- On August 6th, NAVY NEWS & Undersea Technolo&Y reported that the Soviet news agency TASS had announced that a Dutch salvage consortium will attempt to raise the MIKEclass submarine which sank in 4000 feet of water during April of 1989. The Soviet announcement quoted their shipbuilding officials as saying that the Dutch plan is “realistic … and economically sound”.
- The same newspaper, of 1 October, commented on a report by the Indian government that construction of a submarine in India is costing about four times as much as the first of that four ship class did at the HDW yard in Kiel, West Germany. Under a contract of December 1981, two submarines were to be built in Kiel and the second two in Bombay. The Germans built the first two between 1982 and 1986, and the Indians laid the keel for their first in 1984. NAVY NEWS goes on to state, “By July 1985 the pressure hull had to be tom apart when not a single hull weld passed X-ray inspection. A new keel was laid down in late 1985. The original estimate to construct (this boat) was 42 months with commissioning scheduled for 1988. This date has been progressively moved until now it is set for March 1992, 93 months after construction began.”
- NAVY NEWS & Undersea Technolo&Y of 8 October quotes the General Accounting Office (GAO) as recommending a one year delay in the SSN-21 SEAWOLF program. The GAO report Navy Ships; Concurrency Within the SSN-21 Program” was cited as: “We believe changing world events, the need to respond to the U.S. budget deficit, and the benefits of a less concurrent program warrant a one year delay in the award of the next SSN-21 production contract” The GAO is said to have reported that “Under the Navy’s current plans, seven SSN21 submarines could be under construction or contract before the first ship is delivered in May 1995.” The GAO is also reported to be in favor of testing the ship and its subsystems before the government commits to mass production.
- INSIDE THE NAVY of22 October reported that since the DOD-mandated review of the Navy’s major shipbuilding programs reduced the planned build of three SEA WOLF submarines every year down to two submarines every other year, there has been a debate over whether or not the U.S. industrial base could be maintained at that low level of production.
- The same newspaper, on October 29th, commented on the General Accounting Office (GAO) report “Defense Acquisition: Fleet Ballistic Missile Program Offers Lessons for Successful Programs.” They reported that the GAO also “labeled the BSY-1 advanced combat system for the SSN-688 (I) class submarine as a program that has been less than successful.”
- SEA POWER. in its November issue, reported that: “lbe Navy has filled four of its most important four-star jobs with the reassignment of Admiral Charles R. Larson, Commander in Chief, U.S. Pacific Fleet, to duty as Commander, U.S. Pacific Command and the appointment of three highly regarded Vice Admirals to four-star rank.” In addition to Admiral Larson, one of those three Vice Admirals is William D. Smith, currently DCNO for Navy Program Planning (is being reassigned) to duty as U.S. Representative to NATO.”
- INSIDE TilE NAVY, in its 12 November issue, conjectured that “As the Soviet threat continues to decline, especially in the realm of anti-submarine warfare, Navy and Department of Defense officials involved in the development of the next generation conventional cruise missile have reportedly begun to contemplate configuring the weapon for use from torpedo tubes on the Navy’s SSN-21 SEA WOLF class attack submarine.” They went on to cite their informed sources as seeing the advantage of putting the Long Range Conventional Standoff Weapon (LRCSW) on attack submarines as allowing those ships “to play an important role in conflicts against adversaries other than the Soviet Union while still retaining the primary mission of hunting and killing enemy submarines.” The newspaper described the LRCSW as still in the concept definition stage, and “currently being designed for use only from submarine and surface ship vertical launch systems as well as in an air-launched variant for the Air Force.”
- On November 19th, INSIDE THE NAVY reported that the Navy will soon release a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the award of the follow-on SSN-21 submarine. They went on to say that cost factors will play a “heavy hand” in determining who will build the second SSN-21. The paper quoted a SecNav letter to Congress as assuring that a full-out competition will take place between Newport News Shipbuilding and General Dynamics’ Electric Boat Division.
- INSIDE THE PENTAGON of November 15th comments on the “just-released” spring 1990 testimony of Admiral Bruce DeMars, the Navy’s director of its nuclear propulsion programs. The paper reports that DeMars told Congress that the SSN-21 is decades ahead of the next generation Soviet submarine in overall capability. It also quotes him as saying ” …I would say we ought to build about 30 (SSN-21s), about three a year, and shift over to something better, if there is something better, in 10 years.” This news item goes on to interpret that comment as proof that the Navy is “already planning for a new submarine class but is downplaying the subject until after the SEA WOLF program is fully underway.”
- In its issue of 3 December, DEFENSE WEEK reported on the status of the SEA WOLF program, noting that the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) will be meeting in December to either approve or modify the budget cuts outlined in SecDef Cheney’s recent major warship review which cut SEA WOLF procurement from 10 every three years to three every two years. The article explained: “In preparation for the high-level meeting, Pentagon staffers are performing a wide-ranging scrub of the SEA WOLF, the most expensive attack submarine ever built by the Navy. With service input, staffers are doing a detailed cost analysis of the cuts as well as an extensive production readiness review.”
In other portions of the popular press, submarines and submariners have been treated as features, with rather in-depth articles addressing the impacts, the technology, the history, and the people making up the submarine warfighting world.
- In FORBES of July 9th, a lead article was titled THE ULTIMATE WEAPON? that addressed both U.S. capabilities and the still extant Soviet threat Both Captain Bill Rube and John Engelhardt are quoted as giving credence to the sophistication of the Soviet submarine programs, as is the weight of numbers cited for force levels from JANE’S. The article ends with a quote from John Keegan; “command of the sea in the future unquestionably lies beneath rather than upon the surface.” Then goes on to ask “can any sensible person believe that a mere shift in command in the Kremlin makes control of the seas irrelevant?”
- POPULAR SCIENCE, in its August issue, highlighted quieting technology as a touchstone of modem submarining and went on to examine several aspects, including natural circulation on reactors and ducted propellers.
- Captain Ned Beach was featured in an article in the 27 August issue of NAVY TIMES. The title of the piece, “‘RUN SILENT, RUN DEEP’ AUTIIOR STILL WRITING ABOUT HIS NAVY” tells the essential story, which covers Ned’s dual naval/literature career from his USNA graduation in 1939 up to his current projects. Naturally, the submerged circumnavigation of 1RITON in 1960 is given a prominent place, but the outline of his career could well have prompted the TIMES staff writer to probe a bit deeper into some of the noteworthy happenings with which he was associated during those days of change – the last time around – in the 40’s, SO’s and early 60’s.
- THE WASHINGTON POST, on the 21st of August, published an article about the close-in World War IT U-Boat campaigns off the U.S. east coast entitled lHE SUBMERGED STORY OF THE U-BOAT WAR, and sub-headed IDSTORIAN UNCOVERS AN EAST COAST MASSACRE. The article tells about the writing of a book by Professor Michael Gannon which describes the 1942 WestLant operations by the Germans as “a largely avoidable massacre.” Admiral King seems to bear major responsibility for the problem, according to the POST piece; but perhaps the telling clue is a quote attributed to Dean Allard of the Naval Historical Center: “I have this feeling there’s more of the story yet to be uncovered.”
Captain John J. Herzog USN(Ret.)
Loyal member of NSL since its beginning, in 1982