Thanks a Lot, France
It looks like our old buddies the French are up to it again. (Remember, buddy is only half a word.) Back in September, I blogged about a visit of a Russian submarine to France, and figured that it was a good thing. Now, though, it appears that France and Russia have been discussing an agreement to prevent underwater collisions, and the Russians are complaining that the Americans and Brits are refusing to negotiate. No s**t!
Currently, there's a treaty between Russia and NATO regarding the prevention of incidents on or over the high seas (Incidents at Sea Agreement, or INCSEA - link is 30 page Adobe document). Note that this does not apply to submerged submarines, and there's a reason for this. In general, the rules of the road apply to vessels "in sight of one another", or vessels trapped in the fog. They simply don't apply to submarines. What Russia would obviously like is for us to agree to some mechanism where we tell them where are submarines are at. The fact that the French are even discussing this shows that they aren't really serious about being militarily realistic -- all they want are some public relations points with the peaceniks. This was as ridiculous as President Clinton's apology to Russian President Yeltsin at the Vancouver summit in 1993 for the Grayling-Delta III collision near Murmansk, and the White House press release that stated:
"...In response to the incident involving a collision between U.S. and Russian submarines last month, Secretary Aspin will be ready to discuss ways to avoid such incidents in the future with Russian Defense Minister Grachev during his visit to the United States in late May."
That idiocy obviously died a quick death, probably after the submariners beat the new civilian DoD leadership with a Cluebat. The fact that the French are continuing their negotiations shows that they either don't understand submarining, or are looking for any way to embarass the U.S. and Great Britain.