The Silent Deep
I approached the sinister-looking vessel with my usual trepidation, but mixed with amazement and excitement. Sinister. The only word I have ever known that could describe that sleek, black, messenger of death. That stealthy, versatile and lethal boat. A boat without a keel. Not a ship. And at over one and a half times the length of a football pitch and more than twice as high as a London bus, this Trafalgar-class vessel is both sinister and enormous.
Silent, but deadly. And a submarine never sleeps.
The hunter-attack Trafalgar-class submarine is capable of diving to over 300 metres and can move at more than 20 knots at depth. With ordnance of Spearfish torpedoes and the larger Tomahawk land-attack missiles with a range of over a 1000 miles there are few places on Earth beyond the reach of this formidable war machine.
After the almost mysterious entry into the windowless and door less entity, narrow passageways and low ceilings are encountered where great care must be exercised. It is easy to knock into any one of the numerous valves and pipes and other ancillary pieces of machinery everywhere. All locked-down and unmoveable. Until 'dive the submarine' takes the boat to depth, it would rock and sway in any surface turbulence. After slipping under the water, there is no pitching or rolling and any assessment of depth without reference to a depth gauge is impossible. 'Raise search' will lift the boat's eye to the outside surface world, but under water a periscope is blind.
The nuclear reactor sits in a heavily shielded sealed, lead-lined compartment that is no bigger than a domestic wheelie-bin. Surrounded by pipe work with a thick-glass viewing window its purpose is to just generate heat to convert water into the steam that feeds the main engines for propulsion and the turbo-generators to produce electricity.
Simply to heat water.
But incredibly potent.
The reactor uses a collection of uranium-238 fuel elements and generates enough power to supply a town. A town crewed by an incredibly close-knit team of one hundred and twenty five submariners. A team that is unique. A team of individuals acting absolutely together as one. Mutual respect and belief in each other formulates a trust that exists nowhere else.
“Welcome on board, Captain.”
© Louis Brothnias (2012)