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One of the brightest ideas the Submarine Force has ever had was the formation or a permanent special-mission team which employed operating submarines and was called the Submarine Development Group.

In 1945 when World War II ended, the U.S. Submarine Force could take credit for two-thirds or all Japanese merchant ships and one-quarter or all their warship tonnage either sunk or damaged. Yet, the Sub Force’s 55,000 officers and men represented less than 1.5% or the entire u.s. Navy in WW II (a Navy or 4.2 million men). Nevertheless, following the War, the u.s. Submarine Force was said to no longer have a mission. The Soviet Navy at that time did not appear to be emphasizing surface ships. Instead it was expanding its already large Submarine Navy. But sinking submarines, then, was considered to be a job for maritime aircraft’ aircraft or jeep carriers and destroyers. Radar and aircraft drove submarines down while active sonar was then used to search out and destroy them.

Submarine Development Group Two, or the DEVGROUP was formed in 1949 to “solve the problem or using submarines to detect and destroy enemy submarines.” It was a necessary response if submarines were to continue to make a Navy contribution.

The central theme of this article is simple when a good thing gets going, encourage it!

To justify this declaration, the history of the DEVGROUP is recounted and its present direction is shown. Not only was my experience as a DEVGROUP Commander and skipper of a DEVGROUP boat, the K-1, drawn on, but former DEVGROUP Commanders and other senior submariners were interviewed on this subject. As Captain Frank Lynch, a PCO Instructor in the early fifties, told the author, “One’s memory is apt to be self serving.” So, for the many alumni of the DEVGROUP (at least 10,000) who might read this, I ask your tolerance if your perceptions are not presented accurately and properly.

Pre-War/Post-War Preliminaries

Before W II, submariners were working on the bearings-only sonar approach for use below periscope depth. Target motion analysis was undeveloped, forcing many a CO to periscope depth for a “quick peek” before firing an exercise fish. Frank Lynch said that as early as 1940, he and others were playing with the use of time-bearing rate as a means for finding a correct firing solution. At the start of WW II, showing periscope for  10-12  seconds  was  quite  feasible without the enemy tending to see it.The bearings-only approach was thus quickly forgotten because it was not needed.The periscope with its stadimeter was the major source of input for tracking a target.

In 1946 it was evident that there would be no budget bucks for submarines unless they could be put to a meaningful use. Roy Benson, later ComSubPac, remembers some of the submarine officers who were involved in the first Submarine Conferences to determine the future of U.S. submarines.            “Gin Styer, the Assistant to Op  03, presided over the Conferences. Vice Admiral Lockwood , ComSubPac for most or WW II , at tended. Other members included Admiral Jimmy Fife, John Scott, Carl Hensel, Dave White, Joe Grenfell, Swede Momsen Sr., and Dan Daspit.” Daspit, the Director of the Submarine Warfare Branch of Op 31, was one of the main forces in creating the ASW mission for submarines. Important ideas presented and debated in those early years included small, mass-produced killer subs, a new acoustic homing torpedo, the conversion of Fleet boats to the streamlined structures or the German Type XXI boats with bigger batteries for this conversion {the GUPPY) and, finally, the atomic-powered submarine. The snorkel and array sonar found on the Type XXI boats were also earmarked for inclusion into the design or the small SSK killer sub and GUPPY.

A significant event derived from the Conferences was the establishment of a CNO project called “KAYO.” The Chief or Naval Operations in 19~9 directed that the Fleet Commanders assign one division in each fleet to this sole task: “Their mission shall be to solve the problem or using submarines to detect and destroy enemy submarines. All other operations of any nature, even type training, ASW services or fleet tactics shall be subordinated to this mission.”

Project KAYO was designed  to solve the Submarine versus Submarine problem. Division 72, at Pearl Harbor , received the Pacific assignment while a brand new Division, SUBDEVGROUP Two, was established in the Atlantic. The former, without special consideration devolved back to its status of  a regula operating Division.   The  latter expanded to its  present status,becoming DEVELOPMENT  SQUADRON  TWELVE.

Early Days

Roy Benson was the first DEVGROUP Commander. The group consisted of two Fleet-boats and two GUPPIES. It was commissioned in Key West, Florida, in Hay 1949. In July 1949, it left on its first SS vs. SS exercise in the Norwegian and Barents  Sea.Examining the  playing  area of  a potential Soviet-u.s. engagement and u.s. interaction with the Brits were the key objects of the exercise. One of the DEVGROUP boats, the USS COCHINO, was lost on the trip home from a battery explosion fire. Experimental underwater telephones on the four boats in the exercise were instrumental in allowing the submerged COCHINO to pass an early alert of trouble to the other DEVGROUP boats” HALFBEAK was later added to the DEVGROUP as a replacement for COCHINO, and the group was assigned a permanent home in New London.

Captain Chester Bruton, a New London based Squadron Commander, gave Benson his first headquarters — a spare waterfront office not otherwise being used by Bruton’s own staff. Bruton also advised Benson to ask the Underwater Sound Lab, down the river, to check out the JT sonars on all DEVGROUP boats. As a result, two topside arrays were found to be grounded out and two others had missing baffles. An appreciation of the dual hardware-tactics approach to the SSK problem was also fully underway.

Benson was highly successful in establishing a feeling of welcome for University and Government scientists who were interested in the DEVGROUP mission.This interaction with  the scientific community has continued to the present. Early devotees to a study of the SS vs. SS problem were Allen Vine and Bill Shavill of Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute; Joe Worzel from Columbia University’s Lamont Geological Laboratory; Fred Spiess from Scripps Oceanographic Institute; Walt Clearwa ters , Harold Nash and J. W. Horton from the Underwater Sound La boratory; and Aubrey Pryce and Marvin Lasky from the Office of Naval Research. Lasky, in particular, received two top SeeDer awards for his work in bringing about towed arrays.

The assumed threat in the early days of the DEVGROUP was a cavitating, snorkelling 8-knot submarine which was transiting with occasional zigs. Sounds easy? But detection ranges in those days by JT sonar (a topside line transducer) were like 4000 to 7000 yards on a good day. The real problem at that time was to get a tracking solution and a good shot off, before the target got by.

The  short    detection  ranges  were  mostly  a  direct result of very high sonar self-noise. The rattling of top-side rigging, (typical of Fleet-boat design), the turbulance from hundreds of protuberances; and the noisy auxiliary machines all combined to blank out a signal. The technical community quickly recommended hovering and shutting down every last piece of machinery not absolutely needed. This included ventilation blowers, AC-DC motor-generators, and especially air conditioning compressors and fresh water stills. It was a submariner’s badge of honor to be unwashed and unkept, but one also had to be quiet — no loud talk or wrench-dropping. “Ultra-quiet” was the name given to a complete machinery shut-down. At ultra-quiet, a Fleet boat could detect the 8-knot snorkeller at the magnificant range of 12,000 yards. It was a grand beginning, but still too many targets got byl

Barney Sieglaff, a former COMSUBPAC, was the next DEVGROUP Commodore. Barney taught the sonar equation to those in the Submarine Force who were ready to listen. One had to be “ready to listen” because decibels were not exactly things that senior naval officers were comfortable with in those days. Barney took a travelling team, including Charlie Bishop (later CO of NOSC), on a tour of the entire Submarine Force to generate interest, enthusiasm, and support for the Submarine ASW mission.

The competition at that moment was twofold: first, there was a simple ignorance of what was possible with array sonar, noise quieting, time-bearing plots and acoustic torpedoes; and second, there was over-attention to peacetime considerations like upkeep and services to the surface ASW Community. The enormous overseas commitment had not yet started. However, the proto-type killer boat K-1 was under construction at Electric Boat in Groton, as was the Tang/Trigger class. And although the battle for nuclear power was still going on in Washington, the new BQR-4 array sonar was about to arrive in the Fleet.

On Barney Sieglaff’s tour and later on that of Earl Hydeman (of Hydeman’s Hell Cats fame – Sea of Japan 1945), the amazing performance of the BQR-4 was clearly proven at sea in Fleet exercises. USS K-1, off Bermuda in 1952, picked up a snorkelling exercise submarine at 30 miles, a range previously unknown to me, its co, and my Fire Control party. The K-1 stayed at battle stations for five hours expecting every minute, after the first 15 minutes of tracking , for the bearing-rate to break and the target to go by. Can you imagine it? JT ranges 4000 to 10 , 000 yards until 1952; and then in one Fleet exercise period, BQR-4 ranges out to 30 miles. The word, “convergence zone,” moreover, didn’t exist in any one’s vocabulary at that time!

Over  the next several years, VP /SSK tactics gained immense popularity. The SSK made detections with its big ears and the VP aircraft provided the mobile  attack unit.  A VECTAC, passed via mast-antenna from the sub, sent the VP out on a bearing to surprise and attack a snorkelling target. As late as the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962, SUBLANT’s war plans called for a barrier of diesel SSKs and LANTFLT maritime aircraft off Argentia , New Foundland, to stop Soviet submarines enroute to East Coast operating areas.

By the late sixties, however, nuclear power and the decrease in numbers or diesel submarines changed this thinking significantly.

What’s  Unchanged?    What’s  New?

Since 1964 many hundreds or military and civilians have contributed significantly to the DEVGROUP ‘s mission, providing the virtue or continuity and single purposeness. The proof or this lies in today’ s competency or nuclear attack boats to use the BQQ-5 sonar, the HK 117 Fire Control, the MK 48 torpedo, and passive ranging to detect, track and sink other submarines. The proof is in the submarine operator’s knowledge or propagation loss and sea noise; the proof is in the NAVSEA/NSRDC machinery sound isolation and flow-noise reduction programs; the proof is in the NWP 70 series publications which document the Sub vs. Sub knowledge.

Of great significance to the submarine force was the introduction of nuclear power which provided a submarine with speed and endurance that allowed it to undertake new ASW roles not permitted the diesel submarine. From the late 1960’s onward, the DEVGROUP was in the forefront of the development or new submarine ASW concepts – – such as SOSUS-aided intercepts or submarines in direct support or the CVBG. Other highly classified ASW techniques were developed through a OOIIbination of innovative thinking, objective analysis, and carefUlly managed exercises.

The DEVGROUP’s history of 34 years can be divided into three eras. The first from 1949 to 1959 was the exploitation of the battery driven submarine. The next, from 1960 to 1974, covered the Tactical Analysis Group (TAG), full arrival of nuclear submarines, the towed array, and the HK 48. The last, from 1974 to the present, comprises the NWP 70 series, transition to SSN 688 boats, and renewed emphasis on normal squadron responsibilities. Throughout these eras, the paper (and later computer) analysis of tactics, the conduct and reconstruction of SS vs. at-sea exercises to obtain real data, and the promulgation of lessons learned, have held top priority.

In the second era, a formal Tactical Analysis Group (TAG) was established within the DEVGROUP. This led to the assignment of civilian analysts to the starr. In 1965, there were three civilians assigned; by 1976 this number had grown to 13, and today there are 32 civilians (out of a total of 73 staff). In second era, the Big Daddy series of exercises were initiated by Mike Moore, with Bill Pugh and Charlie Woods accelerating the work. Data for use by OPNAV in selling nuclear submarines was a driving feature of Big Daddy. Proof of the SSN 594 1s capability to sink Russian nuclear submarines was the even greater motive. Hilt McFarland, later CO of NUSC, was head of the TAG in 1967. Hac says “Big Daddy” got its name from big Don Whitmire, an-all American tackle for Navy in 1943/44, and head of the TAG when the Big Daddy exercises were organized. During the aecond era, the SECNAV awarded two meritorious unit commendations to the ataff of the DEVGROUP for contributions to Submarine ASW.

The third era,  still underway,  has  the DEVGROUP re-emphasizing normal squadron responsibilitiea. The Group  has  always  been considered a major command, going back to the first era. Then, it was responsible for both the administration and operational readiness of its boats. In the third era, the Commodores have felt the increasing pressure, both self-imposed as well as from the outside, to give more of their personal attention to these normal squadron concerns. Yet the DEVGROUP continues to retain a heavy workload associated with its original Sub vs. Sub mission. Promulgation of “lessons learned” has grown into a massive program of writing, editing, and producing the entire Naval Warfare Publication 70 series on Submarine Warfare. Bob Austin, now Rear Admiral and head of Naval Technical Training, initiated this .

The curent organization of DEVRON 12’s staff reflects a balanced approach. Under a Director of Tactical Analysis, the SSN 688 class Tactical Development and Assessment Program is being executed. Submarine ASW exercises (SUBASWEX) are conducted in a free-play ocean environment. Range Exercises (RANGEX) are conducted at-sea but under more controlled conditions to optimize long-range localization and tracking capabilities. A variety of other projects are also conducted — associated with automatic data-recording and reconstruction, BQQ-5 active and passive sonar tactics, and search theory. Under a director of Tactical Systems, development of operational procedures and tactics for all the latest individual submarine combat systems takes place. This includes weapons like the HK ~8-4, HK 48 ADCAP, HARPOON and ‘l’OHAHAWK missiles; sonar system developments of the BQQ-5 and BQR-22A; changes in the MK 117 affected by the addition of cruise missiles; and electromagnetic systems in support of over-the-horizon targeting. This work includes a significant interaction with industry’s technical community, and the Naval Laboratory organization. Under the Coordinator of Tactical Documentation, the vast library of NWP 70 series publications are produced.

During the third era, DEVGROUP Two became DEVRON 12. The confusion between SUBMARINE GROUP TWO (two squadrons or submarines) and Submarine Development Group Two drove this decision, as did the desire to reemphasize the squadron-responsibilities or the Group.

The relationship between hardware and tactics in the DEVGROUP’s history deserves special emphasis. Operational problems are solved by technical and tactical solutions. Both have been emphasized throughout the DEVGROUP, with sometimes one receiving more attention than the other. Nevertheless, a multitude or significant submarine hardware concepts have gone to sea early in their development. Examples include the UQC underwater telephone; the BQR-4 and the BQR-2 arrays; a vertically steerable array sponsored by USN/USL which lead to the BQS-6 spherical dome; digital multi-beam steering (DIMUS) which first appeared on HARDHEAD in 1960; passive ranging in the form or PUFFS; acoustic communications called SESCO and SPUME; the Spectral Dynamics Inc. analysis equipment for use with both hull and towed arrays; and or course the first towed arrays themselves.

The    first era  appeared to be oriented  more towards hardware. Array sonars had to be made tully operational in this period. The second era initially swung to a scientific approach to tactical       development. The Tactical  Analysis Group (TAG) was the result. When Jack Fagan arrived at the DEVGROUP as Commodore, the SSN had been sold as a major member or the Navy’s ASW team. It was then time to get back to specific combat system problems. Fagan restored the balance which appears to be maintained into the present era. Guy Sharrer, who relieved Fagan, put this impor tant balance into perspective as tollows: “Should the DEVGROUP go out or business, it is likely that tactical development will  continue  through individual squadron interest. However, without a DEVGROUP, the necessary technical development that supports tactical development suffers. No average submarine squadron can match the special technical capabilities that have been amassed in the DEVRON/DEVGROUP over many years.”

So What?

The DEVGROUP has had its share of critics as well as admirers. In 1959, there was a move to absorb the DEVGROUP into the Operational Development Force (presently OPTEVFOR) ” OPTEVFOR had the job of evaluating new fleet hardware (including documentation of tactics); VX-1 was its VP-air arm, SURASDEVDET was its surface arm, and SUBDEVGROUP Two was its sUbiiBrine ana. Ray Dubois, Commodore at the time, fought off the enemy by pointing out the continuing need for total submarine system tactical evaluation and development.

The Submarine Force itself has not always had a love affair with its DEVGROUP. The SSBN role held the major attention of senior submariners. This led some to consider all other roles as secondary. That the Soviets have used their submarines as defensive tools in their own home waters led others to believe (in 1962) that a “Battle-of-the-Atlantic” involving Soviet submarines would never re-occur. Submarine  ASW  was thereforehardly to be taken seriously. Always, with increased overseas submarine commitments, there seemed to be cause for de-commissioning the DEVGROUP. The 1977 conversion to a full operating squadron is a reaction in part to these pressures. Those in favor or eliminating the DEVGROUP suggested a rorce-wida responsibility to develop submarine ASW tactics. Unfortunately, when everyone is supposed to do something, frequently no ones does it well

As in all organizations there are periods of intense innovation followed by equally important periods of consolidation and preparation for the next sprint forward. The DEVGROUP /DEVRON is now poised for the next big push. The TOMAHAWK Land Attack Missile, SSN 688, SUBACS, and the next generation SSN require a DEVRON ready with innovative personnel and top level support to realize the full potential of this hardware.

The “So-What?” for the DEVGROUP is: when a good thing gets going — encourage it!

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