Warships Pod

28: On the Brink of World War Three?

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Episode notes

In the first part of a discussion with Captain Doug Littlejohns, who commanded a nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarine against the Russians during the old Cold War, the primary topic is whether or not we are on the brink of World War Three.

Doug provides insights gained when he played key roles tasking NATO submarines during 1980s spikes in tension and also from working in the corridors of power in the Ministry of Defence in London.

Podcast host Iain Ballantyne also asks whether or not Doug was ever truly scared the face-off between the Soviet Union and the West would turn into a hot war, especially during a surge of Russian Navy submarines into the North Atlantic.

The situation then and now is contrasted with today’s, not least the pronouncements of NATO leaders that war with Putin’s Russia is looming.

The state of the Royal Navy today - with its combat commitments against the Houthis in the Red Sea and having to handle the rising Russian threat elsewhere -  is considered and compared with how the British fleet handled things in the 1980s.

And what of the so-called ‘Special Relationship’ militarily between the UK and USA - is it now seriously out of balance?

Doug Littlejohns commanded the diesel-electric patrol submarine HMS Osiris and the nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN) HMS Sceptre, plus the anti-submarine warfare frigate HMS London, during the Cold War. Capt Littlejohns faced the forces of the Soviet Union in the Atlantic, Mediterranean and Baltic, and also the Iranians in the Arabian Gulf.

Iain Ballantyne is the founding and current Editor of Warships IFR (first published in 1998) along with its ‘Guide to the Royal Navy’ (since 2003) and ‘Guide to the US Navy’ (since 2018). Iain is also author of the books ‘Hunter Killers’ (Orion) and ‘The Deadly Trade’ (Weidenfeld & Nicolson), both about submarine warfare.

For more details on Iain and his books visit the websites:
http://iainballantyne.com and https://www.bismarckbattle.com/
Follow him on Twitter @IBallantyn