Originally Posted by clifp
I once spend a couple weeks with a Russian submarine nuclear engineering officer. The stories he told or alluded to of illiterate Russian peasant operating poorly designed and poorly maintain nuclear reactors were pretty hair raising.
The Russian ECHO submarine class was referred to as "Widowmaker" by the crews.
It drove the Navy-- particularly Rickover-- crazy. When the EISENHOWER nuclear carrier left Norfolk for a 1960s deployment, escorted by nuclear cruisers, they headed east at 30 knots expecting to leave the ECHO surveillance in their wake. Instead the submarine loafed along across the entire Atlantic, easily keeping pace at a time when American THRESHER and STURGEON class subs could maintain, at best, a 25-knot SOA. Short of sinking the sub as soon as they found it, there didn't seem to be any way to get outside of its missile-threat envelope.
In his inimitable manner, Rickover screamed at the Naval Reactors engineering staff to come up with a comparable U.S. submarine design. The best they could do was a humongously awkward hull that made all sorts of design, safety, & habitability sacrifices in the name of speed. (Today we call that the LOS ANGELES class.) The only way the engineers could come up with an ECHO-size hull capable of that much speed was to leave out most of the reactor's lead & water shielding... but not only would the federally-legislated radiation-exposure rules not allow that, no one would be so foolish as to risk killing the crew every time the OOD ordered up a flank bell.
When the Berlin Wall came down and the U.S.-Russian submariners started talking amongst themselves, it still took a long time for everyone to believe the truth.
Originally Posted by FinanceDude
I defer all comments to Nords........
I thought nukes couldn't be detonated without some sort of code??
During the Cold War there was some concern that communications reliability would be badly affected-- even wiped out-- by the electromagnetic effects of nuclear-warhead detonations (EMP). It was such an issue that back then submarine radiomen actually had to be able to copy CW-- Morse code-- at 16 words per minute. Because it was hard enough to be confident of getting a launch order through to the subs, let alone the permissive action links (unlocking codes), submarines were exempted from the rest of the military's PALs. So a launch order would still require authentication of the message, but the submarines carried everything else needed to make mushroom clouds. It was hypothetically possible for boomer COs (with one willing assistant) to launch armed nuclear weapons anytime they wanted to.
Today submarines are required to comply with the same system as the rest of the military. It's a lot different than the Cold-War days, and I don't know how the boomer guys maintain the will to live-- let alone patrol for 30-45 days. I guess it's the same blissful ignorance I had while serving on a boomer before an attack sub: you don't miss it if you don't know it exists.
Let me think about it for a second... nope, don't miss any of it!