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The ten pages of In the News items in the January 1992 SUBMARINE REVIEW were virtually all devoted to nuclear submarines. It is recognized that the readers of the REVIEW – primarily the members of the Naval Submarine League–have a lot wider interest than just the nuclear powered submarines.

A copy of Armada International, Dec/Jan 91!92. with its numerous submarine-related items, made me realize how interesting these bits of news are for the REVIEW’s readership. Some of the items which seem appropriate for inclusion in In the News would be:

  • “Litton will develop and demonstrate the operational advantages of hull-mounted submarine fibre optic sonars … and has demonstrated an aU-optical towed array;
  • Swedish Ordnance has been contracted to supply the 43 X 2 anti-submarine torpedo for delivery in 1993. The torpedo is wire-guided with an advanced homing head and can detect and track submarines in both deep seas and coastal waters. It will be operable from submarines;
  • The URSULA, Britain’s third UPHOLDER class dieselelectric submarine, has 9,000 a-h flat-plate lead acid cells;
  • 12,000 Trimble Navigation Trimpack GPS receivers are on order. 1,000 were used in the Gulf War (with a geographic position accuracy of 30 feet). The Trimpack provides a cold start 3-D fix in 2.5 minutes and calculates a new position every second thereafter. About the size of a car radio, it has a colour liquid crystal mapping display and a near-gadget price-tag. (Yacht owners are buying such GPS receivers for about $1,200);
  • Kockums AB has received an order to install a Stirling Air Independent Power system in the new A-19/Gotland class submarines — the first to be launched in 1994. The Stirling system burns pure oxygen and diesel fuel in a pressurized combustor. This system is also installed on the French SAGA submarines and contracts have also been signed for it in Japan and Australia. The exhaust products can be discharged noiselessly and without trace. It can be retrofitted into current submarines;
  • McDonnell Douglas’s Harpoon anti-ship missile now has Block lD improvements which can be retrofitted to most of the current Harpoon missiles in inventory. The improved Harpoon can fly a clover-leaf search pattern if the target is not successfully acquired on the first pass, and its range is almost doubled by the BJock lD improvements.”

Think how such technologies might improve the performance of many types of submarines.

W.J. Ruhe


Sumner Shapiro’s review of Submarines of the Russian and Soviet Navies. 1718-1990 in the January 1992 issue makes an important point that should be emphasized for readers of the REVIEW and other submarine officers. Shapiro states (page 107): “while I agree that the Soviets have strived in recent years for qualitative improvements in their submarine force — and made significant progress in that regard– I fail to see any real evidence of their reaching the point by the year 2000, as cited [in the book] where their submarines will be equal or superior to the U.S. Navy in all technologies except passive sonar and in the quality of personnel… Presenting such speculation as fact does a disservice to the reader … ”

To paraphrase, Shapiro is saying that the Soviets could not have achieved superiority by 2000 in

hull materials*  reactor power density
hull design   weapon systems
dive depth*  automation systems
maximum speed*  post-attack survivability

First, these were not stated as “fact” but — as noted by Shapiro — as speculation for the year 2000. Further, as stated in the book, this speculation is based on an article by a former Naval Intelligence analyst that was published in the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings.

Second, it is painfully obvious that the Soviets were already ahead of the U.S. Navy in submarines already at sea in at least five of the eight categories — indicated by asterisks in the above list.

A look at the “blending” of sail and hull in the AKULA and BELUGA designs, the hull lines of those submarines, and certain other features indicates that the Russians may already be ahead of the U.S. Navy in hull design.

Weapon systems are more difficult to evaluate. The Soviets certainly predated the U.S. Navy in underwater-launched guided missiles, ballistic missiles in submarines, very-long-range ballistic missiles, tactical ballistic missiles launched from submarines, large-diameter torpedo tubes, wake-homing torpedoes, etc. There is certainly evidence of a more varied and intensive submarine weapons development program than in the United States.

Post-attack survivability is also a highly speculative issue. Double-hull construction and internal compartmentation are features of Soviet submarines that contribute to this feature, as do superior speed, depth, and possibly maneuverability.

While the loss of the MIKE SSN certainly raises survivability questions, the survival of a YANKEE SSGN for several days after a missile propellant explosion and the continuation of another SSBN on patrol after being rammed by a U.S. submarine are important evidence on the other side of the question.

Thus, there are ample indications that the current state of respective submarine technologies and Soviet submarine development rates — coupled with a large number of R&D submarines– could have surpassed U.S. submarine technology in most areas by the year 2000.

Third, Shapiro’s statement that “presenting speculation as fact does a disservice to the reader” is frightening for two reasons: (1) it was not presented as fact, as noted above, and (2) such speculation is very useful when we see the failures of Western intelligence in the past to predict foreign submarine developments. As cited in the book, intelligence failed to accurately predict when the Soviets would put their first nuclear submarine to sea, their development of high-speed and deep-diving submarines, the use of titanium, wake-homing torpedoes, SSBN building rates, the low noise level of their 1980s submarines, etc.

In 1989 a blue-ribbon panel convened by the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, which included several senior U.S. submarine experts and Submarine League members, called for a complete revision of the U.S. approach to ASW because just the development of quieter Soviet submarines “could bring about a sea-change in sea warfare — and not one to our benefit. Soviet hunter subs may now gain a substantial lead over U.S. sub hunters.”

Shapiro wishes to ignore such speculation — as well as historic facts.

Norman Polmar


This is first letter to NAVAL SUBMARINE LEAGUE. I am a TV director of SAPPORO branch of JAPAN-BROADCASTING-COOPERATION (NHK = Nihon Hoso kyokai). I usually make programs about history.

I’m investigating the campaign of naval submarines at the Soviet-Far East (Vladivostok, Sakhalin, Hokkaido, Kuril-Islands) in August 1945. Where were U.S. submarines, and CCCP submarines? Where were the mines of U.S., CCCP and JAPAN? What attacked what, who defeated who, what destroyed what? What occurred in the Soviet-Far East Sea in August 1945?

If there is any data or retired submariners about the area in that time, please connect with me.

We Japanese don’t know what occurred at the Soviet-Far East Sea in August 1945.

We Japanese don’t know what was the plan of Stalin, whether he wanted to get Hokkaido or Kuril-Islands in August of 1945.

I want to know the truth of history.

Hiroaki Shimizu
1 – chome WEST Oh-Dori
Chuo-ku, Sapporo, JAPAN 060


The January issue arrived recently and was interesting as always. Captain R. D. Gumbert’s article recounting the history of Submarine Squadron Fourteen was particularly appropriate in this time of significant change in the strategic balance of power. However, his statement that “USS GEORGE WASHINGTON deployed on the first submarine strategic missile patrol” is not correct. She was the first Polaris submarine to make a strategic patrol, and the first submarine to cany ballistic missiles on a strategic patrol, but the honor of the first submarine strategic missile patrol rests with COMSUBP AC, Submarine Squadron ONE, and if my memory serves me well – with USS TUNNY (SSG-282). I was on station in the North Pacific in USS BARBERO (SSG-317) conducting what I recall was the second submarine strategic patrol on the date that GEORGE WASHINGTON sailed for her historic first patrol. The BARBERO’s crew was amused to learn that GW’s crew was awarded the Navy Unit Citation at dockside before they sailed. Her CO, CDR Osborne, was awarded the Legion of Merit at the same time. Both awards were undoubtedly well deserved but to those of us who were already on station in a twiceconverted WW II diesel submarine carrying Regulus I missiles, it had a certain irony. The four SSG’s and one SSGN of Squadron One conducted 41 submarine strategic patrols from the late summer of 1960 through mid-1964 before the first SSBN arrived to pick up the load in the Pacific.

John F. O’Connel
Captain, USN(Ret.)
USS BARBERO (SSG-317) (Black and Blue)


Recently the members of the NSL received an urgent request from Admiral Kauderer asking for us to take an active part in an attempt to get the SEA WOLF program back on track. The Admiral argues that to stay in the submarine development and building game we must build more SEA WOLF’s.

I question this. Our continuance of an advanced submarine technology program for its own sake makes little sense without a real threat in the arena in which the SEA WOLF is to operate. What threat is out there that warrants our continuance of the SEA WOLF program?

If the NSL promotes this program only to keep an unneeded technological base alive, we may find ourselves responsible for the creation of a submarine building WorkFair program. What constitutes the threat that our 1-688 today, or CENTURION in the near future, can’t handle? If E.B. folds, so be it. The marketplace sets the rules in this society. The other (former) nuclear shipbuilders will get themselves re-certified and will (in the absence of E.B.) pick up the work when CENTURION’s time comes. Personnel released from submarine design activities today will not evaporate -they’ll be out there building oil platforms and Space Stations.

Is our submarine design/building establishment founded on such an unstable foundation that it will all fall with the cancellation of additional SEA WOLF orders?

We have plenty of fine SSN’s out there now. Why do we need the SEA WOLF today?

David D. Merriman, Jr.


Dear Mr. Merriman:

Thank you for your thoughtful letter of February 12, 1992. Perhaps you read more into my letter than I intended. I certainly would not condone creation of a “submarine building WorkFair program.” However, the issue of industrial capability is a much larger one than that of a single shipyard’s failure. As I noted in the letter, there are hundreds of vendors, contractors and suppliers whose livelihoods depend almost entirely on supporting submarine building programs. Some of these industries are absolutely critical and unique to the construction of future classes of nuclear submarines.

If the Administration doesn’t find a way to avoid a total hiatus in submarine construction, I believe that we will be throwing away 40 years of lessons which were learned under the most valid of tests (at sea, against good unalerted opponents), and that we will find it painfully slow and expensive to counter the next threat to our national principles.

If we are to remain a major maritime power, we must retain the ability to reconstitute front line submarines in an orderly manner.

B. M. Kauderer
Vice Admiral, USN(Ret.)
President, NSL


Dear Admiral Kauderer:

I have received your letter requesting all of us to support the Submarine Force with contacts, letters, and phone calls to the Congress and the Executive Branch and I am responding. I also share your concerns for the disappearance of the Industrial Base … there are many firms (us among them) who face severe problems with shrinking workloads, and a bleak future. For over 75 years we have developed the technology and work force to build unique and exceptional submarine periscopes.

Industry faces other problems, including competition from foreign firms who are chasing the few dollars in the Navy’s budget. We certainly have no fear of competition, but we don’t like to see our tax dollars go overseas in a bidding war which would close down facilities which would keep the submarine force’s support base viable. Such a case is the upcoming R&D program for the “Photonics Mast Program”, which is a nonpenetrating periscope.

We urge you to ask the members of the Naval Submarine League to ask the Navy and their Congressmen to adopt a policy that restricts those few remaining research and development dollars to United States Industry.

Daniel F. Desmond
President, Kollmorgen Corporation
Electro-Optical Division


SEEKING: The CO of the submarine whose torpedo nose dived into the mud at the Pearl Harbor testing range in 1944 or 1945 (exact time forgotten). It surfaced alongside the destroyer USS DAVID W. TAYLOR (DD-551), was retrieved, and returned by the Flrst Lieutenant (me) and boat crew. You promised a fabulous dinner at the Royal Hawaiian, but since the DWf was returning to the South Pacific that day, you gave us a verbal IOU. The DWf is having its first reunion this September in Independence, Missouri, and we are now ready to collecl However, location and date are negotiable. Contact Vince Colan, P.O. Box 2207, Hendersonville, NC 28793, or phone (704) 697-2748.

Thank you very much for your assistance.

Vincent J. Colan


Commander Nathaniel Caldwell’s article, Canadian Soverei~nty and the Nuclear Submarine Pro&ram, (January ’92 issue) is very informative and helpful. There are a few troublesome areas with respect to freedom of navigation, however. If these interpretations were to be followed by serving officers operating U.S. warships, it would weaken traditional navigation rights. Perhaps you have already received some commentary about these areas from others. I refer to p.52, para.3. I would differ with Commander Caldwell in the following points:

1. It is not “… customary for warships to notify the affected country of their intent to cross territorial waters.” This was at issue in the 1988 transit of the Soviet territorial sea south of Sevastopol by the USS CARON and the USS YORKTOWN. Secretary of State Baker met with Foreign Minister Shevardnadze in September of the following year at Jackson Hole, Wyoming. They signed the following language with reference to prior notification as part of the document, Uniform Interpretation of Rules of International Law Governing Innocent Passage.

Para 2: “All ships, including warships, regardless of cargo, armament or means of propulsion, enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea in accordance with international law, for which neither prior notification nor authorization is required.”

The problem is that prior notification infers a need for such notification and respondent authorization. This is a restriction on freedom of navigation which is unacceptable.

2 Ships of the USCG (Icebreakers) are, of course, warships (ships of a state) entitled to immunity under the law of the sea.

Scott Allen, Ph.D.
The Law of the Sea Institute
University of Hawaii

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