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A new year will have arrived by the time you receive this issue. Please accept my wishes for a rewarding New Year. Our League is healthy and growing, even though our rate of growth has, at times, been disappointing.

Our next Symposium and Business Meeting is in the final stages of planning. The final dates are B-9 July, 1987. Thie corrects the dates previously published. The Symposium looks to be another winner, so please mark these corrected dates on your calendar.

The Directors have increased the number of Board members to twelve. This increase in your Board of Directors will allow for better representation from industry in addition to expanding the Board’s breadth of outlook and scope of experience.

The Submarine League’s Advisory Council bas completed a comprehensive review of the League’s organization — on 11 August, 1986. The Council has recommended to the Chairman and the Board of Directors the following items:

Subject Action by Board of Directors
  1. Improve recognition for Corporate Benefactors
2. Establish a Public Affairs Committee Agree
3. Promote Submarine League Membership for u.s. Allies Agree
4. Better inform government employees of their eligibility for League membership Agree
5. Expand the Board of Directors to include executives of Corporations Agree
6. Advertise for Submarine League membership Agree
7. Deny Corporate Membership to foreign firms Agree
8. Promote submarines without lobbying Agree

Finally, I earnestly request that a few of our more creative members author articles for the REVIEW, or at least provide, in a letter to the Editor, your own ideas on articles in the SUBMARINE REVIEW. If you lack a subject for an article, perhaps one of the following subjects may strike a chord of interest:

  • For what purposes might the large 30-inch torpedo tubes, planned for the SEAWOLF class SSN, be used?
  • What is the value of a tanker submarine for refueling a carrier  task force? Can  a submarine replenish  ammunition or other expendables?
  •  What role should submarines play in the Outer Air Battle? What capabilities should they possess? Can they survive at periscope depth?
  • What should be the role of submarines in the Strategic Defense Initiatives?
  • Should submarine rockets be developed for submarine weapons?
  • My best wishes to you all . . . .



The challenge today for our submariners is how to deal with an enemy submarine force which by doctrine conducts its operations in coordinated combination with other forces. This is unlike our submarine force which is most comfortable with and which stresses independent lone-wolf operations. The Soviets moreover — according to their writings and as indicated by their peacetime submarine operations, invariably demonstrate “closely” coordinated operations with other naval forces, i.e. submarines, surface warships, aircraft, satellites, and even fishing boats and merchant vessels which are evidently organized to function as naval auxiliaries. This doctrine of mutual support probably evolved from the character of Soviet double-hulled submarines — relatively noisy, but with many pluses which might be capitalized on.

A new dimension in the art of submarining is involved. What might be required to deal with the Soviet concept of “mutually supporting operations” is difficult to come to terms with. But first, the temptation to consider such operations impractical — because “we” don’t use them and hence the enemy can’t (because their communications are inadequate, etc.) or thy1 re not useful, anyhow — must be put aside. Further, because our submariners feel that “closely” coordinated operations with other forces are overly hazardous, the Soviets, it may be thought, will similarly settle for “loosely” coordinated operations with other forces. Perhaps the greatest danger in loose thinking could stem from bad guesses about Soviet weapons and how they might be employed. If Soviet weapons are well designed for mutually supporting operations — particularly if “stealth” characteristics are emphasized — u.s. capability to effectively conduct lone-wolf operations against a combination of forces could be seriously impaired. Wishful thinking is unlikely to change the threat being posed to our submarine efforts those directed against well protected enemy submarines. The consequences of this are pictured by Henry Young in his article in this SUBMARINE REVIEW.

U.S. advancement of the art of submarining, as we know it, seems necessary to be able to respond effectively to this comparatively new submarine problem. There are also various possible facets to this problem which need to be recognized in conceptualizing U.S. response. And past history would indicate that they are likely to materialize. First, the primary mission of our submarines may be changed from a forward barrier destruction of enemy submarines to an antisubmarine protection of convoy lanes because “the horse~ have left the barn,” while the strategic submarines stay in their well-protected pens. Then, observation of Soviet mutually supporting submarine operations may only easily recognize two bnits operating together, as a practical form of “mutual” support, while several units — 3 submarines, or two submarines and two destroyers, etc. — would be seen as only aberrations.

Even more worrisome is the possible impact of new technology on u.s. response to Soviet coordinated submarine operations. Of first concern must be the Soviet’s sound-quieting of their submarines — even to backfitting of older subs with techniques that are evidently unlike those employed by the u.s. Then the use of their GLONASS satellite global navigation system may be far more vital to their operations than guessed at, on the basis of U.S. usage of a similar system. As for communications for supporting operations, it may be difficult to credit the Soviets with truly workable on-site communication systems when the u.s. has not emphasized this capability for u.s. submarine operations. And finally, like the Soviets’ sound-quieting program, the possibility of backfitting their many conventional submarines with a greatly extended underwater endurance system — like a small auxiliary nuclear power plant or a fuel-cell system to augment battery power — must be considered in light of how this additional submarine capability would impact on “mutual support.”

Conceptualizing u.s. submarine tactics to deal with this problem may, at present, be a simple matter, based on present assumptions. And training our submariners to handle the ASW problem presented by enemy simple, coordinated forces is probably straight forward and manageable.

But to come to grips with the more complex possibilities — or even probable ones — is going to, it would seem, require an active discussion for which a “silent service” is ill suited. The Soviets, recognizing the rapidly changing nature of warfare, conduct an open forum through voluminous writings by military people. Hence, the fluidity of Soviet mutually supporting operations needs to be carefully tracked, evaluated and u.s. responsive tactics be devised and trained for.

Naval Submarine League

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