January 21, 2022

Open Thread 96

It's time for our regular open thread. Talk about whatever you want, so long as it isn't Culture War.

I am going to take the opportunity to announce that I'm working to turn the battleship post series into a book. I've currently got about 30,000 words revised, and am quite enjoying it when it isn't driving me crazy. The downside is that it's competing with blog posts for attention, and I'm reluctant to draw too heavily on the work I'm doing for what goes up here to make it easier to sell. (Unless I need to prototype an argument, and see if it works when other people look at it, hence the Coastal Attack post and the one I have going up Sunday.)

Also, I've asked a couple people to review the draft, and will reach out to more as I go. At some point, I may open it up a bit, but that time is not now.

Also, it's about time for another meetup, so we'll do our next one on Saturday the 29th at 1 PM US Central (GMT-6). Hope to see you there.

2018 overhauls are Bringing Back the Battleships, Why the Carriers are not Doomed Parts two and three, Stability, Pre-Dreadnoughts and Basics of Naval Strategy. 2019 overhauls are Interwar Naval Diplomacy, Commercial Aviation Part 5, Falklands Part 10, Spanish-American War Part 1, The NOAA Commissioned Corps and Ship Structure and Strength. 2020 overhauls are Billy Mitchell Part 4, Aerial Decoys, Pictures - Iowa Enlisted Quarters and Escorts. 2021 overhauls are The New Navy, Naval Airships Part 1, Merchant Ships - Whaling and Missile Guidance.


  1. January 21, 2022Echo said...

    Nice! From what Ian McCollum said, having a book with your name on it opens a lot of museum doors. I'm sure it'll be helpful in naval research too.

  2. January 22, 2022ike said...


    What is the planned scope of the book, if I may ask?

  3. January 22, 2022bean said...

    Thanks, both of you.


    A lot of those doors are already open, as I'm still part of the museum ship mafia. But having a book should be helpful.


    No secret there. It's intended to be an introductory history of the battleship, because there just isn't one out there. A lot of it is an adaptation of the stuff I've written here, although I'm broadening it and bringing in nations outside the UK/US.

  4. January 22, 2022bobbert said...

    I see how it is. : )

    You are writing the book little-boy-bean wishes he could have read.

  5. January 22, 2022bean said...

    The serious response to that is that I'm writing the book tour-guide-bean wishes he could have recommended to guests who asked.

  6. January 22, 2022Neal said...

    "The serious response to that is that I’m writing the book tour-guide-bean wishes he could have recommended to guests who asked."

    What a great approach toward any writing project and one that will ensure our enjoyment in reading it. I wish more authors would take this to heart.

    On another note, does anyone know what the wattage drop-off is over a unit of distance on the U.S. 5G system?

    The 777 and 787 radar altimeters are very low wattage and I am trying to get a picture on how far away one would expect a tower to be away so that there is no interference. 2 miles is what I have heard bandied about but that might be well of the mark.

    Bean, any rumblings if the FAA is going to fast track mods (PMATSO) on this? Not that they should have to of course as it was not ever a FAA or aviation problem until the cellular carriers came in on these frequencies and power levels--a problem they headed off in Europe. But the cellular companies do have some clout.

  7. January 22, 2022bean said...

    What a great approach toward any writing project and one that will ensure our enjoyment in reading it. I wish more authors would take this to heart.

    The majority of what I've written has had this as at least the unconscious subtext. A bit has been stuff that I really wanted to read, but that's most dominant in really nerdy things like battleship torpedoes.

    Bean, any rumblings if the FAA is going to fast track mods (PMATSO) on this?

    You'd be better-placed than me to know. I was in structures when I was on the commercial side, and I left that over four years ago.

  8. January 24, 2022bean said...

    One of the things I'm thinking about is how to handle data tables. While this isn't primarily a table-driven book, I do want to give a short version of the various ships discussed. One thing in particular where I think it's very possible to improve on the state of practice is describing armor. Most versions only have a specific thickness, or maybe a couple of thicknesses, but they obscure how much coverage the armor gives, and that's relegated to diagrams, if they exist. And in fairness, most modern reference books do have those, but those take up a lot of space.

    So what I propose to do is include a percentage coverage for any armor value I list. I'm thinking of calculating this from the aforementioned diagrams based on the area of belt coverage above the waterline/area of box formed by upper deck edge and the waterline. Belts less than 75% of the thickness of the main belt would be excluded. Shouldn't take all that long to work this out, and it's at least somewhat objective.

    Thoughts? Also, does anyone have recommendations for tools to do this with? I'm currently looking at something called ImageJ which at least measure areas and save them, but someone might have a better idea.

  9. January 24, 2022ike said...

    I don't know about tables, but what would look very sharp in print is a stat-card. Something like this in a standard shape you could put up whenever you mention a ship. (Let us pray that markup doesn't trash this.)

    KMS Whatever, 189X (picture of flag)

    LLL' BB' DDDDt AA" WW" xNN

    I don't know what your color budget is, but I think the period flags of all the great powers should be distinguishable in grayscale.

    Also, assuming you are starting with the ironclad, I have to perfect (joke) title for the work:

    Glory to Iowa: a history of the battleship.

  10. January 24, 2022bean said...

    That's more or less what I'm thinking of, although I think it would probably be more useful to put similar ships as close together as possible (the same table). That makes it straightforward to analyze them relative to each other, instead of having to hunt across the page to do so.

    Glory to Iowa: a history of the battleship.

    That is excellent. Yes, I'm starting with ironclads.

  11. January 24, 2022ike said...

    If you made them the right shape: relatively narrow top to bottom, full width of the page. You could just stack a dozen on top of each other and it would be easy to read like a table. It has been a while, but I think it should be easy to with MS access(or preferred equivalent).





  12. January 24, 2022bean said...

    That is one approach. Another is to just make a table in MS Word, which is what I'm using because it's already installed.

  13. January 24, 2022Kit said...

    If this has been discussed .. my apologies.

    Why was the USS Connecticut's leadership sacked? They hit an uncharted undersea mound. If this is dumb luck, you're throwing away expensively gained experience while being hugely unfair to real humans. If they did something wrong .. what was it?

  14. January 24, 2022Kit said...

    Is there anyplace one can tour a post wwii submarine? Close to Wisconsin would be best, but Im flexible because that might be crazy.

    (Which state built the most submarines? .. i dunno but Wisconsin built a lot and even has one available for tour still.)

  15. January 24, 2022bean said...

    The USN has had a bad habit in recent decades of sacking people when things go wrong, whether or not the people in question are actually at fault. It's often referred to as "exploding command pins", and I'm sure that Blackshoe can go into much more detail on this. The story I remember (and this wasn't recent) was a fender-bender between USN and RN ships that saw the American vessel stood down for safety refreshers or something, and the RN ship back on the line the next day. The RN Admiral said that he'd had a similar incident, and gotten a letter that started with "today, you became a better shiphandler".

    So the answer is that we don't know, but long experience suggests this is the USN being dumb in a way that everyone has been telling it to stop for years, and it isn't listening.

  16. January 24, 2022bean said...

    There's a few post-WWII submarines in the US, but not many. Checking my list, there's B-39 (Soviet) and Dolphin (research boat) in San Diego, Nautilus in Groton (amazing, but not close), Marlin in Omaha (training submarine), Albacore in New Hampshire (excellent, but also very far), Growler in NYC (Regulus boat, very far away) and Blueback in Portland (decent or better, been a long time). Razorback in Little Rock might also deserve a place on the list, as she's a GUPPY, unlike most (all?) of the other fleet boats on display, which are unmodernized.

    I have only been to three of the vessels on the list, but it's frankly hard to believe that any of them are going to match Nautilus if you're planning on going a long way to visit.

  17. January 24, 2022Kit said...

    I just spent over three minutes trying to find Little Rock, CA. Or Omaha, Mass. Wow. Cool. Much thanks!

  18. January 25, 2022Jade Nekotenshi said...

    Is it a sign that I spend too much time on things naval, or just a sign of needing more sleep, that when I saw "Little Rock, CA", my first reaction was "no, Little Rock is a CL or a CG depending on when you're asking!"

  19. January 25, 2022bean said...

    That's a sign of being amazing. Or maybe it's the sleep thing.

  20. January 25, 2022Ian Argent said...

    For as long as I can remember (which, in this case, runs back at least as far as my first reading of Red Storm Rising, if not my first steps as a mil-history dilettante) my impression has been the USN doesn't care whose fault it was, "the captain is always responsible in both law and custom" regardless of circumstances; and has been since the days of Noah. (It's been said that's why the CO gets the big bucks and the big ulcers...)

  21. January 25, 2022Jade Nekotenshi said...

    So, the USN just released a bit of info about the new DDG(X) project

    Interesting. The current plan calls for some kind of 150kW laser forward - I wonder what that's actually good for? A drone toaster? The after mounts, reserved for future 600kW lasers, get RAM at first - that I think makes a ton of sense. The headscratcher to me, though, is the midships VLS looks like an optional module, to maybe be baked in later? 32 cells seems a bit anemic for a Burke/Tico replacement - I'd think an additional 64 cell module to match current capability would be de rigeur with an option on another 32/64 cells, maybe? (That said, one diagram looks like and says 32 cells, the other is clearly 64, so, I'm not sure.)

    And it looks to me like the gun is either the same 5"/62 as on the current ships, or else something substantially similar in size and impact. Good, I was half-afraid they'd try to get away with the 57mm peashooter on this, too. (But then, I'm the nutbag that thinks it wouldn't kill 'em to resurrect Mk 71 or something like it, even without the guided gee-whiz.)

    Interestingly they don't really mention overall size but it looks a little bigger than a Burke or a Tico, if I were guessing.

  22. January 25, 2022Ian Argent said...

    In re US 5G, my background is "on the other side" from the FAA and airlines, but my take (based entirely on open-source reporting and publicly-available knowledge of "how does a cellular work" - so I can comment for myself, if not my employer) is that this is a sausage duel between the FAA and the FCC as to whose cost/benefit equations are to be used, and secondarily, who will pay for the recertification of the airline electronics to be certified for use in the post-5G environment. This is at least the 3rd major episode in the saga that I'm aware of in this ongoing turf war.

    FWIW - CTIA says "Nearly 40 Countries Already Use 5G in the C-Band—With No Impact on Aviation" - https://www.5gandaviation.com/ - and includes almost the entire EU on their map. (I would take them with a mine of salt, being as their entire raison d'etre is to lobby on behalf of the cellular industry)

  23. January 25, 2022Lambert said...

    What kind of diagrams do you want to extract the areas from?

    Normally I'd recommend some dedicated typesetting tool for any important document longer than a dozen pages but I understand that the defense sector is able to do great and terrible things with MS office.

  24. January 25, 2022bean said...

    Stuff like this. In practice, I'm mostly likely just going to take a picture of the diagram with my phone (most are in books I don't have scans of, and yes, I know the problems with this, but am pretty sure that they're minimal compared to my accuracy needs) and then measure armor vs side area from that.

  25. January 27, 2022Anonymous said...

    That spam lasted a long time.

  26. January 27, 2022bean said...

    That's because I thought I deleted it before I went in to block the websites, and it turns out that I didn't.

  27. January 27, 2022Blackshoe said...

    I realized I didn't put up my list of books I finished this year, so allow me to rectify this (select "2021" from the collections-the button with the folder icon on the upper left side) if it's not what comes up.

    @Kit: the short answer to this question is because default USN policy, someone must be found to have been wrong and ergo held "accountable", and the limit of these people is the CO/XO/CMC(COB) level (because God Forbid we find out that maybe admirals didn't resource/support lower Echelons correctly). Often, an investigation reveals that the ship/boat was doing Something Not In Accordance With (even if that had no material impact on the collision/allision that spawned the investigation). So I'm sure the investigation found Something Not IAW, so the Command Triad had to go. As I have alluded to before, this is always presented as A Great Tradition of the Navy(tm), but really it's basically a Rickover thing, and really really a Rickover's Disciples thing.

    Yes, I am cynical about this, why do you ask?

  28. January 27, 2022Blackshoe said...

    Ugh, I realized I hit post too soon and wanted to add more about books I read last year.

    Anyway, here's the ones that are most naval-y and/or relevant to this blog: -Angola, Clausewitz and the American Way of War (John McCain IV) -The Bridges at Toko-Ri (James Michener) -Building the Mosquito Fleet (Richard V. Simpson) -The Fleet at Flood Tide (James D. Hornfischer) -The Lonely Sea (Alistair MacLean) -A Man and His Ship (Stephen Ujifusa) -Shadow Divers (Robert Kurson)

  29. January 27, 2022Goose of Doom said...

    So, what about the F-35C lost in the South China Sea? Any speculations about who will get it, when, and whether we'll hear more than vague rumblings and rumors?

  30. January 27, 2022Lambert said...

    You could use some CAD package or other to import the image, trace a sketch around the relevant area and use the measurement tools to get the area. Annoyingly this doesn't seem to be possible in Freecad without resorting to the python terminal. Fusion360 might be an option depending on how it's licenced nowadays.

  31. January 27, 2022Neal said...


    Blackshoe had recommended a book that one of his colleagues had written regarding this aspect of the Navy. When I am back home I will get the title for you. It was an excellent overview of decision making, responsibility, and accountability. I doubly enjoyed it because the lessons apply to undertakings beyond Naval operations. Fair warning: Some of the examples will make you want to bang your head against a concrete wall as you realize that you, as a taxpayer, are funding some of that outdated thinking.

    Blackshoe had also answered on a previous open thread, in some detail, a question I had posed about Rickover and his legacy within the Navy on the issues named above. When I am using something other than my phone I will see if I can dig up that thread.

  32. January 28, 2022Blackshoe said...

    @Neal and Kit: Crimes of Command, by Michael Junge

  33. January 28, 2022Blackshoe said...

    And the post was in OT72 (should have once again finished reading the whole of Neal's post)

  34. January 28, 2022Jade Nekotenshi said...

    Say - does anyone know if there's a program out there that can be used to do diagrams of modernish ships? For the purposes of messing around with various ideas, mostly.

    Or is this the kind of thing better done with Photoshop/GIMP/etc?

  35. January 28, 2022cwillu said...

    @Jade something like illustrator or inkscape would probably be a better starting point. The “right” answer is probably a cad package of some sort, but who has time for that? :p

  36. January 29, 2022Neal said...


    The F-35 incident seems to have been a ramp strike in/around the fantail area. Seven sailors injured but now stable.

    Take this video FWIW/block of salt, but the race is now on to recover the aircraft. Obviously the Navy knows the area, but depending on how close to China it was the Chinese might be able to get salvage assets on site sooner.


    @Blackshoe Thanks for posting the title of the book at the OT number.

  37. January 31, 2022Johan Larson said...

    The USMC is a storied service with an admirable reputation. But are they the best in any useful sense? And if so, in how broad a domain are they the best?

    To start from the top, are they the best military service in the world? That's a fuzzy question, but I would guess no; they are probably not as awesome as the Israeli Air Force, just for starters.

    But what about more specific domains? Might they be the finest large (>100,000 people) ground combat force? The finest rapid deployment force? Or best amphibious force?

    Curious to hear what people will come up with.

  38. January 31, 2022bean said...

    I'm not sure I'd consider the Israeli Air Force particularly awesome. The whole IDF looks good because they're facing Arabs, who for reasons that aren't quite clear have historically had terrible militaries. But they've often screwed up in ways that would have had a competent opponent eating their lunch.

    They're definitely among the best forces of their size, and undisputed world masters at amphibious operations at that sort of scale. They're also the best at eating crayons.

  39. January 31, 2022Philistine said...

    AIUI the USMC is mostly light infantry, and shouldn't be expected to be much more than a speedbump for heavy mechanized or armored units from anything like a peer enemy. As an expeditionary force, though, their combination of mobility with in-house armor, aviation, etc. support makes them quite possibly the best in the world.

  40. February 01, 2022Anonymous said...

    Johan Larson:

    The USMC is a storied service with an admirable reputation. But are they the best in any useful sense? And if so, in how broad a domain are they the best?

    They have great PR.


    The whole IDF looks good because they're facing Arabs, who for reasons that aren't quite clear have historically had terrible militaries.

    A large part of it is that they've sabotaged their militaries to avoid a coup (which is a much bigger threat to the rulers than other states).

    If the IDF is good at something it'd probably be counter-terrorism as that's what they've been doing lately, they haven't really been up against even an Arab military for decades but Hamas are a different story.

  41. February 02, 2022bean said...

    A large part of it is that they've sabotaged their militaries to avoid a coup (which is a much bigger threat to the rulers than other states).

    I am reading a book called Armies of Sand, which goes into great detail on the various explanations for Arab military performance. Trying to coup-proof their militaries hasn't helped, but it's not nearly a complete explanation.

  42. February 02, 2022ike said...

    How did the Arabs get this reputation? Didn't they destroy the French 4th Republic single handedly?

  43. February 02, 2022Philistine said...

    The French Fourth Republic seems to have been brought down by its own internal contradictions; the Algerians needed give it only a small push to cause the military to say, "Forget the elected government, we want De Gaulle back at the helm." In any case, the FLN certainly didn't "destroy" the French government by invading France and waging a conventional war against it. Rather, they waged a guerilla campaign that exhausted the will of the French people to continue. That's a very different thing, and it doesn't require much in the way of military prowess at all.

  44. February 02, 2022ike said...


    If that is true and the French army was completely undegraded, how did the new Algerian government get away with their suitcase-or-coffin minority policy without getting a punitive expedition dropped one their heads.

  45. February 02, 2022Philistine said...


    See above re: "exhausted the will of the French people." They got away with it because by 1962 the French public didn't want anything but out, and the European-Algerians (and their native allies) were seen as not only culpable in the brutality of the Algerian War but also the biggest obstacle in the way to ending it. Remember that 91%(!) of French voters approved of the Evian accords - the kind of unity almost never found in actual democracies.

  46. February 03, 2022cassander said...

    It's important to remember that, in the end, the FLN lost. they had been driven out of algeria and were being effectively kept out.

  47. February 03, 2022Anonymous said...

    The FLN ruled as a one-party state from 1962 to 1989, that does not look like lost to me.

  48. February 04, 2022Philistine said...

    The French people decided it wasn't worth the cost in blood, treasure, and self-image to hold on to a bunch of people who didn't want to be held on to. That wasn't because the French Army couldn't squash the FLN like itty bitty bugs any time they raised their heads, because they could (and did); it was because at that point France had been fighting almost continuously for over 20 years and they were done.

  49. February 04, 2022cassander said...


    they lost the war, but were given it back at the peace table. winds of change, the horror at some of the methods used to win, and a bunch of other wider political realities conspired to obscure the reality on the ground. It's similar to the problem with the US in iraq where we accomplished our goals, but only after so much time and effort and bad press that it felt like we hadn't.

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