Monday, September 23, 2013

H.M.S. UNSEEN--Fact and Fiction--Part Two of Two

In Part One of this post, I mentioned the historical fact that the Unseen was an actual Royal Navy submarine, and the subject of the novel of the same name by Patrick Robinson. Now owned by the Royal Canadian Navy and renamed HMCS Victoria, the stealthy boat has been tested under realistic conditions, firing a torpedo at and sinking a decommissioned U.S. ship; for an image, click here.

Author Robinson made good use of his expert adviser, the late Admiral Sandy Woodward. He describes in great detail the locale and routine of an RN submarine doing workups in the English Channel, and does a good job of putting the reader on board a modern diesel-electric boat. One of his characters is a retired Royal Navy admiral and former Teacher of the Perisher, the submarine Commanding Officers Qualifying Course. It was not a great surprise that in my mind at least Robinson's "Teacher" bore many similarities to Sandy Woodward.

As a very junior submarine officer on board H.M.C.S. Alderney, I had the honour of seeing the then Commander Woodward in action in his role as Teacher. It is a certainty that no terrorist would have taken one of his boats.

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