[Reprinted with permission from U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings of March 1966-‘the 1966 USN/ Prize Essay.]
The idea of the submarine perhaps entered the mind of man not long after he first looked at the sea. But, until the present century, the history of submarine warfare is only a succession of fascinating episodes, wrought by a handful of daring men venturing forth in strange contraptions more dangerous to themselves than to their adversaries. The modem submarine had to await the age of steel and the engine of Otto Diesel before it could be born. Then, on 22 September 1914, a U-boat sank three British cruisers in a single hour, and a new dimension was added to naval warfare. It is the intent of this essay to develop the thesis that the nuclear submarine is a challenge far more profound than was hurled at the navies of the world that September day in 1914. From examination of the essential nature of submarine warfare, the elements of this challenge and their meaning to the United States will be deduced.
It is necessary, at the outset, to establish the fundamental characteristic of the submarine. Elementary as it is, it must be isolated in order to provide a basis by which the import of the nuclear submarine can be grasped. What is it, then, that defines the submarine? It is not speed. There are ships that go faster. Nor is it weapons. The submarine possess none that cannot be carried in other hulls. Least of all is it defensive strength. The submarine is a heavyweight, but it has a glass jaw. The unique attribute of the submarine, from which all its other virtues flow, is simply its ability to bide in the sea.
To appreciate the value of this single fact, consider the submarine’s modus operandi in World War II. The submarine of that war was in reality a surface ship. It spent the majority of its time on the surface, transited on the surface and, whenever it could, attacked on the surface. Its submerged capability was a hoarded asset, reserved for vital encounters, to achieve success in attack or to make escape possible. Yet, limited as this capability was, with submerged speeds slow and their duration rigidly bound by curves of battery exhaustion, the German U-boat, exploiting the precious advantage conferred, was almost able to cut the Allied sea lanes. It follows, as a corollary-and a paradoxical one-that the story of the U-boat’s defeat was the creation by the Allies of an ocean environment where the submarine could not operate sufficiently exposed above the surface. A vast search and surveillance effort relentlessly stripped away the freedom and mobility of surface operations essential to its success. Increasingly it was forced to hide, relying more and more heavily upon the resource of submergence, and in the crucial North Atlantic areas its offensive capability was reduced to the vanishing point. In the Pacific, on the other hand, where the conditions responsible for the submarine’s defeat did not prevail, the American submarine campaign achieved a strangulating blockade. The success of this campaign, incidentally, provides a useful corrective to the notion that the submarine always loses.
Despite victory in the Atlantic, the advent of the snorkel and the medium-speed, deep-diving submarine-typified by the German Type-XXI boat, which came too late on the scene to affect the course of the war-raised serious new ASW problems for which no solutions were imminent. Accordingly, soon after the war ended, ASW was designated the number one item of urgency in the U.S. Navy. And ever since, for two decades, it has had a priority, which, though occasionally dethroned, in theory has never strayed very far from preeminence.
Looking back to the decade of ASW research and development that spanned the last half of the 1940s to the mid-1950s, those years have the nostalgic aura of a simpler age. Then, Key West was the hub of ASW to a greater extent than it is today. And down there at the end of the line, in an atmosphere having a special and remote foreign flavor, surface sailors, aviators, and submariners, worked and socialized together in a close communion of blended knowledge and related goals. It was a time in ASW, as no other seems to have been quite so much since, of excitement and hope-especially hope, strong, rational, contagious. It seemed that with the application of enough enthusiasm, energy, and thought that the solution to the submarine was almost in our grasp. There was a communicable feeling that we were getting some-where. And we were.
In retrospect, it is easier to see now that the medium-speed, deep-diving submarine, realistically assessed, was less of a threat than it originally seemed. Though its submerged speed had doubled, its submerged capability was still a finite, precious asset which bad to be used sparingly. And the snorkel, though more difficult to detect, was nevertheless something that thrust above the surface. The submarine remained an air-breather, its fundamental nature unaltered.
If the capabilities of ASW forces versus the submarine were to be plotted graphically, across a scale of years, for the decade which succeeded the end of World Warn, we would see a steady upward movement. The reasons are many and tangible. The decade witnessed, in the development of major improvements in sensors, weaponry, and tactics, a virtually unbroken advance on many fronts of ASW. A symbolic high point of the U.S. Navy’s rising capability came during a major exercise in 1954 which for the first time brought together in the Fleet many of those new developments. At the exercise critique, more than one speaker was tempted to offer the view that the submarine was very much on the run. To such remarks the submarine commander replied generously, praising the performance of the ASW forces. But he added a few words of caution, concluding with some lines from Alice in Wonderland.
Tis the voice ofthe lobster…
When the sands are all dry, he is gay as a lark.
And will talk in contemptuous tones of the Shark;
But, when the tide rises and sharks are around,
His voice has a timid and tremulous sound.
The euphoria prevailing in some ASW circles was fleeting. In January 1955, the USS NAUTILUS (SSN-571) was underway on nuclear power and that same year the battery-powered USS ALBACORE (AGSS-569), whose shape, classic fineness ratio, and quietness were equally expressive of things to come, also demon-strated her capabilities. But the twin facts of the ALBACORE and NAUTILUS, disruptive as they were to any thought about the permanency of the submarine’s subjection, were, after all , only the shadow, and not the substance, of the future. For those who wished to fmd them, there were consolations. For all the potential of the NAUTILUS, there was only one of her. And, as was soon learned, she was a noisy beast. And who could say what ASW advances the years might not bring? There was much talk about the possibility of a breakthrough, and the word, through repetition, began to assume the shape of probability. Anyway, some time remained to do something about the submarine.
Perhaps there still is time. But it is less now, less by ten years. Where do we stand?
If conflict should commence today of a nature requiring the Western Allies to keep their sea lanes open, it is probable that the threat could be contained. This prediction is based on the twin assumptions that the strength of the potential enemy submarine forces is preponderantly in conventional submarines of a capability roughly comparable to our own and that the intrinsic ability of our own ASW forces relative to those of the conventional submarine remains strong. There is a strong cautionary footnote, however, to this prediction. It relates to the magnitude of our ASW forces, the sheer numbers of airplanes, ships, escorts, and hunter-killer groups initially available. In assessing our ability to meet the first shock of an all-out submarine campaign, the existence of the Soviet’s 400 submarines, the largest force ever assembled in peacetime, must be weighed against the handful of U-boats Germany was able to put on the line at the beginnings of two World Wars.
When the strategist turns from the conventional to the nuclear submarine-and toward that nearing future when navies will face the reality of opposing fleets of advanced nuclear submarines-be moves from a difficult, but finite, problem to one whose very dimensions appear unbounded. For, by the creation of the NAUTILUS, the gains of many years of ASW progress were erased. Since then, with the nuclear power plant married to the ALBACORE configuration, the submarine has opened a yawning gap between its own capabilities and those of the ASW forces. Taking departure once more from the fact that the basic virtue of the submarine is its ability to remain bidden, we see in nuclear power an almost finite multiplication of this capability. When additional assets of high submerged speed (and virtually limitless endurance at that speed), coupled with the incorporation of the most advanced sensors and weapons of modem technology, are conferred as well, it is manifest that we are witness to something new in naval warships. It is not merely an improved submarine. It is a change of degree so formidable as to constitute a change in kind.
It is only in seeking to discern the shape of a future struggle against such a submarine, however, that we gain full measure of its impact. To begin with, the nuclear submarine virtually
nullifies the effectiveness of both the vehicle and the sensor-airplane and radar-that more than any other were responsible for its defeat in World War D. The airplane, deprived of opportunities, will find itself roaming over the surface of an empty ocean, barren of clues, its value narrowing to whatever roles its capabilities will permit in localization and tracking.
And it is the absence of clues as to the submarine’s general location that would be one of the distinguishing characteristics of war against the nuclear submarine, and a measure of its increase in difficulty. For it was these clues in World War ll, and the uses they served, that were fundamental in defeating the U-boat. These were the clues that made evasive convoy routing effective, led hunter-killer groups in toward their kills, and provided the continuing base of information that enabled offensive ASW forces to achieve suppression and harassment of the submarine from portal to portal. Victory in World Warn was a mosaic pattern composed of millions of fragments of incident and encounter, most of them minor in themselves, but together mounting to a high cumulative probability against the submarine’s being able to accomplish its mission. It is a pattern that will not exist for the nuclear submarine. Even should it choose to repeat the U-boat error of indiscriminate use of radio, it is difficult to see the value of an HF/DF datum that it can render ice-cold by hundreds of miles in a matter of a few hours.
It is extremely unlikely that the nuclear submarine will be defeated at a distance. It follows, then, that the locus of decision will contract to the vicinity of its objective area, whatever it might be, ship, convoy, or naval task group. There, at last, it is subject to detection and attack. Such engagements will be sudden, fast-developing, confusing, with the submarine able to attack, with-draw, regroup (if operating in concert), and attack again with the freedom of direction and timing which its superb mobility encourages. Thus, it becomes apparent that the responsibility of protection, and perhaps the primary burden of defeating the nuclear submarine itself, will devolve upon the immediate defensive forces. And upon none so much as the escort. Upon it will be thrust the problem of detecting the submarine at long range, swiftly classifying it, and sending a weapon on its way. The imperatives of the problem, systems of both detection and attack that can achieve probabilities of success, coupled with a skill and responsiveness that must be continually available on instant notice, are, in aggregate, demands which the best of present escorts, even under optimum conditions, can seldom meet.
That that defensive effort alone, however, no matter bow vigorously applied, can defeat the nuclear submarine appears improbable. Apart from the unsolved specifics of the problem, it contradicts the history of warfare, which records few instances of defense alone bringing victory. Looking then to those possible means of carrying the war offensively to the nuclear submarine, and excepting (while not dismissing) such efforts as mining and the bombing of bases and factories which support the submarine, the only reasonable possibility of seeking out and destroying the nuclear submarine at sea appears to exist in another nuclear submarine. Here, as well, detection is the core of the problem. For its efforts to be productive, it must be able to station itself where the probability of detection is high. Once detection is achieved, the outcome of such encounters is problematical. For wariness on the part of the detected nuclear submarine must be assumed. It may choose suddenly, at random, to slow and listen, and the original detector, moving to attack position, may itself unknowingly be detected, the stalker becoming the stalked. In this contest, like two cats in the darkness, success will go to him who possesses not necessarily superiority in sensors and weapons only, but also the finer edge of nerve and hunch.
Though recognizing that the restraints which may exist in any future conflict at sea are hypothetical, the subject of nuclear ASW weapons must be discussed. At first glance, they may appear to be a panacea, promising the certainty of a kill from virtually any encounter. A second glance brings second thoughts, however. To begin with, the problem of detection still remains. But, more fundamental, these weapons cut two ways. Unilateral possession by the ASW forces cannot be assumed; there are no reasons why the submarine cannot possess effective tactical nuclear weapons. And considering the nature of submarine warfare, which almost always grants prior detection and tracking of surface forces at ranges much greater than that at which its own detection is likely to occur, an advantage accrues to the submarine which is as old as human conflict-that of striking the first blow. And when the weapon is nuclear, patently the ftrst blow is likely to be the decisive one.
Finally, assessment of the nuclear submarine in war would be incomplete without brief consideration of the ultimate problem-both in terms of the magnitude of the threat and the difficul-ty of countering it-which is its ability to place itself, undetected, within delivery range of ballistic missiles to continental targets and to launch them. A capability almost impossible to deny even in the conventional submarine, in the nuclear submarine it is absolute. Embedded in the overwhelming logic that justifies our own Polaris submarines, are the same reasons why it can be done to the United States.
At this point the reader, while perhaps willing to concede the general truth of the situation as thus far outlined, may nevertheless object that the statement of the problem is amiss. It may seem that in the conflict hypothesized a .future force of nuclear subma-rines has been pitted against present ASW forces, an unfair stacking of the cards. But the point is that submarines of the capabilities discussed are not hypothetical. Though their numbers are still small, they are real, in commission-on the hoojl And to defeat them, neither in the most advanced ASW abilities of the present, nor, as will now be considered in current research and development, can there be seen other than slim promise of attaining the capabilities needed.
The message is written in large, clear letters. To the power that would seek to overturn the historic maritime supremacy of the West, the nuclear submarine is an incomparable opportunity, waiting to be seized.
Looking to the future, and the potential of research and development to provide the means to defeat the nuclear submarine, there is no need to dwell upon the problem of killing it. Though some shadows remain, if any prediction can safely be made concerning the nuclear submarine, weaponry appears to be one area where we are not lagging the problem. Both surface ship and attack submarine are being provided with weapons and delivery systems commensurate with, and usually exceeding, their detection capabilities.
In World War I, the primary sensor was the human eye. In World War D, radar. For the nuclear submarine, freed of the necessity to expose itself, detection narrows to dependence on sound. If this generalization appears to have excluded many possible detection methods from serious consideration, it is not inadvertent. The naval planner is obliged to proceed on the basis of realities, or what reasonably can be forecast, and only sound meets this standard. The other methods are simply areas of investigation, gossamers of hope, nothing more. In assessing what is realistic promise, one must be guided by the record of a quarter of a century of research into innumerable varied and exotic methods of detecting a submerged submarine, their results alike proving insubstantial, and retreat to the prudent conclusion that we stand or fall by sound.
What, then, can be done with sound? First, we can listen, and, if the submarine radiates noise, we may hear it. But the quiet nuclear submarine gives little to work with. In ships, in fixed systems, in sonobuoys, whatever the listening device, we are faced with the virtually insuperable handicap of often trying to detect sounds scarcely above the level of the sounds of the sea itself. And the ranges at which these sounds can be heard are seldom usefully long unless the submarine is going fast, and not always then. But, above all, the passive mode is fundamentally flawed because its success depends upon the co-i>peration-the very uncertain CO-i>peration-of the submarine itself to provide sound that can be heard. With the exception of the killer submarine, whose quiet platform and tactics logically incline it towards the passive mode, it is upon active sound that we must depend primarily.
Since the end of World War 0, progress in surface ship sonars has been achieved essentially by successive lowerings of frequency and increases in transducer size and power. By the measure of 20 years of effort, the advance has been modest. It has been an engineering gain rather than the product of discovery, and the primary sonar in the U.S. Navy today is a derivative, a very recognizable grandchild, of the original scanning sonar. The basic limitations of direct path transmission still prevail, and while detection ranges of periscope-depth submarines have been increased many-fold, the improvement for deep, below-layer submarines is small. Even such gains as have been achieved are not unmixed successes. Close-in detection and tracking capability has diminished and the problem of classification, that perennial stepchild of detection, is farther from solution than it was a decade ago. In the steps necessary to achieve longer ranges, we have deprived the sonar operator of doppler and other clues, taken from him the arts of classification, without providing him with the tools to compensate for their loss. Variable Depth Sonar (VDS), long the object of many high hopes, has come down from those high hopes and found a more realistic niche for itself in filling some of the gaps in the capability of the hull~mounted sonar.
From improved signal processing, and other techniques, we attempt to extract all possible information from the returning sound. It is of the sum of all such efforts to improve our sonars, that we refer-having at last abandoned that talisman, the “break-through”-to the goal of “successive increments” eventually bringing us up to the needed capability. But the ocean yields grudgingly, the increments grow finer, half by half again, suggesting that over our efforts hovers one of those infinite series of diminishing terms whose limit is a finite number.
In a bold attempt to overleap the limitations of current surface ship sonars, urgent effort is being directed toward perfection of a sonar which can exploit the experimentally demonstrable tech-niques of very long-range sound transmission by bottom bounce and convergence zones. When the day comes that this sonar is capable-under realistic, operational conditions, over a substantial portion of the world’s oceans-of reaching out and detecting, classifying, and tracking at the ranges theoretically possible for it, the escort will have taken a long step toward that desperately needed parity with the nuclear submarine. While areas of uncertainty are many, to this massive effort can at least be fairly attached the much-abused label, “promising.”
When we look to that ultimate problem of the ballistic missile submarine, and the extent to which sound can assist in solving it, we are speaking of a degree of difficulty beside which placing a man on the moon is a neat exercise. And yet, conceivably, the solution to the problem could exist in the placement of acoustic arrays-active arrays-backed up by the necessary destructive and monitoring forces far from the shores of the United States. It is an idea which the capabilities of present technology at least do not render totally impossible, especially when coupled with the constricted geography of the northern passages of the Atlantic that is the fascination of naval strategists. But to create such a system, were it concluded that national interest demanded it, would require a mobilization of resources and treasure involving ramifications no less complex than, and complementary to, those which surround the issues of the systems needed to defend against the ICBMs. However, even were such a system feasible, it would seem foredoomed to obsolescence even in its construction. When we contemplate the vastness of the oceans, the Pacific, which has no such enticing geography as the Atlantic, and the further increases in range of which submarine-launched missiles are capable, the problem eventually expands to one of locating and destroying submarines anywhere on the globe, and credibility is demolished that it can be done at all.
At the present time it is impossible to estimate the ultimate capability of sound as a means of detection. Lack of knowledge circumscribes the limits of prediction. Even after many years we do not understand what happens to sound in the sea, and are uncertain of such basic acoustic quantities as target strength. Symptomatically, no scientist or engineer really trusts the other fellow’s data and, after circling it warily, goes out to gather his own. Findings are seldom reproducible; one of the hardest things to glean from the sea is a fact. And where facts are few, theories abound. The ocean, vast, changing, presents a chaos of random-ness and whimsical variability which thus far bas bumbled theories and defied attempts to reduce its nature to tidy limits of predict-ability. Whether greater knowledge of the ocean will enable us to achieve much more with sound remains problematical. But in any event, only increased knowledge will tell. In the end, perhaps, the best that can be done will be to define the effects of the sea in terms of its variances and to attempt to predict performance only within the range of limits.
Sooner or later, amidst concentration on problems the subma-rine presents, doubts are likely to take shape and loom in the background of one’s thoughts. Doubts, for instance, that it is reasonable to expect that a surface ship, existing in the turbulent, interface of air and sea, inherently noisier and visually detectable, can ever attain a capability to match that of a submarine in which multiple virtues of invisibility, adaptation to a single environment of limited variability, and a concentrated focus of mission are harmoniously joined. And the doubts, all coalescing, add up to the fundamental question of whether, weighing the clear and demonstrable evidence of the submarine’s great, and still growing, capabilities against the uncertain gains of ASW, we are not possibly witness to a historical trend which will culminate in the ascendancy of the submarine as the decisive arbiter of naval power.
It is a question, of course, that is unanswerable, except by time. But in a sense an answer, while not final, is being given and its general form can be read in the signs of today. The answer is that the response of the United States-because the magnitude of the issues are not merely naval, but national-to the challenge, in effect, concedes the ultimate ascendence of the submarine.
The signs are many, large and small. There is one to be seen in our newest escorts whose maximum speed is below that of an advanced nuclear submarine. While these escorts may be adequate for the present, when considering a nominal (and always exceed-ed!) effective ship life of 20 years, it means that we are building a class of ships certain to be deficient in a capability needed to cope with a problem they must almost surely be prepared to face well before their lifetime ends. For though other qualities in a ship can be altered to keep current with the advance of the problem, such a fundamental one as speed cannot.
Some may argue that high speed is not vital in an escort, that only sensors and weapons are. But one ought first to observe a group of ASW ships maneuvering to hem in, and encircle, a submarine moving at a speed higher than the ships themselves are able to sustain before dismissing speed. It is a problem that ingenious tactics cannot surmount. Granted, speed is only one, and not the most important, asset an ASW ship must possess. But in a fight such as the nuclear submarine puts up, we cannot afford to deny the escort any assets.
Another sign of creeping surrender to the problem is seen in the token number of nuclear-powered surface ships being built. When one considers the great increase in safety conferred in defense against the submarine by the virtue of speed alone, and contemplates the favorable prospects of a nuclear-powered naval task force, able to steam indefinitely at this high speed, not bound to the inexorable restraints of fuel consumption nor having to subject itself every few days to the vulnerability inherent in the refueling operation, it is obvious that the implications of continued denial of nuclear power to the naval surface ship are grave not only in terms of effectiveness, but also of survival. In the long perspective, the arguments which prevail against a nuclear-powered surface navy are dismally shortsighted, an example of misapplied cost-effectiveness studies at their sterile worst.
The other side of the denial of nuclear power to the surface navy is the conferring of its benefits to our submarine force. It must be regarded as tacit affirmation of the belief that in the nuclear submarine lies the best hope of countering those of our potential enemies.
Another sign, and not the least, is money. The high priority that ASW has so long been supposed to enjoy is an illusion, mirroring good intentions more than deeds, hailed in theory rather than matched by funds. In reality, ASW in the U.S. Navy has long taken a back seat to other demands. Consistently ASW has had to make choices and compromises-and is still making them-involving the sacrifice of significant capabilities, in order to save sums of money that would be small expenditures in certain other programs.
In essence, then, reading the signs, the answer is given. Whether a conscious expression of policy, or merely the product of irresolution, the result is to bow to a trend whereby the advantages will flow ever more steadily in the direction of the submarine.
But to acknowledge the possibility of a historical trend at work is not to state that we have no option but to yield to it. To do so is to accord history rights of independent destiny, whereas history is shaped by the action of men. It is only in retrospect that trends can be said to have been irreversible. How the United States and the Navy meet the challenge of the nuclear submarine will depend upon our commitment to its solution in the light of the present, leaving to history the judgement of whether or not a solution was possible. There is much that can be done.
The first essential is comprehension of the problem. And though strong naval awareness exists, there are also circumstances operative which tend to limit, or at least to obscure, that clear understanding which must prevail at many levels before effective action can take place. One of these circumstances is in the process by which the Armed Services must wrest money for their pro-grams from those who control it. Confess too frankly the difficulty of a problem, and funds are likely to not appear commensurate with cost. Overstate one’s case, on the other hand, sell it too vigorously, and there is the risk of projected force levels being reduced since seemingly the job can be handled with less. It is a fine line to tread at best, and, in the case of a subject as complex and as full of unknowns as ASW, it is an impossible one.
Another factor is reluctance to concede too readily to any new weapon or system an authority it has not demonstrated in war. But this caution, defensible in other times, is a luxury we cannot afford. The compression of events, the swift pace of decision in any future conflict, makes it imperative that we perceive, and accept, in the visible facts of existing nuclear submarines, the full extent of their portent.
And, as always, there is still some of the old virus of unjusti-fied optimism around. Occasional exercise successes against the nuclear submarine are jubilantly reported as significant triumphs, instead of being viewed realistically in the context of the restricted conditions under which they were achieved. And for those who want to find comfort in the limitations of the nuclear submarine, there are still a few things on which to hang one’s hat. It cannot do everything at once. If it goes too fast, it becomes blind. And excellent as its sound tracking may be, there still is that moment in attack when it craves the gratifying certainty of a good look that only exposure of its periscope can give.
A more difficult form of optimism to contend with is the kind that holds that the submarine, after its dramatic advances of recent years, has reached a comparative plateau in which future improve-ments will come more slowly, and hence that the pendulum must now swing back toward the ASW forces. The trouble with this notion is that it views progress as something fated, automatic, instead of deriving from endeavor and circumstances. The pendulum theory can be delusive; sometimes the pendulum gets stuck at one end of its travel and never does come back. And in speculating on the relative potential for growth of the submarine versus the ASW forces, the 95 percent of the ocean’s volume of water which the submarine is not yet able to enter should disr.our-age complacency as to any lack of logical direction to go.
There has been a recent sharp upturn of interest in ASW, accompanied by the creation of a central management authority. But successful direction of ASW can result only if vigor and momentum are maintained over many years. Anti-submarine warfare must build an organization for the long haul, seeing the problem in terms of decades, gathering in itself the people, the knowledge, and the experience-memories of past mistakes and hopes dashed-which are all essential for sound decisions. It must mean for many officers a change in the pattern of frequent career rotation, which is destructive to the continuity and professionalism so vitally needed in ASW. In recognition of the extent to which ASW cuts across the entire Navy, directive authority in ASW must be equal to the totality of the problem. Hulls and systems, from their very inception, must be brought forward with their missions and potential applications being continually reviewed. It makes little sense to design a sonar capable of the most sensitive performance possible and then place it in a bull next to clanking steam machinery of a quarter of a century ago. The presently scattered and diffused programs of gathering acoustic and oceano-graphic data must be co-ordinated to provide a basis upon which realistic estimates of performance can be made early in the life of new systems.
Prophecy is one of man’s most fallible endeavors, but perhaps some things can be foreseen. It appears that events will continue to move in the direction we read in the signs of the present. The nuclear submarine, growing in numbers and capabilities, will exert relentlessly increasing pressure on the future course of naval warfare. In ASW, where a choice must be made, the nuclear attack submarine will talce priority as the system logically offering the best hope of defeating the submarine.
Thus, submarine warfare and anti-submarine warfare seem destined to be drawn together toward a common arena that will be the critical focus of decision.
No forecasts necessarily derive that the importance of the surface ship is soon to decline. The surface ship will endure because it does many vital jobs that must be done, and that the submarine cannot do. But if there should again be a war between great naval powers, it seems probable that the question of whose merchantman, whose naval task forces, it is that sail the oceans and do their jobs, will be settled primarily beneath the surface.
Out of long frustration with the problem, occasionally irritation creeps into naval attitudes toward the submarine. If only it did not enjoy the protective cloak of the sea, one sometimes hears it said, the submarine would not be so very much.
Precisely. But that is exactly what the submarine is all about.