Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Are All Modern Submariners Really Pampered Wimps? Court To Decide

(Adapted in brief from original Molten Eagle posting, because Bubblehead posted earlier)

Regarding the UK court martial of former HMS Talent's commanding officer, here are a few tidbits Bubblehead does not mention in his excellent, as usual, coverage to date:

The influence of civilian lawyers on the military is growing:
At a pre-trial hearing, a decision had been made to hold the court martial in camera (in private chambers) because the submarine was engaged in an operation concerning national security.
However, after an application by Lucy Moormana lawyer acting on behalf of The Times — emphasising the importance of avoiding secret courts, Judge John Bayliss, the civilian judge advocate in charge of the trial, agreed to hold as much of the court martial as possible in open session.

One effect of the public trial:
Little emerged from the opening statement to indicate why the incidents were allegedly taking place. However, Commander Towler referred to several occasions when HMS Talent had to return to port to have defects resolved.

Implications for eventual female submarine service are prominent in the proxy application of the following quotes (the court was told that these allegations had taken place between February 1998 and July 1999, although they only came to light in 2003) :
"Lieutenant Ryan Ramsey, was so frightened that he used to vomit before going on watch. "

"...his tirades made a lieutenant ill and reduced him to tears, a court martial heard yesterday. "

"...Lieutenant Ryan Ramsey, who claims the constant 'tirades' made him physically sick when he had to begin his shift and led to his becoming withdrawn and losing weight. "

And finally, a contrast from early American naval history (just twenty years before the submarine Hunley):

Under command of Captain Alexander Slidell Mackenzie, the brig USS Somers sailed for St. Thomas, Danish West Indies, on November 12. Two weeks later, Midshipman Philip Spencer (son of the US Secretary of War), together with the boatswain's mate and another seaman, were placed under arrest for plotting a mutiny to takeover the ship and convert it into a piratical vessel.

Investigation by Mackenzie and his officers revealed that Spencer intended to seize the ship and kill the officers and any who sided with them. For their crime, they were hanged at the yardarm, while still at sea, on December 1, 1842. The Somers Lithograph, published circa 1843, shows the 3 mutineers hanging under the US flag. Although later court-martialed, Mackenzie was fully acquitted of charges of illegal punishment, oppression, and murder despite the position of Spencer's father. More here.


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