U.K. Daily Scoops Carrier Sinking Story
January 2, 2010
Stornoway, Scotland (ENN)
British newspaper scooped other media outlets when it first reported the USS
Truman, an American aircraft carrier, had been sunk by hostile forces in the Atlantic.
The incident was exposed when a Daily
reporter decided to pursue a new and unexpected story while at the
airforce base at Stornoway.
His original purpose was to interview the airbase commander, and was in
the midst of a guided tour through the base's air traffic control center
when he observed a sudden increase in activity and tension.
His curiosity was additionally piqued when he noted
an obviously damaged American F14 Navy fighter land at the base, and
found his military guide evasive and terse when questioned about its
presence. Not long afterwards, while touring the base pilots'
quarters, he feigned illness and then abandoned his escort
when the officer left to seek medical attention.
It was at the point that the journalist took
measures even the Daily
Mirror's editor, Peter
Arnet, has called "extreme". Entering one of the unlocked quarters,
he found and donned a pilot's uniform, and then had the good fortune to stumble
upon the American F14 pilot just as he finished showering in a nearby
As a well informed military correspondent
for the Mirror, and for CNN a decade ago, the reporter was well versed in military jargon and
managed to successfully pass himself off as a British pilot. He engaged the American
in a conversation about the events leading to his arrival at the British
base and was provided with a riveting account of a Russian attack in the
Although the Mirror's reporter has since become incommunicado
- likely dodging military and civilian authorities seeking to file
charges - the subsequent story he filed was printed in a special edition
of this morning's newspaper. The events as described by the American pilot would represent a serious blow to NATO operations in the Atlantic and likely
result in a large number of U.S. casualties.
Attack in the Atlantic
According to the F14 pilot, the early hours of
January 2nd started routinely enough; marred only by the presence of an extreme
storm centered directly over the carrier task force, preventing normal
routine air patrols. But at around 1:00
am, he and other pilots were scrambled in spite of the storm when aerial jamming
was detected coming from the north,
northwest and northeast of the fleet.
The F14s that managed to take off were directed
towards the jamming
source, likely in
hopes that the fighters' radars could "burn" through the
interference and locate enemy aircraft.
Unfortunately only a few fighters were
able to launch in the storm, leaving this pilot and a limited
number of others to face the inbound attackers. According to the
report, it was around
1:30 am when U.S. fighters managed to climb above the storm and spread out
in an attempt to locate the jamming aircraft - initially identified as
nicknamed "Bears" by NATO.
Almost immediately he and
the others were pounced upon by enemy fighter jets. U.S. F14s
are generally believed to have longer ranged air-to-air missiles -
called "Phoenix" - than their Russian counterparts, but the
powerful jamming apparently allowed the enemy to close to where
their own missiles could be launched.
A detailed account of the
resulting dogfight was impossible to recount, as the pilot was dodging
incoming missiles even as he launched his own, but it apparently wasn't
long before his F14 was riddled with shrapnel from a nearby
miss. There was no way to tell what type of missile caused the
damage, or even whether it was radar or IR guided, but he seemed
confident that the Russian fighters they faced were SU-35s. It's
unknown how many enemy jets may have survived that particular engagement,
but he confirmed at least two F14s were destroyed.
The American pilot soon realized he
was out of the fight. His only remaining missiles were short-range
sidewinders and although the damage he'd sustained was not sufficient to
him to ditch the plane, it did prevent him from
entering a close range fight with any hope of survival.
Just as he brought the jet around to make his way
back to the carrier, the controller onboard reported an
emergency message was being sent out from the fleet. The message stated
the Truman Group was under attack from five
northern directions, with enemy forces including a suspected 25+ "Backfire" bombers
plus escort fighters, an accompanying missile strike inbound, and a possible submarine contact
along that same axis.
The F14 pilot reported seeing missile trails glowing
in the night sky, flashing both away from the fleet and - in the
distance - towards it. Craning his neck around, both he and his
weapons officer could see large flashes where NATO missiles intercepted
the inbound Russian ones, with each successive flash getting closer and
closer to the fleet.
Soon the flashes passed by the F14 as it
continued flying towards the Truman, and it wasn't long before they saw one and
then two ships, likely Destroyers, appear to take hits.
Just as they were lining up to approach the carrier deck,
they saw the ship take at
least a half dozen missile hits. The pilot claimed he could actually see the carrier's
close-support phalanx guns fire and take out the lead missile before the
others struck. That first explosion bathed the carrier's deck with white
a clear view of it and two nearby ships as they rocked with successive
Neither the pilot nor his weapons officer bothered
trying to get new orders from the Truman's air controllers; they had
both observed that entire section of the ship vaporized by missile
warhead and fuel explosions. Since no other platform existed within the
fleet, and with less than half a tank of fuel in their crippled jet, the
pilot turned towards the only "carrier" within flying distance
U.S. officials would neither confirm nor
deny facts presented in the article, citing military secrecy and
consideration for the families of sailors serving on the USS Truman,
however most details in the Daily Mirror's report have been substantiated by
more than one NATO source.
Casualties suffered in the engagement are
unknown, but sources stressed that all possible measures would be taken
to provide for the rescue and medical treatment of servicemen stranded
or injured in the attack.
The fate of the F14 pilot who was
unwittingly interviewed by the Mirror's reporter is unknown. The
newspaper's owner and its editor are standing by their reporter's actions,
and it is suspected they may be aiding him in his attempts to allude
British military officials.