Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.

A WTF Moment

by In Wales Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 06:21:25 AM EST

How, how does something like this happen?

A Royal Navy nuclear submarine was involved in a collision with a French nuclear sub in the middle of the Atlantic, it has been reported.

It is understood HMS Vanguard and Le Triomphant were badly damaged in the crash earlier this month.

Despite being equipped with sonar, it seems neither vessel spotted the other, the BBC's Caroline Wyatt said.

The UK's Ministry of Defence is not commenting on the reports, but insisted nuclear security had not been breached.

Our defence correspondent said HMS Vanguard, with "very visible dents and scrapes", had to be towed back into its home base at Faslane on the Firth of Clyde. The submarines were both "seriously-armed", she also said.


The Guardian also reports with

"They can't see each other in the water," an official said. The collision raises questions about the submarines' sonar and radar and why they did not detect one another.

What a good question!

Here's a great reason for getting rid of nuclear weapons and not renewing trident - what could have been the potential consequences of this crash or of the subs being targetted and not noticing it?

Display:
How do two subs that should have world class technology, given their cargo, manage to crash into each other in the ocean?
by In Wales (inwales aaat eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 06:23:50 AM EST
The crews were asleep at the sonar?

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 06:31:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They must use some very narrow "flight-paths" if they managed to hit each other. They can't have been roaming randomly.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 06:34:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe they were on autopilot... especially if "in the middle of the atlantic" means away from the mid-oceanic ridges, so they expected no obstacles.

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 06:36:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where's Pierre?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 06:37:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm here. It's remarkably easy to do actually, with modern submarines which basically make no noise at all.

It was a in bad weather, huge waves (Golfe de Gascogne), and the dirty little secret about super smart detection/weaponry gizmos, whether airborne, submarine, you-name-it, is just: they only work on a quiet, sunny, midsummer morning.

Both subs would be cruising at 600m depth, because that's the maximum they can, and deeper is stealthier. No need to invoke coincidence for the depth match, it's a design thing, all recent boomers cruise a 600m, full stop.

Both subs would be cruising at 4 knots (arguably a ridiculously low speed, but absolutely silent, and that's what boomers are for), which greatly limits the potential for damage. As for why the Vanguard had to be towed, I can only speculate one reason: it was hit by the rear, and it damaged a rudder.

The Triomphant, with just a big chunk of fiber glass blasted, lost basically no capability save torpedo launching (and this is probably the greatest risk we came close to: an idle torpedo in a launch tube could have gone off and blasted the sub from the inside, exactly kursk-style, but actually a dozen such incidents in western navies over the past 50 years never triggered any torpedo, only russian torpedoes are seriously dodgy).

Could the crews have prevented the collision ? If they were not on particular alert, not picking anything is the most likely outcome. And if any did, the procedures in place would not actually help, because they are designed on the idea that a collision course is very unlikely during an encounter. Procedures would be: make no move, because any rudder move could have you detected, make even less noise, and grab the best audio signature you can for the navy's database. If the signal is weak (likely), it takes longer to determine that it is a collision course, than for the collision to happen...

The most likely outcome, aside from the embarrassment and the bill, is that NATO countries will start "boxing" the boomers just like hunter-killers, and share the box data. Boomers will probably have much larger boxes, like 1000-NMI wide, overlapping with hunter boxes (boomers have always known about the hunter boxes to avoid them except for planned exercise). NATO countries only total about 22 boomers, so 15 at sea at any time, two thirds of them US now stationned only on the Pacific, so this should be pretty easy and not involve any loss in deterrence capability and independence (that is, for France versus the anglo, there is no independence of the UK vs the US).


Pierre

by Pierre on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 10:36:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What are the constraints on the subs' 2-D movement? Is there a lot of sea they don't use?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 10:40:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They have no limits on 2D movements, on the long run.

Noise constraints dictate that unless they have a clear emergency (like a torpedo fired at them), they move real slow, turn real slow (like: take 50 nmi to make a U turn), and move real tricky (like: you don't actually make a U turn, you make an elaborate movement which looks like you change you mind six times in the process, with five different speeds all along, just in case someone was listening, the reason being that if you make a simple geometrical trajectory and someone hypothesises it, he can infer from the doppler data on your noise spectrum, all you spectrum characteristics - know exact speed, so get to the original unshifted frequencies in your spectrum, etc, etc...)

This is usually sumed up by "fart slow". Very boring also. The only place with some action on board a boomer, is the collection of porn tapes in the mess.

So regarding the present fuck-up, the answer is: save a detection of torpedo launch, or a very clear signal of constant angle (unlikely in bad weather from such subs), the doctrine was to keep listening whatever anyone had heard (or not), while globally going straight forward, so if the encounter was by change on a collision course in 2D, it was a goner from the start. No more complicated than that.

Pierre

by Pierre on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 10:59:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I meant are they able to patrol the whole Atlantic are or are there preferred features they want to be near?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 11:03:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They want to be:
  • within range to shoot moscow (that's still a huge swath of cold water if you check in google earth)
  • far from trading routes (easy in the north)
  • far from fishing zones (a bit harder, but still leaves lots of water)
  • far from coasts with ports (traffic is dangerous and shallow waters), but close to desert coasts if the shelf has a steep slope and these are your own waters and they are large enough (because a HK would have to violate those waters to stalk you, but as I said, Shetlands are not enough, the russians could conceivably nuke them all)


Pierre
by Pierre on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 11:08:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That's a pretty big area. Running into each other is pretty impressive.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 11:13:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure it should be relatively easy to calculate how regularly this should happen with ocean volumes and  subs distance of travel.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 11:27:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]
quick back of envelope calculation gives a rough figure of one colision every 23,000 years per submarine.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 01:51:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What we need is the number of collision on any pair of submarines, considering the number of submarines of two navies in the patrol areas.

When you say 1/23000 yrs, that would be with one sub each ? or for one given sub with two subs per navy ? then it's 1-(1-1/23k)^4 for all four subs ?

Pierre

by Pierre on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 03:12:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
My question would be how many are actually patrolling in the same area? I assume the Russian ones are all in the relative safety of the arctic ocean.The US ones in the Pacific and Western Arctic. So the only ones that can reasonably run into each other would be the UK and French ones (possibly the Chinese and US in the pacific)wether you'd say  how many could collide would be down to how far the lengths of their patrols overlap, and so how many you'd actually have at sea at any one time.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 03:51:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's the idea behind my 2+2 assumption (see other post in same thread with another calculation). 2 for each navies, on patrol zone + transit lanes, at any given time.

US boomers are all in the pacific now. russians are in the arctic along their own coastline. the chinese have only one 20-yrs old boomer, and there are so many us hk stalking it when it sets sails, that its position may be leaking to google placemarks near real time nowadays. This incident could only ever happen between france and uk in the present setup of strategic forces.

Pierre

by Pierre on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 05:13:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well actually, they were not on patrol, much more likely in transit between home port and patrol zone (certain for Triomphant, likely for Vanguard).

Now the following computation:
average speed: 4knots = 4 nmi/hour ~ 7.5 km/hour
effective "collision" section = 20 meters (ship breadth, all @600m depth)
area combing speed: 0.15 sq km / hour, or over 3 sq km / day.

Total patrol area in the north atlantic + transit lanes = a few million sq km. Lets say there are constantly about 4 boomers in there (only boomers count, they dodge their own HK because they know where they are). That's two boomers of a different country for each boomer of first country (let's forget non existent russians, and assume boomers of one country are more or less boxed).

What is the average time between intercepts considering the entire fleet of 4 subs ? (we assume even if they detect the encounter, they don't deviate from current trajectory)

Pierre

by Pierre on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 12:09:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
about 3x(3 sq km/day)/3e6 sq km = 3e-6 th part of the area is scanned each day by 3 subs, but there are 4 such combinations, so more like 1e-5/day. I assume subs change course randomly from day to day, and they can randomly go back to some place they've been a while earlier, so each day is an independent random experiment, subs collide if some combination of them do scan the same area.

I get to about 100 000 days on average between collisions, which is 273 years. Not such a large number, but still, it comes a bit early when such patrols have been going on since "only" 40 years. Now, of course a little bit of "lets veer just a little bit toward this weird noise so we get a clearer signal" might help a lot in bringing the numbers down (boomers are not supposed to do this, but you know, it gets so boring down there...)


Pierre

by Pierre on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 12:19:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Using the same navigation software?
by Sassafras on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:09:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's a really great parody of a Windows Vista commercial in here somewhere.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 09:56:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sonar and radar both involve sending out a signal that bounces back...effectively, I think, switching them on is a beacon announcing your presence.

So a submarine trundling along as a passive listener is only visible to someone who, by looking for them, makes themselves visible.

Also, I believe navies have been asked to use their sonar less, because of the possible link between military sonar and mass whale and dolphin groundings.

They're running blind, but given the size of the ocean and the number of submarines, it must seem that the odds are on their side.  Well, the odds are on their side.  Probably.  If submarines are in the habit of choosing the most efficient routes between places of mutual interest, that's going to shorten the odds considerably.

Either that, or I'd guess that there might have been some sort of military exercise going on to account for the submarines being so close together.

by Sassafras on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 06:44:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The sonar line is ignorant journalism. As you say, they're hardly going to be cruising the Atlantic merrily pinging away.

I doubt they use 'flight lanes' either - that would be too obvious a security risk. All you'd need would be a mole in Whitehall and the deterrent would be radioactive fish food.

Perhaps they were both looking for a crashed alien saucer in roughly the same place? I'm sure that must be it. :)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:29:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, either they hit at random - not very likely in a 4D space like that - or there are a good number of constraints on where they were that should make predicting their location a lot easier than you'd expect. Restricted flight lanes - maybe for shared practical reasons - seem to make more sense than a simple random collision between two small things in a big, big space.
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:35:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The only operational goal of these submarines is to be undetectable, in order to be available to launch a nuclar retaliatory attack if needed. They are, by their very nature, perpetually on a full war footing, and I very much doubt that their paths would be communicated to any foreign power (I don't think that many people even in the French Navy know where they are).

And they are VERY silent - precisely in order not to be detected by other submarines.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 06:45:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, if they hit each other they must be in the same small bit of ocean, which makes one wonder how hard they'd be to find ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 06:53:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
and governments are probably not too keen to tell.

Maybe it was a joint exercise (presumably hide and seek games), or the submarines were in fact much closer to their home ports (where routes are presumably less varied), or it is sheer bad luck.

The fact is, these things are damn invisible to one another, if they are really inhiding mode, and they are also damn big. The probability of a collision is low but not toally absurd.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:55:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Boomers only exercise with hunter killers of their own countries. There are no exercise between boomers, especially of different countries. This is a chance encounter. Usually navies of UK and France are very keen on these chance encounters, so as to get "competition" data (I noticed it was more important for many french sub officers to document the audio weaknesses of UK subs, than russian subs...)

The Triomphant was only a couple of days from l'Ile Longue, so we know it was in the Gulf of Gascony. And it was a scheduled return apparently, this is near open-info from the french ministry. The Triomphant was coming back from the north atlantic (because the M45 missiles have a short range, we still need to be there to shoot moscow, old habits die hard).

The Vanguard has longer-range Tridents and should be patrolling a larger zone for better security, so I have no reason to question it's presence so far south of its base (the UK territorial waters in the atlantic are too small to be safe, in contrast to the US waters in the pacific, so UK boomers have to roam the open, whereas US subs keep hiding in their own waters around some archipelago of tiny desert atolls in the aleutians for instance, making collisions and stalking impossible for the russians)

Pierre

by Pierre on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 10:47:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... same feature of the ocean floor to skulk about through ... the ocean floor mapping would be common knowledge.

But, yeah, there are attack submarines whose job is to try to hunt and kill boomers in event of war, so boomers aren't doing their job if they are relying on active sonar rather than passive sonar most of the time. And of course, each of them would be looking for ways to avoid being caught on passive sonar themselves.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 02:53:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
They stay silent most of the time (that s the point) and I guess they were doing exercises trying to find each other, obviously that latter part has been successful.
 
by fredouil (fredouil@gmailgmailgmail.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 08:23:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But two missile subs wouldn't be trying to find each other ...
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 09:03:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Maybe they were doing an exercise with attack submarines following each of them, and they each had a mathematician calculate the "optimum hiding path" (given ocean floor) or something like that. Just that they got the same answer and hid in the same place.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 04:22:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Clearly they were both looking up at and monitoring the trajectories of the crashing satellites and...well, you know, its like taking that innocent phone call while driving the mountain road, while eating a melting ice cream...not that I would do such a thing.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 02:24:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bugger.  Who forgot to renew the traffic subscription on the tomtom?
by Sassafras on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:10:58 AM EST
BBC NEWS | UK | Nuclear subs 'collide in ocean'

Meanwhile, SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson has called for a government statement.

"The Ministry of Defence needs to explain how it is possible for a submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction to collide with another submarine carrying weapons of mass destruction in the middle of the world's second-largest ocean," he said.

Yep.

I'm guessing a joint exercise seems most likely.

Or it could have been a random visit from the Unlikely Nuclear Accident Fairy.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:33:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What would those two subs have been doing on a shared exercise?
by Colman (colman at eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:38:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Making love, not war?

We're trapped in the belly of this horrible machine, and the machine is bleeding to death.
by davel on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:46:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No doubt there will be a Steve Bell cartoon covering this in the very near future...

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 10:12:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here it is -- Steve Bell's take:

by Magnifico on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 01:59:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Best comment of the day.
by jjellin on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 10:35:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They were probably chasing eachother and then, something went wrong. You know, boys playing with toys, who has the fastest sub?

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." (Einstein)
by B girl on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:47:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Playing hide and seek (presumably jointly with attack submarines). Which is good training for their real mission, which is (i) hide and shoot or (ii) seek and destroy.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:57:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Or the english were on the wrong side of the sea..

"Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen." (Einstein)
by B girl on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 08:00:07 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm guessing a joint exercise seems most likely.

Especially when considering this detail:

But Sir Jonathon confirmed that HMS Vanguard had been involved.

"Recently, the two submarines came into contact at very low speed," he said.

Another possibility is that they have detected each other, and both tried to simultaneously 'disappear' and find the other.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 10:23:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
No you'd expect any submarine contact to take place at very low speed. The main source of noise from submarine are either from mechanical equipment inside the submarine, pumps, engines etc or from an effect called cavitation. This mainly occurs from the tips and forward edges of the propeller where small bubbles are created on flaws in its leading edge.  This can be minimised by reducing speed, so when attempting to run silently, submarines are generally limited to roughly 3 knots of speed or less, depending on surface design of propeller blades.

You'd only expect high speed submarine impacts from attack submariens, that use a technique that involves sprints then drifts to create an artificial baseline for triangulating acoustic targets while hunting other submarines.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 10:41:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Another possibility is that they have detected each other, and both tried to simultaneously 'disappear' and find the other.

You mean like hide and go seek?

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg

by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 11:46:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The professional version.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 12:55:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You mean Marco ...... Polo

And I'll give my consent to any government that does not deny a man a living wage-Billy Bragg
by ManfromMiddletown (manfrommiddletown at lycos dot com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 01:04:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
following from

(starts 1:10 in)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 01:25:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well if they were both so quiet that the other couldn't hear them then its obviously money well spent TM The Royal Navy & Marine Nationale

I forsee two ships captains with very serious boards of inquiry in their immediate future.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.

by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 10:21:50 AM EST
Well, maybe not in France, at least officially...

Answers demanded after subs collide - Yahoo! News UK

HMS Vanguard was said to have had visible damage when it arrived back in Faslane on Saturday. Le Triomphant is based at L'Ile Longue near Brest, north-west France. On February 6, the French Government released a statement saying that its sub had "collided with an immersed object (probably a container)" and damaged its sonar dome.

Heh. So Britain's military is the more transparent?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 10:24:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so is there much crowing at the Admiralty that at least we know what we hit?

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 10:44:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 11:17:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
o.m.g.  That is truly frightening--I thought subs were all about feeling their way around, you know, with "sonar" so they know what objects including floating and swimming things they are near, and possibly about to bump into.  How could something like this happen??
by jjellin on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 10:34:53 AM EST
apparently they've found the cause...


"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 11:07:19 AM EST
Of course, this is what the serious people have programmed for submarines.  Here is an actual missile launch from the very "Vanguard" of how we promote peace and love.



"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 11:21:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
2009 Jan 27 - Sea Testing Begins on French Nuclear Missile Submarine

Weighing 14,300 metric tons, Le Terrible is the last of four submarines in its class that France plans to equip with nuclear-tipped M-51 ballistic missiles and base at its port of Brest. The submarines are intended to enable a French retaliation to devastating strikes against the nation.

And it is well know that the only reason France has nuclear weapons is because the Britain has nuclear weapons (and the only reason the Britain has nuke is to attack France).* So, the Royal Navy decided they needed to see what heck the bloody France was up to. Then... panic!

2009 Jan 30 - `We have to replace Vanguards'

FURNESS MP John Hutton says the Trident submarine replacement programme - which includes up to four submarines being built in Barrow - must go ahead...

"You have to think about the next fifty years, not the next five years.

"We know there are nuclear weapons states around the world. We know they are trying to enhance their capability. We have to defend ourselves and the deterrent allows us to do that."

And...

2009 Feb 6 -  UK backs missile defence shield

He said without the system, the UK would continue to be vulnerable to attack if a rogue missile appeared on the Fylingdales radar screen, which scans "the upper atmosphere and the surrounding areas of space over quite a large section of the northern hemisphere".

"If one fine day--well, it would not be a fine day; it would be a day of horror--an unidentified flying object appeared on that screen and the computers calculated from its trajectory that it was heading for us, there would be nothing practical that we could do about it, and that has been true for decades.

"It would be possible to notify the Vanguard submarine currently on patrol and to notify the prime minister, but nothing could be done.

The HMS Vanguard is on patrol... waiting and watching for a highly improbable French first strike.

2009 Feb 9 - Accident Damages French Nuclear Submarine

A collision with an underwater object last week damaged a French submarine carrying nuclear-armed missiles, Agence France-Presse reported...

Le Triomphant returned to its home port in northwest France after hitting the object, which was most likely a container.

A container? Well either the French Navy didn't know what they ran into, or didn't want to disclose they had a run in with their arch nemesis, the British.

So the damage was done, the cover story was holding until someone in the Ministry of Defence sold or leaked the story to The Sun for an exclusive.

2009 Feb 16 - Unthinkable

BRITISH and French nuclear submarines which collided deep under the Atlantic could have sunk or released deadly radioactivity, it emerged last night...

A senior military source said: "The lines between London and Paris have been hot."

The MoD insisted last night there had been no nuclear security breach. But this is the biggest embarrassment to the Navy since Iran captured 15 sailors in 2007. The naval source said: "Crashing a nuclear submarine is as serious as it gets."

So who wins?

Those involved with selling and buying nuclear missile submarines and missile "defense" shields.

 

 

 

 

* This is snark.

by Magnifico on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 01:12:17 PM EST
* This is snark.

Ya think it is?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 03:24:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From a 1982 episode, "The Challenge", of the popular British sit-com Yes Minister

Sir Humphrey Appleby: [talking about nuclear fallout shelters] Well, you have the weapons, you must have the shelters.

James Hacker: I sometimes wonder why we need the weapons.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Minister! You're not a unilateralist?

James Hacker: I sometimes wonder, you know.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Well then you must resign from the government!

James Hacker: Ah, no, no, no, no, no, no, no. I'm not that unilateralist! Anyway, the Americans will always protect us from the Russians, won't they?

Sir Humphrey Appleby: Russians? Who's talking about the Russians?

James Hacker: Well, the independent deterrent.

Sir Humphrey Appleby: It's to protect us against the French!

by Magnifico on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 03:57:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You may laugh, but in the early 1930's the UK built a pile of airfields in the south of england to defend against a possible French air attack, which turned out to be most useful at the beginning of the next decade. (not that I'm saying that these submarines are in any way useful)

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 05:05:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Do you have a source or link for that?

My understanding the airfields were built by Britain in the 1930s in reaction to Germany's rearmament.

I'm curious to read a source explaining how the airfields in the south of England were built to defend against French air attack. I've somehow missed that.

by Magnifico on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:08:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Royal Air Force and Aircraft Design, 1923-1939: Air Staff Operational Requirements | Air Power History | Find Articles at BNET
Worse yet was the RAF threat concept. In Europe in the early postwar years, only France had a large air force. The danger from democratic France was negligible, as both nations needed each other to preserve peace. But RAF Chief Trenchard needed a threat to justify a significant build-up of his service (similarly, the U.S. Navy's war plans conjectured a worst case scenario of an attack by an alliance of Japan and Britain, a combination no one seriously contemplated). Sadly, the RAF began to act as if the French threat was real. It built air bases facing France, and it specified limited-range bombers capable of hitting nearby Paris.



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 07:32:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for the source. The book, The RAF and Aircraft Design, 1932-1939: Air Staff is expensive, $190.00 in the States, so it will be a long time before it winds up on my bookshelf, however, thanks to Amazon, I was able to read some of the relevant passages from Colin Sinnott's research.

Here are some excerpts in support:

Excerpts from pages 5-6:

The political event in the early 1920s of most relevance to the subject of this book was the worsening of diplomatic relations with France in 1922. In the course of discussions on the 'Continental Air Menace', Lord Balfour commented:

Day after day, night after night, the capital of the Empire would be subject to an unremitting bombardment of a kind which no city effectively acting as the military, naval and administrative centre of a country engaged in a life and death struggle, has ever had to endure."

Concern over the size of the French Air Force led to the decision to strengthen the RAF, for it had been much reduced in size after the end of the 1914-1918 war. There followed two Home Defence Expansion Schemes. That of 1922 for 23 squadrons was soon superseded by the better known 1923 scheme for 52 squadrons...

The Salisbury Committee's term of reference were to enquire into the cooperation and correlation between the Army, Navy and Air Force, and inter alia, into 'the standard to be aimed at for defining the strength of the Air Force for purposes of home and imperial defense'. The Committee issued an interim report in June 1923 which included the recommendation that

British air must include Home Defence Air Force of sufficient strength adequately to protect us against air attack by the strongest air force within striking distance of this country.

The Cabinet endorsed the Salisbury Committee's recommendations... the Air Staff later argued that it was based upon a assessment of the threat. They explained to the Committee of Imperial Defence that 'The object is to attain, and maintain, approximate numerical equality with the French Independent Striking Force'. The justification for this was that

At the present time France is the only power which maintains a powerful air force within striking distance of Great Britain.

The Estimated potentiality of the French air force, therefore, is used as a basis for calculating the air defense measures necessary for this country.

We will see that this consideration shaped the Air Staff's views on operational requirements, and on airfield location, long after any thought that war with France was conceivable, because some basis for defence planning was required...

Excerpt from page 8:

The emergence of Germany as a military threat in 1933-34 led to a major realignment of Air Staff planning in many respects. Before 1934 the RAF's operational squadrons had been disposed to counter an air attack from France, but in August 1934 the Air ministry was instructed to prepare plans from the air defence of Great Britain for war with Germany. These were to assume that France was an ally, and include the possibility that German aircraft would overfly Holland and Belgium, or occupy airfields in those countries. Germany as the potential enemy meant that attacks were now to be expected from the east rather from the south, with consequent reorientation of the RAF's fighter defence system. Needless to say, a direct effect of considering Germany rather than France as the potential enemy was greatly to increase the operation range required of bombers, and in consequence their size.

Excerpt from page 16:

Most bomber squadrons were to be stationed in Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire, where they would be protected by the Aircraft Fighting Zone... For many years the radius of action specified for most bomber types was no more than sufficient to reach Paris and the industrial regions of North-East France from those bases. When Germany replaced France as the potential enemy the best location for RAF bomber squadrons would be in East Anglia and Yorkshire.

So in the 1920s, Britain used France as its nemesis for war planning and it wasn't until 1934 did the planning focus switch to Germany. Now, I wonder if Britain had prepared for war with Germany in the 1920s would appeasement would have been a necessary delay tactic?

by Magnifico on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 08:40:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well there is a fairly convincing argument that German military strength was  so minor at the time of Czeckeslovakia that if Britain and France had responded that the war would have been very short and led to the utter collapse of the German military. However the main problem at the time was a percieved lack of will on the part of British and French populations to take part in another major ground war in Europe following on from the losses of the Great war.

If you don't wish to spend that much money, there will be other sources (ouch it's no cheaper in the UK. I do hate academic publishers with a passion)

The Royal Air Force and the Problems of the Inter-War Years « Thoughts on Military History

The RAF also had to deal with the gradually changing geo-strategic situation in Europe. For example, in the mid-twenties, in a period of deteriorating relation with France, the RAF had to deal with the potential threat of what has been described as the French air menace.[36] This, coupled with the emergence of the threat of Germany in the 1930's led to the materialisation of a distinct home fighter force based around the concept of strategic air defence.

[36] John Ferris `The Theory of a "French Air Menace", Anglo-French Relations and the British Home Defence Air Force Programmes of 1921 - 1925′ Journal of Strategic Studies, Vol. 10 (1987) pp. 62 - 83



Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 09:37:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I had no idea that France was considered a likely enemy in the 20s, and I can't even begin to imagine why that might have been true.

Outline history from 1922-1923 makes for fascinating reading, but evidence of plans for global domination and total European war seems rather thin.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 09:44:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
As usual it probably has more to do with inter-service rivalry than any grasp of reality.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 05:44:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:
I had no idea that France was considered a likely enemy in the 20s, and I can't even begin to imagine why that might have been true.

France was a standing enemy in late 19th century brittish war plans due to the competition for colonies (Germany hardly featured there at all). With Germany defeated and France dominating the continent, they should have been an even more terrible foe.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 08:47:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, France and the United Kingdom had been on the verge of war 25 years before 1923...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 11:11:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I was aware of some colonial friction - never mind that minor scrap with Napoleon - but I was having trouble imagining that still being relevant in the 1920s when WW I would still have been a recent memory for most people.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 11:43:37 AM EST
[ Parent ]
well you've got to remember, as I've said before. It's not like we hold a grudge, but they did shoot our king in the eye.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 03:53:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This was all good, until that little asterisk at the end. Why would you think it's snark?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 04:57:31 PM EST
[ Parent ]
During the Cold War era, the US and Soviet military used to routinely play games of chicken, with the occasional regrettable incident resulting.  

Clearly Europe is now a rising power, to achieve the status of having such incidents with USuk.  

The Fates are kind.

by Gaianne on Mon Feb 16th, 2009 at 11:23:26 PM EST
made light of the incident on public radio this morning, saying that "thse submarines are super silent - they make less noise than a shrimp", suggesting it was sheer bad luck.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 05:03:40 AM EST
He's lucky he doesn't have a Kursk-type situation in his hands...

Most economists teach a theoretical framework that has been shown to be fundamentally useless. -- James K. Galbraith
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Feb 17th, 2009 at 05:10:17 AM EST
[ Parent ]


Display:
Go to: [ European Tribune Homepage : Top of page : Top of comments ]