There are several issues of importance to the U.S. Submarine Force and the supporting community that are ad-dressed in this issue. The lead article is a reprint from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology publication that uses the BATON ROUGE collision off Murmansk to raise the stability issue. In a Counterpoint article our Ambassador Linton Brooks takes on that charge in specific terms. Ambassador Brooks also puts the challenge before all of us to be ready to counter the type of thinking that puts very sophisticated issues into a dangerously simplistic manner when he charges that “…submariners must be in the forefront of thinking through the difficult problems of escalation and stability.”
In a pair of landmark articles, two active duty officers also address issues of vital concern to aU of us. LCDR Vernon Hutton writes about the real elements of reconstitution, as it now stands as a fundamental principle of the National Security Strategy, and how it applies to the Submarine Force. The point is sound and the argument is well stated. There is more to say on this issue and it does appear that the survival of the nuclear submarine as a viable instrument of American security policy may well depend on the submarine community being “..in the forefront of thinking through .. .” this difficult problem. LT Brent Ditzler discusses the utility of submarines in a presence and diplomacy role, using as an example the British application during the Falklands War in 1982. As all modem submarine advocates have heard from various commentators, analysts and even non-submarine naval officers, conventional wisdom seems to bold that a naval force has to be physically visible to be viable in a presence role. Here again, the cure to non-apprecia-tion and mis-understanding of submarine potential has to lie in the objective treatment of those issues in easily understandable language by people who know what they are talking about.
The articles by Jim Patton, Richard Ackley and George Kraus each touch on an aspect of the changing world with which the submarine community has to deal. Again, more needs to be said and published about each of those subjects. And lest we forget that we, more than any other maritime group, are dependent on our mastery of technology to let us co-exist with, and fight within, the endlessly powerful sea, there is a menu of suggestions from Ted Gaillard to adapt the lessons of the aerospace world to submarine naval architecture and engineering.
There are two features from the Royal Navy presented in this issue. In the first Rear Admiral Abbott, the Assistant Chief of the U.K. Naval Staff, describes the current status and goals of the British submarine program. A certain amount of editorial license has been taken in order to emphasize for our readers key points of commonality and difference between the U.K. and U.S. submarine practices and structures. In the second British feature we are fortunate to have an expansion by Admiral Woodward on some of the points made in the October 1992 of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW by Ken Cox and Tom Maloney in their discussion of Admiral Woodward’s book.
Besides the British submarine information there are several other pieces about foreign submarine services. Russian submarines are discussed along two different paths but both start at the same place. George Newton reports on a recent visit to the design bureau which originated the DELTA class SSBNs of the former Soviet Navy, and Norman Palmar’s latest subguide article treats the Kll..O diesel-electric submarine, by the same design bureau, which is now appearing in several of the Third World navies. There is also a translation of a newspaper account of a French submarine escaping from the death throes of a great fleet in Toulon in November of 1942. In addition, John Alden outlines the operations of the Dutch submarines in the Pacific during the 1941-45 war.
From the U.S.N. experience in World War II there are three pieces of interest, two of which are closely related. The war patrol report of fifty years ago is the one of Mush Morton and WAHOO in his raid on Wewak and the convoy battle which followed. There is also a letter which relates a recent visit to Japan as a footnote to WAHOO’s last patrol. Bill Rube gives modem submariners something to think about as they consider operations in shallow littoral waters with his note on wartime use of grapnels in anti-submarine warfare.
As a final note, because books are an important avenue to achieving the more general awareness of submarines which we strive for, your attention is invited to both the review of Jim George’s new book and to the Submarine Bibliography, which is in its second installment. For those of you who have not yet seen your favorite submarine books mentioned, please send them in and we’Dinclude them.
FROM THE PRESIDENT
This spring, Congress will review the first Clinton Administration defense budget. One element of the heated debate that will certainly ensue is the preservation of the U.S. nuclear submarine industrial base vis a vis a sharply reduced global threat.
The complexity and difficulty of resolution of this issue has been acknowledge by both Secretary of Defense Les Aspin and his predecessor, Dick Cheney. Each bas characterized the need to maintain our ability to design and build nuclear submarines in the current budget environment as among the most confounding problems facing the nation. Fortunately, there is agreement between Defense and Congress that the United States must sustain its hard won technological lead in undersea warfare: the issue is bow to preserve the very unique industry that provided that lead.
Last year, Congress recognized and validated the importance of the industrial base when it voted to fund the second of the SEAWOLF class submarines, and to set aside an additional $540 million to sustain current design and construction capabilities.
More recently, a study by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and two high-level Navy studies have recommended that a minimum production level be established to retain the base. Increasingly, other Pentagon officials are voicing assent. Last year, as Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, Les Aspin, in a speech to an industrial association, stated that with regard to the submarine industrial base, “We have to ensure that the suppliers remain viable. That may mean a sustaining rate of procurement, even if it exceeds our short term needs.”
Within the public at large, there is little understanding of this issue. That is about to change as arguments over the allocation of fewer defense dollars become more intense. The submarine force and the industry from which it springs should welcome the increased scrutiny attendant to the debate, for here is a story worth telling about an invaluable and irreplaceable national asset. Over a period of 40 years, hundreds of industrial activities, from small business suppliers of precision parts, to major contractors and the shipbuilders themselves, have teamed together with the Navy to produce the most technologically advanced machines made by man, unarguably the finest submarines in the world.
The industrial base is diverse and complex, both the products and the processes needed to build them. The craftsmen are skilled and highly trained. The ships are wondrous models of applied technology. In a Trident ballistic missile submarine, for example, there are some 265 subsystems, 25,000 components, and 350,000 parts supplied by a dedicated and specialized network of businesses. Built into each of these submarines over a six-year, 12 million-manhour construction period is an array of systems that spans the technological spectrum – from advanced computers to life support systems, from fresh water distilling plants to space age food stowage and preparation facilities – aU that is needed to operate completely submerged for 90 days or more, without a supporting logistics train, an undetectable whisper in the vast sea.
Propulsion is supplied by compact, safe, and reliable nuclear power plants. There is, however, no more stark example of the fragility of the industrial base than this very special niche in which the Navy must now rely on one remaining supplier of nuclear fuel, and one manufacturer of major nuclear compo-nents.
If the nation’s submarine design and construction capability were permitted to expire, reconstitution – even if it were ~ible – would be technically risky and prohibitively expen-sive. Restarting the industry would require a lead time of at least seven years. Furthermore, it is not certain that our nation would have the will to absorb the cost of its rebuilding.
The debate surrounding the preservation of the submarine industrial base is not a force level issue, nor is it a jobs issue. Rather, it is a matter of national security, centered on whether the U.S. has a need to retain these key technological and manufacturing capabilities.
Preservation of the industrial base can be achieved most cost-effectively by completing the already authorized third SEAWOLF class submarine. This would require the allocation of about $1.2 billion and the application of the $540 million set aside last year for just this purpose. That additional investment would bridge the gap prior to the startup of the New Attack Submarine in 1998, and would provide the Navy with one more copy of the most capable submarine in the world Submarines, unlike many other military products such as aircraft, have no companion commercial industry. The only way to maintain the nation’s submarine industrial base is to build the ships. Proceeding with the third SEAWOLF represents the most cost-effective option to achieve that goal.
See you in June.