Thursday, June 27, 2013
A Thought on the S S Western Sun Encounter With the U S Navy
The U.S. Navy hasn't always been completely open about even routine exercises that they've been involved with at sea. I remember years ago in the early 80's a ship that I worked on was sailing off the coast of North Carolina . There was a U S Naval exercise going on and some practice bombing runs by a few Navy jets in the area. One of the dummy heat-seeking missiles that was launched from one of the jets went awry and locked on to the heat from our ship's stack . The missile just missed going down the stack, and struck on the upper aft lifeboat deck above the ship's galley . No one was hurt, and there had been only minimal damage done , and we continued on to our destination ,Port Arthur ,Texas. Upon arriving in port, U.S. Naval officials were on hand to take complete control , brief the small town press and t v reporters, and retrieve their 'property ' even though no one from the Navy ever actually got around to confirming that the missile had been fired by them . The only warning we had was the jets flying low over the path of the ship. And luck had a lot to do with no one getting hurt. I think that the jet pilots were more surprised and embarrassed than anyone else. I accept it as a kind of cautious optimism tale that we have to be constantly wary of how new, fantastic and complex technology are really going to work in the real world despite the idealistic claims we made for it .