Monday, February 16, 2009

English meet French below the waves.

In an oops of epic proportions, a French Ballistic Nuclear Missile Submarine collided with a British Ballistic Nuclear Missile Submarine. Yes, you read that right. Two nuclear powered submarines carrying Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles collided in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Now, I would normally chuckle and shake my head at this and then move along, however the comments from the Sun's Defense Editor made me hesitate and reconsider my planned inaction regarding this story. 

MyView

By TOM NEWTON DUNN

Defence Editor

CRASHING a sub into one belonging to an ally is embarrassing enough at any time — but this couldn’t have come at a worse moment for Britain.

There are already tensions between us and the US over the Government’s failure to give our Forces what they need to win in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Those blunders have left President Barack Obama wondering how special his relationship with Britain really is.

Now a pile-up with the French makes it look like we were playing amateur night in mid-Atlantic. We simply cannot afford any more damage to our Forces’ reputation.

Tom, forgive me, but do you have any idea what you are talking about? The submarines in question are the very epitome of silence. They are so quiet that listening for them has been likened to trying to find a lightbulb by sound underwater. That's because we don't use active sonar, that's the classic ping sound that the world war II movies have trained us all to believe is standard practice on submarines. It isn't. The reason is that like a cop with a flashlight, he can see a way, but we can see him a hell of a lot farther off and avoid him. 

The Boomers as they are called are literally designed and built to be utterly silent, because their mission is strategic deterrence, and God Forbid, delayed launch of Nuclear Weapons. 

If they were easy to find, then they wouldn't deter anyone from attacking us would they? No, not when a third of your nuclear capability can be destroyed by any old dolt with a fishing boat and a miracle ear. 

Now, a wannabe statistician in the comments of the story said that he considered it highly unlikely that two Submarines would be in the exact same place at the exact same time. Improbable, doesn't mean impossible. If a thing can happen, it will eventually. It need not be given some hidden sinister motive to be real. It was an accident, and they will happen from time to time. 

The nature of international relations are such that we must have a big stick ready to smack people with to protect ourselves. Sad but true, and I don't see it changing anytime soon. 

These are strategic as opposed to tactical assets. Now, if you must have it explained to you the difference, then I will try. Tactical is a short term gain, like sinking an enemy warship that is threatening your fleet. The tactical advantage is shifted by that action. Strategic is larger, more lasting importance. Bombing the repair facilities that are required to fix your enemies fleet. If you can't fix your ships, then your fleet ceases to be effective rather quickly. Boomers are strategic, in other words, they are meant to do long lasting damage to an enemy, not tactical, as in tracking and shadowing other submarines. 

It was an accident, that's all. Thank God no one was hurt. They happen, life is risky, and service is even more risky. That is sort of the point you know, to have people who think your nation is so awesome that they are willing to risk life and limb to protect it. 

The purpose of a Military is not bragging rights, the purpose is to defend your nation. This accident won't make me think any less of the British Navy. Nor will it make me think that they are less than competent. Accidents happen, and we should learn from them, and try and figure out how to avoid them in the future.

I salute the British Navy, you have long held my respect. 

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