Sub Threats Top Priority

Monday, October 03, 2005
In November, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force plane noticed a suspicious object in Japanese waters off Okinawa.

News reports at the time said it was a Chinese submarine scouting coastal water routes. The observation sparked a small international incident and illustrated the rising threat of one of the most dangerous weapon platforms available, defense analysts say.

The amazing firepower of submarines, according to a congressional report, can take out ships and, if armed with cruise or nuclear missiles, even cities. They also can be used to spy, eavesdrop, transport Special Forces troops or float silently, awaiting the call to launch an offensive.

They can cut off an army’s supplies by impeding military sea- lifts and can disrupt commercial trade to entire nations.

Those capabilities, and their ability virtually to disappear, have elevated submarines to one of the key threats facing the U.S. Navy, according to the commander of all naval assets from San Diego to Africa, aside from the Persian Gulf.

Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Gary Roughead said he’s made anti-submarine warfare, or ASW, his biggest priority since assuming command this summer. “If you want to be able to move freely” at sea “and have commerce flowing freely, you have to be able to overcome any submarine threat that exists,” Roughead told Stars and Stripes when visiting Japan last week.

Some 250 non-U.S. subs are believed to be in the Asia-Pacific region alone, he said.

The danger they represent and the means to track them has not changed much since the Cold War. But their numbers, capabilities and the countries now owning them means the U.S. Navy and allies must bolster their ability to find, track and, if needed, destroy them, he said.

China has 70 submarines, the Heritage Foundation reported in March. North Korea has 76, the world’s fourth-largest sub fleet.

Those subs could be monitoring military exercises or movements or tapping into communication channels. “The threat is hard to quantify because they’re hard to detect,” said Lt. Cmdr. Allen L. Edmiston, 7th Fleet Submarine Operations officer.

Salinity, topography and a host of other factors make detecting or “hearing” a sub underwater difficult, he said: “Sound goes through water in a special way.”

Improvements in underwater detection technology make the job easier but it still takes coordinated effort by the Navy’s ASW triad: helicopters and P-3 sub hunters in the air, ships on the surface and the Navy’s own submarine force.

To improve sub-tracking skills, Roughead said, he implemented “a cyclic approach” to training, using more frequent quarterly assessments. “We’re going to say, ‘OK, what all are we doing in ASW? What objectives did we have? Did we realize those and then what are we going to be doing in the next quarter?’”

The cycles include training exercises with other navies and integrating new technologies. Among them is Composable Force Net, which integrates and displays multiple sources of information quickly for faster decision-making, Roughead said. It gives submarines an immediate view of something detected by a plane, for example.

Another new program uses sensors and other technology to form a “maritime shield.” According to a Pacific Fleet news release, it tells sonar operators about the ocean environment, helping them avoid obstacles underwater and allowing them to choose the best acoustic sensors for the environment.

ASW even is cropping up in other types of training. During this summer’s Singapore phase of Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training — a general naval training exercise — Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light 45 pilots had the rare opportunity to hunt a real Singaporean navy submarine.

Helicopter pilots usually hunt subs solely in simulators, said pilot Lt. j.g. Amy Sadeghzadeh.

Roughead said that type of training opportunity, with more or larger-scale ASW-specific training, will help the U.S. Navy remain dominant. “Make no mistake, we are very good at anti-submarine warfare,” Roughead said. “But as we look at how capability is growing in the world, we can’t simply sit here” and be satisfied with that.

By Jennifer H. Svan, Stars and Stripes Pacific edition, Monday, October 3, 2005

Maritime Today

The Maritime Industry's original and most viewed E-News Service

Maritime Reporter November 2015 Digital Edition
FREE Maritime Reporter Subscription
Latest Maritime News    rss feeds


DP World, SCA Pact for Ain Sokhna Port Development

Suez Canal Authority (SCA) and the Red Sea Ports Authority signed an agreement with Dubai Ports World (DP World) and Sonker Bunkering Company for the development of Egypt’s Ain Sokhna seaport,

BIMCO Signs New LNG And Shipbuilding Supervision Contracts

The twice yearly meeting of BIMCO’s Documentary Committee took place in Hamburg on 19 November. In his first meeting as Chairperson of the Committee, Belgium’s

Extended Warranty from Yanmar for Sailboat Engines

Yanmar Marine International B.V. has introduced an extended 3 years’ period of YANMAR Limited Warranty for Sailboat Engine Models. This extended warranty of


North Korea Submarine-Launch Missile a Flop Show

North Korea apparently failed to launch a ballistic missile from a submarine in a sign that Pyongyang has yet to master the technology, Yonhap news agency quoted a government official as saying.

Maersk to Idle Vessel

The world's biggest container-ship operator Maersk Line  has confirmed market talk that it has temporarily idled one of its largest vessels - yet another sign that the industry is in dire straits,

Russian Navy Trying Hard for Facelift

Official announcements related to naval shipbuilding give the appearance of a Russian Navy that is undergoing a rapid revival. However, the reality is that many

Maritime Careers / Shipboard Positions Maritime Contracts Maritime Security Naval Architecture Pipelines Pod Propulsion Salvage Ship Electronics Sonar Winch
rss | archive | history | articles | privacy | contributors | top maritime news | about us | copyright | maritime magazines
maritime security news | shipbuilding news | maritime industry | shipping news | maritime reporting | workboats news | ship design | maritime business

Time taken: 0.0826 sec (12 req/sec)