The Latest "Diesel Boats Are Scary" Story
Every few months, you'll see a story in some local paper about how "diesel boats sank the most advanced U.S. warships in an exercise" or "foreign warplanes shot down our most advanced fighters in an exercise". The newest one came out last week on the nbc4.tv website from LA, discussing the San Diego-based Swedish submarine HMS Gotland. Here are some excerpts:
According to Swedish newspapers, in training exercises the Gotland has sunk our most sophisticated nuclear submarines. But perhaps even more disconcerting, it reportedly sunk our largest aircraft carrier, the U.S.S. Reagan...I'd say that's a pretty big if -- I don't think the Swedes are selling to the Iranians. Still, I think these stories actually serve a fairly good purpose, hopefully getting Congress to provide more money for the military to respond to the "threat"; they also make our allies feel better about themselves, which is important. Meanwhile, those of us who know will just keep it to ourselves that essentially every submarine in the world could "sink" a carrier in a SoCal exercise; the real question is how they'd do in a real-world situation, where they'd have to transit a couple hundred miles to the CVOA, and their torpedos would actually have to work, and they'd be going up against a screen of one or two SSNs, who know what the threat axis is and who don't have their NAUs turned on. (This is not to say the Gotland, or another Western submarine and crew couldn't do it -- they're very good. We're not planning on going to war with them, though. I'm saying that an Iranian or North Korean diesel boat and crew would have a hard time actually getting close enough to an alerted Battle Group to do any militarily significant damage. Remember, in a war with Iran, we're not going to be sending the carriers charging through the SOH until the Iranian Kilos are sunk; they'll be way down in the Arabian Sea, leveling the submarine maintenance facility at Bandar Abbas with air strikes.)
...As the U.S. funnels billions into the war on terror, countries like North Korea, China and Iran are building or trying to get submarines like the Gotland.
Two months ago in the Persian Gulf, Iran tested a new anti-ship missile fired by one of its subs.
If the Iranians are successful in getting a Gotland-class submarine, it could pose a new silent danger to vital oil tanker traffic in the region...
Until then, we'll just sit back and act shocked, and let everyone know that if we had a few billion more dollars, we could make it all better.