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.)

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Nukes Vs. Diesels Over At 'Phib's Place

CDR Salamander crossed off the milblogger quarterly PM of someone hosting the "U.S. should buy diesel subs rather than nukes" debate, so head on over and join in the fun. My take (copied from the comment I just made over there):
It really depends on what you want the submarine to do. I'd still take a Virginia over 3 SSKs in an open ocean scenario. Additionally, I've got a feeling that it would cost us way more to build the subs that it does for the Germans, since our workers have been trained for the higher quality nuclear work and you wouldn't be able to drop their pay just because you don't need them to do as good of a weld. A lot of our sub-building money goes into SubSafe, and we're not going to drop those requirements just because it's a diesel boat.
Not that while I normally give the Virginia-class boats crap because they're so slow, compared to diesel boats they're like sports cars. Still, the case could be made that diesels could be more cost effective in a defensive ASW role, like we might face in Korea or Taiwan, assuming you forward deployed the SSKs to Guam. Still, that's pretty pricey for a one-mission platform.


Blogger CDR Salamander said...

Awwww, you know its fun. Kind of like back in the day you had that old girlfriend you had to call every few months....usually at 2am....

8/27/2006 10:06 AM

Blogger Zoe Brain said...

You do know that I had a bit of a hand in the design and implementation of those boats' integrated sonar and combat system, don't you?

My babies. :)

8/28/2006 2:17 AM

Blogger submandave said...

Zoe, I'd take nothing away from the Collins, truly a sweet boat. But the mission of the USN sub force, with no slight intended, often calls for greater flexibility, endurance and speed than any conventional submarine can provide on a sustained basis. And as the fleet continues to shrink (what's the build rate now?) these factors become even more essential. Back during GWI we had a boat surge from San Diego, get on station, launch, transit to Guam, reload and make it back into launch position before hostilities were over.

8/28/2006 4:08 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

CDR S -- I always think the back-and-forth on discussions like this is great fun. It's like the quarterly "women on subs" discussion (which I think is about due).

8/28/2006 9:50 PM

Blogger Zoe Brain said...

Not the Collins: The Dolphins going to the IDF.

I was offered the job of software QA Manager on the Collins project back in 1986. It's the one battle I ran away from, as it was unwinnable.

Instead, I went to Germany and helped make the combat system the Collins should have had - and at one point was going to be bought by the RAN to replace the US-made dud that they'd been landed with.

But the US sweetened the pot, saying they'd give help in other areas the Collins had problems with. And all the evidence says that the Mk II system is not just a vast improvement on the old, but is about as good as the ISUS-90 that is nearly 15 years older. It's certainly a very good system, comparable with very similar ones on USN boats, and they are very good indeed.

Or so I'm told. It's been a while now, no NTK.

8/29/2006 1:36 AM

Blogger Zoe Brain said...

One more thing, Donks vs Nukes.

If the US had to have an all-donk or all-nuke sub force, then go for the nuke force, of course, no question.

The question is, what about a mix? There's huge advantages in having some donks in the mix, for training, for littoral operations, etc.

There are also disadvantages in having 2 sets of infrastructure. IMHO the advantages of having 10 SSGKs in the USN instead of an additional 2 SSGNs outweigh the disadvantages. Heck, even 6 vs 2.

Also... Donks can be built in yards where nukes can't. If an emergency expansion was needed, having a donk infrastructure in place may alleviate training needs, filling in some coastal defence roles, and freeing SSNs for going out and doing neat stuff.

8/29/2006 1:44 AM


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