Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Call Me Steely Blue

[Crossposted from Unconsidered Trifles]

What's next, yellow?
Submarines are being given a makeover by the Royal Navy and repainted blue.
Navy bosses have decided to replace the traditional black to make the fleet harder to spot. The first submarine to get a facelift, HMS Torbay, has already been restyled in blue and the rest of the fleet should will soon follow.
Actually, I have the wrong song in mind! Given that the new hue is called "Steely Blue" (yes, I'm aware of the internal rhyme of that last line) perhaps we need a hit by the jazz rock band Steely Dan ....hmmm, "Deacon Blues" comes to mind!

I joke, but actually, I think this is seriously a thoughtful move--not some defense contractor scam. It is reported that:
Terry Goodship, 71, of Gosport, chairman of the Submariners' International Association , said the move was unsurprising. He said: 'All submarines in the Med used to be blue. 'Blue is a good colour and is hard to spot. It is only in the very dark waters that we need to have the submarines painted black.' The end of the Cold War means British subs spend less time in the Atlantic. More time in the hotter areas of the world, such as the Middle East and Indian Ocean, means the fleet needs to adapt to brighter waters.
And in fact The Sun reports that:
Navy boffins picked the colour after exhaustive trials and lab tests. They also discovered black was the WORST low-key colour to deceive an enemy.

Lieutenant Commander Steve White, in charge of the change, said: "This should make subs twice as hard to spot.

"“It may not look as macho as dark black, but when sailors realise what it does they'’ll love it."

As unmanly as it might strike us at first, perhaps we submariners--known for our innovativeness--need to take a page from our USMC bastard step children brethren and "Adapt. Overcome."

Oh, and apparently, there is still testing to be done "in the field" (as it were):

HMS Torbay has left Devonport, Plymouth, on a secret six-month mission during which her new colour will undergo visual tests from the air, land and sea.

And Admirals have challenged holidaying Sun readers to spot the hunter-killer sub anywhere in the world and then tell them if they think the colour works.

Your thoughts?


At 7:11 AM, Blogger WillyShake said...

oh...and bonus points to anyone who knows where Steely Dan got their name--no cheating/Googling!

At 12:14 PM, Blogger Vigilis said...

With both their fashion consciousness and primacy in science (historically) one would think the french would have come up with this. Let me register serious doubts about the effectiveness of this wavelength over black as a aubmarine camouflage. Perhaps in the North Atlantic at depths up to 125 feet it does offer some advantages. At normal depths, why would it matter?

Then consider satellite detection of submarines. Which has higher reflectivity to short wavelengths -blue or black?

Perhaps an expert would care to comment.

At 2:32 PM, Blogger WillyShake said...

eeeeenteresting, Vigilis. You raise a good question, which is: "Less visible to whom exactly?"

Inquiring minds...

At 4:59 PM, Blogger jeff said...

I think the comment about the Med is a telling one - pretty shallow place, the Med.

Especially if you are trying to put some SAS or SBS blokes ashore.

At 4:42 AM, Blogger Rob said...

Being an engineering type, I can't say how it would be in regards to detectiblity. However, as my preferred color is blue, I'd say it would look pretty cool once the initial strangeness wore off. Would it show up the dings/scrapes/other stuff that black does, though? Thinking of my fellow blueshirts who would have to maintain it with an "image conscious" COB... :)

At 4:57 AM, Blogger zora65 said...

I believe the name "Steely Dan" is a reference to a marital aid!

At 7:50 AM, Blogger Lubber's Line said...

Why do I keep thinking of the 1959 movie Operation Petticoat?

At 9:22 AM, Blogger WillyShake said...

LOL. Great comments, shipmates! ...and Zora, you're correct, but can you be more specific? Hint: I'm thinking of a famous work of 20th-century fiction!

At 1:37 AM, Blogger jeffox said...

I think u mean Bill Burrough's "Naked Lunch". But I could be reeling in the years. :)

As for the color change, it seems like total nonsense at first glance, but I think the point of operations in the med is a good one. Maybe USN should look at this too, eh?

After all, think 'bout this: Big & blue & blows up you. My 2c


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