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).
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).
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.)
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.