NATO naval forces held an exercise in October to test defenses of offshore oil rigs from enemy submarine and bomber attack. Five countries took part in this exercise. Canada’s Co1111lodore John Harwood, tactical commander of the operation, said, “Oil rigs are sitting ducks. You have to put a lot more effort into their defense.”
The USS Robert E. Lee (SSBN 601) and USS Thomas A Edison (SSBN 610) are being decommissioned on 1 December 1983, as reported in a NAVOP of 26 November 1983. “The nuclear attack submarines, homeported in Bangor, WA, are more than 21 years old and at the end of their service life.”
Aerospace Daily of Thursday, October 6, 1983, reports that, “The Pentagon believes that a satellite system for blue-green laser communications with submarines would provide little increase in the average data throughput attainable with the ELF system it is developing in Wisconsin and Michigan. This is because the ELF system can be used continuously to all areas while the laser beam would have to scan large ocean areas in order to avoid disclosing the general location of the submarines with which it was co1111unicating. The low data rate received continuously (by ELF) and the high data rate received intermittently (by the blue-green laser system) deliver similar throughput. The laser system is expected to cost considerably more and entail much greater technological risk.”
The USS John c. Calhoun (SSBN 630) was the winner of the U.S. Atlantic Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine Outstanding Performance Award for 1983. The Award was presented by Vice Admiral Bernard Kauderer, ComSubLant.
The Henry B. Jackson (SSBN 730) was launched at General Dynamics’ Electic Boat Division on 15 October 1983. The Honolulu (SSN 718) was launched at Newport News Shipbuilding & Drydock Company on 24 September 1983. The USS Portsmouth (SSN 707) was commissioned at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard on 1 October 1983, and the USS Buffalo (SSN 715) was commissioned at the U.S. Naval Station Norfolk on 5 November 1983.
A recent report by U.S. scientists on massive nuclear bombing effects indicates that if about 5,000 megatons of nuclear bombs were employed by both sides, a “nuclear winter” would result. Temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere would drop as much as 80° Fahrenheit and this chill would last for many lllOnths destroying all crops and most animals. The weather disaster could quickly spread to the Southern Hemisphere, as well, and radiation effects appear to be 10 times what had previously been estimated. Soviet scientists confirm these results in independent studies which they have conducted and conclude that a nuclear war would cause a global climatic catastrophe. In effect, these studies indicate that a massive nuclear exchange can only result in disaster for both sides. Thus, the assumption by the Soviet military that they can fight and win a big nuclear war is apparently ill-founded. With no possible winners, the futility of a nuclear arms race should be more apparent and arms control agreements become more likely.
A Soviet Victor III class submarine was observed floundering in the seas 200 miles west of Bermuda on November 3rd. The sub could barely aake any headway in the heavy seas, due apparently to a power plant failure. Later it was towed to Cuba. Three of this 6,000 ton class have been launched so far this year. The Victors are nuclear attack submarines powered by two reactors and .ake over 30 knots of speed. The distinctive pod mounted on the after stabilizer is apparently for the towing and housing of a linear array. The Victors are credited with carrying SS-N-15 nuclear tipped weapons like the U.S. SUBROC.
A go-ahead has been given by the Defense Resources Board for a new nuclear attack submarine program to commence in 1985. The Board authorized the Navy to start on preliminary designs for this SSN “to ensure our present acoustic superiority” . . . . over the projected Soviet submarine threat of the 1990s. Construction of the lead ship, which is to be faster, larger and quieter than the 688s, is to begin in 1989, with the first boats sent to the fleet in 1994.
An article in the September 1983 Proceedings by Captain Charles Pease, USN, Sink the Navy, has received a great deal of press interest and publicity–mainly centered around his thought that submersible aircraft carriers could revolutionize combat at sea. However, Pease pragmatically suggests that the near-term evolution towards a submersible Navy should more likely involve logistic support ships of the Fleet–oilers, ammunition ships, etc. This need to submerge the Navy, Pease feels, stems from the susceptibility of surface ships to destruction by guided missiles (as evidenced in the Falklands War) as well as damage from nuclear near misses. He is particularly concerned with the lack of protection of surface ships against the effects of enhanced radiation weapons, nuclear fallout and electromagnetic pulse effects on a ship’s electronic systems.
An article in the New York Times of Nov. 20, 1983, indicates that the ELF (Extremely Low Frequency) communication system provides a good means of communications–even if of low data rate–to all u.s. submarines under the polar icecap. Vice Admiral Gordon Nagler, Director of the Navy’s Coaaand and Control Office, is quoted as saying, that the ELF system was tested last SUDIIIler on a submarine under the North Pole ice field, and an operational capability was thus demonstrated.”
By a vote of 55 for and 36 against, the Senate restored the $336 million in the FY ’84 budget for long lead time items to support the acquisition of four SSNs in FY ’86.
An article in Defense Week, 14 November 1983, by Harold Agnew, former director of Los Alamos National Laboratory, argues for “adding protection to our in-port submarine fleet (SSBNs) at existing or at future port facilities.” Mr. Agnew notes that Secretary Weinberger visited submarine pens in Finland and Sweden which are dug into rock mountains, have closable portals for blast protection and which can withstand anything except a direct hit by a multimegaton nuclear warhead. The U.S., he feels, has the construction capability to build structures for our in-port submarines which could give similar protection–even for nuclear explosions at sea which could create tsunamis (tidal wave) which could beach the in-port SSBNs. At any one time, Agnew says, “Approximately half of our (SSBN) force is in port” and thus “2500 warheads are at risk froa an enemy attack, even a conventional attack.” Be emphasizes that “clearly. hardened port facilities . . . should be taken seriously . . . . if 100 MXs carrying 300 warheads, and 1,000 Midgetmen with their 1,000 warheads make a difference to the credibility of our strategic nuclear deterrent.”