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Gertrude Check:  Before political correctness, a universal navy term for requesting an underwater telephone check with another boat or skimmer.

Links> USSVI/ Constitution/ Bylaws/ PPM/2010 IRS Return/ American Submariner/ Subvet News/2012 Convention/2013 Convention/Base Bylaws/ Base Web Site <Links

 

Base Meetings are on the 3rd Tue of the month (except Aug & Dec), starting sharply at 1900, at the FRA Branch #29 Facility, 521 National Ave, Bremerton WA (MAP)

USSVI Bremerton Base, P.O. Box 465, Silverdale, WA 98383-0465

Issue date: 01-09-2012

Updated

Friday, January 13, 2012 07:50 AM

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1-6-2012 Shipmate Goes on Eternal Patrol  Base member Robert C. Welsh (MMCM(SS) ret) went on eternal patrol on January 3, 2012. Bob qualified on Sculpin (1969) and went on to serve in Seahorse, Gurnard and Thomas A. Edison.


Bob's funeral is at 2:30 PM on Friday, 1/13/12 at Rill Chapel in Port Orchard.
 Obituary will be posted when available.
 

1-3-2012 "Voices of the Great War" with USSVI member & Author / Museum of Flight Docent Don Ulmer

Time: Saturday, January 14, 2012 - 2:00pm
Event Type:Public Program
Location: William M. Allen Theater
Museum of Flight docent-author Don Ulmer will present "Voices of the Great War," a true story behind his recent novella of World War I, "Where or When." Ulmer, captivated by this story since first hearing it seventy-one years ago, delved into surviving journals, letters and photos passed down by 1st Lieutenant Malcom Gunn, Word War I aviator, and his childhood sweetheart Marge Van Sciver. Provided by Marge’s nephew and Ulmer’s lifelong friend, these artifacts unravel an intriguing, bittersweet yarn. Ulmer presents ‘then and now’ photos and spices his talk with film clips from a musical play based on his story, "Canadiyanks," presented at the Museum in May 2009. The Alpha Singers’ choral group of greater Seattle skillfully renders a blend of stirring, toe-tapping songs of World War I.


Join us at the Museum of Flight William Allen Auditorium at 2:00 p.m. Saturday 14 January 2012. Listen to Voices of the Great War, its timeless music, and the poignant saga of Marge and Malcom.


This program is included with Museum admission and is Free for members of the Museum of Flight.

 

12-31-2011 WII Vet, HC & Life Member Succumbs Theodore Kenneth Russell, 85 of Bremerton, WA, passed away 28 Dec 2011 at Harrison Medical Center after struggling with pneumonia and other pulmonary disorders. ENCM(SS) (ret) Ted qualified on Pampanito in 1944 and participated in her 4th, 5th and 6th war patrols. He completed a 30 year Navy career serving in Carp, Caiman, Alexander Hamilton, Stonewall Jackson and Ethan Allen. Sailor, rest your oar!

 

Per Ted's request, no service is planned. Ted also requested he be buried at sea. Cards and letters may be sent C/O Annetta Varner, 1511 Carr Blvd, Bremerton WA, 98312. Read more http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2011/dec/30/theodore-kenneth-russell-85/

 

12-21-2011  Bremerton Base Presents Gifts to Residents of WA State Veterans Home, Retsil Yesterday, Tuesday, Dec 20th, four base members, L-R, Ralph Harris, Tommy Robinson, Don Bassler led by Chaplain Fred Borgmann, presented a variety gifts donated by individuals, businesses and the base to Retsil Superintendent Don Veverka (center of image).   Don was accompanied by his assistants, Dax Dowling and  Tami Reuter. The gifts given from the base were cards and stickers, 56 books of postage stamps, phone cards (15) & cards.  Other gifts donated by individuals and businesses were 7 models (ships and planes) and a lot of glue (Dennis Wendt) and a case of playing cards courtesy of Jim DeMott and Chips Casino.


12-21-2011 Puget Sound Naval Museum Here are some pictures of the special warfare section of the Puget Sound Naval Museum that features submarines. There are interactive exhibits for sonar and ships course. Also there is an excellent movie about the training and mission of the Navy Seals. I don't know if our membership is aware of these exhibits but in any case I will send them to you for inclusion in the Gertrude Check if you desire.

The Museum hours are:
1000 to 1600 Monday, Wednesday through Saturday and 1300 to 1600 Sunday.
The Museum is closed on Tuesdays until April.  Reporter Dutch Kaiser sends.

 

 

 

 



 

 

 



 

 

 

 

12-14-2011 SubVet News - #2011-115
=========================================================
NEWS-01: Thresher Memorial Dinner
Submitted by: T. Michael Bircumshaw on 12/9/2011

---------------------------------------------------------
Victoria Sallade, Granddaughter of Charles Wiggins FTGI(SS), is organizing a dinner for the former crew and families of those who served aboard the USS Thresher SSN-593 to be held on the 14th of April 2012 at 4:00pm in Portsmouth, NH. She is looking for contact information on surviving family members of the Crew and Officers of Thresher. If you have any information or would care to know more about the program and current status please contact Victoria at 609-519-1707 or bobjs36@aol.com.
 

11-25-2011 Deterrent Park Up Date Since the October 2011 brick installation, three sponsors have donated 4 engraved bricks to Deterrent Park.  They will be installed, with other donated bricks, in May 2012.  These sponsors are Barton, Davison and Aiello(2), Kolbeck(2) and Briggs.

 

An engraved brick for a loved one that served his/her country could be an everlasting memory.  You may want to consider one or more for Christmas presents or a gift for other occasions.  All the Park information you may want to know about the Park and an order form are online. (And the donation is IRS deductable.)

 

Updated 01-13-2012 2012 Annual National & Base Dues are Due by Dec 31, 2011 Dues schedule below.

 

Annual Dues are: National $20 + Base $20 = $40


Make a single check for $40 made out to USSVI Bremerton Base and give it to the Treasurer or mail it to PO Box 465, Silverdale, WA 98383

 

Life Membership Dues are in the table below.  Holland Club members are not except from national or base dues. (2011 change to base by-laws applies)  As an example, at the current annual rate of $40 National & Base dues, it would take a member  <45 years old about 19 years to = $750 National Life & base dues.  About 58 Bremerton Base members should take a look.

 

Age Nat $ Base $ Total $ 
<45 500 250 750
46-55 400 150 550
56-65 300 100 400
66-75 200 50 250
76> 100 50 150

 

Over time, dues increase, so if you  have good intentions of sticking it out, please consider a life membership, no matter what your current age. (pay now or pay more later/GC ed)

 

 

BREMERTON BASE BOOSTERS for 2012

 

The following Members are recognized for their generous donations to the Base General Fund.
 
Rig for Dive Periscope Depth

Battle Stations

Deep Submergence Unit Citation
$1 - $19.99 $20.00 - $29.99

$30.00 - $49.99

$50.00 - $99.00 $100.00 +

THANKS SHIPMATES & FRIENDS of USSVI-BREMERTON BASE!

 

 

 

George Schaefer

Tudor Davis

Anonymous-WWII Vet

Updated: Jan 4, 2012. Thanks Shipmates

 


Soup Down: Fri, Jan 13,  1130
*The Aloha Kitchen 10516 Silverdale Way NW Silverdale, WA 98383


Join the Fun, click for Images

Complete Schedule linked here

*
Ltr of 2011 appreciation/request for 2012 gift certificate


Red

Gertrude Check
Founder & Editor

 


 

Other News of Interest to Submariners

 


Bangor galley earns 10th Five-Star award
By: Navy News Service

Naval Base Kitsap (NBK) Bangor’s Trident Inn Galley received its tenth consecutive Five-Star Excellence Award for food service during a ceremony held at the NBK-Bangor galley Jan. 6.  Read it all here
 

Navy Needs New Wharf For Trident Subs At Bangor
Mynorthwest.com, Jan 9, 2012

SEATTLE (AP) - The Navy plans to begin construction in July on a new $751 million wharf at the submarine base at Bangor.


The Navy says it's needed to handle upgraded nuclear ballistic missiles for the eight Pacific Trident submarines.


As the Pentagon prepares to issue the final environmental impact statement, The Seattle Times reports opponents question the spending at a time of Pentagon cutbacks and changing defense priorities.


Anti-nuclear activist
Tom Rogers of Poulsbo calls it a "Cold War relic."


The new Bangor wharf is supported by Congressman Norm Dicks and Kitsap County officials who expect the four-year project will create thousands of construction and support jobs

 

U.S. Strategy Boosts Navy Subs, Programs
Aviation Week, January 5

The new set of Pentagon priorities discussed Jan. 5 by President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta includes provisions that will likely bolster U.S. naval forces — but possibly dampen service plans for some proposed fleet upgrades.


The new strategy includes a refocus on the Asia-Pacific region — with several allusions to China — which, many defense analysts say, will surely make certain Navy programs more desirable given the greater need to access the region by sea.


The strategy also focuses on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, anti-access capability and undersea investments, which bodes well for submarine programs.
But the Pentagon’s renewed focus on readiness could cause the Navy to shift funds from procurement to repair needs.


In releasing the strategy, Obama says that, in particular, the nation will continue to invest in the capabilities critical to future success, including “intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; counterterrorism; countering weapons of mass destruction” and operating in areas “where adversaries deny us access.”


Panetta says of the future force, “It will have global presence, emphasizing the Asia-Pacific and the Middle East.” He says, “of necessity” the Pentagon will have to “rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific.”


Of particular concern, the Pentagon says, is China. “Over the long term, China’s emergence as a regional power will have the potential to affect the U.S. economy and our security in a variety of ways. The growth of China’s military power must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region,” the Defense Department says in its summary of the new strategy.


One of the primary missions of U.S. armed forces, the Pentagon says, is to “project power despite anti-access/area denial challenges.”


In these areas, “Sophisticated adversaries will use asymmetric capabilities to include ... ballistic and cruise missiles, advanced air defenses, mining and other methods,” the summary says. “States such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection.”


Accordingly, “The U.S. military will invest as required to ensure its ability to operate effectively in anti-access and area denial environments. This will include implementing the Joint Operational Access Concept, sustaining our undersea capabilities ... improving missile defense and continuing efforts to enhance the resiliency and effectiveness of critical space-based capabilities.”


While making such investments, the Pentagon says it must make sure it maintains its current assets, which has proved problematic for the U.S. Navy when it comes to taking care of its surface ships and equipment, especially its Aegis-equipped destroyers, cruisers and radar components.


Recent Navy reports underscore years of maintenance neglect and now, analysts say, the service faces a huge repair bill to fix and maintain those ships and systems — costs that could upend the Navy’s plans for a redesigned destroyer fleet and new radar system desired for missile defense.


“We will resist the temptation to sacrifice readiness in order to retain force structure,” the Pentagon says, “and will in fact rebuild readiness in areas that, by necessity, were de-emphasized over the past decade.”

 

Plan for new Navy wharf at Bangor fires up nuke debate
Seattle Times, January 8

WASHINGTON — The Cold War ended in 1991. But you might not know it to look at Naval Base Kitsap Bangor.


The base's eight nuclear submarines typically sail on patrol three times a year for up to 100 days at a stretch, much as they did before the Soviet Union disintegrated.


Three of those submarines might be on alert at any given time, and the entire fleet carries enough nuclear warheads on its Trident missiles to obliterate every major city in Russia and China.


Now the Navy wants a $715 million second munitions wharf to accommodate upgrade work on the missiles. The Pentagon is scheduled to issue its final environmental-impact statement early this year, one of the last major hurdles before the four-year construction can begin in July.


The Navy says expanding wharf capacity to load and unload weapons at Bangor is critical to defense readiness. But critics are trying to block it, calling it a costly, unneeded project for a bygone era.


The United States and Russia last year began a new round of whittling down their nuclear arsenals. Last week, the Obama administration released a much-awaited strategic shift in defense priorities, calling for, among other things, both fewer nuclear weapons as well as less reliance on them for national security.


And diminished federal budgets have even top Pentagon officials mulling the possibility that the U.S. eventually may drop one leg of its sea-land-air nuclear stance.


For Tom Rogers, of Poulsbo, those are more than enough reasons to scrap plans for the second weapons-handling wharf.


Rogers, a retired Navy captain turned anti-nuclear activist, was one of five dozen people who showed up at a public hearing in April at North Kitsap High School. The meeting was to discuss environmental consequences of building the 152,000-square-foot wharf on Hood Canal. But most of the attendees who spoke instead questioned why one needed to be built at all.


"Why are we doing this? We're spending a whole lot of taxpayer money on a Cold War relic," Rogers said in an interview. "All we are doing is making defense contractors rich."
Rogers, 65, served three decades on attack submarines at Naval Base San Diego. He believes the massive American nuclear stockpile makes little difference to such unstable nuclear states as North Korea or possible would-be player Iran. And it encourages potential enemies such as Russia or China to keep up their own inventory.


"We're not deterring anyone with those weapons right now," Rogers said. "This is ridiculous spending."


Navy: wharf "critical"


The Navy, however, argues the existing 1970s-era munitions wharf is simply inadequate. Over many years, the military will be upgrading the Trident II D5 missiles to extend their service through 2042.


The Navy estimates it would need 400 days of wharf access a year to remove and reinstall electronics components and perform other work. That's twice the number of days the existing wharf is currently available due to maintenance work and pile replacements.


Six other Trident submarines are based in the Atlantic in Kings Bay, Ga. Of the total fleet of 14 submarines, 12 are operational at a time.


In March, Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, testified in Congress that a second munitions wharf in the Pacific is "critical to nuclear weapons surety and our national security."
Roughead said the Navy has budgeted $715 million for the wharf. The fiscal 2012 military construction spending bill includes $78 million as the first installment.


Rep. Norm Dicks, D-Bremerton, the top Democrat on the House Appropriations Committee, said the Navy made "a very strong case" to justify the project.


Dicks said that compared with their predecessor Trident I C4 missiles, the newer missiles are more complex and handling them takes longer.


"I looked at this [wharf] very carefully. And I'm aware about the concerns about the necessity," he said. "I think this is a worthy project."


Dicks added the project will create sorely needed jobs. Kitsap County officials, who generally favor the project, also cited the new paychecks from the construction and related mitigation work.


According to the Navy's estimates, the wharf is expected to create 4,370 direct jobs and 1,970 indirect jobs. The Navy plans to use workers hired through local union halls.


Dicks contends the second wharf is warranted even though the number of submarines at Bangor likely will shrink in the future. The Navy is looking to replace the current fleet starting in 2029 with a new class of submarines. The Navy wants a dozen, at an estimated total cost of $100 billion. Some defense experts expect only 10 may get built, split between Pacific and Atlantic homeports.


Still, Dicks believes submarine-launched ballistic missiles have the "most secure" role in the nation's nuclear armament. He said it would make sense for the Pentagon to cut nuclear spending by reducing the number of land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles first.


Future unclear for subs


Michael Krepon, a security expert who blogs at armscontrolwonk.com, questioned how the second wharf would fit into a downsized nuclear — and fiscal — world.
"In times of great budgetary stringency, this appropriations ought to raise eyebrows," said Krepon, who was an aide to both Dicks and to his predecessor in the 6th Congressional District, Rep. Floyd Hicks.


The Navy has talked about the need for a second and even a third wharf at Bangor for more than 30 years.


Hans Kristensen, a nuclear expert at the Federation of American Scientists, said the Trident missiles are the "crown jewels" of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Yet Kristensen said it's possible that in 15 years, Bangor may have only five or six submarines.


"The real driver is, 'How many subs are going to be operating at the base in the future?' " Kristensen said. "This has to be taken into consideration."


According to inspection numbers under the New START Treaty with Russia, the United States as of Sept. 1 had 1,790 nuclear warheads deployed. The Russian Federation had 1,566. The treaty limits deployed warheads to 1,550 by 2018.


Each Trident submarine typically carries 20 missiles, each with four or five warheads. The new-generation subs would have 16 missile launchers.


But the size and purpose of future American nuclear forces is very much under debate. Kristensen believes the results of the strategic review announced by President Obama, who has pledged to end "Cold War thinking," could fundamentally reshape the role of nuclear weapons in the nation's defense.


Meanwhile, the federal budget deficit has given new impetus to re-examine the nation's nuclear spending. The Pentagon is facing a possible budget cut of $1 trillion over the next decade, or roughly 15 percent.


In October, 65 House Democrats, including Rep. Jim McDermott, of Seattle, sent a letter to the now-defunct congressional "supercommittee" on deficit reduction calling for cuts to an "outdated radioactive relic."


"Cut Minuteman missiles. Do not cut Medicare and Medicaid," they wrote. "Cut nuclear-armed B-52 and B-2 bombers. Do not cut Social Security."


Rogers, the retired submarine officer, contends that fears of a dangerous world and ignorance keep many citizens from asking hard questions about the Trident submarines. But if they did, Rogers said, there would be no second wharf.


"The American people could certainly stop it," he said. "Because it's stupid."

 

Water Drones
Defense News, January 9, 2012

The announcement called for technology so new it might exist only in the minds of inventors. Prospective contractors and analysts routinely compare the endeavor to the search for the Holy Grail.


In this case, the grail is an unmanned submarine smart enough to sense and avoid obstructions, powerful enough to stay out on months-long missions without detection, and cool enough to keep computers from overheating.


Those are among the challenges facing the companies and universities vying to provide ideas to the U.S. Navy about how to power and autonomously navigate a Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV), a development project led by the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR).


Proposals were submitted to the office in late September, with winners informed Dec. 19, although they won't necessarily be publicly identified, ONR said. The Navy wants to gather up ideas and technologies from organizations that might not be equipped to build an entire vessel. A major company then could be hired to integrate the parts.


At the top of the list of challenges would be power and heat. Development of futuristic sensors and processing software will be moot if those issues cannot be managed. Complicating matters, the Navy has ruled out nuclear power because no human would be aboard to address an emergency.


"People might say, 'I've got the Holy Grail. I've got the engine and I've got the fuel,'" said Robert Nowak, an independent energy consultant who has run programs for ONR and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency. But that's only true if the heat that engine puts out from that fuel doesn't play havoc with the other systems onboard.


Once those issues are solved, "sensing and avoiding a fishing net are going to be the Holy Grail," said Jeff Smith, projects manager of Bluefin Robotics, which is working on autonomous control for unmanned submarines. "The number of dolphins and seals that get caught in nets is not insignificant. Let's face it: As smart as we are with unmanned vehicles, we're never going to come close to a dolphin or a seal when it comes to their situational awareness."


Power Quest


ONR's July announcement seeks ideas for enough energy for the craft to remain at sea for 70 days or longer in open-ocean transit with operations as deep as 800 feet. The craft will need the autonomy to conduct missions in littoral waters, amid local merchant shipping, fishing boats and nets. As a steppingstone, ONR has set a goal of power and autonomy for a 30-day mission, including operations at depths down to 400 feet.


These quests, particularly power generation and storage, have become the signature problems in building a prototype of what is envisioned as a 48-inch-diameter vehicle with a fiberglass hull to defeat sonar.


The Navy's Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Roadmap calls for building an LDUUV by 2014 and having it on missions by 2017. It envisions a fleet of LDUUVs by the end of the decade.


Job No. 1 will be proving the energy technologies required for such a vehicle.


"The higher-ups in the Navy are emphasizing this and saying, 'If you can't develop the energy we need, we can't do the mission,'" said Nowak, who is not affiliated with the program.
The ISR Roadmap directs funding "UUV power and Endurance first," then "sensors, C3, networks and autonomy."


Chief among those higher-ups was now-retired Adm. Gary Roughead, who was chief of naval operations until September. Roughead laid out a vision of LDUUVs as submarine-force multipliers providing persistent ISR, a capability the Navy can't get from smaller unmanned subs that measure their mission capability in hours.


"I cast the net widely in the continued pursuit of high-density underwater power," Roughead said at August's Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International conference in Washington. "That clearly is something that will be a game-changer for us."


As bait, he committed 50 percent of the Navy's research and development budget over the next five years to solving the energy problem for underwater vehicles, including LDUUV. The Navy is seeking $47 million for LDUUV work in the 2012 budget request.


The Navy is envisioning a different concept of operations for LDUUV compared with other robotic vehicles it has conceived of in the past, including the Long-term Mine Reconnaissance System and the Mission Reconfigurable UUV. The blueprint for those vehicles called for launching them from torpedo tubes and recovering them. The concept proved to be unworkable because, for example, the launch vehicles would have overcrowded torpedo rooms.


The Navy envisions the LDUUV leaving from a pier, doing its ISR work and returning, or perhaps being recovered by a surface ship away from the littorals. It sees a UUV that can loiter undetected long enough to map the sea bottom; track local submarine, merchant ship and fishing boat traffic; and detect mines, though a formal concept of operations has not yet been drafted.


With all of that in mind, the LDUUV will have an open software and hardware architecture to make it receptive to varying sensor suites to be replaced as missions change.
Smaller UUVs have done those missions for more than a decade, and the results have been subject to their range and payload capacity limitations. But the kind of endurance the Navy wants from the LDUUV requires the kind of energy that has remained elusive, and with cause, Nowak said.


Conventional power systems, which in the case of other unmanned vehicles means
batteries, need not apply.


"You will find that there aren't any batteries that are capable of meeting the requirements the Navy is looking for," Nowak said.


But fuel-only probably isn't the answer either. The Navy has a contract with AlumiFuel Power to experiment with smaller undersea vehicles driven by hydrogen cylinders. But while hydrogen's energy potential is widely known, its storage under compression in thick-skinned cells would present weight and volume issues in the LDUUV.


Other fuels are possible - much of industry and ONR were mum about their ideas while proposals were being evaluated - but Nowak posits that some combination of power is more likely.


The longevity issue can become complicated by problems accumulated along the way on a voyage.


"Endurance is more than just putting out power," said Antoine Martin, president of Unmanned Vehicle Systems-Consulting, who recently completed a comprehensive study of power for robotic vehicles. "It's being able to manage the power you have, being able to play with the materials in the hull of the UUV so that it doesn't develop drag by accumulating particles at sea."


Barnacles or algae growing on a slow-moving UUV could hamper its performance, as could saltwater corrosion, storm damage, ice and myriad other potential problems.
"All of this is a long step from where we are today," Martin said.

 

Sleep Well You Men of Indy's Crew © Bob Welsh 2011

Military to be pared, but not necessarily in Kitsap

By Ed Friedrich, Kitsap sun


—President Obama and top military brass published their guidelines Thursday to strategically cut billions of dollars from the defense budget over the next decade. It looks like the Northwest Navy could avoid most of the lopping......

 

"I think we're going to be fine," U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks said of Puget Sound Navy bases. "The emphasis is on the Pacific. With the problems in North Korea and China's growing military capability and our major trade commitments in that area, it's going to be a positive for our area."


Guy Stitt (base life member), longtime Puget Sound Naval Bases Association board member, thought the same thing when he read the document. It's good for the Navy overall and even better for the Pacific Navy....

Read more: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2012/jan/05/military-to-be-pared-but-not-necessarily-here/#ixzz1igf60UIJ

 

Submarines Connecticut, Nebraska, Michigan win battle efficiency awards

 

Pearl Harbor, Hawaii —Three Bangor-based submarines received 2011 Battle Efficiency Awards, given to one boat per squadron for technical performance and combat readiness. The commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet submarine force announced the winners Jan. 1.


USS Connecticut won for Development Squadron 5 (comprising three Seawolf-class attack subs), USS Nebraska Blue and Gold crews for Squadron 17 (six ballistic missile subs), and USS Michigan Blue Crew for Squadron 19 (two ballistic missile subs and two guided missile subs

Read more: http://www.kitsapsun.com/news/2012/jan/03/submarines-connecticut-nebraska-michigan-win/#ixzz1iVGRWRFE

 

Submarine Force 2011 Year In Review
COMSUBFOR Public Affairs, Dec. 31

Link to video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=491vj0W82-Y&context=C3921e5bADOEgsToPDskKYBGl6tws5CmFsKmQQeY97
 

 

China’s Noisy Subs Get Busier — And Easier To Track
Wired, December 27

The military’s latest secret assessment of China’s rapidly modernizing submarines has good news and bad news for the U.S. Navy. On one hand, the roughly 60 submarines in the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) fleet are spending more and more time on combat-ready patrols — signaling China’s increasing naval competence and growing seriousness about influencing the western Pacific Ocean.


On the other hand, the flurry of undersea activity gives American forces more opportunities to tail and examine Chinese subs. And U.S. analysts discovered a silver lining in the gathering strategic storm clouds. Chinese submarines are a hell of a lot noisier than anyone expected. The sound you hear is the Pacific balance of power tipping in Washington’s favor.


As recently as 2007, China’s diesel-powered subs and a handful of nuclear-propelled models managed just a few patrols per year, combined. Two years before that, none of Beijing’s undersea boats went on patrol. For years, the majority of PLAN submarines remained tied up at naval bases, sidelined by mechanical problems and a shortage of adequately trained crews.


As long as the PLAN’s submarines were idle, the U.S. Navy’s spy planes, surveillance ships and snooping subs had few opportunities to assess China’s undersea capabilities — and, most importantly, how much noise the Chinese generate while submerged and moving. Navies can use passive sonars to track submarines by the sounds they make. The louder a vessel, the easier it is to detect. And destroy.


With little information to go on, American intelligence officials had to guess. In cases like that, “you guess conservatively,” a respected U.S.-based naval analyst tells Danger Room on the condition of anonymity. The conservative estimates placed the latest PLAN subs roughly a decade behind the state-of-art for Russian submarines — and potentially 20 years behind U.S.

 undersea technology.


Now Chinese subs are patrolling more frequently. “Within the last year or two the Chinese have begun to deploy diesel boats more frequently into places like the Philippines Sea,” the analyst reveals. More and better data is flowing in from U.S. forces. With that data, the Navy conducted a fresh assessment of PLAN submarines. The unnamed analyst attended a classified briefing based on the assessment.


The assessment’s biggest surprise: Leaving aside the PLAN’s dozen imported Russian subs, new Chinese submarines can be detected at what’s known as the “first convergence zone,” a ring approximately 25 miles from an undersea vessel where outward-traveling sound waves pack close together.


During the Cold War, the U.S. Navy would arrange its own submarines in lines where each boat was 25 miles from the next, forming a sort of net to catch Soviet subs. With the introduction of the latest generation of quiet Russian diesel subs in the 1990s, the Americans thought that convergence-zone detection was no longer possible. But the Navy’s just discovered that China’s homemade subs are even louder than 20-year-old Russian boats. “Apparently they [U.S. subs] are making first convergence zone detections and holding them,” the analyst reports.


Assuming the Chinese stay with their current sub designs, American submarines should be capable of swiftly defeating Chinese boats in any potential future shooting war — helping clear the way for U.S. aircraft carriers to strike Chinese land targets. Combined with a slowdown in Chinese sub production, and the recent doubling of America’s submarine build-rate, the noise revelation could lead to a radical recalculation of the Pacific balance of power.


The U.S. Navy had a comfortable technological lead over the PLAN even before the increased Chinese sub activity fueled the recent intelligence coup. Now that lead has gotten even wider. And noisier.

 

Take A Ride On The USS Chicago
NBC Chicago, December 22

Chicago's namesake nuclear submarine has close ties to the city. Ride along with a group of dedicated civilian supporters as they find out what life's like beneath the waves.
Link to video: http://www.nbcchicago.com/video/#!/on-air/as-seen-on/Take-a-Ride-on-the-USS-Chicago/136115133
 

Navy To Launch Kamikaze Drone From Submarine
Tucson Citizen, December 26

Unmanned aerial warfare is heading underwater. The Navy is preparing to test-launch a small, kamikaze drone from a submarine next year, Defense Tech reports.


The Switchblade drone, essentially a self-propelled, remotely guided missile, will be enclosed in a special launch canister and fired from one the sub’s trash chutes at periscope depth, Def Tech explains, citing Aviation Week. The canister floats to the surface, where the electric-motor, folded-wing drone launches itself.


Here’s an illustration.


The launch is planned during the biennial RIMPAC, billed as “the world’s largest multi-national maritime exercise,” next year in Hawaii.


The Army has used the Switchblade against Taliban targets and will resume such attacks next year, Bloomberg reported in October. The aircraft can be carried in a soldier’s backpack.


The Army paid AeroVironment $4.9 million this summer for a small initial squadron of Switchblades. More on that from Wired.


Here’s how the manufacturer describes its little killer:


The Switchblade is designed to provide the warfighter with a “magic bullet”. It can rapidly provide a powerful, but expendable miniature flying Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) package on a Beyond Line-of-Sight (BLOS) target within minutes. This miniature, remotely-piloted or autonomous platform can either glide or propel itself via quiet electric propulsion, providing real-time GPS coordinates and video for information gathering, targeting, or feature/object recognition. The vehicle’s small size and quiet motor make it difficult to detect, recognize, and track even at very close range. The Switchblade is fully scalable and can be launched from a variety of air and ground platforms.


Def Tech wonders “how the Navy controls the tiny UAVs without signals from its subs being detected.”


Defense Review, which declares itself “a big fan” of armed drones, offers its assessment of the Switchblade.
 

 


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