Saturday, February 19, 2005


Are They Kidding?

On CNN, news that the US Navy has launched a fearsome new $3.2BN submarine, the last of the Seawolf class of attack subs that the Pentagon ordered during the Cold War.

The 453-foot, 12,000-ton submarine has a 50-torpedo payload and eight torpedo tubes. And, according to intelligence experts, it can tap undersea cables and eavesdrop on the communications passing through them.

It can reach speeds of more than 45 knots and carry Tomahawk cruise missiles and anti-submarine torpedoes, and it is engineered to be quieter than the other two Seawolves, making it better for surveillance.

Sounds awesome - I'll have to get me one of those!

So what's the problem?

They went and named it the USS Jimmy Carter

Excuse me? Are they kidding?

As a youngster in the UK during the seventies I can still recall my Dad complaining how Carter let the Soviets walk all over him. In the Sunday papers there'd be articles showing how many countries round the world were in the Soviets' sphere of influence. Sometimes they'd have maps illustrating the amount of military firepower the Russians were deploying in Europe. We really thought that there was a good chance one day soon we'd wake up to news reports that Soviet tanks had started rolling into Western Europe.

At the time the wisdom of the Western leaders - Carter in the US and the unbelievably incompetent Heath, Wilson and Callaghan in the UK - said that the best we could do was to contain the Soviet menace, and maybe not even that.

Of course, in 1980 the US got a president with some balls, the UK got Margaret Thatcher (who had more balls than her entire cabinet put together), and the Soviet Union collapsed within ten years.

So why the hell don't they call that sub the USS Ronald Wilson Reagan, in honour of the man who had the courage to believe the cold war could be won, and did more than anyone else to bring it to an end?
What's next, a submarine shaped like a phallus named the USS Bill Clinton?
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