There have been many challenges to our nuclear submarine program, along with the recommendation to go back to building diesel submarines. Having commanded a diesel boat and two nuclear submarines, building diesels could never by my choice.
It is, however, suggested that a hybrid might be developed which is basically a battery boat. with a constant charge from a smaller than a peak-load reactor. The load profile would be an erratic one but the reactor need only be sized to provide an average load. The battery should be big and should be sized with the main motor for peak loads. In this manner the peak average s accommodated by the battery using only a moderately sized reactor, which can be of more simple design because of its constant load operations. By decoupling the hull and propeller from any reduction gear, a super-quiet boat can be built.
This is suggested in lieu of going back to diesel boats. This kind of submarine could not. transit. as fast as the 688s but it could provide a quiet, effective submarine for appropriate missions. High speed transits make for maximum vulnerability.
One of our biggest problems in the utility nuclear industry is energy storage.Our nuclear generators produce energy at least cost. But, without adequate energy storage arrangements we have to design for peak loads. I believe a load averaging such as described above would be great for us in the utility business except that we could not economically afford the size and capacity of battery to do the job.
I learned a lot in Tullibee*; transit was the only place I needed more speed. Once on station it was the detection capability and the weapon capability that became my limits. I never felt that I had to run like blazes and bite the opponent. tn World War II, I was fighter director on an aircraft carrier where we always brought the fighter to the point where his machine guns could do the job. But with our current weapons there is no use in reverting to a fighter concept like that. We should let our weapons do the work and not jeopardize a whole boat and its people when it is not necessary.
(*Ed. Note: Tullibee is a small, low-speed nuclear submarine of 2500 shaft horse power.)