This Pocket of People May Not Know of Pandemic

We hadn't thought of this one...
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 30, 2020 5:25 PM CDT
This Pocket of People May Not Know of Pandemic
In this July 12, 2019 file photo, French navy commander Axel Roch poses in the navigation and operations center in the new nuclear-powered submarine "Suffren" in Cherbourg, north-western France.   (Ludovic Marin/Pool via AP, File)

Of a world in coronavirus turmoil, they may know little or nothing. Submariners stealthily cruising the ocean deeps, purposefully shielded from worldly worries to encourage undivided focus on their top-secret missions of nuclear deterrence, may be among the last pockets of people anywhere who are still blissfully unaware of how the pandemic is turning life upside down. Mariners who board ballistic submarines for 60- to 70-day missions are habitually spared bad news while underwater to avoid undermining their morale, say current and former officers who served aboard France's nuclear-armed subs.

So any crews that left port before the virus spread around the globe are likely being kept in the dark about the extent of the rapidly unfurling crisis by their commanders until their return, they say. "They won’t know,” said retired Adm. Dominique Salles, who commanded the French ballistic submarine squadron from 2003-06. "The boys need to be completely available for their mission." Speaking exclusively to the AP, Salles said he believes submariners will likely only be told of the pandemic as they head back to port, in the final two days of their mission. Read the full story for an explanation of how the crew members' only source of news aboard is filtered, and the tragic personal news that was once kept from Salles.

(More coronavirus stories.)

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