ON SUBMARINE CONNECTIVITY
February 17, 1998
Dear Admiral Holland:
I read with considerable interest the article in the January SUBMARINE REVIEW adopted from your very perceptive remarks to a submarine communications conference in June 1997.
Having been on the retired role and away from submarine duty for 25 years, I obviously have no current knowledge of submarine operations and communications. However, as a regular reader of SUBMARINE REVIEW I have often wondered about the discussions concerning close integration of attack submarines with surface and air task groups.
There have no doubt been manifold advances in communications capabilities from what was available to those of us who participated in the early development and use of nuclear powered submarines. But the characteristics of the ocean and the relevant laws of physics probably have not changed. And it is probably even more true now that, while a submarine is transmitting either electromagnetic or sound energy, it has forfeited its most important offensive characteristic and its most effective defensive weapon-concealment and stealth.
Accepting that some current war planning scenarios require that attack submarine operations be coordinated with surface and air task groups, I would certainly second a point I think you have made; i.e., such coordination, if it is to be effective, must be achieved without the need for frequent communications transmission by the submarine-by adapting proven past submarine communications and modus operandi to these operations.
In my recollection a submarine operating in close coordination and frequent two-way communication with surface and air elements is really not a submarine, and it is a very poor surface ship. And the lessons of history would caution that undertaking such operations in actual hostilities would incur a high risk of losses due to friendly fire.
c.s. (Chuck) Carlisk
2327 Harris Avenue
Richland, WA 99352
FURTHER ON SUBMARINE CONNECTIVITY
March 12, 1998
Dear Captain Carlisle:
You have stated the problem clearly and succinctly. The tradeoffs between stealth and connectivity are difficult. The lessons of the submarine campaigns of World War II have not been lost, up until now, but they are threatened regularly from two aspects. The first is the assignment of submarines to Task Forces where commanders have little or no comprehension of the capabilities and limitations of the submarines assigned to their command and no experience in using them. Since most of these officers are naval aviators from an entirely different C3 regime or culture-one which tends to talk a lot rather than listen a lot-they become uncomfortable with forces not heard from. The concept of negative information being real information is difficult to grasp for persons used to radar and link fed intelligence. The result is these officers often want to hear from their submarines just to know she is there.
The second threat comes from the expansion of communications and information management technology which allows an ever larger amount of data to be sensed, processed, exchanged and displayed. At every level of command the understanding of time late, uncertainty of location, sensor overlap, performance of the solution algorithms delays in transmission, communication path latency, and related technical issues is weak at best. Few users of modem information technology, including the submariners, understand the nature of the radio options and processes by which they are executed. Nurtured on pro-football, most officers expect live video all the time. Places where large antennas can be mounted can come close to this dream but disadvantaged users are expected to do things which violate the laws of physics.
As people become more experienced in the use of communications and associated information technology, much of this will be sorted out. As evidence I submit that the officer the most to advance Command and Control in the Navy today is a submariner, Admiral Archie Clemins, CINCPACFLT. As the Force builds more and more people who become competent in these matters, many of the difficulties of the present will be solved. My intuition further tells me that most of those solutions will come from the operating forces and not from our laboratories or vendors.
Admiral Kelso, with whom I had been shipmates in an earlier assignment. once growled at me after an exchange about C3, “Who the hell made you a wizard?” I had to enlighten him that “In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king”. The one common characteristic of all successful submariners is the intellectual fortitude to figure out how things work. When submariners in general direct that focus to communications, much of the problem will be solved.
W.J. Holland, Jr.
Rear Admiral, USN(Rtt.)
A TWO CREW STRATEGY FOR SSNs
January 2, 1998
I read with great interest the articles by Lieutenant Gittleman and Captain O’Connell regarding a two crew strategy for a SO SSN Navy. It’s an interesting approach. While serving onboard USS PAR CHE (SSN 683) during a lengthy overhaul and conversion in the late 1980s, we mused about the idea of having separate shipyard crews so that we could go to sea and keep up our readiness.
There are a few issues I’d like to point out in Lieutenant Gittleman’s article that need to be further addressed. First, there would be a significant on-going cost in training and support (such as admin personnel and facilities) of the additional crews. Another consideration that his calculations do not take into account is the time value of money (such as inflation, etc.) to derive the true present value of each scenario in order to make a more valid comparison. Lastly, while his suggestion for forward deployment of crews to extend core life is a good idea, there are again additional costs here in the form of travel, overseas base support, etc. There would be political issues to be worked out too. And I’d want to check on how an increase in OPTEMPO would affect the overall service life of a SSN-the designers probably did not take into account a two crew schedule when they were originally built.
Having said this, should we consider other alternatives to the impending budgetary constraints? With the passing of the Cold War, future U.S. military concerns are now concentrated on regional conflicts such as possible on the Korean peninsula. In these types of scenarios, our SSN efforts will be primarily ASW and expeditionary warfare support in a littoral environment instead of engagements in an open ocean environment. Thus, the need for SSNs to maintain high speed, submerged runs over long distances has diminished. Since this need was a key driver for employing nuclear propulsion systems onboard U.S. submarines, has the time come to consider bringing back lower cost conventional submarine propulsion systems? In addition to lower construction costs, they would be less expensive to maintain and might require smaller crews. Yet they would still be a highly effective weapons platform in a littoral conflict.
With continuing changes in the world order, we need to be continually rethinking the type of effective weapons (from both a cost and firepower basis) we need in our arsenal to meet these challenges. There is and still will be a need for nuclear submarines in the future. However, the additional realities of budgetary constraints and changes in warfare environments require us to think more out of the box and consider other alternatives. A conventional propulsion system is one idea and there are probably many others.
Thank you for the opportunity to comment on these articles. I thoroughly enjoy reading THE SUBMARINE REVIEW and keeping more in touch with our submarine community.
LCDR Malt Zirile, USNR
MEMORIAL FOR AN EARLY SUB BASE
February 3, 1998
J.P. Holland’s holy ground will be remembered with the help of ETl(SS) Milt Seltzer (Steelhead).
The New Suffolk, New York Holland memorial Project he is undertaking will see a memorial put in place way out there on Peconic Bay, at the comer of First and Main Streets, where around the turn of the century the Irishman tested his boats and, across the way at Sag Harbor, had his Whitehead torpedoes tested at the Bliss
I took a picture some years ago of the cast iron Holland Memorial Street marker where Seltzer and others will be doing the honors. A worthwhile undertaking.
Martin F. Sduifler
Editor’s ‘Note: Martin Schaffer sent along a copy of his photograph of the historical marker. The text of the marker is as follows:
FIRST SUBMARINE BASE/h4<>
This marks the site of the first submarine base in this country where U.S.S. HOLLAND,first submarine commissioned by U.S. Navy was based for trials. In the period between 189’J and 1905 six other submarines of the Holland Torpedo Boat Co. were based al this site which was known as the Holland Torpedo Boat Station. Naval maneuvers between submarines and IM U.S.S. Torpedo Boal Destroyer WINSLOW of Spanish War fame were held in this waters.
February 8, 1998
Dr. Milford’s most useful analysis U.S. Navy Torpedoes Part seven (THE SUBMARINE REVIEW, January 1998) states that Israeli motor torpedo boats launched three torpedoes against USS LIBERTY in 1967. In fact, five torpedoes were launched: MTB 203 launched two, MTB 204 launched one, and MTB 206 launched two.
Three of the torpedoes missed astern. One fired by MTB 203 passed ahead of LIBERTY and one struck the hapless intelligence ship.
I understand that of more than 40 torpedoes launched by Israeli forces in various conflicts during the past SO years, this was the only torpedo known to have struck its target.
THE SUB LAUNCHED NUCLEAR CRUISE MISSLE DEBATE
February 21, 1998
May I pass along my comments on the arguments for retention or discard of the TLAM/N capability in SSNs to include:
May I pass along my comments on the arguments for retention or discard of the TLAM/N capability in SSNs to include:
- BZ to Bill Norris, Lieutenant Kostiuk and Lieutenant Commandeer DiOrio. Their writings are throughly professional in all aspects: content, arguments and format. They brought the entire League membership up to speed on the pros and cons of the TLAM/N as a Navy weapon system (only) for submarines.
- The con arguments notwithstanding, I find myself solidly on the side for retaining TLAM/N in SSNs. Pragmatically, the strongest argument for its retention is President Clinton’s acceptance of this system for retention only in the Navy and only attack submarines. The tactical and strategic need for it on SSNs already has been argued and accepted by the highest national authorities. It is part of the SSN mission package! This status has much potential for positive budget fallout (excuse the pun) in near term and out year allocations concerning SSNs. Ye who would jeopardize this exalted position-bite your tongue!
- Again waxing pragmatic, the weakest aspect of Lieutenant Kostiuk’s paper is the (persistent) emphasis on using needy submarine causes. In my estimation, this thesis tends to brand Lieutenant Kostiuk as being a bit naive concerning the budget process. If my memory serves me, “it just plain don’t work that way”. Whatever other submarine-related budgetary needs exist, their satisfaction will ultimately depend upon how effectively their sponsor argues their funding requirements. Further, these arguments and the resulting decisions will be made independently of TLAM/N dollars!
- Keep the TLAM/NI Maybe it (and its possible employment) will result in a greater number of SSNs for our Navy.
CAPT Howard VellWa, USN(Ret.)
E-MAIL TO THE BOATS
March 12, 1998
Dear Captain Hay,
I am EMCM(SS) Mike Hurley, USS PROVIDENCE (SSN 719) Chief of the Boat currently deployed with the STENNIS battlegroup.
THE SUBMARINE REVIEW
is a great publication and my fellow Chiefs enjoy reading the articles. As you focus on the growth of technologies and the expanded potential of submarine operations, consider that I am sending this to you while underway. We receive and send e-mail through servers at either COMSUBLANT or COMSUBGRU EIGHT. The 40 word family grams are just a memory. (I think the squadron may still have a few for you that just never made the journey-ask if they can e-mail them to you.)
Too often only Quality of Life issues with a large price tag receive attention. Sailor e-mail is an extremely low cost program for both the Submarine Force and the Sailor. As programming is developed to automatically route traffic to the ship, shore intervention may no longer be required. I can tell you first hand there has been no single morale boost to operational crews than Sailor email. My crew now has the ability to keep in touch with family and friends daily. There are of course limitations; text only files w/o attachments, security considerations for outbound traffic and reviewing incoming traffic for sensitive information.
We are able to pass personnel information to our supporting folks at PSD servicing our pay/personnel records, keep in touch with the squadron staff and, of course, tell our wives to jiggle the red wire to the car battery that we’ve been meaning to get to.
What’s next-attachments, graphics, pictures, video-or when it all crashes, maybe you will get those missing family grams.
EMCM(SS) Hurley, USN