Thursday 7 April 2011

Mutually Assured Destruction

Yesterday I went to Fawley near Southampton to visit one of my companies offices. The office itself is based inside an Oil Refinery, right on the end of a jetty sticking out into the Solent. Fortunately the weather was nice and sunny but I can imagine it would be a grim place to work in the middle of Winter. Needless to say I was very busy (you know, actually doing some work for a change) so didn't have time for anything hobby related. However there was one little interlude that stopped everyone in their tracks - as one of Britain's nuclear Submarines slipped by the end of the jetty, just a few hundred yards away.

Britain has four Vanguard Class submarines - Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant, and Vengeance -  built at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding. Each vessel is theoretically armed with up to 16 Trident II Submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Each missile is capable of carrying 12 warheads although the START I treaty reduced this to 8 and the SORT Treaty reduced it again to 4 or 5. Even so that means each sub potentially contains 48+ warheads. Warheads come in different sizes (like shoes) with the smallest being a mere 100 kilotons! The Bomb dropped on Hiroshima - innocuously named Little Boy - had a yield of between 13-18 kilotons.

So with a quick bit of rough and ready mental maths that means the sub that slipped silently past us in the spring sunshine potentially contained the nuclear capability to replicate Hiroshima 266 times!!! And that's assuming it had the smaller 100kt warheads, the larger ones have a yeild of 475 kilotons each... Gulp!

That's one conflict I definately don't want to wargame.


  1. That was a bit of luck, 1.actually being there, at the time. 2. Having your camera handy!!!
    Cool post!

  2. Subs are very very cool :)

  3. Who needs a submarine when have around hundreds of nuclear power station, probably run with the same quality of Fukushima.


    I've just found out that this sub isn't one of the Vangard Class subs discussed above. Instead this is the HMS Astute, launched in 2007. Although she is a Nuclear submarine that refers to her powerplant not her weaponry. At 97 Meters long and 7000 Tonnes shes a big vessel. The Astute is armed with a combination of 38 Spearfish Torpedoes and Tomohawk Cruise Missiles.

    Coincidentally as I write this there is news that there has been a shooting either nearby or onboard the vessel in Southampton... BBC News


  5. Two crew apparently injured in shooting! Eeek!!

    Quote from Sky News "A man has been arrested after a shooting on board a nuclear submarine. Two people are believed to have been injured in the incident on HMS Astute, which is currently docked in Southampton. Hampshire Police said the incident was not terror-related and there was no risk to the public."

  6. I saw that on the BBC and thought of your post! I believe one of the sailors died, very sad.



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