Sunday, May 02, 2010

No "Submarine Expert" Would Even Ask: Story Unravelled

In his report to French judges investigating the incident, submarine expert Dominiques Salles recommends asking the US Navy to reveal the position of all of its nuclear attack submarines at the time of the sinking of a French trawler on 15 January 2004.

On July 31, 2008, the judges Richard Foltzer and Muriel Corre, who had been charged with the inquiry into the sinking of the Begaled Breizh, after having received expert testimony, issued a statement that it was likely that the vessel sank as a result of an accident with a nuclear attack submarine.[14] It appears likely that a submarine got caught in the net of the trawler and then pulled it down.[15] The judges indicated that all other possibilities were highly improbable, and official reports by the military authorities had been contradictory.[14] However, they were unable to indicate which submarine was involved and indicated also the possibility that the accident may have been caused by the unidentified spy submarine.[16] As such the relatives of the dead sailors and the owner of the ship have not received any compensations
The unexplained sinking is serious; it killed five crew members.
At the time, Salles suspects a US submarine may have been spying on a top secret consignment of military grade plutonium shipped from the French port of Cherbourg to Japan on board a British nuclear transport vessel. The Dutch submarine Dolfijn, one of the first ships to reach the site of the sinking, was initially suspected of involvement in the casualty.[3]
For certain, the U.S. official response will NOT include the recommended locations of all U.S. SSNs. The U.S. had given France all of the information it was going to get in the Bush administration (which like all of the prior administrations, was minimal). The U.S. embassy did not reply after the 2004 sinking that we had no submarines in the area at the time. How do we know this? Simple, such an answer would have eliminated further interst from Salles in the possibility of a U.S. SSN. In other words, the official reply was vague, hinting of "no incidents reported by any U.S. SSN" and an extremely unlikely possibility of any U.S. sub in the area.
Salles would know better than to ask about the location of any U.S. SSBN/GN. Why? Because even France and the U.K. still have not shared the operating areas of their deterrent missile subs with each other. The U.S. may have reminded France verbally that the locations of SSBNs and SSGNs are highly guarded secrets, but again, no incidents have been reported.
Salles is hoping that the transformational Obama administration will share more details about any subs in the area of casualty on 15 January 2004. Is he correct?
Before Obama, such a question would not even have been a tough call; the answer: NO! But with the current administration, submarine tradition is being tossed, military secrecy in general has been exposed to less regard for secrecy and greater regard for questions. The strength of our Navy going forward is even being downplayed. SECNAV Ray Mabus, a lawyer, must advise Obama. Neither SecDef Gates nor Mabus were submariners. Consequently, M.E. believes there is a 15% chance of more disclosures.
Submarines are always silent and strange.



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