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From the President

The Holiday season is past, but I still want to wish all Submarine League members. “good health and success in this new year of 1985.”

The Submarine Review has increasingly provided a sound reference base for supplying information needed to educate the public on the value of today’s submarine force. To augment the League’s programs for informing the public on vital submarine issues, in addition to the Submarine Review’s material, HADM Paul Tomb, USN(Ret.) is heading up ate~ to get out a Fact Book by the spring of 1985 and Dori Williams’ group is preparing a Speaker’s Package of submarine educational films and 35 mm slide presentations for early check-out. Both efforts should be well underway before our next Annual Symposium in June.

However, even more important than the Submarine Review’s information function for providing material for speakers and developers of submarine papers as well as spreading an interest in submarines to the civilian community — is its value to the submarine community as an organ of discussion for advancing the professional expertise of submariners in their development of the art of submarining. Gratifyingly, we are seeing a growing recognition within the submarine community that the medium of the Submarine Review is a valuable aid for dynamically increasing the quality and effectiveness of an already highly regarded profession — one faced with the steadily increasing threat of a potential enemy which places .a major reliance on submarines.

The Annual Symposium and Business Meeting are scheduled for 19-20 June, 1985 at the new Radisson Mark Plaza Hotel and Convention Center in Alexandria, Va. A one-half day classified briefing session is scheduled on the 19th with the all-day Symposium on the 20th. It is hoped that out-of-towners will stay at the Radisson Mark to better insure the success of our social functions during that period. So start planning for these events.

Finally, the League has added 832 new members to the roster in 1984 — which puts us well past our goal set two years ago of 1984 members in 1984.


From the Editor

A nationally prominent person who should be authoritative about this subject, said that if the U.S. went to war against the Soviets that within a few days the U.S. would totally destroy the Soviet “fleet”. Inasmuch as Admiral Gorshkov, Head of the Soviet Navy, clearly states in his book The Sea Power of the State, as well as in other of his writings, that his “fleet” is composed of submarines and land based aircraft, it is difficult to see how this sort of “fleet” can be destroyed in the first few days of a war.

The Admiral’s ships-of-the-line in the Mahan sense — for gaining decisive victory against an enemy’s “fleet” are his nuclear submarines. He sees a destruction of the enemy’s battle fleets (U.S. carrier battle groups) as coming from a massive, concentrated “first salvo” attack with antiship missiles from great standoff ranges, delivered by submarines and long range aircraft, then a follow-up with torpedoes against the disorganized crippled (U.S.) fleet.

Perhaps the optimistic statement regarding destruction of the Soviets’ entire “fleet” was based on the theoretical longevity of survival of the Soviets’ surface warships. This would mistakenly identify the Soviets’ “fleet” as their surface ships which for the most part (even the big warships) are identified by the Soviets as being antisubmarine ships. They are ~ considered to be offensive “fleet” units for carrying out strikes against enemy battle groups (U.S. fleets), but rather defensive, protective ASW forces.

It should be further noted that these identified “antisubmarine ships” of the Soviets have as a primary mission, the protection of Soviet SSBNs. In a sense, and as described by Admiral Gorshkov, the Soviet SSBNs represent a “fleet-in-being” during a major war which can favorably influence the outcome of the war. He sees his surviving force of SSBNs, operating in their bastions and being protected by much of his surface fleet as a political blackmailing force which can cause a termination of the war. Soviet SSBNs are not a “fleet” to challenge the U.S. fleet at sea, but rather are a military force to project power against “the shore,” and hence influence a war through the threat they pose to the homeland of the enemy.

The implications of the asymmetry between battle “fleets” are difficult to grasp and it is just as difficult to assess how decisive victory can possibly be gained by either “fleet” while this asymmetry exists. The OKEAN exercises in ’70 and ’75 and a recent very large scale spring exercise in the Atlantic and the Pacific indicate that the Soviets have been trying to iron out the complex coordination problems of a global attack against U.S. battle groups, wherever, in the opening moments of a big war. Moreover, tbere have been indications that the Soviets might use tactical nuclear weapons in fighting fleet battles — and this makes the asymmetry of fleet capabilities even more difficult to assess because submarines and land based aircraft seem less affected by the effects of nuclear bursts.

The Soviet strategy may seem like an all or nothing one quick victory, or Soviet forces countered to the extent that the “first salvo” was blunted and the attacking forces dispersed. Yet mopping up on land based aircraft and nuclear submarines, even if they fail, could scarcely be in a matter of days — unless it is optimistically assumed that the long range aircraft retrace their steps back to the bases they took off from and an alerted enemy’s anti-air efforts then prove effective, while the Soviet submarines would hasten back to port to get reloads. Neither seems likely.

Is it important to recognize how the Soviets intend to fight their fleet-against-fleet battles, to quickly attain a decisive victory? It is, to submariners upon whom the major job of blunting this strategy apparently rests and who should then recognize the possibility of a protracted war ensuing because of their efforts. The reduction of the enemy’s fleet of submarines, whether attack submarines or SSBNs, over an extended period of time places an increased requirement on weapon stocks and calls for the means to get more submarines into operation rapidly. Admiral Ike Kidd in a recent symposium suggests that the submarine force should initiate planning for a war-produced single purpose type of ASW submarine which could be built rapidly within the wartime limitations of critical materials and shipyard manpower. Dick Laning, in his article in this issue, Rapid Victory at Sea, however, shows the danger in accepting the inevitability of a long war. He thus calls for more effort to stockpile weapons before a war occurs and increase numbers of submarines over present levels. Both Kidd and Laning seem to feel that a war with the Soviets would start indecisively and hence a long war would be probable, but that measures taken now can head the U.S. towards victory at sea in a short cr.ough period of time so that “naUons of millions of people” won’t have sufficient time to adapt to the enemy threat and mutate the war into an exhausting one of unpredictable outcome.

Naval Submarine League

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