Admiral Trost, Admiral Kauderer … ladies and gentlemengood morning — it’s a pleasure and an honor for me to address the Naval Submarine League Symposium, and I am pleased at the turnout. This symposium, which highlights the Submarine Force, has a solid reputation as an ideal forum for the exchange of ideas and information which will help support the Submarine Force as we approach the 21st century. I appreciate your support.
What a difference a year makes! Last year at this time, here at the Submarine League gathering, we were caught up in the events of the fall of 1989 and the end of the Cold War. The deficit was a fact of life, but the country’s recession was just beginning. We had programs ongoing to build 28 submarines and no one had thought much about a tyrant called Saddam Hussein.
Since last June, our Navy has been a fundamental power for peace and freedom in the world — in many ways that most of us could not have imagined just a year ago. Our Navy was the first to respond to the invasion of Kuwait on the 2nd of August last year. Navy air power was on scene and sea control was immediately established. I believe these factors were essential in deterring Iraq from continuing on into Saudi Arabia.
There were a number of Navy “firsts” in this conflict … and to start our symposium, I wanted to review a few. A first that you should be aware of is the fact that for the first time since World War II, we had six carriers at war, at one time under one operational commander, and, at one point, four of the carriers operated within the Persian Gulf. During Desert Shield we had the quickest and the largest military sealift buildup since World War II – an 8,000 mile, 250-ship shuttle from Atlantic ports to Saudi Arabia. The war saw the first F/A-18 combat use in both the fighter and bomber roles in one mission, and the first tandem deployment of two battleships since Korea … with USS WISCONSIN and USS MISSOURI delivering tons of naval gunfire on haqi targets. We saw a number of Navy firsts in. high technology. We had the first combat launch of the TOMAHAWK cruise missile from surface and submarine platforms, and the first shots fired in anger from a U.S. submarine since World War II.
Yes, there were many new aspects of our modem Navy which were very successful in the rapid victory of Desert Storm. I think that we should be very proud of our military service men and women and I am pleased to see how the American public is supporting our sailors and troops by their victory celebrations and parades around the country.
We can be grateful for the successful conclusion of Desert Storm, but how many ocean storms or regional conflicts lie ahead?
The missions that submarines have traditionally been assigned — ASW, ASUW, I&W- are valid and will certainly remain so in the foreseeable future. However, today I want to provide some background on how and why we are evaluating continuing submarine missions and why there is increased emphasis on regional conflicts.
As we view the Submarine Force and its role within the Navy in support of the national objectives, there are several points I would like to make.
First, it is clear that the SSN-21 SEA WOLF class attack submarine is needed in the fleet as soon as we can get it to sea. SEA WOLF is the key, the blue chip, to maintain our undersea superiority over potential adversaries.
The margin of capability that we have enjoyed in the past bas been significantly reduced by the quantity and quality of modem, quiet submarines being built by the Soviet Union. The Soviets have the world’s largest submarine force, and they continue to modernize. Ten submarines were completed in 1990 alone. New Soviet submarine construction has continued unabated, and we expect new, more capable classes to be introduced in this decade.
SEA WOLF will be many times quieter than the improved 688, have improved combat systems, carry almost 40 percent more firepower, be deeper diving, more survivable and have significant margin for growth and improvements in the future.
SEA WOLF will maintain this nation’s undersea superiority by regaining the margin we have lost and carry our Submarine Force into the next century with a significant technological advantage. I need your help with this ship. Write or talk to your senators and congressmen. It is the only submarine program we have — but due to the fiScal constraints, it is at a level of building only one per year. SEA WOLF is essential!
Next, as we contemplate future missions, it is evident that the role of our attack submarines, in a most uncertain world, is growing, not diminishing. For example, 13 submarines operated in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm. Some fired land attack TOMAHAWK. missiles against targets in Iraq, while others conducted surveillance operations and provided valuable, real-time tactical intelligence for battle group commanders in support of the U.S. embargo against Iraq. Submarines have unique multi-mission capabilities that apply across a broad spectrum of possible conflict, and I believe that two principal advantages of nuclear powered submarines — stealth and endurance – will continue to be called upon as our nation addresses its role within the world community in the years ahead.
As we consider future missions, we must remember that a sufficient force of attack submarines is necessary to meet the challenges of the 21st century. Such a force cannot be sustained in the long-term by building only one SEA WOLF submarine a year. When LOS ANGELES Class attack submarines begin to retire in the next decade, we will be losing three ships a year and gaining only one – ultimately, this will leave our maritime nation with a force of only thirty attack submarines by the year 2025.
To rectify this situation, in January the Chief of Naval Operations directed that we define options for a new, more affordable attack submarine. We are now a few months into a ten-year process, with personnel experienced in submarine operations and design evaluating key characteristics such as quieting, speed, depth, endurance, combat systems, weapons and launchers, connectivity, and special features. Once this phase of the characteristic study is completed, my office will evaluate ship parameters and direct R&D efforts.
As we evaluate the future of the Submarine Force, it is essential that we keep in mind that our strategic submarine nuclear deterrent force is also growing in importance. This fact is highlighted by the deployment of the TRIDENT II D-5 missile system in our Atlantic Fleet SSBNs. For over a year, these ships have been on deterrent patrol carrying the most advanced and accurate ballistic missile in the nation’s arsenal. Combined with our survivability and connectivity, this system truly anchors the strategic TRIAD. This most formidable weapon will deter any potential adversary from engaging in nuclear aggression. The modernization of C-4 missile-capable TRIDENT submarines to D-S capability has been delayed due to fiScal constraints. But we will continue to modernize the TRIDENT submarine force as we build the remaining ships to reach the goal of 18 TRIDENTs, 10 in Kings Bay and 8 in Bangor, Washington by 1998. In his address at Aspen, Colorado last August, President Bush outlined a future defense policy which would be required to adapt to the significant changes in the world — the end of the cold war. He said that our forces will be shaped by regional contingencies. The President’s speech was significant in many areas. U.S. defense policy in the 1990s and beyond is based on four major elements: deterrence, forward presence, crisis response and force reconstitution.
The Submarine Force will continue to be a major force in each of these pillars of defense policy, building upon our present capability and adapting future technology to enhance our effectiveness and our versatility. Key to our deliberations on bow best to prepare the Submarine Force for future challenges is aggressive pursuit of viable technological advances.
As President Bush said, “Time and again, we have seen technology revolutionize the battlefield. The U.S. has always relied on its technological edge to offset the need to match potential adversaries’ strength in numbers.”
That reliance has always been evident in submarine warfare — outnumbered, independent operations, in waters controlled by the enemy, but always successful because we have the best people benefitting from the best technology.
As I mentioned earlier, Desert Storm was a conflict in which we saw the first shots fired in anger from a U.S. submarine since World War U. As we review the lessons of Desert Shield and Desert Storm, we can learn about the application of submarine technology and capability in future missions and assignments.
First, the inherent characteristics of my Submarine Force -speed, mobility and flexibility, endurance, stealth and firepower are crucial and will be required in regional problems in the future. USS LOUISVILLE’s overall transit speed was far greater than that which can be sustained by an entire battle group as she proceeded to her historic firing position in the Red Sea. USS PITrSBURGH demonstrated flexibility when her maintenance period at New London was cut in half and she sailed to the Med and remained on station for months waiting to strike. Operational flexibility and coordination involving water space management to support submarine operations was remarkable. And, of course, the firepower to strike key land targets portends the submarine role in future conflicts.
What we did NOT learn is the specific scenario for any future regional situation. I can’t tell you where it might be, what political situation could generate the crisis, what Naval forces, if any, would be required or what submarine capability would be the best fit to support U.S. interests. I can tell you that the submarine or force of submarines wilt most likely be first on the scene of a problem and stay there throughout the crisis – unknown to most. I believe submarines will be called upon in the future to perform an increasing variety of missions. As the definition of the Naval battle space expands from hundreds of miles to thousands of miles, data transmission and connectivity will become even more important to the traditional roles of submarines, and open up additional areas where a submarine’s stealth and mobility can enhance Naval power projection. We must shed the notion that a submarine is limited within its own acoustic, weapon, electronic and visual range of today’s technology. Enormous efforts have been expended to increase the acoustic battle space of a submarine, much like the field of naval aviation’s effort to get beyond visual range in tactical air combat But, in a regional situation, off shore, a submarine should be able to improve and extend its capability to influence or impact events on land over that which exists today. Offboard devices, unmanned underwater vehicles will be key factors in improving our submarine battle space effectiveness in the years ahead.
As we look to the future, we must continue to improve our versatility and enhance our capability. We must keep an open mind as we evaluate improved mission concepts to be able to employ special forces, off-board devices and weapons which can extend our battle space. The issues that we debate to address threats on the distant horizon — the programs we push forward, or push aside — will dictate what capability will reside in the future submarine force.
New developments- as dramatic and unforeseen as those capturing the headlines and our imagination over the past year – the kinds of world events I mentioned at the outset, surely lie ahead. Our Submarine Force readiness to tackle these challenges in the future will require continued support from the Submarine League. The submarine force is in great shape today, thanks to the efforts of you in this audience. Our skippers have the best submarines in the world today and are operating them in many different missions, not just ASW and ASUW. I know from 31 years of experience, the submarine force will be able to forge ahead with new ideas and new technology to pace any possible threat in any situation. Our capability is extraordinary and will continue to improve. The future will no doubt hold many surprises, but one thing is certain: the submarine force submariners – will be ready to meet the challenge.
Thank you and God bless.
NSL Headquarters is willing to act as a broker between members who have submarine artifacts and organizations which would like to have such items to display to their visiting public. Museums, Ex-US Submarines open to the public, schools, libraries, etc. are the types of organizations which come to mind. Members who have artifacts which might be available for this purpose are asked to advise NSL Headquarters. The staff will keep a list of the items and the owners identified and, in response to requests, put the requester in touch with the owner to work out the details of the arrangements.