CyberTech Rambler

June 7, 2010

I don’t know why I don’t find it scary when warships can be “dead in the water” while waiting for software reboot

Filed under: Uncategorized — ctrambler @ 4:27 pm

You got to hand it to TheRegisteer claiming that UK put warships to sea “unarmed”.

Just in case you are wondering, it is not unarmed but “under-armed”.

That reminded me about the documentary on Channel 4 about the building/launching/commissioning of HMS Daring a few weeks ago. As a PhD holder, I am one of those eternal skeptics that would not be wowed by PR talks such as “most technologically advanced warship in the world” and “Mission Accomplished” claim or “British built” Sampson radar. I did find one thing strange and another surprising (but not scary.

The strange one is the footage of it firing a missile which then intercepts and destroy another “missile”. It did not look real even after considering that the clip has to be taken by multiple cameras. I also note that the footage on the warfare management room is different from the BBC supposed footage of it when Daring was first launched. In the BBC footage, although the computers are on workbenches,  we see computer monitors on standard desktop and not secure to anything. They cannot be! The first wave will send them crashing to the ground. Furthermore, there are simply too much empty space. In the C4 documentary the computers were secure to frames and looks more like a weapon/radar station and that confirm to me that you cannot trust what you see. I just left it at it. TheRegister’s article confirmed to me that the missile footage is fake.

The second one, which initially did not scare me, was the fact that during the start of the “first-ever” war games, the ship’s computer developed a serious fault and everything, radars and weapon controls go down with it. First thought was that was not a good advert for “Windows for Warship“. [The clip helpfully reminded viewer that it is window by showing a window error message screen] but deep down, I don’t think it matters whether is it Windows or Unix. Second, I am surprised I did not find it scary or unusual that a sophisticated warship can be “crippled” by a computer fault. Looking at a whole room full of sailors finding themselves having nothing to do due to a computer fault is priceless television. The fact that they are not surprised spoke volume to me. I mean you can get one or two sailors (and the captain of the ship) to pretend everything is normal in front of the camera, but you cannot do it with the whole room.  For some reasons unknown to me I don’t find that surprising at all. On second thought, that should scare me coz it shows how flimsy military techology is. Even the Royal Navy, with the money they can pour in to a major project, cannot get away from a warship that can become significant crippled from a single computer fault. I said significantly crippled instead of dead-in-the-water because I am pretty sure that it is an exaggeration when it says all radars and weapons control are down (like the claim that the Sampson radar is “British technology”).

Well, lets sit back and see what other problems the class of warship has. It will be an interesting study of military technology for an outsider like me.


1 Comment »

  1. It *is* British technology! It was designed in the uk, the software in it was written in the uk, and each Sampson radar was built on the Isle of Wight.

    Comment by Daniel Smith — July 28, 2010 @ 10:39 am | Reply

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