Wednesday, September 05, 2007

What, Me Worry?

Nuclear warheads mistakenly flown on B-52

A B-52 bomber mistakenly loaded with at least five nuclear warheads flew from Minot Air Force Base, N.D, to Barksdale Air Force Base, La., on Aug. 30, resulting in an Air Force-wide investigation, according to three officers who asked not to be identified because they were not authorized to discuss the incident.

Excuse me for my lack of panic at every announcement of a new "terror threat", I figure my own government's incompetence will kill me long before Osama & Friends make it to my desert hideout.

About a year ago I participated in a survey about Nevadans' attitudes towards the Yucca Mountain Project. One question was how concerned was I about the possibility of terrorism at Yucca Mountain. My answer was not at all because I was confident that due to our own incompetence we'd be certain to have a major accident during transport of all this lovely nuclear waste. Probably smack in the middle of a Denver freeway. During rush hour.

The lady pollster laughed. I wonder if she's laughing now.


TomCat said...

Great minds, Mama! :-)

This is what we get when the ChickenHawk-in-Chief fires the Generals too competent to go along with his war plans.

Anonymous said...

The crews involved with the mistaken load at the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot have been temporarily decertified from performing their duties involving munitions pending corrective actions or additional training, Thomas said.

decertified - bullshit term.

Woozie said...

Well the weapons would have to be armed in order for them to go off. I don't know the specifics, but I imagine the procedure is difficult to do by accident, considering that they won't be needed at a moment's notice (if ever), and they're really old-they might still have to be armed in-flight like in 1945.

Also, unarmed nuclear weapons have fallen out of planes before and not detonated, and they rarely leak radioactive material. (Source)

I appreciate knowing, but the media's really blowing this way out of proportion, as usual.

Not Your Mama said...

No, they probably would not have leaked or detonated by any accident but I don't think it's blown out of proportion either. So what if this had not been an accident?

Thing is how do you misplace a nuclear warhead? Or 6 of them? Your housekeys maybe but not nuclear warheads (or small children in hot cars for that matter). Does not meet criteria for "competence".

I think it definitely points up some gaping craters in security procedures and in some peoples' heads.

Woozie said...

They were left on the missiles by accident, I don't think that counts as misplacing them, which implies losing them. (Although Strategic Air Command lost something like 4 nuclear weapons during its history).

RJ Adams said...

If al Qaeda really wanted to get its hands on nuclear weapons - just how difficult would it be? Judging by this fiasco, very easy.

Omnipotent Poobah said...

Woozie has a point. Having been in the Air Force and in similar situations myself, it's not as difficult to overlook intact missiles mounted on pylons (as these were) as it might seem.

The crews have checklists to follow and if done properly, they'll find mistakes like this before they get through. But people make mistakes. A moment's inattention to the checklist, distraction at the wrong time, paperwork not processed properly, any of those things can cause a relatively routine (as much as we'd like that not to be the case) issue. That's why numerous redundancies are built in.

I expect the low-ranking airmen doing this task will be decertified, possibly face some disciplinary action, and may be retrained.

In other words, guano happens, even with nooks.

Not Your Mama said...

Yes, one of my own offspring was in one of these very jobs which is why I know there are procedures/redundancies/etc and also why I know they were not followed at more than one level.

Sorry, but it does bother me. When our own airforce personnel cannot follow procedure in something like this what makes anyone think they follow protocols in any other area?

My former employment had layers of security and procedures to follow and I'm willing to swear that when an incident like this comes to light it is not an isolated incident but more likely the culmination of a longstanding pattern of carelessness and disregard for procedure.

Being a stickler on things like this does not make one popular but taking a laissez-faire attitude about them is a huge part of what's contributed to the general incompetence that's spread to almost every aspect of American life. How would you feel if you were diabetic and your nurse didn't bother to follow procedure to prepare your insulin injection?

Human error and inattention is the reason more than one person has to sign off but if, as looks highly likely in this case, that safety measure is being ignored then you have no safeguards at all.

Sorry, this is a major pet peeve of mine. I had to work with too many useless facks who thought they were too good to be bothered for too many years.

TomCat said...

I'm sticking with Mama on this one. Surprise, huh? ;-)

Although the possibility of an accidental detonation was indeed nil, allowing nuclear weapons to go galavanting across the country just fails to inspire confidence.

Woozie said...

^ Conformist whore ;)

Flimsy Sanity said...

We will go to war because Iraq might have one and we misplace 6.

Anonymous said...

And to think this would have been the second KNOWN time, but the last time, with a bomb many times stronger than the ones we dropped on Japan has been lost off the coast of Tybee Island for over 50 years and the goverment has decided it's just not really interested in recovering/disarming it.

TomCat said...

Now there is more information on the subject available, it appears that it was no accident at all.