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21 June 1994

Dear Naval Submarine League,

Thank you for all the information and pictures you sent me, it really helped to enhance my submarine report. I want to thank you for taking the time to answer my letter and sending me the information for my report back in April. You and your information helped me get an E on my report (which is like an A in my school) . I have sent you a copy of my report and the grade sheet. Even if you don’t read the report I want you to see what I could do with some of your informtion.

I want to thank you again for everything and I want to let you know that I really appreciate

Thanks and Sincerely,
Stephanie Gwyn Londo
Mrs. Lister’s Grade Five


29 June 1994

Commander Richard Compton-Hall, MBE, RN(Ret.) at the Twelfth Annual Naval Submarine League Symposium suggested that the lessons of the past not be forgotten. He further added that some of the current changes to Submarine Force tactics, strategy and employment philosophy may be seated in politics (my words) and consequently may not be sound submarine doctrine. As history has shown us all too often, what appears valid in theory and during peacetime can, and often does , lead to disaster in the hostile environment.

Take for example the following fundamental principles of submarine operations which were formulated as the result of war, not peace, experience:

  1. The submarine is, and must be, a lone weapon.
  2. Her strategical value is immense, and out of all proportion to her cost and size.
  3. Her tactical value is so small as to be almost negligible.
  4. To all intents and purposes, she is limited to a single shot at the enemy. No worthwhile target will offer her a second chance of an attack.
  5. Her endurance in war is greater than that of any other type of vessel.
  6. She is very vulnerable to counter-measures.”

These principles were not based on lessons from the Cold War or even World War II. They were based on the lessons of World War I. Even though 75 years have passed, these principles still convey a truth that must not be tossed carelessly aside. As so often happens in submarines with rules and procedures, these principles were written in the blood of the men that died.

Take for example the principle that the submarine must be a lone weapon. This principle was the result of several attempts to integrate submarines into battle groups in a hostile environment. Submarine identification and collisions soon became problems . First, there was no way to quickly determine if a submarine was friendly or hostile. Each time a submarine was detected, the fleet reacted defensively. With the problems we have recently had identifying our own forces on land and in the air, I dread to think of what may happen to our battle group submarines in a hostile underwater environment. What surface ship commanding officer today would risk his own ship on the chance that the submarine just detected within firing range was friendly? Second, there were multiple submarine collisions with maneuvering ships of the battle group and at least two submarines were lost in just one night. The result was that joint operations were quickly suspended. Even in the peacetime environment of today, submarine collisions with our own surface ships, as well as commercial ships, are a real concern and do happen.

Much has changed since 1919 and submarines have undergone technical changes unimaginable at that time. Submarine weapons, propulsion systems, underwater endurance, speed, and other advances have certainly changed the submarine but the basic tenants of the submarine and it’s relationship with the ocean are still essentially the same. Some of the World War I principles have become more important and others less, but all should be evaluated keeping in mind a hostile, not a peaceful, environment. For the sake of our submariners, we cannot afford to overlook the lessons of the past and blindly repeat the same tactical errors which caused the principles to be stated in the first place.

LCDR Henry G. Fishel,  USN(Ret.)
8448 Porter Lane
Alexandria, VA 22308


July 25, 1994

Submarine insignia collecting is another manifestation of my long time interest in submarines (since I served on PATRICK HENRY in the 60s and 70s). At latest count I have 464 submarine insignia, profile pins, and veterans pins. I welcome correspondence from other collectors.

Thank you for your kind attention.

Best Regards,
Lee Lacey
3501 Hyde Park Ave.
Muskogee, OK 74403


  • Navy News & Undersea Technology, April 18

“Ingalls Gets OK for Sub Work

A U .S. shipyard could once again build diesel-electric submarines.

On April 7, the State Department approved an export license application from Ingalls Shipbuilding, Pascagoula, Mississippi to assemble diesel-electric submarines for export. The approval is a milestone in Ingalls’ drive to overcome strong Navy resistance to the resumption of conventional submarine construction in the United States.

Ingalls will assemble the submarines from parts built in Germany by Howaldswerke-Deutche Werft (HDW) in Kiel. HDW is now part of the German Submarine Consortium, formed earlier this year with Thyssen Nordseewerke of Emden and lngenieurkon-tor Lubeck. ”

  • Defense Week, July 11

..Independent Panel Offers New Attack Submarine Changes

An independent review group the Navy chartered to assess its fledgling New Attack Submarine (NSSN) program has endorsed the preliminary design but proposed several broad changes, according to its internal report.

Changes include altering the combat system and program organization and accommodating tactical nuclear weapons and better stealthiness.

The Navy has not released the 21 page report. Defense Week obtained an unclassified version.

Retired Navy Admiral J . Guy Reynolds, who chaired what was billed an independent, nine member review group, concluded that the Navy’s plans for a Seawolf successor are basically sound but need further modifications.

‘The panel found that the NSSN program supports expected missions against the projected threat of the 21st century. Addi-tionally, NSSN is consistent with the precepts of the bottom-up review,’ the group said in the June 13 report.

The Reynolds group convened after a January 24 memorandum from then-Undersecretary John Deutch who requested an assessment of whether the Navy’s NSSN design was sufficient.”

  • Navy News & Undersea Technology, August 8

“DAB Gives Centurion Green Light; SAC Shines Yellow

There was reason for U.S. submarines to celebrate last week as the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) approved a Milestone One decision for the New Attack Submarine, and set a date to begin construction.

The decision means the Navy can begin creating a detailed design for the ship, with a construction start date of fiscal year 1998. The decision also represents a vote of confidence in the program by senior Pentagon leaders.

While the DAB decision was a victory for the submarine community, across the Potomac the Senate Appropriations Committee demanded prudence on the project and fenced FY 1995 money on the program-known variously as the New Attack Submarine (NAS), the New SSN (NSSN) or by its original title of Centurion. For the committee, the caution is based on cost.”

Committee demanded further studies

Instead of voting its support for the NAS, the committee instead demanded another study of alternative submarine designs. ‘The committee directs the Navy to consider an alternative to the new attack submarine program before going forward to Milestone Three,’ the report said. The committee directed the Navy ‘to withhold from obligating 50% of the FY 1995 new attack submarine funds until the review has been completed and a report on the review has been submitted to the congressional defense committees.'”

  • Defense Week, August 15

.. Navy Chief Says a Big Nuclear Bill Is Coming Due

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jeremy Boorda said last week the Navy will have a big bill to pay once senior Pentagon officials decide the fate of the nation’s nuclear deterrence.

That’s because the Navy’s long range budget submitted to Defense Secretary William Perry for review in June supplied no money for modernization of the Trident submarine fleet, proposed killing the D-5 ICBM and would phase out older Trident submarines that carry the C-4 missile.

Speaking to a group of defense reporters, Boorda said the Trident force future rests with the top level Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), an ongoing assessment of the nation’s nuclear weapons needs.

The D-5 weapon is to be carried on at least 10 Tridents and the older C-4 missiles carried on eight Tridents. But the PR could end up tinkering with the submarine force mix. It will examine how many Tridents will be required to meet arms control agreements with the former Soviets. Thus, it will rule on whether to sanction or deny a long held Navy plan to fit the D-5 on older C-4 carrying Tridents.”

  • Defense News, August 15

“Report Says U.S. Navy Will Lack Sub Funding

The U.S. Navy will have a hard time finding enough funds to maintain a submarine force of 45 to 55 attack submarines after the turn of the century, even if the service limits the cost of the New Attack Submarine to $1.5 billion, according to a report by the Congressional Research Service.

Budget plans beyond 2000 appear insufficient to support a procurement rate of two New Attack Subs annually, according to the report, Navy New Attack Submarine Program: Is It AffordA more modest rate of 1-1/2 submarines per year would be more realistic, but even this anticipates a 30 percent jump in the Navy’s shipbuilding budget when full-rate production of the new submarine begins .”

  • Inside the Pentagon, August 18

“Nuclear Posture Review Inclined to Rule Out Option for 10 Trident Subs

The Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review is inclined to rule out an option for 10 Trident submarines and is reportedly moving toward a 14 or 18 sub option, according to sources familiar with the latest iterations of the NPR. These options may involve a D-5 missile backfit of four boats. The 18 sub option would also maintain four boats with C-4 missiles, according to DOD sources. Sources cautioned that no final decisions have been made on the NPR.”

“For several weeks, Defense Department officials have been debating unresolved points of the NPR, but pressure is mounting to come up with a policy in time for President Clinton’s upcoming summit with Russian President Boris Yeltsin. Sources suggested that the State Department, the National Security Council and the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency are looking for some kind of unilateral arms control initiative to offer the Russians. But these agencies are facing resistance from senior Pentagon officials who want to proceed cautiously. The Joint Staff reportedly favors maintaining more of a status quo for the moment, and completing the implementation of the START I and START D treaties before formulating a new initiative.,

  • Washington Post, August 22

.. Defense Memo Warns of Cuts in Programs

The Pentagon’s top leadership has ordered the military services to plan for the possible cancellation or delay of nearly every large new weapons system in the planning or development stages.

In a memorandum Thursday, Deputy Defense Secretary John M . Deutch asked the Army, Navy and Air Force to draw up specific alternatives for the major weapons programs planned by the services. The cost savings would pay for improvements in other areas.

Deutche’s memo alarmed the military services and defense contractors, who said such cuts or delays could weaken the nation’s defenses.

The memo, obtained by The Washington Post, was intended by Deutch to be a huge wake-up call to the military services that they will have to delay or eliminate hardware programs or face deep cuts in other areas, a Pentagon official said yesterday.

Deutch is ‘telling people to take notice because we have very tough decisions coming,’ the official said.,

  • Navy News & Undersea Technology, August 22

[Editor’s Note: The following is extracted from the final issue of Na¥J News & Undersea Technology edited by Stan Zimmerman, who has covered submarine programs and problems for his newsletter. Stan is going on a sabbatical, and took the opportunity to express his opinions, and he stressed that these are opinions, and not objective reporting, about his beat.]

“For all of us, readers and writers alike, these past seven years have been a time of unimaginable change. As the first Western reporter to walk through the security gates of the Malachite submarine design bureau in 1992 in what is now St. Petersburg, I prompted the director’s remark, ·Even James Bond couldn’t get in here. ” Then we sat down for an eight hour interview.

I watched British security agents snatch an anechoic tile from a London submarine symposium in 1988, and this year listened to industry reps explain how they could tailor such coatings for any customer at the same London symposium.

And what is most incredible for the period, I have seen the American submarine community hesitantly breach its silent service motto and begin a guarded discussion of its roles, means and methods.

It has been a period of enormous triumph and enormous disaster. The American submariners are poised to achieve a technological breakthrough in the SEAWOLF, a ship quieter at 25 knots than its predecessor was while tied to a pier. And I watched the naval aviation train wreck, jeopardizing the service’s vaunted carriers with a failure to replace the A-6 in my lifetime.

Downsizing, reorganization, slashed procurement budgets, the decline and fall of the American shipbuilding industry, these have been grain for my mill. From my vantage, allow me a few predictions:

… Unless a shooting war looms in this decade, the aircraft carrier is doomed. Precision strike munitions like Toma-hawk Block IV and the Tri-Service Land Attack Missile (or some variant) will force the carrier from the scene. Air defense can be addressed by Aegis-style combatants. The cost of carriers-pilot training, aircraft, ship’s complement and construction costs-can be translated into thousands or even millions of unmanned weapons .

… Submarines are the future. Unless a non-acoustic means of detection is perfected, submarines will continue to enjoy the stealth benefits of undersea transit and station-keeping. Submarine design may well splinter into a variety of classes including fast attack fighters, cruise missile carriers, undersea amphibious assault ships, strategic deterrence cruisers and intelligence gatherers. Multi-purpose submarines able to conduct all missions-~ Ia Centurion-will be too expensive. Because of cost reasons and technological advances, none of these designs, except perhaps strategic deterrence ships, will demand fission power.

… Surface combatants are here to stay, but will demand a different form. They are required to guard the nucleus of seapower-amphibious assault and logistics support. Air and ballistic missile defense will be key, as will the age-old problem of mine clearance. But missile strikes will clear their air, neutralizing airfields and launch pads. Mine clearance will be conducted by remotely operated or autonomous undersea vehicles directed by submarines, or by manned mini-submersibles. Surface combatants will be little more than expendable radar platforms carrying extensive ordnance.

… The key to the future of naval combat is C4I-command-control-communications-computers-intelligence. Uninterrupted connectivity with satellites, aerial and shipborne sensors, and shoreside support is crucial. The Cold War paradigm for anti-submarine warfare will probably be revived in the next century for all sea warfare roles-unarmed sensor ships (T-AGOS style) combined with shoreside data processing will connect with the armed fleet to produce either sea denial or sea control. The days of an independent shipborne commander, even a CINC at sea calling the shots, are numbered. This will be a profound historical change.

These are bold projections from an unaccountable source headed for an overdue holiday. But warfare at sea is a technologi-cal exercise, combined with cunning. Japanese Zeros were unbeatable in 1942, unless they were on a deck as Commander Wade McClusky found near Midway Island. As much as I respect the contributions of technology, I pray the Navy will retain its respect for tactical cunning … an undefinable but absolute require-ment for warriors.”

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