Contact Us   |    Join   |    Donate


Good Morning. I am so delighted to be here today. I would like to talk about one of my favorite subjects … what Submarines can do for the Nations of the World.

It’s a subject which fits the theme of this conference. I will simply answer the questions posed by UDT Pacific 2006 … how best to bring Undersea Technology to bear on the problem of providing Global Maritime Security with coalition forces.

I will postulate a short scenario as background for the discussion. It’s a scenario that illustrates just one aspect of Maritime Security.

Bad actors hijack ships of various international registries and hold the passengers and crews hostage for ransom. This is a problem – not of a major superpower standoff or global conflict with kinetic strikes being traded back and forth … This is a problem of commerce and security. This is a problem where global prosperity is threatened by small groups that take advantage of the wide-open ungoverned maneuver space afforded by the high seas and the seas of nations that are unable to enforce the rule of law. They take advantage of these spaces to operate against the rule of law for various purposes that range from illicit trade to forwarding a fundamentalist religious agenda.


  • Why Maritime Security?
  • Why Coalition?
  • Why Undersea?
  • Technology
  • Challenges

While this scenario sounds familiar today, it also drove our forefathers. It describes a time from the early days of the United States of America .. . when the Frigates commissioned under our second President, John Adams, were employed by our third president, Thomas Jefferson, in this country’s first efforts to achieve our National Security by working beyond our nearby coastline. This was not a superpower asserting itself across the globe. This was a fledgling country, protecting freedom of navigation and commerce through an area that was not deemed of strategic importance by the powers of that day. It was a time when we took our first steps at influencing the external world through seapower as a global partner. We did it by enforcing Global Maritime Security.

Why Maritime Security?

Today the problem is much different, but so many elements remain the same. There is much more global commerce, and it is continuing to grow as fast as technology and physics will allow. Maritime commerce directly employs 2 million people globally and indirectly makes possible the employment of many times more than that. Taken in total, the world’s Trading Fleet displaces more than 598 Million Tons. More than before, this economy is driven over the ocean highways, and as before these routes go through and near troubled waters. Ideologies, countries, companies, peoples meet and compete on these highways.

We all depend on the Global Economy. It provides our livelihood; it determines our nation’s policies. And the Global Economy depends on the Oceans Highways.

Maritime Security is central to our very existence … it provides for nothing less than our Prosperity and our National Security.

Why Coalition?

But why do we need to do this as a coalition? Simply put, a coalition gives us the right Capacity, and it gives us the right Character.

If we put a monetary value on the collective efforts of Transnational Criminal Organizations, they are on a par with the collective revenues of these eight multi-national companies. The IMF (International Monetary Fund) estimates that the laundered proceeds from criminal activities are between 2.0% to 4.8% of the world’s GDP annually. That would be between $860 Billion- $2.07 Trillion in 2005.

With assets on that scale for both the global legitimate and illegitimate trading partners, coupled with the diffuse, permeating nature of the threat, the only way to address the problem is through coalition partnerships. Today’s security challenges are too diverse to tackle alone and require more capacity and resources than any one nation can deliver.

Here, the Nations of the world are bound together by our dependence on the seas and in our need for security of the vast common area they represent. Like in a capitalist free market, where actions made for the purpose of individual gain serve the overall good of the marketplace and nation, actions to bring security to the seas serve the local national interests at the same time they serve the global good. Nations exercising sovereignty do not detract from global security, they produce it.

Economies provide Prosperity
Economies require Maritime Commerce
Maritime Commerce requires Maritime Security

Why Undersea?

Undersea Technology brings some unique capabilities to bear on the problem of Maritime Security. Those capabilities are Persistence, Mobility, Stealth, Power, and Payload-and they are critical. Those capabilities allow us to fill many roles.

If you missed it, last week one of the news items was the Mars Global Surveyor project. The probe was launched over 10 years ago and was expected to last for two years. In the 10 years the planet rover portion of it operated, it has sent back over 240,000 pictures and scientists say it revolutionized what we were thinking about Mars. This project has given us the best topographic map of any planet in the solar system. The most unique contributions of the lander come from actually operating within the environment it is studying with persistence and mobility. It can sample its area over extended periods of time and move to other areas to identify variation. Because of its persistence, we can see things that are not always happening – like dust storms. Because of its mobility, we can visit places you can’t land near- like gullies.

By operating inside the study medium, we learned something not discernable from orbit-Mars once had a magnetic field.

Our undersea forces do the same on earth, as the Surveyor did on the moon .. the scout for our nations.

Beyond Persistence and Mobility, in the problem of Maritime Security, we also need to have Stealth, Power, and Payload. The common denominator across these roles is the sustained ability to observe without affecting the behavior of the subject- To see what is happening when the subjects don’t think anyone is looking.

They also give us the ability to anonymously observe without attribution back to our Nations.

So the answer to Why Undersea? … Undersea provides Scouts that can act for our national interests and do it with Persistence, Mobility, Stealth, Power, and Payload

One of the things that have changed since Preble, Decatur, and Somers is the distance to the horizon. I’ll talk more on this later, but networking communications and sensors have pushed the area of awareness and knowledge much farther for both the bad actors as well as for our Maritime Security Enforcers.

This expansion of the horizon is the primary change that necessitates the use of Undersea Technology to help solve the problem. With expanded sensor ranges and communications networking, bad actors have the ability to cease or redirect their illicit activity based on the presence of surveillance or law enforcement units. Undersea Technology brings some unique capabilities (and unique challenges) to counter those response options of the bad actors.

As just one example, this year a US SSN’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance activities made her the Scout for SOUTHCOM Counter Narco-Terrorism operations in the Caribbean. Her participation led to the seizure of over 2.8 tons of narcotics. Narco-Terrorists are affluent criminals with significant monetary resources and a clear incentive to avoid being observed. Defeating them requires Persistence, Mobility, and Stealth. Winning against other terrorist networks requires similar capabilities.

Technology has been a great contributor to capability from under the sea.

Sixty years ago the Pacific was a big ocean for a Submarine Force to cover. Shown here are the spheres of influence-sensor and weapon ranges of 5 of our submarines.

Sphere of Influence

Their sensor range was essentially visual and it exceeded the acoustic range of their equipment. Even with functioning radar, targets would frequently be picked up first visually if the weather was good. Weapons were effective to less than 2 miles.

Now, if we plot today’s sphere of influence over those same positions from 60 years ago we see quite a different picture. Not only are our sensors much better, but the range of our weapons makes the Pacific Ocean a much smaller place. Acoustic Sensors can reach over 1 OOnm (with processing that allows us to sort the wheat through the chaff), and EM sensors can go even further depending on the signals and conditions. Conventional weapons can reach out to 1,200 nm.

SubComms Capabillties

The same improvements have occurred with communications connectivity. The communications throughput of WWII wouldn’t even be visible on this chart. Today’s submarines are IP connected; their crew can chat, browse, email, view, and send pictures.

Some key technologies today that support this partnership in Undersea Warfare by coalition forces are the ones that allow precise common references, identification, collaboration, and visualization.


  • Increased Operational Availability
  • Communications at Speed and Depth
  • Coalition Communications
  • ¬†Better Information Security
  • Harvest Open Architecture

My last slide and last point … Our challenges. I’ll let you study this list for a few moments. Addressing these challenges will help us fully network the coalition of Undersea Defense Partners. To meet these demands of Coalition Maritime Security, we need to be able to develop Capacity and Compatability.

For Capacity, Undersea capability is expensive. We need the submarines that we have to be more available. They need to be cheaper to build and to maintain. That means reducing the lifecycle cost and includes things like protective coatings, corrosion engineering, and durable equipment.

For Compatability, the Coalition needs communications connectivity. We need the capability to share infonnation. That capability should be provided with an open architecture that allows flexible development and affordable modernization.


  • Maritlme Security= Prosperity
  • Coalltion = capacity
  • Undersea Technology= Persistence, Mobility, Stealth, Power and Payload necessaty for Security
  • Challenges

The follow-on mission to the Mars Global Surveyor is the Mars Polar Lander-due to launch within the next year. That’s planned to be a much larger vehicle because they will need more Power, and more Payload in their search for water beneath the surface.

In the 201 years since Lieutenants Richard Somers, Henry Wadsworth, and Joseph Israel brought the fight to the enemy a lot has changed. To accomplish the task they set out to do with Commodore Perry’s Frigates and the first USS INTREPID, we will need a coalition. The threat has matured with the same technology that has made the world flat again. Horizons are broadened and awareness abounds. To truly deliver Maritime Security now requires Stealth, Persistence, and Payload in the platforms enforcing it. Those capabilities are here today in the form of Submarines and Undersea Technology.

Thank you for your support to Undersea Capabilities.

Naval Submarine League

© 2022 Naval Submarine League