Keeping the blogosphere posted on the goings on of the world of submarines since late 2004... and mocking and belittling general foolishness wherever it may be found. Idaho's first and foremost submarine blog. (If you don't like something on this blog, please E-mail me; don't call me at home.)

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Why The San Diego Sub Base Was Spared

This article in the New London Day (another version available here) spells out what I've suspected about why Submarine Base Point Loma was not recommended for closure in this BRAC round. As the process was starting, I was hearing from people close to the process that San Diego would probably be on the list. I thought that closing Point Loma would be a mistake; since any war involving submarines that we don't start will most likely be in the Pacific (specifically Taiwan or Korea), the last thing we'd want to do is close a Pacific base. It appears that DoD agreed:

"The submarine base at San Diego was in the Navy's sights early in the base realignment and closure, or BRAC, process, but was kept off the list of bases to be closed for strategic reasons, the Navy acknowledged this week in a letter to a top base-closure official...
"...But Principi, in his letter dated May 24, asked the Navy to explain why, when its own analyses showed closing the submarine base at San Diego would yield “an early return on investment,” the Navy did not put San Diego on its list of possible closures.
"Anne R. Davis, the Navy secretary's special assistant for BRAC issues, acknowledged that closing San Diego would save money and reduce excess capacity.
“However, the Infrastructure Evaluation Group did not approve the recommendation because Subase San Diego is the only West Coast homeport for attack submarines and its closure would limit submarine basing options on the West Coast,” Davis wrote."

One paragraph in the story, though, looks like it's just plain wrong:

"The Navy sources said there are key arguments to be made for Groton's “strategic location” as well. Groton is significantly closer to the North Atlantic and Europe than any other submarine base, and by going over the North Pole, submarines homeported in Groton can actually reach East Asia quicker than those based in San Diego."

It may be true that a submarine in Groton may have to steam fewer miles to reach the northeast coast of North Korea than a San Diego-based sub; however, the water depth in the Bering Straits combined with the ice thickness (especially in the spring timeframe of a likely planned North Korean invasion) means that a sub has a very narrow gap between the ice and seafloor -- this requires a slower speed; as a result, I would be very surprised if a submarine could get on station from Groton quicker than a San Diego boat (to mention nothing of the "chokepoint" aspect of the Bering Straits).

I admit that I'm biased towards San Diego, but in this case, DoD made the right call -- even if the land Subase Point Loma sits on is probably worth more than the rest of the continental U.S. submarine bases put together.

Going deep...


Blogger ninme said...

What? You mean you don't think Ireland is going to invade us?

7/14/2005 12:44 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I thought that most, if not all, our attack boats were based in Pearl?

7/14/2005 2:34 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Most are; we've got three (two operational) in Guam, six in San Diego, one (SSN 23) going to Bangor, and 17 in Pearl. (This link to the CSP website should work for a listing of our PacFleet boats.)
I'm actually more worried about the Icelanders than the Irish -- they're a lot closer...

7/14/2005 3:45 PM

Anonymous Bernie said...

Actually, Sub Base San Diego was closed back in the 1990's. While it is still there, its official name is "Naval Station Annex, Point Loma."

7/14/2005 7:35 PM

Blogger D.P. Guettler said...

Hi Bernie,

I am a techno when it comes to base names like you. In this case the majority have rejected the new name for Submarine Base San Diego. For 99% of us it's still "Submarine Base San Diego".

I was twice stationed there on the USS DOLPHIN AGSS-555. Spent a total of 4 years there. I now live 50 miles North in San Marcos.

7/15/2005 12:02 AM

Anonymous rebootinit said...

What they didn't say is that they would have to either homeport more ssn's in bangor, or pull hawaii boats east for carrier training. THAT was the major concern in 2000 when they were looking at what bangor could support for number of homeporters. With Seawolf, JC, and CT going there, they cannot close SD.

7/15/2005 1:09 AM


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