Attack Subs Moving West
More examples of secrecy going down the tubes today. On the same day that News.com.au announces that the "United States Navy plans to secretly transfer submarines from its Atlantic to Pacific fleet" we see announcements from Congresspersons that the boats are going to be transferred... maybe it's not as big a secret as the overseas papers would like us to believe.
Anyway, the news is full today of stories talking about the Navy's plans to move six attack boats out west; the first two Seawolf-class boats to Washington State, three LAs to San Diego, and an additional LA to Pearl; Guam will apparently stay at 3 boats.
The move of USS Seawolf (SSN 21) and USS Connecticut (SSN 22) to the Puget Sound was expected, although I admit I was taken by surprise by the initial announcement that the boats would be going to Bremerton Naval Base, rather than the Sub Base at Bangor. The Congressman's later "clarification" that the Navy hadn't decided between Bangor and Bremerton made me think that the Congressman had messed up his announcement, and was trying to save face.
This Seattle P-I article says that the other boats that are moving, sometime before 2010, are USS Albuquerque (SSN 706) from Groton to San Diego, USS Jacksonville (SSN 699) from Norfolk to Pearl, and USS Hampton (SSN 767) from Norfolk to SD. The 3rd boat moving to San Diego hasn't been identified yet, but since all the PacFleet VLS boats are stationed there, it could easily be one of the newer boats -- maybe a Virginia named after a Pacific Ocean state?
The articles all mention the same final numbers of attack boats at each port -- Guam 3, San Diego 7, Pearl 18, and Kitsap County 3, for a total of 31 on the West Coast, leaving 21 on the East Coast -- Groton dropping from 17 to 14, and Norfolk from 11 to 7. Since the East Coast is losing one more boat than the West Coast is gaining, and we'll still be bringing Virginia's into the fleet, I think this is telling us that the number of attack boats we'll be decommissioning in the next four years is one more than the number we'll be commissioning.
My opinion --it's a good move. I've said before that the most likely locations for wars involving submarines that we don't start are off Korea and Taiwan, and having boats closer to the action makes sense -- but maybe not too close, which might be why Guam didn't plus up. Also, if something happens in the Straits of Hormuz, it's nice not to have to think about transiting the Suez Canal...