virtual earth reveals one of the navy's most secret secrets
Thanks to Bing, one of the US Navy's most closely guarded secrets has been revealed. I learned of this major security SNAFU from "Focus on Military," a little electronic newsletter I subscribe to which is published by techonline. In short, Microsoft's mapping software clearly displays the propeller of an Ohio class submarine in dry dock in Bangor, WA. (Incidentally, Bangor Naval Submarine Base stores 1700 Trident missiles--each with multiple warheads--making it the 3rd largest collection of nuclear weapons in the US.)
Why should a picture of a propeller be such a secret? Well, the shape of the blades and placement angle are what make the submarine so quiet and therefore difficult to detect. The Navy has been at great pains to classify submarine propulsion systems since the Navy's first submarine. On the bright side, perhaps wind power generators will benefit from the design.
The exposure of the Ohio's propeller reminded me of my experience as Chief Game Designer for Zombie Studios' Spearhead, an M1A2 Main Battle Tank simulator. In a continuing drive towards realism, we took an audio engineer out to the Yakima Training Center Firing range to record all the sounds associated with a tank. We recorded everything from radio chatter, to the 7.62 loader's LMG, to the commander's .50 cal, to the sound of the engine revving up (a jet engine) to the firing of the main gun (really LOUD--can't imagine what it's like on the receiving end). The Army was quite generous in allowing us to photograph everything--well, everything but one thing. We were not allowed to photograph the main hatch at an angle that would allow someone to determine the thickness of the armor--this was highly classified.