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-A torpedo tube launched version of the Soviet SSN-X-21 land attack cruise missile is expected to be in service in 1984, as noted in Jane’s Defense Reviewt Vol 4, No. 8, 1983. This weapon “makes every Soviet submarine a potential strategic weapons carrier”. The article also says, “It is believed that the first Soviet warships to be fitted to carry these missiles {like Tomahawk) will be Yankee class vessels which have been withdrawn from service as ballistic missile submarines”. The weapons are “considered to be armed solely with nuclear warheads, with a yield in the 200 KT range”. Also, that “its accuracy is considered to be better than the 1-2 miles of the previous generation of Soviet cruise missiles”.

-An AP wire note of 15 May notes that the current Jane’s Defense Weekly shows a photo of the new Soviet Oscar-class 14,000-ton, missile-firing submarine with its 24 tubes for SS-N-19 antiship missiles, and “what naval specialists believe is a towed sonar system”. The Oscar’s missiles are credited with a range of 833 miles, and it is believed “pose a significant threat to NATO convoys”.

-On March 21, 1984, a Soviet nuclear-powered Victor I class attack submarine collided with the U.S. aircraft carrier Kitty Hawk in the Sea of Japan. Although, the Kitty Hawk’s task group had purportedly held contact off and on with this submarine for a considerable period of time, when it surfaced under the Kitty Hawk the carrier had lost contact with the sub and the Soviet boat was evidently uncertain as to Kitty Hawk’s location. The Soviet sub steamed off under its own power while the damage to Kitty Hawk, at first considered to be slight, required docking repairs.

-An article in Defense Weekly, March 26, 1984, by Richard Barnard, comments on the Kitty Hawk-Soviet sub collision and ASW conditions in the Pacific. In comparing Pacific ASW conditions versus those of the Atlantic, the author notes that in the Pacific “tracking Delta Ills” (Soviet SSBNs) has proven a far more onerous task. The location of the subs is unknown for unacceptable periods of time, (due to the Navy’s lesser surveillance capabilities in the Pacific). “To make matters worse”, the author says, “the Delta does not   represent  the  epitome  of  Soviet quieting.The Oscar cruise missile sub and the Victor III attack boat are far better”.

-The Indian Government has taken up an option to buy four German Type 209 submarines from HDW after ordering two more for delivery in 1986. (The 209 is the type of diesel electric submarine used in the Falklands War by the Argentines.)

-Aerospace Daily of 14 March 1984 tells of unclassified testimony given by RAdm. John L. Butts to the Congress. Butts is quoted as saying that Soviet emphasis on under-the-ice submarine operations seems to be aimed at “ensuring survival of enough SSBNs to constitute a formidable strategic reserve in war. “In their view” according to Butts, “the ice pack eliminates two threats– air and surface attack.” And they can “make maximum use of the material obstacle presented by acoustic conditions there.” Butts also reportedly said that Soviet shipbuilding trends include a shift in priority from SSBNs to large numbers of nuclear powered attack subs and emphasis on larger subs– that can carry more weapons and operate away from their bases for longer periods”. Interestingly, Butts notes that “Doctrinal differences in readiness, lead to the regular deployment of a small percentage of Soviet naval forces, about 15~ away from their home waters. To the Soviets it’s more important to be ready to go to sea than to be at sea.” (The sudden and rapid deployment of 90 subs and about 200 Soviet ships in the massive fleet exercise held in April would confirm this capability.) Butts further comments, that Soviet readiness philosophy emphasizes maintenance and in-area training rather that extended at-sea operations. And, that their in-area training exercises “feature weapon firings at very high rates”. Additional subjects addressed were: a) A new sub-launched ballistic missile, the SS-N-23 was put into flight testing in 1983, (A bigger missile than the SS-N-20 of the Typhoon with bigger warhead and greater range); b) The Soviet space program “will assume an even more important role in the navy’s ocean surveillance and over-the-horizon targeting efforts “as subs with new, longer range missiles enter the Soviet fleet”; c) The Soviets are believed to be “working on two submarine-launched, surface-to-air missile systems.” d) A Soviet, Extremely Low Frequence (ELF) system for communications with submerged submarines “has been  in development for some time”. (The U.S. Navy’s ELF system with a transmitter in Wisconsin has been under test for many years.) -Sea Power magazine of May 19ij4 notes in their First repeater column that the Soviets face the same obsolescence problem for their warships as that faced by the u.s. in the ’60’s and early ’70’s. Whole classes of cruisers, destroyers and submarines are reaching the end of their 20-30 year operational lives, it is noted. For example: “Over 80% of diesel-powered attack submarines are 20 years old or more.”

-In a Sea Power interview with General Vessey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staffs, General Vessey notes that Soviet military spending is increasing, despite reports to the contrary, but that the rate of increase seems to be slowing. (The cost o~viet submarine new construction seems to be increasing year by year, while a slow down in this increase is less evident.)

-A Jack Anderson column in the Washington Post of 8 June 1984, says that “a CIA report notes one important use of trained dolphins is to attach intelligence collection packages and other devices to enemy submarines.” (Ed. Note: The “other devices” probably implies tattle-tale markers for keeping enemy submarines localized.) The column also claimed that dolphins were used in the Vietnam War to destroy enemy frogmen– demolition experts. And that 60 North Vietnamese were killed by dolphins, armed with hypodermic needles attached to C02 cartridges.

-The U.S.S. Minneapolis-Saint Paul (SSN 708) with Commander Ralph Schlichter as CO was commissioned on 10 March 1984 at the Sub Base, New London. The USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716) and 27th of the 688-class submarines, with Captain Richard Itkin as CO, was commissioned on 12 Hay 1984 at the Naval Station, Norfolk. The Hyman G. Rickover (SSN 709) is to be commissioned on 21 July 1984.

-An Environmental Impact Statement on the disposal of defueled submarine reactor plants was released by the Navy on 4 June 1984. This EIS identifies land burial of the spent reactors at Federal waste disposal sites as the preferred option over deep sea  disposal.

-The u.s.s. Seadragon (SSN 584) of 2ij50 tons was decommissioned on 12 June at the Sub Base, Pearl Harbor. The 24-year old submarine pioneered the exploration of the North Pole region. Under the Captaincy of Commander George Steele, Jr., in August of l960 Seadragon made a first submerged transit of the Northwest Passage. Seadragon steamed more than 500,000 miles during her 24-years of service and was refueled three times.

-The CNO, Adm. James D. Watkins, was the principal speaker at the Submarine School, New London, graduation ceremonies on 30 March 1984. Admiral Watkins concluded his remarks with the thought that, “A credible maritime strategy of peace through strength would be impossible without our submarine force.” Some 100 submarine officers graduated from the basic and advanced courses at the Submarine School.

-Ground was broken on 28 March at Groton for the USS Nautilus Memorial and Submarine Force Library     and   Museum.       The  Memorial    is    expected     to open to the public in 1986. Nautilus, decommissioned at Mare Island in 1980, will be returned to Groton in 1985– where she was built at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics in 1954, and homeported for the next 25 years.

-In April the Deep Submergence Vehicle Sea Cliff (DSV 4) tested her new titanium hull to a 15,000 foot depth. Her previous steel hull was replaced by a titanium one at the naval shipyard , Vallejo. Her 20,000 foot operating depth capability allows exploartion of 98% of the world’s ocean floor.

-Trieste II (DSV  1),  the  Navy’s  first  deep submersible was inactivated on 17 May. In 1960, Trieste went to a record setting depth of 35,800 feet in the Challenger Deep. At her inactivation, Adm. Watkins the CNO noted in a dispatch that “During a 26 year career you (Trieste) have recovered millions of dollars worth of valuable equipment, earned several unit commendations, performed hundreds of unique scientific studies and ushered in a new era of submarine technology …

-The Patrick Henry (SSBN 599) was decommissioned on 25 May after 23 years of active service. The Patrick Henry built at Electric Boat Co. was the second “Skipjack” class nuclear powered attack submarine to be converted to a strategic ballistic missile submarine– an SSBN. At her decommissioning, Adm. Foley, CincPacFlt noted: “That her missiles were never fired in anger is ample evidence of the success of her mission”, (deterrence of nuclear war).

-Your Editor attended the Memorial Day service on 28 May at the Sub Base, Pearl Harbor. In a stirring, nostalgic ceremony with Captain George R. Stubbs, CO of the Sub Base as the principal speaker, the submariners who were lost on the 52 boats that went down during World War II were “remembered” and “honored”. Before a wall containing lei-draped bronze plaques of each of the 52 subs– each plaque inscribed with the names of the submariners lost in action– and at the foot of a white obelisk which clearly marks the location of this Memorial, Captain Stubbs concluded his remarks by saying, ”We must refine the art of submarining to ensure our readiness so that we will not add a single submarine plaque to this memorial through not being ready for combat … A bell was tolled as the name of each lost submarine was read.

Writing for the Submarine Review is a labor of love  for the Submarine Profession and the Submarine Service. However, the Board of Directors approved the awarding of three honorariums for the past year for articles published in the Review. The selection of articles for this recognition was based on their contribution to the objectives of the Naval Submarine League and to the profession of submarining.

The distinguished articles selected for the first year of the Submarine Review were: Hamlin Caldwell’s Arctic Submarine Warfare; Frank Andrews 1 , The Evolution of SubDevGroup Two; and Richard Laning’s, Submarine Command in Transition

Also , a maximum of three distinguished articles will be selected annually by a committee from within the NAVAL SUBMARINE LEAGUE Symposium. An honorarium of up to $400 may accompany each In general, one article per year will be selected to receive the maximum honorarium, and the others a lesser amount.


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