spoken to Portland TV station KGW, and their versions of the accident and its effects differ quite seriously from Suh’s version at the scene.

Sad. All those red cars. Gone. And Ndamukong Suh’s reputation. Also adios’d. I imagine he will talking to Roger, yet again.

I’ll Get You, My Pretty, and Your Little Toilet Too!

Toto, the Japanese toilet maker, has really stepped in it. This is their new product:

Toto Toilet Motorcycle 

The thing runs on, um, sewage:

A new motorcycle that has a toilet for a seat and runs on sewage just completed a 600-mile trek across Japan.

The eco-friendly, three-wheel Neo runs on biogas produced from sewage and was built by Japanese toilet maker Toto. It has a (non-working) toilet for a seat and a giant roll of toilet paper mounted on the back.

Wow. Now I have seen it all. I wonder if it is comfy?

“Although the seat of the bike is indeed a toilet, it is not for actual use,” Kenji Fujita told Reuters. “The fuel is eco-friendly biogas, stored in the tanks on the back.”

“It’s a surprisingly nice way to travel.”

There you have it. Suddenly I have a great urge, uh, to take a 600-mile motorcycle trek.

Bloggers: Do Not Read This Post

Come Back

This post is for non-bloggers only. If you have your own site, you are hereby warned, under penalty of law, not to read this.

What’s a-causing the big commotion?

Well, Japan is seeking some publicity. From some “highly influential blogger-types.” (Of course, this pre-requisite immediately disqualifies me.) The unusual tactics direct from the source:

Japanese Geisha Bloggers

“We are hoping to get highly influential blogger-types, and others who can spread the word that Japan is a safe place to visit,” said Kazuyoshi Sato, with the agency.

Interesting. How and who is going to implement the program?

If you’ve ever wanted to visit Japan, this may be your chance.

In a desperate attempt to lure tourists back to a country plagued by radiation fears and constant earthquakes, the Japan Tourism Agency‘s proposed an unprecedented campaign – 10,000 free roundtrip tickets.

Japan, Blogger’s Paradise

The catch is, you need to publicize your trip on blogs and social media sites.

Fellow bloggers, if you read this, despite my musculary warnings, do not enter the contest with the good folks at the Japan Tourism Agency.

Or, if despite my exhortations to the oppostie, you insist on casting your name into the Japanese bowler hat, and you actually win, you had better take me with you!

I suppose now is a good enough time as any to explore the latest and greatest from cherry-blossom land. Let’s see, another WikiSneaks nugget:

President Barack Obama Bowing to Japan’s Emperor

A heretofore secret cable dated Sept. 3, 2009, was recently released by WikiLeaks. Sent to Secretary of State Clinton, it reported Japan’s Vice Foreign Minister Mitoji Yabunaka telling U.S. Ambassador John Roos that “the idea of President Obama visiting Hiroshima to apologize for the atomic bombing during World War II is a ‘nonstarter.’”

In keeping with the (mostly) apolitical vein of this blog, I won’t comment on the above. Although Bryan Preston, from PJ Media, does have several interesting Navy tales to tell, and we are nothing if not interested in those. He also offers a good pol-mil perspective:

Japan wants you to visit!

As weird as this sounds, having studied the war and the post-war period extensively and having lived in Japan for years and visited both Hiroshima and Nagasaki, I’m convinced that the atomic bombings saved Japan.

They saved Japan from her own militarism and from potential Soviet invasion and partition.

America bequeathed to our bitter enemy a democracy that functions well to this day, and Japan is our strong friend despite its having raised its hand against us.

America has nothing to apologize for in its conduct or conclusion of that war. Nothing at all.

Japan and the United States: friends. What else is going on with the Land of the Rising Fun? The Japanese Navy visiting Pearl Harbor:

Japanese Sailor working, Chiefs looking Chiefly above him

A Japanese naval training squadron is expected to arrive at Pearl Harbor for a port visit.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Training Squadron is expected to arrive Monday morning at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam.

And what is Japan without a little wackiness? This time with cats:

The city of Saga has found an interesting way of dealing with stray cats.

Instead of sending animal control officers to round up and imprison the cats, it has turned them into celebrities.

One lucky Japanese cat in Saga, Japan

Two years ago, eight of the downtown area’s stray cats were designated “stray cat idols.”

Local shops began to sell souvenirs featuring images of the eight “lucky” cats, and one bakery sold cookie reproductions of them.

Under penalty of losing my man card, watch the video on the link above. It is priceless.