The United States Navy likes to take civilians on joy-rides on their submarines. You can't wait for your turn? You'll have a long wait, unless you're rich or famous, or well-connected. No, no, these rides are not for the people who pay for the submarines. These thrilling excursions are for people who, at a time of threatening peace, are in a position to promote massive expenditures of your money on more, bigger, faster, deadlier submarines.
You see, there are a whole raft of deadly submarines out there, just waiting to whack us one with a big nuclear missile. These submarines come from our deadly foes, like... well, Britain might get mad at us someday. The Russians still aren't fond of us, really. China? Someday they might well have a sub that comes back up after it submerges. And North Korea-- rumour has it that they are plotting our final destruction at this very moment. So, yes, by all means, more $2 billion submersibles, please.
That's why there are the joy rides. You see, Congress is not
always as forthcoming with the money for these
toys weapons deterrents
as they should be. So they must be promoted. So if you and your famous or rich
loved one would like a thrilling ride in a giant steel cigar, the navy will
But there are some limitations, my friends. If you and your significant other-- one can't imagine a submarine hosting Elton John and "friend"-- go joy-riding together and the excursion happens to last more than a day, you are not allowed to bunk down together. Oh no, no, no! You must sleep in separate bunks. And the rules are spelled out in case you still don't get it: no sex. We can't have love on a submarine!
When the nuclear-powered attack submarine Greeneville hit that Japanese Trawler, it was not out on a training mission as first reported. No, the training mission had been cancelled. But these important visitors had been promised a ride so, at an operating cost of $25,000 a day, the navy obliged. The Greeneville was out on a joy ride. The Ehime Maru, the Japanese Trawler whose name barely rates a mention in the follow-up news stories, was out on a genuine training mission, teaching young people how to fish. They were out in the middle of a very big ocean. Then a nuclear-powered submarine on a joy ride bashed into their hull and sank them, and twelve people died.
The New York Times has published a lengthy article about the grief and despair experienced by the crew of the Greeneville! I may have missed a similar article on the families of the dead fishermen. I must have missed it. If I didn't miss it, this weird apologia is a pathetic joke in extremely bad taste.
But if they ever published an article about the families of the dead fishermen, it is not listed in the links to this article. I'm afraid the suffering of these families did not rate the New York Times.
This article is interesting in a perverse way. I wouldn't normally argue that the grief of the submariners or their wives should be completely over-looked or ignored. There is a place for genuine sympathy for crew members who didn't make the mistake but worry about public perception that they were responsible for needless death.
We only honor them, after all, when they are responsible for needful death. We give them medals.
But this article attacks a perception that does not exist. Who out there, in his right mind, thinks that the working crew were responsible for this disaster? No one. We all know that it was the Navy brass that made the decision to go joy-riding, and the Navy brass that wanted visitors to experience the thrill and excitement of riding a death machine, and the commander of the sub who did not take adequate measures-- measures that are normally required as a matter of policy-- to ensure that no vessels were above them when they pulled their stunt.
The New York Times quotes a submariner's spouse: "In 16 years here I've never faced that kind of crisis. It makes you get more loyal, more defensive. I've gone to bed crying for Scott Waddle. And his crew it's going to affect them for the rest of their lives."
One hopes she shed a tear or two for the families of the dead fishermen.
Why does the New York Times publish this drivel? Remember, we're talking here about the poor submariners who got to sail back into port alive. Are you supposed to forget all about the Japanese fishermen and go, "oh, those poor submariners..."?
Well, we know why. Somebody got to the New York Times. I don't mean in a sinister way. I mean that someone high-ranking in the Navy or government called the New York Times and gave them a big lecture about how they were ignoring the sufferings of the poor crew and how they were needlessly damaging the reputation of the brave and courageous men of the armed forces. God help us, they might even have accused the New York Times of undermining NATIONAL SECURITY by giving needless focus to the families of the dead.
Like a rotting fish.
Copyright © 2001 Bill Van Dyk All rights reserved.