First a caution before reading this post: Do you remember what Alfred Einstein said about Mahatma Gandhi? You do! Well, nevertheless I am refreshing your memory; he said, “Coming generations will scarcely believe that such a man of flesh and blood ever walked the earth.” It was the same with CN in the Navy. He was a unique person. He was thinking out of box even before they had devised boxes.
The problem was that he was a TASO (Torpedo Anti-Submarine Officer) and often applied TAS solutions to anti-ship and anti-air problems too. In this aspect, he never grew out-of-the-anti-submarine ‘box’ in which the Navy had placed him as a young Lieutenant.
During those days the Navy had suddenly woken up to the dangers of anti-ship missiles launched by other ships or aircraft. Anti-Missile Defence was such a buzzword that anyone who wanted to be seen as avanguard in his thinking talked about jamming the incoming missiles, chaff and volley of gun shots to divert it from the course.
Suddenly, the TAS guys, who erstwhile ruled the roost in the Navy, found themselves taking the back seats. Not CN though. He felt that TAS would always be relevant.
So, in order to join the AMD debate, he came up with a ‘paper’ that embarked on the concept of boom barriers around the ship on collapsible struts. The idea, as painstakingly explained by him was that if such boom barriers could work against submarines and torpedoes (in harbour), surely these would work against missiles too against ships at sea. The barrier would be in the form of a metal net that would make an umbrella around the ship. It would trap the incoming missile like fish getting caught in the net and the ship would be safe. Q.E.D.
Hare-brained? Well, with the name he had made in the TAS world, this ‘paper’ went all the way up to the Chief of the Naval Staff who promptly called me and said, “Lieutenant Commander Ravi; I consulted an astrologer who told me that after you retire from the Navy, you would start a group on Humour in Uniform. Will you please ensure that you tell about this in that group to bring some cheer in the lives of its members? After all, why should I be the only person who should die laughing?”
“Aye, Aye, Sir” I told him.
So here you are, ladies and gents. As for me, orders are orders; can’t break the promise I made to the CNS.
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