Saturday, May 17, 2014

French Ship Could Spy on Communications in Black Sea

FS Dupuy de Lôme (A759)The French intelligence ship FS Dupuy de Lome has entered the waters off Bulgaria’s port city Varna a day after its return to the Black Sea, a military source told RIA Novosti Thursday.

“The French intelligence ship is now stationed in the western Black Sea, 30 miles away from the port of Varna,” the source said.

The intelligence vessel is designed for radar monitoring, as well as the collection of signals and communications behind enemy lines. It can also intercept phone calls and e-mails.

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Free WWII Records on Fold3 Through May 31

Historical records subscription site Fold3 is opening up its WWII military records collection free through May 31, in honor of Memorial Day. You'll need to set up a free membership with the site to view the records.

Highlights of these records include: 

(WWII service recordsavailable from the National Archives only to veterans and their next of kin for privacy reasons, aren't online.)

My grandfather and his brother served in WWII, and their Army enlistment records (taken from the National Archives' database) are on Fold3, with basic facts about them at the time of enlistment: birth year, marital status, education level, occupation category, enlistment date and place, and Army serial number.

I'll show you another relative's record—the "Old Man's Draft" card for my great-grandmother's brother (this is the front of the two-sided card):

The Old Man's Draft was the fourth registration for World War II, for men born between April 28, 1877 and Feb. 16, 1897. It's worth searching Fold3's WWII collection for relatives born during those years, even if you know they didn't serve. 

Search Fold3's WWII collection here. Learn more about this free records offer on the Fold3 blog.

You'll find search strategies and tips for Fold3 military, naturalization, city directory and other records in Family Tree Magazine's Fold3 Web Guide download, available at

Fold3 | Free Databases | Military records

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NATIONAL NUCLEAR SECURITY ADMINISTRATION: Agency Report to Congress on Potential Efficiencies Does Not Include Key Information GAO-14-434:Published

Logo of the United States National Nuclear Sec...
Logo of the United States National Nuclear Security Administration. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What GAO Found

The National Nuclear Security Administration's (NNSA) report to congressional defense committees describes, but does not assess, the role of the nuclear security complex sites. The act required that NNSA's report include an assessment of the role of the nuclear security complex sites in supporting a safe, secure, and reliable nuclear deterrent; reductions in the nuclear stockpile; and the nuclear nonproliferation efforts of the nation—which GAO refers to in this report as key NNSA activities. NNSA's report does not include such an assessment. Instead, the report describes activities such as certifying annually that the nuclear weapons stockpile is safe, secure, and reliable. NNSA officials told GAO that a prior 2008 report that assessed the role of the nuclear security complex is still valid and said that they did not think the act required them to update it. GAO notes, however, that NNSA's report to Congress does not cite the 2008 report as support for its assessment and provides no other information that would constitute an assessment. NNSA officials said that a new analysis of the role of the nuclear security complex sites may be warranted in the future if circumstances change. Officials acknowledged that characteristics of some major projects—such as the Chemistry and Metallurgical Research Replacement Nuclear Facility in New Mexico—have changed recently due to technical and fiscal challenges, but that such changes do not alter the fundamental role each site plays.
NNSA's report to congressional defense committees identified seven opportunities for efficiency, but it did not, as required by the act, provide an assessment of how these efficiencies could contribute to cost savings or strengthening safety and security. For example, NNSA's report cites the establishment of two new offices—the Office of Acquisition and Project Management in 2011 and the Office of Infrastructure and Operations in 2013—as efficiency opportunities but does not provide an assessment of how these offices have contributed or will contribute to cost savings or improved safety and security. In addition, some efficiency opportunities noted in NNSA's report—such as the capabilities provided by the new Uranium Processing Facility at the Y-12 National Security Complex—involve projects or strategies that GAO has previously reported face challenges, which, if not addressed, may impact NNSA's ability both to achieve cost savings and strengthen safety and security. Key principles for preparing savings estimates include a methodology that identifies the basis of any assumptions included in the savings estimates and a process for tracking actual savings. Such a methodology could help ensure that savings from proposed efficiencies can be achieved. Because NNSA did not assess how these efficiencies would lead to savings, however, it is not clear whether any cost savings will result.

Why GAO Did This Study

Nuclear weapons are an essential part of the nation's defense strategy, and NNSA is charged with performing key activities in support of this strategy. Like other agencies, however, NNSA is being asked to find ways to operate more efficiently and reduce costs.
The National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 mandated that NNSA submit a report to congressional defense committees that, among other things, includes an assessment of the role of the nuclear security complex sites, as well as opportunities for efficiencies at these sites and how these efficiencies may contribute to cost savings and help strengthen safety and security. The act required that NNSA's report include certain topics and mandated that GAO assess the report submitted by NNSA. This report evaluates the extent to which the NNSA report (1) assessed the role of nuclear security complex sites in supporting key NNSA activities and (2) identified opportunities for efficiencies and cost savings within the nuclear security complex. GAO analyzed NNSA's statutory reporting requirements, the agency's report to congressional committees and supporting documentation, and interviewed NNSA officials.

What GAO Recommends

GAO recommends that, when reporting on efficiencies and cost savings in the future, NNSA establish a methodology for estimating the savings derived from potential efficiencies and track savings resulting from efforts. NNSA disagreed, stating that the act did not require, as GAO recommends, that efficiencies be linked to cost savings. GAO believes its recommendation remains valid.
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Friday, May 16, 2014

USS Sculpin (SS-191)

USS Sculpin (SS-191)

Figure 1:  Starboard side view of USS Sculpin (SS-191), probably during her shakedown cruise in the summer of 1939. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 2: USS Sculpin (SS-191) entering Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, sometime between 9 April 1940 and 23 October 1941. US Navy photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 3: USS Sculpin (SS-191) off San Francisco, California, on 1 May 1943 following an overhaul. Official US Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 4:  USS Sculpin (SS-191) in San Francisco Bay, California, on 1 May 1943 following an overhaul. Official US Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 5:  USS Sculpin (SS-191) in San Francisco Bay, California, on 1 May 1943 following an overhaul. The San Francisco Bay Bridge is in the background. Official US Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 6:  USS Sculpin (SS-191) at the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard, San Francisco, California, on 1 May 1943, following an overhaul. This view of her midships area, port side, identifies changes recently made to the ship. Note outlined hull number 191 on the side of her “sail” or conning tower. Among the ships and craft in the background are the small tugLucien(center, middle distance) and Navy barge YC-826(right, middle distance). Official US Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 7:  USS Sculpin (SS-191) at the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard, San Francisco, California, on 1 May 1943, following an overhaul. This view of the forward end of her sail identifies changes recently made to the ship. Note the 20-mm and 3-inch guns, and the SD and SJ radar antennas. Official US Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 8:  USS Sculpin (SS-191) at the Bethlehem Steel Company shipyard, San Francisco, California, on 1 May 1943, following an overhaul. This view of the after end of her sail identifies changes recently made to the ship. Note the 20-mm gun and the SD and SJ radar antennas. The Coast Guard lighthouse tender Balsam(WAGL-62) is in the floating dry dock in the right background. Official US Navy photograph, from the collections of the Naval Historical Center. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 9:  Lieutenant Commander Fred Connaway, USN, photographed circa 1942. On 19 November 1943, he was in command of USS Sculpin (SS-191) and was the ship’s last commanding officer. US Naval Historical Center photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Figure 10: Captain John P. Cromwell, USN, photographed circa 1943. He was also on board USS Sculpin (SS-191) on 19 November 1943, the date of the ship’s final battle. US Naval Historical Center photograph. Click on photograph for larger image.

Named after a spiny, broad-mouthed fish, the 1,450-ton USS Sculpin (SS-191) was aSargoclass submarine that was built by the Portsmouth Navy Yard at Kittery, Maine, and was commissioned on 16 January 1939. The ship was approximately 310 feet long and 27 feet wide, had a surfaced top speed of 20 knots and a submerged top speed of 8.75 knots, and had a crew of 55 officers and men. Sculpin originally was armed with one 3-inch gun, two .50-caliber machine guns, two .30-caliber machine guns, and eight 21-inch torpedo tubes (carrying a total of 24 torpedoes), but the gun armament changed slightly during the early years of World War II.

Shortly after being commissioned, Sculpin spent much of 1939 assisting in the rescue and salvage efforts of her sister ship, the submarine USS Squalus (SS-192) which had accidently sunk on 23 May. After salvage operations were completed, Sculpin was sent to join the Pacific Fleet in February 1940. She was based in the Philippines in October 1941 and was there when Japan attacked the United States on 7 December (8 December Philippine time).

From December 1941 to January 1942, Sculpin conducted her first war patrol and made an attack that may have sunk a Japanese merchant ship, although the “kill” could not be confirmed. Then from late January 1942 to January 1943, Sculpin was based at Java (now Indonesia) and Australia, completing five more patrols into Japanese-held waters. Sculpinsank two enemy cargo ships and heavily damaged a destroyer, a light cruiser, and several merchant ships.

In May 1943, following an overhaul which was completed at San Francisco, California,Sculpin was based at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Sculpin’s seventh and eighth war patrols took place from May to September 1943. During those patrols, the submarine damaged the Japanese aircraft carrier Hiyo and sank a cargo ship.

Sculpin left Pearl Harbor on her ninth war patrol in early November 1943. On this trip, she was serving as the prospective flagship for an American “wolf pack” under the overall command of Captain John P. Cromwell, who was on board the ship. But actual command of the vessel belonged to her commanding officer, Commander Fred Connaway. Captain Cromwell was ordered to take Sculpin and two other American submarines and patrol due north of the island of Truk, which had a major Japanese naval base on it. The three submarines were to form a wolf pack and sink any Japanese ships that were leaving Truk to oppose the forthcoming American invasion of Tarawa in the Gilbert Islands. Cromwell was to coordinate attacks on the enemy, while Commander Connaway would command Sculpin.

On 16 November 1943, Sculpin arrived on station and made radar contact with a large Japanese convoy on the evening of 18 November. Sculpin attacked the convoy while on the surface during the early morning hours of 19 November. Suddenly, the submarine was spotted by the convoy’s escort vessels, which attacked immediately. Sculpin was forced to crash dive and was severely damaged by the numerous depth charges that were dropped on her by Japanese destroyers. The ship was taking on water and was in immediate danger of sinking.

The submarine’s commanding officer, Commander Connaway, decided to surface and give the crew of his sinking ship a chance for survival. With her decks still awash, Sculpin’s gunners manned the deck guns, even though they were no match for the much larger guns on board the Japanese destroyers. An enemy shell hit the conning tower and killed the bridge watch team, including Commander Connaway, and flying shrapnel killed the 3-inch deck gun crew as well.

The senior surviving ship’s officer ordered that the submarine be scuttled to prevent her from being captured. This officer then informed Captain Cromwell of his decision. Captain Cromwell, though, possessed vital information concerning the forthcoming amphibious assault on the Gilbert Islands and subsequent operations. Fearing that he might reveal these plans under the influence of torture (which was used extensively by the Japanese during the war), Captain Cromwell refused to leave the stricken submarine. USSSculpinsank and Captain Cromwell went down with the ship.

Forty-two of Sculpin’s crew were picked up by the Japanese destroyer Yamagumo. There was a forty-third survivor, but he was badly wounded and was thrown back into the sea by the Japanese because of his condition. The survivors were questioned for roughly ten days at the Japanese naval base at Truk. They were then placed on board two aircraft carriers returning to Japan. The escort carrier Chuyo carried 21of the survivors in her hold. On 2 December 1943, the carrier was torpedoed and sunk by USS Sailfish (SS-192) and 20 of the American prisoners died. One man was saved when he grabbed a ladder on the side of a passing Japanese destroyer and managed to haul himself on board. The other 21 survivors arrived at Ofuna, Japan, on 5 December and, after further questioning, were sent as slave labor to the copper mine at Ashio, Japan, for the duration of the war.

Ironically, the carrier transporting Sculpin’s survivors was sunk by Sailfish, which Sculpinhad helped to locate and raise back in 1939. Sailfish was, in reality, the old Squalus, which was re-named Sailfish after she was salvaged, re-built, and then re-commissioned in May 1940.
USS Sculpin received eight battle stars for her service during World War II, in addition to the Philippine Presidential Unit Citation. For his sacrificial heroism in preventing the enemy from obtaining the critical information he possessed, Captain John P. Cromwell was posthumously awarded the US Congressional Medal of Honor.
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Reference Note on Russian Communications Surveillance

English: Vladimir Putin in KGB uniform Deutsch...
English: Vladimir Putin in KGB uniform Deutsch: Der junge Wladimir Putin in KGB-Uniform Français : Vladimir Poutine en uniforme du KGB (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Edward Snowden, perhaps under duress, recently participated in a call-in program where selected viewers can pose pre-screened questions directly to Vladimir Putin. Snowden asked President Putin, “Does Russia intercept, store or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals?” Putin denied Russian mass surveillance, saying “Thank God, our special services are strictly controlled by the state and society, and their activity is regulated by law.”
Three programs, SORM-1, SORM-2, and SORM-3, provide the foundation of Russian mass communications surveillance. Russian law gives Russia’s security service, the FSB, the authority to use SORM (“System for Operative Investigative Activities”) to collect, analyze and store all data that transmitted or received on Russian networks, including calls, email, website visits and credit card transactions. SORM has been in use since 1990 and collects both metadata and content. SORM-1 collects mobile and landline telephone calls. SORM-2 collects internet traffic.  SORM-3 collects from all media (including Wi-Fi and social networks) and stores data for three years. Russian law requires all internet service providers to install an FSB monitoring device (called “Punkt Upravlenia”) on their networks that allows the direct collection of traffic without the knowledge or cooperation of the service provider. The providers must pay for the device and the cost of installation.
Collection requires a court order, but these are secret and not shown to the service provider.  According to the data published by Russia’s Supreme Court, almost 540,000 intercepts of phone and internet traffic were authorized in 2012. While the FSB is the principle agency responsible for communications surveillance, seven other Russian security agencies can have access to SORM data on demand. SORM is routinely used against political opponents and human rights activists to monitor them and to collect information to use against them in “dirty tricks” campaigns. Russian courts have upheld the FSB’s authority to surveil political opponents even if they have committed no crime. Russia used SORM during the Olympics to monitor athletes, coaches, journalists, spectators, and the Olympic Committee, publicly explaining this was necessary to protect against terrorism. The system was an improved version of SORM that can combine video surveillance with communications intercepts.
SORM is buttressed by regulations that limit the use of encryption, and restrictive internet laws that allow the Government to shut down websites it finds objectionable. Russia has a national filtering system that can block foreign sites and it has used the threat of blockage to coerce western companies into removing objectionable postings. Russian agencies such as “Roskomnadzor” (Agency for the Supervision of Information Technology, Communications, and Mass Media) provide the name and address of websites to be blocked to internet service providers, who must take action within 24 hours. Russia monitors foreign communications using techniques used by NSA and China. Wireless and landline communications are monitored in major capitals: American officials believe that Russia chose to build an Embassy complex on a hill in Washington D.C., for example, to improve interception of mobile communications.
A number of sources provide information on Russian surveillance activities, including, Citizen Lab (, Reporters Without Borders (, Privacy International ( and (albeit with dated material) the Federation of American Scientists (
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