Sunday, 7 August 2005

Break out the Vodka!

I have no idea what "Splice the Mainbrace" is in Russki. But whatever it is, consider it said. Also a big BRAVO ZULU.

The 7-man crew of the Russian Pris minisub AS-28 are now safe, thanks to a multinational rescue effort and a British remotely piloted rescue vehicle.

All submariners, regardless of nationality or allegiance, are members of a very special group. Associated with them are a few others, people who aren't bubbleheads, but have spent too much time in their company at depth for some of it not to have rubbed off.

I know that when I first read the news a few minutes ago, it was like hearing that members of my family had been rescued. Given the deadline - and in this case, deadline was an appropriate word, because time was of the essence. The Cold Equations stated exactly how long they had to breathe before the O2 ran out, and that amount of time was in hours, not days.

For such an effort to have been mounted so quickly, and for the Russians to have assented to outside help so speedily, speaks volumes for all concerned. Everyone had to do exactly the right thing, and without the merest pause for consideration. They did, and 7 of my comrades (whose names I don't know, and who in other circumstances I might have done my best to kill) are now alive. Their sons and daughters are not orphaned, their wives not widowed.

I'm not a submariner (though I've spent some time on board various subs). But assuming over a dozen boats are in service with the IDF, Bundesmarine, Armada de Chile, Royal Swedish Navy, Hellenic Navy, Italian Navy, and others, all of which carry the ISUS-90 or CSU-90 systems on board, and assuming 1 in 3 are at sea, each with about 60-70 crew on each, then 200 submariners at any one time are reliant for their very survival on me and my erstwhile colleagues having done our jobs adequately. I've never met more than a handful of these men (and none of the few women), but I think about them every day, and pray "Dear God, Please May I Not Have Screwed Up Ten Years Ago".

Anyone who doesn't think the same way has no place in making Safety-Critical systems.

A Timeline of the rescue is over at Gateway Pundit

For more details, see Ultraquiet No More, and The Stupid Shall Be Punished, both blogs by submariners (you're never an ex-).

There's also stories on MSM. From the New York Times :
As the British sailors worked, Russian officials said the submarine's crew of seven men were alive and had donned thermal suits, huddled together in a single compartment and were minimizing their movements to conserve their remaining air.

Power had been all but shut down inside the sunken vessel and its heater turned off to save its dwindling energy reserves, rendering the titanium-hulled craft a chilled, dark tube.
But they made it. Freezing, oxygen running out, professionally conserving their energy and waiting there in the darkness for rescue or death (whichever came first), and they made it.

And now I'm off to the cupboard to get some Vodka, and toss off a shot to the rescued, the rescuers, and all those involved. Schast'ya i zdorov'ya!

No comments: