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In the July issue of the SUBMARINE REVIEW there was an article by Ken Hart about the automatic submarine control system that was in use in LOS ANGELES for a short time. This system was designed, tested and installed in LOS ANGELES on the expectation that it would be approved for use in the class. The original concept was to provide a highly reliable and comfortingly conservative system, programmed to carry out maneuvers that would not alarm the most skeptical observer or frighten the most timid. One of its features permitted the operator to physically limit the magnitude of the command signal transmitted to any of the control surfaces. The vendor of the hardware, Autonetics, called this the “Variable Authority Control System.” Another important feature was the follow-the-pointer display (actually a moving point of light at the edge of the rudder and diving plane angle-displays) that was intended to overcome the widespread reluctance in the Navy to turn submarine control over to a computer. This feature gave its name to the whole system, called the Aided Display Submarine Control System, or ADSCS. This Aided Display was driven through the computer using the same algorithm as the fully automatic mode, adapted to account for the added brief delay introduced into the control loop by the planesman.

There was an extensive and thorough shore based test of the system to demonstrate its reliability and its ability to cope with a horrendous series of simulated failures and operator maloperations without putting the ship in extremis. The system was installed in LOS ANGELES shortly after delivery.

The ADSCS was subjected to a formal TECHEVAL from 23 April through 7 May, 1977. The deployment that followed during the shakedown cruise served as the OPEVAL. Both evaluations resulted in favorable reports, with the most significant recommendations for change being to “spice up” the overly conservative automatic ~aneuvering algorithm and to open the system behavior to better exploit the ship’s capabilities.

In regard to the comments of Ken Hart on the lack of training, there was a factory training program for officers prior to the installation, and there was a well prepared set of documentation aboard. (Since the installation was for T&E only, there was no established shore based training.) The system was easy to use and easy to learn to use. The design was such that failures would result in the system going into the OFF mode, with a flashing indication on the Ship Control Panel saying “Take charge of planes.” Another design feature of the fully automatic mode was that any movement of a control column or helm wheel of more than a few degrees would result in the “Take charge of planes” display and the system took itself out of automatic. To re-set into automatic required deliberate actions by the operator to reestablish the desired operating constraints. In this respect, the design sacrificed convenience in operation for the assurance that inadvertent button pushing would not engage the automatic controller.

The system had an outstanding reliability record during the time it was in use. Even though the system operated with only one of the two AN/UYK-20 computers that it was designed to use, its record was exemplary. It was down for corrective maintenance only one hour in 185 days of operation, much of which was in the automatic mode.

It is interesting to note that there is still a “John Henry” complex at work in the submarine force, reflected in the widely held opinion that while automatic control may be useful on long, dull transit watches, it cannot be relied upon at periscope depth in heavy seas, or in any other demanding scenario. It is nonetheless a fact, however much sentiment might wish otherwise, that a modern control system can “drive steel” better than the best of the “steel drivin’ planesmen” without fatigue and without coaching from the Diving Officer. The benefits of real automation, properly designed, tested and installed, cannot be fully realized in the submarine force until confidence in its utilization is as common as is the confidence in the controls of the propulsion plant.

Experience with the submarine control system in LOS ANGELES lends confidence that the newer control system to be provided to SEAWOLF will also be a highly reliable and useful system.

Alfred J. Giddings


Kudos are in order for those involved in the “submarine” segments of TV’s 11War and Remembrance” which aired November, 1988. Rather than opt for a less costly and unrealistic approach to shooting the submarine scenes, Director Dan Curtis obtained permission from the USS BOWFIN Memorial Association in Pearl Harbor for the use of SS-287.

BO\~FIN looks the same inside and out as the day her sleek hull slid down the ways. For the TV production, BOWFIN was made surface operational and readied to play her major part in the television series. For the underwater sequences of “!.foray”, BOWFIN’s fictional name in the Herman Wouk epic, Curtis called upon the Model Department at the studio to build an exact likeness of the BALAO-class boat. Scenes or her cruising under the surface, torpedoes leaving the tubes and miniature depth charges exploding near her hull brought a fine sense of realism. All exterior surface and interior scenes were shot using BOWFIN.

Battle submerged and battle surface scenes, along with the attendant tension were highly effective by all actors involved as the crew. Before the sub scenes were filmed, actor Hart Bochner, playing the role or Byron Henry in the story, lived aboard BOWFIN for a rew days with other members of the cast. He also went out in a nuclear sub so as to enrich the part he was tapped to play. Much of the success of the submarine scenarios was due to technical advisor RADM Paul L. Lacy Jr., USN(Ret.)

“War and Remembrance” tribute to all who served at civilian and military alike. production that has finally done who went under the sea in boats. pays commendable home and abroad, It is the one justice to those who went under the sea boats.

Larry Blair


Mr. Henry E. Payne III’s provocative article in the October SUBMARINE REVIEW is thoughtful and timely. I agree with his oall for a more open technical literature to stimulate critical review of submarine design within the u.s. technical community, to encourage innovation, and to promote broader competition.

Appropriate military classification is essential, However, in the opening months of World War II, our submarine force saw the terrible consequences of excessive secrecy within a closed bureaucracy. If only we’d questioned the Bureau of Ordnance’s exclusive torpedo design expertise, challenged the Newport Torpedo Factory’s production and testing monopoly, and critically reviewed exploder performance! Had we done so, American industry could surely have produced weapons with performance and reliability equal to the Japanese Long Lance Torpedo, and the Pacific War would have been shortened.

Prewar improvements in naval ordnance institutions, budgets, and designs would have changed the course of history. If the duds, prematures and deep-running u.s. torpedoes of 1941 to 1943 had been solid hits, our submarines could well have decimated Japanese seapower before the bloody invasions of the Philippines, Okinawa and Iwo Jima. Technical stagnation, obsessive secrecy, and a monopolistic torpedo establishment prolonged the war at enormous cost in lives and dollars.

Are the lessons of 50 years ago relevant today? Would we gain or lose from more open comparison of submarine technology, design, and performance in the u.s., Soviet and other navies? Should we encourage American engineers and submariners to debate alternative systems and approaches to speed, endurance,: warhead lethality, sensors, system reliability, cost, diving depth, hull strength, damage control, habitability, crew size, safety, and other parameters? Could greater technical openness, broader institutional competition, and bolder experimentation strengthen our submarine technology base, stimulate innovation, lower cost, and thereby increase U.S. technological leadership? Or is strict secrecy within a closed establishment our best policy?

Mr. Henry E. Payne III’s controversial call for more open U.S. submarine technical publication has merit. The potential benefits of “glasnost” are not confined to Moscow. The Navy should liberalize classification policy, and the SNAME and USN! should stimulate more vigorous technical discussions. A questioning National Submarine League with an outspoken SUBMARINE REVIEW can make major contributions to national security.

Thomas o. Paine


Shortly after reading Admiral McKee’s article “Fundamental Principles of Submarine Warfare” in the SUBMARINE REVIEW of October 1987, I conducted a series of wardroom seminars using McKee’s Principles” as a basis for discussing the idea of SSBN war-fighting axioms. I presented the axioms we came up with to VADM Bacon, COMSUBLANT, this October, as a part of a deterrent patrol debrief. Since he showed considerable interest in the source of the original axioms, I forwarded to him a copy of the article.

For the Submarine League, this should be considered a success story. The REVIEW article generated serious thought and discussion concerning topics of submarine war fighting that apply to the fleet today.

CDR Steven G. Slaton, USN

Naval Submarine League

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