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.)

Monday, January 11, 2010

Longer Deployments In The Future?

We already had this discussion a couple of weeks ago, but here's a Navy Times article discussing submarine numbers over the next couple of decades and the likely effect on time spent at sea for Submariners. Excerpt:
Under the current 30-year procurement plan, the number of attack subs will fall below the required 48 boats in 2022 and will bottom out six years later at 41 boats. The shortfall will continue until 2034.
“[The Navy] doesn’t have a lot of choice in this gap,” said one congressional analyst who spoke on condition of anonymity. “This is the result of decisions made in the past 20 years that are coming home to roost.”
The Navy plans to meet typical requirements with longer deployments and older boats. The service lives of 16 Los Angeles-class subs will be lengthened by as much as 24 months, and at least one month will be added to 40 deployments — about 25 percent of total deployments — over an eight-year period to provide the roughly 10 subs combatant commanders need on any given day. The typical attack sub deployment is six months; it was unclear when the longer deployments are expected to begin.
For now, there seems to be no political will to justify increased SSN purchases above the current plan, but I could see budget pressures causing a slowdown in the projected buy rate of two per year starting in 2011. That could result in serious problems 25 years down the road.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really gotta thank the past CNOs (SWOs) who hate subs, especially adm clark.

He canxed tons of LA class refuelings that could have bridged the gap, for the fraction of the cost of a VA class - though admittedly, only buying barely enough time until the VA class could finally deliver like they are doing.

1/11/2010 6:10 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

More deployments like Miami are coming (8 months!!). At least they did some awesome work while they were out there. Great job to all those still out there doing the job. If it weren't for you, I wouldn't be on shore duty!!

1/11/2010 8:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

So does this plan count in the conversion of San Fran and La Jolla into MTS in a couple of years???? It's gonna be official soon.

1/11/2010 9:30 PM

Blogger Mark said...

So after all the money and work on the bow [re]attachment, the Frankencisco is gonna get welded to the pier...nice! Maybe they'll even put them on the West Coast somewhere and have a western prototype option again. Thanks for the tip.

1/11/2010 10:15 PM

Blogger Buck said...

Civilians in general have no idea what the SSNs do for a living and can't understand why we want *ANY*. After all, you can't use them in the mountains of Afghanistan...

We submarine advocates need to get the message out into the civilian world about the utility of SSNs. Not to mention that they are a long lead time program. Start by writing your Senators and Congressman...

1/12/2010 7:29 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

More OPTEMPO and deployments seemed to be the answer for the 715.

Maybe all it will take is a SUBMISS before these folks realize that they're riding the horse a bit too hard.

1/12/2010 7:47 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

And they wonder why they have to voluntold USNA grads to go subs.

1/12/2010 7:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, SSN's are no longer least in any meaningful quantity.

Old habits still die hard in the Navy, so it seems.

1/12/2010 8:58 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

Sadly, SSN's are no longer least in any meaningful quantity.

Spoken like someone who has no idea what submarines do in the first place.

1/13/2010 12:07 AM

Anonymous NHSparky said...


I spent 307 days deployed or at sea my first year on Buffalo. We survived. Just because one command experiences heartache over it doesn't mean all are incapable. Buffalo's issues go far deeper than what we're being told at this point, methinks.

1/13/2010 12:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I served 3 years, 8 months in the Army as a UH-1 Helicopter Crew Chief and 8 years, 4 months in the Navy as a RO and RCLPO on the 704 boat. What you are trying to tell me is that the Army can send it's people to Afghanistan or Iraq for 12 to 15 months every other year and it's OK, but if a fast boat deploys for more than six months out of three years we will "break the force".

No disrespect intended, but give me a break! This is the US Navy were talking about. Why does everyone think that it is there god given right to spend 75% or their career(s) on shore duty.

Joe Alferio

1/13/2010 6:58 AM

Blogger a_former_elt_2jv said...

Having spent more than 1,000 nights sleeping on board the good ship 715, extending those deployments isn't a good thing. The Army and surface fleets get phone calls and e-mail.

Going on missions for the 3-12 week time frame is too long to be out of touch. The stresses on the crew are harder. Between that, and the ORSE/Training requirements/Mando field day in port/painting/maintenance, there's too much going on to send these boats out more.

A solution would be the two crew system, but I doubt they ever do that....

1/13/2010 7:10 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If they went to two crews then the fast attack guys would have nothing to beat up the boomer guys for!

1/13/2010 8:06 AM

Blogger SJV said...


Not sure where you came up with "six months out of three years". And I don't see where anyone is saying that 12-15 month deployments for Army are okay. These are two vastly different missions, with vastly different levels of home front communication. We don't asked deployed units in the Army to have no contact (not even phone, e-mail, or letters) with their loved one's for months on end. That's what we do in the sub force.

But, war is hell.

1/13/2010 9:12 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...


OK, I'll admit that my 4+ years on a fast boat in the 80's doesn't even qualify me to have an opinion, but I would like to make the point that the boats on Westpac and Med Runs are not continuously submerged on patrol unable to communicate with the world. I seem to recall getting mail and making port calls in the Med in '86.

Joe Alferio

1/13/2010 9:29 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would MUCH rather deploy for an extra 2-3 months than spend that time doing local ops. The highlight of each of my 3 SSN tours was deploying. The highlight of my SSBN tour was DASO (including a Panama Canal xsit). Extended deployments? Bring it on!

1/13/2010 10:21 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Deployed SSN and SSBN don't have to dodge nearly as many bullets and roadside IEDs as do those on the ground in the hot zones.

I did both SSN and SSBNs over 20+ years. Never got shot at nor had to worry about bombs blowing up at my feet.

Joe's right. How many troops have died since 2003? How many have died in deployed submarines during the same period. 12 to 15 month Army deployments are too long, and the isolation under that closed control room hatch for 75 days on an SSBN is just about right. SSNs go maybe 20-30 days between ports.

Unless bullets are wizzing past your rar, quit bitching.

Tom Klein

1/13/2010 10:48 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any how many of our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan have lost arms, legs, eyes, etc. since 2003?

And how many submarine sailors have also suffered injuries that resulted in lost appendages since 2003? There's no comparison.

So again, quit bitching about longer deployments. If you don't like the game, quit playing...

1/13/2010 10:57 AM

Blogger ret.cob said...

I've been retired for four years. I would deploy anywhere, anytime, with any outfit in any branch right about now...

1/13/2010 12:14 PM

Blogger 630-738 said...

Gotta admit, it's hard to make the old "6 months is a long time" argument when folks have been deploying for 12-14 months in Irag/Afghanistan getting shot at and blown up for 8+ years now.

I'm curious about the conversion of 688's to MTS format? The last I heard, that was a non-player due to the cost involved in converting them to pier-welded format. Too much to get into here, but it is really expensive to convert a boat to MTS.

1/13/2010 12:45 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't like the game, quit playing...

- Exactly right.

Someone has to make the sacrifices. We do it so that everyone else doesn't. It seems like some people want all of the benefits of service with none of the the sacrifice.

Just move on to other opportunities when the sacrifices get too great.

1/13/2010 3:02 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Joe's right . . . SSNs go maybe 20-30 days between ports."

Maybe things have changed, but the "fast" boat I was on for four years from 86-90 ROUTINELY did 70+ day closed hatch "ops" with none of the creature comforts of T-hulls. I will admit that I was never shot at and managed to cope quite well, but it is apples and oranges to compare a ground unit deployment (being shot at or not) to a deployment with zero contact with those outside. Necessary? Only because of mismanagement, incompetence and malfeasance.

1/13/2010 3:37 PM

Blogger ssn bullnuke said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1/14/2010 1:32 PM

Blogger Srvd_SSN_CO said...

Another part of the article mentioned part of the downward pressure was due to future SSBN procurement. If we bought less of those we would have money for more SSNs.

The real problem is the budget. It takes a lot of money to keep the all-vol force and money on people now exceeds money for stuff. Too bad you cannot have a Navy without people AND ships. At least we are building VAs now, the SWOs have it worse.

As for missions and out of date, when the PRC gets that ASBM working CVNs are going to be little more than big targets. Carriers today operate in permissive environments for the sole purpose of land attack.

The sub numbers are not about keeping ships underway more on deployment as much as having them in-theater for contingencies.

As for SFO/LAJ, if the rumor of MTS duty is true, that will likely start when their hull life runs out.

1/15/2010 1:38 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mr. Klein, we have been very fortunate that our fast attack boats have not had to employed in combat such as those endured by our service members in Iraq and the 'Stan. That being said, it is not an argument that does away with the usefullness of the Silent Service. There are still nations that wish to do our nation harm, and these nations are working very hard on building their own submarine force. The only efficient means for countering that threat is a viable submarine force, and the exceptionlly lethal anc capable SSNs.

We must maintain this force. If the day ever comes that we are faced with an undersea threat, we will wonder where all the SSNs are at. By then, we will be screwed.

BTW, I've been hearing a lot of arguments from the skimmer side that cutting two SSNs will give us three SSKs. I think this dumber than dirt. Thought you should know...

1/17/2010 7:02 AM

Blogger Brian said...

Comparing Army and Navy deployments are like comparing apples and oranges. They are not the same for a number of reasons.
1) as many mentioned, in general, Submariners in submarines don't get shot at or face IED's
2) many also addressed the different levels of contact w/ home- Soldiers often do, Submariners often don't.
3) 150 men are confined to a tube on a sub- not so in the Army.
4) The submarine experiences wear and tear on mission critical and life sustaining equipent while deployed.
5) They are doing 12-15 mo's, SSN's are doing 6-9 mo's.

These are just some of the differences. Some better, some worse, but all different.

Army's OPTEMPO comes at a cost, and the Army is aware of it. If Subarines increase the OPTEMPO further, it must be done with a recognition of the costs. Lay off the us vs. them arguments, or the grass is always greener thoughts- we are all on the same team.

Contrary to some of the comments posted, SSN's (and SSGN's for that matter) are not just about contingencies. They are needed on mission. Their missions are not just time fillers- our country needs them.

It has also been suggested that SSN's make a lot of port calls. Fortunately, they still make some, but in the post 9/11 world, not nearly as many or as frequently.

The remarks about the growing threat by other nations is true, and if we are short on subs when a shooting war with a maritime power happens, we will be in trouble. Not only are we unable to build the submarines quickly enough, but the manpower and skills are not developed overnight either.
(We need SSN's whether engaged with maritime powers or not).

Two crews could be a viable method to get more forward time for the platforms, and that is a good deal for the crews, but the expense of that, and the limitted repair facilities make this an unlikely course of action.

Many of us would gladly trade time in local waters for a few months extended on deployment. There are training and certification challenges assoctiated with that, but it is a worth while trade off.

As for the MTS', it is an expensive conversion, but I, for one, am not ready to trust the complete nuclear training of our personnel to a computer. MTS' are a worthwhile investment.

1/23/2010 8:43 PM


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