Sub standard

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The Independent Online

It looks like the answer. Of course, you'd prefer a new one, but cash is tight. So you wander around it, peer into the engine with what you hope is the look of rugged experience, confide that the, er, tappets look fine, switch the radio on and off, kick one of the tyres and buy it. Shortly afterwards, the regrets begin...

It looks like the answer. Of course, you'd prefer a new one, but cash is tight. So you wander around it, peer into the engine with what you hope is the look of rugged experience, confide that the, er, tappets look fine, switch the radio on and off, kick one of the tyres and buy it. Shortly afterwards, the regrets begin...

HMCS Windsor, one of four submarines bought by Canada from Britain, doesn't have any wheels, but, that apart, the scenario sounds remarkably similar; it has even been described as, yes, a bargain. On the trip over, they had to fix a leak with masking tape and a bin bag. Another bit of faulty equipment was fixed by a sharp rap from a hockey stick.

Now it's sprung another leak on exercise. And, with that old second-hand luck, a flick of the wrong switch has required the crew to bale out 500 gallons of seawater with empty yoghurt cups. What's to be done? Perhaps the UN could assume a sort of AA inspection role in such cases. Until then, we'd keep the hockey stick handy.

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