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.)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Even The Russians Get It!

Interesting article today in Pravda about the relative ineffectiveness of surface ships against submarines. While you have to take everything there with a grain of salt, and I have no idea whether or not the anecdotes are true, there are some interesting points raised:

"Here's an example: the incident has not seen the publicity except for the website of training "Joint Winter 2004" in Norwegian only. The thing is that during the NATO training in Norway, Norwegian diesel submarine "Joint Winter 2004" secretly penetrated into British fleet formation of the "enemy's" assault force and wracked the amphibious transport dock "Albion", aircraft-carrier "Invincible", frigate "Iron Duke" and the destroyer "Manchester". The escort did not detect the submarine. The captain of "Utvaer" even surfaced under periscope of Albion's wake and took a picture of it to support the recordings of his "deeds" in the logbook. In the end the umpires of the training were forced to remove "Utvaer", which had been launched 14 years before, for 72 hours to make it possible for the training to go on somehow!
"At present the surface vessels have turned out to be the weakest and the most vulnerable link in the antisubmarine war. The main reason for this is the high noisiness and the low detection range of the board detecting set, too low for the antisubmarine weapons to function.
"The Pentagon decided to apply different tactics to solve this problem. Americans decided to transfer the antisubmarine war under water: the multi-purpose submarines are the key and the most resistant element of the existing and the future American naval forces. These submarines are the most threatening to the sustainability of the Russian nuclear-powered submarines, which are the important constituent of the Russian nuclear forces."

In response to articles like this, I normally get responses along the lines of "well my destroyer sank five different submarines in three days of exercises, and they never heard us, and our Nixie would protect us anyway." I don't doubt that that's the way the surface warriors remember it, and I can't really talk about how exactly the exercises are, shall we say, "rigged". I can provide one example: we were doing one exercise with P-3s, and the airdale Admiral was excited because it was going to be "free play" where we (the sub) got lots of freedom of action. The OPORD read something like "arrive within 1 mile of the regeneration points within 5 minutes of the regen time; you may use any course and any speed between 5 and 15 knots; blah blah blah". This all looks well and good on paper; until you actually plot out the points, and realize that the only way to get to each point is to run in a straight line at 15 knots, then turn immediately towards the next point and do the same thing. These exercises are designed to "force interaction". There are lots of things subs have to do in exercises that we wouldn't do in wartime...

When I was on the carrier staff (and knew where the opposing submarines were), I was amazed at how many "certsub" reports we were getting that weren't actual submarines. In a hot war, we probably would have dropped ordnance on all these spots. That's a lot of wasted torpedoes...

Summary: In any real war, the nuclear submarines would kick the living crap out of whatever surface ship they're up against. If you're on one of those targets, you better hope you have a submarine protecting you; unless they're American or Brit subs after you, and then you should abandon ship at the first opportunity.

Going deep...


Anonymous Byron Audler said...

Just curious...were any of the Brit escorts using TAS? Did they have a screen of ASW helos deployed across the line of advance? Were the escorts using reasonably random course changes, to keep the sub guessing which was the best course to get to firing point? And yes, I know a diesel on battery is as quiet as a mouse fart, but reasonable course changes would force the sub possibly speed up, and thus make a wee bit of noise, to achieve an intercept.

Sounds like bad tactics on the Brits part, or just plain arrogance

8/04/2005 2:45 AM

Anonymous 636ears said...

I was involved as a sonar tech on a few ops, and you are correct. The rules are rigged against the subs, and yet they still win occasionally.

8/04/2005 2:39 PM

Blogger Subsunk said...

Dear bubblehead,

The only time I ever got counterdetected by a skimmer in 20 yrs was when I had to get around him from dead astern and in front of him while he was doing 15 knots. I in my 637 and he with his new SQR-19 tail and helo did one number on me when I violated the COs standing orders and night orders to stay outside 10K from him and I cut the corner too close to get in front of him while doing 18 knots. Did almost no TMA either to prove I was outside the minimum range. Of course the CO was upset, but he would have been just as upset if I had not tried to get in front of the clown before morning. As you say, the Stupid Shall be Punished. And I was Stupid.

Otherwise the closest I came to skimmer counterdetection was when some old frigate nearly ran over us coming to PD. She was a few miles away, but looks pretty big in high power in a periscope.

(on the pond from 1982 to 1995 -- outside of staff rider time)

8/05/2005 3:59 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Otherwise the closest I came to skimmer counterdetection was when some old frigate nearly ran over us coming to PD. She was a few miles away, but looks pretty big in high power in a periscope.

What the @#@$ were you doing in high power coming to PD? I had one emergency deep and another "gently aborted" ascent when the ESM started lighting up at 90 feet.

8/06/2005 11:33 PM


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