Two important messages are delivered to the Submarine Community, from representatives of the Executive and Legislative branches of our government, in the lead articles of this issue of THE SUBMARINE REVIEW. The first is from the Secretary of the Navy in the form of his speech to the annual Clam Bake at New London in September. His message is positive about the need for submarines in “all aspects of maritime warfare” and emphatic about the necessity of meeting the requirements of the post-Cold War era with strict regard to the affordability and cost-effectiveness of the next new-construction attack submarine program.
The second message directly from a member of the country’s national security policy level comes from Capitol Hill, and relates to some specific submarine employment options which are suggested because “… the strategy and tactics developed by the Department of Defense contribute greatly to the emphasis Congress places on … certain branches of service. n Congressman Doman’s credentials for making such suggestions include membership on the House Armed Services Committee and the Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence.
The mix of Articles, Discussion pieces and Reflections in this issue is aimed at the broad base of submarine interest perhaps a bit more than in some of the recent issues. There is some big picture future thought with Dr. Thompson’s piece, some delightful history about a Civil War submarine, a pair of articles about the hazards of submarine transits with, perhaps, a lesson to learn about deconfliction, and some interesting insights into Russian thought from both an eminent U.S. analyst and the Russian press. A variation in the ‘Silent Service’ theme is offered by a middle-grade officer to his colleagues, and that opportunity is taken to outline some of what has been done over the past few years to get out the submarine word.
Of particular interest is the review of Rear Admiral Fluckey’s new book, Thunder Below! by Commander Bruce Engelhardt who recently completed an outstanding command tour in USS DRUM. This is a book which is of interest, and perhaps of even more importance, to the currently serving submariners as well as to those who were at sea in submarines from 1941 to 1945.
A special feature is introduced with the first installment of a Submarine Bibliography. It is our plan to present listings of magazine articles and books published abroad in later issues; however, one of the main intents is to stimulate response and additions from the readers — so we can make the community list a real recommendation from the people who have been down to the sea, have gone in harm’s way and have produced sophisticated hardware for their country. So send in your nominations for inclusion, no matter what the source of publication.
FROM THE PRESIDENT
In recognition of the need to update the Cold War-vintage I Maritime Strategy, the Secretary of the Navy, the Chief of Naval Operations, and the Commandant of the Marine Corps have released a White Paper entitled … From the Sea. The paper defines the new strategic direction for the Navy-Marine Corps Team as a “naval expeditionary force, shaped for joint operations, operating forward from the sea, tailored for national needs”. Although the emphasis is on littoral warfare and maneuver from the sea, right up front, there is a strong commitment to a robust strategic deterrent force, at sea in SSBNs, as critical to national security.
Four key operational capabilities are called out as required for successful execution of the new direction: Command, Control, and Surveillance; Battlespace Dominance; Power Projection; and Force Sustainment. Even without explicit citing (attack submarines appear only in reference to cruise missile strikes under Power Projection), it is not difficult to visualize SSNs playing in each of the other areas, e.g., “…the ability to collect intelligence through covert surveillance early in crisis”, “… deny access to a regional adversary, interdict the adversary’s movement of supplies by sea, and control of the local sea… “, and “… (maintain) open sea lanes of communications so that passage of shipping is not impeded by an adversary.” Integra-tion of attack submarines into the “expeditionary force” is the immediate challenge. In the intensely competitive battle for limited resources, the planners must be convinced that the unique and cost-effective warfighting capabilities of attack submarines are essential elements of our national security strategy, from conventional deterrence to littoral campaigns.
The future size and composition of the submarine force depends on the successful execution of that task.
Under the category, “/always knew that but it sure is nice to hear it from an independent official source”, a recently released General Accounting Office assessment of proposed strategic modernization programs, commissioned by the House Foreign Affairs Committee, found that, “…on balance, the sea leg of the TRIAD emerges as the most cost effective …” Further, …”Test and operational patrol data show that the speed and reliability of day-to-day communications to submerged, deployed SSBNs were far better than widely believed, and about the equal of speed and reliability of communications to ICBM silos. Contrary to conventional wisdom, SSBNs are in essentially constant communications with National Command Authorities and, depending on the scenario, SLBMs from SSBNs would be almost as prompt as ICBMs in hitting enemy targets.”
The study also found that the accuracy of the D-5 is about equal to Peacekeeper, as is its reliability, and its warhead has about 50 percent higher yield, making hard target kill capability a draw. Further, unlike easily located silos, operational test results show that SSBNs are even less detectable than generally understood, and that there are no current or long-term techno-logies that would change this. In addition, the life~cycle cost per warhead of the D-5/0IDO system is almost identical to land-based systems, but with the significant advantage of being based on submerged, essentially invulnerable submarines. So, what’s new?
I recently received a copy of Volume I, Number 1 of the SEAWOLF NEWS, the newsletter of the Seawolf Commission-ing Committee. Stepping forward in October, 1989, the city of Akron, Ohio, with strong support from the Akron-Canton Council of the Navy League, petitioned the Secretary of the Navy for consideration as the sponsor city, and was so named in December of that year. Based on the enthusiasm evident in the newsletter and the outpouring of support for the Committee, it is clear that the crew of SEAWOLF is in good hands.