Tuesday, 26 October 2010

HMS Astute

So the Royal Navy has had a little embarrassment with their latest submarine. However, I have found the media's rather dramatic reaction to be rather overstating the case. These things happen.

After all, running aground at low speed on shingle in a friendly 'home' area is about as minor an incident as it is posisble to have. For instance, have a look at Queenfish.org for pictures of what happened when the USS San Francisco collided with a seamount at flank (i.e. full) speed in 2005. Unfortunately one sailor died, and the submarine was close to sinking. Nearly half the crew suffered injuries of one sort or another, 23 seriously enough to be evacuated from the ship. Below is a picture of the damage.

Interestingly, they replaced the entire forward section of the San Francisco with that cut off USS Honolulu, a sister ship that was scheduled to be retired. The San Francisco has recently been refuelled, and the Honolulu had not. Despite the damage, it was cheaper to fix the San Francisco than to refuel the Honolulu!

Submarines work in a hostile environment, and accidents will happen. The key is to reducing the number and their impact.

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