Daily Archives: 01/21/2005

Outdated Charts Caused Sub Accident

It is looking like outdated charts were the cause of this month’s accidental grounding of the U.S.S. San Francisco south of Guam. The charts used on board the submarine dated from 1989. Naval investigators are focusing on the charts used, since the submarine was not off course at the time of the accident.

Officials at the Bethesda, MD.-based National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency said Saturday the main chart likely used by the U.S.S. San Francisco didn’t reveal any obstacle anywhere near where the boat struck on the floor of the Pacific Ocean during underwater operations last Saturday about 350 miles south of Guam.

The closest notation on the map indicates discolored water about three miles from the accident site. The discolored water was reported by the Japanese most likely in the 1960s or even earlier, according to David Burpee, the agency’s spokesman.

The Defense Mapping Agency created the chart in 1989, and it was never revised. That agency later became a part of the Defense Department’s National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, responsible for maps and sea charts.

Burpee said a satellite photograph taken 10 years later could be read in hindsight to show an undersea mountain not on the chart, but that was not clear at the time and, in any case, the photo was just one among thousands of shots of ocean expanses that have not been fully charted using all the latest methods.

…”It’s not like there was one little area that got away from us, that escaped detection,” he said. “This is part of a massive amount of sea that has not been mapped or charted in detail.”

The emphasis in charting has been on the Northern Hemisphere because that’s where the majority of commerce is, he said.

The submarine crashed head-on into an undersea mountain that was not on the charts while traveling at 30 knots. No officials say they have found a satellite image taken in 1999 that indicates an undersea mountain rising to perhaps within 100 feet below the surface there. The accident highlights the need for more exact charts of the ocean floor. Increasingly submarines no longer patrol the frozen waters of the Arctic and North Pacific, lurking beneath the waves to launch a counterstrike in the event of a nuclear war. The 21st century demands that submarines be used in counter terrorism activities, in the waters of the Middle East and Southeast Asia.

Asian Tsunami Death Toll Reaches 220,000

The number of dead from last month’s tsunami topped 220,000 yesterday, after Indonesian authorities revised their estimates sharply upward. Health authorities revised more than 77,000 people listed as missing as deceased.

In a related story, Guam veterinarian Joseph Edhlund is still in Indonesia helping with tsunami relief, despite the loss of his plane. Edhlund left for Indonesia earlier this month with his charter Beechcraft to render assistance. On January 9th he was ferrying supplies and South African aid workers into the city of Meulaboh when the airplane veered sharply and skidded off the runway on its belly. The damage grounded Edhlund’s plane, but he continues to help local airlines transport supplies and aid workers to the stricken province.

Moleskines & Mac Minis

Mac Mini and Moleskine, from RohDesign.comThe last week has been a busy one in the Apple Macintosh world. The MacWorld Expo was the scene of Apple’s latest unveilings, the Mac Mini and the iPod Shuffle. Looks like Apple is finally making a serious move for the low end computer market. The Mac Mini is creating a lot of buzz around the web, and I am sure the iPod Shuffle will sell like hotcakes. Apple is banking on the “halo effect” from iPod users to generate interest in the Mac Minis. Hell, I’d buy one if I hadn’t just bought a regular iPod. I really hope the Mac Mini sparks sales of Apple Computers. The Macintosh is insanely great, always has been, always will be.

On a related note, another topic bouncing around on the internet for the last week is the current buzz gathering about Moleskine notebooks. Apparently even the Wall Street Journal is talking about the leather lined notebooks. These decidedly low-tech artifacts are enormously popular amongst the digerati. I must confess, I got a couple Moleskines laying about my house and they are pretty damn nice notebooks. I use them constantly when traveling. And it’s not just because Van Gogh and Hemingway used Moleskines; that accordion pocket in the back is so damn useful. I stuff my passport and tickets in there, a postcard or two, and various receipts I want to keep handy. No batteries needed, rugged, portable and useful – who needs a PDA?