by RAY FLEMING
THE picture of the First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Jonathan Band GCB ADC, with his head in his hands at a Ministry of Defence press conference said all any one needed to know about the humiliation that must be felt by both the British and French Navies after two of their nuclear submarines made unplanned contact in the depths of the Atlantic ocean. In the Independent yesterday Admiral Sir Sandy Woodward, commander of the South Atlantic Task Group in the Falklands War and former Deputy Chief of the Defence Staff, said that the chances of two ballistic submarines running into each other in the middle of the Atlantic were “on a par with winning the lottery four times in a month.” Perhaps the captains of the two submarines should quickly buy lottery tickets in their respective countries to see whether their luck is holding out. The explanation offered by the Ministry of Defence is that this type of submarine is designed for stealth and to avoid detection by any other ship, aircraft or surveillance system. Judged by that objective the two submarines clearly functioned perfectly but it cannot only by ignorant landlubbers who will wonder why sonar technology - claimed to be so sophisticated that it can recognise a small fish swimming by - failed to recognise a 150m. 16'000 tonnes vessel that had crept up alongside. Admiral Band's assurance that the nuclear submarines remained safe with their capability unaffected did not somehow seem to be enough.