Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate


Toward a New Design Submarine

  • Inside The Pentagon of July 30, 1992 commented on the Navy’s submission to Congress of a report on “ concepts, technical alternatives and goals for the Centurion.” The weekly trade paper lead their piece with “‘The Navy is planning on a ‘streamlined’ acquisition process for its next generation attack submarine, the CEN1URION, in order to begin construction in FY-98.”

The article reported that the Navy did not provide a cost goal to Congress but went on to say that ‘The report estimated that research and development will cost $3.4 billion for Centuri-on and another $725 million to $750 million for developing a new nuclear propulsion plant. The report said the Navy is eyeing a Centurion submarine between 6,000 and 8,500 tons in order to incorporate the technology and weapons systems necessary to satisfy the Navy’s preliminary goals for the boat.”

Inside the Navv of September 7, 1992 reported on the action taken by Pentagon acquisition chief Donald Yockey after approval was granted for the Navy to move ahead with concept definition studies. The article explained that “Following an Aug. 18 Defense Acquisition Board review of the Navy’s program, Yockey issued an Acquisition Decision Memorandum, dated Aug. 28, that includes tight guidelines for a Cost and Operational Effectiveness Analysis the Navy will perform on designs for the new sub.”

The article continued to report that Mr. Yockey has directed that “‘The Navy is to move ahead immediately with the COEA and as part of that process it should examine six design alterna-tives the Office of the Secretary of Defense has laid out.” It went on that “Yockey is asking the Navy to examine the feasibility of the following six submarine alternatives:

-SSN 21: …at a production rate of one boat per year at one shipyard.

-SSN 21(V): … two lower cost versions… in the range of 10,000 tons.

-SSN 6881: …variations that would incorporate all available technology.

-A new nuclear-powered attack submarine: … to include designs smaller than the 6881. The Navy is to look at designs under 5000 tons also.

-Trident(V) …variations to the Trident design with differen-ces in tube volume.

-Conventional submarines… to consider diesel power, closed cycle diesel, air independent propulsion, fuel cells, a sterling engine, advanced batteries, and a hybrid submarine using a small reactor to recharge its batteries. In examining the alternatives, the Navy is asked to consider the effect of overseas basing of submarines.”

  • Defense News of August 31-September 6, 1992 reported further on that action with “Despite approving the U.S. Navy’s request to begin designing a new attack submarine, top Penta-gon acquisition officials limited funds for concept studies to $30 million until a submarine industrial base study is completed, according to a synopsis for a Defense Acquisition Board review, released Aug. 28.”

Submarine-Related Technology

  • Inside the Navy of November 2, 1992 reported that ..A joint U.S./Russian project exploring new techniques for detecting submerged Trident ballistic-missile submarines from space so far has not produced the detection capability Russian scientists claimed it would, according to a naval analyst. Russian scientists ‘believe they have succeeded in developing the technology for locating submerged Trident submarines using airborne or space-based microwave sensors’ and offered to conduct the joint experiments to show the Navy the Russian capability, according to the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Inside the Nany’s article went on to say that “”The Russian scientists made their claims in the defense publication Signal earlier this year,” and that “According to the committee, a letter from Under Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz to Dr. Euvgeny Velikov, vice president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, ‘confirmed that, for more than a year, U.S. and Russian scientists have been working together to design a cooperative project to understand the scientific phenomena related to non-acoustic imaging of ocean surface features and had recently completed a remote sensing test off the east coast of the United States that involved use of the Russian ALMAZ satellite.’ The Committee said Wolfowitz indicated in his letter that in the next phase of what is expected to be a two-year test program, ‘joint experiments will be conducted next summer off the eastern coast of Russia.'”

In an interesting tangent to the U.S./Russian joint project, the trade paper noted that “… the committee urged DOD to maintain an independent program within the U.S. intelligence community for conducting research and development on non-acoustic antisubmarine warfare technology. The committee expressed concern that the program, Project Tsunami, possibly was being considered for termination or for being phased out The committee believes that ‘Senate approval of the START n treaty should be accompanied by strong support for the joint U.S./Russian submarine detection test program and robust funding of Project Tsunami.’ Project Tsunami is a Central Intelligence Agency project, the naval source said. He said the project was started about six or seven years ago to independent-ly assess the technology, aside from what the Navy has done, and has been ongoing since through a major funding effort.”

U.S. Export of Diesel Submarines

  • Inside the Pentagon of June 25th reported that “The Navy…delivered a long-awaited report to Congress outlining the criteria that U.S. shipyards must meet to receive Navy approval to export diesel-powered submarines. Although the Navy report lays out stringent criteria, sources familiar with the report say it represents a reasonable beginning for moving the issue forward.” The paper quoted an unnamed source as saying that “It’s a good start, but there’s still a lot to resolve.” The paper also commented that “Some of those pressing for the Navy to approve export of diesel submarines object to some of the criteria, saying that they reDect Cold-War concerns that no longer apply in the new world order.”
  • The Baltimore Sun of July 2, 1992 carried a commentary by Richard Sia of its Washington Bureau headlined “Members of Congress press Navy to end opposition to diesel-sub exports.” The article’s lead paragraph stated that “Members of Congress are engaged in an election-year effort to •save American jobs’ by trying to reverse the navy’s long-standing opposition to diesel submarine exports-even though U.S. shipbuilders seem reluc-tant to dive into the market and haven’t built a conventionally sub for more than 30 years.”

Later in the article reference was made to  that industrial reluctance with “A senior shipbuilding executive, who declined to be identified, said the legislative maneuvering would only raise false hopes for thousands of workers who may eventually find themselves out of work. U.S. entry into the export market is ‘not very realistic because there are lot of suppliers of diesel subs in the world, and the market’s not that good,’ the execu-tive said. ‘None of us has a product to sell…'”

Another viewpoint was offered by the commentator with “‘The U.S. intelligence community has concluded that interna-tional sales of diesel submarines are nearing a saturation point. Many prospective buyers are finding they no longer can afford the $300 million-plus price tag for a small boat that has more prestige value than actual application in projecting a credible defense of local coastlines, one analyst said.”

Prior to listing various legislators involved in the effort to authorize diesel sub exports, the paper offered a pro view with “Advocates of submarine exports, such as John J. Stocker, president of the Shipbuilder Council of America, have heard the Navy’s objections before and regard its warnings of technology losses as grossly exaggerated. The shipbuilding industry, which is totally dependent on one customer–the Navy-finds itself in ‘a truly awful situation’ because it has few remedies to offset declining business, he said.”

U.S.N. Submarine Force Structure

  • Inside the Pentagon of August 6, 1992 carried a story entitled “Navy to Dismantle 100 Nuclear-Powered Submarines by Year 2000”. The paper’s lead paragraph stated that “The Navy is going to spend $2.7 billion through the year 2000 to deactivate and dispose of 100 nuclear-powered submarines, according to a new report by the General Accounting Office. Although the Navy bas dismantled only two nuclear submarines to date, The GAO says the Navy is stepping up its efforts and will have fully disposed of 85 of the 100 submarines by 2000.”

The paper went on “The July 22 report, Nuclear Submarines: Navy Efforts to Reduce Inactivation Costs is one of the detailed descriptions to date of the efforts to deactivate Navy submarines and dispose of the nuclear materials. The first deactivation of a nuclear-powered submarine began in FY-69, but between 1969 and 1980 the Navy started deactivating only four, accord-ing to GAO. Through FY-91, the Navy has started 42 deactiva-tions at a cost of $1.2 billion; the service intends to start 48 submarine deactivations during FY-92 to FY-2000 at a cost of $1.5 billion.”

In explanation of the process, the paper stated that “When submarines are deactivated, the reactors are defueled, the ship’s systems are shut down, and the missile compartments are dismantled. The nuclear reactor compartment is removed from the boat and towed up the Columbia River on a barge to Energy Department’s Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where it is buried. The GAO says the disposal of reactor compartments is expected to continue at the rate of six per year through FY-99. The deactivation process takes about six to eight months.”

  • Inside the Pentagon of September 3, 1992 reported on the completion of the recommended submarine force level study by the JCS. The entire piece is quoted: “The Joint Chiefs of Staff has established a new Base Force goal for Navy attack subma-rines in the range between 50 and 60 submarines, but 55 will be the likely number that will guide Navy planning, according to sources familiar with the Joint Chiefs of Staff study establishing the new requirement. The JCS recommendation overturns the current Base Force goal of 80 attack submarines.

“‘The Navy currently has just over 80 attack submarines in the active fleet; so the planned reduction means that the Navy does not have to start building new submarines again until early in the next decade, when the SSN 688 class submarines start to retire. But because the SSN 688s will retire at the rate of three to five submarines per year, the Navy wants to start ramping up production of submarines in the late 1990s to prepare for the rapid retirement of the SSN 688 fleet.

“In order to sustain a fleet of 55 attack submarines, the Navy would have to procure about two submarines a year, submarines have a service life between 25 and 30 years. The Defense Science Board currently is studying ways to extend the service life of nuclear-powered submarines.

“The JCS was tasked in January to re-examine the Base Force requirement for attack submarines as part of an overall Pentagon review of the Navy’s submarine force.”

  • Inside the Navy of November 16, 1992 commented on the further delay of the Defense Department report on the future of the Submarine Force. “The report ordered in January by Deputy Defense Secretary Donald Atwood to assess the future of the submarine force once again bas been delayed. Originally, Atwood requested that the report be delivered in late July but that a deadline was impossible, a Pentagon spokesman said.” The trade paper went on to say that the Pentagon is “shooting for the end of the year”.

The piece also explained the make-up of the desired composite report: “In a Jan. 22 memorandum, Atwood assigned various tasks to the Navy, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Under Secretaries of Defense and the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Command, Control, Communications and Intelligence, Duane Andrews. Andrews was directed to prepare an assess-ment of the future threat to American interests. The Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Donald Yockey, was charged with the responsibility of looking at the capacity in the public and private shipyards for overhaul, repair, missile conversion and refueling in order to make recommendations for achieving increased efficiency. In addition to determining the number of submarines needed and their operational uses, the Joint Staff was tasked to pull together all of the other reports into a comprehensive plan.”

The Industrial Base

  • Inside the Navy of October 26, 1992 reported on the projected closures of naval shipyards. In their lead article, the paper said “The Navy and the Defense Department reportedly are considering closing four naval shipyards during the next round of base closures in 1993.” It continued to state that “… the Defense Department recently has been seeking comments from the House Armed Services Committee on the possible closures of the naval shipyards at Portsmouth, NH, Charleston, SC, Long Beach, CA, and Mare Island, CA, an industry source said.”

In highlighting the effect on the submarine service, the paper commented that “In his March report on preserving the U.S. nuclear capability, Adm. Bruce DeMars, the Director of naval nuclear propulsion programs, warned that there were more naval shipyards than were needed due to a lack of submarine work. ‘There is currently enough planned work to sustain the equivalent of five of the six nuclear-qualified naval shipyards,’ he said. ‘Inactivating rather than refueling the early SSN 688s through 1998 reduces annual workload by the equivalent of an additional naval shipyard.’ Mare Island, Portsmouth and Charleston are nuclear-qualified shipyards. That leaves Pearl Harbor, Puget Sound, WA, and Norfolk, VA DeMars said in his report that there was an ‘absolute requirement’ for the shipyards at Norfolk and Puget Sound’ because of their large dry dock capacity and special facilities.'”

Foreign Submarines

  • Jane’s Defence Weekly of May 30, 1992 reported that Israel plans to renew the search for a submarine lost at sea almost twenty five years ago. The magazine piece stated that “‘The Israel Defence Force plans to renew the search for the DAKAR diesel electric patrol submarine, lost in January 1968. DAKAR disappeared during delivery from the UK to Israel with the loss of 69 Israeli crew.

“‘The Israeli Navy has draWn up a plan that will include the use of numerous naval craft following a scientific study carried out by Israel and other specialists on the possible whereabouts of the boat.

“A previous search for the DAKAR five years ago concen-trated on areas near the Egyptian coast. No trace of the submarine was found.”

  • Washington Times of June 2, 1992 reported from Stockholm about Sweden’s reaction to submarine incursions by the Soviets. “The Cold War may have ended, but the Swedes are still waiting for an explanation from the Kremlin for all those rogue Soviet submarines that were creeping around Swedish shores last year.

“The last incident–the 40th incursion since 1985-occurred in September, when a Swedish Navy undeiWater hydrophone picked up the sounds of a minisubmarine inching toward Sweden’s shore. The submarine ran away when the Navy sent torpedo boats to hunt it down.

“In March, Sweden’s military commander, Gen. Bengt Gustafsson, issued orders for the Navy to fire at will with new homing torpedoes if the submarines return, but none have shown up. It means ship captains won’t have to ask Stockholm for permission to fire if they find a rogue sub in Swedish waters.”

  • Baltimore Sun of July 9, 1992, in a report from Oslo also commented on submarine activity from the east. “The number of NoiWegian sightings of submarines from the former Soviet Union has fallen dramatically with the end of the Cold War, Norway’s Defense Command said yesterday.

“‘There have been no sightings reported so far this year,’ said Brig. Gen. Per Boethun. Seven ‘possible’ or ‘probable’ foreign submarines were seen in Norwegian waters in 1991 and 1990, down from 70 in 1987.

“The collapse of the Soviet Union, lack of fuel for Russian’s northern fleet and the relaxation of Norwegian surveillance all contributed to the decline, he said.”

  • Wasbington Times of July 8, 1992 headlined a news item with “Nuclear submarines mean jobs for Britain”. The piece related the announcement of the fourth Trident submarine order. It went on to state that “Defense Minister Malcolm Rifkind, answering a question in Parliament, said the submarine would be built by the VSEL Consortium at Barrow-in-Fumess, England. The order would secure 1,500 jobs at VSEL and help maintain thousands of other jobs throughout the defense industry, he said. “
  • Washington Post of October 30, 1992 commented on the U.S. government reaction to the sale of Russian submarines to Iran with “‘The Bush administration was so alarmed earlier this year by the prospective sale of Russian attack submarines to Iran that it tried to interest Saudi Arabia in paying Russia to abandon the transaction, according to U.S. and British officials. The gambit failed, as did direct U.S. diplomatic entreaties to Moscow.”

The article updated the situation with “Administration officials now say the arrival of the first Iranian submarine in the Persian Gulf, expected by mid-November, will augur a new strategic challenge in the Strait of Hormuz. About 20 percent of the world’s oil flows through the strait each year, and no gulf nation has had attack submarines until now.” It continued the update with “After much haggling, the Iranians have agreed to pay $600 million to the United Admiralty Sudomekh shipyard in St Petersburg for two Kilo-class submarines, with an option to buy a third, according to a U.S. intelligence estimate.”

The Post stated that “The first Iranian-owned Kilo, still flying the Russian naval ensign and accompanied by the Russian hydrographic ship PLUTON, was yesterday steaming southward at three knots on the surface of the Red Sea, according to a Naval official with access to current intelligence. Its crew, according to another officer is ‘still speaking Russian on the radio,’ and the Iranians are not yet capable of operating the boat on their own.

“U.S. intelligence specialists expect the Kilos to make port temporarily in Bandar Abbas, then move southward to facilities under construction in Chabbar.”

  • The Washington Post of November 4, 1992 published a report from Reuters that ..A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine bas entered the Persian Gulf just days before the expected arrival of a submarine Iran bought from Russia, U.S. Navy sources said today. The TOPEKA, with anti-submarine warfare capability, is the first U.S. nuclear submarine to enter the strategic gulf that is the conduit for most of the world’s oil trade. The fmt of two diesel-powered submarines Iran bought from Russia is due to arrive at Iran’s port of Bandar Abbas in a week or two.”


  • WAVES of September/October 1992 reported on a special salvage operation getting underway in Scotland. “A special project team of historians, maritime archaeologists, conservators and divers has been formed to conduct a search for a feny containing the belongings of Charles I that sank on July 10, 1663 off the Flfe coast in Scotland. The vessel sank while sailing from Bumtisland to Leith during the Royal Progress made by Charles I after his spectacular Scottish Coronation. It is believed to have contained the royal silver plate and lavish gifts, such as basins of gold coins, newly bestowed on the King.”

Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League