Sunday, October 24, 2010

Immensely Discombobulating

Call it losing face - at the very least the confidence of those who had hitherto given their respect to the naval command prowess of the British Royal Navy. An "untoward" incident has the capacity to alter that.

Becoming a snickering laughing-stock does no one's sense of self any good. To witness, even at a remove - there are no longer any discreet 'secrets' carefully hidden away from public scrutiny in this age of vigilant electronic devices put to good use - a routine operation gone awry to a spectacular degree is the new reality.

Let's face it, this was not an professionally astute move on the part of the command and crew of the newly-built and -launched HMS Astute, all $2.5-billion-worth of most technologically advanced nuclear stealth-submarine so sophisticated it can remain undetected for weeks on end, submerged off an 'enemy' coast.

But not if its current commanding officer, Cmdr. Andy Cole, has anything to do with it. He and his doughty crew of 103 were engaged in a routine disembarkment of contractors, preparing to assist in the boarding of another group, while manoeuvring in shallow waters clearly marked with a line of red and green warning buoys, just as the tide was flowing out.

Clearly, shallow waters become even more shallow and treacherous to the buoyant capacity of a state-of-the-art submarine when the tide is going out. With or without warning buoys, their own experience might have forewarned them, one might venture to suggest? But no, the rudder of the Astute got stuck on a shingle bank off the Isle of Skye.

It will shortly be established how many millions of pounds it will take to repair the sadly wounded submarine. And to pinpoint precisely who among its crew was responsible for obvious oversight. Irrespective of which, isn't the commanding officer by the very fact of his presence and position of command, responsible? Court marshal? Perish the thought.

But this will be a painful wound in the side of Britain's newly-embarked-upon austerity move to cut back on government expenditures - particularly as those cutbacks relate to the slimming down of Britain's armed services and their costly fleet of ships, planes, and armoured personnel carriers, etc.

However, as Britain's Ministry of Despair (oops, Defence) clarified, no one was injured, no threat to the environment ensued, the vessels remained watertight, "This is not a nuclear incident". Just a routine manoeuvre. Cantcha tell the difference?

Just nature's little prank, after all, pitting puny human brains against force majeure, and nature wins, because puny human brains remain oblivious to the obvious.

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