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  • DEFENSE NEWS of March 29, · 1989, in an article by William Mathews, describes some of the implications of a special report to Congress by a panel which included V ADM Edward A Burkhalter and RADM Robert Wertheim. The report notes that the Navy’s ability to detect Soviet submarines has deteriorated to the point that the nation’s “future ability to cany out a major part of the national security policy is becoming less certain.” Also that unless corrective action is taken, the future capability of the U.S. to reinforce Europe in a war may be jeopardized. “‘The Navy establishment is so hardened with traditional, deeply rooted and powerful vested interests that it is failing to deal effectively with the problem,” the panel said. The panel, called the Advisory Panel on Submarine and Antisubmarine Warfare was established by Rep. Les Aspin of the House Armed Services Committee. The panel noted that there was no evidence that Soviet subs were qualitatively superior to U.S. submarines, but that the Soviets have an “ambitious technology program that may produce a superior submarine unless our research and development efforts at least match theirs in scope and productivity.
  • The Washin&ton Times of 21 March has an article by Clarence Robinson, Jr. which notes that “So quiet have Soviet submarines become that several times during last year American submarines were placed on collision courses resulting in near misses. The crews did not even know their boat was close to a Russian submarine until sonar operators heard the other boat’s propeller noise receding after the vessels had passed one another at close range.” Similarly, a Navy task group in the Pacific was unable to detect the presence of Soviet submarines in the fleet’s vicinity until a Soviet boat surfaced just behind the U.S. carrier. According to Les Aspin, the Soviets have started to construct submarines quiet enough to present “a major technological challenge with profound national security implications for the United States.” The implications for U.S. Navy policy are:
  • the secrecy in which the Navy has shrouded questions about the submarine fleet has worked to the disadvantage of the U.S., because the whole science of submarine detection is known only by a handful of those directly involved;
  • the U.S. Navy has depended on superior submarine capabilities in the past to offset the decided Soviet numerical advantage. But the time may arrive soon when the U.S. will have to rely on quantity to counter Soviet submarine quality;
  • just as the Soviet Union has integrated its submarines with other branches of its armed forces, U.S. submarines may become too critical to be relegated to a single element of one service — thus losing their lone wolf status.

The Pentagon estimates that continued R&D efforts by the Soviets will provide boats even better within the decade -submerged speeds in excess of 60 knots and diving to depths greater than 1200 meters. Moreover, in a report released by Les Aspin, the developments in submarine quieting are being reflected in conventional submarines constructed in Europe and marketed to Third World countries. “It is no longer possible to continue the myth that the Soviet Union is very capable in theory but poor in implementing new concepts.”

  • The Washington Post of 28 May tells of the dieselelectric BLUEBACK out of San Diego being forced to the surface due to an electrical fire in her propulsion system and being towed back to port. Also, “On Tuesday, the nuclear submarine GURNARD (an attack submarine from San Diego) ran aground on a reef four miles offshore but was freed and returned to port.” An earlier Post story told of the nuclear submarine HELENA being towed to Hawaii afte11 its reduction gear broke on May 17, rendering its propeller inoperable. She was 1100 miles northwest of Pearl Harbor near Midway, when the accident occurred. There were no reported problems with HELENA’s reactor.
  • The Washin&ton Post of 31 May tells of Navy plans to sink the WW II sub, BLENNY, off Ocean City, Maryland, in June — to make an artificial reef. “In five years, the reef is expected to be a prime fiShing spot.”
  • NAVY TIMES of 22 May, ’89 explains why newspaper reports are wrong which have claimed that nuclear submariners and particularly those of SSBNs are more prone to develop cancer than the general population. Vital statistics for 73,731 enlisted nuclear submariners -those of the force between 1969 and 1981 — taken as an entire group, had the same probability of getting cancer (if not less) than all of their civilian counterparts. But when only the discharged enlisted were examined, the cancer incidence was higher because all those who had contracted cancer in the service were discharged. Consequently, those who stayed in-service had a correspondingly less incidence of cancer.
  • NAVY NEWS & Undersea Technolo~ of 3 April, quotes ADM Mario Flores, chief of naval materiel for the Brazilian Navy, as claiming that there is a program for construction of modem submarines in a Rio de Janeiro shipyard, “to provide us with training for the great leap forward to nuclear submarines, perhaps during the last few years of this century.” A pressurized water reactor is under development. Brazil is now building two 1,440-ton Type 209s, of German design. Designs are in process to increase the displacement of the 209s to accommodate the reactor.
  • The PROCEEDINGS/Naval Review 1989 has an article by CDR R. W. Herrick, USN(Ret.) which spells out the Soviet’s naval missions in nuclear war — as derived from ADM Gorshkov’s book, “The Navy.” The first mission is to search for the enemy’s “basic strategic weapons platforms” so as to locate and destroy them. Second is the suppression of the enemy’s “military-economic capacity.” To degrade the enemy’s industrial capacity involves counter-value strikes, anti-SLOC operations, and anti-seabed exploitation. The third is “to defeat the enemy’s main naval forces”, and last is “to cover and give support for the coastal flanks of the ground forces.” Soviet war planning for the naval side of the general nuclear war calls for the destruction of all enemy aircraft carriers and strategic submarines before they can launch nuclear strikes at the Soviet homeland. In summarizing the role the Soviet submarines play in any type of warfare, it is noted that “All principal indicators characterizing any modern navy are concentrated in nuclear powered submarines’ great striking power, high mobility and concealment, and the capability of conducting actions on a global scale — destroying enemy ground targets, submarines and surface combatants.”
  • The Journal of Defense and Diplomacy of 1 April 1989 notes that the CNOs of the U.S., Soviet and Chinese Navy are all submariners of about 59 years of age, all have served in both diesel-electrics and nuclear powered submarines, all commanded submarine flotillas and each took about 37 years to get to his present position.
  • NAVY NEWS & Undersea Technoloa of February 27, 1989 tells of testimony by RADM Thomas Brooks to the House seapower subcommittee. Brooks said that “submarine threats in the Third World are growing and in some cases pose a significant threat to the U.S. Navy.” Also, “TTte proliferation of advanced submarines and submarine technology adds yet another element to the trend toward global diffusion of naval power. Some 21 Third World countries collectively possess more than 250 submarines. Several more will acquire diesel subs for the first time this year. A few such as China and India are beginning to demonstrate a respectable degree of competence in submarine operations.” In selected missions, such as regional straits and sea-lines-of-communications interdiction, such forces could prove militarily significant even against a more capable naval power. Brooks noted that India leased a Charlie 1-class Soviet SSGN in 1988 and “Within the next decade, additional nuclear submarines will probably be transferred from the USSR. Also, that India, Brazil and Argentina have nascent nuclear propulsion programs and hope to develop their own SSNs by the end of the century.
  • The Washington Times had an article by Clarence A Robinson, Jr. on projects within the Defense Advance Research Projects Agency. One project involves shooting at incoming torpedoes with high speed underwater projectiles; another was; generating powerful submerged whirlpools to disrupt torpedo attacks; another involves decoys for luring hostile torpedoes away from the boat; and still another is to fire an electromagnetic generated shock wave into the oceans, creating a strong doughnut-shaped whirlpool ring that can travel outwards at speeds up to 200 knots and cause a violent disturbance for a torpedo and cause it to tumble out of control. Electromagnetic propulsion with rail gun launchers, appear promising for anti-torpedo defense. o NAVY TIMES noted that in the last selection of Commanders for the rank of Captain, of the 36 submarine commanders in the zone for selection (all of whom have had submarine commands) 24 were selected, giving a selection opportunity of 67%. However, six more submarine commanders were selected from above the zone and 3 more were selected from below the zone.
  • NAVY NEWS & Undersea Technology of 27 March describes a GTE new portable communications system, SUBTACS, to allow battle groups to communicate with submarines. Using a frequency between that of ELF and VLF, it has a 10-words-a-minute transmission rate and can be picked up by modified existing ELF receivers on the submarines. The range is expected to be in excess of 1,000 nautical miles. “‘The system with a transmitter on the carrier would allow surface ships to coordinate with submarines in tactical situations” and is ready for propagation experiments within the Navy.
  • SEA POWER/March 1989 says that the Navy has begun installing “phase two” elements of the BSY -1 submarine combat system (the new SUBACS) aboard 688-class attack submarines. The phase two installation adds UYK-43 computers with new software and upgrades the active sonar system on the phase one system installed in the first 4 submarines. The active sonar systems are claimed to give a three-fold increase in target detection capability. It will permit full under-ice operations and double the range of detection of mines. The new passive sonar array, the TB23 should quadruple the range of the older BQQ-5 sonars. The BSY-2, being developed by General Electric will employ fiber optics and is planned for installation on the SSN-21 class.
  • Admiral Carlisle Trost, the Chief of Naval Operations, in a San Diego speech to the American Defense Preparedness Association, suggested funneling research money into the development of a new, nuclear-powered submarine which could “attack aircraft and space vehicles and enter the information war.” Think what it would mean to be able “to take out the other side’s space launch and tracking facilities, and its early-warning aircraft A few submarines like this could leave the other side groping like a blind giant.” Such a submarine would negate the Soviet Union’s ability to conduct what is known as a “decapitating strike.” The suggested new super submarine could also, according to Admiral Trost, become a fleet command center for directing a surface battle from its deep submerged location.
  • SUBNOTES/March-April 1989 descnbes The First Annual International Submarine Races, as a competition to design human-powered small submarines and race them off Palm Beach, Florida, June 23 to 25. Organized by the H.A Perry Foundation, the many participants will vie for design honors, greatest speed, and other classifications. Entries, both U.S. and foreign, have been submitted by individuals, university teams and engineering companies. Brad Mooney will be Chairman of the Judges Panel. A sub-America’s Cup in the making!
  • Sea Technolo&YJMarch 1989 notes that “the upgraded Mk48 AdCap — advanced capability — torpedo can go deeper and faster in its ASW and surface warfare roles (than the improved Mk48). The budget request is for 320 of them in FY90 for $493.9 million and 320 of them in FY 91 for $473.6 million.”
  • SUBNOTES/May-June 1989 says that the Royal Thai Navy has purchased three ROMEO class diesel-electric submarines from the People’s Republic of China. This is a Soviet design submarine of the 1960s. They will require major upgrading with Western technology if they are to have any credibility. Also, that “the Soviet Union has withdrawn all nuclear-powered submarines from waters near the USA and Western Europe” — this is reported to be part of Gorbachev’s policy of “reasonable sufficiency.”

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