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Communications Science

Navy ELF to Be Scrapped 454

Posted by samzenpus
from the lower-than-low dept.
engywook writes "National Public Radio and The Daily Press of Ashland, Wisconsin (among others, I'm sure) are reporting that the US Navy plans to scrap the Extremely Low Frequency (ELF) system for communication with its fleet of nuclear submarines, both in Wisconsin and Michigan. The report states that the Navy no longer feels that ELF is necessary, and that they will now rely on 12 VLF systems. The system has been in operation since October 1989. The system has been protested nearly the whole time, both as a part of a Weapon of Mass Destruction and as a potential health hazard."
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Navy ELF to Be Scrapped

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  • Superceded (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BWJones (18351) * on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:01AM (#10391634) Homepage Journal
    Well, lets see: The VLF was designed to get around Soviet technology and communicate with our subs so the Soviets could not listen in on our coded transmissions. If VLF works (who else has an equivalent submarine fleet?) and ELF harms mammalian sea life, then scrap ELF. Besides, tuned wavelength lasers from space and aircraft can communicate (at least in shallower depths) with subs and not have to worry about spreading sound waves around the planet for all to hear and try to decode. Also, lasers can carry much more information than you can with ELF or VLF and you don't have to worry about carrier waves and such either.

    Also, having been on an earlier Australian sub (Oberon class), late model Australian submarine (Colins class), British submarine and several US subs, I might be tempted to say no other nation in the world can compete with the technology in the US subs. Everything else just buzzes through the water for all to hear while the latest Seawolf class is truly stunning with amazing amounts of technology layered upon layer that slips through the water with uncanny silence. Which brings up another issue: Why does the US need such a large submarine fleet? Perhaps to counter a possible naval conflict with China over Taiwan? I believe N. Korea has a few (ancient) subs...... More tactical boats perhaps would be prudent, but....

    • by TeraCo (410407) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:02AM (#10391638) Homepage
      At last years naval exercises, Australia got a lot of flak from the US for beating them with our subs :) [Aussie aussie aussie!]
      • Re:Superceded (Score:3, Informative)

        by BWJones (18351) *
        Which ones? You mean SHAREM? The loss of surface ships was noted and for that, a round of Aussie aussie was well deserved along with a few rounds of beer. However, sub on sub is another story......

        • by waimate (147056) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:30AM (#10391747) Homepage
          They bagged two subs as well as a surface ship.
          • Re:Superceded (Score:5, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2004 @04:12AM (#10392298)
            When we do exercises with foreign nationals, we have to mask our true sound signature, so as not to give away valuable data on HOW quiet we are, exactly what noises we normally make, and how best to detect us. Also, a submarine exercise where nobody can see anyone else isn't very good training - it's just driving around in circles. So sometimes we have to give away our position on purpose to get the show on the road.

            That means we have to run all kinds of noisy gear that we normally don't (or only do when we're sure nobody is around) when non-US subs are about.

            In addition, we frequently have "prospective" commanding officers play captain-for-a-day during the exercises to get some experience before we let them loose by themselves on a sub where, essentially, they're an absolute ruler.

            The interesting thing is, we don't lose EVERY time, or even MOST of the time.
            • Re:Superceded (Score:5, Insightful)

              by rxmd (205533) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @08:10AM (#10393320) Homepage
              When we do exercises with foreign nationals, we have to mask our true sound signature, so as not to give away valuable data on HOW quiet we are, exactly what noises we normally make, and how best to detect us. [...] That means we have to run all kinds of noisy gear that we normally don't (or only do when we're sure nobody is around) when non-US subs are about.
              So do they. Every other navy in the world does that, too, in a maneuver. In a sub-vs-sub battle scenario this particular disadvantage is on both sides, actually.

              As I said somewhere else in this thread, I'm really waiting for the results of the first joint NATO naval maneuvers with the Germans and their 214-class AIP boats.
              Also, a submarine exercise where nobody can see anyone else isn't very good training - it's just driving around in circles. So sometimes we have to give away our position on purpose to get the show on the road. [...] The interesting thing is, we don't lose EVERY time, or even MOST of the time.
              This doesn't sound like you're speaking from maneuver experience. Just how many maneuvers have you attended? What do you think a submarine exercise is about? Do you think each and every joint maneuver is only about the US training the others?

              What would be the point of giving away the US unit's position like that - so that the others can practice target shooting? Don't they need target acquisition practice, too?

              Of course there's always a general layout for a maneuver that sets up some units in more risky positions, but after that, it isn't really that the US subs are asked to run full throttle all the time so the others can nicely home their torpedoes.

              In addition, we frequently have "prospective" commanding officers play captain-for-a-day during the exercises to get some experience before we let them loose by themselves on a sub where, essentially, they're an absolute ruler.

              "Frequently" is an exaggeration; experienced commanders need maneuver experience, too. And most other navies do it the same way, so it's not much of an American-only disadvantage.

              The attitude of yours is exactly the sort of hubris that is cause #1 for the most catastrophically lost battles. A commander of your attitude will completely fail to account for the enemy. Clausewitz will tell you this as well as Sun Tzu; doesn't your army require you to read anymore? This kind of pattern can be found everywhere: Varus vs. the Germans, Napoleon in Russia, the Germans in Stalingrad, and I guess you can come up with a couple of US examples, too, if you remember your military history hard enough.

              • I guess you can come up with a couple of US examples, too, if you remember your military history hard enough.


                Custer at Little Big Horn springs to mind right away.
              • Re:Superceded (Score:4, Insightful)

                by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2004 @08:49AM (#10393744)
                When we do exercises with foreign nationals, we have to mask our true sound signature

                So do they.

                So why, may I ask, do you think you can draw any conclusions whatsoever regarding real capabilities of Us vs Them when neither side is showing its true hand?

                I'll tell you why: you want to believe that the little guys can stand up to the US with a tiny fraction of our military budget. Cheer for the underdog if you will, but be honest about it.

                What would be the point of giving away the US unit's position like that - so that the others can practice target shooting?

                No, so the others won't be so easily dominated that they quit participating. Beating the US at a wargame when our best equipment is turned off, left behind, or deliberately degraded proves nothing.

                Eliminating our tech advantage levels the playing field, and individual talent can win the game for either side. And we should give credit and honor to the side that wins the game.

                But it's a game, and to conclude that the outcome of such a game would have the slightest relevance to a real-world conflict is silly.

                The attitude of yours is exactly the sort of hubris

                You're probably one of those guys who periodically posts on Slashdot asserting that the EU' combined forces are the US military's equal, too.

                It's not hubris. It's confidence based on the knowledge that we have better equipment and better training than anyone else. (And we should, given the enormous gap between US military spending and everyone else.)

                We in the military are acutely aware of what we're good at (witness the invasion of Iraq) and what we're bad at (witness the occupation of Iraq). Hubris and self-delusion are not nearly as common in the US military as you seem to think.

                (Our leaders, OTOH ...)

                I intend no disrespect to you or any nation's military. But there are friendly wargames ... and then there's reality.
      • Re:Superceded (Score:3, Informative)

        by kgbspy (696931)
        They can't have been the Collins class subs [navy.gov.au], then. They haven't had the best of times [64.233.161.104] in service with the Australian Navy...
      • Re:Superceded (Score:5, Interesting)

        by DenDave (700621) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @02:45AM (#10392021)
        Not to dis our buddies across the pond but this is normal in Nato. I remember a few years back when our tank crews in their ancient Leopards whooped yankee but and considering that their was a difference in the quality of equipement analog to the difference between a 747 and a stealth bomber... well you get the picture. It happened again with our M109 and M110 artillery units, which are understaffed undertrained and have a third of the gear of their counterparts. I personally think it has to do with mind set and experiences, our forces are underfunded and exhibit coping beaviour and just simply make-do whereas a US soldier is not even allowed to change the tire on his HMV without the proper certification.. As to ELF comms, I am curious whether VLF is without risks? As to laser well we read yesterday on slashdot about that Delta Pilot....
        • by DG (989) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @09:37AM (#10394364) Homepage Journal
          I've got a good story 'bout this.

          There's used to be an annual NATO tank competition called the "Canadian Army Trophy".

          When the M1 first came out, it caused quite a stir, as it was far faster and quieter than had been expected. But the thermal sights also gave the Yanks a huge advantage on the pop-up target range.

          It seems that the motors used to raise/lower the popups were hot enough to show up on the thermal sights, and the thermal load from raising a target made the motor glow hotter before the target was fully raised and visible. Accordingly, the M1 kicked ass on the popup range, and overall swept the competition.

          The following year, the Canadians (who hosted the competition) placed a large number of thermal dummy motors out on the popup range - and the M1 placed miserably. They also adjusted their own tactics to deal with the M1's strengths, and soundly defeated the Yanks.

          The lesson here is that while a technological advantage can indeed give you the upper hand, such an advantage is fleeting. Properly motivated and creative soldiers can devise ways to defeat your tech anvantage and can and will hand you your ass.

          DG
        • Re:Superceded (Score:3, Insightful)

          by solman (121604)
          This occurs intentionally. The US wants to provide an opportunity for our armed forces to learn how to cope with a situation in which they are overmatched. Our allies want to say that they can kick American butt. The exercises are designed so that everybody wins.
      • by BlueJay465 (216717) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @02:59AM (#10392063)
        Yes, I remember that. It was later revealed that one of the Captains was actually an AI in a kangaroo suit.
      • Re:Superceded (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Darkfred (245270)
        The US runs the navel exercises with our allies with the odds weighed usually in the allies favor, and with random restrictions. We don't learn anything if we always win, and we would discourage allies from participating.
        The US generals pride themselves on being able to go up against same-size or larger fleets and still win. Must have been a shock (or lucky) to find australiens as well trained.

      • by Fulcrum of Evil (560260) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @08:58AM (#10393871)

        [Aussie aussie aussie!]

        Oi Oi Oi!

    • Re:Superceded (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:07AM (#10391660)
      The ELF system was designed so that it didn't have to rely on satellites or even the earth's atmosphere reflecting radio waves. ELF waves travel through the earth; the ELF system would be used in the even of a global nuclear war, so that if all other communications means go down, submarines can still be in contact naval command. A laser would be totally inappropriate for this; it needs line-of-sight to work.
    • Re:Superceded (Score:2, Insightful)

      by hardlined (785357)
      I remember seeing a story (PBS NOVA) about sonar disturbing the natural sense of navigation of orca's. Does VLF operate in the same range?

      • Re:Superceded (Score:2, Informative)

        by Musrum (779646)
        An active sonar Tx @ 3 to 7 kHz has killed some whales. VLF operates from 3 - 30 kHz. But I'm sure the whales are safe from VLF radio...
      • Re:Superceded (Score:3, Informative)

        by SEE (7681)
        VLF is electromagnetic radiation. Sonar is sound waves. They can no more use the same range than a light bulb and a violin can.
    • Re:Superceded (Score:5, Insightful)

      by mike_g (24445) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:12AM (#10391680) Homepage
      While ELF system is extremely slow, I remember the data rates being described as in the range of bits/minute, I am at a loss to understand how it effects mammalian sea life. The ELF and VLF systems use electromagnetic waves for communication, not acoustic. I think that you are confusing them with the high power active sonars used by the Navy, which I can only imagine as deafening to whales and dolphins.
      • Re:Superceded (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Mr. Flibble (12943) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:28AM (#10391741) Homepage
        which I can only imagine as deafening to whales and dolphins.

        According to the Museum of Mann in Ottawa, Canada which has broken whale eardrums on display, this is entirely possible.
      • by mikeophile (647318) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @02:03AM (#10391881)
        The Earth's natural resonance is about 7.83 Hz, also known as the Schumann resonance.

        There is evidence that this field is used by living cells as a timing frequency of sorts.

        The powerful ELF and VLF transmissions are thought to "overdrive" cells, possibly leading to increased cancers.

        I am also aware of anecdotal evidence of ELF waves "beaming messages" into the head of an individual.

        However, since that person was wearing his underwear as a dew-rag, I am a bit sceptical on that one.
      • The dairy farmers in wisconsin where the transmitting antennas are burried in miles-wide patches of farmland have the same [foil beanie] fears as people who live under high voltage power lines. If a cow quit giving milk, they were certain it was the ELF. After all, 60Hz and 12Hz aren't that far appart.
    • Why does the US need such a large submarine fleet? Perhaps to counter a possible naval conflict with China over Taiwan? I believe N. Korea has a few (ancient) subs...... More tactical boats perhaps would be prudent, but....

      Check out this link [fas.org] about plans to refit some Ohio-class boomers from nuclear ballistic boats to basically submerged cruise missile and spec-ops platforms. 154 Tomahawks can make quite an impressive. Plus, submarines are less prone to little boats full of explosives. Also, I can't

    • by waimate (147056) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:26AM (#10391733) Homepage
      no other nation in the world can compete with the technology in the US subs

      A quick reality check here. In 2003, a "noisy" Australian deisel boat sunk two US nuclear attack subs [64.233.161.104] and an aircraft carrier during joint war games. The Dutch have done the same sort of thing. On a previous occasion, an Australian sub sat underneath a US carrier, inside the CBG cordon, and followed it around for some days. At the end of the exercise it surfaced next to the carrier to the horror and amazement of all involved.

      The biggest danger the US navy faces is hubris [reference.com] my boy. That's the real thing you have to watch out for.

      • by BWJones (18351) * on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:30AM (#10391745) Homepage Journal
        I stand corrected and was unaware of these exercises. Mod parent up. :-)

      • by bobhagopian (681765) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:50AM (#10391820)
        I don't know much about the particulars of what happened in those war games, but diesel and nuclear subs are very different. When operating, diesel subs are much more noisy than nuclear subs. However, diesel subs can turn off their engine and run completely silent. On the other hand, a nuclear reactor is always on. If you're trying to avoid detection, it's much better to be in a diesel sub.

        It is still impressive that two US attack subs were sunk, but this isn't because US technology is behind. It's because an older technology has a single advantage (the ability to run noiseless for short periods of time) that can be exploited in close quarters to great advantage.
        • THat's all well and good in a "contained" environment, i.e. brown water operations next to the diesel sub bases and/or chokepoints. In blue water ops, when a carrier group averages 20+ knots for extended periods, if not continously, it is a different ball game.

          Even with the new classes of submarines [naval-technology.com], you would end up using diesel subs as intelligent mines; almost stationary in relation to the target, which must practically run over them to do itself harm.
      • by theLOUDroom (556455) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:52AM (#10391828)
        A quick reality check here. In 2003, a "noisy" Australian deisel boat sunk two US nuclear attack subs and an aircraft carrier during joint war games. The Dutch have done the same sort of thing.

        That doesn't say much all by itself.
        What were the rules?
        What was the mission of each side?
        Were there any handicaps?
        Did the US sink any ships? etc etc etc

        For all that story tells us, the US might have sunk 30 ships. I'm not trying to insult Australians here, I'm just saying that article is REALLY vague.
      • by nordicfrost (118437) * on Thursday September 30, 2004 @02:38AM (#10392001)
        The biggest danger the US navy faces is hubris


        After attending militar excersises with US personell, I can confrim this. In one excercise, our home guard [www.mil.no] kicked the ass of the USMC. I find that incredible, but not if you analyse the mentality of the USMC. They fly in on choppers, equipped with the baddest and coolest in military technology. They are big fellas with kick-ass war faces. Then their chopper lands and they jump out. And fall into 2 meters of fine grained snow. The the Norway Home Guard (Maybe even that cute girl on the picture) come loafing around on their cheap-ass skis (The skis are called "NATOboards", guess why. See them here: picture [hvungdom.net]). The USMCs are thouroghly stuck in the snow, not able to reach their equipment, and all of the team are killed by headshots, according to MILES.


        Also, the american forces are a bit naïve. On another excercise, navy SEALs were to rescue 2 prisoners from a building on the top of a hill. They left a bunch of equipment behind, as the excercise did not allow for CS gas to be used. The Norwegians responded by having only a couple of gunmen in the building, while digging the others into the ground at the foot of the hill. As the SEALs passed the soldiers by 50 meters, the ones in the building pounded the SEALs with CS, and the dig-in soldiers ran up and shot the confused SEALs in the back. The SEALs complained that they iddin't excpect CS to be use and had no ABC equipment with them. Their colonel apparently gave them a chewing out, becaus they were so incredibly naïve to think that every force in the world would obey the rules...

        • That reminds me of the time when some Finnish units went to Norway for joint exercises with Norwegians and Americans. Exercise was about warfare in arctic conditions. Well, as it happened, only the Finns and the Norwegians carried out the combat-training as intented. The American troops just stayed in their tents and tried to stay alive.
        • by Asic Eng (193332) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @07:03AM (#10392906)
          Well, I'm not American, but cut them some slack: no army can be expected to win any and all engagements they get placed in. The whole point of these exercises is to train soldiers, right?

          As for the story with the CS - I guess I don't see the point of that. If the purpose of the training is to operate without CS, then why blame the soldiers for doing the exercise as they were asked to? Ok, in real-life you don't know whether the other side would use CS, but then in real-life you wouldn't be told it was an exercise without CS. So is that really important?

          Looking at the performance of the US military you can't really claim that they don't know how to fight. Quite apparently they are up to the job when it comes to real life. Their main deficits (as I see it) is in policing - they perform well in conquering a place, but poorly in holding it. That's sufficient if the main purpose of your military is defence, but it's a disadvantage if you want to conquer/bring peace/build an empire (pick according to political view).

          • Personal Experience (Score:5, Interesting)

            by DG (989) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @10:12AM (#10394871) Homepage Journal
            I'm not an American either, but I worked alongside (and "fought" against them) many times - and there is unquestionably a "national character" to the US (and other nations') Army.

            Keep in mind that I'm generalizing here.

            The American Army is huge, has a lot of really good and impressive kit (not necessarily the best stuff, but the average iquality level is pretty good and they have a LOT of it) and undertrained.

            By "undertrained" I mean that the average American soldier is very heavily specialized and is often explicitly forbidden to branch out. Each soldier has a specific job and a specific purpose.

            Whereas in smaller armies like the Canadian or the Isreali, soldiers are expected to do much more and are encouraged (within certain limits) to improvise.

            A quick example: let's say you are a commander, on top of a ridgeline, advancing with an armoured brigade towards an objective a few km away. On the next ridge up is a wooded area you think might be harbouring an enemy infantry position.

            If you are Canadian, you will send forward your very highly trained and impressively skilled brigade recce troop. They will sneak forward, scout out the woods, and report back on what they found without the enemy (if he is there or not) ever noticing that they were there. If the enemy is in the woods, you will then quickly plan out a brilliant and innovative quick attack that takes the enemy completely by suprise (and in the flank too) eliminating the enemy with the minimum amount of own losses and ammo expenditure.

            If you are American, you call up two more brigades out of your division, and the three of you pound the wooded area flat with direct fire, while divisional artillery fires in indirect support, and the Air Force adds a squadron of B52s. Once the fire mission stops, you will send a patrol of junior privates up to the matchstick pile to see if they can find any fragments of the enemy. If they don't, there was a company in there; if they do, it was at least a division.

            Which technique is more effective? *shrug*

            What does wind up happening though is that any time you fight the Yanks size-on-size, they Yanks typically get the short end of the stick. The counter-argument is that the Yanks NEVER fight size-on-size, so it doesn't matter.

            I will say this though - any time we schooled some Yanks, they were typically VERY enthusiastic about how we did it, and wanted to learn. They weren't stupid or unprofessional, just undertrained and overmanaged.

            DG
            • By "undertrained" I mean that the average American soldier is very heavily specialized and is often explicitly forbidden to branch out. Each soldier has a specific job and a specific purpose.

              I'm not in the military (now or ever), but a friend in the Canadian forces tells me this can be so rigid that a mechanic for one type of vehicle can not, does not, and will not work on another type of vehicle.

              So much so that in one operational theatre an humvee could not be made to go because no humvee specific mecha

        • Re: the USMC performance. You may not know this, but the only decent winter training ground in the entire lower 48 states is in Minnesota. We get temps reaching -40 degrees C about 5 or 6 times a year with snow depths typically around a meter or so. The local NG and Reserve units train there all year long, of course. However, it costs so much to rotate a US Army Division from its home base to Camp Ripley that they typically get up here maybe every 3-5 years at most. So far as I know, outside of our loc
      • by dotmax (642602) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @03:04AM (#10392078)

        Nonsense. The us navy is painfully aware of the dangers posed by quiet -- be they ultra quieted SEAWOLF class nukes, DE's (diesel electrics) or the new generation of european AIP (Air Independant Propulsion) boats.

        Oh, and there were 3 DE's, not one. Oh, and your "noisy" comment: a DE is only noisy while it's snorkeling. When she's on battery propulsion, she's as quieter than a nuke, generally speaking. Trust me, nobody in the US Navy thinks DEs are rattle buckets.

        And the Navy knows, having been taught this lesson by its own submarine fleet, that a quiet boat is a fearsome, almost invincible enemy. The purpose of the excercise was to help the Navy figure out how to take out a DE operating in the littorals. It ain't easy.

        The one and only reason the Collins's survived is because the engagement orders required the CVBG to enter into her backyard, where the DE's advantages were best put to use.

        No one was surprised, only highly irritated.

        The biggest danger to the navy is littoral DE and AIP submarine proliferation, mines, and high speed small boats packed with explosives, manned by the willing-to-die. The biggest danger to the navy isn't hubris, and frankly, i find the implication offensive.

        from a former seawolf (SSN-575) sailor.
    • Re:Superceded (Score:3, Informative)

      by Bender_ (179208)
      Everything else just buzzes through the water for all to hear while the latest Seawolf class is truly stunning with amazing amounts of technology layered upon layer that slips through the water with uncanny silence

      The most advanced submarines in regard to this are currently the fuel cuel boats by HDW [www.hdw.de]. They neither emit noise nor leave a heat trace. Oh, and they are not american.
      • More info [naval-technology.com]
    • Re:Superceded (Score:5, Interesting)

      by rxmd (205533) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @03:49AM (#10392217) Homepage
      Also, having been on an earlier Australian sub (Oberon class), late model Australian submarine (Colins class), British submarine and several US subs, I might be tempted to say no other nation in the world can compete with the technology in the US subs.
      Apparently, you've never been on a German class 214 submarine [globalsecurity.org], then. (Germany has a long tradition of building excellent submarines ever since World War 1.) They're built by HDW [www.hdw.de] in Kiel with a diesel-electric drive and a fuel cell unit for long-term underwater operation. The fuel cell drive emits very little noise as well as no significant heat at all. For more information, see the section on the class 212 and 214 projects [naval-technology.com] at naval-technology.com; as fas as non-nuclear subs are concerned, they're the most advanced boats on the planet as of now, and they're becoming an export hit, too.

    • Re:Superceded (Score:3, Informative)

      by jafiwam (310805)
      Not clear from the post, but the parent seems to be under the false notion that ELF and VLF are sound waves and that sea life can somehow hear them.

      They are not. They are RADIO waves. (Extremely Low Frequency, and Very Low Frequency)

      The deal is this; with a big antenna, the stratosphere, and (i think) the Earth's mantle can be used to reflect powerful but extremely low frequency (talking four, ten cycles a second... basically a subwoofer-like version of light) radio waves. The cool part about these wa
  • WMD??? (Score:4, Funny)

    by The Snowman (116231) * on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:01AM (#10391636) Homepage

    If radio antennas are considered weapons of mass destruction, I think we are all in trouble.

  • by neurofluoro (806669) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:05AM (#10391652)
    Yeah, finally time to throw away our tinfoil hats!
  • by phandel (178702) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:17AM (#10391696) Journal
    The Navy Elf's office responded with this vitriolic press release:

    Overcoming adversity is nothing new to Mr. Elf - he had to fight to get to the top at the North Pole, and he'll have to fight here to stay afloat at the Navy. Our team actually sees this as a golden opportunity to expose the corruption, pressure, and discrimination all the elves face daily ...
  • .. as long as you've got your ELF, that's the main thing. /*rim shot*
  • by kgbspy (696931) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:19AM (#10391708)
    "Gaylord and I worked since 1972 together to try and end financing first for Project Sanguine and then ELF. The Navy would always whip us."

    I see that nothing's changed in the Navy, then...
  • ELF (Score:5, Informative)

    by Zorilla (791636) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:20AM (#10391709)
    The news article doesn't really have any technical information on ELF, so here's the obligatory Wikipedia article. [wikipedia.org]

    Of course, the first haphazard search I tried came up with this. [wikipedia.org]
  • by midnightcandidate (810411) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:25AM (#10391731)
    ...that Legolas was the first sign that ELFs were hazardous to our health. Anything that pale CAN'T be healthy.
  • A.out? (Score:5, Funny)

    by RTMFD (69819) <ibaird@[ ]il.com ['gma' in gap]> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:31AM (#10391749) Homepage
    Does this mean that the Navy will go back to creating a.out binaries and libraries? I thought they only ran Window$ on their ships....
  • by raehl (609729) * <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:32AM (#10391754) Homepage
    for communication with its fleet of nuclear submarines, both in Wisconsin and Michigan

    Yet more evidence that we must vote Kerry - Bush has our nuclear subs stationed in the Midwest.
    • by BWJones (18351) *
      Yet more evidence that we must vote Kerry - Bush has our nuclear subs stationed in the Midwest

      Nah moderators. This is NOT insightful. Rather it is Funny. This is the same mistake people are always making when George W Bush comes up. :-)

    • by Mister Transistor (259842) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @06:03AM (#10392683) Journal
      I was stationed in the Navy in the Midwest, and let me tell you, submarines were an issue! I was at Camp Clusterfuck, the Naval base in Great Lakes, IL, and we had to go on "Submarine Watch" as punishment if we screwed up.

      It consisted of getting to stand at attention in the parking lot or outside the Mess Hall with paper binoculars made out of toilet paper tubes and string, and having to reply to any passing officer asking "What the hell are you doing?" with "Sir, I am on Submarine Watch, In case any subs surface in the parking lot, Sir.".

      This was used as a humiliation tactic when someone was a complete dolt and did something really stupid. Not meant to be painful but embarrassing. If it was really cold out during winter, you got to stand by a window with the paper binoculars on "Helicopter Watch".

      There would never be any helicopters, or any other air traffic passing overhead because it's a controlled military airspace, but once there was some emergency at the base and a helicopter actually overflew the base, and the poor swabbie on "Helicopter Watch" went into a panic because he had sighted one, and wasn't told what to do if he actually saw one!

  • by Skadet (528657)
    In other news, Santa has eleminated all ELF positions from his North Pole outpost: "Improvements in toy-making technology and the changing requirements of Today's Santa made the ELF system no longer necessary," said the news release. A North Pole spokesman said the decision to shut down ELFs came out of an assessment concluding that improvements in technology made ELFs unnecessary.
  • I have a cabin on Blaisdell lake about 20 miles from the ELF station. Hopefully this means fishing will get better!
  • by raehl (609729) * <raehl311&yahoo,com> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:34AM (#10391761) Homepage
    Everyone knows Dwarves have better technical aptitude, are more comfortable in confined spaces, and have higher strength and constitution to boot.
  • by icecow (764255) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:36AM (#10391765)
    Don't confuse me with a conspiracy theorist when I say there's absolutely no reason to conclude the technology is being scraped.

    Years ago the military was highly interested in non-lethal weapons that were based on a wide number of bizarre technologies including wretched smells, sonic weapons (that would make you crap your pants, or knock someone over like a 'rubber mattress hit them'), electomagnetic frequences (that cause nausea, sleepiness) and all kinds of other reality-weirder-then-fiction technologies.

    Then one day seemingly in the midst of much progress they just dropped the whole thing--the budget went poof.

    Since then many of the technologies have been witnessed and it's not really too hard to find info about it on the web.

    I picked an example that was more over-the-top sounding then neccesary, however my point is the military's perogative is to keep their cards hidden and have the upper hand. I wish there was a way to say that more matter of factly and still drive in that point.
    • That's all well and good, except this is a lot more in line with shutting down excess air bases than it is with "shutting down" non-lethal weapons research. The ELF system is very much a Cold War relic, and like other Cold War relics (DEW system, excess missile and air bases) the military is slowly decommissioning it.

      There's no reason to believe the technology is being scrapped; however, there is every reason to believe the facilities are being decommissioned. Somewhere, just in case, I'm sure the Navy w
  • by Goalie_Ca (584234) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:39AM (#10391772)
    The Navy is no longer interrested in nuking the whales, they feel that confusing the hell out of them provides for hours of humour. In canada we feel different. Our submarines let the water in so we can speak to them directly :D Much more natural don't you think?
  • Conspiracy Theories (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Baby Duck (176251) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:40AM (#10391775) Homepage
    A lot of classic conspiracy theories revolve around ELF and VLF.

    The basic recurring premise ranges anywhere from a single person to an entire town (Eugene, OR) being bombarded with V/ELF and studying the effects. The results are hardly "mass-destructive", but rather annoying: nosebleeds, headaches, premature arthritis, sore throats, unexplainable bruised, etc. Supposedly, a US official working in the US Embassy in Moscow contracted a fatal rare blood disease, and hidden V/ELF transmitter was found hidden in the walls, aiming right for his desk.

    The theories allege the military and intelligence agencies were interested to see if purposefully exposing subjects would be effective as a form on mind control. I don't mean mind control in the literal sense where someone says "Go kill your neighbor" and the subject says ok and snaps to it. More like putting someone's mental state into disarray, hoping in the confusion the person would be more susceptible to suggestions and persuasive tactics.

    These "experiments" flat out don't work. There's no science to back it up. But the point is someone with authority believed they could work and spent a lot of taxpayer money trying. And that's the real shame.

    Please take this with a grain of salt. There's no need to go into a huge exposition trying to debunk these stories. You save it. I'm just repeating these unsubstantiated tidbits. Reports like these fueled many an X-Files episode. The producers/writers didn't come up with these things out of thin air. They're interesting to read. Not to "find out what happened", but to get an insight into the background stories X-Files sometimes use.
    • Who says these "experiments" were ever tried? The ELF/VLF systems have significant communication uses; the money was spent on them for that purpose, not for some hypothetical, very possibly never conducted, "experiment".
    • by NoMoreNicksLeft (516230) <john DOT oyler AT comcast DOT net> on Thursday September 30, 2004 @07:44AM (#10393138) Journal
      It's a shame that guy didn't see the 25 mile long antenna that was hidden pointing at his desk, he could have avoided the fatal rare blood disease.
    • by BobTheLawyer (692026) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @08:52AM (#10393775)
      I absolutely agree with you, but there may be some truth in the US embassy thing.

      During the cold war the Russians embedded all kinds of devices inside the US embassy in Moscow. Some were remotely powered by microwaves (I can't remember the details): they secretly surrounded the embassy with dozens of very high power microwave transmitters. There may be a link between this and the death of the US ambassador from a very rare form of leukaemia.

      This is according to the Mitrokhin Archive, a pretty legit source (and an excellent book - highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of spycraft, the KGB or the Soviet Union).
      • That same embassy caught fire... as a result of an HPM weapon. This was done by the Russians so the KGB could get into the embassy and plant bugs and look at papers (they were disquised as firemen).
  • worried .. i thought they were talking about the linux exectable format.
    no, no need no worry this is about an unimportant thing in a for away place called real world.
  • by mikeophile (647318) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:56AM (#10391842)
    A different kind of ELF hazard. From here. [fas.org]

    B.2.2 Extremely Low Frequency Biological/Ecological Monitoring and Interference Mitigation
    The ELF ecological monitoring program is an independent evaluation of the possible hazards ELF RF transmissions may have on the environment. Sampling and gathering of data was completed at the end of FY93 with review and comments on the resultant data by the National Academy of Sciences expected during FY96. The ELF interference mitigation efforts fund the procurement and maintenance of devices used to ground electrical voltages induced in long metal inductors (e.g., wire fences, cable lines) in areas adjacent to the Wisconsin and Michigan ELF radio transmitters.
  • by MillionthMonkey (240664) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:59AM (#10391860)
    Come on nerds, someone write this up.
  • Finally! (Score:4, Funny)

    by weiyuent (257436) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @01:59AM (#10391861) Journal
    Mulder can stop heading west.

  • ELF/VLF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Ramsey-07 (737166) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @02:02AM (#10391879)
    ELF, 30-3000 Hz VLF, 3-30 kHz Oh I'm sorry did all of you overlook the fact that the /entire/ country of USA, and most of the rest of the world is /dependant/ upon 50, 60 and *enter your countries standard here* hertz frequencies? They are emitted daily from antennas in your street or above your street, in and around your house completely covering your family like a big fudging faraday cage!! The earth terminals which save your life /and/ rid the household of static electricity sure as hell look like a mighty fine dipole to me! Especially when you multiply it by, oh, every house in the world with electricity. Lets take a look at a rather interesting report: http://www.freep.com/news/statewire/sw104732_20040 926.htm/ [freep.com] " CONTROVERSY: A federal judge in Wisconsin halted construction of the system in 1984, saying more environmental and health studies were needed. A federal appeals court in Chicago overturned that decision. The Navy said it spent more than $25 million to study the impact of ELF's electromagnetic fields, which were described as similar in nature and strength to those produced by power distribution lines. POLITICS: Within years after ELF was built, Wisconsin politicians, including U.S. Sens. Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold and the congressman who represented the Clam Lake area, Rep. Dave Obey, called for its closure."
    • Re:ELF/VLF (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alioth (221270)
      There's been concern about that too from people who live in proximity to National Grid 400kV transmission lines. There's still no real scientific evidence that it causes a health hazard (although when we lived around 1/2 a mile from one our garage flourescent lights would always dimly glow when not turned on, and on a damp evening you could hear the 50hz buzz).
      • Re:ELF/VLF (Score:3, Interesting)

        by StressedEd (308123)
        flourescent lights would always dimly glow when not turned on

        This has been used in a sculpture "Field" [boxyit.com] by Richard Box, artist in residence at the University of Bristol.

        It looks great. Has anybody here seen it?
    • Re:ELF/VLF (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 30, 2004 @06:26AM (#10392756)
      ELF, 30-3000 Hz VLF, 3-30 kHz Oh I'm sorry did all of you overlook the fact that the /entire/ country of USA, and most of the rest of the world is /dependant/ upon 50, 60 and *enter your countries standard here* hertz frequencies? They are emitted daily from antennas in your street or above your street, in and around your house completely covering your family like a big fudging faraday cage!

      I think there is a big difference in a real antenna designed to produce EM waves and powerlines where the sum of the currents equals zero. Despite the US generating a huge amount of power in the 60 Hz range you will have a very hard time picking up the signal in Europe. This in contrast to the ELF signal from a specially constructed antenna.

      Nyh
  • The Pixies
  • by Ghostgate (800445) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @02:33AM (#10391988)
    I did not realize that. Personally, I'm glad to hear the armed forces are becoming more tolerant.
  • Whoa! (Score:3, Funny)

    by polyp2000 (444682) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @03:01AM (#10392074) Homepage Journal
    For a moment I thought the navy had their own executable and linking format. Must be too early in the morning for me !
  • by killpog (740063) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @03:18AM (#10392109) Journal
    That's the only reason the Navy will give up on a technology. After six years in boats, two years in training prior to, I came away very impressed with the ongoing developments of tech as an instrument of war. The Soviets could not beat us in that arena, even with Walker trying to make money off what he knew... The only other venue for tech development (outside that for warfighting capability) that has shown in recent history such rapid progress has been the race for the moon in the sixties.. Remember, the US interstate highway system was modelled after Hitler's auotobahn system - designed for high speed transport of war materiel and troops...
  • by billstewart (78916) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @03:33AM (#10392162) Journal
    It's nice when the government stops their greedy reservation of parts of the spectrum and lets the public have it back! (OK, they haven't quite done that yet, but it sounds like they might soon...) Now we can start using the 7Hz band for the Internet!
  • by hazard (2541) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @03:50AM (#10392223)
    A quick Google search revealed the following: ZEVS, THE RUSSIAN 82 Hz ELF TRANSMITTER [www.vlf.it]. Located near Murmansk. The article has some nice maps, screenshot of the spectrum, etc.
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Thursday September 30, 2004 @08:01AM (#10393240)
    As a last resort, we could look at the science behind ELF before we worry too much about the "damage": (1) ELF transmitters are only a megawatt or so. The ELF waves are sooo long (many thousands of miles), that a little 50 mile antenna only radiates oh, maybe 5 watts of effective radiated power. (the rest just heats up the wires). Those 5 watts get spread more-or-less evenly all around the earth. (2) Your tpical large marine creature is maybe one billionth the size of the earth, so we're down to maybe 5-billionths of a watt hitting the beast. (3) Your typical animal is an even smaller fraction of the thousand-mile ELF wavelength. So about 99.99999% of the energy incident on say a giant squid goes right through it. We're now down to 5 quadrillionths of a watt. (4) A typical nerve discharge is around a THOUSAND to a MILLION times that amount of energy, so the ELF signal is that much weaker than the thousands of nerve impluses going off right inside the squid's body every second. (5) So I would not worry too much about ELF harming anything. (6) And, oh, as other have mentioned, the energy from power lines is many orders of magnitude stronger than ELF (and even that is hard to pick up any distance from power lines).

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.

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