This is an indicator of potential nuclear war. What the article is saying is that not since the 1980s has France sortied three-fourths of its boomer (SSBN or ballistic missile submarine) fleet at once. Usually, one will be deployed, one coming home/going out, one in port, and one in refit. Sending three out at once makes the majority of the nuclear force available to respond. Not that they can't do that from the dock, but that makes them vulnerable to an attack or a first strike. At sea, they are practically invisible and safe.
How serious is this indicator? I haven't worked up a scale but this is more than just talk. It is expensive to send three SSBNs out at once. Making veiled threats is talk. Disclosing that NATO is making plans is talk. A triple deployment that wears out men, creates three times maintenance when they come back in, and potentially raises tensions is not something you do lightly. On one hand, Macron may be making a prudent defensive move just in case things do go mushroom shaped with the Russians.
On the other hand, this could be a deterrence tactic to keep Putin from going nuclear. I'd like to think that Trump would be doing similar moves. He supposedly told Putin we'd bomb Moscow if he invaded Ukraine on his watch. Maybe we'd see boomers deploying from Bangor, WA, or Kings Bay, GA. Perhaps B-52s would be taking off at once and flying airborne nuclear patrols as they used to in the '50s and '60s (see Operation Chrome Dome). Nuclear readiness and moves like this have been part of deterrent strategy for seventy years now.
What would move me from "Huh, that's interesting," to "Maybe this is getting real," would be similar moves from other countries. The UK has four Trident missile subs themselves, the Vanguard class. If the UK sortied three or all four of their boomers, that would be concerning. The US sending out a conspicuous number of our Ohio class SSBNs or all of them that aren't totally torn apart for refitting would be a major sign something isn't right.
So right now, this is time to sit up and pay attention. I'm sure that if the US raised the DEFCON level (we're probably at 4, I'm guessing) and started increasing its nuclear posture for real, we'd hear leaks. It's hard to hide the fact that a nuclear missile submarine deployed. It is not time to panic, it's time to prepare while you still can. Whether or not WWIII breaks out this year or not, the window to get prepped for SHTF is closing. Soon inflation and shortages will make today's rising prices seem trivial.
Also, please buy my nuclear survival book. If you buy a digital copy, it will be updated with the latest revisions from the current emergency edition.
Author Don Shift
Don Shift is a veteran of the Ventura County Sheriff's Office and avid fan of post-apocalyptic literature and film who has pushed a black and white for a mile or two. He is a student of disasters, history, and current events.