Politicians! You can’t trust them to run the country, but you can certainly trust them to blow up the world, and that’s exactly who the man responsible for launching Britain’s nuclear arsenal and ushering in Armageddon in the event of all out war is putting his faith in.
Lieutenant Commander Woods is 38-years-old, a father of three, and also responsible for pressing the trigger on the little red joystick which would unleash the U.K’s nuclear arsenal and kill billions of innocent men, women, and children.
Considering the fate of the world and the end of civilization could come down to his trigger finger, the HMS Vigilant’s Weapons engineering officer is surprisingly calm about his responsibility.
The softly spoken veteran who has been in the Navy for 16 years told The Express that it’s an honor to be entrusted with such a task, and puts his faith completely in the decision of his “political lords and masters.”
“It is an honor and also a burden to be the one that ultimately would need to pull the trigger.
“An honor that our political lords and masters trust me with this sort of awesome responsibility, a burden because knowing what could be on your hands is obviously a heavy load to deal with.
“We have to be guided by our political lords and masters. When you look at the uncertainty in the world today, this is the ultimate safeguard of security.
“When you think about what is going on at the other end, ultimately it is a political decision. We have to trust that they know what they are doing,
“We train hard in order to fight easy. When it comes to going through that final countdown, it is very much by rote.
“As much as possible you would be trying not to think about the end result of that. You are executing our political lords and masters will and we have to trust them.”
The key word is “trust.” How much trust can anyone invest in the career-minded and duplicitous politicians of today is open for debate, but when it comes to self-confessed computer geek Mr Wood, politicians are not just sharks in suits selling snake oil to the highest bidder, they’re our “lords and masters.” So much for democracy hey?
The device that Mr Woods would press – if UK Prime Minister David Cameron gave the green light for total annihilation from deep in his bunker – is modeled on the Colt.45 Peacemaker.
It is a red-handheld trigger that looks like it was once attached to an arcade game in the 1980s, but this little trigger, which is housed on HMS Vigilant, one of the UK’s four nuclear submarines, is capable of much more than enabling its user to get to the next level.
If pressed, it sends one of the 60-ton missiles on a journey to an unknown target, and with an unclassified range of 4,000 nautical miles, and a speed of more than 6,000 meters a second, it’s not to be trifled with.
And as Mr Woods points out, once it is pressed there’s no going back.
“Once the missile has left the submarine there is no self-destruct button. Once it’s gone from here, it is effectively ‘fire and forget’ – it is going to reach its target.
“Intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) are designed to be incredibly hard to stop and the Trident is by far and away the most capable, most reliable and best-performing ICBM in the world.”
The current Prime Minister is the only one who can give the order to nuke the world, but as Mr Woods explained, “We have to trust our political lords and masters know what they’re doing.”
“We have to act on the orders of our political lords and masters.
“When you’re out at sea on patrol, then we don’t know the whole story – we have to trust that they know what they’re doing.
“If we’re in the position of launching, then the deterrence has failed and you have to consider that the landscape of the UK from a political point of view will not be what it was.”
Commodore Dan Martyn, the commanding officer of the Vigilant submarine, added that it would only be a matter of minutes between receiving the order from the Prime Minister and launching the missile.
“Once the memo is sent from Downing Street, a team works to decode and authenticate it to ensure it came from No 10.
“Two officers would then review the message before presenting it to the commanding officer of the ship.
“If a message is received from Downing Street it must be authenticated before the missiles are fired. If he was happy that the request was genuine, a message would be relayed to the weapons control room to prepare to fire the warhead.”
The Ministry of Defense explained that pressing the nuclear button and blowing up the world wouldn’t be an emotional or angry gesture, but a well thought out and calculated action.
“There’s no emotion in it, there’s no loss of temper. It’s a very calm, measured, checked and balanced process.”
So there you have it. When the nuclear apocalypse comes and you’re faced with a terrible death, don’t take it personally or get angry, it’s just politics.
Talk about the things that make you go boom!
(Photo by Phil Sandlin/AP)