While the biggest item of submarine news over the past several months had to do with the award of the contract for the second ship of the SSN-21 SEA WOLF class, there were plenty of other subjects of interest that were covered by the press, wire services and broadcast news. To reverse the trend of front page editors and network anchormen, SUBMARINE REVIEW feels that it might be a good idea to start with a light note; therefore, the Reuters piece of April 28th is duly acknowledged. It reported that the U.S. Navy is planning to send a research submarine to explore the wreckage of the USS MACON, an airship that disappeared 56 years ago off the coast of California. The news service went on to say that the object of the search is to fmd a way to salvage one of the four vintage SPARROWHAWK biplanes that went down with the dirigible on February 12, 1935, so that it can be placed in the Smithsonian.
The Second SEAWOLF: The popular press noted the issue in earnest after the 19 March hearings of the Senate Defense Appropriations subcommittee and continued through the various Executive, Judicial and Congressional actions which followed. A brief summary from the press will track the story from that which was outlined in depth by the heads of both Electric Boat and Newport News in the April issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW.
- Hartford Courant, 20 March 1991: “Top shipbuilding and Navy off”~eials predicted Tuesday that if the Navy cuts submarine production to one ship a year, as planned, either the Electric Boat Division or its only competitor (Newport News Shipbuilding Company) will be forced out of the submarine business by the mid-1990s.”
- Defense News, 25 March: “At issue is whether the Navy can preserve its fragile submarine industrial base at a time when the service is facing steep budget cuts and limited submarine construction rates.” The paper went on to review the circumstances leading to the current situation. “Electric Boat won the contract to build the first SEA WOLF in January 1989, and is continuing work on the program. At the time, Navy acquisition plans envisioned having two shipyards build the submarine and the service planned to award the second submarine contract to Newport News without competition. In the interim, however, the Pentagon-mandated Major Warship Review reduced the Navy’s buy of SEA WOLF submarines to only six through 1996, instead of a planned 29. With the construction program being truncated, Congress directed the Navy in the 1991 budget to resume competition between the shipyards for the second submarine.
- he Washington Post, 2 May: In somewhat more of a commentary tone, and under the headline “Sinking Sub Firms Seek A Life-Giving Navy Pact,” reported on the situation as ” … this latest outbreak of submarine warfare … ” in which “the nation’s two remaining nuclear submarine makers are vying for a $2 billion contract that both say is critical to their survival.” It noted that ” … the Navy … 30 years ago had six yards qualified to produce an expanding fleet of nuclear-powered submarines.” The f!ru explained that in late April, Donald Yockey, the Pentagon’s top procurement official, “rebuffed the Navy’s plan and told Navy Secretary H. Lawrence Garrett III to award the contract based on overall cost and technical approach.” This was said to cause immediate action from Senator John Warner (R-VA) who bad ” … inserted language in the various Pentagon spending bills requiring the Navy to pursue a competitive acquisition strategy for the SEA WOLF program, even if it meant taking a higher bid offer.” The Post ended the piece by commenting that: “The Bush administration has turned aside attempts to link contract awards to economic distress, or even the survival of individual weapons contractors. Although top officials routinely express concern about the deterioration of the defense industrial base, they have yet to formulate any policy about what to do to preserve it. Instead, the administration seems content to award contracts one at a time, based largely on cost, and Jet market forces shape the industry.”
- New York Times, 4 May: In reporting the award of the second SEAWOLF contract for the Navy’s “next $2 billion attack submarine,” the paper stated that “Electric Boat. .. was awarded $614.7 million to build the submarine itself. The balance will go to the vessel’s nuclear reactor and other components.” The Times also referred to the EB/Newport News controversy and said that “Senator Warner asked the General Accounting Office, the investigative arm of Congress, to do a detailed review of the entire acquisition process used in the SEA WOLF competition.”
- The Washington Post, 8 May: When Newport News won a 10 day reprieve on the award of the contract to EB, the Post reported that “Judge Robert G. Doumar ruled … that Tenneco Inc.’s Newport News Shipbuilding Company in Virginia would suffer immediate and irreparable harm if the Navy were allowed to proceed with implementing its decision to award General Dynamics Corporation’s Groton shipyard the contract to construct the Navy’s second SEAWOLF attack sub.” The article explained that the Federal judge had “acted on a complaint … that the Navy had ignored the express language of Congress, and it.s own procurement criteria, by choosing the Groton yard, which won the first SEA WOLF contract two years ago.” It continued to note that Newport News officials state that the overall effect of being shut out of the first two submarines of the class will be the loss of 12,500 jobs by 1995. That same issue of the Post reported that “General Dynamics’ top executives doubled their base salaries under a motivational program designed to boost the company’s stock price.”
- Reuters, 9 May: “General Dynamics Corporation said a temporary restraining order that halted work on the Navy’s second SEA WOLF attack submarine may force the company’s Electric Boat Division to lay off some employees.”
- Defense News, 13 May, and Inside the Nayy, 13 May, both ran featured articles describing the award situation, the predicted consequences to each yard of not getting the contract, the dispute over the previous congressional language and the part played in the award by the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
- Hartford Courant, 16 May: “New England congressmen will counterattack their Virginia colleagues next week when they try to get Congress to direct Secretary of Defense Richard B. Cheney to award the construction contract for the next SEAWOLF submarine on the basis of competitive bids.”
- Inside the Pentagon, 16 May: Under a page one headline of “Navy Abruptly Cancels Newport News Contract Amid Reports of Retaliation,” it was reported that, on 7 May, the “Navy pulled Newport News off a contract for new technology design for a submarine nuclear propulsion system … ” The article went on to report that Newport News officials said that there was no connection between the contract protest and this design contract cancellation. The body of the news was contained in the following four lines out of over sixty in the article: “Newport News and Electric Boat were heading competing teams that were conducting design studies for the next-generation submarine, known as the CENTURION program; the Navy intended to select one of the teams in 1992 for the final design contract Instead the Navy last week selected Electric Boat as the winner and removed Newport News from the contract.”
- Wall Street Journal, 21 May: “‘The House, inserting itself into a heated Pentagon contract dispute, rejected language that would have required Tenneco Inc.’s shipbuilding unit to build the Navy’s third SEA WOLF attack submarine. By a 235-157 vote, lawmakers approved an amendment mandating that Newport News Shipbuilding Company compete with General Dynamics Corporation’s Electric Boats Division for the $2 billion job.”
- The Washington Post, 25 May: “A federal judge issued an injunction today barring construction on the nation’s second SEA WOLF submarine until a lawsuit over the contract for the vessel is heard later this summer. U.S. District Judge Robert G. Doumar’s action extended a restraining order be issued May 7. The order bars Electric Boat from starting work on the SEA WOLF. The report continued to say that -nte judge ordered Newport News Shipbuilding to maintain a $2 million bond to protect Electric Boat from any losses during the life of the injunction.”
- Wall Street Journal, 27 June: “Navy Secretary Lawrence Garrett acknowledged that by the end of the decade, the Navy most likely won’t be able to afford any more of the fast, very quiet attack submarines, which cost roughly $2 billion apiece. In his first interview spelling out revised submarine building plans, Mr. Garrett also said he has ordered Navy brass to speed up research and development work on a smaller, less expensive vessel – code named CENTURION — now intended to be America’s premier underseas weapon.”
After briefly describing the legal battle between the two shipbuilders over the second SEA WOLF contract, the Journal went on to report: “Documents filed by the government in the case reveal that David Yockey, the Pentagon’s chief acquisition official, has flatly told the Navy it is inevitable that only one of the yards will receive SEA WOLF work after 1994. Mr. Yockey also has overruled Navy desires to keep both yards in contention throughout the life of the program, arguing that such a policy, designed to maintain the U.S. industrial base, is bound to increase unit costs.”
The Gulf War: There have been quite a few observations printed about the Gulf War and what it means to the future security needs of the United States. A number of those are, in general, applicable to each component of the U.S. armed forces. Perhaps the most pertinent, however, is the often-heard caution that we should not learn the wrong lessons. This was said quite succinctly in a mid-May column by the noted defense analyst, Jeffrey Record. Portions of that commentary are reproduced below. Another important facet of the Gulf War was not treated in any significant depth by the press commentaries and that had to do with the first testing of the latest revision to our basic defense organization laws. Senator Sam Nunn, Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee spoke to that in the second article cited below.
- Baltimore Sun. 16 May: “The U.S. defense analytical community is erupting with instant lessons learned from the recent war against Iraq.” … ”Caution, however, is in order. From a purely military standpoint, it is far from clear just how much Operation Desert Storm proved, in terms of lessons meaningful for future U.S. military operations. The stunning U.S. and allied victory over Iraq forces in Kuwait was in large measure the product of a unique set of highly favorable diplomatic, political, strategic, operational, and other conditions that are most unlikely ever again to be replicated.”
“The United States … had the luxury of almost six months to deploy forces to the Gulf and provide them on-the-spot training, and Iraq was in no position to disrupt U.S. and allted supply Jines to the Gulf (SubRev emphasis) … Saudi Arabia itself was a logistical cornucopia without equal anywhere in the third world.”
“Against no other opponent in history has the U.S. military enjoyed so swift and unqualified a success. The Plains Indians put up a better fight against the U.S. Cavalry. All of this suggests that great care should be taken in assessing the more general lessons of Desert Storm. The unique strategic, political and logistical conditions that made Desert Storm such a success may be absent in future crises, and Iraq’s military incompetence cannot be duplicated on demand elsewhere. Indeed, our future adversaries are drawing their own lessons from Desert Storm, and are not likely to be caught as flat-footed as the Iraqi army was in Kuwait”
- Atlanta Constitution, 31 March: Senator Sam Nunn (D-GA) wrote an article entitled “Military Reform Paved Way for Gulf Triumph” in which be cited the effects of recent legislation in streamlining the way that the U.S. military does business. In explaining the reasons for the legislation, he said: “Before 1986, the Defense Department suffered from serious organizational problems. Professional military advice to the Secretary of Defense and the President was sometimes slow and watered down, often the product of a four-service compromise. The military chain of command was confused, with the field component commanders usually looking to their service chiefs in the Pentagon for guidance rather than to the Commander in Chief in the field.”
He went on to describe the action which Congress took to remedy that situation: “The 1986 Goldwater-Nichols Act sought to improve military advice to civilian decision-makers by enhancing the position of the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. To clarify the chain of command, it mandated that the four services are to train, equip and organize our military forces; however, the operational command of those forces was clearly reserved to the war-fighting commanders.”
In discussing the way in which the new law was applied, Senator Nunn said: ” … Admiral William Crowe led the way in implementing the new system. The reform with the most significance for Operation Desert Storm was the strengthening of the command and personnel authority of the field commanders.” … “As a result of the Goldwater-Nichols Act, General Schwarzkopf clearly had the authority necessary to carry out his demanding responsibilities.” “Another benefit of the Goldwater-Nichols Act has been its effect on the quality of joint or multi-service staffs,” … “The resulting infusion of high-quality officers was evident in the superb performance of the staffs of General Schwarzkopf and the other joint organizations that participated in the Persian Gulf.”
- Navy Times. 8 April: Some specific news of the U.S. submarine involvement in the Gulf War was reported in the press as a result of Vice Admiral Roger F. Bacon’s words at the Navy League’s Sea-Air-Space Exposition in Washington. The trade paper reported that “Thirteen U.S. Navy attack submarines played a crucial surveillance role during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm … ” They went on to detail that participation as: “Before and during hostilities, eight attack submarines were involved in surveillance and reconnaissance operations and provided a warning screen for carrier battle groups as they transited the Mediterranean enroute to the Persian Gulf. Bacon said.
“After hostilities began, five additional submarines operated under the tactical command of Army General H. Norman Schwarzkopf, Commander-in-Chief of U.S. forces in the Gulf. Two conducted submerged submarine-launched cruise missile attacks on Iraq, Bacon said.”
Cruise Missiles: The introduction of submarine-launched cruise missiles into actual combat has focused attention on those weapons and on the potential they have for the future of underseas warfare forces.
- Inside the Pentagon, 20 June: reported on the Navy’s use of cruise missiles in the Gulf War, citing a 15 May report compiled by the CNO: “The USS LOUISVILLE (SSN-724) fired the first submarine-launched TOMAHAWK cruise missile in combat histol}’ on Janual}’ 19 while submerged in the Red Sea … The LOUISVILLE fired a total of eight TO MARA WKs during the integrated air campaign against Iraq, the Navy says. The USS PITTSBURGH (SSN-720), the only other U.S. submarine to fire TO MARA WKs during the Persian Gulf War, shot off four TLAMs while submerged in the Mediterranean Sea, say sources . familiar with the Navy’s activities during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. A total of 288 TO MARA WK. landattack missiles (TLAMs) were successfully launched by the Navy during Operation Desert Storm… Of the 288 missiles fired, six hit the water and never made it to shore, sources say. Additionally, nine TOMAHAWKs never made it out of the missile tubes. Had those firings been successful, the total 1LAMs launched during Desert storm would have been 297. “
- Defense News, 3 June: published two articles related to the enhancement of Navy cruise missile capability. The first concerns an upgrade of the TOMAHAWK missile and the second refers to an advanced missile development effort.
“Planners in the Pentagon’s Joint Cruise Missile Project Office are accelerating efforts to define an improved Block IV version of the TOMAHAWK cruise missile, officials say. Putting the Block IV on a faster track is a result of TOMAHAWK’s success in the Persian Gulf War and the demise of the Long Range Conventional Standoff Weapon (LRCSW).” .. .”Block IV, however, will not be a secondgeneration cruise missile, officials say. Instead, it will represent a continuing evolution of the existing TOMAHAWK’s capability with an emphasis on increasing the types of targets the weapon can hit, such as relocatable missile launchers. Block IV also will focus on reducing the time required to plan TOMAHAWK missions.”
In that same issue, the paper reported that: “Navy researchers are launching a new effort to dramatically improve the capabilities of the next generation of cruise missiles to enhance the future power projection capabilities of U.S. Navy surface ships in low-intensity conflicts. Termed Precision Strike Initiatitve (PSI), the long-term research effort’s objective is to assess a variety of guidance and mission planning technologies that can be integrated into future versions of TOMAHAWK cruise missiles or other advanced unmanned strike systems …. ”
TRIDENT Missiles: On 9 May, Inside the Pentagon speculated on the effect that will be felt due to the shortage of Mk-5/W..SSwarheads for the TRIDENT II missile. On 17 May, the Washington Times reported that: ‘The Navy has decided not to fully arm the long-range ballistic missiles carried aboard some of its new TRIDENT submarines because of a shortage of its most powerful nuclear warheads, military sources said yesterday. Unlike the eight subs in the Pacific Fleet, which are fully armed but with older missiles, the first four subs assigned to the Atlantic Fleet will have fewer than the maximum 192 W88 warheads each, said the Pentagon sources, who discussed the matter on the condition they not be identified. The Navy’s decision, which private analysts say has little or no immediate effect on national security, was forced by a prolonged shutdown of the Rocky Flats weapons plant near Denver that is the only maker of plutonium pits, which form the core of all nuclear warheads.”
- The Guardian (UK), 23 April: ‘The Ministry of Defense has dismissed calls for a halt to the handling and transportation of British nuclear weapons pending the outcome of an independent safety review. The demand follows an investigation – The Drell Report – commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, which indicates that the TRIDENT submarine-launched missile and some other American nuclear weapons are more likely to explode accidently than was supposed.” [Ed. ‘s Note: see April1991 SUBMARINE REVIEW, In the News, pages 95 &: 96].
Submarine Safety Concerns: As a front page story on both 20 and 21 May, The San Die&o Union reported allegations of serious safety concerns among several members of the USS GUARDFISH crew. The Los An&eles Times. on 23 May, reported that the ship bad gone to sea on the 21st without the predicted incident of crew members missing movement. They also reported that Greenpeace had held a press conference on the 22nd to further publicize the allegations. The paper also printed the Submarine Group 5 statement calling the allegations unfounded.
In an unrelated issue, Associated Press reported on 30 April that “The Navy has rejected safety recommendations from the National Transportation Safety Board for submarines in coastal waters, the board said Monday. The board made the recommendations after the June 14, 1989 sinking of the tug BARCONA off California after a tow cable was snagged by a submerged nuclear submarine, the USS HOUSTON.” Nayy Times of 13 May carried a full page report of the incident and the NTSB report.
Unified Command Plan Changes: [Ed. ‘s Note: see America’s New National Security Strqtegv. SUBMARINE REVIEW,· April 1991). Defense News of 13 May reported, under the headline “Pentagon Irons Out Plan to Merge Nuclear Forces,” that “U.S. Department of Defense officials are preparing a plan that would merge Air Force and Navy nuclear forces into one command responsible for planning, deterring and implementing nuclear war, U.S. military sources say. The new U.S. Strategic Command could combine all three legs of the strategic triad with an Air Force general or a Navy admiral rotating command responsibility for the Navy-operated nuclear submarines and Air Force-operated bombers and land-based missiles, sources say.”
Royal Navy Submarines: Defense News of 20 May, in commenting on criticism of the UPHOLDER submarine program in the UK, reported that “Defense Ministry officials were grilled by the House of Commons Defense Committee last Wednesday over the development of production problems of the new UPHOLDER submarines. Brian Hawtin, Assistant Under Secretary (Materiel/Naval), said “I would not like to pretend it was a total success story.” He said HMS UPHOLDER, the flfSt of the four boats to be ordered, was three years late and $70 million – more than ten percent — over the original estimate. The in-service dates for the other three boats had slipped between three and 18 months, be said. The major problems have been encountered with the weapon handling and discharge system and the main propulsion system. Trials have revealed that UPHOLDER’s torpedo doors cannot be properly shut, allowing water into the tubes. Officials acknowledged the fault is with the original design of the system by the Admiralty Research &tablishment and not by the builders. House member Winston Churchill asked last Wedsneday, ‘Does it still make sense for the MoD to continue to insist on designing those vessels and large parts of them in-house?’.”
On the nuclear submarine side of the RN house the news was about program cancellation. London Times of 26 June reported that “Royal Navy plans to design a new nuclearpowered submarine for the next century have been abandoned for lack of money. An announcement about the death of the proposed SSN-20 submarine is expected early next month.” …. “Now the Navy has come up with an alternative — an ungrading of the TRAFALGER class boat, the Navy’s latest generation submarine and one of the quietest in the world. The defense misinstry is expected to order six of the uprated TRAFALGAR class boats from the mid-1990s.”