Phar Warner (pharwarner) wrote,
Phar Warner

What's in a name?

A lot when it comes to Royal Navy ships named 'Vanguard'. I read that the current HMS Vanguard, a Trident missile armed SSBN has been in collision with the French SSBN Le Triomphant. Let's not worry about Le Triomphant for now, apart from noting how generally silly it is to give a French warship a name associated with winning anything. Ever. But the English ships named Vanguard... They're at least as bad, if not worse. This latest collision isn't a disaster. It's the best that we can hope for.

Okay, iron and steel ships named Vanguard... They start with the Vanguard of the Audacious class in 1870. She lasted just over
four years before colliding with her sister Iron Duke off Dublin Bay in a fog, becoming the first Royal Navy battleship in history to be sunk by collision. Noone dared to use the name again untill 1910. This time, Vanguard was a Dreadnought battleship that took part in the battle of Jutland. But a year later she spontaneously blew up at anchor killing 804 of her crew. Now the next Vanguard admittedly didn't sink or blow up, but happened to be the last and most useless battleship that the Royal Navy ever came up with. The folorn last example of its kind, obsolete from the moment it came down the slipway in 1946 with a name dripping in irony. That alone is enough reason to retire the name. Suffice to say, those old sailor's stories of certain ship names being cursed, the more I learn the more I tend to agree that some names should be buried never to be used again.

But given the options, let's hope that the current Vanguard now skips 1910 Vanguard's fate to go safely to the breaker's yard like 1946 Vanguard did. Once, the firey death of a battleship was the biggest explosion the world new. A nuclear armed and fueled submarine's conflagration is something no superstitious sailor of previous centuries could have even begun to comprehend.
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