Daily Archives: July 17, 2013

UK – Mourners pack out funeral for ex-submariner – Video clip

THE Armed Forces are sometimes dubbed ‘the biggest family in the world’ and today proved exactly that.


Scores of mourners turned out at Fareham Cemetery, Wickham Road, to see off Rodney ‘Vic’ Silvester, a veteran who served on nuclear submarines for many years.

Vic, 67, died last week at QA Hospital after losing his fight with cancer.

Prior to his death, he had spent a short time at Woodland Court residential care home in Portchester.

Not much had been known about Vic before his death as he had become withdrawn after his friends and family had all died.

His one remaining cousin came forward to organise the funeral, but when Supporting Veterans in Care Facebook group heard that Vic faced a lonely funeral, it put out a plea for mourners.

The British Legion and the Submariners’ Association heard about the funeral and followed suit.

Today, representatives from the groups and people who had read the plea in The News turned out in Fareham.

A service was held where mourners heard about Vic’s career at HMS Dolphin, on HMS Odin and on HMS Dreadnought, before he was laid to rest.

A bugler played the Last Post as his coffin was committed to the ground.

John Harper, from Bognor Regis, is Vic’s second cousin. He said: ‘I think what these guys do is fabulous, absolutely superb. I didn’t expect such a large turn out, it’s brilliant. I would like to say thank you very much for everybody for turning out. Rod would have been chuffed to bits, so would his dad. He would have loved every bit of it.’

Roy Dixon, from Gosport, is part of the Submariners’ Association. He said: ‘We heard that Vic had passed and the information was very scant but one significant factor was that we had heard only one member of family had been in contact. So we decided that we would not let the side down, and do what we would always do and attend the funeral of a fellow submariner. I’m so pleased that the turn out is as good as this, from all walks of navy life, surface ships, bombers, diesel boats, there’s even a green beret here which is really something.’

Lisa Smith and Tamie Pye, staff from Vic’s care home, were at the funeral.

Tamie said: ‘He came out of his shell once he came to us. He was like a new man.’

Lisa said: ‘He kept himself to himself but he did like to have a good chat, especially about his navy days.’

Father Paul Miles-Knight led the service . He said: ‘It is amazing to see. At the start there was only going to be me and three others here but thanks to the wonders of the internet, the veterans got together. He would have been proud.’

Source – The News


Canada – Navy submarine damage severe, internal report says

HMCS Corner Brook hit seafloor off British Columbia in 2011

Slamming into the seafloor at 11 km/h damaged one of Canada’s submarines more severely than the navy originally admitted to the public, new documents obtained by CBC show.

The Royal Canadian Navy’s Damage Assessment and Options Analysis report for HMCS Corner Brook tells a story of a submarine suffering “extensive damage” from “tearing and dents” that left a gaping, two-metre hole in the submarine’s bow.

Seawater was “roiling” in the parts of the submarine and two of its torpedo tube doors had been torn off when it rammed the ocean floor off British Columbia two years ago.

The submarine had 60 people aboard, including some of the most experienced and senior submariners in the navy, when it rammed the rocky seafloor while cruising 45 metres below the surface.

Two sailors were slightly injured during the June 4, 2011 collision.The navy’s official board of inquiry blamed Lt.-Cmdr. Paul Sutherland, the sub’s captain, for the collision.

The inquiry was closed to the public and the navy only released a one-page summary of the hearing.

The navy has publicly called the accident a “fender bender” which resulted in no structural damage. But the navy’s internal report tells a much different story.

The damage report obtained by CBC under Access to Information was completed three days after the grounding and contains photographs detailing the damage to the Corner Brook.

While Vice-Admiral Mark Norman, now commander of the Royal Canadian Navy, assured Canadians the damage was not as bad as it looked, the report says “structural state of sub unk.” Unk is navy shorthand for unknown.

“Location of strike likely to have caused shock stress transmission within forward structure,” states the navy’s early damage report.

Norman had denied the damaged extended beyond what could be seen in several photographs obtained by CBC in February 2012.

The photos showed the submarine after it was hauled from the water with a hole in it the size of a ping-pong table.

Safety questioned

“The navy has not been upfront with Canadians about the degree of damage and just how close we came to a truly serious accident. I think the Canadian navy has to come clean across the board with respect to Canada’s Victoria class submarines,” said Michael Byers, a University of British Columbia defence expert who has been critical of the submarine program in the past.

The report said that there are “strong indications” of damage to the main ballast tank that may extend to the pressure hull of the submarine. The pressure hull is a thick, rolled-steel area of the submarine where sailors live and work.

“This accident came very close to claiming the lives of the entire crew,” said Byers, who co-authored a recent report on Canada’s fleet of four second-hand British-built submarines.

The damage to the HMCS Corner Brook was in the area in which sailors are quartered.

The damage to the HMCS Corner Brook was in the area in which sailors are quartered. 

Byers said if the pressure hull is twisted or damaged, it may be impossible for the navy to fix.

“Please bear in mind that the documents you have from the ATI request were created very soon after HMCS Corner Brook ran aground in 2011,” wrote Department of National Defence spokeswoman Tracy Poirier in an email to CBC.

“While I can say that more work has been done since then to look into what damage the submarine incurred, I have not been able to find out any details as to what was learned during these subsequent surveys.”

The navy has said it intends to repair the 2,400-tonne submarine during its scheduled refit period, which is to begin this year and run until 2016. The navy will replace the British torpedo system and other sensors and communications equipment that came with the four Victoria-class submarines Canada bought in 1998.

A similar refit process was just completed on another submarine from the class — HMCS Windsor — and it took five years instead of the planned two.

The cost of the work on the Windsor totalled $209 million and still only one of the sub’s two generators is operational, limiting the distance the sub can go away from land.

The navy has not said how much more it will cost to attempt to repair the collision damage to the 70-metre-long Corner Brook.

“If it turns out not to have worked after an attempt at repairing the vessel then Canadian taxpayers will have poured close a billion dollars into a bottomless pit trying to recover this submarine,” said Byers.

Source – CBC News

Trident: Does Britain need a submarine-based nuclear missile system that will cost £100 billion?

Ministers argue that having nuclear submarines permanently patrolling our waters has “served us well”

So, the Lib Dems’ long-awaited review of alternatives to Trident is Here.

Having pledged to “say no to the like-for-like replacement” in their election manifesto in 2010, then being forced to cede ground in order to enter into power, the review was always going to represent something of a fudge. Essentially it outlines a slimmed down version of the current system, which would deliver a bit less firepower and very little in the way of savings to the taxpayer.  It’s done little to paper over the cracks in the Coalition with the Defence Secretary condemning the plans as “reckless”, and the Prime Minister flatly rejecting them.

Most importantly the review fails to address the blindingly obvious question of whether Britain, decades after the Cold War and in the grip of austerity, actually needs a submarine-based nuclear missile system that will cost an estimated £100 billion over the next 30 years. I’ll be raising this point in a debate in Parliament today.

In any case, what the Lib Dems think seems to be of little relevance.

The Government, regardless of the views of its coalition partners, Parliament, or the public has been ploughing money into a replacement.

In response to a parliamentary question I tabled in 2010, the MoD revealed it was already spending billions on enriched uranium components and high explosives.

Ministers argue that having nuclear submarines permanently patrolling our waters has “served us well”.  But has our security really been greater than other nations that have chosen not to spend billions on a permanent flotilla of nuclear submarines?  Do we sleep safer in our beds than the Germans or the Japanese?

The fact is that the Liberal Democrats, like the Conservatives and like Labour, refuse to accept the major strategic and economic benefits that non-renewal would offer.  These include improved national security (with flexibility to spend elsewhere on the armed forces) and improved global security.  Britain’s moral authority in global multilateral disarmament initiatives depends on its own behaviour.  How can we dictate to Iran or other nations seeking to join the nuclear club while we remain wedded to Trident?

This is a time when growing numbers of our citizens are relying on food banks. When public sector workers are having their pay frozen.  When vital services that the most vulnerable in our society depend on are being cut daily. And when the armed forces themselves are under strain.

It’s not lefty-pacifist propaganda to ask whether we should be refusing to move on from a past era of warfare. Four former senior military commanders have voiced concerns  that “replacing Trident will be one of the most expensive weapons programmes this country has seen” and highlighted concerns about its impact on  defence equipment budget.

You might reasonably ask, like the former Prime Minister John Major: “In what circumstances, and upon whom, is Trident likely to be used?” The Government’s own National Security Strategy has downgraded the threat of state on state nuclear warfare, while highlighting the emergence of new 21st Century threats – including climate change, pandemics, organised crime and cyber warfare – as well as terrorism, the threat of which is arguably heightened by the kind of posturing that Trident represents.

But instead of facing up to the real threats of the modern world, the Government sadly seems determined to lock the UK into the costly technologies of the past.

Source – The Independent

US -Eugene Wilkinson (1918-2013): Navy Commanding Officer of First Nuclear Submarine


The US Navy gives recognition and all salutes to Vice Admiral Eugene P. Wilkinson, who passed away last July 11 at the age of 94, as reported in NavyTimes.

Wilkinson made history as the first commanding officer to have full command over Nautilus, the Navy’s first nuclear-powered submarine. As the Nautilus made its maiden voyage, Wilkinson issued a message: “Underway on nuclear power”His career in the Navy spanned 34 years, starting from his commissioning in 1940.

His credentials include a Silver Star for his services during World War II, as well as working as the Naval Operations for Submarine Warfare’s deputy chief prior to his retirement in 1974. Wilkinson also powered the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations as its first president and CEO. The organization emphasizes the importance of safety in nuclear power plants. Aside from his command of the historic nuclear sub, he also commandeered the first nuclear-powered cruiser called Long Beach.

Navy Staff director Vice Adm. Richard Hunt expressed his respect for the departed veteran, in behalf of the entire Navy fleet. “He was a pioneering leader, an outstanding shipmate, and he will be sorely missed by his community and the Navy family,” Hunt said. –

Source – US Navy Seasl Blog