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A Submariner of Note

  • The New York Times, August 22, 1993
    “Robert R. Williams, the commander of the submarine that rescued George Bush when the Japanese shot down his bomber in World War II, died Thursday at a hospital in Bethesda, Md. He was 82 and lived in Rockville, Md.

The cause was pneumonia as a complication of emphysema, his family said.

Captain Williams, a career officer in the Navy, retired in 1960 with decorations that included a Silver Star and a commendation from the National Research Council.

His rescue of Mr. Bush, the future President and Commander in Chief, occurred a few minutes before noon on Sept. 2, 1944, in the Pacific Ocean off the Bonin Island, a few hundred miles south of Tokyo.

Mr. Bush, then a lieutenant junior grade, was flying an Avenger torpedo plane from the carrier SAN JACINTO in a bombing raid on a radio station on Chichi Jima Island. After ground fire struck his plane, Lieutenant Bush bailed out just before

it crashed. About 10 miles away, the submarine FINBACK was on patrol. On receiving a message about the crash, Captain Williams ordered the FINBACK to the scene, where Lieutenant Bush was rescued from his emergency raft. The plane’s two other crew members died in the mission.

When Mr. Bush became Vice President, he renewed contact with Captain Williams by writing to him, said Captain William’s wife, Rose. Mr. Bush also invited the Williamses to the 40th anniversary celebration of the rescue and to his inauguration as President, but Captain Williams illness prevented him from attending.

Bottom-Up Review

  • Navy News & Undersea Technology, September 6, 1993
    “The fight for survival between Electric Boat and Newport News has two winners.

The long-awaited Bottom-Up Review (BUR), made public last Wednesday, put a heavy emphasis on the industrial base issue.

The working group dealing with nuclear shipbuilding issues recommended the Navy buy a third SEA WOLF (SSN 21) attack submarine from Electric Boat in Groton, Conn.

The review also told the Navy to develop and build a new attack submarine (NAS). While the review did not specify who would build the NAS, the BUR briefings indicated EB had the inside track on the lead ship of the new class.

In explaining the BUR results last week, Defense Secretary Les Aspin said that “at the core of the problem is the industrial base problem. What would happen [to the submarine shipyards and their subcontractors] during the time we don’t build submarines?”

“We preferred to bridge the gap” that occurs between now and the time a new submarine is actually needed, Aspin said . The third SEA WOLF is that bridge.

  • Inside the Navy, September 6, 1993
    “A Cold War icon has found itself with an expanded mission as a result of a reduced carrier base, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin said at a Sept. I press conference detailing the bottom-up review. Aspinjustified the Pentagon’s bottom-up review decision to keep the size of the attack submarine fleet to between 45 and 55 submarines and the size of the Trident ballistic missile submarine fleet to 18, stating that the role of submarines has become more important, with the submarines filling strategic gaps made by a smaJier carrier force.

“There are a number of different ways of using submarines beyond the traditional uses which are going to be looked at,” Aspin said.

The Navy has already made some changes to submarine operations. “If you were to go aboard a sub in the [Persian) Gulf you would find it operating so differently you would be able to greatly distinguish its operations from a year ago,” a senior Navy official said. “You would find it operating in water of 100-120 feet, its periscope up most of the time linked with the carrier battle group. You would find it working tor the minelayers in a region of third world contingencies.”

As for the Trident submarines, Aspin said the numbers were driven by the START treaties, which require that the United States and the states of the former Soviet Union keep their missile levels at certain fixed numbers. “When we finish this bottom-up review, the presentation of it and getting it incorporated in the next rounds of POMs {the services’ program objective reviews], we will go back and look at the strategic forces,” Aspin said.”


  • Inside the Pentagon, July 15, 1993
    “The  House  Armed  Services  readiness  subcommittee  is recommending that the Navy cut in haJf the operating tempo of its strategic submarines, indicating that lawmakers are encouraging further reductions in U.S. strategic forces .

In its June 23 markup of the FY-94 defense budget, th~ subcommittee cut $100 million from the Navy’s operations and maintenance budget for strategic submarines, according to congressional sources. The subcommittee recommended that the Navy absorb the cut either by moving from double crewing to single crewing of its strategic submarines or by simply keeping the boats in port for longer periods of time. The Navy is fighting the proposal, saying that Congress should not take action until the service completes its own study of single crewing, which is to be completed this fall.

A drawback of single crewing is that it would reduce by one-half the number of U.S. strategic missile warheads deployed at sea. Current plans under the U.S.-Russian Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START II) Treaty call for a Navy fleet of 1,728 warheads-IS boats carrying 24 missiles with four warheads each. With single-crewed SSBNs, the Navy could deploy continuously only six boats with 576 warheads.”

  • Defense Week, August 2, 1993
    “Rep.  Tim  Penny’s  (D-Minn.)  plan to  kill  the Trident D-5 submarine-launched ballistic missile met a formidable opponent last week: President Clinton.

Penny, Senate defense appropriations subcommittee Democratic members Dale Bumpers (Ark.) and Jim Sasser (Tenn.), and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (Calif.) wrote to Clinton on July 9 asking for his comments on ending D-5 procurement after fiscal 1993.

“Your suggestion that we equip fewer D-5 missiles with more warheads and ‘detube’ our Tridents would open a Pandora’s box in terms of proposals by our START partners for relief from other treaty dismantlement requirements they find onerous, ” \l’rote the president.

“For this and other reasons which Secretary [Les} Aspin has enunciated in a recent letter to the congressional defense commit-tee, I am opposed to any proposal to terminate D-5 production after FY 1993.” The letter is signed “Bill.””

  • Navy Times, August 30, 1993
    WASHINGTON -Congress is moving toward a heated debate focusing on the Navy’s Trident II nuclear missile, a program that President Clinton is fighting to save from congressional budget-cutters.

Although the administration and the Navy fought off initial attempts in both Senate and House Armed Services committees to end production of the missile, Penny’s argument is likely to gain support from members of Congress during debate in September over the two versions of the 1994 defense authorization bill, said Carol Lessure, an analyst with the Defense Budget Project.”

  • Inside the Navy, September 13, 1993
    “The  Defense  Department  comptroller  plans  to  appeal  a provision in the House version of the FY-94 defense authorization bill that would prohibit the Navy from modifying any Trident I submarines to deploy the D-5 missile, according to Defense Department sources. This would keep the Navy’s future Trident force to at least 10 0-5 capable submarines.

According to the sources, in a package of appeals to the House and Senate authorization conferees-dubbed the “heartburn letter-the comptroller maintains that some of the alternative strategic force structures under consideration would involve backfitting some or all of the eight Trident submarines that now carry the C-4 missile with the D-5 missile.”


  • Navy News & Undersea Technolo&y, July 26, 1993
    “The  second  ship  of the  SEAWOLF  submarine  class-the CONNECTICUT-has suffered an 18-month delay in its estimated delivery date, according to Navy documents.

The Naval Sea Systems Command’s Quarterly Progress Report for Shipbuilding and Conversion in January indicated the CON-NECTICUT was scheduled for delivery on June 1, 1997. The command’s April report says delivery will be Dec. 18, 1998.

The 18-month slip in the delivery date is longer than the 12-month slip experienced during construction of the first ship, following discovery of cracks in the welds of the HY 100 steel used to build the pressure hull. The SEA WOLF and sister ship CONNECTICUT will be the first American submarines with hulls built entirely of HY 100 steel.”

  • Defense Week, August 9, 1993
    “In new evidence that cost and schedule problems continue to haunt the SSN-21 SEA WOLF, congressional investigators have concluded that since December 1991 lead ship delivery has slipped five months and costs have jumped another $92 million.

The five-month delay is on top of previous year-long delays in the program, said the General Accounting Office (GAO), in a still unreleased Aug. 4 report obtained by Defense Week.

The delay means that General Dynamics Corp.’s Electric Boat division might fail to meet a May 1996 deliver date.

The Connecticut-based shipbuilder currently is assembling two SEAWOLFs. The Virginia-based Newport New Shipbuilding is designing the submarine. The GAO study focussed primarily on problems with the lead ship design and construction.

The GAO also noted that “an incompatibility between the design and construction schedules has the potential to further delay the SSN-21’s delivery.””

World News

  • Daily News (Halifax, N.S.), March 22, 1993
    “An  absence  of  Soviet  nuclear  submarines  in  the  Eastern Atlantic has given Canada’s small submarine fleet time to seek out other intruders-U.S. scallop fishing boats.

HMCS Ojibwa recently returned to Halifax from a patrol of Georges Bank where rogue New England fishermen are encroach-ing on the rich Canadian scallop fishing grounds south of Nova Scotia.

“We went out to the Hague Jine with a fisheries officer on board, in what was the first of what will probably be a series of patrols using submarines,” says Navy spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Jeff Agnew.

Twelve U.S. boats were found near the line, and three New England crews were surprised to see a submarine surface beside them.

“The Americans were warned off the line,” says Agnew. ”

  • Defense News, August 16-22, 1993
    “SEOUL, South Korea- The launching of South Korea’s third conventional submarine is a key step in that nation’s effort to upgrade its antisubmarine warfare capability, said South Korean President Kim Young-Sam.

South Korea plans to launch six Type 209-class conventional submarines. Five of the submarines will be build by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Heavy Machinery Ltd. here, using designs supplied by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HOW), Kiel, Germany. The sixth submarine will be build by HOW.

The medium-sized diesel submarine costs about $190 million, is 56 meters long, 6.2 meters wide and 5.5 meters high. The submarine was christened the Choemuson-Harn after a ranking 14th century official in the Koryo Dynasty who led Korea’s efforts to repel Japanese pirates. ”

  • The New York Times, August 20, 1993
    “PARIS, Aug. 19- A French nuclear submarine has collided with a supertanker off the south coast of France, tearing a hole in the tanker’s hull and causing oil to spill into the Mediterranean, officials said today.

A spokesman for the French Navy said the accident occurred on Tuesday night while the submarine was surfacing and that it had failed to detect the enormous vessel overhead. He said the navy sub, the RUBIS, which normally carries missiles and torpe-does, had damaged its nose but suffered no nuclear leakage.”

  • Defense News, August 30-September 5, 1993
    “Two U.S. Navy attack submarines are hunting for mines along the coastline of former Yugoslavia in anticipation of the deploy-ment of up to 50,000 NATO forces, Navy sources said Aug. 27.

The submarines are focusing their efforts on the port city of Split along the Adriatic coast, the most likely entry point for U.S. Marines and a subsequent supply base for U.S. military forces, Navy sources said.”


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