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Double-hulled submarines - Why doesn't the U.S. Navy build them?
Janaury 24, 2010 | myknowledge

Posted on 01/23/2010 12:27:35 PM PST by myknowledge

I'm sure you have heard of the United States Navy's proud and elite submarine service, comprising high-tech nuclear subs such as the LA, Seawolf and Virginia class SSNs, Ohio class boomers and SSGNs, and historically, Sturgeon class SSNs and George Washington class boomers.

But they have one thing in common: They are single-hulled subs. Subs with only one hull.

In stark contrast, the Russian Navy has fielded to this day, double-hulled submarines, such as the Akula class SSN and Typhoon class SSBN, the largest in the world, along with the latest Borei class SSBN and soon-to-be-completed Graney class SSN.

So here's my question: Why doesn't the United States Navy's submarine fleet ever have double-hulled subs?


TOPICS: Military/Veterans
KEYWORDS: ssn; submarines; usnavy
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To: myknowledge
Maybe Electric Boat could take some lessons from the design philosophies of the Alfa and Mike class SSNs and try to design a next-generation experimental SSN that can reach speeds of 65 knots and depths of up to 1500 meters (4920 feet)...

Maybe Electric Boat is aware that both the seven Alpha class and one Mike class boats were all dismal failures?

Submarine warfare depends on stealth and the ability to detect your opponent at long range. Being able to travel at 40 or 50 or 60 knots is worthless for a submarine. The faster you go the more noise you put out which not only enables your opponent to detect you but also degrades your own sonar and limits your ability to detect your opponent. That's one reason why other countries have not repeated Soviet mistakes.

51 posted on 01/23/2010 3:04:31 PM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: myknowledge

“Survivability - Multiple direct torpedo hits... a required to sink it.”

I think the answer to your question might be something along the lines of the old joke, “... in the Navy we don’t piss on our hands.”


52 posted on 01/23/2010 3:07:54 PM PST by dangus (Nah, I'm not really Jim Thompson, but I play him on FR.)
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To: myknowledge
You mean the 200 knot Skhvals?

Early Skhvals had a range of about 2000 yards. Even later models have a range of only 7500 yards. The U.S Mk-48 has a stated range of 46,000 yards. Which one would you prefer to be shooting at your opponent?

53 posted on 01/23/2010 3:08:53 PM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: mylife

I think the confusion is that the Russians make subs with two pressure hulls, AND an outer hull. We make ours with one pressure hull and one outer hull.


54 posted on 01/23/2010 3:11:12 PM PST by dangus (Nah, I'm not really Jim Thompson, but I play him on FR.)
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To: myknowledge

There is some confusion about terminology here. U.S. submarines do not have two hulls around the entire boat, ie there are not two hulls that have to be breached to let the seawater in. There is an outer hull at the fore and aft that contains the ballast tanks.

As for why we build them without two hulls there are many reasons.

1) Cost. Subs cost a billion each. If you raise the cost 50% you are sacrificing quantity for quality. Remember, less than half your fleet is at sea at any time. Less subs availible means less missions can be completed. I went through this nightmare in the early 90’s. Less boats and twice as many missions. Not fun.

2) Maintenance. Two hulls means significantly more complex maintenance, thus more money and less sea time. The more time a boat is at sea the more maintenance you have to do in port. We normally worked 100+ hours a week in port. You got the most sleep on patrol, not at home. More maintenance and quality of life drops even more.

3) Consistency. We build one design repeatedly over and over. The USSR built a new class of subs every time someone had a new idea. They has two or three boats per class in many cases. This is a huge advantage for us in training and logistics. Rusian boats required custom parts for each boat. I could have started up the engineroom of any 688 in the fleet. I could have started up any 637 or Ohio class with a little training. Russians? Not so lucky. They used diesels, pressurized water reactors, liquid metal reactors, sodium cooled reactors, etc.

4) Materials. The USSR controlled 90% of the world’s titanium supply. They built titanium hulls that allowed them to go much deeper. But they were expensive and brittle. Not a good combination. The Seawolf has a titanium alloy hull. Electric boat welded the first Seawolf hull together with the wrong welding rods. Couple hundred million down the drain.

Conclusion: The advantages of double hulls do not outweigh the disadvantages.


55 posted on 01/23/2010 3:17:01 PM PST by Pan_Yan
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To: myknowledge

Remember how the Soviets “beat” us in space with one man, then two? When we beat them with Apollo, they tried to put up a “three man capsule” by (I kid you not) bolting a wooden chair in between their two seats in the two-man capsule!!


56 posted on 01/23/2010 3:19:19 PM PST by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
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To: Non-Sequitur
... one Mike class boats ...

I thought there were two Mikes? One caught fire off South America and the other sank under mysterious circumstances (possible collision)?

57 posted on 01/23/2010 3:19:56 PM PST by Pan_Yan
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To: myknowledge
Oh, LOL, the Titanic was double hulled, too.
58 posted on 01/23/2010 3:19:56 PM PST by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
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To: Non-Sequitur
Submarine warfare depends on stealth and the ability to detect your opponent at long range. Being able to travel at 40 or 50 or 60 knots is worthless for a submarine. The faster you go the more noise you put out which not only enables your opponent to detect you but also degrades your own sonar and limits your ability to detect your opponent. That's one reason why other countries have not repeated Soviet mistakes.

Wow. You must have caught me with my pants down at my ankles with all these facts.

A far cry from my illusionist hype about building subs like underwater battleships and speedy dragsters.

59 posted on 01/23/2010 3:22:33 PM PST by myknowledge (F-22 Raptor: World's Largest Distributor of Sukhoi parts!)
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To: myknowledge

The real problem is that in all likelyhood, nobody here who could answer your question is allowed to.


60 posted on 01/23/2010 3:28:44 PM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: myknowledge
If you want to see the future of submarine warfare look at this. There are more and more countries that have boats that are quiet and capable. They aren't looking to fight a pitched global battle against massive navies. The Russians have made good money selling their old Kilo subs all over the world. These are the threats that our navy has to worry about. I think we will soon need to move past nuclear power into the fuel cell technologies other countries are producing.

Just as a side note, Kilos can be very quiet when well run and maintained. And they can stay that way for days. But when they have to come up for air (to run the diesels and recharge batteries) they sound like "two skeletons f***ing in a trash can" as told me by several sonar techs.

61 posted on 01/23/2010 3:33:26 PM PST by Pan_Yan
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To: Pan_Yan
I thought there were two Mikes? One caught fire off South America and the other sank under mysterious circumstances (possible collision)?

Nope, just one. It caught fire and sank in the Barents Sea in 1989.

62 posted on 01/23/2010 3:34:45 PM PST by Non-Sequitur
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To: flash2368

They did, I’m pretty sure. I might be thinking of 2 pressure hulls, and one outer one, but I think they actually built a few with three pressure hulls, and an outer one.


63 posted on 01/23/2010 3:35:52 PM PST by dangus (Nah, I'm not really Jim Thompson, but I play him on FR.)
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To: Non-Sequitur

That’s what happens when I trust my notoriously bad memory instead of just looking it up. It’s not like I’d have to stand up to do some quick research ... man, I’m getting lazy.


64 posted on 01/23/2010 3:36:58 PM PST by Pan_Yan
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To: ClearCase_guy

I’m guessing it’s less an issue of inferior engineering, and more an issue of workmanship?


65 posted on 01/23/2010 3:40:10 PM PST by dangus (Nah, I'm not really Jim Thompson, but I play him on FR.)
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To: Non-Sequitur

Nope, just one....
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
Correct...they had started a 2nd but stopped construction.
Komsomolets K278, (project 685) is the one that sank off Norway after an electrical fire


66 posted on 01/23/2010 3:43:57 PM PST by xrmusn ((6/98 )VOTE THE INCUMBENTS OUT)
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To: Pan_Yan
If you want to see the future of submarine warfare look at this. There are more and more countries that have boats that are quiet and capable. They aren't looking to fight a pitched global battle against massive navies. The Russians have made good money selling their old Kilo subs all over the world. These are the threats that our navy has to worry about. I think we will soon need to move past nuclear power into the fuel cell technologies other countries are producing.

So AIP fuel cell D-E subs are the 21st century underwater adversary to the USN's all-nuke sub fleet? Pretty much so.


67 posted on 01/23/2010 3:46:00 PM PST by myknowledge (F-22 Raptor: World's Largest Distributor of Sukhoi parts!)
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To: lack-of-trust

USN torpodeos are not impacting design, modern torpodoes detonate directly beneath the target causing a massive pressure wave under the target hull cracking it almost in two.


68 posted on 01/23/2010 3:48:47 PM PST by Always Independent
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To: Pan_Yan
Consistency. We build one design repeatedly over and over. The USSR built a new class of subs every time someone had a new idea. They has two or three boats per class in many cases. This is a huge advantage for us in training and logistics. Russian boats required custom parts for each boat. I could have started up the engine room of any 688 in the fleet. I could have started up any 637 or Ohio class with a little training. Russians? Not so lucky. They used diesels, pressurized water reactors, liquid metal reactors, sodium cooled reactors, etc.

The USN must have followed the example of the WWII German Kriegsmarine with the Type VII and IX series, building them consistently, whereas the Russian Navy partially followed the example of the WWII Imperial Japanese Navy with the Type A, B, C, Sen Toku I-400 and Sen Taka I-200 series, with major inconsistencies.

69 posted on 01/23/2010 3:53:42 PM PST by myknowledge (F-22 Raptor: World's Largest Distributor of Sukhoi parts!)
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To: LS
Oh, LOL, the Titanic was double hulled, too.

Double bottom- not double hull.

70 posted on 01/23/2010 3:55:37 PM PST by Riley (The Fourth Estate is the Fifth Column.)
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To: Pan_Yan
Just as a side note, Kilos can be very quiet when well run and maintained. And they can stay that way for days. But when they have to come up for air (to run the diesels and recharge batteries) they sound like "two skeletons f***ing in a trash can" as told me by several sonar techs.

It is only by the very narrowest of margins that I managed to avoid spraying my monitor with beer.

71 posted on 01/23/2010 4:00:17 PM PST by Riley (The Fourth Estate is the Fifth Column.)
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To: Riley

Oh, yes, you’re right. Double-bottom.


72 posted on 01/23/2010 4:04:02 PM PST by LS ("Castles made of sand, fall in the sea . . . eventually." (Hendrix))
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To: CharlesWayneCT

Yes good buddy, your point is right on; it sounds like someone is trolling for classified design or performance data in this thread.

I used to hunt Russkie subs for a living...piece of cake!


73 posted on 01/23/2010 4:22:06 PM PST by cracker45 (I don't believe in coincidences!)
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To: CharlesWayneCT; cracker45

Resonance from a double hull would mess us the guidance system for our new quantum pulse anti-submarine lasers. It also makes installation of the flux capacitors very difficult.


74 posted on 01/23/2010 4:29:57 PM PST by Pan_Yan
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To: cracker45
I used to hunt Russkie subs for a living

I just boiled water.

75 posted on 01/23/2010 4:31:50 PM PST by Pan_Yan
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To: dangus

Yes I understand.

I was unaware that Ivan had two pressure hulls


76 posted on 01/23/2010 4:45:13 PM PST by mylife (Opinions: $1.00 Halfbaked: 50c)
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To: CharlesWayneCT

That submarine, the USS SAN FRANCISCO survived by suberb engineering from Electric Boat. When it hit the under sea mountain at all ahead flank, it tore open two of its three forward main ballast tanks. If it hit the third of the three forward main ballast tanks the ship definately would have been a complete lost. It was able to provide low prssure air to its remaining forward ballast tank, as well as its 2 aft main ballast tanks.

Electric Boat and Northgrup Gruman have no interest in designing a submarine with dual hulls. Back in the 1950s when there was a submarine race the Soviet used the dual hull design and we went our way with a single hull design.


77 posted on 01/23/2010 4:46:25 PM PST by castlegreyskull
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To: castlegreyskull
Electric Boat was the principal designer of Navy submarines for many years. However, the Navy decided to develop an alternative design capability, and in November 1969 awarded a design contract for the SSN-688 class nuclear attack submarine to Newport News Shipbuilding and Dry Dock Company (Newport News).

Source - globalsecurity.org

688's were designed by NNS&DD. The general concensus from those I asked who served on boats built by both shipyards NN built better. Either one is superior to what anyone else in the world can produce, however.

78 posted on 01/23/2010 5:36:26 PM PST by Pan_Yan
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To: Pan_Yan

Thanks for the correction, you are right Newport News designed the 688.

I served on both a 688 and a VIRGINIA class boat I do know for a fact that the boats built in Newport News (SSN 775 USS TEXAS) had a large amount of problem in comparison to the (USS HAWAII SSN 776 and USS HAWAII SSN 778). Their postshakedown availability which was completed earlier last year, was extremely extensive. So you can talk about people you know who served on them. I served on them, and I work in the business of building submarines. Current EB has the market. It was a different story during the 1980s. NNS focus is mostly carriers.


79 posted on 01/23/2010 6:14:50 PM PST by castlegreyskull
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To: castlegreyskull

I joined the crew of the Albany (753) during PSA and was precon on the Greeneville (772). They offered me precon on the Seawolf and I couldn’t run away fast enough. Not because of EB, but because of the dog-n-pony show. Some of my friends on the Seawolf told me I made the right choice. I don’t know much about the Virginia other than what was on the drawingboards of NNS while I was there. I do know not to buy the first model year of a new car and don’t be on the first boat of a new class.


80 posted on 01/23/2010 6:20:42 PM PST by Pan_Yan
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To: Always Independent

Has anyone ever tried to lens an explosion using counter shock waves? Just speculating ...


81 posted on 01/23/2010 6:25:32 PM PST by bvw
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To: CharlesWayneCT
An American sub ran into an underground mountain and survived.

Was it underground or underwater?

82 posted on 01/23/2010 6:36:08 PM PST by chemicalman
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To: myknowledge
zot

via 'crappy' (because it isn't Russian) torpedo.

83 posted on 01/23/2010 6:54:44 PM PST by xone
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To: chemicalman

It would be hard to hit an underground mountain, wouldn’t it. :-)


84 posted on 01/23/2010 8:35:16 PM PST by CharlesWayneCT
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To: castlegreyskull
That submarine, the USS SAN FRANCISCO survived by suberb engineering from Electric Boat.

The San Francisco was built at Newport News and they were also the lead design yard for the Los Angeles-class boats.

85 posted on 01/23/2010 8:42:37 PM PST by Al B. (Sarah Palin: "Buck up, or stay in the truck.")
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To: myknowledge; mylife

“I have three novels at home about both U.S. and Russian subs”

I think the keyword there is “novelS”. In other words, just someone’s thoughts, not facts.

Trust me, U.s. submarines have two hulls.

ex-STS2(SS) and would have been STS1(SS) if I had agreed to extend for a year. I had passed the 1st class exam but didn’t have sufficient time left to make the next step.


86 posted on 01/24/2010 12:06:09 AM PST by El Gran Salseron
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To: Perdogg

Supre-caviitating toepedoes are uncontrollabe. They get a mind of their own at the high speeds.


87 posted on 01/24/2010 12:10:18 AM PST by El Gran Salseron
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To: El Gran Salseron

I never got qualed but I know that there is an outer hull and a people tank.

I cant believe that I didnt know Ivan had 2 pressure hulls.

Prolly isnt worth a **** considering the people tank on theirs is a radioactive wasteland.

And them Alpha class titanium rattle buckets suck.

Nuff said


88 posted on 01/24/2010 12:13:21 AM PST by mylife (We)
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To: myknowledge

All US subs have two hulls: An outer hull and a pressure hull. This has been true for decades.


89 posted on 01/24/2010 12:21:11 AM PST by Redcloak (Error 404: Tagline not found.)
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To: Al B.

Yes, your right. I corrected myself. But Newport News had the lead on the LA Class.


90 posted on 01/24/2010 5:04:24 AM PST by castlegreyskull
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To: Pan_Yan

Definitely made the right call on not precomming the Seawolf.


91 posted on 01/24/2010 5:16:59 AM PST by downwdims (It does not take a majority to prevail... but rather an irate, tireless minority)
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To: castlegreyskull
I served on them, and I work in the business of building submarines. Current EB has the market.

Perhaps you can clarify. It's my understanding that both the design and construction of the Virginia-class boats is being executed by both yards under a teaming arrangement. Each yard designs and builds specific modules and final assembly of the vessel is alternated.

The concept was to keep both yards in the submarine business.

92 posted on 01/24/2010 6:17:59 AM PST by Al B. (Sarah Palin: "Buck up, or stay in the truck.")
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To: Al B.

Ah Yes. EB was the lead on the VIRGINIA Class design. Even numbered boats are assembled at EB in Groton, that is VIRGINIA SSN 774, HAWAII SSN 776, HAWAII SSN 778, MISSOURI SSN 780. Odd numbered boats are assembled in Newport News Shipyard TEXAS SSN 775, NORTH CAROLINA SSN 777, NEW MEXICO SSN 779. I used the worded assembled intentionally. The modules are constructed at Quonset Point, Rhode Island and delivered by a sea barge to each shipyard. Although both shipyards are run by different corporations, they work in close cooperation. EB owns the facility in Quonset Point as well. Also, the USS MISSOURI hasn’t been commissioned yet, it will be in a few months.


93 posted on 01/24/2010 7:24:10 AM PST by castlegreyskull
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To: castlegreyskull
The modules are constructed at Quonset Point, Rhode Island and delivered by a sea barge to each shipyard.

How familiar are you with the construction arrangement for the Virginia-class boats?

Modules are constructed by both yards. NN builds the bow, stern, sail and selected forward compartments for every Virginia-class boat. In addition, each yard builds their own reactor compartment in order to keep them both nuke-qualified.


http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/usw/winter99/virginia_class.htm

"The teaming arrangement between General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Corporation and Newport News Shipbuilding for building this new class allocates major sections of the ship to one yard or the other, so modularity by hull section is inherent from the outset. In addition, large, internal sub-assemblies are fabricated and tested separately before they are “packed” into the hull as Modular Isolated Deck Sections (MIDS). The design process itself incorporates both concurrent engineering design/build teams and an extensive infrastructure for computer-aided design, engineering, and manufacturing (CAD/CAE/CAM). Each design/build team is responsible for a specific aspect of the ship’s structure or mission capability and includes Navy managers, fleet operators, technical personnel, key vendors and suppliers, and the shipyard’s designers and waterfront construction supervisors."

94 posted on 01/24/2010 8:30:57 AM PST by Al B. (Sarah Palin: "Buck up, or stay in the truck.")
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To: Al B.

Good post, and thanks for the correction. I over simplified way to much, gave to much credit to EB and wrote it in a misleading way too. I find it very fascinating how these two shipyards do this, and what they seem to have planned in the coming years. Enjoy your Sunday.


95 posted on 01/24/2010 8:56:24 AM PST by castlegreyskull
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To: Riley
It is only by the very narrowest of margins that I managed to avoid spraying my monitor with beer.

Exact same thing happened here except I'm still on coffee.

96 posted on 01/24/2010 9:13:03 AM PST by houeto
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To: myknowledge
For example, the Oscar II class SSGN (nuclear cruise missile submarine). Its heavy displacement and double hull enables her to take three direct torpedo hits to sink.

The outer hull acts as an armored shell, much like a turtle shell for a turtle.

The crew of the Kursk may have another opinion.
97 posted on 02/01/2010 7:44:26 PM PST by rmlew (Democracy tends to ignore..., threats to its existence because it loathes doing what is needed)
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To: Richard Kimball
"'But I'm not saying all Russian engineering bad.'

I'll say it.
"

Hey! Does that thang got a Hemi?!!!
98 posted on 02/01/2010 8:12:58 PM PST by ThomasSawyer (Democratic Underground: Proof that anyone can figure out how to use a computer.)
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To: ThomasSawyer

You’ll have to lift its tail to find out. Don’t think Prep-H comes in big enough tubes.


99 posted on 02/01/2010 8:16:42 PM PST by MHGinTN (Obots, believing they cannot be deceived, it is impossible to convince them when they are deceived.)
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To: ThomasSawyer

100 posted on 02/01/2010 8:35:56 PM PST by Richard Kimball (We're all criminals. They just haven't figured out what some of us have done yet.)
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