Nuclear subs. Sea lions. Massive bags of money.

By Lucien Crowder, July 19, 2018

If you're a "hostile diver" in the vicinity of a nuclear missile submarine, expect to encounter one of these guys. Or gals. Who can tell.

Three to five years ago, a lot of articles were published about scandalously poor morale among missileers at US intercontinental ballistic missile bases. But what about the crews on ballistic missile submarines? If things are weird at Minot and Malmstrom, aren’t they weirder under water?

Not in the telling of Sydney J. Freedberg, Jr. of Breaking Defense, who tours a nuclear sub in port, interviews sailors and brass, and shares some of what he learns:

  • Navy regulations allow submarine crews to eat canned asparagus every day
  • Crew members receive less radiation than ordinary people because they spend so little time in the sun
  • When subs are in port, “trained dolphins and sea lions [are] on watch for hostile divers”

That’s good stuff. But for every sea lion Freedberg gives us, he dishes out several paragraphs of submarine-crew hagiography or unreflective cheerleading for massive spending on a modernized nuclear arsenal. Look, it’s an old story—when the Pentagon wants more money, it seeks press coverage for patriotic but neglected service members who, despite the shocking disrepair of their equipment, bravely struggle to defend their nation. Just keep in mind what the Pentagon wants: $1.2 trillion of public money for a 30-year program of nuclear modernization. Are taxpayers to say yes because sea lions are kind of cute and canned asparagus sounds nasty?


Publication Name: Breaking Defense
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Don Ringwood Recent comment authors
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Don Ringwood

Not to mention the fact the Navy pays shit to its sailors to put their life on the line. In the words of a former Navy wife, “it’s legal slavery.”