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RageIncarnate
topic
09:49:26 PM Nov 26th 2010
edited by RageIncarnate
  • Broken Aesop - The 'dilemma' that this movie pitches to its viewers is that both the protagonists of the film are both simultaneously correct and wrong in their actions, and in equal measure. Ramsey's desire to uphold the chain of command and take offensive measures is as per his duty as captain, yet he is in direct violation of nuclear protocols and could have launched nuclear weapons at a nuclear power and thus sparked a nuclear war. Hunter's use of authority to subdue the captain and take control of the submarine is still technically a mutiny, but for all practical purposes, he just averted world war 3. However, at the end of the movie, the Board of Inquiry expresses that both men have committed transgressions that are implied to be equivalent in magnitude, yet both are said to have had equally good intentions. The Board is then left to decide what to do, while the epilogue message indicates that this incident caused the ability to launch nuclear weapons to be reverted solely to the hands of the President of the United States of America. Wait... what. Equally good intentions? Equivalent transgressions? The potential slaughter of 6 billion human beings is equivalent to the mutiny - lawful mutiny, that too - of a single submarine? Isn't there some term that can be used to describe committing genocide under military authorisation? Yes, it's called a war-crime. And even though it didn't happen, it VERY NEARLY did. Is not the attempt at a warcrime a crime in itself? How did Ramsey get away with what appeared to be merely a slap on the wrist? Or does he later get tried as a war-criminal as he well should be? The movie doesn't say, and just ends with this supposed 'dilemma' hanging.
    • The way things turned out, this is correct. However, if things had turned out the other way - if it turned out the rebels still held the base, had obtained or cracked the launch codes, and were indeed about to launch their missiles - then the failure to launch a preemptive strike according to the orders in hand would have been the event that killed tens of millions (if only the rebels' targets were hit) or billions (if the U.S. retaliated against Russia). In their frame of reference, the entire world was one big Schrodinger's Cat. The Board had to determine the relative correctness of their actions according to procedure, at the time and under the circumstances they were taken, without knowing how it would turn out.
      • But the point is that Ramsey *did not* act according to procedure. His decision was made on his own initiative, with incomplete information on a protocol that required complete information to execute. He had a potential launch order, but he needed a confirmation of that launch order before he could act. Hunter pointed this out, but he decided to go ahead with the launch, under the assumption that the confirm has also been sent but his submarine had not received it because of their 'technical difficulties'. Also, as Hunter pointed out, there were other nuke-armed submarines out there, and they could have launched their missiles at the target in the event that the launch order was positive.
        • Sorry, but the launch order had already been given - "the release of nuclear weapons has been authorized". That was the only order they needed to launch. The interrupted message was to stand down from the previously-given order. The fact that it appeared to pertain to nuclear missile launch was what convinced Hunter that they should pause the already-underway countdown, because there didn't seem to be any other reason for any further communication on that subject.
          • The nuclear launch protocol is multi-staged - and even explained to be such in the movie - of which launch authorisation is not the last stage. Hunter insists that they wait for the launch confirmation to be given. That's what Ramsey agrees to wait for near the end of the movie. Hunter and Ramsey are waiting for the launch confirmation to come through, and they have agreed to either launch or abort, depending on what the confirm says. The problem is, this is what they SHOULD have done at the very beginning of this whole gosh dang issue. However, Ramsey took it upon himself to interpret the authorisation as a confirm. He's even called out on it by the review board at the very end of the movie, but only as a technicality - for 'violation of nuclear launch protocols'. Then he's given a slap on the wrist of what amounts to attempted omnicide.
          • That's not how it looked to me. Ramsey's reaction to the incomplete message was not to say "it must mean 'launch'" but to say "it doesn't mean anything at all", and therefore we proceed as before, continue the countdown for launch already underway. But this is turning into an Edit War and I'd rather not. Perhaps if someone other than we two could step in... otherwise, perhaps an admin should punt this to a discussion page (I don't know how).

RageIncarnate
10:02:14 PM Nov 26th 2010
Note: I've cut the above discussion out of the main page and pasted it here for now. I was the opening troper, but I'm not sure who the other troper is.

About the trope: The reason for the XO relieving the Captain of his duty was because the XO is supposed to confirm the launch order, and he did not. Ramsey wanted to launch anyway, and that was not right, and the COB (Walters) even says that.

Also, AFAIK, military procedure - especially regarding high priority systems such as nuclear weaponry - requires that any new order/confirmation effectively nullifies all previous orders/confirmation. To give a rather horrible analogy, imagine turning the steering wheel of a car, only to find that the car is not responding to that order. That's why the turning of the steering wheel makes the previous position of the steering wheel redundant; the car has to move in a new direction when given a new order. The same way, the military procedures require that any new orders have to effectively cancel out any old ones. This is something that the XO wanted to confirm, to see if it was the case, but the Captain refused to do so, and was thus in the wrong about. And as the case was, it WAS a cancelation of the original orders, which just makes the Captain's not following protocol all the worse. The XO, literally, almost single handedly averted World War 3.

BTW: I apologise for the terrible, terrible analogy, but it's quick and somewhat illustrates the point.
Lost_In_Fog
07:36:46 PM Dec 2nd 2010
I'm the other person in this discussion. I hung back, hoping someone else would join in & it wouldn't be just us two, but I guess we're it. That being the case, if we're the only ones interested in debating this, maybe it's not as interesting as either of us think ...

That being said:

Maybe I'm not entirely clear on what it is you're saying. When you say, in your first reply above, "He had a potential launch order, but he needed a confirmation of that launch order before he could act.", I take that to mean that the order they received, that started the launch countdown, was only a "potential" launch order. That is incorrect. That was The Launch Order. No further order was required. Absent any other communication, they would have launched the missiles.

The controversy was introduced when they received the partial message, which was cut off during the Hot Sub-on-Sub Action sequence. Hunter insisted that they go to periscope depth to retrieve the rest of the message. Ramsey insisted that they were under attack and couldn't risk exposure, that they didn't have time, and that a "message fragment" means nothing at all, so we proceed according to the orders in hand. They did not, and could not, know at the time what the message fragment said, so the review panel had to make its judgment without regard to how things ultimately turned out.

In your last post, when you say "the XO is supposed to confirm the launch order", that means something else, and is correct. To beat the point into the ground: They were not waiting for another message - the one that was cut off - to confirm the launch order they had already received and executed, beginning the launch countdown. The Captain's order to proceed with the launch, which Hunter refused to repeat, was a part of the procedure already underway, and absent any other communication it would have been followed pro forma.

Hunter's refusal was a defiance of a direct order. It was also, as Hunter noted and the COB reluctantly agreed, his right and responsibility; the XO is required not just to parrot the Captain's orders, but to exercise his independent judgment, and if the Captain were allowed to just replace him with a more pliant subordinate, there'd be no real reason to involve the XO at all. So, the Captain's violation of procedure was *not* that he ordered the launch, but that he summarily relieved Hunter for his refusal to concur. That appears to be what you're saying in your last post, but is not what I gathered from your original post or subsequent replies.

On the other side of the equation, Hunter relieved his Captain of command and placed him under arrest - i.e., mutiny. While (as the board noted) it turned out to have been the correct move under the circumstances, seeing as it prevented nuclear holocaust, that doesn't make it a Good Thing. Mutiny is just about the most serious crime one can commit aboard ship - *especially* on a submarine cut off from communications, while under enemy fire, while (as far as they could know) enemy nukes are fixing to launch. They still hang you for that. If we're relying on the willingness of junior officers to engage in mutiny to avert omnicide, there's something fundamentally wrong with how we're doing things. These are the issues that the admiral referred to, that transcended what they needed to deal with in this individual case.

The point of my original objection was that, while Ramsey and Hunter were at loggerheads, it was just as possible that Ramsey could have been right - the cut-off message could have been fake (iirc, they didn't get the code to confirm its authenticity), or it could have said something other than what it turned out saying. The panel needed to make its judgment on the case of Ramsey vs. Hunter *without regard* to how it turned out in the end, based only on the information available to them at the time.

Ultimately, to me anyway, the Aesop of the movie is what Hunter said at the very beginning - in the nuclear age, the true enemy is war itself. Since one wrong decision can potentially wreck all of humanity, and since people are known to occasionally make wrong decisions - maybe the notion that nuclear weapons keep us safe is fundamentally flawed.
RageIncarnate
09:09:05 AM Dec 5th 2010
edited by RageIncarnate
The way I saw it, there were three central flaws in Captain Ramsey's conduct.

The first is refusing to attempt to retrieve a lost Emergency Action Message. From my understanding of military protocol, when a new order is given, that order nullifies all previous orders. Hence, by not attempting to return to radio depth and find out what the message they lost was, they were potentially working on redundant orders. Thus, my explanation that they had authorisation, but not confirmation: they had been informed that they should launch, but they did not know if the follow up order was confirming that or not. Of course, as rightly pointed out, that EAM could have been fake. However, considering the ramifications of the use of nuclear weapons, the worth of the EAM was just that much more, and so Ramsey should have at least taken measures to check out what was going on. What would he have lost if he had checked? Time? They could have proceeded with the launch startup while rising to radio depth. Stealth? The fallacies of Hot Sub-on-Sub Action aside, a quick rise would have not instantly revealed their position. From any perspective, Hunter was right to call Ramsey out on the fact that he did blatantly disregarded potential launch orders.

Second, Hunter had the full authority to have Ramsey arrested. There is such a thing as a lawful mutiny, and it occurs when a senior officer is not operating according to protocol, as it was in this case. So, Hunter was NOT in the wrong. I would also believe that there are examples of such action being taken in different militaries across the world - officers being lawfully relieved of their command due to inappropriate behaviour.

Third, Ramsey's desire to 'retake' the ship was completely unfounded, both in logic and in military protocol. If he had left the situation alone, he would have probably been in more sympathetic light during the investigation. Also, after his arrest, there was nothing he could have done about the situation above ground - whether the terrorists had launched their nukes or not, the Alabama could not carry out a pre-emptive strike any longer, and so any launch on their part would have been retaliation, which AFAIK is strictly against protocol. Instead he committed an unlawful mutiny, and then proceeded with the now-senseless launch. It's almost as if he just wanted to launch the nukes, for the lulz of it.

IMHO: the problem with the movie is that since they were trying to reinforce the very same aesop that you mentioned - "in the nuclear age, the true enemy is war itself" - they failed to encompass the fact that great horrors have already been committed with conventional weaponry, and so there exist protocols to safeguard against atrocities, nuclear or otherwise. Hunter followed those protocols, Ramsey did not. But they want to pretend that there was some wrongdoing on Hunter's part and some rightdoing by Ramsey, when there was clearly not any of either. In real life Hunter could have been given a medal and Ramsey could be accused of an attempted warcrime by negligence. But in reel life, this is not the case...
kernedge
11:04:53 PM Jan 1st 2011
This is a third troper replying to the discussion.

I don't really think there's an Aesop in this film, in fact, the very most important point is the clash of differing ideologies, both with merits and flaws. This is clear from the first ten minutes of the movie, during the conversation at the officers' mess scene. That conversation builds the character and philosophies of both Hunter and Ramsey, to which they rigidly adhere until the end of the main conflict.

Specifically, in that discussion, Ramsey claims (not literally stating anything, but his opinion comes across as clear as water) that the soldier most likely to win the war is the one most likely to part company with the politicians and ignore everything except for the destruction of his enemies. And that with such a simple mindset, all he needs is a checklist, a target, and a button to push - politicians tell him when. That's exactly what he does. From the moment the rebels intend to attack, and the preemptive strike was ordered, he considered themselves to be at war, and that nothing could revert that. Once he was told to pull the trigger, he had everything he needed to fulfill his mission (keep your priorities straight, your mission and your men).

Hunter, on the other hand, considered that the true enemy was war itself. This, however, is Hunter's opinion, and not necessarily the writers'. He would then do anything in his power to fight the true enemy and avoid nuclear war, even if it meant delaying a legit launch order (again, that particular conversation in the mess has a brilliant commentary on this: this doesn't mean that Hunter is indecisive, just... complicated - which would be the words that the simple minded Ramsey would use to describe the aberrant behaviour of fighting a very intangible enemy).

Now both men commit mistakes. Hunter did follow protocol, but following protocol does not mean that his actions were correct. Ramsey thought that the [[ptitleeym5vv2h protocol was expendable]] if it meant destroying the enemy as quickly as possible, and in the event the rebels had not surrendered, his actions would have ultimately been proven right. That's the dilemma that's mentioned by the board at the end: how could they account for a situation where there is no one who is clearly right, and where either attitude could be responsible for salvation or utter destruction?

By the end of the movie, Ramsey does not change the way he thinks, but admits his inadequacy in these times, that being why he retired and recommended Hunter for command. The dilemma, however, does not simply go away. That was just the resolution of the primary plot (also hinted by Cob: sooner or later, one of them would have to bend). Now the point of this resolution is: there was no third option. One of them would be right, and the other wrong, and the wrong one getting his way would bring about catastrophic consequences.
Lost_In_Fog
01:04:14 PM Feb 24th 2011
Thank you kernedge for joining the discussion.

I still suspect that, like I said above, the Aesop of the movie is what Hunter said at the very beginning - in the nuclear age, the true enemy is war itself. Since one wrong decision can potentially wreck all of humanity, and since people are known to occasionally make wrong decisions - maybe the notion that nuclear weapons keep us safe is fundamentally flawed. But maybe that's because I was already thinking that.
tommythegun
10:01:41 PM Jul 10th 2011
Jumping in here. First: no, the initial order to launch did not require any "confirmation." Captain Ramsey read the order verbatim when he and Commander Hunter were first arguing in the control room, which included "immediate fire ten Trident missile sorties." They had a valid order in hand. Ramsey may have been factually incorrect about the validity of the order and dead wrong in refusing to check the follow-on order or trying to replace Hunter, but they believed that they were operating under time pressure, that the Russian missiles were about an hour from being ready for launch (lucky that they were old liquid-fueled missiles!).

Keep in mind also, extending the "Schroedinger's" analogy a bit here beyond just being in the sub and pretend that we as the audience would be seeing the findings of that board presented as if we were watching it and not, as the movie doesn't show, their actual deliberations. The board of inquiry at the end with the Jason Robards Admiral isn't there to deliver some sort of an "Aesop"... Consider what a real military board of inquiry would be concerned with under these circumstances. The big concern, more than just going "ZOMG! He almost started WWIII!" would be less what happened THAT time than what would happen the NEXT time a sub captain gets put in that position. Here, the Admiral gives the game away, saying what their main concern was was the failure of their carefully-constructed system for controlling nuclear weapons caused by the fact that the two senior officers couldn't resolve their differences and preserve the chain of command. THAT's what both Hunter and Ramsey were guilty of, irrespective of the factual outcome, and why they were both right and also both wrong (this is a nod to Ramsey's point during the aborted missile drill earlier in the movie about the need to maintain the appearance of a unified chain of command).

Secondly, realistically, the other BIG thing a government investigation like that is going to be concerned with, and why it really shouldn't be taken as an Aesop... Political butt-covering. That's why the Admiral at the end gives an anodyne pronouncement about both of their actions being in keeping with the "highest traditions of the Navy" or whatever. Mutinies about nuclear-launch platforms tend to frighten people, like the press or members of Congress. And NOBODY in senior positions in government service ever really gets ridden out on a rail, which is why Ramsey's "request for early retirement" was accepted and Hunter was sent along to his next assignment without delay: the alternative could have been a messy public investigation with a lot of questions nobody would want to answer.
RageIncarnate
03:40:38 PM Jul 26th 2011
Well, damn, I wish this site has some sort of notification system so that I could keep track of discussions.

Nevertheless...

Having just rewatched the movie for the nth time (it's such a great movie), there are still two points which I can see that seem to completely invalidate Captain Ramsey's position.

The first is the idea of redundancy, which is due to the other submarines out there that could have taken up the charge of launching missile, IF and ONLY IF the launch was required at all. Ramsey simply dismisses this. Now, while the dismissal can be argued to be somewhat plausible, the real question is how probable it is that the ENTIRE US NUCLEAR SUBMARINE FLEET, save the vessel in question, was in some way, shape, or form rendered incapable of carrying out orders.

The second point is a more humanistic viewpoint - and perhaps not suited for a military context. Anyhow: suppose Ramsey's vessel was, somehow, the only operational nuclear submarine available. And that the antagonists had in fact launched their nukes at the US. And that great loss of life was about to occur. How would launching nukes at the antagonists solve anything? And these aren't conventional weapons that we're talking about - they're nuclear weapons, so there's a high probability of collateral damage, not to mention irradiation, etc. Would the counter-attack have stopped more nukes being launched? Unlikely - as Hunter pointed out, it would simply lead to more launches - perhaps launching their entire arsenal - before they got hit. And where would that leave everyone?

In that sense, I would strongly reckon that Hunter was far, far more in the right than Ramsey. @kernedge saying "in the event the rebels had not surrendered, his actions would have ultimately been proven right", I completely disagree. It is not known whether his actions would have led to preventing the launch by the rebels, or just causing massive additional damage. And Ramsey does not even want to acknowledge that possibility.

Following orders is never a justification for the damage and destruction that can be caused by nuclear weapons. It is my opinion that Ramsey's relentless desire to (a) subvert protocol and (b) commit what could have amounted to a genocidal war crime in the name of 'following orders' is utterly unforgiveable. And I believe that he should have been given more than just a slap on the wrist, for performing actions that could have caused a nuclear holocaust.
tarzan
07:47:54 PM Jul 30th 2011
Going too in-depth into American nuclear procedures is classified, so no one here can really continue these points to their final conclusions, but I'd like to put in my two cents.

First of all, the order for the missile launch was incredibly stupid, froma practical point of view. What is the oprative phrase of the order? "Immediately launch". They are not given a launch window, or any kind of delay mechanism to the order. No, they are ordered to immediately launch, will all possible dispatch. There isn't any waiting around, gentlemen.

Once that order is given, there is no recall for submarine-based nuclear missiles. They're gone. Had Ramsey been in position for launch, then, they would have been gone. Instead it is simple luck that Alabama was not able to comply with the order.

This speaks volumes about the situation going on in the outside world: A President, willing to authorize immediate strike on a whim and then recall it? What the hell, Mr. President? Didn't they tell you it isn't coming back? Launch authorization, especially to a submarine, should never, ever, EVER be given unless the President fully intends to destroy the ordered target given by the LAO/MAO no matter what develops.

To the tribunal, their problem isn't so much officers who are in a catch-22 over those orders so much as a President with an itchy trigger finger.

Secondly, the missiles were stated as being targeted counterforce. The Ohio-class submarine can carry up to 24 Trident II missiles, eaach of which, if fully MIRV'd up, can carry 8 250kt nuclear warheads. However, we're never told what kind of warheads have been loaded. At any rate, the circular error on these missiles is so small that they can be used to target, for example, individual missile silos. This launch should not equate to nuclear war, but if the President had not briefed the Russians on his intent to use nuclear weapons, then whether the base was in rebel hands or not the mere launch of the weapons would have triggered nuclear exchange.

Where does the blame fall again? On the President!

If the President had informed the Russians, however, they would probably know that this was an incorrect lauch, or for that matter would have stood off to prevent their own troops being hurt in the first place. They would have been mad as hell, but they would NOT have launched an all-out strike.

Captain Ramsey's response, at least in my opinion, is the most correct. What makes this a moot point and a broken Aesop is that the movie works so hard to make him an asshole that you can't emotionally want to agree with him— about anything!
FlyingSquirrel
09:37:30 PM Aug 2nd 2011
Regarding the issue of "retaliation," as I understood it, the Russian missiles could not have been launched at any point during the events on board the ship seen in the movie. Rather, there was a limited period of time after which the missiles would have been launch-ready, and the Alabama was ordered to destroy the Russian missiles with a preemptive nuclear strike. Ramsey's intent in trying to retake the ship was to carry out the preemptive strike, not to retaliate against the Russian dissidents, who could not have launched the missiles yet anyway.

I am not on Ramsey's side at all in this debate, incidentally, just pointing out that the issue wasn't one of retaliation.
Skarecrow
08:23:40 AM Aug 19th 2011
edited by Skarecrow
New troper jumping in here.

I've seen this movie at least a dozen times, it is one of my favorites of all time because of it has no clear right and wrong. It is one of the ultimate shades-of-gray movies, where the message you take from it depends on your own personal inclinations, beliefs and upbringing.

I always took from it the idea that Ramsey was correctly and honestly following military policy and direction up to but not including the point at which he illegally tries to replace Hunter. All decisions he made up until that point sound like they were quoted directly out of a handbook. I can't fault him for following procedure, only (as tarzan says) the president for improperly initiating the procedures.

We the audience are, for the most part, probably not experienced in navy nuclear procedure, and we just don't want to see the world destroyed. Because of this, we are naturally inclined to align with Hunter's way of thinking, but that does not mean he was "right" or "correct", only that we agree with the outcome that his actions produced. From a military procedure and chain-of-command point, he was quite possibly wrong in choosing not to repeat the captain's order to fire. It is indeed the XO's responsibility to confirm proper procedure had been followed, or else (as pointed out) why even bother having the XO unless to make the crew feel better. However, lacking any evidence to the contrary, I assume that proper procedure was in fact followed up to that point. That being the point at which the whole dueling philosophies plot starts full time.

As stated above, I always assumed that given his personality display, his own quotes such as "what did you think, I was some crazy old man yelling 'ye-haw'?", and his long distinguished service career, Ramsay was following established navy procedure when he said the statements we take to be hand-waves of plot holes such as "I must assume that all our redundancy may have been destroyed by other Akula subs". If I'm correct, it was Hunter who made the first incorrect decision (in the context of naval procedure) by refusing to confirm the original verified launch order after the message fragment arrived. If, and only if, confirmation of incoming messages is a higher priority than verified launch orders, at the expense of possible safety of the boat, can Hunter's refusal to verify launch orders be considered correct action. Given the situation has gone to 11, shit-has-hit-the-fan, nature required to order launch of nuclear weapons, I have to believe that no other situations can take higher priority, and thus Hunter was incorrect (although, as we all know, his "incorrect" actions saved us all).

I submit that therefore the second main culprit after the trigger-happy president is indeed the procedure itself, which I took as the point of the movie, and especially the ending. That is, humans are flawed, we make procedures that are flawed, and what happens when our best instincts tell us that that procedure is wrong? What do we do then, and what are the consequences?

Thus, we get a very different Aesop depending on if we're concerned with whether the most important goal is preventing nuclear holocaust at all cost, or whether the most important goal is properly maintaining procedure and chain-of-command regarding the release of nuclear weapons in order to prevent confusion and inaction in time-sensitive situations that could, again, result in nuclear holocaust. Neither is an unworthy goal.
Editus
09:55:20 AM Sep 15th 2011
edited by Editus
Skarecrow, as is pointed out by Hunter during the argument in the control room the XO is an equal part of the launch procedure to the Captain; they form two halves of the two-man procedure - see also, the President needs validation from a second man, usually Sec Def, within the National Command Authority, to order an MAO/LAO, and the fact that both Zimmer and Westergard are needed to open the authenticator strongbox/read out the two halves of their code.

The whole point is that a rogue Captain (not that I'm saying Ramsey is!) could not bring the ship to launch condition and then fire at John Q. Russian without having another properly constituted authority backing him up and basically saying "The skipper's not mad, his wife hasn't just left him, this is a valid order". If that authority (the XO) believes in good faith that the order should not be given, it is his role in the chain of command to prevent the launch. Analogy: over here in Blighty, the BBC did a very good documentary called The Human Button describing nuclear launch protocols; the presenter asked the Chief of the Defence Staff (equivalent to Chairman of the Joint Chiefs) what would happen if the Prime Minister went mad and tried to launch our Tridents, the response was "if the PM was indeed insane, we would take steps to make sure it [National Fire Control Message] was not sent".

The thing that makes Ramsey's counter-mutiny a little silly is that at the point the Akula has been knocked out, there are still around 30 minutes on the clock before the Russians have launch capability. Based on the earlier WSRT, which is shown in real-time, we have established that the time taken to receive, authenticate and implement an EAM is:

- ~4 minutes for receipt, hands to BSM and authentication

- plus 14 minutes to bring the missiles to 1SQ (getting to launch depth etc happens in parallel

- plus a generous estimate of two minutes' flight time to target (they were 300 miles from the target; the United Kingdom during the Cold War had an expected response time of four minutes to a Soviet launch, and that was over ranges of much more than 300 miles).

So that leaves the Alabama with a full ten minutes to come to 78ft (which is possible, after Ramsey retakes the boat, he orders Docherty to come "slow and silent to launch depth" and is shown to achieve launch depth shortly afterwards (based on the recurring Russians Will Have Launch Capability In X Minutes announcements) and make necessary repairs. OK, a bit tight you might say BUT the 14 minutes have already largely elapsed, and of course prepping the Trident missiles for launch, acquiring a target and so forth can take place in parallel with the rise to launch depth, meaning that in fact they might have 25 minutes to effect radio repairs. The could trivially calculate the point of no return (3 minutes before Russians can launch) and launch their birds at that time. This would also reduce the chance of a loyalist Russian counterattack, as the US could legitimately claim that they waited til the last possible second before launching their missiles.
StevieC
08:15:34 AM Apr 17th 2012
edited by StevieC
To expand on the above point of no recalling a nuclear ballistic missile launch from a submarine, it should be clarified. There is no recalling a ballistic missile launch, Full Stop. It does not matter what type of warhead the missile carries, or where it's launched from. Once it's launched, there is no recalling it. That is one significant reason that the B-52 is still in service. An airplane-deployed bomb or cruise missile remains the only nuclear weapon delivery platform that can be recalled after the strike is ordered. Unlike ballistic missiles, if you find out 30 minutes after takeoff that the cassus belli is invalid, the B-52 can still respond to the order "Abort! Abort! Abort!"
TheStarshipMaxima
08:14:47 AM Jun 14th 2012
Late to the game but...I too have watched Crimson Tide n times because it's just that awesome.

One reason is because while Captain Ramsey is clearly in the wrong (Cap, we think we're getting a message from our supreme commanders. Eh, whatever. Lol, what?), the movie actually succeeds in making him appear sympathetic.

I don't see a crazy General Ripper like in Dr. Strangelove. I see a guy who just wants to do his job and keep the country safe.

We root against him, and we root for Hunter, but I like that the movie asks, 'if you were in charge of defending the country, would your idealism be sufficient to trump the doubts?'
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