Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Terrorism's Tentacles or Inexperienced Carrier Crew?

This report is disturbing regardless of the incident's root cause. Only as a last ditch resort would the Navy alarm immediate relatives of a submarine's (USS San Juan in this case) crew that is was missing (realtime drills like that are simply not conducted).

Something other than what has been reported happened, however. Communications equipment failure? U.S. nuclear submarines are noted for systems redundancy. Malfunctions that can be anticipated, are also largely preventable and could rarely jeopardize the missions of such stealth platforms manned by expert crews.

Excerpts from SUBLANT's public statement in the Navy newstand:

Losses of communications, followed by the reported sighting of a red flare, are distress indicators.

These indicators, combined with establishing communications with only two of the three submarines operating with the Enterprise CSG, was sufficient information to activate missing submarine procedures.

Although this was a false alarm, ... Procedures demonstrated that the submarine escape and rescue program is able to quickly respond ...

What to expect (in order of declining probability):

We will hear nothing beyond a routine-sounding finding that multiple breakdowns in communications aboard the Enterprise led to false indicators causing activation of missing submarine procedures (immediate search, ISMERLO alert, notification of family, etc.). The USS San Juan will deploy as planned. (Non-judicial punishment against member(s) of Enterprise crew would be suppressed).

or,

We will hear nothing beyond a routine-sounding inquiry finding that intermittent equipment failure led to the false alarm and the USS San Juan is on planned deployment. (This would shed no further light upon whether there had been a replacement of one or more of the San Juan's crew, possibly including a junior officer, or enlisted man, or what the actual root cause of the problem had been, unless one happens to endure secretive handling similar to this guy).

or,

The USS San Juan will be diverted to Portsmouth shipyard for unscheduled equipment upgrades. (This would betray that the San Juan had actually been involved in a collision with one of her operating units.)

or,

A commercial airliner en route to Europe, or a space shuttle (currently not flying) will not be mysteriously downed in the next two years. (This might indicate the successful conclusion of a stealth mission off the U.S. Atlantic coast between USS Enterprise Carrier Strike Group and a submarine threat from a previously undisclosed enemy of the U.S.).

If you believe another significant outcome is missing, feel free to comment at any time.

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6 Comments:

At 14 March, 2007 19:46, Blogger SonarMan said...

Or, it could be, as was reported, that it was a comms screw-up. The San Juan missed a regularly scheduled broadcast. That is entirely plausable, has happened in the past (just not for so long)and I would put money that it the real reason.

The red flare more than likely came from an overzealous searcher on one of the surface units, launched without authorization, either on purpose or inadvertently.

Conspiracy theories I'm all for, but there's got to be some evidence.

 
At 14 March, 2007 21:59, Blogger Vigilis said...

Sonarman, for any of the described outcomes (which are by no means exhaustive) there would be evidence. The public will be entitled to none of it - not due to some "conspiracy theory", but due to routine operational security requirements related to submarine operations.

Should we learn that the San Juan is going to Portsmouth, for instance, that may be a pittance of evidence that, contrary to earlier published reports, she was either not destined for a near-term deployment, or that some unreported damage may now need fixing.

 
At 15 March, 2007 08:53, Anonymous bullnav said...

Today's New London Day said that the Navy confirmed that teh SJ did not fire a flare. Also, CBS News reported that they were the OP-FOR boat. Someone at either SUBLANT or the carrier thought SJ was supposed to come up at 2200, but they did not. I suspect that there were mis-handled/mis-understood comms involved. According to The Day, SJ is staying out and continuing the exercise.

 
At 15 March, 2007 12:59, Blogger Vigilis said...

BullNav, thank you for the feedback, which, so far, correlates nicely with the first outcome listed above (the most likely)!

 
At 22 March, 2007 02:10, Anonymous Ex-MT said...

Just a little help to maybe disspell the likelihood of collision. I was on the USS Kentucky in the late 90's when the SJ attempted to surface and found it difficult to accomplish if hitting our stabilizers first. Not a good career move for their CO, Nav, and various other supporting cast. At any rate, that collision was ALL OVER the media so that eventuality would DEFINITELY leak. Thanks for listening!

 
At 22 March, 2007 13:47, Blogger Vigilis said...

Good point, ex-MT. If the red flare actually came from one of the carrier's ASW helicopters, would we have still heard about it by now?

 

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