The Malayan U Boat Part 17

It looked like it is going to be another ordinary day in U X.

Travelling in deep waters means there is virtually no engagement with surface boats. The crew was getting more experts with the new technologies in U X and the captain took time to learn of the new gadgets himself. It is going to be another two weeks before they will reach the second rendezvous point with the supply ship.

An alarm went off at one of the console.

“Captain, we are slowing down and there is a system malfunction”

The captain called the engine room and asked B on what’s happening.

“I don’t know, captain. We were at the cruising speed and all the sudden, the engine started to slow down. We are still moving but we are unable to get back to cruising speed. We are still checking”

The captain knows that at their current speed, they will not be able to reach the rendezvous point on the scheduled date.

“I am going to down to the engine room” said Captain Franz as he motioned Ernst to take over the bridge.

When the captain entered the engine room, he saw a very frustrated B in front the engine management console.

“B, any good news?

“I don’t know captain, we have checked and rechecked all the systems here but we are still unable to increase the speed. There is a leakage somewhere and we still looking for it.”

“Have you checked the manuals? Anything stated there?”

“Yes, we have done that several times but nothing is working”

In the meantime, the U X was slowing down even more now and this is noticed by everyone on board. There was a call from Ernst from the bridge.

“Captain, we are getting another warning from the consoles here – this time it is from the environment control. The climate control system has stopped working. It is going to get very warm soon. The temperature is already rising”

“Ok, sound general quarters and get everyone back to their quarters. Only essential crew men are allowed to move around. Place additional sentries at the torpedo room, communication room and the control room. Place additional guards near the scientists and the specialist extraction team quarters. I do not want any more warning lights to go off”

“Ernst, check also who is missing from the quarters. It could the work of the saboteurs”

Boris still could not find the source that has caused the U X’s speed to be down. His team have gone through the checklists several times and check the essential systems in the engine room.

“Ernst, I am in the engine room looking for the cause of the engine problem. Assemble a team to check on the climate control system”

Two teams were quickly assembled – team one is headed by the captain and they will look at the engine problem whilst Ernst heads team two who will look at the climate control system. On the offset, both problems are not a major problem. The U Boat can still move but at a slower speed and the ballast system is still working to provide the U Boat the ability to dive or surface. On the climate control system, the system recycles and filters the air in the U Boat. Without this working, the level carbon dioxide will increase. The U X has a built in system to warn the crew if the carbon dioxide levels increases too high. If this cannot to be fixed in time, the captain has decided on the second best option which is to surface and manually pump the air from outside. This option of course leaves the U Boat vulnerable to surface attacks but it is a risk that captain have to take.

“Boris, let start all over again. Let’s start from the propulsion system, work towards the diesel engine and then the batteries” said the captain as they trace back the checklist for engine performance failure.

They started to check in details the parts as per the checklist and it seems like it is in order. Nothing looks out of the ordinary. The captain knew that they were missing something. If the failure was due to the faulty engine parts or faulty design, it would have shown up during intensive sea trials. Why now and why hundreds of miles away from base?

“Captain, there is another checklist on secondary wiring layouts. Perhaps we can find something there” said B when he found that the engine performance failure checklist mentions checking on the secondary wiring layouts checklist. The captain took the secondary wiring layouts checklist and turned to the page relating on the engine. There were three areas of wiring connectors to be checked. B started with the first connectors and found that it was connected correctly. But when they opened the second connectors, they noticed two main wires have been cut.

“It looks like we have found the cause of our problems – someone had cut the wires. And I bet that one of this wires belongs to the climate control system” said the captain not realising that the U Boat has been designed to be self sustaining craft. There were thousands of wires interconnected with the major systems in the U Boat to provide optimum performance. Looking at the strength of the wires used in U X, it would not been easy to cut these two wires. The captain suspects that the saboteurs may have wanted to cut more wires but it would have take plenty of time to completely cut the wire. By the general alarms has been sounded and this has spooked the saboteurs from proceeding further.

The electrician team took almost an hour to reconnect the wires and retest the system. When the first wires were connected, the air started to refresh and the heat was slowly reducing. Ernst reports that the environment alarm has stopped and the level of carbon dioxide was dropping drastically. After the second wire was reconnected, B and his team restarted the engines and increased the speed. The speed increased without many problems. U X was back on its cruising speed and was making good of the lost time. They need to catch the second supply ship before it leaves the rendezvous point.

The act of the wires being cut off proves the fact that the captain has dreaded all this time – that the saboteurs are indeed in his U Boat and will try to do anything to cripple the mission. The captain had to be more careful now. Despite the security measures that he has taken, the saboteurs have found other means to cripple this U Boat.

“Ernst, we cannot take things for granted. Someone in this boat does not want us to succeed with the mission. Such persons will not hesitate to put the life this U Boat and its crew in great harm to achieve it. As the captain of this U Boat, that is the last thing I want”

“Captain, what shall we do? We already placed more than enough sentries at the key area of the U Boat but there are plenty of areas for us to guard all the time? It is not possible to get the sentries to guard these areas – we don’t have enough men to do it. Like the incident just now, the engine room is guarded strictly but the saboteurs worked on the wirings instead and this is something that we did not anticipate. And there are hundreds of miles of wiring in the U Boat alone. We will not know certain which of it is connected to the key systems”

“That’s true Ernst but try we must. The mission and more importantly our life depends on it”

The captain and Ernst decided on several measures. First the U X crew was divided into four teams. The first two teams will take the U X operations and sentries’ responsibilities whilst the remaining two teams will take a break before they take over from the first two teams during their twelve hours shift. Ernst and the captain will take turns manning the bridge. The scientists and the specialist extraction team will be confined to the quarters until they have reached their destination. The scientist protested when this message was conveyed to them. They are not prisoners argued them but the captain had explained to Professor Z on the reasons why such drastic measures are being taken. The captain did not move from his earlier decision and the professor had to accept the decision under protest.

“Ernst, we cannot guard the entire area of the U Boat but we can certainly watch over the people onboard this U Boat. Our priority now is to catch up on the supply ship. They are not going to wait for us for long. And without the supply especially fuel; we are not going anywhere far. Our mission will be doomed if that happens”

“That’s right captain, I agree with you. I have assembled the men into 4 teams as instructed. Team A will take the first watch and I will handle Team B, captain”

“That’s good, Ernst. We cannot afford to have anymore surprises”

The U X seasoned crew, the same crew worked under the captain in U 133 U Boat was briefed and they are made to aware that there is a saboteur onboard. This piece of news will surely put the crew on alert and beware of others when they are duty. U X was operating on a skeleton crew and some of the non essential areas have been sealed off from any unauthorised personals. The scientists continued to protest but seeing a strong force of armed sentries at the entrance silenced them temporarily. The specialist extraction team remained in their quarters; they did not voice any dissatisfaction on the captain’s rulings. They are professionals and they too would have done the same thing if they were in the captain’s shoes.

The only time the scientists or the specialist extraction team is allowed to move from their quarters is when they wanted to have their meals. They are escorted to the mess hall and escorted back to their quarters once done.

U X was late for the rendezvous point by almost a day. The captain was not sure whether the supply ship was waiting for them. He knows that the captain of the supply ship despite being paid handsomely would not expose his ship for another day longer. He faces threats from the naval ships that may ply the waters and also pirates who are on the lookout for lonely heavily laden merchant ships.

The captain decided that if they missed the supply ship, he is going to tear the U Boat apart for the saboteurs. They have already cost him and the mission dearly.

Looking into his periscope, the captain scanned the horizon for any ships still waiting at the rendezvous point. Some time had passed before he spotted a dark shape of a boat. The supply ship has been waiting for them. The captain ordered the U Boat to surfaced immediately and head towards the supply ship. Ernst joined the captain at the bridge. He was happy that despite the setback they had, they were still on course.

The U Boat docked next to the supply ship and immediately the crew of both vessels got busy connecting the supply lines and getting the resupply to start.

“I thought you were not coming. We were preparing to leave” said the Indian captain of the supply ship when the U Boat docked along side it.

“We got delayed by engine problems” replied the captain

“Same here, we have a problem with the engine and it took us the whole day to fix it. Otherwise we would have left the moment we did not see you here” laughed the captain. The Indian captain ordered his men to load a box of bottles for the U X crew. It was high quality Indian rum and he had extra boxes from his previous smuggling mission.

“Something for your good luck” laughed the Indian captain as a bottle of the Indian rum was given to the captain who took several gulps and handed the bottle to Ernst. Captain Franz on the other hand ordered two bottles of German wines to be handed over to the captain of the supply ship as a token of appreciation.

“And this is your bad luck of having engine problems” laughed Captain Franz.

The resupply took four hours to complete and soon the supply ship and the U Boat parted and headed to their own destinations. There was no further incident of sabotage detected by the crew after the captain ordered the confinement of the men in their quarters.

The U X need to rendezvous with one more supply ship before they will reach Malaya and this time the captain decided to arrive much early at the rendezvous point. The next supply ship may not have engine problems. The moment they don’t see the U Boat, they will definitely leave. Getting nearer to the Japanese Imperial Navy vessel patrols means the captain of any supply ships out there will be very edgy and will not dare to take any uncalculated risks.

The captain instructed the communication officer to send message back to base with a coded message “Meeting with Bird 2 success”. H did not want to alert the Admiral with the fact that U X was almost sabotaged.

Every twelve hours, the shift ends and the second team take over. The captain retreated back to his quarters for a rest. He knows that he need to catch the saboteurs before it is too late but for now, he did not have any defined suspects although he can count on a number of people who can qualify as suspects.

Stellarium

If you are interested in astronomy and just like to watch the stars at night and wondered what is the name of the star, you have to check out this software – Stellarium (now in v0.10 beta) and it is open source as well and once installed, it does not need internet connection for viewing.

My 4 year old son loved it from the very start and busy clicking on the various stars, planets and nebulas. It is a mini planetarium on a small version

Less in EPF, More in Tax?

(Image source: Photobucket)

Got this in my inbox yesterday:-

Do you still want to contribute 8% in EPF? And end up paying more income tax at the end of the year?

Assume monthly basic salary is RM4,000.

If your monthly EPF contribution is 11% (RM440), taxable income = RM3,560, income tax payable = RM77.

If your monthly EPF contribution is 8% (RM320), taxable income = RM3,680, income tax payable = RM109.

Conclusion: If you choose to contribute 8%, you will end up paying more income tax to the government, which will make the government richer. Finance Minister Najib said this measure is meant to boost up the slow-down market, but from this example we see that the money does not go into the market. Instead the money goes direct into the government’s pocket through the greater amount of income tax that we will have to pay. Obviously this measure does not help the market at all. Do we still want this kind of government that doesn’t have the best interest of the people in mind?

Sounds logic? Well, the fact is it does not

Higher disposal income will obviously attracts more tax but here is the point that the email sorely misses – you have more money to spend on monthly basis. When there is fluidity of cash in the market, the economy moves. And using the same example, you have an extra RM120 but pay RM32 in tax which is not so bad – you still keep RM88 after tax.

But if you decided to save up the RM120 (i.e. not spending it at all), then it is bad because you end up paying RM32 in tax for nothing. This is something that some people have missed when the EPF announcement the cut in contribution

My take on this – reduction in EPF contribution is OK if you need the extra cash. Otherwise maintain the contribution at 11% and save up on tax at the same time. With the reduction of fuel price, it makes more sense to maintain the contribution at 11% unless you are running out of cash (which means it’s time for you to do a budget)

The Malayan U Boat Part 16

“Any idea who did it” asked Admiral Kantz looking rather worried. He did not expect to have traitors in his base. He had personally vetted through the files of the men on the base.

“Admiral, the bag was found along with the bags of the scientists. Could of them be the culprit?” asked the head of the security.

“No, I don’t think so. It looks too obvious but then again, we should not discount that possibility. Anyway, keep this incident to yourself and tell the two sentries to keep their mouth shut. It’s a good thing that you found the bomb in time; let’s just hope that the traitor will make a big mistake soon. When he does that, we will be waiting for him” dismissed the Admiral as he took a piece of paper and scribbled something on it. He then put the paper in his jacket.

“Checked our men too especially those who been acting suspiciously recently” sighed the Admiral to his head of security as he left his office.

The U X has been fully loaded and is about to leave the German U Boat base. The captain and his second in command were still at the dock finalising some of the last minute preparations. The Admiral did not say much but he shook hand with the captain, wishing him all the best on his mission. As he departed, the captain felt something in his hands. A piece of paper! He looked at the Admiral and the Admiral whispered – he should read it once he has left the base and is safely in deep waters.

The U X slowly moved and headed to the open sea. With the crew, the scientists and the extraction team on board, the captain ordered the U Boat to dive and go below the sea mines depth levels. The U Boat proceeded at a very low speed and soon they were in deep waters, heading towards Africa. He asked Ernst to watch things at the bridge and went back to his quarters. He locked the door and opened the piece of paper that the Admiral handed over to him at the docks.

“Traitor(s) are at base. Beware. They almost sneaked in a large bomb into U X. Investigating at the base now. But traitor(s) may be board U X. Take all precautions” was the only message on the paper that the Admiral gave.

The captain had dreaded the possibility of having saboteurs on board for a long time. In waters that are not controlled by the German’s Kriegsmarine vessels, having a crippled U Boat is as good as being dead. The captain contemplated on what to be done next. He needs to instruct the tightening of security and check on everyone’s movement to minimise any incidents of sabotage. But more importantly he needs to eliminate the possibility of the saboteurs on board and if they are on board, he needs to find them.

Who to start with first?

There is a long way to go to their destination and although it seems like there is plenty of time for the captain to start investigation but the thought that the saboteur or saboteurs may act earlier always crosses the captain’s mind. The way he looks at it, there are three groups of people that he needs to check through – his own men, the scientists and the special extraction team. Out of these three, the scientists are perceived to be the weakest. They may be blackmailed or threatened to carry out the sabotage action. The next is the special extraction team who is consists of professional soldiers. They have the right skills and expertise to carry out the sabotage action. The last in the captain’s mind is his own men who he trusts with his own life. But being the closest may just provide the cover for the saboteurs to hide until it is time to carry out the sabotage.

The captain leaves his quarters and heads to the bridge. He needs the time to investigate and clear his vessel of anyone who will be detrimental to the mission. He will not have time if he is going to spend most of his time on the bridge. U X is still in coastal waters near the Europe continent and heading towards the waters near North Africa. With deep waters all around and the U Boat’s low sonar signature, it should give enough cover for the U Boat to continue with its journey silently. Ernst was a very able commander who have helmed U Boat in the captain’s absence and he have a done a very good todate.

He checked the situation with Ernst and decides to visit the quarters where the scientists are staying. The scientists’ quarters are placed after the U X crew’s quarters. There are no major equipments or rooms near these quarters so it is pretty safe to assume that anyone in the scientists’ quarters will not be able to do much without having to roam around the U X. The U Boat already has sentries stationed at key area – this is standard practice in the Kriegsmarine when having non-military personals on board on long range mission. Quietly the captain has instructed the sentries to be doubled up. This did not surprise the crew as the mission has been deemed as high priority and concerns of possible security leakages been raised.

When the captain arrived at the scientists’ quarters, he noticed that Professor Z and his fellow scientists were busy doing their reading. A couple more was reading through ancient navigation plans. The scientists have basically made their quarters as the home for the journey and have settled in.

“How are we doing, captain?” asked Professor Z, startled the captain’s observations

“We are doing just fine, Professor. We are on our way to the African waters and head south thereafter. I just came over to check on you all. How you all are fitting in the U Boat. I believe this is the first time for all of you” asked the captain.

“That’s right captain, this is the time for us but frankly we do not know what to say. The quarters here are rather small compared to our rooms in the University but it is understandable. We just hope that we will get used to these small quarters as we go along in the mission”

“Anything you need?”

“Oh, there is something we need for now – a hot pot of coffee”

The captain promised to get the U Boat’s chef to prepare the coffee and some meals for the working scientists. He observed that all the scientists have passed the age of fifty except for three of them who are still young and still in their thirties. Never underestimate an old man, reminded the captain to himself. All looked busy, so the captain did not wait for long at the quarters but before he left, he stationed two sentries at the entrance. It is for safe and assistance he told the scientists before he left.

The captain walked back passes the crew’s quarters and walked down towards the torpedo room. Several rooms before the torpedo room, was the quarters of the special extraction team. They were placed there as the special storage area was nearer and it will be easier for them to do their work. However, having them so close to the torpedo room is worrying the captain. Given the incident at the dock where someone tries to sneak a bomb into U X, placing similar bombs at the torpedo room makes more sense. The torpedoes in U X is placed in special compartments that seals them from accidental detonation in the event of battle damage but it does not stop anyone from damaging the special compartments and placing explosives on the torpedo warheads.

Looking at the rooms in front of him, the captain decided to go to the torpedo room first. The room was unlocked and there were three crew men in the torpedo room. The weapons officer was in the room chatting with them when the captain entered. All the crew men and the officer stood in attention.

“Stand down men”

The captain talked about the new torpedoes that U X was carrying as he looked around for any shortcomings in security. Torpedo room will be one of the main targets for a bomb and he did not want to take any chances. He was confident the crew in the room will be able to handle any saboteurs provided that the saboteurs are not more than two persons. Four strong able men should able to take two determined saboteurs and raise alarm. The captain wanted to order the door to be locked at times but that will hamper the men’s movement. Besides the torpedo room with its compartments for the torpedoes and four main torpedo tubes hardly had enough space for the men. Most of the time, the room will be empty but this is where the danger is, the captain thought.

Sentries were placed near the torpedo room and to be rotated among the men from the weapon system unit. This way, it will be less taxing on the captain’s crew and the weapon system crew can work without much problem.

The captain walked back and now headed to the quarters where the special extraction team was staying. The team comprised of six men, four of which the captain had met at his mansion was from a special commando unit in the German Army. They were hand-picked for this mission. Before this mission, the six men were in active duty with three commando units in Poland and France. There are not many details that the captain was able to trace from their service records as much of the details has been deemed as classified and has not been released. Even the Kriegsmarine Admiral had a hard time to get the information from the German High Command.

The door to the quarters was closed. The captain knocked on the door and there was some moment before the door was opened slightly. It was the captain’s main body guard at the mansion. The captain knows him by his call name – Sergeant R.

“I just wanted to drop by to see how you all are doing” said the captain, still standing at the entrance. The body guard opened the door wider and asked the captain to come. Two of the men were on the floor doing weight lifting exercise whilst the rest were on their bed reading magazines and letters.

“We are doing fine, Captain. Being on U Boats is not a new experience for us or being confined to smaller areas. You don’t worry about us. Just call us if you need any help” said Sergeant R who was also the team leader for the specialised extraction team. Seeing that there is nothing much he can do in the quarters, the captain took leave and left the quarters. As he stepped out the quarters, Sergeant R had followed him and stood at the entrance.

“As I said, call us if you need any help. It looks like you are looking for something” smiled Sergeant R as he closed the door. The captain was left wondering whether his actions look too obvious and what was the meaning of Sergeant R’s last statement.

There was ten days before they are scheduled to rendezvous with the first supply ship near the coast of South Africa. The U X is moving at cruising speed and the U Boat surfaces during the night occasionally for the recharge of batteries. The men also take the opportunity to stand outside to breathe in fresh air, out of their confinement working quarters. The U Boat operates both on specially designed batteries and also standard diesel turbo shaft engines. The captain runs a very conservative supply management where the engine is left to run mostly on battery power as it is easier to recharge them at night. Diesel engine is used sparingly but at certain main shipping lanes where the U X had to remain underwater, the diesel engine is used to the maximum. They must keep enough fuel to reach the supply rendezvous point.

By the tenth day, life in U X has been very routine and even the scientists have got used to the working environment of a U Boat although they usually kept themselves to the quarters and mess hall. Movement in U Boat is however still restricted. Only authorised personals are allowed to certain key area of the U Boat and the sentries act swiftly against anyone who does not follows the security rules.

Ernst was at the periscope when the captain entered the bridge.

“Have you spotted our supply ship?” asked the captain. Supplies have been low but whilst we can manage with the existing supply of food and drink, fuel has been however low.

“Not yet captain, we are at the rendezvous point but I don’t see any ships for miles” replied Ernst rather sounding disappointed.

The captain was getting worried but asked Ernst to keep watch. The captain wondered whether the supply ship have decided to abort their mission. This could prove disastrous for U X as without enough fuel, the U X will be forced to surface and this could be an easy target for Allied ships.

“Captain, I can see a ship on the horizon. It is moving towards us. It could the supply ship that we suppose to meet up” sounded Ernst excitedly.

The captain hoped that it is true as he took over the periscope from Ernst and checking on the current distance of the ship, it is estimated that it will take the ship another five hours to reach the rendezvous point. In the meantime, the captain ordered the U X to be maintained at periscope level. If the ship that was moving towards them is not their supply ship, the U X is to dive to deeper depths immediately.

The ship’s registration number was visible now – the captain quickly check against his log and he confirmed that it is the same. The ship indeed is their supply ship. The supply ship by now had reached the rendezvous point. The captain ordered the U X to surface next to the supply ship after making sure that the supply ship was not carrying anything that could harm the U Boat. The surfacing of a large U Boat surprised the crew of the supply ship. The captain of the supply ship have been paid a large sum of money to rendezvous with a U Boat and delivered specific items of supplies. No questions were to be asked.

The captain asked the U Boat crew to be on full alert until they finish the resupplying. He did not want any surprises from the supply ship crews. The captain stood on the outside as the crew of both vessels tied down ropes to stabilise the delivery line. The U X was taking fuel by means of a fuel line whilst the supplies of food, water and other provisions were being done.

The captain of the supply ship identified himself to Captain Franz and apologised for the short delay. They were stopped by a Royal Navy’s naval boat on their way to the rendezvous point and were boarded for inspection. Finding nothing other than standard supply items, the supply ship was allowed to proceed. The captain of the supply tried to extract information from Captain Franz on where this U Boat was heading to but the captain remained silent and continued pressing his men to complete the resupply process fast. He did not like having his U Boat on the surface for far too long. He certainly did not like the captain of the supply ship – he did not buy the story of a Royal Navy stopping them. The Royal Navy will not allow any supply ships to be sailing without in protection or the proper papers. Besides most of the Royal Navy’s ships have been reassigned to the Atlantic for supply ship escort job. Clearly the supply ship was a pirate ship.

The U X engineer came up to where the Captain was standing and informed that they have completed the refuelling. The quality of the fuel was bad but it is enough to power the diesel engines until the next rendezvous point. Resupply of other items should be over in another ten minutes and after which, U X can dive back to the safety of deep waters. The captain was happy to hear this news and bid goodbye to the supply ship. Whether he likes it or not, one thing is very clear – they would have been doomed, had the supply ship not arrived on time. The supply lines were closed and the hatch was sealed tight and the U X dived immediately to the deep waters whilst the supply ship turned to head back to its home. The captain ordered the communication officer to send to Admiral Kantz coded message “Meeting with Bird 1 success”. The Admiral was keeping track on the movement of U X for the German High Command.

Till now, everything has been smooth and on time. As per the earlier prediction, they were on course for the second rendezvous with the next supply ship, this time on the deep waters of the Indian Ocean. The captain however have not forgotten about the warning that Admiral Kantz in a piece of paper when they left the dock over two weeks ago. But so far, there has not been any negative incidents happened in U X. The scientists have been deciphering more information from the ancient scrolls and text books. They know more about the nuclear submarine now but more of this information needs to be studied further. The captain was not interested in the information for now as concentrated on his work on the bridge.

We are in Europe!

Well, it started with this post from OutSyed The Box who linked this site

Got curious and waded a couple of sites and I found this gem statement on the controversial issue in the Wall Street Journal:-

“Of course Muhammad existed,” says Tilman Nagel, a scholar in Göttingen and author of a new book, “Muhammad: Life and Legend.” The Prophet differed from the flawless figure of Islamic tradition, Prof. Nagel says, but “it is quite astonishing to say that thousands and thousands of pages about him were all forged” and there was no such person.

All the same, Prof. Nagel has signed a petition in support of Prof. Kalisch, who has faced blistering criticism from Muslim groups and some secular German academics. “We are in Europe,” Prof. Nagel says. “Education is about thinking, not just learning by heart.”

“We are in Europe. Education is about thinking, not just learning by heart” – This has to be the quote of the week.