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back to article TERRORISTS IN SUBMARINES menace the Free World!

US security officials are reportedly worried that a new generation of drug-smuggling submarines - able, unlike their predecessor semi-submersibles, to travel completely submerged beneath the waves - might be used to carry out terrorist operations. The "terrorists" quote comes from a new report by the Houston Chronicle on the …

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Joke

Hunt for Red October

Come on, we've read/seen the Hunt for Red October.

Surely the US have a chain of listening device stretched across the whole area and the sub hunters would pounce on this in no time

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Joke

Re: Hunt for Red October

The problem is the listening devices can only detect Scottish accents....

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Anonymous Coward

SOSUS

I think you mean the SOSUS array, which according to the Cult of Wiki tracked the USS George Washington from the US to the UK in 1961. Apparently it later did whalesong as well as the above mentioned Scottish accents.

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Boffin

Too easy

1. Build fiberglass sub for one way trip.

2. No need for diesels, batteries with a 75 mile range. (Weight/size savings)

3. Fill cargo bay with explosives/some kind of poison/nuke. (dirty bomb would work too)

4. Fit up a container ship with the ability to drop a sub through the hull 50 miles off shore.

5. Stay submerged till inside harbor of choice.

6. Bang.(Your 'fill in cause here wins whatever point it was trying to make.)

Altogether too easy and cheap for the price. (estimate what it cost to put 9/11 in operation and you'll probably find the sub idea cost-effective)

Now what?

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Megaphone

@Queos lvl42 mage

Point #4 implies you have your own container ship.

Why not simply pack said ship full of as much explosive as possible and drive it into the harbour of your choice?

The whole mini sub thing has a dubious track history. Take the x craft for example; very cool, but a bit useless in practice...

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Flame

Yeah... Right...

That requires an attention span that is way too long. As well as well as a budget. And is ineffective.

The amount of disposable money just one of the drug cartels has at their disposal is something like 4+ orders of magnitude more than what all of world terrorist organisations have combined. What they are doing is generally way beyond the budget of any terrorist organisation.

This of course does not mean that a terrorist organisation cannot do something cheap, dangerous and floating. They already do. Or to be more exact did: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Cole_bombing

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Anonymous Coward

or....

...get a speedboat a drive into harbour at full speed. Much easier, or even when at sea. See Somali pirates as examples how to do this effectivly.

No they need to add the word "terrorist" to justify spending £500m on a "Anti-Terror-Submarine" project that will be uterly pointless.

Oh don't forget to raise the threat to Indigo-with-yellow-spot

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Inefficient investment

Build a proper submarine? For moving cargo? Even if the the cargo is easy to handle and stupidly valuable, that's not where the money is.

If I was some random South American and I had the skills and the money to develop a working submarine, I wouldn't mess about with small-time illegal stuff like hauling $100m worth of drugs.

I'd spread scare stories about Brazil's fitful SSN development, then start bilking assorted regional departments of defence for huge sums of money by selling them armaments. The military submarines I'd be offering might not actually work, and I might need to licence all sorts technology from US companies to make my products seem even plausible, but I'd still be making money. Lawfully.

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let's not forget the French

okay, so they didn't use a submarine for their acts of nautical terrorism, but the crew on the Raindow Warrior probably weren't expecting to hand a bomb planted while docked in Auckland

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Mine the harbours

What terrorists fail to grasp is that no-one looks at what goes on in ports at all as closely as airports and yet that majority of our goods still come through them even in this day and age. Drop a few mines off of an old fishing boat on a jolly round the coast and bring the country to its knees without anyone knowing what's going on or having to faff about blowing yourself up on a tube train. Terrorists are stupid.

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Anonymous Coward

title

I've argued for some time now that this current crop of terrorists getting the "immenent and real threat" title must either be the most inept in history when you look at how many attacks they've made (especially compared to *real* threats such as the IRA) or the most brilliant we've ever known for having authorities running around like headless chickens while not actually bothering to attack, save for the occasional effort to show "the threat is still there".

If I were in one of their cells, I wouldn't bother with such convoluted plots, large teams and improvised devices. I'd simply buy some grenades from a local criminal gang and lob them into busy tube/train station entrances. Hell, even lob them over the fences of certain power substations.

Or am I missing the point of their campaign of terror? (definition of "their" is intentionally left ambiguous ;) )

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@Chris Collins

I suggest you watch a series of documentaries which were made about the port of Los Angeles then correct your statement on port security.

http://www.portoflosangeles.org/

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Let's just see...

Cocaine with a nice, friendly, Fairtrade label on it for sale cheaply in the chemist. Then, no bugger will be building submarines.

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Anonymous Coward

Or...

...just don't use the stuff.

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It sounds stupid,,,

,,,but if you looked at the drug problem from an economic/business point of view, the options to defeat the criminals is to provide drugs for a cheaper price. The government, being a non-profit organisation, could give the stuff away for nothing (their supply is the stuff they've seized from criminals). No one can make a profit, criminals move onto some other business. This reduces knock-on crimes (theft to pay for habit). Of course, you wouldn't just give drugs to anyone, you'd need to be an addict, and it'd have to be anonymous too. But you'd also be able to say "Look, here's how you get off the stuff". Chances any politician would do anything remotely like this?

Now, where's that naive optimist icon?

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Happy

Yeah, but

We can't have people enjoying themselves.

That's what it's really about, when all's said and done. Always has been, always will be.

Smiley face, because it annoys the puritans.

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Why would terrorists want to blow up an oil rig?

When BP and Halliburton are quite capable of doing it for themselves.

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Anonymous Coward

Give the attack subs...

...something to go after at least.

And as for Lewis's note on how the SBS, Navy Seals etc. have spent most of their time sitting idle, can I ask on what evidence this is based?

Does he actually think that his limited experience and expertise (and clearence for that matter) actually qualifies him to make such an off the cuff remark? He has no idea what they have been doing and done in various theatres over the years.

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Well..

"And as for Lewis's note on how the SBS, Navy Seals etc. have spent most of their time sitting idle, can I ask on what evidence this is based?"

Considering the way our various Govts trumpet even the slightest "Victory" over the forces of "Evil", I would suspect if they (The Seals/SBS etc) had been involved in thwarting any smidge of an "Evil" plot it would have been splashed all over the media.

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Megaphone

Attack of the Coke Addicted Porpoises -- GACK!

Flipper by any other name, now fueled by Coke -- Real Coke

I can see it now, whacked out Porpoise Coke whores loose in the Gulf of Mexico...near Texas beaches...

Oh shit, I saw the preview with college girls when I was in my Sophomore year @ Uni in 1977 on the Texas beach.....

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s/Somalian/Somali

There is no such thing as a Somalian. Somalia is the country of the Somalis.

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Coat

Check, then post.

I recommend checking a few dictionaries.

Somalian refers to something from or an inhabitant of the country Somalia. Somali refers to a ethnic group/people situated mainly in Somalia, but also in adjacent regions.

I think I now will take your coat and go.

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Silver badge
WTF?

Now the U.S. Coast Guard will require anti-submarine ships

The U.S. Coast Guard, who assumes it mandate includes all world oceans and seas, will require an expensive upgrading to improve it's anti-submarine defences.

And I thought coastal waters went out to 200 miles.

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Bronze badge

bit late, that

The USCG has had ASW capabilities for a _very_ long time. Example: the largest ASW ships on the North Atlantic during WWII were the USCG's SECRETARY OF TRANSPORT class cutters. One of them, USCGC INGHAM, was part of the escort for convoy HX229 in March 1943, the greatest convoy fight in the North Atlantic. Many Coast Guard cutters were, and still are, effectively USN destroyers operating for the Department of Transportation (and, now, for Homeland Security) instead of for Defence. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Convoys_HX_229/SC_122_order_of_battle> <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USCGC_Ingham_%28WHEC-35%29>.

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@JaitcH

You do know that the coast guard is a policing agency right ? They are only a military unit intimes of war. the coast guard job is boarder partol on the water. Oh by the way international waters various from country to country its 28 nautical miles for the US.

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Joke

you journalists!

You're all alike! You do some article about a highly technical subject, and you act like you're some kind of experts. Seriously, diving? You expect us to believe that you just HAPPEN to know some esoteric field? What the hell do YOU know about diving!? You can't just read wikip--

"Lewis Page is a former Royal Navy diving officer: as such he was exhaustively trained in mixture gas diving, covert attack swimming and underwater demolitions/explosive ordnance disposal..."

Ah, well.. uhmm... Carry on, then. Right.

I should note, however, that I was also exhaustively trained in diving - I jumped in twice, and after that I was exhausted.

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A flying RN Diving Officer?

Well, at least this explains why most of his aviation-related articles are rubbish.

What I don't understand is why The Reg believes that a ex RN Diving Officer is qualified to write about topics way outside his domain and (as often demonstrated) also his understanding.

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Thumb Up

These guys built a real sub for $ 200.000

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UC3_Nautilus

$200K is a lot lower than the $5m DEA estimate!

The builders are now working on some very nice rockets. So far the people have no plans of entering the drugs trade AFAIK ;-)

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Boffin

Richer NitrOx mix?

Does that even mean anything? after all normal breathing air is NitrOx (21%) do you mean richer in Oxygen? (EAN would be a better acroynm than NitrOx) say 36% O2 that gives you the ability to stay shallow for a longer time before decompression is required (while increasing the chances of oxygen toxicity) not really needed, would probably better to use air and then deco with EAN50 at a shallow depth (or air then EAN32, EAN36 shallower each time with the same equivalent depth). Rather than using a rebreather, equalising the depth/pressure using expelled air/c02 using a gentle descent will keep the volume of gas steady (and could even add forward momentum), obviously on the way up it would be bubbly, but it's simple and depending on the number of passengers and the volume of the craft there could be quite a lot of distance.

There's a lot of flexibility with this system - depending how prepared they can be.

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Anonymous Coward

There's TERRISTS in them thar SEAS

Lessee. Nice deconstruction. But I see you've missed a couple minor points.

A sub that could "easily" pack "terrorists" instead of coke? Oh, so coke needs to breathe, eat and shit too then? Sounds very... much like the usual fear mongering. Way to go. And they keep on going. To wit:

Sub with performance to rival a military sub. Except of course for the armaments. Have they actually tried all that? I think not. Sounds more like a couple WAGs or maybe some helpful hints based on some wikipedia browsing of WWII era diesel-electrics. (Cue das boot music.)

I also like how this fed credits the narcsub with underwater air-breathing: "The more it uses batteries, the closer it has to come to the surface to recharge them." No, the more often it has to come to the surface. There's a difference. Yes I'm nitpicking. And why not, hm? Even if it's far too easy. Feds these days.

On to finance. I recall reading that Osama's cells in the field have to pay for themselves, meaning that their budgets are generally measured in tens of thousands of dollars, not millions. The sort of money you can make by spending a year or two working hard in a low-to-medium wage job and living as frugal as you can, times the members of your cell. And if the local counter-terrorism secret service is worth anything at all, the cells have to keep their heads down. So. Why are we spending gazibillions against these few hateful turbans again?

The biggest immediate impression I got from "9/11" was exactly the sheer audacity of hijacking not one, but four aeroplanes at once. The hijackings were simplicity itself, too. How much do a couple boxcutters and a few airline tickets cost? Translate the same low budget approach to the sea and it'd be much more viable to hijack the biggest cruiseship or, if you absolutely must, gas tanker ship you can find. Then, er, sail that into a harbour? What?

Terrorists aren't there to destruct things. That's just a side effect. They're there to STRIKE FEAR INTO OUR VERY HEARTS. And they did that so well we keep on doing it to ourselves. No need for them to come up with also-ran followup sequels that just fizzle. Much better to bide their time and wait for something big. Timing is everything. The rest is just the sport of getting maximum fear return on a shoestring budget.

In fact, the 7/7 fizzle (exactly because Blighty /did/ keep calm and carry on without prompting, quite contrary to how the USoA would've reacted) might well have influenced the follow-on planning.

Also note how pants bomber et al. weren't coordinated. That's notable in and of itself because it shows that the ideas gained traction to the point that unstable people are willing to die for nebulous ideas. But as a method to strike fear, er, through ridicule? That's not working so well.

A few minutes thought at most ought to tell you that the seas ought to be pretty much safe. Frogmen in a harbour? Much easier to get in from land, or from land by way of the sea. Next to no need for frogman training. No need to fool around with subs like the military must; the lone attacker in a country at peace by definition can mingle with the populace and make good use of that fact. As do governments, to find more ways to repress the general populace "for their own protection". That the latter clearly isn't yielding results /for the populace/ is evidently of no consequence for governments, and thus the populace needs to take note of that. But I digress.

So it's fairly obvious that those who are there to protect us are so specialised that they've become a liability. They are so conditioned on highly trained operators as adversaries that the most low-tech and inept approach manages to get through. That pants bomber didn't pass the spendy pervy scanners unlike everyone else, and didn't even need a passport.

I liked how the regular Royal Navy made the news when one of its warships /wasn't allowed/ to engage Somali pirates because it was "too dangerous". Compare how the pirates finance themselves and how much training they've received, with how much such an apparently entirely toothless Navy Warship costs. At least it helps its captains accrue seniority.

What I think that's happening is that we have no real threat even when waging war on several hapless countries all at once (and meanwhile sponsoring those who seem to have much stronger ties to the people actually doing the terrorism thing) and too many panicked politicians with too much money to spend. Let's cut the budget some more, and the first order of tomorrow is "determine an actual target for once". If they can't find anything or anybody to pick up and convict in regular court, just scrap the anti-terrorism departments entirely. You know what, do that anyway. The regular police and secret service ought to be able to deal with it. If not, fix that instead.

Yes, I know how capability retention is the driving force behind military planning. But it's apparently not very focused at all, and more than once the purported capabilities turned out to Just Not Work, not even As Advertised. That logically means a dire necessity to fire the entire planning staff and put some slightly more practical people in charge. Unusable theoretical capability is exactly that: Useless. Practical capability that can see immediate deployment has a severe advantage over it, in fact.

I'm well aware that if all you have is a hammer, then everything starts to look like a nail. It follows that if you must choose a hammer, it is best to make sure it isn't made of glass. Not least because more usual materials are cheaper as well as much more functional.

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Thumb Up

That ...

... was brilliant, AC! Thank you!

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Knots per hour

since a knot is one nautical mile per hour, then a knot per hour is: one nautical mile per hour per hour - which would be a measure of acceleration.

Quite sluggish really - kinda like me without coffee

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Thumb Up

Quite sluggish really?

Surely "sluggish" is an anecdotal measure of speed, not acceleration, given the speed of light is 582,749,918 knots that means it would take over 65,000 years to get to this speed, gradual rather than sluggish, after all it would be going very quick after a long time ;-)

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Silver badge

TERRORISTS IN SUBMARINES menace the Free World!?

Wasn't that also called "World War II"??? I'm sorry, I'm American, so I get my history mixed up)

Seriously, the narcotics trade funds this. Real terrorists are not going to have the bucks for this sort of Buck Rogers.

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Grenade

Re: Mine the harbours

Who needs mines? As flimsy as that sub is, tossing a few grenades overboard should do the trick.

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See sic

Maybe it was 20 knots an hour, and they were talking about it's acceleration capabilities.

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Boffin

Hmm

20 knots per hour is about about g / 3500, by my reckoning. That's hardly going to push you back in your seat.

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Gold badge
FAIL

IIRC maritime Patrol Aircraft have been able to detect periscope tubes since WWII

I don't think their capabilities have gone backwards since.

So I guess you'd be looking at mostly 5 knots over several 1000 nautical miles.

BTW. Where's the sat nav?

Good luck with that.

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Megaphone

IRA and stuff

Well they caught this ONE, bet there are more, perhaps better ones. Terrorists don't need to arrive in subs, they can cross borders as easily as anyone else. The 9/11 people never disguised their identities, just their intentions.

What I never understood about the IRA, is why they went for prominent people. I'd go for the infra structure, motorway bridges, substations, water supply. Aviation fuel supplies.

Wouldn't fancy my chances in a fibreglass sub. You'd not be safe in any sort of storm and if they dive deep to avoid it, it would just implode.

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Silver badge

What's to understand ..... smart is as smart does, dumb is as dumb does ... simple.

"What I never understood about the IRA, is why they went for prominent people. I'd go for the infra structure, motorway bridges, substations, water supply. Aviation fuel supplies." .... Anonymous Coward Posted Thursday 10th February 2011 01:32 GMT

You think they should have attacked leading politicians and the likes of the City for disruption of corruption and the money supply, AC? Well it would certainly have been a lot more popular if it was support for such madness they were after, than the indiscriminate bombing of innocent men, women and children in sleepy market towns and villages, but hardly a solution to anything, although as an agent of radical change, would it probably be more than just a little effective.

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Stop

Oxygen?

"Compressed oxygen could alternatively be used, though this would involve additional expense and danger."

Yeah, danger. Like the fact that inhaling pure oxygen becomes toxic to the human body submerged under pressure.

Anyone with SCUBA training will know this.

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IT Angle

@JaitcH: Too late

My cousin was in the USN back when the Russians were still the Soviets. He assures me that even back then those boats were outfitted w/ extensive Anti-Submarine Warfare kit.

Anon, just in case he has to shoot me now for saying...

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Anonymous Coward

[1]

Actually, a knot is a lumpy tangle in a piece of string.

It may seem crude, but it works very well, as Wikipedia explains: "Until the mid-19th century vessel speed at sea was measured using a chip log. This consisted of a wooden panel, weighted on one edge to float upright, and thus present substantial resistance to moving with respect to the water around it, attached by line to a reel. The chip log was "cast" over the stern of the moving vessel and the line allowed to pay out. Knots placed at a distance of 47 feet 3 inches (14.4018 m) passed through a sailor's fingers, while another sailor used a 30 second sand-glass (28 second sand-glass is the current accepted timing) to time the operation. The knot count would be reported and used in the sailing master's dead reckoning and navigation. This method gives a value for the knot of 20.25 in/s, or 1.85166 km/h. The difference from the modern definition is less than 0.02%."

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Pint

Please can they just stop!

If it isn't peado's trying to get at your kids, it's the supposed threat of terrorists who will attempt to blow you up at every street corner! Any sort of tech that could even remotely be used in conjunction with terrorist activity and thats it, panic! Just detain everyone in the UK just in case anyone attempts to use anything more more mechanical than a wheel! Banning guns in the UK didn't stop that psycho Moat from going on a rampage did it? I can imagine your average motivated terrrorists could start a panic in the town square with nothing more than a ball of BluTac, a Barbie doll and a bag of mint toffees!

Call me cynical, but it wouldn't be that in this current economic downturn, budget cuts and all that, that these security agencies and Gov departments are looking to prove their worth by attempting to frighten the populace, thereby ensuring their funding for the next 12 months?

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Shits in a underwater boat, improbable but likely.

Who gives a shit about terrorists. I've said it before and I'll say it again; they can't blow us all up.

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One point

that seems to have been forgotten in this <terrorists are everywhere> piece.

"The purpose of terrorism, is to terrorise," Attributed to Lenin.

And you 'terrorise' people, not fish. Blowing up a farmhouse is much safer than a tube station or train. But that won't 'terrorise' people, so you would have failed.

9/11 worked because the American people, and their government, panicked. The whole country changed because of a single terrorist attack. The terrorists won and the world lost.

7/7 didn't work so well, people were getting on buses and tubes the next day. But the UK had already been bloodied by the IRA attacks, and knew what was most likely to happen next, nothing.

Blowing up a gas tanker in a harbour will only work if it is somewhere like the London docks. It is the population density that terrorists have to look for.

Blowing up an oil rig, won't affect most people and so won't 'terrorise', but it will seriously piss off some seriously rich people. People who have the means, and, possibly, the will to make things tough for the sponsors of terrorism.

So there is a real reason why even such a soft target as an oil rig hasn't been targeted by terrorists, it isn't worth it.

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Black Helicopters

7/7 worked well enough

The people didn't panic, but the government did. It also gave Blair more justification to stay "should to shoulder" with Bush.

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Big Brother

Thanks for those boot notes

explaining such recondite terms as «knot» ! Now if only Lewis Page - or the Reg editors - could post a .kml file coupled to a Google Earth place, so we could locate «the Free World»....

Henri

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Go

You have to admire them

These "frogmen" who are prepared to go into endless rounds of training and remain in a state of constant readiness, armed with only their teeth, and wearing something that goes under the banner of "apperatus".

Go froggies!

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Wasn't this the plot in Spooks a while back?

That is all

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