Good afternoon and Aloha! It is great to be back again for another Symposium.
The Naval Submarine League can always be counted on for a terrific event and as the representative of the Pacific Fleet Submarine Force it is an honor for me to have the opportunity to represent the over 11,000 men and women who support the Force today in the Pacific.
This year’s Symposium theme-Undersea Dominance in 2040-provides us all the opportunity to rally around a goal. Our challenge is to sustain what is clear to any maritime power in the world today-the United States Navy is without a doubt the most dominant undersea force in the world today-our challenge-maintain the advantage that supports our worldwide maritime dominance.
And what should be clear is: without Undersea Dominance there can be no Maritime Dominance.
My remarks will build on a look back at the journey that got us to where we are today-a review of the post-WWII history of the Submarine Force-the sixty-year history of the force from 1950 forward to today.
While taking you through this period I think you will agree there are some lessons both good and bad that history teaches us which we should bear in mind as we move forward in the next 30 years.
The 30 year period from 1950 to 1980 was a very busy period for the Force-we began this period with no sea based strategic deterrence capability, no nuclear powered submarines and no fixed ocean surveillance systems.
Over the next 3 decades, this capability would be fielded with a vengeance as we raced against the Soviet Union to shape the post-WW II security landscape.
In just 30 years we would build 87 nuclear attack submarines
• We would build 41 nuclear ballistic missile submarines-affectionately referred to as the 41 for Freedom.
• We would launch the world’s most formidable ballistic missile submarine USS OHIO (SSBN 726}-now serving the United States Navy as a guided missile submarine equipped with over 100 tomahawk cruise missiles.
• The underwater SOSUS network responsible for tracking and alerting US forces of adversary
submarines would be fielded with listening posts around the world.
• The Navy would end this period with more nuclear sub-marines than diesel electric submarines.
• At our peak the Force consisted of over a hundred and forty submarines.
We also suffered the loss of two of our nuclear submarines USS THRESHER and USS SCORPION. In the wake of these losses would come brutally honest assessments that would change submarine construction and maintenance-the result-improved safety.
Finally, in spite of two significant wars our Navy didn’t lose sight of the need to build for the future.
The next 30 years, which brings us to today, was punctuated by significant change also. (Figure 1)
• In the early eighties the Trident submarine class would begin strategic deterrent patrols from a new base in the Pacific Northwest-Bangor. Later, a base in Kings Bay, Georgia would host the remainder of the Trident force.
• The Navy would decommission its last diesel electric attack submarine opting instead for the mobility and en-durance of nuclear powered attack submarines.
• Construction of the SEA WOLF Class, a follow on to the Sturgeon Class, would be halted at 3 ships. The SEA WOLF Class was considered a “Cold War” relic-it’s too bad we weren’t able to predict at the time what the emerging China would look like in 2010 when the decision to stop construction was made. There is a cruel irony in this decision-as you will likely learn from V ADM John Bird tomorrow-the number of MK 48 ADCAP torpedoes available in the SEVENTH Fleet AOR on a day-to-day basis is of significant interest to planners. I’d like to remind you that the SEA WOLF Class submarine can carry two and a half times the number of heavyweight torpedoes carried by a VIRGINA Class submarine or LOS ANGELES Class submarine. Potential firepower is a game changer and it should never be forgotten that it is in demand today just like it was in the “Cold War”.
• In fact, this recognition drove a decision to convert 4 of our OHIO Class SSBNs to SSGNs with a significant gain in available firepower-and added flexibility to the war-fighter-just in the nick of time to allow the Navy to face the emerging BMD mission.
• As you can see from the slide, in the second thirty years submarine force structure would fall from nearly 140 submarines to 68 today-a decline of over 50 percent.
USS HA WAII arriving in Apra Harbor, Guam on first VA-class WESTPAC deployment
USS CHICAGO image of Chilean warship during RIMPAC exercise
TLAM test launch
SDV operations with USS HA WAII
So where does that leave us and what is needed to sustain today’s dominant position? As was the case over the last 60 years- our Force is in high demand today.
• The ISR platform of choice in every theater and every comer of the planet-we are meeting only half of the worldwide Combatant Commander demand.
• Our attack submarine force has mastered shallow water littoral operations-our versatile platforms, many de-signed to counter Cold War threats, have been retooled with sensor suites
• Patriot radars
• Night Owl infrared systems
• Low cost conformal arrays
• Combat systems optimized for high contact density operations
• We are optimized to take the fight into the littoral – and we are an adaptive force!
• Every day our ballistic missile submarine force has 5 survivable boats at sea. These submarines represent the survivable leg of the strategic triad-with their Trident II D-5 missile system their value to the nation’s defense and the defense of our allies is indisputable. This success breeds success and put the Force in terrific position as we move forward with the OHIO Replacement Program.
• Finally, we have taken the fight to extremist elements that would like to harm or threaten our way of life-or those of our allies. Teamed with our NSW partners, we are supporting operations against extremist elements operating in the PACOM and CENTCOM AORs.
The REGULUS I had severe inherent shortcomings. A launching submarine had to surface and sit dead in the water, the guidance method was very susceptible to electronic jamming, and the missile itself flew at subsonic speeds, making interception relatively easy. In 1960, REGULUS I was no longer used on carriers (it had never been popular, being regarded as a competitor to manned aircraft), but the Submarine Force had increased to five ships. However, at that time the UGM-27 POLARIS SLBM (Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile) system became operational, which rendered the REGULUS completely obsolete.
In 1963, shortly before retirement, the REGULUS I was redesignated in the RGM-6 series as follows:
|Old Designation||New Designation|
The last REGULUS submarine was retired in 1964, and many missiles were converted into BQM-6C targets afterwards. In total, about 500 Regulus I missiles of all types were built.
As we focus now on the Undersea Dominance in 2040-where must we focus our attention to maintain our preeminent position as the world’s most dominant maritime power? (Figure 2)
Graph from Heritage Foundation backgrounder, Feb 2010: “Submarine Arms Race m the Pacific: The Chinese Challenge to U.S. Undersea Supremacy”
- I’d like to begin with something I mentioned earlier the SEA WOLF Class submarine-a class of three ships.
- In addition to the obvious problems of a three ship class-challenging logistics support, building an experienced cadre to operate and maintain these submarines, and per unit costs I think we need to remember one thing.
- SEA WOLF is extremely relevant in today’s maritime environment-but we can do a better job of delivering capability to the Nation at a reduced cost.
- The Submarine Force has advantages that position us well for the future-we have shipbuilders willing to work with us to drive out cost-we have a dedicated acquisition corps working exhaustively to ensure our Submarine Force capability meets tomorrow’s needs.
- We listen to criticism and move out to meet cost targets in a resource constrained environment. In fact, just recently Secretary Gates cited the Ohio Replacement Program as a model in which “the Pentagon is trimming requirements without sacrificing capability.” A lesson we learned well as we drove costs down on the way to a two per year VIRGINIA Class submarine build rate.
- We are using the same experience to ensure sensors, weapons, and combat systems needed to keep our submarines fit to fight are delivered in the same manner-in to-day’s uncertain fiscal environment we can ill afford to strike out with anything delivered to our submarines in the name of improved combat effectiveness.
As we prepare for the future, adaptability must be “the coin of the realm.” Our ability to adapt is proven. One need look no further than USS LOS ANGELES-a 33 year old submarine built to fight in the COLD WAR-yet on her final deployment successful in meeting a broad range of threats that weren’t even considered by planners when the ship was designed. (Figure 3)
- Stealth will always be in demand-it transcends any threat-because of our inherent stealth-the threat of nu-clear conflict or conventional war will be drastically re-duced for our Nation and our allies well into this century.
- I enjoy listening to the so-called pundits who say we don’t need a strong navy because there hasn’t been large scale maritime conflict since the end of World War 2-no kid-ding? I wonder why? If you don’t think muscular mari-time forces are a must to balance power and prevent coer-cion then you haven’t been paying attention to what our allies in the western pacific are up to in the face of China’s naval buildup.
- As Vice Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham and Mr. Gwin Prins a professor at the London School of Economics re-cently articulated in their article Why Things Don’t Just Happen-Silent Principles of National Security Presence is the prerequisite for the silent deterrent message that naval forces alone can articulate. A poised force is the prerequisite for pre-emptive action. It is also a pre-requisite for surprise. The ships needed to fulfill these m1ss1ons must have endurance, versatility, role-adaptability and number and be cheaper. The ability to mass and surge a force demands numbers. Numbers are also essential for replaceability. If you cannot afford to lose a ship, you cannot afford to use it. Presence is there-fore the indispensible prerequisite for deterrence.
Finally, I’ve spent a lot of my time talking about hardware but make no mistake about it-it’s really about the people in our Submarine Force.
I’ve had the great good fortune to have worked for some of the giants of our Navy over the last 30 plus years. I always took note of the compliments paid to the Force by non·submariners- our CNO Admiral Gary Roughead is a great example of what I am talking about. He appreciates the capability we bring to bear for our Navy and our Nation each and every day-and has been one of our biggest fans.
We aren’t taking our foot off the gas though. We are working hard each and every day to develop the next generation of submariners.
Today’s Force still attracts our best and brightest (Figure 4). You’ll have a chance over the next couple of days to meet many of them as they provide some insight into deployed operations, and the state of the Force. I know you will enjoy what they have to say.
We are dominant today and will be into the future. The lesson of the past has been to invest in technology, adapt, modernize, and maintain our industrial base. Despite many challenges, our Force is strong. Our Sailors are national assets and are our legacy. They are history’ s best and brightest. I count on you all to maintain our edge. Push the pace of technological advancement and submarine construction, but most importantly get the word out. Our mission matters! We are ever present and ready to answer the call at any time.
Admiral Mies thanks again for inviting me to speak this year.