Thursday, June 19, 2008

Submarine Mystery Question of the Week

Last October, M.E. reacted to a high-profile incident dating to August 29-30th ( so serious it required President Bush and Defense Secretary Robert Gates to be quickly informed.) You can refresh your memory here.

The Brits think a similar incident could not happen on their subs: US nuclear error 'impossible in UK'. Well, the US silent service is equally safe. But the Air Force has some bigger problems.

Fast forward to today, June 19 2008: US N-weapons parts missing, Pentagon says

According to previously undisclosed details obtained by the FT, the investigation also concluded that the air force could not account for many sensitive components previously included in its nuclear inventory. One official said the number of missing components was more than 1,000.

A senior military officer said the military leadership, including Adm Mike Mullen, the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, was “deeply troubled” by the findings of the report made by Admiral Kirkland Donald, the officer who led the investigation. There was no suggestion the missing components wound up in countries that should not have received them.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates fired two top Air Force officials who were blamed for mis-shipment of four fuses used to trigger nuclear warheads to Taiwan in August 2006 as helicopter batteries, but were probably linked to the latest report revelations, as well.

It raises a serious question about where else these unaccounted for warhead related parts may have gone, said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association in Washington. I would not be surprised if the recent Taiwan incident is not the only one.

The Taiwan screw-up had gone undetected until March 2007, when nose cone assemblies containing the nuclear fuses were recovered. At that time, the United States had notified China of the blunder and give assurances that its arms sales policies to Taiwan had not changed.

The U.S. Air Force had originally formed within the Army, not separating as a unique service until 1947. Is it time for the Army to reclaim proper management of the Air Force's nuclear weapons systems? Taxpayers could probably save quite a bundle on such a recombination. Think of all the redundant AF staff jobs that could be trimmed, elimination of the problematic Air Force Academy, and outrageous posturing such as requiring qualified pilots to fly pilotless, remotely controlled drones. [It has been no secret that senior Air Force officials balk at turning UAVs over to the Army, insisting instead that they be operated by trained pilots].

The most recognized name in modern submarines seems to disagree with the Air force position on drones, when he says this:

I would not let an adult drive my robot. You do not have enough gaming experience, but I will let a kid with no license take over control of my vehicle system.

Mystery Question: What submariner made the statement above, and in which branch of the armed services did he enter the military?
Submarines are always silent and strange.



At 20 June, 2008 09:06, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That would be oceanographer Robert Ballard of Titanic finding fame.

He first entered the Army as an intel specialist, and then later transferred to the Navy as an oceanographer.

Point of contention: Ballard was never a true Submarine Sailor. Though he worked on submersibles, he never earned the Submarine Warfare Dolphins insignia.

You can't be a Submarine Sailor if you haven't earned your Dolphins.

So what do I win?


Post a Comment

<< Home