UK governance defaults to HMG Australia or US in case of nuclear annihilation

#1
Letters of last resort - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Although the final orders of the Prime Minister are at his or her discretion, and no fixed options exist, four known options are often presented to prime ministers by military advisers when writing such notes of last resort: (i) Captain ordered to respond to the nuclear attack on the UK by launching submarine's nuclear weapons; (ii) Captain ordered not to respond with nuclear weapons; (iii) Captain ordered to use own judgement whether to return fire with nuclear weapons; (iv) Captain ordered to place himself and ship under the command of Her Majesty's Government of Australia, or alternatively of the President of the United States.
Apologies if this in the wrong sub-forum but I thought it was an interesting ongoing concern. I would think Australia the first choice although that would presumably put them in the line of the assailant's fire without a deterrent themselves, unless they invoked their alliance with the US.
 
#2
Why HMG Australia? Why not HMG in Canada as first choice? Unless they're planning to use the "On The Beach" scenario.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#3
Why HMG Australia? Why not HMG in Canada as first choice? Unless they're planning to use the "On The Beach" scenario.
Probably due the the fact that Australia is less likely to suffer a nuclear strike or the fallout from a nuclear strike.
 
#4
Is it just me who thinks option (iii) the worst?

"Errr, yeah. Nuclear attack. Haven't really got the balls to call this one, why don't you decide?"

Talk about abdication of responsibility.
 
#5
Cynical rant begins

Rampant makes a good point, but even so the US Govt. would do and say nothing to help Australia unless it yielded some domestic political or economic advantage.

ANZUS? ABCA? Not worth a cuntful of cold water, IMHO.

Rant ends.
 

rampant

LE
Kit Reviewer
Book Reviewer
#6
Cynical rant begins

Rampant makes a good point, but even so the US Govt. would do and say nothing to help Australia unless it yielded some domestic political or economic advantage.

ANZUS? ABCA? Not worth a cuntful of cold water, IMHO.

Rant ends.
That's okay aus, we would, if there was anything left of us at that point I'm sure.
 
#7
Breaking news; Australia becomes world power by default. Europe to become inhabitable in 3000AD. City overrun by three-headed merchant banker mutants.
 
#8
Is it just me who thinks option (iii) the worst?

"Errr, yeah. Nuclear attack. Haven't really got the balls to call this one, why don't you decide?"

Talk about abdication of responsibility.
"If you are reading this I am dead, The Government and Crown of Great Britain no longer exists.

I cannot order you to fire, nor can I order you not to. I will trust your judgement."
I cannot see what is unreasonable about that text, it's what commanding submarines is about.
 
#9
Is it just me who thinks option (iii) the worst?

"Errr, yeah. Nuclear attack. Haven't really got the balls to call this one, why don't you decide?"

Talk about abdication of responsibility.
It's not really such a bad option as you might think at first glance.

For example,

If the attack which wipes out the Government was the work of:

Terrorists setting off a bomb they've managed to aquire

Some kind of drastic malfunction of an ICBM that launches accidentally

A single/small group of rogue military officer's in Russia/China etc.. deciding to "take on the West" and siezes control of a single silo/mobile launcher and nukes London etc....

Then do you really think its right that we launch off all our H-Bombs at their pre-planned targets just for the sake of it causing even more loss of life just because orders have been left that if we get Nuked we launch everything we have no matter what the facts are?

Obviously these are all highly unlikely (maybe even daft) scenarios but they're just an illustration to show that in some circumstances giving the Submarine Captain the authority to analyze the situation and make his own judgement call might be a good thing as they will have the facts that no Prime Minister could possibly have when writing the memorandum.
 
#11
#12
Or had been fused into a lump of carbon. Or silica. You could strain Fosters through it to make it taste better/less bad.
 
#13
After the Cold War was done, it emerged that the Soviet plan for all out war was just that, they had a SIOP which involved dumping nuclear warheads on just about every country on earth so no one could help the West rebuild. At the same time their Typhoon (big submarines) was designed to lurk underwater for a year or so, then pop up and fire at whereever Western rebuilding was ocurring to really ruin their day.

The UK plan after 1967 was to disperse central Govt into 8 PYTHON groups, and send them round the country, to unknown locations away from all the big bunkers - from what I understand, the aim was that they would have designated seniority, and that each group could take charge if required. They were accompanied by comms detachments, so I'm guessing that the order to put yourself under Aus/US control would only apply if the SSBN couldnt make contact or identify any sign of life at all from what was left of HM Government.
 
#14
The UK plan after 1967 was to disperse central Govt into 8 PYTHON groups, and send them round the country, to unknown locations away from all the big bunkers - from what I understand, the aim was that they would have designated seniority, and that each group could take charge if required.
That's piqued my interest. We used to have the local government offices in my building at work. And for some unknown reason we've got Nuke bunker under the place. I've always thought having that was an awful lot of effort for whom it was protecting.
 
#15
Haven't Bruce and Sheila banned ships bearing nuclear weapons or reactors from making landfalls there, they set up the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone with the sheep shaggers next door in the 1980s.
 
#16
I think the drill is for the presence of noo-kyoo-lurr weapons/reactors to be 'neither confirmed nor denied' by the XO, or whoever gets shoved in front of the journovermin dockside.
 
#17
"That's piqued my interest. We used to have the local government offices in my building at work. And for some unknown reason we've got Nuke bunker under the place. I've always thought having that was an awful lot of effort for whom it was protecting. "

Lots of stuff out there on the subject - try Subterranea Britannica: Home Page - useful guide to UK bunkers. Essentially though UK planning until 1963 involved one massive bunker at Corsham (room for 4000 people down there), plus about a dozen medium sized bunkers for the regions which mirrored the regional forces structure, with Bdes assigned to work with their regional HQ. There was also a large number of local authority bunkers built for each region, all the way down to small 10 man shelters in the basement of local Govt buildings. Post 63 the plan changed and the main bunker was abandoned (it became the HQLF wartime HQ), and PYTHON was adopted.

Not sure of the total numbers out there, but you're looking at a couple of hundred main bunkers, plus about 2000 3 man ROC observation posts.
 
#18
"That's piqued my interest. We used to have the local government offices in my building at work. And for some unknown reason we've got Nuke bunker under the place. I've always thought having that was an awful lot of effort for whom it was protecting. "

Lots of stuff out there on the subject - try Subterranea Britannica: Home Page - useful guide to UK bunkers. Essentially though UK planning until 1963 involved one massive bunker at Corsham (room for 4000 people down there), plus about a dozen medium sized bunkers for the regions which mirrored the regional forces structure, with Bdes assigned to work with their regional HQ. There was also a large number of local authority bunkers built for each region, all the way down to small 10 man shelters in the basement of local Govt buildings. Post 63 the plan changed and the main bunker was abandoned (it became the HQLF wartime HQ), and PYTHON was adopted.

Not sure of the total numbers out there, but you're looking at a couple of hundred main bunkers, plus about 2000 3 man ROC observation posts.

In theory the PYTHON dispersal of authority made it highly unlikely that the entire mechanism of UK government would go up in smoke at the same time.
The sharp reality is (in my view) that government devolved to bunkers spread around the UK would last around a month. Ater that point the operation of the bunkers would be under a serious strain. Contrary to the image portrayed by CND, non of these bunkers would keep their occupants in comfort or luxury. In some aspects like effluent/ sewerage handling these bunkers are surprisingly poorly thought out, provision of food consisted of three months on ration packs.
Power and communications systems would function in most but is some the powerhouses were in surface buildings. Sewerage was pumped to surface. Some bunkers leaked surface water in (lots of it).
Pretty much all of the bunkers operated on the assumption of three months before the fuel runs out.

Many of the bunkers were never even finished. After all that, the Russians knew where most of them were anyway and they would probably have recieved their own dose of instant sunshine right at the start.
 
#19
My wife was in the Observer Corps in the 80s. She reckons the 10-man shelters and office basements were only for moving people to temporarily en route to proper shelters.
 
#20
Incidentally Jim30 - do you have a source for the Soviet SIOP and the stuff about the Typhoon? Not doubting you, it's just really interesting & I'd like to read more.
 

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