How bizarre can a news item be? It’s hard to believe that
Spain spent huge
amounts of money on a new submarine that won’t float, but the Associated Press
and other sources say it’s true.
Spanish engineers made a miscalculation in the design; it appears that way back in the early planning stages someone put a decimal point in the wrong place. As a result, the first of a new class of diesel-powered subs is 70 tons overweight. Officials fear if it goes to sea it will be able to dive but won’t be able to resurface.
To fix things, the Spanish Defense Ministry will pay our Electric Boat Company $14 million for a three-year study to determine how to reconfigure the submarine to make it useful.
Spain already has
|It dives, but doesn't surface!|
If it ever sails,
Spain’s modern submarine armada
will include four 233-foot-long boats. Each will carry a crew of 32, eight
special forces personnel, and advanced weapons systems for surface and
When I finished guffawing about how a single misguided decimal point could create such havoc, I nearly cried thinking about this fiasco on another level.
one of Europe’s weakest economies;
unemployment stands near 25 percent. The banking system required huge bailouts
to stay afloat, and substantial cuts in government pensions and social programs
have gone into effect or are on the horizon. How could the Spanish government
justify tossing big bucks into a new underwater adventure?
Exactly which foreign powers are threatening
Spain? None come to mind. Internal conflicts,
however, are another matter. In the the Basque
population occasionally launches various forms of violence against Spaniards
they view as occupiers of their ancestral lands. To the east of the Basques, all of the Catalonia region is gearing up for a referendum next year on
whether to secede from Pyrenees
The Catalans think they are paying much more to the central government in
taxes than they get back in services. Maybe the S-80 program is a factor; the
new subs are being built in Cartagena, not Barcelona.
If the Basques and Catalans have developed navies to back their demands, it would be yet another bizarre news story. Both groups are fairly peaceful at the moment, so naval warfare involving them probably is not even a remote possibility.
We might wonder, then, why a cash-strapped Spanish government has blown $2.9 billion on four submarines whose only apparent reason for existence is to train for the day that some unknown enemy might attack
from the sea.
a land without serious external enemies, can’t curtail wasteful military
weapons spending in the face of financial pressure from all sides, can we ever expect
legislators to rein in the unnecessary weapons spending sponsored by our
powerful military-industrial complex?