FROM THE PRESIDENT
This issue of the Submarine Review should reach you prior to our Second Annual Submarine League
Symposium on 1 May 1984. In this issue, as with previous issues, there are questions raised about
the directions being taken by today’s submarine force as well as how the Submarine League might be
of benefit in helping to realize the submarine goals being pursued by the Navy. To this end, this symposium will again provide briefings from leading submariners of major commands–in an
attempt to provide detailed insight into the problems of today’s submarine force. It is hoped that these briefings will provide a closer working relationship between League members and the active duty Navy as well as develop an understanding of areas of mutual interest where the expertise and
influence of Submarine League members may be usefully applied to today’s submarine problems.
The growth of our League membership has not been as fast as was optimistically predicted last year.
We are still not at the “1984 by ’84” mark. More effort is needed to get the word around that the
League has more than sociability goals and that through the Review and the Symposium the League is
accelerating its potential for usefulness. A broader membership, including submariners of foreign navies and now several Naval Academy midshipmen, is ensuring the diversity to make our League a must for those who believe in the future of submarines and who have great affection for the submarine past.
I am pleased to announce that John Drain has accepted the chairmanship of the Fact Book Committee and Dori Williams the chairmanship of the Speaker’s Package Committee. Both will need help so it is hoped that we can draw on our volunteer bank of names to not only help staff these committees but also other activity committees which are developing as the League increases its scope of interests.
The Naval Submarine Directory is being issued and will help you identify friends who are not
listed and who may not have heard about the League, and who are basically submariners at
heart, and who would want to join and participate in League activities.
I’m looking forward to seeing you at the May 1st meeting at the Sheraton-National, near good old
BUPERS. Don’t forget the warmup session on Monday evening preceding the Symposium.
FROM THE EDITOR
It would seem that, particularly now, there is a need for informing the public about submarine
matters. Four nuclear attack submarines and one Trident are in the FY 85 Budget. But with an
election year push to reduce the national deficit–some of it through cutbacks in defense
programs–the FY 85 submarine program might be cut, through sheer lack of public understanding of
why the United States needs even more submarines than have been budgeted.
The Soviet build-up in nuclear submarines is increasingly alarming. The new classes of submarines they are putting into the water are alarming for their advanced characteristics and the mission they imply. And, the preponderant part of the Soviet’s naval budget, which this new construction epresents, alerts one to the Soviet singleness of purpose for making their fleet predominantly one of submarines. U.S. Navy thinking–concerning 100 attack submarines of a single type being adequate to meet this threat–seems rooted in an earlier period of Soviet submarine design, production and
operations. It has been argued that the Soviets could not adequately man the great numbers of
nuclear submarines which they would attain if they continued at their rate of eight a year. But then
it appears that automation, along with simplification of functions for individual Soviet submarines, are being incorporated as the way to answer the manning problem. It is also argued that U.s. submarines can stay ahead of the game using their superior technology, despite having only one third as many submarines. But this argument relies on a superiority centered around a single area of submarine technologies–those used to produce submarine quietness and a related passive acoustic acquisition superiority . This raises the question of how the Soviets intend to capitalize on their areas of superiority to win a war at sea. The argument that the Soviets have incompetently lagged the U.S., in developing the most effective kind of submarines, may be true. But the United States is faced with the reality of Soviet submarines which are going to be used differently to take advantage of the superior
characteristics they possess as well as the superiority of numbers they enjoy.
One can argue for maintaining the “silent service” policy to best meet this growing and changing threat. But–borrowing from George Reedy’s recent lecture on free speech at Marquette University–“We forget that there are disadvantages to secrecy . . . .” Then he says, “1. Secrecy limits the number of minds that can be brought to bear on a problem . . . Men thinking in a closed circle can arrive at some extraordinarily stupid conclusions… 2. Secrecy has a tendency to break down the confidence of our people in government…. 3. Secrecy has a tendency to place us at a disadvantage in our dealings with . . . . (here Reedy used the words “other nations”, but the Silent Service would use “others”, implying the public, other government activities, etc.)…. 4. To the extent that we hamper publication, we hamper the advancement of knowledge.”
Published ideas involve risk since there are always some who don’t agree with what is proposed.
Yet, the advancement of submarine knowledge can be served by those who will express their thoughts and concerns despite the promise of little or no personal reward for their efforts. Those with
this interest in submarines and submarining–the hard core of the Submarine League–can benefit the
United States well through what they write for the Submarine Review.