THIS WEBSITE IS SPONSORED BY PROGENY, A CORPORATE MEMBER OF THE NSL
- On Bill Buckley’s TV Program “Firing Line,” 24 June, the Science Advisor to the President Dr. George Keyworth, noted that the Soviets also had supersonic nuclear land attack cruise missiles on their attack submarines. (The u.s. announced the deployment at about the same time of the Tomahawk nuclear land attack missile on “at least two U.S. attack submarines.”) When Buckley questioned the speed of the Soviet missiles, Dr. Keyworth reassured Buckley that they were supersonic “of almost mach 3 speed.”
- Relative to the above item, a Washington Post article by Walter Pincus on June 26, 1984 notes that “The House last month attached an amendment to next year’s defense spending bill banning deployment of the sea-launched cruise ’11tssile until the Soviet Union deploys a similar wE-apons system.”
- Sea Power magazine of July 1984 notes that the Senate Armed Services Committee has directed the Secretary of Defense to report back on the pros and cons of building diesel-electric submarines in U.S. shipyards for friendly nations. This directive apparently stems from reports that the U.S. Navy has “frustrated attempts by the Israeli Navy to contract with U.S. builders for non-nuclear submarines.”The Committee at the sametime cautioned that such submarine construction, “Shall be limited to foreign designs only, and is not to be undertaken by the Navy’s own shipyards or in private yards presently engaged in building nuclear submarines for the U.S. Navy.”
- A major naval munitions storage depot at the Severomorsk naval base adjacent to Murmansk, is reported by Jane’s Defense Weekly to have exploded on 13 May with the loss of some 200 people. With destruction of this ammunition depot, the Soviet Northern Fleet reportedly lost two thirds of its stockpile of antiship and antiair missiles, torpedoes, and ASW ordinance. The effect of this disaster is believed to have crippled the Northern Fleet’s operation for the next six months and is “the greatest disaster to occur in the Soviet navy since the Second World War.” A later edition of Jane’s Defense Weekly listed six other major explosions at other Soviet bases in the last seven months, including one at the Severomorsk Naval Air Station and one at Wismar, East Germany on the Baltic Sea. The New York Times of July 11 additionally lists some of the weapon losses in the May 13th explosion at the Severomorsk base, as derived from Jane’s Defense Weekly – “About 320 of 400 SSN-3 and SS-N-12 long range antiship missiles” used by Echo submarines, “nearly all of about 80 SS-N-22 submarine-launched antiship missiles which are capable of carrying nuclear warheads” and “an undetermined number of SS-N-19 missiles — used by the Oscar Submarine.”
- An article by Richard Barnard in Defense Week of Monday, July 23rd lists nine new classes of attack, cruise missile and ballistic missile submarines which are expected to be produced by the Soviets by the year 2000. Barnard says, “According to Pentagon experts, these advances threaten to slash the U.S. Navy’s existing advantage in the combat effectiveness of attack subs. ” The new classes comprise ( 1) an improved Typhoon with a 6000 mile missile; (2)a cruise missile firing submarine of a third less tonnage than the Oscar and of 40 knots speed; (3) another SSGN with two nuclear reactors and “armed with land attack and antiship missiles and SS-NP-X homing torpedoes,”; (4) a 4000 ton diesel-electric sub with top speed of 20 knots and 1300 ft . operating depth and armed with “existing missiles and wake following torpedoes, ” ; ( 5) a diesel-electric with submerged speed of 24 knots and a new SS-NP-X missile; (6) a nuclear attack sub, possibly the Sierra recently “identified by the Pentagon,” of 7200 tons and armed with the SS-N- 21 cruise missile; (7) a 5000 ton nuclear attack boat with titanium double hulls, of over 49 knots, and operable at depths greater than 2000 feet, with tube-launched cruise missiles; (8) a 6900 ton, steel double hulled, nuclear attack boat with speed of 45 to 50 knots. (Ed. Note : these nine new classes represent only evolutionary changes to existing Soviet submarines and scarcely reflect the trends in Soviet submarines suggested by the Soviet Submarine Trends article in the April edition of the Submarine Review. For example: by the early ’90s, a projection of attack submarine trends would show a new small Soviet, SSN class of possibly a fiberglass hull, of about 2000 tons, with speed of about 60 knots and depth of about 4000 feet. Also, the follow-on to t:he Typhoon would have considerably more than 20 launch tubes. By the year 2000 such trends would lead to scarcely predictable, radical new classes — which if reflecting developments over the past sixteen years, would have little resemblance to an evolution of present submarines.)
- The New York Times of August 15 reports that an unidentified submarine dragged a British trawler around the English Channel after getting entangled in its nets. The Royal Navy guessed it was a Soviet sub or one from another Warsaw Pact country. The 34 ton trawler was dragged backward in various directions at speeds of up to three knots, despite the trawler making full speed ahead on her screws. After three hours of being towed . the crew was ordered to cut loose the trawler’s net. (Ed Note: See Dick Laning’s thoughts on how old Polaris boats might be used to deliberately net enemy submarines — in this issue.)
- The House Armed Services Committee in its committee report expressed concern that “The Soviet Union has demonstrated more capability in deploying new generation submarines within the past decade than the U.S.” “and has requested assurances from the s. Navy that its attack submarine development program will maintain a technological lead over similar Soviet submarines.” To this end, the committee has added $30 million to the ’85 budget “to advance the state of submarine technology in coatings, propulsion, hull design, construction, and new techniques to ensure that the new design attack submarine would maintain currency as the threat matures.”
- An article by Walter Andrews in the Washington Times of 16 August claims that the Soviets are able to detect U.S. subs by means of space-based radars. This new detection capability, the author claims, has been documented in reports from the Defense Intelligence Agency, US Air Force Intelligence and the National Security Agency. “For more than a year the Soviets have been conducting experiments — using synthetic aperture radars aboard the Salyut manned space station and special aircraft 00 to locate and track their own Delta-class ballistic missile submarines operating at depths of 200 to 300 feet off the coast of the Soviet Union.” Unidentified government sources are quoted as saying that “the advanced radar has the ability to detect surface ‘signatures’ caused by moving submerged structures or the currents moving over them.” One source said that the National Security Agency reports that “the U.S.S.R. has an operational space-based SSW detection capability,” despite other intelligence agency evaluations that an operational deployment of a space-based radar capability to detect deeply submerged submarines could still be a decade away. It is futher noted that the synthetic aperture radar demands a great deal of power which must necessarly be supplied by an onboard nuclear reactor.
- An article in the Wall Street Journal by Staff Reporter Gerald F. Seib, notes that the Navy expects to receive competitive proposals around the end of the year from General Dynamic’s Electric Boat Division and Tenneco’s Newport News Shipbuilding for the design of the new attack submarine — the SSN 21. This new submarine, to be first produced in 1989, “will be designed to operate more quietly than any submarine in the world and will carry twice as many weapons as the Los Angeles class submarines” – the 688s. The first unit is planned for completion in 1995 with 12 built by the turn of the century. The first SSN 21 will have 8 torpedo tubes and is expected to cost $1.6 billion. After the production of a fifth submarine the cost should be about $1 billion per submarine.
- An AP wire note on 16 August says that Supreme Court Justice J.P. Stevens refused to block the Navy from building ELF (extremely low frequency) facilities in Wisconsin and Michigan, despite an emergency request by State and local official to stop the Navy’s “Project ELF.” These officials have claimed that the ELF System’s electro-magnetic radiation could be harmful to humans and animals although studies of the system’s effects have proved the contrary. The ELF system provides low data-rate communications with submarines at least 400 feet below the water’s surface — enhancing their survivability in war.
- Tables derived by the Defense Intelligence agency on soviet weapons production, as reprinted in Aerospace Daily of August 31, 1984, show that between 1972 and 1983 the Soviets produced 2200 submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) and about 9500 antiship missiles for domestic use. And, that on a yearly basis, production of submarines and their weapons has been steady with only small fluctuations about 8 nuclear submarines, 200 SLBMs and 900 antis hip missiles per year.
- Janes’ Defense Weekly of January 1984 says that the u.S. has a sample of titanium hull from the Soviet’s Alfa-type submarine and that “whereas Soviet technicians have managed to make a weld (on this sample) in five passes, their American counterparts need 200 passes to do the same job.” A later Janes’ Defense Weekly of 19 May, shows a photograph of a surfaced Soviet Oscar submarine with its missile hatches for the 24 SS-N-19 antiship missiles “of a reported 445 Km range” and “a feature at the top of the rudder which could be a housing for a towed array sonar.”
- Defense Daily of August 23, notes that the U.S. Navy has a two-man underwater swimmer vehicle operational with Special Warfare Units in both fleets. The vehicle has the MK-35 torpedo. Rear Admiral Nyquist of the Navy’s Combat Systems Division is quoted as saying “The special warfare people can get in close to the beach and take under attack shipping that might be in the harbor, from some reasonable range so that they don’t hazard themselves (as underwater swimmers) in close.” The MK-lX vehicle is carried by a mother submarine.
- Recent launchings of submarines are: the U.S. S. PROVIDENCE, SSN-719 on 4 August; and the U.S.S. CHICAGO, SSN-721 on 13 October.Recent commissionings are:the U.S.S.H.G. RICKOVER, SSN-709, on 21 July; the U.S.S.H.M. JACKSON, SSBN-730 on 6 October; and the U.S.S. OLYMPIA, SSN-717 on 10 November.
- The U.S.S. BONEFISH, SS-582, one of four remaining diesel submarines celebrated her 25th anniversary on 9 July. A Barbel class submarine, she is the only conventional submarine now operating on the East Coast and is homeported in Charleston, S.C.She is commanded by LCDR James Struble , USN.
- Launched from a submerged submarine off the coast of Southern California, on 25 July a Tomahawk conventional land attack missile with live warhead, for the first time flew more than 400 miles to an inshore target and impacted on a concrete structure with its 1,000 lb “Bull Pup” warhead .
© 2022 Naval Submarine League