Subject: STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER #73 -- September 8th, 1998
To: Original distribution is to subscribers only (news organizations and public officials excepted) but others are encouraged to redistribute properly. To unsubscribe, see instructions at the bottom of this newsletter.
The same day (August 27th, 1998) I published newsletter #71 condemning America's use of nuclear aircraft carriers, the United States General Accounting Office (GAO) released a major report comparing nuclear aircraft carriers to conventionally-powered aircraft carriers. We recieved a copy shortly thereafter and have reviewed the interesting conclusions they draw, which are in short, that CVNs are fiscally irresponsible. This newsletter consists of excerpts from the report and a continued discussion of the issue, in the form of a followup letter to the San Diego Union-Tribune.
Sincerely, Russell D. Hoffman, Editor, STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER
***** STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER Volume #73, September 8th, 1998 *****
****** VOLUME #73, September 8th, 1998 ******
By Russell D. Hoffman
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman
*** GAO report comparing CVs to CVNs
San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego, CA
September 3rd, 1998
To The Editor:
Last month I sent you a letter regarding the value of our nuclear carrier fleet, which I see as a negative asset when all aspects are considered. It was in order to balance the blasphemy of the outrageous slanders in your editorial.
Recently I received a copy of United States General Accounting Office Report to Congressional Requesters publication GAO/NSIAD-98-1: NAVY AIRCRAFT CARRIERS: Cost-Effectiveness of Conventionally and Nuclear-Powered Carriers, published August 27th, 1998. If you have not ordered a copy yet, you should be sure to order one from the GAO. I also recommend you tell your readers how to order it as well, since they won't hear what it has to say from you, that's for sure, so it would be the least you could do to begin to achieve balanced reporting to at least tell them how to get the important Government report. It is available from the General Accounting Office in Washington, DC, (202-512-6000). There is no charge for the report -- U. S. citizens can get it for free, and they should. I believe it is all our civic duty to understand these issues.
A review of GAO/NSIAD-98-1 confirms numerous points made in my letter of last month, which you would not publish, and even goes way beyond my own comments on a number of issues. And why shouldn't it? They came up with their views by simply trying to look at real numbers. Not having access to their figures at the time, I came up with my views by trying to look at the matter logically, having studied Navy history and operations for decades as a civilian U.S. citizen who wants this country to be the strongest and safest, best and most admirable place on Earth. That is all I want for my country -- what do you want for it? Domination through Terror? Self-destruction through Nuclear Accidents?
What makes America #1 is a complex issue. So was deciding to build aircraft carriers in the first place. The Navy brass were extremely slow in understanding their importance. The U.S. Military was also extremely slow in recognizing the importance of air power -- it took a classic book called Victory Through Air Power to wake America up on that issue.
Regarding the various aspects of the nuclear debate, I frankly cannot believe your attitude. How can the newspaper of record in San Diego simply refuse to publish virtually any significant information on one side of so important an issue?
To my many arguments against nuclear aircraft carriers, the GAO report adds that they are also 58% more expensive. They also add that other countries such as Japan, which has seen the horrors of nuclear war, do not welcome these nuclear carriers. This means they may not be able to find a welcome nearby port if the need arises, when a conventionally-powered carrier could.
And I'd like to add that the secrecy and underhandedness, the useless security clearances that the nuclear Navy requires, that conventional forces don't -- that's all hogwash. It should be opened up and presented to the public. The nuclear option is not actually even all that "high-tech" anymore, anyway. In fact, a nuclear aircraft carrier powerplant is nothing more than pumps, pipes, valves and containers, just like the powerplant of any other motorized ship, with one major addition -- huge quantities of radioactive poison -- the poison being the only real difference, technologically, between nuclear aircraft carriers and regularly-powered aircraft carriers (as the GAO report makes pretty clear).
I write training software which happens to be used in nuclear facilities, among other places. I am not an engineer, but I have a good working knowledge of what makes up an aircraft carrier, nuclear or otherwise (see affiliation listing, below). I personally challenge Captain Roulstone to be able to show me one part of his 97,000 ton ship which I would not be able to claim to be at least somewhat familiar with already, in the general sense. As the saying goes, this isn't rocket science, though America has little reason to be proud of that right now either. Secrets? These are not secrets. Even North Korea can build a pretty good missile these days -- at least, they have built one that was successfully fired over Japan. I'd say that's pretty successful. These are not really necessary state secrets at all! The real people the secrets are being kept from are the American people who no longer think about the issues, thanks to years of lies from papers like yours, supporting criminally insane leaders who have led us down this primrose path which heads only towards pestilence and death. These are not state secrets at all. That's just an excuse to hide sloppy work and awful truths. Go ahead: Tell the public the official reason why the nuclear submarine Thresher probably went down! In today's paper, your readers are asking, so tell them: Sloppy welds in its hull!
There are no secrets regarding nuclear propulsion that warrant hidden evacuation plans, non-reporting of most incidents, delayed reporting of others, and not to mention investigation of those who oppose the Nuclear Madness. One reason it cannot be secret, is that the best evacuation plans involve an organized populace. Some go to one evacuation point, some to another. For example tens of thousands of people could crowd onto a functional aircraft carrier if another one in port suffered a meltdown. But not the whole city, and even to get 50,000 on board the ship, you would probably have to launch all the planes to make room (each with a full load of refugees if they have any room at all) or push them off the ship into the bay if necessary. Tough job but that's what you would have to do to save San Diego's citizens. There would be NOTHING you could do for San Diego Bay.
But such a plan and hundreds of other plans all depend on the public knowing what to do. The only possible "secret" plan is: Good luck, you're on your own. Only so many, and no more, should be expected to board military ships. Others will use the trolleys (which will suddenly become very popular, until they get to the end of the line the first time, and then they will have trouble making it all the way back, because each station along the way will have enough people to fill the cars many times over.) Unless plans are already in place, planes will probably leave without having people standing in the aisles -- wouldn't want to violate FAA regulations, would we? But a public plan CAN specifically ensure that FAA "regs" will be set aside for the greater good. Secret evacuation plans? There's no such thing.
If the public doesn't know what it is expected to do, then the big ships will high-tail it out of town empty-handed, and that would be criminally wrong. So how is it possible to have a responsible plan to evacuate the citizenry, and not tell us what it is? The true reason for the secrecy is simple to anyone who has contemplated what it would take to empty San Diego County in a matter of hours. What would it take? It would take a miracle. Barring that, careful public planning is the only hope. But you don't want to scare the populace. You don't want to publish evacuation routes. You don't want to admit that the Navy's claim of 5000+ reactor years without a reactor-induced failure includes perhaps as many as 30 of these so called years every year in San Diego bay, among the dozens of nuclear reactors that are berthed here at any one time. Accidents happen.
Even the GAO only calculates the cost of decommissioning out to 100 years beyond the original commission date -- and that's with a 50 year life of the ship, a dubious judgement in light of how fast things change these days (for example new stealthier hulls might require scrapping the entire fleet early!) -- and also a dubious judgement in light of the fact that so many nuclear plants in civilian life don't make it (for economic reasons) to their projected decommissioning dates, or if they do, they are doing so at significantly reduced capacities (and reduced profits). Since an aircraft carrier could hardly be expected to be considered operational at such reduced capacities, it may well be that the many problems which plague the rest of the nuclear industry will/are plaguing the Navy's reactors as well. And Russia's fleet of rusting subs in Murmansk -- they didn't make it 50 years either.
You completely ignored the anti-nuclear Cassini viewpoint last year too until you felt compelled for one reason or another to publish a single vicious and unwarranted editorial against us. But our views have received numerous vindications since the October 1997 launch, with numerous space accidents. (Or hadn't you noticed?) Thus, this is not the first time that you have slandered me (but not, alas, by name) or those with views similar to mine, in one of your sickening boilerplate editorials. Regarding the J.C. Stennis, my comments were timely, my criticisms were precise. The time to print them was the day you received them. Yet you held the commentary. You still hold it. You sit on facts and alternative viewpoints -- I am a dissident, I am an American, and I am censored in my own country -- and meanwhile, you spew forth vindictive against good scientists and other good honest people who have no reason to desire more than a fair fight from you, because if we had that, our facts would surely stand by themselves. The nuclear option is old, outdated, and unwanted. It is being thrust upon American citizens by propaganda, lies, and coverups. If the truth were presented in your paper, the people would have a chance to decide for themselves. But instead, you hold on to your outdated opinions, and bend the news accordingly, through censorship, and with degrading insults by the ton, marginalizing and oppressing the opposition voice rather than trying to reason against it.
Not that I blame you, really. Your view cannot sustain scientific or logical scrutiny. Yet you hold onto it, despite all the reason, all the facts, and all the logic against you. And all the accidents, and all the cancers, and all the pollution around you. You see none of it. You connect none of it. Your eyes are closed, your mind is shut. I know what it would take to wake you up, and I pray that it does not happen. If the world followed my course, we would never know if I was right or wrong, but if we follow yours, the proof may appear in all its ugliness. You only have to be wrong once to be utterly, devastatingly, crushed by facts over theory. I can be wrong forever, and no significant harm would be done, the United States Navy would still command the seas, and billions of dollars would be saved.
Lastly, these very words will soon be transmitted all around the world, via the Internet. You and those like you can no longer completely hide the truth no matter what you do; its time is coming. I hope the madmen in Russia who continue their brand of nuclear madness, even without an enemy to fear, also wake up, recognize the fragility and preciousness of this planet, and decommission their counterpart nuclear navy as well, and all the other countries that have or are contemplating following our dangerous course -- I hope they all learn from our admittance of our mistakes.
What follows are actual quotes from the new General Accounting Office report, and additional comments.
If you've read this far, thank you for having enough interest in the possibility that I speak the truth to listen.
Russell D. Hoffman
The Animated Software Company
(For affiliation purposes only)
"conventionally powered carriers spend less time in extended maintenance, and as a result they can provide more forward presence coverage." It then notes that nuclear carriers can carry somewhat more fuel and weapons but concludes, "There was little difference in the operational effectiveness of nuclear and conventional carriers in the Persian Gulf War".
"life-cycle costs for conventionally powered and nuclear powered carriers … are estimated at $14.1 billion and $22.2 billion (in fiscal year 1997 dollars), respectively."
"We note that nuclear propulsion maintenance requires exacting and stringent environmental, health, and safety standards." That's more than The San Diego Union-Tribune has ever admitted. The GAO report continues, "Our analysis shows that, under the Navy's current strategy, nuclear-powered surface ships have longer depot-level maintenance periods than their conventionally powered counterparts. For example, the typical post-deployment maintenance period for a nuclear-powered carrier lasts 6 months and about 62 percent of the work is related to the propulsion unit." That compares to an average of just three months for conventionally powered carriers.
(Page 94, footnote #18):
"Radioactive materials will need safe storage for thousands of years. Our estimate is based on the radioactive materials storage requirement during the first 100 years after a carrier is commissioned". It is, of course, absurd to ignore the costs that will continue to incur. It is NOT "science" to rely on technologies that have not yet been invented to solve problems you willingly create today. Nor is it proper. It is illogical and immoral. Therefore cost estimates for used nuclear fuel storage should be projected WELL BEYOND 100 years when considering the costs of a nuclear option whenever alternatives exist, as with the case of aircraft carriers. These things must justify themselves against all known costs and alternatives, and that justification must not rely on godsends, but on science. Even if you believe it God, you do not drink arsenic to test if he is watching over you, but that is what we are doing with the nuclear option. With our present policy we are relying -- indeed we are insisting -- on miracles.
"Even though the nuclear carriers are newer and larger than the conventional carriers, the two ship types have several common characteristics and capabilities. They are similar in that they:
"However, there are some differences. For example, nuclear đôcarriers:
"The similarity of these key features have allowed the Navy to employ both types of carriers interchangeably for routine deployments overseas and employment in contingency operations."
So there you have it. They can accelerate a little faster, or rather, a modern-hulled nuclear aircraft carrier can accelerate better than a 25-year old conventionally powered (with technology of the time) aircraft carrier. They can store bit more fuel and ordnance, (which is replenished every few days anyway, for both types) and in return they are vastly more expensive and carry an inherent risk that is unacceptable to any reasonable person. We could put several additional oilers in the fleet for the cost differential between the two carriers. Add too, that in a future war, nuclear carriers will be knocked out by nuclear-tipped missiles. This will be done long before the carrier is near its target, to protect the target from the carrier's inevitable radioactive pollution, and of course, they will wish to protect themselves from the carrier's airplanes. Therefore in any future conflict, we would certainly take out another nation's nuclear aircraft carriers first, and ours too will be taken out, along with San Diego, as is the cruel and careless way of nuclear warfare. We will, in short, be the first target in any future global conflict. The attacking country might be wiped off the face of the Earth, but we will have been their one success. And don't forget that our intercontinental ballistic missile defense system is currently nonexistent, having failed all of its first five tests.
Even if we must harbor one of these things, having multiple ones in the port at one time will truly be madness.
I say bring back the Connie and the Kitty, but even then I didn't like seeing both in the bay at the same time, let alone three carriers, of any kind. It reminds me, in a reverse kind of way of course, of the one thing that went really, really right at Pearl Harbor. Our carriers were out at sea.
Note: George Bush once referred to September 7th as Pearl Harbor Day. We all make mistakes. CVNs are the nation's ghastly mistakes.
*** Cassini's current risk set
*** (URL of article at the Stop Cassini Web Site)
For those who haven't visited our web site in while, we posted a discussion by the editor of the current risk set. Cassini's danger is far more than just the flyby itself: All the time leading up to the flyby (right now as this is written, to be exact) it is subject to any number of accidents that would leave it in he vicinity of Earth's orbit. This article, written May, 1998 discusses these various dangers: http://www.animatedsoftware.com/cassini/rh9806cr.htm
AND IN CONCLUSION...
Please feel free to post these newsletters anywhere you feel it's appropriate! THANKS!!!
Welcome new subscribers!
Thanks for reading,
Russell D. Hoffman
STOP CASSINI webmaster.
Next issue (#74)
Previous issue (#72)
********* SUBSCRIPTION INFO *********
To subscribe to this newsletter just email me at
with the words:
SUBSCRIBE STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER
Please include something else:
It can be an indication of where
you found our newsletter, or what you
read that made you want to subscribe, but
you do NOT need to include your name.
To unsubscribe email me and say
UNSUBSCRIBE STOP CASSINI NEWSLETTER
Published by Russell D. Hoffman electronically.
Available at the source by blind carbon copy
subscription ONLY--free. Subscription list never
sold or bartered or divulged (except if by
government order, and then only after
exhausting all legal arguments against such
disclosure). Subscribing in no way
constitutes endorsement of our positions and
may indicate opposition!
Copyright (c) Russell D. Hoffman.
May be freely distributed but please include all
headers, footers, and contents or request
permission to excerpt. Thank you.