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.)

Saturday, July 10, 2010

TDU-Launched Comms Buoy

I found a couple of neat articles (here and here) on a new system that's supposed to start testing next year. Part of the "Comms at Speed and Depth" (CSD) Program, it's described as a communications buoy that links a submarine to the Global Information Grid through a miles-long tether; the 40 inch long buoy is launched from the TDU, then floats near the surface while the submarine continues operating normally, in constant communications with bothersome bigwigs. Other than concerns about running at speed and depth with the TDU Muzzle Ball Valve open, it sounds like a promising concept to me.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Given the garbage you get out of some "bigwigs", I guess there is poetic justice in launching the comms buoy out of the TDU!

7/10/2010 10:17 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Would call this fundamentally "unsat" in terms of maintaining subsafe criteria.

Is there any other case of single-valve protection...and with a full TDU diameter's worth at that?

Moreover, isn't a TDU failure one of the very credible explanations -- if not the top explanation -- behind the loss of USS Scorpion?

I smell skimmers behind this dumbass idea.

7/10/2010 10:42 AM

Anonymous T said...

We've been talking about these a lot at work, and honestly, I don't see the point in them. The tethered buoys only last 30 minutes on their batteries and the untethered ones communicate acoustically with the submarine, meaning the sub will have to be pinging away at some frequency just to talk to the buoy, which clearly is kind of a drawback.

But the big reason I see them as semi-worthless, is that they scuttle themselves, and they're clearly not going to be "free". The article doesn't mention the cost per buoy, but I don't think I'm off base by saying it's in the tens of thousands per buoy. Who has the budget to use these things regularly? And what situation would warrant it? I can only think of a handful of situations that it MIGHT be useful.

Obviously the Carter probably has the budget to use these, and I could see an SSGN doing seal ops off a country with no ASW capability using the untethered ones... however if the country has no ASW capability, why not just go to PD?

If they get the laser communication going I think they've really gotten something... this, not so much.

On another note, has anyone ever actually used a SSIXS buoy? A

7/10/2010 11:23 AM

Blogger Oz said...

It's not a SUBSAFE problem. Operating the TDU is a REC exception.

Rig for dive, on the other hand...

7/10/2010 11:43 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It IS a Subsafe problem: no one runs around with their TDU ball valve open for any longer than it takes to flush the trash.

Breaking rig for dive momentarily is one thing, having the TDU ball valve almost continuously open for the comms thing is dumbass...and a violation of the two-valve Subsafe philosophy.

7/10/2010 12:57 PM

Blogger Oz said...

TDU operations IAW approved procedures are permissible, and presumably there would be procedures written and approved by NAVSEA to use this thing.

Nobody seems to worry about being single valve when you shoot an SSXBT. If that hole's too small for you, we do the same thing when we shoot an ADCAP - you have to keep the outer door open if you want to keep the wire intact.

Actually, a more likely problem would seem to be fouling the screw with the wire for this buoy. It looks like they thought about preventing that during launch, but wouldn't the forward motion of the ship afterward tend to pull the wire taut against the keel - and as a result into the screw?

7/10/2010 2:08 PM

Blogger Bubblehead said...

Since the newer ships have propulsors vice screws, it wouldn't be as big a risk for fouling the screw. Maybe it's only planned for use with the Seawolfs and Virginias.

7/10/2010 5:30 PM

Blogger Oz said...

I hadn't thought of that, Joel. Fair enough.

7/10/2010 5:44 PM

Anonymous NHSparky said...

I'm sorry, the thought of the TDU ball valve open for any reason other than shooting trash at PD kinda increases the pucker factor by about 1000. On the surface (no pun intended) it holds potential much like the buoys on a T-hull, but SSN's simply weren't designed with that capability, nor am I sure it's all that necessary.

7/10/2010 8:32 PM

Anonymous T said...


If you look at the Wired article, the two systems are launched from two different places.

The wireless one comes from the TDU, so yes you'd be single valve to sea, but only temporarily.... You'd also have to slow down to deploy it, if I remember my SSM's correctly.

But the Wired one appears to launch somewhere just aft of the sail near the deck. I would guess it's 3 in or 6" launcher, but I was only a SSBN, and that is further aft on those ships, IIRC.

That said, I still don't get "the point" of this. In a practical sense I think they'd be a lot less useful than it seems on paper.

7/10/2010 11:41 PM

Blogger Oz said...


Looking at it again, it makes a lot more sense. Thanks.

7/11/2010 5:58 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

CYA does not work unless there is a plausible path for $hit to roll down to sub COs.

Imagine the confusion that will be suddenly dispelled with high bit-rate CDS from some SOPA on a carrier in a task force of various skimmers, one (or more) of our subs, two or more enemy subs, and several detected unidentified subs, some foreign intelligence vessels, and perhaps a fish in the water.

Lets confuse our most effective assets with frantic, last-minute direction from tentative flagships in plain sight trying to assert authority in a battlespace tracked by SWOs. The enemy should be very pleased with such folly, which will not only invite delays it will render subs more susceptible to sudden eliminations and replacements of successive SOPAs.

Karoun of Philly

7/11/2010 2:57 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

No way the speed, depth, or angle restrictions would allow any justifiable or practical use. Horrible idea. TDU is for getting rid of unwanted refuge. "Can" that program and save the tax payers some money and give submarines a few more dollars to stop putting off the countless repairs needed to stay safely operational.

7/11/2010 7:53 PM

Anonymous What I said...

@anon 7:53

That's what I say too, get rid of the refuge! Who needs it!

7/12/2010 12:01 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

{"Can" that program}

You need to be slapped. I agree with you but, you still need to be slapped.

Hell, you should slap yourself.

7/12/2010 3:31 PM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

glad somebody got it...

7/13/2010 6:28 AM

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